That’s the logo of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club. A bit more completely presented, some of the ideology comes to the fore:
Whatever. Look. If someone wants to come back to the Lord Jesus in true repentance, I’m going to rejoice. I’ll take no offense. We’re not against each other. The enemy is Satan. Period.
Meanwhile, there were times in my life that I’ve at least temporarily had a number of bodyguards, all of them extremely capable people who would lay down their lives for me (actually for Jesus) and I for them (actually for Jesus). One of those highly skilled people himself had a bodyguard, who passed away a while back. Here’s a picture of that bodyguard of my bodyguard. Obviously, he is a 1%er Outlaw.
Now, if you think that’s a bit scary or whatever, you know, that a priest would have body guards, you gotta know that – no insult to them – they got nuthin’ on guardian angels. Guardian angels are all about God’s justice, and see God, as Jesus says, in the face. God has their six, as it were. And guardian angels got ours.
Have we today already asked our angel guardians to help us with walking in God’s presence and praying always? They’ll rejoice to help us do this for us who were all of us “tax collectors and sinners” and would still be such with God’s good grace. Did I just make an analogy with some Outlaws and Guardian Angels? I guess I did. By the way, the archrivals of the Outlaws are the Hells Angels. Just sayin’.
“But Father George! Father George! I’m still flabbergasted about the 1%ers! They’re tax collectors and sinners and… splutter splutter… they’re violent!”
Oh, really? Take a look at Him whom we will all of us together look upon at the Last Judgment, Him whom we have all pierced with our sin:
Who’s the tax collector and sinner? The one who converts or the one who is aloof from also looking into Mary’s eyes?
24 March is the traditional feast day of the Archangel Gabriel, you know, on the Vigil of the Annunciation, 25 March. His name in Hebrew, גַּבְרִיאֵ֕ל, means God-is-my-Warrior. In two verses in Daniel 10:13.21 we see that Saint Michael the Archangel “helps” Saint Gabriel the Archangel. Question: If one helps the other, which one is greater? You could see that both ways. Wrong question. They are both Archangels, both so different from each other, it being that they are spiritual beings. It’s just the wrong question. However, their names tell us something about their roles. Raphael = God’s doctor. Michael = Who is like unto God. Gabriel = God is my Warrior.
Many think of Michael as the warrior, and he is that. But it just seems to me that Gabriel is the epitome of warriorship. The reason for this is that it’s he who’s chosen to announce to Mary that she is to be the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God, you know, because she is The Warrior after Jesus her Divine Son.
She is singled out in Genesis 3:15 as the one who goes up against Satan. God, speaking to Satan, says: “I will put enmity between you [Satan] and the woman [the Mother of the Redeemer].” Only after this does God say that He will but enmity between Satan’s followers and “her seed” (her Offspring, Jesus and those who belong to Him). Since she is be The Warrior, The Queen Mother, Queen of angels and men, Saint Gabriel must be the one who is at the head of all the heavenly armies.
Fra Angelico, artist of the image above, seems to have had a progression in his very many representations of the Annunciation, though I haven’t researched the dates for each. But I’m imagining that he starts with Gabriel standing and ends with him fully taking a knee. And that’s only right, for in the next seconds he will be in the presence of the Eternal Word Incarnate, before whom all take a knee, in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth.
But more. Just my imagination. I imagine Gabriel coming in from fierce battle to announce to his Queen, the Leader of the Heavenly Hosts, that God Himself, as The Warrior who is to crush Satan completely, is to be conceived and borne of herself. She is The Warrior by way of her maternity of the Head of the Body and us, the members of the one Body of Christ.
In the far upper left… is that Michael we see, chasing fallen Adam and his wife out of paradise? Yes, I think it is. Even while Gabriel is getting ready for the announcement of the true Eve, the Immaculate Virgin Mother of Jesus.
Here’s Saint Anthony on the front steps of the rectory, with the Child Jesus.
There’s a reader of this blog who prays this prayer for priests and for me in particular, for which I am very grateful. Insert the name or names of priests you know who need extra help in these chaotic times:
O holy Angels, watch over Father George David Byers at all times during his perilous life; O holy Archangels, be his guides on his way to heaven; O heavenly choir of the Principalities, govern him in soul and body; O mighty Powers, preserve him against the wiles of the demons; O celestial Virtues, give him strength and courage in the battle of life; O powerful Dominations, obtain for him dominion over the rebellion of his flesh; O sacred Thrones, grant him peace with God and man; O brilliant Cherubim, illumine his mind with heavenly knowledge; O burning Seraphim, enkindle in his heart the fire of charity. Amen
Saint Anthony, you led many from darkness to light by your preaching and works of kindness. May Father George David Byers also become a light to others and a radiant instrument of peace.
O gentle and loving Saint Anthony…… whisper my petition into the ears of the Sweet Infant Jesus…
The other day was such a consolation in the life of this priest. The TLM in the main parish church with confessions before and after, a great get-together with some priest friends, my own going to confession, all glorious. I love being a priest. And that continued later with the best “pauper’s funeral…” I digress.
Saint Teresa of Avila upped her situational awareness when all was going well for her on all levels. She totally expected a smackdown. I know how that goes. I’ve seen it uncountable times. And, sure enough…
The FexEx truck was in a rush passing on a double-yellow on a blind curve and wound up right in front of me in my lane. Brakes slammed. Steering wheel spun. But… Yikes! A guard rail and ravine… But, all was well.
Soon after that it was the bat out of hell. The second I saw her – like a half-mile back in the rearview mirror – I plugged in my ThinkWare F770 knowing there might soon be an accident at when a lane would disappear on the road. Either she’s going to crash out or run someone off the road…
I had already nicely pulled over into the left lane, lest I die. She passed in the arrowed right lane then ripped over to the oncoming traffic lane across the double-yellow in front of a blind curve just where the vehicle in front of me totally ran out of road. Was there an entire family in that vehicle? I don’t care what emergency she had; you don’t mortally endanger the general public for your little self.
This is what happened not all that long ago with such shenanigans:
That’s not a tree. That’s the guardrail. The picture’s from the local newspaper.
Back to situational awareness and Teresa of Avila. Yep, just when you think all is going well, do what she did and recognize who you actually are before our Lord and Savior, Christ our God. Saint Teresa would bring a small image into chapel to assist her in not being distracted with niceness, the all things are going well thing. It was the image of “Ecce Homo”, Pontius Pilate’s monitum to the vicious crowd: “Behold the Man!”
So, for instance, I love being a priest of The High Priest. It’s always stunning to see His priesthood in action during, say, the sacraments. But I am fallen like anyone else. I might be having too good a time of it, with a risk of losing sight of why I’m loving the priesthood so much. And then… BAM! A warning to wake up, “smell the coffee” as my mom would say. And then a second warning (because I’m stubbornly the idiot)… BAM!
I thank my guardian angel for alerting me to the warnings or having my reactions be lightning quick. “Guardian Angel” as I call him, has his work cut out for him with me. I know that. I thank him. And I ask that my spiritual situational awareness also be heightened. That one’s more difficult. But not really. Because it’s just a matter of being happy to have Jesus, by His grace, draw us to be in reverence before the Father in all thanksgiving. Jesus does that work, and it cost Him. Let’s see… where’s that picture of Jesus next to Pontius Pilate?
