25 April 2007

What a Wild Read!

Blame Juhl. We were talking the other day and he was telling about the von Schenk autobiography *Lively Stone* (edited by C. George Fry and Joel R. Kurz, available from the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau), and he said I had to get it. So I did.

One thing comes clear from reading this work: this fellow was a hoot and half! He'd have been a blast to have as your pastor.

The book has numerous quotable quotes - some of which this blog is not rated to carry! But one that I really like was his definition of what is the Church. He argued this at Fordham University, where he was one of three speakers. The other two were Gustave Wiegel (RC) and Alexander Schmemann (Orthodox). Here's what he said:

"According to St. Paul it is the Eucharistic Community, under the direction of the ordained minister of the church, to manifest the total presence of Christ."

Yes! And he didn't just talk it, he lived it. Truly we stand on the shoulders of giants. I wonder what von Schenk would say to the Synod today? I'm sure he'd still be a mighty preacher of repentance, but wouldn't it give joy to his heart to see the number of parishes that simply live and take for granted what he fought so hard for: the total service of Word and Sacrament. Parish after parish across the Synod has embraced this and discovered the joy of the weekly Eucharist - so much so that a Sunday without the Eucharist seems unthinkable anymore.

True, folks in the Synod thought the guy a kook. But countless others - who actually knew him - respected and loved him. The book is very worth the read. It will invite any pastor to examine the place that leiturgia, missio, and diakonia have in his parish life.

P.S. The shocker in the book was that this towering legend of the liturgical movement in the LCMS could say (same as Piepkorn!) "I see no objection to individual cups" and, referring to the common cup, "the sooner the congregation gets rid of it the better it will be." GASP! GROAN! LAUGH! The man is "unpindownable." He'll shock, anger, delight, and surprise you.


wm cwirla said...

"Unpindownable" - my kind of guy. No wonder I've always enjoyed the little I've read of him.

His meditation called "The Presence" where he speaks of seeking the company of our loved ones who sleep in Jesus at the altar of Holy Communion is a classic.


William Weedon said...

He mentions "The Presence" a number of times, but I've not ever read it myself. I'll need to see if I can find it somewhere.

Rev. David M. said...

This is one time I'm happy to be blamed!

You can thank Fr. Larry Loree, Jr. (he prefers to be called Larry von Schenk these days) for letting me read the book. My copy is in the mail.

There are some spots that will make you cough, but as many that will make you think and laugh, not necessarily at the same time!

If you look frequently at the usual internet used book sites (ABE, Bookfinder, etc.), you will find a stray copy of "The Presence" floating around. I found mine about three or four years ago. Now that I've read von Schenk's autobiography, I should read his book.

But, blame Weedon, he has me reading Koenker gem of a book "Worship in Word and Sacrament". Another good blame.

Yes, I cannot think of a Sunday without the Eucharist. The Lord has delivered me to a congregation that knows the joy of weekly Eucharist (thank you, Fr. Scott Bruzek for your catechesis while here years ago!) and wouldn't live without it!

Blessed Feast of St. Mark to you, Chancy!

William Weedon said...

To you, too, Jewel!

Past Elder said...

My convert's perspective is, a fair amount of what became standard American Lutheran practice owes less to Lutheranism than to Pietism, a fear borrowed from American Protestantism of seeming "too Catholic", and resorting to Anglican sources in the new country.

I'd love to see my parish go to every Sunday Communion rather than the typical 1st and 3rd Sunday thing, yet I understand where that came from, yet I also understand that the objection was not to Communion every Sunday per se but having to do so on orders from Rome.

FWIW, I can find no objection to individual cups either, or see why that violates "took the cup" any more than individual hosts violates "took the bread, blessed it, broke it ...".

ResQRev said...

I believe Piepkorn permitted the use of individual cups for the sake of introducing the weekly Eucharist.

Weekly Eucharist was the larger of the two battles, and I am grateful that for the most part, this battle seems to have been won, as distasteful as I find individual cups.

