Father Byers, are you gay?

damian-of-molokai

Even though I was wearing my Roman collar, I knew it was going to happen. I could not but be hit on in the waiting room of the Infectious Disease Unit of Memorial Hospital (South of Exit 50).

I was surely looking very much alone. “Soooo, what are you here for?” asked one very flirtatious gentleman. Imagine, picking someone up in an Infectious Disease Unit! Pretty much everyone there was looking druggie or gay. Sorry. I could be wrong. But appearances are what they are.

I could have avoided that by staying in the car for an hour. I could have avoided the scandal of a priest going in to the Infectious Disease Unit, because, you know, people who go in there are surely shooting up drugs with just-used-needles or are having lots of illicit sex or are otherwise just yucky people, right?

But, no, Father Byers was determined to accompany the underdog, to know the smell of the sheep, to share the stigma of going into such a place where people charitably receive treatment for their ailments. I was accompanying someone who had an infectious disease, as is my practice, it being that the elderly poor in my parish who are without family and without transportation cannot otherwise go to such far flung appointments hours away.

The gentleman, meanwhile, was then distracted back at the receptionist’s window, but then came right back to me, offering me lunch, seeing that I had been there for quite some time. I refused that and he went back to the receptionist.

But then he came back again asking if I were here with my “brother”, you know, my presumed gay sex partner (the brother thing taking drugs out of consideration). By that time, the person who I was taking there appeared at the receptionist and I simply pointed to her, an elderly woman suffering the effects of her having caught something decades ago with the special ed special cases children she taught. They were always getting scrapes and cuts and, because they had their own medical problems, the teachers were supposed to wear gloves while teaching. It’s easy to catch something because sooner or later you’ll have a scrape or cut as well. Blood is blood.

The gentleman said, “Oh.” And then he left.

Should Father Byers have been prudent and not gone in to the Infectious Disease Unit for God and the whole world to see? I wonder if Jesus asked that question when coming into this world, wondering if it was imprudent to walk among those He knew would torture Him to death.

Anyway, it is also easy to be proud of being with the underdog. Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner.

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An Ent Lent’s pareidolia

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On Shrove Tuesday Eve, there was party thrown by some friends celebrating some recent events in my life, which happened to happen all at once. It was a victory celebration in many ways.

This massively huge “tree” was just outside the window. I think it’s an Ent, you know, of Lord of the Rings fame, those gigantic creatures which ever so kindly carried our heroes into the battle of battles.

Hey! Why not personify the cross into being a friend, a best friend, who will carry you right into the battle of battles next to the King of kings, the Lord of lords, Wonder Counselor, Prince of the Most Profound Peace? That would make for an ENT LENT!

In this way, pareidolia is a gift making life more interesting even while personifying that which is able to be personified is altogether helpful for analogy, without which Christianity is naught.

Take as an example the great “Sophia”, the Wisdom of God spoken about in the Old Testament, not a goddess or fourth member of the Most Holy Trinity, but that receptivity of Sacred Tradition which Cardinal Siri in his great work “Gethsemane” called univocal, the same for all who correctly perceive that which comes to us unchanged by way of the Holy Spirit and which is only passed down by the Church quasi per manus, almost as if by hand (for it is done by the Holy Spirit), as we read in the glorious first decree of the fourth session of the sacrosanct Council of Trent on 8 April 1546.

Diversely, directed Rorschach projection is just so boring. You’re not allowed not to see anything but the very thing the examiner wants you to see, delegitimizing, of course, their attempts to figure out their place in the universe with their willing guinea-pigs. The various categories of answers, and put to statistics, even with conversational follow-up, cannot but skew results. Much better just the unrepeatable circumstances with conversational follow up. Pigeonholing simply makes for a quick and easy diagnosis with generalized statements at which one throws money. Anyway, I never did this. I would, however, discuss at length methodology with the psych students at the Gregorian.

At any rate, don’t hug a tree. Instead, accompany Ents stomping on untowardness:

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Nothing is as it seems: seen on my road

img_20170302_034557When driving up to Holy Souls Hermitage on a many-miles-long one-lane, no-fault road straight up the mountain, I saw this flag hanging about 25 feet up. I understand that some who are not from here have some historical appreciation of General Lee, blah blah blah. Around here this flag hardly means more than death to anyone black. Racism is one of the things which makes me really quite angry. Yet, I laughed out loud the second I saw this flag as I knew immediately the intent was fraudulent, at least to a degree. Yes, it’s true that this is perhaps the most violent road with the most murders in Western North Carolina (which is saying really a lot). Yes, I really think it’s true that any black man might well not make it out alive if seen anywhere on this road, with the murderer forgetting about it seconds later. Nevertheless, it seems that a pact with LA’s Crips and Bloods was made on this very road, perhaps not far from this flag, at least that is what I was told by a friend, the lead negotiator, all of which was cautiously confirmed to me, three times, by the head of the local law enforcement. The flag is simply a smokescreen screaming “We’re racist here, and we will kill you.” The reality seems to be that far reaching drug deals can be made freely with anyone black, as it would never be dreamed, it is thought, that anyone black could ever possibly be on this road. Clever.

Having said all that, being white helps on this road. I wouldn’t want to be black and alone here. If a vehicle stops in front of you and one stops behind you, with a cliff to the one side and a ravine on the other, and the road only one car-width wide, there’s simply no place to go. Being a white boy myself, I never much feared driving on this road, even though one – how to say it? – “white trash” boy tried a number of times to ram my vehicle into the ravine. I can pretty much take care of myself.

But hey! I’m still waiting for my AncestryDNA results. It’s now been six weeks so I should know in the next few weeks where I come from. I can guess that there will be percentages from Scotland/Northern England; from Germany, from Poland. But, just for the sake of political correctness[!], I’m hoping for something from Africa as well. I mean, if that’s the case, I think I would advertise that on the back of my vehicle: I’m a Catholic priest, and Jewish, and Black, all at once, though I look to be 100% white boy. Wouldn’t that be a hoot in WNC? I wonder what the KKK grand dragon wizard guy, whatever they call him, down the road would think of that. I wonder if he would submit to a DNA test to see if he’s got any African background in him. :¬)

Nothing is as it seems. We’re all children of God. We’ve all crucified the Son of the Living God. He’s redeemed us all. None of us of ourselves are better than anyone else. We’re not against each other. We’re against the fallen angels. It doesn’t seem that way at first glance, but we’re actually not our own saviors. It’s all about Jesus. He’s the One. We just need to help each other get to know Him better, regardless of the unrepeatable circumstances whence we are called by the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception.

