Saturday, August 08, 2009

Lex orandi and transubstantiation

If we follow from the argument (Lex ordandi, lex credendi) that what is found in the liturgy is what is really believed, or at least the most succinct distillation of what is believed, I'm wondering how 2 crucial parts of the liturgy can permit belief in a remaining presence of bread and wine in the Sacramental meal.

Specifically, these:

1) When the communicant receives the elements, he is told, "The Body of Christ," and "The Blood of Christ." If there is a presence of both Body and bread, Blood and wine (the Lutheran doctrine), why is there no mention of the bread and wine? Most Lutherans would argue that a continuing presence of bread and wine is a confessional statement; why no mention of that in the formula?

2) The singing of the Nunc Dimittis after the Communion.

"Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace : according to thy word.
For mine eyes have seen : thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared : before the face of all people;
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles : and to be the glory of thy people Israel." (BCP, 1662)

St. Simeon, of course, had seen the Incarnate God there in the Temple. But by singing this, we are confessing not that we believe we have received, but that we have seen the Savior. "Seen" as in a visual, seeing of the Savior. We are not confessing to seeing bread or wine -- we are confessing that we have seen the Savior.

There are other questions, of course, about transubstantiation, but these seem to be important liturgical ones.

1 comment:

Dan @ Necessary Roughness said...

Interesting thoughts. I may say that the Lord does work through means, and that seeing the bread and the wine, the means tell us that it's bread and wine along with the Word which tells us it's Body and Blood.

I think I remember being taught that transubstantiation itself wasn't as big a deal as the Roman Catholic church enforcing its definition of how Jesus' words are true. Just because I don't know how his words are true doesn't mean I don't believe that his words are true.