Thursday, July 10, 2014
I noted upon perusing the indefatigable Fr. Watson's eponymous blog site (not the ever-glorious Megalunei ; the other one) that the writer is an enthusiastic fan of the wit and wisdom of Gilbert Keith Chesterton, who upon passing and resting up for the Great Return, is now an honest-to-God Lutheran. To clarify: I'm talking about the pundit Chesterton here.
Fr. Watson is certainly alive and breathing oxygen, as well as being an honest-to-God Lutheran (thus a Christian catholic, as Mr. Chesterton is and was).
I'll say this. Chesterton's body returning to dust, presently, makes it loads easier to grab precious stuff from him without registered complaint. Especially if the stuff can be modified somewhat.
Suppose instead of talking about fairy tales and dragons, we speak of Scripture and serpent (the latter of course being very much a dragon, in the vision of blessed Seer St. John). So consider this confession:
The Scriptures of God are more than true. Not because they tell us that a talking serpent has existed , but because they tell us that the head of a talking serpent can and has been crushed.
Your (unworthy) servant,
Posted by Michael L. Anderson, M.D., Ph.D at 1:33 PM
Within certain circles, it is customary for the lector of the day to make free commentary during the time set aside for the Old Testament, Epistle and New Testament lessons. Curiously, among the Lutherans, anyway, no attempt is made to explain the unfathomable wisdom of each anthem sung by the congregation ... along the lines of, for example, "Lissen up, folks. We're in for a real treat. So you, Grandma Schmitt, stop snoring. And Anderson, stop with the sobbing. It isn't time yet. Dumb Swede. Anyhoo, here the pietist composer of "Were You There, When They Crucified My Lord" sincerely if shamelessly attempts to wring your heart of all of its tears, like a turnip spits blood. If you aren't moved and lifted up as I'll be, at least to the third heaven like a real Christian, then perhaps your wallet is too heavy and we will seek to relieve you of that problem shortly, by means of the collection plate. Ask yourselves, as you warble: Were you there, Grandma? Did you throw dice with the best of 'em? And do I hear a 'Holly-wood-yah' from the pews, brothers and sisters?"
Obviously, something is going on here of interest, but we'll leave our interpretation of the absence of "hymn-talk" for another time.
The custom of making like Lenski at the Lessons, however, calls to mind Cornell professor William Bishop's brilliantly satirical light-verse treatment of Shelley's Ozymandias , which poem speaks directly to this age of coarseness, self-promotion, and its lost sense of mystery and indeed, of holy Presence. Bishop's piece quotes Shelley verbatim for a time, lulling us a bit, but then he artfully spills the apple-cart with a mischievous flourish:
...And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings.
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Also the names of Emory P. Gray, Mr. and Mrs. Dukes, and Oscar Baer
Of 17 West Fourth St., Oyster Bay.
Despair? I despair, all right. See, it's very difficult for me to imagine Aquila (or God help us, Priscilla), giving a running explanation of the letter of the Corinthians, in the course of its very first liturgical reading to that church: "This is what I think the tent-maker really means, 'cause frankly I don't think you, the assembled groundlings here, will get it. Maybe it's the warmth from the agape gyros, escaping from your tummy to your brain, I don't know.
So you need some help.
In this instance, you need help from me ... also a tent-maker. To be sure, we sought to have that fisherman Peter provide the intro on this momentous occasion; but the prince of the Apostles says he's passing, because he finds Br. Paul to be a real head-scratcher every now and then."
To my sensibilities, that which passes for "explanation" during the Lessons invariably detracts from, and intrudes upon our precious Word's private meditative time with His lambs. Frankly, it constitutes graffiti of a sorts, a "Look at me and my wisdom" insistence which borders on stealing from that time. The helplessly fallen and broken Ozymandias would surely understand. According to Mr. Bishop, that guy understands graffiti to a fault.
But I digress.
Liturgists at the lectern: Let the precious Word do its own thing, please. Patience, sirs. Your chance will come. Save the insights for the homily, at which time the Lord will surely open your lips with His Spirit, and through these means make haste to help us.
Speaking both for Ozymandias and me, we do thank you liturgists in advance, for considering our suggestion.
Pardon me, sir. What's that? Great Scot. I didn't notice, your eminence, sir. Sorry. Psst ... Ozzie, Ozzie, can ALL of you stand up when you're speaking to the bishop?
Posted by Michael L. Anderson, M.D., Ph.D at 1:22 PM
"The Lord bless you and keep you ..."
Indeed, the Father Creator, through His beloved Word, keeps and sustains us in body, heart and mind. In His wisdom and loving mercy, He bids the material sun to gift both the powerful wicked and the meek good alike; He sends His rains, without distinction as to station or disposition. All things will acknowledge this; some with trembling joy, some with great trembling fear, on a set day to come.
All praise to the LORD, the Father!
"The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious unto you..."
