Category Archives: Priesthood

Update: Extreme Unction / Anointing of the Sick / PoS Priests & gatekeeper MDs

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Seen from out front of the nursing home late Sunday evening, November 24, 2019, after a day of Adoration, Masses, socials, Communion calls, and nursing homes in various towns and beyond. It’s so cool to be able to take Jesus around His beautiful creation to the members of His little flock He loves so much. I am unworthy, just another PoS. But Jesus is so good and kind. I love being a priest for Jesus, with Jesus.

Update: A priest friend on the other side of the Diocese texted me the following. I asked his permission to put it up. He said yes. So here’s his response to my original post below:

“Read your piece about anointing. It sickens me that priests will make excuses about just doing their job. When I get the call, I go. If there’s even the slightest reason to think someone needs anointing, I do it. I throw in the Apostolic Pardon as well if there’s any whiff of danger of death. In my mind, I will be in more trouble at the judgement for the people I didn’t anoint that I should’ve than the people I did anoint that I shouldn’t have.

“I was talking to a (Protestant) hospital chaplain about a training I want to do for the chaplains around here to help them better understand what priests do and what the sacraments are so they can secure better pastoral care, i.e. by communicating with us better. She says on their end the biggest problem is getting priests to show up, which breaks my heart. There is nothing more important when that call comes in, unless I’m in the middle of Mass.”

You have to know, most priests feel this way. I’m also personally upset about this because Jesus has provided that I meet up with priests who are really idiots when it comes to this Sacrament. I myself have a certain malady which can bring death very quickly, or leave you just barely hanging on to life until it passes. It’s hereditary. I got it from mom, who died from it, as to about 1/3 of people who have it, regardless of any would-be emergency room intervention. The priests either refused to give anoint me (sooooo disheartening) or would be cutesy cutesy and make up their own sacramental words, you know, after praying, anointing with words to the effect of “God is nice. Have a nice day.” Then they would run away (just as disheartening).


Original post:

There are excellent, holy, dedicated, good priests, shepherds who wouldn’t hesitate at all to lay down their lives for the sheep in the face of the wolves. I know heaps of those good priests, so very many of them in my diocese. I rejoice. But once in a while one encounters a PoS priest who will do anything not to do the priest thing. My ire is stirred, indignant for the needs of Jesus’ little flock.

Late last night I got a call requesting, later today, a pastoral intervention in another parish that will require from some hundreds of miles of travel. I won’t say what diocese it’s in. It’s about a doctor scheduling an urgent operation for someone who is, as the hours go by, ever more in extremis, at the extremes of this life, death. When a request was made of the parish priest for Anointing of the Sick, the priest said that the policy is that no Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick will be provided to anyone whomsoever who does not trundle off to a doctor to get a note saying that such person is a candidate for the Anointing of the Sick. But that’s what the urgently scheduled operation is all about. So, someone direly sick is to make an arduous mountain journey to the in-town doctor – assuming that such appointments could ever be made – so as to get a note, and then make an appointment with the priest. As if whatever doctor (likely not Catholic and possibly atheist) could make a pastoral decision about a Sacrament of the Catholic Church. And all that could take days, or where I am, weeks, months. Well. Four letter expletives come to mind.

Dear priests, listen up. The doctrine of the Church on this is that if a person has an illness which without intervention could possibly lead a person to death, whenever that might be, such a person is already a candidate for this Sacrament. In other words, don’t hesitate. Provide the Sacrament. Bring Jesus’ little flock encouragement, strengthened in good friendship with Jesus. I mean, y’all do know the spiritual benefits of this Sacrament, don’t you?

If there have been abuses of this Sacrament in the past, so what? Are you holding that against the sheep right in front of you? That doesn’t make sense. So, this isn’t about protecting the Sacrament, is it? No. What is it about? Clericalism of the worst kind? That’s for any priest who has such a malicious and insane policy to answer.

Meanwhile, please God, I’ll be able to take care of member of Jesus’ little flock in some hours. And then I’ll see if that policy in that parish can be changed.

Saint Teresa of Calcutta often said that we don’t need more priests. Not at all. We need good, holy priests who are close to Jesus. That’s what she used to say. I agree. Jesus is calling young men to this end.

But everyone: Go to Confession. Pray for good, holy vocations to the priesthood.


My own personal update: The trip to provide this Sacrament, with Holy Communion, was very successful. The person is now under the knife. Yesterday, when I arrived with Jesus, the person was shedding tears, saying saying that this is proof of just how much Jesus loves us. It is such a joy to be a priest, hanging around Jesus, watching Jesus at work. Truly a great joy and consolation.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Holy Spirit Pentecost Priesthood, ed.)

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These Fiery Holy Spirit Pentecost flowers specifically sent in to honor the Immaculate Conception were “picked” by a “junior” priest in the desert South West of these USA. He and his fellow diocesan priests are presently on retreat always with the intention of ever becoming more apt instruments of the One High Priest, Christ our God, Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception. For these priests just right now on retreat, a prayer please. I know: Hail Mary...

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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…

GEORGE DAVID BYERS - COAT OF ARMS - revision

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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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Happy Birthday! Coastal Karnataka)

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Dear Father, Wish you a Happy Feast of the Nativity [of Mary Immaculate, September 8]. Here (coastal Karnataka) a novena is conducted at all parishes in preparation for the feast. And after the Novena all gather around the statue of Infant Mary and shower flowers on the statue while singing a particular hymn. On this occasion all the family members gather and have a festive lunch together only Vegetarian on banana leaves. Attached are some photos and a video. With prayers, Father D

Thank you, Father D. I was unable to put up a flower for Mary for her birthday yesterday. Thanks for allowing me to rejoice with you.

For you, Mary, from your priest sons.

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Charlotte Eucharistic Congress 2019

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There were no politicized banners this year at the Eucharistic Congress. That kind of thing was halted for good. Instead, there were great speakers, lots of devotion, lots of Adoration, lots of Confessions, heaps of activities for all. Every year for 15 years there has been an increase in the size of the crowd that comes. I don’t know what the count is, but this year there seemed to be really a lot more people. Great to see. And people were very devout in reception of Holy Communion, with many going down on their knees on the concrete floor.

At the end of the day, after the closing Mass, just after the Apostolic Benediction with the plenary indulgence, the bishop asked the huge crowd whether or not they would like to see this next year, 2020, dedicated in Charlotte Diocese to Saint Joseph. There was a huge round of applause, so the bishop declared on the spot that this was to be the case. And this announcement was followed by another huge round of applause. I love that. This is such a good diocese.

There was also a lot of catching up with friends, both laity and priests, really good priests. I ate lunch with a group of seminarians, really good seminarians. I’m very impressed with their integrity of doctrine, morality, spirituality, just plain groundedness. They get it. They know who they are in Christ Jesus, that is, those who are in humble thanksgiving before Jesus.

Meanwhile, just in case I myself forgot who I am, I was supplied with two IDs:

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I always knew there were two of me somewhere in the world anyway (and that’s now confirmed by Diplomatic Security. So, Hahaha.

It was the comment of one of the nice ladies in charge taking care of the priestly vestments for the day that the two IDs were a statement about my supposed ability to bilocate. Um… No… Not yet anyway!

Some of the priests were a bit snarkier, saying that the IDs provided me with some rather glorious titles. Um… No… No me. Not ever! Those are the names of the churches of my parish, with Holy Redeemer being the “parish church” and Prince of Peace being the “mission church.”

The trip put well over 400 miles on Sassy the Subaru, often through mountainous cell-phone dead areas. And the phone was off for most of the long weekend, even for emergencies, as it’s not good to have the phone on during Mass, during Confessions, during Adoration, during the Eucharistic Procession in the streets of Charlotte, etc.

