Category Archives: Mary

Today’s Politics of the Sistine Madonna UPDATE: What’s Raphael doing?

SISTINE MADONNA full

M.T. sent in a postcard sporting the Sistine Madonna by Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (Raphael). The postcard itself arrived a bit damaged, as postcards do, so the above is a Wikipedia file.

I’m thankful for a reminder of the Sistine Madonna (with its wild history of locations both for the real painting and my mom’s copy) as it throws me fully into nostalgic mode. But that would be known from what I’ve written over the years. This was my mom’s favorite painting which always graced the “living room” of whatever house we lived in. Her copy looked like the real thing (to a kid like me) and was very elegantly framed. My mom made the frame and “antiqued” it. All very stately.

I would stand before this painting in wonder as a kid. It was my secret way to peek into heaven. There was heaven, right there, for all to see. How is it that the angels in the background allowed me to live. Even the angels are bored down front as they tolerate my presence. Did others see the treasures to be found here, in heaven? For me, these were mesmerizing sacred moments, so many, but always the same right through the years and in different houses: I would be racing about as a kid but then, in passing this painting, I would stop, instantly transported to the gates of heaven. Out of breath in my running. But absolutely still. “Look!” thought I, “There are all the angels!” straining as I was to see not so much the two angels out front, but the zillions in the background.

“Wow…” constituted the extent of my art appreciation at the time, though I imagine that that word was inscaped with more of a Hopkins’ umph than most grownup critics could ever muster with all their ulterior motives.

I remember being miffed that I didn’t know who Pope Sixtus was, or, as such a little kid, what his tiara was, and that I didn’t know who Saint Barbara was. But no matter. I happily gazed into the faces of Mary and her Son Jesus. M.T. shared his thoughts about these faces with me. I suppose I should return the favor with some of my own musings at this stage in my life.

SISTINE MADONNA detail

M.T. says he sees something “stern” in the face of Jesus. The way I myself would describe that is something of dread determination in the face of what is to come for Jesus during His life upon this earth, yet joy for what the result will finally be when He comes to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Jesus and His good mom are totally in solidarity with each other and mean to accomplish that which they set out to do for our redemption and salvation. But as with all such paintings, you have to follow the eyes, and in context. What’s said with just this detail is not wrong, but it’s all out of context. So, let’s move back to the full painting.

You’ll notice that young Saint Barbara, Virgin and Martyr, is looking down at the two angels who entered heaven, as did she, by the right choice to follow the Son of Mary. We have to remember that about angels. They, like us, had to say “Yes!” They expect us to use our free will correctly as well.

You’ll notice that Sixtus is bidding Jesus and Mary to look out from heaven to those here upon the earth. It’s as if Sixtus is saying “Look at what they are saying about me!” with “they” referring to those at whom he is indiscriminately pointing. And Jesus is looking over him – indeed over the viewer of the painting – and Mary is scanning the crowd also in back of the viewer of the painting (her eyes just a bit askance). As Sixtus makes his complaint, Jesus has already gone through His passion and death, and has risen from the dead and has ascended into heaven. But here Sixtus is addressing Jesus as a child. That surely refers to what Sixtus is complaining about.

There was a vicious gossip columnist in Rome at the time – given no credence by anyone – who wrote about Sixtus in such manner – repeating without discernment all that he heard – that you would think that gossip guy is writing in late 2018, all stuff about interfering with kids and young men.

Again, back to Jesus and Mary: there’s a certain foreboding, a certain sorrow, but also and more importantly a certain joy for those who will make it to heaven. Note as well that Sixtus himself is canonized in the painting. He’s up in the clouds of heaven. Is protected by the bored angels who would happy to do some janitorial work over against enemies if called upon, and can speak with Jesus and Mary at will, and they are right with him. But the gossip? Horrible. But the truth? That’s what Raphael is painting.

Lots to think about there. To M.T.: Again, thanks for the postcard.

UPDATE: What’s Raphael doing?

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Homily 2018 09 12 Holy Name of Mary

elijah mount carmel foot sea

Silly me. When I was living for a little while above the cave of Elijah on Mount Carmel, I went outside and asked my guardian angel to show me a cloud in the shape of a foot (crushing the serpent, as in Genesis) arising out of the sea from which a rain storm would come (as with Elijah). My guardian angel has fun with me.

Did you know that Mary has two names? Well, three, at least.

