Monday, February 25, 2008

The Strelan Article on the Theology of the Cross

Here is the full article on by John G. Strelan, Theologia Crucis Theologia Gloriae.

Just quickly summarising, while broadly agreeing with the basic distinction between a Theology of Glory and a Theology of the Cross, there are two points on which I have some doubts about the application:

1) I do not believe that it is a 'Theology of Glory' to affirm the certainty of faith which we may place in the means by which God has chosen to preserve and transmit his revelation to the world, ie. through the Church and the apostolic ministry. For just as it is precisely in the 'hiddenness' of God's revelation in the crib and on the cross that made it possible for his revelation to be grasped by human hearts and minds and hands in the first place, so the means by which God chose to preserve and transmit that revelation (ie. through the writings and teachings of the human apostles and the continual tradition of the human society we call the Church) are equally and correspondingly incarnate and thus 'hidden'. If it is not contrary to the Theology of the Cross to affirm the certainty of faith in the actual revelation itself, surely it is not contrary to the 'Theology of the Cross' to maintain certainty of faith in the means God chose to preserve and transmit it.

2) I do not believe that the 'Theology of the Cross' requires the rejection of the use of human reason, despite the fact that human reason alone could not discover the truth of God. For although there are many ways of thinking which, because of human sin, lead to idolatry and falsehood, yet it is to the human faculties of sight, hearing, touch and thought that God has made himself comprehensible. And while his Reason is far beyond ours and expressed predominantly as Love rather than pure rationality, nevertheless the God who is Love is also the God who is Logos/Word/Reason, and to say that God would act irrationally is itself irrational. Rejecting all human reason and philosophy from theological discourse and reflection would in fact be to rob God's revelation of any conceivable or conveyable human meaning. God's revelation may be 'hidden' but it is not meaningless.


At Monday, February 25, 2008 11:53:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

At least as Lutherans tend to mean by "theology of the cross" it is not that God works irrationally (for, precisely as you say, He is Logos itself), but that His working will indeed appear as foolishness to the natural mind, unaided by the Holy Spirit.

God born of a Virgin who remains a Virgin?
The death of one man the salvation of all?
God choosing to use suffering and death in order to destroy them?
A man rising bodily from the dead?
Eternal life in a handful of water and a few words?
A sinful man's words of pardon unlocking the gates of heaven?
Bread is actually the Body of Christ that we eat, and wine is actually the Blood of Christ we drink, and this is salvation?

To natural reason, by which I mean the reason of the fallen human race, this appears as so much nonsense. But, as you point out, the theologian of the Cross has learned to look at all things through the lens of God's love manifested on the tree - and He can see and rejoice how God can work "under opposites" to shame the wise, and call us all to repentance, back home to Love.

At Monday, February 25, 2008 12:10:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Now, given that we agree on this, Pastor, what can we say about the way in which reason and philosophy tends to be scorned by Lutheran theologians? Or the way in which Lutherans tend to pile scorn on Catholics when we make deep use of philosophy and reason (always remembering that it is the handmaid of theology, not the other way around)? What I am asking for here is a dialogue, not an argument. I am seeking to understand ways in which this "dialogue of love" and "dialogue of reason" (both terms dear to Papa Benny's heart) might enter discussion with the Theology of the Cross, without being rejected out of hand as a Theology of Glory.

It is note-worthy that as a peritus at Vatican II, Ratzinger opposed the over rationalistic, propositional understanding of revelation and insisted on "Love" and the personal invitation addressed to each person in God's full revelation in the person of Christ (which eventually found expression in Dei Verbum).

What I am contending for here is that today's greatest defender of the place of Reason in religious belief is also the world's greatest living theologian of the cross. I know that the burden of proof of that statement is upon my shoulders, but that is where I wish to take this discussion.

Because the upshot would be that if I am right, then it is possible to be both a true Theologian of the Cross AND a loyal and faithful Catholic.

At Monday, February 25, 2008 12:19:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...


From everything I've read of the current Bishop of Rome, I think you would be correct in characterizing him as a theologian of the cross in the classic Lutheran sense.

I am honestly not terribly familiar with any Lutheran diatribe against the Roman Church for the ministerial use of reason - both my Church and yours have always defended such a use. One cannot read Blessed Johann Gerhard miss his indebtedness to the theological methodology of St. Thomas Aquinas. Most Lutheran objections to Roman theology that I have read tend to focus instead upon the fact that Roman theology can have a source outside of Scripture (being aware that Vatican II specifically strove to move away from the two-source language, but was it altogether successful in that?).

The ministerial use of reason, from a Lutheran perspective, always begins with bowing to the revealed Words of God and recognizing that when they SEEM to be contrary to our reason, it because of our fallenness and not because of any inherent irrationality in them, for being products of God Himself, they are "logikos" while transcending the limitations of fallen human thought.

At Monday, February 25, 2008 12:27:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...

Oh, and I mean "source" in the sense of fons - a fountain, if you will. Quite clearly both Lutherans and Roman Catholics appeal to various other "sources" in their exposition of the faith. There's a reason that the Christian Book of Concord begins with the three Creeds and not with a list of the Bible's canon!

At Monday, February 25, 2008 3:05:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

I think that Vatican II was successful in moving away from the "two streams" proposition of Trent, precisely by asserting the one "fons" of the Word of God. What remains, and what Vat II didn't addresss (I will blog on this one day--Tracy Rowland's new book on Ratzinger brings this point out) the criterion for how "Tradition" or "traditions" should be scrutinised to ensure that they are authentically in accordance with the "Word of God".

I like the term "ministerial use of reason"--not one that I have come across before, but it describes well what I am trying to get at. Except that it is not a simple matter of applying our thinking to God's revelation, but recognising that the human ability to reason is itself a witness to the divine image in man, and thus that there is a congruence between God's Reason and what goes on between our ears (this is an essential fact for a Christian understanding of science and creation too).

Furthermore, I am becoming aware that just as there was a divide in Lutheranism between Orthodoxy and Pietism, there was a similar division between theoretical and affective theology in Catholicism following Trent as well. Ratzinger and the Communio school represent a distinct turn away from the dry neo-scholastic propositional approach to Revelation (which was effectively trounced at Vat II) to an understanding of God's revelation and Word embodied essentially in the person of Jesus Christ and to our participation in that revelation through a personal relationship with God through Christ. I think you will recognise distinct possibilities for a conversation in this arena.

Finally, I would like to explore how it is that a theologian of the cross has come to be sitting on the chair of Peter and what consequences that might have for the healing of divisions between Catholics and Lutherans.

At Monday, February 25, 2008 3:23:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...

Just quickly on one point: sometimes the divide between Orthodoxy and Pietism is a bit of a historical simplification. The single greatest Lutheran dogmatician (scholastic method down to a t) is Johann Gerhard. But this man is also the author of the incomparable *Sacred Meditations* - which are piety at its best. Just a snippet for your delight:

"Thus this Holy Supper will transform our souls; this most divine sacrament will make us divine men, until finally we shall enter upon the fulness of the blessedness that is to come, filled with all the fullness of God, and wholly like Him."

At Monday, February 25, 2008 11:43:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

But wasn't Gerhard somewhat earlier than the true emergence of either strict Orthodoxy or strict Pietism? I mean, Johann Arndt was around this time too, wasn't he? A true "affective" theologian, yet a little anachronistic to call him a pietist, as he was somewhat pre-Spener?

Correct me if I have my dating wrong, but I think that the strict categories of Orthodoxy and Pietism really only emerged in the later 17th century. It was at about the same time that the real divisions were occuring in Catholic theology, from what I can make out.

At Tuesday, February 26, 2008 12:29:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...

Forgive me for diving in over my head, since all I can do in this discussion is recognize the names and my ignorance of them, but would it not be apposite to consider here the magisterial "Fides et Ratio" of the late great John Paul II?

While a student of theology I greatly profited from a strong Thomistic philosophical underpinning, and was always reminded that having a philosophy at once coherent and also compatible with the concept of Divine Revelation was a sine qua non for theology, and this the Pope well pointed out.

I imagine our present Holy Father also had some part in this encyclical's drafting....

