Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Easter Tradition: Bishop Rutherford I Blesses Wax "Agnus Dei" Disks

The Agnus Dei disks, some
immersed in water, some
already on a tray to dry. 

By. A. Hernandez


The sacred ceremony of blessing the wax Agnus Dei disks, a practice deeply rooted in the history of the Christian faith, was revived last year in the United Roman-Ruthenian Church and continues to signify the deep spiritual connection and continuity within the Church. The ritual was performed by His Holiness Bishop Rutherford I of Rome-Ruthenia, and the blessed wax disks will be distributed far and wide. 

The revival of blessing the Agnus Dei disks in the United Roman-Ruthenian Church is not just about bringing back an old custom. It is about reconnecting with a rich spiritual heritage and offering the faithful tangible tokens of divine protection and blessing. In a world that often seems disconnected from its spiritual roots, the reintroduction of this tradition serves as a beacon of hope and faith.

Blessing the Agnus Dei disks with
incense before they are immersed
in water.

The decision last year to revive the blessing of the Agnus Dei disks has been met with enthusiasm. It has sparked a renewed interest in the Church's ancient traditions and customs, bringing the faithful closer together and deepening their spiritual lives. The blessed disks have become cherished items, symbolizing unity, protection, and the enduring presence of God in their lives.

Removing the baptized Agnus Dei wax disks from the water.

Understanding the Agnus Dei Disks

The Agnus Dei, which translates to "Lamb of God" in Latin, is more than just a symbol within Christianity; it represents Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for humanity's salvation. The Agnus Dei disks are small, round wax pieces that have been blessed by the Bishop of Rome-Ruthenia. These disks are traditionally made from the leftover wax and are embossed with the image of the Lamb of God. , symbolizing Christ.

H.H. Bishop Rutherford I
wearing the vestments
designated for this ritual.

The Ceremony of Blessing

The ritual, which typically takes place on Wednesday of Paschal Week, involves a special prayer and ritual, where the bishop invokes God's blessing upon the wax disks, asking for His protection over those who will use them. This ceremony not only highlights the continuity of the Church's traditions but also strengthens the bond between the pontiff and the faithful.

Before the ceremony, the prepared disks are placed on trays and laid on the altar or a table designation for the ceremony. The Bishop-Imperator begins the ceremony by invoking the Holy Spirit, asking for divine assistance in blessing the sacramental. The water to be used is blessed, and then fragrance and the Holy Chrism (one of the holy oils) are added to it. He then blesses the disks, also using incense, symbolizing purification and sanctification. Specific prayers are recited, asking God to impart His blessings upon the Agnus Dei and those who will use them. The disks are then baptized by being immersed in the water and oil mixture, after which they are removed and placed on trays to dry. The Agnus Dei disks are distributed and made available to the faithful as a gift of spiritual protection and grace.

The Significance of the Agnus Dei Disks

The blessed Agnus Dei disks carry a profound spiritual significance. They are considered sacramentals, objects that the Church provides to help the faithful sanctify their everyday lives. The disks are often kept in homes, carried as personal protectors, or given as gifts to provide spiritual comfort and protection. They are symbols of Christ's presence in the lives of believers, serving as reminders of His sacrifice and love.

Monday, April 1, 2024

Inside the Unique Governance of the United Roman-Ruthenian Church

By M. Derosiers

ROME-RUTHENIA 2 April 2024 (NRom)

The governance of the United Roman-Ruthenian Church and its historic temporal wing, the Pontifical Imperial State of Rome-Ruthenia is a topic that captures the imagination of many. At its helm is the Bishop of Rome-Ruthenia, a figure who combines ecclesiastical authority with sovereign dignity. This unique blend of roles is accompanied by an array of traditional auxiliary titles such as Prince of the Romans, Grand Duke and titular Karol of Ruthenia, and more. But who is the current head of the Church, His Holiness Bishop Rutherford I, and how is the incumbent of such a multifaceted position chosen? Is it a matter of bloodline, or is it an elective process? The answer lies somewhere in between, in a semi-hereditary, semi-elective ecclesiastical monarchy system that has roots in several historical precedents.

