Morgendämmerung, oder, Wie man mit dem Hammer theologirt.
Nescire autem quid ante quam natus sis acciderit id es semper esse puerum.
Orandum est ut sit mens sana in corpore sano.
Homo sum humani nihil a me alienum puto.
Semper idem sed non eodem modo.


Verbum domini manet in aeternum. The word of the Lord endures forever.
1 Peter 1:24-25, quoting Isaiah 40:6,8. Motto of the Lutheran Reformation.

Fayth onely justifieth before God. Robert Barnes, DD The Supplication, fourth essay. London: Daye, 1572.

Lord if Thou straightly mark our iniquity, who is able to abide Thy judgement? Wherefore I trust in no work that I ever did, but only in the death of Jesus Christ. I do not doubt, but through Him to inherit the kingdom of heaven. Robert Barnes, DD, before he was burnt alive for "heresy", 30 July 1540.

What is Luther? The doctrine is not mine, nor have I been crucified for anyone. Martin Luther, Dr. theol. (1522)

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14 May 2007

Pentecost / Shavuot / Pfingstfest 2007

So why does the "birthday of the church" have the Greek prefix for fifty in it?

Because it wasn't originally the birthday of the church, but an observance commanded by God in the Law of Moses which is to be held fifty days after the second day of Passover, and each day is formally counted.

The counting is called the Counting of the Omer. What's an omer? Omer are the sheaves of a harvested crop. During the days of the physical Temple, the priests would offer newly harvested barley on the second day of Passover, which represents the start of the seven week harvest season. Which is why Pentecost is also called the Feast of Weeks. In the Law, Shavuot is called Hag ha-Katzir, the Holiday of Harvest's End.

Ah, so we have a harvest festival, taking its place among the various harvest festivals in world culture and religion. Well, yes and no. Yes, it's another harvest festival, another instance of a human cause for celebrating a human milestone, the end of the harvest, particularly in a pre-industrial society. But there's something a little different about this one. The Talmud (What's a Talmud? Ancient rabbinical writings -- for more, look it up, Wikipedia is linked to the right of the page) says it was on the 6th of Sivan (a month in the Jewish lunar calendar) which is the first night of Shavuot that God gave the Ten Words, better known among Gentiles as the Ten Commandments. Consequently, a popular observance has been an all night Bible study at home or in the synagogue, breaking for morning service, called shakharit, the ancestor of our, well, morning service. This all nighter is called tikkun. Traditionally only dairy foods are eaten on Shavuot, and while no-one knows why for sure, the thinking is that on the first Shavuot they had slaughtered all these animals for food but after the Law was given found out they were not kosher so they only ate dairy foods. In the liturgy of the synagogue, the readings for the service for the first day of Shavuot are: Torah portion Exodus 19:1 - 20:23 and Numbers 28:26-31; haftorah Ezechiel 1:1-28 and 3:12. (Sorry, grew up pre Vatican II RC, so those Greek Septuagint derived spellings for OT names kind of persist!) In case you're a little rusty, this is the Exodus account (actually the first of two Exodus accounts, the other being Chapter 34, and there's another in Deuteronomy) of the giving of the Law, specifically the Ten Words, and Ezechiel's account of the chariot of fire -- you know, the flying saucer.

This is the feast that Acts 2:1 (in the Epistle for Pentecost, which even the Vatican II three year lectionary couldn't overturn) refers to when it speaks of Pentecost arriving, and why there were men from all over everywhere in Jerusalem for it. It's to celebrate the giving of the Law, the whole reason why there was a Passover and a deliverance, the most important event in Judaism. And like Passover just had been, it was about to be transformed!

For God himself had become Man in Jesus Christ, suffered the condemnation for our sins in his death, and then rose again. Now, if this were all to the story, why didn't he just stick around, proof positive that he had risen? If the whole point were "All you need is Jesus", "I am saved because Jesus died for my sins and rose again", "Jesus first, as long as you believe that the rest isn't that important", then what would make that point better, what would make that point more irrefutable, than if he had stayed right here, so you could see him, talk to him face to face, hear him teach, and say to those who don't believe "Look, there he is right there, go ask him yourself".

