Tuesday, November 04, 2008

In persona Christi

Unless someone informs me of their shenanigans, I will not know what takes place on the Stand Firm blog, having no interest in adolescent theology, erroneous history, poorly reported "news" (and then by copy and paste), and the sight of bullies who censor dissent in the most heavy-handed way.

I was informed of a comment of the sort they will not delete, the theology and history of the comment having no merit, and exemplifying the kind of sophistry that makes banality seem profound. Unfortunately, like the famous El Greco Fallacy, the comment has the danger of creating an idea that will catch on unless it is nipped in the bud. Therefore, not to pick on a man who flew too close to the Sun, but simply to prevent a dangerous bit of Gnostic "reasoning" from catching on, I post here the comment and some very good responses that refute it well (which are, in addition, educational). Professor William Witt, answering another commenter, wrote his own unfortunate and novel idea:

In response to William Witt #40, Orthodoxy has, unlike Rome, never had the ethos of twisting itself in knots to explain mysteries the Church received from Christ and His Apostles. Famously, it affirms the Eucharist as the true Body and Blood of Our Savior, without feeling the need to jump through the philosophical and metaphysical hoops of, for example, transubstantiation.
Phil, I’m not sure what the point of this is, which really had nothing to do with my original argument. Historically, Orthodoxy has held that the priest acts in persona ecclesiae (in the person of the church), and that consecration takes place through the epiclesis. Historically, the Western Church has held that the priest acts in persona christi, and that consecration takes place at the words of institution. In ecumenical discussions/debates, this difference has long been a point of contention between East and West, with the East insisting that their position is correct, and that the West’s position is seriously mistaken. In ecumenically agreed statements, the eucharistic model that has come to dominate in the last half century is the epicletic one, without explicit acknowledgment that this is a move toward the Eastern position. During the second half of the twentieth century (and, to my knowledge, not before), Roman Catholic theologians began arguing that women could not be ordained because they could not represent Christ, i.e., could not act in persona christi. Shortly afterward, Eastern Orthodox theologians who were opposed to WO , suddenly began adopting the Latin argument about women being unable to represent Christ, without acknowledging that this was yielding to a Latin understanding of consecration that they had fiercely resisted previously. AFAIK, no one has ever argued that men cannot be ordained because a man cannot represent the female church when the priest acts in persona ecclesiae. So, when arguing for ecumenical unity, Western theologians have increasingly adopted the Eastern model, with an endorsement of the epiclesis, and, by implication, an endorsement of the Easern position that the priest acts in persona ecclesiae. When arguing against WO , the same theologians (and now Eastern theologians) have insisted that women cannot be ordained because they cannot represent Christ, with an implied (or rather explicit) endorsement instead of the Western position, that the priest acts in persona christi. But, then, logical consistency is not always a strong suit when people are trying to find new justifications for a committed position when the old one clearly will not do any more. As they say, any stick will do to beat a horse.

The bad news for William Witt is that the old argument still holds.

An entire forum of e-mail responses from learned theologians have answered one person's question, "how do we respond?" Well, here are some responses from that e-mail forum, responses that have no chance of being posted at SFIF any longer than it would take for the censors to delete them and ban the person who dared to write something intelligent.

First up, Dr. Timothy Teeter wrote:

Somewhere long ago--I think it was on Pontifications, but if not there, then on TitusOneNine--I dealt specifically and at length with this in a back and forth with Bill Witt. If anyone wants to find it, happy hunting. Let me know. Bill Witt has written a paper on the idea of in persona ecclesiae. I've read it, and it's interesting, but the reply re: women priests is simple--at times in the eucharist, the priest does indeed represent the church; he is a member of the congregation, speaking for us. But at other times, he specifically represents Christ, as Christ in the incarnation represents all of humanity, which requires that he be male. See Romans 5. Anyone, male or female, can represent Christ--but only men can represent Christ *as he represents all of humanity to the Father*. Otherwise Genesis and St Paul make no sense, and we are reduced to a gnostic conception of human nature in which sex (or gender if you prefer) is of no ultimate significance. Or to put it another way: in the eucharist, the priest stands in persona Christi totius humanitatis repraesentantis, something that encompasses both in persona Christi and in persona ecclesiae. The incarnation requires no less--otherwise Genesis 2, Romans 5 and I Cor 11make no sense.
Timothy M. Teeter
Georgia Southern University
Department of History

Next, Anthony Esolen wrote:

Nowhere in the tradition that I'm aware of is the priest said to act "in persona ecclesiae." To say that he does shows already that we have lost the full sense of persona -- we have turned it into a functional role, or a legalism. In a functional or legalistic sense, I can, at the attorney's office, act -- I suppose -- in persona uxoris. Actually, though, I believe the more proper term would be "in loco uxoris," just as schools once upon a time were said to act "in loco parentis," not "in persona parentis." The priest does not act in persona ecclesiae, because he does not represent, iconically, in his personal and therefore sexed humanity, the figure of the Bride of Christ, the mystical body which is the Church. He speaks pro ecclesia, on behalf of the Church, as a delegate or ambassador of the church appealing to the Father on her behalf. That was the old idea behind the priest's standing before the congregation, facing the altar, as one of us, but one of us delegated to speak on our behalf. Catholics believe that the magisterium is the magisterium; and evangelicals ought to believe that the plain sense of Scripture is the plain sense of Scripture, not just in one thorny place but across the whole of the New Testament, from which I glean the exaltation of woman to her just position as equal with man in dignity before God, but NOT sexual indifferentism, and not the dissolution of order within marriage and within the Church. To believe that the denial of the ordained ministry to women constitutes an offense to them is rather strange coming from people who are otherwise supposed to accept Christ's dictum that the last shall be first, and to model themselves after the humility of Christ and of Mary, and to remember that God has chosen things of naught to overcome those things that are. It seems that what the WO proponents really believe is that IF God indeed has limited ordination to men,that would be an offense to reason -- we would have to revert to a voluntarist conception of God. I'm not buying that. Nor am I buying the underlying assumption that the ordained ministry is some kind of plum reserved for the favored few, rather than a dread burden and responsibility. All of this reminds me of Screwtape's advice to Wormwood, letting us in on the secrets of how Hell operates. You distract a nation from its real sins by getting it to focus on the last thing in the world it needs to worry about. The last thing in our fatherless society we need to worry about is whether we aren't placing enough women in charge of teaching men and everybody else. I know it's not an argument exactly. It's more of an observation. Your foot hurts, then, does it? You might consider not shooting yourself in it all the time.

