Fatima Century – 2nd Apparition 1917

saint anthony of padua

Saint Anthony of Padua outside the rectory in Andrews, NC, June 2017


In Portugal the 13th of June is a great feast, the feast of St. Anthony of Lisbon, known to most Catholics as St. Anthony of Padua. This Franciscan miracle-worker was born in Lisbon and had entered religious life as a Canon Regular of the Holy Cross, residing first in Lisbon and then Coimbra, before leaving the Portuguese order for the new Order of Friars Minor and a hope of martyrdom. It was, and is, THE children’s feast in Portugal, so the parents of Lucia naturally thought that the festivities at the parish church in Fátima would distract her from the appointment at the Cova. However, undismayed by this tactic Lucia and the Marto children proceeded to the apparition site to keep their noon day rendezvous.

When they arrived they found a small crowd awaiting them.

After having said the rosary with Jacinta and Francisco and other people who were present, we saw again the reflection of light nearing us, (we used to say it was lightening), and following, Our Lady on the holm oak as in May.

“Please tell me, Madam, what it is that you want of me?”

“I want you to come here on the thirteenth of next month. I want you to continue saying the Rosary every day. And after each one of the mysteries, my children, I want you to pray in this way: O my Jesus, forgive us our sins , save us from the fire of hell. Take all souls to heaven, especially those who are most in need. I want you to learn to read and write, and later I will tell you what else I want of you.”

“Will you take us to heaven?”

“Yes, I shall take Jacinta and Francisco soon, but you will remain a little longer, since Jesus wishes you to make me known and loved on earth. He wishes also for you to establish devotion in the world to my Immaculate Heart.”

“Must I remain in the world alone?”

Not alone, my child, and you must not be sad. I will be with you always, and my Immaculate Heart will be your comfort and the way which will lead you to God.
The moment she said the last words, opening her hands, She transmitted to us, for the second time, the reflection of that intense light. In it we felt we were submerged in God. Jacinta and Francisco seemed to be in that part of the light which was rising to Heaven, and I in the part spreading over the earth. In front of the palm of Our Lady’s right hand was a heart encircled with thorns which appeared to pierce it. We understood it was the Immaculate Heart of Mary offended by the sins of mankind, craving reparation.

The apparition then concluded as on the first occasion, with the Lady going off toward the east and disappearing in the “immensity of heaven.”

Despite the joy of those precious moments the sorrows of the children continued in the following weeks, moderated by the belief of very many at the Cova that day. They knew that something unusual had occurred – they saw the “lightening,” some perceived a certain dimming of the sun, others a little gray cloud that came and went as the apparition did and they believed. However, the difficulties with their families did not abate, especially with their mothers, who became genuinely alarmed that the events were not just continuing but expanding. To this was added the painful caution of the parish priest, that after all it might be real but of demonic origin.


There are a zillion Latin versions, but the one we used in Rome in the 1980s and 1990s was this one:

O mi Iesu, peccata nostra dimitte nobis. Ab igne inferni defende nos. Perduc in caelum omnium animas in primis quae maxime misericordiae tuae indigent.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (fiery edition)

flores red yellow

These are out front of the rectory, reminding all and sundry, I would hope even me, of the fiery love of the Holy Spirit, who, at the intercession of the Immaculate Conception, fires us up to share the greatest love of our lives, Mary’s Divine Son Jesus, with those whom Providence places in our way from day to day.

Today, if possible, I will carrying Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament far and wide to the ICU and impossibly remote places. A great day off. I love being a priest. But that’s not because I have that love within me on my own as if I were anything special. No, no. That has nothing to do with me. I crucified the Son of the Living God with my sins. So, instead, that’s the Holy Spirit. I blame him. :¬)

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Put “Grey”[!] in perspective: humor

From time to time gracious readers remind me of a couple videos of the outdoor Stations of the Cross I had made while living above Elijah’s cave on Mount Carmel. The stations feature quite a lot of grey. Heart wrenching, really…

The music / singing comes from the cave of Elijah, which fairly continuously acts as a stage for choirs both Jewish (often IDF) and Catholic.

Readers of this blog know that I am rather annoyed right now with a certain “Grey”[!] guy: ♬ring♬ His safety isn’t guaranteed. It’s your fault if he dies. Stop him. *click*

So, one reader, not only reminded me of the grey in the videos above, but, for the sake of lightening it up a bit, for the sake of a bit of humor, for the sake of seeing what happens to “Grey”[!] guys when they are subjected to the intercession of the Immaculate Conception, also sent a link into this ultra-cute video. I had to smile, and laugh:

Thanks go that gracious reader.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (0001 – Genesis Thesis Student ed.)

GENESIS THESIS popular cover

Approbation for previous publishing: The thesis from which this popular version grew and developed with the encouragement of professors, friends and students was minimally published in Rome in 2007 in fulfillment of the requirements for the conferral of the doctoral degree.

benedict xvi coat of arms

— Vidimus et approbavimus, Romae, apud Pont. Universitatem S. Thomae, die 09, mensis maii, anni 2007: Joseph Agius, O.P., Stipe Jurič, O.P.
— IMPRIMATUR — Dal Vicariato di Roma, die 10, mensis maii, anni 2007: Mons. Mauro Parmeggiani, Prelato Segretario Generale.

The first edition can be found only in a handful of libraries, such as the Pontifical Biblical Institute, in the Genesis section of the non-reserved stacks [IX 15 18].

Cover picture and design: George David Byers

©2017 George David Byers

*     *     *

Inspiration and Thanksgiving

It was slate-gray day and cold, bone chilling, and I was alone in my equally bleak guest cell at the ancient Monastery of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Montefiascone on the ancient pilgrimage route from Europe to Rome, the Via Francingena, on 25 March, 2004, the Feast of the Annunciation to the Immaculate Virgin that she was to be the Mother of God. I had returned to Italy after years of teaching in seminaries around the world, under orders to write a doctoral thesis, about what I wasn’t sure. This was a retreat day, a momentary break from studies in Rome. I was accompanying a life-long friend who is now in the Pontifical Family in Vatican City State, who on that day was giving a day of recollection to the community of Benedictine nuns which had resided in the castle-like structure for some fourteen hundred years.

