Thursday, July 24, 2008

William Temple,

Archbishop of Canterbury, on symbolism and the Holy Eucharist

From Christus Veritas:

In the physical universe symbolism is the principle of existence. Each lower stratum of Reality exists to be the vehicle of the higher. The organism which was Christ’s Body in His earthly ministry derived the significance entitling it to that name from the fact that it was the instrument and vehicle--the effective symbol--of His Spirit. . . .The identity which makes it appropriate to speak of our Lord’s fleshy organism, the Church, and the Eucharistic Bread by one name—the Body of the Lord--is an identity of relation to His Personality on the one hand and to His disciples on the other. The addition of the outpoured Blood makes it plain that it is the symbol of His Personality as offered in sacrifice. As we receive His sacrificial Personality we become able to take our part in the one Sacrifice, which is the self-offering of humanity to God. . . .It is essential to the spiritual value of this sacrament that we do what the Lord did. It is all symbol, but it is expressive, not arbitrary, symbol; that is to say, the spiritual reality signified is actually conveyed by the symbol. The symbol is emphatically not mere symbol; if it were that, we should only receive what our minds could grasp of the meaning symbolised. It is an instrument of the Lord’s purpose to give Himself to us, as well as the symbol of what He gives. What we receive is not limited by our capacity to understand the gift. When with the right intention I receive the Bread and the Wine, I actually receive Christ, whether I have any awareness of this at the moment or not, and always more fully than I am aware. We, by repeating and so identifying ourselves with His sacrificial act, become participants in His one sacrifice. (1924, pp 239-251)


Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful statement on the reality of the Eucharist by a man of whom I have heard but with whom I am as yet unfamiliar. I want to be sure that I understand him in light of the teaching of the REC. He says "When with the right intention I receive the Bread and the Wine, I actually receive Christ, whether I have any awareness of this at the moment or not."

My understanding is that when I receive the Bread and Wine I receive Christ no matter what my intention. If my intention is right then I receive it to my salvation; if my attention is wrong then I receive it to my condemnation.

1 Corinthians 11 (English Standard Version)
23For(Y) I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that(Z) the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for[e] you. Do this in remembrance of me."[f] 25In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death(AA) until he comes.

27(AB) Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord(AC) in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning(AD) the body and blood of the Lord. 28(AE) Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.

In Christ,

Rev. Dr. Hassert said...

Good point--Very much like the Articles use of the word "partaking of Christ" (that the wicked don't, even though they "receive the Sacrament of so great a thing" per Augustine and Aquinas), we should perhaps view ++Temple's use of "receive" in the way that Augustine and Aquinas use the term "eat"--with two possible meanings. Christ is given to all in the holy Sacrament (all receive and eat), and yet the wicked "eat not," meaning they do not actively partake.

per Aquinas:
"First, in De Sacramento Altaris, cap. XVII., Aquinas writes that:"The first mode of eating the Body of Christ is Sacramental only, which is the way wicked Christians eat it, because they, receiving (sumentes) the venerable Body into mouths polluted by mortal sin, close their hearts with their unclean and hard sins, as with mire and stone, against the effect which conies from the influence of His virtue and goodness. . . These eat, and yet they do not eat. They eat because they receive (sumunt) sacramentally the Body of the Lord, but, nevertheless, they eat not, because the spiritual virtue, that is, the salvation of the soul they do not partake (non percipiunt). . . .
There is, says Gregory, in sinners and in those receiving unworthily the true Flesh and true Blood of Christ in efficacious essence, but not in wholesome efficiency. He who is at variance with Christ, says Augustine, 'neither eats His Flesh nor drinks His Blood,' and though he daily receives (sumat) the Sacrament of so great a thing, he receives it unto judgment. They are at variance with Christ who, averting the purposes of their heart from him, turn them to sin. And such may be said, to be truly wretched to whom so great a good oftentimes comes, and yet, who never receive or partake (accipit sive percipit) of any spiritual gain therefrom."

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Anonymous said...

Dear Anglican Cleric:

Thank you for your response. I am in TEC. I recently attended a first eucharist at a nearby REC church with positive experience. After lookig at both Rome and the East I now know that I am definitely an Anglican.

In Christ,