Newsletter of the Society of the Holy Trinity

Societas Trinitatis Sanctae

Volume 5, Number 1, Lent 2002


From the Senior



Our common Rule speaks of the desire of pastors to “glorify God with our minds and to be more faithful and learned teachers of the Faith.” A faithful pastor reads and studies widely and systematically, not only to be functionally competent as a teacher of the Church, but also because reverence for words and ideas is one of the habits of the baptized mind. Such reverence is most intently directed to the language, images, stories, and ideas of Holy Scripture. But love for the Word is supported by the love of wise theological and literary expression that probes the mystery of the Creation, the fearfulness of evil, and the wonder of the Redemption. You will find in this letter (and in future editions) some brief reviews of what fellow pastors are reading—yet another way of encouraging one another in the habit of holy learning.



I have next to me a work-in-progress, a draft of a Rule for a “Society of the Holy Trinity … a private clerical association of the Christian faithful for Catholic priests, either secular or religious, who are in full communion with the Bishop of Rome and their own proper Ordinary.” The document is being circulated by Fr. Jay Scott Newman, a canon lawyer and parish pastor, who is in conversation with 100-or-so other priests. The following words in the proposed Rule fill me with hope. “This Society is founded in fraternity with and after the example of a similar association among Lutheran pastors who are committed to the renewal of their own ecclesial life and to the restoration of full, visible communion among all Christians and reconciliation with the Bishop of Rome. This Society shall cultivate the closest possible cooperation with the members of our counterpart Lutheran Society and all such similar associations as may arise among Orthodox priests or Protestant pastors.” As an evangelical catholic, I continue to believe the way ahead for “Lutheran confessional renewal” leads away from all self-contained “Lutheranism” and toward a deeper lived baptismal solidarity with other orthodox Christians, most urgently with Roman Catholics. Like several other initiatives born of our common work and prayer in the STS, I do not know what God may make of Fr. Newman’s conversations. But keep him in your prayers. And encourage your Roman Catholic brother priests to inquire (St. Mary’s Church, 111 Hampton Avenue, Greenville, South Carolina 29601 / 864-271-8422).



This past January, the Council of the Society of the Holy Trinity met in retreat at Loyola House, Morristown, NJ. In their planning, the Council took notice that our next General Retreat will mark the fifth anniversary of our founding. There are plans in the making to celebrate and to use the occasion to invite others to pray with us. We will share the details as we go. But the most important detail is the presence of our members. Mark your calendars (September 17–19), and note the details in the calendar later in this newsletter.



The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau will sponsor a “Christian Sexuality Conference,” to be held on October 24–26, 2002, at Ruskin Heights Lutheran Church, Kansas City, MO. According to Russ Saltzman, STS, who is the lead organizer of the conference, the purpose is to provide the ELCA with a platform for the critique of gay theology with regard to the doctrine of creation, the nature of original sin, the doctrine of salvation, and ecumenical accountability. Speakers will include Merton Strommen, James Nestingen, Amy Schrifrin, Robert Benne, Jay Scott Newman, Russell Saltzman, and your Senior. The STS council wishes to encourage the participation of our members and their congregations, and we will be publishing registration information soon.


Phillip Max Johnson, Senior


(Members please note the Senior’s new e-mail address at the end of  this issue of De Trinitate.)


Brief Reflections of Society Reading


We will … engage one another in disciplined reflection on the mysteries of the Faith … desiring to glorify God with our minds and to be more faithful and learned teachers of the Faith (Rule, Preamble, par. 6; cf. Ch. VI). This column of brief reviews will appear in De Trinitate from time to time, as space permits. In this issue, we feature the reading of a Society member and a friend of the Society.


Corrective Love: The Power of Communion Discipline, by Thomas C. Oden (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1995). At first glance, the title and publisher of this work suggest an apology for “close communion.” Upon closer examination, one discovers a thoroughly catholic ecclesiology undergirding this very helpful study. The communion discipline in question encompasses a broad range, from individual confession and absolution to the church’s role in society. The author includes case studies while bringing an exhaustive knowledge of the great tradition to bear on the office of the keys. Rather than a sectarian apology or just another popular guide to therapeutic pastoral counseling, Oden’s work is modeled on the venerable pastoral tradition of the cure of souls. Here is a worthy sequel to the author’s Care of Souls in the Classic Tradition (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984). Any of the ordained attempting to offer pastoral care with a claim to orthodoxy would do well to consult this book. Perhaps it would be an apt selection for your weekly clergy study group. Members of the Society will find here a thoughtful companion for pastoral ministry especially relevant to Chapter V of the Rule on confession and absolution.


