Day Off and the Chrism Mass: Show of Force Prevention

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It’s Holy Week. Busiest days ever for a priest. Apologies to those sending questions etc.

Tuesday saw well over 400 miles clocked on Sassy the Subaru Forester, going from Andrews to the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral in Charlotte. The priests renewed their promises at Mass, the Sacred Chrism and the Oils of Catechumens and of the Infirm were blessed. There was a meal for the priests afterward. Artwork and best wishes by the children of the Cathedral were at all the places for the priests. This one was at my place:

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Of course, vocations are from Jesus!

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Everything about the day was enjoyable, well, except for something rather unexpected, rather out of the ordinary show of force with armed security, which is always done with the motivation of prevention. The security guy, in full uniform and a heavily decked out duty belt followed the bishop and his two deacons for the procession in and then out. So, I guess, this was more of a bodyguard thing.

What I say here is NOT a criticism, not in the least. I don’t know the circumstances. I’m guessing that if there was a credible and imminent threat, either the Mass would have been cancelled or there would have been support from “normal” law enforcement, with a couple of squad cars out front, etc. Perhaps there were some other undercover guys as at, for instance, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York.

The Bishop’s homily was rather abbreviated. And then, also out of character, he only appeared for perhaps one minute at the meal afterward to do the blessing. Again, I don’t know the circumstances.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

The policy of the diocese, surely to appease insurance companies, is that there can be no officially mandated armed presence for church services on any campus of the diocese. Let’s stare at that:

“No officially mandated armed presence…”

In other words, volunteers can volunteer, and it’s up to the priest to assess a volunteer’s viability on any number of levels and in all sorts of ways, but nothing that the priest says can make anything with weapons that which is expected of anyone for any reason ever. Fine. In the end, the policy is a non-policy. It just facilitates attorneys protecting whoever.

I’m guessing that this security guy at the Chrism Mass was told where he was to be and even that he was to be uniformed, but that any weapons were totally his option.

I had a good chat with him ranging from his provenance (that was interesting), a particular “group” to which he belongs (that was interesting).

During the hundreds of miles long trip there was plenty of time to mull things, that is, about this and a number of other issues, always enjoyable speeding by the mountain scenery.

But I wanted more time to mull things over. The Day Off suggested the option of gun-slinging. A detour was made to the neighbors to the hermitage. As usual, some FBI and FAM tactical pistol courses were accomplished.

I should volunteer to be a kind of security secretary to the Bishop, you know, with some optional security options optionally being put into play, optionally, of course, but surely in a more low-key manner. But for now, just to say, in support:

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

After the tactical pistol courses – which afford time for prayer for the bishops and priests during target set-up and replacement – it was then time for discussion with the neighbors to the hermitage. The topic above went on for hours. It is quite a bit to take in.

We discussed undercover as opposed to open show of force. Even at Saint Peter’s in Rome, the top operator guys are dressed in tuxedos so as to be more low key.

We ended by praying for the security of the Bishop, and that the Lord continues to give him the grace and strength he needs each day (to quote the card pictured above). Our Father… Hail Mary… Glory be…

To repeat: we don’t know the circumstances of the preventative show of force, and this is no criticism. Far from it. The whole “ounce” “pound” thing is very wise. Perhaps this is a paradigm for the diocese in hopes of saving lives amidst so many attacks on churches.

Yes, there is a picture of a glorious cross pictured at the top of this post in that card made by a child. “Out of the mouths of babes” and all that… And, yes, Our Lord did say, “As the Master, so the disciple.” Yes.

But defense of the innocent is a good thing. I’m sure there will be debate…

4 Comments

Filed under Day Off, Guns, Law enforcement, Priesthood, Terrorism

4 responses to “Day Off and the Chrism Mass: Show of Force Prevention

  1. elizdelphi

    There wasn’t anyone other than Knights of Columbus, still resolutely in feathery admiral hats and swords (and Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, and a Knight of Malta, and, well, Fr Rick Heilman of the Knights of Divine Mercy, who wield the “combat rosary”), who looked like security at our Chrism Mass, which was celebrated by a Milwaukee auxiliary bishop at a large suburban parish, because our Cathedral years ago underwent the fate of Notre Dame and not yet been rebuilt. Perhaps because of the guest bishop giving the homily, not one remark at Chrism Mass of the similarity of those circumstances. Bishop Morlino’s absence at these occasions is really felt.

  2. Father Byers, you probably realize this, and if you kept this private I’d certainly understand, but I realized many, many years ago when times were better that if someone wanted to destroy a diocese, he’d attack the Chrism Mass. I hope it never comes to that, but the way things are these days, it would hardly be a surprise. Shocking, but not surprising. If I were a diocesan bishop, I’d probably arrange for some security of my own to stand outside just in case, and I’d make sure that the priests knew every possible exit and give them instructions to escape if at all possible and leave the heroics to others who would be there just for that purpose. No priests, no sacraments. Some day, maybe sooner than we like to think, it may even come down to “tickets by invitation only” for the Chrism Mass in most dioceses.

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