Cattle Drive, Fort Worth Stockyards, April 2010

Thursday, July 29, 2010

What is Wrong with Politicians?

It's pretty commonplace to despise politicians and to hate politics. That's not entirely fair. Politics is nothing but the manner in which society strives to live a civil and productive life. It will always be marked by compromises and such, but it should also have some other distinguishing characteristics. For example, it ought to have a primary philosophical outlook which stands as its spring-board to action.
There have been many different base philosophies that have served, and I would certainly say that Christians should expect the basic Christian morality and freedom should be the normative model in the U.S. Surely sharia law would be absolutely incompatible with our cultural worldview and experience. I can see no reason at all to admit of any sharia compliant laws as they are purely based upon Koranic scriptures. It's principle is fundamentally different from what was established in the Anglo-American legal framework. But there must be a foundation. I would also say that it cannot be a socialistic philosophy which robs individuals of the opportunities of freely given generosity and assistance towards others as well as denying them the opportunity of their own personal freedom to make moral choices. This is fundamental, and it is a Christian principal.
But what is broken with politicians? Why do we see such scandalous behavior amongst our elected officials, like John Kerry's tax sheltering of his boat, Charles Rangel's ethical violations, Obama's justice department failing to prosecute overt violations of voting rights perpetrated by the new black panther's? (All of which are outrageous and by no means limited to Democrats.)
To answer this we need to remember that politicians are not outside the problems that beset humanity in general--whether or not one is a believer. Social ills continue and accelerate even in these so-called "enlightened," modern and secular times because man is fallen in action, will, and intellect. He is not broken, but terribly faulted. Since this brokenness has not been healed by the secular model, neither has the attendant social deprivations.
But I would suggest that all political models (and politicians) fail because those in power tend to serve themselves. When the world was ruled by nobility, it was fine when they understood their rule at coming from God and therefore the leaders understood that they too were servants of both God and their charge. (This may well have been honored more in the breach than in the main.) We see that by the time of Henry VIII or Louis XVI things could be altogether different. Even the remarkable Magna Carta was an attempt at limiting the power of the monarch’s self indulgence. So the Monarchies tended to become constitutional monarchies and Parliaments became the effective rulers of countries. Again they took on their own sense of self-serving. The ruling classes changed to that of the merchant rather than landed nobility. The merchant is concerned with the ledger books and accounts, with profit and loss. Soon, because he is running Parliament (or Congress here in the US), things become focused on his own profit. At least the nobility had to keep some care of those who cared for his manor and tilled his fields. The political progressives or none better than the mercantile representatives. They speak of serving the great masses through programs and then it is revealed how well they have been serving their own interests all along.
It strikes me that the only correction to this is for the electorate to select individuals whose desire is actually to serve rather than to be served, who desire to live under authority rather than to wield power. As an aside, this seems also to be one of the greatest faults of the theological progressive as well.
And here we might say that the modern secular state is very much part of the problem because its propaganda promotes each individual’s satiation. It does not seek to model true service and promote service and humility. (The modeling part is not insignificant, after all how many vacations and entertainment events can one President have within a summer? I find it scandalous.) Consider television programs and movies. They all present the great assumption that the purpose of life is to fulfill one’s fantasies, desires and passions. If one is not happy, then something is wrong. Here is the contaminant that stands at the root of the failure of all political systems and the scandals within the Church. So long as one is his own  definition of rectitude, rather than a transcendent and objective Truth, then we shall only continue to spiral deeper into the morass.
This is also the view of Plato, who was not particularly a theist, for his God was not a personal being but a theoretical perfection. The myth of the cave illustrates this nicely. And, of course, in this regard perhaps the greatest flaws of modern secularism is the subjection of all values to the relativism of those in power. Indeed it works well for the powerful because they are only reaping what they desire, which is only right as they see it. Meanwhile, in this secular world, the drain is open and pulling the rest of us down into its spiraling grasp.

Why does Cincinnatus stay on his farm in our hour of need? Where is his modern day counterpart? Hurry, Cincinnatus, we are in need of you again to save us from destruction through your self-abdicating service, leadership and virtue.

[If you are unaware of who Cincinnatus was and would like to know a little bit about him, see this:]

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What are Ya Feedin' on?

