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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

21 April 2012

Spiritual Duty and the Upcoming Election

J.M.J.

It is now essentially certain who the two principal candidates will be for the November 2012 Presidential Election in the United States. It is all virtually certain that one of those two men will be the next President. Therefore, it is left for good Christian men and women to determine the best candidate in accordance with the Faith. 

This is not a decision that can be left merely to secular principles. One cannot shirk one's Christian duty by claiming that this is not a religious matter, but rather a secular one into which religion should not be interjected. We are intended to put our Faith into action. We must put our Faith into action. We are responsible for taking reasonable actions to fight evil wherever we can. We are responsible for helping to establish the Kingdom of God here on earth. 

The election of the American President is not outside the realm of religion, but rather inextricably intertwined with it. The Presidency is inherently a secular post, as the United States is not a theocracy. Yet, that does not mean that religious principles cannot and should not guide one's choice in the voting booth. People in general have many varied reasons for choosing their candidate. Some of these are quite ludicrous, such as the candidate's physical appearance. Some vote based on their bank book, i.e., for the candidate they think will be most financially beneficial to them. When one boils off all the superficial reasons for voting a particular way, one is left to focus on the essence of the candidates. Which candidate is the best? Which candidate will make the best President? Which candidate is best for the country and for the people? These questions, when the superficial considerations are removed, can only be answered from a standpoint of faith and morals. Once considerations of petty politics, money, power, greed and so forth have been eliminated, there is nothing left but the character of the candidate. 

In this upcoming election, one candidate has proven that he stands for intrinsic evil. His constant opposition to religious freedom and his perpetual attempts to suppress the Church are troubling in the extreme. Under the Obama regime, personal and religious freedoms have deteriorated greatly, while Islamists and others have been given preferential treatment to the detriment of others. Abortion is now considered an absolutely sacred right by his administration. Attempts to control free people have been numerous, such as the Obamacare mandate to purchase health care or face legal penalties. Indeed, Christians are rapidly being placed in the position of having to choose between their conscience and the law. Given another term in office, he would surely make use of it to further his socialist goals, perhaps leading to the destruction of the United States as we know it. 

The alternative candidate, Mitt Romney, is nevertheless a subject of much controversy among Christians and conservatives, largely due to his Mormon religion. His stance on abortion also troubles some, given that it appears he supports it in some cases. The various religious considerations have left many Christians with the choice of voting for Romney or not voting at all. The reason for this is that they do not wish to support a candidate who, while better than Obama, still represents religious positions with which they do not agree. While it is good that they are working to discern the proper choice based on faith and morals, it misses the big picture. It is virtually inevitable that Obama or Romney will win the election. Therefore, the moral choice for a Christian must be the one that minimizes the opportunity for evil to impact the world. Sometimes one must vote for the candidate that is "the lesser of two evils." Now, the alternative to the choice that represents evil may not inherently be evil, and thus is better referred to as the "more perfect candidate." In a case such as we face, this follows from proportionate reason. If we abstain from voting, and we would have voted for the more perfect candidate, then we are supporting the position of the greater evil. An abstention from voting for the more perfect candidate due to that candidate's flaws and position, his embracing of anti-Catholic principles, and so forth, is no different than casting a vote for the candidate that represents intrinsic evil. That is material cooperation with evil. Therefore, proportionate reason must be exercised and a vote must be cast. Not voting when it is within your power to do so is not standing on principle. It is cooperating with the forces of darkness to allow evil to flourish on earth. 

Each person must vote first and foremost according to the faith and morals of Christianity. As people with the gift of free will from God, the choice of candidate to select and indeed whether to vote at all rests entirely with the individual. It is not the Church's place to tell individuals for whom to vote. However, it is the Church's right and duty to provide pastoral advice on the principles of the Faith and their application to the choice of candidate. In this election coming in November, the economy is not the most important factor. The ongoing military conflicts are not the most important consideration. Neither are health care or government scandals. In this election, the most important issue is each person exercising the individual right to cast a vote in opposition of evil. 

20 April 2012

Disobedience of Immoral Laws

J.M.J.

The Founding Fathers of the United States knew very well the role of religion and the true source of authority of government. They may not have agreed upon all matters of theology, but there was a consensus that, in this new Republic, the authority of civil government comes from the consent of the governed, and that right of the people comes from God. Today the unbridled contemptuous conceit of the American government is a world apart from its form in the new Republic. The State is being promoted as not just supreme, but supreme in its own right. Christians, especially those promoting the sanctity of life, are called domestic terrorists. Those opposing the policies of the government on religious grounds are called extremists. At the same time, the government seeks to suppress the Church in many diverse ways.

