Without compromise or apology He made man the head of the family and woman the head of the children. This is not because man earned the right or even because he has some special qualities. It is simply because it has to be. It cannot be democratic. Logic will demonstrate what happens when there is no clear-cut leader in the family. Of course, God outsmarted us men by making the woman smarter, stronger, more social and more loving.
This same absolute chain of command had to be set up in His Kingdom and so He did. As already pointed out in Bible passages, Christ ordered a chain of command so that we would go down through the ages with one mind and one faith united in love of each other and God's truths. The early fathers knew this was the glue that held the Kingdom together and never stopped insisting on obedience to the authorities God ordained to lead us.
"Your obedience to your bishop, as though he were Jesus Christ, shows me plainly enough that yours is no worldly manner of life, but that of Jesus Christ Himself, Who gave His life for us that faith in His death might save you from death. At the same time, however, essential as it is that you should never act independently of the bishop ---- as evidently you do not ---- you must also be no less submissive to your clergy, and regard them as apostles of Jesus Christ our Hope, in whom we shall one day be found, if our lives are lived in Him. The deacons too, who serve the mysteries of Jesus Christ, must be men universally approved in every way; since they are not mere dispensers of meat and drink, but servants of the church of God, and therefore under obligation to guard themselves against any slur or imputation as strictly as they would against fire itself.
"Equally, it is for the rest of you to hold the deacons in as great respect as Jesus Christ; just as you should also look on the bishop as a type of the Father, and the clergy as the Apostolic circle forming His council; for without these three orders NO CHURCH HAS ANY RIGHT TO THE NAME.
"Be as submissive to the bishop and to one another as Jesus Christ was to His Father, and as the Apostles were to Christ and the Father; so that there may be complete unity, in the flesh as well as in the spirit."
(Ignatius of Antioch on his way to his death in 80 A.D.)
Just like the head of the household, bishops are not elected by a democratic vote of the people. They are Apostolic, meaning they are directly descended from the Apostles by the laying on of hands, thereby receiving their right to rule from God Himself.
"Our Apostles knew, through Our Lord Jesus Christ, that there would be dissensions over the title of bishop. In their full foreknowledge of this, therefore, they proceeded to appoint the ministers I spoke of, and they went on to add an instruction that if these should fall asleep, other accredited persons should succeed them in their office."
(Saint Clement of Rome - 100 A.D.)
And so, the first point I am making is that unity requires order, and order requires a chain of command, and this chain is ordained by God, and God is never wrong. But lest anyone in a leadership role get a big head, He also commanded that those leaders be the servants, the protectors, the slaves of their people. This brings us to the greatest of all ways to be united: family love.Family Love
The family is the best example of unity or disunity. The family is a group of people who have promised to love each other toward their mutual goals of love, security, health, growth, and death. They say they will love each other in sickness and health, in good times and bad times, in richness or poverty.
The truly great families of the world are not those who seek love, but those who seek to love. They are not those who want, but those who want to give. They are not those who need help, but those who need to help.
"But," you will say, "it takes two to love." No! My friends, it takes one to love. Only one ever loves. To really love is to love without expecting love in return. If Christ only loved those who loved Him, He would not have died on the Cross for very many people of this world. He loved people until they loved Him and even if they never did. This is what makes marriages work, even when one in the family is an alcoholic, or sick or ugly. If you love "because," you are selling your love. Do not sell Christ's blood. The first step towards unity is to love as Christ loved, without conditions.First Kingdom of God When Mary said, "Be it done according to your word;' Her "Yes" opened the door for the "Kingdom of Heaven" to enter the world. Christ entered into Mary, but He did not leave Heaven behind. When Mary said, "Yes" to Her superiors and married Joseph, in spite of Her desire to remain unmarried, She gave to the Kingdom unity and organization. When Mary said, "Yes," Her mission had ended, for Her mission was to bring Christ into the world, to become one with Him, to become the Mother of God, to become the Mother of all mankind, to become the Queen of Heaven and Earth. Her generation began because She became Mother of the Church.