One tiny barred window high up on the stone wall facing a small street in the mountain village let in just enough light to make out the door, the bed and a tiny desk. Though feeling terribly useless as an exegete, I felt compelled to ask my guardian angel whether it might be possible for me to write a thesis on Genesis 2:4–3:24 that would be unto the greater glory of God, the salvation of souls, and the honor of the Mother of God, that is, should I proceed with what now, after the fact, has been described as a brutal, agonizing, unrelentingly scientific examination of the text, employing newly discovered depths of historical philology and linguistic analysis, looking for nothing in the text, reading nothing into the text, simply letting fierce reasoning bring to light whatever it will.
The response was immediate, though not with words nor any apparition. I was filled with an intensely reverential fear of the Lord beneath the weight of His glory. I went down on my knees and then went prostrate on the icy tiled floor as the heavens seemed to open up above my ineptitude and unworthiness. While I took this to be an affirmative answer, I also sensed what seemed to be the fierce judgment of my guardian angel that I had better become much more serious in my life.

Later, in the Sala dell’immacolata, the highly decorated chamber dedicated to the Immaculate Conception in the Vatican Museums that highlights especially the mariological contributions of Blessed Pope Pius IX, I again asked my guardian angel the same question and was flooded with a similar experience. “The angels are here!” I exclaimed to friends from Australia, leaving them amazed.

I recount these experiences in all simplicity. They add no authority to what is written. They add nothing to what is written. They subtracted much from what would have otherwise resulted, for they made me avoid novelty whether of my own or coming from commentators throughout the centuries. It was only the inspired text put to critical interrogation, as it were, which was enthralling to me, captivating.

Resulting fierce reasoning brought the attention of and necessitates thanksgiving to the professors of six Pontifical Universities, Academies and Institutes who were following the thesis, whether pleased with what they saw unfolding before them or dead set against the conclusions. As it is, I provided chapters to friends and to those I knew would find themselves in dire straits. All admitted that the logic of the thesis, the scientific analysis, was entirely unassailable, astounded to a man that faith and reason were not enemies of each other, what with faith purifying reason, making us fearless of including premises which ought to be present and fearless of purifying argumentation of illogical premises, placing us before the entirety of truth, rejoicing. The invitation to offer constructive criticism remains for readers of this popularized work. Tear it apart if you can. Make it better.

There is one criticism of the thesis for which I am not grateful. One professor of the Pontifical Biblical Institute was determined to hurt the publication as much as possible (against other professors of the same institution) since he reckoned that a thesis was not to come up with any advancement in scientific knowledge, but was instead to be limited to a mere recounting of disputation among some secondary sources. I do not believe such dark anxiety before the truth to be worthy of being called a unique contribution. One need merely rip away the foundations of specious argumentation that were based on historical philology more than a century out-of-date simply by referring to the advancements, and then get on with starting, as it were, from scratch, from these new foundations.

Many of my fellow students at the Pontifical Biblical Institute agreed that we are to endeavor to leave aside the frightened emotions of those who had entrenched their lives in mere repetition of self-serving academic political correctness so as to come to know the meaning of the text itself in its historical perspective. It is precisely this which has made the text come alive in all of its aspects as a communication of the Lord to all ages. It is this which promotes with courage the knowledge and study of theology, that is, as Pope Benedict XVI said, “a theology which out of love wants to know the Beloved better.”

Indeed, I am particularly thankful to the successor of Saint Peter, Benedict XVI. I am indebted to those in the Secretariat of State who met with me in June of 2007 in view of the Holy Father’s upcoming pilgrimage to Lourdes in 2008, where I would be a “permanent chaplain” for a number of years. Benedict’s Angelus address of September 14, 2008, during his pilgrimage, and the subsequent exchange of letters afterward – and the reversal of his most far reaching thoughts on original sin and the immaculate conception – were an encouragement without which this work could not have been completed. Pope Benedict is a priest’s priest, the best example of a humble scholar in love with the truth I have ever known.

Thanks also go to Cardinal Jorge-María Mejía for his encouragement throughout the years, as well as to Cardinal William Joseph Levada, who, when Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, sent me a letter with heretofore unpublished details concerning the World War II Archbishop of Paris, Emmanuel Célestin Cardinal Suhard.

I thank Rabbi David Rosen, whose stunning remarks and encouragement have been a major impetus to move forward with this project. I cannot but also thank Rabbi Alon Goshen-Gottstein for his support and dialogue of now very many years.

Thanks go to Joseph Agius, O.P., Rector Magnificus of the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Rome, who, as moderator for the thesis, made me promise during its defense to write this popular version, so that progress in understanding the Sacred Scriptures might be known far and wide. His non-interventionist approach afforded me rare and appreciated academic freedom for true scientific work, a hallmark of Dominican academic honesty. Thanks also go the second reader of the thesis, Stipe Jurič, O.P., S.S.D, who always provided me with a scholarly enthusiasm that remains an inspiration to this day. He said that the thesis was the best he had ever examined. I can only hope that this popular version will also be the best I can muster.

Heartfelt thanks go to friends who make up the administration and staff of the Biblicum library, those who were there at my home away from home during the time of my heaviest research and writing: Fr James Dugan, S.J., Camillo, Mauro, Gabriella, Maria, Rina, Fabrizio, Paolo, Raffaele, Ramón, Manuela, Lucia.

I am utterly indebted to Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity, O.C.D., and to Mother Lucy, O.S.B., for their lifetimes of prayer and penance for me, along with so many others who have taken me on as their project.  It is Arnold Franken whose expertise in cuneiform, his patience in research and in analyzing the thesis that brought the work to bear the fruit it has.

Special, filial thanks are reserved for my parents, George and Ann, now deceased, for their goodness and kindness; they were both always, always of great encouragement, and almost single handedly financed my years of study in Rome.

