E.M.H.C.


JMJ

Yup. That’s me. You’re probably wondering how I ended up giving out communion in a tie-dyed vestment with no discernable liturgical color. That was me at St Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church, circa AD1999. The image is a still from a movie is called Dancing With God. I used to be able to find it online but not so much anymore. It’s not even in the Archive.

Setting aside, for a moment, serious doctrinal differences, that was the beginning of my deepest devotion to the Most Blessed Sacrament. Three things changed my devotional life as part of my ministry at that parish: 

1) We gave communion by name to everyone. One day I walked up to my friend Lizzie, who was great with child, her first child. We all knew the child was a girl and we knew her name was Sophia. I walked up to Lizzie and the Holy Spirit wrapped himself around my voice as I said, “Lizzie and Sophia, the Body of Christ.”
2) I asked our pastor, Donald, what was I saying: was I saying something about the bread, or Lizzie and Sophia? He replied, “Yes.”

3) Since we used loaves of bread, there were often remainders which we consumed. We were also allowed to bring the Eucharist home. For several years I did daily communion as part of my morning devotions and had the Eucharist reserved in my room at all times.

Your toes perhaps are curling. Just put it down to a piety that’s neither Orthodox nor Roman Catholic. While neither Rome nor the Orthodox would agree, to me, as an Anglican, that was the Real Presence of Christ. Grace builds on nature – and where there is faith, God can work miracles anyway. And from that faith, I learned.

Although some traddies may be annoyed, part of my ministry is still Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. The moments alone with the Blessed Sacrament, alone in a church filled with hundreds of people, are the most special moments of Adoration imaginable. Standing unworthily, a sinner holds God in his hands. Infinity is contained between two palms, between two fingertips. The Master and Maker of All that is is silent, humble, luminous, flat, and still. A sweet scent rises from the Sacred Blood. Wind could move the Holy Body and he needs protecting with a covered hand or purificator. 

The armies of angels stand in awe as a creature of dirt and slime can touch God. Demons scream and fall back in terror and a rage of jealousy, for they both crave and fear the love so freely given. And knowing sinfulness, knowing mercy through that touch, the sinner is saved, transported, welcomed into heaven. All of eternity, all of space, all of time is collapsed into the one moment of self-offering, as the Body of the Son is offered to the Father. This is our body. This is our blood. We become what we consume, we rise in his ascent. 

There is such a mystery before us and yet we do not see it. We do not wish to recognize it. He, himself, body, blood, soul, and divinity, comes to us silently. Needing a human’s voice to say his name.

Asking only our assent.

Amen.




Coming to a Dimble

JMJ

The Readings for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body & Blood of Christ:

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.
Saturday, yesterday, was the Feast of St Thomas More and St John Fisher, both Martyrs. Today is the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. Saturday at Matins we heard a letter of St Thomas, written before his martyrdom at the hands of Henry VIII and at Vespers we sang the hymn Adoro te devote, composed in crisp Latin verse by St Thomas Aquinas in honor of the Blessed Sacrament: in fact the entire office of Corpus Christi was composed by this second and earlier Thomas. There is a mystery here for him with eyes and heart to see.
The body of Christ was given for the church by Christ himself, offered on the cross and laid in the tomb. When he rose from the dead he gave us his flesh and his blood, saying that he would be with us always, even unto the end of time. We have still with us the body and blood of Christ in our tabernacles and on our altars daily to be adored and consumed. But this meal is a gift which consumes us. We are what we eat. We become the body of Christ. The Eucharist constitutes the church. She becomes what she consumes and the martyrs are the proof of this. As they die they, too, become Christ.
See this description from the Martyrdom of Polycarp:

When Polycarp had pronounced this amen, and so finished his prayer, those who were appointed for the purpose kindled the fire. And as the flame blazed forth in great fury, we, to whom it was given to witness it, beheld a great miracle, and have been preserved that we might report to others what then took place. For the fire, shaping itself into the form of an arch, like the sail of a ship when filled with the wind, encompassed as by a circle the body of the martyr. And he appeared within not like flesh which is burnt, but as bread that is baked, or as gold and silver glowing in a furnace. 

As bread that is baked, in martyrdom we become wheat that is ground and crushed. Made to be flour we are kneeded, leavened, and brought into the body of Christ, the communion bread, the church.
And so, the martyrdom of St Thomas More: it, too, is a type of, a shadow of, and an echo of the Eucharist, joined to the Passion of Christ.

