At the Glastonbury Pilgrimage, someone reminded me of how, several years ago, a seagull swooped down in what appeared to be an attempt to grab the Host held up for the communicants. If the seagull had consumed the Host, would it have received the Body of Christ?
When communicants are offered a consecrated Host, they discern and do indeed receive the Body of Christ. Some use the prayer of St Thomas Aquinas, that they may “not only receive the sacrament but also the substance and virtue of the sacrament” (“sed etiam rem et virtutem sacramenti”), and sing “Faith, our outward sense befriending, makes the inward vision clear.”
Seagulls, being devoid of this inward and spiritual vision of faith, are driven solely by natural craving for food, and, catching sight of a morsel of bread, will instantly snatch and consume it. Only in that mode could a seagull take the Host.
It is important to realise that the Real Presence of Christ in the eucharistic gifts is personal and dynamic and not spatially localised in the consecrated elements. The outward, visible, and, indeed, edible qualities of bread remain after consecration. It is as sacramental signs that the elements become vehicles of Christ’s presence and convey to participants of holy communion a share in his life.
On this understanding, the problem posed by the seagull scenario is likely to find a solution.
(Canon) Terry Palmer
Could some householders still be expected to pay for chancel repairs? Is it still wise to insure against such a risk?
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