1. We want something special to happen, so we
2. ask a special person to say a special formula to make sure it happens the way we want it to happen.
Over the centuries, skeptics have claimed that our celebration of the Holy Eucharist is essentially a piece of elaborate magic. The priest has to say certain words over certain things at just the right time, and then poof! the bread and wine becomes holy.
The scary thing about this idea is that many in our church hold this opinion too. If the cup isn’t in the right place, or if the lid is on the flagon of wine, then the Holy Spirit wasn’t able to get in and do his work. That mindset actually takes away from the power of the Eucharist because it’s become a magical formula rather than a mysterious rite.
William Temple has this to say:
“Guard[ing] against the other danger – that of attributing to physical reception of the Sacrament any magical efficacy. The “Real Presence” in the Eucharist is a fact, but it is not unique. The Word of God is everywhere present and active. No words can exaggerate the reverence due to that divinely appointed means of grace; but it is very easy to confine our reverence when we ought to extend it, and to concentrate it only on this focal manifestation of the divine Presence, instead of seeking that Presence and Activity also in the Church, which itself is called the Body of Christ, and in all the world which came to be through Him.
“So soon as the Sacrament is isolated it becomes in greater or less degree magical.”