Category Archives: Father Byers Autobiography

The day this priest was accused of pedophilia: Introibo ad altare Dei. Accused priests, pay attention!

Mass Lourdes Pius X Basilica

Yours truly offering a Solemn High Mass with well over 7000 present in the Underground Basilica of Saint Pius X on 15 August 2008. The deacon and subdeacon are of course, now ordained for the FSSP. The vestments may well have been from Pius IX. The Missal is from yet another FSSP friend. I’m not FSSP, but I was the official[!] “Latin Mass” permanent chaplain in Lourdes since immediately after the famous 7-7-2007 motu proprio of Benedict XVI.

Sometimes we would have Mass in Saint Joseph’s underground church, sometimes on the top floor of the confessional building, sometimes in the top floor of the medical building, sometimes in an under-the-church-chapel of the Basilica of Saint Bernadette, sometimes in either of the two chapels at the front of the upper Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, sometimes in the crypt Chapel, sometimes in the side chapels of the crypt chapel, sometimes in the side chapels of the Rosary Basilica, sometimes in the basement chapel of the Chaplains House, sometimes, finally, in the upper Basilica of the Immaculate Conception over the Grotto.

The accusation came after a most glorious Mass in the upper Basilica of our Lady on a Sunday morning at which there were quite a number of individual pilgrims, groups of pilgrims and, to the point, large families of pilgrims in the pews, you know, with moms and dads and boys and girls kneeling before the Holy Sacrifice. Absolutely beautiful. I was, of course, the luckiest priest in the entire world to have this privilege of bringing the Mass of Tradition, of the ages, back to Lourdes after many decades when it had been banned. The pilgrims loved it. Besides being the “Latin Mass” chaplain I had also been a permanent member of the Italian Language Chaplains Group, and of the English Language Chaplains Group, and of the French Language Chaplains Group. But I digress.

After Mass I made my way back over to the Chaplains House, brought my vestments and Missal and such back to my room on the top floor. I would watch the rivers of pilgrims, by the thousands, coming down the small mountain in back of the Chaplains House, coming off the last stretch of the “Upper Stations.” Finally I went down to the dining room for lunch. It was a perfect summer Sunday. Because of my unique position of having been with so many language groups depending on their needs I could decide at which table to sit. This day there were a few empty places at the English Language Chaplains Group table, so I headed there. You have to know that on any given day there may be present any number of bishops and cardinals and politicians and dignitaries in that dining room.

Present at “my” table was a “Temporary Chaplain” who was single-handedly throughout the decades responsible for the erosion of the prayerful atmosphere at Lourdes, responsible for the destruction of the “Youth Mass”. Needless to say, he hated the Mass of 1962, of the Ages, of Tradition, with great passion. His hatred was always a subject of discussion at table. Not able to forbid the Mass, his plan was to attack me. As soon as he saw me he shouted out for all the dining room guests to hear that I was pedophile. The room, of course, went silent. I asked, “Why do you say that?” He said, thankfully, just as loudly for all to hear, as this was his point in his war against the Traditional Mass:

“I say you are a pedophile because you say that damned Latin Mass and we’ve gone beyond that and you scandalize children who attend that Mass giving them the impression that that Mass is good when it’s not because it’s destroying their character; it’s destroying their ability to look forward, to the future. They’re vulnerable at that age and you’re taking advantage of them by saying that horrible Latin Mass. Pope Benedict should be deposed. Damn him.”

With appropriate stares burning through that “Temporary Chaplain” from all present, the hubbub of the meal immediately picked up again and again it was a beautiful Sunday. I brush that kind of thing off like I brush away a mosquito. It’s annoying for about one second, and then one forgets about it. Whatever. It’s better if you don’t let it draw blood, perhaps infecting you, lowering you to that level.

I remember telling that story in front of a priest who was quite the ecclesiastical climber. He heard the whole story, but all he wanted to hear is that I had “been accused” so that he could smack me down and play the hero. That’s so disgusting. He immediately had me reported to my superior, who, also hearing the entire story, immediately threw me in a dumpster. That was literally the only place in the world I was allowed to exist with a blessing. Yep. They all said that it didn’t sound like a credible accusation, but an accusation is an accusation. That was it. Period. It happens all the time.

Seeing these antics and their anguish and their abuse of office and their climbing up on the corpses of their brothers whom they kill at will, I actually laughed, brightly grinning, even while out of the blue I was threatened with a law suit should I ever repeat how I was being treated. Well, I didn’t use any identifying markers in the story, did I? No. Again, lol, still today. Sorry, but I can’t be hurt. Jesus died for me. So, it’s like… someone else can hurt me in some way? No. That would be laughable. It is laughable. Pfft.

Note to my fellow priests who have been accused, whether you’re innocent or guilty. Our Lord also died for you and brings you His sanctifying grace. And then, after that, ecclesiastical ladder climbing over your corpses doesn’t really matter does it? No. Keep the faith. Or regain the faith. This life is short. Heaven is around the corner, much sooner than later. Remember, it’s all about Jesus. He’s the One. He’s the only One. It’s not about climbers climbing the ladder on mountains of dead priests that they’ve killed. Instead, it’s about Jesus. Only Jesus. He’s the One. He’s the only One.

By the way, I’ve since been able to climb out of the dumpster. And if anyone thinks that a post like this is a scandal about the priesthood and vocations, I say that such a person is utterly ignorant of the way things are. Jesus had his Judas, did He not, telling us also the way things would be should he call someone to the priesthood? Yes. This kind of thing doesn’t put off vocations. It inspires young men to fight the good fight. Why? Because it helps them to understand that it’s about Jesus. He’s the One. He’s the only One.

img_20180821_065037440~2831334697854654523..jpg

By the way, that “Temporary Chaplain” gave me a donkey as a parting gift when I left Lourdes as I had originally planned before I even went there (I had asked for two years to hear the confessions of the millions of pilgrims – one year we had 12 million pilgrims). This was perhaps a year after his fake-news accusation. He still considers and always considered me a friend. He just didn’t like the Traditional Mass and was blaming the Mass for all of society’s ills. Typical. Anyway, here it is, part of my collection. BTW, the “A” stands for donkey in French, as the French name for donkeys begins with “A”. But we all know the meaning in English literature, don’t we? Yes, we do. Whatever. Jesus has also conquered stupidity. BTW, I always ask dying parishioners to tell Jesus that there is a donkey priest down on earth who needs His special help. They say that surely Jesus will respond that all priests are donkeys, so which one in particular was in need of special help? Hahaha. But I think Jesus will know exactly who the donkey priest is.

2 Comments

Filed under Abuse, Father Byers Autobiography, Missionaries of Mercy, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis, Priesthood, Vocations

“Dumpster Life” for a priest?! ;-)

DUMPSTER DIVING

There were some years in my life not all that long ago when I was living the Dumpster Life. Not bad eating actually. You have to be discerning, of course, picky. But there really is quite the abundance of good food to eat, sumptuous dining. I mean, if you put it on a fancy plate with some parsley decorations and cloth napkins and didn’t tell the person where it came from… I mean, it’s all in the presentation, right?

img_20180814_122518300~26848123757038028937..jpg

Above is a shot of the dumpster I dove into uncountable times in the same manner as the picture at the top of this post. It’s all about pivoting in such a way that you keep just a bit more body weight outside the dumpster so that you swing right back out. There were a couple of times that I fell in while reaching down just… one… more… inch…

But that was O.K. I can say I did it on purpose because – Hey! – I was officially in charge of the dumpster at the soup kitchen. Back in the day, when there was a bit more mayhem, it might take hours to arrange junk and sweep out and hose down the dumpster area, all necessary health and safety measures for the common good of all. Someone’s got to do it. And – Hey! – then I’m still working for my food, right?

How did I come to the point of “supplementing my diet” (as the guy running the soup kitchen puts it) in this way back in the day do you ask? Good question. I suppose it is a bit unusual for a priest to rejoice in Dumpster Life. If there were a car sticker with “Dumpster Life” the same as “Salt Life” or “Mountain Life” and so on, I might actually put it on Jenny the Jeep that I sometimes used at the time to haul away “compost” from the soup kitchen. “Dumpster Life” would be a badge of honor. And that‘s what some people don’t understand. It’s the ability to understand that separates real people from fake people. How to put it? It’s the ability to understand that “Dumpster Life” might actually be a badge of honor that shows if a person has any depth of character to them or not.

Let me give you an example. Some years ago I was recounting to some seminarians the bad circumstances of someone who had been caught up in a bad traffic accident through no fault of their own, unavoidably, and one seminarian blurted out with some anger and plenty of arrogance that that person was such a loser, as in […] loser. Wooaah… Get it?