So, apologies to those who have phone calls and emails and such awaiting responses. Today’s the day I’ll try to get some things done. It’s just that Friday night I went to bed at 10:30 pm and got up at Midnight to get some things done before leaving for Charlotte at 2:00 am. Then Sunday night I got back to the parish at 1:30 am and got to bed at 2:00 am, only to get up at 4:00 am to get ready for the day. Let’s see:

  • 1:30 am – get back from the Eucharistic Congress (dogs had been fed by the neighbor)
  • 2:00 am – finally get to bed
  • 4:00 am – wake up for the day, with lots to do, including feeding the dogs! I noted that I was actually having knee tremors from lack of sleep at this point. Not good.
  • 5:30 am – travel to the church to set up for Adoration
  • 6:00 am – Adoration and hearing confessions until 7:00 am
  • 7:10 am – rush up to the mission church in Graham county
  • 7:30 am – set up for Mass and Adoration
  • 8:00 am – Adoration and Rosary and hearing Confessions
  • 8:30 am  – Mass
  • 9:45 am – Social in the social hall
  • 10:00 am – rush back to Cherokee County
  • 10:30 am – Confessions
  • 11:00 am – Mass
  • 12:15 pm – Social in the social hall
  • 1:30 pm – Start off on Communion calls for the sick and trips to the nursing homes in a couple of towns, utterly non-stop
  • 6:30 pm – Feed the dogs and start winding down…
  • 7:45 pm – To sleep. That lasted until 5:00 am Monday with prison ministry to begin, as always, after 7:00 am. So… Still alive!

Meanwhile, I love being a priest.

And we need more priests here. To guys thinking they just might have a vocation that needs to be discerned, contact Charlotte Diocese!

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Meme: “Only good priests allowed!”

These sticky notes with the meme “Only good priests allowed!” are showing up everywhere people think I might happen to show up, at medical institutions, at the parish office… Hahaha.

It’s my fault entirely. Every time before providing in whatever homily any kind of encouragement whatsoever to be in humble thanksgiving before our Lord who is ever so patient with us, you know, for His drawing us by His grace, for example, to a purity of heart and agility of soul, every time, mind you, I’m forever saying that I myself am evil and bad and think like the worst of the worst. In other words, if the Lord can smack me down in whatever way such that I might howsoever look to Him, then He can do this for others as well.

About these sticky notes, here’s the deal: the more evil and bad a priest knows himself to be, that is, the more honest he is about what he would be like if he were to be without the grace of God, that’s precisely how much he is able (by grace, mind you) to get out of the way of Jesus so that Jesus, the High Priest, might be evident.

“Only good priests allowed”? That’s mis-phrased. How about: “Only The Good Priest, Jesus, allowed!” I entirely agree, because I know that, of myself, I’m just sooo evil and sooo bad. :-)

If anyone thinks this is a bit over the top, I suggest taking a look at the last bits of Saint Patrick’s Breastplate. This is a legitimate prayer, a valid hope to have, to live by.

 

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UPDATE: U.S.A.: Innocent Until Proven Guilty. // FBI’s Mueller: Pfft.

Let’s make an analogy with priests. If priests are accused, it is the very accusation which is the proof. That’s it. Settlement made. Throat slit. Money paid out.

Let’s turn that around again. I wonder who’s been on the take in the FBI, getting paid by other backers of chaos, like, say, perhaps, George Soros. Follow the money.

At any rate, it seems that Mueller didn’t write the report. It really seems he’s starting to suffer from Dementia and/or Alzheimers. I see it  quite a bit. It was the way the face contorted. On a human level, I felt sorry for him.

Having said that, the principle that “one is innocent until proven guilty” must be upheld. There is no one who can prove their innocence, and even if they could, there will be no one to listen, for the one who listens has already decided for guilt for having already accepted the impossible burden for the defendant of proving his innocence. For instance, when it was objected that a defendant already proved his innocence by having been born after the alleged crime is said to have occurred, the judge said that that is irrelevant. Get it?

There are those in the FBI who may well have committed treason. One has to take a close look also at Brennan and Clapper. Just. Wow.

Update:

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What do you even do as a priest?

That question is sometimes asked with the cynicism of someone afraid to know the answer. The question is not about Adoration and Confessions and Masses and whatever of other sacraments. The question isn’t about meetings, opening the mail, checking phone messages. All of that is dismissed as unimportant.

The question about what a priest does refers to “the rest of the time”, which is, in this logic, dismissed as even more surreally ridiculously unimportant than all the rest. Visiting the sick and shut-ins, those in the emergency rooms and ICUs and hospital rooms and nursing homes and rehabs just doesn’t count, you know, for the reason that all of that is not at all anything that they themselves would ever be caught dead doing. Not their scene.

The question is actually addressed to Jesus, to dismiss Him, using the priest as an excuse to vent. It’s a teaching moment, as is said. The teaching, however, is often in the form of just taking the rubbish in silence. The eloquence of that silence speaks through the years, and may be the one thing that will bring the cynic to call upon Jesus, even if only at the very moment of death.

It’s a good thing to be smashed to one’s knees in reverence before the irony of what’s happening. The very Word of our Heavenly Father is silent, and then silenced in death.

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Exorcism law for Catholics: Instruction on Healing 2000; Inde ab aliquot annis 1985; Amorth; Ecclesia Dei dubia 2015

LOURDES-MICHAEL

This is in Saint Michael’s chapel above the grotto in Lourdes, France.

[[ This commentary has been slightly revised and updated with the addition of the Ecclesia Dei response to dubia. ]]

The four matters commented upon here:

  1. Instruction on Prayers for Healing (14 December 2000) [Feast of St John of the Cross, who hated sensationalism]
  2. Inde ab aliquot annis (29 September 1985) [Feast of St Michael the Archangel (and now Gabriel and Raphael as well)]
  3. A citation from Father Amorth
  4. Response to dubia set forth by a priest to the Commission “Ecclesia Dei” – 26 June 2015 [Feast day of Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, which may indicate the provenance of the dubia ;-) ]

The Instruction of 14 December 2000 was approved by the ordinary session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and shown to and approved by Saint John Paul II. This document cites Inde ab aliquot annis, which was also signed by Cardinal Ratzinger while Prefect of the CDF under Saint John Paul II.

Why you should read this post: Because we’ll be seeing lots more exorcisms taking place with all the new exorcists coming on board. This will help you keep your wits about you, knowing what the Church actually says about such things amidst all the various opinions. A couple of generations have gone by with almost no exorcists appointed in the entire Church. This means a loss of experiential wisdom, a risk of sensationalism, a risk of pride in going up against Satan. Let’s take a look at what the Church actually says. I don’t apologize for taking no prisoners. This is too important.

========================================

CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH
INSTRUCTION ON PRAYERS FOR HEALING 14 December 2000

[Let’s skip right to the disciplinary norms:]

Art. 1 – It is licit for every member of the faithful to pray to God for healing. When this is organized in a church or other sacred place, it is appropriate that such prayers be led by an ordained minister. [Since the distinction is about the place in which this happens, the logic is that it would be inappropriate for those who are not ordained to lead organized prayer for healing in a church or other sacred place.]

Art. 2 – Prayers for healing are considered to be liturgical if they are part of the liturgical books approved by the Church’s competent authority; otherwise, they are non-liturgical.

Art. 3 – § 1. Liturgical prayers for healing are celebrated according to the rite prescribed in the Ordo benedictionis infirmorum of the Rituale Romanum (28) and with the proper sacred vestments indicated therein.

§ 2. In conformity with what is stated in the Praenotanda, V., De aptationibus quae Conferentiae Episcoporum competunt (29) of the same Rituale Romanum, Conferences of Bishops may introduce those adaptations to the Rite of Blessings of the Sick which are held to be pastorally useful or possibly necessary, after prior review by the Apostolic See.

Art. 4 – § 1. The Diocesan Bishop has the right to issue norms for his particular Church regarding liturgical services of healing, following can. 838 § 4.

§ 2. Those who prepare liturgical services of healing must follow these norms in the celebration of such services.

§ 3. Permission to hold such services must be explicitly given, even if they are organized by Bishops or Cardinals, or include such as participants. Given a just and proportionate reason, the Diocesan Bishop has the right to forbid even the participation of an individual Bishop. [This, of course, has historical reference to the one time Archbishop, Emmanuel Milingo, who was forbidden to participate in such things in the Archdiocese of Milan. Milingo was “laicized” / dismissed from the clerical state in 2009.]

