Category Archives: Missionaries of Mercy

Excommunication of Mafia by secular courts? What’s this about? Anecdotes…

MAFIA OMERTA

“Hello Fr. George: I had a doubt if excommunication of mafia is also extended to those co- cooperating directly or indirectly by running  illicit businesses like gambling dens and bootlegging. — With prayers [Priest friend from India]”

We’ll have to see the language, which I imagine will be quite filled with legalese. As it is, more than fifty prosecutors, bishops, United Nations representatives and victims of organized crime have just tried to come up with a new legal doctrine concerning “the question of excommunication for corruption and mafia association.” “New” is right.

The novelty in this is that Pope Francis is seriously thinking of moving forward on entirely handing the Church’s own judicial processes of imposing excommunication over to the State regarding the Mafia, so that the opinion of the State as to the guilt of someone in, say, racketeering (a conviction), is what effectively imposes and declares the excommunication. Or is there to be an “administrative process” in some Vatican “Pontifical Council for the Excommunication of the Mafia” whereby the poor fellow has his State conviction rubber stamped by some Vatican office worker? What a sick joke against both justice and mercy. This seems to be insanity, real evil, putting the fox in charge of the hen house.

mafia

The State is often the enemy of the Church in various countries. What do you do if you are a kind of Henry VIII and you have a troublesome cleric like John Fisher or a troublesome Chancellor like Thomas More? Just trump up charges of racketeering and the poor fellows will be not only be convicted by the State but also excommunicated by the Church based solely on that secular conviction. It’s no longer Saint John Fisher but damned John Fisher. It’s no longer Saint Thomas More but damned Thomas More. The Church would no longer has any voice in the public square with this kind of pressure for ecclesiastics to be sycophants of the State. The U.S. Department of State is having a celebration, along with so many governments in other countries.

But there are so many insurmountable problems that I doubt Pope Francis will be successful in moving forward with this kind of legislation for State sponsored Catholic excommunication, this delegation of investigation, prosecution, conviction and sentencing to the State. If he is successful, I can only imagine the immediate wholesale convictions of racketeering followed by death sentences for church leaders in countries that are terribly annoyed with the Catholic Church (and there are many which are just that violent). And what’s the Church to do if all those church leaders are also said to be excommunicated?

Some important personal anecdotes:

(1) For quite a long time I lived in the same house as the head legal liaison between the Italian Department of Defense (Ministero della difesa) and the Holy See. He approached me with the request that I agree that he might arrange an assignment for me as pastor in a parish in Southern Italy so that he might better deal with the Mafia in that region, my anti-Mafia activities apparently being known to some. I knew exactly where he was going in the conversation and got him to admit easily enough that his purpose was to go ahead and put listening devices in my confessional box so that they might have evidence to convict whatever mafia went to confession. The Mafia do go to confession, but not with the purpose of being forgiven, but so as to shut the priest up, for the priest would then feel obliged by the seal of confession even if he otherwise heard the information outside of confession as well. This liaison was quite blunt about this, quite open, even telling me the procedures they use to set this already well established policy into practice. This happens all the time. In these USA the FBI has done this numerous times in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. I asked him what would happen if I actually did my bit as a priest and did not give the mafia guy absolution, but told him to get his wife and kids and skip the country taking nothing with him so as to get out of the mafia altogether and then get absolution elsewhere. The response was that I would, of course, be shot right through the confessional screen. Of course. I declined. He was upset as he had revealed much about the level of respect Italy has for the Church (and me): none whatsoever.

(2) A good “friend”, one of the very top anti-Mafia investigators in Italy for DIA (Direzione Investigativa Antimafia) wanted me to spy for him on who else but the Cardinals who are resident in Rome. He was offering me all sorts of favors toward this end, even putting local law enforcement at my beck and call, regardless of how long I might take them away from their duties. The thing is, I did know very well and have been in the houses and various main offices and back offices and off to the side offices of many of the Cardinals. I declined. He was upset as he had revealed much about the level of respect Italy has for the Church (and me): None whatsoever.

(3) A bishop in southern Italy, a close friend with no fear in publicly and continuously denouncing the mafia in his diocese, was threatened with death numerous times to no effect. Finally the mafia, in this case the ‘Ndrangheta, got a hold of the Pontifical Family to pass along the message that if the bishop was not moved by the next morning he would certainly be found dead. He was moved to another diocese that very night. In other words, the church revealed that it will not back up the pastoral initiatives of those who stand up against the mafia, but will just do the expedient thing, showing what respect there is for actual courage: none whatsoever.

(4) A mafia priest, a pastor in a large parish in the western region of Rome, has constant contacts with the Pontifical Family, making personal visits. He’s got many of the big political mafia bosses in his parish. They are taken care of very well by the parish, favored members of the parish. What does that say? (I did try to do something about this at one time. Response? None whatsoever that I know about.)

(5) My own case worker (let’s call him J.J. for short) in the U.S. Department of State surely has everything to do with this legal conference of Pope Francis and is likely the instigator and provider of legal language for much of it. He has everything to do with the law, with the United Nations, with the Hague, with this kind of legal maneuvering by teams for or against individuals on an international level in such manner that international relations between countries are affected. I smell a rat in all this. There is a difference between the Holy See and the Vatican, a difference which, if not protected, will bring damage to Vatican City State fairly quickly. This conflation of prosecution of the Mafia by Church and State could well be a precedent. This effort has been going on for many years in many ways also by way of powerful ecclesiastical figures who bow down to those at the United Nations and other diplomatic / legal organs… Maybe the legalese will provide a way out of this conflation. Maybe not. We will see. What are the tangible benefits? None whatsoever that I can figure out. Everything can go wrong; nothing and no one is better off with this sort of action. Quite literally this would set up the Holy See / Vatican City State for extortion by the U.S. State Department, forcing what the DoS would call “policy” decisions, or assignments of bishops, or whatever. Not a good position to be in.

