Friday, July 29, 2011

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Who Has a Call and a Ministry in the Church?

For decades now the Missouri Synod has allowed and even actively promoted a confusion over the Church's Ministry.  It has done this in several ways, but perhaps the most effective and widely accepted, and therefore the most repulsive, is the broadening of the Ministry to include all sorts of things which would never have been recognized in the sixteenth and seventeenth century by the orthodox Lutheran fathers, or the Confessions they gave us. 

This goes at least as far back as the period when the LC-MS began to see the school teacher as having a "call" and a "ministry."  Thence this confusion spread to other jobs, such as Director of Christian Education, Lay Minister (whatever that is), and on and on.   Currently the Missouri Synod recognizes the following as "ministers" who can receive "calls."
  • DCE (Director of Christian Education)
  • DCO (Director of Christian Outreach)
  • Deaconess
  • DFLM (Director of Family Life Ministry)
  • DPM (Director of Parish Music)
  • Lay Minister
  • Parish Assistant
  • Teacher
  • Ordained Minister
 Besides these, there are also those whose official ministry is some sort of combination of two or more of the above. 

Aside from what is on the list, the other notable issue this raises in today's Missouri Synod is something that is not on the list, namely the deacon.  For today a man who calls himself a deacon (whether or not he was ever actually made a deacon) can get official synodical permission (normally from a district president) to perform the Ministry of Word and Sacrament, not merely in some broadly defined manner, nor even in the traditionally limited manner for which I would argue, but in the sense of actually being the local minister of the Gospel for a congregation, even supposing to celebrate the Sacrament of the Altar.  The logical question this raises is that if this is the case (even though it ought not be the case) then why don't they include these guys on the official list of those who have a ministry?  But I digress.

One of the most troublesome on the list above is the case of the so-called "office" of deaconess.  For it is the case of something that has only become more confused since the Synod domesticated it, and even incorporated it into the seminary system.  Incidentally, this is not to say that the deaconess program is not filled with good Lutheran women, who have a healthy sense of their role in the Church.  This is not a study of the deaconesses, and their own views.  I have spoken with relatively few of them.  That is beside the point.  The point is how theologically and vocationally confused the matter is, beginning at the top.

Let us take, for example, the theologically bizarre way in which Dean Wenthe speaks of the deaconess in the following video of last year's Call Service, wherein he equates the Deaconess with Word and Sacrament ministry, claiming that she serves the Church with Baptism and the Holy Supper, and even claims that the office of deaconess is apostolic and was established by Christ Himself:



But this is not limited to the quirks of one man.  For Concordia Theological Seminary, in Ft. Wayne, has institutionalized this confusion, for example, by its reference to deaconesses having "calls":

Nor is this matter limited to one seminary.  Concordia Seminary, in St. Louis, has no problem making reference to the "calling" of deaconesses.

How do we begin to bring light once more to this confusion?  We might begin by giving a fresh hearing to our Church's most eminent doctors, like Robert Preus.  Consider what he wrote on this topic (in his essay, The Doctrine of the Call) in the most spiritually mature stage of his long distinguished career:

A second example of the tripartite movement of theology outlined above is the gradual switch in meaning of the terms "minister" and "ministry."  Historically the terms referred to AC XIV and the office of public preaching.  Now the terms have become generic for anyone, man or woman (but not yet child), who serves the Lord and His Church full time, either publicly or privately, and all the shades between the two.  These "ministers" have the "ministry of the Word" by contract or "call," it is supposed, and the Lutheran Annual lumps into one generic category these church workers (a venerable old generic term) "Commissioned Ministers-Teachers."  I suppose that sometimes these people are called, sometimes not; and I do not know whether there is any rationale for calling or only contracting them.  This semantic confusion undermines, at least, the doctrine of AC XIV and all our Confessions which refer to something and someone very specific when they speak of "the ministry of teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments" (AC V) or men who "publicly teach or preach or administer the sacraments in the church."  I have never been able to figure out why these many new offices, classified under Walther's "auxiliary offices" (a term which I cannot find in Luther or the Confessions or the dogmaticians, unless it be their recognition of the office of deacon), should be called "ministries" in contrast to the multitudinous other offices and duties other Christians hold on boards of congregations and in every walk of life.

