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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

25 December 2012

Patriarchal Address on the Feast of the Nativity 2012

Sub Tuum. 

To the Bishops, Regular Clergy, and Faithful of the Anglican Rite Roman Catholic Church, greetings and Apostolic Blessings on this joyous Feast of the Nativity of our Lord in the two hundred and twelfth year of the Incarnation. This Christmas finds our Patriarchate growing in numbers and faith amidst the ever-present strife of the fallen world. We are pleased by the blessing of both new vocations and those who are discerning clerical and religious vocations. These new vocations will be the voice of evangelism in the coming years. Effective evangelism remains of utmost importance at this crucial time in the world's history. We must not be discourged from this mission, even if the godly admonitions of the Church from time to time fall on deaf ears.

As we celebrate the Incarnation of Christ more than two thousand years ago, we reflect of the magnitude and the scope of His holy mission. It is a mission that all Christians are called upon to continue. It is a mission that was met by great opposition in the time of Christ. And, it is a mission that continued to be met with great imposition after the Ascension of Christ, as the blood of the martyrs will certainly attest. Yet we must not shrink in the face of danger. We must be bold in our evangelism today just as Christ and the Blessed Saints.

The evangelism of today must indeed stand in the face of great opposition. It must stand against increasing secularism promoted by world government, commerce, and the media. Today the world continues to be plagued by the curse of abortion. The United States alone murders over a million unborn children each year. Secular society has bred a culture that does not respect the fundamental right of each human being to life. Yet, each and every other right enjoyed by human beings has as its necessary pre-condition the existence of life. The discussion of other rights cannot begin, therefore, until the right to life has been acknowledged.

The fundamental building block of all society is the family, and this, too, is being threatened. The family is built upon marriage, and a marriage is by definition between one man and one woman. Marriage is the acknowledgement of the natural differences between men and women and the beautiful complementary nature of those differences. It is an acceptance of how almighty God has made each of us individually. It is a humble submission to the way that we were made. The secularists, however, are pushing forward with their agenda of redefining what marriage is. Quite a few countries, including the United States, have legalized homosexual marriage in whole or in part. By making men and women essentially interchangeable in a marriage, we arrogantly laugh in the face of God and refuse to acknowledge how He made us. Rather than accepting our God-given nature, society today chooses to define its own nature. The work of our evangelists today is perhaps at the most daunting level it has ever been since the days of the Early Church.

Life in secular society dismisses the order of nature and turns a blind eye and a deaf ear to God. Secular society ignores its Creator and the rules of nature laid down by the Creator. Yet, the rocks, the trees, and the heavens all inevitaly follow the rules of God without question or exception. What would happen if the earth had a mind of its own and chose to stop obeying the laws of physics that keep it in an orbit around the sun that is conducive to life? Man is the only creation of God that has free will and the potential for comprehension. The secularization in society is a conscious choice to ignore God's natural laws and substitute our own. With gay marriage, we have a venerable and ancient institution thousands of years old that has been turned on its head. It is as if the earth no longer orbits the sun, but instead it is the other way around. The beauty of God's creation in man and woman is cast aside as society imposes its own definition that ignores nature.

Yes, the evangelists of today have a difficult task ahead of them. Their work is made all the more difficult by the vast number of liberals within our educational institutions that profess secularism and modernism. The media also widely pushes this anti-Christian and liberal agenda. The mission of the Christian people is only possible through the grace of God and the constant intercession of the Blessed Virgin, who sees her children in the world and lovinly prays for their conversion. So much did God want the world to turn to Him willingly and attain eternal salvation that He gave His only-begotten Son, whose birth we celebrate today. So much did the Blessed Virgin Mary love us all that she willingly submitted to God and stood at the foot of the Cross as Christ hung there dying for the sins of the world. It is those who profess secularism, liberalism, and modernism today who would have been shouting for our Lord to be crucified. They do not stand for the rights and freedom of all people. They have no sympathy for the suffering of our Lord. Rather, it is Christ on the Cross who stands for freedom, truth, and the rights of all mankind. It is the Blessed Virgin who stood by the Cross to the very end in sympathy with our Lord, her own Immaculate Heart pierced, herself crucified inside, who represents freedom and the rights of all. It is the Blessed Apostles and Saints, and the blood of the martyrs that stood firm as champions of the rights and freedom of all. The liberals present a false freedom that is attractive, but like a Venus flytrap, leads ultimately to one's own demise and the demise of society.

This Christmas season let us resolve to love our fellow man and stand up for the truth of Christ. Let us all pray for the current clergy and an increase in vocations, for there is yet much work to be done. Let us pray for the conversion of those who have turned from Christ. Let us indeed pray that the world will abandon secularism and embrace the love and beauty of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, in whom alone lies true freedom.

And now may the blessing of Almighty God, the Father +, the Son +, and the Holy + Ghost be upon you and remain with you always. R. Amen.

+ Rutherford Cardinal Johnson

20 December 2012

Perhaps our Youth Would Be Better Off Not Going to College

Sub Tuum.

There has long been a push for America's youth to go to college. It is now seen as a largely essential "ticket punch" to just about any career. Yet the harm done to the students at universities and by extension to society as a whole is such that either the university system needs to be changed drastically or people would be better off not going in the first place. It might surprise some to hear me say this. After all, I went to college and was even a college professor. Yet, I am a Christian first. If more people at universities would be Christians first and academics second, perhaps we wouldn't be in this dilemma. 

Let's consider some statistics about American university faculties. According to the Washington Post, 72% of professors in America self-identify as being liberal. At elite schools, that climbs to 87%. On church attendance, over half do not attend regularly or at all. 84% are in favor of abortion rights. Two-thirds consider homosexuality to be acceptable. 65% think the government should ensure full employment, despite the economic problems with doing so. Yes indeed, college professors are a liberal lot. 

I'm reminded of the many conversations I had with fellow professors who were in favor of socialism, of abortion, of homosexual marriage, and of just about every other thing in the world except, of course, the rights of conservatives to their points of view or of traditional Catholics to the practice and promotion of our faith. Sometimes it truly felt like I was talking to a brick wall, but then perhaps they felt the same way. 

As an undergraduate student at Georgia Tech, I saw the so-called "free speech zone" not be so free, but in reality be skewed highly towards liberal thought. The most offensive things to good and decent people could be written on the sidewalk in front of the student center or even displayed on the walls in the student center, and complaints were met with rhetoric that claimed it was all in the name of free speech and open-mindedness. Yet, anything that offended the liberals was immediately removed. It wasn't so free, after all. 

