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Sunday, November 29, 2020

An Advent Reflection: "Yet If His Majesty Our Sovereign Lord"

 


By Thomas Ford, 1580-1648 

Yet if his majesty our sovereign lord
   Should of his own accord
   Friendly himself invite,
   And say "I'll be your guest to-morrow night."
   How should we stir ourselves, call and command
   All hands to work! "Let no man idle stand.
   Set me fine Spanish tables in the hall,
   See they be fitted all;
   Let there be room to eat,
  And order taken that there want no meat.
  See every sconce and candlestick made bright,
  That without tapers they may give a light.
  Look to the presence: are the carpets spread,
  The dazie o'er the head,
  The cushions in the chairs,
  And all the candles lighted on the stairs?
  Perfume the chambers, and in any case
  Let each man give attendance in his place."
  Thus if the king were coming would we do,
  And 'twere good reason too;
  For 'tis a duteous thing
  To show all honour to an earthly king,
  And after all our travail and our cost,
  So he be pleas'd, to think no labour lost.
  But at the coming of the King of Heaven
  All's set at six and seven:
  We wallow in our sin,
  Christ cannot find a chamber in the inn.
  We entertain him always like a stranger,
  And as at first still lodge him in the manger.


 

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Father Rutler: Christ the King

Father George W. Rutler
These days I am frequently asked if we are living in the “End Times.” As the grace of Holy Orders does not make me a seer, I defer, as is prudent, to the King of Universe: “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:42). So the answer simply is that we do not know, but as the Coast Guard’s “Semper Paratus” motto exhorts, we must constantly be prepared. That vigilance is contingent on everyone’s immediate obligation to be recollect for the end of one’s own life. For the Christian, this is a stimulus to faith rather than neurosis. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).  

The prophets were not like the boy who cried “Wolf!” They were inspired by God to tell what he wants his people to know about spiritual readiness, so that his kingly rule is that of a shepherd guiding his flock through the variables of human experience. In the film The Lion in Winter, Katharine Hepburn as Henry II’s queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, remarks with regal resignation about her dysfunctional family: “What family doesn’t have its ups and downs?” Christ’s family the Church has always had its ups and downs, often big time, and many times it has been the lamentable case that the Shepherd King is tasked with herding cats rather than sheep.  

The Church began with a crucifixion when no one expected a resurrection. That sequence of death and life is repeated time and again. There were the persecutions under so many Caesars, heresies with volatile schisms in consequence, sieges, desecrations, destructions, corruptions and civilly institutionalized blasphemies. But each of these crucifixions was followed by a resurrection. This is to be remembered when distress in the Church is accompanied by a confluence of unrest and fear in politics and pandemics. Through it all, the Carthusian motto grows ever more stolid and incontestable: “Stat Crux dum volvitur orbis”—the Cross stands steady while the world revolves. This is most vivid when the revolving world seems to be whirling out of control.  

On November 5, the ninety-year-old Cardinal Tumi of Cameroon was briefly kidnapped by separatists who demanded that he endorse their propaganda. He told his captors that he must preach only what is true: “Nobody has the right to tell me to preach the contrary because I was called by God.” In every cultural crisis, this is the kind of witness that transcends any attempt to speculate about the end of the world, for it takes its strength from the assurance that Christ Crucified in Jerusalem is also Christ the King of the Universe. 
 
                           His dominion is an everlasting dominion  
                           that shall not be taken away,
                           his kingship shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:14) 

Faithfully yours in Christ, 
Father George W. Rutler


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

A Union of the English-Speaking Peoples


"As we stand on the threshold of a new century - indeed, of a new millennium
- it behooves us to remember what led to the creation of the English-Speaking Union in the first place.

Evelyn Wrench’s idea to form a society for the co-operation of the English-speaking peoples came amidst the carnage and chaos of the First World War. He was prescient. He believed then - and history has borne him out - that the security of the world would largely depend on the close co-operation of the English speaking peoples. Europe’s first great war had made that much clear; its second, only a little more than two decades later, would confirm it.

