Part 2: A Poet's Expression of His Religion

Julius Caesar

"Art has to reveal to us ideas, formless spiritual essences. 
The supreme question about a work of art
is out of how deep a life does it spring?”

— James Joyce

 

Eh tu, Henri?

 
Thy master is a wise and valiant Roman...
— Julius Caesar

Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, the story of the betrayal of Caesar in Rome by Brutus, is the story of the betrayal of the Catholic Church in England by King Henry VIII.  This is a subversive play by a rebel writer who gave history his own first hand testimony about what English society experienced in England under the tyrant King Henry VIII.  This subversive play is passed down to us historically only thanks to the careful planning of those publishing the First Folio, almost ten years after Shakespeare’s death.

Shakespeare could not publish his plays in his lifetime.  So many of his plays are too subversive and too radical, he would have been charged with treason, jailed, and the evidence of his plays would have condemned him.  He needed plausible deniability.  He needed to wait until after his death to publish his plays.  While alive he needed to hide his messages in plain sight through his tremendously successful theater company.  While alive he needed the lines to fly through the air and not be set on a written page.  This way his meanings could remain elusive and fly past those untrained in interpreting writings by ear.  Julius Caesar is just one example of many plays that could not be published in his lifetime.

 

King Henry VIII

The details of Julius Caesar clearly point to King Henry’s audacious error in taking over the Church in England.  Shakespeare teaches Catholic play-goers to see the truth in the events of the betrayal of the church and the “official” cover up story told to the Roman populace.  Shakespeare paints the English monarch Brutus (Henry VIII) as a man caught up in the conspiracy of others, forced into a difficult position, but still accountable for his actions.

Shakespeare’s canon revisits themes like tyranny, power (its rightful use and abuse), liberty, revolutions, disguised truth tellers, plays within plays, spies, public lies and cover up stories, and more, because these are the things he dealt with in his life.  In disguising his messages according to Catholic patterns of thinking and communicating, he was able to share to the persecuted Catholics of Elizabethan and Jacobean England via a public forum the true story of our Catholic history in 16th century totalitarian England.  Shakespeare is “boots on the ground” first-hand account of the persecution and troubles faced by Catholics in England.

It really is beyond belief how good Shakespeare is in creating multiple echoes in a Catholic’s mind as we hear the play.  We will cover five examples of how Shakespeare accomplishes this in Julius Caesar, and thereby show how Julius Caesar is a warning to all oppressed peoples under totalitarian rulers.  Shakespeare is a teacher teaching us to see truth and not be fooled by the lies of political leaders striving for political power, who justify their actions with the claim they are doing the will of the people, or the will of God, or what’s good for the country.  Shakespeare teaches oppressed peoples to see truth.  Every story Shakespeare writes somehow reveals the kingdom of God, and compares the only two standards the world knows — the standard of Christ and the standard of the Devil.  Given this knowledge, we chose which standard we live by.  There is no middle way nor via media.

Shakespeare saw the need for truth in his time.  He realized the old faith was being forgotten and all vestiges removed from English history.  He saw Protestant propaganda publish false and revised accounts of history — sponsored, censored, and promoted by the English state.  He found ways of getting the true story to the people, using plays as a disguise for chronicling and expressing the Catholic experience of 16th century England.  We have a first-hand testimony of what happened in England thanks to Shakespeare, the greatest writer in the history of the English language, who is also the greatest poet, playwright, and storyteller.  Thanks be to God, he is also among the greatest historians and a marvelous subversive writer.  Shakespeare is an early incarnation of future great subversive writers like Frederick Douglass, who exposed the evil of his slave masters in 19th century America, and Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who exposed the evil of Soviet gulags in 20th century Russia.  Let’s now step through the five key warnings Shakespeare gives us regarding tyrants and revolutions in Julius Caesar.

In Act 1, Scene 1, we are clued from the start Julius Caesar is a religious allegory.  The two tradesmen are a carpenter and a mender of bad souls.  In these men we recognize the unity of Christ (our carpenter) and his Church (the mender of bad souls).  This is a key to unlock how to interpret the play and tells the Catholic audience to pay attention to two portraits in one story — a portrait of Christ and a portrait of his Church.  

The first lesson for us concerning tyranny comes at the end of the scene in the discussion of images.  Throughout his plays Shakespeare has the habit of providing brief insights into images, relics, tradition, anything that can convey a message and help people remember history.  As Catholics, images are a particularly important aspect of teaching our faith, and Shakespeare saw first hand how tyrants attack Catholic images.  The 16th century English tyrants destroyed the great artwork of previous generations, whether by burning or banning books, or whitewashing paintings, or destroying statues, tyrants understand the need to erase history in order to recondition our communal memory.

By eliminating or destroying images, the state assaults our senses.  Whether it is the pain of seeing the bare ruined choirs assaulted by the harsh weather of winter, or simply no longer seeing the beautiful stories painted in our churches, the state erased Catholic history.  Stripping our churches and altars was only the start.  As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.  There is significant power in images to communicate truth to people through stories.  Tyrants recognize images are also a powerful tool to perpetuate lies and false or revised history.  So, if they can cause us to forget who we are, they can then “reprogram” us according to their agenda through their own images.  The war against the church and good images will continue until the end of time.  “Woe to you earth and sea for the Devil has come down to you in great fury, for he knows he has but a short time”.

Tyrants will remove all good images of the past and replace these images with images that represent a revised history.  The new history will contain only partial truths.  The new history will ignore old traditions and tell us “this is the time of revolution and freedom from the shackles of our ancestors and their old ways”.  Tyrants rewrite history according to their own purpose.  They make us forget our fathers, or paint them as hideous men so we are ashamed of their sins rather than grateful for the good they’ve done.  But let us remember, when Christ separates the goats and sheep at the end of time, the goats are banished from his presence forever not for the sins they commit but for the good they did not do.  “Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me”.  When the goats ask “when did we see you hungry, thirsty, naked, in need, or in prison?”  Jesus responds, “Truly, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me”.  It’s not for our sins but for our lack of good works for which we are banished from Christ’s presence.  Christ recognized long before the science of habits was in vogue, the only hope to end bad habits is to replace them with good ones, or at least hope in something greater than your own habits, to hope in a love that has the power to conquer sin and death.

In the first scene of Julius Caesar Shakespeare shows the hatred by tyrants for godly images through the dialogue between the policing force (obvious villains to the play going audience who suffer under a totalitarian regime).  One says to the other “Go you down that way towards the Capitol, this way will I.  Disrobe the images, if you do find them decked with ceremonies”.  A moment later he clarifies,

"Let no images be hung with Caesar’s trophies. 
I’ll about, and drive away the vulgar from the streets.
So do you too, where you perceive them thick.
These growing feathers plucked from Caesar’s wing
Will make him fly an ordinary pitch,
Who else would soar above the view of men
And keep us all in servile fearfulness”.

This passage continues to confirm in this powerful first scene for a Catholic playgoer this is an allegory of the Catholic church in England.  The tradesman and discussion on images are hints, but these hints are sealed through the particular phrases used.  The villains are going to the Capitol.  In the Roman tragedies, Shakespeare’s villains refer to Rome as “the Capitol” which is a way of referencing London, the seat of power of England.  When villains refer to Rome with hatred, it is as “Rome”, which is a way of alluding to the seat of power of the Catholic church.  This creates a dual purpose.  For one, remember, censors had to approve plays.  Censors need to be satisfied.  One way Shakespeare could do this is by speaking and referring to Rome in disparaging terms, it is a way to “feed the beast”, so to speak.  Governmental censors get what they want, vitriolic hatred for Rome.  But Shakespeare places this hatred always on the lips of his villains.  To a captive audience wrapped up in the story, we recognize it is always the villains who hate Rome, just like life.  Shakespeare trains Catholics to realize the world will hate the church.  “Then the dragon became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus”.  

Shakespeare’s brief passage speaks further to Catholics.  The simple use of the word “vulgar” peaks the ear of English-speaking Catholics.  Our famous and ancient bible is called the “Vulgate”.  While vulgar might have a negative connotation to English speakers, to English-speaking Catholics it doesn’t.  We have fondness for these two syllables, and we freely associate ourselves with that term.  Shakespeare follows this word with the plan of the villains to pluck men from the church.  “These growing feathers plucked from Caesar’s wing will make him fly an ordinary pitch, who else would soar above the view of men and keep us all in servile fearfulness”.  The reason villains destroy images is because it plucks people from the church.  We become blind as we have no images to practice seeing.  We no longer see good images to help teach true faith.  Mankind’s separation from the true church makes Jesus appear ordinary, like any ancient honorable hero.  But the church is the divine gift of God to guide people to know Christ as Savior and thereby guide people in truth and away from evil.  The church is the organ by which we learn to see the divine, and the church is our shelter from the storm of the world’s hate and the way into Christ’s love.

Shakespeare evokes the image of a bird’s wing because it is a frequent and popular image from the psalms of David.  Catholics frequently hear this image in our liturgy as the psalms are read and often sung at every mass.  Catholics realize the church is the most liberating force on this planet.  That while Moses liberated Jewish slaves in Egypt, Christ liberates all slaves on earth.  The church is the divine gift to teach people heavenly ways.  So servile fearfulness comes from being away from the church, not sheltered within her love.  Those away from the true God might fear death, old age, demons, principalities or tyrants; those away from the church might fear hardship, suffering, or evil; those away from the church might fear the last judgement; but those who walk according to the standard of Christ need not fear for he conquered all this and more through his cross.  Jesus loves me and this I know, for the church has taught us so.  The church even went so far as to write scriptures and compile the bible to help the church spread the message of Christ’s love to the ends of the earth.

The church alone teaches both God’s redemption and restoration, and guides the sons and daughters of God through the process of rehabilitation, away from the soul sicknesses and devils that gather on our God-filled soul, and into the everlasting light and righteous ways of heaven.  The ways of heaven is the way of liberty.  While villains might say “the church is the opiate of the people” or “the vulgar serve in servile fearfulness”, Catholics realize these are just the typical and false lies spread by enemies of the church.  These are the lies spread by the enemies of true liberty.  These are the lies of tyrants.  For where the spirit of the lord is, there is freedom; not servile fearfulness.  Thanks be to God, he gives us the great historian Shakespeare to help us see truth and tyranny in his allegories.  He helps us be innocent like doves but also wise as serpents. 

Shakespeare further speaks to Catholics through the climatic scene of the play (Act 3, Scene 1).  Caesar slips into Latin for his dying words.  “Eh tu, Brute?  Then fall Caesar”.  The names Brutus and Judas fit so perfectly sonically, it is an artistic choice when Shakespeare has Caesar break into Latin at such a crucial moment in the play.  For a Catholic playgoer, we hear “Eh tu, Henri?  Then fall church”.  It’s hard to explain, because it is an art of interpreting writings and stories, and for the Catholic christian, when there is deviation to the pattern, it is not by accident but for a purpose.  Miracles are a sign, so when bushes burn but don’t burn up, they must be investigated.  The easy stretch is to say “And you, Brutus?  Then fall Caesar” and the Christian echo would have been to hear Judas betray Jesus, and in this betrayal, Christ fall for a greater purpose of saving souls from the tyranny of death.  But when Shakespeare has Caesar switch into Latin, the prayer language of our mass, we hear the added echo of the devastating betrayal of the Catholic church by King Henry VIII.  This is an “oh wow” moment as Shakespeare indelibly imprints his message on Catholic minds.  The line comes as a shock, we are not prepared for how deep of a religious allegory Julius Caesar is.  It is in fact a religious allegory and also a historical allegory of 16th century England, with the betrayal of Christ as a cover for the other story — the story of the betrayal of the Catholic church by King Henry.  

