On dying, death and purgatory

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Allow me to share a couple of stories from the rehab / nursing homes of the parish. This is my joy in life, going to the rehab / nursing homes / hospitals / …

Diane:

I’ve been regularly visiting an elderly lady, Diane by name, at Valley View nursing home for many months. She received all the sacraments and last rites and got all the Pontifical blessings and indulgences. We prayed together some hours previous to her passing on, preceding the rest of us who remain – for the moment – here on earth.

I told her that she was leading the way, that we would soon follow. She expressed some fear. But grace was with her. She took in my words, inept as they were, about being at peace because Jesus has a good grip on her soul, flooded with grace as she was with so many sacraments and the rest. She became so peaceful. She was so very thankful. “Thank you, Father,” she weakly whispered many times. Such a gentle soul. Such a good soul.

As I heard from one of the nurses later, the door to her room was open, as usual, and, across the hallway, many of the residents were eating in the dining room, which also had its doors open. What I report next tends to give shivers to the listeners, with smiles and wide eyes of wonder. As seen from the dining room, a super bright light filled Diane’s room, like the flash of a soul come to life after a long exile upon earth: “The light was so very bright, and filling her room, so bright” recounted one of the residents in the dining room. That’s, of course, when she died. May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen. Hail Mary…

Marie:

Marie’s good sister, Cathy, is the one who put that sticky note pictured on the top of this post on the door of Marie’s room just as I was about to knock. “No priests allowed” – with a smiley face, mind you. Hahaha. What it means is that I’m not allowed to have a room in the rehab / nursing home and be one way to heaven before anyone else. They want all the sacraments and such so as to be on their way in good order.

There were many visitors there. Lots of laughter, some tears. Marie received a pretty devastating diagnosis. Going back another day, I was greeted outside the room by this new sticky note:

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Not that I’m a “good priest.” Hahaha. You might as well say, “No Father George allowed.” Anyway, this thing about being a good priest quickly turned into a discussion about purgatory, what with me saying that even though I’m so evil and bad, I still want to go to heaven. Miss Marie, as always, is want to say the following:

“Oh, that’s right Father George, just go ahead and go to heaven right now and then end up in purgatory until the. end. of. the. world. Or, you can wait until Jesus calls you and then you can go straight to heaven. Your choice, Father George.”

Stunning, really. Said like a modern day Saint Catherine of Siena who spoke so eloquently about purgatory.

This went on to a discussion about Saint Therese of Lisieux and her desire to go straight to heaven. She was berated by an elderly nun who said that she herself feared Jesus as the great Administrator of Justice and that she expected to be in purgatory. She died before Therese did, and appeared to Therese from purgatory to say that she was there because of concentrating on justice over against mercy. These two go hand in hand. Saint Therese, trusting in Jesus’ friendship, who Himself is eager to be good friends with us, calling us His friends, seems to have gone straight to heaven.

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Pope Francis: Let *us* journey together. What about Jesus?

World Youth Day 2016 Pope Francis and Jesus

There is no dialogue between Jesus and Peter regarding confirming the brethren in the faith. Jesus commanded Peter that when he converted he would be under constraint to confirm the brethren in the faith. Period. No dialogue. No ifs, ands or buts.

I must be a bad priest, a terrible Missionary of Mercy of Pope Francis…

I always tell people to walk with Jesus, to walk in God’s presence, to be bound to the love and truth and honesty and integrity and goodness and kindness of Jesus, all in humble thanksgiving before Jesus, in a reverence of friendship with Jesus, promptly eager to learn more of the love AND truth of Jesus, promptly eager to be faithful, loyal, with purity of heart and agility of soul as we are brought by Jesus to be close to Him, as it’s all about Jesus, with Jesus being The OneThe Only One, whose loving truth is stronger than our weakness, stronger than temptation, stronger than our darkness, stronger than our feeling distant from God, stronger than death, so strong that in loving Jesus we will keep the commandments, as He said. In one’s weakness one learns to thank Jesus for His overwhelming strength. This is about love and truth.

