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Terra Firma!

My parishioner who’s a 25 year retired cop came to pick me up – three hours plus one for traffic, and that’s just one way. So, of course, we stopped for pizza, which has a first course.

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Miracle Mary Pilgrimage for Father Gordon MacRae and Pornchai Maximilian Moontri

This is the famous little church where Mary Immaculate brought about a certain miraculous conversion. This is also where Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe offered his first Holy Mass, in fact, at this altar..

O.K., not exactly that altar. Let’s peek into that side chapel:

I felt compelled to pray for Fr Gordon MacRae and Pornchai here. Saint Maximilian Kolbe was imprisoned, as you will remember, and he is a patron saint of Father Gordon and also Pornchai, who took the name Maximilian upon his conversion. Will you join me with some prayers?

Angel of God…

Hail Mary…

Saint Michael the Archangel…

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Update: For Fr Gordon MacRae et al

I made a pilgrimage to the Mamertine Prison where both Sts Peter and Paul were imprisoned. I felt compelled to pray for Fr Gordon MacRae and Pornchai here. Will you join me?

Angel of God…

Hail Mary…

Saint Michael the Archangel…

Update: just got this email:

“Dear Father George, this news was just read to me via telephone by Charlene Duline and I am more grateful than you could know for this remembrance. And it came on the day after my birthday. I turned 65 yesterday. I wonder if they let prisoners retire!! With fraternal blessings,
Father G.

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Nota bene: Sala Regia

Two years ago Pope Francis addressed the Missionaries of Mercy in the Sala Regia. The ultra-Tradition-al-ism-ists condemned him, me, everyone else there, and then said that the Sala Regia is not the Sala Regia but some other place.

Here we are again, in the same place. They’ve had two years to do research. Will they entrench, apologize, just not talk about it anymore?

If anyone was willing to listen, would they hear what was said this time about mercy being founded on justice? about Confessors going to Confession themselves? about those who are bitter going to Confession? about joy in seeing our wounded but risen Saviour, our God, before us? about priests being a good example of repentance and joy?

byers dance paul vi audience hall

Can’t we just help each other to get to know Jesus? Didn’t King David dance?

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“Simony!”

This is a “lame” begger in front of the Holy Office next to St Peter’s. Maybe he is. He approached me asking for money. Pretty much 100% of beggers in Italy are harmless. Then he said “Simony!” really loud.

Perhaps I’m underestimating street beggers but this struck me as being mighty theological if this was an accusation. If so I wish he would have expounded so I could go to Confession.

Or maybe he was repeating an accusation from a priest about himself. In that case he would be baiting people to purchase an indulgenced occasion of almsgiving from him.

Or maybe this is echolalia and I’m way overthinking it. Good to think the best, right. Nothing is as it seems. Maybe this is another St. Joseph Benedict Labre. He looks exactly like him. Hmmm….

So, now I call him Simon and we are friends.

…. Make that Jacky. Good to know someone named after donkey-kind.

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How to be a Confessor for Confessors who hear confessions of Confessors

In other words, how does a Missionary of Mercy go about hearing the confessions of fellow Missionaries of Mercy who hear confessions of fellow priests back home, who hear the confessions of the faithful?

There were 12 of us hearing confessions yesterday. I happened not to get a confessional but was up on one side of the sanctuary with another priest on the other side with the Most Blessed Sacrament in the middle of us.

As confessions started… Well… They didn’t. It was a bit awkward. So, the way to get things moving is for us two up in the sanctuary to go to Confession to each other. And that opened the flood gates of mercy for all.

Our Lord Jesus takes care of His priests if they want His mercy. It’s all about Jesus.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Aspect ratio edition)

This is the altar of the Blessed Sacrament in the Twelve Apostles Basilica next to the Biblicum. It’s run by the Conventual Franciscans. I like to kneel just here at the altar rail as it is just here that I prayed in preparation to be ordained a deacon. But there’s more. It is at this altar that I prayed to get through my studies with the help of St Joseph of Coopertino, the flying saint. He did. That involved a similar path, in detail, right down to professors and chapter 15 of Luke, again and again. I never did have his aspect ratio, however, flying around as in the painting above, since I can’t count extreme sports as a kid. I’m happy to always see flowers at the tabernacle throughout the decades. I’m sure He gives those right to His mama. After all, it is this Basilica that hosts the preached novena to the Immaculate Conception every year. The Franciscans prayed for Pius IX to proclaim the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, even as the Jesuits next door prayed for it to somehow be stopped. We know what happened. Haha.

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The Holy Spirit, Peter, priests, keys, absolution, me

Pope Sixtus V put up this obelisk to show that superstition is conquered by the cross, sin by grace, by love. It was laying on the ground to the Gospel side of pre-basilica times where Peter was crucified upside down out of deference to our Lord.