When the Protestant movement bursts into bloom in the 16th century, Henry was probably one of the last monarchs in the Catholic world that Catholics thought would betray the church.  He was a man who had been previously proclaimed a “defender of the faith” by the pope for his work in defending church sacraments.  He wrote a defense against Luther’s false teachings, and heroically defended church sacraments.  And so there was nothing to say, but the simple shock of “And yet, even you, Henry?  You?  A defender of the faith fall away?  Well, then fall church, fall”.

For a non-Catholic, whether Protestant or agnostic or whatever other belief system, it is difficult to understand the multilayered and multicultural aspect of Catholic culture.  But anyone who is the son of immigrants, or bilingual, or spends time as an exile or traveler or refugee, this person understands the shocking realization that everything that you took for granted while young — whether food, language, habits, customs — they are not shared by others.  This world is at once home and yet foreign.  As Catholics, we grow up with this dual awareness, this bicultural fluency of slipping in and out of the world and into heaven and back again.  More so, when we celebrate our liturgy, there may be a minimum of five languages we hear in any given hour.  From ancient languages (like Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, or Latin) to the modern vernacular of our readings and homilies and songs (whether English, Spanish, or any other living and local language).  

Catholic services are a symphony of sounds — musical, spoken, and instrumental.  Catholic liturgy is a constant reminder and awareness of our dual citizenship.  This opens our minds in a unique way, and with respect to language, we are used to hearing foreign sounds and syllables and filling in gaps as we grow in our understanding of what is said and sung.  The mass familiarizes Catholics with many modes and varied means of expression, including how to interpret unknown languages and yet still understand what is said.  The mass teaches us to understand communications from our spiritual brothers, and these communications span across cultures and centuries and yes, even languages.

As a result of our symphonic liturgy, Catholic writers, whether James Joyce or Shakespeare or GK Chesterton, have a strong tendency to play with sounds.  Catholic writers are not only best read and understood out loud, but most enjoyed.  And when Shakespeare slips into Latin at a crucial moment in his play, Shakespeare confirms for Catholics this is a much deeper historical allegory about England.  This allegory is confirmed after the betrayal of Caesar in two particular ways — the issue of reading the letter from the pulpit and the death of Brutus’s wife Portia.

Pulpit is a particularly Protestant word.  Catholics have altars, not pulpits.  The words and sounds we use represent our culture.  When new words or forms of music originate, or old ones change, this represents cultural changes which find expression through our languages and music.  Shakespeare grasps this, and uses a particularly important Protestant word to highlight the changes coming under Henry’s England.  

Now, please forgive my imprecision.  Catholics have pulpits.  I only mean to highlight, they are not important to our worship, and so the word has meaning but is rarely used.  Pulpits are as foreign to our worship as words like ‘sanctuary’ and ‘altar’ and ‘tabernacle’ are for many Protestants.  The rise of the use of this word in Julius Caesar represents a strong cultural shift in England.

The coverup of betraying the true church in England — the new history told to justify theft and death, the new reeducation of England — was spread by Protestant pulpits.  The tyrant Good Queen Bess made attendance to Anglican services mandatory for all English citizens because it was a way to recondition citizens and remove the ancient Catholic faith from England.  (As Americans, the warning for us is not with obligatory church attendance but with obligatory education.  When education is mandatory to a certain age, that is not a problem, that is simply setting a standard.  But when “government education” is mandatory, that is a sign that our slow slide into tyranny is being set in stone).

Immediately following Caesar’s death, when the leaders of the revolution and the betrayer of the church attempt to organize their story for the people, we see they seek to educate the people by preaching from a pulpit.  They also talk about reading a letter from Caesar, only they never get to reading the letter.  They only talk about reading it.

The reworking of English history was spread through publishing and preaching by people of the new “Anglican Church”.  One contemporary of Shakespeare, his distant cousin Saint Robert Southwell, a gifted and popular poet as well as a Jesuit and persecuted priest, exhorted fellow 16th century English Catholics to stay away from the synagogue of Satan — his codename for the Anglican Church.  He exhorted them at length in his letters.  An Epistle of Comfort was written while imprisoned in a tower, tortured by the state, and waiting to be executed for the heinous treason of being a Jesuit priest.  He was dedicated to teaching the truth about Jesus Christ and his true church in tyrannical England, and for this he was sentenced to die a horrible death by the English state.  At the age of thirty-three, Southwell died a martyr for his beloved church, laying down his life for he knew “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord”.  At thirty-three, Southwell was granted eternal rest from his earthly labors showing greatness comes not in a long life but a good life.  Southwell wrote about those who attend Anglican services,

“They run wittingly to their own ruin, and seem rather to embrace a thing before desired, than to yield to an occasion that they could have avoided.  And did not your feet stumble, your eyes grow dim, your hearts quake, and your bodies tremble, when you came into the polluted synagogue?  Could the servant of Christ abide in that place?  Could he renounce Christ, and do homage to his enemy, whom he had renounced in baptism?  Could you come hither, to offer your prayers unto God?  And could Catholic ears sustain, without glowing, the outrage, reproach, and railing speeches uttered against our true mother, the Catholic Church?  Will you seek to shelter yourselves under the pretext, that you are in mind Catholics, and that you come to church only to obey the law?  Will you say that going to church is not a spiritual, but a civil action?  Can any thing be more against all sense and reason, seeing that it is the very principal sign of spiritual duty to be present at that, whereby religion is chiefly professed; especially when his presence is commanded by a law, the known meaning whereof is to force men to the profession of a false belief?  I omit the scandal which you give, in confirming the obstinacy of misbelievers; in weakening and overthrowing the faith of the faint-hearted and wavering.  I omit what advantage you give to the enemies of the Church, to triumph over her as overcome, and to boast of you, if not as children or voluntaries, at least as of pressed men, and slaves of their synagogues.  I omit the danger of infection, by their contagious speeches, that creep and corrode like a canker.  To neglect and not consider this, is willful blindness; to consider and not fear it, is a tempting of God, and the greatest presumption; to fear and not to avoid it, is perverse obstinacy, and impiety towards your own souls.”  

What Southwell spoke of directly and only to a small audience, Shakespeare hid in allegory and gave to the masses.  Many English Catholics of the time saw what was happening.  The Anglican Church was a tool of the state and during the Protestant movement was attempting to reeducate people.  One way they did this was by promising to read a letter.  This was a subtle dig against Protestants.  One difference between Catholic worship and many Protestant gatherings is the public proclamation of scripture.  Protestants preach, but they rarely read divine scripture publicly.  If they do, it is often in broken up passages used as “proof texts” for their preaching.  But Satan himself isn’t afraid of to quote scripture or the commands of our Lord, the devil simply desires for us to interpret them falsely.  The father of lies hates the fullness of truth.  Satan best attacks truth by isolating people and especially communities.  Without the communion of saints or shared history, congregations go further and further from the fullness of truth.

There are many sincere followers of Christ who are not Catholic.  My desire is not to belittle sincere people of Christian faith, but my desire is to point out the true history of the Protestant movement in England and the beginnings of the Anglican Church.  Otherwise, when Anglicans say innocently and in good faith, “we are Anglo-catholics”, they won’t understand why true Catholics recoil at this statement.  These people today are born into a system that has perpetuated a false history.  For those of us aware of the true history, we naturally recoil when Anglicans say “we are Anglo-catholics” because we know what happened to Catholics in England during the start of the Anglican Church.

Common among some Protestants, they is a lack of awareness about church history.  Often Protestants have only ever heard one side of the story, the Protestant side.  But just like families who do not pass down record of their family sins suffer, Protestant congregations similarly suffer for not understanding church history, especially the time between the death of the last apostles in the first century until the protestant movement in the fifteenth.  For example, in some families maybe alcoholism and suicide are struggles while adultery is not.  In these families, children suffer not knowing what sins they must be on heightened guard against.  If alcoholism or suicide affected their fathers and mothers, it will likely affect their sons and daughters unless the family deals honestly with their inherited sinful tendencies.  Similarly, for Protestants, what starts with division and theft and lies is doomed.  So the Anglican Church must either reinvent its history to survive or slowly fall away and perish.  Or, best of all, repent of error and come into full communion with the true Catholic church.  But as long as Anglicans call themselves “Anglo-catholics”, they are living in a lie.  English laws still enforce this Anglican separation from the Catholic church.  English monarchs are forbidden by law to marry Catholics, this dissuades repentance from past errors and full Catholic communion.

Either way, whether reinventing history or slowly dying, many English people of the 16th century fell away from the fullness of divine truth.  The Anglican Church is a halfway house.  For those falling away from genuine Catholic faith, it’s a halfway house to atheism or even the demonic.  For those moving towards true Catholic faith, it’s a halfway house to the divine.  And if God saw fit to spread a halfway house type of Christian faith throughout the world by the rise of the English Empire in the 17th and following centuries, then so be it.  So be it, we will still say “God works in mysterious ways”.  But when the English world in particular and the whole world in general ails, and its only solutions are a return to the fullness of truth, we Catholics cannot be quiet.  For our church is a divine gift of God to save souls from perishing.  We must speak.  Southwell or Shakespeare suffered for speaking truth while living under a totalitarian government.  Heroic Catholics did not think martyrdom as something to be avoided, and like Daniel and his friends, willingly accepted the punishment of unjust earthly laws in favor of obedience to God’s law.

Catholics stress the importance of the public reading of the scripture because our good shepherds realize it is the best way to give truth to the world.  Just give it directly to the people.  The more people who hear truth, the better to preserve truth for future generations.  Protestants, on the other hand, are free to protest the teachings and traditions of the Catholic church.  They can chose to simply preach and not read scripture publicly.  But they do so to their own suffering.  The danger is many Protestants have scriptures filtered through the eyes of one person or a select few, their preachers, and not the whole church.  The preacher picks and chooses if and what to preach, rather than the whole Church choosing what is read.  Because the Catholic church organizes the readings, the priest or deacon is forced to address difficult topics.  They do not have the freedom to pick or chose what scripture is proclaimed publicly.  They therefore cannot preach according to their idle fancies or fleshly understanding.  Many Protestants fail to realize they spend long amounts of time in worship hearing the preaching of a pastor’s personal opinions.  And many Protestants don’t know Catholics spend long amounts of time in worship hearing the word of God directly.  This difference between Catholic and Protestant worship slowly diminish divine revelation and divine truth in Protestant congregations.  Their interaction with the Word of God is so thoroughly mixed with human understanding diluting rather than preserving divine revelation.  The end result is in Protestant communities truth becomes relative to personal opinion and not relative to an objective standard (that is, God).  The danger for the Catholic church is to be infected with this example (and ultimately their heresy) because so many of our friends are trapped into systems short of the fullness of divine truth.  If you only ever suckle at your pastor’s teat, you ingest their insights, errors, and biases.  At some point, you must learn to eat directly the word of God.  “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you”.  

