I found this rather interesting, Pastor Weedon is one of the Lutherans I listen closely to. Yes, there are others. This is a series of videos that we will share with you. I am Lutheran, and even for me as an ELCA Lutheran, it highlights the differences. In any case, I think you will see parallels and differences with your church, whichever one it may be. My guess? The LCMS is probably closest to the Anglo-Catholics, as one of the original Protestant Churches.
My dear friend Kathleen and I had a short discussion the other night on her blog, Catholicism Pure & Simple. It was as such things are both productive and friendly. One of the things we touched on was whether it is appropriate for a specifically Catholic or even a Christian blog to touch on things like Brexit and President Trump.
It becomes almost impossible to shirk the debate when our governments intrude on religious beliefs and practices, such as marriage, abortion, freedom of worship and practice.
And so while CP&S has touched on these matters, I seem lately to write of little else, my self imposed remit is political with an American, and Lutheran foundation. That is part of why I’m rarely writing here lately, while congruent if feels just a bit unseemly, and a fair number of you read my blog as well. And there is no point in dragging my friends into the line of fire to no purpose, and that is pretty easy, as our friend Caroline Farrow‘s current problems with the British legal system indicate.
In any case, imagine my surprise as I’m looking around this morning to seeing Dr. Gene Veith of the Cranach blog working on exactly what Kathleen and I were discussing. He excerpted an article by British author Will Jones entitled: Progressives vs conservatives: This is why we can’t just all get along. British, American, British, American, British, Catholic, Lutheran, who says our problems are different. In any case here’s Gene, with Dr. Veith in bold:
. . .The divide [is] between those who believe the world has a given order that ought to be respected because it makes things go best in the long run, and those who do not believe this and think invoking such order is little more than a tool of oppression wielded by the powerful against those they exploit.
The social order, says Jones, expresses itself in institutions such as the family and the nation-state, along with the ideas and practices that support them, such as sexual morality and the rule of law. Conservatives support them–with religious conservatives seeing them as facets of God’s creation–while progressives find them oppressive.
This conservative respect for natural and social order contrasts sharply with the progressive outlook which is typically hostile to claims of inherent order in nature and society. Progressives tend to follow Marx in regarding such ideas as devices created by the powerful (in Marx’s case, the owners of capital, these days, more likely straight white men) to perpetuate inequalities and restrict people’s freedom of action.
Progressives and conservatives both say they want people to be happy, but they understand very differently what this involves. Whereas conservatives see happiness as emerging from respect for the natural and social order, for progressives almost the opposite is the case: the individual’s pursuit of happiness must as far as possible be achieved by not conforming to the social order. This is because to do so is to become complicit in oppression and to succumb to the ‘false consciousness’ of being happy when enslaved. . . .
Conservatives and progressives differ also in their visions of freedom. Conservatives seek the freedom that comes from respecting the boundaries inherent in the created order. Progressives, on the other hand, aim for freedom from the created order – from biology, from the family, from the nation, from God. As a consequence, progressive freedom has a strong authoritarian bent. This might seem paradoxical, but in fact it follows directly from the progressives’ need to oppose by force the outworking of the order of nature, and to silence those who attempt to point out the problems with this.
So how does Christianity fit with this?
Yes, Christians do believe that God has ordained the family. The “nation-state” is a relatively modern invention, unknown in the Middle Ages, classical antiquity, and tribal societies, but the “state” as some sort of social organization with earthly authorities that restrain evil and protect the good is indeed one of the God-given “estates” for human flourishing (Romans 13; 1 Peter 2:13-14). Also, Christians believe that moral truths are part of a reality built into creation and human nature (Romans 1-2). So by these definitions, Christians will tend to be conservative.
No one will be surprised that I heartily concur with them both, and with Kathleen as well. Here is part of one of my comments to her, which sums up my view pretty well.
As a Lutheran, I would point out that the Kingdom of the Left Hand (secular government) is also of God, although not as directly as the Kingdom of the Right hand. And so our governments on earth are also of concern to us. But while I straddle that fence, you, here, are more focussed. And, in truth, I don’t write much on the other blog for that reason as well, since I find my well pretty dry lately on church topics.
And Dr. Veith ends with this, which is certainly appropriate for us to discuss as well.
[…] The Christian’s hope is fixed not so much on this world, which will soon pass away, but on the world to come–on Christ who has atoned for the sins of the world and who will reign as King over the New Heaven and the New Earth.
Is this right? Am I missing something? How does this accord with Two Kingdoms theology?
I do think Jones’s analysis explains a lot, from our current political polarization to the behavior of people that we know. But does it follow that such extreme polarization is inevitable, that there can be no common basis for consensus and social unity? Is it impossible, in these terms, to have a “center”? How did we as a nation function in years past? Were there different ideologies at work? If so, might we bring some of those back?
Perhaps it is time for me to say something about the scandal rocking the Catholic church. Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread, I suspect. My perspective is different, being a conservative, liturgical Protestant, a Lutheran, as it were.
First, a few caveats:
- We have only a report from a grand jury, in one state, Pennsylvania. We do not have indictments, let alone convictions. Will they come? That remains to be seen. But there is enough smoke here for all the wildfires in California. Surely the other states, and yes, Europe as well should be looking into this. But it is not yet time to build the gallows.
