30 November 2020

Poetry for Advent I

A little Chesterton, and a lot of Betjeman to nourish the soul this Adventide:

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood,
Then surely I was born;

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil's walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.


The bells of waiting Advent ring,
The Tortoise stove is lit again
And lamp-oil light across the night
Has caught the streaks of winter rain
In many a stained-glass window sheen
From Crimson Lake to Hookers Green.

The holly in the windy hedge
And round the Manor House the yew
Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge,
The altar, font and arch and pew,
So that the villagers can say
'The church looks nice' on Christmas Day.

Provincial Public Houses blaze,
Corporation tramcars clang,
On lighted tenements I gaze,
Where paper decorations hang,
And bunting in the red Town Hall
Says 'Merry Christmas to you all'.

And London shops on Christmas Eve
Are strung with silver bells and flowers
As hurrying clerks the City leave
To pigeon-haunted classic towers,
And marbled clouds go scudding by
The many-steepled London sky.

And girls in slacks remember Dad,
And oafish louts remember Mum,
And sleepless children's hearts are glad.
And Christmas-morning bells say 'Come!'
Even to shining ones who dwell
Safe in the Dorchester Hotel.

And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window's hue,
A Baby in an ox's stall ?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me ?

And is it true ? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant,

No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare -
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.

Gerhard and Walther

(New Church Year, new series):

Whoever has God has all goodness, for all goodness is in God. Whoever does not have God has nothing good, for without God there is no good.—Gerhard, Schola Pietatis, p. 34.

Whoever in the old Church Year was outwitted by his flesh, the world, or Satan, losing the Savior who had dwelt in his heart, should be encouraged. He may have spent last year without peace and rest, without light  and comfort, and without power and hope, oppressed by the feeling of displeasure from his God. But a new year has dawned, and Jesus is returning, bringing with Him a fresh supply of grace.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It, p. 11. 

Patristic Quote of the Day

Hence Christ demonstrates that there is significant reward for the wealthy who can practice self-denial. He also said that this had to be the work of God, that he might show that great grace is needed for anyone who is going to achieve it.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 63 on St. Matthew

Catechesis: LC Shorter Preface

This sermon has been undertaken for the instruction of children and uneducated people. Hence from ancient times it has been called, in Greek, a “catechism”—that is, instruction for children. Its contents represent the minimum of knowledge required of a Christian. (By which he means: the texts of the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Our Father).—LC Preface 1, 2

29 November 2020

An Absolutely Beautiful Liturgy for Advent I: Ad Te Levavi

....this morning at St. Paul’s: Divine Service

From today’s Hymn of the Day

Here a maid was found with Child,
Yet remained a Virgin mild.
In her womb this truth was shown:
God was there upon His throne.

A few pics from around the house...


27 November 2020


 Oliver enjoying this crazy horse I got when I was his age: 2 or 3. So the horse is 57 or 58. Yes, my parents got their money out of that sucker. I showed the kids a pic of him and me back when I first got him. Lydia: “So he used to be all red.” He’s lost a bit of paint!

Remembering a Friend: +Paul Timothy McCain

I woke up thanksgiving morning and when I glanced at my phone my heart sank. I’d gotten a text from my boss and friend, Jeff Schwarz, that our mutual friend Pr. Paul McCain had suddenly passed away the night before.

I don’t even remember when or how Paul and I became friends, but it was a long time ago. For years we were both avid bloggers and frequently commented on each other’s blogs and interacted on different blogs as well. We didn’t always agree, by any stretch, but we had a strong mutual respect and, I think I may rightly say, an affection that grew deeper with the passing of the years. 

Yes, sometimes in his on-line persona, Paul could be a bit...how to say this...overbearing? Yes, maybe that’s the word. He was fiercely loyal to his CPH and an uncompromising Lutheran, and didn’t tolerate well criticism of either. He was very proud of the great work that CPH has accomplished in his many years there, and indeed justly so. But his loyalty could lead to a sharp edge in some of his online interactions if he even suspected you were criticizing his beloved publishing house!

Over the years, I have any number of times suggested to folks put off by that sharp edge: “Look, THAT’S just not the actual Paul. Not really. Go to lunch with him and you’ll find a different man.” That soft southern accent that he never lost; his laughter and wit; his marked gentleness, his clear kindness, his joy in the grace of God, his ebullient delight in Lutheran theology and particularly in the Book of Concord. I don’t think he ever tired of talking about Lutheran theology! He and I even blogged together on the Book of Concord for a while, moving article by article through the Confessions. That’s the Paul I will remember and treasure. 

One day I was doing some recording at CPH for a project, and Paul asked me if I’d seen the latest: Matt Carver’s lovely Lutheran Prayer Companion. He knew it was dear to my heart (I’d praised the original German on my blog a time or two) and when I told him that I had not, he literally grabbed his personal copy off his desk and without hesitation gave it to me. He said he’d pick up another. As I type this, it sits right beside me, where I use it most every morning and evening. I remember his delight in the way the Our Father prayers spread across the days of the week in this volume. Saturday on Deliver us from Evil, includes: “O my God, this last day of the week reminds me that my life has an end and I will have to leave it. Therefore, when the day and hour of my death shall come, grant that I may be done with all the sorrows of this life; fall peacefully asleep, trusting in the bloody merit of Jesus; and leaving this valley of tears enter into Your eternal joy and heavenly rest.” I will treasure this prayer book always as a remembrance my friend.

And that’s not the only one. I can’t even number or remember the various books he’d sent me across the years. Anything he thought might prove a blessing. I do remember that last year he sent me several of the latest volumes of Luther’s works (AE) with more of Luther’s sermons. His comment was: “I know you will read them, and put them to use to bless the church.” 