We must be in solidarity with people, wherever they are at, so as to bring them all the closer to Jesus. Just to say, Jesus stood in our place while we were yet sinners, and look what happened to Him…. that being the reason why He came, to be in that much solidarity with us. Get it?

Many don’t get it. But I’ll leave that for another post.

Leave a comment

Filed under Father Byers Autobiography, Missionaries of Mercy

TWA bomb threat Rome-JFK: Is there anyone helpful on the flight manifest?

JFK airport runway 4L

The FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Systems accessed this post on the blog, now for about the thousandth time, this time apparently from Dunn Loring. Rather interesting, Dunn Loring, considering what one finds in and around West McLean, West Langley, Tysons Corner. I owe them a call. I digress. I thought I might say a word about my experience on the mentioned TWA flight from Rome-Fiumicino to New York-JFK in that ever accessed post. This incident on TWA does not show up in lists of terrorist events suffered by TWA for the reason that in the end nothing actually happened. I only mention it here to make yet another necessarily failing attempt distance myself from someone who stole my name as cover and is protected in his activities by the State Department. It’s one of those things which slightly lifts the corner of the veil. Mind you, this happened years before I was contacted by Main State, years before I was officially put on a perpetual program (that I knew about), years before I had any special “accompaniment.”

We were somewhere due-south of Iceland / Greenland, surely just over the halfway mark to JFK. Of a sudden all the stewards and stewardesses of the 747 gathered around my seat (that’s a lot), all very nervous, and said all in agreement and all at once that they had to ask me a certain question, hardly able to spit it out. One steward then spoke for them and said with the exactitude of someone trying to save the lives of all on board, each word punctuated and hanging in the air: “We have to ask you this question: ‘Have you had a course in how to negotiate with terrorists?'” Not the usual “Coffee or tea?” question. It’s a loaded question, of course. I answered ambiguously, saying I may be able to speak with our guests effectively. How many are there? What’s up? I asked. They explained that there were about twenty Arab looking passengers (I myself am guessing they were from Cairo, such profiling being unimportant) in the back of the plane who had just threatened to blow up the plane. As it turns out they had no bomb that actually exploded in the air.

When we landed we went to the farthest southeast corner of the airport, if I remember  correctly, the very end of runway – 4 L – , on the western side of the very end of that runway, basically with the wheels almost in the water, literally. In other words, we were as far away from any building as possible in case there was a catastrophic explosion that would take out not only the plane but a good chunk of the airport. It’s hard to list all the various kinds of vehicles that showed up at the scene as some of the shapes and sizes of the some of the vehicles were so particularly adept to specific disasters at airports and airplanes: fire engines, ambulances, armored troop carriers, assault team vehicles, endless military vehicles, law enforcement of every description and more and more fire engines and specialized vehicles.

And then the command: “Keep your heads down!” It was only said once. Then heavily armed, heavily ballistically protected operators, with shields and helmets with screens, balaclava endowed, the works, stormed to the back of the plane and assisted with the deplaning of those who had threatened the worst upon all present. Then we were deplaned along with our luggage. The plane was kept in place. There were buses but they took us only to the closest edge of the airport buildings.

Meanwhile, the pilot, nice guy, amidst all this chaos, made sure that the pilot of the connecting flight would wait for me. Hard to fathom that one, but it’s true. One stewardess, may the Lord reward her, helped me with my luggage – filled with books, like 85 pounds per piece. She ran with me across the airport carrying all this with me by hand, and finally a cart, and got me to my next plane. It seemed like miles. My heart melted at this show of humanity for me, I mean, mind you, amidst all the chaos. She was so thankful to me for having been there. I didn’t actually physically start in on our guests from the near east so as to neutralize their threat. Sometimes timers or pressurized devices instead need to found and shut down, or tossed, if possible (there are simple methods to keep such things both pressurized and get them tossed), but you might need the perpetrators’ help for the purpose of location. Anyway, they were threatened with having a “dialogue” already on the plane: you always learn about weaknesses, motives and connections with “dialogue.” They knew it. Terrorists are always cowards, tender snowflake entitled bullies. It is what it is. ;-)

Anyway, decades later, reflecting on all this, I had to wonder how it is that I was asked to assist. After all, I’m absolutely nobody with no off the charts skills whatsoever, especially at that time. I can only imagine the succession of events:

  • Our guests told a crew member that they had a bomb.
  • That crew member told the supervisor who informed the captain. They perused the flight manifest to see if there were any military or law enforcement officers or “others” on the flight who could help out, calling the tower in JFK to inform them of the situation and ask if they could assist in reviewing the manifest with specialized sources.
  • Only my name came up as a hit (because of the occupation of the person who stole my identity), though there was no reason given for the hit (as is the case with perpetual programs as related files and identifiers are then destroyed removing any possibility of re-deciding anything as to why the program is in place). Usually this involves agents in deep cover. They are simply beyond unmasking.
  • This being the case – a question mark – the instruction was given, risking an unmasking because of the circumstances, that I was to be asked as to whether I had ever had a course in how to negotiate with terrorists. Should I say yes, that would of course indicate that I had been at something a bit more advanced than *The Farm* or something a bit more than anything Quantico-esque.
  • Sometimes, people on these perpetual programs may not be operatives, simply those who are useful for whatever strained reason, or, like me, simply be among those who are used for convenient expedience.

When I thought he was in a moment that I might catch him off guard, I once complained to the guy who stole my identity that my subsequent accompaniment because of the perpetual program I was to be put on because of him – yes, I know him – was all a bit much, too expensive, a waste of resources, especially personnel, and he instantly interrupted me, incredulous at my stupidity, saying that this would be the least expense of the much larger progra… And then he cut himself off, flustered that he had gotten carried away and said too much.

3 Comments

Filed under Father Byers Autobiography, Terrorism

Humanae vitae: two priests met me in my diaconate summer in 1980s and…

spy vs spyTwo priests from further out east in these USA had heard of my parochial experiences with Humanae vitae. Apparently, this was becoming a thing. A “reputation” and all that. That’s always something to be avoided. It is what it is, for good or bad, truthful or something less than that. They came to pay me a visit – a long day-trip, that – and expressed to me their utter disdain for the appointments I had been given for my diaconate summer (though I do not question the bishop’s wisdom in this matter of appointments in the least).

Satisfied that they had a good understanding of the way things were, but wanting to ascertain this for themselves, they proceeded, after returning to their diocese out east, to make a call to the vocation director in my diocese at the time. They had heard that if someone wasn’t for women’s ordination and against Humanae vitae, there was no way he was going to be ordained in that diocese, at least if the vocations office had anything to say about it. This was news to me, but, hey, anything is possible, right?

One of them made the call and pretended to be a young layman expressing interest discerning a vocation to the priesthood. As they suspected, the conversation very quickly turned to thoughts about women’s ordination and Humanae vitae. Taking a line of fidelity to Christ and the Church for the good of all, he was forthwith put off from any further contact with the vocations office of the diocese with the good wishes being given to him that perhaps he might come around to playing out life on the right side of history.

The result of this phone call was then reported back to me. I guess they thought that knowledge is power. Something like that. The thing is, God is really smart, with lots of knowledge, lots of power. God’s the One in charge of things. Whatever we think about we do, God is the Lord of History.

I asked an old Monsignor about them and he said that, yes, they were in fact priests from out east and were quite the renegades on behalf of the good. I recall being quite inspired by all this. Perhaps some might think role playing in this way is not to be done, but…

5 Comments

Filed under Father Byers Autobiography, Pro-Life

Humanae vitae: my 2nd city parish in my diaconate summer in the 1980s

parish-

This was my second city parish in my diaconate summer in the mid-1980s. The very first thing the pastor said to me was that I would be preaching all five weekend Masses and that I was just to introduce myself a bit because, he said, the one rule he had in the parish was that there was to absolutely no preaching about Humanae vitae because, he continued with the motivation, there was a car dealership in town and they provided a new car to the parish every year and they didn’t like to hear talk about Humanae vitae.

Now, there’s some great training for my priesthood! //end sarcasm.  But actually, it was great training from Jesus, who was continuing to show me what was happening in the Church, His Church, not our Church, but His. That’s an education.

Anyway, of course, you know the rest of the story. I did introduce myself in that first homily, but I also spoke about Humanae vitae. I figured, you know, that if the pastor had forbidden this, the sheep hadn’t heard anything about the beauty of marriage, about the generosity of being open to life, about true love and trust in the providence of Jesus. Soooo….