At Tuesday, February 26, 2008 1:00:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

The very problem, Joshua, as I see it, is that Lutherans do not recognise the possibility of a philosophy compatible with divine revelation. What impresses me about Catholic theology and philosophy is its ability to give a coherant framework to the whole, not only of theology, but of science, and sociology, and anthropology, etc. etc.

At Tuesday, February 26, 2008 1:11:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...


About Gerhard, true he was before Spener by a century or so if you think of Spener as the start (at least in Lutheranism), but I do believe that in Arndt (Gerhard's pastor) and Gerhard you can discover full blast Orthodoxy and Piety living hand in glove - giving the lie to them being "alternatives."

As to your comments to Josh - I don't think I'd put it so. I'd say instead that Lutherans do not recognize the possibility of a FALLEN philosophy being compatible with divine revelation. Starting from the divine revelation and drawing from it, there is indeed "a wisdom, but not like the wisdom of this age" as the Apostle said. Nevertheless, that wisdom is THE key to whatever is true in the fallen philosophies of this world (which are always marked by a mixture of truth and error, or truth, as Luther would say, "in things below" while being ignorant of the "things above" which are revealed in the folly of the Cross).

At Tuesday, February 26, 2008 7:58:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

Please see the link in the prior post to a paper by a classmate of mine, who did not become a Lutheran past elder but a Benedictine, priest, professor of theology, dean of his school of theology and rector of his seminary.

At Tuesday, February 26, 2008 8:06:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

We did both get doctorates, however -- his in Semitic languages from Catholic University, I think.

I'm thinking he should make Abbot!

At Tuesday, February 26, 2008 1:26:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

I do not think at all that the theoretical and the affective dimensions of theology should be viewed as "alternatives", rather (and I think this is Ratzinger's conclusion also) a real theologian will be a theologian of both faith and love, or Truth and Love, if you like. And the sort of "reason" or philosophy which will be able to transcend the fallenness of human rationality will surely be that philosophy which takes a coherant whole the rational foundation of both revealed Truth and Divine Love.

And yes, Gerhard and Arndt were shining examples of this, as have been numberous Catholic theologians in the past (Newman for example). However the more common reality is that Truth and Love have been separated from eachother, and that rationality has been rather consumed with reflection upon the "Truth" while emotionalism and affectivity have been preoccupied with the dimension of "Love".

Ratzinger and his fellow Communio theologians of the 20th Century have represented therefore a more level and Christian approach in which theology is a reflection upon the personal participation of the human with and in the Triune God who is at one and the same time Logos and Agape.

I think putting things that way quite radically changes the basis on which we conduct our ecumenical dialogue, don't you? Not just between Lutherans and Catholics, but between East and West as well.

At Tuesday, February 26, 2008 3:21:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...

Perhaps, but I'm not sure I'm following your implications. Want to flesh it out a bit more?

At Wednesday, February 27, 2008 9:20:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

I believe that there has been a significant shift in theological approach and method since the Second Vatican Council. Karl Rahner and his mob (the Concilium school) represented one shift going in one direction (which has now just about fizzled, although most working in ecumenical dialogue still subscribe to this model), but I believe that in JPII and BXVI we have seen the rise to prominence of a more enduring shift (also represented by Von Balthasar and du Lubac etc belonging to the Communio school). Both parties represented a fresh start after many years of neo-scholastic neo-Thomistic approach to theology involving rationistic propositional theology, but the Communio school has seen an approach that has returned to a much more consciously personalist, Trinitarian and Christological approach.

At least one writer (Tracy Rowland, herself a leading Thomist of the new school) believes that the whole period from Trent to Vat II was characterised by the rationalistic/propositional mode of theology. Almost all ecumenical apologetics and dialogue has been done on this old model. In fact, the entire relationship has been determined by this old model.

Protestant theologians, especially Lutherans, have been slow to wake up to the change that has taken place in the Church. (Some Catholics, like PE, have totally failed to properly analyse and understand it). Usually the change after Vatican II characterised as a dramatic shift to the left from the far right (and indeed the Concilium theology may be viewed as such), but the present reality is much more complex than that, and must take into account that which is new in the approach of JPII and BXVI.

There is so much in the theology of these two recent pontificates that must feed into the ecumenical dialogue. Otherwise we are fighting yesterday's battles in apologetics and building on foundations that have already crumbled in dialogue.

I believe one reason we are seeing such a spate of Lutheran conversions to the Catholic Church is precisely as PE put it. WE are recognising a new kind of theology being done within the Catholic Church which has real points of harmony with the Christocentric, personalist theology of our own upbringing.

I could go on. But will stop now and do some work.

At Wednesday, February 27, 2008 9:27:00 am , Anonymous Lucian said...

I have no idea what You guys are talking about over here, I just wanted to make sure that You watch this video before they're gonna take it down again, like they did the last time that this was on, due to some author's-rights issue:

Watch it before it's too late!

At Wednesday, February 27, 2008 11:15:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

Dammit. I wanted to stay out of this, but as you brought me up, I'm in.

In the first place, I am not one of "some Catholics" and am not Catholic at all. I'm a PhD not a JCD, but I'm pretty sure I'm excommunicated latae sententiae under canon 1364, although technically that does not make me not a Catholic, a character imparted at Baptism, just excommunicated from participation in the life of the church, which is a "sentence" I happily pronounce on myself anyway. Close enough.

Second, I quite understand the theological cacaphony that attends the last Council and that is always whatever it wants to be and anyone who doesn't think so just isn't with it. Who the hell do you think taught me from age eighteen on? Those guys!

I'm glad you understand that these conversions would in no way have bappened before the Council. They certainly don't resemble the conversions that happened before the Council, with the exception of the likes of Newman and Bouyer whose thinking was key to the Council.

From whatever school, there is a "new" type of theology being done in the Catholic Church that has real points of harmony with Lutheran and other Protestant backgrounds indeed, because the Catholic Church has ceased to be Catholic, and has become Protestant to just the extent necessary to accomodate the illusion and create "dialogue", the Holy Grail of the New Age.

Or as we used to say, the Rhine has polluted the Tiber, or, we could have saved a lot of time just publishing one sentence, Luther was right, and gone home.

However the academics amuse themselves, I don't know any boots on the ground Protestants who see this shift as more than cosmetic, it taking just a deeper scratch these days to reveal the same old Romanism under the softer, gentler language, but it does seem to allow some a way to continue being Protestant in a Catholic Church just Protestant enough to accomodate it and call it coming home. The Catholic Church hasn't become Protestant enough to be really Protestant let alone Lutheran, but it has enough to cease being Catholic in content thereby allowing acceptance in form as these "conversions" amply illustrate.

The dialogue, then, is among Lutherans who are no longer Lutheran and Catholics who are no longer Catholic creating a "unity" that is neither Catholic nor Lutheran. Which of course they will dismiss as being simply a refusal to extricate oneself from mediaeval scholasticism. Well, like Chesterton said, he who marries one age will be a widower in the next. Works both ways. Your time of widowerhood is coming; count on it.

The only dialogue that means anything is when these guys can make the same profession of faith I did on entering the "evangelical Lutheran church".

At Wednesday, February 27, 2008 12:38:00 pm , Blogger Peter said...

David wrote I believe one reason we are seeing such a spate of Lutheran conversions to the Catholic Church is precisely as PE put it. WE are recognising a new kind of theology being done within the Catholic Church

For the record, I read Chemnitz's 4 volume response to Trent as one of the finer Lutheran systematic treatments of faith, and ended up reading Trent, to see what he was reacting to. I realised that Trent made more sense than Chemnitz, or any of his less reasonable fellows. Catholics urged me to read Vatican II but I couldn't see a change in sense, just a kind of naive optimism in the gushing emphasis of V2, and a regretable lack of precision which allowed a fair number of ninnies to read in various errors in the years that followed.

I think the change has been about the WAY Catholics do theology, but not the content itself. In short, I didn't come home because the Church had changed enough o placate my Lutheran tastes, I came home because she had NEVER changed... and because all I believed in was fulfilled and completed in her.

At Wednesday, February 27, 2008 4:02:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

She had NEVER changed?

Put another full drop on the cube.

The time is coming when this church will say to you your white is actually the original black and your black a deeper understanding of white, when yes is another way of saying no and no an historically determined way of saying yes, so nothing has changed, it's pastoral not doctrinal, carry on.

