Thinking about it. I’m distracted.

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Now that I think about it, maybe it’s a sign. On the other hand, the aliens have immediately sent out two replacements… We shouldn’t read tea leaves…

Anyway, today, like so many days, involves hospitals and hundreds of miles. There is much I would like to write about. That should include Genesis 3:15, I know, I know. I think about it all the time. If there are indications to be read, I should pay attention to the bishop mentioning my writing a popular version about Genesis 3:15. I get distracted. While I ‘m thinking about that and so many other things…

I also extremely presumptuously think about going to heaven, frequently, in a two feet on the ground kind of way, thinking of ironies that guardian angels would appreciate and perhaps are the ones who have whispered such things in my ears. Irony is a sine qua non of being Christian, like mercy being a potential part of the virtue of justice (Aquinas). When I think about heaven in this way, I laugh, a lot, which, I think, is pleasing to my guardian angel. There’s a joyful side to irony, a blessedness. That comes along with the incisive side, whereby we learn something, or about someone, or about the depth and height and breadth and magnificence of the love of God, of God’s love. Hmmm… perhaps that’s a sign too. Maybe I should pay more attention to walking heart to Heart with our Lord who is always with us. Always. The angels alert us to His presence. They see God in the face.

O.K. I’m late. Off to the hospital.

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How can you be Patriotic? I’ll just say it: It’s a matter of love.

statue of liberty planet of the apes

Lots of people give lots of statistics to put America down. They say that America is…

  • First in incarceration. That’s true, far and away. But, of course, lots of countries just kill everyone they don’t like and so have few prisoners. We have the death penalty, but nothing like most communist countries who kill political enemies just to do it. But, yes, our judiciary-incarceration system has totally broken down. Totally. We really do have the worst system in the world for judging people. The guilty get plea deals. Some of the innocent who wont take a plea deal are incarcerated for life.
  • 14th in education. This is a stupid statistic as the matter has to be broken down in subject matter and per capita. Thus, the rank in math, physics, chemistry, geography, history… Yet, I would say these USA are very low on the education scale generally, just from my experience right around the world. We’ve been dumbed down on purpose. But at least some of us know this and try to do something about it. That’s something. If we are 14th in education it’s because politicians didn’t like us being smart (because we were the first in the world). We can be first. We will strive to be first again.
  • 19th in satisfaction. This is another stupid statistic. China, Vietnam, Bangladesh et alii come in right at or near the top because of the people being scared to give any other answer. I mean, satisfied with what? Moreover, it’s a semantic question. Most Americans who totally love America would say that they are unsatisfied precisely because part of patriotism is not to rest on one’s laurels but to strive to be better all the time and in every way not only for oneself but for the common good. Albania thought they had the best military and best economy in the world, until they found out the truth that they were the last in the world on both counts.
  • 44th in health care efficiency. Thanks to ObamanationCare, this is probably too optimistic. Obama killed our health care. But that has nothing to do with patriotism. We will strive to be the best once again.
  • 145th in slavery, meaning pretty much no slaves. There are lots of sweat shops. Heck, there was even one here in Andrews. Lots of migrant workers, legal or not, are treated like slaves. I’ve seen it. Probably also not included in this statistic is that America has lots of prostitutes pimped out, especially teenagers, who are enslaved, and who die in enslavement usually in a couple of weeks. Moreover, if we count junkies who sell drugs under threat of death, the numbers of slaves jumps astronomically. That would be quite a percentage of the population here. We could say that the unborn are slaves of PP, and are put to death for economic advantage.
  • We can add more… Are we first in the world for opioid abuse? Probably. That comes with the gimme-nation-obama-nation-entitlement-nation. Selfish. But that’s not the definition of our country nor Patriotism.
  • Is Comey politicizing the enforcement of the law? Maybe. That would be a partial definition of the end of a nation, but this isn’t the definition of America nor of Patriotism.

And so it goes. Some truth to the criticisms. Lots of lies. Mixed in with the lies, I’ve noticed, are attacks on religion. Thus, there are rankings for stupidity based on whether people believe in angels. America ranks very high on the list, but that’s good. Those who go out of their way to say that “people who believe in angels are morons” are blasphemers of Jesus, who spoke of those pure spirits who see the face of God in heaven, and also  see us. Jesus also did exorcisms over against fallen angels. Those who deny this effectively say that Jesus was a fool to be damned by God if God even exists. I would not want to be damning Jesus at the last judgment when He shows us the wounds which demonstrate how much He loves us, having taken on the whole onslaught of hell so as to stand in our place for the sins we ourselves committed so that He would have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us.

Here’s the deal: Patriotism, by definition, is about wanting what is best for one’s fatherland. We can want what is best no matter what the present conditions are. Those who say that patriotism is foolish hate themselves and their neighbor and the way God made us, that is, as spirits with bodies that necessarily have to be in the here and now in whatever nation, whatever fatherland. Are there elements which need to be fixed? Yes. Is it Patriotic to recognize that and go about fixing whatever? Yes. To be content with what needs fixing is to be selfish, un-Patriotic.

