National Anthem: Star Spangled Banner – Meaning of “hireling and slave” – Singing along with Whitney Houston!

O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner, O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country, should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!


The lyrics were written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key about the Battle of Baltimore fought against the Brits’ Royal Navy in 1812. The Brits just wouldn’t let it go, and had to engage again, and so lost again, almost thirty years after the end of the Revolutionary War. The Royal Navy would enlist mercenaries, the “hirelings” mentioned in the third verse, and enslave Prisoners of War to fight for them as well, the “slaves” mentioned in the third verse.

Why do I insist on this having nothing whatsoever even remotely to do with black African slaves when Key himself was a slave owner who lived long before the American Civil War? Because of the purpose of the song and what it is describing, that is, a particular night of battle in the harbor of Baltimore against the Royal Navy in which hirelings and slaves were employed in the battle by the Royal Navy, surely other Brits or POW American military.

Even if a tiny percentage of these hirelings and slaves happened to be black Africans, possibly most recently from the United States, the mentions of those hirelings and slaves wouldn’t refer to any previous status of slavery, but only to the slavery imposed by the Royal Navy on any POWs. To win this battle in Baltimore, there would be no interest in going to, say, Mississippi, and killing hirelings and slaves. Why? It’s ridiculous.


Filed under Brat Lies Matter, Military, Patriotism, Politics

When Padre Pio met Saint Michael. When Father Byers knew nothing at all.

elijah judas tree

Elijah with the flaming fiery sword on Mount Carmel, Israel.

You can read things dozens of times over the years and just not “get it” at all. That’s me. But this year when I read the following letter of Padre Pio, I was mesmerized. I now know a bit more just how much I absolutely don’t know anything about the spiritual life. I have written academically about that of which he speaks, the flaming sword. I am vindicated on that academic level at least, for I am alone across the millennia in what I have written. But on a spiritual level, well, I am thrust to the ground in deep humiliation, for I obviously know nothing of the spiritual life. But at least I know that I know nothing. These days, that’s something. And it’s way more than enough to ask for this great saint’s help. Apologies are given in advance for the inadequacy of [my comments] below. You can see from my Coat of Arms (thanks to Elizdelphi! No words on the banner yet) that I am grateful to have written about the sword of which Padre Pio speaks…


From the Letters of Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, priest (Epist. I, 1065; 1093-1095)

I will raise my voice and will not stop imploring him

“Out of obedience I am obliged to manifest to you what happened to me on the evening of the 5th of this month of August 1918 [Vigil of the Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus] and all day on the 6th [Feast of the Transfiguration].


“I am quite unable to convey to you what occurred during this period of utter torment. While I was hearing the boys’ confessions on the evening of the 5th [making them saints!], I was suddenly terrorized by the sight of a celestial person [an angel, a cherub] who presented himself to my mind’s eye [So, not an apparition, but entirely spiritual. People think angels are all fluffy chiffon pastels and cutesy cutesy. Pio speaks of torment and terror, and this angel is from heaven!]. He had in his hand a sort of weapon [“weapon”] like a very long sharp-pointed steel blade which seemed to emit fire. [This is the sword mentioned in Genesis 3:24. It is the sword which “turns into its contrary by way of the fiery grace of enmity against Satan and by way of friendship with God whatever is presented to it.” This is the sword with which the Carmelites depict Elijah. This is the sword of Saint Michael. This is the sword of Saint Teresa of Avila…] At the very instant that I saw all this, I saw that person hurl the weapon into my soul with all his might. [Seeing that a cherub could crush the entire universe if given permission from the Most High, this is saying really a lot…] I cried out with difficulty and felt I was dying. I asked the boys to leave because I felt ill and no longer had the strength to continue. [What an understatement of all time. They must have been scared for him.] This agony lasted uninterruptedly until the morning of the 7th. I cannot tell you how much I suffered during this period of anguish. Even my entrails were torn and ruptured by the weapon, [“weapon”] and nothing was spared. [“nothing” – and here I try to hang on to this and that. And in doing that I am totally lacking in generosity. I’ve done nothing in my life. I’ve not laid down my life as so many have done. Pio is going through his purgatory all at once, 40 some hours for him. And what would I do, I who surely have a purgatory lasting until the end of the world?]


Elijah’s fiery sword on the Discalced Carmelite Coat of Arms

“From that day on I have been mortally wounded. [And this is no longer his wound, but that of humanity, with Pio now being in solidarity with Jesus on the Cross even as Jesus is in solidarity with us, loving us while we are yet sinners, drawing all to Himself as He is lifted up on the Cross. And we watch with Him…] I feel in the depths of my soul a wound that is always open and which causes me continual agony. What can I tell you in answer to your questions regarding my crucifixion? My God! What embarrassment and humiliation I suffer by being obliged to explain what you have done to this wretched creature! [For we do nothing to save ourselves. Jesus is our Savior. We come to realize this. We are nothing. He is all. He shows us what He has saved us from, and not just us, me, but we see how He has saved all of us as we gain some heightened perspective on the cross.]


