25 December 2013

Christmas 2013

Sub Tuum

Patriarchal Address on the Feast of the Nativity of O.L.J.C.
A.D. 2013

To the members of the Court of Saint Mary of Walsingham, 

Greetings and Apostolic blessings on this Feast of the Nativity in the year of our Lord 2013. When the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, it was a time of great unrest and conflict in what we now know as the Holy Land. This Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus while there is again great unrest in that region of the world. The Christian people of Syria have been hounded, harassed, attacked, and persecuted in this past year, creating many martyrs and refugees, and placing one of the oldest Christian sites in grave peril of irrecoverable loss. What do the governments of the world do as a whole? They remain silent. They do nothing. We can be reasonably assured that had it been Muslims being persecuted or killed, there would have been a loud outcry from the governments demanding that it cease and threatening military intervention or economic sanctions. We see here, then, the evidence of the power of the Cross. The world loves its own and hates what is not of the world, and thus despises the Cross and all the faithful in Christ. The forces of darkness are ever-ready to seek the destruction of the Church wherever they find opportunity. Sometimes the mechanisms are subtle and even imperceptible to most. In Syria, it is direct violence and brutality by Islamists. We ask again: where are the voices of outrage in the international community? Where are the widespread voices of outrage even within the Christian communities of the world? Where are the calls to action?

Over 900 years ago, when the Christian people in the region of the Holy Land were threatened and harassed by expanding Islamic rule, such a call to action was issued by the highest authority in Christendom. In 1095, Pope Urban II issued the first call to Crusade, beginning the first of more than ten such efforts of the high middle ages. The Crusades of that time were first and foremost military actions undertaken with great moral imperative to free the Holy Land from the Muslims and to defend the many pilgrims to the Holy Land. What is our sacred duty to protect we must protect indeed. There ought to be no apology for that in general, and, unfortunate abuses due to the fallen state of mankind notwithstanding, there ought to be no apology for the Crusades. As direct successors to the legacy of the knights of the Holy Church who fought before the Cross, this Patriarchate certainly issues no such apology. Rather, we praise and commend the efforts of all who fought with pure heart against the enemies of the Christian Faith in order to preserve the Church, protect the faithful, and ultimately save lives.

Where, then, we ask yet again, is the call to action to defend the Christian Church in our age? Where is the outrage demanding that action be taken in Syria to institute freedom and defend life? Why does the prevailing attitude among at least vocal Christians seem to be one of weak capitulation and begging pardon for defense of the Faith? Remember the words of the Holy Father Pius XII when he issued the reminder that the Church on earth is known as the Church Militant because "...on earth the powers of darkness are ever restless to encompass her destruction. Not only in the far-off centuries of the early Church, but down through the ages and in this our day, the enemies of God and Christian civilization make bold to attack the Creator’s supreme dominion and sacrosanct human rights."

The clergy of Christ's Holy Church are leaders in what Pius XII termed the militia of the faithful. Let this holy and spiritual militia of today indeed stand firm against the forces of darkness around the world, inspired by the Passion of our Lord, the blood of the martyrs, the wisdom of the Doctors, the words and deeds of the Confessors, and the example of the shepherds of the flock. Let the powers of the civilized and Christian world likewise stand firm against evil and, in this present situation, stand firm against those who persecute and destroy the Christian civilization of Syria. To the clergy and faithful we admonish prayer; the rosary, novenas, private orations, and the most powerful prayer of all, the Holy Mass. Let us all offer our prayers and service ceaselessly in this never-ending conflict into which the Church Militant has been plunged and will remain until the coming again of our Lord Jesus Christ in glory.

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

16 December 2013

Gaudete Sunday 2013

Sub Tuum

Today Gaudete Sunday (the Third Sunday in Advent) coincides with the Octave Day of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Gaudete Sunday takes its name from the Introit of the mass for this day, Gaudete in Domino semper, iterum dico gaudete. That is, Rejoice in the Lord always, I say again, rejoice. It continues "Let your modesty be known to all men: for the Lord is nigh." On this day the vestments are not purple as they are on the rest of the Sunday masses of the Advent season, but rose. Likewise it is customary for the candle in the Advent wreath for this day to be rose instead of purple. It is the day on which we have a glimpse forward to the coming of Christ as celebrated on the Feast of the Nativity. It is a time to rejoice "...for the Lord is nigh." In the midst of our Advent penance and preparation, Gaudete Sunday provides a joyous reminder of just what and who it is we are anticipating. Gaudete Sunday is a time of both joy and anticipation. 

That Gaudete Sunday coincides (or "occurs," to use the technical term) with the Octave Day of the Immaculate Conception this year (as it sometimes does) is particularly interesting to me. The Introit of the mass of the Immaculate Conception begins "I will rejoice." Beyond that liturgical similarity, there is something even more significant. Surely the Immaculate Conception of our Lady as the pure vessel from which our Lord would be born was itself something both of joy and anticipation. Nine months later, she was born. Thus began the first period of anticipation. When she came of age, the Angel Gabriel came to her, and saluting her as full of grace, announced that the Lord was with her. She held in her hands the choice to accept or reject the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. Let us rejoice and be thankful that she was the handmaid of the Lord. And then began the next period of anticipation as she carried our Lord within her. The birth of Christ was and is a cause for rejoicing. But then began the next period of anticipation as Christ grew to manhood, began His holy ministry, and then undertook the Passion, rose from the dead, and ascended into Heaven. During this period of anticipation were the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin. Yet imagine the joy of our Lady as she learned of the Resurrection! And imagine her joy as she was assumed, body and soul, into Heaven to be reunited with her Son and reign as Queen, interceding for us always. 

Thus it is that today on Gaudete Sunday we both experience the joy and anticipation of the coming birth of Christ and the Immaculate Conception of His most holy Mother in whose own joy and anticipation we share. We who stand at the foot of the Cross at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass stand alongside Mary Ever-Virgin and experience the joy of the triumph over death and the anticipation of everlasting life!

12 December 2013

Advent and the Persecution of Syrian Christians

Sub Tuum.

What an interesting and sad juxtaposition it is that so many Christians are fleeing their ancient homeland of Syria amid violence and persecution. In a time in which the civilized countries of the world are quick to condemn anything seen as even an insult to Islam, I wonder where the support from the international community is now for the persecuted Christians. 

Here in America it is mostly a joyous time of year. There are the bizarre extremes to which some people go while shopping. However, we also have Christmas lights, music, parties, eggnog, and a general cheery feeling. The outward appearance at least seems far from being a people that walk in darkness. The persecuted Syrian Christians, with their world thrown into chaos, provide a much more obvious example of a people in need of deliverance like the world was over two thousand years ago. I pray that the Syrian Christians are soon delivered from their exile as the Holy Family returned to the Holy Land. More than that, I pray that the Syrian Christians do not lose their faith during their great time of trial for them. 

Our outward circumstances may be different, but it says nothing about our inward circumstances. A persecuted Syrian Christian may be at peace in side, confident and strong in his faith, while an outwardly cheery person in Europe or America or Britain might be experienced great spiritual tumult inside. 

Advent is the start of the liturgical year for a reason. It is the time of the year that we are reminded that the people that walked in darkness have seen a great light. We are reminded annually of the need for spiritual renewal, for as the darkness of the world may descend on us, the light of Christ has come and is with us if we only let it in. Remember the old saying that no amount of darkness in the universe can extinguish the light of even a single candle. 

During this Advent season, in particular remember the Syrian Christians and all persecuted Christians both at home and around the world. Let all be comforted by God and let us make straight in the barren desert of this world a highway for our Lord to come. 

27 November 2013

A Call to Action: Obama's further attack on the sovereignty of the Holy Church

Sub Tuum.

It has recently been announced that the Obama administration has downgraded the Nunciature (Embassy) of the Vatican to the United States. It will no longer occupy its present building, but will be moved to offices within the embassy of the Italian Republic to the U.S. Likewise, it is said that in time the American Embassy to the Holy See will be moved to offices within the American Embassy to Italy. Aside from the glaring geopolitical fact that the Vatican City-State is a sovereign state and not part of the Republic of Italy, this is disturbing in the extreme on a much higher level. 

America has a long history of anti-Catholicism. It was a major step when Ronald Reagan gave full diplomatic recognition to the Vatican. Mr. Reagan and Blessed John Paul II were friends and allies in the cause to defeat communism around the world. Now we have a White House occupied by a communist who shows Islamist tendencies. He does not mind bowing before Saudi royalty, but he snubs the representative of the Vicar of Christ. Particularly as seen in the light of the Obama Administration's numerous attacks on religious freedom, human dignity, and the sanctity of life, this is disturbing indeed and a grave matter of concern. 

It has been said by some, and certainly asserted by the Obama Administration, that the Church must yield to the civil government when the two are in conflict. One common argument for this is that the Church exists in part within the territorial boundaries of the United States. Yet, the United States exists within the territory of God's earth. The Church Militant has lasted on earth approximately 2000 years. It has outlasted every empire and nation on earth. Duty to God is greater than duty to country or to anything else. In fact, a Christian's service to one's country (which is a laudable thing) can only be done in a manner consistent with the laws of Christ. This applies likewise to participation in civic societies and even to one's employment. 

It is time for all who profess the Catholic Faith in America to stand up and make their voices heard that they are servants of Christ above all else. It is time to say that our loyalty is to Christ and His Holy Church above any nation, however great it may be. No nation of this earth compares to the Kingdom of God. 

The Church Militant is the body of faithful here on earth. She is militant because the enemies of Christ are always seeking her destruction, and we certainly see this with the present situation in the United States. The Church Militant is not a body on its own. It is joined through bonds that no earthly power can sever with the Church Suffering (the souls in purgatory) and the Church Triumphant (the souls in Heaven). Many tyrants have sought the destruction of the Holy Church. By the Passion of Christ and the blood of the martyrs, all tyrants have failed. 

Now is the time for those who profess the Catholic Faith to stand up with the resolve of Christ as He faced the Passion and with the courage of the martyrs as they earned their holy crowns. Let no one of the faithful stand idly by as the forces of darkness attack the Church.

13 November 2013

The Economic Plague of the 21st Century

Sub Tuum.

I'm sure you will all not be surprised when I mention that increasing secularization is largely to blame for the cultural situation that permits the economic conditions plaguing millions of Americans (not to mention millions more around the globe). Ultimately what we are dealing with here is greed for money and lust for power. The government as a whole suffer from both (and that applies to both parties). Meanwhile, the leaders of massive corporations likewise suffer from greed and lust. Those corporations, with their resources and influence, have potential to do great good, and many have done so. But, a corporation still has a duty to bear in mind and work for the common good just as individuals do. With increasing wealth, power, rank, and influence goes increased responsibility. If as a hypothetical CEO my one goal is increasing profits so the shareholders will be happy and give me an even higher salary than my already staggeringly-high salary, without regard to the impact this has on others, then I might be satisfying my responsibilities to the corporation, but I fail in my higher responsibilities. 

Some argue that it is survival, and that is true to an extent. Mainly, though, in smaller businesses in which one really is fighting to survive. Is it really worth putting a lot of people out of work, though, just so the CEO can afford another vacation house or swimming pool? American society unfortunately would say it is. Sadly, the pre-Civil War slavery culture was more kind to the slaves than rampant capitalism is to supposedly free people.

We have built a society that worships the Almighty Dollar. Profits are considered more important than people. Until we as a society learn to love our fellow man, we will never begin to solve the problems facing us. They will only get deeper. What we are facing as a society is an economic plague caused by an infection of the soul.

08 November 2013

Government and Charity

Sub Tuum.

As Obamacare has taken effect, the debate over health care in America has continued to heat up. On one hand, there is, independent of the government, the legitimate Christian concern over those who cannot afford health care. The Church has never been content to say that only those with a large enough pocketbook or the right kind of job that provides health insurance "deserve" medical treatment. Rather, it is a basic Christian principle to help those in need without first checking to see if they have a health insurance card. 

Also at hand is the issue of skyrocketing health care costs in America. The same treatment is available in other countries, for example, by American-trained doctors with top-rate equipment for far less money than Americans have to pay. Various theories as to why these costs have been increasing abound. Health care is certainly one area in which capitalist interests should not be the primary concern. 

Now Obamacare (or the "Affordable Care Act," as it is officially called) has arrived on the scene. One of the first things many people noticed is that their health care has not become more affordable. Many people observed their premiums actually going up for the upcoming year. Insurance companies state that this is necessary to comply with the new laws. As they are now no longer able to turn away those with certain pre-existing conditions, they have raised premiums to insure that they (the insurance companies) do not lose money. On top of this, Americans no longer have the basic commercial right "not to buy." Those who do not purchase insurance will be fined with what has been officially determined to be a tax. In the case of government requirements to have auto insurance if you drive, you have a choice whether or not to purchase an automobile and whether to drive on public roads. In the case of health insurance, there is no option. One is forced to purchase insurance or pay a tax simply for being alive. Living is a fundamental right, and now the government has found a way to tax that. 

At the heart of this debate are two issues. The first is whether or not the government knows better than an individual about that individual's health. In pure socialized medicine, like any other socialist system, the government is supreme and the individual has no self worth. The government-imposed system determines what the individual "needs" based on the perceived needs of society. There is no respect accorded to the sanctity of each and every human life. Obamacare has yet to show that it is going to be anything other than socialized medicine, reducing the dignity of human beings to mere drones of the state. 

