Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Evangelisation via Liturgy: My Wife's Lutheran Parish

Mike asked in the Combox to the last post:
What is it like at your wife's Lutheran parish? Tell us more! Would her services be fairly liturgical, solemn etc, and if so, how does the evangelisation operate in that framework?
Interestingly, my wife commented only just a couple of days ago that a visiting past pastor of the parish (now long retired after a stint as "bishop" in another district) made a comment along the lines that St Paul's Lutheran Church at Box Hill is one of the only parishes he knows that really does evangelise through liturgy.

Through the efforts of this pastor, and his immediate successors right up to the current pastors, St Paul's has maintained a very high level of fidelity to the best Lutheran liturgical standards. That is also due in large part to a dedicated music team, led by one of Australian Lutheranism's best organists and his equally talented daughter. Together they have guided both the traditional and "contemporary" instrumental and choral groups of the church--which involves about 70 individuals all up.

The previous senior pastor was also an avid student of Evangelical-style church management (eg. Church Growth, Purpose-Driven Church, 12 Steps for Effective Churches etc.) which, although at times seemed to threaten the liturgical emphasis, has, over the years, melded into a situation in which the good from these approaches has been retained while most of the bad (and in some cases actually poisonous) has been rejected.

So today if you visit St Paul's for any of their four services (usually all Eucharists) on Sunday, you will find all those "Baptist-style" welcoming elements Barry Kearney called for in the post below (eg. " better music, choirs, more focussed welcoming, after Mass follow up for visitors and new parishioners"), coupled with unapologetically liturgical (although not always "traditional") worship. The other important element that completes the "evangelical triangle" (so to speak) is very strong preaching and an "all-of-life" parish catechetical program.

Not everything there is to my taste--I am, after all, a Catholic and not a Lutheran! The services are sometimes a little too wordy--a bit of liturgy and then everything stops for an announcement or a children's address or a special focus and then a bit more liturgy etc. This can make the services very long, with communion finally coming after a service of the word that has lasted an hour. (My wife once commented after attending a rural Catholic mass that she sometimes appreciates the no-nonsense approach of Catholics: "you go there, you do the liturgy, you go home"). But it seems to "work".

Lesson for the average Catholic parish?

1) Take the practical suggestions that Barry makes in the post below seriously. A good welcome and open hearted hospitality, clear directions during the liturgy, a clear and legible bulletin, easy access to the parish office and ministry, good follow up for visitors, etc. How hard is it to put up clear signs to the toilets?

2) Avoiding the "baptistification" of the liturgy, but make it the best Catholic liturgy possible. Put real emphasis on the musical side of the liturgy.

3) Undergird everything with strong and faithful preaching and teaching.

18 Comments:

At Tuesday, January 08, 2008 12:29:00 pm , OpenID Bob Catholic said...

Herr Schutz,

I wonder if the question is not a little more fundamental: why have liturgy? The liturgy does not create the Church but the Church has liturgy. At the very foundation of Catholic liturgy is a different understanding of what it means to be in a relationship with Jesus.

My question would simply be that by adopting Protestant ways of doing liturgy are we in fact tacitly adopting the underlying philosophy? Also how are any of the points mentioned not inherent in Catholic liturgy? Are Catholic parishes inherently unfriendly and not welcoming? Catholic hymnody is second to none. Some of the best preaching I have heard has been by Catholic priests.

Your point, if I may be so bold to say, is that our Protestant brethren remind us of the best of our own tradition and challenge us to emphasis being truly Catholic in our liturgy.

 
At Tuesday, January 08, 2008 3:18:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is sad when a Lutheran church looks to church growth and abandons the tradational liturgy for praise worship and bands as some have done the LC-MS. I am thankful that our church is a confessional and a traditional Lutheran church were the Divine Service and the Eurchast is celebrated every Sunday.

 
At Tuesday, January 08, 2008 5:39:00 pm , Blogger L P Cruz said...

Dave,

What you say is already happening at least in Philippines. Many years ago I watched an RC priest on TV, he was wearing a suite and tie (golden brown), he was waving the Bible, shouting and stomping hollering hallelujahs, and he was preaching on the pre-tribulation rapture of the church. I kid you not, the only reason I knew he was an RC priest was because of the billings. A priest believing in pre-mill rapture? I found that odd.

They have already been singing HillSong songs long ago. I can not help but think he was saying something like this or implying something like this: Hey we are the RC, we are big, if you want pentecostalism we can give it to you right here, you do not have to leave, you can knock yourself out just right here. We are tolerant and understanding.

