Category Archives: Jesus

Distracted shooting & distracted praying: Distraction is the way to go.

Distracted shooting:

Not having practiced in, like, forever, 30 minutes of the day off was given to doing up a session of double-taps “to the head”. Best was 1.51 seconds with a chambered Glock 19 from a serpa holster carried appendix. Even that was so much slower compared to back in the good old days when Walmart was still selling Federal FMJ brass target rounds for cheap (the only thing that works in my Glock 19 Gen 4). Way too many of the double-taps were over two seconds. Not practicing often means slowing down, at least for me. But catching up on edginess just a bit is always good. Catching up on accuracy just a bit is always good. The 7″ Styrofoam pie-plates were out 25 feet.

This session, unlike any other since first acquiring any gun for the first time in my life (still in my third year) the enormous benefit of distraction came into play. Worms were falling like tender snowflakes. Un-staged distractions help constitute the best way to practice. It’s the difference between being edgy with sterile indoor range conditions (and no one cares about that, especially the entitled criminal element) and something much more attuned to real life where distractions are always abundant (like bullets hitting you one after the other). For great distraction for a good practice session, try tent worms falling on your sights with no warning:

Disgusting waves of tent caterpillars are munching their way across Michigan | News Hits

Practicing in this way provides the opportunity to learn to power through distraction and let adrenaline do it’s job by zeroing you in on the necessary at that moment.

Distracted praying:

If you haven’t noticed yet by this time in your life, we have a fallen human nature that suffers the effects of original sin chosen with the sin:

  • Weakness of mind
  • Weakness of will
  • Emotions and feelings all the hell over the place not following reason any longer
  • Sickness
  • Death

It’s only justice that we suffer the effects of sin chosen with the sin. Jesus calls such distraction our cross which we are not to deny, not to suppress, not to escape, but which we are to recognize, pick up and carry, not battling these things so directly as if we were our own saviors, but rather, as Jesus said, following Him, concerned with Him, with Him being more important that any stupid weakness of our own. The more we really try to try really hard to battle our distractions, the more we really try to really try hard to be our own saviors, the more frustrated we are in the midst of our lack of strength to do any such battle: we fall into the distraction we are battling by paying attention to it instead of to Jesus, following Jesus.

Look, all the saints were trained up to be saints in the midst of ongoing weakness and distraction. We are weak and distracted in this life until we die. Jesus told us to carry our cross daily, meaning until we die, but not looking at the cross (we already know it’s there) but instead looking to Him, thanking Him that – wow! – He really had t0 reach far into this fallen world to grab us to bring us to heaven. Thank you Jesus. Seeing all my distraction all the time helps me to understand just how far you had to reach to get me. Thank you so very much for re-creating me as your friend, as you said.

To do all that mercy in justice, Jesus had to come among us, show us damned cynics His goodness and kindness and truth, baiting us to test all that to see if it was verifiable. He knew we would show Him our worst, tortured death, what we deserve ourselves. He took our place, the Innocent for the guilty, now having the right in His own justice to command His heavenly Father as He died, thus passing our cynical test: “Father, forgive them!”

  • “But I am a worm, and no man; A reproach of men, and despised of the people.” (Psalm 22:6)

Actually, it’s not “worm”. In Hebrew this more precisely refers to “maggot.” Jesus cited this psalm on the Cross.

Here’s the deal, the saints were trained up with ongoing distraction in prayer and everything else by assenting in grace to grace grabbing their souls so that the greater love of God’s own love within us holds God as being more important than ourselves: the distraction is still there but who cares? That’s not what’s important. In fact, distraction helps us thank Jesus and walk with Him no matter the distraction.

This is a victory of the joy of the Holy Spirit in our souls. Yes. True joy of the Holy Spirit in the very midst of distraction. Yes. I love it. This is the victory of Jesus. He is risen from the dead, and working on our souls. He is truly risen.

Anecdote: I knew a guy who was overwhelmed with distraction and wanted some psych advice about this, and from the wrong crowd at the Gregorian University. I tried to dissuade him. Nope. He went, and came straight back, all the smarter as to why I wanted him to avoid them. They said that they would take away all his weakness, all his distraction, making him a fake automaton, mere Styrofoam. He exclaimed to them, immediately walking out: “No, that’s the only thing I have left, and you’re not going to take that away from me.” He was super wise, knowing that our our Lord uses our weakness to make us saints.

Saint Paul sums it up in his typical shorthand way of speaking and writing:

  • “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Get it? Use the very temptation to instead bring you closer to Jesus, remaining, by grace, closer to Him than every before.

This is the difference being arrogant, coming up with our own escapist way of salvation – “Let me pretend to be super-balanced and let me congratulate myself!” – and being humble, submitting to the cross of the consequences of original sin, which our Lord commands us to do: “Take up your cross!” Who the hell are we to tell Jesus “Non serviam! I will not serve!”? That’s what Satan says. We are not to say that we have progressed in the spiritual life because we think we have successfully suppressed any trace of weakness so that we have fake-saved ourselves and don’t need Jesus. That only leads to an explosion of arrogance and cynicism.

Humbly submitting to our punishment by not caving to ongoing temptation but in the face of it assenting to the saving grace of Jesus is joy in the Holy Spirit. Much better, that.

Are you also a worm and no man, like Jesus? Takes a bit of humility, doesn’t it?

But then we are trained up in matters spiritual, never congratulating ourselves for saving ourselves, thanking Jesus instead, and seeing ever so much more incisively how far He had to reach to get us, which is all the m0re reason to thank Him humbly, walking with Him, right to heaven.