Either God shall keep King Henry in that gracious frame of mind to continue to do me no harm, or else, if it be his pleasure that for my other sins I suffer in this case as I shall not deserve, then God’s grace shall give me the strength to bear it patiently, and perhaps even gladly.
  By the merits of Christ’s bitter passion joined to mine and far surpassing in merit for me all that I can suffer myself, his bounteous goodness shall release me from the pains of purgatory and shall increase my reward in heaven besides.

St Thomas quite literally went to his death fighting with the state over the definition of marriage: he insisted that the King could not be divorced and married again contrary to the laws of the faith and that therefore the King was not married, but living in an adulterous relationship. Saint Polycarp, too, went to his death fighting with the state. Both the government of Rome and the government of England claimed that they had the right to make religious decisions for their people. Rome held this state power to be so strong that they considered Christians to be atheists since we denied their conception of the divinity!
England decided that the Crown was the head of the Church instead of Peter, that is the Pope, whom Christ designated as head of the Church. To deny the English crown this position of authority was to become a traitor to the crown. Although Catholics insisted that they were faithful to the monarch and that they where ever the crown’s servants. They could not allow the monarch to claim this religious title. Henry and his followers and his heirs would hound the Faithful to their deaths, grinding them up between the millstones of prisons and the rack, of hurdles and hangings, until the bread of the Church’s Eucharist was as red as Christ’s very blood – and just as glorious and dear.
In C.S. Lewis’ That Hideous Strength one of the characters, Dr Dimble, explains to his wife how things are always getting tighter and tighter…

“Have you ever noticed,” said Dimble, “that the universe, and every little bit of the universe, is always hardening and narrowing and coming to a point?” His wife waited as those wait who know by long experience the mental processes of the person who is talking to them.
“I mean this,” said Dimble in answer to the question she had not asked.
“If you dip into any college, or school, or parish, or family—anything you like—at a given point in its history, you always find that there was a time before that point when there was more elbow room and contrasts weren’t quite so sharp; and that there’s going to be a time after that point when there is even less room for indecision and choices are even more momentous. Good is always getting better and bad is always getting worse: the possibilities of even apparent neutrality are always diminishing. The whole thing is sorting itself out all the time, coming to a point, getting sharper and harder.
Like in the poem about Heaven and Hell eating into merry Middle Earth from opposite sides . . . how does it go? Something about ‘eat every day’ . . . ‘till all is somethinged away.’ It can’t be eaten; that wouldn’t scan. My memory has failed dreadfully these last few years. Do you know the bit, Margery?”
“What you were saying reminded me more of the bit in the Bible about the winnowing fan. Separating the wheat and the chaff. Or like Browning’s line: ‘Life’s business being just the terrible choice.’”
“Exactly! Perhaps the whole time-process means just that and nothing else. But it’s not only in questions of moral choice. Everything is getting more itself and more different from everything else all the time. Evolution means species getting less and less like one another. Minds get more and more spiritual, matter more and more material. Even in literature, poetry and prose draw further and further apart.”

St Thomas More was brought to such a point, to a Dimble Horizon, if you will. Even the clergy of the Church were apostatizing around him just to keep their political positions in the English Court. Polycarp as well came to such a choice. The choice finally comes for each of the Martyrs and, I fear, it is coming for us as well: do I do what they want or do I become Christ’s body and blood here and now.
We are each the priest ordained at that moment by our choice. We take up the bread of our body and we either Transubstantiate it into Christ’s living presence on the altar of Truth or else we toss it away in exchange for stale saltines and weak tea. 
Gazing in awe upon our Eucharistic Lord into whom we are changed, even crossing the Dimble Horizon, let us proclaim the death of the Lord in our own lives. May we say, firmly, with St Thomas More, 

Do not let your mind be troubled over anything that shall happen to me in this world. Nothing can come but what God wills. And I am very sure that whatever that be, however bad it may seem, it shall indeed be the best.

And may we say with St Thomas Aquinas, Nil nisi te, Domine. Nothing but you, Lord. 

Shockwaves of the Eschaton

JMJ

The Readings for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Vetustátem nóvitas,
Umbram fugat véritas,
Noctem lux elíminat.

Now the new the old effaces,

Truth away the shadow chases,
Light dispels the gloom of night.

