December 5, 2009

Anglicanorum Coetibus and the Renewal of Catholic Liturgy--Recap

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December 4th, 2009

Thanks to everyone who joined in Liturgy & Lager last night in Charlotte. It was especially good to have with us Sid Cundiff, who is doing so much to promote the traditional liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church.

The points of similarity between traditional (i.e., ancient and organically developing) Catholic liturgy and the Anglican Prayer Book are fascinating to contemplate. For example, in many cases we find a beautiful and accurate translation of traditional Roman collects in the Anglican Prayer Book. Many of these same prayers have been excised from the Missal of Pope Paul VI, and replaced with novel compositions and / or redactions. Compare the 1962 Missal to both the historic Prayer Book and the 1970 Missal, especially at high points in the liturgical season, and you will find more similarities between the traditional Catholic liturgy and the Anglican liturgy than between the traditional Catholic liturgy and its modern counterpart.

With the pope's creation of the Anglican Ordinariate, there is an historic opportunity to wed Catholic theology with the finest form (aesthetically speaking) of English liturgy.Perhaps Catholics of the Anglican Ordinariate will be allowed to adopt a liturgy that is based directly upon the Sarum Use of the historic Roman Rite, which will be expressed by traditional, liturgical English, drawing directly from Cranmer's masterful translations of the old Roman prayers, while eschewing once and for all his non-Catholic theological insertions and omissions.

May God continually bless the work of Pope Benedict XVI, architect of the Anglican Ordinariate, and the first and foremost hero of the Catholic liturgical reform.

October 12, 2009

Reprise

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L&L of October 2009, our 18th (count 'em) session, found five or six guys having a good discussion, facilitated by a great presentation by Chris Lauer, on the topic of "Communion in the Hand." This was a reprise of the same presentation back in June, which few of us were able to attend. I think that there were some differences in perspective at play in our talk, but noted large agreement on principles.

Here is the link to the document: Communion in the Hand.

Bishops

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On September 11, five or six men gathered to consider the office of Bishop. Some shared personal recollections of time spent with our Bishop (Diocese of Charlotte). What a blessing to live in a cathedral city, and to hear Mass at which the Bishop presides, assisted by a faithful deacon.

We spent a lot of time talking about the relation of the bishops in a given city (e.g., ordinaries and suffragans, bishops in different rites), the relation of the bishops to the presbyters who are not bishops, and the development of the diocese. We also discussed the anachronistic definitions and subsequently skewed history of some historians and exegetes who deny that the episcopal and hierarchical principle was operative from the beginning of the Church.

August 9, 2009

Liturgy in the First Century

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This is a recap and summary of our session on "Liturgy in the First Century."

Introduction

The primary points of contact for our knowledge of the first century liturgy lie on one end with the Jewish liturgies, and the little data which can be gleaned from the New Testament, and the far later, but well documented, fourth century liturgies. We have a few texts, reliable but vague, from the second and third century that help us piece together the puzzle, but ultimately our study lies in drawing on what we know from these ends, and reconstructing the development in-between.

Three liturgies would have been common place in the first century: the Synaxis, the Eucharist, and the Agape meal. We will look at these each individually but first, a few milestones or key points of interest are important to keep in mind:

The Judeo-Centricity of Early Christianity

1. For about the first 10 years of Christianity, it was almost exclusively composed of Jewish converts.

2. The early Christians were in the habit of attending temple daily. [1]

3. The early Christians continued celebrating in the Synagogues alongside the Jews on the Sabbath for several years in some places.

4. Up to nineteen years after Christ's resurrection, new converts to Christianity, generally speaking, had to convert to Judaism before becoming Christian. Namely, they were to be circumcised, to eat Kosher, and to follow the Mosaic Law. The Jerusalem Council was called to settle this controversy in 49 AD. [2]

5. James, the bishop of Jerusalem, while the temple was still standing was in the habit of wearing the priestly robes, entering the temple, and offering intercessory prayer on behalf of his flock. [3]