“The Apparition of Our Lady plunged us once more into the atmosphere of the supernatural, but this time more gently. Instead of annihilation in the Divine Presence, which exhausted us even physically, it left us filled with peace and expansive joy.” (In her own words [pdf]).
The annihilation spoken about here is wonderfully positive, recalling Saint Paul: It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. This is an annihilation because of the very Author of Life is present, He who is love. This is the weight of the glory – βάρος δόξης – spoken of by Saint Paul, following up on the Hebrew Scriptures: the weight/glory of the Lord: כבוד־יהוה. This weight of the glory of the Lord pushes us to our knees in humble reverence, in thanksgiving before the Most High. Mary is such a good mother.
In trepidation, I just might ask my guardian angel for a bit more of a smidgen of a sense of this annihilation. Trepidation, mind you. After all, who am I if not already a nobody asking to know just that before the presence of the Most High? This would be so that I might more adequately thank Him who is to come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire, thank Him for coming into this world, standing in our stead, being annihilated for us that we in turn might be brought to life in Him.
Besides your phone tracking where you are especially when you turn off all tracking, shut the phone off entirely, and take out the main battery, with much more accurate tracking than if you just left it all on and enabled, media systems and all their adjunct driving “aids” on cars newer than not also have plenty of GPS trackers.
But more than that vehicles can also be tracked with GPS locators, often placed by the owners of vehicles in high car-theft areas. Car makers often provide an option to have car tracking installed in the factory, providing phone apps to help law enforcement. Remember the Asian guy in the Boston Marathon bombing aftermath? This guy is great.
Trackers can save your life and the lives of others.
And as far as any law enforcement placing a tracker on any car… Great! I love it! The more the merrier! Fill up my car, inside and out!
All that exclamation point excitability is for all things being equal, that is, with the person being tracked not being someone who is discovering untold corruption and racketeering in criminal organizations or criminal cover-up going on where it shouldn’t be happening. We’ll assume the good, so, it’s all good.
I’ve never seen any trackers on my vehicles, not that I ever really searched. For me, it’s like, whatever. Maybe they are there for good. Maybe they are there for other than good reasons. Whatever the case, removing a tracker can possibly be against the law, having you wind up in prison. And – as Hillary once said – what difference does it make? You take one off another more cleverly placed tracker is attached. I’ve no time for such nonsense.
Personally, I like the idea of being tracked. It leaves a computer trail that’s pretty much impossible to erase, you know, what the trails are, who’s doing the tracking. It works both ways, keeping everyone honest. My life is an open book anyway. I just have a more refined situational awareness when stupid situations are going down. And that brings welcome skill sets of how to get out of or avoid untoward situations altogether. De-escalation skills are always good.
Again, whatever. And – hey! – I might just have gone out of my own way to track my own vehicles. You never know. It’s never a bad idea. :-)
TO THE POINT: God always knows where we are, and is registering every thought we have, every move we make: He be watching us (sorry for the musical recall). More than that, our guardian angels are, thank God, doing the same. They see the face of God and us at the same time. You know…
Never mind that. He’s got his eyes open all the time. His situational awareness cannot be beat.
Guardian angels will do whatever it takes to get us to heaven, whether that means saving us from perils in this life, or NOT. They want that we have our souls pointed to heaven, that we are calling out to our Lord, that we long to go to heaven, and be prepared for that at any time.
No, I don’t care about electronic trackers. No fear! We all have something someone much better:
Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here, ever this day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide.
Having exited the Murphy Lowe’s on the far side of the parking lot, bringing home more items for the sanctuary renovation in our little church in Andrews, NC, the black car above, with the the brand emblem in front of the car having been torn off, raced up the steep hill to the back of Sassy the Subaru, stopped at the traffic light on the “four-lane” as the locals call it here. But then “he” carefully crept up to the back bumper and then actually bumped the back of Sassy. The light was red all this time, so this was a direct provocation which had zero precedent. The “guy” had come out of the opposite end of the parking lot when I was already at the top of the hill. He blew right through the stop signs. Just to say, maniac drivers are not at all the usual customers of Lowe’s. Not at all.
Sassy has a bit of pick up being a standard shift (perhaps the last one for Subaru, a 2016), so I was able to get on the highway and put some distance between us so as to deescalate whatever it was. But, wanting to prove a point of the only one belonging on any road at any time (I guess), the “guy” quickly caught up, cut off the guy in the other lane behind me, almost striking the back corner of Sassy the Subaru:
As he passed, in 360 mode, this screen shot was able to be had:
White “guy,” impossibly super huge floppy blond wig. “He” continued racing ahead, thank God, only to turn in the Walmart parking lot. “He” was probably upset with “himself” that he mistook Lowe’s for being Walmart. I was only in the way of “his” making up for lost time. Whatever.
I had pulled over to the right near the grass so as not be hit, and then stayed way back to get across the message that I didn’t want to engage in road rage but wasn’t only going to do up de-escalation maneuvers. And it worked. Thanks, Guardian Angel.
Do you say a prayer to your Guardian Angel when you get in the car? He’s a saint in heaven, seeing the face of God as Jesus says, who is right with you. I do this. And I do it again when trouble is round about, and maybe more than once. :-)
Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here, ever this day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.
The Gospel for the First Sunday of Advent (Novus Ordo) last night at the Vigil Mass, 20 February 2021, is Mark’s super short account of Jesus tempted by Satan in the desert immediately after the Baptism. Unlike the lengthy accounts offered by Matthew and Luke, Mark simply says that Jesus was tempted by Satan. That’s it. While the first readings were read and the psalm was chanted so beautifully, I asked my guardian angel what I should speak about during the homily. It’s like I could almost hear my rib cage explode as he ripped my heart out and stomped on it while I beheld what I was being instructed to speak about. It’s not that I saw anything. It’s not that I heard any words. It’s that of a sudden – wham! – I understood that short account and what the real temptation of Jesus was. Oh my God, my Lord and my God.
The temptations to which Jesus was subjected in the desert and then repeated quite exactly on Calvary by the ones Satan was possessing are mere distractions, very clever. While Jesus is busy with that Satan would offer Jesus the temptation which Satan had in mind even before he approached Jesus years before in the desert. Soooo clever.
We get some clues about this in all the accounts of the temptations presented to Jesus in the desert, such as Luke saying that Satan then departed but with a plan in mind that would involve a more opportune time, more opportune because there will be an added element. It’s that added element that was so crushing to me.
Let’s see if I can preach coherently today. I’ll publish the recording if the homily isn’t too disjointed. But I have to tell you, I’m still devastated about what happened the instant I asked my guardian angel to tell me what to say.
Now it’s time to feed the dogs, run up to church to set up for Adoration and Confessions from 6:00-7:00 AM, then run up to Graham County for more Adoration and Confessions and Mass, then run back for Confessions and Mass here in Cherokee County, then rush off for the rest of the day on Communion Calls and possibly other Sacraments all over God’s good creation among Jesus’ little flock. I probably won’t be back until late. But if the homily in Robbinsville early this morning turns out well, I’ll see if I can’t publish that before the second Mass.
