Category Archives: Confession

When Padre Pio met Saint Michael. When Father Byers knew nothing at all.

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Elijah with the flaming fiery sword on Mount Carmel, Israel.

[This was written ten years ago. Today, precisely, is a good day to repost it. Padre Pio’s feast day. /// BTW, today marks 25 years in prison of Fr Gordon MacRae. Hail Mary… St Michael the Archangel… ///]

You can read things dozens of times over the years and just not “get it” at all. That’s me. But this year when I read the following letter of Padre Pio, I was mesmerized. I now know a bit more just how much I absolutely don’t know anything about the spiritual life. I have written academically about that of which he speaks, the flaming sword. I am vindicated on that academic level at least, for I am alone across the millennia in what I have written. But on a spiritual level, well, I am thrust to the ground in deep humiliation, for I obviously know nothing of the spiritual life. But at least I know that I know nothing. These days, that’s something. And it’s way more than enough to ask for this great saint’s help. Apologies are given in advance for the inadequacy of [my comments] below. You can see from my Coat of Arms (thanks to Elizdelphi! No words on the banner yet) that I am grateful to have written about the sword of which Padre Pio speaks…

GEORGE DAVID BYERS - COAT OF ARMS - revision

From the Letters of Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, priest (Epist. I, 1065; 1093-1095)

I will raise my voice and will not stop imploring him

“Out of obedience I am obliged to manifest to you what happened to me on the evening of the 5th of this month of August 1918 [Vigil of the Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus] and all day on the 6th [Feast of the Transfiguration].

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“I am quite unable to convey to you what occurred during this period of utter torment. While I was hearing the boys’ confessions on the evening of the 5th [making them saints!], I was suddenly terrorized by the sight of a celestial person [an angel, a cherub] who presented himself to my mind’s eye [So, not an apparition, but entirely spiritual. People think angels are all fluffy chiffon pastels and cutesy cutesy. Pio speaks of torment and terror, and this angel is from heaven!]. He had in his hand a sort of weapon [“weapon”] like a very long sharp-pointed steel blade which seemed to emit fire. [This is the sword mentioned in Genesis 3:24. It is the sword which “turns into its contrary by way of the fiery grace of enmity against Satan and by way of friendship with God whatever is presented to it.” This is the sword with which the Carmelites depict Elijah. This is the sword of Saint Michael. This is the sword of Saint Teresa of Avila…] At the very instant that I saw all this, I saw that person hurl the weapon into my soul with all his might. [Seeing that a cherub could crush the entire universe if given permission from the Most High, this is saying really a lot…] I cried out with difficulty and felt I was dying. I asked the boys to leave because I felt ill and no longer had the strength to continue. [What an understatement of all time. They must have been scared for him.] This agony lasted uninterruptedly until the morning of the 7th. I cannot tell you how much I suffered during this period of anguish. Even my entrails were torn and ruptured by the weapon, [“weapon”] and nothing was spared. [“nothing” – and here I try to hang on to this and that. And in doing that I am totally lacking in generosity. I’ve done nothing in my life. I’ve not laid down my life as so many have done. Pio is going through his purgatory all at once, 40 some hours for him. And what would I do, I who surely have a purgatory lasting until the end of the world?]

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Elijah’s fiery sword on the Discalced Carmelite Coat of Arms

“From that day on I have been mortally wounded. [And this is no longer his wound, but that of humanity, with Pio now being in solidarity with Jesus on the Cross even as Jesus is in solidarity with us, loving us while we are yet sinners, drawing all to Himself as He is lifted up on the Cross. And we watch with Him…] I feel in the depths of my soul a wound that is always open and which causes me continual agony. What can I tell you in answer to your questions regarding my crucifixion? My God! What embarrassment and humiliation I suffer by being obliged to explain what you have done to this wretched creature! [For we do nothing to save ourselves. Jesus is our Savior. We come to realize this. We are nothing. He is all. He shows us what He has saved us from, and not just us, me, but we see how He has saved all of us as we gain some heightened perspective on the cross.]

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“On the morning of the 20th of last month [two weeks later], in the choir [making the traditional thanksgiving prayers after Mass], after I had celebrated Mass I yielded to a drowsiness similar to a sweet sleep. All the internal and external senses and even the very faculties of my soul were immersed in indescribable stillness. Absolute silence surrounded and invaded me. I was suddenly filled with great peace and abandonment which effaced everything else and caused a lull in the turmoil. All this happened in a flash. While this was taking place I saw before me a mysterious person similar to the one I had seen on the evening of August 5th. [We entertain angels and even the Son of Man and do not know it. How much the angels reflect the Son of Man! And the fiery love of God, issuing from the throne of the Most High, from the Heart of Him who loves us so much, is just that fierce on that sword which transforms us utterly in God’s love.] The only difference was that his hands and feet and side were dripping blood. This sight terrified me and what I felt at that moment is indescribable. I thought I should die and really should have died if the Lord had not intervened and strengthened my heart which was about to burst out of my chest. [We are utterly weak. It is all Jesus.] The vision disappeared and I became aware that my hands, feet and side were dripping blood. Imagine the agony I experienced and continue to experience almost every day. [He speaks also and especially of his embarrassment, for he, as all of us from Adam until the last man is conceived, caused those wounds in our Lord. How is it that he, Pio, or any of us could share such wounds of love for all those Jesus has redeemed and wills to save?] The heart wound bleeds continually, especially from Thursday evening until Saturday.

PADRE PIO SEAL OF CONFESSION

Padre Pio reprimanding the Bishop about the Seal of Confession.

