Friday, June 27, 2014


   How does one receive the gifts of Christ Jesus? The “old man” doesn’t even want them to be sure, so we understand that our own recalcitrant nature wants only to grab and take the “way we want”…when we want [hence the refusal of many to countenance Every Sunday Mass].

   We do well to let Jesus inform us even as He continues to mold our bodies and souls in His cruciform .  The Lord tells the prickly and controlling “12”: “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.” [Lk 18. 16-17].   Certainly the paradigm for entrance into the Lord’s sheepfold is as little lambs not self sufficient Billy Goats. Passivity.

   Much has been written recently in Roman Catholic publications (especially online) about the aberration to centuries of official teaching on both the propriety and rule of Communion “on the tongue.” The Church of Trent (and long before) up until the notorious Vatican II Council knew nothing of receiving The Lord’s precious Body in the communicants hand.

   We are not Romanists and are not bound by some Ecclesial “law” but nonetheless share in their traditions of the Western patrimonies.  Save for only one (1) reference to the permissibility of communion “in the hand” by Saint Cyril of Jerusalem—and that reference coming from the disputed Fifth Mystagogical Lecture (perhaps we should say “Pseudo-Cyril”) all Church Fathers write of the Holy Communion “on the tongue” as the rule and norm.  Even Saint Basil who seems to make an exception does so only in matters of extreme emergency and persecution.

   So, while not bound by a “law” nor constrained by a virtual unanimity of Patristic consensus, we of the Evangelical Lutheran persuasion are buoyed by the traditions of 2,000 years which are meet and right.  How So?

   Novelty is to be eschewed and the “thing” should always inform the “doing.” That is, the “essence of what we believe” should be observed in what and how we “teach and confess.”

   We genuflect at the Verba not because we like ostentatious gestures and showmanship from our pastors and lay but because we truly believe we are in the presence of The Living and Present God/Man!  Might this not be a, or even “the” perfect reason to receive our Lords Immaculate Body on the tongue and not in “our” hands? Yes.

   In our age of relaxed casualness and “buddy-buddy-familiarity” might it not be salutary to let the Lord come into our sinful selves in passivity—the passivity of Holy Spirit worked faith?

   How are we fed by our loving and caring parents when we are children? Babes are fed by the hands of their parents and caregivers and do nothing save open their little mouths. How are we fed at the end our long travails when we lie dying on our beds? The old and infirm parents are fed by the hands of their dear children and grandchildren and do nothing save open their aged mouths. All sustenance is ultimately a pure gift and the receipt of Grace. Even those little birds that The Christ loves so much that not one falls without His knowledge, [Mt. 10. 29] receive their daily bread (or worm) by the act of mamma Robin dropping the life into their hungry little gullets.

   Communion “in the hand” is not a sin but does it not add to the lessening of The Mystery of the Hosts true “res?”  

   As for me and my house—we will gladly join with Leo the Great, Gregory the Great, Augustine, Ambrose, Martin Luther, Martin Chemnitz, Johann Gerhard, Wilhelm Loehe, and two millennia of Saints and simply open our mouths, tilt back our heads, and join in the great “Amen” to the words: “The Body of Christ for you.” 

--Fr. Jay Watson SSP


  1. Yet another round-tripper launched into the seats by Fr. (i.e., father et friend) J-man! But it is true. In the eyes of the Creator, we are all but receptive sheep ... or greedy goats, devouring the tin-cans they find ... or ravenous wolves, active servers of that garbage for snacks.

    In an age blinded by the "light" of self-indulgence, self-determination, rights-talk and autonomy ... the transcendent gifts of a corrupted American spirit ... it is difficult to be comfortable with passivity and obeisance. The reluctance to genuflect may have its roots in a failure to truly comprehend the Presence in God's House ... Elijah of old showed total comprehension of the "still, small Voice," not only by his moving lips, but by the cloaking of his face ... but also an innate reluctance about bending the knee, of fully testifying to the over-arching lordship of Jesus with our all. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind," the Shepherd pleads. But we live by the Enlightenment poison which declares "Out of (my) sight, out of (my) mind. It's all in the material. Even mind is piffle; it's but an epiphenomenon of gray matter. So, whatever I don't appreciate immediately with my physical senses is non-existent, or deserves no more than thirty-minutes of my attention. I have my Hebrew National franks waiting to be grilled, at home, for the picnic and the fireworks. Me bless America, my home sweet home.

    As long as its checks clear."