Pr. John Fleischmann

William Weedon said...

Hi, John!

What I found fascinating is that according to the footnotes, what was driving their push for the individual cup was, well, racism. They didn't think the parishes would be able to think of sharing a cup with someone of a different race. Good gravy! If ever there WERE a reason for the common cup, that's it! I would never in a million years have thought that they'd go along with it. On THIS, color me decidedly anti-von Schenk and anti-Piepkornian.

William Weedon said...

You know what cracks me up on that topic? The chalice - and the fear of it? Here at St. Paul's, I have a medical doctor who regularly partakes of it, numerous nurses who do as well, and here's the real kicker: an infection control specialist who also drinks from the one cup. Indeed, Pepperkorn was right in applying Gerhard to the situation: "No poison can be in the cup that my physician sends me." Amen!

William Weedon said...

That should read Gerhardt - the singer not the dogmatician!

ResQRev said...

>" I have a medical doctor who regularly partakes of it, numerous nurses who do as well, and here's the real kicker: an infection control specialist who also drinks from the one cup."

Not to mention the fact that for the past 21 years (can it be that long already?????) we've consumed the remaining blood during the ablution... We both are still standing, right?

I'm also decidedly anti-von Schenk and Piepkorn on this point.


Eric Phillips said...

I can't agree with any desire to get rid of the chalice, but I don't think we should be getting rid of the individual cups either. The symbolism of the chalice is better for sure, and I much prefer it, but that's not a strong enough reason to impose it on those who are grossed out, afraid of germs, or afraid of communicating their own sickness to others.

There's no metaphorical poison in the cup, but there could still be literal poison.

Christine said...

a fair amount of what became standard American Lutheran practice owes less to Lutheranism than to Pietism, a fear borrowed from American Protestantism of seeming "too Catholic", and resorting to Anglican sources in the new country.

No doubt, Past Elder. Interestingly, I've had Catholic friends tell me that they have observed at Lutheran services how much more reverent the Lutherans are in their celebration of the Eucharist than their fellow Catholics sometimes are at Mass. But that could well be because of the general casualness that has infected our society.

My mom, whose Lutheran ancestors were among the Salzburger Lutherans who left Austria after being expelled by the local Catholic authorities because they refused to abandon their Lutheran identity was raised in East Prussia.

At some point some of her relatives must have experienced the effects of the Prussian Union because although my mother's family remained staunchly Lutheran it seemed to have veered into a slightly "pietistic" form in that mom remembers her pastors wearing black "scholar's robes", as she put it, and Holy Communion was only celebrated a few times a year for fear that the congregation would become too casual about it's observance.

And yet with that background my mother always preferred the common chalice and strongly disliked the individual cups used by Lutheran congregations here in the U.S.

History is fascinating.

Past Elder said...

Christine, Pastor et alia:

Even in the RC church, frequency of Communion reception, as distinct from availability, has varied over the years (talking centuries here). From those days of misplaced reverence leading to infrequent reception a requirement is still on the RC books that Communion be received a minimum of once a year.

Ah, the black Genevas! Can't look too Catholic with vestments and all! As an academic (once upon a time) I always thought on the one hand it was silly to run around in gowns that originally derive from the fact that students and professors were clerics wearing cassocks, and similarly silly to run around the sanctuary in garments originally derived from secular pagan Rome officialdom. Yet on the other hand there is a long history and symbolism attached to that (not the least of which is that MDs do not sit with academic doctors but with master's level) as long as one doesn't take it too seriously.

Likewise Communion practice. Do individual cups, quite apart from preference and symbolism, violate the institution of Christ, or is a common cup required, as distinct from preferable? That is really the only issue. The arguments I have read that individual cups violate either a direct requirement for a common cup or the example of Christ would also require a common loaf too.

