Category Archives: Vocations

Close friend [St] don Claudio Tonini murdered ✝1993: Fr George, bad and evil

Don Claudio Tonini, whom I consider a saint (without prejudice over against the Congregation for the Causes of Saints), was the parish priest of a fairly populous parish named after the Sacred Heart of Jesus in a mid-peninsula coastal smallish industrial and quite entirely unapologetically Marxist city of Italy (opposite the island of Elba). The town’s name is reminiscent of bullets: “Piombino,” “A Bit of Lead.” It’s nickname is “La Piccola Russia,” The Little Russia.

Don Claudio died in his 80s in March 1993, some 12 weeks after catastrophic injury-instigated medical disintegration consequent upon the murderous assault he suffered some months previously, in December 1992, only months after my own ordination to the priesthood.

That December of 1992, I was finishing up coursework for a Licentiate degree in Sacred Scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. A list of parishes right around Italy went up on the bulletin board next to the infamous Aula IV of the PIB, requesting that any available student-priests sign up to travel to whatever parish throughout Italy in order to help out with hearing Christmas Confessions. I waited for other priests to take their pick, but then it was too late. My hesitation was surely the work of my guardian angel. The next thing I knew, the list was taken down. Feeling utterly useless, I went to one of the upper-hierarchy of the Jesuit community who was in charge of this project and asked him if there was still another parish that needed a priest.

“Yes,” he said enthusiastically, and then added immediately:

  • “I was going to go myself, but, believe me, you are the perfect one to go there. You are the only one who could go there. You’re perfect for this. Thank you for volunteering. You have the perfect balance and reserve and judiciousness for this [and on and on, making me suspicious]. Thank you for doing this. There are problems. But you’re perfect for this. Thank you.”
  • “What are the problems?” I asked, dead-pan.
  • “You’ll see when you get there,” he said, refusing to tell me even when I pressed him on this. But then he praised the parish priest of the parish: “He’s a famous missionary up and down the Italian peninsula, always in demand as a preacher of parish missions, called in by bishops far and wide. The [Marxist] town built a youth center for him next the church since everyone in town respects him so much.”

Taking the train from Rome, walking from the train station to the parish, dragging some luggage, I found myself quite alone, the church open, but dark. I looked around, prayed a bit, but the rectory was all locked up. I had been given instructions to stay in the guest room of the religious community around the block. Off I went.

The nice sisters led me to my a small “cell” in the guest quarters and then pointed to a table in another room with some bread and water and some tid-bits of food (very delicious, mind you). I was heartily thanked as the sisters came in to get a look at the one who was apparently a brave young priest for taking on this task. I was something of zoo animal. This simply couldn’t believe that any priest would be brave enough to take on the task. But I wasn’t brave. I was just there to hear some Confessions. That’s it. I didn’t know the story.

But our Lord would use the drama in that parish to continue training me in about the heart of the priesthood from the point of view of the High Priest, Christ Jesus. Our Lord was training me in to be a donkey-priest. Mind you, all donkeys are guard-donkeys, apt at protecting any flock of sheep from the wolves. I didn’t know there was a wolf in this situation, not yet.

“Where’s the parish priest, Don Claudio Tonini?” I asked the sisters. They looked at me, dumbstruck that I hadn’t been told what had happened. And they didn’t want to tell me, speaking in ambiguities that meant nothing. But I knew I would be alone in covering this Italian parish for Christmas, something I didn’t expect I would ever be doing a month before.

Eventually, asking really a lot of people, I found out what happened. My heart sank. Don Claudio was still in the hospital when I got there.

What had happened is that don Claudio’s assistant priest “Quel M” as don Claudio charitably called him, was finishing Sunday Mass, and while everyone was still there don Claudio went up to the pulpit to announce that all the youth were to gather over in the youth center after Mass, so, an announcement of ten seconds or so. Don Claudio was great at teaching the kids about Jesus on their level, but preparing by reading the Summa Theologiae of Saint Thomas Aquinas.

“Quel M” let himself get enraged about this, becoming volcanic, but able to get back to the sacristy, rip off his vestments and storm away. But he disappeared only for a few hours, coming back that afternoon to hunt down diminutive don Claudio (mid-80s, frail, about 5’5″ and perhaps 125 pounds), who was sitting at his desk in his office.

With both hands, “Quel M” (mid-30s, strong as an ox, about 6’5″ and perhaps 310 pounds) grabbed the largest volume of the Summa Theologiae of Saint Thomas Aquinas, and proceeded with all his might to bash don Claudio over the head and on his face with it, then choking him in a strangle hold trying to crush his throat which don Claudio had used to preach about Jesus throughout his life. Don Claudio, strangled for what I’m sure seemed like an eternity for don Claudio, dropped to the floor. “Quel M” left don Claudio for dead. Three days later (three days, mind you), don Claudio awakens from his coma and, from the floor – still on the floor precisely where he was left for dead, is just able to reach the phone on it’s stand and call an ambulance, face and head swollen like a basketball, eyes still swollen shut after three days. I still shudder today at the monstrosity of “Quel M”.

The assistant, “Quel M,” as don Claudio called him, successfully escaped to the mountains and then, not being arrested, hid out (ironically on any number of levels) at “La Misericordia” (The Mercy, an ancient funerary organization in Italy) located at a crusader era church at the waterfront just down the street from the parish.

The most the bishop and the vicar general would do at that time is, basically, nothing. They and the other priests of the Diocese of Massa Marittima – Piombino were scared to death of “Quel M”.

Senseless, you say? Sick, you say?

Meanwhile, “Quel M” returned to the parish (though forbidden by the bishop), in order, he thought, to preside at the funeral of the head of Italy’s Catholic Action. She was from the parish and all sorts of politicians and dignitaries and untold numbers of churchmen of every rank showed up from throughout the Italian peninsula. I asked the higher-up ecclesiastics if they would like to preside over the funeral. They were afraid, and so cited my appointment by the local ordinary to surveil the situation. I couldn’t believe it. “Quel M”, standing right there in the sacristy before Holy Mass, was a volcano. A monsignor whispered to him that he shouldn’t be there and “Quel M” erupted violently, but somehow got himself out the door like a twirling Tazmanian devil of Bugs Bunny fame, though there was nothing funny about this. He could easily have killed all of us. The priests were wide-eyed, truly afraid. “Quel M” again had murder in his eyes and was totally out of control. Within a few minutes he was back in again. In order to calm down the situation I asked him if he would do the first reading. “Si!” he exclaimed. But then, during Mass, from the side, he said all the parts that I was to say as the “main celebrant” as the phrase goes in the Novus Ordo (back in 1993). “Quel M” said those prayers in a very loud voice indeed, almost shouting them out. Just so sad. I let him read because I was afraid that he would actually have killed a number of the old priests there. Truly… Anyway…

Don Claudio survived his stay at the hospital, returned to parish, and he and I became instant life-long friends if such a thing makes sense. It’s just that it seemed we knew each other forever. He loved Jesus. He loved the truth. He called our friendship in the priesthood a “sintonia” in the truth, explaining that sintonia has to do with radio waves being on the same frequency, strengthening each other. It would only be weeks before he died. When one is smashed about to death as an elderly person, this will exacerbate all other medical conditions, and it will not be long before one dies.

When Saint John Paul II got wind of all this, he was pretty upset, furious really, and sent a letter to all the Italian bishops about how to deal with their priests. It was like a lightning strike. Bishops were on notice. Yikes! This was a saga which carried on some years and was infamous everywhere in Italy. When priests found out that I had been the one to stay with don Claudio they instantly exclaimed: “You’re the one!” incredulous that I was standing before them. But I was nothing but a donkey-priest doing what I had to do. It is don Claudio who is inspiring. Let me tell you a bit about that:

The rest of the story: I repeatedly begged don Claudio to tell the police what had happened, to tell the full story to the bishop, but he would not do this. Don Claudio didn’t want to hurt “Quel M” in any way. Don Claudio wanted with all his might that “Quel M” come to know the mercy of the Lord. Don Claudio taught me much about the priesthood in view of other priests. I don’t know if I leaned what I should have learned, but my experience with him has nonetheless been invaluable for me. Thanks, don Claudio! I went to visit his tomb in the mid-2000s, brought there from Rome by a friend who has served as a kind of special secretary, so to speak, for a successive number of Roman Pontiffs. Even after so many years, his tomb was surrounded by huge bouquets of fresh cut flowers. That’s impressive. I prayed for the repose of his soul, and then asked that he pray for this donkey-priest still upon this earth.