I never tell people who are already believers but just feeling a bit weak to go ahead and sin, thus putting themselves on some sort of journey. That would throw one into ambiguity, confusion, with lack of clarity bringing zero hope of change for the better, always being smacked down into depression and despair every time one wants to follow clear truth in Jesus and clear morality in Jesus, being told that it’s only and always a journey which never ends, so that we never meet Jesus, never meet Him who is Truth, Him who is Love, but instead we are always to come up with excuses for ourselves in all casuistry as to why ignoring Jesus is best for us who are a journeying people, a people of dialogue, a people incapable of knowing the truth, never being able to keep the commandments, never becoming friends with Jesus, always insulted that we are perpetually lusty thieves and liars who can never change and so we are to give up trying by always coming up with one more excuse, being content with the dark and distressing walk through the peripheries only to be hacked down by others as evil as ourselves, or hacking others down because, in the always unending dialogue, it just is what it is.

As a confessor, a Missionary of Mercy of Pope Francis, instead of finding excuses for sin (which is solicitation by the way), I’ve always instead found that presenting Jesus’ love and encouragement is the way, the only way. Jesus is the way. He’s our truth. He’s our life.

In all of this I have NO IDEA what Pope Francis teaches, what he wants. Nothing. It’s always and only contradictions. It’s kinda good one day. It’s all BS the next. Nothing. Even the something is nothing as it’s then mocked with a contradiction. What to do?

What to do is to not give that maelstrom a second thought. Don’t go near it. Leave it be. What we must do is to be close to Jesus, keeping up with the sacraments. We must be holy. We must be saints. We must go to heaven. And… and… it is a great joy, a profound joy to be with Jesus, to thank Jesus. He truly is the One, the Only One.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Hidden with Christ in God, edition)

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The garden out front of the church has grown up in wild serenity, hiding Mary who is already hidden with Christ in God, for all to see, but hidden nonetheless, as much as supernatural is unknown to the mere natural, even if all of creation proclaims with insistence and eloquence the Creator of all (see Romans 1).

All of this is hidden from the one who suppresses recognition of the Creator proclaimed by creation. The suppressors know nothing of being hidden with Christ in God. The suppressors turn into violent beasts (see Romans 1 at the end). But they also are redeemed even if not presently saved. We don’t know who will be saved. It is incumbent upon us to bring people to the wounds of Jesus.

“The wounds of Jesus.” Yes. Don’t ask a fallen away to just come to church. Ask them to come with you a bit early, because you want to go to Confession. They’ll see how happy you are in having gone. They’ll want to do the same. It might take many invites over the months. But it may well be that they’ll go to Confession and know that happiness too. And maybe even the first time. Don’t be afraid of being hidden with Christ in God. Just the same, others would love to lose that fear as well.

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Omar: white men in USA worse than jihadist terrorists

For Omar, it seems like a matter of “cut them down wherever you see them.”

Is this not giving the enemy comfort?

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Shadow-dog Literary-dog

Shadow-dog, the Whatever-It-Takes-dog, the Get-It-Done-dog. BTW, when he gets hosed down, he turns all black once again. Shadow may become a character in some literary effort I may undertake. To think this out I need some precise definitions of genre. Tell me if you can, with precision, and critiques, the difference between fiction, faction, analogy, allegory, parable, novel, historical novel, story, fable, etc., what can be embraced or avoided either entirely or with distinctions.

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Diplomatic Security Rosslyn (and me)

spy vs spyThe Bureau for Diplomatic Security (DS) in Rosslyn, at the behest of Counterintel for Consular Services (CCS) at the Department of State (DoS) at Foggy Bottom (“Main State”), early in 2019, declared to me that they had been in charge of creating two of me, purposely establishing and issuing to someone else (who looks quite like me and is about the same age) secured identity, including a U.S. Passport, with all of my own identifying characteristics. The program may have started way back in the mid-late 1970s. I say “declaration” in that this revelation was emphasized and repeated.

Until they disabused me of my naïveté, I had always thought that someone had stolen my identity. Not at all. That guy needed an unwitting fall guy in the wings, just in case. There are many persons in need of a fall guy.

But there’s two of me, I objected.

