Eucharistic Adoration

Paul McCain (LCMS) links to a video featuring Fr. Stan Fortuna.

My Catholic readers will love the video.

Protestants will appreciate McCain’s question: “Is this what Christ intended we do with His Supper?” It’s a question rooted in Christ’s command: “Take and eat; this is my body. … Drink from it, all of you.” Lutherans will underscore that he didn’t say put it in a box, he didn’t say carry it about, he didn’t say take what you want, he didn’t say one’s as good as another, he didn’t say restrict the access of some to part or the whole–he said, “Take and eat,” “Drink from it, all of you,” and, in John, “you ought to wash one another’s feet.” Those are the only commands of Christ we have concerning his supper. We should take care to do all that he says to do, and not to impose practices of our own devising.

12 thoughts on “Eucharistic Adoration

  1. The only persons intentions that I can know are my own, I certainly have no idea what was on Christ’s mind when he celebrated with his followers what we call The Lord’s Supper, or Eucharist. Adoration is a practice that developed (I wouldnt say that the Church “imposed” adoration) in history. For me the question that must be asked is wether adoration of Christ’s living body is contrary to scripture or not. As for the video, a bit charismatic for my taste.

  2. You’re right, we can’t psychologize Christ. Hence the need to stick with his words: “Do this.”

    Eucharistic devotions developed late, hence the presence of them in the Catholic but not the Orthodox church.

  3. Late development does not mean it is bad or wrong, certainly there can be excesses, I have never understood the interest in bleeding hosts etc etc etc. Adoration of the reserved sacrament may be a late development. Reservation of the sacrament for the sick or those who could not participate in the lord’s Supper is very early. This calls into question how we behave in a church where the sacrament is reserved. It is one of reverence. If there is a non sacred event in a church the sacrament is removed and so on. As a matter of interest how do other denominations treat the bread and wine/grape juice that is left over after celebrating the Lord’s Supper?

  4. …not to mention the whole debate about how Christ is present, isn’t it much more important to learn why. Its like a few weeks ago I had to endure a permanent deacon preach on Corpus Christi about how Christ is present, aaaagh

  5. Liam,

    To answer your question about left over bread/wine … ELCA churches have widely varying practices. Some use leavened bread, some wafers; some use wine, some grape juice, some both. At Gettysburg Seminary, students would gather in the sacristy to eat the remaining (whole wheat leavened) bread with peanut butter (some students would say they were eating “peanut butter and Jesus sandwiches”). At St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Abbottstown, PA, where I did my “teaching parish,” they would tear up the remaining bread and throw it to the birds. Some places that used wafers would return the wafers to the bin and pour the wine down the sink. At Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, Montpelier, VT, they would keep the consecrated wafers in a separate place and would pour the wine down a piscina. The ELCA service for distributing communion to the sick makes clear that the elements are to be taken immediately to the sick, and the distribution is clearly understood as an extension of the congregation’s service.

    The Seventh-day Adventist practice (using unleavened bread and grape juice) is to “respectfully dispose of any bread or wine left over by pouring out the wine and burying, burning, or disposing of the bread in another appropriate manner but in no event returning it to common usage” (SDA Church Manual, p. 84-85).

  6. Naturally, Catholics would not limit the scope of their practices to the explicit commands of scripture. We believe in the Spirit’s role in shaping the liturgical life of the Church through the centuries, including the advent of exposition of the sacrament for adoration. We also believe in the infallibility of the Church, which asserted that this was a legitimate use of the sacrament in several councils.

    One should also recall that the primary reason Lutheran and Reformed churches do not adore their communion follows their reinterpretation of the “real presence.” Commonly, the elements are the body and blood of Christ to those who receive them in faith, particularly at the moment of reception. In these cases, the act of faith-filled consumption becomes the cause and conditio sine qua non of the eucharistic quality of the elements–a proposition Trent condemned. Believing in the permanence and objective reality of Christ’s presence, however, Catholics can conceive of a moment in which the bread and the wine does not serve their purposes as nourishment, and are still worthy of receiving adoration. This realization would naturally give rise to a formal practice of adoring the eucharist outside of a communion rite, testifying to that permanent and objective real presence.

