Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Why Reserve the Reliquae?

The discussion continues unabated, and I am pleased to find that some even find it edifying. It started, I think, over a post I rather offhandedly made in late January, at Gottesdienst Online about my desire to return to the historic historic readings. This was quickly picked up at HistoricLectionary.com, and some folks offhandedly remarked that I was all about innovation. I replied, huh? It turned out that some were a bit uncomfortable about my use of the tabernacle, and so I pulled the discussion in here, at my own blog, first with this post, and then with this one. In all, I count 144 comments made on this matter, in the space of about half a month. As Venkman has noted, it's about as much writing as some M.Div. theses.

Fr. Skillman has recently provided a nice summary on the nature of the entire discussion:

"This and the last major post have constituted a great discussion. Would you agree?

"The questioners are usually thoughtful, kind, and direct. The answerers (yourself included, of course) are thought provoking. I still have some confusion on this subject, but I have been edified by the discussion.

"I trust no one here thinks that this is keeping them from their 'real ministry'. I believe that discussions such as these are part of the 'real ministry'.

"Anyway, what a wonderful discussion. Thanks to you, our host, and the other participants."

I agree, Fr. Skillman, and thank you, too.

Fr. Messer, I alao appreciate your fine impersonation of me in my brief absence yesterday; I am truly flattered. Thank you. And you are right, of course; I couldn't have said better myself what you said:

"Thanks much [to interlocutor Michael Francis] for clarifying your logic. I now understand where you are having trouble with Fr. Eckardt's practice, although I'm confused about your assertion that the only inference you can make regarding Fr. Eckardt's desire to always keep something in reserve is that he does so for the sake of adoration (so that he might always have something to which he might genuflect).

"The reason for my confusion here is because I thought he already gave answer to this above when he stated that he always keeps something in reserve in case an emergency arises and he needs to distribute the Sacrament. His answer was not, 'I always keep something in reserve so that I might have something to adore and something to which I might offer my genuflection'. Why, then, must the only inference at which you can arrive be that he always keeps something in reserve for adoration? It seems to me that another possible inference (indeed, even a solid conclusion) is that he always keeps something in reserve so that he might have the Body and Blood of Christ available for distribution. Thus, where you see a 'glaring contradiction', I see a faithful consistency in his practice.

"Nevertheless, I should probably bow out and allow Fr. Eckardt to speak for himself."

Fr. Messer, you saved me the trouble and time of figuring out how to say the same thing. Again, thanks.

Honestly I have been a bit mystified by Michael Francis' continual allegations that I am being evasive. Rev. McCain makes the same claim, of course. It's a clever ploy to say someone's being evasive rather than to say either that you don't understand what he's saying, or that you simply don't agree with it.

What's puzzling to some is the fact that Mr. Francis is calling me inconsistent because I said that if I were called out to an emergency on a Saturday night, and only one host remained, I would still break it in half and leave half behind. Now the practical answer to that should be self-evident. What if, on returning, say, at 11 p.m. and going home, I should be called out at 2 a.m. on yet another emergency? Responsible reservation dictates perpetual reservation, for this expressed reason: the nature of an emergency is that one never knows when it will happen.

In addition, however, this practice also prevents the awkwardness of having to indicate to parishioners arriving on a Sunday morning after an emergency in which the last host was used, that there happened to be no Sacrament in reserve today, so be sure not to genuflect, for if you did so, you'd be doing so accidentally. To which most would look quizzically and say, huh? Much easier, and more effective, to teach that the elements are in reserve, the eternal light is always lit, and therefore be advised that it is appropriate to genuflect when you enter.

But actually, I'm slightly amused by the allegation that I'm being evasive. Evasiveness implies sneakiness, or having something to hide. Let's see, what could I have to hide? The fact that I desire to adore the body of Christ? But clearly I am not hiding that desire! Would that all the world knew of it!

