Friday, June 02, 2006

Should the Lutheran Church muck around in Catholic sacraments?

Regardless of whether you are Catholic or Lutheran, or something else; regardless of who you think ought to be ordained, or what you believe about the Eucharist, the Mass, etc. . . .

Do you think one church should host a celebration of the other church's sacraments, that the latter would find offensive?

Here's an example: sometimes Christians get together and celebrate a Seder, which is the Jewish Passover. If you ask our Jewish brothers and sisters, they frequently will say they don't care for that. Should my parish, St. Boniface, host such an event?

Or, should I have someone who claims to be a Lutheran minister -- who the Lutheran Church definitively says is not -- celebrate what is advertised as the Eucharist led by a Lutheran pastor? Or, should the fact that the Lutheran Church is offended by this, and doesn't particularly want this sort of thing to bring confusion about what Lutherans actually believe, lead me to say, "sorry, go rent a hall"?

Because here's an actual case study:

Report Back from Mass at Luther Seminary With Rev. Dagmar Celeste
Last night [I.e., April 24, 2006*] I had the privelege of joining Rev. Dagmar Celeste and Deacon Regina Nicolosi of Roman Catholic Womenpriests for a Mass at Luther Seminary in St Paul. Dagmar's daughter-in-law is a professor at Luther, to make the connection as to why we were holding a Catholic Mass at a Lutheran Seminary. :)

Dagmar and Regina led a beautiful celebration with inclusive language and a model of the discipleship of equals. During the homily, Dagmar invited us to stand and bless the people next to us. I heard the Holy Wind, Wisdom Sophia, move through that upper room as the voices of women whispered blessings upon each other. I'm getting chills just thinking about it.

We also learned that Regina, our very own from Minnesota, is in formation for the priesthood and will be ordained this June. Minnesota will also be sending another woman to be ordained a deacon. I'm hoping that this will result in the formation of a feminist church community in Minnesota.

We learned that Victoria Rue's weekly mass at San Jose State has finally drawn the notice and ire of the bishop the the Diocese of San Jose, causing him to release a statement in the bulletins of all the churches in his diocese that Victoria's ordination, masses and administration of the sacrements are "invalid." See the Most recent bulletin from St Victor's Church as an example. (Scroll down to "Religious Scams.")

After Mass, in the coy and faux-innocent style of Regina's humor, she asked of the photo we took, "Are you going to send this to the Catholic Spirit?"

Oh, wouldn't that be fun? Only if the headline can read, "Local Girls Participate in Heresy, Gunning for Excommunication." :) Hopefully, photos will be available soon.

(end of article)

Now, it occurs to me that Luther Seminary may have known nothing about it. I found nothing on its web site. If I get a chance, I'll drop a note to Luther Seminary about this.

And it seems to me, this isn't about whether you're for or against the Catholic Church's position on who can be ordained. As I say, I rather suspect the Lutheran Church wouldn't care for us allowing something like this, concerning their sacraments, in a Catholic seminary.

(For some background, see: Mother Dagmar Re-emerges)

* I erred in the date by a day, and corrected it June 3, 2006.

14 comments:

Father Barry said...

"A beautiful celebration with inclusive language and a model of the discipleship of equals?" "The Holy Wind, Wisdom Sophia" moving "through that upper room as the voices of women whispered blessings upon each other?"

What is this stuff? I'm still trying to get my head around what "Roman Catholic Womanpriests" even means.

But I trust your question is at least partially rhetorical. It seems perfectly obvious from a prudential standpoint that Lutheran Seminary should not allow this sort of thing. Perhaps they're afraid of treading on the "wrong toes?" They're certainly not afraid of tredding on our toes, though.

Make sure to return with details if you are actually able to get an explanation the seminary.

Now, I'm off to try and erase that "Justice for Women" website from my mind. Thanks a lot.

Elizabeth+ said...

Fr. Martin: Every time I hear about "Sophia" in a room with anyone, I start to get a little antsy. She (she?)has been frequently invoked in my denomination to move the church towards theological revisionism. I, like Fr. Barry, trust your question was rhetorical (perhaps a little provocative?) I find the whole Seder question very interesting. I'm still not sure of the answer. Another, analogous question is: can we Christians accept the integrity of the Hebrew Scriptures without cutting out large chunks or changing it to suit our preferences?

PS (with reference to a past column): what is a true conservative..as you define it?

Father Martin Fox said...

Pastor Elizabeth:

If you're asking me how I answer the question I posed in my headline, the answer is "No" -- and vice-versa.

About the Hebrew Scriptures; I think that's different. Christians fundamentally lay claim to those Scriptures, although they become something for us they are not for our Jewish elder kinsmen. Sort of like the Mass, or the Protestants' Lord's Supper, is a "Christian Seder." I.e., I'll buy Jews saying, "don't do the Seder"; but were they to say, "don't do the Mass," then I'd say, no, sorry, can't agree.

