Last night Susan Karant-Nunn, professor emeritus at the University of Arizona, remarked to me that the one word that encapsulates Luther’s theology for her is Trost: Consolation, or Comfort.
Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Luther was passionately concerned with bringing consolation to a people devoid of it, a people frightened into compliance by a misguided attempt at an economy of grace that had devolved, for him as for the people of his pastoral concern, into a buy-and-sell of indulgences and blessings. So he advocated with all the sternness and anger at his disposal, for disposal of that very system, and an assurance, so evident in his Christmas sermons, of the love of God for humankind, embodied in a helpless baby…
(See Martin Luther’s Christmas Book, edited by Roland Bainton, 1950)
From the Camaldolese Hermits of America based at New Camaldoli Hermitage I received this gift at Hallowe’en:
Faithful hearts should be allowed to grieve for their loved ones,
But with a grief than can be healed.
Let them shed their tears that can be wiped away,
Tears that can quickly be checked by the joy of faith.
From a Sermon by St. Augustine.