Fr Simon writes . . . about the Eucharist - part 1
A Service of Two Parts
The earliest documentary evidence of the celebration of the Eucharist is the New Testament itself. First of all, we have the accounts of the institution of the Eucharist in the Gospels: Matthew 26.26-29, Mark 14.22-25, and Luke 22.15-20. John has his own reasons for not including an explicit account of the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, but the whole of Chapter 6 is a meditation on the meaning of a service, which would be completely familiar to his readers. Then there is an account from Paul in 1 Corinthians 11.23-26. It is largely on this account that the story of the Last Supper in the Eucharistic Prayer is based.
has further evidence, both in his Gospel and in the Acts of the
Apostles. For example, the resurrection appearance at Emmaus (Luke
24.30-35) is the story of a Eucharist, and in Acts 2.42, 46 it is
particularly interesting to read:
devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the
breaking of bread and the prayers... And day by day, attending the
temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of
food with glad and generous hearts."
of Christianity and Judaism
the purpose of this first talk, the words in italics above are
important because they show that, at the beginning of the Church, the
disciples were not aware that their faith in Jesus Christ would
separate them from Judaism. The first disciples were Jews after all,
and it was perfectly natural for them to continue to worship as Jews,
both in the temple and in the synagogue. What was already new and
distinctive, however, was their faith that God had shown that Jesus
was the Messiah by raising him from the dead, and also their
celebration of the Eucharist. This, "The Breaking of Bread" as it
was called, was already taking place separately from the formal
worship of Judaism - "in their own homes".
separation of Christianity from Judaism arose through two factors:
first, the expulsion from the synagogue of those who preached that
Jesus was the Christ, and secondly the admission of Gentiles into the
Church without their first having to become 'Jews'. Much of Acts,
and also a great deal of Paul's writing, bear witness to these two
factors, and also to the working out by the early Church of the
theology of what had happened as a result.
of Word and Sacrament
the break with Judaism was complete, there was a need to fill the gap
left by the synagogue service, which was a service of the Word
consisting mainly of readings from the Law and the Prophets (The Old
Testament), sermon, and prayers. The synagogue service and the
Breaking of Bread became linked together, and the basic two-fold
structure of the Eucharist came about - The Liturgy of the Word and
The Liturgy of the Sacrament.
Martyr (ca. 150)
Eucharist is, therefore, a service of two parts. The underlying
structure of the Sunday Eucharist as described by Justin Martyr (Rome,
Second Century) will be recognised as being identical with the
Eucharist as it now celebrated:
the day called Sun-day an assembly is held in one place of all who
live in town or country, and the records of the apostles or writings
of the prophets are read for as long as time allows. Then, when the
reader has finished, the president in a discourse admonishes and
exhorts us to imitate these good things. Then we all stand up together
and offer prayers; and ... when we have finished praying, bread and
wine and water are brought up, and the president likewise offers
prayers and thanksgivings to the best of his ability, and the people
assent, saying the Amen; and there is a distribution, and everyone
participates in the elements over which thanks have been given; and
they are sent through the deacons to those who are not present.
The Liturgy of the Word
both of the main constituent parts of the Mass, there is an exchange.
In the Liturgy of the Word, there is an exchange of words, a
conversation, between God and his people. In the Liturgy of the
Sacrament, there is an exchange of gifts. Our gifts to God are the
bread and wine, which we present and offer at the altar. These gifts
represent ourselves, whom we bring to God to be transformed by him.
God's gift to us is the divine life of his Son - his body and blood,
which are received by us under the appearances of bread and wine.
the beginning of the Mass, before the actual Liturgy of the Word
begins, there is a preparation by the priest and people. A Hymn, or an
Entrance Antiphon, is used when the sacred ministers come in. Thus the
whole service is set in the context of praising God together. After
the Entrance Hymn or Antiphon, the priest greets the people, and they
respond. This exchange of greetings by priest and people sets the
scene for the exchange that follows.
the Greeting, the priest and people prepare for the Mass by
acknowledging their sins and their need for forgiveness. The whole of
the Liturgy of the Word recalls Christ's public ministry of
preaching and teaching, so it appropriate that we should begin, as he
did, with a call to repentance. After 'Lord, have mercy', and
sometimes 'Gloria in Excelsis' (based on the song of the angels at
Jesus' birth), there follows the Collect, also called the Opening
prayer is called the Collect because it 'collects' together our
thoughts and prayers for that day. It sums up the theme of the
particular celebration, and therefore of the readings that follow. It
is also called the Opening Prayer because it is the main prayer that
'opens' the service, but we could think of it also as the prayer
that is said when the Scriptures are 'opened' for us to hear.
readings from Scripture follow – usually three on Sundays and two on
weekdays. It is important to listen attentively to the readings. In
many people's houses (my own included sometimes!) the radio or
television can be on, but no one is actually listening or watching.