So, what’s the problem? Can you use your identity? it was asked rhetorically.

Yes, said I with the most deadpan voice I could muster.

♬ Soooooooooooo! ♬ No problem then! ♬ said the now melodious voice.

You have to know that Diplomatic Security prosecutes a few problem fraudulent passports, those used for more than the usual criminal fraud, namely, something more along the lines of terrorists and foreign spies (sometimes diplomats) with multiple alternative identities, including as U.S. citizens. They also issue passports for certain people stationed at certain consulates and embassies, where even the janitors are CIA and FBI officers and agents unable to use their real identities.

Silly me, I brought up the possibility that there must be some mistake. Not at all. It was insisted upon that Diplomatic Security Rosslyn never makes mistakes, not ever. When we issue a passport, he said, that passport in the hand of that person is indeed for that person. No mistakes. Not ever. It’s who that person is, because we issued that passport to that person. If he has that passport in his hand, it’s for him. End of story. No mistakes, not ever.

But there’s two of me, I objected.

It’s not a mistake. It was insisted upon. ♯ We ♯ Don’t ♯ Make ♯ Mistakes ♯

As to this last point, pretty much every sensitive ongoing operation is done with a credible fall guy – often unwitting – with me being the fall guy for the one to whom they issued my identity, under which he entrenched as an arms supplier for the new Sinaloa Cartel. The Bureau of Diplomatic Security (by whatever name) was already doing this kind of thing for now more than a century. It’s their 101st anniversary this year (2019). Wikipedia’s top-line summary:

The Bureau of Diplomatic Security, more commonly known as Diplomatic Security, or DS, is the security and law enforcement arm of the United States Department of State. DS is a world leader in international investigations, threat analysis, cyber security, counterterrorism, security technology, and protection of people, property, and information. DS’s mission is to provide a safe and secure environment for officials to carry out U.S. foreign policy.”

One might finish that last sentence with “…often at the expense, sometimes fatal, of unwitting citizens in good standing of these United States.”

The idea behind propping up one cartel over another, it is said, is to be able to more easily control the situation. That didn’t quite work. But that’s the idea. It’s always about the economy. And anyway, competing cartels wasn’t so much of a thing back in the day. We created “El Chapo”, bringing his violence to bear, effectively creating the Sinaloa Cartel.

I always despised my identity being used for anything benefiting Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán Lorea. My name is written all over so many guns, so many bullets, which have been used to kill so many people. Were these cartel agents, even of different cartels, sicarios and disloyal druggies who were killed? Sure. Those guns and bullets were also used to kill untold numbers of innocent men, women and children just to instill fear. It is said that “El Chapo” is treated as a god in Mexico, but that is out of fear, regardless of how much nice stuff he gave to people with money he otherwise couldn’t launder anyway. I don’t like my name being used for all this.

“El Chapo” is now enjoying the extra security of the ultra-super-max solitary confinement of the ADX facility in Florence, Colorado. Fine. But that doesn’t mean it’s over. That means it’s only begun. Locking him up is not something you do and then you cheer. Vengeance for the vengeance is coming. There’s an entire Cartel which is now especially upset. If we created “El Chapo” and we are now treating him in this way, well, I’m sure there will be some who reckon that a reckoning needs to be done. The monster is now bigger than “El Chapo.” When you take out a devil you might get Satan himself to replace him.

Which brings me to the point of this screed. There are a couple of favors – easy to do, ever so easy, which I think I’ve earned – that Diplomatic Security Rosslyn could and should do for me (with a heads-up to CCS). DS asked me what these requests might be, but I regrettably had to decline to mention them over a cell phone. Perhaps I can put the request in through a favorite congressman. But really, does this have to get even more stupid than it already is? Could I just talk to someone in, say, the Diplomatic Security building in Greensboro, N.C.?

