(How) should we Hail Mary?

Virgin and Child (Lucas Cranach the Elder)

[She is the] highest woman and the noblest gem in Christianity after Christ … She is nobility, wisdom, and holiness personified. We can never honor her enough. Still honor and praise must be given to her in such a way as to injure neither Christ nor the Scriptures.

(Martin Luther, Christmas Sermon, 1531)

A very different Lutheran approach to the veneration of Mary from that of Dr Sasse is promoted by Darel Paul, a Lutheran layman who is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Williams College in Massachusetts. Prof. Paul’s Orthodox Lutheran website (linked from Revd Webber’s Lutheran Theology site) includes a range of materials on the subject of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in which he argues that the Lutheran Church has lost site of the high regard and fond devotion towards Mary shared by the Lutheran Reformers and Confessors.

In his essay, “The Blessed Virgin Mary and Christian Dogma”, Prof. Paul looks at the Lutheran attitude towards the four Marian dogmas held by the Roman Catholic Church. These are the two pre-Reformation Marian dogmas – Mary Mother of God (declared by the Third Ecumenical Council at Ephesus in 431) and Mary Ever-Virgin, (declared at the Fifth Ecumenical Council in Constantinople in 553) – and the two further dogmas of modern times, Mary’s Immaculate Conception (declared by Pope Pius IX in 1854) and the Bodily Assumption of Mary (declared by Pope Pius XII in 1950, and which prompted the letter from Dr Sasse covered in my previous post).

He argues that both pre-Reformation Marian doctrines were retained as Christian doctrine by the Lutheran Reformers. In addition to the statements in the Lutheran Confessions set out in my first post, Prof. Paul also points to the statement of the Augsburg Confession that “reminds us of the fundamental agreement of the Reformers with the traditional church”:

Only those things have been recounted whereof we thought that it was necessary to speak, in order that it might be understood that in doctrine and ceremonies nothing has been received on our part against Scripture or the Church Catholic. For it is manifest that we have taken most diligent care that no new and ungodly doctrine should creep into our churches.

He argues that, while the Confessions’ affirmation of Mary, Ever-Virgin is less clear-cut on the face of it than their affirmation of Mary, the Mother of God, other comments made by Martin Luther and others make it clear that any ambiguity in the Confessions is to be resolved in favour of Mary’s Ever-Virginity.

Not only that, but Prof. Paul also argues that both the Immaculate Conception and the bodily Assumption of Mary into heaven were accepted by the Reformers. The fact that we reject the Papal declarations of these beliefs as binding dogma “does not mean that the teachings themselves are wrong or that they contradict Scripture”; just that the lack of clarity in Scripture and in church tradition concerning these peripheral matters are such that “they cannot be forwarded as clear deposits of the faith”.

As Luther says concerning the Immaculate Conception:

In regard to the conception of our Lady they have admitted that, since this article is not necessary to salvation, it is neither heresy nor error when some hold that she was conceived in sin, although in this case council, pope, and the majority hold a different view. Why should we poor Christians be forced to believe whatever the pope and his papists think, even when it is not necessary to salvation?

However, Luther still insists that the angel’s declaration of Mary as being “full of grace” should be taken to heart, even if we do not insist on how and when this happened:

In the first place, she is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin – something exceedingly great. For God’s grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil.

In short, “Lutherans … should be more concerned with the dogmatization of this teaching than with the actual teaching itself.

The same applies to the Assumption. One historical piece of evidence supporting this teaching (indeed the only one, as Dr Sasse acerbically points out) is the striking failure of the church to expend any significant energy on tracking down relics of Mary. The absence of such relics was explained in AD 451 by the Patriarch of Jerusalem by the fact that “Mary had died in the presence of the apostles; but her tomb, when opened later … was found empty and so the apostles concluded that the body was taken up into heaven.”

As for the Lutheran Confessions, while they are silent on the question of whether Mary was assumed bodily into heaven, the Apology to the Augsburg Confession does state “that the blessed Mary prays for the Church”.

Prof. Paul’s website is perhaps best known for its promotion of his Lutheran Rosary. Prof. Paul argues that Luther’s attacks on the rosary were aimed at “the overuse and the misuse of the rosary rather than against the rosary itself”, and that it is possible to have an Evangelical understanding of the rosary that avoids any question of its being a meritorious work.

As part of his discussion on the rosary, Prof. Paul talks about the Ave Maria, the “Hail Mary” prayer. This was retained by Luther in the following form:

Hail, Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus Christ. Amen.

This is, Prof. Paul argues, “an excerpt from scripture (Luke 1:28, 42) and thus should find no objection from Lutherans today”. It is “not … a prayer or invocation but rather a giving of praise and honor to the Blessed Virgin Mary”. The mistake medieval Christians made was to add requests to Mary that turned it into a prayer, such as the (in)famous words formalised at Trent in 1568:

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Luther urges that:

…we should make the Hail Mary neither a prayer nor an invocation because it is improper to interpret the words beyond what they mean in themselves and beyond the meaning given them by the Holy Spirit.

Instead, Luther commends a twofold approach to the Ave Maria:

First, we can use the Hail Mary as a meditation in which we recite what grace God has given her. Second, we should add a wish that everyone may know and respect her as one blessed by God.

Prof. Paul is less sympathetic to other Marian hymns such as the Salve Regina (“The Lutheran objects on so many grounds!”), and his Lutheran Rosary (PDF) provides less objectionable Marian material for use in personal devotion, such as the Magnificat, or Martin Luther’s “Evangelical praise of the Mother of God”:

O Blessed Virgin, Mother of God, what great comfort God has shown us in you, by so graciously regarding your unworthiness and low estate. This encourages us to believe that henceforth He will not despise us poor and lowly ones, but graciously regard us also, according to your example.

Personally, while Prof. Paul makes a strong case for increased veneration of Mary among Lutherans, I still feel uncomfortable with the suggestion that we should adopt the use of the rosary or the Ave Maria, even in their “Lutheranised” (or “de-Papalised”) forms.

There is a difference between occasionally addressing Mary in the second person as a form of “literary apostrophe” (as FDN put it in the comments to my first post), such as is found in certain hymns (see v.2), and directly addressing her, as someone who is listening to what we say, as part of our regular devotional life. Also, since the Reformation the Ave Maria and the rosary have acquired such specifically Roman Catholic connotations – and Roman Catholic doctrine and devotion in this area have become so much more extreme – that it seems next-to impossible to “reclaim” them (and is it even all that worthwhile doing so anyway?).

There is also a difference between giving an Evangelical interpretation to an existing practice (encouraging late-medieval Christians to treat the Ave Maria as “a meditation in which we recite what grace God has given her”), consistent with Luther’s conservative approach to Reformation, and reviving a questionable (and optional) practice that has all-but died out in the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

And part of me wonders whether such attempts to promote Marian devotion aren’t just rooted in the pagan appeal highlighted by Dr Sasse. And perhaps Prof. Paul is just a lone maverick layman whose views should be treated with caution – takes one to know one, after all 😉 – though Pr Webber’s imprimatur gives some comfort on that score.

But then, part of me wonders in turn whether my discomfort isn’t just reflective of an unfounded hyper-Protestant prejudice against practices and beliefs that were held by the Lutheran Fathers during the Reformation and for many decades afterwards, as seems amply attested on Prof. Paul’s website.

Any feedback on all this will be most welcome.

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67 Responses to (How) should we Hail Mary?

  1. greg bourke says:

    Sadly, I think the connection of the Rosary, or any cyclic series of prayer, to Catholicism is so strong that it will never be widely adopted. It is like wondering if the Hindu Jainist swastika will ever be usable again.
    The history penetrates too deeply, the half-life of memory is too long.
    Just broke Godwin’s Law of threads.

  2. John H says:

    Just broke Godwin’s Law of threads.
    Does that mean that Godwin’s corollaries of beads are now rolling about all over the floor? 🙂

  3. Alex says:

    My wife uses rosary beads as a way to remember her regular prayers; she deliberately looks for rosaries without Marian medals on them. For what it’s worth.
    (and she’s an ex-Southern Baptist turned Lutheran)

  4. Josh S says:

    I disagree. You are wrong.

  5. John H says:

    I disagree. You are wrong.
    Not good enough, Josh. You did this with my Pope JP II posts too, and its not on. If you’re going to leave comments saying I’m “wrong” and that you are “disturbed”, I think you owe it to me and others to explain what you mean.

  6. John H says:

    Alex – sounds a bit like using an Eastern Orthodox prayer rope. I was once looking out for one of these, as I was using the Jesus Prayer quite a lot at that time.

  7. John H says:

    Alex – sounds a bit like using an Eastern Orthodox prayer rope. I was once looking out for one of these, as I was using the Jesus Prayer quite a lot at that time.