To the Virgin, Immaculate Mother of the Redeemer announced in Genesis 3:15, and to her divine Son, who provides us with the grace of enmity, making us the members of his body, and to those sword wielding angels in Genesis 3:24, true friends along the Way: thanks.

Πρῶτον μὲν εὐχαριστῶ τῷ θεῷ μου διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ περὶ πάντων ὑμῶν ὅτι ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν καταγγέλλεται ἐν ὅλῳ τῷ κόσμῳ. (Romans 1:8)

טוֹב לְהֹדוֹת לַיהוָה וּלְזַמֵּר לְשִׁמְךָ עֶלְיוֹן (Psalm 92:2)

καὶ ἐβλήθη ὁ δράκων ὁ μέγας, ὁ ὄφις ὁ ἀρχαῖος, ὁ καλούμενος Διάβολος καὶ ὁ Σατανᾶς, ὁ πλανῶν τὴν οἰκουμένην ὅλην, ἐβλήθη εἰς τὴν γῆν, καὶ οἱ ἄγγελοι αὐτοῦ μετ᾽ αὐτοῦ ἐβλήθησαν. (Apocalypse 12:9)


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♬ring♬ His safety isn’t guaranteed. It’s your fault if he dies. Stop him. *click*

PIB Jerusalem

This is one of those unfathomable, boring, for-the-record cryptic posts that only a few people will understand, which is fine by me.

It’s taken six and a half years, but the penny finally dropped. The phone call which I imagine from an Admiral high up in the U.S. DoD, to my ecclesiastical superior at the time, at the very beginning of January 2011, went, I surmise, something like this: ♬ring♬ This is Admiral […] George’s safety isn’t guaranteed. It’s your fault if he dies. Stop him. *click*

This Admiral, a good friend (we taught and lived at the same place and had plenty of mentoring conversations) was actually the one who, in the first place, had arranged my mission in the Holy Land with Israeli intelligence services. In those years, this would be the only way to go about this since the Israeli diplomatic corps whom I would have gone through was on strike for some 18 months already. No one was getting a visa, which is a problem when foreigners (Catholic priests and nuns) are about the only ones to run schools and orphanages and medical clinics for remote populations; to stay they have to get their visas renewed on a continual basis. They are denied.

The Admiral had the idea to have me to help out at the Holy Sepulcher and to have me teach Sacred Scripture at the doctoral level (for the SSD) at the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum of the Custody of the Holy Land, both of which are in the Old City of Jerusalem. Then he had the idea of having the Custos of “The Custody” personally take me across the Jordan river to Jordan, so as to install me in one of the more sensitive areas in the Middle East. Great, thought I.

After speaking with my superior and getting permission for all this, and then speaking to the Custos himself, I then, as instructed by that Admiral, went to the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. (impossible at any other embassy), and was surprised to see my Mossad friend, the same guy I had met up with over the years in Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem, wherever I happened to be. I was packed and all was ready with hours to the flight. And then my superior rushed up to me and breathlessly told me:

“Tell the Custos you’re cancelling your flight; you’re not going. You may well get killed and people will say it’s my fault.”

I was stunned by this sudden and last second reversal. “You tell him, since you’re the one reneging at the last second” I responded.

“It’s something to do with you, not me,” he said as he then quickly disappeared in the corridors of the monastery, flustered, but not before mentioning Egypt. That was when there was a bit of unrest in lower Egypt, you know, because of usage of Twitter accounts. Ooooo. Twitter unrest. As if there had never been unrest, Twittered or not, anywhere near the Near East, Middle East or any other East. What unrestful Twittering had to do with my going or not to the Holy Land I have no idea, but that was the excuse my superior had given me (coming up with that, it seems, on the spot) while he retreated into the shadows.”Just, wow,” thought I. So, I had to call the Custos.

The Custos – because of Saint Francis before him – is revered a thousand times more in the Holy Land than any Pope of Rome (and that’s the honest truth of it). He was really very upset with me, but understood and supported me in my predicament of religious obedience and appreciated that I agreed with him that the reason given by my superior about Twittered unrest seemed more than just a little strange. That couldn’t be the reason. Period. Indeed. For all these years since then I’ve remained flummoxed as to why my superior did this.

There was no reasoning with my superior. Telling him that this sudden change in plans would traumatically disrupt the lives of priests in France, Germany and Austria (as the Custos told me), not to mention in the Holy Land (Yikes!), did not phase him one bit, but only appeared to put him under unbearable pressure. My insisting that a disrupted schedule (they had already changed this in my favor) could result in catastrophic changes to the status quo left him unmoved (though that could have brought far reaching ecumenical and civil-political disturbances with no good result). My superior, obviously fearful of something, appeared to want to tell me something but would not or could not. I reckon the phone call to him that I’m imagining — ♬ring♬ This is Admiral […] George’s safety isn’t guaranteed. It’s your fault if he dies. Stop him. *click* — was still ringing in his ears.

Finally, just recently, the penny dropped. I think I now understand what really happened. As time drew very near to get on the plane, the flight manifest was finally being given a very thorough going over as happens with flights, especially into Israel, particularly flying with ElאלALעל. They now noticed the code attached to my SSN/Passport. That code was promised to be there in perpetuity as a “hit” from the State Department. A phone number was given to me at the time to call in case I ever needed help. That phone number goes to the director of the Political/Military Foreign Security Assistance Non-Defensive[!] Ops directorate at Main State of the Department of State. [I like that: “non-defensive” = black ops.] Background as to why a perpetual protection order had been put in place for me decades ago might well be unknown today except perhaps to all but the director of the CIA with one or two others, also, perhaps, at Main State (as I’m told by many who would know how this perpetual protection order works as this is what they do). Yet, the connection of names I have with the one I call my “Shadow” (who took over my identity as if I were as good as dead way back in the 1970s unbenounced to me for some 14 years) is quite possibly shareable information via unmasking when there is a security request from the IC of friendly countries. I’m guessing that the Israelis saw a logistical conflict, called up our mutual close friend, the Admiral, and asked him to stop me, since, after all, this was the Admiral’s project. The Admiral, regretting the circumstance, called my superior and that was the end of that.

