Category Archives: Jesus

Donkeys that don’t float downstream. Blast from the past: Fish that swim.

donkey floating

This floating donkey, seemingly with no hooves whatsoever, was seen in the pasture next to The Barn in Hanceville, Alabama. He’s not floating downstream, as it were, but purposely lets himself be drawn to the donkey whisperer (that would be me). A distantly analogous post on another long locked down blog comes to mind. Don’t be afraid. ///

fish dead floating downstream

Floating downstream isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. You end up in sedentary pools on the sides of the stream, clogged with other fish as effectively dead as yourself.

Mind you, it’s not that masses of people float downstream because there are no benefits. Political correctness brings it’s own perks. First off, don’t think that one doesn’t get used to floating downstream, or even to getting caught stuck in fetid eddies with fellow fish. For selfish motives, such as job advancement and popularity, the feeling of power one has with being “successful”, a “consensus builder”, one can get used to anything, and then, in fact, fool oneself into thinking that one is actually enjoying oneself. The power of it all!

I mean, just think, one only has to look at the few dead fish within one’s self-imposed, extremely limited horizon, those who are with you, floating, unmoving, pretending not to be the floatsum these have made of themselves, insisting that, if anything, in a victim mentality, they are simply jetsam, getting along like everyone else, cleverly doing what one has to do to get along as a victim in this fallen society of ours, pretending all the while not to be depressed and falling into despair, because, in all actuality, one might no longer be reclaimable again by way of confession, by way of bearing the fruits of repentance, but lost forever as derelict, beyond the mercy of God and God-inspired compassion of real men (all of which is never the case as long as we have breath: Dum spiro spero!).

I mean, just think, it’s not so bad, after a while, even if it’s a good while. Not only can we can get used to anything, we can even start to rejoice in the good points of one’s fellow rotting fish:

  • Their scales glint in the sun, a rainbow of colors. Such distraction!
  • Their stench is actually kind of sweet, complacency of lifestyle!
  • The antics of the little parasites crawling in and around them are fascinating to watch, a great passtime. I want some too!
  • There’s no stress, no change, no challenge to grow. I’ve arrived!

And besides, “Everyone floats downstream!” — which is the useless defense before the judgment of God concerning whether we go to heaven or hell, a defense made by someone who is falling into despair and calling out for help.

bear salmon

Swimming upstream is altogether different. One is swimming, sleek and agile, exercised, full of energy, in the middle of the stream, in clear, sky blue, sparkling waters. With deft, lightning movements, one navigates not just around the few dead fish one had been with, but around countless others, always more. Not a pretty sight, but one is instead enjoying enthusiastic freedom, darting in and out, here, then there, always in the clear waters of God’s grace, always in humble thanksgiving. In exhilaration, one leaps out of the water and into the sunshine, high into the air, taking in the view: Wow! Look at those mountains! How tall the trees are! Yikes! A Kodiak Bear! A monster! A demon! An agent of Satan! The bear, of course, eats whatever fish forget humble thanksgiving and trust in their own talents, conglatulating themselves for being good, putting others down as worthless, and so rejecting their own redemption by the Son of Man, the Son of God.

There are even more benefits, mind you, to swimming upstream with humble thanksgiving for God’s grace, not only avoiding the bears and avoiding dead fish (though giving them good example and wishing that they turn around), but also — and this is not selfish — but also rejoicing in the height and depth and breadth, the entire expanse of God’s intimate, joyful love for us. We come to know Him as THE FISH, in Greek, Ichtus, ιχθυς, the letters of which stand for Jesus Christ God’s Son Savior, with the last word being a translation of the first word.

fish ichtus jesus christ gods son savior

Traced out in the forest next to the hermitage. As mentioned in another post, a Baptist who grew up not far from the hermitage and is now Catholic did the same next to the hermitage the other day. He’s wanting to be a seminarian for the Diocese of Charlotte. Outreach to the local Baptists back in the days of the hermitage is bearing fruit. Thank you, Jesus.

In early centuries under Roman persecution of Catholics, the faithful would get to know each other safely by way of code… by way of tracing out a fish on the ground with a stick, ever so casually, and if the other did the same, ever so casually, one would know that one was safely in the company of a fellow Catholic.

Jesus, like Jonas, was in the belly of the whale, the earth, for three days and three nights, but then was spit out, that is resurrected from the dead. He suffered like a dead fish, but death had no grip on Him. Jesus is just that good, just that kind, to us, who have all been dead fish, floating downstream, but whom He has saved, to have us swim upstream, with Him, with agility of soul, rejoicing.

So, what does all that have to do with the seemingly floating donkey at the top of this post, the one willingly drawn to yours truly, the donkey whisperer? Well, it’s like this: Jesus is the soul whisperer, with His quiet voice, speaking into our souls, drawing us to Himself like a Star Trek tractor beam. That’s a matter of salvation and love, not at all of political correctness. We show all of our rottingness to Jesus in Confession, and then He makes all things new. And I’m very happy about that. Very happy indeed.

Also, just to say, and it always happens this way, and I already knew it would be the same this time as well… I knew that being in heaven on earth down in Hanceville at The Barn would be a God given respite, however short, for the times to come in the immediate foreseeable future. I knew I would be extremely busy, literally run off my feet, not getting back home most nights until the wee hours of the morning and having to get up hours before sunrise to start on the run again. I love begin available for my ailing parishioners. I admit I have not been all too available to write some comments about two books I’m supposed to read at the request of some, but I’m getting to that soon!

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Filed under Donkeys, Jesus, Spiritual life

The return of this Jackass for the Hour

crucifix

This “Donkey”[!] is found crucified above the tabernacle (see: “Brother Ass” in “The Barn” Mon-Wed) of the absolutely gorgeous Turris Davidica chapel found inside “The Barn” where yours truly went for a day of recollection with “The Very”, the Vicar Forane of the Smokey Mountain Vicariate of the Diocese of Charlotte. Note the cross inside each of the golden stars of David.

