Category Archives: Spiritual life

The pearl of great price. That’s you.

spider

When we hear the parable of the pearl of great price, you know, the one that the merchant sees and sells everything he has so that he can purchase it, and that’s like the Kingdom of Heaven, at least I am tempted to think that that’s me, or should be, you know, the merchant who finds the pearl of great price and sells everything he has to get it. But imagine that for a second: sell your car, your house, your computer, everything. Well then, now I know that that’s not me at all. I’m so bad at all this that if I see such a pearl it’s just as likely to be me looking at a dead spider. Then I think I could never be the merchant. Wait a minute….

Jesus is the merchant of the Kingdom of Heaven who buys me, the pearl, at the great price of Himself. He sees who I can be in His grace by redemption and salvation. I may be like the dead spider above, but He makes me who He wants by His grace. Thank you, Jesus.

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Ἐξομολογοῦμαί σοι, πάτερ – I am being one Word with you, Father (Mt 11:25)

cherub-sword-eden

Ἐξομολογοῦμαί σοι, πάτερ (Mt 11:25) – Let’s see… Is that, “I praise you, Father…” No, no. How about “I thank you”? Or “I confess you”? Or “I profess you”? No, no, no. It’s more like “I am intensely in agreement with you, Father.” Quite literally: “I am being one Word with you, Father.” One Word, The Word of the Father, now Incarnate, with the darkness finally grasping at the Light on the Cross (see John’s Prologue) because of His walking among us until we walk Him to the Cross.

“Father, Lord of heaven and earth: you have hidden these things from the sophisticated and the clever and uncovered these things to mere infants.”

Back in 1990 Cardinal Ratzinger gave a conference to the bishops of the United States down in Texas. In my opinion, which I shared with him in our exchange about my thesis back in September of 2008, this was perhaps his most significant theological / anthropological intervention of his life. He spoke of two memories that we carry with us in our souls, weighing upon us with all the glory of God,  whether we realize it or not:

  • There is a memory of the pristine state of mankind, a memory now buried underneath all the weakness and darkness consequent to the sin in what was a Garden of Paradise (Eden) but now is more apt as the Garden of Gethsemane.
  • There is a memory of what Salvation, Jesus, brought to us at the Last Supper (“Do this in memory of me.”) When we call this to mind, this Truth because of this Love, this putting our fingers into the nail wounds and our hands into the side, the Heart of our Lord, we are made one with the Creator of everything pristine.

The great theologian said that we don’t move from the memory of what is pristine to the memory of what our Lord has done for us, but rather, go in reverse, necessarily, our Lord taking us by the hand and guiding us to be in touch with the Heart that would make what is pristine one with the Most Holy Trinity, through Him, with Him, in Him.

We are all cowardly and nervous before our weakness consequent to original sin. The sophisticated and clever condemned by our Lord reject His Truth and His love and entrench in rationalizing their being of one word, as it were, with the world, the flesh and the devil. Those who are mere infants don’t trust in their own strength they know they don’t have, but rather allow themselves to be drawn to Him while He is lifted up on the Cross (see John 12:32), gaining the memory of what He has done for us at the Last Supper (given for in sacrifice… poured out for you in sacrifice), and thus gaining not only the memory of whatever pristine being renewed, but so much more in being made one with the Mystical Body of Christ, Jesus, Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception.

On a personal note, today, I don’t know why, but I am utterly blown away by Jesus “being one Word with the Father” and us being one with Jesus… and… oh my… with the Father.

lamb of god

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Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin – Analysis of the lyrics

Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin

[[Analysis of the lyrics: It strikes me that there is an analogy with the parable of the ten virgins, five wise and five foolish in Matthew 25:1-13, the latter of whom think they can buy that lamp-oil of God’s grace, that idiocy acting as a foil by which to interpret Genesis 2:4–3:24 in view of Jacob’s ladder (see Genesis 11:1-9), etc. Most probably the writer for Led Zeppelin meant something totally different, but I’m happy to have my own imagination. Lighten up. :¬) Anyway, this is a desperately melancholy ballad. And, by the way, the second of the two paintings in the video above (the one you also see before starting the video) is in the exact same style as a mural painted in my Catholic high school back in the day.]]

There’s a lady who’s sure
All that glitters is gold [[ In other words, a soul totally spaced out narcissistic idiot utterly given over to peripheral, unimportant, sensory overloading. ]]
And she’s buying a stairway to heaven. [[She’s so very special in her own eyes that she’s even her own redeemer. She can buy anything, even a stairway to heaven.]]
When she gets there [[the stairway store!]] she knows
If the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for. [[Sure she can! Riiiiiiggghhht!]]
Ooh ooh and she’s buying a stairway to heaven. [[Soooo melancholic.]]
There’s a sign on the wall [[Iesu Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum]]
But she wants to be sure [[One can never have certainty when one remains on the level of mind games, which insist that words can have two meanings.]]
‘Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings. [[Satan, a liar and murderer from the beginning brings that about.]]

fatima lucia trinity mercy

Tree with the Fountain of Salvation with the Holy Spirit convicting us of our sin by way of offering forgiveness.

In a tree by the brook
There’s a songbird who sings, [[[The Tree of the Living Ones with the fruit of everlasting life, from whom springs living water, see John 4:14, with that songbird of the second creation at the redemption already having been mentioned at the first creation hovering over the waters, see Genesis 1:2.]]
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven. [[But even given that, we are so very weak after original sin and our thoughts become confused with nervous rationalization and attempts at self-redemption.]] 
Ooh, it makes me wonder, [[overthinking it, falling into counting on oneself?]]
Ooh, it makes me wonder. [[uh-oh… overthinking it…]]
There’s a feeling I get [[“feeling”]]
When I look to the west, [[Adam and his wife leave from from East of the Garden, in other words, they are looking toward the West in driven out.]]
And my spirit is crying for leaving. [[The Paradise aspect of the Garden.]]
In my thoughts I have seen [[perhaps now for metanoia?]]
Rings of smoke through the trees,
And the voices of those who standing looking. [[The cherubim with their sword of fire for our conversion protecting the Tree of the Living Ones amidst the other trees.]]
Ooh, it makes me wonder,
Ooh, it really makes me wonder. [[So, still overthinking at this point? Falling into the mind game thing? Ready to fall? We are so weak after original sin.]]
And it’s whispered that soon, [[Adam’s sin and judgment against it.]] If we all call the tune [[We’re in control! We can “call” it! Self-redemption! Here, original sin has paved the way for our own sin.]]

