Biblical Memoirs

Sunday the 29th of October, 2017, the Lutheran Church as a whole will be celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation Day (observed on October 31). The day is in observance of the 95 Theses that martin Luther wrote and nailed to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517. They are as follows:

  1. When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.
  2. This word cannot be understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, that is, confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy.
  3. Yet it does not mean solely inner repentance; such inner repentance is worthless unless it produces various outward mortification of the flesh.
  4. The penalty of sin remains as long as the hatred of self (that is, true inner repentance), namely till our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
  5. The pope neither desires nor is able to remit any penalties except those imposed by his own authority or that of the canons.
  6. The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring and showing that it has been remitted by God; or, to be sure, by remitting guilt in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in these cases were disregarded, the guilt would certainly remain unforgiven.
  7. God remits guilt to no one unless at the same time he humbles him in all things and makes him submissive to the vicar, the priest.
  8. The penitential canons are imposed only on the living, and, according to the canons themselves, nothing should be imposed on the dying.
  9. Therefore the Holy Spirit through the pope is kind to us insofar as the pope in his decrees always makes exception of the article of death and of necessity.
  10. Those priests act ignorantly and wickedly who, in the case of the dying, reserve canonical penalties for purgatory.
  11. Those tares of changing the canonical penalty to the penalty of purgatory were evidently sown while the bishops slept (Mt 13:25).
  12. In former times canonical penalties were imposed, not after, but before absolution, as tests of true contrition.
  13. The dying are freed by death from all penalties, are already dead as far as the canon laws are concerned, and have a right to be released from them.
  14. Imperfect piety or love on the part of the dying person necessarily brings with it great fear; and the smaller the love, the greater the fear.
  15. This fear or horror is sufficient in itself, to say nothing of other things, to constitute the penalty of purgatory, since it is very near to the horror of despair.
  16. Hell, purgatory, and heaven seem to differ the same as despair, fear, and assurance of salvation.
  17. It seems as though for the souls in purgatory fear should necessarily decrease and love increase.
  18. Furthermore, it does not seem proved, either by reason or by Scripture, that souls in purgatory are outside the state of merit, that is, unable to grow in love.
  19. Nor does it seem proved that souls in purgatory, at least not all of them, are certain and assured of their own salvation, even if we ourselves may be entirely certain of it.
  20. Therefore the pope, when he uses the words “plenary remission of all penalties,” does not actually mean “all penalties,” but only those imposed by himself.
  21. Thus those indulgence preachers are in error who say that a man is absolved from every penalty and saved by papal indulgences.
  22. As a matter of fact, the pope remits to souls in purgatory no penalty which, according to canon law, they should have paid in this life.
  23. If remission of all penalties whatsoever could be granted to anyone at all, certainly it would be granted only to the most perfect, that is, to very few.
  24. For this reason most people are necessarily deceived by that indiscriminate and high-sounding promise of release from penalty.
  25. That power which the pope has in general over purgatory corresponds to the power which any bishop or curate has in a particular way in his own diocese and parish.
  26. The pope does very well when he grants remission to souls in purgatory, not by the power of the keys, which he does not have, but by way of intercession for them.
  27. They preach only human doctrines who say that as soon as the money clinks into the money chest, the soul flies out of purgatory.
  28. It is certain that when money clinks in the money chest, greed and avarice can be increased; but when the church intercedes, the result is in the hands of God alone.
  29. Who knows whether all souls in purgatory wish to be redeemed, since we have exceptions in St. Severinus and St. Paschal, as related in a legend.
  30. No one is sure of the integrity of his own contrition, much less of having received plenary remission.
  31. The man who actually buys indulgences is as rare as he who is really penitent; indeed, he is exceedingly rare.
  32. Those who believe that they can be certain of their salvation because they have indulgence letters will be eternally damned, together with their teachers.
