Posted by: mattcolvin | July 23, 2015

Quotations on Real Presence and Eucharistic Adoration

I have long suspected that the rise of Anglo-Catholicism in North American Anglicanism can be partly attributed to the fact that the literature of the Oxford Movement and ritualism is in English, while many of the sources of classical Anglican doctrine and the works of the Caroline Divines and Reformers, many of them, remain in Latin.

I would like to help mitigate this problem by reproducing and, where necessary, translating some of the quotations collected in the pages of Nathaniel Dimock’s On Eucharistic Worship in the English Church.

We start with his opening quotation from Bishop Jewel, the main defender of the Elizabethan Settlement:

Now, touching the adoration of the sacrament, M. Harding is not able to show neither any commandment of Christ nor any word or example of the apostles or ancient fathers, concerning the same. It is a thing very lately devised, by Pope Honorius, about the year of our Lord 1226; afterward increased by the now solemn feast of Corpus Christi day, by Pope Urbanus, anno 1264; and last of all, confirmed forever by multitudes of pardons in the Council of Vienna by Pope Clement V, anno 1316. The church of Asia and Grecia never received it until this day. The matter is great, and cannot be attempted without great danger. To give the honour of God to a creature that is no God, it is manifest idolatry.” — Bishop Jewel

I would add that it is idolatry even if the theological ontology undergirding it is changed from Aristotelian/Thomistic to modern Nouvelle Theologie, or even to no ontology in particular.

Next, we have every high churchman’s favorite Caroline divine, Bishop Lancelot Andrewes:

“In the words the worship of the Sacrament he badly stumbles at the very threshold. Of the sacrament, he says, that is, of Christ present in the sacrament in a marvelous, but true way. But avaunt! Who granted him this? Of the sacrament, that is, of Christ in the sacrament. Nay, rather Christ Himself, the res of the sacrament, is to be adored in and with the sacrament, and outside and without the sacrament, wherever He is. The king, however, has decreed that Christ, being truly present in the Eucharist, ought also to be truly worshiped — the res, to be sure, but not the sacramentum, the earthly part, as Irenaeus calls it, or the visible, as Augustine terms it. Nor do we ever eat His flesh, but that we first worship Him, with Augustine. And nonetheless, we none of us worship the sacramentum. Let that be done which Christ wanted to be done when He said, ‘Do this.’ Nothing else shall be done that a priest might show, or the people worship, from a pyx.” — Bp. Lancelot Andrewes

(A pyx is a special box used for transporting consecrated Eucharistic hosts.)

Finally, another quotation, but one that was in English and needed no translating. It is from Thomas Morton, Bishop of Durham, whose 1618 Defense of the Innocencie of the Three Ceremonies of the Church of England is one of the most famous rebuttals against the Puritans:

“ I may ask any ingenuous man whether he ever heard (I do not say our Church, but) any approved Doctor therein, teach, that we do, or ought to kneel before the Sacrament; that by it, or in it, we may personally worship Christ, as if He were really present.” —Bp. Morton’s Defence of the Ceremonies, p. 285, London, 1619: ”Published by Authority.”)”

More to come later. As long as the quotations in Dimock remain untranslated in their original Latin, the erroneous opinion can be more plausibly put about that the practice of adoration directed at an alleged real presence in the elements is a permissible Anglican practice. But no one who can read and understand Latin could possibly harbor that opinion after reading the book. 

Perhaps I can help remedy this lack with more translations in the days to come.



  1. Matt, to your knowledge, how common is this practice in the various jurisdictions of the ACNA?

    • I don’t know, honestly.

  2. Thanks, Matt. Is the objection here to the act of bowing to the host or the combination of elevation and bowing? IOW, is elevation alone considered adoration?

    • All good questions. I guess my answer would be:

      The meaning of any given ritual act is dependent on the intention of the person who does it; but also on history and circumstances. For instance, the Declaration on Kneeling (Black Rubric) explains that the Anglican practice of kneeling to receive the elements is not intended as an act of worship directed toward a presence of Christ in the elements. On the other hand, there are practical limits on how far we can successfully replace the meaning of an action with some other meaning, especially when a much larger and older church like Rome does the same actions.

  3. Ah, ok. Thanks. So you are hoping to remedy, as you say, “adoration directed at an alleged real presence in the elements.” Got it. This is helpful. I look forward to more of your translations. God bless.

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