Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lent has begun...



Ashes. We have lots of them about around here. I know that it isn't the liturgical thing - you are supposed to use the burned leaves of last year's palms - but I did wonder if it would have been fitting for someone to have gathered ashes from our burnt bushlands and townships and imposed that on us all today...

I cantored at two masses in the Cathedral today, the one the just ended was celebrated by the Archbishop. A quiet, peaceful service of great dignity, with no organ music, but lots of incense. Add that to the beautiful afternoon sunshine that comes into that building at this time of day and it was a truly sublime atmosphere in which to begin Lent.

I am hopping onto my motorcycle now to get to the service at my wife's Lutheran parish with my family. (I could have attended a fourth Ash Wednesday service today if I had been inclined - the girls had an Ash Wednesday mass at their Catholic parish school.)

They will have the imposition of ashes in the Lutheran service too - something rare in the Lutheran Church when I was a child, but which we began to introduce during my time in the Seminary, and which I always observed in every Ash Wednesday service I celebrated as a Lutheran minister.

Funny how, on the one hand, the Catholic Church is awakening to the gifts which the Protestant Churches have to offer us (slowly, but surely), and how equally the Protestant Churches are making their own our ancient customs. A sharing of gifts.

I have high hopes for this Lent - and pray that God will give me the grace to make a "good Lent". Today marks the beginning of a pilgrimage for me. When Easter Eve comes, I hope to be with my wife in St Peter's in Rome...

29 Comments:

At Wednesday, February 25, 2009 6:59:00 pm , Anonymous matthias said...

Just watch out for the motorcycle cops on the Eastern freeway SchutZ. Knowing the reputation of 2 of them-from a friend in the Force,that they are not the best mannered chaps- -if you go over the limit and explain what you do and where you are going,they would have no idea.Perhaps a good way to witness to them

 
At Wednesday, February 25, 2009 8:20:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

Which reminds me of a joke...

A car stopped at the lights is rammed into from behind by another car.

From the front car, out steps the local Anglican Vicar, Rev'd Reginald Smythe; from the back car, the local Catholic parish priest, Fr Joseph Flaherty.

Up comes the police car. A red-haired policeman emerges.

"And Father," says Constable Patrick Flanagan, ""could you be describing to me your grief when the good Vicar reversed into your car?"

******

decarmug - a safe receptacle for hot beverages in your vehicle; also, a term in Ebonics for a quick method of raising cash for crack.

 
At Thursday, February 26, 2009 4:11:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

We are making our own "your" ancient customs? Pig's bum.

Great Judas on Aschermittwoch, the imposition of ashes is a custom of the Western church, the Eastern church having neither ashes nor Ash Wednesday. It is only the hubris of the Roman church which thinks it IS the Western church that would find this ITS ancient custom.

If we "Lutherans" are recovering from ashless Ash Wednesdays it is in no way because we are receiving a gift from Rome, we are recovering a practice of the Western church too long abandoned by us ourselves under various factors that would make us "Protestant" rather than what we are -- the forced syncretism of the Prussian Union, Pietism, and the pull of the numbers of American "evangelical" Christianity to name but three -- a reformation originating in the Western church of the universal, or catholic, church, the only church there is.

We are, IOW, recovering not something that is yours, but something that is ours, or rather belonging to all of those in the catholic church, whether under the Babylonian Captivity of the Catholic Church or not.

psibras: bras for parapsychologists.

 
At Thursday, February 26, 2009 5:48:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

I have to agree with PE on this. Ash Wednesday belongs to the entire Western Church, not just to Rome.

As far as the Catholic church incorporating the gifts of Protestants, I wish she would incorporate more of the catholic ethos of Confessional Lutheranism. My final attendance at mass showed the missals now stuffed not only with the awful Oregon Catholic Press material but now also a supplement from some American evangelical praise publications. It's great for the guitars and drums, though, I'll say that.

Lord have mercy.

Do Catholics still know how to sing "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence?"

 
At Thursday, February 26, 2009 8:01:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

Christine and PE,

I am not quite sure how you figure that the imposition of ashes "belongs to the entire Western Church, not just Rome".

Among both the Anglicans and the Lutherans - and pretty definitely among the Reformed and Anabaptist traditions - the imposition of ashes was the next thing to go after the baptising of bells!

As far as I know, it has never been a part of any Protestant liturgical tradition since the Reformation.

And I can tell you that when it came to re-introducing it in the Lutheran Church (along with vestments, vigils, incense, anointings and other "ceremonies of men") we were told in no uncertain terms by the opponents of these things that it was "too Catholic".

Of course, these things belong to the entire Western Church. That is why we rejoice that they have been preserved in the Church of Rome and are now able to be shared with our Western protestant friends too.

But I don't think any of you would be doing these things if they had not been preserved in the liturgy of Rome, ie. if the Reformers had had their way.

