Category Archives: Flores

Flores for the Immaculate Conception (even tinier even more hidden edition)

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In just another few days it will be the great Solemnity of the Incarnation of our Lord, the annunciation to the immaculate virgin that she will be the Mother of God. It will be another opportunity, in a consecration to Jesus through Mary as was repeated throughout the decades, to once again ask my guardian angel to smack me down in such manner that I learn just a bit of humility before the living Sacred Mystery of our Lord’s love for us.

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (Hurry! He’s dying! edition)

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IMG_20170314_084735Just before the Big Storm slamming through the eastern U.S. right now, these itsy bitsies (some will say they are noxious weeds) were seen spreading out low on the ground in back of the rectory. They need a tiny bitty vase. O.K. Found one. An old super tiny Mass cruet. Perfect. Here’s the result in the tiny chapel on the gradines to the right side of the tabernacle. The wooden tabernacle-esque box to the far right contains the oils, the olea sancta for the various sacraments provided in the parish. I bought that box from Sacred Heart parish in Brevard. It’s from the old church, now a museum, in another part of town.

I have a confession to make regarding these flowers for the Immaculate Conception. Many, indeed most of them are simply pictures I take in the wild with the flowers being very much alive. Some of them can’t really be picked and transported as they would wilt and die no matter what one does (such as the showy lady slippers near the hermitage) even before they could be put in a vase and be put before our Lady. Then there are those flowers behind pasture fences or in the neighbor’s yard next to the rectory. Can’t pick those. Lots of times I’m just lazy and hope that the picture and good intention and writing in honor of our Lady will suffice. It’s only on occasion that I actually pick the flowers, throw them in some water in a vase, and put them before a statue of our Lady somewhere in the rectory. I’m bad and evil. However, I would like to start anew with this earnest edge of this kind of death offering. When I can, when I push myself a bit, it’s a joy to do this.

That bit about a “death offering” of flowers in a vase is a reference to that style of art called “still life,” with life that is still being at least on the verge of death: picked flowers, picked fruit, caught fish, hunted and still bleeding wild game, etc., all useful or beautiful in their own way, but with an edge of death on all of it, that is just now about to lose its beauty, so… hurry! In Europe this is called “nature death” or natura morte. We like to think that the flowers we provide are full of life, but instead, if we’re honest, we know that death is just around the corner.

The reality is that Jesus picks us as if we were flowers to give to His dear Mother. Dying to ourselves so as to live only for God is rather traumatic. Our Lady intercedes for us: “Hurry! He’s dying!” But in dying to ourselves, letting go of the pride of life in this world, falling into the grave, has us look forward to the resurrection, when the beauty of God’s life within us will never fade, will always shine in full beauty.

We’re picked by our Lord when we go to Confession, go up to Holy Communion. He loves us, and rushes to show us to His, to our Mother.

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (dumpster invisibility cloak edition)

This is the gorgeous view one has from the dumpster at the soup kitchen (now so very far from the parish), where I stopped in the other day (not inside the dumpster this time!) while doing my rounds in Western North Carolina, finally getting the vehicle back from the dealer after using a loaner car for almost five weeks (because of a catastrophic failure of the seat belt).

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been to the soup kitchen. Many of the same people were there both in the kitchen (including my old neighbors who kind of run the place on Tuesdays) and in the dining room. On the one hand, the greetings in the kitchen were raucous, and I was invited to become a regular participant on M.C.’s local radio talk show (too far!). I was quite shocked that I was totally invisible to those in the dining room. Totally. It was like I was wearing some sort of invisibility cloak.

If society in general chooses not to see certain people, those certain people can choose not to see anyone right back, right? That runs so deep inside the human psyche and that’s even more effective than an invisibility cloak.

The Immaculate Conception chooses to see us while we are in the dumpster for whatever reason. We see her beauty and she sees us, wants to see us, is always solicitous for our welfare with her maternal love, wanting us to know her dear Son all the more not only here in this vale of tears and invisibility but also in heaven.

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (entrenched with dog-tags in the field hospital of the Church edition)

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Gardeners usually leave the dog tags and hospital wrist bands on their roses so that they know what they are as the years go by, so many dozens of bushes do they have. I have just one that a reader sent in just now, so, I figured removing the tags would be O.K.

