Fire-dog is looking rather stern for just a second, but then figures out what a mirror is.
Then there’s a glance back at me, a glare, really, reprimanding me for having tricked her to being inside the mirror.
And then, with a heart-stopping “I’ll show you, you wise guy, you” kind of look, she totally jumps into the mirror and stares at me from inside the mirror itself, making me interact with the Fire-dog in the mirror as revenge. Heart stopping intelligence.
You recall Saint Paul’s thoughts:
“For now we see through a mirror [ἔσοπτρον], enigmatically” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
A mirror provides a reflection, does it not? And NOT necessarily of oneself if one knows how to use a mirror in other ways, such as is the case with the last picture of Fire-dog above, using the mirror to look at me.
Elsewhere we read about this reflection of God in His good creation, unless people do not want to see that reflection:
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”
That verse from 1 Corinthians 13:12 about now seeing God through a mirror enigmatically continues:
“…but then [we will see] face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”
In heaven, there are no tricks with mirrors. The beatific vision is most direct. God is love. I love that.
Background: Laudie-dog died a while back. Shadow-dog saw me bury her.
Yesterday after the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, “Tiny” (he IS Sasquatch) and I had a long discussion about dogs, something like pet dogs, protection dogs, service dogs, bite dogs, drug dogs, IED dogs, cadaver dogs, disease dogs, you know, man’s best friends, you know, Laudie-dog, Shadow-dog…
As we went outside we discovered Laudie-dog apparently redivivus. I’m naming this fiery orange Ridgeback Rhodesian Lion Dog Fire-dog for obvious reasons. Fire-dog was stubbornly lying on a carpet next to the church entrance, directly in front of our vehicles, right in front of the entrance of the social hall, strategically positioned, impossible to miss. This Fire-dog wanted to be noticed, possibly in trouble health wise.
This is the most quiet, most friendly, most humble, most unassuming fire-dog ever. Really sad, that, for the reason that I think this fire-dog was desperate to look cute, to be instant life-long friends with whomever it was that came along. Sorry, but I suspected that there must be some dark history of terrible suffering behind all that.
Tiny provided some treats that he always has on hand in his V.A. provided Jeep, though he has no dog himself, not yet anyway. It didn’t take any coaxing at all to get Fire-dog into the passenger seat of Sassy the Subaru. We went to the Veterinary clinic straightaway. No chips. No tattoos. And no collar, by the way. The one in the picture was picked up at the house, having belonged to Laudie-dog, fitting this Fire-dog perfectly. We then went to the animal shelter to see if they recognized such a creature. Nope. We asked people in town in the know about all the dogs on the streets. No one had seen Fire-dog previously.
The absolute earliest appointment with the vets is March 2nd. I’m thinking Fire-dog might not live until then. And that’s not because Shadow-dog would overpower and kill Fire-dog. No. They were instant lifelong friends. Never seen anything like it. Shadow-dog was entirely calm and respectful of Fire-dog. I think Shadow-dog knew that Fire-dog was terribly sick and that I wanted to do something for this Fire-dog. All good. Stunningly amazing though because of how instantly they were forever friends.
The reason I think Fire-dog may not make it is because of having suffered a possible act of domestic violence or a traffic accident. All the signs are there. Cowering. Nightmares. Timid. Taking, like, over an hour, maybe two hours, to circle about, ad nauseam, before laying down on a carpet for the remainder of the night, after waking up from a nightmare, having awakened by shrieking a shriek to bring down the house. It made Shadow-dog wake up, having him almost go through the ceiling in fright.
Also, this Fire-dog is not eating much. Only a few kibbles that I hand feed one at a time, just to please me. Maybe just shy, maybe sick. But the vets visit is a week out. I remember when Laudie-dog wasn’t eating because of a liver infection that finally took her out.
This was all on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, which is to be about friendship with Jesus, spiritual exercises of almsgiving, prayer, fasting, providing for the widow and orphan. Yes. But I also think that being respectful of such creatures as are put in our paths quite literally surely by our guardian angels is consistent with all that which is more exalted, with love of God and neighbor.
As with Laudie-dog, Fire-dog is no rescue dog. I didn’t adopt Fire-dog. Fire-dog adopted me. Just like Laudie-dog. They own me, not vice versa. Shadow-dog is a rescue-dog, but that’s also a badge of honor, right? He’s still that Alpha when it comes to protecting me from attacking pit-bulls and such, and rightly so.
The stats point to this correlation of treatment of animals and humans. Abuse of animals indicates that abuse of human beings has already taken place or is about to take place, the stats climbing towards 100%. And while taking that from the other direction, that respect for animals necessarily means respect for human beings isn’t always true, that respect for animals is nevertheless good training for our fallen human nature to respect human beings. Well, that’s true if there’s just one more thing: humble thanksgiving for Jesus for having taken us deadly seriously, we who were such vicious dogs ripping Him to shreds on Calvary by our sin.
“For dogs have compassed me about, the assembly of the wicked have closed me in; they pierced my hands and my feet” (Psalm 22:16).
With Jesus forgiving us, we become instant lifelong, eternal friends with the Son of the Living God. He makes it so. “I call you friends,” He says.
Jesus took us on while we were smacked down by our sins, sick from our sins.
You have heard that it was said: “The Divine Mercy chaplet is all fake sweetness and quite demonically an insult to Divine Justice.” I’ve heard priests say horrible things about that video above, starting them off on how heretical the Divine Mercy is. It’s like their faces change and demons appear so bitter hateful are they. They’ll do anything to make sure that Divine Mercy devotions on the Sunday after Easter do NOT take place. Confessions? “Pfft!” they say.
And here I recite this chaplet thrice daily. I call it the Divine Justice chaplet. Then it’s said that I’m just a contrarian.
