Annie Glenn and John Glenn (RIP) and me preaching with my eyes closed

john glenn annie

Update: As you know, John Glenn died the other day. I thought I might re-publish this article in honor of he and his wife and the encourgement I also take from his hero.

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A great Australian lady who had once been invited to be an astronaut with NASA sent me a story written some years ago about the still very much alive American hero John Glenn and his heroine, his still very much alive wife Annie Glenn. My own father must have known John as they followed each other around the Pacific at the very same time as USMC fighter-attack pilots, at one time both flying Corsairs, both flying a zillion combat missions, both getting planes filled with bullets. So, the story caught my eye. Very moving. Well worth the read. This is the beauty of marriage, for better, for worse.

Annie Glenn, mind you, is the heroine who stands out amidst all the hoopla about John and his extraordinary career. She had a terrible stutter which made some people fairly disgusted with her. Meanwhile, what comes to mind for me is my absolute inability to preach with my eyes open. I just can’t do it. And for some people, this is unforgivably disgusting. They feel used and abused, as if I couldn’t care less about them, or didn’t believe what I was preaching, blah blah blah. All pretty hurtful I must say. I now and again get told off pretty severely after Mass by those in the pews of whatever parish (not mine, as I not infrequently beg my congregation’s forgiveness for this disability). Those who criticize create all sorts of scenarios for the psychological genesis of such a phenomenon, not excluding it being all my fault for moral reasons. Through the decades, priests have been the most awful in their attacks, condemning my total lack of pastoral sensitivity and holding this against me. I regret that some blind themselves to the message of the homily just because I have my eyes closed. A bit of irony there, perhaps?

I have often joked that this is like the Irish monks who made a practice of closing the eyes during Mass since there was Someone more important to whom we are to look during Holy Mass than each other. And if that bit of ecclesiastical history doesn’t work then I add that this eyes closed thing has surely saved me many times. For instance, if I speak about prostitutes as I did recently (what with the Gospel from Luke 7), wouldn’t it be terrible if every time I said the word prostitute I happened to look at this or that woman who thought that I was then judging her in front of everyone else? Yikes!

Anyway, I could certainly identify with Annie Glenn. She overcame her difficulty. I wonder if I’ll just continue with my own little cross until I die. Anyway, no eyes closed in heaven. There is the beatific vision, after all! Please God I get to fly up to heaven better than any astronaut after this life is over and see the Most Holy Trinity, including Jesus, who will, of course, come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Amen.

A quick read: The story of John and Annie Glenn

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Filed under Military

Laudie-dog / PTSD-dog: a reminder…

laudie-dog-ptsd-dog

Laudie-dog has now claimed a plastic bin as her favorite bed in the rectory where she can be happy and lazy and secure, checking every so often to see if I’m O.K. I’m her security project, her little puppy she adopted on that far away mountain top so many years ago, coming to me skeletally thin, with a bit of mange, and shot between the shoulder blades.

After smiling with the realization that I’m just fine, she falls asleep, but every so often this can be traumatic with fierce nightmares, growling, barking and, from the movement of her legs, she looks to be on the attack. And she is. In her dreams.

She saved me from wolves both red and grey, from bears and, most memorably, a panther. I’m guessing it’s the panther she dreams about, as she was the prey while protecting me.

I don’t wake her up at such times, hoping that the process will be even just a little bit healing for her, and afraid to add to the trauma by waking her up in the middle of it. I am thankful to God at such times for creating such marvelous creatures who are so tied to mankind and of great service to us. She deserves a bit of pampering.

Of course, all of that immediately has me think of those having experience in law enforcement, the military, the “Company”, and so on, those who may be suffering from PTSD, which never goes away, though you can somehow in some way learn at least a little how to deal with it, the ongoing battle, the ongoing trauma, not in being pampered, mind you, but by doing what one has always done best, continuing on in a spirit of solidarity with others whether or not these others have a clue about how to be in solidarity with those who serve them often in secret and therefore seemingly thankless ways.

I stand in awe of those who have been of great service all their lives, suffer for it now in every way, and who would – if they could – continue to serve in extraordinarily self-sacrificing ways. Lest we forget, we at least pray for them. And that’s already something very worth while. Hail Mary…

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Filed under Dogs, Military

Correcting Pope Francis’ Correctors

pope-francis-cardinal-burke

Respect and joy in the Lord

I love and respect both Pope Francis and Cardinal Burke.

You have heard that it was said by the latter:

“My position is that ‘Amoris laetitia’ is not magisterial because it contains serious ambiguities that confuse people and can lead them into error and grave sin. A document with these defects cannot be part of the Church’s perennial teaching. Because that is the case, the Church needs absolute clarity regarding what Pope Francis is teaching and encouraging.”

This Missionary of Mercy says in response:

  • Amoris laetitia cannot yet be spoken about as if it were a document already published by the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, for it is not.
  • Amoris laetitia, even if published as is, is not an Apostolic Constitution or even an Encyclical, but simply an Apostolic Exhortation, whose author, mind you, goes way, WAY out of his way in articles 3-4 of Amoris laetitia to assert that Amoris laetitia is simply a conglomerate of opinions for the sake of encouraging more dialogue on the matters at hand. Pope Francis completely disowns this having anything whatsoever to do with any kind of Magisterial intervention of the Church whatsoever, whether ordinary or extraordinary. If it’s published as is in the Acta, well, that just doesn’t make any difference, to wit:

“Since ‘time is greater than space’, I would make it clear that not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by interventions of the magisterium. Unity of teaching and practice is certainly necessary in the Church, but this does not preclude various ways of interpreting some aspects of that teaching or drawing certain consequences from it. This will always be the case as the Spirit guides us towards the entire truth (cf. Jn 16:13), until he leads us fully into the mystery of Christ and enables us to see all things as he does. Each country or region, moreover, can seek solutions better suited to its culture and sensitive to its traditions and local needs. […] The various interventions of the Synod Fathers, to which I paid close heed, made up, as it were, a multifaceted gem reflecting many legitimate concerns and honest questions. For this reason, I thought it appropriate to prepare a post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation to gather the contributions of the two recent Synods on the family, while adding other considerations as an aid to reflection, dialogue and pastoral practice, and as a help and encouragement to families in their daily commitments and challenges.

