Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (They’re BAAAACK! edition)

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It seems there is always an abundance of flowers to gather for the Immaculate Conception. Like clock work. Everywhere you look. These are on the fence now by the zillions in the back of the rectory. The triumph of the cross for the Immaculate Mother of Jesus. “Behold,” He says, “I make all things new.” His gift to His good mom.

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FBI Atlanta: “Hey priest, it’s DARPA.”

Continuing my “Day-Off story, by coincidence I arrived to the side-parking lot outside the perimeter of FBI Atlanta at the same time as a CTU guy from Virginia, who didn’t go through the main gate but instead parked in one of the free remaining spaces outside. I parked next to him. He walked me to the security building, except when I went back to my car to get I think it was my passport. He went back to his car and rummaged around next to me until I was on my way again to the security building. He went inside handing off a piece of paper. I went to the window outside, out front as instructed. I struggled to see anyone as the window is almost completely blacked out and even the voices are so muffled that almost zero communication can go on.

The two agents had one piece of paper visible on the entire length of the long counter between them and me. They were looking at that, looking at me, looking at that, looking at me, looking at that, looking at me, shoving it on the counter right under my nose, though upside down. I guess they were beckoning me to, you know, accidentally have a look. It was a one-page summary report, you know, the kind you fill out with the “tab” key on your computer keyboard so as to jump from one bordered-field-box to the next, entering the least info possible, the origin, the date, the name of the author, a slightly larger box for comments at the bottom. I did get a look at the name of the author (which I needn’t give) and the provenance of the printout. The provenance of the report is what took me totally off guard. The provenance of that report was the absolutely last thing I would have thought to see that morning just there at the FBI.

To be continued. Time to start gaming the gaming game.

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FBI Atlanta – phone games

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After taking care of some things in northeast Atlanta on the “Day-Off”, and since I was right next to the new campus of FBI Atlanta outside the city (directly across the street from CDC), I thought I might see about some having a chat about some options for the “perpetual program” I’m on. It’s true that an Ambassador at Main State put me on that program, but the FBI seriously entrenched me all the more in the program in conjunction with Main State not long after that. I came prepared with some relevant documents. Not that I would need them. Having found the campus, I called up the security building.

A recording comes on with a woman’s voice warning you that the call is recorded and will be an analyzed. I like it. No, I take that back. I love it. They do a 15 minute menu to scare off any caller, first of all because of the time, but then also because of the menu options. It’s like… If you have direct information on an imminent attempt on the life of the President, the Vice-President or immediate families, press 1. – If you know of an imminent nuclear attack on the USA, those who are carrying this out and where they are right now, press 2. Blah blah blah. Finally, there’s an option for “Other”. I pressed that since nothing I have is equivalent to an imminent nuclear holocaust. The recording then started again for another 15 minutes. This gets rid of druggies who would never have the patience.

That recording finishes, and then it’s automatically piggybacked by another recording, this time with a guy’s voice who, on the recording, really impatiently demands your first and last name (at least he didn’t use expletives), and while you’re quickly saying your name the digital guy even more impatiently immediately demands that you state your name again – with raised pitch in his voice – and then without a break, even while you’re saying your name repeatedly, the recording digitally says that since there was no response he’s going to have to terminate the communication, you know, with a voice of a tender snowflake who sounds like he’s been micro-aggressioned beyond his limit for the day – how to describe it? – kind of like a quiet shriek, ever so offended that you had the gall to stay on the line all this time without hanging up. Mind you, this is all purposed to bait you into saying something stupid out of frustration. Playing the game, I did say something, though nothing stupid. “Wow” was my recorded response that they can “analyze” as the recording promises to do. “I did try to say my name…” Having gotten that response, the recording then hangs up. It is to laugh. I guess that gets rid of 99.99% of all callers who press the “Other” option. It also gives a chance for the security crowd to do research on the phone number and identity of the caller and triangulate your position. I like that. Smart. Although, one does get the impression that the FBI is trying a little too much with the inclusivity in all things thing. Somehow they got the tender snowflakes included. That took some imagination.

So, I called again, knowing that I’m now in a group of 0.01% of callers. So, this time another recording came on with yet another set of menu options threatening another 15 minutes and an analysis of anything you say. This time the recording was a guy sounding a bit like James Earl Jones. Very cool, that. The vast majority of the remaining 0.01% are going to hang up within a minute. I persevered, of course, always game to do the gaming thing. So, then, of course, soon enough a live super polite security lady came on the line and said to come on over to the security building. Great!

To be continued… I mention all this gaming the gaming game as this will be consonant with what happens next.

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Shadow-dog commands. No fingers crossed behind my back.

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I’m guessing that if a priest takes a day off it has to be put in scare quotes: “Day-Off”. First on the agenda for me the other day on the “Day-Off”, at about 3:00 AM, was to edit the article written by Father Gordon J. MacRae (About) over on TheseStoneWalls entitled “Assassin’s Deed” (what a fright!), which, this time, included at a zillion pictures. Father Gordon says that editing counts for visiting those in prison. Never an easier visit.

At the very end of the day, some 18 hours later, when I got back to the rectory, I noticed the top picture of this post which came in an envelope from Father Gordon along with his post for next week. Hahaha. This is, of course, what Father Gordon thinks of all my carry on about our intelligence services. Hahaha. Of course, I laughed out loud because, of course, he’s spot on. But, I digress.