The Domesticity of Worship

The Jews allowed Gentiles to participate in their public liturgies at the Synagogue. Gentiles were even allowed to enter the outer courts of the temple. [4] But there was a rigorous exclusion of Gentile participation in the sacred home liturgies (such as the Seder meal). Initially Christians had no public liturgy, only domestic liturgy and so the controversies regarding the direct inclusion of the Gentile converts into the Christian Church are easily understood within this context. [5]

The Destruction of the Temple

In 70 AD, the temple was destroyed. This was an earth shattering event for the Jews and a radical shift for the Jewish-Christians. It was a powerful sign that the "Kingdom" had come "with power." [6]

The book of Hebrews was written in the 60s to explain to the Jewish Christians that Jesus was the true High Priest,[7] that animal sacrifices were no longer necessary,[8] and that Christ's sacrifice was perpetually sufficient. [9] If it seems obvious to us in hindsight, it wasn't obvious to the early Jewish Christians, particularly while the temple was still standing.

The Synaxis

Synaxis is the Greek word meaning "meeting" and is the organic continuity of the Saturday Synagogue worship. Once the Christians were no longer allowed in the synagogues, they continued celebrating approximately the same rite with added Christians developments and themes. The original liturgies would have been held, like the synagogue service, in Hebrew, and some of the words, like "amen" and "hallelujah", survive to this day. In the early part of the 1st century, it is unlikely that the Synaxis would have be recognizably different from the Synagogue service except for the setting. The Synaxis can be understood as the seed of what we now call the Liturgy of the Word. Some key differences include that, in the first century, there were no introduction rites, no penitential rite and no Gloria. These were all later additions.

Basic Structure

1. Greeting and Response (The Lord be with you - or Peace be unto you)

2. Lections & Psalmody (The Jews read in order of descending importance, starting with the Pentateuch. The early Christian kept the original order of the Synagogue, but as Christian Scripture became available, it was tacked on the end. Thus the order of importance became reversed for Christians. They read in ascending order of importance):

   i. Old Testament Reading
ii. Pslamody (or chanted Psalm)
iii. New Testament Reading (sometimes included non-canonical books like 1 Clement)
iv. Psalmody
v. Gospel Reading

3. Homily (Bishop delivers while seated)

4. Dismissal of Catechumens by Deacon

5. Intercessory Prayers of the Faithful

6. Dismissal of the Faithful

Occasionally a collection would be taken for the poor at the end. This was not the offertory.

The Eucharist

Derived from the Seder meal, in its fullest, proper setting, the Eucharist is the celebration of the new Passover. 'Pascha' (or Easter) is the pinnacle of the Christian worship. Initially, it is likely that in some or many Christian Churches, the Eucharist was celebrated but once a year at Passover. The celebration of this high feast of Christian worship expanded to Jewish feast days like Pentecost, and by the end of the first century, the Church had grown to understand every Sunday as a mini-Easter. The Eucharist would have been celebrated early on Sunday morning, a working day in the Roman empire.

The Eucharist was understood as the duty of the bishop and initially, we have every reason to believe that all Eucharists were celebrated by the bishop. But as the Church grew, this became impractical. By the end of the first century, this duty is being delegated to presbyters.[10]

Basic Structure

1. Greeting & Response

2. Kiss of Peace

3. Offertory (Communicants bring their own bread & wine to set on the altar)

4. Eucharistic Prayer (The earliest Eucharistic prayer would have been simply a direct continuity of the Jewish eucharistic (thanksgiving) prayer with added Messianic meaning. Noticeable differences in the first century Eucharistic prayer and today's include: a. no Sanctus, b. no Lord's prayer, c. no narrative) The Anaphora of Hippolytus is the oldest Eucharistic prayer we have in tact and it dates around 215 AD. [11]

5. Fraction

6. Communion (Received standing)

7. Dismissal

The Agape

There was probably a time where the Agape meal was celebrated along with the Eucharist, as seems to be the case in 1 Corinthians 11. But this practice died out sometime in the first century although the Agape continued by itself for several centuries. The only specific and technical reference to the Agape in the New Testament is found in Jude. [12]

The Agape has connections with Mediterranean funeral feasts, said in honor of a deceased hero or family member, and with the Jewish chaburah meal. This was a communal meal Jews would eat on the eve of the Sabbath and all important Jewish feasts. Jesus would have had this meal many times with His disciples. It was liturgical, although less formal than the Eucharist or even the Synaxis. Only baptized Christians were allowed to participate in this meal.

