Posts Tagged ‘Catechism’

About Holy Cross Day:

One of the earliest annual celebrations of the Church, Holy Cross Day traditionally commemorated the discovery of the original cross of Jesus on September 14, 320, in Jerusalem. The cross was found by Helena, mother of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. In conjunction with the dedication of a basilica at the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, the festival day was made official by order of Constantine in AD 335. A devout Christian,Helena had helped locate and authenticate many sites related to the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus throughout biblical lands. Holy Cross Day has remained popular in both Eastern and Western Christianity. Many Lutheran parishes have chosen to use “Holy Cross” as the name of their congregation. (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, published by Concordia Publishing House)

The Jewish new year begins right now, September 13-15 this year (2015) with Rosh Hashanah, literally, “head of the year”.  It was at this time, acccording to their traditions, God finished creating the heavens and the earth, the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve.  The shofar, ram’s horn is sounded at this time.  Rosh Hashanah also corresponds to the beginning of the harvest time.  The Eastern Orthodox  Churches likewise begin the Church year at this time.  Let’s face it:  this is a quite appropos tradition as the year really begins when school, college and university begins anew! Ask many a Mom or Dad! New students, matriculation, studies, that is education continues.  We also celebrate today the Holy Cross.  In school,  minds and hopefully even souls are educated in this change of season.  We give thanks to the Lord for the harvest.  Needless to say, we urbanites and suburbanites, are insensible to the rhythms of seed-time and  then harvest. But Holy Cross can remind us the Lord will bring in His Harvest by His Sacrifice upon the cross:  hearing, learning and growing in the good news of forgiveness once and for all. Jesus Christ is the grain of wheat planted, dead and alive (See  John 12:24 ) The cross is like a shepherd’s staff by which He gathers us to Himself.  (See John 12:31-33).

In the 13th century,  when St Bonaventure was in great repute, teaching theology in Paris, and attracting a general esteem and admiration by his works, St Thomas Aquinas went one day to see him, and requested him to show him what books he used for his studies.

Then Bonaventure, conducting him to his little chamber, showed him some very common books that were on his table. But Thomas gave him to understand that he desired to see the other books from which he derived so many marvelous things.

Bonaventure  then showed him a small prayer chapel, with nothing in it but a crucifix: “There, Father,” said he, “is all my other books; this is the principal one from which I draw all I teach, and all I write.”  If my tongue does not teach and preach according to Christ and His Cross, and the Law of God, then the tongue is like rudder steering the ship in the wrong direction, like a bit that does not guide the horse, like a spark that simply inflames with fire, all heat and no light.  No human being can control the tongue, James wrote.  He knew Who controls the tongue to teach whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (Philippians 4:8) and finally and fully the center of all human history:  the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Jewish Messiah for Jew and Gentile. We need education not merely to know but to serve as we have been served.  He teaches us to pray ever in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.


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This past March 15, the ides of March, there was a little heralded 30th anniversary.  On that day, a now defunct Massachusetts computer company registered and announced the first dot-com domain ever:  symbolics.com, without much fanfare because who knew at the time what a dot-com was.  This humble beginning was the herald of great change.Thirty years later, there are some three billion people on the internet.  The internet  generates $1.3 trillion in e-commerce sales, all relying on the internet, and all largely attributable to three little letters: .com.

So many years ago, another announcement or annunciation in a backwater town, Nazareth, that a virgin, Mary, would give birth to “the Son of the Most High”, “the Son of God” and Gabriel even gave the Name of the Child to be born to Mary:  Jesus, literally, God saves. This was a little heralded annunciation at the turn of the eons. Yet, this announcement of this Birth has meant the rebirth of billions upon billions of people over the pilgrimage of the Lord’s Church.  The Church and her members do not rely on something as ephemeral as the internet, always changing, but on Jesus Christ, “…the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13: 8). He is the same in His grace, mercy and peace for those burdened by the weight of sin.  This is all attributable to 5 little letters in English:  Jesus, literally,God saves.  For you He came.   

When Jesus was born there was a much louder annunciation, the birth announcement, For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  Then the angelic hosts sang, Glory to God in the highest, but this announcement was a private audience:  lowly shepherds who had no spirituality to seize heaven, as heaven seized them.  And as the messenger of the Most High said to them:  for you is this Son.  He is not for Mary alone, but for you.

And in the night in which He was betrayed He gave us the meal of His absolute absolving Presence for our forgiveness and faith, palpable in bread and wine.  Luther on the Sacrament of the Altar:

“…a promise is attached to the commandment… which should most powerfully draw and impel us. Here stand the gracious and lovely words, “This is my body, given for you,” “This is my blood, poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins.” These words, I have said, are not preached to wood or stone but to you and me; otherwise Christ might just as well have kept quiet and not instituted a sacrament. Ponder, then, and include yourself personally in the “you” so that he may not speak to you in vain.” (italicized words original)

In the quiet annunciation of the Words of Institution the Lord gives us Himself and in the Sacrament sums up all the “for yous”:

  • The “for you” of His Incarnation, conception, birth and growing up.
  • The “for you” of every Word He taught. 
  • The “for you” of His miracles and deeds He did.
  • The “for you” of all the works of the Lord recorded in all the Bible in creating, redeeming and sanctifying Israel and us.   
  • Then the “for you” crying from the cross, It is finished. 
  • And the “for you”, He is risen, He goes ahead of you. All of those “for yous” are summed up in the precise means of grace the Lord has established for us in the Sacrament of the Altar.

