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.

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30 August 2008

St Monica and Vatican II For Lutherans

We Lutherans -- that is, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, insofar as the name has not been removed or hidden so people don't think we're some kind of frozen chosen, maintenance rather than missional mentality, wannabe Catholics stuck in a Eurocentric liturgical straight-jacket for worship rather than ablaze to bring you to a critical event and get you all on fire with our praise band -- recently celebrated the Feast of St Monica on 27 August.

Thing is, the Feast of St Monica is 4 May.

Huh? Who cares? What difference does that make? And who is and why bother about this Monica anyway? The last Monica anyone heard about was Lewinsky anyway. Besides, it's all adiaphora anyway, why trample on my Christian Freedom with all this dead weight from the past?

Monica was the mother of St Augustine. Geez, whozzat? Well, arguably the most influential Christian theologian ever. We'll leave whether that was for better or worse, as well as biographies, to your searches or Wikipedia. Except for this part. Augustine was quite non-Christian, anti-Christian really, and a celebrated figure in his time, and his conversion was brought about by the example and prayers of his Christian mother, Monica, which is why the church honours her.

When the church sets up a day in honour of someone, the traditional practice is to choose the day on which the person died, if known, since that is the day they were born into eternity. St Augustine's date of death, his heavenly birthday, is 28 August 430, so 28 August is his feast.

St Monica's feast day was not a part of the overall observance of the Western Church for about three-fourths of its elapsed history to date, until about the time of the Council of Trent in the Sixteenth Century. However, it was long observed by the Augustinian Order. Geez, whazzat?

The "Augustinian Order" is a rather motley assortment of religious associations rather than a clear cut single entity -- in this way rather like my guys, the Benedictines -- all of them tracing their origin to St Augustine and his rule of life, or regula in Latin. That's what it literally is to be regular -- you live under a regula, or rule. Readers here may have heard of one such Augustinian. Guy named Martin Luther. Anyway, in the Augustinian Order but not the church as a whole there was, besides the observance of the feast of St Augustine, another one whose focus was his conversion to Christianity, which conversion in turn influenced the entire church.

This Augustinian feast, the Feast of the Conversion of St Augustine, was/is celebrated on 5 May. So they celebrated the single biggest human factor in bringing about that conversion, the example and prayers of his mother, St Monica, the day before, 4 May. The Conversion feast never did make it into the overall Roman Calendar, and when St Monica's did, since her date of death is not known, the traditional Augustinian date was retained, 4 May.

Until the Revolution. Er, Vatican II.

One of the stated aims of the "liturgical reform" at Vatican II was to pare down the historical hodgepodge of stuff into something more straightforward and accessible. So they effectively banned the old stuff and came up with an entirely new order (novus ordo) sporting four orders Mass each with its own "Eucharistic Prayer", each with several options for key parts of the Mass, and a lectionary of readings spread out over three years and a new calendar -- a new hodgepodge crafted from an even wider spread of historical sources! Oh well, it was the 1960s after all. I guess you gotta make allowances for that.

One item in this was relocating the Feast of St Monica to 27 August, the day before the feast of her son. There's a logic to that, obviously. And as far as the institution of Christ and fidelity to Scripture goes, you can celebrate the Feast of St Monica on 4 May, 27 August, any other day, or not at all.

It's not the 1960s any more. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to learn or be taught that we honour St Monica because of her example, particularly her example of the power of persistent prayer, in the conversion of her pagan son who went on to be one of the church's greatest saints, and we do so on 4 May because in the religious order that looks to her son as their patron saint they had long celebrated it then as the day before they celebrated the conversion of their patron. And to stay connected to and become a part of that ongoing history by leaving it there rather than turning one's back on all that and relocating it.

