Celebrating the Eucharist: A Practical Ceremonial Guide for Clergy and Other Liturgical Ministers

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Overview

In this first new Eucharistic customary in nearly 20 years, Patrick Malloy, an Episcopal priest and liturgical scholar, presents a clear, illustrated guide for the presider and other leaders of the liturgy, contemporary in approach but based on ancient and classic principles of celebration.

The 1979 Book of Common Prayer, like its predecessors, is long on telling the Church what to say, and short on telling it what to do. This leaves those who "choreograph" Prayer Book liturgies with a complex task and a powerful influence over the faith of the Church. The author begins with a concise theology of the liturgy that underpins all of his specific directives in the book.

Contents include: Theological and liturgical principles; Liturgical ministry and liturgical ministers; Liturgical space; Vesture, vessels, and other liturgical objects; The liturgical year; The shape of the liturgy; The sung liturgy and singing during the liturgy; The order of the Eucharist (the "heart" of the book); and The celebration of Baptism during the Eucharist.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780898695625
  • Publisher: Church Publishing, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/1/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition Large Print
  • Pages: 218
  • Sales rank: 580,577
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.48 (d)

Read an Excerpt

CELEBRATING THE EUCHARIST

A Practical Ceremonial Guide for Clergy and Other Liturgical Ministers


By Patrick Malloy

Church Publishing Incorporated

Copyright © 2007 Patrick Malloy
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-89869-807-7


Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS


In October 2006, the government of North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test in direct defiance of a United Nations resolution. As the nations of the world, individually and in council, renounced this apparently hostile act, the government of North Korea led the populace through a series of elaborate, highly sensual, and carefully choreographed rites. These were secular liturgies. By day, thousands of soldiers marched in perfect goosestep before monumental portraits of the president, Kim Jong-il. By night, hundreds of thousands of marchers who had been rehearsed for months arrayed themselves, each holding a blazing torch, in perfect formation across the North Korean countryside. None of this was spontaneous. It was highly liturgical.

These demonstrations, like all political demonstrations, were meant to have a twofold effect: to express something and to impress something. The North Korean rituals were designed to express the supposed pride of the people in their government and its nuclear achievement and, at the same time, to instill in the people pride for their government and its nuclear achievement. These two effects were not separate in time, but simultaneous. The set of claims that was being expressed by the populace and the set of claims that was being instilled in the populace were identical, and the medium by which they were expressed and instilled was a singular medium. The dynamic was perfectly symbiotic. As the rite was enacted, one can assume, the Koreans' pride swelled, and as the Koreans' pride swelled, the rites gained a fervor that no amount of rehearsal could ever have fomented. To say which came first, the rite or the pride, is as senseless as to rule in favor of the chicken or the egg. The ritual expression of pride and the pride itself arose together in one seamless movement.

This same symbiotic dynamic is operative in the Christian liturgy. The relationship between common prayer and common belief is dynamic. The title of Leonel Mitchell's famous book Praying Shapes Believing is true. The converse is also true: Believing shapes praying. And so, as on that day in North Korea, the liturgy both expresses and instills a set of beliefs and, more importantly, a worldview that most of the time is not even conscious to the participants.

The first Book of Common Prayer was created precisely because the medieval rites it replaced did not embody the emergent and officially sanctioned beliefs of the English Church. In other words, the medieval rites expressed what had become an unacceptable worldview and they instilled it in the people. The reformers knew that reformed theology would never take root among people who were enacting unreformed rites. And so the rites were changed. The result was a collection of liturgies that both expressed and taught a worldview.

The liturgies Christians celebrate today have the same dynamic effect. That is why it is worth spending so much time and reading so many words exploring what takes just over an hour in a congregation's busy week. Nothing is more important to the life of a community than what happens during that one hour on Sunday. At the most pragmatic level, the Sunday liturgy is the only time in the regular life of a community when everyone gathers. From Sunday to Sunday, individual members of the community and subgroups within the community live out their particular vocations within the baptismal vocation. On Sunday, however, the Body of Christ—precisely as the Body, precisely as the community of the baptized in all of its diversity—experiences itself in its totality. In this way, the Sunday Eucharist is a pivotal moment, both in the church's expression of what it is and in being formed into what it is.

Here is a concrete example of how this dynamic can come into play with real consequences in the life of a real parish. If the Sunday liturgy is largely a clerical affair done by the priest for the people, so that the people are mere responders or observers rather than key actors, the chances that the parish will grow into a group of integrated, self-starting, empowered ministers is greatly decreased. The liturgy will have expressed a worldview and simultaneously instilled a belief that "Father knows best," or "The priest has all the power," or "Our job as baptized people is to wait for the clergy to speak so that we will know how to respond," or "We lay people know how to take care of the nuts and bolts of this operation but when it comes to God, that's better left to the professionals." There will always be a small group of people in any congregation who, because of theological education, personal history, or one-on-one relationships with the clergy, will be able to overcome the messages such a liturgy expresses and impresses. But the liturgy is precisely common prayer, expressing and creating a common life. For the majority of the worshipping community, the liturgy's message is not easily resisted.