Art. 5 – § 1. Non-liturgical prayers for healing are distinct from liturgical celebrations, as gatherings for prayer or for reading of the word of God; these also fall under the vigilance of the local Ordinary in accordance with can. 839 § 2. [All of this should be obvious, but the abundance of disobedience requires that this be reiterated. The cry “We can do whatever we want!” is frequently to be heard, just as Satan’s cry of “Non serviam!” (I will not serve!) is likewise frequently heard. When there is disobedience you can be sure Satan is nearby.]

§ 2. Confusion between such free non-liturgical prayer meetings and liturgical celebrations properly so-called is to be carefully avoided. [In fact, I’ve never even once seen anything that was not confused.]

§ 3. Anything resembling hysteria, artificiality, theatricality or sensationalism, above all on the part of those who are in charge of such gatherings, must not take place. [Jesus doesn’t like hysteria. Really, He doesn’t. Jesus wrought exorcisms with quiet authority. Hysteria is a result of faked authority.]

Art. 6 – The use of means of communication (in particular, television) in connection with prayers for healing, falls under the vigilance of the Diocesan Bishop in conformity with can. 823 and the norms established by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Instruction of March 30, 1992.(30)

Art. 7 – § 1. Without prejudice to what is established above in art. 3 or to the celebrations for the sick provided in the Church’s liturgical books, prayers for healing – whether liturgical or non-liturgical – must not be introduced into the celebration of the Holy Mass, the sacraments, or the Liturgy of the Hours. [Wow. There. They said it. Totally cool. This happened and, I think, happens all the time, especially in Confession. That’s extremely imprudent. People recall the practice of Alphonsus Liguori, but not really. There is never a citation. Anyway, this is the legislation of Church now and it must be obeyed.]

§ 2. In the celebrations referred to § 1, one may include special prayer intentions for the healing of the sick in the general intercessions or prayers of the faithful, when this is permitted.

Art. 8 – § 1. The ministry of exorcism must be exercised in strict [“strict”] dependence on the Diocesan Bishop, and in keeping with [1.] the norm of can. 1172 [which I’ll try to present in another post with a document I presented to some 150 exorcists many years ago, but the idea is that the express mandate of the local ordinary is necessitated for an imprecatory exorcism], [2.], the Letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of September 29, 1985,(31) [which we will comment on further below], and [3.] the Rituale Romanum (32) [which will need its own series to comment upon].

§ 2. The prayers of exorcism contained in the Rituale Romanum must remain separate from healing services, whether liturgical or non-liturgical. [Get it? It’s not to be done. No direct commands to Satan in any kind of healing service. That ends about 99% of healing services.]

§ 3. It is absolutely forbidden to insert such prayers of exorcism into the celebration of the Holy Mass, the sacraments, or the Liturgy of the Hours. [And no matter how clear and repeatedly this is said, there will be people who will try to find loopholes. Read it: “Absolutely forbidden.” It is absolutely wrong. Nefas est! And, Fathers, to be explicit to the max: DO NOT DO THIS IN CONFESSION].

Art. 9 – Those who direct healing services, whether liturgical or non-liturgical, are to strive to maintain a climate of peaceful devotion in the assembly and to exercise the necessary prudence if healings should take place among those present; when the celebration is over, any testimony can be collected with honesty and accuracy, and submitted to the proper ecclesiastical authority. [One might find examples of the correct way of doing this in Lourdes.]

Art. 10 – Authoritative intervention by the Diocesan Bishop is proper and necessary when abuses are verified in liturgical or non-liturgical healing services, or when there is obvious scandal among the community of the faithful, or when there is a serious lack of observance of liturgical or disciplinary norms. [This is a reprimand to Bishops for not fulfilling their role of governance. In my experience, this is because those very bishops were happy to have such abuses take place, thinking that this was the nice thing to do].

The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, approved the present Instruction, adopted in Ordinary Session of this Congregation, and ordered its publication.

Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, September 14, 2000, the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross.

+ Joseph Card. RATZINGER
Prefect

+ Tarcisio BERTONE, S.D.B. Archbishop Emeritus of Vercelli
Secretary

============================================================

CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH

Letter to Ordinaries regarding norms on Exorcism

INDE AB ALIQUOT ANNIS – 29 September 1985

Your most Reverend Excellency,

Recent years have seen an increase in the number of prayer groups in the Church aimed at seeking deliverance from the influence of demons, while not actually engaging in real exorcisms. These meetings are led by lay people, even when a priest is present.

As the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has been asked how one should view these facts, this Dicastery considers it necessary to inform Bishops of the following response:

1. Canon 1172 of the Code of Canon Law states that no one can legitimately perform exorcisms over the possessed unless he has obtained special and express permission from the local Ordinary (§ 1), and states that this permission should be granted by the local Ordinary only to priests who are endowed with piety, knowledge, prudence and integrity of life (§ 2). Bishops are therefore strongly advised to stipulate that these norms be observed.

2. From these prescriptions it follows that it is not even licit that the faithful use the formula of exorcism against Satan and the fallen angels, extracted from the one published by order of the Supreme Pontiff Leo XIII, and even less that they use the integral text of this exorcism. Bishops should take care to warn the faithful, if necessary, of this. [“the faithful” – this speaks to individuals. The next paragraph speaks to groups. But in this paragraph 2 one sees that individuals even privately are absolutely forbidden to use the exorcism prayer from Leo XIII or anything extracted from it. That’s clear and strong. Priests generally are included, except for those who have the “special and express permission from the local Ordinary”. Disobey and you will get yourself in trouble. Disobedience is a sign of Satan’s presence. Disobedience is an open invitation to Satan to do his demonic worst.]

3. Finally, for the same reasons, Bishops are asked to be vigilant so that – even in cases that do not concern true demonic possession – those who are without the due faculty [priests included] may not conduct meetings during which invocations, to obtain release, are uttered in which demons are questioned directly and their identity sought to be known. [Priests without the due faculty still insist that because of the language in this paragraph they can still address Satan directly, so as to “bind” him, or some such thing, as if this were not an exorcism when, clearly, as a direct command to Satan, it is the very definition of an exorcism. Let’s just say it: forcing Satan with direct commands to answer questions and to reveal their identity is the very definition what is to go on in an exorcism, those direct commands being exorcisms is and of themselves in the larger exorcism or, in this case, with malicious deceit, the larger “deliverance” (which is actually an exorcism done in disobedience.]

Drawing attention to these norms, however, should in no way distance the faithful from praying that, as Jesus taught us, they may be delivered from evil (cf. Mt 6:13). [Exactly right. One may ask our Heavenly Father to rebuke Satan, as did Saint Michael himself. And this is how Jesus, the very Son of the Living God, told us all how to pray. Why is it that people think Jesus’ advice should be despised as worthless, or think themselves better than Saint Michael? I think that many have been misled, and that many think that they have to have power by way of doing exoricms, even to the point of disobeying the Church to do this. But such disobedience is to make friends with Satan.] Finally, Pastors may take this opportunity to recall what the Tradition of the Church teaches concerning the role proper to the sacraments and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, of the Angels and Saints in the Christian’s spiritual battle against evil spirits. [Indeed, Confession is so very important. But don’t do exorcisms in Confession.]

I take the opportunity to express my deepest respects,

Your most esteemed in Christ,

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
Prefect

Alberto Bovone
Secretary

=========================

At this point, some quote Father Amorth (an old friend), in An Exorcist: More Stories, 189-90 (translated from a book going back to January 1992 in Italian, by the way…), to say that…

official exorcisms are not allowed [by non-exorcists]; they are reserved exclusively for the exorcist. The same holds true for the exorcism of Leo XIII, even though it is now part of the public domain. The private use of such exorcisms is another matter; at least, this is how I understand the above-cited document.

“At least, this is how I understand…” he says tentatively.