As we contemplate this family, this first Church, this first Body of Christ, this first Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, we will see how God intended the Church to be. It had God within it. It honored Mary. It had a leader, who all obeyed. The least in the order of human authority was the greatest. The head in the order of human authority was the servant of the others. Christ taught both Joseph and Mary through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, but Christ did not assume the role of father, as He rightfully could have. He left that to Joseph. He "adopted" Joseph to be head of the family and obeyed him in all things. This has other connotations; but for now, think of how this relates to love.
Is it love to give and at the same time have an attitude of superiority? The Pharisee in Luke 18:11 paid his tithes and thanked God he was not like the Publican. The Publican was probably a rich man. He worked for the Romans, most likely as a tax-collector. Whatever he was in the eyes of creatures did not matter to him. He was a sinner in the eyes of God, as all of us are, and that was all that was important to him.
Joseph was the head of the "Kingdom of Heaven on Earth," but he thought of himself as the least in the family, as the protector of the Word and his Mother, as a servant to them.
Mary is the Mother of God, and yet obeyed Joseph in all things, never doing anything without his approval, and never saying "No" to anything he wanted to do.
Christ is God, and yet He obeyed Joseph in all things. To really love we must not only love the person, but the position of the person. We must love his or her place in the world as though it was Christ, Himself, occupying that place. In our children, we should see Christ. In our mothers and fathers, we should see Christ. In our bishops and priests, we should see Christ.
So, when we give our love (and we are giving it to Christ), how can we look down on them as the Pharisee did? True love, the kind Mother Teresa gives, the kind Father Paul gives, is the love that breaks down the walls of separation and division. It is this love that unites. We are all one family in the eyes of God. Family Love is the love of unity.Prayer Unites
The little house in Damascus is a great example of that. Father Patrick Peyton coined the saying, "The Family that Prays Together Stays Together," and this should be the battle cry of unity. The Church is a family. Right now it is a divorced family. Christ said that what "God puts together, let no man put asunder." Who split this family that God put together is not important. "Whoever divided us has been punished by God." (Mirna). What is important is that we make it right. "We should put right this immense wrongdoing against Christ. We should not continue in it." (Mirna).
We will only accomplish this by coming together to pray, Greek and Roman, East and West, Catholic and Orthodox and Protestant. We must come together to pray as a family whenever and wherever we can. If you Catholics do not know an Orthodox Christian, go find one and pray together for unity, family with family.
In this way (and only this way) will we break down the walls of separation. When we, Greeks and we, Romans pray together, there will Christ and Mary be praying with us. "We must, therefore, pray to God with insistence to put peace in our hearts and to remove hatred and selfishness from the hearts of His children, who are only His when in need and who sell Him off when He needs them." (Mirna). God needs us to reunite His Kingdom. Let us pray together as one, one big family. For Catholics, if the reason for getting together is to pray for unity, it is legal, but this is the only reason permitted by law.Unity Without Joseph? It was said at Fatima that when the world understands the sanctity of Saint Joseph, there will be peace. Joseph as a man is rather obscure, but as Head of the family much can be said. I like to think of a family as a treasure box. Inside are fine pearls (mother and children). The box itself is the father. He must hold them together, protect them, keep them as one, keep them united.
That is why so many marriages in the world today don't work. Everyone wants to be the box. What do you have when you have two empty boxes? Everyone wants to jump out of the box. And now we have many lost pearls. To bring them back we must find the box and honor it. The box is Joseph.
Joseph represents the authority God placed on earth to bind us together into one family. He also represents what God wants of these elders. Make no mistake about it. Christ set up a chain of command in the Kingdom and insists we obey that chain. That Chain holds the pearls together. Inductive reasoning also demands a Joseph. If we consider the household, whose end is to teach its members to live rightly, there is need for one called the pater-familias, or for someone holding his place, to direct and govern, according to the Philosopher when he says, "Every household is ruled by its eldest." It is for him, as Homer said, to guide and make laws for those dwelling with him. For this arises the proverbial CURSE.