pan

Then the piper will lead us to reason. [[Because – Hey! – the Piper (Pan, the Demon of all demons, the Ancient Dragon, Satan) can have us continue mind games of “reason” by which he was able to deceive Adam and his wife! But, of course, reason over against obedience to God in heaven is not reasonable while love in obedience to God in heaven makes it all reasonable.]]
And a new day will dawn [[the New Adam, the Redeemer promised in Genesis 3:15]]
For those who stand long [[“Stand”, that is, not following after the piper.]]
And the forests will echo with laughter. [[That’s all of us in scriptural symbolism; also, all of creation awaits with eager expectation of the revelation of the sons of God: see Romans 8:19.]]
If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow, [[the Holy Spirit overshadowing the Virgin Mary.]]
Don’t be alarmed now, [[Saint Gabriel to Mary: Luke 1:29-30]]
It’s just a spring clean for the May queen. [[The Immaculate Mother of the Redeemer.]]
Yes, there are two paths you can go by [[that is, now that the Redeemer has come: that of the Tree of the Living Ones with the gift of enmity over against Satan, or that of the Tree of Knowing good admixed with evil.]]
But in the long run
There’s still time to change the road you’re on. [[That’s true, avoiding presumption, or also repenting from that presumption. This announces continued belligerent sin, but, also, possibly, final repentance.]]
And it makes me wonder. [[Still overthinking it? Still subject to the consequences of original sin, particularly being subject to the mind games of Satan, still being tempted to those mind games. Thus:]]
Your head is humming and it won’t go
In case you don’t know,
The piper’s calling you to join him, [[As long as we are in the world, the prince of this world, the prince of darkness, Satan is after us, enticing us with his mind games.]]
Dear lady [[not the May queen, not the Immaculate Mother of the Redeemer, but the soul still unfortunately looking to redeem itself.]], can you hear the wind blow, [[a wonderful reference to Genesis 3:8 when God approaches to announce judgment against Satan and also the redemption to come.]]
And did you know [[a bit of most wonderful irony is now to be stated:]]
Your stairway lies on the whispering wind. [[Again, Genesis 3:8; and the stairway is the Divine Son of the Mother of the Redeemer (see Jacob’s ladder, Genesis 28:11-22, and, directly in reference to Jesus, John 1:51); however, He is a stairway that cannot be bought.]]
And as we wind on down the road [[uh-oh… which one of the two?]]
Our shadows taller than our soul. [[The road of evil has been chosen, going away from the light, with all becoming darker. Can the soul come back: “In the long run there’s still time to change”?]]
There walks a lady we all know
Who shines white light [[the Immaculate Mother of the Redeemer who provides her Divine Son to us with that enmity, that grace, that “white light.” But, more intense irony here:]] and wants to show
How ev’rything still turns to gold. [[“Still”, that is, not in the same way in which one started, but the redemption turning our sin into an occasion for receiving new life, heaven, as Saint Augustine says: “O felix culpa! Oh happy fault!]]
And if you listen very hard [[That is, receptive, not attempting to redeem oneself, but receiving the new heavenly music.]]
The tune will come to you at last. [[This is in utter contrast with the music of the “piper” which, instead, harasses and is seemingly inescapable: “Your head is humming and it won’t go.” This new tune, starting from that discordant note – as pointed out by Ven. Archbishop Fulton J Sheen – brings all into harmony.]]
When all are one and one is all [[see 1 Corinthians 15:28]]
To be a rock and not to roll. [[see, e.g., Numbers 20:11; Psalm 18:32, 73:26; John 7:37, 19:34; 1 Corinthians 10:4… Christ is the rock (ubiquitous bedrock), we are finally one with Him, so, moving down the wrong path is not the choice to make, though it can still be made.]]
And she’s buying a stairway to heaven. [[Sooo melancholic. Still sin. Still thinking oneself to be in control even of one’s own redemption. This is the temptation of the soul after being tossed from the paradise aspect of the garden, thinking we can simply reach out our hand to grasp at the fruit of the Tree of the Living Ones as we think that then, by our actions, we will redeem ourselves and live forever; see Genesis 3:22. No. Doesn’t work that way. But, in this song there is hope held out to the soul if the soul will listen: “But in the long run there’s still time to change the road you’re on.]]

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

So, there we have it, my imagination about the lyrics. As I say, I enjoy having an imagination. :¬) One thing, however, which I try to avoid at all costs, is to have any imagination which it comes to the interpretation of Scripture. In that case, no novelty, nothing new, only that which is ever ancient, ever new.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (That’s nice but… edition)

flores zillion pink

In hagiographical lore it is said that there was once a woman renowned far and wide for her captivating beauty and that Jesus appeared to a saint who was acquainted with her and asked him whether he thought that she was beautiful. He said that, yes, she was very beautiful. But our Lord was quick to disagree, and rather sharply, saying that she was quite ugly, she knowing nothing of the faith, she not living in grace, she not being a tabernacle of the Holy Spirit. Then, some time later, after her conversion, our Lord again appeared to the same saint and asked the same question, but then answering it Himself, that now, yes, she was radiantly beautiful, for she now enjoyed the indwelling of the Most Holy Trinity, it being this which made her beautiful.

“The Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Meanwhile, the most beautiful of all, Immaculate Mary, free of all sin, radiant in sanctifying grace, said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name” (Luke 1:46-49).

She knew that also she needed redemption to enjoy the indwelling of the Most Holy Trinity from the first moment of her conception. There was no one more thankful than her. It is good also for us who are conceived in sin to now thank the Lord for the grace He provides to us:

“It is good to give thanks to Yahweh, to sing praise to your name, Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning, your faithfulness in the night” (Psalm 92:2-3).

 

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Put “Grey”[!] in perspective: humor

From time to time gracious readers remind me of a couple videos of the outdoor Stations of the Cross I had made while living above Elijah’s cave on Mount Carmel. The stations feature quite a lot of grey. Heart wrenching, really…

The music / singing comes from the cave of Elijah, which fairly continuously acts as a stage for choirs both Jewish (often IDF) and Catholic.

Readers of this blog know that I am rather annoyed right now with a certain “Grey”[!] guy: ♬ring♬ His safety isn’t guaranteed. It’s your fault if he dies. Stop him. *click*

So, one reader, not only reminded me of the grey in the videos above, but, for the sake of lightening it up a bit, for the sake of a bit of humor, for the sake of seeing what happens to “Grey”[!] guys when they are subjected to the intercession of the Immaculate Conception, also sent a link into this ultra-cute video. I had to smile, and laugh:

Thanks go that gracious reader.

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When’s the last time you peed-in-your-pants-laughed, a great time in life?

Some guy put a few clips together with Navy Seal guy David Rutherford giving a bit of instruction. I like it. I like it a lot. Draw the analogies with your own life, whatever your circumstances happen to be.

For instance, he mentions being mentored and mentoring, a huge part of the daily life of any priest who takes his priesthood seriously with not only spiritual direction and confession, but also just guys of like mind getting together, which is important. This past week I had a lot of days like this entire speech, which I so much enjoyed I just about had a pee in my pants laugh with a bunch of great guys who likewise erupted into pretty intense spontaneous laughter as we, of course, went on solving all the problems in the Church and world. Not levity, this. No. Just really good times. I love being a priest. One of the guys is on a very fast track to getting the nod by the Combat Applications Group (Delta Force). Really great guys. We’ll be keeping in contact.

Again, there’s much here that is applicable to everyone’s life, even if… even if… we are no longer in good health as the years have slipped by, even if circumstances in life have had our friends not only abandon us but betray us, even if God Himself seems distant and that we are being smacked down so that it seems our very bones are being crushed, as the psalmist says. This is what all the saints go through, and at such times it is our guardian angels who come to the fore, Jesus Himself, our Blessed Mother, heaven itself. Quite the team, that. And the fire of the Holy Spirit inflames.

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

GORDON MACRAE

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

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

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

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

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

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

shepherd boy

As it should be for all of us.

But it’s not.

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

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

rescue by helicopter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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USCCA exam results: Master Defender. BUT that’s never good enough.

USCCA Master Defender

I like that: Master Defender. That would be “Alexamenos” in Greek, you know, the donkey boy who worshiped the crucified donkey in that ancient graffito of the Imperial School in Rome. I wrote a novel of some 750 pages about someone named after him. I’ll have to revise that and publish that for real.