The second issue at the heart of the debate is the issue of private wealth. With higher premiums for many of those currently insured and with the requirement for the uninsured to purchase health insurance or pay a tax, we have what can easily amount to a tremendous transfer of wealth from a large segment of the population. To whom is this wealth transferred? To major corporations, to the government, or both. Now, there is nothing wrong with corporations or the government as long as they fulfill the requirement that we all have to do what they do with a mind to the common good. Obamacare, however, looks to be yet another mechanism to reduce the wealth of many people and concentrate that wealth in the hands of a few private individuals and the government. That may seem to be an extreme scenario, but it is one that has been played and replayed many times. The destruction of private wealth, with wealth then being vested in a few individuals and the government, gives the potential for unlimited control over the vast populace by those few individuals and the government. In all but a truly benevolent, Christian-oriented government, exploitation and tyranny are the inevitable outcome. What else could be expected if the government views the people as mere tools to be used by the state? 

This process is not one that takes place instantly. The intelligent revolutionaries plan their actions over time, introducing new policies and procedures ever-so-slightly so that there is either no resistance, or there is a manageable level of resistance. Over time, people acclimate. New generations grow up with indoctrination, and thus are immune to the admonitions of their parents and their elders, dismissing them as old fashioned and outdated. This was the means used by the Nazis and the communists. It was highly effective. It is still highly effective. 

The fact is that most people are followers and susceptible to manipulation, even in "individualistic America." It is right to submit to just authority. Leaders have a tremendous responsibility to lead those in their charge in the way of right and truth. When leaders fail in that responsibility, their authority is no longer just. 

03 October 2013

American Government Shutdown and Responsibility

Sub Tuum.

UPDATE: Since this article, I have learned that some members of Congress are either refusing pay or donating it to charity during the shutdown period. Here is an article with a list

Everyone surely is aware that the U.S. government has partly shut down because Congress failed to pass a spending bill. Around 800,000 federal employees who were deemed "non-essential" are on unpaid furlough until the matter is resolved. This is a significant financial hit to these federal civil servants. Some are left wondering whether or not they will be able to pay their bills and take care of their families. Members of Congress, not surprisingly, do not share in this financial sacrifice and continue to be paid. It would have made far more of a statement if Congress had stopped their own pay in solidarity with the furloughed federal employees while continuing to do their public duty. 

This whole sad episode leaves me continuing to question whether the majority of public officials in Washington have the common good at heart. This is an essential trait for those who hold the public trust. It seems to be sorely lacking. Lines have been drawn, and there does not appear to be much interest in reasonable compromise. "Do it my way, or else" is not compromise. Compromise consists of both sides giving and taking, not one side giving and the other taking. Stubbornness and pride led to the clock running out and many people temporarily out of work. Then, through the assistance of the media, it has all been politicized in the extreme. Hopefully when this is all over and the dust settles, certain government officials will have learned a valuable lesson. If not, then perhaps it is time for them to resign. 

13 September 2013

Love Those Who Insult You

Sub Tuum.

Children are notorious for insulting other children. Schoolyard taunts, spreading rumors and gossip, and other forms of verbal cruelty are commonplace among children and youth. It is an unfortunate byproduct of the immature brain of a child. As children grow, their brain undergoes a process of maturation. This is a very delicate and impressionable time. Their inappropriate commentary and actions provide opportunity for parents and teachers to set boundaries and help the children learn and grow. Note that I say they provide an opportunity. Some completely abdicate their responsibilities or are forced to do so by societal pressure. The result typically is a lack of full development of the child into an adult. Sometimes, despite the best efforts of even the best parents and teachers, children don't fully mature emotionally, and they remain cruel and exhibit bullying behavior into adult life. Sometimes this is a lifelong pattern. 

More often than not, these adult bullies are highly insecure and seek to build themselves up by tearing someone else down. Have you ever achieved some sort of success or made an accomplishment, only to have someone immediately start attacking you for it and putting you down? Sometimes it is someone you don't even know or haven't heard from in awhile who comes out of the woodwork just to try to burst your bubble. I suspect if I asked all of you to raise your hands if you have experience adult bullying, I would see a lot of hands raised. 

The internet has greatly enabled these adult bullies. It is easy for them to troll the internet and post from the relative safety of internet anonymity. Many who wouldn't dare to say something to your face instead post it on the internet. How cowardly that is. Then again, that's what bullies are...cowards. As my mother always says (and your mother probably says it too), if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. 

As Christians, we should love and indeed pity those who insult us. That doesn't mean we should tolerate the behavior and "be a door mat." It does mean that our way of dealing with it must be rooted in Christ's love. Remember that our Lord said to love our enemy. Remember that Saint Stephen prayed for his persecutors even as he was being murdered. Pray for your persecutors. Pray for those who insult you and are cruel to you. Pity them for the tremendous void that is inside them and for the burden of cowardice that is their cross to bear. If someone hurls an insult at you, let it be to you like the flail was to our Lord during His Passion. Let that suffering you endure be for the poor souls in purgatory. Let yourself be taken up and be filled with the joy of Christ!

11 September 2013

Live Your Life According to What You are For, not What You are Against.

Sub Tuum.

Has anyone else noticed the amount of negativity in the world? What about all the complainers for whom nothing is ever right (except what they do, of course)? Certainly most of us voice complaints or concerns from time to time, but now it seems so many people define their lives by what they are against rather than what they are for. The biggest problem with that, other than the negativity, is that it really does nothing to help each of us understand and define who we really are. It does nothing in reality for our sense of identity. 

Let's start with an historical example. Let's say you lived in the 1940s and were against the Nazis. I bet most of you immediately thought that meant you were an American or at least with the Allies. Does it really mean that? Not at all. It just means you are against the Nazis. It says nothing about who YOU are. 

Now what happens when the Nazis were defeated? Who are you then? If you define yourself by what you are against, then you must go look for something else to be against. If that is the case, then you are destined for a life of conflict while all the positive things pass you by. 

Things that we are against should come as a natural extension of the things we are for. If we say we are against abortion, then that says little if anything about the reasons why and what we are for. On the other hand, if we say we are for life, then being against abortion is a natural effect of that. Moreover, it explains why we are against abortion. The state of being against something grows out of a positive thing (supporting life) rather than something negative. If you order your life and define yourself according to what you are for, and what you are for is good, then what you are against will come from a position of love rather than hate.

10 September 2013

Patriarchal Address on the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin 2013

VENERABLE Brethren and members of the Court of Saint Mary of Walsingham, greetings and Apostolic blessings on this Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the year of our Lord 2013. It is customary on this feast day to bless seeds and seedlings. These symbols of new life help us to remember to respect life as Mary did, bringing the Prince of Peace into the world. Now, though, the seeds of war are being sown after more than a decade of continuous global conflict. We speak, of course, of the pending military action in Syria planned by the United States of America. It is true that there exist just wars, the doctrine of which was first laid down by Saint Augustine. Yet, there is grave doubt as to the justice of this planned war. More troubling is that the American government seems determined to press for military action now without considering even the basic points of Just War Doctrine. A government, if it is to be legitimate, must exercise extreme diligence in such grave matters. As the government possesses information that the people do not, the government bears the majority of the responsibility. The burden of proof lies with the State to demonstrate that it is a just war rather than with those who oppose war to demonstrate that it is not a just war.