And this:

The CTCR document on The Ministry, after broadening the term "ministry" to include also every kind of auxiliary office (19), redefines the term "called," at least as it is used in respect to the ministry of the Word in AC XIV. "A person is 'called' when he or she is summoned by the church (?) to the office of Word and Sacrament or to an office auxiliary to it on a full-time permanent basis and by education, by certification, and by solemn and public act (eg., ordination or commissioning) is brought into a unique relationship with the church from which he or she has unique authority and through which he or she has been ordained or commissioned, at a specific post for the length of time which is ordinarily continuing and indefinite, but which in certain cases and under certain specific circumstances may be a specified period of time, which is evidenced by the individual's name being placed on and retained on one of the official rosters of the Synod" (p. 29). This is all one sentence! But who, really, knows what it means? Certainly the term "call" is given a new meaning, a meaning quite different from that in AC XIV. Perhaps the reason for the statement of the CTCR was simply to justify what was already happening in the use of nomenclature in the Lutheran Annual. We can understand no other reason for this new, confusing definition of the term.

And this:

Prior to the turn of the century men were called to only two positions (status) as ministers: pastors and professors (teachers of theology). These two positions were both thought to embrace the Predigtamt, and in fact the two positions were combined. Then in the 1890s a controversy on the office of parochial school teachers broke out between the Wisconsin Synod and the Missouri Synod. J.P.Koehler led the Wisconsin camp in advocating the "call" being extended to teachers. The Predigtamt which belonged to the universal priesthood and sprang from the universal priesthood was exercised publically by a school teacher as well as by a pastor of a local congregation, Koehler maintained. The Predigtamt was not the pastoral office (Pfarramt), but embraced all sorts of other offices and possible multiplication of them (Hoefling). School teachers were called, but, for some reason, not ordained. Missouri resisted that change in practice for half a century. For in Missouri's theology, as clearly taught in the Confessions, especially the Treatise, the public ministry of the Word was an exercise of Christ's ministry through the apostolate and was a unique office. Only to this specific office could suitable persons be called, and only to this office could one be ordained.

Then, long after the controversy with the Wisconsin Synod, changes came in the LCMS. Day school teachers were called, various district and synod staff workers, often occupied in affairs not directly related to the ministry of the Word, DCEs and others. Throughout her history district presidents were always in the ministry of the Word, having a call to a local congregation. Now since the 1950s almost all of them have no call to a congregation. Many of them perhaps perceive that they have a temporary call by virtue of their election; but do they? This was not the case in Luther's or Chemnitz' day when all Superintendents were also pastors. Nor did visitors, who always had parishes, receive calls. And I suspect that they do not now. Perhaps a call is given only to those, men and women, who work full time in the congregation or synod and whose work is tangental to the one ministry of Word and Sacrament? But one thing seems certain: the proliferation of "calls" and "ministries" in the Missouri Synod has caused great confusion and degraded the one office of the ministry, to say nothing of our understanding of AC XIV and doctrine of the call.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Robert Johnson- Crossroad

Incidentally, in one of the opening images in this video, I think I can see the hot dog cart that I might end up working before long. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

feminine domesticity in popular music

Modern American popular culture cultivates dangerously unhealthy concepts of women (also men-but we'll address that separately).  On the one hand, there is the feminist repulsion of the feminine, which includes a distaste for feminine callings like wifehood and motherhood.  Oh, women still marry, but the woman's role has been completely redefined to something more like the wiser partner.  And indeed, many do delay or even eschew marriage altogether.  It is no longer considered a necessary part of a woman's life, even of a woman's sex life.  And on the other hand, there is the oversexualization of women, starting with the sexualization of girls.  This trend is so pervasive that it requires no documentation.  Seriously, I can't even read an interesting story about the writing of Catch-22 in Vanity Fair without seeing an almost naked Emma Stone on the cover.  These trends are dangerous and unhealthy for men as well as for women, and for our culture in general.      

Perhaps some of the worst offenses are in popular music.  And when we consider the world of pop music, we must include not only the words to the songs, but also matters like the images, the dress, and the dance moves.  And the impressionable brains of our youth are being flooded with this exciting yet morbid culture of sex and liberation, so called. 

And yet, it is worth pointing out that there are amazingly positive moments even in the popular music scene.  Actually, they are not really surprising as much as they are confirmation of the fact that the traditional roles of men and women are ingrained in the very fiber of humanity, and seep out from time to time even in this depraved culture, especially when the theme an artist is going for is romance.    