  33. Men must especially be on guard against those who say that the pope’s pardons are that inestimable gift of God by which man is reconciled to him.
  34. For the graces of indulgences are concerned only with the penalties of sacramental satisfaction established by man.
  35. They who teach that contrition is not necessary on the part of those who intend to buy souls out of purgatory or to buy confessional privileges preach unchristian doctrine.
  36. Any truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without indulgence letters.
  37. Any true Christian, whether living or dead, participates in all the blessings of Christ and the church; and this is granted him by God, even without indulgence letters.
  38. Nevertheless, papal remission and blessing are by no means to be disregarded, for they are, as I have said (Thesis 6), the proclamation of the divine remission.
  39. It is very difficult, even for the most learned theologians, at one and the same time to commend to the people the bounty of indulgences and the need of true contrition.
  40. A Christian who is truly contrite seeks and loves to pay penalties for his sins; the bounty of indulgences, however, relaxes penalties and causes men to hate them — at least it furnishes occasion for hating them.
  41. Papal indulgences must be preached with caution, lest people erroneously think that they are preferable to other good works of love.
  42. Christians are to be taught that the pope does not intend that the buying of indulgences should in any way be compared with works of mercy.
  43. Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better deed than he who buys indulgences.
  44. Because love grows by works of love, man thereby becomes better. Man does not, however, become better by means of indulgences but is merely freed from penalties.
  45. Christians are to be taught that he who sees a needy man and passes him by, yet gives his money for indulgences, does not buy papal indulgences but God’s wrath.
  46. Christians are to be taught that, unless they have more than they need, they must reserve enough for their family needs and by no means squander it on indulgences.
  47. Christians are to be taught that they buying of indulgences is a matter of free choice, not commanded.
  48. Christians are to be taught that the pope, in granting indulgences, needs and thus desires their devout prayer more than their money.
  49. Christians are to be taught that papal indulgences are useful only if they do not put their trust in them, but very harmful if they lose their fear of God because of them.
  50. Christians are to be taught that if the pope knew the exactions of the indulgence preachers, he would rather that the basilica of St. Peter were burned to ashes than built up with the skin, flesh, and bones of his sheep.
  51. Christians are to be taught that the pope would and should wish to give of his own money, even though he had to sell the basilica of St. Peter, to many of those from whom certain hawkers of indulgences cajole money.
  52. It is vain to trust in salvation by indulgence letters, even though the indulgence commissary, or even the pope, were to offer his soul as security.
  53. They are the enemies of Christ and the pope who forbid altogether the preaching of the Word of God in some churches in order that indulgences may be preached in others.
  54. Injury is done to the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or larger amount of time is devoted to indulgences than to the Word.
  55. It is certainly the pope’s sentiment that if indulgences, which are a very insignificant thing, are celebrated with one bell, one procession, and one ceremony, then the gospel, which is the very greatest thing, should be preached with a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.
  56. The true treasures of the church, out of which the pope distributes indulgences, are not sufficiently discussed or known among the people of Christ.
  57. That indulgences are not temporal treasures is certainly clear, for many indulgence sellers do not distribute them freely but only gather them.
  58. Nor are they the merits of Christ and the saints, for, even without the pope, the latter always work grace for the inner man, and the cross, death, and hell for the outer man.
  59. St. Lawrence said that the poor of the church were the treasures of the church, but he spoke according to the usage of the word in his own time.
  60. Without want of consideration we say that the keys of the church, given by the merits of Christ, are that treasure.
  61. For it is clear that the pope’s power is of itself sufficient for the remission of penalties and cases reserved by himself.
  62. The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God.
  63. But this treasure is naturally most odious, for it makes the first to be last (Mt. 20:16).
