30 January 2014

Address to Churches Together in Mayfair: at Byzantine Vespers in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2014

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

23 January 2014

Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family, London

Address to Churches Together in Mayfair

Exodus 19. 3-8

We love to describe ourselves as what the Lord meant us to be for him, as his own people – a Kingdom of priests, a holy nation. But we are less keen on the other side of the covenant we entered, when we said, “Whatever the Lord has said, we will do”.

What did the Lord say? On the night before he died, he said, “Father, as you and I are one, may they all be one, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me.” Well, he said it; and we say we will do it.

The trouble is that we have been saying we will do it for hundreds of years. What we have meant is that we will bring about unity when other people come round to our ways, and when we can prevail as they submit. Each of us belongs to a Church body that we think is, in some ways, the right one; each of us thinks our take on the Truth is truer, at least for us and our way of thinking; each one of us thinks our Church body is better organised for the task in hand, or is a more faithful embodiment of the Gospel.  Yes; we must be faithful to the vision we have each been given and the call that each Church body has received. But it is not the end of the story for any of us. The principle and integrity, to which we cleave and which appear to keep us divided now, should be seen only in the light of the unity of the Church from which all derives and to which all returns. Thus the times when a Church exhorted others to give in, and to come round to its position ought to be long gone (though some people still try it on). Apart from anything else, it is futile. For example, we live in an age where people are loyal to the banks, the shops, the TV stations and the clothing brands they know; but they feel quite at liberty to change, and not to be defined by anyone other than what they choose. The more we try to force an identity on people, the more people will suit themselves, especially if it is over against others. People will feel they can take this from here and that from there, making up a Church to their taste, and retuning Gospel message only to the frequency they want to hear. So, forcing an identity on a Church body that is not natural to it would undermine what each of us, in our different Church bodies, is witnessing to as the Truth that we possess: that there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father, and one Church in the life of the Spirit. We are right, each of us, to say we have the Truth and that we are the true Church – but only if we remember that this will only make complete sense when we are utterly united and can be seen to be at one. In the meantime, to be partisan and competitive about our Church is not to be faithful to the integrity of the faith that we have received and follow in conscience, but to make it just one more competing choice among many.

The famous 1910 Edinburgh Mission Conference - the start of the modern ecumenical movement - was a concerted effort to end rivalry between European and North American Churches in world missionary endeavours. It had been realised that Churches’ self-interest was an obstacle to presenting the Gospel. The penny had dropped – the Churches were not one, but many: and people who had begun to listen about Christ would hear no more, because the noisy messages of a Presbyterian Christ, a Lutheran Christ, a Catholic Christ were unbelievable.

When Pope Benedict came to visit us three and a half years ago, he reminded us in the magnificent Anglican Evensong in the Abbey that, however far we have come in love and friendship, however closely we work together on addressing the ills and injustices of the world side by side, however great our solidarity in spirit is, nonetheless our disunity in living together the Church’s and sharing in the risen Christ’s own Body at worship means that, to the world, we fail to give a convincing account of the hope that lies within us.

Yesterday, Pope Francis said much the same thing, but in his usual direct way.  He said,

It is good to recognise the grace with which God blesses us and, moreover, to find in other Christians something which we need, something we can receive as a gift from our brothers and sisters. The Canadian group which has prepared this Prayer Week has not invited the communities to think about what they might give to their Christian neighbours, but rather … to understand what all communities can receive from time to time from the others. This requires something more. It requires humility, reflection and continual conversion. Let us follow this path, praying for Christian unity and an end to this scandal.