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Gunslinger priests: on consecrated canonical digits vs trigger fingers

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A reader recently asked:

“Not to belabor it, but, did I miss the column where you explain why you (1) feel you need to carry a gun? (2) Don’t the same fingers that hold the Host, hold the trigger?”

(1) “Feel the need.” That’s a strange statement. If anyone carries a gun because of feelings, they should not, must not carry a gun. That’s the definition of psychosis. You’re right to rebel against that, but wrong to put that on anyone who does carry. Feelings are not the reason a sane person carries a gun. Not everyone who carries a gun is psychotic.

At any rate, I have many reasons (forget feelings) why I carry a “carry permit” in my wallet.

  • Is it that I have, in fact, been shot at and had a gun held menacingly in my direction many times in my life, throughout my life? No, that wouldn’t be it. I really couldn’t care less. I’ve lived this long, right?
  • Is it that I’ve had quite a lot of contact with “successful” terrorists these past decades? No, that’s not it either. A gun wouldn’t have been a help or been used in any of the situations in which I’ve been. Well, in one or two situations… Anyway, that’s hypothetical as I didn’t have a gun and I lived to tell the tale, right?
  • Is it perhaps that I have a background that is interesting enough for the State Department to issue me a false passport for my protection, and then put a perpetual protection order out on my behalf? Nope, not that at all. After all, they’re helping me, right?
  • It is that I think I will certainly run into a bad situation in which I wish I had a gun, you know, like Father Kenneth Walker? Certainly not. I mean, most law enforcement officers go their entire careers without ever even once taking their guns out of their holsters except for re-qualification at the target range. It could happen, but…
  • It is that I often am to be found on the most violent roads in Western North Carolina where I’ve faced deadly situations a half-dozen times already? Definitely not it. Those were all once-off incidents.

So, what is it then?

  • Is it that I want to be available for any contingency in which doing this would be helpful for the defense of the innocent when the police are only minutes away? Yes, that’s a reason, as this is always a positive contribution to the virtue of justice.
  • Is it that my legs, a bit crippley, are too unstable to do what young Francesco Possenti (Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows) did in stealing guns from the arsonist / rapists invading his village? Convenience can also be a reason to carry a carry permit.
  • Is it that to be a chaplain for the police in some parts of this diocese one has to go through the FBI course which includes getting trained up in weapons? Yes, that’s a reason. I would say it’s the reason.

(2) “The same fingers.” An attempt at helpful, glorious irony? Or simply a non-sequitur if I ever saw one? Here’s the deal: a positive contribution to the virtue of justice by way of our Lord laying down His life, standing in our stead, taking on what we deserve for our sin so as to have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us is not contradictory to a positive contribution to the virtue of justice by way of defense of the innocent. Justice is justice and one is not to offer some sort of apology for justice.

Stepping up like this will, of course, lay one wide open to getting killed. I don’t see this as contradictory to the statement of Jesus that laying down one’s life for one’s friends is the greatest act of love.

It’s true! I’m not a LEO and I’m not in the military. I’m just a mere citizen. Ah, but that’s the answer, isn’t it?

Just to say: most priests I know have carry permits. Yes, most priests I know are both on the younger and more conservative side of things. But I’ll add a story about perhaps the most liberal priest in this diocese who would throw out LEOs if they came to Mass in uniform, including a full duty belt. Really. He would stop Mass and make a scene until they left. I guess that was a ploy to look liberal, you know, to get praise from the liberal crowd. That priest, mind you, carries a gun himself. I smiled a wry smile when I found that out.

Back to feelings… What if – God forbid – I shoot someone in the justifiable defense of innocent human life? Could I go ahead and consecrate the Body and Blood of our Lord with the same fingers that held the gun and pulled the trigger? Why not? Would feelings be quite overwhelming about having taken someone’s life? Maybe. Even probably. But that’s an occasion to be introduced more deeply to the Sacred Mysteries. Our fallen human nature tends to obfuscate in fear of the deadly seriousness of Jesus’ love for us. But that must be overcome in His grace.

Canon law forbids a man to be ordained a priest if he has ever murdered anyone, perhaps forgetting about Saul (later Saint Paul) and Saint Stephen. But killing is not necessarily murder. Also, shooting is not necessarily killing, as you never shoot to kill. You shoot to stop the threat. I’m sure there are many “Buts” to be answered. It’s a discussion worth having. Am I upset with the question? No. Not at all. There has to be a way to begin the discussion. Distinctions are to be made. We learn together.

Look, no one ever wants to pull a trigger. But there are certain prosecutorial tricks used to convict someone, but none of them are true:

  • You have personal defense rounds which stop in the person you’re shooting, meaning you intended to kill, wanted to kill. /// No, that’s not true. You simply don’t want the round to go through the perp, wounding but not stopping, and then through an innocent bystander, and another and another, as can happen with full metal jacket.
  • You had a trigger job done, meaning you intended to kill, wanted to kill. /// No, that’s not true. You simply want to be as accurate and quick as possible in order to save lives. That’s what it’s all about.
  • You do target practice a lot, meaning you intended to kill, wanted to kill. /// No, that’s not true. You simply want to be ready to face serious untowardness appropriately, knowing well the tool you have to bring deadly imminent threats to naught.
  • You carry a gun because of feelings, whatever they are for whatever reason they are there, and the conclusion must be that you intended to kill, wanted to kill. /// No, that’s not true. See above… etc. etc. etc.

