Monday, January 31, 2011

FW: Gold Vestments and Paraments

Click to read more on the gold just shown…


Feed: Cyberstones-A Lutheran Blog
Posted on: Monday, January 31, 2011 10:28 AM
Author: Petersen
Subject: Gold Vestments and Paraments


A explanation of vestments, including the mitre, and the gold vestments in particular

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FW: Congratulations, Fr. Petersen

Glory and splendor…


Feed: Gottesdienst Online
Posted on: Monday, January 31, 2011 12:52 PM
Author: Pr. H. R.
Subject: Congratulations, Fr. Petersen




Our own departmental editor, Fr. David Petersen, was fêted by the loving people of Redeemer as well as the bishop of the English District this past Sunday on the occasion of a double anniversary: 15 years since receiving Holy Orders and 10 years as Pastor of Redeemer.




I mention it here not only because of Fr. Petersen's connection to the journal, but also because of one interesting liturgical reason and one point of familial pride. First, the latter point: my mom made all the vestments and paraments which were donated by a friend of Redeemer for this occasion. They are beautiful, if I don't say so myself. If you or your parish is interested in such appointments, I can put you in touch with her.


But now the liturgical point - thanks to the example of the Rt. Rev. Obare at the installation of President Harrison, Fr. Petersen had the idea of reintroducing the full vesture of the bishop at Redeemer - so Bishop Stechholz carried not only his usual crozier but also wore the mitre. As the wide world of Confessional Lutheranism gets wider, we in the Missouri Synod are learning a lot from our brethren in societies that have not had to live through the same history we have. In Siberia and Kenya they wear the mitre and keep the traditional form of church governance as the Confessions say we desire. They don't have the US's sad history of virulent anti-catholicism and anti-clericalism. Now that we have more contact with our brothers around the world, it is hoped that we will not only teach and lead but also learn and follow.



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FW: Tell The Good News About Jesus



Feed: Brent Kuhlman
Posted on: Monday, January 31, 2011 2:07 PM
Author: Brent Kuhlman
Subject: Tell The Good News About Jesus


Tell the Good News About Jesus Convocation / Wyoming District LCMS

Casper, WY

29 January 2011


Matthew 28:16-20


The Lord Jesus has died for all.  Bore the sin of many.  Numbered with the transgressors.  He didn't leave anyone out of His Good Friday.  He died for all sin.  Can you name any sinner or any sin that Jesus didn't die for?  I didn't think so!  He did the salvation job that only He could do.  "It is finished."  He did it unshakably!   


And now He's freshly risen from the dead.  He truly is God's Son.  And He's been given all authority in heaven and on earth!  Imagine that!  It's no wonder.  After all, in Matthew 9 we heard already how the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.  That's the authority of God Himself!  Now we hear it again.  And ratcheted up!  "All authority."  Where? Not only on the earth but even in heaven too! Everywhere! Nothing, no one, and no place are outside of the crucified and risen Christ's authority.


And so All Authority In Heaven and On Earth Jesus meets the Eleven.  He goes to them.  Good thing.  They've lost one.  Twelve minus Judas.  The eleven worship AND doubt.  Bipolar eleven.  Worship-doubters!  We'd have no use for them.  We'd send them home.  "Thanks boys for your time.  It's been a nice three years.  But the job Jesus has for you is just too big for the like of you.  Thanks for your worship.  That's nice.  But you can't be doubting and get the job of making disciples of all nations done.  We've taken a vote.  We have no confidence in you! You're all just too shaky and unreliable for us. So here are eleven Jacksons for cab fare.  Good luck!"


And what does Jesus do?  He sends the eleven anyway!  All confidence must be in Him!  All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him.  Not you.  Not me.  Not the eleven.  He's the Lord.  He's the one who died and rose from the dead!  Remember, He came to them.  He's in charge.  He's in control.  Everything depends on Him – who died – who rose – who has been given all authority -- everywhere!


So Christ speaks!  His Word always comes first!  "Make disciples."  That's the imperative.  The main verb.  His mandate.  "Make disciples of all nations by baptizing and teaching."  Baptizing in the Triune Name and teaching everything that Jesus has given.  Not one or the other.  Both.


What an incredible task!  Make disciples of all nations by baptizing and teaching.  Who could do such a thing?  Can only Eleven get the job done?  Can the professional clergy?  We have to hurry!  Chop! Chop!  Faster!  Faster!  We panic.  We despair.  We play the blame game.  If we believe that it's all up to us.


Good thing Jesus speaks up again.  It's a wonderful promise.  "Look, I'm with you always.  I'm not leaving.  I unshakably won salvation for everyone!  Now I'll see to it that salvation's bestowal is unshakably delivered.  For to be baptized in God's Name, like I just said, is to be baptized by God Himself!  Anyone who is baptized in the Name of the Father has God as his Father!  Anyone baptized in the Name of the Son receives all the benefits of My bloody Good Friday death.  Anyone baptized in the Name of the Holy Spirit receives the life giving, life-sustaining power and presence of the Spirit."


"I'll see to this making disciples bit.  You just be my instruments.  Pastors:  I have good use for you.  Speak my words as I've mandated.  Pour on the water. For in my words of Holy Baptism I'm speaking, I'm forgiving, I'm saving.  People: I have good use for you too.  Do my bidding and bring your children to the font.  Bring them to church to hear my Word.  Teach them what I've done for them.  And if you want to invite your neighbors, bring them too.  I won't turn them away.  They can be my disciples as well.  After all, all authority in heaven and earth has been given to me.  I died.  I rose.  I'm the Savior.  For the Eleven.  For you.  And for all nations."


