Category Archives: Missionaries of Mercy

Pope Francis’ raison d’être for his Pontificate and for Amazon Synod

All in six minutes. He may go off text for a sentence. This isn’t up yet in translation on the Vatican website. That might take a day or two. It seems to me that there are some ambiguities here, some conflations, some extrapolations, some lack of context so as to use the cited text for a pretext. I’ll have to stare at it for a while. It just seems there are some reversals of purpose. I met with this all the time in my years at the Pontifical Biblical Institute (Jesuits).

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Domenico Giani, gone, just like that

Saint Michael Vatican City Jail Police Intel HQ

The picture above was taken April 28, 2016, a couple of months after the murder[?] of Mariam Woldu, the “Front of House” of Santa Marta – the Pope’s residence in Vatican City. This painting of Saint Michael is at the HQ for Intel and the Vatican Police (and the jail) in Vatican City.

I was there to meet up with Domenico Giani, at the top of the intel game right across the world. But recently someone else did something imprudent, and he has to resign because of what someone else did. All that experience and knowledge – also of ongoing cases like Mariam Woldu, by the way – all gone, just like that. Just. Wow. The instinct and hundred zillion incidents combining to make viable the hypotheses of connections and actionable intel in the who’s who game is something that you can’t gain overnight.

Domenico Giani

Was the imprudent action of an underling purposed for this end? That should be investigated. Was that subordinate ordered to do what he did by someone else? And who would that be? Was Giani getting way too close to undoing bad-actors using and abusing Vatican wherewithal for their own gain? Was Giani too good at his job? Was he too loyal, did he have too much integrity and too much honesty? I am saddened.

Meanwhile, yet another guy to whom Giani had introduced me the day I took that picture of that particular painting of Saint Michael seems to be on his way up the ladder. Giani was smart, always a Plan B to fall back on for what would need continuance. But that Plan B is now turning into Plan A, which will itself need a new Plan B. Meanwhile, I already have a place to stay in Rome for “future developments” mentioned elsewhere. Just have to get my ticket. But I have to get someone to cover the parish before putting any money down.

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Most Holy Trinity & Revelation

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That’s a trike at a friend’s house much like a trike I had in the early 1960s as a tiny little kid. I had trained up for such an entirely too-tall trike on a much smaller trike, you know, when I was a much tinier much littler kid. I appreciated the stability of a third wheel.

You have heard that it was said that the Most Holy Trinity was reduced to the Father and the Holy Spirit when the Word became Flesh and dwelt amonst us, so that the Word Incarnate was not divine, but merely a human being whilst He walked this earth, until He was crucified. How very absurd. How very blasphemous. When you kick out a wheel from a trinity a crash ensues. All is then nihilistic.

It’s the same with Revelation, which is constituted by Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, always together, and then stabilized on our behalf by that which is not Revelation, but which carries the guarantee of infallibility from Christ Himself, that is, the infallible Magisterium. Kick out one wheel of the trinity and they all fall. People immediately say that their theology (which is NOT faith, by the way) rules over Scripture, so that while they say “Scripture alone”, what they mean is that they can rewrite Scripture to their own relativistic whims and desires. In throwing away supernatural (not brain-invented) faith, people also throw out Sacred Tradition, which is wrought univocally in us by the Holy Spirit, not by our bullying handing on of whatever it is we think we otherwise perceive. It all falls. We need some guidance both on Sacred Scripture and the Faith Supernaturally provided, that is, by the infallible Magisterium which is provided to Peter and his successors as viable by Christ Jesus, the Word Incarnate Himself.

While Prometheanesque, Pelagianesque, self-referential, self-absorbed individuals in the Church rampage with their ambiguity and heresies and cowardly arrogant violence, those individuals, it must be remembered, are simply representing themselves. The doctrine and morality of the Church have never changed. No pressure group of laity, no group of priests, no stampede of bishops or cardinals nor even the Pope himself can reverse revealed doctrine and morality. They are not God. And for that matter, God cannot change doctrine and morality; God cannot change the Truth. God is the Living Truth.

The trike of the Most Holy Trinity and the trike of Revelation in the Church just keep rolling, however much anyone thinks they can kick out this or that wheel. They only make for a crash and burn experience for themselves, not for God, not for the Church as such.

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Priest’s Sunday is not a rest day

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Up at 3:00 AM. Over to church at 5:30 AM. Adoration and Confessions at 6:00 AM. Race from Cherokee County to Graham County 7:10 AM. Set up for Adoration with Confessions at 7:35 AM. Exposition with Rosary 8:00 AM. Mass 8:30 AM. Social after Mass and race back to the main church for Confessions at 10:30 AM and Mass at 11:00 AM. Social afterward. Talk, talk, talk. Then immediately bringing Holy Communion to the home-bound in the valley on on the mountain tops, and at the nursing homes of the various cities in the parish, getting home about 7:30 PM. The picture above was taken after 7:00 PM while leaving the last nursing home for the day.

Then it was simply a matter of feeding Shadow-dog and Laudie-dog, always a joy. Then I had a bite to eat, and after a brief look at phone stuff – unwinding a bit – and then Vespers of the Divine Office, it was off to bed.

The take-away of this screed of unrepeatable circumstances is that life goes on, and that it’s best to walk with Jesus at all times and in all circumstances. If there are those who have lost the plot elsewhere in the Church, well, that is their decision, and we pray for them so that they return to Christ Jesus. But I’m not going to grant to those others rights over my soul, over my peace. We can all of us ask Jesus for that peace.

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Missionaries of Mercy insult mercy?

This came in as a comment on another post, but I thought I might highlight it so as to clear up some things:

“Father, regardless of whether your invitation from Pope Francis to be a Missionary of Mercy continues, you and all other good priests will always be Our Lord’s Missionaries of Mercy having left the world behind to mediate between God and man for the sake of our salvation. Thank you for all you do.

“I found it unsettling that Pope Francis set a small number of priests apart from their ordained brothers by calling them to be Missionaries of Mercy because it implied, or so it seemed to me, that bringing God’s mercy to people was something new – a new initiative of the pope being trialled by a small number of priests before being rolled out to the Church at large. Catechised and practising Catholics know better – they know well the merciful nature of the priesthood – but the uncatechised and non-practising don’t and they are the majority.

“It follows that if most people are led to believe that the priesthood up until the advent of Pope Francis was not merciful (uncaring and harsh), they will also accept his labelling of priests as rigid when living their priesthood in accordance with tradition (in continuity with the past), and subsequently agree with the German and Amazon Synods that change (discontinuity with the past) is needed for a caring, merciful Church to come into being.