One example that jumped out at me when I first heard it is a line in a song by Lisa Loeb.  In her song, "When All the Stars Were Falling", about three quarters of the way through the song, this line comes up, "But I could be restful, I could be someone's home."  It's an amazing statement, because she doesn't merely say, I could make a home, or I could be at home, but in a most ingenious way, she basically identifies herself with the home.  I could be someone's home.  If you are interested in hearing the song, here it is: 

The other example I'd like to share is a song by Vienna Teng, "Harbor", which revolves around the refrain, "All I want is to be your harbor."  It captures with great art, both musically and lyrically, the theme of a woman's willingness to embody the love and safety of the home for the one she loves.  This song, in one sense, seems like a bittersweet farewell, maybe even an amicable break-up.  On the other hand, I like to see it as a beloved saying to her lover that whatever the struggle he faces in his calling, he knows he will always have one aspect of his life that is his safe harbor, namely, her.  Here is Vienna Teng performing this song.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mark Steyn on Free Speech

Political blogs, especially well reasoned ones, have my admiration and support, for they occupy an important place in modern public discourse.  However, my own blog is, to a great degree, consciously apolitical.  I sense the need to make this explicit disclaimer once in a while, as defense against the partisan reactions, on either side, that many are likely to feel when they see, for example, that I cite a man like Mark Steyn. 

In the following video, he speaks on something in which Americans, no matter their opinions, ought to revive a true appreciation, namely, the freedom of speech.   I posted here, I might remind the reader, or inform the newer ones, a speech by Christopher Hitchens on the same subject.  I consider both Steyn and Hitchens to be brilliant on this point, however they may disagree on other points.  Lovers of the First Amendment, enjoy. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

new facebook product page

I would call your attention, dear reader, to the facebook page I have set up, specifically designed to keep you updated on my books.  It's a page called Deacon Latif's Books, and you can find it by way of this link: . I invite you to go there, and "like" that page.  That way, you will get its updates.  Thanks!

Monday, July 18, 2011

things that strike me as unmanly

Our early 21st century American culture is feminized in profound ways.  So much so, in fact, that the shallow, relatively unimportant thoughts I would raise in this post may seen completely irrelevant (the last one below, however, is utterly serious).  Think what you will, but I bring them up for your consideration, perhaps mostly because I just see no one else doing so. 

Here are a few things that do not help, if you want others to think of you as manly:

  • Beginning an answer or a discourse with the word "so."  Like most grammatical aberrations, I would not say it should be utterly condemned.  Language is an art, and using a device like this on occasion may be clever, and add just the touch you may want.  On the other hand, I would strongly suggest that those of you who do it all the time please think about how lame it begins to sound to the objective observer, especially for men who want to be taken seriously.

  • Taking part in a medium that has the name "twitter," and doing anything that can be called "tweeting."  I am not opposed to the medium per se, though I haven't yet made use of it.  However, I cannot and will not swallow such terminology. 

  • Drinking any beer that is light, or "lite", or in any other way made for women.

  • Referring to your hooded sweat shirt as a "hoodie."  If a woman is wearing it, then yes, I can see it being called a "hoodie," but guys?  Many of you 20-somethings and younger have grown up with this nomenclature.  It's not your fault.  I wish you guys would learn to be a bit more countercultural, though. 

  • Spending much time with cartoons, or comics, or superhero movies, unless it is to pacify an actual child.  And you shouldn't let him watch too much of it either.  (The one superhero I kind of like is Po, the kung fu panda who finds too many reasons to eat-though I haven't seen the second movie yet.)

  • Feeling offended when someone challenges you on anything.  I realize, for example, that what I write above will cut some of you.  So please remember, it's okay for friends to tease each other.  You're a big boy.

  • Any sort of contemporary style of public worship.  And on this one, I'm not even teasing.

Epistle Acts 1:1-8 in Arabic

The opening words of Saint Luke's second book, chanted in Arabic.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

What's up, Milwaukee? Riverwest24 and Cream City Rickshaw!

a new Chi Rho design

The Chi Rho is an ancient symbol of our Lord Jesus Christ, and surely one of the most famous, even today in a world that is in many ways post-Christian.  There are several christograms, but this one is one of my favorite.  For those unfamiliar, the chi rho is the Greek letter chi superimposed on the Greek letter Rho, which in terms of our Latin letters looks like an X and a P.  In fact, these two Greek letters are the abbreviation for the word in that tongue for Christ. 