On another point, something that Catholics have hardly ever been good at is congregational hymn singing. Yes, they still know and use "Let all mortal flesh keep silence" regularly here in Oz for Eucharistic adoration (the youth love it and mix it in with their Hillsong stuff at the Cathedral - sometimes even in Latin! - that's postmodernism for you). It is one gift I would be happy to receive from the Anglican and Lutheran Traditions. In fact, it is one gift I am intent on stealing and smuggling into the Catholic Church here in Australia whether they want it or not!

 
At Thursday, February 26, 2009 8:02:00 am , Anonymous matthias said...

stone the crows PE you have been around Australians quite a bit to pick up that language.
Confessional Lutheranism appears to be well hidden over here ,and they web site of Confessional lutherans Australia has had nothing new on it for nearly 9 months,unlike the many American Confessional Lutheran sites,and there appears to be some disquiet around the future of the Lutheran radio program ISSUES.

 
At Thursday, February 26, 2009 8:29:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

That was my point -- the "too Catholic" thing is our side of the coin of not understanding the difference between what is catholic and what is Catholic.

On our side way too often have we rejected something catholic simply because it was also Catholic.

Yes, Matthias, I had an Aussie roommate in grad school for some time, and ended up being best man at his wedding. Holy crap, he, four Aussies who came over for it, and I made more noise than a whole churchful of Norwegian Lutherans from Minnesota.

My favourite Aussieralianism is "technicolour yawn", though I don't get to use it much on this blog.

BTW he was from Melbourne, Hobart originally.

 
At Thursday, February 26, 2009 8:46:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

And I can tell you that when it came to re-introducing it in the Lutheran Church (along with vestments, vigils, incense, anointings and other "ceremonies of men") we were told in no uncertain terms by the opponents of these things that it was "too Catholic".

Truth be told, don't see them too much in contemporary Catholicism either. Back in my husband's and father's day every Sunday, High Mass, they pulled out all the stops. In my ten years as a Catholic they dragged out the incense on the Easter Vigil and Christmas. Maybe a few other times such as Corpus Christi. Other than that, Sunday masses were pretty spare.

It's no wonder that the churches after the Reformation suppressed a lot of Catholic practices after the meltdown at the Reformation with the indulgence scandal and the superstition that ran rampant among the populace.

Ceremony and incense do not necessarily disciples make. The Lutheran Church was very much aware of "Catholic" practices pre and post-Reformation and recovered the imposition of ashes according to her own needs.

Which reminds me, last year when I went to the Catholic cathedral down the street from where I work I discovered that the preferred paradigm is now "Repent and believe in the Gospel" -- fits in better with their social justice agenda.

When I go to my LCMS parish tonight I will be reminded that I am dust and to dust I will return. A good reminder, that. And the liturgical practice will be much more in conformity with ancient catholic practice than is often seen today in the Catholic church.

 
At Thursday, February 26, 2009 10:53:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

Ceremony and incense do not necessarily disciples make.

Absolutely. No arguement there. Well, with the caveat that the road of Christian discipleship begins with and continues in the power of at least one particular "ceremony" - Holy Baptism.

I find incense used at some parishes around Melbourne for at least one mass on Sundays. Rare in other places though. Lots of it yesterday afternoon in the Cathdedral!

Which reminds me, last year when I went to the Catholic cathedral down the street from where I work I discovered that the preferred paradigm is now "Repent and believe in the Gospel" -- fits in better with their social justice agenda.

No, that's not quite it. There are two options in the current order, the traditional "Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you will return" and the optional "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel". I guess different countries use different translations, but basically, it is either the traditional formula or the one from the start of Mark's Gospel.

I am happy with both, but they are (admittedly) radically different in the message they proclaim. I think one reason that the traditional one is not used is because some feel funny saying to a woman "Remember, O Man". Of course, anyone who stops to think about it will realise that "man" is generic in the sense "O mankind".

In any case I used the traditional formula yesterday for everyone - male and female - who came to me for the imposition in the Cathedral. "Let them work it out", I thought.

 
At Thursday, February 26, 2009 11:32:00 am , Blogger Kiran said...

PE, name me another western "Church". Insofar as you constitute a collection of disparate groups (understandably or not) split off from the Church of Rome, that is all you are. Incense might not a Church make, but a forced syncretism definitely does not a Church make.

intat: Not quite whole

 
At Thursday, February 26, 2009 12:31:00 pm , Blogger Tony said...

Getting back to the ashes ...

As we're expecting another 36C day today (and sending it to Melbourne tomorrow!) I guess, in both towns, there'll be a lot of nerves.

We have a couple of volunteer fireys on staff here and one of them flew over to Victoria this morning. He's glad to help out, but is more than a little concerned about leaving here on a day like today. He has a house in the hills himself so he'll be hoping very much that when he comes home (probably next Monday) it'll still be there!