It was only a month ago that his gentle side shone brightly to me quite personally. He became aware in a conversation that yours truly had deeply hurt someone who came to me for prayer for a sibling with cancer at the Synodical Convention and, distracted with preparations for the opening service, I’d been a bit brusk and dismissive. Paul told the person that wasn’t the Weedon he knew. And he took the risk of letting me know all about this in the most gentle and kind way. “Dear Brother in Christ, Will, a dear friend and cherished brother” and then he told me what had been said to him, “I just wanted you to know and I thought...I am going to fail my friend if I do not let him know. I would want one of my friends to let me know.” He thought (and rightly so!) that I’d want to repair the relationship. This led to an email exchange with the person, with me confessing having totally missed the gift that that person was to me from God in that moment: a beautiful reminder about what truly matters, people, their sorrows, and connecting them to Christ, and to stop focusing on the stuff that doesn’t (preparations for a big worship service). I confessed that I had blown it. I asked this person’s forgiveness and it was most graciously given. And I’d never have even known or remembered any of this, without Paul, the peace-maker.

I wrote Paul to let him know and thank him again for clueing me in. It was the last really personal exchange we had. He wrote: “Bless you, brother. I knew you would want me to make you aware of this lingering hurt to which you then could apply the salve of the liberating Gospel.... You know, Will, there are not many people I would reach out to this way to let them know, but I know your heart and I knew you would want to know.” I wrote back: “We know each other, my brother. We may not often see each other, but we know each other.” His response? What else??? “This is most certainly true.”

Rest eternal grant to Your servant, Paul, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon him! And bring the comfort that only Your victory over death and the grave can bring to his family and all who mourn his passing. 

Glory to God for all things!

26 November 2020

Glory to God for all things!

St. John Chrysostom’s dying words, for in Christ we have the opportunity to offer a perpetual sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Father in the Holy Spirit in times of sorrow and grief, in times of joy and laughter, in every time in between. 

“We praise Thee, O God, we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord. All the earth doth worship Thee, the Father everlasting...The holy Church throughout all the world doth acknowledge Thee, the Father of an infinite Majesty; Thine adorable, true, and only Son; also the Holy Ghost, the Comforter.” 

A blessed thanksgiving to one and all, from the Weedons

25 November 2020

Twenty-six Years

That’s how long it’s been since my mom died. Hard to fathom. I remember as a kid thinking how impossible it would be to live without her, and telling God that I think I could do it if she lived at least till I was 40 (she’d be 90 then). Well, she didn’t make it that long. 

Given what we’ve learned about “type three diabetes” (i.e., Alzheimer's) in the years since, I get so upset just thinking about how her mind was starved there at the end and no amount of sugar was going to solve the problem. 

Crippled by polio when she was three, she knew a ton of suffering in her life. Yet she always remained cheerful and was our family’s rock. Before her mind started to go, she was an inveterate tease—as all the inlaws will attest. And there’s no question she’s the one from whom I get my reclusiveness (let’s be honest: introvert is too mild to describe the aversion to going out). Miss you, Mom! I think so often about what it might be like to welcome you and daddy to our home. Can’t wait to see you again!

Luther and Lewis

The sun, moon, stars, clouds, air, earth, and water are no longer so pure, and beautiful, and lovely as they were. But on that day all things will be made new and will once more be beautiful as St. Paul says in Romans viii.—Martin Luther, Sermon, 1537

To the Materialist things like nations, classes, civilizations must be more important than individuals, because individuals live only seventy-odd years each and the group may last for centuries. But to the Christian, individuals are more important, for they live eternally; and races, civilizations and the like, are in comparison the creatures of a day.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 294. 

Patristic Quote of the Day

What then did Christ say? “How difficult it will be for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.” He was not criticizing money itself but the wills of those who are taken captive by it. If it will be difficult for the rich, how much more so for the avaricious!—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 63 on St. Matthew


In the Confession we nevertheless added the extent to which it is legitimate for them to create traditions, namely, that they must not be necessary acts of worship but a means for preserving order in the church, for the sake of peace. These must not ensnare consciences, as though they were commanding necessary acts of worship. This is what Paul teaches when he says, “Stand fast in the freedom with which Christ has set you free, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”—Ap XXVIII:15

24 November 2020

One of my yearly tasks

Is polishing the three antique brass pieces we have (all from my mom’s family) come Thanksgiving each year. The candlesticks always sat on the organ in the parlor of my grandparent’s home when I was growing up; the beautiful box was a wedding gift from Cousin Loretta, because she knew I’d treasure the family piece. Usually I dread the task because I’ve always done it with brasso which stinks to high heaven and makes a mess. Today, I looked up a “natural” way to polish brass and I tried two methods: first salt and lemon juice, and then polish; second, vinegar, salt, and flour that is allowed to sit on for 10 minutes and then rinse and buff to a shine. All I can say is: goodbye brasso! 

Luther and Lewis

Tribulation we esteem a precious thing and glory in it, for we know that sorrow helps to teach us patience, and patience brings us experience, and experience teaches us to hop, and hope does not put us to shame.—Martin Luther, Christmas Eve Sermon 1522

One of the things that distinguishes man from the other animals is that he wants to know things, wants to find out what reality is like, simply for the sake of knowing. When that desire is completely quenched in anything, I think he has become something less than human.... Christianity claims to give an account of facts—to tell you what the real universe is like. Its account of the universe may be true, or it may not, once and the question is really before you, then your natural inquisitiveness must have you want to know the answer. If Christianity is untrue, then no honest man will want to believe it, however helpful it may be; if it is true, every honest man will want to believe it, even if it gives no help at all.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 293.

