Wednesday, January 20, 2016


Lutherans ad orientem and kneeling at railing for Holy Communion:

Father Anthony Ruff, OSB at Praytell writes the following:

When I took my first theology class at St. John’s University, the professor (a Benedictine monk) stated that Martin Luther was, in a sense, a silent father at the Second Vatican Council. The statement must have made an impression on me, for I have thought about it often ever since.

At the beginning of this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, I’d like to make the case for Martin Luther, the great sixteenth-century reformer, as a father of the Second Vatican Council.
Both Luther and Vatican II saw something wrong with the church’s liturgical life and saw the need to reform it.

Both Luther and Vatican II saw liturgical reform, to a great extent, as going back to earlier times in the apostolic tradition and pruning away unfortunate accretions of later development.

Both Luther and Vatican II wanted to increase active, direct participation in the liturgy, and to that end advocated for vernacular worship. But interestingly, both preserved a place for liturgical Latin. 

Near the end of his life, Luther celebrated Mass at which the choir sang the whole Mass Ordinary (Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei) in Latin, to the surprise and disappointment of some of his followers.

 Luther thought people who didn’t appreciate Latin choral music were stupid idiots.

Jack Wayne a commenter writes the following:

 Lutherans don’t seem to be as overtly against things like ad orientem worship, communion rails, and keeping “outdated” language in their beloved traditional hymns. I’d love it if we Catholics could adopt that liturgical attitude.

I agree with Jack Wayne!


Gene said...

Luther never gave up his belief in the Real Presence or his veneration of Mary, either. Until later in his life, when he renounced his vows, he considered himself to be just a Priest who got in trouble with the Pope.

TJM said...

Well, Luther was right, they are!

Anonymous said...

It seems that Martin Luther is no longer regarded as a heretic by the Church and the reformation was a good thing if the common prayer to be said by Catholics and Lutherans is to be believed:

"Thanks be to you O God for the many guiding theological and spiritual insights that we have all received through the Reformation. Thanks be to you for the good transformations and reforms that were set in motion by the Reformation or by struggling with its challenges. Thanks be to you for the proclamation of the gospel that occurred during the Reformation and that since then has strengthened countless people to live lives of faith in Jesus Christ."

This is just further evidence of "the Church" coming apart at the seams, or at least the liberal pus oozing from the canker that that the liberals represent. If they think traditional Catholics will accept this they can stick it up their Martin Luther t-shirts. Deo gratias for the heroism of the martyrs and saints of the revolution.

Ana Milan said...

The One Holy Catholic & Apostolic Church does not belong to anyone but our Founder, Jesus Christ, and is not therefore up for grabs as to what Luther or the participants at Vatican II saw as a problem with the CCs liturgical life that needed reforming. They had no authority to change what Jesus had instituted - the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (now viewed as a token gesture towards the Last Supper but without the belief that recipients are actually receiving Christ Himself in the consecrated host), the loss of the Sacraments of Confirmation, Last Rites & to a large extent Confession. Holy Matrimony is no longer promulgated and the baptismal font is rarely used as most cohabitants don't bother having their children baptised. The CC wilfully withheld catechesis since Vatican II for the promotion of false ecumenism (those who left must make their return journey via repentance) so the grandparents & parents of to-day have no idea of what it means to be Catholic. If Atheists/Pagans can get to Heaven by good deeds then it must follow that Christians can also, so no need to catechise or evangelise nor indeed are the CC or any other Christian denomination now relevant. They have made themselves unnecessary & are now viewed as defunct. Martin Luther was the instigator of this downward spiral and the mind boggles as to how anyone can support his rebellion - it has to be Satanic and, as such, will have to be finished off by Divine intervention which we prayerfully continue to await.

Rood Screen said...

It's no good holding on to various theological and liturgical elements if you break communion with the community Christ established. After all, while Saint Peter was wrong about circumcision, he was still pope. I'll take a confusing pope over a clear Lutheran president, or tasteful Anglican primate, any day.

Gene said...

Indeed, Lutheranism is antithetical to Catholicism in many ways. It would be tough to reconcile them theologically.

Anonymous said...

Both Luther and Vatican II are proven failures.

Their record speaks for themselves.

Anonymous said...

"They had no authority to change what Jesus had instituted."


So I guess our clergy should not wear clerical collars anymore---after all, I doubt any of the disciples were wearing those at the Last Supper. They probably were not wearing an alb, stole or chasuble either. They certainly weren't observing the Last Supper ad orientum, either. And certainly they were not speaking Latin at the Last Supper---so I guess we'd have to get used to Aramaic in our worship. Of course there was no Creed at the Last Supper (the Nicene Creed came hundreds of years later), so guess we'll have to drop that too.

Rood Screen said...


None of the things you mention seem to contradict what Jesus instituted. Do you think He instituted vernacular liturgy, some other kind of attire, and a ban on recitation of a creed?

