16 April 2017

Patriarchal Address at Easter 2017 - Allocuzione Patriarcale della Santa Pasqua 2017

Sub Tuum.


The Italian version is first, followed by the English version. 


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Ai membri della Corte di S. Maria di Walsingham, grazia e pace, e la mia Benedizione Apostolica in questa Domenica della Santa Pasqua, anno Domini 2017. Christus resurgens est! Oggi, celebriamo la vittoria di Cristo sul sepolcro. Celebriamo la gloriosa resurrezione di nostro Signore Jesu Christo. Il Sanctum Triduum è un tempo di morte ed un tempo della vita. È un tempo delle tenebre ed un tempo della luce. Il magno mistero è che per vivere è necessa-rio morire. Dobbiamo morire al mondo e vivere solo in Cristo. Cristo fu l’agnello perfetto per pagare il grandissimo debito del mondo. Ma, non possiamo credere solamente, senza opera, senza sofferenza. In verità dobbiamo appenderci alla croce come Cristo, poichè Cristo ci ha detto che dobbiamo prendere la nostra croce e seguirlo.
Oggi il mondo cammina nelle tenebre. Nonostante, in Cristo abbi-amo la speranza della vita aeterna per tutti chi credono veramente in Lui. Chi crede veramente in Cristo è ligato altamente alla vera Chiesa di Cristo, l’unica, santa, cattolica, ed apostolica Chiesa di Cris-to. Anche chi crede veramente in Cristo vive in accordo colla veris-sima dottrina cristiana. Il cuore della dottrina viene del Santo Cuore di Cristo.
Come sempre, esiste una forza grandissima contro la Chiesa e contro il popolo cristiano. Quella forza è una forza dell'anticristo. Questa è una grandissima guerra, la guerra aeterna tra bene e male. Amici in Cristo, dobbiamo combattere come soldati della Santa Cro-ce! Ma la nostra arma la più forte non è la pistola, non è la fucile, ma è la Santa Messa. Un sacerdote celebrando la Santa Messa fa più con-tro i nemici della Chiesa e della pace di tutti gli eserciti fortissimi del mondo.

Anche, come vi ho detto l’ultima Pasqua, sempre comportarvi, in abito appropriato, con parole appropriate, come ecclesiastici e come nobili di questa corte patriarcale antica. Sacerdoti, celebrate la Santa Messa per la pace e per la vittoria. Tutti di voi, orate il sacratissimo rosario. Sempre avete corragio di dire la verità dei Santi Vangeli, an-che se significa la vostra morte o un danno a voi. Prego, nonostante, che Dio ci preserva da ogni caduta!

Per proclamare il santo Vangelo non è l’odio. La verità è l’amore. Tutto l’amore nel mondo è trovato nel santo Vangelo di Cristo. Lo proclamiamo precisamente perchè amiamo tutti!
Oggi anche sono molto contento informarvi che abbiamo adesso una missione in Africa, ed i seminaristi stano avanzandi all’ordine dei Sacerdoti. Anche l’apostolato della Guardia di Walsingham, una con-tinuazione moderna del Gran Balivato e delle due Grandi Priorie dell’Ordine Teutonico Inperiale conferite al nostro Patriarcato e liga-ta alle diversi unità del patrimonio del patriarcato, continua di pros-perare e crescere. La Dichiarazione d’Intenti della Guardia è “Ispir-ando le vite di forza, compassione, e pace.” La Guardia è veramente un ministero religioso ed una vocazione religiosa.

Allora, torniamo alla Santa Pasqua, questo tempo gioioso. Ringranziamo per nostro Signore che ha appeso sulla Croce, quello legno benedetto, e che ha vinto il sepolcro e l’inferno stesso. Allora, preparatevi ricevere la benedizione di Dio.

Et benedictio Dei omnipotentis, Patris +, et Filii+, et Spiritus + Sancti, descendat super vos et maneat semper. R. Amen.


ENGLISH TRANSLATION:

To the members of the Court of Saint Maria of Walsingham, grace and peace, and my Apostolic blessing on this Easter Sunday A.D. 2017. Christus resurgens est! Today, we celebrate Christ's victo-ry over the tomb. We celebrate the glorious Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Sacred Triduum is a time of death and of life. It is a time of darkness and of light. The great mystery is that in order to live you must die. We must die to the world and live only in Christ. Christ was the perfect lamb to pay the enormous debt of the world. But, we can't merely believe and stop there, without work, without suffering. Truly we must hang on the cross like Christ, because Christ told us that we must take up our cross and follow him.

