Category Archives: Spiritual life

“Be the Gray Man” he said. Lessons from Laudie-dog. Just be the idiot, blood red.

wp-15967293875824260472000695589244.jpg

Above you’ll see Laudie-dog patrolling the impossible tunnel she’s made through the Jasmine vines, which don’t much offer her concealment while she takes in the situation of the neighborhood. After negotiating otherwise non-navigatable labyrinthine pathways, she shows herself victorious, quite content with herself, as if bragging about her over the top skill sets. Here she is, way down the fenceline in the other direction:

wp-15967294362677894138045056070031.jpg

The lesson, if you didn’t quite get it, is about how to be the “Gray Man”, someone who melts into the crowd unnoticed. Most people don’t get this at all. Take note that however much Laudie-dog is low-key, not drawing attention to herself, she doesn’t mind sticking out from her surroundings. I mean, she’s red, right? Take the hint about how to do the Gray Man thing the right way.

UBL (bin Laden, CIA “trained”) and his fellow terrorists were caught for trying too hard to be the Gray Man, you know, using different phones at different locations, never twice the same, so very careful. Not great training there. That was the clue: way too careful, way too gray, way too nothing. That’s tradecraft without common sense. No one does that. Ever.

Much better to be the bumbling idiot, like Laudie-dog is so very cleverly demonstrating above. No smarter dog than she. “Do the Gray Man thing” a friend suggested to me recently. Fine. But no. Yes and no. In my experience, the guy trying way too hard be the Gray Man sticks out in a crowd as if wearing a red jump suit. No, no. I’ll just play the idiot and in that way be the Gray Man… because there is always an entirely dismissable idiot or two in any crowd that everyone overlooks, because… you know… they’re just idiots.

I’m really good at it, because, you know, I have a lot of practice. It’s natural for me to be the idiot. Not being afraid to be the fool can save one’s life. I’ve done it a number of times.

Anecdote which I think I’ve mentioned before. I sometimes go out on a friend’s private back ridge somewhere in the heart of Appalachia here, doing up tactical pistol courses (FBI instructor, pre-2001 Air Marshal course, the SEAL course, and a number of LEO qualification courses for a change-up, etc.). Lots of fun. But three times a visitor came along on the opposite ridge, not so far away, who, not liking the sound of serious tactical pistol courses going on (definitely NOT just some haphazard target practice), decided to have some fun. He could see me out in the open but he was concealed. I wasn’t being the idiot while practicing, right? I was rather overt in some skill sets. I thought I was alone. “He” (I guess a male) sent some rather speedy rifle rounds my way, each of which smashed through even a half-dozen large branches in the forest. No mere AR can do that. And while those came quite close, above and to the two sides (the zoooosh sound the bullets make next to your head is rather unmistakable), he was just looking for me to – I suppose – shoot back, giving him an excuse. Running was impossible. Shooting back was impossible. I sat down right where I was, in the open and played the Hallelujah Chorus of Handel’s Messiah on my little phone speaker. The forest was dead quiet, and so that could actually be heard as if in a sound room even at a distance. I’m such an idiot. Who does that? Only an utterly dismissable idiot would do that. Must be a mistake with who this is, then. All shooting stopped. Each time. I’m such an idiot.

Be the Gray Man. To do it, don’t try too hard. Be the idiot. You’ll be utterly dismissable. I do. And I am dismissable, therefore invisible, gray, therefore still alive.

TO THE POINT: But when it comes to being the Catholic Priest, I don’t play politics. All the truth is proclaimed, always, to everyone, no matter what. If we do that, we’re not the Gray Man. We’re targets. Great. We’re idiots in the eyes of the world in that case, but this time not dismissable. As Saint John Paul II said, there have been more martyrs in this last century than in all the other centuries put together. When it comes to being Catholics, let’s not be afraid to be blood red. Not quite hidden, not quite the Gray Man:

Passion of the Christ - crucifixion

Leave a comment

Filed under Guns, Jesus, Spiritual life

Bait so as to receive: how very Kryptos. Plot twist. Jesus reveals our identity.

wp-15968375375997963153604031017738.jpg

The picture above, taken at a parishioner’s house, is of Alex Trebek decades ago. Yes, there are re-runs of game shows from a lifetime ago. I just thought this particular scene was humorous and so took a picture of it. Sorry for using poor “Shadow” the other day as bait so as to watch the the knuckleheads show themselves. And they did. It is to laugh, out loud too.

Sorry if this is all a bit Kryptic. Some are bewildered at such Kryptesque posts that mention my “Shadow,” the guy who has been “established with secured identity” by those in DS-Rosslyn, with my own identity. The analogy for the continuing bewilderment that comes to mind is the befuddlement over seemingly entirely outrageous statements of POTUS Trump that he makes correctly but without revealing important circumstances. Like clockwork, over the space of a week or two, this exercise in baiting has the knuckleheads go full apoplectic and show themselves for who they are, and then after they make fools of themselves, good old Trump reveals the rest of the story as Paul Harvey would say. Checkmate. They know they’ve been had. In my own little world the rest of the story may or may not be revealed in this lifetime. I’m working on it, and I’m having fun while doing it, laughing all the way, even if the subject matter involves otherwise stunningly illegal arms transfers and rather shadowy characters and endless violence and loss of life. My “Shadow” might well be revealed even while exaggeratedly attempting to remain hidden, an unexpected plot twist. I digress.

This kind of entertainment – and it is just that, for me, entertainment – takes up about 0.00001% of my free time. I write about it because it’s all so stupid. It just is what it is. And I cannot, cannot, cannot write about what happens the other 99.99999% of my free time, not to mention what happens in my full-on priestly activities in confession, in spiritual direction, all that for which I actually live. Don’t get the wrong idea.

You have to know, I absolutely love being a priest, all of the priestly everything about visiting the sick, providing Last Rites, doing up funerals, and preaching!

Oh my! I love preaching. I learn about the Sacred Scriptures pretty much only while I’m preaching, that is, not so much any preparation, if any, but in the actual preaching. I’ve often spoken of this with my confessor. He has the same experience in being brought into a crushing-uplifting reverence before the Living Truth of Jesus by the Holy Spirit while preaching. I guess that’s how the Lord tells us that we’ve said enough and need to move things along, because… after that… we can get choked up, and simply not be able to say anything more. Preaching from the heart? This is more like putting one’s useless heart aside, because, look… look at that Sacred Heart of Jesus… In trying to reveal what is otherwise hidden in the Mystery of God’s love for us – plot twist – our own inadequacy otherwise hidden also to ourselves is – plot twist – revealed before the Light that comes into such darkness. Such Light! I love it, but…

This kind of thing is almost annoying. Take for instance the Consecrations at Holy Mass. I can usually get through the first, but by the second I have to battle with all my might from getting choked up in the presence of the Most Sacred Mysteries – the ultimate Kryptos – of our Lord’s ever so hidden love for us. I am a weak and useless and simple man. So, there we have it, a plot twist. Who we are, our identity, is revealed not when we claim an identity, but when we stand ever so simply before our Creator. We are revealed for who we are. Jesus strips us of our fear in which we stupidly try to hide ourselves. Fear is not an identity. Being forgiven reveals who we are before our Redeemer because He forgives by pouring into us the created presence of the Most Holy Trinity otherwise called sanctifying grace. How to say it?

“Hidden.” That’s “Kryptic.” Watch what happens the other way. The dear Lord, by way of His goodness and kindness and the Living Truth that He is, lays open our souls before His majesty. We know who we are when like the Apostle Thomas , we place our finger into the marks of the nails, and our hand into the gaping wound in His side that was made on Calvary by the sword of the Roman soldier.

Plot twist? Oh yes. And the games human beings play in this world which congratulates itself on being clever and shadowy? It is to laugh, but also to cry, for there is altogether too much game playing and violence and not enough of being drawn into the Living Sacred Mysteries of God’s Love and Truth, of Jesus, who will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire.

And if you feel lost in all this seeming convolutedness, like it’s all still too Kryptic, let some piercing eyes cut right into your very soul revealing how you stand before God, for her soul was pierced through that the thoughts of many hearts might be revealed (see Luke 2:35).

pieta

6 Comments

Filed under Flores, Humor, Intelligence Community, Spiritual life

There’s “I’m watching you…” and then there’s “I’m watching you…” LOL?

wp-1594944106731.gif

There’s a local thug and buffoon who’s been aggressively doing up the fingers in the eye thing to me on various and sundry occasions so as to say, I guess, that he’s watching me. Sometimes people get upset just because you don’t fall into line with their train-wreck-lives, frustrated that there is someone who won’t conform to their idiocy. That tells me that there a lot of people who do bow down to any bully who happens along. Kinda creepy, that, all of that. But it also makes me laugh out loud.

Situational awareness is all about assessing situations with a view to deescalation and avoiding trouble if possible. With this kind of silliness, you just let people hang themselves (that’s a trope, by the way), and they do just that, being too self-confident, too powerful in their own eyes, way too narcissistic. Give it time and it takes care of itself.

