Monday, November 30, 2015

Sounds pretty Lutheran to me. . .



Confessional Lutherans make much of the fact that the liturgical movement's fascination of liturgy as the work of the people or by the people misses the boat on so many levels.  We love to remind folks that the liturgy is God's work for us, God's serving of His gifts to His people.  What was impressive to me is this brief series explaining the Mass in which Fr Douglas Martis, the director of the Liturgical Institute of Mundelein Seminary, captures this very well and easily explains the nuances in that term that must be explored to understand the word fully.

The people's work, the work of Christ done on behalf of His people, and the work of the people in Christ doing what Christ has done... pretty Lutheran to me!  Or, could it be that there is more of a catholic consensus here than some would imagine, that liturgy has further dimensions that express the fuller notion of what it means to worship God.

12 comments:

ErnestO said...

He does a great job in all five episodes. I most appreciate his statement "Faith Tells Me" when explaining an important part or transition.

Carl Vehse said...

For the definition of liturgy, Lutherans look to the Lutheran Confessions, specifically to Ap.XXIV.78-83, and specifically:

"But let us speak of the word liturgy. 80] This word does not properly signify a sacrifice, but rather the public ministry, and agrees aptly with our belief, namely, that one minister who consecrates tenders the body and blood of the Lord to the rest of the people, just as one minister who preaches tenders the Gospel to the people, as Paul says, 1 Cor. 4:1: Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God, i.e., of the Gospel and the Sacraments. And 2 Cor. 5:20: We are ambassadors for Christ, as 81] though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ's stead, Be ye reconciled to God. Thus the term leitourgia agrees aptly with the ministry... And on account of the diphthong, grammarians do not derive it from lite, which signifies prayers, but from public goods, which they call leita, so that leitourgeo means, I attend to, I administer public goods."

As for relying on "Elements of the Catholic Mass", the Lutheran Confessions has something to say about that, too. The Smalcald Articles (II.II.1, 11) described the Catholic Mass as "Daß die Messe im Papsttum muss der grösste und schrecklichste Greül sein als die stracks und gewaltiglich wider diesen Hauptartikel strebt... Über das alles hat dieser Drachenschwanz, die Messe, viel Ungeziefer und Geschmeiss, mancherlei Abgötterei gezeugt." (The Mass in the Papacy must be the greatest and most horrible abomination, as it directly and powerfully conflicts with this chief article... Concerning all this, the dragon's tail, the Mass, has begotten a vermin-horde of idolatries.")

Martin Luther wrote: "May God grant to all devout Christians such hearts that when they hear the word 'mass,' they might be frightened and make the sign of the cross as though it were the devil's abomination; on the other hand, when they hear the word 'sacrament' or 'Lord's Supper' they might dance for pure joy…"

In his "Towards a Confessional Lutheran Understanding of the Liturgy" (Logia, 2:2, 1993, 9-12), Prof. John T. Pless states:

"Contrary to both the medieval Roman opinion that the liturgy or the Mass is church's sacrifice and the modern Liturgical Movement's slogan "Liturgy is the work of the people," the Confessions understand liturgy as God's work, Gottesdienst, Divine Service...

"Word and sacrament are by their very nature liturgy; they do not exist in the abstract but only in the fact of their institution by Christ and their administration by his called and ordained servants within his church. Here we may note the insistence of Article VII of the Augsburg Confession, not simply on "word and sacrament" somehow being present in the church, but rather "that the gospel be preached in conformity with a pure understanding of it and that the sacraments be administered in accordance with the divine word" (AC VIl,2)."

Anonymous said...

No less than Kurt Marquart has said that the idea of Gottesdiest and liturgy as God's service is a stretch of the word, a definition superimposed upon the original terms and their plain meaning. That does not mean we should not use it but that we dare not presume that this is what the terms originally or commonly meant.

As far as the the The Smalcald Articles (II.II.1, 11) description of the Catholic Mass, they do not mean here the liturgy itself but rather the sacrifice of the mass. One must be careful to note how the single term mass is used to refer to the Sacrament, the liturgy, and the sacrifice of the mass. Take care of the context.

inga said...

How do we respond to the EasternOrthodox who say that the roots or word LITURGY means "the work of the people" ?