It isn't difficult to imagine that eventually school pressure and peer pressure work on the students to change their behavior towards the liberal, and even often their innermost beliefs. It takes a tremendous amount of moral courage to stand up in the face of such an onslaught of immorality. Many good young people have been corrupted at the hands of their professors and of the schools. But, while college football reigns supreme, perhaps nothing will be done about the situation within the school walls. The people cheer the game while the students descend into moral sloth more and more every day. 

We send our young people to college because we want them to have a better life. That is a worthy thing. The trouble is that we equate a better life only with financial well-being and career success. Those are fine things, but cannot be our focus. What does it profit our young if they go to college and get a good job, but they lose their souls in the process? It is any wonder that so many college graduates support abortion, homosexual marriage, pre-marital co-habitation, and more? Is it any wonder that we have lately been suffering such a moral crisis in America? This was one of the root causes of the financial crisis, so don't think for a minute that morality has nothing to do with career and financial success! 

So what are we to do? First, let's make high school mean something again. Let's make it so that people can get good jobs and even have a good career doing something fulfilling and meaningful with a high school diploma. Not everyone was made for books. Now, for those we send to college, consider not only the educational in their field of study, but also the environment that they will be in morally. Will they be spiritually uplifted at the school? Will they be morally edified? If not, leave and don't go back. There are schools like this in America. Exercise judgment and find them. Leave the professors who profess liberalism with no one left to teach.

+ Rutherford Cardinal Johnson

18 December 2012

True Love and False Tolerance

Sub Tuum. 

When we were young, if we think hard enough, we can remember there were two types of parents. There were those who were strict to one degree or another, and there were those who were permissive. The strict parents set boundaries. They said "no" a lot, and they told us what we could and could not do. I do not mean the totalitarian or abusive parents, of course, but those who believed in appropriate guidance and discipline. The permissive parents, on the other hand, didn't seem to be bothered by whatever their children wanted to do. They had various reasons for this and often thought themselves quite modern and sophisticated in their approach. Children of these permissive parents often thought themselves quite grown up, while the children of strict parents often felt stifled, over-controlled, and micromanaged. It was not uncommon for the children of strict parents to tell their parents, upon hearing the answer of "no" to a request, that little Johnny or little Sally's parents let them do that or even let them do whatever they want. That made the job of parenting surely all the more difficult for the strict parents. After all, the more the children saw of permissive parents, the more they longed to be delivered from the perceived bonds of their strict parents. 

Yes, the permissive parents were more tolerant of their children's behavior, but that was a false tolerance. False tolerance is a general acceptance of all behavior, whether right or wrong, whether beneficial or harmful, and whether edifying or destructive. It is an abdication of parental responsibility to teach right and wrong, and it is little wonder that those children so often grow up to have a blurred delineation between right and wrong. It is a carefully applied strictness and an intolerance of what is wrong that is the mark of a loving parent. False tolerance, the hallmark of the permissive parent, is a form of selfishness. It is placing the desire to be liked by one's child over the desire to raise one's child into a good and decent adult. It is the loving strict parent who was always there to clean our wounds, make us feel better, and most importantly to help us grow whenever we made the inevitable mistakes that all children make. The permissive parents offered no such comforts. In time, children came to see the merits of the strict parents and to understand that they really were looking out for what was best for the children whom God had placed in their care. 

When children are put into the world and left to discover what to do on their own, they have an internal moral compass called the conscience, but they must be shown how to use it. One likely guide becomes pleasure. A child naturally will want to do what gives the most pleasure, and without a developed sense of morality, this turns into the concept of "if it feels good, do it" that is so pervasive in our society today. The trouble with pleasure is that it is never enough. 

But we do not exist in a vacuum, and neither do children. Think of when we were children. How did we know what we wanted? We saw what the other children had. This is, after all, the basis of commercial advertising. Also, our teachers taught us. They taught us that 5x5 is 25, and 2+2 is 4. Humans are susceptible to their environment, especially impressionable young people. What young people are taught, told, and exposed to is so very important. It is also important that, as they grow older, they learn how to process information and discern right from wrong themselves. Parents who love their children should encourage this. Teachers who love their students should as well. Children will grow into adults. That is a fact of nature that hardly needs mentioning. Adults will encounter many, many things in this world, and they must learn to determine right from wrong and to stand firm against what is wrong. The peer pressure we all experienced in school does not go away in adulthood. It may take different forms, but it does not go away. 

True tolerance must be of what is good and accompanied by an intolerance for what is not good. This true tolerance comes from love; love of one's children, one's family, and one's fellow man. False tolerance, on the other hand, includes tolerance of what is wrong. Ironically, false tolerance is often also intolerance towards what is good and seeks to create confusion in the minds of people over what is good and what is evil. Unfortunately our society has given in to this false tolerance. We have been forced to accept as right many forms of degenerate and perverse behavior. No longer do teachers have the control in the classroom that they once had. The line between right and wrong has been obliterated in society and replaced with a general philosophy of doing "what is right for you." That means we each determine what is right and wrong. Now how does this work? Where does it end? Truly it does not make sense. If your job starts at 8 o'clock in the morning, but 8 o'clock to your boss is only 7:30 to you, then under this new relativism, who is correct? Is arriving half and hour late according to the boss's perspective actually "ok for you" because your sense of reality is different? I doubt too many bosses would truly accept that argument. 

In society today we also see a breakdown in the family. Couples are choosing to co-habitate before marriage to "try it out," which is really a fallacy if you think about it. Some couples are simply bypassing formal marriage altogether and just living together, even having children out of wedlock. The irony of this is that they are married under common law, though I doubt too many local governments would enforce that anymore. Yet we are now discouraged from saying anything to those who wish to engage in such behavior. We hear "Just because Jenny is unmarried and having a third child by as many fathers doesn't mean she isn't a nice girl." Well, one has nothing to do with the other! She might be nice, but that doesn't mean her personal behavior is appropriate. If we stand silently by for fear of being attacked or condemned for saying anything, then we become complicit in the problem!

And now we have the push for homosexual marriage, which seeks to redefine the fundamental nature of marriage. Proponents of homosexual marriage say that it is about equal rights and it does not negatively impact other people. Yet, it does impact other people. It cheapens what marriage means. Marriage itself is an affirmation and a celebration of the fundamental natural differences between men and women and of their complementary nature. To condone homosexual marriage as actual marriage makes men and women interchangeable and hence requires a redefinition of the intrinsic nature of marriage that has existed for thousands of years. This redefinition breaks down the acknowledgement and celebration of the fundamental and complementary differences between men and women and makes people interchangeable. This is not marriage, but false tolerance has gotten us to this point as a society. Say anything about it, and you'll risk being called hateful or homophobic. Yet, it should be out of love for our fellow man that we do speak out in favor of what marriage is and what it has always truly been. 

