Ceremony in the Divine Service
“I was raised Catholic, but, I dunno. Mass is just … well, it’s so much ceremony.”
This was overheard at a recent get-together. You may have heard a similar sentiment directed at the Lutheran Divine Service and its faithful use of liturgy. It seems that ceremony can be a bit of a deterrent to some, especially in our casual culture. But I would argue that it is the very ceremony of the Divine Service that beckons and invites those outside the Church in.
After all, many things in life involve ceremony, especially that other thing that is taking over our Sundays—sports.
Sports and Ceremony
There is a routine and structure to a sports game, especially in professional leagues. Each game involves a closely followed set of rules. Every player has a position, and gestures are carefully used to signal plays, pitches, or even fouls. Teams wear particular clothing in particular colors, and their jerseys even change depending on where they are playing. There is a specific structure to the beginning of each game, such as a coin toss or ceremonial first pitch. Frequently, music plays an important role too, like the national anthem, players’ walk-up songs, and the ubiquitous seventh-inning-stretch performance of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”
All these things are widely accepted and celebrated. Yet there are those who balk at the ceremony in the Divine Service, which also prizes physical position, employs gestures to help communicate, utilizes specific clothing in specific colors at different times of the year, follows a special opening structure, enlists music, and involves a closely followed, traditional set of rules.
Ceremony Gives Meaning
But maybe you are one who doesn’t care much for sports. In that case, consider all the other everyday things that involve ceremony. Families find traditional structures during holidays, daily meals typically involve a set order, and even a morning routine involves a certain amount of ceremony. Ceremony gives structure and order to the things we do in our life. Although ceremonial actions are not essential to life in the same way water or oxygen may be, they give meaning to life. We would not survive long without meaning.
The ceremony of the Divine Service shows how important it is. It sets it apart from everything else we see in life. In this way, the ceremony of the Divine Service is actually a great welcome to those from the outside. It says to them, come in, you will find something different here. If the Divine Service only took its cues from the rest of the current culture, there would be no point in it. Instead, it offers people something different from their normal lives. It shows them that it has a significance they can only find in the Church. Arthur A. Just Jr. writes in Heaven on Earth: The Gifts of Christ in the Divine Service:
Our worship must immediately proclaim to our unbelieving neighbors that something is happening in the liturgy that happens nowhere else in all of creation. God, who is everywhere, chooses to locate Himself in the liturgy in Word and Sacraments.” (p. 26)
God is giving us His greatest gift in the Word and Sacrament; the ceremony of the Divine Service proclaims that.
Different Levels of Ceremony
That’s not to say that everyone will appreciate extravagant ceremony. In fact, while some Lutheran churches are very “high church,” many Lutheran churches have a little less ceremony. This reflects the make-up of the congregation—perhaps it is smaller and has fewer resources to conduct all the bells and whistles highly ceremonial churches use; perhaps the people themselves are a community that appreciates a more toned-down, but still reverent, approach. Whatever the case may be, ceremony can still be shown even if it is not with great extravagance.
Due reverence is important, and guiding people to that due reverence with a certain amount of ceremony is beneficial for the congregation. Forcing a high level of ceremony on every congregation is not. Some people may find a church’s high level of affectation in its ceremony disingenuous. Perhaps this is what the woman who spoke the opening sentence perceived in the Roman Catholic mass, although it is a messy thing to consider what is beautiful reverence and what is pretension.
Ceremony Shows What We Think Is Important
Ultimately, though, ceremony is necessary because it shows that something important is happening. If we take the Divine Service seriously, we will naturally appreciate the ceremony—and this in turn will show our neighbors what we deem important, namely, the gift of Jesus Christ’s salvation. Just continues in Heaven on Earth:
Our neighbor from the highways and byways must see that no more important business is being carried out in the world than the business transacted in the liturgy proclaimed for the life of the world. If our liturgy does not express this, then we cannot expect our visiting neighbors to return to our liturgy. If they do not see a world made new in Jesus Christ in the gifts of salvation, then they will not desire to enter into catechesis that prepares them to receive the justifying gifts of Christ in Baptism and to celebrate a world made new in Christ in the Eucharist. (pp. 26-27)
Ceremony can turn off those who are not used to it, but it is only through ceremony that we show these same people that there is something worthwhile happening when we participate in the Divine Service. More than our morning coffee routine, more than our family Thanksgiving dinner, more than even the Super Bowl, we are receiving the only gift that offers us eternal salvation.
