Saturday, August 22, 2009

LCMS to ELCA Lutherans

President Gerald Kieschnick of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod has issued a response to the Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in the wake of their majority vote granting non-celibate homosexual ministers the privilege of serving as rostered leaders in the ELCA and affirming same gender unions as pleasing to God. An excerpt:
I speak these next words in deep humility, with a heavy heart and no desire whatsoever to offend. The decisions by this assembly to grant non-celibate homosexual ministers the privilege of serving as rostered leaders in the ELCA and the affirmation of same gender unions as pleasing to God will undoubtedly cause additional stress and disharmony within the ELCA. It will also negatively affect the relationships between our two church bodies. The current division between our churches threatens to become a chasm. This grieves my heart and the hearts of all in the ELCA, the LCMS, and other Christian church bodies throughout the world who do not see these decisions as compatible with the Word of God, or in agreement with the consensus of 2000 years of Christian theological affirmation regarding what Scripture teaches about human sexuality. Simply stated, this matter is fundamentally related to significant differences in how we understand the authority of Holy Scripture and the interpretation of God’s revealed and infallible Word.

Only by the mercy of our Almighty God does hope remain for us poor, miserable sinners. By His grace, through Word and Sacraments, the evangelical witness and authentic message of sin and grace, Law and Gospel, must resound to a troubled world so desperately in need of His love in Christ.
Serious business. Please pray for our Lutheran brothers and sisters; Let us join in the prayer of Christ from John 17:
I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
Ut unum sint.

And with your spirit

The USCCB has put up a website introducing the Third Edition of the Roman Missal, which includes an updated translation of the English text of the mass. For those of you who haven't seen the new translation, here are some examples of the changes in the priest's parts and the responses of the faithful.

The website notes:
The Missale Romanum (the Roman Missal), the ritual text for the celebration of the Mass, was first promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970 as the definitive text of the reformed liturgy of the Second Vatican Council. A second edition followed in 1975.

Pope John Paul II issued a revised version of the Missale Romanum during the Jubilee Year 2000. The English translation of the revised Roman Missal is nearing completion, and the Bishops of the United States will vote on the final sections of the text this November. Among other things, the revised edition of the Missale Romanum contains prayers for the observances of recently canonized saints, additional prefaces for the Eucharistic Prayers, additional Votive Masses and Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Intentions, and some updated and revised rubrics (instructions) for the celebration of the Mass. The English translation of the Roman Missal will also include updated translations of existing prayers, including some of the well–known responses and acclamations of the people.

This website has been prepared to help you prepare for the transition. As this site continues to be expanded, you will find helpful resources for the faithful, for the clergy, and for parish and diocesan leaders.

May this process of the implementation of the revised Roman Missal be a time of deepening, nurturing, and celebrating our faith through our worship and the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy.
Amen to that. Here's hoping that the implementation is not done hastily without regard for truly helping folks appreciate the depth that is opened up with this new translation. Naturally, it will shake things up a bit. Perhaps that's a good thing.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Benedictines on Mount Athos

Irenaeus over at the (Orthodox) Eirenikon blog has posted a fine article by Dom Leo Bonsall from the Eastern Churches Review (1969). The article discusses some of the history of the Benedictine Order in the East and the historical presence of a Benedictine monastery, the Benedictine Monastery of St Mary, on Mount Athos.
BENEDICTINE contacts with the Church of the East have been many and varied, but the foundation of the abbey of St Mary on Mount Athos and its continuing existence during a period when official relations between Rome and Constantinople were at a very low ebb is perhaps the outstanding example of monastic co-operation transcending the estrangement of East and West. The full history of the monastery has never been written, for much of it is shrouded in mystery. There are very few documents and the dating of some of these is difficult; all that visibly remains of the buildings is a tower and a few walls on the eastern side of the Athonite peninsula. It is hardly surprising that one of the first Benedictine foundations in the East should have been made by monks from the maritime city republic of Amalfi: Amalfitan merchant ships were trading throughout the area, and monks from that city continued their founding work with the monastery of St Mary the Latin in Jerusalem, and another monastery in Constantinople itself.
I highly encourage you to read the whole article.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bishop Edward Slattery and Ad Orientem

The New Liturgical Movement blog is reporting that Bishop Edward Slattery of the Diocese of Tulsa is restoring the celebration of mass ad orientem in his own cathedral church. Bishop Slattery speaks on the subject in his diocesan newspaper:
An innovation with unforeseen consequences

In the last 40 years, however, this shared orientation was lost; now the priest and the people have become accustomed to facing in opposite directions. The priest faces the people while the people face the priest, even though the Eucharistic Prayer is directed to the Father and not to the people.

This innovation was introduced after the Vatican Council, partly to help the people understand the liturgical action of the Mass by allowing them to see what was going on, and partly as an accommodation to contemporary culture where people who exercise authority are expected to face directly the people they serve, like a teacher sitting behind her desk. Unfortunately this change had a number of unforeseen and largely negative effects. First of all, it was a serious rupture with the Church’s ancient tradition. Secondly, it can give the appearance that the priest and the people were engaged in a conversation about God, rather than the worship of God. Thirdly, it places an inordinate importance on the personality of the celebrant by placing him on a kind of liturgical stage...

Recovering the sacred

Even before his election as the successor to St. Peter, Pope Benedict has been urging us to draw upon the ancient liturgical practice of the Church to recover a more authentic Catholic worship. For that reason, I have restored the venerable ad orientem position when I celebrate Mass at the Cathedral. This change ought not to be misconstrued as the Bishop “turning his back on the faithful,” as if I am being inconsiderate or hostile. Such an interpretation misses the point that, by facing in the same direction, the posture of the celebrant and the congregation make explicit the fact that we journey together to God. Priest and people are on this pilgrimage together.
Bravo to the bishop for doing this and also for making sure folks understand it. It is a difficult move, though, given that so many Catholics today have grown so used to the current orientation. It is a given that some will feel alienated by a move such a this. However, it is my belief that restoring ad orientem, when done prudently and pastorally, will go a long way to more fully recover the sense of the sacred in the divine liturgy. Above all, I am just happy that we have such a gift as the mass.

Monday, August 17, 2009

There were no sponge-cake saints

It is inevitable that you should feel the rub of other people's characters against your own. After all, you are not a gold coin that everyone likes.

Besides, without that friction produced by contact with others, how would you ever lose those corners, those edges and projections — the imperfections and defects — of your character, and acquire the smooth and regular finish, the firm flexibility of charity, of perfection?

If your character and the characters of those who live with you were soft and sweet like sponge-cake you would never become a saint.

-St. Josemaría Escrivá, from The Way, #20


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