It was in the 1930s that Winston Churchill set out to write A History of the English-Speaking Peoples. Having served as chairman of the English-Speaking Union from 1921-1926, he knew well the importance of drawing together those who had stood their ground against Germany during the Great War. When he was finally able to return to his task in the 1950s, after the defeat of Hitler’s tyranny, he was more convinced than ever of what he called the English-speaking peoples’ “common duty to the human race.” In his commitment to the English-speaking peoples, as in so much else, Churchill displayed what President Ronald Reagan would later describe as “that special attribute of great statesmen - the gift of vision, the willingness to see the future based on the experience of the past.”

From its official launch on the Fourth of July, 1918, the ESU has prospered and grown into the international organisation we know today, bringing together in common cause over one billion speakers of the English language. Through your programmes and publications, your scholarships and exchanges, the ESU does so much to insure that we will remain united and continue to promote the fundamental principles inherent in our English-speaking cultures. For English is not only the language of politics, diplomacy, and finance, of international business and travel; it is also - and most important of all - the language of values.

The values of the English-speaking peoples which we celebrate are of ancient origin. In the preface to his History, Churchill pointed out that “by the time Christopher Columbus set sail for the American continent” Britain had already come to be characterised by a body of legal principles and institutions including “parliament, trial by jury, local government by local citizens, and even the beginnings of a free press.” These values which we share as English speaking peoples have come together in what we call the rule of law."

_____

1999 Dec 7 Tu, Margaret Thatcher.
Speech to the English-Speaking Union in New York ("The Language of Liberty").



Saturday, September 5, 2020

Father Rutler: The Prince of Lies

Father George W. Rutler

The Prince of Lies cannot lie in the presence of Christ: know who you are—the Holy One of God!” (Luke 4:34). And Christ who is the Truth knows him, too: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18). 

Satan does not want anyone to know him, and yet in the present discontent that afflicts our culture, many anarchists and Marxists invoke him. The desecration of churches and statues of saints is spreading. Twice recently, our own church has been defaced with Satanic symbols: not just the customary obscenities, but invocations of the Prince of Lies. 

The mystics have known two characteristics of Satan. A Desert Father around 300 A.D., Abba Apollo, had a vision of him: “The devil has no knees. He cannot kneel; he cannot adore; he cannot pray; he can only look down his nose in contempt. Being unwilling to bend the knee at the name of Jesus is the essence of evil.” (cf. Isaiah 45:23, Romans 14:11) The other malignant quality of the Liar, as revealed to Saint Martin of Tours, is that he can look as attractive as Christ, but he has no wounds. Instead of taking our suffering upon himself, the Anti-Christ inflicts suffering. That is his infernal nourishment and macabre ecstasy. 

Playing the Devil’s game is dangerous. He has concealed weapons, and the chief of them is deceit. At one recent political convention, a Religious sister from a dying community, in secular dress, prayed not to the Lord, but to “O Divine Spirit” in a way that would have been unobjectionable to a Hindu or an Aztec. With concomitant vagueness, she said that an opinion on the killing of unborn life was above her “pay grade.” At the convention that followed, another Religious in full habit, who is a surgeon and former Army colonel, Sister Deirdre Byrne, made clear that naming the lies of Satan was not above her pay grade as she held her “weapon of choice: the rosary.” 

The rosary is the most effective private prayer in defying the Liar. The greatest public prayer is the Holy Eucharist. Four years ago in France, two Islamic terrorists sliced the throat of 85-year-old Father Jacques Hamel at the Altar of Sacrifice. His last words were: “Va-t’en, Satan!” (Be gone, Satan!) Christ had said the same in the wilderness and on the way to his crucifixion (Mark 8:33; Matthew 16:23). 

Unlike some Catholics, who shy away from mentioning the name of Christ at public gatherings lest they give offense, the evangelist Franklin Graham prayed “In the mighty name of your son, my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” Christ himself warned: “Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:26). 


Faithfully yours in Christ,
Father George W. Rutler