But no, it's not really that, is it. It's the thought that I would only consecrate them to adore them, even though I made it clear that I meant to consume them (or have them consumed) at some point after adoring them. I guess that would mean it's the thought that I would mainly want to adore them, even more than wanting to consume them.

Well, let's suppose, just for the sake of argument, that that were true.

So what?

Would that constitute abuse?

I trow not. For I suggest that someone whose main desire, even during communion, is to consume, more than to adore, is the one who's really being abusive. Consider St. Paul's problem with the Corinthians: "For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? what shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not."

For if we consume without adoration--by which we must mean at least some form of acknowledgment of the Incarnate One--we have certainly become guilty of abuse of the Sacrament: "For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body."

Now just so nobody gets all rankled, I am not accusing anyone here of taking things that far; but I am seeking to draw out some questioning threads so that we might venture to see where they may logically lead.


Daniel Skillman said...

Fr. Eckardt,
These, I believe are the current questions.

1.)Would it constitute abuse if one wanted to adore the elements more than consume them?

2.)Would it constitute abuse if one wanted to consume the elements more than adore them?

While they are good questions, I do see at least one problem with them. That is this: Either might be answered faithfully (i.e. biblically & confessionally) in several, apparently contradictory ways.

For example, one might answer #1 in any of the following ways:

1a.) Yes it would constitute abuse. The purpose for which our Lord instituted the sacrament was consumption for the forgiveness of sins.

1b.) No, it would not constitute abuse. Adoration of Christ (i.e. faith in His word, true worship, true adoration) is the goal of the sacrament, and without this, although the sacrament is good in itself, it has been misused.

1c.) Yes & No. The question sets up false alternatives. Proper adoration always includes consumption and faithful consumption always included adoration.

Let me demonstrate the same with question #2.

2a.) Yes it would constitute abuse. Consider Paul, “In eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? what shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not." Consumption of the elements merely to feed one’s belly and get drunk is an abomination. (This was your answer Fr. Eckardt. I can see that it is a faithful one.)

2b.) No, it would not constitute abuse. The purpose for which our Lord instituted the sacrament was consumption for the forgiveness of sins. Condemned are those who shut up the elements for the sole purpose of adoration apart from consumption. One’s intention ought to be consumption in faith, not adoration apart from consumption. (The key here is “adoration apart from consumption,” and by that is meant abuses like one finds in Rome where consecration is in some cases for the express sole purpose of adoration. You (Fr. Eckardt) condemned this abuse earlier.)

2c.) Yes & No. Again, The question sets up false alternatives. Proper consumption always includes adoration and faithful adoration always includes consumption.
I don’t think that the above has exhausted the possible faithful, and unfortunately, apparently contradictory answers that might be given to the two questions on the table at present. But I do think that they demonstrate potential difficulties in understanding we might have if we pursue them as they stand.

If you could compose another question or two that might take the discussion down the track you wish it to go, I’d be much appreciative.

In the meantime, I’ll offer this one:

3.) Would it constitute abuse if one refused to adore the elements, prior to intended consumption, during the distribution (whether that distribution took place a.) over the course of one hour; or b.) over the course of one week)?

In Christ,
Daniel Skillman

Rev.Fr.Burnell F Eckardt said...

My questions arise out of an attempt on my part to understand why someone would want to discover a notion in my head that adoration is my real agenda (the reason I am being "evasive," etc.), and that reception by mouth is only secondary to that.

This has led me to wonder about the alternative, viz., a supposition that reception by mouth ought to be the real agenda, and adoration only secondary.

It may legitimately be couched as an either/or proposition, since either one or the other would presumably be preeminent. We are not talking about one in the exclusion of the other, but which is the supposed "real" reason behind reservation.

In other words, it was not I who first posed this as an either/or construct. Hence I think it is fair to ask:

Granted that both oral reception and adoration are requisite, which ought to be primary in the mind of the communicant?

Venkman said...