P.S. For decades I’ve been baiting for any takers in an effort to figure all this out. Some took the bait not knowing what they were wading into. How annoying. But I opened myself up to that. I get what I deserve. But now the dynamics change, radically. If DS openly admits all this to me, it’s not because they think there’s no supporting documentation (they know there is), but rather because I’m so very unimportant and so utterly expendable and am an absolute nobody, just another typical fall guy. This is the normal course of affairs. It is what it is. My talking about it proves nothing. I’m still totally the fall guy. I would still like to have a chat with someone in Greensboro.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Like snow, edition)

It snowed in mid-July in central Minnesota when I was a kid. Just a freak incident. It’s mid-July in Western North Carolina right now, and it “snows” every year at this time here. There are trees – I don’t know what they are called – which shed trillions of tiny cup shaped white flowers, perhaps just an 1/8 of an inch wide. They pile up. In the picture up top you see one of the trees next to the neighbors to the hermitage. These aren’t flowers you can pick. When they really start dropping, perhaps a small garden shovel would be more appropriate. It’s one of those things which just make you think of the goodness of God. All for you, Mary.

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Shadow-dog vomiting a serpent?

Cameras and pictures are weird.

  • Digital cameras can make their own edits, tweaking things. Part of the rope is made to look like a shiny green viper by the camera all on its own.
  • Pictures with no context can give the wrong impression. This is not Shadow-dog throwing up, but rather opening his jaws to grab what is actually just the rope.

No, Shadow-dog is not possessed. He’s a good dog!

Meanwhile, I know people all over this country who are being attacked by Satan’s minions, for real. Prayers for them, please: Hail Mary…

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What do you even do as a priest?

That question is sometimes asked with the cynicism of someone afraid to know the answer. The question is not about Adoration and Confessions and Masses and whatever of other sacraments. The question isn’t about meetings, opening the mail, checking phone messages. All of that is dismissed as unimportant.

The question about what a priest does refers to “the rest of the time”, which is, in this logic, dismissed as even more surreally ridiculously unimportant than all the rest. Visiting the sick and shut-ins, those in the emergency rooms and ICUs and hospital rooms and nursing homes and rehabs just doesn’t count, you know, for the reason that all of that is not at all anything that they themselves would ever be caught dead doing. Not their scene.

The question is actually addressed to Jesus, to dismiss Him, using the priest as an excuse to vent. It’s a teaching moment, as is said. The teaching, however, is often in the form of just taking the rubbish in silence. The eloquence of that silence speaks through the years, and may be the one thing that will bring the cynic to call upon Jesus, even if only at the very moment of death.

It’s a good thing to be smashed to one’s knees in reverence before the irony of what’s happening. The very Word of our Heavenly Father is silent, and then silenced in death.

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Rule Number One: Always have a Rule Number One

The bi-plane above razed the roof of the rectory for about 15 minutes the other day, making a dozen passes or so. I love it. I recall that my dad talking about being a pilot for a cropdusting company as a teenager. That would have been, say, in the Summer of 1940, as a sixteen year old, meaning that he was studying, getting his hours, and finally his license at fourteen and fifteen. You gotta know that some people get their pilot’s license before they get a driver’s licence. Just a few years later and for very many years to come he would be inundated with medals as a fighter attack pilot for the USMC.

One of the most important things dad taught me was to have a “Rule Number One” for everything you did. When he was cropdusting, he said, “Rule Number One” is to fly directly into the power lines surrounding the fields you have to work on. “But wouldn’t that make you crash?” I asked. “Well, yes,” he said matter-of-factly, “unless you hit the wires directly with the spinner dome.”

He humbly gave me an example of ignoring a “Rule Number One” given him before getting in a practice Gull Wing Corsair at a military air strip next to the banks of the Mississippi River in Iowa. “Rule Number One: Don’t get out of the plane while the propeller is turning,” he was told. He said he taxied to the end of the runway and turned around, ready to take off. Revving the engine… nothing. No forward movement. Back to idol. What was wrong? — oh… — During the turn the skid under the tail had fallen below the back edge of the tarmac runway with the madly swirling river having eaten away that back edge. Breaking “Rule Number One,” he got out, the propeller still spinning, and easily lifted up the tail of the plane balanced by the engine out front. The plane was freed up, but it now started to move. He ran, trying to jump on the front wing, to no avail, off the plane went, taxiing off the runway and into the forest. What a humiliation. Whatever of this mishap, they kept him, knowing his talent. But… Yikes! “Rule Number One” is number one because it’s the rule that you just can’t break.