Patristic Quote of the Day

For Christ did not answer him [the young man] as expected, but simply pointed him to the law. This is not because the law is perfection, for “no one is justified by the law,” as it is written, but because the life lived according to the law is a kind of introduction to eternal life, briefly acquainting trainees to the things above.—St. Cyril of Alexandria, Fragment 218


We like the old division of power into the power of the order and the power of the jurisdiction. Therefore a bishop has the power of order, namely, the ministry of the Word and sacraments. He also has the power of jurisdiction. Therefore a bishop has the power to excommunicate those who are guilty of public offenses or to absolve them if they are converted and ask for absolution.—Ap XXVIII:13

23 November 2020

Luther and Lewis

And what is [the Christians’] offence? Their greatest sin is that they believe in Christ and praise and glorify the unspeakable grace which God has shown in Him to all the world, namely, that He alone can redeem us from sin and death and make us just and blessed, that they believe that human reason cannot of its own free will, its own might and good works prepare itself to receive the grace of God, much less merit eternal life.—Martin Luther, Exposition of 1 Peter

When it succeeds, I think the performers [musicians] are the most enviable of all men; privileged while mortals to honour God like angels, and for a few golden moments, to see spirit and flesh, delight and labour, skill and worship, the natural and the supernatural, all fused into that unity that they would have had before the Fall.—C. S. Lewis, The Business of Heaven, p. 292.

Patristic Quote of the Day

And after all this hard work your life comes to an end. Look at what you suffer in this wretched life that you so love. And do you think that you will always live and never die? Temples, rocks, marble, all reinforced by iron and lead, still fall. And  a person thinks that he will never die? Learn therefore, brothers, to seek eternal life, when you will not endure such things but will reign with God forever.—St. Augustine, Sermon 84 on St. Matthew


Thus bishops have no right to create traditions as though they merited the forgiveness of sins or were acts that pleased God as righteousness. Nor do the bishops have the right to burden consciences with such traditions as though it would be sin to omit them.—Ap XXVIII:8

It is eternal thing, the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, that work eternal life in the heart. So let our opponents explain how traditions are conducive to eternal life.—Ap XXVIII:10

21 November 2020

Interesting Passage in Baruch 3:

Who hath gone up into heaven, and taken her [wisdom], and brought her down from the clouds? Who hath gone over the sea, and found her, and will bring her for pure gold? (Baruch 3:29-30)

Cf. Romans 10:6,7: But the righteousness which is of faith speaking on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (That is, to bring Christ down from above) Or, Who shall descend to the deep (that is to bring Christ up against from the dead). 

Saturday Joys


What, with one

Of our pastors feeling a tad under the weather, I was privileged to serve at St. Paul’s this week more than is my wont. I assisted as deacon at the Mass on Wednesday morning, was the liturgist and preacher for Matins on both Thursday and Friday (I wish you folks could hear the school children belt out Venite and Te Deum!), and I’ll be celebrant at tonight’s Mass with Pr. Daenzer preaching and Pr. Heller also assisting, and I’ll serve as deacon tomorrow as usual at 8 o’clock liturgy.

Here are the two short homilies from the Matins:

Thursday (1 Thes. 5:1-10):

You are not in the dark, boys and girls, about the fact that the Lord Jesus will return in glory.

Why, you confess it every single time you say the Creed: “and He will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead, whose kingdom will have no end.” And so, since you’re not in the dark about that, you, “look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.” You know that’s what’s headed your way and mine. And since you know that that’s how it will be, St. Paul tells you to live your lives toward that glorious appearing as the children of light that you already are.

When many of you were baptized, a lighted candle was given you. It was to show that you had received Christ, the light of the world, and you were now a child of the light, one of those who wait for the dawning of that glorious day of His appear.

The children of the darkness are those who are in the dark—that is, who don’t know—about the Lord Jesus and about His appearing. They either don’t know about it, or they don’t believe it and so they don’t expect it or prepare themselves for it.

You, however, are not like them. You know He will appear exactly as He promised. You know how He has fulfilled every promise He ever gave and so you know He will fulfill that one too. Then every eye will see Him, including those who nailed Him to the tree. That day there will be a lot of sorrow for those who find out that what they weren’t expecting is actually happening.

Because they didn’t look for it, they sort of snoozed their way through life, sadly never realizing that this life was all given so that they might be prepared for that day so that they could welcome it with joy. They miss out on that.

But not you. You’re not that way, St. Paul insists. You are children of light. Children of the day. You’re not destined for the night or appointed for wrath, that is for the darkness of hell. Instead, God has appointed you to obtain salvation by your Lord Jesus Christ.

So it matters not one whit whether you’re alive or dead when that moment you’ve been waiting for finally dawns. If you’re sleeping in your grave that day, Jesus will waken you and take you home. And if you see His coming with your very eyes, He will transform your lowly body to be like His glorious body, as we heard yesterday, and He will take you home. You will live together with Him forever either way.

This is big comfort and St. Paul urges us to share it with each other and so build each other up in faith. Always remember the One who is coming and look for Him. Though He delays He hasn’t forgotten. You will see. All will see.

Blessed are those children of the light who are waiting and looking forward to that day and greet its arrival with songs of joy. Zion hears the watchmen singing and all her heart with joy is springing. She wakes, she rises from her gloom, for Her Lord comes down all glorious, the strong in grace, in truth victorious, Her star is risen, her LIGHT has come. Now come, Thou blessed One, Lord Jesus, God’s own son. Hail hosanna. We enter all the wedding hall to eat the Supper at Thy call.” Amen!

Friday (Psalm 149):

O Lord, open my lips. And my mouth will declare your praise.

Your mouth is not just there to be a pie hole, as they say. To stuff the food down. Your mouth is created for a higher task. It’s created for praise.

Have you ever pondered, boys and girls, how often the Psalmist tells you to “praise the Lord!” It’s his way of saying: “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” And his way of saying “it is a good to sing praises to the Lord.”

When we praise the Lord together, when He opens our lips and our mouths show forth His praise, when we sing of what He has done for us, His mighty works in creation and redemption and sanctification, when we look forward, as we thought about yesterday, to the day of Christ’s appearing, it all comes to this. We praise Him because He,

“the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He adorns the humble with salvation.”