There are, perhaps, nearly 100% of readers who will think that it is rude to refer to anyone as a donkey, and should this appellative be used for the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception that this would certainly be counted as blasphemy. But this is a badge of honor for Jesus, for He did that which is much more “blasphemous” for us, becoming “sin” for us, as Saint Paul says. Jesus was a Jew, and the Jews were always referred to by this symbol of humble hard work by the surrounding nations. Don’t forget that donkeys can sing and are intelligent, only doing what they understand (really smart, that), not at all stubborn like mules. Also recall that donkeys are everywhere with the Holy Family. Here are some pics from the massive bronze doors of the larger chapel (some hundreds of yards from “The Barn”):

donkey 4

donkey 2

Of course, a donkey also brought our Lord into the city of Jerusalem for His crucifixion…

Thanks to all those who said a prayer for yours truly these past few days. The day of recollection went very well. Priests can stay at “The Barn” for free. Only priests can stay at “The Barn.” Many priests from the Diocese of Charlotte take refuge in “The Barn” on a regular basis. It’s equidistant for me to Charlotte one way and “The Barn” the other way. Another priest, from Saint Anne’s, is there today for the feast of the translation of the relics of Saint Clare. O.K. Those are enough hints. Do you know where this is?

Anyway, the “return” mentioned in the title of this post doesn’t refer to me being back in the parish so much as an advance in the Chestertonian sense of the return of the fallen creature back to its Creator by way of the redemption. I mentioned to one of the wonderfully Catholic priests to be found in the environs of “The Barn” about Jackass for the Hour, saying that everything has changed so very much in the last few years that I doubt if I could even revise such an ecclesiastical thriller novel that goes to the black heart of and offers solutions for the Rebellion so ubiquitously and wrongly called the Reformation, and that the Scriptural commentary on the “Dog-Woman” that I wrote would hardly be able to be received by anyone anymore. I was, of course, gently but firmly reprimanded, being told not to be despondent. Donkeys are quite miserable if they are despondent, and that just won’t do at all. So, joy with the singing of a donkey, a braying which is also praying, on the march, as donkeys do.

And if there are still readers who don’t like it when priests are called guard-donkeys:

DONKEY FOX

And if there are still those who think that it is inappropriate for priests or anyone for that matter to be called any kind of donkey at all, I simply cite Saint Augustine in response:

“Asinus es sed Christum portas” (You are a jackass, but you carry Christ).

And if there are still those who hesitate, I offer this Orthodox kind-of-an-icon (slightly damaged through the years with window-sealer… sorry!) for their contemplation. Remember, that we carry Christ within us. We also carry each other. We belong to the Body of Christ, with Christ as the Head and we as the members, with His Most Sacred Heart inflaming ours with the fiery ardent love of the Holy Spirit to the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Saint Augustine donkey icon

And if there are still those who hesitate about the appropriateness of all this hopefully childlike joy and not childish idiocy, please feel free to call me the donkey-priest. I will simply laugh with appreciative enthusiasm. I still think I have too much fun.

Oh, and did I mention that Saint Francis called himself Brother Ass?

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Filed under Donkeys, Jesus, Jewish-Catholic dialogue

Flores for the Immaculate Conception (my mistaken identity crisis edition)

flores trumpet 1

The above trumpetyesque flowers are not the trumpet vine flowers below:

flores trumpet 2There was recently a comment on a blog I do not own which identified Father Gordon J MacRae and yours truly, Father George David Byers, as being one and the same person, I suppose because our names both begin with “Father G.” My first thought is, poor Father Gordon! I mean, that’s a compliment for me but should he have to wear that part about being me? That’s just not right. People have also done this for years with Father Z and myself, even though “Z” and “G” appear in different places in any alphabet. As it is, I’ve never personally met either Father G (you know, the other one) or Father Z, though we have lots of contact with each other.

I stand in solidarity with and have defended (ad nauseam for some) both Fathers Z and G (you know, the other one), not that Father Z nor Father G (you know, the other one) need any defense whatsoever, especially from the likes of this North-woods and now back-ridge mountain boy some call Father G (you know, yours truly). Anyway, this is a problem should yet another Father G (my spiritual director, Father George) make his way to the parish on Highway 64, which is named after yet another Father G altogether (ol’ retired Father George). What to do? Hey! I know! Just call me Pope George, but, oh, wait, that’s taken already: Pope Jorge (George) Bergoglio of Saint Francis fame. Sigh. I have no identity of my own whatsoever. I’m just another Father G lost in a sea of those called Father G.

Or maybe I could just give up finding my identity through the unfixable confusion of others and discover that I find my identity in Jesus Christ, Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, who willingly stood in my place taking on my identity as the worst sinner ever, knowing that I’ve tortured Him to death on the cross with my sin, and He then having the right in His own justice to command His/Our Heavenly Father: “Father, forgive them!” I’m happy that in Italian, Jesus is just another Father G = Gesù = Jesus. ;-)

And should I really need to carry this on to the extreme, the name of our Heavenly Father is also Father G, that is Father George: ὁ πατήρ μου ὁ γεωργός ἐστιν (John 15:1) — “My Father is George,” that is, the Farmer, the Tiller of the Ground, you know, the Adam of the Adamah. ;-)

I think I just have too much fun. Probably because the Immaculate Conception, standing under the cross, has a big enough heart to take in all those called Father G, and I’m very, very happy about that, and that’s where I find my identity, one loved by Jesus and His good mom even while I’m yet a sinner. I could dance I’m so happy. And I won’t be shamed into stopping dancing by those of sour face fame:

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Filed under Jesus, Priesthood, Vocations

Box-in manuevers, shooting cars in my parish: boring druggies but not Jesus

In the same part of my parish where the ol’ PIT manuever takes place with increasing frequency (see: Guns, PITs, yours truly, a new friend), there are those who, being knuckleheads and all, try to do the box-in manuever.

This has never played out on me in my life as I had an experience some thirty years ago when three 18-wheelers mistook me, I guess, for someone else, and boxed me in, putting the crush on with just inches, it seemed, from the bumpers of my car to the back and front bumpers of the 18-wheelers to the front and back of me. The other was just to my left. In order not to be crushed, which was imminent, I would have to zip out on to the shoulder to the right, which was only one car width wide, as there was a guard rail. Just when I was about to jump out – and they knew this (good timing on their part) and I couldn’t see it – there was a broken down vehicle on the shoulder which I would have slammed into at full speed. I knew that that might be the case, and so just avoided it at the last second, but jumped out and slammed on the brakes right afterward, with all three 18-wheelers also slamming on their brakes. But they had to keep going nonetheless. Heh heh heh. That experience stuck with me, and so I notice the possible situation developing when such a configuration on the road arises.