Sometimes the readings at Mass can be treated like that: just a
background noise, something to fill in the gaps between other things
that happen. Some people find it helpful to follow the readings from
the service sheet, while others find that they can listen better
without following from a printed page. The way the reader prepares for
the reading, approaches the lectern, and delivers the reading, is very
readings are not simply 'read out' for us to hear, and then pass
on. The Liturgy of the Word is meant to be an exchange, so it is
important that we enter into the two-way conversation. God speaks
through the words of scripture and, as we listen, we respond. Each
reading has responses for the people to say. The first two readings
have "This is the word of the Lord", to which we respond,
"Thanks be to God", and the Gospel has more responses still. At
the Gospel we respond still further by standing up, by singing, and by
using lights and incense. A priest or deacon generally reads the
Gospel, and the Gospel Book is carried in procession from the altar.
The readings follow a theme for that day, which links them together.
The Old Testament is read first, then the New Testament, including the
Gospel. There is a progression of thought, which represents the way in
which the New Covenant supersedes the Old, and the way in which God
has progressively revealed himself, first through a nation, and then
in the person of Jesus Christ.
the first two readings, a psalm is generally used. The psalm is
itself, of course, a reading from Scripture. It is called the
'Responsorial Psalm' because it is the people's response to the
first reading. It is also called 'Responsorial' because it is
arranged so that the reader and the people can join in, as part of
their response to God's word. It
not only represents a response to the first reading, but also carries
us forward to the second. Sometimes a hymn is used instead of a psalm.
Whatever is used at the 'Gradual' (from the Latin 'gradus' - a
step: so called because his part of the service takes place at the
chancel step) it needs to be chosen carefully because it has to form a
response to the readings. It needs to reflect the theme of the day,
and help the people to listen to the word of God.
sermon or homily is to help us to understand the readings, and apply
them to ourselves in our own lives. The sermon leads us on from making
a liturgical response to the Scriptures; to responding to them by the
way we live. Our final response to what we have heard in the readings
and in the sermon is a profession of our baptismal faith (in the
Creed, or another form of affirmation of faith) and prayer together
for the Church and for the world. Justin Martyr wrote about this part
of the Mass: 'we all stand up together and offer prayers'.
Standing together emphasizes first of all that these are prayers
offered by the assembled people of God (not just a collection of
individuals saying their own prayers). Secondly, standing together to
pray shows that here the people is exercising that part of the
priestly ministry that belongs to them: of offering prayer on behalf
of the world.
To be continued next month
is an abbreviated version of part of an account of the early years of
St Barnabas Oakhill written by Fr Peter Marr. May we remember the causes
for which St Barnabas Beckenham stood for from the beginning.
idea of a church district in the south of Beckenham was associated
with the appointment of a Chaplain to members of the Hoare family living at
Kelsey Manor in the 1870s. The moving force was Peter Richard Hoare. A
chapel had been built there by Sir George Gilbert Scott and the Revd
Robert Linklater served as Chaplain from 1869 until 1872. He
subsequently went as a curate at St Peter's London Docks and
succeeded by the Revd Edward Pote Williams.
Pote Williams was born on 23rd November 1838. He was born at Eton
College where his family had been booksellers and publishers. He was
a descendent of Joseph Pote (1703-1787) bookseller at Eton, whose
daughter had married into the Williams family, also publishers.
E.P.Williams senior, published sixty or so books, classical
literature, history, theology and the Eton School Lists. In 1869 he
also published a History of Boating at Eton.
young Edward Pote Williams was educated at Christ's Hospital (then in
London) and Christ's College, Cambridge. He was ordained Deacon in
1861 and Priest the following year. He served a number of' curacies,
at Calbourn, Isle of Wight (1861-63) Fawley, Hants (1863-64), and
Chislehurst (1864-69/. During this time, in 1865, he joined the
Society of the Holy Cross (SSC) subsequently becoming the longest
serving member of the Society.
In 1869 he served as a missioner at St Peters London Docks together with the Revd R.A.J.Suckling. He was Rector of the rural parish of Barsham in Suffolk (to which Fr E.P.Williams subsequently was appointed), and then Vicar of St Peter's London Docks, and of St Albans Holborn.
would have been here if not before that Fr Williams would have come
into direct contact with Robert Linklater and thus with the Beckenham
connection. However, he left Chislehurst and served an curacy at St
Augustine's Kilburn (1869-72), before coming to Beckenham that year.
married Julia (Ellis), by whom he had five sons and three daughters.
Their eldest child Katherine Mary was born in Chislehurst about 1865.