The public reading of the word of God is a way to protect divine truth.  When many eyes, eyes across seas and centuries, interpret the text in the same manner, it is a safeguard to preserve divine truth and pass along the testimony of the prophets and apostles about our Lord Jesus Christ.  So when Jesus says “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you”, rather than having to symbolically interpret this passage based on shallow Protestant biases and weak logic and poor interpretation of sacred writings, we need only look to the consistent teaching of our mother church across seas and centuries.  From the beginning, the church has said this passage is literal, we must eat his flesh and drink his blood, that it is our medicine of immortality.  From the beginning, the church has said consuming our savior’s flesh is a divine command and we celebrate this divine command every mass.  From the beginning, the church has said consuming our savior’s blood is a mystery of faith.  We will not darken divine revelation with blind human understanding.  Instead, we will allow God to illumine our minds to understand divinely revealed truth.  While Protestants can protest truth, Catholics cannot.  We can only learn, discover, defend, and pass along truth.  We spend our lives attempting to align to the fullness of truth.  Only in community (and not in isolation!) is divine truth best understood.  Peter, our first pope and a composer of Sacred Scripture, concerned with the rise of false teachers, warns our Church in holy scripture, “know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation”.

For a Catholic, the Protestant service is simply too much one person’s opinion, and too little objective and divine truth.  Protestant service is a filter of scripture through the eyes of a select few rather than the teaching of the flock of God through the eyes of all her saints.  The Protestant service is tyranny by minority while the Catholic mass is a communion of saints.  In Protestant tyranny, the Protestant is constantly told what to think and believe, not how to think or believe.  But this is a danger not only for Protestants, but all religions, including Catholic faith.  Tyranny is awaiting to enslave any and all communities.  But our Protestant brothers are particularly prone to this illness.  One small example of Protestant tyranny, but important to Catholics, is Protestant counties or even at time nations, periodically try and pass laws prohibiting alcohol, even though Christ’s first miracle was turning water into wine so that a party might last longer.  The lack of the fullness of divine truth in Protestant congregations is why it is impossible for saints to leave the Catholic church and so enticing for future saints to enter her loving arms.  Where else would saints go?  For only the Catholic church has the fullness of divine truth revealed by God in Christ Jesus.

Shakespeare warns Catholics of Protestant errors throughout Julius Caesar.  Immediately after the betrayal of Caesar, the leaders have to get their “official” story out there.  First the state destroyed the churches and her great artwork, the state ruined the memory of England and thereby darkened truth.  Next, through mandatory attendance of English citizens in Anglican services, the state was able to darken the eyes of its citizens and dim their wits and teach them to see anew.  Only, the state teaches lies.  Rather than see truth, and honor the ancient faith that built English society, English people were taught to hate the old faith and their great heritage.  This hatred was so ingrained that for hundreds of years laws were passed and upheld in England and many of her colonies not allowing Catholics to serve in public office.  Catholics were framed as the enemy of the English Empire, rather than rightfully acknowledged as a key influence of England’s greatness.

Let us not be fooled, the state always has a religion.  Whether it is atheist or Anglican, the state preaches ideologies.  And whether communist countries or Elizabethan England, totalitarian states force citizens to agree with their ideologies.  And unless the state is purged of evil, a diagnosis which can only be made in the light of Christ through his church, the state will perish.  Jews and Christians are the only everlasting people.  They are the only ones entrusted with divine revelation and the responsibility of passing it fully.  Hence, empires rise and fall in their presence, and though these empires hate and persecute Jews and Christians, they are the only people who when sent to the slaughter say amidst their last breath, “You accursed fiend, you are depriving us of this present life, but the King of the universe will raise us up to live again forever because we are dying for his laws.  Our brothers, after enduring brief pain, have drunk of never-failing life under the covenant of God”.  For Christ tells those who die to the world and live to him, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live; and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die”.  

Unfortunately, all of King Henry’s many wives died.  And this is another commentary for Catholics in Shakespeare’s great allegory — the beloved wife of Brutus mysteriously dies.  The Catholic point of view is we cannot judge a person, but we should judge the fruit of a tree.  If Henry was sincere in his worries about his marriage and the influence of the Church upon it, there would be evidence of that sincerity.  Maybe he’d be a family man with his second wife, maybe he’d pass just laws in England, maybe the church would be treated with honor rather than slandered and stolen from.  But instead, churches were desecrated, lands stolen, artwork pillaged, images destroyed, unjust laws passed persecuting all nonconformists to the state religion, and ultimately, King Henry had six wives!  This was so comical for the English community that rhymes and songs were invented to keep the story straight.  Songs where sung bemoaning the horrible fate that awaited King Henry’s many wives and the dire circumstances they all faced.  “King Henry VIII, to six wives he was wedded — one died, one survived, two divorced, and two beheaded”.  Shakespeare himself threw in his two cents, “Then like a Roman bear the truth I tell, for certain she is dead, and by strange manner”.

Henry’s example is not the picture of Christian marriage.  Christ himself said to his followers that divorce was granted in the law of Moses for our hardness of heart, and told them a story about the beginning, a story from the first book of Moses about the original design of the world’s Designer.  Jesus told his followers “let not man separate what God unites in one flesh”.  When his followers asked “Impossible!  How can this be?” Christ responds, “What is impossible with man is possible with God”.  Because Christ died on the cross for us, men can die to their own desires and live for their wives and families.  But Henry had his wives die for him.  In Christ, marriage can again be restored to our Creator’s original intentions, that original intention is for man to give his life for his wife.  Marriage is not meant to be easy, it is meant to be good.  Only by dying to ourselves and living for another can we do good.  Marriage is a picture of a much greater reality, the reality of Christ and his beloved bride.  King Henry severely mars that picture.

In summary, between (1) the dialogue on images, (2) particular Catholic phrases and allusions popular in our psalms, (3) a slip into Latin language in the central moment of the play, (4) a Protestant phrase like ‘pulpit’ and the promise of reading a letter but never actually reading the letter, and finally, (5) the death of Brutus’s beloved wife, Shakespeare has taught Catholics to see the Protestant movement under King Henry VIII for what it was — the death of the divine church in England.

In Shakespeare’s time, there was no separation of church and state.  The tyrant King Henry and his tyrannical daughter Queen Elizabeth used the state to take over the church.  They violated the rights of the Catholic church in England, stole her lands, desecrated her images, destroyed her statues, retold her history, ruined her buildings, fined her people, spied on them, told lies about her, and tortured and killed her priests.  The state took over the church and became a great tyrant over all people.  The state also demanded all people belong to their own State church.  Any and all nonconformists suffered for any disobedience to the state’s wishes.  Shakespeare teaches us to see the true story and tyranny in 16th century England thanks to his allegories and plays.

People are right when they believe there are codes and ciphers in Shakespeare’s plays.  Only, unless they recognize they are Catholic codes and Catholic ciphers, they miss the simple way to interpret the meaning and messages behind all his plays.  And rather than coherent understanding of his artistic choices, they fumble not only understanding these choices, but ultimately the meaning of his plays.  These plays are from a rebel writer proclaiming truth to the world.  

Shakespeare uses Catholic codes and Catholic ciphers and tells the true story of 16th century England so that we can have the true testimony of what happened, and not the historical revisions of the Protestant propaganda which aimed to justify their split from the one, true, holy, Catholic church and justify the plunder of her people and wealth.  The details of Shakespeare’s plays align over and over to provide the Catholic version of events, disguised wonderfully to evade the state’s Protestant censors and reach the ears of the playing going masses who were denied the right to go to Catholic mass.  The people who were banned from celebrating mass took truth to the masses via the marketplace.  Shakespeare is more than just a great poet or playwright or historian, he is the world’s greatest rebel writer.  He proved this in each of his many plays.

Eh tu, Henri?  Then fall Church.  Fall, O beautiful, holy, wonderful, Catholic church in England.  

 

Separation of Powers

Shakespeare did a great job at passing along truth about tyrants to future generations through Julius Caesar.  Let us build on his example and dive deeper into the wisdom of the church to help all countries learn from the experience of 16th century England.  

In Julius Caesar, Brutus the betrayer is given a very sympathetic portrayal by Shakespeare.  Seen through Shakespeare’s eyes, Shakespeare’s wonderfully sympathetic eyes — for Shakespeare has great compassion for villains and often creates moving portraits — we see Brutus as a lamentable character.  Like King Henry VIII, there is much to like about Brutus, much redeemable in Christ, but Brutus is caught in a current leading him away from truth.  He is caught up in a revolution, and might not realize he is doing the work of the devil.  The allegory of Julius Caesar brings up interesting insights on the separation of powers and what it means to be leaders in society.  Let us consider for a moment the story of King David, a man proclaimed by Jews and Christians and the sole practitioners of divine religion as a “king after God’s own heart”.  

King David provides a powerful counterpoint to King Henry VIII, and helps us identify ways to not fall in the same trap as King Henry did.  Surprising to many, much like King Henry VIII, David also took a wife in adultery and killed his close friend — actions similar to, but not as extreme as, King Henry.  And yet, David is proclaimed in the scriptures as a “man after God’s own heart”.  How is this so?

Because in the heavenly kingdom, the way we recover from errors far outweighs the errors we commit.  David received divine justice and punishment for violations against his Lord and fellow men, but more than anyone else in history, David understands that “if Yahweh should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?  With the God of Israel there is forgiveness”.  So today we freely profess to one another, “I confess to you my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I’ve done and what I’ve failed to do, therefore I ask you to pray for me to the Lord our God”.

We are in a journey towards perfection, and this journey does not excuse sin, but it does recognize we are not perfect like Christ.  We are called to be perfect.  For this to happen, we need to be forgiven.  Blessed is the man whose sin is not counted against him.  Hence, we give ourselves over to our Lord and his church to be perfected.  Even in our errors God can do incredible things.  Jesus is born through the line sprouted from David’s adulterous and murderous affair.  And the scriptures do not hide his iniquities, but lay them out in the open for all to see.  

Saint Matthew, a biographer of Jesus and writer of the first gospel, in tracing the messianic genealogy, has the audacity to be sincere in truth and writes when it comes to David and his son Solomon, “David became the father of Solomon, whose mother was the wife of Uriah”.  See?  The wife of Uriah and not David!  Matthew called it like it was.  Even though David later married Bathsheba, she was someone else’s wife when he stole her.  What was done in the dark was proclaimed forever in the light of Christ.  