Paul C. Lundmark, STS Dean, Chesapeake-Potomac Chapter


The Truth of Catholicism, by George Weigel (New York: HarperCollins, 2001). I recommend this book to you with highest praise. Weigel is best known as the biographer of John Paul II, but this little volume (180 pp.) is a splendid example of contemporary apologetics. Weigel makes a compelling case for the liberating truth of evangelical catholicism, and I believe this book will be useful both for introducing modern pagans to the Gospel and for helping our own people understand the Gospel more clearly. The book is subtitled “Ten Controversies Explored,” and Weigel does a fine job of exploding the urban legends that often make it difficult for our contemporaries to cut through the haze of solipsism and reach the truth about anything. Although the title suggests an exclusive concern with specifically Catholic questions, the book is really about the truth of Christianity, with an effort made to render intelligible to non-Roman Catholics those parts of Christianity that are distinctively catholic.


Father Jay Scott Newman, J.C.L., St. Mary’s Church, Greenville, SC


Chapter News



Dean, Paul C. Lundmark,

The Chesapeake-Potomac Chapter went on retreat January 6–7 at the Trinitarian Spiritual Center, Baltimore, MD. Together we prayed the daily office and celebrated the Holy Eucharist. An open discussion of the Rule provided valuable sharing of pastoral insights for encouraging congregational practice of daily prayer and the implementation of the adult catechumenate. Our next retreat is planned with the Susquehanna Chapter in May (date to be announced) at the Precious Blood Spiritual Center in Columbia, PA.


Barry Laird, STS, of the Chesapeake-Potomac Chapter will retire June 19, on the 36th anniversary of his ordination to the ministry of Word and Sacrament.



Dean, Paul G. Bieber,

Fifteen persons attended the November 19–20 retreat of the Illinois Chapter at King’s House of Retreats, Henry, IL. Included in this group were three ELCA pastors making their first retreat as inquirers, one ELCA seminarian, and one ecumenical guest. The chapter also held a day retreat for Advent on St. Ambrose Day, December 7, at the church of St. Luke in Chicago. Six members and one inquirer were present for a day of prayer, conversation, and gracious hospitality. A Presentation of the Lord retreat was held on January 28–29 at the Cenacle Retreat House, Warrenville, IL. Six members and three inquirers were present for our first 24-hour retreat of 2002, at which Steven Tibbetts, STS, served as chaplain, and Keith Forni, STS, and Tom Knutson, STS, as teaching theologians, examining urban ministry from an evangelical-catholic perspective. The next chapter retreat will be April 22–23 at the Lutheran Outdoor Ministry Center in Oregon, IL. We are looking forward to serving as the “host chapter” for the General Retreat in September, and will try to measure up to the hospitality Rod Ronneberg, STS, and the Chesapeake-Potomac Chapter have shown to all of us for the three years that the General Retreat has been held at Bon Secours, MD.



Dean, Rodney L. Eberhardt,

The membership of the Metro New York Chapter of the Society currently stands at 16, with 3 persons who have expressed their desire to become members. We have established the pattern of three 24-hour retreats annually in November, February, and May. Each retreat is built around prayer offices, private confession and absolution, and a celebration of the Holy Eucharist.


The November retreat is designed to be a study retreat with presenters from within the chapter. Topics have included: Eucharistic Theology and Practice, Confession and Absolution, and The Meaning and Use of Icons. The recent plane crash in Queens forced the postponement of our November study of an evangelical catechumenate.


The February retreat centers on a presentation by someone from outside the chapter. Frank Senn, STS Vicar, has presented a study on Lent and Holy Week liturgical practice. Bishop William Lazareth, STS, led a presentation on Lutheran-Roman Catholic ecumenical issues, focusing on the joint statement on justification. On February 25–26, Dr. Lionel Mitchell led a study, Celebrating the Great 50 Days.


Our May retreat focuses on spiritual renewal by providing time for rest, prayer, and mutual conversation and support. This is also a time for us to focus on chapter business, concerns of the Society, and our individual members. This year the retreat is scheduled for May 13–14 at St. Ignatius retreat center in Manhasset, NY.


The chapter has commissioned seals of the Society and the Luther rose for use on tippets and other vestments. These are available to any chapter member by contacting the Metro NY Chapter dean. Our membership has been consistent and committed over the last couple of years, and our chapter retreats continue to provide opportunity for the upholding and renewal of pastoral ministry.



Dean, Richard L. Miesel,

The New England Chapter met in retreat on November 25–26 on Edmund’s Island near Mystic, CT. The presenter was Ronald Bagnall, STS, whose subject focused on the Augustana tradition of the Lutheran church, its doctrine and practice concerning the catholicity of the Church, the office of the ministry, the liturgy of the mass, the works of mercy, and the use of the Catechism. Questions for discussion centered on what in this tradition is worth saving or restoring and what can be learned or applied today.



