Discussion in 'Sacraments and Holy Orders' started by Scottish Monk, Jun 26, 2012.
Who can administer the Eucharist in the orthodox Anglican church? Who can assist?
In ancient tradition, we are absolutely 100% sure that any bishops and presbyters present may do so.
Catholicism recently admitted deacons to this honour. Orthodoxy still only lets deacons hold the veil underneath the ciborium containing the consecrated matter.
Laypeople who have been specially trained and approved may serve as Lay Eucharistic Ministers. This is generally done only in churches that need it, and thankfully it is not something that is abused. We don't have the "armies of EMHCs" that some Catholics complain about. LEMs serve additional chalices and assist the clergy when they need to be resupplied.
Many churches don't have them, though. Ordinarily, the Celebrant distributes the Body, and another priest or deacon will serve the Blood.
Orthodoxy does indeed allow deacons to adminster the Holy Gifts if the need arises. It is not as typical as in RC nor would they consider the Deacon to be as what the Roman's call an ordinary minister
In the Church of England, Readers and Lay Workers may distribute the sacrament of Holy Communion. Readers are non ordained ministers who undergo 2 to 3 years of study and training. They are licensed by the Bishop and can carry out many of the responsibilities undertaken by an ordained Deacon. The Office of Reader is in some ways a throw over from the pre Reformation period when there were a number of minor Holy Orders. Readers were briefly re-introduced during the reign of Elizabeth I to help with the shortage of clergy but the modern Office of Reader in the Cof E dates from the mid 19th Century.
Lay Workers undergo relevant training and are also licensed by the Bishop to distribute Holy Communion. This may include distributing Holy Communion from the Reserved Sacrament to housebound parishioners. The Bishop is required to keep a register in which he keeps the names of those licensed and the duties that the individual is authorized to perform. The Bishop may revoke a license if he feels there is just and reasonable cause. Licenses are periodically reviewed and renewed.
In my area it is quite common at Holy Communion for the Celebrant to administer the Patten and a Lay Worker to administer the Chalice. Our Bishop tends to refer to them as Lay Eucharistic Ministers.
Interesting, Symphorian! in the rubrics of my 1962 BCP, after the consecration of the elements, it says:
"Then shall the Priest first receive
in both kinds himself, and then proceed to deliver the same to the Bishops, Priests, and Deacons in like manner (if any be present), and after that to the people also in order, into their hands, all meekly kneeling. And, as he delivers the Bread, he shall say:" etc.
The priest who is celebrating the thanksgiving of Holy Communion is designated by the BCP as the minister of the Eucharist.
What is the reasoning behind the institution of Lay Administers? Is it expedience? Perceived need for a faster liturgy? Or is it something much more insidious? In every historical church before the last 200 years (but mostly the last 50), the priest was the celebrator and distributor of the Holy Communion or Eucharist. Are we somehow more enlightened these days, that we can give up this admittedly service-lengthening tradition for lay-ministers? More time in church isn't exactly bad, is it?
I just don't understand the logic of progressivism.
Some of it has to do with training. Nearly all of the LEMs that I've met are seminarians. Others are known lay ministers who served as acolytes growing up, and who want to become deacons. Our diocese is very discerning and strict about it. In our church, for example, we have far more people than we can seat. We have three services every Sunday morning in order to seat everybody. Without the LEMs, it just wouldn't be possible to commune everyone in a reasonable amount time (we have 800+ at many services). LEMs also help with the distribution of the Eucharist to the homebound.
No LEMs are ever involved with the Consecration in any way, and they never give "blessings" or confuse their role with that of the priest. The parishioners don't confuse them with clergy, either. They're just serving the Church in a limited capacity, since we don't have enough deacons. But in small-to-medium sized churches, it is generally just the clergy who distribute the Eucharist. Again, the "armies of EMHCs" in the RCC come from a different theology and practice. The origins might be similar - I honestly don't know - but there is a very different "feel" and reason for using them.
A reasonable amount of time... by modern standards?
Compare the modern situation to that of the first three centuries of Anglicanism; surely, more people went to church every Sunday back then - yet they never saw the need for LEMs or EMHCs of any sort. Perhaps people didn't mind spending 3-4 hours in Church? Maybe we need that attitude back, rather than the "we must get to coffee/the football game/lunch, etc, so hurry it up", attitude?
I am not arguing... just lamenting our secular humanist culture that wants speed.
Of course, maybe there were ministers permitted to distribute with the priest during the pre-19th century Holy Communion, which was formerly rarer in celebration than today. We'd have to check with Symphorian or the Hackney Hub for such things.
The 1962 BCP says that any consecrated matter that was not consumed during the Communion should be left upon the holy table until it is all consumed by the clergy thereafter. How old is the Anglican practice of homebound administration?
Thanks be to God. I often get the impression, at the local Basilica's Mass, that the invading crowd of 3-4 older ladies on weekdays and 6-7 on Sundays, are trying to make a statement about women and the sacraments. It's very bad in RCC, but not comparable in Anglicanism? That's great news!
Pretty much the same here in the Anglican Church of Australia only the names are different...
Servers - pretty much helps out by carrying the cross for the begin and end procession and helps out handing the cruets containing the wine and water. May also be asked to administer the third chalice if it is required. Receives training but not licensed by the Bishop.