“It’s no use worrying about this but we do need to be aware and prepared, each faithful member of the Church living his or her vocation better than ever before as we face a crisis greater than ever before.”

This is an excellent comment. I would feel the same about it if it were not for a few other considerations. But I must say, your Catholic sensus fidelium is quite fine tuned. So, thank you for that.

I myself have been ranting on charismatics calling themselves charismatics, as if they had something to brag about or as if no one else was moved by the Holy Spirit or was devoid of the indwelling of the Most Holy Trinity after Baptism or even after Confirmation. Who are they to have total say-so over whithersoever the Holy Spirit may wish to bring anyone?

And for that matter, what about those “Marian Priests”, of which I’ve been called one throughout the decades, I think just because I might promote the Rosary or Brown Scapular or mention my pilgrimages to Fatima and Lourdes and Guadalupe and to Our Lady of Revelation near Tre Fontane on the peripheries of Rome, and so many others? But must not all priests be “Marian”? Does not the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God take on all priests as a special project – we being so needy – so that we might be more apt instruments of her own Divine Son, the High Priest, Christ Jesus?

So, as you can see, I get your train of thought. But there’s more to the Missionaries of Mercy, and there’s more to some being appointed in the Church for different tasks.

For instance, Jesus did NOT mandate all his disciples to be exorcists, and the Church has never mandated all to be exorcists.

For instance, and more to the point, there is supposed to be a Penitentiary in every diocese who takes care of reserved sins in whatever way he is delegated to do that by the bishop. “Reserved sins.” That’s an ancient practice. No innovation with that. Some the Penitentiary can do. For others that are further reserved to the Apostolic See or even to the Holy Father, he must arrange for conditions for the absolution through the Apostolic Penitentiary in Rome. I don’t know the history of Canon Law, but this kind of thing has been going on for very many centuries indeed.

The Missionary of Mercy different from other priests has the faculties directly from the Holy Father to absolve some of that which is otherwise reserved to Rome. This is most encouraging to priests who – albeit through their own fault – find themselves in dire situations of risking their eternal salvation. And, yes, the extra faculties deal mostly but not exclusively with priests.

I cannot go into it, obviously – nor would you expect me to – but this Missionary of Mercy thing has made a significant change for the better in the life of the Church. I don’t get how some who are not priests and not Missionaries of Mercy can make the comment that it is all ridiculous. I’m not saying you’re saying that. You’re not. I know what you’re saying. But there have been many who speak out of turn as it’s just not in the range of their knowledge. It’s just cool to bash Missionaries of Mercy. Some for quite a while even insisted that no Missionary of Mercy is a validly ordained priest! They will have to deal with our Lord. I forgive them. Such irony.

UPDATE: Having said all that, you may well be right that it will all work out as you say, and we Missionaries of Mercy are simply being played. That’s why I’ve asked about “future developments.” If that means that in future the Missionaries of Mercy will be asked to host dialoguing events about doctrine and morality and liturgy and all sorts of Church discipline, then, well… Yikes!

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Missionaries of Mercy in an age of confusion: “future developments”

That was the opening of the letter. It was sent on a very significant day on so many levels and in so many ways. After some paragraphs on some logistics, the letter continues:

“Future developments”… Pray tell… We will see.

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6:00am Adoration / Confessions

On Sunday morning we had record numbers in our tiny parish. Did anyone say: “solution to the crisis of faith.”

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Condescending Amazon Synod -Patronizing Amazon Synod

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Sarcasm on /// Let’s get people as naked as possible and say ever so condescendingly and patronizingly that these people have no intellectual or moral capacity, and then let’s change doctrine and morality for them, “accompanying them”, and then lets say that we have the same lack of capacity for doctrine and morality, and then we also will live whatever way we want without any doctrine and without any morality, also getting ourselves as naked as possible. Let’s take advice from false gods. — Oh, right. We already do that. And the German Bishops Conference which has such a big say in the Amazon Synod has owned one of the biggest porn distributors in the world. I forgot. “The heart of the Church,” it is said. Now I get it. I’ve been so blind. Let’s just sacrifice each other and eat each others hearts out. /// off sarcasm … Or maybe that’s not sarcasm at all.

Against purposed ambiguity, here’s Saint Paul, 2 Timothy 4:1-4:

  • “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths.”

And here’s Saint Peter himself (1 Peter 3:15-16):

  • “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear.”

Are Saint Peter and Saint Paul and the Holy Spirit to be condemned? Here’s the deal, in all of this, for years now, no one has mentioned Jesus Christ, Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, unless it’s just a flippant mention so as to definitively dismiss Jesus. Apparently, Jesus, who is the Living Truth, is irrelevant to all peoples in all cultures everywhere at all times. But instead:

  • “Every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him. All the peoples of the earth will lament him. Yes. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “the One who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Apocalypse 1:7-8)

Get that? Jesus is the One. He’s the only One.

Freakishly self-absorbed, Promethean full-on Pelagians think they are the founders of a new religion with no truth, no morality, no liturgy, but especially, no salvation, no Jesus. They think that they are the only ones, the saviors, gods without Jesus.

I’m angry that truth and morality is ripped away from proselytizers who make others twice the sons of Satan as themselves. I don’t like that. I don’t like it at all. And that’s from a Missionary of Mercy. And, yes, being upset is good, you know, like Jesus cleansing from the Temple, His Body, from those prostituting religion to their own lack of doctrine, lack of morality, lack of God.

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Of Pontificates and vomiting out of one’s mouth

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Revelation 3:16 (Yes, 3:16): “Because you are lukewarm [tepid, sickeningly room temp.], neither hot nor cold, I am about to vomit you out of my mouth.”

That’s kind of redundant, isn’t it? “Vomit” and “out of mouth”? That reinforces a vivid, intense disgust.

I once saw Laudie-dog take up a toad into her mouth. She instantly dropped it and shook her head side to side with quite a bit of violence, and was – how to describe it? – reverse licking her chops, desperately trying to get toad-slime out of her mouth. This went on for minutes. You get the picture. The toad pictured here is right next to Shadow-dog’s and Laudie-dog’s fence. They both entirely ignore the toad.

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The other beast ubiquitous this time of year is the stink-bug introduced just these last few years to these USA. The dogs also entire ignore these ultra-super-stinky creatures that look like wood-ticks on steroids, like some sort of King-Kong of the tick world, except that they are herbivorous. They have no natural predator wasps in these USA, yet.