106 years ago in 1908, the Anglican rector of Moreton-in-Marsh, Spencer Jones, and a Roman Catholic Franciscan friar in New York, Paul Wattson, after six years of correspondence, became so thoroughly convinced in their own minds of the scandal of disunity that they set up a Church Unity Octave - a whole week of prayer from 18 to 25 January. The Anglican believed that his Church, even though it was a towering presence in English Church and Society as a whole, was nonetheless cut off from the universal Church of which it saw itself as a part. He was penetratingly clear of the need for the Church of England and the Catholic Church to reunite, not to change the Church of England into something it was not, but so that together - and in the harness of the same faith - they could strengthen each other’s proclamation of the Gospel - and be believed. At the same time, the Catholic in New York realised that his Roman Catholic Church, for all that he saw it to be possessed of everything needed for the Church to be fully the Church of Jesus Christ, is nonetheless lacking in something: those who do not belong to it! He saw too that it lacked the many blessings in faith and holiness that had clearly been bestowed on others in abundance. Surely God did not give spiritual treasure to his People, so that only some could benefit to the exclusion of others? He longed for unity and to receive and grow through the same holy gifts. By the same token, he longed for other Christians to see what he loved in the Catholic Church and come to love it as a gift for them to long for too. But he refused to pray against other Churches, or their beliefs. He and his English Anglican friend desired the Church and the Christians who belong to it to be drawn together in one Church.

Twenty five years later, a French priest, the beloved Paul Couturier, was taken up with the same idea. But he saw that Christian Unity, and the sharing of God’s spiritual riches that we have received while we are apart, can never be enjoyed by offloading them onto others unbidden, by imposing them because we think we know better or think we ARE better, teaching other people what we think they need to learn. No; in the divided Church as it is in the world, we can only share in these divine gifts, by asking to receive them, not as little commodities to suit our individual tastes, but as part of what make the whole Church universal. Couturier had this idea that we could take on each other’s gifts of God’s blessings and then outdo each other in growing in them. We could thus vie with each other in advancing in holiness, drawing closer to Christ from where we started out in isolation, until we were united in him and found ourselves united to each other. Thus he thought our parallel lives would converge as we grew in love, and faith and spiritual knowledge.

Nevertheless, here we are, 106 years after Spencer Jones and Paul Wattson first became impatient, still disunited. Here we are, a Kingdom of priests, saying we will do what the Lord says, but not obeying his prayer - addressed as much to us as to his Father – that we be one, so that the world might believe. Here we are finding ever new reasons to back up our separations and to continue to go on in our preferable own way. As Pope Francis says, it is a scandal. And as the world tells us, with its deeply unanswered questioning, we are unconvincing.

Yet to lose heart after all these years of prayer together is to forget what we have seen. The Lord reminds is of “how I carried you away on eagles’ wings and brought you to me”. We have come so far.

We understand that we do not need all to be the same, in order to be Christian. The Pope, like his predecessors, reminds us that other Christians teach us the things we still need. We can attend each other’s worship and combine our efforts to meet the needs of the world. We draw on each others’ traditions and are constantly enriched as we do so. This service tonight is in its way a small miracle. The Ukrainian Church this week is facing a deep crisis in the country that is its homeland; nonetheless it desires to play its part as an integral part of the Christian Church here in England. It brings with it the tradition of ancient Christian Byzantium, in its fusion of monastic psalms and hymns, with the drama of the light, the incense and the icons that are at the heart of Eastern Christian devotion to our Lord, as somehow we pass into the courts of heaven as we worship in the Church below. (Hymns were not only invented in recent English history - tonight’s come from the first millennium!) And after Vespers there will be more recent Christmas and Epiphany carols from Ukraine. Thus English-language Christianity, the liturgy of the Christian Roman emperors and the music of Ukrainians all come together, as do we, joined by beauty in worship and hope.

In this giving and receiving, it is as though there is something in our Christianity - when it is truly the faith of Christ - that is restless for as long as it is not the faith that can be shared with and embraced by all who love and follow Jesus our Lord. We have been learning for years, almost without noticing, to go beyond ourselves, so as to find how to be more truly the Church that is Universal, with the whole faith, in the whole Christ, for the whole of humanity. We have all looked at our Churches and asked ourselves, “Can we imagine what more can be added, what new space can be opened up in our Church, so that it can also be the home that others can recognise as their own?” All of our Churches have acted on this questioning in the past, and it has made us what we are today. For instance, the Catholic Church has learned not to be a monolithic institution but a communion of Churches, movements, and new ideas that can embrace people in the way that God has called them to hear his gospel.  We have our parishes, priest, bishops, dioceses and religious orders, but we also have our new lay-led renewal and evangelical mission movements, offering and exploring new ways of being the Church for England’s people.