Yesterday, a comment came in for moderation which included this appraisal:

“One thing love about you is how much you love being a priest. In another era your affinity for “spies” might have made you a great underground Jesuit somewhere where it was illegal to be a Catholic priest.”

“Another era…” Hmm… Let’s continue on the “day off.”

About 7:00 AM Sassy the Subaru was put in gear for an easy downhill ride to northeast Atlanta. If you’re ever passing through northeast Georgia, I recommend taking Hwy 19 with its frighteningly tight curves. It’s Georgia’s answer to the Tail of the Dragon up from my parish. Anyway, I had to complete the purchase of some specialized tactical items that had been on back order for some months and the order some other items that needed the know-how of a supervisor to put it through. What happened next on my “day-off” at FBI Atlanta certainly raised my eyebrows. But that’s best put in another post…

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Counterintel Sunday: “Situational awareness already saved your life.”

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Duc in altum: Launch out to the heights above the depths! Since there are those who will be upset that I was out on a pontoon boat with a family of our parishioners up in Graham County, NC (coming up from Atlanta, GA) – since priests should never get a break – I should preface this by saying that my day started about 3:00 AM. After putting up some posts on the blog on Saint John Vianney and Our Lady of the Snows, it was time for Adoration with dozens of parishioners at 6:00 AM with silence, then rosary, mercy chaplet, Lauds, Confessions the whole time, Benediction. At 7:10 AM it was time to race up to Graham County for Adoration and Rosary and Confessions before Mass at 8:30 AM. Then race back to Andrews for Confessions and then Mass, followed by the social (with a Q and A on some apologetic questions), followed by Communion calls in the back mountains. It was only then, now already evening, that I raced back up to Graham County to finally get on the boat after some sixteen hours of non-stop apostolate.

But let’s back up to early Mass in Robbinsville. Mind you, this is not a place you go so as merely to pass through. It’s a purposed destination, that is, utterly off the beaten track. You have to have a reason to come, cycling, motorcycling, backpacking on the AT, kayaking or because you have a cabin, or… just because, which is always a good reason.

Sitting back in the confessional (with it’s massive window facing the church) with just a minute a two before Mass, I saw this fellow, my age, come in and take a seat. The very nano-second I saw him I thought to myself, “This guy’s CIA.” It sounds really weird, but it’s just a thing with me since forever, meaning, I don’t remember ever being wrong. (Of course, I wouldn’t know that, right?) Still, it’s kind of stunning to me that as far as I know, I’ve never been wrong with these kind of experiences. It’s always instantaneous.

At the end of Mass I mentioned the article in the bulletin on Joyce Kilmer, in which I had failed to explicitly mention the OSS, successor to Kilmer’s great example and immediate predecessor of the CIA. I apologized for not remembering the tri-letter designation but said it’s something like CSS, something to do with Strategic Services, and asked if anyone knew the original tri-letters. No one said anything.

Afterward, outside the church, the guy I was guessing was CIA and therefore who should know the answer came up and said that the letters were OSS. Ah yes, said I, Office of Strategic Services. He said he knew that because he had just now retired after 39 years in the CIA. Surely they had recruited him right out of high school. This guy just happened to come here for Mass. No family. No cabin. No A.T. No kayaking. Waaaaaay out of his way. Mind you, it’s all understandable. Right after retiring out you want a breather, a drive through the mountains, a break. It’s what I would do. So, there’s no there there. Just that I caught him out. Like clockwork. But I digress.

After arriving to the forest on the far side of the picture above in the pontoon, which was super relaxing, a good times memory, we putt-putted back to the cabin, about an hour round trip. A call was made to the neighbors, life long friends of my parishioners down in Atlanta who happened to have a cabin right next door. They had always been assigned to the same places in the military, and were both into the intel / surveillance thing.

The bagpipes came out. Amazing Grace and other pieces were squeezed out, echoing across the massive lake. Really loud. That was met with yelps of glee and appreciation by other lake dwellers far away with the quiet evening unbroken surface of the water permitting their voices to render thanksgiving at a distance. Then dinner.

The conversation of these ultra-super cultured people – leaving me entirely in the dust – roamed about the works of literary geniuses, military intel, rosary meditations, my own background[!].The intel guy kept coming back to my growing up in Minnesota and to various aspects of what kind of photographic memory I had, provably, since I was one year old. He was super interested in what I perceived to be the value of humint, the whys and wherefores. At one point the intel guy seemed to have had a sufficiency to make a decision. He locked eyes with me and kept hold of my eyes with his deadly serious though soft-spoken and each word accentuated and individuated tone of voice: “What is certain, I’m telling you this, what is certain is that your situational awareness has already saved your life. It has already saved your life. You are to continue with your situational awareness.”

I think his assertion immediately brought the conversation to what kind of dessert we would all like. Of course, I had no problem saying that I didn’t see a problem in sampling some of everything. Homemade cake, various kinds of ice-cream and deli toppings, the works. :-) Meanwhile, as you might imagine, the “already saved your life” comment came to mind. Maybe it’s just the way he said it: “already.”

Yesterday, from 3:00 AM until about mid-night, was absolutely pleasant. Refreshing. Perfect. Holy Mass at both churches. Adoration. The CIA guy: humble, happy guy. Racing about for Communion calls. The boat ride. The scrumptious dinner. The leave-me-in-the-dust conversation with the intel guy. The desserts. The super peaceful drive back through the mountain passes. The greeting back at the rectory by the puppies, Laudie-dog and Shadow-dog. But then the comment: “Your situational awareness has already saved your life. You are to continue with your situational awareness.”

