curiouser and curiouser

Today was a cathedral day.  Autumn fog turned it into a shadowy cavern where the tourists eased into the stone.

In the absence of benediction, the rose window makes a splendid monstrance.
I missed the smoke, though.

And then, at the midday eucharist, I stumbled at all the usual places.

I just don’t understand Common Worship.  There are many things I struggle with:  the heavy handed sense of unworthiness and sin; the uncertainty as to when or whether one might hope for the invocation of the Holy Spirit; the peculiar reminder of Reformation wrangling that puts the prayer of our self-offering after the reception of communion.  But today, I found myself wondering what wisdom led the C of E liturgists to abandon the idea that we might be holy and reasonable.

The old old prayer of offering — which TEC Rite 1 and the Scottish Liturgy sensibly have as part of the eucharistic prayer, and which the Prayer Book and English Office have after communion — reads:

And here, we humbly offer and present unto thee, O Lord,
ourselves, our souls and bodies,
to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice

In the order of service we used today, that became:

Through him [Christ] we offer our our souls and bodies
to be a living sacrifice.

Is holiness just too tricky?  Is the sacrifice unreasonable?
(I grant:  sometimes the sacrifice seems unreasonable)
I cannot fathom why such a beautiful prayer would be reduced.

So I went hunting.  The full prayer does indeed have a place in Common Worship — at the end of Order 2, as a post communion prayer.  But watch what happens:

And here we offer and present unto you, O Lord,
ourselves, our souls and bodies,
to be a reasonable, holy and living sacrifice;
fill us all who share in this holy communion
with your grace and heavenly blessing.

[Is this a sort of epiclesis?  does it trigger the instinctive crossing?]
[then, where did this come from? –]

Although we are unworthy, through our manifold sins,
to offer you any sacrifice,
[unworthy, still?  having consumed the body of Christ?
the taste of Christ’s body still lingering on the tongue?]

yet we pray you will accept this
the duty and service we owe.  [Hello, Anselm]
Do not weigh our merits, but pardon our offences [so was the absolution void?]
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
by whom, and with whom, and in whom,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all honour and glory be yours, almighty Father,
for ever and ever.

I’ve left out the Amen.  I just can’t bring myself to say it.  Not then, after all the confusion.  A doxology?  After communion?  Really?

I don’t understand this at all.

If you do, please explain.  If you simply want to gloat that you have a better liturgy, then that is permissible too.

5 thoughts on “curiouser and curiouser

  1. Ah, I share your view of “unworthy, still?” entirely. It puts me right off whatever liturgies I find it in – either 1970/predecessors up here, or many of the CoE services I’ve encountered.

    On the plus side, down the road from the parents (~Leeds, ish) is a CoE church I’m noticing (on my rare visits) to have liberal leanings – no more humble access barring the way between me and altar-rail – hallelujah.

  2. Tim,

    Please let me know the Church in or around Leeds. This is a serous request.

    Kimberly You are correct as usual as you know I always admit. I have come to love liturgy but dispair at those who are unable to ‘Put it across’. Not a fault that you suffer from.

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