After soaking the roots for a couple of days, and after Communion Calls yesterday, with just minutes left to sunset, I borrowed a shovel from a neighbor who also gave me some miracle grow soil to put under the roots. As night fell wood shavings meant for Laudie-dog were piled around the transplant-shocked rose “sticks” to protect it from frost and drying out. Someone wondered what the flowers will look like. Behold:

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The neighbors also gave me some chemical fertilizer set for a three month time release program. But here is where I always fail as a gardener. It’s either too much or too little fertilizer, burning the plant or starving it. Luckily, some Floridians with garden know-how will be coming back for the Summer after another month or two when the roots are starting to get a good hold. Some field hospital work will be necessary I’m sure.

And if you want my opinion, I’ll give it to you: One of the best ways to heal wounds of being away for a long long time from the Church is to give a flower to the Immaculate Conception. Every field hospital ought to encourage this method of healing. This is the truth. The Church is about the Holy Family. Such a simple action cannot but put one back onto the right way. It’s so easy to dismiss, isn’t it, as pious piffle, no? That’s because people are afraid of this most effective medicine, scared to death, scared that this will change their lives, scared to be healed. “Not now! We’re scared to give Mary a flower!” they scream as they run away into the psych ward of the field hospital. But, don’t be afraid. Jesus’ good mom will help you. She helped me. And I’m a most sorry case. It’s a joy to give a flower to the Immaculate Conception.

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (Water bucketing preparation edition)

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Two full days of waterboarding the roots of what looks to be a mere bundle of dead sticks. A dear reader sent in these sticks with a promise that all would be well. I can’t imagine. Not having a green thumb, I put them in a green bucket. That’ll make all O.K.!

It seems like the beginning of Spring here. This is next to Mary’s statue at the rectory:

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (The Jews will survive edition)

Update: This post in the Flores series was originally subtitled as (Tooth of the Lion edition), but that needed an edit for the encouragement of our soldiers in Kabul, Afghanistan, who are just now reading the post. Here’s the deal: Saint Paul says that the Jews as a group will convert after all the gentiles convert just before the second coming of our Lord Jesus. This means that any attack on the Jews as a group, while doing damage, as with the Nazis, will not at all bring the Jews to and end. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah, still standing, will make it so in His great love for them (for us [I’m Jewish]). But this shouldn’t embolden anyone to think that any particular place is somehow protected by that Lion, as no one said anything about exemptions of places or numbers of people for that matter. Jerusalem was leveled in the first century. That very Lion of the Tribe of Judah was put to death. But… but… He rose from the dead, always the last One still standing. That should give attackers pause, and bring them to conversion.

Original post:

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LEODandelion = dent-de-lion = Tooth of the Lion. The name seems to come not from the flower so much as the leaves, with their jagged saber tooth appearance.

I’ve had three experiences with lions (panthers) in the wild, all within 100 miles of the parish here in the mountains. Whenever I hear talk of lions, I think of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Christ Jesus, who is the only one standing after any battle. I remember someone once objected that the lion in this picture couldn’t be Jesus since he is scarred. But of course, we only have to remember that Jesus, also risen from dead bears the scars of the battle upon Himself. He won the battle by dying instead of giving up; He won the battle by then rising from the dead; He won the battle by bringing His Immaculate Virgin Mother, soul and body into Heaven; He won the battle by bringing the bloodied martyrs to Himself; He wins the battle when you and I go to Confession.

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (Thank you ever so very much, Immaculate Conception! edition)

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My spirit is as light as a fluffy dandelion being given to Jesus for the Immaculate Conception. Our Lady has granted me this very day a great favor, two, in fact. I feel like a little kid before her, my spirit rejoicing. I’m bursting with joy, smiling from ear to ear.

byers dance paul vi audience hallMentioned in the conversation with the Bishop, who called me up, and with the Bishop bringing up the topic, was my thesis on the Immaculate Conception and my need to make a popular version of it. This is a sign, I believe from our Lady, that NOW’s the time! This will be the little flower I give to her through Jesus, if this is made possible by the providence of her Divine Son. I again dance with joy. Do I ever stop?