Pray that you will still be young enough to bear it.

At Wednesday, February 27, 2008 9:12:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

As a self-confessed Traditionalist Catholic, what I hear preached and confessed and see ritualized is one and the same with the Western medieval Church, with its obviously continuous counter-reformation developments, while I have also sifted out the dross from the postconciliar academic teaching I received, and steadfastly insist on reading any and all Church teachings in continuity with the Fathers and early Councils, as per the norms of St Vincent of Lerins. In this reading I remain in good standing with the Church. So where is this essential change in the Church that PE keeps on claiming? Many may misunderstand and misrepresent, but surely PE is aware that - even though he in (faulty) conscience rejects this - the Ressourcement movement was about returning to the Patristic wisdom and thus reinvigorating the Church, and that this stream of development, fully orthodox and Catholic, is where stands such luminaries as the present Supreme Pontiff, with his great knowledge of Augustine and Bonaventure, to name but two. The theologiae crucis, versus the theologiae gloriae, sounds quite Catholic to me, and if articulated by anyone other than its source would seem to me quite par for the course for some late medieval - as Luther was, of course. So I see its particular emphases as warrantable, provided they be not taken so far as to become heresies. It is the same as with the celebrated and yet infamous "simul peccator et justus" - entirely Catholic in one acceptation, "since even the just man falls seven times a day", but capable of a wrongful overemphasis, as when the soul is compared to a snowcovered dungheap.

At Wednesday, February 27, 2008 9:23:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

PE, though I have rather boldly critiqued your bold statements, let it be said that if you were around in W.A, or if I were on visit to the States, I think I would be pleased to share a meal and a no doubt both lively and fractious conversation! For I take it you are no vitandus to be denied social interaction. Oremus pro inviceem: may He Who hears all prayer lead us all to the Truth.

I will say this: it seems to me humanly easier to adopt your position, since your selected communion is not, I assume, so riven with dissension nor filled with lukewarmness as is mine. As all the Fathers of Trent and the preachers of the time declared, and as any honest man today would aver, the Reformation occurred since it pleased God to punish the manifold sins of the faithful and of the clergy in especial. That is why, as in any earlier and attacked post, I claimed that the best interpretation of the postconciliar debacle is that it is Divine judgement upon the pride and hubris of those who thought a few pastoral changes would convert all and ring in the millennium. The phrase "second Pentecost" can be interpreted variously as a humble plea for the coming of the Holy Ghost, or as a presumptuous blasphemy claiming God's inspiration as the source of many perversions, after all.

At Wednesday, February 27, 2008 9:59:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Please note that I did not mean that the doctrine or teaching of the Church had changed but that a there was a new theological method emerging (which indeed draws from the best of the ancient methodologies but includes many new ones too) for reflection upon these teachings. I think that is an important distinction to make.

At Thursday, February 28, 2008 2:54:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

Oh hell yes, Joshua! It would be a bloody riot to hang with you. We'd be kind of like professional wrestlers, who after the show in which they're mortal enemies all go out and have a blast to-gether. I'm getting quite fond of my Aussie Internet sparring partners. I roomed with an Aussie for a couple of years in graduate school. He ended up marrying a Minnesota Norwegian Lutheran girl. Five Aussies and myself made more noise than a whole churchfull of those frozen Norskie Lutherans! It was very "ecumenical", with the toast to the Queen followed by a toast to the President.

BTW, we LCMS guys jump right over the top rope and get into it too sometimes, but it's pretty mild compared to what I experienced as a Catholic, particularly as the pogroms, er, reforms of Vatican II were implemented.

At Thursday, February 28, 2008 3:12:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...


I think I understand a bit of what you're saying, but for a Lutheran it is not about "stopping fighting yesterday's battles" since the battle yesterday was and is part of the history of the Church herself and from a Lutheran perspective that battle still continues. Rome is not burning us at the stake anymore, true, but the points of contention still seem rather the same:

1) what is the source of the Church's dogma?
2) when the NT knows the synonymity of bishop and presbyter, how can the distinction between the two be constitutive of the Church's very essence, and hence church dividing?
3) Is grace a created substance?
4) does Rome persist in claiming that the Bishop of Rome is head of the entire Church by divine right? On what Scriptural grounds?
5) is our justification by faith in Christ truly exclusive of all works of the law, of all our deeds?
6) does the Church subsist in the hierarchy that is in communion with the Bishop of Rome or in the whole company of the baptized?

Oh, so many more. These cannot be side-stepped by Benedict's approach to theology. He wouldn't choose to side-step them, would he?

At Thursday, February 28, 2008 6:12:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Joshua, certainly Trent as I was taught it before Vatican II was quite forthright in admitting abuses, and that the attendant confusion of the age is more our (RC) fault than theirs, since had we not allowed so much moral corruption a protest so intense as to lead to doctrinal error would not have happened.

Somewhere in the Trent Catechism is that statement that there is nothing, for example, wrong with the liturgy in vernacular languages, but as the practice is so associated with those also in heresy it would be a scandal to adopt it and seem to lend credence to the heretics.

We were taught that the Reformation is more properly called the Protestant Revolt, and the real Reformation happened at Trent, which cleaned up what needed to be cleaned up and preserved Catholic truth in the sacraments. Which was a big reason for liturgical fidelity -- as you know, for a sacrament to be valid it must be correct in matter, form and intent, so by following a carefully prescribed and universally mandated liturgy all three, most especially intent regardless of the personal thinking of the priest, would be present and voiced. This is also the reason for the rejection of the novus ordo -- that it does not do that, particularly a problem with regard to intent.

No sooner had I gotten that under my belt than I was taught oh no, Trent was a terrible blind alley of defensive over-reaction drowning the Church in mediaeval scholasticism, monarchism and triumphalism, and it'd time to abandon the circle the wagons mentality and get on with the journey moving past the trappings of the sixteenth century.

I can buy the idea of Divine judgement of pride and hubris, though I would not reduce the council to a few pastoral changes. They were enormous, and too, to imagine that a change of corporate worship does not of its nature entail issues of doctrine is to ignore lex orandi lex credendi.

Let me tell you something from behind the scenes -- absolutely no-one involved in the changes to lex orandi missed that point, they knew exactly what was at stake and depended on it, which is why a whole new missal, lectionary and calendar, which may or may not have been envisioned at the council's outset, ensued. They knew that the swing to the lex credendi they proposed would be aided more by one rural pastor leading his congregation in worship designed to express it than a thousand professors in seminaries and theology departments. Get them praying our way and they'll believe our way. And it worked. There had to be a disconnect from the liturgy, lectionary and calendar of before, which is why it was surpressed for so long and even now, decades later, is only allowed if the novus ordo is recognised as valid and the "ordinary" form of the Roman liturgy. (You can count on the fingers of one hand the number of Lutherans who have any real idea of what this was all about and still have enough fingers to throw a good slider, which has led to novus ordo adaptations being common now among us too unfortunately, which is what my "ranting and raving" is usually about on my home turf.)

Unfortunately, second Pentecost in the latter sense is what is generally meant, and perhaps one could express some of what Pastor was getting at, as well as our struggles against the latter day enthusiast (as they were called in Luther's day) virus of the emergent church, the seeker sensitive church and so on by saying there is no warrant in God's word for a second Pentecost but a real clear mandate to be in line with the "first" Pentecost!

At Friday, February 29, 2008 1:27:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...


You're quite right that those behind the changes had that sort of mentality (as you may imagine, I have read a good deal about liturgy and the reforms), and I have certainly heard and rejected that nonsense about giving up on the 'Tridentine mentality' (and see what small and bitter fruits have come...). But I differ from you, obviously, insofar as I feel these are all diseased and/or gangrenous limbs on the Body of Christ, rather than tokens that the said body is not Christ's at all.

I am most curious, however, to ask as to whether you ever considered the Eastern Orthodox option. Speaking per impossibile, if I were to imagine the Catholic Church to be false I could never become a Protestant, but I could hypothetically go East. After all, the Greeks, Russians, et al. have certainly preserved the ancient Faith of the first millennium. They are in so many ways quite admirable, though of course they have their problems too.

As the late Pope said, "The Church must breathe with both lungs" - to which some unkind wag added, "What a pity both have emphysema".