Dean, John D. Larson,

In our chapter retreats, we have continued a steady prayer life together, with the most common format of a noon-to-noon pattern structured by the daily office. For our mutual teaching and learning, we have most often shared a particular form of the lectio divina discipline. We read a passage of sacred Scripture aloud and reflect on it; often we include an additional passage from Christian tradition. Three examples illustrate this pattern. At one retreat, continuous portions of Psalm 119 were included in each of the daily offices. We also read aloud “Preface to the Wittenberg Edition of Luther’s German Writings, 1539” (Luther’s Works, Vol. 34). Here Martin Luther describes the theologian as one who studies Scripture in the way taught by King David in Psalm 119; the three rules are oratio, meditatio, tentatio (prayer, meditation, and Anfechtungen—struggle with the Devil). At another retreat we considered the scriptural passages on Holy Baptism, then read aloud a portion of the Small Catechism that had not been included in the 1959 edition of the Book of Concord, but which is included in the 2000 edition—“The Baptismal Booklet: Translated into German and Newly Revised.” Our lectio divina reflections turned especially to parish practice, exorcism, and the life of the baptismal community. On another occasion, we invited Richard Niebanck, STS, to help us explore the most helpful ways of praying the psalms. Richard helped us to take the historical-critical approach down from its predominating perch and to see again how Christ-centered the psalms are; in this reading, the exegesis of St. Augustine was especially valuable.


The members of the Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter and the New Jersey Chapter now share chapter retreats. Our Senior has been encouraging us to consider becoming one chapter, and we may decide to do that in the future.



Dean, Richard J. Niebanck,

The Upstate New York Chapter met in retreat at the Stella Maris Retreat House in Skaneateles, NY, December 3–4. Twelve members and friends of the Society were in attendance. In addition to praying the daily office, the chapter enjoyed the presentations made by Lynn Ash, STS, whose subject was sacred music—from the Old to the New Testaments, the early Church, the chant traditions of the East and West, the musical treasures of the Lutheran church, to the present. Excellent musical recordings accompanied her presentation. The chapter adopted a plan to study through the Lutheran Confessions in a series of seven retreats. The first of these will be held March 12–13 at the Stella Maris center. We will discuss Articles 1 to 21 of the Augsburg Confession and its Apology under the leadership of Wesley Hamlin, STS. John Priest will serve as chaplain for the retreat.


Reported by John Priest, STS Secretary, Upstate New York Chapter



Dean, Louis A. Smith,

The lententide retreat of the Virginia Chapter is scheduled for March 4–5 at the Episcopal Diocesan Center, Roslyn, Richmond, VA. The retreat will be led by Richard Niebanck, STS, who will consider the great English metaphysical poets and their witness to the Triune God.


The chapter dean, Lou Smith, was privileged to present a paper critiquing the ELCA ecumenical agreements at the January Symposium on the Lutheran Confessions at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN.


From the Vicar

Our Senior suggested that we share with one another something of our recent reading. I have read some theology, but instead of that let me share something off the beaten path—even off the beaten cow paths of Devonshire. For anyone interested in parish ministry in a time of radical change in church and society, The Voices of Morebath: Reformation and Rebellion in an English Village by Eamon Duffy (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2001) has a lot to recommend it. This book provides specificity for Duffy’s stunning effort at historical revision, The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400–1580 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1992), in which he demonstrated the vitality of late medieval religious practice in England and what became of it in the Reformation.


It seems that the Morebath Parish in the southwestern English shire of Devon was served by one priest from 1520 until his death in 1574: Sir Christopher Trychay (priests were called “sir” in those days, not “father”). Think of it: this parish and its vicar lived through the vicissitudes of the Henrician, Edwardian, Marian, and Elizabeth Reformations. (Those who are surprised to see Queen Mary included in this list need to remember that she was a Catholic renewalist, not a Tridentine reactionary, and that her Archbishop of Canterbury, Cardinal Pole, was considered a radical by Rome.) Parish churches had to cope with liturgical policy changes mandated by the state during all this time, from “take the images down” (Henry VIII), to “replace the high altar with a communion table” (Edward VI), to “restore the high altar and its rood” (Mary), to “destroy the roods and chasubles, but you can keep your surplice and cope” (Elizabeth I).


The impact of these changes on this humble parish are deciphered by Duffy from the meticulous account book maintained by Sir Christopher on behalf of the church wardens throughout his whole vicarage. Could a history of liturgical (and theological) change be discerned from our parish records in terms of what was bought and sold?  Even when new books for worship were mandated by the state, such as the Coverdale English Bible, the Erasmus Paraphrases, and The Book of Common Prayer (1549, again in 1552, and then again in 1559), how quickly could changes be implemented if the parish couldn’t afford to buy expensive books? And what accounts for the fact that vestments, lights, and images removed from the church in Edward’s Reformation suddenly reappeared during the Marian restoration?