Cattle Drive in Fort Worth Stockyards, April 2010
Awlright, hang on ya'll. I'm onna open up my Texas a lil' bit--which is earthy and not fit for anyone with any sort of a Puritanical strain. When I was growin' up I learned an amazing skill. My grandparents had a farm (which I lived on for a while). My granddad raised cattle and it affected me more deeply than I can say. I love their big ol' brown eyes set in their white faces (we raised polled herefords). The skill I learned had to do with feed and manure. Ya see you can tell what cattle are eating by the smell of their chips. You don't have to pick one up or bend over one of 'em. You can smell it as the breeze passes over the fresh manure.

Some of you may think that's a pretty nasty image, but it never bothered me. The smell of beef cattle just reminds me of home (the smell of dairy cattle is a different matter). If cattle are grazing in pastures, their dung smells one way and if they're being fattened up for market (being fed grain and such at the feeding pen) it smells another. It's actually sweeter if their feeding on grain or alfalfa from the barn, which we used to supplement.

There's an old Texas expression (I suppose other's use it too) that, "Your poop smells too." Usually the saying is a little more direct, but you get the point. So… how's your poop smell? Chances are it has a lot to do with what you're eatin'. If your eatin' consistently at the altar of God, digesting his Word in the Scriptures and chewing it like an ol' bull chews his cud, and dining on the sweetness of prayer then your poo probably is of the sweeter variety. If you sit at the table with gossip, self-sufficiency, judgmentalism,  believing you're fine where ya are… well, I'll bet your manure smells pretty bad.

Trouble is that its pretty darned hard to smell your own while your making it, and the same thing is true of our Christian lives. Unless we try to take time to look at our lives seriously we'll be largely unaware of the smells we leave by our sins and shortcomings until someone points it out to us. But just like raisin' cattle, the focus isn't what's in the draft, it's the feed. So ask yourself. What are you feedin' on? Are you leaving a trail the gives glory to God or one that smells to high heaven? And after you figure that out, maybe you'll need to adjust your feed.

Seven Steps through Difficult Times

Every person I have every known (and every one whom I expect to know) will have to wade through the muck and mire of life. This is often an entanglement with difficulties from outside ourselves or it may be personal crises. What I know by experience is that we all face these things with tiring frequency. We live for those lovely periods wherein everything seems balance and harmonious. They are remarkably less frequent than we would wish. It also seems to be a law that as soon as we have experienced the peak of that harmony, something will inevitably confront us and drag us back into the mire.

The melancholic personality views his life as running from disaster to disaster with brief moments of light. The sanguine personality views it just the opposite, life goes from joy to joy with the occasional period of struggle. The celtic blood that I carry in my veins tends to make me the former. You know the old rag about the Irish character, "It's bad now, and it's only going to get worse!" It was once observed to me that Daddy could be the voice of gloom.

But the real question is not about personality types, but how do we get through these times since they are universal and we'll all experience them? How do we make it through those difficult nights when we can't sleep because we can't find a resolution to the things that face us? Millions of Americans are facing these questions on a daily basis now because of the economy. I'll share a little bit about what I do--which I think is healthy--in these cases. I assume that one has already cried out to God that one is hurting and it is profitable to do this because God will give us solace, but it is not the way through the muck.

The first thing to do is ask the question what is the worst case scenario? You see, much of the time the fear and dread comes to us because of what we can't see. It is unknown and so it paralyzes us. If it is concern about your job, ask yourself then, "If I lost my job, what would happen?" Certainly one might go bankrupt and lose one's credit. One would not be able to care for one's family as one wishes and it would absolutely cause a strain on family relationships. Perhaps one looses one's house and many possessions. But there would also be things that would still be there even in the darkest moments. God would still love me--even if I was the cause of these things through grave and mortal sin. God would not turn his back on me and always stand ready for me to repent and come back to him. This realization is more important that we might think. Ultimately, we know we can be victorious and that nothing can finally hurt us. "If God is for us, who can be against us?" To know that we are unconditionally loved is the most reassuring thing we can have in times of darkness. We may be able to add that our spouses would still love us. That our children would still love us and our friends would still care for us. The most bitter darkness we could ever face is not so opaque when others bring their light to us through love.

We might ask would I starve to death? No. I would be able to find something to eat. Would I have a place to sleep? Absolutely. We would be able to find a place for our families to reside as we get back on our feet. Could we find work again? We would, but it would be different and the pay and benefits might not be the same. In other words, in the worst case scenario, things would go on. Life would continue for us even if it were uncomfortable for a time.

The second thing to do is to consider all those who have gone through trying times and come out of it. The best art, the best literature, often the most creative ideas, and sometimes even the most successful businesses have come from people who have gone through difficult times. It was as though the darkness forced them to light a fire inside their souls that finally burned brighter than the night about them. I would have about me a company of people who have suffered and become victors. They would inspire me and give me hope and courage that desperate times can be overcome.