Anyway, O.K. So, this is all a brilliant marketing ploy, with the USCCA (of which I’m a platinum member thanks to a wonderful reader) betting that you’re going to fail some of the questions and then they can more convincingly sell you on their training packages which look to be worth the cost regardless. If you fail the questions, you can even retake the exam right away. I didn’t need to. I got all the questions right. Some were a little tricky. BUT, I agree with the BUT. One has to stay sharp. Especially about the “close-quarters” bit. Even though I practice with scenario based events, they are all so far at a distance as distance shooting under pressure is more difficult. But very close quarters training is also necessary. They are right.

And this goes for the spiritual life as well. Things are tough, are they not, when Satan is on the attack and we’re befuddled and cognizant of how much nothing we are, you know, a close quarters fight like that? That’s when training comes in handy, that is, training in God’s love, which cuts through Satan’s mind games as God’s love is on another level altogether and is stronger than our weakness, our befuddlement, stronger than death. Saint Paul speaks of us carrying treasures in ultra-weak earthen vessels, so easily shattered, yet giving us the dignity of being called the very tabernacles of the Holy Spirit, tabernacles that can have the purity of heart and agility of soul to follow the Holy Spirit whithersoever He would bring us. And He does bring us unscathed right through the worst battles with Satan, that is, if we have no fear. Why have fear. Love conquers all fear. The Holy Spirit brings us right across the battle ground of Calvary in close quarters battle with all of hell broken out, right there to Jesus on the Cross, to be with Him in all solidarity as He is in solidarity with us, watching, praying, as He draws others to Himself also with our intercession.

In the spiritual life we can never rest on our laurels (as we have none, as Jesus is our Savior). It’s misleading to give ourselves titles like Master Defender or to guess at what level in the spiritual life we are at such as by saying “I’m in the dark night of the soul now!” That’s all totally self-defeating, as that is giving into pride and emphasizing ourselves and making of ourselves our own saviors. How many want their spiritual directors to say, “Ooooh! You are now at this level!” That makes the spiritual director into a kind of palm reader and puts the directee at risk of going to hell. That would be as bad as the USCCA telling me that I’ve arrived (which they didn’t). I’m very wary of wearing that badge of Master Defender as all I did was answer questions the right way. There’s a difference between sitting in a chair and calmly answering questions on the one hand and then on the other hand being in the heat of battle when you don’t have the luxury of thinking things out. In the spiritual life, with God’s love saving us, we can be solidly before Him even in the dark night of the soul (however dark, however befuddling), and know always and be grateful that He alone is our Savior. Jesus is the one. He is the Master Defender of our souls.

P.S. Of course, our Guardian Angels bear the title of Master Defender.

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Kansas: “Carry On Wayward Son” Catholic analysis of the lyrics

This is just my unabashedly Catholic interpretation of Kerry Allen Livgren’s Carry on Wayward Son. You’ll remember he also wrote Dust in the Wind. Kerry continues his spiritual journey as an evangelical Christian after a major stroke some years ago. I don’t know if his family has Catholic heritage to it (so to speak, though the family names speak strongly of this), but note the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the mantelpiece above the fireplace on the cover of the album. He’s thinking about it…

KANSAS: “Carry on Wayward Son”

Carry on my wayward son,
For there’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more [These advisers are angels, encouraging him to stay on course, looking forward in hope to heaven, his efforts being, however, to let himself be drawn to the living truth from on high. He’s just discerning this childlike simplicity, however, and is still counting a bit too much on his own efforts, as if he was his own savior. That only brings lack of peace, frustration, weariness, tears.]

Once I rose above the noise and confusion
Just to get a glimpse beyond the illusion
I was soaring ever higher, but I flew too high
Though my eyes could see I still was a blind man
Though my mind could think I still was a mad man [Under his own efforts he did realize the vanity of his own efforts, that getting to know a negative truth doesn’t bring you positively into the peace and fulfillment of the living truth. It takes quite a bit of humility not to become so frustrated that one becomes bitterly cynical. He is encouraged once again in the fog by the angels to do what he needs to do, which is, paradoxically, not to count so much on his own efforts, but rather to let himself be taken up into the living truth:]

I hear the voices when I’m dreamin’, I can hear them say

Carry on my wayward son,
There’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more

Masquerading as a man with a reason
My charade is the event of the season
And if I claim to be a wise man, it surely means that I don’t know
On a stormy sea of blurry emotion
Tossed about I’m like a ship on the ocean
I set a course for winds of fortune, [He has ignored, as we might well do, the voices of the angels and their advice, entrenching himself in chaos, thinking this will bring him to what he wants so deeply. But the angels are persistent in their advice to carry on, that is, not as he has been doing, but in such manner that his own efforts to save himself can just take a rest, in which case he no longer has to be so frustrated with himself and cry.]

but I hear the voices say

Carry on my wayward son,
There’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more

Carry on, you will always remember
Carry on, nothing equals the splendor [This is the turning point.]
Now your life’s no longer empty [filling ourselves with ourselves is emptiness.]
Surely heaven waits for you [because now he’s letting heaven draw him there.]

Carry on my wayward son,
There’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry, don’t you cry no more, no more [Fantastic. An anti-Pelagian heresy, pro-angels theological ballad. Thanks, Kerry.]

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Assassin Game, suicide, the day I drew my gun for real. Solution to insanity.

the deer hunter

I saw this tv news story today about the game Assassin this time played on a defenseless woman being carjacked with a gun who wasn’t part of the game. The game is being played around the country at the moment in high schools, colleges and universities, also and especially off campus. It’s also called Gotcha, Assassins, Killing As Organized Sport, Juggernaut, Battle Royal, Paranoia, Killer, Guru Girl, Spy vs. Spy, Elimination, and Circle of Death. If you ask me, it seems to be a development of the role-playing “game” called Dungeons and Dragons, and came out just in those years that that dark game became popular among the same age groups.

Since it is also played in public, it quickly becomes not so much about any fake assassination, but about playing Russian Roulette as to whether you are going to be killed for threatening what for all intents, purposes and constructions is a murder/carjacking in progress as we see in the video linked at the top. Wikipedia has more about it here.

Just to say, if someone came up to my car smashing my driver side window and waving a gun at me screaming obscenities and threats, it would take me about a nanosecond to pump 16 bullets into him and any threatening accomplices, that is, whatever it would take to make the threat stop. I mean, how stupid and sad is that? It’s purposed suicide. Russian Roulette. I would really hate that. All of it. Terrible.

Just to say, I’ve already been subjected to one carjacking just down the road from my parish while taking a retired cop to the hospital for a surgery appointment. We came to a screeching stop right on the highway (lots of traffic in both directions) and, while the cop yelled at me to say the obvious, that this was a carjacking, I already had my gun drawn and racked when, as otherwise never ever happens, the police came screeching up at that very nanosecond, increasing in number to a total of nine cruisers. As you might imagine, this overwhelming force of the police distracted the perp. Game over. To warrant that kind of manhunt I have to think he was a pretty serious criminal. He’s one lucky perp. But, I mean, when does that ever happen? When are the police there at the very nanosecond you need them? Literally, just one second later could have been life changing for all involved. One. Second.

carjacking-

Carjacking of yours truly attempted right at the “X”. Note the guardrails on both sides. We swerved to the left, slamming on the brakes. Traffic was pretty heavy. Carjackers don’t care.

