Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A Fine Ecclesiastical Body of Men (and Women)


Past Elder made this comment amid all the ruckus of the duel:
Go back to the church you left. I'm sure it's bloody awful as an ecclesiatical body. They all are, even the pre conciliar Roman church, and most certainly LCMS.
For the record, I want to say that Lutheran Church of Australia is a very fine ecclesiastical body. I didn't leave it because it was "bloody awful". It was the best humanly possible in many ways, and in human terms much finer in many ways than the one I belong to now. (I am thinking of the title of the book by Catholic convert Joana Bogle called "Come on in, it's awful!"). I left the Lutheran Church of Australia for one reason only: it was not the Catholic Church established by Jesus Christ, and nothing could have been done to make it the Catholic Church. And as they say in the movies, it was "no-one's fault, not even the Romans." It was just the way it was.

22 Comments:

At Wednesday, June 20, 2007 5:03:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

You know, I'm really going to have to start posting here in Spanish. Or maybe my bad Bavarian derived Minnesota German. Or perhaps dust off the Latin and try that, though it's been forty some years since I attempted original compostion in Latin and Sister Colleen is probably long gone and unable to correct it. Because apparently I am unable to make myself clear in English.

In no way did I mean to suggest you left the LCA because it was bloody awful. What I meant to say is this: all of our demoninations are "bloody awful" in that we are all simul peccator et justus (there's that blasted preconciliar j again!) so that we all of us, in Rome or out here in the ecclesial unions as you call them, have those for whom the church is more about power and position than the Gospel of Christ, those who blatantly do not teach what their church teaches, those who actively try to change what their church teaches, and the like, therefore the presence or for that matter the absence of these things in a church body argues neither for nor against it.

I absolutely get it that you left what you left because it is not what you take what you joined to be, the church established by Jesus Christ.

And I have absolutely no other reason for coming to your blog but to carry the message that, having witnessed the construction of the church you have joined and been taught by some of its architects, if the Catholic Church ever was that church established by Jesus Christ what became of it at Vatican II has entirely vacated that claim.

I am not a third Martin. I am not about to produce an Examen of Vatican II. In fact, I do not hold what I now hold re the post conciliar church as a result of being Lutheran at all, I held it for some twenty years before becoming Lutheran. And I re-iterate these points because for one thing I want it to be quite clear that what I say about the current RC church ought not be ascribed to being Lutheran nor are they necesarily the views of any other Lutheran but me, and for another I want it to be quite clear that I do not spend my life trying to convince people that the Catholic Church is not the Catholic Church but that, our having crossed paths on a Lutheran blog, I come here to say as one who was once a Catholic that, as they say, you missed it bro, which is not really something at discussion on a Lutheran blog.

 
At Wednesday, June 20, 2007 9:48:00 pm , Blogger Dixie said...

David, your post reminds me of a letter sent by the ever-memorable Archimandrite Lazarus (Moore) to Bishop Kallistos Ware a year before the latter's reception to the Church:

"Here I must warn you that the outward form of the Church [ i.e., the Orthodox Church] is desperately wretched, in a word crucified, with little cooperation or coordination between the various national bodies, little deep use and appreciation of our spiritual riches, little missionary and apostolic spirit, little grasp of the situation or of the needs of our times, little generosity or heroism or real sanctity. My advice is: Look not at the things that are seen..."

One of the things I have noticed online and even in real life, when someone jumps ship and converts, is that this is done because of the waywardness of their former denomination. The underlying presumption being...if the denomination did not have these "problems" the individual would never have converted.

From a convert perspective I find such an analysis inaccurate and incomplete. No doubt problems in the denomination can serve as a catalyst to prayer, study and evaluation and ultimately to a decision to leave. But they do not necessarily point where to go. And anyone who is being honest with themselves will see similar problems on the horizon where they are heading.

Past Elder is right...there are problems everywhere because there are sinful people everywhere.

