Fr. Harry Winter, OMI: “Lutheran Friends: Encouragement and Caution”

Winter_Harry_5562 - CopyLutheran Friends: Encouragement and Caution, first of three items. Some Oblate Associates and Employees have family members who are Lutheran. Many more have friends who are Lutheran. Pope Francis visit to Sweden on Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2016, was the end of the first era of our better relations with Lutherans, which began with the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). With the signing of the Five Imperatives by the pope and the Lutheran head bishop on Oct. 31, we begin a second era, which makes our joint witnessing to Jesus more effective and increases the ability of both Churches to work with the poor throughout the world.

The Five Imperatives may be seen at the end of the document “From Conflict to Communion.”  The fact that Oblates from Sweden to Zambia are working closely to help the poor may be seen on the OMI USA JPIC website (

However, like even our Church, Lutherans are split between moderates and fundamentalists. If your relative or friend belongs to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, they belong to the Lutheran World Federation, which signed the Five Imperatives. If they belong to the Missouri Lutheran Church, or the Wisconsin Synod, they belong a fundamentalist church which does not subscribe to Christian unity (ecumenism).

So if your Lutheran relative or friend is fundamentalist, your contact with them is even more important! It is through your gentle and prayerful friendship that they will see that Roman Catholics are their true brothers and sisters. In a crisis or emergency, when you have to work together, your relationship will grow closer. If they insult you, try not to respond in kind, but give them good example.

St. Eugene de Mazenod was very aware of the fractures in Christianity, and how they impede our ability to share the love of Jesus. As Oblate Associates and Employees, let us grow closer to our brothers and sisters in the other Christian Churches, especially Lutherans, since the door has been opened wider by the pope’s visit to Sweden.

Martin Luther, the Christmas Tree and 95 Theses, according to Garrison Keillor 

It is reliably reported that Martin Luther was the first person to have a Christmas tree inside his home, after he renounced his Catholic priesthood and married.  However, Garrison Keillor is reported by one of our Oblates to have explained it this way.  Luther was out in the woods for a little walk, and as he passed the pine tree, a branch hit him in the face.  He was so angry he chopped the tree down.  Only then did he decide it would look nice, decorated, inside the house.

A search on the internet has failed to find this story.  But Keillor did write a spoof on Luther’s 95 theses:  click here