As it is, “Grey”[!] as he may be, my “Shadow”, in fact, likes to mess around in all things political and violent in the Near and Middle East. If, say, he was in Jerusalem at the time or if he was dealing with anyone that knew anything about Jerusalem at the time, even from a distance, it just wouldn’t do to have his “identity” (me) in Jerusalem and Jordan in a couple of highly scrutinized offices just happening to look like him and the same age as him with the same name and everything else as him, even talking directly with the terrorist crowd (those on “the list”) for recreation as I was wont to do, and I must say, had a talent for so doing.

That isn’t to protect me as if I were someone important. No, no. The point is that I’m so incredibly unimportant and expendable that basically I’ve already been killed off by my “Shadow” anyway inasmuch as he’s taken over my identity. If there were to be any logistical conflict, I would be the one to bite the dust. I’m just nothing, of no consequence, to be ignored, Styrofoam, or perhaps “Grey”[!]. No, not “Grey”[!]. My shadow, conversely, has become so important while being entrenched under my identity (the perfect “Grey”[!] experience), that, while my remaining alive helps him in his effort to be “Grey”[!] and for him to be protected at all costs as “Grey”[!], it would be better if I just weren’t in the same place at the same time as him.

What got me thinking about this is a number of recent phone calls and text messages my “Shadow” and I have had in the last week or so. Some points:

  • He was stunned when I put him off from sending me money ($100 monthly). I told him it was to no purpose, looking as it did like extortion against him or him bribing me. I simply don’t need his money. He was speechless. Didn’t say a word. Nothing.
  • He put new pressure on me to have his property signed over to me, but not that I could sell it and keep the money. Nor was this any kind of trust. No. He wanted to continue to use the property, just under my name, further giving the appearance to all and sundry that he and I are the same person.
  • I told him that I didn’t know what he was up to and that I felt myself to be in danger either from his disgruntled “clients” on the one hand or from low level LEOs trying to be heroes on the other hand, the latter thinking they are capturing him even while they are cuffing me. As he told me once, with quite a bit of impatience, going to jail or prison is just part of the work and that I should just get over it. Feds bait people, a lot, and they can look like pretty bad criminals. I asked him to provide me with some jacked up Main State docs so that I could have the guarantee of being free of that harassment (immunity and inviolability). His response was that he wasn’t that sophisticated, which could either mean that of all the IDs he does manufacture[!], one from the State Department was presently beyond his abilities, or that he simply wasn’t far enough up the food chain to ask for such a thing (or conversely, so far up the food chain that he simply couldn’t be known as such even from within). Nothing is as it seems.
  • When I responded to his refusal by saying that I would just contact the Security Assistance director myself so as to put in such a request… well… oh my… the reaction from him was… well… oh my…

Anyway, I have the director of that office at Main State on speed dial…

The last time I went to Main State and accessed the bio of the director of the Security office, his bio was immediately removed from the internet. When I mentioned that on this blog, a note went up on the DoS that his bio was removed because they were, you know, renovating their web site. Well, they’ve done that, for a long time now. It’s the only bio that has not gone up. Here it is in full:

[He] is a career member of the Senior Executive Service and serves as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Plans, Programs, and Operations in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs. He is responsible for managing approximately $6 billion in U.S. security assistance annually; providing State Department input for Department of Defense planning and posture; managing a Presidential initiative to expand worldwide peacekeeping capacity; overseeing conventional weapons destruction efforts; handling State-DoD coordination on significant military exercises and operational issues; and managing State-Defense personnel exchange matters.

Before joining the Department of State in September 2006, [he] worked as a relationship manager for […] Homeland Security, where he planned and coordinated the development of technology solutions for several U.S. government clients utilizing a wide spectrum of scientific and technical capabilities resident in […].

Prior to joining […], [he] served 26 years as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps where he commanded infantry units ranging in size from a 40-man rifle platoon to a 1,200-man Battalion Landing Team. He was also designated a China Foreign Area Officer. In his final assignment on active duty, […] served in the Pentagon for four years as Head of the International Issues Branch at Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, the senior uniformed foreign policy advisor to the Commandant of the Marine Corps and the Marine Corps staff, with principal responsibility for formulating and coordinating policy dealing with all political-military / international issues for the Marine Corps.



Filed under Father Byers Autobiography, Intelligence Community, Military

Flores for the Immaculate Conception (the more things change edition)

flores buds

These are in front of Prince of Peace Catholic Mission in Robbinsville NC just over the Mountain in Graham County, the northern part of the parish.

Each flower is unique over the gazillion years that this type has been around, and yet the more things change the more they are the same. Nothing new under the sun.

I would like to add something new to there being no change for ten years with my not coming up with a popular version of the thesis on Genesis 2:4–3:24 with particular emphasis on Genesis 3:15 though I had promised to do up a readable edition for those not expert in historical philology of everything from Hebrew back to Cuneiform. Saint Ephraem the Syrian is the very first one who is cited in the thesis:


Brock translates that nicely:

“When I reached that verse wherein is written the story of Paradise, it lifted me up and transported me from the bosom of the book, to the very bosom of Paradise.”


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My priesthood distracted by Shadows


Just another boring for-the-record post only a couple of people understand. Sorry.