William Tighe had this to say:

Stuart wrote: "As you may know, the Montanists did ordain women to the presbyterate (and had a unique order of "prophetesses" as well), but when an agreement was reached to reincorporate them into the Catholic Orthodox Church, Montanist priests were allowed retain their orders upon making an orthodox profession of faith, while priestesses were laicized (it is not clear whether any were allowed to enter the order of Deaconesses)." In this context, I recall the fascinating essay by Nicholas Afanassiev (d. 1966) that was reprinted in both editions of *Women and the Priesthood* ed. Thomas Hopko (St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1983, 1999) on those presbytides mentioned by the Council of Laodicea (a local council of bishops that met at an unknown date in the middle years of the Fourth Century) whose office was to be discontinued and abolished. After considering the various possibilities (senior deaconesses, priest's widows, elderly widows) he concludes that they were probably derived from those "female presbyters" of the late Second/Third centuries who either returned to the church from Montanism or were a Catholic copying of the Montanists. He goes on to speculate that since bishops were thick on the ground in Asia minor, every village in which there were Christians having its own bishop, and sometimes a Montanist bishop and/or a Marcionite one as well, presbyters would seldom, if ever, have celebrated the Eucharist or any other sacrament, and so would have remained the elders and rulers of the church, who sat in a "place of honor" in the assembly (much like the Jewish zaquen/zeqenim who were the prototype of the presbyters appointed by the apostles in the churches that they founded, along with the deacons) -- and that, this being the case, "presbytides" were their female equivalents, who sat with the presbyters in such a "place of honor" or more likely had a "place of honor" of their own. This is all speculation, of course, but what is not speculation, but fact, is that these "presbytides" appear to have existed only in that heartland of Montanism, interior Anatolia. Bill

Stuart Koehl reminded us:

On the rapprochement between the Old Catholics and the Orthodox, the matter seems to be in the same place the Orthodox-Anglican rapprochement was in 1977, when Protopresbyter Alexcander Schmemann wrote to an Anglican friend, "The ordination of women means the end of dialogue". For the Orthodox, as a practical matter, the ordination of women is such a fundamental violation of Tradition as to end any possibility of communion.

Timothy Teeter writing again, said:

This, by the way, also explains the difference between the idea that May representing the Church is somehow the equivalent of the priest representing Christ. Mary is a metaphor; she stands in loco ecclesiae. A priest is Christ in the eucharistic celebration as the elements are His body and blood; he (and they) are in persona Christi.

Again, Anthony Esolen weighed in:

Mary does not represent, iconically, the Church, in the same way that the priest at Mass. Catholics call Mary the mother of the Church, and so it would seem absurd to them to refer to Mary in persona ecclesiae; she is the mother of the Church because she is the mother of Christ, Mater ecclesiae et Mater Dei. The closest you come to an iconic identification of Mary with church is in the old medieval paintings of the Coronation of Mary as Regina Coeli; there is a kind of bridal imagery in those paintings, but it would feel downright bizarre to press it. Even in those paintings Mary does not represent the whole Church as she stands at the forefront of the Church, as, in a different and less significant way, does John the Baptist. See Dante's formulation of all of this in the mystic Rose in the Paradiso.

Inevitably the egalitarians "prove" more than they wish. If it is an offense against reason that God should command that only men be ordained priests, then it must also be an offense against reason that God should call John and not Ed, or that he should choose the Hebrews rather than the Egyptians. I am not assuming a voluntarist God, who wills because he wills. But even in the calling of SOME people to the ordained ministry, we have discrimination: drawing a line between some people who are called, and some people who are not. The offense then is not the discrimination but the criterion. And that leads us back to sexual indifferentism. Jesus was pointedly NOT indifferent to sex: he often treated women with a chivalry that the world would not see until its colorful appearance in the romances of the Middle Ages; yet at other times he treated them with an abruptness that now shocks. "Woman, what is that to me?" I've heard it said that in that case, "Woman" was an honorific address -- but I don't see that in Hebrew. "My daughter," that I see, and "My mother," but not the vocative "Woman." Jesus has, however, nothing critical to say about women-in-general -- it having already been said, and said again, in Proverbs and Sirach and elsewhere. The villains in his parables are all male. So too are his apostles. It should occur to somebody that there might be a connection there.

On the villains all being male: it isn't as if you couldn't find cultural villainesses aplenty, in the ancient world. You have Clytemnestra, the daughter of King Servius (who is said to have ridden her chariot over her father's mangled body), Jezebel, Athaliah, Vashti, the goddess Ishtar, the implacable Juno ... Jesus avails himself of none of that. On the contrary, he seems to assume that "man" in his parables will quite naturally stand for males and for men-in-general. It is an embarrassment to the indifferentists, or it should be, that the word for "man" in Jesus' parables is not aner but anthropos -- AND then Jesus tells parables in which it is perfectly natural to assume that anthropos means the ordinary man, as it apparently did in the Greek common to his time. I know this brings up the linguistic-anthropological issue (dealt with very nicely by Fr. Mankowski in his old Touchstone article), but man is to woman as the general is to the specific.... There isn't anything SPECIAL about being a man, in that sense.