Sorry, Roman dudes. There already was a liturgical reform. It was to pare down all right, but in view of what contradicts Scripture, not our ideas of what makes something more "accessible", and to zealously guard and defend the worship of the church's order, not invent a new one. It's called the Lutheran Reformation. You're a few centuries late to the party. If the Roman hierarchy and associated academics are going to busy themselves with something other than preaching Christ and him crucified, and along the way explain the history of this movement, let them put off the period clothes, get married and raise a family and learn something of real benefit to their fellow man, like heating and air conditioning repair.

Yet, we and other Christian bodies fall in line with them as if there had been no Reformation! The 1960s Roman novus ordo, with emendations and adaptations, is now the common property of pretty much all heterodox Christian denominations with liturgical aspirations, rather than the traditional order of the Western Church.

And "our beloved synod" falls into line too, even those parts of it trying to remain true to our Confessions in the Book of Concord. We moan and groan why other parts of our beloved synod seem to be heading off on all sorts of tangents, or rather, variations on the tangent of chasing after the success in attracting numbers of the American suburban "evangelical" megachurches and their next stage, the Prosperity Gospel American suburban megachurches that will drive you with purpose and give you your best life now. We wonder how our people could be taken in by these false hopes and promises, yet why should our people not wonder why these are not also valid options when we set before them as confessional "options" derived from 1960s Rome equally with our common catholic history, this historical mass and that Vatican II For Lutherans mass, this historical lectionary and that Vatican II For Lutherans lectionary, this historical calendar and that Vatican II For Lutherans calendar. Why not listen to Willow Creek and Saddleback and Lakewood too? Why should they not think it's all about options, personal preference, all OK? We let something in through the back door then wonder why it comes knocking at the front!

Judas H Priest with a ham and cheese sandwich -- as a recovering academic, rather than offering extra credit for getting that one I'll just say it, a ham and cheese sandwich is doubly un-kosher, ham of course being not kosher but even if it were a kosher meat one does not consume meat and dairy products at the same time lest one unknowingly seethe a kid in its mother's milk, forbidden in the Law -- even in a small matter like when a saint's day is observed the whole rotten mess in the church is revealed!

St Monica gave St Augustine physical birth, but her greatness for which we honour her is in her role in his spiritual birth in this life. Therefore she is better honoured by leaving her day where it is for the reason it is there, or better yet finally inserting the Conversion into the Calendar, rather than moving it from a day which does have inherent reference to her to the day before her son's feast, which does not.

Once again, the calendar, lectionary and ordo of Vatican II misses the mark, even of its own intended reform, the product not of the church but one denomination headed by an office bearing the marks of Anti-Christ -- regardless of its current occupancy by a nice and learned German guy -- and now the common property of all heterodox liturgical churches in the West, utterly irrelevant to Christ's Church and therefore should be utterly irrelevant to Lutherans. Right along with Saddleback, Willow Creek and Lakewood, it no less than they "contemporary worship" whose forms derive from and express a content that is not ours and rejects ours, and therefore into which our content does not fit.


Eric Johnson said...

I certainly would agree that it is a shame that Lutherans have allowed Vatican II to influence us. I remember when my church stopped using the traditional liturgy, moved the altar to make it freestanding, started using the three-year lectionary, and introduced continuous communion. It's almost as if after Vatican II, Lutherans were saying, "We can't let the Catholics be more Protestant than us."

I would be curious to know your opinion of the various traditional Catholic organizations such as the SSPX and the FSSP. I noticed that you have a few links to the SSPX on your page.


Rev. Jim Roemke said...

Would you still be Roman if it weren't for Vatican II?

Past Elder said...

Thank you both for your thoughtful questions. The answers overlap, so I will provide one answer.

I was aware of Archbishop Lefebvre from the start, and wholly applauded his stand for the integrity of the Catholic faith and practice, and likewise the SSPX he founded.