  • To say that Amoris laetitia would be part of at least the ordinary Magisterium of the Church (see “perennial teaching”) if anyone might like to agree with its contents but that it cannot be part of at least the ordinary Magisterium of the Church (see “perennial teaching”) if anyone might like to disagree with its contents seems to me to be saying that the Pope has no authority to teach on matters of faith and morals to the universal Church as the Successor of Peter. That, of course, would be quite wrong. Amoris laetitia is not part of any teaching of the Church whatsoever not because of anyone’s opinion, however well founded, but because Pope Francis himself denies that it is part of any teaching of the Church whatsoever, insisting as he does on dialogue, etc.

A question might be asked as to whether Pope Francis has a good understanding of Papal Infallibility. Let’s analyze his extensive statements on the matter, and then compare that with what Scripture has for us. This is from Pope Francis’ speech on October 17, 2015, the 50th anniversary of the Institution of the Synods of Bishops:

On the eve of last year’s Synod I stated: “For the Synod Fathers we ask the Holy Spirit first of all for the gift of listening: to listen to God, so that with him we may hear the cry of his people; to listen to his people until we are in harmony with the will to which God calls us”.(14) The Synod process culminates in listening to the Bishop of Rome, who is called to speak [chiamato a pronunciarsi=called to pronounce (a word used for ex-cathedra statements)] as “pastor and teacher of all Christians”,(15) not on the basis of his personal convictions but as the supreme witness to the fides totius Ecclesiae, “the guarantor of the obedience and the conformity of the Church to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ, and to the Tradition of the Church”.(16)

The fact that the Synod always acts cum Petro et sub Petro — indeed, not only cum Petro, but also sub Petro — is not a limitation of freedom, but a guarantee of unity. For the Pope is, by will of the Lord, “the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful”.(17) Closely related to this is the concept of “hierarchica communio” as employed by the Second Vatican Council: the Bishops are linked to the Bishop of Rome by the bond of episcopal communion (cum Petro) while, at the same time, hierarchically subject to him as head of the college (sub Petro).(18)

14) FRANCIS, Address at the Prayer Vigil for the Synod on the Family, 4 October 2014.

15) FIRST VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus (18 July 1870), ch. IV: Denz. 3074. Cf. Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 749, § 1.

16) FRANCIS, Address to the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, 18 October 2014.

17) SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 23. cf. FIRST VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus, Prologue: Denz. 3051.

18) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 22; Decree Christus Dominus (28 October 1965), 4.

Impressive. This makes us wait for an infallible pronouncement by:

  • The Bishop of Rome precisely as the Successor of Peter
  • pronouncing on a matter or many matters of faith and/or morals
  • especially deciding a matter or many matters of controversy
  • directing the instruction to the entirety of Christ’s faithful.

Just to say the obvious: This has not happened to date (this being written on December 9, 2016), and, just to repeat, Amoris laetitia has been excluded from any consideration of it as any kind of teaching of the Magisterium of the Church by the indications of Pope Francis himself.

Meanwhile, I do believe I understand what Pope Francis is doing in not answering various theologians and Cardinals, to wit, he is trying to emphasize Matthew 18:18 (the voice of some of the laity and some of the Synod members) more than Matthew 16:19 (the lone voice of Peter, the Rock), at least for the moment. He is interested in the richness of dialogue, but we see from that October 17, 2015 speech cited above, he is also interested in what can be provided by infallible Peter. Let’s analyze these passages and see some surprising take aways:

Let’s review Matthew 16:19 in utterly pedantic translation

“Whatever you may bind at any given time (second person singular subjunctive aorist active) upon the earth will (third person singular indicative future middle) already have been made to be perfectly standing in that way (nominative neuter singular participle perfect passive) in the heavens.”

What do the verbs mean in this context?

  • Second person singular subjunctive aorist active – The second person singular refers to Peter alone. The subjunctive here is not so much a kind of conditional or wishfulness, but rather depicts the state of actually choosing an option; from the perspective of the actor, there is freedom to the choice: “Whatever you may bind at any give time.” The aorist time frame, whatever delusion your introductory Greek grammars insist on providing to you, is literally “without borders”, that which can happen in the past, present or even future (as is the case here: see below), though usually something which itself happens in a defined time frame, such as the choice to bind. Active simply refers to something actually being accomplished.
  • Third person singular indicative future middle – The third person singular refers to any given object of the action, its state of being. It will simply be what it is (indicative) at that time (future). The middle voice is here used to indicate the status quo to which the actor is also subject, that is, retroactively to his decision to bind something, the truth of that which is described by the following verb, which this singular indicative future middle (“will”) helps to describe.
  • Nominative neuter singular participle perfect passive: The nominative neuter singular refers to the object which is being bound (passive), that is, in an ongoing fashion (participle) in a perfect manner (perfect); mind you, in Greek, “perfect” never refers to a perfectly accomplished action at one point in time, but rather to an action which is perfectly ongoing in a perfect manner since its inception: it always was and will be this way, perfectly, with no change: “already have been made to be perfectly standing in that way.” This “perfect” action structures the capacity of the actor, Peter, to act subjunctively, preempting all choices of Peter except for the one which is consonant which the truth which has always been this way in the heavens. Whatever he may choose to bind at any given time will already have been the case, is the case, and will always continue to be the case in the heavens. Peter cannot choose anything which is not already perfectly established in the heavens. What is in heaven is not an affirmation of what Peter might pronounce; what is in heaven simply is what it is, absolute truth, so to speak. If Peter is wrong about what he intends to pronounce upon, he simply will not be able to pronounce upon it.

