Friday Musings

A couple of random, Internet-inspired thoughts today.

The first is just to share two beautiful poems I stumbled across today.  First, a touching picture of divisions within the Church and how they play out in the Christian life.   A book I’m finishing (and will blog about shortly) emphasizes the very real, very actual expectation that Christians will live together differently.  In our homes, in our communities, and most of all in our Churches.  What a horrible, ugly, painful failure it is when we are unable or unwilling to do so.  The second is a poem by Wendell Berry, an author I have been telling myself for years that I will purchase one or more of his books.  I’m always struck by his way of expressing himself and his ideas.  I really need to do that.

Secondly, while I have a great deal of respect and admiration for the Roman Catholic Church, and in particular the way her doctrines of sexuality and marriage interrelate in a way Protestantism frankly disappoints, I don’t agree with other major aspects of her doctrine.  Such as the idea that I owe God particular things in worship participation.  Rather than talking about the blessing of receiving the grace of God in Word and Sacrament as often as possible, this is an example of the legalism that is easy to substitute for such grace.  Worship becomes not a gift of God that we should joy to participate in, but rather a legal obligation – with all the attendant nit-picking about the precise nature of what fulfills  that legal obligation.

I trust there are plenty of Roman Catholics who worship out of joy and in response to God’s love rather than an institutional demand, but I ache for those who are weighed down by the guilt inherent in worship obligations.


2 Responses to “Friday Musings”

  1. Fr. Victor Feltes Says:


    Like yourself, I pray for the reunion of Christians. I hope this reply may relieve any scandal taken from my article you linked.

    I believe that when Jesus says “do this in memory of me” he wills for his Church to all gather together as one. By his Church, he tells us when to; namely Sundays and other Holy Days. And, without a serious reason, “we should not stay away from our assembly, as is the custom of some…” (Hebrews 10:25)

    The Lord’s three pilgrimage festivals in the Old Covenant obliged his often-busy people to journey far to Jerusalem. He insisted on their attendance so they would experience the gifts these Holy Days were. Some Jews may have felt this a burden, but their faithful observance gave their hearts an opportunity to be transformed by encountering him there.

    Both Holy Days and Holy Marriage entail complexity. For example, what degrees of blood or familial relationship preclude a marriage? Or, can a marriage ever be nullified once vowed, and under what circumstances? Questions arise from fuller considerations of Marriage and Holy Days not because these are legalistic contrivances but because they are precious, sacred gifts of God.

    I wrote my brief article because some “may be wondering” about their obligations given this year’s calendar. Some ask in order to plan accordingly out of love for our Lord, while some ask hoping to get out of something. That is why I mentioned in my extremely succinct note “Jesus’ gift list.” Our faithful observance is a gift to him and may entail some measure of sacrifice but Jesus hopes to give us surpassing gifts in return.

    God bless

    • mrpaulnelson Says:

      Fr. Feltes – Thank you for your response! I do look forward to the return of our Lord and the reunification of His people as our efforts towards it are frail at best. I appreciate you taking the time to flesh out your post for me and my readers. Your post was very brief and to the point, which was your intention as opposed to a theological discussion on obligation as defined by the Church. The duty and privilege of the Church to speak in areas or to degrees that Scripture is not as elaborate or thorough on is a challenging one, at best. I trust the intentions of Church tradition in stating things in terms of obligation is out of love and encouragement to the individual members of the body of Christ. I worry more about what gets lost in translation.

      God’s blessings to you as well as we begin our Advent journey!

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