Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Hodie Nos Est

To All who may Read or Hear this, Greetings in the Name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!

Today we are surrounded by a host of forces, each pulling at us in a different direction, each with its own goal, each with its own agenda, different in appearance but common in origin.

Our society, our nation, our community – each is being inundated by endless voices all espousing the same cause – saying the same thing in different ways to try to confuse us – but all of them champions of that Great Easy Way called humanism.

Don’t follow your conscience – if it feels good, do it!

Don’t follow your religion – that’s boring.

Don’t listen to family or friends – after all, what do THEY know!

Why do something that’s hard, when the Easy Way is so much more enjoyable!

After all, we live in the twenty first century. Let somebody else do it! Let the government fix it! Let the guy down the street worry about it! All you need do, those voices tell us, is “kick back and enjoy the ride.”

Well, here’s where that gets us…

If you let someone else do it, you give up control over your own destiny. If you depend on the government to fix every problem you encounter, you give up control over your own lifestyle. And if you let the guy down the street do it… well, you’d better know how he tends his own house before you consider letting him tend yours!

Wherever we look, anymore, we see invitation to sin, alluring in its attractiveness, drawing us in with promises of comfort and security. That same old message from the Tempter to Eve – no less beguiling, no less enticing, no less attractive – and every bit as much evil today as then.

And nowhere is this more apparent than the messages our young people are getting concerning abortion.

Now let’s not cloak this in pleasantry or euphemism, for it is not a pleasant topic, and euphemism only conceals the filth that lies beneath.

Abortion is murder. Yes, murder. No less murder than shooting your neighbor.

Abortion murders an unborn child, a soul, a divine creation.

Abortion is not an “easy way out.” It is, however, a very easy way in – to that place where we, as Catholic Christians do not want to go - eternal damnation.

If we tolerate it, if we “look the other way” and wait for the “other guy” to do the work needed to eliminate it, if we keep silent and just let it continue to happen, we are being every bit as much an accomplice as if we were there, holding the door for that poor misguided woman on her way to the killer’s knife. It is our responsibility, our duty, our God centered obligation, to do everything reasonably within our capability to end this monstrosity in our midst. To do less is to abandon our obligation to our Saviour.

Let there be absolutely no mistake or misunderstanding on this. To partake in abortion is to partake in mortal sin.

It is our duty to let everyone know, and to let everyone know that there are alternatives.

Do not abort – consider adoption, or marriage, or even single-parenthood.

There are, literally, hundreds of thousands of married couples in this nation that are childless and wanting of children. There are folks on adoption lists at every agency handling this that will never get a child. Not because they are found not fit, or financially incapable, or anything else other than there are not enough babies!

Yet abortion goes on.

The abortionist’s knife takes more human lives in this country than drunk drivers, criminal homicide, or accidental death.

Yet abortion goes on.

Those women who have abortions all tell the same tale – of a conscience that simply won’t let go of the memory of that terrible deed and a life ruined by its constant memory.

Yet abortion goes on.

This is the challenge that confronts us today, as Catholics, as Christians, as Americans, and demands our response.

We cannot look the other way; we cannot remain silent while those who would permit, enable or enhance access to abortion promote their views to the level of Law of the Land.

We cannot sit idle; we cannot hope in silence that this abomination will stop. We must do our very best; make a loud noise; stand in the way; do what being right demands be done, and make these murders end.

So to our men, look to our Guild of Saint Patrick to guide your way. Join them. Promote them. Help them.

And to our loyal Guild members, I charge you today as the Church in ancient days charged the Knights of antiquity.

Yours shall be a battle. Not of arms but of the spirit. Not of the battlefield but for the mind and the soul.

For the cause is no less urgent, the stakes no less high, the outcome no less vital than it was almost a millenium ago.

And this shall be your goal, as it is ours – to do all that can be done to quash the evil that has reared its head once again in our midst.