  64. On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is naturally most acceptable, for it makes the last to be first.
  65. Therefore the treasures of the gospel are nets with which one formerly fished for men of wealth.
  66. The treasures of indulgences are nets with which one now fishes for the wealth of men.
  67. The indulgences which the demagogues acclaim as the greatest graces are actually understood to be such only insofar as they promote gain.
  68. They are nevertheless in truth the most insignificant graces when compared with the grace of God and the piety of the cross.
  69. Bishops and curates are bound to admit the commissaries of papal indulgences with all reverence.
  70. But they are much more bound to strain their eyes and ears lest these men preach their own dreams instead of what the pope has commissioned.
  71. Let him who speaks against the truth concerning papal indulgences be anathema and accursed.
  72. But let him who guards against the lust and license of the indulgence preachers be blessed.
  73. Just as the pope justly thunders against those who by any means whatever contrive harm to the sale of indulgences.
  74. Much more does he intend to thunder against those who use indulgences as a pretext to contrive harm to holy love and truth.
  75. To consider papal indulgences so great that they could absolve a man even if he had done the impossible and had violated the mother of God is madness.
  76. We say on the contrary that papal indulgences cannot remove the very least of venial sins as far as guilt is concerned.
  77. To say that even St. Peter if he were now pope, could not grant greater graces is blasphemy against St. Peter and the pope.
  78. We say on the contrary that even the present pope, or any pope whatsoever, has greater graces at his disposal, that is, the gospel, spiritual powers, gifts of healing, etc., as it is written. (1 Co 12[:28])
  79. To say that the cross emblazoned with the papal coat of arms, and set up by the indulgence preachers is equal in worth to the cross of Christ is blasphemy.
  80. The bishops, curates, and theologians who permit such talk to be spread among the people will have to answer for this.
  81. This unbridled preaching of indulgences makes it difficult even for learned men to rescue the reverence which is due the pope from slander or from the shrewd questions of the laity.
  82. Such as: “Why does not the pope empty purgatory for the sake of holy love and the dire need of the souls that are there if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the sake of miserable money with which to build a church?” The former reason would be most just; the latter is most trivial.
  83. Again, “Why are funeral and anniversary masses for the dead continued and why does he not return or permit the withdrawal of the endowments founded for them, since it is wrong to pray for the redeemed?”
  84. Again, “What is this new piety of God and the pope that for a consideration of money they permit a man who is impious and their enemy to buy out of purgatory the pious soul of a friend of God and do not rather, beca use of the need of that pious and beloved soul, free it for pure love’s sake?”
  85. Again, “Why are the penitential canons, long since abrogated and dead in actual fact and through disuse, now satisfied by the granting of indulgences as though they were still alive and in force?”
  86. Again, “Why does not the pope, whose wealth is today greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build this one basilica of St. Peter with his own money rather than with the money of poor believers?”
  87. Again, “What does the pope remit or grant to those who by perfect contrition already have a right to full remission and blessings?”
  88. Again, “What greater blessing could come to the church than if the pope were to bestow these remissions and blessings on every believer a hundred times a day, as he now does but once?”
  89. “Since the pope seeks the salvation of souls rather than money by his indulgences, why does he suspend the indulgences and pardons previously granted when they have equal efficacy?”
  90. To repress these very sharp arguments of the laity by force alone, and not to resolve them by giving reasons, is to expose the church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies and to make Christians unhappy.
  91. If, therefore, indulgences were preached according to the spirit and intention of the pope, all these doubts would be readily resolved. Indeed, they would not exist.
  92. Away, then, with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Peace, peace,” and there is no peace! (Jer 6:14)
  93. Blessed be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Cross, cross,” and there is no cross!
  94. Christians should be exhorted to be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, death and hell.
  95. And thus be confident of entering into heaven through many tribulations rather than through the false security of peace (Acts 14:22).