False tolerance has never led anywhere positive. Those who practice true tolerance for what is good and intolerance towards what is not good are, I'm afraid, a disappearing breed these days. It is difficult for the good and decent people of the world to stand up and proclaim the truth! They are viewed as the strict parent, while those who practice false tolerance are viewed as the fun-loving permissive parent. Yet, like the strict parent, it is those who are appropriately intolerance to wrong who love their fellow man and who are there to help others in a meaningful way. Like the permissive parents, those who practice false tolerance are never anywhere to be found when you fall down. 

Saint Paul reminded us to admonish one another in brotherly love. It is in this sense that we must tolerate what is good and be always intolerant towards what is not good. It is in this sense that we must love the sinner and hate the sin. It is in this sense that we must always have compassion and sympathy towards our brothers and sisters who sin, for we ourselves are sinners. This is the path that builds a good and decent society. This is true love for others.

+ Rutherford Cardinal Johnson

14 December 2012

Statement on School Shooting

Sub Tuum. 

To say that the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, today came as a shock to most people would be perhaps quite an understatement. The national outpouring of grief has indeed been great. We offer our prayers for the souls of the dead and our prayers and compassion for their families and for those who survived. 

This tragic event is not the result of a lack of laws. We have many laws in this country. The shooter did not respect or follow the law, for what he did was most certainly against the law. Why would anyone think that he would respect new laws? More laws that burden the good and decent citizens of our country are not the answer. Instead let us work through our tears and consider the real underlying problem. 

Today's tragedy was a part of a greater tragedy, and that is a nation that has largely turned from God and fails to respect life. How can we be outraged at the 27 deaths in today's shooting while we turn a collective blind eye to the murder of over one million unborn children? It is no surprise that a culture that glorifies violence and every type of perversion would spawn someone who would kill his fellow students and even his own mother. This is the root of the problem, and it has been a long time in the making in America as society seems determined to push the love of Christ to the back of the storage closet to gather dust. Indeed we need not scratch our heads in wonderment at why such a horrible thing has happened. 

I do not believe, however, that every person in America has turned from God or glorifies gratuitous violence and perversion. Perhaps these are the "silent majority" we hear whispers about. It is long past time for the good and decent people of America to stand up and be heard in spite of those who wish to ridicule and even silence them. It is long past time to stop this insidious indulgence of deviant behavior and instead restore the sense of right and wrong that made American society great. 

The school shooting in Connecticut is the product of the secular society that we have created. The earliest occurrence of a school shooting according to US News is in the 1960s, and they have continued regularly ever since. That decade marks the general start of liberalization and secularization in America. Tolerance for deviance, degradation, and sloth has been on the rise ever since, as has the belief in moral relativism. 

In the wake of this terrible school shooting, what America needs is an awaking of the spirit, not an Alka-Seltzer tablet to make us feel better because we witnessed or heard about something we do not want to see. That would be like taking an aspirin to dull the pain while ignoring the cancer that grows within. Condemn the shootings for the cowardly murders that they were. Console the families of the dead and the survivors. But, let us also turn the magnifying glass on ourselves as a society and realize that the only true path to ending school shootings is a return to the love of Christ above all other things. Remember the New Commandment given by our Lord that we love our neighbors as ourselves. That is the path to life.

+ Rutherford Cardinal Johnson

06 December 2012

What does it mean to be Christian?

Sub Tuum.

What does it mean to be Christian?

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

What does it mean to be truly Christian? Is it about music, buildings, or even service to others? Our Lord gave the answer. We must take up our own cross and follow Him. Without that, our worship is empty. Without that, the most splendid choir is mere entertainment, and the greatest service means absolutely nothing. Taking up our own cross and following the Lord, however, does not mean merely sitting in the pews on Sunday. Singing in the choir is insufficient, too. Giving money to the work of the Church is not enough, even in our commercialized society. Our worship on Sundays and Holy Days must be active. Christ must be the center of all that we do each and every day of the week. 

The late Abbot Leonard Giardina, OSB, had the most simple and eloquent way of putting this that I have ever heard. To experience what he said yourself, take a crucifix and look at Christ hanging on the front. Then turn the crucifix around and see the empty back. You must be willing to hang right there on the cross with our Lord. That is what it means to be a Christian. What a beautiful thing that is! 

You can experience this closeness to Christ first and foremost through the mass, for it is there that we witness and join with the true and living Sacrifice of our Lord upon the Cross. This is the most magnificent thing the Church has to offer. The entire ministry of the Church begins at the altar. Nothing in the world can take the place of the mass. No other sacrament means anything without it. Baptism does not, for without Christ on the Cross, there would be no Church to join. Matrimony does not, for there is no Christian sacrament of marriage without our Lord's Passion. Ordination does not, for without the Cross, there would be no Sacrifice to live, no Church and no Christian ministry. Holy Unction and Penance would not, for without the Cross, there would be no Resurrection and no hope for the remission of sins and victory over the grave. 

By taking up our own cross, by being willing to hang right there alongside Christ, we begin to live in Christ and for Christ. From there and only from there we may live the Great Commandment of our Lord, that we love one another. What greater love can anyone have than God the Father, who sent our Lord and Savior to the world as a man? What greater love can anyone have than our Lord, who suffered and died for the remission of our sins? This is true love and the kind of pure love that can only be expressed by one who is willing to hang on the Cross with our Lord. Mere human emotion is insufficient and will always leave a void. 

To achieve purpose, all things in your life must originate from the Cross of Christ, and you must be there alongside our Lord. To achieve true joy, you must be willing to suffer alongside Christ. This is the plain and simple essence of the Christian Faith. May your life be enriched greatly through it that you may attain to the eternal reward. 

Yours in Christ,

+Rutherford Card. Johnson

26 November 2012

Advent 2012

Sub Tuum.

Once again this coming Sunday we begin our season of penance and preparation, culminating in the celebration of the Incarnation of Christ. As it was foretold by the prophets, the Word truly became flesh and dwelt among us. Approximately a third of the way through this coming season of preparation, we celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is most fitting that this celebration takes place within the season of Advent. Our Lady, having been chosen as the vessel of the Incarnate Word, had to be exceptionally pure and without the stains born by fallen man. Thus she was given the special favor of exemption from the stain of original sin. 

The Blessed Virgin was the chosen vessel, and thus she was so blessed by God by immaculate conception so that she would be worthy to bear the Son of God. She had a choice, though, and we may all be thankful that she chose to accept the overshadowing power of the Holy Spirit. As God gave Mary the special graces she needed, so too does God give us all the graces we need to fulfill our individual purposes in life. And, like Mary, we have a choice whether or not we will answer God's call and embrace the Faith or instead ignore the call and descend into secularism. 

