Category Archives: Guns

Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Father Kenneth Walker edition)

father walker fssp

  • Note the smile of joy and peace on face of Father Walker, and that of our Lady.
  • Note the Rosary in the hand of our Lady. I’m guessing he put that there.
  • Note the red rose of martyrs in the hand of our Lady. I’m guessing he put that there.

After writing this post the other day – (USCCA exam results: Master Defender. BUT that’s never good enough) – a reader sent me a link to the very detailed obituary of Father Kenneth Walker, and offered to provide the USCCA package for close-quarters defense training that may have been a help to Father Walker in his effort to save his fellow priest. You’ll remember that Father Walker lost his life in doing just that. Of course, when it’s our time to go there’s no arguing about it with the Lord. Of course, that doesn’t mean that prudence is no longer a cardinal virtue. Just because you train doesn’t mean that you’ll be successful. But that doesn’t mean you don’t train.

murderer of Father Kenneth Walker

  • Note the smirk on the murderer of Father Walker. The perp was only just sentenced to life in prison a few weeks ago (April 2017).

Some things I note from the obit of Father Walker:

  • Lots of significant dates happen on the 13th of the month, Fatima anniversaries.
  • Both my dad and Father Walker died on the same day, June 11.
  • In looking at the locations and dates… if, as a kid, he ever went to confession and I’m guessing he did, and if, as a kid, he ever served Holy Mass and I’m guessing he did, he may well have been a penitent of mine and served Masses for me.

I’m forever praying that those boys who serve Holy Mass for me will, according to the Lord’s will, receive a call from Jesus to become priests. I wonder if I prayed for a youngster called Kenneth. I’m guessing I did.

UPSHOT: Prayer for good, holy, strong vocations to the priesthood, young men who will be priests with the very Heart of our Lord Jesus, who will be good sons of Immaculate Mary. Hail Mary…

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Filed under Flores, Guns, Vocations

USCCA exam results: Master Defender. BUT that’s never good enough.

USCCA Master Defender

I like that: Master Defender. That would be “Alexamenos” in Greek, you know, the donkey boy who worshiped the crucified donkey in that ancient graffito of the Imperial School in Rome. I wrote a novel of some 750 pages about someone named after him. I’ll have to revise that and publish that for real.

Anyway, O.K. So, this is all a brilliant marketing ploy, with the USCCA (of which I’m a platinum member thanks to a wonderful reader) betting that you’re going to fail some of the questions and then they can more convincingly sell you on their training packages which look to be worth the cost regardless. If you fail the questions, you can even retake the exam right away. I didn’t need to. I got all the questions right. Some were a little tricky. BUT, I agree with the BUT. One has to stay sharp. Especially about the “close-quarters” bit. Even though I practice with scenario based events, they are all so far at a distance as distance shooting under pressure is more difficult. But very close quarters training is also necessary. They are right.

And this goes for the spiritual life as well. Things are tough, are they not, when Satan is on the attack and we’re befuddled and cognizant of how much nothing we are, you know, a close quarters fight like that? That’s when training comes in handy, that is, training in God’s love, which cuts through Satan’s mind games as God’s love is on another level altogether and is stronger than our weakness, our befuddlement, stronger than death. Saint Paul speaks of us carrying treasures in ultra-weak earthen vessels, so easily shattered, yet giving us the dignity of being called the very tabernacles of the Holy Spirit, tabernacles that can have the purity of heart and agility of soul to follow the Holy Spirit whithersoever He would bring us. And He does bring us unscathed right through the worst battles with Satan, that is, if we have no fear. Why have fear. Love conquers all fear. The Holy Spirit brings us right across the battle ground of Calvary in close quarters battle with all of hell broken out, right there to Jesus on the Cross, to be with Him in all solidarity as He is in solidarity with us, watching, praying, as He draws others to Himself also with our intercession.

In the spiritual life we can never rest on our laurels (as we have none, as Jesus is our Savior). It’s misleading to give ourselves titles like Master Defender or to guess at what level in the spiritual life we are at such as by saying “I’m in the dark night of the soul now!” That’s all totally self-defeating, as that is giving into pride and emphasizing ourselves and making of ourselves our own saviors. How many want their spiritual directors to say, “Ooooh! You are now at this level!” That makes the spiritual director into a kind of palm reader and puts the directee at risk of going to hell. That would be as bad as the USCCA telling me that I’ve arrived (which they didn’t). I’m very wary of wearing that badge of Master Defender as all I did was answer questions the right way. There’s a difference between sitting in a chair and calmly answering questions on the one hand and then on the other hand being in the heat of battle when you don’t have the luxury of thinking things out. In the spiritual life, with God’s love saving us, we can be solidly before Him even in the dark night of the soul (however dark, however befuddling), and know always and be grateful that He alone is our Savior. Jesus is the one. He is the Master Defender of our souls.

P.S. Of course, our Guardian Angels bear the title of Master Defender.

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Preparing the shot that can’t be taken: “Terrorism” hits my parish territory

juice bottles

Recently I was at the hermitage for a quiet day, part of which was putting out a few rounds from the Glock into my homemade dot targets. The pattern was about the same as it had been previously at 27 feet, all 15 rounds in the space of the palm of a hand. But this time it is the same number North or South, East or West, which isn’t anything to be proud about, as there should be no directions, just 10-X every time, right? But at least the grip is as it should be with no predominance in any direction.

This was all done with what my practice had morphed into, that is, looking away from the target, spinning about at the screams of some imagined altercation while assessing the situation (type of threat, delivery system of the threat, opportunity), unholstering the gun, shouting some commands drawn from that assessment, drawing the gun up (it already being chambered) and pulling the trigger as soon as the front iron post comes into view IF that’s what the assessment still entails, what with circumstances changing even radically every nanosecond, including what’s next to or behind the target. These were all double taps.

target smiley

But then I added something, just to make the adrenaline flow a bit more freely as it would in the time of some always totally unexpected crisis. In the picture at the top, also 27 feet out, you’ll see two juice bottles side by side on the stump. That represents a hostage situation. When the guys train up for such things, as you can imagine, they are totally disqualified for one stray bullet, as that would defeat the purpose. One just has to be better than that. One has to be the best. I’m far from that. Obviously. But one has to start somewhere. So, up the juice bottles went. The idea is that under pressure at the maximum distance one might expect there to be while still being in the dynamic of such a situation, one hits only the one and not the other, and that the one one is hitting is actually hit. To miss both is just about as bad as hitting the hostage, as you’re not likely going to get a second chance unless the first one hits where it needs to hit. In the meantime, it’s all over for the hostage. Things to practice also include closing the distance if this won’t spook the hostage taker, all the while angling to gain a clear shot and a clear backstop.

The reason to train for such an eventuality that will pretty much never ever arise, it that in training for the more difficult one is training for the less difficult by default.

Any classroom training for such an event consists of 99.99% of the instruction being aimed at why never ever to shoot no matter what in such a situation, which is the same thing that is said also to law enforcement, the SWAT team crowd, et al. But then it is mentioned that it might just be the case that in the it-never-happens-anyway situation, you might just “have to take the shot” regardless of the safety of the actual hostage, though taking every precaution that the hostage not be hurt, which also includes putting oneself at risk. The idea, in that case, is that the perp must be neutralized, even if there are innocent bystanders round about the perp along with the hostage and also in back of the perp in the line of fire. In that case, the situation would be, for instance, that the perp is shooting quickly and with success at many people, killing as many as he can. But that’s the moment you wish you had practiced up for the more difficult case as a way to practice up for that which is easier. You don’t want to miss. You don’t want to have to take more than one shot. Anyway, that never happens. Anyway, I’ll practice for it.

As it is, the local Graham Star newspaper just put out a front page story on a possible budding terrorist in these most remote of back ridges of our national forests. It’s a bit of a joke, but at the same time it’s not. Here’s the evidence of a fevered but not lacking in reason mind of a terrorist:

terrorism bomb making

O.K. He’s an amateur, thinking he’s clever. This was at the dumpster site. This could be an attempt at terrorism, but I really doubt that. I think what’s happening is that a prescription druggie guy rooting around inside the many dumpsters at the site in search of discarded but still potent prescription opioids is sick of competition from other druggie guys rooting around the insides of the dumpsters. So, he’s created some sort of booby-trap meant to take out or at least hurt a fellow dumpster diver.

However, that kind of meanness, paranoid about everyone coming into the dumpster site, thinking that any of them could be there to steal “his” opioids in the dumpsters, might just accost those who are there to recycle and dump their trash: “Gimme your meds, or else!” That kind of thing instantly turns into a hostage situation if the wife is taken and he then notices that the husband is there. Dumpster sites are not lonely sites. They are pretty heavily trafficked. This is actually not an unlikely scenario, especially since the perps will be extra nervous what with talk of upping the penalties for dumpster diving (which usually results in all the contents of all the dumpsters being spread out over the lot so as to more easily comb through the rubbish for the drugs.

And we might be thinking, what a bad guy that terrorist druggie bad guy is. But did not our Lord allow himself to be taken hostage by our sins? Did He not lay down His life for us? Thank you, dear Lord. Thank you for saving us bad guys, us really bad guys.