You can guess the rest. The pastor being furious. Blah blah blah. Boring. Jesus is my life, our life… He’s full of life. Jesus is life. What is anything else. How can we not speak about Jesus and of human life – humanae vitae – ?

Anyway, complaints went in again to the bishop and I was called on the carpet. The result was that the bishop wanted me to go back to Rome to study at the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family and then, when I returned, be appointed to be head of the Diocesan Marriage and Family Apostolate. The vocations director was furious with the bishop, but the bishop is the bishop.

And, just to say, I did become a priest. :-)

1 Comment

Filed under Father Byers Autobiography, Pro-Life

Humanae vitae: my 1st city parish in my diaconate summer in the 1980s

parish

The moment I moved into the parish I was told by the pastor that I was not ever to speak about Humanae vitae, and other than this, I was to visit the hospitals and nursing homes. I assiduously visited the hospitals and nursing homes all over that spacious city. But I did have a great fault that got me reported to the bishop forthwith, and removed just as quickly to another parish.

That summer there was one weekend on which the readings were all about faithfulness in marriage. I preached on the beauty of male and female in marriage being the image of God. On and on I went about why there is indissolubility and exclusivity and openness to life, generosity. I did in fact speak about Humanae vitae in that homily – just a couple of sentences at the end, ever so gently, the truth in all charity – because I had heard the pastor saying the exact opposite of Church teaching from the pulpit and figured the sheep were without a shepherd and had been thrown to this wolf who was ripping them to shreds. Little did I know that I was pretty much too late:

  • When I turned around from the pulpit I saw the pastor not sitting down but standing at the altar, literally shaking with anger, his face gone deep purple in rage. I didn’t know what to do. I stood at the side of the sanctuary. He was glaring fiercely. I was actually thinking about what to do should he get a heart attack. When I tried to do the deacon thing of turning the pages during the Eucharistic prayer, the pastor would suddenly play helicopter with his arms, repeatedly almost belting me with his hands. I stepped waaaaay back and he ordered me closer only to do the same thing. I couldn’t believe it. It was as if Jesus didn’t matter in the least. It was all about violence. Here’s the deal: if sex isn’t open to life, it only tends to violence and death. Yep.
  • When I got outside after Mass, in front of the church, I was shocked that no one in the parish greeted me. Instead, most all gruffly walked past, loudly voicing their complaints that I had said anything about Humanae vitae‘s contents, you know, the ol’ “Why I never!” “What gall he has!” “That’s not what our pastor says!” “How dare he bring this up!” “We’ll show him a thing or two!” “I’ll not give in the collection when he preaches!” “We’ll be happy when he’s gone!”

But the worst was yet to come. The pastor that night ordered me to come to his “den”, sat me down, and proceeded to reprimand me up one side and down the other. It was all about him feeling discredited. He said that he had been training the parish in to believe (or not believe) in his own manner, and that he expected me to be his mirror image as that was what training in my diaconate summer was all about. You would think that training for the priesthood was all about the priesthood of Jesus… Anyway, he went through his own personal history of rejecting the teaching of the Church on pretty much everything, and what a mistake it was for the Church to ever have said anything about marriage, ever, particularly from the Council of Trent onward. He mentioned specific instances such as the interventions of Pius XII. He was absolutely livid. And while he praised my going to the hospitals and nursing homes all the time, he said that that was cancelled out by my homily. He insisted that I wasn’t ready to be ordained a priest and he said he was going to recommend to the bishop that I be delayed for ordination.

Perhaps I’m just supremely arrogant, or evil and bad, but I was wanting to think that I was being faithful to our Lord Jesus in caring for His flock. And it is His flock, not the flock of us deacons and priests and bishops. The sheep belong to Jesus. He’s the one who died for them, for all of us. I tried to be respectful, saving my huge smile for suffering for the Lord Jesus until I got out of the room. I was so happy to get out of that room. Tooooo creeeeepy. Thank you Jesus.

Again, just to say, I did become a priest. :-)

4 Comments

Filed under Father Byers Autobiography, Pro-Life

Unleashed as a kid. Still unleashed. Psychology for kids: Go to Confession!

Image result for forrest gump gif running

Maybe I’m wrong, exaggerated, lacking in nuance. Some of you know child psychology really well. Am I wrong?

Born in central Minnesota in early 1960, there wasn’t a kid I knew who was leashed. I wasn’t. Heck, I was walking to Kindergarten all on my own, a whole kilometer or over half a mile, which included crossing the crazy-fast, crazy busy 9th Avenue North. On the first trip, both mom and dad walked with me until we crossed that avenue (only half way), and then just pointed me in the right direction. That was it. I had to find the school and my room in the school up on the second floor all on my own. I learned how to tie my special orthopedic “Forrest Gump” boots (minus the bars, which was my choice) on my own on these trips. My sister showed me once how to do this but I couldn’t do it until, of course, I did it myself. I loved this freedom. It gave me lots of confidence. I have lots of stories about all that. But you know what? All went well in the end. Basically, until today, I have no fear about going anywhere at any time. I can’t run as fast as Forrest, having about 5 pounds of metal inside the one leg… serves me right for not wearing the metal on the outside of the leg, ever, back then. But I’m not complaining. I compensate for  not being able to run in other ways whenever possible.

But it seems that in most every place in these USA kids are now leashed, and have been for a long time, what with actual laws about kids being leashed lest their parents / guardians / foster-whatevers are jailed for child neglect. This is catastrophic for kids. I don’t think that’s ever been the case in North Carolina, but elsewhere, I guess so.

  • On the one hand, some kids are coddled and therefore have zero situational awareness and zero confidence. How can they even cross a street?
  • On the other hand, some can react by being ultra-super-entitled and violent bullies with zero confidence merely masquerading as power.

On or off. No balance. No reason. No assessment. Where did that come from? What I’m guessing is that, in part, this is about the parents not going to Confession and the kids not going because they don’t go to church because their parents don’t after the first Confession and first Holy Communion of their kids, if that. No conscience that they know about.

just me climbing tree

What kept me in line (well, more or less, but pretty well) in view of all the freedom I had was my going to Confession regularly. I had a conscience. Sometimes I fell into sin in being a real brat, but I did have a conscience. I knew what guilt was. And it wasn’t a bad thing to have if I did something wrong. I can’t imagine not being able to play with the other kids in my neighborhood or in neighborhoods all over my city at that time of 48,000 people, not being able to ride a trike or, later, bike, not being able to climb trees, or plant trees, or crawl through culverts, or get into trouble in construction zones, or ride the elevators of the hospital[!], or visit the elderly in the “Old Folks Home” all on my own just to do it, or pick flowers for mom or for church, or hurtle far above the trees for insanely long distances in seemingly out of control downhill skiing (it was Minnesota, after all), or blow up stuff with firecrackers, or make sometimes huge dams in the gravel roads after and during hard rains, or go camping overnight far from home (many times well over twenty miles away at a lake or up in the forests all on my own with pup-tent and ax and matches and a bit of food, or fly bat-kites in electrical storms and on the edges of tornadoes, or get good with boomerangs in the wind, or get good with bows and arrows and slingshots (homemade mostly), or swim in the Mississippi river, or make jumps for snowmobiles and sometimes crash, or climb out under bridges, or get good on my own with my shotgun (after certification at the VFW) at 12 years of age, or explore abandoned buildings, and airport hangers and fire departments and supermarkets and churches and more churches and yet more churches again (meaning explore!)…

lighterWhat stuns me is that for some decades now it is almost impossible to find a kid who has been fully trained to serve at the altar who is not scared to death to light a match to light the candles. They can’t. They won’t. They are petrified. I found this to be true in Australia and Italy and France and in these United States. What goes on in schools? Thank goodness there are now huge propane lighter things for them to use.

Of course, the problem is NOT the kids. It’s the parents. They were the no-rules-for-us crowd and they remain so, but they then became control freaks regarding their kids. What’s that? And is there a difference between conservative and liberal parents? Ironically, it seems that conservative parents are for freedom and the liberal crowd micromanage absolutely every last detail of everything. Kids are allergic to everything because they’ve never been exposed to anything. But, as Forrest said about his momma:

Related image

You can’t control God’s permissive or positive will, God’s providence. You can’t control your guardian angel. What God wants, what our guardian angels want, is that we regularly participate in Confession. Or am I wrong about this, that society has replaced the confessional and conscience with overbearing micromanaging that leaves kids without consciences?