We praise Him because astonishingly, the Maker of all of this, of the earth and the wide sea, of the far nebulae and the nearer sun and moon, He actually takes notice of you. And more than notice, He delights in you. And He’s tickled pink that He made you, and that you have been joined to His Son, and that you are robed in the garments of salvation. And in response all that, what’s left but praise?

So, let the high praises of God be in your throats and a two-edged sword in their hands, that would be the Word of God. This is how you reign with Christ among the nations and how you rule with Him over everything, seated with Him on the throne. You sing your Te Deums. You chant our Venites. You hear and proclaim His Law and His Promises. And so you reign with King Jesus, and you join Him in His life of praise to His Father. This is honor for all His godly ones. For those who belong to Him.

O Lord, open my lips. And my mouth will declare your praise. May that high praise of God ring on in your hearts upon your beds and in your living rooms and even at your thanksgiving tables. May you never forget that because He has delighted in you even to the gift of His Son, you have cause to praise the Lord now and forever. Praise the Lord! Amen. 

Now let’s stop yakking about it, and do it: we join in the Te Deum Laudamus.

20 November 2020

Luther and Lewis

How strange this saying sounds, ‘I die daily.’...But not every man knows and understand what he means, or what this dying is, or how it comes to pass, that he always carries death around his neck and is unceasingly tormented by it so that he feels more of death than of life. And yet at the same time he says he has the honour or glory of eternal life, although he has only a dim feeling of it, and often none at all. Thus there is a constant struggling and striving between life and death, sin and sanctity, a good and an evil conscience, joy and sorrow, hope and fear, faith and doubt; in short God and the devil, heaven and hell.—Martin Luther, Sermon, 1532

It would be rash to say that there is any prayer which God never grants. But the strongest candidate is the prayer we might express in the single word encore.And how should Infinite repeat Himself? All space and time are too little for Him to utter Himself in them once.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 289.

Patristic Quote of the Day

They tyranny of money is a powerful thing. Thought we are practiced in the other virtues, avarice brings the others to ruin.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 63 on St. Matthew


Besides, examples ought to be interpreted according to the rule, that is, according to sure and clear passages of Scripture, not against the rule or the passages. It is a sure thing that our observances do not merit forgiveness of sins or justification.—Ap XXVII:60, 61

19 November 2020

Matins and Vespers Light

Matins light, just before 7 a.m.:

And Vespers light, just before 5 p.m.:


I’m smelling that vacation...

...all my writing is done until Monday, Nov. 30 (shows are written through Dec. 11th). Tomorrow, God willing, we’ll record podcasts through Dec. 7. Sermon is done for tomorrow’s Matins at school; Prayers drafted for Saturday evening’s Divine Service. I think vacation is almost here, and am I ever ready. Last full week off was back in February, when we headed to Dominican Republic just ahead of the COVID storm. Then after thanksgiving break, back to work for three weeks, and hopefully then TWO full weeks off come Dec. 18th (well, except for preaching and celebrating for the Christmas Dawn liturgy and for the services for First Sunday after Christmas).. So looking forward to a little bit of a break! I love my work, but I’m also feeling fatigued. Ready to lay down the pen (or keyboard) for just a bit. And then to climb back in the saddle again!

Luther and Lewis

But now God in His grace maketh us weary and tired of this life and gives us the comfort of a better—that is, that He will soon appear in the clouds with great power and glory, and lift us up out of all our misery to everlasting joy, so that as far as we are concerned nothing better or more to be desired could happen to us.—Martin Luther, Sermon, 1531

I am beginning to feel that we need a preliminary act of submission not only towards possible future afflictions but also toward possible future blessings. I know it sounds fantastic; but think it over. It seems to me that we often, almost sulkily, reject the good that God offers us because, at that moment, we expected some other good.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 288 (Hence, the fruit you are eating is always the best fruit.)

Patristic Quote of the Day

In commanding this He was not in opposition to Moses but in full agreement with him. Notice how He validates covenant sexuality not from the creation alone but from God’s commandment. For He did not say God made only one man and one woman, but that God had also commanded that one man should be joined to the one woman.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 62 on St. Matthew


Callings are personal, just as matters of business themselves vary with times and persons; but the example of obedience is universal.—Ap. XXVII:49

Then there is the worship of saints, which is guilty of a double fault: it arrogates Christ’s place to the saints, and it worships them wickedly. Thus the Dominicans made up the rosary of the Blessed Virgin, which is mere babbling, as stupid as it is wicked, nourishing a false confidence.—Ap. XXVII:53

18 November 2020

Luther and Lewis

Because we have to live on earth, and so long as it is God’s will, we should eat, drink, woo, plant, build, and have house and home and what God grants, and use them as guests and strangers in a strange land, who know that they must leave all such things behind and take our staff out of this strange land and evil, homeward bound for our true fatherland where there is nothing but security, peace, rest, and joy forevermore.—Martin Luther, Sermon, 1531.

It would be even worse to think of those who get what they for as sort of court favourites, people who have influence with the throne. The refused prayer of Christ in Gethsemane is answer enough to that.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 287.

Patristic Quote of the Day

And we should not think about how many times we forgive, but we should cease to be angry with those who sin against us, as often as the occasion for anger exists. Pardon’s frequency shows us that in our case there is never a time for anger, since God pardons us for all sins in their entirety by His gift rather than by our merit.—St. Hilary of Poitiers, On Matthew 18


The poverty of the Gospel does not consist in the abandonment of property, but in absence of greed and of trust in riches. Thus David was poor in a very rich kingdom.—Ap XXVIII:46

17 November 2020

Luther and Lewis

Alas, the blessed hope and the heavenly inheritance are all too often forgotten, but the temporal life and the transitory realm on earth are all too much remembered. This transitory life we have unceasingly before our eyes, we think about it and care for it and are happy in it, but we turn our backs toward the everlasting life.—Martin Luther, Sermon, 1531

We are not mere recipients or spectators. We are either privileged to share in the game or compelled to collaborate in the work, ‘to wield our little tridents.’ Is this amazing process simply Creation going on before our eyes? This is how (no light matter) God makes something—indeed, makes gods—out of nothing.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 287.