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Officer Down! What kind of thanks…

officer down shawn anderson

Some people are against the police until they need to call them. Our LEOs serve even those who hate them, mock them. Out LEOs give their lives not only for their friends, but even for enemies, the greatest love doubled over. Sergeant Anderson was called to a rape scene and was executed when he arrived. It’s like ISIS killing doctors because “they’re too good.” But is it enough to say “Thank you” to our LEOs? I think not. As the best of the best of the best told me: “Don’t just say ‘Thank you’; strive to follow their good example.” Yes, that is the kind of thanks that is especially appreciated. Also by our Lord, who, in laying down His life for all sinners while they were still sinners, said, “As the Master, so the Disciple.”

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (even tinier even more hidden edition)

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In just another few days it will be the great Solemnity of the Incarnation of our Lord, the annunciation to the immaculate virgin that she will be the Mother of God. It will be another opportunity, in a consecration to Jesus through Mary as was repeated throughout the decades, to once again ask my guardian angel to smack me down in such manner that I learn just a bit of humility before the living Sacred Mystery of our Lord’s love for us.

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Update: Israeli Air Force getting cocky about doing the impossible. Dancing.

But the Israelis are not the first to land an attack fighter with only one wing. Perhaps my dad was the first. He also had the wing of his gull-wing corsair knocked off during a training exercise at Andrews Air Force Base in D.C. by a knucklehead student pilot coming up out of a barrel roll a bit too quickly. In the case of my dad, Commander of the Checkerboarders, he was able to keep the inevitable spin from happening by holding the stick all the way over while flying at 45 degree angle, landing on the tip of his good wing, and then the wheel of his good wing. Hah! He would have used the side of his plane for the necessary lift. Hah!

corsair vmfa 312 USMC Korea

Whenever I see cockiness trounced, I am tempted to do a dance. Attack pilots are the same. And attack pilots are pretty much all the same. Here are some Russians. I can just hear the criticisms, saying that those are toy planes without any serious possibilities in a real war, blah blah blah. Regardless, this is some good flying:

Even if tender snowflakes are offended by this, I have to say: Competition is a good thing. It’s hilarious. It brings us beyond where we’re at. A challenge to overcome. Let’s see what Saint Paul says in Romans 12:10-19:

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. [Outdo one another in showing honor.] Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. [Outdo one another in showing honor.] Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. [Outdo one another in showing honor.] Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.[!] Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. [Outdo one another in showing honor.] If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. [Outdo one another in showing honor.]

You get the idea.

Update:

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33 Days to Merciful Love: crash burn go!

IMG_20170321_062343So, on the Feast of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary (transferred from Sunday to Monday this year in our Lord 2017), many, including yours truly, have begun the preparation a consecration to Merciful Love, 33 days away, on Divine Mercy Sunday, the Octave of Easter.

The meditation for Day 1 started in the Garden of Eden with original sin. Since my doctoral thesis was on this topic I’ve read thousands of commentaries, monographs, articles (theological, linguistic, exegetic, philological, philosophical, economic[!], psychological, archeological, etc), Festschriften, notes, etc.), on the topic. And so, a bit jaded (none of them were up to the standard I would want for a serious investigation into the meaning of the Word of God), I was immediately thrown into ho-hum mode.

Stupid me. Father Gaitley with no wasted verbiage came right to the point with an exactitude worthy of any academic study of the inspired text. But he did much more: he brought me to a spiritual insight that was stunning for me. Here I was, cruising along on the laurels of my academic studies (and there are many laurels in this case), and he made me crash and burn. Well done, Father! I love it. Although everything he wrote was consonant with what I had written, he took me a step beyond where I had been. But even more than this. Spiritual insight is still “insight”… something for our sorry brains. Father Gaitley did something even more than this. He threw me to my knees before the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, that Son of the Mother of the Redeemer spoken about in Genesis 3:15. Our Lord took it from there.

Methinks I will very much enjoy this do-it-yourself retreat which fortunately has nothing about do-it-yourself to it, as Father Gaitley leads us adeptly to Jesus, and then leaves us with Him, Mary’s dearest Son, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, Wonder Counselor, Prince of the Most Profound Peace, who will come to judge the living and the dead and world by the fire of His Merciful Love which had Him stand in our place of judgment, founding His mercy on justice, having the right in His own justice to have mercy on us, the justice making the mercy most majestic, most good and kind, most credible, most enthralling, most joy-filled, a bond of love with the Most Holy Trinity, having us walk with God in this sorry world until we should come to the gates that, please God, will open wide for us… Please, say it with me: Jesus, I trust in Thee.

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Father Byers’ tender snowflake exam

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So, there’s a secular business in ultra super liberal Connecticut called Silent Partner Marketing that has come up with a pre-employment exam (chapeau to FoxNews for picking that up). The exam takes the tender snowflakes out of the running straightaway. Methinks that this kind of questionnaire would be useful for candidates coming in to the seminary. The article repeats some of the questions. Let’s just see how I fare for those questions for a secular business. I will be honest. Here goes:

WHAT DOES AMERICA MEAN TO YOU?

While any democracy of fallen human beings will have its faults and foibles and even downright wrongdoing, these can be overcome with the pursuit of justice and mercy, the honesty and integrity of which come about with the acceptance of salvation from God who has redeemed us all. I am everyday thankful for those who serve and lay down their lives in service. Upholding the Constitution by way of the first enumerated inalienable right to the free exercise of religion (along with the others) has pride of place in my heart and soul.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT GUNS?

