Author Topic: Sacramental Security  (Read 258 times)

J. Thomas Shelley

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Sacramental Security
« on: September 16, 2019, 09:30:23 PM »
Forum member "evangelical catholic" raised a question about communicable disease and the veneration of Icons.

That brought to mind concerns I had expressed 18 years ago to the ELCA Division for Worship in an email which received only a cursory "we will consider this" reply.   Of course, that message had nothing to do with the veneration of Icons but much to do with safeguarding the elements of Sacraments from tampering.

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These are extraordinary times, when, more than ever, we are called to be a people of faith rather than a populace of fear.  In these times we must keep our focus upon the Crucified and Risen Lord who nurtures our faith at word and table with “the bread of life” and “the cup of salvation.”

To encourage the people of faith to avail themselves of this means of grace, we might consider a few measures that should be regarded as prudent, rather than paranoid.

We might evaluate the security of the storage of the elements used for the Eucharist.  Are the sacramental bread and wine stored in an area readily accessible to visitors and passerby, or in a facility that is not normally open to the public?  Where are the cruets or flagon and paten placed for the liturgy?  If an Offertory procession is used, are the elements placed on a table in the Narthex or at rear of the Nave?  If so, is there an usher assigned to keep watch over them to prevent tampering?

I raise these questions not to be alarmist (God knows there is too much alarm already) but simply to suggest that we might want to do things a bit differently in these times so that weaker consciences might not be afraid.  For example, the elements might be kept in a Sacristy until the sharing of the Peace, then, during that period of activity, the gift bearers might take them to the rear of the Nave in preparation for the Offertory.

(Similar care should also be taken with the ewer and Baptismal water).

I would suggest that these thoughts be shared with our ecumenical partners, especially the Roman Catholics and Episcopalians for whom offertory processions are the norm.


I must add:  The Orthodox practice is that the prepared Chalice and Paten remain safely within the Altar on the Prothesis until they are carried through the assembly by the Priest (and Deacon) during the Great Entrance.
Greek Orthodox-Ecumenical Patriarchate

Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
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Chrismated Antiochian Orthodox, eve of Mary of Egypt Sunday, A.D. 2015