But more important than this gospel truth making a memorial of David’s error, is what we sing from the psalms of David.  David composed a song reflecting on his terrible sin,

“Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love;
In your abundant compassion blot your my transgressions.
Thoroughly wash away my guilt, and from my sin cleanse me.
For I know my transgressions, my sin, is always before me.
Against you, you alone have I sinned; I have down what is evil in your eyes
So that you are just in your word and without reproach in our judgment.
Behold, I was born in guilt, in sin my mother conceived me.
Behold, you desire true sincerity; and secretly you teach me wisdom.
Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
You will let me hear gladness and joy; the bones you have crushed will rejoice”.

We will not mention the great doctrine of original sin that this scripture highlights, let us focus instead on how does King David come to this point of repentance and asking forgiveness?  What led him to acknowledge his error?  What was it that allowed David to be willing to express regret, be remorseful, and seek to change his ways?  Because this is what makes David a man after the divine’s heart.  King Henry was not like King David.  King Henry, rather than express sincere regret, only continues into darker and darker deeds.  He kills his friends, he has his wives destroyed, he steals from his subjects and citizens, and these dark deeds are carried on by his daughter, Queen Elizabeth.  Henry persists in his many errors.  Many who were close to him were killed by his henchman, and many souls suffered in England and beyond.  The wake of King Henry’s life is death and destruction, while the wake of King David’s life is a direct line to Christ, the light of the world, the divine life.

How can we protect ourselves from Henry’s error and be more like David?  Through understanding what David understood, the importance of what we commonly call today the separation of powers.  In the ancient kingdom of Israel, under good kings, there were three important public offices — kings, priests, and prophets.  The kings govern and ensure society is healthy and doing good with respect to our fellow man.  The priests make people right with God, they ensure we know forgiveness, that we act mercifully and do justice.  The prophets proclaim truth.  They proclaim divine edicts and laws and help correct our errors by proclaiming heavenly warnings.

In American society, this is the root behind our idea on the three branches of government — the executive (presidents, governors, and mayors are king-like), the judicial (lawyers and judges are priest-like), and the legislative (representatives and lawmakers are prophet-like).  In a healthy society, whether ancient Israel or modern America, each branch understands their role and respects the roles of the other branches.  In our country, our founding fathers were particularly concerned in the wake of English history with minimizing tyrants.  Two ways they attempted to minimize future tyrants in America was (1) by limiting our presidents to a maximum of two four-year terms and (2) by guaranteeing certain civil liberties to all Americans like the freedom to worship God as we please and the freedom of speech to proclaim what we believe.  Our people are given the right to worship and our prophets are given the right to proclaim truth.

The prophetic role is fundamentally important for a healthy society.  Truth must be free to be proclaimed, whether through the media or the church or those close to rulers, there needs to be a voice that is willing and able to speak truth to the culture.  When our consciences are quiet and drowned by our sins, sometimes the only voice we hear must come from the outside.  We are meant to live in community (like the trinity) and community is a protection of truth.

In David’s kingdom, the prophet Nathan had his ear and free access to proclaim truth.  One of David’s strengths was his ability to honor, listen, and respect the priests and prophets of his nation.  In the instance of his murderous affair, Nathan told a story to David.  With divine wisdom, he realized he needed to tell a story.  David’s heart was so hardened by his dark deeds, that David would not hear clear words of truth but instead needed to be wrapped into and caught up in a story to see truth.  Nathan touched David’s heart by telling a story about a beloved sheep and his good shepherd.  (David was a shepherd as a boy and always kept a soft spot in his heart for shepherds).

Nathan said, “Tell me how you judge this case.  In a certain town there are two men, one rich, the other poor.  The rich man had flocks and herds in great numbers.  But the poor man had nothing at all except one little ewe lamb that he had bought.  He nourished her, and she grew up with him and his children.  Of what little he had she ate; from his own cup she drank; in his bosom she slept; she was like a daughter to him.  Now, a visitor came to the rich man, but he spared his own flocks and herds to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him.  He took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared it for the visitor who had come to him”.

David boiled with anger and didn’t realize his anger condemned himself.  He pronounced judgement by oath, “As Yahweh lives, the man who has done this deserves death!  He shall make fourfold restitution for the lamb because he has done this and was unsparing”.  In a heart wrenching moment, Nathan dropped the disguise and proclaimed “That man is you!”

How can you repay someone fourfold for taking their life?  The villains in Shakespeare’s stories might propose to have four children by their widowed wife, replacing four lives for one life.  But the heroes stop short of taking life.  There is no sufficient repayment for unjustly taking someone’s life.  Life is sacred.  Life is holy.  Life is a gift from God.  Who is man to take away such a gift through jealousy, anger, or any other sin?

David’s reaction to his errors, not the fact that he committed errors, is what makes him a man after God’s own heart.  He confesses his sin, he weeps, he repents, he seeks to make things right.  But he can’t restore Uriah to life, that belongs to our Maker alone.  God severely disciplines David and David accepts the divine punishment as well as the prophet’s rebuke.  David did wrong, and he accepts the consequences.  

Many years later, when David’s own son takes the kingdom in a coup, he does not stay and fight but recognizes this may be the just punishment from God for the sins he’s committed.  (It wasn’t, God restores David as king).  But David is willing to walk away from the kingdom given to him by God rather than take his son’s life, so David flees with his small band of followers.  David is not willing to kill for what is the Creator’s, “For our Lord can give and he can take away, but blessed be the name of the Lord”.  Remarkably, even in this betrayal, Israelite history points to Christ.

For David has two sons who become king.  The first son and king, the leader of the coup, Absalom (‘father of peace’) dies hanging on a tree.  He is entangled by his long hair and while hung from a tree soldiers pierce his side and stab him and kill him.  The second son, Solomon (‘perfect peace’), is the rightful king and son of David.  Solomon builds the temple of God and reigns for many years.

When Jesus comes on the scene, a son of David, he says “destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up”.  No one recognized Jesus was the long-ago promised son of David who would be proclaimed king, die on a tree, raise the temple on the third day, live forever, and whose kingdom would have no end.  At the time, the people were perplexed.  Jesus sayings, like the scriptures, are often time-released capsules that only make sense later.  In this particular case, Jesus had to die on the tree of life in order for us to have perfect peace with our heavenly Father and live eternally.  More so, he shed his blood so his followers could be consecrated and become the temple of his body.  When Jesus rose from the dead three days later, the temple of his body was raised.  The temple has been growing ever since by adding living stones to our cornerstone.  Any who believe in Jesus can be united to his everlasting temple.  Faith in Christ is not in haste.  By uniting with Christ, we learn how to walk in perfect peace.  Amazingly, the deeds done by David and his sons were a foreshadow of our heavenly Father’s firstborn son Jesus, the true son of David.

Remember Good Friday, did not great Jesus bleed for justice sake?

 

Separation of Church and State

The issue of separation of powers was unique in the Kingdom of Israel because it was a theocratic kingdom.  Ancient Israel was God’s earthly kingdom.  But the Kingdom of Christ is God’s heavenly kingdom.  And though there is a marriage between heaven and earth, it is not fully consummated yet.  In this kind of world, in the midst of birth pains groaning for eternal life, what is the role of the church?  How is the kingdom of heaven to relate and interact with the kingdoms of this earth?  In other words, what is the role between church and state for modern times?  Let us revisit church history to understand the Catholic stance.

For two thousand years the Catholic church has been preaching the truth regarding the need for separation between church and state.  You say “impossible”?  I say we should take a look at her actions over the last two thousand years.  Works speak louder than words, but still, let us use words to highlight Catholic works.

From the beginning, our mother church has been close to power and yet removed.  Christ told Peter in Caesarea Philippi (notice the name Caesar in the city name?) “you are Cephas and upon Cephas I will build my church”.  This city is on the outskirts of Israel, the home of the people of God, and the seat of his divine revelation.  Christ knows that a prophet must perish in Jerusalem, and so he begins his journey to the cross after making this statement of Peter’s role in his kingdom.  Amazingly, Jesus makes this everlasting proclamation about his church outside Jewish boundaries.  This was a Gentile city.  This is the pivotal proclamation of Peter’s public office and is found in three of the four gospels (John the fourth gospel makes this proclamation in a different while yet complementary manner, and equally powerful, to be discussed in a later chapter).  

Let us remember, the first time church and state unite, they do so to make Jesus hang.  Judas, one of the twelve apostles, betrays Jesus and hands him over with a kiss to religious authorities.  But the religious priests do not have authority to take human life.  They must hand over their spotless lamb to be crucified by the state.  Even though Jesus is sentenced to die while in Jerusalem, he’s taken outside the city (and seat of Jewish power) to die on his cross on Calvary.  While on the cross, our last Adam asks his beloved disciple to “behold his mother”, guiding the church to see our new eve, Mary.  She birthed our Word in her womb so that the church could birth the Word in our hearts and write down his words on parchments and scrolls.  

After the last Adam rises from the dead, his followers gather in Jerusalem to await the promise of his holy spirit.  It occurs on the day of pentecost.  While Jews gathered in the temple in Jerusalem to celebrate the giving of the divine law to Moses, the Messianic Jews were gathered in an upper room, not far from the temple, where they received the promised holy spirit.  Again, they were near but not among those who had power in Israel.  

Worldly power begged for our Christ to be crucified.  Worldly power is always read to kill others and have others die for them so that they might have life.  They are like vampires feeding on the lifeblood of others.  Christ’s power is that he willingly dies so that others may have true and abundant life.  His sprinkled blood saves us from the angel of eternal death.  Our life is in Christ.

From the beginning, our mother church was close to power, yet rejected, and on the outskirts, a threat to worldly power and so the church must be killed, minimized, cast aside, and removed.  The true church is always revolutionary, pricking the consciences of worldly rulers because she proclaims the words of our savior “the truth shall set you free”.  She says to all, “do good and hate evil, walk humbly with our Lord”.  She honors the poor, “blessed is the poor in spirit for yours is the kingdom of God”.  She honors the dignity of all mankind, for she repeats what the Creator said “let us make man in our image, both male and female”.  And she reminds the rich “you cannot serve God and mammon” as well as “the love of money is the root of all evil”.  Those in power often hate her.  Yet the prophets and apostles have testified through the church for thousands of years.  Hence, her prophets and apostles are stoned and martyred and killed for their obedience to the word of God and the preaching of truth to a culture going astray.  The world hates truth.  It loves basking in lies, in living under half-truths, and fights and claws and kills any who would desire to hold to the fullness of truth or cling to living faith.

But when the church was born in Jerusalem (or just outside it), the world power at the time was Rome.  Shortly thereafter we see Peter (Greek version of the Aramaic ‘Cephas’) set up base operations in Rome.  The office of Peter relocated from Jerusalem to Rome to be near the seat of worldly power (and not the old religious authority).  Peter’s successors remained there for centuries, millennia actually, for the Pope is still in Rome.  There have arisen threats to the papacy in Rome over these last two thousand years, but the seat of Peter still remains in Rome.  Let us consider one particular dispute which arose in the 4th century.  This dispute highlights the Catholic stance on the separation of church and state.

