quod pro nobis traditum est

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

St. Michael the Archangel

Stetit Angelus juxta aram templi, habens thuríbulum áureum in manu sua:
et data sunt ei incénsa multa et ascéndit fumus aromátum in conspéctu Dei.

An Angel stood near the altar of the temple, having a golden censer in his hand:
and there was given to him much incense and the smoke of the perfumes ascended before God.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

St. Linus, Pope and Martyr

On the traditional calendar, today is the feast of St. Linus, Pope and Martyr (d. ca. 76). He is considered to be the first Bishop of Rome after Peter by the Apostolic Constitutions and early fathers such as Irenaeus, Jerome and John Chrysostom and the historian, Eusebius. Others contest this saying that Clement was the first to follow the Apostle. Historically speaking, this is a fascinating question. The witnesses here in support of Linus carry weight.

There is little or no difficulty with Apostolic Succession. This is understood in my tradition and confession as succession of the "apostolic doctrine," which I wholeheartedly support. Still, it is not possible to have succession in teaching without succession in office and succession of holy men called to fill the office. Therefore, the burden of proof, in my mind, lies more with those who have rejected the vast majority of Christianity on this particular teaching and practice. In my tradition it is rationalized away, like so many other things, as adiaphora or de-constructed. We ought not just hear the Gospel but also have those men who are sent to preach to us. There is clear Scriptural example.

Gregem tuum, Pastor aetérne, placátus inténde . . .

"Look forgivingly on Thy flock, Eternal Shepherd, and keep it in Thy constant protection . . ." (Collect of Si díligis me . . .)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Some analysis of the Pope's Visit so far


let the clouds rain

I always appreciate when the weather and the liturgy cooperate with each other. Last night and this morning there were thunder showers. Then at this morning's Mass: "Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just . . ." (Introit, Is. 12)

Rorate, coeli, désuper, et nubes plurant justum . . .

Friday, September 17, 2010

A homily on good works

The following is a homily on good works by a Lutheran pastor:

Pentecost 16 Luke 14:1-11

1 et factum est cum intraret in domum cuiusdam principis Pharisaeorum sabbato manducare panem et ipsi observabant eum 2 et ecce homo quidam hydropicus erat ante illum 3 et respondens Iesus dixit ad legis peritos et Pharisaeos dicens si licet sabbato curare 4 at illi tacuerunt ipse vero adprehensum sanavit eum ac dimisit 5 et respondens ad illos dixit cuius vestrum asinus aut bos in puteum cadet et non continuo extrahet illum die sabbati 6 et non poterant ad haec respondere illi 7 dicebat autem et ad invitatos parabolam intendens quomodo primos accubitus eligerent dicens ad illos 8 cum invitatus fueris ad nuptias non discumbas in primo loco ne forte honoratior te sit invitatus ab eo 9 et veniens is qui te et illum vocavit dicat tibi da huic locum et tunc incipias cum rubore novissimum locum tenere 10 sed cum vocatus fueris vade recumbe in novissimo loco ut cum venerit qui te invitavit dicat tibi amice ascende superius tunc erit tibi gloria coram simul discumbentibus 11 quia omnis qui se exaltat humiliabitur et qui se humiliat exaltabitur

In the name of the Father and of the †Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

If God has blessed the Sabbath Day as He has then this Day is especially a day of good works. This day is a day of rest, following in the pattern of God’s own rest from the work of Creation. We also see this day as a day of the New Creation, the 8th Day, following Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead. So there is rest from our labors and new life that comes from being in Christ. When Mary is called blessed among women it is because through her womb God bears the good works of salvation in His Son. Sinful man and creation cannot bear good works. There is no rest for sinful man or hope of new life. Then, where sin by Adam and Eve corrupted that creation which was called “good” by God, He returned to bless man and all of creation through the birth of the Second Adam by the Blessed Virgin and His good works of fulfilling the Law, suffering and dying for all sin, rising and ascending into heaven. When the Church celebrates the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary it is not just for her sake it is to remember God’s power in that which is humble. Does not the birth of Mary magnify the birth of Her Son? So the Apostle, who once persecuted the Church, now writes in confidence to the Church at Ephesus that he bows His knees to the Father. He writes, “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” These are lofty words but they show, like the words of the Magnificat of Mary, that God can and does work His powerful good work in Mary, in His Church, in us – in Christ. Through Christ we come back around to what it means to have rest in God, to believe in the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting, a world without end.

The Pharisees also believe in the Creation and in the Sabbath rest. They are very careful to not break the Third Commandment. It is not that they do not know the Law, it is that they have forgotten that the Law is good. This is God’s Word to His covenant people. The Law is for their good. So while God blessed the sabbath, they forbid good to be done on the sabbath (Theophyl.)

