Category Archives: Priesthood

My internet stalker’s impossible litmus test: damned if I do, damned if I don’t

Eucharistic Congress confession

After Father Thomas Weinandy resigned from his post at the USCCB, I offered this comment on this blog:

“Dear Father Weinandy, I’m hoping that Pope Francis will reject the sycophants at the USCCB and reinstate you for your honestly trying your best to lay self-referential interests aside in favor of the Church and indeed the whole world. We all need such honest friendship. The Holy Father can take or leave what you say, but one should treasure any sincere words that you offer just because first of all they are offered in good faith. The USCCB has made it all about bullying. That’s so sad. I thank you for making it all about Jesus and His Immaculate Bride, the Church. May Mary’s Son strengthen you.”

That’s in this post, check it out: Father Thomas Weinandy: Thank you! Hoping Pope Francis reinstates you.

Later, I received this comment from my internet bully:

“You are leading the good life as a pastor. But are you really, really following Christ? Are you not just swimming with the tide? Why don’t you support Fr Wineandy? Are you looking for a comfortable life?. Are you like the Apostles who when Christ returned the third time found them still sleeping? Are you sleeping like them? Don’t defend or support a bad Pope just because he was nice to you.”

In other words, if there is any priest in good standing actually carrying out his duties as a priest of Jesus Christ in this One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, he is therefore, by definition, a hypocrite, and the only way for him to follow Christ is to resign from active ministry in protest against Pope Francis. That’s the litmus test: resign in protest against Pope Francis or go to hell. No, really! After uncountable messages along these lines, I see this one in the moderation queue, one of the first comments for 2018. This internet bully guy has a mania, and I’m his target. This is, it is said, a citation from one of Padre Pio’s letters:

“And yet, once our last hour has come, and our hearts have ceased to beat, everything will be finished for us and the time to merit as well as to demerit. We will present ourselves to Christ the Judge just as death finds us. Our cries of supplication, our tears, our sighs of repentance, which while still on earth would have won God’s heart, could have made us with the help of the sacraments, saints out of sinners, today is worthless; the time of mercy is passed, now begins the time of justice.”

Nice citation, except that it is about whether I resign in protest against Pope Francis or not. If I resign I am saved. If I don’t resign as a priest in good standing from active ministry as a protest against Pope Francis I am surely then going straight to hell.

Someone who continuously sends such messages citing other-world eternal consequences (going straight to hell) for not complying with a litmus test having this-world life-changing consequences (resigning as a priest in good standing from active ministry as a protest against Pope Francis) – continuously for three full weeks after being asked to stop – is someone who is well able to think that he has a divine mandate to begin that “time of justice” already in this world.

Of course, if I actually resigned just to do it I would be condemned by Jesus for running away from the wolves as a mere hireling. And if I don’t resign then I am already damned by my internet stalker, who I think is at the ready to take “justice” into his own hands.

Golly! I don’t know what to do! Oh, I know! I think I’ll just be faithful to Christ Jesus, continue to be a good son of the Church in the best way I know how, continue to be a priest in active ministry (Hey! I love it!), following Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, the great interventions of the Magisterium of Holy Mother Church, and, with consistency, mind you, also be loyal to Pope Francis, that is, by supporting the person of the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter, the Vicar of Christ, of Christ, mind you, Jesus, the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, He who will come to judge the living and the dead and world by fire. Amen.

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Filed under Amoris laetitia, Bullying, Missionaries of Mercy, Pope Francis, Priesthood

This gunslinger priest: It is to laugh! More updates on the ironies. Ha ha!

wrong way off ramp

October 27, 2017: The first time I had my gun at the ready, brandished and all, was when I was the victim of a carjacking on highway 40 while bringing a retired cop to his major surgery appointment. Lucky for me, nine cruisers showed up just when I needed them, that very second. Thanks to the cops! I’m guessing he was an escapee on the run and they had just gotten a tip he was in the area. The timing was perfect.

The second time I had my gun kind of at the ready was today. With the neighboring priest sick to death, I was on my way to the hospital in his parish in Bryson City to give one of his parishioners the last rites, priest that I am, and I had Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament with me. I was coming down the off ramp at Exit 67 on Interstate 74, clearly marked on the far side with the proper wrong way signs for any would be knucklehead drivers not paying attention, something like the picture above. It’s not a good thing to get on an interstate highway going the wrong way.

Because I was going to a hospital in North Carolina (with the law prohibiting entrance with any gun, concealed or otherwise), and since the trip was almost over, being now only a couple of miles away, I took the gun out of the Serpa Blackhawk holster and secured it otherwise in the vehicle. This is really stupid. You just never know when a critical incident is going to occur.

As I slowed up for the intersection, an ultra-sports sports car, the kind with really wide tires pulled up into the one-lane off ramp coming right at me, going the wrong way. It wasn’t a Corvette or a Lamborghini, but perhaps, if I remember rightly (looking now at some pictures), a Bugatti Veyron (one or two million for the el-cheapo version). It can go 60 mph in 119 feet, 255 mph maxed out (410 kms per hour for those across the pond).

I pulled right into him, decisively, slamming on the brakes with a bit of attitude. I didn’t hit him but my perception was that he fully intended to do what he was doing and he was pretty upset that I had totally blocked his access. It was a man driving with a woman in the passenger seat, both about 65 years old. Were they on a scenic tour of the mountains here in his new car? This was a very elegant looking man and woman. The look of big money. Was he trying to show off to her, racing up the highway the wrong way just until the next exit, perhaps running circles around cars (easy to do in a Bugatti)? My perception was that he wanted an explanation of my behavior and so put his window down halfway even as he continued to go around me in the ditch.  In the ditch. I was fully aware that he could have put his window down a bit so as to shoot me. He did seem to be messing around with something in his lap. In fact, he didn’t say anything. But he was determined to get on the highway going the wrong way. He was still edging forward. It was my perception that it would almost be impossible for him to be making a mistake. Another car came down the off ramp behind me and laboriously went around this scene of mayhem. It couldn’t be clearer that this was on off-ramp, NOT an on-ramp.

I jumped out of Sassy the Subaru with my hands up, waving him off, so as to stop him. My message was unmistakable. He kept moving forward slowly, but it seemed with determination, as he was ignoring my indication to stop. I ran right in front of him and told him with calm authority (where did that come from?) that I wasn’t going to let him go any further. I stared him down like I’m sure he’s never been stared down before. His companion looked scared to death with her hands to the sides of her head while he was looking at my hip. It was my perception that he was intent on going on an adrenaline joy ride. He was still edging forward with the low front of the car getting obnoxiously close to my shins. This is reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon. Did I put myself in danger? Sure. But for every possible reason he could and should stop. And I had every reason in the world to make an attempt to stop him from mortally endangering his life, the life of his companion, and the lives of those on the highway behind me.

It happens that I wear a black and frumpy 5-11 tactical shirt (with Roman collar!) over my Glock 19 which I carry OWB but unseen on my right hip. But when I’m in the car I pull the shirt back behind the Serpa Blackhawk holster so that the gun is immediately available even with the seat belt fastened. I still remember the carjacking and I refuse to be a victim. I forgot that the shirt was still tucked behind the holster even though the gun was itself secured in the car. He saw the holster and couldn’t be sure that there was no gun in it as the shirt flopped over the top opening of the holster in it’s baggy fashion, though without concealing the rest of the holster itself. That’s O.K. North Carolina is an open-carry state also for those who have concealed carry permits but who may happen to want to open-carry on occasion.

So, I didn’t brandish. I never threatened. I wasn’t terrorizing the public with a weapon. I was formulating a plan to perhaps shoot out his tires if he continued to run into me, perhaps over me, that is, if conditions indicated this was the proper thing to do for the safety and welfare of all concerned, including the general public on the roads. I’m practiced enough now that I could shoot out tires that with the certainty of not hitting the occupants. I’ve been run over with extreme violence before, with plenty of shattered bones, so I know what that’s like. I know I can be totally calm in a storm. I know what adrenaline is. So, easy peasy, however intense. It didn’t come to that, thank God. There are plenty of videos on-line demonstrating that personal defense rounds from a 9mm will leave a big enough hole in a reinforced steel-belted extra heavy duty truck tire so as to let the air out in about 15 seconds, so, no worries there. The bullets only go through one wall and generally get stuck coming out the far side.

Anyway, however upset he was, I’m sure he just couldn’t believe what he was seeing what with me wearing the Roman collar and all. I actually think that made him all the more angry and upset, though he just couldn’t fathom what was on my hip. If he was looking to show off with dangerous driving, risking the lives of others, he finally figured out that killing a priest, especially considering what he was doing with his life, would be counterproductive in every way imaginable. He stopped, backed up, and turned his car around. Off he went getting an ear full from his friend.