Biblical memoirs

 

 

 

 

present by Alan Lyght

 

Monday October 23St. James of Jerusalem, Brother of Jesus and Martyr. St. James of Jerusalem (or “James the Just”) is referred to by St. Paul as “the Lord’s brother” (Galatians 1:19). Some modern theologians believe that James was a son of Joseph and Mary and, therefore, a biological brother of Jesus. But throughout most of the Church (historically, and even today), Paul’s term “brother” is understood as “cousin” or “kinsman,” and James is thought to be the son of a sister of Joseph or Mary who was widowed and had come to live with them. Along with other relatives of our Lord (except His mother), James did not believe in Jesus until after His resurrection (John 7:3-5, 1 Corinthians 15:7). After becoming a Christian, James was elevated to a position of leadership within the earliest Christian community. Especially following St. Peter’s departure from Jerusalem, James was recognized as the bishop of the Church in that holy city (Acts 12:17: 15:12ff.) According to the historian Joseph, James was martyred in AD 62 by being stoned to death by the Sadducees. James authored the Epistle in the New Testament that bears his name. In it, he exhorts his readers to remain steadfast in the one true faith, even in the face of suffering and temptation, and to live by faith the life that is in Christ Jesus. Such a fath, he makes clear, is a busy and active thing, which never ceases to do good, to confess the Gospel by words and actions, and to stake its life, both now and forever, in the cross.

For Wednesday October 25Dorcas (Tabitha), Lydia, and Phoebe, Faithful Women. These women were an exemplary  Christians who demonstrated their faith by their material support of the Church. Dorcas (also known as Tabitha) was well-known and much loved for her acts of charity in the city of Joppa, especially for making clothes for the poor. When Dorcas died suddenly, the members of her congregation sent to the neighboring city of Lydda for the apostle Peter, who came and raised her from the dead (Acts 9:36-41). Lydia was a woman of Thyatira, who worked at Philippi selling a famous purple dye that was much in demand in the ancient world. She was also a “worshiper”of God at the local synagogue (Acts 16:14). When  the Apostle Paul encountered her in prayer among other proselyte women, his preaching of the Word braught Lydia to faith in Christ. She and her friends thus became the nucleus of the Christian community in Philippi (Acts 16:13-15, 40). Phoebe was another faithful woman associated with the apostle Paul. She was a deaconess from Cenchreae (the post of Corinth) whom Paul sent to the Church in Rome with his Epistle to the Romans. In it, he writes of her support for the work of the Early Church (Romans 16:1-2).

Today Thursday October 26Philipp Nicolai, Johann Heermann, and Paul Gerhardt, Hymnwriters. Philipp Nicolai (1556-1608) was a pastor in Germany during the Great Plague, which took the lives of thirteen hundred of his parishioners during a six-month period. In addition to his heroic pastoral ministry during that time of stress and sorrow, he wrote the texts for “Wake, Awake, for Night Is Flying” and “O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright,” known, respectively, as the king and queen of the Lutheran chorales. Johann Heermann(1585-1647), also a German pastor, suffered from poor health as well as from the ravages of the Thirty Years’ War (1618-48). His hymn texts are noted for their tenderness and depth of feeling. Paul Gerhardt (1607-76) was another Lutheran pastor who endured the horrors of the Thirty Years’ War. By 1668, he had lost his pastoral position in Berlin (for refusing to compromise his Lutheran convictions) and endured the death of four of his five children and his wife. He nevertheless managed to write 133 hymns, all of which reflect his firm faith. Along with Martin Luther, he is regarded as one of Lutheranism’s finest hymnwriters.

