1,500 year-old confession of faith

Scholars have discovered a 1,500-year-old papyrus from ancient Egypt that contains a remarkable Christian confession, including an early description of Holy Communion.  Reportedly, the writing was rolled up in an amulet, a Christian version of the amulets-with-protection-spells worn by pagan Egyptians.

The article on the find says that this is an example of Christian “magic,” but the text says nothing about protection or anything spell-like.  The ancient Hebrews of the Bible would also wear little cases that contained Bible verses (Deuteronomy 11:18).  The ignorance of the news story in saying that this is one of the “first” references to the Last Supper–the early Church Fathers, such as Irenaeus who died in 202 A.D., referred to it all the time–casts further doubt on the “magic” claim.  This instead sounds like an example of Christians following a cultural practice while giving it a new meaning.  Anyway, read the text after the jump. [Read more...]

“Spiritual Communion”?

According to Roman Catholicism, you can receive “spiritual communion” even when you don’t take actual, physical communion.  That is, if you desire to receive the sacrament, that is almost as good as actually receiving it.  I learned this seeming bit of Gnosticism from a post by Nicholas Frankovich as part of the discussion about whether or not divorced and remarried Catholics should be allowed to receive the Sacrament.

Note too, in the excerpt after the jump, that whereas Lutherans believe that the Body and Blood of Christ are given and received specifically for the forgiveness of sins, Roman Catholics believe that sinners must not receive them.  More evidence that Lutherans actually have a higher view of the Sacraments than Catholics do! [Read more...]

George Herbert on Holy Communion

The Invitation

Come ye hither all, whose taste

Is your waste;

Save your cost, and mend your fare.

God is here prepar’d and drest,

And the feast,

God, in whom all dainties are.

Come ye hither all, whom wine

Doth define,

Naming you not to your good:

Weep what ye have drunk amisse,

And drink this,

Which before ye drink is bloud. [Read more...]

George Herbert on Sin, Love, & the Sacrament

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes discusses one of my favorite poems, The Agony by George Herbert.  It is about how we try to measure everything, neglecting what cannot be measured; namely, sin and love.  But these can be known in their depths as they come together in the Cross of Jesus Christ.  The poem concludes with these lines on the Sacrament:

Love is that liquor sweet and most divine

Which my God feels as blood; but I, as wine.

[Read more...]

Finding the Holy Grail?

Some historians, on the basis of manuscript and carbon-dating evidence, claim to have identified a particular chalice as the Holy Grail, the cup used by Christ at the Last Supper.  The gold and jewel-encrusted vessel is built around a more humble cup that has been traced to the Middle East in the years between 200 B.C. and 100 A.D.

If the Grail has been recovered, according to legend, the spiritual wasteland of our age will come back to life.  But I say that if you want a cup that holds Christ’s blood and that will bring life in the spiritual wasteland, all you have to do is go to a church that offers the Sacrament of the Altar and you will find it.

See a picture of the alleged Grail and sample two news stories about it after the jump. [Read more...]

From eucharistic hymn to Christmas carol

“Let all mortal flesh keep silence” is a hymn about Holy Communion.  But now it keeps showing up as a Christmas carol!  That’s how it’s presented in Christmas concerts, holiday recordings, and on many of the renditions on Youtube.  But it is “an ancient chant of Eucharistic devotion.”

I can see how it would shift over to the Christmas canon.  It has a beautiful, otherworldly melody of the same sort associated with Christmas music.  It talks about how “Christ our God to earth descendeth” and that He was “born of Mary.”  But the point is that “He will give to all the faithful/His own self for heavenly food,” “in the body and the blood.”

But this is quite fitting to associate Holy Communion with Christmas and vice versa.  What other Communion hymns could work as Christmas hymns?  What other Christmas songs could work as Communion songs?

[Read more...]


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