But it didn't happen that way, because that is not the whole point and not all to the story. Just as the Passover and exodus from bondage in Egypt had been not for its own sake but in order to gather with God so he could give his people his Law, so the Passover of the full paschal lamb Jesus had been not for its own sake but in order to gather with God so he could give his people his Spirit! Just as God had commanded the counting of the Omer, the fifty days connecting Pesach, Pascha, and Shavuoth, Pentecost, so now God himself counts the Omer from the Pascha of the Lamb he provided, his Son, to the Shavouth or Pentecost so that on the very day where his people once celebrated only the giving of the Law, they still celebrate that and added to it is the giving of the Spirit!

And what happened as a result of that? His Apostles, men who knew all you need is Jesus, men who knew for a physical fact that Jesus had died and risen again, men who knew Jesus is first, men who had all that and like any men on that basis alone were scared and afraid and huddled around each other in the comfort of others who had all that, tending to their prayers and the internal matters of their little band, did something utterly amazing on this day of celebrating the giving of the Law -- they gave the Law, and the Gospel. Not only that, each one there heard it in his own language, addressed directly to him!

And what did the people do? Same as the Apostles had done when the women told them the tomb was empty and he had risen. They didn't believe them. Some thought this is just a foolish wishful story, others sought to figure out what this means, others thought they're just crazy, probably drunk, out of their minds. That's what happened first. Pretty much what still happens when people hear the mighty works of God told to them -- when WE hear the mighty works of God told to US. It's a really nice story stemming from our deepest wishes; let's talk about this and dialogue as to what it all means; those guys are crazy. That's what happened first. The rest didn't happen until something else happened.

Peter then stood with his brothers in the Office of Holy Ministry and laid it right out for them, clean and clear. This is what Joel and David had spoken about, Jesus delivered by the plan of God to us whom we in our sinfulness abandoned the Law and in turn delivered him to the power and law of the world to be killed, Jesus delivered by the power of God from the power of death and our sinfulness which inflicted that on him, Jesus risen again and now placed on the throne of David at the right hand of God, Jesus having been given the promise of the Spirit so that now you see and hear this: Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

That's the Law. And when they heard the Law, given now for the first time in its fulfillment on this day of celebrating the giving of the Law long ago, they were cut to the heart. People by nature want a religion of works, stuff they can do to make it all right, stuff they can do to feel OK with God, with each other, and within themselves. And the world offers all sorts of versions of that. Some of them go by the name Christianity. And the feelings and purpose they impart are utterly false. God himself has shown us in the Law exactly the stuff he wants us to do, and we showed ourselves absolutely incapable of it by our own reason and strength, to the extent that we handed his prophets and finally the One he sent over to the power of our own ideas and law to be killed and still reject their message to this day. So much for a religion of works. We can't do it even when God himself shows us exactly how, no matter how hard we try in madness driven living. What's worse, just like those on this Pentecost, we don't get it even when the mighty works of God are directly addressed to us even with wondrous signs, preferring instead to think it over or think they're just nuts!

Pentecost came to-gether not in the signs and wonders, which can still leave us in unbelief, but when Peter and his brothers in the Office of Holy Ministry laid it out clean and clear. It still does. It was then, when Peter had given the Law in its horrible consequences, that they, we, thought not about what it all means, not let's think this over, not maybe there's some good ideas here, not maybe these guys are nuts, but instead were cut to the heart by the fruitlessness of their, our, own reason and strength, and asked Peter and his brothers, Men and brethren, what shall we do? It was then and only then that they could tell them the Good News, the Gospel.

Repent, and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

What happened then? Same thing that happens now. They that gladly received his word were baptised, and they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

Guess what! There's an emerging church all right. Not just lately, not out of some marketing scheme supposedly crafted to the taste of the times, but ever since the outpouring of the Spirit on that Pentecost whose historical happening we celebrate every feast of Pentecost.