Having said all that, if I had walked in on “Quel M” attacking don Claudio, I think I would have – in one movement – thrown him through the window (high up along the ceiling with those way too narrow windows) and out into the garden far below. If he had broken down the doors (I think we had already changed the locks) so as to reenter to do away with me, a kind of post-hoc witness to the murder… Well, I’ll just stop there… Yikes! So, I’m no saint.

As the years went by, “Quel M” visited the student priest residence where I was staying in Rome. I sat at the same table with him at lunch (twelve to a table). He sat across from me. His eyes bugged out like a cicada eyes when he realized that I had been the priest who had rescued don Claudio’s parish many years previously:

“Splutter, splutter, splutter…” was all he could say. He was once again a volcano, but had to control himself, but just couldn’t, so outraged was he. Meanwhile, he knew he was being watched by the powers-that-be at the table, who were way too well connected for him to be able to throw a fit.

Meanwhile, the bishop of that little diocese back in the day was kicked upstairs to about the very top of the Vatican hierarchy. I just couldn’t believe it.

Meanwhile, “Quel M” had been a mockery of what it means to be a donkey-priest, killing the shepherd by crushing his esophagus, instead of keeping the wolves away by doing the same to them, figuratively speaking.

I had already been well aware of the spiritual hideousness that priests can get into, but I had never met someone like Judas who would just go ahead and kill a fellow priest. But, now, I had an experience that this was also possible. I know Judas betrayed Jesus, but it’s different somehow when you see someone with blood on their hands for having done this quite literally.

This prepared me for more opening of my eyes to how far Jesus had to reach to get all of us, so very far, right into hell, so as to save us. My eyes were opened, like that cicada pictured above, as to how far Jesus had to reach to get me. I realized a bit more how bad and evil I am if I am without the grace of our Lord: so very bad and evil. “Quel M” and yours truly, I realized, are not so very different. Given the circumstances in life, you know, from birth, it’s all “There but for the grace of God go I.” If we don’t get that, we are liars to God, to neighbor, to ourselves.

Graced humility is the only way. Don Claudio shows us the way. He didn’t at all want to hurt “Quel M” in any way, but only wanted that also “Quel M” know the mercy and goodness of the Lord. This donkey-priest has so much to learn about that graced humility that don Claudio exemplified. No wonder he was in high demand for conferences retreats for priests and for parish missions right around Italy. Thanks be to God for don Claudio Tonini.

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My old school parish Faith Formation like Catholic Schools of old

This “Rules” notice was seen in one of our Faith Formation classrooms. This used to be the discipline in Catholic Schools and why Catholic Schools generally and regularly through the decades were fully two grades (at least) ahead of all other public schools.

But, of course, discipline means nothing without the interior wherewithal to be disciplined, that is, by way of friendship with God, which we are provided with the Sacraments.

Faith Formation is great, but…. what we really need are Catholic Schools with teaching orders of religious Sisters.

Hey, there’s an idea!

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Fr Altman: Best defense is good offense! Great LifeSite Interview, on FIRE

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♬ Latin ♬ Mass ♬Monday ♬ Wish ♬ It ♬ Were ♬ Sunday ♬

Some 7,000+ pilgrims, facing liturgical and actual East, were jammed into the eastern side of the Lower Basilica of Saint Pius X in the Sanctuaries of Our Lady of Lourdes in France on the National Feast Day of France, the great Solemnity of the Assumption of the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God to heaven, soul and body, for a Solemn High Mass with yours truly being the “permanent chaplain” who, however unworthy, having once again kick-started after decades of dormition the official offering of the Traditional Mass starting in 2007, had the privilege of offering this Mass on this day in 2008, during the 150th anniversary jubilee of the apparitions in Lourdes.

Our dear Lord called me to be a priest during the offering of the Traditional Mass on the feast of Saint John the Baptist, June 24, 1962. I was born in February of 1960. So, just two and half years old. But I remember pretty much everything in my early years – always have – in fine detail, in color, with smells and bells, as it were. So, just to say, yes, I have a very deep seated, entrenched, and ever living “attachment” to the “Old Mass” (a misnomer on so very many levels). And it’s not just about entitlement of emotional attachment, you know, a weakness to be pitied. No. The Traditional Mass is who I am as a priest, who I am before God, quite literally and in every way, on every level.

The Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as it has been celebrated throughout the life history of Holy Mother Church has for a long time been and is still today denigrated, held to be criminal, opening a priest up to persecution, bullying, brow-beating, suspension, removal from ministry, so that his salary is stripped from him, and all that he has to live on, including a place to say, something to eat, and then his insurance is removed, then his faculties, so that he is then held to be a mere liability and is dismissed from the clerical state. Just like that. Yep. Not infrequently either. This is the history of so many priests of my own acquaintance through the decades and still today.

After some eight years of catechesis of the parish, I have started to offer Holy Mass ad orientem, with “the people”, toward the East, toward Jesus, toward the Holy Sacrifice, the Lamb of God who takest away the sins of the world.

On Monday, I offered the Holy Sacrifice in what has been called the Extraordinary Form, the Old Rite, the Latin Mass, the Traditional Mass, the Gregorian Mass, etc. A crime? Surely, in the eyes of some. Pope Benedict ensured that priests could do this at their own discretion.

  • “But Father George! Father George! You don’t understand! You’re divisory! You’re not pastórial or pastóral or however you say it! You’re not appreciative of the Novus Pontifex, the New Scriptures, the New Liturgy, the New Morality, the New Doctrine! We worship Pachamama! We’re clever and sophisticated and up to date! Follow us, not that outdated not-divine Jesus! There are no sacraments! Come with us, for friendship!”

Mind you, none of that straw-man rubbish above is reflective of my parish. Only positive to date, 100%.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis and many of his favorite cardinals and his favorite bishops and his favorite priests and his favorite laity have been pushing for a localization of pachamama style liturgies as he himself has wrought on the central altar of Saint Peter’s, meaning anything even demonic is all good. The Novus Ordo Misae? I’m about done. It’s the boiling the frog so slowly that it’s dead before it knows it. I’m wanting out.

And yes, it’s true, with the “Old Mass” comes all that is ever ancient, ever new, all the goodness and kindness of Jesus, and the Living Truth that He is, all the doctrine, all the morality, all the sacraments. I’m for Jesus. How about you?

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Keep them, I pray Thee, dearest Lord…

purgatory

The first encounter I had with the the following prayer was when a great priest, that is, a real believer, close to Christ our God, gave me a prayer card with this prayer on the back. I was a pre-first year kind-of-discerning seminarian, right after high school.

  • Keep them, I pray Thee, dearest Lord, keep them, for they are Thine – Thy priests whose lives burn out before Thy consecrated shrine.
  • Keep them, for they are in the world, though from the world apart; when earthly pleasures tempt, allure – shelter them in Thy heart.
  • Keep them, and comfort them in hours of loneliness and pain, when all their lives of sacrifice for souls seems but in vain.
  • Keep them, and O remember, Lord, they have no one but Thee, yet they have only human hearts, with human frailty.
  • Keep them as spotless as the Host, that daily they caress; their every thought and word and deed, Deign, dearest Lord, to bless.

Our Father… Hail Mary… Glory Be…

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The Chrism Mass children

All the placemats at the meal for the priests and seminarians after the Chrism Mass were created by the children of the parish school. This is a yearly consolation. They are as different one to another as are the kids themselves. I’m always eager to see what the placemat will be where I sit. I was very happy to see that Jesus’ good mom was accompanied by a Star of David. There are many hearts – Sacred Heart, Immaculate Heart, and the hearts of those who are martyrs for the faith with all their churches throughout the world.

Here’s are those words in the middle with slightly greater context:

  • “All your sons shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children. In justice shall you be established, far from the fear of oppression, where destruction cannot come near you. Should there be any attack, it shall not be of my making; whoever attacks you shall fall before you.” (Isaiah 54:13-15)

Mind you, that’s not at all to say that we will not join Jesus on the Cross, that we will not join Mary on Calvary. We will have great peace in heaven from the Prince of the Most Profound Peace.

