Monday, September 10, 2007

Roundtable 25: The Mass

"Our churches are falsely accused of abolishing the Mass. The Mass is held among us and celebrated with the highest reverence. Nearly all the usual ceremonies are also preserved..."

So begins Article XXIV. Here's a rather unbiased observer's notes on what the Lutherans were up to back then. Musculous, the south German, writes:

Eisenach, May 14, 1536, Cantate Sunday: the so-called "Office of Mass" was held at 7:00. First the Introit "Cantate Domino" was sung in Latin by the teacher and school children, in the papistic fashion by the choir alone. Then the Kyrie, in which the organ played in alternation. Then a liturgist, dressed in papistic fashion, intoned at a papistically decorated altar the Gloria in Latin, which was continued by the choir and organist in alternation. Then the liturgist sang a so-called "Collect" in German with his face to the altar and his back to the people. Then he turned to the people and read a lesson in German from the letter of James. Then the organ was played again, and the choir intoned "Victimae Paschali" within which the congregation sang "Christ is Arisen." Then the liturgist sang the Gospel facing the people. Then the organ was played, upon which the congregation intoned "We all believe..." Then Justas Menius preached in street clothes. Then the Liturgist said a prayer. Then a brief admonition to communicants, then he sang the Words of Institution: first the bread, during which he elevated the host in papistic fashion while the people knelt, then the cup, which he likewise elevated after he had spoken the words. Then the organ was played and the Agnus Dei was sung in alternation by the choir. During this the Priest distributed the cup in street clothes. No men communed, and only a few women. After them the Liturgist communicated himself. First the bread was venerated, but not the cup, after which he carefully finished drinking and cleaned with newly poured wine so that no blood remained. After the Supper he sang a prayer facing the altar, then he sang a blessing facing the people. Then while the people exited the choir sang "Grant Peace, We Pray" in German. [Wolfgang Herbst, Evangelischer Gottesdienst: Quelle zu seiner Geschichte, Göttingen: Vanderhoeck & Ruprecht, 1992), pp. 104, 105.]

You can see why the AC was indignant that we had NOT abolished the mass! The south German Musculus was not impressed - thought the Lutherans looked entirely too "papistic." Sadly, he was neither the first nor the last to think so.

What is absent was the offertory and Canon of the ancient Roman Rite with their frequent stress on sacrifice. In the Lutheran Divine Service the accent shifted decidedly from sacrifice, with its from-us-to-God emphasis, to sacrament, with its from God-to-us emphasis. Rather than our offering to Him, it is His offering to us. After all, think of the very words that institute the Eucharist: "Take and EAT; Take and DRINK." Never "Take and Offer." Thus the Words of Institution were left standing alone to stress the gift nature of what the Mass was all about in the overwhelming majority of 16th century Lutheran liturgies (Sweden's being a marked exception, but still inside of its eucharistia accenting squarely the sacrament as gift from God to us).

What the Lutherans DID abolish - and were not about to apologize for getting rid of - was the SALE of masses, the private mass (where the priest alone communed), and the notion that the Mass was instituted to be a propitiatory sacrifice for actual sins (while Christ's atoning death on the cross covered original sins). Additionally, they especially abominated the idea that the priest performing the mass could apply that mass to the sins of the living or the dead to their benefit merely by performing the outward act!

Rather, the Lutheran Confessors stress the true use of the Sacrament. It is the impartation to us of Christ's once-for-all-time-upon-the-cross sacrifice as the sign and seal of that sacrifice availing for us. "Therefore the Mass was instituted so that those who use the Sacrament should remember, in faith, the benefits they receive through Christ and how their anxious consciences are cheered and comforted. To remember Christ is to remember His benefits." The person, anxious and troubled about their sin, is thus given unspeakable comfort in the gift of the Body and Blood that achieved sin's forgiveness and death's destruction, given specifically "for you, for forgiveness."

Since the Mass is established to give out this joyous comfort, the Lutherans freely confess:

"We have Communion every holy day, and if anyone desires the Sacrament, we also offer it on other days, when it is given to all who ask for it."

A century after the Reformation, in Magdeburg, the Sacrament was still being regularly celebrated and offered on each Lord's Day, each Tuesday, and each Thursday.

About the ceremonies, the Lutherans have little to quibble with: "We keep the public ceremonies, which are for the most part similar to those previously in use. Only the number of Masses differs." And that because the Lutherans allow for no private mass at all.

