Homily 2017 10 22 – Being a believing citizen – Letter to Diognetus

Today’s homily about rendering to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God started with some comments about the free exercise of religion as opposed to mere freedom of worship and how politicians are to live their faith in their public lives just like everyone else. Separation of Church and State in the strictest sense means that believers will simply be killed, as in Russia, China, et al. Anyway the rest of the homily was about a positive vision of a Christian citizen. I simply read the text of the letter to Diognetus, written around the turn of the first century in the midst of persecution.

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“Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign.

“And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives.

“They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law. Christians love all men, but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death, but raised to life again. They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer dishonor, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult. For the good they do they receive the punishment of malefactors, but even then they, rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life. They are attacked by the Jews as aliens, they are persecuted by the Greeks, yet no one can explain the reason for this hatred.

“To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world. As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their religious life remains unseen. The body hates the soul and wars against it, not because of any injury the soul has done it, but because of the restriction the soul places on its pleasures. Similarly, the world hates the Christians, not because they have done it any wrong, but because they are opposed to its enjoyments.

“Christians love those who hate them just as the soul loves the body and all its members despite the body’s hatred. It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held together, and similarly, it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the world is held together. The soul, though immortal, has a mortal dwelling place; and Christians also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven. As the soul benefits from the deprivation of food and drink, so Christians flourish under persecution. Such is the Christian’s lofty and divinely appointed function, from which he is not permitted to excuse himself.” [From a letter to Diognetus (Nn. 5-6; Funk, 397-401)]

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Analyzing spy Robert Philip Hanssen: the worst traitor in American history goes to Catholic Sacramental Confession

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Why do I know this face? Somewhere in Rome or…

“Robert Philip Hanssen is a former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who spied for Soviet and Russian intelligence services against the United States for 22 years from 1979 to 2001” (Wikipedia).

The FBI has a press release here from just months before September 11, 2001. The History Channel (also youtube) provided much through original post-hoc interviews of the players. All this can be total fabrication, of course. The FBI has everything to gain by getting people to lie about this fellow. But, for the sake of argument, let’s just say it’s all true and then discuss why it is that it is said that he remains an enigma to the FBI in his actions, a mystery as to how he could live such a double life. There is no conundrum about it at all, that is, if we go by what the reports say.

Bob is Catholic. He repented. He went to Confession. I wasn’t there. I’m sure the priest didn’t talk about it. This information came from Bob himself. It’s said:

“He goes to a priest. And the priest says: ‘O.K., here’s what you’re gonna do. Don’t do it anymore. Donate the money to Mother Teresa and all will be forgotten.’ And that’s what happened.” — But seven years later he started spying again. — (Traitors Within)

The last statement about “again” is the key to the FBI’s misunderstanding, their wondering how it is that such a seemingly devout, conservative fellow would start up the espionage he had apparently sincerely given up. That “again” bit is an assumption that must be mistaken. The reason is that the espionage already effected had an ongoing effect continuing to put people at risk from the first confession right through any others. Giving up any money to charity, to “Mother Teresa,” doesn’t cut it. He would have to reverse the ongoing damage of putting people and indeed the entire country at grave risk. He would have to turn himself in.

But I don’t say that the priest should demand that he turn himself in before giving an absolution. After all, in turning himself in, Bob might not ever have the chance to go to Sacramental Confession again. So, O.K., the first confession the priest might give him an absolution telling him, however, that he shouldn’t try to come back for another absolution if he didn’t turn himself in. He might have a chance for confession in prison, right? Though maybe not. However, he would have to undo the ongoing damage his espionage was presently causing. Going to Confession multiple times without undoing ongoing damage to people and to the country isn’t right.

I will say this as well: I’m Pope Francis’ Missionary of Mercy. If some traitor or spy or whatever comes to me for Confession in the same situation as above, I’ll absolve him. And I will keep the secret unto death. Even under torture. Not to worry. Jesus has paid the price for those sins. It’s the least I can do. However, know that he won’t get any absolution the next time he comes to Confession if he hasn’t in the meantime turned himself in, that is, if what he has done still puts people’s lives at risk and he has to turn himself in in order to undo the damage. If what he’s done is a once off thing, like betraying a motorcade route, then he can come back to Confession again, even for the same thing. We’ll talk about what repentance means, and what a firm purpose of amendment means, and how not to fool oneself, to be sure. But he can come back to Confession.

Oh, and the conundrum about the double life of Robert Philip Hanssen? How can that be? Look, it goes back to the “again” thing. He didn’t start spying “again” seven years after confessing these things. He was always spying in that the effect of putting people and the entire country at risk was ongoing and he wasn’t doing a damn thing about it. This was working on him all the time. His hypocrisy manifested itself in other areas of his life. It had to. We’re not compartmentalized. He fooled his presumably multiple Confessors. He couldn’t fool his own soul. He was living off the adrenaline of the “power” of his espionage; he was being destroyed by the adrenaline of the “power” of his espionage. When he actively started up “again”, he just wanted another fix of what he never stopped.

Of course, he can repent of all this and now go to Confession once again. No one is a lost cause, ever. Again, what I’ve written above is merely hypothetical as we only know the “facts” through others, right? The priests can’t say anything, right? I presume they all did the right thing. What I’ve presented is a way that shows they could have done the right thing. Don’t blame them.

Note to his ultra-max prison: If you show this to Bob just like you showed him the documentary about himself, and he wants to go to Confession, let me know. I’ll happily make the trip out.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (opportunity after the redbuds were murdered edition)

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All you see here is a bunch of stumps for the redbud trees that graced the back of the rectory property, along the stream, well within the boundaries of the property, something like a dozen feet inside the boundaries. When I was on retreat, someone had come in and hacked them down. Just a wee bit of cowardly aggression there. Why wait until I’m gone? Here’s a closeup picture of those redbuds in all their glory from a past post on flowers for the Immaculate Conception:

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There are obvious motives to rip out trees along a creek, such as to have the roots rot so that the stream is redirected. But, whatever. I’m not worried about it. It’s an opportunity. One of our parishioners has recommended another tree that’s fast growing, puts down a massive root system, is really beautiful with it’s own bits of red, and is really annoying to prowlers with all its needles on its leaves: Holly. I’ll have to find out the best time to plant such trees. They grow around here naturally. There are plenty around the hermitage.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (not a flower but it’ll do edition)

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When I was a kid, even such as this would count as a bouquet of flowers for my mom, who, with ingenuity, would take this out on the deck behind the sliding glass doors where we hung the bird feeders, and tie it to the railing, put festive bows on it, and let it act as a windscreen for the birds, who, even though they would puff up their feathers when it was really cold (like the common two weeks in February of 52 degrees below zero warming up to 17 degrees below zero at the hottest part of the day) would look pretty cold when the it was also very windy.

When we give flowers to the Immaculate Conception, well, they might not be flowers all the time — what do we know about trees and bushes and weeds and such? — but she’s not going to scold us and send us away with our offerings in our hands, rejecting us in our attempt, but will graciously take what we have and will know just how to put it to good use so that we’re even tempted to congratulate ourselves on our ingenuity such as the birds not freezing to death even though that was not our idea at all.

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Homily 2017 10 20 – Not fearing peaceful snarky Jesus, Judge of living and dead

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Laudie-dog shaking, scared, again

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Laudie-dog only rarely gets scared, and only for a good reason.

When a bear was at the hermitage a few years back, she wasn’t fearful, but went on the attack, the level of her ferocity surely breaking all word records. But no shaking, just doing her job. I wouldn’t want Laudie-dog mad at me. But she’s only done this once, with the bear, but with no fear.

Conversely, when a panther was on the attack, Laudie-dog was scared, to death, shaking, crying, screaming bloody murder, she being the prey, along with me. This event was totally different than that the with bear.

The other year she started to cry while giving some attack barks when a pit bull showed up (that not bothering her) with a thief in tow (and that bothered her). She felt the danger for herself and me. She barked some warnings, but was also shaking a bit. This wasn’t exaggerated, however, as I was home at the time and came out to investigate and letting her in.

The other night I wasn’t here in the early evening, but my 82nd Airborne firefighter friend across the street heard Laudie-dog crying and barking frantically and so came over to see what was happening. He said that she was shaking with fear. He said he’s guessing it was a possum. The thing is, Laudie-dog grew up in the back mountain ridges and has zero fear of critters like possums. She’s absolutely not afraid even of bears, only panthers and thieves. There’re no panthers here. Only some few human beings with malicious intent. There was no pit bull. That other thief is long gone. This was someone else. I’m guessing they made it inside, did whatever they needed to do without disturbing anything, kind of, and then left, kind of, waiting to see what would happen. :-) I returned not long after. Laudie-dog was really very happy to see me and come inside as you might imagine. What I would say to the not-so-good-at-remaining-hidden crowd is this: just come when I’m home. That’s makes it all lots easier. I don’t like seeing my dog scared; she saved my tail a number of times and I’m a bit protective of her.

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U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson, my hero, because you knew it when you signed up for it. Thank you.

special ops deaths

U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), one of four American soldiers killed in Niger, second from left in picture above, knew that he might be killed when he, the “Wheelie King”, signed up for the military in service of these United States.

To Democratic Congresswoman, Rep. Frederica Wilson, such an assertion must be false, as if anyone who would risk his life for his brothers and for his country by signing up for the military must be insanely stupid, as if no one would ever be so generous as to lay down his life for his friends. To Wilson, signing up for the military must simply mean another whatever job with no particular risk ever.

But to lay down one’s life for one’s friends by signing up for the military while knowing the risks – and he surely did – is not stupid; it is generous. But to say it is stupid to that soldiers’ loved ones is to attempt to skew their understanding of the heroic nature of signing up for the military in the first place is it not? This would be a viciously insensitive manipulation on the part of the Congresswoman for private political gain. In my opinion, this is a disservice to his loved ones. Horrific, really. It betrays, it seems to me, a spirit of disrespect for America and for Americans by the Congresswoman. What a shame.

I sincerely hope that his family is able to step back from this controversy in times to come and see the heroic nature of his signing up to the military in the first place.

As a priest, if I were to have the great privilege of being a martyr for Jesus, laying down my life for my friends with the love and truth and goodness and kindness of Jesus, witnessing to His love and truth and goodness and kindness to the end, however politically incorrect in a fallen society, I would love it if Jesus were to present me to our dear Heavenly Father saying of me that I knew what I signed up for. Indeed, I signed up for the love and truth and goodness and kindness of Jesus, and that, my friends, is politically incorrect, enough so that Jesus Himself said, “As the Master, so the disciple.”

Just to say it, when Jesus was obedient to His Father, He also knew what He signed up for, and I thank Him for his generosity. And just to say it, Mary, Jesus’ Mother, knew what she signed up for as well, and I thank her for her generosity as well:

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If Trump didn’t say the words about him knowing what he signed up for, he should have, as it speaks to the ultimate generosity.

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Homily 2017 10 19 – Be nice & go to hell!

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G19-G4 targeting. Also: Saying thanks to Law Enforcement. A note on USCCA.

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This is the steep path up to the hermitage where I’ve been shot at (above and around me) on various occasions in recent years, about a dozen rounds each time, with zero reaction from me by the way (the only possible reaction when you’re in someone’s sights but you don’t know where they are. Anyway, for my own practice:

The tree is “cover” for the sake of FBI course requirements. The cut-in-half stick is set swinging, needing to be cut in half again from varying distances with the least amount of rounds. That’s still a challenge and not, of course, part of the FBI course. Just for fun.

The 7″ x 9″ paper target yardage is at 3, 5, 7, 15, 25. Law enforcement in the parish laughs at this, saying I should use regular size post-it notes. Well, that’s for the future. Since I finally got 100% on the FBI qualification course the target size is now downsized by 1/3. I’ll get to the post it notes when I can again do 100% for the FBI course with the midsize targets. The pattern is getting smaller, and so not possible to count out the 60 for the course, unless instead of using one target for all five stages, a separate target is used for each stage as pictured. It gives a better picture then, of how many misses may happen at whatever stage.

Speaking of the USCCA, I would like to thank a wonderful faithful reader for getting me the USCCA insurance, which I jacked up for hardly anything extra to twice the coverage. Thank you!

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There are some other drills of the Seals and the USCCA that I enjoy. Some of those, like one in the FBI course, requires a mag change. For instance…

At seven yards in seven seconds from the holster with only three rounds in the gun, one chambered, and three in the reload mag at the ready, fire one round in a one inch box, two more in two inch circle. As the gun locks open, reload and fire three more into a box that’s, I’m guessing, about 3″x5″. For me, this is challenge, and therefore enjoyable. Of course, when you have a dirt forest floor this isn’t great for the mags or then, the gun. So, I’ve learned to put out a 2’x3′ piece of cardboard on which the mags fall harmlessly.

I’ve long given up on making any verbal commands like “Show me your hands,” or “Drop the gun,” or “Someone call 911.” It’s a good idea to do that, just not at a public shooting range. The thing is, you only say what you’ve practiced when you’re under pressure and the adrenaline is pumping. In doing this, you let everyone else know what your intentions are. There are plenty of good guys who won’t hesitate to shoot you if you’re waving a gun around in public if they think you are the one who is a danger to public safety. You can’t assume that anyone has seen what you have seen. You’ll also garner for yourself plenty of help. Of course, every occasion is different. Sometimes you have no time for any words or would make yourself a target for any obvious accomplices of the perp, such as a group storming a gas station with ski masks over their faces all pointing their guns at the cash register attendant. Scenario based exercises are best.

I had lunch with a friend at the deli at Ingles Supermarket in Brevard the other day. There was a cop there as well. I offered him thanks for his service which, of course, took him off guard. When I mentioned the other police getting killed around the country and that we really appreciate cops putting themselves at risk in an often thankless job he was really taken aback and visibly deeply moved. Say thanks to a cop today.

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Homily 2017 10 16 – There is one greater

solomon babies

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FBI says BIEs are very likely terrorists intent on killing police

  • “What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want it? Now!”
  • “Pigs in a blanket. Fry ’em like bacon.”

HERE’S THE DOCUMENT

And here’s the Executive Summary. [Note that we owe it to our neighbor to take in the extreme care in which terminology is employed with plenty of nuances ruling out one misinterpretation after another.]

(U//FOUO) The FBI assesses it is very likely Black Identity Extremist[b] (BIE) perceptions of police brutality against African Americans spurred an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement and will very likely serve as justification for such violence.

The FBI assess it is very likely this increase began following the 9 August 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the subsequent Grand Jury November 2014 declination to indict the police officers involved. The FBI assesses it is very likely incidents of alleged police abuse against African Americans since then have continued to feed the resurgence in ideologically motivated, violent criminal activity within the BIE movement. The FBI assesses it is very likely some BIEs are influenced by a mix of anti-authoritarian, Moorish sovereign citizen[c] ideology, and BIE ideology. The FBI has high confidence[d] in these assessments, based on a history of violent incidents attributed to individuals who acted on behalf of their ideological beliefs, documented in FBI investigations and other law enforcement and open source reporting.

The FBI makes this judgment with the key assumption the recent incidents are ideologically motivated.

[Relevant notes:]

[b] (U//FOUO) The FBI defines black identity extremists as individuals who seek, wholly or in part, through unlawful acts of force or violence, in response to perceived racism and injustice in American society and some do so in furtherance of establishing a separate black homeland or autonomous black social institutions, communities, or governing organizations within the United States. This desire for physical or psychological separation is typically based on either a religious or political belief system, which is sometimes formed around or includes a belief in racial superiority or supremacy. The mere advocacy of political or social positions, political activism, use of strong rhetoric, or generalized philosophic embrace of violent tactics may not constitute extremism, and may be constitutionally protected.

[c] (U//FOUO) The FBI defines sovereign citizen extremists as individuals who openly reject their US citizenship status, believe that most forms of [e]stablished government, authority, and institutions are illegitimate, and seek, wholly or in part, through unlawful acts of force or violence, to further their claim to be immune from government authority. The mere advocacy of political or social positions, political activism, use of strong rhetoric, or generalized philosophic embrace of violent tactics may not constitute extremism, and may be constitutionally protected.

[d] (U) See Appendix B: Confidence in Assessments and Judgments Based on a Body of Information.

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Adoration in the parish. Early early!

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The parish has Eucharistic Adoration every Sunday morning from 6:00-7:00 AM at Holy Redeemer. After spending the first 15 minutes in adoration, I head to the Confessional in back of the Church and hear Confessions. The church is pretty tiny, but very devotional, if you will. The ceiling is no higher than the crucifix above the tabernacle. I had a second to take this picture. It makes for good memories. I love this little parish to pieces.

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Flowers for… Our Lady of Fatima! (Hundredth Anniversary edition)

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In honor of the 100th anniversary of the final apparition of Fatima the other day, the parish had a well-participated Rosary rally in the “central park” of Andrews, at the gazebo across from the Post Office. This statue normally is to be found in the confessional in back of the church of Holy Redeemer. More artwork from the 1950s was enshrined in the gazebo as well:

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And, of course, there were flowers for Our Lady of the Rosary, of Fatima, the Immaculate Conception, all around:

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Homily 2017 10 15 The Ferocity of Jesus’ Marriage with His Holy Bride the Church

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Memories from my Fatima century ed.)

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Superabundant Guadalupe roses are still blooming into mid-October with more buds on the way on this day of 13th October in honor of Our Lady of Fatima.

I first found out about Fatima in the mid-1960s when the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima (as directly opposed to the Red Army specifically in Russia) was still called the Blue Army. I loved that as a little kid, going up against the Red Army with prayer, counting on heaven, being a prayer warrior here upon earth. I just thought that was the coolest thing in the world at my five years of age or however old I was at the time.

About ten years later I found myself writing a belated essay on Fatima for Father Robert J Fox of Alexandria, South Dakota. I would end up reading quite a lot of his books. My half-sister was having me go on a two week pilgrimage to Fatima with Father Fox as a Fatima Cadet (there’s that military language again!) along with all the other Fatima Cadets that year (1976 – sixteen years old).

I had gathered my birth certificate, my driver’s licence, the original certificate for my social security number, acquired my first passport, and, finally, my ticket on TAP (Transportes Aéreos Portugueses). This, of course, made it easier for my “Shadow” to then steal my identity, using my clean record to allow him to move even internationally with impunity.

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In Fatima we were brought to all the special places near and far. But then came one of the greatest honors of my life, on the night of July 12, with some 2.2 million pilgrims present (almost twice as many as were foreseen, the most ever). I was invited to be one of the litter bearers. So heavy! I was afraid I couldn’t do it if anyone else carrying with me were to take a misstep. The others kept being replaced pretty quickly to give as many as possible a chance to carry our Lady. Somehow they let me continue to carry. Perhaps they saw how radiant was my face even in the dark of night, happy as can be.

We later would go to visit Sister Lucia in Coimbra. I would return there again as well as to Fatima in 2008 with the other permanent chaplains of Lourdes, France. The chaplains would take a vacation together every year to one of the Marian shrines around the world, comparing notes with the other chaplains of the other shrines. I was happy to return to Fatima once again.

Time to put up the Holy Souls Hermitage series on the Rosary Mysteries once again.

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Homily 2017 10 13 Fatima exorcising the world with Mary’s Immaculate Heart

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Fatima apparition of October 13, 1917

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Slightly revised from EWTN. It had rained throughout the night of October 12-13, soaking the ground and the pilgrims who make their way to Fátima from all directions by the thousands. By foot, by cart and even by car they came, entering the hollow of the Cova from the Fátima-Leiria road, which today still passes in front of the large square of the Basilica. From there they made their way down the gently slope to the place where a trestle had been erected over the little holm oak of the apparitions. Today on the site is the modern glass and steel Capelhina (little chapel), enclosing the first chapel built there and the statue of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fátima where the holm oak had stood. /// As for the children, they made their way to the Cova amid the adulation and skepticism which had followed them since May. When they arrived they found critics who question-ed their veracity and the punctuality of the Lady, who had promised to arrive at noon. It was well past noon by the official time of the country. However, when the sun arrived at its zenith the Lady appeared as she had said she would. “What do you want of me?” asked Lucia. The Lady answered: “I want a chapel built here in my honor. I want you to continue saying the Rosary every day. The war will end soon; the soldiers will return to their homes.” “Yes. Yes.” Lucia said, adding: “Will you tell me your name?” The Lady said, “I am the Lady of the Rosary.” Lucia said: “I have many petitions from many people. Will you grant them?” The Lady responded: “Some I shall grant, and others I must deny. People must amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins. They must not offend our Lord any more, for He is already too much offended.”
As the Lady of the Rosary rises toward the east she turns the palms of her hands toward the dark sky. While the rain had stopped, dark clouds continued to obscure the sun, which suddenly bursts through them and is seen to be a soft spinning disk of silver. “Look at the sun!” From this point two distinct apparitions were seen, that of the phenomenon of the sun seen by the 70,000 or so spectators and that beheld by the children alone. Lucia describes the latter in her memoirs.
After our Lady had disappeared into the immense distance of the firmament, we beheld St. Joseph with the Child Jesus and Our Lady robed in white with a blue mantle, beside the sun. St Joseph and the Child Jesus seemed to bless the world, for they traced the Sign of the Cross with their hands. When, a little later, this apparition disappeared, I saw Our Lord and Our lady; it seemed to me to that it was Our Lady of Sorrows (Dolors). Our Lord appeared to bless the world in the same manner as St Joseph had done. This apparition also vanished, and I saw Our Lady once more, this time resembling Our Lady of Carmel. Continue reading

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The Fatima Century – by Craig Turner

Craig provides an amazing tour of world history relative to the Fatima Century. This was slightly revised and republished by Father Gordon MacRae (About) at TheseStoneWalls.

How Our Lady of Fatima Saved a World in Crisis

Well worth the read especially today, October 13, 2017, the 100th anniversary of the last Fatima apparition.

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Homily 2017 10 12 – Most Holy Trinity – Ask and you will receive

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Stephen Paddock’s motivation and our motivation in not finding his motivation

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It’s really not that hard, not that Kryptic. To whatever degree one is dedicated in all loyalty in all love with God who is love, with Jesus who brings us into that love, that is just how much we become indignant with that which goes out of its way to give ourselves an excuse not to notice that love and truth. To whatever degree I’m dedicated to Jesus, that’s how much I’m disgusted by the claims that no one knows anything about the motivations of a Stephen Paddock: he’s an anomaly, it is said, someone who broke, who is crazy, who is pushed by whatever circumstances to do what he did. The last thing anyone wants to say is that someone can actually choose to embrace the lie of the “power of evil”, i.e., nihilism, sovereignty over vacuousness.

Thus, when we see Jesus on the cross because He was good and kind and unrelenting in merciful truth, we say that this is diabolical, only. But Jesus didn’t die to redeem the devil. He died to redeem us. If He suffered to stand in our place, that means that we ourselves were just that evil in original sin and our own sin. The devil is no excuse.

Here’s the truth about God’s love: He stepped into this world knowing that we, of whatever culture, of whatever country, of whatever epoch in history He entered to be among us, that we would turn on Him and torture Him to death, for we could not possibly tolerate such goodness and kindness and truth, thinking it all to be incriminating of us. We would have to kill him, any and all of us. And we have, by original sin and whatever of our own rubbish. Standing in our place, taking on the punishment for sin, the worst we can give out, death, He had the right in His own justice to have mercy on us, founding His mercy on His justice (Aquinas calling mercy a potential part of the virtue of justice in the Sentences).

In the Apocalypse (1:7) we read that “He is coming amid the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him.” We won’t be able to escape the truth, we won’t be able to escape Jesus at the last judgement. Wouldn’t it be better to realize what the truth of this life is already now?

Being indignant just makes one’s determination to share the greatest love of one’s life, Christ Jesus, with others all the more unstoppable. I’m indignant when I hear that:

  • We’re better than Stephen Paddock; we’re not like the rest of men.
  • We have no need of redemption nor forgiveness because that’s for people who need it, like Stephen Paddock, who, at any rate, is beyond redemption and forgiveness because, you know, what he did was actually bad.

Think about it. That attitude, so incredibly common, gives one a licence to kill. There is no humility. None. And absolutely zero chance of finding a motivation with Stephen Paddock. Why? We fail to look in ourselves. We’re too much like him. We’re afraid to admit it; there’s no admitting: “There but for the grace of God go I.” Jesus didn’t really die for the forgiveness of sin. We didn’t actually kill Jesus off with our sin. Jesus was actually a fool for allowing Himself to be tortured to death, a damn fool.

I remember a local paper covering the Good Friday ecumenical service at the Methodist Church here in town which I had been invited to preach at. Our own Good Friday service (the Mass of the pre-Sanctified as it is called) was later in the day. Anyway, I had mentioned that Jesus had died because of our sins, and what was printed in the paper was that I said that I accused everyone present of being a murderer, with no other nuance, no context. Really?

Stephen Paddock mathematically figured out how to control the god of gaming the system of distraction; killing that god would be the ultimate in attainment of nihilistic power, the only thing left, which is nothing. If we could admit we could be that evil, then of a sudden a thousand other indicators come to light for profiling similar individuals who have made choices in their own unrepeatable but ever so similar histories and circumstances in life. The question is, do we have the humility to recognize the evil, which, by the way, is to admit that know something of it. No one wants to do that, unless one has already done that before the wounds of the Divine Son of God.

If one does not feel the weight (כבוד) of the glory (כבוד) of God manifested with the self-sacrificial love of the Son of God taking our place on the Cross, and so much so that what Stephen Paddock did pales in comparison, one is more like Stephen Paddock than one thinks. The difference is that admission of original sin and our own rubbish and the reception of the grace and forgiveness and friendship of the Son of God does separate us from the likes of a Stephen Paddock more than anything in our own unrepeatable histories. It is only with the introduction of reality provided by the Son of God, only with the introduction of the love and truth of God in our hearts and minds and souls which cuts through the self-congratulatory mind-games by which a Stephen Paddock could do what he did.

Perfect love casts out fear.

Be fearless.

Be full of God’s love and truth.

Rejoice.

Let being indignant help you to share the greatest love of your life, your Creator, your Redeemer.

And then profile with success all the other Stephen Paddocks out there, and stop them, for love of God and love of neighbor.

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