You’ll also notice a number of three-leafed clovers in the placemat. Not only did we just have Saint Patrick’s Day, who used the clover as a way to teach about the Most Holy Trinity, but also the Cathedral Parish is named after Saint Patrick.

Hmmm… I didn’t eat the non-Keto carrot cake. The rector of the Cathedral sat the Bishop at our table. The table banter was good. Seated in front of me below is the Vicar Forane of my vicariate. There were two other priests and a seminarian, the latter of whom I had a great chat about the vocation to which our Lord calls us priests, that is, to get out of His way so that He shines forth as the High Priest for His little flock even through us.

In the end, all the priests of the diocese were invited for the Chrism Mass. Last year there were only a representative number. But I think we’re all quite sick of the politics of Covid-19.

As it is, I had been contacted by the Bishop’s secretary, making sure I would be at the Chrism Mass, since there were requests to the end that I pick up the sacred oils blessed and consecrated at that Holy Mass for a number of other priests who were not going to be in attendance. I did that. Now comes the delivery part, which is less easy. That will be an adventure.

Lots of friends were greeted. I had a great chat with the Vicar General afterward, and got lots of really sharp canon law advice on the Traditional Latin Mass, as it is called, that is, on the rubrical-sacramental law of 1917 still being in effect for that liturgy, even while the adjunct personal law regarding that liturgy now comes from the 1983 code. Thus:

  • Holy Communion can only be given on the tongue in the Traditional Latin Mass, since that is the rubrical-sacramental law of the 1917 Code of Canon Law.
  • The much lengthier fasting the priest was required to accomplish under the 1917 law is abrogated unto the law promulgated in 1983, as this is instead adjunct law regarding merely the very person of the priest himself.

Many readers have been praying for me, perhaps especially recently. I thank you. The sense of a profound peace and calm that I was in yesterday – and still today – immediately brought to mind those praying for me. That peace is all their “fault” so to speak. Thank you for that. It did me good. All in all, a great day on so many levels.

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Holy Communion denied to Covid-19 vaccine takers? No Missionary of Mercy accompaniment

It’s extremely rare that you will find a Catholic priest or bishop who could care less about the murder of children in the womb by way of abortion, or who are against partial birth abortion, or who are against infanticide.

“Why do I say that?” you ask.

It’s extremely rare that you will find a bishop, backed by some henchmen priests, who will NOT push for the removal of a Catholic priest from active ministry, you know, a priest who is non-compliant with the culture of death, particularly the Wuhan Joe culture of death.

“Why do I say that?” you ask.

For such bishops, a priest who is not willing to sacrifice children to the demonic god of “death-power” is the enemy of their self-congratulations, their ♬ feelings ♬ of “power” of the cowardly killing of the entirely defenseless, you know, so that they can look likes heroes, clever, sophisticated, a valued member of the club… the proud hellions of the culture of death.

“Why do I say that?” you ask.

Go ahead, try to give me names of of those bishops who will NOT dismiss a priest from active ministry who insists on respecting the lives of defenseless children, you know, any bishops who ARE promoting vaccines developed and/or tested by the usage unto death of defenseless children, vaccines like Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer / BioNTech, Moderna, etc. Can you think of any besides Cardinal Bourke, Bishop Strickland, Bishop Schneider, or a few others anywhere in the world? Do you think the vast majority will tolerate the presence of a priest who speaks against taking such vaccines?

Their compromise, their subsequent bloodthirstiness, their consequent Judas-like death mongering, is threatened, they feel, by any priest who insists on respecting the lives of defenseless children in the womb. And I just bet you that these will be the same bishops who, year after year, for decades, insist on collections being made for Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Campaign for Human Development, both of which fund abortion right around the world.

Just guessing here, but would not these be the same bishops who have given themselves to homosexualist abuse of minors, who belong to the homosexualist club. I mean, I don’t know, but it’s all consistent, you know, treating children like fresh meat on which to foist their “power.” Many of those children will later commit suicide. It’s all the same. Sex for death. Yep. It’s just that in the case of murderously taking children out of the womb for the sake of self-congratulations uses euphemisms like “product of conception,” or useless “tissue.”

  • “Father George, you exaggerate, we haven’t heard of any priest getting forcibly aborted from his parish, uh… getting administratively removed from his parish for cautioning people against vaccines! You exaggerate!”

Hypothetical example:

But what if a priest, having preached very many times about the taking of such vaccines, at length, with incisive clarity, with great passion, so that there is no mistake about what he has presented, is accosted publicly in front of his congregation by someone who proclaims that they have gotten, say, the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, damned be the damned babies as long as they themselves think they are getting some profit, some expedient, convenient benefit from murdering those children for themselves, proclaiming that Johnson and Johnson is “better” because in their opinion, even though it is developed within the cells of the murdered-for-this-purpose human being, at least it’s not changing their DNA like the other vaccines. But that’s like saying a murder for money is better than a hate-crime murder. They are both murder.

What if that priest then immediately says just as publicly, right in front of his congregation, with calm and respectful but firm voice, that in conscience he, as Jesus’ priest, cannot administer Holy Communion, our Eucharistic King to such a person, stating that it is immoral to use others for ourselves, what with Jesus having laid down His own life for us so that we would STOP murdering others for our own self-congratulations, Jesus, who was himself in the womb of His Immaculate Mother for nine months, Jesus, who said that what you have done to the least of these you have done to me?

What bishop, publicly promoting that his priests take such vaccines, what bishop would, or humanly speaking could tolerate a priest who will refuse Holy Communion to those who publicly proclaim what they have done in getting such a vaccine developed from and/or tested upon the most defenseless, the weakest of the brethren? They cannot tolerate such a priest threatening their “power” over death in mockery of our God of Life.

Just guessing, but any such hellion bishop will forthwith remove such a priest form active ministry, right?

Headlines around the world:

“Catholic priest denies Communion to any church members disagreeing on Covid-19 vaccines.”

Yep, that would take a nanosecond, and the whole world would be putting pressure on such a bishop to do away with such a priest, to make an example of that priest, once again making himself the hero before men even while denying God to His face. What did Jesus say He would do before His Heavenly Father at the Judgement for those who have denied Him in the least of the brethren? He said that He Himself would deny them before His Heavenly Father. But hey! I’m preaching to the choir of hellions. Already on this earth they desire hotly to go to hell. Can you ♬ feel ♬ the “power”?

Well, all that would make it rather quickly to Pope Francis, himself a Covid-19 vaccine taker. Say that such a priest is a Missionary of Mercy of Pope Francis. What happens then? Will such a priest be held up as a murderer in that it is said he is putting people at risk of death? Will the Holy Father then have that priest’s bishop contacted to force that bishop to threaten such a priest with not only removal from his parish, but with suspension, interdict? That not working, will the priest be threatened with papally sanctioned forced dismissal from the clerical state (“laicization”)? That not working, will the priest be threatened with excommunication, so that not only can he not provide Sacraments, but neither can he receive sacraments such as an absolution, such as Holy Communion, such as the Last Rites? Cut off. Anathema.

As the great Girolamo Savonarola, O.P., responded to the one excommunicating him not only from Church on earth but, acting ultra vires, also pretended to excommunicate him from entering into heaven: “Questo non tocca a te” – “This isn’t within your capacities to do.”

I’ll tell you this: I, Father George David Byers, will consider it an honor to stand in solidarity with those children murdered in the womb who then stand before the throne of God, with Jesus, at the Judgment. I will consider it an honor to tell Jesus that I threw away, buried all my talents so as to exercise the talents He, Jesus, the High Priest, provides to His priests, His wounds, that it is His wounds that I proclaimed, that I didn’t back away from putting into action, His wounds of being spoken against, persecuted, marginalized beyond the peripheries, His wounds of thirsting for justice, righteousness, in mourning for those executed, desirous of mercy for those used and abused, His wounds of the greatest love in all truth, in all goodness and kindness, with no ill will toward anyone, desirous that all are turned to God by grace to be saved by Him.

Jesus:

  • “Remember then how you accepted and heard; keep it, and repent. If you are not watchful, I will come like a thief, and you will never know at what hour I will come upon you.” (Apocalypse 3:3)

And here we are. Seemingly, of a sudden, the entire world is being asked to make a decision. Are we willing to murder the image of God in the womb so as self-congratulate ourselves, or are we begging Jesus for His mercy and forgiveness so that we might love one another as He has loved us?