(6) A little test of all this before any promulgation of any decree by Pope Francis might well be in order. What I have in mind is to […].

(7)  I should mention the Archdiocese of Malta, where C.S. resides, and also the little town of Salem, New Hampshire, USA, where E.A., “thick as thieves” with C.S., is continuing to serve out his prison sentence…

Et cetera

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Filed under Holy See, Mafia, Missionaries of Mercy, Pope Francis

Excommunicating the Mafia – part 2 – Missionaries of Mercy to absolve?

You have heard that it was said that Pope Francis is intent on excommunicating the mafia, you know, more officially than did Pope John Paul II back in 1982. You can see how scared Marini was in back of him, surely thinking they were going to get shot on the spot. As it is, the mafia was killing priests, threatening the Cardinal of Palermo, executing judges, and doing all their horrible protection rackets, prostitution, drugs. At the time, at least in the Archdiocese of New York, it was forbidden to provide the sacraments or funerals to the mafia. Now, I don’t know. Perhaps it wasn’t “officially” done by JPII and Francis wants to make it more “official.” There are plenty of mafia priests around, especially in Italy, but elsewhere as well, certainly in these USA.

Maybe Pope Francis will make the excommunication something only the Holy See or Missionaries of Mercy can take away. We will see. I have some stories to tell along those lines which involve the Italian Military and the Holy See, with me right in the middle of the whole thing. Perhaps this is what inspired the brain-stormers, you know: “Let the Missionaries of Mercy be put on the spot.” Fine. Whatever.

It is imperative that a bit of thought goes into advice for those absolving such things. I would not recommend that any priest be allowed to do this. I recommend that the possibilities for absolution are made known at the same time as the excommunication, which is supposed to be medicinal, right?

Unless things have radically changed in Rome over the past number of years in regard to the mafia, I would guess that no one has a clue what the political maneuvering is really like. I will try to write more on this, also to Archbishop Fisichella (my boss in this matter) and Pope Francis.

Perhaps it might be thought that my little parish is out of the way and inconsequential in this matter, but, in fact, it is because it is perhaps the most remote place in these USA that the mafia is to be found in abundance, along with, unknown to each other, those in witness protection.

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Filed under Confession, John Paul II, Mafia, Missionaries of Mercy, Pope Francis

Jesus & triple-taps on a priest’s day off

sunset-

The magnificent sunset nearing home after a super happy day-off yesterday. About 95% of the day was spent with the sick and shut-ins in the twilight of their lives, many of them living in far-flung places, with Sassy the Subaru putting on hundreds of miles. I love a “day-off” like this, sooooooo happy to be a priest.

There are plenty of people, however, who have a bitter reaction to priests getting a “day-off”. They may wish to read Mark 6:31-32:

“[Jesus] said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.'” People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.”

That’s called a “day-off”. Jesus recommends it. Having said that, we move on to the next verse (Mark 6:33), because text without context is pretext. So, let’s see what a “day-off” is actually like:

“People saw them leaving and many came to know about it. They hastened there on foot from all the towns and arrived at the place before them.”

Yep. That’s what happens. I love it. Jesus is so very good and kind. He directs all through his beloved flock, who say things like: “Did you hear that so and so is terribly sick today as well?” This is when the “breaking of the bread” means that the Eucharistic Host is broken to be smaller and smaller. They love that Jesus would come to them riding along with a donkey-priest. As Saint Augustine said: “Asinus es, sed Christum portas.” (You are a donkey, but you carry Christ.)

But then I had a few minutes to spare at the hermitage, so, sorry, but, of course, I just had to relax a little as well. A donkey has to be a donkey once in a while. Triple taps drawing from the holster, trying to draw, point and shoot all three within three seconds. I don’t have a timer, so I assume I’m slow, perhaps 2 1/2 seconds. That’s an eternity in combat. Any suggestions for a timer? Here’s a magazine’s worth, which means five draws with three shots each:

target 3 taps-

And another magazine with five more draws of three each:

target 3 taps

Real shooters would just laugh at that, but, hey, you gotta start somewhere, right? And I’ll be the first to admit: this was fairly close range But for me it’s pretty good. It seems that the less aim is taken in favor of muscle-memory pointing, as it is said, the greater the accuracy and certainly the less anticipatory over-compensation for any muzzle-flip. Still, if there’s any risk of a bystander being hit, I’m thinking I would like to combine the point with the aim a little bit. Again, real shooters would just laugh at that, but, hey, you gotta start somewhere, right? The best shot in the world humbly says that his ultra-perfect aim is nothing special, as anyone would be as good as him if they also threw out a million rounds. Um… I haven’t done that…

Anyway, I just have fun doing this. And it’s not like I wasn’t also answering the phone pretty much constantly. Three shots out, another call. Three shots out, another call. But it’s all good. Shepherds love to hear the bleating of the sheep. As it is, I also bleat quite a bit, and The Shepherd always hears my voice, and, at least sometimes, I hear His.

Oh, and, by the way, don’t think that guns and shooting wasn’t part of the conversation with all the sick and shut-ins that I visited with Jesus. You have to know that Western North Carolina is armed to the teeth. People can move seamlessly from talk of armed combat to the arms of spiritual combat without blinking. I am humbled to walk frequently among the saints of God.