Sorry for the cynicism, but what can you expect from your fiend?

LPC

 
At Tuesday, January 08, 2008 5:51:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"if I may be so bold to say, is that our Protestant brethren remind us of the best of our own tradition and challenge us to emphasis being truly Catholic in our liturgy."

That's why at least once a year, I take myself off to an Anglican or Presbyterian or Uniting church: to help remind myself why I'm a Catholic and what Catholic liturgy is.

 
At Wednesday, January 09, 2008 2:09:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

The services are sometimes a little too wordy--a bit of liturgy and then everything stops for an announcement or a children's address or a special focus and then a bit more liturgy etc. This can make the services very long, with communion finally coming after a service of the word that has lasted an hour. (My wife once commented after attending a rural Catholic mass that she sometimes appreciates the no-nonsense approach of Catholics: "you go there, you do the liturgy, you go home"). But it seems to "work".

How very, very interesting. It occurs to me after reading your comments that that is precisely what finally gave me the nudge to becoming Catholic.

The last Lutheran congregation I attended was a very warm, welcoming place, with a strong emphasis on the ministry of the laity blended with a liturgical ethos while at the same time being very ecumenically minded.

I also found, though, that during worship there would be many "stops" and "pauses" for this comment, that comment, this announcement, that announcement. The music was, of course, splendid in typically Lutheran style but in the end that alone couldn't make up for the liturgical uneveness I began to experience.

Yes, the Mass in the Roman Rite is much more spare and one could certainly say "no nonsense" but I've come to cherish how the Liturgy of the Word flows evenly into the Liturgy of the Eucharist. It has a timelessness about it that helps me enter into prayer more deeply.

Your suggestions, however, for the "average Catholic parish" are well taken. We especially need to do something to make the Mass more intelligible for the visitor or non-Catholic family member who worships with us. My poor sister still, understandably, has a tough time with the missalette when she worships with me. We need to develop a visitor-friendly resource for folks to follow along with and participate.

 
At Wednesday, January 09, 2008 6:51:00 am , Blogger Chris Jones said...

Mr Catholic,

The liturgy does not create the Church but the Church has liturgy.

This would come as quite a surprise to St Ignatius of Antioch.

What I was taught was that where the faithful gather with their bishop to offer the Eucharist, there is the Catholic Church in its fulness. Thus, in fact the liturgy does create the Church.

But then, I learned that as an Orthodox, not a Catholic. If the Roman Church teaches otherwise, then it is no wonder that the schism between East and West persists. What does the CCC have to say about this?

 
At Wednesday, January 09, 2008 12:15:00 pm , Blogger Jeff Tan said...

Chris: perhaps Bob doesn't mean that the Church creates liturgy, but that the Church must have liturgy. It is what we must come together for: to worship and to glorify the Lord. To be fussy about it, gathering together in liturgy does not create the Church, since the Church is strictly instituted only by the Lord. But gathering together in liturgy does indeed renew the Church, because the Eucharist is the source and summit of the life and mission of the Church (see the synod of bishops on this theme, and Ecclesia de Eucharistia for reference).

Does this make sense?

 
At Wednesday, January 09, 2008 1:55:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...

Just a note on wordiness: there are Lutherans who also despise this tendency in some of our Churches. Dr. Herl from Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska wrote a wondrous spoof of a Lutheran liturgy with all the directions written out. You know: We now stand and join together in singing hymn #343 in unison. That's #343, please stand and sing together. GRRRR!

We trust that folks can usually read and so the bulletin contains the information the folks need, and we don't interrupt the flow of the Divine Service with "directions" or even worse "commentary."

 
At Wednesday, January 09, 2008 5:04:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Just to be clear:

I was not suggesting Protestantising our Catholic liturgy in any sense. The improvements to the way we celebrate the liturgy are all there in our tradition and in our rites. More faithfulness and excellence is all that is required!

What I was suggesting is that there are a whole raft of other hospitality issues that need to be considered. I don't think putting up signs for the toilets is an issue that affects the liturgy!

And for the record, Bob/Marco me ol' mate, you need to be a little more precise in what you say, because indeed, as Chris points out, it is the Eucharistic liturgy which creates the Church. That's what JPII was saying in his last encyclical "Ecclesia de Eucharistia". As Chris points out this goes right back to St Ignatius. And it is one thing that Lutherans sort of got right in the Augsburg confession: Where the Word and Sacrament are celebrated there is the Church (the bishop tends to be implied in that statement, but most Lutherans would not interpret it in this Ignatian sense).