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (Our Lady of the Snows edition)

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Back in the day, when I was a permanent chaplain in Lourdes, France, I took this picture with my el-cheapo digital camera. It was February, the first day following weeks of 24/7 sub-freezing temps with ice and snow precipitating down on the pilgrims daily. As you can see, the ice and snow are no match for the gentlest of petals when it is time to give due honor to the Immaculate Conception at the grotto. Here’s a view from above the grotto, and, yes, this is also a color picture. It was just that dark and dreary and ferociously cold for weeks:

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Meanwhile, in the brutally hot August of Rome it snowed exactly where the Basilica in honor of Jesus’ good mom was to be built, and only there, you know, when tender snowflakes had something to do with water and temperature.

Today I am thinking about Saint John Paul II, how he used the phrase “co-redemptrix” dozens of times, I think 29 times. This title for our Lady refers simply to how appropriate it was in justice that one of us who is not divine should ask for such graces perfectly, graces coming directly from her Divine Son. Thank you, Blessed Mother, for being a good mother to us. Continue to show yourself a mother to us!

Monstra te esse matrem!

GENESIS THESIS GEORGE DAVID BYERS

IVE GENESIS IMMACULATE CONCEPTION CONFERENCE 7 FEBRUARY 2013

Perhaps this theme of co-redemptrix is the key to my making a popular version of the thesis, finally. My hope is that this would bring some light to the darkness, including my own dark little life. The glory of the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception entering this world to grab us and bring us to heaven fires me up, enough, methinks, to melt the ice and snow, enough, methinks, to finally start writing.

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For St John Vianney it’s all about Jesus

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What’s that I hear? There are… are… are controverted issi-oos somewhere inside oneself, somewhere in the world, somewhere in the Church? Oh. That’s new. What a surprise.

Breathless argumentation which condemns all others to hell, all as heretics, all with simple emotional assertions on their own or simple emotional assertions shrouded lightly with – Oooo! – lots of verbiage…. all this breathless argumentation always and every time seems to forget entirely about Jesus. It is in this way that doctrine turns into ideology, meaning that it’s all about oneself asserting an assertion, any assertion, and whether right or wrong (that’s irrelevant as essentially important premises to the argument bite the dust and not essentially important premises are introduced as being totally decisive, ripping words and phrases out of context, which is pretext), it’s: “I’m right; you’re wrong. I’m justified; you’re not. I’ve condemned everyone to hell as a heretic and so that includes you too.”

The great thing about St John Vianney, as with any other saint, is that, for him, Jesus was of paramount importance, and more than merely paramount; for Father Vianney, Jesus was and is all important. It’s all about Jesus. He’s the One. He’s the only one. So, for him, it was all about him saying: “Father, please hear my confession.” And then he would hear confessions, confessions, confessions, confessions.

By the way, that picture up top is the chapel of Saint John the Baptist, the one who lost his head for a dance. Father Vianney literally knocked out the side of his parish church to build this side chapel to combat the brood of vipers in his mountain village.

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Joyce Kilmer’s Trees Sheet Music 1922

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Bonus: Joyce Kilmer Centennial Memorial 30 July 2018 at the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest: Listen up, CIA! Dedicatio par aevum Heroic history: Joyce Kilmer Centennial

 

 

 

 

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (“New” day lilies edition)

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These were donated from the neighbor across the street. Very healthy even after transplanting. Right next to the statue of Mary, Jesus’ good mom. I always but always notice the Star of David, the three petals overlapping the three petals. And then, with the yellow color and all, I recall what I always carry with me:

jewish yellow star jude

Don’t think this is morbid or only something dark and depressing. Instead, I also always carry this hope, as should we all:

star of david

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Lost in paradise

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The directions I received to go do a house blessings were: “You know, we’re up 143, like, you know, Snow Bird.” I will find it. Meanwhile, on my first attempt, going the length of 143 and Snow Bird, I stopped at this waterfall to share with you some of the screamingly beautiful beauty of my parish. If you follow the water up the picture you’ll come almost to the top of the ridge. I don’t mind getting lost in paradise. It’s an occasion to sing:

O felix culpa quae talem et tantum meruit habere redemptorem.

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Catechetical Capital Punishment: Anti-Catholics burn Pope Francis [Update]

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The anti-Catholic “katholics” not so kryptically klaim that Pope Francis has “changed church doctrine” in the Catechism of the Catholic Church with a rescript of paragraph 2267 on capital punishment. Those who make the klaim that he changed Church doctrine are well aware that there would be no Catholic Church if doctrine can be changed. They know they scandalize the faithful. They revel in coprophiliac self-congratulating fake-news popularity as heroes, self-proclaimed saviors of the Church and the world.

But, of course, Pope Francis has done nothing even remotely like changing Church doctrine. Not at all. Quite the opposite. He’s reaffirmed it. Let’s do something pretty much no one does. Let’s actually analyse the new paragraphs for 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church with my emphases in bold and [[my comments in red]].

Nuova redazione del n. 2267 del Catechismo della Chiesa Cattolica sulla pena di morte – Rescriptum “ex Audentia SS.mi”, 02.08.2018

The death penalty

2267. Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.

Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes [[I’m not aware of that truth being lost on those of the past, by the way, but that is beside the point.]]. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state [[This refers to debate on a deterrent or exacerbating effect of the death penalty.]]. Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed [[“been developed”: directly to the point.]], which ensure the due protection of citizens [[“ensure the due protection”: directly to the point.]] but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption [[This is beside the point as this may also come about because of imminent death.]].

Consequently [[“pertanto” “quapropter”: that is, considering these ever changing conditions, the present conditions, generally speaking – and which can revert back to something more primitive in future – are such that right now, for these particular conditions…]], the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that “the death penalty is inadmissible [[…in present circumstances…]] because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”,[1] [[“inviolability” … “dignity”: these absolute statements are actually relative to things like “self-defense”, right? So, there’s no there there.]] and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide. [[Fine.]]

[1] Francis, Address to Participants in the Meeting organized by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, 11 October 2017: L’Osservatore Romano, 13 October 2017, 5. [[This citation is incorrect. It is the last paragraph on page 7 which then continues on page 11. See the PDF of this edition of the Vatican newspaper from the Vatican website:

http://www.osservatoreromano.va/vaticanresources/pdf/ING_2017_041_1310.pdf

Anyway,there are plenty of ambiguous statements in that footnoted private address which is not directed to the universal Church, nor can it be said that everything in that private address to now canonized, as it were, because it is noted for whatever reason, for instance, to let us know more about not so much the doctrine of the Church but as an indication of Pope Francis’ concern, and to show that he has now brought to completion what he had intended to do for quite a while. There’s no there there. That address is NOT the Catechism no matter how much the mere fact of its publication is noted.]]

=======/// In other words, the doctrine stays in place, and this is simply a comment on the proper application of the doctrine in present conditions, generally speaking. Mind you, the prudence of the Church hasn’t changed one bit. This is a faithful rendition of not only of the doctrine but also of the prudent application of the Church from all ages. This is the judgment for the present time, generally speaking.

The method is crystal clear in examining ever changing circumstances. See the words “developed” and “ensure” and “consequently”?

Get it? This is not hard. In fact, it is so easy that one is tempted to think that there is real malice in those who attack to quickly, so easily, with manipulation.

I, for one, think that we need to support Pope Francis with prayer.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (October’s August: time for war ed.)

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These are the flowers of October beans. They stay around for quite a while, providing bees (who get annoyed with humming birds) and fighter-attack humming birds (who instantaneously go into all out war mode upon seeing bees) with that over which they enjoy a good battle.

The beans are enormous, their existence pretty much denied by everyone. I had pictures of them up on a previous blog published from the hermitage, and a reader denied the possibility asking that I send a few exemplars his way. I did. He wrote back a very apologetic letter saying he shouldn’t have doubted that the Lord could create such beauties. Just a handful will make a great soup for the day.

I imagine the Immaculate Conception would have made some really good soups of all kinds for Jesus and any and all orphan kids in the town. You can also extend soup for another mouth to feed. October beans, being so big, would be just the thing.

Of course, these beans wont be ready until – you guessed it – October. But they can be saved all year. Let me see, what’s that feast in October dedicated to something to do with our Lady? That feast day also has something to do with a certain kind of flowers and… and… with a famously epic battle that changed the entire course of history. Such violence! Our Lady knows all about it. October beans flowers are most appropriate for her. I’m sure you guessed what that feast day is by now and how that feast day came about… Time for fill-in-the-blank fun:

What was the most useful weapon of war in that battle called? ____________

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Listen up, CIA! Dedicatio par aevum Heroic history: Joyce Kilmer Centennial

CIA MEMORIAL LANGLEY

Today’s the 100th anniversary of death by sniper of forward field intelligence officer Joyce Kilmer. He’s personally the heroic example of what would become the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) which would itself turn into the Central Intelligence Agency.

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We had a memorial today, July 30, 2018, in the absolutely gorgeous National Forest dedicated to the memory of the great military operative Joyce Kilmer. Joyce, mind you, was a literary giant, compared even to G.K. Chesterton, certainly for his poetry. Look him up in Wikipedia. You won’t be disappointed.

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Descendants of Joyce Kilmer were there. The VFW was there in force, including the State and National Commanders. There were bagpipes, the bugle for Taps, the 21 gun salute.

I also had a part to play, offering a few religious words about heroism. I then had the great privilege of reciting the entire Rouge Bouquet included below.

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JOYCE KILMER: Memorial – Rev. George David Byers
July 30, 2018 – Centenary Memorial Service – Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest

Since Joyce Kilmer was a devout Catholic and since I’m the Catholic pastor of the local parish, I’ve been invited to say a few words to attempt to go the heart of who Joyce Kilmer is as a hero. Joyce’s Rouge Bouquet will then be read before a short prayer, followed by rendering honors and the Taps.

Joyce Kilmer was enthusiastically respected in all good friendship by his brothers in arms back in the day, a lively respect which continues today as we are now witnessing one hundred years later. Anyone who is profoundly immersed in their own times remains at one with us in all times. Joyce Kilmer is a hero because he leads us back to ourselves and who we are before God. Joyce’s poetical intervention about, say, any tree being awesome because of being just another tree, but made by God is an analogy bringing us into the lived reality of who any one of us is to be as a hero.