UPSHOT: It’s good to ask your guardian angel to help you out. He will. And if you recognize that, as I did, it’s not because anyone is special, it’s because were so very much know-nothings that we must ask for help. God provides with the angels. He does. Ask.
The beginning of this month was the scheduled time for the diocesan priests retreat, which didn’t happen, but the priests were to do this on their own, as I did. After that weekdays have been staycation days. That will continue through election week here in what are still these USA. Each staycation day became an epic day off, and not just for me. I’ve been more run off my feet than ever. As expected. For the nay-sayers, priests are “entitled” – I hate that word – to a month of vacation every year. I took a vacation once in my priesthood back in the Spring of 2008, invited by the Discalced Carmelites to live above the cave of Elijah on Mount Carmel for a month. Lot’s done in the background with relations between Israel and the Holy See. I never quite do vacations like other people do.
Two angels for this priest:
One of the projects at the rectory – a joy – was to make backlight boxes for the stained glass angels. Their history is the chapel of the Poor Clares in Ohio, then The Museum in Columbus, Ohio, then Holy Souls Hermitage on Holy Souls Mountain, then the picture window of the neighbors to the hermitage, and now the picture window of the rectory.
For me, these windows represent my guardian angel and the guardian angel of Holy Souls Mountain. Both are awesome – as angels reflecting God’s glory and with infused knowledge and God’s charity – and have both saved me very many times from deadly peril. A personal friendship. How are you at listening to your guardian angel? How compliant are you – a different way of putting it – to the smackdowns graciously given to you by your guardian angel?
Plotting for the good of the Church:
Besides such things, and cleaning up after the torrential rain and wind of the last hurricane, there has quite a bit of time spent with some really smart friends at the top of their game in plotting to help out Jesus’ dear Church and the world. This is what priests do when they have a bit of time to dedicate to much needed fraternity and recreation, all too rare.
It is my belief that the Living Truth, Christ our God, Jesus, desires truth pronounced for the universal Catholic Church. [[That’s technical vocabulary, is it not? ;-) ]]
Apologies for the lack of new posts for this blog: The internet in the back ridges of Appalachia is virtually non-existent. Sometimes a weak connection can be had for like three hours a day akin to 1980s long-distance-rotary-dial-up-speed with endlessly screaming modems. If you’re as old as I am, you’ll remember getting something like megabits per minute. Yes, that would be megabits not megabytes. That amounts to a few words of DOS txt per minute. For a graphic heavy blog like this… sigh…
The continuous endless papal antics and ambiguity: Pope Francis has, as usual, been a distraction, but that distraction has only become an incentive to teach and preach all the more incisively about the Living Truth, Christ our God, Jesus. I’m a Catholic, not a Francesco-ite. Ambiguity and un-truth is sooooo very boring, so very dark. I love the Living Truth, Jesus, the Light.
To hell with all that is untruth, issuing as it does, from the father of lies, Satan, the ancient dragon who hates us because he hates God. That was and is Satan’s choice. That Satan roams about looking to destroy souls with all his niceness and deception, all his unity of praise of division, is all the more an incentive to me to teach and preach all the more incisively about the Living Truth, Christ our God, Jesus.
I don’t know what happened here at our local grocery store parking lot. That’s police tape wrapped around it. That would be an indication that all is not well here in Andrews, NC. But I won’t conjecture about it.
[[ Update: Apparently the engine was being worked on by a family member and another family member didn’t make much of it, and then the engine started on fire while he was driving. He got out safely. Total loss, of course. Yikes! ]]
But I am reminded of vehicles I’ve been given to drive by “nice” enemies over the decades, vehicles which reeked of gasoline fumes, enough to knock you out altogether. It’s the good ol’ boys whose club I wasn’t in, who faked being nice to me. But – Hey! – I had no money, so I happily received these as “gifts.” A friend of some of those enemies but not so much my enemy told me to pop the hood after I had just then returned from an errand. He opened the hood…
“Get out! Now!” he said with ashen face, stepping back, stunned at what he saw.
“What is it?” I asked, concerned because of his behavior.
“The gas line’s been slashed,” he said. “Gas is spilling over the hot manifold. It’s impossible that your vehicle isn’t on fire. It’s a miracle.”
“Not to worry,” said I, trying to reassure this long-hall semi-truck driver and mechanic that all was well: “I’m sure there’s a firewall. I could’ve just pulled over and gotten out.”
“In this vehicle that won’t give you more than a few seconds,” said he, “and then the inside compartment would be filled with flames. You gotta really good guardian angel.”
I was all smiles, as my guardian angel is, in fact, good, like all other guardian angels, reflecting God’s glory and doing God’s will with prompt eagerness. My first thought was that I fell far short of that prompt eagerness and wanted to do better for the greater glory of God, and was being given some overtime for this end.
The same enemies gave me another vehicle more recently, this time with a hole in the gas tank. “Just don’t fill it up,” they said. “Only put in a little at a time,” they said.
Meanwhile, I was about to pass out because of the fumes. I gave that vehicle away, warning the guy I gave it to about the problem.
“Not a big deal,” he said, “I can fix that right quick.”
“But the fumes will about knock you out,” said I, “stop smoking and driving at the same time.”
He laughed. He dealt with it in a way I couldn’t and is still driving that vehicle to this day. Good on him.
I could continue about vehicles I’ve been given with no brake pads, others with cut brake lines, others where the outer-tie-steering-rod-end was cut through with a hack saw except just a little bit, about slashed tires, about certain, um, devices, etc., on and on.
Much more recently, Sassy the Subaru has had unending problems, some of them entirely deadly, which seem entirely extrinsic to the Subaru itself, not the fault of the Subaru, but because of an external intervention… But I better not speak of that too loudly. These were bad enough that when I realized what was happening, I pulled over immediately and got the vehicle towed to get some emergency repairs – taking many hours – again and again. It is what it is. I’ve learned to be patient, actually, taking it all in stride.
I’ve learned that what’s important in life is to get to heaven, which has a set time for all of us, and that our guardian angels are going to make sure that it’s at that time set by Almighty God and not by someone else. My sights are set on heaven, so I don’t much care how things work out on earth. It’s all good.
Still, I do have a fire extinguisher with me in the passenger-door-compartment. I’m mocked for that. But I’m good with the mockery. I’ve already had to use it. I also have a first-aid kit. :-)
P.S. As I reflect on the decades, I recall so very many telling me, stunned about close calls of all kinds, that ” You’re protected,” and “You have a good guardian angel.” Yes, it’s all a bit frightful, actually.
I’m sure we all have dozens of stories to tell about our guardian angels. It’s good to thank them regardless of whether or not we recognize their activity.
So, I’m a Catholic priest, and now, in 2020, 60 years old. When I was a senior in High School, 1978, Come Sail Away! by Styx was my favorite song. In analyzing the lyrics, I’m surely guilty of reading my own perspective into it all. Come along for the ride, or better: Come Sail Away![My comments.]