  8. John H says:

    Alex – sounds a bit like using an Eastern Orthodox prayer rope. I was once looking out for one of these, as I was using the Jesus Prayer quite a lot at that time.

  9. Therese Z says:

    Interesting post. But why aren’t you discussing the most important part of saying the Rosary: the meditation on the Mysteries, the events of Jesus Christ’s life and ministry, that the Hail Marys connect and serve as “background music” to?
    Let’s set aside for the moment whether or not a request for intercessory prayer from those brothers and sisters in Christ who have preceded us to Heaven is proper. Instead, let’s regard Mary as a fellow witness to the Incarnation, and use her witness as a proper meditation using the Rosary.
    We can stand next to her, as it were, in meditation and look at Jesus scourged, crowned with thorns, crucified, or with her as He is born, dedicated, is lost in the temple.
    We can also stand with Jesus and look back at her while she says Yes to the Holy Spirit, when she dedicates Jesus and is told by Simeon that her heart will be pierced, when she holds her dying Savior/Son in her arms, etc.
    THIS is what the Rosary is. It should never be a “Yay for Mary” party. I am keenly aware of many Catholics, mostly older and less-educated, or poorer and less-educated, that concentrate just on their relationship with Mary when they drone through the Rosary. And I do fault them because they are missing the point, readily available to them in Catholic teaching (please, please read the Catechism on the topic) and serve as a bad example to others, Catholic and otherwise.
    The daily rotation of Mysteries (Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious, Luminous) is especially valuable in keeping us revisiting Scripture, especially when we recognize the place in the Gospel we’re at in the liturgical year. It is enlightening to the intellect and the soul to hear the beautiful promises of Jesus now in the Easter season, and then meet His Transfiguration, Passion, Death and Resurrection in the Rosary Mysteries of the day. Lots of spiritual fruit is coming to me now from that.
    Mary is our spiritual Mother, given to us by Jesus from the Cross, but you guys are over-worrying about her role in our relationship with Jesus Christ. Relax! Pick up a Rosary and use it as a Divine Mercy Chaplet, or repeat a Psalm on the small beads, and spend time with the Mysteries. Then you can see what growth in faith and understanding you reach. Much meditation practice has been lost by ordinary non-Catholic Christians, and the Rosary is a nice compact way to start back on the road to lectio divina, meditation and contemplative prayer.
    Didn’t mean to talk so much, but Lutherans especially get their knickers in such a twist about letting a meditative prayer like the Rosary cross their thresholds. As a cradle-but-lapsed Catholic who actually had to buy a Rosary a couple of years ago when Grace overcame me, praised be Jesus Christ, I can’t say I love the practice yet, but it holds my attention on the life of Jesus steady and reduces my distraction in prayer better than I ever realized, remembering my shallow grade-school recitations, at an age where abstract thought wasn’t possible yet.

  10. Therese Z says:

    Interesting post. But why aren’t you discussing the most important part of saying the Rosary: the meditation on the Mysteries, the events of Jesus Christ’s life and ministry, that the Hail Marys connect and serve as “background music” to?
    Let’s set aside for the moment whether or not a request for intercessory prayer from those brothers and sisters in Christ who have preceded us to Heaven is proper. Instead, let’s regard Mary as a fellow witness to the Incarnation, and use her witness as a proper meditation using the Rosary.
    We can stand next to her, as it were, in meditation and look at Jesus scourged, crowned with thorns, crucified, or with her as He is born, dedicated, is lost in the temple.
    We can also stand with Jesus and look back at her while she says Yes to the Holy Spirit, when she dedicates Jesus and is told by Simeon that her heart will be pierced, when she holds her dying Savior/Son in her arms, etc.
    THIS is what the Rosary is. It should never be a “Yay for Mary” party. I am keenly aware of many Catholics, mostly older and less-educated, or poorer and less-educated, that concentrate just on their relationship with Mary when they drone through the Rosary. And I do fault them because they are missing the point, readily available to them in Catholic teaching (please, please read the Catechism on the topic) and serve as a bad example to others, Catholic and otherwise.
    The daily rotation of Mysteries (Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious, Luminous) is especially valuable in keeping us revisiting Scripture, especially when we recognize the place in the Gospel we’re at in the liturgical year. It is enlightening to the intellect and the soul to hear the beautiful promises of Jesus now in the Easter season, and then meet His Transfiguration, Passion, Death and Resurrection in the Rosary Mysteries of the day. Lots of spiritual fruit is coming to me now from that.
    Mary is our spiritual Mother, given to us by Jesus from the Cross, but you guys are over-worrying about her role in our relationship with Jesus Christ. Relax! Pick up a Rosary and use it as a Divine Mercy Chaplet, or repeat a Psalm on the small beads, and spend time with the Mysteries. Then you can see what growth in faith and understanding you reach. Much meditation practice has been lost by ordinary non-Catholic Christians, and the Rosary is a nice compact way to start back on the road to lectio divina, meditation and contemplative prayer.
    Didn’t mean to talk so much, but Lutherans especially get their knickers in such a twist about letting a meditative prayer like the Rosary cross their thresholds. As a cradle-but-lapsed Catholic who actually had to buy a Rosary a couple of years ago when Grace overcame me, praised be Jesus Christ, I can’t say I love the practice yet, but it holds my attention on the life of Jesus steady and reduces my distraction in prayer better than I ever realized, remembering my shallow grade-school recitations, at an age where abstract thought wasn’t possible yet.

  11. FDN says:

    Two thoughts:
    1. At what point will we have prayed to God enough, such that it is now time to turn aside from that and give a creature our extra or leftover devotion? In this way, I think, the practice of prayer to the dead is analogous to and bound up with the blasphemous notion of supererogation. Uncoincidentally, the rosary is often prescribed as a satisfaction after auricular confession, or as part of how one earns an indulgence. While that is clearly not Dr. Paul’s intention, it’s the inevitable outcome of an attitude of ‘Now I have time to pray, but not (entirely) to God.’ Let’s all read this Lutheran Rosary site in light of the Large Catechism’s section on the First Commandment, shal we?
    2. Vain repetition. A real issue. The author of the Lutheran rosary website takes it up, but his arguments are unconvincing and largely cribbed from the standard RC line. Most disturbing is his dismissal of the Evangelical Reformers’ condemnation of such practices as a misinterpretation of Roman Catholic practice, or as in any case only applicable to a “medieval” form of that religion which apparently need no longer concern us. Whatever the inherent merits of the case, I think it is a danger to souls if Evangelicals get used to overlooking flaws in arguments that just happen (ahem!) to also be used by Rome.

  12. FDN says:

    many Catholics, mostly older and less-educated, or poorer and less-educated, that concentrate just on their relationship with Mary
    I can’t emphasize enough how wrong this is. I know many people who are both gross Mariolaters and holders of advanced degrees in sacred theology. Just look at John Paul II.

  13. John H says:

    Therese,
    Thank you for your comment. I hadn’t fully absorbed that point about the meditation on the Mysteries. As for looking up the CCC – sadly I seem to have mislaid my copy in the course of decorating our study, but when I find it I will check it out.
    However, while I don’t have a problem in principle with the process of meditation you describe, I still remain edgy, just because of the baggage the rosary carries.
    FDN makes a good point about it not only being less-educated Roman Catholics who go beyond acceptable bounds in Marian devotion, and I’d be grateful for your response as a Roman Catholic to comments like those made by Pope John Paul II in 1980 (which I also mentioned in the comments on another thread), on the subject of the tribulations predicted by the third secret of Fatima:
    At this point, the Holy Father took hold of his Rosary and said: “Here is the remedy against the evil! Pray, pray and ask for nothing else. Put everything in the hands of the Mother of God!”…
    “We must be strong, we must prepare ourselves, we must entrust ourselves to Christ and to His holy Mother, and we must be attentive, very attentive, to the prayer of the Rosary.”

    This seems to go way beyond the process of meditation which you are describing. And I don’t raise these things as a polemical issue: I find comments like that (and the entrusting-the-world-to-Mary stuff) genuinely very distressing and disturbing to read.

  14. Alex says:

    I guess one question I have, as I mull this through, is that if Mary has no original sin, wouldn’t this imply that her parents also did not have original sin? Don’t you have to build a parallel lineage where you have all these non-sinful beings? Or was St. Paul wrong when he taught that in Adam’s sin all are sinful, and that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God?
    I’m not trying to deny Mary’s specialness or Luther’s authority; but I think we have a possibility towards a defective understanding of justification if we insist that God cannot have used a humble, pure virgin, who was yet still a sinner at least as far as original sin, and likely with a few actual sins on her ledger. She still could have conceived of the sinless Son of God because that which was borne in her was from the Holy Spirit. And God could purify her and make her full of grace, equal to the task He had given her (like Luther said, “proclaimed to be entirely without sin”–an absolution of sorts?!).
    I don’t know, maybe I’m too much like Sasse.