We may not be in Jerusalem, the Temple is not physically there to go to in one accord, and Peter and the other Apostles are not personally our preachers. And it makes not the slightest difference. The taste of our or any time has no taste for the Gospel and it is worthless to pander to it thinking that will produce a taste for the Gospel. That will produce only what it always produces -- a religion of works, stuff to do to catch the God buzz in a quest after one's own feeling better, on the surface all about Jesus or God but really all about me, or a lot of discussion about what it all means, or a rejection of it as wishful thinking at best and lunacy at worst.

What produces a taste for the Gospel is the Law. That's why the Spirit was given to proclaim the Gospel on the feast celebrating the giving of the Law! And we have the reality of Pentecost before us no less than they. The Temple is in ruins and Peter and the Apostles are gone. So how's that, how is Pentecost not just another thing you read in a book that supposedly comes from God, maybe it does. maybe it doesn't. Because the true Temple Jesus has been raised again on the third day, and has taken his place with the Father, and has sent his Spirit as he promised. And that Spirit speaks the same message to us as it did that day in unbroken continuity and succession, not that Peter and the Apostles are still physically here, not that other men are still here in a succession of corporate hierarchy, not in those who produce signs and wonders or miracles of church growth and attendance in his name, but that the clean and clear laying out of Law and Gospel as was heard that Pentecost continues to be heard in the faithful preaching of those in the Office of Holy Ministry unto the ends of the earth despite sin, the world and the gates of hell itself.

And when this happens, the same thing follows as did then. Those who receive this proclamation of Law and Gospel are baptised, they continue steadfastly in the Apostles' teaching handed on in the church, especially in those books upon which the church has said you can absolutely rely as the inspired word of God without error, the Bible, and in preaching by those called to do so of that Word, they continue steadfastly in fellowship and community and gathering with each other, they continue steadfastly in the breaking of the bread, the mass, the church's liturgy, wherein Jesus was only fully discerned for who and what he is even when he was bodily here for forty days after he rose, and they continue steadfastly in prayer.

That is the gift of the Holy Ghost, and every bit of it is as available here and now as it was on that day we read about in Acts, in the Epistle or Christian haftorah for Pentecost, every bit of what was pointed to in Ezechiel's chariot of fire we read about in the original Pentecost haftorah. Pentecost comes to-gether, despite all our vain and sinful efforts to make it happen in some other way more to our liking, the same now as then as ever. Accept no substitute! There is no substitute, even if it claims his name or produces signs and wonders and warm feelings in his name, as true and false teachers and even Satan himself alike can do!

Pentecost is about the one thing they cannot produce and only the true Sprit of God can. As the Little Catechism explains:

I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy Christian church; the communion of Saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.

What does this mean? I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian church He daily and richly forgives all sins to me and all believers, and will at the Last Day raise up me and all the dead, and give unto me and all believers in Christ eternal life.

This is most certainly true.


Christine said...

Beautiful post, Past Elder.

For some reason it also brings to mind my beloved Lutheran Grandmother who made the tastiest "Faschingskrapfen" for Lent (any talk of harvest festivals always brings to mind food!).

Wish she were still here to make them.

Past Elder said...

Vielen Dank, meine Schwester!

Another little "only in America" story. In the old days, it was customary for people to go to each other's houses with gifts on Christmas Eve, before everybody went to Midnight Mass. This is all now nearly extinct, the Mass replaced by a parody of it, midnight now ten or so for "pastoral reasons", and the trekking around with gifts beforehand. One of them who came to our house was a tech who worked in my dad's lab, with her mother, a Mrs Hennesey, who herself was first generation German American, who always wished us Froehliche Weinachten with a gorgeous stollen in hand for us. Now that might have been the best thing ever about being English descended raised by Irish descended growing up around a bunch of German descended in Minnesota! To this day, I go to a local bakery that turns out a decent stollen and we have stollen, sausages and eggs for our Christmas Day breakfast! So while Mrs Hennesey is long gone and I no longer live there anyway, stollen is forever!

Christine said...

Now that might have been the best thing ever about being English descended raised by Irish descended growing up around a bunch of German descended in Minnesota!