I was elated as I got back in my car. I looked over to the share-ride parking that is there as I came up to the stop sign at the intersection, and some guy in a pickup, looking very much in the part of an undercover cop, gave me a big thumbs up, which I also returned. I’m sure he also had a good view of what was on my hip. He looked terribly amused to see my Roman collar as well. I was amused that he was amused. I’m sure he was happy to see civilians doing their part, even the clergy. I’m quite sure Jesus was amused as well. I think I give Jesus lots to be amused about.

I was also quite impressed with this incident that you just don’t know when bad things can happen. It can all go down in mere seconds. I gotta thank my guardian angel for arranging the timing of this and for smacking me down to make sure I did the right thing. I could have let him go. But to what end, to kill themselves and others? That’s not right. I realize that this could have all gone south very, very quickly, but that’s O.K. too, isn’t it? I mean, just because something could go wrong doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do the right thing, right? I’m sure Jesus doesn’t mind if we do the right thing. I’m still elated it all went well… and I’m still thanking my guardian angel.

October 28, 2017 (early the next morning): The face of the woman in the passenger seat was burned into my mind, as she framed her head with her hands while reprimanding the driver, who I just assumed was her husband, seeming to be about the same age and all that. When I was on the phone with Father Gordon MacRae this morning (the 28th, still only hours after the incident above), we were sending a note to a lady who is perhaps by definition the most anti-Catholic, anti-priest woman in these United States. (She’s quite willing to receive the messages, by the way). Her photo came up as I started to type in her gmail address. She’s a spitting image of the lady in the car. The face, the age, the exact weird color of hair, the exact exact exact hair-do. Exact amount of lower-chin-fat. Everything. 100%. That’s her. This, I’m sure, was her worst nightmare: to be rescued from malicious death at the hands of her companion by a priest who helps Father Gordon, her biggest nemesis in the universe. Hah hah hah hah hah hah hah! I love it. I just love it. Happy to provide the nightmare. Maybe she will also have, upon reflection of what happened, a better regard for priests. As I say, the angels arrange just this very kind of ironic circumstance. I love it.

December 26, 2017: While doing some editorial work for Father Gordon MacRae, it struck me that I should google-image someone for whom I never had occasion to see an updated picture. Hah hah hah hah hah hah hah! I love it. I just love it. The driver of the Bugati was not her husband, but rather, someone who is, perhaps by definition the most anti-Catholic, anti-priest man in these United States. I didn’t recognize him earlier because, in fact, he’s lost some weight what with all pressure he’s suffering from all the hypocrisy and corruption being uncovered about him, and… and… he’s grown himself a goatee. It was this thinner, goateed guy that I saw. The ironies are so rife it’s hard for me to write this update. Hah hah hah hah hah hah hah! O.K., I’m happy to have saved him from himself as well. I’m not laughing at him with some sort of schadenfreude. I do hope he lives long enough to repent and be on his way to heaven. The angels are more amazing than we can possibly imagine, setting up the timing of such encounters more than we know, perhaps more than we care to know.

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Filed under Abuse, Angels, Guns, Priesthood, Road danger

“Fr Byers, who are you, anyway?” Apologia pro vita mea

With the videos above I poke fun at myself. Sorry for some of the language in them. I apologize to those who actually want an answer to the question about my identity, to those who don’t accept the answer that I am a simple back-mountain priest on the outside of the peripheries. That’s all I am. And I’m happy with that. Truly.

The problem is that there are those who are ferociously asking about my real identity even now as if that question has never been asked before, not knowing that I have been one of the most researched people on the planet by whatever wing of Catholicism, or Protestantism, or atheism, or of whatever religion, Judaism, Islam, or whatever political entity overseas, but most especially by our own intelligence services, the latter being interested because of my “Shadow”, and because and all the hyper-sensitive places I’ve been, all the terrorists with whom I have been “friends,” all the terrorist incidents in which I have in one way or another been involved, all the friends I have on the very highest levels in the military, in intelligence services, in the Church. But, hey! You newcomers! Go for it!

The question is, of course, why the interest in me? By all accounts, I am just another boring priest among the million or so priests on the face of the earth. I am just one more boring person among the billions of people who are presently alive. So, why me?

Inside the Church, the ultra-liberal swamp rats think that I am their hero because of some of the rather extraordinary people I know and the type of degrees I have behind my name, thinking that anyone with those qualifications (those people and those institutions) has to be one of the more dangerous-to-the-status-quo people on the face of the earth, and so I am welcomed, until they get to know me, but even then, their suspicions that I am way to the right in their estimation remains merely suspicion, for I simply can’t be of Tradition if I know their darlings and have the degrees I do. They think I am just being very, very clever, more political than they could imagine could be possible. Their question remains: “Who are you, anyway?”

Inside the Church again, the ultra-traditional-ism-ists treat me the same way, suspicious that I am a filthy liberal because of the people I know and the degrees that I have, and yet are confused by the things I have done in my life, doing more for the reinstatement of the Traditional liturgy (more than the Mass, also the sacraments and exorcism, etc), than most all of them put together. They think all that is subterfuge, a cover. “Who are you, anyway?” they scream, condemning me as one of those “priests” who loves “mercy,” but then wondering what is going on because they never see me embrace any heresy, any leftist position, so that they simply hate that I won’t hate who they hate as much as they hate, or even hate at all. They think I am a careerist, but then watch in amazement how I throw away “career” after “career.” I could certainly have had a multitude of careers in the Church, could have long been a bishop, actually archbishop at this stage, the problem being that I just won’t compromise, not to protect my record of not compromising, but because I believe in serving Jesus. But that is what they will not accept. “Who are you, anyway?” they scream again.

I suppose I should give a few examples. Early on I was invited to go to the Academia Ecclesiastica, but I turned that down with the excuse that I just would not make a career of compromising my priesthood. That was very offensive to some career diplomats, believe me. I’m sure many are devout believers. Some are anything but that. I knew quite a bit about those who were beholden more to the State than to Jesus. I have a lot of friends. But I felt I was too weak to last as a believer in such settings. Either I would cave in or be removed as useless to the ways of compromise. So, why bother? That’s just the way it was. That’s a confession about how bad and evil I was. Then there was a now long-deceased ecclesiastical superior who wanted to pull some strings and have me appointed as one of the Inquisitors at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, but I dissuaded him as well. At the time, among some in the CDF, it was all about how to please bishops. I just couldn’t do it, fearful that I wouldn’t be able to remain faithful to Jesus, fearful that I would simply be removed as someone useless to the world of compromise. Mind you, the CDF did do some great things at the time under then Cardinal Ratzinger, especially the ghost-writing of the official interpretation of Canon 915 (upon which I had some incisive influence from afar). Anyway, there was also a push to get me into the Congregation for the Clergy, and the Congregation for Saints, heck, after my time at Vatican Radio, even Communications at their new offices was put before me. The biggest career I turned down, however, was to go to teach at a certain University in Buenos Aires, where I’m quite sure I would have in no time (if not from the very beginning) been put in administrative positions as a jumping board to other things. I turned that down because the whole thing seemed geared to smashing down my faithfulness to Jesus. I was afraid of my weakness, afraid of being removed as someone useless to political correctness of compromise. I have to wonder what would have happened between Father and then Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio and myself, what with our common friends. I have to wonder what would have been the future of the ghost writing of Amoris laetitia, if, instead, I would have written that in a manner manifestly reflecting the teaching of the Church. I am a failure, I suppose, for not having taken up those careers in the Church. I am certainly a failure for having been fearful of anything at the time. I have only since then learned by the grace of God not to fear anything, ever. Why? Because Jesus is the One. He’s the only One.

Anyway, outside the Church, because of my life-time relationship of sorts with my “Shadow” (which has nothing to do with me, by the way), the State Department, Department of Justice, Department of Defense and various and sundry operators of any and all military or intelligence backgrounds have long wondered and frequently asked, always after long investigations and always with frustration, “Who are you, anyway?” This has become, over many decades and with countless examples, both humorous and predictable. Some, if they are good guys, just do what they are told in my regard (because of the “Shadow” thing) or they are afraid to bring it further to Pompeo or Tillerson because their own treasonous behaviors would be brought to light, especially now, but that’s another story, that is, as to how I’ve been trying to bring those treasonous behaviors to light. At this point, it seems that my “Shadow” has successfully turned the tables so that it must be me who is the Gray Man, in which case the question, “Who are you, anyway?” becomes both a protection and liability. It has, in fact, always been this way. It is what it is. There are benefits. There are drawbacks.

