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Pastoral writings from the perspective of Traditional Old Roman Catholicism in the Anglican Tradition by Rutherford Cardinal Johnson Count of Sainte Animie

27 December 2010

A Christmas Gift

A.M.D.G.

We were surprised with a white Christmas this year. I say surprised because, even though it was forecast, it wouldn't have been the first time that snow was forecasted down here in the South, yet not even a solitary flake appeared. The snow is still here, and probably will be for another day or so.

The snow isn't that deep, but it shut many important roadways down. It's a bit embarrassing, having lived up north with six months of the year having some degree of snow cover that only rarely resulted in major closures. Of course, around here underneath the pretty blanket of snow typically lies a treacherous sheet of ice, making driving and walking outside sometimes a bit tricky.

The white snow made a nice background for the menagerie of wildlife in the backyard...especially the birds. There are many species there, depending on the season. The male cardinals in their bright red feathers stood out more than the rest. That particular species of bird is not known for sharing with other birds, and they often run off other birds from the bird feeder. Except on Christmas....

Take a look at the photo. You'll see cardinals sharing with other birds. This went on all day and has not been seen before or since. The only explanation we have as to this uncharacteristic behavior is that it was Christmas.

These birds illustrated a major theme of Christmas: sharing and giving to others. Ask yourself if this Christmas you sought out what you could do for others and give to others rather than what you could get. If not, well, we're all only human. It's never too late to start cultivating a giving spirit and helping other people.

11 December 2010

Some Praise for TSA

A.M.D.G.

Despite the recent TSA debacle with the Indian Ambassador to the US, I have something nice to say about some TSA agents. Just recently I returned to the US, entering through Portland, Oregon. I made sure every last piece of metal, including gold, was removed just to be on the safe side. Thankfully I didn't beep, so there was no need for conflict. The several TSA officers there at the security check, though, were extremely nice, friendly, and professional.

With all the image issues TSA is currently suffering, those officers who behave well deserve to be praised openly. The conduct of the officers is even more important given the precise security screening location they were staffing. It was the checkpoint passengers go through when they enter the country from an international flight and then proceed to take a domestic flight. For Americans, professional, polite, and proper conduct by TSA officers at such a checkpoint makes one's re-entry into the US more pleasant. For foreign visitors, this is one of the first images of the US that they will see. Professional, polite, and proper conduct by TSA officers there will give them a much better feeling and impression of the US.

30 November 2010

At Peace in the Habit of my Vocation

A.M.D.G.


Christ's humble servant
in the cappa pontificalis, which
the Metropolitan See uses
as a formal cape and takes
the place of the cappa magna.
 
There is hope for those who feel that natural and burning desire to wear the habit of their spiritual vocation. All clergy, of course, ought to feel such a desire. It isn't always easy these days. The modern "reformers" want to get rid of the Church's venerable traditions. Society in general seems against the Church overall. Sometimes it seems you just can't win for losing, as the saying goes. Yet, there is always hope. Let me share a few key points to help all clergy be at peace, in or out of their habits.

- My habit may not in keeping with the times, but then the Kingdom I serve is not even of this world.

- My habit may seem regal, but we are here to reflect the glory of Christ the King.

- Some criticize the vesture of clerics (especially of bishops) for being expensive, saying they should be sold off to help the poor. Yet, I don't see those critics selling off their expensive DVD players, expensive computer equipment, and expensive cars to help the poor.



- My habit may not seem manly enough to some in this age, but then, it takes a real man to go against the crowd and follow his vocation.

- My habit might draw attention to myself, but it is part of my witness to Christ. It just makes me remember that I must always strive to be as Christ-like as possible.

These are just a few thoughts on the matter. I pray that all clerics are at peace with their vocation and all that entails. If you are at peace, then you will not only feel at home in the habit of your vocation, but the critics won't matter to you. You will be able to live out your Christian witness and clerical vocation without fear.

25 November 2010

Unsuspected Surprise Hallelujah Chorus

A.M.D.G.

After all the problems in the world, here is something really nice.

Is airport security really worth it, or are we on the road to losing freedom?

A.M.D.G.

Recent developments in airport security and the government's lack of willingness to do anything about it, despite public outcry, has left me in a great state of concern for the welfare and freedom of the people in the country. First, it must be pointed out that this is not a political matter, but rather a matter of ethics and morals, and hence the direct authority and responsibility of the Church. Christians and especially priests have a duty to work for the betterment of the condition of mankind, and therefore must speak out in cases such as these.

A recent photograph (see ACNS news brief) depicted a nun being frisked by a female TSA officer, who likely was wearing a Muslim headdress, at Detroit Metro. From the ACNS story, you can see links that contain other related stories including invasive pat-downs of three year olds. Ask yourself what you would do if it was your three year old that some TSA agent was about to touch inappropriately. Interestingly, the government tends to arrest people who touch children in that way, but instead has given TSA a free hand (pardon the pun) in the matter.

When you harass or abuse a holy brother or sister, or a deacon, priest, or bishop, you are taking direct action against a servant of God and a representative of the Holy Church. Actions against them are most serious. Think for a minute about how threatening a regular citizen might not get you in trouble, but threatening a police officer most likely will. TSA certainly takes it seriously when people stand up to them or, admittedly, even when passengers behave inappropriately or dangerously (not to excuse some of the actions of TSA). I assure you that the Church takes it very seriously when those sworn servants of the Lord are abused.

As for harassment of children, remember that our Lord said that whatever we do unto the least of us, we do unto him. When TSA officers harass and inappropriately touch children, it is no different than if they were doing this to our Lord. The officers may not even ever be called to answer for their actions against the religious, children, and the rest of us in this lifetime, but I promise that they will at least be called to answer for their actions when they stand for judgment in the world that is to come.

24 November 2010

Metropolitan Letter on Growing Socialism - Re-issued

A.M.D.G.

This letter was written over a year ago, but is of relevant subject matter to the present that it bears re-distribution.

__________________________________________________________________

Esteemed Brethren and Dearest Sons in Christ,

     The issue of socialism growing in strength within the United States of America, and indeed the whole world requires the attention of Christ’s Church. It is Our duty to comment on this matter and to advise the faithful under Our Apostolic and pastoral care so that they may understand and behave according to the Sacred Scriptures and Sacred Tradition of the Apostolic Faith. To do otherwise would be a failure in Our duty to Christ and to those in Our charge and care.

