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.