Eucharist Icon

UPDATED

Let me be clear from the start: this is not a review of a book – this is an initial exploratory comment on a review of a book.

The book is
Did the Anglicans and Roman Catholics Agree on the Eucharist?: A Revisit of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission’s Agreed Statements of 1971 and Related Documents by Colin Buchanan.

I have always been delighted by Colin, his scholarship, friendship, and humour. I appreciate his wonderful books and I look forward to reading this one.

I just want to pick up from the review by Dan Stollenwerk on Anglican Taonga, and the highlighting of Colin’s claim that

No Anglican liturgy today… could ever say ‘May the Lord accept this sacrifice at your hands’” (p. 170) which was deleted from the Anglican liturgy as early as 1549.

[UPDATE:

Thanks, Kieran.

I have tracked down the eucharistic rite in Papua New Guinea’s Anglican Prayer Book of 1991 in none other than Colin Buchanan’s own Anglican Eucharistic Liturgies: 1985 – 2010:

THE OFFERING
THE PREPARATION OF BREAD AND WINE

Lord God, we ask you to receive us
and be pleased with the sacrifice we offer you,
with humble and contrite hearts. (page 276)

In the introduction to the rite, Colin acknowledges the use of the Roman offertory prayers.]

Let us not sweep differences between us under a duplicitous irenicism; but let us also not overstate differences.

Colin’s Evangelical allegiance is well known, and this is a lens through which, unsurprisingly, he reads history (and liturgy). The reviewer underscores this in the analysis of the English Reformation.

The word “sacrifice” will have a particular resonance for Evangelicals. It has a variety of usages within the scriptures and Christian history and theology. And so it is heard differently by different people. There will be a variety of understandings of “sacrifice” within Roman Catholicism, and a variety of understandings of “sacrifice” within Anglicanism.

That might lead well to a first point: there is not a homogeneous Eucharistic perspective within Roman Catholicism; nor is there a single Eucharistic perspective within Anglicanism. Many RCs could not articulate their church’s formal position, and many practices and understandings will not be consonant with that formal position. And the same is true within Anglicanism – where I would add that discerning an Anglican “formal position” will be more difficult than finding a Roman Catholic one.

This leads to my contention that in the spread of RC Eucharistic perspectives there will be significant overlap with the spread of Anglican perspectives. Many Anglicans will be closer, in understanding and practice, to Roman Catholics than they are to others within their own denomination, and, similarly, many Roman Catholics will be closer, in understanding and practice, to Roman Catholics than they are to others within their own denomination.

Even looking at the exchange between presider and gathered community that is being discussed, whilst for some people the focus is on the word “sacrifice”, for many others, the primary point is that we pray together for the person presiding at that person’s request. This is common right across the Christian spectrum and throughout history, in Eastern rites, for Jacobites, Nestorians, and in the Gallican and Mozarabic rites.

When Colin says “No Anglican liturgy today… could ever say ‘May the Lord accept this sacrifice at your hands’”, one need only do a Google search and we quickly do come up with this sentence in Anglican liturgies. I guess the response might be that these particular words are not authorised by any General Synod of any Anglican province. That, I’m guessing, is correct. [UPDATE: From Colin Buchanan’s own book, that guess has now proved to be incorrect – a General Synod which has authorised these words is quoted above].

But to say that the Eucharistic rites I find online with those words included are therefore not Anglican, is, I believe, a judgement too far. I am unaware of any Anglican liturgical trial which has ruled that these words are inadmissible. These words are used in Anglican liturgies in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia within the flexibility of A New Zealand Prayer Book. They have been used by every level of our church’s hierarchy. No one has laid a formal complaint against their usage. To say that these services are not Anglican liturgies is unreasonable.