These are the bells which ring madly when a new Pope is elected.

Any Pope is always Saint Peter. It has something to do with the Holy Spirit, who provides the power of keys. Priests turn those keys in Confession. But the power is always with Peter. We thank the Holy Spirit who was sent among us for the forgiveness of sins. It’s the power of the Holy Spirit.

So far, I’ve prayed at the tombs of Bartholomew, Philip, James, and now, sorry, but most importantly, Peter. Those are his bones below the altar.

Besides the usual prayers for the plenary indulgence, my prayer to Saint Peter was this:

  • Help me to be one in solidarity with you and your successor.
  • Help me to be one in solidarity with you and your successor in being a sign of unity.
  • Help me to be one in solidarity with you and your successor in bringing many to the Lord.
  • And I continued in that manner…

Looking up:

And looking over:

On my way out of the Basilica just for nice:

But then I visited the tomb of Pius X just there, to the Gospel side. He sets me into ecclesia militans mode. But that’s for another post. Meanwhile, just there, off to the side, my guardian angel smacked me down so that I would take one last picture, one that would be significant for the prayer I had just made at the tomb of Peter, just a section of our Lord’s words to Peter:

“…and whatever you loose on earth…”

Significant, that, for a Missionary of Mercy.

No better place to start than myself. Outside, down below, near the colonnade, amidst the mayhem of the crowds, I spotted a couple of priests who looked terribly unkempt in terribly worn out clerical clothes. Nobody could fake that look. I asked them if they were Catholic priests.

The elder one said yes. The younger one, clearly a secretary, warned[!] the elder that I was a priest (stating the obvious, so political), and then told me sternly that the elder was not just a bishop, but an archbishop (I had seen the ring…). Ignoring this breathlessness, I quietly, humbly asked the elder if he might hear my confession. Yes, he said. That Archbishop was a saint. It only took a minute or two.

Any priest readers might be tempted to chime in to say that I was very rude to do this and that the younger priest was right to be upset. Instead, I think this was a good example about asking for confession, being available for confessions and in being available to one’s fellow priests.

If there is anything at all, ever, that will be a sign of unity, which will assist Peter in his mandate, it will be the blood of the Lamb falling upon us in forgiveness of our sins, then bringing that forgiveness to all.

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Street mafia = Vatican security. Nothing is as it seems, ever.

Not this guy.

There’s a line through security into Saint Peter’s that reportedly takes five, even six hours. That’s if you don’t cut the line. Enter the street mafia. Pay them and they will shove you into the front of the line. They look like tour operators. The sheeple don’t complain. You pay to calm your conscience down. The ones you are kicking in the face are poorer than you.

Not this guy.

Street Mafia: “Pay me to skip the line to enter the church.”

Since I had to wait a bit for my friend who was, as always, busy with the Holy Father, I decided to put a certain skill set to work. Get a stopwatch!

Within just a few minutes I had the whole mafia hierarchy down, the name of the anti-mafia LEO assigned to the piazza, names, places, even family pictures, who collects from who and how much. Easy peasy. All good conversation.

One guy, while looking the part, had a rather different background. He was a seminarian with the […] for 13 years (I suppose including minor seminary). He did his licentiate thesis on immigration. This was now it seems a role playing exercise for a doctoral thesis, also with a counterterrorism aspect with cooperation with police.

He said he left the […], but when he gave me his contact details they were still those with the […]. I’m sure he’s a priest. I left him sure that he had left the priesthood to be a cop, but now I think he’s still a priest cooperating with cops as he tries to get to know the Dynamics of the street mafia. That kind of knowledge makes for trusted leadership.

And here I was trying to convince him to go back to the […]. He’s a 1000 times a better priest than I. Nothing is as it seems.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (survival edition)

I’m told that it’s been terribly cold for Rome these past weeks, with quite a bit of snow. These guys are really struggling, but are trying their best to beautify this monastery originally named the Annunziata.

Like any mom, Mary appreciates any try on our part.

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If I go to the ends of the Earth…

… You are there, Jesus. The chapel where I’m staying.

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Such a trip. Such a travelling companion.

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. So we made a beeline across the globe, regardless of any curvature of the earth, adding a couple of hours to the flight. Usually we’re much father North.

And then we wandered around Spain and the Mediterranean perhaps continuing a dead reckoning exercise. We got up to 38,000 ft.

But no matter. I had a very pleasant travelling companion. I always do.

This person had never been assigned to Rome but had passed through many times. Assignments otherwise included the Middle East as well as Israel, Central America and Asia.

On this occasion the tables were turned a bit. Since I’ve spent some decades in Rome it was an honor to be of assistance in getting this person safely near our Embassy up on Via Veneto. The conversation was going in the direction of common friends. A refreshing start to this Missionary of Mercy jaunt in Rome.

