CMP Review 2023-04-06

CMP Review 2023-04-06

April 6, 2023

“Maundy Thursday receives its name from the mandatum (commandment) given by our Lord,” says the prayer book. “This day commemorates … the institution of the Eucharist.”

It may surprise some to hear of the special place of the Eucharist in Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education and life. “The meaning to us of the blessed Sacrament, the sign and, so far as it is truly the sign, the vehicle of that substance which is the life, depends upon our apprehension of Life and Meat,” wrote Charlotte Mason in 1898.

What does she mean by “our apprehension of Life”? She explains: “Our carnal and material minds are willing to receive it that all life is derived from God, as a gift is derived from a giver, but we shrink from the thought that all life is a manifestation of the very Life of God. Perhaps we shall approach to some realisation of the meaning of the mystery of those outward and visible signs—the bread which is made from the living seed, the wine which is crushed from the living fruit—when we perceive why these things sustain even our bodily life.”

This realisation led to one of the most profound sentences in all of Miss Mason’s writings: “All the life that we have, of whatever sort, is the life of Christ, and in proportion as we realise that which is least, we shall perceive, however dimly, that which is greatest, and every eating of bread and drinking of wine will become to us, in a lesser degree, sacramental.”

If every eating of bread can become, to some degree, sacramental, what of that grammar lesson or that lesson with your child in math? In 1913 Mason wrote that we can also “realize something of the solemn and sacramental character of education, which is the outward and visible sign of that inward and spiritual grace,—the life and growth of the human spirit.”

It all depends on our apprehension of Life. My prayer on this Maundy Thursday is for that apprehension to become just a bit more full.