The third thing to do is to admit where we have failed. Unless we are honest with ourselves we cannot hope to change our course. This is often uncomfortable for people, especially when they are down. But the purpose of this is not to gravel or beat one's self up about the failures. It is to admit them, to repent of them and to be aware of what they are. Often there is not sin attached to certain failures. Failures can come about when there is an aptitude or personality conflict. This failure might have been painful for many people, it may be grievous and open, but it is not necessarily culpable. The culpability may have been failure to get help or having taken on something that one constitutionally cannot fulfill. This isn't too uncommon and it creates a sense of guilt in oneself and irritation among others. The tasks may possible to complete on a talent or pragmatic level, but virtually impossible on another level. And sometimes it's impossible to understand why it my be so.

I remember my father told me that in business one should always source out tasks that one doesn't like or that one continually puts off. This was from his experience of doing his own accounting/bookkeeping for his photography studio. He would put it off until the taxes were due for the government and he would actually have to close the studio for a couple of days so he could complete his books. It didn't make sense financially because he was loosing billable hours on a task that only took up his time. It would have been cheaper for his to have hired it out in the first place.

This is the sort of thing we look for when we consider our failures. Often when we are able to face them honestly, we find that we can avoid the problems we have had to undergo. But it is worth noting that this cannot be done unless one has reached a certain amount of peace first. There must be a sense of stability and some certainty before one can see this. When one is in the midst of attacks and pressure, it can be very difficult to analyze. Hence, the first two steps are needed.

The fourth thing we must do is make some goals. If we don't know where we wish to go, then we will get nowhere at all. Within groups this can be very difficult because there must be a consensus about the goal. It is too easy for us all to be too dogmatic about both the goals and the plan (which comes later). Goals should be considered on several levels. They should be considered in practical terms, what can actually be accomplished. They should be considered in terms of the ideal too--what is my ultimate goal. Then they should be organized into bite-sized goals.

The fifth thing to do is to make some simple deliberate plans to work towards these goals. The steps we take towards the fulfilling of the short goals must be simple and practical. This is not a triathlon, it is daily life. For example, the long term goal may be to write a book. That's a big task. But one can set a goal to write three to four pages per day. That is something that one can easily accomplish. These pages add up to chapters and a whole book. Then one can begin breaking the editing of the book into small bites, until finally a finished book is produced. Deliberate little tasks are necessary, big ones can never be done.

Next, one would bring all of this to God. Why only pray now? Well, in a sense I have been praying about it all along. Or, one could say that I've been preparing to pray about it. It is impossible to go to God about problems until we see them clearly. Then we can bring this to God for his guidance and correction. Some of what we may need to bring is repentance, some of what we need is his blessing on our tasks. Some of what we need is the courage to act on what we know is right. None of this is really possible unless we have already done this work. There is also a truth that we will not be able to pray completely until we have reached a certain amount of peace and resolution in our hearts already. The cry to God of our pain is important because he helps us to rest for this process, but it must give way so that we can move forward in Christ to truly pray and work.

There are some who might object, then why pray at all? Haven't we already done all of the work? This is a misunderstanding of what prayer is, specifically petitionary prayer. We assume that we are asking God to do things for us and that that is all that's needed, that if we have already worked out a program, then there is no need to ask God to help us. Actually, what we are doing is asking God to fulfill his love and desire in us. We ask him to bless us, to be present in our tasks and to guide us. When we pray for his help, we are asking him to be with us as we struggle because we know our weakness and our inability to fulfill all that we see we need to accomplish. We are not asking for God to work magic. We are asking for his love. Our work will become far simpler when we do it with him.

Finally, we begin to work. We take our first steps towards our little goals and as we accomplish them, we thank God each time. We ask for God's help and presence as we are doing our work, lest we fall--ever mindful of our weakness and past failures. Eventually, the darkness passes and we arrive in peace again. And if we work through our difficulties in this manner, we will find that our dark times never become quite as black as they did before. We will find that our hearts begin to move naturally towards God in good times and in bad. We will know how to keep working and not to fall into magical beliefs or fantasies. In short, we will be working out our salvation in fear and trembling.

Friday, July 23, 2010

What is the Role of Culture in Christianity?