What I find humorous is the realization that there really are people who are unaware that angels guardian see all, that God sees all. I mean, I tried to be this way in decades gone by. I mean, there were youthful days of idiocy in my life whereby there was even a Sunday or two that I didn’t go to church, to my everlasting regret. I failed in escaping God and my angel guardian. God, who sees all, with the angels, impressed upon me His presence, and brought me quite forcefully by His grace to go to Confession.

While it is sad to see those who are still oblivious in their lives, I see their weak-nothing-aggression as failing before God’s grace. I have hope that they will come around. I laugh previous to any conversion in the hope that they will also take up God’s prompting to turn their lives around. Surely they will laugh at their own antics in time to come. I don’t laugh AT such people. I laugh WITH such people. They just don’t know it, yet.

Meanwhile, it is, in fact, the Lord Himself, who, seeing all, will come to judge the living and the dead and world by fire. The Lord is, to be sure, deadly serious:

  • “The Lord laughs them to scorn” (Wisdom 4:18). Yikes!

Pick up your Catholic Bible and look up that oft-neglected passage, taking note of the context. You will find out that, for the Lord, this is no laughing matter. Not at all.

Being situationally aware that God sees all, that our angels guardian see all, brings situational awareness in general to an entirely different level. I recommend it.

Conclusion? Go to Confession!

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under Confession, Humor, Situational awareness, Spiritual life

Mt 5:39 turning other cheek: meaning

Warning: Bad language. Violence. The following monologue is what I’m after:

  • No! No! No! No! No! No! No! Con paz! Con paz! Soerte la pistola! Tirala! Pregunto, paisano: quiere morir?
  • Super loose translation: No! No! No! No! No! No! No! With peace! With peace! Take your gun! Throw it down! I ask you, my friend: Do you want to die?

That’s the CIA/FBI team at the El Paso/Ciudad Juarez border. They end the threat of the cartel idiot deadly aggression. That’s the kind of turning the other cheek that I’m talking about!

But is that what Jesus means by turning the other cheek? You remember the passage:

  • Offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. (Matthew 5:39)

“Offer no resistance.” That’s the specious politically correct translation of the New American Bible, which belongs to the Confraternity for Christian Doctrine, which is itself under the thumb of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The translation needs some examination. If we depend on our weak and cowardly fallen human nature, proffering “offer no resistance” would seem to be correct, especially in view of the immediate and purposed parallels of the larger passage related by Matthew (5:38-42):

  1. When someone strikes you on (your) right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.
  2. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well.
  3. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles.
  4. Give to the one who asks of you; do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.”

So, the translation “offer no resistance” would seem to be right and just. Indeed, Jesus prefaces all these remarks by saying:

  • “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, BUT I SAY TO YOU…” (Matthew 5:38)

In other words, Jesus is specifically rejecting a merely equal and opposite reaction, the “tooth for tooth” modus operandi elsewhere promoted in the Sacred Scriptures inspired by the ever truthful Holy Spirit:

  • “Limb for limb, eye for eye, tooth for tooth! The same injury that a man gives another shall be inflicted on him in return.” (Leviticus 24:20)
  • “Do not look on such a man with pity. Life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, and foot for foot!” (Deuteronomy 19:21)

Jesus is not pitting Himself against the Holy Spirit, for such instruction regarding the gravity of sin against our very brothers is holy, true, just and fitting for pedagogy regarding the one supreme teaching on forgiveness provided by Jesus when He put Himself in our place, taking on the sentence of death we deserve for our sin against Him, the Innocent for the guilty, Life for life (He died on the Cross), eye for eye (the Shroud of Turin seems to depict the crowning with thorns also piercing His eyes), tooth for tooth (He was beaten beyond recognition on His face, His mouth), hand for hand (recall the nails of the crucifixion), and foot for foot (recall the nails of the crucifixion)!” We have to know how serious the sin is if we are going to correctly ask for forgiveness and be prepared to receive it fruitfully.

In view of the sins of all crucifying our Lord Jesus, we all deserve everything we get. The great saints emphasize this with a passion. Yes. But is this what anyone is talking about, Jesus or the saints? Should we just give up and say that “offer no resistance” is a good translation and be done with it?

I don’t know about you, but my entire spirit rebels against all of this seeming doormat stuff of questionable translations. Just because we are forgiven and we are to forgive others, that doesn’t mean that we just throw justice out the window. Jesus stood up for Himself over against the scribes and Pharisees, turning the tables with a word, but with ferocity. Jesus also stood up for us, His little flock. So, what are we to think of all this? Is it too difficult? This is important. Let’s take a deeper dive into the ever enthralling words of the Holy Spirit about the Incarnate Word of God, Christ Jesus.

What if that “offer no resistance” thing actually meant something else altogether? What if the actual literal Greek μὴ ἀντιστῆναι followed by the dative means “To make a stand over against a very particular thing”? Ha ha!

Making a stand over against a very particular thing IS NOT EQUATED with a merely equal and merely opposite reaction:

  • Being merely reactionary implies that we have nothing to add to over against unjust aggression except more aggression of the same unjust sort. We’re not to stoop to that level, you know, the ol’ “I’LL SHOW YOU!” That helps no one. And it says that we are controlled by the other person entirely, ever so predictable. Our identity then lies in reaction: we are vacuous nothings.
  • Instead, making a stand over against a very particular thing embraces love in truth or “tough love” as some call it. It’s not a reaction, but a way of being a true friend, a good parent, how to bring someone out of the quagmire, enabling them to grow, even in the midst, necessarily, of letting a needy person know that they are on the wrong path.
  • Also, making a stand over against a very particular thing doesn’t rule out offering pardon to someone who needs pardoning. In fact, it is necessary. You can’t forgive something that you hold to be good. Someone is not able to take in forgiveness if they are convinced they are not doing any wrong ever. Someone is not able to forgive if they are convince no wrongdoing was committed. Take the liberal-knucklehead priest who, upon hearing a confession to murder said that that’s not a sin at all, that the person will not receive absolution because there was no sin in the first place. How frustrating is that?
  • Just to say: being a doormat, encouraging people to commit unjust aggression, is no favor to the other person or to yourself. Don’t be the doormat. Forgive real iniquity. Make sure the other person knows you’re not being a doormat.

Yikes! So, let’s examine those parallels offered by Jesus to see if they are really about being a doormat. When we go through these, you’ll see how easy it is to drink the Kool-Aid of the nicey nice crowd, but also how good it is to follow Jesus with integrity:

(1) “When someone strikes you on (your) right cheek, turn the other one to him as well”:

Keep in mind that the idea here is that we are dealing with unjust, violent aggression. In this situation, turning the other cheek has nothing to do with weakness, but rather everything to do with challenging to a fight: Is that all you got? No, really, show me your worst, and then when you’ve shown me your worst – with me having turned my other cheek to you to give you a fresh target – I will then give you some instruction about how things really are. In the following video (language and the kind of violence Jesus Himself is talking about), a girl is struck on her cheek, hard. The Star of David tattoo guy steps in to be the other cheek that is turned. The black-vest guy had already jacked up the stakes with another strike as deadly threat: “I’m the guy who decides if you’re going to walk out of here alive.”

Jesus’ advice is about not backing down to unjust aggression against the innocent. It’s about stopping an ongoing threat by showing bullies that they are actually nothing more than cowards. There are so very examples of this in the Gospels, wherein Jesus demonstrates how cowardly His opponents are, for instance, by raising Lazarus from the dead in front of the murderous Herodians, or by having the guy with the withered hand come out front and center against the hateful. In both instances the Herodians and the hateful immediately plotted to kill Jesus. That’s what cowards do. See Mark 3:6; John 12:10, etc. Might we suffer for this? Sure. No one said that “Take up your cross daily” was a walk in the park.” Solidarity with those who suffer has consequences. But this also leads to repentance and salvation for aggressors such as with the Centurion on Calvary (Mark 15:39). I have many stories. Oh my. There are so many cowards who instantly run when you stand up to them. Some do feel guilty are return to the Lord.

(2) “If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well”:

Keep in mind that the idea here is that we are dealing with unjust acquisition of private property by someone who hides behind the cover of corrupt attorneys and corrupt judges. Keep in mind that those listening to Jesus in sincerity are not those who have tons of money to burn on litigation. Handing over a cloak as well has nothing to do with weakness. It is an insult, highly sarcastic: Oh, so you think that ripping people off is what life is all about. Well, let me just seal you in your stupidity. Here, take my cloak as well, you stupid little fool. No, really! Take it! It is God Himself who will come to judge the living and the dead and world by fire. Jesus will take care of bringing such people around if they want that. But Jesus doesn’t want us wear ourselves out with resources we don’t have on people whose only joy in life is to make others miserable. It’s not the tunic or cloak, but the power to inflict misery that they are after. Anecdote: I know people who will spend tens of thousands of dollars to litigate about their entitlement to be a pain in the neck. I remember one in particular who gifted an ultra-cheap CD player to another someone decades ago. The recipient of decades ago gave that CD player to me quite recently. I received it graciously, but, having no need for it, I in turn, gave it immediately to charity. I even had the permission of the original recipient to do this. WELL, the original purchaser of decades ago freaked out, recalculated the cost of that CD player in today’s money, something like 35 dollars and 47 cents ($25 at the time?), and demanded I pay it back, with interest, and I had better pay this immediately or else! I instantaneously offered to drive hours on end to deliver the few dollars, in coins, to the penny. Ha ha ha. I called the bluff. That offer was forthwith rejected. I have done this many times in such situations. It’s just about guaranteed that the bully-coward will back down. Don’t think this is being a doormat. This is inflicting a huge burden of guilt upon them whether they think so or not. This is meant to bring them around for eternal salvation.