“On the morning of the 20th of last month [two weeks later], in the choir [making the traditional thanksgiving prayers after Mass], after I had celebrated Mass I yielded to a drowsiness similar to a sweet sleep. All the internal and external senses and even the very faculties of my soul were immersed in indescribable stillness. Absolute silence surrounded and invaded me. I was suddenly filled with great peace and abandonment which effaced everything else and caused a lull in the turmoil. All this happened in a flash. While this was taking place I saw before me a mysterious person similar to the one I had seen on the evening of August 5th. [We entertain angels and even the Son of Man and do not know it. How much the angels reflect the Son of Man! And the fiery love of God, issuing from the throne of the Most High, from the Heart of Him who loves us so much, is just that fierce on that sword which transforms us utterly in God’s love.] The only difference was that his hands and feet and side were dripping blood. This sight terrified me and what I felt at that moment is indescribable. I thought I should die and really should have died if the Lord had not intervened and strengthened my heart which was about to burst out of my chest. [We are utterly weak. It is all Jesus.] The vision disappeared and I became aware that my hands, feet and side were dripping blood. Imagine the agony I experienced and continue to experience almost every day. [He speaks also and especially of his embarrassment, for he, as all of us from Adam until the last man is conceived, caused those wounds in our Lord. How is it that he, Pio, or any of us could share such wounds of love for all those Jesus has redeemed and wills to save?] The heart wound bleeds continually, especially from Thursday evening until Saturday.


Padre Pio reprimanding the Bishop about the Seal of Confession.

“Dear Father, I am dying of pain because of the wounds and the resulting embarrassment I feel deep in my soul. I am afraid I shall bleed to death if the Lord does not hear my heartfelt supplication to relieve me of this condition. Will Jesus, who is so good, grant me this grace? Will he at least free me from the embarrassment caused by these outward signs? [The embarrassment, mind you, is more than enough to end his life on this earth.] I will raise my voice and will not stop imploring him until in his mercy he takes away, not the wound or the pain, which is impossible since I wish to be inebriated with pain, but these outward signs which cause me such embarrassment and unbearable humiliation. The person of whom I spoke in a previous letter is none other than the one I mentioned having seen on August 5th. He continues his work incessantly, causing me extreme spiritual agony. There is a continual rumbling within me like the gushing of blood. [This Hebrew description of this sword in Genesis 3:24 (which I think I am the very first to translate pedantically, as it really is just that difficult), the sword which the angel is mashing around inside Pio is variously and wrongly translated as the twirling sword, the sword which moves about this way and that, etc., is, instead, “the sword which causes that which is presented to it to be transformed into its contrary.” Thus, we don’t take from the Tree of the Living Ones, though we can humbly receive its fruit (the Eucharist from the Cross).] My God! Your punishment is just and your judgment right, but grant me your mercy. Lord, with your Prophet I shall continue to repeat: O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger; do not punish me in your rage! Dear Father, now that my whole interior state is known to you, do not refuse to send me a word of comfort in the midst of such severe and harsh suffering.” [If it were I who had to respond to him, knowing I know nothing, but despite that, I would say that in our very reception of mercy we must show mercy to the rest of the members of the Body of Christ, those whom Jesus has redeemed and wills to save. Our suffering is occasioned by the lack of others, lack of faith, etc., but it is not their cross we carry, but instead we come to know what we would be like if we ourselves were to be without the grace of our Lord in therefore our lack of faith, etc…. and our remaining in friendship by the grace of God in such horrific circumstances acts as an intercession for those who are truly without faith, etc. This is drawing all to Christ on the cross in solidarity with Jesus, who does this by His grace. He, the Head of the Body does this, but we are members of that Body and we are with Him. If we only knew! If we only knew! Now Pio had his eyes opened, his soul torn open, his hands and feet and heart torn open. But it’s all Jesus. Jesus’ love taking on our lack. Embarrassing to us? Yes. And we run away. Pio couldn’t run any more. The angel presented himself, and, fiercely raising his weapon of God’s love… I know nothing. Saint Pio: help this donkey-priest to come to know Jesus! Help all of us priests!]


Filed under Confession, Missionaries of Mercy, Priesthood, Saints, Spiritual life, Vocations

Boys gives out free hugs and donuts to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Dept.


Full story on FoxNewsInsider (sent in by a reader on the other side of the world).

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Filed under Officer Down!

Padre Pio’s letter to Pope Paul VI on Humanae Vitae just before he died


Your Holiness:

Availing myself of Your Holiness’ meeting with the Capitular Fathers, I unite myself in spirit with my Brothers, and in a spirit of faith, love and obedience to the greatness of Him whom you represent on earth, offer my respectful homage to Your August Person, humbly kneeling at Your feet.

The Capuchin Order has always been among the first in their love, fidelity and reverence for the Holy See. I pray the Lord that its members remain ever thus, continuing their tradition of seriousness and religious asceticism evangelical poverty, faithful observance of the Rule and Constitutions, renewing themselves in vigorous living and deep interior spirit—always ready, at the least gesture from Your Holiness, to go forward at once to assist the Church in her needs.

I know that Your heart suffers much these days on account of the happenings in the Church: for peace in the world, for the great needs of its peoples; but above all, for the lack of obedience of some, even Catholics, to the lofty teachings which You, assisted by the Holy Spirit and in the name of God, have given us. I offer Your Holiness my daily prayers and sufferings, the insignificant but sincere offering of the least of your sons, asking the Lord to comfort you with His grace to continue along the direct yet often burdensome way—in defense of those eternal truths which can never change with the times.

In the name of my spiritual sons and of the “Praying Groups” I thank Your Holiness for the clear and decisive words You have spoken in the recent encyclical, “Humanae Vitae”, and I reaffirm my own faith and my unconditional obedience to Your inspired directives.

May God grant truth to triumph, and, may peace be given to His Church, tranquility to the people of the earth, and health and prosperity to Your Holiness, so that when these disturbing clouds pass over, the Reign of God may triumph in all hearts, through the Apostolic Works of the Supreme Shepherd of all Christians.

Prostrate at Your feet, I beg you to bless me, my Brothers in religion, my spiritual sons, the “Praying Groups”, all the sick—that we may faithfully fulfill the good works done in the Name of Jesus and under your protection.