Like all early liturgies, it was celebrated in the home. But unlike the Eucharist, it would not be celebrated in the atrium/tablinum but in the dining room (triclinium). Thus, it would be held in smaller numbers and in various homes throughout the Christian community.[13] The Christians traditionally celebrated the Agape on Sunday evenings.

Basic Structure

1. Introductory Prayer (the president blesses the food)

2. Meal (In the West, it seems that the breaking of the bread was part of the meal, in the East, it followed the meal. In the West, each person blessed their own cup which would have been consistent with the Jewish tradition at the chaburah meal as opposed to the communal cup for high feasts like the Seder meal.)

3. Washing of Hands

4. Lighting of the Lamp (brought in by the deacon, blessed by the bishop)

5. Psalms/Hymns

6. Bishop blesses the cup (kiddish or kiddush cup, not the cup of blessing which was reserved for the Eucharist only.)

7. Bishop gives thanks for the bread and distributes

Notice the order in contrast to the Eucharist. In the Agape meal, the cup precedes the bread. The Agape is described using the name "eucharist" in the Didache chapter 9. We know this because the cup precedes the bread. Later, in chapter 14, the Eucharist proper is explained. The term Eucharist means "thanksgiving" of course, and in the first century, it was not yet a technical reference to what we now call the Eucharist. Any prayer of thanksgiving at a meal would have been a "eucharistic prayer."

Summary

By the end of the first century, the standard Christian liturgical observations would be as follows. On Saturday, you would attend the Synaxis. On Sunday morning you would attend the Eucharist, before dawn. You would go to work that day and then in the evening, you would attend an Agape meal at the house of a presbyter or perhaps the bishop's house.

Suggested reading:

Mike Aquilina "The Mass of the Early Christians"

Gregory Dix "The Shape of the Liturgy"

  1. ↑ Acts 2:46
  2. ↑ Acts 15
  3. ↑ Recorded by Hegesippus and Preserved by Eusebius in Church History 2.23.4-6 Compare with the requirements for priestly garments in Exodus 28:41-43.
  4. ↑ Dix, Gregory The Shape of the Liturgy pg16
  5. ↑ See particularly Galatians 1-2
  6. ↑ Mark 9:1. Also see Mark 13 & its synoptic parallels.
  7. ↑ e.g. Hebrews 4:14
  8. ↑ Hebrews 9:9,23, 10:1, etc...
  9. ↑ Hebrews 10
  10. ↑ Thus in the early second century St. Ignatius of Antioch says to the Smyrnaeans, "Let that eucharist alone be considered valid which is celebrated in the presence of the bishop, or of him to whom he shall have entrusted it."
  11. ↑ See a helpful comparison between Hippolytus and the modern Eucharistic Prayer II here: http://thecrossreference.blogspot.com/2008/02/liturgy-eucharistic-prayer-ii.html
  12. ↑ Jude 1:12
  13. ↑ Paul seems to indicate that the "home" is the proper place for this in 1 Corinthians 11:22 (as opposed to the particular home which would likely have been blessed by the bishop as the location for celebrating the Eucharist.) Centuries later, certain canons forbade the use of Church buildings for Agape meals.

July 13, 2009

Open Session--Recap

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We are well into the teens and I am losing count of sessions. This last one, let's call it Sweet Sixteen, was attended by the square root of Sixteen. We threw caution to the wind and talked about what comes naturally to mind: the Pope's latest encyclical (ambivalent), distributism (ditto), Anglican doings (ambivalent in essence), Our Lady of Walsingham, Orthodox ecclesiology, the philosophical preconditions of reading the Bible, and whether or not St. Thomas was thinking of unformed faith in his article on hope when he said that even someone not in a state of grace, provided that they have faith in God's omipotence and mercy, can be certain of the good of eternal life.

Forever and ever amen.