  • Are there “unofficial” exorcisms? Any direct command to Satan is an exorcism. Doing an exorcism needs the special and express permission of the local Ordinary.
  • He is right to mock the mere fact of something merely being published widely (“Part of the public domain”). The fact of leaflets spread about by private individuals is not the granting of a special and express permission!

But, let’s see if the much later document of “Ecclesia Dei” in 2015 has anything pertinent to say about anything private:

=================================

Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei
Pontificia Commissio “Ecclesia Dei”
Prot. N. 153/2009 – 26 June 2015*

[…] Thank you for your letter of 9 June 2015 [an instantaneous response], in which you submitted two dubia regarding the use of the Rituale Romanum of the Extraordinary Form (which is in fact the editio typica dated 1952).

In relation to the first dubium, namely “is a priest allowed to publicly and / or privately use the Exorcismus in satatam et angelos apostaticos (the so-called Exorcism of Leo XIII) found in Title XII of the 1956 Rituale Romanum without express permission of the local Ordinary”, this Pontifical Commission would respond as follows:

  • Pursuant to Can. 1172 § 1, no one may carry out an act of exorcism over persons without the special and express permission of the local Ordinary. Accordingly, any use, whether public or private, of the Exorcism of Leo XIII over persons is subject to such special and express permission of the local Ordinary.
  • As regards the public use of said Exorcism in situations other than over persons, such as over places, objects, or in other circumstances, this is also subject to the authorization of the Ordinary, in accordance with the opening rubric to be found in chapter III of Title XII of the 1952 Rituale: “Sequens exorcismus recitari potest ab Episcopis, nec non a Sacerdotibus, qui ab Ordinariis suis ad id auctoritatem habeant”. Indeed, it does not appear that any later legislation ever lifted the rule laid down by this rubric, which therefore remains in force. As for the letter Inde ab aliquot annis of the CDF of 29 September 1985, this letter deals with the question of the use of the Exorcism by laypersons, and is therefore of no consequence as to the situation of priests. It should further be noted that by “public” use of the Exorcism, one should understand any use made by a priest in the name and with the authority of the Church for the benefit of the faithful.
  • As regards the private use of the Exorcism of Leo XIII by priests, i.e. outside of any pastoral context and / or request by the faithful, and simply as a pia oratio, this Dicastery sees no grounds for which to deny this to priests on the basis of the discipline currently in force. That said, the competent authorities of the […edited out…] remain free, should they deem it appropriate, to provide its members with internal guidelines or rules [for further restriction, obviously] in this regard. [“Ecclesia Dei” rules out this exorcism of Leo XIII being used for the benefit of any member of the faithful and for any benefit whatsoever of the faithful such as over places at the request of the faithful if there is no special and express permission of the local Ordinary for a priest to do this as a duly authorized exorcist. “Ecclesia Dei” concedes a private usage that is to be unknown to anyone but the priest himself ( – over himself? or his domicile? – ) and only as a “pious prayer”. But an imprecatory (by direct command) exorcism as is had with the Exorcism of Leo XIII is not, by definition, a deprecatory (by request to Jesus or the saints) exorcism. The latter could be seen as a “pious prayer” such as the ending of “The Lord’s Prayer”. But the Leo XIII exorcism is definitely not that. It directly places monstrous, arrogant, violent Satan under the authority of Christ and the Church, drawing on the merits of Christ and the saints as an imprecatory exorcism wrought be a duly authorized priest-exorcist. Is this concession about using the Leo XIII exorcism as a “pious prayer” saying that a priest can privately go ahead and recite the Leo XIII exorcism, but just don’t mean what you say? I wonder what Satan would make of that. Does not meaning what you say make a mockery both of exorcism and of prayer? I wonder what Satan would make of that. I simply don’t know what to make of this. I’m not privately or publicly going to encourage priests to do exorcisms over themselves or anything of theirs such as private living quarters even privately even a “pious prayer” (whatever that means) based on an utterly nonsensical private answer to private dubia by a Secretary of a Commission, which answer, by the way, does not bear the public affirmation of the Cardinal Prefect of CDF of the time. Sorry + Guido Pozzo. But perhaps someone would like to explain this “pious prayer” thing to me. The comments box is open. Someone suggested that “merely addressing them” (the demons) is just fine as such an address is not mentioned. My question is: Why the hell would you be concerned with addressing demons if you are not doing an exorcism as duly authorized by the local ordinary to do that? Are the demons your good buds? ST II-II 90. ad. 2 is cited to say that it’s all good. Seriously? Muddled application, my friend. The same fellow says that none of the above restrictions are concerned with “adjuring them” (the demons). To be pedantic, “to adjure” is a direct literal translation from the Greek “exorcism” into Latin: To say “I adjure you, Satan” is exactly the same as to say “I exorcise you, Satan”. In their desire to have communication with the demons[!] people are dealing with fire. I fear for them. You should rethink this throw away concession, + Guido Pozzo.]

In relation to the second dubium, namely “can a deacon validly confect blessings which are not expresse jure permitted to him in the 1956 Rituale Romanum”, this Pontifical Commission would respond that regardless of the question of validity, it is clear from Can. 1169 § 3 that the faculty granted to a deacon to confect a blessing must be expressly conceded. Now, it does not appear that any such faculty has been granted to deacons by Church authority as regards the use of the blessing rites contained in the 1952 Rituale. Such concessions indeed exist in the 1984 De benedictionibus, but these are given on a rite-by-rite basis, and therefore only pertain to those particular rites referred to and laid out by that liturgical book, without any influence on the rights to use the blessings of the 1952 Rituale.

[…] + Guido Pozzo – Secretary

[*This 2015 letter was published years later in 2018 on the internet only in pdf form by Rorate. The transcription and interlinear commentary is mine].

Finally, just to end on a literary / film analogy, here’s a bit about power that was meant for good being corrupted into that which is evil. What do we become with fake authority? This is just a few seconds long:

Be careful, my fellow priests.

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Father Gordon J MacRae interview: First time speaking in his own defense

GORDON MACRAE

In Father Gordon J MacRae’s own words:

“In the course of my 1994 trial, and while sentenced to life in prison, and during State and habeas corpus appeals I have never been allowed to utter a single word in my own defense. In 2011 a two-part documentary video was made of my testimony. It went missing for several years and has just turned up.”

PART 1:

PART 2:

The insanity of self-congratulators, self-proclaimed heroes of a witch-hunt, only destroys justice for all, making hatred into a virtue, further destroying lives. People will get sick of allegations being made equal to guilt and no longer listen to real victims. False accusers, drawn by the lure of ultra-super-easy money, will also live destroyed lives. Justice, due process – what priests have not been afforded – is important, more important than the self-hero worship of bishops who proclaim themselves to be “tough on abuse” when they simply continue to abuse justice, entrenching in the basic problem all the more with abuse of authority.

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“Day Off” at the hermitage

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img_20190521_172306~2-17681136628144419326..jpgWhat that means is three shots (2 body, one head, pictured below according to the SEALs measurements 21 feet out) in 0.26 seconds starting at 1.14 seconds starting out of a locked holster. So, 0.03 hundredths of a second faster than last week. Another group came in 1.25 seconds (which group may have had the first shot out in less than a second from a locked holster), but I don’t want to claim that group as validated as I hadn’t marked previous shots on the paper and couldn’t be sure if all three were precisely accurate. Mind you, that’s the flukey best. I’m NOT that good. Not at all.

Meanwhile, a good chat was had with the neighbors to the hermitage about the priesthood. They suffer for priests. They pray for priests. They are in solidarity with priests. Such a good crowd. Meanwhile, we spoke of a particular priest. They are an inspiration. And besides, they made a delicious meal, complete with monster cookies and ice cream. I am unworthy.

Meanwhile, having had a good chat with a priest writing this next week’s guest post for These Stone Walls, I read his revision up in the hermitage itself, as was only fitting, and responded again. Awesome. He touched the Heart of Jesus for us all.