Be trained up in the midst of distraction, whether you are target practicing or growing by leaps and bounds in the spiritual life.

And for all nay-sayers out there, who congratulate themselves that they are in a mystical union with the Most Holy Trinity, and have absolutely no distraction whatsoever, that they actually have the beatific vision already (and there are many like that), remember good old Saint John of the Cross, who, responding to a question from a novice in the spiritual life – and this is my paraphrase, obviously – said that our fallen human brains will always be going a zillion miles an hour, but we are trained in the midst of that distraction to assent to paying attention to that which, to He whom is more important; the distraction continues, but the soul learns by grace to stay with Jesus, the God of gods, the Lord of lords, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace, even in the midst of our distraction, He who will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Amen.

P.S. And if all the good that carrying a Glock will get me is that I have been able to make an analogy for the spiritual life by using tent worms while target practicing, so be it. I’m good with that. Absolutely. :-)

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“Old Slither” and Mary

“Old Slither” was seen near the hermitage, on the rock-garden wall in front of a statue of Jesus’ good mom, Mary. This is at the neighbors to the hermitage, just down the ridge. “Old Slither” has to play the part of getting stomped on as we read in Genesis 3:15. How’s your situational awareness? Can you see him in the picture above? Let’s take a closer look:

He thinks that hiding is going to save him? Don’t be fooled by this. He’s already been smashed down and has nothing by which we are to fear. Jesus commands us: “Fear not!” “Do not be afraid!”

Mary says the same thing also as a reprimand: “Of what are you afraid? Don’t you see that my Son has conquered by standing in your place, the Innocent for the guilty?”

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“Be the Gray Man” he said. Lessons from Laudie-dog. Just be the idiot, blood red.

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Above you’ll see Laudie-dog patrolling the impossible tunnel she’s made through the Jasmine vines, which don’t much offer her concealment while she takes in the situation of the neighborhood. After negotiating otherwise non-navigatable labyrinthine pathways, she shows herself victorious, quite content with herself, as if bragging about her over the top skill sets. Here she is, way down the fenceline in the other direction:

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The lesson, if you didn’t quite get it, is about how to be the “Gray Man”, someone who melts into the crowd unnoticed. Most people don’t get this at all. Take note that however much Laudie-dog is low-key, not drawing attention to herself, she doesn’t mind sticking out from her surroundings. I mean, she’s red, right? Take the hint about how to do the Gray Man thing the right way.

UBL (bin Laden, CIA “trained”) and his fellow terrorists were caught for trying too hard to be the Gray Man, you know, using different phones at different locations, never twice the same, so very careful. Not great training there. That was the clue: way too careful, way too gray, way too nothing. That’s tradecraft without common sense. No one does that. Ever.

Much better to be the bumbling idiot, like Laudie-dog is so very cleverly demonstrating above. No smarter dog than she. “Do the Gray Man thing” a friend suggested to me recently. Fine. But no. Yes and no. In my experience, the guy trying way too hard be the Gray Man sticks out in a crowd as if wearing a red jump suit. No, no. I’ll just play the idiot and in that way be the Gray Man… because there is always an entirely dismissable idiot or two in any crowd that everyone overlooks, because… you know… they’re just idiots.

I’m really good at it, because, you know, I have a lot of practice. It’s natural for me to be the idiot. Not being afraid to be the fool can save one’s life. I’ve done it a number of times.

Anecdote which I think I’ve mentioned before. I sometimes go out on a friend’s private back ridge somewhere in the heart of Appalachia here, doing up tactical pistol courses (FBI instructor, pre-2001 Air Marshal course, the SEAL course, and a number of LEO qualification courses for a change-up, etc.). Lots of fun. But three times a visitor came along on the opposite ridge, not so far away, who, not liking the sound of serious tactical pistol courses going on (definitely NOT just some haphazard target practice), decided to have some fun. He could see me out in the open but he was concealed. I wasn’t being the idiot while practicing, right? I was rather overt in some skill sets. I thought I was alone. “He” (I guess a male) sent some rather speedy rifle rounds my way, each of which smashed through even a half-dozen large branches in the forest. No mere AR can do that. And while those came quite close, above and to the two sides (the zoooosh sound the bullets make next to your head is rather unmistakable), he was just looking for me to – I suppose – shoot back, giving him an excuse. Running was impossible. Shooting back was impossible. I sat down right where I was, in the open and played the Hallelujah Chorus of Handel’s Messiah on my little phone speaker. The forest was dead quiet, and so that could actually be heard as if in a sound room even at a distance. I’m such an idiot. Who does that? Only an utterly dismissable idiot would do that. Must be a mistake with who this is, then. All shooting stopped. Each time. I’m such an idiot.

Be the Gray Man. To do it, don’t try too hard. Be the idiot. You’ll be utterly dismissable. I do. And I am dismissable, therefore invisible, gray, therefore still alive.

TO THE POINT: But when it comes to being the Catholic Priest, I don’t play politics. All the truth is proclaimed, always, to everyone, no matter what. If we do that, we’re not the Gray Man. We’re targets. Great. We’re idiots in the eyes of the world in that case, but this time not dismissable. As Saint John Paul II said, there have been more martyrs in this last century than in all the other centuries put together. When it comes to being Catholics, let’s not be afraid to be blood red. Not quite hidden, not quite the Gray Man:

Passion of the Christ - crucifixion

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Homily: Multiplication of the Loaves – Remember the gushing blood…

martyrdom of saint john the baptist

Perhaps like you never heard it presented: Remember the gushing blood…

I guess I got a bit passionate with this one. No apologies to the ever-naive. Grow up.

