11 November 2016

Statement of the Cardinal Patriarch of St. Stephen on the Election of Donald Trump as President of the U.S.

To those who are concerned about the direction of the United States, or of any other country in the world, or of the world in general, get off your ass and do something positive to help other people. Facebook posts might spread messages, but they aren't action, and they don't give you the right to complain as if you have actually done something. It's no different than hobby priests who play on Facebook and do nothing more than share ready-made memes and articles as if that by itself is real engagement in ministry. What kind of cleric would I be if I sat around all proud of myself for being a successor to the Apostles or waxed poetic in romantic nostalgia about the church in Rome tied to my red hat instead of getting out in the world at least to try to make a difference in other people's lives each and every day? What kind of human being would each of us be if we don't try to make a difference in other people's lives each and every day? If you think there are problems in the world, you're right. There are always problems in the world. Stop complaining and do what YOU can to make things better. You'll lose some friends in the process. You'll gain enemies. Some friends will give you blank stares as you try to encourage them to do what they ought to do. Laziness and lethargy are curses of humanity, but don't let that stop YOU, even if you have to go it alone.

It's time to realize that PEOPLE are what matters - and that's the message of the Holy Church. Countries come and go, so why focus on something transient? If you're an American and claim you serve the Constitution, but forget that the only valid purpose of the Constitution is to serve and protect the real human beings that live in America, then the focus of your service is misguided. The laws of God that uphold human dignity of mankind are eternal. The law of the land - any land - is not. Focus on the permanent. Focus on the eternal. That gives you a solid rock of stability when there is chaos around you.

So, you don't like that Mr. Trump is going to be the next American President? Do something positive to make your country better. Start with your family and community. Make it the place you want to live in. And if you do like that Trump is going to be President, don't act like Trump is the solution to the problems in America or anywhere else in the world. I'll give the same advice as I gave to those who are upset by the result: Get up, get going, and make the place you live the place you want to live in. Turn off the television; turn off the internet; turn off the radio. Engage with people in person on a personal level. Like I said, the internet has its merits, but simply sharing memes and articles of others or venting your frustrations isn't real action.

It's time to realize that WE are responsible for the world we live in. The United States hasn't made it 250 years as a separate country. There were Europeans and indigenous people in America long before that. So stop acting as if the choice of President is the one factor or even the primary factor upon which all good or evil depends. YOU - each and every one of you - have the power to make a difference at least to the people around you. Don't sit back while those who are trying to lead by example end up doing all the work. Get off your asses, roll up your sleeves, pitch in, and get the job done. You want a better country? Build one. You want a better world? Build one. Things are tough? Hang in there and keep going. Even Christ on the Cross didn't give up. Things aren't working as well as you had hoped? Make what progress you can. Don't have enough people with you and you're feeling alone? Keep going and don't be one of the lazy people who have abandoned you. Others are telling you not to do what you're doing to make things better? Ignore them as the irrelevant jerks that they are. Pray for them that their hearts may be turned, but don't give in and turn to hate yourself.

So once again, you want a better society? It's up to YOU. YOU. YOU. Don't try to lay it at the doorstep of the President, a King, or any other leader. That's the weak way out, and if you take that path, don't even think you have the slightest right to complain. To make a better world, love your neighbor. If you love your neighbor, you'll put that love into action. So God bless and get moving.

26 October 2016

The Common Goals of Mankind - Seeking Peace in a Polarized World

Sub Tuum.

Once again it is worth reminding that I believe that most people in the world ultimately want the same basic things. They may differ in how to get there. Yet, as we compete for scarce resources, mindful that there are many of low morals and high greed that will try to take more and more at the expense of others, it is all too easy to view those that disagree as the enemy and become more and more polarized. And, there are those who profit off of disharmony, conflict, and polarization. The people of the world are being split apart by a few who do so for their own selfish ends. When people sit down and discuss issues in a framework of respect, openness, and reconciliation, however, many things are possible.

14 June 2016

Statement on the Orlando Mass Shooting

Sub Tuum. 
 Sunday the United States saw a major shooting incident in Orlando at the hands of an Islamic militant bent on the destruction of human life. It is not the worst shooting incident in U.S. history, for the incidents at Waco and Wounded Knee, slaughter at the hands of the government, had a higher death toll. However, it is nevertheless a tragic event. It is one that the Holy Land knows on a regular basis as a routine event, though it has thankfully thus far been very rare in the United States. What we are dealing with is not a gun control issue or any other political issue. What we are dealing with is a fundamental lack of respect for the sanctity of life. That is a problem that plagues the United States, Europe, and indeed the world of today as a whole. We cannot point the finger at the Orlando shooter without acknowledging the sickness that plagues modern society as a whole. If we clamor for action over the pointless death of fifty people in Orlando, but stand silently by while crimes against human rights are committed and over 1,000,000 children are murdered legally every year, we as a society have as much blood on our hands as does the Orlando shooter. Nothing will heal what ails the nation until we turn to the love as exemplified by Our Lord Jesus Christ.