(3) “Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles”:

Keep in mind that the idea here is that we are dealing with unjust aggression, this time by the government. “Being pressed into service” is a terrible translation. The word is extremely technical in Greek: καὶ ὅστις σε ἀγγαρεύσει. It refers to temporary and immediate enslavement, dropping everything you’re doing, regardless, that very second, until even your health is going to be destroyed. The image is that of a relay race, handing off a baton, so that a courier is delivering a message from, say, an emperor to a mere vassal king. As the runner comes to the point of death, he hands this off to another who is under pain of death, of course, to take up the chasing of the wind. If a citizen shows himself exemplary with no complaint, and in fact doubles what is terribly unjustly expected of him, it is a challenge to the corrupt political powers that be. It rips the heart out of the person who is inflicting unjust expectations. I’ve seen this uncountable times: when unjust politicians come across an actually honest citizen, their physical and mental health suffers, sending them into a downward spiral until we just don’t hear from them anymore. Yep. But also this is meant to bring about the repentance of the bully-cowards who are fearful of themselves.

(4) “Give to the one who asks of you; do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow”:

All the previous parallel examples of Jesus deal with unjust aggression. They’ve been progressively jacked up: (1) personal; (2) public litigation; (3) governmental tyranny.

With number (4) in the series, we are not falling back to some merely personal as some sort of delving into the literary convention of “inclusion” (that which is found both at the beginning and end). No. The intensification of the series continues. Here, there is an involvement of God. Rather unexpected? No. The other examples involved unjust aggression. But we are such tender snowflakes that we don’t know what unjust aggression is as opposed to that which we would throw tantrums of imaginary micro-aggression tantrums against, such as with someone rightly asking for a loaf of bread to feed his kids in Covid-19 times instead of him stealing a loaf of bread. Just give the guy a loaf of bread and be Bishop Charles-François-Bienvenu Myriel in your benevolence toward Jean Valjean. Or else! This time we’ll be forced to man up because God Himself will force our lack of will, our lack of sympathy, our lack of charity and faith. And if we go so far as to take a pledge, such as a man’s cloak (back to #2 above!) then we will give it back to him, or else you will face the wrath of God Himself. Jesus is citing Exodus 22:25-26:

  • “If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, you shall return it to him before sunset; for this cloak of his is the only covering he has for his body. What else has he to sleep in? If he cries out to me, I will hear him; for I am compassionate.”

When God Himself says “I will hear him”, it means that God will smack down the un-compassionate person harder than any personal attack, harder than any public litigation, harder than any governmental litigation.

In other words, Jesus has no time for idiot narcissists in their unjust aggression.

In other words, Jesus wants to make sure we are not the idiot narcissists who, in a self-serving confusion, conflate unjust aggression with a genuine and humble request.

Jesus wants us to stand up against unjust aggression in the manner in which we can do this according to the circumstances. He doesn’t want us to waste the opportunity of an unjust aggression; Jesus wants us to provide the aggressor with a lesson in whatever way we are able in the circumstances.

But we had also better make sure we are not the unjust aggressors. God will forgive us if we forgive others.

4 Comments

Filed under Spiritual life

Gardening: unknown unknowns

wp-15950960213253750109761021938040.jpg

Choanephora cucurbitarum. Yep. That’s what that is. But blurting out a fancy name doesn’t mean I know what I’m talking about. This spaghetti squash was about an inch and half long before being attacked. I gingerly picked it and tossed it out. I ain’t not wanting them thar spores overwintering in my garden no-how, nope, not ever. I don’t know what can be done about this when everything is still in bloom, or how to purify the soil for the next year…

wp-15951224699184676994214877749672.jpg

And then there’s human error. A great friend with unlimited amounts of energy got a bit too close to a tomato plant. Surprisingly, a week later, the plant is still going strong. We’ll see. I might get some used tires to protect from innocent mistakes. My fault, too. I baited that weed-eating by not not weeding as I should, as is evident from the photo above. But what do I know? I know so little that it is unknown to me what the unknowns might be.

Donald Rumsfeld put it best:

  • “Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.”

More unknowing from my first time gardening experience:

wp-15950984434637237702496565804641.jpg

Placing spaghetti squash over the house supports instead of keeping them on the ground turns out not to be a good idea. The spaghetti squash will, of course, get huge, and perhaps break the vines, so that all is lost.

And then there’s this – what? tomato rust? – I don’t know:

wp-15954322514304068736765458564954.jpg

Is that a bug which does that? Like this one? Also over on the cucumber…

wp-15954324311208841398424275677122.jpg

I think this is what happens in the wake of such a beast:

wp-15954323610626143958722201357330.jpg

But what do I know? And even if I knew, I wouldn’t know what to do about it.

It seems to me the Lord said something about this:

  • “This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.  Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.” (Mark 4:26-29)

The Lord is so good. Despite the vast ignorance that is mine, I have been harvesting really almost too much asparagus daily for months, so much squarrsh that there is now about 30 one-pound bags of it in the freezer, heaps of cucumbers, multiple spaghetti squarrsh, at last count about 80 tomatoes, one of which I’ve already harvested.

The Lord makes it easy. We can survive. As time goes on we get more clever about it, and are more successful if we work together, lest we suffer from the thistles from the neighbor’s garden, he also suffering from the thistles from our gardens.

There is one known unknown, however, and that’s that we do know that the extent  of the Lord’s goodness and kindness for us is almost entirely unknown to us. The Lord is soooo very good, soooo very kind.

When running out to the garden for something to eat it’s a great consolation to discuss such matters with the dear Lord.

4 Comments

Filed under Gardening, Spiritual life

gardening and walking with the Lord

wp-15910578624665150017544392176870.jpg

That picture was uploaded from the garden June 1, 2020. I was amazed. Gardening is an encouragement to walk with the Lord, to be a co-worker in the garden He planted, as we read way back in Genesis, the Lord desiring that we till the ground, walking with Him.

BTW, however much walking with the Lord is mocked, that walking with the Lord, such as to Emmaus, is not bad and evil. Gardening, walking with the Lord, can be a very fruitful time with the Lord during the day, in the evening, in the morning. Walking with the Lord does not necessarily imply progressivism or anything dialectical, or any kind of tolerant-of-all-mortal-sin-so-called-accompaniment”. We are to pray always. Always means always.

The Lord said that to enter into the kingdom of heaven we are to be like children. To be thankful to the Lord for His creation takes the heart of a child. In this violent drug town I’m quite sure that there are very few who see the paradise in which we live, the mountains and streams and national and state forests and stunning biodiversity.

Meanwhile, the three squarrrsh groupings have continued to grow, edging on 4 feet high and 12 feet wide:

wp-15949044102517221484081001257113.jpg

I’m guessing they’re starting to give up as it’s now mid-July and they’ve really been pumping out the squarrrshes, requiring harvesting twice a day. If it’s your first time gardening, this is a good first plant to plant.

wp-15949046228618451606479673112609.jpg

Meanwhile, the spaghetti squarrrshes are getting way to heavy for their own good. I’m taking the advice of hammocks for the ones which have gotten themselves into impossible situations. And, yes, those are tiny zip-ties. :-)

wp-15949042552955687690857720894966.jpg

The 5-gallon bucket tomato plants are doing well, relatively speaking. These were grown from seeds. There were five seeds thinned out to three plants for each bucket, still too many… but now I know. If you can see them, there are seven tomatoes from this bucket at the moment. These plants are only 1/3 the size of the store-bought seedlings transplanted and given tomato cages. Here’s one of those, also seven tomatoes:

wp-15949044850563829083698279361936.jpg

One of my gardening parishioners laughed when he found out I was taking a census of tomatoes on the plants, saying that they would soon be uncountable. It’s only mid-July and there is a tomato, an early girl, already turning color:

wp-15949071158402145115556965668767.jpg

I know. I know. Gotta do up some weeding, which is not work, btw, if you’re “walking with the Lord.”

4 Comments

Filed under Gardening, Nature, Spiritual life

Rectory garden delights day by day

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Besides the Squarrsh (two “Rs”) and Cucumbers and Asparagus, there are some 40 tomatoes at last count on the tomato plants, none of them anywhere near being ripe yet.

Watering and harvesting takes but a few minutes. And for me its a chance to unwind a bit, walking with the Lord in His garden, being thankful to Him. Is that a prayer as well? Yes, it is.

I recommend gardening, even inside if you have no outside space. It’s beneficial on so many levels. We were created to be co-workers with God in His creation. Adam is to “Till the ground”, as his name indicates, being the verbal form for the soil itself. It’s just right.