William Tighe passed on this observation from Fr. Jeffrey Steele:

From Fr. J. Steele of Notre Dame:

Prof. Tighe. Here is my response to Witt. It will be interesting to read the ideas of others.

There is a clear coupling in the West of the concepts of in persona christi and the words of institution as the central act. The Western understanding binds these two because the consecration refers to "my" body, "my" blood. That is, the priest speaks in the divine first person. This is also true in absolution. "I absolve you..." Again, the divine first person, thus in persona christi.

The Eastern position does not have a corollary necesity between emphasis on the epiclesis and the priest functioning in persona ecclesiae.

The differences between Eastern and Western traditions on Eucharistic theology are matters of emphasis and are not mutually exclusive. Prior to the schism, the differences in emphasis between East and West were well known and were accepted as different but valid. This is clear in that the comprehensive discussions of between East and West currently under way do not include these particularities of Eastern and Western conceptions of Eucharistic theology.

Differences over the formulation of transubstantiation notwithstanding, both systems are recognized by both East and West as valid. Furthermore, they are essentially differences of emphasis. Can not a priest function both in persona christi and in persona ecclesiaeepiclesis and the consecration?

There are two poor assumptions that Witt makes here:

1. That any shift in emphasis on the part of the West from the words of institution toward epiclesis implies a shift from in persona christi toward in persona ecclesiae. While Rome's system links the two issues, the East does not.

2. If a shift toward an emphasis on in persona ecclesia is occuring at all officially (an I havent seen evidence for that), it is not in any case a denial of in persona christi, as these are complimentary conceptions, not mutually exclusive ones.

In short, my problem with Witt's argument is the phrase "by implication:"

So, when arguing for ecumenical unity, Western theologians have increasingly adopted the Eastern model, with an endorsement of the epiclesis, and, by implication, an endorsement of the Easern position that the priest acts in persona ecclesiae.

The argument from in persona christi against WO, still stands as it absolutely must.

I see here now attached Prof. Witt's summary of the history of Eucharistic Theology.

It seems to be de rigeur to continue some of the errors of the polemicists into modern theology by making sharp distinctions between Eastern theology and Western theology on every point and presuming a facile pre schism harmony. There are so many points to be made here, I will try to limit myself to the central ones.

Witt performs a slight of hand by making all his Eucharistic references to meal rather than to sacrifice. This is a convenient way to avoid all sacerdotal arguments against WO. The "Holy Table" is in both East and West an altar of sacrifice. Some liturgists who play fast and loose with the facts have suggested that the emphasis on sacrifice is a Western preoccupation. This is not born out in the prayers of preparation nor the Eucharistic prayers of the East, nor the imagery of the altar itself which is dominated not be a Last Supper but by an icon of the crucifixion. The loaf of bread is cut with a lance and the prayers of preparation make several references to the lamb of sacrifice.

So the paterfamilias is perhaps a bit of a type for the presiding priest or bishop. But the presidency of Bishop or priest over an assembly was the least part of what they do. No, they do not merely preside (stand over) at Eucharist, but they are priests of the sacrifice of Calvary who offer this sacrifice to God. This is true in both East and West, where West excludes many Anglicans and the rest of the protestant world.

Similarly, the idea that the words of institution are somehow unimportant in Eastern liturgies is not born out in the gestures that accompany them. In some Eastern rites all the chants of the people cease during the words of institution so the congregation can hear them when apparently it is not crucial that they hear any other parts of the Eucharistic prayers. The Greeks actually kneel for the words of institution and in other rights the priest makes a solemn bow, touches the floor and crosses himself after the words are spoken over each of the elements, a progression of gestures which is found in no other part of the liturgy.

Thus, we have to look at the priestly antecedents of Christ, the apostles and their successors. These would be the Levitical priesthood of the Temple.

Thus, it is not the liturgical tradition which sets up absolute distinctions between East and West but the polemical tradition--a tradition of contradistinction which is a reflection of the post Imperial East rather than the East of the undivided Church. Witt tries to play divide and conquer between East and West over WO. But, East and West will withstand his assaults because in reality they are not two opposing systems, but two complimentary ones.

...I think Witt is mistaken about the East copying the West's position of in persona Christi when in fact the Eastern position of the multi-dimensional theology of icons is at the basis of their argument that we find in the writings of many early eastern Fathers particularly St. John of Damascus. I think he's blowing smoke here!

Fr. J.

Stuart Koehl wrote:

Witt's problem is more fundamental. The Eastern Christian argument that the epiclesis is the decisive moment of consecration is relatively new, dating to the counter-reformation, and represents nothing except a reflexive mirroring of the Latin position regarding the Institution the Orthodox Church. Modern liturgical theology has recovered the patristic view that the entire anaphora is a consecratory prayer, in which it is impossible to point to a single consecratory moment (in fact, the oldest liturgies lack either an explicit Institution, or an excplict Epiclesis, or both). This view has been accepted in both the Eastern and Western Churches. Thus Witt's "implication" is lacking foundation. Even worse, he does nothing to address the continuing strong opposition to women's ordination in the Eastern Churches, unless, of course, he wants to chalk it up to cultural backwardness.

Finally, I weighed in, having little to add:

The only things I can think to add are simply these two thoughts.

1. Witt has invented a novelty with his idea of in persona ecclesiae. There is nothing about this in the Tradition, and even so there would be no reason to connect it to the modern (equal and opposite reaction) of making the Epiclesis the central part of the Liturgy.

2. Witt can go on all he wants about in persona Christi as a "western" idea, but the Orthodox have always laid great stress on the priest as the icon of Christ.

Witt reduces himself by half with his argument.



