Author Topic: Luther Prayer to the Virgin Mary  (Read 2382 times)

Michael Slusser

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Luther Prayer to the Virgin Mary
« on: July 18, 2017, 01:27:41 PM »
The new German Catholic hymnal Gotteslob contains a prayer by Martin Luther, addressed to the Virgin Mary. Does this appear in any Lutheran hymnals or prayer books with which you are familiar?
http://www.praytellblog.com/index.php/2017/07/18/an-interesting-prayer-to-mary/

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Michael
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Re: Luther Prayer to the Virgin Mary
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2017, 01:47:00 PM »
Very interesting.  Do any American Lutheran hymnals have this prayer?  Nope!

(The first commentator is incorrect; Luther's prayer does conclude ". . . that you have found such a God.")

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Re: Luther Prayer to the Virgin Mary
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2017, 02:18:33 PM »

(The first commentator is incorrect; Luther's prayer does conclude ". . . that you have found such a God.")


The first commentator is offering a "correction" to Luther's prayer, not the translation of it.

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Re: Luther Prayer to the Virgin Mary
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2017, 02:25:55 PM »
The new German Catholic hymnal Gotteslob contains a prayer by Martin Luther, addressed to the Virgin Mary. Does this appear in any Lutheran hymnals or prayer books with which you are familiar?
http://www.praytellblog.com/index.php/2017/07/18/an-interesting-prayer-to-mary/

Peace,
Michael

Thanks for sharing Father. It would be interesting to know where exactly Luther stood at that point wrt the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.
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Michael Slusser

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Re: Luther Prayer to the Virgin Mary
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2017, 02:41:39 PM »
Thanks for sharing Father. It would be interesting to know where exactly Luther stood at that point wrt the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.
I don't know, but since you bring up the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, you may permit me to quote from an Advent Day of Recollection for priests of the Archdiocese of Miami that I gave Dec. 9, 1999:
     Catholics believe that Our Lady was preserved from sin by virtue of the foreseen merits of her Son Jesus–not, we notice, by virtue of her own foreseen merits, but those of Jesus.  Although we believe that Mary is unexcelled in faith, holiness, and virtue, we believe that it was not her own actions which saved her, but Christ's.  She was saved before she even knew she existed, and throughout her life she was truly "wholly borne by God's grace" (CCC 490).
     Unlikely as it may seem, since one of the significant differences between Catholic piety and that of Lutherans is our passionate attachment and devotion to the Mother of God, she herself is a model of this central article of faith which we have now declared that we hold in common, "that Christ himself is our righteousness, in which we share through the Holy Spirit in accord with the will of the Father....By grace alone, in faith in Christ's saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works" (JD 15). 
     Exactly!  We do not outrank the Blessed Virgin Mary in some way, as if our merits, unlike hers, were partly responsible for our new divine life.  I'm tempted to say, "If being wholly borne by God's grace is good enough for our Blessed Mother, it's good enough for me."  Thanks be to God, and to Jesus Christ our Lord.


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Michael
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Re: Luther Prayer to the Virgin Mary
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2017, 02:59:45 PM »

(The first commentator is incorrect; Luther's prayer does conclude ". . . that you have found such a God.")


The first commentator is offering a "correction" to Luther's prayer, not the translation of it.

spt+

OK.  Sometimes Luther needs correction.  (Especially when he does support our favorite modern anti catholic polemics.)   ;D

Peace, JOHN
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Re: Luther Prayer to the Virgin Mary
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2017, 03:06:09 PM »
Yes.  The German reflects that God's action was toward Mary and not the reverse.  I think our Roman Catholic friends would be in complete agreement with this.

Also the unaltered Augsburg Confession has this to say about the deep and close connection between Christ and his mother:  "... they teach that the Word, that is, the Son of God, did assume the human nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, ..."

Lutheran devotion could include proper devotion to Mary as reflected in the issues surrounding what it means for the mystery of Christ's human nature to be assumed in the womb of Mary.  There needn't be any dissonance with this at all.  Thanks be to God!
« Last Edit: July 18, 2017, 03:11:04 PM by George Rahn »

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Re: Luther Prayer to the Virgin Mary
« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2017, 03:51:39 PM »
I believe that during our "anti-Catholic" period we purged or ignored much of what Dr. Luther said about the blessed virgin Mary.
 This prayer certainly sounds like Dr. Luther.
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Re: Luther Prayer to the Virgin Mary
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2017, 04:47:13 PM »
of course, Luther's devotional work on the "Magnificat" is a good read. 
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Re: Luther Prayer to the Virgin Mary
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2017, 05:25:35 PM »
In a radical re-thinking of not only Mary's sinlessness, but even Christ's...