But – hey! – this is important enough for all the big name icons of orthodoxy to attack, so it’s best we take a look:
The Sign of the Cross: This is the summary of the entire Athanasian Creed, so ‘in-your-face’ in Trinitarian orthodoxy that it is commonly used in major exorcisms. We are marked with the Sign of the Son of Man, recalling the facts of sin, of redemption, of forgiveness from sin, of salvation. We recall that we are pick up and carry the cross daily, that instrument of torture and death. The demons shriek against the Sign of the Cross. Is this fake sweetness, an insult to Divine Justice?
The Pater Noster: Jesus taught us this seven-fold prayer. In it’s fifth petition we self-condemn ourselves to hell if we do not fulfill justice. It concludes with a deprecatory exorcism against the Evil One. The demons shriek against it. Is this fake sweetness, an insult to Divine Justice?
The Ave Maria: The first half of the prayer is lifted from the Gospel of Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit. The second half has us beseech as little children of the Holy Family the maternal solicitude of Mary, the very Mother of God, now and at the hour of our death, when the demons come to attack us, when we need the graced gift of final perseverance. Look at that: the just effect of original sin to which we submit so a to be on our way to heaven, the hope for which is necessary, a matter of justice. The Ave Maria acts like an exorcism and is very much recommended during an exorcism. The demons shriek against it. Is this fake sweetness, an insult to Divine Justice?
The Creed: In these days of attack against doctrine, to recite any of the ancient creeds with an active statement of faith – “I believe” – is a matter of justice if we are going to ask for mercy, and is, therefore, an affront to Satan and makes the demons shriek against it. Is this fake sweetness, an insult to Divine Justice?
The Mercy ‘decade’ prayer: “Eternal Father, I offer you the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity or your dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.” This prayer clearly unites one with the Most Blessed Sacrament at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, voicing an appreciation for the ‘atonement for our sins and those of the whole world,’ and thus is an affirmation of belief in Transubstantiation in an age when even majorities of Catholic parishes no longer believe that there is a Sacrifice of the Mass nor believe that anything special happens on the Altar. Making a statement of belief in the Most Blessed Sacrament against an unbelieving hierarch, against unbelieving parishioners, while declaring that mercy is founded on God’s justice in Christ Jesus our Lord is a witness worthy of the great martyrs, and makes the demons shriek in terror. Is this fake sweetness, an insult to Divine Justice?
The Mercy prayer: “For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.” “For the sake of…” is all about justice, so much so that the mercy only comes about as founded on this justice. Aquinas agrees in his Commentary on the Sentences, noting that mercy is a potential part of the virtue of justice. Such in-your-face clarity about the place of mercy depending entirely upon justice makes the demons shriek. Is this fake sweetness, an insult to Divine Justice?
The Trisagion: “(1) Holy God, (2) Holy Mighty One, (3) Holy Immortal One – have mercy on us and on the whole world.” This is a direct reference to the ultra ancient prayer used in the Eastern Churches and is antiphonally repeated during the Veneration of the Cross on Good Friday during the Mass of the Pre-Sanctified in the West. In the midst of all hell broken out on Calvary, the demons shriek in horror when Christ’s faithful cry out that God is Holy, that Holy God is Mighty, that Holy God is Immortal while He reigns supreme on the Cross. Is this, I ask you, fake sweetness, an insult to Divine Justice?
There simply is no prayer offered by the faithful that drips with the Blood of Christ more than the Divine Mercy Chaplet, no prayer which better expresses that God so loved the world that He sent His only Son to take our place, the Innocent for the guilty, taking on the death we deserve because of sin, so that He might have the right IN HIS OWN JUSTICE to have mercy on us.
The Divine Mercy chaplet is an antidote to the poison imbibed by those who insist upon mercy without justice so that they might mock God, neighbor and themselves, remaining in their sin. Justice demands repentance from sin, a firm purpose of amendment of live from sin, with that justice opening the path to the fruitful reception of mercy. Is that fake sweetness, and insult to Divine Justice?
And now it’s time to blow up the whole “it’s too sweet” idiocy. Try this: Be John, standing next to Immaculate Mary below the Cross, the Precious Blood showering down upon you. Now… Listen… Do you hear her? It’s our Immaculate Mother praying for us to the Father as she watches her Divine Son being tortured to death in front of her: “For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.” Such a warrior in maternal solicitude for us against the demons broken out on Calvary! Now, go ahead, I dare the blasphemers, tell her that’s she’s just too sweet in her honoring of the Divine Justice – “for the sake of…” – and I think you’ll find yourselves rightfully smacked down by John protecting the honor of dearest Mary. Go ahead. Get up again. He’ll smack you down hard. Don’t get up. Stay on your knees. Figure it out. Mercy is founded on justice. Forget cynicism. Thank Jesus humbly. Humbly thank Mary for praying for you. Thank John for smacking you down.
Now you’re on your way to heaven, and that’s very sweet indeed. It’s all good.
I’m gonna stay with Mary and John before Jesus’ wounds this Lent. Would you join me there, below the cross, this Lent?
By the way, some literary notes:
Mercy = misericordia = a heart of misery. Get that.
The misery is that of another you’ve taken into your own heart and then fulfilled the need as if it were your own.
A word for mercy used exclusively for Jesus in the Gospels means to have His own Heart sacrificed for us.
All too sweet, right? I think those who reject mercy founded on justice are just a bunch of politically correct cowards and that they had better repent of their hypocritical cynicism that turns people away from receiving mercy founded on the justice of the wounds. I mean, just think how demonic that is: taking away the key of knowledge, the very Sacred Heart of our Lord. We pray for ourselves, unworthy that we are, for the blasphemers of Divine Mercy founded on Divine Justice, and for the whole world.