Anonymous said...

Witt's notion, which he imputes to EO, that the priest stands "in persona ecclesiae" is not exactly a novelty; this is how the Lutherans can put up with a "pastor" in the midst of "the priesthood of all believers." And the Puritan "Directory for Publique Worship" spoke of the Minister as "the voice of the people unto God." So Witt is confusing a Protestant concept with an EO one. Mind you, Witt is a learned man and considered a pillar of sound doctrine amongst the neo-Anglicans. He teaches, as least currently, at TESM.

Anonymous said...

I do find it interesting that, whereas the West affirms the change in the Eucharistic elements occurs in Christ's Words of Institution, the East affirms that this occurs in the Epiclesis. If the East is correct, the 1662 Canon is deficient, having nothing even resembling an Epiclesis. The Scottish and American Canon have something akin to an Epiclesis (if more Wesetrn in thought) in the Invocation, which the East still finds insufficient due to language (the Liturgy of St Tikhon is a good example of an Orthodox solution to this perceived deficiency). Because of the Western--or more precisely Roman--view of the matter, Rome says that the ancient Liturgy of St Addai and St Mari is invalid because it does not contain the words of institution at all. The East, I think, would say it is valid because it contains an Epiclesis, whether or not they still regard the Church of the East (the so-called Nestorian Church) as heretical or not (which of course they do). But Western theologians still insist that the minimum requirement of a valid Eucharist is unfailing use of Christ's Words of Institution.

Since the Liturgy of Addai and Mari is arguably one of the oldest liturgies in use, and the Assyrian Church, cut off from the rest of Christendom has remained almost unchanged through the centuries; and since the Orthodox East, slow to change and mostly uninfluenced by the Roman West; both insist it is the Epiclesis which is important, and not the Words of Institution . . . is this perhaps evidence that the East is correct and the West mistaken at best? What does that say about the validity of the 1662 Canon or those who believe the Words of Institution are sufficient or indeed the single requirement of a valid celebration of Holy Communion?

Just thinking out loud, I suppose.

Alice C. Linsley said...

If one wants to understand the Eastern Orthodox context, the priesthood is perhaps the least informative place to begin (except perhaps among the Jacobites). The ethos of Orthodoxy is most explicit in monasticism. I recommend the book Journey Back to Eden (Orbis Books) by the Catholic Benedictine monk and priest Mark Gruber, who teaches anthropology at St. Vincent College in LaTrobe, PA. Fr. Gruber lived with the Coptic monks for a year in the Sinai. The book provides great insights and makes for enjoyable reading.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

If the East is correct, the 1662 Canon is deficient, having nothing even resembling an Epiclesis.

Not to mention that, on that first Maundy Thursday, this would have made the Lord's own celebration invalid. He forgot the Epiclesis, and probably violated a whole bunch of rubrics too.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Hart, that made me laugh! That is certainly a good point, though it can be argued that, well, Jesus is God, and doesn't need to call down the Holy Spirit (or the angels to take them up to Heaven) to make the elements His True Body and Blood. But you do make a good point.

But if the Words of Institution are necessary for a valid Eucharist, does that mean that, without doubt, the Liturgy of Ss Addai and Mari in its original form--still used by the Church of the East--is an invalid Eucharistic liturgy as Rome judged it until 1994?

Fr. Robert Hart said...

We use the words of Institution and the Epiclesis, following the first ever BCP of 1549 (the 1662 BCP did, in this case, conform to the standard Latin Mass which also had no Epiclesis). Frankly, we see a lot of variation in ancient Eucharistic liturgies, and Dix's The Shape of the Liturgy includes some of them.

I believe that we should learn from Hooker. The Church makes use of Right Reason quite properly in establishing polity and rites. The use of the Words of Institution seems obviously to have come from the words of the Lord ("do this," i.e. doing what he did. He blessed, broke and spoke those words). Even so, to make hard and fast rules about exactly when the change happens is a bit arrogant. God has revealed that we must "do this," and promises to make it real. That is all that has been revealed.

The EO Church does not teach that the Epiclesis is the moment of change. Rather, they insist it must be part of the Liturgy. Considering their animosity to Rome, they probably decided this since it was the only thing they couldn't find in Latin Masses-therefore it was absolutely essential. Remember, with all due respect, these were the same guys who failed to notice the obvious command of St. Paul (I Cor. 5) to use unleavened bread, complete with a symbolic explanation and apostolic authority. Sometimes the anti-western thing goes too far.

Anonymous said...

Pardon me, for I am but a lawyer of little brain and a theologian of no brain at all. It appears that there are some who accuse Rome, on the one hand, and the East, on the other, of manufacturing doctrines, or of adopting each other's doctrines, for the purpose of constructing arguments against something, which, the heretical frolics of the Montanists and Gnostics aside, is an undoubted novelty. Where's the burden of proof here? Why would it be necessary to construct arguments against the ordination of women, when I, for one (theologian of no brain that I am), have yet to read any halfway sensible argument for it?

Anonymous said...

Witt reasons from (1) EO view of the Epiclesis as central in Prayer of Consecration, now widely accepted through Western Christianity, to (2)
EO view of priesthood "in persona ecclesiae," to (3) WO. All this "by implication." Never mind that EO Churches regard WO almost as an abomination. I recall teaching high-schoolers the difference between "imply" and "infer." Witt has evidently not made such a distinction. I have to wonder in what classical theological text or in what theologian of importance does he even find this phrase "in persona ecclesiae"? Did he just make up this phrase himself?

And possibly unrelated, possibly not unrelated, I have wonder what are his views on Infant Baptism? His sacramental theology generally speaking is suspect. But it can be fairly said that he not only belives in WO, he BELIEVES in it.

Osmund Kilrule said...

