Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Before the Incarnate One

The reason we built a tabernacle at St. Paul's is simple. It has always been my custom to take reserved elements to the sick. I had a place for them in the sacristy, from which I took them. Not ever having been trained in these things, I simply intuited that if the Sacrament was to be reserved, it should be designated, and proper deference should be given to it. It is, after all, the body of Christ. Hence it was only a matter of time until I figured out that the tabernacle would be the best and most salutary way to do that. Though I knew it would lead some to a state near apoplexy, I found myself actually wanting to confess that the reliquae are indeed the body and blood of Christ, and nothing less.

Closet receptionists will here grumble that nothing is a Sacrament apart from the use, but they misread the meaning of that, as I and others have written elsewhere. In short, our rebuttal is simply this: certainly one may not use the body of Christ for some reason other than that for which He gave it, but just as certainly He did not say, "Take eat, this is my body until you are done using it."

A seven-year old child can tell you what the reliquae are, notwithstanding all protestations to the contrary. Jesus said it was His body. Therefore it is.

So now I am being accused again of abusing the Sacrament, in this a recent thread of blog comments over at Historic Lectionary (not by the blog itself, which I find quite helpful, but by a commenter). I am actually being accused of innovations, of all things, among which is: "the tabernacle and the apparent custom of reverencing it apart from its use in the distribution (an issue that I think runs very close to the proscriptions of the Formula)."

See there, very close! Lions and tigers and bears! Oh my! I guess that settles it, I am to be avoided.

As an aside, a careful parsing of the complaint reveals that there is no distinction made there between reverence and adoration. For while I will reverence an empty tabernacle, just as I would an empty altar, I will always adore the body of Christ, and so you will see me genuflecting before a tabernacle being used to house the reliquae. But never mind that.

Another matter at issue here is the maddening use of the Confessions as a club. I recall having written about this somewhere too, and having retorted, Nothing is a Confession apart from the use. The Lutheran Confessions were not written to sit as the ultimate Judge and Dictator of What We Shall Believe. Listen, if you really want to argue theology with me, don't throw the Confessions at me. They are simply a rehearsal of what I believe. They don't tell me what I shall believe, so much as they tell me what I do believe, though I'll grant that the closing words of the Athanasian Creed do come close to the former.

You can't, in short, settle the question of what the reliquae are by some quotation from the Confessions. That, in my book, is what comes close to the proscriptions of the Formula. Take a look at the Formula's opening words if you don't believe me: "We believe, teach, and confess that the sole rule and standard according to which all dogmas together with [all] teachers should be estimated and judged are the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures of the Old and of the New Testament alone."

And as for you who refuse to adore the body of Christ, I could of course quote the Confessions at you, but that could make me guilty of the very offense I am outlining here. I'll just defer to a marvelous quip I remember from Dr. John Stephenson in that regard: "You'd stand before the Incarnate One?"


Rev. David M. Juhl said...

I was going to post my comment at Historic Lectionary. But now that you have wisely moved the discussion here, I'll make my comments here.

The matter of Eucharistic reservation in the Church of the Augsburg Confession is an interesting one. I grant that the preferred practice is to consume what remains of the consecrated Body and Blood of Christ after the Distribution. That is our practice here.

However, if a brother reserves the Body and Blood of Christ for the purpose of distributing the Sacrament to the sick and shut-in, I am not willing to divide with the brother over the matter.

I am also not willing to go as far as Brother Lehmann did at Historic Lectionary and say that such a practice borders on breaking the so-called nihil rule in the Formula of Concord. If the brother was insisting on Eucharistic processions in a monstrance or benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, then I would say with confidence that such practice is a violation of the so-called nihil rule in the Formula of Concord.

I recall Brother Weedon's former practice of Eucharistic reservation until the unfortunate break-in at his congregation some years back. That made him nervous about reserving, especially after the reserved went missing following the break-in.

Rev. Charles Lehmann said...

If you are suggesting that I'm a closet receptionist, I'll ask you to withdraw that remark.

What I'm saying is that the Confessions do warn us against adoration of the host apart from its proper use. I'm not saying that the host ceases at any point to be the body of Christ. It's not, for me (or I think the confessors) a matter of what the host is. It's a matter of what the host is for.

I do think you need to tell us why you reserve elements for the sick and why this is a better practice than consuming them.

I know the practice is not unheard of in Lutheranism, but is it best? Does it confess most clearly what we believe and teach?

These are legitimate questions.

I think we are using the term innovation differently, and if I'm uncharitably characterizing your practice, I apologize.

My impression at Octoberfest two years ago was, however, that it was a chance for you to show how much more faithful to the liturgy you were than every other Lutheran congregation.

The service was filled with hymnody that you wrote or translated (though you did introduce me to Dies Irae, for which I am VERY grateful).

I found a custom of reverencing the host apart from its use even in prayer offices (which struck me as inappropriate).

I think we have to live in the real world, like it or not. We have to recognize that many of the liturgical practices which you and I would agree are best for our people are innovative in the history of Missouri and the Lutheranism from which it came.

It is a new thing. These things were new to your congregation, and they are new to many of our congregations when we bring them in.

They are, in a very real sense, innovations.

If it was not your intention at Octoberfest to give me the impression that the service was all about you and YOUR way of doing things, I'm sorry for taking it that way, but I did, and I don't think my impressions were born out of insanity.

Pr. H. R. said...

Frs. Lehmann and Eckardt,

I find myself in the middle of this argument - agreeing and disagreeing with both of you.

To Fr. Eckardt I would say - as I have on other occasions - that reserving the elements to distribute to the sick is not the best practice. (And don't forget my prooftext from the Passover: Leave none of it till morning!). The best practice, borne out a concern to always be reverent is to consume all the elements at the Mass in which they were consecrated.

This is, I think, the more reverent practice because it avoids certain problems that only occur with Tabernacles and reservation. To wit: the aforementioned break-in church where the reserved Blood of the Lord was consumed by blasphemous hoodlums. And secondly, I'll add a story from a recent Epiphany concert I went to at a Roman parish: there was the Tabernacle, light on, and there was the choir rehearsing right in front of it with backs turned (and guitar cases leaning against the bones of the first three bishops of Alton to boot!).

Consuming at the Mass avoids all these opportunities for irreverence - and many more which can be imagined.

To Fr. Lehmann I would say this. While we both agree that reservation is not the best practice: if you're going to do it, I don't know how you would do it differently than Fr. Eckardt does it.

Think of it this way. Fr. Eckardt is not using the Body and Blood outside of a distribution - those elements are there to be distributed. So how do we act during a distribution? Do we not act with the utmost reverence and genuflect or bow (according to local custom) toward our Lord's Body and Blood?

Therefore, I think you are too hard in judging Fr. Eckardt's motives. If you're going to have a Tabernacle (which I wish he wouldn't) you had better genuflect toward it. . .


Anonymous said...

Thanks for your post, Fritz. I appreciate it very much.

As to the practice of the reservation of the Sacrament, I tend to agree that consuming the elements is a better practice. However (and this is quite important to me), I would never accuse someone who does reserve of irreverence per se. I would much MUCH rather see a Tabernacle than a trash bin, which is what happens in the majority of Lutheran parishes.

My perspective on the larger argument about innovation is simple. We are all innovators. Our church polity is such that it is nearly impossible to look to some outside authority for answers. Where do you go? The COW? The Agenda? Which Agenda? Reed? Piepkorn? Parsch? The Missal? My circuit counselor? Somebody tell me. I'd really like to know.

I guess for me, if I see a brother pastor who is intentional, mindful and desirous of being a faithful steward of the mysteries, I am willing to cut a lot of slack if his innovation is different than mind.

Thanks for your thoughts, Fritz. I (almost) always appreciate them.


Timothy May said...

Thank you for this post. Although our practice is to consume the elements after the distribution the practice you describe is fitting and salutary for the reservation of Christ's Body and Blood for the sick. It certainly is consistent with the Augsburg understanding of consecration.

Maybe what we need is more "closet reservationists."

Anonymous said...

This is absolute lunacy!

Why is the "no Sacrament a part from the use" arguement always used against those who have tabernacles? Why is it always used against those who take consecrated element's to their shut-ins? This doesn't make any sense to me. They are at least USING it for cyring out loud.

Why isn't the "no Sacrament a part from the use" arguement used against all those in our synod who throw Jesus in the trash? Why isn't it used against all those who pour the precious Blood of our Lord down the drain? This happens a lot more in our synod, so where's the outrage?

Perhaps there is none because such pastors are often considered more Lutheran than men like Father Eckardt. Perhaps there is none because liturgical carelessness and eucharistic irreverence has become the norm. If that is the case (which I believe it is), I for one happily welcome such so called innovation.

Luther once said, "Before I would drink mere wine with the Enthusiasts, I would rather have pure Blood with the Pope." I wonder how many Lutherans today would still say such a thing. And perhaps this is just another reason why so many solid confessional Lutherans are leaving Missouri. Because talk about justification all you want, but it means nothing without the incarnate God, without the Flesh and Blood of the Man Jesus Christ. The second article cannot be confessed to the exclusion of the third. And until we not only begin to understand that but begin to confess it, we will continue down the path of becoming just another protestant innovation.


Fr BFE said...

I wasn't going to do this, but since you brought it up, here's the original comment about my being innovative:

"Fritz’s parish is all about innovation. Yeah, he claims that his innovations really take him back to older things, but they are what they are: many customs that you find nowhere else in Lutheranism. His post falls flat completely. He needs to get over himself."

Now Fr. Lehmann, though you started off here decrying my so-called innovativeness, mingling your complaint with that last comment which is pretty clearly ad hominem, I note you made a partial retreat from it in your later posts, by deftly including yourself among the innovators. So in the original you seemed to take umbrage at my, er, innovations, and confirmed my inference in your most recent post, where you flatly state that you had the impression that St. Paul's was all about my doing things my own way. That sort of "innovation" would certainly be undesirable. But later on you say we are all innovaters, I guess in a good way.

And then you say you think we are using the term differently, with an apology. Accepted, of course, but I must say that you can't seem to decide which way you want to use the term yourself.

For the record, if I want to return to a laudable and historic practice, I don't call that innovation.

And if, more importantly, your spine stiffened when you saw these things for the first time, and you came to the conclusion that I was only doing them to exalt myself, then I must say, in view of the fact that the practice I follow is specifically, historically, and ostensibly for the exaltation of the Sacrament, that if a problem has arisen in your heart about my motives, it certainly isn't my problem.

Now on to the more serious discussion on the reservation of the Sacrament. The questions raised are fair and legitimate, and I welcome the discussion in all candor.

My first answer is this. For the same reason the practice of consuming the reliquae has arisen, viz., a concern for reverence, I was long ago driven to dispense with the practice of carrying unconsecrated bread and wine to the home of the sick and consecrating them there. In no way do I wish to disparage the practice of men who do this, quite honestly; it's just that I found myself thinking there was something somehow inappropriate--perhaps that's even too strong a word--about using a hospital bed stand as an altar. The actual consecration of elements there makes the ceremony a Mass. But where are the paraments, the vestments, the choir, the Gothic arches, etc.? To be clear, none of those are necessary for the validity of the Mass, but they are all salutary. But why? Because, among other things, they are aids to faith. So without them, faith is without the aid they provide.

What, then, can be done about this? Some would say, nothing. The sick must have the Sacrament, so we must do without the extras. Fair enough, but as I look to the history of the Church, from which in so many other respects we take our cue, I find the carrying of the Sacrament from the altar to be a sensible practice, in spite of abuses which have arisen. Abusus non tollit usum.

The practice, I think, preserves the integrity of the idea of the holy place of consecration. And that, in my view, outweighs the potential for abuse which arises from reserving the elements.

And speaking of the potential for abuse, heavens, consider the gross abuse which has arisen in places where the elements are not reserved, as Fr. Peperkorn has referenced, above.

rev.will said...

Pastor Eckardt, do you speak the Words of Institution at the hospital?

Fr BFE said...

Good question. Yes, I do, but I make it clear that I am not re-consecrating:

"These elements have been carried from the altar of the church of our Lord Jesus Christ, where His blessed words of Institution were spoken over them, which words I now repeat in your hearing."

That somehow opens up another can of worms, I suppose.

Rev. Charles Lehmann said...

I don't see how I can respond to any of the things which you've written with which I disagree without being led into further sin.

Please forgive my starting the conversation in the first place.

Rev. Paul T. McCain said...

So, let's be clear on what Pr. Eckardt has with his post made painfully clear:

He has asserted a quia subscription to the BOC, "in so far as it doesn't contradict any of my personal liturgical opinions."

He is, in spite of every good reason NOT to reserve the elements, not only "reserving" them but boats about a tabernacle in his church, entirely contrary to what our Confessions assert about "not closing up" the elements.

He has also made it clear he would rather interject doubt at the very moment when there must be only absolute certainty by "giving his word that he had consecrated the elements" he is administering to the sick and shut-in. It is not his word that counts, but Christ's word, but Pr. E. would rather subject his congregants to his private musings rather than consecrating for them, in their presence, the bread and win of our Lord.

And finally, there is no reason why Pr. E. must "reserve" left over elements to begin with. His parish and average Sunday attendance is of such a size that surely he can pretty well estimate how many elements he will need for the Sacrament, and if he would happen to run out, surely he can bring more and consecrate. There is no reason for him to have left-overs and be "reserving" them to begin with.

This, gentlemen, is bad theology and bad practice, but it is a very good example of American Lutheranism in action. Everyone does what is right in his own eyes.

High and crazy, low and lazy, broad and hazy...no matter...American Lutherans value their "freedom" above anything else, and if it can be wrapped up, in some ham-fisted way, with the flag of being "more liturgical" all the better, apparently.

So much for Lutheranism.

Anonymous said...