Fortunately though it looks like it won't be a sustained hot period this time, but the bush is sooooo dry.

floge: houseboat

 
At Thursday, February 26, 2009 2:46:00 pm , Anonymous matthias said...

thanks for sending the CFS blokes Tony. Schutz you are right re the non celebration of Lent in Believers Churches.My mother who was a Sydney Anglican use to moan that the Churches of Christ only celebrated Easter and Christmas and not the rest of the Church year. My own church-Baptist-have put out a Lenten booklet,I was pleasantly surprised.

Speciman: Italian astronaut

 
At Thursday, February 26, 2009 9:50:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

There's "two options" not only in the bleeding current order, radically different in the message they proclaim, but in the faith of the church which fashioned the new order to reflect its new faith.

A novus ordo for a nova ecclesia.

Even if one were to accept "the church of Rome" as THE church, one would then immediately have to reject the bogus entity travelling under the name now, lyingly offering what it says is the message of the real church alongside its actual new message.

 
At Friday, February 27, 2009 12:56:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

No, that's not quite it. There are two options in the current order,

Exactly. There are lots of "options" in the Novus Ordo these days. Too many, in my book.

And back to the ashes thing, it occurred to me that ashes as a symbol of repentance actually have their roots in the Old Testament, being referred to in numerous texts. Ashes have long been a symbol of repentance.

Even before the existence of the RC.

How wondeful it was to be at Divine Service for Ash Wednesday yesterday. Scripture came alive for me in the readings, the sermon and in the glorious hymns of praise and thanksgiving to Christ for the gifts of His body and blood. Dust I am and to dust I shall return but my life and that of all those of the true faith is hidden with Christ in God.

I'm not Catholic anymore but I'm very much again catholic.

 
At Friday, February 27, 2009 1:05:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

I think one reason that the traditional one is not used is because some feel funny saying to a woman "Remember, O Man". Of course, anyone who stops to think about it will realise that "man" is generic in the sense "O mankind".

Unfortunately it panders to the radical feminists in the RC, especially female religious. They won't rest until every bit of gender specific language is stripped from the liturgy.

I saw a "prayer resource" published by the Liturgical Press (associated with the Benedictine Abtei where PE attended). It was a simplified Liturgy of the Hours compiled by a Dominican sister from some retreat place in Ohio. I have never, never seen such a tortured version of the Benedictus and Magnificat, shorn of any masculine reference whatsoever. That's the kind of deconstruction that is subtly and steadily eroding what was formerly the Catholic faith. I wonder if the bishops even see half of this stuff.

In any case I used the traditional formula yesterday for everyone - male and female - who came to me for the imposition in the Cathedral. "Let them work it out", I thought.

Good for you for holding down the fort.

 
At Friday, February 27, 2009 9:42:00 am , Blogger Louise said...

Baptising Bells! What a great idea! Do we still do it?

Lutherans don't seem to know whether they are coming or going. Do we have ashes or not? I dunno: chuck 'em out and then bring 'em back when we realise we shouldn't have chucked 'em out.

 
At Friday, February 27, 2009 9:44:00 am , Blogger Louise said...

he was from Melbourne, Hobart originally.

Clearly a good bloke, then.

 
At Friday, February 27, 2009 9:53:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

Christine said:
Unfortunately it panders to the radical feminists in the RC, especially female religious. They won't rest until every bit of gender specific language is stripped from the liturgy.

Just a point, Christine: The Lutheran liturgy here - I haven't checked LBW or Lutheran Worship over there - just has the one option: "You are dust and to dust you will return". They left the "O Man" bit right out. And the "Remember". Who's pandering to who here?

And of course the symbol of ashes comes from the Old Testament. It was never my point that we invented the symbol. Just that we preserved it. So now everyone can enjoy being catholic - even those who don't want to go the full hog and be Catholic!

 
At Friday, February 27, 2009 10:53:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

Well actually the "O Man bit" isn't in there to begin with.

The "mori" is not man, it's death. Remember death, that's what it means.

It comes from the triumphal military parades of the Roman Empire, when the victorious commander would have a slave behind him in the chariot saying Remember Death while the hoopla of victory surrounds him, to keep a realistic perspective on the hoopla, which will pass, and death, which does not.

The rest is Christian imagery.

So actually, even Remember Man doesn't quite get at the jarring reality with which Lent begins!

Remember Death.

So now you can be catholic even if you want to restrict it to Catholic.

 
At Friday, February 27, 2009 12:58:00 pm , Blogger Vicci said...

Nice scholarship, PE.
(Schutz take note)


imisionn Half-time at an Arthouse cinema

 
At Friday, February 27, 2009 2:44:00 pm , Blogger Louise said...

Well actually the "O Man bit" isn't in there to begin with.

Where are we talking about, exactly?