As to what I deem a "true conservative" to be, my short answer is "me!" For a fuller answer, you'll have to wait until I can post on that; or you can attempt to mine an answer from prior posts.

Father Martin Fox said...

By the way, let me be clear:

I'm not particularly objecting to the "beautiful celebration" described. I mean, sure, I can think of things I would object to. But that's not my concern here. My objection is that (a) this is billed as "Catholic Mass," (b) celebrated by a Roman Catholic "womanpriest," (c) at a Lutheran place of worship. Take any of these elements away, and I think I wouldn't object as I have.

Elizabeth+ said...

Fr. Martin: Forgive me for not being clear. I was referring to the idea of holding seders in churches and whether churches should or should not do so. I have squirmed through poorly Christianized Seder meals and felt that they honor neither our Jewish roots or our Christian present/future! I agree about the Mass (in the Episcopal Church, the Eucharist)...we do see the Old Testament through the lens of the crucified and resurrected Lord. But what I wrestle with is that (forgive me if this is getting too heady, it might be a better off-blog email discussion) I think we do a poor job (in general) as clergy in helping our congregants develop a hermeneutic for reading and understanding the Old Testament. I still struggle to reconcile the picture of the God I know in Jesus with some of what I see described about God in the Hebrew Scriptures (but I refuse to be a Marcionite).

PS I'm eager to read your future writing on what it means to be a "true conservative." I'm impressed by your courage in opening up the floodgates to political debate on such matters.

Father Martin Fox said...

Pastor Elizabeth:

I think we should not have Seders in churches, precisely because our Jewish elder kin object; if they didn't, I'd only be concerned that it not be confused with the Mass.

Elizabeth+ said...

Thank you for that comment, Fr. Martin. You seem very sensitive about the integrity of interfaith relationships. By the way, if the Lutheran Seminary really did give permission for such an event to be held on its grounds, it is a breach of ecumenical relations, in my opinion. I can't imagine it happening in this Archdiocese (Philadelphia). I have a lot of issues with our local Episcopal bishop, but he and Cardinal Rigali (and the Lutheran bishop) seem to show both clear boundaries and respect.

But maybe I'm too complacent!

My daughter, who obviously is not Catholic, was just give the monthly Peacemaker Award at her parochial school. Cool for Sian, but also a very nice tribute to the non-exclusive behavior of her Catholic classmates. Would we could reach out to each other in a way that respects, and doesnt' trample, on the Christ in each believer.

T.O. said...

We have 'Holy Wind' at our parish but usually it's not God, but an elderly parishioner up in front... ;) (Sorry.)

young-philothea said...

My objection is that (a) this is billed as "Catholic Mass," (b) celebrated by a Roman Catholic "womanpriest," (c) at a Lutheran place of worship. Take any of these elements away, and I think I wouldn't object as I have.
Um, Fr. I think if it's (c) that you take away, you'd still have objections, because there is no such thing as a "womanpriest" in the Catholic church.
and like Fr. Barry, i'm looking forward to reading your letter to the Seminary and the reply (if there is one). Take care

Father Martin Fox said...

Young Philothea:

Correct. In what you quoted, I meant in the context of the original post.

Look, if Mother Dagmar wants to play Mass . . . I don't agree with that, obviously, but my concern is when it is presented as real.

If the Lutherans want to invite Mother Dagmar to "concelebrate" one of their liturgies, again, I'm not saying that's okay; I'm saying, that's not the problem. Or it's a lot less of a problem.

Father Martin Fox said...

Young Philothea:

I have written to Luther Seminary; if and when I get a response, I'll post it.

Cory Sticha said...

T.O. said...

" We have 'Holy Wind' at our parish but usually it's not God, but an elderly parishioner up in front... ;) (Sorry.)"

I have to admit I had similar thoughts, but I thought women were usually more discrete about when the "wind" moves.

T.O. said...

You obviously haven't been to my parish, Cory ;) When you reach a certain age it doesn't matter which gender you are.

Anna B said...

Should they or shouldn't they, and don't we do it quite well on our own?
A year and a half ago, end of January 2005(if I remember it correctly) I attended Mass as usual in my parish church and noticed that in the procession, in between six or so altar servers and the pastor was an elderly woman. It turned out that, as our pastor explained, this was the international day of ecumenism, or something like that (as I was in the "crying room" plus the Mass was in French, I might have misunderstood something) and the woman represented a German speaking Lutheran church with which our parish had some kind of relations and, as the pastor of that church was not able to be present at this Mass, she was going to read a homily written by her pastor. That was the only "homily", read by this lutheran woman, who during the whole Mass had her place behind the altar and received communion with the priest. I was quite upset afterwards and complained to my husband when I came home, but of course his response was "chill out it's none of your business". So maybe it isn't? Or is it?