- However bad it may be, and it appears to be bad, indeed, it remains a small share of the clergy. Do not condemn with a 12″ roller when a trim brush is wide enough.
- But to condemn and punish is not enough, why did this happen, and mind, this is not the first sex scandal in the Church. How to avoid it in the future is the key thing here. In a sense, the past really is prologue.
As I said above, I’m a Lutheran, one of the causes that led Luther to start the Reformation was the sexual conduct of priests in Rome. So it would be easy for me to say, more of the same. That’s a poor attitude, much as it’s a common one these days.
But Rome is the root of Christianity in the west, whether one is Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Baptist, or whatever else. That is where we all started, and but for the Grace of God, it could be (and sometimes has been) any of our churches.
Anybody remember Jimmy Swaggart? Yeah, didn’t do Christianity a lot of good, did he? How about Rev. Tom Bird, a Kansas Lutheran pastor who killed his wife when she became inconvenient to his affair with the church secretary. There are others, big and small. We are all fallen sinners, we can only try. And that’s why we need to weed out these things. And both of those examples, and others, were, they went to prison, as they should.
Matt Walsh, a Catholic, and a columnist for The Daily Wire said with characteristic bluntness…
The Catholic Church in the West is beset by a plague. An infection. A virus that must be rooted out and utterly destroyed. There must be a purge in the Church. And the purge must be ruthless and brutal and uncompromising.
Indeed so, and it must include the hierarchy that covered up the instances. In the examples above, there was little to no cover-up, and no lasting damage was done. As so often, it’s not the crime but the coverup.
Homosexuals have committed over 80 percent of the abuse in the Catholic Church. That is an empirical fact and it is not really up for debate. https://t.co/avWSYFdV7y
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) August 15, 2018
He has a point, I suspect. Kim Hirsch, an LCMS Lutheran writes on Victory Girls Blog,
Many years ago, I read a book entitled, Goodbye, Good Men. Written in 2002 by Michael Rose, a Catholic reporter, it tells how these scandals come from the seminary, where liberals in the church have allowed homosexuality in the name of “tolerance.” There is also prejudice, he maintains, against traditional seminaries.
Here’s what Rose said in an interview with a Catholic publication in 2002:
In bringing the “sexual revolution” into the Church, liberals have welcomed—even preferred—radicalized active homosexuals to orthodox seminarians in the name of “tolerance.” Now that tolerance has been exposed as a toleration of criminal acts.
Mind you, this book is now 16 years old, and we’re seeing yet again another sexual scandal. The crisis will not go away.
Maybe, one of the underlying problems, since this is predominately a Catholic problem, is the celibate priesthood itself, combined with clericalism, of course.
Father Richard McBrien, who was a professor of theology at Notre Dame, believed the church should drop the celibacy requirement for priests. In 2004, he wrote why it’s a problem:
But that requirement of the priesthood will attract a disproportionately high percentage of men who are sexually dysfunctional, sexually immature, or whose orientation will raise the question – are they attracted to the priesthood because of the ministry, or because it is a profession that forbids one to be married?
And there is something else, most of these are young men, and do any of us really think young men do not run on hormones, and those drawn to leadership, more than most?
I don’t know, and as the saying goes, not my church, but some thoughts for you Catholics to mull over, which is my main purpose here. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, but do think why this is so much a specific problem in your church. Part of it is a powerful, traditional hierarchy, as well, I suspect, but the CofE has that as well. It appears to be a distinctive of, and a distinctive problem for, the Catholic Church.
And pray, of course, as we will be praying for your Church as well as our own.
Several things caught my eye in Philip’s excellent article the other day. I hate writing posts in commboxes (although I do it far too often), so I thought I would discuss it here.
The first comes from the Catholic Herald, always a good source of information.
[O]n 8 April, I made the 2.5-hour drive to the National Shrine of Divine Mercy Shrine in Stockbridge, Massachusetts for Divine Mercy Sunday. And how could I not? Judging by the licence plates in the parking lots, pilgrims travelled from every corner of the United States. According to the programme, many more flew over from Europe. I practically live down the street.
It was a deeply moving occasion, despite Mother Nature’s lack of cooperation: it was finger-numbingly cold, with snow flurries dropping in and out. Yet 15,000 pilgrims descended on the little mountain town, bundled in parkas and blankets. Some charitable souls drifted through the crowd passing out hand warmers.
Aside from the official proceedings, what struck me most was the demographic make-up. There were Hispanics, Filipinos, Africans, and Chinese – but hardly a Caucasian in sight. That’s grossly unrepresentative of the national Catholic population: 59 per cent are white, 34 percent are Hispanic, 3 per cent are Asian, and 3 per cent are black.
Of course, this has nothing to do with race and everything to do with trends in migration. Immigrants, whatever their faith tradition, tend to be more devout than their native-born counterparts. This is true even in countries like Sweden, where predominantly-white immigrants from Poland are contributing to a boom in the Catholic population.
But are these new Catholics a permanent feature of American and Western European countries? That seems doubtful. A new Gallup polldemonstrates that the rate at which Catholics attend Mass continues to fall since 1955, from 75 per cent to 39 per cent. This, despite the fact that the nominal Catholic population has grown considerably thanks to mass immigration from South America. Meanwhile, attendance at Protestant services has remained fairly stable.