Past Elder, that is being "multicultural" in the best sense of the word!

Now I am going to have to tackle that German Little Catechism at some point and see how well I make it through!

Christmas Stollen was always a feature at home when I was growing up. And my mom used to make the most gorgeous "Frankfurterkranz" for Easter, laden with buttercream.

And when I first told American friends that we used real, live candles on the Christmas tree in the "old country" they were amazed!

I would have liked Mrs. Hennesey very much!

Surprisingly, some of the Catholic parishes in my area do still have a real Midnight Mass but most, as you say, have them earlier (and I must confess with each passing year its harder for me to stay up that late -- sigh).

Now, I am going to have to tackle that German Little Catechism and see how well I make it through!

Christine said...

Sheesh, how did I insert that phrase about the Little Catechism twice?

Not enough coffee this morning yet, I guess.

How's the new pooch doing?

Past Elder said...

One of mt dad's co-workers was from Germany, and continued the use of real candles here. I remember it well!

I should also add I used to insist on a Weinachtsganz, not only out of cultural identity (which isn't even mine except by association!) but to insure that the basis of a certain English expression not pass into memory only. Nancy complied, but the last goose did our old oven in and we had to get a new one. She was another only in America special, mostly German descent with Cherokee mixed in to make a real nice package, but no German language or cooking, though Lutheran (= LCMS).

Christine said...

Ah Past Elder, the Christmas Goose! I remember it well!

We don't make it anymore at Christmas because we're trying to eat a little more lightly and bit more healthy these days. But the cooking of a goose really could do an oven in -- it is no mean feat!!

But I have many fond memories.

What an interesting heritage, German and Cherokee -- truly a melding of the Old World and the New.

Lucian said...

Since You're so into all that Jewish stuff, I think You're gonna simply LOVE this:

Lucian said...

Can't help but ask: Why not SSPX?

Past Elder said...

Hi Lucian!

Thanks for the link. There are a number of papers I want to check out.

I'm into all that Jewish stuff because I think God is into all that Jewish stuff, and the more one knows it, the clearer the identity and mission of Christ becomes.

When I was an elder, I used to have an adult class on the seder. There's nothing like going through a seder to see the point at which Christ said what he said, transforming it into the mass. I also used to do a class on the typical synagogue service compared point for point with the Liturgy of the Word.

I think you're asking why did I not join or affiliate myself with the SSPX rather than become a Lutheran. Fair question -- obviously I agree with them about true Catholicism and the false Catholicism of Vatican II. Where I disagree is in what to do about it. To me, that authentic Catholicism has suffered the fate it has since John XXIII and Vatican II indicates that authentic Catholicism is not true either, thus neither pre nor post conciliar Catholicism is the true religion, though SSPX is right about what is true Catholicism.

I hope that clarifies it to some degree. For twenty years I was not Christian in any sense at all, and held that Christianity in any form was simply a Gentile misunderstanding of Judaism, which retained its validity. I did not convert to Judaism, but hung around Orthodox circles and sources. Judaism does not hold that non Jews must convert to be in communion with God.

Lucian said...

Yes, I fully understand what You meant to say about Catholicism.

And I also understand what You meant about Judaism. (So, You were a B'nei Noach, then, right?).

Please tell me Your honest opinion about this:

P.S.: It's interesting how Judaism keeps the 7th day and the 7th month, whereas Chritianity holds the 1st day and the 1st month. -- Just a thought.

Lucian said...

BTW, have You read Chrysostom on this passage (about Pentecost) ? (I was wondering, because I saw great similarities between Your post and his :p on this subject) :)

P.S.: I've written, in the beginning of this year, a little essay on the number se7en. If You want to, I can e-mail it to You. (I've already shared it with the man over here: ; he's also published a part of it on his blog).

Maybe You'ld be interested in these blogs also:

Past Elder said...

Hi Lucian!

Thank you for the additional links. I'll post my reaction after I have time to read them.

