The pastor’s staff has a hook to bring back the stray sheep. And sometimes the shepherd, you know, the good one, is depicted simply carrying a fluffy lamb on his shoulders. And priests should always be like that, right? But also be seated playing a pan flute with staff in hand. And sit under an olive tree for peace.
But here’s the deal. There is violence in this scene. If you don’t see it you don’t know what it is to be a shepherd. Trying to play the pan flute with one hand is miserable. He’s holding the staff for a reason. And the sheep is looking at it and him for a reason. There’s trouble afoot. The long end of the staff is meant to be a stick with which one can beat down the wolves.
That’s NICE too father!
No, it’s not. Think. Wolves where I come from can get 175 pounds. They have big heads. Terribly thick skulls. Big teeth. A bite strength well over 500 pounds. Full of no-pain-adrenaline. If you’re going to beat them down it’s not going to be a love tap on the head. It’s got to be overwhelming force, enough to do real damage. The first time. You only get one chance, if that. A shepherd is armed to the teeth, but that didn’t mean he was not risking his life in fighting the wolves instead of running away. I think of a young FSSP priest…
A shepherd of mere sheep tries to avoid the lairs of wolves. A shepherd of people throws himself into the midst of the wolves as a way of life. As with real wolves, many ignore you; they have full stomachs for the moment and aren’t worried about you. Some, however, do pay attention and get agitated. Some convert and become sheep. But some get really angry against whatever goodness and kindness is shown. Really agitated. Should I give examples of suicides, murders, suicide murders? I think I have in the past. Some people are on the edge of extreme violence for whatever reason. People you can meet. Every day. Go ahead. Avoid them. Don’t reach out to them. Put your head in the sand. Or in the clouds pretending you in heaven already. Either way, blood will be dripping on you from the cross, from Him with whose goodness and kindness we got really upset. Oh! I mentioned it! A violent incident! An “R” rated blog! Sometimes I think that even nice people refuse to see that they have crucified the Son of the Living God, that we all have, with our sin. And that that’s why they refuse to see that we live in a violent world.
Look: we live in a shadow of death into which our Redeemer stepped. He redeemed you and me. That doesn’t mean that self-defense for another is no longer a contribution to the virtue of justice. Self defense is a positive contribution to the virtue of justice.
What if Saint Gabriel Possenti, seminarian that he was, religious that he was, were to have been unsuccessful in showing off like he did, bluffing the violent idiots of his day, so that other soldiers called his bluff and put their guns to him, screaming at him to lay down his weapons as they lined women up to rape and lined up the men to kill? What then? And if they started stripping and raping your daughter, your sister, your mom and grandma and started killing your kid brother and your dad… right in front of you, what then? Would you look at young brother Gabriel and tell him to lay down his weapons, saying he should run off and be a nice religious, you know, so that people can feel nice about him as they themselves get raped and killed, or would you say, “Take a shot, just one, and they will stop!” Remember, it doesn’t have to be “Intend to kill,” but merely “overwhelming force.” For some, it’s surprising how little it takes.
Look, lots of LEOs in lots of places, including here, tell people that LEOs are, of course, all over the map and sometimes can only arrive after all is said and done, with people already dead and wounded. They are happy when people know how to deal with situations. Priests are people too. Or not?
The question of CCW priests still has much more to be said about it. Patience!