Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Denver gets a surprise

At a time when Lutherans are distancing Confirmation and First Communion in higher numbers than ever before, we find at least one Roman Catholic pushing back to the traditional order of First Communion at the same time as or after Confirmation.  This is more than interesting but also is a bold move because some Lutherans are toying at or have adopted early communion for infants and toddlers in a parallel to Orthodox practice.  While this has less affected the LCMS, the ELCA has found growing numbers of pastors pushing parishes into the earliest of early communion practices.  Since Lutherans get a cough as soon as Rome gets a cold, what might this move, if it is adopted by other dioceses, mean for us?  Time will tell. . . 

In an unprecedented change for an archdiocese, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver announced that the Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Confirmation and First Communion – will be restored to their original order.

“In an increasingly secular world, the reality is this: the souls of our children are the battleground. As the shepherd of the Archdiocese of Denver, I must do everything I can to help those who form children win that battle,” he explained in his pastoral letter “Saints Among Us” released May 23.

“The world needs saints. Even as our society becomes more distant from faith and more forgetful of God, it still hungers for joyful witnesses who have been transformed by Christ,” he explained. “At the same time, new generations of Catholics need grace to sustain them in a non-Christian environment.”

In response to those needs, Archbishop Aquila said he’s chosen to restore the sacraments to the original order.

While the majority of dioceses and archdioceses have children baptized in infancy, receive the First Communion in first or second grade and Confirmation sometime in middle or high school, the original order placed Confirmation and First Communion in the same ceremony.

“This will make available every sacramental grace the Church has to offer to children who have reached the age of reason,” he explained.

When he made the change in his then-Diocese of Fargo in 2002, he said he was convinced by the “theological and pastoral reasons” that it was the right decision, but the feedback from parents after it was implemented further confirmed the change.

In his pastoral letter, Archbishop Aquila detailed a five year plan that will help parishes in Northern Colorado implement the changes by 2020.

It is his hope that after the change, Confirmation will no longer be the “sacrament of farewell” and Pope Francis regretfully called it, but rather “a profound encounter with each person of the Holy Trinity.”

40 comments:

Carl Vehse said...

"This is more than interesting but also is a bold move because some Lutherans are toying at or have adopted early communion for infants and toddlers in a parallel to Orthodox [sic] practice."

Some Lufauxrans in the LCMS (but no Lutherans!) are toying with or having a thrill run up their legs thinking about paedocommunion.

Lutheran Lurker said...

Lufauxrans

That was witty once, cute a couple of times, but now it is just plain irritating. Let go of your little ditty and come up with something new.

Carl Vehse said...

"Lufauxran" is an easy, practical term for describing those who irritatingly pretend to be Lutheran, but whose confession and practice are not those of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Anonymous said...

Bravo, Archbishop! This is an excellent step, a restoration of sanity within the RCC. Maybe the idea will catch on with some others who followed Rome into heresy, so that they will not follow it out. That is, at least, out of some types of heresy.

Fr. D+
Anglican Priest

Chris Jones said...

Dr Strickert,

If the Holy Scriptures or the Lutheran Confessions prescribe the age at which it is appropriate to receive Holy Communion, or if they forbid the Church to administer Communion to infants, I am unaware of it. Please provide a citation from the Confessions which explicates the Scriptural teaching on this matter; or else don't make the claim that paedo-communion is un-Lutheran.

You are, of course, entitled to your opinion that communing infants is inappropriate or inadvisable. But you are not entitled to claim that it is un-Lutheran without showing it from the Confessions.

ErnestO said...

Thinking I'm getting a bad cough and now I know why - quoting this posting "Since Lutherans get a cough as soon as Rome gets a cold" can only hope I'm better by my next Sunday communion...............LOL

Carl Vehse said...

Scriptural and Lutheran confessional explanations against paedocommunion are provided in the document, "Knowing What We Seek and Why We Come: Questions and Answers concerning the Communing of Infants and Young Children," by the LCMS-CTCR, and the 2013 Logia article, "THESES ON INFANT/TODDLER COMMUNION," by John Pless.

LAALMMV (Lufauxran and antiLutheran mileage may vary)

David Gray said...

Mr. Strickert,

I read the LCMS document and while it is a good document I couldn't see that it contained any explicit statement from the confessions on the subject of paedocommunion. Did you read it?

Unknown said...