For the sake of His sorrowful passion…
Oh you who pass by the way, is there any sorrow like my sorrow?
The main parish church is bottom center at the base of that hill in front of the mountains. My parish church as a kid was the basement chapel of a monastery in the middle of nowhere. So, I’m entirely at home in tiny parishes. Very much the family of faith. Everyone knows everyone. Everyone works together. We’re all about Jesus, getting on our way to heaven, no foolishness, lots of devotions, loving the Sacraments, all the doctrine, all the morals.
Isn’t that the way it should be everywhere? We can’t be “backwardists”. When you’re as far away as you can get, there’s not even one more step into the peripheries you can take. We love that. The next step is up, and that’s heaven. We’re in exile here upon earth, but heaven is home, forever.
Speaking of the spiritual life in this world but aimed at heaven, here’s some good advice from waaaaay back in the day:
“Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign.
“And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives.
“They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law. Christians love all men, but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death, but raised to life again. They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer dishonor, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult. For the good they do they receive the punishment of malefactors, but even then they, rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life. They are attacked by the Jews as aliens, they are persecuted by the Greeks, yet no one can explain the reason for this hatred.
“To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world. As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their religious life remains unseen. The body hates the soul and wars against it, not because of any injury the soul has done it, but because of the restriction the soul places on its pleasures. Similarly, the world hates the Christians, not because they have done it any wrong, but because they are opposed to its enjoyments.
“Christians love those who hate them just as the soul loves the body and all its members despite the body’s hatred. It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held together, and similarly, it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the world is held together. The soul, though immortal, has a mortal dwelling place; and Christians also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven. As the soul benefits from the deprivation of food and drink, so Christians flourish under persecution. Such is the Christian’s lofty and divinely appointed function, from which he is not permitted to excuse himself.” [From a letter to Diognetus (Nn. 5-6; Funk, 397-401)]
Shadow-dog’s story is that the locals ganged up with the police to arrange that I get Shadow-dog as a puppy at one and a half years old. He’s grown to be an well-oversized GSD.
A new cop, a good friend, didn’t know about Shadow-dog. He was visiting the neighbors on their front porch (I was there too). He heard some barking, didn’t like it, and immediately went to investigate at my house, where he met Shadow-dog for the first time. He ran back exclaiming, “I didn’t know Father George had a Bite Dog!”
Of course he would think that. Wishful thinking for the PD. But, no, Shadow-dog isn’t a trained bite-dog. But he does practice, as in the picture above. It’s much like using a rehab tool for an injured hand, something boxers might use:
One guy in town calls Shadow-dog “retarded” for carrying around “toys” like this, but Shadow-dog and I know better.
Although Shadow-dog is only a GSD, he is abnormally oversized, so I’m going to compare his bite to a wolf, whose normal bite clocks in at 406 psi, but over 1,200 psi when pumped with adrenaline. Maybe more, because he’s always practicing.
Meanwhile, we’re getting ready for Lent, right? Spiritual exercises!
When we exercise with those spiritual exercises, we find out how weak we are, and turn to Christ Jesus, in whose friendship those exercises are always to begin and end. Lent is about growing in friendship with Jesus.
+ Fulton J Sheen said that he couldn’t fast much because he would get testy with people. But we realize that, turn to Jesus, and keep going. That might give us an expression like Shadow-dog has in that picture up top of this post, but – Hey! – if this assists us to call on Jesus, assists us to be closer friends with Jesus, this is what it’s all about.
A couple of days ago, on a whim, I took off to a parish not my own and spoke with the priest there, whom I know well, for six hours, quite a bit of which conversation was about his paintings, he being an artist. However, before that, he gave me a fairly extensive tour of the church, in which I had never been previously. Very peaceful. There are lots of spectacularly clever methods of securing the premises. His parish is in the epicenter for crime in his area. I’m gonna have to go back and take notes.
Anyway, having offered me a coffee, we went over to the rectory and got into the essence of artistry and church architecture and lifting hearts and souls to the Lord, both art and how it is presented and how architecture can teach and guide souls. You’re never too old to learn, I say, with me getting old altogether.
Some of his paintings are practice for this or that method, technique, an imitation of another artist to broaden one’s own logistical wherewithal. Such is the case with the painting above. Consider that copyrighted 2022 by myself for future publication in a book on women in Sacred Scripture. I asked him about this and he agreed when he listened of my instantaneous reaction to this particular painting of a simple flask.
Mine was a spiritual experience. I knew I was looking at the very soul of the “spikenard woman” in the Gospels the second before she poured out her spikenard over Jesus. Let’s recall that incident (Mt 26:6-12):
Now when Jesus was in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster jar of costly perfumed oil, and poured it on his head while he was reclining at table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant and said, “Why this waste? It could have been sold for much, and the money given to the poor.” Since Jesus knew this, he said to them, “Why do you make trouble for the woman? She has done a good thing for me. The poor you will always have with you; but you will not always have me. In pouring this perfumed oil upon my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Amen, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be spoken of, in memory of her.”
What she saw is the Messiah, Jesus, God Incarnate, our Redeemer, our Savior, the Lamb of God who takest away the sins of the world, the Suffering Servant prophesied by Isaiah She beheld Jesus as the One is who is so good and kind, leading us to know the truth, for He is Truth Incarnate.
She also saw the disciples, and Judas, and knew they didn’t get it. They were too obtuse, oblivious, even malicious. They would all run away, Peter denying Jesus, Judas betraying Him. And it was going to happen now. It’s happening NOW. They’re going to do their part in having Jesus tortured to death right NOW. And, indeed, it is at this moment that Judas left to betray Jesus.