  15. FDN says:

    John, I think when Josh gibes you like that it is (a) just friendly teasing (like when he used to call you n00b j0Hn LOL!!!11!) but also (b) sticking up for that strand of our tradition which regards all this as beyond serious consideration. Which obviously isn’t binding, but shouldn’t be ignored either. That strand exists for some very good reasons.

  16. John H says:

    (*sheepishly*) OK, fair ’nuff.

  17. John,
    The use of the Ave as a meditation is clearly endorsed by Luther. His *Personal Prayer Book* went through many editions in his lifetime and they all included the meditation on the Ave.
    As to “vain repitition” no one can know if another person’s repeated use of a prayer constitutes that, because it is only “vain” if the words are not intended and earnestly being prayed. I suspect that the sort of “ex corde” prayer that begins: “Lord, we just wanna…” is in every bit as much danger of vain repetition as the liturgical prayer.
    In the new Brotherhood Prayerbook, a wonderful Lutheran resource for praying the Divine Office, we find the following:
    After each office may be said privately the evangelical commemoration of the Blessed Virgin Mary:
    Blessed is the womb that bore Thee, Lord Jesus, and the breasts which nursed Thee: Yea, blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it.
    V. Behold, a Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son. Alleluia!
    R. And shall call His name Immanuel. Alleluia!
    Let us pray. Almighty God, who hast dealt wonderfully with Thy handmaiden, the Virgin Mary, and hast chosen her to be the Mother of Thy Son and hast graciously made known that Thou regardest the poor and lowly and the despised, grant us grace in all humility and meekness to receive Thy Word with hearty faith and so to be made one with Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

  18. Therese Z says:

    First, if you don’t believe that you can have a relationship with the saints in Heaven where they teach you and pray for you, *anything* sounds like “gross Mariology” or idolatry. This post and comment did not start as a study of the communion of saints, but that informs the way we pray the Rosary. We can speak WITH and pray WITH those in Heaven (I’m avoiding the words “pray to” because I think you aren’t really aware of the Catholic sensitivity to the difference between “praying to someone” and “worshiping Someone.”)
    Now, to JPII’s statement:
    “At this point, the Holy Father took hold of his Rosary and said: “Here is the remedy against the evil! Pray, pray and ask for nothing else. Put everything in the hands of the Mother of God!”…We must be strong, we must prepare ourselves, we must entrust ourselves to Christ and to His holy Mother, and we must be attentive, very attentive, to the prayer of the Rosary.”
    So he urges us to entrust ourselves to the prayer of the Church both Militant (on earth) and Triumphant (in Heaven). I like it when the Pope agrees with me(!) And he says that we must be attentive to the prayer of the Rosary, which is the meditation on the mysteries of the life of Christ!!!!!!!
    I added a lot of bangs there because people hear the ten Hail Marys to the one Our Father/Glory Be and judge proportionately. The passage of the ten HM’s is when we are resting with the results of our stop on the “big bead” to remind ourselves of the Mystery, maybe read the relevant Scripture passages, to view it in our minds, to ask ourselves how it matters to our life this minute, or to our family or friends lives’ this minute, to thank the Holy Spirit for the gift of prayer and of grace to want to pray, and then to thanksgiving (begin the next set of HM’s).
    FDN’s advanced theologians are praying the way I have just described. I know this because I know real live Advance Theologians. Of course, they do it with a much richer knowledge of the continuous train of meditative writings of the early Church Fathers, so they have lots of resources to enrich and inform their meditation, just as someone who is fluent in Aramaic or Hebrew prays with the Scriptures differently than one who thinks the KJV is pretty fancy readin’. Their hearts are joined with the Lord either way.
    Tell me why there is such suspicion of how, or whether, Catholics pray? I never look at praying Lutherans and think “well, are they REALLY praying? What are they exactly saying? Maybe the Lord is irritated with them, because they’re doing it ALL WRONG!” Rather I hope I credit their heart and soul with being drawn by the Father to the Son, by the Holy Spirit speaking in their hearts. I feel a little peered-at by Evangelical blogs, judging my prayer and finding it wanting. Putting as nicely as I can, how dare they?

  19. John H says:

    Pr Weedon: That’s the sort of devotion to the Blessed Virgin that I can most assuredly live with. Thank you for posting it.
    Therese: I think to understand Evangelical concerns about some RC forms of prayer – and they are concerns, rooted in a desire (maybe misplaced in some cases, maybe not in others) not to see brothers and sisters in Christ led astray – it’s worth looking at writings of Luther such as his sermons or the Large Catechism.
    What shines through is Luther’s pastoral concern for ordinary, largely uneducated Christian laypeople. Even if the rosary etc may take more legitimate forms as you have described, what Luther and his fellow Reformers were dealing with was the spiritual wreckage caused by illegitimate forms of devotion.
    That is a concern that many of us still share today. You have said yourself that many people – including your teenage self – “drone” through the rosary in a way that focuses on Mary rather than on Christ. For Evangelicals (of the Augsburg variety), empty religion that ignores or sidelines Christ isn’t just a “what a shame” issue, nor is it just an opportunity to sharpen our rhetorical pens and start some polemicising, it is something that strikes terror into our hearts.
    I’m sorry if that leads to an over-scrupulous sitting in judgment on those like yourself for whom these practices do truly lead you to Christ. I don’t mean it to – please understand in turn the reason why this might happen, though.

  20. Therese Z says:

    Sorry if I sounded like I was whining. I was, a little, I get so tired of being told I’m a liar. (“I don’t worship Mary; that’s gross and the Church says I can’t!” “We don’t care what you say, you’re lying!” sigh….)
    Yes, immature practices by any Christian are to be gently corrected and pointed out. But there is an insistence (not here, not now) on picking out some old lady in a babushka who, when asked, enthuses about our Blessed Mother to a nauseating extent, and making her the Official Catholic Spokesman for the Rosary.
    These things are to be understood in a much larger model of family relationship in the Church. We truly and intensely see Jesus as Bridegroom of the Church (modelled by our priests), Mary as our Mother, saints as our aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters. A united body, a Mystical Body. That feeling permeates and underlays much of our prayer, and will affect the experience of the prayer, but doesn’t destroy it for use by others not so minded.
    My comments are meant to try to convince you that the Rosary is not MARY; it’s JESUS. Even if we believe that we are praying alongside of Mary, and asking her intercession, and you don’t agree with that, the focus is still on Jesus and His life. Argue all you want about Mary, but please don’t discard the Rosary while you’re doing so!

  21. Atwood says:

    Well, Theresa Z, how’s about this deal:
    Evangelical Lutheran blogs will stop “judging your prayer and finding it wanting” when the Catholic blogs acknowledge that
    1) that we have actual “churches” not just “ecclesial communities”.
    2) that our pastors are actual pastors, not just laymen who wear funny clothes in their “ecclesial communities”,
    and
    3) our Eucharist is the true body and blood of the Lord, not some dubious mummery, that just might possibly get overlooked by God in his great good humor.
    Now I know you will have some objections to this, somehow it isn’t the same, and you yourselves don’t acknowledge the apostolic succession, etc, etc, etc. All of which is to say, “You don’t understand. We get to delegitimize YOU, but OF COURSE, YOU don’t get to delegitimize US. Sheesh, you’d think you guys don’t realize WE’RE the true church.”

  22. John H says:

    Y’know, he’s got a point.

  23. John H says:

    Y’know, he’s got a point.

  24. Therese Z says:

    I apologize right now for getting this thread sidetracked.
    Now, to answer the points:
    1. I reject this totally.
    2. I reject this totally.
    Re these first two: I suggest you roam through http://www.stblogsparishhall.com, a large roundup of Catholic blogs, and find me one that makes these statements. (I own up right now to some snarkiness caused by mixed hilarity and sadness over the ECUSA and their sexuality struggles. But even there, the people in the pews are not set upon as worshiping a false Christ.)
    But you know I’d have no trouble showing you a *gazillion* “whore of babylon,” “Mary worshiper” and “death cookie” references, on supposedly legitimate Evangelical websites (when I saw that http://www.aomin.org won Evangelical Blog of the Year, my heart sank. Look at the St. Blog’s awards and find me an equivalent.)
    3. Split decision:
    a) I do believe that the Protestant Lord’s Supper is lacking something. That the real Body and Blood of our Lord is NOT there (which I believe is your understanding, too). The reasons are easy to find in apologetics: no apostolic succession, no intent to do what we believe Jesus told us to do. I sorrow that you cannot receive the beautiful Graces of the Sacrament as we celebrate it. But I do not suggest that you are crouched in your pew committing one heresy after another.
    b) “Dubious mummery.” What an insult to you. Of course not. Do I believe that Jesus is present in your worship? Of COURSE, wherever two or three are gathered…. Is your remembrance of Holy Thursday blessed in a special way? Sure, because your intent is to be blessed, and the Lord gives when we ask in His Name. Do you truly love Jesus and just not the process of reading Scripture? Absolutely.
    Can we get back to the Rosary? I apologize again.