In the Name of Jesus. 

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FW: New Lutheran Quote of the Day




Feed: Weedon's Blog
Posted on: Monday, January 31, 2011 1:16 PM
Author: (William Weedon)
Subject: New Lutheran Quote of the Day


Faith receives from the Lord; love gives to the neighbor. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, CTM Vol. 61, No. 4, p. 298.

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Resources Received

Burkee, James C. Foreword by Martin E. Marty. Power, Politics, and the Missouri Synod: A Conflict That Changed American Christianity. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2011. 256 Pages. Cloth. $29.00. (LHP)

Steele, Roland. Psalter Cycle A. Corpus Christi, TX: Roland Publishing, 2006. Spiral Bound. $29.95.  (LH) 

Steele, Roland. Psalter Cycle B. Corpus Christi, TX: Roland Publishing, 2006. Spiral Bound. $29.95.  (LH) 

Steele, Roland. Psalter Cycle C. Corpus Christi, TX: Roland Publishing, 2004. Spiral Bound. $29.95.  (LH) 

FW: Great Review of “Lutheranism 101″

On L101…


Feed: Cyberbrethren Lutheran Blog Feed
Posted on: Monday, January 31, 2011 8:12 AM
Author: Paul T. McCain
Subject: Great Review of "Lutheranism 101″


Our friends in Canada posted a great review of Lutheranism 101 in the Canadian Lutheran Online. Here it is:

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Hello there! If you are new here, you might want to subscribe to the RSS feed for updates on this topic.

by Garry Heintz

When Lutheranism 101 first came out, pictures floated about on Facebook of people "caught" with their nose in the book. LCMS President Matt Harrison; a pastor eating sushi; a bust of Luther; an Octoberfest band; people's pets and children. Even a few Canadians were found reading it! So who should read this book?

Although the title implies it is an introduction for those with little exposure to the Christian faith, Lutheranism 101 is a great resource to help any Christian understand why historic, reformation Christianity believes, teaches, and practices the faith as it does.

The editors and authors (including LCC's Rev. Michael Keith) have ensured that Lutheranism 101 is an easy read for anyone. There are margin notes with quotes from Luther, explanations of Biblical words, Bible verses, and insights into the practice of the faith. The book opens with a quick-start guide and throughout provides resources like "How Should We Pray," "Christian Denominations," and "Bible Study Tools."

Getting into the text, Lutheranism 101 goes through the main teachings of Christianity, but it is not a Mere Christianity-type book. It doesn't only deal with articles of the faith on which most Christians agree: Who is God? What is sin? Who is Jesus? What has He done for us? The authors deal with all these basics of the Christian faith with the Lutheran emphasis on the Gospel.

And like the Lutheran Church, Lutheranism 101 strives to keep Jesus at the centre of its teaching. For example, while many churches make prophecy a confusing maze to navigate, this book simply explains the return of Christ as a joyful hope of the resurrection.

While much of Christianity is trying to look indistinguishable from the world, this book isn't afraid to say, "Here is what Lutheranism is." For example, the church isn't just a group of like-minded individuals, but it is every redeemed sinner. God then gathers His Church to hear His Word and receive His gifts from men set apart for that task.

Lutheranism 101 is not designed to be a new edition of the Catechism

Lutheranism 101 offers no apologies when it presents the Word of God as the source for all Christian teaching, understood through the lens of Law and Gospel. The Word of God is applied to sinners, calling them to repentance and to the places where Jesus works through His Word to give forgiveness in Baptism, Absolution, and the Lord's Supper.

So how did the Lutherans start teaching these things? A look at Luther's life and times presents Luther's rediscovery of the Gospel and how the Church has continued in that message. Christ's saving work prompts Christians to gather for the Divine Service, the weekly gathering of believers, to receive God's gifts. Having received God's gifts, Christians live out the life of faith to the glory of God. Jesus' saving work moves Christians to sacrifice for the sake of others and for the further proclamation of Jesus, visible for the entire world to see. That's what you get in Lutheranism 101.

Some may criticize the book as being too traditional, spending too much time on things like history and worship. However, tradition is simply that which is handed on. The purpose of this book is to pass on that which is at the heart of the Christian faith. Likewise, some may gripe that this book doesn't delve deeply enough into the core Christian teachings: it doesn't look at each of the commandments; it doesn't spend enough time focusing on prayer. But Lutheranism 101 is not designed to be a new edition of the Catechism.

However, in one of the appendices Lutheranism 101 points readers to other books which make up a Christian library. Other valuable resources in the appendices include timelines for Biblical and Christian history, overviews of major events and people who have gone before us in the faith, and a glossary of important words.

Perhaps the best comparison for Lutheranism 101 is a retract-a-bit screwdriver. It isn't a specialized tool. It doesn't fit every situation, but it sure is handy to have.

Pick up a copy. Use it to help your children with their confirmation homework. Use it for Bible study or adult instruction. Use it to remind yourself of the great good news of Jesus at work in your life. And get "caught" reading Lutheranism 101, so you can pass it on to a friend, a family member, or a co-worker who would also benefit from a better understanding of God's gifts for them!

Rev. Garry Heintz is pastor at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Kakabeka Falls, Ontario.

Lutheranism 101 (309 pages, various authors) is published by Concordia Publishing House and is available online.