David, it was refreshing to read your positive comments about your time with the LCA. Would that I be so charitable.

 
At Wednesday, June 20, 2007 11:35:00 pm , Anonymous Christine said...

One of the things I have noticed online and even in real life, when someone jumps ship and converts, is that this is done because of the waywardness of their former denomination.

Good point, Dixie. I am also pretty much in the same frame of reference as David. I did not leave my Lutheran roots because of waywardness of any kind. Long before I made the decision to enter the Catholic Church I had worshipped in both traditions since childhood as I had one Catholic and one Lutheran parent.

The noted Lutheran Church historian Jaroslav Pelikan, whose scholarly credentials are without question, made his conversion late in life to Orthodoxy but I am sure he would never have repudiated all that was good in his years as a Lutheran pastor and scholar. He did not speak much about his conversion except to say that he "became what he had always been."

Much the same reason I became Catholic.

 
At Thursday, June 21, 2007 2:40:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

And much the same reason I became Lutheran.

I did not jump ship though. There was 23 years between my decision to leave the "Catholic Church" and my profession of faith as a Lutheran. During that time I believed and hung around but did not covert to Orthodox Judaism (read, Judaism -- you think I'm extreme, my kind of rabbi doesn't even call Reform rabbis by that term, but "clergypeople") -- punctuated by periodic attempts to convince myself that the RC church really was still there, each time finding more reason than the last that it wasn't. More than jumping ship, my thought was since the only church founded by Jesus Christ was the Catholic Church and that was now in ruins, Christianity itself was invalid so the thing to do is hang with what went before it. Despite a lifetime of being around Lutherans, mostly LCMS, and now about to marry one, Lutheranism itself seemed to me a well intended effort at being Catholic without being Catholic. Now I know it's being catholic.

The cardinal moment for me was reading Luther's treatment of the Eucharist in Babylonian Captivity. I was astounded. I thought, I have never read such a Catholic exposition on the subject. And after my pastor gave me the Tappert BOC, that progressed to the whole of the faith.

So I too can say that while in earthly terms I converted to something, as experienced by me I have not converted to anything, but simply found a parish in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church where the sacraments are rightly administered and the Gospel rightly preached, where what my previous parishes hemmed and hawed to say is said and done clearly.

I am very grateful for the good I was given in Roman Catholicism and Orthodox Judaism. As to the post conciliar church, it is not that I repudiate what was good in my years in it, it is that I find nothing good in my years in it.

That's what is all about me, if you want to know. Those who hold to traditional Catholicism and Orthodox Judaism would probably say if you value so much what was good here then why are you there instead of here? I guess they'll know when they "convert" too. Those who hold to post conciliar Catholicism believe it or not are fine with me too, right until their leaders get them all into "come home" because it ain't my home and never was and never existed until its builders, some of whom I knew, tore what I once thought was home down and put it in its place and said it was the same. That utter lie still rankles me, but simply for the monstrosity of the lie and not at all a nostalgia wishing it hadn't happened, because happily the grace of God did show me where all that was true and good in Roman Catholicism and Orthodox Judaism that was so generously shared with me leads, where indeed to borrow the phrase I can truly and fully be what I always was and where I always wanted to be.

 
At Thursday, June 21, 2007 2:56:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

There has not been a great flood of converts from the Lutheran Church of Australia to the Catholic Church (and none to the Orthodox Church as far as I know) partly because it is such a well run ship. No-one runs away from home unless there are serious problems AT home.

To use an analogy that another Lutheran used about their conversion to Rome, they didn't abandon the tribal camp-fire; they realised that they were camping and that it was time to go home.

Maybe, Past Elder, some of your bitterness toward Rome flows from the fact whereas Dixie, and Christine, and myself, and many other "converts", find many good things to say about the communities in which we were raised, you say that you can identify "nothing good" in your years in the post-conciliar Church. That speaks volumes to us. I want to ask you whether it is possible to be a little more charitable, and whether or not there might not be some healing of the great hurt the Roman Church caused you if you were to reflect on the gifts (meagre though they may have been) that you received from her.