1 Comment

Filed under Bullying, Confession, Father Byers Autobiography

Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Star of David special addition edition)

img_20180221_180002619~2756470213..jpg

A zillion of these Stars of David are in full bloom outside Holy Redeemer church here in Andrews, NC. The special addition, the central flower, is reminiscent of this star of David in early first century Galilee, at Peter’s hometown synagogue where Jesus preached:

synagogue of capernaum star of david

I like to think of that special addition as referring to the promised Messiah, now the Word Incarnate, who ties together the heavens and the earth in His own Person. Of course, I also remember how that special addition, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, became, for some, the proclamation of a capital crime committed, for being a Jew, from the tribe of Judah, became a crime which would bring one to death.

jewish yellow star jude

Meanwhile, Immaculate Mary is happy to be the Jewish mama of her dear Jewish Boy Jesus. Happy to the Jewish mama.

As a Catholic priest, I was amazed to read the comment a while back that it was absolutely impossible for me to be Jewish and a Catholic Priest at the same time. Jesus was both at the same time. Right? That reader came around when I explained what it means to be Jewish, you know, also like all the Apostles including Saint Paul.

The problem is that there is explosive, bitter, even violent prejudice and hatred for all Jews, all of them, mind you, among many on the ultra-traditional-ism-ist side of things, also and especially among priests, one of whom over decades has tried to convince me of how evil and conniving the Jews are, you know, with conspiracy world government stuff, blah blah blah. He wanted me to have the same opinion, even knowing I am Jewish. It’s not all priests. My Shadow and now, I find out, his breeder-girlfriend, have the same attitude (though I think that’s all a show). The attacks against Jewish Jesus and His Jewish Immaculate Mother fall on me. It’s like acid right in the face that eats down into the bone. I’m sure longtime readers remember this most emotional Way of the Cross, the Via Crucis, alongside Mount Carmel at Stella Maris Discalced Carmelite Monastery up above Haifa, Israel. If you’ve never seen this, now’s the time. 20 minutes total, 10 each half. This is an acid attack… heart breaking… It transports one back a couple thousand years…

2 Comments

Filed under Father Byers Autobiography, Flores

Fr George foreign government agent?

just me 05

Given my history way back in the day in Central America with the CIA and State Department (no, I was not in their employ) a question mark was more marked. But then…

It’s on record for everyone to see, I did work for – heh heh heh – Radio Vaticana (oooooh! making me someone who worked for, that is, was an agent of a foreign state), you know, propaganda… creating, writing, producing, interviewing, reporting, researching, announcing, editing, scheduling, archiving, the whole sorry lot of what it means to have strategy meetings, policy meetings, along with field trips, business meals, glad handing sundry guests and sundry pilgrims, some political, some of influence, blah blah blah.

But that’s not what the Italian military police thought. They simply grabbed me off the street one day and hauled me forcibly into one of their offices and tried to interrogate me. I just, um, said the rosary, something I’ve seen Mother Teresa do a number of times when see had been put on the spot. As it turns out, they weren’t in the least interested in Vatican Radio (though there are a lot of foreign agents in the worst sense who work there). The one thing they were interested in was as to whether I was employed by Vatican City State to undercut certain initiatives of the Italian State aimed at compromising the Holy See. They hadn’t dislocated my shoulder, but some fourteen years later now, the injuries to the shoulder perdure.

Oh! Wait a minute! I remember now. That was just when I discovered and uprooted the mercenary guy at the CDF. He was trained up by a close friend in the U.S. Army on behalf of the CIA (later appointed by the CIA as I found out some ten years later). I guess that makes me a bad actor against these United States. But that doesn’t make me an agent of a foreign government does it?

That was when, from the other direction, I was being asked by the Italian State to spy on the Holy See, having been there already for some 17 years. I played the idiot with that relationship / operation for years. But, no cooperation there, to their surprise, as I guess they always otherwise get what they want. There were plenty of bribes which I never took.

And that was when, diversely yet again, the Italian military was trying to use me in conjunction with the Church to get some confessions from some bad actors in southern Italy. That guy got the lecture of his life.

When you don’t cooperate, people get upset. So, am I really a foreign agent of some government other than these United States?

Timelines are important. They help to figure out mysterious events. But that would involve an autobiography, at least for myself.

Thomas More said, moments before getting his head chopped off: “I am the king’s good servant, but God’s first.” Did that make him an agent of a foreign government, what with God’s Church and all that?

Here’s the deal: we are all in exile away from our home in heaven (please God), but we belong there by grace. The King there, so whom we owe fealty, is, in fact, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace. Amen. And Amen.

 

fish ichtus jesus christ gods son savior

Seen at the hermitage when things were getting a bit hot.

1 Comment

Filed under Father Byers Autobiography, Intelligence Community

My “Shadow” sent my entire texting history with him to the *destination*

safe-house

This is just one of those boring, kryptic, for-the-record posts.

Pictured above is the safe-house of my “Shadow.” He’s the guy who stole my identity, becoming me back in the mid-late 1970s, looking like me and the same age as me, but with maybe just a tiny little bit more grey in the mustache. He wants to gain weight so as to be an identical copy of me. I have trouble losing weight because of a medicine I take. He even wanted me to sign off on all his properties (many) not for me to own them but so that he could disappear. This has been going on for decades.

Pictured below is my “Shadow”. He looks like a tramp for my visit. He’s really good at what he does. He doesn’t live at his safe house. He has a much nicer place. And a super-decked out conversion van, you know, for work. He seems to live far beyond his means. Hint, hint, hint.

img_20170125_204742

A little while back my “Shadow” copied and forwarded all my text messages with him to an unknown destination upon that destination’s request. That was very soon after I put in a case with the FBI that would involve the FBI, CT at McLean and Main State (because of what Main State had said to me, confirming that two days later, both being extensive conversations). Interesting. I am reminded of texting conversations these days what with all the flurry about the not analogous but perhaps not too separate case of Stzrok and his girl friend.

Back in 1992 Main State wrote me a two page single space letter saying that they couldn’t care less about my Shadow, but were instead going to track me, and this in perpetuity. In 1996 the FBI at the U.S. Consulate in Rome tried to force me, a citizen in good standing in these USA, to forego my identity and disappear altogether, letting the guy who took my identity years before go on with his life as me. To their disgruntlement, I didn’t do it. It has been chaos all these years, stretching back into the 1980s. I could write volumes about this. It isn’t about to end soon:

I have to say that my “Shadow” has a human side to him, you know, a little bit of guilt, a weak spot. I like that. It works for me. He seems to have “mistakenly” let me in on the texting he had with the destination of my texting history with him. Heh heh heh. For the record. It’s surely not that they didn’t have that texting history already available to them; it’s that they wanted to see if he would be so loyal to them as to do their bidding, no matter what. Whatever about him, it was written for them.

For the record, let’s say that that request of mine at the top of that texting (the destination will know what that is) is actually serious. That would solve particular endangerment that I’m put in because of this, right? Along with that goes something else that goes along with that and is one of the primary reasons for that, and that would solve a lot as well, right? Be nice.

[Could I possibly be more kryptic than that? Lol. ;-) ]

1 Comment

Filed under Father Byers Autobiography, Intelligence Community

Ignace de la Potterie, S.J., my friend, defender of those beyond peripheries

ignace de la potterie sj

Father Ignace de la Potterie, S.J.

As I put up some chapters of Jackass for the Hour, difficult but good memories of Ignace de la Potterie, S.J. flood into my heart and soul. Father Ignace was by far one of the most astute biblical scholars of this past century. As with all Jesuits, he struggled a bit with the Catholic faith, but then, with the friendship and encouragement of others, he converted to be a believing Catholic. I got to know him at the end of his life, when he was in reminiscence mode, when he was looking for a priest and biblical scholar who was also actually Catholic, and with whom he could share his frustrations and his desires for the good of the Holy Roman Catholic Church. There were many he met daily who instead spent their time attempting to destroy the Church in whatever way they could. He was trying to distract himself by writing frequently for the Catholic journal Famiglia Cristiana.

Although someone – I think an American – had already tried to assist him with one project, translating at least some of his work on Luke 1:28, he turned to me to do this again with a revision. As this comes to mind again, I have renewed purpose. That little opus has had a profound, very far reaching effect on my academic life, on my spiritual life.

don dolindo899435824..jpg

Father Dolindo Ruotolo

Other than this, it was only after many discussions that he shared with me his real passion at the end of his life, namely, to bring some justice to the memory of don Dolindo Ruotolo aka “Dain Cohenel”. He knew and accepted the fact that Father Dolindo was an amateur in all things biblical, as we Pontifical Biblical Institute zombies like to say about everyone who does not sport a degree from this institution as we do. And yet, the bible was inspired by the Holy Spirit for more people than just a few snooty academics like us. There is room also room in the Church for those who want to pay attention to the faith and morality of the Church, who expect reverence and devotion from their pastors, who desire to lead others to Jesus and to heaven. Right? And if those souls are backed into a corner by those bullies who would shirk their duties of pastoral leadership in favor of being popular, well, there is also room in the field hospital of the Church for those who are hurting from bullies, from those who arrogantly flaunt their faithlessness, even if, mind you, even if those who have been bullied lash out a bit in their anguish. Those who are their pastors in whatever way are to have patience with them, and show them a bit of goodness and kindness and encouragement, changing their own ways to be more faithful if need be.