Eucharist Assistant - also helps out with the preparation and clean up after the service, administers the second chalice if it is required and also carries the Bible for the Gospel reading procession. Receives training but not licensed by the Bishop.
Liturgical Assistant - Does all of the above if needed, but normally leads parts of the service that a Deacon would, administers the first chalice for typical Sunday services of feast days where necessary. The LA in more remote areas of Australia can also do funerals, morning and evening prayer, and deliver the sermon. The LA does some formal training and is licensed by the Bishop.
I currently do the top 2 and I am working toward an LA license.
Not sure when the practice started, but our 1979 BCP mentions the Reserved Sacrament. I've seen it reserved for the homebound in every parish that I've visited. I bet it's done in most, if not all, of our parishes. A priest serves it to those at home or in the hospital, but a LEM can assist.
Thank you for your comments about the Eucharist practices in your respective churches.
I am personally a LEM. We have a small church, so I have to do the acolyte stuff and carry in the cross. Occasionally I have to do both OT and NT readings. I always do the NT reading though. I have been trained, and all I do is handle the chalice and say "The Blood of Christ the Cup of Salvation" We have no deacons in our church. I am going under a discernment phase guided by my priest, but I am not seminarian. There are LEMs that do help give the Eucharist to the home bound. From my knowledge this is a separate Eucharist which the priest of course consecrates. Any of the the elements that are left during Mass are consumed by the priest during the Mass. If there is too much (especially too much left in the Chalice) I help in consuming what's left.
I like small churches.
That's really cool!
The 1549 BCP has the following rubric, also found in the 1552 and 1559 books. (Original spelling from 1549 Book):
¶ Then shall the Prieste firste receive the Communion in both kindes himselfe, and next deliver it to other Ministers, if any be there present, (that they may bee ready to helpe the chiefe Minister,) and after to the people.
Whilst not expressly stated in the 1662 BCP it is probably implied.
Expediency. Such practice is not universal in the CofE. Where churches have a curate (who may be a Priest or Deacon) the celebrant may administer the Patten whilst the curate administers the Chalice. Sometimes the celebrant will administer both. Our parish had a Licensed Reader for many years who administered the Chalice we now have a LEM who does so. As such, he is only in the sanctuary during the administration of HC.
I live in a rural area where most Rectors/Vicars have care of a united benefice with several churches. (Our Rector has four churches). It is not uncommon for the incumbent to make a quick escape in order to preside at another service, so using a LEM is justified.
I agree with you that more time in church isn't exactly bad. I feel that there can be a sense of apathy in both clergy and people. For example, as a child and throughout my teens, there were more frequent services at my village church: 2 celebrations of Holy Communion every Sunday with Evensong also every Sunday. During the week there were frequent celebrations of Holy Communion according to the BCP Calendar. Now we are down to one celebration of Holy Communion every Sunday and the occasional Evensong or mid week Holy Communion.
The First Book of Common Prayer in 1549 made provision for reservation of the Sacrament for Communion of the sick with certain restrictions. In the subsequent books a shortened form of Holy Communion was celebrated at the sick person's house.
Reservation of the Sacrament in the Church of England was certainly practiced by the Ritualists from the mid 19th Century. Even earlier, the Caroline Divine Herbert Thorndike advocated reservation. I suspect that the 1549 allowance continued to be practiced by some clergy even though it is not expressed in the later books. The question of the legality of the reservation was brought before the Archbishops of Canterbury and York (Temple and Maclagan) in 1899/1900 who declared it unlawful at that time. A little later, the proposed BCP of 1928 (not formally adopted) allowed reservation and it certainly became a more widespread practice during the 20th Century and is now common. There was a lot of unrest about Reservation and other advanced ritualistic practices in the earlier part of the 20th Century. (Google 'Church of England Royal Commission 1904').
In my Diocese there was a notorious case where the church was mobbed by 50 protestant fundamentalists (Kensitites) who took crowbars to the altars and ornaments. The vicar (Fr. Bernard Walke) begged them not to desecrate the Tarbernacle and to allow him to take the Blessed Sacrament to the vicarage. The protesters conceded and allowed the vicar to remove the Blessed Sacrament from the church.
They certainly keep you busy.
Yeah, I also have been given the responsibility of conducting evening prayer once a week, and I'm trying to help build a pantry for hygienic products. I hope I'm not coming off as boasting. I very much feel blessed to do these things, and there are so many people who attend to the church more than i do.
Gordon, that's interesting. How are you getting on? Licensed Readers in the CofE do all the things that you've listed for your Liturgical Assistants, they also do pastoral care and teaching.
How long is your training? Over here it's 2 or 3 years depending on Diocese. Do your Liturgical Assistants wear a specific habit? Ours wear a choir habit of cassock, surplice and blue tippet. With the choir habit they may wear an academic hood if entitled. When assisting in an Eucharistic capacity you may find them wearing a cassock-alb and blue tippet.
Most of our training is on the job with the local priest and the Parish Liturgical Director heading up the training team, we do 3 days of formal training relating to child protection laws here in Australia. All LA's must have an Australian Blue Card which is basically police checks etc. to try and keep out those who harm our kids. I have still got the official stuff to go and then the Parish application for a license for me will be sent to the Bishop. We don't get to wear anything else but the alb.