As it is, throughout my life my identity has been a standing “inside joke” for me and Jesus, for He has given me the grace which He willingly gives to all, the grace not to be novel, that is, no novelties, with the point being that only One who is important, the only One who has anything to say, is Jesus. He’s the One. He’s the only One. We are to our utmost to be instruments of His, letting His love and truth and goodness and truth and kindness and truth and mercy and truth be manifested through us. We are to have nothing of our own, no identity apart from Him. It’s all about Him. He is ever ancient, ever new. I am far from it, but it would be my hope to say that if there is anything that is ecclesial and of God in my life, that people will say: “Look at that. That’s not Fr George. That’s Jesus. Thank God for his great mercy.”

At the rare time that circumstances are such that it is important not to be novel, not to compromise, not to betray Jesus as regards Church or State, I have not compromised, ever. This is in itself so very novel, you know, not to embrace the novelty of being a “man of consensus”, not to embrace being a coward, that I have also been condemned as someone who promotes “admiratio” for this very reason. Ironic how that works. The very attempt to respect faith and morals, the attempt not to be Promethean, not to be neo-Pelagian, not to be self-absorbed, or self-referential, not to be corrupt, is the very thing which makes people condemn me as being all those things, for, they say, only someone full of himself, arrogant and Pharisaical, would want to be different from them, and instead want to be in solidarity with some sort of Sign of Contradiction. “Who are you, anyway?” they scream, wanting to know how it is that I could possibly not cave into their bullying ways. I could give a thousand examples regarding faith or morals or national security. But why bother? I have learned that people are not interested in arguments. They are only interested in pushing and pushing and pushing to see if, for real, there is faithfulness. In all their cynicism, they want to know if faithfulness is possible in this world. In the end, it’s all about being smashed down and, even while being smashed down, saying with Jesus’ love and truth and goodness and kindness and mercy: “I forgive you. I want to see you in heaven.” And in that way, there is no compromise, no novelty, nothing of me, only Jesus. I’m sure I’m not there yet. I am totally weak. But He gives me the grace to want to be nothing, that is, for Jesus, that is, to have no identity apart from Him, so that He can use me for what He wants, that is, His love, His truth, His goodness, His kindness, His mercy.

The “inside joke” is all about what happens. Here’s the deal: when you don’t compromise, you will get smashed down, hard. There are damned if you do, damned if you don’t situations, but you don’t compromise. There are horrific circumstances, but you don’t compromise. All is hopeless, completely hopeless, but you don’t compromise. And then you are smacked down, hard. O.K. But then, in remaining faithful in all things, Jesus picks you up. He makes life so very, very interesting in this way. How boring non-faithfulness must be. In contrast, the vistas of faith upon panoramas of hard reality are exhilarating. No amount of darkness can quench the bond of love with God that God Himself puts into our hearts. And this is one thing that is novel. This is something new. It is God’s love among us, Emmanuel. But Jesus brings that newness, not us. We can only receive that newness when we have nothing new of our own, nothing novel, no identity of our own.

Who am I, anyway? I hope for a love which casts out all fear. I hope one day to say that I am nobody, nothing, that Jesus is my All. I hope to say that Jesus is the One, that He’s the only One, that I find my identity in Him, that He finds me and brings me into the reality of love and truth.

P.S. At the moment, someone is condemning me as someone who is enjoying the all too easy life of a pastor on the peripheries. If only they knew! Well, I must say that I love being a priest, a pastor, and on the peripheries. I love being a priest. I love watching Jesus, the Priest, at work. I love everything about any possible way and manner of being a priest. It is true that an intellectual / academic “career” would be tough, as the Common Doctor says when commenting on the brightness of a halo in the Summa, as there is a 1000 times more anguish for the flock in such circumstances. In this regard I would absolutely love being the or one of the Papal Theologians (though I’m not a Dominican). My goodness, the things I could write on Genesis, on ecumenical cooperation with biblical manuscripts (going to the heart of ecumenism), on the women of the Gospels, on papal infallibility, on reaching out to the Orthodox, on being a missionary, on mercy, on the formation of seminarians… But, I am here, and I am also happy where I am, in the tiniest parish in North America, in the most remote place possible. I love it. That’s who I am, one who is in love with everything about The Priest, Jesus.

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Filed under Father Byers Autobiography, Missionaries of Mercy, Priesthood, Vocations

When I was in prison you visited me. Christmas Card from Fr G and P-Max

I think this is the best message I’ve ever received on a printed Christmas card. This is written by a real believer:

img_20171215_1949482059700110.jpg

And then there is the hand written message. This is surely the best message that I’ve ever received on a hand-written Christmas card. And yet, it is very distressing. I share this with you not to toot my own horn, but to remind you of the state of affairs that we presently have in the Church, whereby those who are thrown on the trash heap of expediency of no due process are left to rot by their “friends” and comrades in arms, as it were:

img_20171215_194723313549326.jpg

Perhaps it’s just that I absolutely don’t care what other people think about my being in solidarity with those in prison. And as it is, prison is wherever you happen to be, whether in or out of any stone walls, because it is also a matter of the spirit.

We were all in the prison of original sin and whatever other rubbish sin in our own lives, and Christ Jesus put Himself in our place, allowing Himself to be imprisoned overnight after His condemnation by the Sanhedrin and before His condemnation by Pontius Pilate. We were all useless sinners, dark, egotistic, having no merit of which to boast, in the prison of self-limited spirits.

Jesus didn’t put any limit on visiting prisoners. He didn’t say to visit only those who are innocent or who didn’t receive proper due-process of law (such as Father Gordon and Pornchai Maximilllian of Christmas card fame above). He didn’t say to visit only those who believe in Him. Jesus is our Savior, that is, yours and mine as well. Jesus simply wants us to share the greatest love of our lives – Jesus – with others, particularly with those who especially need His love. This is the way to evangelize. It’s like teaching a class: involve the troublemakers on the fringes and the rest of the class will excel all the more. But not for that purpose, but because that troublemaker is himself redeemed and loved by the Creator and Savior of the world. After all, I’m that troublemaker and people helped me.

People are afraid to do any of this also for the reason that they will be “tainted” because, you know, you have that kind of prisoner as your friend?! Therefore you must be a criminal in the same way as that kind of prisoner. But, secretly, such a bully with such an opinion is envious of the freedom of the children of God to share the greatest love in their lives. And then they throw tantrums all the more.

As far as priests go, it’s extremely rare for me to find a priest who is indignant that his fellow priests are subjected to a system of no-due-process. So many are eager to side with no-due-process so that they can look tough, like heroes. Really? It will all catch up with them. What’s my answer to all that?

I recommend letting love cast out all fear and self-congratulation and simply sharing the greatest love of our lives with all those whom Christ Jesus has already redeemed on the Cross. All are redeemed. We are to desire that all be saved even if not all will be saved. It’s just that we don’t know who’s who, and so we must be in anguish to evangelize until we draw our last breath in this world.

There are those who think that anyone who has sinned, ever, are hopeless, useless, and to be condemned, no forgiveness, no mercy. But they include themselves in this. Those who show no mercy will not receive mercy. But just know that Father G and P-Max are visiting you in your prison by praying for you.

After all, that the irony isn’t it? That by visiting those in prison we ourselves are set free?

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Filed under Missionaries of Mercy, Priesthood, Vocations

Defending innocents – Loving enemies – Love overrides fear using it as a tool: stopping active shooters in churches

consecration-

ISIS is threatening terrorist events at Christmas time on specifically Catholic churches. Distinctions are necessary. Priests should be clear-headed about such things. Fear in the face of terrorism isn’t always a bad thing. But there are a number of kinds of fear, some good, some bad. Let’s take just a peek at both, starting with bad fear:

  • Bad fear, arising from our own insecurities, causes misplaced priorities, causing mistakes, causing imprudence bringing about reactions which might well bring about one’s own injury or death, or the same for innocent by-standers, or the same for the perpetrator in an unnecessary and unjustified escalation of force.
  • The insecurities causing bad fear regard any lack of readiness to leave this world considering one’s loved ones or one’s own responsibilities and dreams and plans or regarding any lack of personal spiritual preparedness for entering into eternity: if one isn’t ready to let go, if one hasn’t discussed this with loved ones and advisers, if one isn’t prepared to understand that it is a real possibility that one might not be able to get out of a threat or possibly might not be able to deescalate troubles, well then, bad things are probably going to happen: see above.
  • Bad fear casts out all love. I know a priest who said that he would absolutely for certain abandon his flock to the wolves so that he could come back later and be a priest another day. I attempted to instruct him that with that attitude, he wasn’t even now being a pastor of the flock. Perhaps he despaired of being able to do something about bad fear, and simply gave up.