What can she do? She had to do something! NOW! She had spikenard. She had to pour it over Jesus NOW, for He is so dead, already a corpse. He will be buried with that spikenard upon Him.
Whatever her past was… [controversies rage!], right now she was spectacularly pure of heart, agile of soul, clear in her spiritual sight, profound in her understanding. Might I add fortitude? In pouring this spikenard over Jesus with alacrity in the face of the murderous greed round about, at least for thirty pieces of silver, she was endangering herself. If they are going to do away with Jesus, what could they, would they do to her. She didn’t care. She had to take care of Jesus. If He’s laying down His life for her, the least she can do is honor Him in His burial.
Back to the painting. As I say, for me, instantaneously, this was not an empty still life, a lack of flowers and such, merely a flask on a boring background. No, no. This is a snapshot of her soul the second before she poured the spikenard contents of this alabaster jar upon Jesus. The vibrant green color represents her faith, evergreen, living. The spikenard inside is very love of God that Jesus had already established in her soul, as it were, sanctifying grace. The background is, for me, the sepulcher in which Jesus was about to be placed, the slab on which His body anointed with the spikenard would lay, and the back wall of the dark tomb hewn out of the rock a stone’s throw from Calvary, where He would be tortured to death, and which was in the same quarry.
One second later after she realized Jesus was a dead Man already, she had just that quickly poured out the contents over Jesus.
When I see that painting, I’m seeing the soul of a saint, one of our great intercessors in heaven, right now, cheering us on that we might make it to heaven, finally being brought as well into humble thanksgiving to Jesus. What she did is a reprimand to us that we might be like those disciples who couldn’t care about Jesus, but who congratulate ourselves about our following of Jesus. She shows us how it’s done.
Thank you, spikenard woman, you who risked everything to honor Jesus, also giving witness to us. Thank you.
I was very taken that I was gifted this painting. He gave me instructions on what not to do in cleaning it, but what can be done.
By the way, the frame is exquisite. Black and gold, darkness and light, the light radiating through into the darkness, dispelling the darkness. Simple. Effective. Take a look at the back:
Professionally made to endure. And what this woman did to honor Jesus will be spoken about will be proclaimed to the whole world with the Good News, the Gospel. The good news is that Jesus can make it so that we also have purity of heart, agility of soul, clarity of vision, profundity of understanding, and we can hope that He will bring us through death to life in heaven, giving us as a gift to our heavenly Father.
We had our canonical retreat this past week. This was the best attended retreat in all my years. The retreat director was a believer. He wasn’t afraid to speak of Jesus. Great priestly fraternity.
But the best part of the retreat was the rearranging of the schedule diversely from previous years. This time the Holy Hour was a bit more coerced, if you will. Previously it was on it’s own in the schedule. Maybe half or less of the priests showed up. Now there is also the Rosary and Vespers and a conference during the Holy Hour. Everyone came. Ha! There was less time for quiet adoration, but we were before the Most Blessed Sacrament nonetheless. All good.
This new schedule was especially helpful on Wednesday when, immediately after the Holy Hour, well, adoration instead continued while Confessions took place. My station for hearing confessions was right next to Jesus. He’s the One. He’s the only One. Non sum dignus.
Confession for priests? Here’s a blast from the past:
Thanks for that, Father.
Speaking of dearest Mary… surprise, surprise. Our Lady of Mount Carmel (discalced!), had been repainted and was without a title. However, she was presented during the retreat as Mary, Mother of God. I had a good few minutes in front of these two.
More in future posts, but here’s a gem from the retreat:
The less one prays, the less one wants to pray. The more one prays, the more one wants to pray.
Andrews, NC, hasn’t had an airshow for very many years. Sept 24 it finally returned. But I was doing priest stuff. On my way back on the highway I saw that, unless you were there from way before it started, there was no way to get anywhere near the airport. What I wanted to see up close was the F4U Corsair, a fighter-attack gull-wing. No chance of that. However, Guardian Angel at work, a Corsair was banking high above the highway as I passed under. Then, pulling off into a parking lot in town, that same corsair was turning back to the airport just overhead. That’s it in the picture above, right on top of me.
This reminds me of dad razing the roof of the house on a number of occasions in the early 1960s. I felt as if I could almost touch the plane if I reached high enough. I waved. The wings of the plane waved back. Not knowing aerodynamics as a little kid, I thought the air under the wings would push down on me as the plane passed above. Pictured is the early version, with a smaller, three-blade propeller. Later, there would be a four-blade propeller sixteen feet in diameter with a series of gatling guns in both wings, a kind of precursor to the A-10 Warthog. Here’s dad, with his back to you, to your right at the inside folded elbow of the wing:
This was, perhaps, the most impossible plane to land on an aircraft carrier. I had heard of the left-wing-drop previously, but this guy gives some real clarity on it. It’s faults in design like this that the best of the best know how to use in combat to their advantage.
In that aircraft carrier picture and in the thumbnail of the video above, you can see the checkerboard pattern. Dad was commander of the Checkerboarders. Sorry, but this put me in nostalgia mode.
By the way, speaking of using weaknesses to one’s advantage, have you never heard that the effects of original sin, and whatever of our own rubbish sin, weakness of mind and will, fallen emotions being tempted not to follow upon but to wildly highjack what is, then, no longer reason, all of this having us be open to being the victims of violence and aggression of all kinds, sickness and death…. have you never heard of all this described as the cross by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and that we are not to suppress such a cross, but we are rather to recognize it, pick it up, carry it daily until we die, but all the while following Him, all to the end of knowing more clearly, literally excruciatingly, why it is that He came to save us, and that only He can save us, taking our place, Innocent for the guilty, so that He has the right in His own justice to have mercy on us, so that, in that grace, we die to ourselves to live for Him, all the while being assisted in growth in sanctity by this cross which we all carry? That cross, which we learn to embrace, makes for blazing clarity. Yikes! But all things work for the good of those who, by the grace of God, love God.