Father Eckhardt,

My mother-in-law sent me over here, because lately I've had some questions regarding the Book of Concord and its usage in the Lutheran Church. All I can say is thank you for your comments! They have helped me immensely.

Also, wasn't Luther called innovative by the Romanists? Hmm... Of course, by this question I am in no way drawing any conclusions. I am but a lowly seminary student and incapable of such things. I'm just... inquiring.

Thank you, Father!

Anonymous said...

I find myself having a difficult time understanding Fr. Eckardt's words and practice (restricted to those directly referenced on this thread) differently than Fr. McCain. My personal interaction with Fr. Eckardt makes it easy for me to put a better construction on these things. Yet, I do hope, Fr. Eckardt, that you will make yourself a bit more clear for those of us who perhaps misunderstand your words and practice(s) in this case.

Some places to start:

1.) Why reserve at all?

2.) Would it not be better to consecrate at the bed-side rather than refer one to a previous consecration?

3.) How is adoration of the elements outside of the mass not what the BOC condemns?

4.) How is what your self-described stance toward the BOC not "in so far as" ?

Interestingly, CPH's Treasury of Daily Prayer quotes Georg von Anhalt in the writing for today, 3 Feb. I can't help but think that this is ironic. Here's a taste:

"[W]e are not saying that one should not worship our dear Lord Jesus Christ in this Sacrament, being present, or that one should not hold this Sacrament with all honor and reverence. On the contrary, since these divine, almighty, true words are believed, all of this follows of itself, and not only in external gestures but also both externally and, first and foremost, in the heart, spirit, and truth. On account of this, such adoration of Christ is not thereby canclled, but much rather, confirmed. For where the Word is rightly seen, considered, and believed, the adoration of the Sacrament will happen of itself."

In Christ,
Daniel Skillman

Rev. Larry Beane said...

Venkman makes a great point.

If a pastor has a tabernacle, which is nothing more than a nice container to keep consecrated elements in, he is accused of all sorts of evils (though never, interestingly enough, brought up on actual ecclesiastical charges by the huffers-and-puffers).

I've seen the following in more than one congregation: a peanut butter jar with a sticky label that said: "consecrated wafers" put unceremoniously in a cabinet with cleaning supplies to be reserved against the next communion (segregated from the unconsecrated elements) without as much as a nod or a sign of the cross.

Isn't that sad?

I have yet to hear any of the "huffers-and-puffers" complain about the Jif jar "white trash tabernacle" or hurl charges of Romanism at these pastors and parishes. Ditto for those who actually pitch the Lord's blood into the garbage or the sewer once the "show" is over. It seems the ire is reserved (no pun intended) for those who treat the elements with reverence.

My own parish used to throw the Lord's blood in the trash (from the jiggers), but the reliquiae from the chalice was poured into a glass cruet labeled "consecrated wine" to be later swigged from a crown royal glass by the pastor while teaching confirmation class, or by the elders (the Sunday morning buzz was a perk of the job).

My practice is to consume everything myself. The jiggers are washed individually, and the water used to cleanse them is poured on consecrated ground. Until we can get rid of the damnable shot glasses, the blood of the Lord will continue to be desecrated, and the culpability is on me. I'm personally scandalized and hurt by this, and yet, I know some would leave the church if I did what needed to be done. It grieves me, and there is no "good" answer to the problem. But at least the Lord's most holy blood is no longer tossed into the sewer.

I would much rather have a tabernacle than a trash can. I would much rather genuflect before the Lord's miraculous presence than see it intermingled with McDonald's wrap and snotty kleenexes.

I guess that makes me "high and hazy" whatever that means.

But nobody will ever convince me that that which the Word of God has said: "is" His body and blood is actually *not* His body and blood. Nobody. All the contortions of our confessions, all the sophistry, all the bullying, all the cozying up to the Protestants on this issue make no difference.

"Is" means "is."

And if it "is", and if it is going to be reserved either against the next communion or for the sick, than it should be put into something with more dignity than a Jif jar and it should be reverenced for what it "is."

It is bizarre that we should even have to discuss such things. It's a scandal.

RevFisk said...

The best reason to consume the elements is to avoid causing divisions where there otherwise would be none, say, amongst those who subscribe to our symbols.

We're all the weaker brother. So walk the way which avoids rabbit trails....

That has always seemed to me to be the greatest wisdom behind Luther, Lutherans and liturgy in general.

From a two bit, XD

Rev. Thomas C. Messer, SSP said...

I really have trouble understanding how those who claim to be confessional Lutherans could get themselves worked up over a brother pastor's desire to reserve the Body and Blood of Christ in a reverent manner and distribute the Same to the sick/shut-in. It just doesn't compute. Surely, there are actual abuses out there to get worked up about. If you need some, let me know. I'll introduce you to several LCMS congregations in my neck of the woods where the Body and Blood of Christ are treated so shamefully one wonders how the pastors and people of those congregations could possibly claim to believe that Christ is present in the Sacrament.

In a day and age when what is noticeably missing in many Lutheran congregations is any semblance of reverence, it just seems a bit goofy to me to get your panties in a bunch over a pastor who takes the Sacrament very seriously and goes out of his way to show Christ the reverence and adoration He most certainly deserves, teaching the people he serves to do the same.

Now, if Fr. Eckardt paraded the Host around, making a spectacle of It; or, if he demanded that everyone must have a Tabernacle; or, if he gave the impression that anyone who did not follow his practice of reservation was somehow less reverent, then there might be reason to question him. As it is, he has done none of these things and I see no just reason to bring accusations against him.

I was watching "The Journey Home" some time ago (I know, I know, that makes me a closet Roman Catholic) and there were two guests being interviewed that evening, both former Lutheran pastors, now RC priests. One of the things both men cited as one of the reasons for their departure from Lutheranism was the growing lack of reverence toward the Eucharist. And, they were both right. It is a crying shame how far we have fallen in this regard. Plastic cups. Letover elements chucked in the trash. Flippancy in the Consecration and Distribution. It's just very sad. No wonder many of our people have no regard for the Blessed Sacrament. Why should they when their ministers don't?

I doubt very seriously that a visitor to the congregation Fr. Eckardt serves would leave without knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Sacrament is taken very seriously and treated very reverently. I say this having visited myself. One thing I know with absolute certainty is that I didn't witness "bad theology" or "bad practice," as Rev. McCain claims. On the contrary, I heard the pure Gospel proclaimed and witnessed my Beloved Lord revered and adored in the Most Holy Eucharist. It was quite beautiful, actually, and I wish that many LCMS congregations would show half the reverence and adoration for our Lord as I witnessed there, for that would be quite the improvement.

In Christ,

Fr BFE said...

I'm beginning to wonder if the antagonists in this debate are actually reading what I've written here. I don't think you are. I mean, to answer your complaints, I'd just have to write the same things I've already written. So why not just go back and read what I wrote the first time?

And now I am being charged with a quatenus subscription to the Confessions, because I had the audacity to quote the Confessions, against the abuse of placing them over the Scriptures.

This is rich. Here we have on the one hand Jesus saying "this is my Body," and on the other hand the Confessions (seemingly) saying, "no, it's not his Body any more, because you're done using it. No need to adore it, it's nothing. Move along, folks." Hmmm, which side are you going to take?

Mr. Fischer, I encourage you to keep thinking about this, and I commend you for using your own mind to do so rather than relying on the minds of others.

Rev. Paul Beisel said...

Wasn't the complaint of the Reformers against reserving "for the purpose of..." doing not-so-good things with the Lord's Body and Blood? Isn't that what they were referring to? It seems to me that the problem was not so much with reserving it, but reserving it for sacrilegous purposes.

I don't think that we should make the mistake, however, of evaluating the propriety of his practice by contrasting it to "worse" practices (of which there are many). The rightness or wrongness of a practice should be evaluated on the basis of Holy Scripture. We do this all the time with other liturgical practices, why not with this? Does God anywhere in Holy Scripture forbid such a practice? Is there an express word of Scripture that says: "You shall not keep some of this aside to be used later." If not, then what's the problem? If the Sacrament is not to be consumed in its entirety during or immediately after the service, what is the best way of setting it aside until the next communion?

Rev. Thomas C. Messer, SSP said...

Biesel wrote:
"I don't think that we should make the mistake, however, of evaluating the propriety of his practice by contrasting it to 'worse' practices (of which there are many). The rightness or wrongness of a practice should be evaluated on the basis of Holy Scripture."


I don't think pointing out the "worse" practices is meant to be an evaluation of the propriety of Fr. Eckardt's practice. I certainly didn't mean to employ the "Well, at least his practice isn't as bad as others" argument. I don't think his practice is "bad" at all. On the contrary, I find it to be rather refreshing and quite salutary in a world of "Lutheranism" that seems to have forgotten the importance of the Sacrament.

My point echoes Larry's, namely that it is just bizarre to even be having this discussion. And, part of the reason that it's so bizarre is the fact that there are so many ACTUAL, REAL abuses of the Sacrament going on in our midst. It just strikes me as odd that some would all but condemn a brother who actually confesses the truth about the Sacrament and reverenly practices administering it, especially in light of the tomfoolery surrounding us today. Thus, it's not a matter of contrasting Eckardt's practice with the "worse" practices. There's really no comparison is there? And that's kinda the point. :)

In Christ,

Anonymous said...

Those who claim that the tabernacle is an abomination seem to be guilty of the very same accusation they make. They believe they are more Lutheran because they do not reserve the elements in a similar fashion.

Here's the issue guys: at some point we all reserve the elements. At some point we all will have more than we need. Get over it; it's just a fact. The question at hand is how long should this reservation take place?

Should we consume everything immediately following the distribution? Or should we wait till after the benediction or before or after bible class? Should we take what is consecrated on Sunday and give it to a shut-in on Wednesday? Or should we even dare to place a time limit on such a thing?

One thing is for certain; Christ said to "take and eat" and "drink of it all of you." Before we attack a fellow pastor for his own practice of reservation I think we need to ask ourselves "is even this being done in our own synod?"

Again, how many churches pour the Blood of Christ down the drain? Or how many churches throw both elements (Yes, both!) in the trash? If you don't have a problem with this than why do you have a problem with a tabernacle?
It seems to me that at least with a tabernacle Christ's flock is being fed as opposed to the vermin living in the sewer or the maggots out at the junkyard.

Reserving the elements is going to eventually happen one way or another. I try very hard to consecrate only that which will be needed, but don't always succeed. So my practice has been to consume all the remaining elements immediately following the distribution. But isn't it interesting how even on this point some of my fellow clergymen feel I am erring. No tabernacle, but still accused of being a Roman Catholic for the very same issue.


Anonymous said...

That's the point Paul.
What exactly is the problem?

On the one hand we have a perfectly fine practice that is being condemned without any scriptural or confessional basis. The Sacrament is being used. Christ's flock is being fed.

And on the other hand we have this widespread practice that at least is being tolerated where the Sacrament is clearly seperated from its use.


Anonymous said...

Let's remember that some on this thread haven't condemned the host, but only asked for further clarification. I'd be one of those.

I've read a considerable amount of what the host has written here and elsewhere, and I'm still somewhat confused by this thread.

I have a bulk subscription to Gottesdienst and distribute copies to the pastors of my circut, encouraging them to read it. I am discouraged by the lack of reverence in Lutheran congregations. I believe that american Lutheranism suffers far more from a Protestantizing influence than a Romanizing one. I think the host of this blog is a far better representative of Lutheranism than the bulk of the LCMS. I personally would be considered by many to be a "hyper-euro". In fact, I have been persecuted for so-called "high church" practices. These persecutions have cost me greatly. My credentials are in order.

Yet, I still have questions about the thoughts expressed on this thread. I listed 4 of them above. I believe that in light of the things said, and the resulting confusion, not to mention the accusations of some, that the host would do well to answer kindly, briefly, and directly.

This should not be that difficult. I, for one, am already sympathetic to the views of the host, as are many who visit this site.

Pointing to the poor practices of another congregation is not really an answer. One poor practice does not justify another. Justification must come from the Lord.

In Christ,

Timothy May said...

It is indeed ridiculous to be attacking any reverent reservation of the Body and Blood of Christ where such reservation is practiced.

And the argument against such practice sounds like one is pitting the Confessions against the Incarnation. This is not about the quia subscription it is about the Incarnation.

Because the Catholic Church believes in the Incarnation we are also to reject that belief and teaching?! Let us err on the side of the Gospel-Incarnation and not on protestant pettiness.

To echo a post, "So much for Lutheranism."

Pr. H. R. said...

In Re: Fr. Hollywood's comments.

That's how I originally got going on the Tabernacle. At the first parish I served (as an assistant pastor) our Lord's Precious Body was tossed into a ziplock bag with a masking tape tag reading "Consecrated."

So I bought them a simple tabernacle (Ebay is a wonderful thing). That was a much better practice.

I still think an even better practice is the full consumption at every Mass.

But this is truly a matter where brothers can disagree - and while I'll argue with my friend, Fr. Fritz, that he should consider a different practice, there is one more reason to route for the tabernaclers: it confesses that what Jesus says never goes out of style, as per Fr. Hollywood's analysis above.

PS: I follow a practice similar to yours, Fr. Beane, with the individual cups. After the service I fill them with water, pour that ablution into a larger cup and consume that ablution, then wash the cups. I've even toyed with doing that ablution during the service with the ablution of the chalice. . . but we're still at about 40% individual cups. . .

RevFisk said...

Ft. Curtis,

Actually, taking the time to do the ablution during the service my be the very priestmanly tact needed to eventually encourage the dismissal of the "innovation" altogether (I mean, 10 minutes is a very long organ offertory and we do need to be done by noon after all...)

Rev. Thomas C. Messer, SSP said...

HRC wrote:
"I still think an even better practice is the full consumption at every Mass.

But this is truly a matter where brothers can disagree . . ."