Now, having said all that, my joy in life is not to carry a gun. Instead:

  • My joy in life is to use my consecrated hands to consecrate the Most Holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus, gracious as He is to this sinner.
  • My joy in life is to use my consecrated hands to absolve sins in the confessional, or out of it for that matter, though I am not as joyful then as I am when I myself am absolved from my own sins.
  • My joy in life is to use my consecrated hands to pick flowers and give them to the Immaculate Conception: it’s what Jesus would have me do always in all circumstances. And we don’t need consecrated hands for that. More on that joy in another post. But for now…

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On being a good son of the Church

Jesus crucified passion of the christ

Jesus not playing politics. Crux stat dum volvitur orbis.

Recently I published a post entitled Father Byers’ run for political office? In that post I tried to make a good argument for dabbling in politics as a priest, befuddling both left and right. Just smacking people down to make ourselves look better than “them” does not draw those in the peripheries to take note of the pastoral wisdom of the Church.

Did not Jesus redeem us all? Does He not want that we also be saved? Were we not all in the peripheries of left and right until we assented to allow ourselves to be drawn by Him to the Cross when He was lifted up to that great height? Can we do that if we pretend that we’ve never ever been on the peripheries, that He never had to forgive us, that we were always correct even as we crucified Him?

What does a good son of the Church say? He says “Jesus have mercy on me, a sinner.”

 

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (entrenched with dog-tags in the field hospital of the Church edition)

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Gardeners usually leave the dog tags and hospital wrist bands on their roses so that they know what they are as the years go by, so many dozens of bushes do they have. I have just one that a reader sent in just now, so, I figured removing the tags would be O.K.

After soaking the roots for a couple of days, and after Communion Calls yesterday, with just minutes left to sunset, I borrowed a shovel from a neighbor who also gave me some miracle grow soil to put under the roots. As night fell wood shavings meant for Laudie-dog were piled around the transplant-shocked rose “sticks” to protect it from frost and drying out. Someone wondered what the flowers will look like. Behold:

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The neighbors also gave me some chemical fertilizer set for a three month time release program. But here is where I always fail as a gardener. It’s either too much or too little fertilizer, burning the plant or starving it. Luckily, some Floridians with garden know-how will be coming back for the Summer after another month or two when the roots are starting to get a good hold. Some field hospital work will be necessary I’m sure.

And if you want my opinion, I’ll give it to you: One of the best ways to heal wounds of being away for a long long time from the Church is to give a flower to the Immaculate Conception. Every field hospital ought to encourage this method of healing. This is the truth. The Church is about the Holy Family. Such a simple action cannot but put one back onto the right way. It’s so easy to dismiss, isn’t it, as pious piffle, no? That’s because people are afraid of this most effective medicine, scared to death, scared that this will change their lives, scared to be healed. “Not now! We’re scared to give Mary a flower!” they scream as they run away into the psych ward of the field hospital. But, don’t be afraid. Jesus’ good mom will help you. She helped me. And I’m a most sorry case. It’s a joy to give a flower to the Immaculate Conception.

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Solum Facilis die fuit heri – Sealing it!

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Solum Facilis die fuit heri. The only easy day was yesterday. – A Navy Seal motto…

Some think to get a bit of hope by things becoming easier. The Navy Seals get hope by having tougher days, as the tougher days are the only ones by which one can be challenged to excel all the more in the service of all.

There’s a spiritual analogy here… no? What think you?

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Update: The arrest: dozens of counts

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Example of resisting arrest.

Got him! Ha ha! Dozens of counts. This is not to rejoice in the downfall of another human being, but to breathe a sign of relief that an alleged most violent enemy of a close friend of mine is now out of the way of causing alleged harm.

I imagine these dozens of counts will be used in a plea deal for a downgraded charge regarding an alleged most violent crime for which he is not yet indicted. But the years he may serve in prison would be a welcome reprieve for this close friend of mine. Great!

O.K. Time to move on to the extradition. I would volunteer to be deputized to do the transfer. No charge, not even for expenses. It would take me only four days. 1 1/2 to get there. 1 to do paperwork. 1 1/2 to drive him to his holding cell. No stopping on the way. I would spend the time getting a secular confession and convincing him to plead guilty. Of course, as a priest, I would also try to get him to be contrite before his Maker, and, if he’s a Catholic, after all the other recorded confessions made with no coercion, I would hear his sacramental confession if I could convince him to do that. But, no chance of all that as I’m too close to the case. I wonder if he’ll be able to keep himself alive until trial. I doubt if he’ll get bail as he’s the riskiest of all flight risks with properties around the world and extreme know-how.

got-himHe’s known by the prisoners where he’s headed if convicted. I can’t imagine he wouldn’t be killed within minutes of being in contact with any other prisoner whatsoever at any given time for years to come. They will be waiting for him constantly. The prison will be electrified until he’s dead. There are always opportunities for murder: hospital visits, etc. Some lifers don’t care if they murder someone right in front of God and everybody. This is a score that they are well prepared to fulfill. The cheering will be deafening when he’s bleeding out. Sorry to be so graphic, but this is the world in which we live.

I’m stunned at this arrest, as is my close friend. It’s like… Wow… !!! … Just… Wow… !!! …

 

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (Water bucketing preparation edition)

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Two full days of waterboarding the roots of what looks to be a mere bundle of dead sticks. A dear reader sent in these sticks with a promise that all would be well. I can’t imagine. Not having a green thumb, I put them in a green bucket. That’ll make all O.K.!

It seems like the beginning of Spring here. This is next to Mary’s statue at the rectory:

flower-tree

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Update: Father Byers’ run for political office?

just me 02Inspiration: My dad was commander of the famed USMC Fighter Attack Checkerboard squadron (flying the gull-wing Corsairs from 1943-1953), became whatever the jarhead equivalent of a JAG is by being put through Georgetown lawschool even while being the back-in-the-day equivalent of what is now called a Top Gun instructor at what is now Andrews (Air Force) Joint Command just South of the District of Columbia. He became the most powerful attorney in Central Minnesota, did some lobbying stints at the legislature, knew all the big name politicians, became Mayor of our town of @50,000, and had his sights on more encompassing offices in D.C. Meanwhile, he became father of my brother and myself, which I’m guessing distracted him quite a bit.