The lack of Protestant immigration actually gives them an advantage with this metric. The children or grandchildren of immigrants who stop practising the faith are more likely to identify – if only nominally – with their family’s religion. Because Catholic immigration is so high, there are many “cultural” or “lapsed” Catholics: those who identify with the Faith, but don’t attend Mass. Meanwhile, Protestants who have “un-churched” are more likely to identify as irreligious.
True enough, out here the Catholic Church is made up of probably close to a majority of Hispanics, of all ages, and who are treated quite badly by the established Anglo congregations, to the point of nearly two churches in one building. A good many of the Anglos strike me as mostly CINO’s (Catholics in name only). Given it is Hispanic immigration, I don’t see it as much in the Protestant churches but suspect it is mostly a lack of Hispanics not a difference in attitude.
The funny part is, Islam also has this problem, they too are losing the immigrants’ children.
Here, again, Pew’s study of Islam in America is enlightening. Nine per cent of ex-Muslims converted to a different faith, and one per cent said they were actively searching for a spiritual path. That means only 10 per cent remain open to engaging with organised religion. The other 90 effectively become secular or “spiritual-not-religious”, which usually amounts to the same thing.
Apparently, it is something in the air in America. part of it, of course, is the churches themselves, I’m not a particularly regular attendee myself. My local church is good on liberal platitudes, on real (what some call, muscular) Christianity, not so much. Other choices such as LCMS are quite inconvenient for me, perhaps it will solve itself, or God will show me a way, but for now, that’s how it is.
In a Federalist article, Mathew Cochrane notes that one of the weaknesses of our churches is that we are driving away men. He quotes Ross Douthat’s “God and Men and Jordan Peterson” New York Times column to good effect.
The men fled; the women stayed.
That’s the story of Easter weekend in the New Testament. Most of Jesus’ male disciples vanished when the trouble started, leaving his mother and Mary Magdalene and other women to watch by the cross, prepare his body for his burial, and then (with the men still basically in hiding) find the empty tomb.
Male absence and female energy has also been the story, albeit less starkly and dramatically, of Christian practice in many times and places since.
Except that is not true, all concerned missed the real story, didn’t they? How many times had Jesus told them he would rise from the dead? None of them, not a single one, believed Him – they went to the tomb to properly prepare his corpse and were gently chided by the Angel:
“Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise” (Luke 24:5-7).
There is also this,
As one blogger quickly pointed out, two key issues with Douthat’s presentation of the story highlight a disregard for men. First is the enormous factual error: Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, both men, were actually the ones to prepare and bury Jesus’ body (John 19:38-42) while the women watched (Luke 23:55-56) and returned with additional spices several days later. Unlike Douthat, Mark the Evangelist is quite right to observe that Joseph “took courage” before going to the guy who just had Jesus executed and asking him for the corpse (Mark 15:43).
Yep, that’s how you are going to attract men, NOT.
We’re coming up on the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation, and like the author of this article, I have many Catholic friends (here and elsewhere). What do I want them to know? In this article from The Federalist, Anna Mussmann does a pretty good job of explaining.
[…]In their eyes, our admiration for Martin Luther is as misguided as holding a big party in honor of one’s divorce. They argue the Reformation ushered in a world where each individual’s personal taste in interpretation became supreme, leading to the moral chaos and postmodernism that riddles the cultural landscape today. At best, they see Protestants as limping along without the spiritual blessings God bestows through their church yet, like anorexics, rejoicing in this near-starvation.
I readily concede that the Reformation brought costs as well as benefits. Yet as a Lutheran, I am profoundly grateful for the sixteenth-century return to Scripture that reminded us of Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, and Solus Christus. I deeply appreciate the Lutheran determination, demonstrated in the “Book of Concord, “to find and cling to biblical truth. That is why I want my Catholic friends to know three things about the event I will be celebrating on October 31.
1. It’s Not about Individualism
Secular historians, like secular journalists writing about Pope Francis, often misunderstand religion. Mainstream history textbooks portray Luther as someone who struck a blow for the individual by rejecting the authority of people who wanted to tell others what to believe. As long as these historians don’t peruse his actual writing, they see Luther as a pretty progressive guy by the standards of 1517. My Catholic friends read this stuff and, quite naturally, pick up the idea that Luther’s teachings led to hyper-individualism.
Yet Luther’s actual theological legacy is not conducive to extreme individualism. He intended to participate in a conversation about reforming errors that were harming the Catholic Church. That is because he wanted to point out where individuals were going wrong by failing to submit themselves to the authority of scripture. […]
It’s true, we are just about as hidebound to what Christians have always believed everywhere as the most traditional Catholic. We don’t do novelty (well some of us do). The Rev Dr Luther was essentially what we would call today a whistleblower. I too have taken Catholic friends to church with me, and especially in the LCMS, they are surprised, if anything we are more liturgical than many Catholic parishes. What Old Luther tried to do was to go back to our roots, in the early church. To be sure there are places we disagree.
The Lutheran Reformation was not about making up new traditions from scratch, but about identifying the parts of the historic liturgy that convey the gospel well. One reason it’s so much fun to talk about philosophy and literature with my Catholic friends is that we share a rich sense of history and see ourselves as taking part in a conversation that has been going on for centuries.
