Thursday, August 25, 2005

A Day for Eucharistic Hospitality


This Eucharist at the funeral of Brother Roger of Taizé is a poignant example of the way Christians practice better than their offical policies allow when more important things are at stake.

Thank God that Taizé, Kaspar ("The Friendly Cardinal"), and Brother Roger have graced the earth in these days. May we all take heed of the humble example.

At His Funeral, Brother Roger Has an Ecumenical Dream Fulfilled

TAIZÉ, France, Aug. 23 - Brother Roger Schutz pursued many ecumenical dreams in his long life, but in death one of them came true: At a Eucharistic service celebrated Tuesday by a Roman Catholic cardinal for Brother Roger, a Swiss Protestant, communion wafers were given to the faithful indiscriminately, regardless of denomination.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, the president of the Vatican's council for the unity of Christians, who celebrated the Mass, said in a homily, "Yes, the springtime of ecumenism has flowered on the hill of Taizé." Beyond religious divisions, Brother Roger also abhorred the division between rich and poor. "Every form of injustice or neglect made him very sad," Cardinal Kasper said.

Brother Roger's community and friends, including President Horst Köhler of Germany and the retired archbishop of Paris, Jean-Marie Lustiger, attended the liturgy in the vast wooden monastery church at Taizé, while thousands more followed it on a huge screen in fields outside the church.

Brother Roger was 90 when he was stabbed to death by a Romanian woman, Luminita Solcan, 36, during an evening service in the church one week ago. His successor, the Rev. Alois Leser, a Roman Catholic priest from Germany, prayed for forgiveness: "With Christ on the cross we say to you, Father, forgive her, she does not know what she did."

The gathering here in the hills of eastern France under leaden, showery skies reflected the spirit, and also the popularity, of Brother Roger, the son of a Swiss Calvinist pastor, who first gathered followers here in 1940. The monastic community here encompasses about 90 members from 20 or so countries and virtually every Christian denomination. Four Roman Catholic priests from among the members celebrated the funeral Mass with Cardinal Kasper.

Brother Roger's simple wooden coffin, a wooden icon lying upon it, was carried into the church by brothers. It was followed by a group of Romanian children who had been visiting the community when Brother Roger was killed.

Brother Roger founded Taizé as a monastic order only a 10-minute drive from Cluny, the site of Europe's largest and best-known monastic abbey before its destruction during the French Revolution. In the 1970's, Taizé developed into a pilgrimage site where people from different countries and faiths gathered annually at Easter. Many returned, in sadness, on Tuesday. Holding candles, they followed his coffin in procession to the Taizé cemetery.

Petra Simmert, a schoolteacher from southern Germany, came with her husband and two children. She is Protestant, he Catholic; one child is Catholic, the other Protestant. "We're an ecumenical family," she said, with a laugh. Watching the funeral of Pope John Paul II on television, they saw Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, give communion to Brother Roger, even though he was not Catholic. "That struck us," she said.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Political Assassination in Jesus' Name

Pat Robertson

Pat Robertson has been on television lately praying for further vacancies on the United States Supreme Court. Now this naturally would entail the untimely demise of lifetime-appointed justices or at least adverse circumstances leading to retirement, but Robertson has been humble enough to not specify terms for the Almighty in his supplications.

Today, however, Robertson seems not to have taken Doug Lewellyn's advice. Not content with taking his case to the heavenly court, he now thinks that we should take the law (and the sword) into our own hands with regard to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez:

"You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it," Robertson said. "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... and I don't think any oil shipments will stop."

It's a good thing that Jesus Christ isn't as tempermental as the Hon. Judge Wapner or he would have ordered Rusty the baliff to pistol whip Pat Robertson by now.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Infant Baptism and Dedications

Some Reformed/ Presbyterian congregations are moving to practice both infant baptism and infant dedications. Here are some stray thoughts that I contributed to a discussion regarding the validity of this practice:

First, baptism is a sign and symbol of incorporation into the Church. As a rite of initiation, it functions as the formal basis of our unity in Christ ("One faith, one Lord, one baptism" and all that). To introduce an alternative rite of initiation (though one may not call it that) would effectively create a "two peoples of God" situation which the book of Galatians is intended to counter.