There is an overarching “Rule Number One” that is never to be broken in any situation, and which has structural influence over all other rules, especially “Rule Number Two.”

“Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said to him: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. And the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments dependeth the whole law and the prophets.”

  • Rule #1: Love God
  • Rule #2: Regarding love of neighbor, see Rule #1.

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

CIA MEMORIAL LANGLEY

Last year, July 30, 2018, was 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. I’m putting this up to encourage those looking for a break from the heat by coming up to the mountains and quietly hiking the trails of the memorial forest. Here’s the post from last year:

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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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Ironic ultramontanists

pope francis parrot

Those who forget Jesus entirely, who 24/7/365 are filled with hate for, say, the Pope, are just as ultramontanist as anyone could ever be, for they with a total lack of justice give the Pope the impious honor of taking all their attention. Really, he’s not that important. Jesus is the One. Jesus is the only One. To define one’s life by anything and everything about the Pope is to live over against piety, a virtue of justice, to render proper honor to the one whom honor is due. It is improper to define one’s life by anyone other than Jesus.

Meanwhile, pray for the Pope. That doesn’t necessarily mean pray for his agenda, but rather that he always be consistent with the will of God.

  • Might one want to be of assistance to the Pope by offering some insight to him? Sure! Do it! I have!
  • Might one want to offer clarity on that which is ambiguous for the sake of saving souls? Sure! Do it! I have!

But, don’t lose the plot. Let your life be defined by Jesus. Walk with Him! Throw His words about in your heart and soul and mind as did Jesus’ good mom (as repeated again and again by Saint Luke in his Gospel).

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On irreversibly changing the Church

PROMETHEUS

It takes a Prometheanesque power-hungery self-referential arrogant self-congratulator to proclaim that he is irreversibly changing the Church forever. And yet, this is a favorite proclamation of the in-crowd to make. They are the ones. They are the only ones. In their own eyes. How many Cardinals and Bishops and hipster Clergy repeat this self-congratulation.

Such people have no time for Christ Jesus as they refuse to recognize that the Son of the Living God is the very Creator of time, holding all of time in His hands. They are, instead, progressive, never ancient, only new.

But the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception is the One who is, who was, and who is to come. In Icons of Jesus one often sees the three letters of the sentence inside the halo that read: The One Who Is, that is, all the time and in eternity.

jesus christ icon.png

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever, ever ancient and ever new, because He is the One who is life, who is love, who is truth. The Church is the Body of Christ with Jesus as the Head and we the members. Irreversibly change the Body of Christ? Who do these anti-Christians, these atheists think they are?

And if you want to walk into the future accompanying each other without Jesus, know what that future has in store for you: Jesus, King of kings, Lord of lords, Prince of the Most Profound Peace, will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Those who have denied Him will be denied by Him before our Heavenly Father.

Also, if you want scriptural accompaniment, lets see what happened in the Old Testament for misdeeds so as to smack people down to be introduced to the seriousness of original sin and personal sin so that they would understand what it means when the Messiah stands in our place, the Innocent for the guilty, so as to have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us. He was tortured to death. In the Old Testament, people were continuously accompanied with getting stoned to death, with being beheaded, with being enslaved and forced into dispersion and exile. We have to shaken up so as to see that we have a serious situation here. We have to understand this so as to take in what is happening with the wounds borne by the Son of the Living God.

I’ve always told my seminarians and my fellow priests and my parishes that there is a simple discernment one can make of any commentary of any theology, philosophy, psychology, economic system, whatever… and it is this: Does whatever it is help one or forbid one from coming to be in humble thanksgiving and reverence and friendship with the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception?

If the commentary is that one must wait millions of years for humanity to vicariously come to closer to the cosmic Christ, a vacuous imagination of ours placed somewhere in the coldest and darkest and impersonal regions of outerspace, then it is wrong.

If the commentary is that one must wait until dialectical materialism kills everyone in order to see goodness and kindness and honesty and integrity, then it is wrong.