Anyway, this “game” has been going on in different forms since the early 1980s, but it’s catching steam apparently at this time, and the weapons are not only fake guns, but also bombs which waste the time of law enforcement, the FBI and BATFE. With all the real terrorism and violence on law enforcement that we have, this is all a really bad idea, and it can, in fact, be malicious. It’s a felony to purposely waste the resources of the Feds on idiocy like this. I’m all for people being given time in jail for this kind of stupidity, even pursuing felony charges if the circumstances warrant it, such as with a “fake” car-jacking or a “fake” bomb threat at a public institution. A felony would mean these people would not be allowed to possess a real weapon. Good.

Also, just to say, there are apparently “safe spaces” in this game where assassinations are not allowed. Have we ever heard of “safe spaces” for tender snowflakes before? The tender snowflakes are getting to be accomplished assassins. This kind of game quickly becomes practice for the real thing. It took only days for the tender snowflakes to go from giving a can of Pepsi to someone to throwing full cans of Pepsi at first responders. Right? This is no longer the dreamy 1980s. This is the age of total idiots. I really feel for the woman who was attacked in the video above.

Mass Lourdes Pius X BasilicaThis mentality has come about because people have no identity. For those with no identity, death is as good as life, death is better than life. An Opus Dei bishop was once asked what is to be done with youngsters like this, for those who don’t know where their parish church is, for those who are unchurched. His response was immediate: Celebrate Mass better. Yes, the sacredness, the mysterious otherness of God, the radical profundity of the creature worshiping his Creator, with serious, charitable, joyful people being the ones one meets at Mass. Yes, that will be a draw. Young people who are adrift, anyone adrift for that matter, without an identity, is so very thirsty to find their identity in Christ, to be found by Him. And here’s the deal: Jesus is already working on them. All we have to do is offer a little invitation here and there. What say you?

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Filed under Guns, Road danger, Spiritual life, Terrorism

Guns and spiritual stability in adversity

I’m a peace loving kind of guy. A total neophyte with guns. I scared myself with my Glock 19, again.

The first time I scared myself with a couple of friends, was on Easter Sunday evening last, when, at 20 meters (70 feet with the google conversion), I quickly put four rounds though a single bullet hole. That doesn’t happen with me. It’s not really a déjà vu kind of thing, but is a kind of that just doesn’t happen with me ever experience. And it happened again yesterday during a quiet day at the hermitage on a day off, part of which was practicing with the Glock 19 once again.

Of the 15 rounds, 11 are on the post-it note sized paper with dot, 4 just off the edge on the stump, all within about 1 or 2 inches from the dot at about 27 feet out, this time, for the first time, starting off by being turned away from the target, gun holstered, then turning quickly, assessing, commanding, shooting double taps. I wonder if the tight group on the dot was a first shot while the tight group just above the dot (most in the stump) was the second shot.

Anyway, this scenario based shooting makes adrenaline pump with its narrowing of focus effects, because of which, and this was a total surprise, I did not stand straight up in whatever always controversial “stance” of whoever’s recommendation as I have always otherwise done, but instead I automatically, for the first time, went into a crouched position without planning this, without thinking about it.

  • I’ve always rejected the Isosceles stance as being unstable and useless, unless you want your body armor facing full forward because of fear, in which case, if you’re worried about that, you’re likely to be shot just, you know, just because.
  • I had thought the Weaver stance was better, more stability in every way, even though this would open up your one side to no protection from any body armor you might be wearing, but that is simply not a worry for me at all. Incidents are not duels of olden times. Imagine SWAT teams standing in a duel position with an opponent, preceded by slap with a glove or some such insanity. That’s like a Monty Python skit.
  • And then there is the Combat stance, which, if anyone calls it a stance, they are wrong, at least in my newbe experience, as this should not be a stance, but a severe crouching movement that is “on the ready to run” in any direction with stability (such as toward the attacker, with being on the move being what happens pretty much 100% of the time). This needs adrenaline to be effective. Most people, target practice people, never do this, ever, and that’s just plain wrong.

This brings me back to the story of “The Guy” (literally the best shot among special operators in the world – and, yes, there was a competition here in North Carolina a while back). “The Guy” said that he never shoots at a target. He always shoots to kill, and so, while shooting, is always filled with adrenaline (which helps, not hurts, if you know how to use it). I guarantee that that is not the experience of any mere target shooter (namely, all the other special operators that day, however combative they otherwise are).

Previous to this experience, beginner as I am, I had always been calming standing, calmly aiming, which is never a real life scenario, and is therefore misleading, as I am finding out, in every possible way. If one aims for more than a nano-second, one is going to pull down or try too hard. While the pattern might get smaller (as was indeed happening with me), there’s little muscle memory that is useful in real life scenarios. The only exception to this is shooting from a prone position with arms stretched out with the arms not really resting at all on the ground. Anyway, when calmly aiming I got into the bad habit of drawing down on the target from on high, which again, as I find out, only feeds the pulling down in view of a recoil effect, which is bad altogether.

When, instead, in spinning about to assess, command and shoot, drawing up and shooting as soon as one sees the front post of the iron sights come onto the target, there is no pulling down effect. This is quicker and more accurate also at greater distances as it’s all more natural, that is, not forced. I didn’t get everything 10x, and so, it’s not great at all, but it is good enough for a first time extended session on drawing from the holster while spinning about whereby I had to think: where did that come from, as that just never happens with me. I have to note that indoor shooting ranges would never allow this type of training. I’m thinking that indoor shooting ranges are the worst possible experience for anyone. Move it outside!

Some spiritual notes…

Anyway, during all this mayhem on top of Holy Souls Mountain, amidst all this intense distraction, even to the point of adrenaline forced narrowing of focus on the immediacy of sensory perception, I must say that none of this for a second took me away from realizing that my Guardian Angel, who himself sees the face of God, was with me. Spiritual things are on another non-exclusive level. It was extremely obvious to me that this had nothing to do with me in my otherwise total dullness, but had everything to do with my Guardian Angel reminding me of what is always the most important, of Him who is always to be the treasure of our hearts and souls and minds. It wasn’t a reprimand, but an invitation to rejoice that such a nothing, such a mere earthen vessel as myself could carry such a treasure on the inside even in such seemingly incongruous circumstances. Why should it be otherwise?

Being unflappable inasmuch as that is possible for us is always important. Not that I’m always that way. I’m weak like everyone else. But the solidness of friendship with God given by God, and with one’s angel guardian, even by way of guardian angels smacking us down if necessary, is everything.

The John Hopkins / Loyola College psychology additions to the FBI Course for the training up of civilians (as in chaplains) to assist law enforcement during critical incident scenarios are meant to provide an insistence on appropriate measures to be taken to help responders do what they need to do in keeping focused and unflappable. The coping mechanisms provided aren’t so much helpful as the human encouragement that comes with these, as extremely brief as whatever encounter during a critical incident might be. While first responders will have much more experience in tough situations, and therefore a been there, done that stability (though going spacey, freezing, getting in the way, even running away still happens to some in circumstances new to them such as larger terrorist events), the chaplain, nevertheless, it seems to me, is expected to have, precisely as a chaplain, something that he can provide to the situation, the support that someone is there who at least should be walking with God with utter stability. This is not a clericalist thing, or a holier-than-thou thing, or a gnostic guru thing, not on the part of chaplains or on the part of the others. It is simply someone, a representative of the community, who is surely spiritually supportive before God. That goes a long way. If that person is trusted, the little coping mechanism tricks that he provides will be taken in forthwith and that responder is then immediately good to go back into the fray of whatever critical incident. All this applies to victims of critical incident situations, what they will then be able to relate before going blank, or to bring them back to being focused, or to putting things in perspective for them so that they don’t otherwise get in the way. Seconds count. See: [New Update] Active Shooter: The Coming Storm (FBI: Train now!)