Indeed, the part of this equation that people always forget about when trying to figure out the tenses, is that there is a part of this equation which is utterly expendable: Peter. If he is going to get it wrong, he will either die or be incapacitated, but he will not be able to work against what is in heaven already. Being the Successor of Peter isn’t so much an honor as it is a service that may involve laying down his life, for, after all, what do we know? The Orthodox or any others should never be envious of infallibility.

The bit about loosing is exactly the same, verbatim:

“Whatever you may loose at any given time (second person singular subjunctive aorist active) upon the earth will (third person singular indicative future middle) already have been made to be perfectly standing in that way (nominative neuter singular participle perfect passive) in the heavens.”

Let’s review Matthew 18:18 in utterly pedantic translation

“Whatever ye may bind at any given time (second person plural subjunctive aorist active) upon the earth will (third person singular indicative future middle) already have been made to be things perfectly standing in that way (nominative neuter singular participle perfect passive) in heaven.”

And then:

“Whatever ye may loose at any given time (second person plural subjunctive aorist active) upon the earth will (third person singular indicative future middle) already have been made to be things perfectly standing in that way (nominative neuter singular participle perfect passive) in heaven.”

There are some differences besides the plural heavens and singular heaven. Matthew 18:18 is addressed also to the laity about any number of things that may be under dispute. But the verbs and their meanings are exactly the same. But the context removes any infallibility from this other crowd. Let’s see how:

Firstly, in Matthew 16:19, where Peter alone among the Apostles is addressed, only Peter is given the keys of the Kingdom of the Heavens. There is no reference at all to such keys for anyone else in Matthew 18:18. That they have the same access to the understanding of the faith as does Peter is contingent for them in agreeing with Peter, for, as we see in context, the process of a dispute will bring them right back to the Church, that is, as differentiated from Christ’s faithful in general so as to refer to Peter in particular. They are not infallible, he is.

What if Peter is wrong? He can’t be wrong. That’s the point. But say that it could happen, that wouldn’t mean that we ignore him, correct him, unseat him, burn him at the stake, say that he’s not a nice guy or something like that; that would mean that there is no such thing as the Church at all. It can’t happen. Period. Is “dialogue” among the faithful expected by our Lord? Yes. He explicitly speaks of it. But then there is a process to follow. But there is a richness to be expected among so many. That richness is not to be ignored, calling the faith provided to the faithful useless, thus insulting the Holy Spirit.

Pope Francis knows this. He respects it. After Matthew 18:18 we go to Matthew 16:19. We are still in the Matthew 18:18 phase.

Might Pope Francis choose to go to Matthew 16:19, to pronounce in an infallible way on the matter? Sure. That is yet to be seen. He surely has set up a scenario in which it seems he truly wants to pronounce an infallible statement. He surely has prefaced this with a great deal of dialogue. To the degree that he is insisting on dialogue, that is the degree he may be incisive in pronouncing an infallible statement.

Have some perhaps jumped the gun? Perhaps. Can it be said that all involved may well be filled with Apostolic charity, that is, both the four Cardinals and the Holy Father? Yes. Are they merely asking him to move from Matthew 18:18 to Matthew 16:19? Perhaps. Again, I don’t like the statement of one of the Cardinals who said: “My position is that ‘Amoris laetitia’ is not magisterial because it contains serious ambiguities…” His opinion is not why Amoris laetitia is not magisterial. It is not magisterial because Pope Francis said it is not magisterial. Otherwise, how many popes do we have? So…

We pray. That is to be expected and desired by all involved, right? Yes. We pray.

Does my having written this article mean that I don’t have my own concerns which happen to be well stated in the five dubia? No, it doesn’t mean that. Does the present non-answer of Pope Francis mean that he doesn’t agree with the intent of the five dubia? No, it doesn’t mean that. What it all means is that we haven’t yet moved from Matthew 18:18 to Matthew 16:19. That’s all. Might I say to Pope Francis that I sure do hope for the good of the Church that our Lord’s desire that our present dialogue with Matthew 18:18 will move to Matthew 16:19? Sure. But the timing is the judgment call of Vicar of Christ, not mine or anyone else for that matter. Again, might we ask him politely to move to Matthew 16:19? Sure, and I think everyone has been polite, although, again, that bit of one of the Cardinals about why he thinks Amoris laetitia is not magisterial is, I think, out of place. And in view of that, I must defend the fact of the papacy itself. Might that make me lose many friends. I suppose. That saddens me. But I am also filled with fortitude. Hier stehe ich and all that. Amen.

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Filed under Amoris laetitia, Canon 915, Confession, Eucharist, Holy See, Missionaries of Mercy, Pope Francis, Synod on the Family, Year of Mercy

D.C. DMV: Merry Christmas Fr Byers

dc-ticket

Bad and evil me. On my trip to D.C. I unwittingly yet illegally parked in a handicap space. In far Western North Carolina, such spaces are marked on the pavement and with a sign hovering over the space itself, every single one, at least where I am. In D.C. there’s a sign however far down the street with a tiny arrow saying that all spaces in the direction of the arrow are reserved for whatever. I just didn’t realize it. I came back and… my heart sank. There was $250.00 ticket under the windshield wiper blade. I try hard to never ever break the law in any way, but there I was, sick to my stomach.