12 June 2016

Love & Judgment

Sub Tuum.

These days we hear "Judge not" as the end-all unifying and supreme verse of Bible. Relativism has been promoted as the correct Catholic belief, not to mention the philosophy underlying the modern way of things in society at large. The problem is, like anything relativistic and anything that takes only one slice of the Christian faith as the totality, it leads to contradictions that weaken our individual faith and spirituality. We should love our neighbor with all their imperfections just as Christ loved the world that nailed Him to the Cross. Yet Christ did not hesitate to proclaim the faith and point out the difference between right and wrong. We love the sinner even while hating the sin. The makes sense, for how can we help the sinner if we drive the sinner away through arrogant judgmental action? Still, Scripture tells us that we should fight evil. 
So, there is a proper framework in which we must be. First, we must accept and acknowledge taht we are all sinners. When we observe the sin in others, we must consciously recognize the sin that is in us as well. We cannot judge in a way that puts us in a superior positions to those who sin, for that is ignoring our own shortcomings. It is finding fault in others in order to make ourselves feel better. If we condemn others for sin, we condemn ourselves in the process. However, if instead we notice sin in others and also in ourselves at the same time, if we turn the microscope on ourselves, we realize that the other person not only needs help, but needs help in the same way that we do. They not only have issues with which they are straggling, but are straggling with those issues in ways similar to us. In that way we see ourselves in other people. We see our own faults in the faults of others, even if those faults are not the same. It becomes a framework of brother helping brother rather than some sort of Puritanical condemnation of those who fail to keep the standards. We as humans all fail. Puritans tolerate no failure. To be Catholic, though, is to realize that we all fail and that failure is part of our journey.
We can only solve our problems through the grace of Jesus Christ and through the efforts in us inspired by faith in Him. Christ hung on the Cross for us all, but remember that we are to take up our own crosses. Doing that unifies us with the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, the only way in which we can obtain forgiveness of our sins and seek true amendment of life. This is the frame of mind in which we must always be if we are to observe the errors of others. When we judge others, if we are to be Christian, we must judge ourselves at the same time and, realizing we are all sinners, join ourselves to our brethren who are in sin and strive through the power of the Cross to bring them up.

27 May 2016

Transcript of the Patriarchal Address on the Feast of Corpus Christ 2016

Sub Tuum.
To the Members of the Court of St. Mary of Walsingham, to all the clergy and faithful under Our pastoral care, and indeed to all the clergy and faithful in Christ around the world, that all may be one, the grace and peace of our Lord, and Apostolic Blessings on this Feast of Corpus Christi in the year of our Lord 2016. As the Trinity season begun on Sunday, a mere four days ago, we will remark again that we consider the Trinity Season a great gift as a period of reflection on all that has recently been experienced. From the beginning of the liturgical year in Advent, we prepare for and experience the coming of our Lord to earth as man, the chief occasion being the Nativity. Then comes the period of the Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles in which we welcome Christ likewise into our homes and our hearts. Next comes Lent, during which time we focus on the earthly ministry of our Lord, culminating in the going up to Jerusalem, the Passion, and the Crucifixion. Then comes the moment for which the world long waited and for which we wait in anticipation each year, the most important day of the liturgical calendar, the Easter Vigil and the Sunday of Resurrection, when the victory over the grave is complete. Yet Christ did not merely rise from the grave and disappear. He had more to do. He had to make plain His great victory, that all might believe and be saved. Thus begins the forty days from Easter to the Ascension - a marvelous time in which there is much to absorb. And, of course, the Feast of Christ's glorious Ascension itself does not even mark the end of Paschaltide, for our Lord promised to send the Holy Spirit. That we celebrate on Whitsunday and throughout Whitsunweek, inviting the Holy Spirit again into our hearts and renewing our openness to the work of the Spirit in Christ's Holy Church Militant. And so it is that Paschaltide ends immediately prior to the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity. God the Father was made known first to the Hebrew people. Then God the Son was made manifest on earth. Once our Lord's ministry on earth had been fulfilled, indeed in very fulfillment of the Hebrew Scriptures, He send the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit. It is truly right and even logical that the end of the Easter season ends with the Feast of the Holy Trinity.

So great and so deep is the mystery that we cannot hope to comprehend it all. There is much to learn each year. There is much personal growth that can take place if we only open our hearts to the truth of Christ. Thus we are given the marvelous gift of the Trinity season each year, following Paschaltide and continuing until the beginning of the next liturgical year with Advent. As the liturgy shows us the Persons of the Holy Trinity in Christmas and Epiphany, Lent and Easter, and Pentecost, the Trinity season lets us relax and reflect, taking in all that we have experienced, and marvel at the mystery and power of the combined Trinity.