Can anyone recommend a book or a paper that describes how Holy Communion developed from a ceremony lead by the head of the family, at home, once a year, as part of the Passover observance, to the current practice where it can only be administered by an ordained pastor/priest, predominantly in church and often on a daily basis?
Werner Elert’s book, Eucharist and Church Fellowship in the First Four Centuries, does not deal with this question.
Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

Anonymous said...

Does this mean Archbishop Aquila will be confirming children in second grade, or will he be pushing the age of first communion back to eighth grade? If the former, I can't see many Lutherans following his lead in this matter.

Also, Lutherans need to bear in mind that Roman Catholics believe confirmation is a sacrament, and that Rome believes confirmation bestows grace on the confirmands. For a Roman Catholic, it therefore makes sense to have confirmation at as early an age as possible. For Lutherans, for whom confirmation is merely a rite, those considerations do not come into play.

Carl Vehse said...

The notion of the so-called “early communion” (and here the euphemistic “early” implies any post-uterus, pre-confirmation age) is simply incompatible (spanning ironic to hypocritical) with the Lutheran doctrinal position of closed communion.

Read 1 Corinthians 11:27ff and SD.VII.68. Also LC.V. 85 indicates that children are “to be brought up in the Christian doctrine and understanding” to “have then learn what they ought to know” so that they “should also enjoy this communion of the Sacrament.” And from the Preface to “The Large Catechism”, pg. 383, Kolb/Wengert edition, Luther states:

“This sermon has been designed and undertaken for the instruction of children and the uneducated. Hence from ancient times it has been called, in Greek, a ‘catechism’- that is, instruction for children. It contains what every Christian should know. Anyone who does not know it should not be numbered among Christians nor admitted to any sacrament, just as artisans who do not know the rules and practices of their craft are rejected and considered incompetent. For this reason young people should be thoroughly taught the parts of the catechism (that is, instruction for children) and diligently drilled in their practice.”

And there's AC.XXV.1: “The custom has been retained among us of not administering the sacrament to those who have not previously been examined and absolved.”

Closed communion involves a profession of confessional unity in faith. Those who are members of a different (or no publicly expressed) confession are not to be communed. All communicant members of a Missouri Synod Lutheran congregation are required to have previously confessed their unconditional acceptance of the doctrine of the Lutheran Church (i.e., taken from Holy Scripture and exposited in the Lutheran Confessions) to be faithful and true.

(Whether LCMS pastors uphold this requirement, or instead allow some quasi-Lutheran or partial confession is another matter.)

Carl Vehse said...

For further reading on concerning the Scriptural and Confessional position of closed communion:

"Admission to the Lord’s Supper: Basics of Biblical and Confessional Teaching" (CTCR, November 1999).
Straight Talk about Closed Communion” by Pr. William P. Terjesen.

Again, the so-called “early communion,” i.e., communion given to a pre-confirmation person (whatever age), is contrary to the Lutheran doctrinal position of closed communion.

Carl Vehse said...

BTW, in addition to the push for paedocommunion, let me toss in another MAJOR SCANDAL in the Missouri Synod—the way many so-called “Adult Confirmation Classes” are taught in a 3 to 6-hour (including time for coffee breaks, lunch, bathroom breaks, and gabbing) sessions, which, depending on the time of year, can be mocked as "shake-n-bake" or "whip-n-chill."

Adults (if not children) attending confirmation should at least learn the names of the Symbols of the Lutheran Confessions, even the one the Missouri Synod Constitution fails to mention. I wonder how many communicant members in a LCMS church can't even name three Symbols - shame on them and the pastor who was supposed to instruct them!!

Carl Vehse said...

The fervid enthusiasm of Lufauxran paedocommunionists may be difficult for some confessional Lutherans to understand. But it has driven LCMS members to ‘swim the Bosporus’ as explained by Thomas L. Palke, a former pastor (1985-1999) at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Alexandria, VA. There are links at the site that will lead to a webpage with similar views expressed by another Bosporus swimmer, Benjamin Harju, former pastor at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Oakland, IA.

Some of Palke’s sentiments are similar to those expressed by current or former paedo/toddler-communionists in the LCMS.

David Gray said...

Mr. Strickert,

“This sermon has been designed and undertaken for the instruction of children and the uneducated. Hence from ancient times it has been called, in Greek, a ‘catechism’- that is, instruction for children. It contains what every Christian should know. Anyone who does not know it should not be numbered among Christians..."

If Luther meant to argue that our children are not Christians until they are catechized then he is wrong. But I don't think he meant that...

Carl Vehse said...