It can be found in innumerable forms (surely hundreds).  Any glance at Google Images under "chi rho", for example, will yield this symbol in many color schemes and font styles, in simple styles and elaborate, tattooed on skin, embroidered on vestments, and everything in between.  A friend of mine, I might add, has it tattooed on his chest. 

Anyway, an idea came to me yesterday or the day before, namely, that I would love to find a good chi rho for the front cover of the psalter I have published.  When I first published that book, I contented myself with just a plain cover with no image at all.  Then, a couple months ago, I went back and revised the cover to include a chi rho, a very plain, rather boring looking one which I found for free online.  But as I have been getting better at book cover design with the tools offered at Lulu, ideas have been popping into my head.  And the latest was that I ought to go back and try to improve on that boring, off-white chi rho (it was an almost morbid type of white).  So my idea was to find one that is 1. in the public domain, 2. has some character, and a distinctive quality, and 3. my color idea was red with black background.  I searched and searched, and did find a few potentials, but was unsure how to find out if they were subject to copyright.

Then Ruth, my dear wife, came up with an idea.  She suggested trying to make one herself.  I was like, okay, bring it on.  She experimented with a number of different ideas, such as taking an interesting font, like Black Letter, and playing with it.  Finally, she went with a more basic approach, and the result is a design that I really like.  It has clean lines, with elegant serifs on the ends, which is a nice touch.  Ruth actually came up with variations on it, and this is the one I went with for the cover:

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Jesus Is Just Alright

The other day my wife and I dropped into the Jimmy John's on Brady Street for a bite to eat, and we were treated to some Doobie Brothers being piped through the atmosphere:

On the one hand, it is good to hear funky music, and always a bit amazing when any positive mention of Jesus is turned up, rather than censored, in the jaded culture of Brady Street.

On the other hand, I must say that Arthur Reid Reynolds got it completely wrong.  Jesus is most definitely not just alright with me.  He is far more.  He is worthy of worship and praise which I can only begin to learn to give him in this life.  For He is the almighty God, Who created the universe, and Who became man to suffer and die to make atonement for my sin. 

It may very well be that the mode of expression employed by Reynolds, and the bands that have played this song, was a genuine effort to praise Christ Jesus in the only way they knew.  Yet it is not a mode that is worthy of being objectively admired and placed in the halls of musical immortality.

Paul McCain Shows Us How Not to Argue

At his blog, Cyberbrethren, Paul T. McCain recently posted an interesting entry, in which he complains about a serious problem in today's Lutheran Church.  I encourage you to read it.  Have you read it?  Okay, now to summarize his argument, the problem or error that is posing a danger to the Lutheran Church, in his own words, is this:

 To say that there is a certain “level” of liturgical activity that marks what is really Lutheran or really liturgical.

and to make you think that there is some certain “best” way to do the liturgy and that the wearing of certain vestments is the “most” or “more” Lutheran way of doing things.

and to give you the impression that unless you reach their “level” of liturgical correctness and hold your hands just so, and gesticulate in just the right way.

and to make others of us feel guilty if we do not follow their lead in adding additional ceremony and rubrics and rituals and who have, and continue, to hold themselves up before the Synod as models of the “best practice” of the liturgy.

Unfortunately, the third passage above is not a complete thought.  That is, unless one reaches a certain level of correctness, etc, then...what?  Curious.

Be that as it may, I must give McCain the benefit of the doubt and conclude that in, with, and under his sometimes amusing manner of discoursre he has a genuine argument, namely, that there is a real liturgical legalism at work in the Missouri Synod.  By the way, on that point I would agree, though the liturgical legalism that is evident from my perspective is certainly different than the specific matters that clearly bother him.  There are several types of liturgical legalism.  One type is where there is an absolute insistence on doing things in a manner more in keeping with an Evangelical community church than with the Lutheran Church.  Another type is where liturgical practices that are merely perceived to be too Roman Catholic are condemned.  Another type would be where there is a true legalism on the part of traditionalists.  It is this third type which McCain condemns in this article.  And as a servant of the Gospel and a man of the Church of the Lutheran Confession, my reaction is that I too would complain about this at my own blog. 

