quod pro nobis traditum est

Thursday, November 30, 2006

St. Andrew, Apostle

30 November 2006

St. Andrew is one of the days recognized simultaneously on the calendars of both the Eastern and Western Churches. Today is also significant in that on this day Pope Benedict XVI is in Istanbul meeting with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I as they continue seeking ways to work toward unity between the two Churches.

The historical and liturgical heritages of these two Churches are found in our Lutheran hymnals (in both liturgy and hymnody) so I thought the information below might be of interest to you. Provided below are a Declaration, Address and Homily:


Declaration by Pope and Orthodox Patriarch "We Must Strengthen Our Cooperation"
ISTANBUL, Turkey, NOV. 30, 2006 ( Here is the text of the Common Declaration signed today by Benedict XVI and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, at the end of the Divine Liturgy in the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George at the Phanar, Istanbul.
* * *
Common Declaration by Pope Benedict XVI and Patriarch Bartholomew I "This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!" (Ps 117:24)
This fraternal encounter which brings us together, Pope Benedict XVI of Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, is God's work, and in a certain sense his gift. We give thanks to the Author of all that is good, who allows us once again, in prayer and in dialogue, to express the joy we feel as brothers and to renew our commitment to move towards full communion. This commitment comes from the Lord's will and from our responsibility as Pastors in the Church of Christ. May our meeting be a sign and an encouragement to us to share the same sentiments and the same attitudes of fraternity, cooperation and communion in charity and truth. The Holy Spirit will help us to prepare the great day of the re-establishment of full unity, whenever and however God wills it. Then we shall truly be able to rejoice and be glad.
1. We have recalled with thankfulness the meetings of our venerable predecessors, blessed by the Lord, who showed the world the urgent need for unity and traced sure paths for attaining it, through dialogue, prayer and the daily life of the Church. Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I went as pilgrims to Jerusalem, to the very place where Jesus Christ died and rose again for the salvation of the world, and they also met again, here in the Phanar and in Rome. They left us a common declaration which retains all its value; it emphasizes that true dialogue in charity must sustain and inspire all relations between individuals and between Churches, that it "must be rooted in a total fidelity to the one Lord Jesus Christ and in mutual respect for their own traditions" ("Tomos Agapis," 195). Nor have we forgotten the reciprocal visits of His Holiness Pope John Paul II and His Holiness Dimitrios I. It was during the visit of Pope John Paul II, his first ecumenical visit, that the creation of the Mixed Commission for theological dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church was announced. This has brought together our Churches in the declared aim of re-establishing full communion. As far as relations between the Church of Rome and the Church of Constantinople are concerned, we cannot fail to recall the solemn ecclesial act effacing the memory of the ancient anathemas which for centuries had a negative effect on our Churches. We have not yet drawn from this act all the positive consequences which can flow from it in our progress towards full unity, to which the mixed Commission is called to make an important contribution. We exhort our faithful to take an active part in this process, through prayer and through significant gestures.
2. At the time of the plenary session of the mixed Commission for theological dialogue, which was recently held in Belgrade through the generous hospitality of the Serbian Orthodox Church, we expressed our profound joy at the resumption of the theological dialogue. This had been interrupted for several years because of various difficulties, but now the Commission was able to work afresh in a spirit of friendship and cooperation. In treating the topic "Conciliarity and Authority in the
Church" at local, regional and universal levels, the Commission undertook a phase of study on the ecclesiological and canonical consequences of the sacramental nature of the Church. This will permit us to address some of the principal questions that are still unresolved. We are committed to offer unceasing support, as in the past, to the work entrusted to this Commission and we accompany its members with our prayers.
3. As Pastors, we have first of all reflected on the mission to proclaim the Gospel in today's world. This mission, "Go, make disciples of all nations" (Mt 28:19), is today more timely and necessary than ever, even in traditionally Christian countries. Moreover, we cannot ignore the increase of secularization, relativism, even nihilism, especially in the Western world. All this calls for a renewed and powerful proclamation of the Gospel,adapted to the cultures of our time. Our traditions represent for us a patrimony which must be continually shared, proposed, and interpreted anew. This is why we must strengthen our cooperation and our common witness before the world.
4. We have viewed positively the process that has led to the formation of the European Union. Those engaged in this great project should not fail to take into consideration all aspects affecting the inalienable rights of the human person, especially religious freedom, a witness and guarantor of respect for all other freedoms. In every step towards unification, minorities must be protected, with their cultural traditions and the distinguishing features of their religion. In Europe, while remaining open to other religions and to their cultural contributions, we must unite our efforts to preserve Christian roots, traditions and values, to ensure respect for history, and thus to contribute to the European culture of the future and to the quality of human relations at every level. In this context, how could we not evoke the very ancient witnesses and the illustrious Christian heritage of the land in which our meeting is taking place, beginning with what the Acts of the Apostles tells us concerning the figure of Saint Paul, Apostle of the Gentiles? In this land, the Gospel message and the ancient cultural tradition met. This link, which has contributed so much to the Christian heritage that we share, remains timely and will bear more fruit in the future for evangelization and for our unity.
5. Our concern extends to those parts of today's world where Christians live and to the difficulties they have to face, particularly poverty, wars and terrorism, but equally to various forms of exploitation of the poor, of migrants, women and children. We are called to work together to promote respect for the rights of every human being, created in the image and likeness of God, and to foster economic, social and cultural development. Our theological and ethical traditions can offer a solid basis for a united approach in preaching and action. Above all, we wish to affirm that killing innocent people in God's name is an offence against him and against human dignity. We must all commit ourselves to the renewed service of humanity and the defense of human life, every human life. We take profoundly to heart the cause of peace in the Middle East, where our Lord lived, suffered, died and rose again, and where a great multitude of our Christian brethren have lived for centuries. We fervently hope that peace will be re-established in that region, that respectful coexistence will be strengthened between the different peoples that live there, between the Churches and between the different religions found there. To this end, we encourage the establishment of closer relationships between Christians, and of an authentic and honest interreligious dialogue, with a view to combating every form of violence and discrimination.
6. At present, in the face of the great threats to the natural environment, we want to express our concern at the negative consequences for humanity and for the whole of creation which can result from economic and technological progress that does not know its limits. As religious leaders, we consider it one of our duties to encourage and to support all efforts made to protect God's creation, and to bequeath to future generations a world in which they will be able to live.
7. Finally, our thoughts turn towards all of you, the faithful of our two Churches throughout the world, Bishops, priests, deacons, men and women religious, lay men and women engaged in ecclesial service, and all the baptized. In Christ we greet other Christians, assuring them of our prayers and our openness to dialogue and cooperation. In the words of the Apostle of the Gentiles, we greet all of you: "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Cor 1:2).
At the Phanar, 30 November 2006
Benedict XVI Bartholomew I
[Translation issued by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople]