"If Luther meant to argue that our children are not Christians until they are catechized then he is wrong. But I don't think he meant that..."

Of course he didn't, as one who read the quoted part of the LC Preface should realize.

"so ein jeglicher Christ zur Not wissen soll, also daß, wer solches nicht weiss, nicht könnte unter die Christen gezählt und zu keinem Sakrament zugelassen werden; gleichwie man einen Handwerksmann, der seines Handwerks Recht und Gebrauch nicht weiss, [hin]auswirft und für untüchtig hält.

And to remove any doubt, here is Luther in LC.Preface.5: "For I well remember the time, indeed, even now it is a daily occurrence that one finds rude, old persons who knew nothing and still know nothing of these things, and who, nevertheless, go to Baptism and the Lord's Supper, and use everything belonging to Christians, notwithstanding that those who come to the Lord's Supper ought to know more and have a fuller understanding of all Christian doctrine than children and new scholars."

Anonymous said...

http://www.ziondetroit.org/index.php?page=stmichae&section=archive&conference=46

The St. Michael's conference dealt with the issue at hand. I think all of the material by Baseley and Stuckwisch is worth checking out and sets out some of the opposing view points.

Padre Dave Poedel said...

I pray you all realize that the good Archbishop still confirms children in 4th or 5th grade, so moving Holy Communion from 2nd grade to 4th is not a huge difference.

I am one of those LCMS Pastors who does Holy Communion admission before Confirmation for children in 3rd grade and latere IF they request it from their parents and me. On their desire, I give the parents a Small Catechism, and depending on their reading ability, a reading level appropriate Catechism (also fromCPH). I instruct the parents to teach their children the units on Baptism, Absolution and Holy Communion in the Catechism and when the parents are satisfied the child meets with me where I inquire about their desire, their understanding that they are receiving the True Body and Blood of Jesus, and then I admit them.

This is the second parish I have done this in and in both it has been well received and the lives of the children receiving the Eucharist are blessed.

My issue with my own approach is my understanding of the mystgogical catechesis of St. Ambrose of Milan who basically says that without the grace of the sacrament, you cannot comprehend the meaning of the sacrament. I believe that this is true and would much rather Baptize and Commune first and then explain what the sacrament means1 I do what I do because of pressure from my traditional Lutherans who remind me "we've never done it this way before", and I can't get those follks to realize that the Church did not jump from the Book of Acts to the Lutheran Reformation. <sigh

Padre Dave Poedel said...
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Padre Dave Poedel said...
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Aidan Clevinger said...

Mr Stricket,

Granted that communing infants is against our practice, nevertheless I still think we should offer Communion to children at a *much* younger age than middle school or high school, and I don't think there's any good reason to connect reception of Communion with Confirmation. A child can indeed learn and confess the Catechism in a simple way, and that ought to suffice for admission to the Holy Supper, as long as they are brought to examine themselves before taking - preferably through private Confession, but also, perhaps, by going through Luther's "Questions for Those Intending to Receive Communion" with their parents.

George,

There is no evidence that Holy Communion was ever "a ceremony lead by the head of the family, at home, once a year, as part of the Passover observance." From the earliest days of the Church it was celebrated with the apostles or their representatives presiding among the fellowship of believers, and certainly more than once a year. See Acts 2 for details. Hebrews 12 and Revelation 4-5 also provide insight. The earliest Church teachers confirm this. The Didache assumes that the Sacrament will be celebrated in an assembly of the Church, with a bishop presiding and a prophet, if there is one present, saying the prayer of thanksgiving. Ignatius demands that a bishop (episkopos) be present at every celebration of the Eucharist. These are only a few examples, but they show that there was never any such situation as you describe, and that Christianity has always celebrated the Sacrament by means of an ordained pastor, among the Church, and more than once a year.

Carl Vehse said...

Aidan Clevinger: "I don't think there's any good reason to connect reception of Communion with Confirmation."

Closed Communion.

Unknown said...

Dear Aidan:
I have the distinct impression that our Lord instituted the Eucharist during a Passover Seder when the traditional third cup became the Lord’s Supper. There may be some disagreement among scholars about this, but I believe the majority hold this to be correct. The oldest male member of the household presides over the Seder.
Re. Acts 2, it takes a stretch to say that this is a reference to Communion. Did our Lord celebrate Communion again with the Emmaus disciples? As to Hebrews 12 and Revelation 4-5, indeed they provide insight – but into the Lord’s Supper? As to the Didache, how can you tell what it assumes, particularly since assemblies of the Church where not as regular as they are today. It says nothing about a Bishop presiding. Where are the Words of the Institution?
Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

Aidan Clevinger said...

Carl,

You can catechize and examine someone in the faith without the ceremony or rites of Confirmation. And you can certainly do it at an earlier age than many Lutheran Churches do.

George,

The Lord did institute the Sacrament during the Passover meal, though some scholars doubt whether the seder was around at that time. However, Christ transformed the paschal meal into something new: His Sacrament. He commanded the disciples to "do this as often as you eat/drink it," which indicates that it was meant to be celebrated more often than once a year. That the apostles understood it this way is proven by Paul's instructions on the Sacrament in 1 Corinthians. There, he says that when the Corinthians come together (progressive aspect; i.e. "when you all continue/keep coming together,") they are not eating the Lord's Supper as intended by Christ. The early disciples were partaking of Holy Communion more often than once a year; they were continaully "coming together" for that purpose.

I mistakenly cited Hebrews 12 when I meant to cite Hebrews 13, my apologies. There, the author says: "We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured." The comparison here is between the Jewish nation's partaking of the temple sacrifices, and the Christian's partaking of the one sacrifice, Jesus Christ. The author is exhorting his people to a worthy reception of Holy Communion, probably at the end of his address, which many believe to be a sermon. These points are made also by Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:14-17. Likewise, Revelation 4-5 depicts the heavenly liturgy which occurs concurrently with the liturgy on Sunday, the Lord's Day. John sees a vision of Christ the victorious paschal Lamb. The vision points to the heavenly reality of the Eucharist; just as the Israelites ate the Passover lamb, so also we Christians eat our Passover Lamb. Again, no mention that the Sacrament should only be held once per year.

Aidan Clevinger said...

[Cont.]

That pastors should preside over the Supper is taken from the Lord's institution. Only the twelve were present at the first Supper, and it is to them that Christ gave the instruction: "*Do* this in remembrance of me." He was not instituting a priesthood to offer sacrifice, contra Rome and the East, but He was appointing the apostles to fulfill the office of the Holy Ministry - that is, to do what the Lord did and to offer Christians the Sacrament. The apostles, in turn, appointed other men to carry out the same duties among the churches, as we see Paul doing in Acts and in the Pastoral Epistles. In a tangential way, I think the Lord referred to this very thing in Luke 13:42, when He spoke of managers over the household who give the servants their food at the proper time. Even if I'm wrong there, the accounts of the Last Supper and subsequent practice of the disciples are sufficient to establish that Jesus did intend for ordained men to distribute the Sacrament.

The Didache does mention bishops, and assumes that they will be over the assembly as "pastors and teachers" (ch. 15). This assembly takes place "ever Lord's Day (Sunday)" (ch. 14), and during the assembly the Christians should "break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions." That this could refer to anything other than the Lord's Supper, especially given the author's instructions in chs. 8-10, is extremely far-fetched. Ignatius givese even greater insight into the early Church's practice when he says in his epistle to the Smyrnaeans: "Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church."

Unknown said...

Dear Aidan: The language in our Lord’s institution of the Eucharist, as told in the Synoptic Gospels, and the account in 1 Corinthians 11 does not carry any suggestion that the Lord’s Supper should be celebrated other than as part of the Passover meal. The fact that St. Paul chides the Corinthians for not celebrating the Sacrament correctly does not prove that they should celebrate it at any particular frequency.
Hebrews 13 has nothing to do with Holy Communion. I am beginning to sense that you feel that the chief purpose of the Church is to celebrate the liturgy. Therefore, any reference to “altar”, “eating”, “body”, “blood” etc. means “the Eucharist.”
The Didache indeed mentions bishops,
“15 Appoint Bishops for Yourselves