In sum: according to the Augsburg Confession, the Mass is diligently kept and reverently celebrated in the Lutheran parishes, and it is restored to the use for which it was instituted: bringing the comfort and joy of forgiveness to poor sinners.

One final note. Someone once said: "Yes, but that was descriptive, not prescriptive." Another friend, who is quite the Wag, agreed: "Yes, it is descriptive of what a LUTHERAN is; you are quite right." In the spirit of that comment, I close with words from the sainted C. F. W. Walther on the matter of ceremonies:

In an essay delivered to a district convention, Walther said:

“We refuse to be guided by those who are offended by our church customs. We adhere to them all the more firmly when someone wants to cause us to have a guilty conscience on account of them…. It is truly distressing that many of our fellow Christians find the difference between Lutheranism and Papism in outward things. It is a pity and a dreadful cowardice when one sacrifices the good ancient church customs to please the deluded American sects, lest they accuse us of being papistic (i.e., too catholic!). Indeed! Am I to be afraid of a Methodist, who perverts the saving Word, or be ashamed in the matter of my good cause, and not rather rejoice that the sects can tell by our ceremonies that I do not belong to them?”

We are not insisting that there be uniformity of perception or feeling or of taste among all believing Christians – neither dare anyone demand that all be minded as he is. Nevertheless it remains true that the Lutheran liturgy distinguishes Lutheran worship from the worship of other churches to such an extend that the houses of worship of the latter look like lecture halls in which the hearers are addressed or instructed (NOTE: if he were writing today, he’d no doubt add: they look like movie theatres in which the hearers are entertained!), while our churches are in truth houses of prayer in which Christians serve the great God publicly before the world. (Essays for the Church, Volume 1, p. 194 (St. Louis, CPH, 1992).

P.S. The Augsburg Confession and Apology use the word "Mass" in a neutral way to refer to the liturgy of the Divine Service observed in its traditional manner. The Smalcald Articles speak quite polemically against the "Mass" but intend especially the Mass as practiced under the Pope as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the living and the dead in which the Church joins Christ in making His sacrifice.

13 comments:

Paul T. McCain said...

Here is the Roman response to this article, from the Confutation of the Augsburg Confession:

Whatever in this article is stated concerning the most holy office of the mass that agrees
with the Holy Roman and Apostolic Church is approved, but whatever is added that is contrary
to the observance of the general and universal orthodox Church is rejected, because it
grievously offends God, injures Christian unity, and occasions dissensions, tumults and
seditions in the Holy Roman Empire. Now, as to these things which they state in the article:
First, it is displeasing that, in opposition to the usage of the entire Roman Church, they
perform ecclesiastical rites not in the Roman but in the German language, and this they
pretend that they do upon the authority of St. Paul, who taught that in the Church a
language should be used which is understood by the people, 1 Cor. 14:19. But if this were
the meaning of the words of St. Paul, it would compel them to perform the entire mass in
German, which even they do not do. But since the priest is a person belonging to the entire
Church, and not only to his surroundings, it is not wonderful that the priest celebrates
the mass in the Latin language in a Latin Church. It is profitable to the hearer, however,
if he hear the mass in faith of the Church; and experience teaches that among the Germans
there has been greater devotion at mass in Christ's believers who do not understand the
Latin language than in those who today hear the mass in German. And if the words of the
apostle be pondered, it is sufficient that the one replying occupy the place of the
unlearned to say Amen, the very thing that the canons prescribe. Neither is it necessary
that he hear or understand all the words of the mass, and even attend to it intelligently;
for it is better to understand and to attend to its end, because the mass is celebrated in
order that the Eucharist may be offered in memory of Christ's passion. And it is an argument
in favor of this that, according to the general opinion of the fathers, the apostles and
their successors until the times of the Emperor Hadrian celebrated the mass in the Hebrew
language alone, which was indeed unknown to the Christians, especially the converted heathen
. But even if the mass had been celebrated in the primitive Church in a tongue understood by
the people, nevertheless this would not be necessary now, for many were daily converted who
were ignorant of the ceremonies and unacquainted with the mysteries; and hence it was of
advantage for them to understand the words of the office; but now Catholics imbibe from
their cradles the manners and customs of the Church, whence they readily know what should be
done at every time in the Church. Moreover, as to their complaints concerning the abuse of
masses, there is none of those who think aright but does not earnestly desire that the
abuses be corrected. __But that they who wait at the altar live of the altar is not an abuse
, but pertains equally to both divine and human law.__ "Who goeth a warfare any time at his
own charge?" says Paul. "Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of
the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?"
1 Cor 9:7, 13. Christ says: "The laborer is worthy of his hire." Luke 10:7. But worthy of
censure, above all things, is the discontinuance of the private mass in certain places, as
though those having fixed and prescribed returns are sought no less than the public masses
on account of gain. But by this abrogation of masses the worship of God is diminished, honor
is withdrawn from the saints, the ultimate will of the founder is overthrown and defeated,
the dead deprived of the rights due them, and the devotion of the living withdrawn and
chilled. Therefore the abrogation of private masses cannot be conceded and tolerated.
Neither can their assumption be sufficiently understood that Christ by his passion has made
satisfaction for original sin, and has instituted the mass for actual sin; for this has
never been heard by Catholics, and very many who are now asked most constantly deny that
they have so taught. For the mass does not abolish sins, which are destroyed by repentance
as their peculiar medicine, but abolishes the punishment due sin, supplies satisfactions,
and confers increase of grace and salutary protection of the living, and, lastly, brings the
hope of divine consolation and aid to all our wants and necessities. Again, their
insinuations that in the mass Christ is not offered must be altogether rejected, as
condemned of old and excluded by the faithful. For Augustine says this was a very ancient
heresy of the Arians, who denied that in the mass an oblation was made for the living and
the dead. For this is opposed both to the Holy Scriptures and the entire Church. For through
Malachi the Lord predicted the rejection of the Jews, the call of the Gentiles and the
sacrifice of the evangelical law: "I have no pleasure in you, he saith, neither will I
accept an offering at your hand. For from the rising of the sun, even unto the going down of
the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles, and in every place incense shall be
offered unto my name and a pure offering." Mal 1:10, 11. But no pure offering has already
been offered to God in every place, except in the sacrifice of the altar of the most pure
Eucharist. This authority St. Augustine and other Catholics have used in favor of the mass
against faithless Jews, and certainly with Catholic princes it should have greater
influence than all objections of the adversaries. Besides, in speaking of the advent of the
Messiah the same prophet says: "And he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold
and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then shall the
offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old and as in
former years," Mal. 3:3, 4. Here in the spirit the prophet foresaw the sons of Levi - i.e.
evangelical priests, says Jerome - about to offer sacrifices, not in the blood of goats, but
in righteousness, as in the days of old. Hence these words are repeated by the Church in
the canon of the mass under the influence of the same Spirit under whose influence they were
written by the prophet. The angel also said to Daniel: "Many shall be purified and made
white and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly, and none of the wicked shall understand.
" And again: "The wise shall understand; and from the time that the daily sacrifices shall
be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand
two hundred and ninety days," Dan. 12:10, 11. Christ testifies that this prophecy is to be
fulfilled, but that it has not been as yet fulfilled, Matt. 24:15. Therefore the daily
sacrifice of Christ will cease universally at the advent of the abomination - i.e. of
Antichrist - just as it has already ceased, particularly in some churches, and thus will be
unemployed in the place of desolation - viz. when the churches will be desolated, in which
the canonical hours will not be chanted or the masses celebrated or the sacraments
administered, and there will be no altars, no images of saints, no candles, no furniture.
Therefore all princes and faithful subjects of the Roman Empire ought to be encouraged
never to admit or pass over anything that may aid the preparers of Antichrist in attaining
such a degree of wickedness, when the woman - i.e. the Catholic Church - as St. John saw in
the Spirit, will flee into the wilderness, where she will have a place prepared of God,
that she may be nourished there twelve hundred and sixty days, Rev. 12:6. Finally, St. Paul
says, Heb. 5:1: "Every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things
pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins." But since the
external priesthood has not ceased in the new law, but has been changed to a better,
therefore even today the high priest and the entire priesthood offer in the Church an
external sacrifice, which is only one, the Eucharist. To this topic that also is applicable
which is read, according to the new translation, in Acts 13:1, 2: Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius
of Cyrene, Manaen and Saul sacrificed - i.e. they offered an oblation, which can and ought
justly to be understood not of an oblation made to idols, but of the mass, since it is
called by the Greeks liturgy. And that in the primitive Church the mass was a sacrifice the
holy fathers copiously testify, and they support this opinion. For Ignatius, a pupil of St.
John the Apostle, says: "It is not allowable without a bishop either to offer a sacrifice
or to celebrate masses." And Irenaeus, a pupil of John, clearly testifies that "Christ
taught the new oblation of the New Testament, which the Church, receiving from the apostles,
offers to God throughout the entire world." This bishop, bordering upon the times of the
apostles, testifies that the new evangelical sacrifice was offered throughout the entire
world. Origin, Cyprian, Jerome, Chrysostom, Augustine, Basil, Hilary, etc., teach and
testify the same, whose words for brevity's sake are omitted. Since, therefore, the Catholic
Church throughout the entire Christian world has always taught, held and observed as it
today holds and observes, the same ought today to be held and observed inviolably. Nor does
St. Paul in Hebrews oppose the oblation of the mass when he says that by one offering we
have once been justified through Christ. For St. Paul is speaking of the offering of a
victim - i.e. of a bloody sacrifice, of a lamb slain, viz. upon the cross - which offering
was indeed once made whereby all sacraments, and even the sacrifice of the mass, have their
efficacy. Therefore he was offered but once with the shedding of blood - viz. upon the
cross; today he is offered in the mass as a peace making and sacramental victim. Then he
was offered in a visible form capable of suffering; today he is offered in the mass veiled
in mysteries, incapable of suffering, just as in the Old Testament he was sacrificed
typically and under a figure. Finally, the force of the word shows that the mass is a
sacrifice, since "mass" is nothing but "oblation," and has received its name from the Hebrew
word misbeach, altar - in Greek thysiasterion, on account of the oblation. It has been
sufficiently declared above that we are justified not properly by faith, but by love. But if
any such statement be found in the Holy Scriptures, Catholics know that it is declared
concerning fides formata, which works by love (Gal. 5), and because justification is begun
by faith, because it is the substance of things hoped for. Heb. 11:1. Neither is it denied
that the mass is a memorial of Christ's passion and God's benefits, since this is approved
by the figure of the paschal lamb, that was at the same time a victim and a memorial, Ex.
12:13, 14, and is represented not only by the Word and sacraments, but also by holy postures
and vestments in the Catholic Church; but to the memory of the victim the Church offers
anew the Eucharist in the mysteries to God the Father Almighty. Therefore the princes and
cities are not censured for retaining one common mass in the Church, provided they do this
according to the sacred canon, as observed by all Catholics. But in abrogating all other
masses they have done what the Christian profession does not allow. Nor does any one censure
the declaration that of old all who were present communed. Would that all were so disposed
as to be prepared to partake of this bread worthily every day! But if they regard one mass
advantageous, how much more advantageous would be a number of masses, of which they
nevertheless have unjustly disapproved. When all these things are properly considered we
must ask them to altogether annul and repudiate this new form of celebrating the mass that
has been devised, and has been already so frequently changed, and to resume the primitive
form for celebrating it according to the ancient rite and custom of the churches of Germany
and all Christendom, and to restore the abrogated masses according to the ultimate will of
their founders; whereby they would gain advantage and honor for themselves and peace and
tranquility for all Germany.
_________________________________

