Author Topic: On the Eucharistia  (Read 7966 times)

BrotherBoris

  • Guest
Re: On the Eucharistia
« Reply #120 on: March 29, 2010, 05:04:19 PM »
Thank you for your kind words, Scott.

I'm trying to be as fair and as even-handed as I possibly can in this discussion.  When I think of the Lutheran understanding of the Consecration, I think particularly of Saint Augustine and his statement, Accedat verbum ad elementum et fit sacramentum, that is "The Word is added to the element and it becomes a Sacrament. This was a favorite of Luther and Augustine's maxim is quoted numerous times in the Lutheran Confessions. I would suggest that it forms the very basis of Lutheran sacramental theology. It seems, at least to me, that Roman Catholic sacramental theology also closely follows this maxim of Augustine's, with the addition that a validly ordained priest is necessary to confect the Eucharist. But other than the validly ordained priest requirement , the Lutheran and Catholic views seem very, very close to me.  Given Augustine's enormous influence on the Latin Church, it is only natural that his views on the sacraments would shape the minds of how Western Christians view the Sacraments. We are all products of our history.

Now here are where things start to get complicated, or at least "messy" theologically. The East never had an Augustine. We have no one Church Father who shines head and shoulders above the rest. Secondly, Augustine wrote only in Latin. He couldn't even read Greek, much less write anything in it. Because of accidents of historical circumstances, Augustine's writing were not translated into Greek (or Russian, for that matter) until the 19th century in most places. Therefore, all our sacramental theology developed without him, and without his influence. For good or for bad, that is the case. So when one looks at Eastern Christian sacramental theology, one has to abandon Augustinian definitions and categories, because that framework simply isn't there. It won't help you understand it.

Secondly, if you study the Epiclesis and the Eastern view of it and its importance, you will eventually discover that it proceeds from a slightly different understanding of the Holy Trinity than the West has.  Remember that the East defines the Trinity differently from the West. In the East, the Father is the source of unity in the Trinity. He holds it together. The two other persons (the Son and the Holy Spirit) are defined by their relationship to the Father. The Son is eternally begotten of the Father. The Holy Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father. St. Irenaeus of Lyons refers to the Son and the Holy Spirit as the "hands of the Father." And thus when we speak of God acting in something, i.e. the Sacraments, it is natural to us to think that He uses BOTH his hands. This is quite different from Augustine who defines the Holy Spirit as the "love between the Father and the Son."  For an Orthodox, such a statement is woefully inadequate because it both de-personalizes the Spirit, and seems to subordinate Him below Christ. How can one invoke the "love between the Father and the Son" to do anything? I don't want to belabor the point, but to understand the Orthodox insistence on an Epiclesis, you really have to understand why the Orthodox reject the filioque in the Creed, because the two are inversely related. For if the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, then, I suppose, using the Son's words (the Verba) would be enough, because somehow the Holy Spirit could proceed from that and bring about the sacramental change. However, if one believes that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and not the Son, then using the Son's words (the Verba) by themselves seems to us a bit too formulaic, too (dare I say) "magical" (in the negative sense), too much like just following a recipe. Think of it like baking a cake. You have the text before you (the recipe.) As you recite the recipe, you add the ingredients together to make a cake. And you pour the batter into the cake pan, just like we prepare the Chalice for the Eucharist. But in the Orthodox understanding, it isn't cake yet. Oh its POTENTIALLY cake, yes. All the necessary ingredients are there. But you have to put that cake pan in the oven. You have to add heat. You have to add the fire of the Holy Spirit to it. Only then does it rise and show that it has been "given life" and truly become "cake".  That's kind of our view of the Epiclesis, if you will all pardon my rather crude illustration. Now I suppose some Lutheran might object to invoking the Holy Spirit because that might be interpreted as a "work" or "something we do." Yes, the priest does beseech the Holy Spirit to make the change. But the priest himself doesn't make the change. He only asks (or more literally "begs") the Holy Spirit to bring about the change. The miraculous change is still purely a gift of grace. We can't force the Holy Spirit to do anything. When we think of our Lord's Incarnation in the Womb of the Blessed Virgin, Orthodox think of Mary's question, How shall this be? And what answer was she given? "The power of the Most High shall come upon you and the Holy Spirit will overshadow you" .... that's sort of an Epiclesis to us. So we like to think that an Epiclesis is required to bring about our Lord's Incarnation in the Eucharist as well.

