18 June 2010

rejecting communicants

Monday during the Octave of Corpus Christi: the (EF) fifth reading at Mattins, had a passage from S John Chrysostom (I have a splendid stained glass window of him in S Thomas's, claerly done by someone who knew how Byzantine bishops dress ... and even how they join their fingers when blessing).

Let no inhumane, cruel, unmerciful, or unclean person come near [to the Altar]. I say these things to communicants, and to you, who administer. For it is necessary to turn my discourse to you also, so that with great care you may distribute these Gifts. Not a small punishment threatens you, if you grant anyone, while aware of his sin, to be a sharer in this table; his blood will be required at your hands. So if someone who is a military leader, or a Prefect, or an Emperor crowned with a diadem, should approach unworthily, forbid him: you have greater power than him. That is why God marked you with this honour, that you might discern such matters. This is your dignity, your safety, this is your entire crown; not that you should go around dressed in a white and shining tunic.

A few years ago, when I was writing a piece on the 'Apostle' Junia, I had occasion to read in detail the entire passage in his commentary on Romans 16 where Chrysostom speaks about the women there mentioned with such praise by S Paul. As I read about Prisc(ill)a, it became clear to me that Chrysostom is quite simply using her as an opportunity to have a bash at the Imperial House: he compares the humble tentmaker with imperial women who go around dressed like tarts (I believe the American slang term is hookers). I wonder if the passage above is also part of the same campaign ... which, of course, led to Chysostom being driven to a martyr's death.

More to the point, I wonder what will be said to me on Judgement Day about the matter Chrysostom here discusses. Will my barrister, on that occasion, be able to defend me by pointing out that my laxity in distributing the Sacramentis should be jotted down, not to my account, but to the account of the people who made the canonical dispositions which govern my conduct?


Anonymous said...

Egad! Just don't tell me you communicated Dawkins!

Joshua said...

No doubt you inculcate the duty of auricular confession of all mortal sins by kind and number.