I’m sailing away [Sorry, but I’m so very much wanting to go to heaven that this sailing away” thing instantly refers to death as described in the Funeral Preface: “Life is changed, not ended.]
Set an open course for the Virgin Sea [Because we’ve never been to that “Virgin Sea.” You recall in Luke 5:4 that Jesus commanded: “Duc in altum!” which we translate as: “Set out into the deep!” But “in altum” refers to “into the heights” as opposed to “de profundis…” “out of the depths.” One of our fresh water lakes in the north woods of Minnesota – 120 feet deep at that point – was entirely clear as the air, so that one could easily see, in detail, the landscape, if you will, at the bottom of the lake. That would be like hovering over the edge of the roof of a short skyscraper. Fishermen on the freshwater sea of Galilee would have this experience of being in the skies over the depths, neither of which guarantees any earthly security. Even if we’re entirely with our Lord as His little flock, it’s still all very new to us going to the other side, as it were.]
‘Cause I’ve got to be free [Indeed. We have do not have the freedom not to be free of this world. We will die. We will move on. But there is more to this. In 1 Peter 2:24 we are told that to be free from sin we might live for righteousness. Saint Paul says that a dead person is absolved from sin (see Romans 6:6), you know, “‘Cause I’ve got to be free.”]
Free to face the life that’s ahead of me [Free for life. So, we’re headed in the right direction here, up to heaven, but there might be purgatory, right? We shall see. We can’t judge ourselves on such matters. We’ll see what the Lord has to say about this. But we must have the hope that we are facing life, and embrace that freely: “Free to face.”]
On board, I’m the captain [Speaking to the angels here. Our angel guardians enlighten us, guard us, rule us, guide us. Yes. But we have free will to assent to this, or not. We’re the captains in this most basic sense. If we follow the Lord we do so by grace, but He also uses our free will.]
So climb aboard
We’ll search for tomorrow
On every shore. And I’ll try – Oh Lord! I’ll try – to carry on [Speaking to the angels as he’s dying, as his entire life is flashing before his eyes. Is there any hope possible for the shores of his life? Do any growth in God’s love accompany him now? Many, many of even the greatest of saints were afflicted at the moment of death, Satan trying to make them despair, accusing them. But they cut through the mind games of Satan with the love of God, not their fallen-nothing-lovefor God, but God’s very love within them by grace.]
I look to the sea [this very moment of death, launching out into the depths, the heights.]
Reflections in the waves spark my memory [Do we sink like Peter upon the waves? Do we allow Jesus to catch us? See Matthew 14:30-31.]
Some happy some sad [So nostalgic! I’ve been nostalgic since I was a little, little kid. This is like an extended examination of conscience…]
I think of childhood friends and the dreams we had [Yep. All that.]
We live happily forever
So the story goes [How naive we all were!]
But somehow we missed out [By saving grace…]
On that pot of gold [bypassing the “treasures” of this world so that our souls are purified like gold in fire. And this is a statement of hope. This fellow is all about what lies ahead with real life. I love that.]
But we’ll try best that we can
To carry on [The hope that comes with God’s love would have us do this as we move from this life to the next.]
A gathering of angels appeared above my head [So, right at the moment of death…]
They sang to me this song of hope, and this is what they said [“A song of hope”. I love that. The angels have helped us through life, but….]
They said come sail away, come sail away
Come sail away with me now
Come sail away, come sail away
Come sail away with me
Come sail away, come sail away
Come sail away with me now
Come sail away, come sail away
Come sail away with me
I thought that they were angels, but to my surprise [Not angels! It’s the souls in Purgatory who by our prayers were freed and went on their way to heaven, eagerly awaiting the moment, as Jesus says, to welcome us into the eternal habitations, into heaven. We would think they are angels at first glance because the saints in heaven reflect the very glory of God.]
We climbed aboard their starship [the Holy Spirit], we headed for the skies [Duc in altum! This is a meditation which brings me great joy and great peace… and joy! We’re on our way to heaven!]
Singing come sail away, come sail away
Come sail away with me now
Come sail away, come sail away
Come sail away with me
Come sail away, come sail away
Come sail away with me
Come sail away, come sail away
Come sail away with me
Come sail away, come sail away
Come sail away, come sail away
So, say a prayer for the souls in purgatory. They will be the ones to greet you on the other side and welcome you into the eternal habitations. Hail Mary…
As the days go by and the stats on reported cases and deaths bring up a ratio which is consistent in nations which publish health data with accuracy. Sorry, but I don’t trust China. I do trust Italy and these USA.
The mortality rate for reported cases hovers between 4% to 5%. Today for these USA it stands at 4.33%. That is, around midnight between March 9 to 10, there were 26 deaths with 600 cases.
4.33%… What does that mean? It means that as of now, 1 in every 23 people you see on the street will drop dead.
1/23 is a statistic that changes quickly but it hovers around that rate, more or less. But what does it mean in real life?
The one’s who are getting especially sick with this Coronavirus are those who are already health-compromised and stuck with others who are vulnerable. Sorry to profile, but this means geriatric vacations on cruise ships. Do you know anyone elderly that goes on cruises? I know many. Do you see druggies and drug houses every single day? I do, very, very many. All druggies are ultra-super-health-compromised, are frequently visiting drug houses to get drugs and hang out, and are liable already be sharing diseases of all kinds, and – get this – really don’t have much of a conscience about avoiding sharing disease. No really. There are those who, as we know in now many news reports (just as happened with HIV-AIDS), when someone gets such a virus as Coronavirus or AIDS, they purposely go out as predators so as to spread the virus, so as to spread HIV. That’s fallen human nature.
I would like to share an analogous event when I was terribly scandalized by a knucklehead priest intent on scandalizing us kids. This is not about sex abuse, but it is quite directly analogous to that as well. This was when I was in second grade attending our parochial school. The Monsignor had our entire class marched over to his rectory, to the little chapel in the rectory. Upon entering I was devastated. I asked what the electric light on the wall was. I was told that this was because the tabernacle was there. Where? I asked. The monsignor pointed to a matchbox sized box unceremoniously stuck to the wall in the corner. I just couldn’t believe it. It was like Jesus wasn’t important, that God wasn’t important. I knelt down. He got real nervous. He had us march around the butcher block altar in the middle of the little room (which also totally scandalized me). I asked if that was really the altar as it wasn’t at all like the high altar over in the church that was then being torn down. Yes, it’s the altar, he said. My heart sank. I was scared. What’s happening? I was extremely aware of the reverence I had for the altar. And he was forcing us to touch it. I asked like three times if I had to touch the altar. He said yes, and was getting quite impatient with me. I was going into full adrenaline mode with everything graying out as I marched around the altar and touched it as did the others. I had hesitated even then at the last second. Just touch it! I was instructed. Sorry to put it this way, but I felt as if I had insulted the Lord, I felt as if I myself has been violated (raped if you will). I was empty. No heart left. My heart had been ripped out of me and stomped on and thrown out. But I did sense – mind you – that the angels had been warning me before this and were angry (so to speak) after this, not angry with me, but with this event, so very, very sad. To be precise, it’s that the very Sacred Mysteries had been stripped from my soul.