But first we must clarify something.  Namely, is this problem real?  Are there legalists of this sort in the Missouri Synod today?  It is not, in fact, sufficient merely to make such a claim and expect the Christian public to believe it merely because the one making the claim is a well known part of the church bureaucracy.  How close does McCain come to identifying these culprits?  We get a lot of references to "some people" and "some among us" and again "some among us" along with good doses of "they" and "their."  More is expected of churchmen.

He should name names, name places, and spell out in precise terms the offenses. 

Aside from what he doesn't say, like the actual who, where, and what, he says some truly curious things, like his prediction that his complaint will "make some people angry."  Again, I wonder who such people could be.  It is abundantly possible that there are such people.  I honestly don't get around many of the circles that are active in today's Lutheran world.  I am not on LutherQuest, for example, or the Lutheran Publicity Bureau list, or who knows what else.  I can say this: in my own limited experience, I have not seen a lot of people who tend to get angry, or really emotional in any way, in their theological discourse.  Is it possible that McCain is projecting unfounded fears? 

I would comment on just a couple more of his claims.  At one point he says of his unnamed offenders:
They have no right to put themselves in the place of judging the content of the Synod’s hymnals or liturgies, or indicating that such content is not “good enough” or that there is some “better” way.

This is just plain silly.  Since when are the Synod's published material beyond the criticism of the Christian?  Some of these hymnals, etc., actually disagree with each other on certain points, which obviously implies that they must not be beyond criticism.  In fact, the newest hymnal, Lutheran Service Book, contains things which are at odds even within itself.  That is not to say that there isn't much good in that book.  Indeed there is.  The point is that these resources are by no means infallible.  Nor is it disloyal to criticize them.  I might make the opposite argument, namely, he who is loyal to Christ and the Church is precisely the one who will raise his voice from time to time, in all respectfulness and love, in criticism of things which are in the church's published books.

Finally, McCain makes this claim of those who criticize the Synod's books:
Such things are every bit as damaging to our fellowship as Pastor Bob with his polo shirt and jeans parading around like a non-denominational preacher. And we must be willing to say it is or we have no credibility to criticize the other side of the coin.

Really.  Oh dear.  Well I for one, like most reasonably reasonable men of the Church, am able to distinguish one problem from a worse problem.  Since personal testimonies are so welcome in the modern Lutheran Church, let me give one.  Take for example my recent criticism of what I called the Woody Woodpecker Mass.  Actually, that particular blog entry only criticized one tiny aspect of it, the aspect which led me to use the nickname Woody Woodpecker Mass.  I have much more to say about that Mass order, which I hope to do sometime soon.  Anyway, despite the many oddities in that order (Divine Service 8 and 9, or whatever they are), I will tell you, quite honestly, that it can be used with reverence and liturgical competence, and can accompany the powerful and bold preaching of the Gospel.  This is done in many places.  One example in my memory is that of my late pastor, Fr. Stephen Wiest, at University Lutheran Chapel (when there was such a thing as ULC here, before the District saw fit to hand the building over to the goofy WELS campus ministry, Point of Grace).  Fr. Wiest used that order, along with the other services in the hymnal that was in vogue at the time, Lutheran Worship.  And this, that is, insisting on using the hymnal, is precisely one of the things for which he was condemned by the bureaucracy; it was proof that he was hopelessly high church, overly liturgical, and unrelatable to students. 

The Hillert Mass is flawed, yet saying so in no way diminishes the fact that there is far worse liturgical practice happening at many Lutheran altars today.  McCain is either unable or unwilling to admit this.  By the way, his statement also implies that he has criticized that "other side of the coin."  Indeed, while he has done that to some degree, let me ask, when was the last time he did so in specific terms.  What is happening in Mequon is not a secret in a tiny hidden parish somewhere.  It is the premier Concordia university campus.

Is McCain able to criticize this particular Pastor Bob (in this case, Smith) with his polo shirt and jeans as being damaging to our fellowship? Will he name names and institutions involved?  I can hear crickets chirping, along with that oh so relevant guitar sound in the background.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Latif's Restaurant

If anyone reading this ever ends up in the San Francisco area, go to Latif's Restaurant, and then tell me if it is worthy of the name.  It's definitely on my list of sights to see if and when I ever get to the west coast.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Kids and Latin Chant

I post this video not to promote the school featured in it, nor to promote the distinctive theology of the church represented by that school, but because these kids are awesome, and the wonderful attitude they have, in terms of reverence at Mass, and chant, and Latin, is commendable. Lutheran schools could do likewise.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Mark Preus on "Praise Songs"

The Reverend Mark Preus, not only one of the slew of Preuses, but, perhaps more importantly, one of the slew of pastors at Faith Lutheran Church, in Plano, Texas, has posted a minor screed on the "praise song" and the place it merits in the Lutheran Church.  I commend it to the reader, for the so-called "praise song" is a plague on the liturgical life of the Church, and this plague is itself a symptom of a mindset which is plaguing the Church today, a mindset which harms, waters down, weakens, dulls, and in many cases redefines out of existence the genuine faith in Jesus Christ in which our dear children were catechized and inculcated. 

Let me just add a thought on this topic this morning.  (To be clear, the rant which follows in no way implies that Mark Preus is guilty of that which I condemn here.)  As implied above, I consider this "praise song" style of worship to be unfortunately named.  For the worship which the Church of all times and places renders to her dear Lord, namely, in the liturgy, is truly worthy of the name "praise," and in terms of the quality and depth of its praise it puts to shame the modern Evangelical suburban community-church excuse for worship.  Some mistakenly convince themselves that the way to counter the non-denominational coffeehouse church Terry Dittmer style of worship is to argue that praise is not the point of worship.  While the Lutherans are in bad need of new metaphors, I must say I wish they would end their habit of stumbling head first from one bad conclusion to another.  For it does a disservice to the subject to say, as some say and others imply or are close to saying, that the difference between the guitar and amplifier worship on the one hand and the liturgical tradition of the Church on the other hand, is that the point of the former is praise and the point of the latter is something else (whatever someone's pet subject may be, such as catechesis or the sacrament, or whatever).

The liturgy of the Church accomplishes all of these things and more.  Christian worship is indeed catechetical.  For as we confess in the Augsburg Confession, ceremonies teach us what we need to know of Christ.  Yet if catechesis were the sole goal of the liturgy, then we may as well fill the service with recitations of the Catechism.  The Church's worship is indeed sacramental.  For in the liturgy the Church-and therefore also each member of the Body of Christ-is blessed with the true presence of the Eternal Word, Who comes to us in His holy Mysteries, by His Word, and by His Sacrament, to impart to us the saving message of His all availing sacrifice on the cross, and to personally give us the forgiveness of our sins which He won for us, and thus also His own life and salvation.  Yet if the only aim of the liturgy were sacramental, then we would do well to omit the singing of hymns, and psalms, etc.

The Church goes wrong when she tries to define the genius of her liturgy down to this or that aspect of it.  There are some things that Christian worship is not.  It is not in any way a propitiatory sacrifice for sin.  Nor is it a celebration of human emotion.  These, by the way, are not mere straw men; they are major ways of approaching worship, which must be ruled out as essentially unchristian, and even harmful to a healthy faith life. 

The liturgy has sacramental, catechetical, and indeed, also doxological dimensions.  It also has an eschatalogical dimension, for it is an entering into the heavenly communion, though through a veil, that the Church enjoys with her Lord Christ.  These sacramental veils of which I speak, to be sure, are not mere symbols, nor do they hide God in the sense of keeping us from Him, but are, in fact, the very way by which we recognize and receive our Lord, and find our own true identity as His Body. 

These realities of the Church's worship (teaching, forgiveness, communion, praise) are all involved in the Church's liturgical celebration.  And here I would emphasize two points.  1. They are each distinct.  For serious trouble results when it is thought that these aspects of worship bleed into each other in such a way that they lose their own nature (by which confusion, for example, the Eucharist is defined as the sacrifice of man to God, rather than the other way around).  2. Nevertheless, they are meant to be united and interwoven together, into the genius which we call the liturgical life of the Church.  One aspect cannot, without serious spiritual cost, be separated out and divorced from the others.  This helps us to see, for example, that there is a doxological facet of worship, which is always present, even in the lower keys of the penitential seasons.  It helps us see, also, the great genius of the ancient practice of using a term like "eucharist" so long as it is not improperly understood.  (Some say the term "eucharist" is "unhelpful"; I say it is profoundly helpful.)

Praise is an important aspect of the business of heaven, and therefore it is an important aspect of the business of the Church.  And there is no better way to participate in such praise than by means of the reverent and informed use of God's Word.  Sit at the feet of the Psalms, for example, and Christ will teach you how to praise God, both in your personal piety and in the Church's public worship.