However, let me clearly and unequivocally state that Orthodox do not teach that the Eucharist is consecrated by the Epiclesis alone. Our tradition requires both the Verba and the Epiclesis, or as St. Irenaeus would say "both hands of the Father."

I hope this helps. And I hope I have not distorted or spoken unfairly of anyone else's views.

Let the discussion continue.

Boris

This is a fantastic rehearsal of the Orthodox opinion vis-a-vis the West.  The only quibble I would have is that Augustine's more prevalent image is the Spirit as gift, and that he also does speak if the Spirit in substantial terms even as he focuses upon relational descriptors.  He views the Spirit as being a person (persona) of the Trinity and does speak of him as a person accomplishing things.  Because of this, he can in fact be called upon.

But in any case, thank you so much for sharing this.

I think that we can see the theological difference between East and West over the filioque demonstrated here.  It is quite appropriate for the western tradition to focus upon the Verba as that which consecrates the elements because it is through those elements, through the body and blood of the Son, that the Spirit is given (or "proceeds," in the sense that He proceeds upon us).  Likewise, for the East where the idea of the filioque is not accepted (though it's my understanding that various Orthodox groups will accept the theology behind it, just not its inclusion in the Nicene Creed), it is entirely appropriate to add (I couldn't think of a better word here, b/c the epiclesis is not mentioned as part of the biblical communion accounts, so it has been "added" in) a part for the Spirit to be explicitly invoked as the agent of change b/c His procession is directly from the Father and not also through the Son.  Something additional to the Verba would then be consonant with this view of the Trinity.

But as to "magical" words, I'm not sure that either side is wholly exempt from this misunderstanding.  Bells in the Roman Catholic service make the Verba sound "magical" to me, and the epiclesis as a necessary part of the sacrament also strikes my ears as "magical."  And I could see someone not versed in Lutheranism also hearing the bare Verba as "magical."

Yet it is because of this possible source of misunderstanding the Sacrament that I am raising an issue with a particular form of the epiclesis where the Holy Spirit is asked, commanded or otherwise requested to transform the elements.  Showing us that they are what they are is another thing; it is the invocation to transform them that I find problematic for the reasons I've mentioned earlier.


Scott:

Thank you for your kind words and deep reflection. A blessed Holy Week to you.

Boris

BrotherBoris

  • Guest
Re: On the Eucharistia
« Reply #121 on: March 29, 2010, 05:19:08 PM »
Hey, we use bells.  AND the Lutherans continued using them in Saxony for a long time.  Not magical at all.  I think of it as the "dinner bell" - Eucharist is served!

Aren't bells wonderful? A wonderful feeling of peace in my soul and deep reverence occurs in me whenever they ring out in the Divine Service. I'm glad to hear your parish uses them. I would think that a good evangelical catholic explanation of them in a Lutheran liturgy would seem to be that they remind us of our Lord's Real Presence, in very much the same way that the Sanctuary Lamp reminds us (and that seems almost universally adopted by American Lutheranism now, doesn't it?).

Perhaps the bells will catch on too. One can always hope.

Orthodox love bells too. Here's a short clip from a Divine Liturgy. Note that the Orthodox ring the bells right after the Verba BEFORE the Epiclesis is recited. The more I think about it, I don't think Orthodox thought or piety makes any separation in thought or action from the Verba and the Epiclesis. To us, its all one single united action. Breaking each part down and analyzing it separately and saying "which of these is most essential?" just doesn't occur to us.  Also, I really don't think traditional Orthodox piety has even asked the question, "At what precise moment does our Lord become present in the Eucharist?"  I suppose if you pressed us for an answer we'd have to say not for certain until after the Epiclesis, but if you look at the postures and ceremonies and the behavior of people, there is a LOT of piety surrounding the Verba too.  Just a thought.