Love casts out bad fear by having us depend on the Lord’s good love, not our own. Just to say, there is good fear and love can put that good fear to good use. Let’s take a peek:

  • Good fear regards the God-given good instinct for self-preservation. We can’t simply explain quite stupidly — “NO FEAR!” — thinking that that will bear out to be true in a critical incident situation. Good fear is a necessity and can be used to provide oneself with a good education in understanding and noting indicators of danger, to obtain good training, to keep oneself on edge with ever changing drills but also basic mechanics. Good fear puts an immediacy on prudently evaluating whatever situation. Good fear opens oneself up to having before oneself any number of possible avenues of recourse while choosing quite instantaneously the right course of action.
  • Good fear is the beginning of wisdom. Good fear is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Good fear places one before all eternity with all the prerequisite changes in one’s priorities, with all the security one has in one’s participation in God’s self-sacrificing love, looking forward to entering into all eternity if that becomes a necessity that one risks, as it were, in taking up such a life and life-style.
  • Good fear respects God’s justice, that is, with all piety, rendering honor to whom honor is due in justice.

Now, such analysis doesn’t mean that one doesn’t love one’s enemy, the active shooter, who is injuring or killing innocents. Our dear Lord can well sort out the results of one’s intervention in which one has put oneself at risk to stop the perpetrator. Recall what our Lord said just before being tortured to death, laying down His own life, the Innocent for the guilty: “Father, forgive them! They don’t even know what they are doing.” Defending the innocent doesn’t mean anything about the judgment of the perpetrator. Defending the innocent doesn’t mean that one is cruel or mean. One can retain one’s love of God and neighbor even when pulling the trigger on a perpetrator who is actively injuring and/or killing others or oneself.

Being a priest myself, I was asked whether or not, after myself hypothetically pulling the trigger and neutralizing any immediate and mortal threat, I would then proceed to absolve the sin of the criminal involved, if, for instance, the same fellow, being Catholic, did not refuse the sacrament as he might be actively dying, or was, in the same state, also unconscious. I would, of course, offer such an absolution. For instance, present insanity, in which case he is not guilty of any malice, does not exclude the forgiveness of any past sin at the possible moment of death. There is no sin too great that God’s mercy cannot provide forgiveness. But unrepented presumption of mercy is a sin against the Holy Spirit, for which there is no forgiveness, but that’s on the perp, not me. God’s the Judge.

“Defending innocents and loving enemies” — They’re not subject to the law of non-contradiction. Jesus is just that good and just that kind. Amazing, huh?

P.S. The flip-side of this last scenario would be whether or not a defender, having neutralized a threat against innocent, should be absolved from sin. I would never absolve such a person for doing such a violent thing because it is not sinful but rather virtuous and indeed heroic to defend the innocent from catastrophic injury and death. People wrongfully feel guilt for any number of things, including merely having happened to see a violent incident. Wrongfully forgiving that which was always innocent only seals people in wrong-headed guilt, which action on the part of the wrongful “forgiver” is IMHO a sin. It’s that kind of puritanesque being-above-the-fray judgment on good defenders which throws good people into the hell of PTSD, making them victims of holier-than-thou bullying instead of helping them to be one with everyone, which they were to begin with, and certainly much more so than any self-appraised do-gooders.

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priest gunslingers vs active shooters

saint gabriel possenti patron

The Saint Gabriel Possenti Society recalls the time when the now canonized saint saved a young lady from being raped by employing the tools he had at hand.

The need for using tools to ward off untoward violence even in Saint Podunk parish church that seats 25 people isn’t a thing of the past. Active shooter critical incidents and terrorist attacks are happening as frequently in these USA as they are anywhere in the world, whether in the podunk church or the mega-church. It’s time to harden the softest of all soft targets. ISIS is promising hits on Catholics on Christmas.

Choosing to familiarize oneself with the proper tools so as to be of service to one’s neighbor is a life decision, a life-style decision. Getting class-room training and being legal with any permits isn’t enough. One has to do drills and hopefully also scenario training with some frequency.

As I myself begin to become familiarized with my G19 (it’s only been a year and some since I fired my first shot out of a pistol), I’ve practiced with any number of target sizes and distances, moving and stationary, but have never seen anything like the pre-9-11 Air Marshal qualification put together by Tom Bullins. It was severely dumbed down after 9-11 since almost no one was able to pass even once. Few instructors in the nation were able to make the grade. So it was dumped. But the original course can still be pieced together and put into practice on a private range using the QIT-97 (the QIT-99 if you want to show off). This is the best explanation I’ve seen for the “old” Federal Air Marshall TPC Course.

On the day off the other day I tried to pass all seven stages 100% twice. But that, mind you, was just to get used to the times and what needed to be done. This wasn’t coming in cold before a flight or set of flights as was otherwise the case back in the day when Air Marshals were Air Marshals. Mind you, I bet today’s Air Marshals most likely practice on this old course on their own. For myself, there were many failures of time and accuracy in between getting familiarized with the seven stages. 1/10 second overtime failure on even one of the seven stages would disqualify an Air Marshall from flying. Wow. That’s jaw dropping. Trying out each stage was truly hilarious, what with spinning about and dropping down while changing out mags and shooting, etc. All stages are insanely difficult, but because of that, a challenge and therefore enjoyable.

A Navy vet in the parish recommended that I trade in my Glock for a Sig p320 (with the voluntary military upgrade). I’m considering that. There are many versions of the p320. I hate the idea of safeties. I really like the Glock “safe-action.” But, as I say, there are different versions. That needs investigation.

Meanwhile, there is much discussion about churches having “plans” which also include those who carry. I would like to approach this with some preparation and common sense with input from law enforcement. I understand that some law enforcement has been encouraged to provide programs for churches by the FBI. I’d like to look into that.

What I would like to see among parishioners who carry with permit is that they are well practiced, are level headed, and know what they are doing.

Or should Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows just said a Hail Mary while the girl was getting raped, you know, in case his actions with tools might otherwise escalate the situation? It is instead virtuous to contribute to the virtue of justice with the defense of the innocent when this is appropriate and prudent and possible to accomplish in appropriate and prudent and possible ways. While use of guns is a last resort, it is sometimes the only possibility.

People who deny this want to use Jesus and the Church to deny reality, and smash down anyone who gets in their way. Whatever. Jesus was and is a realist. And Saint Gabriel is still a canonized saint.

 

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The priest is a parable

Look closely…

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Homily 2017 09 27 Forgiving Priests!

This is what our Lord thinks about having patience with priests and bishops and Apostles. Yikes!

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The Feast Day news for Pastor Byers – “God made you special”

God made you special rock

This was to be seen in the flower bed at the entrance of Prince of Peace Catholic Mission this past weekend. One recalls the saying of Jesus about even the likes of me crying out (Luke 19:37-40):

“Now as He was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of his disciples began to praise God aloud with joy for all the mighty deeds they had seen. They proclaimed: ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.’ Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples.’ He said in reply, ‘I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!’

On the one hand, just another stone, but, on the other hand, one that can cry out.

Mind you, this was just after the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. On the feast itself I had been thinking, “What does the Lord have in mind for me this year?” I knew there was something, but what I had no idea. The Feast Days of the birth of John the Baptist (June 24) and the beheading of John the Baptist (August 29) and then the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (September 14) and of Our Lady of Sorrows (September 15) have always been very significant days for me spiritually. Big things. Like receiving my vocation to the priesthood back in June of 1962 (2 and 1/2 years old) or Pontifical teaching appointments, or leaving for and arrival at various assignments.

I don’t think that the Bishop of the Diocese here knew this at all when he just assigned me as Pastor to the parish here on September 14, 2017, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. I told everyone that this was a demotion from my status up to this time as Administrator for the Bishop, as I had joked that such a canonical situation surely had supplied me with plenipotentiary powers of the bishop, and now, as a canonical Pastor, was limited to the ecclesial powers envisioned by the mere law itself. Ha ha. But no, I am very happy to have a more ecclesially sanctioned and stable position from which a proper cura animarum might shine forth forthwith.

Behold, the letter. Be impressed. Our Bishop writes the best letters in the world.

george david byers pastor 1

george david byers pastor 2

“Life is changed, not ended!”

Actually, this did much good for my soul. I think some mental blocks about moving in to the rectory fully have been lifted. Getting organized well will be a boon for writing. Meanwhile, all goes on as before. Communion calls and nursing homes and hospices and far flung trips to hospitals. All in the beautiful beautiful beautiful mountains.

Oh, and, by the way, our Lord is also The Rock of our Salvation.

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Jesus: God or Savior or Friend or…

jesus baptism

Jesus: God, Savior, Friend

There was a question on the blog a while back as to whether we can ever approach Jesus as God and Friend but not keeping in mind so much that He is also our Savior, even while not at all denying in any way that Jesus is objectively God and Friend and Savior. The question is more about, it seems to me, whether or not, subjectively, an emphasis can be put on Jesus as a Divine Friend, fearing that that might be off the rails.