At Friday, February 29, 2008 2:27:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

I will say this: it seems to me humanly easier to adopt your position, since your selected communion is not, I assume, so riven with dissension nor filled with lukewarmness as is mine.

I wouldn't go quite that far, Joshua. I've been observing the Lutheran world since my childhood as a Lutheran up to my entry into the Catholic Church ten years ago.

There's a culture war going on at least in my neck of the woods between traditional confessional Lutheranism and a veering towards the American Evangelical model.

I've surveyed most of the LCMS congregations around me and the couple I've visted are struggling strongly to get people to show up regularly on Sundays. Many of them have moved "traditional" worship to their early services, which are usually less numerical in attendance and the larger "contemporary" worship services are offered as the main service on Sunday.

That other Christian bodies are struggling with this goes without saying, but because the LCMS is overshadowed (numerically) by the larger ELCA here in the U.S. a lot of people don't really see a difference between the two (or the numerous other Lutheran bodies in the U.S.). For those folks who have chosen the ECLA the consensus seems to be that the LCMS has become infected with "fundamentalism" since the LCMS/Seminex conflict in the 70's.

At Friday, February 29, 2008 3:00:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

Yes, Joshua, I did consider the EO option, and precisely as you described it, any form of Protestantism being a nice try at best, but no cigar. Even pre-council, we were always taught that despite the Great Schism the EO remain valid, so that the rupture WITHIN the Church between the East and West is an entirely different thing than the revolt FROM the Western Church.

So why did I not do it?

One could sum it up much as Herr Schuetz did -- in the end, Eastern Orthodoxy is, well, Eastern, and I'm not. I'm English by descent, adopted and raised by Irish, grew up among mostly Germans with other Germanic types taking up most of the rest, and was "culturally adopted" by the Puerto Rican contingent at university and still feel more comfortable around them than anyone else. And, as I approached various Eastern bodies, I became aware that the Americanisation happening within them is something that, were I Greek or Russian or Syrian or whatever, I would lament and resist, IOW I am precisely what I would I would not like to see were I already there.

But as I am sure you know, there are many who took this path, either to the overseas, so to speak, branches of the ethnic EO churches as well as to the "Western Rite Orthodox" that also exist, of which we have two such parishes here in Omaha.

Oddly enough, though fittingly, the most concise and succinct analysis of post-conciliar Roman Catholicism I have heard came in two words from a Greek Orthodox with whom I was discussing such things -- "very sad".

Once time in Miami, during my twenty some years of not being Christian at all, I nonetheless went to Mass one Sunday at a Melkite Rite church, and it was the most moving experience re the supposedly "apostolic" churches in those twenty years. On the one hand, despite total unfamiliarity with the language and only academic awareness of the liturgy and its music, I had exactly the sense of being at Mass I always had pre council and never, ever have had in the Roman rite since, even when and most especially when the novus ordo is celebrated as given in the ordo without all kinds of "spirit of Vatican II" modifications. It was an intense moment, but also intensely bittersweet as it underscored -- at the time being years away from this all being cleared up by the Book of Concord -- that there was no place for me in Christian faith and that Christian faith was essentially a mistake in any form, stick with hanging around Orthodox Judaism even though there too in the end I do not "belong" however in that context I do not need to belong so that's OK.

There's much more to say, friend, but this is getting long.

My question would be, if those behind the changes had this mentality, then why accept the changes designed to express the mentality while rejecting the mentality that spawned them? We (LCMS) do this too, both in the adaptation of novus ordo ritual and in the adaptation of "evangelical" forms of worship, thinking we can infuse a Lutheran content into non-Lutheran worship. This has ever been a temptation in the churches. Pastor Walther, our first synodical President, encountered it in his time too, when "Methodist" was not the UMC of present but a highly successful, in terms of numbers, body of what we would not call "evangelical" (and in which my dad was raised, BTW, converting to RC in 1941) saying something like "If I do not wish to believe as a Methodist why would I worship as a Methodist".

Pax domini sit semper tecum.

At Friday, February 29, 2008 3:06:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

That's "now call 'evangelical'" not "not call 'evangelical'". Sorry. I can make typos even when the keys aren't next to each other!

At Friday, February 29, 2008 3:38:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...


You might be interested in the history of the Ukrainian Lutheran Church - an Eastern rite Lutheran group of indigenous Ukrainians. They were originally Uniate, and when in the 1920's the pope tried to force the Latin mass on them, they found LUTHER! They're Lutherans who worship with the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, slightly revised (addressing the areas of concern that Lutherans would have with Orthodoxy). A fascinating group, indeed. You can read their liturgy here:

So here were Eastern rite Roman Catholics who didn't look East (they lived there and knew its corruption too well), but found in the Lutheran Reformation their home. Kinda neat.

At Friday, February 29, 2008 7:44:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

They're really neat, Joshua!

I know you've visited my blog; the link to the liturgy in Pastor's post is the same as I have there.

Man, would I love to be able to attend this Eastern Divine Service!

At Saturday, March 01, 2008 12:12:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...

I came across that much-chopped-down Eastern Rite Lutheran agenda some years back, and didn't like it - for I believe that invocation of saints, prayer for the dead, the confession of the Eucharistic sacrifice and so forth are all true, evangelical practices, and absolutely not to be done away with.

Furthermore, I see no evidence from the early church of anything but the use of an extended anaphora (Eucharistic Prayer), and so find Luther's pretended reversion to the Verba alone (in his conflated version, yet) untenable.

Indeed, while I don't quite agree with it, I know that contemporary liturgical scholars investigating the strange case of the Anaphora of SS Addai and Mari have suggested that the earliest E.P.'s didn't contain the Verba!!!

(This is not to give over to the Eastern consecration-by-epiclesis theory either, since that only firmed up in the 4th C - see Gregory Dix in his seminal work.)

If I attend - as in my salad days I did sometimes - a Russian Catholic Divine Liturgy, I do so and glory in the mystic and unbloody worship being offered using the Anaphora of St John Chrysostom, and would disengage abruptly if I discovered a mere Hochgebet presented of Verba, Pater noster, Praefatio and Sanctus in who knows what order.

Now if you want to know my choice of Lutheran liturgy, I would have the 1576 Red Book of King John III of Sweden, complete with its own oblationary canon. But that proved a step too far back into historical continuity for the Ecclesia Svecanae.

At Saturday, March 01, 2008 1:56:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

I believe that the King John Red Book included the prayers of the canon in the intercessions, and left the Verba rather alone, as I recall. We often use something based upon it at St. Paul's. Here it is, FWIW:

We come to You, Holy Father, with praise and thanksgiving, through Jesus Christ, Your Son. Through Him we ask You to accept and bless the prayers and gifts we offer. Lord, in Your mercy, R.

Remember, Lord, Your holy church. Watch over her and guide her. Grant her peace and unity throughout the world. Lord, in Your mercy, R.

Remember, Lord, all pastors and servants of the Church. Grant them to hold and teach the faith that comes to us from the apostles. Lord, in Your mercy, R.

Remember, Lord, and bless the schools of the Church, including our own. Grant that our children may grow in wisdom and faith each day. Lord, in your mercy, R.

Remember, Lord, our President, our public servants, and all in our armed forces. Guide, bless, protect and uphold them in honor. Bring all nations into the ways of peace and justice. In Your kindness and love, grant us seasonable weather and an abundance of the fruits of the earth. Lord, in your mercy, R.

Remember, Lord, all who suffer for Your name, all who are in prison, the hungry and ill-clad, the poor and the lonely, those who travel, and all who cry out to You in time of need, especially your servants: Nn. Take them under Your tender care and grant them a happy release from their afflictions. Lord, in your mercy, R.

Remember, Lord, all who are gathered here before You, our living and true God. We pray for our well-being and redemption. Grant us Your peace in this life, save us from final damnation, and count us among Your chosen flock. Though we are sinners we trust in Your mercy and love. Do not consider what we truly deserve but grant us Your forgiveness. Lord, in Your mercy, R.

Holy Father, in communion with the whole Church we give You thanks for Your saints, in whom You have given us a mirror of Your mercy and grace. We praise You especially for the Virgin Mary, for Joseph her husband, for John the Baptist, Peter and Paul, and all Your martyrs. Give us grace to walk before you with faith like theirs and grant us some share in their heavenly fellowship. Lord, in Your mercy, R.