You shall be a light to the world in this time of spiritual peril. With Mary as your guide, with the Cross as your shield, go forth and take up this battle firm in the knowledge that you are in the right, that you are protecting those who cannot protect themselves, that you will truly be doing as Christ would have you do.

And to our lay folk, to those not able for good cause or reason so to partake, do not despair.

There is a weapon we, as Catholics, can use. And we know it works. It is the same weapon that brought down the Soviet Union, the same weapon that stops armies in their tracks, the same weapon that repels the Adversary back to his infernal domain. And that weapon is prayer.

And so I am directing that, in all our Churches, every Mass shall now end with a recitation of that Most Powerful Prayer commonly known as the “Hail, Holy Queen.” And at the end of the prayer, I direct that the celebrant or a lay leader shall say “Saviour of the World” to which I direct our congregations to respond “Save the Unborn!”

The Church started doing this shortly after Our Lady appeared to the three children in Fatima and ordered such a prayer. Then the “target” was communist Russia. Today our target is no less evil and in many ways no less powerful. And that target, abortion, can and must be defeated. With the help of God, through intercession of the Blessed Mother, we can prevail. We must prevail. And we will prevail!
all the Churches upon its reception, commencing this Twenty Fifth day of January in the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Nine.

Vincent A. Quaresima

Province of Our Lady of the Angels - Old Catholic Church

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Old Catholic Province of Our Lady of the Angels

The Province of our Lady of the Angels is a Inclusive Christian Community in the Roman Catholic tradition. We draw people from isolation to community, from searching to awakening, from indifference to concern, from selfishness to meaningful service, from fear in the midst of adversity to faith and hope in God.

The Spiritual Communities of the Province of our Lady of the Angels share God's compassionate love with all people. The Province offers a spiritual home to all.

We celebrate God's loving presence in our lives. In worship and sacrament, especially the Eucharist, we are nurtured and challenged to extend God's kingdom of justice, truth, love and peace by growing in the spirit of Jesus.

Our Clergy provides leadership, enhances communication, contributes to the building of community, and discovers and responds to the needs of the flock of Christ.

The Province of our Lady of the Angels is Sacramental. We believe in the historic Christian doctrines as found in the Nicene Creed, the Apostles Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and the Ecumenical Councils of the First Millenium. We observe the seven Sacraments and hold Apostolic Succession through a number of lines. We welcome all to our churches, fully committed to the mandate of Christ to preach the Gospel to all, and fully mindful of "that which you do to the least of My brethren, you do unto Me."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Virgo Virginum, Oct. 1, 2008

To All who may Read or Hear this, Greetings in the Name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!
Virgo Virginum. Virgin of Virgins. Mother of Christ. Queen of Heaven. God-bearer. Theotokos.

We honor the Blessed Virgin Mary in many ways - in our daily lives, in our devotions at Church and at home, in our prayers, and as role model for the ideal Christian life.
From time to time throughout the long history of Christianity the role of the Virgin Mary in God's plan for the redemption of mankind from the snares of Original Sin has been the source of discussion, debate and at times, violent confrontation.

In most recent times, there has come forth the opinion of other Prelates that Mary should be accorded such a unique level of reverence and veneration that she must also be considered the purest of the pure, and held safe and isolated from the presence of Original Sin, even from the time of her conception.
Thus became formalized, some 150 years ago, by Pius IX of blessed memory, this notion of immaculate conception. It was not until the formalizaton of Papal infallibility by the First Vatican Council that the true impact of this dogma was felt.

Now let us examine exactly what this belief does to the nature of the Blessed Virgin and her vital role in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.
Were it not for the temptation of the Serpent, and Eve's consent to that temptaton, there would have been no need for a Redemption. The preternatural perfection of God's creation, Mankind, had no need of a Redeemer since Mankind, prior to Eve's failing, had no knowledge of sin or evil.
God, in His infinite wisdom, created mankind with free will. He did this for a reason; He was to put us to a Test, and without freedom to choose the Test would be void of meaning.
We failed the Test because Eve freely chose to violate God's command.
We failed the Test because of a choice freely exercised. This choice was freely exercised from a preternatural state, free from sin and its encumbrances.