I understand what you're saying here, but I'm not sure I like the word "disagree." I think it would be better to say: "But this is truly a matter where brothers can be faithful stewards of the mysteries of God in different ways."

Whether one reserves or consumes, there is no disagreement, so long as they do so in a reverent manner, recognizing the true Body and Blood of Christ.

I don't have a tabernacle and I don't practice reservation. I consume whatever is left and reverently cleanse the Eucharistic vessels. But, I am not in disagreement with Fr. Eckardt's practice at all. I am, rather, in full agreement with him. He treats the Body and Blood of Christ with a great deal of reverence, as do I (and as do you, and many others, I'm quite sure), and faithfully distributes that Body and Blood to the faithful. No disagreement at all, just a different way of doing the exact same thing.

In Christ,

Fr BFE said...

Fr. Skillman,

In the interest of clarifying, I will try to be brief, per your kind request. Here are your questions:

1.) Why reserve at all?

2.) Would it not be better to consecrate at the bed-side rather than refer one to a previous consecration?

3.) How is adoration of the elements outside of the mass not what the BOC condemns?

4.) How is what your self-described stance toward the BOC not "in so far as" ?

Here are my answers:

1) As I have said, among other things I believe reservation to be preferable to the awkwardness of celebrating mass at a hospital bedside.

2) Besides this, reference to a previous consecration at the bedside actually has the added benefit of providing an aural connection of the sick to the altar of the parish, and thus with the other members of the body of Christ.

3) A better question would be, how is the refusal to adore the body of Christ not sheer Arianism such as the BOC condemns?

4) My stance toward the BOC is that I have sworn to teach nothing contrary to it. That includes the following: "We believe, teach, and confess that the sole rule and standard according to which all dogmas together with [all] teachers should be estimated and judged are the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures of the Old and of the New Testament alone."

I am therefore opposed to the use of the Confessions as a norma normans, which is in essence what happens when the Confessions are abused and misapplied as proof-texts.

Hope this helps.

Rev. Paul T. McCain said...

Several responses to Pr. Eckardt:

(1) When did consecrating the elements in a hospital room become awkward? And is it more awkward to consecrate than to do the whole "pious reminder" thing Pr. E. has stated is his practice?

(2) Pr. E. still does not explain why, or how, it is so difficult for him to anticipate how many communicants there will be so he does not consecrate so many elements it is impossible for him to consume them, or, if he runs out, to bring in enough and consecrate those elements.

(3) The "I agree with the Confessions in so far as they do not contradict my personal opinions" is still very much underway in this argumentation.

I have seen Pr. Eckardt and others strain to wrest "proof" for their liturgical inclinations out of scant evidence in the Confessions, but then simply ignore the history and meaning of the nihil rule because it contradicts their opinions about reservation and the use of a Tabernacle.

(4) Pr. Eckardt labels as Arian heretics those who believe his use of a Tabernacle is inappropriate and not in keeping with our Confessions when these very Confessions condemn shutting our Lord up and reserving Him and "adoring" Him apart from the Sacrament's instituted use.

"Instituted use" is not defined by the pastor's personal intention!

It is telling that there is more eagerness to hanker after Medieval Mass rubrics than the pastoral wisdom of the chief teacher of the churches of the Augsburg Confession and consume what remains at the end of the Supper.

Finally, again, we have those who go off on their own, with the claim that they are being more faithful to the liturgy. They put their personal tastes above the agreed upon practice of our Church. They have no reason to criticize those who run off in the other direction.

Fr BFE said...

Caveat lector.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Eckardt,

Your answers do help clarify, somewhat. Thank you.

I'd like to comment briefly on each of the answers.

1.) Here, awkwardness seems to be a matter of personal comfort. I happen not to be uncomfortable with the practice of celebrating mass at a hospital, but I cannot condemn one who is uncomfortable doing so. Nor do I think anyone else should either.

Moreover, I am convinced that were a request to be made from the sick for a consecration at the bedside, or were there an emergency situation (say on the battle field in Iraq) where communion was desired and there were no previously consecrated elements available, then Fr. Eckardt would celebrate mass right there and then. Correct Fr.?

2.) I believe that the benefit of being present for the actual consecration outweighs any benefit there might be in connecting the elements of communion to the altar of a particular congregation. It seems to me that the consecrated elements are connected to every altar of every time and place by the catholic nature of the sacrament, regardless of where the consecration took place.

Yet, how could one condemn Fr. Eckardt for the practice of taking reserved elements to the sick and shut in? It seems to me that the most one could say is that other practices are better and he should seriously consider those.

I suppose that there is still one thing here that I find potentially damning, and that is this: By refering one to a previous consecration, the pastor introduces an element of doubt as to what the elements are. It is possible that the elements weren't actually consecrated. The pastor need not even be a liar for this to occur. He could merely be forgetful. If the consecration takes place at the bed-side, there can be no doubt.

3.) Here, you have side stepped the question in a most appreciated socratic manner. I agree that the question you propose is a good one, and I would like to hear the "other side" answer it. Nevertheless, your answer does not truly answer the question presented to you.

I press the question because many have stumbled over this point in the BOC. Some have stumbled all the way into a virtual receptionism!

I think it would greatly enhance this discussion and the cause of greater reverence and appreciation of the sacrament of the alter if you would be more direct in your answer. You have a plum teaching opportunity here.

4.) There is still a substantial question in my mind on this point.

I believe that the BOC can be misunderstood and misapplied. When that happens, we we are not bound to a misunderstanding or misapplication.

Yet, when the confessions are correctly understood and correctly applied they are a norm, albeit a normed norm. For us Lutherans, they are a norm because they confess Scriptural truth.

It would seem to me, then, that when the BOC is correctly understood on a certain point, and that point is brought to bear on a specific teaching or practice, that the BOC should have a norming influence on those who claim the BOC as their own confession.

I simply think that your response could be yet clearer.

However, I am convinced that you believe that the BOC correctly, though not exhaustively, presents Scriptural teaching. Moreover, you subscribe to the BOC "because" it presents the scriptural teaching, not only "in so far as" they do. Correct Fr.?

Again, thank you for your reply. I hope that you will continue the discussion a bit more. The interest garnered by the topic so far ought to be more than enough incentive to do so.

In Christ,

Fr. McCain,

I think what we have here is a failure to communicate. There have been unclear words from the host and misunderstandings on the part of some of the guests, myself included. Because of that it is all the more important that we all be charitable.

I think your substantial theological insight could be put to much better use here by asking probing questions rather than reaching what I have seen as hasty conclusions about the host's theology and practice. Truly, you would do us all a better service if you would act the part of ignorant inquisitor rather than passionate advocate.

Let there be a dispute according to the old method with questions and answers, affirmations and denials, confessions and condemnations. But let there also be room for retreat, repentance, rephrasing, restatement, re-cognition, and the like.

In Christ,
Daniel Skillman

Anonymous said...

Three Questions:

First, I keep reading over and over again how supposedly taking previously consecrated elements to shut-ins will only raise doubts in their minds. Could someone please explain to me why? Have any of you ever talked to any of Father Eckart's parishoners? Seems to me there is certainly no doubt in their minds and there is certainly no doubt in my mind either. So why should we seek to place doubt where there is none? Are we honestly going to claim that an ornate tabernacle will only raise doubts in our people's minds when we have unordained men consecrating, pastors placing Christ's Body in Jiffy Jars, and that which God has declared holy being mixed with that which is common?

Second, I can almost buy into the arguement that one should consume all the elements during the service as compared to using a tabernacle purely for the sake of unity within the Church. Yes, I can almost buy into it except for the fact that even this is deemed offensive by many. How many of us who consume everything during the service are considered just as Roman Catholic? In fact, I was once confronted by a fellow pastor who accused me of legalism precisely because I consumed everything and refused to pour the Blood down the drain! Clearly, Father Eckardt's tabernacle is not the issue. Besides, I can think of at least two other LCMS churches that make use of a tabernacle. I don't believe it is as uncommon to Lutheranism as everyone thinks.

Third, I am curious. If one is called to a church that already has a tabernacle or wishes to purchase a tabernacle in the future, what rubrics should one follow? And, how do such rubrics differ from those who consume all the elements during or after the service?


Rev. Thomas C. Messer, SSP said...

Venkman wrote:

"Second, I can almost buy into the arguement that one should consume all the elements during the service as compared to using a tabernacle purely for the sake of unity within the Church. Yes, I can almost buy into it except for the fact that even this is deemed offensive by many. How many of us who consume everything during the service are considered just as Roman Catholic? In fact, I was once confronted by a fellow pastor who accused me of legalism precisely because I consumed everything and refused to pour the Blood down the drain!"

Had a similar experience last year. Received a "talking to" from my Circuit Counselor after the Divine Service at the Winkel I was hosting at our congregation. As I was vesting for the Service, he came in and reminded me that he would come up and commune me after I had communed everyone else, which is the way it usually goes at our Winkels. I told him as politely as I possibly could, "Actually, that won't be necessary. I'll commune myself first and I'll only be consecrating what is needed to commune everyone else, and then I'll consume whatever remains." He had a strange look on his face at hearing this, but simply said, "Oh, okay," and departed from the sacristy. I thought everything was fine.

But, then, after the Service, he came into the sacristy as I was un-vesting and said that, while he enjoyed the Service and appreciated the proclamation of the Gospel in the sermon, he was put out by the way I "conducted Communion." I asked him what he meant and he said that he felt like he was in a Roman Catholic Church. He said that he didn't think it was very Lutheran to elevate the host and chalice and genuflect before the consecrated elements. He also thought it was "outrageous" and "arrogant" on my part to commune myself and to consume the remaining Body and Blood. I told him that I was confused by all this, especially at his accusation that my consuming myself was "arrogant," considering that this is the rubric found in our LSB Altar Book. But, in his estimation, "It is better to go with the flow and do things the way everyone else does." Thus, it would've been better if I would have shown the Body and Blood of our Lord no reverence, allowed him to come up in his suit and tie to commune me after I had communed everyone else, and simply covered up what remained of the Lord's Body and Blood until I could dispose of it "properly" after the Service.

I was comforted, however, by four other brothers who were there and told me how much they appreciated the reverence they witnessed in the Service, especially as related to the administration of the Sacrament. And, I guess these brothers were really touched by this, since three of the four have hosted Winkels since and followed the same practice they witnessed that day. I guess the Circuit Counselor will just have to get used to having "Roman Catholics" in his circuit. :)

In Christ,

Fr BFE said...

Gentlemen, I'm late for dinner after a busy day, but I do appreciate your input, and, lest we let this helpful discussion dissipate, I'll make a few remarks now, with the promise of more to follow.

Fr. Skillman: yes, of course I would consecrate in an emergency; although I am reminded of an instance in which I was chided once upon a time, by an entire room full of LCMS pastors, for refusing to allow the acceptability of grape juice in an emergency at Omaha Beach, where they had no wine to use. I didn't think to ask why grape juice was available but no wine.

Secondly, as I am sure you already suspect, my own subscription to the Confessions is in my ordination vow: to teach nothing contrary to them, and to reject the errors they condemn.

Including Arianism.

Listen, I have to say this, though it may sound offensive (sorry about that, but it is what it is):

if anyone says that the body of Christ is ever--ever--unworthy of worship, let him be anathema.

If I thought the Confessions were saying that--as it seems some do think--I would sooner condemn the Confessions than refuse to worship the body of Christ. Wouldn't you?

For Christ's body is Christ Himself, and only an Arian heretic would deny that Christ Himself should be adored in all places, as the Confessions say so well.

Rev. Paul T. McCain said...

Pr. Eckardt continues to duck the questions being raised about his practices that are specifically rejected by the Lutheran Confessions.

Gentlemen, appealing to bad practices in the Missouri Synod to excuse bad practices in the other direction is inappropriate.

Two wrongs do not a right make.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Eckardt,

Just to refresh, I've included my original questions with the numbers. Below them I've put fresh comments.

1.) Why reserve at all?

TO this you answered that celebrating mass outside of the sanctuary is awkward for you. That answers question 1. No more should really be required.

Thank you for also making clear that you would celebrate mass in an emergency or at the specific request of the sick/dying. Personally, I had no doubt as to what your answer would be.

That should settle which is more important, your comfort or the comfort of parishoners. The latter are clearly more important in your eyes. So you ARE more concerned with proper theology and people than rubrics. Again, just as I suspected.

As for those who chided you for refusing "to allow the acceptability of grape juice in an emergency at Omaha Beach, where they had no wine to use," all I can say is, if "is" means "is," then "wine" means "wine." Those pastors should have known better.

2.) Would it not be better to consecrate at the bed-side rather than refer one to a previous consecration?

As near as I can tell, your answer is simply, "no". Thank you. That is kind, brief, and direct.

I and others would disagree, but that is another discussion, or at least a significant subset of this current one.

3.) How is adoration of the elements outside of the mass not what the BOC condemns?

One of the things that the BOC and Bible condemn is Arianism. How right! You say, "If anyone says that the body of Christ is ever--ever--unworthy of worship, let him be anathema." Right! Right! Now the discussion is getting somewhere. Here, I believe we have the beginnings of an answer to question 3. But I anticipate more.

Spell it out. If Arianism is condemned, then the adoration of the elements that you have proposed is not condemned by the BOC. What then are the passages that seem to say such adoration is condemned actually saying? What is their intended sense?

4.) How is what your self-described stance toward the BOC not "in so far as" ?

Thank you also for making clear the nature of your subscription to the BOC: They are a correct, although not exhaustive, confession of the biblical faith. You will teach what they teach and condemn what they condemn BECAUSE they teach and condemn what scripture teaches and condemns. You may teach and condemn more than what the BOC teaches and condemns, because the Bible does. But you will not teach and condemn less that what the BOC teaches and condemns.

