29 November 2016

In the Ordinariate Ordo Missae authorised by the Holy See, there is a very interesting Prayer taken from the Book of Common Prayer: called the 'Prayer of Humble Access' (We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies.). It begins with a paraphrase of the 'Ambrosian Prayer' given in your S Pius V Missals for use by the celebrant before Mass: Ad mensam dulcissimi convivii tui, pie Domine Iesu Christe, ego peccator de propriis meis meritis nihil praesumens, sed de tua confidens misericordia et bonitate, accedere vereor et contremisco.

Just before its end, the Anglican Prayer reads as follows: Grant us therefore gracious Lord, so to eat the Flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his Blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his Body, and our souls washed through his most precious Blood, and that we may ever more dwell in him, and he in us.

This association of the Lord's Body with the needs of our bodies, and of his Blood with the needs of our souls, is a medieval idea going back to an unknown writer whose works were mixed up with those of S Ambrose, so that he is for convenience known as Ambrosiaster. S Thomas Aquinas, who in the Summa (III, lxxiv, 1) teaches this distinction (as had that enthusiastic Carolingian upholder of the Real Presence, S Paschasius Radbertus), quotes it as from S Ambrose; and I think it is clearly what the Angelic Doctor had in mind when he wrote the third stanza of his Verbum supernum prodiens; I give a literal translation: To whom [i.e.the disciples] He gave flesh and blood under twofold appearance that He might feed the whole Man of double substance. That is to say, He gave himself in the two species so that He might feed the entirety of Man who is composed, doubly, of both body and soul.

In his first (1548) liturgical experiment in the Eucharistic Liturgy, Cranmer carried this Thomistic distinction even into the formulae for Communion: The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ .... preserve thy body ... and The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ ... preserve thy soul .... After a year he gave this distinction up.

Successive generations of Anglican liturgists have been nervous about the conclusion of the Prayer of Humble Access with its Thomist, non-Biblical distinction between the effect of the Body upon our bodies and of the Blood upon our souls; Dix cattily remarked "there is no particular reason why people should be made to pray medieval speculations in a Reformed church"*. The Puritans asked for its removal in the abortive negotiations which followed 1660; it has been eliminated from many modern Anglican rites including the American Prayer Book upon which the old (Anglican Use) Book of Divine Worship was based. So its happy re-appearance in the Ordinariate Ordo Missae is a significant bit of Magisterium. Delightfully distinctive! To paraphrase the catch-phrase of GloriaTV, The more distinctive the better!

Lex orandi lex credendi. Yes? The Ordinariates even have distinctive doctrine!

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*One of his favourite themes - it never ceased to amuse him - was that sixteenth century Protestant liturgical compositions, far from being (as their authors had fondly supposed) 'Biblical' or 'Primitive', were in fact Late Medieval in both thought and expression. Indeed, the whole Prayer of Humble Access exemplifies a very Dixian point: it takes inspiration from a medieval private priest's prayer and makes it part of the public Liturgy. The great classical Western liturgical texts would be very unlikely to have the priest, saying publicly and 'in the name of the people,' a prayer with phrases like "We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy".


12 comments:

Joshua said...

Didn't some divine observe – Dix mentions it somewhere – that this formula seems to attribute more efficacy to the Blood than to the Body?

Pastor in Valle said...

The Sarum formula for the administration of Communion goes: Corpus DNJC custodiat corpus tuum et animam tuam in vitam aeternam. Amen.

Patruus said...

In the 1560 and 1662 Latin editions of the BCP, the above-quoted passage takes the forms, respectively:

"Concede igitur, misericors Domine, ut sic edamus Carnem Filii tui, et bibamus ejus Sanguinem in his Sacris Mysteriis, ut nostra corpora peccatis inquinata munda fiant perceptione Sacratissimi Corporis sui, et nostrae animae laventur in Praecioso Sanguine suo . . ."

"Tribuas igitur nobis, benigne Domine, Carnem dilecti Filii tui Jesu Christi ita manducare, et Sanguinem ejus bibere, ut corpora nostra immunda per Corpus ejus mundentur, et animae per pretiosissimum ejus Sanguinem laventur . . ."