The United Roman-Ruthenian Church

St. Aftimios Ofiesh, Russian
Orthodox Bishop of Brooklyn,
one of the two Holy Fathers of 
the Apostolic See of the
United Roman-Ruthenian Church
The United Roman-Ruthenian Church is a canonical autocephalous patriarchal Apostolic Church of ancient Orthodox and Catholic origins, also with special status with the United Nations Economics and Social Council. It is also in hereditary descent from Rome and Russia and is considered the temporal successor of St. Peter. St. John Paul II relinquished the temporal claims of the Bishops of Rome, except for those pertaining to Vatican City, while St. Benedict XVI renounced the Patriarchal title. The succession to the temporal heritage of Rome now rests with the United Roman-Ruthenian Church as the next-closest heir in recognized and documented succession from St. Leo X in the Holy Roman Empire. The current structure and name resulted in 2023 when several jurisdictions merged. The modern diocese was established in 1978, with autocephalous status in 2008 and patriarchal status in 2011. (See more at the Frequently Asked Questions.)
Pope St. Leo X, Prince of
Florence, one of the two
Holy Fathers of the
Apostolic See of the United
Roman-Ruthenian Church

The Pontifical Imperial State

In the rich tapestry of history, the states of the Church transcend time and hold great significance. The Pontifical Imperial State of Rome-Ruthenia is the titular secular wing of the United Roman-Ruthenian Church. It is the combination of the historic Pontifical Roman State and the Pontifical Kingdom of Ruthenia and All Rus' to which the Church is heir, carrying a legacy that spans centuries. 

To foster a sense of unity and represent all the historical territories associated with the patrimony of the United Roman-Ruthenian Church (which include an empire, three kingdoms, several principalities, and more), the modern name - Pontifical Imperial State of Rome-Ruthenia - was chosen. Uniting these historic states and church jurisdictions under one banner of fellowship strengthens the bonds of collective heritage within the United Roman-Ruthenian Church and writes a new chapter in their shared history. Despite our diverse backgrounds, we are all part of a greater whole. Today the Pontifical Imperial States stands as an ethno-religious cultural nation without political territory that constitutes a state unto itself, representing people across multiple modern political countries.

Top Left: Roman the Great, Tsar of All Rus'
Top Right: Lev II, King of Russia
Bottom Left: Valentinian III Augustus
Bottom Right: Constantine VII,
Byzantine Emperor of Rome

The Church's continued claim over the Pontifical Imperial State may seem puzzling to some, given that it no longer possesses any actual political territory and does not seek to control any political territory. Historical significance, autonomy from secular authorities, diplomatic recognition, and protection of church assets all are contributing factors. Yet, the Church's claim is rooted in its historical significance, for the Church still recognizes its historical connection and significance to the areas that once comprised the Pontifical Imperial State, even though they now belong to other modern political countries. Also, by maintaining its claim over the Pontifical Imperial State, the Church asserts its autonomy and independence from secular authorities. This symbolic declaration reinforces the Church's position as a sovereign entity and serves as a reminder of its spiritual authority. That allows the Church to maintain diplomatic relations with other entities, participate in international affairs, and to function as a sovereign state unto itself, despite lacking political territory. Furthermore, this claim acts as a safeguard against any possible challenges or encroachments on historical assets.

Full coat of arms of the
Pontifical and Imperial Household
of the United Roman-Ruthenian Church

The Semi-Hereditary, Semi-Elective Monarchy Explained

St. Peter the Apostle vested
as a Bishop of the
Gallo-Russo-Byzantine Rite
of the United Roman-Ruthenian Church

The governance structure of The United Roman-Ruthenian Church and the Pontifical Imperial State of Rome-Ruthenia is neither purely hereditary nor entirely elective. This system mirrors the historical institution of hereditary bishoprics and nation-states governed by prince-bishops, with Montenegro often cited as a prime example. The current Supreme Pontiff, Bishop Rutherford I, holds his secular titles through his ecclesiastical office. Also, the several titles held by his family were bequeathed to the Church, thus making them now inseparable from the office of the Bishop of Rome-Ruthenia. And, today these titles are symbolic and no longer refer to (or seek) direct governance of a civil state. Therefore they form an ethno-religious nation without borders that constitutes a state unto itself, representing people across multiple modern political countries.

