Thursday, July 6, 2017

Luther on the Divine office

"in the wake of the Leipzig Debate, Luther's attitude to his monastic vocation began to alter.  From his early years as a monk, he had been obliged to attend services and perform the 'hours,' the repetition of prayers that took such a prominent place in a monk's daily routine and consumed much of his time.  Even after the Augsburg discussions, when Staupitz had released Luther from his vows, he still found it hard to give up this duty, as if it were a burden he could not put down.  At some point in 1520, however, he stopped altogether.  He recalled in 1531, 'Our Lord God pulled me by force away from the canonical hours in 1520, when I was already writing a great deal, and I often saved up my hours for a whole week, and then on Saturday I would do them one after another so that I neither ate nor drank anything for the whole day, and I was so weakened that I couldn't sleep, so that I had to be given Dr. Esch's sleeping draught, the effects of which I still feel in my head.'  In the end, a 'whole quarter-year' of hours had mounted up:  'This was too much for me, and I dropped it altogether.'  The resulting liberation—and the amount of time it freed up—may have played a part in the burst of creativity he experienced in 1520:  Now he could devote himself to writing and thinking without interruption or guilt."

     Lyndal Roper, Martin Luther:  renegade and prophet (New York:  Random House, 2017), 134 and 446nn1-3, citing WA Tischreden 2, p. 11 (no. 1253), and 5, p. 137 (133 ff., no. 5428).  See also (says Roper) 3, no. 3651; 4, nos. 4082, 4919, and 5094; 5, no. 6077; and WA 17.1, 112ff. (a sermon of 1525).

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