However, we Lutherans disagree with Catholics in a highly significant area. They say church tradition is as reliable a guide as scripture, and that one can safely construct theological dogmas on promises and statements that aren’t found in scripture. Thus they accept concepts like the bodily assumption of Mary as doctrine even though the Bible says nothing on that subject.
Now, Lutherans respect church tradition. The Lutheran reformers frequently referenced the writings of the early church fathers. We, too, are grateful for the history that ties us to the church universal throughout time, and we, too, commemorate the faithful saints who have gone before us (although we don’t ask anyone dead to pray for us—the Bible offers no promise that we will be heard that way).
There is considerably more. Do follow the link above.
I do note that Luther believed in the bodily assumption, but it was something that he took on faith, because, well it isn’t mentioned in scripture. We do, some of us anyway, following Luther’s practice, venerate Our Lady, though.
One of the main points that I always make though is that (so does Anna) without Luther, there is no Trent. He was causal in the reform that the Catholic Church needed badly.
In truth, many Lutherans do as she said, refer to our Reformation as a conservative one, in keeping with the traditional definition, keeping the good and reforming the bad. Some of those that followed had different goals, such as being as not-Catholic as they could be. We (and perhaps the Anglo-Catholics) sit firmly in the middle, Catholic but not Roman, Evangelical but traditional.
Occasionally it’s an uncomfortable spot, as we have neither the Pope nor do we get to make it up as we go. For me, it’s the right spot, as it is for many of us.
Time for me to post something here, I reckon, and I think might do. The other day a document called “Correctio filialis de haeresibus propagatis“ (if your Latin is as bad as mine that translates as “A filial correction concerning the propagation of heresies”) was served on the Pope. What that document does is accuse him of teaching seven heresies. Not the kind of stuff that usually happens in the Catholic Church. In fact, the last time it happened was in 1333 to Pope John XXII. He later recanted his errors. I can’t really say that I see Francis doing that. I’m rather glad I’m not the recipient of that 25-page letter though.
Gene Veith over at Cranach spells out some of it, no doubt some of you know more than I do. He talks about the charges (for lack of a better description) and there is a link to the English translation of the document, I’ve only read the summary, so far. It’s copyrighted so I can’t give you much, but it concerns mostly this, “It lists the passages of Amoris laetitia in which heretical positions are insinuated or encouraged, and then it lists words, deeds, and omissions of Pope Francis which make it clear beyond reasonable doubt that he wishes Catholics to interpret these passages in a way that is, in fact, heretical.”
[Emphasis in the original]
Lots of this has to do, I gather, with giving communion to the divorced and remarried, and beyond that I’m not prepared to go. We’ve discussed this at great length. Search for COMMUNION FOR THE REMARRIED in the search box above if you don’t already know what most of us think. It always leads to much heat and some hurt feelings, so let’s not overly rehash it still again.
The one count that Dr. Veith and I both found a bit amusing is that they are accusing him of being Lutheran, or at least under Luther’s influence. Part of the reason I find that a bit amusing is that so few Lutherans could actually be convicted of that. Dr. Veith adds this,
I tend to have sympathy with the conservative side of theological controversies, though not on this issue. The sacrament is given specifically to sinners for the forgiveness of their sins (Matthew 26:28), and is not to be reserved only for those in a state of moral perfection. But that is one of the “Lutheran” teachings that Pope Francis has approximated and which the signers consider heretical.
But I still have sympathy for those who wrote and signed this letter. Conservative Catholics, almost by definition, revere and obey the papacy. To come to the conviction that the Pope is teaching heresy must be agonizing.
To believe that the Pope has violated the teachings of the Church Universal, that the papacy is not the protector of orthodoxy as has been assumed but a means of introducing innovative and problematic doctrines into the Church, can be a traumatic realization. And to take a stand on this conviction shows great integrity and courage.
The signers may consider Luther to be a heretic. But at least they know now how he felt.
Good thing it’s mostly bishops and academics signing this though. Henry VIII burned a few folks for that very thing, before he married one, of course. It was far from the longest marriage of his.
Indeed it must be a horrendous nightmare for any churchman to come to that feeling about any of his bishops, but the Pope! I don’t envy them, but I too admire them greatly. It must take great courage to put your name on that document.
They (whoever they may be) say that “May you live in interesting times” is a Chinese curse. I suspect we all understand why.
Recently Fr Alexander Lucie-smith published an article in the Catholic Herald. Fr Lucie-smith is a Catholic priest, speaking mostly to Catholics, in a Catholic publication. But his message is one for all orthodox Christians (which should be all Christians), and so it is valid for us all.
This one caught my attention, not least because I admire Rees-Mogg considerably. So let’s take a look at it.
The Church cannot become just another branch of the liberal commentariat
Amen, nor the conservative commentariat, for that matter. The Church (indeed the churches) have a higher calling.
The first reading at Mass on Sunday contained one of the more arresting images from the prophet Ezekiel: “Son of man, I have appointed you as sentry to the House of Israel. When you hear a word from my mouth, warn them in my name.”
It would be a pretty hopeless sentry who did not keep an eye out for danger, and who kept shtum when he saw something dangerous coming. We all know, because we have heard it said so many times, that the Church is supposed to have a prophetic voice, and to take a counter-cultural stand against the errors and fads of the age. And yet, because the Church is in the world, it often tends to be formed by the world, so both currents are present in the Church: the countercultural, and its opposite, the conformist. The situation today is no exception.