Of course, just to make the encounter official, I was asked the inevitable question: who are you, anyway? ;-) It’s just that I’ve been in Rome way too long.

And here I am again. Trillions of memories flood in with every Vista. Nothing has changed. That can be a good thing.

Maybe it’s just that as the years skip by, I’m not so terribly offended by this:

I have such good memories of St JPII that I was happy to see it. Or maybe I’m in a good mood.

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Thanks, Fr Clarence Danforth. Without you, where would we be?

I am reminded of the famous Father Clarence Danforth, a great scientist to whom humanity is indebted, and a wonderfully humble priest.

We’re bording any minute now…

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Important UPDATE: Excellence… [Embarrassing and therefore…]

Ok… Not so important. But it really looks so very cool. I like it. It’s the only thing I’m recognized for. Yay.

UPDATE: A most wonderful parishioner had this certificate of excellence from the Diocese framed for the office not because it is true, though it is true. It is true that we have had no work-place accidents for our multitude of employees, for example, none of this:

No, no. Not for that reason was this framed for the office. Instead, this was done with mirthful and most clever sarcasm, which I appreciate, because it brings me laughter. You see, we are the smallest parish in North America and we actually have no employees at all, except, I guess, for myself. In other words, this certificate of excellence means that this donkey-priest, while braying and walking at the same time, amazing, and we are all surprised, stunned really… our donkey priest did not trip over his own feet for a whole year on parish property. He didn’t even step on a rake and get slapped in the face with it, which we expected or at least the Diocese expected and all were amazed that it didn’t pan out. Here’s your reward, your certificate of excellence for not being a klutz!!! Lol. Thank you, dear parishioner!

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The Hermitage neighbors

The waterfall near the Hermitage. The neighbor…

Warm near the fire…

Laudie-dog’s old friend Charlie-dog, on her last legs.

Meanwhile… A few minutes on the ridge. I think this is stage 3 of the FBI course (16 timed rounds w/mag change) at just 21′.

Points lost however, at 45′ and 75′. Final score was just 86%. An easy pass but not great. Indicative that too much time has been spent on the pre-2001 Federal Air Marshall course, all at 21′, which I also did, this time with 98%.

That surprised me, as I tried using only 124 grain NATO rounds for all this. They felt more natural somehow. The usual is 115 grain.

Meanwhile, walking over to the grandma’s house, future pears we hope, but now flowers for the Immaculate Conception. Granny got all the last rites from yours truly. She’s dying. She got all the papal benedictions and indulgences. Don’t ask for whom the bell tolls and all that. Meanwhile, I’m sooooo looking forward to going to heaven. I hope that’s not presumptuous. It’s not that I’m worthy. It’s that Jesus is good and kind. To us all. Amen.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (next to the Hermitage just because ed.)

Nuff said.

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Rosary film trailer…

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Inquiry about El Salvador

I got a heart-breaking inquiry about tragic human suffering, asking if I knew anyone who could help. Not that I know anything, but the inquirer might want to do up an inquiry at the email address mentioned on this page:

https://sv.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/

Probably you’ll meet with a brick wall. There’s more than one way to skin a cat. Since you’re an attorney, you might have success contacting this fellow, though note that although this guy has his offices at Main State, this is not officially part of Main State (it being that it just has everything to do with Main State):

https://www.state.gov/s/l/c3452.htm

He’s the guy, it seems, who paid my parking ticket without me asking when I paid a visit to Main State the other year. Friendly. I would really go after this guy. Watch his youtube video seminars looking for attorneys and students to sign up to work at this office and you’ll get an inkling as to exactly what he does.

The last time I was asked to help someone concerned trying to set up an emergency extraction from a country whose consulate was running on nothing, with no electricity for, like, five months, with security worse than Benghazi. Main State washed their hands of everything. Lots of CYA going on. No one cares because it’s not right now in the news or under scrutiny in Congress.

Having said that, you have my prayers and blessings for success in your good work for the least of our brothers among us. Thank you.

Oh, and, of course, your State Senators might be able to intervene and put pressure on the Consulate or on the guy at Main State on your behalf. You’ll want to tell them what you did so far. No one wants to be have a stigma of not having cared about the topic you bring up. We want to believe, as well, don’t we, that people would actively want to help.

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Birthday on a Lenten Sunday

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If you count from Ash Wednesday to the Sacred Triduum and subtract the Sundays in between you come up with the 40 days of Lent. Lucky that my birthday was on a Sunday this year. At least the cross has a purple stole. I like the spelling out of Father.

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Half Mast at Holy Redeemer

We pray for those who died and their families and friends, for more heroes like Aaron Feis, for the conversion of criminals and terrorists.

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