No, I have not read St Cyprian per se, only excerpts in other works and most recently on Schuetz' blog. I am not a biblical scholar or theologian. I kind of live in two worlds. I am a PhD and former academic, and have read more than your average bear in theology etc, and have served as a Lutheran elder. On the other hand, I am a layman, both academically and ecclesiastically, on theology, Scripture, and the like. So in sum I am just another guy in the pew, except that my related academic training allows me to think I can run with the big dogs there.

I thought I was a "stranger within the gate" during my twenty year belief in but not conversion to Orthodox Judaism, or to eliminate the redundancy, Judaism. My rabbi though pointed out that I was not. What I was, was a Righteous of the Nations, hasidei ummot ha-olam. Re Noah, he used to weigh imaginary weights in his hand, saying 7 (the number of Noahide Laws) on the one and 613 (the number of commands in the Law) on the other -- the idea being of course that I am just fine where I am and there is no need to convert.

Which reminds me of another instance. When I read Acts on coming into Lutheranism, at the council in Jerusalem as I read again but yet for the first time what was retained, I thought hey that's the Noahide Law, what is universal for all men, and it is retained by the Apostles in dictinction to the Mosaic Law. I cannot imagine the council, all Jews, didn't know that!

Lucian said...

If the Noachides would've existed in the first centuries of the Christian Era, we would've had NO Judaizers, and NO despising of Christians comming from Jews, who felt like we water-down the Torah of God to appease men. (It is the Babilonian Talmud which makes reference to these laws, while the Yerushalmi is far stricter -- that's why it lost in front of his more "open-minded" 'brother').

See my commetaries over here:

I was talking about John the Golden-Mouth, who, in his commentary on that passage, makes several observations keenly similar to Yours. It was just a strange coincidence, that's all.

On the CCEL site You'll find ALLMOST ALL Christian literature ever written; by all Christian groups: ALL SORTS of Bibles, Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, Catechisms, Historical books, etc. -- EVERYTHING You have EVER wanted, and much, much more:

The NewAdvent site also contains the entire *Catholic Encyclopedia* and the entire Summa Theologica.

Past Elder said...

Hi Lucian -- and anyone else interested in this discussion. I looked over a couple of the stories in Jews for Judaism -- not a thorough study by any means, but if we waited for that it would be a long time. Two main impressions.

One re Jesus. What I heard was the same basic idea about Jesus I myself held for 20 years. Jesus is a Gentile misunderstanding of Messiah, rooted in a failed brand of Jewish messianism. In other words, Jesus' Apostles, facing that what will happen when Messiah comes did not happen when Jesus came, now that he was dead faced a momentous decision -- either they had to admit that Jesus was not in fact the Messiah, or they had to re-invent what Messiah was to fit Jesus, and unwilling to do the former they did the latter. Therefore Messiah was no longer Messiah but Saviour from sin, something entirely unrelated to Messiah and in fact already given by God. Therefore it's not so much that Jews don't believe Jesus is the Messiah, it's that Jews don't believe that the Christian understanding of Messiah is true, but rather a re-interpretation of Messiah to fit Jesus.

Or as my rabbi put it: we are not waiting for the second person of the trinity to become incarnate. Messiah is a man, not God. Forgiveness of sin is already there from God, Messiah does not bring it. And we are not waiting for a Messiah who will say "I'll be back" (Schwartzenegger accent engaged).

Or in yet other words, the Second Coming was invented to explain why the "First Coming" does not fit Messiah.

The other impression is that culture is primary here. One is not Jewish as a matter of belief, one is Jewish because one is Jewish, and that includes but is not limited to or defined by religious belief. I think Christian religions, most especially Catholicism, have over the centuries developed this too. Mexicans are Catholic, Irish are Catholic, Norwegians are Lutheran, Italians are Catholic, North Germans are Lutheran, South Germans are Catholic, Greeks are Greek Orthodox, Russians are Russian Orthodox, etc. So if I am, say, Irish and become Lutheran, I have not only changed religion but am not really Irish anymore either.

This even extends to politics. There used to be an old joke: Did you Mike Gallagher is a Republican? That's impossible, I saw him at Mass last Sunday.