Attempts at Division

     The fractured appearance of the Apostolic Church makes those who promote socialism believe they are better able to divide and conquer. While Christians separate over many diverse issues, socialists and communists join together to spread their vile poison of words and deeds, which has been shown by Church scholars and Church leaders over and over to be contrary to the Sacred Scripture, and embed their poison so deeply that it is difficult to remove. Yet, the Word of God is clear. The gates of Hell shall not prevail against Christ’s Church. Though the Church of the true and living Faith handed down in unbroken succession from the Apostles has split into separate jurisdictions around the world, and though those provinces of authority often bicker and fight in a manner unbecoming of them, there is still but one Church and one Faith, united under one Baptism. The gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.

     The enemies of the Church delight in these split provinces, but they cannot see the truth. They are lured by these divisions, but fail to see that the union of Christ’s Church is deeper than leadership, jurisdiction, or Rite, but is instead a product of the Baptism in Christ and the authority transmitted by the Holy Spirit in succession from the Apostles.

The Necessity of the Clergy and Faithful to Speak out Against Injustice

     This fractured state, while We lament it, is taken as the fact of the situation for the time being. Humans, as they are, have failed to shepherd faithfully the Divine Institution which has been entrusted to them, and so we as Christians are in factions. Remember, though, that these independent churches of the Apostolic Faith are all successors to the Apostles, and they are valid in their authority. So too are they valid in their duty to act and to speak when there are issues of great social concern. The issues at hand today in the United States of America relate to the rights of unborn children, to economics and justice, to human rights and dignity, and indeed to the very freedom of individuals demanded by our Lord. The Church, regardless of rite or jurisdiction, cannot remain silent on these issues.

When Government Acts Against the Church and Her People

     Various entities in the government and outside the government have sought to silence the clergy in their outspoken criticism of the government policies; policies that are contrary to morality and Church precepts. The Church, however, must remember its higher calling and remain firm in the realization of its duty, faithfully carrying out that duty of legitimate opposition to illegitimate policies that marginalize rather than acknowledge the individual dignity; that restrain liberty while at the same time, and in a hypocritical fashion, mocking the authority of rule and the rule of law; that forces the will of a determined minority upon the remainder of the population; and that harms individuals under a misguided or malicious veil of fairness. The Bishops inherit the authority of the apostles, yet they inherit also the responsibilities pertaining to that office as well. Ordinary clergy share in the responsibility, and the faithful have the responsibility to oppose all that is unjust, so far as in their power lies. Acts against the Church and her leaders and people should not and must not deter those leaders and people from doing their Christian duty.

The Government of the United States of America
as a Guarantor of Religious Freedom

     At this point in time, particularly in the United States of America, this duty of opposition to any unjust government policy is perhaps at its most crucial need. The United States of America, founded upon Christian principles by leaders with deep Christian faith, has always safe-guarded religious freedom. Now the socialist and communist factions seek subjugation to the State, and seek to use the very foundation of religious freedom and mechanism for guarding it, the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, to limit religious freedom. In many cases this goes beyond limitation into outright marginalization of Christians and restrictions on their rights and activities, particularly in favor of other religious groups. The end result of this is not the religious tolerance and equity touted by the socialists as their goal, but rather a Marxist-style of “class warfare” between religious groups. Under the veil of peace comes war. Under the cloak of freedom comes tyranny.

     The Church, ever-concerned with the salvation of man, must work for the condition of man on earth to aid in their efforts of attainment of salvation. The United States government has traditionally been a whole-hearted and enthusiastic participant in this effort. Socialism has crept in silently over time, and now it is seeking to dominate. Good and faithful Christians must oppose the plans of any person in the government that seeks this socialist or communist domination. Such an outcome would result in the limitation of personal freedom, and hence a subjugation of individual work on salvation of all people to the present and temporal needs of the State and secular society. Secularism, which goes hand-in-hand with socialism and communism, is the enemy of Christianity and the enemy of human dignity, rights, and freedom. The United States government must be restored to its previous condition of preserving Christian principles, religious and individual freedom, and the dignity of all humans.

Socialism and Communism are Incompatible with Christianity

     No Christian may be a socialist. No Christian may be a Communist. This has been consistently supported by the leaders of the true Church around the world.

     Socialism and communism are at odds with Christianity. Both prohibit personal liberty, subjugating all people to the present and temporal needs of the State, with a focus purely on the present and the temporal.

     Communism further is a Godless society. In socialism and communism, the individual is replaced by the State, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is replaced with the concept of nationalism, i.e., effective worship of the State. Such notions clearly are incompatible with Christian principles and must be avoided and opposed wherever they are encountered.

     At times the faithful have been forced into subjugation at the hands of socialists and communists, and may even be forced or deluded into active participation, becoming pawns and puppets of the socialist regimes. We must always pray for such persons, as they are under the influence, often innocently, of the Devil’s tool of disharmony on the earth, socialism.

     This same fate of subjugation may await the faithful within the United States, if the socialist factions in the government are not voted out of office. Such is the duty of the faithful, for they must aid in preventing their own fate from being that of many Christians in socialist and communist nations around the world.

The Culture of Death

     The modern culture of death has been treated by many great leaders of the Church and by many great theologians. A society that does not value human life has subscribed to the culture of death. A society that does not protect unborn children and permits abortion, the outright murder of unborn children, has subscribed to the culture of death. This is incompatible with Christian principles, and no true Christian may subscribe to it. The faithful should pray for guidance and strength in opposing these horrors of the modern world.

     We cannot comprehend how a society of such greatness as the United States of America can permit the legal murder of unborn children. Further We cannot comprehend how such a great society can tolerate another extreme brought on by focused socialist and liberal parties, viz., that the rights of animals often exceed those of humans. While, just as Saint Francis was kind to the animals, We do not condone cruelty to animals, the dignity of humans is paramount and should not be exceeded by that given to animals, particularly when this disparity comes about due to several determined minorities who wish to force the rest of the population to follow their own dangerous dogma.

     The dogma and doctrine that must be accepted and followed by Christians is that of Christ’s Church, as handed down in unbroken succession from the Apostles, they themselves deriving their true and just authority from Jesus Christ Himself, receiving the Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost. All doctrines of man, made by man for various often selfish and nefarious reasons, must be rejected. Often these dogmae and doctrines appear on the surface to be benign and perhaps even helpful. The veneer of kindness often masks a deep and dark purpose underneath. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Such is the duty of Christians to remain vigilant against them.

Societies that Turn Away from our Lord and Savior

     Societies that turn away from our Lord and Savior are doomed to at least a temporary negative fate, if not outright annihilation. We need only turn to Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany to see the destruction wrought upon the people of a nation due to governments that were without God. They were without the love and charity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and their societies were destroyed.

     We do not wish this fate visited upon the United States of America, a nation founded by the grace of God to uphold God and provide dignity and freedom for all. Yet, this is the fate that awaits the nation if socialist factions succeed in their machinations. Using inclusive language and veiling themselves with the United States flag and doctrines purporting to be about freedom, they sneak their way in as a thief in the night and slowly take over the government. What is worse is that the United States people, fooled by their lies, have helped to put them into power through campaign efforts and elections. Let us not go the foolish ways of Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia, for We do not wish the people of America to suffer at the hand of God for their national disobedience.

The Truth of Christian Values

     By the grace of God, we the people of God have been given the Church. She is the Bride of Christ, instituted by Him and born out of His death and passion, and glorious resurrection and ascension. She is universal, and she exists to save all mankind. The values of Christ and His Church are paramount among all value systems. Morality is not relative or a matter of personal choice. It is a matter of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, as well as the teaching authority of the universal Church. Socialists seek to replace our value system with one of their own, which values not the dignity and freedom of man, but merely their own interests here and now. They care not for the salvation of man, but only for temporal interests of power. We urge all those in Our care to keep the faith and to keep Christ’s values in their hearts above all other value systems. All other value systems must be measured against that of Christ.

On the Unity of Christians

     The Church, being universal and embracing all people of the world, craves unity. This unity is unity of doctrine and faith above all else. Christians, though possessing many diverse forms of worship within the Apostolic Faith and tradition, are still unified by one Baptism and that Apostolic Faith. The Holy Spirit flows through the Church as surely today as it did on the first Pentecost.

     Socialists by their very nature seek to break apart Christian unity, tempting us to focus on our differences and ignore our unifying foundation. This foundation is strong; far stronger than they are. They cannot break or destroy it. They can only hope for us to ignore it. By so doing, they hope to weaken us so that we fight ourselves instead of them, leaving them free to pursue their goal of absolute power. We, dearest brethren, must be vigilant and constantly guard against this. We must not allow ourselves to be pitted against each other, but rather must focus on opposing socialism and communism in our society today.

Method of Opposition

     Spiritual weapons are the weapons that must be used. The bomber and the assassin are the tools of the anarchist. Anarchism is chaos and hence the opposite of order, and its lack of order fails to guarantee freedom and dignity. It fails to consider anything in the future, but only the present. Anarchism is as offensive to Christianity as socialism and communism are. Therefore, the tools of the anarchist must not be used.

     The faithful must pray for the conversion of the socialists and communists, and of all those who know not Christ. For those professed Christians who still persist in following the ills of socialism and communism, we must all pray for their return to the faith and for their abandonment of their philosophies contrary to the Church and to human freedom and dignity.

Victory over Socialism

     Socialists in the United States have gained tremendous power in the past decade or more. Indeed, it could be said that they started their rise to power with the New Deal. Now they occupy the White House and a major portion of government. They seem determined to destroy America as she is and was meant to be, and instead re-invent her as a socialist regime, focused only on power and ignoring the needs and rights of the people. This must be opposed by the faithful. It is our duty. For the Bishops, it is our Apostolic duty. This is a duty in which we cannot fail. God will help us; this you all should remember. We shall reiterate that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against Christ’s Church and His people.

     We must further pray that Bishops, clergy and people of other provinces respond in a similar manner as We have admonished you, dear brethren, to respond. This is an era of a crossroads. Will the Land of the Free remain so, or will she become a socialist hell on earth? We must fight for the former and fight against the latter.

Conclusion

     In conclusion, We pray that each of you will reflect duly upon these words, maintain the doctrine of the true faith as handed down from the Apostles, and oppose legitimately to the best of your abilities these threats against freedom that we now face in the United States. To my Esteemed Brethren the Bishops and Ordinary Clergy of this Metropolitan See and Province, I charge you to admonish your flocks in these matters, keep the faith, and promulgate it throughout the world. Seeing the light of Christ, it is impossible that the heathen, the fallen, and the enemies of Christ’s Church can stand against it. Never give up the fight for justice on earth, trusting in the justice of eternity, and always keep the faith. The enemies of the church, including the socialists and communists that form the primary topic of this letter, may win spotted victories, and even large victories, but they shall not have the final victory. Remember this always as you live your Christian vocation and await the reward of everlasting life. We pray health and happiness to you all and impart Our Apostolic Blessing on each of you.

22 November 2010

Moral outrage at civil rights violations

A.M.D.G.

Want to see a government official with her hand on your wife's breast right there at the airport? Care to see a government official put his hands down your child's pants? The latest round of civil rights abuses by TSA are discussed in a recent ACNS article, and you can find more by searching with the various news services on the internet.

I join with the victims of these abuses in moral outrage at the conduct of TSA as a whole and the nonchalant attitude of the President who, after all, does not himself have to undergo these humiliating pat-downs. It is one thing to maintain proper security. It is another thing to humiliate people in an indecent manner and violate their civil rights all in the name of "state security." I pray that American remains a free nation and does not become the next police state in the world.

21 November 2010

Leaving the CofE for Rome in Droves: Is it real or is it hype?

A.M.D.G.

No Anglo-Catholic around the world can help but feel for the situation of Anglo-Catholics in the Church of England. It is at least as bad as the situation in the Episcopal Church of the US in the 1970s, and that led to the growth of the continuing Anglican movement, independent communions, etc. Now Anglicans, specifically Anglicans in the CofE, have another choice given to them by the Pope under Anglicanorum coetibus.

Media reports, especially those put out by Catholic news groups, paint a picture that the CofE is dissolving from within. A few pathfinding Bishops are leading the way, priests and laity are following, and soon all but the lefties will have left the CofE for Rome. Is this actually accurate when one looks at the numbers? What is the real impact? 