The Catholic Church does not wish simply to be a Roman Catholic denomination, but to be more and more like the universal Church, honouring and embracing the Church of others on their own terms but in complete communion of united life and faith. I like to hope that the Ordinariate, for instance, will one day come to be seen as a way for the Catholic Church to embrace a religious tradition from which it was once estranged and live out in a prophetic way that Anglicans and Catholics can live as one in communion, united not absorbed, not amalgamated and assimilated, but in the lively, diverse, abundant communion of all the People of God in the one Body of Christ His Son. There is great ecumenical potential to be tapped and it should bring us close in respect, understanding and conscientious faith.

Likewise the Salvation Army, which every Christian in this land loves and rejoices in, represents a movement that was organised to meet the needs of the poor and destitute, and to bring them to the love of Christ on his Cross, in a way that no other Church could at the time. It still meets those that not all of us can. We have all gained so much from the gift of confidence in each other and trust from God that means we can do this work alongside each other, with mutual encouragement and mutual reliance. The Church of England, too, with its cultural-spiritual heritage, its liturgical and musical tradition, as well as its pastoral mission visible and active into every corner of the country, is a resource for the whole Church that is never static. For instance, it has sought to be imaginative in fresh expressions of Christianity that can meet the religious awareness of contemporary people but still take root in the wider Church. Even the Grosvenor Chapel began as a “fresh expression,” addressing unmet needs, and to this day creating distinctive Christian community. From all this, in a bewildering world of beliefs to choose, both sacred and secular, we learn that none of us can make it separately. We rely on each other, not only for aid and support, but for learning more about how Christ’s is the pattern we live as His Body, the pattern for the whole of humanity that stands in His image.

Thus the prayers of 106 weeks of prayer have been richly answered. The miracle of unity, when it is achieved will be God’s. We can take down our sinful man-made barriers and persist on the journey whose destination was determined at the outset. We should not fail to see how the Lord has taught us to turn to each other in our need to learn, and moreover planted that seed of imagination of how it could be - what it would be like - if we in our currently separate Churches could live as one, solid Church, a rock that the world could rely on and believe when they see it.

20 January 2014

Long divisions that plague the Church: Article about Orthodox-Catholic unity in The Tablet

In 1923, a schoolteacher priest of Lyon started devoting his spare time to helping the 10,000 refugees from Bolshevism camped and lodged around the city and its suburbs. It was his first encounter with a Christianity that was not Roman Catholic. Thus he learned the friendship of receiving as well as giving, finding great respect for the Orthodox clergy and people in their moment of destitution, as his heart opened to their faith and the beauty of their worship. He was astonished to find Catholics from the old Russian Empire who were not Latins, but Eastern Christians who maintained their unity with the Bishop of Rome with roots to before the Great Schism. Over the next decade, Paul Couturier became convinced of the need for Christian unity, and in 1935 he took hold of the Catholic Church Unity Octave, founded in 1908, and developed it into a “Universal Week of Prayer for the Unity of Christians in the charity and truth of Christ”. Inspired by the holiness of the Orthodox, beyond this world he imagined an “invisible monastery”, in which all could unite in prayer to God in Heaven, in the hope of seeing the same union realised in the Church here. He took for his motto the saying of Metropolitan Platon Gorodetsky of Kiev: “The walls of separation do not rise as far as Heaven.”

In answer to 105 Weeks of Prayer so far, considerable grace has been bestowed. All along, the 1,000-year separation between Christians of East and West has spurred us to overcome sinful division, and yet seek unity with integrity, respecting the faith that each professes. Thus the World Council of Churches, partly founded to promote reconciliation for all humanity after the degradation of the Second World War, enjoys the full membership of the Orthodox Church alongside the Churches that developed after the Western Reformation. The World Council and the Catholic Church are joint members of the even older Commission on Faith and Order, one of whose tasks is the organisation of each year’s Week of Prayer. For 50 years, the great families of Churches have undertaken ­searching theological dialogues, even if new challenges have been emerging. These have gone far towards profound mutual awareness of our belief and teaching, repeatedly consigning estrangement and rivalry to the past.