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

FW: New Lutheran Quote of the Day



Feed: Weedon's Blog
Posted on: Sunday, January 30, 2011 1:32 PM
Author: (William Weedon)
Subject: New Lutheran Quote of the Day


There is no two-level church with clergy above and laity below, or laity above (who hires and fires) and clergy below, or two churches, one visible and the other invisible.  There are no levels - only where our Lord has put himself there for us (dir da) to give out his saving gifts as he has ordained the Means of Grace to do, and put the Predigtamt there for the giving out of his gifts surely located in the Means of Grace. -- Dr. Norman Nagel,  CTM Vol. 61, No. 4, pp. 286.

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FW: Innovation is not always our friend...

We can rebuild him…


Feed: Pastoral Meanderings
Posted on: Sunday, January 30, 2011 4:35 AM
Author: (Pastor Peters)
Subject: Innovation is not always our friend...


While innovation is generally regarded as the primary American contribution to the world, innovation in the area of religion and faith is not always, I would go further and say seldom, is a good thing.  While it is true that we as Americans have innovated our way from one product to another, from one industrial leap to another, we have also been responsible for innovations that have caused great harm to the Christian faith and to our Lord's Church.  Sadly, Americans seem to be better at innovation than production, for as soon as we perfect something new, it seems to head outside our borders to be mass produced by someone else.  And therein lies its problem with respect to religion and faith.  We are very good at new things but not so good at keeping faith and keeping old things going.

On one level this means that American Christians are as enamored with the newest congregation and the latest trends in worship, music, and education as they are with the lastest trends in fashion, technology, etc.  There has been some work that shows that for all the new churches begun in America, the membership of these new churches reflects more a shuffling of people out of one church and into another than making a big impact upon the unchurched.  Christians in America seem to be great at adapting to new things but not so good at sticking with them.  So they shop for a new church when the current one they attend seems to be getting old, familiar, or predictable.  Look at the lifespan of some of these new churches and you see that some of them are considered very old if they have been around for 25 years.

It seems an American perspective that everything can be improved.  Like the $6 Million Man of TV long ago, "We can rebuild him, we have the technology... better than he was before, better, stronger, faster..."  -- only what we are rebuilding is not some bionic man but a Christian faith and identity.  Where this attitude is a virtue and blessing in some areas, it is terribly destructive in others.  The Christian faith is not some product to be improved with truths and facts that must be changed.  No, the faith is something we need to rediscover because the work of sin, temptation, and trial is always pushing it away from us.  This faith is not raw material to be formed but that which forms us with its changeless truth.

On the store shelves we walk by old familiar products with "New and Improved" on the label.  The great temptation for us as Americans is to take our grandfathers faith and church and make it new or improve it.  But that which makes it new and that which improves it are not the efforts of a modern day people looking at an age old church.  No, that which improves it is nothing less the return to our roots, to the source.  That source is Christ, rooted in history as man incarnate and timeless as the Son of God whose Word spoke all things into existence and to whom all things flow toward their final completion.

Doctrine is not some evolutionary truth as some would say (i. e. old "friend" Bart Ehrman) but the priceless pearl which must be daily reborn within us through repentance and the power of the Spirit, to which even the Church must daily return.  Doctrine and faith are not evolving or changing but rather that which does not change and which we regularly mine in the bottomless truth of the Scripture.  We truly know the depth of the wisdom and fullness of God only in part, through a mirror dimly, but it is not the mirror that needs to be changed and transformed by its truth and power -- rather those who stand before this mirror looking, searching, and seeking.

"What's new?  Not much...." so says the storied introduction to a popular radio show.  We might well echo the same truth -- not in the regret of a people who have not made it better, innovated, or transformed the Church and her faith but with the confidence of a people who know the changeless Christ even in the midst of our constantly changing world.  This is the hallmark of who we are.  The hard truth in all of this is that with each passing generation we become more distant from the Biblical times and the changes of our culture and life make it more difficult to read the Scriptures.  The only lens that can clarify what change and distance have clouded is the Holy Spirit and He is come not to reveal all things but all things in Christ.

Just a few thoughts as we are about to begin another Sunday in the Lord's House....

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

FW: Tear It Out of the Hymnal!



Feed: Cyberbrethren Lutheran Blog Feed
Posted on: Saturday, January 29, 2011 4:10 AM
Author: Paul T. McCain
Subject: Tear It Out of the Hymnal!


I get a lot of interesting communications from across the Missouri Synod here at Concordia Publishing House, on a wide variety of topics and issues. Just when I think I've seen or heard it all, I see something that I've never seen before. That happened again recently. A pastor gave us a lot of feeback and input on a wide variety of resources. He told us he has been in the ministry for twenty-five years. He commented on Lutheran Service Book and declared that only 40% of the hymns in it are "singable." Ok. But it got more interesting. He said he likes some of the liturgies in it, but not others. Then he said, and this is a direct quote: "Some of it is not so good, DS II.  I told my secretary to tear it out of the hymnals."

Hmmmmm….a pastor directing his secretary to "tear it out of the hymnals." Really?

The older I get, and that seems to be happening more quickly than before, I am struck, over and over and over again, but how far removed we are from the spirit of our fathers when it comes to respecting the collective will of the Church when it comes to matters of adiaphora. The principle that what has neither been commanded, nor forbidden, is therefore free has been horribly abused among us to mean now, "Whatever is adiaphora doesn't matter and you can do whatever you want with it."

At the time of the Reformation the idea was that although we have freedom, we also have obligations to one another, therefore, I'm not free to thumb my nose at the church's collective will in matters such as this. And so, here we have a pastor directing a parish secretary to deface the church's hymnal because he, the pastor, in his vast and infinite wisdom, decides he doesn't like Divine Service II, therefore, he, the pastor, has the right to take his congregation's hymnals and tear a chunk out of them.