But that was just one thing. The other is… well… what a gift! I’ll write about that as time goes on. I’m speechless. I too, must be loved by the Immaculate Conception, and by her Divine Son. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Mary.

Dance dance dance dance dance…

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (Lourdes grotto ice-roses edition)

Re-Post: Today’s the Feast of our Lady of Lourdes!

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Back in the day, when I was a permanent chaplain in Lourdes, France, I took this picture with my el-cheapo digital camera. It was February, the first day following weeks of 24/7 sub-freezing temps with ice and snow precipitating down on the pilgrims daily. As you can see, the ice and snow are no match for the gentlest of petals when it is time to give due honor to the Immaculate Conception at the grotto. Here’s a view from above the grotto, and, yes, this is also a color picture. It was just that dark and dreary and ferociously cold for weeks:

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However icy conditions might be among the hearts of men, crucifying our Lord Jesus, the fire of ardent charity was alive with maternal warmth in the Immaculate Heart of His Virgin Mother. The clarity of her vision, the agility of her soul and her purity of heart let her know clearly what it is for men for hell to freeze over, also hellish. She was sorrowful that her Son should be treated so terribly. She was sorrowful that she herself had to be redeemed, though she was never touched even by original sin. Her sorrow was an act of perfect intercession for us, mediatrix, therefore, of all graces that she is. Saint John Paul II used the phrase “co-redemptrix” dozens of times, I think 29 times at last count. This refers simply to how appropriate it was in justice that one of us who is not divine should ask for such graces perfectly, graces coming directly from her Divine Son. Thank you, Blessed Mother, for being a good mother to us. Continue to show yourself a mother to us!

Montra te esse matrem!

GENESIS THESIS GEORGE DAVID BYERS

IVE GENESIS IMMACULATE CONCEPTION CONFERENCE 7 FEBRUARY 2013

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (On the march to the pigsty edition)

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Immaculate Mary had golden flowers on her feet.

Just a few days later, the one lonely flower is now joined by dozens, giving me the immediate impression that they are marching together with determination to their goal of giving honor to the Immaculate Conception.

vierge-courronnee-de-lourdesOf immediate recall is the Crowned Virgin in the esplanade of Lourdes. She is on the march, determined, without distraction, on her way to bring about a bit more honor for her Divine Son. She is marching in the direction of what today we ever so nicely call “The Grotto,” but which back in day was a pigsty of pigs and pig manure.

She was determined to see “The Little S#i+” as the entire town called Saint Bernadette, since this feisty, devout girl was the daughter of “The S#i+ Family”, for they lived in the room adjacent to the police stable manure pile.

Having been a “permanent chaplain” for the Sanctuaries I sometimes think of the apparitions. Having written my doctoral thesis on Genesis 2–3, with emphasis on Genesis 3:15, such thoughts often concentrate on the fact of the Immaculate Conception, and our Lady saying that she IS the Immaculate Conception. But, taking a step back, I see that now as being just a part of a bigger picture of the purpose of Our Lady in appearing to Saint Bernadette. Sure, there is the thing with the water reminding of Baptism, etc., and on and on. O.K. But, putting it all together, years later, I’m thinking that Lourdes is very much about calling priests back to their priesthood by having them recognize that Jesus’ good mom is in a special way the good mother of Jesus’ own priests.

The pigsty aspect of this is significant. She wanted a chapel built there. In a chapel, what do you find? Who? Jesus. But also His priests who offer the Holy Sacrifice by which they are taken out of pigdom and brought now without stain to the Kingdom of the Heavens. She wanted the priests to lead processions, which is very much the image, then, is it not, of the Good Shepherd guiding the flock. She wants to re-introduce priests to who they really are, their identity in the One, High Priest, Christ Jesus, her Divine Son. Why? So that they might assist with the Sacraments what was symbolized with the whole thing with the water. We all need purity of heart and agility of soul, trust in following the lead of the Holy Family, of Jesus’ good mom, of Jesus. When going to Lourdes – or wherever – it would be good to mention we knucklehead priests in prayer. Thank you for that. Hail Mary…

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (all alone volunteer edition)

img_20170206_110336This beauty is all alone in the Rectory yard, what my neighbor in Transylvania county calls a “volunteer,” meaning that it just comes up, all alone, who knows how, not having been purposely planted there but certainly welcome for whatever it would like to contribute to our situation in this otherwise darker world of ours.