July 3, 2009

Open Session on July 10, 2009

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For the first time since our first meeting, Liturgy & Lager will feature an "open session" format. If you have something in particular on your mind, and so long it has nothing to do with your feelings, relationships or other such unmentionables, please show up and hold forth. This might be a great session for our Protestant brethren to ask a bunch of Papists how in the world we can believe the things we believe. Please try to be specific in your critique of our credulity. We might return the favor. Failing such ecumenical overtures, the Catholics should have plenty to discuss, and maybe even some stuff to debate. Come help us hoist a few, and spread the word.

(Click the link above for date, time and location. Well, heck, here you go: Friday, July 10, 2009, 7:15 pm, at Texas Land & Cattle restaurant, Charlotte, NC, in the University Area, just off Harris Blvd. across from University Place. We have a room reserved.)

June 18, 2009

Communion In Hand - Recap

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Chris Lauer, newcomer to the group and to Charlotte in general, lead this informative session. With the nice weather, we decided to change things up a bit - Chris invited the group to his house for a nice cook-out. The topic was "Communion in Hand". Click here to download a PDF of the notes from this session.

May 13, 2009

Development of Doctrine

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Our 13th meeting took place at The Flying Saucer on Friday May 1, 2009. The topic was "Development of Doctrine" (see preview, below).

We focused upon our subject as presented by John Henry Newman in his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine. Six people, as many as would comfortably fit around one bench on the patio of the Flying Saucer, discussed the topic quite thoroughly.

We drank to the memory of the good Cardinal, and concluded by considering what might be some of the weaknesses of his theory (a not incongruous juxtaposition, I am sure). We all seemed to be of the opinion that the theory is successful--a satisfying construal of the evidence at hand.

April 19, 2009

Church Infallibility

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The topic of April's meeting was Church Infallibility. We were joined this evening by an elder from the OPC and a member of the PCA. The following are notes from April's meeting on Church infallibility:

What is infallibility? Immunity from error on dogmatic teachings regarding faith or morals.

a)contrast with inerrancy
b)infallibility does not mean…

What are the conditions?

a)Dogma – to be definitely held,
b)Regarding faith or morals

What is the basis for Church infallibility?

a)that Christ established the Church
b)that the Church’s fundamental mission is Christ’s mission extended - to save sinners – to deliver the Word
c)whatever Church Christ established must not be a failure – it will succeed
d)to succeed in its goal means to protect and deliver the Word – to fail would be to destroy or pervert the Word:

Pope Benedict XVI Said - “This doctrine obviously needs to be understood very precisely within its correct limitations, so as not to be misused or misunderstood. It doesn't mean that every word that the ecclesiastical authorities say, or even every word said by a pope, is infallible. It certainly does mean that wherever the Church, in the great spiritual and cultural struggles of history, and after all possible prayer and grappling with the truth, insists that this is the correct interpretation and draws a line there, she has been promised that in this instance she will not lead people in to error. That she will not be turned into an instrument of destruction for the Word of God, but remains the mother, the living agent, within whom the Word is alive and truly expresses Himself and is truly interpreted.”

e)Therefore the Church, as Church must be infallible.
f)What is the “Church”?
g)What can Acts 15 teach us of infallibility?
a.Could the Church have gotten it wrong?
b.Would Jerusalem Council be infallible if it wasn’t recorded in Scripture?
c.Is the Church of Acts 15 still around?
h)What can the OT precedent teach us of infallibility?
a.Moses – Judges – Prophets , speaking infallibly on God’s behalf
b.Signs especially regarding the high priest. Talmud & crimson thread

How is Church infallibility different from Scripture?

a)the Catholic dogma on the such is that Sacred Tradition & Scripture have the same number of errors not that they are equivalent in every way
a.Which tradition is infallible? Only Apostolic Tradition.
b)Scripture has a certain primacy
c)infallibility does not imply impeccability
d)infallibility does not imply infallible arguments nor pure human motives

Were the Apostles Infallible?

Newman:
We have no reason to suppose that there is so great a distinction of dispensation between ourselves and the first generation of Christians, as that they had a living infallible guidance, and we have not.

what can be more absurd than a probable infallibility, or a certainty resting on doubt?—I believe, because I am sure; and I am sure, because I suppose.
Is Infallibility Necessary?