Quotations from Heaven on Earth: The Gifts of Christ in the Divine Service © 2008 Arthur A. Just Jr., published by Concordia Publishing House.
Learn more about the Divine Service with the authoritative English translation of Friedrich Lochner’s The Chief Divine Service.
Marie Greenway has worked and volunteered as a church musician since childhood. She graduated from Hillsdale College with a degree in music and was formerly the music teacher at Immanuel Lutheran School in Alexandria, Virginia.
C.F.W. Walther was, effectively, the first president of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. From pretty much the beginning of when the church arrived from Germany they faced “discord”. Sometimes people are all about what they want and think, no matter how ill-advised or just not knowing what they’re doing. To a current pastor it’s assuring to know it’s not just me but goes back to those who were the leaders and movers.
I do have one quick observation. Quite often you have people who chose to cause this discord. They have no idea of what they’re doing or talking about. They’ve never discussed any concerns with anyone, they simply shoot from the lip about their opinion, then let the debris fall where it may. Generally it’s people who really have no experience working in an organization or a team environment. They’ve always been about themselves and feel no need to change. I will say this much, I really wonder what they think they are accomplishing. Further I have to fear for them when they are standing in the judgment, how is Jesus going to see their attempt at trying to undermine His church or one of His ministers. I’m certainly not saying ministers are infallible. However, you better know what you’re talking about, and be prepared for genuine work in terms of bringing about and implementing change. Creating discord and trying to undermine a ministry is not going to be well received when you are in the presence of the Lord for judgment.
I’ve posted another blog where the author is describing the Scriptural discussion on causing discord and trying to undermine a ministry.
Walther offers his observations on his experience with those who are just about creating discord:
“Unfortunately, there are far too many people who think that if they did not instigate discord and especially if the offender does not take the first step toward reconciliation, then it is not their fault if they cannot live in peace with the offender. If they are obvious non-Christians, they rejoice when it does not go well for their offender. They watch for a suitable opportunity when they can repay him the injustice he did them. If they are not Christians who carefully guard themselves, they often allow a bitter root to grow up in their heart against their offender, from which bitter fruits are produced. This is especially true if they have been insulted by a Christian. It is usually the case that careless Christians can no longer, from their hearts, pray for their offender all his temporal and spiritual needs. They are no longer able to rejoice with him, to speak to him in a friendly manner, and to do good to him. Such Christians are of the opinion that only their offender bears responsibility for the discord.
But what does Saint Paul say in today’s reading? [Romans 12: 16-21]’Live in harmony with one another.’ “Therefore,’ repay no one evil for evil.” We see fro this that even is a person has not provided the first occasion for discord, if he lets the offense that he has suffered at the hands of his neighbor serve as an excuse for not loving him as before and for not being friendly to him in deeds and words, that person has not done “so far as it depends on you” to live in peace with all men.
In the concluding words of our text, the apostle makes two points. First, he says, ‘Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” If the Christian wants to be peace-loving in God’s eyes, he dare not repay his offender with the least evil, even if the offense was ever so great and grievous. Either the offense is not worth the strife, or else it earns God’s wrath and punishment. In the event that the offense deserves the latter, the Christian must give way to God’s wrath. He must not take the least bit of revenge himself, seizing God’s office and thus hindering Him by taking vengeance on the evil by himself. A Christian must value peace and harmony so highly that he will suffer considerable harm if he thereby purchase peace and harmony.
Yet even this is not enough. Saint Paul demands still more. He says: ‘To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” If a Christian wants to be peace-loving in God’s eyes, he must repay evil with good. The darker and more sullen the offender is against him, the more friendly the Christian must show himself toward his offender. He must not become tired of heaping coals of fire on his antagonist’s head, overwhelming him with love and benefits to the extent that he is finally conquered by that love, moved to give up his wrath and prompted to love the person he offended.
Oh, if only all Christians would do all they can to live in peace with their neighbors, then peace would bloom in all hearts, in homes and in families, in cities and in congregations, throughout the world.”