“In this sacrament he offers us all the treasure he brought from  heaven for us, to which he most graciously invites us in other places, as when he says in Matt. 11:28, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will refresh you.”(Luther) 

 We are dependent creatures, we live only by food and drink taken inward from outside of us.  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.  If someone does not eat, we know that person is sick. Again Luther: 

“What shall I do if I cannot feel this need or  experience hunger and thirst for the sacrament?” Answer: For persons in such a state of mind that they cannot feel it, I know no better advice than to suggest that they put their hands to their bosom and ask whether they are made of flesh and blood. If you find that you are, then for your own good turn to St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians and hear what are the fruits of the flesh: “The works of the flesh are plain: adultery, immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and the like.” If you cannot feel the need, therefore, at least believe the  Scriptures. They will not lie to you, and they know your flesh better than you yourself do.” 

As the Blessed Virgin Mary said, Let it be to me according to Thy Word.  Amen.


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In the Daily Lectionary the Epistle reading for today (January 29) is the beginning of 2 Timothy, 1: 1-18. Selections from 2 Timothy will continue for the next 3 days: 2 Timothy 2: 1—26; 2 Timothy 3: 1—17 and then on 1 February, 2 Timothy 4: 1—18.

I concentrate on verse 5:
I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.

When asked the question, Why are you a Lutheran, one of the answers is my upbringing, as it was for Paul’s brother pastor, Timothy. Paul reminds Timothy of his education and formation in the faith delivered to the saints once and for all through Timothy’s mother and grandmother. Paul reminds him to encourage him. We all need these reminders for our encouragement to fulfill our vocations. In prison, Paul remembers Timothy with tears of joy and prayer for him (verses 3-5a), but also for Lois and Eunice.

Professor Timothy Oden in his commentary, Interpretation: First and Second Timothy and Titus, comments on the purpose of this “transmission of apostolic faith” in Timothy’s ministry and vocation as a pastor:

“The intergenerational transmission of apostolic faith was of urgent concern to Paul. That is what he seemed to be most seriously pondering in prison. He was constantly reminded of Timothy’s sincere faith (v. 5), untainted by hypocrisy, unmixed by corrupted motives—the same faith that dwelt first in the grandmother Lois and the mother Eunice and then in the son. To these two women we rightly credit the transmission of the faith to Timothy, the precondition of his transmission of the faith to countless others. In Timothy we have a young man from a transitional, cross-cultural family charged with transmitting the faith intergenerationally.”

A good solid upbringing, catechesis in the Faith, is for bringing the faith to “countless others”. Fathers and mothers are their child’s first “bishop and bishopess”, as Luther said it.

In this verse 5 the imprisoned Apostle mentions faith directly and indirectly three times in this one sentence. The Faith is not only apprehended intellectually but Faith “dwelt” first in Timothy’s grandmother and then his mother and now it dwells in Timothy. Faith holds tight the promises of God fulfilled in Jesus Christ for us all, His grace, mercy and peace for sinners (verse 2). Paul describes the abiding Faith in Christ Jesus as “sincere” but a more literal reading of the Greek word is that it is “unfeigned”, not fake. Oden calls this the “quiet transmission”:

When preaching asks how Christian mission is to be revitalized today, nothing is more central to the answer than being a good parent. We see a model of parenting embodied in the small-scale, inconspicuous transition from Lois to Eunice to Timothy. That such traditioning can occur within a highly pluralistic, syncretistic, rapidly changing environment is clear from this account. They did it. Faith can be passed on through families. Religious instruction in the family unit is crucial to the transmission of the Christian tradition.

Too much of Christianity is television and show and shallow emotionalism and wanting to accommodate to the fads and fashions of the world. The unfeigned faith can happen in the Church in the home. Just think that Christian faith was educated in the Roman Empire without a lick of support from the culture and society.  I think Professor Oden’s language is a little sterile but he is saying what the text teaches and his conclusion is startling in this noisy world and worldliness inthe sentence I emphasized. As the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians in his first letter, God gives the growth. Growth takes time, it takes the Lord’s time. How did Timothy grow in the Faith in Jesus Christ? Answer: the Scriptures, the Word of God:

But as for you ,continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be  complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3)

The Holy Spirit teaches and His lesson plan is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and His TextBook the Bible. We need home-church schooling more than ever. 

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Visit, O Lord, the homes in which Your people dwell, making them a haven of blessing and of peace. Strengthen the bonds of love and faithfulness between all married couples, leading us all to honor this institution that You have established for our good. Give courage and strength to all Christian parents, that they may faithfully teach their children to know the voice of the Good Shepherd and to trust in Him alone for all good things. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.


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