It is possible to put too much yeast in your bread. You end up with something full of holes. I make this point, because in the Christmas edition of the Yarra Theological Union Newsletter, YTU President Kathleen Williams RSM makes the following statement:
A little yeast: theology is meant to be that, a means for enabling people to become what they can be.
I didn’t know that was what theology was meant to be, but Tom Knowles SSS certainly uses too much yeast in his over-blown theological conclusions regarding the Holy See’s approval six years ago of the Assyrian Church’s Anaphora of Sts Addai and Mari (see his article “A Landmark Decision: Vatican Approval for Addai and Mari” in the same newsletter).
After accurately describing the decision and the reasons for it, he goes to make the following conclusions (my comments in bold italics):
The decision has clear ecumenical implications. As the Roman church moves beyond its medieval pre-occupation with the formula of consecration recited by the priest [you can already see where this is heading, can’t you?], it draws closer to the Eastern tradition that upholds the role of the Holy Spirit in transforming the bread and wine.
There are also liturgical implications. The decision invites the presider to see and pray the prayer as a connected whole, without singling out the institution narrative for special emphasis [that is true–which is why the laity may not join in any part of it–including the final doxology].
As a corollary, the presider’s gestures – the taking in hand of the bread and cup plus the elevations and accompanying genuflections (and ringing of the bell still in many places) – could be let go of in favour of the proper elevation of the hallowed gifts at the concluding doxology [why would you want to do this? what purpose would it serve, except to de-emphasise the doctrine of the real presence?].
Shifting the focus away from the institution narrative [ie. away from the words of Christ and the words of scripture that, despite the decision regarding the Anaphora of Addai and Madi, remain the focus of the Roman Eucharistic prayers] would allow the whole assembly not only to maintain a uniform posture throughout the eucharistic prayer [don’t they already? or does he mean standing for the whole thing?] but also to recognise the integrity of the whole prayer and to experience it as the prayer of the whole community [Que? you mean, not just the priest’s prayer?].
There may well be broader theological implications [but wait! there’s more!] consequent on the Vatican’s willingness to go beyond narrow medieval doctrinal positions in favour of the church’s [the Assyrian Church’s, not the Roman Church’s] tradition of prayer and worship but that’s for others with the proper theological competence to say [Deo Gratias!].
In the meantime there’s much to take heart from in this ‘audacious agreement’ [if you are an Assyrian Catholic. It concerns no one else.].