  • “The Woman” as in Genesis 3:15, Gospel of John, etc
  • Mary – Miryam – Bitter Sea
  • The one who perfectly continues to stand perfectly transformed in grace from the time when – in context of Luke 1 – she was called to the be Virgin Mother of God, from all eternity, and that coming home at the first moment of her conception.

I realize I haven’t put up any homilies for a while, but I figure that if Pope Francis can give homilies over in Santa Marta the way he does, then I can give homilies over here in the beyonds of the peripheries.

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The day Immaculate Mary died. Ecumenism between East and West.

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One of our Russian readers sent this in. You can see the Apostles gathered about the tomb of Jesus’ good mom. But because the grave could not hold her, she the was herself resurrected from the dead and assumed soul and body into heaven.

It’s always been a tradition in the East that the ever Virgin Mary died. There have been some in the West who, instead, stupidly said that – splutter splutter – Mary could not have died because she was not subject to original sin and therefore could not have died and anyone who says differently is a heretic and should be dismembered and burned at the stake. Um… well… I say differently.

Jesus died. He’s God. He’s never been affected by original sin. He never sinned. The grave could not hold the author of life just because He stood in our place, the innocent for the guilty, taking on the punishment we deserve for sin, death, so that He could have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us. Right? Let’s take a look at how He died.

In Luke’s Gospel we read that Jesus sweat great drops of blood in Gethsemane, at that moment standing in our place, obeying the will of our Heavenly Father. In John’s Gospel we read that blood and water flowed out of Jesus’ side, His heart, when the soldier pierced Him with his Roman sword. This shows up on the Shroud of Turin by the way. Anyway, the doctors of Calvary, as they are called, say that in a most traumatic incident, a subject can sweat great drops of blood, but in conjunction with a massive heart attack, itself to traumatic that the pericardium, the outside portion of the heart, actually breaks, from one dies immediately or can survive for just some time. In Jesus’ case, this pericardium filled with blood which itself separated into red blood cells and plasma, the blood and water. Pilot was surprised at Jesus’ early death, as crucifixion usually took three days. Jesus’ trauma was exacerbated by the torture and crucifixion. We can say that He died more of a broken heart for us, literally, than the crucifixion.

Now, take Mary’s case. If she were subject to original sin, she would, like us, be so blinded to the reality of God laying down His life for us that we would just feel sorrowful for this, but be almost totally oblivious to what this means. She, instead, Immaculate, had purity of heart, agility of soul, clarity of vision. She knew that what she was seeing was God’s great love for us in the midst of our ingratitude. It’s not because she was sinful or subject to original sin that she was knew death. It’s because she was crushed, as a good mother, by the traumatic incident she went through in solidarity with her Son. I believe that she also sweat great drops of blood, that she also suffered such a massive heart attack. She survived, but, as Tradition has it, appropriately, only until immediately after the full birth of the Church at Pentecost. She had done all she could as Jesus’ mother and ours. Now it was time for one who gave Jesus His body to be brought herself soul and body to heaven, just like Him.

  • Jesus: If you love me you will rejoice that I am going to the Father.
  • Mary’s kids: If we love her we rejoice that she has gone to heaven.

A couple of points…

  • We can learn from each other, you know, East and West. Instead of hyperventilating so as, we think, to protect some doctrine, perhaps instead we should go to Jesus. Perhaps we can learn from Him. In this case we learn that Mary could certainly die and this fact not being offensive to our holding that Mary was never touched by original sin.
  • And, just to say, this post is misnamed. I believe this is not about ecumenism. The excommunications have been absolved by both sides. Take out the “ex-” and you are left with “communion.” Right?

Our problem today and every day is that we forget about Jesus and His good mom. We are more concerned about hyperventilating because that’s what we do. We’re just so afraid of Jesus being a good Son of Mary Immaculate. We’re just so afraid of Mary being such a good mother to Jesus and to all of us.

Saint John Paul II’s favorite citation of Mary’s Son Jesus was: “Be not afraid!”

BE NOT AFRAID!

 

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Lovely Lady Dressed in Blue…

The above video is the most amazing, amazing, amazing, amazing, amazing recitation by the Venerable Archbishop Fulton J Sheen.