There will also always be those in any Sunday assembly who are not members of the church, but seekers who have come hoping to find something that will give their lives meaning and direction. They are true participants, but they usually keep a safe distance, often literally, from the rest of the group. The Sunday Eucharist paints a picture for them of what the church is—or, more truly, what the church aspires to be. It is not the only place they could explore the church. They could visit the parish soup kitchen, for example, and see the church as a force for social change and compassion. They could sit in on a midweek reading group and experience the church as a community of learning and exploration. They could observe the children's Sunday school and see the church as an agency that cares for the vulnerable and includes everyone, regardless of age. At the Sunday Eucharist, though, all of what the seeker might see in any of those venues is on display at one moment, and more. What the seeker sees will not be perfect, because no community is perfect, but the seeker sees what this imperfect community is striving to become, what it imagines when it pictures life in the reign of God.

The Sunday assembly of the church, then, is the most important moment in the church's relationship with itself and in its relationship with the world. Done well, ministering at the Sunday Eucharist facilitates the church's seeing and experiencing itself as the Body it is growing into, and, at the same time, showing the world an image of how human beings live when God's kingdom comes on earth as it is in heaven. The liturgy, in other words, is both formative and evangelical. Experiencing itself at its best, the community will be inspired to conversion. Showing itself at its best, the community will inspire others to conversion. In the liturgical dynamic, then, formation and evangelism are fused. Sunday is the day when the church "comes home," and Sunday is the day when the church invites seekers to "come and see."

For Anglican Christians, the liturgy, especially the Eucharist, is the central moment in the weekly life of the community. The liturgy is like a lens through which Anglicans view the world. Pressed to encapsulate what they believe, Anglicans do not usually turn to doctrinal formulae or the writings of founding theologians. They turn to the liturgy. Often they quote a simplified version of the dictum of Prosper of Aquitaine, Lex orandi legem credendi statuat, that is, the law of prayer establishes the law of belief. Common prayer establishes common belief. It is equally true, as we have seen, that common belief establishes common prayer. How Anglicans pray and how they believe are mirror images of one another.

The liturgy is not static and timeless, embodying eternal truths for the ages. It is organic. It both shapes the church's perceptions and is shaped by the church's perceptions. It is the crucible where the past and the present meet for Anglicans, and where they are melded into a new thing, continuous with the past and yet divergent from it in significant ways. This dynamic relationship between theology and liturgy is not enacted at the upper levels of church government, but in the parishes. The academy and the various authoritative national bodies are key in monitoring, sifting, and judging what is happening in local parishes, but the parishes are the crucible in which common prayer is being forged—and increasingly so. If this were not true, parish liturgical ministers would not matter much. Moreover, books like this would not be necessary. Liturgical communities could simply be told precisely what to do by some appointed authority, and the last word would have been said. In fact, however, the interaction between liturgy and belief happens within the liturgy as it is celebrated. It is essentially a grassroots, parochial phenomenon. The dynamic is not set in motion at the printing press.

While Anglicans define themselves in terms of liturgical prayer more than most other Christian traditions do, the lex orandi, lex credendi, lex orandi dynamic is universal, at work in every Christian tradition, even those that would deny they are liturgical. It is at work even in traditions that disdain the very word. Even communities claiming to worship in complete spontaneity actually use stock phrases and repeat certain behaviors, perhaps unaware that they are doing so. It is an anthropological and sociological fact that if ritual patterns do not evolve in a group, the group will not survive. People internalize and then externalize the rules and patterns of their community, even if they think they are following no rules or patterns. Non-liturgical Christians actually have a liturgy, even if they call it by another name.

At the other end of the spectrum from "non-liturgical" Christians are those who (like Anglicans) are intentionally and proudly liturgical. The Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and, increasingly, some mainline Protestant churches are consciously "liturgical." They pray according to an ordo, a pattern of worshipping that is inscribed in officially disseminated books. They look to the texts of their liturgical books, as they might to the texts of Scripture or the writings of their founding theologians, to define what their particular tradition holds to be true. More than texts come into play, however, in the liturgy. The liturgy is not the script that directs it; the liturgy is the actual event.

At some level, those who shape the liturgy and those who willingly participate in it instinctively know that the liturgy's words are hardly the whole of the lex orandi. They know that the architectural setting, the physical artifacts, and the bodily acts of the liturgy bear at least as much meaning and have at least as strong an impact as the liturgy's words. Riots spilled from English churches into the streets when the nineteenth-century Oxford Movement and, more directly, the concurrent Cambridge Movement set about reforming the church's buildings, sacred objects, and gestures. Instinctively the people knew that a new theological mindset was emerging and that it was being promulgated through visual, tactile, kinesthetic, and even olfactory channels. All of this was undeniably happening even though not a word of the Prayer Book had been changed. Parliament debated, Anglicans hurled anathemas back and forth, and Christians judged one another worthy of hell, not because anyone was playing with texts, but because they were toying with liturgical ceremonial.