“Dear Father, I am dying of pain because of the wounds and the resulting embarrassment I feel deep in my soul. I am afraid I shall bleed to death if the Lord does not hear my heartfelt supplication to relieve me of this condition. Will Jesus, who is so good, grant me this grace? Will he at least free me from the embarrassment caused by these outward signs? [The embarrassment, mind you, is more than enough to end his life on this earth.] I will raise my voice and will not stop imploring him until in his mercy he takes away, not the wound or the pain, which is impossible since I wish to be inebriated with pain, but these outward signs which cause me such embarrassment and unbearable humiliation. The person of whom I spoke in a previous letter is none other than the one I mentioned having seen on August 5th. He continues his work incessantly, causing me extreme spiritual agony. There is a continual rumbling within me like the gushing of blood. [This Hebrew description of this sword in Genesis 3:24 (which I think I am the very first to translate pedantically, as it really is just that difficult), the sword which the angel is mashing around inside Pio is variously and wrongly translated as the twirling sword, the sword which moves about this way and that, etc., is, instead, “the sword which causes that which is presented to it to be transformed into its contrary.” Thus, we don’t take from the Tree of the Living Ones, though we can humbly receive its fruit (the Eucharist from the Cross).] My God! Your punishment is just and your judgment right, but grant me your mercy. Lord, with your Prophet I shall continue to repeat: O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger; do not punish me in your rage! Dear Father, now that my whole interior state is known to you, do not refuse to send me a word of comfort in the midst of such severe and harsh suffering.” [If it were I who had to respond to him, knowing I know nothing, but despite that, I would say that in our very reception of mercy we must show mercy to the rest of the members of the Body of Christ, those whom Jesus has redeemed and wills to save. Our suffering is occasioned by the lack of others, lack of faith, etc., but it is not their cross we carry, but instead we come to know what we would be like if we ourselves were to be without the grace of our Lord in therefore our lack of faith, etc…. and our remaining in friendship by the grace of God in such horrific circumstances acts as an intercession for those who are truly without faith, etc. This is drawing all to Christ on the cross in solidarity with Jesus, who does this by His grace. He, the Head of the Body does this, but we are members of that Body and we are with Him. If we only knew! If we only knew! Now Pio had his eyes opened, his soul torn open, his hands and feet and heart torn open. But it’s all Jesus. Jesus’ love taking on our lack. Embarrassing to us? Yes. And we run away. Pio couldn’t run any more. The angel presented himself, and, fiercely raising his weapon of God’s love… I know nothing. Saint Pio: help this donkey-priest to come to know Jesus! Help all of us priests!]

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Filed under Confession, Missionaries of Mercy, Priesthood, Saints, Spiritual life, Vocations

Call 911! Simultaneous church incidents. Confessing situational UN-awareness.

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We had some sort of emergency in the far back corner of Holy Redeemer Church this past Sunday, September 8, at the end of the offertory of the 11:00 AM Mass. Our entire church can fit into most sanctuaries of most churches, so, the far back corner of the church is, like, merely 25 feet away from the altar.

Someone cried out: “Call 911!” And the chorus of “Call 911!” multiplied in seconds. But there was no noisy commotion. No one said what the emergency was in those first seconds. I hiked it down from the altar to the back of the church in those few seconds. Pastor is as pastor does, right? As I then found out, it was a medical emergency for one of our ushers. In mere seconds, I gave an emergency anointing of the sick to the usher even before they were able to lay him down on the floor. EMS arrived minutes later and our usher is just fine now.

Since our faith family is small, we’re pretty tightly knit, so you can imagine our hearts were entirely in solidarity with our usher. You might say that we were distracted, that anyone bothering to have any situational awareness could now relax as it’s surely impossible that any other critical incident indicators that might present themselves cannot happen, because, you know, emergencies rarely happen, and un-associated and entirely diverse critical incidents never happen at the same time. So, go ahead, let your guard down, right? Wrong.

We immediately continued Mass starting with the Preface. “The Lord be with you!” “And with your spirit!” came the strikingly strong response. I can’t imagine that anyone would or, humanly speaking, could complain about these few seconds given over for the anointing, either time-wise or appropriateness-wise. So, no big deal, right? But something else happened in those few seconds in back of the church which should have had me run after someone so as to get a licence plate without him realizing it, you know, right after that anointing. That would have been logistically pretty easy in our circumstances. But I didn’t do it. Stupid me. Let’s review.

We had an unusually high number of visitors throughout the church. The emergency and the calls to call 911 were happening right in back of a certain visitor, who, unlike the others, did not come with a family. Never seen him before. He was alone [… description removed…]. By the time I got next to that certain visitor who was sitting at the end of the pew in the side aisle in that back corner of the church, with me just about to reach over others to anoint our usher, the visitor guy came out of the end of the pew and simply pushed me into those holding up the usher, that is, out of his own way. The visitor guy then bolted to the front-side door of the church and made good his escape. “Escape…”

The push wasn’t anything violent, but it was forceful enough to get the job done (I’m a pretty big guy), forceful enough that I had to turn to look at him while he bolted out. It was all too surreal. I was instantly all questions about who he was and what he was up to. I watched him until he went out the door next to the sanctuary in, say, four seconds. Whatever about him, I then turned my attention over to the usher so as to get him anointed.

Many are able to keep a sense of situational awareness for a singular critical incident that may take place at any given time, but it is not so easy to be entirely in the midst of one incident while another, entirely un-associated and entirely diverse and utterly unexpected critical incident begins at the same time in the same place. That’s what was happening here. This was an excellent experience easily able to demonstrate lack of readiness. Humility is always needed. To be noted:

  • The visitor was visibly shaken when the calls to call 911 rang out right behind him. A description of his fear from someone who, having turned around in the pew directly in front of him, looking him square in the face, was that he was all worked up in fear, something you can’t do instantaneously. Shock is one thing, freezing up. But being worked up in fear is another thing altogether. This was a fear he was already in the midst of, during which the calls to call 911 took him by surprise. He did NOT turn to see what was happening right in back of him in those first seconds when it was not being said if this was a medical emergency or a law enforcement emergency of some kind. Everyone else turned to see what was happening. That he didn’t turn to see what was going on right behind him is quite impossible. Was it that any medical emergency was insignificant compared to what he himself was about to cause? Did he feel caught out in some way, that someone recognized him?