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Filed under Drugs, Guns, Terrorism

Buffalo Springfield For What It’s Worth. Surprise Intent of Stills’ Lyrics against tender snowflake paranoid violence.

buffalo springfield

Stephen Arthur Stills of 1960s Buffalo Springfield fame penned “For What Its Worth”. Recall that he’s Canadian and that, in pre-1982 Canada, “justices of the Peace had the authority to impose a six-month jail term on anyone carrying a handgun.” [[I’ve been corrected for that in the comments. Seems he’s American. Which only reinforces my commentary here.]] The song “For What Its Worth” has always been taken as a protest, anti-gun jingo. But it’s not. One might think from a glance of the Wikipedia article that Stills might be on the protest side of things:

“In November 1966, Stills composed his landmark song, “For What It’s Worth”, after police actions against the crowds of young people who had gathered on the Sunset Strip to protest the closing of a nightclub called Pandora’s Box (contrary to later retellings by Stills, he was not present for the riot; rather, Buffalo Springfield was playing an engagement in San Francisco at the time).”

I was born in 1960 and so I was only a little kid when this came out. What did I know about anything? But I met a USMC guy the other day, perhaps 10 years older than me, who was a teenager at the time. He thinks it’s one of the best songs ever. No peacenik, he. Perhaps a fisking of the words is in order, as this will help tender snowflakes see that the ones they hold to be their gurus, such as Stills, weren’t the tender snowflakes people thought they were. Perhaps Stills was a bit adrift at the time, but he still carried some values of reason and civility from earlier baby boomer times.

In brief, it seems this song praises police action against out of control paranoid hippie rioters who cross over the line with violence and gunfire and need rightly to be “taken away” as the song says. Perhaps Stills, still going strong, might even say that he disagrees with my assessment, but he’s the one who wrote the lyrics. Whatever he intended then or now doesn’t matter so much as what the words actually say. I like what he wrote. I like it a lot.

BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD: “For What Its Worth”

There’s something happening here. [A violent riot in reaction to the closing of a night club.]

What it is ain’t exactly clear. [Stills is not automatically on the side of the rioters, is he? No. He’s calling for reason, for analysis. Good for him.]

There’s a man with a gun over there, [We don’t know who this is yet, whether a law enforcement officer or someone in the crowd. But for him, the presence of a gun from any source is not something he wants to see, though it may be necessary. The examination of the circumstances for the gun is the point of the song.]

Telling me I got to beware. [This sounds like an encouragement of paranoia from the guy with the gun, who is being annoyed with a reasonable assessment of the situation by Stills. The encouragement of paranoia is ideological manipulation which Stills disagrees with, and says so:]

I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound? [He’s reprimanding the protesters (“the hippie flower tender snowflake children”), telling them to stop, as, apparently, they are O.K. not only with the brandishing of a gun but with the firing of a gun (the “sound”), thus calling them out as actually being violent bullies.]

Everybody look what’s going down. [He can’t believe that what he was expecting to be a peaceful protest almost seems —  could it be? — to be pre-planned violence? He says it frankly:]

There’s battle lines being drawn. [This is a soliloquy falling on deaf ears, but he keeps going, perhaps thinking he will do some good for someone.]
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong. [He goes for the jugular, attacking Marxist dialectical ideology, whereby everyone is wrong, some less than others, but with violence for all being the only way to force any disparity into a leveled out utopia.]

Young people speaking their minds, [The Marxist Antithesis]

Getting so much resistance from behind. [The Marxist Thesis]

It’s time we stop, “Hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look what’s going down.” [Stills is frantic. But no one cares. The violence is intended to grow.]

What a field-day for the heat:
A thousand people in the street,
Singing songs and carrying signs,
Mostly saying, “Hooray for our side!” [He’s not saying that the police action is wrong. He is pointing out that the self-congratulatory signs are shallow ideology promoting might makes right on the part of the protesters. Mindless tender snowflakes are with all of their violence from hell.]

It’s s time we stop, “Hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look what’s going down.” [Then, after trying to get the attention of the protesters once again, he offers this overview of what’s happening:]

Paranoia strikes deep.
Into your life it will creep.
It starts when you’re always afraid. [Stills analysis is that Marxist dialectic violence comes from the frustration of cowardice, fear, with its lockstep reaction.]

You step out of line, they come and take you away. [O.K. This clinches this interpretation. The shooting of the gun is stepping out of line, and that makes for the justified reaction of law enforcement.]

We better stop, “Hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look what’s going down.
Stop, hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look what’s going down.
Stop, now, what’s that sound?
Everybody look what’s going down.
Stop, children, what’s that sound?
Everybody look what’s going down. [Stills is stomping his feet now in a tantrum, though well justified. Basically, he’s frustrated with the tender snowflake bullies and continues to attempt to have them use a bit of reason. But, no, they won’t do it as this violence is what they always wanted from the beginning. I agree with the USMC guy I met the other day: great song! Good for Stephen Arthur Stills.]

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Filed under Guns, Military, Song analysis

Update: Attempted home invasion, again

IMG_20170331_205639

Update: Not that they are related, but just a couple of streets over there was a stabbing within minutes of this attempted home invasion… ///

Jenny the Jeep acts as a guard donkey for the rectory, but only when she’s there. She’s in the shop at the moment, getting some extra attention, leaving the rectory seemingly wide open to home invasion. Sometime around midnight it seems that some guy decided to do just that, guessing I wasn’t there just because Jenny wasn’t sitting out front. The action ended just as quickly as the home-invader guy realized that someone was at home. He was outside making plenty of noise, perhaps to see if anyone was around. I didn’t see who it was as it’s not generally a good idea to be opening the door to an aggressor or even to look out the window, making yourself a target. This is the second attempted home invasion in the short time I’ve been here.

we dont call 911It would be stupid of me to think that I’m somehow ready to take care of anything untoward, but, just like the previous time, I didn’t call 911. No reason to bother the police as it all ended quickly enough. I’m not adverse to calling 911, unlike one fellow I know who has a bumper sticker saying: “We don’t call 911.” He was actually pulled over by the police for that one. All the same, since law enforcement is just minutes away, I try to be at least somewhat prepared. Of course, that includes calling on my guardian angel.

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Assassin Game, suicide, the day I drew my gun for real. Solution to insanity.

the deer hunter

I saw this tv news story today about the game Assassin this time played on a defenseless woman being carjacked with a gun who wasn’t part of the game. The game is being played around the country at the moment in high schools, colleges and universities, also and especially off campus. It’s also called Gotcha, Assassins, Killing As Organized Sport, Juggernaut, Battle Royal, Paranoia, Killer, Guru Girl, Spy vs. Spy, Elimination, and Circle of Death. If you ask me, it seems to be a development of the role-playing “game” called Dungeons and Dragons, and came out just in those years that that dark game became popular among the same age groups.

Since it is also played in public, it quickly becomes not so much about any fake assassination, but about playing Russian Roulette as to whether you are going to be killed for threatening what for all intents, purposes and constructions is a murder/carjacking in progress as we see in the video linked at the top. Wikipedia has more about it here.

Just to say, if someone came up to my car smashing my driver side window and waving a gun at me screaming obscenities and threats, it would take me about a nanosecond to pump 16 bullets into him and any threatening accomplices, that is, whatever it would take to make the threat stop. I mean, how stupid and sad is that? It’s purposed suicide. Russian Roulette. I would really hate that. All of it. Terrible.

Just to say, I’ve already been subjected to one carjacking just down the road from my parish while taking a retired cop to the hospital for a surgery appointment. We came to a screeching stop right on the highway (lots of traffic in both directions) and, while the cop yelled at me to say the obvious, that this was a carjacking, I already had my gun drawn and racked when, as otherwise never ever happens, the police came screeching up at that very nanosecond, increasing in number to a total of nine cruisers. As you might imagine, this overwhelming force of the police distracted the perp. Game over. To warrant that kind of manhunt I have to think he was a pretty serious criminal. He’s one lucky perp. But, I mean, when does that ever happen? When are the police there at the very nanosecond you need them? Literally, just one second later could have been life changing for all involved. One. Second.

carjacking-

Carjacking of yours truly attempted right at the “X”. Note the guardrails on both sides. We swerved to the left, slamming on the brakes. Traffic was pretty heavy. Carjackers don’t care.

Anyway, this “game” has been going on in different forms since the early 1980s, but it’s catching steam apparently at this time, and the weapons are not only fake guns, but also bombs which waste the time of law enforcement, the FBI and BATFE. With all the real terrorism and violence on law enforcement that we have, this is all a really bad idea, and it can, in fact, be malicious. It’s a felony to purposely waste the resources of the Feds on idiocy like this. I’m all for people being given time in jail for this kind of stupidity, even pursuing felony charges if the circumstances warrant it, such as with a “fake” car-jacking or a “fake” bomb threat at a public institution. A felony would mean these people would not be allowed to possess a real weapon. Good.

