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Author Topic: Invitation to feedback on rubric  (Read 370 times) Average Rating: 0
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alldivinenow
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« on: July 06, 2013, 03:07:11 AM »

I invite feedback with your view of the legitimacy or otherwise of the following Communion rubric to be found in the service booklet produced for, and handed out to, anyone attending a Liturgy (of St Basil the Great) as part of a sequence of activities in a public Church building, described as ’within a Western context’ as well as with reference to ‘a model of the Early Church as outlined in Acts 2:42-44’ and aim ‘to create a sense of community and fellowship’:

•   MEMBERS OF ANY ORIENTAL ORTHODOX CHURCH ARE WELCOME TO APPROACH FOR PARTAKING OF THE EUCHARIST
•   FAMILIES ARE WELCOME TO APPROACH THE EUCHARIST TOGETHER
•   PLEASE TAKE A COMMUNION CORPORAL (COMMUNION CLOTH USED TO COVER THE MOUTH) FROM THE STEWARDS
•   THOSE NOT BAPTISED ARE WELCOME TO APPROACH FOR A BLESSING (PLEASE APPROACH WITHOUT A COMMUNION CORPORAL)

This rubric is clearly concerned with ‘Oriental Orthodox’ as well as other categories of people. The author is Coptic.

Does this rubric, in its four clauses, make for an aim of ‘sharing and journeying together into a tangible manifestation of God’s Kingdom… and partaking of the Mystery that was instituted as a result of Love of Father and Creator for his Children’?

The context is more than the bare bones of Divine Liturgy of St Basil the Great. The Liturgy is part of a relatively brief programme regularly taking place on a Sunday morning in a Church of England building in the UK, presumably with the permission of the relevant Church of England Bishop.

Immediately following the Liturgy food is available to attendees, who can chat informally while stood eating – or disperse. Refreshments give way, for those who want to reform as a group, to a short time of led song, exhortation, encouragement to consult and question-answering by those taking the lead.

A few notes, following, indicate some of my thoughts on the use of this rubric in the context, and given the purposes, described above:

I’m inclined to conclude this rubric is an inadequate, if judiciously worded, attempt to ‘order’ what may be a diverse group of people in terms of Church background. I would like to see it re-written, as it seems to me to cut across its context’s wider and more generous aims.

I can imagine this type of rubric may relate to historical giving or withholding of Communion, by Church leaders concerned with relationships in tension, perhaps on account of contested allegiance(s) and jurisdictions, in which the acceptability of others could not, accordingly, be assured. In other Church practice existing today one encounters such a rubric, explicit or implicit, given to worshippers attending the Church service but ordinarily involved with that of another tradition seen as distinct.

As I see it the rubric unfortunately implies that, despite a stated wish in the same service booklet to be together and have ‘all things in common’ (as is reported of the Early Church), the author means only members of the ‘Oriental Orthodox’ part of the Church are welcome for Communion.

I am not sure the Church is entitled to not welcome a Baptised adult presenting her or himself for Communion. It can be argued, can it not, that if Christ gives, who are we to withhold?
 
This rubric, in its four clauses, becomes somewhat opaque, but does seem to imply, for instance, that an (Oriental Orthodox) parent is deemed a trustworthy steward of Communion in relation to any child he or she presents with, whereas a non-Oriental-Orthodox adult Christian – presumably even if they were at the time in effect ‘vouched for’ by another (Orthodox) Christian – would not be welcome to present themselves as ‘able’ to receive Communion.
 
In comparison doesn’t God take enormous risk in Loving humanity?
 
At the very least I am not sure one part of the Church – call it ‘a’ Church if you feel you want or have to – is justified in implying the withholding of Communion from a Baptised person, for example a communicant-member of another denomination in good standing with another congregation, is an acceptable practice.
 
I attended the service and programme concerned several times, and in the event found the latterly published dichotomy, of openness and proscribing, in the rubric-in-context sufficiently disturbing that I alerted several of the people more intimately involved with these arrangements of my concern that it would likely as not put enquirers off as attract them further.

I myself have not returned to this Sunday programme since, so I look forward to your view.

Thanks in anticipation!

Vic Stevens
vicstevens2003@yahoo.com
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« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2013, 11:41:54 AM »

Honestly, your post confused me.  But I'll give it a try.