Second, because baptism is a sign and symbol of our incorporation into the Church, it is the formal ground of accountability to the Church and its leadership. Put simply, an unbaptized adolescent would have no formal accountability to the elders of a local Reformed congregation and could not be considered a member, be disciplined, or commune at the Eucharist. Conversely, the vows taken in an infant dedication to raise a given child in the fear and admonition of the Lord would be improperly taken by the congregation because the formal disciplinary component of that responsibility could not be assumed over a child who, at least notionally, must be regarded as a non-Christian.

Third, by creating an either/or choice for parents, we further cater to our culture's penchant for Enlightenment individualism and consummerism. Being part of the people of God requires a critical subordination of the self (Descartes' self-constituting ego) to Christ and to the Body of Christ. This failure of koinonia or
communion was the precise error condemned by St. Paul in 1Corinthians ("Eating and drinking judgment to oneself" and all that). The sacramental component of baptism teaches us that Christianity is all about what God does to us and for us in Christ and not what one chooses for oneself.

Fourth, our culture's deep suspicion of embodiment and of Christianity's sacramental imagination are further eroded when we short sell the sacraments. God really does complete his redemptive work via the agency of physical rites, acts, and gifts. This would be true regardless of whether we speak of the formal sacraments of
Baptism and Eucharist or the foundational sacraments of the Incarnation and the Church.


Thursday, August 11, 2005

"Life in the abbey comes first..."

The priority of communio. Thank God that such people exist in the world.

Belgian monks run out of the world's best beer

Thu Aug 11,10:06 AM ET

Monks at a Belgian abbey have been forced to stop selling their famous beer after it was voted the best in the world and was promptly sold out.

The abbey of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren in western Belgium is home to some 30 Cistercian and Trappist monks who lead a life of seclusion, prayer, manual labour -- and beer-brewing.

A survey of thousands of beer enthusiasts from 65 countries on the RateBeer Web site ( in June rated the Westvleteren 12 beer as the world's best.

But the abbey only has a limited brewing capacity, and was not able to cope with the beer's sudden popularity.

"Our shop is closed because all our beer has been sold out," said a message on the abbey's answering machine, which it calls the "beer phone".

And the abbey has no intention of boosting its capacity to satisfy market demand. "We are not brewers, we are monks. We brew beer to be able to afford being monks," the father abbot said on the abbey's Web site.

Monk Mark Bode told De Morgen daily: "Outsiders don't understand why we are not raising production. But for us life in the abbey comes first, not the brewery."

The Ironies of "The Rapture Index"

The Rapture Index

I was checking in on the "Rapture Index" today and discovered that the death of John Paul II merited a bump in the "false prophesy/false teaching" category.

Ironically, I found this admonition regarding the Trinity and the Church elsewhere in the sight...

A good church will teach the doctrine of the Trinity. This means that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are three distinct beings but are one. This is a difficult truth to wrap our feeble human minds around, but it is biblical and must be accepted in faith. It will be made clear to us when we meet the Lord! See, Matthew 28:18, 19 and Romans 5:5-8.

Not that I am one to quibble unnecessarily, but I think the drift of "the rapture index" into polytheism merits another couple of points in the false prophesy/false teaching and in the ecumenism/world religions categories.



I took this picture while on vacation the last week of July. I am not well-traveled by any means, but if I could select a place to retire to write it would be Northern Michigan. I dont mind five feet of snow in winter and wasn't bad hanging out in 75F degree weather while the thermometer topped 103F in St. Louis.

Mackinac Bridge


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Abbot Gregory's Cloister

Welcome to everyone. Hopefully you found me OK.

Before becoming Pope Gregory I ("The Great"), Gregory was Abbot of St. Andrews. My website and this blogsite are named for him.