While there is much violence and strife in Syria at present, there appears to be no sufficient case made for American involvement in yet another regional conflict. Other nations around the world that have typically allied with America in military action have thus far refused to participate in the proposed Syrian campaign. Furthermore, have other means truly been exhausted? Where is the evidence that diplomacy has not worked? The mere fact that diplomatic efforts do not bear fruit according to one’s own timeframe does not itself justify warfare nor make warfare inevitable. War may only be just if it is truly a last resort. That is not the only condition for a just war, but it is an essential one and perhaps the most essential one.

The Christian population of Syria is approximately 10%, making is a small minority compared to the Muslims. Make no mistake that they are in danger. Prelates of the Church in Syria have already been victims of anti-Christian hate. If there is military involvement in Syria by the Western governments or the United States alone, there is good reason to believe that Christians in Syria will be in even more grave danger than they are now.

We call upon the American government to exercise extreme caution and diligently discern whether or not their planned military action in Syria is truly necessary. They must seek to find and exercise every possible alternative to war before initiating a war. A war in which all alternatives have not, within the bounds of human weakness, been exhausted is mal in se, and the faithful are right in opposing it. Remember always that one’s duty is first to Christ and His Holy Church. This is and always is above all duty to country.

Whatever the decision of the American government, we as Christians must bear witness to the truth of Christ and openly pray and work for peace. We must also pray especially for the safety of any military personnel sent into Syria, and that any who may die will not die in vain. Our increasingly secularized society has long since abandoned respect for life, and a society that does not respect life will not respect peace. The sword is taken not for justice but for vanity, for life has become cheap. Where is the respect for our fellow man? Where is our respect for life, regardless of national border? Let a renewal of the faith begin inside each of us. Let the spark of this faith grow into a flame that cannot be hid from others. Let the Passion of Christ on the Cross be shown to the world in part through our own passionate life in Christ!

We commend and thank each of you for your tireless and diligent service to Christ’s Holy Church in this year. The liturgical year drawing to a close was dedicated to Faith and Tradition. We now announce that the upcoming liturgical year will be the Year of Chivalry and Service. May the traditions of chivalry remind us that the sword may only be taken only as a last resort in defense of life and justice and with the ultimate goal of peace.

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

31 August 2013

Manners, Driver Courtesy, and Consideration for Others

Sub Tuum.

It seems driver courtesy is completely absent from today's roadways. How many among us have almost been run over? How many among us have been cut off by a driver impatiently bobbing and weaving in and out of traffic, only to arrive at the red light a few moments before you? 

The world is suffering from a lack of manners today. Most of us are guilty of breaches of etiquette from time to time, but the problem has exploded into a societal epidemic. This did not happen overnight. It has been slowly getting worse over the last several decades. As the schools, the government, and even now the parents preach a message of pure individualism and entitlement to children, it really is no wonder that few seem to have a sense of courtesy or any sense of consideration towards others. 

On the roadways, where many people drive heavy automobiles capable of causing serious injury to others, it would make sense that courtesy and caution would be the watchwords of drivers. Sadly they are not. Backing out of a parking space, one is likely to encounter drivers who cannot stop and wait, but feel compelled to whip right around you, even at a speed far too fast for a parking lot. Impatient drivers create dangerous situations. Even many police officers do not set a good example for driving. Are we in such a hurry to get "there" that we cannot enjoy being "here?" Is wherever we are driving so incredibly important that it warrants endangering or inconveniencing other people? Or is it merely that we have lost any sense of consideration of others? Other people have become unimportant to us as a society. Our society lives only for the individual and the concerns of the individual. Other people simply do not matter to our society. What a sad world it is when our interactions with others only matter in so far as they benefit us. 

How we drive on the road truly does say a lot about how we value other people. Next time you are tempted to cut someone off on the road, let them pass. Next time you feel you have to rush through a parking lot, slow down and let others get out of their parking spaces. Maybe they have somewhere to be, too. Next time your blood pressure goes up with anxiety at the "slow driver ahead of you who is actually already doing 5 miles per hour over the speed limit," take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy the scenery where you are (but still keep your eyes on the road!). The more courteous and considerate you are to other drivers on the road, the more courteous and considerate you are likely to be to other people in other situations. Give it a try!

30 August 2013

Telling the Truth can get you beheaded....

Sub Tuum.

Today we commemorate the beheading of Saint John the Baptist. He was the forerunner of our Lord. He proclaimed the Truth. 

The Baptist had openly reproached Herod for divorcing his wife and unlawfully taking another one. (It was the Law of God that had been violated.) Herod used his worldly power to silence John, fearful of the influence he had over the people. John was imprisoned. 

One evening, one of Herod's daughters danced so well that he offered to give her whatever she desired. She said that she wanted the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Herod obliged, and the Baptist was beheaded. Thus ended the earthly life of a man who proclaimed the Truth of God.

It is not such a modern phenomenon that those who proclaim the Gospels might suffer persecution. It is nothing new at all. Are we willing to risk harm for proclaiming our faith? Are we ready for financial, legal, or physical assault that may occur simply for speaking the Holy Truth? John the Baptist was imprisoned and executed because the ruler of the land was afraid of his influence. His head was placed on a platter. Did this silence the truth? No it did not. All Herod could do was to kill the earthly body of the Baptist. He could not kill the soul. He could not stop the Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension. His entire argument was the blade of a sword, and it was wholly insufficient. 

Remember this the next time you are taunted, harmed, or persecuted for your faith. The world will hate you for proclaiming the love of Christ. Proclaim the love of Christ anyway. 

29 August 2013

The Syrian Situation

Sub Tuum.

The turmoil in Syria is all the talk on the news these days. Some are clamoring for an American invasion of Syria. Some believe the U.S. should avoid getting involved in yet one more regional conflict that is viewed essentially as a local matter. First and foremost, though, should be concern regarding the humanitarian situation. Christian churches are being bombed. There are allegations of chemical weapons having been used. There are many victims of man's inhumanity to man. 

Is American military involvement in Syria really going to save lives and create stability, or will it merely add to the killing and destruction? That is the question that politicians must answer. Before we ask even one soldier to put his boots on the ground in Syria and possibly die, the government must ensure that it is worth the potential cost. This is important anyway, but even more so in the wake of over a decade of military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Political considerations and distractions must have no bearing on the decision. Those who are worried more about their own political careers rather than the lives of those whom they might order into combat are not worthy of the awesome responsibility of having authority over troops. 

24 August 2013

What does "Sub Tuum" mean?

Sub Tuum. 

"What does 'Sub Tuum' mean?" is a question I get asked from time to time. It is no surprise, as I typically write it at the top of pastoral writings and personal letters. The simple answer is that it is the first two words from the oldest extant Marian prayer, Sub Tuum Praesidium. The words of the prayer, in Latin and English, are as follows:

Sub tuum praesidium confugimus, Sancta Dei Genetrix.
Nostras deprecationes ne despicias in necessitatibus nostris,
sed a periculis cunctis libera nos semper, Virgo gloriosa et benedicta.

Under thy protection we seek refuge, Holy Mother of God;
despise not our petitions in our needs, but from all dangers
deliver us always, Virgin Glorious and Blessed.

I place the two words beginning this ancient prayer at the top of pastoral writings and letters as a dedication of whatever I am writing to God under the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In a more broad sense, it serves as a reminder to seek refuge under the mantle of our Lady that we may more freely and willingly dedicate all that we do to the greater glory of God.

20 August 2013

Marriage: Freedom or Ball-and-Chain?

Sub Tuum.

We have all heard it said that a man's last night of freedom is the night before he marries. Thereafter, it is said, he is permanently shackled to the so-called "ole ball and chain," his wife. Similar thoughts abound that suggest a great lack of freedom in marriage for both men and women. Is this really so? Or is it instead the case that a true marriage brings freedom to both spouses? I believe the latter is the case. 

Marriage in most of the world is in a deplorable state today. It has largely been reduced to a mere social and legal contract. Many are choosing to forego marriage altogether and instead cohabitate or move from partner to partner. This today is sadly perceived as freedom. It is not. 

Consider relationships like gardens. Everyone is allotted a space for a garden. In one scenario, we have no divisions between our land and our neighbor's. At first glance, this appears to be freedom. There is nothing telling us or anyone else what to do with respect to our gardens or anyone else's. If we run out of space to plant in our garden, we simply go and use the land belonging to someone else. If we tire of what is growing in our garden, there is nothing stopping us from going to take what was grown by others. And, likewise, there is nothing stopping others from planting on our land and taking what we have grown. When we leave our land at night to rest, we do not know what we will find in the morning, for there is nothing protecting the sanctity of the soil we have tilled and that which we have planted. Perhaps we awake to find all as we left it. Perhaps we awake to find that others have taken the fruits of our labor. There is no stability is this. There is no security. Ultimately there is no freedom. 

In another scenario, we each jealously build a fence around our garden. This not only keeps others out, but it keeps us in. We are forced by the fences of others to stay out of their gardens. We are forced by our own fence to remain within our own boundaries. Perhaps to some this appears as a lack of freedom. Yet, what we plant, what we tend and nurture, and what we harvest is for our nourishment and enjoyment. We need not worry that our labor will be stolen by others. We need not concern ourselves with taking from the gardens of others, as we are kept out by their fences and kept in by ours. Our minds are freed to tend our own garden. We are free to commit our entire selves, heart, soul, and body, to its success. That is stability. That is security. That is freedom. 

It is obviously the fenced in gardens that represent what it means to have a true marriage. With the indissoluble bond of matrimony, there is a fence that both keeps others out and the two spouses in. They are thus freed to build their own life together. They are free to put whatever they wish into the relationship and receive from it accordingly. 

15 August 2013

Treasuring Our Friends and Family

Sub Tuum.

A Happy and Blessed Ferragosto to all! In my two most recent letters, I wrote of Saint Lawrence proclaiming the poor to be the true treasures of the Church and of detachment from worldly things, using Saint Clare of Assisi as an example. Today on the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a good time to continue the theme of detachment from worldly things and treasuring others by discussing treasuring our friends and family. It seems so obvious, does it not? Yet how often do we all neglect those who should be dear to us?

The Venerable Fulton Sheen, in writing about the Assumption of Mary, used the example of a gardener who grew a lily and a rose of great value in a garden. Would that gardener then allow the garden in which these flowers grew to go waste and rot? And who would want to see their childhood home razed to the ground? Thus was the Blessed Virgin Mary, the garden and home that nurtured the Incarnate Word and raised him through his childhood years, spared the return to dust and assumed body and soul into Heaven. This is a living example of the fulfillment of Christ's promise of eternal life. It is a symbol of hope for us all.

Now, consider those in our life who have nurtured us and helped us. The "self-made man" is a myth. We all had help of some sort. We all have people who made a difference in our lives and who continue to make a difference. Our parents, our priests, our teachers, co-workers, friends, family, and others. These people, these fellow human beings, form a garden of sorts that help us to grow and flourish. How often do we remember them? How often instead do we forget them, allowing memories of them go to waste in our minds?

Think now how many injuries and injustices we have suffered at the hands of others and how easy it is to recall those vividly. If we take up the room in our hearts and minds with this hatred to others, then there is no room left to tend the garden of those who have made a positive difference in our lives. On the other hand, you won't have time to hate when you spend your time thinking of those who are dear to you. Pray for them. Do something nice for them. Help them when they need help. Our Lord did not turn His back on the garden that nurtured Him on this earth. Rather, so much did He love her that His Holy Mother was assumed into Heaven kept close to Him. There is the example for us all! Love our Lady as Christ loves her, and let that be our guide for loving those who have helped us grow and humans. Forget not your own garden and leave it not to waste.

13 August 2013

Saint Clare and Detachment from Worldly Things

Sub Tuum.

When last I wrote, it was of Saint Lawrence and the poor, who are the true treasures of the Church, and of detachment from wealth. Today, the Feast of Saint Clare, we are presented with another opportunity to explore this same theme. Perhaps the soft economy in which we live at present makes spiritual detachment from wealth even more relevant as people are physically being separated from their wealth. Even in times of a thriving economy, though, we must be motivated to burn the bridge between money and our hearts so that our soul may belong entirely to God. 

Saint Clare was a noblewoman, the daughter of the Count of Sasso-Rosso. She lived in the family palace in Assisi, home of the great and humble Saint Francis. When she turned 18, she eschewed the financially prosperous marriage that was being arranged for her and succeeded in escaping her family home to give herself completely to God. Even the manner of her escape is significant. She dug her way through a walled-up door in the palace that was only opened to carry out a member of the family who had died. This signified her own death to the world. 

Her father unleashed his fury on her in an attempt to bring her back. Clare clung to the very altar and dared him to try to separate her. As he would not commit such a sacrilege, he confronted her with filial piety. She showed her shaven head, which identified her as a bride of Christ. At this her father finally saw in her the same resolute will that he himself possessed. He admired her courage and accepted the path she had chosen. She lived a remarkable life dedicated to God in the service of the Church and died on the morning of the feast of Saint Lawrence. How fitting that the holy virgin from whom the Poor Clares take their name would died on the same day as that very Saint who declared the poor to be the true treasures of the Church! 

Now, not everyone is called to the cloistered life behind the walls of the monastery. Most of us are called to live out in the world. Therefore, let us choose to use what assets we have responsibly with a mind towards the common good. Let the model of Clare of Assisi be that we die to the world and do not generate income purely for the sake of money. Let the measure of success be what you do for others. 

10 August 2013

The True Treasures of the Church

Sub Tuum.

