Wash before dinner

The Canadian Anglican Bishops have affirmed the standing tradition on the question of receiving communion prior to baptism. I am not particularly surprised by this affirmation. I continue to find the logic of the traditional sequence to be persuasive, in spite of the emotional appeal of the contrary position. I am much more supportive of the efforts to link baptism with eucharistic participation -- a movement not aided by our current BCP's awkward placement of the Peace so as to interrupt the flow directly into the Prayers of the People — participation in which is historically as much a sign of incorporation in the body of the faithful as the rest of the Eucharist. (This was anciently the turning point at which the catechumens were dismissed from the mysteries.)

I've rehearsed elsewhere how we have come to this pickle, in terms of up-playing the Eucharist precisely in a time when a larger number of un-baptized persons are likely to be in attendance in churches; downplaying such liturgies as Morning Prayer at which all are clearly welcome; and emphasizing formation for baptism and making it more intentional than it was in earlier days, when it was simply expected that the baby would be done. With all of these changes, like the Red Queen we need to hasten if only to stay in the same place! If that is what we want, of course... But if we are going to change, let us look at the big picture, and not tinker.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

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