Enjoy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLtBhEoJpD4

Boris

Harvey_Mozolak

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 4857
    • View Profile
    • line and letter lettuce
Re: On the Eucharistia
« Reply #122 on: March 29, 2010, 06:12:12 PM »
I like the crossed arms at an elevation and the the sign of the cross made like a covering over the bread and chalice... maybe in the west we wave the air a bit much.... Harvey Mozolak
Harvey S. Mozolak
my poetry blog is listed below:

http://lineandletterlettuce.blogspot.com

FatherWilliam57

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 561
    • View Profile
Re: On the Eucharistia
« Reply #123 on: March 29, 2010, 10:39:41 PM »
I notice when they cross themselves in the video, they seem to reach to touch the ground.  I am not familiar with this gesture.  Could someone please explain for me.  Thank you!  (A very interesting and informative thread, by the way!)
The Rev. William B. Henry, Jr.
Interim Pastor, St. Peter's Lutheran Church, Evans City, PA
"Put on the whole armor of God."

Weedon

  • Guest
Re: On the Eucharistia
« Reply #124 on: March 29, 2010, 10:46:24 PM »
The Orthodox frequently cross their whole bodies.  I'm not sure why other than TRADITION!

BrotherBoris

  • Guest
Re: On the Eucharistia
« Reply #125 on: March 29, 2010, 11:14:39 PM »
I notice when they cross themselves in the video, they seem to reach to touch the ground.  I am not familiar with this gesture.  Could someone please explain for me.  Thank you!  (A very interesting and informative thread, by the way!)

What you are describing is what is known as a "lesser reverence" or a "small reverence". It is the Eastern version of the Western genuflection, and it serves exactly the same purpose. The Greeks call it a metanoia and the Russian call it a poklon.  English speaking Orthodox usually just anglicize the Greek term and call it making a "metanya".  It is made by making the sign of the cross and then bending over to touch the floor with your right hand.  It serves as a substitute for the "greater reverence" which is a prostration.  During the Paschal Season, it is considered too joyful a time to make prostrations. (We do that during Great Lent). So the prostrations are replaced during the Paschal Season (and on Sundays too, because every Sunday is a Little Pascha) with metanyas.   Come to think of it, even Eastern prostrations are different from Western ones.  When Westerners do prostrations (like when they ordain Catholic priests), they lay prone on the floor, "spread eagle" as it were on the ground. That's not how we do prostrations. When we do prostrations, we make the sign of the cross, kneel on both our knees, then bow and touch our foreheads to the floor. I'll try to see if I can find a short video clip of a Lenten Pre-sanctified Liturgy. We do lots of prostrations during those, especially when we say the Lenten prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian.

Thanks for your question.

Boris

BrotherBoris

  • Guest
Re: On the Eucharistia
« Reply #126 on: March 29, 2010, 11:27:52 PM »
I like the crossed arms at an elevation and the the sign of the cross made like a covering over the bread and chalice... maybe in the west we wave the air a bit much.... Harvey Mozolak

Interesting observation! I like how you describe that, Harvey, "making the sign of the cross like a covering over the bread and the chalice".  I confess that I had never really noticed that before. I had to go back and watch the clip again to see what you were referring to.  Since I sing in the choir and we stand in the rear of the church, I don't always get a good view of everything that is happening up at the altar. Youtube certainly comes in handy sometimes.

Boris

FatherWilliam57

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 561
    • View Profile
Re: On the Eucharistia
« Reply #127 on: March 30, 2010, 12:20:17 AM »
Thank you, Brother Boris!  (Perhaps it is time we started a thread on liturgical expression in the Eastern Church?  I, for one, would be very interested.  I haven't been to a Russian Orthodox Church for Christmas since I left my last parish.  Our cluster used to go every year as guests of Father Dimitri.  Really miss that in my Christmas observances.)
The Rev. William B. Henry, Jr.
Interim Pastor, St. Peter's Lutheran Church, Evans City, PA
"Put on the whole armor of God."

BrotherBoris

  • Guest
Re: On the Eucharistia
« Reply #128 on: March 30, 2010, 12:56:04 AM »
Thank you, Brother Boris!  (Perhaps it is time we started a thread on liturgical expression in the Eastern Church?  I, for one, would be very interested.  I haven't been to a Russian Orthodox Church for Christmas since I left my last parish.  Our cluster used to go every year as guests of Father Dimitri.  Really miss that in my Christmas observances.)