I met a lady, a wonderful pro-life activist, who happened to be at one of my stops on the rounds to those needing accompaniment in one way or the other. Amazingly, she knew a couple of my good friends and heroines from back in the day, Donna Steichen (who had wanted to write about me, of all people, though I declined) and Rita Marker. It was these characters who pushed me to get to know Father Paul Marx when I was just a little kid, a friendship that would continue decades, with him asking me to take over Human Life International (though control had just gone to the board, with the members wanting to go the way of – how to say this – someone more conciliatory than Father Marx, who was always friendly by the way). Anyway, she told me that the box-in manuever has been tried on her in this part of my parish with some frequency, once with the same knuckleheads doing this to her twice in a row, failing both times as she knows how to slam on her brakes and have the whole thing recorded on 911. Heh heh heh.

The idea for the perp is to pull in front of you, that is, right in front of you, just feet away, and then slam on the brakes at 55 miles an hour. You want to pull out to the other lane but cannot because his buddy has planted himself right next to you. Your only other option is the ditch, but on these roads there isn’t much of a shoulder, more often just the white line and a drop off gully that would make your car flip. But even if you try to avoid them, risking grave injury or death to yourself, you still end up rear-ending them while slamming on your brakes as they are just too close. No one is seriously hurt but they collect big time, you know, because you were following too closely. The way out of this for the would-be victim is to slam on the brakes before it happens. That’s what my activist friend does. That’s what I’ve always done. I can’t even count the times. And in slamming on the brakes when I suspect this, very frequently the other vehicle does the same, but then it’s too late for them as I’m already stopped dead out of harm’s way. :-)

I’m guessing that the PIT and box-in manuevers are used by some of the same knuckleheads who take pot shots at people passing by on whatever road. Quite a number of parishioners have mentioned this to me and are pretty disgusted by it, angry even. It seems to be quite the pass-time in a particular region of my parish. Some of those they shoot at are highly decorated WWII veterans who just don’t need that un-American, un-patriotic, inhuman aggravation in their lives. Ah well. All in a day’s occasions to turn to the Lord and, with the Lord’s goodness and kindness, hold out a spirit of forgiveness to the coward perps. After all, they’re probably on meth, right?

Druggies are boring because they can’t drive and they can’t shoot. They’re just boring. And sin is boring. The only One enthralling totally is the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace, Christ Jesus, who will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire, just the one they need to be introduced to all the more. Hmmm…. Maybe that’s why my guardian angel is setting up such scenarios. ;-)

BTW: I love my parish to pieces. One reader suggested my being a chaplain to the local law enforcement. Don’t think I haven’t offered to help start up programs for them in this regard but more on that later.

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Flores for… JESUS! “I love you to[o]!” Out of the mouths of babes…

flores - babes

A good bit after the homily, a little girl sent this up to the front of the church with the message that this was from her little sister, leaving me thinking just how tiny her little sister must be if she herself was so little and tiny herself. Just to be clear, the “I love you to[o]” message is not for me, but for Jesus.

You have to know that for twenty some years I’ve concluded pretty much every single homily with a reference to Jesus. I go in cycles that last for years. When I was in Rome and offering Mass at I think six different houses of the Missionaries of Charity, I was at the time concluding every homily with: “…because Jesus is so very good and so very kind,” so much so that the Superior nicknamed me “Father Goodness and Kindness,” even forgetting my name in favor of the nickname.

But right now, and for some years, I’ve been concluding my homilies with: “…because Jesus loves us so very much,” to the point where some in the pews will help me conclude. When they hear “Jesus loves us,” they continue with me: “…so very much.”

Of all the things I might say in a homily, I am so very happy that this is the one thing that gets through my clumsy delivery. The drawing above was this tiny little girl’s response to Jesus: “I love you to[o]!” Plenty of hearts and flowers and smiles for Jesus. And I’m just very happy with that altogether.

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Extra ecclesiam nulla salus / There is no salvation besides the Church!

john paul ii be not afraid

On the Feast of the Transfiguration, 6 August 2000, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith promulgated with the ratification of Saint Pope John Paul II the Declaration Dominus Iesus, on the unicity and salvific universality of Jesus Christ and the Church. The raging debate has always been about the understanding of the word “extra”.

  • Does “extra” mean merely what most all would grant, that, outside of Christ in His Church, there is no other Savior, such as some martian in a space ship?
  • Does “extra” refer, for instance, to a legal application of positive divine law regarding baptism, indeed, even baptism done within the Catholic Church, so that no other Christians could ever be found in heaven no matter what?

Dominus Iesus is an important doctrinal document meant to be a teaching document settling controversies. It is brief, to the point. Most extraordinary. Well worth the read. There is a paragraph at the end which is interesting:

In treating the question of the true religion, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council taught: “We believe that this one true religion continues to exist in the Catholic and Apostolic Church, to which the Lord Jesus entrusted the task of spreading it among all people. Thus, he said to the Apostles: ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you’ (Mt 28: 19-20). Especially in those things that concern God and his Church, all persons are required to seek the truth, and when they come to know it, to embrace it and hold fast to it”

Obviously there are more refined questions about the phrase “continues to exist” blah blah blah. But I’ll tell you this, if one accepts what is written in that document, there is no way that one could say that Islam has anything whatsoever to do with any kind of religion, even while the revelation which both Jews and Catholics have received is precisely the same in all ages (Aquinas, Siri et al.).

And let’s get this right: religion is part of the virtue of justice, so that one is to render to God that which is His due, which is proper worship, which can only be done through, with and in Jesus, to the greater glory and honor of God in the unity of the Most Holy Spirit. And remember, Christ Jesus, the Son of the Immaculate Conception, will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Amen.