Witt is right in saying that the priest in Orthodoxy officiates in persona ecclesiae-also the view of Duns Scotus. The priest celebrates the Divine Liturgy because he is allowed so to do by the Bishop who is the father of the local Church and of which the priest is but the servant. That is why the practices of private "Masses" and the like are virtually unknown in the East. The Liturgy is a corporate action of the people of God. We may use the expression, an action of the Church-in-Body, so to speak.I'm sometimes baffled though, at the turn the Roman Church took less than ten years Mystici Corporis Christi. Concerning the azymes, it is clearly said in the Greek New Testament that He took "bread", artos, not unleavened bread, azyme.For the use of leavened bread the Church has received a definite tradition which would be too long and inappropriate to expound here, except to say that the New Leaven of the Spirit has replaced the old leaven of sin which is paul's rightful context in 1 Cor 5.

Canon Tallis said...

James is mistaken. The 1662 canon like that of 1559 before contains an epiclesis. It occurs before our Lord's words of administration. It is certainly not as explicit as those in the Eastern liturgies, but it says the same thing. To quote: "Hear us, O mericful Father, we most humbly beseech thee; and grant that we eceiving these thy creatures of bread and wine, according to thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ's holy institution in remembrance of his death and passion, may be partakers of his most blessed Body and Blood :"

And while the order is a reversal of giving the scriptural authority for an action before performing it, it certainly intends that the actual consecration be performed by God and not the hocus pocus of the priest.

The ninth century version of the Ordo Romanus of St Amand certainly contains an epiclesis which follows our Lord's words of administration and I believe the same can be said for the Liturgy of the Civil Diocese of Africa in st Augustine's time.

What I find strange about the whole discussion (Witt's and not Father Hart's) is that he makes these assertions with out regard for what the historical liturgies actually say.

And again, while my memory may fail me, I believe that Atchley in "Ordo Romano Primus" asserts that in the canon the elements are refered to as bread and wine after our Lord's words but only as body and blood after the epiclesis.

Roman arguments about validity always seem to me to be more about Rome's claim to universal ordinary jurisdiction than a reasoned argument from what the Church Universal has done and accepted in one place or another over the last almost two thousand years.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Gael wrote:

Witt is right in saying that the priest in Orthodoxy officiates in persona ecclesiae-also the view of Duns Scotus.

Here too, Witt would still be wrong by extending the implication to prove a case for WO. Only a man can represent the whole human race in a priestly role, which is why Adam's sin was the Fall, and Christ's obedience our Salvation (by one man- Rom.5)

Concerning the azymes, it is clearly said in the Greek New Testament that He took "bread", artos, not unleavened bread...

ἄρτος does not have to contain leaven, and we find the word used for the unleavened bread of Passover in the LXX and the NT. It is simply unleavened ἄρτος, i.e. unleavened bread. The same word is used to speak of manna. ἄζυμος is a kind of ἄρτος, without leaven.

St. Paul's exact words (translated) are "Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread (ἄζυμος) of sincerity and truth."

"Unleavend bread" is quite clear. This is what the Lord used, because it was the passover.

Canon Tallis wrote:

Roman arguments about validity always seem to me to be more about Rome's claim to universal ordinary jurisdiction than a reasoned argument from what the Church Universal has done and accepted in one place or another over the last almost two thousand years.

That is true. It is equally true that some EO arguments are due to the same obsession, only in reverse. This is why Anglicans need to stop overestimating developed doctrines of the two One True Churches. We yield to tradition and antiquity. Without antiquity and scripture nothing is a genuine dogma.

William Tighe said...

Canon Tallis would do well to read the essay by the English academic liturgist and Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, E. C. Ratcliff (1896-1967) on "The Anglican Usage of Eucharistic Consecration" reprinted in *Liturgical Studies by E. C. Ratcliff* ed. D. H. Tripp (London, 1976: SPCK). There Ratcliff demonstrates that down to the early 18th Century no Anglican writer held "Hear us, o Merciful Father ..." (etc.) to be a consecratory epiclesis (Charles Wheatley was the first to do so), but rather that the divines as diverse as Jewel, Hooker, Andrewes and Laud held the consecration to be effected by recital of the Words of Institution through the operation of the Holy Spirit; and that in this they followed the dominant and conventional Medieval Western view, however much they may have differed from that view as regards the nature (or "explanation") of the Eucharistic Presence or of the Eucharistic Sacrifice (if any sacrifice at all).

Ratcliff came to these views after a lifetime of study, and as a somewhat Eastward-leaning Anglo-Catholic who was preparing to leave the Church of England and become Orthodox (as Tripp, his student, writes in the book's introduction) at the time of his sudden death.

Anonymous said...

Canon Tallis, The 1662 contains something akin to an Epiclesis, but the Oblation of 1662 and the Scottish/American Communion office is not as akin to an Epiclesis as the Invocation in the Scottish/American Canon, which is what St. Tikhon and other Russian liturgists took for a "weak Epiclesis" and not the wording of the Oblation. Of course, that is almost splitting hairs, but there it is.

When the change occurs is of course not as important as the fact that it does indeed occur. Later exposure of the Orthodox to Roman scholasticism has influenced the East to an extent, and as Fr. Hart implies, modern EO attepmts at scholastic explanation--very unlike Orthodoxy--is reactionary in many cases, particularly when it is intended to debunk a Roman point of view.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

they followed the dominant and conventional Medieval Western view, however much they may have differed from that view as regards the nature (or "explanation") of the Eucharistic Presence or of the Eucharistic Sacrifice (if any sacrifice at all).

We have demonstrated before that the English reformers did not reject Eucharistic sacrifice, but rather a specific definition that had prevailed in the popular mind.