Newman:
The advocates of Rome, it has been urged, "insist on the necessity of an infallible guide in religious matters, as an argument that such a guide has really been accorded.
Scripture Prooftexts:

Matthew 28:18-20;
Matthew 16:18;
John 14, 15, and 16;
I Timothy 3:14-15; and
Acts 15:28 sq.

April 17, 2009

Development of Doctrine (Next Session)

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Preview of L&L, Session XIII, for Friday May 1st, 2009 at 7:15 pm (see link above) ... wherein we might discuss the fact of doctrinal development in the Catholic Church and at least one theory whereby to account for this fact.

I make bold to develop L&L doctrine along the lines of writing an article for which to preview our upcoming Session. Key and, perhaps, controversial assertions and questions of my own are numbered (these are the things upon which I hope to hone). I hope to come back with a more specific reading list, highlighting those sections in the linked documents which I really like, or really do not like.

My own rough and ready understanding of the phenomenon in question is that:

A development of doctrine occurs when the Church Catholic defines as a matter of Faith some doctrine that had not previously been so defined and which can only be deduced from Scripture and hitherto received Apostolic Tradition by a series of inferences (whether more or less obvious), said doctrine (so defined) not being explicitly articulated in the deposit of Faith once, and once only, delivered to the Church.

(1) I want to make clear at the outset that the question of Development of Doctrine has much to do with the identity of the Church, hence, it ought to be brought to bear upon where you will go on Sunday morning and what you will do there.

As for me and my house (that would be me), we will go where latreia is offered to the Blessed Trinity, Father, Son, Holy Spirit; where the Son is confessed as homoousian with the Father; the Spirit likewise acknowledged a divine Person, worshiped and glorified; the Son true God and true man, the natures hypostatically united in one Person, that Person fully human and fully divine, having two complete natures, human and divine; consequently, two wills, human and divine, his incarnation rendering holy the images of the holy, which are to be venerated by all the faithful; where hyperdulia is rendered to the Ever-Virgin and All-Immaculate Mother of God; where saints and angels are invoked; where Scripture, such as Tobit and 1 Maccabees and Hebrews, is read, indulgences are made available, the Eucharist is worshiped, the Sacrifice re-presented, Our Lord really present (in the full sense of transubstantiation) upon the Altar and in the Tabernacle; the "Our Father" prayed, and the Pope acknowledged Shepherd under Christ of every Christian on earth, having the charism of infallibility by virtue of his own office, and not only with the approval of or in conjunction with an Ecumenical Council.

Now, I know that none of this doctrine, stated in just this way, can be easily found in the 73 books of Scripture (the written record of prophetic and apostolic doctrine) or the earliest Fathers (who presumably remembered and handed on those doctrines which the Apostles handed to them by word of mouth).

(2) But I believe that it is all the word of God, the deposit of faith, once delivered to the saints. The theory of the development of doctrine has helped me to understand how what I certainly believe to be the case is in fact the case.

(3) In short: The subsequently "developed" doctrines are already there, in the very earliest Apostolic Tradition (written and unwritten), albeit in undeveloped, seed-like form. The tree has grown somewhat since.

However, there are all sorts of fellows who object to this notion. For example, the "undevelopers" supremely love to quote St. Vincent of Lerins to the effect that authentic doctrine does not and cannot develop. Developed doctrines are, by definition, not "Catholic" doctrines.

(4) Now, I take it as a plain fact that Catholic doctrines have in some important sense "developed" in the Catholic Church.


The undevelopers, however, boldly say that the notion of doctrinal development is an obtrusive innovation of that dubious (as judged from a variety of standpoints) fellow Newman.

(5) Interestingly enough, some idea of Development of Doctrine seems to have been advanced by St. Vincent of Lerins himself.

In this case, the idea of "development" was merely developed rather than invented by the Venerable John Henry Newman.

Anyway, no dogmatic decrees to the contrary, any notion of development stands or falls on intellectual merit.

(6) For example: Does the development theory make sense of the facts of dogmatic and ecclesial history?

(7) Should we expect, given those most ancient and extant records of the body of Christian teaching, any subsequent development of that teaching?

And so forth.

Newman famously makes his case in An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine . (Here is something for those of you who would rather listen.)