15:1 Appoint bishops for yourselves, as well as deacons, worthy of the Lord, of meek disposition, unattached to money, truthful and proven; for they also render to you the service of prophets and teachers.
15:2 Do not despise them, after all, for they are your honored ones, together with the prophets and teachers.” Although there is a 15.3 under this heading, it does not refer to bishops. Does “render to you the service of prophets and teachers” mean they are “over them”?
The reference in ch. 14 is not to the Eucharist. The notion that every time anyone, whether in Scripture or otherwise mentions “breaking bread” means “performing the Eucharist” is just plain wrong and indefensible.
Now, with all respect to Ignatius, it is obvious that power structures developed early in the Church. It was the only way to control things, right? But, “it shall not be so among you,” says the Lord.
Having said all this, I firmly believe that the freedom of the Gospel allows us to celebrate the Eucharist more often than once a year in connection with Passover. But I can find no imperative for it. The Church, rather than insisting that the celebration of the Eucharist is its chief purpose, might want to look at the meaning of our Lord’s words about “the judgment of the nations.” Also, if we feel, the Eucharist is the only way to strengthen our faith, we might consider what the indwelling of the Holy Spirit means, as well as “his sword”; that is, the Word of God. Scripture is not very forthcoming about the benefits of the Eucharist.
Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

Carl Vehse said...

As stated here, here and here early communion, that is before confirmation, violates the Lutheran doctrinal position of closed communion. And I provided numerous references supporting that position.

And let's make it clear what is meant by confirmation. The A Short Explanation of Dr. Martin Luther's Catechism (CPH, 1943, p.206) explains:

"Confirmation is the rite by which a baptized person renews his baptismal vow, public confesses his faith, and is received into communicant membership by the congregation."

or from A Short Exposition of Dr. Martin Luther's Catechism (CPH, 1912, p.150):

"The custom of admitting to the Sacrament those only who have been previously explored. Hence also those who are contemplating their first communion do previously and in the presence of the congregation render account of their faith, and profess adherence to the orthodox Church. (Confirmation.)

Aidan Clevinger said...

George,

Grammatically speaking you cannot say that Paul isn't exhorting the Corinthians to continued reception of Holy Communion. The verb he uses in verse 20, as well as the verbs he uses in verse 21, is present tense, which in Greek carries the connotation of progressive aspect. It describes an action which is continually or persistently happening; i.e. "When you keep coming together" or "When you continue coming together." The grammar forbids a different interpretation. Likewise with Paul's words at the end of the section: "As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you show the Lord's death until He comes." "Eat" and "drink" are in the subjunctive mood, which, when coupled with the words for "as often," indicate a possibility which is expected to be continually fulfilled. For an English comparison, consider the sentence, "Whenever you go to the store, you buy milk." The Lord's words in Luke 22, "Do this in remembrance of me," add even more strength to this interpretation. Our Lord phrased this command in the present tense which, when joined with the imperative mood, connotes ongoing action.

You said that Hebrews 13 does not refer to Holy Communion. That is an assertion for which you provided no argumentation. If you want to dispute my exegesis, you would need to show the comparison the author is making between the "altar" from which Christians eat and the altar from which the Jewish people eat. For my part, I re-iterate my case: the author is comparing the Christian's eating to the Jew's eating. The Jews ate the sacrifices made in the temple. The author identifies Christ as our sacrifice, and says that we "eat" from an altar. The logic of his argument strongly indicates, I would say requires, that we interpret the thing which we are eating as the sacrificed body of the Lord; otherwise, the comparison has no basis and makes no sense.

Aidan Clevinger said...

[Cont.]

The Didache says that the bishops are as prophets and teachers. It also says in ch. 11 that Christians are not to judge prophets who speak in the Spirit, and identifies such speaking as the unforgivable sin. Therefore I don't think it's at all a stretch to say that the bishops are "over" the people in the mind of the author. This is not a spiritual tyranny, or a system in which pastors can do and say whatever they please, but a statement of beneficent, God-given hierarchy. The Lord abolished all abuse of authority in the Church, but He did not abuse authority itself. He expected that His people would hear and obey the voices of the apostles and their representatives, just as Paul expected that his congregations would listen to and believe Timothy and Titus' preaching. Christ no more abolished authority in the Church than He abolished authority in the home or state.

Even if you don't think the Didache refers to the Eucharist when it speaks of breaking of bread, it gives explicit instructions on the meal in chs. 8-10. The only way you could interpret that document as indicating that the Supper should only be celebrated on the day of Passover is if you came to it with that interpretation and willfully read it into the work.

I nowhere said that celebrating the Eucharist was "the chief purpose of the Church" - though I'd argue it's one of the chief purposes. Christ is very clear about the benefits of the Holy Supper when He said that those who eat His flesh and drink His blood are in Him, and He in them, and will rise again on the Last Day. Paul likewise is clear when he says the elements are a communion with the body and blood of the Lord. Scripture everywhere proclaims the saving power of Christ's blood, and the union between God and creation which was effected in the body of the Lord Jesus, all of which we receive when we partake of the Sacrament in true faith. Believing this does not somehow take away from the proclamation of the Word. If we would hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, then let us listen to the Scriptures He inspired, which clearly testify to the presence of Christ's body and blood under the elements. Let us recognize that the Eucharist, because it is the flesh and blood of Christ, communicates the Holy Spirit to the faithful. And let us recognize that it is concerning His statements on Holy Communion that the Lord said, John 6, "the words I speak to you are Spirit and life."