Depressingly, the Church today (by which I mean the leadership of the Church) often seems to speak like just another branch of the commentariat. Take the whole question of climate change. It is very hard to distinguish between the content and tone of a Church document on this matter and an article in the secular press. The discourse in both is more or less the same. This is a pity, because it is a sign that the specific nature of Church teaching has been lost, towhit, the emphasis that environmental degradation is the result of personal sin, and personal sin is always the result of the personal choice of someone, somewhere, to do something objectively.
Personally, I think there is a somewhat different message that Christianity is to bear here. Too much of what passes as environmentalism whether from the various churches or secular sources comes perilously close to simply Luddism, an inchoate longing to return to our pre-industrial past, even if doing so is by violent measures and regardless of the fact that it will inevitably cause great harm to many (especially poor) people both in our own societies and in the rest of the world as well.
I think what we are charged with in regard to the physical world is stewardship, to manage our resources to maximise the results, with the least possible damage, to gain the most for the maximum number of people, and other creatures, as well as vegetation.
Climate change is, of course, real, as it has been for five billion years, I have seen nothing convincing that we are a major driver of it, no doubt we have some influence, and we should maximise our efficiency, in the name of stewardship, if nothing else. But what many want is to return to subsistence farming (likely with wooden plows) causing widespread death by starvation around the world. This is the message many in, and out of the church are carrying, and it is a false one.
Again, with the Church’s social teaching, and its teaching about the structures of sin that create poverty and prevent those born in poverty ever leaving it – has this idea really made an impression? Or does the Church’s talk about economic matters sound rather New Labourish (that is, several decades out of date) and indistinguishable from all the other virtue-signallers who care about the poor but don’t actually do anything about the state of the poor?
Has the Church’s teaching in these two matters degenerated from a matter of right practice to a matter of saying the right thing? Do people ever confess their sins against the environment? Do they ever accuse themselves in the confessional of crimes against the poor?
I don’t really disagree with his premise here, we are doing a poor job of caring for our neighbors. But much of the problem is this. Our churches have delegated inappropriately our duty to those less well off to the state, who has no particular duty in this area. The duty of the state is to ensure justice, from malefactors in our population, and from other states as well, doing so in a just manner.
The duty falls on us as individual Christians, and on our corporate churches to provide help for those less well off. Have we often failed in this duty? Yes, we have. But it remains our duty, and it is not one we can delegate. That our churches have acquiesced in allowing the state to take over our duty is of no account, it remains our duty, but in trying (very badly) to carry out this illegitimate duty, the state has made many of us poor enough that we can no longer effectively carry out our duty, either. Thus the churches have actively hurt the poor.
The one field where the Church does well in communicating a teaching that is certainly not pleasing to the world, but which the world hears and cannot help but hearing, is in the field of bioethics. The Catholic Church is pro-life, and the whole ecclesial pro-life movement stands as testimony to that, and has had considerable success in reminding the world of the terrible sin of abortion. This was in no small part thanks to the constant and energetic teaching of Saint John Paul II and Saint Teresa of Calcutta, to name but two. Here one sees the Church fulfilling its vocation to be a sentry to the House of Israel.
To say that we should wind down the talk about the protection of all life at all stages, because this talk is somehow alienating, would be mistaken. The hostility that the pro-life discourse arouses is a pretty good providential sign that here we are doing the right thing. Well done to Jacob Rees-Mogg and the many others who take a stand that must feel sometimes like that of Elijah on Mount Carmel: “I, I alone, am left as a prophet of the LORD, while the prophets of Baal are four hundred and fifty.” (I Kings 18:22) Elijah was a lonely voice, but he was the one who spoke truth. The prophets of Baal were a bunch of stooges and frauds who ate at Jezebel’s table – a rather good image, one calls to mind so many of the false prophets of today.
This I agree with wholeheartedly. In the pro-life mission, Rees-Mogg and all the others are carrying the authentic Christian (not just Catholic) message. If we don’t agree with him, we are misinterpreting what it means to be a Christian. This has been at the core of Christianity, in all times and all places, and everybody else marveled that Christians didn’t leave unwanted babies to die of exposure, as everyone else did.
It is, like stewardship, and like caring for the unfortunate, a core part of what our fathers in the faith taught, and did. We should pray to do as well.
And yes, I would vote proudly for Rees-Mogg, and I would be very pleased to be in a church with Fr Lucie-smith, as well. It’s doubtful that I would agree with either all the time, as this article shows, but both are excellent representatives of our faith, and our peoples.
You’ll forgive me, I hope, as usual, I am a few days late (we won’t talk about how many dollars short, OK?). In any case, the other day was the Feast of the Assumption, which used to be called, “Our Lady Day in Harvest”. You’ll find there is still another Lady Day next month. As per usual, I’m going to lean on my favorite Medievalist A Clerk of Oxford heavily here.
On þone fifteogðan dæg þæs monðes bið seo tid þæt is sancta Marian tid. On þone dæg heo geleorde of middangearde to Criste, ond heo nu scineð on þam heofonlican mægene betwyh þa þreatas haligra fæmnena, swa swa sunne scineð on þisne middangeard. Englas þær blissiað, ond heahenglas wynsumiað, ond ealle þa halgan þær gefeoð in sancta Marian. Sancta Maria wæs on feower ond sixtegum geara þa þa heo ferde to Criste. Sancta Maria is godfæder snoru ond godes suna modur ond haligra sauwla sweger ond seo æðele cwen þara uplicra cesterwara; seo stondeð on þa swyðran healfe þæs heahfæder ond þæs heahcyninges.