And if one thinks this to be superfluous in desperate times of Covid-19 insanity lockdowns, of Marxist rioting, of anti-Police defunding, on and on, such normalcy of gardening, if you will, is one of the most practical things one can do.

The most practical thing one can do is pray. Yes. Oh, Confession too.

1 Comment

Filed under Gardening, Nature, Spiritual life

Coronavirus High Holy Days Humor in a real Prison while we’re on lockdown

pilate jesus barabbas passion of the christ

Pilate in the center, Jesus in light, Barabbas in the dark.

When Pilate asks whom the people want him to release, as was the custom during the High Holy Days, the people shout repeatedly: “We want Barabbas! We want Barabbas!”

Jesus is the Divine Son of the Father, laying down His life for us, the Innocent for the guilty, taking on the punishment each one of us deserves so as to have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us. Hours before, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed to His Father: “Abba! Father!”

Jesus, the Divine Son of the Father is passed over in favor of Barabbas, whose name, in full irony, means “Son of the Father.” And so are we all created and now redeemed as children of our gracious Heavenly Father.

Has any of us ever said about anyone anywhere, “Better him than me”?

Meanwhile, the people, all of us, received what we wanted: Barabbas.

And then this is what happened to Jesus before being crucified:

Jesus Pilate Ecce Homo

Notice the clever film editing: Jesus, who was at the right hand of the political powers that be, is now on the left hand of the political powers that be.


Humor: So, in prison, two good friends, Father Gordon MacRae and Pornchai Maximilian Moontri, celebrated Palm Sunday Mass with the reading of the Passion. Max took all the parts except Jesus and the Narrator, meaning he also had, for instance, the crowd.

Max, you have to know, is from Thailand, and grew up speaking Thai until 11 years old, when he was effectively stolen away to Maine, being a horrific saga that has turned out well in the end. The point is that he doesn’t have perfect English Pronunciation of Hebrew, which means that… drum roll… wait for it…

At the point where the crowd yells: “We want Barabbas! We want Barabbas!” Max instead reads, entirely innocently: “We want Baber-Ass! We want Baber-Ass!”

Father Gordon said that he somehow contained his laughter. I would have laughed so loudly the guards would have had to show up in force.

This is one of those epic, epic moments in the life of Jesus’ little flock. A story that will surely be told in heaven, hopefully with also a redeemed and saved Barabbas listening.

Meanwhile, on this Friday of Easter week – every day like Easter Day…

1 Comment

Filed under Coronavirus, Humor, Spiritual life

A Coronavirus Easter Triduum Octave

wp-158670564020353551734378262499.jpg

The Empty Tomb! The Light is shining brightly. Here’s the Easter Fire we had…

wp-15866952250752092101691840535070.jpg

The Light of Christ always was and is and will be shining. Christ’s love, His grace, His presence within us, a love stronger than death, bringing us from the darkness of this world to eternal life, comes from – just to say it – Jesus, who is always alive even in His momentary physical death. We see that glory of the only Begotten of the Father in the darkness of Calvary – glory unto glory of the Light from Light, a love that is proven, with wounds, with taking on our punishment of our sin, standing in our place, the Innocent for guilty, to have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us. We all look upon Him whom we have all pierced.

Because He endured to the end, dying for us, He conquered, and is is victorious. He has the right to give us the wherewithal, that grace, that friendship, that we might walk with Him in this world right unto the next, even with our justly still suffering the effects of original sin, our own personal sin, and the sin of others while we are yet in this world. We are weak and continue to be weak. But He is strong and draws us up into His strength.

Even the weakness helps us, reminding us of why we need salvation out of the total hell of this world so that we might be brought to heaven in eternity. We are so very weak that we need to be reminded. All things work together for the benefit of those who believe. We find our security in His love that is, again, stronger than any weakness, stronger than any disease, stronger than death. This brings us joy, and a peace adequate to go on because this is not just some intellectual “ideology”, but a living faith, a bond of charity with God Himself. It’s personal.

Yes, there is an empty Saint Peter’s Square and empty Saint Peter’s Basilica:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So what?! Everyone is scampering to meet Jesus in the upper room and then up in Galilee. Great. I’m running 24/7 all this time. Aren’t you? Peter and the “other Apostle” ran to see the Empty Tomb. Great. But then what…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“Let’s go fishing…”

We are so very weak.

More on that later.

Meanwhile, this is the Octave of Easter. It’s like Easter Sunday every day until next Sunday.

I, for one, am exhausted from my scampering about. I can’t speak much about all that as there are different interpretations of the law regarding quarantines. I just do what I need to do to provide the Sacraments. Clever as snakes but innocent as doves and all that. But, thanks be to God, I am joyful, and at peace. Thanks be to God.

I hope ye are all doing well. Happy Easter to ye all. Be at peace. With joy.

6 Comments

Filed under Coronavirus, Jesus, Spiritual life

Coronavirus and people at Mass: Instruction from Kateri Tekakwitha

wp-15861369724436265566954817800553.png

From Wikipedia: “Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, given the name Tekakwitha, baptized as Catherine and informally known as Lily of the Mohawks (1656 – April 17, 1680), is a Catholic saint who was an Algonquin–Mohawk laywoman. Born in the Mohawk village of Ossernenon, on the south side of the Mohawk River in present-day New York State, she contracted smallpox in an epidemic; her family died and her face was scarred. She converted to Catholicism at age nineteen, when she was renamed Kateri, and baptized in honor of Saint Catherine of Siena. Refusing to marry, she left her village and moved for the remaining five years of her life to the Jesuit mission village of Kahnawake, south of Montreal on the St. Lawrence River in New France, now Canada. Tekakwitha took a vow of perpetual virginity. Upon her death at the age of 24, witnesses said that minutes later her scars vanished and her face appeared radiant and beautiful. Known for her virtue of chastity and mortification of the flesh, as well as being shunned by some of her tribe for her religious conversion to Catholicism, she is the fourth Native American to be venerated in the Catholic Church and the first to be canonized. Under the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, she was beatified in 1980 and canonized by Pope Benedict XVI at Saint Peter’s Basilica on 21 October 2012. Various miracles and supernatural events are attributed to her intercession.”


Now, to the instruction on assisting the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass without being physically present. I may well be mistaken on the source of what will be presented below but its entirely Catholic and orthodox. I’m going to blame Father Robert J Fox, who was pastor of a tiny church in the outback, if you will, of Alexandria, South Dakota. I had been with him on the very first of his Fatima Youth Cadets pilgrimages to Fatima way back in the 1970s. Lots of great stories with that trip. Just great. But that got me reading some things written by this country priest, including Saints and Heroes Speak. That turned into a series of books. One of the chapters was on Kateri Tekakwitha. Again, I’m not sure that I’m reporting exactly what he wrote. And what he wrote may well have been inspired by Kateri, but I don’t know if there are historical sources to back that up. But again, the instruction is entirely Catholic, profoundly entrenched in humble thanksgiving before the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

Unable to attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for lack of priests some 335 years ago in North Woods of upstate New York and Southern Canada, and for lack of sufficient health to be able to attend in person, Kateri had another way of assisting at Holy Mass. She would unite herself with Jesus wherever He might be being offered in the Holy Mass at the moment throughout the world.

This is a matter of love. Walking the in the presence of the Lord Jesus – as I like to mention all the time in homilies and in conversations – isn’t just some sort of weirdly faked spirituality congratulating oneself for walking with our Lord, making oneself special because of being sooooooooooooo spiritual! No. Not at all. The walking in the presence of our Lord thing is – how to say? – a matter of being in this world, being “in the body”. Here’s the deal:

  • Our dear Lord was “in the body”, as it were, when He was tortured to death in front of His dear Mother. He was “in the body” when He celebrated the Last Supper, when He united His offering of Himself there for us, the Innocent for the guilty – This is my Body given for you in Sacrifice – This is the chalice of my Blood given for you in Sacrifice – having the right in His own justice to have mercy on us.
  • Our dear Lord is “in the body”, as it were, when He is offered in that self-same Last Supper at every moment throughout the world in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We offer Him as He is now, risen from the dead, but, as Saint John writes in the Apocalypse, as the Lamb of Sacrifice, standing and therefore alive and risen from the dead, but still bearing the marks of slaughter upon Him. The Sacrament of the this great Sacrifice is – in transubstantiation – the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus, Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception.
  • We are not to forget the wounds of our Lord. We are not to forget His being “in the body” not only on the Cross, on Calvary, but also at the Last Supper, and therefore in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which is precisely one and the same, today as yesterday, Jesus, ever ancient, ever new, present to us, in the body, with the wounds today as yesterday. This is a matter of love. Our hearts and souls and minds are with Him in the Holy Sacrifice, in solidarity with Him as He is in solidarity with us. While we are “in the body” in this world, we are with Christ Jesus, the Son of the Living God, who is also still, to this day, to this hour, to this minute, “in the body” in the world in the Most Blessed Sacrament, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Did Kateri catch on to something in all friendship with Jesus, in all humble thanksgiving for His great love for us at every moment, following the Lamb whithersoever He goes among us in this dark world while we, His little flock, is still here before He calls us to be on our way to heaven? Yes. Yes she did.