We might feel that we are sometimes planted by our Lord in such a mysterious way that there otherwise seems to be no rhyme or reason to it, that we are alone, that there is no one else in the world who understands us, that we are somehow volunteering for who knows what reason as it seems no one quite cares if we were here in the first place and would be just as happy or happier if we weren’t where we seemingly just happen to be.

And then Jesus picks us, as it were, so as to give us to His, to our blessed Mother. And then all of a sudden everything makes sense, and we belong, and are not alone, and we always did belong, and we never were alone. And we are all the more appreciated now for having made it faithfully through the circumstances we were in. And as we are lifted up, we look around and see so many other flowers all around us. They were there all the time, giving us support that we took for granted, what with, because of there proximity, an abundance of honey bees and dragonflies and all such creatures so useful to all flowers. And then we realize how silly we were, hearing a bit of murmuring among the other flowers: “How come that flower gets to be singled out, unlike us who are just in the herd of other flowers?” And on and on it goes until we reach, please God, heaven. But, really, Jesus and Mary are already with us now. All things happen best in God’s time. We need but be simply faithful in whatever circumstances we are in, trusting that our Lord knows best. He does it for His good mom.

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (finite / infinite / analogy edition)

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In the backyard of the rectory it seems that there are tens of trillions of these flowers bursting through the daily frost, manufacturing zillions of seeds for even more – uncountable? infinitely so? – flowers. And hey, this is just the tiny backyard.

Whatever our concept of infinite is, it is a concept limited by our pea brains, my pea brain, your pea brain. We are finite. God is infinite. We cannot fully understand God, comprehend Him. But that doesn’t mean it’s all useless, that we should just give up.

We need a bit of humility before God, who is infinite even while we are finite. There is mystery, the Sacred Mysteries. These are not the mysteries of Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Edward Stratemeyer, at the end of which we say, “Aha!” having figured it all out. No, this is about mysteriousness in the most enthralling way, where we never fully comprehend by way of our brains, our knowledge, the mere result of our weak epistemological processes just who God is. Here’s what Saint Paul does with this:

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Note his reverence before the Sacred Mysteries: he is kneeling. This is personal. Not mere brain work. He speaks of love surpassing knowledge. I wish people would just take a breath and calm down and try to take that in. This is consonant with another exclamation of his:

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

“Face to face” is personal, involving love. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be right in speaking about God. But we do this according to our own means of doing so with our little pea brains, that is, by way of glorious analogy. Jesus used analogy all the time: What is the Kingdom of God like? To what shall we compare it? And on He goes with the parables. It is like… And that’s O.K. That’s the way we are created. There is nothing wrong with that. That’s for now. It will be different in heaven. We will see God directly… no need for the analogy thing… beyond such “knowledge”… immersed in love. God is love. Wonderful. Infinite. Not limited to our pea brains, our mere reckoning, our calculation, our control. That’s great. God is who He is whatever we would otherwise have to say about it, and He draws us to Himself.

shepherd boyThis should leave us in humble thanksgiving, the finite before the infinite. And it’s fun to use analogies to remind us of God’s infinite love for us, like giving one of gazillion-illion flowers to the Immaculate Conception by way of Jesus as a sign of filial love. By the way, whenever I insist on our finiteness, you know, the ole pea brain thing, sharply emphasizing our lack of capacity to take in all that which is, who is infinite, I always include myself and use myself as an example. Always. But even a donkey priest can give a flower to the Immaculate Conception, through Jesus, of course.

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (Forsooth! edition)

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Forsooth! “For Truth!” The Forsythia are blooming at the parish church! So, I guess that’s the end of Winter. That was quick. Forsythia are always the first ones to explode as prophets of the coming Spring. I hear there is another Winter storm coming. Forsythia, for their part, don’t care. They expect more Winter when they put out their first blossoms. Forsythia are Soothe-Sayers. They tell the truth whether anyone contradicts them with seemingly important facts or not, whether anyone mocks them as liars or not. They are simply the first and thus put themselves in harm’s way, the injurious ways of those who are merely followers, those who cower behind what is accepted by most people, but those who are never the first in line to tell the truth. Forsythias ignore their cowardice.