Father Dolindo’s treatment by the Holy Office is a source of wonder for those who know the story. It was the extreme nature of the bullying which grabbed the attention of Father Ignace. There must be more to the story, thought he. And, indeed, there is. Almost no one alive in the world today knows the story, though they think they do. But they do not. They cite all sorts of documents with furrowed brow so as to beat down anyone who would go near this diminutive priest. Father Ignace, at the time of his conversion, decided to do up a little investigation. He shared with me the results of his travels to Naples and his research on this diminutive priest. This sparked my own interest. This was yet another priest thrown out beyond the peripheries by the untouchable powers that be.

When I raised some questions about Father Dolindo to those untouchable powers, I was told about the filing cabinets in the Congregation for Bishops (of all places) dedicated to him, and that there were plenty of people still upset with him for a comment he had made about the fidelity of the Holy Office way back in the day. Although his cause has begun at the Congregation for Saints, it demonstrates the kind of politics involved that the Congregation of Bishops are surveiling just who it is among the episcopacy that support Father Dolindo (who died not quite 50 years ago). In fact, there were many who pulled me aside to tell me just how entrenched the emotions are still today. Those who were warning me to keep my distance included a range of simple priest-officials of various dicasteries to cardinals, from long time friends of Father Dolindo and Father Ignace to the most ferocious enemy of Father Dolindo. That latter fellow is still alive.

But more than this, Father Ignace provided me with a copy of the controversial document that Father Dolindo had written. Outside of now just a copy or two remaining in the world locked away in some archive in the Congregation for Bishops and the Holy Office and a few others, I’m guessing that I’m about the only other person in the world with Un gravissimo pericolo. Comparing that to what the Holy Office said, I am quite appalled by the treatment of this cast off priest by the powerful ecclesiastics of the day. I tend to go with the underdog. I should like to publish this document with that of the Holy Office with a running commentary.

I think I should do this both as a biblical scholar and as a Missionary of Mercy.

I can hear the objections pouring in already:

  • “He was an obscurantist! An idiot! He didn’t understand!”
  • “Have you seen how he unapologetically cites the Fathers of the Church?!”
  • “He criticized the Holy Office!”
  • “He’s a simpleton, a priest in a remote parish! Poor! Nobody!”
  • “Who does he think he is?! He’s not like us! The nerve!”
  • “He didn’t like us!”

No, really. I’ve heard all of these even from princes of the Church.

Other similar tantrums follow about me if it was suspected that I might try to do something with Father Dolindo, such as:

  • “Just leave us alone!”
  • “We’ll destroy you!”
  • “We’ll make sure you won’t be able to publish!”
  • “No promotions for you!”

Blah blah blah. What I like about Father Dolindo is that he wanted to bring people to Jesus. That’s a lot. That’s not to be discounted. Jesus is the One. The only One. Father Dolindo knew that. Not everyone knows that, especially those who should know better.

Just to say, there are two difficulties militating against Father Dolindo:

  1. He understood the kind of textual criticism of the bible that was sanctioned by the Council of Trent in its decrees of April 8, 1546, one of the few, the others being (finally) Saint Robert Bellarmine, Leo XIII, Saint Pius X. This is the one thing that would undo completely the false ecumenism of ignorance of truth that is so pervasive today. This is the real reason for the attacks on his person.
  2. Envy. Here’s the deal: Father Dolindo’s massive commentaries on Scripture utilizing the Fathers of the Church and which ran for many thousands of pages were being snatched up all around Italy and internationally. Bishops were buying entire sets of his works to give as gifts to all their priests as examples of how to preach. Father Dolindo touched the hearts of true pastors by touching the Sacred Heart of our Lord.

It’s all about Jesus. He’s the One. The only One.

It is not the persecutors of Father Dolindo, but rather Jesus, Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, who will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Amen.

P.s. If you have any doubts about the purity of heart and agility of soul of Father Ignace, just read this fantastic work on priestly celibacy, which I used in teaching in seminaries on various continents:

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cclergy/documents/rc_con_cclergy_doc_01011993_bfoun_en.html

1 Comment

Filed under Father Byers Autobiography, Missionaries of Mercy

Internet Stalker upset: I’m not humble

bishop ordination

My Internet Stalker is also upset that I lack all humility. Well, that is true. I do lack all humility. Of myself, I am full of stinking, filthy pride. On my own, without God’s grace, I’ve crucified the Son of the Living God, as have we all. Of ourselves, we all lack humility. But my Internet Stalker narrows this down to a particular. Let’s take a look. He says:

“You also said you could have been a bishop or even an archbishop. Is this humility?”

Well. The truth is humility is it not? There were two occasions.

academia ecclesiastica

  • One was being invited to transfer from the seminary I was attending so to attend the Accademia ecclesiastica, you know, for clerical diplomats for the Secretariat of State for the Holy See (a different authority structure back in the day). The successful candidate would end up eventually being a Nuncio (in a derived sense, a diplomat) of some kind, which at the time also meant ordination to the episcopacy. There was an attempt in South America some decades ago to appoint a non-Archbishop as Nuncio. The local episcopal conference complained that they were being slighted by having such a terrible situation arise amongst themselves. Oh my! So, the guy was made an Archbishop. Hah! My response through the years to the Church diplomat thing was always that I would never compromise the doctrine and morality of the Church; I would never smash someone down for the sake of mere politics, or play politics with listing candidates for episcopal appointments in whatever country. This attitude of mine was rather offensive, to say the least, to those in such diplomatic circles. I was able to successfully avoid being a bishop.

San Callisto-

  • Another occasion was being best friends, quite literally, at least from his point of view, with the Archbishop Secretary of the Congregation for Bishops (now deceased). He was very much interested in having me become a bishop and pointed this out to me. Me being me, however, I made sure this wouldn’t happen by having him do something much more important, that is, having him be the second reader for a doctoral thesis on textual criticism of biblical manuscripts, something which, along the way, called into question some various dumbed-down ecumenical initiatives of the Holy See. He was a biblical scholar as well, and was furious with what I had done. I wanted only to do something much more comprehensive for the sake of a profound, true ecumenism. This was politically incorrect at the time. I knew that. But he did something for me which I thought was much more valuable for the Church than me becoming a bishop. He took a chapter of the thesis (250 pages) to the secret archives for six weeks. He was furious. But he had done what I wanted, something I could not do because I had no access. He did. He was able to confirm everything I wrote. Perhaps he put a block on my ever becoming a bishop in my file. I don’t know. I must say, however, that he was constantly training me in about concern for both the Church and the world. Anyway…

I guess that lack of humility, that pride of mine, goes along with what I wrote in this other post about my unstoppable arrogance, or is it enthusiasm[?]: Fr George David “Peter Abelard” Byers I just reread that. What a fright.  ;-)

Of course, what I was doing in avoiding the episcopacy was avoiding something which had scared me to death because I was full of fear at the time. No longer. But what was ringing in my ears was the admonition of Archbishop Fulton J Sheen that becoming a bishop means getting crucified, crucified, crucified. Perhaps Jesus will reprimand me for avoiding the suffering that episcopacy entails. I’m quite happy being a priest way out on the back ridges of the backsides of the beyonds in the unique Appalachia of Western North Carolina. But if the Holy Father asked me, I would do it, you know, be crucified. Perhaps that is said with all arrogance, but, hey! I’m only me. And of my own self, I am, of course, full of stinking pride. Thank God for Jesus Christ who saves me from all of this.

1 Comment

Filed under Ecumenism, Father Byers Autobiography, Missionaries of Mercy

King of the Mountain: Dogs & Jesus

img_20171222_1528411565571420.jpg

Shadow-dog atop Laudie-dog’s house, showing everyone who’s King of the Mountain.

When I was a kid in third grade at Wilson Elementary School, we were out in the playground for morning recess. The snow had been plowed into mountains and had since been coated with a crusty ice, making climbing or staying on top of the mountain while playing King of the Mountain an extreme sport. Being game for all things extreme, I climbed right up when no one was looking and was surveying my kingdom but without any situational awareness. Stupid me. I should have learned by now with my previous experience of being shot.