I highlight ARCIC’s Final Report, 1982: 13-14:

Christ’s redeeming death and resurrection took place once and for all in history. Christ’s death on the cross, the culmination of his whole life of obedience, was the one, perfect and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the world. There can be no repetition of or addition to what was then accomplished once for all by Christ. Any attempt to express a nexus between the sacrifice of Christ and the eucharist must not obscure this fundamental fact of the Christian faith. Yet God has given the eucharist to his Church as a means through which the atoning work of Christ on the cross is proclaimed and made effective in the life of the Church. The notion of memorial as understood in the Passover celebration at the time of Christ – i.e. the making effective in the present of an event in the past – has opened the way to a clearer understanding of the relationship between Christ’s sacrifice and the eucharist. The eucharistic memorial is no mere calling to mind of a past event or of its significance, but the Church’s effectual proclamation of God’s mighty acts. Christ instituted the eucharist as a memorial (anamnesis) of the totality of God’s reconciling action in him. In the eucharistic prayer the church continues to make a perpetual memorial of Christ’s death, and his members, united with God and one another, give thanks for all his mercies, entreat the benefits of his passion on behalf of the whole Church, participate in these benefits and enter into the movement of his self-offering.

ARCIC focuses on ‘remembrance’ (anamnesis) affirming that the event of salvation (Christ’s sacrifice) was a once and for all event. There is no repeated sacrifice in ‘remembrance’ (anamnesis). In the Elucidation, ARCIC distinguishes between the historic and eucharistic uses of the word ‘sacrifice’:

In the exposition of the Christian doctrine of redemption the word sacrifice has been used in two intimately associated ways. In the New Testament sacrificial language refers primarily to the historical events of Christ’s saving work for us. The tradition of the Church, as evidenced for example in its liturgies, used similar language to designate in the eucharistic celebration the anamnesis of this historical event. Therefore it is possible to say at the same time that there is only one unrepeatable sacrifice in the sacramental sense, provided that it is clear that this is not a repetition of the historical sacrifice.

There is therefore one historical, unrepeatable sacrifice, offered once for all by Christ and accepted once for all by the Father. In the celebration of the memorial, Christ in the Holy Spirit unites his people with himself in a sacramental way so that the Church enters into the movement of his self-offering. In consequence, even though the Church is active in this celebration, this adds nothing to the efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice upon the cross, because the action is itself the fruit of this sacrifice. The Church in celebrating the eucharist gives thanks for the gift of Christ’s sacrifice and identifies itself with the will of Christ who has offered himself to the Father on behalf of the all mankind. (The Final Report, 1982: 20).

The Eucharist identifies with the sacrificial action of Christ in such a way that this action becomes effective in the present in the Eucharist (remembrance as anamnesis).

In 1994 ARC-USA published the following summary of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Agreed Statement
on the Eucharist in order to make it widely available in a form that is “short, accessible, and easily
reproduced.”

1. WE AFFIRM that in the Eucharist the Church, doing what Christ commanded his apostles to do at the
Last Supper, makes present the sacrifice of Calvary.
2. WE AFFIRM that God has given the Eucharist to the Church as a means through which all the atoning
work of Christ on the Cross is proclaimed and made present with all its effects in the life of the
Church.
3. WE AFFIRM that Christ in the Eucharist makes himself present sacramentally and truly when under the
species of bread and wine these earthly realities are changed into the reality of his body and blood.
4. BOTH OUR CHURCHES AFFIRM that after the Eucharistic celebration the body and blood of Christ may
be reserved for communion of the sick…Episcopalians recognize that many of their own Church
members practice the adoration of Christ in the reserved sacrament.
5. WE AFFIRM that only a validly ordained priest can be the minister who, in the person of Christ, brings into being the sacrament of the Eucharist and offers sacramentally the redemptive sacrifice of Christ which God offers us.

In the light of these affirmations they conclude that “the eucharist as sacrifice is not an issue that divides our two Churches.”

For those looking for sacrificial language that is authorised by General Synod, the following spring to mind:

Praise and glory to you creator Spirit of God;
you make our bread Christ’s body
to heal and reconcile
and to make us the body of Christ.
You make our wine Christ’s living sacrificial blood
to redeem the world.
(A New Zealand Prayer Book page 541)

I look forward to reading Colin’s book. I also recommend the book Eucharist and Offering by Kenneth Stevenson.

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