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Gottesblog

A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

Reverent Wisdom from St. Cyril of Jerusalem

So it's been forever since I've posted anything; not because I have no thoughts, but because it has wearied me to think of writing them down, and I'm not sure where to start. Perhaps soon I shall rediscover my mojo and find my muse and resume my own writing of blog posts.

In the meantime, I came across the following from St. Cyril of Jerusalem, in his fifth Mystagogical Catechesis (his instruction of the newly-baptized communicants in the days following their Holy Baptism and First Communion at the Feast of the Resurrection). I was particularly struck by the faithful piety and reverent wisdom of his words, and I'll candidly admit that I long for such an attitude to have free course among our fellowship at large. To preach and teach of the Lord's holy body and precious blood, but then to handle the same as though they were simply bread and wine, and to conduct oneself at the Lord's Altar as though it were a Sonic drive-up or the local hotel lounge, betrays and undermines the truth of the confession and demonstrates ignorance, hypocrisy, foolishness, or a lack of piety and reverence. That's not okay.

But here is how St. Cyril beautifully explains it to his neophytes, in the joy of their Holy Baptism and the Holy Communion, in the confidence of Christ's Word:

"Approaching, therefore, come not with thy wrists extended, or thy fingers open; but make thy left hand as if a throne for thy right, which is on the eve of receiving the King. And having hollowed thy palm, receive the Body of Christ, saying after it, Amen. Then after thou hast with carefulness hallowed thine eyes by the touch of the Holy Body, partake thereof; giving heed lest thou lose any of it; for what thou losest is a loss to thee as it were from one of thine own members. For tell me, if any one gave thee gold dust, wouldest thou not with all precaution keep it fast, being on thy guard against losing any of it, and suffering loss? How much more cautiously then wilt thou observe that not a crumb falls from thee, of what is more precious than gold and precious stones?

"Then after having partaken of the Body of Christ, approach also to the Cup of His Blood; not stretching forth thine hands, but bending and saying in the way of worship and reverence, Amen, be thou hallowed by partaking also of the Blood of Christ. And while the moisture is still upon thy lips, touching it with thine hands, hallow both thine eyes and brow and the other senses. Then wait for the prayer, and give thanks unto God, who hath accounted thee worthy of so great mysteries.

"Hold fast these traditions unspotted, and keep yourselves free from offence. Sever not yourselves from the Communion; deprive not yourselves, by the pollution of sins, of these Holy and Spiritual Mysteries. And the God of peace sanctify you wholly; and may your whole spirit, and soul, and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: To whom be glory and honour and might, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and world without end. Amen." (St. Cyril of Jerusalem's Lectures on the Christian Sacraments: The Procatechesis and the Five Mystagogical Catecheses, edited by F. L. Cross, St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1986, pages 79-80)
Rev. Rick Stuckwisch6 Comments