Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Thought or Two in Defense of Eucharistic Adoration

Recently Paul McCain, an executive at Concordia Publishing House, published at his blog a compilation of Confessional and other Lutheran quotations on the Lord’s Supper. Such a thing is generally a useful and worthy resource, and I for one appreciate it. At the same time, I would take issue with a point or two raised there. You might wonder, how could I take issue with something that is merely a list of quotations from the Lutheran fathers? Good question. The answer is hidden in the subtle reality that even a seemingly objective thing as a list of quotations can be presented in a subjective or editorialized manner. The history of photographic journalism has proven to be a deceptively subjective medium, which can give different messages, based on such factors as lighting, angle, what is left out of the shot, and even the caption, or “copy.” Likewise, some of the same types of factors, as well as others, can influence the way in which quotations are employed. The above, to be sure, are general observations, not a critique of McCain’s catalogue of quotations in particular. Overall, his collection is a very good and straight forward epitome of the Lutheran position.


My critique has to do with just one small part of McCain’s catalogue, namely, the part under the heading of “Adoration of the Visible Element Repudiated.” The various headings in his compilation might be thought of as theses, and under that light the quotations under each heading might viewed as proof texts for the thesis, so that McCain would posit the thesis that the Lutheran Confessions repudiate the adoration of the visible element. This thesis is true enough. What is offered as proof for this thesis? We see three passages from the Formula of Concord, to wit:


(Quote 1) FC Ep VII.40 – “We reject and condemn … that the external visible elements of bread and wine in the holy sacrament should be adored.” Tappert, 486.


(Quote 2) FC SD VII.15 – “For they do not maintain that the body of Christ is present apart from the use, as when the bread is laid aside or reserved in the tabernacle or carried about and exposed in procession, as happens in the papacy.” Tappert, 572


(Quote 3) FC SD VII.126 – “We reject and condemn … the teaching that the elements (the visible forms of the blessed bread and wine) are to be adored. Of course, no one except an Arian heretic can or will deny that Christ himself, true God and man, who is truly and essentially present in the Supper when it is rightly used, should be adored in spirit and in truth in all places but especially where his community is assembled.” Tappert, 591.

The first quotation above directly pertains to the thesis, and its import is that in the Sacrament it is not the bread as such that we worship, for it is the work of men’s hands, and is comprised of created elements.

The second quotation, reproduced above, has nothing at all to do with the thesis at hand. It is in fact a passage that is often misused as a word against adoration of the Blessed Sacrament outside of the Mass, or even against the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament per se, depending on various interpretations of the usus, or “use,” of the Sacrament. In fact, adoration, both in the heart and by means of the body, which Christians render to the Blessed Sacrament, is commendable, appropriate, even proper and praiseworthy, especially when we consider what the Sacrament is. It is the true Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The catechism tells us a couple of other facts, which are wrongfully cited by some as reasons against adoration of the Sacrament: 1. that Christ’s Body and Blood are under bread and wine, 2. and that this Sacrament is given to us to eat and drink. That Christ gives His Body in the Sacrament for us to eat in no way means that it is wrong for Christians to approach so noble a Sacrament with reverence, and to worship Him where they recognize Him. In doing so, we follow the example of the wise men from the East. And the fact that Christ’s Body is given under bread does not mean we need to worry about the prospect of adoring mere created things. I have learned that there are some (and I don’t bring it up to necessarily condemn them, or personally attack them) who seemingly out of a well intentioned desire to be precise will refer to what we eat in the Sacrament as the “bread/body,” and so forth. The danger is that one will be unable to bring himself to look at the consecrated bread in the priest’s hand and with Luther and all the saints say that it is the very body, the very flesh, of Christ.

Some people may recognize the presence of Christ’s true Body and Blood in the Sacrament, but will not worship Him in the Sacrament because of a subtle, and flawed, Christological way of thinking. Namely, Christ’s Body, that is, His humanity, much like bread, is a created thing, and therefore ought not be worshipped. Or at best it is worshipped by coincidence, by association, with a sort of hyperdoulia, or bond service. Martin Chemnitz brilliantly corrects this view in the twenty ninth chapter of his book, De Duabus Naturis in Christo. There he argues at length, in ways I don’t have space to reproduce here, that Christ is indeed properly adored in both His human and divine natures, and not as though He were adored twice, but with one adoration, for the natures in Christ are distinct yet inseparably united in one Person, and they share in a complete communication of attributes. He writes, for example:

“Christ’s human nature through the personal union and the exaltation or glorification has been raised above every name, so that He has all creatures in subjection under His feet as His dominion and realm. And since He has received all power in heaven and on earth, Christ therefore rules powerfully over all, but especially as the Head of the Church (Eph. 1), not only by the divine but also by His assumed nature, with the differences of the natures and the exaltation of the human nature unimpaired.”

In the course of this argument he provides valuable testimony from the ancients, such as the following, and as you ponder these, consider the Eucharistic implications:

“The prophet says that the earthly element which the Lord Jesus took on in His assumption of the flesh is to be worshipped, and thus by the figure of the footstool this earthly element is understood, and by this earthly element we understand the flesh of Christ which even today we adore in our service and which the apostles, as we have explained, adored in the Lord Jesus.” -Ambrose, De Spiritu Sancto, Bk 3, ch 11

“Do not think that in Christ there is only the humanity or only the deity. But believe faithfully in both and humbly worship both.” –Leo, Sermo 46 de Quadregesima

“Christ according to His human nature received this honor that every knee should bow before Him.” –Cyril, Dialogus VI

The third quotation provided by McCain (see above), actually supports the physical adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. As Chemnitz writes: “no one except an Arian heretic can or will deny that Christ himself, true God and man, who is truly and essentially present in the Supper when it is rightly used, should be adored in spirit and in truth in all places but especially where his community is assembled.”