Lovely lady, dressed in blue,
Teach me how to pray
Cause God was just your little boy,
And you know the way
Did you lift him up sometimes,
Gently on your knee
Did you tell him stories of the world,
Like Mother did to me
And when he fell, did you lift him up,
And make everything alright
And did you tell him his prayers at night

I want to know my lovely lady, lovely lady,
Dressed, dressed in blue
Oh, God was just your little boy,
Your little boy and you know the truth
And did you whisper in his ear sweet lullabyes,
I want to know, I want to know,
I want to know, did he cry

Lovely lady, dressed in blue,
Oh won’t you please teach me how to pray
Cause God was just your little boy, and
I want to know, I want to know,
I want to know, so teach me how to pray

Teach me how to pray

Monstra te esse matrem!

GENESIS THESIS GEORGE DAVID BYERS

IVE GENESIS IMMACULATE CONCEPTION CONFERENCE 7 FEBRUARY 2013

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New miracle at Lourdes

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Flowers in February edition)

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Yesterday, during Communion Calls after the last Sunday Mass, after the very first call nearby, these beauties were to be seen in their thousands. Perfect for the Immaculate Conception. They are in direct line of sight of the statue of Mary on the front steps of the rectory. Today was unseasonably warm after a couple of months of unseasonably cold temps. This is perfect for yesterday, as it was February 11, Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

You’ll remember that the parish priest, a bit skeptical of what little Bernadette was telling him, told her to bring some flowers from the grotto, in February, when no flowers bloom there. She came back with a heap of flowers. Hah.

I took this picture at that very grotto after weeks of below freezing temps in Lourdes, really cold, snow but mostly ice everywhere. These tender flowers decided to punch through the ice and snow in honor of Mary. :-)

flores-lourdes-grotto-ice-roses

Mary is the Immaculate Conception:

IVE GENESIS IMMACULATE CONCEPTION CONFERENCE 7 FEBRUARY 2013

GENESIS THESIS GEORGE DAVID BYERS

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Did I see that before? [Homily] edition)

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This outrageously delicate and yet strong flower, surviving snow and ice and many days of freezing temps, was outside the door of my oldest “shut-in” way up in Northwest Graham County. Just as there is a huge difference between merely North Carolina and Western North Carolina, just so is there a difference between merely Graham County and Western Graham County. Yikes!

Not having the photo-app set on “save”, only the image could be saved to screen, as it were, so that I had to take a picture of the picture, hence the “screen waves.” It’s like the original picture, but not quite, enhanced or less so depending on whatever you think.

Meanwhile, the next homily I would give, yesterday, would see me having problems with the recorder once again. So, just one point needs to be brought up.

Sometimes we see things in Scripture we think we’ve seen before. There are the synoptic Gospels; there are the Chronicles, and on it goes. The later citation is either an enhancement or less so depending on whatever you think. Although – hah! – it doesn’t work that was with Sacred Scripture. Everything is most extraordinary. This needs to be stated in these dark times of cynics among biblical “scholars”. A striking example is the “Magnificat” of Mary when she greets Elizabeth recalling Hanna’s declaration in the books of Samuel. Let’s take a look, firstly at Luke 1:46-55:

And Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him. He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy, according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” (Luk 1:46-55 NAB)

Now let’s take a look at what Mary is recalling with Hanna and little Samuel of “Here I am Lord! Send me!” fame. This is from 1 Samuel 2:1-10:

And as she worshiped the LORD, she said: “My heart exults in the LORD, my horn is exalted in my God. I have swallowed up my enemies; I rejoice in my victory. There is no Holy One like the LORD; there is no Rock like our God. “Speak boastfully no longer, nor let arrogance issue from your mouths. For an all-knowing God is the LORD, a God who judges deeds. The bows of the mighty are broken, while the tottering gird on strength. The well-fed hire themselves out for bread, while the hungry batten on spoil. The barren wife bears seven sons, while the mother of many languishes. “The LORD puts to death and gives life; he casts down to the nether world; he raises up again. The LORD makes poor and makes rich, he humbles, he also exalts. He raises the needy from the dust; from the ash heap he lifts up the poor, To seat them with nobles and make a glorious throne their heritage. He gives to the vower his vow, and blesses the sleep of the just. “For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’S, and he has set the world upon them. He will guard the footsteps of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall perish in the darkness. For not by strength does man prevail; the LORD’S foes shall be shattered. The Most High in heaven thunders; The LORD judges the ends of the earth, Now may he give strength to his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed!”