In the 4th century, the capital of the Roman Empire was moved from Rome to Constantinople.  At the time, the church was largely divided into two major groups, the Eastern churches (largely Greek speaking, with ties to the original twelve apostles) and the Western churches (largely Latin speaking, also with ties to the original twelve apostles).  Only, in the fourth century, there were no apostles.  The successors to the apostles were called bishops.  Bishops are the leaders of the church, with the Bishop of Rome being the “Bishop of Bishops”.  He had the authoritative and decisive voice in all disputes among bishops.  He is the head of the church on earth (Christ is head of the church in heaven).  The Eastern churches believed the bishop of Bishops should thereafter have been the bishop of Constantinople, while the Western churches believed he remained in Rome.  So far removed from this controversy (more than fifteen hundred years), how are we to know what is right?  Should the head of the church be in Constantinople or in Rome?

 The Eastern churches maintained the head bishop should move to be near the worldly and secular power.  The bishop should be in Constantinople with the Emperor.  The Western church maintained that the world power shifting its capital and headquarters does not mean the church does.  How are we to make sense of the situation?  Why is something that was natural in the first century not repeated in the fourth?  This is what it means to be part of a living church.  We are not enslaved by precedents but are taught to walk humbly with our Maker, it is a living faith.  And so what was right in the past may not be right for the present.  Precedent helps, but can’t be used as a plug and play formula for relationship with our Maker.

Just because a precedent was set three centuries earlier — go near to the seat of worldly power — did not mean it was the right decision in all future similar circumstances.  The pope’s decision was right for the time and circumstances of the first century.  But those circumstances changed.  The church went from a small band of persecuted revolutionaries to leavening the whole empire.  By the fourth century, after suffering numerous persecutions, the empire’s population was roughly one half christian.  Roughly thirty of the sixty million people confessed “Christ is Lord”, including the Caesar.  Christian faith went from rural, backwater religion to being the official religion of the empire.  Should not the official religion of the empire have its head offices next to the emperor?  If Constantine builds Constantinople and settles there, should not the Bishop there have authority over the church like Constantine has authority over the empire?  It makes sense, it satisfies precedent.  But the church is a living voice, not slave to precedent, and what is right in the first century is not necessarily right in the fourth century.  A dead religion is enslaved to precedents, but not a living and active faith with a living voice.  The living voice said “Nope, Pope remains in Rome.  The seat with the kingdom keys is seated still in Italy and not in Turkey.  Rome is home”.

Was this decision right?  Did the church truly hear the voice of our Lord?  Well, let us judge by what we know of history.  You shall know the tree by its fruit.  What happened to the churches in the aftermath of the Emperor’s move away from Rome?  We have fifteen hundred years to judge the evidence.

Key point number one — the Eastern churches (now referred to as Orthodox churches) which did not stay under the authority of the pope became state churches, much like the Church in England.  Whether Russian Orthodox or Greek Orthodox or any other kind of Orthodox, those too close to governmental power became absorbed by the government and did not retain the independent voice of the church.  In contrast, the Catholic church is still centered in Rome and spread across the globe in many countries, retaining unity across many cultures.  The Catholic church is the universal church, and though the Orthodox churches retain the fundamentals of faith thanks to their apostolic and heroic preservation of the faith, they struggle to influence beyond their own culture or nation.  What do I mean?

The Eastern churches became organized into the nations that rose in their jurisdiction.  Our Orthodox brothers are now known as Russian Orthodox or Greek Orthodox or Armenian Orthodox.  They are known according to their country.  On the other hand, the Catholic church is the universal church.  And while there are Irish, French, Spanish, Italian and many other Catholics, but they are all under the authority of the Bishop of Rome.  They are not simply a loose community of Catholics but a united whole.  They are Roman Catholic first, and not Irish Catholic or Italian Catholic or American Catholic.

This is a point of evidence, it might not be enough to determine whether the church heard right the voice of her beloved, so let us consider, what happened when the the USA was settled?  The USA is a good example because the Constitution grants the freedom to worship God as our consciences dictate.  So, as refugees fled England, Spain, Italy, Russia, Greece, and many other countries, what happened to the church in America?  This is key point number two.

In comparing Orthodox and Catholic churches in America, the Catholic church assimilated better into the new culture.  The Orthodox churches retain their cultural origin points, and rather than becoming American Orthodox, instead became various versions of their original countries.  Moreover, they have weak associations rather than robust unity.  In contrast, the Catholics, irrespective of their country or culture of origin, became American Catholics by the second generation.  This certainly caused issues, when a bunch of Germans dislike a Spanish priest for simply being Spanish, but by and large the bishops encouraged the immigrants to hold to their cultural traditions but become American Catholics.  And if they didn’t, their children sure did.  And there were culture clashes within families.  For example, Italians and Irish Catholics sometimes disagreed whether a funeral is a time of mourning for the passing of a beloved one or a time of celebration for their beloved passing through death’s door.  Either way, over time these differences became a sign of the wonderful diversity and unity found in the one, holy, Catholic church, a unity that spans across cultures and countries and centuries as one communion of saints.  Orthodox churches lack the profound unity for they do not have the same earthly head, but many earthly heads.  Christendom suffers while we remain divided.  But our heavenly Father always works in mysterious ways.  All we can do is seek to know the truth, for he shall set you free.

In the fourth century, the Catholic church made its stance clear, if only for hardness of heart, there needs be a separation of church and state.  The world will always try and take over the church.  This way the world would not need to acknowledge sin and can perpetuate falsehood freely.  The church is a constant reminder of the need to seek the Lord’s forgiveness and the one who says “I am the truth, the way, and the life”.

Unfortunately, King Henry VIII, ignored the great wisdom of the church and broke with her and created a new divide in Christendom, and destroyed the divine church in England.  England became a totalitarian state and proclaimed itself a “Christian nation”.  And while there can be Muslim nation, there can never be a Christian nation.  Let us understand why this is so.   

There cannot be Christian nations, at best, there can only be nations founded on Judeo-Christian values.  Christian faith is a personal relationship with Jesus.  This faith leads us to a community and our heavenly kingdom, and in doing so, makes us ambassadors of heaven to earthly kingdoms.  Some of our ambassadors might be presidents and kings and mayors and governors and doctors and janitors and gardeners and artists, or any trade or line of work, but the moment people in power force their beliefs on others, this is not Christian faith.  Muslims can force belief.  Christians cannot.  Christians can only teach faith, not force faith.  When Christ says “I am the truth”, Christians recognize that we can only tell people about truth, but we cannot force them to believe truth.  Judeo-Christian values hold faith is personal, it must be believed by the individual person.  Lot believed the angel and didn’t look back and so he lived; his wife didn’t believe the angel and looked back and she perished.  Josiah was a great king, none arose before or after him dedicated to the law of Moses like he was; and yet his son did what evil in the Creator’s sight.  Faith in our creator can be taught and passed along, but it can never be forced.  Each person, each generation, must learn the faith again.  At best, our father can pass along the faith.  At best, we can only teach others and testify to the goodness of our Creator and our Christ, but we can never force someone to believe.  Only Christ healed the blind so that they may see.  Only the spirit gives sight to the blind today.

Hence, Christians can and should hold public offices.  They are salt to preserve the earth and light to illume the world.  They have direct access to the wisdom of God.  But bishops and priests do not hold public offices in the state.  They hold public offices in the church.  The goals of church and state are different.  The state is primarily concerned with allowing men to prosper on earth.  The church is primarily concerned with allowing men to prosper eternally with our Creator.  There is significant overlap, but there are marked differences.  The church has much wisdom to share to the world, especially the state, for she is the world expert on truth.  But her primary concern is helping people walk with our Creator, and not in the ways of the world.  We only learn the ways of the world to become all things to all people and thereby save some.  To the degree men do hear the church, we will create a healthier society and heaven will invade earth.  The sicknesses of the world are only healed through what the church alone offers — the grace of God in Jesus Christ our Lord by the power of his Holy Spirit.

So the role of the church in society is to be a salt and a light.  A salt to preserve the earth and a light to illuminate darkness.  She is a servant leader.  She has divine wisdom to share.  And she alone knows the fullness of truth.  All other belief systems or ideologies only share aspects of her divinely revealed truth, and unless they learn the fullness of her ways and wisdom, they will perish.  Jews and Catholics are the only everlasting people on this earth.  They are the only people with everlasting promises from the world’s Creator.  And while we might not all be Jewish, it requires some painful covenant obligations or a fatherhood of the flesh, we all can be Catholic.  It is a circumcision in the heart on faith in Christ, not by works of the flesh.

What happened in England was the creation of a state Church, not unlike the Orthodox churches of the East.  In a Catholic society, like England of the 16th century, a Catholic king preached a doctrine falsely — “the divine right of kings” — and used it to justify his self-appointment as the head of the Church in England.  But this is not how the church works.  Henry violated her and plundered her and discarder her and attempted to replace her, just like he did with his women and wives.  He who could not truly love his wife neither could truly love Christ’s bride.

The Catholic stance from the beginning of our church, all the way back to Jesus’s appointment of Peter as the “prime minister of heaven” is the belief in the separation of church and state.  Therefore, when a Catholic uses the word of God to further his own desires and not the kingdom of heaven, and does so in the name of God, the church has no recourse but to say “This person is not catholic” and she thereby excommunicated King Henry VIII.  The hope was this severe action would open his eyes like Nathan’s story did for David.  It did not.

Let me be clear, the separation of church and state is only temporary because of our hardness of heart.  One day, at the end of time, the state will be absorbed into the church (and not like now where the state attempts to absorb the church — the devil only ever inverts truth, he is not creative or original just sometimes subtle and always evil).  The lower laws of the state will one day cease and all that will remain will be the higher laws of the church, for the laws of the church are divine.  And the divine took on human flesh so that one day when he is exalted he would draw all men to himself.  We are in the process of being drawn into the divine.

As Americans (and all English-descended colonies) the argument about the separation of church and state was revisited and had to be relearned because of the great tyrants of England in the 16th century destroying the church and ignoring ancient Catholic wisdom.  A lot of heartache and suffering came because Englishman forgot their history and did not honor her traditions.  Henry did not heed the wisdom of ancient Israel, a wisdom that preached the importance of the separation of powers.  And in the end, he took many wives and many lives.  The Almighty works in mysterious ways, thankfully he gave us Shakespeare the historian to chronicle history as it happened.  Shakespeare preserved his testimony in allegory so that Englishman might remember the truth, and not fall under the spell of Protestant propaganda.

What message did Shakespeare have for the men of his time?  What is his testimony of what happened?  Let us hear the words of Shakespeare from Act 3, Scene 2.  As an aside, Shakespeare’s word helps dispel a lot of false stories.  For Protestant propaganda took root in the following centuries, and the propaganda stressed corruption of the church, her earthly ambition, and the enslavement of her children who suffer under her heavy yoke.  Brutus had told the people after stabbing Caesar, “Had you rather the Church were living and die all slaves, than that the Church were dead, to live all free men?  As the Church loved me, I weep for her; as she was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as she was valiant, I honor her.  But as she was ambitious, I slew her.  There is tears for her love; joy for her fortune; honor for her valor; and death for her ambition”.  Leaving these propaganda points aside, let us turn our ears to hear more testimony from Shakespeare, which cries out from under censorship and tyranny.