    The Church protected that devotional practice especially in view of the fact that it impressed an orthodox eucharistic model (according to Rome) upon the minds of the people. Not surprisingly, the rejection of that practice followed the the rejection of its underlying eucharistic theology. As always, then, we find ourselves in another simple debate between various models of Christ’s eucharistic presence.

  7. “We believe in the Spirit’s role in shaping the liturgical life of the Church through the centuries.”

    This then brings up the question of what is a proper development of doctrine and what is an aberration. The Catholic Church ultimately rests upon postivism: A legitimate development is whatever we say is a legitimate development. This isn’t the attitude of the Fathers, who held Scripture to have a normative role.

    Lutheranism does not teach receptionism. Lutheranism has defended the propriety of adoration “within the use”–within the context of the celebration.

    Yes, devotions are tied to theology. But there are exceptions to the point you raise. Catholicism does not dispute the Orthodox church’s Eucharistic theology, yet the Orthodox church rejects the Catholic church’s Eucharistic devotions.

  8. One of the questions I asked is how do we behave in the presence of the Eucharist where it is reserved. Wether one is in an Orthodox or Catholic church people act in a reverential manner. Is ther ethat much of a difference between reverence and devotion?

  9. I believe the charge of “positivism” obscures the essential function of scripture in the formulation of Catholic theology. Catholics believe in the normative role of scripture, but to the degree that the practice of “x” would be rooted in, and never contradict, the teachings of scripture; the normative function of scripture is not limited to explicit endorsements of “x.” Thus, all conciliar or papal definition attempt to underscore the biblical basis of the doctrine they define. As in Dei Verbum: “this teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it. . . listening to it devoutly. . . .” This is why observing that the fathers upheld the normative role of scripture does not necessarily put them at variance with the Catholic approach, unless one would further claim that the fathers upheld a notion of “sola scriptura” like that of any one of the Reformers.

    Thank you for correcting me as regards Lutheran thought.

    True as regards Orthodoxy, but the ideal arrangement from a Catholic perspective is that operative within the Eastern Catholic Churches, which respect the legitimacy of the Western practice though they do not participate in the same, since as the Union of Brest states, “our use of the Mysteries is different” (Union of Brest 7). Accordingly, the extra-liturgical practice of Eucharistic adoration is not a touchstone of Catholic orthopraxis, but it is a legitimate devotion. I think you made a sound point, though: an orthodox eucharistic theology does not inevitably lead one to a particular devotional practice.

  10. “Catholics believe in the normative role of scripture, but to the degree that the practice of ‘x’ would be rooted in, and never contradict, the teachings of scripture.”

    But this statement leads us in circles, because whenever Catholic teaching is shown to be contradicted by Scripture, Catholics always assert the authoritative nature of Tradition, and the authority of the pope to change divine teachings and commands.

  11. Bill, to make the last point more clear can you give an example of Catholic teaching that is shown to be contradicted by Scripture and where tradition and authority of the pope change divine teaching?

  12. Regarding the first question, let’s take a very easy one. Matthew 23:9 “Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven.”

    On the second point, next time you are at St. Mary’s Seminary, check out Lucius Ferraris, Bibliotheca (Rome, Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith), vol. 6, p. 45 (s.v. “Papa”).

    30. Papa tantae est auctoritatis et potestatis, ut possit quoque leges divinas modificare, declarare, vel interpretari, ad num.

    (The Pope is of so great authority and power, that he is able to modify, declare, or interpret even divine laws.)

    30. Papa jus divinum potest modificare, cum eius potestas non sit ex homine, sed ex Deo, et in terris Dei vices fungitur cum amplissima potestate oves suas ligandi et solvendi.

    (The Pope can modify divine law, since his power is not of man but of God, and he acts as vicegerent of God upon earth with most ample power of binding and loosing his sheep.)

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