Today the world walks in darkness. Despite that fact, in Christ we have the hope of everlasting life for all who truly believe in Him. Those who truly believe in Christ's will strongly align themselves with the true Church of Christ, the one, Holy, Catholic, and Apostol-ic Church of Christ. Those who believe in Christ live according to the true and authentic Christian doctrine. The heart of the doctrine is derived from and of the very essence of the Sacred Heart of Christ.
As always, there is a great force aligned against the Church and against the Christian people. That force is a force of the Antichrist. This is a great war, the eternal war between good and evil. Dear friends in Christ, we must fight as soldiers of the Cross! But our strongest weapon is not the pistol and not the rifle, but rather the Holy Mass. A priest celebrating mass does more than all strongest armies in the world put together.

Also, as I told you all last Easter, always conduct yourselves properly, in appropriate dress, with appropriate words, as clerics and nobles of the ancient and Patriarchal Court. Priests, celebrate the mass for peace and for victory. All of you, pray the Holy Rosary. Always be brave and preach the truth of the Holy Gospels, even if it means your death or harm comes to you. I pray, however, the God will preserve us from all harm!

To proclaim the holy Gospel is not hatred. The truth contained therein is love. All the love in the world is found in the Holy Gospel of Christ. We proclaim the Gospel precisely because we love all the people of the world!

Today also I am very pleased that we have now a mission in Af-rica, and seminarians are diligently progressing towards the Order of Priests. Even the apostolate of the Walsingham Guard, a modern continuation of the Grand Bailiwick and the two Grand Priories if the Imperial Teutonic Order vested in our Patriarchate, joined with the various other units that comprise part of the patrimony of the Patriarchate, continues to thrive and grow. The Mission Statement of the Guard is "Inspiring lives of strength, compassion, and peace." The Guard is truly a religious ministry and vocation.

So, returning specifically to Easter, this time of great joy, we give thanks unto the Lord that He hung on the Cross, that blessed wood, and who conquered both the grave and hell itself. Therefore, prepare yourselves to receive God's blessing.

Et benedictio Dei omnipotentis, Patris +, et Filii+, et Spiritus + Sancti, descendat super vos et maneat semper. R. Amen.

14 April 2017

Who is Responsible for the Death of Christ?

Sub Tuum. 

Who is responsible for the murder of Christ? It cannot simply be blamed on the Jews, though it was the Jewish authorities who, out of jealousy, sought the destruction of Jesus and delivered Him to the Romans. Neither can it simply be blamed on the Romans, as they were faced with a riot that they had to put down - their main concern rather than with Christ Himself. Even Pilate washed his hands of the matter. So on whom do we place the blame? All you need to do is look in the mirror. It is something for which each and every one of us is responsible. We cannot merely relegate the Passion to a time in the past, for our Lord knows neither time nor space. Was humanity fallen and in need of salvation then, but not thereafter? Certainly not. Are we all saved now because of an historical event 2000 years ago without any responsibility on our part now? Not at all. Christ came at a specific time to this world, yes - but He came to save all people across all time. Just as we have the same opportunity at salvation, we also bear the same responsibility as those who were alive at the time of Christ.

07 April 2017

American Attacks on Syria

Sub Tuum.

Statement of the Patriarch of St. Stephen:

The U.S. President's military action of today can be called nothing short of reckless, irresponsible, inappropriate, and illegitimate. The sabre-rattling of yesterday was a clear pretext to war. That military action happened so soon thereafter clearly suggests that commentary was nothing but an excuse used to justify something already planned.

One must ask that, other than cleaning up the mess of ISIS that the Americans created, what right does the United States have to conduct an act of war against a foreign power? In addition to the simple fact that military intervention of this nature in Syria is complex at best on its own, the proximity of Russian troops makes this a potential powder-keg. Hopefully this will not be the site where the fools of the twenty-first century destroy lands and people in a proxy war between two superpowers.

It is time for the United States military to cease obeying foolish and likely illegal orders. One cannot be absolved simply because one was following orders.

23 March 2017

London Terrorist Attack

Sub Tuum.

Another terrorist attack has happened - this time in London at Parliament. Apparently a single attacker wrought a considerable amount of destruction and mayhem. Since we are at an unprecedented time of peace in the western world, such an attack is all the more visible. 

Amidst all the cowardly violence, however, the light of valor managed to show through. Tobias Ellwood, a former soldier who is currently the Minister for Counter-Terrorism, rushed to the aid of a fatally-wounded police officer. 