Back to Communion in the hand. My anecdote about the altar is an analogy. I would never force anyone to take Communion in the hand. And anyway, Communion on the tongue is more hygienic.
With other angels or on his own, Saint Michael is mentioned throughout the Sacred Scriptures. He is successful in his battle against Satan because of his humility, which makes him, as his name indicates, one Who Is Like Unto God. Saint Michael does not get in God’s way with sin and pride and all that is demonic. Instead, Saint Michael lets God shine through himself to the greater honor and glory of God.
There is a prayer to Saint Michael which all can say, a prayer which many popes have indicated be said after Holy Mass, a short version of a longer version of a much longer version. The short version is available to all as it is stripped of direct commands to Satan, and instead directs the one praying to make a humble petition to Saint Michael:
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil; May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; And do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.
Great! But many are not content with that, thinking that if one does not personally and in the first person make brave to rebuke Satan, directly commanding him to depart (which is always an exorcism, not just “delivery”), then all prayers to Saint Michael and to God Himself are useless, stupid, a distraction, not permitting one to show how powerful one is oneself over against Satan. And so they command Satan though they are not exorcists and are therefore not expressly mandated by their bishops to do so in the name of Jesus. They say they have empirical proof that they are powerful over against Satan, that they are the ones who know better, who are special, who don’t have to be “limited” to humble petition because simple prayer is NOTHING! Really? Just. Wow. They say simple prayer has no effect. It’s only when they themselves do exorcisms and speciouly call those exorcisms mere private and pious prayer (how very ironic) that things happen…. Yeah, I bet that’s exactly right. Things happen. Satan plays a mind game with them, making those raising themselves up look like they have POWER! Ooooh! “Power.”
It is said that what they do is simple and not solemn, private and not public, relatively modern instead of relatively ancient, short and not long, “delivery” instead of exorcism… all false distinctions meant to say that directly commanding Satan is not an exorcism. Here’s the deal: Commanding Satan is always and in every instance an exorcism by definition. That’s precisely why they do it. But they are also those who say that 2+2=5. Pfft.
It is said that some guy at Ecclesia Dei in a response to a private person (a priest) said it was O.K. to just go ahead and recite the longer version, with the exorcisms as part of one’s private, pious prayer. But an exorcism, however quietly said in a hidden manner, is always, by definition, a public act of the Church, drawing on the merits of Christ and the saints. But it seems to me that this private suggestion by Ecclesia Dei is not legislation for the whole church, nor does it undo previous and authoritative decisions that this is not to be done except with the express mandate of the local ordinary as we see in the universal law of the Church.
When I was a kid, I remember seeing the longer versions of the Saint Michael prayer with the exorcisms, with an accompanying indication that the exorcisms were to be skipped by those who are not mandated to do exorcisms. But I digress.
Humbly following canon law and the mind of the legislator as expressed in authoritative decisions about the same and as directed to the universal Church is, it seems to me, the way to go. Humility in the midst of the Church is way to go. God does not penalize us if we act with humility. Saint Michael does not abandon us if we act with humility. Our guardian angels do not mock us if we act with humility.
Again, what Ecclesia Dei did was not only not presented for approval by the Holy Father in forma specifica, but it was also not declared that it was approved by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
In my experience, it’s when laity and priests who are not exorcists just go ahead and do exorcisms that problems begin.
The lead picture is from actual footage out of one of the windows of Air Force 1. POTUS was being accompanied by multiple F-16s on September 11, 2001. They were there to protect him.
I can’t even count the times I’ve seen such accompaniment from my own window in a commercial jetliner. Most incidents were on the Stateside termination of transatlantic flights. I’m guessing that this accompaniment was not for the protection of anyone inside, but rather to practice being in place for the downing of a commercial airliner if it suddenly itself became weaponized. A common exercise for the fighter pilots, surely. Some examples:
Chicago – O’Hare International Airport: With fuel mostly depleted after such an extra-long flight, we were, instead, put in a rather weird holding pattern. The pilot was punctuating the ticking of the clock with apologies. Five minutes, fifteen, thirty, thirty five… Passengers were getting a bit agitated. The weather wasn’t good. That was the excuse. Until the pilot started expressing some distress about running out of fuel, and that the tower knew that, but would not, not, not give permission to land. I think the pilot brought the fuel thing up like three times. I love flying, so I thought it was all good, especially because of the airshow outside, F-16s to the sides of the plane. Cool! It was stunning to me – I’m so naive – that no one could care less about the cool F-16s. The other passengers were too agitated with the flight attendants who were trying to keep people calm by proffering hope for getting to any connecting flights. These were the days of “mere” highjacking instead of the blowing up of planes or running them into buildings. The F-16 on my side of the plane (the left side) pulled away. Momentarily, another took its place. Just practice, surely. We landed. My connecting flight was to the Wold–Chamberlain Field of the Twin Cities in Minnesota. We were diverted mid-flight to what looked to be a small-town airstrip somewhere in a pasture in nowheresville, Wisconsin. After a long delay, everyone was hauled out onto the tarmac. All the luggage came off. Dogs arrived with a multitude of law enforcement… Inside the plane, outside the plane, with the luggage, with us… nothing. That was a fad for some years in my experience anyway. Again and again. Then it was back on the plane. Just training, surely. Great!
JFK International Airport: I’ve elsewhere told the story about my involvement when terrorists threatened to blow up a transatlantic flight half way to JFK. I’ll spare you. Needless to say, this was another occasion for accompaniment of a commercial airliner with F-16s. They weren’t there for practice, however. They were waiting for a go-ahead to down the plane if need be. We did land, only to taxi out as far away from the airport as possible, almost in the water of the Atlantic, to be met by a multitude of emergency vehicles and then a storming of the plane by special operators.
I remember the details of these incidents of accompaniment more than the details of others as there were more concomitant circumstances that were… special.
Dad used to train in fighter pilots at Andrews just south of DC as they were putting him through JAG law training at Georgetown University. But how do you train in pilots to down commercial airliners full of innocent American citizens? What’s going through the pilots’ minds and hearts and souls? Unimaginable. But that’s why you train. But the question is always, immediately, Is this just an exercise? And then you hear, No. It’s not. … … … as your heart about stops and then about breaks your ribs pounding so hard.
Analogy: We’re all each of us in crazy changing circumstances every day that are permitted or provided by our Lord who is the Lord of History. He sees all. Our angels see all. We’re expected to be faithful in whatever circumstances, to do what we need to do, whether this means anything from going to heaven when called, promptly, with enthusiasm, or “to protect and serve” as is said. And all in between. Do we think, however, that maybe our circumstances aren’t quite so dramatic, and therefore our faithfulness isn’t really a big deal in those small circumstances, so that – Hey! – we can be politically correct or “get along to get along” or not witness to the goodness and kindness and truth and honesty and integrity that our Lord demands of us every second of every hour of every day?
Here’s the deal: It might be faithfulness in that tiny circumstance that will especially touch the heart and soul of someone and have them turn to the Lord and be on their way to heaven. And that epic saving of a soul is incomparably more dramatic than anything whatsoever that could possibly happen to us in this world. The salvation of souls is about eternity. It’s the small things that are going to draw people in, goodness and kindness and truth and honesty and integrity, always, always, and everywhere, everywhere.