Jesus eats bread with them at the house of one of the chief Pharisees. As the Evangelist records, “They watched Him.” Although He is invited to table He is not really welcome. Jesus knows their thoughts so when the man with dropsy appears before Him He takes the opportunity to probe them with the question, “Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?” Healing is a work, a good work. Yet since it is a work, does it not mean that doing it on the day of rest is breaking the Law? They cannot respond. On the sabbath day would they not save an ass or ox that has fallen into the pit? They are speechless. We may draw parallels today to those who may place such value on plants and animals, and the earth itself, to save them while human life is devalued to the point that taking the life of the unborn becomes simply nothing more than a choice. Would they save the ass or ox who has fallen into the pit and not allow for healing of the man with dropsy? Sin is speechless before the holy God.

In the face of their silence Jesus tells a parable. He noticed that they chose the better place. What if someone more honorable comes to the wedding. They will have to move to a lower place, even the lowest place. When invited, take the lowest place. You may be invited to the higher room. Rather than being put to shame you will receive more honor. “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Jesus heals the man with dropsy that the good work of God’s mercy may be shown to those who have the best places and yet have forgotten their place before God. They look down on the man with dropsy yet they would save their animals fallen in a pit. He who they look down on is healed and they are put to shame. The Law is not given to make others sacrifice but that all may know the mercy of God. We are not invited here to false humility for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The Pharisees and lawyers have their vocation yet they have lost sight of Him who gave them what they have. Their vocations have become a means to better themselves over others rather than opportunities to recognize the mercy of God and to work while it is day. The Lord who created them and the man who had dropsy desires mercy. This is the same Lord who gave them the Law. He is the same Lord who will offer Himself up as the sacrifice for their sin and the sin of all on the cross. Here is the ultimate good work of mercy and healing. He, born the Son of God, is knocked down in shame and crucified amongst thieves. Yet by being lifted up on the cross He draws all men to Himself. At the cross the Father’s mercy conquers the pride of sin. At the resurrection, He who has descended to the lowest place, is raised in glory. He eventually ascends to the highest places where He has prepared the best places for you and me and all who call upon His name for mercy.

Our Father’s mercy first given us in Holy Baptism is there for us in His invitation to the Holy Supper. The Apostle Paul’s words to the church at Ephesus may be applied to this Sacrament as I applied them earlier to the mystery of the Incarnate birth of Jesus by the blessed Mother of God. Through this Sacrament, we who are weak and sinful, become those who also have Christ dwell in our hearts. Here He works His powerful good work in us so that we, as Paul says, “may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.” Only if Jesus goes before us guiding us on the right path and only if He follows us, forgiving us our sins, are we able to be intent on good works. These are works that He has prepared in advance for us to do. These are works that will follow us after we die. These are works that are rooted in Christ and His mercy. Christ makes our works “good.” He who sanctifies us, is He who creates what is good and redeems what is destroyed by sin. We are poor and needy. Like Paul, we bow our knees to the Father and cry in repentance, “Have mercy on me, O Lord.” By His Body and Blood we are given forgiveness and given the foretaste of the feast to come. This blessed Sacrament is the God-given feast of the one Church, here on earth and there in glory. In the words of the Psalmist,
102: 16 “For the Lord shall build up Zion;
He shall appear in His glory.
17 He shall regard the prayer of the destitute,
And shall not despise their prayer.

This same Lord invites you to the altar saying, “Come unto Me all You who are weary, and I will give you rest.” He never rests from His good work of keeping the Sabbath Day holy with the holy Eucharist, that you “may be filled with the fullness of God” and abound in His good and merciful work of working good works in you, that others may see them and glorify your Father in heaven. Amen.

In the name of the Father and of the †Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Isidore's Laptop

It dawned on me that one of the reasons that St. Isidore was chosen as the patron saint of the internet might be his laptop. It appears to hold many giga- or terra-bytes.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pope visits England and Scotland

Pope Benedict XVI will visit England and Scotland September 16-19. This is not news, the visit has been all over the Christian, religious and secular internet for a while. During the visit the pope will beatify the 19th c. Cardinal John Henry Newman. Apart from Newman's life and conversion, one only needs to read a little of Newman's writings to know why.

Below are some recent articles worth reading online about the the pope's visit:

"There is a tremendous hypocrisy about all this anti-Catholic feeling."

Read more here.

HT: New Advent

"For Benedict, Newman represents a model in that he fought against the same moral relativism — the idea that all religions are the same and that there's no objective truth — that Benedict has denounced during his papacy."