I invite feedback with your view of the legitimacy or otherwise of the following Communion rubric to be found in the service booklet produced for, and handed out to, anyone attending a Liturgy (of St Basil the Great) as part of a sequence of activities in a public Church building, described as ’within a Western context’ as well as with reference to ‘a model of the Early Church as outlined in Acts 2:42-44’ and aim ‘to create a sense of community and fellowship’:

•   MEMBERS OF ANY ORIENTAL ORTHODOX CHURCH ARE WELCOME TO APPROACH FOR PARTAKING OF THE EUCHARIST
•   FAMILIES ARE WELCOME TO APPROACH THE EUCHARIST TOGETHER
•   PLEASE TAKE A COMMUNION CORPORAL (COMMUNION CLOTH USED TO COVER THE MOUTH) FROM THE STEWARDS
•   THOSE NOT BAPTISED ARE WELCOME TO APPROACH FOR A BLESSING (PLEASE APPROACH WITHOUT A COMMUNION CORPORAL)

This rubric is clearly concerned with ‘Oriental Orthodox’ as well as other categories of people. The author is Coptic.

Assuming that this is for a canonical Coptic parish, I don't really see a problem with this.  The "blessing" for non-baptised people (and maybe non-Orthodox as well) seems like more of a borrowing from contemporary Western practices--I've never seen it in any Orthodox church anywhere. 

Quote
Does this rubric, in its four clauses, make for an aim of ‘sharing and journeying together into a tangible manifestation of God’s Kingdom… and partaking of the Mystery that was instituted as a result of Love of Father and Creator for his Children’?

...I suppose?

Quote
The context is more than the bare bones of Divine Liturgy of St Basil the Great. The Liturgy is part of a relatively brief programme regularly taking place on a Sunday morning in a Church of England building in the UK, presumably with the permission of the relevant Church of England Bishop.

Immediately following the Liturgy food is available to attendees, who can chat informally while stood eating – or disperse. Refreshments give way, for those who want to reform as a group, to a short time of led song, exhortation, encouragement to consult and question-answering by those taking the lead.

So wait: is this a canonical Coptic parish borrowing a CoE building for lack of their own, or is this a matter of Anglicans pretending to be Coptic?  If the former, it's perfectly understandable, but if the latter, well, not as much.  But food and fellowship are fine. 

Quote
A few notes, following, indicate some of my thoughts on the use of this rubric in the context, and given the purposes, described above:

I’m inclined to conclude this rubric is an inadequate, if judiciously worded, attempt to ‘order’ what may be a diverse group of people in terms of Church background. I would like to see it re-written, as it seems to me to cut across its context’s wider and more generous aims.

I can imagine this type of rubric may relate to historical giving or withholding of Communion, by Church leaders concerned with relationships in tension, perhaps on account of contested allegiance(s) and jurisdictions, in which the acceptability of others could not, accordingly, be assured. In other Church practice existing today one encounters such a rubric, explicit or implicit, given to worshippers attending the Church service but ordinarily involved with that of another tradition seen as distinct.

As I see it the rubric unfortunately implies that, despite a stated wish in the same service booklet to be together and have ‘all things in common’ (as is reported of the Early Church), the author means only members of the ‘Oriental Orthodox’ part of the Church are welcome for Communion.

It doesn't just imply that: that's exactly what it means.  We don't believe that we are the "OO part" of the Church.  We believe we are identical with the Church of Christ itself.  Outside "our" boundaries, there are Christians, but we can't say for certain that they are "part of the Church".  As a result, we can't offer Communion to people unless we are reasonably certain they are Orthodox, not under a penance or canonical discipline preventing the reception of Communion, they have prepared adequately, confessed recently, etc.  Communion is a real union with the Body of Christ, as St Paul teaches, and we believe that's not just a matter of receiving the Eucharistic Body of Christ, but of belong to the mystical Body of Christ, the Church of God. 

Quote
I am not sure the Church is entitled to not welcome a Baptised adult presenting her or himself for Communion. It can be argued, can it not, that if Christ gives, who are we to withhold?

Well, if the Eucharist flew out of the priest's hand and into some visitor's mouth, sure, I don't think anyone's going to try and stop that, they'd probably be too awestruck.  But in general, yes, the Church is entitled to not welcome a baptised adult presenting himself for Communion.  There must be a serious reason, and I mentioned some of those above.  But if the category of "baptised adults" is being extended to include non-Orthodox Christians, that's a different matter.  That touches upon the issue of their belonging or not belonging to "the Church" as well as upon the issue of the "validity" of sacraments attempted outside the Church.   
 
Quote
This rubric, in its four clauses, becomes somewhat opaque, but does seem to imply, for instance, that an (Oriental Orthodox) parent is deemed a trustworthy steward of Communion in relation to any child he or she presents with, whereas a non-Oriental-Orthodox adult Christian – presumably even if they were at the time in effect ‘vouched for’ by another (Orthodox) Christian – would not be welcome to present themselves as ‘able’ to receive Communion.

It's not that the OO parent is a trustworthy steward of Communion in relation to any child s/he presents: but s/he is certainly so with regard to his or her own child.  But even here, the child would've needed to be baptised before Communing.  They couldn't just bring their unbaptised kids up for Communion, they'd get turned away too (until that situation was rectified). 