Recall the discovery of “White Hat”, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the two terrorist bombers of the Boston Marathon, now locked up in the ultra-super-max ADX facility in Florence, Colorado. He was the only one who did NOT look at the explosion as it took place on Boylston Street near the finish line of the race. He is the only one who looked away from the explosion, and then made good his escape:

I have the link of that video set to 49:36. Watch until 50:35, just under a minute. This is a lesson in catching out a bad actor. Note how the terrorist guy doesn’t look, but looks away. This is important. Also:

  • The visitor guy quietly said something with quiet deliberate determination as a proclamation to himself, to God, to neighbor, though as a kind of soliloquy:

“No! – I can’t do this! – I have to leave!”

This was not a frantic, panic attack statement, nor a statement issuing from PTSD. It was all quite deliberate, even ever so slightly tinged with anger, but not at any of us, but rather with himself, disappointed, it seems, perhaps, that he had actually decided to do something horrific, but was just now changing his mind. He wasn’t at all in panic-like fear. Nor was he suffering from wartime violent sensory overload and couldn’t bear to see anything anymore even in the form of a non-violent medical emergency. He didn’t know if it was a medical emergency or he was being called out. If he was a bad actor and was just now changing his mind to not do the unthinkable, a medical emergency and calls to 911 would act as a preview of what he himself was about to bring about. He couldn’t take it.

(1) “No!” — This is an answer, voiced for himself to hear physically, regarding an internal agonizing dialogue that he had been having, much longer than just a few seconds.

(2) “I can’t do this!” — The reasoned conclusion isn’t about someone deciding to get over agoraphobia and feeling like a failure, so that he had heroically decided to be in a place as public as a church but was failing in the attempt. No. For all his fear, his words were way too deliberate to be issuing from panic. The reference of “this” is not a reference to a PTSD episode. Again, note that the statement was reasoned and deliberate. He was thinking about doing some thing, not thinking about suffering some episode. He’s entrenching his “No!”

(3) “I have to leave!” — He was a heap of chaotic emotions. IF he was a bad actor – and I’m not saying that he was (I’m just using this as a lesson in situational awareness) – but if he was a bad actor and had repented on the spot, he would want to get himself the heck out of there lest he change his mind. And the dichotomy between what he was seeing in the calm worshiping and his would-be senseless violence was too much to handle in front of others. He needed to be alone to sort things out. Such on the spot repentance is one of the best things I’ve ever seen. Good for him. He did it. He did the right thing. This was grace at work. The Holy Spirit working on him. His conscience getting to him. Great!

If that guy is reading this, and I’m wrong about all this, please, accept my apologies. It’s just that this makes for a good lesson in situational awareness. If you’re a good actor, you’ll understand that we can’t be too careful in these weird days of waaaay toooo many critical incidents, and that we have to learn from out-of-the-ordinary behaviors. It’s not you I’m judging. I’m just wondering about the ensemble of indicators. That’s all.

If that guy is reading this, and I’m right about all this, please, know that God loves you and wants you in heaven for ever. Yep. God’s love is more powerful than anything we could ever come up with. He wants us back. Always. If you’re Catholic, Go to Confession! Taking your own life is not allowed. You are not beyond redemption, not beyond salvation. God loves you. We love you. God’s love is more powerful. Don’t hate yourself. Just receive our Lord’s forgiveness. I, for one, would give you a do-able penance for sure. And the secret of any Confession is absolute. This is what we have to be about in this world, helping each other to get to heaven. We can be thankful to the Lord together, for Jesus’ mercy endures forever. Amen.

The time that the visitor guy was noticed in particular and until he left the church was, like, eight seconds. These things take place very quickly.

If there was a scary part, it was that he hesitated, wavered for just a split second before exiting out the side door, like he had to make one final decision not to do something.

Finally: Thanks go to guardian angels.

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Filed under Confession, Intelligence Community, Law enforcement, Missionaries of Mercy, Situational awareness, Terrorism

On irreversibly changing the Church

PROMETHEUS

It takes a Prometheanesque power-hungery self-referential arrogant self-congratulator to proclaim that he is irreversibly changing the Church forever. And yet, this is a favorite proclamation of the in-crowd to make. They are the ones. They are the only ones. In their own eyes. How many Cardinals and Bishops and hipster Clergy repeat this self-congratulation.

Such people have no time for Christ Jesus as they refuse to recognize that the Son of the Living God is the very Creator of time, holding all of time in His hands. They are, instead, progressive, never ancient, only new.

But the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception is the One who is, who was, and who is to come. In Icons of Jesus one often sees the three letters of the sentence inside the halo that read: The One Who Is, that is, all the time and in eternity.

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Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever, ever ancient and ever new, because He is the One who is life, who is love, who is truth. The Church is the Body of Christ with Jesus as the Head and we the members. Irreversibly change the Body of Christ? Who do these anti-Christians, these atheists think they are?

And if you want to walk into the future accompanying each other without Jesus, know what that future has in store for you: Jesus, King of kings, Lord of lords, Prince of the Most Profound Peace, will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Those who have denied Him will be denied by Him before our Heavenly Father.

Also, if you want scriptural accompaniment, lets see what happened in the Old Testament for misdeeds so as to smack people down to be introduced to the seriousness of original sin and personal sin so that they would understand what it means when the Messiah stands in our place, the Innocent for the guilty, so as to have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us. He was tortured to death. In the Old Testament, people were continuously accompanied with getting stoned to death, with being beheaded, with being enslaved and forced into dispersion and exile. We have to shaken up so as to see that we have a serious situation here. We have to understand this so as to take in what is happening with the wounds borne by the Son of the Living God.

I’ve always told my seminarians and my fellow priests and my parishes that there is a simple discernment one can make of any commentary of any theology, philosophy, psychology, economic system, whatever… and it is this: Does whatever it is help one or forbid one from coming to be in humble thanksgiving and reverence and friendship with the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception?

If the commentary is that one must wait millions of years for humanity to vicariously come to closer to the cosmic Christ, a vacuous imagination of ours placed somewhere in the coldest and darkest and impersonal regions of outerspace, then it is wrong.