Moses:

  • “I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God…” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

Elijah:

  • “Elijah appealed to all the people and said, ‘How long will you straddle the issue? If the LORD is God, follow him, if Baal, follow him.'” (1 Kings 18:21)

Those not watchful may get fooled into – or be purposeful in – choosing demonic violence with arrogant self-congratulatory sophistication and cleverness. They are all around us. They might be pillars of the community. They might be “nice” people. They might be people with money. Oooo!!! Money!!!

I remember a parish to which I was assigned as a deacon. The first thing the pastor said was that I was preaching all five weekend Masses so as to introduce myself. The second thing the pastor said was that I was never ever to even mention abortion or contraception because there is someone in the parish who supplies “the parish” with new cars every year. Always the same.

You cannot serve God and Mammon.

  • “Father George! You don’t understand! We have insurance to pay! Insurance companies have policies about Covid-19! You’ll throw a wrench in the kickbacks we get for parishes following the rules! Kill those babies! Everyone is doing it!”

Sigh. Anyone publicly, notoriously serving the death demons will be denied Holy Communion just as publicly, and that’s a favor to such a person, confirming to them that they have attacked the image of Jesus and need to repent of this with a firm purpose of amendment. That purpose of amendment would include not getting similar Covid-19 vaccines as “boosters” or as that which has the pretense to ward off “variants.”

Saint Paul:

  • “Whoever eats the Bread or drinks the Cup of the Lord unworthily will be guilty of the [murder of the] Body and Blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the Bread and drink the Cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the Body [of Christ], eats and drinks judgment on himself.” (1 Corinthians 11:27-29)

The reprimand from Jesus to a priest by a bishop or pope smashing down a priest of Jesus for that priest’s respect for Jesus’ image in the least of the brethren is surely to be severe. A reprimand from Jesus to browbeating priests smashing down another priest’s respect for Jesus’ image in the least of the brethren is surely to be severe.

Have you recognized the time of your visitation? Have you chosen death thinking to have gained life in this world? Fool!

Have you realized that Jesus wants you to choose life? Do it.

By the way, this is not virtue signaling. I can’t clarify more than I have. I can’t retract. This is my conscience before the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception while He is yet unborn in the womb of His Virginal Mother. This is me saying against the hellions:

  • “Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders. Gott helfe mir.”

I say that with a different sense than Martin Luther heretic freakoid that he is. I mean that in the sense of being ecclesial, remaining with Jesus and His Church, the only true Church, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. That individuals in the Church like once Catholic priest Father Martin Luther lose their way and want others to lose their faith does not – by the grace of God – influence me one bit. Jesus wants me in heaven, and I’m good with that.

P.S. I’ve been doing this a long time – being at the ready to deny people Holy Communion – so much so, and to such effect, that the viability of Code of Canon Law 915 was confirmed and solidified at a General Wednesday Congregation of Cardinals at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the early-mid 2000s based on the total hell that I was suffering for this. Yep. That was me. ;-) I’m not going to stop now that I’m a “senior priest,” as I’ve been called. I’m not going to get along just for the sake of getting along. I want to go to heaven. Don’t credit that to me. It’s Jesus doing that. He want’s all of us in heaven.

Let’s use the example of the saints, this time from the Second Book of Maccabees, 6:18-31:

  • Eleazar, one of the foremost scribes, a man of advanced age and noble appearance, was being forced to open his mouth to eat pork. But preferring a glorious death to a life of defilement, he spat out the meat, and went forward of his own accord to the instrument of torture, as men ought to do who have the courage to reject the food which it is unlawful to taste even for love of life. Those in charge of that unlawful ritual meal took the man aside privately, because of their long acquaintance with him, and urged him to bring meat of his own providing, such as he could legitimately eat, and to pretend to be eating some of the meat of the sacrifice prescribed by the king; in this way he would escape the death penalty, and be treated kindly because of their old friendship with him. But he made up his mind in a noble manner, worthy of his years, the dignity of his advanced age, the merited distinction of his gray hair, and of the admirable life he had lived from childhood; and so he declared that above all he would be loyal to the holy laws given by God. He told them to send him at once to the abode of the dead, explaining: “At our age it would be unbecoming to make such a pretense; many young men would think the ninety-year-old Eleazar had gone over to an alien religion. Should I thus dissimulate for the sake of a brief moment of life, they would be led astray by me, while I would bring shame and dishonor on my old age. Even if, for the time being, I avoid the punishment of men, I shall never, whether alive or dead, escape the hands of the Almighty. Therefore, by manfully giving up my life now, I will prove myself worthy of my old age, and I will leave to the young a noble example of how to die willingly and generously for the revered and holy laws.” He spoke thus, and went immediately to the instrument of torture. Those who shortly before had been kindly disposed, now became hostile toward him because what he had said seemed to them utter madness. When he was about to die under the blows, he groaned and said: “The Lord in his holy knowledge knows full well that, although I could have escaped death, I am not only enduring terrible pain in my body from this scourging, but also suffering it with joy in my soul because of my devotion to him.” This is how he died, leaving in his death a model of courage and an unforgettable example of virtue not only for the young but for the whole nation.

Go to Confession.

P.S. I’d like to recommend for the salvation of souls that I not be smacked down, but rather that I be given a chance to help bring people back to the sacraments in the proper manner, I mean, you know, if it’s thought that the above is not a merely hypothetical example. But, you know, just writing about hypotheticals can be met with all the fires of hell, right? So, here we are.

Otherwise, are we priests to say that there is no doctrine, no morals, no sin, therefore no forgiveness, no need for the very Son of the Living God?

Listen up! Christ Jesus, Christ our God, will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire.

Amen to that.

Oh, and the Missionary of Mercy thing. I would love to remain as a Missionary of Mercy. But I cannot give up on being in solidarity with those thrown beyond the darkest of existential peripheries, those littlies, so defenseless, so horrifically murdered. I will continue to stand by them with no apologies, come hell or high water.

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I’m a donkey & I’m a dog

Whatever the unfortunate political collateral damage good donkeys must suffer because of presently passing circumstances, it remains true that donkeys have always been an intimate part of the life of the Holy Family, with (usually) highly complimentary imagery throughout both Testaments of Sacred Scripture and then in the life of the Church.

It has come to my attention that there are interlopers out there, namely, from a Religious Order that rhymes with the Order of Preachers, those Dominicans, particularly those of the Great Province of Saint Joseph in these USA, who are surely self-fancied as those guard-dogs, those sheep-dogs, who ride around the flock on the backs of donkeys, pretending that donkeys are not really guard-donkeys, just those dogs that they are.

They find agreement with Saint Augustine, who would call yours truly an ass, but then he at least would encourage me that, nonetheless, I carry Christ: “Asinus es, sed Christum portas.” I won’t begrudge them the ride, of course, because those dogs carry the light of Christ, Himself the Lumen Gentium, to the whole world. Blessings upon them.

Here are those dogs. I note that they are braying away. :-)

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My birthday. What parishioners think of me. Hint: they don’t. Thank God. Jesus is the One.

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Fr Byers still under Pontifical Interdict insisting FAITHBYTHESWORD is good

INTERDICT

I have begged through the years to be have relief from this interdict, at least from the sharpness of its cynicism and sarcasm, for it was known from the beginning that there is no possibility of circumstances under which I could possibly submit to ecclesial authority in this matter, that is, to wit, even though I no longer reside in said territory, for I continue to this day to be forbidden to even pass through, or say “Greetings!” There is no mercy for this Missionary of Mercy, it being having mercy on those banished to the peripheries at said institution which has brought about my own being cast into the same existential, anguished darkness. The holy angels, I reckon, were never happy with such a result prepared by the highest tribunals in the Holy See (note the exaggerated ecclesiastical Latin of penal decrees ossified by centuries of rote application to like offenders against expected loyalties).

mudbowl faith by the sword elijah

Although the given reason for the interdict seems serious enough, I’m guessing that the T-Shirt art produced in my honor for the event in question is thought to be politically incorrect in any number of ways. I respond that this over-reaction is symptomatic of our day. Instead of that reductionism, I firmly confess that the faith is spread by the sword as it was when Jesus’ Heart was pierced through (truly this was the Son of God), when Mary’s heart was pierced by sorrow (when our thoughts are laid bare), and this ever since the ferocious cherubim back in Genesis 3:24 brandished their fiery sword (for our conversion), since Elijah used his sword (for the edification of believers and the pedagogical punishment of non-believers), since Saint Michael used his (to show forth God’s glory), since our Lord told Peter not to use the sword in that most dire of circumstances (so that He Himself could have a sword plunged into His Heart).