In summary: if you think there’s a weakness in your plane, use it to your advantage, and fly to the heavens.
Elijah with the flaming fiery sword on Mount Carmel, Israel.
[[It’s 2022. This was written now thirteen years ago. It’s Padre Pio’s feast day. /// BTW, today marks 28 years in prison of Father Gordon MacRae. Hail Mary… Saint 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 wielded by the angels at the end of Genesis 3. The suffering I went through to accomplish the academic feat on a level of historical philology, involving many, many years of library rat-ness, not REsearch but rather original hard work, agony, really, is nothing at all compared to what Padre Pio understood in an instant by experiencing personally this fiery sword which I have only come to know academically. I am, to date, the only one to have accomplished this academic feat through the centuries, through the millennia. I’m pretty proud of it – and that’s a sin – and I am trying to get over it. It helps to have come to know someone who was alive in my lifetime who experienced precisely, personally, exactly what I described on a merely academic level.
I am vindicated by Padre Pio’s experience. At the same time, 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…
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 [obviously, his religious superior] 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].
“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] who presented himself to my mind’s eye [So, not an apparition, but entirely spiritual. People think angels are all fluffy chiffon pastels and cute. 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. My academic, pedantic translation of this three-fold double-reverse verb is this in context: 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.” Thus, if we were to try to grasp at the fruit of the Tree of the Living Ones, the work of this sword, of this grace, wielded by the angels, would turn that, with our assent, into humbly receiving the Fruit of the Tree of the Living Ones, that is, the Eucharist. This is also the sword with which the Carmelites depict Elijah. See their fiery coat of arms below. This is also the sword mentioned by Teresa of Avila. This is pre-eminently the sword of Saint Michael…] 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 such an angel 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 much more than any purgatory: he is bringing souls to heaven by his life becoming an intercession for all of us. What would I do, I who surely have a purgatory lasting until the end of time?]
Elijah’s fiery sword on the Discalced Carmelite Coat of Arms
“From that day on I have been mortally wounded. [“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.]
“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 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, again, “the sword which causes that which is presented to it to be transformed into its contrary.” Again, we are not to grasp arrogantly for the Fruit 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 such a religious superior, 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 and therefore our own 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. Jesus said that He would draw all to Himself when He is lifted up (on the Cross). 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! Help all whom Jesus wants to transform in His love!]
In that picture above the background you see is boxes of cold cases, murders, piled high in the United States Territory of Guam. The label that’s visible says “HOMICIDE: WANNEE L BAILEY”. She’s the one who was murdered. That’s her on the left in the picture at 19 years old, when she was pregnant with her son, Pornchai Moontri, who is to the right in the picture at 12 years of age.
From Father Gordon J MacRae:
“It has not escaped my notice that this is being posted on the Feast of the Exultation of the Cross. That is most fitting. This is an unusual post for us, but a necessary one. It tells a story that has deeply impacted our lives and it has been a long time in the making. Please note that portions of this account may be disturbing. I have done all I can to minimize such content without minimizing the story itself. This post is longer than most, but it is a mesmerizing account with no part that I could justly omit. If you have never shared a post of mine on social media or with others, please share this one.”
Just to be clear: share that post on BeyondTheseStoneWalls, over there. Here’s the link:
τὸν μὴ γνόντα ἁμαρτίαν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἁμαρτίαν ἐποίησεν – He who knew no sin was made sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21).
In Saint Paul’s shorthand speech, Jesus became sin for us. Ooo! That sounds scandalous! Heretical! Bad and evil! But Jesus stood in our place, Innocent for the guilty, so that He could have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us. And Mary Immaculate stood in perfect solidarity with Jesus. Mary became sin for us with Jesus. Ooo! That sounds scandalous! Heretical! Bad and evil. But I say that this is Mary Immaculate’s glory. To those who cannot bear such reality, I say, grow up and see the suffering, witness Mary’s maternal intercession, the sword of sorrow piercing her soul that our thoughts may be laid bare. Grow up and lay aside all cowardice. Rejoice that we have such a good Mother, such a Holy Redeemer in her Son.
Rumors fly as they do, even across oceans do they fly. It seems that I have been denounced to the highest of ecclesiastical tribunals in an attempt to destroy my priesthood. It seems that I am a blasphemer when it comes to praising the perfect condescension of Jesus and His dearest Mother, that κατάβασις (katabasis = going down) of mercy founded on justice. It seems that I have been labeled as a blasphemer. Will I be put under some kind of interdict, suspended in some way, perhaps dismissed from the clerical state, or – hey! – even excommunicated?
Long time readers may remember when a top canonist of the Roman Rota, a friend, wrote up an interdict against me on behalf of co-conspirators at the Pontifical Seminary at which I was teaching and at which I was very active on the formation team for both philosophers and theologians. But that was humor.
My crime then was to be chaplain for the philosophers and not the theologians in the 2010 Mud Bowl extravaganza.
But the present denunciation against me is deadly serious, enough to rip me out of the priesthood.