ANALOGY: The whole vomit thing is how I feel about some things since Pope Benedict abdicated being the Bishop of Rome. As you know, I defend the person of Pope Francis to the extreme, and beg for prayers for him frequently (Hail Mary…). He’s the Pope. We must pray for him. Our Lord prayed for Peter just as Peter is denying Him three times. Peter became a saint. The Lord will hold us to our obligation to pray for the successor of Peter regardless of what side of whatever we are on.

  • Having said that, I have a terrible and even physical revulsion to purposed ambiguity, the smacking down of doctrine and morality and any bullying. There are too many incidents to list. Amoris laetitia, effectively burning down the JPII Institute for Marriage and the Family, the patronizing, condescending dismissal of the humanity of those in the Amazon regions, holding that they have no real capacity for faith or morality, the upcoming destabilization of the Roman Curia by extracting executive power, a driving engine, therefore, for free and easy rebellion. So, intense disgust? Yes.

But I am still the Bishop of Rome’s faithful Missionary of Mercy. And I thank the Successor of Saint Peter for what he has done for me as a Missionary of Mercy, and what he has done for others at my request. I am not ungrateful. I am very grateful. As I say, for all the things I speak about with parrhesia (speaking boldly regardless of the consequences), I’m never been smacked down for that by this Bishop of Rome.

To say that I ignore all the purposed ambiguity in my own spiritual life and in my priestly duties is, however, a mischaracterization. It’s true that I don’t allow, by the grace of God, any jaded cynicism to turn me into a fire breathing dragon full of hate for God and neighbor just because of someone else’s misadventures. Instead, I use failures of certain ecclesiastics to fire me up all the more in my preaching, in my solidarity with Jesus in the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in my priestly duties with the sick and dying. Much better, that, don’t you agree? I have never backed down from correcting those who have fallen for false-accompaniment of now purposely continued sin. Instead, I go after all the hot-button topics all the more. :-)

Here’s the deal: I have a much higher appreciation of the intellectual and moral capacities of people than many others in the church right now. I have a much higher appreciation of the power of our Lord’s redemption of us and of the possibility that we be saved. Why’s that, you ask? Because I know that, of myself, without the grace of God, I myself am a sinner who would block out all reasoning power about that sin. I would be hopeless, except for the grace of God. And I know, having been open to forgiveness, how powerful the Lord’s love and forgiveness is. As Saint Thomas More said to the Duke of Norfolk: “It’s not that I believe; it’s that I BELIEVE.

  • I would absolutely HATE it if people, if priests didn’t bother to put me on the right track, just “accompanied” me in my sin (such as my impatience with Pope Francis), taking me seriously, instead of calling me out of my sin by unapologetically (re-)introducing me Jesus Christ, taking Him seriously, the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, who bears the wounds of the slaughter of our sins upon Himself. I would hope that if I ever took myself seriously, people would smack me down on my knees to be in humble thanksgiving, not to myself, but to Jesus.

So, a couple of points:

  1. We should be disgusted with ourselves if we are apart from God, just as much as God would be to vomit us out of His mouth, so to speak, just as Laudie-dog would be wanting to vomit a toad out of her mouth.
  2. On the contrary, we read in Psalm 34:8 – “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.”

The Aphorism! Don’t take ourselves seriously. Take Jesus seriously.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Photo-bomb, edition)

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These were sent in this morning from a reader.

So, another kind of “Grasshopper Chapel.” See:

Assumption Chapel where I grew up

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Taking aim at my lack of aim because…

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Before I got my purchase permit and then immediately my concealed carry permit here in Western North Carolina 2+ years ago, I had never shot a pistol in my life. I got it because in some places of our Catholic Diocese a prerequisite for being a police chaplain is to go though critical incident training facilitated by the FBI. Part of the course deals with terrorists and terrorism and situational awareness and the handling of critical incidents so as to facilitate the most people surviving in whatever ways of assistance that is possible according to the possibilities.

Because of unforeseen contingencies, the agents make you familiar with, that is, know how to break down and set up and accurately fire under any conditions pretty much any kind of gun there is, at least all the variants used by any police department or police response unit in one’s region. While I figured I could learn how to work with rifles or shotguns easy enough (though I would have to stare at the math for sniper work a bit), I also thought that it would be more difficult to acquire skills for a pistol, such as shooting while running, etc., and that those lack of skills would slow me down.

As one can tell from the older pictures above, early on I was tending to make grip mistakes, with inconsistency being my strong point, you know, with being self-taught and all that. It’s pretty bad when inconsistency is your strongest point! I had plenty of hyper-qualified people giving advice, but only rarely would I be at a range with anyone. The hermitage is the most middle of nowhere place for a range imaginable. Leading myself, it’s the blind leading the blind. And it’s that way until today. So, I need practice. But I haven’t been able to have a good extended session for really quite a long time now. And since those pictures were taken above I’ve pretty much limited myself to various tactical pistol courses, such as this simple one for periodic pistol qualification for already serving FBI agents. It’s easy as they don’t want agents getting a DQ, a disqualification. Here’s that course pictured below:

That picture is also pretty old, but it exactly represents what I put up the other day in the exact same place at the hermitage. Those are legal size paper details of the inside bottle of the QIT 97-99 set out at 3-5-7-15-25 yards. One draws from the holster for various combinations of shots and timings. Here’s what I had just started to do on the infamous “Day Off” the other day in a totally relaxed manner. Timings are in hundredths of seconds:

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So, not so quick. Cutting those times in half would be ideal. But the hits were all in time and all accurate. But that’s a false report, really, as I didn’t bother to get myself worked up with a bit of adrenaline (as one can do with, say, hill sprints, or not!), which adrenaline is what will always happen in a critical incident. Anyway, after this, I had planned on doing the FAMs course and SEALs course, et al., but I didn’t even finish stage four (of five stages) a couple of minutes into the first run through the FBI course.

The phone rang. The police.

As soon as I answered, I knew I was done with any shooting for the day and started packing up the targets mid-course while I continued speaking. That phone call went on for a very long time there on that mountain trail up to the hermitage. The phone cut out multiple times (no strong cell-tower signal at the hermitage) but we reconnected and continued until we talked ourselves out for the day. It was getting dark out, so I headed down the ridge and had a great chat and meal with the neighbors and then got myself back home before midnight. Some hundreds of miles. The next day was given to research about that conversation, and today will be given over to answering this interlocutor by email.