To be sure, these reflections do not amount to an attack on any one person. I have merely used an unfortunate flaw in the manner in which McCain assembled his collection of quotations as a jumping off point for a consideration of the evangelical and catholic, ie., the Lutheran, understanding of the praiseworthy practice of worshipping and adoring our Lord Jesus Christ, truly and personally present in the Blessed and venerable Sacrament of the Altar. And I would leave the reader with just one more quotation from one of the great teachers of the Church. This is a prayer, by Saint Bonaventure, the great doctor of the thirteenth century, which I encourage you to use at Mass, in your worship of Christ present on the altar, after you have received Communion, or after the service before you leave the pew. I also suggest praying this on your knees.

Pierce, O most sweet Lord Jesus, my inmost soul with the most joyous and healthful wound of Thy love, with true, serene, and most holy apostolic charity, that my soul may ever languish and melt with love and longing for Thee, that it may yearn for Thee and faint for Thy courts, and long to be dissolved and to be with Thee.

Grant that my soul may hunger after Thee, the bread of angels, the refreshment of holy souls, our daily and supersubstantial bread, having all sweetness and savor and every delight of taste.

Let my heart ever hunger after and feed upon Thee, upon whom the angels desire to look, and may my most inmost soul be filled with the sweetness of Thy savor.

May it thirst after Thee, the fountain of life, the fountain of wisdom and knowledge, the fountain of eternal light, the torrent of pleasure, the richness of the house of God.

May it ever compass Thee, seek Thee, find Thee, run to Thee, attain Thee, meditate upon Thee speak of Thee, and do all things to the praise and glory of Thy name, with humility and discretion, with love and delight, with ease and affection, and with perseverance unto the end.

May Thou alone be ever my hope, my entire assurance, my riches, my pleasure, my joy, my rest and tranquility, my peace, my sweetness, my fragrance, my sweet savor, my food, my refreshment, my refuge, my help, my wisdom, my portion, my possession and my treasure, in whom may my mind and my heart be fixed and firm and rooted immovably hence forth and forever. Amen.”

38 comments:

Father Hollywood said...

The McCain edition of the Book of Concord includes this passage from St. Augustine:

"'Worship His footstool' (Psalm 99:5). His footstool is the earth. Christ took upon Himself earth of earth, because flesh is of the earth. He received His flesh from the flesh of Mary. Because He walked here in this same flesh, He gave us this very flesh to eat for salvation. No one who eats this flesh does not first worship it. Therefore, this is why the footstool of the Lord is worshiped. We not only not sin by worshiping it, we sin if we do not worship it." (McCain, Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions Pocket Edition, CPH, St. Louis, 2006, p. 929).

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

The holy Bishop is very instructive here. One infers that he never would have dreamt of a situation when people would eat Christ's flesh without first worshipping it. We live in a different reality, of course, and to be clear, I don't condemn those who have never been taught reverent and worshipful behavior at the altar, and I know you don't either, Father. It can be very helpful to us, however, to look to the example of the Church of a different time. Let me add that in a similar way, it might be helpful for us to expose ourselves to the example of brethren in churches contemporary with us, but in a different part of the world. I recall Fr. Weinrich once telling us in class of an experience he had (I don't remember where, maybe a religious house in Latvia, or in one of his other travels), where he walked into a chapel, and was taken aback by the great reverence of those there (I don't recall now if those he saw were on their knees or perhaps even prostrate). He asked someone why they do that, and the answer was basically the question in reverse, why do you not do that?

Thanks, Fr. Hollywood, for bringing up this passage.

Fr BFE said...

Deacon, you nabbed my attention with this one.

And to think, I was just pondering the other day about all the well-intended arguments which have been leveled, kindly, against our tabernacle at St. Paul's (I might add: I am not referring here to those of our mutual, er, friend). I found myself wondering in one of those rare moments we all have from time to time whether, if I had it to do all over again, I'd go to the trouble, knowing now the concerns of honorable men who have indicated their preference not to reserve the Sacrament (again, no reference here to . . .).

And I remain as convinced as ever that it was the right thing to do, for all the well-known reasons we have rehearsed countless times, but I came to another realization:

Here I have set aside the reserved elements, meant to carry to the sick, in a "fit receptacle" because the Body of Christ is worthy of adoration. And there are some who notwithstanding call this abuse.

I believe we are at an impasse with them, and I will all the more gladly adore Christ when I find Arians and Nestorians scoffing at me for doing so: in the presence of mine enemies, you know . . .

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

I look forward to seeing your church's tabernacle at some point, Father Eckardt. I was unable to make any trips this season, but I will plan on next October in Kewanee for sure. As you might know, your use of the tabernacle is not unique in the Missouri Synod, though I am grateful that you have made your example so public. It is a great blessing in those communities where it is now used, and I think it may spread in coming years.

Fr BFE said...

Uh-oh, don't tell you-know-who . . .

William Tighe said...

Eric Mascall (1905-1993), the English Anglican theologian, defends Eucharistic adoration quite cogently in his book *Corpus Christi8 (1953, 1965).

