12 April 2010

A Few Passages

on the liturgical heritage of Lutheran Christians - the formation of which in these gray and latter days is never an easy task. May these few lines be of some help!

The Lutheran Confessions on Various Matters of Worship:

Our churches are falsely accused of abolishing the Mass. The Mass is held among us and celebrated with the highest reverence. Nearly all the usual ceremonies are also preserved… Augsburg Confession, Article XXIV:1,2

Because the Mass is for the purpose of giving the Sacrament, we have Communion every holy day, and if anyone desires the Sacrament, we also offer it on other days, when it is given to all who ask for it. Augsburg Confession, Article XXIV:34

We answer that it is lawful for bishops, or pastors, to make ordinances so that things will be done orderly in the church, but not to make satisfaction for sin… It is proper that the churches keep such ordinances for the sake of love and tranquility, to avoid giving offense to another, so that all things be done in the churches in order, and without confusion. Augsburg Confession XXVIII:53-55.

However, it is pleasing to us that, for the sake of peace, universal ceremonies are kept. We also willingly keep the order of the Mass in the churches, the Lord’s Day, and other more famous festival days. With a very grateful mind we include the beneficial and ancient ordinances, especially since they contain a certain discipline. Apology to the Augsburg Confession, Article VII/VIII:33

Masses are celebrated among us every Lord’s Day and on other festivals. The Sacrament is offered to those who wish to use it, after they have been examined and absolved. And the usual public ceremonies are observed, the series of lessons, of prayers, vestments, and other such things. Apology to the Augsburg Confession, XXIV:1

Nothing in customary rites should be changed without a reasonable cause. So to nurture unity, old customs that can be kept without sin or great inconvenience should be kept. Apology to the Augsburg Confession, XV:51


Luther on the Elevation (lifting up the body and blood of the Lord):

We do not want to abolish the elevation, but retain it because it...signifies that Christ has commanded us to remember Him. For just as the sacrament is bodily elevated, and yet Christ's body and blood are not seen in it, so he is also remembered and elevated by the word of the sermon and is confessed and adored in the reception of the Sacrament. In each case, He is apprehended only by faith; for we cannot see how Christ gives His body and blood for us and even now daily shows and offers it before God to obtain grace for us. -- Blessed Martin Luther, *The German Mass* AE 53:82

Luther on Genuflecting during the Creed:

And when the congregation came to the words “from the Virgin Mary, and was made man,” everyone genuflected and removed his hat. It would still be proper and appropriate to kneel at the words “and was made man,” to sing them with long notes as formerly, to listen with happy hearts to the message that the Divine Majesty abased Himself and became like us poor bags of worms, and to thank God for the ineffable mercy and compassion reflected in the incarnation of the Deity. [Luther on John 1:14]

Luther on Kissing the Bible:

It [kneeling before the Sacrament] is a matter of freedom, just as one is at liberty to kiss the Bible or not. -- Table Talk 344

Luther on what was spilled:

[In 1542, in Wittenberg] a woman wanted to go to the Lord’s Supper, and then as she was about to kneel on the bench before the altar and drink, she made a misstep and jostled the chalice of the Lord violently with her mouth, so that some of the Blood of Christ was spilled from it onto her lined jacket and coat and onto the rail of the bench on which she was kneeling. So then when the reverend Doctor Luther, who was standing at a bench opposite, saw this, he quickly ran to the altar (as did also the reverend Doctor Bugenhagen), and together with the curate, with all reverence licked up [the Blood of Christ from the rail] and helped wipe off this spilled Blood of Christ from the woman’s coat, and so on, as well as they could. And Doctor Luther took this catastrophe so seriously that he groaned over it and said, “O, God, help!” and his eyes were full of water. (Johann Hachenburg, quoted in Peters, p. 191)

The Lutheran Confessions on Adoration of the Sacrament:

However, no one - unless he is an Arian heretic - can and will deny that Christ Himself, true God and man, is truly and essentially present in the Supper. Christ should be adored in spirit and in truth in the true use of the Sacrament, as He is in all other places, especially where His congregation is assembled. (FC VII:15)

Walther (Synod’s first President) on Chanting:

It is a pity and dreadful cowardice when a person sacrifices the good ancient church customs to please the deluded American denominations just so they won't accuse us of being Roman Catholic! Indeed! Am I to be afraid of a Methodist, who perverts the saving Word, or be ashamed in the matter of my good cause, and not rather rejoice that they can tell by our ceremonies that I do not belong to them?

It is too bad that such entirely different ceremonies prevail in our Synod, and that no liturgy at all has yet been introduced in many congregations. The prejudice especially against the responsive chanting of pastor and congregations is of course still very great with many people -- this does not, however, alter the fact that it is very foolish. The pious church father Augustine said, "Qui cantat, bis orat--he who sings prays twice."

This finds its application also in the matter of the liturgy. Why should congregations or individuals in the congregation want to retain their prejudices? How foolish that would be! For first of all it is clear from the words of St. Paul (1 Cor. 14:16) that the congregations of his time had a similar custom. It has been the custom in the Lutheran Church for 250 years. It creates a solemn impression on the Christian mind when one is reminded by the solemnity of the divine service that one is in the house of God, in childlike love to their heavenly Father, also give expression to their joy in such a lovely manner.

Whenever the divine service once again follows the old Evangelical-Lutheran agendas (or church books), it seems that many raise a great cry that it is "Roman Catholic": "Roman Catholic" when the pastor chants "The Lord be with you" and the congregation responds by chanting "and with thy spirit"; "Roman Catholic" when the pastor chants the collect and the blessing and the people respond with a chanted "Amen." Even the simplest Christian can respond to this outcry: "Prove to me that this chanting is contrary to the Word of God, then I too will call it `Roman Catholic' and have nothing more to do with it. However, you cannot prove this to me."

If you insist upon calling every element in the divine service "Romish" that has been used by the Roman Catholic Church, it must follow that the reading of the Epistle and Gospel is also "Romish." Indeed, it is mischief to sing or preach in church, for the Roman Church has done this also . . .Those who cry out should remember that the Roman Catholic Church possesses every beautiful song of the old orthodox church. The chants and antiphons and responses were brought into the church long before the false teachings of Rome crept in. This Christian Church since the beginning, even in the Old Testament, has derived great joy from chanting... For more than 1700 years orthodox Christians have participated joyfully in the divine service. Should we, today, carry on by saying that such joyful participation is "Roman Catholic"? God forbid! Therefore, as we continue to hold and to restore our wonderful divine services in places where they have been forgotten, let us boldly confess that our worship forms do not tie us with the modern sects or with the church of Rome; rather, they join us to the one, holy Christian Church that is as old as the world and is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets.”

10 comments:

George and Colleen said...

from whence is the Walther quote?

Paul said...

for the sake of unity and love, indeed! From your lips to God's ears:)

William Weedon said...

Oh, sorry. I didn't realize I had left that off! The first section of Walther was from an address given at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, August 9, 1871, at the 16th Central District Convention. (Essays for the Church, Vol. I, pp. 193-194)

The bit on "Roman Catholic" was from an editorial by Walther in Der Lutheraner, Vol. 9, No. 24, p. 163 (July 19, 1853).

Phil said...

It's interesting to read the AC XV quotation again. I haven't heard that one used quite as much and had forgotten about it.

I don't get the whole Confessional hermeneutics thing. We have Ap XV, "Nothing in customary rites should be changed without a reasonable cause." Then there are some who would like to quote FC X to say that in adiaphora we can do whatever we'd like, and they usually ignore that Ap quotation.

Are we supposed to interpret FC X in light of Ap XV (strictly speaking, we are free, but there are only a few very serious reasons for deviating from established custom)? Are we supposed to interpret Ap XV in light of FC X (Melanchthon's words were historically conditioned, we can do what we want)? Are we supposed to interpret each in light of the other and reject everything that doesn't harmonize between the two interpretations? I know you've commented before that you found Piepkorn's confessional hermeneutics extremely helpful, but I'm not sure what they are or how they're supposed to work.

William Weedon said...

The Formula gives you the answer itself: "To this Christian Augsburg Confession, so thoroughly grounded in God's Word, we here pledge ourselves again from our inmost hearts. We abide by its simple, clear, and unadulterated meaning as the words convey it. We regard this Confession as a pure Christian symbol.... Whether in this writing or in any other, it is our plan not to withdraw in the least from that oft-cited Confession, nor to propose another or new Confession." FC SD Intro 4,5

Paul McCain said...

Here's another great Luther quote on the Elevation:

This, too, would be a fine interpretation, if the priest would with the elevation of the sacrament do nothing other than illustrate the words, “This is my body,” as if he wished to express by means of his action: Look, dear Christians, this is the body which is given for you. Thus the elevation would not be a symbol of the sacrifice to God (as the papists foolishly imagine) but an admonition directed toward men, to provoke them to faith, particularly since he immediately elevates the bread right after speaking the words: “This is my body which is given for you.” (Martin Luther, [Brief] Confession concerning Christ’s Supper, Luther’s Works 38 [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971], p. 314)

Augustinian Successor said...

What's whole point of the quotes? They're meaningless UNLESS it's to show that the Mass has been corrupted in the Roman Church! That's the whole point.

J.G.F. said...

THANK YOU for putting these all together in one place.

"The Right Rev" said...

Solid list and a good reminder on the teaching value of ritual. Thanks!

Daniel said...

Regarding the last Walther quote, some things never change...