I have many stories about being assigned over the years to mission churches dedicated to the North American Martyrs and to Kateri herself. We also had a statue dedicated to her way back when I was a kid in Minnesota. But that’s a post for another day.

Here’s the deal, again: Saints and Heroes continue to speak to this day. We are one family. Don’t be merely alone. Be alone together. Be in the communion of saints, also on this earth.


mass clock prayer2

mass clock prayer

I had a big part in keeping this all alive some 35 years ago. But that’s another story. I’d like to revive this.


Back to the Last Supper of Da Vinci with no Apostles up top of this post: It’s just not true. Be in the body wherever you are. Be with Jesus in the body wherever He is. Just don’t go out into the dark, so to speak, as it were. Be with Jesus.

11 Comments

Filed under Coronavirus, Eucharist, Saints, Spiritual life

Coranavirus: We have all been exposed – by Lisa Cherry

COVID-19

WE HAVE ALL BEEN EXPOSED
– March 25,2020 by Lisa Cherry, Frontline Family Ministries

Expose our junk, Lord, lay it bare before You.
We’ve all been exposed.
Not necessarily to the virus.
(maybe…who even knows)
We’ve all been exposed BY the virus.

Corona is exposing us.
Exposing our weak sides.
Exposing our dark sides.
Exposing what normally lays far beneath the surface of our souls,
hidden by the invisible masks we wear.
Now exposed by the paper masks we can’t hide far enough behind.

Corona is exposing our addiction of comfort.
Our obsession with control.
Our compulsion to hoard.
Our protection of self.

Corona is peeling back our layers.
Tearing down our walls.
Revealing our illusions.
Leveling our best-laid plans.

Corona is exposing the gods we worship:
Our health
Our hurry
Our sense of security.
Our favorite lies
Our secret lusts
Our misplaced trust.

Corona is calling everything into question:
What is the church without a building?
What is my worth without an income?
How do we plan without certainty?
How do we love despite risk?

Corona is exposing me.
My mindless numbing
My endless scrolling
My careless words
My fragile nerves.

We’ve all been exposed.
Our junk laid bare.
Our fears made known.
The band-aid torn.
The masquerade done.

So what now? What’s left?
Clean hands
Clear eyes
Tender hearts.

What Corona reveals, God can heal.
Come Lord Jesus.
Have mercy on us.

7 Comments

Filed under Coronavirus, Spiritual life

God’s glory in the Face of Christ: What happened to Jesus’ Face on Mt Carmel

Jesus’ Face is our face. Are we in solidarity with Jesus while He is in solidarity with us, He, standing in our place, the Innocent for the guilty? Here’s Saint Paul:

  • “For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.” (2 Corinthians 4:6-12 rsv)

Once you’ve seen these stations, you can’t un-see them. But, the intensity of them… Well, it all bears repeating.

  • Being reminded of how far our dear Lord had to reach to get us in the hell of this world isn’t a bad thing, a hurtful thing, that which is meant to make us have bad feelings of despairing self-condemnation because we are all tender snowflakes absolutely entitled to spit on His face. No.
  • Being reminded of how far our dear Lord had to reach to get us in the hell of this world is a good thing. It should elicit an assent to the love which He gives to us.

I made this set of videos (about 20 minutes all told) during my time living just over the cave of Elijah on Mount Carmel, Israel. The OCDs had invited me to stay there for an entire month during the years that I was a chaplain at Lourdes. The chanting was recorded at the cave of Elijah, sung by pilgrims from around the world.

I must say that these videos are very emotional for me to watch to this day. What a fright! But… Jesus, Mary’s Son, is just that good and kind! Even though in watching these you don’t move from station to station yourself, I’m sure your heart will be transported to be right next to Jesus, to be with Him in solidarity, and to be right next to His dear mother as she accompanies our Lord, again in all solidarity. These stations rip the heart right out of my chest. Dear Lord…

Our Stations of the Cross here at Holy Redeemer in Andrews are “normal”, with pictures being used. The church is so small that any use of sculpted stations no matter how minimal in relief would block use of the side aisles. Everything is doubled over in both English and Spanish, except the Stabat Mater, which so far we’ve just sung in English. No one minds both languages as the common language is humble thanksgiving in witnessing our Lord’s great love for us. In fact, because of this, it goes the other way, with comments being about how wonderful it is that everyone comes together for the Stations.

Leave a comment

Filed under Prayer, Spiritual life

Calm quarantine strategies, not panic

pan

First  of all, we are not in any kind of stage of a quarantine of any kind. San Francisco called for a State of Emergency, but that was just a cynical move to release Federal monies they otherwise can’t get at this time for sanctuary cities. It has nothing to do with any COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus. No. Demoncrats are self-centered jerks and want to cause panic.

And I don’t say we are any kind of stage of a quarantine YET. No. That also would be to panic. See above.

Having said that, let’s take the worst case scenario – a declared pandemic – so as to point out how to avoid the worst case scenario, which would not refer to any medical condition (more people dying from the flu or smoking or car accidents…), but rather panic, which would be the logistical cause of death for hyperbolically more cases of death. So…

  • The other week a reporter asked POTUS Trump whether or not plans were already in place for the quarantine of entire cities if the need arises. He answered yes.
    • I’m sure that if this were to be effected it would be done so by the National Guard before anyone knows, including all law enforcement, who will likewise be quarantined in place in their cities.
    • Immediately after the National Guard is in place for a no one in-or-out scenario, health officials and law enforcement will be privy to policies and enforcement and rules of engagement.
    • It would be extremely helpful if in the same announcement it was said that food delivery trucks to supermarkets will have drop off locations at the border of the quarantine and that other trucks from inside will later come to pick up that food and deliver it to local supermarkets.
    • Gasoline deliveries? I guess they would have to be made when the stations are otherwise abandoned.
    • It would have to be stated that utilities will continue.
    • Extremely severe penalties for price gauging and looting would have to be stated.
  • demon panThe worst possible thing that could happen is panic. In that case, there will immediately be home invasions of idiots looking for food, not because there is any lack of food, but just because of panic. This will be done by those who have already been spending all their money on drugs. And they are well practiced with home invasions. Not good.
  • Panic in this sorry world of ours – the mob mentality which eliminates all “inhibitions” like reason and goodness and kindness and courage and fortitude and justice and mercy – the eliminator of all that is good in the chaos of panic is the demon-god Pan. This is not the too-cute and effeminate Peter Pan of Disney, but rather the ancient demon of all demons, Satan, who, as Jesus says, is a murderer from the beginning. Panic is the worst thing that can happen.
  • What is most needed in a Pan-Dem-ic is to not cave into panic, to not cave into Pan-Demon-ium. Get it? Pan in Greek means all or everything or everyone: “Everybody’s panicking!!!!!!!”
  • To panic is to give reverence to the demon-god pan. Panic makes one a worshiper of Pan. Panic makes one a pagan, an idol-worshiper. “Oooh! Pan told me to worry and have anxiety and to panic, so, therefore, of course, ever-obedient to demons, I will! I will panic! I will! I will! // off sarcasm.
  • So, an examination of conscience is in order. What or who is the most important thing, person, during a pandemic? Christ Jesus. If we have our spiritual lives squared away, if we are actually looking forward to going to heaven, trusting in the mercies of our Lord, we will not cave in to panic, we will not worship at the feet of Pan.
  • For atheists who mock faith in the time of crisis as the opiate of society, know this, the only ones I’ve ever seen help each other out in desperate times are believers. This is especially true in Socialist/Communist/Marxist countries. You know that’s true. I’ve seen it first hand. Believers have extraordinary strength of love and reason because of the love and truth they carry about within them coming from God Himself.

pieta

  • Where is God in all of this? Look for those who are trying to be helpful in all of this. Look at Jesus’ good mom holding God in her arms…
  • But why did God let this happen?
    • Let’s call to mind that original sin opened us up to all of this sickness and death and weakness of mind and weakness of will and emotions all over the place.
    • Let’s call to mind that God so loved that world despite our use of free will that He sent His only-Begotten Divine Son Jesus – basing mercy on justice – to stand in our place, the Innocent for the guilty, taking on the punishment we deserve so that He might have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us.
    • Let’s call to mind that God thus knows all about suffering, and all about combating panic and the horrific demon-god Pan.
    • Let’s call to mind that Jesus does give us the grace, His friendship, to be reasonable, to be calm, to be good and kind, not to panic, but to be helpful, pointing people to Him who is that love which is stronger than sickness, stronger than any pandemic, stronger than death, strong enough to bring us to eternal life, to our eternal home, where love and peace reign supreme. Heaven is our home and we are now – in this hell – in exile away from home. But we do have a home in heaven, and we right now carry about the way to that home, grace which St Paul says will turn to glory.

So, no worries then! Jesus, I joyously trust in You.