If the commentary is that we cannot ever legitimately be in the good graces of Jesus, then it is wrong.

Those who parade themselves as more powerful than Jesus, more powerful than God, who think that walking together apart from Jesus is somehow going out into the peripheries are sadly mistaken. It is that type of condescending arrogance, that kind of dialectical materialism which threw people into the peripheries to begin with. Those thrown into the peripheries by the Prometheans suffer there, with Christ, who is also thrown unto the trash heap. Evangelizing the peripheries?

Those who walk together without Jesus – casting Jesus aside – are walking straight into hell. How dare they think they can cast aside God Himself, saying that His love and forgiveness and His insistence on us following the commandments in love are all bogus, a joke, to be ignored by those who are are wise and clever. I’ll leave them to it.

Much better to have Mary’s good Son revealed to us by our Heavenly Father. Much better to be as little children who are eager and prompt in obedience in all love to follow the commandments, doing the one thing necessary in being forgiven of any sin. Much better to have a future eternity in heaven by being in the state of that sanctifying grace which, as Saint Paul says will turn to glory in heaven. Love endures forever. Much better to be in that love immediately rather than going on and on and on in some blasphemous “accompaniment.”

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Filed under Confession, Missionaries of Mercy, Pope Francis, Spiritual life

My tiny blog shadow banned?

Someone dropped a comment to say that following the blog via email doesn’t work for her because the link in the email notification is corrupted. Anyone else with that problem? This has apparently been going on for many months. Mind you, server names from Google and YouTube are frequently present, spending great amounts of time and going through very many posts, in other words, real people, not just bots. So, what’s that?

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Flos Carmeli, edition)

When living at the Discalced Carmelite Monastery on Mount Carmel, after offering Holy Mass directly above the cave of Elijah, I would make brave to intone the Flos Carmeli, with all then joining in for a number of verses.

With all of those Flowers for the Immaculate Conception, I am reminded of the Via Crucis, the Stations of the Cross, on Mount Carmel:

We might recall that The Little Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel were fierce crusaders. After helping to retake the Holy Land from the genocidal empire building Islamicists of the time – akin to today’s ISIS, as always – they wanted to continue fighting in this Church Militant by way of prayer and penance and sacrifice and spiritual exercises for six months and then evangelizing with ferocious Elijah-like preaching for six months, year in, year out. I’ve been in all those caves and their now destroyed central monastery grounds in the wadi on Mount Carmel. Some like to speak of simple folk who wanted to say a prayer or two together for a few years before returning to Europe after a nice pilgrimage and then visits from the Saracens.

But, as it is, there were more Islamicist incursions, as always with that political “religion”. The early Carmelites were ousted, then came back, were ousted again, and on it went. Finally, their monastery was blown up fairly recently (1800s if I remember correctly), giving them the opportunity, upon return, to build, fortuitously, not in the wadi, but above the cave of Elijah.

I was invested in the Brown Scapular by way of receiving the entire habit in an extended ceremony presided by one of the Definitor Generals of the Discaled Carmelites. That Summer, so many decades ago, was an opportunity to memorize – in Latin – the entire rule of the first Carmelites provided by the Patriarch of Jerusalem and ratified by the Bishop of Rome.

Were you invested in the Brown Scapular? I received one on the way out the door of the church after my first Holy Communion. I wasn’t actually invested. That was 1968. The year of the catastrophic liberal cataclysm which did more to destroy the Church than any genocidal invading Saracens ever could. Wearing a Brown Scapular helps remind us of the Church Militant in which we live upon this earth. We are reminded to pray. Do you recall the promises that come with wearing the Brown Scapular, and the accompanying prayer?

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Mimosa mime, edition)

The Mimosa trees have been blossoming for quite a while now. The name Mimosa refers in Greek to “mime”. IMNSHO mimes are really annoying, you know, the ones who do the “monkey see monkey do” thing. You’ll remember the Calvin and Hobbes send up:

In Piazza Navona over in Rome there are always an abundance of mimes, including the “monkey see monkey do” type. Limping as I do after any distance walking about, a mime imitated my limp for the laughing crowd. I guess it’s good for humility. I was surprised one day going into Vatican City at the Porta Sant’Anna gate to be see such limping of mine being imitated again, this time by Vatican Police. I was on the sidewalk to the left in the picture, walking past the Swiss Guard Barracks, and the officer was on the sidewalk just outside the check point on the right, looking at me while walking like a limping ape. I mean, you would think they would get it right, and walk like a limping donkey!