When I got back home, I went online and tried to pay with the handy-dandy credit-card option. Instead, a note came up that the ticket hadn’t yet been put through the system and it often takes twenty days for the ticket to show up. I tried many times. It’s now been twenty days. So, entering the ticket number online I find that “The Ticket entered has a balance of $0.00.”

I am grateful. I mean, when’s the last time that ever happened to you? I won’t say that that’s as good as having full diplomatic immunity and inviolability with the State department (in which case you nevertheless pay all such fines), but that was a very nice gesture. It seems I have a benevolent “Big Brother” who takes care of his brat little brother. I am grateful.

If this had happened in, say, Palermo, I would be looking over my shoulder wondering when I will have to pay the favor back and in what way. But this is America and D.C., right? Maybe it’s just a glitch. :-)

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Immaculate Conception Project

LOURDES-GROTTO

The Grotto on my last day as chaplain in the Sanctuaries of Our Lady of Lourdes in France.

If it be God’s will, the successful completion of the Immaculate Conception Project will begin at the beginning. I’ve begun the popular version. So far, I’ve set up a new computer dedicated solely to the project (the two right screens below). I’ve started setting up a workstation, consolidating files from a half dozen broken down computers, installing a new version of WordPerfect, installing a new version of BibleWorks, and have an auxiliary computer dedicated to extra stuff.

work-station

I can’t give you anything of the popular version of the Immaculate Conception Project yet, but here are summary file and audio conference of the same, the thesis and, as an extra on this glorious feast day, the Flos Carmeli:

IMMACULATE CONCEPTION CONFERENCE

GENESIS THESIS GEORGE DAVID BYERS

Here’s a picture of the computer screen with the cover edited this morning. A little busy, but it gives you some idea of what the Immaculate Conception Project is all about…

genesis-cover

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Filed under Genesis 2-4 to 3-24

Being summoned as a witness in the cause of Ven. Mother Adèle Garnier

mother-adele-garnier-osb

The Promoter of the Cause of the now Venerable Mother Adèle Garnier, OSB, foundress, in 1898, of the Adorers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus of Montmartre, otherwise known throughout the world as the Tyburn Nuns, informed me the other day that a judge for the case at the Congregation for Saints in Rome will soon issue me a summons as a witness.

Being summoned as a witness for anything makes me a bit nervous, but this is altogether different, as the entire heavenly court will be looking on. I feel rather unworthy to have any kind of voice whatsoever in this cause, for I immediately think of the untold numbers of priests the Tyburns have rescued in one way or another, both in the past and today.

Sure, I have prayed for her cause and have asked her intercession. Sure, I know a bit about her through some books (one of which was severely damaged at the hermitage years ago). Sure, I am eager to help in whatever way I can. But what, pray tell, does this involve?

I understand that the “Devil’s Advocate” was done away with, kind of, but not really. I recall a series on Vatican Radio which played up the “Devil’s Advocate” and the trial aspect of some of the causes at the Causes of Saints to no end, making it all very dramatic and a bit frightening, I must say.

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Filed under Spiritual Motherhood

Pearl Harbor Attack: Story of First Chaplain Killed in WWII, Fr Schmitt

father-aloysius-schmitt

Jill Kruse of CNS reports that Father Aloysius Schmitt’s remains have been identified and have been returned to Iowa for burial.

There was nothing yet infamous about Dec. 7, 1941, when Father Aloysius Schmitt woke up aboard the battleship the USS Oklahoma to celebrate Mass that Sunday morning at Pearl Harbor. But just minutes after the liturgy ended, a surprise Japanese attack was underway, and Father Schmitt would lose his life while helping save the lives of 12 others, becoming the first U.S. chaplain to die during World War II.

On the fateful day of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Father Schmitt’s ship was hit by four torpedoes and capsized, trapping him and much of the rest of the crew below deck.

Father Schmitt and a number of other sailors who were in one of the ship’s flooding compartments managed to find a small porthole that provided a way out of the ship. In the frantic moments that followed, survivors reported that Father Schmitt scarified his own chance of escape and instead helped 12 men through the porthole to safety.

He received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal and the Purple Heart for his brave actions that day. In 1943, the U.S. Navy named a destroyer escort in his honor — the USS Schmitt.

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Missionaries of Mercy into the future. This Missionary is dancing for joy.

byers dance paul vi audience hall

**** EN ****

Important Notification to all Missionaries of Mercy

Dear Father,

Please click on the following link: […] where you will find, in a PDF format, the letter from the President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, Prot. N. NE/672/2016/P dated December 7 2016, to all Missionaries of Mercy.

The Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization would like to take this opportunity to thank you again for the ministry that you have carried out and to wish you every blessing of the Lord for your continued pastoral service for the good of souls.

Mons. Graham Bell
Undersecretary
Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization

======================

Receiving that note this very morning, and clicking on that link, the news was provided that the special faculties for absolution have in fact been extended to all Missionaries of Mercy at this time until otherwise indicated (until logistics can be accomplished in the next number of months),with the Missionaries bidden, with consultation with the local ordinary, and if they so desire, to request that they might retain such faculties into the future. Those who want to remain as Missionaries of Mercy will be granted such faculties into the future. O.K. I’m doing that now. On behalf of all priests especially who need now or will need to take advantage of such faculties, I once again dance for joy. I hope that dance doesn’t scandalize too many… ;-)

Here’s a video about dancing for joy sent in by a reader for this post:

Update: I’ve now communicated with the local ordinary, who is “very happy” to have me continue in the extraordinary ministry of Missionary of Mercy into the future. I have communicated that agreement to the PCPNE as requested. :-)

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Filed under Confession, Missionaries of Mercy

Update on malicious fires: Blame me!

rain

In the last week or so we’ve had three long rains, the first rains for the better part of a year, with this last rain lasting for days, looking like it’s going to rain until late tonight. I’m guessing even the deep-down-in-the-forest-floor smoldering fires are pretty much totally out, though a firefighter told me last night at the fire house that there were still some pretty serious smoke columns going up here or there.