The guy with whom I was talking is well known to all police chiefs in the country. He recommended lots of things to me to put some past skills at the service of law enforcement locally, in these USA, and on a more international basis. I recognized in him a spirit which I only sometimes come across. His devotion to God and country, his patriotism, his integrity, the suffering he’s been through, all so inspiring.

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When Padre Pio met Saint Michael. When Father Byers knew nothing at all.

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Elijah with the flaming fiery sword on Mount Carmel, Israel.

[This was written ten years ago. Today, precisely, is a good day to repost it. Padre Pio’s feast day. /// BTW, today marks 25 years in prison of Fr Gordon MacRae. Hail Mary… St Michael the Archangel… ///]

You can read things dozens of times over the years and just not “get it” at all. That’s me. But this year when I read the following letter of Padre Pio, I was mesmerized. I now know a bit more just how much I absolutely don’t know anything about the spiritual life. I have written academically about that of which he speaks, the flaming sword. I am vindicated on that academic level at least, for I am alone across the millennia in what I have written. But on a spiritual level, well, I am thrust to the ground in deep humiliation, for I obviously know nothing of the spiritual life. But at least I know that I know nothing. These days, that’s something. And it’s way more than enough to ask for this great saint’s help. Apologies are given in advance for the inadequacy of [my comments] below. You can see from my Coat of Arms (thanks to Elizdelphi! No words on the banner yet) that I am grateful to have written about the sword of which Padre Pio speaks…

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From the Letters of Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, priest (Epist. I, 1065; 1093-1095)

I will raise my voice and will not stop imploring him

“Out of obedience I am obliged to manifest to you what happened to me on the evening of the 5th of this month of August 1918 [Vigil of the Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus] and all day on the 6th [Feast of the Transfiguration].

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“I am quite unable to convey to you what occurred during this period of utter torment. While I was hearing the boys’ confessions on the evening of the 5th [making them saints!], I was suddenly terrorized by the sight of a celestial person [an angel, a cherub] who presented himself to my mind’s eye [So, not an apparition, but entirely spiritual. People think angels are all fluffy chiffon pastels and cutesy cutesy. Pio speaks of torment and terror, and this angel is from heaven!]. He had in his hand a sort of weapon [“weapon”] like a very long sharp-pointed steel blade which seemed to emit fire. [This is the sword mentioned in Genesis 3:24. It is the sword which “turns into its contrary by way of the fiery grace of enmity against Satan and by way of friendship with God whatever is presented to it.” This is the sword with which the Carmelites depict Elijah. This is the sword of Saint Michael. This is the sword of Saint Teresa of Avila…] At the very instant that I saw all this, I saw that person hurl the weapon into my soul with all his might. [Seeing that a cherub could crush the entire universe if given permission from the Most High, this is saying really a lot…] I cried out with difficulty and felt I was dying. I asked the boys to leave because I felt ill and no longer had the strength to continue. [What an understatement of all time. They must have been scared for him.] This agony lasted uninterruptedly until the morning of the 7th. I cannot tell you how much I suffered during this period of anguish. Even my entrails were torn and ruptured by the weapon, [“weapon”] and nothing was spared. [“nothing” – and here I try to hang on to this and that. And in doing that I am totally lacking in generosity. I’ve done nothing in my life. I’ve not laid down my life as so many have done. Pio is going through his purgatory all at once, 40 some hours for him. And what would I do, I who surely have a purgatory lasting until the end of the world?]

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Elijah’s fiery sword on the Discalced Carmelite Coat of Arms

“From that day on I have been mortally wounded. [And this is no longer his wound, but that of humanity, with Pio now being in solidarity with Jesus on the Cross even as Jesus is in solidarity with us, loving us while we are yet sinners, drawing all to Himself as He is lifted up on the Cross. And we watch with Him…] I feel in the depths of my soul a wound that is always open and which causes me continual agony. What can I tell you in answer to your questions regarding my crucifixion? My God! What embarrassment and humiliation I suffer by being obliged to explain what you have done to this wretched creature! [For we do nothing to save ourselves. Jesus is our Savior. We come to realize this. We are nothing. He is all. He shows us what He has saved us from, and not just us, me, but we see how He has saved all of us as we gain some heightened perspective on the cross.]

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“On the morning of the 20th of last month [two weeks later], in the choir [making the traditional thanksgiving prayers after Mass], after I had celebrated Mass I yielded to a drowsiness similar to a sweet sleep. All the internal and external senses and even the very faculties of my soul were immersed in indescribable stillness. Absolute silence surrounded and invaded me. I was suddenly filled with great peace and abandonment which effaced everything else and caused a lull in the turmoil. All this happened in a flash. While this was taking place I saw before me a mysterious person similar to the one I had seen on the evening of August 5th. [We entertain angels and even the Son of Man and do not know it. How much the angels reflect the Son of Man! And the fiery love of God, issuing from the throne of the Most High, from the Heart of Him who loves us so much, is just that fierce on that sword which transforms us utterly in God’s love.] The only difference was that his hands and feet and side were dripping blood. This sight terrified me and what I felt at that moment is indescribable. I thought I should die and really should have died if the Lord had not intervened and strengthened my heart which was about to burst out of my chest. [We are utterly weak. It is all Jesus.] The vision disappeared and I became aware that my hands, feet and side were dripping blood. Imagine the agony I experienced and continue to experience almost every day. [He speaks also and especially of his embarrassment, for he, as all of us from Adam until the last man is conceived, caused those wounds in our Lord. How is it that he, Pio, or any of us could share such wounds of love for all those Jesus has redeemed and wills to save?] The heart wound bleeds continually, especially from Thursday evening until Saturday.

PADRE PIO SEAL OF CONFESSION

Padre Pio reprimanding the Bishop about the Seal of Confession.

