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» Ship of Fools   » Special interest discussion   » Ecclesiantics   » Look no hands!

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Source: (consider it) Thread: Look no hands!
Angloid
Shipmate
# 159

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I wonder how many Shipmates have encountered the custom of the president at the Eucharist standing well back from the altar and not touching the bread or the cup during the eucharistic prayer. I know that some avant-garde liturgists were proposing this in the 1960s (or even before); I seem to think it was incorporated into some 'guides for the celebration of the liturgy' around the introduction of the ASB (in the C of E) in 1980. It might even have been a suggestion in some official rubric or accompanying note.

Some questions:
[1] would this practice ever have been seen as the norm in some traditions?
[2] what is the reason for it?
[3] how widespread is it in the C of E and is it increasing or decreasing?

1662 is clear that the priest should take the bread and the cup into 'his' hands during the words of institution. Was it because that became seen as a sort of magical formula of consecration, that there was a reaction against it?

I've been reluctantly persuaded into adopting this practice a number of times. But I'm uneasy about it, not because I think it invalidates the consecration, but because the Eucharist is about the infinite God transforming the specifics of this world, and very specifically it is 'this' bread and 'this' wine that God chooses to become his Body and Blood. So it seems very odd to ignore them at the very moment we should be focussing on them.

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Posts: 12891 | From: The Pool of Life | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
moonlitdoor
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# 11707

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What style of churchmanship were the places where you were encouraged to do it ?

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BabyWombat
Shipmate
# 18552

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I find such a form of consecration repulsive, for many of the reasons you state.

Certainly rubrics in TEC’s BCP require that the elements should be touched, so I do that. But aside from that, there is something deeply incarnational in the touching. The touching brings a reality to the moment -- this is not solely a mystical moment or action, it is a real moment. Real hands touch real bread (OK, a wafer usually, but still it is a real thing) and a real cup, which in turn will be given into the real hands of real persons. It is not disembodied, we are incarnate, and God who indeed became incarnate honors the flesh and blood of humanity with God’s own flesh and blood. The connection is real God to real human in a real way, not a theoretical way.

It has bothered me when, at very large celebrations (I am thinking here of a bishop’s consecration in a sports arena) that the extra flagons for the communion wine frequently sit not on the altar but on side tables, and the celebrant more or less waves at them, but does not touch them. Admittedly it would look silly to walk along tapping each one, but I miss the carnality of that touching.

I serve dinner to my friends using my hands -- they at the least hold the platter, the bowl, the martini pitcher, the wine bottle. Communion should be as carnal.

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Ecclesiastical Flip-flop
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# 10745

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Anglican clergy who don't handle the elements at consecration at Mass/HC/Eucharist, I immediately assume are evangelical. I experience this on occasions, but not where I worship regularly (except possibly if the celebrant is a visitor). I would think that if the BCP rubrics are not adhered to in this respect, a contemporary rite is being used.
Posts: 1914 | From: Surrey UK | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged
Angloid
Shipmate
# 159

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BabyWombat: maybe 'repulsive' is too strong a word but i share your sentiments. In reply to moonlitdoor and Ecclesiastical Flipflop, I've never seen a self-styled 'evangelical' doing (or rather not doing) this, which is not to say it doesn't happen; my experience is limited. I'd say the practice was most prevalent among those who might call themselves 'liberal catholic': I've certainly witnessed it in two religious communities. I'd say it was the triumph of liturgical theory over commonsense.

With regard to additional chalices, ciboria etc at a large-scale celebration,I don't think it matters. it doesn't invalidate the sacrament if the presider doesn't touch everything. But I think it's important that there is a physical focus and that s/he takes the bread and cup at the obvious psychological moment.

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Bishops Finger
Shipmate
# 5430

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At the Church Of My Yoof, 1662 BCP was the norm for Communion (until 1973, when we went all modern, and started using Series 3 for some services), and, IIRC, the Vicar always followed the rubrics re touching, handling etc.

Is it just me, or were things simpler then?

Or, to put it another way, why can't we just do what it says in the book?

IJ

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Angloid
Shipmate
# 159

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quote:
Originally posted by Bishops Finger:


Or, to put it another way, why can't we just do what it says in the book?