I have to admit, I did kind of smirk at Walther’s comment that one shouldn’t tire of heaping coals on his antagonist’s head. I know, I’m bad. If I was one of those people who always seems to have a problem, always seems to be trying to undermine, they better check on how they are being the problem and how Jesus is going to judge that. Do you really want to say, “well Jesus I undermined that ministry because I didn’t like the pastor”. Do you really want to imagine how that’s going to be received?
This article is certainly a commentary on life today. One really sad comment, from a GenXer, “I find I’ve become fussier as I’ve gotten older. My time feels more precious,”. This is from someone who is 42-57 years old. Ya Grandpa, I think you’re still a little young to think like that. This writer: “Friendship takes too much time away from my own thoughts, time in life, is limited, I don’t want to spend my time building relationships beyond my family.” Sorry but that whole paragraph is a rationalizing crock. I understand “time” and yes it takes time for friends, but the time I take with those people who are important to me as friends gives me such a huge lift. And I am very blessed to have friends who are great people. I have found as a church pastor how lonely people are, they chose to be isolated most of their lives, now in their older years they are alone. I did a funeral for an elderly woman, had gone to the church I now pastor, never met her, or knew about her. A niece who did the funeral planning and who lived way out of state and one other person were at the funeral or acknowledged her passing. I am noticing this a lot at funerals, covid not withstanding. I would accept that the article is true, that lack of friends results in damaging physical stress. But I also find a lot of people elderly people and otherwise, all age groups, who have no one to check on them, have never made relationships in their life, but they then expect people to ply them with support in their time of need. We are there to support each other, especially as Christians, for those in our churches. If you’re going to have the attitude that you are so self-involved as the previous writer, I hope you’re not going to expect people to rush to you in your time of need. There probably will be people to help you and they probably will be Christians, but obsession with self is going to make you a very lonely, bitter, sad person and let’s face it, there are too many of those people around now, and I would say the number of them will only increase. This article ends with a “need someone call this number”. I would suggest find a good, Bible teaching church near you and call them. I would suggest a Lutheran Missouri Synod to assure you are receiving genuine, solid Scripture teaching. Sunday, April 11, 2021Why is it so hard to make friends? In a year when so many viruses have been exposed, researchers keep returning to one in particular: the epidemic of loneliness. It’s the twist of the knife behind so many societal ills, from depression to addiction to violence, and as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. One study found nearly 36 percent of Americans felt it was “hard” or “very hard” to make friendships. Today we diagnose the roots of loneliness and search for solutions. And should you ever need a friend, you have one in me — write anytime.
Nick Fouriezos, Senior Editor
who is hurting, and why1. Challenges Across GenerationsLoneliness is so serious that both Japan and Britain have named “ministers of loneliness” in recent years. Former British Prime Minister Theresa May launched the position because more than 9 million Britons reported often or always feeling lonely (with 4 million of them being over 50 ). The U.K. isn’t alone. A study of older adults in 11 high-income countries showed high levels of social isolation in France (31 percent), Australia (25 percent) and the United States (21 percent). And counterintuitively, seniors aren’t bearing the brunt of this: Over a third of Americans reported “serious loneliness” in a recent Harvard survey, including 51 percent of mothers with young children and 61 percent of young adults aged 18 to 25. A number of organizations have been formed to combat loneliness by connecting old and young, with older netizens serving as remote pen pals, homework helpers and mentors.
2. Our FindingsNearly half. That’s the portion of more than 300 OZY readers who said this week in a survey that making friends is “hard.” Only 30 percent said it was “easy.” The challenge of making friends has gotten harder with age, the majority said. Some of that challenge is self-inflicted: “I find I’ve become fussier as I’ve gotten older. My time feels more precious,” one Gen Xer said. But, for others, finding the outlets for forging friendships is the hard part. “Creating new friendships requires new settings, and as I age I find my willingness to experience new things dwindles,” said another Gen Xer. “This, combined with a lack of trust in people earned by difficult experience have made me less willing to take a chance on others,” the reader explained.