Read more here.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Liturgy and Eucharist - A "Conservative" Lutheran Conundrum

[Disclaimer: The primaries are approaching but the post title and this post have nothing to do with current secular political issues.]

It is not surprising to hear "conservative" Lutheran pastors defend the liturgy. The use of hymnals, the services contained therein and hymnody are supported against efforts to make the liturgy something minimal or make it entertaining.

An eye opener for me these days is to hear that this same "conservative" thinking does not see a connection between the liturgy and the holy Eucharist. In other words, let us keep the hymnals, the hymns and the orders of service but it is not necessary to offer the Eucharist. Some, it seems, would even rather not offer it.

Now it is probably best that the Eucharist not be offered if it is not done reverently and following accepted historical liturgical practice. However, what concerns me in this thinking, which was a surprise to me when I first heard it, is the idea that the liturgy might really not have anything or little to do with the Eucharist.

We need not rehearse 2,000 years of Christian history, nor, for Lutherans, the Scriptures and the Confessions, let alone the Lord's institution. We must be living in a vacuum of some sort that such thinking exists among clergy. At least three factors have me concerned. First, this talk is heard among the clergy. Second, these clergy consider themselves "conservative" Lutherans. Finally, the very possibility that the liturgy might have anything to do with the Eucharist seems not even to be a consideration by some. Is the Eucharist merely an appendage that we add on random occasions?

If a study of Scripture and/or the Lutheran Confessions cannot help the clergy then I am not one who can be of much help. Also, there are numerous volumes written on this topic, as if the liturgy itself cannot be of assistance. Let me simply make two observations. First, it appears that this thinking is also connected to the lack of making a connection between the liturgy and factors such as reverence and holiness. Second, if this is what it means to be "conservative" Lutheran, supporting the separation of the Eucharist from the liturgy, then don't call me a "conservative."

Perseverance, or 3 bad centuries

This is an interesting article on Catholics
in England following the Reformation.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Reflections on 9/11

Excerpts from a homily, September 16, 2001 Luke 3:1-5

All of us are affected by the great disaster that has befallen this great nation . . . We are a people of many cultures, races and ethnic groups. We are a people of many different religions . . .

. . .

We too look forward to that glorious Day when there will be no more suffering, no more hatred, no more tears. God has promised that Day to us . . . We have been clothed with Christ and His righteousness. This message of the cross is certain hope. The Savior has conquered our enemies of sin and the devil once and for all. He has conquered the last enemy, death itself, with His glorious resurrection . . . Therefore we await the resurrection of the flesh and the certainty of eternal life in the promised land.

While we await the promised peace and glory what do we make of such suffering and death? Why does almighty God permit such things to happen to people – even those who believe in His Son? It is not our merciful God who brings these things upon us . . . Such terrible things remind us of our own weakness and how we are in desperate need of the One who created us and saved us from ourselves, our sin and eternal punishment. It is not that others are worse sinners than we are. Pilate mixed the blood of the Galileans with their sacrifices. The tower in Siloam fell and killed eighteen. Jesus died on the cross
. . .

Why does God permit such suffering and death to fall upon His only Son? Here we see that God is really a God of mercy. His love is so great that He will not allow anything to come between Him and us, including disasters and war. Through Christ He has made us His own . . . He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? . . . Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning . . . (Lam. 3)

Clothed with salvation

I will also clothe her priests with salvation,
And her saints shall shout aloud for joy.
There I will make the horn of David grow;
I will prepare a lamp for My Anointed.
- Psalm 132:16, 17

God bless the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church and Rev. Matthew C. Harrison, the new president of the Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod, as he follows in the light of the Lord's Anointed, leading Lutherans in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

The catholic problem of a-historical theology

Here is a book review/article that addresses a-historical theology and its collapse, especially with reference to "progressive" change within the Catholic Church coming out of Vatican II.

The article addresses issues not unrelated to confusion about the Holy Ministry that exist to this day also among non-Catholics (ie, the dated "everyone a minister.")

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Collect -
Famulis tuis, quaesumus, Dómine, coeléstis grátiae munus impertíre: ut, quibus beátae Vírginis partus éxstitit salútis exórdium; Navitátis ejus votíva solémnitas, pacis tríbuat increméntum. Per Dóminum nostrum . . .

Bestow upon Thy servants, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the gift of Thy heavenly grace: that as the childbearing of the Blessed Virgin who was the beginning of our salvation, so the solemn feast of her Nativity may bring us an increase of peace. Through our Lord . . .

Friday, September 03, 2010

More news from England

See article here. Dealing with "sin" is not even considered. We're back to the slippery slope.

The Mind is a Wonderful Creation

I keep coming back to the news article about the English physicist, Stephen Hawking, and his new book with his idea that God is not needed in the creation of the universe. Obviously, this man is very intelligent so any response I can humbly make to his thought here as a non-scientist is simply simple thoughts.