The Immaculate Conception spoke the truth about God’s incarnation in Jesus Christ her Son regardless of the lesser among us who would mock her for doing so. Take, for instance, her Magnificat in Luke 1:46-55, the perfect application of Hannah’s Song of thanksgiving for Samuel in 1 Samuel 2:1-10.

A biblical professor of mine years ago said that Mary was too poor and therefore too ignorant [!] to be able to come up with such an academically perfect application of a Hebrew text in her own day. Impossible, they say. Ignorant Jewess, they say. That’s balderdash, on so many levels.It seems to me that, instead, such commentators, so stuck on their own experience in life, have zero purity of heart and zero agility of soul, and so must attack the spiritual realities, the magnificence, of Jesus’ good mom, projecting the filth of their own souls into her, that is, in their own twisted minds. Too bad, that. But Mary doesn’t care about that. She intercedes for them as well, though accepting what must be in justice when mercy is provided but rejected.

It is a good idea to pay attention to the Forsythia among us, wherever we might find them, however unlikely they might be, you know, like someone who is poor, someone who is “ignorant,” someone who is happy to sing the Magnificat daily. There are many saints all around us, speaking the truth when it is unpopular, when it is not yet seen by the masses, you know, spoken by people who are “ahead of their time.” But truth is with us always.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.

From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.

He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly farmer’s foot.

He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (cycling through the cycle edition)

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In the dead of winter one might be a potential flower. But that part of the cycle is also just fine for the Immaculate Conception.

When I was a kid, I would also collect just such things and put them in a crazy looking tall clay vase I made in the art room at school and then give the whole ensemble to my mom who would put it somewhere in the kitchen or on the dining room table, commenting that I had such a good imagination.

She was very generous in her compliments, but not to be outdone by our Lady, who knows how to encourage us even more, having us collect such things in good friendship with her Son. We give the flowers to Him to give to her. You remember the scene:

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (cold, dark and stormy night edition)

immaculate-mary-statue-rectorySeen on the front steps of the rectory this cold and dark and post-storm early morning, the flowers popping out from underneath the snow (just above her right hand).

She very much likes to shower graces upon us as snow by way of her intercession for us, her perfect petition under the cross to be in solidarity with her divine Son, who himself gives us of those graces directly, of course, as that involves the indwelling of the Most Holy Trinity.

For those more well-read than this most un-well-read priest in the world, the “dark and stormy night” thing might call to mind Sir Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton. The problem I have is that that actually sounds like good writing to me, though others think it to be vomitingly melodramatic. For me, it congers up two other images. One is of Snoopy sitting atop his dog-house with a typewriter, forever and repeatedly beginning a new novel starting with the words “It was a dark and stormy night.” The other is most magnificent, that of Mount Sinai at the giving of the ten commandments:

“There were peals of thunder and lightning, and a heavy cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. But Moses led the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stationed themselves at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was all wrapped in smoke, for the LORD came down upon it in fire. The smoke rose from it as though from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently” (Exodus 19:16-18).

The dark, the storm, the earthquake, all of it was repeated on Mount Calvary, where stood our Lady of the Snows. Nevertheless, I still carry this with me on this silly earth:

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Perhaps, nevertheless, our Lady will have me, among so many others, burst forth as a flower in honor of her Immaculate Conception. That would be totally cool.

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (Totus Tuus! Yikes! edition)

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Captured while assiduously hunting for flowers for the Immaculate Conception near Holy Souls Hermitage some years ago. I remember being so very happy to have found this for Mary. It was Jesus’ gift to me to give to her. That’s how that works.

Short version that we might repeat so very frequently:

“Jesus, I am all thine
and all that I have is thine
through Mary our most holy Mother.”

Of course, just because we say that doesn’t mean that it is so. It is, in fact, more of an offering of the way you agree things should be rather than the way they are. It’s kind of like a challenge to Jesus in honor of his mother:

“Go ahead, then, and take on this heap of weakness and ignorance and decrepitness and see if you can make me all thine with all that I have, making Mary my mother so that she is our mother and I am your brother, in fact, me looking through you, with you, in you to our heavenly Father: ‘Abba, Father’; I agree to whatever you need to do to achieve that end, whatever it takes.”