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Filed under Interreligious dialogue, Jesus, Jewish-Catholic dialogue, John Paul II

Dear Pope Francis: Be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect, or nothing, because, really, it’s God or nothing

wp-1455076244099.jpg

This picture was taken while in procession with all the other Missionaries of Mercy about to go through the Holy Door of the Year of Mercy, accompanying the relics of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina and Saint Leopold Mandić. Hey, maybe I could be burned at the stake tied with chains to this obelisk.

Pope Francis, we see in your homily of June 9 2016 (which I reprint below in English and Italian for the convenience of readers), that you call a lot of Catholics non-Catholics and heretics, perhaps even Cardinal Sarah (though you didn’t actually name him). John-Henry at Lifesite has a great article, as does NewCatholic over at Rorate.

Am I, your Missionary of Mercy, also a declared heretic?  Am I also not Catholic? Do I therefore lack faculties for the Sacrament of Mercy?

Here’s the deal, my little negotiation with you: To be called a heretic and a non-Catholic even by you is laughable to me, for, you see, I’ve already beat you to the accusations. I’ve been saying about myself for as long as I can remember that I’ve crucified the Son of the Living God with my sin. I am the most damned of all. So, what you say about my being a heretic and non-Catholic means nothing to me. I believe that I have no strength at all to follow any moral law, any commandment. None of it is possible for me. It is impossible for this man. I am nothing. But I’ll tell you this, for me, Christ Jesus is everything, He is my strength who provides me with His love and goodness and kindness and fortitude and enthusiasm and joy, making following the commandments, however much they are impossible for me, not only possible, but that which I do because of the fiery love of the Holy Spirit, the very love that is the greatest love of my life that I want to share with others.Without Jesus’ love and joy, I would at most say, “I will do this but the rest is impossible for me.” And you would be content with that. Shame on you! For with Jesus’ love and joy, I say, “I will do it all, for I do not do it on my own, as I am dead to myself, but I do this by Jesus’ love and joy!” I would never tell others that they are good enough in their efforts with their own strength which they don’t have anyway, leaving them on their own far from Jesus, Mary’s Son. No! I introduce them to Him, to His love and joy, to His wounds, His torture, His death, so very much did He love us. And they thank me for it. And if that makes me the most damned of all heretics and non-Catholics in your view, then, well, I am really sorry for that, but, so be it. As I’ve said so many times with intended irony, Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders. Gott helfe mir.  Condemn me if you have to. I will be happy to suffer for Jesus. That is my little negotiation with you. Deal?

Please, let me add that I love you to pieces Pope Francis. Please, rejoice with me. Again I will say, rejoice!

Below is Pope Francis’ homily in the “Vatican Radio English translation” (which I did not read) and what was provided of the original Italian (which I did read):

Continue reading

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

transfiguration

“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)

two prophets moses elijah

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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Hearing confessions… Jesus, Mercy!

confessional art

This is the artwork can see in the confessional when I am the one hearing the confessions. Sorry about the aspect ratio, but this was a quickie shot between confessions.

  • I am happy to see Mary. She has interceded for the sorry lot that we are. She knows our need. I ask her to send penitents into the box. We are frequently late for Mass. I don’t think anyone minds at all.
  • I am happy to be reminded by the crucifix what is going on with the absolution, “Father, forgive them!”
  • I am happy, I must say, to keep my eyes peeled on Jesus the entire time, no matter what. Whoever it is that is confessing their sins with repentance, contrition and purpose of amendment doesn’t matter: it is Jesus who has already taken those sins on Himself and who has already accomplished the penance of our redemption.

In this particular painting it seems that Jesus is beckoning the priest hearing confessions to take His heart. And I’m going, like, um, Jesus… what? You want me to forgive penitents with your heart? That, of course, is absolutely the case. But there is more. And my hard heart is shattered to pieces, making room for His. You want me to forgive you with your heart? He who is sinless confesses our sins as if He committed them Himself. That’s what He’s doing at His circumcision. That’s what He’s doing at His Baptism. That’s what He’s doing on the Cross. What’s a confessor to do? Absolve the penitent with Jesus’ grace, knowing that, effectively, this is Jesus kneeling on the other side of the screen. I am thrown into humble reverence before Him. He loves us so very much. Just some thoughts I had while being unable not to keep my eyes peeled on Him, who is coming judge the living and the dead and world by fire, that fiery heart of His. Amen.

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A-Waltzing Matilda: A Saving Analogy

waltzing matilda

  • swagman = hobo walking the Australian outback, the bush, with his “swag”
  • swag = blanket containing one’s belongings carried over a shoulder with a piece of twine
  • Matilda = nickname for the swag (Aussies have feminine names for everything)
  • going a-waltzing Matilda = doing the hobo, gyrovague, thing
  • billabong = deep pool of water
  • billy = bucket for boiling tea
  • jumbuck  = sheep
  • tucker = food
  • squatter = land “owner”

Here’s the absolute best version ever, ever, ever produced. Worth the listen…

These are the lyrics written in 1903 by Marie Cowan to advertise Billy Tea:

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong
Under the shade of a coolibah tree,
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled:
“Who’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me?”

  • Chorus: Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda
    You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me
    And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled:
    “You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me.”

Down came a jumbuck to drink at that billabong.
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee.
And he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tucker bag:
“You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me.” (Chorus)

Up rode the squatter, mounted on his thoroughbred.
Down came the troopers, one, two, and three.
“Whose is that jumbuck you’ve got in your tucker bag?
You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me.” (Chorus)

Up jumped the swagman and sprang into the billabong.
“You’ll never take me alive!” said he
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong:
“Who’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me?” (Chorus)

BACKGROUND: There was a union uprising leading to violence involving sheep and the death of one of the ring leaders, who, though he escaped, was about to be apprehended when instead he committed suicide rather than be taken alive. This is all terribly sad. And yet this is almost a kind of national anthem of Australia, I think because of the progression of the meaning of being taken up into the Matilda, the swag. So:

  • The swagman takes the sheep to go a-waltzing Matilda
  • The police are about to take the swagman a-waltzing Matilda with them
  • The swagman instead goes to his death, saying that inevitably the police are going to follow, so that he, the swagman, is taking them a-waltzing Matilda sooner or later with himself, right into death