O sacred banquet
Tardis and Tesseract of eternity
Feast of Ramandu
Last Homely House before the wilds
坎  坤  乾 

Kǎn Kūn Qián
Gift of heaven
formed of earth
Made by man
Transformed by God
Fed to man
Living on earth
Rising to heaven
Lembas and Soma
Manna fallen and spice that flows
Ambrosia, grok 

Bread of heaven
Fulfillment of the mystery of Earth
What is fallen and buried
Rises again a thousandfold
Philosophers stone
Gold of the Alchemists
Palantir of Westernesse
sword in stone embedded
Lia Fail
Showing Kingly Priests who dare to touch
Chalice of Salvation
Pare Dadani
Cauldron of Immortality
Core Ansc of Divine Hospitality
Taurobolium
Holy Grail
Sang Real
The true vine
the fruit of salvation
the fullness of harvest
Fulfillment of the Mystery of Water
What is birthed in water
Dies in wine
And is reborn
Sacrament most holy
Gate of heaven
Consuming us

Sumit unus, sumunt mille:
Quantum isti, tantum ille:
Nec sumptus consúmitur.

Whether one or thousands eat:
All receive the self-same meat:
Nor the less for others leave.

Mitis et Humilis Corde

JMJ

The Readings for the 5th Monday of Ordinary Time (B2)

Factum est autem, cum exissent sacerdotes de sanctuario, nebula implevit domum Domini, et non poterant sacerdotes stare et ministrare propter nebulam : impleverat enim gloria Domini domum Domini.
And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the sanctuary, that a cloud filled the house of the Lord, And the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord. 

In 1985 or maybe 86, activists attended mass with John Cardinal O’Connor at St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. They prayed alongside of everyone, stood for the hymns and sat silent and respectful through the sermon. (One Episcopal Priest in collar stood for the whole sermon and got his picture in the paper as a protesting priest… but he wasn’t Roman Catholic… a thing never quite made clear.) Then, at communion time, one of the activists received the consecrated Host and threw It on the ground, and trod It underfoot. 

A visibly shaken – in fact near tears – Cardinal retrieved the dirty and broken Host from the floor and consumed It before continuing to give out communion.

The God of the Old Testament scares folks. Don’t worry: I’m not going to get into that odd 2,000 year old heresy, always new, always wrong idea that Jesus was somehow theologically different from the God of the Old Testament. I mean, the God of the Old Testament tends to show up in clouds and lightning; floods and tornadoes, earthquakes and fiery wheels. 

Cute baby, cooing with angels; Jesus grows up and heals folks. He says (some) nice things. He’s very different from the fiery wheels. He’s relatable. He’s not (often) scary. He’s also funny. He disses his family. He jokes his friends. His miracles are (mostly) ones we all would like to see. And he has a cool, righteous anger. Whips? Who hasn’t wanted to use whips sometimes to clear a room, maybe even a room at church?

But the orthodox, historical Christian, is that this Jesus is the same God as that Fiery Wheels guy. In fact, the Orthodox will tell you full on that it was Jesus (pre-incarnation) who was walking with Adam. It was God the Son who made the universe (all things were made by him and without him was not anything made that has been made). If you are alive (in him was life…) it is because of God the Son. That’s Jesus.

So the Christian teaching is, a bit, scary. Just a bit… but there’s this other thing: Jesus’ humility. We hear this said, over and over, but we do not understand, we do not get what it can mean for the God of All Creation, the Lord of all Time and Space to be humble. He was humble in his passion, subject to spittings, torture, and death.

Come to Adoration.

Kneel in silence before the One Who Is. 
The God of gods
Lord of lords
King of kings
Summum et Perfectisimum Bonum (the Totality and Perfection of Good)

Present in fullness of Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity…

In a flat disc of bread. That can be subject to torture and being spat upon, or trod upon. Mute and omnipotent, the Word of God accepts still our blasphemy and mocking.

This is the God of the New Testament and of the Old.
Before you.
This is love.
The face of eternity.
The heart of grace, wounded for us.

Tunc ait Salomon : Dominus dixit ut habitaret in nebula.Then Solomon said: The Lord said that he would dwell in a cloud. But here is a Greater Thing than Solomon ever had or imagined.

Fully God, fully subject to human violence, also to Human Love, the humility of God on display, the Majesty of Infinity made finite and real by his will.

This is Love.