How do we as Christians comprehend the concept of treasure? How do we overcome the world's view of treasure? Anyone who has been to the Vatican or many of the great churches around the world has discovered a great volume of beautiful art worth a fortune in money. It is easy for the world to claim that these material things are the treasures of the church. It is easy for cynics to accuse the church of being concerned only with such material wealth. Saint Lawrence, though, knew better. He was a Roman deacon in the early Church. As a deacon, he had responsibility for safeguarding and dispensing part of the church's material goods to those in need. After his arrest, he was asked to show his captors the treasures of the Church, no doubt so they could exploit the situation and engage in plunder. Saint Lawrence took them to see the poor people of Rome, whom he proclaimed to be the true treasures of the Church. He was brutally tortured and condemned to die by being slowly roasted. He never renounced his faith. He chose to follow the Cross by taking his own cross.

The world's view of treasure was exemplified by the captor's definition. They defined treasure as material wealth...gold, silver, currency, and valuable goods. They could not comprehend what Lawrence meant when he said that the true treasure of the Church is the poor. They were confronted with the power of the truth of Christ. They did not understand it. Instead, they responded with hate, and Lawrence earned the martyr's crown.

What, then, do we make of the material goods and wealth held in trust by the Church? Those assets are mere tools for the Church militant to carry out her mission here on earth. Money itself is not evil, but the love of money is. Using one's assets for the good of others is a mark of Christian love. To implement this, there must be a detachment from money and material wealth. In a society so secularized and oriented towards money as the end-all goal of existence, it is not easy for people to overcome this attachment. How freeing it is, though, when someone realizes he is a slave to money and profit and chooses to break free from the bondage! The chains of money are strong indeed, but the power of God is far greater. To succeed in this liberation, one need only transfer one's devotion from money to God completely. The more God is in your heart, the less room there is for harmful attachment to other things. Once you succeed in this through a constant process of conversion, you will be freed from your attachment to money. You will see that money is but a tool to be used for the common welfare just as Saint Lawrence dispensed goods to those in need.

The great irony is that those best suited to handle and manage great sums of money are those who are completely detached from money. In today's ultra-capitalist society, very often those who accumulate massive amounts of wealth are far from detached from money. Instead, they accumulate money because that is their goal. They want money for itself and for what it can do for them, not for what it can do for others. That is the trap of money.

Let us look once more at the words of Saint Lawrence that the poor are the true treasure of the Church. Consider your own life. Do you not spend your time and your money on those who are most dear to you? And do we not treasure those people who are dear to us? When we give to those genuinely in need, we are saying that those people are dear to us. We are saying that we treasure them. When we detach ourselves from material wealth and give appropriately of the wealth we possess to others, even those whom we do not personally know, we increase our own faith, we implement the love of Christ in the world, we confront our own shortcomings, and we ignite the Holy Passion in ourselves and in those we help.

09 August 2013

Thank a priest!

Sub Tuum.

This is a day especially dear to priests. It is the feast of Saint John Vianney, patron Saint of parochial clergy. So, it is a good day to remember all that priests have done for you and where your life would be without them. Priests offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and convey the saving graces of the sacraments to the people. Flowing from that Sacrifice on the altar, priest provide you counsel, visit you in the hospital when you are sick, educate you and your children, help you learn about yourself and grow as a child of God, and so much more. Make a point today to thank a priest and to thank God for giving us priests.

May God bless you all.

+Rutherford CP

15 April 2013

A Poor Church for the Poor

Sub Tuum. 

In His Holiness's first meeting with the press after his election, Pope Francis stated that he would like a poor church for the poor. It was not surprising that the first instinctive response from some people was to question how a church with no money could help the poor or anyone else. And, I'm sure that the modernists and liberals hearing that statement thought it provided a further justification for the destruction of the Church's traditions, while the radical traditionalists no doubt were highly concerned that more modernist changes were on the way. I will not presume to state definitively what the Holy Father meant by his comment. However, I will provide my own interpretation as to what I believe he meant.

Dear friends in Christ, let's consider the group I just mentioned: modernists, liberals, and radical traditionalists. If we follow the notion of a poor church, those labels become irrelevant. I will return to this later. First let us consider what a "poor church" means. Does it necessarily mean a church with no money? No. The amount of money in the treasury of the church is irrelevant. With money and other resources, the church can accomplish a lot of good for the world. Hospitals, schools, shelters, and other humanitarian facilities may be built through the help of those material resources entrusted to the church's care. Ah! Now we are getting at the root of the definition. "Entrusted to the church's care" is the key phrase. You see, it is no sin to be rich. It is a sin to place money on the altar and worship it in place of Christ. When a rich man or a church or an organization with a lot of money views that money as nothing but a tool to do good in the world in the Name of Christ, then they are on the road to a true, spiritual poverty. A poor church is one that views its resources, however great or small, as being merely in her care for the benefit of humanity.

But the Church is not an esoteric construct merely for philosophical discussion. She is a living thing comprised of the clergy and faithful. Therefore, the people of the Church must order their own lives so that God is their primary focus and their resources are directed towards the common good. This does not mean people cannot take vacations, buy jewelry, etc., but rather that such purchases must be done in terms of Christian modesty and not at the expense of the work of the Church. Everything must be done in moderation and kept in perspective. If someone is buying new cars and jewelry, but doesn't even donate a single dime to to help the poor, then there is indeed a problem. There must never be arrogance that says those with more money are inherently better or harder-working than or superior to those without money. A Church that views the faithful only in terms of how much money they can donate has forgotten the great words of Saint Lawrence the Deacon and Martyr: The poor are the true treasure of the Church.

A poor person is not one who has no money. There are plenty of people with limited financial resources whose main focus is getting more material things. These people may be financially poor, but are spiritually devoid. There are also some rich people who, despite their vast resources, are primarily oriented towards God and have a sense of responsible use of what has been entrusted to them. They may be financially wealthy, but that wealth has little importance to them other than what it can do for others. From those to whom much is given, much is expected. How few people remember that!

Let us now turn to the poverty of the Church in terms of visible expression. Are we building grand buildings and chapels for the glory of God and for the edification of the people? That is the only reason to build them. Are we building our facilities to suit our own modern whims and the trends of society, or do we seek to build something beautiful as a testament to the majesty and power of our Lord? A poor church builds what it can to the best of its ability to offer the best possible for God.

And what of the liturgy? Does one who prefers the Tridentine (Latin) mass simply like the pageantry and show, or is it because it is God-centered and all the visual display is oriented entirely to the total worship of God? In the latter case, one completely surrenders to God and forgets everything else. That is poverty. And what of liturgical changes to suit the times? What of the notion that the clergy should dress like the people? Here we depart from the notion of poverty. Here we seek to suit ourselves. The moment we do that, we cease to live in poverty. The moment we do that, we collectively cease to be a poor church. So you see, if we do our best in human frailty to be poor, our focus becomes on God. There are no more radical traditionalists, liberals, or modernists. The focus is on God and helping the people of God. That, I believe, is the poor church the Holy Father wants. This is a task of building, not tearing down. It is a mission of growth, not of destruction. What a glorious goal this is!