Like so many others in our topsy turvy society with wars and rumors of wars, in our day as people did in Joyce’s day, I have searched for heroism if not in all the wrong places then surely in all the wrong ways. Growing up in a military family, my father having been trained up at Parris Island as a Marine Fighter Attack Pilot in Guam, the Philippines, Japan, China and Korea, having been commander of the famed Checkerboard Squadron, I have bragged about him as my hero, perhaps making him too extra special. Joyce Kilmer knew there was a danger to making one tree more special than all the others, a danger of not seeing that we are all made by God, the danger of thinking that this other fellow is a hero so I don’t have to be one. That’s not the kind of respect a real hero wants.

At the same time I would go out of my way to greet any veteran I might see at a gas station or a supermarket or at church. I’ve learned NOT to say, “Thank you for your service,” as I would often get a half-hearted, or sad, or almost cynical if polite acknowledgment in return. To say “Thank you for your service” almost seems ungrateful to the very veteran before whom one stands, being thankful perhaps only for his or her service in unrepeatable circumstances so very far away, a fog of war that any veteran struggles to recount to anyone, a service which, therefore, is in danger of being forgotten if heroism is merely about things done, if heroism is just that specialized, that distant, that out of reach, my usual mistake of “he’s the hero so I don’t have to be one.”

To veterans then, I’ve learned NOT to say “Thank you for your service,” but simply, “Thank you.” The acknowledgment is immediate, sincere, one of appreciated solidarity. And yet, even in this thanksgiving there can still be something missing about the heroism Joyce Kilmer lived out, the heroism which won him the enthusiastic respect in all good friendship of his brothers in arms and of our own respect today.

An Army friend of mine who was taken up as a field agent of the CIA much along the lines of Joyce becoming a kind of distant forerunner of the best of our CIA operatives, reprimanded me, saying that I had much to learn about thanking any veteran. He said that a hero isn’t someone you thank so much as strive to imitate with intensity of service at whatever cost. That’s it, thought I foolishly. Striving to imitate intensity of service is a real compliment, a real thanksgiving, and goes a long way and is what any veteran would like to see from anyone. But it still isn’t the full story and is certainly not quite yet an appreciation of the kind of heroism lived out by Joyce Kilmer.

We’ve all heard veterans of foreign wars like Marcus Luttrell or Robert O’Neill say it; we’ve all heard our friends in Law Enforcement and Firefighting say it; I’m certain that most who are here today have said it, as heroes: “I’ve done nothing special.” And then they add what our Lord said we will all say should we make it into the gates of heaven: “I’ve only done what I had to do.” There are those who think that this is what humility is all about, misunderstanding this as some sort of self-deprecation. But they miss the point. This isn’t false humility to say “I’ve done nothing special.” It is to say in Joyce Kilmer’s analogy, that any tree is awesome among any other trees, each having been made by God, so that each tree, each person is to do what they have to do, what they’ve been given to do, what they’ve been called to do in whatever impossibly unrepeatable circumstances they happen to be in. We’re all called to be heroes.

What was so attractive about Joyce Kilmer to his brothers in arms and to us today is that he knew he had what we can all have by way of God: we can all have a love that is stronger than death, a love stronger than death. “Let me have the most dangerous assignment!” said Joyce Kilmer again and again. A love stronger than death given by God. That’s what we recognize as what we are all to have, a love stronger than death given by God; this is who we are all to be, one who lives out what we have to do, what we’ve been given to do, what we’ve been called to do in all our impossibly unrepeatable circumstances. What makes the hero is that which all can have, this God given love which is stronger than death. “Let me have the most dangerous assignment!”

So said the eternal Word of God the Father: let me have the most dangerous assignment; let me stand in their place, the innocent for the guilty, so that I might have the right in my own justice to have mercy on them. And we know what happened next: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life,” eternal life, a love stronger than death, the eternal Son of God, our warrior of goodness conquering evil because giving us of his love that is stronger than death so that we might also say: “Let me have the most dangerous assignment!” Jesus is the One hero, and we are all heroes in him, recognizing before this love that is stronger than death that is offered to us all, that we then do, in thanksgiving, what we have to do, what we’ve been given to do, what we’ve been called to do in all our own unrepeatable circumstances, as in Joyce’s day, so in our own. The thanksgiving that our hero veterans want to have is that we all become heroes.

My own prayer this day is that those who visit this forest, coming into contact with the eternal Creator of creation, might find out about the heroism of Joyce Kilmer, the heroism we can all have with that God-given love that is stronger than death, that love which is eternal. Only God can make a tree. Only God can make a hero. We thank God for all our heroes, begging that we might strive to imitate intensity of generosity by living out in our everyday circumstances, with enthusiasm, that love which is stronger than death. Thank you, Joyce. Thanks to all our veterans. Thanks to all our heroes. Thanks to Jesus for giving us a love stronger than death.