To use your analogy, even a whore is a woman, and is often someone's mother. Even those who engage in prostitution have an inherant dignity as human beings, which calls us to respect them. Is it not possible that in your rejection of Rome, you are damning her for precisely those outward things which Archimandrite Lazarus pointed out to Timothy Ware before he entered the Orthodox Church? Can you not see below the surface?

 
At Thursday, June 21, 2007 4:39:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

I think, brother (this is not a figure of speech, I regard you as a brother in Christ) you have missed some, but not all, of what I said.

I have much good to say about the community in which I was raised. The point is, that community was not the post conciliar Church. I was 12 when the council convened, and 20 when the novus ordo was promulgated. I served hundreds of Masses, maybe thousands, even before the 1962 missal. I remember when "changes in the church" meant the relatively new Communion service tacked on to Good Friday! I could not wait for the next Bishop Sheen "Life is Worth Living" show. The Baltimore Catechism was my favourite reading. On and on. I do not regret a moment of that. There is nothing I now believe that the community in which I was raised did not teach at least in nuce. In fact I do not see myself to-day as in a different community, but in a part of it where what is good and true is preserved, pruned only of unwarranted accretions, like the BOC envisions. The same thing, reformed. Home.

If it were based on outward flaws I would reject all of it, since the community in which I was raised as you call it, the Roman Catholic Church, had plenty of them and I saw up close and personal my share, and to be sure outward flaws did not start with Vatican II, nor is the part of that community to which I now belong free of it either, and you may shortly see some of that from Houston though I pray not. Nor am I free from flaws myself.

The post conciliar Church is not a part of any of that. It is not charity to deny what one saw, what one experienced, what one heard, what one was taught. In utter contrast to the many gifts I was given in the community I was raised -- and in the community I hung around for twenty some years after, Orthodox Judaism -- there is flatly nothing good whatsoever, nothing, in my experience of the post conciliar church except that it is over.

I understand that you do not see the fundamental disconnect I do between pre and post conciliar Catholicism. Perhaps that makes my point hard to understand for you, since you see a continuity where I do not. Perhaps then it is hard to understand that what I say about the post conciliar Roman Church, and for that matter their counterpart movements in other denominations, against all of which there can be no words of rebuke too harsh (which is not to say harshness is always the best approach), is in no way directed to the community in which I was raised, the community in which I sojourned (sometimes I like to say I hid in the synagogue while the troops went about their pogrom), or the community in which I live now -- which though I am sure you would disagree, I see as the same community.

It is also not charity not to tell those in a sinking ship that it is sinking, even if like the passengers on the Titanic they are under the illusion that it is unsinkable and refuse to seek the lifeboats. I understand you may say why am I out in a lifeboat when the ship is just fine, come back. So I guess time will tell whether I sounded a false alarm or you refused to heed the warnings.

But the analogy ends there. Whichever of us is wrong, so to speak, neither of us is going to drown. I'll say it again -- the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church can be found, and members of her can be found, even in the post conciliar church, and I believe you and the other post conciliar "Catholics" here are among them. That's not charity, that's fact (or at least what I believe to be fact).

Gut genug? Ich habe kein mehr.

 
At Thursday, June 21, 2007 5:22:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

"Nothing good whatsoever".

What? Pure evil then?

 
At Friday, June 22, 2007 12:05:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

there is flatly nothing good whatsoever, nothing, in my experience of the post conciliar church except that it is over.

This remark from Past Elder continues to fascinate me. My husband, who just turned 64, grew up in the same preconciliar period as Past Elder and attended parochial school throughout. His memories and views are so different from PE's it amazes me. Not that he is a "flaming liberal" by any means. He very much appreciates a sense of the numinous in worship, but the sometimes rigid mentality of that era, the lack of Biblical formation, the rigid separation between clergy and laity and the "spectator mentality" on the part of so many of the laity (i.e., praying the Rosary throughout the Mass) not to mention that his natural curiosity was too often suppressed by the stiff necked sisters who taught him -- he has absolutely no desire to return to that time.