What’s the kerfuffle about, really? Surely it’s about my praise of Jesus and Mary. But I am also a thorn in the side of some members of the Church for a number of reasons. Any and all of these, take your pick:
I think the Traditional Latin Mass is a valid and licit expression of the Roman Rite
I think the Hegelian-Rahnerian methodology of the Synod on Synodality is itself heretical
I think the encouragement of same-sex unchastity and any unchastity leads souls to hell
I think that the idol worship of demon idols such as Pachamama (Francis) or Nian (Cupich) or Ganesh (spreading in India with impunity) et alii is a direct violation of the first Commandment
I think Sacred Tradition is univocal and provided supernaturally by the Holy Spirit to each sanctified soul and is not passed on by hand, but only quasi per manus, almost as if by hand (Trent). Sacred Tradition is not a tree or the roots of a tree, dynamic, growing. No. Tradition is absolute. Truth is absolute. God is Truth. God is absolute. Sacred Tradition is not something dictated by freakoids in the Roman Curia, not even by the Pope, not even in ex-Cathedra pronouncements. No. Sacred Tradition (traditiones) is the living faith provided in sanctifying grace and the indwelling of the Most Holy Trinity. Idiot human beings don’t do that. Infallibility is not equal to Sacred Tradition.
I think contraception, abortifacients, procured abortion, infanticide, euthanasia are all intrinsically dishonest, and, as with Ad tuendam fidem, with Ratzinger and JPII, I hold these to be definitive, infallible teachings of the ordinary magisterium of the Church.
I think murdering babies in the womb for research, development, testing of “vaccines” is the utilitarian murder of the least of the brethren, of Jesus.
I think that the money laundering and, therefore, the consequent financing of international terrorism is directly opposed to the mission of the Church. I agree with Jesus: you cannot serve God and mammon. I am working to bring the criminals down, hard.
I am Catholic and love being a priest of Jesus Christ and a son of Mary, Mother of priests. I know she suffered a hell of a lot for me, and I thank her for that and I praise her for that. That’s the problem.
My being denounced came about just days before my surgery, and, now starting my recovery, this is my new distraction. It’s about the wonderful statue of Mary with infant Jesus that is making its way to all of the parishes of the diocese.
I mean, that face of Mary. She sees the problems at hand. Finally, someone does. Great! And Jesus entirely exudes confidence that whatever it is she wants in her maternal solicitude for us, she’s going to get it.
But here’s what I said in the original post which I took down so that I would have to time to put up this response before being smacked down hard, it being that I was busy getting cut wide open and am now recovering. This is what was so very offensive:
“This is the Pilgrim Virgin Mary of Charlotte Diocese making her way throughout the parishes during the 50th anniversary of this relatively young diocese. She’s now at Holy Redeemer in Andrews, NC. Another priest gave her the title: “Our Lady Most Patient with Father Byers.” Hmmm. I think I like “Our Lady Most Snarky” better. Whatever it is that she’s plotting, it’s Jesus who will make it happen. Totally.”
Our Lady is most patient with yours truly, but her patience extends to many more souls than just myself. This is why I mentioned the snarkiness of her expression, you know, like she’s plotting something, of course for our good, and Jesus will make it happen.
I’m guessing the problem people had, why they think I’m a blasphemer, is my usage of the word snarky.
Sigh… You try to speak in the now enculturated language of fairy tales, on the level of little children, and this is what you get. Gunned down. So, fine. Some explanations are in order.
It all starts with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Alice in Wonderland) penned in 1865 by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll. Lewis was a devout lifelong stratospherically high-church Anglican, a believer. His protagonist, Alice, is the original one to “go down the rabbit hole”. She meets up with all sorts of allegorical, anthropomorphic creatures, human adults if truth be known, who express their opinions (also by way of the manner in which they live) about the philosophies and political idiocies of the day. Alice struggles to stay herself even as she meets up with adults who have become all too self-absorbed in the myriad ways fallen human nature goes about this in unrepeatable circumstances.
Then, eleven years later, in 1876, Carroll writes The Hunting of the Snark: An Agony in Eight Fits. This is about a bunch of seasoned guys from all types of professions who get together to traverse the waves to an island where their hunting of the Snark might well be successful. The chapters of poetic verse are called fits appropriately enough. The Snark isn’t much described other than that it is seems to be a dark figure, mysterious in a most sinister sort of way.
While they hunt, it seems that a Snark is spotted, and one of the crew dies in his attempt to get close. He had seen the Snark falling from the heights. The crew member dies a most calm and peaceful death. He simply disappears. All gone. The end.
People asked Carroll who or what the Snark is, and he would never let on. Well, to me, sorry, but this is obvious, and if you have to be told you won’t understand it anyway, but I will tell you, since it is too painful for this mystery to go on. Fallen society has made it quite impossible to crack the mystery today.
The Snark, par excellence, is Jesus Christ, and, of course, His blessed Mother with Him. Yes, the monstrous Snark, so evil in every way, in fact, a projection, in our perception, of the evil within ourselves, which we try to kill, pretending to be our own saviors. We spend our lives doing this, going inside ourselves, travelling the world, hunting, hunting, hunting the dreadful Snark, Jesus Christ, who takes upon Himself all the punishment of our sin – He was made sin for us – and we mock Him as the criminal, the One who enslaved all in sin from Adam until the last man is conceived. And when we finally meet up with Him, like that crew member who dies, He falls from the heights to the depths, and it is there, far below the Cross, that we behold His Mother looking upon us, and we understand: He is God and she is His Mother. Both bloodied, both looking like criminals, monstrous. But then we understand a smidgeon of such love.
We die to ourselves and we ourselves gently just disappear as Snark hunters. We take our place with Mary and John and are now also in solidarity with Jesus. In our own way, we become just a little bit of The Snark. But Jesus and Mary are the epitome of being the Snark. Only they can bear the weight of all our darkness, all our sin which we project unto them. They are so good to us, so kind.