And as the angels surveil such a scene, they also take it as a challenge to them:

“Whatever it takes, huh? O.K. He said it. Let’s get to work.”

One might well add to one’s protestations of “Totus tuus” a Yikes! to punctuate it.

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (On the High Places edition)

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At the very top of the world (in my parish anyway), looking across a good half dozen mountain ranges, there is this sight to see on the Communion Call route, offering a rather unique “flower” to the Immaculate Conception regarding the purpose of the birth of her Divine Son. Yikes! Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Mary.

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (Jesus came to us on purpose edition)

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There are many iconic scenes for the Holy Family at this time of year. A reader sent in a version of this with rays coming from Jesus within Mary. But Jesus came in such a very hidden way. The little boy is unsure if he should reach down and pick a flower to give to the Immaculate Conception but there are many right at his feet. Joseph is purposeful. The donkey is content.

Our heavenly Father made it possible for the Holy Family to survive, but just barely. Immediately all the male children 2 years old and under would be killed and the Holy Family would be thrown into what must have been an excruciatingly impoverished and violent and continuously humiliating exile in an enemy country where everyone spoke a different language. The Poor Man would then die 33 years later, ripped to shreds on the cross, all his blood drained from him, the Lamb of God. Yes, God knows what goes on down here on this earth. He came among us on purpose. He doesn’t like it when children can no longer cry for the trauma they’ve been through. I have to wonder if Jesus himself was not for a while in that state. But he came to stand in our stead and have the right in his own justice to have mercy on us, to take us finally to heaven. Such was his purpose.

I know someone who spends all his time trying to figure out who’s who in Aleppo and beyond. I can only imagine the thousand levels of misinformation and disinformation so complex and so convincing that not even the primary players know what to think anymore. Take a gander at even just the sidebar on this Wikipedia page (Battle of Aleppo (2012-2016)) and tell me that it’s not edited by professional psyops guys. The sidebar comes up first for those using small screen devices. Mind boggling…

Meanwhile, I can’t imagine what Israel is thinking about Iran, the latter knowing its nuclear weapons days are numbered, and Israel wondering if Iran is going to throw at them what it can before 20 January 2017. Putin, who’s causing a lot of this, must be frantic.

The nations rage on, but Mary’s Little Boy Child is the Lord of History. This Saturday night, Christmas Eve, is the day of the lighting of the first Hanukkah candle. The Lumen Gentium, the Light of the Nations has arrived to make us living stones in the Temple which is his body (Ephesians 5:30). A flower for his mother is in order. This was taken just the other day, after long hard freezes for so long, impossibly still fresh…

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (Tiny shrine of our tiny church edition)

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The angels aren’t so much pleased with such as display as this, however beautiful and appropriate and however much such flowers were created by Mary’s Son for her; they are even more pleased when we ourselves are those flowers before her, the grace of her Son blossoming within us. Yes, then, I think the angels are very much pleased indeed.

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (Holy bribe / unholy extortion edition)

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Yes, if you look hard in this post-very-hard-frost December picture, you can see one flower for the Immaculate Conception. Perhaps I can offer that up to our Lady in honor of all that happened yesterday, which was the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. There were mañanitas at 5:00 AM followed by Mass at 6:00 AM, then a blue-lighted procession from one end of the town to the other (thanks to our great Police Force) at 4:30 PM, Mass again at 6:00 PM with a baptism, dance troops from central Mexico after Mass offering a dance which was done as a sacrificial gift to our Lady in that region from time immemorial, the dance taking hours and done all along the route to the Basilica from way out in the mountains, truly exhausting in every way for the dancers.

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But not only, the founding Matriarch of the Parish, Miss Rose Mary died, almost 90 years old. What a happy, holy death with all the sacraments and Papal blessings and indulgences with her family around her. This is such a consolation when someone is so very eager to go to meet Jesus, someone who was so very dedicated to our Lady, to the rosary. God speed!