Also, just to say, there are apparently “safe spaces” in this game where assassinations are not allowed. Have we ever heard of “safe spaces” for tender snowflakes before? The tender snowflakes are getting to be accomplished assassins. This kind of game quickly becomes practice for the real thing. It took only days for the tender snowflakes to go from giving a can of Pepsi to someone to throwing full cans of Pepsi at first responders. Right? This is no longer the dreamy 1980s. This is the age of total idiots. I really feel for the woman who was attacked in the video above.

Mass Lourdes Pius X BasilicaThis mentality has come about because people have no identity. For those with no identity, death is as good as life, death is better than life. An Opus Dei bishop was once asked what is to be done with youngsters like this, for those who don’t know where their parish church is, for those who are unchurched. His response was immediate: Celebrate Mass better. Yes, the sacredness, the mysterious otherness of God, the radical profundity of the creature worshiping his Creator, with serious, charitable, joyful people being the ones one meets at Mass. Yes, that will be a draw. Young people who are adrift, anyone adrift for that matter, without an identity, is so very thirsty to find their identity in Christ, to be found by Him. And here’s the deal: Jesus is already working on them. All we have to do is offer a little invitation here and there. What say you?

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Filed under Guns, Road danger, Spiritual life, Terrorism

Guns and spiritual stability in adversity

I’m a peace loving kind of guy. A total neophyte with guns. I scared myself with my Glock 19, again.

The first time I scared myself with a couple of friends, was on Easter Sunday evening last, when, at 20 meters (70 feet with the google conversion), I quickly put four rounds though a single bullet hole. That doesn’t happen with me. It’s not really a déjà vu kind of thing, but is a kind of that just doesn’t happen with me ever experience. And it happened again yesterday during a quiet day at the hermitage on a day off, part of which was practicing with the Glock 19 once again.

Of the 15 rounds, 11 are on the post-it note sized paper with dot, 4 just off the edge on the stump, all within about 1 or 2 inches from the dot at about 27 feet out, this time, for the first time, starting off by being turned away from the target, gun holstered, then turning quickly, assessing, commanding, shooting double taps. I wonder if the tight group on the dot was a first shot while the tight group just above the dot (most in the stump) was the second shot.

Anyway, this scenario based shooting makes adrenaline pump with its narrowing of focus effects, because of which, and this was a total surprise, I did not stand straight up in whatever always controversial “stance” of whoever’s recommendation as I have always otherwise done, but instead I automatically, for the first time, went into a crouched position without planning this, without thinking about it.

  • I’ve always rejected the Isosceles stance as being unstable and useless, unless you want your body armor facing full forward because of fear, in which case, if you’re worried about that, you’re likely to be shot just, you know, just because.
  • I had thought the Weaver stance was better, more stability in every way, even though this would open up your one side to no protection from any body armor you might be wearing, but that is simply not a worry for me at all. Incidents are not duels of olden times. Imagine SWAT teams standing in a duel position with an opponent, preceded by slap with a glove or some such insanity. That’s like a Monty Python skit.
  • And then there is the Combat stance, which, if anyone calls it a stance, they are wrong, at least in my newbe experience, as this should not be a stance, but a severe crouching movement that is “on the ready to run” in any direction with stability (such as toward the attacker, with being on the move being what happens pretty much 100% of the time). This needs adrenaline to be effective. Most people, target practice people, never do this, ever, and that’s just plain wrong.

This brings me back to the story of “The Guy” (literally the best shot among special operators in the world – and, yes, there was a competition here in North Carolina a while back). “The Guy” said that he never shoots at a target. He always shoots to kill, and so, while shooting, is always filled with adrenaline (which helps, not hurts, if you know how to use it). I guarantee that that is not the experience of any mere target shooter (namely, all the other special operators that day, however combative they otherwise are).

Previous to this experience, beginner as I am, I had always been calming standing, calmly aiming, which is never a real life scenario, and is therefore misleading, as I am finding out, in every possible way. If one aims for more than a nano-second, one is going to pull down or try too hard. While the pattern might get smaller (as was indeed happening with me), there’s little muscle memory that is useful in real life scenarios. The only exception to this is shooting from a prone position with arms stretched out with the arms not really resting at all on the ground. Anyway, when calmly aiming I got into the bad habit of drawing down on the target from on high, which again, as I find out, only feeds the pulling down in view of a recoil effect, which is bad altogether.

When, instead, in spinning about to assess, command and shoot, drawing up and shooting as soon as one sees the front post of the iron sights come onto the target, there is no pulling down effect. This is quicker and more accurate also at greater distances as it’s all more natural, that is, not forced. I didn’t get everything 10x, and so, it’s not great at all, but it is good enough for a first time extended session on drawing from the holster while spinning about whereby I had to think: where did that come from, as that just never happens with me. I have to note that indoor shooting ranges would never allow this type of training. I’m thinking that indoor shooting ranges are the worst possible experience for anyone. Move it outside!

Some spiritual notes…

Anyway, during all this mayhem on top of Holy Souls Mountain, amidst all this intense distraction, even to the point of adrenaline forced narrowing of focus on the immediacy of sensory perception, I must say that none of this for a second took me away from realizing that my Guardian Angel, who himself sees the face of God, was with me. Spiritual things are on another non-exclusive level. It was extremely obvious to me that this had nothing to do with me in my otherwise total dullness, but had everything to do with my Guardian Angel reminding me of what is always the most important, of Him who is always to be the treasure of our hearts and souls and minds. It wasn’t a reprimand, but an invitation to rejoice that such a nothing, such a mere earthen vessel as myself could carry such a treasure on the inside even in such seemingly incongruous circumstances. Why should it be otherwise?

Being unflappable inasmuch as that is possible for us is always important. Not that I’m always that way. I’m weak like everyone else. But the solidness of friendship with God given by God, and with one’s angel guardian, even by way of guardian angels smacking us down if necessary, is everything.

The John Hopkins / Loyola College psychology additions to the FBI Course for the training up of civilians (as in chaplains) to assist law enforcement during critical incident scenarios are meant to provide an insistence on appropriate measures to be taken to help responders do what they need to do in keeping focused and unflappable. The coping mechanisms provided aren’t so much helpful as the human encouragement that comes with these, as extremely brief as whatever encounter during a critical incident might be. While first responders will have much more experience in tough situations, and therefore a been there, done that stability (though going spacey, freezing, getting in the way, even running away still happens to some in circumstances new to them such as larger terrorist events), the chaplain, nevertheless, it seems to me, is expected to have, precisely as a chaplain, something that he can provide to the situation, the support that someone is there who at least should be walking with God with utter stability. This is not a clericalist thing, or a holier-than-thou thing, or a gnostic guru thing, not on the part of chaplains or on the part of the others. It is simply someone, a representative of the community, who is surely spiritually supportive before God. That goes a long way. If that person is trusted, the little coping mechanism tricks that he provides will be taken in forthwith and that responder is then immediately good to go back into the fray of whatever critical incident. All this applies to victims of critical incident situations, what they will then be able to relate before going blank, or to bring them back to being focused, or to putting things in perspective for them so that they don’t otherwise get in the way. Seconds count. See: [New Update] Active Shooter: The Coming Storm (FBI: Train now!)

And here is why, I think, chaplains of law enforcement / military need to be up on their weapons training. It’s not that they will necessarily ever be in a position to use such weapons, especially in critical incident situations when there are plenty of responders there for that, but rather that this knowledge is taken as proof positive, as an affirmation of the means to peace (guns, etc.) appropriate to the first responders who count on the chaplain in spiritual ways.

Even more spiritual notes…

Spiritual warfare, as in overcoming temptation and distraction, can truly seem like the mayhem of war. But, this is the point, the mayhem disappears into unflappableness, if you will, be way of accepting being invited by Christ to be drawn to Him while He is lifted up on the Cross, His love and truth and goodness and kindness, His forgiveness of us, His founding of His mercy on His justice, acts as a kind of tractor beam by which we known we are going to Him right through hell on Calvary, but don’t care so much because we are looking to Him in a bond of friendship provided by Him, and therefore true friendship, unflappable. Again, yes, we are sinners. We fail. But, while being sorrowful for that, we shouldn’t make ourselves to be so important as to spend so much time on ourselves, but just get back to accepting that He is drawing us to Himself. There is mayhem. The clarity of the fog of adrenaline might well be there. But that works for us, no? Yes, it does. Praise the Lord at all times in all circumstances.

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Humiliating training just like the angels

target political

This is not a political statement, just a junked post-election political sign that is apparently being used as a target at an undisclosed location in Western North Carolina.

Anyway, ignoring that, I continued on my way to a parishioner’s house. He had set up a typical law enforcement qualification renewal course, which is wonderfully humiliating, showing me how much I don’t know. That’s the only way to learn. I love it. So, with three tiny targets vertically placed on a wooden stake, with preferably timed stations drawing on a suddenly provided scenario with the necessity of barking commands depending on the situation, providing one’s own perception to onlookers, e.g.: “Drop the gun!” “Drop the knife!” “Show me your hands!” but never “Drop to the ground!” as the first command (obviously) and never using untoward language which will come back to bite you. Such exercises may seem silly to some, surreal even, but here’s the deal, in a real scenario, you have only muscle memory the mechanics and your mouth is only going to say what you’ve previously practiced. Period.

