Some of us will remember exactly where we were when we were told that Pres. John F. Kennedy had been murdered. I was sitting in my fourth-grade classroom at school when Mrs. Kehoe told us that, despite the fact that we may have our political differences, that didn’t take away from the gravity of the assassination of the president of the United States. I had no idea what political differences she might have been talking about, but I guessed that adults just had their political differences.
JFK and RFK
I have my own political differences with JFK’s nephew, Bobby Kennedy, jr., but I hope like hell that, by some fortuitous aligning of the stars, he becomes the Democratic nominee for president. The Manchurian Candidate who is currently pulling our nation apart board by board has just got to go. Biden and Bobby are both elderly Irish Catholic men from the Northeast, but Bobby is a man of integrity, whereas Joe Biden is an apostate puppet with no spine.
The $64,000 question is whether the Democratic Establishment thinks that Biden can steal his way to reëlection or whether Kennedy has the gravitas to go toe to toe with Trump or DeSantis and is therefore the better bet for the campaign. If the Democrat power-brokers who denied Bernie Sanders his shot at the nomination in 2016 decide that they’re going to stick with Biden next year, just you watch how they turn savage and cut Bobby off at the knees.
Get the book! Read the book!
I’ll probably vote for the Republican opponent, but if Bobby gets the nomination and wins the general election, then the deep pharmaceutical state who prospered so handsomely from the manufactured pandemic, and the dark interior of the federal government will be in grave trouble indeed. So, for that reason, I have ambivalent feelings of both expectation and dread when I consider a Kennedy presidency. Expectation because Bobby will take names and kick ass; dread because Bobby is a Kennedy and the Kennedys have a way of coming to tragic ends.
It’s almost Holy Week so my mind turns toward the liturgies that we will soon sing to glorify Christ’s death and resurrection. The Western Christians, especially the Roman Catholics and other liturgical churches celebrate Palm Sunday today.
The Tridentine (Council of Trent) High Mass, was celebrated (served) as a solemn (incense) sung (Gregorian chant) mass and was a glorious thing indeed. The Low Mass was an abridged daily version of the High Mass. This “Latin Mass” was for four centuries thegolden standard of worship in the Roman Catholic and Anglo-Catholic (High Church) traditions of the West.
The priest elevates the chalice at the Words of Institution during High Mass
Then the 1960’s happened. The Second Vatican Council was called by Pope John XXIII and continued by Pope Paul VI. An Italian liturgist by the name of Bugnini was commissioned to edit the Sacramentarium and he mucked it up for all time. Him I quote:
“We must strip from our Catholic prayers and from the Catholic liturgy everything which can be the shadow of a stumbling block for our separated brethren that is for the Prostestants.” – Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, main author of the New Mass, L’Osservatore Romano, March 19, 1965
Thoroughly modern Novus Ordo, thoroughly lacking mystery.
Having strayed toward Roman Catholicism on my way from traditional Anglicanism to Orthodoxy, I can tell you frankly that the Novus Ordo (New Order) is the religious equivalent of a McDonald’s happy meal. Gone is the penitential spirit, the deep reverence and the transcendental solemnity that was the treasure of the Western Christendom until that liturgical butcher (strong language, I know!) took a meat cleaver to the mass and made it into a drive-in hamburger. (Aside: I remember when McDonald’s ‘burgers cost 10 cents, and that is about as much as they were worth.)
Professor Dietrich von Hildebrand expressed himself in even more forthright terms: “Truly, if one of the devils in C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters had been entrusted with the ruin of the liturgy he could not have done it better.”
Geoffrey Hull’s magnum opus on the Mass
For those readers who are inclined to look behind the curtain and discover the origins of this “new and improved” mass and how it turned the Catholic Church on its head, I cannot say enough to recommend The Banished Heart by Australian philologist Geoffrey Hull. It is a masterpiece of research and yet is eminently readable. Western Christians who read it from cover to cover will say to themselves, “Aha, so that’s how it all came about!”
When one recognizes how faithful the Orthodox Church has maintained its traditions over the centuries, it’s disappointing to realize that the conversion from the Roman mass of yesteryear to the current substandard one has served only to drive the Romans further away from reconciliation with the Orthodox.
(cf. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 2, Line 33)
Those are the words that came into my head when I watched the news. The punk actor, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who has been elevated inexplicably to president of the largest country in Europe outside Russia is deliberately persecuting the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC). He has expelled the hundreds of monks and students at the Lavra (large monastery) of the Kievan Caves on the pretense that the ecclesiastical property belongs to the Ukrainian state, which will do with it whatever it will. The ostensible reason for the eviction? They say these religious are accused of having ties too close to Moscow, even though they and the UOC have demonstrated their unfailing loyalty to Ukraine during the year-old war. The UOC has even declared its full independence from the Russian Orthodox Church. This unjustified persecution is an action that is tantamount to expelling the pope and the curia from the Vatican for being good Catholics loyal to the Roman Catholic Church.