A few weeks ago I had an unexpected day off at the hermitage. In between reading the Scriptures, praying, taking pictures of the incredibly varied eco-system in that doubled-over rain forest, resting a bit, I put out more than just a few rounds from my Glock, just to relax, just to get sharpened up a bit, although adrenaline is exhausting. I had a rather extreme target made up of coffee jug lids, overlapping as you might have with a perp behind and a human-shield in front. As I say, it’s the shot that cannot be taken and a shot the police are pretty much forbidden to take. But it’s the more difficult practice which makes lesser situations easier. Here they are:

target hostage 1

But I was out at nine yards, 27 feet, gun holstered, turned away from the target. All double taps, because, hey, if you miss off to your left looking at this (you don’t want to hit anything on the right, right?) you then take an immediate second shot if the first doesn’t remove the threat. For me, the second shot is always more accurate than the first, perhaps because I’m still not used to the odd Glock trigger). You can see the target in the upper-center of the picture if you’re not distracted by the shadows:

target hostage 2

Unless the perp is wildly shooting at anyone and everyone, there is usually abundant time to say ever so calmly something like, “Just let the (wo)man go.” He thinks you’re going to negotiate, ignoring your predictable brandishing and aiming at his eye that is farthest from the hostage. *tap*tap* I had the whole day, with broken up sessions. Altogether about 350 rounds went out, two by two, with none hitting the “hostage.” But I say, let yourself get sloppy. See if you miss. If you do, hitting the “hostage” (a good practice experience), look to see if your first reaction is to be upset with your bad aim or sorry that you hit the “hostage.” If the former, well, you better pray about that. That’s messed up. Anyway, this surely cleared my mind, a nice break. Anyway…

I’m sure you remember my “Shadow,” who took over my identity in the mid-late 1970s, I only finding out about this some 14 to 16 years later (1992) from those individuals at Main State (primary building of the Dept of State) in Foggy Bottom who, giving themselves totally innocuous titles for my situation, like CA/FPP and OCS/CCS/ARA, instead, in their real life-long jobs for Main State and embassies around the world, actually set up and run foreign non-defensive[!] special “security” ops also involving arms transfers and drug ops, coordinating the best of the best from the Dept of Defense (Seals, Delta, Green Berets…), the Pentagon, and various three letter groups (not your usual office workers for simple identity theft that happens to about 18 million people a year in the USA alone). In 1996 the FBI said that my Shadow was no longer a bad guy, though he was and is still using my identity, so, instead of stopping him[!], they gave me a false passport without me asking for it for my own protection (not that they cared about me other than that my being alive assisted my Shadow). The guy from the FBI (a low-level cover for the CIA in this case, as “The Guy” told me) insisted that the instructions I received about this from Main State were true, that this would be something I would deal with in perpetuity. In other words, there’s no way they are going to interfere with my Shadow doing what he needs to do just because little old me is ever inconvenienced. It now seems to me that my Shadow has been working for them even from the beginning, with them telling him to get a clean identity and I being at hand with a clean identity, all my ID documents likes ducks in a row, and I having his looks and his age (No, I do not have a twin brother). I’m guessing now that they got him when he was still in University, taking international affairs and political science courses. My naive, unwitting availability is the absolute ideal situation for a “Grey” guy, whose otherwise would-be fall-guy (me…) has an absolutely clean record. Well…

Not long after my rather successful target practice session mentioned above my “Shadow” started a texting/phoning campaign with me, attempting to get me to be the owner of a property of his. This wasn’t to give me the property, but to get him out of possible trouble, which may itself be illegal on my part considering his circumstances. While he skips the country for a while, that would put me in prison, which may well be the point. As he said to me once: “Going to prison is just part of it; you just do it; no big deal; get over it.” He once tried to get me to pay someone to do his prison time for him in Mexico. No thanks, and no thanks. Why should I do any of that? I don’t know what he’s up to, even if it is with Main State. He’s intent on this property thing (and not just now as this is something he’s been trying to get me to do for years), using me, playing me all the more. It’s not that the proper authorities don’t know this. He is himself one of the programs of Political-Military Affairs at Main State. Did I say he lives not inordinately far from USSOCOM?

I don’t mean to unmask him – and I haven’t done that so far – but this is getting annoying. I did unmask one CIA guy before, and there was no argument because, really, he shouldn’t have been doing what he was doing. Some of these programs my Shadow has been involved with may well have gotten a lot of people killed (using my name to entrench under). And my Shadow can stop me, at will, from doing what I would otherwise do as a priest. For instance, if it wasn’t for my Shadow, I think I would now have been in the near and middle East for the past 6 1/2 years (another story). I just don’t think that it’s right for Political-Military Affairs to have any influence on the assignments of priests.

What to do?


Filed under Father Byers Autobiography, Guns, Interreligious dialogue, Military

Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (important even if rushed edition)

flores leopard

I think our Lord Jesus, good Son of the Immaculate Conception as He is, created such flowers as these for those times when there’s simply no time to collect an otherwise varied bouquet to present to such a good mom as herself. You just have to pick one and you already have a whole bunch, already arranged, which can be easily popped in a vase with a bit of water. And they’re so beautiful, for her. Somehow, some way, there’s always time for flowers for the Immaculate Conception, because that‘s what’s important.


Filed under Flores

When’s the last time you peed-in-your-pants-laughed, a great time in life?

Some guy put a few clips together with Navy Seal guy David Rutherford giving a bit of instruction. I like it. I like it a lot. Draw the analogies with your own life, whatever your circumstances happen to be.

For instance, he mentions being mentored and mentoring, a huge part of the daily life of any priest who takes his priesthood seriously with not only spiritual direction and confession, but also just guys of like mind getting together, which is important. This past week I had a lot of days like this entire speech, which I so much enjoyed I just about had a pee in my pants laugh with a bunch of great guys who likewise erupted into pretty intense spontaneous laughter as we, of course, went on solving all the problems in the Church and world. Not levity, this. No. Just really good times. I love being a priest. One of the guys is on a very fast track to getting the nod by the Combat Applications Group (Delta Force). Really great guys. We’ll be keeping in contact.

Again, there’s much here that is applicable to everyone’s life, even if… even if… we are no longer in good health as the years have slipped by, even if circumstances in life have had our friends not only abandon us but betray us, even if God Himself seems distant and that we are being smacked down so that it seems our very bones are being crushed, as the psalmist says. This is what all the saints go through, and at such times it is our guardian angels who come to the fore, Jesus Himself, our Blessed Mother, heaven itself. Quite the team, that. And the fire of the Holy Spirit inflames.