On the fifteenth day of the month is the feast which is St Mary’s feast. On this day she departed from the world to Christ, and now she shines in the heavenly host among the crowd of holy virgins, as the sun shines upon this middle-earth. Angels rejoice there, and archangels exult, and all the saints are glad with St Mary. St Mary was sixty-four years old when she went to Christ. St Mary is daughter-in-law of God the Father and the mother of God’s son, and mother-in-law of the holy souls and the noble queen of the citizens of heaven; she stands upon the right side of the great Father and High King.
She reminds us that all these feasts grew out of ancient traditions, some scriptural, some apocryphal, and some popular legend. Many of them were fully formed by the fifth century.
The Clerk tells us, “This is a translation of a text known as the Transitus Mariae, a widely-known apocryphal account of Mary’s life which circulated in several different versions and in multiple languages in the Middle Ages. The English translation comes from the tenth-century Blicking Homilies; it’s too long to give in full, but the whole text can be found at part 1 and part 2. ” Here is one excerpt that she gives us
& þa æfter þysum wordum þa com þær ure Drihten & he hie gemette ealle anmodlice wæccende, & he hie onlyhte mid his þæs Halgan Gastes gife. & he wæs cweþende to him, ‘Broþor þa leofestan, ne sy eow nænigu cearo þæt ge geseon þæt þeos eadige Maria sy geceged to deaþe, & ne biþ heo no to þæm eorþlican deaþe ac heo bið gehered mid Gode, forþon þe hire bið mycel wuldor gegearwod.’ & mid þy þe he þis gecweden hæfde, þa ascean samninga mycel leoht on hire huse þæt ealle þa fynd wæron oferswiþde þa þe þær wæron, & þa þe þæt leoht gesawon þa ne meahton asecgan for þæs leohtes mycelnesse. & þa wæs geworden mycel stefn of heofenum to Petre & wæs cweþende, ‘Ic beo mid eow ealle dagas oþ þa gyfylnesse þisse worlde.’ & þa ahof Petrus his stefne & wæs cweþende, ‘We bletsiaþ þinne naman mid urum saulum & we biddaþ þæt þu fram us ne gewite; & we bletsiaþ þe & we biddaþ þæt þu onlyhte ure world, for þæm þe þu eallum miltsast þæm þe on þe gelyfaþ.’ & þis wæs cweþende se eadiga Petrus to eallum þæm apostolum & he trymede heora heortan mid Godes geleafan.
Æfter þyssum wordum gefylde, þa wæs Maria arisende & wæs ut gangende of hire huse, & hie gebæd to þæm gebede þe se engel hire tocwæþ þe þær com to hire; þa þis gebed wæs gefylled þa wæs heo eft gangende on hire hus & heo þa wæs hleonigende ofer hire ræste, & æt hire heafdan sæt se eadiga Petrus & emb þa ræste oþre Cristes þegnas. & þa ær þære syxtan tide þæs dæges þa wæs semninga geworden mycel þunorrad, & þær wæs swiþe swete stenc swa þætte ealle þa slepan þe þær wæron. & þa apostolas onfengon þære eadigan Marian & þa þre fæmnan þe him Crist ær bebead, þæt hie wacedon buton forlætnesse & þæt hie cyþdon Drihtnes wuldor be hire & ealle medemnesse be þære eadigan Marian. Þa slepan þa ealle þe þær wæron; þa com þær semninga ure Drihten Hælend Crist þurh wolcnum mid myccle mengeo engla & wæs ingangende on þære halgan Marian hus on þæt þe heo hie inne reste. Michahel se heahengel se wæs ealra engla ealderman, he wæs ymen singende mid eallum þæm englum, mid þy þe Hælend wæs ingongende. Þa gemette he ealle þa apostolas emb þære eadigan Marian ræste, and he bletsode þa halgan Marian & wæs cweþende, Benedico te quia quicumque promisisti — ‘Ic þe bletsige min Sancta Maria; & eal swa hwæt swa ic þe gehet eal ic hit gesette.’ Ond þa andswarode him seo halige Maria & wæs cweþende, ‘Ic do a þine gife, min Drihten, & ic þe bidde for þinum naman þæt þu gehwyrfe on me ealle eaþmodnesse þinra beboda, forþon þe ic mæg don þine gife. Þu eart gemedemod on ecnesse.’ & þa onfeng ure Drihten hire saule & he hie þa sealde Sancte Michahele þæm heahengle, & he onfeng hire saule mid ealra hisleoma eaþmodnesse. & næfde heo noht on hire buton þæt an þæt heo hæfde mennisce onlicnesse; & heo hæfde seofon siþum beorhtran saule þonne snaw…þa cleopode semninga þære eadigan Marian lichoma beforan him eallum & wæs cweþende, ‘Wes þu gemyndig, þu gewuldroda Cyning, forþon ic beo þin hondgeweorc, & wes þu min gemyndig, forþon ic healde þinra beboda goldhord.’ & þa cwæþ ure Drihten to þære eadigan Marian lichoman, ‘Ne forlæte ic þe næfre min meregrot, ne ic þe næfre ne forlæte, min eorclanstan, forþon þe þu eart soþlice Godes templ.’