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Juneteenth of this white boy priest

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Black lives do matter. Blue lives of whatever color do matter. ALL LIVES MATTER. I’m told that I cannot make any statement about racism that can count as that which could possibly further the conversation in a good direction in that I’m surely just a privileged white boy (read white trash). Perhaps. Let me know in the comments if you’re brave enough to read to the end AND watch the short video farther below.

As you can see from the picture of yours truly above, this priest belongs to the ICPC (International Conference of Police Chaplains). That doesn’t mean I’m racist. Racism is one of the things that make me angry. Maybe I can write about that. I have already written about that many times in the past.

In fact, the protagonist super hero of an ecclesiastical thriller novel I wrote some years ago was “black.” I have a lot of my own personal autobiography in that character, Alexamenos. Is that “appropriation” or some other anti-social thing? No. I’m not making utitilitarian usage of “blackness” in having that character be “black.” It’s integral to the story line.

You can also see that my hair is shaved off in the picture above. The first real comment I’ve got on that was a happy and I must say sincere (in that point of view) congratulations, that finally I’m surely proclaiming myself to be a woke-racist, a skinhead. No. Don’t jump to conclusions.

That’s about solidarity with Danner (DANNERSTRONG), in town here, whose family I visited after Danner was diagnosed with an extremely rare incurable cancer whereby all parts of the body are manufacturing cancer in all other parts of the body. Danner, of course, lost all his hair. There is a lot of like solidarity with him here in town.

Right down, down the road, I saw this sign at a local gun store:

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Sigh.

June 19 used to be called Emancipation Day as this is day of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. The South, in instantaneous reaction, went to war with the North in a war they call the War of Northern Aggression. Look, I don’t know much about the terminology here, but I’m afraid that Junetenth is so far distant from the terminology about the liberation of African Americans that such emancipation will no longer be celebrated. I’m afraid that June 19 will be used only for the anti-police, homosexualist agenda of BLM. That would be truly sad, truly divisory, truly anti-human, where all are reduced to being judged by the color of their skin instead of the integrity of their character.

You want to know what I really think? I got just as emotional in solidarity with Charles E. Brown, Chief of Staff of these U.S. Air Force as he is emotional in the video below. After Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a dream speech,” this is one of the best speeches I have ever heard in my life. Really good, really worth the listen. Well spoken. This is truly a great man, a great American. He wants what is best for us all, together, as human beings.

Perfect. Thank you, General, sir. Tremendous. Hats off to you. Total respect. Thank you.

Here’s the deal. What I see when I see anyone, black, white, brown, yellow, olive… whatever… when I see anyone do see a color, and that color is blood red, regardless even of the integrity of their character. I see the blood of Jesus drenching them all, redeeming us all, regardless. I see that we all, whatever condition or circumstances we are in on whatever level in whatever manner, all need to come closer to the Son of the Living God, who came into this world to stand in our place, the Innocent for the guilty, so that He might save us, if we are willing, so that He might give us as a gift to the one who sent Him, Someone we now call OUR Heavenly Father. “Our” means no racism is allowed in heaven. We are all the children of God. ALL of us.

For God, black lives do matter. ALL lives matter. Because Jesus’ Blood matters. Get it?

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“All whites” guilty of police brutality of “blacks”? “All whites” must apologize to “blacks”?

A reader sent in the following comment on a previous post, but it is highlighted here for greater visibility. [[My preliminary comments.]]:

  • “Father, I’ve heard several Catholic radio show hosts and journalists talk about “collective guilt” as if it is a Catholic teaching. [[I’m happy not to listen to or read such things! And I would guess some rather important personages have pushed this in whatever way… right?]]  One person went so far as to say that “whites” should go to confession and confess their participation in white supremacy! I let fly a couple of “cazzos” myself when I read that. [[That demand is pretty much demonic. That’s what hell would be like. Sorry, but to follow suit, that kind of F***ery has to stop, and stop now.]] How abhorrent & divisive that comment is. [[Yes.]] Is this a thing? [[Sure hope NOT!]] If it is, then should Jewish people ask for forgiveness for the crucifixion of Jesus? [[Yes, they should, like each person who has ever existed, for we, all of us, together, will gaze upon Him whom we have all pierced through with original sin and whatever rubbish sin of our own. No one is exempt.]] Should all priests get down on their knees because of the sexual abuse scandals? [[In reparation for the sins of others if not their own, yes, of course, but not because as a category of people they are automatically guilty.]] Should every Church leader beg for forgiveness because some moved these predators from parish to parish? [[Those who have not done this can express their regret, which is different from saying they were personally guilty of such stupidity.]] I don’t believe so (well, maybe except for the last one…where’s the McCarrick report??). [[I would surely like to know who knew what when and why it is that we haven’t heard a thing… and the whole China thing…]] Can you discuss in detail in your next posting?”