Hawking writes, "Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist."

Apart from his doubt that God has something to do with creation, I appreciate Hawking's observations that creation occurs "from nothing." Also, I like the descriptive "spontaneous creation." There is something to work with here.

The article also shares a quote from Hawking's earlier book, "If we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason -- for then we should know the mind of God."

Now, I am the doubter. I do not believe a "complete theory" is possible using human reason. I digress to add that divine revelation helps us to know in part the mind of God, even enough to learn of man's salvation.

I do not doubt Hawking's intellectual capacity. Undoubtedly, it is beyond my comprehension. Still, I think, with his scientific conclusions, that he is making a religious statement.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

On bumper stickers

Last summer when my family and I were on vacation a van passed us. This particular van had bumper stickers plastered all over the back end, bumper, doors and windows. It was quite noticeable.

When you are driving on an interstate somewhere in between the midwest and the rocky mountain west you need this type of van to drive by. Your eyes light up and you are illuminated by the wisdom shared that may or may not make sense. This helps in a few ways. The colorful plastering of stickers stands out noticeably against the plains and the pavement. Secondly, there is just enough wisdom and foolishness summarized in pithy phrases for you to think on and help you make it a few miles longer. And thirdly, the fact that someone did this to their own vehicle also helps wake another driver from slumber. So, in one sense, this type of van has the same effect on a driver as a good cup of coffee.

It is ironic that a van of this sort passed us by since, earlier in the vacation, we visited a store in Durango, Colorado, with bumper stickers all over the wall (for sale, of course). This scene of a wall full of bumper stickers was just enough for us to take out our camera and take a picture. Some of the bumper stickers reflected well the philosophy of the locals. (Although I have lived in the midwest for most of the last thirty years, I confess to being a native of Colorado.)

How can a blog that comments on matters of church and liturgy digress in such a fashion? In brief, because of bumper stickers and specifically, because of two bumper stickers which I see on a regular basis on this side of town (maybe they are all over town): "Coexist," a plea for religious tolerance and "Who would Jesus bomb?" or its variant "What would Jesus bomb?"

Apart from the question of whether or not one puts a bumper sticker on their car, or whether or not the message is worth repeating, bumper stickers do have the advantage of getting people's attention. These two bumper stickers have my attention. Also, they are not too far removed from the subject matter of this blog. Both, in their own way, address religious questions.

The "coexist" bumper sticker has many variants but mainly it provides symbols of many of the major religions using the shapes of the letters. Some variants may use the "e" to symbolize science or as a symbol of gender. Whatever the variant renderings the message is clear. All of these religions and or "-isms" are equal and we all need to get along.

The second bumper sticker is a different take on the evangelical bumper sticker of a few years ago, "What would Jesus do?" Now it is rendered as "Who would Jesus bomb?" or "What would Jesus bomb?" Here is a clear anti-war message with attendant anti-religious and specifically, anti-Christian, sentiment. While no one in the United States questions someone's right to promote peace, this bumper sticker takes it a step further.

I was not taken in by the "What would Jesus do?" craze of a few years ago. It is not a fitting summary of divine revelation. Nor, in my opinion, does Jesus belong on someone's bumper. The new message on the second bumper sticker puts all the onus of war on Jesus. While it argues for peace, much like the first bumper sticker, it fails on the question of religious co-existence for war is clearly associated with Jesus and not Mohammed, Buddha, Moses, Confucius or any other religious figure. So this bumper sticker is "tolerant" yet not tolerant at the same time. It pushes for peace but clearly at the expense of Jesus' name. One may assume that it is Jesus' fault that we at war in Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere.

There is the whole question of Church and State. Naturally, my concern here is more religious or spiritual. There is a time for war and a time for peace. However, Jesus' message of peace has to do with a kingdom not of this world. Therefore, He clearly does not fit into the message of this bumper sticker. Yet, maybe in a way He does. Earlier I mentioned that the bumper sticker places the onus of war on Jesus. War has existed as long as sin. Jesus took upon Himself the onus of the world's sin to His death on the cross. At the foot of the cross the enemy's head was crushed. Through Christ there is peace with God.

One is free to agree and disagree with the messages of bumper stickers. That is part of their appeal. It is not necessary for religions to be equal for people to live together in peace. If we all believed in every religion we would all believe in nothing, for truth would not be allowed. Neither does disagreement always equate with war. With religious freedom people live peaceably with neighbors who believe in different religions. I clearly disagree with the message of these bumper stickers. Yet I have one good thing to say about them. They help keep drivers awake, much like a good cup of coffee.