[Europe.justus] On the common cup
bppwhalon at aol.com
Fri Jun 12 07:27:32 GMT 2009
A meditation by the Rev. Stephen Gerth, Rector of St Mary the Virgin,
Début du message réexpédié :
> I thought you might find this of interest, historically and
> It is from Stephen Gerth, the Recor at St Mary the Virgin.
> From the Rector: One Body, One Cup
> The first time I attended a service in an Episcopal parish church
> was sometime during my teenage years. I was there with friends and,
> frankly, I don't remember much. But I do remember how everyone
> received communion. They were drinking from the same cup. In the
> Southern Baptist congregations in which I was brought up, we drank
> from individual cups. In my paternal grandparents' Roman Catholic
> Church, the only person I ever saw drinking was the priest.
> Episcopalians sharing one cup was something that made enough of an
> impression for me to remember it, but I never gave it much thought
> until some years later. That was in the 1970s when I was in
> graduate school in Chicago.
> One Sunday some friends and I attended Mass at one of Chicago's
> historically black parishes, Saint Edmund's Church. At communion,
> the priest had some kind of combination plate and cup set I had
> never seen before. Everyone received communion from one of the
> priests at the altar rail who dipped the host into the wine before
> placing it on one's tongue. I was told this "intinction set" was
> the way communion was given in African-American congregations. The
> practice was a legacy from the days of segregation so blacks and
> persons of mixed race would not have to drink after one another, not
> to mention the occasional white visitor.
> There's nothing wrong of course with receiving communion by
> intinction, but the reason this tradition had come about at Saint
> Edmund's, though understandable, was so sad, so wrong. It was one
> of the many ways the sin of racism continued to express itself in a
> denomination long after the end of the American Civil War. I think
> it is important to remember that even after World War II, support
> for racial segregation was no bar to membership or leadership in the
> Episcopal Church until all too recently - nor, if you were a bishop,
> was it ever a bar to receiving an invitation from the archbishop of
> Canterbury to a Lambeth Conference.
> Except for the occasional person who held a host in the palm of his
> or her hand for a minister to take and dip in the wine because he or
> she had been sick, I don't think I was really aware of communion by
> intinction again until I got out of seminary. That was in 1983.
> People were starting to be very worried about AIDS. Intinction came
> back, and this time with a twist: Priests in many places started to
> permit communicants to dip the host they had received into the wine
> One of the things one learns early as a member of the clergy is that
> you don't have to worry about getting sick when drinking after
> others. If that were a problem, none of the clergy of the Church
> would be here for very long, or would ever be healthy. We drink
> after everybody, often daily.
> The practice of letting communicants, kneeling or standing, put a
> host into the chalice themselves always results in many fingers
> going into the wine. In congregations where this practice has
> become normative, one can always see some communicants bringing
> handkerchiefs or tissues with them to the altar rail to be prepared
> to wipe their fingers if they get wine on them. Father Mead tells a
> useful story from his days serving as seminarian in a parish where
> people dipped the host into the wine themselves. One Sunday when he
> was serving as a minister of the chalice, with the light just right,
> he saw a film form on the surface as communion continued. The word
> he uses when he recounts the experience is "disgusting."
> Recently I had the chance to ask the Reverend George Brandt, rector,
> Saint Michael's Church, New York City, about Saint Edmund's Church.
> Father Brandt had grown up in one of the great black parishes of
> Harlem. He said my memory was correct. One of his own childhood
> memories is singing with his parish's boys' choir at a Eucharist in
> a Manhattan parish. The parishioners, white, drank from the
> chalice. The boys, black, received by intinction. Father's memory
> made me wonder what happened at Saint Mary's in days past, knowing
> as I do that as late as 1914 and perhaps later, it was the practice
> here for African-American members to be seated in the rear of the
> church on the side aisles.
> Let me be clear: intinction is not the problem. The practice is
> ancient and has its roots in reverence, not racism or in prejudice
> against persons living with HIV or other diseases. But its new and
> widespread place in our Church's common life isn't a renewal of
> reverence. The practice of "auto-intinction," doing it yourself, to
> coin a phrase, is a new thing for Episcopalians and it is very
> troubling. It should be eschewed for reasons practical (see
> above). The general encouragement being given for intinction should
> stop for reasons theological (continue reading).
> Why does the way in which we receive communion matter? First and
> most important of all, we do not pray over bread and wine at Mass to
> consecrate bread and wine. God doesn't need us to make more
> Christ. We, the congregation, pray - note well, the presider is
> always proclaiming "our" prayer on behalf of all of us, never "his"
> or "her" prayer - that the Holy Spirit will come to fill the gifts
> of bread and wine with his presence and to fill us with his presence
> so that the holy meal may help us grow to be one in Christ. The
> Mass is not about God's bread and wine as much as it is about God's
> people. We are not at Mass to be or grow spiritually merely as
> individuals but to be one in Christ.
> The sharing of a meal and the use of a common cup starts with Jesus
> and his disciples. But our customs have always been about more than
> the way people drank in earlier days. How we eat and drink was and
> is a sign of relationship, a recognition, rooted in our human
> biology, of the other being of the same family, language, tribe and
> nation. Nothing continues to say who we are in Christ as Episcopal
> Christians more than how we eat the Lord's Supper. Again, the
> common cup proclaims and reminds us and all who join us that we are
> sisters and brothers in Christ, one family, one body, one Christ.
> My own impression is that receiving by intinction is practically
> unknown in families that have been Episcopalian for more than two
> generations, except in African-American congregations.
> We at Saint Mary's are heirs of a tradition that sets aside a
> Sunday, commonly called "Corpus Christi" - Latin for "Body of
> Christ," to celebrate the gift of the Eucharist. This is what we
> will be celebrating on June 14, this "Second Sunday after
> Pentecost." I invite you to be here to share the one cup, to be
> made even more a part of Christ's one body. Stephen Gerth
The Rt. Rev. Pierre W. Whalon, D.D.
Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe
23 avenue George V
75008 Paris France
+33 1 53 23 84 06 (tel)
+33 1 49 52 96 85 (fax)
office at tec-europe.org
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