Frankly I think the whole thing is lost in accidents of history too. The Roman church quit breaking a loaf and went to hosts because everyone got a host, and kept one cup because only the priest got the fruit of the vine. Had Rome not messed up Communion in the first place, you'd have had individual bread and individual fruit of the vine all along!

Fr. Hank said...

Both men served parishes in areas where TB was endemic, along with a few other nasty pre antibiotic pests. The individual cuplettes were as much common sense and facing reality as anything else.
You youngsters don't realize what life was like then.

Christine said...

Even in the RC church, frequency of Communion reception, as distinct from availability, has varied over the years (talking centuries here). From those days of misplaced reverence leading to infrequent reception a requirement is still on the RC books that Communion be received a minimum of once a year.

Very true, but now I hear Catholic clergy complaining that everyone comes up to receive Communion but not many are making sacramental confession first, even though the official teaching on mortal/venial sin is still on the books.

From what I've observed some of the objections of the sacramentally inclined to individual cups is the disposition of the cups after Communion. If the precious blood remains even in a miniscule amount what does throwing the cups away signify?

Actually I think the Lutheran doctrine of baptism as Word mysteriously joined to the water and the Body mysteriously joined to the bread resolves that problem for us, but for those who insist on transubstantiation the chalice must be fully emptied and cleansed post-Communion.

When I was a member of an ELCA congregation the pastor decided to use a common loaf of bread to distribute at Communion. I have to say I was put off by the constant possibility of it crumbling out of my hands and onto the floor and prefer the traditional hosts.

William Weedon said...

Fr. Hank,

I drank from the chalice during the height of the AIDS crisis in NY city. Didn't give it a second thought. Understand it is not that I believe in transubstantiation, but that I simply believe we should do as our Lord commanded and leave all the worrying to Him who is a lot smarter than any scientist or health official: "Drink from it all of you." So we do. And we're still here. For the time being, of course. : )

William Weedon said...

The responses here make me wonder if it is a bit of a generational thing? I know that those who advocate most strongly for the common chalice tend to be the younger clergy (among whom I can no longer count myself). To them its a "duh" thing - just do what the Lord said. And I do know a fair number who would at all be opposed to the single loaf also. Also, in my parish I see a clean division between those who are what I call "late middle age" (say 50-70) who go for the individuals and the younger folk and the oldest folk tend much more toward the chalice.

Past Elder said...

All of us of whatever generation will need to abandon our preferences if they contradict Scripture.

I submit that:
1) if the "duh" criterion demonstrates that we MUST use a common cup and MUST NOT use individual cups, then on the same basis we MUST use a common loaf and MUST NOT use wafers;
2) if the "duh" criterion allows for wafers, then it must allow for individual cups too;
3) if a MUST is not established and we MAY use a common loaf or wafers, or a common chalice or individual cups, then these are matters about which confessional types may legitimately differ and we should turn our attention elsewhere.

William Weedon said...

Past Elder,

The way you phrase the matter is perhaps not the only way to consider it. For there are things which are truly adiaphora and yet where the Church in her wisdom resisted saying: "do whatever." Indeed, the first question is: is this commanded by our Lord. If so, then the discussion is at an end. The rationale I've heard in this regard has been that from the Words of Institution it cannot be absolutely determined if "drink of it" refers to the cup or to our Lord's blood. Still, the Apostle spoke of THE cup of blessing which we bless (and yes, of THE bread which we break).

But the next question the Church raises, and which is not raised often enough nowadays, is: if it is not commanded or forbidden, which practice best confesses the saving Gospel?

Said another way, if you turned off the audio and just watched the visual, is there a confession that is made from a community drinking together from one cup that is different from a community where each has his own cup. In fact, is not the root of so much that ails us the "each has his own" mentality in most everything?

So, not meaning to anathematize those who use or prefer the individual cups, I would still think the Church can encourage that we NOT lose the cup just because we have lost the one loaf; but indeed keep it as a reminder that we are one loaf in Christ and all share one cup.