So, some more general comments of my own:

  • Back in my seminary days, in moral theology class, or “pastoral theology” class [whatever that is… still haven’t figured that out…], it was common to hear statements always ambiguous, non-sensical in nature (error never makes sense), about societal sin, or collective guilt as it is now being called, I guess. I didn’t understand it then. I don’t understand it now. Not on this level. No one is forced to sin because “everyone is doing it” or “I’ll be thrown in the ovens if I don’t throw others in the ovens.” You can always chose to do what is right, and go to heaven.
  • Meanwhile, original sin, the just consequences of which chosen with the sin are suffered by all, throws upon us a collective guilt, not in the sense of a personal sin as if we were directly identified with Adam himself in his personal choice which affected all of us, but in the effects of not being able to correctly appreciate God and love Him as we ought and therefore guilty of sin in not loving God as we ought. But original sin, irony of ironies, is rejected outright by the same people that promote collective guilt for the actions of an individual who we never even heard about before.
  • In the midst of the collective guilt of all for the offenses dreamed up by those who are narcissistically entitled to accuse, the same people promoting that nonsense hold themselves to have been immaculately conceived and are still absolutely sinless, everyone except, of course, the Immaculate Conception herself, Jesus’ good mom. No, really.
  • Saint John Paul II did apologize as the Vicar of Christ on earth for sins against the Jews that were wrought by whomsoever, taking such guilt on himself, even though he was never ever anti-Jewish and was not at all in solidarity with those were truly guilty. Many were quite upset with him because of doing this as the Pope. He went on to explain that it is only right for Jesus’ own vicar to do this not because he is guilty, but because he is not. He held himself to be guilty because he was in solidarity with Jesus being in solidarity with us. A bit convoluted, you say? Let’s take a look:
  • God so loved the world that He sent His only Son to take our place, the Innocent for the guilty, to take on the justice we deserved – death – for the worst we could give out: death. Death is the just comeuppance of sin, of a creature shaking his fist at his Creator. In standing in our place, not only because of Adam’s sin, but for all sins of all individuals, something horrifying and marvelous at the same time takes place.  Imagine yourself going to Confession, confessing any and all sin that mankind can and does commit, but now replace yourself with Christ Jesus, so that He is confessing your sin as if it were His own. Yes. That is what He has done for us, accusing Himself of our sin. And He is given a penance, to be ripped to shreds and crucified, the baptism in blood which He so desired to accomplish for our sake… for… us…
  • But that doesn’t mean that “whites” should apologize to “blacks” for the abuse meted out by one “white” individual over against a “black” individual. No, that’s just stupid political correctness which sets up all the wrong dynamics of bullying and kowtowing, mob rule. Also, talk is cheap. Let’s see – if need be anywhere – training upgraded, etc.
  • What we must uphold is a Constitutional Republic with the rule of law, with any democratically elected officials of whatever party upholding that Constitution and the rule of law.
  • Due process for all is to upheld. If not, we descend into entitlement to lie for the money or “power” over others that accusation equated with automatic guilt brings in its wake.

Finally, stare at that drawing above. Gaze upon Him whom we have all pierced (see Revelation 1:7) even as He took upon the collective guilt of us all. Tears come to my eyes. I am reminded of the words of a Psalm: “To You all flesh will come with its burden of sin.”

It may be that someone or other will mock me or even commit some sort of violence against me for holding that forgiveness is necessary, saying that I don’t have standing in the matter, or that such is self-serving. I answer by saying that a lack of forgiveness will rot the soul of anyone and everyone. Lack of forgiveness never helps the wronged person, the true victim. Lack of forgiveness only brings hate and violence in its wake, a self-loathing, a self-destruction.

  • Holding out forgiveness doesn’t mean you can tell someone you forgive them, as they might just kill you, saying they have nothing for which to be forgiven.
  • Holding out forgiveness doesn’t mean the other person can ever take this in, but that’s irrelevant to you holding forgiveness out to them, at least spiritually, even unknown to them.
  • Holding out forgiveness doesn’t meant that the crime, the sin wrought wasn’t important and can be dismissed as if it were nothing.
  • Holding out forgiveness is not an invitation for someone to commit the crime or sin again.
  • Holding out forgiveness does an infinite amount of good to the one who holds out the forgiveness… regardless…
  • Holding out forgiveness means that one is freed from just being in reaction to someone else, to the perp criminal sinner. This is soooo beneficial to the person who is the victim. And, if the truth be known, it heaps burning coals on the head of the one who is guilty, frustrating them because they no longer have power over you. Maybe they will come round to Jesus.

A little bit challenging all of that? Sure, as much as staring at that picture above…

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Ascension Thursday (Sunday): It’s been 40(+) days. Today’s the day for flying lessons!

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[[ Update (May 24 2020): We’ll see if I can’t record the homily today and post it. The post below is from four years ago. ]]

“It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority. But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.'” (Acts 1:7-11 nab)

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The two prophets: Moses and Elijah?

The two men (andres)… Are they angels? Are they men? If men, could they be the Law and the Prophets, that is, Moses and Elijah, who, with Jesus, appeared to Peter, James and John on the top of Mount Tabor at the Transfiguration, and who were speaking with Jesus about the exodus, the death which He was to accomplish in Jerusalem. They, in Jesus, as it were, as the Law and the Prophets, would be slain by the great serpent, the ancient dragon. The Apostles need to preach to the whole world about Jesus being the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. Just a thought. Of course, I love the idea of these two being angels who are reprimanding the Apostles for gawking too long, as they needed to begin their work.

I am reminded of watching planes take off from the local airport which was situated right next to our house when I was a little kid. I would watch and watch until the planes disappeared. I would strain and look and catch another glimpse of the tiny dot in the far distance. Then it would disappear again for seconds on end. And I would strain and look and catch one last glimpse. And I was filled with wonder at what the view of the pilot must be, and about where he was going, and about just how very big the world must be. My dad was a Marine Attack Fighter pilot.

Jesus says that if we love Him, we are happy for Him that He has gone to the Father. Of course, we long to be there with Him. It is not as if He has abandoned us. He is with us until the close of the age. It’s not for us to know the times and seasons. It’s for us to be formed into being members of the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit, who will teach us all things in this way, that is, with us being made to be One with Christ Jesus, looking through, with and in Him to our Heavenly Father.