This Advent Season begins the new liturgical year, which we have dedicated to Faith and Tradition. During this year, we especially encourage each person to work towards a renewal of their own faith through the experience of the rich traditions of the Church. Not only should this be a personal matter of renewal, but also a mission of assistance of others in the renewal of their faith. We are not mere individuals, but are all part of the community of all mankind in Christ. 

The faith of the Church begins with Advent and the coming of Christ. That is the beginning. The climax is the Passion, Cross, Resurrection, and Ascension. The end is yet to come. It is the final victory of the Church Triumphant over the forces of evil. The traditions of the Church likewise begin with Advent, for they necessarily must begin with and follow the faith precisely. Our traditions are not mere empty ceremony or entertainment, but true and active worship with the sole purpose of the praise and glory of God. The rich traditions of the Church are rich only through the faith, for they are the outward expression of that very faith. The traditions of the Church guide us through the annual re-discovery of the mysteries and the glories of the Christian Faith. This liturgical year, then, let us all walk together through the beauty of our traditions and, in so doing, through the glories of our faith that we may grow in love and service.

+ Rutherford Cardinal Johnson

Advent 2012

Sub Tuum.

Once again this coming Sunday we begin our season of penance and preparation, culminating in the celebration of the Incarnation of Christ. As it was foretold by the prophets, the Word truly became flesh and dwelt among us. Approximately a third of the way through this coming season of preparation, we celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is most fitting that this celebration takes place within the season of Advent. Our Lady, having been chosen as the vessel of the Incarnate Word, had to be exceptionally pure and without the stains born by fallen man. Thus she was given the special favor of exemption from the stain of original sin. 

The Blessed Virgin was the chosen vessel, and thus she was so blessed by God by immaculate conception so that she would be worthy to bear the Son of God. She had a choice, though, and we may all be thankful that she chose to accept the overshadowing power of the Holy Spirit. As God gave Mary the special graces she needed, so too does God give us all the graces we need to fulfill our individual purposes in life. And, like Mary, we have a choice whether or not we will answer God's call and embrace the Faith or instead ignore the call and descend into secularism. 

This Advent Season begins the new liturgical year, which we have dedicated to Faith and Tradition. During this year, we especially encourage each person to work towards a renewal of their own faith through the experience of the rich traditions of the Church. Not only should this be a personal matter of renewal, but also a mission of assistance of others in the renewal of their faith. We are not mere individuals, but are all part of the community of all mankind in Christ. 

The faith of the Church begins with Advent and the coming of Christ. That is the beginning. The climax is the Passion, Cross, Resurrection, and Ascension. The end is yet to come. It is the final victory of the Church Triumphant over the forces of evil. The traditions of the Church likewise begin with Advent, for they necessarily must begin with and follow the faith precisely. Our traditions are not mere empty ceremony or entertainment, but true and active worship with the sole purpose of the praise and glory of God. The rich traditions of the Church are rich only through the faith, for they are the outward expression of that very faith. The traditions of the Church guide us through the annual re-discovery of the mysteries and the glories of the Christian Faith. This liturgical year, then, let us all walk together through the beauty of our traditions and, in so doing, through the glories of our faith that we may grow in love and service.



11 November 2012

Veteran's Day 2012

Sub Tuum.

This Sunday, though officially observed Monday this year, is one of my favorite days of the year. It is a day to honor those who have served in the armed forces. It is Veteran's Day. Be sure to thank a veteran, even if you are one. I have yet to meet a veteran who couldn't name at least one other person who did more than he. And remember those who fell in the service of something greater than themselves, for that is really what military service is about. Wear a poppy flower and remember those who survived, but are now no longer with us.

+ Rutherford Cardinal Johnson

07 November 2012

Hope and Change

Sub Tuum.

Yesterday Americans exercised a right that few people in history to date have had. We elected our government leaders. It is a freedom not to be taken lightly, given the large numbers of people in the world today still living under oppressive and totalitarian regimes. With this freedom, though, comes tremendous responsibility. A vote is a powerful tool. It must be used for the common good, not one's own selfish interests. It requires thought and deliberation on an individual basis, for the victors in the election can have significant impact, good or bad, on the nation and the world. Now that the election is over, we must turn our attention towards an increase of love in America, for that has been sorely lacking for far too long. That ultimately has been the root cause of the unfortunate state of affairs in the country.

The results of the election yesterday underscore the great polarization that persists in this country. On one side we have those of more socialist leaning. On the other we have conservatives and Constitutionalists. This, however, is an oversimplification. Individual people are far more complex in their wants, needs, beliefs, desires, feelings, and thoughts. Suffice it to say that we are a nation divided at present.

It gives me great concern that the people, albeit it by a rather narrow margin, re-elected a socialist and the most pro-abortion President in history to the White House. While perhaps this may have been excusable four years ago when many people knew far less about him, the results in these key areas of the past four years he has had in office ought to have left no room for doubt in the voters' minds yesterday.

Yet, as we are all living in this nation together, we must seek to come together in a positive, realistic, and effective way. This is even more essential, given the intense polarization seen in this election. First, though, let us consider two important points.

Socialism is incompatible with Christianity. In short, it is an establishment of the State as the supreme authority above God and His Church. The State then seeks to have the people look to it for the things for which they ought to look to God. Yet, God is above all States in the world. Despite the secularist rhetoric to the contrary, the Founding Fathers knew quite well that we are a nation under God. The godless societies that socialism has spawned around  the world should be more than ample to give people pause before voting for socialism and socialist politicians. Have people perhaps voted for their own selfish interests instead?

The issue of right to life was and is the most significant and troubling of this President. Abortion is not a right, and it is not a matter of health care. It is murder of an unborn child. Of this there is no room for argument or disagreement. It is not a matter of being "black and white," but an issue of simple right and wrong. We as a nation murder over one million unborn children per year, yet we allow ourselves to be blind to it. Ask yourselves if we would we be equally blind to Nazi death camps.

Those who thought the economy was the most important issue in yesterday's election missed the most important point of all. You must be alive to participate in the economy. Life is a precondition for all economic activity. Economic justice only matters to those who have had the chance to be born. What does it matter if we have the most flourishing economy in the world if we decide through the application of abortion who will and who will not be able to enjoy it?