“Dear Father, I am dying of pain because of the wounds and the resulting embarrassment I feel deep in my soul. I am afraid I shall bleed to death if the Lord does not hear my heartfelt supplication to relieve me of this condition. Will Jesus, who is so good, grant me this grace? Will he at least free me from the embarrassment caused by these outward signs? [The embarrassment, mind you, is more than enough to end his life on this earth.] I will raise my voice and will not stop imploring him until in his mercy he takes away, not the wound or the pain, which is impossible since I wish to be inebriated with pain, but these outward signs which cause me such embarrassment and unbearable humiliation. The person of whom I spoke in a previous letter is none other than the one I mentioned having seen on August 5th. He continues his work incessantly, causing me extreme spiritual agony. There is a continual rumbling within me like the gushing of blood. [This Hebrew description of this sword in Genesis 3:24 (which I think I am the very first to translate pedantically, as it really is just that difficult), the sword which the angel is mashing around inside Pio is variously and wrongly translated as the twirling sword, the sword which moves about this way and that, etc., is, instead, “the sword which causes that which is presented to it to be transformed into its contrary.” Thus, we don’t take from the Tree of the Living Ones, though we can humbly receive its fruit (the Eucharist from the Cross).] My God! Your punishment is just and your judgment right, but grant me your mercy. Lord, with your Prophet I shall continue to repeat: O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger; do not punish me in your rage! Dear Father, now that my whole interior state is known to you, do not refuse to send me a word of comfort in the midst of such severe and harsh suffering.” [If it were I who had to respond to him, knowing I know nothing, but despite that, I would say that in our very reception of mercy we must show mercy to the rest of the members of the Body of Christ, those whom Jesus has redeemed and wills to save. Our suffering is occasioned by the lack of others, lack of faith, etc., but it is not their cross we carry, but instead we come to know what we would be like if we ourselves were to be without the grace of our Lord in therefore our lack of faith, etc…. and our remaining in friendship by the grace of God in such horrific circumstances acts as an intercession for those who are truly without faith, etc. This is drawing all to Christ on the cross in solidarity with Jesus, who does this by His grace. He, the Head of the Body does this, but we are members of that Body and we are with Him. If we only knew! If we only knew! Now Pio had his eyes opened, his soul torn open, his hands and feet and heart torn open. But it’s all Jesus. Jesus’ love taking on our lack. Embarrassing to us? Yes. And we run away. Pio couldn’t run any more. The angel presented himself, and, fiercely raising his weapon of God’s love… I know nothing. Saint Pio: help this donkey-priest to come to know Jesus! Help all of us priests!]

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Filed under Confession, Missionaries of Mercy, Priesthood, Saints, Spiritual life, Vocations

Satanist defends Satan against me, attacking prayers for Pope Francis

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From time to time I’ll ask for prayers for Pope Francis. That’s always a good idea. There is no one more attacked by Satan than any Pope, whoever it happens to be, saint or sinner, who lives within the Tradition or is simply a heretic, who lives as an ascetic or as el creepo. One wants the Pope to assist in bringing us all into unity with Him who is the Living and unmanipulatable Truth, Christ Jesus, Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception. Praying for the Pope doesn’t comment that one agrees or disagrees with anything he says or does. Your prayers are that he be in humble thanksgiving to Jesus, and therefore that he live and teach in a saintly manner always regardless of what he is presently doing and teaching, or not. This is not difficult. But for some, apparently, it is.

I received this Speedy reaction to my last appeal for prayers for Pope Francis the other day, light lightening. It is from a Satanist in Canada, apoplectic that I get absolutely everything wrong. Let’s take this sentence by sentence. Let’s call this person Speedy:

  • “It is obvious you do not know what Bergoglia’s [[“a” – That’s a bit insulting]] agenda is.” [[What I apparently don’t know is that Speedy‘s agenda is identical to that of Pope Francis, which, in Speedy‘s opinion, is praiseworthy. Of course, what Speedy says Pope Francis’ agenda is does not mean that such is in fact the agenda of Pope Francis!]]
  • “At the very beginning of his Pontificate, he praised Lucifer, who is the god he believes in..”  [[As has often been said, Pope Francis has dissed Satan and called for exorcisms perhaps more than all other Popes put together, right from the beginning of his Pontificate. This might throw one off guard, but Speedy is actually using Pope Francis as an authority to hide behind, you know, to say that Satanism is a good thing: If the Pope believes that Satan is god, can’t we all do that? Speedy explains:]]
  • “To begin with, Lucifer is the Original Evil, in existence at the same time as God.” [[And there we have it. Speedy insists for us numbskulls that Lucifer is just as much God as God, kind of one half of a dualistic God, part good, part evil, so that Satan is as eternal as God, so that Satan is not a creature, but is also God. “Original Evil.” That’s not “Original sin. See what Speedy says now, following up on this:]]
  • “Lucifer’s greatest Deception is the belief that he is a fallen angel created by God.” [[Get it? Speedy is saying that the truth is that Satan, Lucifer, is not created by God, is not a creature, but instead that Satan, Lucifer is God, just the evil side of a kind of binary god. In that case, always according to Speedy, Lucifer cannot be an angel, that is, a messenger of God, but is a God in his own right. Moreover, Speedy insists that Lucifer is not fallen which would somehow say that evil is less than good. Some others have said that Satan is a personification of evil (a figment of the imagination, therefore, or a mere imaginary analogy with original sin, which is all also incorrect). Speedy is saying that being evil is not being fallen. It is what it is, so that evil is just as good as good is good.]]
  • “His agenda” [[The agenda of Lucifer (follow the referent of the pronoun).]] “is to bring all churches, denominations, including Islam under one church with him [[“him”=Lucifer.]] as the leader of the New World Religion in the NWO [[New World Order, which refers back to New World Order of Professional Wrestling? Just askin’. Speedy is saying that Pope Francis shares in this “church” and so is also trying to proselytize Muslims to be in church. That would be the very first time I heard of Pope Francis trying to proselytize anyone whomsoever. Sure, Satan wants everyone under himself because Satan, Lucifer, hates us. Conversely, Jesus wants to give us as a gift to our Heavenly Father, because Jesus loves us. “The many” will be saved, but not all. We do have free will.]].

And that’s the end of the screed. It’s like I can hear howling and barking from this Satanist upon finishing this attack on Jesus and Jesus’ Church, upon heaping praise for Satan. If this is a someone who allowed “theirself” to become bitter and frustrated and angry and icily cynical and vicious, well… speaking directly to this person… I hope you will come around: choose eternal life, not eternal death. So, therefore:

Go to Confession!

Here’s the deal: Even if Pope Francis were to be teaching and doing all those truly evil things listed above (NOT!), would we not all the more want to pray for Pope Francis to assist in bringing him out of the darkest of existential peripheries? Yes. So, also:

Pray for Pope Francis!

