Thursday, May 17, 2012
Ecumenism and Tradtion
Before I continue, I should clarify two points. The first is that the Catholic Church itself is quite aware of the debt of gratitude that we owe to the Jews. Pope Benedict often refers to them as our elder brethren in faith, and much of our liturgy, and that of other liturgical churches, is based dirently on Jewish tradition (but others are much more qualified to talk about this than I am), and because the Jewish customs were instituted by God himself, Catholics are allowed to participate in them (even though they are not necessary for salvation). The second is that the Catholic Church is quite aware that other Christians are real Christians. The Pope himself has written about the gifts that other types of Christians have brought to the faith. Also, not believing that other Christians are true Christians is grounds for excommunication from the Catholic Church. The problem, then, is not with the Catholic Church, but with many of its members.
A Christian is a follower of Christ. A Catholic is a follower of Christ with the theological views of the Roman Catholic Church. I sincerely believe these theological views to be correct, which is why I am a Catholic. Unfortunately, Catholics all to often present their faith as a collection of rosaries, novenas, and other prayers which, although perfectly good, are by no means the only good prayers for Catholics to say. Similarly, Gregorian chant is by no means the only form of good music for Catholics to sing.
Charles Wesley was a reformer from within the Anglican church (he did not fight the Catholic Church, and therefore he is usually ignored by Catholic education programs). Much of what he taught was very, well, Catholic. He fought against Calvinist predestinationism, for example. He also followed the seasons of the church year, and he taught that marriage is a sacrament.
The great gift of the Lutherans to Christianity was also one of hymns and music. In fact, they were the first people to have liturgical hymns with poetry (because hymn lyrics are poetry) written in the vernacular language (in the case of my ancestors, German) for congregational singing. Many Catholics are familiar with “A Mighty Fortress is our God.” All Catholics are familiar with “Now Thank we all our God” (to the point that this song becomes boring, since it is one of the only chorales that most Catholics know). These chorales are frequently attached to the liturgical year, something which Lutherans share with their Catholic brethren.
Wachet Auf (Karl Richter, Müncher Bach-Chor)
An Ecumenical Artist
Perhaps the best example of this is his chorale “Es wird ein Stern aus Jakob aufgehen” (“A Star will go forth from Jacob”), which comes from the Epiphany section of his unfinished oratorio “Christus.”
Es wird ein Stern aus Jakob aufgehen (Neeber-Schuler-Chor)
Perhaps the reader is now asking, why is any of this important?