The theme gains epic proportions very quickly, leaving one before the great questions of life and death and who’s really who before these great realities. The ferocity of an independent spirit – even unto death – betrays the horrific brutality of life in a penal colony only one generation distant from the closure of the last encampment when the lyrics were written at the end of the nineteenth century. Life as a sheep worker was hardly better than the labor camps. Lots of cynicism. Lots of bitterness. So, this is a statement that there must be something better to human life on earth, a freedom that no one can take away. Too sad that this glorifies the cheap way out. I suppose I might get beat up for that by my Australian friends, but I remind them that I was a pastor for years in the heart of NSW sheep country…

byers dance paul vi audience hallA SAVING ANALOGY: Let’s say that the swagman is us, the tree is the cross, the billy is the cup we are to drink, the sheep is Jesus, the squatter is Satan, the police are men who follow Satan. So, we wander about in this exile away from heaven and encounter Jesus who is about to taste death. We take Him up in the Blessed Sacrament, but we are pursued by Satan and his minions. Instead of caving into the world and denying Jesus, we follow Him who was about to taste death, and now die with Him. Death before sin! We die to ourselves to live for Jesus, who, rising from the dead, will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire, not as any ghost, but as Geist, the Most Holy Spirit.

“This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement” (1 John 5:6-8).

Amen. So: Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda…
Please, come 
a-waltzing Matilda with me!

Yes! Please, do! Dying to ourselves so as to live for Jesus! This is the ultimate freedom: friendship with Jesus.

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (Druids for Jesus edition)

collegeville abbey church madonnaThis is Mary, Throne of Wisdom (late eleven hundreds, Burgundy, France), as seen in Collegeville, Minnesota’s Saint John’s Abbey Church side chapel (epistle side if you can say such a thing in such a church). You can see this type of statue scattered throughout this part of Europe, always the same, more or less, with Jesus holding an orb, though here He is holding the Scriptures.

As a kid, I would go and kneel before this statue (I had three different addresses as a kid). At the time there was a kind of kneeler / altar rail type arrangement, which I didn’t like, because I wanted to be closer. I vaguely recall bringing a flower in and putting at her feet, crawling over the rail to do so.

You’ll notice the eyes of both Jesus and Mary are open. Keep that in mind while we take a tour of Chartres, going down into the crypt:

If one continues, and passes the well, they will come upon something that the very first Christians are said to have witnessed when they came to Chartres. They found there a statue of a woman seated upon a throne with a child on her knee, a statue that had been venerated by the Druids. It appears that they were aware of Isaiah’s prophesy that a virgin would conceive and bear a son. The statue was described by a 17th century thus:

“The Virgin sits on a chair, her Son sits on her knees and He gives the sign of blessing with His right hand. In His left hand He holds an orb. He is bare-headed and His hair is quite short. He wears a close-fitting robe girdled with a belt. His face, hands and feet are bare and they are of a shining grey-ebony color.

The Virgin is dressed in an antique mantle in the shape of a chasuble. Her face is oval, of perfect construction, and of the same shining black color. Her crown is very plain, only the top being decorated with flowers and small leaves. Her chair is one foot wide with four parts hallowed out at the back and carved. The statue is twenty-nine inches tall.”

It is interesting to note that the eyes of the Divine Child were open, while the Madonna’s eyes were closed. According to Cecil Headlam, the Druids “intended by this device to signify that faith was still in darkness, and that she whom they worshiped [venerated?] was not yet born. But the eyes of the Child, whom she in the fullness of time should supernaturally conceive and bear, were open; for He was without beginning and without end, the Spectator of all time and all existence.”

Very cool, that. So, a flower perhaps like the one I gave to Mary in the days of yore. This is from outside the rectory, along the driveway. It looks like some sort of self-lit creature on the ocean floor. I admit to tweaking the contrast and brightness:

flores rectory-

 

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The monster’s got me by the ankles and is smashing me to the ground

dilbert

I am exhausted. Today, so far, I’ve had 113 email conversations, however many comments, texts, and hours[!] of phone conversations, most of those about canon law, ecclesiology, moral theology, church politics, with a number of priests, canon lawyers, theologians. I am deeply sorrowful at the state of the Church. Deeply. I don’t know how to express that. I agonize. I don’t think it’s negativity. I love the Church. I love those in the Church, even the baddies just like me, and by that I mean those who go on ad hominem attacks, just like me, except I’m worse. I know how bad that is for me. The last thing I want is to see that attitude in them.

ogreI feel like I’m being lifted up upside down by some ogre who’s got me by the ankles, and who has commenced whipping me about in the air and then smashing me down to the ground, only to do it continuously, and somehow I remain conscious through it all. I feel sick. Nauseous. It’s like traumatic stress. The monster is, of course, myself. I’m very bad and very evil with a very black and terribly cynical heart. If I wanted to rant, just laying it all out, proving my cynicism to myself (because cynicism is all about self), I think I would actually frighten the most intense of cynics right into silence, much like when the murder rate in Manhattan went down to zero for quite a while after September 11, 2001. The run of the mill murderers were unfathomably out-murdered, and they were stunned into pacifism. Jesus had to reach really very far into hell to find me, which makes me all the more grateful to Him. And that all means that I hold all those lesser cynics to be much better off than I ever was. You have no idea.

If that seems like unstoppable pride, let me tell you ever so humbly about someone who was more cynical than even I could ever be. A layman, he had the CDF wrapped around his little finger, deposing and setting up bishops at will, forcing documents and policies right and left. The CDF, his pet project, hated him, but Ratzinger did what he said and, I would hazard, respected him and even liked him for the clarity and devotion he had. I’ve never known anyone more intelligent, which includes the greatest Thomists in the world today. He knew how to get things done for the good of the Church. I often helped him. I’ve now and again done a bit of his kind of work myself, asked to do so many times by the Curia, off the record, but whatever gets the job done, right? Sometimes cynics are simply realists said to be cynics by those fearful of reality. And that was him, a saint, really, cynical of the diabolical, but not of Jesus. We both knew, however, that if he reversed that, even for a moment, he could do great damage to the Church. He stayed with Jesus, even though he saw all the diabolical there can be among some members of the Church.