Self-defense / defense of the innocent is a right and duty enshrined in our Constitution and held up by natural law as a contribution to the virtue of justice. I’m happy to carry a concealed carry permit.

WHAT DOES ‘PRIVILEGE’ MEAN TO YOU?

No matter what unrepeatable circumstances we have, we are all gifted by God with some circumstances that we can rightly claim to be privileges if we humbly get out of those circumstances whatever we can in the time we have, that is, for our own sake and the sake of others. Being bitter and envious is sheer idiocy. Throwing away gifts for the sake of mere political correctness is madness.

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED AND WHY?

This is a bit of a touchy-feely question, but that’s the world we live in here in these USA, right? I too can wear my heart on my sleeve. Here goes: I distinctly remember the entire scene in extreme detail since I remember everything when I was a little kid back to even one year old. It might be the one and only time I’ve ever cried. My mom told me I never cried as a baby. When I was two and a half years old, in mid-Summer, I was beaten to a pulp by my four year old brother. He had chased me into the basement with its tile floor. He tackled me and, sitting on my stomach (I thought my hips were breaking), he smashed my head repeatedly against the floor, making me see stars though not making me pass out, just whaling on me with repeated punches. I hid behind an old couch pushed against the wall and the tears flowed, making a puddle, the old “cry me a river” was true in this case. And that was that. When I was done it was over. I started to learn some self-defense after that with one of the neighbor kids, successfully I might add. Oh, yes, my eyes welled up when dad died, and then not long after when mom died. I do sometimes get choked up when speaking of a friend’s death.

WE WORK VERY, VERY CLOSELY WITH A LOT OF POLICE DEPARTMENTS AND SO YOU NEED TO BE COMFORTABLE AND WILLING TO SUPPORT THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO SERVE AND PROTECT. ARE YOU?

Yes. I’ve even put on the Officer Down! Memorial Dinner in our little town with seven counties of local law enforcement in attendance, along with various levels and departments and bureaus of the Feds coming to pay their respects to those fallen in the line of duty, and also to have an enjoyable day together. I’m thinking of taking the civilian FBI course for those interested in working closely with law enforcement.

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O.K. Well, that’s that. But how about if we add a few more questions for the priesthood, you know, for would-be seminarians. I’ve come up with a few here, but help me by adding more questions in the comments. I admit, I’m ruthless here. The rule is that any insufficiently or otherwise dodged question demands a lengthy grilling, not necessarily GITMO style, but a grilling nonetheless. So, here goes, in two sessions:

First session:

  • What is a vocation?
  • To what, exactly, are you entitled as a priest? Be specific.
  • What do you think about mercy and contraception?
  • What do you think about mercy and divorce and remarriage?
  • What do you think about married priests?
  • What do you think about gay priests?
  • Is any truth absolute?
  • Is any moral law without exception?
  • Is hell forever?
  • What is your take on authority and the freedom of the children of God?
  • Have you ever volunteered for anything? List them all. If not, why not?
  • What do you think of the SSPX? If you have no opinion, why is that?

Second session:

  • Have you read the Bible? If yes, how many times?
  • Have you read the proclamations of the ecumenical Councils of the Church? Vatican Council II? Vatican Council I? The Council of Trent?
  • Have you read the Catechism of the Catholic Church?
  • When’s the last time you knelt in adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament?
  • When’s the last time you recited the Holy Rosary?
  • Do you make a regular sacramental Confession?

Again, please add more in the comments section. Perhaps you can see where I’m going here. I remember an Archbishop who had would-be seminarians volunteer at the Cathedral parish for the Summer. He told them his own personal schedule to start the day with adoration at an early hour and invited the would-be seminarians to attend though it was up to them to do so or not. Their “real” duties were to be given them every day in the parish office. All the seminarians excelled in their “real” duties. Only some came to the adoration. The one’s who came to adoration were accepted, the others let go. Some think that is a good idea, some think it is horrible. It is what it is.

.

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My Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs “snips”) are being processed

SNPs

Finally, the phone app says that the test kit was not only received (that was January 19 2017), but is now (mid-March) being processed for the next three to five weeks. At any rate, I always knew I was a mutant ninja. Aren’t we all? This will prove it. I bet the results will come in that I’m 5% this and 5% that, with 90% unknown. Then I can fill in the blank, right? Maybe I’m from the dark side of the moon.

It’s interesting that the family tree is traced through mutant attributes. This is very much like critica textus, whereby one examines the accuracy of whatever ancient manuscript by way of taking note of mutant variants, that is, copyist errors which are repeated by subsequent copyists only of that particular manuscript (or its successors). This, taken with paleographical and other indications pretty accurately tell the analyst the entire geographical and historical, even political and ideological history of the background of the lettered physical text in front of them, regardless of whether that text is now digitized in our times or is still written on papyri, perhaps as a palimpsest.