  25. Therese Z says:

    I apologize right now for getting this thread sidetracked.
    Now, to answer the points:
    1. I reject this totally.
    2. I reject this totally.
    Re these first two: I suggest you roam through http://www.stblogsparishhall.com, a large roundup of Catholic blogs, and find me one that makes these statements. (I own up right now to some snarkiness caused by mixed hilarity and sadness over the ECUSA and their sexuality struggles. But even there, the people in the pews are not set upon as worshiping a false Christ.)
    But you know I’d have no trouble showing you a *gazillion* “whore of babylon,” “Mary worshiper” and “death cookie” references, on supposedly legitimate Evangelical websites (when I saw that http://www.aomin.org won Evangelical Blog of the Year, my heart sank. Look at the St. Blog’s awards and find me an equivalent.)
    3. Split decision:
    a) I do believe that the Protestant Lord’s Supper is lacking something. That the real Body and Blood of our Lord is NOT there (which I believe is your understanding, too). The reasons are easy to find in apologetics: no apostolic succession, no intent to do what we believe Jesus told us to do. I sorrow that you cannot receive the beautiful Graces of the Sacrament as we celebrate it. But I do not suggest that you are crouched in your pew committing one heresy after another.
    b) “Dubious mummery.” What an insult to you. Of course not. Do I believe that Jesus is present in your worship? Of COURSE, wherever two or three are gathered…. Is your remembrance of Holy Thursday blessed in a special way? Sure, because your intent is to be blessed, and the Lord gives when we ask in His Name. Do you truly love Jesus and just not the process of reading Scripture? Absolutely.
    Can we get back to the Rosary? I apologize again.

  26. Therese Z says:

    I apologize right now for getting this thread sidetracked.
    Now, to answer the points:
    1. I reject this totally.
    2. I reject this totally.
    Re these first two: I suggest you roam through http://www.stblogsparishhall.com, a large roundup of Catholic blogs, and find me one that makes these statements. (I own up right now to some snarkiness caused by mixed hilarity and sadness over the ECUSA and their sexuality struggles. But even there, the people in the pews are not set upon as worshiping a false Christ.)
    But you know I’d have no trouble showing you a *gazillion* “whore of babylon,” “Mary worshiper” and “death cookie” references, on supposedly legitimate Evangelical websites (when I saw that http://www.aomin.org won Evangelical Blog of the Year, my heart sank. Look at the St. Blog’s awards and find me an equivalent.)
    3. Split decision:
    a) I do believe that the Protestant Lord’s Supper is lacking something. That the real Body and Blood of our Lord is NOT there (which I believe is your understanding, too). The reasons are easy to find in apologetics: no apostolic succession, no intent to do what we believe Jesus told us to do. I sorrow that you cannot receive the beautiful Graces of the Sacrament as we celebrate it. But I do not suggest that you are crouched in your pew committing one heresy after another.
    b) “Dubious mummery.” What an insult to you. Of course not. Do I believe that Jesus is present in your worship? Of COURSE, wherever two or three are gathered…. Is your remembrance of Holy Thursday blessed in a special way? Sure, because your intent is to be blessed, and the Lord gives when we ask in His Name. Do you truly love Jesus and just not the process of reading Scripture? Absolutely.
    Can we get back to the Rosary? I apologize again.

  27. Therese Z says:

    I apologize right now for getting this thread sidetracked.
    Now, to answer the points:
    1. I reject this totally.
    2. I reject this totally.
    Re these first two: I suggest you roam through http://www.stblogsparishhall.com, a large roundup of Catholic blogs, and find me one that makes these statements. (I own up right now to some snarkiness caused by mixed hilarity and sadness over the ECUSA and their sexuality struggles. But even there, the people in the pews are not set upon as worshiping a false Christ.)
    But you know I’d have no trouble showing you a *gazillion* “whore of babylon,” “Mary worshiper” and “death cookie” references, on supposedly legitimate Evangelical websites (when I saw that http://www.aomin.org won Evangelical Blog of the Year, my heart sank. Look at the St. Blog’s awards and find me an equivalent.)
    3. Split decision:
    a) I do believe that the Protestant Lord’s Supper is lacking something. That the real Body and Blood of our Lord is NOT there (which I believe is your understanding, too). The reasons are easy to find in apologetics: no apostolic succession, no intent to do what we believe Jesus told us to do. I sorrow that you cannot receive the beautiful Graces of the Sacrament as we celebrate it. But I do not suggest that you are crouched in your pew committing one heresy after another.
    b) “Dubious mummery.” What an insult to you. Of course not. Do I believe that Jesus is present in your worship? Of COURSE, wherever two or three are gathered…. Is your remembrance of Holy Thursday blessed in a special way? Sure, because your intent is to be blessed, and the Lord gives when we ask in His Name. Do you truly love Jesus and just not the process of reading Scripture? Absolutely.
    Can we get back to the Rosary? I apologize again.

  28. Micah says:

    Does not the continual focus on, and discussion of, Mary and her state at conception and possible assumption etc tend to draw one’s attention from Christ? Isn’t that the central problem Protestants have with Mariology?

  29. Micah says:

    Does not the continual focus on, and discussion of, Mary and her state at conception and possible assumption etc tend to draw one’s attention from Christ? Isn’t that the central problem Protestants have with Mariology?

  30. John H says:

    That is a concern – but the driver in doctrines such as the Theotokos has been honouring Christ, guarding right teaching about Him, and deepening our understanding of what it means for God to become Man.
    Another issue I could raise, if feeling mischievous, is the question as to whether St Paul functions for much of evangelicalism in the same way that the Blessed Virgin Mary does for Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy – supreme exemplar of the Faith, etc. I’m sure we’ve all come across evangelical preachers for whom it is all Paul this and Paul that, preaching constantly on the Letters, to the extent that Christ and the four Gospels could almost be seen as secondary.

  31. Chris Jones says:

    Therese,
    I do believe that the Protestant Lord’s Supper is lacking something. That the real Body and Blood of our Lord is NOT there (which I believe is your understanding, too).
    There’s no such thing as “the Protestant Lord’s Supper”, because every Protestant group has a different teaching, and a different intent as to what they are doing in the Supper.
    If you look at the evangelical Lutheran Church in particular, you will find that what you say about “the Protestant Lord’s Supper” is not true among us. Here is what the Lutheran Confessions have to say about the Real Presence:
    We believe, teach, and confess that the words of the testament of Christ are not to be understood otherwise than as they read, according to the letter, so that the bread does not signify the absent body and the wine the absent blood of Christ, but that, on account of the sacramental union, the bread and wine truly are the body and blood of Christ.
    No one is admitted to Holy Communion at our altars who does not confess this faith.

  32. Atwood says:

    Theresa Z>
    Here is what “Dominus Iesus,” taken from the Vatican website states:
    “On the other hand, the ecclesial communities which have not preserved the valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery, are not Churches in the proper sense.”
    He does say that Christian baptism is found in our “ecclesial communities” and that that’s a good thing and leads to the fullness of the Catholic faith, etc. But still, there it is: no genuine church, ministry, or Eucharist.
    Before Vatican II the language was a bit sharper:
    The 1896 papal encyclical famously said of Anglican orders:
    “Wherefore, strictly adhering, in this matter, to the decrees of the pontiffs, our predecessors, and confirming them most fully, and, as it were, renewing them by our authority, of our own initiative and certain knowledge, we pronounce and declare that ordinations carried out according to the Anglican rite have been, and are, absolutely null and utterly void.”
    Still more would be any Lutheran ordinations.
    Now I do not personally wish to get all hot under the collar about this. I understand different churches (oops, ecclesial communities and churches) view each other according to their own theological lenses. We don’t think you have the Gospel in its purity, you think we don’t have any valid ordination or Eucharist. I’m happy to live with that, AS LONG AS some Roman Catholic doesn’t get all huffy that Evangelical Lutherans on an Evangelical Lutheran web site dare criticize Catholic prayers.
    So let’s all drop the “I’m so offended” stuff.
    (We now return to our regularly scheduled Mary and the Rosary debate).

