I love the ancient Western Preface for the Ascension, preserved (although with an alternative) in the New Rite. One reason for my affection is the teaching that, through the Lord's Ascension, we may become Partakers of His Divine Nature. Because that, of course, is a preoccupation that sets us at one with Byzantine Christianity, and not least with the Hesychast Tradition. ( Shall I live to see a Sovereign Pontiff proclaim S Gregory Palamas a Doctor of the Universal Church?) Both lungs here breathe a harmonious doctrine.
Dr Cranmer couldn't take this heady dose of participatory Christianity; he replaced it with an aspiration that we might also zoom up into the clouds (a bit of a dash of Rapture here?). Call me a dangerous modernist if you like, but I don't actually seek out over-literal images of a three-decker Universe in Liturgy, particularly not when the classical Roman texts prefer a greater sophistication.
Old ICEL toned these words of the Preface down to 'sharing in the divine life'. Does anyone know what the New ICEL drafts have?
25 May 2009
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