As for myself, if I lost all sanctifying grace, I could rant about pretty much everything, including “and” and “the” and even the nice stuff. I would not only highlight that which boasts of ambiguity, but I would also draw conclusions from that which would make anyone curl up in a ball and die of despair. I excel at that kind of thing, I dare say more than anyone. No comparison. And this has ripened over the last number of years. I know the hell of it; I know of a certainty that that’s who I am if I am without grace. One actual believer in the Roman Curia once said that he feared that my analyses could  [… I had better stop!…] At any rate, I’m sure that I would pervert any time being greater than space dynamic into a Marxist dialectic with all such things. I’m truly bad and evil. But I know it. So I look to Jesus, who creates both time and space. He’s all that’s left for me. He is the Church with His Mystical Body. He’s the One.

And then the monster disappears. Just like that. If I pride myself to think that I’m really good at being evil, my pride is then shattered into humility by Him who was more cynical of evil than I could ever begin to be cynical of that which is good. Jesus bears the wounds of all of hell broken out on His risen body. He smashes all cynicism into that which is laughable. Jesus has conquered. He’s the greatest love of my life and I want everyone to know about Him.

We must keep unity in the Church. No schism! Let’s discuss the ideas, yes. But let’s all of us stick to that. But if anyone wants to be ad hominem with me, say that I’m not a real priest, whatever, go ahead. I take back being offended by any of that. I deserve everything I get. I’ll just beat you to the punch: I’ve absolutely crucified the Son of the Living God with my sins and without Jesus I would absolutely go to hell like the child of hell that I am if I am without grace.

P.S. The undercurrent of this post is terrible pride. I hope you can pick that up. I am the worst of the worst. Somehow that’s pride, right? But Jesus is good and kind. :-)

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (In case you didn’t notice Him edition)

prince of peace jesus mary

As seen in Prince of Peace Catholic Church, Robbinsville, NC

I’ve been remiss in giving flowers to the Immaculate Conception. The picture above is no exception with its lack of flowers, though I don’t know if those plants ever flower. Its no excuse, but I’ve been in rather deep thought, shall we say, this past week.

I love this statue of Jesus and Mary up in our church in Graham county. It’s a bit, well, not quite sarcastic, but almost, I mean, with real expectant joy, in hopes that we will take up her invitation to get to know her Son. The expression on Mary’s face says it all as she boldly holds the infant Jesus kind of, well, you know, in our faces.

The Word of God holding the words of God. I love that. He’s the One. He’s the only One. Sometimes, in all our verbiage, we forget that. We are so clever, we think. But it’s not about our “language event.” It’s about the Word of God’s words of God. It’s a family thing.

In every age, without exception, Jesus and His Words convert those with the hardest of hearts, despite the ever present presence of the Pharisees who use the law merely to stomp on others and the ever present presence of the Promethian neo-Pelagian cynics who offer salvation through casuistry.

And Jesus doesn’t accomplish this by being in the middle between the two extremes as if that broken gyroscope of two extremes wildly smashing family life in every direction was something Jesus had to run after, desperately trying to stay in the middle of two poles that only play off each other and are the same. No. Jesus is who He is. He is the eternal Word of Truth, He is Charity. And we would despise Him because He is not like us in all things including the congratulating of our own sin. And then He reigns supreme on the Cross, standing in our stead, taking our place before our Heavenly Father, having the right in His own justice to have mercy on us.

Crux stat dum volitur orbis. The Cross stands immovable while the world spins in its own self-consuming vortex. The Cross shines in the darkness, having us bend the knee before the Son of God in His love for us, tortured to death on the Cross, casting us to our knees, all of us, in heavens, on the earth, and under the earth. Jesus is the One, the Word of the Father. He does have the power to save us and bring us to Himself, right across Calvary with all hell broken out. We look to Him. Not at the hell. We look to HIM.

And, yes, there is a tag on this post reading “Vocations.” Now is the time. Now is the day of salvation. When all is impossible, that’s the time to man up and be transformed into the priesthood of the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Son of the Immaculate Conception, the Priest of priests, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace, the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception. I will write about all this.

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Fatima @100 years: annihilation angel

angel of fatima

“The Apparition of Our Lady plunged us once more into the atmosphere of the supernatural, but this time more gently. Instead of annihilation in the Divine Presence, which exhausted us even physically, it left us filled with peace and expansive joy.” (In her own words [pdf]).

The annihilation spoken about here is wonderfully positive, recalling Saint Paul: It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. This is an annihilation because of the very Author of Life is present, He who is love. This is the weight of the glory – βάρος δόξης – spoken of by Saint Paul, following up on the Hebrew Scriptures: the weight/glory of the Lord: כבוד־יהוה. This weight of the glory of the Lord pushes us to our knees in humble reverence, in thanksgiving before the Most High. Mary is such a good mother.

In trepidation, I just might ask my guardian angel for a bit more of a smidgen of a sense of this annihilation. Trepidation, mind you. After all, who am I if not already a nobody asking to know just that before the presence of the Most High? This would be so that I might more adequately thank Him who is to come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire, thank Him for coming into this world, standing in our stead, being annihilated for us that we in turn might be brought to life in Him.

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A visit to Jesus’ rectory…

image

The priest’s house, you know, the rectory, you know, the presbytery for the pre-Edwardian crowd, or parsonages to those presently of other persuasions, is one of those institutions undergoing a paradigmatic shift, in this case a movement right off the public church campus to a non-office, non-meeting place location. That’s a great idea. The practice of the Charlotte Diocese (started with the previous bishop) is becoming ever more important for the spiritual lives of priests, namely, to allow chapels in those residences of the priests, so that it’s also the High Priest’s house.

Since we have a small parish, I try to do the Communion Calls myself, and the rectory having a chapel has the added benefit of convenience regarding the Most Blessed Sacrament. And not only for that reason, but also, of course, for prayer, and not just liturgical prayer, the occasional Holy Mass and the breviary, but in view of our Lord’s insistence that we pray always. The rectory is a place of peace, truly a sanctuary. It’s not “Father George’s rectory.” It’s the rectory of the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace. He’s here. This is an occasion of humble thanksgiving for the goodness and kindness of Jesus, which is always a source of amazement to me. There is always, always more for us to know about God being Love. Deus est Caritas.