  • At 10 feet — 2 hits 2 hits 2 hits with a gun scenario
  • At 20 feet — 1 hit 1 hit 1 hit with a knife scenario
  • At 25 feet — 1 hit 1 hit 1 hit with a hands/knife scenario
  • At 35 feet — 2 hits 2 hits 2 hits 2 hits with a gun scenario with available cover going low and high and low and high on either side with mag change and purposed jams placed arbitrarily in the replacement mag.

We did this cycle three times, he once, me twice, with me getting 100% better the second time through (lots of room for improvement). Now I know what to work on, which is great. The hit/miss ratio is very high on the hit side, so that, in preparing for this, one had better get 100% a hundred percent of the time if one hopes to re-qualify when under pressure. The reason for this level of perfection is that, in an actual scenario, the hit/miss ratio can again be very high, but this time in favor of the miss side.

Homework is holster work and mirror work (no bullets in the gun!). I’ve heard this many times before including at the North Carolina CCW course (CCH in North Carolina). Again, people can think this is silly and surreal. But, here’s the deal, you either do it right or you don’t do it at all. As I say, I would like to prepare for the FBI training course for those who assist LEOs such as chaplains, the only way to assist as a chaplain in some parts of the Diocese.

Analogy with the spiritual life: our guardian angels surely inspire us to turn positively to the Lord, yes, but it seems to me that they also want to be trained up in difficult situations of distraction in whatever way that that comes about. We can either get nervous and frustrated and upset and then sigh and sigh and sigh again, or we can be enthusiastic and thank our guardian angels for the super cool training that they put us through all the time with the scenario and that.

Saint Teresa of Avila says that she would be scared to death not to have such scenarios as she can’t imagine how we could possibly grow without being trained in this way. Saint Thomas Aquinas says that someone without this opportunity of being trained up is either an angel or a beast. Yikes!

The important this is not to think we’re so important that we waste time getting depressed over our failures while we are being trained, but instead always turn to the Lord who is the only One who is important. Our angels see God in the face, and they want more than anything that we walk with God.

The difference in the training is that one is planned and the other, with the angels, cannot be planned, as they want to take us where we cannot begin to imagine where we will be when we arrive, as the love of God is infinitely beyond our poor imaginations. Our training consists in learning to assent to this love with the lead of the angels.

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (Militant Mother Mary edition)

This trillium appears to be a hawk just a nanosecond before snatching some prey on the forest floor at the hermitage. But how could something so delicate, for our Lady, in honor of the Most Holy Trinity by name, be militant? Just ask these lady slippers at the hermitage, now about a thousand strong and on the march (this being just one view of a massive patch on top of the ridge, the flowers not yet in bloom at this elevation):

flores lady slippers

The Song of Songs puts the question this way: “Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array?”

In Genesis 3:15 we read that the Mother of the Redeemer is in a battle all set off from all others against the ancient dragon, Satan.

But that’s all just a spiritual battle you say? Put your sword back in your scabbard, Peter! Yes, Mary stood under the cross and Jesus stayed there until he died. Yes. I know. There was a reason for that.

And defense of the innocent is still a positive contribution to the virtue of justice. And the military and law enforcement are still necessary. John the Baptist offered advice to the military and Jesus worked miracles for those in the military, even speaking about no greater faith in Israel.

Could a soldier offer a flower to the Immaculate Conception? Could a police officer? Could a Federal agent, say, in the FBI? No? Really?

I’m still thinking of doing the FBI course for chaplains who assist law enforcement and who would make themselves available in emergency situations which are becoming more common. As I’ve mentioned before, training up in firearms of all sorts is part of that training, a sine qua non. That’s why I’ve been training up in firearms on my own, well, one of the many reasons. So far, I’ve been killing off some adhesive dots (with 15 rounds from the Glock 19 for each dot):

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Of course, I know that standing and aiming doesn’t count. No adverse conditions. Being able to aim. When does that ever happen? But I was pulling the trigger about as fast as I could go, standing, both hands. Still to the left just a bit. I had tried shooting over the car, resting my wrists on the vehicle. Total failure, that. That’s only for rifles. The same for sitting down on the ground and resting my wrists on my knees. Total failure, that. That’s only for rifles. What that resting bit does is to change everything in the muscle groups in the arms. Not good. What doesn’t do this at all is lying prone. That works best for pistols. Glad to know. So, it’s either standing or lying down for me.

I wonder how many enemies John the Baptist and Jesus made in doing good for the military of the occupation. Lots of people thought they were from hell, I bet, possessed by Satan, the ancient dragon. I wonder if Mary can still be my mother…

I think so.

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Orthodox Easter: Guns and Emmaus (scaring myself)

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Easter evening (for both East and West this year) was spent with some parishioners and a young Greek Orthodox couple. The Orthodox fellow (from Wisconsin but now in Georgia) is to be deployed any day now for a tour on the mountainous Iraqi-Syrian border. The father-in-law parishioner just retired out of law enforcement. They set up a half-dozen green post-it note targets some 23 meters out (the Mountain U.S. Army guy already speaking U.N.-speak).

We were practicing standing, using two hands, either hand singly, and then prone, with different pistols and an AR-15.

I did real well with the AR-15. That’s a totally new experience for me, moving from target to target quickly, with double hits on all but one with a single hit. They wanted me to then pepper the larger target as fast as I could go and I got most of them right on but that needs a bit of practice. No, I don’t own an AR-15!

I didn’t do so well with the single-handed pistol shooting. It’s good to get caught out in this way, so that you realize what you need to practice. The LEO also arranged a mag with a mix of spent cartridges so that I could see hidden problems, such as trying too hard. This works well. And I was trying too hard, as the gun popped an inch or so without a live bullet. It also forces you to work quickly to clear jams. The Army guy had a lot of good advice for the both of us. No matter how many years you’ve got in, more advice is always welcome.

Uh-oh: I scared myself a bit when I shot my own Glock 19 from a prone position. I’ve never tried to shoot laying down before. Aiming at a green post-it note with one AR-15 round through it from the Army guy, I quickly put four more rounds in a row through that one hit with my little pistol, so pretty much 10-X with all of them. I am reminded of this scene of the beginnings of recovery from amnesia:

But, no. I don’t think I’ve been suffering from amnesia. I mean, after all, I’m not great at one-handed whatever-hand shooting, good, but not great without practice (which I never really do in that way). So, therefore, no amnesia. I mean, I did do the 10-X multiple times in a row with one hand, if I remember, with a .45, last Autumn. But that had a smooth trigger pull, not like a Glock. No, no. No amnesia. Unless it’s like a mental block… ;¬)

Anyway: that was all after the breaking of bread together at the evening meal on a glorious Easter Sunday. The discussion at table was intensely religious as you might imagine with an American Greek-Orthodox soldier who has a Masters Degree in theological studies under his belt.

We spoke of the cultural differences (complementary) between East and West, the whole breathing with two lungs thing, the excommunications and the wiping out of the excommunications (leaving us with communion), the divine liturgy and the singing and being brought up into the Sacred Mysteries, Jesus fulfilling the prophesies in the Old Testament by being the acceptable sacrifice, His standing in our stead, having the right in His own justice to have mercy on us, our obligation in love to offer a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, the possibility of another major Ecumenical Council between East and West, and which theologians might be useful to this end…

You didn’t expect that, did you? If not, why not? You might offer a comment in the comments box… Pretend you’re sitting around the fire we had outside as night fell, all reminiscing. There was also some discussion of how it is that John the Baptist gave advice to soldiers about how to be the best of soldiers, and about the morality of self-defense on one’s own behalf or that of others: a positive contribution to the virtue of justice as opposed to the idiotic PTSD inducing lesser of two evils theory that would mean that no matter what you do you are always doing something evil (No!).

Is there a disconnect here? You know, between it being Easter Sunday evening and, you know, guns? No. And you have to know that the Army guy tested me on that, joking a little by wishing me a Happy Easter with all the target practice. Those who are on the front lines either here at home or overseas in some of the worst of the worst most violent hot-spots in the world have to know that we are in solidarity with our soldiers even as they are in solidarity with us. That’s an orthodox truth that the Orthodox appreciate.

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Count them if you can: Zero for 15 (relaxing is stupid: go for adrenaline)

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Here’s yesterday evening’s pattern of Zero for 15 rounds of 9mm from my Glock 19, all of which you can count if you know how to read the markings. The orange dot is the size of a penny, which didn’t get hit even once. But hey! It’s been a while. Not really to the left or right so much anymore, but definitely still a bit too far South. These are pumped out pretty much as quickly as I can go. The grip feels better, more solid, but my mechanics need more work. And it’s not pumping rounds out that makes for good pistol work, it’s all about the mechanics, and the mechanics in difficult circumstances. I know. Still nowhere near to practice on a regular basis.