Our Lord said that what we do to the least of our brethren, we do to Him. That gets us back to the issue of love. The troubles facing America will never, ever be solved until we fix the underlying problem. You see, it is a problem of our soul that is at the root of everything in America. We have turned from God's love and embraced hate. There have been many smoke-screens disguised in the form of pressing issues, but they only serve to distract us from the real issue underlying everything else. If we as a nation would simply convert our hearts and love one another as our Lord commanded, real and positive change could take place. It sounds like a dream, but it really is just that simple. It takes a conscious decision, though, by each and every individual. To be clear, no, we should not compromise our sacred principles simply to "get along" or be avoid being called "obstructionist." Yet, if we truly learn to love each other, a natural result of that will be to find positive ways to build a society that respects its Creator, values life, and honors its people. That is real change that we need not only in America, but in the world. I challenge everyone in America from Mr. Obama to the Congress to the citizens to undertake this task. Will you each take the first step?

+ Rutherford Cardinal Johnson

12 October 2012

Crossing the Tiber

Sub Tuum.

The River Tiber with the Basilica of Saint Peter
in the Background (source: Wikipedia)
In Rome, there are a number of ancient bridges that cross the River Tiber, not to mention numerous modern bridges. If one would cross the Tiber, there are many ways to accomplish this, no matter where one might begin. Let one cross by the Ponte Milvio or the Ponte Sant'Angelo, and the result is the same. One is on the other side of the river.
"Crossing the Tiber" is, of course, also a common metaphor for conversion to Catholicism. As there are a number of bridges over the Tiber, so there are several spiritual bridges to conversion that all lead to the same destination. Some of these spiritual bridges are more widely known and used. Others less so. 
As one in Rome is either on one side of the Tiber or the other, so too one is either Catholic or not. One cannot accept some doctrine of Catholicism while rejecting the rest. There is no middle ground on this point, for moving to the middle indeed leaves one floating in the river. There is no room for half measures.
As crossing over a bridge is a conscious act and a decision to move to the other side of the river, so too the conversion process is a conscious choice. One cannot say "I am on the western bank" while on the eastern bank. It is a logical inconsistency. If one would be on the western bank, one must cross from the eastern, and vice versa. Likewise, it is insufficient to claim one is Catholic without being truly so through a conversion of heart.
This process of conversion, of crossing the bridge, requires the acceptance of all the facets of Catholicism, even when not fully understood. Can one cross a bridge and refuse to accept the presence of a pine tree on the other side? One might not understand why the pine tree is there, but its presence still cannot legitimately be denied. Just as crossing a river provides one with a new environment to explore, conversion is truly a journey of discovery, both about the faith and about ourselves. Exploration in general takes time and dedication, not to mention the courage to venture into the unknown. Yet, its rewards can be great. The rewards of undertaking the exploration of one's own spirituality through Christ's Holy Catholic Faith are immense beyond compare.

+ Rutherford Cardinal Johnson

12 September 2012

Hate and Peace

Sub Tuum.

Consider the words of the Venerable Fulton Sheen in his book, World's First Love.

_____________________________________

Mary is for the Moslems the true Sayyida, or Lady. The only possible serious rival to her in their creed would be Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed himself. But after the death of Fatima, Mohammed wrote: "Thou shalt be the most blessed of all the women in Paradise, after Mary." In a variant of the text, Fatima is made to say: "I surpass all the women, except Mary."

Moslemism is the only great post-Christian religion of the world. Because it had its origin in the seventh century under Mohammed, it was possible to unite within it some elements of Christianity and of Judaism, along with particular customs of Arabia. Moslemism takes the doctrine of the unity of God, His Majesty and His Creative Power, and uses it, in part, as a basis for the repudiation of Christ, the Son of God. Misunderstanding the notion of the Trinity, Mohammed made Christ a prophet, announcing him, just as, to Christians, Isaias and John the Baptist are prophets announcing Christ.

The Christian European West barely escaped destruction at the hands of the Moslems. At one point they were stopped near Tours and at another point, later on in time, outside the gates of Vienna. The Church throughout northern Africa was practically destroyed by Moslem power, and at the present hour, the Moslems are beginning to rise again.

If Moslemism is a heresy, as Hilaire Belloc believes it to be, it is the only heresy that has never declined. Others have had a moment of vigor, then gone into doctrinal decay at the death of the leader, and finally evaporated in a vague social movement. Moslemism, on the contrary, has only had its first phase. There was never a time in which it declined, either in numbers, or in the devotion of its followers.

The missionary effort of the Church toward this group has been, at least on the surface, a failure, for the Moslems are so far almost unconvertible. The reason is that for a follower of Mohammed to become a Christian is much like a Christian becoming a Jew. The Moslems believe that they have the final and definitive revelation of God to the world and that Christ was only a prophet announcing Mohammed, the last of God's real prophets.

At the present time, the hatred of the Moslem countries against the West is becoming a hatred against Christianity itself. Although the statesmen have not yet taken it into account, there is still grave danger that the temporal power of Islam may return and, with it, the menace that it may shake off a West which has ceased to be Christian, and affirm itself as a great anti-Christian world power. Moslem writers say, "When the locust swarms darken vast countries, they bear on their wings these Arabic words: 'We are God's host, each of us has ninety-nine eggs, and if we had a hundred, we should lay waste the world with all that is in it.'"

The problem is, how shall we prevent the hatching of the hundredth egg? It is our firm belief that, the fears some entertain concerning the Moslems are not to be realized, but that Moslemism, instead, will eventually be converted to Christianity — and in a way that even some of our missionaries never suspect. It is our belief that this will happen not through the direct teaching of Christianity, but through a summoning of the Moslems to a veneration of the Mother of God. This is the line of argument:

The Koran, which is the Bible of the Moslems, has many passages concerning the Blessed Virgin. First of all, the Koran believes in her Immaculate Conception and, also, in her Virgin Birth. The third chapter of the Koran places the history of Mary's family in a genealogy which goes back through Abraham, Noah, and Adam. When one compares the Koran's description of the birth of Mary with the apocryphal Gospel of the birth of Mary, one is tempted to believe that Mohammed very much depended upon the latter. Both books describe the old age and the definite sterility of the mother of Mary. When, however, she conceives, the mother of Mary is made to say in the Koran: "O Lord, I vow and I consecrate to you what is already within me. Accept it from me."

When Mary is born, the mother says: "And I consecrate her with all of her posterity under thy protection, O Lord against Satan!"

+ Rutherford Cardinal Johnson

15 August 2012

The Church's Vices

Sub tuum. 

