Friday, January 14, 2022

This kind of pope even Luther could like. . .

From the indomitable Fr. Hunwicke I read:

 " ... even in religious matters the Pope is bound, very considerably, by the Divine constitution of the Church. There are any number of things that the Pope cannot do in religion. He cannot modify, nor touch in any way, one single point of revelation Christ gave to the Church; his business is only to guard this against attack and false interpretation. We believe that God will so guide him that his decisions of this nature will be nothing more than a defence or unfolding of what Christ revealed. The Pope can neither make nor unmake a sacrament, he cannot affect the essence of any sacrament in any way. He cannot touch the Bible; he can neither take away a text from the inspired Scriptures nor add one to them. He has no fresh inspiration nor revelation. His business is to believe the revelation of Christ, as all Catholics believe it, and to defend it against heresy."  Dr Adrian Fortescue, The Early Papacy, 1920

Wags have said that Luther replaced one pope with everyone a pope -- especially the pastor.  I am not convinced that Luther should be held responsible for the desire and execution of a ministry and a congregation for the novel, unique, and spontaneous against what is catholic, traditional, and universal.  But the end result of the errors of the Reformation has certainly been the making of pope out of individual conscience, desire, and preference.  Who can argue with that?

But Dr. Fortescue, more well know for his liturgical writings than this volume, has struck a profound note that a papacy about responsibility instead of novelty or change is something Roman Catholics ought to be clamoring for and perhaps even a Lutheran could embrace.  A defender of the faith is what all orthodox Christians seek and need, now more than ever.  We have had enough of the changers who treat the doctrine and practice of the Church as if it were their own little playgrounds -- who reject the lauded and faithful deposit of their ancestors for the sake of what is invented for the moment.  This is true of pastors and congregations who are not content with the faith and piety received but it is even more true of the leaders who either actively pursue such novelty or who treat novelty as if it were the equal of the faith of our fathers.

For all of Luther's rhetoric and famous earthly vocabulary against his critics, look at what Luther did.  He was remarkably conservative in dealing with the liturgical legacy of the day.  Yes, our Roman brothers will insist that Luther was savage with the scalpel when it came to the Canon.  But in terms of the people in the nave, the changes Luther made were hardly noticeable except the clear chanting of the Words of Institution, to a Gospel tone, and the communion in both kinds.  The rest of the changes were very conservative, even cautious.  His Formula Missae is not even a real liturgical document so much as a series of rubrics on how to use the existing missal in an evangelical manner -- something so many Lutherans forget in their rush to the Deutche Messe (something hardly anyone uses as written but the justification for so much of what is real novelty in Lutheran worship!).   Strangely, we live at a time in which Francis might cozy up to Luther when it comes to things of the Mass -- all the while trying to undermine the Tridentine Mass that Rome made normative in the wake of Luther!

For my part, I wish we had a pope who paid some attention to Fortescue's words.  Certainly Benedict XVI is in that mold.  There is much that could come from such a pope who sees his role more as defender of the faith than instrument of change.  At this point in time, it is unsure if Rome wants such a pope and if there were such a pope, how willing Lutherans might be to engage him.  In any case, Luther's complaints had less to do with the first half of the Christian history before him than the second half.  We are probably in league with the Orthodox in this.  Like them, we welcome a primacy from Rome as defender of the faith and yet as one certainly accountable to the wider church for his stewardship of this responsibility.  What we remain to work out is largely a matter of jurisdiction.

 

5 comments:

Janis Williams said...

For all the Lutherans out there yelling at their screens: If you think this type attitude is waaay too Catholic, and would rather believe Luther was a radical, get a copy of a Roman Missal. St. Joseph’s, the Maryknoll, whatever. If you read through the Mass, you will see just how conservative (wanting to conserve, not change) Luther was.

I love Pr. Will Weldon’s take on Lutheranism. We are the Catholic Church of the West.

Steve said...

“But in terms of the people in the nave, the changes Luther made were hardly noticeable except the clear chanting of the Words of Institution, to a Gospel tone, and the communion in both kinds.”

Here are the changes Luther made to the divine service noticed by those in the pews:

1. Revised the canon to exclude all sacrificial language and secret prayers
2. Elimination of the offertory
3. Eliminated the eucharistic prayer
4. The Gloria was optional
5. The reason the congregation gathered was to hear God’s Word
6. The liturgy was to be used in liberty as long as it was practical and useful
7. The gospel was the center of worship

These changes resulted in noticeable differences in Lutheran worship:

1. The academic gown became the vestment of the ministry of the Word
2. The sermon became the center of worship
3. Congregational hymns increased in importance
4. Side altars were removed
5. Private masses were abandoned
6. Relics were sold or stored away
7. Doctrinally questionable religious art was removed
8. Prayers to saints were eliminated
9. Corpus Christi processions were abandoned
10. The habit of tending to the rosary by the laity during the Mass was abandoned
11. Crossing oneself was treated as adiaphora and abandoned
12. The chasuble (or surplice) and crucifix were maintained during the service of the Sacrament while abandoning other sartorial accoutrements (mitres, stoles, copes, etc.)