I met Mascall in 1977 and was privileged to become acquainted with him in the years I lived in England (1978-1986) and I continued to visit him when in England, the last time in August 1992.

Amberg said...

I'm a Lutheran. I don't bow to the altar unless Christ's body and blood are on it. Then I bow to Christ's body and blood because that is the flesh and blood of my God. That's what I was taught. I don't judge those of you who like to express your adoration in more ways, but I do have a few questions.

First, why should we hold on to the elements after the divine service? Wouldn't it be more prudent to consume them since that is what our Lord told us to do?

Second, if we are going to commune shut-ins, why would we take the elements from the divine service to give to them since this would preclude the Words of Institution before their distribution?

Finally, of what use is a tabernacle? Why should we use Christ's body and blood apart from how He told us to use it? I'm not denying that what you put into the Tabernacle is Christ's body and blood (although I don't really want to think about it), I'm only questioning why you are adoring (by means of a beautiful container) the elements apart from where they can truly be adored, namely, in the eating and drinking, where faith takes hold of the words "Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins."

I would appreciate responses from Pr. Eckardt and Latif, as well as anybody else who might be able to explain these practices.

Sincerely,
Amberg

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

Thanks, Amberg, for the comment. Halloween, at the hotel is a bit nuts, so I may not get to my answer until Sunday or so.

AND, thanks so much, Dr. Tighe, for your input. I've been meaning to write you. We'll be in touch soon.

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

Amberg:

I seem to have a lull in activity here, so let me try to address some of your questions.

First, I'm certainly with you in that neither your practice nor mine is more or less Lutheran than the other. Yours is to bow before the presence of the Body and Blood of Christ on the altar, and to refrain from bowing before the altar otherwise. Mine is to bow before the altar when the Sacrament is not present, not in worship, but in reverence for the altar as a symbol of Christ, Who is our sacrifice for sin, and to worship our Lord by means of bended knee, when His holy Body and precious Blood are present, whether by kneeling at the altar rail at communion, or by genuflecting at the end of the pew, or by kneeling at my place in the pew during the consecration and after communion, etc. The latter way is simply more in keeping with a traditionalist approach to the liturgy.

Now to address your questions. You ask: "First, why should we hold on to the elements after the divine service? Wouldn't it be more prudent to consume them since that is what our Lord told us to do?"

I answer: the reason that those who reserve the Blessed Sacrament do so is precisely so that it may be consumed by the faithful, that is, by the brethren who are in the hospital or at home. Reservation versus consumption is a false antithesis.

You then ask: "Second, if we are going to commune shut-ins, why would we take the elements from the divine service to give to them since this would preclude the Words of Institution before their distribution?"

I answer: There is no preclusion of the Verba Christi in the case of taking the reliquiae to the shut in. And if you are also asking for a reason in itself for taking the reliquiae to the shut in, instead of consecrating bread and wine at the bed side, I would say that there are any number of possibilities for a lengthy discussion on that question. The wisdom of ancient practices, I find, tend to be so rich that we may not even fully appreciate it all at once, or even in our life time. But let me try to briefly articulate one reason for this ancient practice: in giving the homebound what was consecrated already at the Mass is a way of letting those people partake, in a special way, of what CA XXIV call the one "common Mass." Or to look at it the other way around, in a sense, you are bringing the community's common liturgical celebration to the homebound. To put it yet another way, I would also propose that there is simply no compelling reason to consecrate the elements at the bed side.

And you ask: "Finally, of what use is a tabernacle?"

I answer: the tabernacle is a reverent and traditional way of doing the above. That is to say, if a church is going to practice the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament, then it ought certainly do so by means of what Lutheran rubrical literature calls a "fit receptacle." The very manner in which the Sacrament is reserved (and it is reserved in disgraceful ways in our churches) says something in itself about what a church thinks of the Sacrament, (or perhaps that a church doesn't think much about it.)

Must let that suffice for now. I've had to get up from this computer a few times while writing this to attend to business here, so I hope it ends up somewhat coherent.

Latif

Amberg said...

Dear Latif,

I think our disagreement can be hashed out around this statement of yours,
"I would also propose that there is simply no compelling reason to consecrate the elements at the bed side."

The argument that you give for not consecrating the elements at the bedside is that AC XXIV cites Gregory's mention of a "common mass". But this was spoken to preclude the notion of their being any "private mass" to atone for daily sins.

Our current practice is based upon and is derived from our doctrine. We believe, teach and confess that one is truly worthy and well prepared when he believes the words "Given and shed for you for the remission of sins," and that, besides the bodily eating and drinking, these words are the chief thing in the sacrament.

If the words are not spoken then the chief thing in the sacrament is absent.

Next, there is nothing at all compelling us to connect the shut-ins to an event that took place with his congregation. In fact, when I partook of Christ's body and blood today I communed at the same feast as you did, but your pastor spoke the Verba just as mine did. It was one event. But the pastor spoke the words for me to hear because they are, besides the actual bodily eating and drinking, the chief thing in the sacrament. When the pastor speaks the Verba over the elements at the bedside he is continuing the communion of the saints just as he does every Sunday.

But to decline to speak the Verba to a recipient of the sacrament is to decline to give him the chief thing in the sacrament. This must simply be opposed considering the importance of defending this point against the errors of the papists and others.

I think that this Lutheran doctrine clarifies the doctrine concerning the Lord's Supper more than any Church father I have read (unless you might be able to point me to one who expresses it more clearly than Luther's Small Catechism).