Patristic Quote of the Day

[On “where two or three gather in My name...”] Some, however, endeavor to excuse under an appearance of faith the idleness that prompts their contempt for assemblies. They omit participation in the fervor of the assembled congregation and pretend that they have devoted to prayer the time they have expended on household cares. While they give themselves up to their own desires, they scorn and despise the divine service. These are the people who destroy the body of Christ. They scatter its members. They do not permit the full form of its Christ-like appearance to develop to its abundant beauty—that form which the prophet saw and then sang about: “You are beautiful in form above the sons of men.” 

Individual members do indeed have their own duty of personal prayer, but they will not be able to fulfill it if they come to the beauty of that perfect body wrapped up in themselves. There is a difference between the glorious fullness of the congregation and the vanity of separation that springs out of ignorance or negligence: in salvation and honor the beauty of the whole body is found in the unity of the members. But from separation of the viscera there is a foul, fatal, and fearful aroma.—St. Peter Chrysologus, Sermon 132


If we follow this, the monastic life will be no more a state of perfection than the life of a farmer or an artisan. These, too, are states for acquiring perfection. All men, whatever their calling, ought to seek perfection, that is, growth in the fear of God, in faith, and in love of their neighbor, and similar spiritual virtues.—Ap XXVII:37

It is written that when Anthony asked God to show him what progress he was making in his way of life, God pointed in a dream to a certain shoemaker in the city of Alexandria as a basis for comparison. The next day Anthony went into the city and came to the shoemaker to find out about his exercises and gifts. In his conversation with the man he did not hear anything, except that in the morning he prayed in a few words for the whole city and then paid attention to his business. Thus Anthony came to understand that justification was not to be attributed to the way of life he had undertaken.—Ap XXVII:38

16 November 2020

Luther and Lewis

But a Christian, on the other hand, as a new man, is equipped with very different and even contrary thoughts, so that he can be courageous and happy, even when he is passing through hard times; and in his heart he remembers that he possesses a great treasure even though he is poor; he is a powerful prince and lord when he is in prison; and surpassing strong when he is weak and ill, and in highest honour when he is disdained and reviled. Similarly, he will be quickened into newness of life, if he now has to die.—Martin Luther, Sermon, 1532

‘God’, said Pascal, ‘instituted prayer in order to lend to His creatures the dignity of causality.’ But not only prayer; whenever we act at all He lends us that dignity. It is not really stranger, nor less strange, that my prayers should affect the course of events than that my other actions should do so. They have not advised or changed God’s mind—that is, His over-all purpose. But that purpose will be realized in different ways according to the actions, including the prayers, of His creatures.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, pp. 286, 287.

Patristic Quote of the Day

No one is more truly a shepherd than Christ our God. One of his sheep has strayed. It is not the fault of the shepherd but of the sheep that had strayed from his flock. This one sheep is the man Adam, whom in the beginning the Lord had created in his image and likeness. This one strayed from the company of angels by sinning, and through him the entire human race strayed from God. Our Lord seeks to recall humanity from death to life. For it was for us that he went to death, so that he might make us alive, these who had died. For he rejoiced even more over the hundredth sheep that was lost than over the ninety and nine.—St. Epiphanius the Latin, Interpretation of the Gospels


As Bernard also says very powerfully, “First of all, you must believe you cannot have forgiveness of sins except by God’s indulgence; second, that you cannot have any good work at all unless he has given this too; finally, that by no works can you merit eternal life, but that this freely given as well.” Ap XXVII:32 [citing from Bernard of Clairvaux’s Sermon on the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.]

14 November 2020

New Article up on Lutheran Witness Blog

 Click here!

Luther and Lewis

But our Lord says, Be of good cheer; it will indeed be a terrible sight, but it is not against you but against the devil and the unbelievers. To you salvation is come and the joy of redemption, for which you have so long been sighing and praying, that My kingdom might come to you, cleansing you from all your sins and redeeming you from all evil. And what you have so long been praying for with all your heart shall then be given to you.—Martin Luther, Sermon on Populus Sion, 1544

Prayer is either a sheer illusion or a personal contact between embryonic, incomplete persons (ourselves) and the utterly concrete Person. Prayer in the sense of petition, asking for things, is a small part of it; confession and penitence are its threshold, adoration its sanctuary, and the presence and vision and enjoyment of God its bread and wine. In it God shows Himself to us. That He answers prayers is a corollary—not necessarily the most important one—from that revelation. What He does is learned from what He is.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 286.

Patristic Quote of the Day

When Jesus says, ‘The Son of Man came to save the lost,’ he points to the cross... It does not please the Father that anyone is lost. The shepherd leaves the ones that have been saved and seeks the one lost. And when he finds the one that has gone astray, he rejoices great at its discovery and at its safety.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 59 on St. Matthew.

Catechesis: Apology XXVII MONASTIC VOWS

Hence it is an intolerable blasphemy when Thomas* says that a monastic profession is equal to Baptism. It is madness to put a human tradition, which has neither a command of God nor a promise, on the same level with an ordinance of Christ which has both a command and a promise of God, which contains a covenant of grace and eternal life.—Ap XXVII:20

*St. Thomas Aquinas in Summa II, 2, q. 189: Hence we read in the Lives of the Fathers (vi, 1) that by entering religion [i.e., taking monastic vows] one receives the same grace as by being baptized.

Every time I look at the pic on the top of this blog...

...the plaintive words of Psalm 42:4 come to mind:

When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.

Sigh. A multitude.