Lord God, in Your unfailing mercy and love You have graciously given us the holy Supper of Your Son. As now we prepare to receive His Gifts, stir up our minds to the salutary remembrance of Your benefits and to true and unending thanksgiving.

Aid us, Your ministers and Your people, that by this Mystery of the new and eternal Testament, we may recall how Your Son offered Himself upon the altar of the cross for us -- a Ransom pure, holy, and undefiled - so that, rejoicing in His resurrection from the dead and His ascension into heaven, we may joyfully await His coming in glory.

And we beg You to bless and sanctify by Your Holy Spirit’s power the bread and wine we bring before You that they become for us, through our Savior’s Words, His true Body and Blood, the nourishment of eternal life. Grant that receiving them in faith, we may be filled with every grace and blessing, through Christ our Lord.

Through Him and with Him and in Him in the unity of the Holy Spirit all glory and honor is Yours, almighty Father, forever and ever. Amen!

[This is preceded by Offering and followed by the Preface etc.]

At Saturday, March 01, 2008 2:30:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

for I believe that invocation of saints, prayer for the dead, the confession of the Eucharistic sacrifice and so forth are all true, evangelical practices, and absolutely not to be done away with.

Right you are, Joshua. The continual invocation of the prayers of the Theotokos, angels and saints are a non-negotiable in the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom as is the oblationary canon.

Even the ELCA has retained a form of the litany of supplications in her worship services.

I simply cannot relate to the "stand-alone" Verba that is used in some Lutheran congregations. It interrupts what to me is a very necessary flow in the liturgy from Word to Sacrament as regards the anamnesis.

At Saturday, March 01, 2008 3:26:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

Coming from what I came from, I rather like the stand alone Verba. It makes it real clear something Luther pointed out in Babylonian Captivity, that of the whole thing in anybody's version the only part instituted by Christ is the Varba. So the whole thing is "negotiable" but that.

I'm not uncomfortable with EPs in Lutheran liturgy, it may well be that Verba-alone was a reaction but maybe an over-reaction to how the mass became a work of ours rather than of his, and I would hardly argue that Verba alone is the only way to go. It's the way I prefer to go though.

BTW, anyone read on other blogs the idea that the Our Father was originally an EP? What about that? Even if it was, I'd like to sit down with the idea's proponents with my siddur and show them what the Our Father really originally was -- not a prayer of Jesus' invention but a simple classic Jewish prayer offered as the way to pray instead of worrying about all sorts of fancy forms.

At Saturday, March 01, 2008 4:20:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

St. Gregory the Great appears to have said that in a most puzzling letter to the bishop of Syracuse who had accused him of introducing "eastern" stuff into the Western mass. Apparently, the original Roman mass didn't include the Our Father! St. Gregory points out that in the Western Mass the priest ALONE prays the Our Father, unlike the Eastern mass, and then says that the apostles consecrated the host of oblation with this prayer alone. To which folks ever sense have said: HUH? The Lutherans made much polemical use of the citation when they were criticized for dumping the Roman Canon.

At Saturday, March 01, 2008 4:25:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

The Lutheran services my mother, sister and I attended in Germany (in the magnificent Gothic Church of St. Andrew, confiscated after the Reformation -- next time I'm home I will offer prayers in that beautiful place on behalf of the Catholics who once worshipped there) were much more "catholic" than what passes for Lutheran worship in many U.S. congregations. The traditions for Christmas, Lent and Easter that my Lutheran and Catholic grandmothers held in common were remarkably similar.

At Saturday, March 01, 2008 4:55:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...


I don't know your background (other than that you are Roman), but you might be interested (or not) in what the Lutheran Divine Service looks like at our parish. True, you will hear only the Our Father and the Verba at the consecration in this video, but it gives a feel for how we worship at any rate:

At Saturday, March 01, 2008 5:14:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

Pastor Weedon, what ???

Among his liturgical contributions Gregory moved the Our Father to immediately after the Roman Canon and immediately before the Fraction. That's how the canon is to this day. At Mass the Pater Noster is prayed after the gifts have been consecrated, to wit:

Liturgy of the Eucharist

Preparation of the Gifts
Prayer over the Gifts
Eucharistic Prayer
Memorial Acclamation
Great Amen
Communion Rite
Our Father
Rite of Peace
Breaking of the Bread (Agnus Dei)
Prayer after Communion

I have great respect for the Fathers of the Church, but really, they don't constitute the magisterium. And with good reason. It's all too easy to focus on one particular aspect of their teaching without including the whole.

At Saturday, March 01, 2008 8:35:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...


I'm familiar with the Roman Ordo of today (and of the Tridentine rite and prior orders). So I don't understand the ??? What were you questioning? That St. Gregory wrote that? Or that Lutherans frequently have prayed the Our Father prior to the consecration? We've been basically doing it that way for the last 500 years or so. :)

At Saturday, March 01, 2008 3:47:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

Pastor Weedon,

I am quite amazed at the Roman Canon turned into a Litany! Why did you use the modern ICEL translation as its basis? (So many phrases from it I recall from hearing it at the ordinary form of the Mass over the years.)

I notice,though, that all mention of oblation has been most carefully edited out, and I think you know well, though - of course - following the BoC you reject this, that the Fathers and the Liturgies do express the notion of the Eucharistic Sacrifice quite vigorously, not hesitating to say "we offer". God is asked in your litany "to accept and bless these... gifts" - but you omit the next words of the Canon in its English version: which "we offer you in sacrifice".

Similarly, God is merely thanked for his saints: yet the early Church certainly invoked them.

To accommodate these censorings, you have nicely produced such parts as a prayer for avoidance of damnation and just punishment that is drawn from the Hanc igitur and the Nobis quoque peccatoribus, but which misrepresents the context and complete intention of both.

To reduce the anamnesis to a mere remembrance is a problem: it is not a a subjective matter for pastor and people, but an objective offering by the totus Christus, according to their state, of the Victim made present, Who underwent all these actions for our salvation. As Jungmann said, the anamnesis is a subordinate clause: "remembering, we offer" - so your version omits the second half of the Unde et memores: "offerimus præclaræ Majestati tuæ, de tuis donis ac datis...", and works in the phrase "hostiam puram, hostiam sanctam, hostiam immaculatam" elsewhere.

I take it (as you are a scholar) that you yourself see the curious parallel you have made with the Mozarabic Rite (still used in a few places in Spain - on my blog there's a link to a useful website about it, giving the Ordinary and Propers, etc.).

In the Mozarabic Rite, the Intercessions - including explicit invocation of the saints and confession and pleading of the Eucharist as sacrifice - are done after the Offertory and before the Preface, so that the Canon so-called is 'reduced' to an introductory phrase (a Post-Sanctus) bridging the gap between the Sanctus and the Verba, and a short prayer (the Post Pridie) after the Verba but before the Doxology, which usually has a sort of quasiepicletic and/or oblationary sense, and IMHO best corresponds to a Roman Secret / Prayer over the Gifts [Oblata].

Is your practice normal in your group, or high even among confessional Lutherans?

BTW, were/are you a member of the Lutheran ministerium of the Holy Trinity? I once met a man who'd been a a member of it - Paul Quist. A fine Canadian family I knew while I was living in Melbourne had previously been Lutheran, though they swam the Tiber, and the husband, a former pastor, Paul Quist, together with his wife Carol, were students alongside me at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family. They now work for the Archbishop of Edmonton.

At Saturday, March 01, 2008 4:16:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

The Ukrainian "Orthodox" Lutheran liturgy cited above places the Our Father after the consecration and before communion too. It's interesting to compare the Tridentine Rite with the Orthodox Western Rite:

Since the Romans have dumped the Roman canon now too, they don't have much to say. Dumped in two senses: the three other canons added after Vatican II have a decidedly non-Roman character (no that's not just an SSPX opinion, but expressed in a number of academic papers Dr Tighe sent me), and the Roman canon as contained in the novus ordo is not the same but judiciously edited in contrast to the original.