Filed under Military, Priesthood, Spiritual life, Vocations

Mass today for Bishop David Choby

bishop david choby

He died on Pentecost. May he rest in peace. I’ll offer Mass for him today.

I first met Bishop Choby at lunch after a first vows Mass for the Nashville Dominicans. As priests and religious took their seats at lunch I noted that no one had sat at his table, so I did. Soon the preacher for the Mass came to sit with us. Interrogation is the only word I can come up with for the conversation that ensued between he and the other priest, pleasant as it was. After a full twenty minutes of grilling this priest, and it not at all being apparent whether or not Bishop Choby was pleased with what he heard, he then invited the priest to give a retreat to all of his diocesan priests. That made me quietly chuckle.

But then the good bishop turned his attention to me, and then the whole interrogation thing repeated itself for another twenty minutes, with the subjects beings Scripture, the Fathers of the Church, Theology, Philosophy, the state of seminaries these days, and everything in minute detail about my life since I was a kid until that moment, it never being apparent whether he liked what he heard or not, this also leaving the other priest amazed. But then the Bishop, without asking me about it, simply announced that he was going to make a phone call the next day to my superior and to the new rector at the seminary he was sending his guys to, and that I should expect a call from all three of them the next morning, and that I should get ready in the next day or so to make the 700 mile round trip up to the seminary. So, O.K. That was my fate sealed for the foreseeable future. That’s a bishop. He will be missed.


Filed under Priesthood, Vocations

Extreme Sport Jesus, Extreme Sport Priests, the Father’s Heart


Prominent at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Hanceville, Alabama, is the Child Jesus holding His heart out to those entering into the temple. Being small in stature as a Child, He doesn’t want to be unseen among all that is “seen and unseen,” and so it seems that He’s jumped up on a high pillar, eager to let us know of His love for us. That’s Extreme Sport Jesus.


However, when His priests, eager to be like Jesus in all things, go on retreat at “The Barn” just a stone’s throw away (if one has a good throwing arm), they are gently reminded by those with a more highly developed sense of decorum than any merely human priest is likely to have, that not all manner of extreme sports is always acceptable in every place at every time. Thus, take a close look at the welcome sign that is personalized for those are arriving.

welcome sign

Notice the invitation to the priests to get to their rooms by way of the stairs or the elevator. All the rooms are on the second floor of the building. This invitation is apparently necessary because otherwise the priests would be leaping up to and crashing through the windows of their rooms in the same way the Child Jesus leaped up on the pillar as pictured above. Ha ha ha.

The thing is, Jesus was known at other times to be lifted up high, whether to the pinnacle of the Temple by Satan or to the heights of the cross because of our sins. We ourselves witness the latter when we attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Last Supper united with Calvary by the twofold wedding vows of Jesus with His Bride, the Church: This is my body given for you in sacrifice, my blood poured out for you in sacrifice…

The thing is, Jesus’ priests daily act in Persona Christi (in the very Person of Christ) in reciting those vows, those consecrations, in the first person singular: my body… my blood… And thus they at least should themselves be temples of the Holy Spirit, their bodies living sacrifices, they crucified to the world, to themselves, living only for the Lord, the Most High.

That purity of soul, that agility of spirit has nothing whatsoever to do with them, but is entirely the work of the goodness and kindness of Jesus. They are not holy of themselves, but Jesus is. They of themselves are not good and kind, but Jesus is. And yet, both Jesus and His priests are of necessity with such cooperation and teamwork, expert in such extreme sport if you will, of leaping up to the very heights where all are drawn to Jesus (see John 12:32).

But more than this, Jesus shows His extreme sport enthusiasm right to the end, when, at the end of His earthly sojourn He ascends to the heavens. Instead of being so tempted to be separated from Jesus by watching His goodness and kindness and truth in action even quite apart from ourselves before His ascension into heaven, we are now bidden because of His ascension to live ourselves His goodness and kindness and truth, being built in this way into the many dwelling places of the Most High, creation itself being set on fire with the fiery love of the Holy Spirit by way of our being formed now more and more into the very image of Jesus, He the Head, we the members of the body, the Father loving us as He loves Jesus, the same act of love of the Father, simultaneous. The Father’s love for Jesus is the Father’s love for us, no before or after, the same love. How much the Father loves us: the Heart that the Child Jesus holds out to us is the very Heart of the Father.

P.S. I finally got back to the parish in Western North Carolina. I will miss The Barn and those who carry out their apostolate there.


Filed under Missionaries of Mercy

Lourdes grotto

That was made in Lourdes, France, but I’m in Hanceville, Alabama, at the Lourdes grotto not far from the Barn. Hey! There’s bandwidth! So, I wish that this were the statue in France…

The last days have been going very well. The meeting yesterday couldn’t have gone better. I have much for which to be thankful including a resolution about the popular version of the thesis. That was inspired by Pope JPII.


Filed under Uncategorized

Meanwhile, Ever Ancient, Ever New

Meanwhile, over at These Stone Walls…

Note to readers from Father Gordon MacRae: On June 5, I will mark my 35th anniversary of priesthood ordination.  Two-thirds of my time as a priest has been spent cast into one of the dark peripheries to which Pope Francis points the days of the Church.  I struggled, really struggled, to write a post for this week to make this occasion.  I mailed it, but alas, eight days later it had not yet arrived.  So my post will be featured here next Wednesday, God willing.  In a pinch, I invited (begged is more like it) Father Stuart MacDonald to write in my stead this week.  He had no idea of anything I had written about priesthood, nor did I give him a topic.  On the night before this is posted, his guest post was read to me and it is perfect.  It is powerful.  And it is the truth. I humbly ask you on behalf of all priests to share this post, to pray for us priests, and to return next week for my voice from the wilderness.  With Divine Mercy Blessings, Father Gordon MacRae


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Filed under Priesthood, Vocations

Follow-up on Father Gordon J MacRae’s health: great news.