I have just written an article about culture: local, regional, and universal in the Christian context on my blog, PadreTex Born in the West. If you wish to read it, Here is the link:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

One Week Break

I won't be posting anything this week because of some commitments, but I hope to post something new next week.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A New Post on PadreTex West…

On my other blog I have written what I think is the answer for the western world, the one in which we live. Take a look and feel free to leave your comments.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Cantus mortuit

It ought to surprise no one that I try to keep up with happenings in England and within Anglicanism. For many years I didn't do that. But in recent months I have been reading and listening to the sad tale of a gangrenous infection taking it's chilling grip on the body called the Church of England. If only there had been an amputation years ago of the infected limb, perhaps there might have been a recovery with a luminous hope that would have been fulfilled in unity with either Rome or Constantinople (of course I hope for unity of these two). But the necrosis has reached the heart now, and there is nothing left for it.
   I write this for a couple of reasons. The first is a natural sadness that I feel for what was once my own mother church. It was there that I began to learn the Christian faith. It was there that I came to love the Sacraments. It was there that I came to know some of the incredible Saints of the Church. It was there that I came to love the liturgical life of the Church. So her death is particularly poignant to me. It hurts me very deeply. But this is the second time that I have experienced this because I remember seeing and feeling this when the American branch of the Church of England, the Episcopal Church, went through the same. And from the history which has unfolded here I can see years of difficulties and absurdities continuing in England. It is as though I saw one of the limbs die to this disease and now it has reached its heart. I can't help but be affected by this because it was very much part of my identity and life for so long. So this is partly personal.
   The second reason I write this is because there are people out there who need our love and concern, who are experiencing this tragedy very deeply. We need to pray for them. They are Christians that we cannot afford to ignore in their hour of hurt. We are told by our Lord that we are to feed those who are hungry, and visit those who are sick. Well, here they are. They ought not to have to go through these sufferings by themselves. Very soon, at least in England, many of them will lose their church buildings, the clergy may well lose their income… everything will seem to be very unstable. They could at least use our empathy and perhaps more.
   Thirdly, I write this because it appears to me that there are countless others--besides Anglicans--who are hurt and seeking. Their churches have left them isolated and alone. The music has changed to rock bands, and emotional owing and awing. Worship has become entirely casual and lost its experience of the transcendent God. Mores and values have shifted and things which once were called sin are now being thought of as alternative lifestyles. The Scriptures have lost their formative power in many churches because one may interpret them as one likes. People are hungry for what they know not, and it is our duty to feed them with real food.
   This means we need to eat what is healthy for us, lest we give sweets and pies to those who need meat. We need to know our faith and know it as authentic and authoritative. There can be no compromising it, for if we should do so, again we would give nothing solid to those in want. The Faith of Christ is the only answer that there is. It is the only food that will truly nourish and we must give it to all who are in need.
   Pray for the Anglicans who are in such difficulty. Look for all those who need to be fed and give them a sip from the fountain of life. It is nothing but an act of mercy and our duty.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


