Friday, May 30, 2003

Apparently Pewlady's post is resonating--Here's a Byzantine perspective

The Eucharist is the sacrament and expression of the unity of the whole Church. As a consequence, the ordinary practice is for there to be only one Eucharist celebrated on one altar per day. Furthermore, only a bishop, priest, or deacon may administer the sacrament. Finally, the liturgy may last anywhere from an hour (rarely) to three or four hours (occasionally, especially if there are baptisms). Meyendorff says "Whatever the practical inconveniences, these rules aim at preserving the Eucharist at least nominally as the gathering `of all together at the same place' (Acts 2:1); all should be together at the same altar, around the same bishop, at the same time, because there is only one Christ, one Church, and one Eucharist." (209)

The multiplication of Masses on Saturdays and Sundays, the addition of the evening Sunday Mass to catch the late-rising teenagers, and the profusion of ordinary extraordinary ministers, contributes to a loss of the visible sign of the unity of the Church. These practices ought to be avoided unless absolutely necessary. Our union in Christ at the Eucharist is the most important thing that we will ever do, and is a foretaste of our eternal life--it doesn't have to be convenient. So quit scheduling stuff on Sundays, and enjoy the Liturgy! (Even if it takes (gasp!) two hours!)

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