There are approximately 7 million Anglicans world-wide. There are approximately 800 bishops attending the Lambeth Conference. Five bishops leaving, then, amount to less than 1% of the world's Anglican Bishops based on those attending Lambeth, and an even smaller percentage, counting all the Anglican Bishops. And what of the laity? If 1000 members of the CofE leave, for example, that's only 1/100th of a percent of the world's Anglicans. Even if 1000 parishioners leave per bishop, or even per priest who is leaving, it isn't a very big dent.

Now, the argument has been made that this is just the beginning and many more will follow. That may very well happen, but from my own experience and observation, there is rarely a true and sustain mass exodus. The numerical proportion to which this is impacting things is very likely typical media hype.

Numerical impact isn't the only type of influence, though. What is the real message and the real impact of this new offer made by the Pope and the response to it? The real influence has been to make known on a massive scale the plight of the Anglican Church, especially within the Church of England itself, and to make available another alternative to those in the Anglican Church who no longer wish to stand idly by as our sacred faith is trampled upon. Even if the numbers are not all that high, and even if they never are, this still sends a message.

This is the situation that Anglo-Catholics find themselves in. We all have sought solutions, and there are many out there. Many of us have found a solution, and many are still seeking. It is never easy. Whichever route an Anglo-Catholic takes, it is important above all to maintain the faith.

20 November 2010

Nuns on the Mountain

A.M.D.G.

We were out climbing in the mountains around here today. I was coming down from the summit of one of the peaks when I saw a nun...Benedictine, I believe, coming up. She was in her habit. Then I passed more and more. It looked like the entire convent was climbing the mountain. They were all in their habits, veil and all. One was carrying a rosary in her hand. Now...if nuns can wear their habits to climb a mountain, why can't more of us secular priests get up the nerve to wear the cassock down here in town?

14 November 2010

Response to ACNS Article on New Airport Procedures

A.M.D.G.

The recent article from the ACNS on frightening moral concerns with new airport security started me thinking about my own observations travelling over the years. Travelling as a child all over the world, we never experienced anything in the US or elsewhere that compares to what seems to be going on American airports now. The excuse for the new procedures is a need to protect the people. That is a noble goal, but it is also the excuse of every tyrant in history. As Benjamin Franklin said, he who would trade an ounce of freedom for a pound of security is worthy of neither.

I also question a system in which, despite the data that clearly demonstrates that the attacks are coming exclusively from one segment of the world's population, yet continually insists on harassing children and the elderly, American military veterans, and other upstanding citizens all in the name of political correctness. I know one high-ranking retired military officer who, along with his wife, was detained and questioned upon re-entered the United States. His wife was put in a separate room, and they could not open the doors on their own. Is this the face of the terrorist threat, or are we becoming another police state just like those we claim to be fighting?

And where is the recourse? If you stand up for yourself, you run the serious risk of being further harassed, detained, or arrested. This is not the America I grew up in. It is not the America of my ancestors. When government agencies or specific individuals within the government behave in this manner, they fail in their moral obligation to the people. We therefore have a right and a duty to speak out on this matter. A true and just government must behave in an ethical fashion towards those to whom it has been given to govern.

13 November 2010

Anglicanism and the Church of England: newyorker.com

A.M.D.G.

Here is an interesting article in the New Yorker dealing with the ongoing saga of women priestesses in the Church of England (not to mention the worldwide Anglican Church). It gives details of both sides of the argument. Check out the link below.

Anglicanism and the Church of England: newyorker.com

10 November 2010

The Beauty of God's World

A.M.D.G. 

Nature is a wonderful example of the beauty of God's many creations. Here are some photographs I took on a volcanic island in Asia recently. Rather than comment more, I will let the photos speak for themselves (though I can't resist manking a few captions).


This waterfall goes right into the ocean.

A flower floating on the water

Two flowers in a tree.

An ocean sunset
 
A waterfall in a ravine

A view of the ocean

04 November 2010

The liturgy was designed for God!

A.M.D.G.

These days many think that liturgy is a form of entertainment and that it must be changed to suit the whims and desires of the congregation without regard to Scripture, doctrine, and tradition. This becomes especially problematic when people mistakenly believe that they can and should modify the liturgy just to fill the pews or "get the young people in." It is a fallacy and one that is ultimately doomed to failure. Canon Jerome Osjv, an Old Catholic prelate in the United Kingdom, recently put it very well with the following statement. 

________________________
The liturgy was designed for God! The "young people" can be catechised and learn that the universe does not revolve around their likes and dislikes! It took a little time for me to appreciate that, but I was glad when I did... as are, it seems, most "young" people when they (re)discover Tradition.

________________________
Thanks to Canon Jerome for saying it so well and so succinctly.

03 November 2010

From the Archives - An Old Letter to My Parish

A.M.D.G.

From the Archives...

This is a letter that I sent to my parish some time ago when I was a layman in the Episcopal Church. It was an attempt to point out the issues facing the parish and the Church as a whole. No priests discussed this matter with me or even acknowledged that it was written. It was made known to me by a member of the staff of the parish that the priests had been ordered not to discuss the letter or even acknowledge it to anyone, including me. It was after this that I ultimately made the decision to leave the Episcopal Church.

With deep regret, these issues still face the worldwide Church, and in particular the Anglican Church.

The letter has been edited for content, with names of parishes and places removed.

+RBJ

Dear Reverend Fathers,

I wish to address some concerns of recent and not-so-recent developments within the Anglican Church. As an Anglo-Catholic who feels increasingly ostracized for holding beliefs that are “not with the times,” I must make these concerns known to the parish clergy. I wish to state that I am voicing these concerns out of concern for the collective Catholic Church as a whole, of which the Anglican Church is a part, and the people of my home parish of which I am pleased to be a member.

The first concern is that of the excessive use of Rite II. While I personally prefer the older language usage of Rite I, the more modern language of Rite II is acceptable. One priest informed me that this was to expose us “traditionalists” to something new. Yet, the typically Rite II Masses did not utilize Rite I on those same days. Both of these changes defeat the stated purpose of exposing parishioners to “something new,” and I submit that something less desirable is at work here. I submit that the goal is gradually to erode the traditional liturgy of Rite I and replace it over time with Rite II. I have heard Rite I called excessively penitential. Is there anything wrong with penance, especially before receiving a Holy Sacrament? Rite II, it could be argued, is quite lazy, and smacks of the modernistic view of “anything goes,” and everything being acceptable. Anglican liturgy is known throughout the world, even in the Roman Catholic Church, for its beauty and reverence. Let us not lose that beauty and reverence in favor of modernism.