Am I wrong in my thinking here? Or does this perfectly illustrate a problem that is pandemic among us?

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FW: Lose the Presence of Christ, Lose the Church

On Presence…


Feed: Gnesio
Posted on: Friday, January 28, 2011 5:48 PM
Author: driley
Subject: Lose the Presence of Christ, Lose the Church


If we do not take what Scripture says concerning the presence of Christ with complete seriousness, then we have a wrong understanding of Christ. Then we also have a wrong understanding of His Church. Then we have a mental construct of Christ in place of the real Christ and in place of the real Church in which Jesus Christ is really present according to both His divinity and His humanity we have a dream church, a mere community of spirits in which Christ is only spiritually present just as He was prior to His incarnation. Then the Church ceases to be what it has been in the world ever since the incarnation of Christ, His death and His resurrection, and the institution of the Supper, to wit, the place of God's love among men, a spiritual and bodily community in which we are in Christ and Christ is in us.

The reason why our fathers contended for the pure doctrine of the Sacrament of the Altar is that they knew all of this. They recognized the consequences that an inadequate and false understanding of the Lord's Supper must have for the whole doctrine and life of the Church. We are not ashamed of their ardent struggle. For when she has followed the Reformer in taking with utmost seriousness the inextricably related questions of the faithful administration and the right understanding of this Sacrament, the Evangelical Lutheran Church has never been set on the enthronement of preferred opinions and confessional peculiarities. What is at stake for her is the supreme value for which the Church can and must wage her warfare, namely the absolute validity of the divine Word. In times past and present her struggle does not aim at securing a "Lutheran" Supper but a Biblical Lord's Supper and therefore the Biblical Church and the Christ of the Bible. In this process she has always acted on the assumption that Scripture's teaching on the Supper is not something yet to be discovered by future synods and theological conferences, but that it has already long since been found and can be seen by everyone who reads the New Testament in faith in Christ without ideological preconceptions.

Perhaps the Church of coming ages will be the first to understand what service the Church of the Lutheran Reformation has performed for the whole of Christendom by this untiring testimony in doctrine and life: the Sacrament can be rightly administered only where the Gospel is purely taught, and the proclamation of the Gospel can remain pure only where Christ's Sacrament is rightly celebrated. Just as continual celebration of the Sacrament must keep the Church's proclamation from ending up as mere doctrinaire theology, so likewise constant care for pure doctrine must protect the celebration of the Sacrament from sinking into cultic mysticism and magic. Word and Sacrament, Gospel and Lord's Supper, belong indissolubly together, because Christ the Lord is present in them and through them builds His Church on earth in divine omnipotence and love. This He does neither through the Word alone, nor through the Sacrament alone, but through both together.

- from Hermann Sasse, 'We Are Not Ashamed of Their Ardent Struggle'

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FW: Theological Assertion

On (small-c) catholicity…


Feed: Confessional Gadfly
Posted on: Friday, January 28, 2011 11:21 AM
Author: Rev. Eric J Brown
Subject: Theological Assertion


Theological Assertion - Contemporary Worship Denies the Catholicity of the Church

I don't think I'm going to flesh this out fully - I'm fighting off some bug. But here is the point - contemporary worship denies the catholicity of the church.

When we confess that the Church is "Catholic" we are saying that it is Universal. Often, we think of this idea of "universal" as being mainly world-wide - a spacial focus on universality.

That's only one dimension (or three, if you prefer). To be universal means to be present not only in all places but in all times. That the Church is present in the past, is present now, and shall be present until the end of the world (because where Christ is preached and the Sacraments are administered, the Church will be). There is a temporal catholicity that is included in the Christian faith.

Contemporary worship fundamentally flies against this, as it tends to emphasize merely the present. It tries to make worship something tied merely to the present rather than the eternal.

Of course, contemporary worship also tends to be contra-catholic in terms of space, as well, buying into a very localized concept.

It becomes a matter of collective ego - we're here, we'll do what we want to do to praise God. It cuts off a sense of history, of growth, of development. It does not seek to refine and improve, but to be "creative".

Now, we are in specific times and places. I'm not going to argue that worship must be in Latin or only according to plainsong... but our time and place should not overwhelm worship, but rather fit and coincide -- it should be that what we see is the present and local manifestation of the Church Catholic, not an experiment in trying to ride the current trends in order to appeal to people.

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FW: You Must Also Read the Things in Red



Feed: Pastoral Meanderings
Posted on: Friday, January 28, 2011 9:03 AM
Author: (Pastor Peters)
Subject: You Must Also Read the Things in Red


Rubrics.  A rubric is a word or section of text which is written or printed in red ink to highlight it. The term derives from the rubrica, meaning red ochre or red chalk, and originates in Medieval illuminated manuscripts from the 13th century or earlier.  Rubrics are authoritative rules of conduct or procedure or glosses in the text (explanations or definitions of an obscure word in a text) or directions for the conduct of Christian church services (often printed in red in a prayer book).
If you look through the hymnal or missal, you find these red notes all over the place.  They tell us such things as when to sit or stand or kneel... when to make the sign of the cross... when to sing a hymn...  They tell the Pastor when to face the people and when to face the altar, among many other things.  They direct the usages or practices of the Church (colors of the season, directions for preparing the elements for the Sacraments, and even what to do with what remains of the Eucharist (the reliquae).  And I could go on and on...