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears
I come to bury the Church, not to praise her.
The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft buried with their bones.
So let it be with the Church.  The noble Henry
Hath told you the Church was ambitious.
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath the Church answered it.
Here, under leave of Henry, and the rest
(For Henry is an honorable man,
So are they all, all honorable men)
Come I to speak in the Church's funeral.
She was my friend, faithful and just to me.
But Henry says she was ambitious,
And Henry is an honorable man.
She has bought many slaves freedom in Rome,
Whose ransoms paid from her filled treasuries.
Did this in the Church seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, the Church hath wept.
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff.
Yet Henry says the Church was ambitious.
And Henry is an honorable man.
You all did see that on the Feast
I thrice presented the Church an earthly crown,
Which she did thrice refuse.  Was this ambition?
Yet Henry says she was ambitious,
And sure he is an honorable man.
I speak not to disprove what Henry spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love her once, not without cause.
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for her?
O judgement!  Thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason.  Bear with me,
My heart is in the coffin there with the Church.
And I must pause till it come back to me.

(after a brief pause where the people speak among each other, Shakespeare continues)

But yesterday the word of the Church might
Have stood against the world.  Now lies she dead,
And none so poor to do her reverence.
O masters!  If I were disposed to stir
Your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage,
I should do Henry wrong, and Cromwell wrong,
Who (all of you know) are honorable men.
I will not do them wrong.  I rather choose
To wrong the dead, to wrong myself and you,
Than I will wrong such honorable men.
But here’s a parchment, with the seal of the Church.
I found it in her household, ’tis her will.
Let but the commons hear this testament
(Which pardon me, I do not mean to read)
And they would go and kiss the dead Church’s wounds
And dip their napkins in her sacred blood,
Yea, beg a hair of her for memory
And, dying, mention her within their wills,
Bequeathing her as a rich legacy
Unto their issue.
— Julius Caesar (III.2.72-136)

 

Life Blood Parable

Let us revisit the parable about Papist Global to understand what happened in Henry VIII’s England.  Unfortunately, Papist Global is a weak analogy for the church.  Financial services of a bank could be used as a sad symbol for the sacraments, and even though the Catholic church has great wisdom that built up modern Europe and America by guiding society to improve laws, communication, commerce, and organize corporations, the church has done so much more in bestowing the light of God’s revelation.  Let us mend our error, for the function of our holy church is to save and heal souls.  She is more like a hospital than a bank.  Let us use the same story, but rather than a bank called Papist Global, let us consider a hospital called Life Blood International.

Life Blood International has the same origins and background story as Papist Global.  The main difference is rather than a rogue employee in Germany called Martin Luther, our story is about the President of England, Henry O’Tudor.  President O’Tudor was a popular president.  A winning smile, great communicator, he loved ladies and seemed to genuinely care for his fellow citizens.  He was even proclaimed by Life Blood International as a “nobel life ambassador” for his great work in proclaiming a culture of life by encouraging high health standards throughout England, among the highest of any nation where Life Blood operates.

Life Blood was committed to a culture of life.  Everything Life Blood did was to bring life to society, whether helping pregnant parents give life to children or healing the sick or saving people from certain death, Life Blood lived out its motto “the key to life” by unlocking life for all patients and employees.

After a short while, President O’Tudor started to notice that while Life Blood did much good for England, Life Blood also had a lot of valuable resources.  From lands that hospitals occupied, to the value of their buildings and artwork, to the wealth of their employees, to the possible high costs they could charge for Life Blood’s many great services, Life Blood had many assets desirable to the king.  And since kings are rarely satisfied until they own everything, Life Blood was in danger.  Henry’s confidants lusted for Life Blood’s wealth and Henry was attracted to her power over society.

While at first President O’Tudor enjoyed this culture of life, he started to realize there was much more money in death.  He could make a financial killing if only he could convince Life Blood to accept a culture of death.  The big bucks and the big profits are in death.  O’Tudor realized they were leaving money on the table by not conducting infanticide or abortions, also if he could convince older patients just before retirement to take risky and costly procedures with the hope of extending their life but with a high risk of death, he could tax and take their life savings rather than let them “whittle away their winnings on whiskey and women” as he used to tell the people.  They owed society and these risky experiments were good for all citizens, or so the propaganda machine proclaimed.  As time went on, and the people became convinced by his many and frequent messages, he built on his earlier messages with new talking points, “It is morally wrong for old people to horde their wealth for themselves when the government could use it better”.  Later his story evolved, “You didn’t create your wealth, the government did”.  His story continued to evolve, “the government created your wealth anyways, it is only fair for the government to redistribute your wealth.  Plus, the government guarantees your life, you owe the government”.

O’Tudor realized if he could control healthcare, he controlled the people.  He would become the authoritative voice over their bodies.  If he could get people addicted to sex or drugs, he could make a killing in prescribing “legal” drugs, authorized by his government, as well as charge large amounts of money for healing of the diseases that abounded because of addictions or bad practices surrounding sex and drugs.  He sold contraceptives cheap and gave it away to kids because he knew they break.  Contraceptives are not foolproof, and fools, lovers, and families prove this and he can charge people “an arm and a leg” through a program he privately called “big bucks in brutalizing unborn babes and slicing and scarring their silly mothers”.  He publicly preferred “Planned Parenthood” for obvious reasons.

For a while, President O’Tudor kept saying there needed to be change.  He had a propaganda machine which began flooding media and all public places with posters with his picture and “Change” written underneath with the logo of Life Blood International in the shadows, almost in an evil light.  He portrayed himself as savior of the problems facing Life Blood and their culture of life.  He also flooded his country with new images of people happily embracing death.  He kept saying “Change”, only, he never said from what to what.  He simply said “Change” for a while because “everything was all messed up”.

As time went on, the media kept saying there were all kinds of wars.  New wars were unleashed every day.  Wars on drugs, wars on life, wars on women, pretty much any war you can think of was happening.  They claimed Life Blood had a “war on women” because they would not use their medical technology to kill unborn babies.  Life Blood was truly committed to a culture of life.  But, in O’Tudor’s homeland, it didn’t matter that satan was laughing because while all agreed to kill a young child was morally wrong, many were saying it was much better to harm and scar a woman’s body and damage souls by killing babies while still in a mother’s body.  The argument was this was a great desired liberty for women as they were tired of society’s “war on women” and the suppression of their ability to do what they want.  They claimed it “a woman’s right to chose what to do with the life she helped create and carries”.  The propaganda machine was in full force, and people started believing what they heard rather than thinking logically through the issues.  All the times they heard “there’s a war on women” drowned out the few voices that said “please stop killing our babies”.  The propaganda worked.

And then came the day when President O’Tudor unveiled the changes.  He said “The people are suffering from diseases and sicknesses, that sex is rampant and drugs out of control”.  He said “Life Blood International has failed and we have solutions”.  He rolled out his program “O’TudorCare” which was going to save the people from “evil Life Blood International and the greedy people lining their pockets with the people’s money”.

“O’TudorCare is putting people back in charge of their health!”, that was the official story anyways.  But O’Tudor went outside the law and the legal processes of his nation to pass it.  In the end, it was just more taxes on the people.  The leaders of England, their parliament of representatives were only too happy to help O’Tudor carry out his policies.  The liberals genuinely wanted change while even conservatives thought that with more government came more power.  And so almost all of the people of parliament looked the other way when O’Tudor stepped outside the law, for they knew the more people accepted this the more power they had and the more money they could demand and steal from the people.  While the ancient God of Israel only demanded a tithe of ten percent, the poor and middle class were paying more than fifty percent of their wealth on taxes and insurance and all kinds of government subsidies and requirements.  See, it’s never the rich who suffer, they can pay people to steward their money.  The poor and middle class are too poor and impoverished to get their head above water.

And so the public rallying cry became “No more lies about life from Life Blood!”.  O’TudorCare was going to meet the people’s needs.  They said, “Contraceptives will be free for everybody, not just kids!”  They promised “Planned Parenthood will not discriminate, abortions will be legal for all and young girls do not need parental consent!  We are giving power to the people!”.  They continued “All unborn babes will be able to be aborted, even into the last days of pregnancy because we are going to give to the people the technology Life Blood has been cruelly withholding from you!”.  And finally, “All experimental procedures will be free for the poor” and they kept quiet about the special consent form the poor had to sign, let alone the fact that nothing in life is free.  Everything costs something, the only thing is, it might not cost you, it will cost others, nothing is free.  President O’Tudor knew there was much money in healthcare, especially in guiding people to their death.  If he could control people’s bodies, ultimately, he could control their lives and wealth.

And so the day finally came, he proclaimed that all Life Blood holdings and hospitals in England were property of the nation under the “Hospital Nationalization Program”.  Life Blood International was now commandeered by President O’Tudor and he called it “Life Blood National in England”.  He instituted a new executive order violating the rights of some English citizens and all employees at Life Blood International.  Many people in Life Blood were aghast about what had happened, but they knew O’Tudor controlled the lawmakers and paid off his henchman with the promises of their plundered treasure.  They had no recourse, O’Tudor had corrupted the legal system.  They simply had to watch as President O’Tudor took everything they built under his “Hospital Nationalization Program”.  

They even tried to petition international courts for justice to stop using their trademark name stating that it created confusion in England because true Life Blood hospitals no longer existed in England.  But O’Tudor and his corrupt English courts said they did not recognize the jurisdiction of international courts inside England, within England the English courts were supreme, and they conducted their own trials and found “Life Blood International guilty for crimes against the state”.  They sentenced the key managers to death unless they agreed to sign an oath of allegiance to Life Blood National in England.  Many did, they feared for their lives.  

Many years later, after the turmoil of these dangerous and apocalyptic days were over, the people forgot what happened and today people in England don’t realize that Life Blood England is not a hospital affiliated with Life Blood International.

There was a catch-22 for all English citizens.  Once the government took over healthcare, it was funded by the people through the government.  (The government never funds anything, it taxes and takes from its citizens to then fund programs in the government’s name.  When it spends too much it either taxes more or prints more money, making the citizen’s savings worth less, or finds other excuses to steal from its own people).  

In the case of O’TudorCare programs, all citizens were forced to participate in the culture of death.  So every contributing citizen who made money enough to be taxed, a portion of their earnings was going to further the culture of death, whether making contraceptives free to kids and women or killing babies.  The option was to withdraw yourself from society, and not make money, so that you would not be forced to participate in the evil government, but then the government got what it wanted by removing the dissenting voices from society.  They knew after a generation they’d be able to convince the nation’s children that killing babies was normal, that killing babies is a “sign of our technological progress and our progressive technologies which are at the forefront of science and medicine”.  

