Reformation Sunday

In the old Roman Rite calendar, today would have been the Feast of Christ the King. This solemnity was deliberately placed on the last Sunday of October to coincide with Reformation Sunday. For reasons lost on me, the liturgical calendar was changed in 1970, and Christ the King was moved to the Sunday before Advent. I fail to see why changing the calendar was required to implement the liturgical recommendations (mandates?) of Vatican II. Anyhow, being an ex-Protestant and an increasingly traditional Catholic, I wanted to say something on the Sunday that celebrates heresy and the painful division in the Church. Thus I offer you the lyrics to "The Church’s One Foundation". The highlighted verse is not printed in the hymnals my parish uses. I really wish it was.

The Church’s one foundation
is Jesus Christ her Lord;
she is his new creation,
by water and the word:
from heaven he came and sought her
to be his holy bride;
with his own blood he bought her,
and for her life he died.

Elect from every nation,
yet one o’er all the earth,
her charter of salvation,
one Lord, one faith, one birth;
one holy Name she blesses,
partakes one holy food,
and to one hope she presses,
with every grace endued.

Though with a scornful wonder
men see her sore oppressed,
by schisms rent asunder,
by heresies distressed;
yet saints their watch are keeping,
their cry goes up, ‘How long?’
and soon the night of weeping
shall be the morn of song.

Mid toil and tribulation,
and tumult of her war
she waits the consummation
of peace for evermore;
till with the vision glorious
her longing eyes are blessed,
and the great Church victorious
shall be the Church at rest.

Yet she on earth hath union
with God, the Three in one,
and mystic sweet communion
with those whose rest is won.
O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we
like them, the meek and lowly,
on high may dwell with thee.

Words: Samuel John Stone, 1868

Comments 21

  1. Nathan wrote:

    Do you believe the Catholic Church teaches doctrinal or dogmatic error?

    The short answer is no.

    The long answer is that I don’t think the Church has ever infallibly taught doctrinal or dogmatic error — in other words, I do not believe that an ecumenical council, the infallible and extraordinary magisterium of the pope, or the ordinary and universal magisterium of the bishops have ever taught any doctrinal or dogmatic error. I do believe that popes have taught doctrinal error in their ordinary papal magisterium, and I do believe that individual bishops have taught doctrinal error in their ordinary episcopal magisterium.

    The problem that arises is that I do not believe that certain teachings are infallible and thus free of error, because these “certain teachings” have not been declared either by an ecumenical council, or by extraordinary papal magisterium, or by the ordinary and universal magisterium of the bishops. Infallible authority is relegated to some of these teachings by Catholic conservatives, but I have never seen any basis for relegating such authority to these teachings and I trust that history will prove me right when the teachings are ultimately corrected.

    Posted 04 Nov 2005 at 5:49 am
  2. EmilyE wrote:

    We sang the same tune at Mass today (I’m in the choir), but it had different lyrics. I was disappointed.

    And I agree — that verse is important and ought to be included.

    Did you know there’s another verse in the original that’s almost never included in hymnals? It would be the third verse, preceding the one you highlighted. The last half of this verse is probably why we don’t sing it:

    “The Church shall never perish!
    Her dear Lord to defend,
    To guide, sustain, and cherish,
    Is with her to the end:
    Though there be those who hate her,
    And false sons in her pale,
    Against or foe or traitor
    She ever shall prevail.”

    http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/c/h/chofound.htm

    Posted 30 Oct 2005 at 8:52 pm
  3. Jovan Weismiller wrote:

    It’s a good thing I haven’t forgotten my Latin! You might want to check out an article by Thos. Droleskey I have posted at http://jovan66102.blogspot.com on why the date of the Feast of the Kingship of Christ was changed. It might lead you even more in a Traditional direction. The title of the post is Vivat Rex! Vive le Christ-roi!

    Jovan

    PS I’m putting your link on my blog.

    Posted 30 Oct 2005 at 8:52 pm
  4. Jovan Weismiller wrote:

    If this is a dupe, I apologise!

