The cup for the laity

The communion practice of the Roman Catholic Church, up until Vatican II, was for the priests to drink the wine.  Laypeople were only given the bread.

Brian Stiller, writing on the Christianity Today site, reflects on Luther and the Reformation as he sits in the City Church of Wittenberg.

He sees a detail in Lucas Cranach’s altarpiece–one that I hadn’t noticed before– that gives him a flash of insight into the Reformation.

Now Luther would not be happy with all of what the author says about Holy Communion, since Stiller believes that the Lord’s Supper consists of symbols rather than the true Body and Blood of Christ.  Stiller even extrapolates his conclusions into meals in general.

But he does pick up the detail that Luther is sitting around the Table at the Last Supper with Christ and His disciples.  And Luther gives the cup to a servant–a layman, not an apostle.  Stiller explains why this is so significant and why offering the cup to laypeople–imaged here on the altar–is so expressive of the Gospel as proclaimed in the Reformation.

UPDATE, FURTHER THOUGHTS:  We shouldn’t take this privilege for granted.  John Hus was burned at the stake largely because he insisted on giving laypeople the Blood of Christ. For us laypeople to receive the Cup means that we are all priests (the doctrine of vocation) and that there is no spiritual superiority of one caste or another in Christ’s Kingdom. And that He poured out His blood for all.

[Read more…]

How Luther invented mass media

Media historian Andrew Pettegree has written a new book entitled Brand Luther:  How an Unheralded Monk Turned His Small Town into a Center of  Publishing, Made Himself the Most Famous Man in Europe—and Started the Protestant Reformation.

He tells about how Luther, along with his collaborator the artist and printer LUCAS CRANACH, used the printing press in such a way that the Reformation went viral.  He shows how the two used visual design to, in effect, “brand” the publications.  Luther became the most published author ever, though, in the words of reviewer Ronald K. Rittgers, “he never made a pfennig from his publications.”

Of Luther’s writing style, Rittgers writes, “Unlike the typical theology books of his day, Luther’s early works were clear, engaging, entertaining, and accessible (he frequently wrote in German). And above all, they were brief.”

This is a book I want to read.  The review is excerpted and linked to after the jump, and I have links to Amazon. [Read more…]

See this Lucas Cranach video

In Germany there is a big revival of interest in Lucas Cranach as an artist.  You have got to see this video based on an exhibit in Weimar.  It includes remarkable closeups of Cranach’s famous altarpiece in the Weimar church, the one with the artist’s self-portrait inserted into a Crucifixion scene, with Christ’s blood–thanks to Luther’s preaching and what happens in Holy Communion at this altar–arcing onto the artist’s head.

See the video after the jump.  It’s in German, but that doesn’t matter!  (Those of you who understand German, please tell us some of the points made in the video.) [Read more…]

Cranach’s “Christ Blessing the Children”

One of my favorite Cranach paintings is “Christ Blessing the Children.”  See a discussion after the break.

Lucas_Cranach_the_Elder_Christ_blessing_the_Children,_Frankfurt_am_Main,_Städel_Museum

 

HT:  Rev. Anthony R. Voltattorni, Young Children Saying The Same Thing As Christ | Alien Righteousness.  (Read this post for a modern-day application.)

[Read more…]

Cranach at the Met

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has put much of its collection online in digitized high-resolution images, including scores of works by the patron of this blog Lucas Cranach.  Go to this link:  Search | The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Click the title of the work and you will go to a larger image with a brief discussion of its significance.  Click the image again and it will fill your screen.  You can then zoom in for the most exquisite detail.

After the jump, two paired paintings depicting the theme of God’s grace:  Jesus with the children and Jesus with the woman taken in adultery.  (HT:  Paul McCain) [Read more…]

A stolen Cranach painting has been recovered

Lucas Cranach’s painting “Madonna under the Fir Tree” is one of his loveliest works.  It hung in the Cathedral of St. John in what was then Breslau, Bohemia, which later became Wroclaw, Poland.  During World War II, what with allied bombing and the predations of the Red Army, which essentially destroyed the city and razed the Cathedral–just two days before the armistice ended the war!–the population went to great efforts to protect the painting.  But after the war a priest who was also an art expert hired to restore the painting switched it with a forgery and made off with the original painting!   It eventually fell into the hands of an anonymous  Swiss collector who recently died, bequeathing it to his local church.  Anyway, this was all uncovered just last March and the painting has been given back to Poland and installed in the rebuilt Cathedral.   The whole tale reads like a novel and it’s summarized here:    The History Blog » Blog Archive » Cranach Madonna stolen by priest returned to Poland.

Thanks to Paul McCain at Cyberbrethren for alerting me to all of this.

But just look at this painting:

http://cyberbrethren.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Screen-Shot-2012-08-23-at-10.16.29-AM.png

And just look at this detail of the face of the Mother of Our Lord gazing down at her Son:

http://cyberbrethren.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Screen-Shot-2012-08-17-at-7.29.50-AM.png