 
At Wednesday, January 09, 2008 8:57:00 pm , OpenID Bob Catholic said...

My point (so badly put) was rhetorical rather than theological. I would never want to negate or deny the intimate relationship between the Church and the liturgy.

Yet let me take the issue further out. The issue of the relationship between the Mass and the Church is often discussed by extreme traditionalists - note their catch cry, It is the Mass that matters. And let's look at the outcome of their catch-cry and ask the question: does a Mass celebrated (by a valid priest with the right matter and form) in disobedience to the pope create the Church?

I think JP II and Saint Ignatius would assume a context. My rhetorical question is simply a catch-cry to illustrate the simple truth that right context matters! The most beautiful liturgy (incense, chant, great preaching, etc) within the wrong context (outside of communion with the successor of Saint Peter) does not magically create the Church. It may be edifying and an evangelical witness but it does not magically create that community that Jesus gave to Saint Peter to guard and guide.

That being said, I might be wrong - I normally am. :)

 
At Wednesday, January 09, 2008 9:09:00 pm , OpenID Bob Catholic said...

Major after-thought. Saint Ambrose makes my point much better than I could:
Where Peter is, there is the Church. And where the Church is, no death is there, but life eternal.

 
At Wednesday, January 09, 2008 10:01:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Ambrose is indeed right. The Catholic Church in communion with the Successor of Peter is indeed the Church. That is what the Clarification released by the CDF mid last year was all about.

Yet this is not to deny that there are "true Churches" which exist outside of the visible boundaries of the Catholic Communion (ie. in schism from Peter), the Orthodox being prime examples. They have a valid priesthood and a valid eucharist. We recognise their churches as true local churches for this very reason.

But the Eucharist always, by its very nature, compels those who celebrate and receive it (even if they are outside the Catholic Church) to seek that full universal communion which is the Catholic Church, because they are, by their very natures, Churches.

I hope that makes some sort of sense.

 
At Thursday, January 10, 2008 12:31:00 am , Blogger Chris Jones said...

I hope that makes some sort of sense.

Not to me, unfortunately. The post-Vatican II assessment of the status of the Orthodox Churches seems to me to be a deep contradiction.

In the Roman Catholic view, communion with Rome is the sine qua non of catholicity. That is the way the one true Church is to be identified. It is not optional.

Yet the Orthodox Churches are said to be "true particular Churches" by virtue of the "validity" (in RC eyes) of their orders and sacraments. So there are, in fact, multiple Churches which are "true Churches," which, though not in communion with Rome, provide true means of grace and are therefore salvific.

This can only mean that the Church can be divided and still be the Church; because both the Orthodox and the Roman Churches, though divided, are still "true Churches." How can this be anything but a denial of the unity of the Church?

I find the charitable agnosticism of the Orthodox ("We know where the Church is, but we do not know where she is not.") to be less baldly self-contradictory and therefore more satisfying.

 
At Thursday, January 10, 2008 12:02:00 pm , Blogger Jeff Tan said...

Hi Chris, please let me take a stab at this, though I cannot guarantee that I'll make sense, or even be correct:

In the Roman Catholic view, communion with Rome is the sine qua non of catholicity. That is the way the one true Church is to be identified. It is not optional.

That sounds about right, but as Dave pointed out to me over lunch recently, this is not to say that everyone should join the Roman Rite. This is an important detail, I think.

Yet the Orthodox Churches are said to be "true particular Churches" by virtue of the "validity" (in RC eyes) of their orders and sacraments. So there are, in fact, multiple Churches which are "true Churches," which, though not in communion with Rome, provide true means of grace and are therefore salvific.


Yes, but they are "particular Churches" -- as Dave points out, local Churches.

This can only mean that the Church can be divided and still be the Church;

This is imprecise. The universal Church may indeed endure schism. Please consider that the universal Church is the Body of Christ. As we say in liturgy, the body may be "broken, yet not divided", since division implies contradiction. Given Christ's promise that the gates of Hades will not prevail, whatever tribulation comes cannot cause the body to become self-contradictory, for that implies Christ, whose body we are talking about, to be self-contradictory.

because both the Orthodox and the Roman Churches, though divided, are still "true Churches." How can this be anything but a denial of the unity of the Church?