It was truly a catch-22 situation, you withdraw from evil you are forced to participate with but as you withdraw, the evil abounds.  Let us not be naive, the government forced all citizens to be baby killers.  So as citizens worked hard to build up a stable living for their families, a portion of their earnings went to killing babies.  But as conscientious citizens withdrew from society, the voices clamoring for the killing of babies only increased.  In the end, the government got what it wanted, the citizens participate in killing kids.  A lot of citizens left their homeland to escape this catch-22 situation and settled in other countries.  They sought out places of hope where they weren't forced to participate in the killing of babies and could create an environment where a “culture of life” consistent with Life Blood International’s ancient policies were upheld.  But as the homeland was the most powerful country in the world, many nations were mimicking its destructive policies.  What a shame.

And that is the story of Life Blood International in O’Tudor’s homeland and how the homeland was no longer the public protector of a culture of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and how a culture of death continued to take hold.  We are living in the story, maybe one day we can see through the lies and return to the fullness of truth.

Nay, I beseech you, sir, be not out with me.  Yet, if you be out, sir, I can mend you.

 

Divine Right of Kings

We have made the claim “the church is a salt to preserve the earth and light to illumine the darkness”.  Let us cover how church wisdom can protect us from future tyrants through (1) the separation of powers and (2) the divine design for healthy societies.

King Henry used a false understanding of the “divine right of kings” to kickstart his audacious behaviors.  In essence, he said there was a scriptural teaching called the “divine right of kings” and because of divine rights, he could take over the church and do what he wants.  But if we were going to look at the scriptures and attempt to create a church teaching and call it “the divine right of kings”, it would be more like the right for kings to die for their subjects in order that their subjects might have better and more abundant life”.  That is the true teaching on the divine right of kings — to die for others.  

Henry did the opposite.  He called his wives and friends and citizens to die for him.  He even passed unjust laws forcing close friends to sign an oath of allegiance which negated their oath to the Catholic church, and when some hold outs would not do as he pleased by taking the oath, he passed unjust laws that forced the penalty of death unjustly upon people like his friend Saint Thomas More who on his way to execution simply said, “I die the king’s good servant but God’s first”.  Saint Thomas More recognized the way of Christ is to give your life for others, not to demand their life for yours.  There very well should be a church teaching on the “divine right of kings”, but it will look like Saint Thomas More’s life, not Henry’s.

The separation of church and state is for the good of the state.  Don’t get me wrong, it does help the church too, but the central issue was King Henry did not respect the laws and just powers of his nation, he created suffering.  Because he worked outside the law, and not within the law, he caused hurt in others.  Because he abolished laws and not fulfill them, he hastened the death of others.  In the end, he could have protected himself from these errors by heeding the voice of the church, not becoming her earthly authority.  

Not only did Henry not follow the example of Christ, he proclaimed Christ’s foundation for the church unimportant.  By taking the head of the church for himself, and ignoring the pope, Henry attempted to undo in England the fulfillment of ancient prophecy.  Isaiah wrote regarding the office of Peter, “On that day I will summon my servant.  I will clothe him with your robe, gird him with your sash, confer on him your authority.  He shall be a father to the inhabitants of the City of Peace and to the house of God.  I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; what he opens, no one will shut, what he shuts, no one will open.  I will fix him as a peg in a firm place, a seat of honor for his ancestral house.  On him shall hang all the glory of the ancestral house”.

When Henry took over the church, he took the authority, it was not bestowed upon him.  He violated the way of God.  Peter was given authority by Christ, and this authority was in fact an office, the office of the pope.  Peter has passed along this authority to his successors for roughly two thousand years.  Henry ignored this rich history and tradition.  More so, he attempted to muzzle the church and shut her out of the earthly kingdom of England she helped create.  He modeled the church into his image, rather than the true image of the man he confessed as savior.  Had he respected how the church transfers authority, he would may humbly accepted her guidance.  But Henry took over the church because then he could do whatever he wanted under his false teachings on the “divine right of kings”.  

Thanks be to God, our founding fathers sought to correct this error through our very First Amendment, which states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting free exercise thereof”.  In America, the government cannot make a church nor destroy one.  This is a great liberty granted us, let us not abuse it.  Let us not create religions and churches just because we have the right to worship freely in this country.  Instead, let us use our liberty and our rights to serve one another and work towards the unity of all of Christendom.

Our founding fathers knew the state should not set up a church because it will corrupt the state.  The church is the voice of morality and reason to restrain the state’s excesses, including the ease with which the state becomes a tyrant over its own citizens.  Governments often try to enslave people.  Our hope is to always remind governments what their role is and what it is not.  Thankfully, our founding fathers heeded ancient Catholic wisdom and didn’t have to reinvent the wheel in creating a separation of the state from the church guaranteed by our First Amendment.  Unfortunately, England had to “reinvent the wheel” and learn the lesson the hard way.  But one day all will see Jesus’s words to our first pope will always be true, “Upon this Peter I will build my church and the gates of death shall not prevail against her”.

Our founding fathers did an important thing through the First Amendment.  First, they ensured the state would never take over the church and so the state would always have a voice of morality in her culture, unless of course the church forgets her role.  Secondly, the American states ensured the Christian community — Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox — would always have a free voice to speak truth to society.  Even though the government often perpetuates its own ideas on God and man, the government could never organize itself as an official religion like the Church in England.  The American government can never create a religion and force obedience to her citizens.  The church is always guaranteed a voice in our nation as long as the children of God remain faithful.  It’s up to us to mess it up.  Our founding fathers, a mixture of Protestants and Catholics and others, gave all Americans a great gift.  In fact, many sacrificed their own lives for this great gift we hold in our hands and our responsible for passing on.

Though cowards die many times before their deaths, the valiant never taste of death but once.

 

Ten Commandments

Let us turn to the second point, how does the church diagnose tyrants and help civil society protect itself from tyranny?  How does the church reveal the divine design for healthy societies?  To answer this, let us go to the law of Moses.  The divine law was entrusted to the nation of Israel, the first and foremost nation under God, and has the divine design for healthy societies.  Jesus is our model and ideal as a man, he is the standard by which all men can measure ourselves.  Jesus will one day judge the living and the dead.  But the Jewish prophets and the Christian apostles also gave us a great gift when the church wrote the last scriptures and compiled all the holy scriptures, for this gave the church the standard by which the church can measure all ideas, especially how to create a healthy society.  So, while Christ is the judge all mankind, the living and the dead, the church is entrusted with judging ideas until he comes on judgement day.

There is a point of difference between many Protestants and all Catholics when it comes to the Law.  Whereas many Protestants look at the law as a burden which we are saved from, all Catholics know the law is our freedom.  For one, the psalms Catholics hear daily in our mass have so many phrases, like the following lines from Psalm 119 — “blessed are those walk by the law of Yahweh” or “in your statues I take delight” or “your servant meditates on your statutes” or “I will run the way of your commandments” or “give me understanding to keep your law and observe it with all my heart” or “I will keep your law always” or “I delight in your commandments which I dearly love”.  Catholics are protected from this error because of the public reading of scripture, and the frequent reading and singing of psalms in our liturgy.  If you are a Protestant, I ask how often are the psalms read in your services?  How often do you yourself read them?

Israelites and Catholics understand the whole reason we have the scriptures and promises of God is because the Creator chose to free slaves.  Hence the psalmist says “your law is my delight”.  Our Maker gave the law to help former slaves walk in freedom.  And he gave ten commandments which can be used to diagnose the health of any and all societies.  Because of our hardness of heart, he also gave us more and more rituals, but ultimately all the ideals of a healthy society can be measured by the ten commandments.  Hence the psalms start with the singing “Blessed is the man whose joy is the law of God; and on his law he meditates day and night.  He is like a tree planted near streams of water, that yields its fruit in season; its leaves never wither; whatever he does prospers”.

Ancient Jewish thinkers realized, the whole of the law can be summarized in two commands, love God and love your neighbor.  In doing this, there will be no transgression against God or man.  But, as often occurs with children, it’s hard to express an ideal.  There are so many ways to live out an ideal.  It is much easier to instead express a negative command that guides children towards the ideal.  So rather than say “life is sacred”, we say “thou shalt not kill”.  Thou shalt not kill is the lowest limit of acceptable behavior.  Because we don’t understand all the ways we can honor life, like a loving father, our Designer gives us the one command to say “alright boys, you’ve gone too far”.  

This is why when Jesus comes on the scene, he can say “You have heard it said, ‘thou shalt not kill’, but I say to you ‘do not even be angry with your brother”.  The lower limit of killing is a result of anger in our hearts.  Christ wants us to remove anger, jealousy, hatred and replace it with love, goodness, and purity.  We can be angry at sin, angry at bad ideas, but never people.  With people we shall move towards the ideal of love, goodness, and purity.  The ideal has so many ways of expression, that God does not want to shackle us from doing good.  He only desires to restrain us from evil.  Hence he gives us his law, the lower limit of acceptable behavior.   But in Christ’s kingdom, we are drawn to the higher laws of heaven and away from the lower laws of earth.

The Ten Commandments give us specific indicators to monitor and measure and compare all societies.  To the extent societies observe these ten indicators, we can have a reading of the health of society.  So let us state each commandment and in parenthesis give a brief statement on the ideal embedded in the commandment.  I know different Christians list out the commandments in different ways, so bare with me as we do this together, it is important to be on the same page, and its important to identify the ideal.  Let us always remember, the context of the giving of the ten commandments is God has freed slaves and wants to help them walk in freedom.  Here are the ten —

You shall have no other gods besides me (there is only one true god).

You shall not make for yourself idols, nor worship or serve them (serve God first).

You shall not invoke the name of God in vain (relationship with God is to be honored).

Observe the sabbath dayWork six days and rest the seventh.  This is the example God set (work and rest are important).

Honor your father and mother so that you may have a long life and prosper in the land God is giving you (honor life-givers of society.  Incidentally, this is the first commandment with a promise, showing how important life-givers are in God’s eyes). 

You shall not kill (life is sacred). 

You shall not commit adultery (marriage and family are sacred). 

You shall not steal (honor the work and property of others). 

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor (truth shall be used to set people free, not enslave). 

You shall not covet what is your neighbor’s (guard your heart, your desires, your passions).

These are the ten basics for a healthy society.  This is the ideal (and therefore divine) design for society.  The degree to which societies are structured in alignment with these ten commandments, they will prosper.  Conversely, the degree to which societies deviate they will create tyrants that replace the void left by ignoring the one true God.  When you look at history and the current state of world affairs, you can identify the ailments of society by looking at these ten indicators.  The degree to which communities can bring alignment to the ten commandments, they will find themselves prospering.

If you hold the two principles, (1) love God and (2) love your neighbor, you will not violate any of the ten commandments, because love fulfills the law.  And so, the job of tyrants and demons and oppressors is to invert this natural order and divine design.  So, whereas the eternal law comes to set slaves free and help them walk in freedom, offering life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; the earthly law comes to enslave people and take away their freedoms, ultimately demanding their life, liberty, and happiness.  While God only gives and bestows life, tyrants and demons only take and take and take.