3. HikikomoriIn Japan, the term hikikomori — combining the verb hiki, to “withdraw,” and komori, to be inside — is used to describe Japanese youth, mostly men, who isolate themselves from society. It first gained attention in the ’90s, when an economic recession led to career setbacks throughout Japan. With the world’s fastest-aging population, coupled with a loneliness epidemic among seniors, Japan’s insurance companies offer landlords packages to cover missed rents from tenants who die alone at home. A cottage industry has emerged in response to the hikikomori, from a $2,800 holographic pop star turned companion to rent-a-sister services in which women help hikikomori rejoin society by dragging them out of their bedrooms for $250 a session. That may seem strange … although if it is, then so is spending $2,500 to get a Cameo callout from Caitlyn Jenner.
4. Lacking LanguageYou can’t imagine what you can’t say, so perhaps the friendship problem relates to a lack of the right words. English, the most commonly spoken language in the world, for example, has only one word for love. But the ancient Greeks had six, including philia, or deep friendship. Still, that’s no match for Sanskrit, which has 96, many of which examine the nuances of platonic love. The Mandarin word yuánfèn, 缘分, refers to a relationship ordained by fate or destiny. In other words, one between kindred souls. What new words would you create to signify loving friendship? Email us your thoughts here.
5. ‘Intimacy’ for HireThe booming boyfriends-for-rent business is throwing Chinese helicopter parents off the scent. Young Chinese women, facing intense pressure to couple up in their 20s, enlist men to play the part for needed occasions. One Alibaba blogger recounted the $264 (roughly 1,500 yuan) per day experience, which came with undivided attention but barred “dodgy” physical contact. Still, such services — and the parental pressure necessitating them — force women to perform dog-and-pony shows that could underscore rampant loneliness. In the United States, cuddling is now commoditized by Cuddle Comfort, an app that brings physical contact to your door the way Uber Eats brings burgers and wings.
6. InsomniacsFor those who struggle with sleep — an ailment that increased during COVID — the bias toward daytime social activity can feel too real. Alone with their thoughts at night, people are increasingly turning toward more manufactured connections. The Sleep With Me podcast began with host Drew Ackerman playing “your boring drunk friend,” as he put it, to help lull listeners to sleep. More recently, the TikTok user @mackickinback amassed more than 1 million followers posting videos of her reading bedtime stories and wishing people a good night in soothing ways. She’s a college student who previously posted kink-normalizing content, and perhaps it says something about loneliness that she left social media in recent months to preserve her mental health.
7. On the MoveMillennials and Gen Z experience higher rates of anxiety than Gen X and baby boomers, an anxiousness that manifests in social settings as much as in educational or career environments. Social mobility plays a role too: A 2015 survey by friendship app Patook found that more than half of those who had spent less than five years in a place found it difficult to find friends, while it was much easier for those who stayed in place longer. Millennials are moving more than past generations, although more of the workforce across all ages is mobile. Many OZY readers suggest recent moves for jobs or to retire had left them socially unmoored: “I moved to a different state after retirement to be physically closer to my son,” one said. “Most of the people my age have lived here their entire adult lives and have lifelong friends. It is difficult to feel like I fit in.”
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SHOP NOWwhat has changed
1. PrioritiesIn 1977, the majority of college students placed friends above family, religion or work as key to a meaningful life in interviews conducted by the psychologist Eric Klinger. Four decades later, in 2017, Americans placed family (69%), career (34%), money (23%) and faith (20%) above friendship (19%). “Friendships are hard to maintain with so many competing demands on my time,” said one OZY reader and parent of 11-year-old twins who also works and volunteers, and whose closest friends are half a continent away. “We stay in touch by phone and with infrequent visits.”
2. TechnologyA friend recently told me he felt there were two ages of the internet: when he had it in his pocket, and when he didn’t. The smartphone has changed our relationships, keeping us connected every moment of every day — but perhaps not as meaningfully connected, as research and anecdotes suggest that social media interactions provide only a mirage of connectivity. There are real benefits, with people finding new online communities around shared hobbies, such as cooking or birding. Knowing that your childhood or college friends are only a click away may have also shifted the risk vs. reward equation of making new friends. “I think social media has made it harder to have real friends not just for people my age but for people of all ages,” said one boomer in our survey. “Social media has created a situation where someone could have 400 friends on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and be totally lonely.”