If the commentary is that one must wait until dialectical materialism kills everyone in order to see goodness and kindness and honesty and integrity, then it is wrong.

If the commentary is that we cannot ever legitimately be in the good graces of Jesus, then it is wrong.

Those who parade themselves as more powerful than Jesus, more powerful than God, who think that walking together apart from Jesus is somehow going out into the peripheries are sadly mistaken. It is that type of condescending arrogance, that kind of dialectical materialism which threw people into the peripheries to begin with. Those thrown into the peripheries by the Prometheans suffer there, with Christ, who is also thrown unto the trash heap. Evangelizing the peripheries?

Those who walk together without Jesus – casting Jesus aside – are walking straight into hell. How dare they think they can cast aside God Himself, saying that His love and forgiveness and His insistence on us following the commandments in love are all bogus, a joke, to be ignored by those who are are wise and clever. I’ll leave them to it.

Much better to have Mary’s good Son revealed to us by our Heavenly Father. Much better to be as little children who are eager and prompt in obedience in all love to follow the commandments, doing the one thing necessary in being forgiven of any sin. Much better to have a future eternity in heaven by being in the state of that sanctifying grace which, as Saint Paul says will turn to glory in heaven. Love endures forever. Much better to be in that love immediately rather than going on and on and on in some blasphemous “accompaniment.”

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Penance for Sacramental Confession

A lady was recounting to her friend the penance she received in Confession, very happy that it was almost completed.

“Father […] gave me a Decade of the Rosary.”

Then she added:

“It’s great, because I have only one year to go!”

Hahaha.

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Gunslingery and Confession: perishable skills

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I’ve done about zilch target practice on the days off these past weeks what with not feeling well. Although going to the hermitage “range” and getting all set up, I just had no energy to pull the trigger. So, no. For me, that‘s feeling under the weather. I try not to let anything stop me from anything. Gunslinggery is a perishable skill and has to be kept up with. But, no. So, any skill sets have faded.

The last time I seriously threw out some bullets, say, a month ago, I had practiced what’s also called “the failure drill” of two to the body one to the head out 21 feet with a 6″x10″ “body” and 2″x4″ “head.” The anomalous best I had gotten down to 1.1 seconds from the holster, but maybe not accurate (I hadn’t kept up with marking the target). Anomalous means nothing to do with reality, btw.

This time, catching up again – and not yet fully recovered from feeling terribly under the weather which was already bad – I got 1.86 seconds with accuracy, twice, from the holster. But even those times are anomalous, as it’s usually a bit slower than that, in the 2.25″ range. Anywhere under 2 seconds is almost guaranteed to be faster than any urgent mortal threat being carried out as criminals usually aren’t so well practiced.

As someone said, if you want to know where you’re really at, do it ten times in a row all under time with a hundred percent accuracy each time. So, not in this life for me I don’t think. I’ve never done anything like that, at least so far. At least I had a couple of good 1.86 times. Our special operators and agents must do it 100% of the time.

But I did get a 96% (one bullet slightly stray of my reduced tiny targets) on the pre-2001 Federal Air Marshal Course. But I was  also DQ’d for all that by edging over-time on a stage or two of that seven stage course. And it wasn’t cold barrel. I was happy to be back again.


Confession: If you’ve been away from Confession for a while, you know that that’s also a perishable skill.

A person who goes to Confession frequently can develop an accurate, informed conscience that is devoid of scrupulosity but which takes care to avoid sin. Such as person more easily sees sin for what it is in all its ugly, selfish, arrogant, entitled reality because of being good friends with the Standard of Goodness and Kindness and Truth, Jesus Himself.

A person who doesn’t go to Confession, who’s been away for a long time, tends to think that they have no sin, that they are good people, that they don’t need any mercy, any forgiveness, that they are just fine with the type of life they have chosen, congratulating themselves that what they do “makes up for” not being good with God in the way Jesus indicated to the Apostles of His own Church, because, you know, they are good with God because they think that they do nice stuff, reciting that nice stuff for all to hear. But not everyone who says, “Lord! Lord!” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. People can be hypocrites.

It’s true that some who go to Confession do so for hypocritical reasons, as if this chance to be forgiven gives them a right to sin, but this is a sin against the Holy Spirit. It is a sin of despair. It says that one doesn’t want to be forgiven.

To get back to the practice of Confession, to pick up off the charts skill sets once again, one need only… go to Confession. Just do it. It brings great happiness. It lifts burdens. It is beautiful to say sorry to Jesus through the Church, the Body of Christ in the way Jesus had this done, being forgiven by God and neighbor – via the priest ordained for this purpose – simultaneously.

And then one has the peace of being in humble thanksgiving before the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, whereby one’s life is once again on target with all God-speed, aimed at heaven.


And if anyone thinks that this is an inappropriate analogy, just remember that Jesus Himself said that those who go to heaven are those who take heaven by force, by violence.

That violence, by God’s grace, is being crucified to the world, the flesh and the devil so as to live for Jesus, for goodness and kindness and truth, that is, by Jesus’ goodness and kindness and truth. It’s all Jesus. He’s the One. He’s the only One.


If you carry, practice often. Be frosty. Be edgy. Know how to deescalate situations. Know how to avoid situations.

Go to Confession regularly. This isn’t about us being merely exteriorly good as if that were something God appreciates. No. Saul kept the law exteriorly but interiorly carried hatred. Saint Paul, instead, was brought to understand that this was all a loss compared to keeping the law because one carries God’s love. That love, God’s love, only comes from God. That’s the renewal of sanctifying grace we receive with the absolution.

After Confession one isn’t to congratulate oneself for being good (which only sets one up for a fall, trusting in one’s strength one doesn’t have of oneself), but one is instead to be in humble thanksgiving before Jesus, walking with Jesus, rejoicing to walk with Jesus.

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Filed under Confession, Day Off, Guns, Missionaries of Mercy

Ars-sur-Formans “Not this year”

There’s been a monkey on my back since last year, 2018, when – out of the blue – I was contacted by Father Patrice Chocholski, Rector of the Shrine of Saint Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney in Ars-sur-Formans. As you know, his famed predecessor is the patron saint of priests, the Curé d’Ars, as far as I know, the only canonized priest who lived and died as a diocesan priest (though even he was also a T.O.S.F.). Sanctity is not easy for mere diocesan parish priests!

