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.
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