From a sermon I preached to the my STS chapter:

From "The Gift of Perseverance" by St. Augustine-

"Christ— who, moreover, most truly said in respect of God, "I and the Father are one"; John 10:30 and most truly said in respect of the man, "My Father is greater than I."John 14:28 "Thus God has predestined both Christ and us, since in his work to come,  he had foreseen that there would proceed no merit neither within Christ's humanity nor within ourselves:  He who is our head and we who are his body." "The man Jesus had no right to be sinless; God made him without sin as Christ. He who made Him such that He never had or should have an evil will, the same makes in His members a good will out of an evil one."

(I don't think Augustine's argument is that Jesus was at some point in his human life sinful and then God made Jesus the sinless Christ. I think Augustine is thinking that the humanity which was to become, in the hypostatic union, the divine man Jesus or the Christ, this pre-figured humanity in the heart of God was pre-purposed or predestined to be without sin.") He could lend his argument to the immaculate conception.
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Re: Luther Prayer to the Virgin Mary
« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2017, 06:09:57 PM »
The prayer cited is from his Magnificat commentary of 1521 (AE 21:322). He is unpacking “all generations shall call me blessed.” How does that take place? Like this...and so the prayer. Also of interest is how he teaches the use of the Ave as a meditation in his Personal Prayer Book (reprinted through the end of the 16th century). That’s in AE 43, I think.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2017, 08:07:15 PM by Weedon »
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Re: Luther Prayer to the Virgin Mary
« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2017, 06:13:41 PM »
Here’s the bit from Personal Prayer Book:

Take note of this: no one should put his trust or confidence in the Mother of God or in her merits, for such trust is worthy of God alone and is the lofty service due only to him. Rather praise and thank God through Mary and the grace given her. Laud and love her simply as the one who, without merit, obtained such blessings from God, sheerly out of his mercy, as she herself testifies in the Magnificat [Luke 1:46–55].

It is very much the same when I am moved by a view of the heavens, the sun, and all creation to exalt him who created everything, bringing all this into my prayer and praise, saying: O God, Author of such a beautiful and perfect creation, grant to me.… Similarly, our prayer should include the Mother of God as we say: O God, what a noble person you have created in her! May she be blessed! And so on. And you who honored her so highly, grant also to me.…

Let not our hearts cleave to her, but through her penetrate to Christ and to God himself. Thus what the Hail Mary says is that all glory should be given to God, using these words: “Hail, Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee [Luke 1:28]; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus Christ. Amen.”

You see that these words are not concerned with prayer but purely with giving praise and honor. Similarly there is no petition in the first words of the Lord’s Prayer but rather praise and glorification that God is our Father and that he is in heaven. Therefore we should make the Hail Mary neither a prayer nor an invocation because it is improper to interpret the words beyond what they mean in themselves and beyond the meaning given them by the Holy Spirit.

But there are two things we can do. First, we can use the Hail Mary as a meditation in which we recite what grace God has given her. Second, we should add a wish that everyone may know and respect her [as one blessed by God].

In the first place, she is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin—something exceedingly great. For God’s grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil.

In the second place, God is with her, meaning that all she did or left undone is divine and the action of God in her. Moreover, God guarded and protected her from all that might be hurtful to her.

In the third place, she is blessed above all other women, not only because she gave birth without labor, pain, and injury to herself, not as Eve and all other women, but because by the Holy Spirit and without sin, she became fertile, conceived, and gave birth in a way granted to no other woman.

In the fourth place, her giving birth is blessed in that it was spared the curse upon all children of Eve who are conceived in sin [Ps. 51:5] and born to deserve death and damnation. Only the fruit of her body is blessed, and through this birth we are all blessed.

Furthermore, a prayer or wish is to be added—our prayer for all who speak evil against this Fruit and the Mother. But who is it that speaks evil of this Fruit and the Mother? Any who persecute and speak evil against his work, the gospel, and the Christian faith, as Jews and papists are now doing.
The conclusion of this is that in the present no one speaks evil of this Mother and her Fruit as much as those who bless her with many rosaries and constantly mouth the Hail Mary. These, more than any others, speak evil against Christ’s word and faith in the worst way.

Therefore, notice that this Mother and her Fruit are blessed in a twofold way—bodily and spiritually. Bodily with lips and the words of the Hail Mary; such persons blaspheme and speak evil of her most dangerously. And spiritually [one blesses her] in one’s heart by praise and benediction for her child, Christ—for all his words, deeds, and sufferings. And no one does this except he who has the true Christian faith because without such faith no heart is good but is by nature stuffed full of evil speech and blasphemy against God and all his saints. For that reason he who has no faith is advised to refrain from saying the Hail Mary and all other prayers because to such a person the words apply: Let his prayer be sin [Ps. 109:7].