Your Holiness’ most humble servant,

PADRE PIO, Capuchin

San Giovanni Rotondo, 12th September, 1968.

l’Osservatore Romano – Weekly Edition in English – 10 October 1968


Filed under Priesthood, Saints, Vocations

Padre Pio’s heart in Boston: Final Insult

padre-pio-heartThe relic of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina will be at the Cathedral in Boston today. Just my opinion, but this seems to me to be the final insult launched against this great saint.

  • You might know that Padre Pio was falsely accused for sexual abuse and exonerated of the same.
  • You might know that he was wrongfully smacked down by ecclesiastical superiors for years and denounced to many successive Popes.
  • You might know that all this was for the benefit of the self-hero worship of those who persecuted him: “We’re sophisticated and up-to-date!” they screeched, as if holding Padre Pio’s decapitated head high with one hand and their degrees in psychology held high in the other hand was proof that Padre Pio was bad and evil while they were good and holy.

The mirror image of what happened back in the day against Padre Pio has happened to Father Gordon MacRae (born and raised near Boston) in our own day (see: The present leader of mocking accused priests with zero due process regardless of their guilt or, in fact, innocence, is, ironically, Cardinal O’Malley of Boston, another up-to-date OFM.cap. Take a look at the policies of The National Catholic Risk Retention Group and you’ll know what I mean. Boston is by far one of the main supporters of TNCRRG. All accusations are to be believed without question and paid a settlement immediately hopefully without lawyers with the accuser in complete charge of everything, even if, say, the “incident” is said to have occurred even before the priest was a priest, even before he was born. Yes, it’s happened. No one cares, that is, except for the ecclesiastical superior who revels in the good press he gets for “being tough on priests.”

Isn’t it just this very kind of self-absorbed, self-referential, Promethean, neo-Pelagian, self-hero worship that Pope Francis has declared himself to be against? Yes, that would be right. I stand with Pope Francis on this one. I stand with those who are falsely accused and wrongly convicted and smacked down with no due-process whatsoever. Isn’t that what Pope Francis wants, that is, to go out and cause a ruckus by heading out into the darkest of existential peripheries, to those who are condemned by the self-referential crowd who only want to be on the nice side of media hype? Yes, that is what Pope Francis wants. Since I’m the Roman Pontiff’s own Missionary of Mercy, I think I ought best not neglect stories like this.

Pointing out irony is, I think, O.K. After all, our Lord Himself is Irony Incarnate. On His cross, mercy and justice kiss. We had better be there in the midst of that embrace, or our Lord may well say to us at the judgment: “I do not know you.”

The mercy that so many falsely accused priests want is justice itself.

But this is the hopeful side of Padre Pio’s heart going to Boston. Whatever the motives of those who brought Padre Pio’s heart to Boston, know that this is a missionary journey of Padre Pio; he goes into the lion’s den. Just so you know, if you think I am rather severe with some ecclesiastics in this post, it is Father Gordon J MacRae himself who reminded me that we are to pray for Cardinal O’Malley, who was so loved by our Lord that he also was redeemed. Yes, that’s exactly right, and this was always the attitude of the great saint of Pietrelcina as well. It’s the attitude of Joseph in Egypt, who tells his brothers that their selling of him to the Ishmaelites was all within God’s providence. We do trust that we will see great fruits from the incarceration of Father Gordon, and we have already seen very many.

So, do, yes, go to the Cathedral in Boston just now and ask Padre Pio’s intercession not only for Father Gordon MacRae, but also for Cardinal O’Malley. It will do you good. But just remember a few things:

  • Padre Pio loved the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and was hated for that.
  • Padre Pio supported Humanae Vitae, and was hated for that.
  • Padre Pio was obedient to his superiors, and was hated for that.

The mercy that so many falsely accused priests want is justice itself, but in our Lord’s grace they can embrace the fact that our Lord will use the injustice for the sake of mercy.

Thanks, Padre Pio, for leading the way. Thanks so very, very much. We need you today!


Filed under Abuse, Missionaries of Mercy, Pope Francis, Priesthood, Vocations

ISIS and “Patriotic Americans” popping the head off Mexicans like chickens


Recently FoxNews published an article about a trauma doctor who takes care of survivors of ISIS murders of children (HERE: warning: graphic). He said that for ISIS such murders, decapitations, burning, etc., are like the mere killing of a chicken for these monsters.

When I saw that headline, it instantly reminded me a young “patriotic American” who told me that he would like to be on the U.S. southern border patrol with a rifle so that he could “pop the heads of them Mexican trash just like the chickens back home.” I asked him what “pop the heads” meant. He said that his father would take him out back of the house next to their little farm pond and teach him how to shoot a rifle by having him shoot the heads off their chickens from a couple of hundred yards out. He said that it would make the heads of the chickens pop off their necks high into the air when he got a good hit.

As you might imagine, I gave him the lecture of his life, as really he should have known better than that. This was neither patriotic nor did it have anything to do with being American. He thought he was patriotic because he would also just as soon go and shoot the heads off Islamicist terrorists. He absolutely couldn’t see the difference between a migrant worker and an ISIS terrorist, which, in my opinion, made him just as bad as an ISIS terrorist.