Meanwhile, I’ve been getting rid of DNA by way of my 1500 calorie diet. I’ve dropped about eleven pounds since Ash Wednesday. I must confess I’ve gone over 1500 a few times. But it’s working well all in all. Down to about 254 pounds. Breakfast today was lentil soup and an orange. 245 calories. My old neighbor is trying to convince me to become a soup maker. I would have to get a pot for that. And ways to freeze individual portions from the huge amounts called for in recipes, you know, whole heads of cabbage and all that. He gets his ingredients from his garden or from the soup kitchen (what’s on its way to the dumpster). Mmmm good. I had some yesterday.

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Forcing Vatican regime changes and…

assange

The rather well connected Thomas D Williams (son in law of an acquaintance of mine) wrote the other day about a conspiracy to force Benedict out and to replace him with someone a bit more malleable[!], hinting at this, among other things, by way of tidbits from Julian Paul Assange’s Wikileaks about John David Podesta, and from hints from Archbishop Luigi Negri, close friend of Pope Benedict XVI: HERE.

edward arsenault

But hey! What do I know? All I know is that the little tidbits that keep coming in are consonant with and answer the most questions about various developments, including the double-murder of Pope Francis’ pregnant “Front of House” “Receptionist” at the time of the gay-marriage referendum in Italy, when enormous pressure was put on the Catholic Hierarchy not to say anything about it, or else. I mean, really, the repeated tantrum like public protestations of the porporati that they didn’t say anything were apoplectic. Some pieces haven’t yet come into the spotlight, and need to be aired. The pressure isn’t just about moral topics and the manipulation of voters’ consciences.

I think I should go have a chat with Julian. I do, after all, have a number of ulterior motives to go to London. The Embassy of Ecuador is just a stroll away from where I would stay, which is just on the other side of Hyde Park (with some 40 volumes of materials to analyse there…), and a bit closer to the American Embassy [!], and a stone’s throw from Tony Blair’s back yard. I’ve been waiting to have a certain chat with Tony since early 2010 about a certain televised debate I would like to set up. He would be the moderator. It’s on a topic he’s spent his retirement facilitating one way or the other. A best friend of mine who is also a best friend of his would boil the billy for the encounter. I don’t think it’s illegal to speak to Assange, or slip a message to him, since he hasn’t been formally charged with anything as far as I know. If you know differently, let me know.

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (Hurry! He’s dying! edition)

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IMG_20170314_084735Just before the Big Storm slamming through the eastern U.S. right now, these itsy bitsies (some will say they are noxious weeds) were seen spreading out low on the ground in back of the rectory. They need a tiny bitty vase. O.K. Found one. An old super tiny Mass cruet. Perfect. Here’s the result in the tiny chapel on the gradines to the right side of the tabernacle. The wooden tabernacle-esque box to the far right contains the oils, the olea sancta for the various sacraments provided in the parish. I bought that box from Sacred Heart parish in Brevard. It’s from the old church, now a museum, in another part of town.

I have a confession to make regarding these flowers for the Immaculate Conception. Many, indeed most of them are simply pictures I take in the wild with the flowers being very much alive. Some of them can’t really be picked and transported as they would wilt and die no matter what one does (such as the showy lady slippers near the hermitage) even before they could be put in a vase and be put before our Lady. Then there are those flowers behind pasture fences or in the neighbor’s yard next to the rectory. Can’t pick those. Lots of times I’m just lazy and hope that the picture and good intention and writing in honor of our Lady will suffice. It’s only on occasion that I actually pick the flowers, throw them in some water in a vase, and put them before a statue of our Lady somewhere in the rectory. I’m bad and evil. However, I would like to start anew with this earnest edge of this kind of death offering. When I can, when I push myself a bit, it’s a joy to do this.

That bit about a “death offering” of flowers in a vase is a reference to that style of art called “still life,” with life that is still being at least on the verge of death: picked flowers, picked fruit, caught fish, hunted and still bleeding wild game, etc., all useful or beautiful in their own way, but with an edge of death on all of it, that is just now about to lose its beauty, so… hurry! In Europe this is called “nature death” or natura morte. We like to think that the flowers we provide are full of life, but instead, if we’re honest, we know that death is just around the corner.

The reality is that Jesus picks us as if we were flowers to give to His dear Mother. Dying to ourselves so as to live only for God is rather traumatic. Our Lady intercedes for us: “Hurry! He’s dying!” But in dying to ourselves, letting go of the pride of life in this world, falling into the grave, has us look forward to the resurrection, when the beauty of God’s life within us will never fade, will always shine in full beauty.

We’re picked by our Lord when we go to Confession, go up to Holy Communion. He loves us, and rushes to show us to His, to our Mother.

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Removing Pope Francis by civil force: ultratraditionalismists and machetes

eucharist pope francis

So, those who have been ultra-traditional-ism-ist-icized (not with Tradition) are at it again. Not content to be heretics in claiming that the papacy is merely an abstract office instead of the Church being founded on the very person of Simon-Peter, they have now gone the next step to encourage ruminations about physically, forcefully removing the person of the successor of Saint Peter.

The papacy is a sine-qua-non, without which the Church is no longer. I’m not talking about the time between the death/abdication of one pope and the election of another, but rather the heresy that the Roman Pontiff answers even as regards the faith to civil power.