From the post Friday, July 11, 2008:
A full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction

Writing in 1624, speaking for the Anglican position, a Church of England priest named William Bedell wrote about Eucharistic Sacrifice:

"[If by it you mean] a memory and representation of the true Sacrifice and holy immolation made on the altar of the cross...we do offer the sacrifice for the quick and the dead, by which all their sins are meritoriously expiated, and desiring that by the same, we and all the Church may obtain remission of sins, and all other benefits of Christ's Passion."

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Also, in that post it is useful to scroll down to Fr.Kirby's comment.

Canon Tallis said...

Dr Tighe may quote Ratcliff and other English writers as much as he likes, but those who constructed the canon of 1559 and 1662 had ancient models before them and put in what they believed to be essential. What other later writers thought of what they did may have been and probably was more affected by what the Roman writers of their own time believed than what was in either the English or the Gregorian Canon. It is what is in the liturgy that counts. Since I began reading both the English and the classic Orthodox theologians in my teens I look for what is there in the liturgy and less for what single or many theologians have written about it at any time. They like we are frequently constrained by the views of their contemporaries and those who just preceded them. Plus, university positions in England as well as the United States are only too frequently dependent upon ones political connections and views rather than the quality of one's scholarship, pardon me if I remain unimpressed. And since the liturgy as well as the classic Anglican theologians assert both the presence and the sacrifice, are you suggesting that they did not mean what they said or that they simply did not understand what their words implied?

I can understand Tikhon's point of view, but it and that of the other Russian liturgists was as culturally conditioned as anyone of their generation. The language of the Russian and other orthodox liturgies represents their inheritance from Byzantium which while English churchmen of the age of Henry and Elizabeth would have understood, they would never have used simply because of the cultural divide. I know a good deal of that because I had the misfortune of discovering that in spite of my heritage and ancestry, I was simply never going to be Russian enough to be Orthodox. It doesn't, split hairs or otherwise, invalidate the intention of the writer or the liturgy. One of the advantages of Anglicanism is that it is much more appreciative of the positive virtues of other traditions and rarely feels the need to denigrate them.

Anonymous said...

I think that a small comment on SFIF is in order here. I am inclined to think that SFIF so-called censorship concerns the fact that they for good or ill, have largely put the topic of women’s ordination off the table on their blog. This appears to be a way to keep the discussion on the issues which they feel are most important.

We have many Continuing Bishops who are now working with, albeit not in communion with, Common Cause Bishops, who do ordain women as priests. That the idea of women as priests is something that can be set aside to a great degree in order to work together on other issues, I understand is a hard position for some to understand. I know my Bishop is working with Common Cause and is to a degree putting the disagreement on women as priests on the back burner.

poetreader said...

I seem to see a problem that creeps its way into most discussions of liturgical and sacramental theology. I think to the detriment of a real historic or theological understanding. I'd call it a minimalist approach, i.e. a question of how little we can do and still have it "work", rather than of how we can best express the scriptural and traditional understanding of what is actually being done. There is a pretty precise pattern of the anaphora/canon/prayer-of-consecration, developed over time, yet manifest quite early (albeit with variations). One finds the preface and sanctus, as a conscious joining with celestial worship, the institution narrative, references (both before and after the institution) to sacrifice, the anamnesis (specific remembrance of His passion and death), and invocation (whether of the Eastern 'descending' call for the Holy Spirit's action or the Western ascending plea that this become identical to what is going on in Heaven). This basic structure is so nearly universal that anything less. though it may be "valid" is in one respect or another inadequate.

There are two classic liturgies that give me pause on these grounds. There is the ancient East Syrian Liturgy of SS Adai & Mari which lacks the institution narrative, and there is the much more recent 1662 which lacks everything after the Institution. Both are at a far enough remove from the developed 'catholic' form of the anaphora that both need repairs -- probably not to make them 'valid', but certainly to bring them to express more fully just what this mystery is.


Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed the exchanges between Dr Tighe and Canon Tallis about the "epiclesis" in the 1559 and 1662 Prayer Books, actually originating in the 1552 book It is hard for my dull mind to grasp how a petition which does not even mention the Holy Ghost can be called an "invocation." Here it is:

"Hear us, O merciful Father, we beseech thee, and grant that we receiving these thy creatures of bread and wine, according to thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ's holy institution, in remembrance of his death and passion, may be partakers of his most blssed Bosdy and Blood: who in the same night...."

I wish we could somehow recover both the words and position of the real epiclesis in the 1549 book:

"Hear us, O merciful Faher, we beseech thee, and with thy Holy Spirit and Word, vouchsafe to bless (+) and sanctify (+) these thy gifts and creatures of bread and wine, that they may be unto us the body and blood of thy most dearly beloved Son, Jesus Christ, who in the same night...."

While this invokes the Spirit (which the Gregorian Canon failed to do), this was placed in the same position as the Quam oblationem prayer from that Canon.
With a master-stroke, Cranmer deftly resolved the old fruitless debate as to whether Consecration is by Epiclesis or Dominical Words.
The Scottish Liturgy of 1637 (and its derivatives like our American 1928) would have done better to return to the 1549 arrangement, rather than have a weak imitation of the Eastern Epiclesis.

Osmund Kilrule said...

Developed Doctrines...we know of no such theory in the East. Tradition, as you might well know, is one whole body so to speak,that includes every aspect of ecclesial life under the constant inspiration of the Holy Ghost.That is why we hold that the use of leaven bread is of Authority. That is why also we do not disregard the sacramentalia as an inferior or secondary type of sacrament. But this is not the issue here. If we take the Orthodox view that Rome has fallen away, then, whatever "development" of the roman praxis and theology is outside the Tradition. The idea that the priest officiates in persona christi may be said to have taken hold in the West with the abrupt clericalisation of the 9-10-11th centuries in the midst of the controversies around the meaning of the Mysteries-Holy Sacrament-coinciding with the edification of the tomfool papal claims based on spurious documents and with the formal prohibition of clerical marriage in the West.A consolidation of the priest's standing. The words "Hang igitur oblationem servitutis nostrae, sed et cunctae familiae tuae" These words most problably dating from the time of Gregory the Dialogist or Great sufficiently attest to the antiquity of the notion of officiating in persona ecclesiae. Now, regarding the roman argument against the pretended priestesses based on the persona christi explanation it is most un-Traditional as much as the very idea of priestess is un-Traditional, that is without the seal of the authority of the Church-in-Spirit. Traditional Anglicans should beware not to fall into the Roman semblance of tradition.