Since, therefore, there is no good reason not to consume the reliquae after the divine service is completed, I would say also that there is no good reason to have a storage vessel for the elements outside of what we use to distribute them.

If we follow this very salutary line of thinking (since we are concerned chiefly with men's souls here - hence our need to speak the Verba), then we avoid lots of superfluous and confusing practices, such as having a tabernacle because Christ's body and blood is worthy of adoration, as Pr. Eckardt put it. As if we should adore Christ's body and blood apart from faith believing that what my mouth is about to receive is Christ's body and Christ's blood. But adoring Christ's body and blood apart from its use, whether by kneeling before it apart from its use as the medicine of souls, or by giving it an adoringly beautiful vessel for its containment, is simply not right. Christians have been misled to do such a thing. It does the Christian no good and gives God no praise that He desires. God has not shown in any way that He remotely desires such homage, neither can anyone show that it is salutary in the least bit.

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

I must admit, first, that trying to connect this practice to the "common mass" of CA XXIV was just a thought I was toying with, and you astutely shot it down.

You say "our current practice is based upon and derived from our doctrine." In response to this statement I must first say that when you say "our current practice" you seem to imply that there is only one current Lutheran practice. That is not the case. Both practices are centuries old, the one is even older. Second, I would point out that while the practice of consecrating the elements at the bedside may indeed be based on and derived from our doctrine, that does not mean that such practice is necessitated by our doctrine. Our doctrine is expressed and upheld by the faithful and reverent administation of the Sacrament by way of either of these two ways (consecrating at bedside or giving reliquiae).

Now, let me be clear, I myself would not advocate the administration of the Blessed Sacrament without the Words of Christ being said again in the hearing of the communicant. Taking the Sacrament to to someone in the hospital (instead of consecrating bread and wine at bedside) does not mean that the communicant won't hear the Words of Christ.

You say the reservation of the Blessed and venerable Sacrament in a tabernacle is "superfluous and confusing." I certainly disagree that it is superfluous, and I for one am not confused by it.

Adoring Christ present in the tabernacle is something that you say is not asked for by God. I don't recall our Lord ever asking for the worship He received in the Gospels; nor, however, did He ever forbid it. Indeed, at times He praised it. If that is really Him in the hands of the presbyter, and on the paten, and in the tabernacle, and It is, then I will worship Him. I do not know how to refuse. For He is my Lord and my God (Dominus meus et Deus meus).

Amberg said...

I am glad that you worship Him as your Lord and your God wherever He is.

Christ specifically told us to eat and to drink His body and blood. The Lutheran reformers rejected the corpus Christi procession because men had established a form of worship which was contrary to Christ's institution. If Christ told us to eat and to drink His body and His blood, who are we to do anything else with it? Why would we store it somewhere and venerate it by means of and in a container when we should have done what He told us to do with it?

It is confusing to our doctrine to worship Christ's body and blood apart from its use. When it is in a tabernacle it is not being used.

There is a reason why the vast majority of Lutherans abandoned the tabernacle. It is an unnecessary invention that contributes nothing toward Christian piety and nothing for the honor and glory of God, since Christian piety is sustained by actually heading Christ's words, which say "eat" and "drink," and God is glorified when we embrace Him in faith, which faith is strengthened when we receive His body and His blood.

Forgive me if I can't find a less discordantly sounding term than "superfluous." I only mean to say that it is not only unnecessary but also that it offers nothing salutary for Christian doctrine and piety.

Paul McCain said...

This post is yet another example of what, I believe, are good intentions, but with bad results. The road to error is paved with such good intentions.

Mr. Gaba continues the faulty line of thinking on the use of a tabernacle. Amberg does a very nice job simply and clearly dismantling the faulty argumentation employed by Mr. Gaba.

Here are the facts. The pastor who uses a tabernacle has no reason to use it other than wanting to make sure he has more elements consecrated than he knows he can use in the Divine Service. He elsewhere has indicated he specifically wants to have more not merely/only to commune his shut-ins and those hospitalized, but so he can reserve them in the Tabernacle and there devote to them worship outside the use of the Sacrament.

The Gottesdienst Crowd continues to defend and excuse this bad practice, flowing from, frankly, bad doctrine, and gives the pastor using a Tabernacle a "free pass" because he is part of their little group.

It is unfortunate to see these faulty practices being defended and perpetuated.

But it is what we've come to expect from the self-apppointed "liturgical traditionalists" among us, who chose to "do their own thing" with much pious excuse making is no different.

It's pretty much as silly as quoting ad naseum the "Little Flower" on one's blog site.

Amberg said...

Pr. McCain,

Why do you have to be so rude?

Paul McCain said...

Amberg, if you are going to start making accusations of who is, or who is not, being "rude," you have your work cut out for you.

Surely we are all men here and speak bluntly, no?

At least Mr. Gaba does not hide behind a fake name when he makes his point. That is one thing I admire him for.

Amberg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul McCain said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

McCain claims: "He elsewhere has indicated he specifically wants to have more not merely/only to commune his shut-ins and those hospitalized, but so he can reserve them in the Tabernacle and there devote to them worship outside the use of the Sacrament."

That is a rather bold claim, for I know of no Lutheran pastor who reserves the Sacrament for any reason other than that It be given to the faithful, who so very much need and crave Christ's forgiveness and strength. Amberg and I, I think, basically only disagree about whether it is wiser to give the shut-ins the Sacrament from the last Divine Service or to consecrate for them in the home. Both cases, properly speaking, are within the Use of the Sacrament.