Giving a short answer at the time, I think I said that as a tiny little kid of say two or three years old and just learning how to pray, I might not have been paying too much attention to the redemptive action of God’s Divine Son among us, and more that God was looking down upon me from heaven.

To be more specific – I remember this well – I was directly, immediately aware, as it were, that I was God’s tiny little boy, so that the emphasis is on a filial relationship with God, God in all His majesty, mind you, but God who to whom I belonged as a son, not just His creature, that too, but with a bond of love. From time to time we hear people say that their mom or dad or both are best friends as well. With God, a filial relationship is not not exclusive of friendship but necessitates that friendship: God is interested with and wants to be involved with everything we do so that we walk in His presence.

But even as a tiny little kid, I knew there was more, both in learning how to pray always (not that I have prayed always!), and in my own priestly vocation experience at 2 and a 1/2 years old – as clear to me today as it was then: God needs to work with me and others because we are inadequate in our response to His gracious good and kind love in all truth. As I’ve described at length elsewhere, this was part and parcel of my vocation, with an emphasis on the fact that priests in particular need help. And we do.

As time went on I began to get to know what Saint John speaks about in the Apocalypse, His seeing Jesus as a Lamb with the wounds of slaughter upon Him (so that He should be dead) but standing (and so gloriously risen from the dead). In other words, He is divine, He is our friend (as He Himself called us), but He is always wanting to reveal to us the full extent of His love in all truth to us. This is not a punishment, an incrimination, but always and even in heaven an invitation to rejoice in this love in truth all the more. Think on that. Not an incrimination. Not setting us back on our heals. But rather an invitation to rejoice in goodness and kindness. Remember Thomas reaching his hand into the side of Jesus, in which case it is not possible except to touch the still pierced open Heart of Jesus: “My Lord and my God…” This is not a dumbing down of the divinity and friendship put before us, but a lifting of us into that friendship right into the life of the Most Holy Trinity, always through, with and in Jesus, we made by the Holy Spirit to be members of His Mystical Body.

When we touch the pierced Heart of Jesus, how can we not share the greatest love of our lives with others? I think that humble thanksgiving in all rejoicing is always the Way to go. This is reality. I cannot imagine any other way. All praise to the divine Heart which wrought our Salvation. Amen.

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Loneliness in the priesthood. Solutions.

rescue by helicopter

Analogy in this picture: The Priest is the one drowning; the rescuer is…

Father, I had dinner with a new […] Priest last night. I asked him what one thing surprised him the most about being a Priest, and he replied “the loneliness.” [Picking that one thing, meaning that it’s among other things and stands out as the most important among all things, and that he’s come to this point so soon, and that he’s telling you, a layman, is rather revelatory, or not. See below]. I felt very saddened by this as I listened. [Since I’m not privy to that, the meaning is wide open.] It wasn’t until this morning that I realized that I could (should?) have asked him what the faithful might do to help dispel hid loneliness. [If they could and would is extremely unlikely. It can happen, but… See later comments.] I had no presence of mind. [See “if they could or would” above, which is not the layman’s fault. Don’t beat yourself up.]

Anyway, I once asked you about approaching a Priest in regard to Confession (his personal practice) and you gave me very good advice on how NOT to go about it – thank you. So I now ask you (and for the benefit of other members of the laity who may read our exchange): What can the laity do to combat/prevent a Priest’s loneliness? [Hmmm….] What might the signs be? [Real loneliness is frustration because of wrongheadedness about expectations, a frustration, even worse, cut off from any hand up, giving up looking for a hand up because… of ever so predictable unrepeatable circumstances when that certain wrongheadedness prevails.]

I have read, somewhere, that this is a common malady [absolutely true among, say, military chaplains who are constantly changing assignments to places where no one speaks any language you could possibly learn with any speed, with no other priests around even for very extended periods of time. Lots of alcoholism], but it did not register as anything I should trouble myself about until I heard the sad words from a Priest’s mouth for myself. Please advise us.

The short answer is one you already know: the harder you try with banalities the more you will fail. I can’t remember if it’s the story of Blessed Charles Eugène de Foucauld, when he was still a knucklehead party boy and not a yet someone who knows Christ, that the more of a party boy he was, the more knuckleheads around him, the more he wanted to go and commit suicide. The answer isn’t smothering someone with attention and company and keeping someone busy and involved blah blah blah. All of that merely intensifies loneliness, reinforcing the impression that the loneliness cannot be escaped through circumstances we can control, doing this or doing that. And that’s when escapes become self-destructive, like the alcoholism thing.

There is a longer answer. But it asks more questions. First of all, I think that most all priests have no idea what they are saying when they say they are lonely:

  • In saying they are lonely, do priests mean that they have no idea of the positive life of celibacy, of chastity for the sake of the Kingdom of the heavens, not knowing that they are married to the Church by the Sacrifice of the Mass that they offer, repeating the wedding vows daily of total giving of self to the Bride: This is my body given for you in sacrifice, the chalice of my blood poured out for you in sacrifice… This is actually likely; I’m guessing that one would be pressed to find any seminary in the world that says that explicitly, and reinforces it with formation conferences and spiritual direction until the seminarian lives this as the driving force of his perfect chastity. I mean, if a priest is constantly living regret he’s a catastrophe waiting to happen, and he already is a catastrophe, unconvinced of what he’s doing. That does no good to anyone. “I wish I were married,” he says to himself. Crap. He already is married and he doesn’t even know it. Instruction and formation and direction is much needed, the sooner the better. This needs priestly conversation. I need to up my series on priestly celibacy once again.
  • In saying he is lonely, does he merely mean that he misses having any specifically priest around with whom he can spend some time in recreation with common interests, such as mountain climbing, sharp shooting, hiking, going on pilgrimages, having a priestly book club with a meal they all prepare, or just a priest with whom he can, on occasion, perhaps over a stiff drink, solve all the problems of the church and the world, but again, with priests that think as he does not just on those things, but about Jesus Christ, Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception? Not having those opportunities isn’t real loneliness. This is just a bit of a cross to carry until he can get like minded priests to join him, or he them, in whatever. Friendship with the laity is great! Hey! Really wonderful! But friendship with good priests is so very important.
  • In saying he is lonely, is he really talking about real and wonderful progress in the spiritual life? Saint John of the Cross says that it is a terrible mistake, a kind of worst possible sin for a spiritual director to make, to say that all loneliness is evil and bad. As we progress in the spiritual life, Jesus reveals to us what He saved us from, and that includes, at its worst, feeling all the effects of original sin and whatever of our own rubbish, the worst effect of which is being alone, cut off from God and others, feeling that being cut off. Yikes! We are not our feelings. If this loneliness is actually spiritual progress, what we want to do is to recognize that Jesus is still with us in all the chaos (and this is discernible, that good and kind presence of Jesus) and say this to Him: “Jesus, wow, now I see more why we had to be saved. Thank you for coming into this world, knowing what we are like and what we would do to you, letting yourself be ‘abandoned’ on the Cross, right to death, so that you have the right in your justice to have mercy on us. I should hope that the priest would learn over a lifetime to carry, with Jesus, the loneliness of the world as he offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, you know, during the consecrations, the greatest moment of unity and love in all truth. “My God, My God, Why?” Note the unending filial union with His Heavenly Father.
  • In saying he is lonely, does the priest really mean that there are no good priests around him, that is, priests who believe, who are pious, who are respectful and reverent and honestly good and kind and welcoming, who “always have the billy (the tea-kettle) on the boil,” with the door open, with open ears, with affability, with time. Really honest to goodness good priests are lonely in a bad way when they expect that there are priests to be found everywhere you look who are also best friends with Jesus. There are those. But in some places they can very very few. A good priest must be good to other priests himself, regardless of what the others are like. A good priest must be first of all good friends with Jesus, meaning that he knows already that not all priests are good friends with Jesus. Loneliness, again, comes from the frustration of too high expectations with no way out. Hopelessness. If one expects faithfulness in this world, one will be disappointed. If one finds a priest by chance who knows Jesus, ahhh! This is to rejoice. Again I will say, Rejoice! Having no great expectation except in Jesus will also shield one from loneliness.
  • One of the hardest things for priests to do is to go to confession, though they should be going very frequently, always frosty, always humbly thankful to our Lord, and if a priest should hear in answer to his question – “Father, could you hear my confession?” – an immediate: “Sure, right away, and then you hear mine, O.K.?”… well, in that case, I would say that there would be no real loneliness to be found (see above for distinctions). If instead, one is confronted with laughter, or scorn, or simply has the door closed on him, or your last confession is repeated to you with sarcasm outside of confession, well, this is devastating. But even this is not necessarily the depressive frustration of hopeless loneliness unless one’s expectations are too high. One can experience the agony of the garden of Gethsemane with Jesus, one can groan over Jerusalem, but this doesn’t speak of loneliness in and of itself. Grief speaks to sorrow, which comes from love. The one who has love is not lonely, perhaps in great agony and darkness, but not lonely. There’s a huge difference. But I’m guessing most priests just label any of the above as being “lonely” when it’s absolutely not necessarily so, and it would be mistaken, even catastrophic, to guess wrongly.