JESUS I AM

Meanwhile, I’ve lost 52.xx pounds on Keto so far, and I’m going off Keto soon, transitioning over to something more high protein and not neglecting carbs. Trundling off to Walmart grocery to stock up on non-Keto items, I noticed lots of almost empty shelves, just a few packages of oatmeal, a packet or two of lentil beans, that kind of thing. It looked like panic buying. That’s O.K. Those panic buyers are all set now and won’t be emptying out stores in panic buying. Don’t panic. Instead, drop off real dead weight that holds you back. Go to Confession!

4 Comments

Filed under Confession, Exorcism, Jesus, Law enforcement, Medicine, Military, Missionaries of Mercy, Spiritual life

Adoration: the Most Blessed Sacrament because Jesus is the One, the only One

wp-15805803235884101616491815962451.jpg

Total novices in the spiritual life often think they are well advanced in the spiritual life, and those who walk with our dear Lord throughout the day and night often think they are the most knuckleheaded among Jesus’ little flock. Truly. You just cannot, cannot, cannot judge yourself, proclaiming that you know you’re “advanced” because of this or that whatever that you think you recognize, say, in the writings of an Elizabeth of the Trinity, of a Thérèse of Lisieux, of a Teresa of Avila, of a John of the Cross, of…. of… Just. No. It doesn’t work that way.

Those who think they know where they are at are putting their attention on themselves. They walk with themselves. They do not walk with Jesus.

Here’s the deal, we do not have the beatific vision. We have no standard of comparison of where we are at. We are never adequate to judge ourselves. And even if we could get a somewhat accurate idea about ourselves before God, we would still be wrong. Indeed, even the great Saint Paul says he cannot judge himself. We are here upon this earth, while hopefully on our way to heaven, not in order to stagnate, but in order to grow. And that demands that we admit that we have room to grow.

A couple of years ago I met a young man who was thinking of going on a certain retreat for vocational discernment that had strict requirements for minimum and maximum age for participants. I asked how old he was, stupidly guessing 18 years of age. His response was utter dismay. He was 19 years old, and therefore, he insisted, so very much wiser, so very much more experienced, so very much more capable in every way than a mere 18 year old. It is he who has the wisdom of age. And how DARE I guess that he was a mere 18 years old. He was apoplectic about it. Well. Goodness. Alright then.

Any self congratulation is self condemnation.

Having said that – condemning myself, because that’s exactly what I do if I look to myself in any way whatsoever – I should like to relate an experience I had the other day here in the rectory, where there is a little chapel with the Blessed Sacrament. [The above picture is of our parish church the other day, not the chapel in the rectory!]

I was passing by the open door of this little chapel – greeting Jesus and Mary as I walked by – as I do a hundred times a day, but this time I was stopped dead in my tracks. It was as if Jesus and Mary were looking upon me with… well… with an attitude similar to that which I rejoiced to see in Rome with the Missionaries of Charity while the sisters would try to organize the geriatric street people in their hostel situated between the Colosseum and the Circus Maximus. These sisters were really tough, but with charity. But, oh my, they were tough! You have to be tough with street people, and with geriatric street people to boot. Jesus had to be tough, hanging on the Cross as He did for us, Innocent for the guilty. His good mom, Mary, had to be tough, standing under the Cross in solidarity with Jesus, and therefore in solidarity with us.

Back story: Many years ago, during the most intensely academic of my years at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, I determined that if I were to survive as a priest of Jesus Christ, I simply had to have an apostolate of some kind. Volunteering with the Missionaries of Charity was a natural choice for me since I was great friends with many of them all over the world. The sisters were desperate for a man to give showers to some few of the helpless geriatric men who were to be in residence with them long term. “Showers.” That’s a euphemism. “Shower” means literally scrapping off of these helpless geriatrics their diarrhea which was long dried and caked and melded into their stand-on-their-own trousers. The stench! After that, maybe some of their other medical problems and issues could be dealt with. But first things first. I did this one morning every week for years. And, yes, if you’re wondering, this did lead to the spiritual life where there was none before. Tears on their part. Rejoicing on my part. Seeing a soul contrite before the living God, even while getting dried and caked diarrhea scrapped off of you is entirely beautiful to behold. “What you did for the least of these you did to Me” and all that.

Which brings me back to my stopped-dead-in-my-tracks walking by the chapel door at the rectory experience. I was instantly in the place of any one of the geriatric street geezers at that hospice, while Jesus and Mary were in the place of the Missionaries of Charity. Jesus was discussing with Mary what could possibly be done for me to wake me up to the glories of the Living God right before us, with me being so blind to all of this. I have no idea about that discussion, except my own two-fold reaction to the fact of it:

  • On the one hand I realized a bit more of my dire need, also that I was ignorant of knowing most of that of which I am in need.
  • On the other hand I rejoiced that Jesus and Mary had me in mind.

Those are both things that we can know and rejoice in on an intellectual level. It’s just that this were very personally to the center of heart and mind and soul, with the emphasis on a personal connection with them, even if I was just another of the geriatric old street geezers needing a bit of help from them. I could see that they did this in their great love that had nothing whatsoever to do with anything about any worthiness or unworthiness of mine. This was about their entirely gratuitous great love.

That’s the kind of thing that wins my heart over to the Heart of Jesus, you know, like the soldier on Calvary, after he had thrust his sword into the Heart of Jesus. That’s when that soldier knew that Jesus was the One, the only One. That soldier then immediately said: “Truly this is the Son of God.” No self congratulation there. It’s all about Jesus. Jesus is the One. The only One.

Should anyone proclaim that surely I’m a sinner in this way or that, you know, the usual, that I’m lazy because I don’t bilocate, that I’m gluttonous because I’ve had to go on a Keto diet (44+ pounds now lost in 2.5 months), that I’m a slob because I didn’t trim my beard today, and so on, my response is that they should update their condemnations, and say that I’ve crucified the Son of the Living God. I have. But while I have Jesus’ words “Father! Forgive them!” ringing in my ears while I continue to do my worst, piercing open the Heart of Jesus like that soldier, in recognizing that that’s what I would absolutely do if without the grace of God, that’s also my invitation to take the attention off myself and put it on Jesus, proclaiming “Truly this is the Son of God.”

And that’s how Jesus and Mary scrape the s*** off of yours truly and have me know that I’m part of the family, rejoicing that I can thank not me for this, but them alone.

Experiences like this speak nothing whatsoever about one’s growth in the spiritual life. Such experiences might speak to the fact that one needs special help, because of almost being a lost cause. Although nothing is impossible with God. Whether we notice that we are noticed by Jesus and our blessed Mother, we are nevertheless taken under their charge. We are all their special projects. We are all in need of being set right by them. For me, it is perhaps that I am in such need of getting a kick in the back end that I noticed the two of them noticing just me, a donkey priest. Not a vision, not a locution, no. Just my blackest and beadiest of black and beady hearts averting to the fact that Jesus is the One, the only One, and that His Mother is ours. Please God I will follow up on this. Our time is so short upon this earth.

1 Comment

Filed under Adoration, Priesthood, Spiritual life, Vocations

Priestly Celibacy, Jesus, Pachamama BS

crucifix drawing john of the cross

People put forward all sorts of “nice” arguments in favor of priestly celibacy, economic, logistical, practical, in favor of availability for anything and everything from missionary work to being moved from parish to parish and so on. I don’t buy any of those arguments. All of those could be overcome in one way or another. Putting priestly celibacy on the level of expedience is the fastest way to get rid of celibacy altogether, as these are all disciplinary. The debate – dialogue if you want – would be unending.

Forget all that rubbish! Let’s talk about doctrine. Let’s talk JESUS. He’s never mentioned in this except for things like – and this is truly stupid – “Jesus was celibate.” Yeah, well, He’s a special case isn’t He? So, drop that dumb argument as well.  Along the same lines, forget the bit about the Apostles not being married. They were in special circumstances as well.

On the other side, with Peter being married (remember the mother-in-law having the fever account?), that doesn’t hold either, as it seems from what we can surmise from Matthew 19:12 (I’ll get to that) and Paul’s letter to Titus, Peter surely became celibate. Not only would Peter be following up on Matthew 19:12, but he would be in line with this continuing tradition as spoken of later by Saint Paul, the the clergy are to be married but once, that is, to the Church. It would be insanity to say that “married only once” only refers to not being divorced and remarried, or to polygamy that they did not practice at that time. So, again:

Let’s speak of Jesus:

  • Jesus stood in our place, Innocent for the guilty, having the right in His own justice to have mercy on us, redeeming us from original sin and personal sin.
  • If we want, He forgives us, sanctifies us, makes us one with Himself, with the Body of Christ, Jesus the Head of the Body, we the members of the Body, as St Paul says.
  • We were created as the image of God, male and female, marriage and the family, as is eloquently pointed out in Genesis.
  • Jesus redeems that image and saves us by it by way of His own marriage with His bride the Church, as spoken about countless times explicitly throughout Old and New Testaments.
  • The marriage vows of Jesus, rendered in mercy founded on justice, are recited by the priest in the first person singular at the Sacrifice of the Mass, the Last Supper united with Calvary, at the Consecrations, those wedding vows:
    • This is my Body being given for you… in sacrifice
    • This is my Blood being poured out for you… in sacrifice
  • The priest is married to the Church by the Sacrifice he daily offers at the altar. How dare anyone say that a priest is NOT married. What an insult to both Jesus and the priest. How dark and hateful is that insult. How damnable.

