Thursday, November 23, 2006

LSB Calendar

I am beginning to understand the sentiment of the author quoted in my first post where it was suggested that "Lutheranism has no actual lex orandi (all in the name of "liberty," of course)."

Many have sung the praises of the newly released Lutheran Service Book. Others have been less kind in their comments. I have followed the development of the LSB; but I have not yet formed a definitive opinion of it.

Traditionalist that I am, the first thing that I look at is the calendar. There is nothing unexpected in the LSB as far as the Sundays and Seasons are concerned, unless you want to quibble about Sundays of or after Easter. I am more interested in the Feasts, Festivals and Commemorations listed in the calendar.

The LSB enumerates 35 Feasts and Festivals; the titles, in several cases, having been modified from their traditional forms:

March 19, "St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary," is now captioned "Joseph, Guardian of Jesus." Was Joseph, as the spouse of the BVM, not de facto the guardian of Our Lord?

The Visitation, historically (and in the 1 year Lectionary) falls on July 2. The 3 year Lectionary moves it to May 31. Why should the version of the Lectionary take precedence over the traditional date of this feast?

August 29 has traditionally been titled "The Beheading of John the Baptist." Have we become so squeamish that "Martyrdom" must be used to sanitize "Beheading"?

October 23, "St. James of Jerusalem, Brother of Jesus and Martyr," is assigned an individual commemoration in addition to being traditionally paired with St. Philip on May 1. Why?

When LSB lists Commemorations; I have even more questions.

Historically, the Western (Latin) Rite commemorates saints of the Old Testament only by exception; and then, usually only in particular calendars of religious orders. The primary exception to this rule is the commemoration in the universal calendar of the Holy Machabees, Martyrs, on August 1.

Understanding that it is beneficial to remember the saints, the LSB presents a mixed message. In the listing of Feasts and Festivals, the saints celebrated are accorded the title of "St." before their names. This honorific is omitted in the listing of Commemorations of those whom the Church has always recognized as saints. Then, too, the LSB does not place 19 commemorations on their traditional dates; and in three cases combines several saints, each of whom have their own assigned date in the historic calendar, into one unified commemoration.

With the exception of Fr. Martin Luther, fittingly commemorated on February 18; it would seem more appropriate to commemorate all of the Reformation fathers collectively on the Festival of the Reformation.

But what I find to the most curious is the inclusion of Emperors (Christian Rulers), Artists, Kantors, Father Confessors, Ecumenical Councils, latter day Pastors, Faithful Women and others not commonly commemorated. With "so great a cloud of witnesses," why is there a need to improve upon the wisdom of the past?

Monday, November 06, 2006

A Clarification

In my introductory post, I expressed my disagreement with the excerpt I quoted from "Optional Orandi." I neglected, however, to clarify the nature of my disagreement.

"Lutheranism has a lex credendi (rule of faith) (Book of Concord) but no lex orandi (rule of prayer)."

There is no disagreement here; because we do not have a pan-Lutheran document such as the Book of Common Prayer or the Roman Missal to codify our rite. The AC XXIV clearly states that we (Lutherans) have retained the Mass and nearly all the usual ceremonies.

The primary cause of my disagreement lies in the following:

Anonymous [the first] suggests that Lutheranism has no defined lex orandi, because there is no definitive Liturgy. Anonymous [the second] states that Lutheranism fails to dogmatically define its rule of worship in the way of a received "holy tradition."

A reader of the introductory post reminded me that "While we do have Article XXIV, we do not have a more clearly defined rule of worship. This is not to blame the Confessions, however, as there was no real controversy as to this question in its day. AC XXIV would seem to prescribe the need for more definition in our day."

I fully agree with this understanding; but the lack of a dogmatically defined rule does not indicate that Lutheranism lacks a Liturgy " the way of a received 'holy tradition'."

I am not familiar with many non-American Lutheran service books; but the evidence from American service books would contradict this opinion. In all cases, the Mass/Holy Communion liturgy follows pattern of the historic Western Rite. The Sunday propers, except for a few minor adjustments, are the same as those of the Roman Rite.

Then there are those who fault Lutheranism for not including (or rejecting) a Eucharistic Prayer. In this context Eucharistic Prayer and Roman Canon are usually synonymous. If one contends that "received holy tradition" is something that has been handed down from apostolic times, the Eucharistic Prayer does not fall under this heading. The Roman Canon originated in the fourth century, and has remained basically unchanged since the eighth century. Thus it does not seem to be apostolic in origin.

It could possibly be argued that a Eucharistic Prayer should be viewed as ceremonial in nature. The Confessions state that "Nearly all the usual ceremonies are also preserved,..." Ceremonies are not required; but "ceremonies are needed to this end alone that the unlearned be taught [what they need to know of Christ]."

When the remarks of the Anonymous member of the Commission on Worship, LCMS, are added to the those above; the view that "AC XXIV would seem to prescribe the need for more definition in our day" is a remarkable understatement.