And so we - you, I, and every person who walked the earth after that fateful day - became needful of Redemption, a Redemption that was promised virtually immediately upon the fall of man from grace in the Garden. And it was a Fall precipitated by a free choice.
And it is no less important that our Redemption be initiated by a free choice. And since the Fall of Man was precipitated by the free choice, made by Woman, from a sin-free preternatural state, so is it that the path from sin to Redemption would also be the result of a free choice.

Again, the choice was to be made by a woman - a young Jewish girl, about two thousand years ago, that we today honor as the Virgin Mary. A messenger from God, the angel Gabriel, appeared to her and told her that she was to be the Mother of the God-Man who would redeem the world. Mary, being a virgin, was naturally confused as the angel Gabriel continued to explain that all of this would happen through the operation of the Holy Spirit. The Message was much more than what I am saying here, and you are encouraged to review the accounting as the Evangelist Luke has given it to us. Be mindful as you read. This was a young girl, sworn to virginity, confronting what seemed to her to be an impossibility, and being brought to the brink of her decision by the angel Gabriel's encouraging words, finally consenting with "be it done unto me according to thy word."

The intense mental struggle, the forces of Darkness vying with the Promise of Light and Truth, are only vaquely implied by the Gospel account. This young girl was confronting an Ultimate Impossibility - giving birth and remaining a Virgin Most Pure. During her time of decision, however short it may have been, she would be the first to doubt this possibility but, over the long history of Christianity, certainly not the last.
But we as Christians, Catholic Christians to be sure, not only accept the Virgin Birth of Christ as truth, we embrace it eagerly!

Immaculate Conception of Mary? Now that is a completely different issue.
Conceived without sin, entering this world without the trappings of Eve's failing, unencumbered by the need for Redemption, without fear of the Temptor or his minions, this is the preternaturally pure Virgin that Immaculate Conception would bring us. The true "ewig Weibliche" of Goethe personified by a simple teenager in ancient Palestine, totally innocent, totally pure, totally devoid of anything approaching a state less than that of Absolute Perfection, the preternatural Child of the Eternal. This is all very poetic, very inspiring, but leaves something lacking.

As Eve, in her Preternatural state, chose Evil over Good and by that choice encumbered mankind with Original Sin, now comes Mary who must make another Choice whereby mankind can be led back from the Darkness of Sin to the Light of Salvation. To relieve Mary of Original Sin would do nothing less than so mitigate the weight of that Choice, and completely upset the "balance" of the Redemption by Jesus Christ as the response to the Fall of Man. As Woman led humanity from the sin-free state, so again, Woman must lead humanity from our sinful state to her Son and our Redemption.

Mary was not, and is not, divine in any way. She was, and always remained, totally human in every aspect. Sharing in the burden of the Fall of Man only elevates her Choice. Being isolated from that burden would render her Choice virtually meaningless, for as most people readily understand, perfect circumstances make hard decisions easy.

And if Mary's choice was to be easy, it is impossible to comprehend how that choice would be worthy to bring forth the Redeemer, Mediator and Advocate for all mankind, our Saviour Jesus Christ.
So a young virginal Jewish girl, sullied by Original Sin, burdened by its impact, doubting of mind and fearful of consequence, is not in any way something to be held back from the Virgin Mary.
To burden the souls of our faithful today with requiring belief in something not founded at all in Scripture, and something which runs against the nature of the need to balance the decision of Eve with a decision for Redemption, is of dubious value. And such a requirement, framed as Dogma required for our eternal salvation, has no place in the Catholic Church.

This is not to say that one is not free to believe therein if one so desires, if one so believes it to be of comfort, or of aid to one's soul. And we have no objection to such private pious belief or practice. Nor do we have objection to the many and various devotions to the Virgin Mary which have grown up surrounding the fond notion of the Immaculate Conception.