More on why a priest has a gun (most all priests I know have them and practice with them and are more proficient a thousand times over than I am):

  • Well, one benefit still lurking in the background is that this makes being an FBI trained chaplain for local law enforcement in part of the Charlotte Diocese a much greater possibility. And that is a good thing, right? Yes, it absolutely is.
  • Also, just to say, what I have noticed experientially however anecdotally is that this kind of sportsmanship occasions friendships with many new sectors of society. And that is a good thing, right? Yes, it absolutely is. Blue Lives Matter as do all other lives. People are so brainwashed by television that they think spiritual support of LEOs is to reject Christianity. Really? That’s not what Saint John the Baptist thought about it.
  • And anyway, it makes for good fun usually in the great outdoors. I just can’t see going to an indoor range unless it’s for re-certification or to keep up with friendships so easy to make at indoor ranges. There are lot’s of good people at the indoor ranges, often law enforcement and just really serious, responsible, helpful citizens. But indoor ranges for me are bit too controlled in the environment, a bit too surreal. And yes, even priests do well to have a bit of recreation. Yes, “guns” and “recreation” are not exclusive words.

By the way, the South bit on the target mean that I’m just trying to hard to do well, pulling down on the gun as shots go out. No good. I’ve been trying to relax a bit, and that has done me well. But, really, that’s just so wrong. As “The Guy” told me, forget about “target practice,” which totally destroys one’s aim. Sorry to say this, it’s all about making every shot a “kill”, so that instead of being relaxed, one goes into adrenaline mode, which is an entirely different thing altogether than being relaxed. Adrenaline is about slowing down but for the benefit of an impossibly intense in-that-moment-only concentration, with all other senses blocked. That takes a special kind of person. He’s the best shot, literally, in the world, with a pistol. That rating isn’t about Olympians or some dumb thing, but rather being pitted against all the best in the world from our military and intelligence services. I’m not there, yet. For him, it’s 10-X pretty much 100% of the time.

An analogy is in order: Do we let Jesus go in for the kill, as it were, so that we die to ourselves to live for Him alone, with His aim perfectly 10-X as it were when He commands His Heavenly Father to forgive us while He Himself dies on the Cross, totally pumped with adrenaline, senses blocked, vision narrowed just to us in front of Him, total concentration, He giving us His very Heart which we then pierce through, and that, of course, occasioning our being killed off to ourselves… Truly this was the Son of God…

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Gunslinger priests: on consecrated canonical digits vs trigger fingers

consecration-

A reader recently asked:

“Not to belabor it, but, did I miss the column where you explain why you (1) feel you need to carry a gun? (2) Don’t the same fingers that hold the Host, hold the trigger?”

(1) “Feel the need.” That’s a strange statement. If anyone carries a gun because of feelings, they should not, must not carry a gun. That’s the definition of psychosis. You’re right to rebel against that, but wrong to put that on anyone who does carry. Feelings are not the reason a sane person carries a gun. Not everyone who carries a gun is psychotic.

At any rate, I have many reasons (forget feelings) why I carry a “carry permit” in my wallet.

  • Is it that I have, in fact, been shot at and had a gun held menacingly in my direction many times in my life, throughout my life? No, that wouldn’t be it. I really couldn’t care less. I’ve lived this long, right?
  • Is it that I’ve had quite a lot of contact with “successful” terrorists these past decades? No, that’s not it either. A gun wouldn’t have been a help or been used in any of the situations in which I’ve been. Well, in one or two situations… Anyway, that’s hypothetical as I didn’t have a gun and I lived to tell the tale, right?
  • Is it perhaps that I have a background that is interesting enough for the State Department to issue me a false passport for my protection, and then put a perpetual protection order out on my behalf? Nope, not that at all. After all, they’re helping me, right?
  • It is that I think I will certainly run into a bad situation in which I wish I had a gun, you know, like Father Kenneth Walker? Certainly not. I mean, most law enforcement officers go their entire careers without ever even once taking their guns out of their holsters except for re-qualification at the target range. It could happen, but…
  • It is that I often am to be found on the most violent roads in Western North Carolina where I’ve faced deadly situations a half-dozen times already? Definitely not it. Those were all once-off incidents.

So, what is it then?

  • Is it that I want to be available for any contingency in which doing this would be helpful for the defense of the innocent when the police are only minutes away? Yes, that’s a reason, as this is always a positive contribution to the virtue of justice.
  • Is it that my legs, a bit crippley, are too unstable to do what young Francesco Possenti (Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows) did in stealing guns from the arsonist / rapists invading his village? Convenience can also be a reason to carry a carry permit.
  • Is it that to be a chaplain for the police in some parts of this diocese one has to go through the FBI course which includes getting trained up in weapons? Yes, that’s a reason. I would say it’s the reason.

(2) “The same fingers.” An attempt at helpful, glorious irony? Or simply a non-sequitur if I ever saw one? Here’s the deal: a positive contribution to the virtue of justice by way of our Lord laying down His life, standing in our stead, taking on what we deserve for our sin so as to have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us is not contradictory to a positive contribution to the virtue of justice by way of defense of the innocent. Justice is justice and one is not to offer some sort of apology for justice.

Stepping up like this will, of course, lay one wide open to getting killed. I don’t see this as contradictory to the statement of Jesus that laying down one’s life for one’s friends is the greatest act of love.

It’s true! I’m not a LEO and I’m not in the military. I’m just a mere citizen. Ah, but that’s the answer, isn’t it?

Just to say: most priests I know have carry permits. Yes, most priests I know are both on the younger and more conservative side of things. But I’ll add a story about perhaps the most liberal priest in this diocese who would throw out LEOs if they came to Mass in uniform, including a full duty belt. Really. He would stop Mass and make a scene until they left. I guess that was a ploy to look liberal, you know, to get praise from the liberal crowd. That priest, mind you, carries a gun himself. I smiled a wry smile when I found that out.

Back to feelings… What if – God forbid – I shoot someone in the justifiable defense of innocent human life? Could I go ahead and consecrate the Body and Blood of our Lord with the same fingers that held the gun and pulled the trigger? Why not? Would feelings be quite overwhelming about having taken someone’s life? Maybe. Even probably. But that’s an occasion to be introduced more deeply to the Sacred Mysteries. Our fallen human nature tends to obfuscate in fear of the deadly seriousness of Jesus’ love for us. But that must be overcome in His grace.

Canon law forbids a man to be ordained a priest if he has ever murdered anyone, perhaps forgetting about Saul (later Saint Paul) and Saint Stephen. But killing is not necessarily murder. Also, shooting is not necessarily killing, as you never shoot to kill. You shoot to stop the threat. I’m sure there are many “Buts” to be answered. It’s a discussion worth having. Am I upset with the question? No. Not at all. There has to be a way to begin the discussion. Distinctions are to be made. We learn together.

Look, no one ever wants to pull a trigger. But there are certain prosecutorial tricks used to convict someone, but none of them are true:

  • You have personal defense rounds which stop in the person you’re shooting, meaning you intended to kill, wanted to kill. /// No, that’s not true. You simply don’t want the round to go through the perp, wounding but not stopping, and then through an innocent bystander, and another and another, as can happen with full metal jacket.
  • You had a trigger job done, meaning you intended to kill, wanted to kill. /// No, that’s not true. You simply want to be as accurate and quick as possible in order to save lives. That’s what it’s all about.
  • You do target practice a lot, meaning you intended to kill, wanted to kill. /// No, that’s not true. You simply want to be ready to face serious untowardness appropriately, knowing well the tool you have to bring deadly imminent threats to naught.
  • You carry a gun because of feelings, whatever they are for whatever reason they are there, and the conclusion must be that you intended to kill, wanted to kill. /// No, that’s not true. See above… etc. etc. etc.

Now, having said all that, my joy in life is not to carry a gun. Instead:

  • My joy in life is to use my consecrated hands to consecrate the Most Holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus, gracious as He is to this sinner.
  • My joy in life is to use my consecrated hands to absolve sins in the confessional, or out of it for that matter, though I am not as joyful then as I am when I myself am absolved from my own sins.
  • My joy in life is to use my consecrated hands to pick flowers and give them to the Immaculate Conception: it’s what Jesus would have me do always in all circumstances. And we don’t need consecrated hands for that. More on that joy in another post. But for now…

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Update: Dearborn MI open-carry inside police station / Brandishing vs. me at Police Station, Andrews NC. Yikes!

In Dearborn, Michigan, these guys are pulled over pretty frequently by the police so as to ascertain if they are creating a public disturbance, purposely terrorizing people. But now these guys seem to have gone too far. They open carried right into the police station with rifles and pistols and really a lot of ammo, one of them with a ski-mask covering his face. I don’t know if all that is legal to do in Michigan, particularly Dearborn, Michigan. They say it is. The police are understandably a bit nervous. Here‘s what one of the police officers yells out:

“Put it on the ground or you are dead,” one of the officers screams in the video that was live-streamed on the Internet via cell phones by Baker and Vreeland as the confrontation unfolded. “I will shoot you. I will put a round in you. What the hell is the matter with you?”

I don’t know what the motivation of the two open-carry advocates is, whether it is all about self-promotion or about the second amendment or if it is perhaps about their possibly being nervous because of the rumors, true or not, about un-official but somewhat de-facto sharia law observance in Dearborn or all or some or none of the above. Whatever about their motivation…

The fact remains that entering a police station armed to teeth (truly, the list is long) and with a ski-mask pulled over one’s face just doesn’t seem to me to be a good idea. FWIW.