IJ

In this case though, the book doesn't say much. Certainly no directive rubrics.
Posts: 12891 | From: The Pool of Life | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Anglican_Brat
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# 12349

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The argument offered for not touching the elements I encountered is that touching the elements interrupts the flow of the single Eucharistic prayer. The congregation should concentrate on the words being spoken, not suddenly look at what the priest is doing with her hands.

I don't agree with this argument, I think manual gestures enhance the recitation of the Eucharistic Prayer, not detract from it.

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leo
Shipmate
# 1458

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We had a ‘no hands’ curate (he’d trained as an evangelical, we’re liberal catholic’). His justification was that the 4 fold action was meant to be 4 different actions so the ‘taking’ happened at the end of the offertory.

That was in the 1980s – the curate later became an anglo-catholic and is now a bishop!

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Posts: 23033 | From: Bristol | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged
The Scrumpmeister
Ship’s Taverner
# 5638

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quote:
Originally posted by leo:
We had a ‘no hands’ curate (he’d trained as an evangelical, we’re liberal catholic’). His justification was that the 4 fold action was meant to be 4 different actions so the ‘taking’ happened at the end of the offertory.

I suppose my understanding has been roughly this as well.

Taking = Offertory
Blessing = Anaphora
Breaking = Fraction
Giving = Communion

I had never considered that to have any bearing on the manual actions during the Anaphora.

That said, in our rite, at the dominical words, the priest and deacon do indeed stand back from the altar, while gesturing towards the Holy Gifts. However, the only touching of the Gifts (or rather, of the vessels, for, after the Offertory, the Holy Body itself is not touched until the Fraction) that occurs during the Anaphora is at the elevation, which is explicitly one of offering and not of showing.

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If Christ is not fully human, humankind is not fully saved. - St John of Saint-Denis

Posts: 14674 | From: Greater Manchester, UK | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged
Anglican_Brat
Shipmate
# 12349

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I think this is an overreach to the caricature of Anglo-catholic priests waving their hands 50000 times during the Eucharistic Prayer. My liturgical manual for presiding "Let us Give Thanks" recounts the story shared by Percy Dearmer of his sister viewing a RC mass and thinking the priest was chasing a a crab around the Altar for all the hand gestures he was performing.

Going from 5000 gestures to no gestures at all, seems to me like going to the other extreme.

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Posts: 4234 | From: Vancouver | Registered: Feb 2007  |  IP: Logged
BabyWombat
Shipmate
# 18552

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Mea culpa! My apologies for using "repulsive" above.... perhaps "quite off putting" may have been more appropriate. No offense intended, just typing before thinking.

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Let us, with a gladsome mind…..

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Bishops Finger
Shipmate
# 5430

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Yes, Angloid is right - Common Worship doesn't give much in the way of directive rubrics. I think I must have been harking back to The Good Old Days, when all we had was 1662 BCP.

Moving in more Carflick circles now, I can't say I've noticed an overabundance of gestures at Our Place, even with a variety of priests, but taking and handling certainly occurs, as is meet and right.

IJ

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Enoch
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# 14322

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I'm not aware of having encountered this, but one can't always see what is happening quite a long way away and anyway, is one always watching to see what the celebrant is doing?

The old 1662 book has clear instructions as to what physically has to be done when. Although the more recent books don't, as it's normative I'd assume clergy are supposed at least to follow the spirit of what it says, even if they sit a bit more loosely now on the details.

The main difference is that in the 1662 book the bread is broken in the Eucharistic prayer at the words 'he brake it' whereas now there is a separate breaking with a congregational response between the Lord's Prayer and the distribution. I've noticed that some clergy break twice.

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Posts: 7249 | From: Bristol UK(was European Green Capital 2015, now Ljubljana) | Registered: Nov 2008  |  IP: Logged
Anglican_Brat
Shipmate
# 12349

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quote:
Originally posted by Bishops Finger:
Yes, Angloid is right - Common Worship doesn't give much in the way of directive rubrics. I think I must have been harking back to The Good Old Days, when all we had was 1662 BCP.

Moving in more Carflick circles now, I can't say I've noticed an overabundance of gestures at Our Place, even with a variety of priests, but taking and handling certainly occurs, as is meet and right.

IJ

The thoughtful via media position is that priests should perform gestures, but that each gesture should be meaningful and contribute to the overall tenor of the Eucharistic prayer.

Taking the bread and wine at the words of Institution, strikes most as common sense.

Making the sign of the Cross every two seconds over the elements, may not.