In other words, we’re pretty complex. Just one other good priest, saintly priest, is a boon in any priests life. I’ve been in dioceses around the world where one would wonder if there is even one good priest who is best friends with Jesus, and then I would meet a saintly fantastic priest suffering there. Great! In the diocese where I am, so very many dozens of priests are really good priests, really good, with some real saints, with others really wanting to make progress (and that’s really really good).

I’m trying to wrack my brains to find a time when I was truly lonely. There have been some very tough times in my life, like hell, truly, like hell, wow, real suffering, and from priests, for years. But nothing that would fit the hopelessness of the worst scenario of real loneliness above. And I guess that’s the key, having hope. Hope isn’t just about the future, it’s about a future which is already tied to one right now. Grace turns to glory, as Saint Paul says. We already have one foot in heaven. We walk at risk of going to hell, and yet walk in the presence of the living God, with an angel guardian who sees the face of God in heaven right now. Of this I am and have always been absolutely convinced, that is, about the angels. Their wit and humor and mirth and love and justice and IRONY is unstoppable and does not in the least tolerate any loneliness. Never! How can one be truly lonely with such love and goodness and kindness and friendship at all times and in non-stop solidarity?

So, a bit of discernment, a bit of spiritual direction from a good fellow priest would be good. Priests themselves speaking to each other about the spiritual realities of being an alter Christus, of acting in the person of Christ, speaking of the experience of the Holy Spirit when preaching, speaking of the dynamics of the family of faith from the point of view of being a priest with Jesus… these are all things that only priests can do together. If the laity were to help out their priests when they see him withdraw, becoming distant, whatever —  you’ll know it when you see it — hey! Why not arrange, if it is a big enough parish, for priest get-togethers, which the laity put on for the priests, maybe doing the barbecue or supplying what’s needed and letting them alone? In one diocese there were 40 Hours celebrations, which would be staggered on different weekends, ending Sunday evenings. All priests are invited to the meal after. Really nice. Good priests can get to know each other. This is extremely helpful.

Perhaps this sounds a bit mean, exclusive, you know, “good” priests and all that. What about the liberal ones, who deny doctrines and morals of the Church? Let me be the prophet and say that once those good priests get to know each other and get the plot, as it were, really understand, they will naturally want to invite the liberal crowd so as to bring them over to the side of Christ. This is how it works.

Loneliness, real loneliness, in not acceptable, not for one second, ever. Amen.


Missionary of Mercy Divine Mercy Box donation

For those I see to be in need. To increase amount change times $5.00 is charged.

$5.00

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A day in the life: an Appalachian priest

cloudy ridge mountains

Today’s one of those days which I love so very much. I get to drag Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament around all of His beautiful creation. I’m the designated ecumenical chaplain today at our local hospital for a service that has to be at 2:00 PM. So, I’ll race up to Robbinsville for the Noon Mass, race back to Murphy for that service, bringing the Blessed Sacrament for those Catholics in the Nursing Home there as well (one is 89 years old), and then race up to Fontana on the far side of creation for another Communion Call (she’s 92 years old), and then backtrack yet again to another on the back side of another of these among the tallest mountains in these Eastern United States (he’s 97 years old), then race back over the most dangerous road in the world (after Yungas Road, of course!) to go above the airport in Andrews for a hospice stop (she’s I think 89 years old). It’s it’s not too late, I’ll stop at see another gentleman for a Communion Call who I didn’t get to see yesterday (I think he’s now in his late eighties).

I totally love all these people. I totally love being a priest, and being a priest in the mountains. It’s so beautiful I could scream. I just love it. It’ll be a lot of hard, hard miles on Sassy the Subaru Forester, but she loves getting a work out too.

P.S. I’m experimenting again with timed publication for posts, so that this one is timed to go out at 11:00 AM. The last time I tried this, the post disappeared entirely, and couldn’t be found in drafts or anything. We’ll see what happens.

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My friend, père René Laurentin RIP – Genesis 3:15, Exorcism, Mariology

PIB Rome

Father René Laurentin (RIP – October 19, 1917 – September 10, 2017). See his wiki. His doctoral work, a collection of the comments of the Fathers of the Church throughout the early centuries throughout the ancient world in whatever ancient language specifically on Genesis 3:15, duly received a footnote in my own thesis on Genesis. We both have our publications on the shelves of the PBI. I thank him for his dedication and patience in putting such an opus together. No small feat. A real treasure.

I first got to know Father Laurentin in the 1990s at a world wide get-together of exorcists across the crater from Castel Gondolfo. We had quite the discussion about the title to a paper I wrote for the occasion on exorcism legislation in Canon Law. The title was in Greek, citing Mk 5:7:  ὁρκίζω σε τὸν θεόν. It’s actually Satan who, incredibly, makes brave to speak those words, attempting stupidly to put Jesus under an exorcism in the name of God the Father. Father Laurentin couldn’t wrap his mind around the double accusative in the Greek. To my shame, I admit that I decided on that title on purpose, knowing it was tricky. I’m evil and bad. Sorry Father. Please forgive me. I was young and rambunctious. Father Laurentin has also written on exorcism, as one might have predicted from his work on Genesis 3:15. Good for him.

There were other occasions for us to have a good chat, such as when I was a permanent chaplain at Lourdes. It was his practice to stay with the chaplains when he came to Lourdes. I asked him about his equivocation of religion and nationality for those in the former Yugoslavia, saying that, instead, the locals knew the difference between the two, with the upshot being that his publicized and controversial rationalization for apparent religious indifferentism proposed by the “apparition” in Medjugorje was illegitimate and that the “apparition” was wrong to have such a laissez-faire ecclesiology. I know he was already older at that time, but I wanted to give him a chance to recant. Pope Francis did the right thing.

Then there was the time I met Father Laurentin at the very top of the tower of “Vatican Bank”, and before that, up in the Apostolic Palace, a number of times…

Father is a complex figure. We are all that, complex. Some of his writings I didn’t much like, others I did like, a lot. Apart from that…

Father Laurentin was always the gentleman, always the scholar, always sincerely devoted to Our Lady and to making known in his own way heaven’s care for us, just what you might expect from a good priest. I wish there were more like him.

So, here’s the words of the Rector of Lourdes: Continue reading

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Priestly Vocations: I’ll follow Jesus who said, “As the Master so the disciple”.

Jesus Pilate Ecce Homo

Homiletic and Pastoral Review (HPR) published an article by our friends at Opus Bono Sacerdotii: When the Church Defames Her Priests. Good for HPR. The conservative Catholic media has pretty much 99% of the time never been on the side of due process, which speaks of cowardice and a bitterness that has nothing to do with Tradition, but only of opportunism, the definition of liberal anti-Catholicism. But times are changing. With SNAP being outed for getting kickbacks, with lots of money being thrown around, with lots of self-serving self-congratulations of the powers that be suffocating everyone, people are starting to get the idea that due process is, after all, a good thing for justice.

Someone who suffers personal and lifelong consequences of his diocese obliterating due process in his regard is Father Gordon J MacRae (ABOUT). He has written about this, starting off with an account of a young man who is hearing our Lord’s call to him with a vocation to the priesthood even as he reads articles on Father MacRae’s These Stone Walls. Here’s that very moving article: Opus Bono Sacerdotii: Heroic Witness to a Heroic Vocation.

I’m really taken by that account of that young fellow. It is the crucifixion in following Christ which attracts him. After all, there is no greater love than the one who lays down his life for his friends. Very inspiring.

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Update: Father KKK: Pipe bomb making, cross burnings, assassination threats

william aitcheson

Update: Since the publishing of this post, he’s arranged to do the necessary with his fines. At least some of those involved aren’t sure what to make of all this, not in the past, not today. Wounds go deep. We pray for healing all around. ////

I’m Pope Francis’ Jewish Missionary of Mercy, also a Catholic priest. One of my fellow priests, Father Bill Aitcheson, used to head up a cell of the KKK, a terrorist group targeting Jews, Catholics and people with varying degrees of pigmentation.