The issue is not so much the liturgy itself, but the underlying meaning of the liturgy. One priest stated that there is no such thing as traditional, as Church tradition has been constantly changing over time. He is indeed correct. However, this is absolutely no excuse whatsoever for rapid, sweeping changes (not just in liturgy). The Holy Catholic Church of Christ is that body of the Faithful which has persisted since the first Pentecost. As Anglicans, we are part of that tradition. We in this generation are not the Church ourselves. We are part of the two thousand year old continuous church. Church tradition is an integral part of the Church, and I need hardly tell you that Christ vested the Apostles with the authority to establish this Sacred Tradition. Church tradition, to retain its universality, and to remind us of our part in this collective body of Christ, must change slowly, gradually, and rationally to that the changes reflect neither the personality of any one person or group, nor the personality of any one generation. Church tradition must represent the collective body of the Faithful over the continuous history of the church. Broad, sweeping changes in liturgy made largely during the 1970’s erode this essential Catholic aspect of our Anglican Church. The feeling is fit the liturgy to the people rather than instruct them in tradition and their role as Christians in the collective history of the Church. This rapid change to “keep with the times” makes the liturgy of our time and thus very likely obsolete to persons of different cultures and temporal beliefs than our own. (Further analysis is too involved for this letter.) In addition, the recent full communion with the Lutheran Church is, in the context of Catholic doctrine, a mistake. We can look to Scripture, Tradition, and Reason, and all three tell us that, since the Lutheran Church has had an intentional break in Apostolic Succession, they are not keeping with Catholic doctrine concerning the Holy Orders and Sacraments. Therefore full communion is not only improper but impossible without changing doctrine. I therefore suggest that this state of full communion represents not a reconciliation, but an underlying change in doctrine, regardless of what the doctrine may appear to be on the surface in most parishes. These rapid changes puts the Church in “our time,” and not in the context of the Church evolution as a whole.

Liturgy itself is meaningless without underlying doctrine. In my observation the changes in liturgy reflect a disturbing change in doctrine. First, the temporal liturgy of Rite II, by its nature of being of our own time, represents a break with the Catholic doctrine and tradition which I just discussed. Without expounding on the specifics in detail, the underlying doctrines of the Mass which unite the Faithful appear also to have been eroded by modernism. One such doctrinal issue is the ordination of women. I maintain that ordination of women to the Priesthood and Episcopate should not have been done in the first place. Reasons for this lie in Scripture, Tradition, and Reason. I might suggest that the ordination of female Bishops threatens the very Apostolic Succession which has made us a part of the continuous Catholic Church. This change is often defended by saying women are equal to men. I firmly believe women are equal to men. Nevertheless, they are not the same. They are not only obviously physiologically different, but have different roles in life. The fact that these changes accompanied the feminist movement cannot possibly be coincidence. Is this the Religion of the Month Club?

Many laity and clergy apply secular societal norms (which are ever-changing) to the Church, and this is as dangerous as theology by democracy. The theology of the 70’s was handed down from above without regard to origin, and forced upon the congregation. Not surprisingly, many consider this radically changed doctrine to be quite normal. Anglo-Catholics tend to disagree because, once again, this is liturgy and doctrine of the times rather than of the collective history of the Church. It may “bring us into the future,” and Reason may agree with this, but without the past (our Scripture and Tradition) to guide us we have no compass. The belief of Immanentism seems to have replaced the dual immanent-transcendental nature of God in a justification for looking to the secular world for guidance on religious matters.

Modernist thought is replacing tradition in an increasing way not only in doctrine, but in our moral code. If people cannot get moral guidance from their church, then from whence should it come? In an increasingly secularized society that is losing its moral compass, the Church can and must stand strong. Instead it appears the Church has preferred to engage in promoting the latest fashionable socio-political cause.

I consider the sexual morals of society to be among the worst degraded. I consider, in keeping with the traditional teachings of the Church, that homosexuality, whatever the cause, is wrong and contrary to the will of God. I state without reservation that anti-homosexual violence is itself wrong, and is certainly an inappropriate way of expressing disapproval. Such acts are no different than, for example, the heinous act of bombing an abortion clinic to express a pro-life stance. Nevertheless, homosexuality is destructive to society, contrary to family values, and contrary to the teachings of the Church. I would not want my children exposed to the positive promotion of homosexuality as normal, and certainly not at my church. I state my peaceful yet adamant opposition to the local “Gay Men’s Chorus” practicing (and performing, if memory serves) in our parish (or in any other parish). Homosexuals need the Church as much, if not more, than any of the rest of us. However, open practice of homosexuality should not be promoted within the Church.

Continuing with sexual ethics, I wish to address marital issues. While I cannot say what is specifically taught to the youth in the Sunday schools of our parish, my general observation of the church as a whole is that it is very open to a variety of sexual ethics, leaving the choice up to the individual. Certainly the choice is up to the individual ultimately (we always have a choice), but sexual urges are most powerful. Wouldn’t it be nice if the church gave specific guidance to control these urges and use them in their proper context? Pre-marital sex should not be promoted. Sex is both an act of procreation and bonding between a married man and woman. It is a gift from God and represents a very powerful bond between husband and wife. Certainly people sometimes give into temptation, but idealistically abstinence is best and should be promoted to our children and unmarried adults alike. Sex with a partner in a non-marital relationship that terminates represents a broken bond between two people that wasn’t truly present to begin with, usually involving promises that were also broken. A marriage subsequent to this may cause doubts in one or both future spouses about their trustworthiness. An engaged couple who agrees to remain chaste until the solemnization is putting sex in its proper context. So doing states that both partners love each other so much that they will not engage in an act of deep bonding that represents a commitment that isn’t fully made. Only in the security of Holy Matrimony can a man and a woman fully give themselves to each other. This is the traditional teaching of the Church, and should be promoted in our own parish. I hope I will be informed that this is what is being taught in our parish.