But remember, the longest lasting and most destructive ideologies come with strong aspects of truth.  They just sway our God-given desires and loves down the wrong paths.  So, rather than love God, they will tell us love government.  Or, rather than say all life is sacred, they will create arbitrary boundaries, only when a child breathes outside the womb is life sacred and therefore only then should life be protected.  See?  The demonic variations are varied.  And the devil will convince men to pervert divine truth in any way because the perversion ultimately leads to enslavement and death.  The perversion leaves society reeling in sicknesses and they willingly give their freedoms to tyrants who promise falsely to cure the problems.  But people in governments create the problems by passing laws not based on Judeo-Christian ideals.  But Christ came to set the captives free and destroy the works of the devil and flesh.  The true solution is returning to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, returning to the God of Zion.

It would be a shame to talk so much of tyrants, and take a moment and create Ten Commandments of Tyrants.  C.S. Lewis wrote Screwtape Letters to show how the demonic works, and so, let us likewise shine a light onto the dark deeds of the devil and his dominion.  These are the Ten Commandments of Tyrants, these ten commandments can be used to determine the points of attack demons and oppressors will take in order to attack the divine design for society.  Any who attack in these ways seek to enslave rather than set free.  The Ten Commandments of Tyrants

Serve false gods.  Never serve the true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Use images falsely.  Corrupt and destroy all good images.  Fill the world with false and corrupted images.  When this is accomplished, we can use images falsely to reeducate people.  Ultimately we can guide them down the path of destruction.

Take credit for the work and accomplishments of God.  Do not honor the name of God.  Erase history and rewrite it according to your desires.  Give credit to men, not testimony to God.  Make flawed men alone the heroes.  Make clear — everyone else has it wrong.  You or your movement alone are the savior of humanity.  Remind people every day of their lives lest truth creep in.  And never think of honoring the one true God for his many great gifts.  When there are problems, it is always because someone else is evil.  When there are food shortages, it is the evil work of others.  Never be accountable for your errors.  Never confess your sins.  Hide them and lie about them.

There shall be no rest.  Work people to death, go into unjust wars and create false enemies.  Never let people rest.  The moment people get a moment of leisure, they can see through your tyranny and lies and do something to rebel.  Never let them think.  Work them always, with no rest.  Create all kinds of wars.  Have the shadow of death loom over everyone’s head always.

Destroy the family.  Good families are great pictures of a loving God.  A good father is an image of a generous God and therefore good fathers must be destroyed.  A loving mother is an image of a loving Church.  A diverse and loving family is a picture of the communion of saints and sinners.  Kill all good images of family.  Control the education of children.  In doing this, the new generation can have many problems and needs and the tyrant can come like a wicked step father who promises to make things better but in fact only make things worse for the large majority of people.  Create the problems you propose to later solve, and it always starts by attacking the family.

There is no right to life.  Tyrants own you, all of you, especially your life.

Sex should be enjoyed everywhere except within a loving marriage.  Destroy the family by tempting husbands and wives away from each other.  Better yet, encourage people “marriage is just a civil union between any consenting parties”, that is it, there is nothing more.  It is not a sacred union between one man and one woman.

There is no private property.  The tyrant owns everything and gives you what you need.

Let lies and spies abound.  Never let the truth get to people (for that will set them free).  For the rebels who love truth, spy on them and kill the leaders in order to scare the followers away.  If people are set on believing some truths, take their favorite truths and deviate it only slightly.  Either way, bombard people with lies and half-truths and tell them not to think.  Create false wars so that no one has any intelligent conversation and never gets to think or solve a problem, but only talks and argues and revisits the same errors of the past.  There is no wisdom or true learning, only indoctrination.  Spend your time talking, not doing.

“We are paradise.”  Don’t go nowhere, don’t know nothing, don’t learn to see, read, think or believe.  Be busy all your life.  Believe what we tell you.  Be satisfied.  “We are paradise”.

Tyrants desire to take your liberty because then they control your life and steal it.  They will enslave you to false gods rather than free you because then they own you.  The ideal of tyrants can be summarized in two precepts (1) love false gods and (2) cause suffering in others.  God freed a family of slaves and turned them into a nation at the crossroads of the world in order to teach the world that with the spirit of the lord there is freedom.  The church has spread this message to the world.

See, hidden in the wisdom of the church is the recipe to help all people, including the many earthly kingdoms and states.  The Ten Commandments is just one example of the divine wisdom embedded in the church and her sacred scriptures she composed by the inspiration of the holy spirit.  The state must be separate from the church because it is the only way for the state to be purified of its evil.  It needs the church as a prophetic voice speaking truth to its leaders.  One day the earthly states will be drawn into the pure love of heaven.  “See, God’s dwelling is with the human race.  He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away.  But as for cowards, the unfaithful, the depraved, murderers, the unchaste, sorcerers, idol-worshipers, and deceivers of every sort, their lot is in the burning pool of fire and sulfur, which is the second death”.  Let us allow the church to always shine her light into the dark deeds of our lives and the dark works of the state.  Only then will she be what she is meant to be, the mender of bad souls.

Night hangs upon mine eyes, my bones wish to rest, that have long labored to attain this hour.

 

Founding Fathers

Thankfully, as Americans Catholics, we have particularly great reasons to rejoice.  God has taken the evil sufferings of our forefathers and created a Protestant society sprinkled and salted with a small yet significant number of Catholics which learned from the errors of tyrannical England and guarantees freedom of worship as a foundational right to all citizens.  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”.

And where America society suffers and ails, Catholics have the fullness of divine truth to help our countrymen and the world heal.  America is particularly privileged among all people, as Abe Lincoln would say, “an almost chosen people” endowed with great liberties, and therefore holding great responsibilities.  He to whom much is given, much will be demanded.  America has been given sea to shining sea of protection from invaders, friendly neighbors to the north and south, abundant energy embedded far beneath our soil, minerals and all kinds of natural resources, and even an entrepreneurial spirit from our Protestant brothers which is something to be marveled and imitated, taking the good and improving on what needs to be improved.  And so, if America should fail, it is because we forget who we are, we forget what we stand for, and what our purpose is in God.  If America should fail is because we hid our light under the ground and allowed the darkness to creep in because the light doesn’t shine.  

But our founding fathers were particularly kind, they granted us Ten Amendments, our Bill of Rights, that have forever made it much harder for tyrants to take place.  I cannot think of one Catholic society that did not suffer a tyrant for an extended period of time, from 16th century England to 18th century France to 19th and 20th century Spain and Italy to the many countries in America over the last two hundred years.  Catholics are sometimes too willing to suffer through tyranny.  But it is very difficult for Canada, Australia, and the USA to suffer tyranny from our presidents and prime ministers, our English forefathers and Puritan, Anglican, and Catholic parents have helped protect our country from the willingness of Catholic societies to suffer through tyrants rather than remove the potential for tyranny.  So, as American Catholics, let us honor our Protestant society for the great good it did to help create a society that honors people’s freedom to worship.  And for us American Catholics, let us dive deeper in truth to show how where our country suffers, the divine and objective truth found in the Catholic church is her cure.  America, the “almost chosen nation” of God, would be a great notch on the devil’s belt.  Let us not be blind in how he preys on us.

The devil will attack.  He will create false divisions in Christendom, he will tell isolated congregations “you are the only one with truth, all others are evil”.  He will cause us to be blind to the great power there is in a united Christendom, maybe separated by theological doctrines but united in our savior and Lord Jesus Christ.  He knows Evangelical Protestants have great freedoms in proclaiming the simple knowledge of Jesus while Evangelical Catholics have great joy in proclaiming the fullness of divine revelation.  The devil fears this and therefore sets Christian against Christian.  The devil’s only chance is for Christians to fight one another rather than satan, sin, and death.  Because while we remain divided, the devil does wreaks havoc.

He convinces people to kill, to destroy families, to destroy marriages, to put false ideas in our minds, to create false images of happiness, to steal our God given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  The devil convinces us to misunderstand the context of the first Two Amendments.  And so we think “freedom of religion” is “freedom from Judeo-Christian religions”.  We also don’t realize the Second Amendment was to allow citizens a form of protection against our own government as well as our fellow citizens prone to evil.  Our founding fathers knew their history and realized the chief enemy to liberty is bad government.

It is a fact that governments have only ever enslaved people while the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has only ever set people free.  Love will not enslave you, it will only set you free.  Hence, God set slaves free and then gave them a form of government to guide them in freedom.  The Catholic church has recognized for the past 2,000 years the need for its prophetic role in advising and counseling and correcting where civil authorities go wrong.  When the state becomes a tyrant our scriptures help correct the course by giving Jews and Christians the divine way of conducting everlasting revolutions.  From Exodus to Daniel, to the story of David, to Maccabees and to our Messiah, the church’s sacred scriptures provide much wisdom in how godly rebels conduct holy revolutions for lasting and permanent change on this earth.  

The ambassadors of the kingdom of heaven are salt to preserve the earth and light to illumine the darkness.  Let us not lose our saltiness or our light, otherwise we’re good for nothing but to be tossed out and trampled on, or dimmed down and snuffed out.  Thankfully, in the aftermath of the Protestant reformation in England, our American forefathers where able to use the wisdom of the sufferings of both Catholics and Protestants in England to create a society to protect individuals from government oppression.  This society guarantees the gospel of Jesus Christ will always be proclaimed, by Protestant and Catholic alike, by various parts of Christendom.

So, the church is free in America to proclaim the same gospel Shakespeare had to hide in Julius Caesar.  He hid this gospel so that the good news might still be proclaimed to the masses in England.  “Liberty, freedom!  Tyranny is dead!  Ambition’s debt is paid.  Mark how the blood of Christ flowed.  Did not great Jesus bleed for justice sake?  All of us struck the foremost man of this world, let us fret till our proud heart break.  Christ hated by ones he loves, this bloody sign of battle is hung out, O Jesus Christ thou art mighty yet!  The ghost of Christ hath appeared to me and I know my hour will come.  My heart doth joy that yet in all my life I found no man but Jesus was true to me.  His life was gentle, and the elements so mixed in him that Nature might stand up and say to all the world, ‘This was a man’.  Within our tents his spirit shall lie, so call the field to rest, and let’s away, to part the glories of this happy day.”


Oracle shouts, “Beware the Ides of March!”
But truly beware the lies of English monarchs,
The apostles warned of apostasy
Worse than betraying our good Lord Jesus Christ,
When his lasting church is torn asunder,
Truth proclaimed to the world loses its thunder.
Let God’s great will be done eternally;
Let us not forget the true arch enemy.
For neither a priest Luther nor a King Henry
Gave their body to be crucified,
Only Jesus Christ took his death tree to calvary,
Defeating satan, sin, and the last enemy.

Apostles preserved many testimonies,
Even one about an office in perpetuity.
The lasting office of the holy see
Giving Christ to Peter his kingdom keys;
To bind, to loose, to keep Church unity.
Beware the protests of certain Christians,
Their reform only constantly deforms.
Let ‘em repent and come into the true Church.
Hidden behind the “divine right of kings” is
devilish damnation, killing wives, and crippling lies;
Divide Christ’s body and attack truth from all sides,
Devils roar and fight disguised as angels of light.