Liberals and some evangelicals influenced by Bucer ground their teeth at the Consecration Service of the new Bishop of Horsham, not only because he was not ‘one of them’, but as Rowan Williams became the first Archbishop of Canterbury to administer communion in one kind since Thomas Cranmer.
Their fears that this was part of a revisionist plot to take them back into the dark days of High Medievalism by the barely enlightened Diocese of Chichester, were further aroused when any manual acts during the exchange of the Peace were also banned – all in the name of protection from the swine flu.
The Reformation hero will be spinning in his ash heap as he recalls how long it took him to fight for the restoration of the chalice after the Black Death, which was but a twinkling of the eye in comparison with the titanic struggle by his liturgical successors to get stubborn Anglicans off their knees and into the melee which is euphemistically named the Peace!
As we move into autumn, we shall no doubt settle into a easier discipline of church behaviour as H1N1 increases its influence. The danger of transmitting the disease by the hands looks as though it might banish for good that 1980s habit of individual intincting – Dunkin’ Donuts style – so popular among many: it’s not all bad news.
The replacement image of the priest intincting for each communicant seems rather worse when one reads the Prayer Book rubric that ‘the Bread be such as is usual to be eaten’. The thought of little lumps of Mother’s Pride soaked in communion wine being placed on people’s outstretched hands is deeply unbecoming.
The Catholic wing suffer as well, for another no-no is the placing of the Sacrament directly onto the tongue of the communicant. Fair enough, but how do reconcile the following traditional instruction? In both Prayer Book and Missal, it is quite clear and explicit that the celebrant is to receive the Communion first, then giving it to other ministers, and then to the people. How does the Priest receive the wafer if not in his mouth? Has any Ad Clerum addressed this?
But whatever you do, I bet you shake the Vicar by the hand, after the service.