While I applaud my church for wanting to bring as many people as possible to Jesus and the Anglican tradition of the Catholic faith, I am concerned about this trend of “embracing” the current politically correct views of the day. My study of economics shows that this is likely motivated by a desire to fill the pews, especially since we are the smallest of the catholic denominations, and smaller than many protestant denominations. Saying to the congregation the equivalent of “believe or do what you want” is not only dangerous, but it leaves many in turmoil. Take a stand according to the true faith and traditions of Catholic doctrine. That is your job.

My last concern I will voice is that there is a strong bias towards these politically correct views and against the above stated views. For example, those who believe women can be ordained are applauded for their support of women’s rights (never mind that women’s rights have nothing to do with the theology pertaining to ordination), but one who states the opposite of that view would be condemned as “anti-woman,” or “anti-progress.” Traditional viewpoints are condemned as stuffy, in the past, outdated, irrelevant, not keeping with the times, etc. How should traditional Anglo-Catholics feel about their church home when those who claim they want equality suddenly show great hypocrisy and accept only their own views? I make no attempt to hide the fact that I, as an Anglo-Catholic, do not accept these modernistic trends. We do not, however, oppose change. We oppose irrational, trendy change that seeks to remove the Church from the Sacred Tradition and history of the two thousand year old universal community of Faith.

I state these opinions out of concern for my parish and the Church as a whole. I see no reason why Anglo-Catholics should be forced out of their church simply for holding their Church’s traditional viewpoints. I wish only to improve my parish and enrich the lives of its members.

In conclusion, the Church is above all society, all societal traditions, and all of us mere mortals. Church bodies cannot alter truth. We must preserve the past of our Church and tradition in order to protect our future. Please think about and pray about what has been said in this letter. I will be more than happy to discuss it with you.

Sue-Happy America

A.M.D.G.

America's favorite pastime when I was growing up was baseball. Now it is suing other people. Justice usually isn't at the heart of these frivolous lawsuits we hear about so often in the news, but rather money. Greed is the underlying reason. People see a chance to exploit others and get money. Usually it is a corporation with deep pockets who gets targeted, because people feel that the corporation "has so much money, they won't miss a few million and might even settle out of court." Also behind this are greedy and unscrupulous attorneys who would sue their own grandmother if they thought there was a profit in it. I don't mean to insult all lawyers, of course, but only the ones to whom this letter applies.

A lawyer friend of mine recently told me that only around one-third of graduating law students on average gets a job right out of law school. I don't know if this is the precisely correct statistic, but the point is still clear. Law students graduate and need work in their chosen field. They need to find work. So, when they can't find decent jobs in the legal profession... Well, it isn't a surprise there are so many frivolous lawsuits.

Today by email I received notification that I was on the winning side of just such a frivolous lawsuit against Google. I didn't even know I was part of such a thing. Apparently all people with GMail accounts were included. Perhaps some of you received this very same email as I did. As I understand the story, the argument was over Google Buzz and privacy, and some people thought their privacy was violated. Google I gather denied it, yet chose to settle out of court for $8.5 million. However, the money doesn't go to the people represented in the class action suit. It goes to support organizations about internet privacy AND...it goes to pay the lawyers! Now isn't that interesting? If I understand this correctly, the people who brought the suit get nothing, but as usual, the lawyers make out like bandits.

And I'm sure we all remember the insanity of the million dollar lawsuit against McDonald's over a cup of spilled hot coffee. Apparently you don't cry over spilled coffee, you take the restaurant to court. At least that suit did have a positive outcome. Now we are all thoroughly warned that our McDonald's coffee is hot! (Did any of us really have to be told that coffee is hot?)

It is time that Americans return to having respect for their fellow human beings instead of putting the pursuit of the "almighty dollar" above all else. A little love and Christian charity goes a long way to solving problems.

02 November 2010

Why All Souls' Day is a Happy Day to Me

A.M.D.G.

I just finished celebrating the three masses appointed for All Souls' Day today. You'd think with the lack of flowers, austere modifications to the mass, black vestments, the Dies Irae, and so on that it would be a truly depressing chore to say masses on this day. Perhaps it might bring back memories of funeral masses, weeping families, and the like. Yet, I don't feel this way at all. I truly find this day a particularly joyous occasion.

Today the Church prays for the dead. We pray for all the faithful departed in Christ, as well as for specific departed for whom we wish to pray. Through this mass we are reminded of the saving grace of Jesus Christ and the hope of eternal salvation. Though we feel a loss when our friends and loved ones pass away, how can we really be truly sad when we know that through Christ they may live! It is this wonderful fact of our Faith that we are reminded of three times today. It is for this reason that this is one of my favorite days in the Christian calendar.

31 October 2010

Why on Earth does the Media Glorify Bad Behavior?

A.M.D.G.


Do you know what your children
are watching on television?

This evening I was watching one of my favorite documentaries, and they were talking about a late fisherman's life. Their description went well beyond his skills on the water. It talked about and showed video footage of him talking about how he took "every drug on the planet," was a hard-drinking, fast-living, strip club-going individual. They then called him an American hero.

No one is perfect. People make mistakes. People can grow. Yet, when dangerous and immoral activities are promoted in conjunction with someone deemed a "hero" by the media, there is a problem. This sends the message that it is "cool" to be that way. There is no message of "I made some mistakes, kids. Don't follow those practices." If it were that way, then there is a sense of social responsibility there. When the complete package is presented in a positive light, however, it is a case of a negative role model portrayed as a positive one. This is what happened in this documentary.

It does not stop here with American media. Look at Paris Hilton and Britney Spears as just two examples.  Children somehow are allowed to watch cartoons like South Park and Family Guy. Television dramas promote immoral behavior and lack of responsibility. Trash television has taken over.
A nation that tolerates media promoting what is base, immoral, and indecent as good, positive, and acceptable has lost its moral compass. "Oh, so he used every drug known to man. So what? He's a good person, so it doesn't matter," they might say. This was the gist of what the television documentary was saying as well. What total nonsense. This is a clear product of the age of moral relativism in which we rationalize and justify everyone's behavior by saying that they as people aren't bad. If we say what they are doing or have done is bad, then we are accused of somehow attacking them as human beings. This is not what we are doing, however, when we condemn their behavior. Condemning the sin is not condemning the person. (Read more about that here.) 