This, I would say, rules out any hint of an "in so far as" subscription. Again, just as I suspected. Question 4 has been answered completely. That really ought to settle what is a pretty important matter.

You asked me a question. If I thought a confession was saying that one ought not worship the body of Christ, would I not sooner condemn that confession than refuse to worship? Indeed, I would condemn such a confession first. Yet I do not condemn the BOC, and neither do you. What then is the harmony? Oops. Back to question 3.


Question 1 has been answered completely.

Question 2 has been answered, but no explanation has been given. However, none was asked for. So, that discussion will wait for another time so as not to sidetrack the heart of the matter: question 3.

Question 3 has begun to be answered, but we are right to expect more.

Question 4 has been answered completely, thus laying a strong foundation for further discussion of question 3.

Most gracious of you to take the time. I hope that you will offer further clarification where I've requested it. This has been truly edifying, for me at least.

In Christ
Daniel Skillman

Fr BFE said...

Regarding the usus clause in the Confessions, I believe it is a declaration that one cannot expect to receive benefits from the Sacrament in a way that God has not intended.

Hence, "nothing is a Sacrament apart from the use" makes the salutary point that one may not take the Host and parade around with it or bury a loved one with it, or whatever other thing you dream up for it, and expect that that will get you any good. It will not. The sentence is, I think, one that was ought to be self-evident. As if to say, Look, you can't just rearrange what Christ has said to do, make up your own way to do it (as Rome had done), and then go and call that a Sacrament.

Fair enough?

I think that what happened, unfortunately, is that some folks took the usus clause as a personal convenience of sorts, enabling them not to have to worry about reliquae. See, they said, the use is over! No more Sacrament! No more Christ! Throw it in the trash! Whatever! Doesn't matter.

And against this nonsense the word of Christ remains true: This is my Body (no asterisk).

More on the debate over the hospital bed later.

Fr BFE said...

Edit, above: one that was meant [not ought] to be self-evident

Rev. Thomas C. Messer, SSP said...

McCain writes:
"Pr. Eckardt continues to duck the questions being raised about his practices that are specifically rejected by the Lutheran Confessions."

Rev. McCain,

Where in our Lutheran Confessions are Fr. Eckardt's practices "specifically rejected"? Are you referring to FC SD VII:87, 108? Someplace else? I can find nothing in our Lutheran Confessions that specifically reject reserving the reliquae for the purpose of distribution to the faithful. Surely, those references do not specifically reject this practice. Do you really not see the HUGE difference between enclosing the Body and Blood of Christ SPECIFICALLY FOR adoration alone and reverently reserving the Body and Blood of Christ in a fit receptacle until it is distributed to the faithful?

McCain also writes:
"Gentlemen, appealing to bad practices in the Missouri Synod to excuse bad practices in the other direction is inappropriate. Two wrongs do not a right make."

Rev. McCain,

Who is appealing to "bad practices" in order to "excuse bad practices in the other direction?" If that were happening, I would most certainly agree that it would be wrong. But, that is not happening. Go back and re-read the posts. I don't think you'll find anyone saying, "Yeah, Fr. Eckardt's practice is bad, but at least it's not as bad as these other practices." Hence, your admonition "two wrongs don't make a right" is unwarranted.

In Christ,

Dcn Latif Haki Gaba SSP said...

Fr. Eckardt,
I've only lately had time to read through this discussion, & I must say that I was very pleased to learn of your reverent treatment of the Blessed Sacrament by means of the use of the tabernacle. It seems also that the placement of the tabernacle in your church is sufficiently prominent and noticeable as to prompt the adoration of our Lord in the Sacrament outside of the Mass. This is to your credit as well. If our Lord is truly present under the consecrated bread, and He is, then I for one am glad to seize any occasion I can find to adore Him there, when I have the blessing of being in His presence.

Anonymous said...

Reverend McCain,

Please allow me to clarify some of my statements. When you write "Gentlemen, appealing to bad practices in the Missouri Synod to excuse other bad practices is inappropriate" I couldn't agree more. And I am glad to see that you consider such things as "unordained men consecrating, pastors placing Christ's Body in Jiffy Jars, and that which God has declared holy being mixed with that which is common" as bad practices. However, it was not my intention to say that these things are in any way, shape, or form the same thing as taking previously consecrated elements to shut-ins. Rather, I simply mean to ask why are all these previously mentioned practices tolerated while this one good practice (reserving the consecrated elements for shut-ins) is attacked?

Throughout this discussion more than one pastor has stated that they are a little uncomfortable with the idea of celebrating the Lord's Supper just anywhere. Now that doesn't make it wrong. Christ's flock needs to be fed. That just means that the practice itself makes some (including myself) a little uncomfortable, but why?

Perhaps because we were taught that there is no such thing as a private Mass. Again, I am not saying that privately communing with ones shut-ins is wrong. Christ's flock needs to be fed and it is good for us to feed them. Yet perhaps the reason we don't consider such things private Masses anymore is the day we live in. Correct me if I'm wrong, but at one time wasn't it the practice of a few Lutheran churches for ordained men to take the Sacrament to their shut-ins immediately following the Words of Institution? I don't know what they used to carry the Sacrament in, but my guess is it was probably pretty ornate. Perhaps even a tabernacle of sorts.

I know that celebrating the Lord's Supper with my shut-ins at the hospital or at home is probably not the same thing as a private Mass. But still, where does one draw the line? For instance, a couple weeks ago I had to cancel church. The temperature was about thirty below and the church parking lot was covered with an inch of ice. Travel was not advised. Neither I nor my wife received the Sacrament that day because church was cancelled.

Now I suppose one could argue that I should just have had communion at home privately with my wife, but I didn't. Furthermore, I don't know if my opinion would have changed even if I was still single. Either way something just seems wrong about separating the Lord's Supper from the life of the Church.

I don't believe I have the right to have communion wherever or whenever I please or even wherever or whenever someone else pleases. Nevertheless, I am the pastor of a duel parish, my parishoners and shut-ins live in different cities all around me, and well, I think you know where I am going with this. Perhaps a tabernacle best proclaims what we confess in the third article: "In this Christian Church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers."

But of course this entire discussion really isn't about the Sacrament's use. It is clear thatin the case of Father Eckardt he uses the Sacrament to feed his parishoners. No, this discussion is about worship and Father Eckardt hit the nail on the head when he writes: "If anyone says that the body of Christ is ever--ever--unworthy of worship, let him be anatehma." Therefore, how can there ever be a proper use a part from such God pleasing worship? Whether it is during the distribution, after the benediction, after bible class, or much later who wouldn't feel compelled to worship the Incarnate God?

Anonymous said...

I meant dual parish, not "duel" parish.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Eckardt,

That ought to go a long way toward settling things.

Basically you've said:

Regarding the "usus clause": "One cannot expect to receive benefits from the Sacrament in a way that God has not intended" it to be used.

Moreover, you've explicitly condemned taking the host and parading it around expecting to receive some benefit as Rome has done.

You've made your position quite clear, including explicitly condemning the Romanist pactices one might have wondered if you endorsed because of the initial post on this thread. What more could one ask for?

Fair enough? I'd say quite. Question 4 has been answered.

Now maybe the discussion can turn the other way, and those on the "other side" could respond to what I think was YOUR point and question: None of the above means that adoration of the body of Christ is prohibited. In fact, those who refuse to adore the body of Christ have some explaining to do.

Some new questions, now for the "other side":

5.) How can you throw consecrated elements into the trash or pour them into the sewer?

6.) Why do you bow to the altar, but refuse to bow to the body of Christ, and accuse those who do of un-Lutheran practice?

In Christ,
Daniel Skillman

Anonymous said...

Oops, I meant both question 4 and 3 have been answered.

Rev. Charles Lehmann said...


I'm wondering what basis you find in the Words of our Lord that you are blessed by "being in His presence?"

Wouldn't it be best to receive the blessing in the way the Lord's Words indicate: eating and drinking?

I don't see anything in the Lord's Words to suggest that we would be blessed by His presence in the Sacrament in another way.

And, apart from the Lord's Words, there is no certainty.

Fr BFE said...

Venkman brings up an excellent point, regarding the Sunday when the weather prohibited holding mass, and says:

"Now I suppose one could argue that I should just have had communion at home privately with my wife, but I didn't. Furthermore, I don't know if my opinion would have changed even if I was still single. Either way something just seems wrong about separating the Lord's Supper from the life of the Church."

I think most everyone would agree that there would be something untoward about his communing at home privately with this wife that day. Well then--here's where my being unconfortable first came in--there seemed for me to be something similarly untoward about doing the same in a hospital room.

Now granted, there might also be something untoward about his taking elements from the tabernacle that day and using them for his personal communion with his wife, but not in the same way.

Consider: in the latter case the "impropriety"--if that's what we'd want to call it--would merely be a questionable stewardship. We expect the pastor to know who needs communion in private, and we might have a problem if he, sans an emergency need, simply communes himself and his wife in private, without a separate mass.

But in the former case, there would be a bit of an offense involved: having a private mass for just himself and his wife would be, well, a private mass.

Now move the discussion into the hospital room, and perhaps you can begin to understand my dilemma.

I have dealt with the dilemma with the acute awareness of how the Church had handled it since its infancy.

Remember Roland Ziegler's article in CTQ some years ago about that? It started out admitting that the universal practice in the East and the West has always been to reserve the elements.

To which I quipped, in a Gottesdienst piece a short time after his article appeared, that this in itself was enough to convince me of its propriety.

Rev. Paul T. McCain said...

Pr. Eckardt has yet to explain why he has so many consecrated elements remaining at the end of the Divine Service that he has no other option than to reserve it in a Tabernacle.

It's hard not to regard this as intentional, not merely a matter of happenstance.

Is there some physical impossibility of Pr. Eckardt and his elders consuming what remains at the end of the Divine Service, as is the very wise pastoral wisdom of Dr. Martin Luther?

Anonymous said...

Fr. McCain,
Fr. Eckardt has answered those questions on this thread. His reservation of elements IS intentional because he is uncomfortable holding what he considers to be private masses without ample warrent.

In Christ,
Daniel Skillman

Rev. Charles Lehmann said...

Just one point of clarification, Pr. Skillman.

It's not a private mass if there is a communicant.

Rev. Paul T. McCain said...

From which of our church's hymnals, agendas or catechetical materials does Pr. Eckardt ascertain those rubrics that led him to use a Tabernacle and commune people with reserved elements rather than speaking over them the Words of Christ?

Again, I observe, that if we wish to hold one another accountable for the greatest possible uniformity in doctrine and practice, we can not shrug our shoulders when a brother heads off on his own simply because it is on the "high side" of the equation, while holding in such contempt [well displayed on this thread] those brothers who head off down the low road.

Anonymous said...

Father Lehmann, isn't there always at least one communicant? If so, than what is the difference between private and public?

Rev. Charles Lehmann said...

There wasn't always at least one communicant in the Roman rite. Sometimes the host was consecrated explicitly for the purpose of adoration. That's what the Formula condemns. Arguably (but I think it'd be a stretch), a pastor could say a mass and commune only himself, but it would be difficult to demonstrate a need for that, and I think the Formula would advise us to avoid that also.

My practice is this. I will say a mass if there's someone to say, "Amen" and that person has requested it. Namely: shut-in visit, hospital call, etc.

Rev. Paul T. McCain said...

The Smalcald Article explicitly rejects and condemns a pastor consecrating only to commune himself, gentlemen.

If I were a member of Pr. Eckardt's parish and he came to me with reserved elements and piously reminded me what was said about them that morning in the Divine Service, I would gently interrupt and say:

"Pastor, I do hate to interrupt, and I am glad to hear that my brothers and sisters were able to hear Jesus promise to them, may I also hear Jesus directly too?"

I'm surprised also to learn in this conversation that men whom I assume hold a high view of The Office of the Holy Ministry apparently fail to understand that the Pastor, acting in the stead and by the command of Christ, in The Office, is always acting publicly on behalf of Christ and His Church even if there is only one person to receive the Supper when he, as Christ's servant, speaks the words of institution for one of the faithful.

Again, I ask, why is there need to use reliquiae when our Lord wants His faithful to hear directly the great Gospel Word, immediately?

And why should there be any good reason to have, as a matter of course and routine, so much left over that it can not be consumed reverently at the end of the Divine Service?

Are we trying to use the Lord's Supper to "make a statement" to poke a finger in the eye of brethren who have sloppy and irreverent communion practices?

Anonymous said...

Father Lehmann,

You write: "Arguably (but I think it'd be a stretch), a pastor could say a mass and commune only himself, but it would be difficult to demonstrate a need for that, and I think the Formula would advise us to avoid that also."

I agree with that. But what about the situation where you have to cancel church? Your wife can say "Amen." Do you celebrate the Mass at home? And if so, (if that is not wrong) how would it would be any different if you or I were still single and also celebrated the Mass at home? Do our wives need the Sacrament any more or less than us?

I'm not exactly sure where one draws the line here, but I am beginning to wonder if all these things are connected. Perhaps the fact that so many pastors don't feel a little uncomfortable celebrating the Mass just anywhere has led to our mistreatment of the Sacrament in other areas.

Even my shut-ins seem to understand that celebrating the Mass at home can't be compared with celebrating the Mass on Sunday at church. Neither I nor them believe that we are receiving any less grace, any less mercy, any less forgiveness during our shut-in visits. We both receive the Sacrament no different than when I receive it again on Sunday. But still a shut-in visit can't compare to going to church on Sunday and I believe it has more to do with the private nature of a shut-in visit as opposed to a Sunday service.


Rev. Charles Lehmann said...

Occasionally church has to be cancelled here due to weather.

If word didn't get to a few of them and they stopped by the house requesting the Sacrament, I'd commune them.