Source:
The Confutatio Pontificia:
In Reference to the Matters Presented To His Imperial Majesty
by the Elector Of Saxony and Some Princes and States of the Holy Roman Empire,
On the Subject and Concerning Causes Pertaining to the Christian Orthodox Faith,
the Following Christian Reply Can Be Given
August 3, 1530
Edited by J. M. Reu.
Published in
The Augsburg Confession, A Collection of Sources
Ft. Wayne, IN: Concordia Theological Seminary Press),
pp. 349-383.

Bror Erickson said...

I really wonder at times why the every Sunday communion movement hasn't caught on a bit more. It is both Biblical and confessional. I've heard some pastors say that it is legalistic to say that you should have communion every Sunday. But then I wonder what their reaction to the admonition to preach the Gospel every Sunday is? Is that also legalistic? You cannot, if you have a Lutheran understanding of the Lord's Supper, divorce it from the Gospel. It is part and parcel of the Gospel. By celebrating the Lord's Supper, you also proclaim the Gospel, even if you forgot to in your sermon.
Every year I have a couple Sundays of vacation. In both cases this year I was denied communion. It simply wasn't offered where I went to church on those Sundays. In both cases I also missed the Gospel in the sermon. I'm not saying it wasn't there. I just happened to have missed it if it was. I wonder if that was just coincidence, though?

William Weedon said...

