Fr. Fenton has gotten me thinking. He raises an interesting question in the comments under a previous post: is it inappropriate for us to criticize what was the core Eucharistia of the Western Church for over 1,000 years? I have much sympathy with the argument that the Roman Canon needed "prunning" but not "excision" - but in *most* of Lutheranism (the Swedes a shining exception) all that remained of the canon was the Verba Christi - the Word of our Lord's Testament.
A number of questions present themselves:
1. Did Luther correctly understand the canon or did he read his own understanding of it into what the words actually were meant to convey? (I.e., was a catechetical solution possible without removing the canon wholesale?)
2. In what sense was a prayer that was never prayed aloud publicly in fact the West's Eucharistia - remember the importance attached in St. Justin to the people's "Amening" of said prayer. Can't "amen" what you don't know!
3. Has ANYONE ever heard a satisfactory explanation of St. Gregory the Great's claim (which figures so prominently in Lutheran polemics) that the Apostles' consecrated the host of oblation solely with the Our Father (and presumably the Verba?)? It can be found in his letter to Bishop John of Syracuse.
4. Did the overwhelming typical Lutheran practice of restricting the consecration to the Verba alone fundamentally alter the Sacrament? If so, how? I have some thoughts on this, and I would think that the big problem arises not with the Lutheran solution of the 16th century, but with the 20th century practice of picking up the elements and turning around to the people with them, or facing the people across the altar, instead of the nearly universal rubric of the early Lutheran rites that the consecration is said by the priest (as he was called in those days) *facing the altar.*
5. The Western Rite Orthodox do not receive the Canon without making adjustments, the two most noteable being the dropping of mention of the saints' merits and the addition of an epiclesis (borrowed from the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom); if recension is necessary for the prayer to be regarded as "Orthodox" by Orthodox, should the Lutherans be faulted for recognizing that the prayer had problems, even though their solution was more than a tad drastic. Is there a difference in kind between the Lutherans dropping the prayer and the Orthodox "fixing" it?
I'd be curious to hear thoughts about this topic (one dear to my heart) from all sides - yes, even those of you who think that the Preface got it wrong when it says that we should "at all times and in all places give thanks!" ; )