The new Memorial Acclamations are a joke: in the Latin original, every single one of them is addressed directly to the Lord, held to be now physically present, yet most often one hears "Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again" nowhere supported by the Latin and speaking of him as if he were in the next room or somewhere.

And you gotta love how they did the verba: two of the Scripture accounts say "for you" (pro vobis) and two say "for the Many" referencing Isaiah (pro multis) but to be all politically correct that came out "for all men" which was objected to not at all because it isn't what Christ said but because of the supposedly non-inclusive nature of the generic noun men, so a little later that became "for all", still not the words of Christ but damn if it's not engaging the world or whatever as they stay away in droves.

At Saturday, March 01, 2008 5:36:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...


Be fair! I forget the right word - you'll know it! - but the correct principle of interpretation of the alternative Eucharistic Prayers is that they supplement and augment, NOT reinterpret nor, God avert, diminish, the meaning and content of the Roman Canon. Certainly the other E.P.'s are non-Roman, meaning they draw on, I think, the West Syrian shape of the anaphora, etc., plus tidbits from other rites.

If EP III and IV were translated properly, they'd be much better - in the Latin, they are fine compositions, and certainly EP IV expresses the notion of the Eucharistic sacrifice extremely firmly: "offerimus tibi ejus Corpus et Sanguinem, sacrificium tibi acceptabile et toti mundo salutare" / "we offer you his body and blood, the acceptable sacrifice which brings salvation to the whole world".

As for EP I, the Roman Canon: the English translation is dreadful (when I'm at ordinary Mass, I often read along in Latin, as I do sometimes at the Latin Mass, unless I put the Missal down and just pray), but conveys the essentials. As to the changes, in comparison with the whole text they are few and do NOT change the essentials, pace PE:

1. The lists of saints have been altered in that some names (21 from the first list, 11 from the second) may be omitted, leaving 5 in the first and 4 in the second;

2. Four times the "Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen" may be omitted, but it is still said in the last place where it occurs, and the word "eumdem" ("the same") (added in the 1474 Missale) has been removed in 3 places.

3. The words - always present - "Accipite et manducate/bibite ex hoc/eo omnes" (Take this, all of you, and eat/drink from it") have, since Paul VI's ruling on this subject, been declared to be part of the necessary words of consecration, and so are now printed in majuscule.

4. The phrase "quod pro vobis tradetur" ("which will be given up for you") has been added to the words of consecration of the host - this seems to make even clearer the sacrificial nature of Christ's making present His own Body, the Body sacrificed for us on Calvary, though some mad folk somehow think this takes away from the Verba, even though the Lord said it!

5. The words "Mysterium fidei" ("the mystery of faith") have been moved from the words of consecration of the chalice to become the introduction to the memorial acclamation; these words were always hard to construe, and they are absent in all other liturgies, so again, unless one is incurably suspicious, their change of place, however regrettable, cannot be seen as essentially changing the Mass.

6. The words "Hæc quotiescumque feceritis, in mei memoriam facietis" (As oft as ye shall do these things, ye shall do them in my memory) were changed into "Hoc facite in meeam commemorationem" ("Do this in memory of me"), to better quote the Scriptural original, and to include it as part of the words of consecration, rather than as a phrase inserted directly after them - again, unless one is always critical, this appears as a merely verbal change, and in both cases it states the Lord's command to do in memory of Him what He did - to turn bread and wine into His Body and Blood.

7. The memorial acclamations have been inserted. I find them boring and detracting from the Elevation that has taken place; but as they are addressed to the Lord, they seem fine as short prayers, especially in the Latin original. After all, in medieval days "Ave verum" or "O salutaris hostia" was often sung at the Elevation, and even today many, including priests and my own poor self, say such prayers as "My Lord and My God" at the elevation.

8. The rubrical gestures have been much simplified - a pity, but hardly earthshattering! Many of the previous signs of the cross made over the host and/or chalice have been suppressed. This is unfortunate - amusingly, priests today can be seen to point to the host and chalice when referring to them, so I think these crosses will reëmerge over time! Similarly, the altar is now kissed only once, the initial raising and lowering of the hands in a circular motion is no longer prescribed, certain of the bows are no longer present, the thumb and forefinger are not required to be conjoined (this was done lest particles of the host adhere to the fingers and then get flicked off - obviously, a priest noticing this should gently rub his fingers over the chalice to carefully remove such), the deep bow at the consecration is not so low now (this was always the case in the Dominican Rite), only two genuflections remain, and the rubrics about manipulating the host and chalice at the doxology have been simplified, amplifying the minor elevation at "omnis honor et gloria" into a longer elevation of paten and chalice, mirroring the early Ordines Romani and the Byzantine practice of the deacon elevating the Holy Gifts with crossed arms.

Again, I fully agree with you about the distorting paraphrases in English of the memorial acclamations; luckily, since I mainly attend the Trad. Mass, I don't have to put up with them.

You are absolutely right to point out the scandalous mistranslation of the whole Latin Liturgy, now finally in process of correction. But you obviously don't know of two things: (1) an instruction several decades old that says in essence that where the same phrase is translated different ways in different tongues, as in the case of pro multis, recourse must be had to the Latin version; (2) a recent instruction from Rome in this pontificate, requiring all languages to render pro multis as for many.

At Saturday, March 01, 2008 6:04:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

Pastor Weedon,

Having examined that interesting Litany, here are some further comments:

1. I take it, as per the Lutheran misreading of the Creed, the word "Catholic" is not used since it has acquired among your people a most unfortunate pejorative sense.

2. Would not the phrase "you know how firmly we believe in you and dedicate ourselves to you" be perfectly usable in your litany? It sounds quite evangelical.

3. I assume that to say "We offer you this sacrifice of praise" would be acceptable (cf. Heb. xiii, 15), but not to add "for ourselves and those who are dear to us" - since to offer something FOR someone would be an unlutheran expression.

4. Obviously you have regard to the correct doctrine about the Blessed Virgin Mary as Mother of God. Why then not include the bracketted words from the Canon: "the [ever-] Virgin Mary [Mother of Jesus Christ our Lord and God]"? This is her highest praise!

5. I would include the words "the apostles" (before "Peter and Paul"). This is their highest praise, to have been selected as ambassadors of Christ.

6. While you would not use these words in relation to the saints, why elsewhere do you not pray for God's "constant help and protection"?

7. Why not refer, as does the Canon, to "the bread of life and the cup of eternal salvation"?

8. Pardon my ignorance, but is all prayer for the dead excluded in Lutheranism? The Memento etiam is a very chaste and ancient prayer:

"Remember (also), Lord, those (your servants) who [have died and] have gone before us marked with the sign of faith, (and sleep the sleep of peace), [especially...] N. and N. May these, (Lord), and all who sleep in Christ, find [in your presence] (a place of) light, happiness, and peace (that you may grant this, we beseech)."

*Parentheses give a more literal rendering of the Latin, while square brackets give the current ICEL version.

At Saturday, March 01, 2008 6:17:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

Pastor Weedon,

Nice to have seen you and heard you at last, even via the Net!

Having watched as far as the hymn after the sermon, I thought I would thank you for providing the link to your Pentecost service for 2007.

Pentecost is very dear to me: it was Pentecost 1987 that I was baptised, confirmed and first received the Eucharist.

Some questions:

Was there no Introit? I thought Lutherans had retained the godly and ancient practice of singing psalms and the Gloria Patri, praising therefore the Most Holy Trinity, at the start of divine service.

Why was there sung only a three-fold Kyrie? I know Luther deprecated the old nine-fold Kyrie, but don't know why.

Could I be a bit critical? You sway on your feet throughout as if the strong wind of Pentecost were really blowing! Unless your part of the US is prone to earthquakes, or you are a recently retired mariner, it is best to stop the swaying and get your land-legs back: it is a very distracting bad habit that all who stand and speak before others must cure.

Your sermon was most edifying, the evident joy and utter certitude in confessing the wondrous works of God truly affecting. Being unfamiliar with the terminology, was your use of the terms Law and Gospel meant to refer to threats and promises? Your style is perhaps more emotional than Australians would go in for - it reminded me of the Catholic lay evangelist Christopher West, one of the more prominent US promoters of the theology of the body, who has a similar tenor speaking voice.

I'll now watch the second half of your sectarian conventicle! ;-)

(I assume watching a video of heretical worship is not a sin!!!)