And yet, when that little incident of the reprimand was discovered, it was I who was reprimanded, rather severely I might add, and by someone who really should know much better than that. Who do I think I am interfering with someone who is so full of enthusiasm since after all he’s just a kid (I think perhaps 18). And yes, this is another one of those strange posts, you know, for the record. I am such a troublemaker! I wonder what Pope Francis would think of my reprimand of that kid…


Filed under Pope Francis, Racism

Shawshanked in reverse 23 years later: Fr Gordon MacRae & Pornchai Moontri


Father Gordon MacRae, wrongfully convicted and wrongfully imprisoned 23 years ago, has published the front page article on SperoNews today: The Shawshank Redemption and Its Real-World Version. The guilty verdict based on zero evidence was announced at 10:00 AM 23 years ago today, the day of the release of the film The Shawshank Redemption. Today is the Feast of the great Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, OFM.cap., Patron of Father Gordon.

Here are some articles Father Gordon has published about Padre Pio on TheseStoneWalls:

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Filed under Abuse, Vocations

Brat Lies Matter, but we need school lessons on dealing with police


Brat Lies Matter in the USA because we have free speech. On that level it doesn’t matter if everything said is a lie, “It’s a book!” or some such lie aimed at inflaming violence, injury and death, though it does matter if the continuous lies directly incite violence, in which case people may well be going to prison, and rightly so.

Of course, to be perfectly correct about the matter: Error has no rights at all. But anyway:

Have you noticed that it’s not about black and white? The police officer is black and the police chief is black and protesters are both black and white. This is about anarchy and hatred of society, really about self-hatred. Now there’s a state of emergency and the National Guard has taken to the streets. A friend said that just outside of Charlotte, all day yesterday, the sky was filled with Black Hawks at the ready.

Anyway, I mean, here’s the deal: maybe the guy was mentally deficient or otherwise disabled, but he exited his car at a police stop and pulled a gun. At that point any claimed disability, whether a lie or the truth, doesn’t matter at all. People have a right to self-defense, and black police officers are people too. It’s all sad.

But let’s be clear: Brat Lies Matter hates black police officers because they are black. And now one civilian is at the edge of death and twenty some police officers are injured.

If I were head of schools in Charlotte I would require immediate and mandatory classes on how to interact with police, regardless of racial heritage:

  • At a traffic stop, pull fully off the road, turn any music off, do not unbuckle your seat belt, don’t rummage around in the center console, under your seat or in the glove compartment, roll down the window 50%, keep both hands on the wheel, be polite with the officer when he approaches your vehicle, follow his instructions no matter what.
  • If the officer says to exit the vehicle and get on the ground, and you’re parked over a mud puddle, you’re going to get wet. Get over it. Deal with any treatment issues later. Now is not the time to use threats and foul language. Don’t jerk away. Don’t argue. Just comply.
  • Don’t hit the police officer. Really.
  • Don’t pull a gun on the police officer. Really.
  • Don’t run into traffic.
  • Don’t ram the police cruiser.

As part of these school lessons, everyone will be required to be respectfully present and participate if possible…

  • In singing the National Anthem while saluting or with hand over one’s heart
  • In reciting the Pledge of Allegiance

If it’s a Catholic School, I would have the students take a knee in chapel and recite before the Most Blessed Sacrament the Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, that is, the full version, with no politically incorrect bits taken out.

Last night, the parish of Saint Thomas Aquinas, near ground zero of the Charlotte riots, had an all night session of adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament. And that’s exactly the right thing to do. Good for them. We’re not going to change anything for the better without Jesus, Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception.


Filed under Brat Lies Matter, Officer Down!, Racism

Fr Gordon MacRae on EWTN radio with Bill Donohue and hostess Teresa Tomeo


Father Gordon J MacRae is the one with the glasses. Pornchai Maximilian Moontri is front and center just behind the sign. A great prison picture.


A great program. I hope the bishops responsible for self-absorbed, Promethean, neo-Pelagian self-hero worship smashing down priests regardless of guilt or innocence are rightly shaking with fear about what Bill Donohue has to say, that is, especially what he says he cannot yet say. Heh heh heh.


Filed under Abuse, Priesthood, Vocations

Laudie-dog the LEO-dog (updated)


Sheltered city slickers of the bigger cities might be offended by what is written here, thinking that it is the end of the world and have all sort of unfounded worries, getting themselves all flustered and causing no end of problems a thousand times worse than what is written here. Really. But that’s not my purpose in writing this account, which is just another of my FWIW “for the record” posts, you know, for the sake of a history, which can be useful. Nothing to worry about. Stop worrying! Having said that…

Laudie-dog was inside the rectory with me the other night since there might be thunder somewhere in the world and she doesn’t like thunder at all. It was getting on toward midnight and I was writing away in the front room. Of a sudden there was a solid bump on the kitchen window, sounding exactly like the side of a human fist pounding once on the window, not strongly enough to break it, but enough to get one’s attention if one happened to be at home.

Laudie-dog instantly transformed into LEO-dog. I had to let her outside so that she could anxiously patrol the perimeter, snorting the air, offering a tentative bark in this direction and that. She never barks unless there is real danger. I didn’t see anything, so I just went back in and to the other side of the rectory to go back to writing, though I remained a bit concerned about the window incident.

And then I heard some very soft human whistles, such as you might use to signal a partner in crime or to call a dog without anyone else noticing. I ignored that and went back to writing. After all, there are plenty of dogs and dog owners out at all hours of the night. It’s a little town, right?

But then Laudie-dog started to cry a bit. In all these years, she’s only done that once before that I know, when a panther was about to make a meal of her. “What’s going on?” thought I. I peered through this window and that, and then saw the cause of her terror, the biggest, strongest, meanest looking choke-chained-but-no-tag brown pit bull I’ve ever seen trying to get through the fence regardless of also seeing me. Hey, I’m not accusing anyone, but the bump on the high-as-a-man-is-tall kitchen window is inside the perimeter of the small fence in the rectory’s back yard, and the whistles were human on the side of the house, and there was a dog on the opposite side of the back of the house interested in getting in the fenced-in area where the kitchen window is, and when I went out there was rustling in the back bushes, sounding ever so much like a human being crashing through the branches trying not to be seen, but these are all just coincidences I’m sure.

