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RESERVATION OF THE

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Originally appearing in Volume V09, Page 877 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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RESERVATION OF THE EUCHARIST The practice of reserving the sacred elements for the purpose of subsequent reception prevailed in the church from very early times. The Eucharist being the seal of Christian fellowship, it was a natural custom to send portions of the consecrated elements by the hands of the deacons to those who were not present (Justin Martyr, Apol. i. 65). From this it was an easy development, which prevailed before the end of the 2nd century, for churches to send the consecrated Bread to one another as a sign of communion (the ei,xaptaria mentioned by Irenaeus, ap. Eus. H.E. v. 24), and for the faithful to take it to their own homes and reserve it in arcae or caskets for the purpose of communicating themselves (Tert. ad Uxor. ii. 5, De oral. 19; St Cypr. De lapsis, 132). Being open to objection on grounds both of superstition and of irreverence, these customs were gradually put down by the council of Laodicea in A.D. 360. But some irregular forms of reservation still continued; the prohibition as regards the lay people was not extended, at any rate with any strictness, to the clergy and monks; the Eucharist was still carried on journeys; occasionally it was buried with the dead; and in a few cases the pen was even dipped in the chalice in subscribing important writings. Meanwhile, both in East and West, the general practice has continued unbroken of reserving the Eucharist, in order that the " mass of the presanctified " might take place on certain "aliturgic" days, that the faithful might be able to communicate when there was no celebration, and above all that it might be at hand to meet the needs of the sick and dying. It was reserved in a closed vessel, which took various forms from time to time, known in the East as the aproc/xbpwv, and in the West as the turris, the capsa, and later on as the pyx. In the East it was kept against the wall behind the altar; in the West, in a locked aumbry in some part of the church, or (as in England and France) in a pyx made in the form of a dove and suspended over the altar. In the West it has been used in other ways. A portion of the consecrated Bread from one Eucharist, known as the " Fermentum," was long made use of in the next, or sent by the bishop to the various churches of his city, no doubt with the object of emphasizing, the solidarity and the continuity of " the one Eucharist "; and amongst other customs which prevailed for some centuries, from the 8th onward, were those of giving it to the newly ordained in order that they might communicate themselves, and of burying it in or under the altar-slab of a newly consecrated church. At a later date, apparently early in the14th century, began the practice of carrying the Eucharist in procession in a monstrance; and at a still later period, apparently after the middle of the 16th century, the practice of Benediction with the reserved sacrament, and that of the " forty hours' exposition," were introduced in the churches of the Roman communion. It should be said, however, that, most of these practices met with very considerable opposition both from councils and from theologians and canonists, amongst others from the English canonist William Lyndwood (Provinciale, lib. iii. c. 26), on the following grounds amongst others: that the Body of Christ is the food of the soul, that it ought not to be reserved except for the benefit of the sick, and that it ought not to be applied to any other use than that for which it was instituted. In England, during the religious changes of the 16th century, such of these customs as had already taken root were abolished; and with them the practice of reserving the Eucharist in the churches appears to have died out too. The general feeling on the subject is expressed by the language of the 28th Article, first drafted in 1553, to the effect that " the sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up or worshipped," and by the fact that a form was provided for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist for the sick in their own homes. This latter practice was in accordance with abundant precedent, but had become very infrequent, if not obsolete, for many years before the Reformation. The first Prayer-Book of Edward VI. provided that if there was a celebration in church on the day on which a sick person was to receive the Holy Communion, it should be reserved, and conveyed to the sick man's house to be administered to him; if not, the curate was to visit the sick person before noon and there celebrate according to a form which is given in the book. At the revision of the Prayer-Book in 1552 all mention of reservation is omitted, and the rubric directs that the communion is to be celebrated in the sick person's house, according to a new form; and this service has continued, with certain minor changes, down to the present day. That the tendency of opinion in the English Church during the period of the Reformation was against reservation is beyond doubt, and that the practice actually died out would seem to be equally clear. The whole argument of some of the controversial writings of the time, such as Bishop Cooper on Private Mass, depends upon that fact; and when Cardinal du Perron alleged against the English Church the lack of the reserved Eucharist, Bishop Andrewes replied, not that the fact was otherwise, but that reservation was unnecessary in view of the English form for the Communion of the Sick: " So that reservation needeth not; the intent is had without it" (Answers to Cardinal Perron, &c., p. 19, Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology). It does not follow, however; that a custom which has ceased to exist is of necessity forbidden, nor even that what was rejected by the authorities of the English Church in the 16th century is so explicitly forbidden as to be unlawful under its existing system; and not a few facts have to be taken into account in any investigation of the question. (I) The view has been held that in the Eucharist the elements are only consecrated as regards the particular purpose of reception in the service itself, and that consequently what remains unconsumed may be put to common uses. If this view were held (and it has more than once made its appearance in church history, though it has never prevailed), reservation might be open to objection on theological grounds. But such is not the view of the Church of England in her doctrinal standards, and there is an express rubric directing that any that remains of that which was consecrated is not to be carried out of the church, but reverently consumed. There can therefore be no theological obstacle to reservation in the English Church: it is a question of practice only. (2) Nor can it be said that the rubric just referred to is in itself a condemnation of reservation: it is rather directed, as its history proves, against the irreverence which prevailed when it was made; and in fact its wording is based upon that of a pre-Reformation order which coexisted with the practice of reservation (Lyndwood, Provinciale, lib. iii. tit. 26, note q). (3) Nor can it be said that the words of the 28th Article (see intelligible appeal. It belongs to the same order of ideas that the headship of the Messianic ecclesia in Judea was assigned after the death of Jesus to his eldest brother James, and after him for several generations to the eldest living representative of his above) constitute in themselves an express prohibition of reservation, strong as their evidence may be as to the practice and feeling of the time. The words are the common property of an earlier age which saw nothing objectionable in reservation for the sick. (4) It has indeed been contended (by Bishop Wordsworth of Salisbury) that reservation was not actually, though tacitly, continued under the second Prayer-Book of Edward VI., since that book orders that the curate shall " minister," and not " celebrate," the communion in the sick person's house. But such a tacit sanction on the part of the compilers of the second Prayer-Book is in the highest degree improbable, in view of their known opinions on the subject; and an examination of contemporary writings hardly justifies the contention that the two words are so carefully used as the argument would demand. Anyhow, as the bishop notes, this could not be the case with the Prayer-Book of 1661, where the word is "celebrate." (5) The Elizabethan Act of Uniformity contained a provision that at the universities the public services, with the exception of the Eucharist, might be in a language other than English; and in 156o there appeared a Latin version of the Prayer-Book, issued under royal letters patent, in which there was a rubric prefixed to the Order for the Communion of the Sick, based on that in the first Prayer-Book of Edward VI. (see above), and providing that the Eucharist should be reserved for the sick person if there had been a celebration on the same day. But although the book in question was issued under letters patent, it is not really a translation of the Elizabethan book at all, but simply a reshaping of Aless's clever and inaccurate translation of Edward VI.'s first book. In the rubric in question words are altered here and there in a way which shows that its reappearance can hardly be a mere printer's error; but in any case its importance is very slight, for the Act of Uniformity specially provides that the English service alone is to be used for the Eucharist. (6) It has been pointed out that reservation for the sick prevails in the Scottish Episcopal Church, the doctrinal standards of which correspond with those of the Church of England. But it must be remembered that the Scottish Episcopal Church has an additional order of its own for the Holy Communion, and that consequently its clergy are not restricted to the services in the Book of Common Prayer. Moreover, the practice of reservation which has prevailed in Scotland for over 150 years would appear to have arisen out of the special circumstances of that church during the 18th century, and not to have prevailed continuously from earlier times. (7) Certain of the divines who took part in the framing of the Prayer-Book of 1661 seem to speak of the practice as though it actually prevailed in their day. But Bishop Sparrow's words on the subject (Rationale, p. 349) are not free from difficulty on any hypothesis, and Thorndike (Works, v. 578, Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology) writes in such a style that it is often hard to tell whether he is describing the actual practice of his day or that which in his view it ought to be. (8) There appears to be more evidence than is commonly supposed to show that a practice analogous to that of Justin Martyr's day has been adopted from time to time in England, viz. that of conveying the sacred elements to the houses of the sick during, or directly after, the celebration in church. And in 1899 this practice received the sanction of Dr Westcott, then bishop of Durham. (9) On the other hand, the words of the oath taken by the clergy under the 36th of the Canons of 1604 are to the effect that they will use the form prescribed in the Prayer-Book and none other, except so far as shall be otherwise ordered by lawful authority; and the Prayer-Book does not even mention the reservation of the Eucharist, whilst the Articles mention it only in the way of depreciation. The matter has become one of no little practical importance owing to modern developments of English Church life. On the one hand, it is widely felt that neither the form for the Communion of the Sick, nor yet the teaching with regard to spiritual communion in the third rubric at the end of that service, is sufficient to meet all the cases that arise or may arise. On the other hand, it is probable that in many cases the desire for reservation has arisen, in part at least, from a wish for some-thing analogous to the Roman Catholic customs of exposition and benediction; and the chief objection to any formal practice of reservation, on the part of many who otherwise would not be opposed to it, is doubtless to be found in this fact. But however that may be, the practice of reservation of the Eucharist, either in the open church or in private, has become not uncommon in recent days. The question of the legality of reservation was brought before the two archbishops in 1899, under circumstances analogous to those in the Lambeth Hearing on Incense (q.v.). The parties concerned were three clergymen, who appealed from the direction of their respective diocesans, the bishops of St Albans and Peterborough and the archbishop of York: in the two former cases the archbishop (Temple) of Canterbury was the principal and the archbishop of York (Maclagan) the assessor, whilst in the latter case the functions were reversed. The hearing extended from 17th to loth July; counsel were heard on both sides, evidence was given in support of the appeals by two of the clergy concerned and by several other witnesses, lay and clerical, and the whole matter was gone into with no little fulness. The archbishops gave their decision on the 1st of May 1900 in two separate judgments, to the effect that, in Dr Temple's words, "the Church of England does not at present allow reservation in any form, and that those who think that it ought to be allowed, though perfectly justified in endeavouring to get the proper authorities to alter the law, are not justified in practising reservation until the law has been so altered." The archbishop of York also laid stress upon the fact that the difficulties in the way of the communion of the sick, when they are really ready for communion, are not so great as has sometimes been suggested. See W. E. Scudamore, Notitia eucharistica (and ed., London, 1876) ; and art. " Reservation " in Dictionary of Christian Antiquities, vol. ii. (London, 1893) ; Guardian newspaper, July 19 and 26, 1899, and May 2, 1900; The Archbishops of Canterbury and York on Reservation of the Sacrament (London, 1900) ; J. S. Franey, Mr Dibdin's Speech on Reservation, and some of the Evidence (London, 1899) ; F. C. Eeles, Reservation of the Holy Eucharist in the Scottish Church (Aberdeen, 1899) ; Bishop J. Wordsworth, Further Considerations on Public Worship (Salisbury, 1901). (W. E. Co.)
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