Indeed, the dear Lord Jesus is the Risen God-man and the Face of the Father. The Father can only be known by and through His chosen and revealed Face. We humans were once fashioned in God's image; but the true Image of God is Christ Himself. Thank God that His Face has broken into our sin-stained history to redeem us. He has been gracious unto us through a most astounding means ... an executioner's cross, which sadly enough is perceived as foolishness and a stumbling block to many of Adam's children. But this astounding means is the power of God unto salvation, as our Lord will eternally remind us by the sacred wounds which are stamped on His flesh (as St. Thomas the Apostle well knows, by the way). We are reconciled to God with those wounds; and so the Lord's Face shines on us. That is a Hebraic code, one which promises that the Lord Jesus smiles on us with Divine pleasure, as we go about our earthly ventures in this life. What a joyous thought that is! We who are reborn in God's Name and living water can live with vibrant confidence afforded by God's love, resembling of a mom beaming at her little one's trusting grasp, or at her baby's contentedly nourished lips.
All praise to the LORD, the Son!
"The Lord lift up His countenance upon you ..."
Indeed, the Lord Holy Ghost lifts up and steadily points to the Face of God, God's countenance. Now, we cannot by our own paltry reason or strength, come to our Savior's Face to honor Him. No. We would run away; or rather, truth be told, we rascals would all be naturally inclined to come all too close and give the suffering and smitten Man of Sorrows a few more floggings, along with those of Herod's thuggish captains and Pilate's mobbish legionaries ... if given opportunity. But see here, the Holy Ghost's wishes will not be thwarted, ever, in His relentless and divinely reckless pursuit of God's elect. For He calls us by the Gospel means, enlightens and opens our blind eyes through such, and then -- lo and behold -- He elevates and SANCTIFIES us unworthies. This Comforter and Counselor is a lifter of unsurpassed ability.
All praise to the LORD, the Paraclete!
"... and give you Peace."
Indeed, the Peace which transcends all human understanding; that is to say, the Tri-unity's Peace. A saving Peace, a Peace once upon a time suspended from a tree. Not a peace afforded by the world's mammon (which will eventually only tarnish or be stolen; or be devalued, or be lost under the sofa), or by the world's truces (all very temporary, in the grand scheme of things ... which is why we humans are prophetically given to labeling our big wars with numerals, items which only increase as history marches on), and by the world's quick pleasures (many of which are invariably escorted by gloomy Death in some form or another; be it STD's, or motorcar crashes, or by an unhealthy body-mass index). True Peace carries no threat of Death or base disfigurement, to others. Instead, True Peace carried a thing of certain death, a cross, and purposively turned such dismal thing into a something of divine beauty and triumph. True Peace died on a cross to crush Satan's head and kill Satan's minions of sin and Death; so that we might live together with True Peace, for an eternity ... to verily see and adore His Face, as we banquet in gusto with Him.
All praise to the LORD, the Trinity!
Posted by Michael L. Anderson, M.D., Ph.D at 12:52 PM
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
per #7 of our Rule (see sidebar) I plan to preach this homily at tonights 7pm Mass in Shawnee, KS (Augsburg Lutheran Church). We seek to restore the Marian feasts for the BVM always lifts up to us Her Precious Son!
“BLESSED IS THE FRUIT”
Saint Luke 1. 39-56
THE VISITATION: 2 July Anno + Domini 2014
Fr Jay Watson SSP
In The Name + of Jesus
Blessed is The Fruit!
Do you believe that you are filled with the Holy Ghost? You should. You have been + Baptized. You spoke the Creed with its Christ centered 2nd Article. “No one can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost” [1 Cor. 12.3]
You daily read Holy Scripture so you know that The Spirit fell upon Samson and Elijah. You believe that King David, son of Jesse, spoke of the Trinity and The Son because you believe Jesus’ words “how then doth David in the Spirit call Him Lord.” [Mt. 22.43] The Holy Ghost filled Simeon, Peter, Paul, Stephen, and many others in the Book of Acts. You confess that Gabriel’s Annunciation is true “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee.” [Lk. 1.35] But now we are entering dicey territory for stubborn Lutherans. Now we are approaching the Blessed Virgin Mary—the “third rail” in the protestant mind-set. But Scripture is The Word reduced to paper. Scripture is The Blessed Fruit bled out onto pages of Grace.
God The Third Person who even spoke by the enemy Caiaphas, speaks tonight to all of you by a pastor who, like all the ones in Acts and the Epistles who had the Spirit fall upon them in the “laying on of hands,” also by Holy Ordination speaks by the command and in the stead of The Blessed Fruit.
But my words are the Holy Words of The Word. I speak this day of the Holy Ghost falling upon blessed Saint Elisabeth.
The Virgin went into the hill country into a city of Juda. Now, the Virgin, as the “type” of the New Testament Church itself, is here in this hill country where we see not Calvary outside the royal gates but the High Altar of Christ, within our very midst!
