Zizioulas on Baptism and Eucharist  

Posted by Joe Rawls in ,

Metropolitan John Zizioulas is a leading contemporary Eastern Orthodox theologian. In this essay he discusses the intimate relationship between the two sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist. Orthodoxy stresses the ontological changes made by the sacraments in their recipients; changes leading the Christian to a progressively closer union with God. Many liberal mainline Christians, by contrast, see these sacraments as thoroughly demystified rituals reinforcing social bonds between community members. These issues are especially prominent in the Episcopal Church, where there is an ongoing debate over the fairly widespread practice of giving communion to non-baptized people. Compare and contrast.

A hat-tip to Facebook friend Freeman Ioannis Edward.


Baptism...is not only the death of the past--which is henceforth abolished--but also the Resurrection into a new life, which new life however is expressed...with our incorporation into the body of the Church. There can be no baptism which does not automatically entail incorporation into the Body of the Church...For us Orthodox...it is of vital importance to insist that Baptism, the Chrism [Confirmation] and the Divine Eucharist constitute a unified and inseperable liturgical unity. Our criterion is that we undergo an ontological change; that a person must enter a new relationship with the world. One cannot be baptized and yet distance himself from experiencing the Community of the Church; this is why Baptism simultaneously signifies a placement within the Community of the Church and participation in the Divine Eucharist.

...What is important with regard to the Eucharist experience is that man now enters into a relationship with others and the world in general, with Christ as its center. The Church has, at her center, the Body of him who overcame death, and this victory over death that the risen Christ possesses is the same victory from whence life springs for all members of the Church. This Christ-centeredness of the Divine Eucharist is what makes it different from every other experience that the faithful (or people in general) may have. There is nothing so Christ-centered as the Divine Eucharist. There is no other experience that the faithful can have, which is so directly associated to the corporeal presence of the risen Christ.

Rowan on Wisdom, Science, and Faith  

Posted by Joe Rawls in

When he isn't getting his knickers in a twist over gay bishops, the Archbishop of Canterbury is actually a pretty fair theologian. Evidence of this can be found in a recent sermon delivered at a service honoring the 350th anniversary of the British Royal Society, held at St Paul's Cathedral in London. Alluding to the fact that many of the Society's founders were practicing Christians as well as practicing scientists, +++Rowan reminds us that science and faith do not exist in watertight compartments.


...The house of wisdom is a house of many dimensions; seven pillars, not merely four walls. It is upheld by a variety of questionings; the so-called scientific worldview is itself a complex pattern of deeply diverse disciplines, very resistant to any idea of global reductionism--to the conclusion that there is one and only one kind of basic question...The wisdom celebrated here is something indeed that could never fully be dealt with by any one question or any one style of questioning...

...Science needs to remain human in that sense, to be self-aware of itself as human science, aware of incompleteness, aware of the joy of non-fulfillment. And at that level at least, science is bound to be operating with an image of humanity itself as a life form attuned to truth and to growth. Metaphysics, perhaps, or even worse, faith; and yet it's hard to see how the real life of the scientific enterprise can be sustained without that image of what is properly and joyfully and fulfillingly human. Recognized or not, the resonance of this with the life of faith is worth noting. Faith, our Christian faith, presupposes that we are indeed as human beings attuned to truth and to growth, made by a God whose love has designed us for joy, and discovering that this directedness towards joy mysteriously comes alive when we look into the living truth, the living wisdom, of the face of a Christ who drives us back again and again to question ourselves so that we stay alive.

A faith which can discover joy in penitence, self-questioning and growth is a faith which can reasonably (I use the word with forethought) hold out its hand to a science that is determined to be human. That kind of faith and that kind of science joined hands 350 years ago; and while at times the grip has somewhat slackened in the intervening period, I dare to hope in the name of eternal wisdom that we may yet join again in our search for the joys of being human, the joys of being wrong, the manifold wisdom in which we find life.

Bishop Andrewes' Chapel  

Posted by Joe Rawls in ,

Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626) was one of the academic and ecclesiastical superstars of his day. With connections to both Oxford and Cambridge, he successively served as bishop of Chichester, Ely, and Winchester. He chaired the committee of translators that produced the King James Version of the Bible. He was a favorite preacher of the king, who loved Andrewes' erudite sermons, replete with numerous quotations from the Fathers. Andrewes' spirituality and churchmanship had a strongly "catholic" sensibility, rooted as they were in patristics and the Sarum Rite of the late medieval English church. In an age when the typical Anglican service was Morning Prayer led by a priest in a surplice (and the Puritans objected violently even to this), Andrewes swam against the current by insisting on a weekly Eucharist celebrated with a fairly rich ceremonial. However, he could pull this off only in his private episcopal chapel.

Fortunately, historical documentation allows us to reconstruct what these semi-public liturgies were like. An excellent article by Andrewes scholar Marianne Dorman summarizes this data, giving us a picture of a bright spot in an otherwise dim liturgical landscape. The excerpt deals with the physical layout of the chapel; read the whole essay to see how he augmented the official Prayer Book in creatively catholic ways. And, no, I have no idea whatever what "tricanale" and "triquestral" mean.


The focal point was the altar, raised on a foot-board and adorned with its lavish frontal against the eastern wall...It was railed off from the rest of the chancel to denote it was sanctum Sanctorum. These rails served another purpose as Andrewes insisted that communicants kneel before the altar to receive the Sacrament. On the altar were two candlesticks with tapers, basin for the oblation, and a cushion of violet and crimson damask which matched the altar frontal, for the service book. When the Eucharist was celebrated a chalice, paten, and tricanale for mixing the wine with the water were also placed upon it, whilst on the credence table were the silver and gilt canister for the wafers like a wicker-basket and lined with cambric laced...On an additional small table in the sanctuary was place a "navicula" (ie boat-shaped vessel) from which frankincense is poured into a triquestral censer for censing at the appropriate places in the Liturgy. This censer hung in the chancel behind the lectern during the services to symbolize the offering of worship to God. In the center of the chancel on a pedestal was the lectern with its great Bible, and in front of it was a faldstool, that is, a small desk for praying the Litany. There were also seats for the bishop (his seat was canopied), the chaplain, for ordinands and two long benches for the family. On the eastern wall above the altar there was a...hanging depicting the story of Abraham and Melchizedek emphasizing no doubt both the blessing and sacrificial ministries of the latter. The pulpit also was richly covered with a matching cloth of crimson and violet damask.