O Lord, forgive us for ever taking for granted the unspeakable privilege of assembling together as a congregation. We praise you for the ability to gather, even in smaller portions together and ask You to preserve Your Word and Sacrament and common prayer among us. Yet above all we beg You to hasten the day when the congregation can assemble as one again and all the members of our parish family be together. O Lord, we miss one another dreadfully. We ask it in the holy and blessed name of Jesus! Amen.

13 November 2020

Luther and Lewis

All the Psalms give Christians strength in suffering—that is, they comfort us in our afflictions, so that our backs do not break, but we continue in hope and patience. Thus He lends to all Christians. That is His way. Any who does know that does not know what sort of a king Christ is.—Martin Luther, Sermon upon the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul

There are, no doubt, passages in the New Testament which may seem at first sight to promise an invariable granting of our prayers. But that cannot be what they really mean. For in the very heart of the story we meet a glaring instance to the contrary. In Gethsemane the holiest of all petitioners prayed three times that a certain cup might pass from Him. It did not. After that the idea that prayer is commended to us as a sort of infallible gimmick may be dismissed.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 284.

Patristic Quote of the Day

He is not saying this about human limbs (cutting them off). Far from it. This is said about friends, about relatives, whom we regard in the rank of necessary limbs. Jesus also said this earlier, and now he says it again. For nothing is so harmful as bad company.—St. John Chrysostom on St. Matthew 18:8


In the Confession we have said that the forgiveness of sins is received freely for Christ’s sake, through faith. If this is not the true voice of the Gospel, if it not the statement of the eternal Father which Thou who art in the bosom of the Father hast revealed to the world—then the charge against us is true. But thy death is a witness, thy resurrection is a witness, the Holy Spirit is a witness; the whole Church is a witness: this is truly the teaching of the Gospel that we receive forgiveness of sins not because of our merits but because of Thee, through faith.—Ap XXVII:13

12 November 2020

Wonderfully Handcrafted Bookshelves

And even built in! Thanks to the fine craftsmanship of our friend Tom Mertz for building these lovely cases. I absolutely love them. And the room is so much more spacious now that all the books are in one large case and not in several smaller ones.

Luther and Lewis

If you judge the Church according to reason and outward appearance you are wrong, for you see men who are sinful, weak, afraid, sad, wretched, persecuted, and hunted out of house and home. But when you see that they are baptised, believe in Christ, give evidence of their faith by bearing good fruits, take up their cross with patience and hope, you have seen the truth. That is the true color by which men may know the Christian Church.—Martin Luther, Sermon upon the Beheading of St. John the Baptist.

The essence of a request, as distinct from a compulsion, is that it may or may not be granted. And if an infinitely wise Being listens to requests of finite and foolish creatures, of course He will sometimes grant and sometimes refuse them.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 283.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Whenever the Lord speaks of future disaster, he always teaches its close relation with the happiness of redemption, so that when disasters suddenly come they do not terrify the apostles but may be borne by hearts that have premeditated them. If it saddens them that He is going to be killed, it ought to make them rejoice when He says, “On the third day He will arise again.”—St. Jerome on Matthew 17:22-23


We maintain that legitimate vows should be kept, but we are arguing about other questions. Do these services merit the forgiveness of sins and justification? Are they satisfactions for sins? Are they equal to Baptism? Are they “evangelical perfection”? Do they have merits of supererogation? Do these merits save others when they are transferred to them? Are vows made with these notions in mind legitimate?—Ap XXVII:9

11 November 2020

Luther and Lewis

For He must have enemies, and here on earth His Kingdom knows no settled peace. In the hereafter, in the life to come, there will be peace; but the Kingdom on this earth shall not know peace.—Martin Luther, Sermons, 1531

Well, here once again, the difficulty comes in thinking that God is progressing along the time line like us: the only difference being that He can see ahead and we cannot. Well, if that were true, if God foresaw our acts, it would be very hard to understand how we could be free not to do them. But suppose God is outside and above the timeline. In that case, what we call ‘tomorrow’ is visible to Him in just the same way as what we call ‘today.’ All the days are ‘Now’ for Him. He does not remember you doing things yesterday; He simply sees you doing them, because, though you have lost yesterday, He has not.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 281.

Patristic Quote of the Day

If a man prays that he may cast throw out someone else’s demons, how much more so that he may cast out his own avarice? How much more so that he may cast out his own drunkenness? How much more so that he may cast out his own dissipation? How much more so that he may cast out his own impurity? How great are the sins in human beings? If they persevere in them, they do not allow them to enter the kingdom of heaven!—St. Augustine, Sermon 80 on St. Matthew


Everyone knows how much hypocrisy, ambition, and greed there is in the monasteries; how ignorant and cruel these illiterate men are; and how vain are they are in their sermons and in thinking up new ways of making money. There are other vices, too, which we would rather not talk about.—Ap XXV:4

10 November 2020

Raised in Blessing


In the statue of the risen Christ, standing above the altar, His hands are raised in blessing as at the Ascension, and indeed, He seems to be fulfilling “the earth is my footstool” of the Psalter! But it’s more curious if you study the hands on the Crucifix. Because the fingers are set in the one hand in the manner in which the blessing is usually given in the Western Church; in the other hand, they are formed into the way the blessing is usually given in the Eastern Church. I have no idea who the artist was who did that, but it was brilliant. For both in His Ascension and in His Paschal Mystery, His hands are lifted in blessing toward us. He is the Blessed One who comes as the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham, the One who comes to bless every family of the human race. He is indeed the fulfillment of Numbers 6: The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you! The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace! Amen! Amen! Amen!

Advent Devotions Again

A reading of the first devotion.

Luther and Lewis

And that sword, he says, is the Word of God. For a sword of steel and iron would avail us nothing against the devil; it must be the sword of the Spirit.—Martin Luther, Sermon 1531.

