Remote Holy Eucharist during the pandemic
Sacred 
 
Transmission

I keep a Saltine or some other cracker
near my computer these virus Sundays
despite those robed who think they are ones
(in the temples I cannot anon attend)
who mediate Power and make God
stay sheltered in tiered places and show God
confined (maybe a big stone's throw) in spaces;
a pixelated pulpit with the Holy Word in my ears.

Yet when they pray the Epiclesis
bread is made Body only on their patens;
Is God too weak to work across the distances? —
although my heart is closer to the altar
although my heart is an altar,
although my heart is the altar
in the priesthood of all believers
in multiple modalities and locations
as the unified Body of Christ.

And in fact the Saltine or some other cracker,
or a morsel of bread placed for the occasion
(near my computer these virus Sundays)
from God a gift, to God myself an offering
becomes His sacrifice of all, Real Presence! 
Now in my mouth the Bread of Life enters.
Christ lives in me and I in Him,
Him to praise and serve this fractioned world.
 

© 2020 by Vern Barnet, Kansas City, MO
Comments welcome — vern@cres.org


Generally I disdain the use of projection technology and such in worship services and even favor the use of the actual BCP and Hymnal instead of complete printed programs -- to emphasize the flexible and progressive depth of tradition, rather than the ephemeral. I recognize sacred space, the gathered congregation, and movement in the acts of liturgy, but I question rigid formulations of my own and others that seem to suggest God's powers are limited by, instead of working through, ecclesiastical structures.

Michael J. Himes describes the "sacramental principle: that which is always and everywhere the case [God's grace] must be noticed, accepted, and celebrated somewhere, sometime.” I do not understand why a position in front of a computer monitor or a cell phone cannot be such a place in which God's Incarnate, physical, material reality is manifested and beheld. 

Alexander Schmemann writes, “At the end of the Twelfth Century a Latin theologian, Berengarius of Tours, was condemned for his teaching on the Eucharist. He maintained that because the presence of Christ in the Eucharist elements is ‘mystical’ or ‘symbolic,’ it is not real. The Lateran Council . . . condemned him and . . . simply reversed the formula. It proclaimed that since Christ’s presence in the Eucharist is real, it is not ‘mystical.’ . . . Western theology thus declared that . . . [the] ‘mystical’ or ‘symbolic’ is not real, whereas . . . [the] ‘real’ is not symbolic. This was . . . the collapse of the fundamental Christian mysterion, the antinomical ‘holding together’ of the reality of the symbol and of the symbolism of reality, . . . a collapse of . . . Christian . . . ontological sacramentality.” I fear that requiring God to act only in a particular building leads us toward superstition, the collapse of the mysterion, by making the Eucharist the produce of human, rather than divine, management.

I do not think anyone has the wisdom or right to tell me that in fact I do not experience the Real Presence when I accept bread and wine after hearing the words of consecration, etc, from the priest.

Vern Barnet
“If you must make a choice between heresy and schism, always choose heresy. For as a heretic, you are  only guilty of a wrong opinion. As a schismatic, you have torn and divided the body of Christ. Choose heresy every time.” — The Rt. Rev. Peter J. Lee

Is communion a memorial or a sacrifice? Is the ritual a commemoration or is Christ really present? Is the bread and drink (as in making a toast, the champagne remains  champagne) still bread and drink or is the Body and Blood of the Savior? 



Links to a variety of views:

Against Virtual Communion

Christ is Really Present Virtually: 
A Proposal for Virtual Communion

Worship in Times of Public Health Concerns: 
COVID-19/Coronavirus

Holy Communion and COVID-19: 
The Body of Christ in a time of social distancing

First Things article

Worship as a Technological Apocalypse

Retraction of Virtual Holy Eucharist 
 

A friend recalls this poem from Emily Dickinson:
     To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
     One clover, and a bee,
     And revery.
     The revery alone will do, 
     If bees are few.

PROVIDED DURING STREAMING SERVICES AT 
THE WASHINGTON NATIONAL CATHEDRAL:

Prayer of Spiritual Communion
     My Jesus, I believe that you are truly present in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. I love you above all things, and  long for you in my soul. 
     Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though you have already come, I embrace you and unite myself entirely to you; never permit me to be separated from you. Amen.