Usually, those who are ultra-traditional-ism-ist-icized claim that there is no real civil power, as the Pope is all about being the immediate power regarding minutiae of mere political matters such as whether firstly to fill in a pothole in whatever secondary road or firstly to fix whatever broken down school bus. But then, twisting their britches in a knot, they condemn such ultramontanism in an effort to say how reasonable they are. But now, they want to put the papacy under civil pressure and do violence to the Holy Father.

As their head spins around like that of William Roper before he married Meg, so does the interpretation they put on Dignitatis Humanae. It is to laugh. Or cry. How sad. I’ve opined previously that some of these commentators seem to be communists, or supported by George Soros. Clever little things. While I was not of that opinion in the more remote past, and was even willing to write for them at one point, their possible depth of nefariousness is being confirmed for me day by day with the articles that are published by them, articles which, for instance, claim that the abuse crisis was about pedophilia instead of homosexuality and that pretty much all clerics are clericalists and participate in the same. This seems to be a SNAP concept which flies in the face of the John Jay report. I should note that some of the most strident ultra-traditional-ism-ists snapped up a certain blog writer who, with her all time favorite post, claimed that traditionalist priests put their elbows on the altar at the consecration so as to have gay sex with a transgendered version of Him who is being sacrificed on the Altar. The blasphemy is, for them, to be reverenced. But they are not of Tradition, but merely belong to a politicized ultra-traditional-ism-ist-icized point of view for the sake of destroying the faith of the faithful. No? I think Pope Francis was correct to speak the truth bluntly to them, as they do seem to be all wrapped up in κοπροφιλία and κοπροφαγία. Tender snowflakes that they are, they were offended, apoplectic.

My question is, why do they have so very many followers? Why do people, otherwise believers, so fiercely support them?

I’m getting to think that Archbishop Fisichella was correct to opine that the canon law against violence against the Holy Father also includes incitement to violence against the Holy Father, that this also brings with it an excommunication. Ed Peters argues against this, and I’m sure he’s correct regarding the strict interpretation of the law. But the way things work out in practice, with boots on the ground, is that violence can sure enough come about. For instance, a radio talk show in Rwanda turned out to be responsible for the genocide in the war crimes tribunal even though perhaps the people and guests on the radio never lifted a machete themselves.

I mentioned to Father Gordon J MacRae that I might be writing about this today, and he reminded me that today is the fourth anniversary of the election of Pope Francis. He said that readers might do well to revisit his post written at the time: Pope Francis and the Lost Sheep of a Lonely Revolution.

For myself I say this: I will continue to profess the faith, including faith in the Papacy of the Church, which remains One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.

For the ultratraditionalismisticized I say this: Don’t be so bitter that you lose your peace and lose your faith and turn to heresy for comfort. Help to bring clarity and the love which is truth and joy in the Holy Spirit to those who are confused. Don’t be part of the problem. Evangelization is not about being a tender snowflake in this Church militant. Evangelization is all about Jesus, Divine Son of the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God. It is He who will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Let yourself be salted with the fire of His ardent love. Bitterness without love, that is, finding refuge in heresy, is not the bitterness of true love found with her of whom it is written:

“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look around and see. Is there any bitter grief like my bitter grief that was inflicted on me, that the LORD brought on me in the day of His fierce anger?”

pieta

Don’t be heretics. Remain in solidarity with Jesus and Mary as they are in solidarity with us. Don’t run away. Did all the Apostles run? Yes. Judas ran into hell. But the others finally returned, were forgiven, became great saints. What about you?

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Hillbilly heroin in my parish. What to do for evangelization? Ideas?

oxycodone

There are 8,600 total residents in Graham County. Subtract a thousand or so for the tiny tots, another few thousand for the 1/2 year cabin dwellers paying tax on their properties, another few thousand for those who are clean from drugs altogether, another thousand or so who have legitimate paliative needs, leaving us with, say, 4,300 or so. How’s my math? Now, divide that into 885,800 opioids prescribed for Graham County last year. That’s prescribed, mind you. The drug industry, besides the meth labs and heroin dealers (we’re behind the times here), is all about people taking prescription meds WITHOUT a prescription, buying the pills on the street, you know, cut with fentanyl, maybe a bit of heroin. Besides the open and protected moonshining (“dry county” laws protect the industry), the economy is all about drugs. We get needles in our church parking lot. Few use needles (its relatively more difficult). The irony is, people come here to get away from the drugs. Some pain relief is legitimate of course, even life saving, necessary. I know that.

If you look up a graph of this kind of drug use, you’ll see it absolutely skyrocketed after 2008, when people fell for the absolute entitlement brainwashing and subsequent depression and low self-esteem. It doesn’t help when a percentage of the backwater churches scream out that everybody is going to hell no matter what because that’s what’s in the Bible. But it’s not. That’s blasphemy. Jesus didn’t die for nothing. Sometimes I think that some “ministers” are simply political operatives who dumb people down and turn them away from religion as if this were their only purpose in life. They’re not political operatives, but, wow, you’d be tempted to think ole George Soros had a mountain retreat here. Oh wait! (I don’t know). It’s just that, I mean, can anyone be that mean and that ignorant of what’s in the Bible? I feel so sorry for them. They are truly sheep without a shepherd. But they are all my parish in a way, right? I’m to want to share with them the greatest love of my life, the Lord Jesus, right?