In the interests of equal time for the undevelopment theorists, here is the considered thought of a gentleman who objects to Newman's Essay: Criticism of Newman's Theory. Towards the end, he even goes so far as to quote Papists to the effect that doctrine does not develop.

(8) So we (Catholics) may also have an in-house debate on our hands.


(9) The basis of the theory of undeveloped doctrine is supposed to be this bit from St. Vincent,

Moreover, in the Catholic Church itself, all possible care must be taken, that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all. For that is truly and in the strictest sense "Catholic," which, as the name itself and the reason of the thing declare, comprehends all universally. This rule we shall observe if we follow universality, antiquity, consent. We shall follow universality if we confess that one faith to be true, which the whole Church throughout the world confesses; antiquity, if we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is manifest were notoriously held by our holy ancestors and fathers; consent, in like manner, if in antiquity itself we adhere to the consentient definitions and determinations of all, or at the least of almost all priests and doctors.


(10) It is also customary to cite this bit from Trent,

Furthermore, in order to restrain petulant spirits, It decrees, that no one, relying on his own skill, shall,—in matters of faith, and of morals pertaining to the edification of Christian doctrine, —wresting the sacred Scripture to his own senses, presume to interpret the said sacred Scripture contrary to that sense which holy mother Church,—whose it is to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the holy Scriptures,—hath held and doth hold; or even contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers; even though such interpretations were never (intended) to be at any time published. Contraveners shall be made known by their Ordinaries, and be punished with the penalties by law established. (Session IV)


together with this bit from Vatican I,

In consequence, it is not permissible for anyone to interpret Holy Scripture in a sense contrary to this, or indeed against the unanimous consent of the fathers. (Session III, Chapter 2.9)


to the effect that Newman's theory is on shaky grounds from the standpoint of at least two Ecumenical Councils (as reckoned by the Church).

Thus, the the theory of doctrinal development might not even be Catholic in the everyday sense of Papist.

(11) In addition, some go so far as to say that the theory of Development of Doctrine has been quite definitely adopted by the Papal Communion , not only at the expense of internal consistency, but as a quite transparent, last-ditch effort to find some sort of theoretical footing for her many doctrinal innovations.


Modern Roman Catholic historians (so it goes) have finally agreed with the "rest of Christendom" that innovations such as Marian devotion (well, strike the Orthodox on that as well), substantial change of elements in the Eucharist (strike two on the Orthodox) and veneration of saints and images (strike three Orthodox) have no basis in early Christian Tradition, let alone anything like "the unanimous consent of the Fathers."

(12) So.... Has doctrine genuinely developed in the Catholic Church? ("Genuine" in sense of, developed as per the will of Our Lord.)

(13) If not, what do Catholics make of the fact that some of our distinctive doctrines seem to find little explicit support in Scripture and the Ante-Nicene Fathers, or even for some time after?

(14) If, on the other hand, doctrine does develop, what constitutes a genuine development versus an illegitimate corruption?

(15) Interesting related question: And who says so?

(16) By what means does doctrine develop?

(17) Finally, what would the undevelopment theorist point to as undeveloped doctrine? Is there really such a thing?


We should all spend some time looking into Newman's Essay on Development. He really digs in here and makes an articulate case, then promptly goes all Papist on the Brits.

(18) There is a lesson in that.

April 10, 2009

Which is More Important - Christmas or Easter?

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By Sid Cundiff:

The topic for the March Liturgy and Lager meeting was Why has Easter been given a 2nd place to Christmas in popular culture and Christian practice. After reading the Marcan Resurrection account, we examined several paintings. One of the problems is an aesthetic one: that Christmas and Good Friday have been often portrayed in art, yet the Resurrection is hard to visualize. We looked at two visualizations of the Resurrection, on of Piero della Francesa and Michaelangelo.

We then read selections from the Church’s liturgical documents that establish the Easter Triduum as first in importance, and both Christmas and Pentecost 2nd; and the document that says the Easter Vigil is the central event of the Triduum.

Then we noted that that in all countries with a majority Catholic population, except maybe Ireland, and a majority Orthodox population, Easter has no superior in importance. It's only in Protestant Europe, the British Dominions, and America than Christmas is deemed more important. Why is this so?