Today Saturday October28St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles. In the lists of the twelve apostles (Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16; Acts 1:13), the tenth and eleventh places are occupied by Simon the Zealot (or “Cananaean”) and by Jude (or “Judas,” not Iscariot but “of James”), who was apparently known also as Thaddaeus. According to early Christian tradition, Simon and Jude journyed together as missionaries to Persia, where they were martyred. It is likely for this reason, at least in part, that these two apostles are commemorated on the same day. Simon is not mentioned in the New Testament apart from the lists of the twelve apostles. Thus he is remembered and honored for the sake of his office, and thereby stands before us – in eternity, as in his life and ministry on earth – in the name and stead of Christ Jesus, our Lord. We give thanks to God for calling and sending Simon, along with Jude and all of the apostles, to teach and preach the Holy Gospel, to to proclaim repentance and forgivenes, and to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (John 4:1-2; Matthew 10; 28:16-20; Luke 24:46-49). Jude appears in John’s Gospel (14:22) on the night of our Lord’s betrayal and the beginning of His Passion, asking Jesus how it is that He will manifest Himself to the deciples but not to the world. The answer that Jesus gives to this question is a pertinent emphasis for this festival day: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep my word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23). Surely both Jude and Simon exemplified, in life and death, their love for Jesus and their faith in His Word. Not only are we thus strengthened in our Christian faith and life by their example, we are encouraged by the faithfulness of the Lord in keeping His promise to them to bring them home to Himself in heaven. There they live with Him forever, where we shall someday join the

Biblical Memoir

For Tuesday October 17: Ignatious of Antioch, Pastor and Martyr. Ignatious was the bishop of Antioch in Syria at the beginning of the second century AD and an early Christian martyr. Near the end of the reign of the Roman Emperor Trajan (AD 98-117), Ignatious was arrested, taken in chains to Rome, and eventually thrown to the wild beasts in the arena. On the way to Rome, he wrote letters to the Christians at Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles, Rome, Philadelphia, and Smyrna, as well as to Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna. In the letters, which are beautifully pastoral in tone, Ignatious warned against certain heresies (false teachings). He also repeatedly stressed the full humanity and deity of Christ, the reality of Christ’s bodily presence in the Lord’s Supper, the supreme authority of the bishop, and the unity of the Church found in her bishops. Ignatious was the first to use the word catholic to describe the universality of the Church. His Christ-centeredness, his courage in the face of martyrdom, and his zeal for the truth over against false doctrine are a lasting legacy to the chuch.

For Wednesday October 18: St. Luke Evangelist.  St. Luke, the beloved physian referred to by St.Paul (Colossians 4:14), presents us with Jesus, whose blood provides the medicine of immortality. As his traveling companion, Paul claimed Luke’s Gospel as his own for its healing souls (Eusebius). Luke traveled with Paul during the second missionary journey, joining him after Paul received his Macedonian call to bring the Gospel to Europe (Acts 16:10-17). Luke most likely stayed behind in Philippi for seven years, rejoining Paul at the end of the third missionary journey in Macedonia. He traveled with Paul to Troas, Jarusalem, and Caesarea, where Paul was imprisoned for two years (Acts 20:5-21:18). While in Caesarea, Luke may have researched material that he used in his Gospel. Afterward, Luke accompanied Paul on his journey to Rome (Acts 27:1-28:16). Especially beloved in Luke’s Gospel are the stories of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37), the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16: 19-31), and the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18: 9-14). Only Luke provides a detailed account of Christ’s birth (Luke 2:1-20) and the canticles of Mary (Luke 1:46-55) , of Zechariah (Luke 1:68-79), and of Simeon (Luke 2:29-32). To show how Christ continued His work in the Early Church through the apostles, Luke also penned the Acts of the Apostles. More than one-third of the New Testament comes from the hand of the evangelist Luke.

Biblical Memoir for this coming week

For Saturday October 7Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, Pastor. Moving from the Old World to the New,  Henry Melchior Muhlenberg established the shape of Lutheran perishes for North America during a forty-five year ministry in Pennsylvania. Born at Einbeck, Germany, in 1711, he came to the American colonies in 1742. A tireless traveler, Muhlenberg helped to found many Lutheran congregations and was the guiding force behind the first Lutheran synod in North America, the Ministerium of Pennsylvania, founded in 1748. He valued the role of music in Lutheran worship (often serving as his own organist) and was also the guiding force in preparing the first American Lutheran liturgy (also in 1748). Muhlenberg is remembered as a church leader, a journalist, a liturgist, and-above all-a pastor to the congregation in his charge. He died in 1787, leaving behind a large extended family and a lasting heritage: American Lutherism.