As a clincher, I should mention that the epic poem, The Hunting of the Snark, was published far and wide with multiple printings, all by itself. But that was not at all the case when this poem on The Snark was to be given to children, specifically “to those who love Alice” (of Alice in Wonderland fame). When The Hunting of the Snark was given “to those who love Alice” those children were also given a lengthy Easter Greeting also penned by Lewis Carroll. It was all about the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who triumphed over sin and evil, He having forgiven us our sin wrought in all our idiocy.
People dismiss Carroll’s writings as mere fantastical nonsense literature. That is because they don’t see the irony, the humor which Chesterton would later say is so necessary for Christianity itself. Irony is not nonsense. It is essential to life and breath. Irony is our hope. It is justice and mercy meeting upon the Cross. It is Christ being made to be sin. And Mary with Him. It slams us to our knees.
I believe that Lewis Carroll opened the floodgates of this kind of literature for those to come, say, C.S. Lewis and The Chronicles of Narnia, or J.R.R. Tolkien and his works on Hobbits and Rings and Middle Earth. I say the same for the more outlandishly wonderful works of G.K. Chesterton such as The Ball and the Cross. But most of all, most of all, it is the summary of irony by Hilaire Belloc which most rings absolutely true with The Hunting of the Snark. You are reading about Jesus Christ on the Cross:
“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).]
/// That last bit about no man possessing irony and using it ever living happily? Yep. But mere happiness is one thing. Joy is another, in the Holy Spirit. It would be a great privilege to be penalized even by Holy Mother Church because of thanking Jesus and Mary for their sufferings for us. But my priesthood? That can never be taken away. It is a sacrament lasting forever. I have no fear. The Great Snark, and the Mother of snarky priests watch over me, having me die to my wretched self, but living for them.
The denouncement of blasphemy against me is so dark that I have to do this:
And if I’ve been beating down the wolves in this post, it is only so that they will turn into the sheep of the Lord’s Little Flock. It would be a joy to go to heaven together. Amen.
Amidst all the wars and floods and earthquakes and persecutions right around the world, causing so many to be murdered, displaced, and amidst all the weirdness of the complications of world-politics and church-politics, that weirdness being an occasion by which people can lose their souls, I’ve nevertheless allowed myself to be distracted, self-absorbed, as Pope Francis says, in my own tiny little world.
I’ve been doing some preps for a medical intervention at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, a teaching hospital, recommended precisely because it is a teaching hospital by my own doctor and a specialist surgeon, both outside of that health care system. There are complications. Two hospitals were fighting for me to be their patient. I’m grateful.
It’s a super-easy, super-common, merely outpatient intervention. A generous parishioner is driving me there and back. But medicine is a practice, right? If there is a rather catastrophic complication, some logistics will have to be confronted. Since as a priest I’m quite continuously in hospitals, I’ve personally seen that complication. Alas, it’s best to be prepared.
It’s one of those situations whereby… “You have to confront the trees when going through a forest.” This is our lot in life, attempting to be a steward for the entire forest, but, in trying to have oversight of the panorama, we can walk right into individual trees. Bonk. Thus, the distraction.
The upside of any such would-be complication in my little world is that it might well save me from another possible intervention, which I’ve been warned by specialists would necessarily be catastrophic. So, one regrettable complication saving me from another. That would be really cool. I love that. I’m patient. But chances are there will not necessarily be another complication.
Anyway, that’s why I’ve not been posting much. Busy with preps. Chances are chances. Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. Lots of people don’t have that opportunity. I’m grateful to be able to get psyched, as they say. Still doing the usual sprinting from Holy Hours to Confessions to Holy Mass to Communion calls, to Last Rites… and feeding Shadow-dog… all those things that I have hopes of continuing to do regardless of any complications one way or the other. It’s complicated, but obstacles are not insurmountable. For the record: “Not insurmountable.” Sometimes it has to be said.
P.S. That picture up top of John Paul II, who, like that young man, would then himself be transferred into a wheelchair…
I put that poignant photo there because my memory is jogged regarding what a certain papabile said to me about that sainted pontiff, that he, JPII, is an embarrassment to the Church in front of the world. What a shame, he insisted, a pope in a wheelchair. He added: We’re trying to figure out a way to have him removed. Get that? But I’m sure it wasn’t because of physical infirmity that there was a desire to discard JPII like trash. JPII’s crime was that he was Catholic while being pope. This same papabile said that Jesus was a “kind of failure”, you know, a loser, for having been crucified.
I recall a priest saying of me already decades ago now that I myself was an embarrassment to the Church in front of the world, you know, because at the time I was in a wheelchair. I was just as much of an embarrassment to the Church in front of the world as was another priest in a wheelchair in his diocese. He was an out-and-out Marxist, so, for him, rusty cogs in the machine are to be discarded like trash. I’m sure it wasn’t because of my physical infirmity at the time that there was a desire to get rid of me. My crime was that I was being Catholic while being a priest. It would only be a year or two and I would wheel myself in my wheelchair a couple of miles away to the Missionaries of Charity, giving them the wheelchair, making brave to walk away on crutches, and then, later, walk miles on those crutches to Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, and place my crutches, as a kind of statement of thanksgiving, behind the altar-rails at the side-altar of St Pius X, making brave to walk away, and I did.
Years later, I recall a seminarian asking about a limp of mine which at some times is more pronounced. I told him what had happened. While spinning about and walking away quickly, dismissively, he called out, “What a loser!” you know, with an attitude, as in, “What a f***ing loser!” — Like… wait… what? If I’m a loser for having a limp, is Jesus a loser for having been crucified?
Anyway, the present intervention for which I’m distracted with many preps has nothing to do with any lifetime quasimodo ambulation. Chances are there will be no complication, which might be complicating, a veritable forest of trees:
Meanwhile, that’s just my own little world. Boring.
It’s Jesus who is the One. The only One.
