We deny to claim "any Superiority to ourself
to defyne, decyde, or determyn any Article or Poynt
of the Christian Fayth and Relligion,
or to chang any Ancient Ceremony of the Church
from the Forme before received and observed
by the Catholick and Apostolick Church."

Norman Simplicity

Norman Simplicity
Click image for original | © Vitrearum (Allan Barton)

Monday, June 30, 2014


A priest told me of his seminary days [GTS], when a clerical instructor of the catholic party was celebrating. Right before the 'great action', he turned and uttered "The Lord be with you." Immediately aware of his gaffe (and presumably imagining the disapproving stares and pursed lips of the opposing camp), he fumbled, stuttered, and then could only manage: "Oh Dear! The Lord NOT be with you."

Do we know for certain why the formula dropped out? Something on Cranmer's mind? Does it even matter? Well the question about the proper translation from the Latin has brought it all back again.

I'll skip the ACNA and focus on Father Z's dichotomization:

On the one hand, some argue in favor of the Semitism, the Hebrew view of “spirit” as simply being the person, “you”.

On the other hand, some argue in favor of the developing Christian understanding of the Eucharistic liturgy as Christ’s Sacrifice and of the significance of Holy Orders.

I suspect that if we were to quiz the first group, we would find a somewhat more “horizontal” theology, an emphasis on “liturgy” as “meal”, Eucharist as “thanksgiving” and perhaps a less sharp discernment of the roles of clergy and laity ... The second group would probably hold to a more “vertical” theology and stress the sacrificial dimension of Mass as well as a clearer distinction of roles of clergy and laity.

The debate surely reveals the differences of cultures within the Roman Church, as well as the problems involved with bringing that which is ancient, coming from a culture long gone, into the present in a way that isn’t entirely foreign.

But neither the matter nor the discussion rests there. He continues:

Regarding our text of interest, “et cum spiritu tuo”, there is a deep tradition, attested to in the Fathers of the Church (e.g., the preaching of St. John Chrysostom – +407), whereby spiritus is identified as a characteristic which distinguishes the ordained from the laity [my emphasis].

This is not, as some might riposte, a kind of “clericalism”, an exaltation of the ordained over and against the non-ordained.

When the congregation (which might include clergy) say “and with your spirit”, they recognize the special role the bishop or priest (at times deacon) has in the sacred action. This is not an exaltation of the clergy. Spiritus is that characteristic which marks certain men for ministry in the interest of the whole Body of Christ, the Church [his emphasis].

Well, now, there is certainly no use in introducing duelling Church Fathers to this discussion. And I certainly don't know the literature well enough to do so effectively anyway. But I found the following passage pretty interesting, nonetheless. [I have broken it into sections, as it is difficult to parse otherwise.]

[3.] Certain it is at least that the prayer of the churches loosed Peter from his chains, opened the mouth of Paul; their voice in no slight degree equips those that arrive unto spiritual rule. Therefore indeed it is that both he who is going to ordain calleth at that time for their prayers also, and that they add their votes and assent by acclamations which the initiated know: for it is not lawful before the uninitiated to unbare all things.

But there are occasions in which there is no difference at all between the priest and those under him; for instance, when we are to partake of the awful mysteries; for we are all alike counted worthy of the same things: not as under the Old Testament [when] the priest ate some things and those under him others, and it was not lawful for the people to partake of those things whereof the priest partook. But not so now, but before all one body is set and one cup.

And in the prayers also, one may observe the people contributing much. For in behalf of the possessed, in behalf of those under penance, the prayers are made in common both by the priest and by them; and all say one prayer, the prayer replete with pity. Again when we exclude from the holy precincts those who are unable to partake of the holy table, it behoveth that another prayer be offered, and we all alike fall upon the ground, and all alike rise up. Again, in the most awful mysteries themselves, the priest prays for the people and the people also pray for the priest; for the words, “with thy spirit,” are nothing else than this.

The offering of thanksgiving again is common: for neither doth he give thanks alone, but also all the people. For having first taken their voices, next when they assent that it is “meet and right so to do,” then he begins the thanksgiving. And why marvellest thou that the people any where utter aught with the priest, when indeed even with the very Cherubim, and the powers above, they send up in common those sacred hymns?

Now I have said all this in order that each one of the laity also may be wary, that we may understand that we are all one body, having such difference amongst ourselves as members with members; and may not throw the whole upon the priests but ourselves also so care for the whole Church as for a body common to us. For this course will provide for our greater safety, and for your greater growth unto virtue. Here, at least, in the case of the Apostles, how frequently they admitted the laity to share in their decisions. For when they ordained the seven, (Acts vi. 2, 3.) they first communicated with the people; and when Peter ordained Matthias, with all that were then present, both men and women. (Acts i. 15, &c.)

For here is no pride of rulers nor slavishness in the ruled; but a spiritual rule, in this particular usurping most, in taking on itself the greater share of the labor and of the care which is on your behalf, not in seeking larger honors. For so ought the Church to dwell as one house; as one body so to be all disposed; just as therefore there is both one Baptism, and one table, and one fountain, and one creation, and one Father.

Why then are we divided, when so great things unite us; why are we torn asunder? For we are compelled again to bewail the same things, which I have lamented often. The state in which we are calls for lamentation; so widely are we severed from each other, when we ought to image the conjunction of one body. For in this way will he that is greater, be able to gain even from him that is less.

Our priests are priests after the New Law. Thus, we seem to have here an exchange -- a ritual salutation -- between those in major orders and those not: but its direct reference is to "spiritual [and liturgical] authority" and not the ability to "confect" the sacrament. That must be, after all, the significance of including deacons and excluding subdeacons (and those below). Or so it seems, to me.

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