For Monday October 9Abraham. Abraham (known early in his life as Abram) was called by God to become the father of a great nation (Genesis 12). At age seventy-five and in obedience to God’s command, he, his wife, Sarah, and his nephew Lot moved southwest from the town of Haran to the land of Canaan. There God established a covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15:18), promising the land of Canaan to his descendants. When Abraham was 100 and Sarah was ninety, they were blessed with Isaac, the son long promised to them by God. Abraham demonstrated supreme obedience when God commanded him to offer Isaac as a burnt offering. God spared the young man’s life only at the last moment and provided a ram as a substitute offering (Genesis 22:1-19). Abraham died at the age of 175 and was buried in the cave of Machpelah, which he had purchased earlier as a buriel site for Sarah. He is especially honored as the first of the three great Old Testament patriarchs-and for his righteousness before God through faith (Romans 4:1-12).

For Wednesday October 11Philip the Deacon. Philip, also called the evangelist (Acts 21:8), was one of the seven men appointed to assist in the work of the twelve apostles and of the rapidly growing Early Church by overseeing the distribution of food to the poor (Acts 6:1-6). Following the martyrdom of Stephen, Philip proclaimed the Gospel in Samaria and led Simon the Sorcerer to become a believer in Christ (Acts 8:4-13). He was also instrumental in bringing about the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-39), through whom Philip became indirectly responsible for bringing the Good News of Jesus to the people on the continent of Africa. In the town of Caesarea, he was host for several days to the apostle Paul, who stopped there on his last journey to Jerusalem (Acts 21: 8-15).

Today in Biblical Memoir

We are very excited to add this amazing feature to our Blog and social media presence.  Weekly, we will be posting Biblical history, the meaning of days, events and reason for daily Faith. Check out “Today in Biblical Memoir”. (Can be found on our Facebook too!!

For Friday September 29th, the following is recognized from the Treasury of Daily Prayer: St. Michael and All Angels : The name of the archangel St. Michael means “Who is like God?” Michael is mentioned in the book of Daniel (12:1), as well as in Jude (v.9) and Revelation (12:7). Daniel portrays Michael as the angelic helper of Israel who leads the battle against the forces of evil. In Revelation, Michael and his angels fight against and defeat Satan and the evil angels, driving them from heaven. Their victory is made possible by Christ’s own victory over Satan in His death and resurrection, a victory announced by the voice in heaven: “Now the salvation and the power and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ  have come” Revelation (12:10). Michael is often associated with Gabriel and Raphael , the other chief angels who surround the throne of God. Tradition names Michael as the patron and the protector of the Church, especially as the protector of Christians at the hour of death.

Propers for use with Matins and Vespers: Antiphon He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. (Psalm (1:11) Responsory L: The Lord Jesus will be reveald from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire. (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8) When the Lord Jesus comes on that day to be glorified in His saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed. (2 Thessalonians 1:10) Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. C: For He will command His angels concerning you to gurad you in all your ways. (Psalm 91:11)

Today, Saturday September 30, from the Treasury of Daily Prayer  we recognize Jerome, Translator of Holy Scripture. Jerome was born in a little village on the Adriatic Sea around A.D. 345. At a young age, he went to study in Rome, where he was baptized. After extensive travels, he chose the life of a monk and spent five years in the Syrian Desert. There he learned Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament. After ordination at Antioch and visits to Rome and Constantinople, Jerome settled in Bethlehem. From the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, he used his ability with languages to translate the Bible into Latin, the common language of this time. This translation, called the Vulgate, was the authoritative version of the Bible in the Western Church for more than a thousand years. Concidered one of the great scholars of the Early Church, Jerome died on September 30, 420. He was originally interred at Bethlehem, but his remains were eventually taken to Rome.

Alan Lyght