The words of eucharist remember the past event of the passion of Christ who, in the same night that he was betrayed, took bread and gave you thanks; he broke it and gave it to his disciples
In the eucharist we remember the incarnation and the passion and death of Christ. We remember the last supper in the upper room and the chain of events that followed it: supper with the disciples was followed by the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus’ arrest and trial, his being scourged, stripped, dragged out of the city and of all human society and put to death on the cross. We call all this the ‘passion’: the passion tells us what the incarnation is; it tells us how deep the incarnation is, and that the incarnation goes down all the way to the bottom. The incarnation is the meeting of God with man, and the passion is the incarnation in miniature. It shows that God really has met man and is with him, and that this is irrevocable now, for not even death can undo it. The passion is the unchangeable fact of God’s being with man and therefore of his dedicating himself and giving himself to man.
Jesus is about to be handed over. To show that in this way God is handing himself over to man, Jesus hands this bread over to his disciples. As this bread is in their hands, and their teeth, so the Son of God is in the hands of man. Christ is about to be broken and divided up, so he breaks and divides this bread. He performs this handing over and being broken up in miniature. In this way he shows us that this did not happen to him without his knowledge or consent. It looks as though it is by his own power that man is taking Christ into his hands to do something appalling to him in which Jesus is simply the victim. But, by playing this all out before hand, Jesus shows that in all this action in which man’s violence rolls out, man is not master of this event at all. It is Christ who gives the instruction to ‘go and do what you are going to do’, to Judas. In the last supper Jesus demonstrates with this bread what is going to happen so we can see he took this role in it for himself, and so that in these events in which he is entirely passive, he is also entirely willing and active. He is actively passive. It is not man who is in charge – not Judas, not the crowd, not the Sanhedrin or high priest or Pilate – but Christ.
Christ breaks open this bread, tears pieces off and so divides it and hands it over to his friends, because he is going to open, and break and divide, hand over and share. He opens, divides, hands over and shares himself. What we are getting in all this, what we are being offered, is not this or that thing – it is Christ himself. God is given to man for God places himself in our hands. Our time here and now in this eucharist, is superimposed on that moment then. All the events that follow it, the Mount of Olives, the garden, arrest, passion and crucifixion, all the events of the passion, are contained in the Last Supper. That eucharistic meal is the whole incarnation and passion of Christ brought together. These two times come into synch: our time comes into synch with the master fly-wheel which is Christ’s time. The eucharist is the events of the passion, and the eucharistic service superimposes on our time these events of Christ’s passion. As a result we are able to follow Christ, and watch this offering and giving of God to man, from a distance. His passion is the frame into which all the events of our life fit, so that included within the events of his life, the events of our lives be raised and redeemed.
These “liberals”, as they like to be called, who constitute the hierarchy detest the Christian past and dismiss our forefathers in the faith as “primitive”. Really they are old-fashioned Whigs in new Guardianista clothing – apostles of the discredited doctrine of “progress”. And God help anyone who stands in the way of these ecclesiastical totalitarians as they bully conservative clergymen and steamroller traditional parishes into adopting their puerile new versions of the Bible and their trashy modern liturgies.
The modernisers among the bishops and in the General Synod have dominated the English church these last forty years and all but destroyed it. They have denied or distorted every cardinal doctrine of the faith. The Resurrection of Our Lord has been reduced to a subjective feeling of cheered-upness among the disciples. The Virgin Birth has been dismissed as a mistaken reading of the Book of Isaiah. They have swallowed whole the notion of secularisation
The result of all this iconoclasm is that people have voted with their feet and the congregations have diminished spectacularly. Where they have not diminished but increased and thrived is precisely in those churches so despised by A.N.Wilson: the Bible-based evangelicals and the traditional anglocatholics and high church. I must say that one of the great joys among traditional believers these days is the spectacle we can now enjoy of the liberal hierarchy’s Pyrrhic victory. At last there they sit in full control of the Church of England – except that the only meaningful parts of the church have gone their own ways, leaving the liberal bullies with no one to boss about.
I have been a priest for 35 years and watched the tyranny of apostates in high places and I know that people do not want a pale, euphemistic religion in which the gospel is reduced to a metaphor for the social policies of the soft Left. But they will come to church to be moved and stirred by words that are worth their weight in glory and to hear sound teaching.