Pretty much every single fire was man-made, even malicious, what with burning tires stuffed with whatever rubbish and drenched with flammable liquids rolled down mountains, etc. So many lost their lives. So many lost their homes and livelihoods. A firefighter died of a heart attack fighting the blazes. One of the many arsonists was actually trying to blame someone innocent. Pretty bad, huh?

Well, what if someone instead came along and took the blame for the whole lot of it? In fact, what if someone apologized for anything and everything even though he was innocent of all evil, being innocent Himself, the very Son of the Immaculate Conception, Christ Jesus Our God? What if Jesus were to say to His heavenly Father at His Baptism by John in the river Jordan: “Treat me like I enslaved everyone in sin from Adam until the last man is conceived”? That’s what He did, right, standing in our stead, therefore having the right in His own justice to have mercy on us? “Blame me,” He said. Yes. But…

Let me make this personal. What if I, a priest hearing confessions one Saturday afternoon in my parish, suddenly saw Jesus Himself kneel at the screen and start confessing every sin I’ve committed since birth, you know, all my sins? I think I would start not just crying in thanksgiving for such love so utterly unmerited by myself, but I would be a total wreck, bawling uncontrollably. But that’s what He’s done, and for all of us.

And then there’s Pope John Paul II, a canonized saint, mind you, who not once, not twice, but many times apologized for what sinners did throughout the millennia, you know, those individuals calling themselves Catholic but not acting as Catholics. Remember when all those self-righteous armchair pundits publicly berated him for doing what he couldn’t possibly do, saying that “the Church” didn’t commit those sins, so you can’t apologize for them!

“Nevertheless, it’s only right for me as the Supreme Pontiff to do so,” he responded, entrenching all the more. Right. In solidarity with Jesus as He is in solidarity with us, that is what we are to do. Blame me!

“No, no!” people bitterly complain. “I didn’t light those fires! And I’m not al-Qaeda or ISIS! I don’t do those kinds of things and I’m not going to apologize for what I didn’t do!”

B as in B and S as in S as a famous internet personality exclaims. You and I, innocent perhaps of whatever terrorist or whatever incident, have all done something much worse, so bad that it encompasses all other evil ever done since Adam until the last man is conceived. We’ve all crucified the Son of the Living God with our sin, original sin and our own personal rubbish.

Jesus, Mary’s Son, I’m so very sorry. Please, forgive me. Send upon my the gentle rain of grace and put out the fire of my hell, bringing me into your friendship, having me walk with you through this life and into heaven, for I know you will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Amen.

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Filed under Terrorism

My best friend Father Gordon J MacRae lives in a coffin sized prison-space

four-man-prison-cell

So, looking at this picture, double the amount of bunks, coming up with eight bunks, meaning every bunk is:

  • 2 feet high
  • 2 feet wide
  • 6 feet long

That’s 24 square feet of total living space. A normal coffin is actually a bit bigger.

The prison officials were in his cell the other day, measuring the bunks, apparently to see if they could fit in more bunks into the same space.

It seems they are trying to get him to lie about his innocence, in which case they would put him in the offender program in a pod with comparatively infinitely more space and he would then get out of prison as soon as the program was over. He could have done this any time in the last number of decades. He could have taken a plea deal and been out in a matter of months from the beginning. He hasn’t lied about being innocent until now. This kind of “space torture” won’t budge him either. Good for him. See his ABOUT page.

I wonder if those responsible (lay, civil, ecclesial) for putting him in such a situation live in a space that is bigger than 24 square feet for the few moments they are still in this world. I wonder how much space they think they will have in eternity.

Many forget, whether lay, civil or ecclesial, that regardless of anyone’s religion, or atheism, or whatever, Christ our God will nevertheless come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Amen. Come Lord Jesus. Maranatha!

Oh, and on that note, I should add that once in a while some are horrified to find out that Father Gordon was accused, and they take that to mean he is absolutely necessarily guilty, even though the accusers get tons of money, don’t have to prove their case (just pocket money immediately), even though Father Gordon has not only not had due process, but has not been able to speak for himself in civil or ecclesiastical tribunal until this day, and even though the jury was criminally stacked against him, even though all have overlooked mind-numbing conflicts of interest by pretty much everyone involved, etc., etc., etc.

Those who have such pious ears are guilty of abuse as much as those who actually did it, for they promote a situation in which people will eventually get tired of cutting the heads off the innocent with no due process, and simply wont listen even to real cases anymore.

Did I say that Christ our God will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire? Now is the time to repent. Now is the day of salvation.

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“33 Days” of laughing with joy unto Marian consecration once again

33-days

While some might think that all is intriguingly dark and mysterious in my life at the moment (see: State Department and… me…), it’s just not true. I’m still me as much as I ever was, though perhaps ever so slightly less naive. When I was up for a visit to Main State in Foggy Bottom, also going to many of the memorials near and on the National Mall, I also spent quite a lot of time at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. There’s a book store. I bought a few books, two of which, because of the good example of Father Gordon MacRae (about) and the great Pornchai Maximilian Moontri, were the retreats by Father Michael Gaitley. I started the 33 Days to Morning Glory: A Do It Yourself Retreat on November 29 so as to finish on the Feast of the Theotokos, the ever Virgin and Immaculate Mother of God.