Bingo! Once again Father Eckardt hit the nail on the head. We always fight against the abuses of Rome (adoration apart from the use). Yet who is fighting against the abuse of "the use" apart from adoration?

Friends, isn't the Word of God fairly clear on the latter?

Daniel Skillman said...

Fr. Eckardt,

This, then, is the current question (let’s call it #4):

4.) Granted that both oral reception and adoration are requisite, which ought to be primary in the mind of the communicant?

One way of answering this would be as follows:

The words, “given and shed for your forgiveness” show us that forgiveness is given in the sacrament through these words. We must understand that it is not mere eating and drinking which does this, but rather the words, “given and shed for your forgiveness.” The eating and drinking are requisite. However, it is not merely the one who eats, but the one who believes these words, “given and shed for your forgiveness,” who has what they say. The person who receives the sacrament properly is the one who has faith in these words, “given and shed for your forgiveness.” The one who does not believe these words is unprepared and receives the sacrament unworthily.

Thus, if true adoration (i.e. worship) is faith, as we confess, then one would have to say that adoration is primary, as you have framed the question.
What do you think about this line of reasoning from the Scriptures?

In Christ,
Daniel Skillman

Rev.Fr.Burnell F Eckardt said...

I can't help myself.

When I read Fr. Skillman's comments, all I can think of is Sesame Street's Count von Count: I love to count! Ah! Ah! Ah!

Daniel Skillman said...

Fr. Eckardt,
You wrote, "all I can think of is Sesame Street's Count von Count:
I love to count! Ah! Ah! Ah!"

I'm familiar with the character, but I've never been compared to him. Please elaborate.

In Christ,
Daniel SKillman

Jeff said...

Stupid question:

Does Rome ever consume the elements they adore?

If the answer is no, what do they do with them? Once they're done being adored of course.

Rev.Fr.Burnell F Eckardt said...

Jeff, that's a good question, and to be honest I don't know the answer.

Venkman said...

That is a good question. I also wonder if how Rome handles it today has changed from how Rome handled it in Luther's day. My guess it has. I seem to recall Luther complaining somewhere about the bread getting moldy while in the monstrance. I can hardly see Rome doing something like that today.

Jeff said...

I have to say the semantics of this adoration/consumption discussion seem like they're talking past each other.

The one issue I'm still curious on is a discussion of why a pastor feels comfortable consecrating the mass at their church altar and not in a hospital room. Fr. Eckardt, you mentioned the accrutements as one reason- are there any others? Accepting that neither practice is wrong (I hope), what commends one over the other?

Your point that the verba should always be spoken is well taken, as a proclamation of Christ crucified- even when not used to consecrate the elements. Those words are the Gospel.

PS: Awhile back, Gottesdienst published a service for the distribution of reserved elements. Would it be possible to post that? Or at least point me to which issue it was found in? :)

Fr John W Fenton said...

For those interested:

The rubrics of the Roman liturgy (until 1970) clearly and explicitly stated that the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle was to be "refreshed" each week. In other words, the Blessed Sacrament which remained and was reserved was to be consumed and replaced with newly consecrated hosts. It was envisioned that the priest took care of this matter during the Sunday Mass.

Admittedly, this rubric was not applied in every instance everywhere. In other words, the consecrated hosts were not *always* refreshed weekly. Nevertheless, that which was consecrated was *always* consumed and *never* allowed to be desecrated (by being thrown out or flushed down) or corrupted (by mold, etc.--although there were rubrics to cover this instance should it happen through no fault of the priest.)

I believe that these rubrics remain in effect today, although I've not checked the latest edition of Roman Canon law.

Again, for those interested, the rubrics I've described above are the rubrics in effect in Western Orthodox churches. Eastern Orthodox churches have similar (but not identical) rubrics; namely, that the consecrated is *always* consumed.


Dcn. Muehlenbruch said...

To answer Jeff's question, "Does Rome ever consume the elements they adore?" - Yes.

