Category Archives: Father Byers Autobiography

My mom’s lifelong terror: another hint

warsaw ghetto

Warsaw Ghetto.  Relatives?

A gracious reader just brought to mind for me the Yiddish words my mom would speak. I remember asking her about this. I thought she was speaking Polish. I only found out much latter that all these words were Yiddish. She would only say ever so very wistfully and all so full of nostalgia – my questions making her pause, quite overcome with emotion – that her mom and her friends were fluent and that she herself knew much more as a kid, but that what they spoke was strictly reserved to the house and forbidden to be spoken in public. She was being terribly evasive. It was as if she wanted to tell me so much more, but she couldn’t, as if that were for my own good. She had been whisked away to live with “Aunt Stella” in New Haven, Connecticut as a little kid (then in the country, having to walk a mile and some for the school bus). She was sooooooooooo nostalgic when saying the little she did.

pottery white blue stripe

I think of other things. Perhaps I’m reading into it, but my mom a thousand times pointed out what her favorite style of pottery was.  I myself was quite an amazing potter (I very often had spectators when I set myself to it). She wanted white with blue stripes in the rough style of what’s pictured here (which I did not create), whether jugs, or plates or bowls, or flower pots.

1948 israeli flag

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Scraps falling from the Master’s table (My dark and dirty secret edition)

tabernacle rectory

This is the tabernacle door above the ad orientem altar in my little rectory, which is so tiny that some of the parishioners call it “the hut.” It is a great consolation to be allowed to have a suitable chapel dedicated to our Lord. I know not all priests have this consolation. I think of those unjustly imprisoned by the self-congratulators such as wrongfully convicted and imprisoned Father Gordon MacRae. I think of the priests and bishops faithful to the Church in China being smashed down in labor and reeducation camps. I think of the priests imprisoned by Saudi Arabia because they dared to say Mass in a locked bedroom of a locked apartment.

On this Sunday when most Catholic parishes around the world celebrate the great solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus, Corpus Christi, I bring you a personal confession of a dark and dirty secret. Perhaps it speaks to a bit of insanity on my part, and I’m making myself rather vulnerable to commentary by my fellow priests and those who for mere sport shoot their words of slander at me, but, nevertheless, here goes

When I was a teenager, just 16 years old, and had my driver’s licence, I would take my heap of rust that might politely be called a vehicle, and drove up to another part of Lake Wobegon in my native northern forests. I would park my car behind the beautiful church with its gorgeous German imported (1800s) stained glass windows, and make my way up into the sanctuary with it’s massive hand carved wood ad orientem high altar with it’s moving Calvary scene, take a left into the priest’s sacristy and a right into the little corridor behind the altar that would make its way over to the other work sacristy. But then I would stop halfway across, open a little broom closet door to my right, squeeze myself in to the little space, close the door after me, and rest my head against the wood box that was jutting out into the ever so dark and dirty closet, knowing that an inch away was the glorious tabernacle with the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace, the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, seated upon His throne, God Most High, shining His mercy upon the universe.

And there I would stay, my little version of being hidden with Christ in God. I mean, what’s a 16 year old know about the spiritual life? I would think about the Trinity, going through, with and in Jesus to our dear Heavenly Father by the fiery love of the Holy Spirit, perhaps thinking I knew some theology but knowing I am missing everything there is to know nonetheless. And there I would stand in my dark and dirty closet, knowing that my dark and dirty soul couldn’t possibly grasp the glory of the Most Blessed Sacrament right next to me, but wanting to be there anyway, close to Jesus, hoping he didn’t mind my boldness, my silliness, my idiocy, my lack of decorum. And there I would recite the Angel’s prayer of reparation for those who do not believe, who do not adore, who do not love Him, Jesus, God’s own Son. Yes, I would also just sit in the pews, but I wanted to be close to Him who is coming to judge the living and the dead and world by fire, hoping that that fire would purge me first of all that which is dark and dirty.

Confession, by the way, is a favorite sacrament, where such intimate joy is to be found. Be not afraid. Any dark and dirty secret, like lack of trust in God, can be revealed before the fiery love of Jesus, even as He brings your heart close to His. That’s a love that all can see, and yet it is also hidden away, a treasure that we carry in our souls, in our hearts, by that grace which will turn to glory, please God, in heaven. Jesus is good and kind. He also has a sense of humor about our little attempts to be close to Him. How silly I was! But, when I pray, I’m like the tiniest little boy playing before Jesus, apologizing that before Him, I just don’t know how to grow up. I’m glad He said something about it being necessary for us to be like little children if we are to enter the Kingdom of the heavens. He is good and kind.

Praised be Jesus! Praised be the Most Blessed Sacrament!

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Amoris laetitia: Stupid is as stupid is… Mother’s Day Special

It’s a pretty smart saying that stupid is as stupid does, for when stupid does smart, the stupid isn’t there, but when stupid is as stupid is, that is, when someone smart does stupid, well, that’s pretty stupid altogether. In other words, in this respectful way of looking at it all, stupidity lies not in the intellect, but in the will. It’s about acting in good faith or bad faith, choosing to be respectful of others or choosing an ideology of cynicism which smashes others down, whether self or neighbor or Jesus on the Cross. But, let’s take a couple of examples, one being (perhaps) stupid me and my (perhaps) stupid mom, and and another being (perhaps) smart Amoris laetitia.

forrest gump stupid is as stupid doesMy Mom: Stupid is as stupid does (really smart, that)

I was very often chasing about as a little kid, but one of the quiet times I had with the Lord was the day my mom brought home something special. She said she had something for me, but didn’t tell me what it was. When I wasn’t looking, she simply put a really large paper bag with a big box in it next to the bedroom of my brother and me. For some reason, perhaps from the loving but too solicitous tone of voice she used in telling me to go ahead and look in the package, I was apprehensive, which developed into a sinking feeling that all was not well. I asked permission to sit down near the top of the steps next to the bedroom door. I received an affirmative answer, but had failed in the ulterior motive of my quest to have her peek around the corner and up the stairs to give me even more reassurance. I left some space in front of me to take the package out of the bag and spread out its mysterious contents. My heart sank all the more as I took everything out of the package.

There were some very special shoes, boots really, which fit right over my ankles, and were reddish brown. I put them on. They fit perfectly, although they felt strange when walking in them. They had multi-level “saddles”, if you will, meant to realign my rather malformed heels. I remembered having been measured for them. At this stage, I didn’t even know how to tie the laces, so young was I. That knowledge would come along quickly enough. But I didn’t know quite what to do with the metal bars which went along the sides of the legs. I guess they were meant to twist my feet and legs around since one foot wanted to be perpendicular to the other.

I remember the whole scene in the orthopedic surgeon’s office quite a while before this, with him warning against the protestations of my mother that if I didn’t wear them, I would have real difficulty walking when I grew older. “He’s going to walk like a duck,” he said, imitating the waddling of a duck with some sarcasm, “you know, all pigeon toed,” he said, placing his feet wildly perpendicular one to to other. “No!” said my mom, all alarmed, but finally gave in to ordering the shoes.

just me mom brother shoes

I’m the baby of the family, here with my special boots on.

“You won’t have to wear them forever, just for a while, that’s all,” said my mom in a gentle voice from downstairs, not in view. She couldn’t bear seeing the expression on my face as I realized that I was a cripple of sorts and hadn’t even known about it. Little kids don’t notice such things. “Just leave the bars in the box. You don’t have to put those on. Just try out the shoes,” she said with gentle encouragement. And so, I was able to kick off the bars even before I put them on.

The bars stayed in the box and I never saw them again. Some forty years later, when an orthopedic surgeon was discussing with me an upcoming surgery on the more twisted leg after it had been totally shattered in an accident, I asked if he could just kind of twist it about so that it would heal a bit straighter. “No,” he said, “the muscles and tendons that you still have wouldn’t know what to do. You would be worse off. Just rejoice in the way God made you.” He was right, of course. And even keeping things the way they were, that leg would a just a few years later suffer a spiral fracture, with the muscles and tendons working way too hard to have the leg walk straight when it actually couldn’t possibly do so. If I have to walk any great distance, my limping becomes exaggerated, even for days at a time, so much so that one of the Vatican Gendarmes, in seeing me walk below the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City, imitated my limping with great lurching steps I couldn’t possibly accomplish. Always good for a laugh, these guys.

To the point: All this made me think that my mom and I did the wrong thing back in the early 1960s when I was just a tiny little kid, leaving the bars in the box as we did. She just couldn’t bring herself to let it be known that I needed a bit of extra help. She had had an extremely tough life, having some physical difficulties herself, and was scared to death by the Holocaust, and knew that I was her little Jewish boy (however baptized I was), and a bit of a cripple, and so doubly indicated for the camps, even though those death camps were closed for some eighteen years by this time and in places far, far away. Not long enough a time, of course, and never far enough away.  She did the right thing for me even when everyone else said it was the wrong thing. Thanks, mom, for loving me so much. Stupid is as stupid does, and my mom was really smart.