For years, decades really, I’ve been ruminating about evangelization in just such a place as this. I got a call just the other day which may coincide with this rumination, indeed, with what I see as the great need in this area. Anyway, do you have any ideas? Don’t think that the Legion of Mary hasn’t already bloodied their knuckles knocking on EVERY single door in the county! Jesus is working on people. And they are chomping at the bit wanting to know more. But we have to make it easy for them to learn. To be Catholic in this area is not at all politically correct. Prison ministry is one way. Visiting the sick and shut-ins another. O.K. But… Also, I’ve got swaths of two other counties.

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Liturgically appropriate bird feeders

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During this Lent, it is the Purple Finch which abounds at the bird feeder out front of the rectory. Purple is penitential by way of remembering how the color purple was used against our Lord. Purple dye was extremely rare, extremely expensive, obtained only from certain mollusks up near Lebanon in the days when our Lord walked this earth, and therefore affordable only by kings. Remember when violent Herod clothed our Lord in a purple robe and sent Him back to Pontius Pilate?

Embrace purple. Carry with you the weight of the glory of God as He is mocked and ridiculed and scorned and sent to His torture and death, He, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace. Do that, and be free as a bird.

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CIA hacking: nothing is as it seems.

CIA

  • Rule number one: Don’t get caught.
  • Rule number two: Nothing is as it seems.

המוסד did this the other year, that is, looking vulnerable and going out of their way (too much, really) to bait hackers.

Now it’s the CIA’s turn to bait hackers: “Oooo! Look at us! We’re so vulnerable and confused! Oooo! Please be nice to us!” Yeah. Right.

  • Rule number one enhanced: If you get caught, make sure it’s because it’s a ploy: you want to get caught.
  • Rule number two enhanced: Nothing is as it seems, really.

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Update: DHS / Main State P-M Affairs: “Who are you anyway ‘Father Byers’?!”

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Well, well. That’s interesting. The post going by the above title was scrubbed from the blog. Maybe it’s just a computer glitch. Anyway, my “I-9” went through without further questions. So, whatever. It simply doesn’t matter. I now continue with other aspects of tax withholding, setting up direct deposits, etc…

I had one other experience like this. My “Shadow” and I were texting back and forth for the first time ever not all that long ago. Then his phone was stolen. That texting “conversation” was shown to the police by the thief (perhaps she said she “found it”) as it looked – how to say it? – suspicious. It contained the name and number of a guy in Main State’s Political-Military Affairs, a guy with a six billion dollar budget who coordinates between the Pentagon and various… um… groups, and who dreams up and runs drug and gun and security related programs in various countries (and whose successor is now an Obama appointee, an Ambassador now with no direct superior perhaps for the rest of the Trump presidency…). That’s one less level between the President and some… um… programs… It was a predecessor directing this office who had written me a two page official letter already decades ago. Anyway, the police called my “Shadow” to come pick up his phone. He told me it was totally scrubbed and unusable. But, he was not detained or questioned. You gotta love that.

But now there is another developing problem, scrubbed phone or not, since my “Shadow”, seemingly following up on that texting, began sending me instantaneously traceable money-orders, each for $100. I just now got the fourth one.

  • On the one hand: Is he doing reparation for having become my “Shadow” way back in the day (that’s not the kind of reparation I want at all)? Or is he helping out a priest whom he considers to be poor (though I’m not in dire straits at all)? Either of those would, I guess, be well-intentioned. And I very much appreciate that. Very thoughtful. Very kind.
  • On the other hand: Perhaps someone might form an opinion that this is a result of blackmail or extortion against him on my part. That’s simply not the case either. As I get to know him better, I wish him the best. And I would anyway. After all, he’s my “Shadow.” And anyway, I always report this kind of “personal gift” on the blog, for-the-record, as is my practice. But he also knows that. Back to number one?
  • But it would also be good for him to stop this money-order thing, as it could also look like bribery on his part, kind of a reverse blackmail/extortion, so that, in receiving said monies, I had better keep my mouth shut, or else, from any number of directions. The question to a growing number of people would then be, about what is he so concerned? So, I suggest to my “Shadow” that the money-order thing just stops in the best interests of everyone however good and excellent and totally innocent the intentions have been in providing these monies.

Anyway, he knows what I want, and it’s not from him, it’s from P.-M. of Main State. I still want that. It would put a kind of double reverse on civil effects of big drug-money concerns as I entrench myself in cleaning up some of that bit of evil in this region.

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (dumpster invisibility cloak edition)

This is the gorgeous view one has from the dumpster at the soup kitchen (now so very far from the parish), where I stopped in the other day (not inside the dumpster this time!) while doing my rounds in Western North Carolina, finally getting the vehicle back from the dealer after using a loaner car for almost five weeks (because of a catastrophic failure of the seat belt).

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been to the soup kitchen. Many of the same people were there both in the kitchen (including my old neighbors who kind of run the place on Tuesdays) and in the dining room. On the one hand, the greetings in the kitchen were raucous, and I was invited to become a regular participant on M.C.’s local radio talk show (too far!). I was quite shocked that I was totally invisible to those in the dining room. Totally. It was like I was wearing some sort of invisibility cloak.