The Rouge Bouquet

In a wood they call the Rouge Bouquet
There is a new-made grave to-day,
Built by never a spade nor pick
Yet covered with earth ten metres thick.
There lie many fighting men,
Dead in their youthful prime,
Never to laugh nor love again
Nor taste the Summertime.
For Death came flying through the air
And stopped his flight at the dugout stair,
Touched his prey and left them there,
Clay to clay.
He hid their bodies stealthily
In the soil of the land they fought to free
And fled away.
Now over the grave abrupt and clear
Three volleys ring;
And perhaps their brave young spirits hear
The bugle sing: “Go to sleep! Go to sleep!
Slumber well where the shell screamed
and fell.
Let your rifles rest on the muddy floor,
You will not need them any more.
Danger’s past;
Now at last, Go to sleep!”
There is on earth no worthier grave
To hold the bodies of the brave
Than this place of pain and pride
Where they nobly fought and nobly died.
Never fear but in the skies
Saints and angels stand
Smiling with their holy eyes
On this new-come band.
St. Michael’s sword darts through the air
And touches the aureole on his hair
As he sees them stand saluting there,
His stalwart sons;
And Patrick, Brigid, Columkill
Rejoice that in veins of warriors still
The Gael’s blood runs.
And up to Heaven’s doorway floats,
From the wood called Rouge Bouquet
A delicate cloud of bugle notes
That softly say: “Farewell! Farewell!
Comrades true, born anew, peace to you!
Your souls shall be where the heroes are
And your memory shine like the morning-star.
Brave and dear, Shield us here. Farewell!”

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From the Catholic funerary rites:

Saints of God, come to their aid! Come to meet them angels of the Lord!
Receive their souls and present them to God the Most High.
May Christ, Who called you, take you to Himself; may angels lead you to Abraham’s side.
Receive their souls and present them to God the Most High.
Let us pray: We commend our brothers and sisters to you, Lord. Now that they have passed from this life, may they live on in Your presence. Amen.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and all the souls of the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Render honors…

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (backdrop edition)

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When I would collect a wild-flower bouquet for my mom, I wouldn’t just get a couple of flowers, just by themselves. It just didn’t seem right. Indeed, what florist does that? Not even one. There’s always a backdrop, a setting, providing a structure, a method, a way to appreciate what’s going on.

Above is just merely a mere seed group of some grass. But this is just the kind of thing that goes with the flowers. The flowers would fall over, perhaps right out of their vases if it wasn’t for some of this kind of mere background stuff.

You can guess the analogy already. It’s not just the spectacular stuff that Jesus might permit us in His providence to accomplish here or there in His grace, but it’s always about faithfulness in all things, the background of the “flowers.” Then the backdrop is as much the flowers as the flowers.

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Ultra-tradition-al-ism-ists & the Jews

auschwitz

A priest just finished giving a six day “traditional” retreat recently in Virginia. Nice guy, I’m sure. Traditional Mass. Traditional Confessions. Traditional talks. Great. Except for the last day. Traditionally, that day is reserved not to the most unimportant matters, but to the summit of the spiritual life as exemplified by Jesus’ good mom, the ever virgin Immaculate Conception. Call to mind that she’s the highest honor of the Jews, and that Jesus is a Jew, and that, as the Divine Son of God said, “Salvation is from the Jews.” After all, as Saint Paul said:

“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.”

I’m sure he had great stuff to say about Mary. Great stuff. Sure. Stuff, like, to say. But, just to say, the last day of the retreat was given over to insisting that the Jews – you know: “the Jews” – are conspiring to take over the world through banking, one world government and control of Hollywood. Protesting too much, he said that he is NOT anti-Semitic. Of course he’s not. He’s just lumping all those, you know, those… those… those Jews together, piling them up in a big heap. Hey, I know! Let’s include the kids too! Here’s a video I made at Yad vaShem. It’s important to get to know some of them by name…

What to do with such a priest? Prejudice is all about fear of self. Fear casts out all love. How to overcome fear when one has no love? There’s this Jewish guy I know who says that love casts out all fear. Where to get love? Acquire it? Steal it? Control it? Manipulate it for self? Or, maybe that kind of religious plan is as good as one’s sin. See Romans 7. Wretched man that I am! Who can save me from all of this? Thank God for Jesus Christ who saves me from all of this. Dang it! Jesus is a Jew!

By the way, as a good Jew, typical Divine Son of His mother, Jesus is in fact taking over the world. He wants those in banking, those in governments, those in Hollywood. Yep. He loves us all just that much. And there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. Jesus is the Lord of History. He draws all to Himself from all of time as He’s lifted up on the Cross.

N.B. To the very popular and widespread group to which this priest belongs: If you don’t smack this jerk down, correcting him and lifting him up into charity and truth, you’ll likely be the next group to bite the dust. Too bad, that. But that’s how things work in this world, you know, lumping people together, that kind of thing. So, hey! I know! Do it. Do it now.

BTW: To all the individual priests I know who congratulate themselves as being “of Tradition” and who are as anti-Semitic as the day is long, as long as the night endures: Tradition doesn’t mean you have to be jerks. In fact, that means that you know nothing of Tradition at all. Take care that Jesus, that Jewish guy, doesn’t say to you: “I don’t know you.”

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Mount Carmel Stations of the Cross

Once you’ve seen these stations, you can’t un-see them. But, the intensity of them… Well, it all bears repeating.

I made this set of videos (about 20 minutes all told) during my time living just over the cave of Elijah on Mount Carmel, Israel. The O.C.D.s had invited me to stay there for an entire month during the years that I was a chaplain at Lourdes. I must say that these videos are very emotional for me to watch to this day. What a fright! But… Jesus, Mary’s Son, is just that good and kind! Even though in watching these you don’t move from station to station yourself, I’m sure your heart will be transported to be right next to Jesus, to be with Him in solidarity, and to be right next to His dear mother as she accompanies our Lord, again in all solidarity. Dear Lord…

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“Fr George, you can make a car bomb, a suicide vest, take out a building…”

suicide bomber land day 2001

And so it continues. People with ineffable military experience, with CVs including any number of alphabet agencies and institutes, offices and bureaus and divisions, come up to me to somehow bait me on whatever stupidity, such as, now most recently, bomb making. With their help I too, like them, can get as much C-4 as I want [technical advice on how to use it in what amounts], or otherwise spend a few dollars (literally just a few dollars) to prep up the necessary for a suicide vest [in such and such a way: technical advice] or otherwise hand-carried WMDs [technical, chemical advice], that would involve me, or be employed more remotely for, say, a car bomb because you know – Hey! – car bombs! Maybe I could go to [named building] it was suggested, and take it out by [technical, architectural advice here].