And although in this world we say, “Abba! Father!” as if we are in the agony of the Garden of Gethsemane with Jesus (the Ascension taking place just above that garden), we do so with a heavenly vision of the Father, that is, inasmuch as we are with Jesus. Unlike us, who, please God, will have the beatific vision in heaven, Jesus always and continues to have the blessed vision (for this was never given to Him, but instead was always with Him through the hypostatic union of the divine and human natures of His person). He sees God the Father for us who are yet on this earth, who, in the state of sanctifying grace, with the indwelling of the Most Holy Trinity, are nevertheless burdened with the darkened intellect consequent to original sin. But we are with Jesus, one with His Mystical Body. He is the Head of the Body. He sees for the Body. He presents us to God the Father in Himself.

Yes, we are to be happy that Jesus is with the Father, that He sees the Father for us who are here yet a little while longer, that He accompanies us in this way as we strive in His grace to fulfill the Law and the Prophets in our own lives in Jesus, we being prepared in this way to be ever so eager to be prompt in obedience on that day and in that moment when our names will be called in all love so that we immediately fly, fly… fly!… on our way, upward, please God, to the heavens! Talk about joy in the Holy Spirit at that moment! Yikes!

Update:

church of the ascension

Here’s the Church of the Ascension, perhaps the most desolate, barren, ugly church in the world. Weeds on the outside, trinkets being sold, walls surrounding it, it seems, not so much to protect it as to keep in from being seen. Islam took it after the crusaders were tossed out, and Muslims added the insult of sealing it up like a tomb and constructing a dome over the top of it so that, you know, no one would think that Jesus ascended into heaven from this spot. The crusaders purposely built it without a roof of any kind. But, instead, Islamic intolerance is what it is.

But here’s the deal: We’re supposed to evangelize Muslims as well! ;-)

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A Coronavirus Easter Triduum Octave

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The Empty Tomb! The Light is shining brightly. Here’s the Easter Fire we had…

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The Light of Christ always was and is and will be shining. Christ’s love, His grace, His presence within us, a love stronger than death, bringing us from the darkness of this world to eternal life, comes from – just to say it – Jesus, who is always alive even in His momentary physical death. We see that glory of the only Begotten of the Father in the darkness of Calvary – glory unto glory of the Light from Light, a love that is proven, with wounds, with taking on our punishment of our sin, standing in our place, the Innocent for guilty, to have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us. We all look upon Him whom we have all pierced.

Because He endured to the end, dying for us, He conquered, and is is victorious. He has the right to give us the wherewithal, that grace, that friendship, that we might walk with Him in this world right unto the next, even with our justly still suffering the effects of original sin, our own personal sin, and the sin of others while we are yet in this world. We are weak and continue to be weak. But He is strong and draws us up into His strength.

Even the weakness helps us, reminding us of why we need salvation out of the total hell of this world so that we might be brought to heaven in eternity. We are so very weak that we need to be reminded. All things work together for the benefit of those who believe. We find our security in His love that is, again, stronger than any weakness, stronger than any disease, stronger than death. This brings us joy, and a peace adequate to go on because this is not just some intellectual “ideology”, but a living faith, a bond of charity with God Himself. It’s personal.

Yes, there is an empty Saint Peter’s Square and empty Saint Peter’s Basilica:

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So what?! Everyone is scampering to meet Jesus in the upper room and then up in Galilee. Great. I’m running 24/7 all this time. Aren’t you? Peter and the “other Apostle” ran to see the Empty Tomb. Great. But then what…

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“Let’s go fishing…”

We are so very weak.

More on that later.

Meanwhile, this is the Octave of Easter. It’s like Easter Sunday every day until next Sunday.

I, for one, am exhausted from my scampering about. I can’t speak much about all that as there are different interpretations of the law regarding quarantines. I just do what I need to do to provide the Sacraments. Clever as snakes but innocent as doves and all that. But, thanks be to God, I am joyful, and at peace. Thanks be to God.

I hope ye are all doing well. Happy Easter to ye all. Be at peace. With joy.

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Sacred Heart to St Margaret analogy for Coronavirus times

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Meanwhile, edition)

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We gotta get this straight: this isn’t a situation in which one says: The Coronavirus is getting out of hand… and… and… meanwhile, I think I’ll give a flower to the Immaculate Conception. No. It’s while we give flowers to the Immaculate Conception that we happen to have the Coronavirus going on. It makes a huge difference. It’s about the spiritual life. The Lord Jesus provides us with a love stronger than death.

  • Crux stat dum volvitur orbis.
  • The Cross reigns steadfast while the world spins away.

Let’s see… Mary standing under the Cross… So, a flower for you, Mary, always, and also in the time of Coronavirus.

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Lenten Transfiguration of Jesus. Arise! Let us be going!

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Calm quarantine strategies, not panic

pan

First  of all, we are not in any kind of stage of a quarantine of any kind. San Francisco called for a State of Emergency, but that was just a cynical move to release Federal monies they otherwise can’t get at this time for sanctuary cities. It has nothing to do with any COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus. No. Demoncrats are self-centered jerks and want to cause panic.

And I don’t say we are any kind of stage of a quarantine YET. No. That also would be to panic. See above.

