Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas as a new Catholic, part two

In Exmas and Crissmas Lewis writes the following: "And those who keep Crissmas, doing the opposite to the majority of the Niatirbians, rise early on that day with shining faces and go before sunrise to certain temples where they partake of a sacred feast."

I never quite knew what he meant by that. I assumed it must be the custom in Anglican churches in England for the people to have refreshments after Christmas morning services, and Lewis' "Herodotus" was mistaking that for something sacred.

Then I read the essay for the first time as a Catholic and thought Ohhhhhhh! Duh!

That tells you how much the Eucharist had faded in importance in my Protestant denomination, even though we had Communion once a month, more often than some churches. And yet it's the one thing Jesus commanded us to do to worship Him. He didn't say, "Hear sermons and sing songs and go to Sunday school in remembrance of me," thought obviously all those things are good. It was "This is my body.... Do this in remembrance of me." The first Christians "devoted themselves to... the breaking of bread", and Paul writes very sternly about doing it properly (lest we be "guilty of profaning the Body and Blood of the Lord"), and Jesus has a long discourse about it in John 6 which even if you insist on interpreting symbolically should still make you figure the symbol is pretty darn important: "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you". And in the earliest post-Bible description of a Christian worship service, St. Justin Martyr's account from about AD 150, you find that the early Christians celebrated the Eucharist every time they met, and believed that it became the Body and Blood of Christ through the prayer of the priest, just as Catholics believe today. Helps to explain why I've heard of several Protestant ministers who decided to go back to the purity of the early church's worship and ended up concluding, after some study, that that meant having the Eucharist every Sunday. But then, those ministers eventually followed through to the logical conclusion and became Catholic (giving up their livelihoods to do so).

Okay... I didn't quite mean to write an apologetics post here. My point was to make fun of myself for thinking that Lewis' "sacred feast" was coffee and donuts. :)


Desmond said...

Hi Rachel,

I notice you haven't been receiving a lot of feedback in terms of comments, so I just wanted to say how much I've enjoyed reading your blog. I came upon it yesterday through a link from Irenaeus at Retractiones and I've now read all of your posts back to the first one in October. You have an engaging sense of humour and some insightful things to say about faith and all of that.

It is nice, incidentally, to read positive stuff about nuns, especially since the mainstream media seem to find consecrated life incomprehensible (- I'm a cradle Catholic living in the UK so I'm talking about UK media). Did you happen to see the video on Dawn Eden's blog ( where Mark Gauvreau Judge "interviewed" Sister Marla Marie? Dawn posted it on December 22. The word 'charming' came to mind as I watched.

Anyway, I hope you will continue to post your thoughts and not be discouraged by sparsity of comments.

Best wishes for 2008.

Rachel Gray said...

Wow, that ranks as one of the best blog comments ever received! People should be required to study it before hitting the comboxes. :) Thanks so much, Desmond-- does tell me that a few people read this thing, but it's great to have actual human comments confirming the fact. I haven't seen the video on Dawn Eden's blog yet but I'll check it out. Incidentally, if the UK media talks about nuns at *all*, that's more than I see here in the US...