We noted some historical facts: Christmas was one of the last solemnities to be established (AD 5th Century). Christmas isn’t celebrated among Arminians, Jehovah Witness, and the Puritans. We noted also some seasonal differences: In southern Europe, it rains in the winter, and is usually clear in the Spring, thus perhaps suggesting why Easter has such a prominence in southern Europe.

We considered then several theological issues:
  • The false theology of the Resurrection as a epilogue, which we just touched upon. The Resurrection is in fact part of the redemption.
  • Is the Incarnation the most important dogma? The Eastern Church is correct to stress the Incarnation as redemptive, yet the Eastern Church still makes Easter more important. The Western Church has stressed Good Friday.
  • The false theology of ignoring the Old Testament and the Exodus/Passover. In fact, on Holy Thursday we recall the establishment of the new cultus, on Good Friday the Passover lamb is slain; yet it is at the Easter vigil when and where we flee Egypt, cross the Red Sea, and then, in time, cross the Jordan into the Promised Land. Not to know the Old Testament is not to know the New.
  • Several saints got sucked up into Christmas: Nicholas and Lucy: but what about Mary (25 March – the real nativity of Our Lord) and Joseph (19 March)? Can they be incorporated into Easter?
  • The false theology of regarding Mary as just a Christmas figure. She is present at the Cross; she is Our Lady of Sorrows. Also even in the Christmas cycle, we have the circumcision, the presentation in temple, and “a sword pierce your heart”; she is also present at Pentecost; the Assumption as a fruit of the Resurrection, and the Resurrection and the Ascension as the beginning of the Parousia.
  • The false de-emphasis on the Eucharist among Protestants: Memorialism and Quarterly Communion – resulting in the de-emphasis in turn of Easter.
  • The false theology of ignoring Holy Saturday: The Son in fact goes as far from the Father as possible – into Hell, and yet He still lives for the; the Harrowing of Hell
We only began to consider the problems in moral theology that comes from putting Christmas before Easter.
  • Antisemitic misuse of Good Friday (and Liberal & Calvinist: “humans are God killers”)
  • Excessive tender piety at Christmas, and the effeminate view of Our Lord coming from the 19th Century and David Strauss.
  • Easter can’t be secularized (but can be ignored as “Spring Break” at Daytona beach and wet t-shirt contests)
  • Theology “Christmas is for children."
  • “We can’t party on Good Friday"; but Easter Sunday? We noted the prejudice: entertainment vs joy. Entertainment, pleasure, and fun ought to be the consequence of real joy; otherwise, these activities are just a whistling past the cemetery.
  • The problem with penal substitutional atonement violates our sense of justice . Leads to a de-emphasis of Good Friday.

February 27, 2009

Called to Communion

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Liturgy & Lager folks will doubtlessly be interested in a new website that both Andrew Preslar and I (along with others) have been working on for the last couple of months. It will feature peer reviewed papers, a group blog and a podcast on the topic(s) relating to Reformed Christianity and Catholicism. We recommend that you check out Called to Communion and subscribe to the RSS feed.

February 14, 2009

Salvation Outside the Church? --Recap

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Nine people attended this the tenth meeting of Liturgy and Lager. Our topic was posed as the following question: "Is salvation possible outside of the Catholic Church?" The answer, of course, is "No." This is firmly established from Scripture and the consistent voice of Tradition.Vatican II reaffirmed the teaching of no salvation outside of the Church, while at the same time affirming that those who are but imperfectly united to the Church may obtain the gift of eternal life.

Here is a summary of last night's presentation:

All baptized Christians participate in the life of the mystical Body of Christ. Those Christians who do not enter or remain in full communion with the Catholic Church, provided that through no fault of their own they do not know that the Catholic Church is the "fullness of him who filleth all in all," and as such necessary for salvation, may be saved by virtue of the gifts of God available to them. These gracious gifts, which in various ways come through the Catholic Church (e.g., Baptism, sacred Scripture, orthodox trinitarian and christological beliefs), render those non-Catholics who participate in them a part of the Church, albeit in an incomplete way.

Of course, most non-Catholic Christians know of the Catholic Church. Many of these, however, might be inhibited from entering into full communion with the Church due to a complex set of external and internal circumstances for which they are not personally responsible. Such circumstances may lessen or even nullify their culpability for remaining, to one degree or another, apart from the Catholic Church.

