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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05 October 2009

On Daily Devotional Stuff.

Growing up RC, I had almost literally unlimited resources available for things to use for daily prayer, from pamphlets and booklets in the back of church to prayer books and on and on. My choice was a Lives of the Saints, not the big bleeding Butler one, but a handbook size volume drawn from it with a saint per page per day basically, drawn from the church calendar.

If you got to know the right priest, you might find out that the church actually has this whole round of daily devotional stuff all day every day, and it's called the Divine Office. Or since the Revolution, er, Vatican II, the Liturgy of the Hours. It's actually part of the public worship of the church just as much as Mass, though you never saw it in an ordinary parish, though the priests had to pray it individually.

Generally this stuff is done by religious orders, particularly monks. The Franciscan sisters who staffed the hospital in whose chapel I served 0600 Mass for years chanted Matins beforehand. Later I went to a college run by the best monking monks, not merely monked over, since ever the monking world monked its first monkery, the SOBs, I mean OSBs, the Order of St Benedict (Ordo Sancti Benedicti actually, and actually it's not technically an order, but that's for another time).

The abbey church was also a parish church, and the public was welcome at all the office hours prayed there. Not only that, but for Sunday Vespers students were allowed to participate right along with the monkeys in the stalls. So, being a music major, and my theory teacher in college being also the Abbey organist and director of the Abbey schola cantorum, and thinking I might just take up monking myself, there I was.

However, the Revolution was in full swing, and Father was relieved of his university and monastic assignments by the powers that be after my sophomore year, and sent to parish work far, far, away. He was replaced for liturgy by a committee of a guitar-playing sociology professor, a guitar-playing German professor, and a guitar-playing theology professor. My senior year yearbook has a picture of them carrying on like you'd think they were all ablaze or something, with the caption "We need a new church -- with no pews!"

Such was the Revolution. They kept a close eye on this Concordia Seminary in St Louis MO, everyone rooting for developments there to pull the oppressed, repressed, suppressed and depressed LCMS out of the late Middle Ages and into the world of post Vatican II "renewal" like other churches. Except me.

I continued to use my Lives of the Saints, but no longer any reference to the office hours. Then I finally bailed from Christianity altogether in 1973 -- thinking of course that RC was Christianity in its full, true, and original form, and since that had imploded, no point in looking at wannabes, though I wished the poor bleeders trying to stay the course in LCMS well.

The Christian mistake, as I saw it then, did not invalidate the OT, as I called it then, and for the next 23 years I used for daily study the Law (torah) and Prophets and Writings (haftorah) selections in the Ashkenazi tradition for the Sabbaths and Festivals given in the legendary Hertz Chumash -- which among other things nails the historical-critical thing I was taught right to the wall, and remains one of my three "study" Bibles to this day.

On 15 December 1996, through I process I won't detail here but can only be the work of the Holy Spirit, I professed the Lutheran faith in a WELS parish. And being from then to now a big fan of the Little Catechism -- you kinda gotta be if you're gonna make that profession and mean it -- undertook morning and evening prayer, and prayer at meals for that matter, just like it suggests in the LC, with "whatever my devotion may suggest" being at the time the daily Meditations, a WELS publication similar to the LCMS Portals of Prayer I use now.

Luther's Morning and Evening Prayers from the LC struck me as pretty much everything has in Lutheranism as laid out by the Lutheran Reformers themselves -- straight up, uncomplicated and to the point, with a very straight up, uncomplicated and to the point message of the Gospel itself. Absolutely perfect for daily private devotions, not public prayer of the church in parishes or monasteries, for those who live in households, not ordered religious communities. For those who like a little more verbiage and something closer to a formal order, there are short orders available in our hymnals and study and reference Bibles from CPH.

I'm all for the Divine Office as part of the public prayer of the church along with the Divine Service. The thing about it is, this is public, not private, community, not individual, prayer. There is benefit from prayerful study or studious prayer of it. I would certainly not discourage anyone from that. One of the annual posts of my Blogoral Calendar is on the Divine Office to help foster appreciation of just that. But one is not praying the Divine Office in this way any more than one is participating in the Divine Service by studying or praying it at home.

To this day, I see nothing better for those who live in households for personal, private devotions than what the LC suggests, with something like Portals of Prayer, or what I have used since its publication, the selections from Walther called God Grant It, or what I just recently got, Bo Giertz' To Live With Christ. If you're LCMS you've got an LC and there's Portals of Prayer available in the vestibule of any parish worthy of the name, so you're all set. If not, you can get the LC for $10.25 and Portals of Prayer for $9/year; God Grant It is $19.99 and To Live With Christ is $8.00 on sale from $20.49; all at Concordia Publishing House.

So then, it's simple: the Sign of the Cross, the Creed, the Our Father, and if you choose, and I would recommend you choose, a daily reading from Portals of Prayer or God Grant It or To Live With Christ, and the Morning or Evening Prayer as applies. Five, maybe ten minutes, can stretch to more if you want or can.

Then go to your work or your sleep -- do not attempt both at once, as it annoys employers and spouses respectively -- joyfully and in good cheer!

1 comment:

Larry White said...

Works for me. Thanks for the summary history and recommendations! A retired public librarian, I am often blessed with the time to stretch my private devotion and study to include all of the above, though Portals of Prayer was only just pointed out to me (in the vestibule) last Sunday. As a catechumen, with all the other reading and chanting and singing I have and want to do, I had passed it by. Lo, and behold: it has the prayers and devotions in a very handy form, to supplement or substitute for the heavier books. Thanks!