18 July 2007


Again. Yes, I know that some people are disturbed that on this coming Sunday, the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, the LSB does not provide the historic propers for the feast. Instead of the traditional gospel, it goes with the Vatican II selection of John 20. What to do in such a situation?

Some will doubtlessly argue that the old assigned readings for the day be used. That's fine, in a way. But I'd suggest that the better approach is to use the LSB readings. This is the liturgy our Synod has agreed to use, for better or for worse. Many of us who love the liturgy object to folks just going off and doing their own thing. I'd suggest the same applies to those of us who have studied long and hard and love the old services.

I'd encourage us all to set an example of submitting to the liturgical norms that our Synod has established and leading the way by our commitment to following our liturgy in all evangelical freedom and good will.


cmfincher said...

You mean us liturgical types have evangelical freedom?


Father Hollywood said...

I noticed that the Verse for St. Mary the Mother of God, oops, I mean Mother of our Lord (Nestorius, ora pro nobis...) has been changed from the traditional Ave Maria to the first verse of the Magnificat.

Has there been any explanation for this?

Past Elder said...

Deciding to chuck the whole thing and choose texts and preach a sermon on, say, being a good friend is going off and doing your own thing.

A heterodox church calling a council and coming up with a new liturgy, lectionary and calendar is going off and doing your own thing.

Other liturgical churches adopting and adapting Heterodox Church Number One's new way, so that it becomes the common property of heterodox liturgical churches in general is going off and doing your own thing.

Sticking to the historic propers for the day is not going off and doing your own thing. It's sticking to the historic propers for the day instead of going off and doing your own thing.

Liturgical types do indeed have evangelical freedom. That's why we don't have to wait for a guy in Rome or anywhere else to issue a document saying it's OK. It's also why we don't have to act as if Rome still rules and follow their lead like other liturgical churches.

wm cwirla said...

We adopted a similar stance toward LSB when we adopted it here at Holy Trinity. It was more in the way of a liturgical "discipline" than anything else, as you say, leading by following what we have been given. There is nothing "wrong" here (nor particularly "right"). But the example of walking in some semblance of liturgical unity is a good one. We have all sorts of examples of individualism going on in our churches - some with their "creativity" with their "historicity." A hymnal and lectionary is supposed to attenuate that sort of thing to some degree.

Coupled with the John 20 text is the wonderful preface for Easter, which might profitably be prayed here, reminding us that St. Mary Magdalene was the first of the eyewitnesses to have seen the risen Lord.

Anyway, I greatly appreciate your exercise of evangelical freedom and good will in these matters. It's reminiscent of C.S. Lewis' wish that the high church Anglican would refrain from crossing himself on occasion for the sake of his low church brother, and the low church brother would likewise occasionally cross himself for the sake of his high church neighbor. But as long as these things are viewed as litmus tests of one's "orthodoxy" and "purity," I'm afraid there will always be some who are "disturbed."

Chris Jones said...

Fr Weedon,

This is the liturgy our Synod has agreed to use, for better or for worse.

I haven't taken the time to look it up, but I don't think that the terms of the resolution adopting the LSB say that "we have agreed to use this." I think it says something like "the Synod in Convention recommends" that congregations use the LSB.

In fact, the Missouri Synod does not claim, and does not exercise, any sort of authority over the liturgies its member congregations use.

I think you are ascribing to the LSB a status of lex orandi that it simply does not have (nor, of course, does any other Lutheran service book have such a status). Constitutionally and confessionally, the Synod disclaims any sort of liturgical authority, beyond the requirement that service books and hymnals should be "doctrinally pure." That means that you can cook up whatever liturgy you like so long as you can show that it conforms doctrinally to the Scriptures and the Confessions.

I'd call that lex credendi lex est orandi. I don't think that it is right, but I do think that it is the way it is.

In the absence of any real trans-parochial liturgical authority, what we are left with is the traditional bishop's jus liturgicum. That means you are permitted to continue the use of the historic lectionary if that is what is best for the souls in your cure.

Chris Jones said...

Another thought:

If I read the news coming out of Convention correctly, it looks like the next Convention may very well publish some "diverse/contemporary worship resources." Will you use that liturgical material at St Paul's as well, on the basis that "this is the liturgy our Synod has agreed to use, for better or for worse"?

I hope that your answer is "No"; but why not?

David said...

Why not draw in BOTH texts (John 20 & Luke 7)? After all, St. Mary Magdalene is a type of the Church, who weeps at the feet of her Lord and finds Him where He said He will be, in spite of her anxious tears of woe.

William Weedon said...


In 2004, the LSB was adopted as an official service book and hymnal for the LCMS. "An" notes that it does not displace the previously adopted official service book and hymnal, Lutheran Worship, though it has in effect done so by CPH ceasing publication of the older work. Curiously, The Lutheran Hymnal was never adopted as an official book by the Synod in convention.

Now, I don't think I implied that the Synod had coersive power to enforce LSB as a hymnal on the parishes - I think I stressed the opposite, that there is evangelical freedom that must be guarded in this respect. But I believe that the exercise of such evangelical freedom need not entail liturgical chaos! My suggestion was that we freely use the LSB in its prescribed propers, never insisting that it HAS to be that way, but that it would be good to be that way. And that pastors who encourage parishes not to do their own thing could in this way set an example of not doing their own thing either.

I don't consider it a sin for a pastor to sub the traditional reading for St. Mary Magdalene, but I think it would be wiser for us to just stick to the use of LSB and in effect by our practice show it to be our liturgical norm.

No, I won't be using the contemporary worship resources they come up with. And I'd argue that any parish would be the richer without them because in LSB we have already a full and complete worship "resource" that can give any parish a veritable feast on the riches of God's Word celebrated according to the wisdom of Christians across the ages. In short, junk food will not substitute for the solid diet!

chaz_lehmann said...

A few weeks ago we got to have a little Advent in the summer. Now we get to have a little Easter in the summer (Yes, I know every Sunday is a little Easter... You know what I mean.).

I'm not complaining!

William Weedon said...

Fr. Beane,

I've not got a clue why that was done. You might write Vieker and ask him if he recalls any conversation around it. I do know that the question of the title of the feast was debated hot and heavy, and finally the title was chosen "Mother of Our Lord" because St. Elizabeth uses this appellation when the Blessed Virgin comes to visit her. "Why is granted that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?"

The way to remedy it, of course, is to have a soloist sing the Ave for you during distribution that day. Using the Schubert setting I think has the music repeat right before the Ora pro nobis part, and so if someone sings just through to that point you've got nothing but Scripture going on, and who could object to that? ;)

Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

I appreciate the spirit of your attitude on this matter, Fr. Weedon, but I think I am on Past Elder's side on this. Let me attempt to explain at least part of my reasoning.

The best, most natural and wholesome, way for a liturgical norm to come about in a church surely is for it to be in response to a liturgically wholesome movement that is already in place on the ground.

So, for example, Pope Benedict XVI has now, by motu proprio, allowed for the freedom for any Latin Rite priest to say Mass according to the form of the 1962 Missal, not because the old Mass has completely ceased and the pope wants to revive it, or impose it on the people, but precisely because of pastoral concern for the many segments of the church which has always had a clear attachment to the tridentine forms.

Another example: the LSB today has its third Mass option precisely because there are some segments of the LC-MS where TLH 15 has always been celebrated with great affection. If TLH had utterly died off, then the LSB editors would have seen no reason to include the old Mass at all.

My point: I see no historicism per se going on here. What I see is that if we ever expect things to improve in the next hymnal, then it will partly depend on keeping historical forms of the liturgy alive at real altars on the ground, & not merely hoping that the experts on the COW or the next hymnal committees will have the right ideas.

In the final analysis, those who pray in the manner consistent with the church of our Western, Lutheran tradition, must be seen as those least intrested in going one's own way. They surely have the greater portion of the Church on their side, if we only look with faith at the invisible part of the altar rail.

William Weedon said...

Dear Brother Latif,

Excellent points, all. And I concede readily that there is a place in the Church to keep such alive. But I think the other side - the side of submission to established liturgical norms - is the more pressing need in our parishes and among our pastors at the given moment, especially when that established liturgical norm is so much in harmony (by and large) with what has come before.

Pax Christi!

Past Elder said...

The 1962 missal is not the Tridentine Rite, strictly speaking -- it is not the Mass exactly as it emerged from Trent, but a revision of it as of 1962. In this, it is a legitimate development of liturgy in its own context.

The novus ordo, by contrast, is precisely the opposite. Though it uses ancient sources in places, it is exactly what it says, a new order, not a revision of an existing order on the ground, so zu sagen.

So its use is not in continuity with the Western rite or tradition, but with Vatican II and the other heterodox churches that have in turn adopted and adapted it. It differs from worshipping along Saddleback or Willow Creek lines only in the preservation of traditional externals, and thus is even more dangerous because of its superficial resemblance to the historic liturgy.

That alone should argue against its use by those who seek to zealously defend and preserve the mass. But if more is needed: the rite is the new rite of the body consistent with the description of the Whore of Babylon and was promulgated by the authority of an office bearing the marks of antichrist.

Ora pro nobis, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae indeed.

Past Elder said...

On a lighter note, the IT guys at work have started blocking access to blogs, so no more blogging on breaks for me -- late night only.