Saint Mary as our “mother” in the faith, both the New Testament Sarah and the recapitulation of disgraced Eve—restored—salutes all of us as she did her kinswoman with a Gospel greeting. For Mary always says “listen to Him,” and “whatsoever He saith unto you, do it.”[Jn 2.5]
Her “Magnificat” is the purest Evangel there can be for it is all about the Work and Person of Her Son: The Blessed Fruit!
We need constantly, daily, to repent of our envy and greed. There is no reason to deny the Lords love and honoring other Saints. We worship a hierarchical LORD, a monarchical Trinity and not the “rights of man” from Rousseau or Jefferson. Christ bestows crowns upon all of us but the crowns of the “12” shine with unique specialness; [Ap. Art VI p. 152, Jacobs] “what is that to you” [Jn. 21.23b] says Jesus.
Peter, James, and John were the Savior’s “inner-circle.” Moses was Moses. Abraham is called Father. David was the “apple of God’s eye;” His “anointed.” And dear sweet Mary—she is who God the Holy Ghost says she is by the mouth of Saint Elisabeth: “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.” Do you hear the way that Divine sentence is constructed by the Paraclete? The lesser leads to the greater and the set-up to the conclusion. It’s all about Jesus: The Blessed Fruit!
Some four thousand years of prophetic history (His Story) is coming to fruition in This Fruit we see celebrated in Mary’s Visitation: “and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heal.” [Gen. 3.15] As the young Virgin approaches her elderly relative a miracle takes place: “there shall come forth A Rod out of the stem of Jesse, and A Branch shall grow out of his roots.” As almond branches grew miraculously out of Aaron’s dry and dead staff [Nu. 17.8], a baby boy named John would grow out of a dead and menopausal womb. But THE FRUIT would spring forth from a Virgin. Esaias is vindicated and Eve’s man-child, her seed, comes to Redeem. “Behold, A Branch is growing of loveliest form and grace, as prophets sung, foreknowing; It springs from Jesse’s race, and bears one little Flow’r,” and “Isaiah hath foretold It in words of promise sure, and Mary’s arms enfold It, a Virgin meek and pure.” [TLH 645]
Mary’s Megalunei (magnify/Magnificat) is the Gospel of The Gospel enfleshed in her belly. This God/Man in-utero causes the in-utero Baptizer to leap for joy. Do you, equally weak and sinful do any less? At the Presence of Christ all believers are bathed in the juice, the ointment of THE FRUIT: “then shall the lame man leap as an hart.” [Is. 35.6]
How meet, right, and salutary that the one son, he who “among them born of women there hath not risen a greater” [Mt. 11.11] would one day salute The Son of the Most High with Ecce Agnus Dei, would at The Visitation have his mother salute The Virgin penultimately and Her Son begotten of The Father from Eternity with “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is The Fruit of thy womb.”
Blessed is The Fruit! Mary is blessed because, in, with and under, The Fruit blesses; so too are Elisabeth, Zacharias, John, Joseph and all of you blessed. Blessed are all that the Holy Ghost has fallen + upon and created faith in. For “blessed is she (Mary, The Church, you) that believed; for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.” The performance is not yours but The Fruits. “Thy works, not mine, O Christ.” [TLH 380]. What performance from the “mother of my Lord?” None. Mary’s faith is but a picture of your faith. It is from “My Lord.” What performance? Listen to the Virgin, for her song is from the Spirit and it is the Evangel:
He has regarded your low estate as sinner, trespasser, enemy, and damned traitor. He cares!
You are not just called blessed but you are made + Blessed In Him.
With His bruised and pierced and bloody arms He has showed strength in vanquishing all your foes by being weak and passive on Calvary’s tree. He scatters your prideful sins by soaking them up into His Flesh.
He puts down the mighty of the hypocrites, the boastful and the gossiping tongue. He exalts them standing at the foot of the Crucifix with Mary and John—you the low degree in contrite repentance.
He sends away the “rich men” of this worlds mammon but He stays always, ever present, to feed your bodies with daily bread and your souls with Heavenly Word and with Gods own Body and Blood.
He always remembers you the New Israel, children of God, by being not just your God but your Savior-Brother.
He spoke to Abraham and to his seed forever, yes. “God, Who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the Prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son.” [Heb. 1.1]
Mary abode with Elisabeth about three months. The God/Man abode three days in death to bring you eternal life.
The Visitation was not just then, it is NOW and forever. Christ visits you for He is The Blessed Fruit and He desires you to taste Him and see that He is good! He Who dwelled in the womb of His Virgin Mother now dwells in Holy water, writ, and Eucharist. The performance of “these things:” “I baptize you; I forgive you all your sins; take eat and take drink the Body and Blood of Christ given and shed for you” are all for you.
Come and join Saint Mary for tonight’s special Visitation and be magnified in, with, and under The Blessed Fruit.
In The Name of The Father and of The + Son and of The Holy Ghost