If society in general chooses not to see certain people, those certain people can choose not to see anyone right back, right? That runs so deep inside the human psyche and that’s even more effective than an invisibility cloak.

The Immaculate Conception chooses to see us while we are in the dumpster for whatever reason. We see her beauty and she sees us, wants to see us, is always solicitous for our welfare with her maternal love, wanting us to know her dear Son all the more not only here in this vale of tears and invisibility but also in heaven.

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Experimental recipes 1500 calorie diet: You’ll never know you’re dieting

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Breakfast Extravaganza (numbers are calories)

600 Calorie Oatmeal: microwave for 2 to 2 ½ minutes:

  • 150 – ½ cup oatmeal
  • 030 – 1 cup unsweetened vanilla natural almond milk

Then mix in:

  • 130 – ¼ cup raisins
  • 105 – 1 sliced up banana
  • 060 – 1 tblsp chia seeds
  • 050 – 2 tblsp milled flax seeds
  • 075 – 2 tblsp protein powder (because it was a gift)

I’m sure it’s not good for me, but I also down lots of coffee (zero calories).

Lunch on the Run

  • 000 – green tea / ginger root tea in a thermos. Stay away from Kava and any “detox”, comfrey or any herbal teas, though hibiscus is good and is often combined with ginger root and lemon. This may well be enough after such a breakfast.
  • 085 – perhaps for a snack, maybe an individually packaged skim milk string cheese.

Dinner

You still have 900 calories or so to play with. Good things include broccoli, eggs (though I’m a bit allergic), chicken (white meat), split peas, kale, tomatoes, balsamic vinegar. For a desert, you might mix blueberries in with 1 cup of zero-fat plain Greek yogurt. The yogurt clocks in at 22 grams of protein and just 180 calories.

Suggestions from those in the know (this is a whole different universe for me) are much appreciated. I know nothing about cooking at all. (That’s why I’m now on a diet.)

I’m guessing it’s good to stay far from antibiotic meat, processed meat, canola / vegetable oil (except olive oil with its zillion calories), margarine, soda pop diet or regular, white rice and pasta and potatoes and white bread. Moreover, processed sugar and especially alcohol of any kind, but especially liquor, acts like a poison and I perceive it that way, feeling like a chemical waste dump for days after just one drink offered to me at whatever get together with priests and/or families of the parish. It’s true I’m not a drinker, but things get especially tricky when on a diet.

So far, I’m losing a pound a day. But that always happens at the beginning and doesn’t mean much at all. That loss will slow down very quickly indeed.

The doctor said: My doctor called me up about the results of my Shrove Tuesday visit (after years of not going to see him). He got my blood pressure down to 118 over 74. Sweet. Speaking of sweetness, he said I’m no longer pre-diabetic as the three month blood assay put me in the normal range of blood sugar.

However, he did say that my bad cholesterol is a bit high and the good is low. He was surprised to hear that all my doctors around the world, including the Mayo, told me that exact same thing with the exact same levels my whole life, adding that they don’t know why that’s the case. He wants to experiment with me, having me down a tablespoon of Flax Seed Oil every day. This is in place of cold water fish oil, which has some really bad side effects, including bleeding if you take a bit too much. He also offered that hemp oil would be an alternative! However, mind you, hemp oil has tons of side effects that I don’t want to have anything to do with. Blech! Spit spit spit. Acchhh…. spit. I’ll just get a jug of Flax Seed Oil if I can find it. So far, I’ve been unsuccessful. Just the milled seed.

Exercise? My doctor says it’s overrated! I have plenty of physical conditions that really make exercise impossible. But maybe, maybe, things will change a bit as I loose weight.

I’m not alone: A priest friend, a famous canon lawyer in the universal Church, wrote:

  • I’m an inch taller and was 10 pounds heavier than you but i have lost 30 pounds since November. Now 251 and can’t  seem to lose more. Am eating mostly vegan except when i go out. Feeling much “healthier” and hoping to lose another 50.  Oremus pro invicem…

Yes, well, as a kid I was 1.75″ taller than I am now. I had a spine compression event of five vertebrae a few years ago, and I’m also older now. Just wait! The weight I gave of 271 included 6 pounds of clothes at the doctor’s office. Today, I weighed myself and I was 260, meaning I’ve lost a pound a day so far. That will slow down after a while.

I’ve been warned about the plateaus beyond which it seems impossible to descend. EVERYBODY’s got their way to do diets I’m finding out very quickly, and it’s all very emotional (as it involves change), and everybody’s right about what they do and everyone else is wrong!

I’m thinking the “JUST EAT LESS” method sounds reasonable. Counting calories is a pain but it’s also kind of interesting to see what’s what in different foods. You can rearrange what you normally eat less of accordingly. This method slows down as you lose weight because the ratio of what you need to maintain weight vs. losing weight becomes smaller. However, if the calculation about eating 500 less calories than is needed to maintain weight is correct, eating only 1500 calories a day will get me to the desired goal for my height, etc., 189 pounds. I’m thinking this will take a year.