Unknown said...

Dear Aidan, I am not a Greek scholar (if Prof. Nissen is still alive, I am keeping my promise), but as I understand it, the Greek present tense can indicate either continuous action or refer to an event without continuous action. One has to judge which it is from the context, and you have decided that it is continuous.
With regard to Hebrews 13, this is what I meant when I wrote, “Therefore, any reference to “altar”, “eating”, “body”, “blood” etc. means “the Eucharist.”” The writer makes it clear what we offer at this altar, v15, “Through Him, then let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess His name.” But to you, “altar”; therefore, “Eucharist.”
Now, let us go back, to my first posting. There is no doubt, and you do not deny that the Lord’s Supper was inaugurated during a Passover meal. Therefore, it is natural that any Jewish converts would not think of it as something to do outside of the Passover meal. Our Lord did not just “take the cup” or “broke the bread”; He did that after having broken bread and raising the cup two times before. A Jewish Christian couldn’t understand how one simply ignores the rest of the ceremony and just “takes a cup” on any Sabbath.
Now as to the benefits, Luther famously wrote that “not one syllable” in the John 6 discourse has to do with Communion. Today, many Lutherans will disagree with that, but it shows that it is possible, even among great theologians, to have differences of opinion. At the time, our Lord Himself only said, Luke 22:19, “Do this in remembrance of Me.” This makes sense in terms of the purpose of the Passover meal. The people were supposed to remember their rescue from Egypt and their settlement in the Promised Land. Just as our Lord spoke of the “New Covenant in My Blood”, as opposed to the blood of bulls which ratified the Old Covenant, so we are supposed to do “this” in remembrance of Him. That doesn’t mean that we say, “Yes, He was a great guy, that Jesus”, but that we recall the entire story of Salvation, similar to the way the story of the rescue of the Jews was told during the Passover meal. But ours culminates in Golgotha. Among Russians, there is the custom of “pominki” (remembrance) after a funeral, where people speak of their memory of the deceased. This is not part of the church rubrics. This is something done at home, similar to how the Passover meal was celebrated.
Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart



William Tighe said...


"There is no doubt, and you do not deny that the Lord’s Supper was inaugurated during a Passover meal."

As a simple statement of fact, "There is no doubt ... that the Lord’s Supper was inaugurated during a Passover meal," is a plain falsehood. It would appear, prima facie, that the Gospel of John would rule out seeing the Lord's Supper as a Passover Meal, as it has the death of the Lord occurring as the Passover lambs were being slaughtered in the Temple for the Passover meals to be observed that evening. St. Paul's "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us" may imply the same chronology, as the actual slaughter of the lambs in the Temple was not a ritual sacrifice. One may argue (as the French scholar Annie Jaubert did) that the Lord followed a different festal calendar than the "official calendar" of the Temple priesthood and Sanhedrin (she argues that he followed the Essene Calendar, but in doing so she has to radically revise the chronolgy of the events of Holy Week). Others may wish to argue that the Lord instituted the Eucharist at a solemn meal which, while it had some Paschal features or overtones, was not actually the Passover Meal - and unless I am overlooking evidence nowhere in the three synoptic gospels is it anywhere stated, clearly and explictly, that the Lord's Supper was a Passover Meal.

Moreover, I do not know of so much as one bit of evidence from any early Christian (or Gnostic) literature that the Eucharist was ever, in any time or in any place or by anyone, including Jewish Christians, celebrated on an annual basis, in households, and presided over by the oldest male members of household. It is all an a priori theory supported by no evidence whatsoever.

Unknown said...