And here is why, I think, chaplains of law enforcement / military need to be up on their weapons training. It’s not that they will necessarily ever be in a position to use such weapons, especially in critical incident situations when there are plenty of responders there for that, but rather that this knowledge is taken as proof positive, as an affirmation of the means to peace (guns, etc.) appropriate to the first responders who count on the chaplain in spiritual ways.

Even more spiritual notes…

Spiritual warfare, as in overcoming temptation and distraction, can truly seem like the mayhem of war. But, this is the point, the mayhem disappears into unflappableness, if you will, be way of accepting being invited by Christ to be drawn to Him while He is lifted up on the Cross, His love and truth and goodness and kindness, His forgiveness of us, His founding of His mercy on His justice, acts as a kind of tractor beam by which we known we are going to Him right through hell on Calvary, but don’t care so much because we are looking to Him in a bond of friendship provided by Him, and therefore true friendship, unflappable. Again, yes, we are sinners. We fail. But, while being sorrowful for that, we shouldn’t make ourselves to be so important as to spend so much time on ourselves, but just get back to accepting that He is drawing us to Himself. There is mayhem. The clarity of the fog of adrenaline might well be there. But that works for us, no? Yes, it does. Praise the Lord at all times in all circumstances.

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Guardian Angels and our ineptitude

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  • Guardian angels see the face of God. Quite a perspective, that. They also see us, and in comparison to seeing the face of God, you have to know that they are amazed at the love of Jesus for us, letting Himself be tortured to death for us as He takes on what we deserve so as to have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us.
  • The angels cannot forgive us as they have not become incarnate and cannot stand in our place to have the right in justice to forgive us, but they can rejoice in the Lord’s forgiveness of us. There is no greater joy for the angels than this.
  • But when we are not interested in such forgiveness, any angel is at the ready to end our lives at the command of the Most High. Just one angel – one, mind you – took on the Assyrians and, in one night, killed 185,000 soldiers. We might wonder about our access to them, amazing the angels who have plenty of access to us.
  • To have some awareness, so to speak, of the angels is not about being a tender snowflake who thinks he is entitled to being some sort of gnostic new-age guru channeler of self-importance.
  • Being aware of the inspirations of the angels, who see the face of God and who want us to have the reverence before the Most Holy Trinity we as members of the body of Christ are to have while we are given as a gift to our heavenly Father through, with and in Jesus by the fiery Holy Spirit, being aware of the inspirations of the angels isn’t about us trying to control the mechanism by which we are aware of the angels but about following their lead in humble thanksgiving, the reverence of a creature before His Creator, of a friend before the One who makes us His friends.
  • When we talk to our guardian angels making this request — Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here, ever this day, be at my side to light and guard, to rule and guide —  when we make that request, are we not asking to be inspired, that is, to be enlightened (to wit: “to light”), thus admitting we are not inspired, not enlightened, in need of their assistance but that we can nevertheless receive that help?
  • Are we not asking to be guarded (to wit: “to guard”) because we know we are so ridiculously unguarded in every way, so that we are even asking to be smacked down – whatever it takes – so that our souls are first of all protected, admitting in this way that we can, in fact, allow ourselves to be guarded?
  • In asking to be ruled (to wit: “to rule”) are we not saying that we can recognize that and allow that, unruly as we might otherwise be, so that we have some sort of capacity to follow up on that being ruled?
  • And if we are asking to be guided (to wit: “to guide”) are we not admitting, finally, that we are out of control without their guidance, and that we can nevertheless recognize and benefit from such guidance?
  • To put it Thomistically, the angels can use the same mechanism to inspire us that is used by supernatural faith which our natural brains cannot otherwise grasp, that is, that which the conscience founds itself upon in order to make judgments that we can either go along with or not. This can be recognized readily by any soul in the state of grace who therefore has some purity of heart, some agility of soul. This is not gnosticism, not anything special, just the normal state of affairs in the family of God.
  • Guardian angels can also use other means to help us along. They can intervene to manipulate the physical universe in whatever way according to the will of God. They can make an impression of an apparition upon us even as we are very aware of their presence, even to just about bring about our deaths, crushed by the weight of the glory of God that they reflect (this being the experience of Daniel and John…).
  • Having said all that, is one to reject what seems to be an extraordinary intervention? Discernment is a good thing as John of the Cross points out. If it is something that makes perfect sense in view of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and the Sacred Magisterium of the Church, and if it is not something about spooky future events, about anything that would push the self-importance of the human subject, or is about otherwise unknowable things about times and places and people and the thoughts and motivations of others, if it is that which would have one recognize oneself for the fool one knows oneself to be but at the same time if it is that which places one in profound humble reverence and thanksgiving in all friendship before Jesus, if it is that which makes one all the more want to regularly participate in the sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion, if it is that which smacks one down for the sake of the Kingdom of the Heavens, one might go ahead and take it for what it’s worth. Thus, John of the Cross didn’t have himself or Teresa of Avila excommunicated by the Inquisition.

Example One: Before beginning the Genesis project, I made brave and asked my guardian angel if it were possible to figure out the mechanism of the transmission of original sin by propagation instead of by imitation using the most ferociously pedantic scientific historical philological examination of the ancient texts to date, and thus giving honor to the Immaculate Conception, showing how she is that woman, the mother of the redeemer, in Genesis 3:15. There was no verbal answer, but I must say I did take note of the weight of the glory of God in all my darkness, feeling terribly unworthy but that it is possible, but I had better make my number one objective in the present to be the tiniest little child, following Jesus, with the rest falling into place. In other words, the answer wasn’t about the future, it was about what is happening starting now if only I would remain in reverence before Jesus.

palestinian donkeyExample Two: I’ve told this story many times before, but it is ad rem, to the point. This happened in the Summer of 2010 on Highway 65 between Lebanon and Indianapolis, Indiana, on the way back to the Josephinum from an Extraordinary Form practicum up in Mundelein. As usual, for the hundred millionth time over the space of very many years, I was asking my guardian angel to assist me in having the same reverence before God as he did, it being that he sees the face of God and I don’t. What I was asking was incorrect theologically, impossible in reality, and simply a rejection of the present economy of salvation. He answered me while I was driving. It didn’t cause an accident though I did want to drop to my knees should that have been possible in a car while wearing a seat belt. It’s not that I heard words at all, but the communication was crystal clear, full of irony, full of humility on his part, full of putting me in my place, but with the most tender solicitation for my welfare. John of the Cross may well be annoyed with such events, but they do happen, and he admits that, adding, however, that this is usually done for souls who are so weak and such asses that they need this extra help. This was his answer:

“I’m an angel. You’re not an angel. I see the face of God directly. You don’t. I’m to have the reverence before God that I am to have as an angel. You will never have this kind of reverence before God that I do. I’m an angel. You’re not. [Sounds pretty dire, right? But watch what happens now…] You’re to have the kind of reverence before God that you are supposed to have, and which I will never have, because you are a human being, but I’m not. I see the Most Holy Trinity directly, but right now, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, you are to see God the Father, but through, with and in Jesus, for you are a member of His Body of which He is the Head. He sees the Father for you, for you one with Him by grace. This is the kind of reverence you are to have before God, a reverence you can have but I cannot ever have, for you are a human being and I am not.”