Less than a week into Trinity season, though, comes the Feast of Corpus Christi. We celebrate and worship the Most Holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of Mankind, the founder of the Holy Catholic Church, and the Supreme and Eternal King and Priest. We celebrate the fact that our Lord remains with us here on earth through His presence in the Most Holy Sacrament. Christ lives on the altar, which remains a true and living Sacrifice to which we may all join ourselves. As we begin Trinitytide, we receive the bold reminder of Christ's presence on earth so that we do not wander through Trintytide aimlessly, merely waiting for it all to begin again next year at Advent, but instead walk through like pilgrims with purpose. May we in our Patriarchate be pilgrims with purpose, letting our lives be as a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Let us all seek Christ in all that we do and thereby lead a life filled with divinely-inspired purpose.

We are blessed in the Patriarchate of St. Stephen, the Anglican Rite Roman Catholic Church, to continue the legacy of Walsingham, of Rome, of Florence, and of Jerusalem. Our legacy is ancient and deep, and we drive forward in humility. To the members of Our Curia and Houeshold without whose assistance We could not so effectively serve, We thank you sincerely and give Our special blessing. And now, all may prepare to receive the blessing of our Lord.

Et Benedictio Dei omnipotentis, Patris, + et Filii, + et Spiritus + Sancti, descendat super vos and maneat semper. R. Amen.

23 March 2016


Sub Tuum.

Coat of arms of Flanders
This evening after the liturgy I was reflecting on the events earlier today in Belgium. Another group of militants from ISIS carried out yet another attack, again on European soil, making good on their threats. It is easy enough to say that it is a distant thing half a world away and does not impact us directly. Even with the cries of "Je suis Bruxelles," it is easy for it to seem distant as life goes on. Life does indeed go on, as it must. As it happens, though, two of my old schoolmates were there in the middle of it all. One, a physician, helped to treat the wounded. The other tended to the needs of the victims as well. I am proud to see the two school girls I knew in my youth have grown into ladies who did not fail to help others, even in the midst of the chaos of what was nothing less than a combat situation. Their selfless acts and the selfless acts of others stand in stark contrast to the cowardly acts of those who pretend to be soldiers, but strike at the civilian population with an intent to terrorize, demoralize, and destroy order and civilisation.

Continued reflection reminded me of my many ancestors who came from Flanders, once its own state, and now a region of Belgium. Brussels is the Belgian capital and also the Flemish capital. Indeed, the city from which my name comes, Ruddervoorde, is not very far from Brussels. Ruddervoorde translates from Flemish as "Knight's Ford (River Crossing)," which brings to mind the Flemish and Frankish knights, among others, who successfully defended Europe against those who would invade and maraud, terrorizing the local populations. 

During this Holy Week, I request that all the faithful pray a rosary for the people of Belgium and for a final victory against the militants that will not stop in their efforts to bring chaos and destruction to the world. 

28 February 2016

Thine Altars, O Lord of Hosts

Sub Tuum.

The Communion Verse for today's mass, the Third Sunday in Lent, says, "Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God." How true this is, that the Most Holy Sacrifice that takes place upon the altar of God is the source of the eternal offspring of God. It is by uniting ourselves to the Sacrifice that takes place on the altar, the one Sacrifice for all time, which we both remember and experience as a true and living Sacrifice, that we become children of God. It is through the saving grace of the Sacrament that we have hope of eternal life, that we may dwell in the house of the Lord and praise Him for ever and ever. We are truly blessed indeed to be made sharers in this great and marvelous Mystery, for there is not even one thing on earth that has as much power as the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. 

Those of us who have been made sharers in the Light of Christ must, therefore, within the ever-present bounds of human weakness, seek to live as children of the Light. In the Epistle for today's mass, Saint Paul writes of just that very thing. Yet, today we see ever-increasing secularism, as people turn from God and turn towards alternative idols. 

We, the Christian faithful, would be much stronger and would be much better able as a group to walk as children of the Light of Christ if we were not so fractured. Many so-called "calls for unity" are nothing more than arrogant attempts by one organization to absorb another for often less than pious reasons. We see in Scripture that there are many peoples, yet it is through Christ and through Christ alone that all become one. We in the Apostolic ministry continue the authority given by Christ Himself, first to Blessed Peter as first among the Apostles, and then to all the Apostles. 

As our Lord says in today's Gospel, a house divided against itself cannot stand. Why, then, do we allow vanity and arrogance to separate the Christian brethren? Why do we permit disputes to break up the family of Christ? Would we not be better off finding what common ground we may find and working to cooperate, while not compromising our principles? The building of artificial walls between us is as ridiculous as one of the twelve Apostles refusing to work with another. What foolish pride that would be! If we Christians are fractured, it is the work of the antichrist, but we Christians have only ourselves for allowing it to perpetuate.