Amoris laetitia 351: Stupid is as stupid is

And then there’s the (perhaps) smartness of Amoris laetitia, you know, the note 351 fiasco about the universal law that any particular person might well be open to being accompanied with the help of the sacraments when their repentance lacks appropriate attrition/contrition, and any sort of purpose of amendment of life. Instead of having them carry the cross of their infirmity of weakness which we all have, drawn by the love that Jesus will give to them as He does give to us all, they are to be condemned to the camps of being treated as less than human, as less than capable of rejoicing in the love that Jesus will give to them. They are treated as those with bad faith just looking for an occasion to cynically reject any teaching that would put a cross before them, and so one better not put such a teaching before them, for it will surely be perceived as doctrine turned into stones to throw at them with bitter hatred. But, no, that is not the way it is. That is not my experience.

forrest gump leaving the past behind you

The second I tell people the truth of the matter (I’ve never known anyone not to know the truth of the matter), and tell them that I want to be the priest for them, and accompany them, but not now with the sacraments, but with great love and enthusiasm tell them that I will treat them seriously and not just pander to them, but work with them, it is then that tears of joy flow, that the conversion is made, that a decision is made to do things right, that they become excited that for the first time in their lives that a priest actually wants to help them instead of get their congratulations by letting them do whatever they please. They thank me profusely for helping them to learn about carrying their cross instead of putting them in weird prostheses of sacraments that they now would be horrified to receive, knowing that they would not be able to receive fruitfully, which they want to do, and are eager to start upon the course that will bring them to this end. The point is that I give them the gift of being enthralled with Jesus, and they want to respect Him.

It is here that note 351 would have a priest provide absolution and Communion, but, no, that is not the way, not until they are all ready to go. They know this and do not yet want the absolution or Communion. They understand: pandering is offensive to the very ones this is supposed to benefit. Once people have a sense of being treated seriously, with respect, they can never go back to seeking pandering treatment by weak priests who prostitute themselves to the congratulations that the pandering-seekers provide to them. They hate stupid is as stupid is, because that just is not smart.

And besides that, the gates of hell shall not prevail.

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This Catholic Priest’s Invisibility Cloak: Moving up from inside the ceiling to *The Cupboard Under The Stairs*, so as “to be hidden with Christ in God”

usmc f35b stealth fighter

USMC F35B Stealth (Invisibility) Fighter ready for action

Seeing strange references to The Cupboard Under The Stairs of late, strange at least to this most unwell-read priest in the world, I googled the strange phrase and immediately realized that this is a reference to the childhood abode of a certain Harry in another house somewhere in Surrey, not that this North-woods boy of frozen Minnesota of wolves and moose knows where such a faraway place is.

But I can tell you this. When I was only four years old, I would often search out a mysterious place, enchanted not by magic or some special powers round about, but intriguing because it was a place I could think without being distracted by daily life otherwise all around me. I was, of course, distracted by not being distracted, but this was the charm of it all, and this is what I thought about, even while there was a tug on my heart from the Most High, who was wanting me to be hidden even further away, that is, all that much closer to home. That was the mysterious part.

People were going about their normal activities, absorbed in this and that, chasing about here and there, and I was totally invisible to them, out of sight, of mind. Having stepped back from this, I felt free, but again, I was totally tied into such a dynamic so that, in other words, I was being even more inserted into the realities of day to day life even while being abstracted from it. A clearer vision kind of thing for the fact of being able to take a step back. That helps a lot in not being necessarily ripped in this direction and that by the next thing on the horizon and then the other. That would not be a clear vision of reality, but a being smothered by reality.

My first step back so as to take in the whole wasn’t hiding under the bed, which, although I did a lot of that when my big brother and I would get into it, was never about this kind of taking a step back. That was just about hiding momentarily, waiting for the next opportunity to attack.

ceiling panelMy first step back was, significantly, a step up. There was a storage cupboard above the stairs, inside our bedroom. There were no doors, so you could walk in and turn to the right. At about five feet up, there was another storage space I was able to climb up into at my four years of age. From there, looking up, there was a board in the ceiling which could be pushed up so as to go into the crawl space in the ceiling. It seemed impossible even to me, but I was able to lift myself up, pushing the board onto the insulation above with my head, then replacing the board, thus becoming totally invisible to everyone. That got old pretty quickly. Fiberglass insulation is no fun. But I did learn some great lessons there about taking a step back so as to be all the more immersed in life all around me.

footlockerLater, now at five years old, I moved up into a more advanced invisibility cloak, which was the actual cupboard under the stairs down in the basement. There was a side-door, but this was blocked by a chest freezer, which, as long-time readers know, was to be the scene of being nearly stabbed to death by a friend who apparently did not have the opportunity to ever take a step back from things. But at the tallest part of the cupboard, as the stairs went up, there was actually a door to the backside, where we had our laundry room. That opening was, however, piled high to the ceiling with chests and boxes and all sort of whatnot. I would take a few boxes down, climb over, replace the boxes, and I was now again totally invisible to world around me, taking a step back, as it were, but totally distracted by the lack of distraction, something helping me to be, if I should ever take the opportunity, to be an actor in whatever circumstance instead of being in mere reaction.

george byers jr vmb 611

George Byers Jr while in the VMB 611 before heading off to the Checkerboarders

But this is also where, now, being older, my imagination ran wild. I liked to go through one ancient of days footlocker in particular, filled with my dad’s war things, including his flying gear from the Checkerboard Squadron. There were medals and dogtags, the Checkerboard scarf, the leather head gear, the goggles, the helmet, the flying jacket (all of which I put on, of course), the distress rag (a silk cloth stating who he was in all sort of Asian languages), his flying logs and his war diaries filled with dreams and honor and visions of service for mankind. It wouldn’t be long before I could read these paragraphs which were almost poetry. My heart raced, my mind soared, and I would burst out of my invisibility cloak and, having bounded upstairs and outside, would put my arms out and run, flying about, taking deep banking turns this way and that, until I would just about drop, ready for whatever circumstance might come along.

However much my dad was a hero for me, there is another Warrior to whom I now turn. I am learning to be hidden with Him in God, as Saint Paul bids us all to do:

If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-4).

Mind you, he says this in a context. Don’t think I don’t know it:

Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry. Because of these the wrath of God is coming (upon the disobedient). By these you too once conducted yourselves, when you lived in that way. But now you must put them all away: anger, fury, malice, slander, and obscene language out of your mouths. Stop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its Creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col 3:5-17).

In all this, taking a step back, putting on the invisibility cloak of a spiritual life, watching as Christ Jesus draws us to Himself away from this exile right unto heaven, as we so hope, we are in this hiddenness nevertheless all the more immersed into encouraging one another, despite our weakness, to look with enthusiasm and love to Him who will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. He loves us so very much. Amen.

pieta

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Stake in the Rock! What a discovery!

burnt island us-canada borderland

Our family’s favorite fish-shaped island. Ichtus = Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior.

I’ve been searching on and off for years for this little island on google maps. I failed because I was looking in the wrong region. I had no idea where it was. I was just a little kid. Today I tried google earth. And there it was, yada yada. As a kid on vacation with my brother and mom and dad in absolutely the middle of Nowhere-Rainy-River, I remember being terribly impressed by my discovery of an inconspicuous though very sturdy metal stake driven directly into the bedrock high atop this tiny mountainous island, stating in its engraving that this is the line between Canada and the United States of America. This would have been driven in some time after the Ashburton Treaty of 1842. I couldn’t believe my eyes, which were now opened to international politics and land-grabbing on a massive scale in, as I say, manifestly absolutely the middle of nowhere. I stood there for minutes on end, trying to take it all in. Who in their right mind, thought I, would go through such trouble, especially when it would have been so very difficult way back in the days of yore? Weren’t lines on a map enough? (In those days, they were.) I figured that, after all, I was still surely the only human being who has ever happened across this stake since the time it was so laboriously pounded in. However permanent this type of Arthurian Excalibur was, it was about as useful for marking territory as a dog peeing on a hydrant just before a heavy rain. Anyway, as you can see, since then, and after the time we had visited for some years in a row in the late 1960s and early 1970s, after our spate of 2-week summertime car trips around America, the forest service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture installed a rather large platform dock near the campground on the island.

just me 06High atop the southeastern bluffs, there are lush patches of blueberries hidden among the massive rocks. And this is why we would come: to pick blueberries for the best blueberry tarts and pies and everything that my mom would then make when we got back home. Mmmm! And, oh yes, we came for the fish! We would eat the fillets until the next Summer. Not sure if we took over the limit. Pictured is a morning’s catch, which I’m sure weighed as much as I did. We kept them fresh for many days in nets under water until we could get ice one the way home for the coolers we brought for the trip back.