Having said that, let’s take the worst case scenario – a declared pandemic – so as to point out how to avoid the worst case scenario, which would not refer to any medical condition (more people dying from the flu or smoking or car accidents…), but rather panic, which would be the logistical cause of death for hyperbolically more cases of death. So…

  • The other week a reporter asked POTUS Trump whether or not plans were already in place for the quarantine of entire cities if the need arises. He answered yes.
    • I’m sure that if this were to be effected it would be done so by the National Guard before anyone knows, including all law enforcement, who will likewise be quarantined in place in their cities.
    • Immediately after the National Guard is in place for a no one in-or-out scenario, health officials and law enforcement will be privy to policies and enforcement and rules of engagement.
    • It would be extremely helpful if in the same announcement it was said that food delivery trucks to supermarkets will have drop off locations at the border of the quarantine and that other trucks from inside will later come to pick up that food and deliver it to local supermarkets.
    • Gasoline deliveries? I guess they would have to be made when the stations are otherwise abandoned.
    • It would have to be stated that utilities will continue.
    • Extremely severe penalties for price gauging and looting would have to be stated.
  • demon panThe worst possible thing that could happen is panic. In that case, there will immediately be home invasions of idiots looking for food, not because there is any lack of food, but just because of panic. This will be done by those who have already been spending all their money on drugs. And they are well practiced with home invasions. Not good.
  • Panic in this sorry world of ours – the mob mentality which eliminates all “inhibitions” like reason and goodness and kindness and courage and fortitude and justice and mercy – the eliminator of all that is good in the chaos of panic is the demon-god Pan. This is not the too-cute and effeminate Peter Pan of Disney, but rather the ancient demon of all demons, Satan, who, as Jesus says, is a murderer from the beginning. Panic is the worst thing that can happen.
  • What is most needed in a Pan-Dem-ic is to not cave into panic, to not cave into Pan-Demon-ium. Get it? Pan in Greek means all or everything or everyone: “Everybody’s panicking!!!!!!!”
  • To panic is to give reverence to the demon-god pan. Panic makes one a worshiper of Pan. Panic makes one a pagan, an idol-worshiper. “Oooh! Pan told me to worry and have anxiety and to panic, so, therefore, of course, ever-obedient to demons, I will! I will panic! I will! I will! // off sarcasm.
  • So, an examination of conscience is in order. What or who is the most important thing, person, during a pandemic? Christ Jesus. If we have our spiritual lives squared away, if we are actually looking forward to going to heaven, trusting in the mercies of our Lord, we will not cave in to panic, we will not worship at the feet of Pan.
  • For atheists who mock faith in the time of crisis as the opiate of society, know this, the only ones I’ve ever seen help each other out in desperate times are believers. This is especially true in Socialist/Communist/Marxist countries. You know that’s true. I’ve seen it first hand. Believers have extraordinary strength of love and reason because of the love and truth they carry about within them coming from God Himself.

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  • Where is God in all of this? Look for those who are trying to be helpful in all of this. Look at Jesus’ good mom holding God in her arms…
  • But why did God let this happen?
    • Let’s call to mind that original sin opened us up to all of this sickness and death and weakness of mind and weakness of will and emotions all over the place.
    • Let’s call to mind that God so loved that world despite our use of free will that He sent His only-Begotten Divine Son Jesus – basing mercy on justice – to stand in our place, the Innocent for the guilty, taking on the punishment we deserve so that He might have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us.
    • Let’s call to mind that God thus knows all about suffering, and all about combating panic and the horrific demon-god Pan.
    • Let’s call to mind that Jesus does give us the grace, His friendship, to be reasonable, to be calm, to be good and kind, not to panic, but to be helpful, pointing people to Him who is that love which is stronger than sickness, stronger than any pandemic, stronger than death, strong enough to bring us to eternal life, to our eternal home, where love and peace reign supreme. Heaven is our home and we are now – in this hell – in exile away from home. But we do have a home in heaven, and we right now carry about the way to that home, grace which St Paul says will turn to glory.

So, no worries then! Jesus, I joyously trust in You.

JESUS I AM

Meanwhile, I’ve lost 52.xx pounds on Keto so far, and I’m going off Keto soon, transitioning over to something more high protein and not neglecting carbs. Trundling off to Walmart grocery to stock up on non-Keto items, I noticed lots of almost empty shelves, just a few packages of oatmeal, a packet or two of lentil beans, that kind of thing. It looked like panic buying. That’s O.K. Those panic buyers are all set now and won’t be emptying out stores in panic buying. Don’t panic. Instead, drop off real dead weight that holds you back. Go to Confession!

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“The piercing insights” of Fr Byers…

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Sometimes people will comment that there is sometimes some piercing insight on this blog. A priest friend made this comment the other day. He’s very clever. And kryptic.

You have to know that many of the more brilliant minds have made it clear that they are sick and tired of “insight” and “the latest thing” and “being up to date”. It’s all too much. Too tiresome. Breathless. And therefore boring.

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But this priest friend is so very kryptic that I knew he had something more in mind. Rumination on his “piercing insight” comment was the order of the day. It struck me early on that he was speaking of the insight, quite literally, if you will, that the soldier on Calvary had in looking into the side of Jesus – to the Heart of our Lord – that he had just then pierced open with a wound large enough for – say – Thomas the doubter to place his hand into.

That soldier on Calvary – with this piercing insight, if you will – then immediately exclaimed: Truly this Man was the Son of God.

My own piercing insight, if I have any whatsoever, is that my sin has pierced Him through, you know, like the Roman soldier, just to make sure that He’s dead.

We read in the Apocalypse 1:7 –

  • “Behold, he is coming amid the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him. All the peoples of the earth will lament him. Yes. Amen.”

Have mercy, Lord, have mercy.

 

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Not Three Kings, but Three Wise Women?!