I asked him once why he wanted to be an attorney and a politician, and he said without hesitation (surprised at the question, stunned really), with all of his idealism shining out: “Because that’s my vocation, to help people. I want to help people. This is how I help people.” And, yes, he did quite a lot of pro-bono work, having deep respect, to the core, for salt-of-the-earth Americans who just want to do the right thing.

He very much wanted me to follow in his steps. We discussed that many times as he drove me to school on his way to work. My response was, of course, about the priesthood, and I would cite his own words back to him, and then wax poetic: “Because that’s my vocation, to help people. I want to help people. This is how I’m to help people……” He was wanting to start me off as a high school Page in the legislature. I can’t imagine what would have happened had I gone that direction.

Priests in politics are generally a catastrophe. Just recall a few: Jean-Bertrand Aristide (Haiti), Robert Drinan (USA), Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann (Nicaragua / Libya) along with both Ernesto and Fernando Cardinal (Nicaragua). They were president, in congress, worked as foreign minister or ministers of the interior and of culture, etc. D’Escoto was a particular problem for me personally when I was in Nicaragua back in the Reagan years.

As for me, there is presently a push for me to be elected as Alderman of Andrews with its 1,700 population. O.K., nothing like those other priests on so very many levels! Ha ha ha! And don’t forget, I was one of the best students ever of Father of Liberation Theology, Gustavo Gutiérrez (now O.P.). Honestly!

But, seriously, there are far reaching, deep problems here in Andrews which are suffocating (purposely?) the town literally right out of existence, and sometimes a quiet voice interested in law and order and jobs and getting stuff for kids to do instead of drugs and wanting infrastructure for basic utilities like water and services like proper local law enforcement and fire-fighting can be helpful. And sometimes a foreigner (I wasn’t born here) can in fact be helpful as he is not beholden to feuding and the good ol’ boys’ club that might well protect, fiercely, the drug world and all sorts of corruption. Seriously.

But, what does the Code of Canon Law say?

Can. 285 §1. Clerics are to refrain completely from all those things which are unbecoming to their state, according to the prescripts of particular law. [For instance, being a dealer for blackjack at the local casino.]

§2. Clerics are to avoid those things which, although not unbecoming, are nevertheless foreign to the clerical state. [An arguable point, as some political offices are rendered out of service, or that’s at least a possibility, right?]

§3. Clerics are forbidden to assume public offices [This is pretty absolute, but there is some backtracking about the scope:] which entail a participation in the exercise of civil power. [And this is a question for an alderman whose job descriptions in various municipalities or districts thereof are as different as one grain of sand is from another. Is an alderman specifically of Andrews, who, unlike other civilians, has a vote at town meetings, and who is representing the best interests of residents… is he per se EXERCISING civil power by a vote that is quite removed from the actual execution of a resolution, the who, what, why, where, when and how, which is instead brought to bear not at all by aldermen, but by the Mayor, by the City Manager, etc.? In other words, is there not a distinction between public office and the “participation in the exercise of civil power”? Otherwise, why bother, in the law itself, with adding a clause which does in fact make a distinction between public office and “participation in the exercise of civil power” unless there is such a distinction recognized by the legislator. Diversely, all public office by its nature is a participation in the exercise of civil power on some level, or that public office would not exist in the first place. There is a distinction, then, about the immediacy of the impact of the public office on any exercise of civil power, so that a more remote action, such as a vote, is permissible and even perhaps becoming of the clerical state depending on the service involved for the common good, while a more immediate practical day to day application is what is forbidden by this sub-paragraph.]

§4. Without the permission of their ordinary, they are not to take on the management of goods belonging to lay persons or secular offices which entail an obligation of rendering accounts. [But permission is in fact a possibility so possible that it is placed in the law itself.] They are prohibited from giving surety even with their own goods without consultation with their proper ordinary. They also are to refrain from signing promissory notes, namely, those through which they assume an obligation to make payment on demand.

By the way, just to say, for those who don’t know what an example of the Good Ol’ Boys club might be, here is an example: a statute that prohibits residents from running for office or getting a job with law enforcement if they are not “lifers”, that is, born here. Imagine the law suits on that one! And the results! “We do things our own way ’round here!” Etc.

I don’t need a membership to validate
The hard work I put in and the dues I paid
Never been to good at just goin’ along
I guess I’ve always kind of been for the underdog

Favors for friends will get you in and get you far
Shouldn’t be about who it is you know
But about how good you are

Don’t wanna be a part of the good ol’ boys club
Cigars and handshakes, appreciate you but no thanks
Another gear in a big machine don’t sound like fun to me
Don’t wanna be a part of the good ol’ boys club

There’s a million ways to dream and that’s just fine
Oh but I ain’t losin’ any sleep at night
And if I end up goin’ down in flames
Well at least I know I did it my own way, hey

Don’t wanna be a part of the good ol’ boys club
Cigars and handshakes, appreciate you but no thanks
Another gear in a big machine don’t sound like fun to me
Don’t wanna be a part of the good ol’ boys club

Favors for friends will get you in and get you far
But when did it become about who you know
And not about how good you are?

Don’t wanna be a part of the good ol’ boys club
Cigars and handshakes, appreciate you but no thanks
Another gear in a big machine don’t sound like fun to me
Don’t wanna be a part of the good ol’ boys club
I don’t wanna be a part of your good ol’ boys club

Just to say, being an Alderman for this tiny town hardly takes away from my priestly duties. In fact, I think it facilitates some of my objectives which I share with our police chief regarding community leaders finding ways to get us out of the quagmire we are in.

Any canon lawyer out there who is willing to take a stab at this? Be nice! I know I’m ignorant and that’s why I’m asking for help. Isn’t that a good thing that I’m wanting to follow the codified summary of the pastoral wisdom of the Church distilled from millennia worth of countless events? Whatever you think are my motives, don’t think I’m wanting to run for public office or not. That’s actually not my point. I’m wanting to know this for a multitude of reasons, and this is just one more thing that finally pushed me into investigating this aspect of the Church’s jurisprudence. Can you help?