On the other hand, he has gotten to know some very dedicated and faithful priests who celebrate the Novus Ordo Mass with reverence and devotion. It just might bring him back to the Church on a more frequent basis. He has absolutely no desire to return to the prior era nor does his younger brother, who was educated by the Benedictines.

For me, with the Motu Proprio restoring what was never actually forbidden in the Church and the new Missal that is in the works, I see only good things coming down the pike. I am glad to call the Roman Catholic Church my Mother.

 
At Friday, June 22, 2007 12:39:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

Forgive me, a couple of other things that I believe have been stressed much more positively in the postconciliar church -- vocations.

My vocation, as a married person, is supported by the Sacrament of Marriage -- it is being called and being faithful to that vocation that I will find my spiritual fulfillment.

For those who are ordained, the Sacrament of Holy Orders will do the same. This does not in any way detract from the role of the priest to be set aside to celebrate the holy mysteries in persona Christi on behalf of the ecclesia.

For those called to live chaste and single lives, whether in the monastery or in the world, ditto.

The call to the vocations of marriage, ordination or the single estate are all intrinsically calls to holiness. In the old days that was not always so evident when the laity often viewed their vocation as inferior to that of the clergy.

 
At Friday, June 22, 2007 1:44:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Your husband's reaction to pre Vatican II Catholicism is far more typical than mine. In fact, most of the people I know of roughly his and my vintage who are or were RC are like that.

But for the record, I don't want to go back to that time either. Nor did I expect things to remain frozen in time from my youth onward, nor did I think things had always been just as they were in my youth. The issue for me has never been change per se, but the particular change that resulted.

As to vocations, the post conciliar church has done a bang up job there. The diocese in which I live is quite concerned about the mortality rate of priests since the roster is getting older and older. The parish I grew up in had four priests when I was a boy, last I knew (2001) it had one. On the well known Franciscan hospital where I grew up and served Mass for a church full of sisters, as of my dad's last illness one hardly saw one -- not to mention the clergy they sent to my RC dad was an ELCA minister, female, complete with collar. Their motherhouse, once full, now rents out meeting space to all manner of left wing causes to pay the bills. The Dominican novitiate near where I grew up stood vacant for years -- until the SSPX bought it and it is now a full seminary.

But I can't blame the young men for their collective yawn. I can't imagine a greater waste of a life than living it as a Roman Catholic priest, now.

 
At Friday, June 22, 2007 11:18:00 pm , Anonymous Christine said...

Past Elder, I really wasn't addressing the *number* of vocations to the priesthood. I was addressing the fact (and by the way, statistics show that Protestants are having a tough time recruiting clergy also, even in those denominations that ordain women) that in the "good old days" there was too much of a sense that the clergy had a straight ticket to heaven while the poor old laypeople had to struggle just to get to the gate.

I'm saying that my vocation in marriage or the vocation of a single person who lives out their faith daily is just as valuable in the eyes of God as the priest or religious whose vocation it is to serve the people of God in either the parish or monastic setting.

The Holy Spirit imparts His gifts to all.

As to clerical vocations, you will find them flourishing in each Diocese where the faith of the Apostles is taught and upheld. Ditto for order such as the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist who receive enthusiastic support from the laity.

It's the old vanguard of the "silly season" (in which the Episcopal Church suffered the worst damage) that's greying and dying out. My husband certainly never considered himself part of that milieu, he was not a postconciliar radical.

What he wants, and what all of us in the present generation want, is for the documents of Vatican II to be faithfully understood and implemented.

I believe my beloved Papa Benedict is addressing that.

 
At Saturday, June 23, 2007 12:55:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

In the old Baltimore Catechism, there is an illustration on the topic of vocation which shows a drawing of a nice family sitting on a couch, with the caption This Is Good, and a drawing of religious in habits reading the assingment board, with the caption This Is Better.