Bam! I was hit from behind by what must have been a locomotive. That hit, right on my spine, gave me a bit of whiplash that lasted for some weeks and put me out like a light for a moment even while I went flying through the air crashing down below. The kid that hit me was standing triumphant atop the mountain ready to take on all comers. I obliged, of course, but without running from a distance, which meant the fight was on. It was a tie. Competition is hilarious. A great learning experience. Situational awareness is good anytime, anywhere, with anyone. It’s not paranoia. It’s a method of deescalating situations. Although roughhousing doesn’t call for deescalation.

Meanwhile, Shadow-dog has a size advantage over Laudie-dog. While Shadow-dog is really smart, he’s still too over-confident and unaware of just how tricky Laudie-dog is. She can manipulate him, taunt him, and not let him get away with anything with ease. She has the wisdom of years. Just when you think you’re King of the Mountain, someone comes along and knocks you off your perch.

But sometimes it’s no longer a game or a mere competition. Sometimes it’s life and death. An all out war. May as well make that perch unassailable, where you are unremovable, where you reign alongside the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Wonder-Counselor, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace, in solidarity on Mount Calvary with Him who is in solidarity with us, Christ Jesus, who, lifted up and nailed to the Cross draws us to Himself, He being born to die to bring us to life, to give us a chance at participating in the greatest love possible in laying down our lives for our fellow man, being nailed to the Cross of witness to love and truth unto death. Unassailable. Never tricked. Never manipulated. Taunts becoming a blessing. Surveiling all with perfect situational awareness. And unremovable from that cross on that mountain. Because it’s His love, it’s His truth that are important, He always being the same, ever ancient, ever new, always King of the Mountain.

6 Comments

Filed under Dogs, Father Byers Autobiography, Jesus

“Fr Byers, who are you, anyway?” Apologia pro vita mea

With the videos above I poke fun at myself. Sorry for some of the language in them. I apologize to those who actually want an answer to the question about my identity, to those who don’t accept the answer that I am a simple back-mountain priest on the outside of the peripheries. That’s all I am. And I’m happy with that. Truly.

The problem is that there are those who are ferociously asking about my real identity even now as if that question has never been asked before, not knowing that I have been one of the most researched people on the planet by whatever wing of Catholicism, or Protestantism, or atheism, or of whatever religion, Judaism, Islam, or whatever political entity overseas, but most especially by our own intelligence services, the latter being interested because of my “Shadow”, and because and all the hyper-sensitive places I’ve been, all the terrorists with whom I have been “friends,” all the terrorist incidents in which I have in one way or another been involved, all the friends I have on the very highest levels in the military, in intelligence services, in the Church. But, hey! You newcomers! Go for it!

The question is, of course, why the interest in me? By all accounts, I am just another boring priest among the million or so priests on the face of the earth. I am just one more boring person among the billions of people who are presently alive. So, why me?

Inside the Church, the ultra-liberal swamp rats think that I am their hero because of some of the rather extraordinary people I know and the type of degrees I have behind my name, thinking that anyone with those qualifications (those people and those institutions) has to be one of the more dangerous-to-the-status-quo people on the face of the earth, and so I am welcomed, until they get to know me, but even then, their suspicions that I am way to the right in their estimation remains merely suspicion, for I simply can’t be of Tradition if I know their darlings and have the degrees I do. They think I am just being very, very clever, more political than they could imagine could be possible. Their question remains: “Who are you, anyway?”

Inside the Church again, the ultra-traditional-ism-ists treat me the same way, suspicious that I am a filthy liberal because of the people I know and the degrees that I have, and yet are confused by the things I have done in my life, doing more for the reinstatement of the Traditional liturgy (more than the Mass, also the sacraments and exorcism, etc), than most all of them put together. They think all that is subterfuge, a cover. “Who are you, anyway?” they scream, condemning me as one of those “priests” who loves “mercy,” but then wondering what is going on because they never see me embrace any heresy, any leftist position, so that they simply hate that I won’t hate who they hate as much as they hate, or even hate at all. They think I am a careerist, but then watch in amazement how I throw away “career” after “career.” I could certainly have had a multitude of careers in the Church, could have long been a bishop, actually archbishop at this stage, the problem being that I just won’t compromise, not to protect my record of not compromising, but because I believe in serving Jesus. But that is what they will not accept. “Who are you, anyway?” they scream again.

I suppose I should give a few examples. Early on I was invited to go to the Academia Ecclesiastica, but I turned that down with the excuse that I just would not make a career of compromising my priesthood. That was very offensive to some career diplomats, believe me. I’m sure many are devout believers. Some are anything but that. I knew quite a bit about those who were beholden more to the State than to Jesus. I have a lot of friends. But I felt I was too weak to last as a believer in such settings. Either I would cave in or be removed as useless to the ways of compromise. So, why bother? That’s just the way it was. That’s a confession about how bad and evil I was. Then there was a now long-deceased ecclesiastical superior who wanted to pull some strings and have me appointed as one of the Inquisitors at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, but I dissuaded him as well. At the time, among some in the CDF, it was all about how to please bishops. I just couldn’t do it, fearful that I wouldn’t be able to remain faithful to Jesus, fearful that I would simply be removed as someone useless to the world of compromise. Mind you, the CDF did do some great things at the time under then Cardinal Ratzinger, especially the ghost-writing of the official interpretation of Canon 915 (upon which I had some incisive influence from afar). Anyway, there was also a push to get me into the Congregation for the Clergy, and the Congregation for Saints, heck, after my time at Vatican Radio, even Communications at their new offices was put before me. The biggest career I turned down, however, was to go to teach at a certain University in Buenos Aires, where I’m quite sure I would have in no time (if not from the very beginning) been put in administrative positions as a jumping board to other things. I turned that down because the whole thing seemed geared to smashing down my faithfulness to Jesus. I was afraid of my weakness, afraid of being removed as someone useless to political correctness of compromise. I have to wonder what would have happened between Father and then Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio and myself, what with our common friends. I have to wonder what would have been the future of the ghost writing of Amoris laetitia, if, instead, I would have written that in a manner manifestly reflecting the teaching of the Church. I am a failure, I suppose, for not having taken up those careers in the Church. I am certainly a failure for having been fearful of anything at the time. I have only since then learned by the grace of God not to fear anything, ever. Why? Because Jesus is the One. He’s the only One.

Anyway, outside the Church, because of my life-time relationship of sorts with my “Shadow” (which has nothing to do with me, by the way), the State Department, Department of Justice, Department of Defense and various and sundry operators of any and all military or intelligence backgrounds have long wondered and frequently asked, always after long investigations and always with frustration, “Who are you, anyway?” This has become, over many decades and with countless examples, both humorous and predictable. Some, if they are good guys, just do what they are told in my regard (because of the “Shadow” thing) or they are afraid to bring it further to Pompeo or Tillerson because their own treasonous behaviors would be brought to light, especially now, but that’s another story, that is, as to how I’ve been trying to bring those treasonous behaviors to light. At this point, it seems that my “Shadow” has successfully turned the tables so that it must be me who is the Gray Man, in which case the question, “Who are you, anyway?” becomes both a protection and liability. It has, in fact, always been this way. It is what it is. There are benefits. There are drawbacks.

As it is, throughout my life my identity has been a standing “inside joke” for me and Jesus, for He has given me the grace which He willingly gives to all, the grace not to be novel, that is, no novelties, with the point being that only One who is important, the only One who has anything to say, is Jesus. He’s the One. He’s the only One. We are to our utmost to be instruments of His, letting His love and truth and goodness and truth and kindness and truth and mercy and truth be manifested through us. We are to have nothing of our own, no identity apart from Him. It’s all about Him. He is ever ancient, ever new. I am far from it, but it would be my hope to say that if there is anything that is ecclesial and of God in my life, that people will say: “Look at that. That’s not Fr George. That’s Jesus. Thank God for his great mercy.”