Padre Dave Poedel said...

Larry: I concur. There is nothing here that I have not taught my people regarding the word and meaning of the Liturgy. After 10 years of catechesis, however, most of my lifelong Lutherans still hit me with "but if we just did what the other churches are doing we would get young people to come" and in the same breath "but don't change what you are doing for us". When presented with the seeming internal inconsistency of their requests they reluctantly agree that they want what "works" for the presumed throngs of young people waiting at our door and would stop going to all of those other churches in our neighborhood who offer "Praise and Worship" and fill our church if onlly we offered what they offer. They agree that what we offer is unique and beautiful, but presumably not what those throngs of people want.

I just announced my retirement when my replacement is Called and Installed. You can bet my successor will be a non-collared, probably owning one alb and one set of stoles (if that) who will do "traditional" worship in a perfunctory manner and then offer the presumed panacea of the P&W service. Since I live on the other side of Phoenix and don't believe in going back to interfere with the man who succeeds me, I will likely miss the traffic jams of people trying to get into the church now that it has been "freed" of the Liturgy. Yes, I am being sarcastic and cynical, but I have had enough.

Anonymous said...

I've read several journal articles that explore the use of leitourgias in places like Seleucid Syria and Roman Egypt. Basically, the articles describe a civic practice of avoiding taxation by performing a public work to benefit the community. Public works like setting up a row of marble columns along the decumanus, or dredging out a navigation canal would be used to request a reduction in monetary taxation. There would be thanksgiving activities set up by the local temples and plaques affixed to acknowledge the donors. A representative of the governor would come to make an inspection, approve the work, and speak appreciatively of the local donors at the dedicating plaque ceremonies. It all sounds remarkably familiar to much of what we do today.

Carl Vehse said...

The context is there in the Apology and the Smalcald Articles between the Lutheran understanding of the liturgy, that is the ministry of Word and Sacrament, and the Roman liturgy, which clothes the Roman Mass.

Paul said...

If there is such a dissonance between the Lutheran understanding of the liturgy and the Roman liturgy, clothing the Roman Mass, why was essentially all but the canon retained, including the term mass itself? I'd have to look up the citation, but I think Luther quipped that all the beautiful, evangelical parts of the liturgy were sung aloud by priest and people with the abominable parts spared from the people by being prayed silently. Luther's maintenance of the form of the mass and the retention of the term seem to be some worthwhile context too.

Carl Vehse said...

The procedure Lutherans followed is explained in AC.XXI.5 ff.

Some words or forms within the Roman Church may be used, but stripped of their perverted meanings, and returned to their original association with the Word and Sacrament of the Christian Church rightly taught and administered (AC.VII).

Also the term mass, although used in the AC as a word for the Lord's Supper was later rejected by Martin Luther, who referred to the Sacrament of the Altar in his Smalcald Articles, and then castigated the term "mass" in Part II, Article II. This was thoroughly discussed in a paper, "Luther and the Mass" by Rev. Daniel Preus:

Luther was convinced that the use of the terms “mass” and “sacrament” interchangeably has resulted in great confusion, and that the only way to provide a clear understanding of the nature of the Lord’s Supper is to stop calling it the mass. “Indeed, I wish and would very much like to see and hear that the two words ‘mass’ and ‘sacrament’ would be understood as being as different as darkness and light, yes, as different as devil and God.”

Anonymous said...

You are wrong. The Confessions DO distinguish between mass when it refers to the abomination (sacrifice of the mass) and mass the liturgy. The mass (ordo with everything except the canon spoken softly by the priest at the altar) was kept and approved without qualification once the sacrifice of the mass was removed. So much for your disdain for the Roman clothing, which Lutherans have been using without pause since the first shots of the Reformation were fired.

Carl Vehse said...

As I stated, the procedure Lutherans followed is explained in AC.XXI.5 ff, whether nonLutherans believe it or not.

Donna Fritz said...

Pastor Dave Poedel, my heart aches for you. I too live in the Phoenix "area" and go out of my way to worship at a traditional service. I understand "enough is enough" and have wept over my former LCMS congregation to become more culturally relevant. Finally I walked away with no regrets. I will pray for you and thank (although I don't know you) you for your service to the church. God bless you.