Having said all that, let’s mention a few hateful assertions:

  • The stupid man says: “Priests should get married because that will cut down on abuse.” No, that superstitiously throws one sacrament at another sacrament as if that’s going to solve grave psychological issues and sin. All you are going to get is more incest.
  • The stupid man says: “Let’s ordain priests to say Mass but nothing else.” No, that just sets up people going to Holy Communion without any opportunity to confess their sins and be forgiven, which is the point of the Sacrifice of Jesus in the first place.
  • The stupid man says: “Let’s have women priests.” No, that just sets up an anti-image of God anti-redemption. Jesus redeems with a marriage, Himself with His BRIDE the Church (as we see throughout all the Scriptures). This is to redeem the image of God in us as at creation: male and female as the image of God in marriage and the family. The image of God is NOT lesbian, nor homosexual.
  • The stupid man says: “Let’s have temporary priests.” No, that’s like a self-serving divorce, the ol’ “Here for the good times, gone for the bad times.” This is about not sticking around as a father of the family. No father =  extreme high risk of bad kids. The stats are insane on that. Check them out. I’ve always seen the same in revolving door parishes where the priests are changed out even multiple times a year, where priests are not pastors, just administrators, just there for the quicky, so to speak, and then gone, leaving their parishes entrenched in clericalized power groups wanting to kill each other. Really, that’s NOT what Jesus wants.

Having said all that, what does Jesus want?

  • Jesus wants a priest after His own Heart, who is humble of heart, who has integrity and honesty, who loves the truth and virtue and goodness and kindness, shunning evil and corruption and wickedness and lies and all manner of darkness.
  • Jesus wants a man who is a tabernacle of the Holy Spirit.
  • Jesus wants a man who will sacrifice himself for his family of faith, not counting the cost, even life.
  • Jesus wants a man who will rejoice to see Him, Jesus, exercising His own ministry of High Priest in the parish, letting Jesus take the lead, no matter what.
  • Jesus wants a man who knows full well and rejoices in the fact that he recites his own wedding vows daily to his Bride the Church as he recites in the first person singular the wedding vows of Jesus to His Bride the Church at the Consecrations at Holy Mass: my body being given for you… in sacrifice, my blood being poured out for you… in sacrifice.

By the way, just to say, if priests would only be who they are supposed to be in being fathers of their parish families, knowing they are married to the Church, encouraging people to go to Confession and doing the same himself, providing for them what Christ Jesus and the Church have always wanted to be provided with Truth and Morality (the splendor of the Truth), there would never have been such an abuse crisis, or financial corruption, or seeking after “power”, or whatever other self-centered rubbish fallen human beings can come up with.

But I’ll tell you this, no liberal jerky-boy Bishop wants to speak of Jesus when it comes to priestly celibacy as that would destroy every bit of liberal agenda they have on any given topic. Destroy priestly celibacy, destroy the Church (as everything about the Sacrifice of Jesus will be ignored. We will have no understanding of marriage, or the redemption of the image of God. Nothing.

And don’t think that procrastination in dealing with already married Anglican clergy or the practice of some in the “Orthodox” churches is that which bears doctrine. It doesn’t.

  • That’s a lot of fallenness to deal with, you say? Sure. What did you expect. This goes to the absolutely heart of our faith, to the Sacred Heart of our Lord Himself.
  • This is about Jesus, so let priests know that they are married to the Church.
  • And, please, don’t be so afraid to share this and similar posts.

4 Comments

Filed under Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis, Priesthood, Priestly Celibacy, Priestly Celibacy Series, Spiritual life, Vocations

Australia’s fires: God’s love analogy heaven, hell, purgatory, and this world

australia fire

A picture of what is right now going on in Australia. A link to this was sent in a comment on a previous post about these fires: Procrastinating in a fire: hell! Note that in the picture above, the fragile leaves are still on the trees. One nanosecond before this picture was taken, these flames were not there.

Analogy: The Church is right now being purified and sanctified by the most fiery ardent love and truth of the Most Holy Spirit, sent by Our Heavenly Father and His dearest Divine Son, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, the Eternal Word of the Father now become flesh, as Saint John the Evangelist puts it, so that we might be formed to be one with the Body of Christ, Jesus the Head of the Body, we the members of the Body.

That ardent fire of love, God’s love (and God is Love), is always and for everyone good and kind, manifesting the very Truth of God:

  • In heaven this fiery love is received as the ardent love that it is, the saints having been purified of self-love, all calculation and political sycophancy.
  • Upon this earth this fiery love purifies us – as it has all the saints ever – from all self-love, all calculation and political sycophancy, that is, if we allow ourselves by God’s grace, by the graced humble acceptance of His proclamation, “I call you friends.” This humility is reverence in action, thanksgiving amidst this purification. Humility is needed so that we don’t entrench in entitlement to be self-loving only, utterly concerned with our concocted protectionism of ourselves not needing any salvation from self-love, all calculation and political sycophancy. It is God’s re-creating love which cuts through our self-congratulatory arrogance and opens us up to being one with the Body of Christ, Jesus the Head, and we the members of the Body, from every tribe and tongue and people and nation and culture and time and place. But, mind you, the purification of the fiery love of God, more fierce than the mere worldly fires pictured above, is a purging fire, like gold purified by fire. Graced humility has us be trained in – like all the saints – in piercing through the dross with this fiery love. The fiery love is our Paraclet, our Advocate, our Consolor, our Friend.
  • In purgatory this fiery love instructs the Holy Souls, who are by sanctifying grace the Tabernacles of this same Most Holy Spirit, who bear within themselves the presence by grace of the Most Holy Trinity, who are on their way to heaven where, as Saint Paul says, that grace will flourish in glory. Those Holy Souls (for whom we pray!) are instructed as to just how far Jesus had to reach into this world to get them, to get us, stretching out His hands from East to West, from the rising of the sun to its setting, upon the cross, standing in our place, the Innocent for the guilty, so that He might have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us. The depths of this truth is what these Holy Souls wanted somewhat to avoid, as it is a painful truth for us upon this earth who are so tempted to being self-congratulatory. Jesus really is our Savior, the One, the only One who can fill us, recreate us with the fiery love of God, with God’s presence. God is love. Once the Holy Souls are purged of any remnants of entitlement to think of themselves as their own saviors in any way on any level for whatever reason, once they have been instructed by this now purging and purifying fire – always God’s love, God being Love, they are then on their way to heaven, having been trained in for heaven, for their greatest joy in heaven, which will be to thank our Lord Jesus. We can’t thank Him if we don’t know what He has done for us. God reveals to those in purgatory what He has done for them. This is we should be allowing – by grace – to happen to us upon this earth. This is painful, as painful as being purged and purified and brought to humility, but by love, fiery ardent love. All the saints who went through purgatory either upon this earth or just after death, were purified of self-love, all calculation and political sycophancy.
  • In hell this fiery love is not at all received by those who are there. They don’t want it. They reject it. They blaspheme because of it. It is “burning” to them inasmuch as this brings their entire being into frustration and rebellion and hatred, on emotional, intellectual and spiritual levels: “NO! NOT GOD’S LOOOOVE!” They are reduced to nothing by the flames of God’s ardent fiery love. God can only be God. God is love. God provides His love to all. But it is received differently.

4 Comments

Filed under Nature, Spiritual life

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

elijah judas tree

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].

cherub-sword-eden

“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?]

discalced-carmelite-coat-of-arms

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.]

padre-pio-stigmata

“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!]

13 Comments

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

My friend: Neoscona crucifera spider, making friends of your enemies

img_20190918_052537~28471469832527198879..jpg

  • neo = new or newly
  • scona = beautiful // derived from badly pronounced German – perhaps referring to a more interesting color scheme as the spider grows. The red and red are striking.
  • cucifera = cross bearing // some patterns up top are very clearly cruciform

This guy is fairly big as spiders go. He can bite, hard, but there’s nothing that can hurt you. He’s great to have around natural insect control. I love it.

Typical of these orb-weavers, he’s been hanging around the doors of the church and at the end of the social hall of the parish in this late Summer, early Autumn time of year. The strands of the webs will cover doorways or stretch between buildings. Some might be temporarily surprised, but they get over it right away, and find it rather humorous.

Holy Spirit Saint Peter Window

Last night was no exception. Our bishop graciously made the four-hour trip from Charlotte to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation Wednesday evening. We had fourteen confirmands:

  • 11 from Holy Redeemer in Andrews
  • 1 from our Prince of Peace mission in Robbinsville
  • 2 from Immaculate Heart of Mary mission in Hayesville (of St William, Murphy)

Our next class (every two years) should be quite large as well. The Deacon from Maggie Valley Living Waters Retreat Center assisted, as did his son, who is the pastor of the next parish over, both good friends. It was the most packed we have ever had the church. The city of Andrews must have wondered what was happening, as all three parking lots were overflowing far unto the neighbors lawn. Ooops. Sorry about that!