Regarding the practice of anonymous writing, or writing under a nom de plume, or just writing under less than one's full name, it doesn't bother me. In fact, I refer the reader to my thoughts on the matter at this blog post: http://latifhakigaba.blogspot.com/2008/01/in-defense-of-pseudonymous-writers.html

Paul McCain said...

Mr. Gaba, you have, time and again, demonstrated a penchant for selective forgetting of what has been said on these issues.

The pastor who uses a tabernacle, when pressed hard, was finally not able to provide any good reason for doing so. It became painfully clear he does so for purposes other than merely providing a fit receptacle for the bread and wine that have served as hosts of our Lord's body and blood.

He actually claimed he eschews the consecration of the elements in hospital rooms and so forth.

He never clearly indicated how he uses the Verba, or if he actually consecrates the elements at all.

Paul McCain said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amberg said...

Pr. McCain,

Your welcome. God bless all your work for the Church. I have benefited from it tremendously.

I've deleted the post I made earlier because it was very rude and some of it was made in anger. It's not my business to rebuke your rudeness, especially not rudely and also not in a public forum. You're right. Grandpa would never do that.

Thank for looking past my youth.

Sincerely yours,
Mark Preus

Rev. Jim Roemke said...

A part of maturity and wisdom is taking a rebuke or criticism and being thankful for any and every opportunity to repent. Would that everyone were so willing, young and old, as Mr. Preus to humbly admit wrong, either real or perceived against a brother, ask forgiveness and move on. Thank you, brother Mark for your exemplary Christian behavior. Paul, dear brother, just say your sorry once in a while and we will all take your advice much better.

Joe Greene said...

We recently experienced a situation in our parish where having a tabernacle with the reserved Sacrament and the means to carry that Sacrament would have been extremely helpful. My pastor was hospitalized in the ICU and desired the Sacrament. Unfortunately, LCMS clergy are in short supply in our area. If we had had the Sacrament reserved, someone could have taken it to our Pastor in the hospital.

Some will undoubtedly say we could have taken him bread and wine and he could have consecrated it himself but this was a situation in which he needed to be ministered to rather than having to do the ministering.

Paul McCain said...

Mr. Preus,

Thanks for your latest comment. I have deleted my previous remark as well.

PTM

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Br. Joe:

You raise a great point.

Although this is an extreme case, it is an example where the ancient practice would have been a blessing. Your pastor may not have been capable of saying a Mass in his condition, and yet, having the Holy Sacrament might have been a great blessing.

My vicarage parish in South Carolina (not exactly a bastion of LCMS congregations and pastors) had a tabernacle. It was not ornate, but it was respectful and placed near the altar. There was no superstition or parading about of the elements. There was a sanctuary light that corresponded to the Presence. All of the holy elements were consumed within the week, at the next Mass if they had not been used. And yet, having the elements (both species were set aside) in their consecrated state allowed for the subdeacons (elders) to be able to bring the Supper to the sick and shut-ins (especially in an unexpected emergency) under the pastor's direction when the pastor was out of town or unable to bring the Most Holy Sacrament himself.

There are indeed good reasons to have the reserved elements set aside between Sundays - and a "fit receptacle" should be used for this purpose (per the rubrics in the Altar Book). The idea behind the "fit receptacle" rubric is this very thing. We don't want to desegregate the Lord's Body and Blood by mixing the sacred and the common, nor do we want to use a peanut butter jar for such a sacred purpose.

It's really not rocket science, nor is it a plot from a Jack Chick tract to sneak Jesuits into the Lutheran Church in order to make the people bow before the death cookie and worship Satan. If we believe what we say we believe, there are ramifications to how we store these elements and what we do with them. Satan does not want people to have the Sacrament, nor does he want the Lord to be adored in His physical presence. In fact, Satan hates the incarnation, and it is a mark of antichrist to deny it.

In my parish situation, we have enough area clergy that I could not foresee such a situation (the need for reserved elements in the case of an emergency). And this is where the blessing of Christian liberty comes in - the freedom to consume the elements in their entirety (which is my practice) or to reserve them for the sick and shut-in (which is the practice of other Lutheran churches - even some that are largely unknown and have no connection to Gottesdienst).

Having a common hymnal and liturgy is nice. Having a shared commitment to western vestments and church architecture is also a great blessing. But we aren't a McDonald's franchise that demands uniformity to the point of being clones of one another.

If a pastor and congregation wish to have a tabernacle, they should not be savaged for it. And ditto for the inverse. This is not a one-size-fits-all situation. We are not under a Tridentine-like compulsion on this issue, even if it masquerades under Lutheran jargon.

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

Ironies abound here, and though I hesitate to raise the issue of some of these things, I must, for the sake of fairness and truth. I have a friend whose basic house rule for his blog is that participants be gentlemanly. That objective alone makes me fearful almost every time I see McCain speak up in one of these conversations. Mark Preus, because of his basic Christianity and humility, apologizes, and in return, McCain simply thanks him for apologizing, and in return agrees to delete his own comments. But that is nothing like an apology. In fact, deleting his own comments from discussions is a tactic he has a history of employing, and a convenient one, for it helps to clean up his public record of conduct.