I recommend that all seminarians get to know faith by the sword.

BTW: How good and pleasant it is when brothers live in unity… Perhaps, as a punishment for my continued contentiousness, I will be sent back to this office in the Pontifical Family (after all, notice the donkey in the painting besides the one sitting at the desk):

Pontifical Family humor

And while I open myself up to the less perspicacious of the communications crowd over in the Holy See, letting them think that I’ve actually been put under interdict (what with their Latin surely not being up to speed), I think it would be downright humorous altogether should I be publicly castigated and recommended for excommunication for real, you know, based on the interdict already supplied to yours truly above.

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Father George of the Peripheries?

Just to say, even though I’m in the smallest parish in North America here in these back ridges of Appalachia, even though some other priests are aghast that anyone could be a priest in such a tiny community and would never accept coming here, or would flee as soon as they could (true), lemme do some truthing:

There are more people at just one Sunday Mass than are present in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, in Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles, in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York… put… together. ;-)

Our dear Lord is Irony Incarnate, as it were, so to speak.

Also, I super love this parish. I love everything about it. And I grew up in the North Woods of Minnesota, so this super tiny town is metropolitan joy.

This priest has just waaaay tooo much fun. ;-)

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Sprinting with Jesus amidst the beauty which proclaims His goodness and kindness

Between Adoration, Confessions, Masses and Communion Calls…

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29 Years a Priest: “I’m Nobody.”

I totally entirely did not in the least ever choose the priesthood as my vocation, which would be a contradiction in terms anyway, as vocation means to be called to the task by God.

  • Jesus didn’t choose me because I’m some sort of good guy that He’s lucky to have on His team, or some such idiocy as that. No, I’m a hell-child of the devil inside-out, upside-down, back to front. I was running into hell as fast as I could go, and then, He choose (1) to redeem me when He was on the Cross, (2) to save me when I was baptized, (3) to call me because such is His mysterious will.
  • Jesus didn’t choose me because I come from some sort of good family. As longtime readers know, I tend to brag on mom and dad. But no matter how much I do that, that doesn’t mean they they were not fallen human beings, as was and is the case with myself and the rest of my family. We’ve all crucified the Son of the Living God, original sin and whatever of our own person sin. Jesus knows that all too well.
  • Jesus didn’t choose me because I have a talent for this or that: “Little George will be pretty handy with a Glock, so I’ll choose him!” Um… No… “Little George is will be pretty good at exegesis of the Scriptures, so I’ll choose him!” Um… No… etc.

A good priest is not ever:

  • “a man of consensus” – if a priest is not a sign of contradiction by way of the Living Truth who Jesus is, then he is betraying his priesthood.
  • “praised by everyone” – for then he is not speaking clearly, not acting decisively, not bearing witness as he must to the Lord Jesus.

To put it this way, a good priest:

  • Get’s the hell out of the way of Jesus, the One High Priest, and he does that by keeping up with the Sacraments himself, specifically, going to Confession.
  • Doesn’t take credit for anything good that happens with his priesthood, because the whole time he’s been stepping back to watch with awe Jesus the High Priest act through his priesthood.
  • Has a bit of joy in the Holy Spirit, not because he has the right to such a miracle, but precisely for the reason that the irony is so very sharp in the best Christian sense ever. So, here I am, such a hell-child if left to my own devices, watching Jesus work through my life to accomplish His ends of getting more souls to heaven, those of His little flock. I weep for joy. The irony is crushing, exhilarating, magnificent, personal with the Lord Jesus, in good friendship with Him, with the lowly human priest being in humble thanksgiving.

The picture up top of this post, wherein the priest acting in the Person of Christ at the Consecrations at Holy Mass sums it all up:

  • There is only One Priest, the High Priest, Christ Jesus, Christ our God, Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, who gave Himself for us, the Innocent for the guilty, even using the guilty – us knucklehead priests – to manifest His innocence, His goodness and kindness, His truth, such being the divine irony inviting all of us to look to Him.

What I hope my conversation at my judgment will be:

  • Me: “But dear Lord, I only did what I had to do. Anything good was only You. You’re the only One. Non sum dignus.”
  • Jesus: “Well done good and faithful servant. You did the one thing necessary.”
  • Me: “Thank you, for absolving me in Confession.”

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Censoring the already censored: that hurts bad

As long time readers know, yours truly, a Catholic parish priest, speaks with Father Gordon MacRae on average of about an hour a day. I edit articles for him which we discuss amidst the usual save the world and the Church banter so common among all priests, day-in and day-out.

Until recently, those articles went up on a site many of you know well: TheseStoneWalls.com, which, sad to say, is no longer a live blog. We’re in the process of transferring the old venue to what is appropriately called https://beyondthesestonewalls.com/.

Father Gordon describes just a bit of the censorship with his first post at the new site: https://beyondthesestonewalls.com/posts/life-goes-on-behind-and-beyond-these-stone-walls.

Yours truly continues to do the OCR scanning, then correcting that, then searching for links and pictures, then sending that on to our new anonymous helper behind the scenes. Blessings upon that volunteer. Yours truly chooses not to be anonymous as it’s more important that it be seen by the laity, by fellow priests, by bishops, by the idiots who hate God and their fellow man, who hate justice and due process, that a priest in good standing is willing to be public about his support for a fellow priest who has been unjustly kicked in the face. Jesus stood by all of us, right?

I’m no techy, but I’ve been able to put a note on the no-longer-live TheseStoneWalls.com site opening page so as to encourage people to go to Father Gordon’s fledgling site: https://beyondthesestonewalls.com/.

The new site is just in its infancy. Lots of hurdles with lots of difficult logistics, as you might imagine. All the nightmares, all at once.

All of this is a nightmare for us and the absolute worst possible time for us, what with Father Gordon’s long time friend, Pornchai Maximilian Moontri, in his terrible sufferings. This is all terribly painful, but it is also a new beginning and a freedom from censorship. First say a Hail Mary…. for Father Gordon and for Max, and then go to:

https://beyondthesestonewalls.com/posts/life-goes-on-behind-and-beyond-these-stone-walls

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

elijah judas tree

Elijah with the flaming fiery sword on Mount Carmel, Israel.

[It’s 2020. This was written now eleven years ago. It was Padre Pio’s feast day the other day, on September 23. /// BTW, today marks 26 years in prison of Fr Gordon MacRae. Hail Mary… St Michael the Archangel… ]

You can read things dozens of times over the years and just not “get it” at all. That’s me. But this year when I read the following letter of Padre Pio, I was mesmerized. I now know a bit more just how much I absolutely don’t know anything about the spiritual life. I have written academically about that of which he speaks, the flaming sword 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…

GEORGE DAVID BYERS - COAT OF ARMS - revision

From the Letters of Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, priest (Epist. I, 1065; 1093-1095)

I will raise my voice and will not stop imploring him

“Out of obedience I am obliged to manifest to you [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].

cherub-sword-eden

“I am quite unable to convey to you what occurred during this period of utter torment. While I was hearing the boys’ confessions on the evening of the 5th [making them saints!], I was suddenly terrorized by the sight of a celestial person [an angel] 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 scary 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?]

discalced-carmelite-coat-of-arms

Elijah’s fiery sword on the Discalced Carmelite Coat of Arms

“From that day on I have been mortally wounded. [“mortally wounded…” And this is no longer his wound, but that of humanity, with Pio now being in solidarity with Jesus on the Cross even as Jesus is in solidarity with us, loving us while we are yet sinners, drawing all to Himself as He is lifted up on the Cross. And we watch with Him…] I feel in the depths of my soul a wound that is always open and which causes me continual agony. What can I tell you in answer to your questions regarding my crucifixion? My God! What embarrassment and humiliation I suffer by being obliged to explain what you have done to this wretched creature! [For we do nothing to save ourselves. Jesus is our Savior. We come to realize this. We are nothing. He is all. He shows us what He has saved us from, and not just us, me, but we see how He has saved all of us as we gain some heightened perspective on the cross.]

