Thursday, July 24, 2014

"from the hand of another"

     "In this pristine vision of the Eucharist, Holy Communion is not just the sacrament of personal communion with the Risen Lord of each of the baptized individually.  It is, rather, the sacrament of our communion with one another in the Body of that Risen Lord to form the one Mystical Body of Christ, a body at once ecclesial and eucharistic.  That this was the meaning of eucharistic koinonia in the early church has been shown beyond cavil.  The sense of this was so strong that in an earlier age none of the clergy concelebrating the Eucharist, not even the pope of Rome or the patriarch of Constantinople, served themselves Holy Communion.  Rather, they all received it from the hand of another, as I have shown in several studies.  This remained the general rule in most communion rites of East and West right up through the Middle Ages:  Holy Communion was not taken, not even by the higher clergy, but given and received.  For Communion is at once a ministry and a gift and a sharing.  As such, it was administered to each communicant by the hand of another as from Christ."

      Robert F. Taft, "'Communion' from the tabernaclea liturgico-theological oxymoron," Worship 88, no 1 (January 2014):  17 (2-22).

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