Carl Vehse said...

Pastoral Meanderings: For my part, I wish we had a pope who paid some attention to Fortescue's words.

Papist Adrian Fortescue's book is entitled, The Early Papacy to the Synod of Chalcedon in 451, in which he notes:

"These chapters were first published in the "Tablet" from Sept. 6 to Nov.8, 1919, in answer to a challenge to prove the Papal claims by documents of the early Church, not later than the Synod of Chalcedon in 451.... Of course the limit of the year 451 is an absolutely arbitrary one, accepted only because the opponent chose it."

Those Papal claims are stated on p. 16:

"(1) The Pope is the chief bishop, primate and leader of the whole Church of Christ on earth. (2) He has episcopal jurisdiction over all members of the Church. (3) To be a member of the Catholic Church a man must be in communion with the Pope. (4) The providential guidance of God will see to it that the Pope shall never commit the Church to error in any matter of religion." [Papal infallibility]

Contrary to the blasphemous claims of Fortescue, Lutherans subscribe to what the Lutheran Confessions exposit:

"That the Pope is not, according to divine law or according to the Word of God the head of all Christendom (for this [name] belongs to One only, whose name is Jesus Christ), but is only the bishop and pastor of the Church at Rome, and of those who voluntarily or through a human creature (that is, a political magistrate) have attached themselves to him, to be Christians, not under him as a lord, but with him as brethren [colleagues] and comrades, as the ancient councils and the age of St. Cyprian show....

"And the Papacy is also of no use in the Church, because it exercises no Christian office; and therefore it is necessary for the Church to continue and to exist without the Pope....

"Therefore the Church can never be better governed and preserved than if we all live under one head, Christ, and all the bishops equal in office (although they be unequal in gifts), be diligently joined in unity of doctrine, faith, Sacraments, prayer, and works of love, etc., as St. Jerome writes that the priests at Alexandria together and in common governed the churches, as did also the apostles, and afterwards all bishops throughout all Christendom, until the Pope raised his head above all.

"This teaching shows forcefully that the Pope is the very Antichrist, who has exalted himself above, and opposed himself against Christ because he will not permit Christians to be saved without his power, which, nevertheless, is nothing, and is neither ordained nor commanded by God."

Pastor Peters said...

Really, some of you need to take a chill pill. The point was that if popes were truly defenders of the Biblical faith, Luther would have had little point. It is precisely because they were not and are not (Francis) that Lutherans dispute the universal jurisdiction and primacy of the Pope. Lighten up a bit guys.

Pastor Peters said...

Here are the changes Luther made to the divine service noticed by those in the pews:

1. Revised the canon to exclude all sacrificial language and secret prayers

Due to the fact that the canon was prayed in soft voice or virtually silently, they would not quite have noticed now would they. What they did notice was the chanted Verba in Gospel tone.

2. Elimination of the offertory

Offertory prayers - again not quite prominent to the laity.

3. Eliminated the eucharistic prayer

Well, at least the Roman Canon in use at the time. I am aware of no treatment by the Lutherans on the idea of a Eucharistic Prayer prior to the 20th centery.

4. The Gloria was optional

Hardly a good thing and rejected by the Lutherans who followed...

5. The reason the congregation gathered was to hear God’s Word

And receive the Sacrament -- Luther encouraged frequent communion -- a lot more frequent than was the ordinary practice known in his day.

6. The liturgy was to be used in liberty as long as it was practical and useful

In theory but in practicality it was prescribed by jurisdictions and not the subject of either the local pastor or parish's freedom to do as they pleased. The jurisdictions retained the form of the Divine Service.

7. The gospel was the center of worship

Obvious.

These changes resulted in noticeable differences in Lutheran worship:

1. The academic gown became the vestment of the ministry of the Word

Especially for the Reformed style Lutherans. . .

2. The sermon became the center of worship

Not the center but one of the twin pillars.

3. Congregational hymns increased in importance

Though Latin continued in the ordinary for a very long time.

4. Side altars were removed

Or simply not used due to the end of the private mass.

5. Private masses were abandoned
6. Relics were sold or stored away
7. Doctrinally questionable religious art was removed

Curious. Lutheran buildings retain almost all of the pre-Reformation art.

8. Prayers to saints were eliminated
9. Corpus Christi processions were abandoned
10. The habit of tending to the rosary by the laity during the Mass was abandoned
11. Crossing oneself was treated as adiaphora and abandoned

Though prescribed in the morning and evening prayers of Luther's Catechism.

12. The chasuble (or surplice) and crucifix were maintained during the service of the Sacrament while abandoning other sartorial accoutrements (mitres, stoles, copes, etc.)

In some places, but not Scandinavia, which, thanks to Gustavus Adolphus, saved the German Lutherans from certain defeat.