I'm sure the turnaround in this is why in the flurry of canonisations with relaxed rules by post conciliar popes there have been so many laity. (Another rhetorical device). Once again Rome does one thing and calls it another. (Not a rhetorical device).

I cannot imagine denying there is a vocation crisis in the Catholic Church. Apart from isolated places, the simple fact that ordinations are nowhere close to keeping up with retirements and deaths is a major concern to the US anyway church.

"What he wants, and what all of us in the present generation want, is for the documents of Vatican II to be faithfully understood and implemented."

You are quite right. And it is why there is no place for me in the whining calls to "come home" the Roman church puts out around Christmas and Easter.

The documents of Vatican II define a new religion with an historical veneer with the Roman church, a religion that is not the one I once believed by any possible stretch of the imagination, a religion so mired in modernism and phenomenology that I would say that if it is indeed the true reigion of Christ then he is a false messiah, Christianity itself a false religion, and we must indeed "look for another".

Nothing could have clearer in the activity around the death of JPII --other than the blank stares on the people there no more able to participate in the liturgy than if they were at a Hindu temple, so far from their ordinary experience was that"Mass" -- that it is to this new and false religion that the current leadership is dedicated and to which it will apply its authoritarian, as my liberal friends call it, approach.

 
At Saturday, June 23, 2007 12:55:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

In the old Baltimore Catechism, there is an illustration on the topic of vocation which shows a drawing of a nice family sitting on a couch, with the caption This Is Good, and a drawing of religious in habits reading the assingment board, with the caption This Is Better.

I'm sure the turnaround in this is why in the flurry of canonisations with relaxed rules by post conciliar popes there have been so many laity. (Another rhetorical device). Once again Rome does one thing and calls it another. (Not a rhetorical device).

I cannot imagine denying there is a vocation crisis in the Catholic Church. Apart from isolated places, the simple fact that ordinations are nowhere close to keeping up with retirements and deaths is a major concern to the US anyway church.

"What he wants, and what all of us in the present generation want, is for the documents of Vatican II to be faithfully understood and implemented."

You are quite right. And it is why there is no place for me in the whining calls to "come home" the Roman church puts out around Christmas and Easter.

The documents of Vatican II define a new religion with an historical veneer with the Roman church, a religion that is not the one I once believed by any possible stretch of the imagination, a religion so mired in modernism and phenomenology that I would say that if it is indeed the true reigion of Christ then he is a false messiah, Christianity itself a false religion, and we must indeed "look for another".

Nothing could have clearer in the activity around the death of JPII --other than the blank stares on the people there no more able to participate in the liturgy than if they were at a Hindu temple, so far from their ordinary experience was that"Mass" -- that it is to this new and false religion that the current leadership is dedicated and to which it will apply its authoritarian, as my liberal friends call it, approach.

 
At Saturday, June 23, 2007 2:48:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

The clerical culture that was still present in the Baltimore Catechism is no surprise to me. I saw it very well in the ethnic cultures where immigrant generations placed their clergy on a high pedestal but at the same time found a refuge from a hostile Protestant American environment.

I can't say I remember the "blank stares" at the time of JPII's death quite the way you do but I'm not about to tell you what you saw.

I rejoice in the many wonderful liturgical and devotional practices that are available at my parish and the wider Church. I'm afraid Protestant worship of any kind would be very unfulfilling after my ten years as a Catholic. The Mass is different from a worship service and I realize now that I cannot go back.

 
At Saturday, June 23, 2007 4:40:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

Nietzsche (the only philosopher worth reading) once said all philosophy is autobiography. It helps to incorporate the experience of older family members, yet there is a danger too.