You cannot fit Christ’s earthly life in Palestine into any time-relations with His life as God beyond all space and time. It is really, I suggest, a timeless truth about God that human nature, and the human experience of weakness and ignorance, are somehow included in His whole divine life.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 280.

Patristic Quote of the Day

“Listen to Him,” whom the mysteries of the law foreshadowed, of whom the mouth of the prophets sang. “Listen to Him” who by his blood redeemed the world, who binds the devil and seizes his vessels, who breaks the debt of sin and the bondage of iniquity. “Listen to Him” who opens the way to heaven and by the pain of the cross prepares for you the steps of ascent into His kingdom.—Pope St. Leo the Great, Sermon 38

Catechesis: Ap XXIV THE MASS

Epiphanius testifies that Aerius believed that prayers for the dead were useless. We do not support Aeirus either.—Ap. XXIV:96

Carnal men cannot stand it when the sacrifice of Christ is honored as the only propitiation.—Ap. XXIV:97

We most zealously preserve the dignity of the Mass, we show its proper use, and we have most valid reasons for disagreeing with our opponents.—Ap. XXIV:99

When you’ve been hanging out together

For nigh on 50 years, it’s weird how the non-verbal communication actually does work. I walked out of the sacristy on Sunday and Cindi looked at me with a goofy smile. It took me no longer than the time to sit down to translate: Kantor was pulling one of Carlo’s pet tricks. She was improvising on the Hymn of the Day for a prelude, but in minor mode rather than the major mode it was written in. Our friend Carlo did this ALL the time. And it just made her smile to remember our old friend, and that made me smile. We then settled in and enjoyed the same musical treat from our new Kantor. All that back and forth with a glance. 

Ha! Sirach joy for the day

A cheerful and good heart will have a care of his meat and diet. Sirach 30:25

09 November 2020

Proverbs 15:15 “He that is of a merry heart...

...hath a continual feast.” And is not this our calling, people loved by God? Has not Christ our Savior given us abundant cause for a merry heart? He Himself is the Propitiation for our sins and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world! He Himself has promised us “Whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” He Himself has assured us through His holy apostle that He works all things for the good of those who love Him. He has promised us nothing less than the Kingdom. He consoles us that those we lose in this life who die in Him are not truly lost to us at all. He promises that He will wipe away all the tears from our eyes and that He cares for us so that we can indeed cast every care of our lives upon Him. 

When we think of it, how can we NOT have a merry heart enjoying the continual feast that He has summoned us into? Luther once said that the devil is a sad spirit. True indeed. What sorrow is greater than definitive rejection of Him who alone is our joy and our life. “The joy of the Lord is your strength!” And no wonder the man could preach upon the Annunciation: “But for a man who belongs to everlasting kingdom all is well, and it is fitting that he should dance through life forevermore!” (Sermon, 1544) Oh, Lord, give us one and all merry hearts that we may witness Your joy in our lives.

Luther and Lewis

Such is a Christian heart and such is its appearance and form, as St. Paul says in these words, namely, that from the bottom of his heart he is thrilled and delighted and gives thanks to God that others are coming into the fellowship of the Gospel; and he is full of confidence toward those who have begun to believe and takes their salvation to heart, and rejoices in it as much as in his own salvation and does not know how to thank God enough for it.—Martin Luther, Sermon, 1544

God is not hurried along in the time stream of this universe any more than author is hurried along in the imaginary time of his own novel. He has infinite attention to spare for each one of us. He does not have to deal with us in the mass. You are as much alone with Him as if you were the only being He had ever created. When Christ died, He died for you individually just as much as if you had been the only man in the world.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 279

Patristic Quote of the Day

You go astray, Peter, just as the other Evangelists attests: you do not know what you are saying. Do not seek three tabernacles. Seek only the tabernacle of the gospel in which the law and the prophets are to be recapitulated. By seeking three tabernacles you appear to be comparing incommensurably the two servants with the one Lord. Seek only the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, for in these there is one God, who is to be worshipped in the tabernacle of your heart.—St. Jerome, Commentary on Matthew 

Catechesis: Ap XXIV THE MASS

Our opponents quote the Fathers on offerings for the dead. We know that the ancients spoke about prayer for the dead. We do not forbid this, but we rather reject the transfer of the Lord’s Supper to the dead ex opere operato. The ancients do not support the opponents idea of the transfer ex opere operato.—Ap. XXIV:94

*On ex opere operato a friend once offered this very helpful observation, at it’s heart it means that the sacrament “works” even when it is not “received.” Thus, the Sacrament of which Christ said: “eat and drink” is applied (in the imagination of some) to those who do not in fact receive it, and is thought in someway to benefit them (particularly the dead).

Sirach 28

This weekend, being Trinity 22, I preached upon Peter’s question about limits on forgiveness and our Lord’s parable of the Unforgiving Servant. This morning’s first reading from Sirach 28 included: “Forgive thy neighbour the hurt that he hath done unto thee, so shall thy sins also be forgiven when thou prayest. One man beareth hatred against another, and doth he seek pardon from the Lord? He sheweth no mercy to a man, which is like himself; and doth he ask forgiveness of his own sins? If he that is but flesh nourish hatred, who will intreat for pardon of his sins? Remember thy end, and let enmity cease; remember corruption and death and abide in the commandments. Remember the commandment and bear no malice to thy neighbor; remember the covenant of the Highest, and wink at ignorance.”

07 November 2020

Image of St. Paul

From south wall of Nave.   

Our parish’s patron saint:  

And the living room

 Transformed into a recording studio again. 