This is, however, to say that to require such a belief as being necessary for salvation is not proper. Not for the last one hundred fifty years; not today; not ever.
We shall always love, honor, venerate and revere the Virgin Mary in our lives and in our Churches. She is the God-Bearer, Mother of Christ, Queen of Heaven and more. She is the role model for purity, motherhood, devotion and love, and in this she shall remain exalted in our daily lives.

Virgin of Virgins, our Mother.

We need not ask for more.

With the Blessing of Almighty God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, shall this letter be shared with all the Faithful in all the Churches upon its reception, commencing this First day of October in the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Eight.

+ Leo Augustine I
Old Catholic Province of Our Lady of the Angels

Ubi Caritas, Sept. 15, 2008

To All who may Read or Hear this, Greetings in the Name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus

    Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.

    Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor.

    Exultemus, et in ipso iucundemur.

    Timeamus, et amemus Deum vivum.

    Et ex corde diligamus nos sincero.

    Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.

    Simul ergo cum in unum congregamur:

    Ne nos mente dividamur, caveamus.

    Cessent iurgia maligna, cessent lites.

    Et in medio nostri sit Christus Deus.

    Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.

    Simul quoque cum beatis videamus,

    Glorianter vultum tuum, Christe Deus:

    Gaudium quod est immensum, atque probum,

    Saecula per infinita saeculorum. Amen.

This is a simple hymn, an ancient hymn, containing principles that we, as Catholic Christians, find often and sadly lacking in our daily lives.

"Where Charity and Love are, God is there."

How often do we look at others, see what we want to see, hear what we want to hear, and condemn? Today?
Yesterday? Last week? Always? Mindful of what Christ teaches, and what the Scriptures tell us, this is not the way to lead a Christian life. We are warned to "judge not" however we judge often, condemn often, and by so doing, we sentence our fellow man to a life of ostracism, social inferiority, class discrimination, and worse.

"Christ's love has gathered us into one. Let us rejoice and be pleased in Him."

One? Just look about you. What do you see? Catholic, Protestant, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, and more. All seeking the Word in their own way, true to their own hearts, silent in their meditative lives, listening for the Word in their Silence, and in the working of the Holy Spirit spreading that Word to their neighbors. Or do you see divisiveness, petty squabbling , rumor mongering, and hate? Do you look at a Baptist church and pity what goes on in that place? Do you feel better about yourself saying "thank God I am not like one of them?", forgetting the story Jesus told us of the Penitent in the Temple?

All too often this is what goes on. Catholic says "I don't hate the Jews" but won't do business with a Jew. Protestant or Jew says "I don't hate Blacks" but won't move into a "Black Neighborhood" preferring to view that as either dangerous or somehow "beneath their station." After all, "we know" they are not quite as good as us, don't we? Now we know that this is not "what Jesus would do" but somehow that simple Example just doesn't seem to be in the forefront when we "just know better." Or do we?

"Let us fear and let us love the living God. And may we love each other with a sincere heart."

Nobody ever said that being a Catholic Christian was easy. If you are looking for easy, you are not looking to follow Jesus Christ. Jesus never told us the path was smooth, the burden light, or life was to be without pain. He said "come unto Me" to those who felt the burden heavy, or the moment painful, and "I will refresh you." He didn't say "I'll make it easy" or "you won't have any problems" along the way. The Promise which He gave us was that He would be with us along the way, and also that He would send us the Comforter. Having a mind open to Him and to the Holy Spirit is our responsibility, or "our end of the bargain," so to speak.

Jesus Christ does not hand us salvation. The Church does not give out Keys to the Kingdom. Christ and the Church are the means to salvation. And that salvation is equally dependent on how we comply with the Commandments that Christ mandated we follow:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul and with thy whole mind. This is the first and great commandment.

    "And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."

The first is easy. God is good. God is the Creator. Without God nothing that is would be. It is easy to love God. Fully. With heart, soul, and mind. After all, there's really no effort involved here.

And then there's that second Commandment. The "neighbor as thyself" matter. This is not so easy.