At the rare time that circumstances are such that it is important not to be novel, not to compromise, not to betray Jesus as regards Church or State, I have not compromised, ever. This is in itself so very novel, you know, not to embrace the novelty of being a “man of consensus”, not to embrace being a coward, that I have also been condemned as someone who promotes “admiratio” for this very reason. Ironic how that works. The very attempt to respect faith and morals, the attempt not to be Promethean, not to be neo-Pelagian, not to be self-absorbed, or self-referential, not to be corrupt, is the very thing which makes people condemn me as being all those things, for, they say, only someone full of himself, arrogant and Pharisaical, would want to be different from them, and instead want to be in solidarity with some sort of Sign of Contradiction. “Who are you, anyway?” they scream, wanting to know how it is that I could possibly not cave into their bullying ways. I could give a thousand examples regarding faith or morals or national security. But why bother? I have learned that people are not interested in arguments. They are only interested in pushing and pushing and pushing to see if, for real, there is faithfulness. In all their cynicism, they want to know if faithfulness is possible in this world. In the end, it’s all about being smashed down and, even while being smashed down, saying with Jesus’ love and truth and goodness and kindness and mercy: “I forgive you. I want to see you in heaven.” And in that way, there is no compromise, no novelty, nothing of me, only Jesus. I’m sure I’m not there yet. I am totally weak. But He gives me the grace to want to be nothing, that is, for Jesus, that is, to have no identity apart from Him, so that He can use me for what He wants, that is, His love, His truth, His goodness, His kindness, His mercy.

The “inside joke” is all about what happens. Here’s the deal: when you don’t compromise, you will get smashed down, hard. There are damned if you do, damned if you don’t situations, but you don’t compromise. There are horrific circumstances, but you don’t compromise. All is hopeless, completely hopeless, but you don’t compromise. And then you are smacked down, hard. O.K. But then, in remaining faithful in all things, Jesus picks you up. He makes life so very, very interesting in this way. How boring non-faithfulness must be. In contrast, the vistas of faith upon panoramas of hard reality are exhilarating. No amount of darkness can quench the bond of love with God that God Himself puts into our hearts. And this is one thing that is novel. This is something new. It is God’s love among us, Emmanuel. But Jesus brings that newness, not us. We can only receive that newness when we have nothing new of our own, nothing novel, no identity of our own.

Who am I, anyway? I hope for a love which casts out all fear. I hope one day to say that I am nobody, nothing, that Jesus is my All. I hope to say that Jesus is the One, that He’s the only One, that I find my identity in Him, that He finds me and brings me into the reality of love and truth.

P.S. At the moment, someone is condemning me as someone who is enjoying the all too easy life of a pastor on the peripheries. If only they knew! Well, I must say that I love being a priest, a pastor, and on the peripheries. I love being a priest. I love watching Jesus, the Priest, at work. I love everything about any possible way and manner of being a priest. It is true that an intellectual / academic “career” would be tough, as the Common Doctor says when commenting on the brightness of a halo in the Summa, as there is a 1000 times more anguish for the flock in such circumstances. In this regard I would absolutely love being the or one of the Papal Theologians (though I’m not a Dominican). My goodness, the things I could write on Genesis, on ecumenical cooperation with biblical manuscripts (going to the heart of ecumenism), on the women of the Gospels, on papal infallibility, on reaching out to the Orthodox, on being a missionary, on mercy, on the formation of seminarians… But, I am here, and I am also happy where I am, in the tiniest parish in North America, in the most remote place possible. I love it. That’s who I am, one who is in love with everything about The Priest, Jesus.

4 Comments

Filed under Father Byers Autobiography, Missionaries of Mercy, Priesthood, Vocations

Fr George David “One-Percenter” Byers

DONKEY FOX

99% of those who like donkeys are law-abiding citizens. And then there’s Father Byers. O.K., so, that’s to misquote a 1947 backfired American Motorcyclist Association statement that was supposed to defend motorcyclists, but was used by all others to say that one in a hundred motorcyclists are criminals.

The other day, besides being compared by way of hubris to Peter Abelard (and I’m proud of that, of course) it was also said about yours truly that if I were to wear a bandanna and wear a leather jacket, I would surely be mistaken to be a one-percenter motorcycle gang member to be most feared. It was insisted that those attending my Mass are likely to say, and have said, that I provide quite a specter-esque appearance (I’m kind of a big guy), but that, ha ha, that perception disappears the second I open my mouth for the homily and begin to speak of the goodness and kindness and truth of Jesus who loves us so very much.

The two just don’t seem to go together, this being a kind of grotesque and monstrous creature. But I contend that this is exactly the way it is supposed to be and is most instructive to all and sundry and quite a consolation that such uncouth and otherwise uncustomary appearance might at the same time bear the death of Jesus within.

It is an honor to be considered among the one-percenters. After all, Jesus Himself was accounted as a criminal, and put to death as the worst of all possible criminals. Oh, and, by the way, we’ve all crucified the Son of the Living God by way of original sin and whatever else. But knowing that, admitting that, being convinced of that opens us up to being beckoned for forgiveness by the Mother of Him who makes all things new:

pieta

More than one percent of us criminals can be on our way to heaven if we but go to Confession. Just in time for Advent and the beginning of a new liturgical year.

4 Comments

Filed under Father Byers Autobiography

Fr George David “Peter Abelard” Byers

peter abelard

Our new Vicar Forane in the Smoky Mountain Vicariate the other evening described me as being like Peter Abelard, the most brilliant if somewhat heretical philosopher who firmly established the foundations for all that which would be scholasticism after his death with Saint Thomas Aquinas (Abelard being born about a millennium ago).

The comparison, mind you, wasn’t about Heloise, or even smarts, but rather a marked hubris that antagonized whatever powers of hubris in whomsoever they might be incarnated at any given time or place, no matter how powerful, no matter how famous they might be. He made a career of challenging and humiliating all adversaries.

He did have some mighty adversaries, mind you, such as, according to a General Wednesday Audience of the great Pope Benedict XVI, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux. Bernard pursued Abelard trying to convert him from his unstoppable hubris. Abelard finally calmed down a bit on his death bed with his famous, “Je ne sais pas.”

What provoked this was my story of what I did with Father, now Cardinal Prosper Grech, an Augustinian and Maltese Patristic Scholar, indeed, co-founder of the Augustinianum across the street from Saint Peter’s Square, who was teaching the course on the historical critical method at the Pontifical Biblical Institute when I as a student there.

Father Grech was also a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. He was to be most feared by students in that, for instance, pretty much every candidate for the doctorate at the Biblical Commission who was praised by all members as the most brilliant in the world would nevertheless be forthwith failed by the supposedly merciless priest-academician, Father Grech, he destroying life-times of study with a stroke of his pen.

Father Grech told us at the end of the course that we had two options for the final exam, but only because he was forced to offer both by the Biblicum itself. He said that he would quite certainly fail all those who chose to write an essay, and this within the first paragraph, not even bothering to read the rest. “DON’T write an essay!” he commanded us, saying that he warned us, again forbidding us. The other option was to do an oral exam in which he promised that, as a consolation prize, he would look at the floor indicating our condemnation to hell, but thus giving us a chance to change our minds mid-sentence and provide, instead, the correct answer.

I, of course, waltzed right up to him after class and asked if I could nevertheless go ahead and write an essay. Astounded and speechless for some five seconds, grasping for words (hard to do that for five seconds mind you), he finally blurted out, visibly upset and yet enthralled at the same time, that, yes, he had to permit me to make this foolhardy move. I think that he secretly loved the fact that someone had the hubris to do the right thing, learning something while researching and thinking and writing. He would spy on me in the library researching my chosen topic, and even approached me a couple of times as I flew through the pages of massive tomes to discover what I just knew could be discovered in whatever language, living or dead, of whatever century or location, and discussed what I was doing, leaving quite flabbergasted. I finally handed in the essay at the last possible moment and waited in anticipation of hell. He gave me, according to the Roman system, 10 out of 10. Ha ha. Cardinal Grech is the best. I love him to pieces.

I could fill volumes with such stories, academic, ecclesiastical, political, interpersonal.

  • One diocesan priest at the Urbaniana University (right next to the Augustinianum) said that he would totally destroy me in print should I publish on “Yahweh Elohim” as a sentence name given what he thought he knew (but didn’t) about historical perceptions of Northwest Semitic by Semites to the South. Whatever.
  • One Dominican priest at the Angelicum said that if I published a defense of Saint Catherine of Sienna’s portrayal of Jesus commenting on Saint Paul, gutting the possibility of his mocking the great saint, he would pursue me right around the world by way of his iron grip on Catholic and Christian and Biblical publishing companies, easily convincing them to steer clear of anything written by yours truly. Whatever.
  • One Cardinal, papabile at the time but now deceased, said that if… [I had better stop…] But these stories are endless…
  • One Rabbi, head of relations between the State of Israel and the Holy See, said that if I were to continue spearheading a certain project, that would mean that… [again, I had better quit…]

I guess it’s that I’ve discovered early on that doing one’s best to do the right thing no matter what with no compromise always leads one way or another to the most interesting and varied of lives one couldn’t otherwise even imagine. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I just hope that on my death bed I will repeat those words of Peter Abelard with the attitude of hoping that perhaps I might thereafter be instructed by the Most Holy Trinity in the beatific vision, for after all, it is what Christ Jesus would have us say, we who know nothing at all, about our present understanding: “Je ne sais pas.”

