The monster’s got me by the ankles and is smashing me to the ground


I am exhausted. Today, so far, I’ve had 113 email conversations, however many comments, texts, and hours[!] of phone conversations, most of those about canon law, ecclesiology, moral theology, church politics, with a number of priests, canon lawyers, theologians. I am deeply sorrowful at the state of the Church. Deeply. I don’t know how to express that. I agonize. I don’t think it’s negativity. I love the Church. I love those in the Church, even the baddies just like me, and by that I mean those who go on ad hominem attacks, just like me, except I’m worse. I know how bad that is for me. The last thing I want is to see that attitude in them.

ogreI feel like I’m being lifted up upside down by some ogre who’s got me by the ankles, and who has commenced whipping me about in the air and then smashing me down to the ground, only to do it continuously, and somehow I remain conscious through it all. I feel sick. Nauseous. It’s like traumatic stress. The monster is, of course, myself. I’m very bad and very evil with a very black and terribly cynical heart. If I wanted to rant, just laying it all out, proving my cynicism to myself (because cynicism is all about self), I think I would actually frighten the most intense of cynics right into silence, much like when the murder rate in Manhattan went down to zero for quite a while after September 11, 2001. The run of the mill murderers were unfathomably out-murdered, and they were stunned into pacifism. Jesus had to reach really very far into hell to find me, which makes me all the more grateful to Him. And that all means that I hold all those lesser cynics to be much better off than I ever was. You have no idea.

If that seems like unstoppable pride, let me tell you ever so humbly about someone who was more cynical than even I could ever be. A layman, he had the CDF wrapped around his little finger, deposing and setting up bishops at will, forcing documents and policies right and left. The CDF, his pet project, hated him, but Ratzinger did what he said and, I would hazard, respected him and even liked him for the clarity and devotion he had. I’ve never known anyone more intelligent, which includes the greatest Thomists in the world today. He knew how to get things done for the good of the Church. I often helped him. I’ve now and again done a bit of his kind of work myself, asked to do so many times by the Curia, off the record, but whatever gets the job done, right? Sometimes cynics are simply realists said to be cynics by those fearful of reality. And that was him, a saint, really, cynical of the diabolical, but not of Jesus. We both knew, however, that if he reversed that, even for a moment, he could do great damage to the Church. He stayed with Jesus, even though he saw all the diabolical there can be among some members of the Church.

As for myself, if I lost all sanctifying grace, I could rant about pretty much everything, including “and” and “the” and even the nice stuff. I would not only highlight that which boasts of ambiguity, but I would also draw conclusions from that which would make anyone curl up in a ball and die of despair. I excel at that kind of thing, I dare say more than anyone. No comparison. And this has ripened over the last number of years. I know the hell of it; I know of a certainty that that’s who I am if I am without grace. One actual believer in the Roman Curia once said that he feared that my analyses could  [… I had better stop!…] At any rate, I’m sure that I would pervert any time being greater than space dynamic into a Marxist dialectic with all such things. I’m truly bad and evil. But I know it. So I look to Jesus, who creates both time and space. He’s all that’s left for me. He is the Church with His Mystical Body. He’s the One.

And then the monster disappears. Just like that. If I pride myself to think that I’m really good at being evil, my pride is then shattered into humility by Him who was more cynical of evil than I could ever begin to be cynical of that which is good. Jesus bears the wounds of all of hell broken out on His risen body. He smashes all cynicism into that which is laughable. Jesus has conquered. He’s the greatest love of my life and I want everyone to know about Him.

We must keep unity in the Church. No schism! Let’s discuss the ideas, yes. But let’s all of us stick to that. But if anyone wants to be ad hominem with me, say that I’m not a real priest, whatever, go ahead. I take back being offended by any of that. I deserve everything I get. I’ll just beat you to the punch: I’ve absolutely crucified the Son of the Living God with my sins and without Jesus I would absolutely go to hell like the child of hell that I am if I am without grace.