Above is a picture of the Gospel-side of the gradines of the altar of Jesus’ little rectory. My neighbor in the days of yore, of hermitage times, is a bit of a seamstress, and, having an old humeral veil, torn in many places, she made up some regal vestments for the Divine Infant of Prague. I’ve had a devotion to Him since I myself was an infant. He has an angel, prompt and eager in service, to do His bidding. Regarding me, that also means whooping me upside the head.

The angels, you have to know, are always in the presence of the Most High and see the face of our Heavenly Father. Therefore, do not offend them! They teach us reverence and humility before the Most Holy Trinity. They rejoice to see us filled with sanctifying grace. I’m happy to be in Jesus’ rectory.

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Analogy for Divine Mercy: Waterfalls!

waterfall1

This above picture is utterly deceptive. These falls are about 1/4 mile long. The width of the falls at the bottom is about 150 feet across. I’m sure this would count as a level 6 for serious knuckleheads, if not just an outright portage (good idea). I’m guessing all kayaking is forbidden (good idea). I took this picture the other day on way to the house exorcism.

waterfall2

The picture above is utterly deceptive. You would think cars can’t drive under waterfalls. You would be wrong. That is a roadway. I took this picture the other day on my way to the house exorcism.

waterfall3

The above picture is utterly deceptive. This waterfall is next to the hermitage. You would think it’s only about 5 feet across. It’s more like thirty. I took this picture the other day on my way back from the house exorcism.

san clemente mosaicThis mosaic at San Clemente in Rome isn’t utterly deceptive. It’s an attempt at an analogy about waterfalls, using the psalm line: As the hart years for running streams, so my soul is thirsting for you my God.” I used to pass this daily for years while doing my stint in bella Roma. The waters gushing from the foot of the cross depict the exorcism of all exorcisms. Note the serpent escaping just below the cross. He hates that the Lord Jesus has just died for all of us, thus having the right in His own justice to have mercy on us, the mercy of establishing His own Kingdom to replace the kingdom of the prince of the this world, the ancient dragon, that cunning serpent, the father of lies.

To this day, the one who has best depicted the waterfall of which we must take note is Mel Gibson in his “The Passion of the Christ.” In one of the final scenes on Calvary, you’ll remember the soldier must thrust his sword into the side, into the Heart of Jesus, you know, just to make sure that He’s dead. He does so, and from that we receive the image of the font of the Sacraments and the creation of the Church from the side of Christ just as Adam’s wife was taken from the side of Adam:

side of christ

side of christ 2

side of christ 3

Also His Immaculate Virgin Mother was redeemed at the first moment of her conception so that sin never touched her soul. This vision of this waterfall is not deceptive at all. It speaks of us of the truth of our salvation, the goodness and kindness and truth of Jesus with a love stronger than death, that mocks death, that rises from the dead, taking captivity captive, taking us to our Heavenly Father to give us as a gift to Him. Thank you, Jesus.

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (Corpse flowers from hell edition)

corpse flowers 1

Monotropa uniflora, also known as the ghost plant, Indian pipe, or corpse plant, is a herbaceous perennial plant native to temperate regions of Udmurtiya in European Russia, Asia, North America and northern South America, but with large gaps between areas. It was formerly classified in the family Monotropaceae; however, it has now been included within the Ericaceae.”

That’s just in case you had to know that.

I took these pictures close to the hermitage some years ago, not that far from the parish. These guys need no chlorophyll. The rain-forest canopy where these guys sprout up in abundance year after year blocks out pretty much all sunshine just at that point on the high ridges some thousands of feet up. I’m not sure what the following is, but I’m guessing they’re a mutation of the same thing.

corpse flowers 2

The appropriateness of giving such a “flower” to our Blessed Mother is debatable I suppose, but I think it has merit on Holy Saturday when our Lord’s corpse lay in the tomb. While His soul had departed, His divinity was always with both His soul and His body, as the Common Doctor says.

Islam rejects that Jesus died. The “prophet” couldn’t love us that much! Only God could do that, and we reject that Jesus could be God, because God is toooooo hoooolyyyyy to do such a thing as to come into this world to stand in our stead so as to pay the price in His own justice to have mercy on us! No! He can’t! That’s tooooo loving, tooooo good, tooooo kind. No! (And then they proceed to cut off kids’ heads, burn kids alive, crucify people, on and on with all their hatred.

That gives us just a hint about what Satan was up to in having Jesus tortured to the point of death, but not wanting Jesus to die. Because then, what would happen? We would say and do say that the lifeless body of the Word of God speaks resoundingly of love that is stronger than death. He’s dead! He made it! Yes! He redeemed us! He’s taken our place! He has the right in justice to have mercy on us! His corpse keeps on speaking, “Father, forgive them!” And we: “For the sake of His sorrowful passion (justice), have mercy on us and on the whole world (mercy).”

The last thing that Satan wanted is that Jesus actually die. Satan wanted Jesus to give up, to come down from the cross. But He stayed. He is now the victor over death with His love that is stronger than death. Good Friday isn’t about gore and torture and death. It’s about the enthusiasm of Jesus’ love that disdains such pain and dying so that He might see us finally assent to the magnitude of His love for us.

A corpse flower? Sure! His death was already a victory even before the resurrection. Mary knew that He was making all things new. But holding an ever so fragile corpse flower in her hands, what might her thoughts be? Would her grief be terrible? Yes. Would she feel sorry for herself? Not on your life. Would she remember the first three days of darkness when Jesus was only found three days later teaching in the temple as a young Bar Mitzvah? Yes, and she would therefore be wondering what work it is that Jesus would be doing before He would rise from the dead. I’m sure that that work was evident to her. She would have been cheering Him on, repeating quietly: “Go get ’em, Jesus! Go get ’em.”

Here’s the deal: after Jesus died on the Cross, he descended into hell, just as we profess in the Creed every Sunday and major solemnity, every time we recite the creed for plenary indulgences, every time we say the rosary. What was He doing there? He was preaching to the damned spirits, the fallen angels and their minions. He was telling them the truth of the matter, and they had to listen to His words, which do now and will forever smash them into terrible frustration. Their infused knowledge is turned in on itself. Jesus’ words would produce an eternity of intense frustration. There’s simply no other word for it.