A host that has been consecrated and placed in a monstrance for Benediction of Adoration, is usually renewed daily. At Mass two hosts are consecrated, one for the priests communion and the other for the monstrance. The one removed from the monstrance is consumed at this same Mass.

Rev.Fr.Burnell F Eckardt said...

. . . rather as I expected . . .

Thanks for the data.

Fr John W Fenton said...

Thank you, Deacon, for completing the answer to Jeff's question. I had meant to do so and was distracted.

Btw, the rubrics Dcn Muehlenbruch mentions are precisely those followed in Western Orthodox churches.

Paul McCain said...

Pr. Eckardt, given all you have said about why you choose to use a Tabernacle, why don't you choose to use a Monstrance?

Rev.Fr.Burnell F Eckardt said...

Too expensive.

Paul McCain said...

So....the zeal for adoration, outside the use of the sacrament, does have its limits, albeit, financial. Check. Oh, well, maybe it is the thought that counts after all.

Jeff said...

While Pr. McCain may have asked that sardonically, it is a fair question.

Do you see a difference between a tabernacle and a monstrance? Would you prefer one over the other (money being no object)? Is one right/wrong, or at least more prone to abuse than the other?

Monstrances are designed to hold only one host, correct?

Paul McCain said...

The question was asked sincerely. The response to the answer was in the way of an "in kind" response.

Now, having said, that, I'm also wondering why Pr. Eckardt and his congregation would leave Jesus all alone in the Tabernacle. Wouldn't it better to have perpetual adoration around the clock? And of course, my proof text is, "Could none of you watch with me one hour?" Matt. 26. Or perhaps that is a rubric for the proper time to adore the reserved host: no more than one hour.

I guess I'm looking for consistency, which I know is the hobgloblin of little minds, but hey, indulge me.

Oh, wait. Strike that word. Humor me. There, much better.

Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

One thing that Father Eckardt has clearly shown in this long discussion is that he does not practice an adoration "outside of the use," Paul McCain's continuing mischaracterizations not withstanding.

Rev. Thomas C. Messer said...

Rev. McCain,

Your "Liar, liar, pants on fire" approach is getting old, my friend. You don't believe Fr. Eckardt. We get it. Check!

You also want candid answers to your clear questions, while refusing to provide candid answers to clear questions asked of you. Got that, too. Check!

Now, you want to be indulged, er, humored with a response to your sarcastic, uncharitable, comments. Okay, we'll put a check next to this one, too.

At least you're being consistent.

Paul McCain said...

Pr. Eckardt, please do explain if you would, or would not, use a monstrance and why, even with a Tabernacle, you have not instituted perpetual adoration.

Why do you leave Jesus all alone?

Jeff said...

I'm relatively sure Jesus is being perpetually adored whether Fr. Eckardt is there or not.

Angels, archangels, the whole company of Heaven etc. all.


Jeff said...

Fr. Eckardt, one more point of clarification (and I apologize if this is a stupid question)- both the consecrated bread and wine are stored in the tabernacle, correct?

Rev.Fr.Burnell F Eckardt said...

Yes, Jeff, ironically my little "innovation" is not what some have alleged, but that I reserve both kinds.

As for Pr. McCain, who says his question was asked sincerely, I note that his sarcastic tone belies this claim.

Indeed the sarcasm is possibly ab bit more revealing than he might have desired. Consider his flippant "leave Jesus all alone in the Tabernacle" and his occasional "Jesus in a box" jabs. These are not the kinds of things people say who really do believe that Jesus is actually there.

If He is not there, when did He say that he left?

Paul McCain said...

Pr. Eckardt:

Why do you not use a monstrance?
Why do you not practice perpetual adoration?

Rev.Fr.Burnell F Eckardt said...

Pr. McCain:

Why do you not genuflect?
Why do you not practice any adoration?

Paul McCain said...