Mr. Tough Guy
Tucker Carlson addressed the issue with an Orthodox guest at the thirty-minute mark of his presentation on March 14. They discussed it for three minutes, so now millions of Americans know about the situation, Carlson’s show is so popular. He has brought the issue up before because this is not the first step in Zelenskyy’s crackdown on the UOC. However, what has not been mentioned is the complicity of Bartholomew’s faux church, the OCU. That would be the so-called “Orthodox Church in Ukraine”, a bastard ecclesial group hatched just five years ago by the machinations of the vaunted patriarch of Constantinople, the one and only self-aggrandizing prelate by the name of Bartholomew. Certain members of our own U.S. federal government, specifically the Dept. of State, were involved in the creation of this monstrosity along with Zelenskyy’s predecessor, former president Petro Poroshenko.
Our sorry excuse for a U.S. president is all-in for Zelenskyy and his defense of Ukraine against Russia, so he and his government are partly responsible for this present persecution. As a religionist, Biden is about as unserious as they come, so there’s no surprise there. St. Patrick’s Day has recently passed, but it’s doubtful that our Irish Catholic president is aware that Patrick is an orthodox saint, since the apostle of the Emerald Isle lived and evangelized long before the Great Schism between East and West. If Biden were aware of that little factoid, would he care? Probably not.
Nevertheless, now that we know the ugly truth of Zelenskyy’s persecution of Ukraine’s genuine Orthodox Church, we must ask ourselves whether this means nothing to us. Tucker Carlson raised the question about the church leaders in the United States. Do we hear their voices in protest? Where is the outrage that this persecution of fellow Christians is taking place in a Christian country?
As of the deadline for eviction from the monastery, March 29, several metropolitan bishops have voiced their protests, even some American ones. Most notable amongst the Orthodox hierarchs may be Patriarch Porfirije of Serbia, whom I quote in full:
Patriarch Porfirije of Serbia
Appeal in connection with state terror against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church, as is well known, is the canonical and legitimate Orthodox Church in Ukraine, and at the same time the largest religious organization in this country. It is recognized by all Orthodox Churches in the world, as well as by all non-Orthodox Churches and denominations, while the non-canonical schismatic structure, which, although it calls itself the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, does not even have the elementary attributes of a church, is recognized by only four Orthodox Churches, which make up a very small percentage of the total number of believers in the Orthodox world.
Of course, if the numerical disparity were in favor of a non–canonical structure, that is, not in favor of the canonical Church, this still wouldn’t change anything on the ontological level, because the Church is the Church, and an illegal parasynagogue can become a Church only through repentance and canonical procedure, but not by the stroke of anyone’s pen.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church is not at all one of the “warring parties,” but a living and functioning Church of God, which is in unity of faith and liturgical communion with the Russian Orthodox Church and other Orthodox Churches. Wars, both just and unjust, are waged by states, not Churches. In itself, the treatment of the Church as an enemy is monstrous, because believers from both sides of the tragic confrontation belong to it.
The Church is always for peace. It constantly prays for peace and does everything in its power to make friendship and love replace enmity and hatred between people. The Church doesn’t divide people into “friends” and “strangers,” “fellow citizens” and “foreigners.” In the name of God, Who is Love, the Church strives to embrace with love and pastoral care for the salvation of the soul and life of everyone who needs brotherly love and help.
The best example of such a position and behavior is given to us by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church—its primate, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, its episcopate, priesthood, monastics, and faithful people. Therefore, it is with deep concern, sorrow, and compassionate brotherly love that the Serbian Orthodox Church beholds the patience of the saints (Rev. 14:12; cf. 1:9) in Ukraine, beholds the oppression, violence, and persecution that the current Ukrainian government is carrying out against the canonical Church, and thereby against the majority of its own citizens, given the fact that we are talking about the largest religious community in the country.
The persecution literally culminated in recent days with the forcible seizure of churches in favor of a pseudo-church schismatic structure enjoying the status of a kind of “state Church” and an informal inquisition.
The upcoming peak of terror, conceived exactly according to the scenario of the Soviet persecution of the Church, was also announced—the expulsion of two hundred and fifty monks, as well as over a hundred teachers and students of theology from the Kiev Pechersk Lavra, the spiritual source and century-old center of Holy Rus’, the Baptismal Font of Eastern Slavic Christianity and Orthodoxy in modern Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus.
The Kiev Caves Lavra with its sacred treasures is not only a symbol and center of Orthodox Ukraine and, more broadly, of the “Russian world” (however this term is understood), but also an inexhaustible life-giving spiritual font for all Orthodoxy. Moreover, the spiritual and cultural heritage of the Lavra is an extremely important and visible element not only of the Ukrainian and all–Russian, but also of the world cultural heritage.
