Sunday, April 5, 2015

Paschal Vigil Mass in the Traditional Latin Form

No LCMS Vigil Mass around here tonight (ours at Luther Memorial is tomorrow morning), so I took the opportunity to hear and experience (a good portion of) the Paschal Vigil in Latin at St. Stanislaus, a church which is under the pastoral care of priests of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.  (The Institute of Christ the King is a society within the RCC that is devoted to the traditional use in their Rite.)  The Latin Mass is hardly favored in the modern RC Church.   There is no aping after things Romanist in telling you what I loved about what I witnessed tonight.  For those things could rightly happen among more Lutherans as well.


Here are some of the things I witnessed.


Thinking I was too early, and wondering if the doors were even open yet, upon entering I saw several people already in their pews, on their knees in prayer.


I heard no talking, no chit chatting, no greetings, no laughter, no joking.  The quiet prayer and worship happening in the church before the liturgy began was deafening in its stunning confession of what the people there believe to be the purpose of that space.


I saw whole families, including the very young, enter in silence, all dressed respectfully and modestly, each one genuflecting before entering the pew.  That includes boys who looked like they were no more than about a year old.  They probably see their father do the same every Sunday at Mass, and want to imitate him, and perhaps have also been actively trained by Mom or Dad.


I saw dozens of women's heads covered, same for the little girls.


I heard the triple Lumen Christi, and the Latin Exsultet, beautifully chanted as it should be, by a deacon.


And I saw a wonderful crew of male acolytes, some quite young, very well trained, and all reverently doing their part.


I also heard some beautiful Latin.


I didn't stay very long after the exsultet, since I had to get back home to work on the Latif's Death By Chocolate Cake for tomorrow's dinner.  But, even though this was hardly my first time at a Latin Mass, I walked out so awed by the experience that I forgot to leave the little hand-held candle there.  St. Stan's (as it is routinely called in Milwaukee) is a diverse urban parish that takes pride in its church and takes its liturgical tradition seriously.  And I am grateful for the witness given by these things tonight.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

a bad resolution

Ministerial and sacramental fraud, by which I mean the public teaching of the Gospel and administration of the Sacraments on the part of those not called to do so, is a great cause for concern in today's church.  If there were only one known case of it, it would be a scandal, and would merit immediate action on the part of the greater church.  The fact is, however, that it has slithered its way into the bloodstream of modern American Missouri Synod Lutheranism. It is rampant. Everyone knows it. Opinions merely differ on the degree to which it is a bad thing, and what to do about it.

I applaud those who are striving to combat the problem.  However, not every effort to that end is worthy of the Church.  One effort I would highlight is a resolution which the Northern Illinois District of the LC-MS passed a few weeks ago.

The text of the resolution can be found here, and reads as follows:


The 58th Convention of The Northern Illinois District of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod 40 March 6-7, 2015
Resolution 2-12B To Address Licensed Lay Administration of Word and Sacrament

WHEREAS Article 14 of the Augsburg Confession says, “Our churches teach that no one should publicly teach in the church or administer the Sacraments, without a rightly orderedcall” (Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions: A Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord);” and
WHEREAS in 1989 our Synod at Wichita adopted Resolution 3-05B, regularizing under particular circumstances that the following be done by men who do not hold the Office of the Public Ministry: composing and delivering sermons, leading public worship services, and administering Holy Baptism and Holy Communion (1989 Convention Proceedings, 111- 2 113); and
WHEREAS there has been tension over this issue for the past 25 years; and
WHEREAS in 2007 the Synod established the “Specific Ministry Pastor Program” in which men are trained, examined, certified, called, and ordained in order to preach the Gospel and administer the Sacraments (Res. 5-01B, 2007 Convention Proceedings, 133 ff.); and
WHEREAS this program was designed to meet the objective, among others, of providing pastoral ministry where full-time ministry cannot be maintained and does so without conflicting  with Article 14 of the Augsburg Confession; therefore be it
RESOLVED that the Northern Illinois District respectfully request the Synod to discontinue the new licensing of laymen to preach the Gospel and administer the Sacraments (1989 Res. 3- 16 05B); and be it further
RESOLVED that those who are currently licensed be encouraged to enroll in the regular or SMP track leading to ordination; and be it further
RESOLVED that those who are currently licensed but not enrolled in the regular (i.e., residential seminary) or SMP track discontinue publically preaching the Gospel and administering the sacraments within three years of the adoption of this resolution by the Synod in convention; and be it further
RESOLVED that an extension of the above deadline for those currently licensed can be granted by the appropriate District President in extreme circumstance, and that upon consultation with and the agreement of the President of the Synod; and be it finally
RESOLVED that the Northern Illinois District in convention submit this resolution as an overture to the Synod for consideration at the 2016 convention of Synod.
The following part is good, worthy, and right:

 "RESOLVED that the Northern Illinois District respectfully request the Synod to discontinue the new licensing of laymen to preach the Gospel and administer the Sacraments (1989 Res. 3- 16 05B)"

However, it is immediately followed by this:

 "and be it further
RESOLVED that those who are currently licensed be encouraged to enroll in the regular or SMP track leading to ordination"

This second "resolved" statement would have the church approve and reward violators of our Confession by welcoming them into seminary, and eventually granting them holy ordination.

Next, we have this:

"and be it further
RESOLVED that those who are currently licensed but not enrolled in the regular (i.e., residential seminary) or SMP track discontinue publically preaching the Gospel and administering the sacraments within three years of the adoption of this resolution by the Synod in convention"

This officially permits, allows, and by implication endorses these men continuing in their improper activity for three additional years. Not merely three years from now, but three years from the resolution's adoption by the Synod convention.

Next we have this:

"and be it further
RESOLVED that an extension of the above deadline for those currently licensed can be granted by the appropriate District President in extreme circumstance, and that upon consultation with and the agreement of the President of the Synod"

This one grants a bureaucratic loophole to the above three year deadline. Are there "extreme circumstances" which make lay administration of the Eucharist acceptable?  How about lay preaching?  Do we glean that from the Augustana or the Book of Concord?

Such efforts might or might not be politically and bureaucratically wise.  This resolution, however, does not square with a church that takes seriously its Confession (eg., CA XIV), and cannot be defended on Confessional grounds. It should not have passed.