Fr. Robert Hart said...


Thank you for reading and commenting.

Developed Doctrines...we know of no such theory in the East.

As well you shouldn't. The theory is flawed (i.e., Newman's). But, this does not mean that I can ignore St.Paul's command to use ἄζυμος, or the fact that the unleavened bread of Passover was usually rendered as ἄρτος. Nor can I ignore the history of that whole east-west debate. This was, however, taken to be of much too much importance, and actually led to the 1054 schism (not Filioque, or any other disagreement), so I won't comment on it anymore.

Now, regarding the roman argument against the pretended priestesses based on the persona christi explanation it is most un-Traditional as much as the very idea of priestess is un-Traditional, that is without the seal of the authority of the Church-in-Spirit. Traditional Anglicans should beware not to fall into the Roman semblance of tradition.

How do you see in persona Christi as different from "the icon of Christ?" Is there not an organic relation between these two expressions?

Fr William Bauer said...

If Esolen wrote a comment, believe it.

Osmund Kilrule said...

Because persona and eikon do not have the same meaning whether semantically or theologically.They cannot be equated. We know to what difficulties the use of the persona has lent itself to. When the priest is said to be the eikon of Christ, that does not mean that he is im-Personating Christ-Do this in remembrance of Me-is not a question of impersonification-the Priest performs anew what Christ did(or does, as a perpetual offering)not because he is imitating Christ or taking His stead-rather, acting as a proxy: Christ offers the Sacrifice again through His Church, by His Church, for His Church(or for some for the whole Universe, if one would not minimise the mysteries of our redemption)to the Father. If indeed, the Priest acted in persona Christi there would be no need for this magnificent expression of the Roman Anaphora: Supplices te rogamus, omnipotens Deus: iube haec preferri per manus sancti Angeli tui in sublime altare tuum, in conspectu maiestatis tuae... Before saying these words the priest inclines himself profoundly before kissing the altar. Now, if indeed he was officiating purely in persona Christi(which for me is strictly limited to the utterance Words of the Institutions, if something must be conceded)what would be the need for this intermediate function of an angel. If, indeed, the Priest is fully vested in Christic character, it would have been no question of sancti Angeli tui, nor of sublime altare tuum, nor of conspectu divinae maiestatis tuae. For the perfect Mediator would be present as well as the sublime altar, and all this in the actual glorious presence of God. But we won't bandy words, lest we fall in the subtle definitions and hair splittings of the defunct Schoolmen who would have calculated whether indeed Christ feels the effect of the continual manducation of the faithful, or something like that, in Erasmus Enconium. And pray don't tell me that this expression of the Roman Canon was written just for sake of poetical embellishment and flourish. To be the image of Christ is first and foremost for the priest to love those around him annd even beyond.This sacrament has been too often reduced to a technicality in the West. In persona ecclesiae, because a priest cannot, should not and must not celebrate the Holy Mysteries alone. The one Sacrifice agreeable to God is not offered by a single one, in which case, to justify the practice, the absoluteness of the persona Christi was advocated and taught. The Church is the Body of Christ, it is the Church as a whole that acts, worships and preaches in persona Christi. In persona Ecclesiae, then and only= In Persona Christi. I know i havent't expresssed myself clearly in the previous post and the foregoing lines- pray accept my apologies.

Osmund Kilrule said...

Reverend Sir,

Thank you for heeding my posts.

Of course, those who, outside of Tradition, claim to celebrate and administrate in persona ecclesiae only, as the option so to do in persona Christi would pose certain vital problems(!), are resorting to an ungrounded, fallacious, and devious reasoning. My only objections were that as long as an act is truly Ecclesial,it is also Christic. Idealism would help a lot in explaining that but we risk to lose something in the process. The Roman Church's clericalist emphasis on in Persona Christi, was what led to abuse.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

...the Priest performs anew what Christ did(or does, as a perpetual offering)not because he is imitating Christ or taking His stead-rather, acting as a proxy...

It seems to me that this was the idea, only with this addition: The priesthood itself is Christ's own, and ordained men share it (and, only with them, so does the Church). That is why I still see a connection between the two ideas (in persona and icon), not in the expressions, but in their practical meaning.

Christ offers the Sacrifice again through His Church, by His Church, for His Church...

We would not say "again." The one sacrifice of Christ is perpetuated by an offering of the Church, for God is not bound or limited by time (offering and sacrifice are words that apply as much to worship itself as to presenting). When we celebrate the Holy Communion (the preferred Anglican term for the same service) we are in a time and place, but just as truly we are at the Supper on the first Maundy Thursday, and we are at the cross, and we are in the presence of the Risen Lord. Time and geography give way to this multi-layered reality that transcends time and space. So, we never say that the sacrifice is made "again."

My only objections were that as long as an act is truly Ecclesial, it is also Christic.

That is exactly right (and it takes the wind out of Dr. Witt's sails). The Church is the Body of Christ, and as such continues his Incarnation in the midst of fallen mankind.

William Tighe said...

"iube haec preferri per manus sancti Angeli tui in sublime altare tuum"

And what "angel" is this, other than the the "Great Angel," the "angelos megales boules," Christ Himself -- who does this through the bishop (or the priest, his deputy), who is clothed in His priesthood? So we still (if we are exegeting the Roman Canon) in persona Christi.

