07 September 2009

Subterranean scribbling: A little child...

...approaches the Eucharist in the arms of his mother. He has been baptized in the name of the Triune God and, theologically, he is said to possess the faith in its fullness. "The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these," and unless we who are older become like him, we cannot see the Kingdom of Heaven. He has even had the "confirmation prayer" prayed over him at the end of the rite.

To each person near him come the words, "Given for you, for the forgiveness of sins."

But when the host and chalice come to him, he is passed over.

The words are Jacob's: "he is a member of the body of Christ."

But the hands are Esau's: he is not communed.

And it is useless to talk about "earlier" communion. Does baptism give what it says, or not? If it does, there is no reason to refuse what is said to be the body of Christ to those who are his members. Such communion is not 'open,' since such recipients are equally members of the parish in question as their older fellows.

This is the kind of problem that's led many away from Lutheranism, for all its good, to the Church. One can destroy forests with the trees sacrificed to books and articles on various points of theology. But such arguments arise from faith; they rarely lead to faith. What leads one to reflect and to reexamine are these crushingly existential problems. "How can I refuse one whom I say that the Lord himself has received?"


Benjamin Harju said...

The denial of infants to Christ's Body and Blood is becoming quite the wake-up call for many in Lutheranism. This issue was one of my first "red flags" about Lutheranism, that somehow they had not "reformed" the Church the way they claimed they did - especially since the practice of denying infants communion didn't stick out to them as contrary to the Lutheran Gospel. Rather what you got was a new theology to back up the aberrant medieval practice of denying communion (i.e. be old enough to examine yourself). This was a red flag that the reformation efforts may have been a re-writing of Christianity itself, not a reforming. It's hard to get around 1000 years of communing infants, not to mention that the Orthodox have always done so. It's a real big red flag, and it indicates there's potentially more "red flags" under the surface. It's easy to take this stuff for granted, but fewer and fewer people are.

There's a lot to appreciate about Lutheranism, but this isn't to be included!

Trent said...

For me, this was certainly the issue that as a Lutheran, made my study of Orthodoxy move from studying it like it was some Platonic Republic thought experiment to a weekly reality. My young daughter had been baptized one week and affectively excommunicated the next . As I carried her to her first communion in the Orthodox Church, I wept with joy the entire way up to the chalice.
Trent Sebits

oruaseht said...

You're post is true. So very, very, very true. It cuts me to the core and addresses my present reality. I am convicted and saddened, yet filled with hope.

I read a book by Fr. Peter Gilquist that spoke of a time when a large number of protestant congregations were welcomed into the Church. Is it possible for this to happen again?? Imagine if it did, and many more people came to the knowledge of the truth? Imagine if people had their eyes opened to another way of looking at the Scriptures and the life of the Church. But who will do this if they are abandoned?

Infants learn to crawl before they walk. Lutherans do too...

George Patsourakos said...

A priest or minister should never deny an infant, who has been baptized, the Body and Blood of Christ.

Benjamin Harju said...

Exactly. Imagine the conscience trouble that starts growing when a minister, who has been firmly taught to refuse infants to communion, begins to suspect that such a practice is wrong (to put it gently). Usually ministers in this situation - non-Orthodox - not only are taught to refuse infants to the Eucharist, but their people also have been taught that infants have no place at the Eucharist.