Glorious Autumn Day


06 November 2020

Luther and Lewis

For where God through His Word and faith has gathered together a Church, the devil cannot be at peace, and where he cannot achieve her destruction through sectarianism he strikes at her with persecution and violence, so that we must risk our body and life in the fight, and all we have.—Martin Luther, Sermon, 1544

People already knew about God in a vague way. Then came a man who claimed to be God; and yet was not the sort of man you could dismiss as a lunatic. He made them believe Him. They met Him again after they had seen Him killed. And then, after they had been formed into a little society or community, they found God somehow inside them as well: directing them, making them able to do things they could not before. And when they worked it all out they found they had arrived at the Christian definition of the three-personal God.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 277.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Wherefore I admonish both you, and surely before you myself, to be crucified to the world, and to have nothing in common with the earth, but to set your love on your country above, and the glory and the good things that come from it. For indeed we are soldiers of a heavenly King, and are clad with spiritual arms. —St. John Chrysostom, Homily 54 Matthew

Catechesis: Ap XXIV THE MASS

Our opponents cannot produce a syllable from the Scriptures in support of the fairy tales which they teach so authoritatively in the church; nor do they have the support of the ancient church and the Fathers.... They [the Fathers] make it clear that they are talking about thanksgiving; hence they call it “eucharist.” We already said that a eucharistic sacrifice does not merit reconciliation but comes from the reconciled, just as afflictions do not merit reconciliation but are eucharistic sacrifices when the reconciled endure them.—Ap XXIV:65, 66, 67

05 November 2020

Luther and Lewis

Yet each Christian should be so armed that he himself is sure of his belief and of the doctrine and is so equipped with sayings from the Word of God that he can stand against the devil and defend himself, when men seek to lead him astray, and so help to fight the battle for the maintaining of true doctrine.—Martin Luther, Sermons from 1531

It is only the Christians who have any idea of how human souls can be taken into the life of God and yet remain themselves—in fact, be very much more themselves than they were before.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 276.

Patristic Quote of the Day

The devil is the gateway of death who always hastens to stir up against the holy church calamities and temptations and persecutions. But the faith of the apostle, which was founded upon the rock of Christ, abides always unconquered and unshaken.—St. Epiphanius, Interpretation of the Gospels

Catechesis: Ap XXIV THE MASS

In the Old Testament as in the New, the saints had to be justified by faith in the promise of the forgiveness of sins given for Christ’s sake. Since the beginning of the world, all the saints have had to believe that Christ would be the offering and satisfaction for sin, as Is. 53:10 teaches, “When He makes Himself an offering for sin.”—Ap XXIV:55

04 November 2020

Luther and Lewis

No, my dear man, do not recommend to me peace and unity when thereby God’s Word is lost, for then eternal life and everything else would be lost. In this matter than can be no yielding, nor giving way, nor for love of you or any other person, but everything must yield to the Word, whether it be friend or foe.—Martin Luther, Sermon, 1531.

What man, in his natural condition, has not got, is spiritual life—the higher and different sort of life that exists in God. We use the same word life for both: but if you though that both must therefore be the same sort of thing, that would be like thinking that the ‘greatness’ of space and the ‘greatness’ of God were the same sort of greatness.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 275.

Patristic Quote of the Day

And I say unto you, You are Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church (Matthew 16:18) that is, on the faith of his confession.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 54 on St. Matthew

Catechesis: Ap XXIV THE MASS

By the blessing of God, the priests in our churches pay attention to the ministry of the Word, they teach the Gospel of the blessings of Christ, and they show that the forgiveness of sins comes freely for Christ’s sake. This teaching really consoles consciences. They add to it the teaching of the good works which God commands, and they talk about the value and use of the sacraments.—Ap XXIV:48

The real adornment of the churches is godly, practical, and clear teaching, the godly use of the sacraments, ardent prayer and the like. Candles, golden vessels, and ornaments like that are fitting, but they are not the peculiar adornment of the church.—Ap XXIV:51

03 November 2020

Luther and Lewis

Thus, then, we must act. When they threaten our life we must suffer it and give love for hate and good for evil. But when they attack the Gospel, they attack God’s honour. Then love and patience must end and we must not remain silent, but we must also speak out.—Martin Luther, Sermons 1525

To beget is to become the father of; to create is to make. And the difference is this. When you beget, you beg something of the same kind as yourself.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 275.

Patristic Quote of the Day

(Upon this rock...) This is not the property of Peter alone, but it came about on behalf of every human being. Having said that his confession is a rock, he stated that upon this rock I will build my church. This means that he will build his church upon the same confession and faith.—Theodore of Mopsuestia (Fragment 92)

Catechesis: Ap XXIV THE MASS

Although the ceremony is a memorial of the death of Christ, therefore, it is not the daily sacrifice by itself; the commemoration is the real daily sacrifice, the proclamation, and the faith which truly believes that by the death of Christ God has been reconciled.—Ap XXIV:38

02 November 2020

Luther and Lewis

They [all Christians] fight against the devil who leads the world astray, and there is here on earth no other war than the fight against this seduction. And that is why this war is not waged with armour, sword, pike, or musket, or with bodily or human power, but with the Word alone, as it is written, ‘they overcame him by the word of their testimony.’—Martin Luther, Sermon 1544.

Of course I pray for the dead. The action is so spontaneous, so all but inevitable, that only the most compulsive theological case against it would deter me. And I hardly know how the rest of my prayers would survive if those for the dead were forbidden. At our age the majority of those we love best are dead. What sort of intercourse with God could I have if what I love best were unmentionable to Him?—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 273.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Now as a physician am I come, then I shall be here as a judge; now to seek that which is gone astray, then to demand an account. Therefore in a hidden manner am I come, but then with much publicity, folding up the heaven, hiding the sun, not suffering the moon to give her light. Then ‘the very powers of the heavens shall be shaken.’—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 53 on St. Matthew

Catechesis: Ap. XXIV THE MASS

The slaughter of the animals in the Old Testament symbolized both the death of Christ and the proclamation of the Gospel which should kill this old flesh and begin a new and eternal life in us... The New Testament requires sacrifices of the heart, not the ceremonial sacrifices for sin offered by a Levitical priesthood.—Ap XXIV:34