Throne of Judgement

+JMJ+

Before this throne
I will come
for judgement
to here
you daily call me
I cannot but come
your call is all
I sleeping hear or waking

here angels surround
saints and blesseds watch
my sins must waft
a stink to heaven
and at this throne
judgement surely comes.

still your faithful sheep
round me kneel
in calmness, grace
and none recoil
my imposture you must
all of you must
surely
see

I have sinned against
heaven
and before thee
surely stain
the pews
the rails
the stoop
the housling cloth

I catch your eye on calvary
and turn down
that even now
you most clearly see

Jesu, Jesu,  Jesu, esto mihi Jesu.

light
you
yourself
before me
judge me
love
grace

You raise me up
wash me and hold
in your hand,
my face
and part my lips
and fed me
your very flesh
and love
fills my eyes
with radiance
my soul is healed
with truth

how can I hold to earth
how can I to time adhere

what is time and space collapsed
eternity enters me
my soul more spacious than the heavens
God
is
dwelling

here.

Before this throne
I will come
for judgement
Jesu mercy then
as now

clothed and in my right mind
I rise from your feet
and am sent forth
not me but you
not me but you
not me but you

a message to shout from housetops
a gospel to proclaim.

It’s your choice, really…


Today’s Readings:

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” 
John 6:52-53

You may know that the laws of Kashrut, or how to make and keep food Kosher, require all blood to be drained from the meat. The Blood is the life force and it is sacred to God. For the life of all flesh is in the blood. Therefore I said to the children of Israel: you shall not eat the blood of any flesh at all, because the life of the flesh is in the blood, and whosoever eateth it, shall be cut off. Leviticus 17:14

Jesus would have known that law. Would have know blood is not allowed, and eating human flesh? Never! We can be reasonably certain, therefore, that Jesus never would have said this, right? Someone made it up later to justify their liturgical life.

So the Sophists and game players would have us say. They reject the love of God given to us in the Mass because to accept it… they know: they have to accept the whole package. So they play games with the text. They make up their own mythologies about how the text came to be and why we can ignore it. Having eliminated all the texts they don’t like (moral teachings, miracles, etc) they are left with a politician who sounds remarkably like Barak Obama, Hillary Clinton, or Bernie Sanders: somewhat boring, left of center, and oddly anti-religious. The people who buy it are, themselves, remarkably like Barak Obama, Hillary Clinton, or Bernie Sanders: somewhat boring, left of center, and oddly anti-religious. Amusingly, the reverse is also true: it’s possible to edit the Bible in such a way as to end up with Donald Trump.

Neither side wants to admit that they are doing what the other side is also doing. Neither side can stand to look in a mirror. The Jesus Seminar is no better than Westboro Baptist Church: both equally fundamentalist, both equally committing idolatry before the mental ejaculations of their theological onanism.

They both reject the literal truth of today’s Gospel.

Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.

Here, at this table in the forms of bread and wine, is God himself; the very flesh of God, the very blood of Him who even now, in full ambient perichoresis with the Father and the Spirit, reigns in caelestium, terrestrium et infernorum, in heaven, on the earth, and in hell. Here, on this altar. Now.

Here, though you cannot see, the entirety of heaven sings in awe, the entirety of hell quakes in fear; angels on either side of you are in awe of our God and of you whom he has blessed to stand in his presence. Demons running in fear, turn in wonder to see you in flesh and blood come near.

Here are your loved ones gone before, here are those whom we would most dearly love to see also standing unseen with us. In this very moment all of heaven and earth, all of eternity and infinity, meet here.

All space and all time which cannot contain him, all universes, all eternities too small. Is here: in a bit of bread the size of a quarter, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.

Can you see the humility of our God?
Can you bear the love of our God?
To lay flat and silent before all, to be chewed – the Greek says “gnawed” – like a child getting the last bit of Popsicle off a stick, or a man ripping the meat off of spare ribs.

This is our God.
We consumer our God.
Yet…
Our God is a consuming fire.
This meal will not leave you alone.
You may come to it as you are.
But you may not leave it unchanged.

God will get into you. God will tear you limb from limb, passion from flesh, soul from body, spirit from will, and will remake you into his own lover, someone who cannot be without him, as a fish cannot be without water, as a song cannot be without air.

God will gnaw on you, will find the savor in you, will suck the very marrow of life from your old shell of death and will make you anew into the living members of his body.

You.
YOU.
Will become this bread

This meal consumes you.

You are what you eat.

And you will give yourself to others as living bread.

Wine will pour forth from your heart like love and all will come and drink.

Your life will be sacrificed so that they may live. You will discover love in you. Because God is in you and you in him.

Or, maybe Jesus never said this and we can all have sex, and die.

Your choice.

Supper’s ready.

Grok?