P.S. The undercurrent of this post is terrible pride. I hope you can pick that up. I am the worst of the worst. Somehow that’s pride, right? But Jesus is good and kind. :-)


Filed under Amoris laetitia, Holy See, Jesus, Mercy, Missionaries of Mercy, Pope Francis, Synod on the Family, Year of Mercy

8 responses to “The monster’s got me by the ankles and is smashing me to the ground

  1. Oy! It sounds like you’ve been run through the mill lately!

    I must confess a substantial curiosity as to the identity of the layman who has the CDF wrapped around his finger. I am tempted to initiate a game of twenty questions, starting with “Is the layman in question male or female?” ;-)

  2. Ah, Father, it seems as if you are at a point where I found myself about twenty years ago. Twirling around and about trying to make sense of the things that threatened to steal my sanity and my soul. Like you, I can not really go into the details here – it is still too dangerous – (spiritual PTSD) Suffice to say that the turmoil served to help me understand scripture better. Like the story of the field sown with good seed and them over sown with weeds by the enemy. The ‘owner’ of the field says let them grow together if we pull them up now it will cause more turmoil. (paraphrasing a bit) It’s maddening, and like you say, it makes you feel like you’re running in circles. But, the Lord is so wonderful. Just before the craziness reached us all – in the nick of time He came and gave up a motto, a mantra, “Jesus I trust in You.” Rest your heart – the shepherd will pick each of us up in His arms – because as He said in the reading last week ‘I will not lose those given to me’, Be at peace. .

  3. elizdelphi

    oh man. I love you Father George. You are suffering and you are very human. This is all good news, I think, because this is who can receive mercy.

    Take care of your parishioners. Do the works of mercy.

    When you are in a grandiose mood of thinking you are the world’s most magnificent jackass, remember donkeys can be good friends and can fly.

  4. Cathe D.

    Father George, I am so sorry to see you going through this agony. It’s hard journeying through this kind of darkness.

    When I read your writing above, I am torn because I see in you our Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus is showing us through you how this negativity is hurting Himself so grievously. Jesus loves and trusts you so much Father George, that He is sharing this painful burden with you. He knows that in union with Him, you will have the strength and love to give this offering of pain you are going through for these souls. The offering of the Suffering Servant is the blessings needed to bring healing, grace and peace for all.

    May I suggest Father George, that you be kind to yourself in thought and deed. Give comfort to Jesus in you. You are in Jesus and Jesus is in You. Most importantly, go to the Mother and sit with her for a while. This special Mother always seems to know how to make the hurts go away. We all love you Father and pray for you.

  5. Nan

    And you wonder why people think you need a dfog.

  6. elizdelphi

    A dog? When I am feeling something like what Father George was when he wrote this I go to confession and say rather brutally what my sins seem to be (there’s always something) and then beg the priest for advice about the situation.

    • Father George David Byers

      But, of course, not all feelings are the result of actual sin! We can participate in the Passion of Christ, not due to anything good in us, except that is, the love Jesus gives to us, or better, draws us into. As He draws us to the Cross, we see all of hell broken out. It’s quite the sight. But better to be trained in to look only to Christ Jesus. We can see all the hell we want in His wounds. If we then are bidden to carry our own cross better, so that we see whence Jesus called us, from hell, this doesn’t mean that we actually are in hell at the moment, just that, wow, He really had a long way to reach to get us, all praise to Him. But it’s not a sin to take note that there is a Cross even while He puts us on it so that we might more readily realize He is our Savior and thank Him appropriately. Conclusion: dogs are also way cool!

  7. You’re right, Father George! I was just reading the encyclical of Pope John Paul II, Mother of the Redeemer. I didn’t get far, just the fifth paragraph of the Introduction and read:

    2. Strengthened by the presence of Christ (cf. Mt. 28:20), the Church journeys through time towards the consummation of the ages and goes to meet the Lord who comes. But on this journey- and I wish to make this point straightaway-she proceeds along the path already trodden by the Virgin Mary, who “advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and loyally persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross.”4

    Wow! Welcome to Calvary everybody! We all know this somehow but it still stuns us when we read it and see it happening in our midst.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.