Michaelmas? Huh, What?

Yesterday was, in the traditional Catholic calendar, the Feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Michael, in Italy. In short: Michaelmas.

So what? I hear you ask? Well, Fr. John Zuhlsdorf tells us:

As a “mere” Archangel, Michael belongs to one of the lower choirs.  But such are God’s might and plan, that Michael is the one who restrained Satan, highest in the hierarchy and mightiest of all the angels before his fall.  Michael it will be who chains the great “red dragon” of Revelation 12.

OK, a lot of this strikes me, and maybe you, as Catholic mumbo jumbo and a diminution of the Faith in Christ onto a whole (heavenly) multitude of other characters. And maybe it is. But it also presents in a popular form the many facets of our Faith – here the faith (or Church) Militant defending itself from evil. Something that does appear in short supply these days.

Part of the reason we take note is this is because as Fr Gavin Ashenden tells us:

“After Leo XIII had celebrated a morning Mass, he went to a meeting with the Cardinals. Suddenly he collapsed into unconsciousness. The doctors who came to his aid found no cause for the collapse, although his pulse almost ceased. Suddenly he awoke and was fresh as ever. He reported that he had seen a terrible vision. He was granted to see the devil’s seductiveness and ravaging for the coming ages in all lands. In this distress St. Michael the Archangel appeared and cast Satan with all his demons back into the infernal abyss. Leo XIII thereupon ordered, shortly after 1880, the Common Prayer to St. Michael.”

Pope Leo was so shocked by his vision of the unleashing of evil in the Church and in the world in the 20th Century, he asked all Catholics to pray this prayer after celerbrating the Eucharist.

He then provides us with the prayer Leo taught us:

O glorious Prince of the Heavenly Host, St. Michael, the Archangel, defend us in the battle and in the fearful warfare that we are waging against the principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, against the evil spirits. Come thou, to the assistance of men, whom Almighty God created immortal, making them in His own image and likeness and redeeming them at a great price from the tyranny of Satan. Fight this day the battle of the Lord with thy legions of holy Angels, even as of old, thou didst fight against Lucifer, the leader of the proud spirits and all his rebel Angels, who were powerless to stand against thee.

Neither was their place found anymore in Heaven. And that apostle Angel, transformed into an Angel of darkness who still creeps about the earth to encompass our ruin, was cast headlong into the abyss together with his followers.

But, behold, that first enemy of mankind, and a murderer from the beginning, has regained his confidence. Changing himself into an Angel of light, he goes about with the whole multitude of the wicked spirits to invade the earth and blot out the Name of God and of His Christ, to plunder, to slay, and to consign to eternal damnation the souls that have been destined for a crown of everlasting life. This wicked serpent, like an unclean torrent, pours into men of depraved minds and corrupt hearts the poison of his malice, the spirit of lying, impiety, and blasphemy, and the deadly breath of impurity and every form of vice and iniquity. These crafty enemies of mankind have filled to overflowing with gall and wormwood the Church, which is the Bride of the Lamb without spot. They have laid profane hands upon her most sacred treasures.

Make haste, therefore, O invincible Prince, to help the people of God against the inroads of the lost spirits and grant us the victory.

Now mind, I’m a fairly good Lutheran, I  can’t countenance praying to archangels and such, although I have found it efficacious to ask Jesus’s Mom to intercede with him for me on occasion. But given the way the world currently is, it could do no harm to ask Jesus and his heavenly father to unleash such a doughty champion on our behalf.

A letter to the Lutheran Church

The seal of Martin Luther. Also used as the lo...

The seal of Martin Luther. Also used as the logo for the LCC (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s time to talk to my fellow Lutherans. Have you noticed lately that there is no cachet to being an Lutheran. Just another protestant looking for a social club, they say. That, in itself, is unimportant, the important thing is to be a good Christian. But being a good Christian has its own cachet,  and it is never mentioned in regard to us anymore. Why is that?

But maybe we need a definition of a good Christian.

  • First and foremost a good Christian follows the Christ, and him crucified. That is the mark. Do we? Do we even know what Christ taught anymore? And even more to the point, do we care? And still more to the point, Are we ready to emulate Him? It’s not something we have to go looking for but, it is part of our faith. At Augsburg, Martin Luther believed he would be burned at the stake, probably within two weeks. He was in far more danger here than he was later, at Worms. That my friends, is the standard, not whether we have a modern service, or how good the coffee is at the coffee hour. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with those things, although I have a lot of doubts concerning modern services following a proper liturgy i.e. Worshiping God. Worship is not a membership tool, although I suspect if we went back to the traditional Lutheranism, we would gain members even as the traditionalists in the Catholic church are. We need to remember that we are there to worship God. It’s not about us.

If you take a glance at the category in my blogroll called “The Christians” you will find two Catholic sites and two Anglican sites and not a single Lutheran site. (I need to update soon but, there won’t be Lutheran site afterwords, either.) Why is that? All of these sites are run by serious Christians, who understand that the faith requires things from us, of great sacrifice. At all of these sites, I am active, and I believe, respected, not because I am a Lutheran but because I am trying to be a Christian, and because I know something of Lutheran history and theology. These are serous sites, they are not feel good Christianity, at them you will learn the history and theology that binds us, as well as how to be Christian in these times.

A couple of points to remember. We are schismatics, we broke away from the Catholic church. Actually, if you ask an Orthodox Christian, we did twice, once when we went with Rome and then again at the Reformation. And here is something to think about, our forbearers cared so much about shepherding the church that they not only founded a church that became the established church for about half of Europe, and fought the Thirty Years War for those beliefs, but we caused the Counter-reformation that purged many of the corruptions from the Catholic church as well.

We are the senior Protestant church, second in membership only to the Catholic Church but, it seems we have lost our way. Where are the statements from our bishops on the HHS mandate? Our doctrine on abortions is nearly word for word with the Roman Catholic doctrine (my home ELCA does permit contraception but not abortions, which is maybe defensible). Again, where are the Bishops, where are the Pastors? Why are we leaving this battle to the Roman Catholic Church? Don’t we care about the murder of children?

I’m a proud Lutheran, proud of my church, and proud of its history. I should not have to get spiritual guidance from the Catholic Church. But that is the situation I’m in. Apparently the Lutheran hierarchy is so afraid of offending their political friends that they are willing to let us all literally go to hell for a little comfort from the government, or tax-exempt status, or something.

Membership is, I will admit, important, but define a member. Is it someone who shows up when they haven’t anything better to do and likes to sing, and drink coffee, or is it someone who is serious about saving their immortal soul. Again, I look at the Catholic Church, which parts are gaining membership the fastest? The conservative ones, the ones who preach the hard gospel, not the liberals who go along to get along, they are dying, just like us and the Episcopalians. For an example, look at the diocese of Lincoln, it is thriving because it is conservative. Others, that are not, like our church, are dying of hypocrisy.

I have said many times that there are many paths to the foot of the Cross, and it is true, but none of them are the easy path of going along to get along. Christianity is a religion of the oppressed, always has been, always will be, we have gotten complacent, and have recognized not threats to us. But there are, they are real and they are formidable. What will you do?

Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD’s side? let him come to me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him.

Exodus 32:26

Is my church on the Lord’s side, or is it a sycophant of Caesar? Because, in truth, much as I love the Lutheran Church and have since I joined 25 or so years ago, the time is coming when I will likely as not be a Catholic, because my church has lost sight of its mission.

Right now the Lutheran Church in America is little more than a coffee shop full of do-gooders, and that is not what Christianity is.

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