The same desire for unity, something more than ecumenism, is replicated in thousands of concrete examples of our Churches’ shared projects and resources in the service of the Kingdom in wider society, spiritual life in common through prayer, pilgrimage and study, and proclamation alongside each other of the same Christ before the world. Over the last year, it has been remarkable to see Christians of all kinds take Pope Francis to their hearts and sustain him with their prayers. It has been especially striking to hear Orthodox clergy and people observe how in contemporary society, with its secularising pressures and the globalisation that has sent the West east and the East west, our various Catholic and Orthodox Churches live beside each other, and how we need to rely on each other more and more. In this country, for instance, the steady development of English-speaking Orthodox Churches, together with the considerable influx of Eastern Christians from Russia, Ukraine and Romania, means that local Orthodox and Catholic priests are getting to know each other better, share similar concerns on family life, teach Christian ­discipleship in the Church from a similar ­outlook on the world, and seek to work more closely together, for instance, on the education of children, church schools, chaplaincy in ­hospitals and prison, and the education and formation of adults and priests. Only last week, Pope Francis gave his blessing to the Catholic Committee for Cultural Collaboration between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, which supports Orthodox laypeople and clergy studying in Catholic academic institutions. In its fourth year, the Centre for Eastern Christianity at Heythrop is a significant means for just such encounters for mutual learning here in England.

During Pope Benedict’s pontificate, the Moscow patriarchate picked up on his call for a New Evangelisation and pledged itself to an alliance with the Roman Catholic Church in what it called the struggle for the soul of Old Europe. The installation of Pope Francis was attended by many Orthodox representatives, led for the first time by the Ecumenical ­Patriarch, Bartholomew of Constantinople, whom he addressed as “my brother Andrew”. Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the head of the department for external affairs of the Moscow patriarchate, has since returned to Rome to speak at a conference jointly arranged with the Pontifical Council for the Family. In the last few weeks, when asked about the prospects for a papal visit to Russia, he confirmed that the problems first to be resolved are not dogmatic, but rather ones which, he says, need clarification through dialogue.

But the way ahead is not all clear. Patriarch Bartholomew has just convoked the heads of the Orthodox Churches to discuss plans for the next preparatory commission ahead of the forth­coming Pan-Orthodox Synod scheduled for 2015. Bartholomew is concerned that in the present world the Orthodox Church as a whole needs to work more closely together and discuss how, beyond their respective homelands, the different Orthodox Churches relate to the other in the diaspora, as well as to the other Christian Churches. The invitation came at the same time as Moscow released its long-awaited position statement on the Ravenna document from the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches in 2006. This ­examined the role of primacy in the universal Church and thus the role of the Roman papacy. It looked behind the theories ­developed over 1,000 years of separate ­development, in search of how it functioned historically in the first 1,000 years of ­communion. Yet the modern Russian Church’s memory post-dates this shared experience and its own perspective is of “home rule” from Moscow. Thus the statement sees the universal Church as a communion of self-governing Churches, in which the Bishop of Rome possesses no overall jurisdiction but simply a primacy of honour. The statement has won strongly worded ripostes from the ecumenical ­patriarchate, identifying an exclusive ­nationalism and self-marginalisation on Moscow’s part that has no place in Orthodoxy. As one senior Orthodox ecumenist has observed, “Before we can talk to you Catholics about union again, we Orthodox need to come to agreement among ourselves.”

But the Russian Orthodox Church – by far the largest – sees itself as the natural leader in Orthodoxy and thus, for all practical purposes, the crucial interlocutor with the Catholic Church as its peer. It sees a contrast between successive Popes’ call for ­“communion, not jurisdiction” and how the Eastern Catholic Churches are perceived to be managed by a department of the Latin Roman pontiff’s Curia. Like many Orthodox, it is looking to see if Pope Francis’ curial reform will alter the role of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches in those Churches’ ­governance and relationship with the Bishop of Rome. Will they be self-ruling like Moscow? Could there be synodality between pope and patriarchs?

At the same time, Moscow’s self-understanding as the leader of all the Eastern Christians in its region – including the Belarussians and the Ukrainians – makes for an uneasy relationship with the reality of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church. Persecuted by Stalin and forced to conform to the Russian Church or go underground for four decades, it is once more threatened with legal deregistration, amid the Ukrainian Government’s difficulties with a substantial yet peaceful pro-Western protest movement that it falsely links to the Greek-Catholic bishops. At the same time, the Moscow Patriarchate stresses that the alliance it desires with the papacy is with a firmly Roman Catholic Church.