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Meanwhile, in Andrews, NC, I was sitting inside the police station just the other week having a chat about the executive order on immigration when a gentleman came waltzing in brandishing a fairly large pistol. Brandishing in any law enforcement center is, generally speaking, illegal in North Carolina. He was waving it about in my direction and I, trying to deescalate the situation, asked him in a sing-song naive voice and all smiles, much like Alfalfa of the Little Rascals:

“Hey! Wow! Is that one of those pistols that also shoots shotgun shells? It looks like the barrel is really big! Is that called ‘The Judge’?”

This threw him a bit, as it’s a stupid question. The Taurus Judge is actually a somewhat snub-nose pistol which can also fire off .410 shells. Although he had his hand around the handle of the gun and I could easily be mistaken, his .45 looked like a Colt, a Smith and Wesson, not small at all. He answered:

“Oh no. It’s, um, just a .45.”

As he looked down the barrel of his own gun I should have bolted and smashed him hard to the floor, as he was only about three steps from me.

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At any rate, he then turned to the officer on duty – the gun still in my direction – and asked if it was O.K. for him to carry inside the station. The officer said:

“Well, you know, it’s not really allowed but I guess it would be O.K.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. I must say that although the guy was a nice guy, I did feel threatened since it was clear that everyone knew this was an illegal situation and that the officer, who had visibly tensed up and who had glanced over to me, may have only agreed to the brandishing of the gun under duress of the brandishing.

I kept my trap shut since this could have merely been a way on the part of the officer to buy time, deescalating the situation until such time as they could make an arrest and not get hurt. Never pull a gun when someone already has a gun in your face. They only have to pull the trigger, which is faster than whatever you can do.

I also thought the guy might be an ex-cop and that they might have all been friends and/or relatives, and I didn’t know quite how legal or illegal his situation might be in that circumstance, although I suppose I should take a hint from the actual officer on duty that “it’s not really allowed” for him. I will be happy to know if this guy was eventually arrested when this could be done safely. I was the one in the direction this guy was waving his .45 at…

If the situation went badly, I would have been shot first, as I was closest to him and he already had the gun aiming in my direction. Meanwhile, the officer would have had the time to draw and shoot him while I was getting shot. That saves the officer. Fine with me. I suppose I could have tried to avoid my getting shot by bolting behind a physical structure next to him and myself and then trying to slam him to the floor. He did have a second person with him. But if that other person didn’t have a weapon, I think I could have kept the guy pinned for the few seconds it would take to get the officer to shove a gun barrel into the back of his neck commanding him to let go of his weapon. I don’t know. If I had bolted toward him, first going behind the physical structure for cover, he could have first shot the officer before I got to him, easily shooting me in that time frame as well. Maybe the “permission” part of the conversation was a cue for me to tackle the guy as he was distracted at that point. After all, the officer had glanced over to me. He would have followed me with his gun, possibly shooting, but leaving the officer alive. I would have been behind the physical structure for a second. He would have been totally distracted. The officer could have taken a shot at him while that was going on.

What to do? The situation did deescalate… I don’t know if there was an arrest that followed later…

Did I do the right thing in delaying, letting it deescalate? It might not have deescalated at all. He could have killed me and perhaps also the officer after that. He was pointing the gun in my direction the whole time. Each nano-second was a risk for me, and then the other officer. What would you have done? Suggestions?

It just happened to work well. This time. Just because it worked out this time doesn’t at all mean that it was best to let it deescalate.

Should I have possibly taken a bullet possibly saving the officer? I could have commanded the guy to PUT THE GUN DOWN NOW!  while moving unstoppingly in his direction. I’m a pretty big guy… with a pretty big voice if I need it. His voice was just so familiar and soft-spoken when he talked to the officer on duty that it really did seem they were friends or relatives or the guy was absolutely to be trusted because of his own background… But it’s often like that. For instance, bank robbers are usually extremely soft-spoken and nice because in that moment they have all the power.

FBI CITIZENS ACADEMYThe thing is, I didn’t know any of that possible background (which I think is actually the case regarding a friend or relative). It was extremely imprudent for him to brandish like he did. He could easily have pulled the trigger on me, unwittingly, if I tackled him. Actually, I’m still pretty upset with this guy for recklessly putting lives at risk. Unless the police tell me different, I think I will tackle anyone brandishing in the police station here. There are plenty of people who are fully capable of brandishing in the police station, having the mentality of the two in the video at the top of this post. They brag about it. Loudly. That’s just the way it is. And now they have a good example as it seems to me someone who does this without getting arrested, if that’s the case, is a hero to very many people around here.

The lesson for all of us is that you just don’t know how you’re going to react in whatever situation. This was good training, whether I did the best I could or if I could have done better. It helps to go through real situations. The point of training is to get better. Which reminds me about the FBI training: Active Shooter: The Coming Storm (FBI: Train now!) Critical incident situations are simply not easy. One does need to be trained. I see that more clearly now than previously.

P.S. Just to say. I did not have a weapon with me. It would have been illegal for me inside a law enforcement facility. But I could have tackled the guy. I probably would have died. But I could have saved the officer’s life. I don’t know. I just don’t know. Ideas?

UPDATE: As I now find out, not only was this guy not arrested, this incident was not even reported within the office. My response: The next time someone is brandishing against the law, following this guy’s bad example, I will end the threat, whether I get shot or not. At any rate, I was told that this will be brought up for training purposes in the department. That’s all I can ask for. That’s a good result.

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The Day Off Target

hermitage

Yesterday was the proverbial “day off”, which doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with taking a day off, but for a short while it was wonderful day. Up at 3:55 AM, away for an early appointment on the far side of Asheville, not knowing which fire/smoke/falling-rock detours I would encounter. A falling-rock detour occurs when, after a fire burns away brush and fallen logs, small rocks and boulders are free to tumble down the mountains onto the roads below. Anyway, that done, and a few other chores, I stopped by the hermitage. As always, I said the Angelus going up and coming back down and more, with the usual intention for the bishop and for priests.

The forest is soooo dry. The bugs have almost entirely disappeared. That has an effect on the whole ecosystem. I raked the leaves and fallen branches away from the hermitage but knew it was a lost cause should another fire among a myriad start up near the hermitage. The forest here is like a peat bog, even on the top of mountain ridges, as fire can spread by burning underground. The forest floor does remain soaking wet even after months with no rain, but it is already over six months since news stories about a severe drought in Western North Carolina were hitting the papers. It is dry deep down in the forest floor. You can only do what you can do. Raking done, I thought I might “fire” at a target I just happened to bring along:

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Still better (after some practice and not from too far away), but not where I want to be. Still South and still mostly to the left. The South bit is trying too hard to fight any up-snap. I’m getting over that. These are tossed out pretty much as fast as I can pull the trigger.

And then I got a worrisome phone message from an old acquaintance for whom I no longer have a phone number and who clearly needs prayers. When my Android takes a message it won’t register the phone number. So, how to call back? How do people without hope survive? At any rate, I’m happy to have the hope afforded by Christ Jesus, who will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Amen. I must say I was happy to have a long talk after that with the neighbors at the hermitage. They are such good people.

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Ricky

 

You’ll remember that Ricky, in his short tour from 2010 to 2011, got shot twice, an axe in the face once, and blown up six times by IEDs, with the last one giving him traumatic brain injury. His brain was injured in such a way that no pain medication of whatever kind touches the pain. If they give him too much of one type he stops breathing and it doesn’t help anyway. If they give him the other kind, even dozens of times the max, it still doesn’t touch the pain. In this way he lays down his life every single day, every moment of every day, for all of us. Put it this way: If you help one Afghani, you help us all. Thanks, Ricky.

Just to say, although when he came down to visit my neighbors at the hermitage he had his best day in his best week in all these years, he’s now paying the price for having way over-exerted himself. Seizures, maxed out headaches, dizziness, way overtired… And on top of that, and I feel guilty about this, he took a tumble while giving me some pointers on how to shoot. Many tumbles actually. He didn’t seem to mind, and I remembered my own tumbles when I was on crutches and didn’t want others to mind. It’s just that he actually broke a finger on one of those tumbles and didn’t say a word until they were back in South Dakota. He didn’t want anyone to be concerned… Please, remember him in prayer. He does his battle every second of every day for you and I. Hail Mary…

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My day with the combat wounded, with me taking the part of an Afghan soldier.

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Our hero’s tour included getting shot twice, getting an axe to the face, and being blown up with IEDs six times. The last time involved TBI, traumatic brain injury. You know what happens to your ankles and your head when you’re in a “IED-proof” Humvee, right? He would go back if he could. Deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 at 40 years of age (an exception, as he’s really talented), he returned Stateside in 2011.

He wasn’t in the zone long, but saw more action than most might see in multiple wars. And don’t think it’s over for him. He is absolutely constrained to fighting every single day, both with a bad case of PTSD and its nightmare of being “there”, when you want to do more for your brother but can’t because you’re taken out yourself, and then by way of dealing with injuries, walking with a crutch, getting way overtired very quickly, dizzy, and then… and then… the end of the world headaches… end of the world… non stop, 24/7/365. The brain injury takes all of everything to deal with.