Meanwhile, I spoke with another priest, the one whose case I brought to Pope Francis. He’s doing extraordinarily well. It’s the stuff of the lives of the saints. What a great joy. What a great joy.

Meanwhile, conversation was had about yet another priest who has a case parallel to the one whose case I brought to Pope Francis. He’s an amazing, faithful, devout priest – an excellent faithful Thomist – now nailed to the cross, for years. Plotting about how to go about things to be of assistance was wrought.

Meanwhile, logistics errands for the neighbors to mechanics and banks were accomplished, at the end of which…

Meanwhile, I finally spoke with… […] It is such a blessing to be able to tap into first hand wisdom of the best of the best of the best. A good “Day Off.”

Oh, and, of course, tons of pictures of flowers for the Immaculate Conception were taken. That’s the undisputed best part of a “Day Off”.

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Day Off and the Chrism Mass: Show of Force Prevention

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It’s Holy Week. Busiest days ever for a priest. Apologies to those sending questions etc.

Tuesday saw well over 400 miles clocked on Sassy the Subaru Forester, going from Andrews to the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral in Charlotte. The priests renewed their promises at Mass, the Sacred Chrism and the Oils of Catechumens and of the Infirm were blessed. There was a meal for the priests afterward. Artwork and best wishes by the children of the Cathedral were at all the places for the priests. This one was at my place:

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Of course, vocations are from Jesus!

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Everything about the day was enjoyable, well, except for something rather unexpected, rather out of the ordinary show of force with armed security, which is always done with the motivation of prevention. The security guy, in full uniform and a heavily decked out duty belt followed the bishop and his two deacons for the procession in and then out. So, I guess, this was more of a bodyguard thing.

What I say here is NOT a criticism, not in the least. I don’t know the circumstances. I’m guessing that if there was a credible and imminent threat, either the Mass would have been cancelled or there would have been support from “normal” law enforcement, with a couple of squad cars out front, etc. Perhaps there were some other undercover guys as at, for instance, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York.

The Bishop’s homily was rather abbreviated. And then, also out of character, he only appeared for perhaps one minute at the meal afterward to do the blessing. Again, I don’t know the circumstances.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

The policy of the diocese, surely to appease insurance companies, is that there can be no officially mandated armed presence for church services on any campus of the diocese. Let’s stare at that:

“No officially mandated armed presence…”

In other words, volunteers can volunteer, and it’s up to the priest to assess a volunteer’s viability on any number of levels and in all sorts of ways, but nothing that the priest says can make anything with weapons that which is expected of anyone for any reason ever. Fine. In the end, the policy is a non-policy. It just facilitates attorneys protecting whoever.

I’m guessing that this security guy at the Chrism Mass was told where he was to be and even that he was to be uniformed, but that any weapons were totally his option.

I had a good chat with him ranging from his provenance (that was interesting), a particular “group” to which he belongs (that was interesting).

During the hundreds of miles long trip there was plenty of time to mull things, that is, about this and a number of other issues, always enjoyable speeding by the mountain scenery.

But I wanted more time to mull things over. The Day Off suggested the option of gun-slinging. A detour was made to the neighbors to the hermitage. As usual, some FBI and FAM tactical pistol courses were accomplished.

I should volunteer to be a kind of security secretary to the Bishop, you know, with some optional security options optionally being put into play, optionally, of course, but surely in a more low-key manner. But for now, just to say, in support:

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

After the tactical pistol courses – which afford time for prayer for the bishops and priests during target set-up and replacement – it was then time for discussion with the neighbors to the hermitage. The topic above went on for hours. It is quite a bit to take in.

We discussed undercover as opposed to open show of force. Even at Saint Peter’s in Rome, the top operator guys are dressed in tuxedos so as to be more low key.

We ended by praying for the security of the Bishop, and that the Lord continues to give him the grace and strength he needs each day (to quote the card pictured above). Our Father… Hail Mary… Glory be…

To repeat: we don’t know the circumstances of the preventative show of force, and this is no criticism. Far from it. The whole “ounce” “pound” thing is very wise. Perhaps this is a paradigm for the diocese in hopes of saving lives amidst so many attacks on churches.

Yes, there is a picture of a glorious cross pictured at the top of this post in that card made by a child. “Out of the mouths of babes” and all that… And, yes, Our Lord did say, “As the Master, so the disciple.” Yes.

But defense of the innocent is a good thing. I’m sure there will be debate…

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Summary of everything wrong with the Catholic Church in the USA

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I got this as an afterthought, that is, I suppose, as a joke. Someone put me on the mailing list of the AUSCP. It’s already too late for the “Register by March 31” discount. Hahaha.

I guess someone wanted me to see this and put it up on the blog as an example of all that is wrong with the Catholic Church in these USA.

  • I admit: “prayer” is mentioned. I bet that’s in the style of Los Angeles REC.
  • I admit: there is an icon pictured, but I have to wonder if that’s token bait.

Let’s review:

  • AUSCP wrongly says that it speaks for me, a Catholic priest. How arrogant of them.
  • AUSCP wrongly says that it co-promotes with Pope Francis the implementation of the vision and values of Vatican II. But that’s another rant.

What especially caught my eye and what about makes me want to vomit is the insistence of being embraced with “America’s most inclusive place for U.S. priests.” That’s not true. What about Cardinal Burke. And what kind of ultra-nationalist agenda is that, anyway? What about being inclusive of other priests from around the world, you know, like Bishop Athanasius Schneider, like Cardinal Sarah?

But you know what “most inclusive” means, don’t you? Sigh.

Let’s review again:

  • I don’t want their respect. I expect them to be aggravated with me, because I’m actually a Catholic and a priest and a believer, all three at the same time. The life of a Catholic priest is not about receiving condescension. It’s to be all about Jesus. He’s the One. He’s the Only One. No one has spoken about Jesus since what? 1962?
  • I don’t want their support. What does that even mean? A kind of accompaniment? The life of a Catholic priest is not about being served. It’s about being one with Jesus who came to lay down His life as a ransom for many. It’s about Jesus. He’s the One. He’s the Only One. And since Cupich is going to be there, I ask this: Are the thugs threatening Father Kalchik going to be there? Is Father Kalchik invited?
  • I don’t want their comfort. What is that? One better not ask. The life of a Catholic priest is to fulfill the saying of Jesus crucified: “As the Master, so the disciple.”
  • I don’t want their nourishment, the massive banquets that scream it’s all about me! Jesus said, “I thirst.” I would rather eat out of a much more familiar dumpster that eat at those sumptuous banquets.

Where are the followers of Jesus?

Where are the martyrs?

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08 – Priestly Celibacy Series – Eunuch (2)

jesus faces

The ordained priest, who is the instrument of The Priest, Christ Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, Prince of the Most Profound Peace, has charge of the marriage bed shared by Jesus and His Bride, the Church.

Look, I am NOT a follower of slimy interpretations of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. The saint was clear that this is about mercy based on JUSTICE.

The ordained priest, acting in Persona Christi (in the Person of Christ) keeps the bride perfect in purity by his administration of the Sacraments. He prepares the Bride for Christ with Baptism and Confession. In his office as Eunuch, the priest does what the Lord does in preparing, metaphorically, the Bride for marriage. Scripturally, the doctrine proclaimed is as strong as the images provided in, e.g., Ezekiel 16:6-14…

And when I passed by you, and saw you weltering in your blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live, and grow up like a plant of the field.’ And you grew up and became tall and arrived at full maidenhood; your breasts were formed, and your hair had grown; yet you were naked and bare. When I passed by you again and looked upon you, behold, you were at the age for love; and I spread my skirt over you, and covered your nakedness: yea, I plighted my troth to you and entered into a covenant with you, says the Lord GOD, and you became mine. Then I bathed you with water and washed off your blood from you, and anointed you with oil. I clothed you also with embroidered cloth and shod you with leather, I swathed you in fine linen and covered you with silk. And I decked you with ornaments, and put bracelets on your arms, and a chain on your neck. And I put a ring on your nose, and earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown upon your head. Thus you were decked with gold and silver; and your raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and embroidered cloth; you ate fine flour and honey and oil. You grew exceedingly beautiful, and came to regal estate. And your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through the splendor which I had bestowed upon you, says the Lord God.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and Calvary is where the marriage of Christ and His Bride, the Church, is celebrated and, so to speak, consummated, that is, by way of mercy founded on JUSTICE. The priest is ordained to be an alter-Christus, another Christ. But there is only one Christ, one Priest, one Lord, one King, one Bridegroom, in whose Person the ordained priest acts (in Persona Christi). The ordained priest has a priestly character in Christ’s image that is far different from all other Christians’ ‘royal priesthood’.