Pope's Address at the End of Divine Liturgy
"We Are Called Š to Renew Europe's Awareness of Its Christian Roots"
ISTANBUL, Turkey, NOV. 30, 2006 ( Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today at the end of the Divine Liturgy on the feast of St. Andrew, celebrated by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople in the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George at the Phanar, Istanbul.
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This Divine Liturgy celebrated on the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Patron Saint of the Church of Constantinople, brings us back to the early Church, to the age of the Apostles. The Gospels of Mark and Matthew relate how Jesus called the two brothers, Simon, whom Jesus calls Cephas or Peter, and Andrew: "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Mt 4:19, Mk 1:17). The Fourth Gospel also presents Andrew as the first to be called, "ho protoklitos", as he is known in the Byzantine tradition. It is Andrew who then brings his brother Simon to Jesus (cf. Jn 1:40f.). Today, in this Patriarchal Church of Saint George, we are able to experience once again the communion and call of the two brothers, Simon Peter and Andrew, in the meeting of the Successor of Peter and his Brother in the episcopal ministry, the head of this Church traditionally founded by the Apostle Andrew. Our fraternal encounter highlights the special relationship uniting the Churches of Rome and Constantinople as Sister Churches. With heartfelt joy we thank God for granting new vitality to the relationship that has developed since the memorable meeting in Jerusalem in December 1964 between our predecessors, Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras. Their exchange of letters, published in the volume entitled "Tomos Agapis," testifies to the depth of the bonds that grew between them, bonds mirrored in the relationship between the Sister Churches of Rome and Constantinople.
On 7 December 1965, the eve of the final session of the Second Vatican Council, our venerable predecessors took a unique and unforgettable step in the Patriarchal Church of Saint George and the Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican respectively: they removed from the memory of the Church the tragic excommunications of 1054. In this way they confirmed a decisive shift in our relationship. Since then, many other important steps have been taken along the path of mutual rapprochement. I recall in particular the visit of my predecessor, Pope John Paul II, to Constantinople in 1979, and the visits to Rome of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I. In that same spirit, my presence here today is meant to renew our commitment to advancing along the road towards the re-establishment -- by God's grace -- of full communion between the Church of Rome and the Church of Constantinople. I can assure you that the Catholic Church is willing to do everything possible to overcome obstacles and to seek, together with our Orthodox brothers and sisters, ever more effective means of pastoral cooperation to this end. The two brothers, Simon, called Peter, and Andrew, were fishermen whom Jesus called to become fishers of men. The Risen Lord, before his Ascension, sent them out together with the other Apostles with the mission of making all nations his disciples, baptizing them and proclaiming his teachings (cf. Mt
28:19ff.; Lk 24:47; Acts 1:8). This charge left us by the holy brothers Peter and Andrew is far from finished. On the contrary, today it is even more urgent and necessary. For it looks not only to those cultures which have been touched only marginally by the Gospel message, but also to long-established European cultures deeply grounded in the Christian tradition. The process of secularization has weakened the hold of that tradition; indeed, it is being called into question, and even rejected. In the face of this reality, we are called, together with all other Christian communities, to renew Europe's awareness of its Christian roots, traditions and values, giving them new vitality. Our efforts to build closer ties between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches are a part of this missionary task. The divisions which exist among Christians are a scandal to the world and an obstacle to the proclamation of the Gospel. On the eve of his passion and death, the Lord, surrounded by his disciples, prayed fervently that all may be one, so that the world may believe (cf. Jn 17:21). It is only through brotherly communion between Christians and through their mutual love that the message of God's love for each and every man and woman will become credible. Anyone who casts a realistic glance on the Christian world today will see the urgency of this witness. Simon Peter and Andrew were called together to become fishers of men. This same task, however, took on a different form for each of the brothers. Simon, notwithstanding his human weakness, was called "Peter", the "rock" on which the Church was to be built; to him in a particular way were entrusted the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven (cf. Mt 16:18). His journey would take him from Jerusalem to Antioch, and from Antioch to Rome, so that in that City he might exercise a universal responsibility. The issue of the universal service of Peter and his Successors has unfortunately given rise to our differences of opinion, which we hope to overcome, thanks also to the theological dialogue which has been recently resumed. My venerable predecessor, the Servant of God Pope John Paul II, spoke of the mercy that characterizes Peter's service of unity, a mercy which Peter