Past Elder said...

I certainly agree that determining that something is neither commanded nor forbidden ought not end the discussion -- Luther himself made the point that just because something is permissible does not make it a good idea or the best choice among several ideas, and that there are valid grounds other than it violates a command or a prohibition for rejecting a practice. I'm only saying that we should discuss such matters clearly as such, and not as if it's an article of faith, and that I see the matter of a common cup versus individual cups as such a matter. And I further agree that "adiaphora" has lamentably become code for "it's all OK and we don't need to worry about it" to the exclusion of concerns of good order in the church.

To me, allowing individual loaves as it were but keeping the common cup as a sign of unity is just inconsistent -- if unity is better served by a common source, then it applies to both kinds. But that is simply my opinion and I too would hardly anathematise someone who used a different practice based on a different but legitimate opinion.

Fr. Hank said...

Ah, good pastor, HIV/AIDS doesn't transmit that way,,,, TB and hepatitis do, and the cause of polio was unknown and a terror as well.
I do find your observation of age distribution on chalice/cuplettes to spot on.

Christine said...

Being newly returned to the LCMS I can't speak to the overall situation in our parishes but my prior membership in ELCA congregations leads me to ponder further the chalice/individual cups preference.

One ELCA congregation I was a member of was housed in a magnificent building (once, sadly, affiliated with the LCMS). The woodcarved crucifix flanked by St. Mary and St. John, flanked in turn by praying angels was simply magnificent, as were the stained glass windows and gothic structure. This congregation was decidely evangelical and catholic and the chalice was the preferred mode of receiving the Blood of the Lord.

Fast forward to another, newer ELCA congregation years later. The pastor had proposed that a cross with a corpus of the risen Christ be placed in the church and the congregation, made up of "evangelically" leaning midwestern Lutherans rooted in the former ALC and LCA were scandalized.

How a church selects ecclesiastical appointments is definitely a matter of adiaphora but I always felt that the look of this building was more Methodist than Lutheran. A strictly personal preference, I freely admit.

I wonder if this plays into a congregation's preference for the chalice as opposed to individual cups.

I could be entirely wrong !!

Eric Phillips said...

Something else to think about here: when only 13 people are drinking and eating (as at the Last Supper), one cup is enough, and one loaf. When 130 people will be partaking, that changes. Even when we use the common cup, our usage is not the same as Christ's at the Last Supper, because we also have a cruet containing more wine, which we use to refill the chalice. Those who use the chalice are actually NOT all sharing the contents of one cup, but rather the contents of one cruet.

Christine said...

Good points, Eric. And it just occurred to me that even at Roman Catholic parishes multiple chalices are used.

Past Elder said...

Bless us and save us Mrs O'Davis, at various points along the way I've done all of the above!

Serving what is now called the Tridentine Mass pre-Vatican II, the common cup and the individual cup were one and the same, since only one individual drank from the cup, the priest -- who if an exact recreation of Jesus' action is required, is also the only one who actually got Communion since the priest breaks his larger host in two.

Came the Revolution and we did Communion in both kinds once in a while, using multiple chalices, standing to one side of the host distributor so those who didn't want it could pass by -- kneeling, that awful relic of mediaeval monarchial triumphalism (so we were told) being a thing of the past. Also we had informal "floor" masses in college, breaking the common loaf and drinking from the common cup, in an atmosphere of a spiritualised kegger.

Then after twenty years of giving up on Christianity altogether, I become a Lutheran and later an elder, where one of my duties was to prepare the wafers and individual cups (including the non fermented ones, which if you want to open that can of worms I see as quite OK, being no less fruit of the vine for not being alcoholic) for weekend (in true Vatican II wannabe form we had Saturday Sunday service) services.