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Filed under Missionaries of Mercy, Pope Francis

Why I’m thankful to Pope Francis: Typical Missionary of Mercy?

pope francis asperges

So, let me count the ways:

  • I’m a Missionary of Mercy. That’s helped many souls. Some are apoplectic that Missionaries of Mercy even exist and even insist that they cannot possibly be real priests. I have never gone against proper canonical sacramental norms. I wonder if those who complain will bear the weight of the sins of those that I have absolved. People should be careful about damning properly given absolutions. It seems to me that they are doing the bidding of Satan.
  • Both cases that go to the heart of the abuse crisis, one policy and one a person, were totally taken on board by Pope Francis when I delivered those cases to him. That’s not nothing.
  • I have learned a bit of humility by being condemned for asking for prayers for Pope, as I would for any Pope, regardless of what people think of him. There is no person on earth who has so much pressure put on him by Satan. And being the leader of 1.3 Billion people and of influence on the others is not nothing.
  • Unlike those who rant about Pope Francis, who are consumed day and night with condemning him, I have learned not to grant so much real estate of my life over to this fellow who lives in Santa Marta. Those who do so are making an idol of him. Why? Does it get them notoriety? Are they heroes because they are “brave.” Pfft. It’s not nothing to learn that Jesus is the One, that Jesus is the only One.
  • I should like to think that I know the faith, that I grow in the faith, in the life of the Church, that is, not just academically, but, as Pope Francis says, on the peripheries, and from the whole of the Body of Christ. Is that wrong? It is not nothing.

To those who are now screaming at their computer screens that I should write a list of the things that I am not thankful for whatsoever, I say that first of all, they should also write a list for what they are thankful about regarding Pope Francis. No, really. Open up a screen on the computer and start writing. You might be surprised at what you come up with on your list.

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Homily 2019 09 15 Prodigal Son and descriptions of (im-)perfect contrition

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The one thing I forgot to mention in this homily was that the “pity” or “compassion” the Father had upon seeing his prodigal son is something rather altogether more precisely the kind of mercy that belongs to Jesus alone. And, indeed, the word used is employed exclusively for the mercy Jesus shows to us sinners. It’s not that Jesus merely had compassion or pity, but rather that His very heart was sacrificed. Yes. And it was, for us, literally, in the agony of the garden and upon the cross and upon our altars.

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Call 911! Simultaneous church incidents. Confessing situational UN-awareness.

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We had some sort of emergency in the far back corner of Holy Redeemer Church this past Sunday, September 8, at the end of the offertory of the 11:00 AM Mass. Our entire church can fit into most sanctuaries of most churches, so, the far back corner of the church is, like, merely 25 feet away from the altar.

Someone cried out: “Call 911!” And the chorus of “Call 911!” multiplied in seconds. But there was no noisy commotion. No one said what the emergency was in those first seconds. I hiked it down from the altar to the back of the church in those few seconds. Pastor is as pastor does, right? As I then found out, it was a medical emergency for one of our ushers. In mere seconds, I gave an emergency anointing of the sick to the usher even before they were able to lay him down on the floor. EMS arrived minutes later and our usher is just fine now.

Since our faith family is small, we’re pretty tightly knit, so you can imagine our hearts were entirely in solidarity with our usher. You might say that we were distracted, that anyone bothering to have any situational awareness could now relax as it’s surely impossible that any other critical incident indicators that might present themselves cannot happen, because, you know, emergencies rarely happen, and un-associated and entirely diverse critical incidents never happen at the same time. So, go ahead, let your guard down, right? Wrong.

We immediately continued Mass starting with the Preface. “The Lord be with you!” “And with your spirit!” came the strikingly strong response. I can’t imagine that anyone would or, humanly speaking, could complain about these few seconds given over for the anointing, either time-wise or appropriateness-wise. So, no big deal, right? But something else happened in those few seconds in back of the church which should have had me run after someone so as to get a licence plate without him realizing it, you know, right after that anointing. That would have been logistically pretty easy in our circumstances. But I didn’t do it. Stupid me. Let’s review.

We had an unusually high number of visitors throughout the church. The emergency and the calls to call 911 were happening right in back of a certain visitor, who, unlike the others, did not come with a family. Never seen him before. He was alone [… description removed…]. By the time I got next to that certain visitor who was sitting at the end of the pew in the side aisle in that back corner of the church, with me just about to reach over others to anoint our usher, the visitor guy came out of the end of the pew and simply pushed me into those holding up the usher, that is, out of his own way. The visitor guy then bolted to the front-side door of the church and made good his escape. “Escape…”

The push wasn’t anything violent, but it was forceful enough to get the job done (I’m a pretty big guy), forceful enough that I had to turn to look at him while he bolted out. It was all too surreal. I was instantly all questions about who he was and what he was up to. I watched him until he went out the door next to the sanctuary in, say, four seconds. Whatever about him, I then turned my attention over to the usher so as to get him anointed.

Many are able to keep a sense of situational awareness for a singular critical incident that may take place at any given time, but it is not so easy to be entirely in the midst of one incident while another, entirely un-associated and entirely diverse and utterly unexpected critical incident begins at the same time in the same place. That’s what was happening here. This was an excellent experience easily able to demonstrate lack of readiness. Humility is always needed. To be noted:

  • The visitor was visibly shaken when the calls to call 911 rang out right behind him. A description of his fear from someone who, having turned around in the pew directly in front of him, looking him square in the face, was that he was all worked up in fear, something you can’t do instantaneously. Shock is one thing, freezing up. But being worked up in fear is another thing altogether. This was a fear he was already in the midst of, during which the calls to call 911 took him by surprise. He did NOT turn to see what was happening right in back of him in those first seconds when it was not being said if this was a medical emergency or a law enforcement emergency of some kind. Everyone else turned to see what was happening. That he didn’t turn to see what was going on right behind him is quite impossible. Was it that any medical emergency was insignificant compared to what he himself was about to cause? Did he feel caught out in some way, that someone recognized him?

Recall the discovery of “White Hat”, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the two terrorist bombers of the Boston Marathon, now locked up in the ultra-super-max ADX facility in Florence, Colorado. He was the only one who did NOT look at the explosion as it took place on Boylston Street near the finish line of the race. He is the only one who looked away from the explosion, and then made good his escape:

I have the link of that video set to 49:36. Watch until 50:35, just under a minute. This is a lesson in catching out a bad actor. Note how the terrorist guy doesn’t look, but looks away. This is important. Also:

  • The visitor guy quietly said something with quiet deliberate determination as a proclamation to himself, to God, to neighbor, though as a kind of soliloquy:

“No! – I can’t do this! – I have to leave!”