Duke said...

I have nothing scholarly to say. I'm just a dumb commuity college student, but I would like to say that I wish you guys would join the Antiochians WRV so that I could have a more local Western rite parish to attend! :)

Osmund Kilrule said...

Indeed, Christ the Sacrificer and the Sacrified. The dynamic Communion of Heaven and earth. Which implies the living acceptance of the whole of the Depositum Fidei. Synergic and dynamic. There can be no grace,no genuine ecclesial life there where a single jot or tittle of this Depositum Fidei is flouted,unheeded and mocked. Therefore, the pretended priestesses and bishopesses, who are in fact the instruments of some power,are outside the one living Ecclesial Tradition, grounded on the Word of God and the Life of the Church-in-Spirit. Anathema sint. Lord have mercy on us.

William Tighe said...

I will try today to photocopy and send to Fr. Hart a copy of the article by Ratcliff which I mentioned. He may then, if he wishes, send a copy to Canon Tallis.

Ratcliff's article is far from being a mere piece of assertion, but provides full documentation for his contentions, one of which is that there is no real evidence that Cranmer derived any significant ideas from his rather spotty knowledge of Eastern liturgies, but, rather, that what may at first sight appear eastern is in fact standard western medieval boilerplate.

Antonio said...

Fr. Hart:

"Not to mention that, on that first Maundy Thursday, this would have made the Lord's own celebration invalid. He forgot the Epiclesis, and probably violated a whole bunch of rubrics too".

I haven't read all the comments after this one, but this is just wonderful.
I just wanted to let you know that I'm probably going to use it many times. ;.)
Thanks a lot.

Carlos said...

Indeed Pauline Disciple,

Though the situation concerning the growth and even continuation of the Western Rite is hazy. Some of the parishes have fractured since they first started. While I would love to see a flowering of this liturgy, I'm not sure the Orthodox themselves do.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Bill Tighe wrote:

...but, rather, that what may at first sight appear eastern is in fact standard western medieval boilerplate.

Indeed, this is true. The influence of Orthodoxy waited for Lancelot Andrewes to come along. Cranmer or some researcher working for him, was a scholar of many past western liturgies, going back to earlier times when there would have been more in common with the east. Almost everything (probably everything) thought to be original in the BCP was a translation from some older Latin liturgy.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

The supposed distinction between the priest acting in persona christi and in persona ecclesiae seems to miss an essential point: Since the priests acts as an image or representative of Christ's authority, that of the Chief Pastor, High Priest and One Teacher, he thus also represents Him in his role as Head of the Body (i.e., Church) and Bridegroom of the Bride (Church). In other words, a priest is a representative of the Church toward God precisely because he shares in some sense Christ's priestly leadership role as the one who presents us to the Father and gathers up our prayer with His mediatorial intercession of presence (Romans 15.16, Heb. 9.24b, 10.19f, 13.15). A priest represents and leads the church's offering of worship in the same way the male head of a household does in the Biblical concept of family, a way that has been glorified further by what Christ has done. In Biblical anthropology, such federal headship is intrinsically male, whether we are looking at Adam compared to Eve and their descendants or Christ and the Church.

As for a supposed distinction between Eastern and Western teachings on the priest's role and symbolic identity, I submit the following quotations. From St John of Kronstadt: "Priest, you are the representative of the faith and of the Church, you are the representative of the Lord Jesus Christ himself." "In the sacraments everything is accomplished through the grace of the priesthood, with which the priest is invested, for the sake of the great High Priest himself ... whose image the priest bears." As for the early Fathers, St Cyprian said: "The priest truly takes the place of Christ as he reproduces that which Christ did before him." The Roman Catholic theologian, Blessed Columba Marmion, said: "priesthood ... is th reflection of the priesthood of Christ". And there is no denying that the RCC teaches that Christ is the true and ultimate consecrator at the Eucharist.

The teaching is one.

poetreader said...

Liturgy demonstrates clearly that the priest has a dual role at the altar.

For one thing the priest speaks the words of Christ and enacts the actions of Christ, and it is Christ's action in and through him at the altar that brings the Sacrifice to us and us to the Sacrifice. He is, in this moment and by this action alter christus, or the icon of Christ.

In the Western rites, he then immediatelly genuflects (or bows profoundly) in worship and adoration, as representative and leader of the worshiping church.

He breaks the consecrated Bread, as did our Lord, acting for Him, and immediately eats and drinks as a member of the Church, then acting once again as christ in distrubuting the Body and Blood.

The role is emphatically not one thing or the other, but both inextricably together, as united and as distinct as the very dual nature of Christ.


Anonymous said...

Regarding the "validity" of the Liturgy of Addai and Mari in the eyes of the Catholic Church, for the past several years at least, the Chaldean Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East have been sharing "communicatio in sacris"--not exactly full ecclesial communion, but Eucharistic sharing among the laity of both Churches. The Chaldean Catholic Church now celebrates the Liturgy of Addai and Mari without the insertion of the Institution Narrative, which Rome now concedes it never included. The scholariship of Father Robert F. Taft SJ was instrumental in bringing about this historic rapprochement, which goes far towards the tearing down of artificial (and erroneous) barriers to Eucharistic communion.

In the same spirit, one would hope that the Orthodox Church would remove the explicit epiclesis that was inserted into the Roman Canon as used in Western Rite Orthodoxy's "Rite of St. Gregory" (based on the Tridentine Mass). Because of its antiquity, and the isolation of Rome from the pneumatological controversies of the 5th century, the Old Roman Canon never had an explicit epiclesis, the invocation of the Holy Spirit being distributed throughout the entire Eucharistic Prayer.