Another irony, by the way, is the variety of men, especially in a certain generation, who all claim connection and friendship with Dr. Robert Preus. That is the cross of great men, I suppose. With respect to Paul McCain, though, and though he may not believe it, I do respect his office, which is why I must press him so hard on certain issues, what would Robert Preus say of a man who has been ordained into the ministerium docendi evangelii et porrigendi sacramenta, and has voluntarily left it, not by laicization or unfrocking, but by simply making himself alien, for years on end, to the work of that office in favor of some other highly respected role in the church? He would say that this is one of the problems endemic to the modern Missouri Synod, and one of the deeply dangerous weaknesses of our doctrine & practice of CA XIV. (Just read his treatise on the Doctrine of the Call, which was born out of not only his great learning, but also his own suffering at the hands of bureaucrats.) My point? Friends of Robert Preus do well to reawaken their resolve to live our Cofession, or to put it in Pauline terms, to stir up the gift that was given to them by the laying on of hands.

Paul McCain writes: "Mr. Gaba, you have, time and again, demonstrated a penchant for selective forgetting of what has been said on these issues. The pastor who uses a tabernacle, when pressed hard, was finally not able to provide any good reason for doing so. It became painfully clear he does so for purposes other than merely providing a fit receptacle for the bread and wine that have served as hosts of our Lord's body and blood." etc.

I deny his accusation of selective forgetting, though he claims I actually have a "penchant" for doing this "time and again." He loves to use phrases like that about me. But I really don't recall a pastor claiming that he uses the tabernacle for the purpose of adoration per se. That pastor might exist, but McCain bears the burden to produce his name. So far, he has simply referred to him as "the pastor who uses a tabernacle," as though there only one. I don't know about the environs of CPH, but I myself know of several such pastors. McCain also said that this unnamed pastor "never clearly indicated how he uses the Verba, or if he actually consecrates the elements at all." But if you are taking the Blessed Sacrament, ie., the consecrated elements, to a communicant at home, it makes no sense to consecrate them again. That however, does not preclude the Words being repeated for the sake of the hearer.

Finally, McCain cannot be the arbiter of anything here at my blog. In particular, he cannot set up a division between Mark Preus and me by saying that one has "dismantled the argument" of the other. I say this with no disrespect at all to Mark, but Mark did not dismantle my argument. He and I are at a friendly impasse on this topic. He sees the reservation of the Sacrament as falling outside of the Use (a sixteenth & seventeenth century term which we do well to reconsider today), and I hold the opposite view. My argument remains quite intact. In fact, Mark even said that he is glad that I worship Christ, with bended knee, wherever I find him. That is far from McCain's own position, as I understand it.

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

The other point I wanted to raise, but forgot to, was that if Paul McCain is going to expend his time commenting at this blog, it would seem most appropriate for him to actually respond, at some point, to the initial point of my post, namely, that he uses Confessional passages out of context and against the intent of the Confessions.

Paul McCain said...

Latif, your problem is with the Book of Concord which asserts, very clearly:

(Quote 1) FC Ep VII.40 – “We reject and condemn … that the external visible elements of bread and wine in the holy sacrament should be adored.” Tappert, 486.


(Quote 2) FC SD VII.15 – “For they do not maintain that the body of Christ is present apart from the use, as when the bread is laid aside or reserved in the tabernacle or carried about and exposed in procession, as happens in the papacy.” Tappert, 572


(Quote 3) FC SD VII.126 – “We reject and condemn … the teaching that the elements (the visible forms of the blessed bread and wine) are to be adored. Of course, no one except an Arian heretic can or will deny that Christ himself, true God and man, who is truly and essentially present in the Supper when it is rightly used, should be adored in spirit and in truth in all places but especially where his community is assembled.” Tappert, 591.


Lutherans do not adore or worship the visible elements, but our Lord Christ present under them.

I reverence Christ in the celebration of the Sacrament, adore him and worship Him.

However....

You want to maintain an adoration of the elements remaining after the celebration of the Sacrament.

Brother Amberg put matters well when he asked you:

Finally, of what use is a tabernacle? Why should we use Christ's body and blood apart from how He told us to use it? I'm not denying that what you put into the Tabernacle is Christ's body and blood (although I don't really want to think about it), I'm only questioning why you are adoring (by means of a beautiful container) the elements apart from where they can truly be adored, namely, in the eating and drinking, where faith takes hold of the words "Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins."

Paul McCain said...

Mr. Gaba, if we are going to get into the whole, "Who is, or is not, adoring Christ" thing...let me defend myself against your false accusations that you continue to perpetuate here and elsewhere.

When I attend Divine Service as a member of the congregation:

I bow deeply at the consecration.

I kneel to receive the Lord's body and blood, bowing before and after.

I make the sign of the cross.

I sing the Agnus Dei to Christ who has come among us at His promise at the Words of Institution and is actually present, on the altar, under the bread and wine.

When I celebrate the Sacrament in a liturgy, I:

Elevate the elements
Bow deeply
Reverence Christ throughout the Supper


I don't know, and frankly don't care, if this is "enough" according to the "Gottesdienst" agenda, but...let's be done with your irresponsible accusations that I do not believe in adoring Christ in His Sacrament, His very present body and blood.

The issue, again, is not the adoration of Christ in the Eucharistic elements within the instituted use of the Sacrament but "adoration" outside the instituted use.

But we've had this conversation, before, many times.