padre-pio-stigmata

“On the morning of the 20th of last month [two weeks later], in the choir [making the traditional thanksgiving prayers after Mass], after I had celebrated Mass I yielded to a drowsiness similar to a sweet sleep. All the internal and external senses and even the very faculties of my soul were immersed in indescribable stillness. Absolute silence surrounded and invaded me. I was suddenly filled with great peace and abandonment which effaced everything else and caused a lull in the turmoil. All this happened in a flash. While this was taking place I saw before me a mysterious person similar to the one I had seen on the evening of August 5th. [We entertain angels and even the Son of Man and do not know it. How much the angels reflect the Son of Man! And the fiery love of God, issuing from the throne of the Most High, from the Heart of Him who loves us so much, is just that fierce on that sword which transforms us utterly in God’s love.] The only difference was that his hands and feet and side were dripping blood. This sight terrified me and what I felt at that moment is indescribable. I thought I should die and really should have died if the Lord had not intervened and strengthened my heart which was about to burst out of my chest. [We are utterly weak. It is all Jesus.] The vision disappeared and I became aware that my hands, feet and side were dripping blood. Imagine the agony I experienced and continue to experience almost every day. [He speaks also and especially of his embarrassment, for he, as all of us from Adam until the last man is conceived, caused those wounds in our Lord. How is it that he, Pio, or any of us could share such wounds of love for all those Jesus has redeemed and wills to save?] The heart wound bleeds continually, especially from Thursday evening until Saturday.

PADRE PIO SEAL OF CONFESSION

Padre Pio reprimanding the Bishop about the Seal of Confession.

“Dear Father, I am dying of pain because of the wounds and the resulting embarrassment I feel deep in my soul. I am afraid I shall bleed to death if the Lord does not hear my heartfelt supplication to relieve me of this condition. Will Jesus, who is so good, grant me this grace? Will he at least free me from the embarrassment caused by these outward signs? [The embarrassment, mind you, is more than enough to end his life on this earth.] I will raise my voice and will not stop imploring him until in his mercy he takes away, not the wound or the pain, which is impossible since I wish to be inebriated with pain, but these outward signs which cause me such embarrassment and unbearable humiliation. The person of whom I spoke in a previous letter is none other than the one I mentioned having seen on August 5th. He continues his work incessantly, causing me extreme spiritual agony. There is a continual rumbling within me like the gushing of blood. [This Hebrew description of this sword in Genesis 3:24 (which I think I am the very first to translate pedantically, as it really is just that difficult), the sword which the angel is mashing around inside Pio is variously and wrongly translated as the twirling sword, the sword which moves about this way and that, etc., is, instead, 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!]

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Weird hits on the blog… Prayer warriors, I guess…

WEIRD HIT NUMBER ONE:

cardinal ratzinger parlor cdf -
just me -

From time to time the two pictures above will – weirdly enough – be downloaded from the blog, just those two, in a nanosecond, in tandem by a visitor from the Netherlands, and then, weirdly, by someone in Brazil. Nothing from either location for quite a while, and then it’s lockstep in the pattern, just those two pictures downloaded in a nanosecond first from northern Europe, then, just a bit later, in tandem, like lightning, in Brazil. That’s happened like four times over the last number of years. It just happened again, first the Netherlands, then the Federal District of Brazil, along with a grouping of villages in the general environs of and at Aparecida. I bet it’s the Tyburn nuns wanting to pray for me – as they do – and perhaps they wanted a couple of pictures to remind them. We both need it. Pope Benedict is in terrible health. I’m bad and evil. So, to whomsoever, thanks for the prayers for the two of us. I do have a good priest friend from Brazil who – a late vocation – studied in Rome and then became rector of a seminary in the Netherlands. So, it could also be him asking for prayers for me and Ratz from another friend in Brazil. Still, it’s weird, across the years, and those two particular pictures, only. I’m thankful for people who pray. I still pray the “Emergency Chaplet of the Immaculate Conception” for benefactors, including prayer warriors, of course. The weird thing is that the little boy you see in that picture above sat in that very chair in that very parlor in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith within a very short time of that picture of the Cardinal Prefect being taken, pretty much exactly 33 years after the picture was taken of that 12 year old boy. I was on a bit of a mission on behalf of then Cardinal Ratzinger and now Saint Pope John II concerning some personnel working in the Holy Office. Any way, for Pope Benedict: Ave Maria…

WEIRD HIT NUMBER TWO:

Church Militant did up an intense investigation of the most untimely death of Father Joseph Moreno of the Diocese of Buffalo, who died from two gun shots to the upper-back side of his head hours before he was to provide evidence on abuse to the then Nuncio to the United States, the now retired and well known + Carlo Maria Viganó. The Diocese immediately pronounced this to be a suicide, the absurdity of which proclamation is evident, and not only because of the speed. The Diocese has a stake in the “game.” Just watch the video. Kudos to the investigative tenacity of Michael Voris.

Father Moreno was placed in a totally relaxed pose on a chair impossible to someone who just blew his brains out – twice[!] – from above and behind his head- with the gun then placed in the wrong hand (a medically unusable hand to him, something the assassin didn’t know), with no blood splatters anywhere, meaning the assassin shot through a towel or some-such, not wanting blood on him or herself, and taking that towel or whatever away, along with a filing cabinet of all that which Father Moreno was going to bring to the Nuncio, as well as the fax machine which had in memory transmission-logs of faxes of some of those documents Father Moreno had sent to a reporter some hours previously. “Nothing to see here, folks!” the perp(s) mumbled driving away. Considering the filing cabinet, there was probably more than one person.

The weird thing is that, some time after posting about all that, a certain guy in Iowa who trolls this blog – though rarely – had gone to that post about Father Moreno’s murder. Very quickly that same post was visited from Vietnam, in I think it was Ho Chi Minh City (otherwise known as Saigon). After quite some time – months – the same thing, in lockstep fashion: Iowa, then Vietnam. As far as I know, those two were the only visitors ever after a week or so of it being posted. Only that post, across the past couple of years. Directly to it. Altogether maybe that’s happened in the same fashion like that four or five times, perhaps checking for comments, but perhaps the guy in Iowa was asking for prayers from the person in Nam. That’s it.

In fact, Father Moreno deserves our prayers for the repose of his soul. I also think he’s a martyr, so I say a prayer for him and then to him. God knows there are plenty of similar stories of priest martyrs in Vietnam.

If Father Joseph F Moreno Jr is raised to the altars quickly it will be for the good of the whole Church, pro bono ecclesiae and all that:

SANTO SUBITO!

Ave Maria

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About your trauma recovery dear Father Byers… ;-)

A couple of articles have been published in recent years about terrorist suicide bomber Saeed Hotari.

There was nothing traumatic in all that. I was never much traumatized by my being shot at I don’t know how many times over decades and the ten thousand other “incidents” any one of which might throw someone into a trauma-recovery program, say, in North East Virginia, say, at Wolf Trap or at Liberty Crossing Campus. As I’ve often said however, bullets buzzing by one’s ears are certainly memorable.

In that more recent article linked above I mentioned that I carry. It’s a Glock 19, chambered. I like the Serpa Blackhawk OWB, for convenience, my stupid record (as I’ll never repeat that again) is 1.01 seconds for 2 to the “body” (spine) 1 to the head (brain-box) 25 feet out from the holster. Being in a state of prompt readiness to protect the innocent from unjust aggression is a virtue related to justice. Just to say it, mercy is a potential part of the virtue of justice, as Saint Thomas Aquinas points out in his commentary on the Sentences. Providing justice is a mercy. Yes.

I received a very clever comment on that more recent article. At first glance I thought this was a denunciation of carrying a Glock. But it’s not that at all. I didn’t let it out of moderation there as I wanted to give it a bit more visibility. I include my interlinear [comments]:

  • “We cannot rely on our own ability to fight evil [she’s referring to Peter slicing off the ear of Malchus when Jesus is being betrayed, as we’ll see momentarily] but must depend on God. [I agree.] How often we forget our survival is totally dependent on God. [Hey! I forget all the time, you know, not having the beatific vision and all that. Yep. I agree. I want to go to heaven!] Eventually we all learn [well, some of us] that the unstable world [crux stat dum volitur orbis: let’s just call it a fallen world and figure this out] cannot be the source of our security, of true peace of heart. [“My strength shines out through your weakness” – Jesus to Paul] I’m interested in how you square your essay with Luke 22:51. [I’m paraphrasing because of bad translations, but Lk 22:51 is this: Jesus said: “All of you let me do this!” And He touched the ear of (Malchus) and healed him.] Your words make it sound like you live your trauma recovery [with me being Malchus and all… (adn with trauma recovery being a very technical term betraying much background in the same] in a state of protection with a clenched fist. [That is, not trusting in God and full of fear, whereby Malchus steals Peter’s sword and I forge it into a Glock. Very clever, that. And lots of work to be able to spit that out just like that. There’s no way out except like this:] Meanwhile another hand, not yours or mine, reaches out in the Eucharist. [See top picture on the Eucharist. And I agree with that, to a point.]

