Friday, July 24, 2009

a brief word of clarification on the sanctuary lamp

I blogged, I guess a couple weeks ago, on the use of the sanctuary lamp in Lutheran churches. Some interesting discussion followed. Later I became aware of some disagreement on the matter from "Dan," who explained his concerns at his blog. Both his blog entry on this topic and mine are too far down to just refer the reader to them. So I thought it good to add another one here, in which I cite both. Please find his entry here. And please read, or reread mine here. I always welcome healthy, friendly, and reasoned discussion and dialogue among brothers, especially on matters of real importance.


Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

Beside the comment I posted at Dan's blog, I'd like to comment also on the following from his blog post:

"The Roman Catholic Church treasures the unconsumed hosts and wine because they teach that the elements have been transubstantiated, or transformed. The elements are parts of God and should themselves be adored, worshiped, etc."

A couple things.

1. There is virtually never such thing as unconsumed wine in the Roman Rite, at least when priests' practices are consistent with the rubrics of that rite.

2. The consecrated bread or wine that is unconsumed, whether in the Roman or Lutheran Churches, is not treasured because of transubstantiation, but because of the orthodox doctrine of the real and true presence of our Lord in the Sacrament. The way the RC Church conceives of the Real Presence is via transubstantiation. I see that as a flawed concept. Nonetheless, it is beside the point.

3. It is quite false to claim that either the Lutheran or the Roman Catholic Church believes or teaches that in the elements in the Sacrament we have "parts of God." God is never partitioned, or parted, from Himself, neither in the three Persons, nor in the self giving of Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Christ in His Sacrament is beyond all mathematics (as Luther put it at Marburg). For He is the font of endless mercy (as Ambrose puts it in one of his prayers). His sacramental body, like His ecclesial body, cannot be hacked into parts, but is an organic whole. Where you find one particle, you have the whole. As Thomas Aquinas writes:

And whoe'er of Him partakes,
severs not, nor rends, nor breaks:
all entire, their Lord receive.
Whether one or thousand eat,
all receive the selfsame meat,
nor do less for others leave.

(A sumente non concisus,
non confractus, non divisus:
integer accipitur.
Sumit unus, sumunt mille:
quantum isti, tantum ille:
nec sumptus consumitur.)

And as Johann Franck writes:

Human reason, though it ponder,
Cannot fathom this great wonder
That Christ's body e'er remaineth
Though it countless souls sustaineth,
And that He His blood is giving
With the wine we are receiving.
These great mysteries unsounded
Are by God alone expounded.

Father Robert Lyons said...

Deacon Latif,

Thank you for your clear exposition on the Presence Lamp and its usage, as well as your continued defense of the Doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ, in, with, and under the forms of bread and wine.

May the Body and Blood of Christ preserve you and strengthen you unto eternal life!


Dan @ Necessary Roughness said...

Deacon, thank you for visiting the blog and for your comments. There is now a response on my post.


Father Robert Lyons said...

One criticism I see leveled at your view, Deacon Latif, is the issue of how the Sacrament is celebrated. To be more accurate, the thought of "why do we need an emergency stock, just celebrate at the bedside".

As a hospital Chaplain, I can most solemnly assure you that this is not always possible. In a decade of health care chaplaincy, nine of them in a Level One trauma center, the Reserved Sacrament has been a godsend on many an occassion.

When I visit homebound or nursing home patients who are able to bear it, I offer a Divine Service with two readings, a brief psalm, and brief but complete Eucharistic rite. When possible, I try to use the previous Sunday or Festal Day's gospel. This has deep meaning to those so disposed.

On the other hand, I have been asked more than once for Communion moments before death, when there is not nearly enough time for a proper celebration, or any celebration at all. In such instances, if time permits, I offer the following prayer:

Good Jesus, true bishop and shepherd of our souls, in union with [_____ our Bishop, and] all of your faithful servants of every time and place, we gather together, suppliants at your Altar, in obedience to your command, for, on the night of your betrayal, you instituted the Eucharistic mystery with the words, “THIS IS MY BODY” and “THIS IS MY BLOOD” and declared that they were given and shed “FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS.”

Look upon us now as we prepare to receive your Body and Blood. Unite us with our brothers and sisters throughout the world, and fill us with your heavenly grace, that inspired by your sacrificial love and sustained by the indwelling of the Spirit, we may always abide in your mercy and partake of your grace. Amen.

Failing time for that, I usually will say:

___, on the night before his death, Jesus took bread and wine, blessed them, and gave them to his disciples. He said to them, "THIS IS MY BODY" and "THIS IS MY BLOOD" and declared that they were given and shed "FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS".

Recieve now the gift of our Lord: May the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ which was given for you preserve you, body and soul, unto everlasting life. Amen.

Moving as fast as I can, forsaking a book or anything else, the minimum necessary time to celebrate the Eucharist (from getting the call to administering the sacrament) would be, on average, eight to ten minutes (if I am in house). That would be with the most abbreviated of Consecratory Prayers and Verba:

Father, in your mercy hear us, and with your Word and Holy Spirit, bless and sanctify these gifts of bread and wine, that they may be for us the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ; who, on the night...

It takes time to get a chalice, paten, bread, wine, and then to transport it... and there are some areas where that might be impossible due to infection control issues.

There is also the plainly historical fact that, in the Early Church, the Sacrament was reserved (though usually only in one kind according to Dix's "Detection of Aumbries"). Scripture does not forbid it, and gives us no good reason to assume that the Reserved Sacrament ceases to be the Body and Blood of Christ, any more than we should assume that the lack of water flowing over us day by day (not counting our showers) means that we are no longer baptized.

Finally, the Sacraments are incarnational realities. Just as the Spirit's power made the Son incarnate and melded humanity and divinity, never to be seperated, so too with the Sacraments - else they loose their reality and become mere symbols... at least, that's my point of view.


Bryce P Wandrey said...

I personally know it is a good thing to take the sacrament from the Sunday Mass (Divine Service) to the hospital, nursing homes, shut-ins, etc. When doing so I have always in the past made sure to use words that go a little something like this:

"N, the sacrament that you are about to receive was consecrated during our Sunday morning service, and in so doing, I used these words...(here follows a restating (but not a reconsecrating of the elements) of the verba)."

It is good for those unable to make it to Mass not only to be in communion with God and the Church (via the sacrament), but also to have something tangible (like the reserved sacrament from the community they are no longer able to physically be with) to tie them to their community.

Past Elder said...

While I accept no revisionism re the sanctuary lamp, the reserved sacrament I accept both as a practice that can be done without offence to the Gospel, and can be not done, with no offence to the Gospel.

Certainly we don't need to worry about being "too Catholic" now -- re hospitals, Communion will likely be brought by an Extraordinary Eucharistic Minister, not a priest.

If you get a priest or EEM at all. When my dad, a physician who was RC, was in his last illness in the RC hospital where he worked for years -- not to mention where his son served 0600 Mass for years in the conventual chapel -- it was an E?CA priestitute who came round in a Roman collar to see if we "needed anything" from chaplain services.