UPDATE: O.K. So, that would be a NO! vote from one of the best canon lawyers in this dark world of ours. Absolutely not, he said. He even went so far as to say that being an Alderman for this itsy bitsy village would be an impediment to Holy Orders if I wasn’t already ordained. I’m slowly backing away away from the situation and then turning and running so fast I’m outrunning gamma rays. Having said all that, it’s nice to know you’re wanted. There was a bit of a powwow last night at a brewery with some of the local best of the best good guys representing all the first responders and even the office of the […edited…] doing their best to convince me to go ahead and see if this would be possible.

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A day in the death at the Holy See. Chilling chat with a string puller.

It’s well over a year now that 34 year old Miriam Woldu of Eritrea, “Front of House” receptionist at the Pope’s residence of Santa Marta, was assassinated with her baby in her womb. Intense culpable homicide investigations began after the autopsy and examination of her medical supplies. After. The deaths were a shot over the bow. All never to be heard from again.

Hey! “The Vote” in Italy went as planned with highly publicized negligence on the part of the Holy See and Italian hierarchy to provide any direction. There were plenty of sycophantic exclamations like: “We never said anything and so we are nice and so be nice to us, please!” We pray for her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed.

I have to wonder if she’s the (at the time) young lady our intelligence community bragged to me about finding (to see if I knew her?), someone who could remember every face years later even though only glimpsed once, able to give accurate descriptions about associated times and places. You don’t get “Front of House” for the leader of 1.3 billion people without being a most extraordinary individual. And yet some of the media conjectured she was just a stupid girl from a third world country and couldn’t possibly know how to manage her medical supplies. One of our readers, whose comment I did not publish, but who has a (malicious?) penchant for mocking anything but extreme naivete cleverly agreed with that bit of racism if I recall correctly. Anyway…

This comes to mind again after a chat I had the other day with someone all too interested in everything to do with replacing the one I think facilitated, set up the assassination. The facilitator, who I knew very well, was there for years, under orders, and had personal motives, ample opportunity and all logistics clicking into place, and exactly the right time with the message all too clear. I mean, I knew who trained him, who assigned him, and all his daily activities. He’s now “dead” and entirely removed from Italy. The fellow I had a chat with the other day has the string-pulling ability to replace the now removed facilitator guy with another like minded fellow, regardless of who took his place some few years ago. It was a bit of a chilling conversation. The perception is that it’s just all too easy as so many of the people in place in the Holy See are so entirely able to be manipulated.

Some higher-ups in our DoD well understand that I am rightly concerned for the safety of the Holy Father even while they correctly acknowledge my patriotism regarding these USA and my support of the CIA and State Department generally speaking. Many of them, who have spent lifetimes in the Military at the Pentagon and loaned out to the CIA (high ranking guys) warn me about my interfering to the point of my outing an agent, speaking of the usual penalty for doing so, and yet at the same time again praise my loyalty to the Holy Father and my patriotism of these USA as being understandable.

So, O.K. I’ll run some interference already this morning.

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Filed under Holy See, Intelligence Community, Pope Francis

Tender snowflakes melting down want to validly, forcibly depose Pope Francis precisely as Bishop of Rome

dung snow

It ain’t gonna happen. It can’t happen. That’s not how it works. Anyone who thinks the contrary, anathema sit, as that’s straight out and out heresy. Traditional-ism-ists, that is, as personifiers of ideology, can be heretics like any others. I remember a certain seminary back in the day citing Hans Küng of all people to justify their irregular situation in the Church. Sometimes opposites attract, right?

If a Pope can be deposed for what he himself says is a non-Magisterial contribution to a dialogue, a contribution held by some to be outrageous (whether it is or not being beside the point), that means that any Pope for any reason can also be deposed by people who make up the rules as they go along (what they call constitutionalism: note the “-ism). Thus, in that view, a Pope such as Pius V or Pius X could also be deposed for personally being saints and for speaking clearly and rightly to the whole Church.

Also, in that case, and this is the point, such is the Protestant mis-exegesis of Matthew 16. The Rebels say that Jesus founded the papacy on Peter’s faith, not on his person. The Catholic doctrine is that Jesus founded the papacy on Peter.

I suggest to the tender snowflakes that they stop cowering before their own hurt emotions, grow up, and do something helpful to bring about a good situation for the salvation of souls. But this bit about deposing the Pope because their feelings are hurt is not helpful. It just reveals something under the snow.

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Filed under Amoris laetitia, Canon 915, Pope Francis

Mother Xavier McMonagle, OSB: Conference for priests about a priest

  1. The life and the person of an outstanding priest who befriended the Tyburns.
  2. The Eucharist as the source, sublime divine unique prototype of all reality which we all live and experience today.
  3. How do you know which priests are really holy? Watch them at Holy Mass!
  4. The sudden death of a priest…

Father Daniel sounds like a really good priest who always wanted to share the greatest love of his life, Jesus, the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception. From the description here, I wish I were half the priest he was, as I would then be much better of a priest than I am now. A goal! ;-)

There will be, I know, a wide variety of impressions about this priest via the pictures of him shown in the video during the conference of Mother Xavier. So, I would say this:

  • Note what Mother Xavier holds to be important.
  • Note what the fruits of his ministry were: Vocations.
  • Note that the Tyburn nuns have made it their project to help priests and pray for priests, and that, because of this most impossible of all good works upon the face of this earth, they are eager to rejoice with the angels over any priest who believes in and loves Jesus. Father Daniel surely did. I would love for that to be said about me when I am called to leave this world.

May the soul of Father Daniel and the souls of all faithful departed priests, rest in peace. Amen.

Prayer for Priests (given by Marie Adèle Garnier to her spiritual daughters)

O my Divine Jesus, You are not only the Supreme Pastor but also the Life of the Pastors of Holy Church, breathe again upon the soul of each of them as You did upon Your Apostles.
Renew in them all the gifts and graces that you lavished on their souls on the day of their Ordination.

Make their hearts unsullied tabernacles where Your Spirit of Love may ever dwell.