The topic of universality is thorny for an Orthodox. At least  it strikes me that most Orthodox find it so. We're so comfortable in our own little communities. The Turks forced the Orthodox live in their own little ethnic ghettos and forbad them to evangelize. This was of course enforced by execution. The trouble is that it seems Orthodox have become too adapted to this truncated inauthentic life. Is universality really a necessity? And what is it?
   I would say that universality is posited in the Cross itself. As St. Paul said, there is "one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." Eph. 4:4-5 The redemptive Cross--and therefore, our entire Faith--is universal. It is for all mankind. Universality is axiomatic with the singular Christ, who is the only lover of mankind. What does this imply? Surely one of the basic premises is that the Gospel is for all and the personal possession of none. The Gospel is the possession of Christ himself and we are simply incorporated into his life, his body, his Church. We become members of the new organic Adam, not the possessors of a subjective thing.
   It is very easy to fall prey to a hidden false notion of universality too. We can easily substitute the notion of a global existence for that of universality. Merely global existence is not universality. It is too small and far too narrow. For example, we can think of corporations that have global markets and offices around the globe. Every office is an extension of the "home office" and they carry--to a very large degree--the culture of the home office. For economic structures this has proven profitable and desirable, but this is not universality. The singular corporate culture of a FedEx is not a good analog of the Christian Faith. Christianity is a radical organic incorporation into the singular body of Christ. Global corporations extend into other markets by hiring of individuals (not incorporating them organically). The corporation receives the financial rewards of this extension, while the employees receive remuneration for their work.
   I am not at all anti-free trade, or mercantilism, or capitalism. It is a financial system that works. And when it has a moral compass, it works magnificently well for all concerned. Those who take the greater risks receive the greater rewards. Those who want more security (and security can never be guaranteed) receive only what they bargain for--their wages and some benefits. That's solid.
  But Christianity is not about putting forward an enterprise wherein the "home office" reaps the majority of benefits because it risked the most. Christ not only risked, he offered himself as a living sacrifice. Then he asks us to sacrifice ourselves in his love even for our enemies. He wants us to become lovers like him. This incorporation into his life is not limited to anyone in the world. They are not required to reflect the culture of a distant office because they are incorporated personally into the very source of the Church's life.
   This gets to the heart of what I think is difficult for us to grasp sometimes in the Church. Every culture is not simply allowed to bring in a couple of items from their heritage, but if they are going to be authentically Christian, they must bring in their entire cultural heritage. Some people get very nervous about this. "But, Father, some of these things came about after the schism!" Or, "Father, some of these things just don't fit!" Well, it seems to me that we can allow God to be God. Let's give him the freedom to be God and get that burden off of ourselves. In the parable of the vinedresser, and in the parable about the wheat and tares, our Lord clearly points out that it will be him who will divide the good and the bad. And he has repeatedly done that throughout the Church's history. There has been constant pruning. We don't need to be frightened or threatened for our goal is not any sort of cultural domination, but union with Christ.
   I have said before that I can't be an Arab. It doesn't mean that I don't love the Arabic culture (I do), it doesn't mean that I don't enjoy it (I do). I simply means that it is not my own and it can never be. To reject my own culture and heritage would be to reject and dishonor my father, my grandparents, and all of my family. They shaped me and made me who I am--for better and worse. I can not be other than who I am and to pretend to be other is to lose my own identity. I would never ask that of anyone.
   But our unity is found in the one Christ and in his one Body. We have the same Faith and everything else is open to us. The Church does the same thing in all places, but she does them differently. The Divine Liturgy is done slightly differently by the Russians compared to us. The Copts do it altogether differently from us. The Latins (and our Western Rite Orthodox) do differently still. But what they are doing is the same (because of the same Lord). It is only how they do it that is different. The Church should rejoice in this incredible diversity because it the sign of Christ's own universality. It is the sign the Christ calls all to unity with him from where they are. He does not call us simply to conform, but to be incorporated.
   The Church must remember her universality and reject a simple global vision. This is actually a dogmatic issue that is supported by the Creed, the Symbol of Faith, for every time we recite the Creed we say, "I believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church." Catholic is commonly translated universal. It is erroneously thought of as a simply collective term meaning "all christians". It means more than that. It is more than global. It is truly universal, reaching past time, space, and across all cultures. It must be so because Christ himself does so.
   I write this because I have often seen more of a global vision among we Orthodox. We seem pleased that we exist across the world and then we expect everyone coming to us to Hellenize, or Arabacize, or Russianize depending upon where the "home office (patriarchate)" is. This is a perversion of Christianity. We must re-embrace the universal mind again. We must be willing to risk and sacrifice ourselves in love of Christ and our neighbor. What I have been writing of late may well prove to be unpopular among some of my brethren. It may cause some friction for me--in part because I won't say these things anonymously with cowardice. Nevertheless, I believe these things come from the essential foundation of the Faith established by Christ himself. Let us all embrace that one Lord and each other.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Is God at Work Again?

