Saturday, May 3, 2014

"The heavenly bread ends all symbols"

Here is our really late Friday traditio. It's so late, in fact, that it is our Saturday traditio. For this week this is more than appropriate. It is "right and just" because it is my second oldest son's First Holy Communion today. As a result, our traditio is Friar Alessandro singing one of my all-time favorite hymns: "Panis Angelicus" (literally "bread of angels").

It is also fitting because yesterday, as I traveled home from a business trip, I (finally!) finished Diarmaid MacCulloch's Thomas Cranmer: A Life. There was no issue that more defined the English Reformation than the Eucharist, particularly just "how" and "for whom" Christ is present in the sacred species. Having read MacCulloch's definitive biography of this unfairly vilified man, who, if nothing else, contributed greatly to the depth and beauty of the English language (in my view, he did more than that) it seems to me that with the possible exception of his deep suspicion of transsubstantiation, which was not dogmatically defined until 1551, Cranmer's views on the Eucharist evolved over time. His views ran the gamut from a fairly orthodox Catholic view in the 1520s and 1530s, through a quite clearly Lutheran view in the late 1530s, ending up at what has been described as "symbolic parallelism" with regard to the Eucharist. Cranmer was very opposed to any devotion to, or adoration of the consecrated bread and wine.

Of course, I do not agree. Like a lot of converts, perhaps even most, the Eucharist, which is nothing other than Christ, played the decisive role in my conversion.

The angel's bread becomes the bread of men
The heavenly bread ends all symbols
Oh, miraculous thing!
The body of the Lord will nourish
The poor, poor, and humble servant
The poor, poor, and humble servant

I am very glad that this is my first post in the month of May, the month of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Make an effort to pray a complete set of mysteries (i.e., five decades) of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary each day this month.

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