My mother, for example, born in 1909, remembers as an RC kid being hidden along with the black kids during KKK marches -- and this, for those readers who think this sort of thing was a Southeren thing, was in the North. Or Protestant kids breaking into the basement of the parish to find the guns their pastor had told them were hidden there so that on the signal from the Pope Catholics would rise up against the US. Or for those who unlike me grew up Lutheran, a Lutheran girl I dated years ago telling me her grandmother cautioned her against getting too close to a Catholic Church or the priest would steal her and she would never be seen again.

And on a less disgusting level, there is the long struggle within Lutheranism, dating all the way back to Prussian Unionism and Pietiesm, of coming to understand what is catholic from what is Catholic, and insofar as the latter have preserved some of the former, it is no argument against our using it too since it's catholic.

Another home spun example. My wife's long time LCMS family (except for those who married Catholics) would not be able to follow us at grace before meals, which we so here at home as laid out in the LC, and with the Sign of the Cross, which with some wording differences is the same grace I was taught as an RC kid pre Revolution, er, Vatican II. So I've also taught them the standard "Come, Lord Jesus ... " to be able to join in when Grandma, the matriarch, intones grace at family gatherings. But I really enjoy going to dinner at RC friends, who always in the spirit of Vatican II and all sweep any Catholic identity under the rug and offer some sort of Protestant grace with of course no Sign of the Cross. Then I offer to say grace as Luther suggested, and watch their eyes widen as they hear what they had just not said!

The image in my mind that remains, though, is when I went to get coffee at my first pot luck as a Lutheran (pot lucks having near sacramental status!) and saw the regular labelled "Lutheran" and the decaf "Protestant". I mean, who could not get their ecclesiology straight after that!

Conversion can be tough stuff. I remember on a visit to my folks showing them some video of our first son's baptism, Lutheran of course, WELS to be precise, my mom was silently tearing. I mentioned it to my wife later wondering if it might not be hard for her to see her grandson beptised Lutheran. Nancy said given me it was probably tears of joy that I got to a point where he'd be baptised at all! They're both gone now so I guess I'll ask them which it was in the next life.

As to the whore thing. I have tried to make it clear on the blog that my rejection of and opinion of the Catholic Church of the present, and that for two reaons: 1) my opinions in that regard should not be taken as a normative Lutheran sentiment, and 2) my opnions in that regard were formed years before I was a Lutheran, and on the basis of the Catholic Faith once taught to me, and should not be taken as normative of "traditionalist" Catholics either, who would likely respond more vehemently to them than you and see me as having fallen into even greater error than the post conciliar Church.

The Catholic Church (as distinct from any given member of it) to me fits the description of the Whore of Babylon. The office of the pope (as distinct from any given occupier of it) fits the description of Anti-Christ. I too am grateful for the "Catechism of the Catholic Church", as it definitively shows me, as if further proof were needed, that whatever it is a catechism of, it is not that of the Catholic Church or the catholic church and as such of absolutely no value whatsoever, except if I run out of kitty litter some week. If I am wrong about that, then so be it; maybe some of your prayers will commute my sentence in Purgatory a little. If I am right about that, then get out while you can or at least go Orthodox (check out Western Rite Orthodoxy, we've got two such parishes here in Omaha, one of them named for St Vincent Lerins mentioned elsewhere). I'm saying "bridge out ahead" -- and either the bridge is indeed out and I have done what I can, or it isn't and I'm Chicken Little.

As to charity, maybe I can make that point better with reference to a church to which I never belonged at any time, the Episcopal Church. I cannot think of a church with as little reason for being as the Anglican Communion at any time or in any form, founded on nothing more than a king wanting a divorce. As you know, the Episcopal Church has suffered greatly at its own version of the modernism that the Roman church now holds, and within it are those valiantly trying to uphold the "traditional" (read, the real) Episcopal faith against the counterparts of the running dogs now running the Catholic Church. As a body I see all of them as the least credible of any denomination on earth. But, for those with the integrity to maintain Episcopalianism as Episcopalianism, while of course I most definitely do not agree with all of what they uphold, I applaud and support them for their efforts to do so.