Brother Weedon has been publishing some of the rubrics from Lutheran Service Book in his wonderful blog.  I have been reading them and even posted a comment there.  The whole thing reminded me that too often the Pastors and people only read the stuff in black and too often forget or even ignore what is printed in red.  It is printed in red to get our attention.  As so many have noted, we are to do the red and say the black.  It is hardly complicated but, unfortunately for our Church, it is a simple thing too often overlooked at the expense of faithful doctrine and practice.

I venture to say that you have not read the book if you have not read the rubrics.  If you do not know the rubrics, you do not know the liturgy.  They go hand in hand -- the words which we say and the directions that tell us how and what to do.  They are not incidental because our practice is formed by our faith and our practice reflects what it is we truly believe.  So, for example, if our practice is sloppy or slovenly, then we are in essence telling people that what we are doing is not important.  Lord knows that there are already too many messages about the stuff of worship telling our people that this stuff is not important.  Pastors do not need to encouraging them or adding to these hints that how we do things is of little consequence.


The sad truth is that we did not pay much attention to the rubrics back when the hymnal was dated 1941 and the directions were in black italic and we do not pay much more attention to them today, even with the nice, deep red color to draw our attention to them.  It is to our poverty that we ignore the red.  Those who ignore the red seem prone to rewording the black.


We have a perfectly good way to introduce the lessons but so often the person reading (lay or ordained) seems determined to make up something new.  One of the worst habits formed from ignoring the red is the idea that we should greet the people with  a hearty good morning before we plow into the Word of God.  It makes me wonder what goes through our heads sometimes.  Reading the lessons means reading the Word of God so that the attention is on the Word and not the reader -- so why draw attention to who you are by hollaring out a "Goober says hey" before the reading?  Better to borrow from the Orthodox if we must ad lib:  "Wisdom!  Attend!"  But the easiest thing of all would simply be to pay attention to the rubrics.

The rubrics are put there not because some anal retentive type insists upon uniformity -- some German attribute of lock step precision drilling.  They were put there because it is not enough to care about doctrine in the abstract.  We care about it in the specific and concrete of the liturgy -- what we do and how we do it.  Some folks think I am terribly persnickety  Really I am not.  I know some folks who really get into the nitty gritty of rubrical conformity and precision.  I am not one of them.  But I care about what we do and how we do it -- I care because it reflects upon the Word and Sacraments of God.  We hold that good practice is an extension of faithful doctrine.  It is really that simple.

It is not that the rubric police will show up and cart you off if you ignore the red while making up your own black.  It is not that heaven will fall to the ground and the work of God's kingdom will crash to a halt because you skipped a liturgical direction printed in red.  It is not that the means of grace will be rendered impotent because you forgot a bow or turned the wrong way.  Nobody is saying this.  I am not saying this.  But if what we are doing as representatives (ikons) of the Lord is important, if we believe that God actually works through His Word and Sacraments, then a little care about how we do what we do and what we do is not only good, it is salutary and beneficial.  And, believe you me, people notice. 


People learn through seeing how we do what we do as well as what we do.  I once watched a waitress pick up a knife off the floor, wipe it on her apron, and place it back on the table.  Now I am a firm practitioner of the five second rule when it comes to things dropped.  But it is a little unseemly when you catch somebody practicing the home rule in public.  So Pastors remember that you are not at home, you are in public.  People are watching.  Read those lines printed in red.  See what they say and try to follow them.  Read them often enough so that you know them as well as you know to say "In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit."  The better you know them, the easier they are to follow.  These things printed in red are really pretty good stuff.  They actually make sense the more you do them.  So give it a shot, won't you?!

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

FW: Real Worship

On real context…


Feed: Father Hollywood
Posted on: Thursday, January 27, 2011 9:51 PM
Author: Father Hollywood
Subject: Real Worship


I believe one of the reasons we have "worship wars" among American Christians is that it has been a long time since we have had physical warfare on our own soil.  9-11 was close, but even that was dominated not by the theology of the cross of Christ, but rather by a sense of the national therapy of Oprah. 

Consider this poignant picture above of the ruins of a bombed-out church in Germany, where amid all the chances and changes of this life, the one thing that people could hold onto is the liturgy of the Church, the Mass, the real physical communion with the real physical Lord.

Notice what you don't see: entertainment.  There is no gyrating chanteuse working the microphone like a Vegas performer, a spotlight shining on a grimacing drummer, a perfectly-coifed guitarist wearing the latest fashions, or a trendy prancing made-up motivational speaker with gelled-up hair and a plastic smile emoting in overly-dramatic hushed intonations.

Instead, we see a celebrant, deacon, subdeacon, and two servers, all reverently and historically vested, each stationed in his proper order, proclaiming by their very placement that no matter how unpredictable and desperate things may get in this war-torn existence, Jesus is here, week in and week out, in the midst of our pain and uncertainty.  And the Church is here, century in and century out, bearing the Good News by proclaiming Christ crucified, the eternal Word of the cross.  And even amid the rubble and missing walls and blown-out windows, the old stone edifice of the church building, even in its humiliated state, carries a reverent gravitas of which the latest and greatest multi-million-dollar "worship centers" are bereft.

And at the center of it all is the chancel.  There is no stage, big screens, lasers, or sound system paraphernalia, but rather a simple but elegant book containing the liturgy and the Word of God, dignified candles flickering with the soft glow of the flames reminiscent of the Day of Pentecost and silently confessing the Son as "light of light, very God of very God."  And of course, the Holy of Holies is the stone altar, anchored like the rock of St. Peter's confession amid the gravel of a desperate world, the marble slab upon which one finds the Cornerstone, the Christ Himself in the Holy Eucharist, the mystery of the Lord's Presence for the forgiveness of sins given by means of the simple creatures of bread and wine.