I'm a Lutheran, in a synod of German origin, English by descent, adopted by an American Irish, therefore RC, family, grew up around German and Germanic descended people who were mostly Lutheran, and was "adopted" by the Puerto Rican student community at college and frankly still feel more compatible with Puerto Ricans than anyone else and proudly speak with our accent as opposed to the Mexican taught in Anglo schools. I also picked up some degree of Bavarian decended German from my environment, which my first Lutheran pastor said (jokingly, I think) was God preparing me to be Lutheran so I could lapse into German when ranting. So I have roots in a variety of cultures, or I have pseudo roots in many cultures and real roots in none, as you may see it. Regardless, I do think it gives me a bit of perspective on culture as distinct or not distinct from religion as a basis for identity.

I wonder if old Schuetz has made his way to my blog yet? I don't get into this stuff on his blog.

Lucian said...

I really doubt that Herr Schuetz would be interested in "the Jewish question" :) . (BTW, have You ever read St. Justin Martyr "Dialogue with Trypho"? -- I've recommended this book to another online friend also; because of the "Angel of the Lord" motive, in which he was also interested).

P.S.: Another resource I would like to recommend to You is:

Past Elder said...

You're probably right Lucian. I don't think Herr Schuetz would find the Jewish roots of Christianity interesting at all.

Nothing against him. Most Christians don't. I think the idea is, we left all that behind so it doesn't matter now.

One of the many things that attracted me about Lutheranism, having been RC pre and post Vatican II, then having hung around Orthodox Judaism for about as long, is the prominence of the idea of Law and Gospel.

There's plenty of places claiming to offer the Gospel, without the Law, and Judaism offers the Law without the Gospel and there are plenty of places claiming to offer the Gospel that turn it into Law.

It's a package deal, as they say, and only in Lutheranism do I find Law and Gospel and, to borrow a phrase, the proper distinction between them. Everywhere else offers one or the other or turns one into the other.

Lucian said...

For me, this is just like an extension of the O.T.; i.e., You understand the N.T. with or without it (no problem) ... but once You delve into this, ... the all the more wholesome it becomes. (I'm a mathematician, so I like to see all the possible connections and probable parallels that exist between them, and discover a mindset that integrates the Old into the New; and the Patrsitic typological interpretation of the O.T. is just awesome for me).

Past Elder said...

Well, I was a music theorist in my academic life, which classically anyway has a relation to mathematics, so maybe that is why I too get into connexions and possible parallels.

And I think those relationships can benefit anyone when pointed out. Certainly Jesus was quite aware of his relationship to the Law he was fulfilling!

Which is why as an elder I loved doing Sunday Adult class on things like the relationship of the synagogue service to the Liturgy of the Word (as it is called in the current Roman liturgy), or of the seder to Communion, the OT round of festivals to the Christian calendar (hence this post on Passover and Pentecost re Pascha and Pentecost) etc.

Lucian said...

the OT round of festivals to the Christian calendar.

The Jews had this habbit of keeping the New Moons. Which is what almost gave me a shock as I've read JOHN OF DAMASCUS' "An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith", Book II, "Chapter VII.—Concerning light, fire, the luminaries, sun, moon and stars".

Now, we *don't* have celebrate the 1st of each calendar month ... BUT: Here's the passage that gave me the creeps, as I just stood paralysed for minutes in front of the computer-screen:

The Ram, which receives the sun on the 21st of March.
The Bull, on the 23rd of April.
The Twins, on the 24th of May.
The Crab, on the 24th of June.
The Virgin, on the 25th of July.
The Scales, on the 25th of September.
The Scorpion, on the 25th of October.
The Archer, on the 25th of November.
Capricorn, on the 25th of December.
Aquarius, on the 25th of January.
The Fish, on the 24th of February.

Now, ... You were a Catholic, ... and a Lutheran ... so ... You probably already understand where I'm going with this ... namely:

25 March -- Annunciation. [Ancient Western Date of Crucifixion -- see Tertulian, St. Cyprian; the equivalent of April 6 in the East].
23 April -- St. George.
21 May -- Sts. C-tine and Helen.
29 June -- The Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.
20 July -- St. Elijah.
August --
23 September -- Conception of St. John the Baptist.
26 October -- St. Demeter.
30 November -- The Holy Apostle Andrew.
25 December -- Christamas. [The equivalent of January 6 in the East].
30 January -- The Three Great Hierarchs: Basil, Gregory and John.