So, what’s the use of repeating unrepeatable circumstances such as this? We’ll, here’s the truth of it, all too predictable: I’ve not told you the whole truth of the matter. I’ve written about some of it on a now shuttered blog. My family was not always idyllic. Big surprise there, right? Who’s family is totally perfect? The point here is, I do think that we tried to begin to overcome some difficulties by investing real time to be together, depending on each other. Ours is, I think, a story that would give some perspective to those in the Synod on the Family who would too easily have people opt for divorce and remarriage. My dad would get advice from the priests in town and he would try to follow up on it. Did he fail time and again. Yes. And in a bad way. But he did try. And things did get better, and better, and much better, and really good. But that’s years of progress, and not everyone in the family was there to take notice. But, change did come. It was miraculous. And it started by trying. And trying. Not bad, that. Not bad at all.

sacred heartsThe rock was Christ, the stake our idiocy. The result, not further division, but in His forgiveness, learning to learn unity, not always succeeding, but we continued to try. And that, for me, was always jaw-dropping as a new discovery, Jesus bothering to stake us out as His territory. I would have to just stand for minutes on end trying to take it all in. And yes, all of that, for all the difficulty, did afford real moments of happiness and rejoicing. And that’s just way cool in my book.

Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. For He is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:13-14).

I find it interesting that Pope Francis has not yet released THE DOCUMENT on the Synod on the Family. I’m guessing he’s taking his time preparing something for the sake of unity, not of division.

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(5) Father Byers at 15 years old, meeting up with two suicide rapists

just me 15

Below, some bits of my autobiography are provided which speak to more aggression from others who are hurting to the point of suicide. I include these experiences here for the express purpose of speaking to some few individuals who should know better, who really need to stop their corruption. People are hurting, and they need to help them instead of encouraging them to hurt themselves and others all the more with all their social engineering and self-congratulations in their lust for power and, it would seem, their lust for lust. Here are the previous articles in this series:

It was now the Summer before entering my sophomore year in what was already my second high school (we had moved). I was in a sauna with a couple of boys of the same school, who were just a year older than myself, with whom I had been swimming at the University’s brand new athletics building sporting an Olympic sized pool. One of them all of a sudden got aggressive and was getting ready to do the rape thing on me, saying that I needed to be “initiated” into my new school, but his friend, horrified, grabbed him and gave him the lecture of his life, stopping him. Poor kid. He was killed in what was reported officially as an accident the next Summer in an equally untoward circumstance. People conjectured that he might have taken his own life. They should know. He had done what he did right in front of them.

boyPeople suffer in hidden agony, crunching in on themselves, and sometimes try to draw others, for self-comfort, into their misery, sometimes with great alacrity and niceness, sometimes with violence and aggression, almost always, if young like this, in an effort to make sense of the hell they are living in because of circumstances imposed on them. He was one of the most popular kids in that entire region, in that entire part of the state. All that those who suffer need to know is that any misery, however hidden by popularity it may be, can be understood and thus sorted out by letting Christ into one’s life. He’s always with us. Always. We need but look up. And speak to Him.

The stats are now – what? – one in thirteen kids attempting suicide in the United States? Yep (at the writing of this, some years ago). That’s skyrocketed proportionate to the sexualization of kids from pre-school onward, right? Also that. Anyway…

The following Spring there was a man in perhaps his early forties who had been stalking me for some months. You have to understand that this was all perfectly legal back in the day. No longer, thank God. Now that we had moved out into the country, with rolling hills and forests and dirt roads and really long stretches between houses, this kind of thing could easily happen. If I would be walking in the forest, anywhere, there he would be. If I would be walking along the road, there he would be. He had attacked a neighbor boy (a few miles away through the woods) a couple of years earlier, dragging him off his horse right on to the front lawn of the boy’s own house. The police were called but nothing really came of it.

truck redI was wary. He was a real predator. For the umpteenth time, he was now trailing me along a dirt road cutting through the forest. He was driving an unbelievably filthy red pickup truck only as fast as I would walk. If I stopped, he stopped. If I ran, he sped up. I hoped he didn’t have a gun. I was really getting sick of these shenanigans. I had already fired warning shots for his benefit many times in the past when I just happened to have a rifle with me. I had already evaded him many times by running into the woods, almost literally flying around trees, down ravines, across swamps and creeks. But every time I did this I would be covered with a severe rash of poison ivy, which was pretty much everywhere in central Minnesota. That might not sound so bad, but I really suffered from it, with whole patches of skin falling off, oozing with clear yellow liquid. And besides, running on the wings of the wind with my somewhat crippled legs didn’t help my mobility for quite a while after any such escape. It really destroyed me. So this running was just no longer an option for me. I had to end this, right here, right now. But I did not have a gun with me.

I figured I could just beat him unconscious with my bare fists if I had to, leaving him to be found by the police. For all of my being a bit cripplely in the legs, I was in excellent physical condition and extremely agile = able to get out of any situation. I never learn. As in years gone by with the Cadillac Limousine stalker, I turned and walked straight to the truck. Stupidly, I figured I was getting good at this kind of thing. The first thing I did was taunt him to run me over. I knew I could easily jump out of the way. Things could then turn ugly, but I was again filled to overflowing with adrenaline. I really was very sarcastic.

When he offered me a ride – as I had suspected – I jumped in and he immediately started driving just a bit faster than I could run, making jumping out quite dangerous. His driving slowly was a thousand times more annoying than my being followed. What a horrifically filthy vehicle. I tried in any number of ways to interrogate him as to why he was always following me, but he never said a word. But then I gave him what was perhaps the lecture and reprimand of his life. But then my mind was racing as to what to do when we came up to where my house was another mile down the road. Would he stop? Would I jump, regardless of consequences? To my surprise, and dismay, he turned up the long drive. This could get nasty, thought I. We had guns at home. I knew how to use them.

As soon as we arrived I got out, but so did he. I continued lecturing him, and told him to leave. He didn’t answer. He refused to go. I went into our garage. But he wasn’t going anywhere, not for five minutes, not for ten. What was he plotting? I had a family to protect. I should have called the police, but we lived way, way out in the middle of nowhere. And stalking was not illegal. And I had accepted a ride. Right? I’m so stupid.

rifleSo, instead, I got our trusty Remington .22 and brought it outside, filling the rifle with plenty of bullets in plain view, inviting him to leave and never come back. He wouldn’t go. Just as I was raising the rifle to shoot the gas tank of his pickup truck for as many times as it took to make it explode, my mom called me in. Rats! Ever obedient, I went in. Her presence, after all, put him off. Just when I was starting to have a bit of fun. After that, I never saw him again. That was smart on his part.

pickup burningYet, I still regret not having pulled the trigger a few times. Sometimes people need to be woken up. And it would have been cool to watch a vehicle blow up. Now, having said all that, I actually didn’t want to hurt him if I could help it. I had met enough hurting people in my life to know that he might well have suicide on his mind. Indeed, I think that this was his bid to commit suicide, you know, like someone who aims a plastic water pistol, though realistic looking, at police officers, threatening them, charging them, aiming at them with obvious intent to kill, only to get shot to death, just like they wanted.

I told my father about all this, and his response surprised me somewhat, but what he said was good advice. The sum total of his remarks was this: “Pray for him.” He said this with a bit of sternness. It was not a suggestion, but a command. My father, you have to understand, knew something of the power of prayer. O.K., so… Our Father, who art in heaven…

I think that if victims of sexual abuse would pray for their abusers, there would be a great deal of healing going on, at least for the victims, whose act of charity would bring them the blessing of no longer being controlled by any emotional scarring that whatever abuser may have left behind. Just a thought.

I suppose I could recount another hundred stories just like these, but all so very different. I’m sure our Lord had something in mind for each and every one of these experiences, both for my good and the good of others, both at that time and forever after that. I can’t help but thank my guardian angel for giving me the wherewithal to know what to do in such situations. I was escaping one drama after the next and at the same time learning so much about the fallen human condition and how the Lord, nevertheless, wants us for Himself. My guardian angel was guarding a sense of the greatness possible to the human soul within my own soul. There is hope. God loves us. I know He loved me. He loved everyone. I wanted to see His love in others. I wanted to see the greatness possible to the human soul in this way in everyone I met. That didn’t mean I couldn’t bust someone in the chops if that’s what he needed to bring him to his senses. And sometimes one does need to pull the trigger and watch a truck explode.

Later, as a priest, I was to see the Lord’s love in others from up close, seeing the greatness possible to the human soul, especially when I would impart the absolution during their confessions. The Lord is so good to people in confession, bringing them back to Himself. What great dignity people have in their friendship with the Lord. I can’t think of anything more noble than someone making their confession, even of the very worst of sins. “Look at how they are being carried along by the Lord’s grace!” is the exclamation any priest makes. The Lord’s work in the Sacraments brings light into the darkness. I thank God that I’ve witnessed His work among those He brings to Himself. He is so good, so kind.

Just to say, it was my father, who, as a kind of last will and testament, insisted with me so very many times during the last years of his life, saying, “Goodness and kindness, George, goodness and kindness!” I like that. That’s why I repeat it all the time. It’s not worthwhile living any other way, no matter what happens. The only way is the goodness and kindness of Jesus. And yet, as we know with our Lord’s exclamation… Jerusalem! Jerusalem!