Our Founding Fathers new that laws only have enforceability as just laws if they are under God. Immoral laws have no force. Unjust laws have no force. Not only do we as Christians have a duty to oppose immoral laws, we have a duty and a right to disobey them. If we do not, then we become complicit in the wrong contained in the law. We become responsible for their outcome and effects. We cannot place complying with the law or supporting the law above our duty as Christians.

Sadly the faith of many who claim to be Christian today has been eroded to the point that they are more afraid of the government, the military, and the police than they are of God. Fear of the government leads to cooperation with unjust and immoral laws and policies when instead love of God should lead to actions against oppression and godless tyranny. Only through putting our faith in action can we hope to ensure the freedom of our faith and of all people on earth.

+ Rutherford Cardinal Johnson

18 April 2012

Stop Sitting Around Doing Nothing!

J.M.J.
We're at war, and there is no sense in denying it. In fact, to deny it would be deadly. We're at war for the very survival of our Faith as we know it, for the preservation of morality and decency, and for the survival of our society and culture. All of this has been under attack especially since the 1960s, and it has gotten progressively worse. It's easy to blame the modernists, the radicals, the secularists, or the liberals in the Church and government, but the blame does not stop there. Each and every one of us that has ever sat back and done nothing while our religions, traditions, and culture are eroded and destroyed is equally to blame. All of us who have refused to stand up for justice, for truth, for our Faith, and for our society because of fear of being in the minority, fear of being ridiculed, or fear of negative consequences is also to blame. There are no half measures when it comes to our Faith. One is either all in or all out. There is no half-Catholicism. One is either a Catholic or not. There is no half-Christianity. One is either Christian or one is not. Those who profess to be Christian, but still stand by and do nothing and say nothing while moral decency and our religion is attacked by secularists, modernists, and liberals can hardly call themselves Christian.

Our Faith is one of positive action for the purpose of making the world a better place. It is time for Christians to stop preaching to the choir and instead preach to a public that might not want to hear the message. It is time to stop giving in to fear. It is time to stop sitting around and doing nothing. Rather, it is time for all true Christians to rise up and take a positive stand for moral decency, for our Faith and for society.

05 April 2012

The Tug of War of the Liturgy

J.M.J.

This evening we celebrate the Mass of the Lord's Supper, in which our Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist. It was during His last meal with the Apostles that the chief of all Sacraments and the highest form of prayer was established and mandated to be done. The Apostles could not have fully comprehended the totality of meaning of this Sacrament. Even today perhaps we do not understand it fully, and that brings up an interesting and important point. The liturgy inherently represents the natural struggle that is the Christian Faith.

As we attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we are participating in the true and living Sacrifice that was carried out on Calvary. That sacrifice is the sacrifice that frees us from the bonds of sin. Yet, this is not a passive process. We do not achieve these benefits simply by sitting in the pews and listing to chant, hymns, sermons, and prayers. If we sit passively, we might leave the church with a warm feeling or an emotional high, but it does not represent any progress in true, lasting change or conversion of heart. It does not represent an internal victory of good over evil. In order to achieve these things, we must take up our own cross and join ourselves with the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross being carried out upon the altar. If we do not, then we eat and drink our own damnation when we receive communion. Only by dying to ourselves and dying to the world may we live.

No one said this was easy. It is not. To die to the world and all its many temptations is often an uphill battle. Our fallen nature makes us want to resist our own sacrifice, yet such personal sacrifice is necessary. To conquer death, we must die.

In the liturgy of the mass, we see this struggle played out. We begin with the priest, ministers, servers, and hopefully the faithful as well praying the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar. They begin with the antiphon "I will go unto the altar of God." These words proclaim our intent. We seek to go to the altar of God, where the sacrifice leading to salvation will be carried out. This statement exercising our free will is the first step. This is the first element of the struggle. Do we choose to go to God, or do we choose to serve the ways of Satan? That is the choice being made at the very beginning of the mass.

Next, after the introit proper to the day, comes the Kyrie. We ask God's mercy as Peter asked our Lord's mercy for denying him thrice. Without this humble petition, how can we make reparations for our sins? How can we take up our own cross? How can we drink from the cup of salvation? This is the second struggle. To receive salvation, we must petition God for mercy.

The Gloria follows on non-penitential days, in which we proclaim glory to God on high, peace on earth, good will towards men. Here, on joyous occasions, we must choose to acknowledge the source of all goodness and that it is to Him and Him alone that all glory must be given. Glory does not belong to worldly things, to money, to governments, or to commerce, but to God.