The celibacy, the chastity, the continence and even perhaps the virginity he can enjoy finds its fulfilment in the charity of this wedding of Jesus and His Bride of which the eunuch priest is officially in charge and in which he participates, being married to the Church by the Sacrifice he offers, by the marriage vows he pronounces in Persona Christi, in the Person of Christ: This is my body — given for you in sacrifice… This is the Chalice of my blood — poured out for you in sacrifice. Total self-giving to the other. The priest is in love with the Church, also his Bride, through, with and in Christ Jesus.

From the Congregation for Clergy:

“Through Him, with Him, and in Him, the priest becomes the servant of mankind. His very being, ontologically assimilated to Christ, constitutes the foundation of being ordained for the service of the community. Total commitment to Christ, aptly effected and witnessed through celibacy, places the priest at the service of all. The marvelous gift of celibacy is clarified by, and draws inspiration from, assimilation to the nuptial gift of the crucified and risen Son of God to a redeemed and renewed mankind.”

Note that this nuptial gift has nothing of the sexual about it, nothing of a pornographically fallen eroticism that is so often effervescently spoken about these days by some few in glowing terms, making the Last Supper and particularly Calvary some sort of sexualized experience even for Christ. That’s the most blasphemous perversion of the Theology of the Body of Saint Pope John Paul II. Blasphemy.

The begetting of children, the primary end of any marriage, is wrought in Christ’s marriage with His Bride, the Church, not by sexual activity, but by way of JUSTICE: He took on the consequence of the guilt we incurred because of original sin, death, which is also the worst we can give out, and is, therefore, exactly what we  deserve in justice… He took this on and, standing in our place, the Innocent for the guilty, He had the right in His own justice to have mercy on us, to tell our Heavenly Father: “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.”

This is how He begets the children of God, usurping the rights of Adam over us, and then the rights of Satan over us. Satan had rights over us because Adam was obedient to Satan instead of God. But the Lord transformed us from being the members of the fallen body of Adam that had been given over to Satan into the members of His Mystical Body. To become the members of His Body is marriage terminology of Saint Paul.

Saint Paul speaks of the Body of Christ, for this we become by way of the Eucharist, coming from the Last Supper and Calvary. These are united by Christ’s usage of the present participles: This is my Body now being given over for you… (eδιδόμενον) This is the Chalice of my Blood now being shed for you (ἐκχυννόμενον).

The priest, in acting in the Person of Christ, pronouncing these words, must himself be at the ready and in fact be laying down his life for his Bride, the Church, all in total self-giving for the other, the height of matrimonial love for the other. Here’s what Saint Paul has in Ephesians 5,22-33 (RSV):

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church; however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Note that the purity of chastity for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven brings with it a lively silence of heart and soul, an openness to listening to the Incarnate Word whom the priest preaches and whom the priest brings upon the altars where the nuptial joys of the Paschal Mystery are celebrated. The ordained priest rejoices by means of His obedience to the Incarnate Word, obedience meaning to be so transformed by that to which one listens that one’s life is conformed to this. The Father speaking the Word into us – that Word which resounds in the ever so lively silence of the chaste heart and soul – so transforms us into another Christ, an alter Christus, that there cannot be loneliness, only purification… and abundant innocent joy, beatitude and goodness.

Perhaps the fact that it is the bridal chamber of Christ’s own marriage with His bride, the Church, by way of His two wedding vows at the Last Supper, as manifested on Calvary — the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass — that is meant for His Apostles, His priests, when He says in the passage about the eunuchs, the keepers of the bed, of the bridal chamber:  He who is able to make room, let him make room. He who is able to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the Bride of Christ in Persona Christ (in the Person of Christ), let him offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

We miss so much of this because of bad translations. When Jesus, in parables, speaks of His Apostles as “wedding guests”, the real translation is “sons of the bridal chamber.” When Jesus speaks of His Apostles as Eunuchs, He actually says that they are to be Keepers of the Bed, that is the wedding of Christ with the Church, which is an exercise of mercy founded on JUSTICE, Jesus on the Cross, which is the Holy Sacrfice of the Mass and the Sacraments which flow from the Sacrifice: Baptism, Confession…

NOBODY BUT NOBODY speaks of these things unless it’s blasphemy on the one hand or just total mayhem of sexual licence on the other.

In all of this, we have forgotten about Jesus. Priestly celibacy is all about Jesus. He came into this world to die. And THAT’s how He married His Bride, the Church. Being a “Eunuch” is all about laying down one’s life for the Church, the Bride of Christ.

By the way, all priests are married. So…

  • Priests should stop whining that they’re not married. Those who do are liars. They are afraid to lay down their lives for the Church. They see no reason to do so. They don’t love the Church. They couldn’t care less. It’s not about the Church for them. It’s only about their own sexual license. Where are the martyrs, you ask? You won’t find any martyrs among the whiners.
  • Laity should stop telling priests condescendingly that they should be married. They already are married. If only they knew it, and we wouldn’t be in such dire straits.

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07 Priestly Celibacy Series – Fulton Sheen

fulton sheen preaching mass

This series on priestly celibacy began with a guest post. That was Ignace de la Potterie, S.J. And now we have another, this time on something noted by the Venerable Fulton J Sheen, this being recalled by a priest friend, a past student of mine, who has far surpassed his teacher in all things. For that, I rejoice.

That priest is presently across the pond. He’s been been distracted by this blog from time to time. He has gone to the point of sending in some Flowers for the Immaculate Conception from the patio-rooftop from which he can see the Vatican. It’s rare for him to make such an intervention. But in following this series on Priestly Celibacy he couldn’t help but rejoice in recalling what the Venerable Sheen had said. Behold:

Dear Father, [I’m always happy to see the spelled out version instead of the abbreviation “Fr.”, and “Father” instead of “Reverend” or “Rev.” Priests need to know they are Father. We need to remind priests of their fatherhood of their parish families. This is all part of priestly celibacy. Don’t use nicknames or merely names with your priests, like “Skippy” or “Jim Bob.” Remind them of their calling, especially if you think they’ve lost the plot.]

A blessed Lent to you! [Lent is about the blessings of deepened friendship with the Lord Jesus.] I have been ever so grateful for your recent celibacy posts. It is refreshing to see faithful, truth-preaching priests amidst the chaos of these days. [Thank Jesus’ good mom for dealing with the awful likes of me.] May my own donkiness* be as simple and humble as yours one day! [Already done, my friend. Already done.]

I also wanted to send along an interesting bit I heard from Ven. Fulton Sheen today. [“heard”… In other words, he’s listening to the shows and retreat conferences and talks given by the Archbishop. I think I wore out all the little cassette tapes of his talks back in the 1980s. Good memories.]

He was talking to priests about celibacy and started with the Old Testament. He said there were only 3 instances when a “temporary celibacy” arose:

[1] before theophanies (e.g. Moses commands this before ascending Sinai);

[2] in wartime (David and his men when they receive the show bread from the priest);

[3] and at the dedication of the Temple.

How applicable these are to us, no?

[1] For as priests we are constantly in the Divine Theophany of the Eucharist and the Sacred Liturgy—[3] we are constantly in the Temple of the Church, and are temples of the Holy Spirit. [2] And if it isn’t clear to all and sundry that we are at constant war as priests, then they haven’t been paying attention! Spiritual warfare, war with the spirit of the world. But we have angels on our side.