Father Chocholski was after me because Pope Francis has instituted me a Missionary of Mercy, and therefore as someone who is given to hearing confessions as much as this is possible. That’s what Father Chocholski needed: confessors! Saint John Vianney spent his life as a priest in the confessional. When people visit the Shrine in Ars they want to go to confession. This isn’t easy throughout the rest of France as there are so few priests, and so few among them hearing confessions. Two to three churches every day are attacked in France. No one speaks of this. The situation is dire.

Having put this to my ecclesiastical superiors, I awaited a decision, and waited, until just the other day. I pushed for an answer given that I would need to start on a religious worker visa, given that airline tickets would soon skyrocket in price for the Summer. A replacement for me in the parish here was sought, but as time went on it didn’t look good. In fact, just these past couple of weeks told the story, with various religious communities leaving parishes. This left the diocese stretched for resources. In the face of this the answer was given: “Not this year.”

So, what that means is, “Yes, this year, Andrews will be my Ars.” A profound feeling of being at home came over me.

All the same, at this late stage, I hope Father Chocholski might be able to find an English speaking confessor for the Shrine in Ars… Hail Mary…

Meanwhile, the renovation of the confessional is making good progress in the parish here. More on that later.

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Renovating Confessional encouraging Confessions

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An entirely appropriate Confessional, sure ’nuff (in the midst of Holy Week for those pictures, by the way). But, it could be better. Having discussed this with our Vicar Forane, and encouraged by him, I barely started to mention a renovation to some parishioners and they were all for it, only wanting to know more of the logistics. Lots of talent in the parish. It went to the Finance Council and everyone liked the idea in that august body as well. So, we got started:

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It’s advanced in the last days to be able to hear Confessions. Lots of Confessions! But it’s all a work in progress with lighting, with appropriate artwork, such as crucifixes on both sides, such as a framed “Act of Contrition”, two of them actually, in English and Spanish, to be placed on the left and right sides of the “Grill”. The “Grill” will get an added thin veil as well over the metal.

Flooring will have to wait for this next week when we start in on the church floor, which is a huge project what with moving all the pews and such. But, we forge ahead.

Religion is a virtue of justice. Religion is not a bad thing. The hatred of religion by, you know, “spiritual” people, is an attitude brought about by hopefully non-culpable ignorance. Religion is about rendering to God that which is His due in all justice. Only Jesus could do this, being obedient to the Father by walking among us and showing us the truth and love of God, which we hated unto death thinking that we are being incriminated by all this goodness. Having stood in our place, taking on the death we deserve because of sin, the Innocent for the guilty, Jesus had the right and has the right in His own justice to now command the Father on our behalf: “Father! Forgive them!”

Jesus has the right to take our sins. He has the right to forgive us. How dare we hold back and not give Him our sins for forgiveness and with us having all purpose of amendment so that we might walk in His friendship.

Go to Confession!

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Banging on the window at 1:38 AM like a thief in the night

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This happened a couple of days ago. The first reaction in the pitch dark was to grab the Glock 19 loaded up and chambered with HST defensive rounds (which protect any by-standers, as these stop in the threat instead of passing through, better helping to stop the threat). The second reaction was to check the time. Just a habit I’m in for stuff like this.

The first question that came to mind regarded the motivation of the guy banging on the window: Didn’t he see that “24 HR. VIDEO SURVEILLANCE” sticker all in capital letters right where he was banging on the window? So is this just someone in distress? So, why don’t they say anything, like, out loud?

The first action that was accomplished was not to peak out the blinds to see who was there and what was going on, but was instead to go to the back door to see if there was also someone there, so that the banging on the window out front was a diversion to enable a home-invasion from out back. Sorry, I’m bad and evil and totally think like a criminal. I know something of what Jesus saved me from. No one was out back. There are, after all, two dog-houses! When I did look out front no one was there either.

After Mass last night I mentioned this to a neighbor, and he said that at almost exactly the same time someone was banging on his door. He, being trusting, unlike me, simply opened the door right up. I told him to never do that. He’s got a wife and kids. If whoever it is insists, just call 911, being ready to fend off a home invasion. Anyway, the door was open, and the heavy stench of drugs immediately wafted into his house. The guy was asking for a ride over to his girl friend’s house and other like idiocies. No.

And then, some minutes later at the grocery store after Mass last night, another parishioner told me of other parishioners who were away for a while, only to return to find their house having been invaded and trashed by squatters.

Meanwhile, Shadow-dog and Laudie-dog were calm and cool through the incident. I went back to sleep. This could have turned out differently for any number of reasons. Say the guy was agitated by the drugs and terribly insisted, breaking windows, breaking in…

Anything can happen anytime, anywhere. And it can be fatal. For us. Are we ready?

Are we ready for Jesus to arrive like a thief in the night? The reaction better not be to get a Glock, but rather to fall on our knees. Are we ready to go with Jesus, to be on our way to heaven? At any moment? When least expected? Be ready! Be eager!

“Bless me, Father…”

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Our perception of time is surreal until

salvador dali persistence of time

Salvador Dali calls this The Persistence of Time. That’s our fallen human perspective of reality for sure. Surreal.

Meanwhile, time is drawn into one hour upon the Cross where we find the very Creator of time, time being drawn together in our redemption, He drawing all to Himself right through that hell of Calvary.

This is where we find the mercy of forgiveness, mercy being a dirty word for many these days, you know, for those who have no need of mercy whatsoever, so self-righteous are they.

But it is good to rejoice in mercy in humble thanksgiving, which becomes the engine of any firm purpose of amendment. This is most beautiful in contrast to the arrogance of self-righteousness to which so many run ever so breathlessly, congratulating themselves.

Confession!