himself was the first to experience (Encyclical "Ut Unum Sint," 91). It is on this basis that Pope John Paul extended an invitation to enter into a fraternal dialogue aimed at identifying ways in which the Petrine ministry might be exercised today, while respecting its nature and essence, so as to "accomplish a service of love recognized by all concerned" (ibid., 95). It is my desire today to recall and renew this invitation. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, received another task from the Lord, one which his very name suggests. As one who spoke the Greek language, he became -- together with Philip -- the Apostle of the encounter with the Greeks who
came to Jesus (cf. Jn 12:20ff.). Tradition tells us that he was a missionary not only in Asia Minor and the territories south of the Black Sea, that is, in this very region, but also in Greece, where he suffered martyrdom. The Apostle Andrew, therefore, represents the meeting between early Christianity and Greek culture. This encounter, particularly in Asia Minor, became possible thanks especially to the great Cappadocian Fathers, who enriched the liturgy, theology and spirituality of both the Eastern and the Western Churches. The Christian message, like the grain of wheat (cf. Jn 12:24), fell on this land and bore much fruit. We must be profoundly grateful for the heritage that emerged from the fruitful encounter between the Christian message and Hellenic culture. It has had an enduring impact on the Churches of East and West. The Greek Fathers have left us a store of treasure from which the Church continues to draw riches old and new (cf. Mt 13:52).
The lesson of the grain of wheat that dies in order to bear fruit also has a parallel in the life of Saint Andrew. Tradition tells us that he followed the fate of his Lord and Master, ending his days in Patras, Greece. Like Peter, he endured martyrdom on a cross, the diagonal cross that we venerate today as the cross of Saint Andrew. From his example we learn that the path of each single Christian, like that of the Church as a whole, leads to new life, to eternal life, through the imitation of Christ and the experience of his cross.
In the course of history, both the Church of Rome and the Church of Constantinople have often experienced the lesson of the grain of wheat. Together we venerate many of the same martyrs whose blood, in the celebrated words of Tertullian, became the seed of new Christians ("Apologeticum," 50, 13). With them, we share the same hope that impels the Church to "press forward, like a stranger in a foreign land, amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of God" ("Lumen Gentium," 8, cf. Saint Augustine, "De Civ. Dei," XVIII, 51, 2). For its part, the century that has just ended also saw courageous witnesses to the faith, in both East and West. Even now, there are many such witnesses in different parts of the world. We remember them in our prayer and, in whatever way we can, we offer them our support, as we urge all world leaders to respect religious freedom as a fundamental human right.
The Divine Liturgy in which we have participated was celebrated according to the rite of Saint John Chrysostom. The cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ have been made mystically present. For us Christians this is a source and sign of constantly renewed hope. We find that hope beautifully expressed in the ancient text known as the Passion of Saint Andrew: "I greet you, O Cross, consecrated by the Body of Christ and adorned by His limbs as by precious pearls Š May the faithful know your joy, and the gifts you hold in store Š".
This faith in the redeeming death of Jesus on the cross, and this hope which the Risen Christ offers to the whole human family, are shared by all of us, Orthodox and Catholics alike. May our daily prayer and activity be inspired by a fervent desire not only to be present at the Divine Liturgy, but to be able to celebrate it together, to take part in the one table of the Lord, sharing the same bread and the same chalice. May our encounter today serve as an impetus and joyful anticipation of the gift of full communion. And may the Spirit of God accompany us on our journey!
[Original text: English]
© Copyright 2006 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Bartholomew I's Homily at Divine Liturgy
"We Are Reminded of the Need to Reach Unity in Faith as Well as in Prayer"