The bottomline is that these days are the beginings of each *astronomical* month. Now, ... I don't know about You ... but *I* was in SHOCK! :|

Not to mention September 1 as the Churchly New Year [Tishri 1]; November 21 [Hanukah]; etc. I mean, I was just baffled. :|

Lucian said...

... and August 29 -- The Beheading of St. John The Baptist. -- sorry 'bout that ... :|

Lucian said...


September 1 -- The New Year
September 8 -- The Birth of the Holy Virgin Mary
September 14 -- The Elevation of the Holy Cross.


Tishri 1 -- The New Year
Tishri 10 -- Yom Kippur
Tishri 15 -- Tabernacles

The reason for celebrating such a holy day for the Cross in the middle of ... September (!) was allways beyond me ... but now I think I know why ...

Past Elder said...

A couple of thoughts, brother.

Yes, the parallel is amazing indeed!

Of course our preaching does not rest on these things, but once the Holy Spirit has worked through the preaching, these things greatly bolster the faith given, at least they do mine.

In my former field of music theory, there are those fascinated by numerology too, with quite a lot of literature about parallels in Bach in particular.

I'm planning a future post in line with my Pascha and Pentecost ones, this one about the third major one, Tabernacles or Booths. If Pesach became Pascha and Pentecost Pentecost, what happened to Booths, especially since one of the Prophets told of one day the whole world coming to Jerusalem to celebrate it.

I'll tip my hand in advance. I think the reason that unlike Passover and Pentecost there is no fulfillment or parallel in the Messianic era is because while Booths celebrated the living in tents or booths on the way to the Promised Land of Israel, with the Messiah come we are now living in tents on our way to the Promised Land of heaven, so while the first two great festival seasons were fulfilled in Jesus' life and therefore our liturgy celebrates them, Tabernacles will not be fulfilled until the end of the age, when indeed all the world, or at least the saved part of it, will come to the heavenly Jeusalem to participate!

Lucian said...

Your words are very insightful. I've never thought of it that way. (Have You ever considered, maybe, ... iduno ... writing a book about it? -- seriously!...)

Three things I could never understand about the Orthodox Calendar; they just made no sense to me at all (ever!):

(1). What ON EARTH is Easter doing placed between Annunciation and Christmas? ... no matter HOW I would "rotate" the yearly cicle in my head, it just wouldn't make ANY sense at all ... that is, until I found out that the Feast of March 25 was from very early on considered to be the actual Crucifixion date. I gues You could say I just had, then, one of those "aha" moments.

I mean, ... I *knew* that Nissan was March-April, and that Pesach occured in the middle of that month ... but I NEVER made the [obvious!] connection.

(2). What's EXACTLY is the Elevation of the Cross doing in ... September ??? (Plain historical reasons, I was told: it was the historical date of its elevation -by the Patriarch and Empress- in the middle of the city, after they've recaptured it form the Persians). Very good. That is, until I took a closer look at the [most well-known] Jewish Holidays. Among them: Yom Kippur. Hmmmmmmmmm ... now, You see, ... THAT's what I would call a VERY strange ... "coincidence" :)

(3). What's TransFigurarion doing on August 6? And WHY do the faithful bring the first-fruits of their autumn-harvest [most especially GRAPES ... but other fruits as well -- ONLY fruits] PARTICULARLY on THIS day in the Church? I mean, ... why not, for instance, bringing something for Easter [spring-stuff] or Pentecost [summer-harvest] ? :| That is, until I've read this:

[See the "Biblical Story" chapter's second paragraph. And I think this may also help explain the fruits]. ;)

Lucian said...

The end of the preceding link is as follows:

... /transfiguration/learn/

Pseudo-Iamblichus said...