And I predict real ecumenism will work out like this: confessional Lutherans, "traditionalist" Roman Catholics and Episopalians, and others trying to maintain their churches' confessions against modernist revisionism, and in time Orthodox Jews and those in other non Christian faiths under similar assault to re-invent itself yet call it the same thing, will increasingly find that while we have substantial differences that are just irreconcilable short of one side saying you're right and we're wrong, will understand each other nonetheless to be brothers in arms against this common enemy -- while on the other side the revisionists will eventually attain a common revisionism which in fact they already have but have just not hammered out yet, and the Whore of Babylon and Anti-Christ, toward which Vatican II was a major step in the Catholic world, will attain a staggering dimension.

 
At Saturday, June 23, 2007 4:58:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

PS -- do Aussies say "mom" or "mum" like my long lost English relation? (Jeez, maybe I'D have been Anglican had we stayed in Mother England and not come over here and learned to polka and speak German! Nah, we probably weren't high enough in class.) And no-body's said whether anyone still reads Frank Sheed, who was an Aussieralian as I recall!

 
At Saturday, June 23, 2007 5:01:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

And Lyl, since you like my jokes here's another one that went round my Benedictine school.

What's all this ecumenism thing anyway? There's no difference between Catholics and Lutherans -- the first thing either one of them does when they land somewhere is set up a brewery!

 
At Saturday, June 23, 2007 5:48:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

Well there's also the stories passed around by Protestant kids (my husband remembers this one well) that at every parish there was a direct tunnel line from the rectory to the convent through which priests and nuns would meet to commit the most heinous and blushing carnal acts!

And about the Prussian union -- that certainly had its effects. My mother, growing up in East Prussia, admitted that she sometimes envied the Catholic children, especially on feast days when there were processions. Her Lutheran congregation of course had no such thing. She also remembers being told that Catholics could do pretty much anything they wanted as long as they went to confession, then they were free to go out and do it all over again. While she was staunchly Lutheran (and I know that my conversion to Catholicism unfortunately caused her some pain, although I tried very hard to convey to her that I rejected nothing that was good and true in my Lutheran upbringing) she still remembers the black Geneva robes her pastor wore, and the long, long sermons, so I suspect even her generation was still feeling the effects of the Prussian Union.

It occurs to me that so much of what we are writing about here is at the gut level. Of course in the end it is about truth in lending, and I could never be part of an ecclesiastical body that teaches something I vehemently disagree with.

But for example -- you refer to the "catholicity" of the Lutheran Church -- it is still there in pockets. However, in my experience the average Lutheran congregation is still somewhat iconoclastic and very much reformed in its culture. Make the Sign of the Cross? Nah, much too "Catholic". Employ a traditional crucifix? Some do, some don't. Surprisingly, as liberal as the ELCA has become the last congregation I belonged to gasped at the idea of using an image of the risen Christ in their sanctuary (suggested by the pastor, who was much more "catholic" in his leanings than the folks in the pews).

I love how Catholic worship involves the total person. I love blessing myself with holy water when I enter church, what a beautiful reminder that I am baptized. I love bowing at the words of the Incarnation during the Creed. I love incense, chant (yes, I do hear it at my parish), genuflecting before the Presence in the tabernacle -- all of this was missing from my experience as a Lutheran. I guess the seed was firmly sown in my childhood when my Papa took me to Mass. I only wish he had lived long enough to see my reception into the Church. It would have made him so happy.

My childhood in Bavaria, with its warm, colorful Catholicism absolutely precludes any idea of Orthodoxy for me. I am firmly and indissolubly rooted in the Western Church and the Chair of Peter. When I retire from full-time work I would like to head back to Europe for a few weeks, and a side trip to Rome will definitely be on the agenda.

I certainly do agree with you that Lutherans have the corner on potluck -- especially the Scandinavians with their Lutefisk! And as the West becomes increasingly hostile to Christians in general those of us who still believe in the historic faith will no doubt have to pull ranks together.