I get that. I can’t even count how many times JPII traced the cross on my forehead.
Whilst writing a series of posts on the Church Militant documentary “Den of Thieves” I have once again been stunned by the memories it has brought up. Connecting the dots after all these years is quite the experience. It’s like finding a lost piece of an upside-down jigsaw puzzle which will finally permit one to load up the back of the puzzle with masking tape and gently flip it over to reveal the picture for the first time. Un-cooking the books is my life story.
But that’s all on the level of gray matter.
Then there’s reality… into which Sacred Heart one is drawn by the Most High, the Almighty. I myself am a big puzzle needing to be set right. Jesus is a Master puzzle-solver, having learned from His dear Mother, Mary, undoer of knots. :-)
Jesus said about Himself (in our perspective) Psalm 22: 6-7…
“But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people. All who see me mock me. They hurl insults, shaking their heads.”
Yep. That’s us, in our fallen human nature, if we are without grace. With grace, we already know that that’s who we are on our own, total idiots who don’t see God right in front of us.
If we don’t recognize that that’s who we are if we are without grace, we have zero integrity, zero honesty, zero humility. We are full of ourselves, and we’re full of **** as pictured above. That’s not the kind of person who goes to heaven. I wanna go to heaven. The way to go to heaven is not to congratulate ourselves that we are holy, having saved ourselves because we’re the ones, the only ones; the way to go to heaven is to recognize that Jesus is our Savior because He’s the One, the only One.
Oh, and we are to be happy to stand with Jesus in His trials.
That means that if we are with Jesus, we are also considered to be worms by the rest of the fallen world. Ready for that?
Just be to persnickety: It’s not so much “worm” in the biblical text, but rather more specifically, “maggot.” Baalzebul, however you wanna spell it, means “Lord of the Flies”, that is, The Lord of Death, so, rotting corpses, so, maggots, hence, flies. Satan is the murderer from the beginning. Jesus says, “I am a maggot and no man” (in our perspective). How far we have fallen.
Jesus is considered a maggot because we are fallen and that’s how we roll in self-protection: Jesus is bad and evil, not me.
Again, the cure to this, in Jesus’ grace, is a bit of humility, honesty, integrity, so that, redeemed and saved by Jesus, being in His grace, standing in solidarity with Him, we are also then considered to be maggots, the worst of the worst. And moreover, we’re happy about this.
So, a Jewish mother with her seven sons were being forced to eat pork by the pagan demon worshipers. The demon worshipers had some pans fired up, and were frying up pigs for the occasion. Swine were thought to be possessed by demons. Eating pork was tantamount to asking demons to possess oneself. Remember the exorcism of the naked man possessed by demons who were then cast into the swine?
The Jewish mother and her seven sons wouldn’t go along with such worship of demon spirits by eating the pork. So the skin of their heads with their hair was ripped off, their feet and hands cut off, and now they themselves were fried in those large pans on top of the fire of the torturers.
Jesus would declare all foods clean as He was personally to pay the price in His own justice for the mercy of exorcising us from the demons. Jesus faced all of hell broken out on Calvary.
So, now we hunt, say, wild boar and have plenty of bacon to enjoy.
But the great witness of the mother and her seven sons remains incriminating all those who worship demons. We are never, ever to compromise even under severe coercion, even in the face of torture and death. We are not even to cave into the pressure of the brow-beating and bullying of enforced political correctness from “friends,” even if those friends are (Cardinal) (Arch)Bishops, including the Bishop of Rome:
“Worship the bloodthirsty demon idol Pachamama mother-earth, that abomination of desolation caused to be established on the Holy of Holies where it must not be by divine mandate!”
“Call on the western grandmother demon and the circle of spirits for purification and protection, you know, apart from anything whatsoever to do with Jesus! Put your hands on your heart!”
Instead, we are always to witness to the Divine Messiah, our Savior, the very Son of the Living God. We are not to cast Jesus aside so as to worship demons.
I’m hoping those at this address in Rome below will always serve the Son of the Living God.
I apologize that while recalling the mother of these seven brothers as she witnessed them being tortured to death, I got terribly choked up. If all of a sudden the homily stops dead, repeatedly, while you’re listening, it’s not over yet. That’s just me about to leave the sanctuary to break down in tears. It was all I could do just to stand there feeling very self-conscious. I was thinking of Mary standing under the Cross of her dear Son whilst He was being tortured to death. I’m told that this is all weakness on my part. I’m to be ashamed of it. But it is what it is. That’s where I’m at. Another weak priest. Who would’ve thought?
A priest is blessed if he does what he has to do, called by our Lord Jesus to preach about His preaching, to instruct about His instruction, to exhort about His exhortation, to provide His goodness, His kindness, His truth. Likewise, a priest is cursed if does his own thing.
Yet, it seems like a blasphemy to teach about the Lord’s Prayer since Jesus already taught us how to pray. There is no bettering, one-upping the Lord.
But this speaks to just how weak we all are and to why our Lord called men to be priests even though Jesus is the One, the only One, the One High Priest.
Meanwhile, all the time: through, with and in Jesus, by the Holy Spirit: “Abba, Father.”
Meanwhile, if anything happens like this, and it does, a lot (though not with words, just extremely strong inspirations), I always blame my guardian angel. I think it’s our guardian angels who do everything to set up such encounters. With a zillion “coincidences,” and timing to the second a hundred times in a row for things to get done for the Lord Jesus, I cannot but thank my guardian angel and end up repeating to our Lord, “But I only did what I had to do, you know, because my guardian angel made me do your will.”
Here’s the deal: when it comes to paying attention to and obeying guardian angels, we had better follow their lead, or else. If they need to get something done, they’ll do whatever it takes.