Last week the post Fr MacRae’s request of Padre Pio: help! was published here and on Father Gordon J MacRae’s Facebook Page. That got 915 shares as of this writing, with quite a good number those people being pray-ers. This was a request for Padre Pio’s help. There is news. This morning during our usual hour-long telephone conversation, I asked Father Gordon if there was any news on the health front. Here are some notes of what he said:

  • My neck is substantially better.
  • I can use my right shoulder.
  • The pain is gone entirely. I can move my head more than I have been able to in the last number of years.
  • And the lump has receded enormously.
  • And we have not yet been moved.
  • Padre Pio came through. I thanked him last night for coming through.
  • Thank everyone for all the prayers. Their prayers are very efficacious.

So, there you have it. Now, I have another few requests:

  • Thank Padre Pio for coming through.
  • Continue to ask Padre Pio about the resolution of Father Gordon’s situation.
  • And please, please, say a wee prayer for each other, as I’m afraid that quite a number of you did up some extraordinary prayers and sacrifices for Father Gordon and need a bit of support from each other as well. Hail Mary…

Thank you all for showing Jesus’ goodness and kindness to Father Gordon.


Filed under Missionaries of Mercy, Priesthood, Spiritual life, Vocations

Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Halliburton, Redstone Arsenal edition)

flores avalanche

This avalanche of flowers on one tree are just outside the one room apartment of a 92 year old lady I visit regularly on the most remote ridge on the Appalachian Trail. She knows what the real battle is while we are in this world, the battle for souls, to help them know Jesus, to help them get to heaven. She’s most dedicated to our Lady.

Not that she doesn’t know about everything to do with the war efforts of this world. She was born some six or seven years after the First World War, growing up as a military brat, so to speak. By the Second World War, she was assistant to the top brass in what has a long history of familiar names, going from  Chemtronics Superfund to Oerlikon Tool and Arms Corporation to Celanese Corporation to Northrop Carolina Incorporated back to Chemtronics but as a subsidiary of Halliburton. To this day she still has the top brass associated with Redstone Arsenal visiting her. Redstone is historically over the Halliburton chemical waste nightmare mentioned above.

Completing the triangle over the back ridges of the mountains here is a military installation around Knoxville, just over the dragon’s tail, as they call it. But surely the existence of liquid plutonium in the midst of all this is controversial, you know, just like it is controverted as to whether Pluto, after which it is named, is even a planet. This would be a total destruction objection in any war, the number 3 target, only some miles away…

Meanwhile…. meanwhile… real life goes on, life which will last forever, and for which we must prepare, as it will be our time much, much sooner than later before we come to know the results of the battle for souls that we are in now. Saint Paul speaks of this battle:

Ephesians 6:11-18 — Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all (the) flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit. To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy ones.

The Immaculate Conception stood in the midst of the battle on Calvary next to the one Soldier who lays down His life for us, but then rises from the dead. It’s enough to make you want to give our Lady a veritable avalanche of flowers.

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Filed under Flores, Military

Aerosmith’s “Dream On” and terrorism victims

aerosmith dream on

Lots of terrorism going on these days. People have different responses to terrorism. For anyone who is Catholic, the setting of the above response is really creepy, however well intended by the participants. This is obviously an ex-Catholic Church perhaps in Boston and they are singing this as a kind of requiem for the victims of the terrorism of the Boston Marathon Bombing. It would be incomparably better if the requiem was the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I wouldn’t watch the above video if I were you. Having said all that, there are some good things, great things even, exceptionally superb in the original song. This is the best version, with just lyrics:

Aerosmith: “Dream On” [correct lyrics below]

Every time when I look in the mirror
All these lines on my face getting clearer
The past is gone
It went by like dusk to dawn
Isn’t that the way
Everybody’s got the dues in life to pay [“Dues in life” is a reference to justice in a stanza filled with honesty and humility before the consequences of sin as serious as death. Truth be told, not many are so honest, even among religious leaders. Moveover, there is a leveling out here, not one who is more or less guilty. This is very close to a description of the consequences of original sin.]

Yeah. [He’s answering objections about how we know about the consequences of what? Original sin?] I know nobody knows
Where it comes and where it goes [“it” = mysterium iniquitatis, the mystery of iniquity, because it truly is a mystery, as mentioned by so many of the Fathers of the Church and in Magisterial interventions (such as with Saint John Paul II), for how can we fathom how evil was chosen over good, and how can we even begin to fathom the damage as this specter marches on in slaughter right through the ages and epochs of the full length of time]
I know it’s “Everybody sins” [That’s one incomplete but effectively correct way to put it]
You got to lose to know how to win [There you go. Very cool. Just be humble and realize what the situation is, not futilely attempting to run away from it, not denying it, but facing it, and so now ending the losing and beginning to win, as it’s only with such humility that one can turn, or better be turned to that which is right.]

Half my life
Is in books’ written pages [humanity is so similar, with other peoples’ lives acting like a mirror to our own lives, and yet we have individuality, free will, choices…]
Live and learn from fools and
From sages [as there is much more going on with each of us, the currents running deep with each of us, regardless of whether others correctly or incorrectly label us as fools or as sages, it being that we’re a little of both.]
You know it’s true, oh
All the things come back to you [Yes, we always have opportunities to reflect, to learn.]

Sing with me, sing for the year
Sing for the laughter and sing for the tear
Sing with me, just for today [all this being reminiscent of the Preacher, Ecclesiastes, Qoheleth: there’s a time for…]
Maybe tomorrow, the good Lord will take you away [But have you been humble?]