3. Neighborly NormsWith your social needs partially met, albeit unsatisfactorily, by digital relationships, is it worth suffering through the awkwardness of speaking to strangers to become friends with people in your new neighborhood? Many Americans say it’s not, as 66 percent reported they don’t know their neighbors in one survey (an especially odd fact, given that most people settle in neighborhoods with people who share their partisan beliefs ). People in the Midwest are most likely to know their neighbors, with 36 percent saying they consider them as friends, which may also be tied to the fact that Midwesterners are the most likely to stay in their hometowns.
4. Strained BudgetsIn Speaking of Friendship, women’s studies experts Mary Strong and Helen Gouldner describe middle-class adults as having “friendship budgets” — the time they can allot to new friends after taking work, families and prior friends into account. Surging inequality has only added stress to that limited budget, as childcare prices have skyrocketed and more couples both work to meet rising costs. Plus, people making less and paying more means less expendable income to engage in old forms of making friends — a trend calcified by COVID-19, as more than 40 percent of people who spent money on movies, event tickets or at bars now say they plan to spend less on those activities.
READ MORE ON OZYreap the benefits of a sustainable closet
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BUY NOWruminations on friendship1. Ball w/o YouThe rapper 21 Savage examines a failed friendship in this 2018 track, rapping that he prefers loyalty, the action, over love, the emotion: “You can love or hate me and still have my back,” he sings. “I would have went to war with the world on your call. Thought you had my back, you let me fall.” The Atlanta-raised Grammy Award winner emphasizes friendship over romance, while underscoring the little things that define a relationship, such as shooting hoops, with his tragic refrain: “Now I gotta ball without you.”
2. What About Your Friends?The TLC classic was written by Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes and Dallas Austin early on, previewing the empowering style — somehow combining edgy and playful effortlessly — that would help launch the ’90s band into becoming one of the bestselling American girl groups of all time. The third single on their debut album reflects on friendships tested as their circumstances change. The song suggests fame and fortune won’t rock real relationships, and despite going bankrupt in 1995 and then dormant in the early aughts, the band indeed mounted a comeback together — although without Lopes, who died in a 2002 car accident.
3. I Am a Meme Now — and So Are YouTim Kreider writes about the surreal experience of having his words — “If we want the rewards of being loved, we have to submit to the mortifying ordeal of being known” — taken out of context and made into a massively popular Gen Z meme. His reflections, particularly that such emotional intimacy seemed to convey a “greater-than-normal horror of human interaction peculiar to internet generations,” are worth considering in relation to elusive friendships.
4. Both Sides NowThe Joni Mitchell tune is an old ode to love, but lost in its more famous lines is a dissection of the war time wages on friendships. “But now old friends are acting strange. They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed,” the Canadian artist sings. Life stages change relationships. Her resolution “that something’s lost, but something’s gained, in living every day” quells some of the existential angst.
5. When Harry Met SallyThe 1989 Nora Ephron romantic comedy debates whether men and women can be friends but is really a reflection on the essence of friendship itself — from the two eponymous characters to the close friends who guide them through a dozen formative years. “Anyway, it’s about old friends,” as Sally says in the film’s climactic scene, while “Auld Lang Syne” plays on.
attempts to connect
1. Acti-FriendsThe Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death led to mass gatherings of people united in their fight against racial injustice … which is why it’s not surprising many of those activists formed friendships born from that experience. Job losses led to extra free time for many Americans, who responded by volunteering in record amounts in 2020, with the American Red Cross alone seeing a 20 percent jump in new volunteer applications. Nonprofit websites that foster friendship abound, such as the U.K.-based Samaritans, which offers phone services for those in distress, and the India-founded Granny Cloud, which helps “granny” volunteers conduct virtual classes with underprivileged youth worldwide.
2. Better Social MediaTinder feels heartless, Yik Yak quickly descended into hate speech, Reddit is too often misogynistic. Is there a safe space on the internet for genuine friendship that also bridges the generational divide? Apps have emerged promising better vibes, from Librex, which seeks to promote “authentic conversations and discourse,” to Unmasked, an anonymous app fostering conversations around mental health. Still to be determined? Clubhouse, which has seen sexism and racism but has also prompted unfettered conversations for pro-democracy activists worldwide, particularly in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
READ MORE ON OZY3. The Critical Role of DnDThe massively popular YouTube show “Critical Role” documents a bunch of voice actor friends who play Dungeons & Dragons each week. Their program exploded into a stand-alone media brand after raising more than $11 million in 45 days on Kickstarter in 2019. And as DnD groups split up during the pandemic, either due to shutdowns or members moving away, players increasingly shifted online. Virtual DnD platforms such as Roll20.net provided a crucial lifeline, as did other online versions of popular games such as Settlers of Cataan and Pandemic, helping friends stay in touch even as in-person interactions were limited.