With so many considerations and principles for all sides at play, the unity we pray for is not going to come easily. But the desire for Catholic-Orthodox communion is perhaps stronger than ever and in May it will take Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew to pray for it with all their heart and strength in Jerusalem.

Mark Woodruff,
The Tablet, 18 January 2014

12 January 2014

Nativity Homily for the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedal English Divine Liturgy, 11 January 2014

Nativity of Our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ
Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family of London
Sunday after Nativity, 11 January 2014
A few days before Christmas I visited the wonderful German Christmas Fair on the South Bank. With all its bright stalls, I hoped to be able to buy some presents at the last minute. My eye was caught by some pottery, unmistakably Palestinian. The stallholder told me it was from East Jerusalem and there were the familiar designs of fruit and flowers, loaves and fishes, birds and deer, and intricate, geometric patterns. Soon the seller and I got to talking. I told him that for a year I had worked in East Jerusalem; he knew the very house where I had lived. I was a Christian and he a Muslim. We commiserated over the plight of the Palestinian people, Christian and Muslim alike, and the peace that eludes both Arab and Jew in the Holy Land. He told me that he hated those who terrorise and kill in the name of Islam, since its name implies peace; and thus he recalled that in his religion there is supposed to be respect for Jews and Christians. “We are all the children of Abraham,” he told me, “and we share the same faith in one God. There should be no difference between us. In fact, there is no difference between us. Between the Christians and the Muslims there is only one, tiny difference: Jesus and who he was.”
But “Jesus and who He was” makes all the difference. We are not talking about a prophet from long ago. We are talking about Jesus and who He IS. In the Epistle to the Hebrews, the apostle begins by making it clear that, while God spoke to us in the past through prophets, His last word is not through, but in, His Son. Jesus is not a prophet of Islam, later to be superseded by Mohammed. Even out of a well-meaning desire to be respectful towards the beliefs of our Muslim fellow-citizens and friends, we Christians must at all costs and in honest charity avoid disrespecting our own and referring to the great spiritual leader who was the founder of Islam as “the Prophet”, lest it be taken as our recognition that Jesus was but one prophet in a line completed with Mohammed. He is not our prophet, nor is he God’s last word to us. God’s last word became incarnate, and what used to be spoken to us in prophet’s words is now embodied in a human person whose followers have always recognised as being the Son of God.
Saying that Jesus is the Son of God does not mean that He is lower down than the Father, a little less of God than God. It means that He shares the same nature as the Father and comes from nowhere else but Him. A human son is not less of a human being than his father, but shares one and the same nature. Thus we describe someone who has grown up to be worthy of his parents as “a true son of his father”. By analogy, we likewise recognise in Jesus the Father, whose life, nature and glory He reflects and shares as the Son. The beloved, late Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Michael Ramsey, used to put it the other way round, “In God the Father, there is no unChristlikeness at all.” This is no mere poetic imagery. From the Church’s earliest moments, insisting on the title, “Son of God”, for Christ Jesus alone was costly and hard won. Prior to the birth of Jesus, the first of the Roman Emperors, Octavian Augustus, was hailed as Divi Filius, the son adopted by the deified Julius Caesar. He was praised as the son of a god for single-handedly bringing peace, order and prosperity to a once divided empire. You can see the inscriptions to this day in Rome. But to the Christians, the only bringer of lasting peace, peace on earth and peace between God and humanity, the only true Son of God, is Jesus. Thus with the Roman emperors began the long history of persecution of Christians for not worshipping human rulers as if they were above the earth and heaven that has lasted to this day.
Worshipping Christ as Son of God alone remains controversial. The week running up to Christmas I received an email from the Melkite Greek-Catholic Patriarchate in Antioch documenting the 88 church buildings and charitable institutions of all denominations that had been attacked, damaged or destroyed. On Christmas Eve came news of three more. This is to say nothing of the harrowing of thousands of Christians far from home, including two archbishops from Aleppo, an entire convent of nuns from the city of Malloula where the language of Christ himself, Aramaic had been spoken to this day, and the clergy and young people whose lives have been claimed from them for the sake of simply following and putting their trust in the Son of God.