What we fallen human beings really find annoying, however, is that God Himself mimics us, even to the point of taking on the punishment of our sin, standing in our place, the innocent for the guilty, looking like a criminal, a sinner, just like us, so as to have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us. To forgive everything the mimicry has to be perfect.

We don’t want to see it, of course. It’s too humiliating for us, of course. So we don’t look at the Son of the Living God. But it’s difficult to avoid the eyes of His Immaculate Mother, who wants us to understand what her Son told us about the mimicry He desired of us: “As the Master, so the Disciple.” We take on the rejection He experienced when we live His love and truth and goodness and truth and kindness and truth. A Mimosa flower for you, Mary.

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Penance for Sacramental Confession

A lady was recounting to her friend the penance she received in Confession, very happy that it was almost completed.

“Father […] gave me a Decade of the Rosary.”

Then she added:

“It’s great, because I have only one year to go!”

Hahaha.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (What’s that? edition))

This is a progress report on a bush, flower, plant of some kind that a parishioner with a green thumb has growing out back. That’s cool. She says that it’s a “Cardinal Flower.” I haven’t looked that up yet to know the history of it or why it’s called that. It looks ready to grow taller and explode in very many blossoms.

“Cardinal” refers to a “hinge”.

That’s why there are sins called “cardinal sins” or sins opening the door to other sins. There are different numbers in the lists that come up through the centuries. Here’s a list of eight cardinal sins:

  1. Gula (gluttony)
  2. Luxuria/Fornicatio (lust, fornication)
  3. Avaritia (avarice/greed)
  4. Superbia (pride, hubris)
  5. Tristitia (sorrow/despair/despondency)
  6. Ira (wrath)
  7. Vanagloria (vainglory)
  8. Acedia (sloth)

There are also cardinal virtues, which open the door, as it were, other virtues, upon which other virtues depend:

  1. Justice
  2. Temperance
  3. Fortitude
  4. Prudence

Those work as a good examination of conscience. Meanwhile, there are “cardinals” in the church hierarchy, presently those archbishops who are so named to be of special assistance to the Bishop of Rome, who is necessarily the Successor of Peter. It is upon them, it is said, that much hinges.

And here we become bewildered. No worries. The One upon whom the entire universe and all of time hinges is the Son of the Living God, the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, from whom we made red blood to flow. You saw it, Mary. A flower for you.

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Pope Francis removing Executive Power from Roman Curia: consequences

pope francis asperges

So, Pope Francis wants to strip the Roman Curia of executive power. Think it through.

The best case scenario…

  • All executive power in the Roman Curia is stripped away.
  • With no executive power, all positions can be filled by laity, men or women, just a distraction, to be praised by liberals, though it means nothing, since there is no executive power.
  • What’s actually happened is that all Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, Priests, Deacons are replaced, meaning that in one fell swoop, Pope Francis has cleaned out all the liberal knuckleheads in the entire Roman Curia.
  • Pope Francis retires, giving a clean slate as a gift to his successor. In this case, it matters not what the motivation actually is, whether he thinks this is an “irreversible move” or not. His successor can do what he wants. Period. Meanwhile, all the riffraff will have been cleaned out. ;-)

The worst case scenario…

  • The status quo: Many dicasteries of the Roman Curia presently enjoy varying degrees of executive power enabling them to carry out their purpose. This includes the Secretariat of State, the Doctrine of the Faith, those involved with Bishops, Priests, Religious, etc. There are hundreds of cases making their way to Rome everyday. Life goes on.
  • All of those cases will instead go to gate-keepers for Pope Francis, who will decide the tiny handful he might have time to decide from day to day. In other words, the Pope will effectively ignore almost 100% of cases that are brought to Rome, meaning even extremely grave injustices will be ignored on a daily basis.
  • Bishops will learn not to be humiliated, and will no longer involve Rome… for anything whatsoever.
  • Then bishops will learn that they can do whatever they hell they want in regard to doctrine, morality, liturgy, a free for all of chaos, darkness, bullying, of smashing down those priests who just want to be Catholic priests, taking them out of assignments and then… nothing… that is… until…

In any case…

  • Popes come and go.
  • Cardinals, archbishops, bishops, priests, deacons come and go.
  • BTW, laity come and go.
  • The Lord is the Lord of History. He sees all.