I returned Saturday evening from the Parish Life Conference (for those of you who are not Antiochian Orthodox, it is our rough equivalent of a Diocesan Conference). At the clergy meeting on Wednesday evening I heard something that I wasn't sure that I had actually heard. I was startled, stunned, and paradoxically thrilled and filled with angst at the same time. His Grace was speaking about the recent National Assembly of Bishops (Orthodox) and their work. Much of this I had already heard, but had not spoken of much because I continued to hear things that are better not the discussion of large groups. After all, the questions that the bishops are discussing really stand solely within the purview of the bishops.
   On Saturday, before I left Perrysburg (the suburb of Toledo, Ohio where the event was hosted), I asked one of my brother priests who seemed to be more "in the know" than myself. He has always been much more active in these areas than myself. Following our conversation I was utterly floored. So what was it that I had heard, first on Wednesday and then reiterated on Saturday? I heard that it is thought within five years there will be only one jurisdiction of Orthodox in the United States. There will no longer be a Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, and an Antiochian Archdiocese, and an Orthodox Church in America... There will only be the Orthodox Church. But this is not simply an American concern alone. In truth it will be a world-wide action effecting Australia, Central America, South America, England, Europe and so on.
   The details will prove to be some of the great hiccups I am sure. Diocesan borders will be redrawn and restructured. There will be a singular guideline for all the priests in the country rather than seeing it vary in every jurisdiction. Admittedly there will be a period of transition that will naturally cause no little tension. What of the calendar? Will that be a source of unity, or will there be old calendar (Julian) and new calendar parishes still? Just the selection of a revised Julian calendar has caused a terrible schism within the Orthodox Church since the 1920s. Only time will be able to tell exactly what will happen, but five years is a very short time indeed.
   One of my personal difficulties, and I have to be frank about this, is that it appears that everything will be under Constantinople. There is some logic to this. After all a recent study states that 80% of the Orthodox in the United States are already in the Greek Archdiocese. If they have those numbers, then naturally they should have the lion's share of say. Of course, it is being handled with a different sense. The natural presvia (or order given clergy and local churches) is being followed. Therefore the Greeks as representing the Ecumenical Patriarch -- who anciently second only to Rome -- is given the seat of honor, followed by Antioch (since Alexandria has no churches here), and on down the line. I said I had personal difficulties with this, and I do, but I'll save those thoughts for another post.
   Having a singular jurisdiction would be a very healthy development in Orthodoxy here and elsewhere. Yet I can't help to think that this is only part of something that is much larger. We are tempted to look only at our own countries, or only at the Orthodox Church in isolation to what seems to be happening in the larger scene. When I view the scene of Christianity on the largest possible scale, I get the distinct intuition that God the Holy Spirit is incredibly active right now. Of course, God is always active, but there are moments that his activity seems more perceptible.
   Consider these things a components or signs of something profound happening:

  1. The Orthodox Church is working on getting her house in order (trying to reconcile the scandal of multiple jurisdictions in many countries).
  2. Both Moscow and Constantinople have had very positive and warm meetings with Rome.
  3. Moscow has publicly given support to Pope Benedict XIV recently in Rome, and has called for greater work together with Rome on commonly held concerns.
  4. The recent agreed statement produced at Ravena (and that which has been leaked from Cyprus) between the Orthodox and Catholics is incredible.
  5. Pope Benedict XVI issue the motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum, which gave very liberal and broad license to priests to celebrate the 1962 Latin Mass. This is a very significant item because it helps to show the Orthodox that the Catholic Church is officially holding in a line of "continuity" rather than of "disruption". Perhaps it doesn't need to be stated that this was one of the things that Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev brought up as important when he met with the Pope.
  6. Pope Benedict XVI's stunning Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus, which makes it possible in the very near future for Anglicans to enter into communion with the Catholic Church whilst keeping the great treasure of their patrimony shows the genuine sense that the Holy Father has of being the pivot of unity for the universal Church. He seems quite content to allow diversity in unity and is completely unthreatened by it -- provided there is theological unity (recall again the agreements of Ravena and Cyprus here).
  7. The Western world is dying because of many spiritual and moral diseases, but perhaps more than anything else because of the loss of the organic and sacramental unity of the Church: Eastern and Western. The desire to work together would seem to be a hint that maybe we understand this.
  8. The Roman Catholic Church has a nascent recovery of some of her tradition and liturgical beauty at the moment. Although this is still small, one leading priest in this area continually reminds the faithful that this will be brought back together "brick by brick." Deo volunte!
  9. Finally there is the continual disintegration of non-historic Christianity into mere entertainment, leaving many of their faithful looking for something that is stabile, substantial, historic and real.
   Fr. John Richard Neuhaus wrote a marvelous book in the 1980s called "The Catholic Moment." It was, like so much of what he wrote, incredibly insightful. However, I think that the moment that we might be seeing is not simply a moment for the Church of Rome, but for the entire Church Catholic (East and West). I have a suspicion that Orthodox unity is being pressed forward, perhaps unconsciously, to make ready for a reunification of the Church.
   There will be many who would not be able to make a journey to unity and union. Some are liberal Roman Catholics (I'd prefer to say heterodox, or even heretical rather than liberal) who are ably represented by the likes of the Tablet, or the National Catholic Review. Some are the extreme views taken by some monastics referred to by the Archbishop of Cyprus as the Orthodox taliban. Old Calendarists would not enter into reconciliation. Perhaps the inclusion of the Orthodox would make certain of the Society of Saint Pius X refrain from unity.
   Nevertheless, I think that God might well be at work to bring us back together. The reunion would bring more joy to my heart than I could possibly express. I pray for this every day. I hope for it every hour. I dream of it every minute.