We Lutherans are about to celebrate the Feast of St Monica on 27 August. Thing is, the Feast of St Monica is 4 May, has been since there's been such a feast in the 13th Century, and the Lutheran Reformation didn't have an issue with it. But Vatican II did in the 1960s and moved it, so of course we follow suit as if Vatican II were held in St Louis.
Huh? Who cares? Who is, and why should I bother about this Monica anyway? The last Monica anyone heard about was Lewinsky or Seles! What difference does any of this make? I mean, it's all adiaphora, right, so why trample on my Christian Freedom with all this dead weight from the past?
OK, Monica was the mother of St Augustine. Great, whozzat? Well, he is arguably the most influential Christian theologian ever. We'll leave whether that was for better or worse, as well as biographies of Augustine or Monica, aside here. You can check that out in our next post, for 6 September, or at Section VIII of Eastern Church/Empire, Western Church/Empire, posted on 16 January annually on this blog.
Except for this essential: Augustine was quite non-Christian, anti-Christian really, held the most prestigious professorship in his time, and his conversion was brought about in part 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 faith sees that as 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. Simple. But St Monica's date of death is not known, and when the person's date of death is not known, some other date of significance about the person's life is chosen. Here's the story on hers.
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?
OK, the "Augustinian Order" is a rather motley assortment of religious associations rather than a clear cut single entity, 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 on 28 August, another observance whose focus was his conversion to Christianity, which conversion in turn influenced the entire later church.
This Augustinian feast, the Feast of the Conversion of St Augustine, was and still 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, on the day before, 4 May. The Conversion feast never did make it into the overall Roman Calendar, but when St Monica's did, since her date of death is not known, the traditional Augustinian date was retained, 4 May. Simple.
And was retained in the Lutheran Reformation for centuries. 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 order and came up with an entirely new order (novus ordo), sporting four "Eucharistic Prayers", several new options for other key parts of the Mass, a new lectionary of readings spread out over three years, and a new calendar.
Wonderful -- a new hodgepodge crafted from an even wider spread of historical sources than the old hodgepodge that was supposed to be pared down! Oh well, it was the 1960s after all. I guess you gotta make allowances for that.
One small 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. 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.
However, 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 not because of her physical motherhood of St Augustine but because of her example in the conversion of her pagan son, who went on to be one of the church's greatest saints, and that we do so on 4 May because in the religious order that looks to her son as their patron saint they had long celebrated Monica on 4 May, the day before they celebrated the conversion of their patron on 5 May.
See? Takes one short paragraph tops, even for me.
Sorry, Roman church dudes. There already was a liturgical reform. It was to pare down all right, but in view of what contradicts Scripture, not in view of our ideas of what makes something more "accessible", and to zealously guard and defend the worship of the church's existing order, not to 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 now 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 other 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.
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 that we can Lutheranise, when we set Lutheranised "options" modelled after 1960s Rome before them as confessional, side by side with our common catholic history -- this historical mass or that Vatican II For Lutherans mass, this historical lectionary or that Vatican II For Lutherans lectionary, this historical calendar or that Vatican II For Lutherans calendar.
Why would they not listen to Willow Creek and Saddleback and Lakewood too with their false hopes and promises when we adopt and adapt the stinking filth of the Whore of Babylon as it toys with our catholic heritage? Having done that why would 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!
Even in a small matter like when a saint's day is observed the whole rotten Roman mess in the church is revealed, and its adoption/adaptation by other church bodies!
St Monica gave St Augustine physical birth, but her greatness for which we honour her is not that but in her role in his spiritual birth, his conversion, 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 of St Augustine into the Calendar, rather than moving her feast day from a day which does have inherent reference to her to the day before her son's feast, which does not.
Jacking around with the feast of St Monica is a small example but it's typical of a big issue. Once again, the calendar, lectionary and ordo of Vatican II all miss the mark, even of its own intended reform. They are the products not of the Christian church, but one denomination, and that headed by an office bearing the marks of Anti-Christ -- regardless of its current occupancy by a nice guy of Italian descent from Argentina -- and now are 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, Rome no less than they offers "contemporary worship" whose forms derive from and express a content that is not ours and rejects ours, which content is derived from an agenda that is not ours and rejects ours, and therefore into which our content does not fit nor should we try to make it fit, and, when we do, we abandon that part of our mission which is to zealously guard and defend the mass, for the most part retaining the ceremonies previously in use, just as our Confessions state.
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