Dear Dr. Tighe: I hope you are not implying that I am insisting on a “plain falsehood”, knowing that that is what it is.
As I understand it, that year the lambs for the Passover meal were slaughtered on Thursday afternoon, while our Lord was crucified on Friday during the Tamid, the perpetual sacrifice made twice daily. It took place at 9am and 3pm every day. According to Mark, our Lord was crucified at 9am and died at 3pm. That way, both the Synoptic Gospels and John are correct. Otherwise you would have to face the problem that the Synoptics are wrong when they clearly record our Lord celebrating the Passover on Thursday. How are the words of our Lord, Luke 22:8, “Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it,” not “clear and explicit”?
If it really was the Passover meal during which the Lord’s Supper was instituted, then it is true that there were thousand of household in Israel in which, on that day, the oldest male presided. As to why there is no evidence that the Eucharist was ever celebrated on an annual basis, in households, and presided over by the oldest male member of the household, I do not know. That is what I asked to begin this discussion.
Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

William Tighe said...

Mr. Marquart,

I writing "a plain falsehood" I wrote thoughtlessly and incautiously, and I wish to assure you that I had no intention of insinuating that you were "insisting on a 'plain falsehood', knowing that that is what it is."

Where we differ (among other matters, perhaps) seems to be here: "As I understand it, that year the lambs for the Passover meal were slaughtered on Thursday afternoon, while our Lord was crucified on Friday during the Tamid, the perpetual sacrifice made twice daily." I simply don't see how we can be sure about this. As I see it, there appears to be a plain contradiction between the Gospel of John and the synoptic gospels on whether the Last Supper was a Passover Meal; or else either John or the synoptics do not mean what, on first sight, they appear plainly to mean. One of the reasons leading me to the position that John is right is precisely the absence of any evidence whatsoever that the Eucharist was ever celebrated on an annual basis by anyone, even (or especially) Jewish Christians, which one may wish to think would have been the case had it been instituted at a Passover meal.

I am not sure, speaking for myself, though, that it would be the case even had it been instituted at a Passover meal. The Lord's injunction, "do this in memory of me," associated together two quite different things:(1) the common, ordinary, short, and unremarkable blessing over bread which began any Jewish meal, and (2) the long solemn blessing, at least three paragraphs in length, at the end of the meal, Birkat ha-Mazon. I find no difficulty with the supposition the the earliest Christians, still under apostolic (Jewish) leadership, understood the Lord's injunction as warranting the detachment of the bread-blessing and the cup-thanksgiving from the meal context, it thereby becoming a stand-alone rite, while the meal itself became the Church's "Agape" (and the fact that the Agape was never an annual observance itself seems to throw further doubt on the notion that the hypothetical connection of the Last Supper with the Passover Meal had any significance to the apostolic church, or even to the apostles themselves).

Unknown said...

Dear Dr. Tighe: Thank you.
We know practically nothing about the practices of the Church immediately after Pentecost as related to Communion.
If indeed the Lord’s Supper was instituted as part of the Passover Meal, it would be logical for the Jewish Christians to observe it once a year. Who would bother to record something about this rapidly growing Jewish sect that happens only once a year? The fact that nothing is said in the Book of Acts about it (discounting mention of “breaking of bread”) leads me to believe that this was, in fact, the case. To the Jewish believers it was not such a bid deal. Nothing changed, except for a few words that accompany the Cup of Redemption and the realization that the Passover was now complete in our Savior. Any Jew would not dream of detaching it from the Passover ceremony. Messianic Jews today understand this.
But if it were a “free standing” sacrament, having no relationship to the Passover ceremonies, then would there not have been more written about it?
My concern has been that we seem to place the Sacrament of the Altar in much higher regard than that which was intended for it. I do not mean to demean it, but among many Christians there seems to be something “magical” about it – a means of ingesting faith and sanctification so that it changes our behavior as if it were a medicine. When we do this, we do it to the detriment of the Gospel, which is still the pearl of great price, the hidden treasure, God’s greatest gift to mankind.
Peace and Joy!

William Tighe said...


I wrote a response, but it "evaporated" when I attempted to post it.

"If indeed the Lord’s Supper was instituted as part of the Passover Meal, it would be logical for the Jewish Christians to observe it once a year. Who would bother to record something about this rapidly growing Jewish sect that happens only once a year? The fact that nothing is said in the Book of Acts about it (discounting mention of “breaking of bread”) leads me to believe that this was, in fact, the case."

For whom was the Book of Acts written; who and what was Theophilus? A Jew? An interested gentile, or a sebomenos/proselyte? There are many reasons why the Eucharist might not be mentioned, including not casting pearls before swine or giving that which is holy to dogs (cf. the Didache on such matters).

"Any Jew would not dream of detaching it from the Passover ceremony."

