25 August 2009

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

I should especially like to see the rural monasteries and those that have been endowed stay to take care of noble persons and poor ministers. Nor have I proposed anything else from the beginning. From such monasteries suitable men can then be chosen for the church, the state, and economic life.-- Blessed Martin Luther, Table Talk 4031 (1538)


Chris said...

I wish modern Lutherans would heed his words and not just conclude that monasteries are useless entities that promote "works righteousness." I don't see how living the angelic life can possibly be in conflict with the Gospel.

Past Elder said...

You know who lives the angelic life? Angels.

Here's your "angelic life": grow up and learn a trade or profession of use to your fellow man, marry a spouse and be faithful to the person, not just in sex, but when you get home and your spouse isn't all about you but had a day of her own, maybe doesn't want to do just what you want to do or even wants you to do something else, likes the toilet seat one way and the tissue facing the other way than you do, literally and figuratively, raise some kids, help them with their homework when you'd rather watch the game or do nothing at all, mow the yard, change the kitty litter, help with the dishes, making the meal, doing the laundry, plunge the toilet, shovel the snow off the sidewalk, get involved with something of benefit to your community or your kids' school, get up at 0200 to change a diaper, or help a sick kid, stuff like that, stay in your parish where you have baptism, preaching, the sacrament and your neighbour, for there you have more than all the places you might run after, greater than the saints of heaven who were themselves made saints by Word and Sacrament.

I couldn't give an RA what someone who wants to exempt himself from life and stay on the mountain and build tents has to say about the spiritual life when the Son of Man must go to Jerusalem where there is much to do, so to speak.

William Weedon said...

I'm sure, Terry, you don't mean to deny that there are those to whom God even in this age gives the gift of celibacy so that "they neither marry nor are given in marriage" but "are like the angels." I think that's the sense in which Chris meant "angelic life." The monastery as a place where a common life is lived, work done for the sake of others, and prayers and praises raised with regularity and order - this is not something any Lutheran can rightly object to. The monastery as a place where the future age is sought to be earned by good works - that is, of course, an abomination (and it would be as abominable as the life lived in a family if it were treated as the fodder for earning salvation). I think there's great value in the middle way here: a no to monastic vows and all that they entail; a yes to communal living around the Word of God and providing service to one's neighbor in concrete ways.

Past Elder said...

Well I would say communal living around the Word of God in service to others without vows would pretty well describe parish life.

Even St Paul, for all his advocacy of celibacy, required it of no-one. And as with any gift, you don't decide you're getting it, or necessarily get it even if you want it.

How many years either of you two guys spent around a monkery?

William Weedon said...

I've spent no years in a monastery, but I've visited some before - both Roman Catholic and Orthodox. I've not had the chance yet to visit the Lutheran monastery in Michigan, but hope to some day.

But living in community is different from parish life. I mean daily sitting down and eating together, doing your chores together, and praying together. It is more like family life, and I understand from monks and nuns that it shares ALL the irritations of family life, which provide countless opportunities for putting to death the impulses of the flesh.

One of the "ahas" I've had over the years about Luther was that he really didn't abolish the monasteries; he monasticized the family! He reminded the Church that the life of prayer, service to the neighbor, and common work is the shape of every Christian's life.

Chris said...

Past Elder,

Living the monastic life is living like in a married state. The difference is that there is no sexual intercourse or children. Marriage is a martyrdom of the bride and groom to each other for the sake of Christ for both to achieve theosis and grow in the virtues. Such is for monastics. In both rites, marriage and in monastic orders, hymns to the martyrs are sung because each person, whether about to be married or become a monk, is a martyr.

NOt everyone is called to marriage and I don't know where you come off thinking that such is anti-Gospel.

Fr. Weedon,

Monastic vows cumpulsory? You think people go into a monastery and then are surprsied that they have to be celibate, poor and obedient to their spiritual elder? Of course not. People take these views willingly. Maybe back in the Middle ages, families would force their young children into monasteries. But, today? Come on. And considering that even the Lutheran confessions prize virginity higher than marriage (reread your post on quia Lutheranism), I'm surprised that you would try to undercut this.

Living around the living God in constant prayer and service, sacrificing for him since he sacrificed for us should not be found objectionable by anyone.

William Weedon said...


Did I say anything about the vows being compulsory being the problem? The Reformation rejection of the vows was linked directly with St. Thomas Aquinas equation of them with being on a par with baptismal grace: "Hence we read in the Lives of the Fathers (vi, 1) that by entering religion one receives the same grace as by being baptized." (Summa II, 2, q.189, a.3 ad 3.) It was in such a context that the monastic vows (but not monasticism per se) was rejected in the Reformation. Monastic communities that had been reformed actually continued for some time. Their loss is, I would argue, a sad development among us. Nor have I EVER suggested that marriage is on a par with virginity; it is not.

William Weedon said...

P.S. One of the great blessings of a monastic community is that those who have been given the gift of celibacy are blessed with a "family" life. "He sets the solitary in families."

William Weedon said...

WERE rejected. Goodness!

Chris said...

Fr. Weedon,

When I referenced your quia Lutheran post, I was referring that you knew that viriginity is a greater gift than marriage and had spoken on it before. SOrry if it sounded otherwise.

christl242 said...

Pastor Weedon, I am hoping and praying that the "Lutheran Monastery" you are referring to is not St. Augustine's House in Michigan.

They seem somewhat ecletic and molded more in the tradition of the ELCA than the LCMS, even if they consider themselves Benedictines.

As they state:

We are affiliated with the
Lutheran tradition, understood as a movement within and
for the one holy catholic and apostolic Church of Jesus

"Affiliated" ??

As for the "classic" view that monasticism is a "higher" state than marriage, my years in the RC cured that real quick.

Suffice it to say that there's a darker side that the public has recently become aware of.

P.S. One of the great blessings of a monastic community is that those who have been given the gift of celibacy are blessed with a "family" life. "He sets the solitary in families."

Evidently not as many monastics have been "given" the gift of celibacy as we have been led to believe.

The way St. Therese was treated by the sisters she lived with was awful. Not exactly a picture of sacrificial love. If the monastic way is supposed to be superior to marriage it should show it.

Nor do I think that Luther ever found the satisfaction in monastic life that he achieved as a husband and father.


Past Elder said...

Well, a statement that living the monastic life is like living the married state sounds pretty theoretical to me -- ever done either one?

There is not one damn thing Christian about monasticism. It is a phenomenon hundreds of years older than Christianity and quite independent of either it or Judaism.

Do you think Christian monasticism came about in the "enlightened" attitudes in which it seeks to now justify itself? It came about through nothing but ignorance, superstition, and precisely the sort of stuff it thinks it has shed now.

What was the Great Commission -- step back from the world, form recluse communities, and sing and pray? Pig's bum.

Thank God for Vatican II to show me that not only the present but the past of all that nonsense is just that -- otherwise I might be Father Stercus OSB!

Past Elder said...

After five years monking, the monk was allowed two words. He said, New shoes.

After ten years monking, he said his next two words -- New bed.

After fifteen years monking, he said his next two words -- New habit.

He was expelled. Being expelled, he asked, Why? And the abbot, being the abbot, said, Well you've done nothing but complain since you got here!

A little monkish humour from behind the cloister wall for you guys.

My favourite monk is Thelonious.