By the way, I make my own targets with poster-board and 3/4 inch sticky dots, mapping out the dots at 4″ intervals so that there are 35 dots per poster-board. Once one board is mapped out, another can be marked on the edges using the same measurements. Easy. Only takes about two minutes for the whole thing. It’s a lot of shooting for one target. The problem is that the targets are not moving, and there is no mayhem. But I have a solution…

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Filed under Guns, Missionaries of Mercy, Priesthood, Vocations

Extreme Sport Jesus, Extreme Sport Priests, the Father’s Heart

IMG_20170529_100723

Prominent at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Hanceville, Alabama, is the Child Jesus holding His heart out to those entering into the temple. Being small in stature as a Child, He doesn’t want to be unseen among all that is “seen and unseen,” and so it seems that He’s jumped up on a high pillar, eager to let us know of His love for us. That’s Extreme Sport Jesus.

THE BARN

However, when His priests, eager to be like Jesus in all things, go on retreat at “The Barn” just a stone’s throw away (if one has a good throwing arm), they are gently reminded by those with a more highly developed sense of decorum than any merely human priest is likely to have, that not all manner of extreme sports is always acceptable in every place at every time. Thus, take a close look at the welcome sign that is personalized for those are arriving.

welcome sign

Notice the invitation to the priests to get to their rooms by way of the stairs or the elevator. All the rooms are on the second floor of the building. This invitation is apparently necessary because otherwise the priests would be leaping up to and crashing through the windows of their rooms in the same way the Child Jesus leaped up on the pillar as pictured above. Ha ha ha.

The thing is, Jesus was known at other times to be lifted up high, whether to the pinnacle of the Temple by Satan or to the heights of the cross because of our sins. We ourselves witness the latter when we attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Last Supper united with Calvary by the twofold wedding vows of Jesus with His Bride, the Church: This is my body given for you in sacrifice, my blood poured out for you in sacrifice…

The thing is, Jesus’ priests daily act in Persona Christi (in the very Person of Christ) in reciting those vows, those consecrations, in the first person singular: my body… my blood… And thus they at least should themselves be temples of the Holy Spirit, their bodies living sacrifices, they crucified to the world, to themselves, living only for the Lord, the Most High.

That purity of soul, that agility of spirit has nothing whatsoever to do with them, but is entirely the work of the goodness and kindness of Jesus. They are not holy of themselves, but Jesus is. They of themselves are not good and kind, but Jesus is. And yet, both Jesus and His priests are of necessity with such cooperation and teamwork, expert in such extreme sport if you will, of leaping up to the very heights where all are drawn to Jesus (see John 12:32).

But more than this, Jesus shows His extreme sport enthusiasm right to the end, when, at the end of His earthly sojourn He ascends to the heavens. Instead of being so tempted to be separated from Jesus by watching His goodness and kindness and truth in action even quite apart from ourselves before His ascension into heaven, we are now bidden because of His ascension to live ourselves His goodness and kindness and truth, being built in this way into the many dwelling places of the Most High, creation itself being set on fire with the fiery love of the Holy Spirit by way of our being formed now more and more into the very image of Jesus, He the Head, we the members of the body, the Father loving us as He loves Jesus, the same act of love of the Father, simultaneous. The Father’s love for Jesus is the Father’s love for us, no before or after, the same love. How much the Father loves us: the Heart that the Child Jesus holds out to us is the very Heart of the Father.

P.S. I finally got back to the parish in Western North Carolina. I will miss The Barn and those who carry out their apostolate there.

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Follow-up on Father Gordon J MacRae’s health: great news.

GORDON MACRAE

Last week the post Fr MacRae’s request of Padre Pio: help! was published here and on Father Gordon J MacRae’s Facebook Page. That got 915 shares as of this writing, with quite a good number those people being pray-ers. This was a request for Padre Pio’s help. There is news. This morning during our usual hour-long telephone conversation, I asked Father Gordon if there was any news on the health front. Here are some notes of what he said:

  • My neck is substantially better.
  • I can use my right shoulder.
  • The pain is gone entirely. I can move my head more than I have been able to in the last number of years.
  • And the lump has receded enormously.
  • And we have not yet been moved.
  • Padre Pio came through. I thanked him last night for coming through.
  • Thank everyone for all the prayers. Their prayers are very efficacious.

So, there you have it. Now, I have another few requests:

  • Thank Padre Pio for coming through.
  • Continue to ask Padre Pio about the resolution of Father Gordon’s situation.
  • And please, please, say a wee prayer for each other, as I’m afraid that quite a number of you did up some extraordinary prayers and sacrifices for Father Gordon and need a bit of support from each other as well. Hail Mary…

Thank you all for showing Jesus’ goodness and kindness to Father Gordon.

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

Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (little kid style in prayer edition)

shepherd boy

As it should be for all of us.

But it’s not.

Oooo! I’m not worthy! I’m too… you know… or not enough… you know… whatever!

So let’s take a more emotional example. How about being about to die?

rescue by helicopter

Now you might object in saying that the two scenes are different, so that the little boy, without baggage of self condemnation was able to run up and make his little offering out of love, but that the person being rescued, with however much baggage of apologies for not being a good swimmer or whatever other non sequitur nevertheless just gets over it and allows the rescue to happen, you know, because it’s forced.

And then you might object further in saying that while not being forced in prayer by such a dramatic rescue in progress, we who do have baggage of self condemnation and so don’t allow ourselves to run up to our Lord with flowers for the Immaculate Conception, and that there is no way out of this.

And you know, of course, that the lack of motivation comes from a lack of humility, a kind of self blinding, in which we don’t allow ourselves to see that the urgency of being humble and the urgency of running up to our Lord with a flower for the Immaculate Conception is just that urgent as a life or death rescue, and that our Lord is rescuing us by having us run up to Him with a flower for the Immaculate Conception with the simplicity and hope and love and eagerness and awe and wonder of that little guardian of the flock.

Note that in both cases there is eagerness on the face of Jesus and the first responder. And that eagerness is still there even if and especially if we are in full recognition of our unworthiness and nevertheless just get over ourselves and allow ourselves to be rescued whether in the turbulence of a storm or in the simplicity of a lazy Summer day.

Think about it. The two scenes are exactly identical. There is the same eager thanksgiving on the part of the little boy and the person being rescued. Right?

The question is, how does one get that humility since we can’t give ourselves what we don’t have: Nemo dat quod non habet. Fine. We can ask for this by grace. We make a little offering of ourselves, our gift being allowing ourselves by grace to be rescued by grace.

Some are shy of saying, “I love you” to Jesus and Mary, thinking that their baggage, their weakness, their temptation, their chaos, their distraction, their ineptness, their dullness, their… whatever… makes this assertion no more than rank hypocrisy. Some push through anyway, knowing by grace that Jesus and Mary love to hear us say “I love you,” knowing that we are being saved and so it’s not hypocrisy but is really O.K., even good, even very good.

Personally, I’m still a little bit shy of saying such a thing as “I love you” without asserting a preface: “Thanks for saving me, rescuing me; I love you.” Same difference but it’s just a lot easier for me, and helps me to notice the wounds on Jesus, and helps me not to emphasize myself, pointing out that my love is His love given to me, His love which rescues me.

“Here’s a flower for the Immaculate Conception; thanks for rescuing me, Jesus; I love you both.”

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Filed under Flores, Missionaries of Mercy, Spiritual life

Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Requesting Martyrdom edition)

flores papist

Jesus said to his disciples:
“This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another.”

That’s today’s Gospel. Jesus is commanding us to ask for the grace of martyrdom, laying down one’s life for one’s friends, the greatest love, how He loved us. That’s the logic of that passage. Inescapable. Totally. This is what we are to ask of our Heavenly Father. I’m guessing that that request would make our dear Mother Mary most happy.

The flowers I put up for this post are in front of the statue of the Immaculate Conception at the rectory. They are yellow and white, the colors of the Holy See, a tad bit Papist of me. Yes. This really makes people angry. It makes Islamists upset. It makes ultra-traditional-ism-ists upset. It makes the filthy liberals upset.

It is most Catholic to support not only the idea of the office of Peter (which support, cut off from Peter himself as so many do, is a heresy for the reason that the Church is founded on Peter and not on a mere idea of an office), but it is also most Catholic to support Peter himself, his very person, which filthy liberals, ultra-traditional-ism-ists, Islamists, etc., are loathe to do. I take a lot of heat for supporting the very person of Pope Francis. And that’s just fine with me.

Just because one is supporting Peter himself doesn’t mean that one is supporting everything that Peter says. That would be absurd. Peter himself wouldn’t stand for it. I couldn’t care less if Peter bets on a certain horse for the Kentucky Derby. I’ll bet on my own horse, or actually not bet at all. But I will pay attention when the Bishop of Rome, the successor of Peter, the Vicar of Christ speaks not just for himself but as the head of the Catholic Church, and not just to some group or another or as part of some dialogue (such as is the case with Amoris laetitia), but when he is speaking to the universal Church, to everyone, and as a teacher, not a mere participant in ongoing dialogue, and also, conjoined to this, when he speaks on a matter of faith or morals as found in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition (or in the natural law for that matter), especially when this is deciding a controverted point.

But not only. I will also pray and stand in solidarity with Peter to the point where I feel that it is true that he who insults Peter insults me. Indeed, he who insults Peter insults Jesus who established Peter as the Rock upon which the Church is built. He who insults Jesus insults me. Why? Because Jesus did the same for the likes of horrible, sinful me. Thank you, Jesus.

But Father George! You don’t understand! Pope Francis blah blah blah blah blah. Yes, I’m aware of that and about a million other things you haven’t even thought about. I know. And so I ask: “So? Does that mean I shouldn’t pray for him? That I shouldn’t be a good son of the Church? Does it mean I can’t do my best to be the best priest I can be, teaching the best I can, praying the best I can, encouraging the best I can? I stand with Peter. I’m Catholic. I’m a priest.

 

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Filed under Amoris laetitia, Flores, Holy See, Missionaries of Mercy, Pope Francis, Priesthood, Vocations

Many sacraments at once: doing it right in the age of Amoris laetitia

wedding

John was already baptized, so we brought him through the ceremony to bring him officially into the Church prepared by Reconciliation. He was then Confirmed, was Wedded, and received his first Holy Communion. I couldn’t but snap the picture above at the reception as it speaks of the colors of the flag of the Holy See. We went through the process with the Tribunal of the diocese of Charlotte and, in fact, a previous “marriage” of his bride-to-be was declared null from the beginning, leaving them free to marry. In preparing John for the big day there was no hiding truth or making excuses for the cross. Instead, the boast is in Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Both Bride and Groom cried about through the whole day, for joy. It was one of the best days of my own priesthood, very much feeling to be the father of the parish family.

If I might say this: To date, on the one hand, I have not met anyone who is interested in doing things the way our Lord commanded to also be interested in Amoris laetitia‘s ambiguity and rejection of the cross and of conversion. If one loves our Lord, one wants to keep His commandments. Period. It’s a matter of love, and love makes it possible.

On the other hand, I get the impression from anyone who is interested in rejecting the commandments that Amoris laetitia has only made them terribly bitter with the Church. What they really wanted was a steadfast hand up but let themselves be thrown down at the first opportunity by which it seemed they could sin and please God at the same time, finding out that that just isn’t the case; they feel terribly betrayed by those who should have helped them and instead gave them Amoris laetitia, and thus they let those dark emotions entrench them all the more into being alienated to the peripheries which they were mistakenly led to believe was ‘accompaniment.’

People are thirsting for the truth, that is, the Living Truth, Jesus, divine Son of the Immaculate Conception who loves us so very much.

Also, just to say, we’re getting ready to set a time when John will be able to give me some pointers about how to shoot my Glock the right way. :-)

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Filed under Amoris laetitia, Marriage, Missionaries of Mercy

Fr MacRae’s request of Padre Pio: help!

Father Gordon J MacRae is not one to ask for prayers for himself, ever. But now, it’s different. He’s asking, with reason. For two reasons, actually. Continue reading

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Filed under Missionaries of Mercy, Priesthood, Prison, Vocations

Unslaughtering Slaughter slaughtering

blood on the porch

So, the other week I mentioned (though not by name) that Jackie Slaughter, 54, who is from across the mountain in Robbinsville, and who has, relatively recently, quite an (alleged) extensive and frightening history of murderous violence beginning five years ago, was down here in Andrews just across the way. He had walked in at a friend’s dwelling around midnight with all normality, but then started to get more and more agitated, like something came over him, like something was changing his demeanor. Could it be drugs that he had taken before he got there? Jackie then pretty much cut through the entire side of the neck of his friend Cody, as if to decapitate him. Cody was airlifted to Erlanger, and is O.K., quite miraculously, after multiple surgeries over multiple days. Jackie had left him for dead, bleeding out from a completely severed jugular vein, the deep cut also severing nerves, ran from the corner of his mouth to back of his spine. Slaughter’s alleged ongoing slaughter is allegedly continuing.

jackie slaughter

I’m only guessing, but it was just before all that happened that Jackie might well have been the one behind what seemed at the time to be an attempted home invasion of the rectory, which was itself just too weird. From the agonized sounds (like a possessed man), and from the location of the anguished moans, it seemed that he was trying, but failing, to lift up the cement statue of Mary on the front steps so as, in my imagination anyway, to throw it through the picture window. I tried to lift up the statue while writing this post, and it is difficult, but not impossible. He’s a big guy one would think that normally he could do this. It comes to mind that the statue is blessed and that’s why he couldn’t do it. The timeline on this would be that he had come to the rectory first, failed to do what he wanted to do, took off back home in the direction of Tatham Gap Road with which he is extremely familiar during the alleged commission of crimes, but was then stopped by law enforcement and cited for driving with a suspended licence. Now on foot, he made his way to his friends house just off the way to Tatham Gap Road. I can only imagine that his person was searched and that his car was no longer available to him. So, it seems that it wasn’t drugs that were affecting him at his friend’s house. And, if it was also him who was at the rectory acting like a man possessed, it wouldn’t have been drugs either, as they immediately wore off during the traffic stop and still weren’t affecting him while at the beginning of the visit with his friends.

If this was Slaughter also at the rectory, and that seems likely, actually, then I have to wonder if he is, in fact, possessed, Slaughter slaughtering others because he himself is being slaughtered by Satan. In saying that, I don’t mean to demonize him. No, no. In saying that, I’m attempting to UNdemonize him, so that any demon is a demon and he is who he is. I know that “the devil made me do it” thing is just a bit too easy, but I would love to have a chat with him to see what’s going down with him and maybe help him, unslaughtering Slaughter slaughtering, if a fallen angel is in fact bothering him. Of course, I realize that even if he is guilty of all the murder and kidnapping charges that have been leveled against him, that this need not have anything to do with the Evil One, as we can be so very evil all on our own. After all, by original sin and our own sin we have all crucified the Son of the Living God. Jesus didn’t die to redeem Satan. That was for us. None of us is, on our own, better than anyone else. We pray for each other.

Having said that, it also needs to be said that people are so fed up with him what with all the alleged incidents that in one way or the other seem to be associated with him that the editor of one of the papers quoted a local saying here in far Western North Carolina that “Some people just need killin’.” And that makes me wonder if he’ll get a fair trial in these parts. That’s a really very common saying. I can’t count the times I’ve heard it said. And it seems to have been used plenty of times for him. Now, just to say, the editor followed that citation immediately with a hope that in this case people will be a bit more charitable than to be vigilantes. I mentioned that charitable bit to someone, who instead just repeated that some people need killin’, and that if it was Slaughter who came to the rectory the other night just before that almost-decapitation, I would have done society a favor by killing him and that I was at fault for not doing this.

No. Jackie slaughter gets to have due process. It is due process that helps society. Innocent until proven guilty helps society. Otherwise things descend into mob reaction. We have way too much of that in some cities around these USA. And what happens then, ironically, is that law enforcement officers are assassinated. It’s lockstep. And anyway, I didn’t hear about the almost-decapitation until the next day. And I didn’t see who it was. And I don’t have a police scanner or use the police crime-mapping app. And I’m going to do everything I can in any incident to flee if possible, or deescalate if possible, and if I have to confront someone for my own defense or the defense of the innocent, I’m going to be thinking of the absolute minimum possible to stop the threat. Period. In this case, I just flicked on an outside floodlight.

Anyway, unless Jackie gets out on yet another incredible technicality (basically fictitious in the opinion of some law enforcement, with the D.A. blurting out that in the past he’s gotten away with first degree murder)… if he doesn’t get out on a technicality, he’ll be in prison for the next seven years, as they only charged him with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury with intent to kill, apparently a much less serious charge than attempted murder, which would carry a twenty year sentence. One way or the other, he most likely won’t be making his $50,000 bail, as a relative of his (who doesn’t like him) is the only bonded bondsman in the county. I’m worried for his fellow prisoners and for his jailers.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Herald of glad tidings edition)

flowers florabunda guadalupe

What was once just a pile of sticks has now just put out its first blossom in honor of the Immaculate Conception. This is the florabunda rose and named after Our Lady of Guadalupe. I have another indoor/outdoor statue now in the chapel that I’ll put outside near this rose bush. I’ll have to make a setting for that. Something simple to start. The buds are really very numerous. The rose is a herald of glad tidings. It’s an occasion to become a tiny little child of Mary Immaculate.

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Father Gordon: comedian. Just a little humor to lighten things up

Father Gordon: “Hey Father George, you’re the best priest I know in North Carolina.”

Father George: “Um… I’m the only priest you know in North Carolina.”

Father Gordon and Father George together: “Ha ha ha ha ha.”

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (dew drop edition)

flores rose dew

Bursting buds in cool early morning dew. Just some time ago these were sticks put into the ground looking very dead. But now, such life! The rose has no memory of hard times. We can have great memories for hard times even when all is going really well. Why do that? Our Lord went through hard times so that we could get on to heaven where the grace here turns then into glory. Looking forward is O.K. Do you know someone who’s a bit hopeless? A kind word here or there is so very, very refreshing, bringing life. Our Lady plants us when we’re but sticks and she intercedes and brings us to life.

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Saint George the Dragon Slayer

saint george stained glass window

Outside of my great friend (who I am utterly unworthy to have as a friend), Saint Philomena – the veracity of whose existence as a virgin and martyr of the early Church has recently been sustained by exhaustive scientific evaluations of the evidence – outside of her… there is perhaps no saint more scorned as being no more than a figment of pious imagination than Saint George, who, however, boasts of more archaeological and historical evidence than most any other saint in the history not only of the early Church, but for some lesser known saints, right into our own day. Churches dedicated to Saint George sprang up in their dozens throughout the ancient world immediately after news of his martyrdom on 23 April 303.

Liberal warning: The most obnoxious denial of the existence of Saint George that I’ve come across comes from a super liberal professor of “ecumenism” (which I put in quotes because he had no idea what true ecumenism is). Many of my fellow priests today have had Father XXX as a professor in the various countries, seminaries and universities where he’s mislead people. He had the idea that Saint George couldn’t possibly have existed because of the iconography of him slaying a dragon. His arrogant idea was that we’re very smart today, and people of the past were so very gullible and stupid. He laughed his nervous, cowardly, mocking laugh when I tried to explain a few things about the iconography:

  • Those in the first centuries, who were suffering under the severe persecutions of the dragon of the Apocalypse, namely, the possessed-by-Satan pre-Constantinian Roman Empire, understood the dragon to be the Roman Empire. Even so, such depictions only came later, but for this very reason.
  • The white horse, similarly, is the white horse of the Apocalypse 6:2, whose rider goes out conquering and to further his conquering.
  • In the early fourth century, after George was martyred, it is interesting to note that all martyrs in the Montefiascone/Bolsano region of Tuscany, whether male or female, with no regard to how they met their deaths, were all depicted as riding on the white horse of the Apocalypse.
  • The woman who is to be saved in the background of some Renaissance paintings is, similarly, Holy Mother Church, who is represented by her saints.
  • The point of all this wonderful triumphalism in the iconography is not that Saint George or the other martyrs successfully fought their way out of being martyred, that they slew the dragon by, for instance, assassinating the Emperor of the time, but rather that they conquered the demonically controlled world by witnessing to Christ Jesus’ goodness and kindness right unto their deaths, so hated is goodness and kindness by the demonically controlled world. Saint George and the other martyrs slew the dragon by being slain themselves.
  • By the way, the dragon, the ancient serpent, the devil and Satan, of Genesis 2,4-3:24, is, in the ancient usage of the word, an Oracle from God on behalf of man, a spirit, an angel, now a fallen angel. There are no talking snakes in Genesis.

None of this – or the archaeological proofs – made any impression on this super-liberal priest, for the last thing he wanted to hear was faithfulness to the Church unto death. That’s not what his own life was about. Since he couldn’t answer in any reasonable way, he merely laughed his nervous, cowardly, mocking laugh once again. I had to live with that kind of nonsense for… well… pretty much my whole priesthood. Yikes! This kind of thing can occasion an increase in friendship, in view of such a cross, with Christ Jesus and the Saints.

saint george iconThis icon was given to me by Cardinal […]. It’s from the Mount Zion crowd just outside the wall of the Old City of Jerusalem. There is great devotion to Saint George in Palestine until today, with about every third boy being called after Saint George.

George’s father, Gerontius, was well known to the Emperor Diocletian as one of his very best soldiers. When Gerontius’ son George applied to Diocletian to be in the military service of the Emperor, Diocletian quickly made him part of the Imperial Guard and gave him the rank of Tribune. These positions taken together made young George, perhaps in his early twenties, almost as powerful as the Emperor himself. Very few people would have ever had such power, both military and political, and at such a young age. George was an instant phenomenon. Everyone would have known exactly who he was in the entire ancient world.

saint george martyrdomDiocletian was persuaded by the might-makes-right Galerius to have all his soldiers offer sacrifice to the Roman gods. George, with the zeal of the saints, loudly and with great reason proclaimed his worship of Christ Jesus, so that he couldn’t possibly offer sacrifice to any Roman gods. Diocletian, distraught – for he had never intended this – offered George all sorts of bribes, all of which were scorned by our Saint. Diocletian then set out to make an example of him, first attaching him to a wheel of swords and then having him decapitated.

Saint George and Saint Michael the Archangel sometimes meld into one presentation with wings being granted to Saint George on his white horse. That’s O.K. I’m sure they were great friends!

By the way, George is the Name of God the Father: ὁ πατήρ μου ὁ γεωργός ἐστιν (John 15:1). “My Father is George.” O.K., so, a pedantic translation would be “My Father is the Farmer” or “My Father is the Tiller of the Ground.” Some translations have “Vinedresser.” Truth be told, it’s γεωργός, that is, George!

Just to be insistent about this: “Adam” means “Tiller of the Ground.” “Adam” = “George.” Jesus is the New Adam. Jesus is the New George. Yours truly is merely the old George, the old Adam. But Christ has conquered and goes out to conquer still. Thanks be to God our Father that Jesus sets about slaying me so that, dead to myself, I live for Him alone. Yikes!

keep calm and slay dragons

By the way, my parish, which takes in the most outrageously beautiful mountains of the Great Smoky Mountains, boasts, of course, of “The Dragon’s Tail”, which is an extremely dangerous curvy road that every motorcycle enthusiast in North America loves to ride. They all come here! There are hotels just for two-wheelers throughout the area. There are all sort of motorcycle fix-it shops. I invite all cyclers to to make a weekend of this, slaying the dragon by the tail, and stopping in for Mass at 8:30 Sunday morning at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Robbinsville, NC, or 11:00 Mass Sunday morning at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Andrews, N.C. If you’re not afraid of heights or gravel roads, come to Andrews from Robbinsville over Tatham Gap Road. If you’ve never once said “Yikes!” in your life, you will when ride this one. Yikes! I say that in solidarity, as most all my broken bones in life (really very many) have come from riding on two wheels with a motor. Again: Yikes!

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Pedagogy about gender and toilets in Christian Western North Carolina

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This is great Judeo-Christian pedagogy about Genesis: “Male and female He created them.” The men’s restroom at the Methodist Church here in Andrews is labeled “MEN” and “ADAM” even while the women’s restroom is labeled “WOMEN” and “EVE”. You can’t argue with that, can you? I took this picture from my crowded table at the reception after the Noon Good Friday ecumenical service at which I was the preacher. Our Catholic schools could learn from this, making sure everyone understands that while this is a biological and religious issue, not simply a topic to be forced on others by way of specious social engineering.

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Orthodox Easter: Guns and Emmaus (scaring myself)

IMG_20170417_055953

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Fr Byers still under Pontifical interdict insisting FAITHBYTHESWORD is good

INTERDICT

I have begged through the years to be have relief from this interdict, at least from the sharpness of its cynicism and sarcasm, from the way it throws Mud-Bowls [a hint for interpretation], for it was known from the beginning that there is no possibility of circumstances under which I could possibly submit to ecclesial authority in this matter, that is, to wit, even though I no longer reside in said territory, for I continue to this day to be forbidden to even pass through, or say “Hey!” There is no mercy for this Missionary of Mercy, it being having mercy on those banished to the peripheries at said institution which has brought about my own being cast into the same existential, anguished darkness. The holy angels, I reckon, were never happy with such a result prepared by the highest tribunals in the Holy See (note the exaggerated ecclesiastical Latin of penal decrees ossified by centuries of rote application to like offenders against expected loyalties). I predict that said institution, which started to go down the tubes upon the imposition of the burden thrust upon me, will, should they remain intransigent, no longer be viable within three to four years of this writing. Mark my words.

mudbowl faith by the sword elijah

Although the given reason for the interdict seems serious enough, I’m guessing that the T-Shirt art produced in my honor for the event in question is thought to be politically incorrect in any number of ways. I respond that this over-reaction is symptomatic of our day. Instead of that reductionism, I firmly confess that the faith is spread by the sword as it was when Jesus’ Heart was pierced through (truly this was the Son of God), when Mary’s heart was pierced by sorrow (when our thoughts are laid bare), and this ever since the ferocious cherubim back in Genesis 3:24 brandished their fiery sword (for our conversion), since Elijah used his sword (for the edification of believers and the pedagogical punishment of non-believers), since Saint Michael used his (to show forth God’s glory), since our Lord told Peter not to use the sword in that most dire of circumstances (so that He Himself could have a sword plunged into His Heart).

I recommend that all seminarians get to know faith by the sword.

BTW: The interdict was actually written by the highest tribunals in Rome. How good and pleasant it is when brothers live in unity… Perhaps, as a punishment for my continued contentiousness, I will be sent back to this office in the Pontifical Family (after all, notice the donkey in the painting besides the one sitting at the desk):

Pontifical Family humor

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Questions for + Charles Scicluna

scicluna

Your Grace: Why did the Malta Times take down their article about you? Were they wrong? Did they misrepresent you? Really? Since you invite dialogue, as a Missionary of Mercy I will put some questions before you for the sake of, you know, promoting justice, for the good of the Church, pro bono ecclesiae. So…