Out into the cold winter, there are those who are bent on evicting Christianity from the land which cradled it. The Melkite patriarch Gregorius often says that while the Son of God was cradled in Bethlehem, it was in Syria that his Body the Church was cradled. It was here that Christianity was truly brought to birth, for it was in Syria that we were first called Christians for loving Christ, for loving each other and for loving all in His Name. And two thousand years after the Nativity of the Son of God in the nature of human beings remains a scandal. It is so incomprehensible that to some it is unthinkable and unacceptable. It is so astonishing that it has to be taken down. That God should become human to be part of us, so that we can become part of him, is something so beautiful that humanity cannot bear to behold it without defacing it. The pain of looking on it is exquisite, for the meaning of the Son of God made Son of Man is that Love, which will never depart from us, cannot be faced unless we recognise that He has come not in force but to embrace us in living with Him the very life of God, able no longer to avoid God but to call on Him as Father, truly His sons and daughters.
It is not a question of following a prophet, or a great spiritual teacher, or a leader who founded a great historic faith. The passage of time has not changed the fact that something happened that turned nature inside out and altered everything about its relationship with its Creator. We Christians see it as nothing short of miraculous that a human child was born to us and that he is Son of God. The Christian does not explain this away as myth or even magic. For the miracle of God is not to work against nature or confront it, but to take it on and work through it. Last year, the great broadcaster Melvyn Bragg led a radio discussion on the arguments in the early Church about “Jesus and who He is”, loosely describing Him as “half God and half man”. But if He is half God, He only gets us halfway to God. If He is half man, He only gets God halfway to us. This is a mere hero, not a Saviour. This is what a Roman emperor wanted to be, a superman, and everything he thus could never be – never fully the Son of heaven, because he never came from heaven to become fully a son of the children of men.
A few years ago one Christmas morning I went privately to a packed, small Catholic church in south London. There was no ceremony and no organ to accompany our carols. All the parish’s energy had evidently gone into making special the masses of Christmas Eve and I was fretting that the many visitors would be left with a rather flat impression of our Christmas joy. That was until I heard the sermon, which went as follows.
Yesterday evening for the Vigil Mass, we asked the children to bring their favourite toy animal – not the one they didn’t want any more, but their favourite – and place it in the Crib through Christmastide alongside the shepherd’s sheep, the inkeeper’s ox, St Joseph’s donkey and the Wise Men’s camel. It was beautiful to see the children so devout as they lovingly put their cherished teddies, My Little Ponies, baby hippos and elephants, giraffes and birds and squirrels into the Crib. All through Christmas, those children’s hearts will be adoring our Lord too. It was beautiful Mass and I though all had gone really well until afterwards an older parishioner told me off on the way out. “I can just understand toy bears and farm animals, father. But the rest made a mockery of Christmas. There is no place for a lobster in the Crib.” I replied, “I know. It’s as crazy to put a toy lobster in a Crib as it is for God to put His Son in a human being. But He did.”
God may have begun to speak to us in the past in stories and signs, in prophets and heroic spiritual masters, but for two thousand years his last Word to us on everything has been Jesus, the Son of God. This Word makes all the difference for it is not merely the Word from God, and not merely the Word to us – it is God’s Word dwelling richly in us, full of grace and truth, full of hope and love, full of faith and life. To this day this, the only, Son of God makes all the difference; and, even now, people risk everything in Syria, Egypt and Iraq, in Belarus, Nigeria and southern Asia to follow Him – even life itself. We are one with them.
For when we say, “Christ is born”, we are not looking back with nostalgia, or even with happy memory. We are looking to the present and to the future. We see that Christ is being born in us now, again and again, with all the purpose and confidence for our sake that brought him to us in the first place. At the coming once more of “The Only Son from Heaven”, let all our hopes and fears meet in Him as humanity’s only true hope and salvation. Let us again place our confidence in Him and adore Him as the One who first loved us. In the words of our much loved English Christmas hymn, let this be our prayer not just for us but for all who hope for peace and goodness, truth and justice to come finally and reign:
O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray:
Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.