(UNLIKE the case of a friend of mine, who received Anglican communion "to find out what it tasted like"!!!)

At Saturday, March 01, 2008 6:29:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Hey Joshua!

I generally write long enough posts, so I won't go detail to detail through all of it. Re the edited Roman Canon, there's a number of analyses that do, but the one I generally refer to is the classic Ottaviani Intervention, for which there is a link on my blog.

That's the great thing about being Catholic -- first comes something, then we descend upon it with all sorts of interpretation, hermeneutic and everything else. Nothing ever just is what it is.

Now, if the point was to "reform" the Mass first in Latin then in the vernacular, the reason it has taken nearly four decades to come up with reasonably accurate translations of texts not beyond my third year Latin class in high school is ---- ????

Yes, I do know of the first instruction you mention. But, the pope serving the People of God as a first among equals in harmony with which he must be, you know, the instruction was ignored as they usually are and I have never heard anything but "for all men" and "for all" at any novus ordo "Mass" it has been my unfortunate experience to attend.

As now I don't go to "Catholic" churches unless somebody I know who is "Catholic" gets married or dies, it's nice to hear about the second instruction. And the reason it took damn near four decades for the Vicar of Christ to insist on Christ's words is ---- ????

It's been a fun week for blogging -- I've been off work all week home with a son with Type A influenza, but he's better now so I'll be back to my regular schedule soon if I don't repent and return to my original resolution not to come here any more first.

At Saturday, March 01, 2008 7:21:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

Yes, I've read the Ottaviani Intervention - but really, there is more to understanding a liturgy than is revealed in this document, which betrays no knowledge of anything beyond 1950's Low Mass and late manualist seminary theology, to put it oversimply.

Quite right to see what scandals there are in the Church; over in Brisbane, the lazy archbishop has tolerated a most heretical parish for years, and just yesterday the Vatican had perforce to issue a ruling condemning baptisms done in names other than the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - yet surely the invalid nature of such should be a no-brainer!

I wish the wretched priests involved will be condignly punished, but don't expect much. Queensland is notorious for having gone all heretical. Until the generation of horrendous clergy that have wrecked everything die off, and nought but the few still-believing remain in church (for all the newfangled types fall away, at least sadly their children do), then and only then can the rebuilding begin.

At Saturday, March 01, 2008 7:29:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

Pastor Weedon,

A few more inquiries!

Why so many empty pews at the front?

Is it right to lift up the money brought forward in so dramatic a way? Catholics never do so.

Why didn't the congregation kneel for the Verba, as did your concelebrant, and why was no bell rung (as I know was once the Lutheran custom)?

Finally, and I am dying to know this, what was the adult server doing, what was he carrying after you and the other pastor, as you and he gave the bread and wine to the people?

An interesting insight into how your denomination worships. Thanks. Just remember: Stop Swaying!

At Sunday, March 02, 2008 2:19:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...


Yikes, so much to answer for. First, the swaying: I CAN'T stop moving. I'm hyper. If I stop, I explode. My people at first, I'm sure, found it a horrible distraction, but one they've gotten used to over time. And I do try to make myself stand still - it just usually doesn't work. :)

Introit - our liturgy permits the option of an Entrance Hymn replacing the Introit, and we often do this; though many times the Introit is used. This day, it wasn't.

Three-fold Kyrie is simply Lutheran tradition, but many of our liturgies have an expanded Kyrie (the Ektennia from the the East).

Law and Gospel is indeed to us the same as the threats and promises.

Elevation of the offering plates - LOL - custom in this area - not sure where from or why, but clearly seeking signify that we offer ourselves to the Lord with these gifts, and with the bread and wine (they are offered above them to show that the whole is our offering).

Empty pews in front: Lutherans in this country seem ALWAYS to sit in the back and fill it up first. Don't ask me why - I haven't the first clue. The balcony also was filled that day (with the choir). Also this was our early service, and it's not usually so well attended as the late service.

Congregation didn't kneel for the consecration because our pews are so tightly placed together most of our people wouldn't fit! Where Lutheran Churches have kneelers you will sometimes find them in use for the consecration, but the usual practice here is to stand.

Sacring bells haven't been used in this country ever, I don't believe, save in rare isolated instances - I think of Zion, Detroit. But I wouldn't be surprised to see a come back of them over time - they were indeed the Saxon tradition (i.e., retained in Lutheran Churches in Saxony for hundreds of years after the Reformation).

The adult server, an elder in our parish, offered what I refer to as "the individual abominations" - our Lord's blood offered in individual cups. Don't even get me to go there...

But I'm glad you could see how we worship and even for the critiques, I am grateful.

On your many comments on the "transformed canon" - the point was NOT to produce a Eucharistia, but to produce an intercession. If you just think of it in terms of intercession, it might make sense why the changes were made. The Mozarabic model did serve the LSB committee at points, curiously enough, and thus the Anamnesis in our first and second forms of Divine Service, is addressed to the Son as some of the older Mozarabic forms were:

[After the post-sanctus prayer, and then the Verba:]

As often as we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the Lord's death until He comes. C: Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!

O Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, in giving us Your body and blood to eat and to drink , You lead us to remember and confess Your holy cross and passion, Your blessed death, Your rest in the tomb, Your resurrection from the dead, Your ascension into heaven, and Your coming for final judgment. So remember us in Your kingdom and teach us to pray: Our Father...

I want to thank David for the indulgence in letting this discussion go forward, which has wandered so much from his original post. But I hope it has served the ecumenical engagement that is so dear to his heart.

At Sunday, March 02, 2008 3:14:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...

Pastor Weedon - and David -

Begging your forgiveness! I've spent today having a complete rest after a hard week at work, and a complete rest means surfing the Net, alas, at least for today...

Many thanks for putting up with all my long comments.

Perhaps I in this spirit of dialogue should think about posting some of my meditations and homilies? ;-) LOL, I'd better leave that for my blog.

At Sunday, March 02, 2008 6:43:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

While of course there are many aspects to studying liturgy, what the words say is right up there. And that's the value of the Ottaviani Intervention and other more extensive treatments. The words just don't say what they used to.

Having seen about everything under the sun passed off as Catholic I suppose I should not be surprised at the Baptisms you mention. But I am. How clearly can one contravene, speaking of what the words say, the words of Christ about baptising. The Catholic Church has long held that anyone may baptise as long as it's done with water, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghst with the intent to do what the church does at baptism -- even by a "heretic"! Then again, I remember a Trinitarian formula of Parent, Redeemer, Sanctfier being used among some of the "progressive" conciliar types.

We (LCMS) hold a similar position toward churches known to baptise according to Scripture -- my Baptism at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago, for example, is held entirely valid and there was no re-baptism, so to speak, on joining either WELS or LCMS.

Reminds me of the reception into the Church of the first post-conciliar convert I steered in that direction, knowing nothing better at the time. The person was baptised and confirmed Methodist, and was simply received, it being explained to me that since we know since the council that baptism and confirmation are really two parts of one sacrament there was no need to confirm, the idea that only a true bishop or in certain cases one acting in his stead may confirm being out the window. Private opinion, some may excuse it as, but "private opinion" exercised by the diocese in the rites of the church for a person now a practicing Catholic. Some private opinion. What "overseer" could oversee that?

You know, if you were baptised, confirmed and made your first Communion all in the same day, you must be a convert. May I ask, from what? I was a "cradle" Catholic as you probably gathered, although the Baltimore Catechism of my youth had a part saying we all must be converts in the sense that whether born into it or not we all at some point must "convert" in the sense of make it our own and live by it.

At Sunday, March 02, 2008 10:33:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...


I was a rather precocious convert! We were brought up with a few Bible stories but no church attendance. Being a fairly intelligent child, after watching such age-appropriate material as Carl Sagan's TV series I resolved there was no God and called myself an atheist, yet! But I came round to the (obvious) idea of a Creator, and having learnt that the Catholic was the original and largest church, it seemed the right one to join.

In any case, I went to see the somewhat bemused parish priest, and was put into the Confirmation class, alongside whom I was first Baptised, then given first Holy Communion. But like a lot of teenagers with virtually no formation, despite knowing and believing the basics I wasn't the world's holiest or most constant Mass-goer.