But, while they teach nothing more and nothing less than what the Roman Church taught me, that this religion should have to be maintained in the face of Rome's direct opposition is untenable. This became even more acute when the Archbishop ordained bishops. As long as it was just a movement around an old man, read, who would die soon anyway, it was tolerated if just barely, but when he ordained bishops to carry on the Roman storm troopers (the present pope leading the charge) descended in full force, knowing that these would be valid bishops. Despite all the talk of collegiality, it was obvious that the one thing not allowed in the Brave New Church was the old church. Resistance is futile; you WILL be assimilated -- the Roman Borg (hope you are Trekkies) was relentless. The FSSP and the Motu are simply more Roman lying doublespeak, both requiring acceptance of the novus ordo as a condition for the exercise of the Tridentine Rite. The point was, the objection was not the "changes in the church" but THESE changes in the church, for which one stayed with what one had and to accept these particular changes as valid invalidates the entire reason for not accepting them and continuing with the former rites.

Rome here shows as never before that it believes in nothing whatever other than itself. Which is why it will tolerate all manner of excess, as long as you do not leave. They honour Christ, Scripture and God Himself only because they have said these are true, so just as the happy-clappy crowd is primarily about itself and its feelings amid all the God talk, so Rome is primarily about itself and its power and authority amid all the God talk. Which is why both of them have turned from the church's historic liturgy to something else reflecting, what else, themselves.

I did not on leaving the RCC become Lutheran or look for the next best thing. From my beliefs at the time, the next best thing is still not the thing, therefore no thing at all. Lutheranism at the time struck me as a well intended but mistaken effort to be Catholic without being Catholic. Since only the Roman Church had claim to the institution of Christ and its full ministry, for that church to have rejected its own faith meant that the gates of hell had indeed oversome the church and the promises of Christ were false, in turn meaning he was not the Christ after all. The hardest part was not Vatican II per se, but to see that for that to have happened, what I had believed must be false too.

So the entire Christian faith in any form appeared to me, by 1973, as a huge mistake. Which did not invalidate the OT, however, and it being around the High Holydays, I spent the next twenty years as a Righteous of the Nations around Orthodox Judaism. Conversion to Lutheranism would happen twenty years later as I was about to marry an LCMS woman, whose relation to that church was as strained by the scandal of Seminex as mine to the Roman church was by Vatican II.

We did not want to inflict our religious situation on any children, so we set out to resolve it. We began a year of instruction in a WELS parish, during the course of which I also read "Three Treatises" by Luther and then the Tappert BOC. I could not believe it -- on each page I found a man just like myself, encountering with horror what was around him (up to and including what he called "unmentionable") and when I got to the treatment of the Eucharist in Babylonian Captivity, I thought, I have never heard such a clear exposition of "catholic". Here was stated clearly and cleanly what the church had hemmed and hawed to say, and on through the BOC it became utterly clear that here indeed was no new faith but the one, holy, catholic and apostolic faith, the faith of Rome itself at its best and truest. And I saw that Vatican II was not at all the gates of hell overcoming the church, but the utterly predictable next step in a process of decay that had been going on for centuries. Which in turn meant, his promises WERE true, and the Lutheran Reformation was nothing more and nothing less than fidelity to them! I would now be in no different church than I ever was, but simply in a parish of it where the Gospel was rightly preached and the Sacraments properly administered, in concert with other such parishes. My later change to LCMS was simply to better live that out, the more I got to know the two synods.

Now, I know everyone, especially pastors, hate theology by anecdote, but the fact is, laymen generally do not pursue these things as does a seminarian, but in response to life as it unfolds. Besides, as Nietzsche, the only philosopher worth reading, once said, all philosophy (which in this context includes theology) is ultimately autobiography.

So, as to your question Eric, I still applaud the SSPX for upholding the true Catholic Faith, and I include links to some of their works because they demonstrate, for our Tiber swimming lost brethren, that the Catholicism of Vatican II in fact rejects the very thing they think they have found, and not in the escesses of Vatican II, but in its documents and rites themselves -- however, that the faith of Rome exists now apart from Rome indicates that while they uphold the true Catholic faith, that faith is false. So I support them as I do the orthodox elements within the ECUSA and other heterodox demoninations: I do not agree with them, but they are brothers in arms against the modernist revisionism which alike threatens our differing confessions. Kind of like soldiers from different armies allied against a common enemy.