Revd Peter Mullen at the Social Affairs Unit
What makes monotheism a potential ally of humane liberalism is its high anthropology. Historically, of course, this liberal tradition grew up and out of a Christian monotheistic context; so its admiration of human dignity is no coincidence. Nor is it a coincidence, therefore, that Habermasâ?? new-found appreciation for religion comes at a time when he is struggling to articulate reasons against genetic engineering for non-therapeutic purposes, which he deems an assault on the fundamental dignity of the human individualâ??s freedom. Certain versions of monotheismâ??not least, certain versions of Christian monotheismâ?? support the idea of human dignity; which is why humane liberal philosophers on both sides of the Atlanticâ??if not yet on both sides of the English Channelâ??have been edging toward it in recent years.
Some philosophers, however, go further. They see in monotheism not only a support for equal human dignity, but perhaps the only support. In his recent study of John Locke, the legal and political philosopher, Jeremy Waldron, observes how silent modern philosophers have been in explaining the equal dignity that they assume all human persons share. He then goes on to demonstrate how Lockeâ??s understanding of such dignity is irreducibly theological; and he ends up by stating that â??I actually donâ??t think it is clear that weâ??nowâ??can shape and defend an adequate conception of basic human equality apart from some religious foundationâ??.
Niger Biggar’s Inaugural Lecture at the (Oxford) McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics and Public Life
These cases are not aberrations. They are the outcome of a process that has been going on for the past three decades and more, in which the fundamental values of civilised society have been systematically trashed and up-ended. They are the result of the doctrine that all lifestyles must be considered equal and that no one has right to pass judgment on anyone else. Thus, women had a God-given right to bear babies out of wedlock. Stigma and shame were considered an affront to individual rights; disapproval of adultery or elective lone parenthood were dismissed as ‘Old Testament fundamentalism’.
Government policy, egged on by activist judges who deliberately voided family law of ‘moral judgments’ on the basis that there was no right or wrong in family life because it was always just too complicated to untangle, accordingly penalised marriage, rewarded adultery, further incentivised lone parenthood and systematically normalised irregular relationships.
The outcome is a shattered social landscape of lost and abandoned children, raised in households of gross emotional chaos and physical and moral squalor. Ignoring the fact that this underclass has become detached from the most basic values of civilised life, the so-called progressive intelligentsia declares that its only problem is ‘poverty’. Accordingly, it has supplied lone mothers with benefits on the basis that they were most in need. The result has been financial incentives for unmarried women to have multiple children – whose primary need was to have a committed father and stable family life, the very need government policy ensured would never be met.
Melanie Phillips The barbarism of ideologues
What matters at this stage is the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us. And if the tradition of the virtues was able to survive the horrors of the last dark ages, we are not entirely without grounds for hope. This time however the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time. And it is our lack of consciousness of this that constitute part of the our predicament. We are waiting…for another – doubtless very different – St Benedict.
Alasadair MacIntyre After Virtue p.263
Local forms of community? The Church, of course – the community that produces saints, like Benedict. What we need is monks, that is, people solely dedicated to singing the praises of God.
Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation, through your goodness we have this bread to offer which earth has given and human hands have made. It will become for us the Bread of Life…
The minister prays that, whatever we bring, the Lord will take it from us; that is, whoever we are and whatever condition we are in, the Lord will receive us. Christ lifts man to God and God receives man from Christ. God has taken hold of man, holds him now, and will hold him finally in an eternal relationship. In this eucharist Christ offers all mankind back to God and sustains him in the communion of God, so in our eucharistic prayers we celebrate the past, and the present and future action of Christ for us. And at the same time Christ offers all creation back to God, and God receives it and affirms it so that all creation is sustained in their holy communion. In this prayer and act of elevation we have a snapshot of the eternal relationship of man to God: we are lifted up and we are received.
The eucharist is an offering from Christ to God, and in communion with Christ, it is also our offering, of ourselves and of all creation. We offer ourselves as his body, that is, as him. These elements of bread and wine represent all creation and us in it. And because they come from Christ, and represent us, they are received by God. And because they are received by God, they are redeemed and made holy. So in the eucharist we are being offered to God – Christ is presenting man to God and God receives him.