If it was just my wife, probably not. I wouldn't want to give the impression that she gets "special privileges" because she's the pastor's wife.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Lehmann,
You wrote, "It's not a private mass if there is a communicant."

And Venkman said...
"Father Lehmann, isn't there always at least one communicant? If so, than what is the difference between private and public?"

That could be an interesting discussion.

As for my personal thoughts, I don't find celebrating mass at the bedside to be awkward. But I won't condemn one who does.

In Christ,

Fr. McCain,

Fr. Eckardt can, and I suspect will, answer for himself.

But since you asked the question to the group, I'll take a shot at it.

LSB Altar Book, p.168, 208, 249, 270, 285: "At the conclusion of the Distribution or duing the Post-Communion Canticle, the remaining consecrated elements are set in order on the altar and covered with a veil."

LW Altar Book, p. 29, 32, : "At the conclusion of the distribution what remains of the consecrated bread and wine may be removed to the credence and covered with a veil....After the service the presiding minister should supervise the disposal of what remains of the consecrated bread and wine. The consecrated bread may be consumed by the ministers or put into a fit receptacle (pyx) for the next Communion."

The tabernacle seems to be Fr. Eckardt's and the congregation's way of observing these rubrics. It is a "fit receptacle," much like the pyx.

As for using previously consecrated elements to commune people, I suppose this follows as a matter of course if one is reserving elements. There is nothing else to do with the reserved elements. They are not to be perpetually adored, but to be consumed. Thus, they are taken to the sick and shut in. That seems to fall under what was quoted from the LW altar book above. The elements are held over "for the next Communion," which in this case would be a visit to the hospital.

Nevertheless, your point is WELL TAKEN. I personally would vastly prefer that the pastor bringing me Holy Communion at my bedside would consecrate in my hearing, rather than point me to a previous consecration.

Further, your comment on the pastor always acting in a public manner even if only in a small group setting such as at the hospital is appropriate.

Finally (for the moment), I think reserving, while not wrong in itself, is unnecessary. However, Fr. Eckardt has not suggested that it is necessary, but only the prefered practice of his congregation. It falls within the broad history of the church even since the time of the reformation. So, I say, very well. I will not condemn it.

In Christ,
Daniel Skillman

Rev. Alan Kornacki, Jr. said...

Fr. Beane wrote: "My practice is to consume everything myself. The jiggers are washed individually, and the water used to cleanse them is poured on consecrated ground. Until we can get rid of the damnable shot glasses, the blood of the Lord will continue to be desecrated, and the culpability is on me."

When I was the sacristan of the chapel at Bronxville, our communion attendance would range from 40 to 120, so we couldn't plan as closely as some would like. It became my practice to pour the consecrated wine into the earth in a place where people wouldn't walk, as we didn't have a piscina in the chapel. I would then fill the chalice with water to rinse it and then pour it in the same place. I was taught that this was a salutary practice, and that teaching was reinforced at the seminary, as I recall. I now consume the what was not used (as I did in the seminary chapel, seeing as it was easier to gauge attendance there), but for the three years I was the sacristan I could not--going to class with a buzz would have been a bad thing. Was I desecrating the blood of the Lord in your sight?

Rev. Alan Kornacki, Jr. said...

By the way, Fr. Eckardt, thank you for posting this. And thanks to everyone who has responded. This is the kind of fraternal discussion (for the most part, anyway) that I miss by not being in a parish.

Rev. Paul T. McCain said...

Dan, I've noticed others trying to use those comments in LSB Altar Book to justify their view that the remaining elements may be brought to the sick without the Words of Consecration used to consecrate them.

But a more careful reading of those words does not offer any justification for this practice.

Pr. Eckardt has not addressed the questions put to him.

Dcn Latif Haki Gaba SSP said...

Pr. Lehmann,

I just got home from work, & have not had time to reply until now. You write:

"Latif, I'm wondering what basis you find in the Words of our Lord that you are blessed by "being in His presence?""

Perhaps I can clarify. I believe that Jesus is truly and personally present under the consecrated bread. Accedat verbum ad elementum, et fit sacramentum. Attempts to put a time limit on this by means of the Nihil Rule betray a gross misunderstanding of this rule, certainly the Formula's use of it, & in particular, the true meaning of its term, "use."

If I find that I am in the same room as that awesome Presence, I condider such a situation to be a great blessing. I would consider myself to be blessed to be in the presence of the President of the U.S., or of a monarch; this is simply infinitely greater than any of those scenarios. For Christ, Who is true God and man, shed His blood for me, for the forgiveness of my sins. Therefore how can I not descend to my knees and worhip Him?

I cannot think of any time when our Lord stopped someone from physically worhipping Him. Even His enemies will one day worship Him. Only they will do so in terror. I am his friend, the beneficiary of His salvation; therefore I worship Him in praise, gratitude, and eucharistia.

Rev. Charles Lehmann said...


I can appreciate your desire to show proper reverence to our Lord, but my question was a bit more specific than that.

Luther was careful to locate all of his teaching regarding the supper in the very Words of our Lord.

The Words of the Lord indicate that the blessing (the forgiveness of sins) is received by eating and drinking.

In my reading of them, I don't see the Lord promising to bless us by being in their vicinity. Do you?

Dcn Latif Haki Gaba SSP said...

Pr. Lehmann,

You write, "I don't see the Lord promising to bless us by being in their vicinity. Do you?"

As I said, I would simply consider myself blessed to be in the presence of a great man, wouldn't you? In this case, we are talking about the very Son of God, the creator of the universe, and the Savior of mankind. I fear you are reading something here that is not necessarily here.

My question for you: when you find that you are in the presence of the Presence of Christ in the Sacrament reserved in a church, regardless of your evident disagreement with such reservation, do you, or do you not, think adoration to be an appropriate & worthy reaction on your part?

Rev. Charles Lehmann said...


Though it would seem to place me under Fr. Eckhart's charge of Arianism, my answer is no. I do not think it would be worthy or appropriate to adore the reliquae apart from their use in their actual distribution (which is where the Lord's promises rest).

Anonymous said...

Fr. Lehmann,

7.) Do you reverence Christ by bowing to the altar outside of the celebration of the sacrament of the altar? (for example: at a service of Matins; or late one Thursday night after a long day at the study, you go into the nave and pray at the altar. When you get up to leave, do you bow toward the altar?)

In Christ,
Daniel Skillma

Rev. Charles Lehmann said...

Yes, and I'm not troubled by that apparent inconsistency.

That is simply showing reverence in a place that is set aside for holy use. It is not commanded nor forbidden by either Scripture or our Confessions.

The reason that I regard adoration of the host differently is that my theology and practice of the Lord's Supper must come entirely and in every way from the Lord's Words.

To adore the host outside the Divine Service is to confess something that the Lord does not, by His Words, teach: that some blessing comes by the Sacrament apart from the eating and drinking.

I note again: I'm not saying He isn't there. That would also be speaking where the Word does not speak. I'm saying that He ties the blessing of the supper to the eating and the drinking, and I don't want to confess (even by a bow) that the blessing comes elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Lehmann,

If you can show reverence for a place set aside for holy use, specifically the place set aside for consecrating bread and wine that are the body and blood of Christ, then surely you can and should show reverence for the body and blood themselves.

Which is more important, the altar, or that which makes the altar sacred?

You show reverence to the altar, because you are showing reverence to Christ which is most certainly commanded by Scripture and our confessions. Showing reverence to Christ is not an indifferent matter.

8.) Now it is true that one need not bow to the altar. Yet, Scripture does say that everyone will bow to Jesus. Why not get started now?

9.) How does bowing to the host confess that one receives a blessing outside of eating and drinking the sacrament anymore than bowing to the altar confesses that one receives a blessing by being in its presence?

In Christ,
Daniel Skillman

Rev. Paul T. McCain said...

The fundamental error in this discussion is the assumption that the body and blood of Christ remain under the bread and wine after the conclusion of the Divine Service. There is no warrant in our Confession to believe that it does and any attempt to suggest that it is in such a way that others are made to feel guilty or that they are "desecrating" Christ's body and blood unless they adore and reverence the elements that remain as if they were the body and blood of Christ is contrary to our Confessions.

Again, a false understanding of the "nihil" rule is at work in these conversations.

The instituted use of the Sacrament is not in shutting it up and adoring it as if it were and remains forever the body and blood of Christ.

Treating the remaining bread and wine with the upmost respect? Of course. They were host to our Lord's body and blood, but acting and regarding them to be the body and blood of Christ and adoring them apart from the use of the Sacrament is incorrect.

Otherwise, gentlemen, we should, and must, rewrite our Confessions and stop rejecting and condemning Eucharistic Adoration and putting the body and blood of Christ on display for worship. If in fact what remains is forever the body and blood of Christ, then why would we shut it up in a cabinet, or even a Tabernacle? Why not put it in a monstrance and put it on display for all to worship and adore?

Do we, or do we not, regard ourselves to be bound to reject, with heart and mouth, as false, erroneous, and misleading the view that the elements or the visible frms of the consecrated bread and wine are to be adored outside the true use of the Sacrament?

That "use" is not in shutting up remaining elements in Tabernacles, or otherwise, but only when and where the congregation is assembled for the Lord's Supper, to hear the Word of Christ and to receive the body and blood of Christ, it is in this use, and not in any other, that we can and must declare, and confess, that the bread and wine are the body and blood of Christ, but outside that use we have no reason to believe or teach that what remains is to be shut up in a Tabernacle and treated as the body and blood of Christ.

Finally, the meaning of SD VII.85 is not as uncertain or wide as some wish it were. Luther's Wolferinus correspondence is specifically cited by the SD and appealed to for the intention and meaning of the nihil rule.
But there is more, there is in the Formula a direct reference to a key document by Luther, the so-called Wolferinus conference, it has been called by Pastor Teigen, the "lost Luther reference" because it is omitted in most modern editions of the BoC. And where does this reference appear? Precisely where our Confessions set forth the principle/axiom that apart from the intended, instituted use, there is no Sacrament, the so-called "nihil" rule, from the Latin: nihil, or "nothing." The phrase is: "Nothing has the character of a sacrament apart from those instituted by Christ, or apart form the divinely instituted action" [FC VII.85]. The Formula appeals directly to Luther.

Please let us not suggest, or think, that Luther's writing and teachings on the Supper, and particularly what he has to say on these very issues, have little or no bearing on these questions. Luther's writings on these issues are not in any way to be regarded as merely personal opinion. No, not at all. They were, by the Formula itself, elevated to confessional status. In fact, they have everything to do with this issue.

It is precisely in this discussion in FC SD VII that there is a reference to Luther's Works. Now, here is where it gets really interesting. In modern English editions of the Formula, because they rely on the BKS [sadly, far, far too much!], you do not see the most interesting reference for our purposes. I'm pleased to report that in the Concordia edition the reference has been restored, reflecting the German 1580 edition, the authoritative first-edition of the Formula. The reference that is "lost" (but now found) appears in SD VII.87, which points the reader for more information on the nihil rule by stating it and then saying we hold to this rule "as Luther has explained it." The BKS incorrectly points the reader to WA 30,11,254,255; cf. Smalcald Articles, Pt. III, Article XV, 4. This is simply, and plainly, wrong. There is nothing here to be found about the instituted use or what, precisely, Luther meant by the actio in the famous "nihil" rule. K/W gets it right, and cites the letter by Luther referred to here.

A careful look at the original form of the Formula, the German, says that we are to look to the Jena edition of Luther's Works, that famous edition put together by the Gnesio-Lutherans, under the sponsorship of his Electoral Grace, Duke Johann Friedrich the Magnanimous (my personal favorite Lutheran hero of the Reformation).

What is to be found in the Jena edition when we look there, in volume IV? That's a tough one, because the critical edition of the BKS, gives us no idea where to look in any modern edition of Luther's works for this obscure reference. When one goes to the Jena edition, and looks in Volume IV, what does one find? [I've seen this with my own eyes, in the Jena edition in the rare book holdings of Concordia Theological Seminary, how I came to find it, I'll explain at the end of this post].

Aha! It is none other than the the famous Wolferinus correspondence! I'll reproduce it below, then note the point that I believe applies directly to our conversation, since this clearly is correspondence the Formula is pointing us to "for more information/more details/if you want to understand what we mean and believe, here you go" Please read this carefully:

The fourth volume of the Jena edition volume contains the Latin writings of Luther from 1538 to 1547. Here, folio pages 585 and following are obviously the reference to which the SD VII.87 directs us. It is Luther's second letter to Wolferinus, 20 July 1543:

Grace and peace,

Indeed, why should I not have been disturbed and saddened, my dear Simon Wolferinus, when I saw you two, living together in one town and the ministers of one church, agreeing completely in doctrine, but carrying on between yourselves with such a bitter spirit, because of a matter which you have neither examined closely enough, and which is not that important if it were examined more closely? Look at these propositions of yours, and see whether or not such a terrible outcry is in keeping with charity and brotherly love. I see that Satan is tempting you, by making a beam out of a splinter, or rather a fire out of a spark. You could have solved this by a meeting between the two of you, since it is not a matter of being against the madness of the papists, but against a colleague of yours in the ministry and in religion.

Indeed Dr. Philip wrote rightly that there is no sacrament outside of the sacramental action; but you are ending the sacramental action much too hastily and abruptly. If you do it in this way, you will appear to have absolutely no sacrament. For if such a quick breaking off of the action really exists, it will follow that after the speaking of the Words [of institution], which is the most powerful and principle action in the sacrament, no one would receive the body and blood of Christ, because the action would have ceased. Certainly Dr. Philip does not want that. But such a decision of the action would bring about inti scruples of conscience and endless questions, such as are disputed among the papists, as, for example, whether the body and blood of Christ are present at the first, middle, or last syllable. Therefore, one must look not only upon this movement of instant or present action but also on the time. Not in terms of mathematical but of physical breadth, that is, one must give this action a certain period of time, in a period of appropriate breadth of time, as they say, "in breadth."

