Richard Hooker on the Blessed Sacrament

Our hunger is satisfied and our thirst is for ever quenched; here are things wonderful which we feel, great which we see and unheard of which we utter whose souls are possessed of this Paschal Lamb and made joyful in the strength of this new wine. This bread hath in it more than the substance which our eyes behold, this cup hallowed with solemn benediction avails to the endless life and welfare both of soul and body…it serves as well as a medicine to heal our infirmities and purge our sins as for a sacrifice of thanksgiving…it is enough that to me who takes them, they are the Body and Blood of Christ, his promise suffices, his word he knows which way to accomplish. Why should any cogitation possess the mind of a faithful communicant but this: O my God, thou art true, O my soul, thou art happy?

Adapted from Of The Laws Of Ecclesiastical Polity, Richard Hooker, 1593

In remembrance of Corpus Christi, which is today included in the Church of England’s calendar of feasts I was reminded of this quote from the early Anglican theologian Richard Hooker. He seems to suggest here that in the act of sharing in the Lord’s Supper the Christian is transported not only to that upper room for the Last Supper, but in some mysterious and miraculous sense partakes of the fullness of God’s promises. All the Gospel might well be expressed in the celebration of the Eucharist, which is the everlasting feast all humanity is made for. Not only do we join the Disciples in that Upper Room, but we come to Christ trusting that he will fulfil his purposes on the earth if only we would come to him. We also come because we know that we as individuals need to receive this nourishment from the Lord, like the manna in the desert and like the great feast of the Psalmist or the promised abundance of Isaiah.

To come and take the small bite of bread and sip of the cup expresses a deeper and more real faith than any theologising of scriptural learning or moral piety could ever express.

Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

John 6:54

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