But prudence is the better part of valor, so I guess I should think that the strong bump on the window was a test to see if there was a home-alarm system set up to go off with, say, any sudden vibration of the windows, and if not, to see if there was, in fact, someone home who didn’t bother to arm the alarm because of, after all, being home. If I were a thief, that’s what I would do: bump a window and wait to see what happens.

Laudie-dog through the years has literally saved me from bears and panthers and wolves and snakes and all sort of what-not that goes bump in the night, or during the day. That was not in a town, obviously. But I’ll add a human thief to the long list. I’ll have to nick-name her Laudie-dog the LEO-dog, saving me from any bad result of a test home-invasion. She got an extra dog-treat.

UPDATE: I mentioned all this to the Police the other day, saying that it’s all just coincidence, surely, but that they might want to keep it in mind if they see a pattern develop.

Also, I stopped by to see my medical provider (we used to call them doctors) to tell him that the NC-SBI and FBI CCW check is merely looking for a few checkmarks, not my entire boring medical history. When I went to open the door of his offices, the door instead opened for me. There he was with his wife receptionist and two nurses, with him exstatically greeting me, saying how cool it was to have a future CCW priest. Needless to say, he’s quite the gun fanatic. I don’t think he’ll be raising any objections. He did give me one bit of advice, however, saying to never ever but never carry with a bullet in the chamber. All he gets are cops who blow their toes off. He said you’ll always have time to rack the gun. To prove the point, he said that Mossad insists on this practice. Does he know I have some friends… Or that though I’m a Catholic priest, I’m Jewish? Or is he a Mossad, you know, cooperator? … ;-) I’m happy to have a good imagination!


Filed under Dogs

Flores for the Immaculate Conception (Lourdes grotto ice-roses edition)


Back in the day, when I was a permanent chaplain in Lourdes, France, I took this picture with my el-cheapo digital camera. It was February, the first day following weeks of 24/7 sub-freezing temps with ice and snow precipitating down on the pilgrims daily. As you can see, the ice and snow are no match for the gentlest of petals when it is time to give due honor to the Immaculate Conception at the grotto. Here’s a view from above the grotto, and, yes, this is also a color picture. It was just that dark and dreary and ferociously cold for weeks:


However icy conditions might be among the hearts of men, crucifying our Lord Jesus, the fire of ardent charity was alive with maternal warmth in the Immaculate Heart of His Virgin Mother. The clarity of her vision, the agility of her soul and her purity of heart let her know clearly what it is for men for hell to freeze over, also hellish. She was sorrowful that her Son should be treated so terribly. She was sorrowful that she herself had to be redeemed, though she was never touched even by original sin. Her sorrow was an act of perfect intercession for us, mediatrix, therefore, of all graces that she is. Saint John Paul II used the phrase “co-redemptrix” dozens of times, I think 29 times at last count. This refers simply to how appropriate it was in justice that one of us who is not divine should ask for such graces perfectly, graces coming directly from her Divine Son. Thank you, Blessed Mother, for being a good mother to us. Continue to show yourself a mother to us!

Montra te esse matrem!


Filed under Flores

Not a jailbird, not yet anyway


The judge gave me a reprieve, but my next call to jury duty may well be coming in the foreseeable future. That’s O.K. The Lord is the Lord of History. I’ll have to insist about the chaplaincy now. The FBI fingerprinting for the CCH is tomorrow. Perhaps that can double as the check for the chaplaincy and the victims’ assistance program…


Filed under Missionaries of Mercy

Flores for the Immaculate Conception (Exaltation of the Cross edition)


I was out to the hermitage yesterday. This is the only “flower” I could spot on the whole mountain. I got the very last things I absolutely had to get whereby I could say “I don’t absolutely need the rest of it”. I would like to go back and get some lumber and some chopped, dried and stacked red oak,  but that can wait. Maybe not. Perhaps it’s a sign, but as I was leaving a car was coming into the neighbors far below. The driver was the one wanting to buy the property. I don’t yet know how that went. Here’s a final shot of the chapel window. Rather desolate:


I always had the practice of saying the Angelus at the bottom of the mountain before ascending and while finishing descending from the hermitage. This was offered for our bishop and for priests. That was the last one yesterday unless I’m still able to go out again depending on who buys the property. I think that that prayer is itself a flower for the Immaculate Conception and is most appropriate for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross:


The Angelus (1857–59) by Jean-François Millet. My mom had a copy of this hanging up in our house. I always loved to note the church in the background as I watched these two farmers pray the Angelus in the early morning.

℣. Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariæ,

℟. Et concepit de Spiritu Sancto.
Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. * Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostræ. Amen.
℣. Ecce ancilla Domini.
℟. Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.
Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. * Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostræ. Amen.
℣. Et Verbum caro factum est.
℟. Et habitavit in nobis.
Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. * Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostræ. Amen.
℣. Ora pro nobis, Sancta Dei Genetrix.
℟. Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.
Gratiam tuam, quæsumus, Domine, mentibus nostris infunde; ut qui, Angelo nuntiante, Christi Filii tui incarnationem cognovimus, per passionem eius et crucem ad resurrectionis gloriam perducamur. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum.
℟: Amen

℣. The Angel of the LORD declared unto Mary,
℟. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary, full of grace; the LORD is with thee: blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus.* Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.
℣. Behold the handmaid of the LORD.
℟. Be it done unto me according to thy word.
Hail Mary, full of grace; the LORD is with thee: blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus.* Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.
℣. And the Word was made flesh.
℟. And dwelt among us.
Hail Mary, full of grace; the LORD is with thee: blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus.* Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.
℣. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
℟. That we might be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray,
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O LORD, Thy grace into our hearts; that, we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection. Through the same Christ our Lord.
℟. Amen.