By contrast, "contemporary worship" is a sad and spiritually impoverished display of vulgar bourgeois suburban kitsch, a puerile frivolity that is more at home in a sterile strip mall or a vacuous night club than in the gritty real world inhabited by real people who suffer real pain and who need a real saving encounter with the real God.

That is why we need real worship.

Note: I cross-posted this at Gottesdienst Online.  Please feel free to comment there.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

FW: Dom Mark Daniel Kirby, OSB: On the Psalmody of the Divine Office

A Modern monastic perspective on Psalmody…

Feed: New Liturgical Movement
Posted on: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 10:00 AM
Author: (Shawn Tribe)
Subject: Dom Mark Daniel Kirby, OSB: On the Psalmody of the Divine Office

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby, OSB, has an interesting post up on his blog, On the Psalmody of the Divine Office, which was originally an address he gave to the National Assembly of the Conference of Major Superiors of Women Religious. (One should bear this context in mind in case one wonders why Fr. Kirby is particularly focused upon the Divine Office in relation to clergy and religious. But what Father has to say has much value and fruit for the laity who pray the Divine Office, as well as for pastors who wish to bring sung Vespers to their parishes.)

Here are some excerpts. We pick up the article midstream:

In order to respond effectively to the liturgical vision of religious life articulated by Pope Benedict XVI, I will focus on the single most important element of the Divine Office in its various forms: the recitation of the Psalter.


The psalms, inspired by the Holy Spirit and entrusted to the Children of Israel in view of the day when Christ Himself and, after Him, His Bride, the Church, would pray them, are lyrical poems expressing every sentiment of the human heart, and directing those sentiments Godwards. The psalms are, at once, universal and personal. Rowland E. Prothero, writing over a hundred years ago, says:

"The Psalms are a mirror in which each man sees the motions of his own soul. They express in exquisite words the kinship which every thoughtful heart craves to find with a supreme, unchanging, loving God, who will be to him a protector, guardian, and friend. They utter the ordinary experiences, the familiar thoughts of men; but they give to these a width of range, an intensity, a depth, and an elevation, which transcend the capacity of the most gifted."


Chanting the Evangelical Counsels

Choral psalmody resembles, at more than one level, the virtues corresponding to the three vows of religion: poverty, chastity, and obedience. It gives corporate expression to the evangelical counsels and, at the same time, impresses them, day after day, more vividly in the heart.

Poverty: the melodic formula draws upon very limited musical resources. Recto tono has but a single note. Modal psalm tones are limited to a certain number of closely related notes and combinations. By resolutely choosing to pray within the limitations of a certain tonal poverty, one enters sacramentally into "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who being rich, became poor, for our sakes; that through his poverty we might become rich" (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:9).

Chastity: the psalmody of the Divine Office is chaste when it abstains from drawing attention to itself. In liturgical psalmody there is nothing that seeks to entertain, to charm, or to possess. One who surrenders to this form of prayer day after day assimilates its attributes. Choral psalmody fosters chastity; it is a school of purity of heart. Rightly does the psalmist pray: Eloquia Domini, eloquia casta, "The words of the Lord are chaste words" (Psalm 11:7).

Obedience: liturgical psalmody is obedient to the sacred text. It obeys the natural accents and verbal harmonics of the inspired Word of God, embracing it, espousing it, and remaining within the limits that it defines. The musical treatment of the psalmody is an ecclesial expression of Our Lady's response to the Archangel Gabriel in the mystery of the Annunciation: "Be it done unto me according to Thy Word" (Luke 1:38).

The psalmody of the Hours, executed in organic continuity with the Church's tradition of choral prayer, fosters the evangelical virtues in an almost imperceptible but entirely effective way. Just as one becomes what one contemplates, so too does one become what one sings. The psalmody of the Divine Office, held in honor by the Church for centuries, is a humble but strong support of the vowed life.


Through Psalmody to the Trinity

... I should like to return to the core of my thesis: that the psalmody of the Divine Office is a path to holiness for the apostolic religious. The Fathers of the Church have reflected on why and how psalmody engenders interior dispositions favorable to contemplative prayer.

A community engaged in choral prayer is an image of the Mystical Body as defined by Saint Augustine: "one Christ loving Himself." One-half of the choir offers its verse, not only to God through Christ, but also offers the bread of the Word to those of Christ's members who form the other half of the choir. In choral psalmody, the daily bread of the Word is continuously offered and received as it passes from choir to choir, providing believers with a compelling image of one Christ feeding Himself and, by means of that food, uniting His members among themselves, and to Himself, the Head of His Mystical Body. This Eucharistic dimension of the Divine Office is, in its own way, a means of communion with the ceaseless prayer that Christ, Eternal High Priest, offers to the Father in the Holy Spirit.

Saint Ambrose

Saint Ambrose of Milan, rather unexpectedly, in his meditation on the six days of creation, refers to alternation of two choirs when, in a poetic vein, he compares the beauty and the beneficial effect of psalmody to the creation of the sea:

"How beautiful and mighty is the sea when the tempest raises her waves. Even more beautiful is she when nothing apart from a light breeze moves over the surface of the waters and her waves break upon the shore with a sound that is gentle, regular, and harmonious, a sound that does not trouble the silence but is happy, rather, to give it rhythm and to render it audible."