That should be enough about my own experiences for those whom I’ve particularly had in mind while putting these articles up. They need to stop what they are up to, and stop it now. I’m especially speaking to those who pull the strings and those who so easily manipulate them. They know who they are. And others might just find out. ;¬)

Meanwhile, I’ll continue with the series in this way and that. A question came in about angels in these posts. I’ll tackle that forthwith. The answer should be enough to make those for whom I’ve been publishing these articles shake in fear. And if they don’t, they are fools.

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(4) Father Byers at 12 years old: world-class kiddie-porn star

north junior high school

The necessary preface: this series of articles is written with specific people in mind, the string pullers and those who manipulate them, those who are one and two steps beyond the corruption mentioned by Pope Francis, those who are lost to a corruption of the corrupt, and beyond that, are brought into a kind of tangible evil. It is evident that these articles make their way into the hands of some few of this targeted group. The purpose is to offer them forgiveness, even after all that will be related here about those much more insignificant in the scheme of things than they are themselves. After all, those who are more important, the string pullers and their manipulators, take on the guilt of everything that goes on under their influence. I hope that thought puts the fear of God in them, and that they repent, for the Immaculate Conception’s Divine Son, Christ our God, will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Here’s a list of the preceding posts in this short series:

pinocchio stringsRight away I have to say that the title of this post is misleading, the bit about kiddie-porn, for this is about the filming of young and naked teenage boys evidently for the use of older homosexual men. But I’ll leave the title as it is for the sake of the main stream media mentality we have in this world, which calls even the abuse of adults “pedophilia” with the malicious intent of not ever speaking about the stats regarding abuse, that it is largely homosexual, that is, involving (post)pubescent young men. That would interfere with certain aspects of social engineering, of certain aspects bringing about a persecution of the Church. That social engineering is itself a symptom of the crisis of the identity of men after the total rejection of their fatherhood by society and by so very many in the Church as contraception and abortion and self-abuse and porn and homosexuality were condoned by the so-called pastórally minded among the clergy and episcopacy of the 1960s and 1970s. But then, as I say, then there are the ones I’m aiming this series at, that is, a certain class among them, a group which has learned to pull the strings on a global level, involving manipulators even more interested in money and power than they are. They are really quite few in number.

just me climbing treeAnyway, the swimming pool at North Junior High School would be a source of trouble time and again. When I was eight and nine years old, the older neighborhood kids were saying that swimming trunks were not allowed by the gym teacher. Everyone had to swim, and swim naked, saying that this had already been going on for some years. I would soon be towards the end of my twelfth year of age, and would be attending there myself. Many schools were starting to do this I was told, so no adult questioned it in what was now a Woodstock society. But don’t be fooled, all the kids hated it, at least at the beginning. They thought that the instructor was going after the boys. But I thought that I could handle myself, and there was no question that I had to go to school, and to that particular school. When the time came, I did go.

camera reel to reelWhat I found, at twelve years of age, was that the teacher’s office, with its large bay window overlooking the locker room, was always jam-packed with naked boys, whom he seemed to be totally ignoring. But then I saw a very expensive movie camera – very professional looking – set up on a large tripod facing the bay window from the locker room, with its on-air light lit up. He was filming the whole thing. The boys, so eager to be around him, were part of a “secret club” that – as one boy told me as if I were entirely stupid – could only be opened up to membership by the gym teacher himself.
Poor kids. They fell for what they thought was the excitement of immodesty and the sense of belonging to a group. I was disgusted by the kind of spirit that seemed to have blinded them to all but a tiny set of arrogant, self-centered emotions, which were lit up so brightly in them that they were blind to everything else, having no agility of spirit whatsoever. They were like deer willingly mesmerized by their own headlights, being shot down by an unscrupulous hunter. I knew that something was terribly wrong with all this, and was taken aback by the very public nature of it. It was the old trick of flaunting it like its normal so that people will think that it is normal. It worked in society then just as it does today. Some few of the kids didn’t fall for it. Neither did I. But what could a little kid do back in those days, so very different from today? Of course, there will be those who blame me for the whole thing. There’s nothing I can do about that. I thing those perpetrating the crimes should be the ones to be blamed, not the kids. Just my opinion.

studio camera 1960sI could try to avoid that camera. But the cameras were everywhere. There were more cameras throughout the locker room, with heavy cables all over the floor. There were cameras in the open room showers, and out in the pool area. There were very large movie cameras, Hollywood cameras I would call them, up in the empty swim-meet bleachers high above the pool, lights blinking away, another in an open storage room at the end of the pool next to the locker room door, and, it seems, below, inside the underwater window at the deep end of the pool. A mafia operation with the school being paid off to turn a blind eye? I think so. The gym teacher made everyone march around naked, sit in certain areas facing certain ways, sit in groups on the diving board, dive from the board in certain ways, and so on, like scripted scenes that would fit some sort of porno story. He even had us swim to the bottom of the deep end of the pool two at a time in order to fetch a block of heavy rubber matting, asking us to fight for it underwater. That’s where an underwater window was located.

just me 04He must have taken thousands of large reels of film over the years that this continued, from the mid-1960s into the mid-1970s. I can only guess that this was a fraction of the operation, another part of which was surely the “secret club” of the gym teacher’s naked boys. I can only guess that the fellow with the Cadillac Limousine mentioned in a previous article was financing all this. I can only guess that the school and police and the Feds had all been paid off to keep quiet. I can only guess that these films still make up by far the largest source of “kiddie-porn” still circulating among the perverted until this very day throughout the United States and around the world, with enough footage for millions of still photos, uncountable DVD’s, pay-per-views, and a multitude of internet formats. In other words…

just me 03I had been prostituting myself and didn’t even know it. I was a kiddie-porno star and surely I still am so today, with dirty old men doing unspeakable things while gaping at images of myself and all those other boys. It only hit home when it was too late. Abuse of minors is always abuse, because, no matter how worldly wise they are, or however much they think that they can take care of themselves (with me being in first place in that category), still, when one is going through a situation as a kid it really is hard to imagine the immense evil of some adults. Sure, I saw the cameras. Yes, I knew they were rolling. So did everyone else. But we just could not imagine for what reason. It just didn’t make any sense. None of us could fathom the depths of the evil at hand, and so mindlessly went along with it, especially because it all seemed condoned by the most trusted adults, the teacher and the school’s administration. I had told my parents about it. I think my dad tried to do something. But the power behind this operation seemed to be beyond anything he could do anything about.

pool lifeguard chairThere was some grumbling among the boys, but only one bit of real, though only momentary rebellion. The occasion for this was one boy being singled out. I felt so sorry for him, and angry and confused right along with him, as did we all. He was made to climb up an inordinately tall life-guard chair and stand there, naked, standing, the gym teacher insisted, with his hands to the side. This boy noticed the cameras up in the bleachers, and mentioned them, pointing to them. You could see the scars of hatred being seared into his heart, as if someone was dragging a dagger right through his chest, deeply, right through his very soul. Overwhelmed, he threatened to jump from the chair so that his head would hit the tile edge of the pool below, breaking his neck, smashing his skull open, killing himself. “No! Don’t do it!” we said. “No!” We just couldn’t believe what we were witnessing. We almost lost our voices. He didn’t jump, thanks be to God.

With that, the “game” was over for the day, even though there was still some twenty minutes left for this “class” in the school schedule. The gym teacher knew that if he didn’t let us go now, he himself was going to pay a heavy price. He let the boy climb down. I don’t know how the boy didn’t fall while climbing down, so much was he shaking with anger.

There was a big difference, thought I, between this gym teacher/kiddie-porno-film director, and my friend with the switch blade in an earlier post, though both may have had similar histories. I want to think my friend had remained with a shred of hope in his soul, even in his darkest moments, a hope which manifests the power of the grace of God in the midst of the hell some live through on this earth. The kiddie-porn director, instead, had chosen not to have any hope. It is how low the human soul can sink. But I will insist, even this kiddie-porn operation isn’t the lowest of the low. The Mafia isn’t the lowest of the low.

Sorry, but I insist: there are always others pulling the strings, and manipulating those who are pulling strings. Those are the ones I’m aiming this series at. And, yes, after all that, I tell them that mercy is theirs for the asking. No one can commit any sin which is so great that if one sincerely asked for forgiveness it could not be forgiven. Let this be a sign to you: I forgive you if you want that forgiveness. Don’t bring that offer with you to hell, which always comes sooner than later, much sooner than any time later. When you face all of eternity as you enter hell, you will know what I mean, and my words to you now will haunt you for eternity. Now’s the time to change your ways and go to Confession.

Now, having said all that, back to the more local culprits. I’m sure the statute of limitations has run out, or not? There are hundreds of witness to what I speak about here. So very many in the “secret club” of which I, however, was never a part. Would they know also of any murders, disappearances of kids? Time for them to come forward, but to what, if everyone was paid off, if this involves the big names in the Twin Cities and elsewhere? What I would like to hear is that huge stashes of kiddie-porn have been destroyed, with whole networks of abusers being brought down with all their servers brought down. That would be really cool.