When I was a seminarian, I pretty much had Saint Louis’ True Devotion to Mary memorized, and certainly recited by heart the longest form of the consecration whenever I had the chance, loving to do menial work around the seminary as this would give me an opportunity. Then Paul VI died and was quickly followed by JPI, then JPII. I marveled to see “Totus Tuus” on the Coat of Arms of the new “Marian” Pope.

As the years went by, I confess that even as I studied Mariology all the more, I was perhaps a bit complacent, rarely doing the long form of the consecration yearly as the decades sped by, but instead doing shorter forms. As I now go through 33 Days, I very much appreciate the presentation of Father Gaitley, so much so that I laugh with joy as I read along day by day, seeing that he has not only understood it all so very well, but can drag us all through the preparation with ease. I must say that I’m enjoying it all tremendously.

By the way, thanks to so many for your prayers and notes that you’ve sent it. Your prayers are bearing fruit. Thank you.

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State Department and… me…

cardinal-juan-jesus-posadas-ocampo

Assassinated Cardinal Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo

Back in the day, my “Shadow” was putting frantic pressure on me to put pressure on the Church -even the Holy See – to get him out of maximum security prison in Mexico. He knew I knew people whether in the greater North America or in the “Vatican.” It wasn’t the amount of the bribe that was asked (which was small enough), but the principle of it. I couldn’t do it. The point effectively was to make the Church subservient to whatever hell is going on. The title “Cardinal” was bandied about again and again. But I was too stupid and too naive to understand what was going on. My “Shadow” had everything to do with the Sinaloa Cartel, which staged a framing of a rival, El Padrino, Félix, with, of course, in the end, a high profile target of the Church being taken out, I say, in revenge. Just my opinion, mind you. After the assassination of the Cardinal, my “Shadow” just happened to get out quickly, as if that were his get out of jail card. Or is it just my imagination?

main-state-department-of-state

Meanwhile, a review of life-long ties to successive Deputy Secretaries of Main State of the State Department at Foggy Bottom in D.C., specifically, those granting oversight by way of the Office of Security Assistance to the Security Assistance Team and the Global Security Contingency Fund has brought some things to light, or not. Here’s an old and inaccurate flow chart, which does not reflect that my case-worker has now moved up the ladder.

department-of-state-duty-chart

The bio of my present case worker is temporarily unavailable. I’ll add what I had found of the bio prior to its removal to the bottom of this post. Those links and that bio, however old, speak for themselves. The question is, why should he and his predecessors right through the decades be my case-workers? Why have such departments and offices granted me security details throughout the decades, including Seals, with oversight from the CIA, FBI, et al.?

Whatever security code goes next to my unrepeatable identifiers, there is no explanation with that code. It’s on a need to know basis, something causing me at one point a few years ago to be one of the most researched persons in America by our dozens of intelligence communities connected however remotely to either the State Department and/or Department of Defense, which is pretty much everyone. In other words, no one gets to know outside of a handful of people. But more than this, the best security groups of governments in Oceania, Europe and the Near East have offered what I can only term unprecedented assistance with, well, I’ll bite my tongue… But I’m sure it’s the coding which had me brought into terrorist situations as someone who could possibly be of immediate assistance. It’s true that I have been in a lot of situations having global significance, and it’s true that I do have a knack for sussing out field op terrorists or those who direct the same (a long history of that), but I’m not special at all, so, why all the special treatment?

A friend said that this speaks to my being a liability for someone (of whom he is aware) who is a high value asset/target with whom I am forever connected, so that I’m being protected so as to protect him. I’ve written extensively about this person in the past. This friend of mine is right about my being a liability, and that was confirmed in writing by the State Department, but he added that any danger to my parish or anyone else around me because of my status was offset by security benefits not had by others. O.K. Of course, it’s also been said that this fellow is also in some way my own insurance policy: if he’s alive, then I am as well. As it is, I see that his health and well being is not being looked after. I’m not happy with that at all. Assets need looking after. Just do it. I’m sure there are health facilities across the Potomac that would be happy to do the necessary for him. My friend, of course, added that I myself may well be this “Shadow.” Even if I say, “No, that’s not the case,” that’s only my denial, except for those in the know.

I was at one point wanting to take some serious steps in order to stop whatever it was that was going on as it was not up to any acceptable moral standard I could discern. I feel badly for those innocent people who have surely lost their livelihoods and their lives, but there’s simply nothing I can do about it. There is no proof that could be taken even before a closed session of whatever hearing when, as it is, there is no political will to see it, at least, perhaps, until some time after 19 January 2017. Anyway, here’s that bio of my present case-worker, so to speak:

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When going dark becomes light itself

arlington

Rays of the sun flooding Arlington National Cemetery as seen from the bridge to such honor during my pilgrimage witnessing light in the darkness. Visited were:

  • United States Holocaust Memorial
  • National Police Memorial
  • World War II Memorial
  • Korean War Memorial
  • Vietnam War Memorial
  • Arlington National Cemetery
  • USMC Memorial
  • Memorial honoring Martin Luther King Jr
  • National Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, whose various national chapels in honor of the Mother of God often commemorate untold numbers of martyrs in various countries visiting those shrines during dire persecutions

More on all of these in future posts. I had intended to go to the CIA memorials but ran out of time. I was, however, able to go to Main State of the Department of State. An eye opener. More on that as well in another post.

What impressed me deeply was the brightness of the honor in all the darkness. The brightness of the honor that could not, cannot and will not be besmirched with compromise. I was filled with zeal to strive to join however unworthily that noble company. And for that great gift I thank them for being a light in the darkness.