Furthermore, untold numbers of people have been unable to exercise explicit faith in Christ or receive the sacraments from the Church for the simple reason that these ordinary means of grace have never been made available to them. Obviously, they cannot be blamed for failing to enter into full, visible communion with Christ in his Church. These too may attain eternal salvation through grace which unites them to Christ and his Church in ways that have not been revealed to us.

Such are the teachings of the Catholic Church, and have always been the teachings of the Catholic Church. Vatican II did not invent this rather nuanced construal of "no salvation outside the Church." Clear precedents for the teaching of the Council on this matter include: Acts 10:34,35; Romans 10:14-18 (cf. Psalm 19); the teaching of some of the early Church Fathers (e.g., Justin Martyr); St. Thomas Aquinas' teaching on the possibility of receiving the grace of the sacraments in an extraordinary way (e.g.. "baptism of desire"); Pope St. Pius V's (1567) rejection of extreme Jansenist teachings on this matter. More recently, yet also prior to Vatican II, Fr. Leonard Feeney was excommunicated for holding to an extreme interpretation of "no salvation outside the Church."

We are given to simultaneously affirm that: (1) There is salvation in no other name than the name of Jesus Christ, and (2) those who through no fault of there own cannot be united to Christ in his mystical Body by means of explicit faith and the sacraments may by the grace of God be united to Christ in ways that have not been made known to us. The latter teaching is based upon the revelation of the universal salvific will of God, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2.4). The Son of God tasted death for everyone, without distinction and without exception.

If God desires all to be saved, then it must be possible for all to be saved. Otherwise, God would desire something that is not possible, which is absurd. Therefore, salvation is possible for all men. Salvation comes through faith, which comes through the preaching of the Word and the administration of the Sacraments. But these are not available to all. Nevertheless, per the universal salvific will of God, we hold the possibility that those who have no known recourse to the Catholic Church may yet be joined to her in the Holy Spirit by way of implicit faith in Christ and an extraordinary manner of participation in the grace of Baptism.

This should fill us with great hope and zeal for the mission of Church, which is to go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel, teaching the commandments of God and sanctifying sinners through the seven sacraments of grace. The fields are indeed ripe for harvest. The mystery of iniquity has quite obviously not ceased to be at work in the world. Souls are in peril. We ourselves are in peril if we do not continue in the faith that works by love for God and man. Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. Let us reach out to one another with the love of God, knowing that he already loves each of us and has done more for each and every human being than we can possibly imagine.

There was much less preaching and more interaction and group input (with some very interesting asides) than is apparent from this summary of our session. But such was the general drift of the discussion.

January 10, 2009

Keys to the Kingdom


Our first meeting of 2009 found us discussing "the Keys to the Kingdom" and how the early Church has interpreted this passage. The topic was actually suggested by a regular Protestant attendee but the group ended up being entirely Catholic this time.

We divided the discussion into three parts. 1. Examining the text (Matthew 16:18-19 and important OT backdrops such as Daniel 2, Isaiah 22) 2. Examining the early Church interpretations 3. Open discussion.

Text & Backdrop

*Jesus is not speaking cryptically. His audience understands Him.
* 1st century Jew will hear Danielic reference particularly with “rock” & hell not to prevail
* The messianic kingdom is Davidic.
* Kingdom & Church intentionally paralleled
* Binding & loosing to be understood legislatively/judicially as per consistent use
* Joseph, Eliakim “types” of the Petrine office.

Early Church Interpretation

- Understand development organically; Newman's “seven notes” of true development:

1.Preservation of Type
2. Continuity of Principles
3. Power of Assimilation
4. Logical Sequence
5. Anticipation of its future
6. Conservative Action Upon its Past
7. Chronic Vigor

Three major strands of development of the "keys" in the early Church:

1. Authority (Particularly to grant absolution)
2. Defining Mark of Unity
3. Jurisdictional Influence

We examined each of these strands of development from the apostolic age ending with Pope Leo & the Council of Chalcedon in 450 AD and then concluded with open discussion.

January 6, 2009

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