  • O.K. I get it. Our Lord forgave Saul of Tarsus, Saul who was persecuting people to death. Great.
  • O.K. I get it. We’ve all crucified the Son of the Living God with original sin and whatever rubbish sin we’ve otherwise come up with. And the Lord is willing to forgive us. Great.
  • O.K. I get it. Father William Aitcheson, native of Arlington diocese, repented of his being the leader of a terrorist KKK cell as a fully grown man in his mid-20s (not an “impressionable youth”) and then started the process of becoming a priest in Reno-Las Vegas diocese, attending the North American College in Rome the same years I was in Rome. Great.

What I don’t understand is how the diocese in Nevada and how the NAC and again how the diocese of Arlington years later and until today could overlook the fact that he didn’t pay his court imposed fines to pay for damages to multiple victims, fines merely totaling $23,000 at the time, and, if he paid none of it, now equal to $58,769.08, still not that much.

  • $20,000 to the Butler family at whose house he burned a cross (He did NOT pay that.)
  • $1,500 to the B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation at the University of Maryland where he burned a cross (Did he pay that?)
  • $1,500 to the Beth Torah Congregation in Hyattsville where he burned a cross (Did he pay that?)

When people repent, part of the repentance involves restitution. He says he wants to do this now. The diocese of Arlington, which insists he’s merely temporarily on leave, ought, because of their own obtuse assertion, pay his fines with increased values straight out in one chunk of money. Father Bill can pay the diocese of Arlington back.

But until then, I don’t believe either he or the diocese is sincere. He’s still Father KKK to me. And the diocese of Arlington, until they pay up, is basically saying that terrorism doesn’t matter, racism doesn’t matter, bigotry doesn’t matter, violence doesn’t matter. Father Aitcheson says he came forward because of the Charlottesville murder. The diocese says he was instead caught out by a reporter. I suppose both can be true coincidentally. Fine. But the restitution needs to be paid. Real apologies need to be given.

The spokesman for the diocese of Arlington says that “Father Aitcheson and Bishop Michael Burbidge have expressed a desire to meet in a pastoral, private setting with the Butler family in the hope that it may bring them healing.” — Do the Butlers want all that privacy, or is it Father Aitcheson who suggested that? He’s mentioned his embarrassment any number of times. Moreover, is there any meeting set up with B’nai B’rith Hillel and Beth Torah, or did he apologize 40 years ago and so we can forget about all those Jewish people today?

A serious question for Father William Aitchenson and to diocesan officials all of whom overlooked the lack of restitution: Was there ever any real intention to pay restitution, and, if not, was any forgiveness from the Lord ever received by Aitcheson by way of baptism or an absolution? Bear the fruits of repentance, and I’ll be happy to provide an absolution for you as Pope Francis’ Missionary of Mercy. I’m no better than you. I’d rather see you go to heaven with real repentance. It’s all about Jesus.

From the relevant declassified FBI file:

kkk 4

kkk 3

kkk 1

kkk 2

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Filed under Missionaries of Mercy, Priesthood, Racism, Terrorism

Fr Gordon J MacRae – Prayers please

GORDON MACRAE

Prayers for Father Gordon J MacRae, please. Urgent.

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Day off 4: FBI QIT-99 drills: Chaplain Qualification

FBI QIT 99 legal size paper

To become a police chaplain in North Carolina (at least in Charlotte) one has to go through the FBI course which includes being acquainted with firearms, including a variety of sidearms, assault and long rifles. That’s a whole different universe for me, so some months ago, on the same day:

  • I got a sidearm purchase permit from the sheriff’s office
  • purchased a Glock 19 gen 4 and a box of ammo
  • shot a few rounds for the first time in my life (from a pistol)
  • qualified 40/40 at a gun range first attempt
  • signed up for a concealed carry course

Soon thereafter:

  • I sat through that very useful concealed carry course
  • applied for a concealed carry permit
  • after many SBI / FBI background checks, got the concealed carry permit

Since then, I’ve been throwing out a few bullets so as to become more accurate more quickly in incrementally difficult circumstances, for my safety and the safety of others. Upon reflection, I think I’ve been having too much fun. I think I should get down to business and put myself through the FBI qualification course, that is, just for practice, on my own. Since the FBI targets are printed on larger paper than can fit in my printer, I’ve just magnified the most important detail of the target in 1 to 1 proportions, which will print out on legal paper (8 1/2 by 14). See the top of this post.

The FBI course requires 48 hits out of 60 for a pass = 80%. Meanwhile, using the same target, Kansas LEO qualification requires 35 hits out of 50 for a pass = 70%. Both courses are fairly demanding. Kansas has more variety. The FBI is perhaps more realistic.

KANSAS

  1. 3 yd line – Beginning on the 1 ½ yard line, shooter will draw and fire 3 rounds as they are stepping backward and moving laterally one step. Shooter will re-holster and repeat this procedure again on command. 2 strings of 3 (6 rounds total) 3 sec. per string.
  2. 5 yd line – Shooter will draw and fire 3 rounds from a two-hand, supported grip. Shooter will reholster and repeat this procedure on command. 2 strings of 3 (6 rounds total) 5 sec. per string
  3. 7 yd line – Shooter will fire 2 rounds from the threat ready position with weapon in strong hand, supported by the weak hand. The weapon is then transitioned to the weak hand and supported by the strong hand for the final two rounds. 1 string of 4 (4 rounds total) 10 seconds
  4. 7 yd line – Shooter will fire 3 rounds from threat ready, strong hand only, one-hand shooting grip. 1 string of 3 (3 rounds total) 4 seconds
  5. 7 yd line – Shooter will fire 3 rounds from threat ready while moving laterally one step, using the two-hand, supported grip. Re-holster and repeat on command. 2 strings of 3 each (6 rounds total) 4 seconds per string
  6. 10 yd line – Shooter will draw and fire 4 rounds using the two-hand, supported grip. Re-holster and repeat on command. 2 strings of 4 each (8 rounds total) 5 seconds per string
  7. 15 yd line – Shooter will draw and fire 4 rounds using a two-hand, supported grip. 1 string of 4 (4 rounds total) 6 seconds per string 
  8. 15 yd line – Shooter will draw and fire 3 rounds using a two-hand, supported grip. 1 string of 3 (3 rounds total) 5 seconds
  9. 25 yd line – Shooter will draw and fire 5 rounds from a two-hand, supported grip around a barricade in a standing position. 1 string of 5 (5 rounds total) 15 seconds
  10. 25 yd line – Shooter will draw and fire 5 rounds from a two-hand, supported grip around a barricade in a kneeling position. 1 string of 5 (5 rounds total) 15 seconds

FBI

From Three Yards (12 rounds fired):

  • 3 shots in 3 seconds, strong hand only
  • repeat above for 3 more rounds in 3 seconds
  • 3 rounds strong hand only, switch hands for 3 rounds weak hand only: 8 seconds

From Five Yards (12 rounds fired) [two hands for rest of course]

  • 3 rounds in 3 seconds
  • repeat 3 more times for a total of 12 rounds fired

From Seven Yards (16 rounds fired):

  • 4 rounds in 4 seconds
  • repeat above for 4 more rounds
  • 4 rounds, reload, then fire 4 more rounds all completed in 8 seconds

From 15 yards (10 rounds fired):

  • 3 rounds in 6 seconds
  • repeat above for 3 more rounds
  • 4 rounds in 8 seconds

From 25 Yards (10 rounds fired from cover)

  • Move up to the cover and fire 2 rounds standing and then 3 rounds kneeling, all under 15 seconds.
  • Repeat above

RESULTS:

  • 86% for Kansas (cold barrel) 
  • 88% for FBI (hot barrel)

Points off at 75 feet out. So I’ll need to practice that. I haven’t done that since Ricky was out from South Dakota. I totally missed when going down on a knee (no knees). No excuse! More practice needed. Anything less than 100% is no good. Mind you, I have no timer but I think I was well within the limits.

    JUST TO BE COMPLETE

    • Do the above courses at dusky-dark to simulate conditions 99% of the time.
    • Use two targets five feet apart. Any string moves from one to the other whether two, three or four rounds are required.
    • Add close quarters shooting (one hand) right up against one of the used targets used for the courses above.

    I didn’t get around to doing any of these things yet.

      JUST FOR FUN

      • Shoot in half a 1″x1″ by however long swinging stick at a marked line:

      I did do that again yesterday:

      That will take some time to own. All that is just for pistols. One has to be familiar with assault and long rifles, etc. More on that in future.

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      7 7 7 – Summorum Pontificum: the 10th anniversary in Lourdes. “Just wear dental guards, Father George!”

      LOURDES-GROTTO

      Things are never as they seem. After Pope Benedict XVI came out with Summorum Pontificum on 7 July 2007, the permanent chaplains in Lourdes, including myself, were called to a special meeting announced by the rector of the time on behalf of the bishop of the time. We were going to be the very first to implement S.P. even before the start date.

