Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Reformation Day ~ The Reformer and His Wife

Tim Challis has invited bloggers to participate in the "Reformation Day Symposium. So, in that spirit, here are a few interesting and entertaining excerpts from a book* in our study about Catherine Luther.

Born Catherine von Bora January 29, 1499, she married Martin Luther June 13, 1525.
"That they were happy together there can be no doubt, and mutually beneficial. He thanked God for a 'pious and faithful wife' to whom he could safely trust his heart. His 'dear rib' was 'gentle, obedient and kind in all things far beyond my hopes. I would not exchange my poverty with her, for all the riches of Croesus with her.' Again he said, 'I would not part from my Katie, no not to gain all France and Venice.' Late in life he said, 'Next to God's Word, his best gift is a pious, cheerful, God-fearing, home-keeping wife with whom you can live in peace and tranquility; to whom you can entrust your goods and body and life' and, to let her know it was not all one way, 'Katie you have a pious husband who loves you; you are a very empress; thanks be to God.'

Oh, there were trials and tribulations in marriage to be sure...'My whole life is patience. I have to have patience with the Pope, heretics, my family, and Katie.' However, he had to admit it was good for him..."

'There is a lot to get used to in the first year of marriage', Luther discovered. 'You wake up in the morning and find a pair of pigtails on the pillow which were not there before.' The pigtails belonged to a determined young lady with a mind of her own...she had a strong sense of her own identity and worth which she would need if she was not to feel swamped and overlooked in her husband's forceful presence. A shrinking violet would not have suited him anyway. His personality needed someone to come up against, someone who would always be herself. He called her 'My lord Katie' or on occasion pronounced her name 'Kette', German for 'chain'. He said that if he wanted an obedient wife he would have to carve one for himself out of stone."

"The letter which Luther wrote to Katie on the 4th shows that she was not merely on the fringe of the Reformation but took an informed interest in the questions of the day.

'Dear Katie,
Our friendly conferences at Marburg (where the leading Swiss and German theologians were endeavouring to reach agreement on a common confession) is almost ended, and we have agreed upon all points except that our opponents maintain that only the bread and wine are presented in the sacraments although admitting Christ's spiritual presence in the elements. Today the Landgrave is making every effort to unite us or at least to make us consider each other as brothers and members of Christ's body. Although we object to being brothers, we wish to live at peace and on good terms. Say to Here Pommer that Zwingli's argument was the best: "Corpus non potest esse sine loco, ergo Christi corpus non est in pane." That of Oecolampadius was, "Sacramentum est signum corporis Christi."

Goodnight to all and pray for us. We are all well and lively, and living like princes....
Your obedient servant, Martin Luther

* Luther and his Katie, by Dolina MacCuish


Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

This is a nice blog. Keep it coming.

Marcian said...

With all of this recent talk about Luther on Reformation Day, I'm becoming more intrigued about who he was. I realize no man is perfect, but I'm now interested in reading more about him, including this book. Thanks for posting the excerpts.

Terri said...

How interesting. I've not looked at the Reformation from this angle. From Calvin's description of Katie I am sure she and I would've been fast friends=)

Connie said...

dyspraxic: Thank you very much, drop by anytime--and send any Christian women you know!

marcian: My husband (Church History degree) recommends Bainton's book on Luther. There are also several books specifically about Katie that I can recommend. I think you'd really enjoy the reading!!

terri: I agree--Katie had "spunk" and Luther clearly needed a wife of substance!!

Marcian said...

Yeah, Connie, what are those books on Katie??? I'm actually quite fascinated with Anne Bradstreet at the moment, and am considering purchasing a few biographies of her as well as her writings. Thanks!!

Connie said...

marcian: Here you go!

Kitty My Rib (fictionalized biograpahy) - E. Jane Mall

Luther and His Katie - Dolina MacCuish

And, forgive me but I just had to add these books about other Xian ladies:

Idelette: A Novel based on the life of Madame John Calvin - Edna Gerstner

Marriage to a Difficult Man: The "Uncommon" Union of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards - Elisabeth D. Dodds (this book just recently came back into print)

Jonathan and Sarah: An Uncommon Union - Edna Gerstner

Ladies of the Reformation - J. H. Alexander