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Don’t pick those yet! edition)

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If you look carefully, these “buds” are full of ants (even a ladybug). If you were to pick these at this point, shake the beasts off, and put them in water, they would never open up. No blossoms. The reason is that some cooperation is necessary from the beasts to munch on the outside.

The analogy suggested, of course, regards priests being ants… When’s the last time you’ve been to Confession? Mary would just bring us to her Son, who, having dealt with us, would then give us back to His good mom. ;-)

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“Don’t mess with mother” – analogy

Sorry, I couldn’t help but make the analogy…

pieta

Of course, Mary’s ferocity is to get us to go to Confession and go to heaven.

Anecdote time – and this does NOT break the Seal of Confession!

When I was a permanent chaplain in Lourdes and hearing zillions of Confessions of the 12,000,000 pilgrims that 150th anniversary jubilee year in the “Confessions Chapel,” the last penitent left the confessional leaving the door open. Another pilgrim appeared and, before coming in, declared before God and everyone else in ear shot (really a lot of people as it was jammed) that he didn’t know what he was doing there, that he didn’t want to be there, that he hated this, but it was just that after some moments in the grotto he felt compelled to come into the Confessions Chapel, and there he was, hating the whole thing, surely with his guardian angel smacking him down hard. And then he came in, closed the door, and…

That’s how our Lady works. Don’t mess with Jesus’ good mom. She’ll get you every time.

P.S. I have not ever, not now, nor will I ever, as far as I know, ever own an iPhone.

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Filed under Confession, Lourdes, Mary, Missionaries of Mercy, Nature

Running over others on purpose

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This is the third maxed out size wise momma snapper turtle that I’ve seen in the last couple of weeks looking to find a place to lay her eggs crossing the road and ending up getting run over on purpose. I say that because people would have had to swerve to have their tires hit the ones I saw. And I did see one crossing the road in the middle of a lane and the knucklehead did just that, swerved so as to hit it with a tire. I hate that.

This ol’ gal didn’t look too badly damaged. I figured with a little help she could at least crawl to a place to lay her eggs and then die of an infection some weeks later. I stopped, as did a number of other vehicles on the side of the road, and we all got her safely into the ditch and crawling away. Huge turtle.

I’ve seen the same thing with Mountain rattlers, with the knuckleheads first running the snake over, then stopping and cutting the head and the rattler off. People can be so mean.

Stats have it that people who are mean to animals like this do exactly the same thing to the human beings around them, hitting them, smacking them down, yes, running them over on purpose. And they don’t have to start with animals, just go right to being violent with human beings.

Oh. I forgot. I was so busy being sanctimonious that I didn’t want to notice that my sins did that to Jesus. Sorry, dear Lord.

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“This is such a beautiful church!”

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That comment is to be heard frequently. I don’t know what people are expecting. Perhaps some unkempt nightmare? No. Not here. Parishioners love their little church and take care of it. In fact, we’re going to so some major (for us) renovations:

  • First off is the confessional. There will be no more possibility of face to face, with two windowed doors to two separate tiny rooms, the penitent side with a chair for the elderly and, of course, a kneeler. There will be a screen.
  • The entire floor will be redone.
  • All pews will be reupholstered.
  • There are plans to put in a marble altar, forcing the sanctuary to be redone, I’m thinking with an altar rail.

Meanwhile, other fixes are in the process, with windowed doors now going into the office area (I meet with people in other heavily windowed areas at the moment).

All is as it should be as we become ever closer friends with Jesus. The driving engine of all this in a time of crisis mind you, is the time we have for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The heaviest times for Confession are during Adoration and before the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Ah… That’s what’s being referred to! The souls of those who are drawn near to Jesus, those who make up the living Church. Yes, this is such a beautiful Church!

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REVIEW: My penance when I confessed today. Yep. That would be right.

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved…
From the desire of being extolled …
From the desire of being honored …
From the desire of being praised …
From the desire of being preferred to others…
From the desire of being consulted …
From the desire of being approved …
From the fear of being humiliated …
From the fear of being despised…
From the fear of suffering rebukes …
From the fear of being calumniated …
From the fear of being forgotten …
From the fear of being ridiculed …
From the fear of being wronged …
From the fear of being suspected …

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I …
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease …
That others may be chosen and I set aside …
That others may be praised and I unnoticed …
That others may be preferred to me in everything…
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…

/// Because Jesus, You are my All.

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1/3 kids in ER assessed as suicide risks: loss of identity, self-esteem because…

calvin and hobbes puddle reflection

  • The stats are stunning, with 1/3 of kids admitted to Emergency Rooms being assessed as suicide risks.
  • The stats are stunning, with that suicide risk stat being in direct correlation with the rise of kids with smart phones using social media.

Kids can be horrific bullies. Kids can be ultra-conformist. If insulted, it’s pretty much 100% certain that kids will take the insult to heart, including the bullies, who are, by the way, the most cowardly, the most projecting of themselves upon others: it’s not them with issues; it’s others! Kids without an identity apart from manipulated reactions to social media use are thus brought to the lowest common denominator of death. If you thought such drama to be limited to those we wrongly call “adults”, you’re wrong; it’s a power thing, even with kids.

Generally speaking, kids don’t have the emotional wherewithal to withstand this kind of assault, or the ability to assault from behind a little screen without having to answer to people right in front of you. That’s why we call young people minors, giving them a different status, limiting their participation in society in all sorts of ways and on all sorts of levels – or at least we used to do that.

But with smart phones, all bets are off. The put-downs, insults, threats and extortion, the sexting, the manipulation, the marginalization… it’s all there, just like with adults. We’re all subject to the weakness of original sin, but kids are less apt to be confronting the world with a full sense of identity and therefore reason and balance.

So, what’s the solution? Merely take away or limit use of smart phones? That’s part of it. The real underlying cause, however, is a lack of identity. Social media has become the identity of kids. But why?