As you might imagine, my response, first stunned, then full of joy, then laughing with glee, was this:

“So, O.K. Guardian Angel, therefore, help me to have the kind of reverence before God that I am to have, through, with and in Jesus, for you see the face of God in heaven right now, and I’m so weak in walking with Jesus who sees the Father for me. You are strong and I’m not. Help me to live the reverence I’m to have in humble thanksgiving.”

I’ve told that story to plenty of skeptical theologians, you know, that my guardian angel told me something, and they are eager to hear the story so as to pounce on me for being an idiot visionary. And then as they listen you can see them turn right around and finally say, “Well, yeah, that’s exactly right. That’s exactly what you should do.” What they were impressed with is that it was just so normal. Nothing esoteric, nothing gnostic, no new revelation. Just. Normal. Logical.

Remember Mary’s meeting with Gabriel. Joseph’s meeting with the angel. Zechariah’s meeting with the angel. Remember that Jesus said he could call on more than twelve legions of angels to assist Him in Gethsemane (well over 60,000 angels), but did not. And remember that just one angel can in one night take out 185,000 soldiers. Just one.

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The blindness of my Emmaus, but then

Emmaus

Jesus reprimanded the disciples on the way to Emmaus for being so slow to believe everything that was written about Him. Then we read that they were prevented from recognizing him. Sure, but this was because of their purposed lack of belief. Jesus, ever so patient, but with enthusiasm, works with them, dare I say, accompanies them until they will assent to their eyes being opened.

There are many excuses we latch onto for our purposed lack of belief. For instance, in the ultra famous painting above, notice the artist just happens to forget[!] to put the wounds of the crucifixion on the wrists of Jesus. Why? Also, pretty much all my Scripture profs throughout my seminary years trashed the Emmaus account as being fiction because, they said, a more or less eight mile walk couldn’t possibly be repeated in the same day, later that night when the “supposedly” returned to Jerusalem, and so it’s all an exaggeration, something make believe, so as to say how important the… wait for it… meta-historical (non-physical) resurrection was. Sigh. Just to say, sick of all this stupidity, just a day before the Saddam’s war on Israel, wanting to prove walking in the Holy Land isn’t hard, and certainly 11 or 22 kms isn’t so much (7 or even 15 miles), I walked from Galilee starting about midnight to Jericho, about 4:00 PM the next day, that is, about 16 hours, some 50 miles. It’s possible. Anyway, the profs never got around to speaking about the content of the account itself, so eager were they to trash it. Why? Are they afraid to talk about reasons for unbelief and then belief? I’m not. Thus…

I confess that, in the seminary, I fell into sin, gravely impatient with faithless professors, knowing the damage they were doing to the faith wherever those future priests would go right around the world. I would let that get me depressed. As that happened, I’ll tell you this, my soul and mind were darkened and the ultra-refined theological points I had been throwing about in my heart, all rejoicing, now vanished altogether, gone. I couldn’t hear the inspirations of my guardian angel. Gone.

Wow, thought I, I had better get to confession, and then everything came back with that meeting up with the risen Jesus with the wounds upon Him, that application of the Sacrifice of the Mass, the Last Supper, where that first breaking of the Bread had taken place. Yikes, thought I.

Convicted in spirit, once again before Jesus, I could now believe. I had been as faithless and slow to believe as my profs. Our Lord always but always works with irony. But our Lord is eager that our hearts burn within us as He opens our eyes to everything about Him. And then we see those wounds of His, and that He is risen, and we rejoice. The rejoicing in Emmaus was uncontainable. Of course they could make their way back to Jerusalem the same day. I bet they ran all the way back to Jerusalem. Thank you, Jesus.

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Humiliating training just like the angels

target political

This is not a political statement, just a junked post-election political sign that is apparently being used as a target at an undisclosed location in Western North Carolina.

Anyway, ignoring that, I continued on my way to a parishioner’s house. He had set up a typical law enforcement qualification renewal course, which is wonderfully humiliating, showing me how much I don’t know. That’s the only way to learn. I love it. So, with three tiny targets vertically placed on a wooden stake, with preferably timed stations drawing on a suddenly provided scenario with the necessity of barking commands depending on the situation, providing one’s own perception to onlookers, e.g.: “Drop the gun!” “Drop the knife!” “Show me your hands!” but never “Drop to the ground!” as the first command (obviously) and never using untoward language which will come back to bite you. Such exercises may seem silly to some, surreal even, but here’s the deal, in a real scenario, you have only muscle memory the mechanics and your mouth is only going to say what you’ve previously practiced. Period.

  • At 10 feet — 2 hits 2 hits 2 hits with a gun scenario
  • At 20 feet — 1 hit 1 hit 1 hit with a knife scenario
  • At 25 feet — 1 hit 1 hit 1 hit with a hands/knife scenario
  • At 35 feet — 2 hits 2 hits 2 hits 2 hits with a gun scenario with available cover going low and high and low and high on either side with mag change and purposed jams placed arbitrarily in the replacement mag.

We did this cycle three times, he once, me twice, with me getting 100% better the second time through (lots of room for improvement). Now I know what to work on, which is great. The hit/miss ratio is very high on the hit side, so that, in preparing for this, one had better get 100% a hundred percent of the time if one hopes to re-qualify when under pressure. The reason for this level of perfection is that, in an actual scenario, the hit/miss ratio can again be very high, but this time in favor of the miss side.

Homework is holster work and mirror work (no bullets in the gun!). I’ve heard this many times before including at the North Carolina CCW course (CCH in North Carolina). Again, people can think this is silly and surreal. But, here’s the deal, you either do it right or you don’t do it at all. As I say, I would like to prepare for the FBI training course for those who assist LEOs such as chaplains, the only way to assist as a chaplain in some parts of the Diocese.

Analogy with the spiritual life: our guardian angels surely inspire us to turn positively to the Lord, yes, but it seems to me that they also want to be trained up in difficult situations of distraction in whatever way that that comes about. We can either get nervous and frustrated and upset and then sigh and sigh and sigh again, or we can be enthusiastic and thank our guardian angels for the super cool training that they put us through all the time with the scenario and that.

Saint Teresa of Avila says that she would be scared to death not to have such scenarios as she can’t imagine how we could possibly grow without being trained in this way. Saint Thomas Aquinas says that someone without this opportunity of being trained up is either an angel or a beast. Yikes!

The important this is not to think we’re so important that we waste time getting depressed over our failures while we are being trained, but instead always turn to the Lord who is the only One who is important. Our angels see God in the face, and they want more than anything that we walk with God.

The difference in the training is that one is planned and the other, with the angels, cannot be planned, as they want to take us where we cannot begin to imagine where we will be when we arrive, as the love of God is infinitely beyond our poor imaginations. Our training consists in learning to assent to this love with the lead of the angels.

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Brake Man unchained by being chained

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The now famous Brake Man, symbol of Adam after original sin, has been chained up for his own security subsequent to the fear of theft by a reader. He’s chained to a metal grate of a tiny opening that vents the crawl space under the rectory.