Jump forward to university - I suggested on the spur of the moment to a friend that we should go to Mass, and discovered it was Pentecost, seven years to the day... I cannot tell why (the Holy Ghost Himself, I believe), but within a day or two I found out the schedules of the local parishes, soon made my first proper confession, took up daily Mass, revised my rather modernist notions, and began to benefit greatly from a number of good priests, aided also by good friends and much reading.

At Sunday, March 02, 2008 6:08:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Thanks, Joshua!

What an interesting story. I wonder how it was that you "learnt that the Catholic Church was the original". It must have been from a Catholic because no-one else believes that. I "learnt" that myself, although being baptised and raised Catholic, what else would I be told?

Actually, I still believe that. There's only one church, and in the Creed(s) catholic is, while not its name, one of four adjectives applied to it. But an adjective, not a proper adjective. It's not its name. There's churches with "holy" and "apostolic" in their names too, but that does not make them denominationally the church of the Creed.

I still believe the catholic church is the original church, I just don't exclusively identify that with the Catholic Church. Or the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod to which I belong either, nor does LCMS want me to, for that matter, or even exclusively with the "evangelical Lutheran church" I said I would adhere to in the public profession of faith I made on joining.

IOW, the catholic church isn't a denomination. It's found wherever the Gospel is rightly preached and Sacraments rightly administered. I believe you and I both belong to the same church, the catholic church. I am where I am not because I think LCMS is the true church, or where you can reliably find the real stuff if that's the name over the door -- God knows that isn't the case! -- but because as a body it confesses the catholic faith re the Gospel and the Sacraments. So, I haven't converted to anything, strictly speaking, but simple located myself in a parish of the catholic church where the Gospel is rightly preached and the Sacraments rightly administered, walking with other parishes of the same belief -- and openly allowing for the fact that on any given day, maybe this or that parish doesn't reflect it very well, as on any given day I wouldn't say I reflect it very well myself!

BTW, as to the word "Christian" instead of "catholic" in the Creed -- yes, it does reflect a sensitivity to a potential for misunderstanding, a mistaken sensitivity I believe, and also to the fact that in the German of Luther's time the word was rendered "christlich" or Christly and the mistranslation carried over into English. Our service books clearly identify "catholic" as the original word and meaning universal or whole or complete, not a name, and its use is becoming more common. I may live long enough to see us drop the "For thine is ..." we got from the Anglicans in English in the Our Father, which the novus ordo sneaks in through the back door!

At Monday, March 03, 2008 1:11:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...


If you must know, it was the Reader's Digest Great World Atlas that we had at home that alerted me to the Catholic as the true church - one of the back maps was of the religions of the world, and there or on a nearby page was a picture of Christianity as a tree, with the Catholic Church the trunk and the EO, Protestants, Lutherans, Anglicans, etc. branching off it. As a friend of mine commented, the anonymous person who put this in is going to be saved for unknowingly converting me!

While I should rebuke you for your "invisible community of the faithful" riff on what being part of the church catholic is, I think (me quoting Vat. II - LOL, talk about devil quoting scripture) the notion of "subsistit in" covers this, since it allows - as the idea of the invincibly ignorant, etc., always did - for those outside the visible communion to be yet in good faith, etc., and imperfectly united to the totus Christus, etc.; see CDF documents that David has referred to on other posts, I should imagine the former Cardinal and present Pope puts all this better than I. (You can leave off the denunciations now...)

I would of course disagree with you and Pastor Weedon as to where exactly the sacraments be rightly administered and the Gospel rightly preached.

I'm glad you cleared up that mystery for me of why Lutherans say "Christian" not "Catholic" in the Creed; a then-Anglican friend of mine was once mortified to say the wrong word very loudly when reciting with a churchful of Tasmanian Lutherans what she assumed was the identical Creed to the one she knew. Come to think of it, the Russians do something analogous, saying something like "conciliar" (sobornost? - I forget).

At Monday, March 03, 2008 4:15:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

That phrase "subsists in" never struck me as anything new. By the lights I was taught, elements of the Catholic Faith and Church sufficient for salvation can exist outside the formal boundaries of it and in fact unite, though imperfectly, those who are saved thereby to it, thereby also including them in "outside the church there is no salvation" -- though why a person should wish to just get by, so to speak, makes no sense and certainly such a person, as soon as he sees of how much else he is bereft, would remedy the situation by "coming home".

I think you can depict the history of the church as a tree. I'd say "catholic church" being the label for the trunk, with something recognisable as Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox emerging from their status as state religion in the Roman Empire West and East, the Reformation churches branching off from the West and various "non-denoms" from there.

Actually, I say "catholic" at the Creed myself though the congregation, as most Lutheran congregations do, says "Christian".

I'm pretty sure the Orthodox would not agree with a view of them as shooting off from the Roman Church!

At Monday, March 03, 2008 1:34:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

David, PE, et al.,

Now there you have it: (you) PE and I have had an irenic dialogue in which agreement on certain points has been found. I thank God for this, and under Him, these my brothers (and some sisters) for this forum and their participation in it, from which I benefit so much.

On a humorous note, I see that the Word Verification I must input is today in Polish: "tychwjdh", meaning no doubt a small sticky whortleberry pastry made in Wladyslawl. The final "h" is silent...

At Monday, March 03, 2008 2:58:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Wow! Irenic! Well I'll be triple dipped (this is an expression from the Old West in the US, the full original not lacking reference to that into which one will be dipped. I am a big fan of the Old West, Jesse James in particular, a great American hero; where I bank the cashiers at the time kept shotguns in case the boys showed up, not getting that robbing banks wasn't about robbing banks). I've been accused of vitriolic rhetoric, so this is a first.

But it's true. Not everything was at issue in the Reformation, and certainly we can enjoy that. For me, my dispute with "Catholics" is not at all so much that they aren't Lutheran but that they aren't Catholic, or more precisely, that they have identified as Catholic a church which isn't. So in that sense I really don't have Reformation issues with them, though of course sooner or later it will arise as I have some twenty years after I left the Catholic Church for not being Catholic joined the "Lutheran Church" for being catholic.

I've enjoyed the exchange very much Joshua, and look forward to the heavenly table where I don't think these things will even come up! If I ever get to Aussieralia, I'll ask Lito if you can come over for Runzas, a Nebraska delicacy of sorts his wife whipped up from a recipe on the Net after I mentioned them on my blog. Hell, toss in the Schueztmeister and Bob Catholic too. Since grace before meals in the Little Catechism isn't essentially different from the breviary-derived one I learned as an RC kid, we may even agree on that, unless there's a Motu or something banning it or making it the extraordinary form of table prayer first.

At Tuesday, March 04, 2008 3:32:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

and then says that the apostles consecrated the host of oblation with this prayer alone.

Pastor Weedon, I think it's here I may be misunderstanding :)

You are absolutely right to point out the scandalous mistranslation of the whole Latin Liturgy, now finally in process of correction.

Yup. It will be wonderful to refer to the Church as "she" again instead of "it."

But you obviously don't know of two things:

Maybe more than two (grin, grin).

and also to the fact that in the German of Luther's time the word was rendered "christlich" or Christly and the mistranslation carried over into English.

Oh please. It became a defining part of the Reformation. My mother always adhered to "holy Christian Church" -- catholic, in any form, was not acceptable.

if I don't repent and return to my original resolution not to come here any more first.

I'm pulling a blanket over my head so you don't hear the giggling :)

At Tuesday, March 04, 2008 7:07:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Well ain't that the dingest dangest thing! (This was a favourite expression of Jesse James.)

And the Catholic Church, in its great zeal and care for souls, has released and allowed for nearly four decades translations which "sacndalously mistranslate" its new Latin liturgy because ...??

Then again, why not and who cares. Its translations are more faithful to its new Latin liturgy than its new Latin iturgy is faithful to its old. Nobody expects a brothel to get the Better Business award.

At Tuesday, March 04, 2008 9:21:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Go to bed guys! 59 comments on one blog is too much! (It's at least a kind of record). How do you expect a poor soul to keep up!

One day, if I win the lottery, I am going to throw a huge party and invite all of you over here (and pay your fares) for the mother of all ecumenical debates.

Until then: Go to BED!


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