  33. Therese Z says:

    Micah: That’s why I was trying to point out that the Rosary is about Jesus Christ, not Mary. She’s a partner in the meditation, not what the meditation is about.
    But we digressed big time, and now here I’m helping again….
    Chris: I used that term to try and pick my way carefully between all the various beliefs within Protestantism for the term Communion/Sacrament/Real Presence. “Evangelical” covers more than one group of churches, and I have no expertise in distinguishing them.
    Given that, (1) I am quite absolutely sure that you do not believe that the bread and wine truly change in substance to the physical Body and Blood of Christ. That you are literally eating Flesh and drinking Blood in order to have Life within you. (2) I know that you do not require that only a validly ordained priest (valid by Apostolic Succession, that’s not a slam against dignity of office or quality of training), saying the words of consecration in a particular way, with particular intent, can confect that Eucharist. (3) And I am going to guess, here, that you do not believe that Grace actually flows through Sacraments in a special way. So we DO differ greatly in what we mean and what we believe.
    Haven’t I heard the description that to many Evangelicals (i.e. Lutherans) that Jesus is present “in, beneath and through” or something like that? That you understand that He is present, but not the actual Substance of, the Eucharist?
    This is a much higher understanding of Communion that some non-denom churches I have visited, where I am horrified by the casualness and lack of interest (“Communion today? Another 1/2 hour more church? Ah, forget it…”).
    So, yes, I believe that Catholics and “Chris Jones’s” (I’m sorry, I don’t know your denom) do NOT receive the same Eucharist. But with that opinion, I do not consider your communion service a mockery (against the earlier protest).

  34. Therese Z says:

    Atwood: I AM offended by many Evangelical sites. They call me a daughter of the Whore and an idolater. You’d be offended too.
    Very interesting examples. The 1896 encyclical dealt specifically with Episcopal ordinations because they were trying to claim true apostolic succession. That had to be definitely defined as wrong, because their initial bishops were validly bishoped and therefore validly ordaining, but then they started creating bishops without proper succession, which loused up everything.
    There are some Anglicans today who have traced their ordinations very carefully and can make a case for apostolic succssion should there ever be a reunion, and I imagine their evidence will be reviewed if that blessed day occurs.
    Lutherans don’t claim apostolic succession and don’t require it in ordaining ministers. So they don’t care what the RCC says.
    In Dominus Iesus, I see what you’re objecting to. The RCC hears Jesus say that “upon this Rock I will build my Church,” not churches, and logically holds that there is only one Church, and they are it.
    In THAT light, no other separated community would BE a church. The term “ecclesial” means church, so there is great precision in that term.
    This has NOTHING to do with whether those other bodies are not truly worshipping and serving the Lord. If you will read all of Dominus Iesus, you’ll see the RCC shares and acknowledges the validity of worship in all Christian churches.
    I’ve seen the argument elsewhere that some Protestants (I’m sorry, I don’t have enough denominational knowledge, so I have to lump everyone in together, it’s not meant to be offensive), believe that there is no need for a Visible Church, for one Church. That there is an “invisible church” that joins all believers. In that theory, each church is of equal merit. The Dominus Iesus statement would therefore feel hurtful.
    But since the RCC believes that there is unity in belief and teaching in one True Church, one Faith, one Baptism, then how can they recognize the existence of any other capital-C Church?

  35. John H says:

    Therese,
    You’re wrong to a greater or lesser extent on all three counts there.
    (1) We do too believe that the bread and wine in the Supper are the body and blood of Christ, period. We don’t go for the philosophical language of “substance” and “accidents”, but we do believe that when at the altar we eat the Flesh and drink the Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, the medicine of immortality, for the forgiveness of our sins. I recommend you read the Small Catechism on the subject.
    (2) You’re half-right on this one. We don’t insist on apostolic succession, but we do say that ministers of Word and Sacrament should be duly called. Opinions differ as to whether laypeople cannot administer the Supper (as a matter of basic possibility) or merely should not (as a matter of good order): you are referred to the discussion on HWS at the moment.
    (3) Well, we have a different understanding of “grace”, but what we believe is that in Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution and the Sacrament of the Altar, as well as in the preaching of the Gospel, we actually receive the forgiveness of sins (and with it life and salvation) from the Lord Jesus Christ, via His minister, “in a very special way”.
    You may consider our Lord’s Supper to be invalid for lack of proper priestly orders; we will have to agree to differ on that. But it is simply not true in the slightest to say that we think less of the Supper than Roman Catholics or are less committed to the truth that the bread and wine actually are the body and blood of our Lord, according to His Word, and that we actually do receive the blessings of the Gospel as we eat and drink in faith.
    And we’re with you 100% on the grape-juice-and-crackers brigade.

  36. John H says:

    As for the Evangelical doctrine of the church, and why it is not about setting an “invisible” church against a “visible” one, you may like to read my series on this last year. You can find links to the relevant posts here.

  37. Therese Z says:

    John:
    “(1) We do too believe that the bread and wine in the Supper are the body and blood of Christ, period.”
    I know you do, and I believe you when you say that you receive it with love and reverence. I presume you grant us the same receiption in love and reverence, all the while agreeing to differ on the priesthood. We do love and honor our priests and see the depth of the Apostolic connection as a blessing on them.
    Good stuff on this site.

  38. greg bourke says:

    What does Luther have carved on his tomb? Coronation of Mary or Assumption? Does anyone have pictures?
    As for feeling offended, let’s go for a bracing walk past ian paisley’s website, which seems to distill christianity down to anti-popery, or past the timeless classics dave hunt and jack chick.
    As for DomIesus saying non-Cath churches are “are not Churches in the proper sense” how is that more offensive than say, a Lutheran panning Reformed or Rick Warren? Isn’t it implicit that a Lutheran energetically posting on a blog against the Reformed considers them somehow lacking “proper sense”?

  39. greg bourke says:

    What does Luther have carved on his tomb? Coronation of Mary or Assumption? Does anyone have pictures?
    As for feeling offended, let’s go for a bracing walk past ian paisley’s website, which seems to distill christianity down to anti-popery, or past the timeless classics dave hunt and jack chick.
    As for DomIesus saying non-Cath churches are “are not Churches in the proper sense” how is that more offensive than say, a Lutheran panning Reformed or Rick Warren? Isn’t it implicit that a Lutheran energetically posting on a blog against the Reformed considers them somehow lacking “proper sense”?

  40. greg bourke says:

    What does Luther have carved on his tomb? Coronation of Mary or Assumption? Does anyone have pictures?
    As for feeling offended, let’s go for a bracing walk past ian paisley’s website, which seems to distill christianity down to anti-popery, or past the timeless classics dave hunt and jack chick.
    As for DomIesus saying non-Cath churches are “are not Churches in the proper sense” how is that more offensive than say, a Lutheran panning Reformed or Rick Warren? Isn’t it implicit that a Lutheran energetically posting on a blog against the Reformed considers them somehow lacking “proper sense”?

  41. FDN says:

    What’s offensive isn’t so much that people have certain opinions, as when they go off in rages about in on the other guy’s turf. As though we should apologize for our own views.
    It’s also offensive when all “Protestants” are lumped together; or when Catholics, assuming that as members of the One True Chuch(TM) they automatically know everything they need to know, presume to argue fine points of doctrine based on no more research into our beliefs than consulting the web of prejudices surrounding the word “Protestant” in their own brain. I can’t express, for example, how deeply offensive it is for Augsburg Evangelicals to be told by Catholics that we don’t believe in the Real Presence. I never even bother responding to that, because it screams loud and clear “As a child of Rome, I’m far too important to click on that link to your confessions before I start accusing you.” John only takes the time to deal with it because he has the patience of a saint.

  42. FDN says:

    What’s offensive isn’t so much that people have certain opinions, as when they go off in rages about in on the other guy’s turf. As though we should apologize for our own views.
    It’s also offensive when all “Protestants” are lumped together; or when Catholics, assuming that as members of the One True Chuch(TM) they automatically know everything they need to know, presume to argue fine points of doctrine based on no more research into our beliefs than consulting the web of prejudices surrounding the word “Protestant” in their own brain. I can’t express, for example, how deeply offensive it is for Augsburg Evangelicals to be told by Catholics that we don’t believe in the Real Presence. I never even bother responding to that, because it screams loud and clear “As a child of Rome, I’m far too important to click on that link to your confessions before I start accusing you.” John only takes the time to deal with it because he has the patience of a saint.