4. Shared MelodiesWhen an Italian living in London heard his neighbor play the piano through their shared wall, he left a note asking if they could play “My Heart Will Go On” at a specific time. Without knowing anything about each other, the pair began playing a duet at 2 p.m. each weekend. Finally, after weeks, the duo met: Giorgio Lo Porto and Emil, a 78-year-old Polish man who was living there temporarily after losing his wife to COVID in December. They played one last duet, Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata,” before Emil moved out in February. The story has a tearful ending, as Lo Porto shared in mid-March that he had gotten word that Emil had passed, “and now he is reunited with his wife.” It serves as a reminder of the way music can treat loneliness, and connections can be made without saying a single word.
5. Robots and Virtual RealityPeople often think of artificial intelligence and virtual reality as the province of youngsters. But the real market should be baby boomers who, while perhaps lacking some technical proficiencies, could benefit most from connectivity tech. That’s why the AARP has invested in VR programs like Alcove, which uses an Oculus headset to stream a living room that can help generations of families play board games or watch movies together across borders. Newer, friendlier robots are pioneering senior care, cheerily reminding elders to take their medicine and checking in on their emotional well-being — not to mention robot pets! The market could be lucrative, with baby boomers reporting more disposable income and twice as much median income as millennials in 2019.
READ MORE ON OZY6. Need Someone to Talk to?If you are suffering from feelings of isolation and loneliness in the United States, text the Crisis Text Line at 741741 to be connected with a trained crisis counselor.
Be sure to ask these saints to protect your friends and family serving in the military!
Did you know that there are quite a few saints associated with the military? Some saints are general military patrons, some are specific to a branch, and some have even gained associations with a particular job within the military.
St. Michael the Archangel is patron of the military in general. Being an archangel, he is particularly honored by the Air Force and airborne divisions of the ground troops. Army paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, NC, complete the “St. Michael’s Jump” every year in honor of their patron saint.
St. Sebastian, a Roman soldier, was particularly courageous, tough, and hard to kill. This Christian soldier became a captain in the Praetorian Guard, the emperor’s personal bodyguard. When Emperor Diocletian discovered Sebastian’s faith, he ordered him to be pierced with arrows, but incredibly, this didn’t kill him! Sebastian returned to challenge the Emperor for his cruelty to the Christians, at which point he was cudgeled to death.
St. Maurice was a Roman soldier from Egypt who eventually led the entire Theban Legion. He and his men were all Christians, and were martyred together when they refused to worship the Roman gods. St. Maurice is particularly honored by infantry units.
Servant of God Emil Kapaun was a U.S. Army chaplain who gave his life in the service of his fellow-soldiers when they were captured by Chinese forces in the Korean War. He died in a prison camp in 1951 and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. His body was identified just this year and returned to his home state of Kansas.
Other soldier saints include St. Martin of Tours—whose feast just happens to be today!—St. Joan of Arc, St. George, St. Ignatius of Loyola, and St. John of Capistrano.
The virgin-martyr St. Barbara is the patroness of both Army and Marine artillerymen. Her own father martyred her out of hatred for her Christian faith, and legend says that lightning struck him as divine punishment—hence the connection to artillery.
Another Medal of Honor recipient, Servant of God Vincent Capodanno, was a Marine chaplain who was killed in action in the Vietnam War. Stay tuned for a future Get Fed on his story!
St. Joseph of Cupertino is a patron saint of aviators because of his habit of levitating during prayer! Our Lady of Loreto is also the patroness of aviation and air travelers, since it is said that the Holy House of Loreto—the Holy Family’s home—was carried by angels to Italy.