The upshot? I myself have more trouble with Communion in the hand than anything about chalices and cups. When that practice was hauled out of the dustbin of history by the Vatican II crowd, we were told we needed to change to this more ancient (which it is) practice because it got away from the me-and-God passivity and more fully symbolised how salvation is a co-operation between God's grace and Man's action, how faith is an action between Man and God, Man extending his hand to meet God -- in other words, because it better symbolised false doctrine! So symbolism is fine, but handle with care, it's not Scripture.

Christine said...

and more fully symbolised how salvation is a co-operation between God's grace and Man's action, how faith is an action between Man and God, Man extending his hand to meet God --

Huh ??? I just naturally assumed that Communion in the hand reflected Jesus giving the bread directly to the twelve.

As usual, the RC philosophizes it into something much more complicated than it needs to be.

It also leads me to question how old the Eastern Christian practice of placing consecrated cubes of bread into the chalice is.

Past Elder said...

Real old, Christine -- you can see a vestige of it still, in the Roman priest's communion, where after he breaks his host, he breaks a small part off one of the halves and drops it in the chalice.

And you're right about the Communion in the hand thing. That's a real old practice too, but as it was presented to us when we were told how much better it is than on the tongue, the idea was to express our action in faith meeting Christ's action in sacrament.

Same reason several Eucharistic Prayers, a new lectionary, etc -- to "symbolise" that there are many ways to understand and practice faith.

You've been there. Ain't it great to be Lutheran? Except of course when always-been Lutherans start playing around with Rome's latest destructive liturgical toys.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

If what is in that chalice is really Christ's Blood, there can be NO kind of poison in it.

Just as sin cannot stand in the Divine Presencebut but is purified as in a consuming fire, neither can sickness withstand the Divine Presence. Sickness, is but a manifestatin of sin.

favoring one loaf and one cup

William Tighe said...

"... in graments originally derived from secular pagan Roman officialdom ..."

The only vestment to which this applies is the stole; all other vestments were simply the ordinary semi-formal clothes of Romans from the 1st century BC to the 5th century AD.

As I understand it, the Orthodox practice of putting "cubes" in the Chalice and consecrating with a spoon is not early, but late: 9th or 10th century. It has nothing to do with the original practice of placing a small portion of the consecrated bread in the Chalice at the fraction, but was introduced to facilitate speed of communion and to avoid splllage from the Chalice. Dom Gregory Dix, in his *Detection of Aumbries* -- a flawed work but still a useful one, and in spots highly entertaining to read, gives examples of how similar methods, as well as intinction, were attempted in the West, and always evoked denunciation from Rome. The only ancient Church that has never done otherwise than to receive the Body (in the hand) and blood (from the Chalice) separately is the "Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of the East" (aka the "Nestorian" Church) -- on the other hand, the method by which the far-flung dioceses of that Church in India and China made communion wine from dried raisins is quite a story.

Past Elder said...

Dr Tighe, you are of course quite correct that the magistrate's stole is the only vestment derived from Roman officials. So I amend my statement to read "derived from secular pagan Rome" and stand by my point

When I was taught about vestments as an altar boy in the pre Vatican II Roman church, we were told that one of their chief values was that vesting in Roman clothes demonstrates our unbroken continuity with St Peter the first pope and the church of Rome. As a Lutheran, I have mixed feelings. I have no objection to them and in fact greatly enjoy the pictures our hosts posts from time to time, since they reflect the traditional usage rather than the trimmmed down Vatican II usage that has infected so much of contemporary Lutheranism. On the other hand, I am not persuaded that dressing up like a Roman adds anything to the Divine Service other than having us take our place among the world's religions with their carious versions of rites and ceremonial clothes, and we might be better served to simply wear the seni formal garb of our day.

Too bad I'm too old for seminary. Confessional Lutheranism really needs a pastor who insists on the Common Service yet does it in a suit!

As to Communion in the hand, I am not at all disputing the antiquity of the practice, simply stating the raionale I was taught for using it again in our time, that it better represents faith as an action, a meeting of our action and God's grace which to-gether is salvation.