    It’s a good thing I haven’t forgotten my Latin! You might want to check out an article by Thos. Droleskey I have posted at http://jovan66102.blogspot.com on why the date of the Feast of the Kingship of Christ was changed. It might lead you even more in a Traditional direction. The title of the post is Vivat Rex! Vive le Christ-roi!

    Jovan

    PS I’m putting your link on my blog.

    Posted 30 Oct 2005 at 8:54 pm
  5. David Ketter wrote:

    Naturally, I think the Reformation brought some good to both sides of the line. Might it not be that different groups of Christians magnify different aspects of God’s character? For instance, it has always struck me that the Roman Catholic Church magnifies His Glory and Majesty, Reformed Presbyterians, His Justice, Pentecostals His Power, and Baptists His Grace. That’s a sample of what I mean, but I’d understand if you wouldn’t agree.

    Posted 31 Oct 2005 at 2:58 am
  6. Nathan wrote:

    I think your characterization of the Reformation is completely uncalled for. The Second Vatican Council calls other Christians our separated brothers, and you refer to them as heretics.

    Posted 31 Oct 2005 at 5:52 am
  7. Funky Dung wrote:

    Heresy means error. They, as you say, separated brethren. What separates them is error. We’ll get no closer to reunification by pretending we don’t each believe we are wrong on some important points.

    Posted 31 Oct 2005 at 12:23 pm
  8. Funky Dung wrote:

    “Naturally, I think the Reformation brought some good to both sides of the line.”

    If the Reformation brought about good, it was in spite of it rather than because of it. Much-needed reforms did take place in the Church during the Counter-reformation. However, the world would have been much better off if those changes had been made without the help of period that brought about division, hatred, and split blood among Christians. I do believe that though Protestants lack a fully sacramental faith that the Holy Spirit is active, to varying degrees, amongst them. I also believe that Protestants have some things to teach the Church. However, I mourn the fact that the Church has lost generations of great minds and souls that could have taught her so much. As an ecumenically minded person, I give a fair amount of slack to modern Protestants. I do not give that same slack to their intellectual ancestors. I have no qualms calling the Reformers heretics. Whatever other great things they said or did, they are responsible for fracturing the Mystical Body of Christ into uncountably many pieces.

    Posted 31 Oct 2005 at 12:39 pm
  9. berenike wrote:

    the verse isn’t in your hymnal I hope because the editors realise that the Church is one and is not rent by schisms etc! “You know what I mean” you say; I do, but the point is lost on most folk, so it’s as well the verse isnae there.

    Posted 31 Oct 2005 at 3:51 pm
  10. Funky Dung wrote:

    Actually, I think the real reason it was dropped was because it didn’t fit well with the warm and fuzzy “I’m OK and you’re OK” brand of ecumenism.

    Posted 31 Oct 2005 at 5:47 pm
  11. Emily T wrote:

    So was it by your influence that the highlighted verse was sung yesterday at Mass???

    Posted 31 Oct 2005 at 11:35 pm
  12. Funky Dung wrote:

    Thanks for the link, Jovan. :)

    Posted 01 Nov 2005 at 12:24 am
  13. Nathan wrote:

    Eric — I know what heresy means, but you know as well as I do what kinds of feelings the word conjures up. It was a completely unnecessary word choice, a word choice that always rekindles that old “us vs. them” mentality that has long since been repudiated. We both know the precise definition of the word, but we also know the definition that the word brings forth — and the two are quite different.

    I would also point out that it was our error that initially brought about the schism, our sale of indulgences that initially led to Martin Luther’s Reformation Movement. We are no more free of error in this schism than are our separated brothers and sisters. We are all guilty of dividing Christ’s Church, and we only divide it further by using words like heretic, words that have a clearly pejorative subtext.

    There are other ways of expressing disagreement with each other than use of these terms, other much more constructive ways.

    Posted 02 Nov 2005 at 5:53 am
  14. Funky Dung wrote:

    “I would also point out that it was our error that initially brought
    about the schism, our sale of indulgences that initially led to
    Martin Luther’s Reformation Movement. We are no more free of error
    in this schism than are our separated brothers and sisters.”