In the light of these facts, the decision of the current state leadership of Ukraine to expel Metropolitan Onuphry, the monastic brotherhood and the Theological Academy from the Lavra is nothing but a synonym for the horrific state terror over the Church, as well as the grossest violation of its fundamental rights, violation of both religious freedoms and freedom of conscience in general.
The behavior of the Ukrainian state leadership testifies that its true and probably ultimate goal is the destruction of historical memory and all traces of the original Orthodoxy in Ukraine in order to change its code and historical identity, which the Church has created in patience and torment, preserving for centuries, from the Holy Prince Vladimir to the present day.
Feeling and knowing that the only existing Orthodox Church in Ukraine, headed by Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev, carries its cross with courage and humility, hopefully ascending to Golgotha—both Christ’s Golgotha and its own, we are certain that the Crucified and Resurrected Lord, thanks to deep faith, forgiveness and love for everyone, including those who have become its enemies by their own choice, will grant His Church the strength to endure all the incumbent sufferings that it can bear.
Simultaneously with this cry, we raise our voice against the terrible injustice and state terror over the Church in Ukraine, which “cries out to Heaven.” We hope that Churches and religious communities, institutions and organizations that care about peace, justice, and at least some kind of order in the world will condemn the gross violation of religious rights and freedoms in Ukraine.
Praying fervently to the Lord for the cessation of the fratricidal war in Ukraine and for the speedy establishment of blessed peace on its land, we await with faith, hope, and love the triumph of the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ over the forces of darkness, evil, and death. Before Thy Cross, we bow down in worship O Christ, and Thy holy Resurrection we glorify.
Joe and Elpi are chums.
In contrast to that very clear statement by the Serbian patriarch in support of the Lavra, we have this rubber chicken statement today from the archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church in America:
“(We) are compelled to lend our voices, our strength, our energy, to the defense of liberty and democracy in every way that we are able. To speak for the voiceless. To advocate for the defenseless. To fight for the powerless, even as we are bold to speak truth to power.”
That was Abp. Elpidophoros speaking in Washington at a dinner on the occasion of the annual celebration of Greek Independence.
High-minded platitudes these are indeed, and yet not a word was spoken by the vaunted archbishop in defense of the innocent monks and seminarians of the largest and oldest monastery in Ukraine on the very day of their eviction! What an opportunity he was granted to support his fellow Orthodox! What a disappointment that he didn’t take it! The man is absolutely tone-deaf. But, of course we know why. Oh yes. Elpi stands in full support of Patriarch Bartholomew, the Grand Wizard of Istanbul, who offered and executed the “tomos of autocephaly” to the OCU. That is the aforementioned Orthodox Church in Ukraine, which is neither Orthodox – because it is an illegitimate organization, nor a Church – because there is only one Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The so-called metropolitan of the OCU is Epiphany Dumenko, a schismatic imposter whose very existence snarls in contempt for the true shepherd of Ukraine, Met. Onuphry of the UOC.
Epiphany and Bartholomew, arch-schismatics
O Bart, Bart, wherefore art thou Bart?! It is at crucial times like this that we look eastward toward the rising sun and to Istanbul, hoping for some utterance of consolation and spiritual encouragement from our Chief Shepherd. But, what endearing words do we hear from his excellency, the Holiest of Holies and most worthy Ecumenical Patriarch?
…The cacophonous sound of crickets on a summer’s night...
So far it appears that Patriarch Bartholomew has had nothing whatsoever to say about the eviction of the rightful residents of the Lavra of the Kievan Caves. At this point, his silence has become deafening. Will we hear from him soon? That’s doubtful. What thief would raise his hand and cry out, “I admit it. I’m the one who stole the money!”? Bart’s uncharacteristic reticence belies his complicity in the overthrow of the Lavra and the UOC in general. He’s the chief conspirator in this confounded intrigue. Church historians will hold him culpable for this bait-and-switch that has led to so much suffering. The schismatic patriarch will be held responsible for driving a wedge into Orthodox unity that may take decades, even centuries, to overcome.
On the occasion of the customary personal apologies that are apropos to the day, allow me to say that I have a sense of collective guilt as an American Orthodox believer. I am ashamed of the destruction that our federal government has brought down upon the Ukrainian people by provoking Russia into a shooting war with that country. I said as much to a Russian lady at our Forgiveness Sunday trapeza today. I hope that she and our Slavic brethren will be able to forgive us for embroiling them in this war so far from our own shores.
God only knows how this war will end, and certainly we will not be the only ones to blame for starting it, but I have an uneasy feeling that our proud American nation will to some extent be held accountable for the poisonous seeds that our government has sown in Ukraine and the lies that we have told about Russia for the last decade. “For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” Hosea 8:7
He nails it. Tucker Carlson’s opening monologue is one for journalism’s history books. In fact, his whole show is stellar.
It’s the first anniversary of the Russian incursion into Ukraine. Most Americans think that 2/24/22 was the start of the war in Ukraine, but that is only partly true. Tucker Carlson cuts through the propaganda that we Americans have been fed: