About a week ago my very dear friend and I were assisting another very dear friend, a priest, as she celebrated Mass. My EM friend noticed that I knelt during the period starting with the Sanctus and ending with the time when the third bell, if we used bells at Trinity, would be rung signifying the arrival of Our Lord and Savior.
My very dear friend caught me after the Mass and asked me point blank: “how can you stand to knell on that hard marble floor for so long?” My response was I can’t stand it and that is precisely why I do it. It allows me to feel just a bit of the pain suffered by Jesus as he was scourged and crucified. It allows me to feel the helplessness and hopelessness he must have felt as his humanity was crushed out of him first by the scourging and then by his suffocation through crucifixion. And at the end with the completion of the epiclesis it allows me feel the tremendous lift from the fact of the resurrection as I regain my footing to receive the blessed sacrament.
I think we Episcopalians have it right. After the suffering of the crucifixion we feel full force the resurrection by receiving the wine and the wafer. Wine is an alcoholic drink which is to be used with great circumspection because it induces a sense of euphoria resembling the euphoria of the resurrection. Its use has been questioned by our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters in the past and alternatively embraced by them after Vatican II. Anglicans have never wavered on this point: the wine serves a very useful purpose of reminding us of the resurrection. Christ has died, Christ is Risen, Christ will come again. And he comes again whenever two or three are gathered in his name and especially during Mass on Sunday.
So, this middle class laymen lawyer has found a way of communicating with his Lord and Savior in a very personal way. He communicates and empathizes by allowing himself to suffer, just a little, which brings home to him the enormous sacrifice Jesus has made for us on the cross.
Go and do likewise my brothers and sisters.
PS. So often I feel unworthy. I feel unworthy as a lawyer, unworthy as a churchman, unworthy as a husband and father, and unworthy as a friend. I have so many dear friends who have helped me so much in my quest for redemption that I am truly thankful to them all especially those who wear clerical collars. Be there no doubt that when God calls these people they become messengers of God in the truest sense. May the Lord Bless and Keep Them All.