Less nobly, the broken record continues of weak and trite responses declaring one or another emotional yet vapid comments in response to terrorist attacks. That stands in stark contrast to the bold and strong words of Sir Winston Churchill and others like him (though there truly is no one quite like Churchill). What is painfully absent is a strong sense of resolve that good and decent people of the world will fight to stop those who wish them harm and will resolve to die rather than live as slaves or live in fear. That and that alone is the only rhetoric for a free people. That is the legacy of our ancestors in the armies of the Holy Cross. That is the legacy of the pilots in the Battle of Britain and of those who crossed the Channel to Normandy and who landed on the shores of Italy to lift the shadow of bigoted oppression. 

In the past, the United Kingdom knew how to deal with terrorists when faced with regular, cowardly attacks by the IRA. Now, however, we can only hope that the British people have not forgotten that the nose of the British bulldog slopes backward so that it may breathe without letting go. The tenacity so associated with the spirit of the British Isles is the legacy brought by the Romans and by the Normans. It is their historic nature - unless they themselves choose to abdicate and abandon their birthright, and knuckle under and crawl in the face of the enemy. 

The unique and special patrimony of the Patriarchate of St. Stephen includes both Anglican and Roman - both English and Italian. The Patriarchal household of the See of St. Stephen is centered in Florence, but called the Court of Saint Mary of Walsingham. The ties between Italy and England, however, are neither new nor unusual. It is an old relationship. Saint Augustine of Canterbury, founder of the Catholic Anglican Church, was himself an Italian. Saint Anselmo, an important Archbishop of Canterbury, was born in the Italian lands of Aosta, then in the Kingdom of Arles, which at one time ruled both Tuscany and the entire Kingdom of Italy in the Holy Roman Empire. The list continues. Our Patriarchate is forever linked not only to the holy land of Italy, but to the British Isles. We therefore feel this attack no differently than if it were done to us directly. Let us pray that the people of Britain will remember their true heritage of faith and strength and that the government will act appropriately. Those who refuse to fight when the battle is easy to win and victory may even be possible without bloodshed will so often find themselves in a bloody conflict of great difficulty and uncertainty. It is a lesson that history teaches, but one that many refuse to learn.

05 February 2017

Unity and Polarization

Sub Tuum.

Amidst the transition to the new President of the United States, calls for unity as Americans are contrasted with diametrically-opposed criticisms of and apologetics for Trump. This is not a situation unique to the United States, but ongoing evens there make it a timely example. Those who say that the elected President is the President, some will like him and some will not, and all people should come together in unity as Americans for the common good are indeed perplexed by the polarization. Those who support Trump cannot understand why some are opposed to Trump. Those who oppose Trump cannot understand why some support him. Neither side wants to budge. 

President Ronald Reagan (left) greets future President
Donald Trump (right) at a White House function.
Reagan was President during a time of greater national
unity, while Trump leads the U.S. government
during a highly polarized time.
In standing back and watching the unfolding situation, it occurs to me that there can be no true unity in anything when there is such polarization. It is a fundamental impossibility. There will always be some degree of disagreement - even some who strongly disagree. But, when it is widespread and strong, it is difficult to ignore. 

Those who support Mr. Trump have their set of reasons. Those who oppose Mr. Trump have their set of reasons as well. The President's opponents do not feel they should ignore issues about which they are passionate simply for unity. If they believe something is wrong, then they will continue to stand up to it. Whether one agrees with their logic or not, one cannot dispute that they truly believe what they believe, provided that they are being honest. I use simply the title of President here intentionally. Consider that if Mrs. Clinton had been elected, those of us who oppose the wholesale murder of millions of children each year, most of them from minority backgrounds, would surely right now continue to oppose the Presidents support thereof and would not back down simply in the name of national unity. Note however, despite my use of the abortion example, I am otherwise not making any comparisons or judgments in this writing on any specific aspect of the Trump Administration's policy or what would likely have been the Clinton Administration's policy. 

So, there it is. Two sides with vastly opposing views that simply cannot be reconciled. If we give the benefit of the doubt to at least the majority of citizens on either side, then we have two groups standing up for what they believe. That is not likely to change - at least not any time soon. And so perhaps the United States is in a period of divergence within the population. I could make arguments for that being a positive thing. For example, to use abortion once again, if we have "two Americas," one that supports abortion and one that does not, then I cannot say that such deviance within the population is at all bad, for the defense of life cannot yield. Similarly, if we have "two Americas," one that is of the Catholic faith and one that is decidedly anti-Catholic, as much of the United States has historically been and is to this day, I cannot say that such divergence is bad, for we must stand for the faith of Christ. On the other hand, I can argue for national unity, provided it does not reach the point of nationalism. It is not a good thing to have people tearing themselves apart and doing harm of any kind to others simply because they have differing political views or disagree regarding something that is going on in Washington. How does that benefit anyone? How does it solve any problem? 