[Note how Luther will enrage those on either side!!!]
« Last Edit: July 18, 2017, 08:39:15 PM by Weedon »
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Re: Luther Prayer to the Virgin Mary
« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2017, 02:03:19 AM »
Thanks for sharing Father. It would be interesting to know where exactly Luther stood at that point wrt the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.
I don't know, but since you bring up the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, you may permit me to quote from an Advent Day of Recollection for priests of the Archdiocese of Miami that I gave Dec. 9, 1999:
     Catholics believe that Our Lady was preserved from sin by virtue of the foreseen merits of her Son Jesus–not, we notice, by virtue of her own foreseen merits, but those of Jesus.  Although we believe that Mary is unexcelled in faith, holiness, and virtue, we believe that it was not her own actions which saved her, but Christ's.  She was saved before she even knew she existed, and throughout her life she was truly "wholly borne by God's grace" (CCC 490).
     Unlikely as it may seem, since one of the significant differences between Catholic piety and that of Lutherans is our passionate attachment and devotion to the Mother of God, she herself is a model of this central article of faith which we have now declared that we hold in common, "that Christ himself is our righteousness, in which we share through the Holy Spirit in accord with the will of the Father....By grace alone, in faith in Christ's saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works" (JD 15). 
     Exactly!  We do not outrank the Blessed Virgin Mary in some way, as if our merits, unlike hers, were partly responsible for our new divine life.  I'm tempted to say, "If being wholly borne by God's grace is good enough for our Blessed Mother, it's good enough for me."  Thanks be to God, and to Jesus Christ our Lord.


Peace,
Michael

Thank you Father.  I found the concept of prevenient grace very helpful when I became Catholic and tried to understand our teachings about Mary.  Christ's gift of salvation at Calvary was granted to Mary at the moment of her conception.  I found it greatly comforting that we do not teach or believe that Mary had any special merit on her own, and that she -- like I -- required the salvific grace poured out at Calvary, and that God is perfectly capable of acting outside of my own limited and linear notion of time.  She is like us in her humanity, but at the same time she was chosen to participate in God's plan of salvation in a very unique and singular way.

Fr. Jeffrey F. Kirby has a nice discussion on it here:  https://cruxnow.com/commentary/2016/12/10/mary-requires-fancy-word-prevenient/

The following paragraph comes from that link:

"The solemnity recalls that Mary’s conception was without sin, and by consequence she was born without stain and lived “full of grace.” Such an assertion raises a biblical query on how anyone could be preserved from sin before the actual, historical redemption was accomplished by Jesus Christ.

Theological questions abound, and there is real anxiety over whether the Church could revere anyone as “without sin” prior to Calvary. The argument intimately touches Christian teaching on the radical particularity of the Lord’s saving work.

Are there exceptions to the salvific plan of Jesus Christ? Could someone be saved and attain holiness without the merits of the Lord Jesus?

This is where the word “prevenient” comes in. The Church, relying heavily on Franciscan theology, teaches that God, knowing of his Son’s Death, took its merits and applied its grace in an early, or prevenient way to Mary at the very moment of her conception.

And as the prayer of the solemnity’s Mass declares: “…Grant that, as we profess her, on account of your prevenient grace, to be untouched by any stain of sin…,” so the Church believes and prays that Mary received a pre-order of Calvary’s grace."

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Re: Luther Prayer to the Virgin Mary
« Reply #13 on: July 19, 2017, 07:46:15 AM »
Here’s the bit from Personal Prayer Book:

Take note of this: no one should put his trust or confidence in the Mother of God or in her merits, for such trust is worthy of God alone and is the lofty service due only to him. Rather praise and thank God through Mary and the grace given her. Laud and love her simply as the one who, without merit, obtained such blessings from God, sheerly out of his mercy, as she herself testifies in the Magnificat [Luke 1:46–55].

It is very much the same when I am moved by a view of the heavens, the sun, and all creation to exalt him who created everything, bringing all this into my prayer and praise, saying: O God, Author of such a beautiful and perfect creation, grant to me.… Similarly, our prayer should include the Mother of God as we say: O God, what a noble person you have created in her! May she be blessed! And so on. And you who honored her so highly, grant also to me.…

Let not our hearts cleave to her, but through her penetrate to Christ and to God himself. Thus what the Hail Mary says is that all glory should be given to God, using these words: “Hail, Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee [Luke 1:28]; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus Christ. Amen.”