When you say, "they certainly weren't observing the Last Supper ad orientum", what makes you certain of that? Scholars (including Pope Emeritus Benedict) seem to disagree with you, which should at least make your claim a "speculation", rather than a "certainty".

George said...

Luther rejected all but two of the Catholic sacraments, his concept and theology of the remaining five being different from what the Church teaches. He considered the other sacraments to be "rites" - reminders of God's mercy and goodness but which conferred no spiritual effect on those receiving them. From what I've read, he rejected the idea of grace and its necessity for salvation.

It was providential that the Church retained the seven books of the Bible which Luther rejected, since with the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls it was found that some of these books did indeed have Hebrew versions.

Gene said...

George, where on earth did you get the idea that Luther rejected the idea of grace? Luther was known primarily for his emphasis on God's grace and that salvation was a gift of God's grace. What have you been reading? Please, I know you don't care for protestantism, but get it right, at least.

Anonymous said...

Gene, there are several books dealing with the subject that Luther rejected transubstantiation and the theology of infused grace, which is what the Catholic Church teaches. I don't know much about Luther but there is an interesting article that talks about, among other things, Luther's thesis on absolute determination of which St Thomas More stated that it was:



So why is he being honoured by the Vatican?

Gene said...

I have often said that Calvin is far better for Catholic/protestant dialogue. Calvin is the Aquinas of protestantism..coming 25 years or so after Luther, raised Catholic, cut his teeth on Augustine and Aquinas. Calvin, a systematic and analytical thinker, developed doctrine and gave protestantism its dogmatics. One can take Calvin's Institutes and find there, systematically presented and argued, the primary tenets of the Christian Faith and the differences, at times more subtle than not, between Catholicism and protestantism. Calvin was, indeed, strident at times, but his thinking is clear and the issues are easily sorted out for dialogue. Although the theological differences in some cases seem insurmountable, this kind of dialogue is, in my opinion, the best kind of ecumenical discussion. It enables informed protestants to consider the Catholic Church and examine the different interpretations of Biblical theology and whether they are truly barriers to becoming Catholic. I found that they were not and, after much consideration, came to believe that the Catholic understanding is, indeed, the truer interpretation of Scripture. There are still problems for me, but not enough to keep me from confessing all that the Church believes and teaches.

Luther is all over the place...not a systematic thinker and more of a polemicist, his theology is never completely fleshed out, except for his "justification by Faith" and his Augustinian Christology. Luther, unfortunately and probably unknowingly, contributed to the humanism of the Renaissance with his over emphasis upon the love and humanity of Christ. As one of my professor's said, "For Luther, God's sovereignty is shown in love; for Calvin, God's love is shown in sovereignty." These are two recurring themes in Christian thought through the ages. I'll take Calvin.

Anonymous said...

Gene, "Catholic understanding is the truer interpretation of Scripture"? Hmm? The Church possesses the entire truth through the Holy Spirit, not an understanding. It is time you left Luther and Calvin behind and embraced the Church as the only truth there is - don't look backwards only forwards. You know what happened to Lot's wife!

Rood Screen said...

It's funny when Jan accuses Gene of not being Catholic enough!

Rood Screen said...


Gene is clearly not a Lutheran. The heresies of Protestantism endanger souls and even infect the Catholic Church, and so we must look for fruitful means of leading Protestants back into full communion with the Church. It seems more effective to begin by acknowledging how close they are to us than to begin with how far they are from us. Once we have common ground--the more the better--we can develop theology-based friendships that lead to full communion.

Gene said...

Jan, I almost always agree with and enjoy your posts, so let me clarify. "Faith seeks understanding." I have been a student of theology and Scripture for most of my life and theology, which encompasses both Catholic and protestant thought, is an ongoing process of understanding the gift of Faith given to both Catholic and protestant believers. Yes, the Church possesses the entire truth through the Holy Spirit, but it took her centuries to achieve her understanding of Revelation and incorporate it into doctrine and dogma. The Reformation/Counter-Reformation did, indeed, influence her thinking and understanding. I believe the Church today can learn from Calvin, particularly, because he provides some real clarification as to what we all have in common doctrinally and what we do not. In an age where secular humanism and modernism threaten the Church and the Faith generally, his views on the dangers of human initiative and our capacity for knowing God and His will are particularly instructive. Anyway, call me a Jansenist but never a Lutheran!!!

George said...

Right. Sorry about that. Luther rejected the Catholic church's teaching on grace
and its operation,not grace itself. Some of what Lutherans and other Protestants believe corresponds to Catholic teaching. Protestants are not wrong on everything. There is Protestantism on my father's side of the family so I don't take a judgmental attitude toward them. I have known Protestants who have done a lot of good for others. Most Protestants I know I get along fine with, and the same as well with the ones I have known in the past.

Anonymous said...

