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Father Thomas Hopko on "discerning the body"

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In multiple of his podcasts (see, for example: http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/hopko/the_liturgy_of_the_pre_sanctified_gifts_part_2), Father Thomas Hopko appears to say that St Paul's phrase "not discerning the body" does not mean failing to discern that the bread of which we partake is the Precious Body of the Lord but rather failing to appreciate that the Church is mystically the Body of the Lord, to which we are united.

Are these two things connected, one in the same, or very different? If they are different, which interpretation of St Paul's words do you prefer and why?

For my part, I must say that I have always read the phrase "not discerning the Lord's body" to be a clear condemnation of the heresy of memorialism (though it emerged later) and an affirmation that the Lord's Precious Body is "food indeed".
 

FormerReformer

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I think it is entirely possible for the two to be related. Notice how denominations that adhere to a memorialist position on Communion also deny sacraments and have extremely weak or non-existent ecclesiologies. At the same time, it was an inherent problem with Western ecclesiology and "discerning the Body" that is the Church that led to the development of denominations that hold to memorialist positions.
 

FatherHLL

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akimori makoto said:
In multiple of his podcasts (see, for example: http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/hopko/the_liturgy_of_the_pre_sanctified_gifts_part_2), Father Thomas Hopko appears to say that St Paul's phrase "not discerning the body" does not mean failing to discern that the bread of which we partake is the Precious Body of the Lord but rather failing to appreciate that the Church is mystically the Body of the Lord, to which we are united.

Are these two things connected, one in the same, or very different? If they are different, which interpretation of St Paul's words do you prefer and why?

For my part, I must say that I have always read the phrase "not discerning the Lord's body" to be a clear condemnation of the heresy of memorialism (though it emerged later) and an affirmation that the Lord's Precious Body is "food indeed".
You are correct.  It is both. 
 

NicholasMyra

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I know that in one podcast, Fr. Hopko implies that they are related. He related the passage, I believe, to how a new priest would be made to hold the lamb and was told that he would answer on the day of judgement for that body.

The Eucharist is the body of Christ and the body of Christ is the Church.
 
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Thanks to you all.

In the particular podcast I linked, Father Tom seems to go as far as to say that "discerning the body" cannot mean understanding that the bread of which we commune is the very Precious Body of the Lord. He seems to think this idea is scholastic and, while not outrightly condemning it, certainly condemns some of its knock-on effects.

That said, I might not have been giving Father Tom's podcast a fair treatment as I was listening to it while on a treadmill. In any case, I am not suggesting that Father Tom denies the Real Presence, but his seeming insistence that "discerning the body" cannot mean confessing the Real Presence seems odd to me.
 

Cavaradossi

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akimori makoto said:
Thanks to you all.

In the particular podcast I linked, Father Tom seems to go as far as to say that "discerning the body" cannot mean understanding that the bread of which we commune is the very Precious Body of the Lord. He seems to think this idea is scholastic and, while not outrightly condemning it, certainly condemns some of its knock-on effects.

That said, I might not have been giving Father Tom's podcast a fair treatment as I was listening to it while on a treadmill. In any case, I am not suggesting that Father Tom denies the Real Presence, but his seeming insistence that "discerning the body" cannot mean confessing the Real Presence seems odd to me.
I think a reasonable case for his understanding could also be built from our own liturgical practice. If we understood 'discerning the body' to mean intellectually understanding that the gifts are the Body of Christ, then we would not commune infants, for fear that they would partake unto their own condemnation.
 
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Cavaradossi said:
akimori makoto said:
Thanks to you all.

In the particular podcast I linked, Father Tom seems to go as far as to say that "discerning the body" cannot mean understanding that the bread of which we commune is the very Precious Body of the Lord. He seems to think this idea is scholastic and, while not outrightly condemning it, certainly condemns some of its knock-on effects.

That said, I might not have been giving Father Tom's podcast a fair treatment as I was listening to it while on a treadmill. In any case, I am not suggesting that Father Tom denies the Real Presence, but his seeming insistence that "discerning the body" cannot mean confessing the Real Presence seems odd to me.
I think a reasonable case for his understanding could also be built from our own liturgical practice. If we understood 'discerning the body' to mean intellectually understanding that the gifts are the Body of Christ, then we would not commune infants, for fear that they would partake unto their own condemnation.
In the podcast I linked, this is precisely one of the follow-ons of that particular interpretation which Father Tom unambiguously condemns.

I don't understand how infants and "the retarded" (as Father Tom terms them) can discern that the Church is the Lord's Body any more than they can discern that the Precious Gifts are his very Body and Blood.
 

NicholasMyra

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akimori makoto said:
I don't understand how infants and "the retarded" (as Father Tom terms them) can discern that the Church is the Lord's Body any more than they can discern that the Precious Gifts are his very Body and Blood.

In the context of the passage, we are talking about mistreating others in relation to the holy gifts, and "not discerning the body" could thus be phrase "acting like it's not the body" or "forgetting it's the body" or "treating it profanely".

Similar to how Paul says "do you not know that you are vessels of the Holy Spirit?" (paraphrase)
 
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NicholasMyra said:
akimori makoto said:
I don't understand how infants and "the retarded" (as Father Tom terms them) can discern that the Church is the Lord's Body any more than they can discern that the Precious Gifts are his very Body and Blood.

In the context of the passage, we are talking about mistreating others in relation to the holy gifts, and "not discerning the body" could thus be phrase "acting like it's not the body" or "forgetting it's the body" or "treating it profanely".

Similar to how Paul says "do you not know that you are vessels of the Holy Spirit?" (paraphrase)
Indeed, but the text takes it for granted that the bread of which we commune is the very Body of the Lord, yes?

I am comfortable with FatherHLL's "both", and I do not for a second believe that Father Tom denies the orthodox teaching on the Precious Gifts, but I just don't understand Father Tom's apparent need to make the quoted verse not be about the Real Presence, you know what I mean?

 

NicholasMyra

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akimori makoto said:
I just don't understand Father Tom's apparent need to make the quoted verse not be about the Real Presence, you know what I mean?
To be intellectually honest I have to say that I think this verse originally most likely referred to the body as Church, which we know is the body of Christ. But in context, the passage seems to be referring to the body as in the members of Christ, the Church, because the surrounding text refers to mistreating that body in the form of other humans.

That doesn't exclude a real-presence type interpretation, I just think such an interpretation would be a later one. We don't discount interpretations of Genesis which would not have concerned the original authors, and we don't do it to St. Paul's letters either. Or the Gospels.

I don't think St. Mark expected people to read the Theophany story and go, "woa, Trinity in unity revealed!" but that's still one of our main Orthodox interpretations of that event in the Gospels.
 
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