Anyway, I know you refer to the good Fulton Sheen every so often, so I wanted to send this along. I look forward to the future posts about “making room” and celibacy. Know of my prayers for you. I will offer Mass for you tomorrow morning. God bless! [I am very humbled by you’re offering Mass for me, dearest Father. Thank you. I shall return the favor in just a few hours, at the parish’s Noon Mass at Holy Redeemer.]

Pax,

Father […]

* Donkeys are always in the midst of the Holy Family, from Nazareth to Bethlehem to Egypt and all the way back to Nazareth and, years later, bringing Jesus into Jerusalem for the Last Supper and His Passion, Death and Resurrection.

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06 – Priestly Celibacy Series – Eunuch (1)

miguel pro martyr

Blessed Miguel Pro as he starts to fall a split second after being shot, immediately after famously saying, “Viva Cristo Rey!”

Of all the posts in this series, the present article – 06 Eunuch (1) – and then the next in the series after this – 07 Eunuch (2) – are by far the most important.

Mt 19,12 – Eunuchs for the sake of Heaven’s Kingdom

(1) For there are eunuchs who have been brought forth from their mother’s womb like this and (2) there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men and (3) there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. He who is able to make room, let him make room.

Eunuch — from the Greek words εὐνη, which means bed, and ἔχειν which means to have [and, in context: have charge of something], is understood to be someone who has [charge of] the bed [that is, for someone else]. “The bed” may very well refer to a large harem of a powerful king. The eunuchs would not dream of touching any of the women of a king like Solomon, even with his three hundred wives and seven hundred concubines (1 Kings 11:3). This kind of misbehavior would mean certain death. To keep them from physical temptation, most eunuchs were castrated by means of even total removal of the genitals… However, this is merely the prudence of whatever king, and has nothing in itself to do with the actual office that is being executed by the eunuch, the keeper of the bed. To be a eunuch and to be castrated are not synonymous. At any rate, eunuchs, not surprisingly, often came to be the most trusted individuals of most any empire. They were often second only to the king in power. Not infrequently, they were more powerful than king or emperor who was only a figurehead for the eunuch who actually ruled the land. The “bed” which is being supervised by the bed-keeper, the eunuch, was often a reference to the political relations of the king. We still hear this as a euphemism for political maneuvering: “So-and-so is in bed with so-and-so.” Eunuchs were so respected, I suppose, because the horrendous barbarism so often inflicted upon them was seen to be some sort of participation in a materially effective redemption, something seen as a correction of the havoc original sin has caused, havoc which is manifest both within individuals and in relations with others. Indeed, the destruction of the image of God in man by original sin wrecks havoc on the impetus for man and woman to come together and procreate. But hacking off genitals is not the way to go for the true redemption of specifically that kind of destruction. Such violence only causes further spiritual and psychological chaos inasmuch as attempted repression of the dreaded devastation caused by original sin can only bring about more frustration. This only makes the individual and all of society much worse.

Having said all that, the word eunuch is by far the richest of all of the terms we’ve seen, and it is the only one used by Jesus Himself in describing those men whom He calls to Himself for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven, though there is a synonymous phrase He uses, which will also be examined briefly further below. Again, Matthew 19:12 reads as follows, with my rather precise translation:

(1) For there are eunuchs who have been brought forth from their mother’s womb like this and (2) there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men and (3) there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. He who is able to make room, let him make room.

The usage of the term eunuch by Jesus admits of three types, the first two have similarities, while the third is unique.

The first, “there are eunuchs who have been brought forth from their mother’s womb,” is a not infrequent correctable congenital defect.

The second, “there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men,” refers to those who not only have the office of eunuch described above, but have also suffered the humiliation of being castrated.

The third type of eunuch, “there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven,” cannot refer to self-castration despite the fact that some of the greatest thinkers, such as Origen († @ 254), have mutilated themselves because of what they thought they saw in this passage (perhaps paying too much attention to the Latin Vulgate translation). The Vulgate at this point changes the phrase to say “castrate themselves” (se ipsos castraverunt). While this has a correct spiritual sense, one must further nuance this rendition by paying more attention to the original Greek!

Those who do something for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven do what they do only with the greatest respect and reverence for God’s economy of salvation. It would be positively anti-evangelical to castrate oneself while saying that this was done for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Thinking one can save oneself from temptation and sin, and also do something positive for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven, and simply because one castrates oneself, is a most gross, crass insult to the saving power of the grace or charity (χάρις – caritas) which Christ granted to us from the Cross.

Being continent, chaste, celibate and possibly even virginal for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven must be wrought in a manner which demonstrates that the establishment of the Kingdom is paramount in our lives, that the transformation in grace of the individual (Ephesians 1:3ff ) who would generously give himself to the Lord (with the generosity provided to Him directly by the Lord) is what has enlivened the individual in the Trinity’s fullness of life.

This does not mean that the carrying of the cross in regard to faith-filled chastity is any kind of burden, a woeful curse, a cruel condemnation to suffer the most useless loneliness – an attitude only those suffering from the most stultified torpidity come up with. That there would be those who would not be open to the radiance of Jesus’ loving union with His Bride, the Church, is here recognized by Jesus with His ever unsurpassed agility in setting the matter straight. He offers this admonition: “He who is able to make room, let him make room.” This is often mistranslated to read: “Let he who can receive this, receive it,” or “Let he who can understand this, understand it,” or some such thing along the lines of “Let him who has ears to listen, listen!” Instead, here, we read about making room. This, take note, is the named office of the eunuch, who is to have care specifically of the bedroom (again: εὐνη, which means bed, and ἔχειν, which means to have [and, in context: have charge of something], is understood to be someone who has [charge of] the bed [that is, for someone else]). One’s vocation to the priesthood depends upon one’s being able “to make room” because of having received that very ability from the Lord. The question then, is, what is “making room”?

Stay tuned for Part II !

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05 – Priestly Celibacy Series – Virginity

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Virginity — to be a virgin, comes from virgo (virginis), which is like unto virga, a twig, a slender branch, a young sprouting shoot. In other words, someone young, male or female, who does not know willing sexual intercourse.

Saint John, a priest, Apostle, and Evangelist, uses the word virgin for men in the Apocalypse 14:4. The beloved disciple himself is thought to have always been a virgin. The same word, παρθένος (virgin), is used for the Blessed Mother of God (Luke 1,27, etc.).

Continence, celibacy and chastity can be thought to have primarily negative meanings to which positive spiritual motivations must be added. Virginity has a primarily positive meaning, the pristine, wonderful, lively goodness of men and women who, for even very positive reasons, have not (yet) known willing sexual intercourse (or willing sexual compromise for that matter).

Saint Augustine, not a virgin, came to know chaste, continent celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven more than many virgins.

I should add here that unwilling sexual intercourse, such as being raped, would not disqualify one from being a virgin even in the strict sense. The hymen may be missing for many reasons, including disease or disfigurement or birth defect. Whatever. Can women who have been raped be admitted, for instance, to the order of consecrated virgins? Yes, of course they can. Much has been made of comments to the contrary, but I would bet that those who made such comments did not have rape in mind! Honestly!

What about those who have known willing compromise? Let’s review: Saint Augustine, not a virgin, came to know chaste, continent celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven more than many virgins. Does that make him a virgin? No.

However, I don’t think people should be singled out for a past life. Women who were previously married, but, for instance, their spouse died, and they want to get remarried, don’t want to wear a white dress since that would somehow negate the great married life they had with their beloved who have now died.

But should women who fell in weakness before getting married be forced to wear a non-white dress? That, in my opinion, would be perverse. And what about the men? Honestly!