Let us all remember that the clergy and people, though in different ways, are caretakers of what has been entrusted to us as individuals and to the Church as a whole. Those with more resources have more responsibility to use those resources for the greater good. Those with higher rank in the clergy have greater responsibility. We do not ordain men to the priesthood so that they may Lord it over others, but so that they may, like Christ, die to the world and offer the Sacrifice upon the altar for the souls of everyone around the world. A church for the poor helps everyone, no matter who they are, where they come from, or what they have done. Some Christian sects are well-known as "churches for the rich." Sunday services are more a fashion show in the pews than an act of worship. At a poor Catholic mass, the poor, the sick, the downtrodden, the infirmed, the disfigured, the oppressed, and all who suffer around the world are there touching the chasuble of the priest. They are lifted up as the poor priest lifts up the Body and Blood. No one is forgotten at a mass said in poverty. The splendor of God is reflected through the beauty of the liturgy the same for the most humble of humanity as for the most rich and powerful. The glory of the courts of our Lord is not limited to the rich, the powerful, and the social elite, but is available to all who approach in humility and say "O Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner." This is a poor church for the poor!

01 April 2013

Easter 2013 Patriarchal Address

Venerable Brethren and Well-Beloved Sons, greetings and Apostolic Blessings on this Sunday of the Resurrection, in the year of our Lord 2013. What a glorious day Easter Sunday is each year. It is this day that we not simply commemorate but truly live and experience the triumph of Christ over the grave. Without the resurrection, there would be no hope of salvation for mankind. This past Friday, though, we experienced the Holy Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross and the entire Passion of our Lord in a special way in some of the most beautiful and poignant liturgy in the Church. There can be no Easter without Good Friday. This has been said through the years many, many times; yet it seems always necessary to remind the people. It is necessary to remind the fallen world, the secularized world that does not know Christ or has turned a deaf ear and a blind eye. It is also necessary to remind the Christian clergy and faithful, for complacency is an all-to-easy destroyer of one’s faith. For this reason, it is indeed necessary not only to remind others, but to remind ourselves. As we have experienced the pain and suffering of our Lord in His Passion and the joys of His glorious Resurrection, let this cause us to resolve to examine ourselves and our faith daily throughout the year.

A few weeks ago, Pope Francis was enthroned in Rome. We join the world in celebrating this great joy and blessing. Of particular note is the emphasis of his pontificate on the poor, the forgotten, the oppressed, and the marginalized people of the world. This is of great importance to our Patriarchate, due to our special mandate of mission, service, and charity.

After celebrating the institution of the Holy Eucharist last Thursday, it is a good time to reaffirm that Christ’s Holy priesthood is a sacred obligation not to be taken lightly. It is not a mere job or hobby, but a state in life. Priests are married to the Church. All clerics have obligations that they must place above all else. All clerics owe obedience to Christ’s Church and to the hierarchy. It is only when the clergy places their clerical obligations above all else and humbly submit to the Church above their own desires that they may begin to serve the Lord in Christ-like humility. Our Lord’s entire ministry was built on His humble submission to the will of His Father.

For far too long, we have spoken in these addresses of the problems in the world surrounding the right to life, the sanctity of life, and the dignity of the human person. The world still faces the scourge of abortion, with over a million murders of unborn children taking place in the United States alone. How many unborn children are dying daily as the nation talks about equal rights issues? Who is standing up in the public arena for these innocent children who cannot speak for themselves? Are those who demand equal rights likewise demanding equal rights for unborn children? Until the world learns to respect life and the dignity of human persons, all other discussion of rights are meaningless. Every other right in the world necessarily has as its precondition the right to life, as the previous Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI so wisely pointed out.
As we enter into our commemoration of the time the Resurrected Lord spent on earth before the glorious Ascension, let us dedicate ourselves to both prayer and action in the fulfillment of our mandate of mission, service, and charity. Let this charity flow from the altar of our Lord. Let it then begin inside each of us and spread to the world.

Benedicat vos, omnipotens Deus. Pater, et Filius, et Spiritus Sanctus. R. Amen.

18 March 2013

Statement from the Patriarch of St. Stephen on the Election of Pope Francis

Sub Tuum.

Pope Francis has captivated the world with his humble and endearing ways. Not yet a week ago a great joy was announced to the world that Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio was elected as successor to Saint Peter, becoming the first Pope in history to take the name of Francis. He chose his Papal name in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi. Pope Francis certainly has demonstrated in his own ministry as much caring for the poor as his holy namesake. 

As the earthly ministry of our own glorious Patron Saint Stephen was largely devoted to the care of the Roman poor, this is a point very dear to us. Indeed the Church stands as a representative of the poor, the infirmed, the oppressed, and the marginalized people of the world. As St. Stephen's brother Roman deacon St. Lawrence stated to his captors, the poor are the true treasure of the Church. 

Both Stephen and Lawrence were martyred for their faith. Pope Francis said, even before becoming Pope, that we must defend the unborn even if we are taken to court or killed. Here stands before us on the throne of Saint Peter a man who understands the duty to live the Christian faith no matter the cost. 

Now let us return to the Holy Father's namesake, Saint Francis of Assisi. He was a nobleman who gave up his wealth to take up his own cross and follow the Lord. He, like our own modern Francis, lived a life of austerity. St. Francis gave up worldly treasure and laid up instead a treasure for himself in heaven. St. Francis abandoned worldly ambition and instead focused all his efforts towards the Church. Thus he was a great supporter and guardian of the Sacred Traditions of the Church. To St. Francis, nothing was too good to be given to our Lord. He ensured a strict and great reverence for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and gave unwavering and ungrudging obedience to the hierarchy of the Church. What a wonderful blessing it is to see these same traits in the Holy Father, Pope Francis. 

What can we as Christians learn from the Holy Father even in this first week of his Pontificate? First, His Holiness stood greeting the people surrounded by the beauty of the Vatican as a man who has given up everything for Christ. There is an example for us all! Our own merit is nothing! Let us all give up our worldly ambition, which is a process that must be one of continual renewal. Let all glory be for Christ and let all beauty be only that which reflects the power, majesty, and radiant splendor of almighty God! 

Next, let us learn and remember that humility is not a shunning of tradition, but an embracing of it. As we embrace the two thousand year traditions of Christ's Holy Church, we necessarily diminish ourselves and submit in humility to Christ. That is true humility. 

Above all, let us learn from the Holy Father's example of service to the poor. I saw before me a man who, like Christ and Saint Francis, suffers for the poor; a man who, like St. Stephen, St. Lawrence, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ would lay down his own life for others. There is the ultimate love!

I have long said that the world needs more love, and that true love in Christ is the only true solution to the problems facing the world today. Here with Francis we have a Pope who not only promotes that love, he lives it. 

