, ,

interior churchIn the writings of Andrewes, Herbert and Eliot, the lineaments of the Christian life are traced out. We enter the Church through baptism:

            SInce, Lord, to thee
                       A narrow way and little gate
Is all the passage, on my infancie
                       Thou didst lay hold, and antedate
                                          My faith in me.

and we are subsequently fed by Christ in the Eucharist:

            O what sweetnesse from the bowl
            Fills my soul,

Such as is, and makes divine!

Is some starre (fled from the sphere)

Melted there,

Are we sugar melt in wine?

Or hath sweetnesse in the bread

Made a head

To subdue the smell of sinne;

Flowers, and gummes, and powders giving,

All their living,

Lest the enemy should winne?

What is received in the Eucharist is food for the soul which comes ‘in the bread’ and it has the power of God’s grace to overcome sin.  The Eucharist therefore is an effective means of conveying God’s grace to the communicant and which ‘perfumes the heart’.  God, in Christ is seen to be present in the Eucharist since the power of God ‘as broken’ is ‘here presented’.  Through the Eucharistic feast we are in God and He in us. As Herbert puts in it his poem Holy Communion:

Onley thy grace, which with these elements comes,

Knoweth the ready way,

And hath the privie key,

Op’ning the souls most subtile rooms;

While those to spiritis refin’d, at doore attend

Dispatches from their friend.

Give me my captive soul, or take

My bodie also thither.

Another lift like this will make

Them both to be together.

Before that sinne turn’d flesh to stone,

And all our lump to leaven;

A fervent sigh might well have blown

Our innocent earth to heaven.

Thou hast restor’d us to this ease

By this thy heav’nly bloud;

Which I can go to, when I please,

And leave th’earth to their food.”

The Anglican belief in the ‘Real Presence’ has seldom been better expressed. It is through this Holiest of Sacraments that we grow in our faith.

As S Paul tells us, our real life is hid in Christ, something Herbert captures in the very form of his poem on that passage:


MY words and thoughts do both express this notion,
That LIFE hath with the sun a double motion.
The first IS straight, and our diurnal friend :
The other HID, and doth obliquely bend.
One life is wrapt IN flesh, and tends to earth ;
The other winds t'wards HIM whose happy birth
Taught me to live here so THAT still one eye
Should aim and shoot at that which IS on high—
Quitting with daily labour all MY pleasure,
To gain at harvest an eternal TREASURE.

All Christians are called to holiness of life through the spiritual disciplines of regular worship, reception of the Sacraments, and prayer. We are not atomised Christians, isolated each from another, but rather part the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church as the visible divine society founded by Christ himself to carry forth his mission on earth until the end of time.