Therein lies the scandal. But consider that, if we take Christ at his word, his body cannot be in disunity, and we can probably consider a higher order here, for the universal Church does not only extend across space but time as well: those who have gone before us are still in the universal Church. They, being from East and West, are in the Church triumphant, and are one with Christ. We on the Church militant can experience schisms indeed, but just as we are both saints and sinners, is it not also logical that the pilgrim Church on earth has elements of the Church triumphant in the communion of saints, while also having elements of rebellion?

On the other hand, what then is the basis for the unity within the Church militant on earth, and between that and the Church triumphant? If you say the Holy Spirit, that would be true, but how is this bond embodied, since we are not spirits, but corporal beings? It would seem that this is embodied in the Eucharist. This is why all who celebrate a valid Eucharist have valid, salvific elements. Does that make union with Rome irrelevant? Such a thought contradicts Scripture because from the institution of the Church, promised in Caesarea Philippi, there was Peter and the keys. In concept, there is one Apostle given a mandate. In principle, Christ does nothing needless. If this Rock were his chosen foundation to lay on top of himself, the cornerstone, then the necessity does not die with Peter. It is with Peter that we must remain united, who are all in one Church. The valid elements of the Orthodox Churches are indeed one with Peter, for their Apostolic Traditions harken back to Peter and the Apostles; episcopal succession harken back to Peter and the Apostles -- in that way, they are all one with Peter.

The problem now facing the Orthodox is that the rejection of Peter's successor, the bishop of Rome, rejects that link to Peter and the Apostles. Sure, there's the validity of orders and Apostolic succession, but the visible rejection of the bishop of Rome is a scandal, a hindrance to the visible unity that Christ wills for his Church, who is to be a spotless bride as well as a sign to the nations.

Any conclusion that denies the need for visible unity, simply because particular Churches have valid sacraments and Apostolic succession, is a subtle but clear rejection of Christ's will. If you think about it, such a position is shocking, to say the least.

Er.. did that make any sense?

 
At Friday, January 11, 2008 5:02:00 am , Blogger Chris Jones said...

Jeff,

I must confess that I am not sure that I grasp your essential point. I think your central point is that outward schism does not necessarily compromise the essential unity of the Church (that's what I take from your reference to "broken but not divided"); but I am really not sure. So I will confine myself to responding to a few of your particular points.

First of all, a supposed requirement that everyone should join the Roman rite has nothing to do with my point. I understand that there are other rites than the Roman in the Catholic Church; and, indeed, there are sui juris Churches in communion with Rome other than the Roman Church. These non-Roman sui juris Churches correspond to what the Eastern Orthodox refer to as autocephalous ("self-headed") Churches. "Sui juris" and "autocephalous" don't mean quite the same thing, but the ideas are similar.

As long as we are talking about the various sui juris Churches in communion with Rome (the Melkite, the Maronite, etc., along with the patriarchate of Rome (which is the "Roman Catholic Church" properly so called)), then the Catholic ecclesiology of "true particular Churches" makes reasonable sense. Each of these "true particular Churches" is internally self-governing but is in communion with Rome and confesses the same faith as Rome. In particular, each such Church acknowledges the primacy of the Pope, his universal ordinary jurisdiction, and (in appropriately limited circumstances) his infallibility.

It is when this concept of "true particular Church" is extended to the Orthodox Churches that the concept becomes incoherent, because the Orthodox Churches are not only not in visible communion with Rome, they also confess a different faith from that of Rome -- because they explicitly deny the supremacy, universal ordinary jurisdiction, and infallibility (however limited) of the Pope. And make no mistake, these are de fide articles of faith for Rome, such that to deny them is to confess a different faith.

That is what makes your notion of "broken but not divided" unrealistic. It is as if you are saying that the schism is only an outward appearance, but there is a real underlying (though hidden) unity. You seem to think that the Orthodox (at least, if not Lutherans like myself) are really in communion with and under the Pope, but simply do not realize or acknowledge it. But there can be no real unity (whether hidden or visible) apart from the confession of a common faith.

what then is the basis for the unity within the Church militant on earth, and between that and the Church triumphant?

You pose a false dichotomy between the successor of Peter and the Holy Spirit as the principle of unity. The unity of the Church is found in full agreement in the faith and communion in the sacraments (which communion itself depends on full agreement in the faith). We are united with the martyrs, the saints, and the fathers in the Church Triumphant if we confess the same faith that they confessed and if, through the sacraments, we are in Christ as they are in Christ.