ISTANBUL, Turkey, NOV. 30, 2006 ( Here is the homily delivered today by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, during the Divine Liturgy on the feast of the Apostle Andrew, celebrated in the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George at the Phanar, Istanbul, attended by Benedict XVI.
* * *
With the grace of God, Your Holiness, we have been blessed to enter the joy of the Kingdom, to "see the true light and receive the heavenly Spirit." Every celebration of the Divine Liturgy is a powerful and inspiring con-celebration of heaven and of history. Every Divine Liturgy is both an anamnesis of the past and an anticipation of the Kingdom. We are convinced that during this Divine Liturgy, we have once again been transferred spiritually in three directions: toward the kingdom of heaven where the angels celebrate; toward the celebration of the liturgy through the centuries; and toward the heavenly kingdom to come. This overwhelming continuity with heaven as well as with history means that the Orthodox liturgy is the mystical experience and profound conviction that "Christ is and ever shall be in our midst!" For in Christ, there is a deep connection between past, present, and future. In this way, the liturgy is more than merely the recollection of Christ's words and acts. It is the realization of the very presence of Christ Himself, who has promised to be wherever two or three are gathered in His name.
At the same time, we recognize that the rule of prayer is the rule of faith ("lex orandi lex credendi"), that the doctrines of the Person of Christ and of the Holy Trinity have left an indelible mark on the liturgy, which comprises one of the undefined doctrines, "revealed to us in mystery," of which St. Basil the Great so eloquently spoke. This is why, in liturgy, we are reminded of the need to reach unity in faith as well as in prayer. Therefore, we kneel in humility and repentance before the living God and our Lord Jesus Christ, whose precious Name we bear and yet at the same time whose seamless garment we have divided. We confess in sorrow that we are not yet able to celebrate the holy sacraments in unity. And we pray that the day may come when this sacramental unity will be realized in its fullness. And yet, Your Holiness and beloved brother in Christ, this con-celebration of heaven and earth, of history and time, brings us closer to each other today through the blessing of the presence, together with all the saints, of the predecessors of our Modesty, namely St. Gregory the Theologian and St. John Chrysostom. We are honored to venerate the relics of these two spiritual giants after the solemn restoration of their sacred relics in this holy church two years ago when they were graciously returned to us by the venerable Pope John Paul II. Just as, at that time, during our Thronal Feast, we welcomed and placed their saintly relics on the Patriarchal Throne, chanting "Behold your throne!", so today we gather in their living presence and eternal memory as we celebrate the Liturgy named in honor of St. John Chrysostom.
Thus our worship coincides with the same joyous worship in heaven and throughout history. Indeed, as St. John Chrysostom himself affirms: "Those in heaven and those on earth form a single festival, a shared thanksgiving, one choir" (PG 56.97). Heaven and earth offer one prayer, one feast, one doxology. The Divine Liturgy is at once the heavenly kingdom and our home, "a new heaven and a new earth" (Rev. 21.1), the ground and center where all things find their true meaning. The Liturgy teaches us to broaden our horizon and vision, to speak the language of love and communion, but also to learn that we must be with one another in spite of our differences and even divisions. In its spacious embrace, it includes the whole world, the communion of saints, and all of God's creation. The entire universe becomes "a cosmic liturgy", to recall the teaching of St. Maximus the Confessor. This kind of Liturgy can never grow old or outdated. The only appropriate response to this showering of divine benefits and compassionate mercy is gratitude ("eucharistia"). Indeed, thanksgiving and glory are the only fitting response of human beings to their Creator. For to Him belong all glory, honor, and worship: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; now and always, and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Truly, particular and wholehearted gratitude fills our hearts toward the loving God, for today, on the festive commemoration of the Apostle founder and protector of this Church, the Divine Liturgy is attended by His Holiness our brother and bishop of the elder Rome, Pope Benedict XVI, together with his honorable entourage. Once again, we gratefully greet this presence as a blessing from God, as an expression of brotherly love and honor toward our Church, and as evidence of our common desire to continue -- in a spirit of love and faithfulness to the Gospel Truth and the common tradition of our Fathers -- the unwavering journey toward the restoration of full communion among our Churches, which constitutes His divine will and command. May it be so.
[Translation issued by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople]