This was not a frantic, panic attack statement, nor a statement issuing from PTSD. It was all quite deliberate, even ever so slightly tinged with anger, but not at any of us, but rather with himself, disappointed, it seems, perhaps, that he had actually decided to do something horrific, but was just now changing his mind. He wasn’t at all in panic-like fear. Nor was he suffering from wartime violent sensory overload and couldn’t bear to see anything anymore even in the form of a non-violent medical emergency. He didn’t know if it was a medical emergency or he was being called out. If he was a bad actor and was just now changing his mind to not do the unthinkable, a medical emergency and calls to 911 would act as a preview of what he himself was about to bring about. He couldn’t take it.

(1) “No!” — This is an answer, voiced for himself to hear physically, regarding an internal agonizing dialogue that he had been having, much longer than just a few seconds.

(2) “I can’t do this!” — The reasoned conclusion isn’t about someone deciding to get over agoraphobia and feeling like a failure, so that he had heroically decided to be in a place as public as a church but was failing in the attempt. No. For all his fear, his words were way too deliberate to be issuing from panic. The reference of “this” is not a reference to a PTSD episode. Again, note that the statement was reasoned and deliberate. He was thinking about doing some thing, not thinking about suffering some episode. He’s entrenching his “No!”

(3) “I have to leave!” — He was a heap of chaotic emotions. IF he was a bad actor – and I’m not saying that he was (I’m just using this as a lesson in situational awareness) – but if he was a bad actor and had repented on the spot, he would want to get himself the heck out of there lest he change his mind. And the dichotomy between what he was seeing in the calm worshiping and his would-be senseless violence was too much to handle in front of others. He needed to be alone to sort things out. Such on the spot repentance is one of the best things I’ve ever seen. Good for him. He did it. He did the right thing. This was grace at work. The Holy Spirit working on him. His conscience getting to him. Great!

If that guy is reading this, and I’m wrong about all this, please, accept my apologies. It’s just that this makes for a good lesson in situational awareness. If you’re a good actor, you’ll understand that we can’t be too careful in these weird days of waaaay toooo many critical incidents, and that we have to learn from out-of-the-ordinary behaviors. It’s not you I’m judging. I’m just wondering about the ensemble of indicators. That’s all.

If that guy is reading this, and I’m right about all this, please, know that God loves you and wants you in heaven for ever. Yep. God’s love is more powerful than anything we could ever come up with. He wants us back. Always. If you’re Catholic, Go to Confession! Taking your own life is not allowed. You are not beyond redemption, not beyond salvation. God loves you. We love you. God’s love is more powerful. Don’t hate yourself. Just receive our Lord’s forgiveness. I, for one, would give you a do-able penance for sure. And the secret of any Confession is absolute. This is what we have to be about in this world, helping each other to get to heaven. We can be thankful to the Lord together, for Jesus’ mercy endures forever. Amen.

The time that the visitor guy was noticed in particular and until he left the church was, like, eight seconds. These things take place very quickly.

If there was a scary part, it was that he hesitated, wavered for just a split second before exiting out the side door, like he had to make one final decision not to do something.

Finally: Thanks go to guardian angels.

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Filed under Confession, Intelligence Community, Law enforcement, Missionaries of Mercy, Situational awareness, Terrorism

Hot heads, anachronisms, paradigmatic shifts, fickleness. *Crux stat!*

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So, the other day some a Junior in High School was all upset because his girl friend dumped him. Things got ramped up on social media (of course) and he made threats that he was going to shoot the school up or kill people. He didn’t have any guns, but he was arrested on already existing laws about making terroristic threats. So, a hot head who says dumb things while he processes the break-up. If we see something we should say something, of course. Even a little rampaging is too much rampaging. Kids these days have nothing to fall back on when their emotions are all confused and hurt. Sometimes it’s fallen society at large. Sometimes the parents and grandparents did nothing to bring them to Jesus who stepped into this hellhole to redeem us and save us and get us through this life so that we might carry His life and love and truth within us. Our identity is to be found when lifted up into the strength of Christ Jesus. But when we have no identity, when we are not anchored when the storm gets stormy… Anyone else notice that?

I recall the early 1960s, when I was a little kid, playing cops and robbers, or, back then, much less politically correct, cowboys and Indians, and threats would be thrown around while popping out from behind a house or tree and pointing one’s gun (the fingers of one’s hand) at opposing forces, other kids playing the same game, and saying “I’m gonna kill you!” and then saying, “Bang! Bang!” We didn’t mean anything violent by it. And if one was instead surprised by another kid popping out from behind a house or tree and pointing his fingers in the form of a gun at you and saying “Bang! Bang!” one would be just as happy to do up a super-dramatic fall to the ground, pretending to be hit. I did it just to do it. It was part of the game. Mostly we played hide and seek in the late evening. During the day it was baseball and football, or the riding of bikes, or… The inscaping of the kind of vocabulary used with “I’m gonna kill you!” with today’s horrible shootings – this time for real – is for me a sign that the times really are changing. Older people mouthing off words like that with the meaning they attached to it when they were kids playing in their quiet neighborhoods with good friends is paradigmatically different than a kid today saying the same thing when all they have seen is another report and then another about kids who say that and then do it. Anyone else notice that?

But there are other paradigmatic shifts in society which maybe not all have noticed. I was overseas teaching in seminaries on behalf of various bishops and national conferences of bishops when the September 11, 2001 attacks took place in these USA. I would remain overseas for another eight years on that particular round of activities without once paying a visit to the USA. It used to be that when I returned Stateside from any trip I would be greeted in the airports – without fail I must say – with “Welcome back!” And if it was JFK in New York, it would be: “Welcome back, Father!” But flying into JFK for the first time since September 11, 2001, even though many years later, it was most apparent that the entire demeanor of people had changed. Perhaps people were too close to it themselves to see it, but for fresh eyes it was mighty shocking. Customs work, for instance, now seemed to be much more about grudgingly doing a job where the people one was serving were treated as some sort of enemy – stunning really. Before September 11, 2001, Customs work was all  about people who were serving people even while it was also true that they had a job to do. But it was always one human being with another human being. Now it’s more like we’ve forgotten how to be human. Or that we’re entitled not to be human anymore, as if there is some sort of ax to grind for having to do anything on a job one signed up for, especially if it involves other people. Anyone else notice that?

