Sunday, July 15, 2007

a few historical & liturgical notes for this weekend

Lutherans who use Lutheran Service Book, unfortunately, are deprived this weekend of a couple of historical feasts. That covers a growing number of Missouri Synod parishes and chapels. Therefore, for their sake, I thought I would mention a brief word or two on the holy days historically kept on these last few days.

13 July is the feast of St. Anacletus. Anacletus, if we follow Irenaeus's list of Roman Pontiffs, was probably the same man as Cletus, who came after Linus, and preceded Clement. We recall how precarious the situation was for the Church at this early date. It is likely that Anacletus was driven into exile, and later returned to his chair. Like so many of our dear brothers & fathers in Christ, he was faithful to Christ even unto death, and won the martyr's crown. He was killed for the faith under Trajan.

14 July is the feast of Saint Bonaventure. I checked to see if LSB merely moved Bonaventure's feast (as an aside, I differentiate between feast and commemoration in a slightly different way than modern Lutherans & Roman Catholics do, I'll explain in a future post) as it does with so many other saints in the Novus Ordo manner, and unless my eyes missed it, I don't see it listed anywhere on pages xi-xiii, which surprises me, since other notable doctors of the Church are included, such as Augustine, Ambrose, Jerome, Gregory, Bernard, & Anselm. Bonaventure was one of the truly great men of the thirteenth century church, alongside Thomas Aquinas. (Both taught in Paris simultaneously.) The discipline of Bonaventure's life was Fransiscan in form. He guided the Order well, and eventually became bishop of Albano. He died while attending the Council of Lyons in 1274.

15 July is the feast of St. Henry, the Emperor. That feast falls this year on the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, which means that he would be commemorated with a collect in the Mass. Henry, a man of the late tenth and early eleventh centuries, was well known in his day, and for a long time after, for his piety, holy life, and defence of the Church. At one point, a man as great as Emeror Henry was taught a lesson in vocation. He desired to retire and live the life of a Benedictine monk, so he asked for admission to the monastery of St. Vanne at Verdun. But the abbot would not admit him; he urged him instead to return to the rule of his kingdom. Henry fell asleep in 1024.

Now I do not want this weekend to pass without mention of another, more historical than directly liturgical, note. Namely, on 14 July, in the year 1833, the Oxford Movement was launched, when John Keble preached his "Sermon on the National Apostasy," at Saint Mary's, Oxford. The Oxford Movement is defined differently by different writers, more broadly and more narrowly, eg., but its beginning can certainly be marked at the ocassion of this sermon by the pious and unassuming professor of Poetry. Together with Newman and Pusey and others, the movement restored the Church of England to its former ritual and doctrinal heritage. I do hope, and pray, for a similar movement to take place in modern American Lutheranism. Certainly there is much we can learn from the Tractarians.

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