When we justify sin by making the excuse that the sinner is inherently good, we are projecting our emotions about the person onto their sin. Pretty soon all behavior becomes acceptable, no matter how bad, especially if we like the person. The more this goes on, the harder it becomes to stand against it. And there is the problem with these media portrayals of bad behavior in a positive light.


And how is it we are ignoring all of this as a society? Perhaps we have collectively taken the crucifix down from the wall so we aren't constantly reminded that Jesus is watching us. It makes us feel better as we are fed the over-the-top garbage the media corporations are putting out to win the ratings game and get more money. The trouble is, God knows all. We as a society are not fooling him. Society is only fooling itself. So, we might as well put the crucifix back up on the wall where it belongs. We might as well put God back in society. He is everywhere anyway. We might as well admit it.

30 October 2010

The Traditional Old Anglo-Catholic Church - Thank God We're Behind the Times

A.M.D.G.

"If I were not a Catholic, and were looking for the true Church in the world today, I would look for the one Church which did not get along well with the world; in other words, I would look for the Church which the world hates.    My reason for doing this would be, that if Christ is in any one of the churches of the world today, He must still be hated as He was when He was on earth in the flesh.    If you would find Christ today, then find the Church that does not get along with the world.   Look for the Church that is hated by the world, as Christ was hated by the world.   Look for the Church which is accused of being behind the times, as Our Lord was accused of being ignorant and never having learned.   Look for the Church which men sneer at as socially inferior, as they sneered at Our Lord because He came from Nazareth.    Look for the Church which is accused of having a devil, as Our Lord was accused of being possessed by Beelzebub, the Prince of Devils. Look for the Church which the world rejects because it claims it is infallible, as Pilate rejected Christ because he called Himself the Truth.    Look for the Church which amid the confusion of conflicting opinions, its members love as they love Christ, and respect its voice as the very voice of its Founder, and the suspicion will grow, that if the Church is unpopular with the spirit of the world, then it is unworldly, and if it is unworldly, it is other-worldly.    Since it is other-worldly, it is infinitely loved and infinitely hated as was Christ Himself.…”
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

My favorite bishop of the modern era does it again! The above words of Fulton Sheen were sent to me this morning, and they not only rang true, but they got me thinking of the See entrusted to me, the Archdiocese of the Southwest. We have certainly been called "behind the times." I'm not sure we get along with the world at all. We have been accused of essentially all that +Sheen mentions above. We rightly claim to represent the Truth of Christ, and many reject us. Indeed, we are in this world, but not of this world. But what about love?

Even when there are disagreements and varying opinions internally, as inevitably will happen with humans, I have always observed in our little archdiocese a sense of Christian love towards one another. How many divisions of Christ's Church do not practice this? From my experience, quite a few. This is what we want in the Archdiocese of the Southwest; Christ's unfiltered and unapologetic religion of Truth and Love. This is what we have. Christ's love for the Church is infinite, and this is what we reflect.

28 October 2010

The Role of Societal Leaders - Spoken over Half a Century Ago

A.M.D.G.

This was an allocution of Pius XII to the Roman nobility on 11 January 1951. While the Roman nobility specifically is being addressed, it is nonetheless a good treatise on social responsibility and follows in the theme of my previous letter on role models (see that letter here). To whom much has been given, much is expected. The so-called elites of modern society often fail to see this crucial point. Yet, Pius XII saw it and, speaking more than fifty years ago, made it quite clear that the duty of society's leaders is service.
+RBJ


With all Our heart We extend Our paternal greeting to the members of the Roman Patriciate and Nobility who, true to an ancient tradition, have gathered around Us at the dawn of the New Year to offer Us their fervent best wishes, as expressed with filial devotion by their illustrious and eloquent representative.

One after another, each year enters history, handing down to the new year a legacy, the responsibility for which it bears upon itself. The year just ended, the Holy Year 1950, will remain one of the greatest in the moral and especially the supernatural order. Your family annals will note its more resplendent dates, like so many bright beacons to light the way for your children and grandchildren.

But will these annals be like a closed book? Will they count only the memories of a past dead and gone? No. On the contrary, they must be a message from the vanished generations to those of the future.

The celebration of the Holy Year came to a close for Rome, not like a spectacle that had reached its end, but rather as the program of a growing life purified, sanctified, and fecundated by grace, one that must continue to enrich itself with the endless contribution of the thoughts and feelings, the resolutions and actions whose memories your ancestors have passed on to you, that you yourselves might pass on their example to those who shall follow you.

The furious currents of a new age envelop the traditions of the past in their whirlwinds. Yet, more than this, these winds show what is destined to die like withered leaves, and what instead tends with the genuine force of its interior life to stand firm and live on. A nobility and a patriciate that would, as it were, grow stiff and decrepit by regretting times gone by, would consign themselves to an inevitable decline. Today more than ever, you are called upon to be an elite, not only by blood and by stock, but even more by your works and sacrifices, by creative actions in the service of the entire social community.

And this is not just a duty of man and citizen that none may shirk with impunity. It is also a sacred commandment of the faith that you have inherited from your fathers and that you must, in their wake, leave whole and unaltered to your descendants.

Banish, therefore, from your ranks all despondency and faint-heartedness; all despondency in the face of the age’s evolution, which is bearing away many things that other epochs had built; and all faint-heartedness at the sight of the grave events accompanying the novelties of our age. Being Roman means being strong in action, but also in support. Being Christian means confronting the sufferings, the trials, the tasks, and the needs of the age with that courage, strength, and serenity of spirit that draws the antidote to all human fear from the wellsprings of eternal hope.

How humanly great is Horace’s proud dictum: Si fractus illabatur orbis, impavidum ferient ruinae (Even if the world crumbles to pieces, its ruins would strike him without, however, unsettling him). Yet how much greater still, how much more confident and exalting is the victorious cry that rises from Christian lips and hearts brimming with faith: Non confundar in aeternum!

Thus beseeching the Creator of all good to grant you intrepid fortitude and the divine gift of an unshakable hope founded on faith, with all Our heart We give you, beloved Sons and Daughters, your families, and all your loved ones, near and far, sick and in health, and all your holy aspirations and undertakings, Our Apostolic blessing.
Pius pp XII

Good Role Models

A.M.D.G.