Well, let's start one!  ;D

I am actually surprised there is so much interest in this.  I'll be the first to admit that Eastern liturgical customs can seem strange, exotic, and bewildering at first, but nearly all of them have their corresponding Western forms. And when you find out the meaning behind the ceremony, they stop seeming so bizarre and just become a part of how you express your faith.

I have found in my own study of the Liturgy that learning a Rite is like learning a foreign language. Each Rite has its own history and integrity. And each Rite stands on its own. That's why I am not a big fan of mixing rites. The Western (Latin) Rite is magnificent all by itself. No need to add Byzantine elements to it.  And vice versa, of course. That's why in our discussions of the Epiclesis, I advocated the position that if the Lutheran Rite does add an Epiclesis, it should add it at its historic Western position in the Liturgy, because Lutheran liturgy is a product of the Western Church, and that basic Western framework should be respected.

Weedon

  • Guest
Re: On the Eucharistia
« Reply #129 on: March 30, 2010, 09:06:46 AM »
Brother Boris,

While I agree in principle about "borrowing" from one rite to another (many times proving rather awkward) there have been some significant "cross-fertilizations" between East and West.  The use of the Creed in the Mass was first an Eastern practice (for more than 500 years before it became standard in the West).  The Gloria in Excelsis came from the East (though from Matins, not Mass, of course).  More recently, the Lutherans adopted the fuller Kyrie litany at the start of Mass and it has proven to to be quite fitting.  The underlying "shape of the liturgy" (Dix) allows for this borrowing. 

BrotherBoris

  • Guest
Re: On the Eucharistia
« Reply #130 on: March 30, 2010, 09:30:52 AM »
Brother Boris,

While I agree in principle about "borrowing" from one rite to another (many times proving rather awkward) there have been some significant "cross-fertilizations" between East and West.  The use of the Creed in the Mass was first an Eastern practice (for more than 500 years before it became standard in the West).  The Gloria in Excelsis came from the East (though from Matins, not Mass, of course).  More recently, the Lutherans adopted the fuller Kyrie litany at the start of Mass and it has proven to to be quite fitting.  The underlying "shape of the liturgy" (Dix) allows for this borrowing. 

Well, you do make a good point.

I didn't know the Creed came into the Western Mass so late. I always assumed the West added it to the Liturgy at the same time the East did.
 
We sang the Gloria in Excelsis (the Eastern term is the Great Doxology) last night at Bridegroom Matins of Holy Week. (It was one of our "shorter" Holy Week services because it lasted only an hour and forty five minutes. LOL) 

Wasn't it Luther Reed of the old Service Book and Hymnal fame who first came up with the idea of adding an Eastern style Kyrie litany to the Lutheran liturgy? Whoever came up with it idea, I think it was a stroke of creative genius. Rome certainly has not adopted it, nor has Anglicanism either. Yet it does seem to work quite well, and from what I have seen, it seems almost universal practice in most of American Lutheranism now. 

I still think Luther Reed's Eucharistic Prayer in the SBH (which he patterned after Chrysostom's) is the single most beautiful Eucharist Prayer Lutherans have ever produced in the English language. I think you could make a good case the Luther Reed was the "Archbishop Cranmer" of American Lutheranism. I think Arthur Carl Piepkorn might qualify for that title too.

Have a blessed Holy Week.

Boris

Weedon

  • Guest
Re: On the Eucharistia
« Reply #131 on: March 30, 2010, 10:31:50 AM »
You too, my friend!  May it abound in the grace of the Lord.  Holy Tuesday's Divine Service featured the reading of the St. Mark Passion - standing there for the whole of it (my associate celebrated, so I was in the pew), the thought crossed my mind about how it was a wee taste of what the Orthodox regularly experience!

Jeff-MN

  • ALPB Forum Regular
  • ***
  • Posts: 173
    • View Profile
Re: On the Eucharistia
« Reply #132 on: April 02, 2010, 07:37:33 PM »
With regard to the Eucharistic prayer, I'd say, "IT'S OK to PRAY".  (or is there a trademark on that?)