Think of it this man. It might seem that we are chained down by the effects of original sin, weakness of mind, weakness of will, emotions all over the place, sickness, death. But no. With our redemption, with saving grace, we can use those very weaknesses not as a source of our insecurity, but rather as occasions to assent to the solid grip our Lord has on our souls as draws us to Himself across Calvary to where He is lifted up on the Cross (see John 12:32).

We are unchained by being chained. Don’t fret about chains. Used them as the cross which our Lord commands us to carry[!] as an encouragement to follow Him, that other command of His. Don’t fret about chains. Let them encourage you to let the risen life and joy of our Lord shine out to others.

Having said that, I hope to get to heaven, as do we all, where all chains fall away.

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Filed under Genesis 2-4 to 3-24, Spiritual life

IT’S APRIL 8 – A MOST GLORIOUS DAY

COUNCIL OF TRENT

HEY! It’s the 471st anniversary of Sacrosancta, the first decree of the fourth session of the most sacred and ecumenical Council of Trent in 1546. This is my most favorite of all magisterial interventions. Be awed by the syntax in Latin. Be awed by the breadth, the heights, the profundity, the glory emanating from this decree. Let yourself be wrapped up it’s reverence before the Most Holy Spirit. Let yourself be brought to your knees. Unfortunately, rebel Martin Luther, ex-Catholic priest, would die just months before this was published, though I have to think that he was kept up to date on the ruminations for the first drafts, not easy if one is in bad health.

First the Latin…

Sacrosancta oecumenica et generalis Tridentina synodus, in Spiritu sancto legitime congregata, praesidentibus in ea eisdem tribus apostolicae sedis legatis, hoc sibi perpetuo ante oculos proponens, ut sublatis erroribus puritas ipsa evangelii in ecclesia conservetur quod promissum ante per prophetas in scripturis sanctis dominus noster Iesus Christus Dei Filius proprio ore primum promulgavit, deinde per suos apostolos tamquam fontem omnis et salutaris veritatis et morum disciplinae omni creaturae praedicari iussit; perspiciensque, hanc veritatem et disciplinam contineri in libris scriptis et sine scripto traditionibus, quae ab ipsius Christi ore ab apostolis acceptae, aut ab ipsis apostolis Spiritu sancto dictante quasi per manus traditae ad nos usque pervenerunt orthodoxorum patrum exempla secuta, omnes libros tam veteris quam novi testamenti, cum utriusque unus Deus sit auctor, nec non traditiones ipsas, tum ad fidem, tum ad mores pertinentes, tamquam vel oretenus a Christo, vel a Spiritu sancto dictatas et continua successione in ecclesia catholica conservatas, pari pietatis affectu ac reverentia suscipit et veneratur. Sacrorum vero Librorum indicem huic decreto adscribendum censuit, ne cui dubitatio suboriri possit, quinam sint, qui ab ipsa Synodo suscipiuntur. Sunt vero infrascripti. Testamenti Veteris: Quinque Moysis, id est Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numeri, Deuteronomium; Iosue, Iudicum, Ruth, quattuor Regum, duo Paralipomenon, Esdrae primus et secundus, qui dicitur Nehemias, Tobias, Iudith, Esther, Iob, Psalterium Davidicum centum quinquaginta psalmorum, Parabolae, Ecclesiastes, Canticum Canticorum, Sapientia, Ecclesiasticus, Isaias, Ieremias cum Baruch, Ezechiel, Daniel, duodecim prophetae minores, id est: Osea, Ioel, Amos, Abdias, Ionas, Michaeas, Nahum, Habacuc, Sophonias, Aggaeus, Zacharias, Malachias; duo Maccabaeorum, primus et secundus. Testamenti Novi: Quattuor Evangelia, secundum Matthaeum, Marcum, Lucam, Ioannem; Actus Apostolorum a Luca Evangelista conscripti; quattuordecim epistulae Pauli Apostoli: ad Romanos, duae ad Corinthios, ad Galatas, ad Ephesios, ad Philippenses, ad Colossenses, duae ad Thessalonicenses, duae ad Timotheum, ad Titum, ad Philemonem, ad Hebraeos; Petri Apostoli duae; Ioannis Apostoli tres; Iacobi Apostoli una; Iudae Apostoli una et Apocalypsis Ioannis Apostoli. Si quis autem libros ipsos integros cum omnibus suis partibus, prout in ecclesia catholica legi consueverunt et in veteri vulgata latina editione habentur, pro sacris et canonicis non susceperit, et traditiones praedictas sciens et prudens contempserit: anathema sit.

Now my own slavish translation… NOT the usual translation!

The Most Sacred Ecumenical and General Tridentine Synod, convened legitimately in the Holy Spirit, with the three Legates of the Apostolic See presiding over it, is itself proposing for perpetuity in plain sight, so that, having cast down errors, the very purity of the Gospels may be conserved within the Church… [The purity itself of the Gospel…] which, before promised through the prophets in the holy Scriptures, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, first promulgated with His own mouth, and then commanded to be preached by His Apostles to every creature, as the fountain of all, both saving truth, and moral discipline; and seeing clearly that this truth and discipline are contained in the written books, and the unwritten Traditions which, received by the Apostles from the mouth of Christ himself, or from the Apostles themselves, the Holy Spirit dictating, have come down onto us, transmitted almost as if by hand… [The Synod] following the examples of the orthodox Fathers, receives and venerates with an equal affection of piety, and reverence, all the books both of the Old and of the New Testament — seeing that one God is the author of both — as also the said Traditions, as well those appertaining to faith as to morals, as having been dictated, either by Christ’s own word of mouth, or by the Holy Spirit, and preserved in the Catholic Church by a continuous succession. [At this point, the list of books is provided. See the Latin.] If anyone, however, will not receive as sacred and canonical these same integral books with all of their parts, as they have been accustomed to be read in the Catholic Church and as are had in the Old Latin Vulgate edition, and will hold in contempt the aforementioned Traditions knowingly and with considered judgment: let him be anathema.

Note “almost as if by hand” since this is all about the Holy Spirit!

This is THE Counter-Reformation assertion by the Sacred Magisterium of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church against the heretics who reduce revelation to theology and inspiration to feelings, the dark arrogance having them rewrite and remove things from the Sacred Scriptures so as to assert merely themselves. This decree is CATHOLIC!

On a personal note, I was ordained a deacon on this day in the Twelve Apostles Basilica in Rome. Also, this decree became the center piece of the beginnings of a doctoral thesis (the first chapter being 256 pages), the story of which needs to be told one day, reaching as it does into the very heart of the intrigue of ecclesiastical politics and stirring the pot so much that… well, I’ll leave that for another day. Just note that this decree is still THE engine driving any true ecumenical dialogue, that is, which brings unity in truth and charity those who sincerely follow Jesus.

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Filed under Ecumenism, Holy See, Interreligious dialogue, Jewish-Catholic dialogue, Spiritual life, Vulgate

This donkey-priest made it past April 1

DONKEY FOX

Donkeys, also known as jack [male of any species] -asses [technical name in Latin: asinus] are thought to be especially vulnerable to trickery and tom-foolery on April 1. I hesitated to post anything about it until today, pretending to wonder if I would survive the day. Three tricks were played on yours truly, one by a hope-to-be-one-day-seminarian (saying he converted to be Episcopalian, one by a fellow priest (he overthought that one), another by some LEOs (simple, yet elaborate, making me laugh out loud).