Earlier in the day, in protective mode on behalf of the spider, I grabbed a stick and had him crawl onto it, and placed him up the steep ridge next to the campus. I’ve done this before and it’s taken him a day to get back. But, learning the ropes, he was back within hours and made a grand appearance at the reception after the Confirmation Mass.

The bishop and I ended up having a seat for a bite to eat outside the social hall at the end of the tables at the end of the carport, just where our spider friend dropped down on a bit of silk thread right in front of our faces. Haha! I swept my hand above the spider so as to drag the thread to the side. The spidey, not to be outdone, simply dropped into the food of one of the confirmands, which I immediately flicked off. Our confirmand said that spidey was crawling on me. I brushed him away, for the sake of those at table.

That didn’t work. Throughout the rest of the meal until the bishop was in his car, the spider kept returning to me. He was on a leg, on a hand, on my neck, on my head. Brushed away again and again. Back again and again. Quite the triumphalistic spider if you ask me. He was reeling himself in with his silk thread. I tried to ignore him as I was speaking with the bishop. To no avail. This went on for a good twenty to thirty minutes. The spider knows I don’t want to hurt him. The bishop was most amused. :-)

You have heard that it was said, keep your friends close to you and your enemies even closer. I say, made friends of your would-be supposed enemies. Our Lord did that with us, right?

3 Comments

Filed under Nature, Spiritual life

On the extreme violence of Saul and then Saint Paul, because Jesus…

Saint Paul Conversion Damascus Caravaggio

Amidst all the non-sense of the “Just.Wow.” moments in the past number of weeks (and I still must write much more about all that), a reader sent this in by email:

“Father ~ For he testifieth: Thou art a priest for ever according to the order of Melchizedech. Anyone else notice that?”

Answer: I think we’ve pretty much lost sight of what, of who a priest must be. A priest is the one who, with Christ Jesus, is to bring not peace, but the sword of division. Harsh words? Christ Jesus is deadly serious. Jesus is the One who spoke those words. Jesus is the One who died in extreme violence because of those words. Just note His wounds from having been tortured to death with extreme violence on the Cross. Yep. Extreme violence. Because that’s exactly what sin has done to our souls, to society. If anyone is without God’s grace, that person will use violence, and finally, when pushed, extreme violence with anyone who bears the goodness and kindness and truth of Jesus. He said it Himself: As the Master, so the disciple. Saint Paul would end up meeting with that extreme violence himself, getting decapitated.

But when Jesus pursued Saul so as to make of him Saint Paul, that young Saul was the best student of the Law, and was zealous to the point of an off-kilter extreme violence, so much so that he was unthinking in all of his academic prowess, and decided to put his thoughts into action in the most cowardly way, which is typical. He armed himself with letters of authorization, and then chased off to Damascus with a posse to drag the new Christians out of their houses, the elderly, the middle-aged, the youngsters, the infants, the sucklings at the breast, so as to put them in chains and death-march them back to Jerusalem for trial as heretics, so that he could have the sick joy of executing them. He had blood on his hands already for having assisted at the stoning to death of the new Deacon, Saint Stephen. He couldn’t wait for more.

And then our Lord appeared to him and asked Saul why he was so set on persecuting Him, Jesus, for to persecute the ones Saul was running after was to persecute Jesus personally. Saul converted to Saint Paul. But with all that history of violence in a very violent society, Saint Paul used vocabulary of extreme violence:

“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. For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-12)

Saint Paul would have us all die off, that is, that we be crucified to the world, the flesh and the devil, to our fallen human spirits, so that we might live for Jesus. More succinctly, Saint Paul would kill us off with truth, with goodness and kindness, so that we can live for that truth and goodness and kindness by the power of that truth and goodness and kindness, by the power of Jesus’ life within us.

And then there’s Jesus, you know, with extreme-violence statements about us taking up the instrument of torture and death, the cross, and carrying this, following Him, into battle, with hell. Peaceniks beware! We’re out to kill you! Um… you know, with goodness and kindness and truth. I know a lady who kills people all the time, really evil people… she kills them with kindness. And I’ve seen people melt with such kindness, and they are killed off to themselves, and do change. God is good.

Jesus said that the violent are taking heaven, taking it with violent force. Yep. How’s that? Not with our evil violence. No no. But with a violence that is extreme, incomparably more violent than anything we can come up with: mercy. And while the cynics click away in haughty fear, real fear, running away in the confusion of fear, consider this: there is nothing more violent to ourselves, more geared to having us killed off, than the mercy we receive from Jesus in forgiveness. It kills us off to ourselves to live for him. But that does real violence to us. It is that violence of mercy, of forgiveness, that disrupts peoples lives for the better, which we want to bring others. Kill them all! You know, kill them all off with kindness, with goodness and kindness and truth.

Leave a comment

Filed under Saints, Spiritual life

Devil Dog’s Son, Fr Byers: ironic proof

image

Yours truly on a day-off, of sorts. Smiling and what all. The gall. A snake-handler preacher man ruint with longevity. Way too snarky. Having waaaay tooooo much fun. And who ever heard of a day off for a priest anyway? Sounds demonic. Anyone who casts out Satan must be doing this by Satan, and is a devil himself, a downright snake in the grass. And… and… I’m the Son of a Devil Dog. So, that seals it.

VMFA 312 Marine Fighter Attack Pilot Devil Dog six 50 cals

While the USMC in general has a nickname of Devil Dogs, dad was a commander of the Checkerboard Marine Fighter Attack Squadron of gullwing F4U Corsairs (VMFA 312) each sporting six 50 Cals and having the logo of a Devil Dog carrying the same. But the idea that the Marines are Devil Dogs isn’t that they are demonic. Here’s a one minute recruiting commercial about that:

The idea of extreme violence of a Devil Dog is not that goodness and kindness and truth are suppressed. No no. Instead, it is to bring goodness and kindness and truth to those who are happy to receive it even if it means battling in hell to do it, and looking, for that reason, finally coming out of hell, very much like the devil himself for having fought battles in hell over against the devil, that serpent who, for all his bluster, has been vanquished by Christ. I mean, isn’t it true that Christ Jesus looked demonically criminal on the Cross for having battled all of that hell that was broken out all at once against Him on Calvary?

Jesus crucified passion of the christ

One of the greatest defeats of contemporary mankind is the loss of a sense of irony. We don’t see behind the truths plainly spoken to see… the truth! What to do when we are just learning to live with Him who is Truth, but who for all intents and purposes and constructions looks to be Untruthfulness. He did that for our sake, by the way, laying down His life for us, the Innocent for the guilty, so that He might have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us. I might have said that once or twice before… ;-) Jesus is very much the Devil Dog Himself. You don’t think so? A blasphemy you say? Let’s review something I’ve many times posted, but not in a while. It bears a re-reading. We MUST get a sense of irony back if we are to be Christian, if we are to have a sense of identity, a solid base from which to work, that is, a oneness with Christ Jesus, Himself Irony Incarnate, as it were, so to speak, a Devil Dog. Let’s turn to the great historian Hilaire Belloc once again, for, after all, we bear the burden of being naive, or, as he says, “young”, “pure”, “ingenuous”, so easily thrown into fear, unthinking, cowardly fear. Enough of that! Behold: irony!

hilaire belloc“To the young, the pure, and the ingenuous, irony must always appear to have a quality of something evil, and so it has, for […] it is a sword to wound. It is so directly the product or reflex of evil that, though it can never be used – nay, can hardly exist – save in the chastisement of evil, yet irony always carries with it some reflections of the bad spirit against which it was directed. […] It suggests most powerfully the evil against which it is directed, and those innocent of evil shun so terrible an instrument. […] The mere truth is vivid with ironical power […] when the mere utterance of a plain truth labouriously concealed by hypocrisy, denied by contemporary falsehood, and forgotten in the moral lethargy of the populace, takes upon itself an ironical quality more powerful than any elaboration of special ironies could have taken in the past. […] No man possessed of irony and using it has lived happily; nor has any man possessing it and using it died without having done great good to his fellows and secured a singular advantage to his own soul.” [Hilaire Belloc, “On Irony” (pages 124-127; Penguin books 1325. Selected Essays (2/6), edited by J.B. Morton; Harmondsworth – Baltimore – Mitcham 1958).]

If there’s any proof that I’m a Devil Dog, it’s that I love such irony in the face of my being the most naive, the “youngest”, the “purist”, the most “ingenuous”, the most stupid idiot in the world, unable to appreciate such truths until they smack me down with such extreme violence that I gotta pay attention. It’s like Thomas the doubting Apostle. I’m forced to put my finger into the holes the nails made in the hands and feet of Christ. I’m forced to put my hand into the side of Christ, where I touch that beating heart, still pierced open. “My Lord and my God,” I blurt out. The irony is, I’m the absolute last person who would ever say that. Not me. I’m the one who put those wounds there. But the truth, “vivid with ironical power”, shines the light, and makes me a Devil Dog too. Thank you Jesus, you who want to make us all Devil Dogs.

3 Comments

Filed under Humor, Jesus, Military, Spiritual life