St. Brendan the Navigator was a 5th-6th century Irish monk who traveled by sea to spread the Faith and monasticism in other lands. He is the hero of the early medieval legend The Voyage of St. Brendan, in which he and his companions embark on an epic sea adventure to find a promised land of the saints.
These are just a few of the great saints who take care of our men and women in the military. The Catholic Company has many gifts geared to service members, such as this St. Michael medal that comes with the insignia of any military branch. We also have a wide selection of saints’ medals if your servicemember has a particular patron. Perfect Christmas gifts! Order yours today!
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Source: Waterman’s Triathlon Festival
The following is an article about the church that John MacArthur is the senior pastor of in California. MacArthur has been a nationally known pastor, seminary president, author for many decades. The church had been set upon by local government authorities because it refused to discontinue worship services at the church. The entire covid situation has been so grossly and amateurishly mismanaged from the beginning and government overreach has been essentially criminal. Panic and hyperbole is no way to handle a situation that could have been handled in a much more composed way. Contrived and amateurish responses caused immensely more damage to our society than the disease. I hope that we learn to stop listening to the tiny minority of screamers and hysteria and return to the days when we had much more sober responses to issues that confront us. That genuine professionals are put back in control and those who are politically motivated and only superficially qualified are removed, disciplined and people like them never allowed to be in places of responsibility. The state of California and Los Angeles county have to pay out taxpayer money, not their own money, to Grace Community Church $400,000 settlement, plus the immense legal fees they also rang up and the other results of collateral damage done to the county and the church by the irresponsibility of government leaders. I certainly hope those people are held to account.
UPDATE: John MacArthur’s Church Wins Legal Battle Against CA, LA County
UPDATED Sept. 1, 2021: The legal battle between John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church (GCC) in Sun Valley, Calif., and the state of California and Los Angeles County has finally concluded. Under the terms of the settlement, reached Tuesday, Aug. 31, the state and county must pay the church $400,000 each in legal fees.
“After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that some public health safety measures could not apply to houses of worship,” county officials said in a statement, “resolving this litigation is the responsible and appropriate thing to do. From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Los Angeles County has been committed to protecting the health and safety of its residents. We are grateful to the county’s faith organizations for their continued partnership to keep their congregants and the entire community safe and protected from COVID-19.”
In the statement, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors referred to a Supreme Court decision in February 2021 that set new guidelines for indoor worship, allowing churches to resume in-person services. Officials unanimously approved the settlement without discussion. Pastor John MacArthur has said the money will not go to GCC, but to the Thomas More Society, which represented the church.
ChurchLeaders original article written on Aug. 31, 2021, below:
In a sermon on Sunday, Grace Community Church (GCC) pastor John MacArthur acknowledged that COVID-19 had gone through his congregation in December or January of last year and also acknowledged that he and his wife, Patricia, had contracted the virus. MacArthur denied, however, that any outbreak has taken place among the Sun Valley, Calif. congregation.
“There is no evidence that can be traced back to Grace Church,” said MacArthur on Aug. 29, referring to media reports of outbreaks and deaths due to COVID-19. “Obviously, many people contracted COVID. We understand that. It probably went through our church in maybe December, January. That’s when I began to realize how many people were ill, and that’s when Patricia and I enjoyed our own bout with COVID for about a week and a half.” After recovering, MacArthur said that he and his wife were “fine, and we’re thankful for that.”
John MacArthur: The Lord Protected Us
A video clip of MacArthur’s sermon, posted by independent journalist Julie Roys, begins with Pastor John MacArthur acknowledging recent headlines announcing that L.A. County and the state of California seem likely to settle their lawsuit with GCC by paying legal fees in the amount of $400,000 each. GCC has been fighting an extended legal battle with the county and state since last summer when the church refused to stop meeting in person. The L.A. County Board of Supervisors will vote Tuesday evening on whether or not to settle with the church.
If the settlement is approved, that money will go to the Thomas More Society, which represents GCC. “Nothing will come to us,” said MacArthur, “except the affirmation that the Lord preserved and protected us through this.”
MacArthur then went on to reveal that the reason he took a break from preaching for a month in December and January was due to COVID-19. This is the first time the pastor has given the reason for his absence, as well as the first time he has admitted so directly that the virus went through his congregation last winter. During that time period, The Roys Report published several articles noting MacArthur’s protracted absence and citing evidence that the church was not only concealing a COVID-19 outbreak but was also pressuring members not to admit that they had tested positive for the virus.