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Air Quality Index for parts of my parish: Extreme health hazard: 423 out of 500

moon-smoke

The perigee moon the other evening in an otherwise cloudless sky, except for the suspended particulates. I guess on the scale of 0-500, 500 equals choking on spoon fulls of dust. The past couple of days have seen what appears to be clear enough air as there is a breeze carrying some of the smoke away. Of course, that also fans the flames. 1/2 dozen of one or six of the other. We’re trying to catch a sixth arsonist. They get to pay for firefighters from all over the country, not to mention the equipment including the helicopters, EMTs, logistics, lost homes, etc. But, that’s when they get out of prison.

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The Day Off Target

hermitage

Yesterday was the proverbial “day off”, which doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with taking a day off, but for a short while it was wonderful day. Up at 3:55 AM, away for an early appointment on the far side of Asheville, not knowing which fire/smoke/falling-rock detours I would encounter. A falling-rock detour occurs when, after a fire burns away brush and fallen logs, small rocks and boulders are free to tumble down the mountains onto the roads below. Anyway, that done, and a few other chores, I stopped by the hermitage. As always, I said the Angelus going up and coming back down and more, with the usual intention for the bishop and for priests.

The forest is soooo dry. The bugs have almost entirely disappeared. That has an effect on the whole ecosystem. I raked the leaves and fallen branches away from the hermitage but knew it was a lost cause should another fire among a myriad start up near the hermitage. The forest here is like a peat bog, even on the top of mountain ridges, as fire can spread by burning underground. The forest floor does remain soaking wet even after months with no rain, but it is already over six months since news stories about a severe drought in Western North Carolina were hitting the papers. It is dry deep down in the forest floor. You can only do what you can do. Raking done, I thought I might “fire” at a target I just happened to bring along:

target4

Still better (after some practice and not from too far away), but not where I want to be. Still South and still mostly to the left. The South bit is trying too hard to fight any up-snap. I’m getting over that. These are tossed out pretty much as fast as I can pull the trigger.

And then I got a worrisome phone message from an old acquaintance for whom I no longer have a phone number and who clearly needs prayers. When my Android takes a message it won’t register the phone number. So, how to call back? How do people without hope survive? At any rate, I’m happy to have the hope afforded by Christ Jesus, who will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Amen. I must say I was happy to have a long talk after that with the neighbors at the hermitage. They are such good people.

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“I’m not a chicken. I’m a duck.” Riight. Solving the astronomical suicide rate among the LGBTQ. Hint: Not pandering

chicken-duck

Seen near the neighbors near the hermitage the other day…

She’s just missing a parasol. Otherwise, if this chicken walks like a duck, squawks like a duck, poses like a duck, it’s a duck, right? Well, no, not always. This one is still a chicken. A clever chicken, but a chicken nonetheless. The thing about chickens is that, even with their literally pea-sized pea-brain, they know that they are chickens and not ducks even if they should pretend in chameleon-like fashion to be a duck. It’s not about identity, it’s about the perception of others like foxes and panthers and such.

Meanwhile, there are those for whom such an admittedly make-pretend world is forced in 24/7/365 fashion into the make-pretend it’s not a make-pretend world, so that it is about an “identity” which attempts to force the perception of others to fit their own, the ideology of a bully: “You’re going to think like I think, or else!”

They fail, of course, also with the themselves. The suicide rate is so astronomically high among these unfortunate pretenders because they realize their non-identity is pervasive. Meanwhile, society panders to them pushing them headlong to suicide. If you want cruel, that’s what’s cruel. No one but no one in this forlorn world loves the LGBTQ et alii crowd more than the Catholic Church, for we tell the truth about gender, but with charity, compassion, with understanding, and with an introduction to what identity is all about in a friendship with Christ Jesus, apart from whom all of us are nothing, but with whom we find out who we really are.

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State of Emergency 25 counties Western North Carolina: arson and evacuation

smoke

Nantahala Gorge in the middle of the day.

The word among fire fighters and law enforcement is that these fires, pretty much all of them, 18 of 19, have been arson related. The papers say that the Governor declared 25 counties to be under a State of Emergency which assists in enforcing forced evacuations. As of yesterday, the last rumor I heard was that the count of arsonists captured is up to four in our area. Another rumor I heard is that two people died in one of the fires near the Nantahala gorge. I wonder if that means that the perps will also be charged with some level of murder. [Update: It was a meth lab. Such labs explode in fire all the time.]

The counties of my parish are filled with smoke. This could last for weeks unless we get a long rain to put out the fires. In visiting parishioners in the hospital today I asked a doctor if there were any cases of smoke related injuries and he said that yes, there were some already today. People are on oxygen and have asthma…

  • Some fires are started I suppose in the hopes of perpetrating insurance fraud, you know, the old trick about buying fire insurance for an old and moldy house and then setting a fire to collect money to build a new house.
  • Or maybe it’s about setting fires near the homes of feuding clans.
  • Or maybe it’s about meth-lab fires in a tent in the forests (common!).
  • Or maybe it’s about sociopaths and discontent. Fires the other year in another WNC county were suspected to be set by someone thrown off a local fire department.
  • Or maybe it’s about forcing evacuations and then going in to loot freely (not thinking law enforcement is out in strength).
  • Or maybe it’s about making the country seem out of control at election time, with these fires starting before the election.
  • Or maybe it’s just craziness and you just can’t figure out crazy because it’s crazy.

Anyway, lots of my parishioners are evacuated, many of them elderly and crippled. This is really annoying for them to live through. You fear losing everything since often the water choppers can’t fly since they can’t see anything as the smoke is so very thick.

We pray for the safety of everyone, especially of evacuees, fire-fighters, law enforcement.

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Can I be forgiven for the killing I did as a soldier? I enjoyed pulling the trigger.