I can’t help it:



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Baton Rouge Police Officer Nick Tullier: extremely critical condition

LEO Nick TullierPlease pray for Officer Nick Tullier, who is in a Baton Rouge hospital fighting for his life. Prayers for him that he pulls through.

Update 14 September 2016:  A kind reader let me know early this morning that Nick underwent another successful surgery. Thank God. Let’s keep praying. To follow Nick’s progress:


Filed under Officer Down!

99% chance this priest won’t go to jail

handcuffsWhile the new judge on this case will most likely give me a reprieve for jury duty (I have a first amendment conflict of interest), there is a tiny chance he won’t, in which case he’ll have to sentence me for criminal contempt (though I have no contempt whatsoever), or a tiny chance that he will say that I have to wait in the courtroom to see if they get only eleven on the jury with two alternates and so therefore need me to continue through the interrogation of the whys and wherefores and bits and pieces of knowledge of the jury candidates, something I manifestly cannot do and so therefore he will have to sentence me straightaway for criminal contempt (though I have no contempt whatsoever). I simply cannot risk jury tampering for someone who is innocent until proven guilty by giving an impression to the jury pool that I heard the poor fellow’s confession and am risking jail so as not to break the seal of confession, when the whole time I actually never did hear his confession (though I don’t know that if he came to me behind the confessional screen, which I won’t know until all the unrepeatable details come out in court). I can’t let the judge stack the jury on behalf of the defense in the latter case, or let the guy walk without ever getting a trial as he could never get a fair trial after the impression was received, however wrongly, but really necessarily, that I heard the guy’s confession. The questions, you have to know, about the whys and wherefores and prejudices involved in having knowledge of plaintiffs or defendants are intense. When I refuse to answer, the jury must get the idea that I heard his confession as I go off to jail. I wouldn’t want some jerk priest giving that impression to the jury if I were in the hot seat. Would you? This is not about “getting off jury duty.” I don’t want to get off jury duty. That’s just a result of the conflict of interest I have. As Thomas More said: “I am the king’s good servant, but God’s first.” Here’s the deal, the judge might well say that there is zero chance that I heard the guy’s confession since they caught him in the act of the murder or rape or whatever it is. Instead, people also confess things they are sorely tempted to do even years before committing the crime, giving all sorts of unrepeatable details about how the crime will occur, telling me about others involved or who has prior knowledge, telling me about motives of ongoing feuds or whatever, etc. And I can know all this for years beforehand from both future plaintiff and defendant clans and friends, knowing much more than the investigators could ever dig up. Again, it doesn’t matter, Catholic or non-Catholic, it pretty much all comes to the priest. The seal of confession is respected by all, except, perhaps, a court of law, though we will see what happens. Also, don’t forget, I may well know of someone’s innocence, how a crime actually occurred with someone else taking the fall. That happens really a lot. A parent dying of cancer might take the fall for their offspring. A spouse for a spouse. Etc. Jury nullification is really easy. Anyway, I fully expect to get a reprieve… Watch this space. Today’s the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. If I don’t give you an update in another post by the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, tomorrow, you can surely rightly assume that I’m in jail.

By the way, a priest in New York just broke the Seal of Confession saying basically he got permission to do this from the defendant in a murder. A friend in the Holy See told me that this case may already be before the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to decide if the priest is formally declared excommunicate. The thing is, it is not a matter of Father getting permission. The Seal is his to keep regardless of any permission, regardless of any good for himself (such as taking care, he thinks, of his overly tender conscience being wounded by his own silence [not!]). People can give “permission” to reveal a confession for all sorts of reasons (coercion, manipulation, guilt, thinking this is pleasing to the priest so as to get an absolution, etc.). The priest must ignore this. He gave the guy absolution. It’s a confession, indeed sacramental, that must be respected regardless of how it started, and it sounds like an intended confession from the beginning. Why else would anyone go to a priest? Regardless of what the CDF concludes about his malice, I think that the priest should be much more worried about going straight to hell when he dies for having broken the Seal of Confession. If one is guilty of breaking the Seal, one is malicious. It is an attack on the very precious blood of Christ which was poured out for the forgiveness of sin. Father thinks he is a policeman and not a priest. How sad. And to me, that’s totally infuriating. He has damaged the trust of penitents, perhaps stopping untold numbers from going to confession. I could give him absolution if he asked for it, as I’m a Missionary of Mercy, right? But I’ll tell you this, I would absolutely give him the lecture of his life before doing so. He had no right whatsoever to break the Seal of Confession. I can’t risk doing that either, or even give the impression that I am while the whole time I never heard the guy’s confession, ensuring his conviction when otherwise he could have walked as the innocent man he just might be.

Again, just to be clear, I don’t know those involved, whether this was a group or individual, a man or woman (or whatever), what the crime supposedly is or when or where it occurred, etc. I must make a blanket refusal to speak about possible penitents absolutely every time. I don’t know if they ever came to me even behind a screen, even before a crime was committed, looking for arguments not to commit a crime, which may have worked for a while, but then… I just don’t know, do I? No, I don’t. At any rate, there is a conflict of interest for the Constitutional right to free exercise of religion. I must fight for this to be respected. It may just be that the judge wanted to see if I would risk going to jail, given that other priests literally don’t seem to give a damn about breaking the Seal of Confession. When he finds out I am serious, he may just congratulate me for setting a good example for both society and religion, what it means to be a good minister and what it means to be a good citizen. That’s actually what I fully expect, well, 99% sure.