I do not have a solution for this problem. Sometimes situations in human dynamics possess a certain momentum and will run their course on their own unless they are acted upon by some greater force. (Wars have done just that on more than one occasion.) What I can advise, as trite as it may sound, is to have respect for others of differing viewpoints. The more divergent their viewpoint is from yours, the more difficult that will be. The more divergent their viewpoint is from yours, the more you must listen. You don't have to agree with them. You can certainly stand up for your own principles, even if that means standing against them. I absolutely advocate standing up for right. However, we ought not let a disagreement of ideas between us and our neighbor end in doing harm to each other. 

History is full of scenarios like this. While national brotherhood in its authentic and beneficial form may be a laudable ideal, it is presently elusive. Rather than becoming frustrated, why not do something to put your principles into positive action and help others? 

30 January 2017

Close the Borders? Law - History - Ethics.

Sub Tuum.

I have seen few things in recent times cause such divisive shock waves around the world as the recent decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to impose a temporary ban on visas for persons from seven Islamic countries. The internet and the airwaves have exploded with heated, vitriolic debate. No doubt similar in-person debates are taking place at this time. Some laud this action as long overdue. Others condemn it as inhumane. Today I used the most powerful weapon that I have, the most powerful weapon on earth, the Holy Mass, to seek the help of God that those who are in turmoil and fighting each other over this recent order by the U.S. President will stop the fighting, stop the acrimony, stop the ad hominem attacks, listen to each other, and come together. Open your hearts and listen to God. Do not create more division while claiming that we are all one. Do not demonstrate hatred to try to prove a point about love. 

First, before continuing, it is important to understand the perspective from which I write this. (How much better communication would be and how fewer misunderstandings would happen if people understood the perspective of others.) Although I am a citizen of the United States by virtue of having been born there and have continued to maintain that citizenship all my life to this day, in my ecclesiastical office I cannot help but consider my primary citizenship to be with Christ's Holy Church and with the Patriarchate that I shepherd. To do otherwise would be to place a worldly state above the ecclesiastical government. Indeed, the spiritual home of the Patriarchate is not in the United States, but in Italy. Its Patrimony is located primarily in Europe. Its scope is international, bringing the love of Christ to all people. 

Also, though I have never been a refugee, I have nevertheless personally suffered travel delays and other problems, even that threatened being separated from my family due to politically-motivated visa issues. I was also subjected to multiple rounds of additional scrutiny by the Chinese communist government over my being a cleric and wearing clerical dress in my passport photo (as I am required to do by protocol) before they would issue me a tourist visa. They insisted that I promise not to engage in religious activities while in China and demanded that I tell them everywhere I was going to be at every moment, as well as where I would be staying - for every day during a three week trip. Although this surely does not rise to the level of impoverished refugees fleeing war-torn areas, I still wondered where the outrage was over that sort of treatment. It was entirely absent. To add insult to injury, I was effectively told it was all my fault for being a clergyman and wearing the attire I am bound to wear as a cleric. 

This is the perspective from which I write here. 

Now, to address the issue as to whether this action of the American President is legal, it would appear that U.S. federal law permits the President to do precisely what he did. It will be up to the government of the U.S. if they wish to change that legal authority. At this point it appears quite legal. 

What must also be said is that the borders of the United States and Europe are, from what I can tell, a complete mess. Something must be done. A nation must secure its borders appropriately for the benefit of both its citizenry and of its visitors - including refugees. 

While there is an humanitarian imperative to help refugees as much as one is realistically able to do, a nation must ensure to the best of that nation's abilities that they are in fact authentic refugees and not abusing the system. While Mr. Trump is receiving criticism over his decision, William Clinton said in a State of the Union address that the nation must be vigilant against those who abuse the visa system. Also, during the Hostage Crisis, U.S. President James Carter ordered visas for Iranians invalidated and placed a ban on issue of new visas for a time except for medical or significant humanitarian purpsoes; and he further ordered Iranian students report to an immigration office for an interview or face deportation. While some may wish to debate whether the actions of Mr. Carter are the same as those of Mr. Trump, it is effectively irrelevant. Of course they are different historical events. The point is that this is not the first time a visa ban has been ordered by a U.S. President over Islamic terrorism.