Bror,

Amen. I think the legalism runs in a pastor or parish determining that on a given Lord's day they will DENY communion to those who might want it. By offering the Sacrament each week no one is forced into taking it; but by refusing to celebrate the sacrament there are certainly poor sinners who would take it who are then denied.

Still, I dare say, we probably have weekly Eucharist in more parishes at present in the LCMS than at any time in our whole history. May their numbers increase!

Reminds me too of a funny I heard one year at Valpo's liturgical institute. A pastor was serving as vacancy in a church that didn't celebrate the Sacrament each week. His sermon began by him singing: "Where is the feast of victory for our God?" ;) They got the message. They wanted to talk about it. He said: "Nope. Let's just DO it. THEN we can talk about it based on our experience of it." At the end of six months or so he asked if anyone had anything they wanted to ask or say about the practice. The only response? "Why didn't we ever do this before???"

AMEN!

Bror Erickson said...

William,
I would have to agree with you on all points. There definately are more churches now celebrating weekly communion than there have been before.
The First change I made in my first parish was to go to weekly communion. My elders asked how often I wanted to celebrate communion. I said every week. They were on board with me, but I soon found out, not everyone in the congregation was. However, I convinced them to table the discussion for three months, in which I catechized, and we celebrated every week. At the end of three months, the majority of the congregation was definately for every Sunday Communion.
It may be anecdotal, and I know spiritual health can be a hard thing to monitor. But I blame all the positive changes that subsequently happened in this congregation, such as growth in number, and appreciation for the liturgy, God's word, and Lutheran heritage, squarely on the head of our weekly celebration of communion.
I hear many pastors say they are waiting for someone in their congregation to bring it up. But then I hear many in their congregations lament that their pastor doesn't bring it up! I feel sorry for those congregations, and the members that are denied communion. I've even heard some lay people say they brought it up, but the pastor was too scared to follow through with naything. That is a shame.

Paul T. McCain said...

The claim that it is "legalism" to have every Sunday communion is, simply put, absurd.

If congregations ever told congregants they are REQUIRED to take communion every Sunday, that would be legalism.

But OFFERING it every Sunday is just that...offering it to those who desire it.

It is legalism to deprive those who desire the Lord's Supper on every Lord's day of that opportunity.

The single best resource on this issue is, "The Blessings of Weekly Communion" by Kenneth Wieting. If, after prayerful study of that book, any Lutheran still doesn't understand the blessings of weekly communion...I honestly would have to wonder if they really understand the Gospel.

William Weedon said...

And this is something that Luther saw with utter clarity that is so often missed today:

"For this sacrament IS the Gospel."

A good friend once complained about pastors substituting Lord's Supper talk for Calvary. But you can't separate the two: the Lord's Supper IS Calvary delivered into your mouth; forgiveness poured down your gullet.

Mike Baker said...

1. I find it interesting that the primary abuse identified here is what brings all of the errors surrounding departed saints full circle. Article XXI points out the error that says, "Dead men help bail us out." Article XXIV points out the error that says, "We can bail out dead men." When I read the two abuses side by side, they seem connected by man's desire to retain control through salvation by his merits.

2. "For none are admitted except they be first examined." AC XXIV:7

Question: What did this examination look like at the time of the Augsburg Confession?

3. It is a source of personal frustration that the US military seems to think that Christian serveicmembers are either going to be Roman Catholic or Protestant on Sunday. There are usually frustrated groans in the room when you try to explain that you are really neither and that your worship services are not like those two inadequate choices.

...And when you say that you would like to go elsewhere to a place where the Gospel is purely preached and the Sacraments are rightly administered, most surperiors look at you like you are some kind of koolaid-drinking crazy person. Sometimes it is almost funny:

"The LCMS?!? Baker, are you in some kind of cult?"

"...one holy, catholic, and apostoli-whatsit?"

On the plus side, I guess it gives me a chance to confess the truth God's Word during the quarterly Diet that gets called on my account. :P

Bror Erickson said...

Baker,
Are you a chaplain or a lay member of the Armed forces?
I was enlisted for four years, went two years without communing while living in Itally. Well I might have communed a couple times at that "Lutheran Service" they had on the third Thursday of the month. (I didn't ask questions about the celebrants, and the only people who cared to go to it were LCMS.)
But being in the service is hard, when it comes to balancing that with being a confessional Lutheran. Even though our theology prepares us better than any other theology could possibly think of doing for military service. My other Christian friends in the military had serious qualms about being "soldiers.' They were deeply conflicted, so were a lot of chaplains. But what makes it hard is the military's absolute blindness to any differences between "protestants." And it is even harder to be a Lutheran chaplian in these circumstances. Because for all they drill in you about integrity in basic or in officer school, the chaplain cadre has no use for it (integrity).
That said I have met many excellent LCMS Chaplains and thought of joining their ranks at one time. My hat is off to them.
Keep you convictions in the end Christ is all you have.