Pr. Eckardt, do I genuflect? Of course. Do I adore our Lord Christ? Of course. Every time the Lord's Supper is celebrate and I'm blessed to be there as either communicant or celebrant.

Now, given your position, why do you not use a monstrance? And why does your parish not practice perpetual adoration.

Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

Editor McCain,
You now claim that it is a matter "of course" that you adore the Blessed Sacrament by means of genuflection during the Mass. I speak of such rubrics on the Wittenberg Trail and you accuse me of being a Parisee and decry them as belonging to the 13th century doctrine of transubstantiation. I accept the claim that you genuflect, but it is in no way a matter of course that a man of your long standing and ongoing rhetoric behaves this way before the Sacrament, unless there are two Paul McCains, one in the parish that I would love to know, and the one on the Internet.

I also observe, on a positive note, that you claim of the adorable presence of our Lord, to be "blessed to be there." I consider that progress.

Paul McCain said...

Latif, lest you continue your public foolishness here, let's set the record straight.

What you did on WT was make several laymen feel guilty about going to a church where their pastor does not hold his fingers "just so" during the Eucharist and do any number of other things that are adiaphora. You went out of your way to make it very clear to them that they were somehow not doing the Lord's Supper correctly.

You've repeated your lies several times before, and no doubt will again. But, for what it is worth, I'll say it here that you are fabricating something that did not happen.

Paul McCain said...

Gaba, I was adoring our Lord in His Sacrament well before you were born, so you can stow your slanderous accusations.

Based on your comments here and elsewhere I am all the more convinced the seminary did the church a favor when they did not readmit you to the seminary.

Jeff said...

"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift."

I think several people on this blog would do well to meditate on our Lord's words before partaking tomorrow of the Christ we've all been talking about.

Like it or not- you're all joined together through the Lord's Supper into one body. Christ's body. We'd do well to forgive our brothers even as He forgives us. We'd also do well to speak everything we say in the kindest possible way.

Certain recent comments should have no place on this blog, or amongst Christians.

Ruth said...

Pastor McCain:

It provides me no enjoyment to engage in this sort of discourse, but occasionally I must dare to answer your lies. You wouldn't let me do so at your blog; it became difficult to do so at the Wittenberg Trail; but you have no ultimate power here.

You claim that I 'made several laymen feel guilty about going to a church where their pastor does not hold his fingers "just so" during the Eucharist and do any number of other things that are adiaphora.'

It is possible that there was felt guilt on the part of some. That in no way means that I made them feel guilty. To show this you need to produce words of mine that state, or imply, that someone is guilty of something if they don't follow certain rubrics. To claim I did that is an objective lie.

Even though, however, those people might exist, that is, people who have complained to you about how I made them feel, which as I say in no way makes me guilty of objectively offending them, I will rather stand by the position that they don't exist, and I'll tell you why. It is because they exist at this point only in the realm of rumor, and the Blessed Reformer cautions in the Large Catechism against entertaining rumors, especially those which are in themselves hurtful and offensive. If people have ever been confused or even felt offended about something I have said, they have always been welcome to bring their concerns directly to me. Your editorial ministry does not cover being go-between on the Wittenberg Trail.

It is also odd that you put "just so" in quotes, for that implies that they were my words. In fact, that is how you have repeatedly characterized the rubrics of the celebrant at the altar.

You say that I "went out of" my way "to make it very clear to them that they were somehow not doing the Lord's Supper correctly." That is a lie. I would say it is a bold lie, but I don't think you are very bold. How bold is it to pick on someone who is safely "washed out" of the system?

What in fact happened at the Wittenberg Trail is much, much different than what you seem to remember. What happened, in brief, is what has happened before, and has happened since. I do believe, however, that reasonable men can see and recognize it, so I won't waste the space or time explicating what I didn't do.

You spit out: "Gaba, I was adoring our Lord in His Sacrament well before you were born, so you can stow your slanderous accusations."

