Thursday, April 09, 2009

Holy Thursday

Having no oil aumbry at All Saints', I have been keeping the sacred chrism in the Tabernacle with the consecrated host...I haven't thought much about this until this afternoon when I discovered an article by Fr John Hunwicke, who is Priest-in-Charge of St Thomas the Martyr, Oxford, and Senior Research Fellow at Pusey House. His article has nothing to do really with why I should or should not continue the practice, but I thought it interesting nonetheless...

In antiquity, the Bishop of Rome used to send a fragment of the Host, each Sunday, to each of the presbyters of the Roman title churches as a sign of his Communio with them ... and of his own Eucharistic presidency. It was commingled with the chalice at the Fraction; the origin, in fact, of the Commixture which has bravely survived Bugnini and still exists even in the Ordinary Form.

A little while ago, Bishop Andrew reminded us that it is not good enough just to have any old validly consecrated Chrism around; the Chrism in fact functions now as a expression and diagnostic of Communio. The C of E never has had proper incardination; the Tudor Establishment preserved the old medieval bureaucratic legalities (Gregory Dix liked to point out that the Church of England is riddled with more unreformed medievalisms than any other body in Christendom). But whose oils one uses in the radically liminal rites of Initiation shows which Bishop one is a presbyter of.

Sometimes our Traditionalist English bishops refer to their clergy as "Clergy who look to me". Perhaps a crisper, more theological, more sacramental, formula would be "Clergy who receive my Chrism".

I think it's a good point. 'Whose Chrism' is so much better an indication of a presbyter's ecclesial location than legal pieces of paper like licences. Chrism, after all, is not about lawyers but about the sacramental structure of Christ's Church.

On Tuesday past, Priests from all over the diocese received chrism from Bishop Breidenthal to take back to the parishes and missions...Just got me thinking on this Holy Thursday when we talk about being connect in the Eucharistic feast...

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