Also, by the way, our ever virgin Blessed Mother remained a virgin before, during and after the birth of Christ. Why? There are many reasons. A very important one was the her Son was the Son, by whom we all exist, and with whom we are to be unified as members, so to speak, of His Mystical Body, of which He is the Head. The Blessed Mother is the mother of us all, giving birth to the rest of us in her Son by way of her perfect intercession for us under the Cross, those birth pangs which brought us to see the light of day in the Son of God. She is not the mother of a monster — as I think Saint Bernard said — the mother of only a Head, for instead, she is mother of the whole Christ, the Head, Jesus, and us, the members. This divine work was first wrought by Holy Spirit, not the intervention of man. This divine work continued by the Holy Spirit, not the intervention of man. The virginity of Mary is a sign of all of this.

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04 – Priestly Celibacy Series – Celibacy

crucifix

Celibacy— from cælibatus and cælebs and the indo-european roots, means alone-living, that is, living alone, or, at least, unmarried. This is simply descriptive of that which we see in this world. If it is without a spiritual dimension, celibacy is sterile, cold, lonely, something which positively rejects the way God made us. Here is where some of those in Holy Orders limit their understanding, and whine about loneliness and lack of fulfilment, begging to have a physical marriage in this world, or putting themselves in de facto concubinage, i.e., the state of being with someone in one’s cubo (in Latin), that is, “cube” or hut or shack. “Shacking up” is simply a translation of concubinage. A concubine, then, is the person with whom one lives without the benefit of marriage. Celibacy, living alone, is the most unfortunate word to be used for the marriage of the priest to the Bride of Christ, for this is hardly living alone, or being in an unmarried state. The priest is to be married to the Church. He must understand that, or he’s in deep trouble. And if he’s in trouble, others are as well. To avoid misunderstanding, the words for the sake of the kingdom of heaven are added from Matthew 19,12, the passage about Eunuchs (which will be discussed further on in this series, please God).

Now, did I mention whining above? Perhaps I shouldn’t tread so roughshod over those who never had anyone to invite them to a deeper understanding of their marriage to the Church through the Sacrifice of the Mass they offer daily. I suppose one can be so enthusiastic that others come to know the awesome love that celibacy for the sake of the kingdom of God entails that one gets a bit carried away.

It’s just that I remember when I was much younger than I am now, during one of the first trips of Saint John Paul II to the United States, that a priest was chosen by some Federation of Priests or other to address the Holy Father in the name of all the priests of the United States. “Speak for yourself!” I exclaimed to the television. He went way, way, way over time. No one knew what to do. 15 minutes. 20 minutes. Half hour. 35 minutes. 40. John Paul was most patient throughout the most whining diatribe of cloudy thinking imaginable. The priest’s biggest gripe was that priests are soooooooooooo loooooooooonely. Yep. I bet that’s true… for those who don’t know that they are married to the Church. Anyway, this fellow, although American, was very, very Irish. Finally, he finished. All looked for the response of Pope John Paul. What could he say after this diatribe, this whining, all this “Boohoohoo!” Knowing the priest was Irish, Saint John Paul II simply said — quoting the popular song — “It’s a long way to Tipperary!” Muffled laughter was heard throughout the crowd. JPII is awesome! Here’s the greatest Irish singer ever, ever, singing “It’s a long way…”

Meanwhile, Jesus on the Cross, cites Psalm 22, “My God! My God! Why have you abandoned me?” Lonely, in the very moment when His self-giving to His Bride, the Church, is complete? No. Look at the rest of Psalm 22, and discover the wonderful filial unity with His Father, the trust, respect, the love. No, really, look up Psalm 22 and read it right through. I dare you. This is important. This is the heart and soul of our redemption, of our salvation, of Jesus’ marriage with His bride, the Church. This is the very moment when He is drawing all to Himself. Here is the completion of the wedding vows of the Last Supper which priests offer daily: This is my body given for you in sacrifice, my blood poured out for you in sacrifice. If priests don’t get this, they are absolutely dead in the water. Done. This is the Mass they offer. This is their marriage with their bride, the Church. If they don’t understand the Mass they offer, they are absolutely dead in the water. Done.

Save celibacy for the sake of the kingdom of heaven, save the priesthood.

Save the liturgy, save the priesthood.

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03 – Priestly Celibacy Series – Chastity

mudbowl faith by the sword elijah

This is the football “Mudbowl” jersey I helped to design for the “philosophers” of the seminary where I was teaching. The “name” at the top is for my own jersey only. I was one of the spiritual directors for the philosophers. Note the fiery sword of the great prophet Elijah!

As we continue our series, we’re still establishing some of definition of the terms. It’s all technical vocabulary. It’s worth the effort. Knowledge is good. Truth has good effects. Know the truth. Set the truth free in your life and you will realize that it it The Truth Himself who has set you free. Let’s talk about chastity:

Chastity— to be chaste, comes from castus, the past participle of carere, which means to [be] cut off. The meaning of “cut” is not in reference to castration[!] but refers to the result of living in a manner contradictory to the fallen ways of the world, keeping the commandments, cut off from the utter stupidity of the world specifically to be in awe before God, especially the priest (see ἁγνός – 1 Timothy 5:22).

“Do not lay hands too readily on anyone [in reference to ordination to the priesthood], and do not share in another’s sins. Keep yourself chaste.” (1 Timothy 5:22)

That term, ἁγνός, refers in its most ancient usage, going back to Sanskrit, to one who is set aside for worship. I find that to be most impressive. However, it our present usage:

Everyone is meant to be chaste, so that begetting children in the married state is living chastely. Chastity is holiness of life in regard to sexual morality. Priests are held up as examples in this regard since people have a sense that priests are to know that they are married to the Church, and are therefore to have the ferocity of spousal self-giving that is faithfulness, and this as a faithfulness in their vocation unto death to themselves so as to live for this Bride of Christ, the Church. What a travesty is bad example!

Christ “married” His Bride, the Church, at the Last Supper, with those ferocious wedding vows said by the priest today in the first person singular, acting in the Person of Christ: This is my body, given for you in sacrifice…. This is the chalice of my blood, poured out for you in sacrifice. This is total self-giving to the other, in this case right through death.

Again, if the priest does not realize that he is married to the Church by the very sacrifice that he offers at daily Mass, then surely he will be lost to all sort of sexual idiocy, at least in his spirit if not otherwise.

The sword here is double-edged. The same sword which would cut the priest off from the stupidity of the world, setting him off for worship, for offering the Sacrifice, is the very same sword which is medicinally cut him off from that worship should he fall into such grievous un-chastity that such a cutting off is merited.

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02 – Priestly Celibacy Series – Continence

holy souls hermitage ad orientem 3

As we begin this series, the definitions might seem a bit pedantic, but even these will start to get rather interesting. Anything really worthwhile takes some effort, right? Bear with these first posts! Our first word to describe is continence, which can have a spiritual sense to it, however physical is seems.

Continence — from continentia and continere, means to contain. In its most graphic sense, this refers to the proper containment of sexual behavior, but not at all to the repression of untoward sexual behavior (which repression, as mere repression, is always evil, for mere repression fails to correct problems and is only escapism).

So speak of continent sexual behavior is open to the understanding that one who is continent or contained enjoys a lively peace of soul in that, by grace, he is contained in God, “hidden with Christ in God” as Saint Paul says, happy to walk in God’s presence. To put it another way, when speaking of “containing”, one recalls this from Saint Paul (2 Corinthians 4:5-7):

“We do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for the sake of Jesus. For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to bring to light the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of (Jesus) Christ. But we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.”

Other passages from Saint Paul come to mind:

“Avoid immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the immoral person sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Or how about this one…

“I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2)

One will sometimes read the phrase perpetual continence as referring to the result of undertaking a promise or vow of chastity, so that the application of the word refers to not getting married and having children.

When understood with the nexus virtutum in the Thomistic sense, continence, in reference to temperance, can be said to be a virtue. John Paul II speaks of the “imperative of self-control,” bringing one to “the necessity of immediate continence and of habitual temperance” (27 Oct and 4 Nov, 1984).

Biblically, priests who are incontinent deserve death, such as Hophni and Phinehas, the ever so truly evil sons of Eli, who spent their priesthood raping the women at the entrance of the temple (1 Samuel 2,22).

This description of continence may bring up more questions, and that’s good. The series continues.

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