Illumine their minds with the light of Your Divine word, that they may be able to illumine those who sit in darkness, and to guide into the right path the souls confided to their care.
Strengthen their whole being by Your Divine Power that they may conquer all their foes, seen and unseen.

Beloved Jesus, gentle, patient Lamb of God, make their life like the life You led on earth.
Divine Spirit, influence their every thought, word and action; take possession of their minds and hearts so that they live in You and You live in them.

Holy Mary, defend and protect them, each and all, under your mantle. Keep them close to you until Jesus calls them to the reward He has prepared for them in eternity. Amen.

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Father Byers: Thank you Nikki Haley! “USA! USA!” and “US-UN! US-UN!”

All of a sudden America is no longer a puppet for Islam.

I love that. I could have written that speech.

Disclaimers: I’m a Catholic priest, and I’m also Jewish, you know, mom, grandma, great-grand-ma… enough for me to be a Knesset qualified Israeli. I’ve lived in Israel. Been there multiple times. I have friends there. Contacts. Dare I say המוסד has always been really good to me. I think Israel has a right to defend itself, has a right to security, has a right not to be obliterated by Iran or others. Moreover, “Salvation is from the Jews,” said Jesus. And Paul:

They are Israelites; theirs the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; theirs the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, is the Messiah. God who is over all be blessed forever. Amen.

Disclaimers: I also deplore unjust actions meant to antagonize, and I saw really a lot of that while living in Israel and spending really a lot of time all over the West Bank, far North to deep South, West to way to the fence on the East. I raised my voice about injustices to the consternation of many others. Economic slavery only brings frustration and anger and… revenge. There are a million little anecdotes that I heard from friends, but those add up to make a culture, a policy. Also, just to say, anecdotally, a Palestinian man saved me from getting shot by wild IDF gun-fire (spraying bullets just to do it, or perhaps a bit directed). Another saved me from abduction. Another very dramatically stopped me from getting killed. Ironically, it was while I was attending a university in the occupied West Bank that I noted just about half of the student body also wanted peace by way justice, so, I’m not alone in that. I would like to see it be easier for priests and nuns to renew their visas so as to work in the clinics and schools and orphanages that no one else takes care of. I condemn what comes down to a forced removal of Catholics from the West Bank to anywhere else in the world, as the former Patriarch had warned was happening in one of his pastoral letters.

Having said all that: Thank you, Nikki Haley. What you said had to be said. Utterly reasonable. Keep up the good work. I had to laugh out loud at your rambunctious and repeated statement: “US-UN”! Hah! That should be a new chant at all South Carolina sporting events along with “USA! USA!” Let’s shout: “US-UN! US-UN!” Hah! What a great day brightener.

img_20170222_073706Totally off topic (and I ask forgiveness in advance… I put these things up for a reason…). After my sacramental visits on my day off yesterday (some hundreds of miles), bringing Holy Communion, Anointing the sick, and other sacraments, I was able to get off a clip or two from the Glock. It’s been a while. This is really the first time that, instead of aiming so much, I was concentrating on the basics (as I’m a complete beginner), so that with now abandoned Israeli-carry, I was practicing drawing from the holster hot. This is what I did with the bottom corner of a moldy folder from the hermitage (which is still there I’m happy to say). That folder was the only target I had to use. I was aiming to the upper right side of that pattern, so I’m still a bit South and to the left. But still pretty good I thought for this activity.

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Filed under Jewish-Catholic dialogue, Military, Politics, Terrorism, המוסד

+Scicluna spikes seminarians’ terror

scicluna

The Archbishop of Malta told his seminarians to leave the seminary if they disagree with his own wild interpretation of chapter 8 of Amoris laetitia, which Pope Francis describes instead as a mere contribution to dialogue that has nothing to do with any magisterial intervention. To viciously smash down Jesus’ vocations based on a diverse contribution to dialogue is… well… let’s just say I wouldn’t want that on me going to the judgment before Jesus who called those young men to be His priests. All this while the priests of Malta are being bullied without mercy. Here.

To those seminarians in Malta I say: Just be faithful. Always in everything. This is about respect for Jesus. You are called to be faithful to Him before you are called to be priests by Him. If Jesus wants you to be a priest, He will make it happen. But you be faithful. Those kicking Jesus in the face think they have power because they are not yet killed by the holy angels of the Most High while they continue to kick Jesus in the face. But don’t agree with them. They have no power. Jesus took on the worst onslaught of hell when all His apostles ran away from Calvary. Stay with Jesus. Don’t compromise, ever. The Love Who is Living Truth is the Way. Don’t be afraid. No terror allowed! Rejoice and be glad. Read the beatitudes… to each other… support each other…

To +Charles: This is your moment, friend. That’s all you get. Happy?

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Filed under Amoris laetitia, Vocations

Spiking terror just down the way

spike

One of our popular walking trails just down the way from the parish, where a bunch of us priests went hiking one beautiful afternoon of the diocesan retreat some time ago, was booby-trapped with many dozens of hidden spikes impaling the feet of hikers. The path was closed and a team of metal detector guys was sent out. As of this writing, about 40 spikes have been found along 18 miles of trails being investigated.

I could understand that some kid getting horrifically smacked down at home might, in a psychotic episode of rebellion, set one or even a few spikes, all in a blur. But not dozens. That demonstrates forethought and a malice that is not in reaction but on the attack. I don’t think it is just some meanie meanie knucklehead. We did have arsonists go out to set the forest this past Summer. But that was easy. You light a match and walk away. But to set spikes to be invisible as in the picture of one of the spikes above takes a huge amount of energy just for one. This is not just a case of the meanie meanies. You prepare these spiked branches beforehand, then make multiple trips on the trail with a few at a time, digging them into the ground and then making the ground look undisturbed. I mean, this is not the work of a druggie on drugs, as the drug effect would wear off long before setting even a small number of the spikes. Moreover, there are so many set so quickly that this is not just one person, but a fairly large group. And to hide something right in front of someone’s eyes takes a great deal of attention to detail that druggies even good moments simply do not have.

