17 June 2010

Question 4

Verbum supernum prodiens; how does the third stanza of S Thomas's great hymn fit in with the previous questions posed?


Jesse said...

Father, I hope you won’t mind a four-parter post as I try to catch up on your very diverting summer examination!

Question 1

This is Paschasius Radbertus, De corpore et sanguini Domini, xi. 2 (PL 120, 1309): “Nam tria sunt quae testimonium dant quod Christus est veritas: spiritus, sanguis et aqua, nimirum quia postquam emisit Spiritum de fonte pectoris sui contra naturam manavit felix unda baptismi, et sanguis redemptionis, quibus non nisi unum salutis opus mystice consecratur, ut corpuset anima ac spiritus integer ad vitam in Christo servetur. Ubi nemo dubitat quod et caro nostra et hoc reparetur ad vitam; quia totus homo redimitur. Caro quidem carne pascitur spiritaliter, quia Verbum caro factum est; anima vero Christi sanguine reparatur. Omnis itaque anima, teste Scriptura, in sanguine est, ut ubi habet in corpore sedem, et per quem ipsa, ut aiunt, vivificat corpus, inde a Christo et ipsa habeat vitam aeternam in se manentem.”

We’re going to be looking at the BCP Prayer of Humble Access and words of administration.

G. Dix, The Shape of the Liturgy, p. 644: [In the 1548 Order of Communion] "After [the Prayer of Humble Access] comes the communion of the people with the forms: 'The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ ... preserve thy body unto everlasting life', 'The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ ... preserve thy soul unto everlasting life', reflecting the mediaeval speculation that the bread is for the communicant's body and the chalice for his soul, also found in the Prayer of Humble Access."

Ibid., p. 611 n. 1: "The nearest [the Puritans] come to [an objection to the Prayer Book's eucharistic doctrine] is on the 'Prayer of Humble Access', in which the clause 'that our sinful bodies may be made clean by His Body and our souls washed through His most precious Bloo' moved them to the objection that 'these words seem to give a greater efficacy to the Blood than to the Body of Christ'. This is reasonable. The idea that the sacrament was instituted under both kinds, the Body for our bodies and the Blood for our souls, though it is grounded upon no warrant of holy scripture, is a fairly common speculation among medieval theologians (cf. e.g. Paschasius Radbert, de Corp. et Sang. Dni. 11; S. Thomas Aq., S. Th., III, lxxiv, 1, etc.). Cranmer held strongly to this notion (cf. p. 644). But there is no particular reason why people should be made to pray mediaeval speculations in a Reformed church."

The first source cited by Dix (Pasch. Radb.) was the passage that you so kindly translated for us.

Jesse said...

Question 2

The Prayer of Humble Access was recited, kneeling, before reception of communion, but after the consecration.

Dix, p. 658 n. 1: “It is to be remembered that there was no kneeling by the priest in the mediaeval rite at this point [i.e. immediately before reception]. It would be all the more striking, therefore, as an innovation in 1549, and lend itself to this misunderstanding.”

Jesse said...

Question 3

Good old Bishop Gardiner.

Dix, pp. 657-8: “Gardiner felt able to cite these three passages [in 1549: 2 in the canon, 1 in the P of H A], together with the words / of administration and the kneeling recitation of the prayer of humble access before communion (as implying adoration) as setting forth the teaching ‘that they receive with their bodily mouth the Body and Blood of Christ.’ Cranmer retorted sharply that any such suggestion was ‘a plain untruth’.”

Part a: change of position

Dix, p. 663: “After [the traditional dialogue Sursum corda] follows the prayer of humble access said kneeling. In its present position this comes between the preface ... and the consecration. It seems to have been transferred to this point, before the consecration, in order to prove unmistakeably that Gardiners inference from its 1549 position (said kneeling before the communion) as betokening some connection between the consecrated elements and the Body and Blood of Christ, was unjustified.” .... [p. 664] Placed before the consecration, this prayer is meant to serve as a safeguard against any traditional ideas as to the force or meaning of consecration.”

Part b: change of words

Dix, p. 657: “There are in 1549 only three phrases which are difficult to interpret fairly along the lines of Cranmer’s teaching in the Defence: (1) In the canon, before the institution: ‘Hear us, O merciful Father, we beseech Thee, and with Thy Holy Spirit and Word vouchsafe to bless and sanctify these Thy gifts and creatures that they may be unto us the Body and Blood of Thy most dearly beloved Son ...’ (2) Also in the canon: ‘humbly beseeching Thee that whosoever shall be partakers of this holy communion may worthily receive the most precious Body and Blood of Thy Son and be fulfilled with Thy grace and heavenly benediction, and made one Body with Thy Son Jesus Christ, that He may dwell in them and they in Him.’ (3) In the prayer of humble access, immediately before communion: ‘Grant us ... so to eat the flesh of Thy dear Son Jesus Christ and to drink His blood in these holy mysteries that we may continually dwell in Him.’”

Dix, p. 658: “[Cranmer] was evidently startled to find how completely the rite had been misinterpreted in a catholic sense, and in 1552 took pains to alter every point in 1549 to which Gardiner had appealed.”

So, item (1), changed to the familiar form. Item (2) reworded and tranferred to a thanksgiving after communion. Item (3), italicized words deleted. And see Dix pp. 666-7 for various other word changes.

Jesse said...

Question 4

Verbum supernum prodiens, verse 3:

Quibus sub bina specie / Carnem dedit et sanguinem; / Ut duplicis substantiae / Totum cibaret hominem.

("In twofold form of sacrament / He gave his Flesh, he gave his Blood, / That man, of twofold substance blent, / Might wholly feed on mystic food." English Hymnal, no. 330.)

We here resume the idea of the sacrament under two kinds (bread and wine, Body and Blood) being related to, appropriate for, applied to, the twofold composition of human beings (body and soul) – although Aquinas is rather more subtle, seeing that he speaks of a “double form” and of “the whole man”. The Anglican inheritance here is a paradox. Cranmer’s reformed liturgy, in Dix’s plausible interpretation of it, is designed expressly to refute any connection between the bread and wine consumed in the eucharist and the Body and Blood of Christ. And yet our reformers strenuously insisted that the faithful should never be denied both species when they communicated, and Cranmer made intrinsic to his liturgy the medieval speculation that the Body of Christ acts on our bodies and that the Blood of Christ acts on our souls. As Dix points out (pp. 656-7), the total effect of Cranmer’s changes was to take the pious devotions of non-communicating lay faithful in the medieval liturgy and to make that, not the Eucharistic Action itself, the central purpose of the rite.

Perhaps what we take away from this is that the Anglican liturgical inheritance, notwithstanding the patristic teaching of the seventeenth-century divines, is fundamentally medieval (in its errors and its truths). And this is no bad thing. After all, as then-Cardinal Ratzinger put it, “mistrust is always in order when a large part of the liv ing history has to be thrown onto the garbage dump of discarded misunder standings. This is all the more true for the Christian liturgy, which lives from the continuity and inner unity of the history of religious prayer.” (See http://ceciliaschola.org/notes/benedictonmusic.html#Is_a_Choral_Sanctus_Permitted) Of course, as Anglicans, we must admit that this rather cuts both ways!

How am I doing so far?

Joshua said...

Bravo, Jesse, bravo!

That would be a High Distinction for him, Fr H.?