What Mary is doing is “up-dating” Hannah’s comments, not that the comments of Hannah about the infant prophet Samuel of “Here I am, Lord! Send me!” fame are irrelevant because they are in the past, but because they are super intensely relevant because they are being utterly fulfilled with Jesus and the little tiny Jesus in the womb of Mary.

Samuel single-handedly up-ended the entire and by now very corrupt system of temple sacrifice and brought about all the circumstances for the future Son of David, that is, Jesus, with Samuel witnessing the smashing down of Eli, Hophni, Phinehas and then Saul, finally setting up David as priest, prophet and king in his own right.

But, instead, what did I always hear in my biblical studies in Rome in my seminary days and then at the Pontifical Biblical Institute? That probably Mary was an ignorant and illiterate and simple girl who knew nothing about anything and couldn’t possibly have cited Hannah in relation to her own circumstances as this was surely done by a “school” of Jewish and now Catholic scribes in the first century. It’s too brilliant for stupid Mary, they say. “They say.” Sorry for the language, but I think it is appropriate: Who the hell are they?

In a more polite form that is the question I never forgot since the first time I heard it listening to everything that the Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen ever preached at least as recorded and reproduced by the at the time “Keep the Faith” ministry. Yes, that’s right. Who are “THEY”? And who do “THEY” think they are.

This dissing of Mary tells me that “THEY” have never understood what intellectual anything is about. They’ve never had the experience, for instance, of noting the good simplicity, as simple as the light, of an Aquinas, or a Catherine of Sienna. It is a wisdom of walking with God, who is truth, now Incarnate. It is the love which judges all things, understands all things, quite instantly. Love is like that. Truth is like that.

Purity of heart. Agility of soul. That’s Mary. That’s the Immaculate Conception.

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Homily 2017 12 21 – The Visitation (Father George the Heretic edition)

visitation from peregabrielcom

I’ve been called a heretic because:

  1. Aquinas didn’t have a complete understanding of the Immaculate Conception.[!]
  2. I put in a correction to Pope Benedict of his understanding of the Immaculate Conception and otherwise on original sin, and we then agreed together with the long standing Tradition and teaching of the Church. [!]

GENESIS THESIS GEORGE DAVID BYERS

IVE GENESIS IMMACULATE CONCEPTION CONFERENCE 7 FEBRUARY 2013

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Processions and Road Danger

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The route of the Guadalupe procession has passed by the rectory since before it was the rectory. In this picture you can see the police bluelighting the procession (second car).

Although we had arranged for the bluelighting long before the procession, and we do this every year, and the police are super-willing to do this for us, somewhere, somehow, the request got lost in the bureaucracy and I had to call 911 in the midst of an altercation that threatened to turn into a major crime scene. Our True Blue arrived pretty quickly after that, all apologetic that they hadn’t known earlier.

And then there was a second incident. A particular vehicle with an elderly couple drove by, looking pretty perturbed by the procession, but drove on. But then the same vehicle, this time with the middle-aged son, came back. He looked terribly frustrated at seeing the blue lighting. Ha ha. Those blue lights have a great calming effect! Anyway, we all arrived safe and sound.

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We then blessed the shrine and had the second Mass of the day. The first was at 6:00 AM after las Mañanitas at 5:00 AM. We didn’t place the new statue in the shrine yet as there is still a bit of work to do on it.

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But there were even more flowers in Church for Mary:

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Updated: Latest from Medjugorje

/// Update: A reader objected to this post in such manner that I thought it best to give it an emphasis by updating this post: scroll down for the fireworks. ///

This seems to be the time of throwing away doctrine and morality in favor of some sort of “unity.” So, let’s use this idea of all-important “unity” as the tool of discernment as to whether Medjugorje brings us together, regardless of Jesus being the living Truth, Love Incarnate.

I’ve been on pilgrimages to Marian shrines, some days in Guadalupe and some weeks multiple times in Fatima. I was a permanent chaplain in Lourdes for two full years. At those places, I saw zero adversity, zero competition, zero rivalry among those apparition sites. How could there be? This is about Jesus’ good mom who speaks to us of Jesus.

But then, in a whole different universe, Medjugorje comes along, bringing a spirit of division, I’m sure you’ve heard it, a spirit of (hyperventilating)  we’re better than any other apparition because that was then and this is now and only we can say something valid to anyone and everyone and no one can judge us not even the Church because we are more relevant because it’s all ongoing and the Church was then but this is now and we’re just the thing to save the world (hyperventilating).