  43. FDN says:

    What’s offensive isn’t so much that people have certain opinions, as when they go off in rages about in on the other guy’s turf. As though we should apologize for our own views.
    It’s also offensive when all “Protestants” are lumped together; or when Catholics, assuming that as members of the One True Chuch(TM) they automatically know everything they need to know, presume to argue fine points of doctrine based on no more research into our beliefs than consulting the web of prejudices surrounding the word “Protestant” in their own brain. I can’t express, for example, how deeply offensive it is for Augsburg Evangelicals to be told by Catholics that we don’t believe in the Real Presence. I never even bother responding to that, because it screams loud and clear “As a child of Rome, I’m far too important to click on that link to your confessions before I start accusing you.” John only takes the time to deal with it because he has the patience of a saint.

  44. FDN says:

    What’s offensive isn’t so much that people have certain opinions, as when they go off in rages about in on the other guy’s turf. As though we should apologize for our own views.
    It’s also offensive when all “Protestants” are lumped together; or when Catholics, assuming that as members of the One True Chuch(TM) they automatically know everything they need to know, presume to argue fine points of doctrine based on no more research into our beliefs than consulting the web of prejudices surrounding the word “Protestant” in their own brain. I can’t express, for example, how deeply offensive it is for Augsburg Evangelicals to be told by Catholics that we don’t believe in the Real Presence. I never even bother responding to that, because it screams loud and clear “As a child of Rome, I’m far too important to click on that link to your confessions before I start accusing you.” John only takes the time to deal with it because he has the patience of a saint.

  45. Therese Z says:

    A rage? I beg to differ. If pointing out that I am offended by being called a daughter of the Whore by other websites than this one is rage, then I don’t know what to say…..If this is the tone taken on this blog, then I’ll withdraw.
    Please call me to task with specifics, please, and make sure you point out any direct and personal raging I did.

  46. Therese Z says:

    A rage? I beg to differ. If pointing out that I am offended by being called a daughter of the Whore by other websites than this one is rage, then I don’t know what to say…..If this is the tone taken on this blog, then I’ll withdraw.
    Please call me to task with specifics, please, and make sure you point out any direct and personal raging I did.

  47. FDN says:

    That the real Body and Blood of our Lord is NOT there (which I believe is your understanding, too).
    29.04.05 6:21 PM. Unambiguous evidence that you did not bother to actually investigate what we believe before you started debating us. It’s insulting, and yes, it clearly says that you do not respect us enough to find out what we really confess, especially when you are talking to aomeone like John, who has obviously put a lot of time into investigating Catholic beliefs as carefully as possible.
    Otherwise, while “raging” was an exaggeration, your tone has been pretty petulant at times. E.g. the bit about “real live Advance [sic} Theologians.” What, you think the ones I know aren’t “real live”? I’m talking about some of my closest friends here. That’s right: dear, close personal friends whom I believe to be “gross Mariolaters.” You can say that somebody is doing something objectively wrong and still love them. Not everyone lives up to that ideal, but John absolutely does and the rest of us do our best to take his example. If you have a problem with things that were said somewhere else, you need to take it up with those other people, whoever they are. This isn’t a Jack Chick whore of babylon site, and you know it. Your upset is very misplaced.

  48. Therese Z says:

    No, Evangelicals do NOT believe that it is the Real, actual, physical Body and Blood, or they would be doing the following:
    1. Reserving the Sacred Species in the Tabernacle to take to the sick.
    2. Not discarding the Sacred Species in the regular sink or the garbage if there is excess (yes, some consume any leftovers, but many don’t, there is no consensus. As you act, so you believe.)
    3. Adoring the reserved Sacrament, in the Tabernacle or exposed, in Eucharistic Adoration, because It truly is Christ present, in a special way.
    4. Genuflect or otherwise reverence the Tabernacle while passing it, because Jesus is physically and truly present in the reserved Sacred Species.
    5. In the Mass, up to the moment of Consecration, the bread and wine are referred to as “it” or “these gifts.” After the Consecration, the Sacrament is only referred to as “Him” or “Jesus Christ.” Same in Evangelical churches? Not that I’ve heard.
    Evangelicals certainly believe that Jesus is present at the time of Communion. The Lutheran communions I have witnessed have been profoundly reverent, and I have read theological arguments for why that’s the case, but no Prot makes the argument that He is still present after Communion. And I am puzzled by that: does Jesus take back His Gift? At what moment? Before or after the recessional? (Before you criticize, that’s flippancy to make the point, not disrespect of communing Evangelicals.)
    I believe that the RCC position of the permanence of the Gift means that our understanding of His Presence is far more complex, and, because I am Catholic, I believe that it is true. Heck, I know from personal experience that it IS true, that I have received Jesus Christ Himself, and experienced His Presence. It’s a “hard saying, and who can bear it?”

  49. Chris Jones says:

    Therese,
    Your argument boils down to this: Lutherans do not express their belief in precisely the same way liturgically and in personal piety as Roman Catholics, so it must be a fundamentally different belief. This is a totally specious argument.
    Eastern Orthodox do not practice adoration of the elements outside the Mass; they do not practice the Holy Hour, the feast of Corpus Christi, or Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Do you therefore conclude that the Orthodox do not believe in the Real Presence? Your logic would compel you to say so, but you could not be more wrong. It is the same with us; we adore the Saviour in the sacramental elements during the Mass, but it is not our custom to do so outside of the Mass.
    It is true that most Lutheran Churches do not reserve the Holy Gifts (some do); but that is because our pastors normally commune the sick by celebrating the Lord’s Supper with them, rather than bringing the sacrament consecrated at the parish Eucharist. It is certainly not out of any lack of reverence and adoration towards the Body and Blood of the Saviour.
    It’s really not appropriate for you to infer what our beliefs must be from what you think you know of our practice. If you have ever been offended by being told that Roman Catholics “worship” the Mother of God, then perhaps you have an inkling of how deeply offensive it is to Lutherans to be told that we don’t “really” believe in the Real Presence of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ in the sacrament of the altar.
    We do indeed believe, teach, and confess that in the sacrament of the altar the bread and wine are in very truth the body and blood of Christ. I’m sure that I speak for all of the Lutherans on this weblog when I say that the receiving of Christ’s body and blood in the Lord’s Supper is the very heart of my spiritual life, the medicine of immortality without which I could not survive spiritually. It seems to me that you are way out of line to be suggesting that this, the heart of our life in Christ, is some sort of sham.

  50. greg bourke says:

    I hope FDN wasn’t spouting off at me! Doubt it, as I am the very portrait of civilised interlocutory deportment.
    Question:
    If I own shares in Google, which owns blogger, which I do, does it make me the real blog owner?
    Afterall, people get awfully territorial about what is a free service from Google.
    FDN: “What’s offensive isn’t so much that people have certain opinions, as when they go off in rages about in on the other guy’s turf. As though we should apologize for our own views.”
    All base are belong to Gates.

  51. Larry says:

    1. Chris’ 4:01 am post is very fine. It speaks for deeply serious Lutherans who take a high view of the Eucharist. And there are many such Lutherans.
    2. I agree with him that you can believe in the Real Presence without feeling that Eucharistic Adoration and reservation of the sacred species must follow. Anglicans and Orthodox would back him up on that, I think.
    3. Disposition of the elements after communion is a problem at some ELCA parishes however. I read something one time written by Leonard Klein (who, ironically, or maybe not so ironically, has since swum the Tiber)that sloppy post-communion practices at ELCA congregations engendered more confusion about what Lutherans should believe about the Eucharist than anything else. I also seem to recall from my time in the ELCA that a study document came out in the mid to late 90’s about communion practices. It said that the uneaten bread and the wine that was not drunk could be disposed of by “returning it to the earth”: pouring the wine into the ground, and feeding the bread to the birds. This is a step up from simply trashing the elements, but it still doesn’t equal what the Catholics and Anglicans do. The remaining elements should be reverently consumed, if you’re not going to reserve them. And, anecdotally, when I was a member of that ELCA parish I observed one time a person with a Dirt Devil cleaning up the altar area after communion, which utilized bread that day instead of wafers.
    4. The practices at LCMS congregations in general, and Chris’ congregation in particular, may well be light years from what I described above. Indeed I do not doubt that at many ELCA congregations the Lord’s Supper is celebrated reverently and with deep seriousness, and great care is taken with the elements, post-communion.
    5. Catholics can be irreverent toward the Eucharist too, but in different ways. Attire I have sometimes seen at Mass leaves a lot to be desired.