  • Your Grace: You say that the teaching of the Church — let’s just call it by the name of the encyclical Humanae vitae — is only for married couples which you say can be constituted only of one man and one woman, but that you don’t judge other couples, though you insist that extramarital sex is sinful but at the same time insist that adulterous couples can receive Holy Communion if they are at peace with themselves regardless of their flagrant rejection of Jesus’ teaching, of Sacred Scripture, of Sacred Tradition, of the constant interventions of the Magisterium of the Church: does this mean that you are making a sacrament of sinful behavior?
  • Your Grace: Lest anyone think that is a sarcastic question, let’s provide an analogous question regarding your longstanding promotion of the civil celebrations of homosexual love in civilly recognized homosexual unions, as long as there is no sexy hanky panky going on, though all love including homosexual love, you say, is given by God and is good and holy: are you saying with your recent statements about peaceful consciences for adulterous couples that homosexual acts are also a kind of sacrament, objectively sinful as they may be, as long as the homosexuals involved are at peace with themselves regardless of their flagrant rejection of Saint Paul’s teaching, of Sacred Scripture, of Sacred Tradition, of the constant interventions of the Magisterium of the Church?
  • Your Grace: You seem to be throwing a tantrum that the Malta Times got it wrong, but would you say that — you know, in being honest here — that they had a good instinct about your utter hypocrisy regarding sexual morality, so that anything whatsoever is just fine, including contraception also in marriage as long as those involved are at peace with their consciences?
  • Your Grace: Do you put condom dispensers in your Catholic parochial school bathrooms for those who judge their consciences to be at peace? Or do you put those dispensers out, say, in the lunchroom along with free copies of the Qur’an which you let be taught in your parochial schools?
  • Your Grace: Jesus warned those who teach people to break the commandments, so are you going to spit on Jesus while you continue to teach people to break the commandments?
  • Your Grace: You slit the throats of those seminarians who wish to follow the teaching of Jesus and Paul, that is, those seminarians who do not reject Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition and the constant interventions of the Magisterium of the Church: so do you think that Jesus, who is calling them to His priesthood, is happy with your violence against them?
  • Your Grace: Your close friend (Monsignor) Edward Arsenault, at the epicenter in so many ways of the abuse crisis, just got out of prison and is in home confinement, where he just received the news that he has been dismissed from the clerical state (laicized): is what you are doing with your not so ambiguous and inconsistent but really very clear statements related somehow to demands of his, you know, because he could spill the beans about how things have actually gone in these USA, over in Europe, and at the Holy See?

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Donkeys on the day after Palm Sunday

donkey blessed sacrament

Have we forgotten donkeys? Perhaps. But, we can count on Gilbert Kieth…

palestinian donkeyTHE DONKEY by G. K. CHESTERTON

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

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

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

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

How soon we forget the glorious donkey, always in the midst of the Holy Family, whether in going from Nazareth to Bethlehem, to Egypt, all the way back to Nazareth, or bringing Jesus into Jerusalem. But the donkey in the poem reminds us lest we forget.

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MRSA Hepatitis Plague: it’s what we do.

[[ I would put a picture of one elderly person I anointed last night, but its all too horrific. ]]

Yesterday Sassy the Subaru had hundreds of more miles put on her going to far flung places for Communion calls and anointing. People I go to see in the mountains of WNC are often on their way out or are terribly sick. I am reminded of carrying around a plague victim in Calcutta (yes, plague).

Jesus watches all of this. A front row seat. He came with me in the Blessed Sacrament. He watched as I laid hands on the head of an elderly lady with a huge MRSA boil on her head (getting close to her eye), and then anointed her. Not the first time I did this for her. I’m thinking that Jesus is just fine with all that. This kind of thing makes you respect doctors and nurses who are continuously surrounded by injurious and deadly things.

I have to ask myself if I was the patient if I wouldn’t want a priest to provide sacraments and blessings? Yes, I would. I remember as a seminarian that one of my summers was to be spent in India volunteering for Mother Teresa’s home for the dying. The Rector told me to reconsider going because I might get sick. I told him someone has to do it, whether I meant volunteer or get sick or both I don’t remember. Pretty sure it was both as his comment made me pretty upset. I did call to mind even then that Jesus came among us to die, and on purpose, so, why not do this? I did pick up some awful things in India, and the Rector said upon my return: “I told you so.” At which point I said that I was O.K. with that and wouldn’t change a thing.

Anyway, I had no place to wash my hands last night after finishing with the MRSA patient and had to drive many hours before arriving home, at which point I used a bleach wipe thingy on my hands, but had meanwhile touched about every part of my face in those hours as people do. O well. I’ll have to bring the bleach wipes with me in the car for these frequent enough occasions. If it’s too late it’s too late. MRSA, a bacterial infection, does respond perhaps, maybe, to some very few antibiotics. I guess Hepatitis is, instead, a virus, though it sometimes just goes away on its own. So, whatever. You have to die of something, right? I would be happy to die from such things. It’s not like getting one’s head chopped off like Thomas More or those who are victims of ISIS, but, hey, I’m O.K. with it.

I’m such a martyr, such a drama-queen, right? But here’s the point: actually, I just don’t care about consequences. I’m so happy with doing what I do in carrying Jesus around these backsides of these back-mountains that I don’t care about what may come. I think it’s the most wonderful thing in the world not to care if only one can do what one needs to do in whatever situation until one can no longer do it. There is a certain freedom in this, a “NO FEAR” thing. I wish everyone was this way. Sure, our military and law enforcement and firemen and rescue squads all have “NO FEAR” and just do what they are going to do regardless of the consequences, if only they get a chance to serve. But there are other more numerous unsung heroes and, usually, heroines, not only home-health care nurses, but those relatives at home who care for those with all sorts of problems. I think we will be surprised at the gates of heaven about those who said they had “NO FEAR” but were frozen in fear, and those who said they were fearful or who said they had “NO FEAR” but in any case did what they had to do.

My putting myself among the “we” in the title to this post is, I guess, a bit fraudulent, as I visit here and there, even while others live in these situations day-in, day-out. But it is still a we, in my case, Jesus and myself. And actually, people couldn’t care less about me. They just want Jesus. As it should be. So, just Jesus. Jesus alone. Amen.

P.S. I mean, all I can take credit for is putting wounds on Jesus. Anything good is Him.

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