William Weedon said...

Mike,

On #1, though the Eucharist was instituted to be received, still we don't want to lose St. Paul's (and Dr. Luther's) vibrant sense of the unity of the Church through the Eucharist. St. Paul ponders this in numerous places, but above all in 1 Cor. 10. Here are some ponderings from Luther on this:

For to everyone who believes through the word of the Apostles, the promise is given for Christ's sake and by the power of this prayer, that he shall be one body and one loaf with all Christians; that what happens to him as a member for good or for ill, shall happen to the whole body for good or ill, and not only one or two saints, but all the prophets, martyrs, apostles, all Christians, both on earth and in heaven, shall suffer and conquer with him, shall fight for him, help, protect, and save him, and shall undertake for him such a gracious exchange that they will all bear his sufferings, want, and afflictions and he partake of their blessings, comfort, and joy.

How could a man wish for anything more blessed than to come into this fellowship or brotherhood, and be made a member of this body, which is called Christendom? For who can harm or injure a man who has this confidence, who knows that heaven and earth and all the angels and saints will cry to God when the smallest suffering befalls him?
--Sermon on John 17 (1528), cited in *Day by Day We Magnify Thee* page 353

I think this vibrant sense of the communion of saints needs to be strengthened in our Eucharistic teaching without slipping into the sort of thinking the AC excoriates.

2. The examination took place in the form of private confession, in which a pastor might do a bit of exploration about WHY a person wanted to come to the Supper (do they know what it is and what God wishes to give them there?) and also invite confession of any sins that are troubling them, over which the absolution would be spoken.

3. About the military - AMEN! Sooner or later the US government will realize that Lutherans are not just a peculiar variety of one-size-fits-all protestants!!!

Mike Baker said...

To answer Bror's question:

I am a member of the LCMS laity and an enlisted Soldier in the Army.

Being in the military has helped to refine my understanding of Christian vocation. The teachings of the Army walk in lock step with Christian truths on more occasions than I can count. I think it is because both Christians and Soldiers are organizations of imperfect individuals who are keenly focused on the life-or-death reality of this world every minute of every day. I could devote an entire blog to the similarities if I had the time and inclination so I will stop here since this forum topic is the Confessions.

Rev Weedon, how would you suggest that the vibrant sense of the communion of the saints be strengthened among us?

William Weedon said...

Mike,

Well, one thing is for sure - we won't be able to strengthen that sense without mentioning it in the liturgy. Not just once a year on All Saints, but frequently. Indeed, weekly! At bare minimum it seems to me that we ought to remember to thank God for the company of saints that surround us as a great cloud of witnesses in the Prayer of the Church. For example, tonight and tomorrow at St. Paul's, the Prayer of the Church will include this petition: "For the faithful who have gone before us and with whom in the Lord Jesus we are one, let us give thanks and praise, asking Him to bring us to share with them the unending joys of His heavenly feast."

It isn't honoring the saints (as our Symbols say we teach should be done) if we forget to mention them week after week! We honor them when we acknowledge that we are standing with them and they with us, the great crowd surrounding the Lamb Who Once Was Slain and who now sits upon the throne and lives and reigns to all eternity!

William Weedon said...

Oh, and many, many times at St. Paul's we remember them using this petition:

"Holy Father, in communion with the whole Church we give You thanks for Your saints, in whom You have given us a mirror of Your mercy and grace. We praise You especially for the Blessed Virgin Mary and for Saints Peter and Paul and all Your martyrs. Give us grace to walk before you with faith like theirs and grant us a share in their heavenly fellowship. Lord, in Your mercy, R."

If there is a saint that has come in the reading for a particular Sunday, we often remember him or her in the thanksgiving by name as well.

Frank Sonnek said...

awesome stuff guys!

I might add as a layman... I can read my bible at home. Many use that as a copout to not go to church. WHERE alone can i get christs body and blood.

It would be great to see churches offer the lords supper reflexively whenever they meet for prayer, morning and evening prayer... wed night evening prayer..... as in "this is simply what we do when we get together as church." maybe even before midweek elders and church counsel meetings...