And then after these words our Lord came there, and found them all watching together, and he enlightened them with the gift of the Holy Spirit, and said to them, ‘Dearest brethren, have no sorrow because you see that this blessed Mary is called unto death; for she is not called to earthly death, but she shall be favoured by God, for great glory is prepared for her.’ And when he had said this, there suddenly shone a great light upon her house, so that all the fiends who were there and those who saw the light were overpowered, and were unable to speak because of the greatness of the light. And then came a loud voice from heaven to Peter, saying, ‘I am with you always unto the end of this world.’ And Peter lifted up his voice, and said, ‘We bless your name with our souls, and we beseech you never to depart from us; and we bless you and beseech you to bring light to our world, for you have mercy upon all those who believe in you.’ And blessed Peter said this to all the apostles, and he strengthened their hearts with the faith of God.
After he had finished these words, Mary arose and went out of her house, and she prayed the prayer that the angel who came to her had told her. When this prayer was finished, she returned to her house and rested on her bed, and at her head sat the blessed Peter, and about the bed Christ’s other disciples. And before the sixth hour of the day there suddenly came a loud thunder, and there was a very sweet smell, so that all that who were there slept, and the apostles and the three women, whom Christ had commanded to watch without intermission, took charge of the holy Mary, so that they should make known the glory of the Lord in her and all his kindness to the blessed Mary. And while all who were there were sleeping, our Lord Christ suddenly appeared there in a cloud with a great company of angels, and entered the house of the holy Mary where she was at rest. The Archangel Michael, the leader of all angels, was singing hymns with all the angels, as the Lord entered. He found all the apostles round the blessed Mary’s bed, and he blessed the holy Mary, and said, ‘Benedico te quia quæcumque promisisti — ‘I bless you, my holy Mary, and all I have promised you, I will perform.’ And holy Mary answered him, and said, ‘My Lord, I give forth your grace always, and I beseech you for your name’s sake that you grant me obdience to your commands, so that I may give forth your grace. You are honoured for ever.’ And then the Lord received her soul, and gave it to Saint Michael the archangel, and he received her soul with reverence in all his limbs. She had nothing upon her save only a human body, and she had a soul seven times brighter than snow…
Then suddenly the body of the blessed Mary cried out before them all, and said, ‘Remember, glorious King, that I am your handiwork; and be mindful of me, for I keep the gold-hoard of your commandments’. And then our Lord said to the blessed Mary’s body, ‘I will never leave you, my pearl; I will never leave you, my arkenstone, for truly you are the temple of God.’
The Clerk then sums up some on why Mary is so appealing to our ancestors, especially but not only women, saying this
Though they contain plenty of miracles and marvels and angels, they’re somehow very human and ordinary. At the heart of them is a woman, loving and much loved, whose life is traced from the first wonder of her conception to her peaceful death. In a sequence like that at Chalgrove, or in Ely’s Lady Chapel, or in the Book of Hours or the plays, Mary’s life is mapped out through domestic, everyday scenes: parents rejoicing in the birth of a longed-for baby; a little girl learning to read with her mother, or climbing the steps to the temple like a child on her first day at school; a teenage Mary with her female friends, happy with her baby, at her churching, or in the last days of her life. These were familiar rituals of childhood and motherhood which resonated with medieval audiences – with women especially, but not only women. They are completely relatable, not only for mothers like Margery Kempe but for anyone who has ever had a mother, ever been a child, and there’s something beautiful about elevating such ordinary family relationships to the dignity of high art. In these scenes Mary is not an unapproachably distant figure but a woman imagined in relationship to others: a daughter, wife, mother, friend. In particular, the story of her passing is full of other people and their love for her – the apostles and her friends gathering around her bedside, Christ cradling her soul in his arms like a child. She is unique, but never alone.
And you know, when I was introduced to her, mostly here as Our Lady of Walsingham, that is what drew me to her. I don’t care who you are, the Son of God can appear intimidating, even if He tries very hard not to be. But it is different with His mom, somehow we can more easily talk with her, she’s just more sympathetic. A lot of this was lost at the Reformation, although there is little in our documents precluding her. Luther, particularly, venerated her all his life, and I think him right.
There is much more at A Clerk of Oxford, and I highly recommend the article linked above. And I do hope you had a Happy Marymass.
Vladimir Putin continues to crackdown on religions that are “non-traditional” to Russia, persecuting people because of their religious beliefs on a scale unknown since Soviet days. Interestingly, Lutheranism is considered one of the “traditional” religions (as are Baptists), so that some Protestant church work is still legal. In fact, Lutheran Christianity, as an alternative to both Orthodoxy and other kinds of Protestantism, is reportedly showing special appeal to Russians, particularly to intellectuals and scientists.
I stumbled upon an article entitled Russian Lutheranism: Between Protestantism, Orthodoxy, and Catholicism. in the East-West Church & Ministry Report (Vol. 11, No. 2, Spring 2003), a journal about Christian work in the former Soviet Union and Central and Eastern Europe. The authors are an Orthodox scholar and his assistant, Sergei B. Filatov and Aleksandra Styopina.