[The above was also posted this evening on: ""]

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Earlier this month the resignation of John Fenton as a Lutheran pastor and his move to Orthodoxy was mentioned here in a post . For those who would like to know more about this move he will be interviewed this Saturday on an Orthodox radio station. For information about this interview visit his blog.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Luther and justification by faith

"'Faith is now sharply defined by this situation: faith is openness to and acknowledgement of Christ's authority in its concrete sacramental exercise. There is no other prerequisite than faith for the fruitful reception of the sacrament, because the sacrament is itself the public act in which Christ bestows his grace on the ungodly. The public sacramental life of the Church is now seen as the locus of assurance, of certitude, the place where an entirely unidialectical salvific communication takes place.' In sum, justification is Christology."

(Richard John Neuhaus citing David Yeago's description of Luther's understanding of justification by faith in the essay "Luther, Newman, and the Punctiliar Church" in "All Theology is Christology: Essays in Honor of David P. Scaer", p. 156)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Good Conscience

"For though the good person have a good conscience, how does he know how the final judge, who is deceived by no one, will judge? He has a good conscience; no sins conceived in the heart argue with him. Yet, though his conscience is good, because of the daily sins of human life, he says to God daily, 'Forgive us our debts,' on the assumption that he has already done what comes next, 'as we also forgive our debtors.' He has broken his bread to the hungry from the heart; from the heart he has clothed the naked. Out of that inward oil he has done good works, and yet in that judgment even his good conscience trembles."
- St. Augustine (Sermon 93:8-9 cited in ACCS: Matthew 14-28, 219)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

According to Your Word - Presentation and Purification

In the Eastern and Western Churches today, Nov. 21, is the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This feast is based on the Protoevangelium of James and other apocryphal writings which say that at the age of three Mary was presented to the Lord by her parents in the Temple at Jerusalem. The recognition of this day originated in the East and was later adopted in the Western Church.

Since the visit to the Temple is apocryphal this feast day did not continue among the churches of the Augsburg Confession (that I am aware of). However, this day does lead us to consider the approaching feast on Feb. 2 at which the churches celebrate The Purification of Mary and the Presentation of Our Lord.