It is true that our Lord named Peter the rock upon which the Church would be built, based on Peter's confession. But only four verses later Jesus condemns Peter for not understanding and embracing the full implications of the confession which he just had made, and for "savouring not the things that be of God, but those that be of men." Peter's primacy is thus shown to be predicated not on a good confession once made, but on continued fidelity to the fulness of the faith.

So I cannot agree with you that the problem now facing the Orthodox is that the rejection of Peter's successor, the bishop of Rome, rejects that link to Peter and the Apostles. The Orthodox will answer not for their rejection of the successor of Peter, but for their steadfast confession of the full implications of Peter's confession.

 
At Friday, January 11, 2008 12:42:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Perhaps the distinction that needs to be made is between "ecclesiality" (if we can use such a word) and "catholicity". Indeed, communion with the Bishop of Rome is regarded by us as the "sine qua non" of catholicity, but not we do not regard it as that which makes a community of people "a Church". A Church is made such (as even Lutherans would agree) by God's Word and Sacraments. Hence the insistance of the Orthodox that the Church is where the valid Eucharist is celebrated. We Catholics agree.

Now, for Catholics and Orthodox, that is specifically embodied in the exercise of the Apostolic Ministry. Hence the agreement that where the faithful gather around a valid bishop to celebrate a valid Eucharist, the Church is there. Schism alone does not invalidate the Eucharist or the Apostolic Ministry--although it does outwardly (and perhaps inwardly as well) contradict it, since both the Apostolic Ministry and the Eucharist have an inherant compulsion toward communion.

Thus, Catholics believe that the fullness of Catholicity is expressed in the fullness of Communion, which includes communion with the Successor of Peter, who exercises the Ministry of Unity for the Universal Church.

The only other point that needs to be made is that we do not talk of the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church as two "true particular Churches", or (as they are sometimes incorrectly called) "sister churches". A particular Church is the local community of the faithful gathered around their Bishop and the Eucharist. So Catholics give no ecclesial recognition to a thing called "The Orthodox Church", while fully recognising the ecclesial reality of the Orthodox Churches. Particular Catholic and Orthodox Local Churches can be Sister Churches, but the Catholic Church as such can have no sister, as there is no other Church beside her.

 
At Friday, January 11, 2008 2:45:00 pm , Blogger Chris Jones said...

Perhaps the distinction that needs to be made is between "ecclesiality" (if we can use such a word) and "catholicity".

Such a distinction is specious. Given that we confess the Church to be Catholic in the Creed, if a body is not Catholic, it cannot be the Church. "Ecclesiality" implies catholicity since catholicity is an essential quality of the Church.

Hence the agreement that where the faithful gather around a valid bishop to celebrate a valid Eucharist, the Church is there.

There is no such agreement, if "validity" is held to be a quality which can exist apart from full orthodoxy and orthopraxis, or which can exist apart from the unity of the Apostolic Church. Catholics hold that such independent "validity" is meaningful; Orthodox do not.

Schism alone does not invalidate the Eucharist or the Apostolic Ministry ...

Again, Orthodox would not agree. That is why (for example) Catholics are allowed to receive the sacraments from an Orthodox priest in extremis, but Orthodox are forbidden to receive the sacraments from Catholic priests under any circumstances.

... both the Apostolic Ministry and the Eucharist have an inherent compulsion toward communion

I have no idea what this means.

The only other point that needs to be made is that we do not talk of the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church as two "true particular Churches" ...

I understand that. The Catholic teaching (which I still regard as incoherent) is that local Orthodox Churches are "true particular Churches." I am not quite sure whether this refers to autocephalous Orthodox Churches (Constantinople, Antioch, etc.) or to individual dioceses.

Catholics give no ecclesial recognition to a thing called "The Orthodox Church"

Strictly speaking, neither do Orthodox. "The Orthodox Church" is a term of convenience to refer to the multiplicity of autocephalous local Churches which are in full agreement in the faith and (therefore) communion in the sacraments; but "the Orthodox Church" has neither any administrative realization nor an independent ecclesial reality.

the Catholic Church as such can have no sister, as there is no other Church beside her.

Agreed. That is, after all, what the Creed says. The point at issue is where that unique Church can be found.

 
At Monday, January 14, 2008 9:57:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

One note only: "particular church" always refers to the diocese or eparchy in any given locale, never to a communion of churches (eg. an "autocephalous church" or a national church or a province etc.).

 

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