Humans, people like you and I, are not so easy to like. We are selfish; we are arrogant; we are thoughtless, cruel, and usually indifferent to anything that does not involve the moment and individual comfort or convenience.

Oh, there's that "every day should be like Christmas" thought that some like to say they have. You know. Christmas. That time of year when everyone goes around pretending to love everyone else. That is not sincere; that is puffery. It is being caught up in the emotion of the Holiday Season, the freshness of the seasonal weather, and the false fellowship of the Office Party and the Exchange of Gifts. Very little love there - since it is all about making ourselves feel good thinking that we are doing good for others. And in most cases we accomplish neither.

The true "spirit of Christmas" is exactly what Christ told us to do: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."

If your neighbor is hungry, feed him. If your neighbor's house burns down, take him and his family in. If your neighbor is in need of financial assistance and you are able, give him some money. And do this until it hurts. Really hurts. Until the act of giving hurts you so badly that it starts feeling good - and it will. And therein you will find the true reward.

    "That which you have done unto these, the least of my brethren, so have you done unto Me."

And when someone in need comes to you, or to us, for help, are we to turn him away because we do not like the color of his skin, or where he lives, or what he wears, or with whom he keeps his company? Did Jesus make that distinction when someone approached Him in faith for help and forgiveness?

Such is the true role of the Christian, the Catholic, and the Church. To welcome within our arms those who come to us "in travail and heavy laden", that we may give them refreshment, and share with them the Message of our Lord and Saviour. It is not our prerogative, or our right, to decide who to admit to our fellowship. The message of Redemption is to be spread to all people, throughout all time, and not just for us to hold close to our hearts as a private gift.

And so I say to you that within the provinces of Our jurisdiction, the churches shall be open to all who seek us. The message of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ shall be shared with anyone who comes to us to hear of it. The blessings and ministries of the Church shall be open to all who seek them. And the Sacraments, each in their proper order and circumstance, shall not be denied to anyone because of how we think we perceive "what they are."

The Church is a hospital for sinners; not a hotel for saints. And so shall it be our vigilant and never-ending responsibility and obligation so to minister to those in our charge.

It is always our duty to love the sinner, even though we should never encourage the sin. For we all are sinners. From the most exalted to the most humble. Sinners, all.

But the business of Sin is between the individual and Almighty God. It is not for us to judge, otherwise we ourselves will end up being Judged. It is not for us to condemn, for if we would do so, we will be likewise damned. It is not for us to be chastised, for who among us is so without guilt that we can criticize the supposed guilt of others?

The business of salvation is between God and his child, an individual and very much "one on one" event, borne out of the timeless workings of His Church to define that Path under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Church and the teachings of Christ lead us to Salvation. But it is to each individual that the Choice is given; and through the ultimate expression of Free Will, it is a Choice to be accepted or rejected within the workings of the grace of God.

For any of us to cast ourselves in the role of the Judge and Redeemer, to dare take upon ourselves the mantle of "authority" in an attempt to define the relationship of an individual to our Creator, is the ultimate manifestation of arrogance. Even within the context of proclaimed truth, handed to us through the ages, from Councils and the most ancient of Traditions, it has always been held that the act of Judgment is that of the Divine and not the human. For human we are; human we shall always be. And as such we can only seek toward the wisdom of the Godhead but never presume to possess it.

And so let us go forth in the spirit of Charity and Love. We are assured that we shall find God therein. And where we find Charity and Love, let us not criticize but encourage. Let us promote growth and not stagnation. Let us demand understanding, and tolerate no ignorance. And let us offer Love and not hate.To do anything less is to abandon the Mandate of Jesus Christ, to spread His Word to all peoples, and an ultimate failure to obey his directive to "Love one another as I have loved you." Go forth now and do that.

With the Blessing of Almighty God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, shall this letter be shared with
all the Faithful in all the Churches upon its reception, commencing this Fifteenth day of September in the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Eight.

+Leo Augustine I

Old Catholic Province of Our Lady of the Angels