This was sent in to Arise! Hmmm… Let’s take a look at that… [The one who sent this in, BTW, has a great sense of humor, and won’t mind a bit that I’m fisking this dish cloth hanging in front of the stove. What I say, although incisive, will I hope, also bring about a wee laugh.]

  • Three Wise Women would have ignored the guiding star instead asking directions to a place they had no idea where it was and so couldn’t ask directions and so would get themselves into trouble, at the least being sold into slavery…
  • Three Wise Women, in ignoring the star and so arriving in what they themselves think is on time – they being so wise – would have instead messed up the divine providence of the timing so that Herod would have been successful in killing Jesus with all the boys of Bethlehem two years old and under…
  • Three Wise Women would have tried to help the deliver the baby, which, instead of being born in the normal way, had a miraculous birth, much like how Jesus Himself walked right through the closed and locked doors of the Upper Room after the Resurrection, and this would have made them upset, because, you know, they came all that way…
  • Because of being upset with the miraculous birth, the three Wise Women would have ignored the moment and purposely busied themselves with the feces of the animals, because that’s the most important thing at the moment. We should call to mind that when Jesus’ good mom appeared to Bernadette in Lourdes, it was in the cave filled with pig-feces, symbolic of what was going on in Lourdes at the time. Mary is used to humble circumstances, and in being in solidarity with us, even standing under the Cross in all the violence, in the … feces of our sins.
  • Three Wise Women would have made a casserole, ignoring Hebrew dietary laws but bullying their way along, making everyone sad…
  • Three Wise Women wouldn’t realize the most practical thing in the world is to pray, not doing the Martha thing running about in frantic mode, but doing the Mary thing, at the feet of Jesus, in this case listening to His baby cooing.
    • Instead of gold for a king as a symbol of His good providence in governance for the poor ones of His little flock, the three Wise Women would have started a much more practical interest-bearing bank account, perhaps with Herod. Who else?
    • Instead of frankincense for The Priest as a symbol of how He would offer Himself in sacrifice for us, the Innocent for guilty, and so having the right in His own justice to have mercy on us, the three Wise Women would have given him Febreze™ Plug In Scents to suffocate the smells of the cave.
    • Instead of Myrrh used for the burial of a corpse – such as Jesus would surely be in speaking the Truth and thus being killed off like any prophet – the three Wise Women would have gifted Him normal spices that they could mix up in the casserole they themselves would eat.

And all this – let us be most clear – NOT because they are women, but because these three individual women would proclaim themselves as being wise (which the three kings never did), ending up, in their lack of wisdom, rejecting the entire economy of salvation to put themselves in front of everyone, drawing attention to themselves, you know, all in the name of Feminism, which brings the peace of a mere lack of war, what with everyone being dead already, instead of the sword of division which Jesus in His perfect wisdom came to bring, a sword of truth which instead brings us to reality, to repentance, to forgiveness, and therefore to love and respect for others, unto truth and the joy of the Holy Spirit, and therefore unto the true peace of Heaven. Jesus is the Prince of the Most Profound Peace. I’ll stick with His ways so far above the ways of any of us who think we are wise. We have all sinned against Him whom we have all pierced. We have all thought ourselves to be wise… So… Jesus is the One. He’s the only One.

Having said all that, I have to say that that dish towel perfectly sums up the Benedictine sisters I had for teachers when I was kid, that is, after 1968 and into the early 1970s. Yikes!

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Mortuary Christmas 23 Dec 2019

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It’s what priests do, you know, when they are with those who are on the peripheries of society and family or friends are not available for whatever reason. We are called upon to “identify the body” at the mortuary. It’s a legal exercise. There are forms to fill out, IDs to be photocopied and put on record, signatures to be scrawled. I’m sure many of you have had the experience.

Jesus didn’t come to be born among us because we were all effervescent and nice and without the consequences of original sin such as sickness and death and suffering the aggression of others whilst we remain in exile on this earth and away from heaven (as we must hope). He came among us because of the violence and darkness and hell and, yes, death all around us and we ourselves dropping into the grave. He was born in a cave to be buried in a cave, and then rise and bring us to life.

So, does the visit to the mortuary become a downer, as is said, just before Christmas? Not at all. It instead puts an edge on Christmas. We know all the better by experience why it is that Jesus came among us. It’s an occasion to say:

Thank you Jesus for coming into this world amidst all of our death and destruction. Thank you for forgiving us and bringing us close to you, unto heaven. Thank you.

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Christmas nostalgia. Going back in time.

I get terribly nostalgic at Christmas time, as it should be. Wouldn’t the good shepherds who watched their flocks by night recount when the Christ Child was sent, their fear and trembling when they received the announcement and then saw the heavens break open and heard the choirs of angels sing? Wouldn’t they have spoken in hushed tones full of reverence and awe as they called to mind the humble scene of the animals and the manger, the little babe in swaddling clothes, the gentle virgin and attentive Joseph, the singing of the angels still resounding joyfully in their ears?

As they put on some years they would be looking the wood of the manger become the wood of the cross, at least figuratively speaking. They would understand that this Child was, in fact, born to die, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace, Himself the Shepherd who doesn’t run away.

I can’t help but put up these videos from a long defunct blog of mine, videos which travel along the cliffs of Mount Carmel that run underneath Elijah’s cave. Ah, yes, the dire circumstances of the cave at his birth, and the dire circumstances of the cavernous sepulcher at His death. But then the Resurrection.

And He is with us with a love stronger than death, a love bringing us through death to heaven, those eternal habitations.