I never did understand the fraction. If it is true that as we were taught the separation of the body and the blood is in line with the draining of the blood from a sacrificial victim, then why re-assemble them? Cubes and the fraction I did not mean to argue are directly related, but I would posit some kind of common source for the idea that the sacrificially separated body and blood have a reason to be recombined. Then again maybe I just sat through too many historical critical classes positing lost common cources for stuff.

I remember one time serving Mass the priest had to sneeze and fumbled wildly to get his handkerchief from his pants inside all the gear in time, and thinking why bother, you've got a handkerchief on your bloody arm (the maniple)!

Christine said...

Confessional Lutheranism really needs a pastor who insists on the Common Service yet does it in a suit!

Arrrghh!! I'll have to scuffle with ya on that one, Past Elder. All throughout the Easter season my pastor has been wearing a beautiful stole with the nativity manger on the left and the Agnus Dei (one of my favorite symbols) on the right.

I like it, I like it :)

As far as the "sacrificial" part of the Mass well, .... even when I was Catholic I always had problems with the fact that the Latin sacerdos and Greek hiereus never appeared in New Testament texts as regards a specific sacrificial priesthood in the early church.

Christ, our great high priest, put an end to the sacrificial priesthood of the Old Testament. With the predominance of priestly cults in both ancient Greek and Roman culture I suppose it is not surprising that the "presbyters" of the New Testament were reinterpreted into a new Christian priesthood (not referencing the "priesthood of all believers which the NT is quite clear about) but it really doesn't fit nor does the "re-presentation" of Calvary as opposed to the fruits of the sacrifice which are made present during the liturgical celebration of the Lord's Supper.

But I realize neither Roman Catholics nor Orthodox will agree with me on that.

Heh, I am nonetheless amazed that more of my Lutheran brothers and sisters at my parish receive on the tongue than the Catholics with whom I used to worship.

Past Elder said...

Well Christine (you and I may be the only ones reading this thread at this point!) we're really on the same page. At my parish, it might be well to understand, things don't go all that much differently than they do at the Vatican II RC parish I would belong to if I were still Catholic -- three year lectionary, everyone takes the host in the hand, the Common Service is never used and DS1 always used, etc.

So on the vestments, I enjoy the pictures our host posts from time to time because they reflect the traditional usage, but find the Vatican II for Lutherans thing really bothersome whether it's vestments, lectionaries, liturgies, manner of Communion reception, or anything else, and frankly if we Lutherans are going to act as if there were no Reformation and Rome is still the HQ or Vatican II was held in St Louis I'd just as soon junk the whole clerical garb thing and all the rest. At least praise services are what they are, whereas a lot of what is passed off as "historical" worship has roots no further than 1960s Rome's parody of historical worship.

I didn't mean to say mass is a sacrifice. Jesus is the sacrifice indeed, and the fruits as you put it are present in separate body and blood as blood is drained from the sacrificial victim -- which is why I never understood why the "fraction" when the priest puts a piece of the host in the chalice, or the Eastern cubes, etc. The body and blood are separate for a reason!

Christine said...

The body and blood are separate for a reason!

Hmmm. Past Elder, my thoughts on this are as follows and if I'm wrong I ask others posting here to correct me.

In the Roman Mass the sacrifice of Calvary, with its separation of body and blood, are sacramentally renewed and made present. The people are "standing at the foot of the cross," so to speak. As I understand it the rite of fraction and commingling represents the reunion of the body and blood of Christ in His resurrection.

In the historic Lutheran liturgy we don't go back to the cross. That has happened as a once for all and all sufficient event. We do, in the sense that St. Paul states, proclaim the death of the Lord by the one cup but it is Christ, the risen Christ, who brings the fruit of His sacrifice to us in the Divine Service.

Because we are receiving the true body and blood of the risen Lord the spiritual life that has begun in our Baptism is renewed continually in the Sacrament of the Altar.

Did I get it right ??