19 February 2013

The Multiplier Effect of Vindictiveness


Vindictiveness is a harmful trait. Its destructive nature spreads out like ripples on a pond or even sometimes waves on the ocean in a storm. Its causes can be varied. Sometimes it is extreme egotism. Sometimes it is low self esteem. Its specific, underlying cause in all cases, though, is the sin of pride. To illustrate with an example, there once was a vindictive woman who was an extreme bully. She kept others down through intimidation and would brook nothing that she considered a challenge to her perceived authority. She bullied those around her, even those who were largely responsible for her success. Anyone who challenged her, she sought to destroy. There were those who did try to stand up to her, but they all either failed or had to back down, cowering in the corner.

Then there came a man who finally stood up to her, for he would not be subject to her bullying. Not surprisingly, this vindictive woman not only sought to destroy this man, but also his family. She was not content to deal with the problem she had with the one man and felt the need to extend her vicious reach to those closest to him. That is the behavior of an extremely vindictive bully. And, as is also common in such situations, the other victims, the man's family, turned on the man and blamed him for the problems that they were facing at the hands of the bully, rather than blame the bully herself. Such is the vile and destructive nature of an intense bully. There is no love, no compassion, and no feeling inside such a person. Christ is not in the heart of the bully, but rather the heart is empty.

Indeed, the vindictive behavior of an extreme bully reaches out well beyond their principle target. Such a bully will not hesitate to strike out at whatever or whomever can be used to hurt their principle target. Most people react out of fear, which is never a good response. Most people give in, knuckle under, and crawl. This does nothing more than fuel the behavior of the bully, making them increasingly stronger and more confident in their bullying. Rather, bullying must never, ever be tolerated. Like the evil that it is, it must be fought, opposed, and brought to light so that victims may gain their strength back instead of the bullies.

One person, one bully, acting on the sin of pride, may do an immense amount of damage to many people. This is the work of Satan. This is a sin crying out to Heaven to be avenged. Far too many people on this earth right now are being kept down physically, emotionally, and spiritually at the hands of bullies because people give into fear or greed and selfishly make the decision not to stand up to bullies. So, the victim suffers. Those around him suffer. His work suffers. His spiritual life suffers. His family suffers. His emotional health suffers. It is time for people to take back their power from the hands of the bullies. Enough is enough.

+ Rutherford Cardinal Johnson

11 February 2013

Benedict XVI

Sub Tuum. 

It was with extreme sadness that I learned of the Holy Father's pending resignation to take place at  the end of the month. Benedict XVI was (and still is) both a forward-looking leader and one who is well-grounded in faith and tradition. This is not a unique combination of traits, but it is not common. What has made Benedict such a good Pope is his true humility. This is not a false humility or humility as so many people wrongly understand it. It is not failing to exercise the Petrine office to the fullest. He was (and still is) the Pope, and he took his office seriously. Rather, the humility that Benedict possesses is that true humility which is a complete surrender to the will of God. This is what has made Benedict such a special and effective Pope in this crucial time in history when secularism has threatened the faith from without and modernism has threatened the faith from within. The gates of hell shall not prevail against the Holy Church, and I believe it is in fulfillment of that promise of our Lord that people like Benedict come to the Petrine office.

We wish the Holy Father a blessed and spiritually rewarding retirement and thank him for the kindness which he has shown us. It will never be forgotten. Now let us all follow the Holy Father's example of trusting in the Lord and doing His will. Let us never be afraid for the future of the Church, and let us be always thankful for this period in which the Church has been blessed with the pontificate of Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict XVI.

+ Rutherford Cardinal Johnson

30 January 2013

Herod and Christ

Sub Tuum.

Today I saw a photo collage that is one of the most stark contrasts I have seen. The picture (below) is of Obama receiving an honorary doctorate from Notre Dame University on the left while, at almost the same time, Fr. Norman Weslin, pictured on the right, is being arrested for peacefully protested the travesty of Obama being awarded that degree. As I look at these two photos side by side, I see so much more. 

Left: Obama receives honorary doctorate from Notre Dame. Right: Fr. Norman Weslin is arrested for peacefully protesting the honorary degree being awarded to Obama.

In the left photo, I see a modern-day Herod receiving the accolades of modern-day Pharisees who lost their faith and lost their sense of duty to that faith. On the right I see another Christ arrested for protesting these modern-day Pharisees. On the left I see a man as content to allow the deaths of innocent babies as Herod was to slaughter the Holy Innocents. On the right I see a man who was willing to hang on the Cross alongside our Lord to defend the rights of unborn children. On the left I see a photo of a man caught up in the mire of his own self-righteousness. On the right I see a truly happy man. 

Fr. Weslin was stripped of his power as he was taken into custody, just as our Lord had no earthly power in the custody of Herod and Pilate, and upon the Cross. Fr. Weslin was stripped of his honor, having a tag stating his crime placed about his neck as our Lord had the charges against Him displayed as He hung on the Cross. Fr. Weslin surely was not comfortable in handcuffs as our Lord was surely uncomfortable in the crown of thorns. As I see a happy man when I look at an image of Christ on the Cross, so do I see a happy man when I look at this picture of Fr. Weslin being arrested. 

To me, the left picture represents the honoring of intrinsic evil so common in today's world that does not as a whole respect life and the sanctity of the human person. The right picture represents all those who are willing to sacrifice everything and hang right there upon the Cross with our Lord to defend the Holy Faith and to defend those who cannot defend themselves. Let us pray for the repose of the soul of Fr. Norman Weslin and for a strengthening of the true faith inside all of us. 

+ Rutherford Cardinal Johnson

12 January 2013

Gun Control

 Sub Tuum.
Those who advocate gun rights are not necessarily saying and should not say that weapons are more important than children. Many gun owners have guns as a means to PROTECT their children. I know people whose lives have been saved because they had a legal concealed gun. Yes, some criminals have killed children at schools, and that is tragic. Do not think, though, that children cannot be killed at schools by mean other than guns. The doctor's knife kills millions of children each year in abortions. Many children also die by other means. Just as illegal drugs are still a billion dollar business despite being illegal, outlawing guns will not eliminate the problem.

Consider also the number of tyrants who have disarmed their populations as a precursor to totalitarian domination. Hitler said this was an essential means. Contrast that to Thomas Jefferson, who said that the only sure guard against tyranny is a well-armed population. Don't think what happened in Germany or Russia can't happen here. I'm sure they didn't think it could happen, either.

The real root of our problem is a fundamental lack of respect for human life. Yes, I say secularization is to blame for that. When we want to eliminate the means of many decent citizens to protect their children in the name of protecting children, while simultaneously proclaiming the murder of unborn children is somehow a right of the mother, it is the sign of a highly skewed value system.

A gun, like anything else, may be used for good or evil. That depends on the purpose and intent of the individual person. But did Cain have a gun? No. St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was killed by stones. Shall we ban rocks? But it was not the rock that resulted in the death of Stephen, but the evil in the hearts of his murders. If they did not have rocks, they would have found something else.

Not until we turn away from hate and towards love and respect of life will the problems we are facing begin to see a solution. It has nothing to do with guns. It has to do with a society that is sorely in need of conversion to the very God it has largely abandoned.
+ Rutherford Cardinal Johnson