Our devotion for today’s commemoration comes from The Mother of the Reformation: The Amazing Life and Story of Katharine Luther.
Katharina von Bora Luther was much more than just Martin Luther’s wife. She was an intelligent and independent thinker, a courageous self-starter, and a woman who was fiercely loyal to those she loved. We are proud to remember her today.
Katie’s virtues are clear and obvious to everyone who will simply look. The foundations of her character were her tireless industry, her efficiency, and her frugality. Through these good qualities she gradually elevated her household. The accusation of greed does not hold up when we see the gentleness and hospitality she exercised at her husband’s side; she was frugal, not greedy.
She was proud and assertive, as is often the case with someone of an energetic nature. And being Luther’s wife certainly didn’t make her more modest and humble toward others. As we know, Luther himself considered his Katie haughty before he married her. But he soon saw that she was more submissive and obedient to him than he had expected.
Katie sometimes had a strong influence on Luther. But we may still point out that she did not act out of lust for power, but out of love for her husband or out of friendship for his co-workers or out of enmity toward his opponents. We would only be able to speak of her lust for power if she had persuaded him to do something against his will, but, as far as we know, that was never the case. Whenever she actually was able to compel him, then his opinion met her halfway, and for him her effort to sway him meant that he concurred rather than that he was persuaded.
The position Luther held towered over everything. That was the only reason that contemporaries criticized his wife for things they would have found understandable and just fine in any other woman. From Luther’s letters we learn how far he let her in on the church and political questions that occupied him. After all, the first letter he wrote to her, from Marburg on October 4, 1529, contains almost exclusively information of theological content. And even in later years, besides all kinds of instructions and greetings, he sent her theological and political news as well, sometimes quite detailed, sometimes only in little hints. He knew that she was not completely engrossed in running her house. She also brought an open heart and a certain understanding to the things that moved him.
Luther knew that Katie was not without faults, just as he knew that he had his faults, but he said that he wouldn’t give up his Katie for either France or Venice, for God had given her to him, as he also was given to her. She was a faithful wife, and her virtues were much greater than her shortcomings.
Devotional reading is adapted from The Mother of the Reformation: The Amazing Life and Story of Katharine Luther, pages 259–60, 268–69. English translation © 2013 Mark E. DeGarmeaux. Published by Concordia Publishing House.
Heavenly Father . . . remove from our hearts and minds all blindness, ignorance, pride, and whatever else may hinder us from accepting Your Word in honest and faithful hearts. Grant us Your Holy Spirit to open our eyes to understand and to lead us by Your grace. Help us rightly to discern and to believe the saving truths You reveal, that we may grow in Christian knowledge and faith and that our lives may abound more and more in the fruits of the Spirit. Let Your holy Word be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path to lead us safely and bring us at last into our heavenly home. We ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Prayer is from Open the Meeting with Prayer, page 17 © 1973 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.