    1) Two wrongs don’t make a right.
    2) Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

    Sorry to resort to cliches, but they’re sometimes useful.

    The errors of the Church in the 16th century do not justify the continued separation of Christians from the Church. A great deal of what Protestants believe is error. Pretending otherwise helps nobody.

    Posted 02 Nov 2005 at 1:06 pm
  15. Dad29 wrote:

    Personally, I like the ‘new’ placement of Christ the King at the last Sunday of the Year–

    A mnemonic of Alpha/Omega–

    A reminder that His Kingdom is the ‘end’ of the Church—

    And smacking Martin Luther’s revolution anniversary is a VERY faded memory for most RC’s.

    Posted 02 Nov 2005 at 3:55 pm
  16. Nathan wrote:

    1) Two wrongs don’t make a right.
    2) Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

    1) I agree, but without the first wrong there may never have been a second wrong. And the first wrong was ours.

    2) Again, I agree with this. But that doesn’t change the fact that our error was the first contributing factor to the schism.

    The errors of the Church in the 16th century do not justify the continued separation of Christians from the Church. A great deal of what Protestants believe is error. Pretending otherwise helps nobody.

    I agree that pretending we have no differences with one another is useless, and I also agree that pretending that there is not error on both sides — both sides — is ridiculous. But I don’t think the use of the term heretic is at all helpful. I think I’ve expressed my point in this regard rather well, and I see no point in beating a dead horse.

    Posted 02 Nov 2005 at 11:21 pm
  17. Funky Dung wrote:

    Do you believe the Catholic Church teaches doctrinal or dogmatic error?

    Posted 03 Nov 2005 at 12:27 am
  18. Christine wrote:

    Nathan,

    The Church has never approved the sale of indulgences. Anyone who did this was doing so without the blessing of Rome and would himself have been a heretic. See http://ramblinggopsoccermom.blogspot.com/2005/10/get-out-of-hell-free-cards.html for some information, as well as a few links to an authoritative source with imprimatur. Lots of Catholics are mistaken about indulgences, due (at least in my own case) to how the Reformation was portrayed in history text books. In high school, I learned how evil the Catholic Church was during that time and how Luther was such a good man to abandon his vows and cause a schism in the Church that Jesus founded. (No, the books did not say Jesus founded the Church, but He did.)

    Anyway, read up on indulgences. They are very misunderstood.

    Posted 03 Nov 2005 at 2:32 am
  19. Christine wrote:

    Oh, and at our parish, we did some feel-good song about seeing everyone we know in heaven when we die. And no litany of the saints, either. 😛

    I miss singing the really traditional hymns sometimes, ya’ know?

    Posted 03 Nov 2005 at 2:35 am
  20. alicia wrote:

    if you read nathan’s blog, you will see that he does indeed believe that the church has promulgated errors in matters of discipline and doctrine. I continue to pray for him, I love him as a brother in Christ, and I hope that he will eventually find the fullness of truth. as a convert myself, the hardest vestige of protestantism to shed is the private interpretation of doctrine, and the most difficult discipline is obedience. been there. wish that I hadn’t been detoured for so long.

    Posted 03 Nov 2005 at 7:03 pm
  21. Nathan wrote:

    Christine — I understand the correct doctrine of indulgences and agree with it. And I do know the difference between actual Catholic doctrine regarding indulgences and how secular history tends to portray them. There’s nothing wrong, in my opinion, with the doctrine of indulgence itself.

    With that said, the sale of indulgences was indeed prevalent during Luther’s time. Whether or not it was sanctioned by ecclesiastical authorities, including the pope, is indeed debatable. What can be said with certainty is that even if this behavior was not sanctioned by ecclesiastical authorities, those authorities did turn a blind eye to the sale of indulgences. Indeed, it was the financial corruption of the Church at the time that significantly contributed to the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica.

    That the Church’s highest authorities were corrupt during the time of Luther is not a subject that can be debated. Like it or not, we did indeed contribute to the schism.

    Posted 04 Nov 2005 at 5:53 am

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