Society is starved for good role models today. This applies to adults and youth alike. Considering positive role models are essential to the development of young people into good Christian adults and upstanding, productive citizens, this is particularly troublesome. 

Coming from the South, I need look no further than the fine collection of Confederate Generals for role models. For example, Robert E. Lee is rightly considered one of the finest gentlemen ever to live and produced much wisdom for living that is as applicable today as over a century ago when he wrote it. These are historical role models, though. Environment is important to development, and so youth in particular need living role models around them to look up to. In addition to those role models around them, they need positive societal role models to confirm to them that what is proper behavior really is proper behavior. 

I can certainly think of some living people who are good role models. Perhaps Ed Viesturs, the first American to climb all 14 mountains in the world that are above 8000 meters in altitude without supplemental oxygen would be a good one. He set a big (very big) goal and worked hard to overcome the odds, even giving up his veterinary practice to pursue mountaineering full time. And then there is the physical and mental accomplishment. This is not a bad choice at all. The only trouble is that, while he is well-known in the mountaineering community, he is not exactly a household name in America. The kids aren't all wearing Ed Viesturs t-shirts.

Now...contrast this to the over-paid egomaniacs in professional American sports today. What kind of role models are these? Even college athletes have it put into their heads that they can do whatever they want and have other people to do their work for them. Adultery is the norm. I just don't see a thing in their behavior or the general culture surrounding them that promotes good values to anyone, much less the youth of today. The message seems to be "do whatever you want, for there are no consequences." Yet, these are the household names. These are the ones to whom America's youth looks up to?

What about the popular music stars and other celebrities? I hesitate to call most of it music, but nevertheless, it is popular. Look at their far-from-moral behavior in the news. Is this positive? Not hardly. As with the sports players, they communicate to our youth that there are no consequences. They can do whatever they want, and they don't really even have to do much to work. It's all about the glitz and glamor. And then there is the complete and total lack of morality in Hollywood. These are the ones to whom America's youth looks up to?

We need role models for our youth and for society in general, and we need them now. It is time that those who are public figures, celebrities, movie stars, pop singers, and sports players are made to realize that there are consequences to their actions, if not to them, then to society. They need an injection of social responsibility instead of whatever else they're getting high on. They need to deflate their egos and help other people. They need a good dose of morality instead of booze. They need to start setting a good example for everyone now.

26 October 2010

What has happened to our educational system?

A.M.D.G.

It's official. The more educated and more wealthy people in America are less moral! This is according to statistics stemming from a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. American society has been slowly becoming more and more permissive since the 1940s (see a book on the subject here). Modern secular psychology has been taking over as the dominant guide rather than Christian morality. These things rarely happen overnight. It should come as no surprise that it was a gradual process, slowly eroding our society's morality. What is most sad, though, is that financial success (having or earning more money) and education (going to college) are now associated with lower morality. No longer, it seems, is a permissive attitude limited to the stereotypical "liberal East Coast academic," but rather is a national epidemic. Perhaps now I see why someone once told me that no one with a brain could or should become a catholic. In fact, he told me I was too smart to be a catholic.

As a point of statistics, education and income are generally highly correlated, so we can simplify matters here by just focusing on education. So what is it about our educational system that breeds such liberals?

Let's look at some of the numbers by category....

________________________________________________________________________

Abortion

If you graduate college you are 33.3% less likely to oppose abortion, and you are more than twice as likely to view the murder of unborn children as morally acceptable. College graduates are also almost twice as likely to view abortion as not a moral issue. Higher income also reduces your probability of opposing abortion.

Homosexuality

If you graduate college, you are almost 50% less likely to view homosexuality as morally wrong, about twice as likely to think it is not a moral issue, and almost three times as likely to view it as morally acceptable. Income followed the same trend, though the differences between the income categories in terms of their moral view on this issue were less dramatic than for education.

Alcohol Abuse

If you graduate college, you are a little less than 50% less likely to view alcohol abuse as morally wrong, and well over twice as likely to view it as not a moral issue. What was particularly interesting was that the percentage of people who believed alcohol abuse to be morally acceptable was the same for high school graduates and college graduates, but twice as high for those with some college. Income followed the same trend, though the differences between the income categories in terms of their moral view on this issue were less dramatic than for education.

Fornication

If you graduate college, you are a little less than 50% less likely to view fornication as morally wrong, around 33.3% more likely to view it as not a moral issue, and about 20% more likely to view it as morally acceptable. As expected, income followed in the same trend, but was less dramatic in magnitude. 

Marijuana Use

If you graduate college, you are a little less than 50% less likely to view smoking pot as morally wrong and more than twice as likely to view it as not a moral issue. What was a little surprising was that college graduates were slightly less likely to view smoking pot as morally wrong. So, they either refuse to say it is wrong (the same thing as saying it is right) or say it isn't even a moral issue. Income followed the same trends with about the same proportional changes.

________________________________________________________________________

These statistics make me wonder just what is being taught in colleges these days! They certainly aren't getting any of these notions from my classes! Of course, if I think back to what I witnessed during my college days and time in graduate school, I'm not overly surprised by any of this. My alma mater, despite being a conservative university in the South, still put on a production of The Vagina Monologues, complete with a wall advertisement in the student center about the size of Raphael's mural The Deliverance of Saint Peter. So, I suppose I just shouldn't be shocked that the survey showed that college graduates are less likely to profess Christian morals. 
As I sit here listening to Bach's organ chorale Wachet auf (Sleepers wake), I can't help but think that it is time for America to wake up. What we need is an overhaul of the university system, but the likelihood  of that anytime soon is probably as high as that of getting struck by lightening twice while in a cave. It's not all that bad, though. There are some things we can do.

Christians have got to continue preserving and promoting morality and increase the efforts to do so. No one is perfect, and we all make mistakes. Yet, if we adopt a permissive, "anything goes" attitude, then morals and society necessarily degenerate. As for universities, we can promote ethics and morality within them, and especially give assistance to Christian universities and colleges, no matter the denomination, in their most valuable mission of educating our youth to be good citizens and good Christians, allowing Christian morality, principles, and faith to guide them in all aspects of their lives. We can promote Christian morals around our communities and in whom we elect to office. We no longer should remain silent.