"May you have an equal in your house."
Inductive reasoning also teaches us that a single worldwide family must have a single ruler for peace and harmony, but it is not to be understood that every decision of every issue in every city comes from him directly. Nations, kingdoms, and cities have individual conditions which must be governed by different laws. There can be only one faith, but there can and should be many ways of expressing that faith. Unity does not mean the sameness of ways, only the sameness of faith and of love. In matters of opinion-freedom. In matters of faith-unity. In all other things-love.
But even these diversities must be regulated by those who govern under the one who governs all. Paul in Romans 13:1-2:
"Let everyone be subject to the higher authorities for there exists no 'authority except from God and those who exist have been appointed by God. Therefore, he who resists the authority resists the ordinance of God; and they that resist bring on themselves condemnation,"
All authority comes from God, and to violate that authority is to violate the Fourth Commandment. This order of authority is especially in the Kingdom as expressed in Eph, 4:11-13 and again in 1 Cor, 12:28. Paul admonishes us to be subject to all authorities, obeying commands and ready for every good work in Titus 3:1. We are to be subject even to the priests. (1 Peter 5:5) In Ex, 7:11 we learn that not everyone in the Kingdom is a priest. Jude tells us that to disregard authority makes us like Satan. (Jude 1:8). The Kingdom will have deacons (Acts 6:6), and priests (Titus 1:7; 1 Tim. 5:17), and bishops (Acts 20:28; Titus 1:7). The Apostles warn us to obey them and also warn them to care for us.
But over all these deacons, priests, and bishops, Christ set up one gate-keeper, one protector of the pearls, one final authority on earth over all others. Christ adopted Joseph to be that one protector of the Word of God, and He was subject to him. After Joseph died (and only after he died), Christ took earthly charge of His Kingdom. Upon His death He passed it on. Ruling His Kingdom from Heaven, He placed one in charge on Earth and promised to guide him and to be with him until the end of time.
"Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father in Heaven, And I say to you, you art Peter [rock], and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.
"And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; and whatever you shalt bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatever you shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven," (Matt, 16:17-19).
Christ directs Peter to lead His Kingdom. (John 21:15-19). He warns us that if we try to go around Peter, we are thieves and robbers:
"Amen, Amen, I say to you, he who enters not by the door into the sheepfold [the Kingdom] but climbs up another way, is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is shepherd of the sheep. To this man the gatekeeper [Peter] opens and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them by faith." (John 10:1-3).
Christ is not the Gatekeeper for He says, "I am the door." (John 10:7 & 9), but He wants all to enter into the Kingdom. "And other sheep I have that are not of this fold. Them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd." (John 10:16).
St. Cyprian was Bishop of Carthage in 258 A.D. and the first African bishop to be martyred. Some of his writings are still preserved today. His letter, "On the Unity of the Church," is very appropriate today. Here are some of his teachings in this letter.
"The Lord says to Peter: 'I say to thee, that thou art Peter and upon this rock. ..' It is on one man that He builds the Church, and although He assigns a like power to all the Apostles after His resurrection, saying: 'As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you. ..receive ye the Holy Spirit: if you forgive any man his sins, they shall be forgiven him; if you retain any man's sins they shall be retained': yet, in order that the oneness might be unmistakable, He established by His own authority a source for that oneness having its origin in one man alone. No doubt the other Apostles were all that Peter was, endowed with equal dignity and power, but the start comes from him alone, in order to show that the Church of Christ is unique. Indeed this oneness of the Church is figured in the Canticle of Canticles when the Holy Spirit, speaking in Our Lord's name, says: 'One is my dove, my perfect one: to her mother she is the only one, the darling of her womb.' If a man does not hold fast to this oneness of the Church, does he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he resists and withstands the Church, has he still confidence that he is in the Church, when the blessed Apostle Paul gives us this very teaching and points to the mystery of Oneness, saying: 'One body and one Spirit, one hope of your calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God?' "Now, THIS ONENESS WE MUST HOLD TO FIRMLY AND INSIST ON-especially we who are bishops and exercise authority in the Church-so as to demonstrate that the episcopal power is one and undivided too. Let none mislead the brethren with a lie, let none corrupt the true content of the faith by a faithless perversion of the truth. THE AUTHORITY OF THE BISHOPS FORMS A UNIT of which each holds his part in its totality, and the Church forms a unity, however far she spreads and multiplies by the progeny of her fecundity; just as the sun's rays are many, yet the strength deriving from its sturdy root is one. So, too, though many streams flow from a single spring, though its multiplicity seems scattered abroad by the copiousness of its welling waters, yet THEIR ONENESS ABIDES BY REASON OF THEIR STARTING POINT. Cut off one of the sun's rays-the unity of that body permits no such division of its light; break off a branch from a tree, it can bud no more; dam off a stream from its source, it dries up below the cut. So too, Our Lord's Church is radiant with light and pours her rays over the whole world; but it is one and the same light which is spread everywhere, and the unity of her body suffers no division.