This is in Saint Michael’s chapel above the grotto in Lourdes, France.
[[ This commentary has been slightly revised and updated with the addition of the Ecclesia Dei response to dubia. ]]
The four matters commented upon here:
Instruction on Prayers for Healing (14 December 2000) [Feast of St John of the Cross, who hated sensationalism]
Inde ab aliquot annis (29 September 1985) [Feast of St Michael the Archangel (and now Gabriel and Raphael as well)]
A citation from Father Amorth
Response to dubia set forth by a priest to the Commission “Ecclesia Dei” – 26 June 2015 [Feast day of Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, which may indicate the provenance of the dubia ;-) ]
The Instruction of 14 December 2000 was approved by the ordinary session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and shown to and approved by Saint John Paul II. This document cites Inde ab aliquot annis, which was also signed by Cardinal Ratzinger while Prefect of the CDF under Saint John Paul II.
Why you should read this post: Because we’ll be seeing lots more exorcisms taking place with all the new exorcists coming on board. This will help you keep your wits about you, knowing what the Church actually says about such things amidst all the various opinions. A couple of generations have gone by with almost no exorcists appointed in the entire Church. This means a loss of experiential wisdom, a risk of sensationalism, a risk of pride in going up against Satan. Let’s take a look at what the Church actually says. I don’t apologize for taking no prisoners. This is too important.
CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH INSTRUCTION ON PRAYERS FOR HEALING 14 December 2000
[Let’s skip right to the disciplinary norms:]
Art. 1 – It is licit for every member of the faithful to pray to God for healing. When this is organized in a church or other sacred place, it is appropriate that such prayers be led by an ordained minister. [Since the distinction is about the place in which this happens, the logic is that it would be inappropriate for those who are not ordained to lead organized prayer for healing in a church or other sacred place.]
Art. 2 – Prayers for healing are considered to be liturgical if they are part of the liturgical books approved by the Church’s competent authority; otherwise, they are non-liturgical.
Art. 3 – § 1. Liturgical prayers for healing are celebrated according to the rite prescribed in the Ordo benedictionis infirmorum of the Rituale Romanum (28) and with the proper sacred vestments indicated therein.
§ 2. In conformity with what is stated in the Praenotanda, V., De aptationibus quae Conferentiae Episcoporum competunt (29) of the same Rituale Romanum, Conferences of Bishops may introduce those adaptations to the Rite of Blessings of the Sick which are held to be pastorally useful or possibly necessary, after prior review by the Apostolic See.
Art. 4 – § 1. The Diocesan Bishop has the right to issue norms for his particular Church regarding liturgical services of healing, following can. 838 § 4.
§ 2. Those who prepare liturgical services of healing must follow these norms in the celebration of such services.
§ 3. Permission to hold such services must be explicitly given, even if they are organized by Bishops or Cardinals, or include such as participants. Given a just and proportionate reason, the Diocesan Bishop has the right to forbid even the participation of an individual Bishop. [This, of course, has historical reference to the one time Archbishop, Emmanuel Milingo, who was forbidden to participate in such things in the Archdiocese of Milan. Milingo was “laicized” / dismissed from the clerical state in 2009.]
Art. 5 – § 1. Non-liturgical prayers for healing are distinct from liturgical celebrations, as gatherings for prayer or for reading of the word of God; these also fall under the vigilance of the local Ordinary in accordance with can. 839 § 2. [All of this should be obvious, but the abundance of disobedience requires that this be reiterated. The cry “We can do whatever we want!” is frequently to be heard, just as Satan’s cry of “Non serviam!” (I will not serve!) is likewise frequently heard. When there is disobedience you can be sure Satan is nearby.]
§ 2. Confusion between such free non-liturgical prayer meetings and liturgical celebrations properly so-called is to be carefully avoided. [In fact, I’ve never even once seen anything that was not confused.]
§ 3. Anything resembling hysteria, artificiality, theatricality or sensationalism, above all on the part of those who are in charge of such gatherings, must not take place. [Jesus doesn’t like hysteria. Really, He doesn’t. Jesus wrought exorcisms with quiet authority. Hysteria is a result of faked authority.]
Art. 6 – The use of means of communication (in particular, television) in connection with prayers for healing, falls under the vigilance of the Diocesan Bishop in conformity with can. 823 and the norms established by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Instruction of March 30, 1992.(30)
Art. 7 – § 1. Without prejudice to what is established above in art. 3 or to the celebrations for the sick provided in the Church’s liturgical books, prayers for healing – whether liturgical or non-liturgical – must not be introduced into the celebration of the Holy Mass, the sacraments, or the Liturgy of the Hours. [Wow. There. They said it. Totally cool. This happened and, I think, happens all the time, especially in Confession. That’s extremely imprudent. People recall the practice of Alphonsus Liguori, but not really. There is never a citation. Anyway, this is the legislation of Church now and it must be obeyed.]
§ 2. In the celebrations referred to § 1, one may include special prayer intentions for the healing of the sick in the general intercessions or prayers of the faithful, when this is permitted.
Art. 8 – § 1. The ministry of exorcism must be exercised in strict [“strict”] dependence on the Diocesan Bishop, and in keeping with [1.] the norm of can. 1172 [which I’ll try to present in another post with a document I presented to some 150 exorcists many years ago, but the idea is that the express mandate of the local ordinary is necessitated for an imprecatory exorcism], [2.], the Letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of September 29, 1985,(31) [which we will comment on further below], and [3.] the Rituale Romanum (32) [which will need its own series to comment upon].
§ 2. The prayers of exorcism contained in the Rituale Romanum must remain separate from healing services, whether liturgical or non-liturgical. [Get it? It’s not to be done. No direct commands to Satan in any kind of healing service. That ends about 99% of healing services.]
§ 3. It is absolutely forbidden to insert such prayers of exorcism into the celebration of the Holy Mass, the sacraments, or the Liturgy of the Hours. [And no matter how clear and repeatedly this is said, there will be people who will try to find loopholes. Read it: “Absolutely forbidden.” It is absolutely wrong. Nefas est! And, Fathers, to be explicit to the max: DO NOT DO THIS IN CONFESSION].
Art. 9 – Those who direct healing services, whether liturgical or non-liturgical, are to strive to maintain a climate of peaceful devotion in the assembly and to exercise the necessary prudence if healings should take place among those present; when the celebration is over, any testimony can be collected with honesty and accuracy, and submitted to the proper ecclesiastical authority. [One might find examples of the correct way of doing this in Lourdes.]
Art. 10 – Authoritative intervention by the Diocesan Bishop is proper and necessary when abuses are verified in liturgical or non-liturgical healing services, or when there is obvious scandal among the community of the faithful, or when there is a serious lack of observance of liturgical or disciplinary norms. [This is a reprimand to Bishops for not fulfilling their role of governance. In my experience, this is because those very bishops were happy to have such abuses take place, thinking that this was the nice thing to do].
The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, approved the present Instruction, adopted in Ordinary Session of this Congregation, and ordered its publication.
Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, September 14, 2000, the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross.
+ Joseph Card. RATZINGER
+ Tarcisio BERTONE, S.D.B. Archbishop Emeritus of Vercelli
Recent years have seen an increase in the number of prayer groups in the Church aimed at seeking deliverance from the influence of demons, while not actually engaging in real exorcisms. These meetings are led by lay people, even when a priest is present.
As the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has been asked how one should view these facts, this Dicastery considers it necessary to inform Bishops of the following response:
1. Canon 1172 of the Code of Canon Law states that no one can legitimately perform exorcisms over the possessed unless he has obtained special and express permission from the local Ordinary (§ 1), and states that this permission should be granted by the local Ordinary only to priests who are endowed with piety, knowledge, prudence and integrity of life (§ 2). Bishops are therefore strongly advised to stipulate that these norms be observed.
2. From these prescriptions it follows that it is not even licit that the faithful use the formula of exorcism against Satan and the fallen angels, extracted from the one published by order of the Supreme Pontiff Leo XIII, and even less that they use the integral text of this exorcism. Bishops should take care to warn the faithful, if necessary, of this. [“the faithful” – this speaks to individuals. The next paragraph speaks to groups. But in this paragraph 2 one sees that individuals even privately are absolutely forbidden to use the exorcism prayer from Leo XIII or anything extracted from it. That’s clear and strong. Priests generally are included, except for those who have the “special and express permission from the local Ordinary”. Disobey and you will get yourself in trouble. Disobedience is a sign of Satan’s presence. Disobedience is an open invitation to Satan to do his demonic worst.]
3. Finally, for the same reasons, Bishops are asked to be vigilant so that – even in cases that do not concern true demonic possession – those who are without the due faculty [priests included] may not conduct meetings during which invocations, to obtain release, are uttered in which demons are questioned directly and their identity sought to be known. [Priests without the due faculty still insist that because of the language in this paragraph they can still address Satan directly, so as to “bind” him, or some such thing, as if this were not an exorcism when, clearly, as a direct command to Satan, it is the very definition of an exorcism. Let’s just say it: forcing Satan with direct commands to answer questions and to reveal their identity is the very definition what is to go on in an exorcism, those direct commands being exorcisms is and of themselves in the larger exorcism or, in this case, with malicious deceit, the larger “deliverance” (which is actually an exorcism done in disobedience.]
Drawing attention to these norms, however, should in no way distance the faithful from praying that, as Jesus taught us, they may be delivered from evil (cf. Mt 6:13). [Exactly right. One may ask our Heavenly Father to rebuke Satan, as did Saint Michael himself. And this is how Jesus, the very Son of the Living God, told us all how to pray. Why is it that people think Jesus’ advice should be despised as worthless, or think themselves better than Saint Michael? I think that many have been misled, and that many think that they have to have power by way of doing exoricms, even to the point of disobeying the Church to do this. But such disobedience is to make friends with Satan.] Finally, Pastors may take this opportunity to recall what the Tradition of the Church teaches concerning the role proper to the sacraments and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, of the Angels and Saints in the Christian’s spiritual battle against evil spirits. [Indeed, Confession is so very important. But don’t do exorcisms in Confession.]
I take the opportunity to express my deepest respects,
Your most esteemed in Christ,
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
At this point, some quote Father Amorth (an old friend), in An Exorcist: More Stories, 189-90 (translated from a book going back to January 1992 in Italian, by the way…), to say that…
official exorcisms are not allowed [by non-exorcists]; they are reserved exclusively for the exorcist. The same holds true for the exorcism of Leo XIII, even though it is now part of the public domain. The private use of such exorcisms is another matter; at least, this is how I understand the above-cited document.
“At least, this is how I understand…” he says tentatively.
Are there “unofficial” exorcisms? Any direct command to Satan is an exorcism. Doing an exorcism needs the special and express permission of the local Ordinary.
He is right to mock the mere fact of something merely being published widely (“Part of the public domain”). The fact of leaflets spread about by private individuals is not the granting of a special and express permission!
But, let’s see if the much later document of “Ecclesia Dei” in 2015 has anything pertinent to say about anything private:
Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei
Pontificia Commissio “Ecclesia Dei”
Prot. N. 153/2009 – 26 June 2015*
[…] Thank you for your letter of 9 June 2015 [an instantaneous response], in which you submitted two dubia regarding the use of the Rituale Romanum of the Extraordinary Form (which is in fact the editio typica dated 1952).
In relation to the first dubium, namely “is a priest allowed to publicly and / or privately use the Exorcismus in satatam et angelos apostaticos (the so-called Exorcism of Leo XIII) found in Title XII of the 1956 Rituale Romanum without express permission of the local Ordinary”, this Pontifical Commission would respond as follows:
Pursuant to Can. 1172 § 1, no one may carry out an act of exorcism over persons without the special and express permission of the local Ordinary. Accordingly, any use, whether public or private, of the Exorcism of Leo XIII over persons is subject to such special and express permission of the local Ordinary.
As regards the public use of said Exorcism in situations other than over persons, such as over places, objects, or in other circumstances, this is also subject to the authorization of the Ordinary, in accordance with the opening rubric to be found in chapter III of Title XII of the 1952 Rituale: “Sequens exorcismus recitari potest ab Episcopis, nec non a Sacerdotibus, qui ab Ordinariis suis ad id auctoritatem habeant”. Indeed, it does not appear that any later legislation ever lifted the rule laid down by this rubric, which therefore remains in force. As for the letter Inde ab aliquot annis of the CDF of 29 September 1985, this letter deals with the question of the use of the Exorcism by laypersons, and is therefore of no consequence as to the situation of priests. It should further be noted that by “public” use of the Exorcism, one should understand any use made by a priest in the name and with the authority of the Church for the benefit of the faithful.