No, Gene, I wasn't calling you a Lutheran. I meant entirely what I said that the Church has the entirety of the truth and so there is nothing in Protestantism that can assist us, and in fact Calvin and Luther have led many astray. The Church grows in relation to how God reveals His plan. If it has taken centuries it is because He wills it so. In a nutshell, there are the writings of plenty of Catholic saints to read without wasting time reading those who got it wrong. A Catholic can simply not admire a heretic. I don't mean that in a derogatory way to those who have converted from Protestantism. I just mean that as a simple plain truth. God has obviously given you a great grace. He has singled you out from the multitudes. Go forwards and grow in knowledge of the Church and Her saints. Don't look back because when you admire Calvin and others of his ilk it seem to me that is what you are doing.

Anonymous said...

George, we have all got relatives who were or are Protestant, and yes they are good people but the only way the Church will truly convert people is by being a beacon of light to the world and standing firm especially on moral issues. This idea of ecumenism and finding common ground will never work. It is only leading to the assimilation of Protestant ideas into the Church. The Mass and the sacraments are the only true way, which Protestantism rejects. How many Protestants would recommend their faithful reading St John of the Cross for example? They simply wouldn't because their faithful just might get interested in Catholicism, and so the reverse if Catholics read heretical Protestant works we too are likely to imbibe of the same cup.. There is simply nothing we can learn from Protestantism, whether we have relatives, friends or not. That is the simple truth that all Catholics were taught before the waters were muddied, and there were an enormous amount of conversions, through grace and holding to the truth in those times. The more buddy buddy we become the fewer conversions. In fact the reverse is true. No, we shouldn't be patronising but we have to be fearless in stating the truth despite relatives, friends and so on.

Anonymous said...

So, Jan, I guess Pope John 23rd was wrong to begin ecumenical dialogue with the Protestants and Eastern Orthodox?

And there is simply nothing we can learn from Protestantism? Really? Like preaching? More formal worship?

George said...

I relate to and get along with Protestants and others of a different faith as fellow human beings. Even though there is the doctrinal mantra about "faith"
and "not works", I have known many of other faiths who have done, and continue to do a lot of good for others. There is nothing in what little I know and have read about other denominations that has lead me or inclined me to leave, or consider leaving, what I believe to be the One,True Church.
When someone claims that a person is saved by faith and the Blood of Christ "covering their sins", and that contrition, confession, and and absolution are not necessary, then that is something as a Catholic that just cannot accept. Another of course is, "once save always saved". These are things which had their birth in Luther's theology. From this one can can get an interpretation (as one person's take I read on this ) that effectively this is saying grace is not necessary for salvation, since it could be argued that faith is a gift and has nothing to do with grace. Of course,that would be an extreme view,and Protestants do acknowledge grace and its operation; just with a different understanding that we do. It is possible
of course, that some Protestants do experience contrition- even perfect contrition in some cases. It also is true and to be acknowledged that you can't pin down all Protestants to one set of doctrines or beliefs, even within the same denomination. I will say that there are those among them who do well with what they have. To me, what grace they do acquire and receive comes in some mysterious way through the co-operation of the members of the Body of Christ in praying and pleading to God for them, in our liturgies and devotions, and with the aid of the Guardian Angels and the Saints in Heaven. Only God and His grace can convert others, although we, through His grace, can co-operate in His plan of salvation.

John Nolan said...

When an Anglican reads (and many do) the 'Imitation of Christ', he does not skip the passages on the Eucharist because they are obviously Catholic; he is likely to gain a deeper knowledge and appreciation of the Eucharist. Unlike Gene, I have never been a student of theology, but from an historical perspective I would agree that Calvin was a more profound thinker. Luther's theology seems to have been determined by his opponents, in the sense that he reacted to criticism by adopting ever more extreme positions.

I'm not sure what Anonymous @ 11:43 is on about. Preaching is not a Protestant innovation by any stretch of the imagination and Protestants in general reacted against what they saw as the excessive formality of Catholic liturgical worship.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said "I guess Pope John 23rd was wrong to begin ecumenical dialogue with the Protestants and Eastern Orthodox?" Looking at what John 23rd did - how has it helped Protestants and the Eastern Orthodox embrace the Faith? Obviously for it to be right there should be an uptick in conversions? That is the test. By now after some 50 years some good fruits will have come from it? Perhaps you can do a bit of research and let us know what positive aspects have come out of this dialogue with Protestants and the Eastern Orthodox.

Anonymous said...

George, Nothing that you mention was forbidden before the Council but reading Protestant material and attending their services was certainly discouraged for good and valid reasons. The fact that the reverse is happening now and people are reading Protestant material and attending their services and receiving their communion has only contributed to the watering down and the loss of people to the Faith. The many well known English converts - can you really imagine they would convert to Catholicism in this type of climate? I think the test is that before the Council there were many conversions - since the Council the reverse is true.