Outside of the casinos, the economic salvation of far Western North Carolina is the tremendous natural beauty of these highest of mountains in the eastern United States. Smoky Mountain National Park is the most heavily visited of all National Parks in these United States.

We’ve had an actual terrorist incident at a local high school a while back, where one kid was planning a horrific attack but was discovered before being able to put it into action for ISIS. Even here. Incredible. I guess even we, in the remotest of places, are not so remote that terrorism cannot reach us. But people are in denial. Typical comments are about people just not being nice anymore. “Not nice.”

landmineBut maybe I’m just shell shocked by having been to many violent places right around the world. Maybe I’ve talked with too many people who have suffered the fate of landmines and this triggers a response in me. There are places where there are literally millions of landmines with the local populace still being blown to bits decades after they have been set. It’s not all about mental health or giving people a job they don’t want. Evil is real. Do we want to share the greatest love of our lives, Jesus? Yes. Some people don’t want to know this love. We don’t give up on them, but we do take in the reality of what is happening.

Could this just be a sick kid. Perhaps. At any rate, have situational awareness. I’ve said before that an important method of situational awareness is to calmly note ways of diffusing any possible situation. I would add that another important element of situational awareness is the famous: “If you see something, say something.”

Example: As I recounted in another post, for all I say about situational awareness, I must confess that I was caught totally off guard while sitting in the office of the local law enforcement to have a chat about the executive order on immigration when a guy came in brandishing his weapon in my direction. The unexpected does happen. Did I expect that? No. Did hikers expect spikes? No.

Can you think of an analogy for the spiritual life?

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“I’m tired of Father George”

“That’s it. That’s all we have to say.”

Imagine if Jesus said that about any of us.

We all crucified Him with our sin, original sin and our own rubbish.

I’m thankful He hasn’t given up on me. With Him, I don’t want to give up on anyone else.

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Filed under Missionaries of Mercy

O Angel of God, I’m such a coward!

guardian angel

Some quick points:

chiffon-angel

We get nervous about angels and rush to be dismissive about them, you know, with the fluffy chiffon pastel crafty thingies you see around Christmas time, or the fat-faced cherubim with wings coming out of the back of their heads in baroque architecture, or with naked infants in Renaissance paintings, or as demon-like transformer-like monsters in children’s computer games.

jeannieWe can even go out of our way to be cute about the presentation of angels in such monstrosities as we see with the Islamic presentation of jinn, who can be good or truly evil (such a perversion of the Judeo-Catholic Scriptures!) and which the West presents ever so weirdly as “I Dream of Jeannie.” Up to date silliness includes angels as dolphins, and on and on and on, pretty much anything but anything like what they may be like. Although there are representations which are a bit more respectful, such as that in the Annunciation by Fra Angelico.

annunciation-fra-angelico

  • You’ll remember when the angel visited the Fatima children, how Lucia later described this (I paraphrase) as the weight of the glory of God, an experience of glorious manifestation of justice.
  • We do have angel guardians. Does Jesus not say that they see the face of God in heaven?
  • Just because they have the beatific vision does not mean that they do not see us. How could they guard us if they do not see us?
  • Angels, who have not become incarnate as has the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, cannot forgive us (as we read in Exodus, which warns us therefore not to offend them), for they cannot have the right in justice to forgive us as they cannot take our place for the punishment of sin as did Jesus on the Cross.
  • Angels respect the forgiveness Jesus commands of His Heavenly Father after having obeyed the Father to stand in our place, having become incarnate: “Father, forgive them!”
  • Angels rejoice in heaven over the conversion of a sinner with very great rejoicing indeed; they are in awe of Divine Mercy.
  • Angels want us to be in humble thanksgiving before Jesus, walking in His presence, and do all they can to assist us to that end, whatever it takes, their guardianship not necessarily to protect us from physical or emotional harm unless that would also be to our benefit or that of others.
  • You’ll remember when the angel visited Daniel in the Hebrew Scriptures and John in the Apocalypse; Daniel and John both face-planted, prostrate, as if dead. The presence of angels is powerful indeed.
  • Angels are well capable of smacking us down or in letting us be smacked down if that’s what it takes for us to get pointed to heaven. They know how to work with us afterward. They’ve been doing this a long time. And they’re really smart. Yet, of course, we still pray: “Ever this day be at my side to […] guard […]”
  • We can ask our guardian angels to assist us in coming to have proper reverence before Jesus. If we ask this of them, they will make it happen if we follow their inspirations. They may have to go way out of their way to make us pay attention. Just be aware of that. Don’t run away if you make that prayer. They will take it seriously. You will be brought to your knees one way or the other. And that’s a good thing, right? Just remember this: respect your guardian angel! Here’s the prayer:

Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here, ever this day, be at my side to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.

  • I’ve had lots of seminarians over the decades tell me ever so stupidly that that is an insipidly saccharine prayer. I fear for them. They will be smacked down hard. Will they run away as the cowards they were at the time they said such a thing? If we are asking such majestic persons to be at our side, they who see the face of God in heaven, a presence which would crush us, we are asking a great deal, no? If we are asking to be enlightened by them who see Truth in the Face, are we not asking to see ourselves as we are before God, we whose sins crucified the Son of the Living God, and will so much truth not crush us if our guardian angels do not take account of our weakness and cowardice? Are we not asking primarily that our souls be guarded so that our angels do “whatever it takes” to make sure that we are on the right path, and is that saccharine, knowing that that kind of guarding could well have us horrifically smacked down? And if we are asking to be guided, is this not admitting, finally, that we are out of control without their guidance, and that such is the speaking of truth as we never have before? And these were seminarians, mind you, some few, but they were in fact in the seminary. What about us? Do we also run away from such a frightful prayer by being arrogantly dismissive of it, you know, because we’re ever so sophisticated and up-to-date? Let’s try it again, and mean it:

Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here, ever this day, be at my side to light and guard, to rule and guide.