I'll say it again, where we first conversed about this, it was when you chose on "Project Wittenberg" to move several laypeople to scandal, offense and upset when you flatly asserted to them that receiving the Sacrament in the hands is not respectful, that if their pastors did not hold their fingers "just so" they were evidencing signs of not believing in the Real Presence, and that if a pastor did not do a certain set of physical gestures, he was less than Lutheran and not as concerned about our Lord's presence in His Supper as he should be.

You said it. You scandalized laypeople. You have since somewhat modified your assertions, or at least have not been as dogmatic about them.

But that's where this conversation began, and it is my opinion it has not moved any further beyond that.

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

McCain writes:

"Latif, your problem is with the Book of Concord which asserts, very clearly:" (then he quotes the three passages already quoted in my blog post.)

The first one is a statement against the adoration of bread; it is not against the adoration of Christ's flesh. I for one am a Lutheran, who believes that His flesh is, indeed, present in the Eucharist.

The second one deals with the whole question of the "use," which is all too misunderstood. And its reference to reservation and tabernacles is hardly a slam dunk against those who practice reservation. The Concordia here must be read on its own terms, that is, in light of the actual problems to which its words make reference. It ought to be read, in other words, literally, but not literalistically.

Amazingly, the third one actually supports the adoration of the Sacrament, and supposes Arian heresy where such adoration is attacked. (for adoration "in spirit and in truth" hardly excludes or denies the accompanying physical adoration; and "Especially where the community is assembled" does not mean "and not outside the Mass.")

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

Please see my comments below, for I do quote McCain at length. McCain writes:

"Mr. Gaba, if we are going to get into the whole, "Who is, or is not, adoring Christ" thing...let me defend myself against your false accusations that you continue to perpetuate here and elsewhere.

When I attend Divine Service as a member of the congregation:

I bow deeply at the consecration.

I kneel to receive the Lord's body and blood, bowing before and after.

I make the sign of the cross.

I sing the Agnus Dei to Christ who has come among us at His promise at the Words of Institution and is actually present, on the altar, under the bread and wine.

When I celebrate the Sacrament in a liturgy, I:

Elevate the elements
Bow deeply
Reverence Christ throughout the Supper

I don't know, and frankly don't care, if this is "enough" according to the "Gottesdienst" agenda, but...let's be done with your irresponsible accusations that I do not believe in adoring Christ in His Sacrament, His very present body and blood.

The issue, again, is not the adoration of Christ in the Eucharistic elements within the instituted use of the Sacrament but "adoration" outside the instituted use...

My response: I never accused McCain of not adoring Christ's Body and Blood per se. He affirms here that he is not only opposed to adoration of Christ's Body outside the Mass, but condemns it in others as well. That second point is his real problem, to which Lutherans must stand up and against which I must fight. He is guilty of what he has falsely accused me of, namely pharisaical legalism.

No one in what he calls a "Gottesdienst crowd" says that what McCain does is "not enough." Such an accusation on his part is uncalled for.

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

McCain writes:

"I'll say it again, where we first conversed about this, it was when you chose on "Project Wittenberg" to move several laypeople to scandal, offense and upset when you flatly asserted to them that receiving the Sacrament in the hands is not respectful, that if their pastors did not hold their fingers "just so" they were evidencing signs of not believing in the Real Presence, and that if a pastor did not do a certain set of physical gestures, he was less than Lutheran and not as concerned about our Lord's presence in His Supper as he should be.

You said it. You scandalized laypeople. You have since somewhat modified your assertions, or at least have not been as dogmatic about them.

But that's where this conversation began, and it is my opinion it has not moved any further beyond"

My response: It was "The Wittenberg Trail," not Project Wittenberg. And your lies about what I did or didn't say there continue here. So it goes. You ought to repent of what you did there, and have done elsewhere ever since, namely falsely accuse me of legalism, and pharisaism, and in fact prove yourself to be an absolutist of your own view of things like adoration and the rubrics. You are a complete liar in this matter, and I call you to repentance.

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

Paul McCain of CPH writes:
"The Gottesdienst Crowd continues to defend and excuse this bad practice, flowing from, frankly, bad doctrine, and gives the pastor using a Tabernacle a "free pass" because he is part of their little group."

To this accusation of false doctrine or bad theology, I respond by calling him to tell us exactly what is the false doctrine of which I and the Gottesdienst "crowd" are guilty.

McCain then writes:
"It is unfortunate to see these faulty practices being defended and perpetuated. But it is what we've come to expect from the self-apppointed "liturgical traditionalists" among us, who chose to "do their own thing" with much pious excuse making is no different. It's pretty much as silly as quoting ad naseum the "Little Flower" on one's blog site."

My response: It seems that Paul McCain is getting sick from reading quotes from Therese of Lisieux. Perhaps he forgets that he is not required to read this blog. Like a TV addict, he needs to be reminded that he could at any time turn away for a while. It also seems that he thinks that I am indeed quoting Therese ad naseum. I have quoted her, I guess three times. Wow, I suppose that's really going over board. He also thinks that quoting her so much is "silly." I cannot do anything with a man who claims such things. Therese is not on this blog for the sake of conflict. The conflict is within Paul McCain. And if he thinks that three quotes is quoting her ad naseum, he should turn away now, because when I get time, I have much more to post.

Paul McCain said...

The Book of Concord rejects the practice of reserving the host in a Tabernacle.

Mr. Gaba, and his friends, through logic that can only but be described as tortured, attempt to reject what the BOC clearly asserts, by claiming that since they have good intentions about what they will be doing with the reserved elements, it is appropriate for them to be reserved and adored.