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Zappa
Ship's Wake
# 8433

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Ah, you could always visit Dio Sydney - the last (and only ever ever) time I was in the cathedral there some gender specific bloke in a 1970s (it was five years ago) safari suit wheeled out a tea trolley with what looked like a pie warmer on it, with some carafes of ribena, stood a long way north of it, pointed and muttered some words about remembering something and then told us to pass the buns and phials down the aisle.

We waited for him to say "bottoms up" or some-such invitation to slug back the ribena but he didn't.

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Kayarecee
Apprentice
# 17289

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It sounds vaguely Lutheran-esque, since for Lutherans, the important bit is the words of proclamation, and Lutherans as a rule tend to be extremely cautious about anything that might even remotely distract from the words of proclamation, or make it seem like the words alone are insufficient.

That said, I just checked, and there aren't any prescriptive rubrics in my denomination's orders of service which specify manual acts, but in our "manual on the liturgy" (which doesn't have the force of law, but it's the kind of suggestion that you take Very Seriously), it specifies at least picking up the elements during the Verba.

And though I could see some of my fellow Lutherans arguing that gestures and manual actions evoke images of some sort of consecratory magic, I've never (since I've started paying attention to these sorts of things) seen a Lutheran pastor be completely hands-off.

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Amanda B. Reckondwythe

Dressed for Church
# 5521

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The sharp-eyed Mystery Worshipper will, one hopes, take note of what the pastor is doing with his hands as he speaks the Words of Institution.

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Bishops Finger
Shipmate
# 5430

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And that may well result in some....er..... interesting observations!

IJ

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The future is another country - they might do things differently there...

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Adeodatus
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# 4992

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Hideous practice, but no worse than the opposite extreme, which usually involves turning the Fraction into an exercise in semaphore.

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leo
Shipmate
# 1458

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quote:
Originally posted by Kayarecee:
And though I could see some of my fellow Lutherans arguing that gestures and manual actions evoke images of some sort of consecratory magic, I've never (since I've started paying attention to these sorts of things) seen a Lutheran pastor be completely hands-off.

Our Bavarian lutherans (on exchange) always make the sign of the cross over each of the elements during the Dominical words.

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The Scrumpmeister
Ship’s Taverner
# 5638

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quote:
Originally posted by Adeodatus:
Hideous practice, but no worse than the opposite extreme, which usually involves turning the Fraction into an exercise in semaphore.

[Killing me]

Yes!

It reminds me of childhood, reading about taffy-pulls in Huckleberry Finn.

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If Christ is not fully human, humankind is not fully saved. - St John of Saint-Denis

Posts: 14674 | From: Greater Manchester, UK | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged
The Scrumpmeister
Ship’s Taverner
# 5638

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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
The main difference is that in the 1662 book the bread is broken in the Eucharistic prayer at the words 'he brake it' whereas now there is a separate breaking with a congregational response between the Lord's Prayer and the distribution. I've noticed that some clergy break twice.

I was thinking about this double-fraction recently. It's something that doesn't matter too much these days, as the unleavened wafer is commonly used in C of E churches, even when the BCP rite is used. However, when leavened bread is used, as it was more commonly in previous times, when does the Fraction take place?

I know that there would have been some form of breaking during the institution narrative in the anaphora at the point where the rubric called for it, but I imagine this to be purely symbolic rather than functional, as surely this wouldn't have allowed sufficient time to break the bread into the requisite number of pieces for all of the communicants.

So when did that happen? In the Roman and Sarum masses, the Fraction took place during the doxology of the Our Father, but again, this was with the expectation of the use of an unleavened wafer. The modern Roman Rite (with a number of modern Anglican rites, CW Order 1 included, following suit) treats the Agnus Dei as a fraction anthem, and the Fraction is expected to be done at this point.

For those familiar with the scholarship behind the modern rites, does the Franction during the Agnus Dei reflect a more ancient custom, prior to the wholesale adoption of unleavened bread in the west? And could it be that, although it isn't mentioned in the Prayer Book rubrics, it might have simply been understood that clergy would know to do it at this point?

[ 19. October 2017, 12:03: Message edited by: The Scrumpmeister ]

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If Christ is not fully human, humankind is not fully saved. - St John of Saint-Denis

Posts: 14674 | From: Greater Manchester, UK | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged


 
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