Also, just to say, there were a number of kids in the area who went missing at that time. Open up those cases, my FBI friends, or are you afraid? Maybe I can kick-start the thing by writing a story for the local paper, and get a local reporter to interview whoever of the survivors of those years then comes forward to speak about it…

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(3) Father Byers at 8 years old: Taking *The* Mafia Kiddie-Porn Godfather for a ride

cadillac limousine

This is one of those stories which requires one to say before beginning that no one else is ever to try this at home. What I did was stupid, though it seemed really smart to me at the time. The purpose of repeating this bit of the autobiography here is send a message to some people who pride themselves a bit in their lust for power in all their evil doing. They have a need to understand that there are certain people who will uncontrollably do stupid things, putting themselves into grave danger, truly having no fear because of having, at any rate, the idea that they can get their way out of any difficulty precisely because they have no fear that burdens them. They will do what they need to do. And they do it. I must say that what happened in this story was very formative of my own character, and terribly instructive to me as a little kid about the way politics work regarding abuse. Seeing the powerful become fearful (they are always fearful) was spectacular. Very important, this. Those for whom I am especially writing these articles should take note: No fear. Zero. Nada. Zilch. Give it up and convert. Go to Confession! For the other articles so far, see:

north junior high school

When I was just eight years old, I had made a habit of going swimming at the local Junior High School. The pool was opened up to younger kids like myself, at night. It was a pretty good hike to get there, three miles, at night. Bikes were impossible in Minnesota in February ice and snow, at night. I know. I tried many times when it was way below zero, at night. It’s a good extreme sport, but it really was faster just walking. No one from my neighborhood wanted to brave the hike. I was alone for that part. But there were plenty of kids to meet there. The trip was worth it for someone who could swim like a fish, and I was just such a one. I think I once did five lengths of the pool underwater without once coming up for breath. I was a bit of a show-off, looking for some competition in this way. Competition, if it’s just for the sheer idiocy of it, is always hilarious to those involved, and is its own reward. I found out that half-crippled legs didn’t matter so much in the water.

Also, I was used to the cold enough to know that when it’s below zero and one’s hair is still wet, the walk home will be cold only at the beginning. Wet hair freezes into a helmet as hard as rock, keeping one’s body heat insulated. I would let my hair freeze for a minute or so, and then put my hat on over that. Only I would do that, of course. But one has to know how to survive.

On my way home from a great swim, but on a particularly cold night, way below zero on the Fahrenheit scale, and with eyes seeing chlorine halos around every distant light, I noted that a very expensive looking black Cadillac Limousine started following me at my walking pace, about forty yards out. He had followed me a couple of other times, but from about 100 yards out. This narrowing of the range was creepy. I was on the road since the sidewalk had about a foot of snow cover. But now, to escape, I ran up the mountain of snow separating the road from the sidewalk, which was set back from the road about twenty feet. I walked along the sidewalk, to no avail. The car stayed exactly forty yards back. He knew what he was doing. I was just at a point where the sidewalk ended in front of a deep, culverted ditch that was being filled in with building demolition, parts of brick walls and great slabs of cement floors, with jagged metal I-beams that poked through the snow and ice with dark menace. I stared at this, imagining myself escaping along this impassable route, but being put off at the thought of freezing to death with a broken leg a half mile from the road, not to be found until the following Summer, if ever.

plowed snowI jumped back out on the road, right where my stalker would be able to grab me. Back in the day, there were no houses in any direction for about a half a mile along that stretch of road. The field next to me, blanketed with about three feet of snow, up to my chest at that time, stretched all the way to a forest about three miles away. It was pitch dark. I thought I was dead for sure.

And yet, if you can’t run, you can fight, even if you are only eight years old, as I had learned some months previously. I was braver than I was smart. I turned and walked straight to the car and, when offered a ride – just as I thought – I took it. This seemed stupid even to me, but it also seemed like the only option, and so, therefore, smart. I thought I was going to end up in the car one way or the other, but if I took the initiative, the psychological dynamics were such that I could have the upper hand, at least for a while, until I figured out a definitive escape. What a stupid eight-year old! But I was filled with adrenaline once again. And I had not forgotten the bit [mentioned in an earlier part of the autobiography] about letting people hang themselves if that’s what they wanted to do. I learned later on what our Lord did with Judas.

This fellow in the Cadillac Limousine was perhaps in his thirties, and may have been merely the driver for someone else somewhere else. His job for the evening was just to collect kids. At any rate, he knew his business; it was clear he had done this before. Today I would conjecture that his boss was the kiddie-porno king of the world, with no one equaling his volume of kiddie-porn even today. But, maybe he was the godfather. Those were different times. But I’ll get to that in the following article of this series. At any rate, this fellow interrogated me about exactly where I lived in town and then what my name was. When he heard the name, he asked me to repeat it, again and again. I told him, and said that my dad had been the mayor of the city (of 48,000 people at the time) and was now an attorney at law, and also worked at the State Legislature, and headed up the biggest law firm in central Minnesota. He asked me repeatedly if I was sure that was my father. Sure? I almost broke out laughing. But instead I also mentioned my uncle by name, since he was the chief emergency responder in the city. At that point, he stopped the car abruptly, right there on the icy street, far from anywhere, at night, way below freezing, commanding me to get out. I mocked him with a sing-song voice, saying he could meet my dad if he wanted to drive me the rest of the way. That wasn’t very intelligent on my part, but he sped away, thank God. I tried to get the license plate number, but it was too dark. I was dumb enough to be a bit too happy with myself, having gotten 1-1/2 miles closer to home in a nice car. I had no idea that I had been in most grave danger, out of which few come out alive.

I wonder how many youngsters’ lives he had destroyed and is still destroying. I wonder if my ever so troubled friend had been a victim of his. I told my parents right away, and my dad got on the phone immediately. I can only think that this fellow was run out of town for a while, but, in those days, I suppose, only that. The kiddie-porn operation was so massive that very many people had to have been paid off to look the other way.

Just when you think you’ve run into the ultimate evil, you find out there is something even worse. It would be a grave error to think that the politics of abuse, the string pulling behind the scenes, is simple. It’s not that it’s all so much more complex than money and the lust for power along with a perverted, inverted lust for lust. Instead, the difficulty comes in being put off by thinking that there can’t be anything more evil than what one has already found. But that judgment of the state of affairs does not then take into account the passion and death of the Son of God Incarnate. If He suffered like that, things really can be very, very evil. But that’s when we see Jesus’ mercy shining most brightly. O.K., so, my participation as a kid in kiddie-porn up next. Stay tuned.

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(2) Father Byers recalls being almost murdered and “gay” raped at 7 years of age, then stopping attacker’s suicide with angels

just me 06

About 7-1/2 years old. I’m on the right, holding two snakes. This is on Burnt Island, on the Canada/USA (Minnesota) border, in the Lake of the Woods. Those fish tasted mighty good around the fire on those cold Summer days, better than snakes, which, fried up, taste just like chicken!

The purpose of this second installment of bits and pieces from my autobiography (1) is to demonstrate how it is that just because bad things happen to people, it doesn’t mean that they have to be controlled by those bad things, and doesn’t mean that they are “damaged goods” (as they horrifically say in Queen’s English), necessarily turning into what they have experienced; and (2) it is to show any doubters, any atheists, any string pullers and manipulators, anyone involved in social engineering because they themselves are in despair because they in fact did become “damaged goods” as it were, that God is in charge, and will lead the way to heaven for those willing to go to heaven, so that they can leave the “damaged goods” bit behind. As with the other posts in this short series, this is all aimed especially at some people who should know better, for their conversion, as was mentioned in Flores for the Immaculate Conception (utterly inappropriate edition). So, let’s move on to some preliminary comments, and then jump right into the attempted murder and rape, and then the revelation from the angels. Like my vocation, these things have nothing whatsoever to do with me.

Just to say: however knocked about I have been in my life, however stupid I have been, I have never lost sight of the greatness to which each individual of whatever age or circumstance is called. Each child bears within himself, within herself, an entire universe of wonder and greatness, and more, so much more, needing to be filled to bursting with the indwelling of the Most Holy Trinity, being able to rejoice in all humble thanksgiving in the enthusiastic friendship of Jesus with them.

Just to insist: children are bearers of the weight of the glory of God, called to love with God’s love, with that love I first knew consciously at 28 months old when I received my vocation to the priesthood (see the previous post in this series: (1) Father Byers’ vocation: 28 months old). It is this love – greater than all the heavens and earth, a sovereign, personal love – which gave me hope, which gives me hope, for myself, for others. God is so good and so kind, however much people can otherwise be just so very evil. It is such a crime to shatter innocence…

I say that about my friend, whose innocence had been ever so violently shattered, perhaps by his own brothers, his own father. The Lord does permit real evil to happen to us, though only so as to draw an incomparably much greater good out of the evil, all for our benefit and that of others. But I find it amazing that my innocence had not been shattered then, even as this friend later tried to murder and rape me. This wasn’t a coping mechanism which the angels brought to me. It was, instead, simply an active recognition of their presence. Love cuts through the mind-games of evil.