In that short video Chris puts the RPG guy down, but not the kid. It’s important to see the difference in Chris’ face when he pulls the trigger for the RPG guy and then almost for the kid. There’s a difference, right? But a Vet might say…

When I killed a guy like the RPG guy, I mean, that guy was still some guy, the son of his mother, the husband of a wife, the father of his kids, caught up in some horror much bigger than him, and it haunts me…. it just does…. especially because, you know, in myself, while I was pulling the trigger, I mean, I really enjoyed it, because I was killing a bad guy who was a danger to us, to me and my brothers on the scene. I don’t think I can be forgiven because it was such a rush of adrenaline and and it was like, YEAH! I GOT HIM! which is inhuman now that I think about it. I should have regretted it and I guess I did, but right then, you should have seen the wryness of my smile. That smirk could have killed someone all on its own.

Sure you can be forgiven. That reaction of fallen human nature is to be expected. You can count on it. That doesn’t mean you’re a monster. You did what you had to do. Just because your emotions went overboard doesn’t mean a thing. It’s a cross to carry. Pray for the repose of the souls of those you killed, and their families. That’s O.K. It’s not hypocritical.

Also, just to say, what if you killed innocents, you know, just to do it? Can you be forgiven for that? Yes, you can. Go to confession. There isn’t a sin greater than our Lord’s mercy. He loves us, and let Himself be killed in our stead. Jesus is the warrior. He has the right in His own justice to have mercy on us, to claim us as His booty, bringing us to heaven to give as a gift to our heavenly Father.

Look, all you Vets out there. Don’t beat yourselves up. Be good friends with Jesus.

And to all of us, let’s go to Confession!

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Vets and VA: a doctor’s perspective

va-backlog-cases

Backlog of cases at the V.A. now posing an avalanche risk for workers.

Father Byers: while I applaud your Vet post [The nation which forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten. Lest we forget…], and agree with a lot of it, I am starting a […] VA job next week.  The VA system has its challenges (unionized workforce seems to be the main one, good luck un-doing that!). However, in the rank and file VA health care workers, there is a lot of respect and admiration for the vets, even if one is not a military veteran.  To make ALL VA health system workers military veterans? Good luck with that. Vets admire most of the physicians, and vice versa.  Now the “executives”? I don’t have a problem with them required to be veterans, there is already a preference for vets in hiring—of course, diversity and being transgender ( whatever that means) has been thrown in. // The problems in the VA health care system are largely the same problems with health care nationally—“managed”, meaning capitated which is great when people are healthy, not good when people have serious health issues. Also, vets over 65 have better health care, under 65, have to come under “service connection” to have coverage for specific ailments judged to be stemming from their military service. Otherwise, oops, you can have obamacare now? unless you are lucky enough to have benefits from a job. // Pray for me, we physicians are damned if we do and damned if we don’t—I just take care of my patients, as I would my family. Veterans are family. I had an uncle, and now have nephews in the military. // And I needed four ( four!) background checks for this position. It took forever. // Your aim is getting to be scary good! [Flores for the Immaculate Conception (Clergy 10x and almost 10x edition)] I fly back from […] tonight, and last night wished I had my gun (in […] now of course) in case the rioting got to my house. But with your aim.  You are a good shepherd, and I continue to pray for you and your intentions.

Thanks, Doc. I stand corrected. But make sure you have better aim than me!

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (Clergy 10x and almost 10x edition)

flores-clergy

A priest who sometimes reads this blog stopped by the other day, going way out of his way to get this rose at the local supermarket as a gift for the Immaculate Conception. He was happy to note that he was greeted with enthusiasm at the supermarket with “Hi Father!” and “Hello Father!” “You just don’t get that where I’m from,” he said. By way of reprimand, he mentioned that I haven’t been putting up many flowers for the Immaculate Conception lately and wanted to show me how it’s done. :¬) I will take his reprimand most seriously, since one just doesn’t happen to stop by this parish, as we are at the very end of the backsides of the beyonds, one of those “you can’t get there from here” places. I’m sure our Lady looks upon his efforts with benevolence. He’s right on target.

At Walmart the other day, at the sports counter, getting some ammo, I met perhaps one of the most ferocious prosecutors and then hanging judges ever from Florida, now just retired and moved to WNC. He was stunned that a priest would be buying ammo but was, I must say, very pleased about it all. We have some common friends and we will surely meet again. I have some questions for him. Anyway, he made the rather snide remark that he thought that priests were only to be found in the flower section of the store. Ha ha. I’m happy to jolt him out of his misconceptions. There are very few priests and seminarians I know who are not armed to the teeth. All of them, and in my experience only them, by the way, are the ones who would be such good sons of our heavenly mother as to give her a flower. Very manly, I reckon. Very priestly.

Speaking of ammo, I was able to get a few rounds off the other day, getting just a little bit tighter pattern. A couple early strays, but then closer. Only one kill, but even that wasn’t 10x. I’m far from being a good shot. Still pitiful. And I gotta work on mechanics. I’m still waiting for our new deputy sheriff (also retiring to WNC) to put in a home shooting range so that there will be a place close by to get in some practice. You can never be too practiced. I’m still left and to the South.

target

Oh, and is that offensive, putting this in a post about giving flowers to the Immaculate Conception, you know, all this terrible violence and stuff like that? I reckon not, for the reason that self-defense of self and others is a positive contribution to the virtue of justice. Mercy is built on justice as Saint Thomas Aquinas has it in his commentary on the Sentences. Self-defense for self and others is mercy, to put it technically, a potential part of the virtue of justice. The provision of justice is also mercy. As Saint Thomas More said, “If I am threatened with justice, then I am not threatened.” The one who massacres innocent church goers or supermarket shoppers is not threatened with justice either, for he expects this. Justice is not revenge. It is not cruel. It is not somehow un-Christian. Self-defense of self is good. Defense of other innocent people is really good. It is also what some priests who give flowers to the Immaculate Conception might also do.

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