I very much appreciate the current Catechism, filled as it is with Scriptural and Patristic references. I am reading my way through it systematically now.

 
At Saturday, June 23, 2007 6:46:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

Oh, and Frank Sheed? Here's one of my favorite quotes of his:

Religion is the act of man — the whole man, soul and body. It is not the act of the soul only, for man is not only soul . . . The supernatural does not ignore the natural or substitute something else for it. It is built upon or built into the natural. Sanctifying grace does not provide us with a new soul; it enters into the soul we already have. Nor does it give the soul new faculties but elevates the faculties that are already there, giving intellect and will new powers of operation. God-as-Sanctifier does not destroy or bypass the work of God-as-Creator. What God has created, God sanctifies. (Theology and Sanity, 300-301).

By way of a little bit of background about Sheed from Crisis magazine:

"Growing up in the company of his Protestant and decidedly anti-Catholic aunts and uncles, Sheed learned the ways of anti-Catholicism firsthand. But he himself never bought into the anti-Roman line, quickly recognizing it as a kind of bigotry. The more anti-Catholic tracts, books, and comments were heaped upon him by his Calvinist relations, the more Frank was attracted to Rome.

Although raised as a Methodist by his Protestant relatives, Frank developed early on a private sympathy for Catholicism, sacraments and all. Then one day, he openly declared himself a Catholic. Naturally, this pleased his Irish-Catholic mother immensely and horrified his Protestant aunts and cousins.

Sheed's understanding of Protestantism and its biases against Rome would serve him well over the years. He had no antagonism toward Protestants, but he soon recognized the Reformation's inherent biblical and historical contradictions and was able to point them out with uncanny precision."

No wonder he was such a good apologist!

 
At Saturday, June 23, 2007 7:03:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

Oh no not Lutefisk! That's the worst stuff in the world. And I thought we English had bad food -- let's throw it all in a pot and boil in. I'm sure the whole reason the Vikings raised hell all over was Lars was looking out to sea and said Eric, you think they got anything good for dinner over there 'cause this stinks! What a merciful God that I grew up aroung German Lutherans -- much better food!

Regarding genuflexion -- and it kind of exemplifies my whole drift on this blog -- the single thing that provides relief from the absolute annoyance of having to endure a bogus, er, novus ordo anything, is the comedy of watching these "Catholics" genuflect still toward the centre of the Church, where the tabernacle used to be, as a mark of reverence to his presence, before the Cromwellian soldiers of Vatican II removed him off to the side (if not somewhere else altogether) where the tabernacle actually IS, so as not to distract from the assembly of the People of God or whatever. One of these days he's going to shout out Hey, Over Here, genuflect over here where the idiots put me!

 
At Saturday, June 23, 2007 11:34:00 pm , Blogger LYL said...

What's all this ecumenism thing anyway? There's no difference between Catholics and Lutherans -- the first thing either one of them does when they land somewhere is set up a brewery!

LOL!

 
At Tuesday, June 26, 2007 12:25:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

Oh noooooooooo, Past Elder !! The tabernacle in my parish (and in many others around Northeast Ohio) is located centrally and prominently behind the altar. Couldn't miss it if a herd of elephants stomped over me!

I got a great liturgical education from a young seminarian at our
Diocesan Cathedral (where the tabernacle is placed very prominently to the side of the altar (couldn't miss it if a herd of wildebeest stomped over me !!). No matter where one comes in at the Cathedral the tabernacle is plainly in view. As he approached the altar, symbol of Christ, he made a graceful profound bow and then genuflected as he moved past the Tabernacle. My parish also has a chapel of Perpetual Adoration, a place of peace and contemplation (also making a comeback in many parishes).

Now as for that Lutefisk, right you are, no wonder those Vikings were so crabby! German Lutherans definitely have better food, especially the tasty baked treats at Coffe hour after worship!

 

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