I  have never understood it when someone says they are leaving the Church because the Church on earth is not perfect and has vices. For what green pasture are they leaving? Whatever the problems of the Church, those of the rest of the world are worse. Certainly the Church's past involves cruelty, but the world was and continues to be far more cruel. If the Church has suffered from corruption, then that of the world is far worse. Consider the numerous financial scandals and ponzi schemes that seem to have reached epidemic proportion of late. Consider the political corruption that exists in every country around the world. The Roman Communion's sexual abuse scandal was horrible, but it was not isolated to the Church. Consider the Penn State scandal as but one example. The Church has suffered scandals, but the scandals of the world are much worse. The Inquisition is held up by many as an example of the Church's cruelty and corruption, yet it was far milder than the secular courts of the day. Though accurate statistics are difficult to obtain, it is easy to say with relative certainty that fewer people died from the Inquisition than from the modern Chinese government. America, for example, has executed more than 1300 people just since 1976.

Christ established the Church knowing that its institution on earth would be run by imperfect humans and hence would suffer from problems and vices. For all its problems as an institution, she remains the Bride of Christ. It is the imperfections of we frail humans that gives vices to the institution of the Church. It is very encouraging to think that the important work of the Church was entrusted to imperfect and frail human beings. Indeed God has already used humans to do His will, despite our many failings and vices, and He loves us all despite our imperfections just as He loves the Church. Few things give me as much hope for eternal salvation as the fact that the institution of the Church on earth, despite her vices stemming from imperfections of humanity, is still loved by God. Whatever the vices one may encounter in the Church or one may learn about from the Church's history, it is still a better place than the world at large.

+ Rutherford Cardinal Johnson

Atheism among America's Youth

Sub tuum.

Commentary on a recent news article regarding the trend of atheism among America's youth stated that "This is going to continue as long as such emphasis is placed on random cherry pickings of Leviticus. It doesn't make any sense to a large chunk of the youth and severely damages the credibility of the rest of the text." It is unfortunate that an alarming number of the youth of today choose to be anti-religious simply because they do not understand certain parts of the Christian faith. That having been said, the "cherry picking of Leviticus" mentioned in the comment on the article above also underscores a problem of Protestantism, and that is the general trend of cherry picking of the Bible.

Also stated in the commentary on the article was the notion that "...giving the youth some breathing room on the things they find important (equality, womens' health issues, etc.)..." is a good idea. This points out the unfortunate trend in many denominations and faith communities to attempt to modify the religion to fit the desires of today's youth. It is no wonder that such modification causes confusion in the minds of young people. How can they be expected to make something a guiding force for their life when it appears to change so easily before their eyes?

Indeed it seems that the sin Pope Leo XIII terms "Americanism" is alive and well. Religion, even Christianity, today is widely privatized, i.e., each individual's personal beliefs are held to be inherent to that individual and hence intrinsically equal to the private beliefs of each and every other person. Individuals now begin with a generic notion that there is a God and Jesus Christ exists, and then mold their own version of the faith to suit their own personal views and desires. Such a view is incompatible with the universal truth of the Christian Faith. Such a view mocks the teaching authority of the universal Church, for if each individual Christian is permitted to invent his own version of the Faith, how then can they acknowledge the authority of the Church?

It certainly seems inconceivable to the devout Christian that anyone could claim individual authority based on the Bible to invent one's own version of the Faith, for the Bible itself prohibits this. Yet, this is what many people do today. It is a dangerous school of thought and a slippery, slippery slope. The faith once handed down by Jesus to the Apostles and carried on to this day through unbroken succession through the Bishops is the only hope of salvation for our youth.

+ Rutherford Cardinal Johnson


14 August 2012

Responsibility of Government

Sub tuum.

It's amazing how many politicians, especially liberals, demand that the rich pay their fair share and that people should live more simple lives to benefit the poor, but they themselves live luxurious lifestyles and often get rich off of public service. The rich do have an obligation to the poor, but those in the government preaching this line do not seem to be practicing it. The government can legitimately be used as an agent of care for the poor, the sick, and the destitute, but it has long proven itself incapable of effective management of charity. How can politicians ask the people to pay more when they themselves do not take significant cuts in pay and benefits? Simply raising taxes to pay for more social programs and asking the people to tighten their belts while the government does not cut back its own extraneous spending is irresponsible, no matter which party is in power. Likewise, social programs that are mere handouts that increase dependence of the people on the government rather than "teaching them to fish" is irresponsible. Government has come to serve its own purposes rather than the needs of the people. This is what is meant by "big government." Government, though, must place at the forefront of its efforts giving real and effectual help to its citizens. This includes both helping the poor and helping commerce so that as many people as possible are self-sufficient. An effective and legitimate government must hold the needs of those in its temporal care as its primary responsibility and indeed as its sacred duty.

Olympics and Sports as a Religion

Sub tuum. 

IT is an unfortuante fact of the modern Olympics that, according to their founder the Baron de Coubertin, they constitute a religion. (Read more in this BBC article.) I must confess to not being fully aware of this until very recently, but one must take the founder of the games at his word as to his intention. Furthermore, the various ceremonies at the games lend credence to the idea that they are indeed a religion. How, then, can any Christian participate in the games in good faith if the games themselves are part of a non-Christian religious activity? It is a question worth pondering.

In a more broad sense, it seems that God and the Christian Faith have been replaced by the religion of sports. I am entirely in favor of sports as a means of personal growth and development. Sports programs in schools, for example, are very valuable. And, there is nothing inherently wrong with being a professional athlete, either. It is the level of obsession to which fans (short for "fanatics") have taken their interest in the sport that is troubling. We have all heard no doubt about the football fan sitting in church listening to the game on a radio with an earpiece. There is plenty of truth to such stories. Football indeed has come to dominate Sundays during the season.

Actually, it is worse than that. Liturgical seasons have been replaced with sport seasons. The sports fans can easily tell you what games are in season, but would be hard pressed to tell if it was Advent, Trinitytide, Lent, etc. Fridays are for high school football rather than Friday devotions. Saturdays are for college football rather than remembrance of Our Lady. For the fans, Sundays are not centered around the principal Holy Mass of the week and one's own spiritual development, but rather around professional football.

Household decorations for the fan are more likely than not based on sports. One would be hard pressed to find a relic or a prayer corner in the truly devout fan's house, for there simply would be no room. Even if there is some religious symbology in the house, it is dwarfed by the sports icons. A ball or a jersey signed by a legendary athlete becomes the fan's own form of holy relic. Icons of the Saints are replaced with photos of sports favorites. There is nothing wrong, of course, with having sports memorabilia. It is simply a matter of what takes priority.

Pews sit empty in the great churches of the land while fans fight over thousand dollar seats at the sports stadiums. Sometimes they will even camp out to get tickets, even though they would likely find it quite an inconvenience to attend a vigil. Countless hours are spent effortlessly by the true fan, yet they are likely to have a convenient excuse when asked to watch one hour with our Lord at a Holy Hour.