I actually am confused about what accusations you have in mind. I said I accepted your claim that you genuflect. Based on your well known rhetoric, in which you have ridiculed and decried those who do things like genuflect, I said I found it odd of you to claim that your practice of genuflection is a matter of course. But I accept it. It seems to me a bit odd, or bad form, to boast of having adored Christ before someone was born. Such boastfulness doesn't seem to match the spirit of eucharistic adoration. I have consciously, intentionally, and physically adored our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament for only a relatively short time, and I don't do it very well. I force myself to do it anyway, and I encourage others to do so as well, because as we, Christ's Body, take seriously His salutary presence in the Eucharist, the Church and the world will benefit in ways we cannot forsee.

The seminary may have been right in their decision, but I am compelled to doubt it every time you become more convinced ot it.

Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

I was not aware until a moment ago that I made the above comment while the computer was logged in under the profile of the woman with whom I share this house. I'm sorry about that.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...I think this M.Div. thesis is turning into a D.Min. dissertation.

Rev. Thomas C. Messer said...


Actually, I think there are two Paul McCains. There's the Paul McCain who does a stellar job of editing, and helping to produce, excellent theological resources coming out of CPH. That's the same Paul McCain who often appears on "Issues, Etc." and is a real joy to listen to, as he faithfully defends, and expounds upon, confessional Lutheran theology.

Then there's the Paul McCain on the internet, who picks fights wherever he goes, refuses to engage in honest dialogue, won't answer questions, and comes off as arrogant and condenscending, often having the audacity to hurl the 8th commandment at people, even while he chooses to ignore it himself. This is the Paul McCain who puts words in people's mouths, calls them liars, and ridicules faithful pastors based on their age, experience, or even on the amount of people in the pews where they serve, and ignores his brothers when they urge him to repent.

Suffice it to say (even though, "suffice to say" is probably better grammar), I like the first Paul McCain much, much better! :)

Rev.Fr.Burnell F Eckardt said...

I believe it would appropriate to bestow some sort of award on Mr. Gaba.

Latif, by deftly bringing the attention of the readership to a tete a tete you had with Editor McCain regarding genuflexion, you have ignited a sudden tirade against yourself.

He has suddenly been reduced to making ad hominem remarks, referencing your rejection by the seminary and denigrating your relative youth. This seems an indication that you have him suddenly frothing at the mouth.

Your epee has found its mark.

Fr John W Fenton said...

On more than one occasion I've had opportunity to speak with both Paul McCain and Herman Otten. I find them both to be much more pleasant in person than in print.


Paul McCain said...

Pr. Eckardt, while the adoring adulation and support of your fawning acolytes brings you a certain pleasure, you still have not explained why you do not use a Monstrance and do not practice perpetual adoration. It would appear you are inconsistent in your practice and in spite of your claims to be practicing something "more reverent" you in fact choose to leave Jesus shut up in a box and all alone.

Why is that?

Rev. Thomas C. Messer said...

Fr. Eckardt,

You have my adoring adulation and support for treating our Lord with the reverence and respect He most certainly deserves.

A proud fawning acolyte am I! :)

Venkman said...

My question is simple. If even that which is placed in the monstrance is consumed then what is the abuse? What exactly do the writers of the Formula consider objectionable?

Both sides have either quoted or paraphrased the Formula already. In a previous post Daniel Skillman pointed out the LW Altar Book refers to a reservation of the Sacrament. We've been going around in circles for quite a while now. But I honestly would like to know what exactly you (Fr. Eckardt, Rev. McCain, and whoever else thinks they have something to conttribute) what exactly the writer's of the Formula found so objectionable? What was the abuse?

Was Rome's abuse that they kneeled before a piece of bread which they believed to be the Body of Christ? Was Rome's abuse that they separated the Sacrament from its intended use? Or was the abuse something else?

What exactly was the abuse? AND how do we battle new abuses (everyone seems to agree that new abuses have arisen) with which the writers of the Formula never dealt with?

I look forward to your response.