The old second person grammatical mistake – “You could…” replacing the impersonal third person – “One could…” – was no mistake in all this. After all, I am told, I have the perfect cover: a “priest”. I never said a word in all this. No questions. No notes. It was presented to me without me asking, presumably with incorrect and insufficient details. People like this can be honest, have integrity, and are baiting, not really knowing the full story, knowing that the full story cannot be known. Fine. Or they can do all this to get themselves more useful idiots. Here’s the deal: one cannot but make some small mistake. Meanwhile, bad stuff happens.

death gaza boy 2

I have to wonder how many people have been manipulated into doing whatever. In the most recent encounter I was told that the assignment he had in France was to bait people, manipulate people, have people do things without them knowing that they were doing his will, the will of those who assigned him to France to have such things accomplished, things that they would never have done on their own but were baited into doing. I have to wonder how many people have to die.

terrorist suicide bomberSee this kid in the picture of this paragraph? I stopped him for like ten years, but then he went ahead and did it – the suicide bombing thing – manipulated by others, including his own father, 21 dead (plus himself), and well over a hundred wounded (horrific life changing maiming etc), mostly Russian Jewish girls who had just arrived in Israel and had nothing to do with any violence with Palestinians. When will the manipulation stop?

Anyway, this most recent bomb guy, manipulator guy, did in fact make a mistake, two in fact. Purposed? Baiting? Dunno. This kind of thing goes on all the time. It’s all a “he said” “she said” kind of scenario. In fact, he told me that, and this isn’t the first time he said this: I could go ahead and say whatever and the simple question will be asked: Do you have proof? In a world of multiple levels of physical deniability? “Proof.” So, people continue to die. Violence is the way things are and will continue to be.

Jesus knows all about it. He used it for His own victory of laying down His own life for ours, the innocent for the guilty. That’s the one thing important. That’s the one thing these guys don’t include in their calculation. Really smart guys. They think they’ve got you with all their “insurance policy” extortion. But they’re perfectly lacking in wisdom. They only hurt themselves. Jesus continues to win. Love cuts through the deception of power for the sake of power. Why is that? Because in God, love is truth is power is goodness is kindness.

death gaza boy 1

If you think I’m letting violence just pass me by like I don’t care. Think again. Certain steps can be taken. This post is one of them. But there are more steps. I don’t think that I’ll be able to stop much of any violence. But – Hey! – like the Master, so the disciple. Jesus didn’t ask us to be successful in all ways, just in being faithful to His love and truth and goodness and kindness, that which these guys don’t fear, that which will overpower these guys when Jesus comes to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Amen.

I’ll be writing, please God, about his mistakes in posts to come. Stay tuned.

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TWA bomb threat Rome-JFK: Is there anyone helpful on the flight manifest?

JFK airport runway 4L

The FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Systems accessed this post on the blog, now for about the thousandth time, this time apparently from Dunn Loring. Rather interesting, Dunn Loring, considering what one finds in and around West McLean, West Langley, Tysons Corner. I owe them a call. I digress. I thought I might say a word about my experience on the mentioned TWA flight from Rome-Fiumicino to New York-JFK in that ever accessed post. This incident on TWA does not show up in lists of terrorist events suffered by TWA for the reason that in the end nothing actually happened. I only mention it here to make yet another necessarily failing attempt distance myself from someone who stole my name as cover and is protected in his activities by the State Department. It’s one of those things which slightly lifts the corner of the veil. Mind you, this happened years before I was contacted by Main State, years before I was officially put on a perpetual program (that I knew about), years before I had any special “accompaniment.”

We were somewhere due-south of Iceland / Greenland, surely just over the halfway mark to JFK. Of a sudden all the stewards and stewardesses of the 747 gathered around my seat (that’s a lot), all very nervous, and said all in agreement and all at once that they had to ask me a certain question, hardly able to spit it out. One steward then spoke for them and said with the exactitude of someone trying to save the lives of all on board, each word punctuated and hanging in the air: “We have to ask you this question: ‘Have you had a course in how to negotiate with terrorists?'” Not the usual “Coffee or tea?” question. It’s a loaded question, of course. I answered ambiguously, saying I may be able to speak with our guests effectively. How many are there? What’s up? I asked. They explained that there were about twenty Arab looking passengers (I myself am guessing they were from Cairo, such profiling being unimportant) in the back of the plane who had just threatened to blow up the plane. As it turns out they had no bomb that actually exploded in the air.

When we landed we went to the farthest southeast corner of the airport, if I remember  correctly, the very end of runway – 4 L – , on the western side of the very end of that runway, basically with the wheels almost in the water, literally. In other words, we were as far away from any building as possible in case there was a catastrophic explosion that would take out not only the plane but a good chunk of the airport. It’s hard to list all the various kinds of vehicles that showed up at the scene as some of the shapes and sizes of the some of the vehicles were so particularly adept to specific disasters at airports and airplanes: fire engines, ambulances, armored troop carriers, assault team vehicles, endless military vehicles, law enforcement of every description and more and more fire engines and specialized vehicles.