Sport has long since joined money as the new religion of modern America. If the Olympics are to be considered the pinnacle of amateur sports achievement, then it seems only right that their founder openly considered them to constitute a religion.

08 August 2012

Changes in America

Sub tuum.

America today is not the country I grew up in. It is not even the same country it was four or five years ago. The changes in government policy and societal attitudes have been both rapid and dramatic. What is intrinsically evil is now embraced by the very same nation that defeated the intrinsic evil of the Nazis a little more than half a century ago. It is legal for a woman to murder her unborn child, but there is talk of banning french fries for children because it is bad for health. Every form of lifestyle and belief is now expected to be tolerated except, of course, the traditional Christian way of life.

In many ways what is most troubling is that many of these liberal and modernist agendas being forced on everyone else is that often they are promoted under the guise of religion. The liberals and modernists have taken bits and pieces of Christianity, often taken completely out of context or simply re-interpretted, and used it to further their agenda. They then make the fantastic claim that those who do not support their viewpoints are not Christian. When confronted with the fact that their arguments do not stand up to theology, they respond with accusations of intolerance, though they are not themselves tolerant to traditional Christianity. Their real agenda is clear, and that is to enact fundamental changes in society. To do this, they must convince Christians that the only way to be a "real" Christian is to do what the liberals and modernists say.

How is this possible? How can this happen that people do not know their own faith enough that others can sway them so easily? First, there is secular pressure. Society has for decades been pushing radical secularization, using as one of their chief weapons a reinterpretation of the First Amendment of the Constitution. Related to this is the notion of privatization of religion, i.e., the belief that one's religious beliefs are merely one's own and all beliefs are inherently equal in merit. This stems largely from the moral relativism so prevalent in a secularized society. As a result, individuals have been re-defining Christianity to suit themselves. They take Jesus Christ and then build up their own set of beliefs around Him, ignoring the truth Christian religion established by Christ and those appointed by Him as they find it inconvenient. In reality, what they have done is broken completely from Christianity and created completely new religions that fit their own personal beliefs. In today's society, each so-called Christian can have his own personal religion. And, since that is considered one's right to do, all beliefs must necessarily be considered to be "equal" or "correct," even in the face of disagreement. After all, if someone believes a certain way and someone else believes a completely different way, they must accept each other's viewpoints if they themselves want to justify their position that they can make up their own version of Christianity and have it be just as valid as the true and original Christianity. This makes it very easy for an individual to be swayed by modernist reformers bent on using pseudo-Christianity to turn Christians away from Christ and towards the new agenda.

Under the guise of freedom, we are slowly having our freedoms taken away. Already this year many Christian organizations and individuals have been told that they must fund medical procedures that they find morally reprehensible. While in a free society such as America one may be free to do as one pleases within the bounds of the law, it is inconceivable that those who disagree should be forced to pay for it. And, while society is being forced to accept every type of perversion and immorality, those who hold the true Christian faith handed down from Christ through the Apostles in unbroken succession are being marginalized. The wear of the burka is the right of Muslim women in America, but the wear of the clerical collar by a priest in the same circumstances is not? It is acceptable to voice support for gay marriage, but not to oppose it? The government intrudes into the business of the Church. Christians peacefully and legally exercising their right to free speech under the Constitution have even been arrested. In America one has the right to voice one's support or opposition for legislation. Yet, today this does not seem to extend to conservative Christians. There is ultimately one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, and one Church. It is our duty to uphold and defend the Faith. Until recently, it was also our clear and undoubted right in the United States. Now I am not so sure that America guarantees that right under secular law. Despite all the rhetoric that new reforms are about freedom and rights, the freedom and rights of traditional Christians is diminishing greatly.

15 July 2012

Commentary on the Episcopal Church General Convention

J.M.J.

The community known as the Episcopal Church is the chief entity of the Anglican Communion in the United States and arguably one of the most influential in the world. What it says and does, therefore, has an impact on the Christian world. Though dissenters to the influences of modernism and liberalism in the Episcopal Church in many cases have fled and are fleeing to various schismatic Anglican sects that have broken away from the Episcopal Church, that does not lessen the influence that the Episcopal Church has or the strength of its voice in communicating to the world at large what Christianity stands for. Therefore, its actions are still important to those not in the Episcopal Church. In our Patriarchate, as Old Roman Catholics with Anglican heritage and tradition, it is important to us what the Episcopal Church says and does. This is even more true, considering our Patriarchate has worked diligently to foster positive, productive, and cooperative relations with the Episcopal Church, support conservative Anglicans, and build unity wherever possible without compromise on matters of Catholic doctrine.

Let us address one such relevant matter. It is not surprising that the Episcopal Church's recent General Convention voted to permit use of a new ritual for the blessing of so-called "same-sex marriages." This is a predictable outcome given that our brothers and sisters in the Episcopal Church have long been in the grip of the social justice movement that promotes the notion that the doctrine, theology, and practice of the Church must be governed by and modified according to current social justice trends rather than social justice being guided and governed by doctrine and theology. This idea, no matter who espouses it, is itself a form of the heresy of modernism that the universal Christian Church has had to endure for many decades. It leads to doctrine and theology being changed to suit the desires of those in the Church rather than the members and hierarchy of the Church humbly submitting to the authority of the Church and the immutable doctrine thereof. Ultimately this is a form of the sin of pride. The doctrine of the Faith is a bulwark against the effects of the sins of mankind, for no human being is without sin. When the doctrine is allowed to be influenced according to sin, it become far less of a tool for salvation and can even have the most deleterious effects possible on the faithful.

To be clear, this issue actually has nothing to do with accepting homosexuals in the Church, no matter how much the social justice movement has tried to make this an issue. All of God's children are welcome in the Church. We do not, however, change the doctrine, theology, liturgy, or the seven sacraments to suit individuals or factions. We state unequivocally that the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony may be validly and lawfully administered only to a man and a woman who are canonically free to marry. Without those conditions, the administration of Holy Matrimony would have as much value and effect as the administration of Baptism to a house cat.