So, here we are, in media res of a friendship of a couple of years. In that time I came to know very quickly that there was something tangibly scary about his brothers and father. I had never even met them, nor his mother, no one from his family, besides him, ever. But I was warned again and again only to come there when they weren’t around. This friend of mine was always on the lookout for their arrival, and would grab me frantically, telling me to run with any noise he heard, his eyes filled with fear, his very self shaking with fear. I was scared, but I didn’t want to abandon him. Friends don’t abandon friends, do they? This was all so foreign to me, but I stuck with him.

We were the same age, though I don’t ever remember seeing him at any school. I asked him about that once but he just mumbled something incoherent and I thought I had better leave it alone. At any rate, whenever we would go on an expedition to look for innocent trouble, so to speak, climbing the steep banks of the Mississippi or investigating construction zones or rummaging through airport hangers, he would erratically run away. Perhaps he was afraid of being punished for making trouble. Perhaps he was afraid of real friendship.

bike stingray schwinn

He once stole my little Schwinn Sting-Ray – perhaps to run away from home – but then he returned it two weeks later, letting it drop on the driveway in a heap in front of me, under his feet, almost as a kind of challenge, looking at me defiantly. He insisted with a strained, high-pitched and loud voice that he wanted to go to our basement. “Basement…” thought I to myself. I hesitated, noting a sort of madness in his eyes, a madness I didn’t give much heed, however, since I wanted him to see I was looking indignantly at the condition of the bicycle. He ignored this, as if nothing material in this world had any relevance to anything. He was incredulous that I would waste time on the bicycle. Odd for a 7-year old, thought I, 7-year old that I was. He was hardly able to contain himself, glaring right into my soul, almost shrieking that we had to go to the basement… now! This scared me. I was hesitant.

toy chestBut, O.K., I told him to follow me, never having had experience with such behavior. He had never been inside my house, much less the basement. It was our custom to make trouble outside, after all. I must say that I didn’t trust him in the least at that moment. My adrenaline levels were maxing out as I led him down the steps, trying to think of how I would flip him if he should jump me, trying to knock me down the rest of the way. I pointed to the small chest of toys that I myself hadn’t looked at for a number of years, to make fun of it, but he didn’t even look in that direction. He was scanning the room for something else.

pianoI opened the cover to the keyboard of the small upright piano we had, explaining that some of the keys didn’t work. He slammed the cover back down shaking his head in disbelief at my lack of comprehension. He was mumbling something, but I couldn’t understand. He was wild-eyed. As he scanned the room again, I had a sinking feeling that something very bad, very evil was about to take place that very instant. I tried to ignore this, stupidly, opening the cover to the piano once again to see if there was any damage. That’s when I saw, out of the corner of my eye, that he was reaching out to the light-switch (what he had been looking for) with one hand, even while taking a switchblade out of his pocket with the other, flipping it open, lunging for me at the same time, wildly swiping with the blade this way and that.

windowThank God there was a tiny window high up in the adjoining laundry room, which let in just enough light to enable me to evade his slashing. What kind of life did he live that I didn’t know about that he was already so handy with a switchblade? thought I. Although I would often fight with my older brother (though only once sending him away in tears), this was something altogether different. If I ran, I would get stabbed in the back. That was certain. Going into battle was the only way. But I didn’t know how to jump into this fray without getting killed.

switchbladeAs he lifted the knife to his shoulder so as to plunge the blade into my chest, with both hands I somehow grabbed his knife hand, and immediately commenced smashing the back of his hand which still clenched the knife against the metal corner of the chest freezer we had next to the piano. This went on for some minutes and I was using up all my strength. He would switch from hitting me with his free hand to using both hands on his knife so as to try to stab me. He had an iron grip on the knife, the point of which, incredibly, he turned in on my forearms even as I continued to smash his knife hand against the corner of the freezer. I thought I was a dead man, that I was going to die right then and there in a pool of blood, and was asking God and the angels for help. Had I let up for one second, even he wouldn’t have been able to stop the knife going through my heart and out the back of my chest so great was the strain. I couldn’t believe I was holding my own, but I was dismayed that he didn’t seem to be tiring at all. Although I had to keep on fighting, this was secondary compared to — how to say it? — an evident awareness of the encouragement of my guardian angel. And I was encouraged that I would not die, that my angel was making sure of at least that.

freezerAt one moment, when he was punching me with his free hand, with me seeing stars, he dropped the knife on top of the freezer with the other. I must have fractured quite a few of the bones of his hand on the corner of the freezer by this time. I managed to push the knife behind the freezer, but that made him go into an absolute frenzy of hitting and punching, at least with his one good hand.

This wasn’t about wanting a sparring partner. I did that with my next-door neighbor to learn techniques. I’ll say it plainly: in the midst of this, he tried to rip my jeans off. At first, I thought he was after the few coins any seven-year old might have in his pockets. But then I was utterly stunned. This fight was not in the least about fighting, though I think he would have repeatedly stabbed me, right to death, if he had had the chance. This was, instead, about something that, at that time, I could not understand.

I was completely flummoxed. I listened, but I could not believe my ears. He was begging me again and again – with such a hellishly despairing desperation in his voice – begging me, half mumbling, half shouting, half shrieking, half crying out for help, begging me to hit him even as he continued to flail away with incredibly powerful punches. I mean, I thought I was holding my own pretty well, though I was stunned into hesitation not because of the violence, but because of this beastly spirit inside of this, this… 7-year old. What in the world had happened to him? Who was this? Despite all my naïveté, I understood that this was about the trauma that was happening to him at home, that he was somehow having me role-play himself while he played the part of, I don’t know, his brothers and/or father. This was crystal clear to me, at 7 years old. He was a predator in the making, right then, right there, at 7 years old.

And yet, he realized this as well, and hated it. He was fighting for his own life, flailing away in trying to get my attention as he was doing so. He was trying to let me know that this was his last-ditch effort to be understood. He was at the end of his life right then, right there. He knew it. He was screaming for help. Screaming. For help. He could not go on anymore, not like this.

In all of this – however filled with adrenaline I was, however stressed all my muscles, however turbulent my emotions, however many stars I saw under the continuous rain of blows – I continued to be immediately aware that my guardian angel was going to get me through this, that I wouldn’t die right then and there, that I needed only to persevere in the fight. The Lord let the horror take its course even while preparing to draw such good out of such evil.

Since the knife was now out of reach, I tried to back off and run up the stairs, which took another few minutes, during which escape, he tried to rape me – a 7-year old trying ever so violently to rape another 7-year old mind you – though he had never succeeded in pulling my jeans off nor did he ever lower his own trousers. This wasn’t about sex. Of course not. It was about him trying to figure out what happened to him at his own house. This was about his having been violently raped for the umpteen zillionth time surely just minutes before coming over to my house. Though a  predator in the making in this way, it seems to me that he was wanting to know if goodness and kindness was possible in this life, if mercy was possible, if hope was real, testing someone he trusted to know the answer, showing his worst to see what would happen. We’ve all done that, by the way, crucifying Jesus with original sin, with our own sin. Should you doubt that hope is what he was really looking for in all this mayhem, just keep reading. Meanwhile, I escaped.

I waited at the top of the stairs for him, utterly exhausted, not a little upset at such an experience, regardless of any feeling of security I had coming from my guardian angel. I was in pain with so many punches to my head. Some minutes went by. I was afraid for him. I was angry for him. What happened to him at home? But, all the same, he was the way he was, and I didn’t want to let him find his knife, but there was no way I was going down the steps again. My only objective now was to coax him outside of the house. I was on edge in anticipation of his coming up from the basement, but this time I had no fear. I had survived and knew I could do it again. He, of course, was trying to face what he had just done, terribly bewildered I’m sure. And I knew that. Eventually, he emerged from the darkness, asking, incredibly, to take the bike again as I ushered him to the outside.

His question about taking the bicycle angered me for some seconds and I let him know about it, asking him if he remembered what he had just done. But then, as we got outside… it happened… a terrifying-in-a-good-way rush of understanding, an enlivening dread terror before the magnificent, awesome, crushing weight of the glory of its truth, ripping me up into heaven even while shoving my face into the reality of man’s horrific situation before God all the more violently, a new kind of extreme sport for me. It was not a brightness. Yet, it was. The only way I can describe this glory is by praising the agility this truth had in letting itself be carried in all charity right into the midst of the hell I now saw. The living truth is powerful. It cannot be lessened, cannot be weakened. My guardian angel, it seems, was enlightening me about how he saw things.

The turmoil of the past few minutes was nothing compared to what I now beheld in front of me. Looking at this friend of mine, into his eyes… oh my… I can see them now, absolutely wide open, and him, sitting on the bike… disheveled, bleeding a bit, holding on to the handlebars of the bike with but one hand, holding the other hand, badly injured, in front of his chest that was heaving with hoarse, deep breathing, silent tears screaming with emotion streaming down his face, his whole body shaking quite violently, he being scared out of his mind at the hell he was facing in his life and the inadequacy of his own reaction to that hell, literally cringing away from himself as he sat there. He was suffering all of hell’s minions attacking whatever hope he had left. I hadn’t noticed his face so very much when he had arrived, being more interested, as I said, in the condition of my bike, which now I could not care less about, the same attitude he had when he had first arrived. Looking at him now just as intently as he was looking at me, I realized that I was afraid for his life as much as he was.

truck

His words about riding the bike, with his one remaining good hand, into the front of a speeding eighteen wheel truck just one street over as soon as he left me added nothing to what I could already see of his spirit. He was utterly shaken – a mere shell of a little boy – at a loss now as to how to keep any shred of conscience he still might possess, at a loss of how not to take his own life. And he was looking pleadingly into my eyes.