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What happens when law enforcement officers call on Saint Michael?

saint Michael carries police officer to heaven

Some quick points:

  • For whatever we think about choosing this or that patron saint on whom to lean especially when the going gets tough, the reality is more about whatever saint, human or angelic, who picks us up as a special project.
  • That patron saint isn’t at all interested in helping us avoid this or that circumstance that we don’t particularly like, because what’s important to them is that we learn to look to our Lord in loving trust in whatever situation, they perhaps having suffered through precisely what we would rather avoid, and, to say it honestly, what we would rather avoid so as not to have any deeper loving trust in Mary’s Divine Son, you know, because that would cost us having to stop depending so much on ourselves, on our make-pretend control of whatever in our lives.
  • Thus, while Saint Damian the leper might intercede with God for a cure of someone’s leprosy, if that does the person or those around that leper some spiritual good, the saint is much more interested in having the person look to our Lord in humble thanksgiving no matter what, no matter how bad the leprosy gets, and so perhaps bringing many more to heaven because of such a serene faith in adverse conditions.
  • Thus, when LEOs call on Saint Michael the Archangel, warrior for the cause of right that he is, such a magnificent spiritual being might well not help the LEO to avoid injury or death, wanting instead, in view of eternal life, that the officer look to our Lord in such pain and suffering, perhaps in the last moments of life, to that, aimed at heaven at their passing, they might enter into their eternal reward. After all, it does take some of us going through catastrophic events to have us finally turn to the Lord in deep sincerity. For the angels in our regard, it’s all about “whatever it takes.”
  • Having said that, yes, of course, all the saints, angelic and human, are filled with God’s own love, and they will hear our petitions such as “Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle!” And, if it be for our benefit or that of others, if it be according to God’s will, they will certainly answer that prayer. Sometimes we are surprised at how our prayers are answered, but they are answered always in a way that is for our best good. Sometimes we shoot too low. The saints help us to be on target with our petitions.
  • So, if an officer were to pray to Saint Michael for a good arrest, instead of, say, a good encounter which may or may not end in arrest, depending, our angelic friend will go out of his way to make sure that it’s an encounter that will do good for all involved, come what may, arrest or no arrest. The officer might not be quite ready for such sincerity, and so things might go badly indeed, but getting smacked down by one’s guardian angel for said purpose is a job Saint Michael will gladly delegate our guardian angels to take up with added vigor. Asking for the help of patron saints is serious business. They will take it seriously even if we don’t, especially if we don’t.
  • Having said all that, invoking Saint Michael “Who Is Like God”, so humble is he as to let God’s goodness and kindness and justice and truth shine through him… that always does good for the soul, you know, being reminded that one’s modus agendi is to involve humility, and not only justice and truth, but also goodness and kindness.
  • The more one asks for Saint Michael’s help, the less corruption or abuse of office will be possible, either because one learns humility, or because subconsciously one makes sure that one is found out (the ironies are innumerable), or because one is removed from employment for whatever reason. Again, invoking Saint Michael is serious business and will do good for our souls one way or the other if we have even the tiniest smidgen of sincerity, of humility.
  • Finally, as I’ve said before, Saint Michael doesn’t take it lightly when his own are dissed. Saint Michael is, as it were, God’s first police officer. When someone tries to hurt police officers, Saint Michael takes it personally. Saint Michael is not someone you want against you. So…

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

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A vocations test on having a goal in the spiritual life. Goals are for the dogs.

img_20170216_190523

Seen yesterday during a Communion Call.

Can we be encouraged to try to do better? Sure. The resulting goal that we set for ourselves can issue from a reckoning about what our dogs think about us and what the reality actually is. Fine. But…

Don’t have any goals in the spiritual life. Sure, there are things like keeping the commandments with a firm purpose of amendment, of frequenting the sacraments, of following the precepts of the Church, etc.

But that’s our ecclesial life, so to speak, intimately tied, it is true, to our spiritual lives, but there is a distinction to be made. Our Lord plucks us up out of the quagmire of this world, up to cross, where He is, where He said He would draw when He is lifted up there. We might think that we can climb up on the cross ourselves and don’t need or are afraid of His help to get there. We know that the goal there is set by Jesus, not ourselves, namely, that we participate in the charity of God in drawing all to the Heart of our Savior.

But that is something we cannot bring ourselves into living. It is beyond us. We have no idea what it means to intercede for all the members of the Body of Christ who are being drawn by Jesus to Himself on the Cross. This outrageous charity is not the way we would go about things. If we set anything to do with that as a goal for ourselves at which to arrive through our own machinations of doing this and that, we will only arrive at what we imagined with our own brains. It’s not about us. It’s about Jesus. We are not our own saviors. He the One, the only One. He saves us because we cannot do this ourselves.

The fad in the formation of seminarians for all these years of darkness was to equate psychology and the spiritual life, making the seminarians into perfect human beings who then don’t need any grace of redemption or salvation. And then the house of cards falls. The most oft cited book on vocations here in these USA is all about God calling perfect human beings, or human beings who are well under way to becoming perfect human beings who don’t have any weakness consequent to original sin. This has a certain insanity about it.

laudie-dog 2

I wouldn’t want anyone in a seminary who thought he didn’t need Jesus because he was already the perfect human being (what arrogance!). Neither would I want someone around who despaired of depending on Jesus. I would want someone available to formation, that is, someone who was willing to be at ease with the fact of the cross we are commanded to carry, which includes all weakness consequent to original sin. Know yourself! Yes. To a point. But we don’t really know whence Jesus had to save us until He lifts us out of the quagmire.

Jesus doesn’t make us of ourselves stronger, more whole, perfect. No. He brings us into His strength, His truth, His love, His goodness and kindness, before which standard we can understand a bit more what He’s done for us, leaving us in humble thanksgiving. In heaven there will be no more weakness, but here, in justice, as consequences of sin freely chosen with the sin, yes.

Having a goal of humble thanksgiving? No. We don’t know what it is. But assent to it as our Lord brings you into being humble, into thanksgiving, into His truth and goodness and kindness.

“Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect!” commands Jesus. Yes. But not of ourselves, but because we are made to be members of the Mystical Body of Christ. Jesus is perfect. He’s the Son of His Father. He’s the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception. It’s all about JESUS!

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