But the offering is also made to us. At that Passover supper celebrated with the disciples in that upper room, Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to them. So here and now, he brings us in, sits us down, breaks this bread, and gives it to us. He feeds us and waits on us. The food he offers us comes from this creation that he has prepared for us and placed us in: all creation is this garden which he has laid out for us. And he not only serves us at this table, but he also eats with us, and by this act he makes us his equals. We are not left out, but invited to sit down at his table, so that, though unholy, we are made whole and holy simply by being near him. He has said the word, and so we are healed. So, happy are those who are called to his supper…
New legislation may be needed to curb the activities of informal sharia courts that are operating in Britain, said the organisers of the One Law For All campaign, which was launched at the House of Lords this week. Maryam Namazie, commented that sharia law was undesirable in any form as it sets up conflicts between both human rights and civil law in Britain. â??Even in civil matters, Sharia law is discriminatory, unfair and unjust, particularly against women and children,â?? she said. Of particular concern was whether women were being coerced into using these courts and tribunals against their best interests… Gina Khan, a secular Muslim who has been fighting for justice on these issues, spoke of her own and her familyâ??s experiences at the hands of sharia justice. She spoke passionately about the way extremists within the Muslim community were exerting control through giving the impression that â??real Muslimsâ?? would settle their disputes using only â??Godâ??s Sacred Lawâ??. This, she said, led to injustice to Muslim women, many of whom didnâ??t know they had rights in British civil courts. Keith Porteous Wood, Executive Director of the National Secular Society, said: â??Sharia is becoming a growth industry in Britain, putting growing pressure on vulnerable people in the Muslim community to use sharia councils and tribunals to resolve disputes and family matters, when they could use the civil courts. Sharia â??lawâ?? is not arrived at by the democratic process, is not Human Rights compliant, and there is no right of appeal.â??
The idea that any action, however extreme or disruptive or even murderous, is justified if it averts failure or defeat for a particular belief or a particular religious group is not really consistent with the conviction that our failure does not mean God’s failure. Indeed, it reveals a fundamental lack of conviction in the eternity and sufficiency of the object of faith.
Religious violence suggests an underlying religious insecurity. When different communities have the same sort of conviction of the absolute truth of their perspective, there is certainly an intellectual and spiritual challenge to be met; but the logic of this belief ought to make it plain that there can be no justification for the sort of violent contest in which any means, however inhuman, can be justified by appeal to the need to â??protect Godâ??s interestsâ??. Even to express it in those terms is to show how absurd it is. The eternal God cannot need â??protectionâ?? by the tactics of human violence. This point is captured in the words of Jesus before the Roman governor: â??My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fightâ?? (John 19.36).
Archbishop of Canterbury – Response to ‘A Common Word between Us’
Whatever the origins and convolutions of the (complex and often incoherent) intellectual and emotional background that implicitly, if not explicitly, endorses atomisation and household fragmentation, the foremost element has been the animus against marriage and two-parent families. Anti-family activists have expressly sought to undermine any economic, social and legal need and support for marriage by getting any privileges granted to married couples, including tax allowances, withdrawn, and recognition extended to different types of households and relationships. This has reached the Orwellian stage of editing references to marriage out of the lexicon, led by government removing the term ‘marital status’ from official documentation and replacing husband/wife/spouse with ‘partner’, which assimilates them with cohabiters and flatmates. Since the control of language brings the control of thought, which brings the control of action, so there is (hopefully) the perception, acceptance and practice of a world of provisional and fluid relationships, where men move around siring and ‘parenting’ children as ‘partners’ of essentially lone mothers. This is just about the most adverse environment for child welfare one could create.
Patricia Morgan The War between the Family and the State
Northern Europe’s suicidal infatuation with secularisation is not typical. And even in Northern Europe, in England, where the full faith is taught the church is growing…
What we have seen these last forty years is la trahison des clercs: the people appointed to be the guardians of our spiritual welfare have betrayed us….
The church authorities have caved in. The Church has resigned. We have been penetrated by the ideas that are working against us…
How long before I am carted from the pulpit and thrown into jail for preaching that Christian marriage is not the moral equivalent of sodomy? Don’t laugh – not when you read of how the Bishop of Hereford was fined Ł47,000 and sent on a re-education course because he refused to employ a practising homosexual in work with children in his diocese. Politicians and clergy who were appointed to defend what is of value in our common life deny and denigrate these things….
The antidote to the results of the nihilistic iconoclasm which began a generation ago and which now engulf us is the re-Christianisation of the West. This is what the Cardinal told us in his Corbishley lecture. It is what the Holy Father tells us every day and it is what is being preached by a few clear heads and devout spirits in the other Christian churches – such as the Bishops of Rochester and London. Brethren, pray.
Peter Mullen St Michael’s Cornhill – Sermons 2008