  52. Therese Z says:

    Chris:
    Nothing you wrote contradicts anything I wrote. You (Lutheran, I see now by re-reading) do not understand the physical presence of Jesus in the Eucharist the same way Catholics do. Your view is very, very high: Jesus’ actual Presence “in, under and through” the elements (please, someone get me straight on the terminology). But you have discarded the Apostolic Succession of ordained priests nor have you limited the confection of the Eucharist to them alone. We believe and teach that by the laying on of hands in continuous succession, the Holy Spirit’s gift to the Apostles is transmitted to today’s bishops and priests. I don’t know how you understand the ordination of your ministers is accomplished. What changes them? Is it their promise, or does it come from the outside? Is the change permanent? How is the change effected during ordination? If there is nothing permanently changed or given to your ministers to enable them to participate with Jesus (we’d say “to stand in persona Christi”) in consecrating the elements, then what exactly is their role in presiding over the Eucharist? What do they do a layman can’t do? Is an ordained minister really necessary? Why don’t you just leave the bread and wine on the altar and step back and pray?
    I was *very* careful to point out that you do not take Communion carelessly. YOU used the word “sham,” not me; I used the words “profound” and “reverent.”
    Catholics have been celebrating the Eucharist longer, celebrating, documenting, studying, writing and teaching about it longer, and can demonstrate evidence of these practices long before the Reformation, or the Eastern schism (no, the Eastern Orthodox do not have a right understanding nor do they retain Apostolic Succession). Don’t mix them up with the Eastern Rite Catholics (Byzantine, Marionite, etc), who do, some of whom don’t practice Adoration, but they prostrate themselves before the Eucharist continually through the Mass, where Roman rite Catholics don’t: same belief is demonstrated in different ways.
    There is a severe change in belief after the Reformation, a change in sacramental view, in teaching. It is simply NOT the same, although as I apparently have to keep saying, the people’s hearts are still obviously “lifted up to the Lord.”

  53. Therese Z says:

    “Catholics can be irreverent toward the Eucharist too, but in different ways. Attire I have sometimes seen at Mass leaves a lot to be desired.”
    Larry, you’re darn tootin’. A gentle but firm education of all Catholics is thoroughly in order, and I have great hopes for the forward trend set by Pope JPII and now Pope B16. Thank God that belly shirts and gum-chewing and window-counting and stupid music choices and bad singing and lazy priests don’t damage the truth of the Eucharist.

  54. Jesus’ actual Presence “in, under and through” the elements (please, someone get me straight on the terminology).
    Much obliged. The terminology is “is”, as in “This is my Body.”

  55. Chris Jones says:

    Therese,
    With respect, I really think you need to be much better informed about the teachings and practices of confessions other than your own, if you are going to comment about them. You say that the Eastern Orthodox do not have a right understanding [of the Eucharist] nor do they retain Apostolic Succession. Not only is this statement not true, it is almost trivial to discover that it is not true, even from Roman Catholic sources alone. Your statement contradicts the authoritative teaching of the decrees of Vatican II. The Roman Catholic Church does regard the Orthodox Churches as “true particular Churches”, with valid Apostolic Succession and valid sacraments. Yet you say that the Orthodox do not retain Apostolic Succession. If you cannot even accurately state the teachings of your own Church about other confessions, how can we expect you to understand and accurately state what the other confessions themselves teach and believe?
    You say There is a severe change in belief after the Reformation, a change in sacramental view, in teaching. It is true; there was a change in sacramental teaching after the Reformation – but not among Lutherans. Other Protestants denied the Real Presence, but we did not. The Lutheran Church has always confessed the Real Presence, and excommunicated those who denied it. You asked me not to confuse Eastern Orthodox with Eastern Catholics, as if there were any difference between them on this issue. I must ask you not to confuse Lutherans with other Protestant groups. Not all who are called “Protestant” have the same teachings. Other groups (Presbyterians, Baptists, etc.) deny the Real Presence; we confess it. For this reason, there is no sacramental communion between Lutherans and these groups.

  56. Therese Z says:

    Chris: You may believe that Communion is the Real Presence, but you completely ignored my question about the requirement of a validly (by Apostolic Succession) ordained priesthood to confect it. It stopped being a requirement in the Lutheran Church along with authority; “every man his own Pope,” and every congregation or synod makes its own ministers? I don’t know!
    Please explain. My questions were good ones. What makes your ministers ordained? How does it happen? Is their promise necessary to their ordination? Is it a vow, can it be broken or taken away? Is the change permanent, despite the intent of the minister?
    If I have some facts wrong about Eastern Rite vs. Eastern Orthodox, please give me a moment to review. But the fact remains that the Eastern Orthodox are NOT in communion with the Roman Catholic Church, among other things, they reject the authority of the Pope, a rejection that spills down and damages full communion. I will check and learn. But I know that I CANNOT receive communion in their churches unless it is under special permission by my bishop or in exigent circumstances (like being a soldier on the way to war, dying, living distant from an RC church, etc). The Eastern Rite Catholics are in complete communion.
    Pr Joel: You say “is,” do you truly mean that you are holding Flesh and Blood in your hands, as real as your own? Until what moment? If so, and you are a Lutheran or Evangelical minister, I mean if the “Pr” handle is a real one and not a commenter name, then my question to Chris extends to you: how do you know that you are able to consecrate the elements, without the direct line of the laying on of hands? What if your fellow minister believes stupid stuff, or is deeply fallen in sin? Anything different when he celebrates the Lord’s Supper?
    That gift of the Holy Spirit was given to the Apostles, and they didn’t spread it around to all the thousands they preached to. They laid hands on certain people for certain offices at certain times. When did that change in Lutheran churches? And why?
    The minister is not separable from the sacrament, at least not in Catholic teaching. He does not make it happen, Jesus does, but he stands in the person of Christ to make it visible, experiential and to do what Christ commanded.

  57. Chris Jones says:

    Therese,
    There are (at least) two questions in this discussion: first, do Lutherans believe that the true body and blood of Christ are present on the altar in a Lutheran Lord’s Supper? and second, do Roman Catholics believe that the true body and blood of Christ are present on the altar in a Lutheran Lord’s Supper?
    My only quarrel with you is about the first question. You have, several times, made the claim that Lutherans do not believe that the true body and blood of Christ are present in our Eucharist. But we do believe it, and we always have done.
    On the second question, of course we understand that the Roman Catholic Church regards our ordained ministry and (therefore) our sacraments to be entirely invalid. That’s very unfortunate, and I think the RC Church is mistaken about the validity of our sacraments; but it says nothing about what we believe about our own Church and our own sacraments.
    It’s one thing to tell us that our beliefs are wrong; it’s entirely different to tell us that we don’t actually believe them. Do you understand the difference? and why trying to tell us what we do and do not believe is offensive?
    I’m not avoiding your other questions about Apostolic Succession and ministry issues; on my lunch hour I’ll take a few minutes to try to give you a good answer.

  58. Therese Z says:

    Please, Chris, I am saying what I see in Lutheran apologetic writings on consubstantiation: that Christ is truly present *along with* the elements. “In, with, and under.” That the elements are not changed in their reality; they remain bread and wine. We believe differently.
    I never said you are crossing your fingers and humming, “not really Him, not really Him.” But you teach that it’s His real Flesh and Blood in a miraculous way, not in an “ordinary” way, like the RCC. That’s why the word “real” is getting so complicated on this thread. I say you don’t think He’s “Real,” and you get miffed and say you do. I mean physically real. You mean spiritually real. Right?
    This discussion at this point could turn into what they do very well at “Here We Stand” or “Pontifications” about trans- vs. consubstantiation. I would rather that not happen; they’ve done it and will do it again.
    Instead, I am looking for info on the Lutheran teaching on ordination and its effect on a man, his intentions and actions, because of how sacramental practices are affected. I don’t understand how a church can have valid sacraments without a valid priesthood, because of my understanding of the role of a priest.
    If it would not offend you to give me your opinion of the sacramental actions of a Lutheran minister, I would appreciate it.

  59. Atwood says:

    I find it mind-boggling that this “I’m offended” thread is still going on.
    Let’s stick to the facts:
    1) No one here has accused Theresa of worshipping the whore of babylon.
    2) John H has NO links to Ian Paisley’s website.
    3) None of us Lutherans here quote Jack Chick tracts. (For crying out loud, I’ve never even SEEN one and I know about them SOLELY as the constantly brought up evidence of “pervasive” anti-Catholic bigotry.)
    4) Theresa Z ventured a number of criticisms of Lutheran doctrine, despite the fact she had (until well after these criticisms were made) NO CLUE about what we believe. Nor when it is explained to her does she seem to readily accept the sincerity of us actually believing what we say we do.
    5) Theresa Z has ventured to challenge Pastor Humann’s credentials as a pastor.
    6) Finally, here is Theresa Z’s initial accusation:
    “Tell me why there is such suspicion of how, or whether, Catholics pray? I never look at praying Lutherans and think ‘well, are they REALLY praying? What are they exactly saying? Maybe the Lord is irritated with them, because they’re doing it ALL WRONG!’ Rather I hope I credit their heart and soul with being drawn by the Father to the Son, by the Holy Spirit speaking in their hearts. I feel a little peered-at by Evangelical blogs, judging my prayer and finding it wanting. Putting as nicely as I can, how dare they?”
    In short, Theresa Z clearly viewed this blog as one of those “how-dare-you” evangelical blogs. She evidently views any criticism of prayers to Mary, even in the most irenic and careful way (and really would John H allow any other?) as culpable disrespect. Jack Chick, Whore of Babylon, Ian Paisley: these are all RED HERRINGS. They are irrelevant.
    The more Theresa Z talks the deeper the hole gets.