      The rector asked: “Who knows how to offer Mass in Latin? The bishop wants to know because of the Pope’s letter.” Three of us raised our hands, one who may have known it but didn’t want to offer it but was willing to fake it by saying the Novus Ordo in Latin (he didn’t last long), one who didn’t care one way or the other (and would soon regret raising his hand and quit), and myself. I was put in charge of bringing Summorum Pontificum to fruition, being naive enough to think for a little while that all this was actually sincere. It wasn’t. This was all a way to look cooperative with the Holy See but it was instead a way to control and smack down anything to do with Summorum Pontificum.

      lourdes

      Generally speaking, only chaplains were allowed to offer this Mass (there were a few exceptions such as when the SSPX would come with all four bishops, etc.) which meant that many other priest-pilgrims were regularly denied or given the run around, creating chaos, frustration and bad feelings on the part of the pilgrims. Priests and even bishops were simply treated like trash. Tempers flared. It was all so very unnecessary. So sad.

      Places allowed for this Mass were thrown around all over the sanctuaries so that no schedule at a set place could be established for a long time, which also meant that I had to prepare rolling suitcases filled with the necessary items to drag all over the sanctuaries, up and down staircases, in the rain (sometimes all the way to the front gate at Saint Joseph’s), etc. No advertisements were allowed for this Mass either on the internet or at the info office, though finally, sometimes, it would be put on the roster, though often with the wrong time and place. I would put up notices on doors around the sanctuaries to announce the inevitable change of time and venue, only to find the notices immediately ripped down, etc. Mockery for saying this Mass coming from other chaplains was extremely intense. The last thing they wanted was to actually permit this Mass to be offered. One of the worst ones to mock was the priest who had almost single-handedly throughout the last decades reduced the “Youth Mass” to a McDonald’s picnic and irrelevant theater and total screaming from one end to the other throughout “Mass.” Yep. I say “Mass” in quotes because they did do the consecration, I guess, but everything else was ip for grabs, including whether laity could participate in the consecrations.

      LOURDES-MICHAEL

      Finally, with clever chess moves, Masses were allowed in a half dozen chapels for pilgrimages of up to dozens of people (offered by myself, rarely by another priest) and finally were allowed in the hidden side chapels in the crypt of the upper Basilica of the Immaculate Conception for priests coming with one or two others. Never in the grotto. A Sunday Mass was allowed, usually in the smallish Immaculate Conception upper Basilica, but, of course, the Mass times were changed wildly and sometimes scheduled at the same time and place as other Masses, or so closely back to back that chaos ensued. Unending, unending, unending.

      The mockery coming from the other chaplains (and some others) was vicious, loud, public, and, truly unending. It’s hard to imagine more hateful attitudes, because, after that, people go into uncaring, zero conscience mode, which I suppose is the ultimate hate. I guess our Lord wanted to introduce me to just how bad it can get, and how bad it was throughout Europe as it all was concentrated and put into a package for me at Lourdes. A special gift, really.

      But in the midst of all this, the Lord was doing what He wanted, and so there were simply some of the most beautiful moments that Lourdes had seen in dozens of years. One I remember had to do with me taking the oaths of new European Boy Scouts down in front of the Rosary Basilica after a Traditional Mass in the Immaculate Conception Basilica. Another was the pilgrimage of soon to be Cardinal Burke:

      cardinal burke lourdes

      Another was just over a year later on the National Feast Day of France, August 15, 2008, during the National Pilgrimage, when I was able to arrange for and offer the Mass in the underground Basilica of Saint Pius X. A solemn high Mass with a good 7000 people assisting:

      Mass Lourdes Pius X Basilica

      That Mass was a nuclear explosion and caused no end of troubles for me, with accusations being made against me from near and far, with letters of complaint being sent near and far. What a nightmare. “You told people that the new Mass is invalid and they are obliged to go to the traditional Mass!” It never happened. But the same higher-ups insisted that this was the case until I finally departed for the USA (at a time foreseen before I went to Lourdes in the first place). What to do with such slander? I’m only telling you just a fraction of what went on.

      I once said that I don’t know any priest who has suffered more for the re-establishment of the Traditional Mass in living memory – and I know a lot of priests who have suffered for this – and I still think that that is true. I include bishops in that assessment. I don’t say that to toot my own horn, but rather to give encouragement to those who suffer. And yet, so many among the traditional-ism-ists on the far end of the spectrum are so bitter and angry with me, I suppose because I am not bitter like them. Why be bitter? That gets no one anywhere. It only hurts oneself. We can be faithful sons of the Church and not be bitter. In fact, we can be joyful.

      Anyway, I was being so smashed down that I was grinding my teeth at night so that dentists noticed that my teeth were being worn down and cracked. One recommended dental guards at night such as one might wear for American football. I didn’t, but I have to say that this was at the same time the worst time in my entire life and also the most glorious. I wouldn’t change any of it. And there was joy in the midst of this.

      Through it all I got to know Jesus and Mary so very much better. I was told by many priests I talked to at the time – friends on pilgrimage – that surely this time in Lourdes was providential for me, to bring me closer to Jesus and Mary.

      And I was happy to do what I could to be a good son of the Church in the best way I knew how, trying to fulfill the wishes of Pope Benedict and, indeed, the Holy See of the time. I was doing my best to make friends with the pilgrimage groups that came, with the priests, with the FSSP, with the SSPX who have a house up the hill across the river. I regret nothing. I would do it all over again. After my requested two year sojourn in Lourdes was completed, I was felicitously replaced by a great young priest of the FSSP. Here’s a changing of the guard picture in the sacristy:

      lourdes traditional mass chaplains

      I was saying that I was willing to do it all over again. In fact, I did do it all over again in re-establishing the traditional Mass in the Pontifical seminary in Columbus, Ohio, the Josephinum. There were some bishops saying that they would pull out their seminarians unless classes were taught for this. I, of course, volunteered, but it was the same permit so as to control and smash down effort by the powers that be, much of that not seen by the seminarians. I taught the Mass and all the sacraments and even exorcism and blessings in the old ritual, and also liturgical Latin. It was a strictly optional course but, whatever. The traditional Mass was back and it all took on a life of its own. Great! Novus Ordo Latin Mass also became very frequent after this. ;-)

      When you really want something you have to be willing to suffer for it, and not be bitter about it, because it’s a matter of love. And I love being a priest. Didn’t Jesus encounter difficulties? Unimaginably worse, and so many priests have actually suffered right around the world right through the centuries, making my ruminations almost seem blasphemous. But, when you’re going through something, it can be kinda rough. We’re all pretty weak, whatever protestations we might otherwise make about ourselves. But we learn. As the Master, so the mere disciple. We learn that it’s all about Jesus’ love and Jesus’ truth and Jesus’ goodness and kindness and all the rest doesn’t matter, as it won’t matter in heaven, and, so as to praise Jesus, that’s where we want to go, where we must go. No bitterness. Just wear a dental guard. Save your teeth for a good smile. I love being a priest!

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      Filed under Father Byers Autobiography, Liturgy, Priesthood, Vocations

      This Catholic priest’s Glock 19 target practice: Rope swinging video

      Before heading off to lunch with some good friends on my “day off”, I stopped by the hermitage to set up a new target, a half-gallon cranberry juice bottle filled with water swinging from a branch from about 35 feet up. If you watch the 3 second video you’ll get the idea.

      I set the bottle in motion and stepped back some 33 feet. The very first shot from the Glock 19 was a direct hit, middle-middle. It was, in fact, a bit too easy, though I did miss some as I replaced magazines and replaced bottles, four of them. After lunch I came back for more. Maybe standing so far away is too easy because you have to move your arms less. The closer you are the quicker you have to move. I’ll have to remember that. Advice welcome.

      I’ll also have to come up with better things to swing. The juice bottles are made with hard plastic to avoid mold growth inside the bottle. Hard plastic means shattering and all the water gushes out straight away. I thought I’d have a bit more time with it, but:

      target swinging juice bottle

      So, perhaps a soft plastic Folger’s Breakfast Blend coffee bucket filled with dirt with the lid tied on. I’ll have to remember that.

      The point of all this is just a bit of play time while out at the hermitage. Recreation is important in anyone’s life. And, guaranteed, there’s no indoor or outdoor shooting range around this area that would permit such contraptions to be set up. If you do carry, it’s important to be well practiced, a good shot, which protects innocent people, and that’s what it’s all about. Getting trained up in situational awareness so as to get out of bad situations before they can occur, and getting trained up in deescalation to cool down incidents that are inescapable is all essential. These are just basic life skills that are always useful even if one does not carry.

      And, praying for the bishop and priests of the diocese is always a necessity just at this point exactly in the trail up to the hermitage. The Angelus. Don’t ask me why but I remember this very strongly every time I’m here, without fail. Always. Strong.

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      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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