Friday, October 24, 2008


Since our small mission congregation meets in rented space we occasionally have need to travel to other churches for Divine Liturgy when our own room is not available for our use. I can't remember for the life of me where we were visiting, then, when about three quarters of the way through liturgy I saw out of the corner of my eye what I swore was a duck suspended over the altar. Because of the iconostasis and our location in relation to it, I never actually got a good look at this flying anomaly but stored the information away in the recesses of my addled mind for questioning Fr. Greg on it later.

A few weeks ago it worked its way to the front of my brain and expressed itself as "What's up with the duck?"

Turns out it's not actually a duck but a dove (well...huh...that makes a little more sense) and some churches actually use it is a vessel for the consecrated elements in exchange for a more traditional tabernacle. Not to make light of anyone's tabernacle but my initial response was to find this idea a bit, well, tacky.

My understanding of the tabernacle (admittedly a primarily Roman Catholic one) is that it represents the holy womb of the Theotokos - containing within it the full humanity and full divinity of Christ as expressed in His holy Eucharist. So if we take the Eucharist out of the "womb" and place it within the Holy Spirit (is the dove not a representation of the person of the Trinity known to us as the Holy Spirit?) isn't this some kind of convoluted twist on the filioque clause? Instead of the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son, He now *contains* the Son. That doesn't seem right either.

So unless someone can set me aright I will continue to think of this phenomenon as an oddity I've termed the duckernacle.


Rick said...

Well I must admit I am like you and would prefer a traditional tabernacle in the case you laid out.

I am at peace though because the Holy Spirit is everywhere present and fillest all things. (Even tacky tabernacles which cease to become tacky once they hold the Body and Blood.)

I guess you could argue that sense in the Liturgy we pray "Once again we offer to You this spiritual worship without the shedding of blood, and we ask, pray, and entreat You: send down Your Holy Spirit upon us and upon these gifts here presented.
And make this bread the precious Body of Your Christ", that the tabernacle is reminding us the very fact that without the Holy Spirit sanctifying the elements and without the Holy Spirit sanctifying us we would neither have the ability to participate in the Body and Blood, nor be able to live through such an attempt. (Excuse the run on me grammer stinks :) )

Also, was the Theotokos not over shadowed with power from on HIgh? At what point during the incarnation did Christ cease to live in community with the Father and the Holy Spirit?

I loved your post and have been contemplating it and will continue to do so. I am with you by the way . I would like to think that someone gave the tabernacle to the Church without realizing what it should have looked like and the Church used it. This may not be the case but it helps this rigid reforming western thinking by the book sinner to sleep at night to think it so. Having a duckernacle to save someone's feelings or show appreciations for someone's generosity makes me happier than to think that it was the best thing to buy. :) It has kind of reminded me of some of those extra liturgies in the Red BCP.

Mairs said...

Thanks for the thoughts Rick. Good point in the run on fact, I just pointed out that part of the prayers to my son during DL on Sunday for a completely different reason....