"She spread her branches in generous growth over all the earth, she extends her abundant streams ever further; yet one is the head-spring, one the source, one the mother who is prolific in her offspring, generation after generation; of her womb are we born, of her milk are we fed, of her Spirit our souls draw their life-breath.
"The spouse of Christ cannot be defiled. She is inviolate and chaste; she knows one home alone; in all modesty she keeps faithfully to one couch. It is she who rescues us for God, she who seals for the Kingdom the sons whom she has borne.
"Whoever breaks with the Church and enters on an adulterous union cuts himself off from the promises made to the Church; and he who has turned his back on the Church of Christ shall not come to the rewards of Christ: he is an alien, a worldling, an enemy. YOU CANNOT HAVE GOD FOR YOUR FATHER IF YOU HAVE NOT THE CHURCH FOR YOUR MOTHER...
"There must be also heresies, that those approved may be manifest among you. ..This explains why certain people, backed by their hot-headed associates, seize authority for themselves without any divine sanction, making themselves into prelates regardless of the rules of appointment, and having no one to confer the episcopate upon them, assume the title of Bishop on their own authority."
St. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage 258 A.D.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Who Is The Rock? And so, we have the words of the Bishop of Carthage in 251 A.D. to ponder as we walk towards unity. It is my purpose in these writings to give direction in as charitable way as I can. It will not be easy, but truth is the best charity. No one who is learned in Scripture or the early history of the Church denies that Peter was the head of the Church.
No one denies that the Church has always held that there will always be a successor to Peter until the end of time. Logic and history also teach us that unity can only happen with a single leader. Democracy does not work, because the majority wanted Christ crucified. Probably one of the most perfect governments in the history of the world is America.
America is not a democracy. America is a government of written laws. The laws must be obeyed by both the governed and the governors. A president in America must obey the same law as I do. I can know this law because it is written. In a democracy, there is no law but the law of the mob, and that could change everyday. America does have a democratic way of electing the law-makers, but not a democratic way of making the laws.
The Kingdom has a system much like that, except that only those who were well read in the law of God could vote for the law-maker. When the binder and looser was elected, he was the last word in all disputes. It cannot be any other way.
Pluras Unum (first among many) does not work. A circle must have a center. It must have a point to work from. A Kingdom, a family, a circle must have a head, a starting point and an ending point. They must be the same point. Some say that the Kingdom is a Kingdom of Councils and that Councils of Bishops run the Church. But if one studies the history of the different Orthodox and Catholic Councils, you will find many Councils that did not have the final approval of the Kingdom.
Sometimes Bishops from a single part of the world will gather together and declare crazy things for the flock to believe (as has happened in America in the past few years). They have no more authority than similar Councils had in the first century of the Church. These first century Councils are still condemned by both the Orthodox and the Catholic Churches. Another problem with Councils is that there never has been a Council in the history of the world where every Bishop in the world agreed to the same document. Who is to say that the majority is correct on something? Why could not the minority be correct? The truth is that the minority is usually correct. That being (almost always) the case, of what value is a Council unless someone speaks for Christ?