Therefore, we shall define the time of the sacramental action in this way: that it starts with the beginning the Our Father and lasts until all have communicated, have emptied chalice, have consumed the hosts, until the people have been dismissed and [the priest] has left the altar. In this way we shall be safe and free from the scruples and scandals of such endless questions. Dr. Philip defines the sacramental action in relation to what is outside it, that is, against reservation of and processions with the sacrament. He does not split it up within [the action] itself, nor does he define it in a way that it contradicts itself. Therefore see to it that if anything is left over of the sacrament, either some communicants or the priest himself and his assistant receive it, so that it is not only a curate or someone else who drinks what is left over in the chalice, but that he gives it to the others who were also participants in the body [of Christ], so that you do not appear to divide the sacrament by a bad example or to treat the sacramental action irreverently. This is my opinion and I know that it is also Philip's opinion too.7

We do well simply to heed the wisdom of Dr. Luther and consume what remains at the end of the Supper and be done with all these foolish speculations, arguments and accusations.

Even if some might wish to assert more on these points, let them, for the sake of love for the brethren, not presume to introduce practices that are alien to our Confession and foreign to our practice.

Satis est.

Anonymous said...

Fr. McCain,

A most excellent post.

I think you've hit the nail on the head when you say that the crux of the discussion is whether or not "the body and blood of Christ remain under the bread and wine after the conclusion of the Divine Service."

My inclination is to say that the bread and wine do remain the body and blood of Christ. I believe that this is in harmony with the BOC.

Yet, your recent post gives me pause. Thank you for the opportunity to reevaluate my position in order to come more in line with what the Scriptures teach.

In Christ,
Daniel Skillman

Fr BFE said...

Pr. Lehmann, you make a laudable and bold assertion: "My theology and practice of the Lord's Supper must come entirely and in every way from the Lord's Words."

I completely agree.

As for those who like to mark an end to the presence of the Lord's Body in the consecrated bread, I would say that they would be hard pressed to say the same thing.

They confess the post-benediction withdrawal of Christ's Body, and evidently believe this is what the Confessions say, or what Luther says.

So I got to wondering whether they have considered how the Confessions or Luther might have arrived at that (alleged) position. For surely they do not believe Luther to have had access to direct revelation apart from the Word!

These questions should be dealt with exegetically first of all, it seems to me. Certainly that is how Luther always dealt with them. Consider his stance at the Marburg Colloquy.

I imagine Luther would have been incredulous, had he ever heard that some people, after hearing his emphatic declaration on the subject of the sacramental Presence of Christ at Mass, actually thought he was asserting that the sacramental elements did in fact cease to be Christ after the priest had gone home. It strikes me as akin to having St. Peter say to Jesus, "But Lord, should I forgive my brother the 491st time he sins against me?"

Rev. Paul T. McCain said...

Pr. Eckardt, why do you choose to ignore the chief teacher of the churches of the Augsburg Confession when he offers such wonderful pastoral guidance, which is explicitly referenced by our Confessions, explaining precisely what the best way is to handle all these speculations, arguments and needless controversies in regard to what remains when the sacramental action in the Divine Service is concluded?

You can't have these things both ways, Fritz. You can't, as I've seen you and others often do, attempt to wrest even the most remote liturgical minutiae from the most obscure references and allusions in the Lutheran Confessions and then simply turn your back on what is much more clearly stated and asserted about these issues.

This is precisely why I say you are operating with a de-facto quia subscription to the Lutheran Confessions.

"In so far as they support my personal theories, speculations and pet liturgical hobby horses, I will agree with what they assert and teach."

Petersen said...

Dear Pastor McCain,

I am having difficulty finding how your remarks against Pastor Eckardt are kind, generous, and putting the best construction on what he has said.

How is that putting these words in his mouth: "In so far as they support my personal theories, speculations and pet liturgical hobby horses, I will agree with what they assert and teach." is not, well, putting words in his mouth and constructing a straw man? How is it that such a argument is also anything other than an attack on his motivations and intentions, that is to say, an attack on his character?

I don't want to misconstrue the tone or intent of your words. I know you to be a loving brother who seeks to truly dialogue, to learn from each other, to be fraternal. Can you please let us in on your intentions and such so that we don't have to guess and don't misunderstand what you have written?

Yours in Christ,

Dave Petersen

Rev. Thomas C. Messer, SSP said...

Rev. McCain,

I'm really struggling with how you conclude from the references you've cited that the consecrated bread and wine cease being the Body and Blood of Christ when the Divine Service concludes. I don't hear Fr. Martin saying that at all. And, I definitely don't find that in the Formula.

If Fr. Martin is saying that the consecrated bread and wine cease being the Body and Blood of Christ, then why the counsel to consume everything? What would that matter? Just to avoid scandal? What scandal would there be? If it's just bread and wine, there can be no scandal. It seems to me that he gives this counsel precisely because he recognizes that the Body and Blood of Christ is still there and needs to be consumed.

I'm finding it difficult to believe that Fr. Martin would have a problem with reserving the Body and Blood of Christ FOR THE PURPOSE OF DISTRIBUTION to the sick/shut-in. I completely understand his opposition to consecrating elements for the sole purpose of adoration. Christ did not institute the Sacrament for that purpose, and our Confessions rightly condemn the papistic abuses stemming from that practice. But, how reserving the Body and Blood of Christ for distribution falls under that condemnation is a mystery to me.

I believe, teach, and confess that the consecrated bread and wine remain Christ's Body and Blood until they are consumed. I'm an "Is" means "Is" guy. Are you saying that this means that I'm being unfaithful to my ordination vows?

Rev. Charles Lehmann said...

Fr. Eckhardt,

Thank you for your kind words. I agree with you that it is difficult to argue from the Lord's Words that the elements cease to be the Lord's body and blood at the conclusion of the distribution or the service.

In fact, I think that's why it's also to argue thus from the Confessions.

On the other hand, I remain uncomfortable with the adoration of the elements apart from the distribution. I think, on the basis of the Lord's words, that the proper adoration of the Lord's body and blood precisely in eating and drinking.

That's not to say that they become what they are in the eating and drinking. I agree with Chrysostom (as cited in the Formula). The body and blood are on the altar.

I do not doubt what is in your tabernacle or what you distribute to your shut-ins. I'm glad that you speak the Verba again so that any doubt that could exist in the minds of your parishoners is surely removed. I do wish that you wouldn't speak words that say it's not a consecration.

When I served under Fr. Weedon, he spoke the words without preface. I think he did what was best for his people in doing this.

I agree with my friend, Fr. Curtis, that I do think it is best to say a mass, even if it makes us uncomfortable because of the setting.

The Lord has never been shy about butting in. Why should he be shy about a hospital or someone's coffee table?

The Lutheran Confessors were wise to try to eliminate doubt and reduce the need for questions (like what is the bread after the service). I think that is why they gave us the good advice to consume the reliquae.


Anonymous said...

Where in our confessions does it talk about these "three stages" of the Sacrament?

1. There is of course the bread and wine.

2. There is of course the true Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine instituted by Christ Himself for us Christians to eat and to drink.

3. And finally we are supposed to believe that there is the bread and wine which formerly was the Body and Blood of Christ, but now is only bread and wine. However, these elements should not be treated like regular bread and wine although one certainly should not treat them like the Lord's Body and Blood either. You see, at this stage the Sacrament ceases to be the Sacrament. Why? Because the validity of the Sacrament depends on our use and not on God's Word. (Yeah, that sounds Lutheran.) If you are confused please let me explain. In the words of Rev. McCain: "The instituted use of the Sacrament is not in shutting it up and adoring it as if it were and remains forever the body and blood of Christ. Treating the remaining bread and wine with the upmost respect? Of course. They were host to our Lord's body and blood, but acting and regarding them to be the body and blood of Christ and adoring them apart from the use of the Sacrament is incorrect."

Seriously, where are these "three stages" of the Sacrament found in either Scripture or our confessions?

Ok, don't stick the Sacrament in a monstrance, bury people with it, or hang it over your door to keep vampires away, I get it. Rev. McCain I agree. These things are bad; really, really bad. In fact, I think everyone here agrees. That's not why Christ instituted the Holy Supper. Christ instituted the Holy Supper for us Christians to eat and to drink. Who here disagrees with this? No one. So where do we disagree?

I think we disagree on this Eucharistic "three stage" business. I really don't know what else to call it. But listen, we all know what should be done with the Sacrament; it should be eaten and drunk. Doubt only arises in people's minds when we begin to point toward the altar and say, the bread and wine which formerly were the body and blood of Christ. So now I shall reconsecrate that which was once consecrated because you can't always trust God's Word. You can only trust one man's interpretation of our confessions.

So again I'll ask where in our confessions does it talk about these "three stages" of the Sacrament?

Anonymous said...

And that "one man's interpretation" business doesn't refer to Rev. McCain or Father Eckardt or anyone else. Just for the record. :)

Rev. Larry Beane said...

Dear Al:

You wrote: "Was I desecrating the blood of the Lord in your sight?"

Goodness, no! That's what we do at Salem - as we likewise have no piscina. We cleanse the individualist cups thoroughly with water, and then dispose of the water reverently - not in the sewer.

What I do, is pour the water sanctified by the Lord's blood into the sanctified ground of the church yard - but away from the drains that lead to the sewer.

It is far from a perfect solution, but as long as we use those disgusting germ-ridden desecratory Dixie Cups from Hell(tm), that's the best I can do.

This is one area that I hope pastoral teaching combined with a long-term generational outlook will eventually end the practice. Our young people almost exclusively use the chalice, and I do get defections from the "belly up to the bar shooters" every now and then.

I wish I knew who the guy was that introduced the little evils to our congregation during the 1980s AIDS hysteria. I'd like to put his mug on a punching bag.

Rev. Larry Beane said...

Dear Latif:

I'm with you.

To be in the Presence of our Lord is a great blessing.

"Blessing" does not necessarily mean "forgiveness of sins." This is a difficulty in speaking to many Lutherans. They hear "blessing" but their brains jumble the message to "sacramental justification" and then accuse you of something you have never advocated.

The benediction at the end of the service, for example, is a literal blessing - and yet it isn't a sacrament. Conducting the House Blessing service is a blessing, and yet it is not Holy Absolution. It is not a sacrament.

Obviously, Luther had to deal with people who, for whatever reason (perhaps intimidation?), refused to commune (eat and drink), but only looked at the consecrated elements from afar. That is a far-different set of problems than we have today.

Luther and the reformers also dealt with the problem of consecrations with no intention of eating and drinking. That's a very different issue than the storage of consecrated elements that will, in fact, be eaten and drunk. Those elements are the Body and Blood of Christ until He says otherwise (unless Jesus is a liar). "Outside the use" refers to elements consecrated only to be placed in a monstrance and adored without being eaten. Fritz is not doing this. Every host in his tabernacle is destined to be eaten. Anyone who claims otherwise has some "splainin" to do.

Our own rubrics call for the reverent reservation of the elements in a fitting vessel. Look, if it's only bread, a fitting vessel might be a bowl and some dip. But we all know that would be improper, just as we all know pouring consecrated wine into the sewer is improper - because of what it is.

But even when I am unable to commune (for example, when I attend a Roman Mass with a family member), I still pray "my Lord and my God" at the elevation, and I am blessed by our dear Lord's proximity - not unto the forgiveness of sins, nor in any sacramental way - but in the same way that the magi were blessed by the very presence of the Lord of the Universe, who was unable to give them a single word of absolution nor His body and blood.

Rev. Alan Kornacki, Jr. said...

Fr. Beane--

Sorry. I must have read you wrong. That's what I get for commenting fresh off anesthesia.


Dcn Latif Haki Gaba SSP said...

Pastor McCain: you are right when you say that “a false understanding of the Nihil Rule is at work in these conversations.” Admissions come in the most ironic ways sometimes. You tip your hat, show your cards, if you will, when you say, “The fundamental error in this discussion is the assumption that the body and blood of Christ remain under the bread and wine,” etc.

Several months ago when you promoted this strange doctrine at your blog (that the Presence of Christ under the bread & wine be referenced in the past tense after the Mass has ended) you allowed, not my comment objecting to this view, but the comment of a man who said that it is proper to clean up a dropped particle of the consecrated bread with a “dustbuster.” Your talk of reverent treatment of the reliquiae, in light of this & many statements of your own, rings hollow.

As a matter of fact, you have proved that your real objection is not merely with the “overly reverent” treatment of the sacred reliquiae outside of the Mass, but also of the consecrated bread & wine within the Mass. You have referred to my advocacy of the traditional rubrics regarding the reverent handling of the Body of Christ as “pharisaic hyper-ritualism” which pertains more to the “13th century doctrine of transubstantiation” than to Lutheran doctrine. Your position is clear & on the record. (You must think the Blessed Reformer guilty of 13th century transubstantiationist hyper-ritualism, who even late in life did things like licked the dropped Blood of Christ from the floor when administering the Sacrament at the Church of Our Lady in Halle.)

In light of the fact, therefore, that there are voices such as yours on the scene today, which likely have at least some influence in the Church, I am grateful & delighted that there are places where traditional rubrics are maintained which are consistent with the notion that it is actually Jesus Himself, true God and man, that is present among us in the Blessed Sacrament, both within the Mass (such as the lavabo) and outside the Mass (such as the reverent keeping of the Sacrament in the tabernacle).

Pastor Lehmann: you seek to locate all of your eucharistic theology in the promises of our Lord in the Word He speaks in the institution of the Sacrament. One of His promises is to be there. Where He promises to be, I will pay Him homage and adoration. And as I do so, I will pray that my heart will one day worship Him as fully & consistently as I force my body to do.

Anonymous said...