You see that these words are not concerned with prayer but purely with giving praise and honor. Similarly there is no petition in the first words of the Lord’s Prayer but rather praise and glorification that God is our Father and that he is in heaven. Therefore we should make the Hail Mary neither a prayer nor an invocation because it is improper to interpret the words beyond what they mean in themselves and beyond the meaning given them by the Holy Spirit.

But there are two things we can do. First, we can use the Hail Mary as a meditation in which we recite what grace God has given her. Second, we should add a wish that everyone may know and respect her [as one blessed by God].

In the first place, she is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin—something exceedingly great. For God’s grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil.

In the second place, God is with her, meaning that all she did or left undone is divine and the action of God in her. Moreover, God guarded and protected her from all that might be hurtful to her.

In the third place, she is blessed above all other women, not only because she gave birth without labor, pain, and injury to herself, not as Eve and all other women, but because by the Holy Spirit and without sin, she became fertile, conceived, and gave birth in a way granted to no other woman.

In the fourth place, her giving birth is blessed in that it was spared the curse upon all children of Eve who are conceived in sin [Ps. 51:5] and born to deserve death and damnation. Only the fruit of her body is blessed, and through this birth we are all blessed.

Furthermore, a prayer or wish is to be added—our prayer for all who speak evil against this Fruit and the Mother. But who is it that speaks evil of this Fruit and the Mother? Any who persecute and speak evil against his work, the gospel, and the Christian faith, as Jews and papists are now doing.
The conclusion of this is that in the present no one speaks evil of this Mother and her Fruit as much as those who bless her with many rosaries and constantly mouth the Hail Mary. These, more than any others, speak evil against Christ’s word and faith in the worst way.

Therefore, notice that this Mother and her Fruit are blessed in a twofold way—bodily and spiritually. Bodily with lips and the words of the Hail Mary; such persons blaspheme and speak evil of her most dangerously. And spiritually [one blesses her] in one’s heart by praise and benediction for her child, Christ—for all his words, deeds, and sufferings. And no one does this except he who has the true Christian faith because without such faith no heart is good but is by nature stuffed full of evil speech and blasphemy against God and all his saints. For that reason he who has no faith is advised to refrain from saying the Hail Mary and all other prayers because to such a person the words apply: Let his prayer be sin [Ps. 109:7].

[Note how Luther will enrage those on either side!!!]

As one who finds devotion to Mary, particularly of Mary's submission to God's will and her role in our salvation history beneficial in our faith,  I am enjoying this thread.  First, thank you to Fr. Slusser for not only starting the thread but clarifying Mary's righteousness through the merits of Christ. 

Next a question to Pastor Weedon.  I believe the petition in the Hail Mary (Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death) was added a bit later than, perhaps, Luther's devotion was written (but perhaps when Luther was still alive).  May I ask if there is any Lutheran commentary or even view on these words.

I've written here before (so, again, bear with my repetition) that a day or so after 9/11 I joined with my neighborhood (Queens NY) in a vigil outside of our firehouse where all men on duty were killed [on that day].   People broke into small groups and prayed the Rosary.  I joined in and found not only the cadence of the Rosary, but particularly this prayer - the entire prayer - very comforting and still pray it.  I am not in any sort of fear of praying this as a Lutheran,, but I would be curious as to any commentary the Reformers may have written.  Thank you!

Weedon

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Re: Luther Prayer to the Virgin Mary
« Reply #14 on: July 19, 2017, 08:11:41 AM »
Eileen,

I’m not aware of any place where Luther offered a comment on the “ora pro nobis....” My assumption has always been that it might not have been in common use? In choir at Concordia Bronxville we sang Rachmaninov’s Hail O Virgin from the All Night Vigil. That ran:

Hail, O Virgin Mother, Bearer of God, holy Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, Mother of God, for thou hast brought forth the Savior who redeemed our souls.

I do know that Luther’s sermons on the Visitation suggests that there were three miracles involved: 1. That a Virgin would conceive and bear a Son; 2. That her Son is true God; 3. That Mary believed any of it. He thought that that last miracle was the greatest! :)

I think from some things in his own theology (see my tag line!), Luther took comfort that the church above intercedes as one body for the church below, and that without the need to ask for that prayer (just as we have no need to ask the Lord Jesus to intercede for us; or the Holy Spirit to intercede within us, so the saints above perfected in love could hardly fail to wish us all good things from the Father).

Liturgically, Lutherans did some interesting things with the Marian antiphons from Compline. You can see how they were adapted for use here:  https://weedon.blogspot.com/2009/07/emendata.html
William Weedon, Assistant Pastor
St. Paul Lutheran Church, Hamel IL
Catechist on LPR Podcast: The Word of the Lord Endures Forever
A Daily, Verse-by-Verse Bible Study with the Church, Past and Present
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