This would be the judge’s opportunity to condemn the Archdiocese of New York for also giving that priest “permission” to break the Seal of Confession. Apparently, the Archdiocese (surely this absolutely must involve ol’ Cardinal Dolan [sigh…]) thinks that a guy confessing a sin and getting sacramental absolution is not a sacramental confession. It seems to me that Jesus will lay on them the penitent’s guilt unless they also repent.

But then again, fewer (arch)dioceses seem to give a damn, literally, about the Sacrament of Confession. See the utterly ridiculous action of the Diocese of Manchester for which I provided some rather incisive commentary some time ago:

For many more articles on this little drama, click the category “Confession” or simply go directly to and see the articles on the first couple of pages. By the way, say a prayer for that priest who broke the Seal. He will need those prayers regardless of what the CDF says. I just offered Mass for the good of his soul just now, this very day.

By the way: Many people have let me know by phone or email that they prayed to the Lord and are convinced that I have already received a miracle of getting a reprieve. I would like that!

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Filed under Confession, Missionaries of Mercy

Jail on perpetual lockdown? “We don’t run this place like a Holiday Inn.”


There were “people whose relatives were in the jail calling us thinking we were running around with M-16s and Billy clubs bashing people in the head,” [Captain] Patterson said. “It wasn’t anything like that.” (Andrews Journal)

“It wasn’t anything like that,” but almost? The reason I ask is that it’s then also noted that there is now an extremely rigorous tracking of razor blades handed out to prisoners. I don’t want to imagine the bloodletting that caused such tracking and the re-imposition of a lockdown.

Anyway, as I’ve said previously, if I were bashed in the head, or sprayed with pepper spray, the inside of my throat would swell up and I would suffocate, which is just my own weirdness of a genetic lack of an enzyme. This is an example of how people with the same hereditary lack of a particular enzyme die, to the rate of up to 1/3 of those who have it, there simply being no chance in whatever circumstances for a tracheotomy…

“By law, we only have to let them out for one hour every three days for exercise,” [Captain] Patterson said. […] For now visiting hours are on the inmates’ free hour.

If I am put in jail for protecting the integrity of the Seal of Confession, I think it will do me good, that it will do my priesthood good. That’s what it’s all about, right?

Just to be clear. I have not been briefed on the case for Wednesday. No names or details have come my way. I don’t know if I’ve heard anything about it by way of anyone whomsoever saying anything in Confession, even from any defendant even previous to the commission of any crime. And I could never say. Again, in jury selection, it’s really a big deal to find out if a possible juror knows any of the defendants or plaintiffs. When I belligerently fail to say whether I do and how it is that I know what I know or not, I will be cited for criminal contempt. I won’t even go into the courtroom. I’ll sign in outside to show I was there, and will once again make an attempt to get the judge to give me a reprieve.

Some have urged me to just go ahead and answer the questions. They urge me to do this publicly, giving the impression to any court that it really is O.K. for me to break the Seal of Confession, which I won’t do, which sets me up for going to jail.

Anyway, see: Subtle jury tampering is still effective and is still a felony. I won’t do it. Jail?


Filed under Confession, Missionaries of Mercy

Subtle jury tampering is still effective and is still a felony. I won’t do it. Jail?


The letter is wrong. It’s Wednesday, not Monday. And it’s 8:00 AM, not 9:00 AM.

You might think that my reasons for not wanting to sit on a jury are tantamount to criminal contempt of court. I disagree. I want to serve society in whatever capacities I am able to do this; sitting on a jury is not one of those capacities. But “a judge” is forcing the issue after I’ve been granted a reprieve for the same reason. This is the third time.

All are aware that I’m a Catholic priest who hears confessions also behind a screen, not only in my parish, but all over this region and more. Indeed, I’m Pope Francis’ own Missionary of Mercy to do just this, having special faculties other priests don’t have, you know, for the big sins. Both Catholics and non-Catholics can come and bare their souls in a voluntary manner, at ease, with no external consequences, so as to at least start to get themselves going in the right direction before they die. I always hold the confessions of those who are not Catholic to be under the seal of confession as they may be working their way up to that, and are trusting in the seal of confession (which is also the beginnings of the faith as a catechumen, right?). I cannot mess with that. Anyway, all such confessions are more than just under oath because of the circumstances; they are serene and truthful. Sure, prosecutors and police would want to hear such confessions repeated by me say, in a murder case, so that they can interrogate the person about prior knowledge, accomplices, other circumstances, future plans, etc. But I cannot break the seal, and I might not know who it is, even after decades of his or her coming to confession to me even from around the region, the country, the world, but always behind a screen. It is what it is.

But say a judge insists I sit on a jury. Am I not then at risk of breaking the seal of confession by sitting through the process. The very first question of the Clerk of Court is whether we know any of the plaintiffs or defendants. I then respond that I  will not say, one way or the other, for truly, even if I don’t recognize them by looking at them, they could have come to confession to me behind a screen so that I’ll only recognize them after the unrepeatable details come out in court. The fact of the matter is that pretty much everything comes to the priest by way of confession regardless of the religion of the people involved. Around here, tiny towns, back mountain ridges, pretty much everyone is related to everyone a thousand times over. And I hear confessions all over the region, the USA, the world.

Anyway, for having said that I will not say, I will be told that I risk criminal contempt of court. The defendant will recognize what’s going on and start howling that he never came to confession to me (even if he did so, multiple times). Even if he doesn’t scream and howl, the jury pool will have to think that I am being obstinate and risking jail because of having heard his confession on this very matter. They will know that, you know, I’m one of those strange Catholic priests who hears confessions and respects the seal of confession. Not answering is a felony on my part for contempt of court.