Malchus was an enemy, a servant of the High Priest, literally dead set against Jesus. Malchus learned from the mercy shown him to be sure. It being that I’m the Missionary of Mercy of the High Priest, Pope Francis, maybe I too should learn something of mercy. But is carrying a tool to protect the innocent from unjust aggression a lack of mercy making me the enemy of Jesus?

Jesus was a special case. His reprimand not only to Peter but to all the Apostles (it’s a plural imperative) was not about the inappropriateness of what Peter was doing so much as it gave Jesus a moment to show mercy to the end. This was precisely like His reprimand to John the Baptist: Let it be so for now for the fulfillment of righteousness! When Jesus was baptized He was asking our Heavenly Father to treat Him as if were guilty of sin, not just like the charioteers and soldiers of Pharaoh who were drowned for their sin of enslaving the chosen people, but He was asking to be treated like He was guilty for having enslaved all in sin, all peoples of all times, from Adam until the last man is conceived. Jesus lays down His life, taking on the punishment we deserve for original sin and all our own rubbish, so that He has the right in His own justice to have mercy on us. The Apostles see this mercy with Malchus and off they go.

Is it wrong to protect oneself and others while trusting in God while doing this mercy? No. In fact, it’s a contribution to the virtue of justice.

Two points and excuse my theological language:

First of all, I don’t want any trauma recovery, particularly not anything from Northeast Virginia. Why not? Because I’m not traumatized enough, not yet. As some priest friends from Colombia told me, “We’ve done nothing; we’ve not lain down our lives for the brethren.” Get me away from all that is trauma recovery. If anything, my therapy will be to put my fingers into Jesus’ wounds in His hands and my hand right into the wound in His side, into His heart.

My saying, “My Lord and my God” will be my entire trauma recovery, good enough to take my right through torture and death. I deserve everything I get along the way of the effects of original sin and my own, including being available to the malevolence of others (there ain’t no Glock that’s gonna stop that). And because Jesus laid down His life for me and called me to be His priest, He deserves that I un-clench my fists so as to Consecrate His Body and Blood at Holy Mass, so as to provide Absolution of sin, so as to Baptize, so as to Confirm… Yes. But I still carry. In calmness. Tranquility. You know the drill: “Carry! And carry on!”

It is no trauma to follow up on Jesus’ invitation: “As the Master, so the disciple.” Why not? Because His strength shines out through our weakness. His love carries us in the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit.

Let me give an example. This very morning, while that lady wrote her comment, I myself at the same time was being stripped of my carry and locked in jail. I’m out now, obviously. But you have to know that I feel most at home among sinners like Malchus because I’m so like him. I make lots of friends in jail. I have a Bible study with the guys every week. I love it. What a joy. And I gotta say, lots of the guys are much better prepared in the Scriptures than were my seminarians anywhere around the world. Truly. I love it. We help each other out to get to know the Lord. Believe me, no protection or clenched fists inside the stone walls. No, no. It’s all about Jesus. It’s all about putting that ear back on Malchus. And about letting that ear get put back on me by those, you know, “sinners” and all that.

But, hey! Not to worry my interlocutor comment friend. Maybe you can help me with a bit of trauma recovery after all. There are some adjustments to the “recovery program” that I’m on – if you want to call it that – (DS or DipSec might have another name for all that), adjustments which I would like to be implemented, but I won’t write about that or say it over the phone. I need an in-person interview with someone, say, I don’t know, just up from the Rosslyn metro stop, maybe at the Campus… Can you swing that, maybe with CCS oversight? That would be really, really cool. Seriously, if you want to help me, that would go a long way.

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Priestly ordinations during Covid-1984

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“I’m surprised that there’s anyone joining up to be ordained a priest in these crazy times,” exclaimed a parishioner a day before the ordinations. Hah! He doesn’t know our great seminarians!

Zipping down for the 400+ mile trip to Saint Mark’s in Huntersville (much bigger than the Cathedral in Charlotte), it was wonderful to witness our Lord Jesus at work in the ordination of two more priests for this diocese of western North Carolina.

My own parish is in Charlotte Diocese, though it would be difficult to be more distant than we are from the Cathedral, Chancery and the larger parishes. This parish is far closer to the Cathedrals of Knoxville, TN and Atlanta GA, with the Cathedrals of Nashville TN and Birmingham AL being just some minutes farther than Charlotte.

This year the ordinations were on Friday, not Saturday, much easier for me, with so far to travel. I otherwise have to cancel Saturday afternoon confessions and even confessions before the Vigil Mass, getting back, literally, just seconds before Mass is to begin.

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Being so far from the big cities of the diocese, it is always a culture shock for me to emerge from the very heart of Appalachia and try to take in the ways and means of how other parishes are handling Covid-19 precautions.

Of course, I shouldn’t be so entitled. I offered up the weirdness (and it was weird) for the priests in China who are suffering the persecution of the Chinese Communist Party not only with Covid-19, but also in reeducation camps, labor camps, torture and death camps. We are inconvenienced by the CCP-Covid-19, but priests in China know much more of the violent persecution of the CCP. They know more than anyone what it means to be faithful to our Lord without compromise. They would laugh at our entitlement to be free of weirdness from the State or others.

Even with the idiocy of the policies of some governors bringing mayhem and violence to the streets of America, I don’t think many of us have a clue as to what persecution in this life can be like. We make a big deal out of some inconveniences, and perhaps we are right to mention these things, but at the same time we must open our eyes.

Just my opinion, but it seems to me that our seminarians and young priests have their eyes open to the way things really are in this fallen world. They have been called by Christ our God to His Priesthood. They have received most excellent training and formation. They want to be prompt and ready in their obedience to the truth in all charity, to Christ Jesus Himself. They are awake, clear.

Being “woke” in America is fake news, as there is no one who is more in a coma than are those who think they are “woke,” all the new communists in our midst. But we’ve been training our guys rightly in this diocese, pointing them all to Jesus, who does open eyes, who does have us awake and at the ready.

For myself, it is perhaps more appropriate to come up with another analogy of being “woke” at this stage in my life, but again by Christ Jesus: “Arise! Let us be going! Behold, my betrayer is at hand.” I was asleep earlier in my life right along with those three apostles in the garden of Gethsemane. But I think I might have learned something of being trained in by my guardian angel for situational awareness regarding entitled heretics, regarding those who are truly evil. I’m my own worst enemy.

But who’s the betrayer who is always at hand? All those who are “woke” into darkness and violence and evil, who are far from the Lord Jesus.

I thank the Lord daily for having me here in this diocese.

I thank the Lord daily for having me here in this parish.

I have to wonder when we also will be hit by the mayhem that we see elsewhere. It’s always elsewhere until it happens to you. So…

Prayers of solidarity with our new priests, whom I’m guessing are more at the ready than I will ever be, who are assigned to much bigger parishes than I will ever see. Blessings be upon them. Better them than me! … Hail Mary …

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Pius XII to Catholic Priests

A most wise past student sent me a few paragraphs written by Pius XII to Catholic priests. With these, I stand reprimanded and at the same time encouraged. I am thankful to Pius XII and my past student, whose student I now am. Here is some of his message to me:

“Pius XI has been of great help and consolation to me of late. His writings in the 1930s speak with the powerful voice of the Church even to us now 90 years on. His condemnations of the many -isms of his time find resonance today, and have helped me make sense of what goes on around us currently. Go figure—the Church has been there, done that, made it through with Jesus! Nothing new under the sun.