Meanwhile… also yesterday, a bribe and even a reminder of criminal extortion arrived in the mail. The criminal extortion thing is about someone thinking they are clever in knowing that I have a shadow. Wow! That was hard! Ha ha ha! It’s not like I haven’t been telling the world about it for, like, decades! Ha ha ha! I will introduce them to Mr O’Keefe at Main State (Dept. of State) in Foggy Bottom. Ha ha ha! They will find out what a felony does to them when they find themselves surrounded by bars, for years. How cool to be subjected to blackmail when no one involved is guilty of anything. Hah! Meanwhile, my shadow (he and I now becoming friends) sent in $100.00 as a donation to the parish. I’ll sign that and give it to our secretary to put through the Church bank account. He’s the one who called me up, telling me about the extortion, though I also got a call from the extortionist. We both had a good laugh. There is nothing to extort about. Ha ha ha!

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The bribe is actually much more intriguing:

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Great! I’ll see if I can update this post a bit later with results of some target practice. I need to practice some new grip styles and see if that helps.

Update: It was another hectic day visiting a rehab, then a widow (more about that later), other errands and then my old neighbors at the hermitage. It was pretty rainy, so I didn’t get much practice in there. And night was falling just then. But those are not excuses. I mean, when something bad happens, it won’t be in perfect conditions, right? I’m pretty useless after I think more than a month of no practice whatsoever. The one good point is that I’m not complacent. I’ll have to put in more effort, as you can see:

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So, that’s all to the left and mostly South, but bringing them up a bit. Then, attempting to correct the grip, I only succeeded in messing things up, but they were at least more evenly distributed around the center though still all to the South:

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Don’t be scandalized that a priest likes the challenge of learning how to kill paper and little adhesive dots! It’s just that my background is rather, um, varied. I haven’t forgotten about writing about a priest and guns. I’m thinking, praying.

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (Clergy 10x and almost 10x edition)

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A priest who sometimes reads this blog stopped by the other day, going way out of his way to get this rose at the local supermarket as a gift for the Immaculate Conception. He was happy to note that he was greeted with enthusiasm at the supermarket with “Hi Father!” and “Hello Father!” “You just don’t get that where I’m from,” he said. By way of reprimand, he mentioned that I haven’t been putting up many flowers for the Immaculate Conception lately and wanted to show me how it’s done. :¬) I will take his reprimand most seriously, since one just doesn’t happen to stop by this parish, as we are at the very end of the backsides of the beyonds, one of those “you can’t get there from here” places. I’m sure our Lady looks upon his efforts with benevolence. He’s right on target.

At Walmart the other day, at the sports counter, getting some ammo, I met perhaps one of the most ferocious prosecutors and then hanging judges ever from Florida, now just retired and moved to WNC. He was stunned that a priest would be buying ammo but was, I must say, very pleased about it all. We have some common friends and we will surely meet again. I have some questions for him. Anyway, he made the rather snide remark that he thought that priests were only to be found in the flower section of the store. Ha ha. I’m happy to jolt him out of his misconceptions. There are very few priests and seminarians I know who are not armed to the teeth. All of them, and in my experience only them, by the way, are the ones who would be such good sons of our heavenly mother as to give her a flower. Very manly, I reckon. Very priestly.

Speaking of ammo, I was able to get a few rounds off the other day, getting just a little bit tighter pattern. A couple early strays, but then closer. Only one kill, but even that wasn’t 10x. I’m far from being a good shot. Still pitiful. And I gotta work on mechanics. I’m still waiting for our new deputy sheriff (also retiring to WNC) to put in a home shooting range so that there will be a place close by to get in some practice. You can never be too practiced. I’m still left and to the South.

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Oh, and is that offensive, putting this in a post about giving flowers to the Immaculate Conception, you know, all this terrible violence and stuff like that? I reckon not, for the reason that self-defense of self and others is a positive contribution to the virtue of justice. Mercy is built on justice as Saint Thomas Aquinas has it in his commentary on the Sentences. Self-defense for self and others is mercy, to put it technically, a potential part of the virtue of justice. The provision of justice is also mercy. As Saint Thomas More said, “If I am threatened with justice, then I am not threatened.” The one who massacres innocent church goers or supermarket shoppers is not threatened with justice either, for he expects this. Justice is not revenge. It is not cruel. It is not somehow un-Christian. Self-defense of self is good. Defense of other innocent people is really good. It is also what some priests who give flowers to the Immaculate Conception might also do.

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