Yeah, sing with me, sing for the year
Sing for the laughter and sing for the tear
Sing with me, just for today
Maybe tomorrow, the good Lord will take you away [Repetition: encouragement]

Dream on
Dream on
Dream on
Dream until your dreams come true [the dream, the aspiration, the desire, is that in being humble, that is, honest in the face of what life has become after original sin, we can hope that the Lord will take us from this vale of tears and away to heaven.]
Dream on
Dream on
Dream on
Dream until your dreams come true
Dream on
Dream on
Dream on
Dream on
Dream on
Dream on
Dream on, aw…

Sing with me, sing for the year
Sing for the laughter, sing for the tear
Sing with me, just for today
Maybe tomorrow, the good Lord will take you away
Sing with me, sing for the year
Sing for the laughter, sing for the tear
Sing with me, just for today
Maybe tomorrow, the good Lord will take you away [I like it; I like it a lot.]

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Filed under Song analysis

Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (little kid style in prayer edition)

shepherd boy

As it should be for all of us.

But it’s not.

Oooo! I’m not worthy! I’m too… you know… or not enough… you know… whatever!

So let’s take a more emotional example. How about being about to die?

rescue by helicopter

Now you might object in saying that the two scenes are different, so that the little boy, without baggage of self condemnation was able to run up and make his little offering out of love, but that the person being rescued, with however much baggage of apologies for not being a good swimmer or whatever other non sequitur nevertheless just gets over it and allows the rescue to happen, you know, because it’s forced.

And then you might object further in saying that while not being forced in prayer by such a dramatic rescue in progress, we who do have baggage of self condemnation and so don’t allow ourselves to run up to our Lord with flowers for the Immaculate Conception, and that there is no way out of this.

And you know, of course, that the lack of motivation comes from a lack of humility, a kind of self blinding, in which we don’t allow ourselves to see that the urgency of being humble and the urgency of running up to our Lord with a flower for the Immaculate Conception is just that urgent as a life or death rescue, and that our Lord is rescuing us by having us run up to Him with a flower for the Immaculate Conception with the simplicity and hope and love and eagerness and awe and wonder of that little guardian of the flock.

Note that in both cases there is eagerness on the face of Jesus and the first responder. And that eagerness is still there even if and especially if we are in full recognition of our unworthiness and nevertheless just get over ourselves and allow ourselves to be rescued whether in the turbulence of a storm or in the simplicity of a lazy Summer day.

Think about it. The two scenes are exactly identical. There is the same eager thanksgiving on the part of the little boy and the person being rescued. Right?

The question is, how does one get that humility since we can’t give ourselves what we don’t have: Nemo dat quod non habet. Fine. We can ask for this by grace. We make a little offering of ourselves, our gift being allowing ourselves by grace to be rescued by grace.

Some are shy of saying, “I love you” to Jesus and Mary, thinking that their baggage, their weakness, their temptation, their chaos, their distraction, their ineptness, their dullness, their… whatever… makes this assertion no more than rank hypocrisy. Some push through anyway, knowing by grace that Jesus and Mary love to hear us say “I love you,” knowing that we are being saved and so it’s not hypocrisy but is really O.K., even good, even very good.

Personally, I’m still a little bit shy of saying such a thing as “I love you” without asserting a preface: “Thanks for saving me, rescuing me; I love you.” Same difference but it’s just a lot easier for me, and helps me to notice the wounds on Jesus, and helps me not to emphasize myself, pointing out that my love is His love given to me, His love which rescues me.

“Here’s a flower for the Immaculate Conception; thanks for rescuing me, Jesus; I love you both.”


Filed under Flores, Missionaries of Mercy, Spiritual life

This is why KRYPTOS should be easy

brennan gowdy

“I don’t do evidence,” Brennan replied, speaking instead of “intelligence.” Gowdy gets the distinction perfectly. Brennan replied with perfect clarity. Great. Now, if we could only get all the field crowd of the Company to deeply understand that, we would have something. I always fall back on the perfectly logical statement of Donald Rumsfeld:

Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.

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Filed under Intelligence Community, Politics, Terrorism

Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Laudie-Dog Thunder-Rain-Dog edition)

mary shrine backyard rain

It was only some hours that had gone by after the shrine of the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception went up when torrential rain came down with all sort of thunderous carry-on in the heavens echoing in and around the mountain valleys. Normally, this would make Laudie-dog frantic with fear, hyperventilating, shaking, freezing in place with nowhere being good enough to hide, but this time she has such a winning smile:

laudie-dog smile

Now that’s a lesson we can all take to heart.


Filed under Dogs, Flores

Casting light on my Shadow’s Shadow

This is just one of those boring, cryptic, unintelligible “for-the-record” posts which, this time, is about my Shadow’s Shadow, a really nice lady. I’ve been terribly baiting her to see who she could possibly be, saying outrageous things, knowing I could be terribly wrong. But, hey, mysteries are mysteries, and this method of madness has always worked for me. She’s just a couple years older than myself, the same age as my own Shadow. She did extraordinarily well at “tough” and “technical” universities and institutes. She is incredibly good with guns, is a super devout Catholic, is a medical doctor while at the same time being a world-class bio researcher who has an eye to international implications of her discoveries. And, besides all that, she’s really, really smart, has almost perfect recall, and is a computer genius. I’m guessing she got picked up by the CIA way back in the day through Main State’s bureau for political/military affairs recruiters (the bureau that’s connected with yours truly), and has worked her way into the “Administration” with high clearances which she already had another way. At this point in her career, I’m guessing she’s a consultor for the really tough cases. My own Shadow is a really tough case. Hey, maybe I am too. And another mutual friend as well. It’s actually not true, but, there’s no convincing some people. Anyway, she definitely has two lives going on, one cover for the other and most of her time spent at her day job is spent on what that’s a cover for. I’m guessing she’s a Patriot of extraordinary measures, who is on the cutting edge, as it were, of information collection, using her talents on subjects who are willing and those who have lost their right to say whether they are willing. There’s a lot of dead times. Anyway, she seems to have liked my comment on irony so much in my last related post that she flew away 2,565.19 miles (to be exact) from where she was near my own Shadow. Maybe there’s a replacement. Time to go see my Shadow, maybe, perhaps. Anyway, I recommend KRYPTOS. ;-)

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Filed under Guns, Intelligence Community, Military