In April 2021, MacArthur submitted a legal rebuttal denying both claims. In the pastor’s view, a group of positive cases are not an outbreak unless there is proof the virus spread at a church event. MacArthur argued that there is ”no reason to believe that any of these people who tested positive had been attending our Sunday services.” He also said allegations that GCC pressured people not to report positive cases were “entirely false.”
As ChurchLeaders reported last October, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health identified GCC as the site of a COVID-19 outbreak because three confirmed cases of the virus had been associated with the church. Even though the circumstances met the county’s definition of “outbreak,” GCC’s legal team took issue with the application of the term to such a small number.
In a statement to ChurchLeaders, attorney Jenna Ellis said, “Three very mild positive tests among more than 7,000 people is hardly news. 0.0004 or 0.043 percent is not an ‘outbreak.’ The LA Times and others’ grossly misleading and fear-mongering headlines aim to mischaracterize Grace Community Church as irresponsible and a superspreader.”
The Los Angeles Times reports that if the settlement is approved Tuesday, that would resolve “all legal actions between the county and the church.”
This is a quote from Cyprian. The church was an important institution. The church was a place to get help, be heard, be with fellow believers in Jesus. It was a place where you deal with the realities of life. So many treat the church as a nice little place, but not to be taken seriously. In reality the church is very much where you can deal with the genuine issues of life, not the frivolous, transient issues. Too many refuse to deal with the real issues until it’s too late, much to their regret and those they care for.
Cyprian is a Church Father, one of the greatest thinkers in Christian history. Cyprian wrote: “He who has not the Church for his mother can no longer have God for his Father. If anyone could escape who was outside the ark of Noah, then he also may escape who shall be outside of the Church.
…Does anyone believe that this unity which comes from the divine strength and fits together with the heavenly Sacraments, can be divided in the Church and can be separated by the parting asunder of opposing wills? He who does not hold this unity does not hold God’s Law, he does not hold the faith of the Father and the Son, and he does not hold life and salvation. ..
…But because Christ’s people cannot be divided, His robe, woven and united throughout (John 19:23), is not divided by those who possess it; undivided, united, connected, it shows the united concord or our people who put on Christ. But the sacrament and sign of His garment, He has declared the unity of the Church” (Cyprian, On the Unity of the Church”, 6-7 quoted in A Year with the Church Fathers pp 279-280)
We are not entitled to divide God’s Church. You may not agree all the time, you may think things could be done differently, that does not entitle you to undermine the church’s ministry. Many today seem to feel they are entitled to undermine in order to make the church follow their ideas. They don’t seem concerned if they don’t know what they’re talking about and what damage is being done. They will be held accountable. God will not tolerate their hostility to His Church. If you have a well-founded issue and plan to conduct in your church, you are welcome to present it and discuss it. If you think it’s all about you and your opinion, that in itself should tell you how unfounded your proposal is. I get it, today people treat the church as a frivolous little social event. At the end times and the judgment, many will find how wrong they are and how they undermined the Body of Christ. They will be held accountable, and it won’t be good. If you commit the sin of division in the church, you will be judged severely.
Before you chose to make it about you and not about Jesus, you need to really think about what your doing. You may not think your actions are serious, but as I said, the sin of division is serious and those who commit will be held accountable.
Wes McAdams writes: “The book of James sheds a lot of light on what causes divisions. And the simple answer is, a lack of wisdom from above. James says, “Wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, and sincere” (James 3:17). When we are not being peaceable, gentle, and open to reason, it is obvious we are lacking the kind of wisdom James is commending here.” (https://radicallychristian.com/the-sin-of-division) If you are not looking for wisdom from above, then you are not being guided in Christ. If you allow yourself to be guided by anything/one but our Triune God you could well be condemning yourself. Proceed with caution. If you have something to discuss, propose, feel free to bring it to your pastor. He will probably give you some input you hadn’t thought of that is crucially important. Really think about what is motivating you; faith in Christ or your own ego or selfishness. If from there you can’t understand what is truly important, you might even consider where you really are in Jesus. Your salvation may not be what you think it is.
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