I assume that it was the apostles - all Jews - or their immediate successors who did detach it. I wonder whether you are not retrojecting the principles, practices, and attitudes of rabbinic Judaism, dominant in Jewry from the 3rd/4th centuries onwards, into the sectarian flux of 1st-Century Judaism.

"Messianic Jews today understand this."

This cuts no ice with me, since contemporary Messianic Jews seem to wish and attempt to marry Protestant exegesis and ecclesiology to preservation of a rabbinic Jewish "cultural heritage," and have no sense at all as the Church as the "Israel of God."

"But if it were a “free standing” sacrament, having no relationship to the Passover ceremonies, then would there not have been more written about it?"

Written to whom?

"Among many Christians there seems to be something “magical” about it – a means of ingesting faith and sanctification so that it changes our behavior as if it were a medicine."

I think I've read somewhere about the Eucharist as "ton pharmakon tes athanasias, ton antiodoton tou me apothanein" (St. Ignatius to th Ephesians, 20:2) but nothing about magic.

Unknown said...

Dr. Tighe:
”I think I've read somewhere about the Eucharist as "ton pharmakon tes athanasias, ton antiodoton tou me apothanein" (St. Ignatius to th Ephesians, 20:2) but nothing about magic.” That is precisely the tragedy that concerns me: are not Baptism and the Gospel precisely this medicine and this antidote? But we are like that bratty kid in the commercial, “More Parks sausages, Mom.” A promise is not something we can touch. We need our own golden calf. “Just show us the Father!”
Yes, I have issues with Messianic Judaism, but when it comes to matters of the Old Testament, they often have insights that we gentiles simply don’t have. “…for salvation is of the Jews,” our Lord says. The problem with their lack of insight into the Church as “the Israel of God” stems from the fact that this church has killed, tortured, confined, and expelled too many of them for it to be trustworthy. I tend to give them some slack. It is miracle enough that they believe in our Lord, are baptized, and have the same gift of the forgiveness of sins and the Holy Spirit as we do.
Of course, if the Sacrament of the Altar was “free standing” to begin with, there is no question of “detaching it” from the Passover celebration. But it seems to me that there is too much evidence in the Synoptic Gospels, particularly in Luke, that it was, in fact part of the Passover celebration. I mean it happened during Passover and our Lord said, “I really want to eat this Passover with you.” And then suddenly it has nothing to do with Passover? That is my question. But there is no record of those early years.
The Book of Acts was written for us. Just as David’s sin is recorded for us, not to show what a terrible person he was, but so that we would understand the mercy of God. Hebrews was obviously not written for gentiles, but is not of lesser value to us because of that? But could it be that the Eucharist is not mentioned in Acts because the book has more important things to tell us? How can you cast pearls before swine by writing about them?
Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

William Tighe said...


"I mean it happened during Passover and our Lord said, 'I really want to eat this Passover with you.' And then suddenly it has nothing to do with Passover?"

I have long held that his desire "to eat this Passover with you" was a desire unrealized in this world, and that it would not be fulfilled until eaten anew in the Kingdom of God. Another reason, in addition to the early removal of the novel "Eucharistic bits" from the meal, and their combination, and the separate continuance of the Eucharist and the Meal (as the Agape), never on an annual basis, that I think that the Last Supper was not a Passover Meal.

Lutheran Lurker said...

George,

Passover end with the destruction of the Temple. Its requirements with respect to the lamb could no longer be completed as required. The Jews (Messianic or otherwise) have a shell of what once was but not the Passover as intended. So does that mean in your estimation that the Lord's Supper is also compromised by the destruction of the Temple and the end of the Passover?

Unknown said...

Dear Dr. Tighe: In the nearly 80 years of my life I have never seen anyone change their mind on a major issue. In this particular case, my own lack of qualifications in this area made the outcome inevitable. However, you may find it interesting to read the Appendix “Did the Lord Institute His Supper on the Paschal Night” to Alfred Edersheim’s (7 March 1825 – 16 March 1889) book, “The Temple – Its Ministry and Services.” The entire book can be found here:
http://www.ntslibrary.com/PDF%20Books/The%20Temple%20by%20Alfred%20Edersheim.pdf
In all likelihood you already have, so it was just a thought.
Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart


Unknown said...

Lutheran Lurker: Not all of the lambs for the Passover meal were sacrificed in the Temple. Even in Jerusalem some slaughtered their own, not to speak of those who lived in the rest of the country. In fact, the ordinance for meal was made before the temple ever existed. Therefore, the celebration as instituted, to be conducted in a home, can continue to this day.
Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart