Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (To mow or not to mow edition)


The rectory lawn is looking a bit seedy. My neighbor has one of those turn on a dime mowers and can do my lawn in just a few minutes and has insisted since the beginning of cutting the rectory lawn since, anyway, he’s cut this lawn for the last number of decades, just to do it. I never say a word except thank you, and maybe give him something really cool once in a while. On his own, he said that he never cuts the lawn in Winter, never January, February or March, on principle, as that just wouldn’t be right.

Meanwhile, the lawn is therefore full of little beauties for the Immaculate Conception, like this blue and white and, for Lent, also purple itsy bitsy, they all having gotten a reprieve from being cut down, at least for a while. But while we can, we honor the Immaculate Conception in whatever way we can, a flower here, a flower there. Soon, we ourselves will be cut down from this life, much sooner than later, today, tomorrow, but always sooner than later. And then we will have been happy to have given a little flower, however tiny, to the Immaculate Conception, Jesus’ good mom. How about you, today? Maybe a Hail Mary in her honor for the souls in purgatory? Hail Mary…

Just small. But this is our life, our real life, about the only thing that’s real. Amen.

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Be the turtle: patience x 3


I’m guessing this is a mama box turtle, or maybe a snapper, out near the hermitage. She’s looking to lay a few eggs in the unusually warm late Winter weather. She’s taking her time, wanting to get the placement of the eggs in the ground just right. I’m told the eggs can last two years, waiting for just the right conditions. Turtledom survives, slow but sure, getting it right.

I got a bit of practice with all this while doing the thesis on Genesis 2:4a–3:24, four years of slogging through every letter of every word with brutal historical philology, right back into the cuneiform, correcting revered technical dictionaries, certain that I was doing the right thing but not seeing where any of it was going until the end: patience, patience, patience. I think it goes along with Pope Francis’ humility, humility, humility and Father John Neuhaus’ fidelity, fidelity, fidelity.

These are just some basic foundational aspects of our lives. Just to say: just because I got a bit of practice with some of this doesn’t mean that I’m any good at it. It just means I’m starting to see the supporting scaffolding and thought I’d use a turtle to write about it. Saint Teresa of Avila says that it’s good to make analogies of the spiritual life with the things we see in our daily lives. Yes. I like that. I like it a lot. Nature is very cool altogether. Do you see analogies with stuff in your daily life?

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Mount Carmel Stations of the Cross

I made this set of videos (about 20 minutes all told) during my time living just over the cave of Elijah on Mount Carmel, Israel. The O.C.D.s had invited me to stay there for an entire month during the years that I was a chaplain at Lourdes. I must say that these videos are very emotional for me to watch to this day. What a fright! But… Jesus, Mary’s Son, is just that good and kind! Even though in watching these you don’t move from station to station yourself, I’m sure your heart will be transported to be right next to Jesus, to be with Him in solidarity, and to be right next to His dear mother as she accompanies our Lord, again in all solidarity. Dear Lord…


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Jackass for the Hour: Is your donkey ready for the hour of palms & praise?


This is donkey who has lived near the hermitage for all the years I’ve been in Western North Carolina. Sometimes one hears of a parish, usually a Cathedral parish, for which a donkey is prepared for his hour on which the (Arch)Bishop or Cardinal or Patriarch will ride up to the church on that donkey with all having palm fronds in their hands. I’ve heard of that for the Philippines, for Nicaragua, for Jerusalem. How about your parish?

The Donkey – by G.K. Chesteron

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

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Update: sniper shot in Rome – God’s providence with a message? Jackass!

sniper 2

A “sniper”, in the Autumn of 1999 over in Rome, took a shot at me, a warning shot, I guess. A warning for what I could only guess at the time. I’m guessing it had something to do with a guy who was living there for quite a number of weeks, a bit of a terrorist who had opened up to me, in detail, about his intentions to bomb an island nation near Africa. Of course, as always, I passed such information along. Anyway:

What I wrote in the past: I was up on the top floor of where I was staying, about 85 feet up from street level, a recreation room surrounded by large, panoramic windows. I was standing at a window (top right) with the exit door unto a patio roof on the other side of the building behind me. I loved to stand there and look out over the city of Rome while mulling over a doctoral thesis I was writing at the time on textual criticism of papyri manuscripts. For no discernible reason, I was getting creeped out by a window on the far side of a little valley in the city – a veritable spaghetti bowl of train tracks coming in from every direction – creeped out enough by that window to be distracting, and it was unrelenting. Wanting to think of things more academic, I simply turned to leave out the door onto the roof-patio on the far side of the building where I could pace back and forth to think in peace. But just as I turned out the door to that roof-patio, that nano-second, I heard a sharp make-you-instantly-cringe CRASH-CRACK sound and came back to investigate. I saw a small hole in the window where I had been and some bits of glass round about, but, just glancing at this, not really looking, while my first thought that it was obviously a bullet, I dismissed that thought and figured it was just someone who had thrown a tiny rock up at the building just to do it, and that it was no big deal. It was a small hole. Back I went to the patio and pacing, oblivious to the world, thinking of manuscript symbols and dates and locations and ancient politics and also the “Reformation” and present day Church politics. But the next day and the next I would be back at that window, as was my custom while deep in thought. I let myself be distracted and noticed that a picture on the far wall from the window, just to the side of the door, had been broken by what I didn’t know, perhaps rough-housing while playing ping-pong (there being a ping-pong table on the far side of the room). But then I looked at the window again. It was double-pane. It was then that I realized this had to have been a bullet because of the double panes and the hole being so tiny. I followed the unmistakable trajectory (lining up the hole in the two panes), and it went directly to the hole in the picture inside the room. With that I followed the trajectory the other way, and that led me to a large-windowed room (one window always open) on a roof of a building (quite exactly the height of the one I was in) which, now using google-maps distance measuring tool, I find was 427 feet away. It was the same window that had creeped me out.

sniper 1

The tram and train power wires would not have been in the way. The above picture is from google maps at street level, far below the window where I had been standing.

Left-of-bang advice from those experienced in combat is that you should always take note of those super-creepy feelings. Your senses pick up on things that don’t register in your conscience brain except by way of such warnings as they are things so small you would never pay attention to them even if you did outright notice them. Did I notice but not notice the end of a gun barrel pointed in my direction. At that distance? But your brain registers the information you otherwise can’t.

Anyway, no harm done. That didn’t stop me from hanging out at that window to check out the skyline of Rome before my usual pacing. I won’t be able to go back to that building if I’m ever in Rome to try to find the bullet buried in whatever wall or whatever since the building was sold some years ago.

22 vs 556

UPDATE: Since I wrote the post in which the above was included (about a year ago), I’ve come to know a bit more about guns, including an AR-15 belonging to a parishioner. I remember the holes in the double-paned windows (thick glass in those massive windows, mind you). The holes were tiny. I figured it was just a .22 bullet like for the long rifle we had at home when I was a kid, you know, the kind with the really tiny bullets that will ricochet off anything without doing any damage. That’s what I thought, being amazed that such a bullet at such a distance with such a blunted surface and with no power could ever so very cleanly cut through those windows. But now I realize that one would have better accuracy if that bullet were not a .22, but rather a .223 or 5.56, which have the same bullet width (tiny!), effectively, the same as the normal .22. The .223 or 5.56 is, oh my, ever so very much faster and powerful, as there is so much more gunpowder in a collared cartridge, and the bullets are not blunt, but pointed, apt, then, to cut through those thick panes of glass as if they weren’t even there, with the tip cutting, not pushing through, keeping the holes small. That rather nuances my thoughts about the shooter.

Some additional thoughts about the timing: As mentioned above, at the time of this pot-shot I was trying to wrap my mind around the utter, total betrayal of the Church by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity by way of its documents on ecumenical cooperation on the establishment of a text of Scripture perhaps closer to the original than what we now have. Not that that’s bad at all, but the way they did it was and is still an attempt at a “Reformation” this time from within the Church, going far beyond what the “Reformers” would ever have themselves tolerated in their own wholesale rejection of Revelation as both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition: Erasmus, Luther, et alii… This was a very dark time for me, or, really, a time so full of light that I was just a bit blinded by the radiance. People think that it was some document on justification which bothered me about ecumenical activities back in the day (and it was criticized even by most Lutherans) – and it did bother me – but instead, I was simply consumed by the darkness of the betrayal of Revelation by those who should know better, a betrayal of openly triumphalistic mockery. I know what was said, publicly or privately and by whom, about all this. I saw just how close the Church was to dropping into hell, and was very much consoled that Saint Robert Bellarmine on exactly this topic and this very point had used this very description of the Church as being about to drop straight into hell. The utter betrayal of the faith – and what I saw the consequences of this would be for untold numbers of the faithful for centuries to come – had caught up with me and was beating me down, down, down, down, down. Call me a damn fool to weep for the Church. Call me a damn fool to be beaten down by this crowd, to take it personally, to feel indignant for the Holy Spirit who provides Revelation (both written and Sacred Tradition), to feel indignant for the Incarnate Word (to whom that Revelation points), to feel indignant for the Father (who wants us to listen to His beloved Son). Call me a damn fool for caring when there were canonized saints at the time (more recently) who didn’t seem to notice or care (though they surely didn’t see the problem in all its clarity, hoodwinked as they were by those clever mockers and manipulators). Call me a damn fool. But it is what it is. This is just a personal note of a part of my personal history. I can’t change what was, what I lived, what I experienced. This was the darkest moment of my life. Seeing the Church so close to hell is not easy.

At precisely that nanosecond, the shot came crashing through the window and into the room. Had I not moved a nanosecond before this, that bullet would have blown my heart right out of my chest.

But the guy waited a nanosecond, perhaps by mistake, perhaps on purpose. Had the door jam behind which I had just slipped in that nanosecond been made of wood and sheet-rock or plaster, instead of brick (which he didn’t know), perhaps I would not be writing this. It was solid brick. I’m sure people will laugh, and say that this was simply Coincidence, blah blah blah. Maybe. Coincidence is a dang good aim, a dang good shot, at a distance, right to the heart. What are the chances? About a trillion to the power of a trillion? But that’s not the point.

It’s now almost twenty years since that happened. It only now strikes me that there’s an analogy in God’s providence to be made. I’m a bit slow with these things. It strikes me that the betrayal of the Church by those who should know better can be a bullet more deadly than any bullet shot by a mere rifle.

Character building and all that? No. What’s needed when it comes to the darkness is the light of Christ. We are just so very much nothing. He is everything. It’s all about Jesus. Only Him. How could it be otherwise?

Perhaps this is why I didn’t go near doing character development for Cardinal Frobin in Jackass for the Hour. I was just too close to all that when I wrote Jackass. See: Jackass for the Hour: Frobin in Ch. 27 & Sister Nice in Ch: 29  Weirdly, my life history, including some dramas and actual stomping grounds (exact the same places, even the same bedroom) have mirrored in detail the life of Cardinal Frobin, except, of course, for being a Cardinal. I knew people who knew him in his younger days and during his time in Rome, who knew him very well. I could and should give him a bit of character development in a future revision of the novel.

What I wanted to express in this post is something rather personal. I know I will be mocked for this walk in the darkness, as it were (know that I don’t publish all the comments that come in), and I know that I am making myself perhaps a bit too vulnerable in this way, kind of like Paul writing about his crying out to the Lord to be delivered from Satan, but, it just is what it is. I think what I’m trying to get across is that our Lord grabbed me at that very moment. Perhaps I should write about that experience. Perhaps that is important. Perhaps there are other readers who could gain some hope in seeing what happened when coming to know the Lord a bit more, that is, an increase in hope during a very dark time indeed.


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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (what will be a flower is already a flower edition)


You have heard that it was said, “It’s not human until it’s born, or, you know, a few years later.” But, as Saint Thomas Aquinas says and as all scientific studies proclaim (we are soooo enlightened these days!) what will be a human is already a human, you know, what the death mongers call a “product of conception” or “a tumor” or “a frog” or, you  know, a “platypus.” No. What will be a human is already a human: Don’t murder the innocent.

When Jesus was just a cell in the womb of Mary after the Annunciation to her by the Archangel Gabriel that she would be the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God, this was not just a cell, but was already Jesus, the Divine Son of God, with a full human nature and a full divine nature together in the hypostatic union.

Women say that if they’ve suffered a miscarriage (always terribly devastating) or have procured an abortion (always terribly devastating), whenever they see another child who would be the same age as their own child, this is what they think of: if only… Please God, they will turn to our dear Lord for forgiveness which is there for them.

It also works the other way. I bet when Mary saw a bud of a flower when she was “with child” she thought of little Jesus within her womb. She is the Ark of the Covenant with the Covenant involving Jesus Himself. Saint Paul says that we are to be tabernacles of the Holy Spirit, whereby grace here on earth, a bud so to speak, will turn into glory in heaven. Please God, we make it to heaven. Please God. Please God.

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Situational awareness and adrenaline: competency, fear, doing the necessary


Apologies are in order to readers who don’t like guns, but guns are a part of this priest’s life for the past year and a bit in which I’ve chosen to assist in the defense of self and others in those situations which we hope to God never arise. If one carries, one must practice, a lot, which makes this a lifestyle decision. It’s part of who I am. Not a hobby. It is something for the day-off, a recreation, a distraction, but it is also stop-the-threat serious, and involves, among other things, target practice, situational awareness, prompt readiness, all intertwined.

Target practice:

In the Styrofoam plate (much better than paper or paper plates or cardboard) pictured above, there are sixteen rounds from the Glock 19 9mm from one of the stages of one of the courses that I try to run through at least once on the day-off here in one of the more remote areas of the Appalachian mountains: 4 timed rounds, 4 timed rounds, then 8 timed rounds in the sequence of 4 rounds, reload, 4 rounds. The lines on the plate, marked off on either side of a chunk of a 2×4 (=1.5″x3.5″) represent a smaller version of just a detail of the “inside bottle” of the FBI QIT 97-99 targets also used in the pre-2001 Federal Air Marshal tactical pistol course. Could be a lot better. Especially since this particular stage is only seven yards. With all this I’m much more the turtle than the jackrabbit. It’s important not to give up just because one isn’t immediately perfect.

What I’m noticing with myself as time goes on is less nervousness with the fact of firing a gun. Being a bit nervous is always the butt of jokes for the reason that it’s all too familiar to all involved from the time they took their very first shot and were newbies like me. For me, at this stage, being less nervous means:

  • less pulling down: people do this incorrectly thinking this will solve any muzzle flip
  • smoother trigger pulls: all pistols, not just Glocks, always have a grating, heavy pull, which is good, as it gives you that last nanosecond option not to pull the trigger. I would never get a replacement trigger for a lighter pull
  • feeling less pressure to get in under the time limit of the ever so quick timer, which I’ve finally learned how to regulate for 1/100th of a second: this actually makes for better target acquisition and getting the shot off more quickly and accurately, regardless of, say, drawing from covered holster from 180 degrees at multiple targets.


Being an adrenaline junky is something I did with extreme sports as a kid. A rush of adrenaline would come about because of being in a situation of certain death if it were not for two conditions being present:

  • Being able to use the tools of the trade without thinking, by instinct, with alacrity, regardless of the situation, being relaxed when under pressure
  • Being able to employ adrenaline only for the narrow, immediate circumstances at hand for whatever few seconds of absolute concentration are needed

Adrenaline pumped attention – tunnel vision, time slowed, no sound – is deadly if that attention has to be given to the tools of the trade instead of seconds of exigent emergencies.

I have not forgotten the statement of “The Guy” to his fellow operators when he blew them all out of a competition for only the best of the best operators of all agencies and bureaus and departments and companies and branches of the military some years ago here in North Carolina (other side of the state). It was quite the event with all the top brass and bureaucrats and political appointees watching from bleachers placed for the event. The operators said that he, “The Guy”, must be possessed to shoot that well so quickly, putting ten shots either through the same bullet hole at 10x (8) or at least touching the original bullet hole (2) at 200 yards as fast as he could pull the trigger when participants were instead given a full minute for each shot for that stage of the course. 200 yards, for those who don’t know, is insanity for a pistol. He prefers a version of a Sig .40. His response was that he never participates in mere target practice; for him, every shot (even if it is only a paper target) is a kill shot (what I interpret as a ‘stop the threat’ shot). In other words, for him, every shot is personal to the core of his being. He’s put out more than a million rounds in his life as an operator. To make an understatement: he’s not nervous with guns; he’s perfectly adept using his tools of the trade. The adrenaline only enters in with total involvement in human confrontation in exigent emergencies. Those ten shots at 200 yards were all in utter slow motion, seeing only the target at 10x, hearing nothing else. Adrenaline is then a help, not a hindrance.

Target practice, adrenaline, situational awareness:

Less nervousness means less wasted adrenaline. Wasting adrenaline on a tool is terribly counterproductive. It’s the worst thing for a “carrier” and can have deadly consequences: one is so nervous about one’s ability to use the tool and filled with adrenaline about that nervousness for the tool, that the actual situation, possible methods of deescalation and possible solutions go unnoticed. One is, then, simply befuddled and shut down, with a deadly tool for which one can no longer know what is needed or is not needed to be employed in a situation. I think of those who do carry but have never shot a gun outside of their original qualification if needed in their state, never firing again for decades. That is simply dangerous and is a situation that shouldn’t be allowed. If you want a gun control law that helps, make a law demanding more training for those who carry. I would totally welcome that for aspects of using the tool, knowing the law, situational awareness, deescalation…

Adrenaline must be reserved only for paying attention to what is absolutely necessary, an actionable solution to a deadly force encounter that must be reserved as a follow up of one’s situational awareness. To recap:

  • Situational awareness is not possible when adrenaline takes away awareness of one’s situation.
  • One can’t keep one’s situational awareness as a terribly untoward situation unfolds if one is sick to death that one is terribly unpracticed with a tool otherwise apt to the situation.

“But Father George! I thought you were a priest! Why do you know about guns?”

People all have their histories and unrepeatable circumstances. And I’m also a human being living in this untoward world. And self-defense is not an evil thing. And it’s recreation on the day off. And I’ve actually had to brandish during a car-jacking, though in that incident the police then arrived in force: nine cruisers that I counted.

I put up these posts which show my deficiencies in the process of getting to know what firearms are so that people, including fellow priests might say: “Well, if Father George can do it – dang – even I might be able to do it, because, you know, whatever he can do I can do better!” Fine! It worked! Here’s the deal. If we priests want to be chaplains for our law enforcement – who are being killed off with much greater frequency – then familiarity with the world of weaponry is a pre-requisite in many jurisdictions also in this diocese of Western North Carolina.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Peachy irony edition)


These peach blossoms are near the hermitage.

Amidst the chaos and darkness and idiocy of this fallen world there is, at the same time, all that which is just peachy, but to see that which is peachy we have to have that which is given to us from the Most High, His sanctifying grace, bringing, of course, His love and truth and goodness. Ironically, the most purity of heart and agility of soul one enjoys in walking with the heavenly court while upon this earth, the more one sees, in contrast, all that chaos and darkness and idiocy. It is only a bond of charity that keeps us from running to the darkness so as to be blinded to it (not seeing the forest for the trees in front of you kind of thing). That bond of charity exemplified preeminently by the Immaculate Conception is better than the ignorance is bliss deception, much better.


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Homilies 2018 03 14 – Just who is it working to re-create us anyway?

Jesus: My Father and I are working for your re-creation so that you might live.

His killers: So, alright then; we’re going to kill you.

This is how it always is, for Jesus, for His disciples. Has it ever happened to you?

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Nostalgia or not nostalgia edition)


These Red Bud buds are at a Communion Call house. I am reminded of the massive Red Bud tree that someone cut down at the back of the rectory property when I wasn’t there, perhaps to redirect the stream, but I don’t know. It’s not infrequent that Jesus’ good mom is reminded of the wounds borne by Jesus when he was cut down down and taken away from her. Indeed, He still bears those wounds also on His risen body. The wounds speak of the majesty of the mercy founded on justice, of the mercy which He provides to us and for which Mary, on our behalf, interceded.

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Things I hate to see… But then!

road danger anger

I was out on Communion calls on Sunday, getting on toward a couple hundred miles in this expansive parish, when I wound up behind this guy, and not for the first time, and it’s always the same with this guy: all over the road, over the double yellow or with a tire in the ditch. Weave, weave, weave. You would think he was drunk. But, I think not. Or maybe an angry drunk.

You can’t really tell, but when I’m behind him he always seems to be leaning way over into the passenger seat, yelling down into the seat at what must be just a little kid. I mean, it’s really ugly, like you wouldn’t be surprised if you were to see a little kid thrown right through the closed window and into the ditch.

But then! Then he turns off, always into the same driveway, and is immediately followed by what looks to be a deputy in an unmarked black Suburban with super-blackened windows. Hopefully he’s getting nailed for something, like a custody kidnapping. But, what do I know? Maybe he was yelling at pet goldfish. It’s just that it reminds me of when I was a kid and was in untoward situations in untoward vehicles. Bad stuff happens. I got out of it. I don’t know about this kid. It seems to happen a lot. I’m rarely on that road, and there’s a quantifiable percentage of times that this scenario plays out with this same vehicle, which would mean that it happens a lot more than just when I happen to be on that road impossibly coincidentally behind this very guy. It’s stuff I hate to see. But maybe he’s in prison now.


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Jackass for the Hour: Frobin in Ch. 27 & Sister Nice in Ch: 29

lightning vatican holy see st peter

“I was having trouble figuring out how a Roman Catholic Cardinal could possibly say what Froben is saying. It’s as if he is speaking a different language from Father Alexámenos. If Cardinal Froben had been participating in the Joint Statement business and has pulled over to the “can’t we all just get along pretending that we agree on certain doctrines” side, it makes a little more sense.

“The differences among “Christians” seem to be more than language. Jesus Christ, Who He is and how He works in us, His Beloved Church, is the difference. And then, our response ( ….yes, we have to believe to understand, and God won’t save us without us, but His Church is given, by Jesus, the Key of knowledge, right? )”

You’re right about the Key of Knowledge being given to Jesus’ little flock. We see this in Matthew 18 contrasted to Matthew 16. Important: Papal Infallibility: The Gospel Truth (Matthew 16:19 and Matthew 18:18) I think I’m perhaps the only one to make this analysis, for two historical reasons: (1) The far reaching understanding of the “perfect” tense in New Testament Greek brought about by Ignace de la Potterie and used in his analysis of the wonderful change of name of Mary by the angel in Luke 1:28 was not something to which anyone paid attention previously; (2) No one but no one wants to go near the truth of infallibility in Matthew as this would be considered to be politically incorrect by the bullies that be.

Anyway, while the faithful do not have the gift/burden of infallibility as does Peter, both they and Peter have exactly the same opportunity to assent to the same Faith of the same Tradition as supernaturally provided by the same Holy Spirit. To put it differently in the extremely important Gethsemane of Cardinal Siri, it’s all “univocal.” Unfortunately, that book is criminally jacked up in price on Amazon, so, I guess it’s out of print. You might check with, if I remember correctly, Angelus Press. Siri’s presentation, by way of examples, is superb.

To the point: problems can enter with our understanding and assent for a variety of reasons. Difficulties are to be brought to Peter. We all free will with this assent any may not want to assent to the Faith for a variety of reasons, such as political correctness (which is always about being a bully and being our own saviors). All things being equal, we are not exempt from free will just because we are Catholic.

Having said all that, I’m quite sure that the reader knows all this better than do I. The question is really about how such a situation as a Cardinal (or for that matter in other contexts, a pope) might not be assenting to the Faith, that is, not if that is possible (such as with Judas: Arise! Let us be going! Look! My betrayer is at hand!), but rather, precisely, how it is that this can be. In other words, by what perspective is it that a Cardinal, who should know better, does not know better, or has chosen to be a bumbling political animal such as Froben).

That’s my guess as to the intent of this question as the same reader offered a comment a while back, in Chapter 7: Like a metronome, about a much more devious (in the novel) Cardinal Fidèle. There was no difficulty with the fact of him being so manipulative. The reader, with great kindness, said about the presentation of this Cardinal:

“The first part of this chapter, the description of Cardinal Fidèle and his thought-philosophy-conscience-character evolution, is a tour de force.

“Charitable depth, rare. I do believe he is based upon a real person.”

In other words, could I do with Cardinal Froben what I did for Cardinal Fidèle? That’s a tall order. The problem is that Froben and Fidèle are polar opposites. Froben is an entirely political animal in the sense of a bumbling bully looking to be a self-congratulatory “man of consensus” as they say. That’s his choice, where he’s chosen to go. Fidèle, on the other hand, is manipulative and political from an entirely perverted sincerity in that he actually does want to be wrong, but he cannot refrain from testing God, something which opens him up to demonic possession. Opposites attract. I could add all sorts of anecdotes (data, if you will) in character development for Froben, and I may just do that so that he doesn’t seem so boxed, so much like a straw man.

Froben is not a straw man. I cringe at stories to tell. I do sometimes mention them, if only by a place name that is impossibly in the story and those in the know would know exactly what I’m talking about. But I could make all that more explicit. The worst thing about Froben is not any participation in any document on justification – though he may well have rejoiced to see how this was rammed through the Holy Office – but rather his own documents on ecumenical cooperation in establishing a text of Scripture as close as possible to the original through “scientific” studies of the papyri, codices, etc. In the end, for him, as spelled out in this chapter by way of accurate summary of those documents, the importance of the inspired texts is to be reduced to that which is:

“small t” traditional, pastoral, liturgical, apologetic, sociological, organizational, cultural, political, geographical, psychological, intellectual, attitudinal or even economic.

Froben’s rejoicing in the “Principle of No Principles” and his agreement with who is said to have the “sum total of authority” is egregious.

Finally, it must be said, when it comes down to real error, there is no reasoning, no making it better, no making sense of anything. That’s why error is error. It would be “self-harming” to try to understand how error is somehow reasonable to those who run after it. Even those in error would not be able to tell you why they do what they do. They would just brow-beat you into submission. Purposed error is about power without its proper context of truth and justice and love and goodness and kindness and mercy. Purposed error is dark and lonely. How terrible. How sad.

It is better to rejoice in Him who is Lumen gentium, the Light of the Nations, the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, who – whatever “power” people think they have – will  come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire.

Did I mention fire? We’re getting closer to that as the chapters roll by.

Beware. You are warned. In chapter 29 we will meet Sister Nice in all her glory, if one can call it that. To readers not in the know, she will seem to be a mere caricature, another straw man. She does verbalize things I have heard anecdotally from those who in real life would be her colleagues. See does spit out the policies and attitudes of not a few seminaries and dioceses. She does represent accurately the insane PPF (Program for Priestly Formation of the United States Bishops Conference) with all its Pelagianism. But perhaps I could also prepare for her appearance with more references and character development throughout the novel. That would be important I think. However, to readers in the know, that is, who have actually met someone just like Sister Nice – no, really! – well, they will just have a good laugh, or cry. That Sister, in real life, did not come to a good end, but exited everything in the most catastrophic, ridiculously ironic, scandalous way possible. Nuff said. But you’ve been warned. I cringe at the thought of putting up that chapter.


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HOMILY 2018 03 11 Jesus: I’m a maggot not a man – Moses & the saraph serpent

saraph serpent-

This was the homily at Prince of Peace up in Robbinsville this Sunday. Perhaps I got carried away. But I like it when that happens. And… and.. shorter than my usual.

Don’t be afraid!

O.K. Time for Confessions and Mass at Holy Redeemer and Andrews. Then Communion Calls all over both counties. Have a great Sunday of Lent.

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Homily 2018 03 09 – 1st commandment is this: Listen, O Israel! Listen!

I love the singing of this guy in the above video belting out the first words of the Shema. Wow! That’s a bit aggressive. But, hey! Error has no rights, and this guy is right. Good for him! Great evangelization! I love it. Hah! He’s looking over not to the Temple Mount or the Dome of the Rock, but over to the synagogue inside Hebrew University on Mount Scopus (do you see the tower?) where yours truly went to school. Unlike all the rest of priests and sisters at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Jerusalem, I would walk across this valley and back again every day. Everyone knew me by my first name.

Anyway, it’s been a while since I put up any homilies. I better just put one up just to do it. This one is from yesterday. It’s about listening. I should listen to what I myself preach. Yikes! Jesus cites this commandment of listening as the First Commandment. Yikes!

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Murder just now in my neighborhood Time to be a vigilante? No, just a friend

A 29 year old woman just got murdered up the street from the rectory. A quiet small town and all that. Someone said that this part of town changed about ten years ago, for the worse.

The ex-con, who, it is said, also stabbed a dog to death a while back, is a felon, but he had a gun with which he shot the woman to death. He didn’t get his gun legally. There are already laws about felons not getting guns. Criminals don’t care about laws. That’s why they are criminals. His bail is fully a million dollars. But that doesn’t mean he won’t be out on bail. I think that anyone who treats animals badly is extremely likely to treat human beings in the same way.

We now have a police chief, not yet certified to make an arrest. He lives in another state. We have no officers. We do have a State Troopers office in town now, but there might be only one Trooper assigned for three counties at any given time. And in North Carolina the Troopers are not police. They’re assigned to traffic only. There are deputies in the county, but perhaps only three on duty at any given time of the night anywhere else in our expansive mountain county.

One of my shut-ins who lives just through the back yards of where the murder took place lives alone and is ultra-feeble and has no family in the area. I told her that if someone is breaking into her home that she is firstly to call 911 and then call me and then call 911 again. That doesn’t make me a vigilante, just a capable friend looking out for a friend. Do you have someone who will look after you when law enforcement is only hours away?

Oh. One last thing. Don’t ask for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee, for me. Are you ready? Am I? This guy could have gone after anyone at any time…

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.

It’s now Friday evening in Lent. Time for a Knights of Columbus Fish Fry, the Adoration with Stations of the Cross. Jesus stepped into this violence so as to bring us heaven. Having the faith is so very important. What would we do without hope. Last Friday evening our little church was jammed with people. We want Jesus!


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Jackass for the Hour: Two chapters

Jewish ghetto tempio maggiore san gregorio della divina pieta

Looking from across the Tiber River in Rome you see part of the Jewish Ghetto with the Tempio Maggiore. The (in)famous church of San Gregorio della divina pieta is on the lower far right of the picture. That church has a facade that is important in Chapter 28: Perfidious Jews.

It’s been a while since a chapter was published for Jackass for the Hour. Chapter 27 was just put up. That was just now followed by Chapter 28 (Perfidious Jews). The two go together. It would be good to see Rabbi Shelomoh ben Yishaq in all his glory.


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Jackass for the Hour: Chapter 28 – Perfidious Jews

palestinian donkeyJackass for the Hour: Chapter 28 – Perfidious Jews

“My dear Cardinal Froben,” said the Rabbi, “there is a difference between Redemption and, then, its reception in grace unto justification which saves. Human-sacrifice, as a bribery of appeasement of bloodthirsty gods, is from hell, and those who do it deserve hell. Placating gods with one’s ‘generosity’ and ‘submission’ is not religion, but blasphemy, a self-deluding congratulation of oneself. A merely human child, because of Adam’s sin, is not worthy to be a sacrifice of vicarious atonement. Instead, the Messiah, the Suffering Servant – and I speak as a Jew – must be innocent of all consequences of Adam’s sin, then freely take on those consequences, so that, taking our place before the judgment of the Most High, taking upon Himself the justice which awaits us as sons of Adam, and offering our Heavenly Father communion in Charity, in innocence, in goodness, He then has the right in justice, so to speak, to have mercy on us, to ask God the Father that we be forgiven. This Child-Sacrifice – fulfilling all righteousness – makes true religion possible. It reveals what religion is. The would-be sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham pointed to this truth emphatically. Since we are to be children of God, the Suffering Servant must be God, as Genesis 3,15…”

“But is your own work of assent to the Faith not also your justification?” interrupted the Cardinal, trying to win points with both Jews and Protestants.

“Please, do not insult us, your Eminence.”

“I did not intend that anyone should feel insulted. I am sorry,” said the Cardinal.

“But why are you sorry?” asked the Rabbi. “Are you sorry because you think I feel badly about something which you regret only because it makes you feel badly? Do you feel guilty because you had something to do with these feelings? I’m sick of the emotionalism of blinded consciences.” Many in the crowd applauded. They were also tired of this kind of apology-by-way-of-accusation, of belittlement of the supposed over-sensitivity and lack of intelligence of the other.

This reprimand was a new experience for the Cardinal. No one in his office had the bravery to correct him when he attacked them for his own inadequacy, and then insulted them further with the unbounded condescension of blaming them for the ‘bad feelings’ he guessed they had. “I only meant to say,” the Cardinal continued, “that it was Continue reading


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Jackass for the Hour: Chapter 27 – You will burn, burn, I say!

palestinian donkeyJackass for the Hour: Chapter 27 – You will burn, burn, I say!

As the first session of the trial continued, nearing midday, it was early morning in Port-au-Prince. The seminarians were just arriving on foot for the early morning hour of Eucharistic Adoration at the Cathedral before the Mass offered by Archbishop Pòv, as they had for almost a month. Their enthusiasm was real, grounded in Christ. With the Archbishop’s blessing, they were still working in the shantytown. By force of circumstance, because the tables had turned, père Jacques, the Rector of the seminary, was now in prison after having given himself up to the police. The Archbishop was reviewing everything at the seminary, especially the faculty and administration. He didn’t have a chance to do this previously, since he had only recently been appointed.

✵ ✵ ✵

As Cardinal Froben arrived three quarters of the way up the Hall, out of breath for having walked so quickly up the slight incline, the collective din of hushed comments became quite loud indeed. The Cardinal stopped next to the two guards who were beside the people with the banner. He asked the protesters if he could make use of it. They were happy to oblige. The Cardinal asked them to give it to the two guards, who then went with him to the stage. When they arrived, Cardinal Froben had them stretch the banner right across the stage for everyone to see, making sure it came right to the side of Father Alexámenos.

“I thought your vision might be suffering, what with those voodoo cuts under your eyes,” he said, bringing some laughter from the crowd. They had not expected such a show, and were relieved to get a break from the intense attention they had to give to the proceedings.

“Re-veal-ed… Re-li-gi-on… Sa-cri-fi-ces… Child-ren…” read Cardinal Froben ever so pedantically, unaware he was making a fool of himself. The intention of the Cardinal was to make Father Alexámenos admit to the crime of sexual abuse in Haïti.

“If priests and bishops do such things,” said Father Alexámenos, “it is because they Continue reading


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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Challenge to my “Shadow” edition)


Get a framed picture – and put it up – of Our Lady of Guadalupe – or a little statue, and make a shrine for it – and then get a flower, any flower, even like a gone-to-seed dandelion, and put that in front of that image. And then say a Hail Mary. This changes everything, as it gives you hope. I want you to know that you have hope. Anyone can do this. Kinda like that one painting:

shepherd boy

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among 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. Amen.


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Presidential. American. Human.

My feelings exactly.

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