Try reading the extensive PhD thesis called Luther and the Principle Apart from the Use there is No Sacrament by Edward F Peters... It is a scholarly look into Luther's practice and his theology regarding what remains after the celebration and what the use is of the Sacrament...

I had a tabernacle built in my first parish some 30 years ago, have one here in my second parish (of some 17 years).

The point of this is the reverent place for the continuing use of the sacrament from the Sunday celebration through the week as the sick are included in that celebration. I do not see and have never been shown where this is in conflict with the Lutheran Symbols...

Paul McCain is arbitrary about this but I am equally arbitrary about the disrepect shown to the elements that remain -- at seminary in Pastoral Practice I was told by the instructor that he had a toilet off the vestry and he just poured it down and flushed the hosts away there...

This could constitute, according to Luther, the greater and more serious break with our confessional faith... Yet the argument is placed more often against those who reserve vs those who practice abuse and terrible disrespect to the Lord's Body and Blood.

Larry A Peters

Rev. Paul T. McCain said...

Here is Dr. Roland Ziegler's superbly documented and well researched article on the practice of reservation in historic Lutheranism. Where it continued [for a relatively brief time] it was a concession.

Pr. Eckardt has misrepresented the article here, and elsewhere.


Rev. Paul T. McCain said...

Sorry, bad link.

Here it is:


Rev. Paul T. McCain said...

One final comment.

You won't be able to sustain your case for a Tabernacle on the grounds of Scripture or the Confessions, unless the Lutheran Confessions are no longer regarded as a normative assertion of our doctrine and practice.

Appealing, ad naseum, to horrible practices with the remaining elements is merely to raise a red herring in the discussion.

The way to combat those errors in practice is not to turn around and embrace another error in practice.

Why are you gentlemen not willing to heed the chief teacher of the Augsburg Confession's wise advice on how to handle the remaining elements so as to avoid all of these kinds of foolish and harmful speculative conversations?

Anonymous said...

Fr. McCain,

Thanks for the link to the article.

That really ought to settle things.

Is the consecrated bread and wine
always and forever the body and blood of Christ? I think it is.

But how much better it is to avoid controversy and improper use of the sacrament by consuming or reverently disposing of what remains after each Mass. Further, how much better it is to speak our Lord's words in his stead and by his command whenever we as called servants are distributing the body and blood of Christ, whether in the church building or in the hospital building.

In Christ,
Daniel Skillman

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Father Eckardt already tell us that he repeats the Words of Institution for the sake of his shut-ins? I suppose the only difference between this and the practice of many in the Missouri Synod is that most would simply recosecrate previously consecrated elements. But how does that not cause doubt?

Talk about consuming everything all you want, but those of us who actually do consume everything during the service know that even this causes offense. And for those who wait till after the benediction to consume everything for the sake of time, if there is any doubt in your mind as to what it is after the benediction should you really be communing.

Poor Luther, should have waited till after the benediction to clean up the Blood he spilled. At least then he could have just used a mop!

Anonymous said...

"If there is any doubt in your mind as to what it is after the benediction should you really be communing?"

It's supposed to be a question.

Fr BFE said...

Pr. Lehman, you said,

"I remain uncomfortable with the adoration of the elements apart from the distribution. I think, on the basis of the Lord's words, that the proper adoration of the Lord's body and blood precisely in eating and drinking."

I'd like to pick up this thread and have us consider it a bit more carefully. Wherein precisely does this "proper" adoration of the Lord's body and blood consist? In the eating and drinking per se? No. That is, this adoration is not synonymous with the eating and drinking, but occurs, rather, in connection with the eating and drinking.

Yet I think you will agree that the "proper" adoration of which you speak is that which goes on during the Mass rather than afterwards.

What is it, then?

You are no doubt aware that Luther favored the retention of the elevation. For what purpose, then? Certainly for adoration, during the Mass.

But why? Here is the question I'd now like to address in his discussion.

What benefit is to be gained from adoring the host when it is elevated prior to communing? No forgiveness is promised by the Lord in connection with merely gazing upon the host as it is elevated. Is the host here being used for some purpose other than it was instituted, then?

I half expect Pr. McCain to say yes here, but honestly, I would hope we can all agree that it is salutary to gaze upon the elevated host and adore it in the Mass, just prior to the Distribution.

How is such adoration not bad practice, in error, abominable, etc.?

Certainly, because hereby we confess that it is truly Christ's body that we are about to receive. But more than that, because it is Christ's body, and Christ's body is always worthy of adoration, as I have indicated above.

If this adoration during the service is proper, then how is adoration of the elements at any other time improper?

What about a monstrance, then, you might be wondering.

Here we cross into what we rightly call an abuse of the Sacrament. It was not instituted for adoration, but for reception by mouth. We adore the body of Christ in the Sacrament, as it were, incidentally, while it is in use (aha! there's the usus) for its intended purpose.

However: here's another point for consideration. Fr. Beane, your post got me thinking about this.

What does one do if he visits a Roman Catholic church, say, to see the architectural design, and he finds that, while he is touring, they are holding hours of adoration? He enters and sees a monstrance sitting on the altar. Is it proper to genuflect or not?

I'd say yes, though there is clearly a problem at work here. They're abusing the host by this practice, and that makes me uncomfortable, to be sure. Nevertheless, it is the body of Christ.

Put it this way: if you were at the scene of crucifixion, where Christ's body was clearly being abused, would it be improper to genuflect before Him?

This entire conversation, incidentally, is most assuredly not of the harmfully speculative kind. We're talking about the body of Christ, and whether, as Venkman has asked, we must worry about a ghastly third stage after which the body of Christ withdraws. Pretty serious stuff, it seems to me.

I'm curious. Can we all agree that during the Mass, it is not improper to adore the elevated host prior to (and thus apart from actually) receiving it?

Anonymous said...

Interesting. So what is the abuse? The fact that Rome takes the Sacrament and separates it from the intended use? Or (as I believe some would argue) the fact that Rome kneels before a piece of bread which they consider the Flesh of the living God?

It would be very helpful for this discussion if we could clarify: does the abuse lie in Rome's misuse of the Sacrament? Or does the abuse lie in Rome claiming that Christ is present at all?

Anonymous said...

To futher help us answer these questions please refer to this fantastic link that clearly spells out Rome's errors. *heh, heh*


Rev. Thomas C. Messer, SSP said...

Fr. Eckardt,

I, for one, could not agree with you more. Where Christ is, our adoration is in order, be it during the Mass, after the Mass, or even if we find ourselves in an RC Church during hours of adoration (even though, as you note, they are abusing our Lord in this way).

Incidentally, I took a poll this morning during Bible Study. I asked those in attendance when they thought the consecrated bread and wine ceased being the Body and Blood of Christ. I gave them three options: 1) At the Dismissal; 2) At the Benediction; 3) Never.

There were 20 people in Bible Study this morning, which is a little low for us, as we average around 30 (don't know why I mentioned that, other than I'm baffled by this, given the beautiful weather today). Anyway, 18 of them (90%) answered never. 2 answered at the Benediction (10%). No one answered at the Dismissal.

Then, I asked them to explain themselves and a lively discussion ensued. I stayed out of it, as best I could, for a while, letting everyone defend their positions on their own. Before long, the 18 had the 2 convinced, without any influence from me (I just played moderator), and they changed their opinion to never.

So, then, I had everyone turn to SD VII and we read paragraphs 85-87 together (yeah, we have BoCs enough to go around - we're nerdy Lutherans that way:). And this is the amazing thing - none of them changed their minds. I thought for sure some would interpret "apart from this use it is to be regarded as no Sacrament" to mean that the consecrated elements ceased being the Body and Blood after at the Dismissal or Benediction. Nope! They were sticking to "is" means "is" and didn't think the Formula said anything different. Great discussion followed.

Just thought I'd share! :)

Fr BFE said...

The aforementioned abuses of the Sacrament are egregious, it seems to me, precisely because of what it is, not because of what it isn't.

Oh, and by the way, I need to return to a much earlier comment made by Fr. Curtis. His sedes doctrinae for not reserving the Sacrament is the instruction to the Israelites in the wilderness regarding the manna: let none of it remain until morning.

I got to thinking about that, and it seems to me that it could just as well be my own sedes, in view of the fact that there was an exception to the rule for the Sabbath. They were to gather twice as much as they needed on Friday, so as not to have to gather on the Sabbath. Hence in that exceptional case, they did in fact reserve.

So also, in the exceptional case of the sick who cannot attend Mass, it is fitting to reserve; indeed perhaps this is part of the reason the Church has done so since its earliest days.

Rev. Thomas C. Messer, SSP said...

Rev. McCain,

It would be nice if you would really try to pay attention to what people write and draft your responses accordingly. It would also be nice if you would answer questions when they are directed your way, especially given the fact that you like to ask your fair share.

Here's how this works:

You asked the question:
"Why are you gentlemen not willing to heed the chief teacher of the Augsburg Confession's wise advice on how to handle the remaining elements so as to avoid all of these kinds of foolish and harmful speculative conversations?"

Here is my answer:
I see nothing at all wrong with the chief teacher of the Augsburg Confession's wise advice to consume the remaining elements. This is, in fact, the practice I follow. Many others here have stated the same. At the same time, I do not have a problem with Fr. Eckardt's practice whatsoever. This is NOT BECAUSE (are you listening?) I believe his practice is less bad than other bad practices. I don't think his practice is bad at all. He is guilty of none of the abuses condemned by our Confessions, as he has made clear by his own testimony, which you just go on happily ignoring. He reserves the Body and Blood of Christ FOR THE PURPOSE OF DISTRIBUTION to the sick/shut-in. You may not like this practice. Dr. Luther, and others (including me), may prefer a different practice. But, your likes and their (our) preferences do not a bad practice make. If you have some evidence from Holy Scripture or our Lutheran Confessions where Fr. Eckardt's practice is condemned, bring it forward. If not, why continue with the vehement protest? Does everything have to be your way?

With all of that said, I am also of the opinion that not only is Fr. Eckardt's practice NOT BAD, but it is actually quite refreshing, given the deplorable practices surrounding the Eucharist today. NOTE: This is NOT a red herring. I'm not deliberately changing the subject or trying to divert the argument. I'm ADDING to the subject and FURTHERING the argument. Most congregations in our synod practice reservation, whether you like it or not. If you're going to practice reservation, I can think of no better or more reverent and faithful way to do so than the way Fr. Eckardt does. In a day and age when any semblance of reverence toward the Sacrament is lacking in many places, it seems utterly absurd to be pointing an accusatory finger at a brother who shows the Body and Blood of our Lord the reverence and adoration It most certainly deserves.

Now, my questions to you (although I have no confidence that you'll bother answering them):

1) Where in Holy Scripture do you find a basis for your belief that the consecrated bread and wine cease being the Body and Blood of Christ? Where in our Lutheran Confessions?

2) If you don't believe the consecrated bread and wine remain the Body and Blood of Christ, whence the scandal, and why so adamant?

3) [Repeat Question] If I believe, teach, and confess that the consecrated bread and wine remain Christ's Body and Blood until they are consumed, does this, in your estimation, mean that I'm being unfaithful to my ordination vows?

Rev. Larry Beane said...

I'm wondering if some Lutherans would insist on reverencing the altar only when the consecrated elements are *not* there, while refusing to genuflect when they *are*do there?

In other words, it seems that some guys are actually implying it would be proper to bow or genuflect when the altar is empty, but refuse to so when the elements are present, being reserved in a "fit receptacle" per our bureaucratically-approved rubrics.

Of course, this rubrical problem can easily be solved by using a lamp. Fr. Eckardt could have a lamp lit when the tabernacle is empty, so those who want to reverence the Real Absence can do so without harm to the conscience thinking they might actually be kneeling before Jesus - which seems to violate the Lutheran confessions in the fantasies of some of our brethren.

Let me again quote my dear wife (to be said with the look of abject pity on her face, while shaking her head slowly back and forth with a sigh): "You Lutherans..."

If you want to know why we have had such a drain recently to other historic communions, there you have it. I can't help but wonder if some Eastern Orthodox seminaries have photos on the wall of some of our members with a tag underneath that says: "Excellence in Recruitment."

Anonymous said...

Fr. Eckardt,

You asked, "Can we all agree that during the Mass, it is not improper to adore the elevated host prior to (and thus apart from actually) receiving it?"

I, for one, do so agree. It is NOT improper to adore the elevated host prior to receiving it. In fact, it IS MOST proper to adore the elevated host prior to receiving it.

In Christ,


Fr. Hollywood,

You write, "I'm wondering if some Lutherans would insist on reverencing the altar only when the consecrated elements are *not* there, while refusing to genuflect when they *are*do there?"

I've been wondering the exact same thing, and I've posted previously to that effect. We all bow to the altar outside of the mass, but some would refuse to bow outside of the mass if consecrated elements were there. HUH?

To all,

Shifting gears a bit: I just want to be faithful in all this. Really. But, I admit, I'm confused.

I don't want to use the elements improperly. I don't want to deny that they are the body and blood of Christ. I don't want to not consecrate in the presence of those who are to receive. I don't want to "re-consecrate" something already consecrated.

Therefore, it seems to me that the best thing to do is consume all the elements at the mass.

I was wondering if we could all agree to this statement: While other practices might be acceptable, it is the best practice to consume all the elements at the mass.

Daniel Skillman

Rev. Charles Lehmann said...

I have no difficulty reverencing the Lord's body and blood in the context of the Divine Service itself.

I do have a problem with the reservation of the body and blood and anything that would suggest that we are to adore the elements in any context but the divine service during which they are being distributed.

I don't think that there is a problem with me holding this position. I think it's perfectly consistent with desire to faithfully confess biblical and confessional doctrine and practice.