His Holiness Bishop Rutherford I

Bishop Rutherford I
in uniform of the 
Walsingham Guard

Bishop Rutherford of Rome-Ruthenia, elected as head of the Church in 2011, is a figure embodying humble service, dignity, and historical significance. His Holiness's lineage spans the great royal and noble houses of Europe, from the western realms to the eastern domains, including the Kingdom of Ruthenia that forms a major part of the Church's patrimony. He is part of the nobility of the Merovingian Dynasty, the Holy Roman Empire, and the Byzantine Empire. And, in his role as Supreme Pontiff, he is head of the Pontifical and Imperial House of Johnson-Roma-Rus', the ecclesiastical dynastic successors to the Houses of Rurikovich, Romanovich, and Ivrea. The family is entrusted with the sacred duty of upholding the traditions and values of the United Roman-Ruthenian Church and Pontifical Imperial State of Rome-Ruthenia. Although the family is Roman-Russian, with strong Latin and Slavic heritage, it also has a long history in the British Isles, North America, and the Caribbean.

Bishop Rutherford I
in clerical habit

Despite his European roots, Bishop Rutherford I was born and raised in the United States, where he also descends from some of the most distinguished American families such as the Warren, Winslow, and Phillips families of Boston, among others. In addition to seminary, he holds degrees from Harvard University Extension School, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment, and is also a behavioral scientist specialized in psychological economics. For Bishop Rutherford I, serving in his ecclesiastical role is more than a mere duty; it is the intersection of a profound familial obligation and a deeply-held act of faith. In 2025, the P.I. House of Johnson-Roma-Rus' will be celebrating 20 years of the restoration of the Roman-Russian dynasty. 

Historical Precedents of Hereditary Ecclesiastical Offices

Bishop Petar II, 
Metropolitan and
Prince of Montenegro
The concept of a semi-hereditary, semi-elective monarchy, as seen in The United Roman-Ruthenian Church and the Pontifical Imperial State of Rome-Ruthenia, is not without historical precedent. The prince-bishoprics of medieval Europe, (such as Montenegro, already mentioned) served as theocratic states where the bishop held both spiritual and temporal power. These prince-bishops were often appointed through a combination of hereditary succession and election by religious or noble bodies, reflecting a governance model that balanced inherited rights with the endorsement of peers or the clergy. Today prince-bishoprics that are actively-functioning civil states are Andorra (which lies between Spain and France) and the Vatican City. 

A Fusion of Heritage and Duty

The governance of the United Roman-Ruthenian Church and the Pontifical Imperial State of Rome-Ruthenia is a fascinating blend of hereditary rights and elective processes. This unique system, rooted in historical traditions of prince-bishops and hereditary ecclesiastical offices, showcases the intricate ways in which spiritual and temporal powers can be united under a single leadership. The office of Bishop of Rome-Ruthenia embodies this fusion, bringing together a vast array of secular heritage intertwined with a deep commitment to ecclesiastical duties. The Bishop's duty is to uphold a legacy that is both ancient and perpetually relevant.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Easter Message from His Holiness Bishop Rutherford I: A Beacon of Hope

By J. DuBois

ROME-RUTHENIA 31 March 2024 (NRom)

The Bishop of Rome-Ruthenia's annual Easter Blessing Ex Urbe this year was a profound reminder of hope and transformation. Through his words, a pathway to peace and brotherhood is illuminated. His Holiness Bishop Rutherford I, Papa-Catholicos of Rome-Ruthenia urged introspection for those lacking peace, highlighting the Church's supportive role in personal transformation. "If you are not at peace, then look inside yourself at your beliefs and change them. The Church is here to help," he said.  Moreover, at its core, the United Roman-Ruthenian Church's mission is to foster global harmony. The Supreme Pontiff's message reiterates this commitment, standing as a beacon for peace and brotherhood in the world. The complete text of the allocution is as follows: 


Christus resurgens est! Христос воскрес! Christ is risen! In a world rife with uncertainty and turmoil,  people today seem to be on a never-ending quest for meaning. Indeed, people often feel lost and shackled by the complexities of life. However, amidst the chaos, there is a beacon of hope and freedom that has been guiding humanity for two thousand years. It is the Faith of Christ. At the core of our religion is the belief that true liberation and hope can only be found in Christ, particularly through the profound mystery of the Resurrection, which we celebrate today and will celebrate again on the 5th of May. 

Remember, brethren, that Christianity offers a path to inner peace through introspection and transformation of beliefs, with the Church playing a pivotal role as a source of support, for the Church stands as a testament to the ideals of peace and brotherhood. If you are not at peace, then look inside yourself at your beliefs and change them. The Church is here to help. 

At the heart of the doctrine of the faith is a promise that transcends the chains of worldly existence—freedom in Christ. This concept is not about physical liberation but rather a profound spiritual awakening that liberates us from sin, despair, and ultimately, death. The Resurrection of Christ is the cornerstone of this belief, offering not just a glimpse but a concrete hope in life beyond this world, a life of eternal peace and joy in the presence of God.

The message of the Resurrection is powerful; it tells us that the trials and tribulations of life are temporary, and in Christ we have the victory over them. It is a message that particularly resonates with anyone who has felt the weight of suffering and seeks a reason to hope, for in our suffering, we united ourselves to Christ on the Cross. Yet, whatever our life path has been or will be, the Resurrection assures us that our struggles are not in vain and that in embracing Christ, we embrace a freedom far beyond the confines of our earthly limitations.

Let us consider also that inner peace is a state coveted by many but achieved by few. It is a journey that begins with a critical look at oneself, particularly one's beliefs. Our beliefs shape our thoughts, actions, and ultimately, our realities. When we are not at peace, it often signals a discord between our internal beliefs and the reality we live in. The key to resolving this is a willingness to introspect and adapt these beliefs. The Christian faith, through the teaching authority of the Apostolic Church, provides a framework for this introspection, for the faith teaches the inner peace, calm, and tranquility only comes through Christ. Thus we must examine our lives through the lens of the teachings of Christ and make necessary adjustments. This process is not about self-judgment but about aligning oneself more closely with the principles of love, forgiveness, and grace. The Church in her teaching authority is a community that offers guidance, support, and encouragement through this journey of self-reflection and growth. For those struggling to find peace and balance, look within, evaluate your beliefs, and never hesitate to seek the Church's timeless wisdom. It is a journey that can lead to profound transformations, bringing one closer to a state of peace that transcends understanding, for, once again, such a peace can only come through Christ.

Next, on this Paschal feast, We reiterate the United Roman-Ruthenian Church's commitment to the ideal of worldwide Christian unity and brotherhood, not just in words but in deeds. Through our various outreach programs, dialogues for peace, and other efforts, the Church actively works towards creating a world where love triumphs over hate, and unity over division. 

In a world in which governments and people talk so much about freedom and peace, the teachings of Christ offer a path forward. That path acknowledges our struggles but promises a victory in Christ. It is a journey that calls for introspection and transformation of beliefs; and a mission that seeks to unite us in love and peace.

The United Roman-Ruthenian Church, along with the broader Christian community, stands ready to guide and support all who embark on this journey. Remember that it is a journey not just towards personal liberation and peace but towards a world that reflects the kingdom of God—where love, peace, and brotherhood triumph, and our Lord Jesus Christ reigns supreme. In embracing this path, we find true hope for the world.