As regards the private use of the Exorcism of Leo XIII by priests, i.e. outside of any pastoral context and / or request by the faithful, and simply as a pia oratio, this Dicastery sees no grounds for which to deny this to priests on the basis of the discipline currently in force. That said, the competent authorities of the […edited out…] remain free, should they deem it appropriate, to provide its members with internal guidelines or rules [for further restriction, obviously] in this regard. [“Ecclesia Dei” rules out this exorcism of Leo XIII being used for the benefit of any member of the faithful and for any benefit whatsoever of the faithful such as over places at the request of the faithful if there is no special and express permission of the local Ordinary for a priest to do this as a duly authorized exorcist. “Ecclesia Dei” concedes a private usage that is to be unknown to anyone but the priest himself ( – over himself? or his domicile? – ) and only as a “pious prayer”. But an imprecatory (by direct command) exorcism as is had with the Exorcism of Leo XIII is not, by definition, a deprecatory (by request to Jesus or the saints) exorcism. The latter could be seen as a “pious prayer” such as the ending of “The Lord’s Prayer”. But the Leo XIII exorcism is definitely not that. It directly places monstrous, arrogant, violent Satan under the authority of Christ and the Church, drawing on the merits of Christ and the saints as an imprecatory exorcism wrought be a duly authorized priest-exorcist. Is this concession about using the Leo XIII exorcism as a “pious prayer” saying that a priest can privately go ahead and recite the Leo XIII exorcism, but just don’t mean what you say? I wonder what Satan would make of that. Does not meaning what you say make a mockery both of exorcism and of prayer? I wonder what Satan would make of that. I simply don’t know what to make of this. I’m not privately or publicly going to encourage priests to do exorcisms over themselves or anything of theirs such as private living quarters even privately even a “pious prayer” (whatever that means) based on an utterly nonsensical private answer to private dubia by a Secretary of a Commission, which answer, by the way, does not bear the public affirmation of the Cardinal Prefect of CDF of the time. Sorry + Guido Pozzo. But perhaps someone would like to explain this “pious prayer” thing to me. The comments box is open. Someone suggested that “merely addressing them” (the demons) is just fine as such an address is not mentioned. My question is: Why the hell would you be concerned with addressing demons if you are not doing an exorcism as duly authorized by the local ordinary to do that? Are the demons your good buds? ST II-II 90. ad. 2 is cited to say that it’s all good. Seriously? Muddled application, my friend. The same fellow says that none of the above restrictions are concerned with “adjuring them” (the demons). To be pedantic, “to adjure” is a direct literal translation from the Greek “exorcism” into Latin: To say “I adjure you, Satan” is exactly the same as to say “I exorcise you, Satan”. In their desire to have communication with the demons[!] people are dealing with fire. I fear for them. You should rethink this throw away concession, + Guido Pozzo.]
In relation to the second dubium, namely “can a deacon validly confect blessings which are not expresse jure permitted to him in the 1956 Rituale Romanum”, this Pontifical Commission would respond that regardless of the question of validity, it is clear from Can. 1169 § 3 that the faculty granted to a deacon to confect a blessing must be expressly conceded. Now, it does not appear that any such faculty has been granted to deacons by Church authority as regards the use of the blessing rites contained in the 1952 Rituale. Such concessions indeed exist in the 1984 De benedictionibus, but these are given on a rite-by-rite basis, and therefore only pertain to those particular rites referred to and laid out by that liturgical book, without any influence on the rights to use the blessings of the 1952 Rituale.
[…] + Guido Pozzo – Secretary
[*This 2015 letter was published years later in 2018 on the internet only in pdf form by Rorate. The transcription and interlinear commentary is mine].
Finally, just to end on a literary / film analogy, here’s a bit about power that was meant for good being corrupted into that which is evil. What do we become with fake authority? This is just a few seconds long:
“Look! A Squirrel!” Yes, the squirrels in these parts commonly lack color, so much so that there is a white squirrel festival complete with the soup kitchen guy wearing a white squirrel outfit put together by the neighbor to the hermitage.
On the “Day Off” I spent some time in town at a friend’s house, parking in the shade of a massive tree. Before going in, I sat in the car with the windows down for a few minutes checking emails and such. This girl didn’t like it one bit, parking herself on the tree just a few feet above me, scolding me continuously for minutes on end without a break. I thought I had better just go in so that she could get back to her young squirrels.
We fallen human beings thrive on being reprimanded when this is done for a good reason, is reasonably carried out, is consistent, predictable. And we learn. And we recognize that as a good thing. That’s when it’s all reasonable. But it needs to be met with reason on our part as well, a bit of humility. The Lord has given us commandments. As He said, if we love Him, we will keep those commandments of love of God and love of neighbor.
The reprimands for our lack, we have to know, will be as continuous as a mama squirrel. Our guardian angels will make sure of that. Count on it. Don’t discount it. When it happens, don’t get frustrated, upset. It’s best to thank our guardian angels for doing their job and helping us get to heaven.
Update: What’s in this post was on Easter Monday. It’s now Easter Tuesday. I’m rushing off again. There are those who have questions. I’m praying about these. Patience! ///
This was in the middle of nowhere, on the steep downhill coming off the top of the mountain after the border of Haywood and Jackson Counties. I only had a millionth of a nano-second to decide to stop as Mike was standing on the far side of his cab trying to wave people down and there was almost nowhere to stop. I blame my Guardian Angel for inspiring me in that instant to slam on the brakes and pull into the ditch (already knowing there was no one right behind me what with situational awareness and all that).
I never met Mike before. But, hey! He was in distress. Should I just pass him by? Mike said everyone else did for a full hour and a half before I stopped. Even a county sheriff zipped on by. Not his concern. Not anyone’s concern. We are not our brother’s keeper and all that, right? Mike said truckers used to be pretty tight knit and some might actually help out back in the day. Now everyone’s entitled to be wrapped up in themselves alone, entitled to be miserable, all alone.
Mike’s an oldster like me, same age, late fifties. There’s no way he could have walked the distance even one way, never mind two, and on the way back carrying many containers of many gallons of fluids. That was mid-afternoon. I got home at midnight.
I was having a blast. We spoke of the spiritual life. Trust in God. Wanting to go to heaven. Guardian Angels. Lots of guardian angel talk. Mike thought that this was the best thing ever. Catholics aren’t so bad, not at all, he said. Though he’s not Catholic, he’s been to Mass many times. He’s very close to his family, getting calls from his wife all the time to check to see if he was alright.
Of all things, it was the emergency poncho in the first aid kit someone sent into Holy Souls Hermitage years ago that saved the day. I should have taken a picture of how we both fixed the engine with the poncho and Gorilla Tape. No, really! What a hoot. It really worked.
Mike had other things to worry about. This was the least of his worries. After a couple of weeks, one boy in the family is still in ICU. He showed me a picture. He was shot five times. Still critical, but still alive. Hail Mary…
By the way, if you think that this was a nice thing for me to do, and, yes, I’m sure Michael appreciated it to no end, you have to know that, instead, this was no event of condescension. Instead, as I say, it was an entirely enjoyable experience. When we participate in life, we are brought more fully to life. I was the one receiving help.
As I made clear to Mike, I blame my guardian angel for my helping him out. Guardian angels are great. Thanks, Guardian Angel.
Yesterday, just down the street, multiple law enforcement agencies were at one of the many smallish assisted living homes for hours on end. There looks to have been a drug dog as well. And then the Parole Officer’s vehicle arrived. Yikes! I have no idea what was going on there, but I’m guessing that there may have been some home invasion activity. I mean, what better place to get prescription pain killers from defenseless elderly people?
Meanwhile, in my own neighborhood, copper junk was found strewn about, obviously someone cutting across yards with a haphazard armful of copper rubbish stolen so as to sell at the various junk yards, which pay top-dollar for copper.
Meanwhile, Shadow-dog is playing Guard-dog. He’s sitting on the back steps entrance into the house looking out into the back neighborhood and streets for anything suspicious. I thought he might be wanting to come in – as it’s really cold out – but no.
I tried to distract him by making all sorts of noise, but no. He did look at me once for a nanosecond as if to say, complaining: “Oh, keep quiet! Don’t you see I’m trying to protect you?” I mean, if you could have seen the look. He was very much at attention. A picture hardly conveys this. He’s not just sitting there. It’s like the whole city could vaporize in front of him so much explosive energy does he have. Very, very impressive.