Jumping ahead to the feast in February we are reminded of the liturgical inheritance that the Church has received upon receiving the very Body and Blood of Christ at the altar. The Church sings the words of the just and devout Simeon in the Temple when he took the baby Jesus up in his arms and blessed God saying:

"Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace,
According to Your word;
For my eyes have seen Your salvation
Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel."
(Luke 2:29-32)

So too we remember Mary's words at the announcement of Jesus' birth by the Angel Gabriel, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." (Luke 1:38)

"According to Your word" - these words of Simeon and of the Blessed* Virgin Mary are the Church's in her own humble self-presentation at the altar to receive purification in the Body and Blood of Mary's Son, just as He Himself instituted for His Bride the Church for the forgiveness of sins.

*(Luke 1:28,42,45,48)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bible and Liturgy

"Bible and Liturgy", an introduction to a study of divine revelation and divine worship, is available here as a .pdf file. This is a work in progress . . .

Sunday, November 12, 2006

St. Josaphat Basilica

I found on a Roman Calendar that today, Nov. 12, is the Feast Day of St. Josaphat. Knowing that the basilica in Milwaukee is in his name but not knowing who he was my historical instincts got the best of me. It turns out that St. Josaphat (1580-1623) was a bishop of the Eastern Rite who sought unity between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

St. Martin, Bishop of Tours

Born into a pagan family in what is now Hungary around the year A.D. 316, Martin grew up in Lombardy (Italy). Coming to the Christian faith as a young person, he began a career in the Roman army. But sensing a call to a church vocation, Martin left the military and became a monk, affirming that he was "Christ's soldier." Eventually, Martin was named bishop of Tours in western Gaul (France). He is remembered for his simple lifestyle and his determination to share the Gospel throughout rural Gaul. Incidentally, on Saint Martin's Day in 1483 the one-day-old son of Hans and Margarette Luther was baptized and given the name "Martin." [From "Commemorations Biographies," Lutheran Service Book, LCMS Commission on Worship]

Martin was a disciple of Hilary of Poitiers. He died in 397.

Summer Read

Before I forget, this last summer was non-stop (and so not very relaxing). However, I was able to read an apocalyptic novel called "Father Elijah" by Michael D. O'Brien (597 pages). The book is written within the context of the Catholic Church, the Vatican and travels through many countries. There is suspense and intrigue, insights into modern society, and the state of the Church and how life is for the faithful in the last days. Finally, there is interwoven the reality and reliance on divine revelation (Scripture), the Sacrament, prayer all toward faith in Christ.

Don't let the size of the book scare you away!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Two wills of one Lord

". . . but his human will was lifted up by the omnipotency of his divinity, and his divine will was revealed to men through his humanity. Therefore it is necessary to refer to him as God such things as are divine, and as man such things as are human; and each must be truly recognized through the hypostatic union of the one and the same our Lord Jesus Christ . . ."

- from the letter of Pope Agatho, Pope of Old Rome, addressed to the Sixth Ecumenical Council (Constantinople, A.D. 680-1) (NPNF II 14:334)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Fr. Fenton and the Liturgy

Fr. John Fenton recently resigned as a LCMS pastor in order to join the Orthodox Church. His statement of resignation of October 29, 2006 is available at his blog: I encourage you to read it and, after digesting the ramifications of his resignation from the Lutheran pastoral ministry and his congregation, ponder his theological reasoning.

There are difficulties, loss and sadness involved in his departure, especially for his former congregation in Detroit. Fr. Fenton has also had a great influence beyond the congregation especially in the area of liturgics. Many pastors, seminarians, undergrads and laity have benefited from the St. Michael Liturgical Conference, his speaking engagements, articles in print and discussion of the liturgy on various e-mail lists. He will be missed.

It may be argued convincingly by Lutherans that he has abandoned Lutheranism. Nevertheless his contribution toward our understanding and appreciation of the liturgy remain. It is harder to argue that he has abandoned the Faith. God grant His healing and blessed guidance to those who rebuild and to John and his family in all that lies ahead.

Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine, secundum verbum tuum in pace:
Quia viderunt oculi mei salutare tuum
Quod parasti ante faciem omnium populorum:
Lumen ad revelationem gentium, et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.