    The problem may be further compounded by something not found, at all, in that soberingly orthodox Lutheran Altarpiece gracing Fr. Jay's splendid comments. I am referring to the pieces of cellulose which cloak the faces of the people, as the ordained liturgist pronounces the Lessons of God. I do not the cellulose is altogether in the spirit of the great Elijah. Please understand. I am not against the reading of the Scriptures by the laity! But most of the laity are not deaf. They can hear. They have ears with intact Organs of Corti. They can hear the preaching and declaring of God's Word, by which faith is bestowed. And that man doing such, has his mouth and vocal cords and his spirit ... things seized by the Holy Ghost, to rekindle the faith in sheep who hear, and know, His Voice.

    A miracle is happening with the Lessons and the sermon, no less than what happens at the Holy Mother Church's font or at the Lord's Table. This miracle is captured by that Danish Altarpiece. The point of liturgical ceremony, says the Confessions, is decorum, decency, and the teaching of God's mysteries to the laity.

    We, as certified sheep, are to hear the Word spoken by the Word's chosen instrument. In the House of God, we are to listen to and transcendentally respect the Lord behind that chosen vessel ... not bury our faces in a piece of paper on which the three lessons are printed. No more than the Galileans preferred to unroll their scrolls, or attend to their text-messages, as the Lord spoke the Beatitudes or, from a few fragments of bread and fish, fed His thousands.

    I have witnessed called Christian Day school teachers bury their faces in ceremonial cellulose, the texts of the day, as the Pastor (under-shepherd) intones the Word. Liturgical ceremony teaches. What this pietistic maneuver teaches is that I, the layman, need not give attention to the icon of the Lord. I can look to myself, as I grab and rustle the paper, and wonder when the next protestant/pietistic Conventicle is scheduled.

    I may be wrong, or on the far-edge of things, like a latter-day Flacius. But I think the print-outs are purposed to study, and review, the Word of the day during the remainder of the now-dawning week. Or to serve those saints in attendance, who have neuro-sensory hearing losses because of a dismally fallen world. But those that have ears to hear, let them hear.

    Especially those ears of the "called" school teachers.

  2. Again, as always...I wish I HAD WRITTEN THAT (Herr Doktor's magesterial comment). I am greatly thankful for his confession and praxis. We missed you deeply at our recent retreat Dr. year, Deo Volente. :D

  3. Dear Fr. Jay,

    I missed you all, too, as dear brothers and fathers; fellow companions and travelers in Lord Christ. I'm afraid Clinic tasks suddenly demanded attention, as I'm planning to fling aside the vocational, single-serpented staff of Asklepios in but a few months! Now this is a very poor excuse for going AWOL, I recognize, but the boss has me on a short leash. I'm the only one who can write 'scripts. But as I said, a new horizon lies ahead, with its comparative freedoms. As I understand it, there ARE real benefits which come with aging, beyond of course government dependency and the senior coffee at Mickey D's. Like, I can be even MORE grouchy and demanding, and sweetly thence blame it on lumbago. Or on poor hearing, like an elementary school teacher at Conventicle.

    In case any is reading this, since they are clearly masters of such task in the pew ... oh, dang, it's my back AGAIN!!!

    So next year, for sure ... and D.V., I fully intend to turn my eyes ... in blessed communal retreat, together with you guys .... towards the Brazen Serpent Who only can save, both temporally and eternally.

    (Excuse me, Fr., for a moment; I'm talking to the sons of Elymas bar-Jesus. That's right, you lurking protestant-Baptist rascals ... the pole WASN'T naked. And it constituted a divinely chosen, physical means of God through which He saved His people ... a physical means accompanied by a Divine promise, to which the people's faith was directed. Sound familiar? No? Well, that's because you're convinced that a certain specific means of grace is nothing but a work which fulfills a New Testament Law, a public testimony spot-lighting your sweet-smelling obedience and virtue. Thus, you are as semi-Pelagian as the largest protestant body in the world, the Church of Trent ... only fundamentally lamer, blinder, more guilt-stricken, and altogether more pinched-nose when it comes to things which God has clearly given to us for the sake of our tummies [1 Tim 5:23] and for our spirits [Ps 104:15]. That's right, Calvinist and crypto-Calvinist deformers of all that is good, that's what I said.)

    So where was I, Fr. Jay? Ah, yes. God bless the Society of St. Polycarp! It's a cheering thing to read the highly edifying, instructive and masterful writings of the brethren. It's a humbling experience, too, in a very good and personally beneficial sense. In this God's court of prized kings, princes and gods, I fully realize that I am but the jester. And I'm very happy and pleased that Fr. Beane called attention to the Society's existence, over at Gottesdienst O.L., through the citation of Br. Dcn Gaba's ever-splendid writing on ceremony. What an amazing chap!

    Yes, yes, you TOO Fr, Larry!

    Pax et gaudium, dear fellow redeemed!