|Presented at:||2014 Temple on Mount Zion Conference
Saturday, October 25, 2014
|Conference Proceedings:||The Temple: Ancient and Restored at https://interpreterfoundation.org/books/the-temple-ancient-and-restored/|
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I thoroughly enjoyed the presentation, although I wish that the distinctions had been made more clearly.
For example, in the Primitive Church the members themselves brought loaves of bread and bottles of wine which were then “collected” at a particular point in this “Eucharistic Meal” and placed on the Altar. In turn, they were then blessed and distributed to the gathering.
We can assume that until the Edict of Milan (312 CE), such gatherings were in private homes, but with the legalization of Christianity under Constantine building designed as sacred space began to be designed: starting with the common public assembly halls called basilicas, of which there were many standing to serve as architectural models, Christian architects (often the bishops themselves) began to design a building uniquely Christian, with symbolism built into the structure itself.
But, back to the Eucharistic meal! As soon as Christianity became legalized, the liturgy of the same grew more complex and ornate, undoubtedly taking on many trappings from pagan religious practices and from Judaism. The Eucharistic Meal became embedded in the Mass which is a combination of singing, prayers, a homily or sermon, and —- the Eucharist. The “collect” was now treated symbolically as the vessels containing the bread and wine (the platen and the chalice) were placed on top of the Atar.
In the Primitive Church, the broken bread and the wine were taken by the participants “in remembrance “ of the broken body and spilled blood of the Savior.
But, Paul also uses the term “body of Christ” metaphorically as a substitute for the Church itself. This term has almost completely dropped out of LDS discourse. Over time, the term “body of Christ” was reserved for the Eucharist, and the doctrine or dogma of Transubstantiation was adopted: this is clearly established by about the year 1000.
This is another term that is not used in LDS discussions of the Sacrament. Basically, what happened was that between ca. 200 and 800 CE, the notion grew that when the Priest officiating at the Altar takes the loaf of bread or the bottle of wine in both hands and elevates it above his head while pronouncing the words (called the “words of institution”) used by the Savior at the Last Supper — Hoc est corpus meum = This is my body; This is my blood — the item is miraculously changed into the literal body and blood of Christ. This was made possible by the consecration with chrism (oil) of the Priest, which sets him apart forever from mere laymen.
And, to carry this one step further, out of fear or concern that offering the cup of wine to laymen and women, let alone to children, risked the danger of spilling what was now thought to be literally the blood of Christ— and therefore committing the greatest sacrilege imaginable, the medieval Church withdrew that practice: while the lay people partook of the broken bread individually, the officiating priest or his assistant who was also a priest took the sip in behalf of everyone.
This too had consequences: by the late 12th century, the followers of Peter Waldo (or Valdes) of Lyons in southern France who, as Waldensians were condemned as heretics by the Church, and later the followers of John Wyclif in England and Jan Hus in Bohemia, were demanding that the Eucharist be offered “in both kinds”, I.e., that laymen be offered once again both the bread and the wine.
As the doctrine of the “real presence” took over the term “body of Christ “, the term used to designate the Church itself was changed to “the mystical body of Christ.”
Although the Protestant Reformers such as Luther, Martin Bucer, Wolfgang Capito, Calvin, Zwingli, Knox and others abolished most of the Seven Sacraments of the medieval Church, and although they abolished the doctrine of “transubstantiation”, they retained the doctrine of “real presence” because the Savior himself had instituted the practice behind the Eucharist at the Last Supper, and because he had promised his disciples to be with them.
And so, to complete the circle, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has returned the ordinance of the Sacrament (we likewise do not include the term Eucharist in our catechism) to the practice found in the Primitive Church.
Now, just as an Addendum:
I learned on my mission to Germany in 1960 that when the representatives of SLC arrived to reorganize and reinvigorate some of the branches of the Church, they found that some old practices had died hard, if at all: Thry reported that in at least one branch (which shall remain unnamed) the Priesthood Brethren blessed the bread and water with their backs to the congregation, or even from behind a curtain (or if you will, a veil); furthermore, they intoned the Sacrament prayer like a Gregorian chant —
I Gott, Du Ewiger Vater,
wir bitten Dich in dem Namen Deines Sohnes, Jesus Christus,
Dieses Wasser zu seligen und zu
Den Seelen aller deter, die davon geniessen; . .
Please forgive the typos in my German: I know how you spell well enough, but my AI does not. Thank goodness that I am not yet redundant, as my British friends would say.