Sure, I’ve heard those at Guadalupe and Fatima and Lourdes make this or that even fierce judgment about Medjugorje when provoked to make a judgment, but the criticisms  (apart from convincing analyses of Medjugorje’s lack of orthodoxy with seemingly endless examples)… the criticisms are often about that very spirit of division, with people being invited to Medjugorje meetings and then, when it is found out that they like Guadalupe or Fatima or Lourdes, are attacked verbally, some having feared even physical violence against them. That kind of spirit is totally not to be seen at Guadalupe, Fatima and Lourdes. Medjugoje-esque division speaks of the diabolical, with that very word meaning to throw apart, to cause division, mocking God and man.

I took a look at the latest news-agent style message of Medjugorje. All I saw was that which is impersonal, sterile, self-congratulatory. The “visionaries” are themselves the saviors of the world, themselves the gnostic insider bearers of new revelation that makes people hate the local hierarchy precisely as the local hierarchy. Mary is redundant as she repeats herself tens of thousands of times, sounding frustrated and depressed, giving only tacit mention of Jesus, and only to put Him down in favor of her new “visionaries.”

On a personal and therefore not important level, it’s all so icily foreign to loving humble reverence before Jesus, the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, that, to me, it is truly frightening. I sense the immediacy of the presence of the Evil One, an immediacy that I’ve only sensed some other significant times in my life, during exorcisms or in front of people who were clearly not with Jesus.

I realize that other people might say that they think it’s nice, that in going there they had a nice bus trip in the hills, had a nice meal at the restaurant, had a nice stroll around town. Nice! But, I just don’t buy into that at all. Not one bit. I don’t know if I’ll approve comments for this post or not.

UPDATE: A reader objected to the above post by citing one part of it and then promoting Medjugorje:

“Mary is redundant as she repeats herself tens of thousands of times, sounding frustrated and depressed, giving only tacit mention of Jesus, and only to put Him down in favor of her new “visionaries.””

Dear Father Byers

I do not recognise this description of the messages of Our Lady of Medjugorje. [I’m all ears.] Her messages are pure, simple, motherly, inspire confidence and hope and always lead to Jesus. [See my fisking of the ultra-latest “message” below…] She has brought thousands of people to know and love Him in all the Sacraments especially in the Blessed Sacrament. [And that’s why “it” says years ago that all priests do not have the gift of healing, and so the visionaries, special little things, are themselves to go and take the Holy Oil [!] and run off to anoint people saying, if I remember correctly, seven Paters, Aves and Glorias, you know, so that it’s like a parallel sacrament, fooling people that they’ve been anointed for real, which became a fad right around the world. Terrible.] Living her messages bring peace and she comes there as the Queen of Peace. When we do not live her messages …..no peace. [That’s like saying that those who die in wars were all guilty as hell. That’s just so wrong. It is exactly this emotional manipulation which is the fakery.] Her messages have a special beauty and significance because they come from the present and not the past. [Because that‘s what gives licence to those who think like you to disobey all doctrine and morality and discipline of the Church, because, you know, we modernists, we progressivists, we who are up-to-date, are entitled, special, we have beauty, we have significance, because we live toodaaayyy!!! That meany old cruel stuffy dusty Church thingy that would have us obey legitimate superiors is just old and mean and stuff like that!] She addresses us as little children and little children always have to have things repeated to them. [Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Actually, this is really annoying. I notice that this has never been the case for any other apparition. So, Mary was just a really bad teacher then right, you know, in the bad and evil past, whereas she’s updated her pedagogy since then and just unendingly says: Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice. It reminds me of “The Shining” with Jack Nicholson.] There are aggressive supporters of Our Lady of Fatima [not the visionaries canonized May 13 2017…] and wicked things happen at Lourdes [Saint Bernadette is not one of them…]. Our Lady of Medjugorge constantly adds souls to the Catholic Church proving that she unites. [I once heard a poor soul say on Vatican Radio of all things: “If Mary is appearing in Medjugorje… well then, that’s the one and only reason I converted to be Catholic, because that’s, like, wow.]