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Three meetings of John and Jesus

martyrdom of saint john the baptist

  1. John is still in the womb at his first meeting with Jesus, who is also in the womb, working His first miracle of grace for John, who is sanctified in the womb, leaping for joy while his mother, Elizabeth, is filled with the Holy. This means that, unlike us, John is born holy, and the greatest among all those born of women for this reason. But Jesus says that the smallest in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he. That would be Mary, who calls herself the Immaculate Conception. She was sanctified not just later on in the womb, but at the very moment of her conception. She was already transformed in grace from that very moment, when she is so very small, and so very humble, already rejoicing in the greatness of the Lord. She, as Queen of Heaven and Earth, angels and men, the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God, is still the Immaculate Conception. Transformed in grace at that instant, she was already doing the will of God and continued that until now. Yes, she’s greater in her smallness, in her humility.
  2. The second meeting is the baptism of Jesus. John is the greatest prophet. He knows all the prophesies about the Messiah being the Suffering Servant. He knows all about the Lamb in the future that God would provide as the One to take away our sins. But he is stunned – in the moment – that Jesus would come down for his baptism, which was, after all, unto the remission of sin, and the Messiah would be sinless. Jesus’ explanation was brief, and John, being the greatest, understood. The symbolism of the baptism was that people were admitting that they were guilty of enslaving each other in sin, and should be punished with drowning just like the soldiers and charioteers of Pharaoh, pursuing the chosen people in the Red Sea, were drowned for having enslaved the chosen people in physical labor. If Jesus were to come down into the waters He would be saying to His Heavenly Father: “Father, treat me as if I’m guilty for having enslaved everyone in sin, from Adam until the last man is conceived.” John understood: Jesus is the suffering servant. Jesus was then baptized. But then Jesus said that now He longs for the Baptism for which He came, the baptism in His own blood.
  3. The third meeting between John and Jesus was by proxy. John was now in prison for having preached about Jesus and for having preached the commandments terribly out of season, to Herod. He would surely get his head cut off. So John has a snarky kind of rude question asked to Jesus by his disciples: “Are you really the Messiah, or should we look for another.” After all, it’s just fine for the Messiah to be the Suffering Servant, but – Hey! – what about John in prison?! Jesus lists off all the things that the disciples of John had already seen, the sick cured, the dead raised, all that. But Jesus doesn’t include freedom specifically for John the prisoner, but simply adds: “Blessed are those who take no offense at me” (the subtext being: even those who don’t get something for themselves in this world). John has to figure out what this means, and there is only one possible meaning, that Jesus considers John to be such a good friend that He is going to allow John to share in the Messiah’s sufferings. This is about friendship. It’s a privilege to witness to Jesus even unto death. John was then, of course, supremely happy. His was a happy death.

John is – dare I say it – a Co-Redeemer in the sense that he also belongs to the Body of Christ. When Christ lays down His life for us He also lays down our lives. Thank you, Jesus, our Redeemer alone, but with friends. “I call you friends.”

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Humility, please!

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Hanging off of Jesus, listening (Luke 19:48)

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If bible translators would stop dumbing down the Scriptural text and just give us exactly what’s there we would all be a lot better off. I think that a lot of the lack of preaching about Jesus, the lack of friendship with Jesus among so many in the Church today is because we don’t know Jesus, because we have not been properly introduced to him. Ideology gets in the way. Lets take a look at Luke 19:48 for a good example:

  • From the Greek: ὁ λαoς γαρ ἅπας ἐξεκρέματο αὐτοῦ ἀκούων.
  • Pedantic translation: for all the people were hanging off of Him, listening. [This is very personal. Jesus is important. He is Emmanuel, God with us. That’s most important. Now that we are enthralled by that, let’s also listen to Him! The message is important because of the Messenger.]

Among dozens of translations, I found a few with versions of that exact translation. It is possible. It’s right there. It’s not difficult. But most have something quite different:

  • For all the people were hanging upon his words. [But not Him. We wouldn’t want that, I guess. Better something academic, that we can consider as the mature people we are and reject or not, just words, an ideology, but not at all something so serious as God among us. Right?]
  • For all the people listened with admiration. [Again forgetting about Jesus.]
  • For all the people were suspended by his words, listening. [Really about the message. Intensely. But the Messenger?]
  • For all the people were suspended, listening to him. [I guess they were all hanging from trees, listening anyway?]
  • For all the people were suspended from his lips. [That’s the one I like the best. I guess that translator was from the Mursi tribe in Africa.]

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The greatness of nothing and useless: judgment and entering into life eternal

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This statement of accomplishment is nailed up next to the main entrance of a parishioner to whom I frequently bring Holy Communion. He an Air Force Veteran full of stories and laughter. He looks at sickness and not-all-that-distant death as just another task that he’s obliged to do, you know, like Jesus says:

  • “When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are useless servants. We’ve only done what we were obliged to do.'” (Luke 17:10)

When we of ourselves, apart from the Lord, dream up all sorts of things to do which are not His will for us, we’re actually just doing nothing. So, we’re pretty useless. At least I can dream up all sorts of distractions to be distracted with.

Meanwhile, if we set out to do the Lord’s will for us, He’s not merely going to help us, He’s going to do it, meaning, He will draw us up into His love and goodness and kindness and truth, and this… He… will be the driving force accomplishing what we have to do, what we obliged to do.

What an honor to be able to say that we’ve only done what we were obliged to do, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else, just the Lord’s will, glorious, majestic, with honor, with honor, with honor.

My goal in life, so to speak, as it were, is to do nothing of my own, to do only what I’m obliged to do. That would be a dream come true. St Paul says, crucified to ourselves so as to live for Christ.

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