Meanwhile, another paradigmatic shift regards opinions about the crusades of the middle ages, when it was a religious thing to do to go on a military campaign against the Saracens, who like the ISIS of any day were slaughtering those in the Holy Land. You might remember the non-stop attack on the crusades some decades ago, around the time of September 11, 2001, that was waged by so many in the mass media, but especially by National Communist Radio, or whatever they call it, NPR, I think. Anyway, that fad seems to have faded a bit and is going the other way. I saw the above pictured bumper sticker on the back window of a truck in the parish parking lot the other day. And I hear lots of commentary from diverse people in diverse places wanting to know more about the crusades, what really happened, what the motivations actually were, you know, like defense of the innocent who were being slaughtered by the ISIS of the day. That’s actually a massive paradigmatic shift even while the “Squad” portrays terrorism as just another thing that people do. Any one else notice that?

Meanwhile, that is, while the universe is shaken and swirls in confusion and is ripped in one direction and then another, it is the self-sacrificing redeeming love of the Lord on the Cross that is an un-beat-down-able Constant:

Crux stat dum volvitur orbis.

The Cross is stable while the world just spins away.

In all of our fickleness, Jesus stood in our place, the Innocent for the guilty, so that He might have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (Jn 3:16)

Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, forever, ever ancient, ever new. And He makes us His friends, so that we walk in His presence. That ain’t us. But He makes it happen. Regardless of culture, regardless of background, regardless of age, etc., etc. People are hungry for the truth and goodness and kindness of the Lord that is so very powerful, stronger than our weakness, stronger than our stupidity, stronger than our sinfulness, stronger than death, bringing us to life now by that grace which will turn to glory – as Saint Paul says – in heaven, eternal life. Any one else notice that?

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Getting smacked down: How Voltaire-esque!

François-Marie Arouet (Zozo, or “Voltaire”) was disgusting in pretty much every way and in every manner and on every level possible. His rule number one in baiting is related in the cartoon above, but in this he is wrong as he is with pretty much everything else he – it seems to me – merely reacted against, thus always equating himself with all that is bad and evil or, more probably in pretty much every instance, all that which is bad and evil in his own perception. A mere reaction is merely equal and opposite, right?

Our Lord Jesus gives us full freedom to speak whatever criticism we want regarding His goodness and kindness and truth, His self-sacrificing love for us. But, of course, He does rule over us and is the Lord of History. He will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. But we can misuse our freedom if we would like to do so. It’s just that there are consequences.

When I write, if not with a flurry at the end of which I just hit the publish button with no further edits, I instead tend to do drafts of expanding notes which begin with that which I don’t want to publish because it’s what I don’t think about the matter at all. Those drafts are done up in an even greater flurry than anything else, not in a reactionary way, but by purposely entering the mindset of all that which is not right at all. A third party reading those mere drafts without also reading my mind on the matter would certainly be like reading an entirely obnoxious Voltaire on his worst day. Anyway, those drafts eventually come around to something a bit more readable but they are still not what I think, not in the least. They are merely something akin to what statistically most people might think to be somewhat civilized. This adds a bit of “culture”! Pfft! All things to all men, or words of Saint Paul to that effect. Then those drafts are in turn brought to another level with an appraisal of the way things actually are, perhaps with an analogy about what happens with Jesus entering into our dodgy human history.

Which brings me to what’s been happening behind the scenes with “Arise! Let us be going!” So, it’s like this… […stay tuned…]

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UPDATE: “I’m here for killing Jews” Sean Patrick Nielson (Charlottesville)

A short time after I had put up the above video of Sean Patrick Nielson at Charlottesville, Virginia, I started getting hits to that post from a certain computer at a certain company on the southeast of Columbus, Ohio, like, all the time, day in and day out, a kind of mania. Looking for comments? Was it the perp himself? Was it a wannabe? Was it an offended party or someone who was simply using that post as PTSD fodder for prayer? Dunno.

A short time after that, the audio of the above video was scrambled on purpose. I thought that was really interesting. Because of that, I searched for an unscrambled version and found it in a longer video at the Washington Post.

Some years have passed. All of a sudden, there is quite a bit of interest in Sean Patrick Nielson again, particularly from a particular flight school. I thought that interesting enough to hunt down my original posts. To my surprise, the audio has been UN-scrambled in the first video. ;-) We’ll see how long that lasts. Interesting.

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Obstreperous, cantankerous, crotchety old man in the throws of death. Then…

last rites

A good friend, an 82nd Airborne Fireman EMT Scots-Irish disaffected Baptist mentioned to me that he just ambulance-delivered an elderly friend of his to a hospital (a new one to me). “He’s Catholic,” he said, adding, “He’s pretty near death.” He told me more about him: “Everything for him is trucks, that was his whole life. He’s pretty crotchety. His parish is […] but we couldn’t get hold of the priest there.” “Just tell me about all those cases,” I requested. “O.K. I sure will,” he said, sorry that he didn’t tell me some hours earlier.

Thinking he might just still be alive, I took off and met this fellow in his hospital room. He was awake, but utterly non-communicative, other than fierce growling noises. He made it clear that he was the most obstreperous, cantankerous, crotchety old man in the throws of death that anyone would ever meet in this world.

There being a chair in the room, I plopped myself down and told him about our common friend. The reaction was for him to be as obstreperous, cantankerous and crotchety as ever, though this new information seemed to make him a bit curious. That was my invitation to continue.

Here’s the deal: Never believe obstreperous, cantankerous and crotchety. That’s just a test to see if someone can respond in kind (that’s some people’s preferred method of communication and there’s no harm in it), a birds-of-a-feather kind of thing. Anyway…

I told him that Jesus wants him in heaven, that Jesus is just that good and kind, even for him, even for me. Always include yourself in making such statements. It’s a birds-of-a-feather kind of thing.

I walked him through how we would go about him receiving the Sacraments and blessings in the present circumstances, interspersing this with how it is that Jesus wound up on the Cross, taking our place, so that Jesus is deadly serious about getting us to heaven, that He didn’t do that so we could just go to hell. He gave a nod of agreement. So, off we went through a flood of sanctifying grace and hope and being pointed to heaven. Was that just about a tear in his eye that I saw?

As a thanks he tried to express his gratitude, but his impossible voice box and weakened state only made it all sound like more obstreperous, cantankerous, crotchety sounds. And yet, these were polite, as it were. And the eyes told the whole story.

My one-time Baptist friend is the best for alerting me for needs for Last Rites. Don’t think that the angels are not at work.

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