I don't know what "vouched for" means to you, but to the Church, the only "vouching" that would allow someone to receive Communion is a reasonable certification that a person was baptised Orthodox, not under any canonical penalty or penance, made a good confession recently, and has prepared for Communion with prayer and fasting.  I can't just say that my Methodist friend is "a really good Christian guy".   
 
Quote
In comparison doesn’t God take enormous risk in Loving humanity?
 
At the very least I am not sure one part of the Church – call it ‘a’ Church if you feel you want or have to – is justified in implying the withholding of Communion from a Baptised person, for example a communicant-member of another denomination in good standing with another congregation, is an acceptable practice.
 
I attended the service and programme concerned several times, and in the event found the latterly published dichotomy, of openness and proscribing, in the rubric-in-context sufficiently disturbing that I alerted several of the people more intimately involved with these arrangements of my concern that it would likely as not put enquirers off as attract them further.

I myself have not returned to this Sunday programme since, so I look forward to your view.

Thanks in anticipation!

Vic Stevens
vicstevens2003@yahoo.com


Sure, God takes great risk in loving humanity, in a manner of speaking.  But knowing that he has entrusted the children of Adam with mysteries which, in the words of our Liturgy, would incite angels to jealousy if they were capable of such (for they cannot bear to look at him, but we carry him in our hands)--knowing and believing that makes us feel extra responsible for their stewardship.  After all, the NT is clear that the improper reception of Communion renders us liable to judgement and condemnation, and is the reason for certain sicknesses and sufferings.  God's love is a consuming fire: if we are receptive to it, it is warmth, light, love, life, joy, etc., but if we are not receptive to it in our way of life, it can just as easily be fire, destruction, terror, etc. 

If this is an actual Orthodox parish you're talking about, then the main problem I see is that you don't understand "Church" the way we do.  It's not a collective of various Jesusite denominations who work within certain fundamental beliefs and use certain fundamental texts. 

I sympathise with your feeling that the text you quoted from their booklet makes it seem like they're giving with one hand and taking with the other.  It's a scandal that we are not one.  I've been on the receiving end of that when I've been to churches where I wasn't allowed to commune for similar reasons.  It hurts.  So I'm not trying to belittle that feeling or experience.  But there are reasons why there are limitations on what we can offer non-Orthodox who come to our churches.  There are no limits on fellowship, friendship, food (!), opportunities to serve the community or be served if in need, etc.  But at the sacramental level, our "strict" rules are to prevent spiritual harm coming to those, Orthodox and non-Orthodox, who attempt to receive without the necessary preparation (not to be confused with "worthiness").   
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alldivinenow
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« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2013, 02:23:44 PM »

Thank you for taking time and trouble to consider and respond to my post.
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Carl Kraeff (Second Chance)
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« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2013, 05:15:20 PM »

The Eastern Orthodox practice is similar. Only those persons who are Eastern Orthodox and have prepared themselves by prayer, fasting, and a recent confession may receive communion.
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alldivinenow
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« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2013, 02:07:29 PM »

My thanks to you.

A thought is that the 'requirements' cited imply close knowledge of persons - perhaps geographical proximity and habitual interaction.

Another thought is that one person may be deciding the fitness or otherwise of another.

I have been recollecting that - in a context of contemporary western patterns of life, involving believers having a lifestyle involving habitually moving between and being in different localities and with varying congregational attendance - trust is needed in these matters.

Also, that nationalism plays a part in adherence. A Russian Orthodox priest-friend was scandalized that a group of Russian Orthodox monks were found to be hostile to would-be visitors, not because the persons were not Orthodox but because they were not Russian.

I would note that Roman Catholic and other Christian communities do not publicise 'practice' according to such a rubric in the way seen in Orthodox services of both Coptic and Russian varieties.
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« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2013, 03:14:56 PM »

quick note as i am busy, sorry;
it is a canonical coptic orthodox church (i know it from personal experience).
as with all orthodox churches, people have to be orthodox Christians to take Holy Communion.
this is not in order to exclude people from the blessing of Holy Communion, but in order to show people that what they are missing is the blessing of baptism (or chrismation, for those baptised) and all the advice and help that comes from living (or trying to live) an orthodox Christian life.

to take Holy Communion without being baptised, chrismated and going for regular confession, is like having the icing from the cake without the cake!
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« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2013, 03:18:39 PM »

to take Holy Communion without being baptised, chrismated and going for regular confession, is like having the icing from the cake without the cake!

When I was a child, that's all I wanted. 
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« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2013, 03:22:12 PM »

the cake in my example contains strawberries, fresh cream and honey.
and THEN there's icing on top...
 Wink

(sorry for posting that on a friday, it's not a cake for fasting days!)
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« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2013, 05:03:56 PM »

You don't say...  Wink
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