 

8 Comments

Filed under Father Byers Autobiography

German Shepherd service dog?

What could a German Shepherd do for me?

Update: I’m pretty much all better by now, still DEAD tired, but, O.K. My question still stands above. ///

Both my hands are swollen to three times normal size. Fingers don’t bend. Turning blue as blood vessels are vicegripped shut by the swelling. White blood cells can bead up on the surface of the stretched skin. Joints can feel as if they are dislocating. The swelling can get in the feet and stomach and intestines and face and throat as well. The latter case is often deadly. It’s hereditary. Ultra super rare. My mom was a Guinea pig at Bethesda Naval hospitals as my dad was Dept of the Navy, USMC. It can last for days or even a week or two. But it’s always there for a lifetime, ready to make the body explode like this. It can come without much reason like being overtired. You feel an ache or see the tiniest bit of swelling and you know exactly what’s going to happen. It’s so quick you can almost watch yourself literally explode. If it’s in the throat even if you make it to an emergency room you’ll likely die as they won’t know what it is, how quick it is, or what to do, giving you stuff like a blood transfusion or epinefrin. That’s for the acquired not the hereditary version. But you can’t explain that with a swollen throat. There’s carcinogenic medicine I take but that doesn’t stop all incidents by a long shot. I’ve been at death’s door dozens of times. Without the medicine I’d be dead almost immediately.

11 Comments

Filed under Dogs, Father Byers Autobiography, Uncategorized

The 33 year homily

PCI

Today’s the Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles. It was I who preached the homily as a new transitional deacon in the seminary in Rome that I attended. It was a Monday evening Mass, 1985, and it was customary for all the people of the nationality of that national seminary who were in Rome, whether lay or clerical or religious, to show up for this Mass every week. The pressure was on. There were many important visitors from that country there.

The visitors loved my homily, saying it was the best they ever heard, congratulating me for going after such a difficult topic with such soft-spoken, good natured humor and obvious good faith. What I had tried to do is be ever so novel in not presenting any novelty, just the fascinating brilliance of the faith as it is.

But that was not the opinion of the powers that be at the seminary. They didn’t like it one bit. Their reaction could well be written in historical novel form and published as part of the national history for the national archives of that county. The homily was very much like a nuclear explosion that hasn’t yet finished its course, now 32 years on and going into it’s 33rd year of far reaching repercussions. It won’t be over until I’m finally installed as pastor of the parish. As it is, I got the letter of appointment, but I haven’t yet been installed. Getting to this point has a direct line of causation all the way back to that 6:30 PM Mass. Mind you, I don’t regret anything whatsoever. God is good.

That homily was not recorded. I wish it was. It was written out, and I had to use that time and again as a kind of proof of what I had actually said. I don’t know where it is. Basically it was this:

  • There will be a unity in which we can rejoice with great joy if we are obedient to the faith and morals provided by Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium of the Church, obedience (ob+audire) being an intense and eager listening filled with love and enthusiasm to the will of the greatest love of one’s life, Jesus Christ and His Bride the Church. After all, it was the feast of the Apostles.
  • There will be a disunity such that the Church and society will fall apart in cynicism and bitterness and failed individuality if we are disobedient, each of us doing our own thing, not being able to care less about Jesus who is ever ancient, ever new.

Ever since then all I’ve heard from all and sundry is that we cannot possibly know what the Church teaches, much less Scripture and Tradition, but we have to depend solely on theologians to tell us what we are supposed to think. Um… no.

That homily was given in the chapel all the way down the “cortile” in the picture above. In that same picture, just on the immediate left, is the “salone” in which the plotting of some manipulation of the conclave of 2005 took place. At least that’s what I gather. I had been invited. The full story of the vote of the conclave was later told to me. What a fright. But God gave us Pope Benedict, not who the plotters wanted, to say the least. I digress.

Lots of drama. Sure. Life is super interesting and one can see Jesus at work ever so clearly with all the irony, all the truth, all the love, when we try even in the smallest way to be faithful to Him. He loves us, and uses this. I absolutely love being His priest.

3 Comments

Filed under Father Byers Autobiography, Missionaries of Mercy

Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Memories from my Fatima century ed.)

wp-image-480585358

Superabundant Guadalupe roses are still blooming into mid-October with more buds on the way on this day of 13th October in honor of Our Lady of Fatima.

I first found out about Fatima in the mid-1960s when the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima (as directly opposed to the Red Army specifically in Russia) was still called the Blue Army. I loved that as a little kid, going up against the Red Army with prayer, counting on heaven, being a prayer warrior here upon earth. I just thought that was the coolest thing in the world at my five years of age or however old I was at the time.

About ten years later I found myself writing a belated essay on Fatima for Father Robert J Fox of Alexandria, South Dakota. I would end up reading quite a lot of his books. My half-sister was having me go on a two week pilgrimage to Fatima with Father Fox as a Fatima Cadet (there’s that military language again!) along with all the other Fatima Cadets that year (1976 – sixteen years old).

I had gathered my birth certificate, my driver’s licence, the original certificate for my social security number, acquired my first passport, and, finally, my ticket on TAP (Transportes Aéreos Portugueses). This, of course, made it easier for my “Shadow” to then steal my identity, using my clean record to allow him to move even internationally with impunity.

fatima procession-

In Fatima we were brought to all the special places near and far. But then came one of the greatest honors of my life, on the night of July 12, with some 2.2 million pilgrims present (almost twice as many as were foreseen, the most ever). I was invited to be one of the litter bearers. So heavy! I was afraid I couldn’t do it if anyone else carrying with me were to take a misstep. The others kept being replaced pretty quickly to give as many as possible a chance to carry our Lady. Somehow they let me continue to carry. Perhaps they saw how radiant was my face even in the dark of night, happy as can be.

We later would go to visit Sister Lucia in Coimbra. I would return there again as well as to Fatima in 2008 with the other permanent chaplains of Lourdes, France. The chaplains would take a vacation together every year to one of the Marian shrines around the world, comparing notes with the other chaplains of the other shrines. I was happy to return to Fatima once again.

Time to put up the Holy Souls Hermitage series on the Rosary Mysteries once again.

4 Comments

Filed under Father Byers Autobiography, Fatima, Flores

The Feast Day news for Pastor Byers – “God made you special”

God made you special rock

This was to be seen in the flower bed at the entrance of Prince of Peace Catholic Mission this past weekend. One recalls the saying of Jesus about even the likes of me crying out (Luke 19:37-40):

“Now as He was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of his disciples began to praise God aloud with joy for all the mighty deeds they had seen. They proclaimed: ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.’ Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples.’ He said in reply, ‘I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!’

On the one hand, just another stone, but, on the other hand, one that can cry out.

Mind you, this was just after the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. On the feast itself I had been thinking, “What does the Lord have in mind for me this year?” I knew there was something, but what I had no idea. The Feast Days of the birth of John the Baptist (June 24) and the beheading of John the Baptist (August 29) and then the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (September 14) and of Our Lady of Sorrows (September 15) have always been very significant days for me spiritually. Big things. Like receiving my vocation to the priesthood back in June of 1962 (2 and 1/2 years old) or Pontifical teaching appointments, or leaving for and arrival at various assignments.

I don’t think that the Bishop of the Diocese here knew this at all when he just assigned me as Pastor to the parish here on September 14, 2017, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. I told everyone that this was a demotion from my status up to this time as Administrator for the Bishop, as I had joked that such a canonical situation surely had supplied me with plenipotentiary powers of the bishop, and now, as a canonical Pastor, was limited to the ecclesial powers envisioned by the mere law itself. Ha ha. But no, I am very happy to have a more ecclesially sanctioned and stable position from which a proper cura animarum might shine forth forthwith.

Behold, the letter. Be impressed. Our Bishop writes the best letters in the world.

george david byers pastor 1

george david byers pastor 2

“Life is changed, not ended!”

Actually, this did much good for my soul. I think some mental blocks about moving in to the rectory fully have been lifted. Getting organized well will be a boon for writing. Meanwhile, all goes on as before. Communion calls and nursing homes and hospices and far flung trips to hospitals. All in the beautiful beautiful beautiful mountains.

Oh, and, by the way, our Lord is also The Rock of our Salvation.

9 Comments

Filed under Father Byers Autobiography, Priesthood, Vocations