I believe the problem, rather, is with those who insist on reserving the elements. I don't agree with Pr. McCain on the lack of an enduring presence, but I do agree with him that the practice of reservation is one that is strongly advised against in our Confessions.

Satis est. (And I mean it this time)

Bryce P Wandrey said...

I know that I am probably speaking where I shouldn't (ie. an Anglican speaking on a Lutheran blog) but I can't help adding to this discussion with my experience in a Lutheran congregation as their pastor.

The congregation that I served made their own bread and wine. This was very much a labour of love for them. But two things became very obvious in a short time while there. 1) They were uncomfortable with either the pastor or the lay assistants consuming the remaining blood of Christ (and to a slight extent the remaining hosts); 2) They were not going to go for disposing of either. Why? Because someone had laboured to make both of these elements and wanted them to be put to the use intended.

Okay...now you might say I could have started a process of measuring out the exact, or pretty close, amounts of each for each service. Really, the Altar Guild was responsible for this (while they asked me on some occassions just how much). After awhile we got pretty close 10-15 hosts, etc. remaining. And yet, it would have been offensive to either consume or reverently dispose of even this much because of the above stated reason.

So, I decided to do the next best thing: reserve for our shut-ins. I would take the remaining sacrament to the shut-ins, saying words quite similar to what Burnell says before proclaiming the words of institution. I would also make the point the shut-in that the sacrament they were about to partake was indeed the sacrament brought from the altar of the congregation that they were now unable to get to. I thought this was a very comforting thing for them to know: "this is the meal that my congregation also enjoyed just a couple of days previous". (I also found it akward going around and, at times, celebrating 2-3 small communion services in one day.)

The really cool thing that happened was the Sunday after the elders, the altar guild and myself came to the decision to make this our practice, I showed up on Sunday morning and noticed a pyx and cruet on the "shelf" behind the altar (forgive my inability to remember the correct liturugical term for that shelf right now). One of the members of the altar guild said to me: "Pastor, we thought if we are going to reserve the elements for the shut-ins that there is no better place to keep them than near the altar." Well, my only response was "What a wonderful idea!" I had intended on suggesting just that at some point but lo and behold, sacramental piety took over for catechesis. Or maybe catechesis formed sacramental piety which saved me another proposal. All in all, in the end it was a great practice.

Fr BFE said...

Fr. Beane, you're killing me . . .

Fr. Messer, I fear you're wasting your time, as it appears you also suspect.

Fr. Skillman, you ask:

"I was wondering if we could all agree to this statement: While other practices might be acceptable, it is the best practice to consume all the elements at the mass."

Obviously I would not agree. You might think that in taking my position I'm going against Luther's counsel, but in fact I don't even think Luther would agree.

Luther's practice was always to confess against whatever foul abomination the devil happened to be throwing at him.

Therefore while I can agree that reservation might not be such a good idea in a context where the Sacrament has been turned into an amulet, which also explains his rant against taking it as an opus operatum, it also seems clear that the context has most assuredly changed.

And so, since Luther was not unwilling even to make adjustments to the ordinary of the Mass to deal with abuse, I have no problem opining that he may have recommended, were he in our context, that the Sacrament be reserved, with the provision that it is used for the sick.

For our context is a radical departure from that which threatened the faithful in the sixteenth century. Far from being a good-luck charm, the Sacrament has become something to be despised and trodden under foot, all under the guise of the third stage, as Venkman calls it, the withdrawal of the body of Christ at the benediction.

Or worse! Though there are some who agree that there is no withdrawal of the body of Christ at the third stage, nevertheless they refuse on principle to adore His body after the benediction! Hence the third stage has become the stage at which clear thinking withdraws (and I'm trying to be charitable here)!

For fear of abuse, then, must we suppose that the woman with the twelve-year flow of blood should not have crawled up behind Him to touch the hem of His garment, thinking this would heal her?

Hey, He did heal her this way, come to think of it! Why, how can that be?

Fr BFE said...

Fr. Skillman, I meant no disrespect for you by the previous post; my diatribe might have seemed so, since I was replying to your post. But it was just that, a diatribe.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Eckardt,

I sensed no disrespect.

I am sincerely confused about all this. I want to do right. I'm just not sure what "right" is in this case. These things matter to me quite a bit, as I know they do to you. This discussion has been far from academic for me.

When I see the tabernacle on your post, I think to myself, here is someone who believes that the body and blood of Christ are there. He is not reserving for the purpose of adoration...but since he is indeed reserving, he is storing the elements in a fitting way.

I believe that consecrated elements are and remain the body and blood of Christ. That is my intuitive understanding of Scripture on the subject. Yet, Fr. McCain and others have pricked my conscience with reference to the BOC and Luther's writings. Indeed I would go with scripture over and above the BOC. Yet, I have made a firm "because" subscription to the BOC. I would like to better understand how best to maintain that subscription in light of this discussion.

If you could speak to that matter directly, I would be most appreciative.

In Christ,
Daniel Skillman

Cecil The Sea Sick Sea Serpent said...

What's an eternal light for?

(Pssst. 99)

Fr BFE said...

Fr Skillman,

Perhaps you could be more specific. I have already indicated above how the usus clause is to be understood: certainly not as if it was introducing a new doctrine by which the Real Withdrawal happened at stage three. Benediction said, and *puff* Christ is gone!

The confessions were intent on preserving the Sacrament from abuse, especially in an age when abuse was so rampant.

We, on the other hand, are intent on preserving the Sacrament's essence: the Body of Christ, in the face of what is increasingly beginning to look like a nascent Arianism.

Who but an Arian would refuse to acknowledge the presence of the Holy One where his Body is present?

I assure you, the confessors were no Arians!

And Cecil makes a good point: the presence of an eternal light in the sanctuary is historically intended to indicate that the reserved elements are present.

Rev. Larry Beane said...

Considering our bold Augsburg assertion that:

"our churches dissent in no article of faith from the Church Catholic, but only omit some abuses which are new, and which have been erroneously accepted by the corruption of the times, contrary to the intent of the Canons,"

it follows that those who believe in the article of faith of the Temporary Presence (that vanishes after the benediction) should be able to find continuity with that article of faith from the ancient church, eastern or western, or in the ancient canons.

At the very least, we should be able to identify a point in time in which the Doctrine of Temporary Presence was jettisoned in favor of its rejection as being one of the "abuses which are new."

At the very very least, it would be nice to see such a doctrine articulated in our confessions.

Was the Temporary Presence ever taught in the ancient church or in the canons?

Anonymous said...

Ok, so let's connect the dots shall we? A "Temporary Presence" would seem to imply a "Temporary Grace." For how can there be any grace apart from the Flesh and Blood Man Jesus Christ? And how could anyone separate Jesus from His Body and Blood?

If one believes that his Lord's Body and Blood is present in the Sacrament than one has to believe that the entire Lord is present in the Sacrament as well. For how in the world could the two be divided? This should settle the dispute as to how we are to act around the Sacrament. Whether in a trash can, a monstrance, a tabernacle, a pyxx, a jiffy jar, on a cross, or in the upper room on Easter may those who fear God continue to show Him the respect He deserves.

Ya know, I've been to LCMS churches with tabernacles. I've been to LCMS churches where everything is consumed. I've been to LCMS churches with little plastic cups and trash cans standing at both ends of the communion rail. But no matter where I've been was I not in the presence of the Incarnate God? So why would I change how I act if I knew Him to be present?

Man's use or abuse does not determine the validity of the Sacrament. The Holy Spirit working through God's Word alone can do that.

As Father Eckardt has already pointed out, perhaps this conversation has more to do with Christological errors than Sacramental abuses. And maybe some think such a bold statment is over the top, but that in itself should be telling. Because how is an abuse of the Sacrament not a Christological issue?

All these things are connected and continue to shape not only how we view communion, but also the ressurection of the body, cremation, the sanctity of life, the work of the Spirit, worship, and probably about a thousand other things I have failed to mention. This isn't just some secondary issue. This is the heart of our faith. If all theology is Christology then surely all theology is sacramental in one way or another.


Anonymous said...

Let me clarify "validity." I only mean our use or abuse of the Sacrament doesn't change the fact that Christ is present. Whether He is abused by men upon a cross or glorified by men on Easter morning, He remains One who is worthy of all glory and worship.

Peter said...

I don't feel like I have a dog in this fight, but I don't think the manna in the desert analogy works. Here, the NT trumps the OT. Instead, I would point to the feeding of the 5000 and 4000, where the bread most definitely is preserved as "left-overs" presumably to be distributed at another time.

Rev. Charles Lehmann said...

The more applicable leftover text is probably Exodus 12, not Exodus 16.

Rev. Larry Beane said...

To play the "Luther's drunken peasant" card, I think something can be said for stating clearly what abuses we're trying to navigate between.

On one end of the spectrum, we have the abuses that Luther and the reformers faced, of elements being consecrated with no intent to eat them - which is "outside the use" of communion. This turned the consecrated elements into magic charms, to the point where people would try to steal the hosts and put them up on their walls at home. The reformers didn't have the problem of the Lord's blood being tossed into the garbage - hence our confessions' silence on the matter - which doesn't imply that throwing the Lord's blood in the garbage is part of our Christian liberty. It just wasn't done in those days.

Is Fritz and his congregation consecrating elements with no intention of eating and drinking them? I don't think anyone has even implied such a thing.

But today, the drunk typically falls off the other side, with receptionism having pushed its nose under the tent. Instead of turning the elements into a magic charm, some have turned them into nothing more than bread and wine, based on the superstition of "reverse transubstantiation" that Jesus leaves after he is told to "beat it" at the benediction. Hence, the practice of sucking up the reliquiae in a dustbuster (as one pastor boasted was his church's practice) or tossed into the common sewer - which is actually way too common in our churches.

The latter extreme s far more common a problem in the LCMS than monstrances and people taking the hosts home to put them on the wall (I think we have the latter "relatively under control" like cannibalism in the Royal Navy...).

Is Fritz or his congregation guilty of either extreme?

I think consuming the elements, or respectfully reserving them in a fit vessel until such time as they are consumed are both practices that guard against both extremes.

I think a lot of the ire against Fritz is rooted in the same hypersensitivity against men who wear clerical garb in public. The ones who complain, roll their eyes, and make accusations of Romanism the most are the guys who wear ties or golf shirts. I believe the clerical attire makes them feel guilty. Of course pastors who shamelessly use plastic jiggers and have a garbage can at the side of the chancel to pitch the props after the show's over are going to be "scandalized" to see the elements treated reverently in another parish.

I believe what is really going on in many (though certainly not all cases) is a guilty conscience and the other Luther Card concerning the preaching of the law: "When you toss a stick into a pack of dogs, the one that yelps is the one that got hit."

Anonymous said...

Perhaps this question should be asked:

Which came first:
- Your desire to take Holy Communion to the shut-ins from the same elements as were used in the Sunday mass, and so you retain it and thus adore it during its retention; or
- Your desire to adore the elements from the Sunday mass, and so you retain it under the good intention of taking it to the shut-in?

Trusting that no one here would side with the second half of the question, there is nothing sinful or evil with this practice.

And then this question should be asked:

Do you:
- Treat your shut-in with the same regard as the rest of your flock and bring them the mass on the day of the Lord's resurrection so that they may truly be united with their brothers in the faith; or
- Make your shut-ins wait a day or two (or more) and bring them the mass when it is convenient for you?

It would seem that if you really wanted to be pious and connect them to the altar and the mass, you would bring it to them immediately and not have to squabble about all of this.

But at the end of the day, I would still rather wind up on the side of hyper-pietism than abandon all piety whatsoever.

Rev. Larry Beane said...

Dear Anonymous:

I know the question is for Fritz, and I'm not going to answer it, but as a "point of order," I do want to point out a flaw in your question. Communing shut-ins and people in the hospital isn't just a matter of the pastor's "convenience" - as though our leisurely schedules permit us to stretch our hands over our heads, yawn, and decide to just go home and have a beer. The ministry is an utterly hectic life, and, at least in my experience, shut-in and hospital visits are anything but clockwork.

Depending on the circumstances of the shut-ins, some of them are sick, and can't see us when it is convenient for us, or to accommodate the demands of some that we leave church right after the benediction and run to take the elements directly to them right now, chop-chop. Some folks are in institutions and are on a specific schedule. Some are getting treatments on certain dates and times. In some cases, there are simply too many to visit in one fell swoop. Some live quite a distance away.

The real world of pastoral care is anything but a slam-dunk.

I think the tone of the question is kind-of accusatory, as though Fritz is deliberately "bogarting" the body and blood of Christ just so he can get the thrill of genuflecting in front of the tabernacle for a couple days while his congregants hunger and thirst for the sacrament.

It's a rather grotesque caricature, don't you think?

Rev. Thomas C. Messer, SSP said...

Fr. Beane,

Exactly! This is why pointing to the actual abuses of the Sacrament in our midst today is not "raising a red herring" in this debate. Judging Fr. Eckardt's practice on its own should reveal to all investigators that there is no abuse of the Sacrament going on; nothing at all being done in violation of Holy Scripture or our Lutheran Confessions. Judging his practice against the real, actual abuses happening today simply further brings to light how good, meet, and salutary his practice is. In a day and age when our Lord is sucked up in a dustbuster or chucked in a trash can, how anyone could rail against a practice that treats our Lord with the reverence and adoration He deserves is truly a mystery to me. And, here, I am not talking about those who raise questions, but those who, after hearing Fr. Eckardt's answers, continue to label his practice as "bad."

Speaking of bad practices, anyone ever hear of the practice of crumbling the leftover Hosts up and sprinkling them on the ground and then pouring the leftover Wine over them? A member informed me this past Sunday during Bible Study that this was the practice of his congregation back in the 1960s. He said that he was never comfortable with it, but that his pastor assured everyone that this was the best way to handle the leftovers. I had never heard of this before and was just wondering if this was a common practice back in the day.