RESERVATION OF THE SACRAMENT: In the Early Church. The keeping back from the public service of the Holy Communion of portions of the consecrated bread and wine for subsequent use. The earliest mention of this practise is in Justin Martyr (I Apol., lxv., lxvii.; ANF, i. 185-186). Describing the Sunday worship of Christians, he says that distribution is made to each of his share of the elements which have been blessed, and to those who are not present it is sent by the ministry of the deacons. Tertullian (200 A.D.) speaks of the Lord's body being reserved and carried home from the public service for later private consumption (De oratione, xix.; Eng. transl., ANF, iii. 687; Ad uxorem, II., v., Eng. transl., ANF, iv. 46-47). Eusebius (Hist. eccl., VI., xliv. Eng. transl., NPNF, 2 ser., i. 290) quotes an account by Dionysius of Alexandria of an aged man who, under persecution, had joined in an act of idolatry, but in his last sickness earnestly desired reconciliation with the Church, to whom a small portion of the eucharist was sent by a messenger. Basil (350 A.D.) writes of the custom among the religious solitaries: "All those who live in solitudes as monks or hermits, where there is no priest, keeping the communion in their houses, take it with their own hands. And in Alexandria and in Egypt each, even of the lay people, for the most part has the communion in his own house, and when he wills communicates himself. For when once the priest has consecrated the sacrifice and has delivered it, he who has once received it as a whole, and partakes of it day by day, ought to believe that he partakes and receives from the hand of him who has given it" (Epist., xciii., cf. NPNF, 2 ser., viii. 179). This custom was naturally resorted to in times of persecution. An allusion of Jerome (Epist., cxxv., NPNF, 2 ser. vi. 251) implies that in some cases and places the sacrament was thus taken home: "None is richer than (a bishop of Toulouse), for his wicker basket contains the body of the Lord, and his plain glass cup the precious blood." From Chrysostom's account of the attack on the bishop's church on Easter eve it appears that the sacrament was reserved in both kinds in a sacristy of the church "where the sacred vessels were stored" (Epist. to Innocent I., iii.). Irenæus (180 A.D.) gives the earliest known instance of the sending of the eucharist to a distance as a pledge of communion (Fragment iii. of his Epist. to Victor of Rome). This practise was later forbidden by the Synod of Laodicea (365) and the use of eulogia (a blessed, but not consecrated bread) was substituted. A similar custom obtained in the sending of portions of the elements (called the fermentum) consecrated at the bishop's Eucharist to other churches under his care, where they were mingled with the elements consecrated by the local priest. This was more especially a custom of the church at Rome.
Medieval and Eastern Usage. By degrees other uses besides that of communion were made of the consecrated elements. Bread was carried as a charm for protection when traveling, or in undergoing trial by ordeal; it was buried with the dead, or in an altar; documents were signed with a pen dipped in the wine. The Synod of Carthage (397) and that of Auxerre (578) forbade administering the eucharist to the dead. As the theory of our Lord's presence in the sacrament was developed, the elements came to be used more distinctly for worship "as a center of prayer." The events of Holy Week (q.v.) were dramatized, the host (or consecrated wafer) being carried in procession on Palm Sunday, placed in a sepulcher on Good Friday, and carried in the procession on Easter Day (see PROCESSIONS). The festival of Corpus Christi (q.v.) was instituted in the thirteenth century in honor of the doctrine of Transubstantiation (q.v.) and it was probably in the next century that the sacrament was first publicly exposed on Corpus Christi Day for the veneration of the faithful. In the sixteenth century it became common to expose the sacrament at other times. The devotion of the forty hours' worship of the exposed sacrament was due to a Capuchin of Milan, who died in 1556. In 1592 Pope Clement VIII. provided for the perpetual public adoration of the sacrament on the altars of the different churches in Rome, the forty hours in one church succeeding to the forty hours in another. Of the custom of benediction with the sacrament, J. B. Thiers (Traité de l'exposition du saint sacrament de l'autel, Paris, 1673) declares that he found no mention in any ritual or ceremonial older than about a hundred years. In the Eastern Church, at the present day, as in primitive times, the sacrament is reserved for the purpose of communion only. For this use, some of the consecrated bread is steeped in the chalice, and is preserved in a box usually behind the altar. In the Latin Church since the Council of Constance (1414) only the actual celebrant of the mass partakes of the cup; so that the wafer alone is reserved, and that in a receptacle called a pyx (see VESSELS, SACRED), which was in earlier times placed on or above the altar but is now (except when in use for exposition or benediction) itself contained in a locked tabernacle above the altar.
In the Evangelical Churches. At the Reformation the different Protestant confessions vigorously denounced these uses of the sacrament; e.g., Melanchthon's "Saxon Confession" declared, "It is a manifest profanation to carry about and worship a part of the Lord's Supper (art. xv.); cf. J. W. Richard, Philip Melanchthon, pp. 353-354, New York, 1898), and so the Westminster Confession (XXIX., iv.; cf. Schaff, Creeds, iii. 665). Art. XXVIII. of the Thirty-nine Articles is much more moderate in its wording, simply declaring that "the sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshiped." The first English Prayer Book (1549) made provision for the reservation of the sacrament for the communion of sick persons under certain restrictions, which provision was withdrawn from the second Prayer Book (1552), and provision was made only for the private celebration in the sick man's house of the ordinary service in a shortened form, including the consecration. The question of the lawfulness in the Church of England of reserving the sacrament for the sick was considered at a formal hearing before the archbishops of Canterbury and York (Drs. Temple and Maclagan) in 1899, and their opinion was adverse. In the Scottish Episcopal Church there has been a continuous tradition sanctioning the practise; and recognized Anglican divines, such as Herbert Thorndike (d. 1672), have advocated it.
ARTHUR C. A. HALL.