But, hey! Let’s fisk the ultra-latest “message”:

“Dear children, I am calling you to pray, not to ask for but to offer sacrifice – sacrificing yourselves [which is a backhanded way of asking for sacrifice, which is just nonsensical]. I am calling you to reveal the truth and merciful love [“reveal” is a loaded term in this context. It begs the question as what truth it is that has not yet been revealed or which they have been holding back: it’s gotta be something big, and big because it’s today and today is big]. I am praying to my Son for you, for your faith which is all the more diminishing in your hearts. [So, after all these decades they are only always getting worse. Sounds like a fail. Sounds like “it” is depressed.] I am imploring Him to help you with the Divine Spirit [the Holy Spirit doesn’t merely “help” us, but kills us off to ourselves so as to live for Christ alone; if we are just “helped” then we are still in charge, still pretending to be our own saviors who just need a little “help”], as I also desire to help you with my Motherly Spirit. [Did “it” just put “itself” in parallel with the Third Person of the Most Holy Trinity? And here we go with the Pelagian heresy of “just help me while I get about the business of saving myself and the world too!] My children, you must be better. [Grit your teeth! You can do it! Save yourselves and the world!] Only those who are pure, humble and filled with love sustain the world – they are saving themselves and the world. [But if they are just the ones to save the world, how is it that “it” says:] My children, my Son is the heart of the world[?]. He should be loved and prayed to, and not always betrayed anew. [Well, there’s a tantrum: betrayal all the time is too much, so just a little betrayal here and there is O.K.] Therefore, you, apostles of my love, spread the faith in the hearts of people by your example, your prayer and merciful love. [Be nice. And be apostles. Note the contrast with technical word for those officially sanctioned by our Lord or by the Church: “Apostles”. This is put in contrast with the arch-enemy successors of the Apostles, the successive local Ordinaries, the local bishops:] I am beside you, I will help you. [over against those meany old bishops] Pray for your shepherds to have all the more light, so as to be able to illuminate all those who live in darkness. [That sounds nice, but there is a context to this, that the meany old bishops reject that “it” is Mary, Mother of God, and because of this, the meany old bishops are perpetually in darkness and cannot possibly evangelize and that’s why they need such prayer.] Thank you. [=Thank you for helping to smack down any sense of ecclesial unity.]

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Extreme Grunge Caving in Lourdes with the Immaculate Conception. Yikes!

A grunge caving video I made when a permanent chaplain in the caves of Lourdes. Yikes! Don’t do this when you go to Lourdes, lest you die. Seriously. You’ll be arrested. It’s just that I was an official permanent chaplain. Know that the spikes are sharp! However, my extreme sport talents came back to me, and I made it in and out alive, many times actually. The caves were a bit of a refuge for me. The music was a one-off performance for the 150th anniversary. The Russian chant was a group delegated by Moscow for the occasion.

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“33 Days” of laughing with joy unto Marian consecration once again

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While some might think that all is intriguingly dark and mysterious in my life at the moment (see: State Department and… me…), it’s just not true. I’m still me as much as I ever was, though perhaps ever so slightly less naive. When I was up for a visit to Main State in Foggy Bottom, also going to many of the memorials near and on the National Mall, I also spent quite a lot of time at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. There’s a book store. I bought a few books, two of which, because of the good example of Father Gordon MacRae (about) and the great Pornchai Maximilian Moontri, were the retreats by Father Michael Gaitley. I started the 33 Days to Morning Glory: A Do It Yourself Retreat on November 29 so as to finish on the Feast of the Theotokos, the ever Virgin and Immaculate Mother of God.

When I was a seminarian, I pretty much had Saint Louis’ True Devotion to Mary memorized, and certainly recited by heart the longest form of the consecration whenever I had the chance, loving to do menial work around the seminary as this would give me an opportunity. Then Paul VI died and was quickly followed by JPI, then JPII. I marveled to see “Totus Tuus” on the Coat of Arms of the new “Marian” Pope.

As the years went by, I confess that even as I studied Mariology all the more, I was perhaps a bit complacent, rarely doing the long form of the consecration yearly as the decades sped by, but instead doing shorter forms. As I now go through 33 Days, I very much appreciate the presentation of Father Gaitley, so much so that I laugh with joy as I read along day by day, seeing that he has not only understood it all so very well, but can drag us all through the preparation with ease. I must say that I’m enjoying it all tremendously.

By the way, thanks to so many for your prayers and notes that you’ve sent it. Your prayers are bearing fruit. Thank you.

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