And Pastor, on the face of it the answer is yes. However, Vatican II did happen, so we will never know. Before the Council I could not imagine being anything else, and contemplated the Benedictine Order and priesthood, so on that basis the answer is yes, I had no idea I would ever be anything else. Then came the time I described when the downfall of what I thought was the true church led to unbelief in Christianity of any kind, so there was never an attraction to anything that may have preserved outwardly identifiable things. You can play dress up all you like, but if you ain't a priest, you ain't a priest, and it doesn't matter.

Now, however, I can say that even if the SSPX and/or other traditional forces were to prevail, Rome were to say it was all a big mistake, etc, I would not go back. Now, I am glad there was a Vatican II, because without it I might never have come to see what is truly the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church and never been Lutheran, or LCMS, Kieschnick and all (did I really say that last part?).

The ways in which the novus ordo repudiate Catholicism are relevant to us only in that they reveal how the modernist phenomenology of the novus ordo repudiates what is true in Catholicism and therefore in Lutheranism, it being the true catholic faith of the apostles.

We did not model our services after the Tridentine Rite when that came along, but stayed true to our mission to conserve and defend authentic catholic tradition, so why do we take a different approach to Rome's latest rite, especially now that it has become the common property of all Western liturgical heterodox churches. In so doing, we differ from those who look to Saddleback, Willow Creek or Lakewood only in to whom we look rather than to what our confessions say we zealously guard and maintain.

Anonymous said...

You must be the last Lutheran on earth who actually believes that any branch of Lutheranism is the one, true, catholic and apostolic church to the exclusion of any other. Good for you.

However, if you spent half the energy on promoting your brand of Lutheranism as you do on hating Catholicism, you might make some real positive differences in the world. Hate is not of the Lord. Get over it. Grow up and actually BE a pastor!

Past Elder said...

And a good day to you too, Anon!

I suppose you thought my statement in the comments above, "Now, I am glad there was a Vatican II, because without it I might never have come to see what is truly the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church and never been Lutheran, or LCMS," to mean I think LCMS is both the true Lutheranism and the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church itself.

Sorry, pal. It would be bad for me, not good for me, if I did. Neither the LCMS as a body nor anyone in it thinks LCMS is co-extensive with the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. For that matter, we don't think any church body is co-extensive with it, nor that any church body, insofar as the Gospel rightly preached and the sacraments properly administered can be found within it, is excluded from it, not even the Roman Catholic Church.

Not sure where the actually be a pastor thing comes from either. Elders aren't pastors, and an elder who acts like one would be a poor elder indeed; also, the word in Lutheran usage does not refer to the term sometimes translated elder in the NT, an office we generally the Office of Holy Ministry.

Sorry about the inconvenient facts about the observance of a day in honour of St Monica too. And in case you missed it, this is a Lutheran blog written to promote Lutheran stuff, in the case of this post, our liturgical aims and heritage against the woeful Vatican II wannabeism into which some of us have fallen.

From your inacquaintance with basic facts, but moreso from your psychologically analysing someone saying anything against the post-conciliar church of Rome and finding it a product of hate rather than addressing the issue at hand on a factual basis, I would guess you are a post-conciliar "Catholic", since you have the hallmarks of one. Who knows; "anonymous" covers a lot of ground, including revisionist Lutherans who bear the marks of post-conciliar Catholicism too, which was part of my point.

Oh well. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Anti-Catholic bigotry and hatred appear to be a constant on your blog. Why don't you try imitating Christ for a change? Hatred is not of the Lord.

Anonymous said...

Anti-Catholic bigotry and hatred appear to be a constant on your blog. Why don't you try imitating Christ for a change? Hatred is not of the Lord.

Past Elder said...

And how would that be, Anon? Drive out those who make God's house into a marketplace or den of thieves with a whip? Call a religious establishment a brood of vipers?