“Anyway, I have been reading his encyclical on the priesthood (Ad Catholici Sacerdotii) and, having learned much […] about this holy life, I wanted to send these three passages along, each helpful in its own way today, both in general but also specifically as a reminder to us priests. May we both, with Mary’s help, live up to the great calling which is ours in and from Jesus Christ, the Great High Priest!”

  1. In this clash of selfish interest, and unleashed hate, and dark plans of revenge, nothing could be better or more powerful to help, than loudly to proclaim the ‘new commandment’ of Christ. That commandment enjoins a love which extends to all, knows no barriers nor national boundaries, excludes no race, excepts not even its own enemies.
  2. Finally, the priest, in another way, follows the example of Christ. Of Him it is written that He “passed the whole night in the prayer of God” and “ever lives to make intercession for us”; and like Him, the priest, is public and official intercessor of humanity before God; he has the duty and commission of offering to God in the name of the Church, over and above sacrifice strictly so-called, the “sacrifice of praise,” in public and official prayer; for several times each day with psalms, prayers and hymns taken in great part from the inspired books, he pays to God this dutiful tribute of adoration and thus performs his necessary office of interceding for humanity. And never did humanity, in its afflictions, stand more in need of intercession and of the divine help which it brings. Who can tell how many chastisements priestly prayer wards off from sinful mankind, how many blessings it brings down and secures?
  3. A last tribute to the priesthood is given by the enemies of the Church. For as We have said on a previous page, they show that they fully appreciate the dignity and importance of the Catholic priesthood, by directing against it their first and fiercest blows; since they know well how close is the tie that binds the Church to her priests. The most rabid enemies of the Catholic priesthood are today the very enemies of God; a homage indeed to the priesthood, showing it the more worthy of honor and veneration.

Pax, Father […]

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Police Chaplains: detrimental to faith?

There are all sorts of chaplains. Yours truly is a Catholic priest. But am I, specifically, or is any other police chaplain a detriment to the faith? Are you ready for the answer? Hold on tight!

Who, I ask, is going to risk his life to assist in lessening hell on earth if not whatever kind of law enforcement? I mean, you know, directly. There really are bad and evil people who need to be assisted in halting their deadly aggression against everyone.

The lawless knuckleheads kill men and women, boys and girls, infants, babies, shooting, beheading, chainsawing, burning, melting in vats of acid until nothing is left. No, really: all the time, entire villages at a time, no exceptions in those towns, adding up over the decades now to hundreds of thousands. Mayhem. Chaos. The domain of Satan. So, let me ask again:

Who is going to risk his life to assist in lessening hell on earth if not whatever kind of law enforcement? I mean, you know, directly. There really are bad and evil people who need to be assisted in halting their deadly aggression against everyone. That putting on the brakes, my friends, is a contribution to the virtue of justice. Defense against unjust aggression is natural law. It is of divine right.

I have a good friend for whom I have much respect. We discuss things quite intensely. I love that. It’s a kind of rabbinic discourse, answering a comeback by raising the stakes with a provocative challenge begging for an answer which itself raises the stakes once again. Well…

This friend of mine played the devil’s advocate with my being a police chaplain, making me think, so that I might get around to publishing some thoughts about a Catholic priest who is busy in his parish also being a police chaplain, you know, writing then about whether or not also being a police chaplain is detrimental to the faith of the parish, that police “accompaniment” meaning that, in a fake zero-sum game, that is just how much I am not paying attention to my parish, failing in my duty just that much in my assisting our Bishop in his apostolic mandate to care for the souls given to him by the Lord, failing therefore in my duty to nourish those souls in the faith, failing in my duty to protect those souls from the wolves.

Let’s put that differently:

In being a police chaplain, do I fail my priesthood? Do I fail my parish church? Do I fail the diocese? Do I fail the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church? Do I fail Jesus? Do I fail His good mother, Mary Immaculate? In choosing to be a police chaplain, am I signing up to go straight to hell? Am I the devil’s puppet, Satan’s little play-thing? Am I racist? A white supremacist regardless of my pigmentation or lack thereof? Do I lack in honesty and integrity in being a priest who is also a police chaplain? Should I just go loot and pillage and commit arson and be… you know… on the right side of dialectical history?

Let’s put that differently again:

Are the police, of late, proving to be inhumane as a totality, so that ALL police officers are inhumane and also inhuman, so that they are not only in a basket of deplorables but are also irredeemable, rightly marginalized from any encouragement, any support, so much so, in fact, that all police must be discredited, defunded, disbanded, thrown on death row even for perfectly following protocol, agency policy, city law, county law, state law, federal law, the Constitution, natural law, God’s law to love one’s neighbor as oneself, they being at the read to lay down one’s life at any given moment? Is it downright harmful to the Church and to humanity to be a police chaplain?

This is insane, but let’s put that differently yet once more:

Is it impossible that any member of a police force belong to one’s parish family? It is impossible that any member of the police force could benefit from chaplain support? Are we all to just say: To hell with them all!?! Saint Michael, patron saint of law enforcement, protect us!

saint Michael carries police officer to heaven

If the police are thought to be so far out in the peripheries that we are not bother with them, then I answer in three ways:

(1) Pope Francis wants members of the Church to get over themselves, to stop being self-referential, self-absorbed. He wants that especially his priests and bishops to go out into the peripheries. I’m NOT saying that police are actually on the peripheries, even though the media and my interlocutor would present them as being such. Yours truly is a Missionary of Mercy of Pope Francis. I’m mandated to go out into the peripheries by the Pope. I say all that just to shut people up.

(2) But that’s not good enough. Let’s turn to the greatest of all prophets, Saint John the Baptist. The great Saint John pointed out the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, thus setting the good example for any police chaplain, shielding any police chaplain from the unjust aggression of police-haters. Saint John went out of his way to encourage even the military occupation style of law enforcement of his day so that – get this – so that they might also be saved (see Luke 3:14). Get that? No, really: Get that?

(3) But that’s not good enough for some. So, let’s just go ahead and turn to Jesus’ take on such self-referential, self-absorbed idiocy:

  • “A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy (the thief being play-acted by my kind interlocutor above); I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I HAVE OTHER SHEEP THAT DO NOT BELONG TO THIS FOLD. THESE ALSO I MUST LEAD, AND THEY WILL HEAR MY VOICE AND THERE WILL BE ONE FLOCK, ONE SHEPHERD. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father.” (John 10:10-18)

Again, this is not to say that any officer – because of being a police officer – does not belong to the the sheepfold of the Lord. This statement of our Lord is offered for the sake of my interlocutor, who was challenging me to defend my being a police chaplain. If our Lord Himself wants us all to help each out in getting to know Him  – and He does want that – then there should be no problem whatsoever in being a police chaplain. In that case, being a police chaplain is not inconsistent, contrary, or contradictory with being a parish priest. One’s ministry is not divided by being a police chaplain. This is not a zero-sum game. Our Lord Himself wants all to hear his voice. We all need to help each other in hearing the voice of our Lord so that there may be but one flock, one shepherd. That is His will. Anyone going against the will of the Lord is risking… risking what? You tell me.

Let’s put that a different way:

My interlocutor is saying that we are instead to be so self-righteous that we are not to evangelize, not to proclaim the good news, not to help others get to know Jesus even while these others might already know Him better than we do, that being beside the point, the point being that we, regardless of anything, are to try to help each other get to know Him, Jesus, all the better.

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Truth be told, some of our police officers are so keenly interested in the faith that they speak as do the Fathers of the Church and I am the one learning. Yes. How could it be otherwise? Christ also comes to us through others, whomsoever they may be, for it is the Lord who is working on all souls, having all of us help each other out in getting to know the Lord.

  • Does all that make for better policing? Yes.
  • Does all that make for great evangelization all around? Yes.
  • Does joy and enthusiasm for all that is good and holy and honest and patriotic and honoring of the Constitution of these United States make for a better society? Yes.
  • Does all that build up the Church, the Body of Christ, with Jesus the Head of the Body and we the members of the Body? Yes.

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Finally, again, my interlocutor is a great guy, entirely pro-police, but he’s really, really good at baiting people to reach for excellence on any and every topic. Kudos to him.

There are not zero sum games when it comes to friendship with the Lord. Being a police chaplain in one’s parish does not take away from being a parish priest in that same parish. It is one. Jesus is the One. He’s the only One.

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Filed under Law enforcement, Missionaries of Mercy, Pope Francis, Priesthood, Vocations