And then the command: “Keep your heads down!” It was only said once. Then heavily armed, heavily ballistically protected operators, with shields and helmets with screens, balaclava endowed, the works, stormed to the back of the plane and assisted with the deplaning of those who had threatened the worst upon all present. Then we were deplaned along with our luggage. The plane was kept in place. There were buses but they took us only to the closest edge of the airport buildings.

Meanwhile, the pilot, nice guy, amidst all this chaos, made sure that the pilot of the connecting flight would wait for me. Hard to fathom that one, but it’s true. One stewardess, may the Lord reward her, helped me with my luggage – filled with books, like 85 pounds per piece. She ran with me across the airport carrying all this with me by hand, and finally a cart, and got me to my next plane. It seemed like miles. My heart melted at this show of humanity for me, I mean, mind you, amidst all the chaos. She was so thankful to me for having been there. I didn’t actually physically start in on our guests from the near east so as to neutralize their threat. Sometimes timers or pressurized devices instead need to found and shut down, or tossed, if possible (there are simple methods to keep such things both pressurized and get them tossed), but you might need the perpetrators’ help for the purpose of location. Anyway, they were threatened with having a “dialogue” already on the plane: you always learn about weaknesses, motives and connections with “dialogue.” They knew it. Terrorists are always cowards, tender snowflake entitled bullies. It is what it is. ;-)

Anyway, decades later, reflecting on all this, I had to wonder how it is that I was asked to assist. After all, I’m absolutely nobody with no off the charts skills whatsoever, especially at that time. I can only imagine the succession of events:

  • Our guests told a crew member that they had a bomb.
  • That crew member told the supervisor who informed the captain. They perused the flight manifest to see if there were any military or law enforcement officers or “others” on the flight who could help out, calling the tower in JFK to inform them of the situation and ask if they could assist in reviewing the manifest with specialized sources.
  • Only my name came up as a hit (because of the occupation of the person who stole my identity), though there was no reason given for the hit (as is the case with perpetual programs as related files and identifiers are then destroyed removing any possibility of re-deciding anything as to why the program is in place). Usually this involves agents in deep cover. They are simply beyond unmasking.
  • This being the case – a question mark – the instruction was given, risking an unmasking because of the circumstances, that I was to be asked as to whether I had ever had a course in how to negotiate with terrorists. Should I say yes, that would of course indicate that I had been at something a bit more advanced than *The Farm* or something a bit more than anything Quantico-esque.
  • Sometimes, people on these perpetual programs may not be operatives, simply those who are useful for whatever strained reason, or, like me, simply be among those who are used for convenient expedience.

When I thought he was in a moment that I might catch him off guard, I once complained to the guy who stole my identity that my subsequent accompaniment because of the perpetual program I was to be put on because of him – yes, I know him – was all a bit much, too expensive, a waste of resources, especially personnel, and he instantly interrupted me, incredulous at my stupidity, saying that this would be the least expense of the much larger progra… And then he cut himself off, flustered that he had gotten carried away and said too much.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (you can’t unsee it edition)

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No, this is not a purple lettuce tree. Kind of nice though. It’s at one of the thousand specialized medical clinics that handle all the things for which pretty much all the regional hospitals have no certification. Hundreds of miles yesterday on the day-on on behalf of parishioners. Everywhere I look I see flowers for the Immaculate Conception. But, I mean, everyone does, right? Once you see one flower in this way, all flowers are seen in this way. It’s the positive side of “you can’t unsee it.” ;-)

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Humanae vitae: two priests met me in my diaconate summer in 1980s and…

spy vs spyTwo priests from further out east in these USA had heard of my parochial experiences with Humanae vitae. Apparently, this was becoming a thing. A “reputation” and all that. That’s always something to be avoided. It is what it is, for good or bad, truthful or something less than that. They came to pay me a visit – a long day-trip, that – and expressed to me their utter disdain for the appointments I had been given for my diaconate summer (though I do not question the bishop’s wisdom in this matter of appointments in the least).

Satisfied that they had a good understanding of the way things were, but wanting to ascertain this for themselves, they proceeded, after returning to their diocese out east, to make a call to the vocation director in my diocese at the time. They had heard that if someone wasn’t for women’s ordination and against Humanae vitae, there was no way he was going to be ordained in that diocese, at least if the vocations office had anything to say about it. This was news to me, but, hey, anything is possible, right?

One of them made the call and pretended to be a young layman expressing interest discerning a vocation to the priesthood. As they suspected, the conversation very quickly turned to thoughts about women’s ordination and Humanae vitae. Taking a line of fidelity to Christ and the Church for the good of all, he was forthwith put off from any further contact with the vocations office of the diocese with the good wishes being given to him that perhaps he might come around to playing out life on the right side of history.

The result of this phone call was then reported back to me. I guess they thought that knowledge is power. Something like that. The thing is, God is really smart, with lots of knowledge, lots of power. God’s the One in charge of things. Whatever we think about we do, God is the Lord of History.

I asked an old Monsignor about them and he said that, yes, they were in fact priests from out east and were quite the renegades on behalf of the good. I recall being quite inspired by all this. Perhaps some might think role playing in this way is not to be done, but…

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