Meanwhile…

  • Jesus is the One. He’s the only One. Who cares about all this? It’s all seems so self-referential, all so Promethean. Seems that way. But, whatever. What is always absolutely true is that Jesus is the One, not these other guys. Jesus is the only One.
  • We have the sacraments, Mass and Confession. Frequent Mass and Confession!
  • We can be with Jesus in humble thanksgiving, in reverence before Him, rejoicing that He has overcome the world.
  • We can always be enthusiastic to bring souls to Jesus.
  • We can always encourage vocations of brave young men willing to lay down their lives for the Lord Jesus.
  • We can always, with the grace of God, be on our way to heaven. And you were worried about little chess moves in the Roman Curia? Pfft.

Thinking outside the box:

Gotta wonder with all the purposed confusion in the last few years about differences and connections between Vatican City State and the Holy See if this removal of executive power from everyone but one person will further restructure understanding of these two entities with whatever effects in international relations and international law and international finance, etc., on so many levels.

It seems to me that the only one who can out-politic Pope Francis is God. I’m not saying that I think that’s good or not. It just is what it is.

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CYA assigning priests to Jn 3:16

fatima lucia trinity mercy

I was once assigned to a parish (not this one, not this diocese) in a far flung place on the other side of the world. The throw away comment – always the important one – was that I was not to make waves; I was just to be a warm body filling the position of pastor; I was just to ensure that all kept moving along nicely, getting along to get along. Nice!

Of course, if one is faithful to Jesus in whatever way – however otherwise weak, however otherwise sinful – one will then embody the sign of contradiction, which is goodness and truth, kindness and truth, charity and truth, that for which Jesus was crucified. Everyone who is not with Jesus, not with goodness and kindness and truth, hates Jesus and anyone who would in whatever way be attempting to be with Jesus.

A priest is to be all about being a sign of contradiction by being good and kind in a truthful manner, however weak and sinful he otherwise is. To demand that the priest is to be nice, a sycophant, with no truth and therefore no actual goodness and kindness, no Jesus whatsoever, is to entrap such a priest faithful to Jesus for failure in the eyes of those who assigned him. That priest cannot but be a sign of contradiction; that priest cannot for a second be simply “nice.” The failure was foreseen and desired, and vengeance for the failure will be swift and vicious, not nice at all.

The second there is a complaint about the faithful priest not being “nice,” but rather good and kind and truthful, that priest is ripped out of that parish for having had the audacity to be faithful to Jesus, but the accusation, of course, is that that priest wasn’t nice, and couldn’t fulfill even one simple assignment to just keep a parish running with no problems by just being nice.

On the one hand: God the Father so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son among us, to reveal to us the goodness and kindness and truth of the Father, knowing that we would consider that all to be not nice, knowing that we would torture His Son to death, but this so as to take on what we deserve for sin, death, so that He, standing in our place, the Innocent for the guilty, might have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us.

On the other hand: Those who entrap others by assigning them to be nice so that they can later crucify them for not having been nice, but “merely” good and kind and truthful, style themselves in a CYA manner as those who are like God the Father, you know, tough enough to assign those under them to go ahead and be crucified.

There are so many problems of logic with all that, as many as there are with being “nice” while not being good and kind and truthful.

My assignment in that parish was to be “nice.” However otherwise weak and sinful I was, I wanted instead to be good and kind and truthful. I couldn’t publicly condone and vocally bless violent racism and “strict segregationalism.” I was therefore accused of not being “nice.”

I’m happy to be accused of not being “nice.” ;-)

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