Saint Ambrose, in effect, describes the ideal of liturgical psalmody: a sound that does not trouble the silence but rather gives it rhythm and renders it audible. He goes on to say:

"What else is that melodic sound of the waves if not the melody of the people . . . as the whole people unite in prayer, there is a whisper of receding waves; the echo of the psalms when sung in responsive harmony by men and women, maidens and children is like the sound of breaking waves. Wherefore, what need I say of this water other than it washes away sin and that the salutary breath of the Holy Spirit is found in it?"

By comparing liturgical psalmody to a peaceful breaking of waves upon the shore, Saint Ambrose suggests that each wave receives movement from the other and renders movement in return, sustaining all the while a continual rising and receding that remains ineffably tranquil.


Saint Basil

In his Exegetic Homilies, Saint Basil the Great profits from his exposition of Psalm 1 to set forth the benefit of all psalmody. Describing the Sacred Scriptures as a general hospital for souls, he demonstrates the outstanding curative and therapeutic effects that are proper to the Psalter.


Saint Basil emphasizes the medicinal and formative properties of psalmody. It is clear from the following passage that the psalmody of the Divine Office is an integral and indispensable element in the initial formation to the vowed life and at every subsequent stage of it.

"When, indeed, the Holy Spirit saw that the human race was guided only with difficulty toward virtue, and that, because of our inclination toward pleasure, we were neglectful of an upright life, what did He do? The delight of melody He mingled with the doctrines so that by the pleasantness and softness of the sound heard we might receive without perceiving it the benefit of the words, just as wise physicians who, when giving the fastidious rather bitter drugs to drink, frequently smear the cup with honey. Therefore, He devised for us these harmonious melodies of the psalms, that they who are children in age or, even those who are youthful in disposition might to all appearances chant but, in reality, become trained in soul."

The psalmody of the Divine Office prepares the soul for union with God by purifying the emotions, by ordering the passions rightly, and by fostering charity, apart from which there is no authentic contemplation. Psalmody accompanies the soul through the purgative, illuminative, and unitive phases of the interior life. At no moment in one's spiritual journey does it become superfluous or redundant.

"A psalm implies serenity of soul; it is the author of peace, which calms bewildering and seething thoughts. For, it softens the wrath of the soul, and what is unbridled it chastens. A psalm forms friendships, unites those separated, conciliates those at enmity. Who, indeed, can still consider as an enemy him with whom he has uttered the same prayer to God? So that psalmody, bringing about choral singing, a bond, as it were, toward unity, and joining the people into a harmonious union of one choir, produces also the greatest of blessings, charity."

Here, Saint Basil adopts a lyrical style worthy of the psalms themselves. His teaching makes clear the value of choral psalmody not only in the context of an enclosed monastic life, but also in the context of apostolic religious life in all its expressions.

"A psalm is a city of refuge from the demons; a means of inducing help from the angels, a weapon in fears by night, a rest from toils by day, a safeguard for infants, an adornment for those at the height of their vigor, a consolation for the elders, a most fitting ornament for women. It peoples the solitudes; it rids the market place of excesses; it is the elementary exposition of beginners, the improvement of those advancing, the solid support of the perfect, the voice of the Church. It brightens the feast days; it creates a godly sorrow. For, a psalm calls forth a tear even from a heart of stone."

Finally, Saint Basil presents psalmody as a school of the moral virtues: courage, justice, self-control, prudence, penance, and patience. The Psalter is, for the great legislator of the common life a perfect, that is to say, a complete theology.

"A psalm is the work of angels, a heavenly institution, the spiritual incense. . . . What, in fact, can you not learn from the psalms? Can you not learn the grandeur of courage? The exactness of justice? The nobility of self-control? The perfection of prudence? A manner of penance? The measure of patience? And whatever other good things you might mention? Therein is perfect theology, a prediction of the coming of Christ in the flesh, a threat of judgment, a hope of resurrection, a fear of punishment, promises of glory, an unveiling of mysteries; all things, as if in some great public treasury, are stored up in the Book of Psalms."

Read the entire piece on Vultus Christi.

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FW: The Divine Service in Wittenberg, Electoral Saxony


On Divine Service…



Feed: Gnesio
Posted on: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 5:49 AM
Author: driley
Subject: The Divine Service in Wittenberg, Electoral Saxony


As Described by Wolfgang Musculus in 1536

At the seventh hour we returned to the city church and observed by which rite they celebrated the liturgy; namely thus: First, the Introit was played on the organ, accompanied by the choir in Latin, as in the [Catholic] mass offering. Indeed, the minister meanwhile proceeded from the sacristy dressed sacrificially [i.e. in mass vestments] and, kneeling before the altar, made his confession together with the assisting sacristan. After the confession he ascended to the altar to the book that was located on the right side, according to papist custom. After the Introit the organ was played and the Kyrie eleison sung in alternation by the boys. When it was done the minister sang Gloria in excelsis, which song was completed in alternation by the organ and choir. Thereafter the minister at the altar sang Dominus vobiscum ["The Lord be with you"], the choir responding Et cum spiritu tuo ["And with your spirit"]. The Collect for that day followed in Latin, then he sang the Epistle in Latin, after which the organ was played, the choir following with Herr Gott Vater, wohn uns bei ["God the Father, Be our Stay"]. When it was done the Gospel for that Sunday was sung by the minister in Latin on the left side of the altar, as is the custom of the adherents of the pope. After this the organ played, and the choir followed with Wir glauben all an einen Gott ["We All Believe in One True God"]. After this song came the sermon, …delivered on the Gospel for that Sunday…