Let us assume half the bishops and patriarches of the world declare one thing and half another. What happens then? Someone has to make a final decision. That person does not have the right to make Doctrine, for all Doctrine comes from Christ. But when there are differences of opinion as to what Christ taught, there has to be one (and only one) person who gives the final interpretation of the WORDS of Christ. That person should be guided by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Love and Truth. I can think of no other solution to unity.
Even the word "Council" comes from the word "Counsel" meaning "to give advice." Most people agree with a single leader; however, they disagree as to who this person should be. Some do not see unity of faith as even necessary at all. Nicol and I discussed these problems of unity. I voiced the above arguments. I have been associating with hundreds of Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholics in the past five months. They all know that a single leader is a must, but who this must be is the question.
This is especially difficult in light of what I have already pointed out regarding the mistakes of some of the Popes in the past. But let us consider the father of a family. We know from God's Fourth Commandment that obedience to him is a must in all things except sin. We know that if he asks us to do something that is absolutely stupid (but not sinful) we must do it. Of course, we should (with all the love we can muster) point out the stupidity if we can. But this having been done, we must obey. Keeping that in mind, let us consider who should be the father of the Kingdom today.
But first let us consider WHERE this leader should make his home. If like Photius said, that Peter should be where the Emperor is or where the strongest city in the world is, what city would that be today? Constantinople has less than 7000 Greek Christians. It is not a power of the world. What about the other Patriarchal Sees: Alexandria, Antioch, or Jerusalem? Perhaps Moscow? But the Church of Moscow was under the control and appointment of the Communists, and even today is more or less a state church. Jerusalem is under the Jews. Should a Bishop rule the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth who was approved by the Communists or subject to the Jews or having to have the approval of the state?
Maybe it should be one of the Bishops in America. America is a strong power today. But what about tomorrow? If the Bishop of America is that single leader, and tomorrow America is crushed by another country, should he give up his job to the bishop of the victorious country?
If it is Rome and the Roman bishop, then why? Even Peter called Rome the new Babylon. Why Rome? It is difficult for me to give this answer, because it is a question I did not even want to face in this book. And I want you to understand that this is strictly my opinion, and not the opinion of Mirna or Nicolas. I have never asked them and I never will, because they must remain neutral in these matters. These problems confronting unity will only be decided by the elders, not us. But we must reflect on them, so that we are prepared for their decisions.
I have more friends amongst the Greek Orthodox than amongst the Catholics. I further believe that the Greek Orthodox will bring more beauty, more holiness, love, and more tradition into the Kingdom than they will get from the Catholics. I literally believe that the unity of the Greeks will stop the fast decline of the Catholics. We need them, maybe more than they need us.. Rationalism has crept into the Western Church. They call themselves "Freethinkers." They respect no authority, not Divine, not Church, not father or mother.
The union of the Orthodox with the Catholic Churches will save the Western Church from this onslaught of freethinkers. It isn't Church Nationalism that brings me to this opinion because Pluralism has crept into the Catholic Church, and not into the Orthodox Church.
Truth is truth, and Christ is truth. If we are going to march for unity of faith, we might just as well face this problem right now. The leader of the Anglican delegation to Vatican II, Bishop John Moorman, gave his views on the subject.
"If there was ever to be unity among Christians, there will have to be a central head of the Church, and that head will certainly have to be the Bishop of Rome."