They survey the various Lutheran groups in Russia–which owe their “traditional” bona fides to the German immigrants Catherine the Great and other Czars moved in to help modernist the country, to the strongly Lutheran Ingrian ethnic group, and to Lutherans in the Baltic regions.
They say that Lutheranism appeals to Russians because its sacramentalism and liturgical worship preserves the sense of “mystery” that they value in the Orthodox Church. Lutherans also affirm the ecumenical creeds and thus much of what Orthodoxy teaches.
But Lutheranism is said to be more “intellectual” and to promote more “freedom.” Russians like the emphasis on the Gospel and on the Bible. But they think Lutherans are less “extreme” in their theology than other Protestants. (Whatever that means.) They appreciate how Lutherans teach that salvation is by grace alone, and yet avoid the predestinarianism of Calvinists.
Also the Lutheran theology of culture–the doctrine of the Two Kingdoms–allows them to affirm Russian culture in a way that other kinds of Protestantism can’t or won’t.
Though there have been some liberal Lutherans, most Russian Lutherans have avoided the liberalism of so much of Western Christianity. That too is a plus for Russians.
Dr. Veith also quotes a pastor of the Bible Lutheran Church in Irkutsk. He says something I find quite remarkable, perhaps astonishing.
There are two major religions in Russia, Orthodoxy and Lutheranism. Since the sixteenth century Lutheranism together with Orthodoxy has formed a part of Russian culture, science, and politics. Without the Lutheran tradition in Russia, only half of Russia would be left and the Lutheran part is not the worst half. You will become tired if you start counting everything that Lutherans have given to Russia. The regeneration of Russian Lutheranism is the restoration of the natural order of things.”
There’s considerably more at the link (and its linked article) but what I find interesting is that in Russia vis a vis the Orthodox Church, as with many of us in the west with our more hierarchical churches, there is a sense that the more decentralized Lutheran church, while still offering the mystery and sacramentalism of liturgical worship appears to be more honest because of its lack of ties to the government.
Seems to me something that most of us can relate to.
It was well-known that Newman had lively doubts about the wisdom of pronouncing on Papal Infallibility, so there was some surprise when, in his response to Gladstone’s critique, he did just that.
Newman’s defence of Infallibility deserves to be read in full, as it remains one of the best I know. That those who were making extreme claims for the dogma were as dissatisfied with it as those who disliked it; but as time has shown, Newman had it about right.
Gladstone had claimed that since the Pope was infallible in matters concerning faith and morals, and since there was no area of life which did not involve at least one of these, he was, in practice, able to command the civic and public allegiance of his subjects: ‘therefore Catholics are moral and metal slaves, and every convert and member of the Pope’s Church places his loyalty and civic duty at the mercy of another.’[iv] Far from shying away from the duty of obedience to those set in ecclesiastical authority, Newman, in the best Protestant style, cited the relevant passage from St. Paul (Hebrews 13: 17) enjoining submission to those placed in positions of authority and challenged Gladstone directly: ‘Is there any liberalistic reading of this Scripture passage?’[v] Catholics held that the Pope was the successor of St. Peter; that being so the obedience paid to him was only that demanded by Holy Scripture itself – and Newman denied utterly that obedience to that authority amounted to ‘slavery’. He drew an analogy between divine and human law. The Law, he argued, was ‘supreme’ and those under it were bound to follow its direction, but no one would claim it ‘interferes either with our comfort or our conscience.’ Newman attempted to correct the English obsession with the power of the Pope. Catholic consciences, like those of any Christian, were regulated by an ancient system of moral theology deriving from sources common to all: the Ten Commandments; the Pauline injunctions of Faith, Hope and Charity; and the practices of fasting, sabbatarianism and tithing; the Pope had little, if anything, to do with these matters. The Pope’s jurisdiction lay in matters ecclesiastical, not in civil affairs; Gladstone’s evident confusion of the two was, Newman commented wryly, the origin of his alarm.
Nor did Newman shy away from Gladstone’s attempt to link Infallibility and the Syllabus. He denied that any of the Pope’s words could be construed as releasing subjects from their allegiance to the State, or as condemning either freedom of the press or of conscience. Failing to anticipate where arguments for the latter would lead, Newman asserted that that no one would say that everything should be published, or that people had the right to unrestricted liberty; every State provided, in its laws, for limits to these things; it was the abuse of such liberty, not the liberties themselves, which the Pope condemned. It was the ‘liberty of self-will’ which was being anathematised, not liberty per se. The Syllabus was, Newman reminded Gladstone, a collection of propositions already condemned in the writings of previous Popes; it had been sent by Pius IX to his bishops, and could only be properly understood in that context; it contained no new matter by the Pope. None of this justified Gladstone’s equating the Syllabus with ex cathedra pronouncements of the Holy See: ‘Utterances which must be received as coming from an Infallible Voice, are not made every day, indeed they are very rare; and those which are by some persons affirmed or assumed to be such, do not always turn out what they are said to be.’ Patience was the ‘sine qua non’ when it came to the interpretation of documents emanating from Rome. It was quite untenable, in Newman’s view, to attribute Infallibility to the Syllabus; from this came all Gladstone’s errors.
Newman’s words are as wise and relevant now as they were then, treading a line between the claims of the Ultramontanes and the liberals. Understood aright, Infallibility is the guard against Christ’s Church teaching error; no more, no less.