So, I didn’t fall for any of them, at least not for too long a time… But I do appreciate the attempts. It’ll have to be better than that next year. I can’t wait. What mere human beings don’t understand is that donkeys are fierce guardians of the flock. We trick tricksters all the time: “Oh, we’re just dumb donkeys!” And then, bam, a swift kick followed by a calm esophagal crush, and the donkey and the flock make it to the next day. We live a life of foolishness. I mean, did you ever hear a donkey sing?

IMG_20170401_225805Jesus played the fool on the cross, letting us mock him. And then, bam, He rises from the dead. Saint Paul bids us to be fools for Christ (1 Cor 4:10). The foolishness is all about what is not of the world, that which is mocked by the world: honesty, integrity, goodness, kindness, peacefulness, being tabernacles of the Holy Spirit.

Update: Jenny the Jeep (Jenny being the female of the donkey species), has a new tag as of yesterday when it finally came with the new registration in the mail. She proclaims “PRO DEO” (“FOR GOD”), of which the rest of the phrase is “ET PATRIA” (“AND COUNTRY”) and is the motto particularly of the USARMY but in general of the entire Department of Defense. In this case, it refers in a special way to 1 Cor 4:10, being fools for God. My 4GOD4USA tag is now retired. Sassy has 4GOD4ALL.

 

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Spiritual analogy: Jenny is humiliated

IMG_20170331_205639

Way back in the day, when I was a seminarian, spiritual directors in their conferences would insist on the virtue of humility, citing the things the saints did to help along their humility. But, I don’t know, I think the spiritual directors got it all wrong, with the effect — I’m blaming them ever so humbly! — that we seminarians didn’t become very humble at all. Some of us just stayed as arrogant as anyone might be; some started exaggerating on the “I’m going to do something to humiliate myself” kick. But, of course, humility is simply about truth, accepting the truth of the situation we are in. Compare the following three statements by which the seminarians might be categorized:

  1. Look at me! Look at me! I’m doing something to humiliate myself! I’m soooo holy and I’m so self-fulfilled! [And this fellow then proceeds to act like a mentally handicapped person, thus demonstrating how terribly arrogant he really is.]
  2. Don’t be such an idiot. You’re going to get yourself thrown out of the seminary. [This is said while pushing the first fellow to the ground just when the bus comes for the university so that the other fellow will be late for class, an infraction to be noted by the formation directors. Bullies, mind you, are as arrogant as the falsely-humble.]
  3. In silence, a third fellow lifts up a prayer to the Lord Jesus: “Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner.” [And this fellow is happy to accept the truth of who he is before Jesus, rejoicing that Jesus is forgiving, good and kind, making us His friends in truth.]

Jenny the Jeep is showing her deficiencies to the whole world here. Previous owners thought they were electricians and mechanics. Not. The wires, which should be about none, are a rats nest of connected the wrong way and disconnected and shorting out wires. That’s not good for the junction box which only lasts about 30 minutes. One of the mechanics in town, a Jeep aficionado, is going to try to look at her next week. Jenny doesn’t care about the humiliation, showing what she needs to who can help her. That’s humility, which is modest yet eager to be helped, “doing” something that might make her look humble but not so as to draw attention to how good she is in her humility, but rather just to be helped by the one willing and able to provide that help.

I suppose I’ve been all three of the examples above at whatever time. But I have hope that Jesus will be happy for me to say: Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner.

P.S. Saint Philip Neri is most famous for “doing” stuff that would humiliate himself, but this was done as a clever ironic entrapment of those full of themselves, who were about to be taught a lesson fit to bring them to humility on their knees in the confessional as soon as they opened their arrogant mouths. Hey hey hey. The saints are also like that. Yikes!

Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner.

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Suicide dare. No. Yes. For mercy’s sake!

crocadile

FoxNews carried this AP story: Crocodile attacks Australian teen who jumped into river on dare. It reminds me of my childhood when a kid I knew, who wasn’t my friend, would dare me to do something which would certainly most likely bring about grave injury or death. I think I was a bit autistic as a kid and he knew it. Some autistic kids do grow out of it just a bit. The spectrum is very broad. I was an easy target. Somehow I just didn’t do what he wanted. I’m thinking this was my guardian angel making me just too stunned that he would ask this, and so was unable to wrap my brain around a such a thing. If I remember correctly, it was something like this:

  • Jump off this high bridge into the river, the Mississippi.
  • Jump off this roof (and so many times almost pushed off).
  • Jump out of this fast moving car.
  • Ride your bike in this super-dangerous area.
  • Drink this deadly chemical.
  • Cut yourself with this knife.
  • Shoot yourself with this gun (and shot at… once successfully)
  • Hang onto the back of this truck on your bike as it takes off.
  • Lay across train tracks next to the wheels of this momentarily stationary train (this being the most common dare).
  • Get electrocuted in this way.
  • Dig a cave into the wall of the deep trench of that excavated loose sand pit.
  • Jump into this quarry water.
  • Jump off the chairlift we’re on.
  • Et cetera et cetera et cetera. Just about anything you can think of.

Mind you, this wasn’t said like a typical “Go jump in a lake” brush off. Instead, in the circumstances, the pressure was really put on. I think my eyes just glazed over and he got tired of this and he went elsewhere. In looking back I have to wonder just how much his lack of a good experience with the father of his family affected his perspective in life. Although it seems he spent a lot of time with me from that list, these were instead momentary, purposed encounters. And that was the end of that.

Having said all that, we do have even more deadly dares of suicide coming to us all the time from Saint Paul and Jesus, all of Sacred Scripture really, the old die to yourself so as to live for Christ dynamic. I’ll tell you this. That dare is a lot more enthralling, captivating, necessitating, compelling, but it’s incomparably more difficult to wrap one’s mind around however much it makes sense. The reason for that is we don’t have the gumption to do it, to die to ourselves to live for Christ. That comes only from the grace, the love, the friendship with our Lord that He provides to us, He having taken the dare, if you will, to lay down His life for us that was issued by our dear Heavenly Father on our behalf. Jesus jumped right down to this earth. And we did what He knew we would do, therefore gaining the right in His own justice to have mercy on us, standing in our stead, the innocent for the guilty: “Father, forgive them!” We need but ask Jesus for the grace to say with love: “Jesus, I trust in you.”

Meanwhile, I wonder if all that imprudent fearlessness of my provocateur had an effect on me after all. I mean, how many terrorists (a number of whom one way or the other committed suicide) have I gone out of my way to speak with? How many impossibly dangerous situations have I been in on purpose, bullets whizzing by? I think all the challenges as a kid made me think about the distinction between taking one’s life just to do it and putting oneself in circumstances in which one might well be hurt, even mortally, but for a good end. That might have prepared to begin to listen to those words about dying to oneself to live for Jesus. I admit I’m a bit slow with that one, a bit afraid, a bit weak. Actually a lot weak. But Jesus is very good and kind and patient. I’ll ask my guardian angel to smack me down so that I don’t use that as an excuse for complacency. My prayer is: “Jesus, please, don’t help me; instead, just kill me off to myself so that I live just for you.” Words are one thing. Actuality is another. But: “Jesus, I trust in you.”

Lastly: I have zero animosity for that kid, who now must be getting on toward 60 years old (older than me). I think he’s had what anyone might call a fairly daring life as well. I just hope he’s taking up Jesus’ dare to take up one’s cross and follow Him, dying to ourselves to live for Him.

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Filed under Father Byers Autobiography, Spiritual life, Suicide