My sudden understanding in such horrific circumstances did not come from a been there, done that, condescending projection of self as is always hailed by psychologies of the lowest-common-denominator of self-referential stupidity. Instead, I understood because, then and there, I was drawn to put all this before the love of God that I had already known for years. God always uses our experiences – and I also had suffered some bad things – but what God uses is not anything that we suffer, but the hope we have gained in being brought into His love and mercy, perhaps also in conditions of suffering. He has us put others before that love and mercy, before that hope, not before our own ineptitude. This friend of mine knew all of my idiocy, and could not have cared less about that. He saw something else in me that he was trying to get to understand. The living hope which guides us is not distant, not cold, not ideological, not a mind game, not a coping mechanism, but is ever so personal, so… true, so… alive... It is a friendship with God that cannot but be manifested at such times despite ourselves. God wins out. Every time. If we are at all with Him.

We ended up in a long, but halting discussion, full of awkward silences, about family life and encouragement. The silences seemed so graceless precisely because they were filled with grace, leading, as they did, to honest, if only half completed remarks, which were cut off by his heart almost visibly being jammed hard into his throat with such a roller coaster of emotions.

It was one of the single most painful conversations I have had in my life, truly excruciating, because every word of understanding and advice that I was offering was coming to me for the first time, second by second, and not from me. I was very conscious of my inadequacy on the one hand, but had a very strong realization that my guardian angel was helping me on the other hand. The urgency of my listening to my guardian angel was wearing me out, even as my emotions and my brain were working way, way overtime. There was a life and death urgency and, of course, I myself had come literally within inches of having been stabbed to death, and raped. And I was physically exhausted.

But God is good. He made the conversation a success. My friend (and I still thought of him that way) didn’t want it to stop. He was changed by the time he left. Much calmer. Overwhelmed. He got what he was looking for. Hope. The problem was that he was headed straight back into hell. But he had a temporary reprieve. I only wish we had had the discussion firstly, skipping all the rest, but that’s rarely how things work. It is what it is.

Friends are not so easily offended when they can distinguish between being dissed as opposed to someone crying out for help, for life itself. We stayed friends, of sorts, in that seventh year of my life. And, as far as I know, he didn’t ride himself into a speeding truck, not that day.

There was nothing at all heroic on my part about any of this.If the Lord wanted to use me, that was up to Him. I had no say in the matter. And this gives one a certain freedom. I imagine that this is what makes martyrdom possible. It has nothing at all to do with our strength; everything is from the Lord, while the angels rejoice as they witness love that is stronger than death, a good introduction to heaven. This love is made clear with the forgiveness that the martyr holds out for the taking. It’s all about humble thanksgiving. Any of us could be in anyone else’s circumstances. There, but for circumstances and the grace of God go any of us. Anyone holding himself out to be better than others lies to God, to others and to himself, and is a danger to himself and others, giving himself a licence to kill or whatever else that is not new under the sun. I saw how much the Lord loves each of us.

My friend had gone back home, and, I’m sure, was subjected to more hell. Not good. And then it seemed like he disappeared from the face of the earth. I had asked some friends about him now and again, but they only repeated with much darkness and much fear that something unspeakable had happened in his house. None of them would ever say what it was. I don’t know to this day. Just the question would make them wide-eyed, frightened. Poor kid. I have to wonder if he had killed one or more members of his family. I had been thinking that if he wasn’t killed by his own family, or if he didn’t kill himself, he might have been snuffed out in a porno film. I don’t know, but as I myself was to find out, there was much of that going on in town, indeed, in that end of town, my end of town. But that’s for another article to follow in this series where you can read about how I myself became a kiddie-porno star at 12-13 years of age.

Think of this series of articles like moves in some sort of surreal chess game, but this isn’t a game, and it’s not surreal, though it may seem so at first to those who are playing opposite. They have lost the plot; they have destroyed souls; they; think that they themselves are irredeemably lost because of that, and so wreck havoc the way they always have, continuing to jack up the stakes to make it all the more interesting for themselves, holding the Church to ransom. They won’t stop at anything in what has developed into a lust for power, merely a game of pulling strings and watching the pieces move, but allowing themselves to be manipulated ever so very easily. They need to know that their victims might still have hope just as my friend was provided with hope seemingly impossibly in the midst of his living hell. They need to know that God, the Lord of History, gets His way, and that they can have hope in repentance before the Immaculate Conception’s Divine Son will indeed come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Amen.

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(1) Father Byers’ vocation: 28 months old

just me 05

Father George David Byers at 2-1/2 years old, in the Autumn of 1962, with my dad, who couldn’t get over the fish being as big as me. Little did he know, I had already been called by the Lord to become a fisher of men.

This is the first in a series which was introduced by Flores for the Immaculate Conception (utterly inappropriate edition); a word for the wise and not so wise.

A Cardinal, one of the more academic and brilliant Cardinals of the twentieth and now twenty first century, warned me that I was mightily responsible before our Lord for everything in my priesthood, and that I, more than others, will owe Jesus an explanation for the graces given to me at such an early age, and so I had better not do anything wrong, ever. He was adamant about this, really quite severe, angry even. Did I say he was a friend? I suppose we was aware at the time of my jaw-dropping ineptitude, or assumed it. I’m always happy to get a reprimand like that. I would have been pleased to have gotten that reprimand for graces given and received much earlier on in life. If the Cardinal had been in the habit of saying it, as am I, I’m sure he would have added for effect that Jesus is coming to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire.

I have, of course, done many and terrible things, that which has — as is the case with all of us — manifested the reason for the horrific torture and death of the Son of God. But what made this Cardinal so agitated was my first recollection of being called to the priesthood, which he had asked about. I guess he was expecting something about a certain yearning to serve the Lord in my teenage years, the usual story, blah blah blah. Instead, I told him about a particular Sunday during Mass, when I was but 28 months old, in 1962, early in the Summer, on a particularly hot morning. I remember everything from, say, after my first birthday, still in the crib. We had moved out of the first house of my short life when I was only about 1-1/2 years old, but years later, at about 4-1/2 years old, I was able to describe our previous house and back yard with great detail to my stunned sister.

Anyway, now at 28 months old in early Summer, it was the feast of the birthday of Saint John the Baptist, June 24, which was on a Sunday that year. The Mass vestments of the priest were white and gold. I’ve always remembered the vestments because the priest was having such trouble taking them off after the Gospel and before the sermon, as was the custom in those pre-Vatican II years, especially when it was hot. I would later take Saint John as one of two Confirmation names that I was anomalously allowed, the other being Saint John the Evangelist. Significant events in my life often “just happen” on this day, or August 29, the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist.

Anyway, the parish church on the North side of town was always jammed for Sunday Mass back in the day. If you were late, you had to stand in the back and along the side aisles. We were always just in time or a minute late, and so were often spread out all over the church. The job of the ushers was actually to usher late comers into this or that empty space here and there in the church, almost physically shoving people (sardines) down the pews in order to make room. But on this Sunday, we had arrived a little ahead of time, and so were seated together in what was the second to the last pew in back of the church, on the left side of the center aisle. The line up, beginning from the aisle, was, if I remember correctly, my oldest half-sister, then my mom, then me, my brother, my father and finally my other half-sister.

I was standing tippy-toe on the kneeler, holding on for dear life to the top of the pew in front of me, just able to look over the pew between the shoulders of those sitting in front of me. It was just after the Gospel, so everyone had just sat down and I was able to see up into the sanctuary at the other end of the Church. I think this was the very first time that I had been brave enough to do such gymnastics. One misstep and I would have been crumpled up in a heap of useless humanity under the pew. That would later happen to me a number of times in a number of churches. My first experience of extreme sports! But I had felt compelled to do this. I was obliged in love to find a way to look up to the far side of the church. The draw was irresistible.

As I was peering up into the sanctuary wondering what was going on, it happened, just like that. I beheld not anything I could see, but there was definitely Someone, as in God Himself, utterly majestic, with such radiance, however invisible, uncontainable by the universe, divine, and yet so very friendly, beckoning to me, taking me, drawing me to Himself. I felt His love. I was overwhelmed. I shut my eyes. Would this Someone go away if I shut my eyes? No, He was still there! If I can put 1960s Star Trek terminology on this, it was like a tractor-beam zeroed in on me, drawing me in, quite tangibly, in all love. That’s how I’ve remembered this gesture of the Most High from that day onward, throughout all the years of my life, until today, even if I would later fall into that which would bring me to find myself on my knees before Him in a confessional. “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned: I’ve been so impatient and judgmental and uncharitable. I even…”

The tractor-beam effect, all the stronger with God’s love as that love encompasses body, mind, soul, spirit, heart… It’s all just as real and happening now as it was then. God’s love is ever so simple, ever so gentle, ever so strong, enthusiastic, and thus able to shine even amidst what some might think is an unprepared psychological outlook of such an infant who has no given set of already experienced experiences to appreciate such an event. But any later developed psychology on my part could not add to or subtract from or change in any way that most subtle yet manifest love which I experienced. Love does that. Love can be noticed whatever is going on in our lives. Love doesn’t change — ever ancient, ever new — even if we change in whatever way. God is love. He is always wanting to draw us into His presence, squeezing us tight even in all His majesty.