 
At Friday, February 27, 2009 3:02:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Twarn't nuthin Miss Vicci. Just a preconciliar altar boy trying to get along on Sister Colleen's high school Latin (first year grammar, second year Caesar, third year Cicero, fourth year Virgil.

Well that and Graduate Review Latin.

What we're talking about is another of David's incessant attempts to find Catholicism in post-conciliar Catholicism, this time in his counter-example to Christine's example re what is said upon the imposition of ashes, which since 1970 now has Option A, Option B etc just like the faith the liturgy was re-invented to express.

fernial: heavenly, opposite of infernial, which will be someone else's word verification; alternatively, of or relating to ferns.

 
At Friday, February 27, 2009 3:35:00 pm , Blogger Louise said...

which since 1970 now has Option A, Option B etc

I doubt that this is a fundmentally bad thing.

 
At Saturday, February 28, 2009 1:21:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

Just a point, Christine: The Lutheran liturgy here - I haven't checked LBW or Lutheran Worship over there - just has the one option: "You are dust and to dust you will return". They left the "O Man" bit right out. And the "Remember". Who's pandering to who here?

I'm getting the impression, David, that the LCA you belonged to has far more in common with the ELCA than with Confessional Lutherans.

First off, I don't use the LBW or Lutheran Worship. My LCMS parish (which I should have joined when I left the ELCA instead of swimming the Tiber) uses the new Lutheran Service Book and The Lutheran Hymnal (the beloved "Red Book", as my Lutheran mother used to call it). The pastor uses the Genesis form of "You are dust and to dust you shall return" on Ash Wednesday.

The New American Bible (with its usual "elegeance") uses "For you are dirt, and to dirt you shall return." Both forms do away with any gender specific paradigm. So I'm not sure that the use of "man" is universal in Catholic liturgy anymore which led me to wonder why you mentioned it, unless that is unique to Australia.

Nevertheless, my original contention that gender wars will continue to plague the Catholic church stands. I saw all too much of it as a Catholic.

 
At Saturday, February 28, 2009 1:23:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

Just saw PE's explanation.

That put's a context on it.

 
At Saturday, February 28, 2009 10:18:00 am , Blogger Louise said...

my original contention that gender wars will continue to plague the Catholic church stands.

Like it's not plaguing any other churches.

 
At Saturday, February 28, 2009 11:15:00 am , Anonymous Tony Bartel said...

In the Sacramentary the first text for the Imposition of Ashes is:

Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.

Our youngest two children attend a Roman Catholic (actually more of an Irish Catholic) primary school and at the Imposition of Ashes the priest used the traditional formula, the lay ministers (teachers) imposing ashes all used the above text.

While the alternative text does call for repentance, it misses the symbolism of the ritual act and is weaker liturgically than the traditional formula.

In the East, Lent does not begin until Sunday Evening. As Past Elder noted there is no Imposition of Ashes, but on Sunday Evening there is Forgiveness Vespers which concludes with everybody approaching each other member of the congregation and asking them to forgive them. Then the kiss of peace is exchanged.

One Orthodox parish in Melbourne uses a University Chapel which is unavailable to them on Sunday evening. They are having Forgiveness Vespers right after the Divine Liturgy because the priest considers the act of forgiveness so important in beginning Lent.

You may ask why not just have the element of forgiveness separate from Vespers. Well that would not be the Orthodox way. As one priest said when asked why the Orthodox liturgy is so repetitive: "If something is worth saying once it is worth saying three times". Or as a Russian priest said to me once: "Australians complain if liturgy at Easter is three hours. In Russia is seven hours"

 
At Saturday, February 28, 2009 12:36:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Clean Monday! Go for it.

Good thing Rome doesn't have Clean Monday, or it might have been moved to Sunday in the novus ordo, for "pastoral reasons" of course.

 
At Saturday, February 28, 2009 7:09:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Vicci! And anyone else still reading.

I was wrong.

More specifically, incomplete.

The phrase "memento mori" is indeed as I said above. However in the Roman liturgy -- no wonder no-one caught it as the Roman liturgy is quite rare in Roman Catholicism now -- the phrase is indeed "memento homo".

Two things about that. One is, while English uses the generic word for thinking beings (what "man" means in its Sanskrit source) also for male thinking beings, Latin does not. Homo is man, vir is a male. Therefore, homo is translated by the generic reference man.

Also, some give the short saying by the auriga (what the guy in the chariot with the victorious commander was called) to the general as memento homo, as well as memento mori.

However, Latin does not state verbs of existence (except in late Latin written by church types who spoke something else first), namely all forms of "to be". Therefore, the translation of the phrase memento homo is not "Remember, man, ..." but "Remember you are a man".

In either case, a warning to the general not to get carried away by the triumphal parade, and in either case apt for Ash Wednesday to remember we are men, remember death, the ashes to which we will return.

 

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