One argument that was made at the General Convention that bears specific mention was that this was no different than the Episcopal Church working through the doctrinal issues to allow divorced persons to re-marry. First, the issue of divorced persons re-marrying is significantly different from that of homosexual marriage, as the latter is always invalid, where the validity of the former depends on certain canonical conditions. Whether a divorced person (meaning a person with a civil divorce) can re-marry depends on whether or not any former spouses are still living and, if they are, a Church tribunal determining that the original marriage was invalid and hence not a sacrament. The process of a church tribunal determining a divorced person's original marriage was invalid is not rewriting doctrine, but upholding and applying doctrine for the benefit of the souls of the parties concerned. It is an entirely different thing to re-write or re-interpret doctrine in order to suit a new desired outcome. So, the General Convention voted overwhelmingly to allow this new so-called "marriage rite" for homosexual couples. In so doing, it appears they have had to re-write or abandon all sense of Catholic doctrine regarding the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. In the end it has nothing to do with homosexual couples, but is a simple matter of doctrine. One chooses to uphold doctrine or one chooses not to uphold doctrine. There is no middle ground. We as a Patriarch cannot write doctrine or change doctrine. Rather, we are a guardian of doctrine. Likewise, all Bishops are called to be guardians of doctrine. 

What the totality of the ramifications of the decision of the General Convention will be for the Episcopal Church and for the Christian world overall is yet to be seen. What is troubling, though, is that such a large Christian community as the Episcopal Church making the decision to change fundamental doctrine of the Christian Faith in order to conform to modern social trends merely gives fuel to the modernists and secularists who wish to see the universal Church weakened and brought under the heel of the world. 

We reiterate our dedication to the cause of Catholic unity and the opposition of modernism and secularism wherever they are found. We pray that the decision of the General Convention will not result in further schism and further division, for that also strengthens the secularist movement. Rather, let those in the Episcopal Church who hold the Catholic Faith in their hearts resolve to strengthen their own faith and put that faith into action in a positive way, not a destructive way, taking courage from the words of Saint Athanasius that those who keep the traditions of the Catholic Church, even though reduced to a handful, are the true Catholic Church. Let no one give into despair, but always and everywhere seek to build up the Catholic Faith.

11 May 2012

Judgment and Compassion

J.M.J.

The proponents of gay marriage have an odd habit of justifying their position by claiming that we should not judge others. Their position is one of intense moral relativism and selective theology. We as Christians are called to compassion for others, and we are also called to oppose sin. That means we hate the sin but love the sinner. Yes, we must admonish each other (Col. 3.16). Our religious leaders have an even greater duty to give godly admonitions to the people. If something is contrary to the doctrine of the faith, we must speak and we must act, or else we become complicit in the sin. Every single person supporting the administration of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony to same-sex couples is as guilty of that sin as those who participate in it directly. 

To judge the actions of others is not to judge the person directly. The totality of the depths of a person's soul are ultimately known to that person and God alone, and it is God who will judge. Yet the actions of an individual are entirely different. To say we must sit back and say nothing as a person harms his soul through sin because what they are doing might be "right for them" is to adopt moral relativism. It is direct cooperation with sin. To say that a person's sin is their own personal matter is also a falsehood. We are all part of the corporate body of Christ. What is done by one harms the whole, just as a cancerous tumor in one's lungs may affect the entire body. And would a true friend, upon noticing that someone else has an illness, not admonish that person to seek medical attention and not ignore the problem? Why then do so many people insist on remaining silent or even vocally supporting sin in others? 

In all of this, though, compassion must be retained. Never should someone admonish someone else and think inside "Look at me, I am better," for we are all sinners. Rather, we must act in humility and with compassion for the human condition and the spiritual state of others. It is for this reason that our Communion's slogan is "The Church for Everyone." As our Lord embraced all people, even the social outcasts and the sinners, so do we in the Church embrace them. We must do so. Those who share in the priesthood of Christ have even more of an obligation to do so. This does not mean, however, that in showing compassion to others, we can modify the sacred doctrine of the Church. In showing love and support to sinners, never must we ignore the sin, deny it, or rationalize it. As Christians, we must be like the surgeon who feels compassion for his patient, but does not ignore or deny the tumor that he is bound to remove.

+ Rutherford Cardinal Johnson

The Unfortunate Campaign for Gay Marriage

J.M.J.

The recent vote to ban gay marriage in North Carolina has certainly stirred up much controversy. On one hand we have the liberals who are in favor of gay marriage, and on the other we have Christians who oppose it. There are some in the middle. There are even some calling themselves Christians who believe it is not banned in the Bible and like to spout various Bible verses  about not judging others, taken completely out of context, to back up their position. That any of the several American States have allowed gay marriage is sheer and utter madness. It is an affront to the sanctity of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, a sacrament instituted by Christ. Its valid matter is one man and one woman. To be a valid marriage, the man and woman must be canonically free to marry. That is a valid marriage.

Now, some argue that there are other marriages, such as those done by the justice of the peace. Even atheists marry. This is true. At least, however, when those marriages are between one man and one woman who are free to marry, they possess the valid matter. To allow marriages between two persons of the same sex, however, makes a mockery of the sanctity of marriage just as much as the celebration of a so-called mass with Coke and cookies instead of wine and unleavened bread.

Some claim that this is really about legal rights. If so, then why not allow each person to designate one person, whether a spouse or someone else, to have those legal rights being discussed right now? If this is really about legal rights, then that would solve the problem nicely. Somehow, though, I doubt this would satisfy the gay marriage lobby. Such plans exist already in many localized instances, yet the gay marriage front marches forward. Their real intent appears to be to destroy the sanctity of marriage. 

The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is the exclusive domain of the Holy Church. The government has no business interfering or determining who is free to marry. The government ought to stop usurping this authority of the Church. If it did, then votes like those in North Carolina would not be an issue because they would not be necessary. However, when the government undertakes to legislate morality and the sacraments of the Church, the Church has a right and a duty to oppose it, for the government is using its power to impose a certain societal morality on all of society. The government in this case is slapping the Church in the face. It is offending the very sacrament of marriage and all those people who are in sacramental marriages. 

If the government stayed out of it, and marriages were governed by the Church, the true sovereign in this matter, then there should be no argument over gay marriage. The Church has spoken. The theology is both clear and sound. The doctrine and canon law are set and beyond review by the government. If certain heretical sects wish to indulge in the obscene practice of simulating the sacrament of marriage through "marrying" two persons of the opposite sex, then they would still be free to do so under civil law. In that case, though, it would not be imposed as acceptable or normal on all of society. 

Gay marriage, just like co-habitation and other pseudo-marriages, is an affront to the sanctity and the dignity of the sacrament of marriage. Every time a gay couple "gets married," it is a slap in the face to all those who believe in the sanctity of marriage. There is righteous outrage by the faithful at gay marriage. For the government to normalize gay marriage is sheer madness. For the government to continue to impose its will on marriage, usurping the authority of the Church and individual freedom, is complete insanity.

+ Rutherford Cardinal Johnson

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.