I knew what He expected of me, that I was to be there, up in the sanctuary, at the altar, that that was what I was going to be about for the rest of my life. I was to be with that Someone. I didn’t know what the word “God” meant as a vocabulary word, but I did know this Someone, and this Someone knew little, tiny me. But I did not feel insignificant in the least. He loved me and does so still, even though I’ve often taken a misstep, crumpled up in a heap of useless humanity in my sin. He is good and kind. If anyone is religious, that is, giving back to God what is His due, that is, our worship, our love, through, with and in Jesus, it is because we are not objectified by the Lord – just another one of the trillions of people who have existed – but are loved personally by Him. Having a sense of this has us rush to Him, and has us want to share with others this greatest love in our lives.

church

The parish church used to have a massive high altar and altar rail with pulpit to the Gospel side. There were no weird cage pillars, no ironing board altar, no organ replacing the tabernacle, no piano or weird arrangement of pews, no Jacuzzi style baptismal font. Back in the day, the sanctuary was the SANCTUARY!

During this experience, I vividly remember that the elderly priest, now having finished the Gospel up at the Gospel-side of the altar, of course, was being helped by his deacon and sub-deacon down the steps of that ad orientem high altar (ripped out just a few years later in the mid-1960s). Half way down those steps, he stopped as if upset that he was forgetful, and took his maniple off, which was then taken from him and placed over the book on the altar. He then proceeded to take off his chasuble in a most clumsy fashion – really having a hard time of it – and was helped by both the deacon and sub-deacon. At one point he reached back to grab the altar to steady himself. They then helped him the rest of the way down the steps where he then went to the pulpit. As I say, this was all the custom in those days.

As he started his sermon, of all things for a mere infant, and while basking in the love of God for me, I felt compassion for this priest because of his being a priest (that is, someone who was up there where I was being called, nothing of a nothing that I was myself), and I knew that this was part of that to which God was calling me: solidarity with priests. I didn’t know that particular priest in the least at my 28 months of age. He could have been a saint. It’s just that in the face, so to speak, of such a personal love of God, anyone whomsoever is called by our Lord to be with Him up in the sanctuary needed compassion and understanding, for we are all just so absolutely nothing before God, though we are so very much loved by Him. This is what was also very much part of my own first understanding of the intervention of God in our world so tainted with original sin. There was no looking down on this priest. Just the opposite. It was awesome that he could be there at all. That’s where this Someone, God Himself was in all His majesty and love for us. That is the way I felt about my own call to be where he was, up in the sanctuary, in the service of this most awesome Someone. We are unworthy, but God is good.

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This vocation to be “up in the sanctuary” had nothing to do with elitism. Distances meant nothing. This Majestic Someone, God, was calling me, however far away I was in the very back of the church. I could have been outside for that matter. As I say, I had the sense that the very universe could not contain him. He could reach out to anyone, anywhere, at any time. Serving Him “up in the sanctuary” did not mean leaving anyone behind. It did not mean not sharing with others the greatest love of our lives, that Someone. Being “up in the sanctuary” also meant being with those for whom He had compassion as He did with me just then.

I apologize for making this seem all too complex for a tiny little boy, for this was not at all about discursive reasoning. It was a simple understanding of the way things are with Him who is love. I could go on and on describing what went on with this manifestation of totally undeserved love, not because it was complex, reasoned out, a mind game, but rather precisely because it was so simple, far reaching, all encompassing. Anyone who has experienced being drawn to that Charity who is Truth knows the possibility with any kind of purity of heart and agility of soul. Through no fault of their own, little kids have that. This was about being called to be in an active, loving reverence of Him who loves us so much that He wants us to be with Him. Everything made sense in that reality which alone is so very real. This call, this vocation, changed my perspective utterly. It has never left me.

Does any of this being singled out, and it was that, and I knew it, make me oh-so-special? Gaghh! No! Double-gaghh! Blech! Wrong! Not! The thought never entered my mind. He is the sovereign Lord of History. I have failed Him too many times to count, as did Judas, whom He also chose. His choice is mysterious. It’s entirely His choice, which we can argue is inappropriate, which I do argue is inappropriate, all uselessly, because it’s His choice, and He’s God. A sense of dependence on Him to draw good out of this choice was what I walked out of church with that day. It’s the same today. Anyone who depends on himself to bring that good out needs the confessional; anyone who makes it all about himself needs the confessional: a word for the wise and the not so wise.

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (utterly inappropriate edition)

flores7

These are weeds, I guess. As a little kid, I could easily pick such nuisance plants, put them in a jug of water, and give them to my mom. I wouldn’t notice the lack of grass whose place the weeds usurped. I would instead imagine that I was looking at miniature Snap Dragons, tiny Jack-In-The-Pulpits. My mom would smile, of course, regardless. I guess Jesus’ mom is like that. These “flowers” are in the backyard of the new rectory.

I have the intention of putting up some autobiographical posts in the next few days, bits of what long time readers of my other blogs have read before but said they would like to see again, but now tweaked for length and clarity. These are weeds, if you will, utterly inappropriate, it would seem, for the end for which they are intended, that is, as a kind of thank you to the Immaculate Conception, but which may just contain some beauty, a flower to be given to her, who is the mother of the One who is coming to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire.

This is a kind of response to my being dumbfounded the other day when doing a bit of investigation of the double murder in the Vatican last month. Discussions lasted 5 1/2 hours firstly in a restaurant and then in the home of one who knows more than just a bit about such things. I got the idea during those discussions that there are some few who had allowed themselves to get into a position of string pulling, but actually have only been manipulated into lusting for power, fulfilling in themselves what is predictable at the end of Romans chapter 1:

“They are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know the just decree of God that all who practice such things deserve death, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them” (Rom 1:31-32).

I commented that…

“Our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

How is it that such people have gone astray? How to call them back? Jesus called Judas “Friend” at the very moment of the kiss of betrayal and death, no? Since it is evident that the posts of this blog make their way also to these very people, let me invite them to see in the autobiographical articles to follow a pathway out of their own hell, even if they should think they are too far gone, that the way of Judas is the only way left for them now: It is not the only way remaining. I lay out part of my own life for you as a call to you to return to the Lord with repentance. It is not too late. Hell is forever. You don’t have to go there.

shepherd boyLet me tell about my vocation at 2 1/2 years old, about almost being raped and murdered at 7 years old, about being stalked at 8 years old, about starring as a 13-14 year old in perhaps the largest kiddie-porn operation in the history of such things right around the world to date, about the time I pointed a loaded rifle at another stalker when I was 15 years old. Let me tell you about how I forgive you on behalf of all who have suffered the kind of idiocy you vomit out on others, that is, if you want the forgiveness, because I think that that is what you think is impossible. Forgiveness is not impossible. It is yours for the taking. Do it. Jesus has the wounds to prove that He’s deadly serious about His love, yes, even for you. And in that case, of you accepting this offer of forgiveness, all thanks be to Jesus Christ, Son of the Immaculate Conception, who accepts such small and utterly inappropriate efforts such as these as flowers given to Him to give to His mother.

P.S. The last time I put this kind of thing up on a blog there were those who thought rather ill of me, calling me damaged goods. Instead, I suggest that one might find out how it is that the Lord was giving me from the very beginning some reference points by which I could understand the true state of affairs in the Church and the world today. That’s a strength. But truly the only far reaching strength comes with accepting a hand up from our Savior. Amen.

Update: A reader emailed this:

THE WEED

A weed is but an unloved flower!
    Go dig, and prune, and guide, and wait,
    Until it learns its high estate,
    And glorifies some bower.
A weed is but an unloved flower!

All sin is virtue unevolved,
    Release the angel from the clod—
    Go love thy brother up to God.
Behold each problem solved.
    All sin is virtue unevolved.

Poems of progress and new thought pastels by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company [1909].

At first glance, your beautiful weed seems to be a wild bergamot: Monarda fistulosa. If you bruise a leaf, does it smell minty? [No.] The Monardas are my ‘Sweet Mary’ flowers. Butterflies and hummingbirds love to feed on the nectar (I imagine the butterflies and hummingbirds as visitations from the faithful departed).

Update: With more research: I took a closer look at your photo with my magnifier and checked in my Peterson wildflower field guide … is this what you have in the garden? [Yes!] If it is, make of this what you will –it’s ‘Purple Archangel’. Only called dead nettle because it won’t getcha like stinging  nettle.

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Filed under Abuse, Father Byers Autobiography, Flores, Holy See