If we leave it up to theologians, bishops, and patriarchs, though, we will not have unity for five hundred years. We must face this question now, so that we (the people) will not have to depend on elders for the answers. They have had nine hundred years to justify disunity and will be well armed with all the answers from both sides. Do we need this? We are simple. A simple sign from Heaven is enough for us.Signs From Heaven Patriarch Michael closed all the Latin churches in Constantinople and desecrated all the hosts in the altars, saying that they were not the real body and blood of Christ, since the Catholics were no longer orthodox. We, whether Catholic or Orthodox, know this is not true. One of the reasons we know is "signs from Heaven." One of these signs from Heaven is in the little House of Soufanieh. Others are: The Miraculous Medal, Lourdes, La Salette, Fatima, Guadalupe, etc. In Damascus it was in a Catholic Church that a statue cried in 1977. It is Mirna, a Catholic, who is receiving the miracle in their home. There have been 370 Stigmatists like Mirna since St. Francis; there are hundreds of statues and pictures like the Icon; and there are thousands of miraculous cures like at the house in Damascus. If Catholics were not Orthodox, God would not be sending His Holy Spirit. There is no question that Heaven has spoken and often.
I will offer another sign from Heaven that is not so .obvious. I am writing this right outside of Rome in a place called Rocca De Papa. Last week I entered St. Peter's Basilica. Two days ago I went under the building to see St. Peter's grave. Yesterday I climbed to the top of the dome and stood over the main altar. Twenty-five years ago (when still an atheist) I did a report on the archaeological discovery of his tomb. I offer this to you.
In 313 A.D. Roman Emperor Constantine built a church for the Christians. He was newly converted and wanted to show his love for Christ. He built this church in Rome, even though he set. up his seat of government in Constantinople. He chose the site where he thought St. Peter's grave was. It was a bad place to build a church, since it was on the side of a hill. Nonetheless, he built three retaining walls and filled in the entire side of the hill so that he could build.
He built the largest building in the world at that time. As time went on, several new main altars were built on top of the others. And in 1500 A.D. it was decided to build a new Basilica. In order to have a Church of Peter standing always, the decision was made to build the new one right over the old one without tearing it down until after the new Basilica was completed.
The new one had to be much bigger than the old one so that the old one could fit inside, until the construction was completed, and so it was. As you stand in the dome, the people at the altar look like ants. In the years of Pope Pius XII and during World War II, an expedition was authorized by the Pope to find out if the legend of the Christian burialgrounds were true. Under the Basilica of St. Peter's they found writings that proved it was not a legend.
Money was authorized to look for the grave of St. Peter. Twelve years later, after going down into the earth under old walls and then back up to within twenty feet of the existing floor they found St. Peter's tomb. Survey teams were brought in to find out where it was, relative to the world above. They found that the tomb was directly beneath the center of the dome, directly beneath the center of the main altar; not close to the center, but exactly center. "Upon this Rock I will build My Church."
For me (and I do not speak for all "Messengers of Unity"), Rome is the proper place because it is the final home of Peter and Paul. There they gave their lives for the Kingdom.
Now, let us consider who should sit on the Seat of Peter. Let us imagine that Pope John Paul II steps down from the Chair of Peter in the interest of unity. It has been done before in history!
(In 1417 there were three Popes who claimed to be the real Pope, one at Pisa, one at Avignon and one in Rome. At the Council of Constance the real Pope at Rome agreed to resign and the other two were deposed. A single Pope was elected, Martin V and unity returned.)
Let us imagine that all the Patriarchs of all the different Catholic and Orthodox Churches of the world join with all the Cardinals of the Catholic world and elect a new Peter. Let us imagine further that only the Patriarchs of the world elect a new Peter. Let us further imagine that only the five Patriarchs of the original five Sees elect a new Peter for all the Churches of the world. In anyone of these imaginary cases, I believe that the Holy Spirit will guide their decision and the present Pope would be re-elected. Of course this would violate tradition as tradition teaches that only the Bishops of Rome can vote for a Pope. That is why Cardinals are Bishops of a Church of Rome and must say Mass there once a year.
What should this united Church be called? I do not care. Let us call it Catholic, but if that offends the Orthodox, let us call it Orthodox, or Catholic Orthodox, or God's One House, or The Kingdom. Who cares? These things are not important. What is important is unity, love, forgiveness, a single faith, united prayer. What is important is that we march in the same direction. Let there be many kinds of Masses, many ways to honor God, many ways to sing, many ways to pray, but only one faith, only one Kingdom, and then as the Bible says we will convert the world.