Not answering is also another felony called jury tampering. The entire jury will think, rightly or wrongly, that the defendant confessed to me and will hold him to be guilty regardless of their being instructed to ignore me while I’m cuffed and led off to jail. And then the judge will have to listen to the objections of the defense attorney, who will say that this is not even to be judged a mistrial, but that the case is to be dismissed in such manner that the defendant can never be tried for this crime again, for, as it is, he could never get a fair trial again anywhere. But if the trial continues, and the fellow is innocent (innocent until proven guilty, right?), then basically I myself have just murdered him. There is capital punishment in North Carolina. I cannot participate in the murder of anyone.

After signing in for the selection, I’m guessing that I’ll skip going into the court room and ask what the penalty is for not participating, still not knowing the people involved or the charges brought against the defendant. I will then be brought before the judge who will then pass sentence. Of course, I will appeal with the Becket Fund to help. That would be the Supreme Court of the United States vs. North Carolina. Not what I wanted.

Meanwhile, the Sheriff has already told me that I should just go through the entire selection process and then answer the final question to me as to whether any of the objections to knowledge that I may or may not have would prejudice my decision in any way. Of course there would be a prejudice in favor of the defendant if I did hear his confession. So, what they are doing is stacking the jury, which is also a crime, is it not? I’m not going to say that I heard the person’s confession on this matter. That would make me all of a sudden a witness, even though it seems that this was just a cleverly phrased way of doing a bit of jury tampering. Of course, I don’t think for a second he or anyone else involved sees it that way. Baptists (the Sheriff was a Baptist minister until his election) just don’t see the point of Catholic ways even though what we do is commanded by our Lord and written about in the Sacred Scriptures and one can in fact reason about it. Again, the question as to whether I would be prejudiced in possibly having heard the person’s confession (which is unknown even to me as the person may have come to confession behind a screen) is very close to my saying that I did hear the person’s confession. That’s really the impression the rest of the jury pool will receive. Regardless of the guilt or innocence of the defendant, I will have just sent him to death row.

I cannot break the seal of confession or imply that I heard a confession when I did not, as that would have, as I say, murderous consequences. What is it that Law Enforcement wants of me? What is it that the Court wants of me?

What’s happening when Catholic priests are not given an exemption (now almost nowhere in the United States; this is something new in most places), is that grave injury is done to the free exercise of religion and grave injustice is done to the defendant, who may well be innocent. There is no more Constitution in these United States it seems. No one gives a damn about due process any more it seems.

In the end, having a Catholic priest assigned to jury is an act of hatred for God and neighbor, an act of hatred very specifically of the faith, the Sacred Heart of the Faith.

What I fear is my own weakness. The only priests who will object to my objections are weak and politically correct and always looking for the easy way out, never the cross. Am I not like that kind of priest? I am, surely, without a doubt. Perhaps because I think I’m “somebody.” Only those who have the grace to know that they are “nobody” and who therefore don’t have anything whatsoever to lose will go ahead and risk everything.

What I’m afraid of is that I would have a reaction to the pepper spray not infrequently used in jails, a reaction because of a medical condition. My throat would immediately swell tight shut and I would suffocate much faster than they could bring me to the hospital. I guess I shouldn’t care, right? I should be “nobody”, right? But I’m just me. God help me.



Filed under Jury Duty

Diet: “Hey! It tastes like chicken!”


This guy has a triangular head and a short tail and is about four feet long. Here’s a shot of his underside, providing you with some clues. What kind is he?


He wasn’t far from the hermitage the other day and I was trying to do some last minute clean out before the property is sold by the neighbor. Anyway, I’m sure he tastes like chicken!


Filed under Diet

Being on target? Good for humility…


That’s actually 15 hard nose at the furthest distance for a North Carolina qualification, all of them within an inch or so of center target, most going slightly South. I told this to my neighbor who can do about anything with a gun, and he looked to the ground, sighing, telling me a story about his rifle days, I guess implying that I should give up on the Glock 19 9mm Gen 4 that I have, and just concentrate on some rifle work. He said he and a friend used to put out an American .25¢ piece (a quarter) at 1,500 yards and see who could hit it closest to the center, it being a given that they would both hit it somewhere, of course. I blame the Glock having perhaps the heaviest trigger pull of any gun anywhere. He doesn’t buy it. That, of course, is a challenge to always get better. But then it’s a bit depressing, enough to give up. But I think I’ll take up the challenge bit.


Filed under Guns

Flores for the Immaculate Conception (Happy Birthday, BVM edition)


Right from the start Mary would have known the sting of reality.

Today, September 8, is commemorated as the Birthday of Mary since, of course, it is exactly nine months after her Immaculate Conception on December 8.

From Psalm 44 (slightly retranslated for accuracy vs NAB):

Hearken, O daughter, and see, and incline thy ear: and forget thy people and thy father’s house. And the king shall single out thy beauty; for he is the Lord thy God, and him they shall adore. And the daughters of Tyre with gifts, yea, all the rich among the people, shall entreat thy countenance. All the glory of the king’s daughter is within in golden borders, clothed round about with varieties. After her shall virgins be brought to the king: her neighbors shall be brought to thee. They shall be brought with gladness and rejoicing: they shall be brought into the temple of the king. Instead of thy fathers, sons are born to thee: thou shalt make them princes over all the earth. They shall remember thy name throughout all generations. Therefore shall people praise thee for ever; yea, for ever and ever.


Filed under Flores