And Mary, surely, repeating quietly: “Go get ’em, Jesus! Go get ’em,” ever so proudly holding a corpse flower in her hands.

And, yes, Jesus, her Son, will rise from the dead, and will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Amen.

And she is filled with wonder, and her enthusiasm builds as she waits for her soon to be risen Son to visit her. She has faith that He will rise from the dead as He said. She doesn’t go to the tomb with spices to pack the body round about for proper burial. It doesn’t have to be done. The Magdalene will not find Mary the Mother of Jesus at the tomb. Jesus will instead find His mother alone, still twirling the corpse flower in her hands, He then taking it ever so very gently from her, and then tossing it aside…

What a meeting!

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Spying the Spy on this Spy Wednesday

nard jesus woman

Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head, as he sat at table. But when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for a large sum, and given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this ointment on my body she has done it to prepare me for burial. Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him. (Matthew 26:6-16 rsv)

Jesus is not a liar. He said that she did this for his burial. In other words, she knew, in looking around the room, noticing Judas, that Jesus was a dead man. One of them, Judas, was going to have him killed. She had the purity of heart and agility of soul to see that this was so. She is the Spy of spies for the King of kings, who knows the whole truth of it, and praises her for her perspicacity. She knows Jesus to be the Prince of the Most Profound Peace and that Judas is instead harassed and is on the fast track to being fully possessed by the Father of Lies, Satan. This great lady is one of the ones I want to write about in the a little volume on the great women of the Gospels. One day… one day…

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HEY! Donkey day has arrived! WooHoo! Every donkey has his hour!

image

And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, `Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. Nevertheless I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’ O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, `Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (Luk 13:32-35 rsv)

The Donkey — by G.K. Chesterton

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

========= If I could only be a worthy donkey! ========

palestinian donkeyA donkey brought Mary to Bethlehem. A donkey’s breathing kept Jesus warm in the manger. A donkey accompanied the Holy Family to Egypt and all the way back to Nazareth. A donkey was used by the good Samaritan. Donkeys can sing. Most intelligent, they only do what they understand. They are not stubborn as mules. They are hard workers and terribly loyal. They are the symbol of Judaism from time immemorial right back through the millennia, along with the Lion of the tribe of Judah. They have suffered humiliation by elitist Democrats but are nonetheless resilient. It is the donkey who protects the sheep, doing away with “that fox.”

Below, the graffito from the first centuries of the crucified donkey (Jesus the Jew) worshiped by a Jewish boy and follower of Jesus (Alexamenos) in the Emperor’s School on the Palatine overlooking the Circus Maximus, with the Forum on the other side and the Colosseum on the other, mocked by his friends. I’m thinking that Alexamenos some became a martyr in those blood filled days, much like today.

alexamenos

This reminds me of Jackass for the Hour, the unpublished and needing revision 750 page ecclesiastical thriller novel I wrote for the sake of distraction while doing my doctorate on Genesis 2:4a–3:24, a novel about The Murderous Intrigue of Interreligious Politics (with a major theme being the papyri and mss, the Reformation and Counter-Reformation).

jackass for the hour

At the time, Renzo di Lorenzo was my pen-name. I’ve given up on pen-names. They don’t help me. I thought I might need one last year, but that all changed. Maybe the time will come again. I don’t know. What I do know is that donkey day is a great day. I wish I could always be a worthy donkey. And… and… I’m very happy to know that my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother were all Jewish, meaning that I’m Jewish! Yeah!

 

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Cardinal sins and me: “You’re so vain!”

cardinal sin

Anything “cardinal” is about the hinge effect (cardo=hinge), something on which other things turn. A cardinal sin spins off so many other sins.

  • The cardinal sins are superbia (hubris/pride), avaritia (avarice/greed), luxuria (extravagance, lust), invidia (envy), gula (gluttony), ira (wrath), and acedia (sloth). The fellow above is surely guilty of all these, but, with myself guilty in every way, who am I to judge?
  • These call to mind seven holy virtues, chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility. But I’m sure this fellow has none of these virtues. I mean, how could he?
  • The actual cardinal virtues are four in number: prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. Don’t look to him for any example with any of these, except in the via negativa.

Perhaps you suspect that I am upset with this fellow. The sin of the cardinal or red-bird (toxaway in the local language of WNC) pictured above is not what you might think it is, however. It’s not that he’s vain, looking in the mirror 24/7/365, nor that he’s pooping all over my vehicle, nor even that he’s overly aggressive in attacking his rival in the mirror, nor that he’s surely cracking his beak and giving himself a headache and causing himself spinal injuries so that he will disable himself and won’t be helpful in feeding the young ones in the nest. The sin is that he’s showing me what a bad auto mechanic I am by ripping off my perfectly good gorilla tape (this is almost impossible for a human, much less for a little bird) which holds the windshield frame on, which holds the windshield on, more or less, and thus holds the cab on to the truck and holds the truck together. Here he is, arranging a little piece in his beak before taking off to show his prize for nest strength to his nesting spouse:

cardinal sin-

And then, just to rub it in, after he does that, he sings about it! The gall! The nerve! I mean, look at that top-near-corner of the windshield. It was fine all this time until he, my enemy, my nemesis, the destroyer of my one good vehicle, has appeared. What to do? I think I firstly need to give him a name. We are so afraid to name our enemies these days, you know, like ISIS and such as that. We are our own worst enemies. But in escaping that latter discussion of ourselves being our own worst enemies, I’ll just project all my troubles onto him and accuse him of everything horrible and evil. I suppose I could just call him the Red Terrorist, but that’s more of a title. I need a name, you know, to make it personal. Any suggestions? Any mythic demon from the underworld? And galactic satan from the meta-beyonds?

P.S. Pope Francis vehicles allow you to have some fun like this. ;-) Sometimes I think I have too much fun. This is a benefit of being utterly convinced at each moment that we can be ever so easily catastrophic disastrous victims of cardinal sins if we are without friendship with the Most High God of the heavens and the earth and all that is in them; He has us in the palm of His hand; He has us look to Him in rejoicing.

Oh, and, by the way, the local mechanic shop said they’ll try to attempt to bring Betsy the Nissan Pickup back to life first thing Monday morning. Resurrection in Holy Week!

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