After the sermon the choir sang Da pacem domine ["Give Peace, O Lord"], followed by the prayer for peace by the minister at the altar, this in Latin as well. The communion followed, which the minister began with the Lord's Prayer sung in German. Then he sang the Words of the Supper, and these in German with his back turned toward the people: first those of the bread, which, when the words had been offered, he then elevated to the sounding of bells; likewise with the chalice, which he also elevated to the sounding of bells. Immediately communion was held. … During the communion the Agnus Dei was sung in Latin. The minister served the bread in common dress [i.e. in a black robe or cassock] but [he served] the chalice dressed
sacrificially [i.e. in mass vestments]. They followed the singing of the Agnus Dei with a German song: Jesus Christus [unser Heiland] ["Christ, Who Freed our Souls from Danger"] and Gott sei gelobet [O Lord, We Praise Thee"]. … The minister ended the communion with a certain thanksgiving sung in German. He followed this, facing the people, with the benediction, singing "The Lord make his face to shine on you," etc. And thus was the mass ended.

(Joseph Herl, Worship Wars in Early Lutheranism [New York: Oxford University Press, 2004], pp. 195-96)

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Monday, January 24, 2011

FW: Lutheran Ceremonies in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

On ceremonies…


Feed: Gnesio
Posted on: Sunday, January 23, 2011 8:07 PM
Author: driley
Subject: Lutheran Ceremonies in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries


As Described by Rudolf Rocholl

According to the Brunswick Agenda of Duke Augustus, 1657, the pastors went to the altar clad in alb, chasuble, and mass vestments. Sacristans and elders held a fair cloth before the altar during the administration, that no particle of the consecrated Elements should fall to the ground. The altar was adorned with costly stuffs, with lights and fresh flowers. "I would," cries [Christian] Scriver, "that one could make the whole church, and especially the altar, look like a little Heaven." Until the nineteenth century the ministers at St. Sebald in Nuremberg wore chasubles at the administration of the Holy Supper. The alb was generally worn over the Talar, even in the sermon. [Valerius] Herberger calls it his natural Säetuch [seed-cloth], from which he scatters the seed of the Divine Word. The alb was worn also in the Westphalian cities. At Closter-Lüne in 1608 the minister wore a garment of yellow gauze, and over it a chasuble on which was worked in needlework a "Passion." …

The churches stood open all day. When the Nuremberg Council ordered that they should be closed except at the hours of service, it aroused such an uproar in the city that the council had to yield. In 1619 all the churches in the Archbishopric of Magdeburg were strictly charged to pray the Litany. In Magdeburg itself there were in 1692 four Readers, two for the Epistle, two for the Gospel. The Nicene Creed was intoned by a Deacon in Latin. Then the sermon and general prayer having been said, the Deacon with two Readers and two Vicars, clad in Mass garment and gowns, went in procession to the altar, bearing the Cup, the Bread, and what pertained to the preparation for the Holy Supper, and the Cüster [Verger] took a silver censer with glowing coals and incense, and incensed them, while another (the Citharmeister?) clothed and arranged the altar, lit two wax candles, and placed on it two books bound in red velvet and silver containing the Latin Epistles and Gospels set to notes, and on festivals set on the altar also a silver or golden crucifix, according to the order of George of Anhalt in 1542. The Preface and Sanctus were in Latin. After the Preface the communicants were summoned into the choir by a bell hanging there. The Nuremberg Officium Sacrum (1664) bids all the ministers be present in their stalls, in white Chorrocken, standing or sitting, to sing after the Frühmesse [Morning Mass], "Lord, Keep Us Steadfast." The minister said his prayer kneeling with his face to the altar, with a deacon kneeling on either side. He arranged the wafers on the paten in piles of ten, like the shewbread, while the Introit and Kyrie were sung. The responses by the choir were in Latin. Up to 1690 the Latin service was still said at St. Sebald's and St. Lawrence's [in Nuremberg]. Throughout this (eighteenth) century we find daily Matins and Vespers, with the singing of German psalms. There were sermons on weekdays. There were no churches in which they did not kneel in confession and at the Consecration of the Elements.

(Geschichte der evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland [1897], p. 300; quoted in Edward T. Horn, "Ceremonies
in the Lutheran Church," Lutheran Cyclopedia [New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1899], p. 83)

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

FW: What Goals for Witnessing?



Feed: Confessional Gadfly
Posted on: Sunday, January 23, 2011 3:36 PM
Author: Rev. Eric J Brown
Subject: What Goals for Witnessing?


I had a thought while driving home last night from Tulsa. I think I have noted a problem with so many evangelism programs -- the results we expect.

Now, just follow me here for a second. Eliminate the traditional means of Church growth (i.e. having kids). We'll just talk about conversions. What would happen if God, through every person, brought in 1 new person in that person's lifetime.

Only 1. In a lifetime.

What would that mean? It would be huge! Massive! Doubling the natural size -- if our kids just replace our own, I mean. . . wow! Who wouldn't love that!

(It's hard for me to even try to keep up some semblance of excitement - please imagine one).

Yet what sort of expectations do we put upon ourselves with "successful" evangelism? We have no patience, no long term thinking... we want quick, huge numbers. . .

Eh. 1. 2. 3 would be awesome. In a lifetime. But that's just me.

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FW: Mass on the Eve of the Reformation

Fascinating indeed…


Feed: Gottesdienst Online
Posted on: Sunday, January 23, 2011 3:12 PM
Author: Pr. H. R.
Subject: Mass on the Eve of the Reformation


This is a fascinating look at the Mass on the eve of the Reformation.



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