People are seeking self-esteem in the face of a fallen human nature that is so easily manipulated particularly when we have no sense of identity, no base, no foundation, as it were, from which to interact with the world. And people fall, and as they fall, they are smashed down and mocked all the more by those who are just like them, only worse in bullying and cowardice. Seeking self-esteem, they make the absurd claim for themselves that what they do in leveling ranker and insults at others, in hurting themselves with immoral behaviors as manipulated by others, is to do the right thing, because everyone is that way, because in that way they are getting for themselves an identity, however cruel, however much this beats oneself up. “I’m me!” they cry in their self-provided self-esteem, beating themselves up, beating others up. And now they’re adults, they think, being able, however, not to act from any real identity, but in being all the more cruel with those with whom one has chosen to give one’s life in being in mere reaction to them, still defining one’s identity by way of reaction to another. How very mature!

So, again, what’s the solution to a lack of identity, to a lack of self-esteem? Religion.

There’s a politically incorrect answer: religion, which, as a virtue of justice, renders to God that which is due to God, our Creator. God expects us to use our free will to be His good creatures. To use our free will we have to have a base, a foundation of identity from which to act, and this is uncomfortable as people are used to having no identity, to being in mere reaction to others. We don’t like this because we are immediately confronted with the fact that in our weak human nature after original sin we have no way to establish an identity from which to act. For fallen creatures to all of a sudden be good creatures – still in all our weakness in this world – we need the intervention of our Creator, His forgiveness, and the wherewithal – in a bond of friendship, of humble thanksgiving with Him – to have an identity once again, a real identity, that of a creature walking in the presence of his Creator.

Religion: God so loved the world that He sent His only Son to stand in our place, the Innocent for the guilty, so that He might have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us, to re-establish us before Himself, thankful to Him for giving us our identity which we threw away with original sin and whatever of our own. Jesus rendered to His Father, on our behalf, that which God the Father is due. Jesus is religion Incarnate. That’s religion. That’s all it is. Nothing scary. It’s all Jesus. We have our identity in Jesus.

Self-esteem is no longer sought in reaction to others, which is entirely contrary to self-esteem, making oneself lose one’s self-esteem. Self-esteem in Jesus is now provided by Jesus forgiving us and establishing a friendship with us. He says: “I call you friends.”

We get self-esteem by going to Confession and being brought into this friendship with Jesus. Jesus Himself wanted it done this way. Sin offends both God and neighbor, no matter what, no matter how private – even the “privacy” of hiding behind a screen in social-media. Being reconciled isn’t just a matter of saying, “Sorry, God!” Jesus wants us to be reconciled with Himself and all of us. Saint Paul speaks of this as Jesus being the Head of the Body and we the members of the Body. The priest represents all the other members of the Mystical Body of Christ. When the priest gives absolution of sin in the first person singular – “I absolve you…” – it is Christ Jesus who is speaking, and we are reconciled to both Jesus and our neighbor.

Mind you, the guilt of sin being put aside, while that is a great thing, is only the tiniest part of the story in obtaining self-esteem and identity. The absolution brings about forgiveness by way of flooding the soul with sanctifying grace, with the friendship of Jesus.

Self-esteem? “Jesus, God, loves me!” “Jesus, God, loves us!”

Identity? “I am found by Jesus to be one in friendship with Him. He gives me the base, the foundation, to have an identity in Him. In His friendship I need not give in to the temptation to be in mere reaction to others, to the temptation to be down to the lowest common denominator of death. In Jesus, in His friendship, I can even do something good for others, helping to introduce them all the more to the liberty of wholesomeness, of integrity, of honesty, of goodness and kindness, of friendship with Christ Jesus, who will come to the judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Amen. Maranatha! Come once again to us, Lord Jesus!”

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That’s a bit counter-intuitive, isn’t it? Get self-esteem by confessing one’s sins? Yep. I love it. Christianity is full of irony, the wit and wisdom of Jesus. He loves us. Truly.

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Missionary of Mercy in 2019 rants on hateful pundits who condemn mercy

missionaries of mercy 2019 letter

Yes, I’m still a Missionary of Mercy. Yes, I still have special faculties that encourage especially priests to go to Confession with rather difficult sins. I think it’s a good idea. It’s done for the good for the Church. I thank Pope Francis for it.

Hateful pundits speak of statistics of Confessions of priests who have had the special faculties for absolution from the Missionaries of Mercy applied to them, saying that it’s all useless since these faculties are never used anyway. How do they know? Seriously. Do they have Satanic gnostic witchcraft seances, looking into crystal balls? Seriously.  There is something called the Seal of Confession. I, for one, take it seriously.

That there are haters is to be expected, but – oh my – look at the multitudes of gullible people who follow them. What the haters want is that no one but no one goes to Confession. I’ve heard the haters say that all Missionaries of Mercy are not priests. Really? The haters will have to answer for their statements stopping people from going to Confession. If the haters want justice and no mercy, they might well be on their way to getting what they want. That’s just too sad. I’ll happily grant them absolution if they properly desire it. Firm purpose of amendment is required, even for the haters.

For myself, I have not committed any sins against the doctrine or morality of the Church by utilizing these special faculties of the Missionaries of Mercy. I’ve not gone against justice, or anything that is good and holy with the special faculties the Holy Father has granted to me. And I don’t know of any Missionary of Mercy who has done such a thing.

In fact, these faculties are provided with the proviso that nothing in the internal forum will have publicly knowable, practical effect in the external forum. There is to be no internal forum solutions for “marriages”, etc., etc., etc. The Missionaries of Mercy are not agents of Amoris laetitia, which is merely, in the words of Pope Francis in that very document, just a volley in dialogue.

But, I’m all ears. If anyone has cogent arguments as to why Missionaries of Mercy are not validly ordained priests, or that being a Missionary of Mercy risks eternal damnation for such priests, drop a comment in the comments box.

To the rest of those who desire the Mercy of the Lord Jesus in a validly provided absolution in the Sacrament of Confession, don’t worry about what the haters say. Just go to Confession, and go to heaven. We’ve got to make it to heaven!