All of this—Gothic arches; altars fenced with rails and screens; altar candles and mass vestments; unleavened bread and incense; priests facing eastward from the west side rather than priests facing southward from the narrow north side—all of this signaled that a fundamental theological shift was underway. Some people were willing to fight for it and just as many were willing to fight against it. No matter which side they found themselves on, however, they knew that the essential character of common prayer was being radically changed, even though not a letter was being added to or subtracted from in the Prayer Book. True, some Tractarians and Anglo-Catholics did insert brief texts into the Prayer Book liturgies, but those texts were not the focus of the battles. The battles were about what was being done and where it was being done and with what it was being done, not about what was being said. Everywhere in the Anglican Communion, regardless of which edition of the Prayer Book the particular national church was using, changing the artifacts and the choreography of the liturgy brought our forebearers to blows.

Our ancestors instinctively saw what we often miss, though like us perhaps they did not know exactly what they were seeing. Meaning is conveyed not only by the words on a page, or even by the speaking of those words aloud. The meaning and the impact of the liturgy come primarily from the interplay of the setting, the objects, the sensual triggers, and, of course, the texts, but hardly the texts alone. The words, printed or spoken, may in fact be secondary. As Gordon Lathrop, professor of liturgy at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, has pointed out, liturgical meaning occurs in the juxtaposition of one thing against another. The texts are only one of the many things that the liturgy sets in juxtaposition. What we do in the liturgy, not only what we say, expresses what we believe. What we believe finds expression not only in what we say in the liturgy, but in what we do. As we pray, so shall we believe, and as we believe, so shall we pray. The pageants of Germany's Third Reich could not have changed anyone who was not willing to be changed. But surely many of those who were initially resistant to the Nazis' program were gradually convinced to at least consider it by the compelling ritual displays of Nazi identity. The rites made the message not only palatable but irresistible. The combination of a strong, meaning-laden ritual and a group of participants open to transformation gave birth to conversion.

Week by week a community celebrates the liturgy. Week by week the liturgy with its subtle messages assaults and shapes the community. The chance that nothing will change in the people or in the liturgy is slim. No less than the rites of the Third Reich or the rites of Twelve-Step programs or the rites celebrated in North Korea in 2006, the liturgy is geared toward change and will produce change, even when the change is not welcome or recognized. Almost always, the change that occurs as a result of a liturgical event—whether change in the participants or change in the rites—is so infinitesimal that it goes unnoticed. Only over time, and long stretches of time, does it become obvious that a transformation has been underway, and by then it is too late to undo it.

The changes that take place in the liturgy reverberate beyond that crucial hour on Sunday. The liturgy is a kind of "rehearsal." In and through it the church, using the medium of ritual, behaves as it aspires always to behave, but in a very stylized and controlled way. The exchange of the Peace, for example, is seldom an actual event of reconciliation between enemies, but is a stylized gesture that rehearses the community in reaching out with love to whomever is near. By this very act of "rehearsing," the church can grow, if only by the smallest increments, into being what it aspires to be. Practice makes perfect—or rather, practice moves the church further along the road to a perfection that it can never attain.

Baptism makes the church into the Body of Christ. The Eucharist forms the church for living out what it already and truly is. The Eucharist is the ongoing aspect of the sacraments of initiation since it continues what baptism begins: the incorporation of the church into Christ. This is not merely a theological assertion but a practical, psychological, sociological assertion. The liturgy changes the church.

The core force in the liturgy, of course, is grace. Grace motivates participation in the liturgy in the first place, and, within the liturgy, grace is again present. Grace—a relationship with God, whether conscious or not—is both the precondition and the offer of the liturgy. Without grace, the Christian liturgy is hollow, and fruitful participation in it is impossible. The liturgy, like everything good in life, is an instance of grace. Grace, however, does not operate apart from human action. It operates through it. Everything that brought the seeker or the believer to the door of the church is grace, and everything within the liturgy that moves the seeker or the believer further into the saving action of God-in-Christ is grace. None of it is purely human—yet all of it is thoroughly human. The personal invitation to a friend to come along some Sunday, the offhanded comment about how much you love your parish, even the ad in the Yellow Pages that brings a seeker to the door are all at once human actions and instruments of divine grace.
(Continues...)


Excerpted from CELEBRATING THE EUCHARIST by Patrick Malloy. Copyright © 2007 by Patrick Malloy. Excerpted by permission of Church Publishing Incorporated.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Preface....................     vii     

I. PRAYING AND BELIEVING....................          

1. Actions Speak Louder Than Words....................     3     

2. Rubrics and Customaries....................     10     

3. Principles for Making Liturgical Decisions....................     18     

4. Liturgical Space....................     32     

5. Vesture and Vessels....................     47     

6. The Liturgical Year....................     68     

7. Liturgical Ministries....................     85     

8. Postures and Gestures....................     100     

9. The Greater and the Lesser....................     122     

II. THE SUNDAY EUCHARIST....................          

10. The Opening Rites....................     137     

11. The Liturgy of the Word....................     147     

12. The Liturgy of the Eucharist....................     167     

13. The Concluding Rites....................     192     

14. Celebrating Baptism During the Sunday Eucharist....................     199     


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