Next we hear the Word of God, first from the Old Testament or the Epistles, and then from the Holy Gospel. We hear the Word of God. We now face a choice just as we do outside the liturgy. We may either accept or reject the Word of God. We may either embrace it fully and try to live our lives according to it, or we may make excuses, equivocate, and rationalize how the Bible and the doctrine of the Faith are irrelevant to us as our modernist society suggests. That is the fourth struggle, and certainly one that we face every day in our efforts to live as Christians.

Now, in Sunday masses and certain other masses, we proclaim our faith in the Nicene Creed. And how difficult is it today to proclaim our faith in secular society? For many, it is all too easy to consider their faith a private matter and even deny it in public as Peter denied our Lord. Yet, as we have, like Peter, implored God for mercy, we now boldly proclaim our faith. From there, we are ready to participate in the offering. The offering, though, is not about the money in the plates. It is about the bread and wine that will become the Body and Blood of our Lord. It is also where we offer ourselves alongside our Lord. This is the sixth struggle we face in life. Do we let our Lord carry the cross, or to we pick it up like Simon of Cyrene? Do we join in our Lord's struggle, even unto our own demise like Saint Stephen, or do we ignore our calling?

Next we proceed through the Preface and Sanctus to the Canon of the Mass, where the actual, true, and living Sacrifice takes place. It is here, having made the choice to go unto the altar of God, to implore the mercy of our Lord, to embrace his Holy Word, to proclaim the Faith, and to offer ourselves alongside Christ, that we die to the world and live through Christ. However, we still have a choice at this point. Even after all else we have passed through, we can still back out, stumble, and fall at the last moment. It is not proclamation of our faith in the Creed that saves us, but the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross carried out upon the altar of God that saves us. Even after all the positive choices we have made, it is still possible to fail. The Faith of Christ is a constant struggle that necessarily continues to our last breath on our last day. We see this in the mass, for we must participate in every aspect of the mass in order to receive the totality of its benefits and grace. If we do everything our Lord expects, but then deny him in the end, the rest of what we did is irrelevant. Yet, even if we deny our Lord, he will respond with even greater love and mercy to all those who ask for it and return to the Cross.

There is much to be learned from the Holy Mass about our spiritual journey, and this is no accident. When our Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist, it was with a purpose. The mass is at once a giant prayer, a source of instruction, and a saving grace. When we depart from the mass, we ought to remember what we learned and experienced in the mass, and also what the very nature and structure of the mass teaches us about the struggles of our spiritual journey. Taking these things into the world is our armor against the assaults of the devil. Through the mass, let us always embrace the Cross of Christ, take up our own Cross, and follow Him unto the joy of eternal life.

04 April 2012

Sacrifice and Surrender

J.M.J.

As we come to the mid-way mark of Holy Week, we find ourselves in the midst of a troubled world. To a Christian, this should not come as a surprise. As the United States and other countries turn more and more away from Christ, it is only logical that there will be increased suffering. Almost four years ago, the people of the United States elected one of the most evil individuals in the history of world governance. For four years, he has attacked decent society, the Christian Church, personal freedom, religious freedom, and the Constitution that guarantees those freedoms under law. Now, as the Constitutionality of his Obamacare program is being deliberated in the Supreme Court, he has issued his own personal challenge to the Court. Apparently the White House does not believe that federal law is subject to judicial review. This is so troubling that the 5th Circuit Court has demanded clarification from the Department of Justice on exactly what their position is on this matter.

My dear children in Christ, the acts of this administration are as dangerous as those of Adolf Hitler and other despots throughout history. His apparent plan is to erode freedom, destroy the true Church of Christ, and create a socialist dictatorship in America. Not even Barack Hussein Obama can eradicate Christ's Holy Church from the earth or even from America. That does not mean that he and his faction cannot create an environment of death and the domain of Satan on earth and in America. Every action he and his administration have taken has been aimed at a complete take-over of the United States. There has even been talk that the 2012 election may or may not be allowed to take place. That certainly seems far fetched in the American republic, but then most Germans never imagined the horrific results of the leadership of Adolf Hitler. Whether or not it will happen in America, never imagine for even a second that it cannot happen. Complacency is the enemy of faith and freedom.

As we continue through Holy Week, pray for the government and pray that the nation may return to Christ's true faith. On Good Friday, let our nation die to the world, renounce the temptation of Satan, and embrace the Cross of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. On Easter Sunday, let our nation be reborn in Christ and reject all despots and socialist dictators who seek to destroy personal freedom and destroy the Church. On Low Sunday, as we commemorate the Divine Mercy of Our Lord, let us pray that Christ will indeed show his Divine Mercy upon the United States and that the Blood and water flowing from His precious side will wash our country clean of the stain of this present administration and the intrinsic evil that it represents.