Just as it is difficult to repair a pipe while it has water flowing through it, it is admittedly difficult to evaluate existing systems and put in new systems that can properly vet refugees and visitors without shutting off the influx of immigrants and visitors temporarily. Was Mr. Trump's approach the best way to handle the situation? Time will tell. In any case, the border situation needs to be resolved appropriately. 

Another troubling issue is that, while mostly-Muslim refugees were allowed into the United States, it appears that countless Christian refugees were left to be slaughtered and persecuted as America turned its back on them. Indeed, they would not have been in that situation if the United States had not mishandled the Iraq War and left a power vacuum that allowed ISIS to reach the level of activity and control that it has. While some have raised concerns that this recent order by the U.S. President targets a specific religious group, the same accusation can be leveled at the American government for having apparently ignored Christians in desperate need due to a problem that it created and forced upon them. 

Yet another point to consider is that there is an ongoing war. Whether one agrees that there should be a war or not is another matter. There is nevertheless a war underway, and it is against militant Islam. For historical perspective, consider World War II. Few Nazi attacks actually took place on U.S. soil. Yet I doubt that the U.S. government was all that free with issuing entry visas to Germans or to those affiliated with the Nazis. (German-Americans were in fact highly watched and often confined to their neighborhoods, and Japense-Americans were widely interned in camps.) There is certainly historical precedent for denial of visas, though the present war is quite different in many respects than the Second World War. 

From the time of the Islamic conquest of Christian lands to the Crusader period to the Barbary Pirates to the present day, Islam and the West have always had an uneasy relationship. Peace has been attained from time to time, but it has been neither stable nor lasting. This is another historical fact to keep in mind.

One final point to bear in mind is that it is a commonly-held misconception that the United States is a nation of immigrants. That is patently false. There were the people of the First Nations (American Indians). Then  there were Europeans who came to the American colonies of Spain, France, Great Britain, and Holland. They were not immigrants, but simply people who moved from one territory of their own nation's territory to another. Immigrant status applies only to those who moved from one country to another, and although there were indeed a few who went from their home country to the colony of another country at that time, "immigrant" applies on the large scale only to those who came to the United States after the time that the United States actually existed. And, the people who came to the Colonies and even the immigrants who came later did so for many reasons. They were not all "fleeing persecution" as the commonly-held myth says. So, yes, the United States has had and continues to have many immigrants - just like any other country. Many of those immigrants have contributed greatly in many ways and make up the fabric of American society. Yet countries with more immigration per capita are not called "nations of immigrants." To call the United States a "nation of immigrants" as its founding impetus is patently non-factual. Historical immigration is simply not a valid argument in this matter. 

A full analysis of this situation would be much more complex. Most people do not have all the facts. I have sought to touch on some main points that I hope will be helpful. Whether this recent executive order by Mr. Trump will prove itself to be a painful medicine leading to a positive outcome for all or be a short-sighted humanitarian disaster will be seen in time. Until then, let us not tear each other apart while simultaneously proclaiming respect for our fellow man. Let us breathe and relax and offer all this suffering up to the poor souls in purgatory. Above all, let us pray. 

26 January 2017

All We Need is One Million Dollars...

Sub Tuum. 

Consider the following statement: "What a great idea we have! All we need to make it a reality is one million dollars! Well, we don't have that money, and I don't know how to get it, so we can't put our goals into action." Maybe on the surface it sounds like a statement of reality, but it is, in reality, a statement of lethargy! Of course most things take money; even the work of the Church. However, things also start somewhere. If a goal put into action will take one million dollars (or some specific amount) to do fully, that money is not going to fall off a tree or out of the sky. Even with limited resources, ideas can be put into action. Donors are far more likely to donate to a project about which its members are passionate than one that is merely an untried idea on paper by people who are sitting around passively for someone to give them cash. If you won't get to work doing something you care about simply because there are limited resources, why should anyone believe that you will do something when there are more resources and be a faithful steward of those resources?  Remember the parable of the five talents: "His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord." (Matthew 25.23)  If you want to put worthy goals into action with vast resources, demonstrate your dedication when there are limited resources. You will be surprised at how much you can accomplish with limited funds, limited numbers of people, and limited facilities. There really and truly is no excuse whatsoever for not getting moving. Don't wait for things to be perfect - or at least what you think is perfect. We are called by God to action here and now! Step forward in faith, good and faithful servant.