Wow, you have an SSPX link! That is truly bizarre! I used to be an SSPX seminarian, and passed through the Anglican Continuum churches briefly after that. What is your reasoning for having a link to the most obviously "anti-Protestant" section in the Roman Church? Just our of curiosity.

Past Elder said...

Hey Pseudo!

The SSPX link stands by itself in a sidebar labelled "The Tiber, for Swimmers et al." There are two reasons why I include it, and in this way.

As you may know, there have been a number of conversions to post Vatican II Catholicism by high profile Lutherans, usually clergy or scholars. As you also probably know, this is often called "Swimming the Tiber".

I swam the Tiber too. In the other direction. Out. As the Council itself unfolded, then as the post conciliar changes proceeded apace, it became increasingly and inescapably clear to me that what was emerging was a new religion in the place of the one in which I was raised, which I would effectively have to renounce to remain Catholic. Sympathetic as I was and am with SSPX, the fact that what I had been taught was not only replaced but persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church indicated that not only was the new religion false, so was the old one. And the latter was harder to bear than the former. Come High Holidays in 1973 I had had all I could take of the Brave New Church, and thinking that while the NT was now invalidated the OT was not, attended services at the Jewish Student Center where I was in graduate school, and spent the next twenty years a Gentile believer in Orthodox Judaism.

In 1996, as the result of a long story I won't recount here, I professed the Lutheran faith in WELS. Later I served that parish as an elder, hence the name Past Elder. I joined an LCMS parish last year.

It is my contention that the converts to "Catholicism" from the Lutheran faith in recent years have not converted to Catholicism at all, but to the miserable and heretical parody of it fashioned at Vatican II. They are not at fault, as the post conciliar Church, being itself deluded, has deluded many. I believe the SSPX cite accurately states Catholic teaching -- at least they state what was taught to me, not by SSPX, but by the Roman Catholic Church. So I have placed the SSPX link on my Lutheran site as an opportunity for such former Lutherans as may visit or perhaps current Lutherans who may be contemplating swimming the Tiber, to understand what Catholicism really is and thereby understand what they either have or are considering converting to is most certainly not the Roman Catholic Church or Faith.

So while I offer it Lutheran to Lutheran, I also offer it as an ex-Catholic as a heads up to anyone falling under the allure of a monstrous deception.

I'm curious -- did you study at the seminary in Winona? I grew up in Rochester nearby, and remember the grounds as a thriving Dominican Novitiate, before the Church got all relevant and emptied the pews, pulpits and everything else.

Past Elder said...

Hey Lucian --

Amen on all the further parallels you point out.

Blogging is great. I've had everything from the suggestion of writing a book (and thank you for that) to being described as not knowing which end of the weapon to hold.

A further though on Transfiguration on 6 August. As you know, Lutherans do not as a rule celebrate it on that day though that is the traditional day, but locate it more in the historical sequence of events in the liturgy.

I'm OK with the reasoning for that, however, I think the long held date of 6 August has a prophetic aspect -- forward looking this time rather than back to the Jewish faith out of which we come.

However, it had struck me for years that 6 August, the traditional date of Transfiguration, is also the date of Hiroshima, the first use of nuclear weapons of mass (meaning civilian) destruction in warfare.

I don't think in the divine economy that it is any accident that the date was in time the one chosen for the first "bomb". The message: you can come to faith in God through the one he has sent Jesus Christ and celebrate a transfiguration of life such as Transfiguration commemorates, or you can follow the world even in the pursuit of good and that will entail a transfiguration such as happens in a nuclear explosion.

I've never heard that expressed before, but have thought it for years, even back to when I was RC.

Lucian said...

However, it had struck me for years that 6 August, the traditional date of Transfiguration, is also the date of Hiroshima, the first use of nuclear weapons of mass destruction.

I knew that also! (But I've forgot all about it).

I don't think in the divine economy that it is any accident

Me neither. We can choose either the True Light of the Sun of Righteousness, which is Jesus Christ; or we can be deceited (and perish) by the false (and very distructive) light of the enemy, which can himself present himself to us as in the form of an angel of light, as St. paul says.