Sources: http://tinyurl.com/p9of2tc & http://tinyurl.com/qyrvy5p

William Tighe said...

"Joshua: it was the Puritans in 1660."

At the Savoy Conference, I think.

JMO (Michael) Vyse said...

Not all the modern Anglican Rites dislike the Thomist ending: "Common Worship" (even Order One) has it re-instated.
I like your and Dix's observation that mnuch Reformed worship is a re-hash of late-mediaeval piety: Dix also comments that the Protestant service with the Minister in sole charge is a straight continuation of the late-mediaeval Low Mass idea with the priest in sole charge.

Joshua said...

But of course the Protestant service was shortened in order to provide space for a long sermon... I recall in Augsburg that many of the churches had preaching halls attached, where doubtless good friars delivered extraliturgical sermons: at the Reformation, half the Augsburgers went Protestant, so the city fathers decided to give the preaching halls to them, while the Catholics kept the churches themselves, with the result that the Lutheran churches are right next to the Catholic ones.

But back to the the topic at hand: what did Luther make of this nice bit of speculation?

I do recall that the "sacred monster of Thomism", Garrigou-Lagrange, wrote that receiving from the chalice was indeed more efficacius, and why? because the reception of the Body ipso facto remitted all venial sins repented of, thus leaving the soul all cleansed and ready to profit all the more from receiving the Blood in a more perfect state of grace. He added that the desire to thus profit more from receiving both Species was a sufficient motive for desiring to become a priest!

Joshua said...

Recently, I walked on pilgrimage through Gippsland, and was privileged to attend the Ordinariate Mass two days in succession, at Cowwarr and Maffra; the Mass was said ad orientem, with Roman Canon, and - but for the use of the OF Lectionary - I recognised it, and felt very comfortable with it, as essentially an EF Low Mass said in early modern English, with a few nice variants, including of course the Prayer of Humble Access. Fr Ken mentioned that several Catholics who come to his Masses have been so taken with this prayer that they have requested copies, which they say privately when attending ordinary Roman Rite Masses.

Woody said...

If memory serves, the Prayer of Humble Access is now included in the latest CTS prayer book, as a separate prayer.

Jonathan Dandridge said...

In the US, back in my Episcopal Church days I recall the prayer of humble access was included in Rite I (the traditional Cranmerian order of worship) but missing from Rite II (the modern Novus Ordo inspired). That was 20 years ago and I no longer can find my copy of the BCP to look it up so I don't know if this is current practice in ECUSA or whatever they call themselves these days.

Timothy Graham said...

I haven't come across any direct discussion of the reasons for the distinction between Body and Blood in late antiquity / middle ages, but the following tentative suggestion about its origin is an extrapolation from the physiology of the period. In Galen's theory of spirits the blood is saturated with the vital spirit/breath or pneuma in the heart, breathed in through the lungs, before it is transformed and sublimated into thought and act in the brain. This might be the origin of the idea that the Blood, carrier of Christ's vital spirit, is the vehicle of cleansing of the will and psyche, while the Body purifies the body that it nourishes. In our modern materialist science this doesn't seem like a very plausible distinction, but then our modern materialist theory has serious limitations particularly when it comes to comes to what they used to call spirit or pneuma.

Belfry Bat said...

... then should we be just a tad more Byzantine, adapting their spoons to the needs of Latin places?

Thomas said...

Perhaps you will permit a couple of rather hazy observations on this topic. Perhaps there is a link between the thought that the Blood of Christ particularly touches our spirits and the Old Testament view that "the life is in the blood". And with regard to our bodies actually being nourished by the Body of the Lord; surely the New Testament, St. Paul in particular I think, makes a connection between receiving the Risen Body of The Lord and the resurrection of our own bodies?

I was always struck, even when young, by the Penny Catechism teaching that the image and likeness of God is "chiefly" in my soul. So not exclusively then, and my body too bears some remote image of His Majesty? If so, that could only be because we are made for union with God in Christ and his Flesh is the exemplar and custodian of our flesh as well as our spirits, and therefore he is also the 'Nourisher' as well as the Healer and Redeemer of both into eternal life.