Whenever you see a vet, make sure you go way out of your way to thank them for their service back in the day and their continuing service for the burden they carry to this day. They carry us out of harm’s way to this day by having been available to do that for us all.

I’ve been following our hero’s progress for a number of years (he being related to my neighbors back at the hermitage), but never had the privilege of meeting him until now. He and his mom – I’m forever indebted to her for her prayers – drove down all the way from South Dakota. It’s a kind of miracle, really. This is the best he’s ever done, his best day of his best week in all these years – lots of laughter all day long – but… (I’ll get to that “but…” further below).

When he would get a phone call yesterday morning he would have a moment of hilarity, telling the caller that he would have to get back to them as he was busy now teaching a Catholic priest how to take out terrorists. “A what doing what?!” would be the answer. And on it would go. One of his many jobs over the way was to teach Afghanies how to shoot. He was happy to make me an Afghan soldier for my “day off.” He knows what he’s doing; take a gander at this very short video about his work:

After putting this newbie back about 25 feet (four more feet than NC qualification distance for concealed carry), and giving me tips on stance and posture and arms and hands and fingers and eyes and what exactly I’m looking at, he immediately got bored with that and put me back at 75 feet, well over three times the maximum distance, and then talked to me about ballistics and gravity, saying that I would have to work on distances so that calculations as to the drop would be second nature. He also wanted all the other mechanics to be second nature, muscle memory, muscle memory, muscle memory. I have plenty to work on, but apparently have a little bit of potential…

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I must say that he’s really good at psychology, as I easily despair if I’m not exactly on center-target every time with my 4″ barrel Glock 19. My chance for depression above is 14 out of 15. But he was very encouraging, insisting that for a newbie at that range for a pistol such as I have, my groupings were really very good because very consistent. All I have to do now is sharpen the mechanics a bit and stay practiced. Did I say he was also deployed in PsyOps?

I take this opportunity to remind the more timid readers that all Catholic priest-chaplains for the great Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police force must go through special FBI training, which includes being trained up in weaponry, particularly pistols. Just sayin’

We also talked quite a bit about shooting while running, something I never thought I would be able to do and which is part of the FBI course mentioned just above. But he said if I had the mechanics down for stationary shooting, the bit about running added no further difficulty, demonstrating just what kind of “run” it is when you’re running and shooting a pistol. Yes, of course, thought I, when I saw this. This is exactly what I’ve already seen with what I know of that FBI course. Great! Anyway, that was that.

He accompanied me to do some errands in town and then get some Chinese before heading back out to – dare I say it in view of recent posts? – “The Farm.” There we met up with the others and had the best homemade pizza ever. I got three big pieces to bring home with me. They’re for lunch and supper. Mmmmmm Mmmmm good!

There was lots of laughter all day long, but nothing compared to what happened when 189 million year old Grandma Clara-Gene joined us on speaker phone and had us all rolling on the floor laughing hysterically with her utterly dead-pan statements about her own proficiency with guns compared to all our ridiculous carry-on about useless target practice, because, you know, after all, if you see something that needs a-killin’ you just shoot it and that’s all there is to it. And actually, if she was in the military, she would be expert and an instructor. To hear this gentle grandma carry on was really a hoot and she very much enjoyed it all as well. It was just a really, really good day for all. But…

I was worried that this might be too much for our hero. It was. I got a call about 20 minutes after I left, when I was already just into the 30 mile dead zone for phones. I got the message only after midnight. He had had a seizure about 15 minutes after I was gone. I feel terribly guilty, but this morning he said that I had nothing to do with it. This is just what happens. He not only didn’t regret anything, he said that he thoroughly enjoyed every minute, having the best time ever, very happy with everything. They do plan to come again. And, of course, I could go and make my way up to where he is. I do have some errands I could do in Minnesota and South Dakota…

Update: They’re on their return trip. Pray for their safe travels: Hail Mary…

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Being on target? Good for humility…

target

That’s actually 15 hard nose at the furthest distance for a North Carolina qualification, all of them within an inch or so of center target, most going slightly South. I told this to my neighbor who can do about anything with a gun, and he looked to the ground, sighing, telling me a story about his rifle days, I guess implying that I should give up on the Glock 19 9mm Gen 4 that I have, and just concentrate on some rifle work. He said he and a friend used to put out an American .25¢ piece (a quarter) at 1,500 yards and see who could hit it closest to the center, it being a given that they would both hit it somewhere, of course. I blame the Glock having perhaps the heaviest trigger pull of any gun anywhere. He doesn’t buy it. That, of course, is a challenge to always get better. But then it’s a bit depressing, enough to give up. But I think I’ll take up the challenge bit.

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WAY TOO MUCH FUN with interreligious dialogue, Pope Francis, guns, guns and more guns

arrow robin hood

A bunch of the parishioners and myself went to eat at “The Hub” after Holy Mass. Pictured is the Robin Hood of the parish after the meal. As you can see, he’s pretty good with a long bow. I went over to his cabin today in my continued effort to know where and how my parishioners live in the back sides of the mountains. He lives in the most impossibly remote place on the planet, accessible only by helicopter unless one loves extreme sports. I’m certain that dirt-bike jump competitions got their start on his miles and miles long driveway/logging road whose water diversion gullies can be six feet deep or high depending on where you are (if not very high in the air) with a cliff face on the one side and a ravine on the other. This dirt bike video pretty much captures the ride:

The cabin is a spectacular gem impossibly where it is, much better than the hermitage ever could be. We talked about Pope Francis and interreligious dialogue. He knows his faith very well as does his dear wife. Meanwhile, he introduced me a bit more to the art of shooting guns, showing me some rather interesting items. As you might imagine, he can place a tight pattern with a pistol just 2-3 inches in diameter at +100 yards… (These guns are not for sale…)

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And…

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And then there is the following AMT, which is no longer manufactured. It’s used for competition. It’s a 45…

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This AMT is smoooooooth. I emptied a clip dead bulls eye, one bullet on top of the other, except for one bullet. For that one, I changed targets to a “dot” target patch we had put on another part of the cardboard backdrop, and with the last bullet took out that “dot”, hitting it dead center as well. In my lifetime and only very recently, I’ve emptied out just a small handful of clips from any kind of pistol.

This kind of scares me: way too good way too fast, like I had known this in a different life, not a déjà vu thing, not a reincarnation thing, but rather something like this is who I would have been professionally had I not been a priest. I look back at how our Lord kept me from this. Amazing. When I was a kid, my family was pretty close with the FBI. I’m not interested in how things would have been as I’m so very happy being a priest. It’s just weird, that’s all. At any rate…

After this, we gave up on targets and just shot at the quarter sized “dot” patches that we put up. That was good, until I added a scenario. I said that most terrorist perps these days use body armor, and so I wanted to be good enough to shoot a perp in the head with confidence even if he should have a hostage drawn in right next to him in one hand as a human shield even while he continued shooting at other victims with the other hand.

So, my Robin Hood parishioner put up a target with a six inch circle, saying that that was the head of the hostage, and then he placed a sticky “dot” immediately to the side of the hostages head, calling that dot the head of the perp. O.K. Just to say, such was the pressure NOT to have any bullets fly into the hostage that neither of us strayed a bit from the “dot” perp. The psychological pressure changed our shooting. This was a discovery. For me, it’s all about necessity and confidence. More shooting in a more relaxed manner with more accuracy means more confidence which means being more relaxed with more accuracy… which means learning to be unflappable even in tough uncontrolled circumstances. My Glock 19 9mm is a lot harder to shoot than the AMT 45, that is, unless I just allow myself to let myself go, so to speak, with the Glock, aiming only once and pumping out the bullets quickly, calmly letting gravity do its work. Then I’m just as accurate with the Glock as I am with the AMT 45. Only the Glock, mind you, can be concealed with ease.

I fully realize I’m NOT a good shot in that I was taking my time in circumstances I controlled. Real life scenarios are messy and need different kinds of training. I’ll see if I can’t turn to my CIA/Army friend and my CIA/Air Force friend for some pointers. There are in this area a seemingly endless line up of very helpful individuals with ineffable military / intelligence careers.

I’m sure any gun fanatics reading this post will know what this is…

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O.K. I admit it. I’m just having WAY TOO MUCH FUN. Now, here’s the question: Is it bad and evil for a priest to just be having WAY TOO MUCH FUN?

Yesterday, guns were a catalyst for a conversation involving encouragement about interreligious dialogue in the face of airplane statements from Pope Francis. Is that bad and evil?

Today a hospital run of some hundreds of miles was a catalyst for a conversation involving encouragement about all and sundry everything. Is that bad and evil?

People find themselves in different circumstances but always before the living God. I think that priests can be there for them wherever they are at, not only to bring them closer to our Lord (even if they are already much closer than I, which is the case with both of these parishioners in my opinion), but to be brought closer to the Lord myself by them.

Just to say, I am about to read up a bit more on Saint Francis and the conversion of the Muslims with a book I picked up at the most incredible gift shop in the world at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville Alabama. But just remember, Saint Francis had an entire army with him!

