We are all beginners in the liturgy, really. All of us—from the first-time visitor who finds himself pain helplessly through the Prayer Book wondering what is happening, to the aged priest who has known it all by heart for half a century—are only on the lower slopes of worship. If the great seraphim themselves cover their faces in the presence of the Divine Majesty, who of us will claim to be experts at the act of approaching the Throne with offerings of adoration and praise.
From The Liturgy Explained. (The old edition)
‘Man is what he eats.’ With this statement the German materialist philosopher Feuerbach thought he had put an end to all ‘idealistic’ speculations about human nature. In fact, however, he was expressing, without knowing it, the most religious idea of man.
For the Life of the World, Alexander Schmemann. The opening sentences of a book I will never tire of rereading.
Working title for a writing project I am chipping away at these days:
Presence in a Virtual Age: a sacramental theology you didn’t know you needed
> They said ‘_Vide_, look! How the love one another.’ They did not say, ‘_Aude_, listen to the Christians’ message’; they did not say ‘_Lege_, read what they write. Hearing and reading were important … But we must not miss the reality: the pagans said _look_!
Alan Kreider, _The Patient Ferment of the Early Church_
The Roman Empire was “(almost) infinitely tolerant” of a variety of religions. Christianity, on the other hand, is rooted in a historical and exclusive truth claim about Jesus of Nazareth. Faced with these two realities, Kreider asks “Why in such a world did Christianity attract converts?”
His answer is that, in part, it was the **embodied patience** of the Christians that made the faith attractive. Christian behavior—how they buried their dead, care for one another, the poor, and orphans—was “deeply unsettling” and yet eventually attractive to their pagan neighbors.
After completing my Masters thesis this past Spring, I took to Twitter to share some small gems that I found while researching. I shared one quote about the Eucharist from each of the past twenty centuries of its celebration. Enjoy.
When we celebrate the Eucharist, we do so in anamnesis (εἰς άνάμνησιν, eis anamnēsin) of Jesus.
Anamnesis is not simply remembrance, at least not in the sense that we normally remember things: mentally recalling events and people of the past and re-feeling many of the attached emotions. The anamnesis of the Eucharist is adeeper form of remembrance, because the anamnesis of the Eucharist has its roots in the anamnesis of the Hebrew Passover. The Hebrews were called to re-experience the original Passover every year. It was not enough to pause and remember that great event in subsequent generations. The once-for-all events of the Exodus were to be re-lived by the community each year for all future generations. The hope of the Exodus was to become the hope of Israel. This cannot happen through merely cerebral remembrance. The celebration of the Passover looks more like a play than a ceremony: there are actors, directors, and even a script. This is more than remembrance; it is bringing an event from the past into the present, allowing all the implications of the past event to be felt anew.
I say all of this to point you to a beautiful peace written by my dear friend Mason King. In it he paints what it may look like to participate in anamnesis. Were this our mindset each week as we participate in the Eucharist, we may begin to understand why the Church has placed its celebration as a primary function of the weekly worship of Christians.
Enjoy his post here.