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Catholic-Judeo Spirituality of Fasting: It’s all about squealing with joy

anthony paul

Fasting with a spiritual purpose is different although overlapping in many ways with mere nutritional dieting, the latter of which can, by the way, also have profound spiritual motivations. After all, we are not Promethean Neo-Pelagian Self-Absorbed Self-Congratulatory Manichaean Gnostic haters of the physical universe, are we? No. After all, our Lord Jesus is Incarnate, the Divine Son of none other than the Immaculate Conception. Some quick points:

  • Fasting goes way back to the time of the formation of Adam in the Garden of Eden, even before his wife was brought forth. God commanded Adam not to eat that which would harm him, but gave him free will to do as he chooses. Adam did not fast from the forbidden fruit of perceiving any good as admixed with the evil of egoism except if he should assent to enmity over against Satan, assent to the redeeming, saving grace from the Son of the Mother of the Redeemer.
  • Adam was thrown out of the paradise aspect of the garden lest he attempt to grasp after that which he could not understand, the fruit of the tree of the living ones, feigning unsuccessfully that he could, by his own efforts, thereby gain eternal life, but instead necessarily only hurting himself all the more. Mercifully, the cherubim with the fiercely flaming sword were stationed to protect the tree of the living ones, converting his grasping into receiving if he should humbly so choose.
  • As we grasp and are then painfully routed by the ardent enmity over against Satan that is God’s love at the end of that sword of the fierce cherubim, we see our weakness all the more clearly, excruciatingly clearly, so that we might choose to give up trusting in our own efforts of grasping and be humbly content with receiving the fruit of the tree of the living ones, thankful for the eternal life we then receive.
  • But we are weak, and we fall when we choose to grasp instead of receive, setting up gods for ourselves and being delayed in entering the promised land. And we are pedagogically punished, analogously, for forty years of anguish in the desert, learning not to trust in ourselves but instead in the Suffering Servant.
  • That Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ, would, of course, found mercy on justice and stand in our stead, demonstrating this by being tempted for forty days and nights in the desert, fasting because we had instead glutted ourselves. In those temptations, those mind games of Satan, Jesus answered each and every time – no matter the temptation – with reverence before, obedience to, and love of His Heavenly Father. That is what we must learn: not mind games, but love. He, Love, conquers all.
  • Brought to the tree of knowing good admixed with evil, the cross, our Lord transforms it into the tree of the living ones, and after we fast in those days of His passion and death, He would have us feast on the fruit of the tree of the living ones, which then we don’t dare to grasp ourselves, but which we then, by His grace, that ancient enmity over against Satan, He would have us instead humbly receive, providing us thus with eternal life.
  • Fasting is not about saving ourselves, pretending to become ‘stronger’ (preparing for a bigger fall in our pride), but rather we begin, endure, and conclude fasting with friendship with Jesus:

Before: “Jesus, I’m terribly weak, and if I fast I get headaches and am at the ready to be testy with anyone in any situation. Jesus, please, in having me see how desperately weak I am, have me die to myself altogether so as to live only for you, trusting only in you.”

During: “Jesus, I trust in you… Jesus, I trust in you… Jesus I trust in you…”

After: “Thank you, Jesus, for teaching me so much about how you are our only Savior, and that to trust in you is to love you, and be brought by you to our Heavenly Father. Thank you, Jesus.”

I think it was reader sanfelipe007 who mentioned the joy of a young child jumping in the arms of a loving father, squealing with joy, and how much Jesus could not but immediately present such a soul as His gift to our Heavenly Father. I paraphrse. But I really, really like that… squealing with joy…

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1500 calorie diet: join me (chocolate bacon once in a while)

That’s chocolate bacon made by friends for my birthday. I love chocolate bacon.

I’m 57, male, 6’1″, totally sedentary of necessity, with a broken down body.

Current Weight: 271
Healthy Weight Range: 140.0 – 189.0
Weight Goal: 189
Current BMI: 35.7
Healthy BMI Range 18.5 – 24.9
To maintain current weight: 2528 calories
To lose weight: 2028 calories

Actual caloric intake recommended by my doctor: 1500 calories

There’s a calculator here.

It will take me a year, going quickly at first, then slowing down, although always the same 1500 calories. Consistent, retraining the body slowly.

After all, the body is to be a temple of the Holy Spirit. I know some of you fast all the time. Have pity as I learn.

The diet consists of eating less. Labeled food tells you the calories. Google the rest. Add it up during the day. Easy.

And then there’s Saint Paul of the Desert (not dessert). You have to start somewhere. I start from really far away from the goal. Perhaps the Angelic Doctor Saint Thomas Aquinas will help me. He had a glandular problem. I take medicine that ensures weight gain. Not so easy.

Anyone want to join me?

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On being poor (in spirit)

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A good friend of mine is very poor. He mends his clothes with bailing wire and glues on shoe cleats which he makes with discarded pieces of wood. He doesn’t waste anything and has an appreciation for everything, always and in every circumstance grateful to our Heavenly Father for all that he has, particularly his reception of the goodness and kindness of the Lord. He walks with our Lord in humble thanksgiving. He would be the first one to say that he is not to be praised, but would readily offer his example to be followed in whatever way according to our own circumstances. In this way we also help each other to get to know the powerful love of our Lord Jesus who walks with us.

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