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The one thing necessary, saying, “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned…

Jesus crucified passion of the christ

Did not Jesus redeem us all? Does He not want that we also be saved? Were we not all in the peripheries of left and right until we assented to allow ourselves to be drawn by Him to the Cross when He was lifted up to that great height? Can we do that if we pretend that we’ve never ever been on the peripheries, that He never had to forgive us, that we were always correct even as we crucified Him? That we were always expert in prayer and fasting and almsgiving?

What does a good son of the Church say? He says:

“Jesus have mercy on me, a sinner.”

And then a good son of the Church says:

“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. My last confession was […]. I accuse myself of the following sins: […].”

That’s what a good son of the Church says. Yep.

A good son of the Church never says: “I’m so holy! I’m without sin!”

“If we walk in the light as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin. If we say, ‘We are without sin,’ we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing. If we say, ‘We have not sinned,’ we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:7-10nab)

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Re-post for humility’s sake: “Saint and sinner: it’s both or neither one”

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Philomena with the anchor; Mary of Magdala with burial supplies

[[This was written in the days of “Holy Souls Hermitage.”]]

I just love that: the Virgin Martyr Philomena and the sainted penitent Mary of Magdala, together. This is the glory of the Church Militant, the Church Triumphant, and the aim of going through purgatory in this life instead of the next. Both knew themselves to be saints and sinners.

It’s not that Philomena didn’t know that she was totally weak and conceived in original sin, absolutely deserving of hell because of that. It’s because she knew that all so well, and was filled with such humble thanksgiving for Jesus, the greatest love of her life because of His grace, that she was able to persevere in being a martyr because of the virginity which she gave to Christ Jesus, knowing that He appreciates the utter agility of soul which goes along with this, one’s very life becoming an act of intercession for the entire Mystical Body of Christ. Having said that…

It’s not that Mary of Magdala wasn’t a saint, though knowing full well her “past history” not only of original sin, but she must have felt somehow besmirched by having been possessed by seven demons (though feelings don’t make you besmirched at all). It’s because she knew of her need all so well by the grace of Christ — the standard of goodness and kindness — that she was able not to look to herself and get depressed and despair, but was able to take up the invitation of the goodness and kindness of Jesus in order to be a great, great saint, for whose intercession we are all of us so very thankful, never forgetting, however, why she needed that invitation in the first place.

If one gluts oneself in sin, one no longer knows oneself to be a sinner. For the sinner, there seems to be no sin. For such a one, saintliness is out of the question. If you’re not a sinner, you can’t be a saint! That is to say…

If one easily, simply, fully accepts one’s weakness, that one would easily fall into sin (the possibility not being a sin) without the grace of Jesus, then one can know that one is invited by our Lord’s goodness and kindness to be a saint, that is, to be His good friend, as He called us in a creative act after the Resurrection.

So, saint and sinner: it’s either both or neither one. Confession brings all this home gloriously. When’s the last time you’ve been? It’s a great experience of our Lord’s goodness and kindness.

Just to be clear: When people say “I’m a sinner” and they are not, or “I am in the dark” but they are walking with our Lord, they are not calling virtue “sin”, but are merely saying that this is the way they would be if they were without Jesus’ grace, His goodness and kindness, His love and truth, His friendship, the indwelling of the Most Holy Trinity.

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Making an examination of conscience

lourdes confessional

For some, an examination of conscience refers to the idiocy of rationalizing all sin because we all know that actual sin, purposely done, cannot be forgiven (which is untrue).

Some tone that idiocy down a bit, fooling themselves into thinking they are sincere by way of mathematics, so that if they cut down on sin from one confession to the next it’s all good (which is untrue). We have to have a firm purpose of amendment. Otherwise we give ourselves a licence to sin.

Some tone that idiocy down a bit, citing statisticians who say that whatever it is that is on any list for an examination of conscience is “normal” behavior, and therefore is all good (but with a fallen human nature, this is no way to come up with a standard).

Some tone that idiocy down a bit by concentrating – oooh! – really intensely on various points that they are “working on” or “struggling with” so that they work themselves up into emotional anguish about that particular thing: “I was impatient.”

Here’s the problem with all that: All of that refers to self, how one perceives oneself; it’s all about pride, one’s pride being hurt by one’s sin. The anguish is all about one’s pride, about one’s self.

And that leads to a total misunderstanding of Confession: If I can only go to Confession, then I’ll be good again, and then, after Confession, God will love me again because I’ve made myself so lovable. How can He resist?! And then I can congratulate myself again because now it’s all good.

The dirty little secret is the pride of thinking that one is in control even of God’s love. How bad is that? And stupid? Illogical! God loves us while we are yet sinners: that’s how He can forgive us in the first place, right?

When we are forgiven in Confession, the point is not to congratulate ourselves, but rather, with the grace of forgiveness coming from God, now to continue with humble thanksgiving from the one Confession to the next.

But then one’s examination of conscience has to be change, so that one puts oneself in humility before God, recognizing that He has loved us so much as to stand in our place, the Innocent for the guilty, therefore having the right in His own justice to have mercy on us. Quietly before Him, humbly thanking Him for this redemption, for this invitation to salvation, with no fear of actually seeing real sin, that is, offending God’s love for us (forgetting about us offending our pride!),  it is then, with the Standard of Goodness and Kindness and Truth shining upon us that light will be cast on our sins and we will see ourselves for who we are with ourselves, with others, and before God. We will be sorry to God. That’s a huge difference. It can be the difference between heaven and hell.

But you have to know: Jesus loves us so very much.

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“When Hell freezes over…”

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  • In the summertime we hear: “It’s hot as hell!”
  • In the wintertime we hear: “It’s cold as hell!”

In all actuality, one or the other physical torment of hell would be a relief, a distraction from what hell is really all about, which is the intellectual frustration of pretending that one wants to be there, but not really, for all eternity, and which is the spiritual frustration of trying to escape God’s goodness and truth and love, to which the writhing worm that doesn’t die shrieks: “Noooooooooooooooooo!”

It’s better to just go to Confession. “Yeah! Sure! When hell freezes over!” Don’t think hell will be so easy as all that. No, no. Really, just go to Confession, and go to heaven.

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