"Our friend at Catholic Answers is reading Patrick O'Hare's The Facts About Luther. The citation involves one of Luther's disputations with the Devil. As explained below, this was a story being told by Luther as a literary device, not a personal experience. Of course, Father O'Hare missed this."
Once I awakened at midnight and the devil began the following disputation with me in my heart (for he is able to make many a night bitter and troublesome for me): “Listen, you very learned fellow, do you know that you said private masses for fifteen years almost daily? Did you not in reality commit sheer idolatry with such a mass and did you not worship there simply bread and wine, rather than Christ’s body and blood, and enjoin others to worship them?” I reply: “But I am a consecrated cleric; I have received chrism and consecration from the bishop, and, in addition, have done all this because of the command to do so and in obedience to it. Why have I not performed the consecration validly, since I have spoken the words in earnest and said mass with all possible devotion? You certainly know this.” “Yes,” he said, “that is true; but the Turks and the heathen also perform everything in their churches because of the command to do so and in earnest obedience to it. The priests of Jeroboam at Dan and Beersheba performed everything perhaps with greater devotion than the true priests at Jerusalem [I Kings 13:33]. What if your consecration, chrism, and consecrating are also unchristian and false like those of the Turks and the Samaritans?”
At this point I truly broke into a sweat and my heart began to tremble and throb. The devil knows how to muster his arguments well and to make an impression with them, and he possesses a convincing, powerful way of speaking. Such disputations do not permit time for lengthy and numerous deliberations, but the answers come in quick succession. At such times I have seen it happen that one finds people dead in bed in the morning. He can kill the body. This is one thing; but he can also scare the soul with disputes so that it almost departs from the body, as he has quite often very nearly done to me. Now he had challenged me in this dispute, and I did not really want to be guilty of such a great number of abominations in the presence of God but wanted to defend my innocence. So I listened to him to hear the grounds on which he opposed my consecration and my consecrating.
First, he said, you know that you did not rightly believe in Christ and as far as your faith was concerned you were no better than a Turk; for the Turk and I myself, along with all devils, also believe everything which is written about Christ (James 3 [2:19]), that is, that he was born, died, and ascended into heaven. However, none of us takes comfort in him or has confidence in him as a Savior; but we fear him as a stern judge. This kind of faith and no other is the one you also had when you were consecrated a priest and said mass; and all the others, both the consecrating bishop and his ordinands, also believed this. For this reason, too, all of you turned away from Christ and depended on Mary and the saints, who had to be your consolation and helpers in need rather than Christ. This you cannot deny, nor can any pope. That is why you were consecrated and have celebrated mass like heathen and not like Christians. How then were you able to effect conversion? For you were not the kind of persons who were to bring about this change.
Luther is best understood as a religious man with a deep belief in God, and in a daily battle with the Devil. As I've read quite a large amount of Luther, it is true this cosmic battle is never completely set aside in his writings.
The devil now substantiates his position with a number of arguments. Luther's faith has been basically misplaced. Instead of trusting in Christ as his Saviour, he has put hist faith in the power to consecrate and to celebrate the Mass (WA 38, 198; LW 38, 150-51).Note, Croken (who wrote this piece with the intention of ecumenism) substantiates Luther's consortium with the Devil. It is Satan who is telling Luther that he is not trusting in Christ - and has attacked the Mass! The central point of the Catholic religion is the Mass - so therein lies Satan's attack on Christ's Church and Luther is but a pawn in Satan's chess match. Yes, this is "just a dream" of Martin Luther - but the fact that it is expressed AND appears to be foundational in Luther's First Front, the title of Croken's book.
This power to consecrate is contrary, moreover, to the mind of Christ.Again, the lie of Satan is propagated... for it is most certainly NOT contrary to the mind of Christ - He instituted it! Jesus took bread and wine and declared it IS His body and blood and further commanded that the Apostles "do this" (that which He just did) in memory of Him. So they too were to take bread and wine and declare "This IS My body" and "This IS My blood," speaking in the Person of Jesus Christ.
He intended that we should celebrate the sacrament in order that it might be shared with Christians and benefit them. The very word "communion" means fellowship.Agreed! The Mass IS for the "communion" of the people! The fact that the Mass IS intended for the people does not negate the "power to consecrate." The argument has quickly digressed to a non-sequitur.
But in the Winkemesse, Luther has received the sacrament alone and has not shared it with others. Was this the purpose of his consecration (WA 38, 198-99; LW 38, 151)?I am not sure what Croken means here by "the Winkemesse." The nearest I can tell he may mean "the Deutsche Messe" or "German Mass" - which Luther wrote in 1526, nine years after the posting of the "95 Thesis." Just a sidenote, even Luther was still calling it a "Mass" at this time.
It was also the mind of Christ that, through the celebration of the sacrament, his death would be publicly proclaimed (1 Cor. 11:26).Agreed!
But Luther has not done this in the private Mass: alone, he has whispered to himself; alone, he has received the sacrament (WA 38, 199; LW 38, 151). Again, the sacrament was intended for the community, to strengthen Christians who share it. But in the private Mass, Luther has reversed this intention: instead of being a sacrament-priest, he has become a sacrifice-priest, offering as an individual sacrifice to God what was meant as food for others. He has made a special work, not to be shared with others unless sold to them for a price (WA 38, 199; LW 38, 152).