  60. Pr Joel: You say “is,” do you truly mean that you are holding Flesh and Blood in your hands, as real as your own?
    Yes. Though I suspect that it is substantially *more* real than my own flesh and blood, since it is the risen and glorified Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    Until what moment?
    This is such an annoying and nearly blasphemous question. Since in my ecclesial Lutheran circles we always consume all that is consecrated, we, like the Orthodox, need not be scandalized by such questions as “Is it still the Body if it’s locked up in a tabernacle for a decade”? That is because, according to the command of Christ and the historic practice of the Church universal, we do what He says when He says: “Take, eat. Take drink.” I apologize for the harsh tone of this particular answer.
    how do you know that you are able…
    Already this is a false question. The question is not about one’s personal “ability” to consecrate the elements. Christ alone is “able” and indeed brings this about through the power of His unfailing Word. The question rather is (or ought to be): “how do you know that you have the *authority* to consecrate the elements, in the stead of Christ, etc.” Is this what you intend to ask? Are you even prepared to accept an answer that comes out of the Holy Scriptures and the testimony of the Church Fathers but not the Roman Catholic Catechism? What makes you think that presbyters did not lay hands on me when the gift of office was given “by prophetic utterance” (as St. Paul teaches)?
    They laid hands on certain people for certain offices at certain times. When did that change in Lutheran churches? And why?
    Why do you assume that this has changed in Lutheran churches and who led you to believe so? While we’re asking questions, how about these ones: Who gave the popes of the late middle ages the authority to forbid ordained clergy to preach, while permitting the lay brothers of certain monastic orders to do so, thus confounding the purpose for which Christ conferred the Office? Why not, rather, be grateful to the Lutheran church for putting Humpty-Dumpty back together again?
    What if your fellow minister believes stupid stuff, or is deeply fallen in sin? Anything different when he celebrates the Lord’s Supper?
    No. Lutherans are not Donatists. And if the stupid stuff was heresy, and the sin was public and scandalous, then the fellow minister would be removed from the opportunity to serve in his office by the Church.

  61. Therese Z says:

    Oh, I give up. Chris, I hope you didn’t spend too much time on your lunch hour thinking up answers.
    One last word to the very aggressive Atwood: “Theresa Z has ventured to challenge Pastor Humann’s credentials as a pastor.”
    I said: “Pr Joel: ….If so, and you are a Lutheran or Evangelical minister, I mean if the “Pr” handle is a real one and not a commenter name…”
    Atwood, “Father MacKenzie” is a well-known blogger who is not a priest. “The Internet Monk” is not a monk. “Pr Joel” may not be a preacher or a pastor, how do I know?
    Forget it. This is too unpleasant.

  62. Therese Z says:

    I was “giving up” after Atwood’s answer, not Pastor Joel’s. We collided on the way through the door, me out, him in. Thank you, Pastor, for your answer. I will think about it. But not here. I’ve been successfuly barked off the premises.

  63. FDN says:

    “Pr Joel” [sic] may not be a preacher or a pastor, how do I know?
    Because nobody who reads John’s blog with so much as a sliver of real attention – rather than just dropping by to reflexively spout your own confused position – could POSSIBLY miss that Pr. Humann, one of John’s most frequent commenters, is an Evangelical Lutheran pastor serving somewhere in the north of England. And that’s Pastor Humann, please note. “Pastor [First Name]” is a usage almost totally unknown in our circles, which, again, would be danged hard to miss if you were actually paying attention. Your use of it confirms what we’ve been saying all along – that you don’t care to actually learn what we really believe and do, and if perchance you do learn something about us you take the first opportunity to slight it. Deliberately or negligently addressing other churches’ leaders less deferentially than is that church’s own custom is particularly shoddy.
    Speaking of the north of England, if you don’t know what “Father Mackenzie” is a reference to, Heaven help us all LOL!!!11! Where’s the cultural literacy these days, I tell ya!
    Also, you earlier assured John that you do believe that we believe in the Real Presence, but now you’ve gone on a multi-post assault against the sincerity and validity of our belief. So either you lied to John, or you are following the typical Roman apologetic practice of conceding almost anything for the sake of a moment’s worth of dominance in argument. And that’s just a fancy form of lying anyway.

  64. Dennis says:

    This seems to have gotten into a discussion on the eucharist, but for those interested in another rosary variation devoted to bringing all Christians together in prayer see:
    http://www.ecumenicalrosary.org

  65. Robin says:

    I’ve now read through this entire page. First of all: Thank you John H for your interesting and thought-inpiring article! It truly was food for thought…
    Secondly: I noticed that the comments after a while were loosing focus on the main topic and began dealing with the Eucharist and the importance of apostolic succession. Now, just to linger there for a little while longer… Doesn’t anyone else think that Therese Z received a tad to much harshness? She did have some wonderings about the belief and practicies of the evagelical faithful which she put forth in her reflections. Shouldn’t we then (being the majority here) try to approach her thoughts (especially those about our faith) with a bit more humility and actually try to explain how we think. As in the Eucharist, for example… Why going on pretending that we share identical views with the catholics when we don’t? Or, to be more specific, I don’t and nor do other traditional lutherans (according to the creedal documents of the lutheran reformers). We even go as far as to reject the “papistical” teaching of transubstantiation in favour of our understanding of sacramental union. I can’t say if your believes corresponds to those of traditional lutheranism, but according to the lutheran symbols there are differences. I personally believe that Christ is really present in the Eucharist “in, with, and under the forms of bread and wine”, and not that the substance chances. Wasn’t this one of the things Therese Z was asking about?

    Now, to the topic of hailing Mary… I have actually been thinking about this for some time now. And I must agree with John H that it is hard, also for me, to partake in Marian devotions. Perhaps I’m also too deeply rooted in some sort of hyper-protastant tradition of rejecting anything that resembles catholicism. At the same time it feels a bit unscriptual not to. In the first chapter of Luke there are several references to Mary as being blessed. Luke 1:28 “blessed are you among women!”, v. 42 (again) “blessed are you among women”, v. 48 “henceforth all gererations will call me blessed”. If the Bible tells us again and again that she is blessed and that all generations henceforth will call her so, then shouldn’t we? Perhaps it is just a question of finding a way to honour the Virgin without worshipping her or communicating with her (which I believe would be idoltry and nercomancy). After all… Isn’t she spiritually our adoptive mother just as we, as beloved diciples, are the adoptive children of God (see John 19:26-27)? And should we not honour our mothers (Ex 20:12)? Forgive me if I’m giving some wild interpretations here! Where I am it is 3:50 a.m. and I haven’t slept since 9 a.m. So with these thoughts I bid you all a good night from the Swedish countryside! Pax et bonum!

  66. Amy says:

    So yous are all telling me, that Martin Luther and the Catholic church are wrong? I don’t get it. I personally love the Hail Mary and praying the Lutheran rosary .

  67. Christine says:

    A Lutheran here who swam the Tiber for a lengthy period before coming back to Wittenberg. I have Lutheran and Roman Catholic relatives. Lutherans approach the Eucharist with a sense of mystery. Like the Christian East we firmly believe the “is” in “This is my body, this is my blood” without the need to use scholastic terms such as transubstantiation. Ancient Rome was known for its legal codes and that need for preciseness in defining dogma, etc. carried over into the Christianity of the Latin West. In actuality although the veneration of Mary and the saints became a traditional part of Catholic piety no Catholic is required to believe in Marian apparitions and even on the Vatican’s website there is a caution that Catholics who choose not to pray the rosary are no less Catholic than those who do. Even while I attended the Catholic church I found meditating on the beautiful Biblical canticles of the Benedictus, Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis more inspiring. The rosary, which at one time was considered the psalter of an illiterate laity served a need for its time and in our day remains a strongly Catholic devotion. There is also a Scriptural allusion that original sin is transmitted through the seed of the man, hence the conception of Jesus by the Holy Spirit without the contribution of an earthly biological father. I mean no disrespect to any Catholics on this site but having lived on both sides of the fence has given me the opportunity to experience both. Lutherans are certainly right in acknowledging Mary as Mother of God, blessed among women because, as her Son said, she heard and kept the Word of God, as the faithful handmaiden of the Lord. Beyond that we are not required to go.

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