Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Contemplative Eucharist—Clarification

Recently there has been a lot of interest in the Rite for Contemplative Eucharist [published January 2006 in this blog], and also some questions.

It is not mandatory for a layperson to say the epiclesis, but it should be an option. The rite is used by groups that do not have the sort of hierarchies that the Episcopal and Roman Catholic churches have, although it is also used by these latter groups.

However, there is no reason the Roman Catholics and Episcopalians should not have the lay-epiclesis option, as the RCs will regard the Rite for Contemplative Eucharist as "para-liturgical" (although recent breakthrough documents by the Dutch Dominicans [available at the National Catholic Reporter website] call the "para" into question).

The Episcopalians, however, have no strictures—and no excuses—about admitting the excellent scholarship that shows that such hierarchies are untenable, even if some choose to turn a blind eye. [See my "Pillars of Flame: Power, Priesthood and Spiritual Maturity", recently re-published with a new Foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu by Seabury Books.] There is no reason that a lay person should not say the epiclesis when this rite is held in an Episcpalian context.

It is fifteen years since the Rite came into being; lay attitudes have evolved. Episcopalians are limited only by attitudes of rigid clergy control that should be called by its proper name, that is: clericalism.

It is because of clericalism and its infantilizing agendas towards the laity (such clergy want the laity to be more infantile than they are in order to justify and support their own infantilism) that institutional religion is in so much trouble. The Rite for Contemplative Eucharist is a way of restoring balance and perspective and inviting all people, ordained or not, to spiritual maturity.

While lay presidency of the Eucharist is a live issue throughout the Anglican Communion, from the Archbishop of Canterbury on down, this rite has no president except the silent Christ present in all his people; there only an animator who is mostly out of sight.


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