Some of the parishioners were obviously fencing these things; they purchased these objects and then sold them back to the church. But they were used to being responsible for the parish’s wealth. Morebath was a sheep-raising village. The parish’s wealth consisted in a herd of sheep farmed out individually to members of the parish who added the parish’s sheep to their own, sheared them in the spring, and turned in the money to the parish. Sir Christopher read out from the pulpit an accounting of the parish’s proceeds every Palm Sunday. (Why on Palm Sunday? Remember that the sheep shearing was done in the spring and the new civil year began on March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation.) Can you imagine dividing your congregation’s funds among the members to be invested and an account given at the annual meeting?


One of the most startling things I learned from this book was how invested the people of the parish were in their church in the late Middle Ages. Every group and guild in the parish had responsibility for one area in the church building. They might have paid for the lights that were kept burning before the shrines. For example, the young maidens might raise the money to buy the candles placed before the image of the Virgin Mary. Once the images were removed, or vestments were no longer needed, neither were the devotional efforts of the members needed. By the time the Reformation was complete, the whole parish could be run by the vicar and a vestry of a half dozen men. (Another surprise is that there were women church wardens in the pre-Reformation period.) The Reformation made a doctrine of the priesthood of believers; the pre-Reformation church practiced it.


Here’s a book that offers a unique window into the ordinary life of the church in a time of radical change and how the members and their priest coped with the crises. Moving from a richly appointed Catholic parish with daily mass to a plain Protestant church in which the offices were read was not an overnight event; it occurred over a period of 50 years in Morebath. Duffy admits that the transition might have occurred more quickly elsewhere (e.g., in southeastern England). But Sir Christopher and his members found ways to thwart the designs of the churchwide offices in London while seeming to comply with state-enforced ideology. Maybe the humble Vicar of Morebath can give lessons to some of the rest of us today.


For a more sympathetic view of the Edwardian Reformation, see Diarmaid MacCulloch, The Boy King: Edward VI and the Protestant Reformation (St. Martin’s Press, 1999), which I also read over Christmas.


Frank C. Senn, Vicar



STS Calendar


March 3-4        New England Chapter retreat, Enders Island     (near Mystic, CT). Contact Richard Miesel.


March 4-5        Minnesota Chapter retreat, Christ the King Retreat Center, Buffalo, MN. Contact Bill Wilson.


March 4-5        Virginia Chapter retreat, Episcopal Diocesan Center, Roslyn, Richmond, VA. Contact Louis Smith.


March 10-11    Susquehanna Chapter retreat, Danville, PA. Contact Paddy Rooney.


March 11-12    New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania chapters retreat, Loyola House, Morristown, NJ. Contact John Larson.


March 12-13    Upstate New York Chapter retreat, Stella Maris, Skaneateles, NY. Contact John Priest.


April 22-23      Illinois Chapter retreat, Lutheran Outdoor Ministry Center, Oregon, IL. Contact Paul Bieber.


May, TBA        Chesapeake-Potomac and Susquehanna chapters retreat, Precious Blood Spiritual Center, Columbia, PA. Contact Paul Lundmark or Paddy Rooney.


May 13-14       Metro New York Chapter retreat, St. Ignatius retreat center, Manhasset, NY. Contact Rodney Eberhardt.


May 26-28       Rocky Mt. Chapter retreat, FCJ Retreat Centre, Calgary. Contact K. Glen Johnson.


June 3-4           New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania chapters retreat, Loyola House, Morristown, NJ. Contact John Larson.


Sept. 17-19      STS General Retreat, Divine Word International Techny Towers Conference Center, Techny,   IL. (17 miles from O’Hare). Contact John Priest.




News and reflection from the Society of the Holy


Volume 5, Number 1, Lent 2002

Editor: Constance R. Seddon

Editorial office: 14 Oak Road, Briarcliff Manor,

NY  10510-2311 / 914-941-5202

Senior: Pr. Phillip M. Johnson, St. Paul Lutheran

Church, 440-448 Hoboken Ave., Jersey City,

NJ  07306 / 201-963-5518 /

Vicar: Pr. Frank C. Senn, Immanuel Lutheran

Church, 616 Lake Street, Evanston, IL  60201

847-864-4464 /

Secretary: Pr. John E. Priest, Immanuel Lutheran

Church, 17 High Street, Delhi, NY  13753

607-746-2098 /

Bursar: Pr. Mark A. Hoffman, 200 St. Ann Drive,

Apt. 1032, Mandeville, LA  70471

985-727-3879 /