The next child, Leonard, was born about two years later at St Leonards-on-Sea,
whilst Fr Williams was still at Chislehurst. A third child Bernard
Francis, was born about a year later, again at Chislehurst. During his
time at Kilburn (1869-72) Mary and Margaret Irene were born. Margaret
died on 20th November 1882 and is buried at Barsham. Then whilst at
Beckenham Cyril and Mildred were born in the late 1870s.
Revd E.P.Williams set to work to establish on Oakhill a church that
was sympathetic to the Catholic tradition within the Church of
England. This was finally achieved in 1877 a few months before Peter
Hoare died. News of his appointment as the first Incumbent was
certainly made known by April 1877. Keble College Oxford, then
recently founded in memory of John Keble became the Patron. The
College was chosen to ensure a succession of Catholic-minded priests
for the parish. A capital sum of London, Tilbury and Southend Railway
stock provided the stipend, apparently given by a now unknown
religious atmosphere in Beckenham at the time was not a happy one. In
particular it was the year that the feelings over the book 'The Priest
in Absolution', a manual for priests concerning sacramental confession,
were at their height. The Church Association had a number of meetings
locally expressing concern about ritualism and about auricular
confession. On the other hand in 1877 the Beckenham and Bromley Branch
of the English Church Union the other end of the churchmanship
spectrum expressed its hearty sympathy with the Rev. Arthur Tooth in
prison for conscience sake (i.e. ritualism) and its deep sense of
thankfulness to him for his loyal stand in defence of the rights of
the Church. Fr Tooth, then Vicar of St James Hatcham, is buried at
Elmers End Cemetery where on 5th March each year we hold a service at
establishment of St Barnabas nevertheless went on apace. But in July
we read in the local press concerning St Barnabas, Oak Hill:
the past month, with signatures attached to it representing 304
persons, has been presented to the Rev. EP. Williams, in which the
memorialists state that the gentleman in question, who has just been
nominated as first incumbent of this Church, is a member of the
Society of the Holy Cross and of the Confraternity of the Blessed
Sacrament and likewise one of those who signed a petition to
Convocation in favour of the appointment of legalized confessors in
the Church of England, they cannot in any way receive or recognise him
as their minister or pastor, and therefore trust he will abstain from
intruding into their homes in that capacity. Accompanying this
memorial is a list of names of parties who decline to sign the same
(representing 68 souls) with their reasons attached. A copy of the
document was sent on the 12th. to His Grace the Archbishop, together with a strongly-worded
have already noticed that he had joined SSC in 1865. The month
following the petition, August 1877, there were further problems. The
Revd Charles Stebbing Wallace SSC had been refused a licence by the
then Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop Tait, "because he would
not leave SSC." However, the members of the SSC were
"unanimous in thanking Bro.Wallace for his courageous
conduct". Clearly the matter was somehow resolved as he appeared
listed as "curate" at St Barnabas the following year at the
Stone-laying ceremony for the new St Barnabas Church. He is described
as the "embodiment of priestly chivalry and fraternal
charity" and later became Vicar of the Ascension, Lavender Hill.
St Barnabas District was made into a parish in 1880 it seems that the
Revd Edward Pote Williams was not acceptable as the first Vicar. It is
not clear why. He left Beckenham in 1880 and became Rector of Barsham,
Suffolk, succeeding the Revd R.A.J.Suckling. At Barsham Rectory he had
two domestic staff of which one, Mary Seels, probably came with the
family from Beckenham. Her own family lived at Clayhill Cottages in
the Bromley Road. Suffering from indifferent health, Fr Williams left
Barsham and became curate at St Mary Magdalene, Paddington, a Keble
College living (1889-91), then Chaplain to the Sisters of St Mary and
St John in Chiswick (1891-1902) and finally curate of St Matthias
Earls Court (1900-16).
had joined the SSC in 1865 and by 1909 had become the senior member by
length of membership of the Society. He had been a founder-member of
the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament and its Secretary-General.
He became the oldest member of The Church Union. Much is revealed in
the words of Ninian Comper, the architect, who was staying with the
Williams' at Barsham on Good Friday 1883: Mr. Williams, rector, is
what I call a regular thorough priest and not a rector or
clergyman...... " Fr Williams returned to St Barnabas to preach
on a number of occasions up to 1919 and a local writer observed in
1895 that FY Edward Pote Williams had "never lost his first love
for the church and parish he inaugurated".
died aged 84, and after 62 years as a priest, at Earls Court on 14th
November 1922 and was buried at Brookwood Cemetery on 17th November.
His obituarist wrote in The Church Times that Fr. Williams was closely
associated with Fr Lowder and also Fr Mackonochie "the defendant
in various ritual suits...and [Fr Williams] was in full sympathy
with their ecclesiastical positions".