Monkey Mind has a great post today on Communion. Here is Henry Ware Jr. on the Lord's Supper (excerpted):
"Settle it distinctly in your mind, that this ordinance, so far as relates to your concern in it, has a twofold purpose; first, t,o express and manifest your faith in Christ, and your allegiance and attachment to him; secondly, to aid and strengthen you in a faithful adherence to his religion... These are the two objects which the ordinance is intended to accomplish, and which you are to have constantly in view...As soon, therefore, as your attention to religious things has sufficiently prepared and settled your mind, you will solemnly acknowledge it by this outward testimonial of faith. So far the ordinance looks to the past. It also looks to the future ; and you will, secondly, as I said, use it-as a salutary means of religious growth, appointed to this end, and singularly suited to accomplish it. You will regard it, and attend it, as one of the appropriate instruments by which you are to keep alive, and carry on to perfection, that principle of spiritual life, which has had birth within you, and which has made a certain progress toward maturity...Is it not, then, evident, that you have here a means of singular power, to keep the attention awake and the heart right; and that your spirit can hardly slumber, if you faithfully open it to the influences of this observance. Remember, however, that its value will depend on yourself, and the manner in which you engage in it. It has no mystical charm, no secret and magic power, to bless you against your will. Every thing depends on your own sincerity and devotion. Earnestly desire, and pray, and endeavor that it may do you good, and it will do you good. Go to it heedless, thoughtless, and unprepared, and it will prove to you an idle and inefficient ceremony. The great cause why so many derive no improvement from the repeated performance of the duty, is, that they attend it with inconsideration and coldness, and with little purpose or desire of being affected by it. Let your attendance be in a different state of mind. Engage resolutely in the suitable meditations; examine yourself before and after; come to the celebration with a temper prepared for worship, and leave it with one prepared for duty..."
Thanks for the post James. Blessings
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H. Ware has got it exactly right. As a practitioner of the ceremony for 50 years, and I still participate when in a Catholic church I always find that it is a meaningful experience and renews my commitment to love and serve in the best sense of the word.
I appreciate very much your expanding on James' post with your own.
All the best,
It is very gratifying for me to see all this attention to Henry Ware Jr. I wrote my 2001 PhD dissertation at the University of Oregon on "The Wares: Three Generations of American Unitarians," essentially using their biographies as a way of retelling our early denominational history from a different perspective, and as well as using their careers (father, two sons, three sons-in-law, half-a-dozen grandsons and a handful of protoges - Emerson included) as a "marker" to track how the profession of ministry itself changed in that time, in response to things like the Second Great Awakening and Revivalism, Jacksonian democracy, and the Market and Transportation revolutions. 450 pages but still I'm told a pretty compelling read. I certainly learned a lot writing it, which I suppose was the entire point of the exercise anyway.
As an old Anglican, I very much feel the same way about the Eucharist.
Eclectic, I would love to read your dissertation...
Blessings to both, BU
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