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Bitter frustrated liberal ex-seminarian throwing a tantrum attacks yours truly

Some bitter, terribly un-well-researched comments have been coming in from a certain – I don’t know what – perhaps student teacher at a certain not-very-famous-for-anything Catholic institution situated in the chemical waste dump of the eastern USA, trying to bait yours truly into some sort of sword fighting in the comments box so as to give himself some claim to fame (not that I have any stature for that whatsoever anyway, but we go back to his lack of research), but I digress before we even begin.

What started him off was the usual self-hero worship of being tough with abuse when everyone agrees that we must all be tough on abusers. He cuts and pastes an old diatribe against Father Gordon MacRae which cherry picks bits and pieces out of context and arranges them in such a way that some anti-Catholics would applaud. All such rebuffs are answered by the record from which context they were ripped. Text without context is pretext. Journalists too numerous to name here have shown the malice and hypocrisy of such self-promotion. Those who try to ensure that no due process is granted to priests are, in my opinion, eager to see more abuse. People will get tired of innocent priests being killed off as scapegoats, and then will not listen even to real victims. In his fail to get street-cred in this way, he moves on to aim his cannon at yours truly (my emphases and [comments]), using my recent post as a foil for his diatribe: Bacon sniper priests: tools of the trade. It’s a matter of charity. Warning: anti-gun person here…

======== According to the Code of Canon Law:

Can. 285 §1. Clerics are to refrain completely from all those things which are unbecoming to their state, according to the prescripts of particular law. [So, if I were a bishop[!], I would have a particular law forbidding clerics from dancing on table tops at wedding receptions singing pop songs that are unbecoming for them to sing. It’s happened.]
§2. Clerics are to avoid those things which, although not unbecoming, are nevertheless foreign to the clerical state. [e.g., trading on “the floor” at Wall Street exchange.]

The previous (i. e., 1917) Code was even clearer: [when clarity is wanted, go back! Note that pretty much all of this was removed from the new Code for good reason.]

Can 138. Clerici ab iis omnibus quae statum suum dedecent, prorsus abstineant: indecoras artes ne exerceant; aleatoriis ludis, pecunia exposita, ne vacent; !!! arma ne gestent, nisi quando iusta timendi causa subsit; venationi ne indulgeant, !!! clamorosant antem nunquam exerceant; tabernas aliaque similia loca sine necessitate aut alia iusta causa ab Ordinario loci probata ne ingrediantur. [He edited that.]

According to Fr. Woywod’s always-valuable commentary on the old Code: [I haven’t looked any of this up, so we’ll just take his reporting for the sake of argument.]

“114. Clerics must abstain from all things that are unbecoming their state: they must not exercise unbecoming arts [like what, the black arts? O.K.!]; not play games of chance with money [what about parish bingo with the money going to the soup kitchen? That doesn’t count!]; not carry weapons, unless there is justified cause for fear [so, the very thing he wants to attack me for is given an excuse in the very text, whose mention of “justified cause”, given my history overseas, by the way, I have, or does he not know me, and so is judging me with no due process just like he did with Father MacRae? Interesting.]; not indulge in hunting [“indulge” is very different from the “need to go”: language is important, and this distinction is confirmed:] and never in that kind of hunting that is done with much display and publicity [the separation of the general from the particular leaves the general up to the necessity of the situation; obviously, fox hunting U.K. style, with trumpets and pageantry and tea is supremely ridiculous at least to this mountain boy.]; not visit saloons and places of the same nature except in cases of necessity or for any other just cause approved by the Ordinary. (Canon 138.) [For instance, when the Legion of Mary tromped right into a brothel, knelt down and recited the rosary, putting all to shame and helping them to enter into a better life, thus getting their start way back in the day. It’s pastorally imprudent at times to legislate particulars.]
115. Even those affairs that are not unbecoming to the clerical state, but are foreign to it, the clergy must avoid.” [“affairs”… like… I don’t know… with all these undefined terms… say… like… being an executioner for those whose death-row term is up at the local prison, or, in my opinion, being on the jury of a capital case or any case when possibly knowing the fuller story from the confessional…]

========= And then our ex-seminarian (my hypothesis) adds this comment:

Personally [this is his personal attack against me though he doesn’t even know me. I certainly have never heard of him], I find that “conservative” temperament [It’s always about feelings with liberals, always] amongst [“-st”!] the clergy [so, he singles out the clergy to do some hating] just as cafeteria-like [as who? himself? So, he’s doing this to rationalize his own cafeteria Catholicism? There we have it.] when it comes to certain practices [like what? “gender appropriate” practices? In his mind?]: hunting, guns, [a woman cop sent me a beautiful email describing her day on the range with sniper rifles, commending me for a good day out with the boys as she put it] sitting around [I tend to stand for intense but enjoyable discussions which he despises in puritanical fashion] drinking booze [I don’t drink], smoking cigars [I don’t smoke at all], etc. [surely everything] — all apparently [“apparently”] forbidden to clerics in the pre-Conciliar Church. [There’s a strong argument, emotional too, you know, with a mention of pre-Conciliar and all that: “You… you… you hate Vatican II. So predictable. No, I don’t hate Vatican II.] (Remember the old yarn about the poor Seminarian thrown out of Seminary due to the fact that he cherished that one cigarette more than his vocation?) [And there it is, an old yarn from a gossip monger.]

========= My comment: Dear friend: The answer to your flailing about is Jesus Christ, the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception. Go to Confession. Why? Glad you asked. Here’s your answer. The priesthood is not evil. What are you doing with your life? Join your priests in getting crucified. We need you and we need your prayers and we need your encouragement. We are weak and frail and fragile and are bound to deny our Lord at any time. O.K. But be there for us. Don’t be triumphal against us. Work with us. Our Lord did, from the cross, when we had all run away. Your mother is calling you…

pieta

P.S. Why feed the trolls? There are so very many. Converting them is part of reaching into the darkest of existential peripheries so as to help point people to Jesus and to the Immaculate Conception.

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Bacon sniper priests: tools of the trade. It’s a matter of charity.

sniper 4

In these back ridges of Western North Carolina, I never know quite what the day will bring. The other day, I had the privilege of meeting some of the best priests one could ever hope to meet this side of heaven, some who have suffered for both you and I, some of whom are high up in their local hierarchies, some hailing from near, some from far, from many dioceses and states.

sniper 1We took an unnecessarily circuitous route to a gun range which I pass by all the time, the group making sure one particular priest would ride with me, a young priest, perhaps one of the best theologians we have in these USA. We discussed my thesis in detail, he having already plowed about 1/3 of the way through it.

Late that evening, at one of the rectories in the area, we discussed some controversial points of points of canon law, with quite a number of these priests being canon lawyers.

Meanwhile, at the gun range, conversation turned to some tools. Our instructor was a USMC sniper for ten years, who then graduated to teaching his fellow leathernecks how to provide overwhelming force to unjust aggressors. He brought the three tools you see in the pictures above, some parts of which are legally personally hand tooled. The others were brought by a couple of the other priests.

The reaction of some of the readers, I know, is that sniper priests give the priesthood a bad name, you know: “All priests are always and everywhere extremists and probably terrorists, and we should let the FBI, CIA, USAIC, NNIC, DHS, DOD, DOJ, BATFE et alii know about them!” Whatever. The ol’ bolt action below is hardly a weapon of mass destruction. I was happy to hit the edge of the .25 cent sized center-of-target at 54 yards out (the scope not being readied for that short distance. Our jarhead friend had to be able to hit a quarter consistently in adverse conditions at a 1000 yards out. The farthest target he put out that evening was 108 yards.

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Other readers might know that my parish includes the famous Slick Rock free-for-all hunt wild boar till you drop sports area. If you drop a 1200 pound wild boar, or even  a 700 pounder, you have enough bacon for a year. For the cost of a well-placed bullet, that’s a pretty good deal the way I look at it. And so the reaction of other readers might be: “Hey! Pass the bacon, please!” Indeed, this makes for a new kind of “Bacon priest.” In times to come, I think that this will be a very important part of a priest’s ministry, a new kind of soup kitchen. And it’s not just bacon. There’s also bear, and dear and elk in this neck of the woods, for all of which you’ll want a powerful gun. There’s not only not anything wrong with that. This is prudence. And yet, I’m not at all prudential, what with my mere Glock 19 Gen 4. Heck, I don’t even have any personal defense ammo, just mere full metal jacket, an annoyance. But that’s just me. I’ve no finances for anything else. I have no adverse judgments at all for those who own and get trained up with such tools.

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More than this, I have to say that this was an occasion for priestly support. The meal we had after, prepared by some of the better chefs among the priests, was out of this world. I’m used to institutional food, or better, dumpster food! But this was amazing. I think that this was important for me personally as a priest, a good times of the good ol’ days kind of thing, priestly solidarity being a real grace.

P.S. I am reminded of a polish priest I knew in the northern reaches of the Archdiocese of New York. He said he had a meat grinder in the back of this little van he would drive around. He would pick up any road kill he would see, instantly rip the meat from the bones and fur, throw what he could get into the grinder, and then pass the sausages he made out of the window of his van! So, using a bullet is better, right? Fresher, and just better!

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