Now they resort to labeling anyone who rejects their theories as [and here I cite the comments offered on this post]:

being Arian, Nestorian, or a Receptionist, a Jack Chick tractarian, Tridentine-esque and under the influence of Satan.

And so it goes....

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

McCain writes:
"The Book of Concord rejects the practice of reserving the host in a Tabernacle.

Mr. Gaba, and his friends, through logic that can only but be described as tortured, attempt to reject what the BOC clearly asserts, by claiming that since they have good intentions about what they will be doing with the reserved elements, it is appropriate for them to be reserved and adored.

Now they resort to labeling anyone who rejects their theories as [and here I cite the comments offered on this post]:

being Arian, Nestorian, or a Receptionist, a Jack Chick tractarian, Tridentine-esque and under the influence of Satan.

And so it goes...."

My response: Indeed.

Paul McCain said...

Mr. Gaba, can I have clarifcation?

I do not want to misrepresent what you are saying, since it appears you, and others on this post/thread are making the most serious of accusations of heresy.

Are you saying that those who do not believe that the remaining elements left over after a Divine Service has ended should be reserved, ideally in a Tabernacle, and there worshipped and adored as Christ's body and blood, are Arians and Nestorians?

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

Paul McCain of Concordia Publishing House writes:
"Mr. Gaba, can I have clarifcation?

I do not want to misrepresent what you are saying, since it appears you, and others on this post/thread are making the most serious of accusations of heresy.

Are you saying that those who do not believe that the remaining elements left over after a Divine Service has ended should be reserved, ideally in a Tabernacle, and there worshipped and adored as Christ's body and blood, are Arians and Nestorians?"

My response: Anyone who has actually listened to this and related discussions knows that you are the one accusing people of false doctrine. As I said a couple comments up, you are the one who should clarify what bad theology or false doctrine I and others are guilty of, since that is your accusation. Now let me repeat: your problem is not that you prefer not to reserve the Sacred Species; your problem, rather, is that you condemn those who do prefer the practice of reservation. You condemn them as unLutheran, and in fact, you position implies that they are guilty of idolatry. You say you do not want to misrepresent? You say you only want clarification? Please. When you show by your behavior that such truly are your aims, then you will be finally acting like what I know you to be, a brother. As of this moment, though, in consideration of the whole discussion, and many others of the past, such a call rings hollow.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Reverend Deacon:

As I mentioned before, my pastoral practice and the custom of my parish is to consume all of the Lord's body and blood. Barring unforeseen circumstances, I do this during the Nunc Dimittis. The only reliquiae to be dealt with at my parish is left in the jiggers - which are then individually washed, with the cleansing water containing the Lord's blood being poured on the ground beside the church (we do not have a piscina).

Under the circs, this is the best I can do. Getting rid of the Tijuana shooters is not an option. I pray that my parishioners one day ask for the practice to be changed.

I could certainly see where reservation would be helpful in cases of extremity, but we don't have a shortage of pastors in the area. My practice is to consecrate the elements when I make sick and shut-in calls.

My vicarage situation, however, was different, insofar as they used a tabernacle and reserved the elements following the Sunday Mass. However, their pastoral situation was different, and it enabled the large number of shut-ins who yearned for the Lord's body and blood to receive the Most Holy Sacrament even when the pastor could not be present.

In the case of my vicarage parish, the sacramental use ended when the last of the elements were consumed - be it Sunday at 11:00 am or Friday night in a hospital. There is no violation of the *usus* unless the Roman practice of consecrating with no intention of eating were to be done (see Edward Frederick Peters' *The Origin and the Meaning of the Axiom 'Nothing Has the Character of a Sacrament Outside the Use* - published by CTS Press - it is quite enlightening).

Such faux consecrations were never done in my vicarage parish. I have never heard of them being done even once in any other Lutheran parish that has a tabernacle - be it a golden chest on the altar or a Jif jar in the closet.

In my own experience at the parish using a tabernacle, there was no monstrance nor illusion that the forgiveness of sins resulted from adoring the Presence of the Lord - whether on a Tuesday evening, or one second before eating the Lord's body on a Sunday morning. To receive the sacrament one must *take and eat* - not merely adore. And yet, as we sing: "Thee We Adore O Hidden Savior Thee" (LSB 640). The Magi received no sacrament nor forgiveness when they worshiped the Christ child - and yet how could they *not* worship Him? Worship is not about "what's in it for me," but rather, it is adoration of the One who is above all. And yet, the Lord in His mercy, deigns to give us us His gifts of forgiveness and life when we do eat and drink and hear His Word in our worship.

Nor was bread adored in my vicarage parish. No Lutheran worships bread (the claim of some of Melanchthon's pals notwithstanding). Rather, we worship the Lord in His flesh.

There is a huge difference between what the confessions rightfully denounce that had become the norm in the 16th century papal church vs. what is practiced in Lutheran churches.

In Lutheran churches, I have never even heard of a host being used for perpetual adoration, a consecration with no intent to eat, nor the belief that one can receive the forgiveness of sins through adoration of Jesus apart from sacramental eating and drinking.

Nor have I ever head of a pastor or parish being brought up on charges for having a tabernacle - neither in the LCMS nor elsewhere. I am not familiar with anyone in the history of Lutheranism being charged for reserving consecrated elements.

Has this even happened once?

Thanks for providing us a forum for fraternal discussion!