Tag Archives: Confession

Wearing out Sassy the Subaru

SUBARU DECALS

Besides the usual rounds, which can really add up, Sassy has been, if we count today, on three trips to Charlotte this week, those trips alone making for about 1,300 miles:

  • Tuesday: The Bishop’s Advent meal for the priests (that’s out of his own pocket). It was a sad time, as we found out, as the Bishop’s dear father died that very morning at 7:15AM. This was my “Day Off.” Priestly fraternity was good. This is such a good diocese.
  • Wednesday: Our Vicar Forane, a good friend and Confessor, as well as the Chaplain of Charlotte Catholic High School, a good friend, Ukranian Catholic, conspired to have me help hear Confessions, class after class, of the entire student population of the High School. I wish I had taken a picture of the sanctuary of the chapel there with its ad orientem altar. It’s all quite worthy of a basilica. Inspiring. I made it back for the 5:15PM Mass in the parish. It’s always a consolation to hear Confessions as one is in awe of Jesus the Good Shepherd.
  • Friday: The Funeral for the Bishop’s father. I had to cancel the midday Mass and the evening Adoration.

Meanwhile, Keto charges forward. I’m two weeks in and down from the 260s to the 240s. More energy, everything better.

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Recording Sacramental Confessions & United States Department of Justice

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The DoJ has many times been to the post with the detail of the screenshot of the URL above. The URL is misleading. I had been writing about the prudence – or not – as to whether essential members of racketeering influenced and corrupt organizations (RICO) such as mafiosi (who happen to be Catholic by baptism) should be automatically excommunicated in such manner that Missionaries of Mercy might be delegated to remove such medicinal penalties upon any repentance. Archbishop Rino Fisichella, who spearheads the Missionaries of Mercy project for Pope Francis, told me when I was last in Rome that this was not their project, nor that of Pope Francis, but a project of others in the Roman Curia, and had been abandoned. But that’s not the point of the visits to the post, as that aspect of the post was also changed mid-writing. The URL stayed but the subject matter was different.

What continues to be of interest in that post by the DoJ regards the recording of Sacramental Confessions, something that the FBI (a bureau under the DoJ) has been caught doing a number of times by way of bugging Confessionals in such churches as Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, again and again. They don’t give a damn, literally. They can’t bring that information to court, but it’s useful for structuring directions of investigations, it being easy for U.S. Attorneys to provide other more legal motivations to the court for why certain investigations were undertaken.

I find it interesting that the Department of Justice continues to look at this post with some regularity:

https://ariseletusbegoing.com/2017/07/14/missionaries-of-mercy-reconfirmed-mafia-excommunications-undecided/

Surely this isn’t to prosecute anyone who is abusing the first amendment rights to free exercise of religion as guaranteed by the Constitution of these United States by way of the recording of Confessions. No, no. It’s the very DOJ via the FBI which abuses the Sacramental rights of Catholics.

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Dear Pope Francis: Stop soliciting sin. Mocking God, leading between grace & sin is a crime. It needs to stop now.

pope francis--

I’ve commented at length on this question and it’s full context just recently here:

Pope Francis sums up his heresies

I’d like to comment just a bit more on his imperative command that “the pastors must lead their flock between grace and sin, because this is evangelical morality.” Let’s see that paragraph again:

  • “But they say: the Pope is a communist… Ideologies enter into doctrine and when doctrine slips into ideology that’s where there’s the possibility of a schism. The pastors must lead their flock between grace and sin, because this is evangelical morality. {I pastori devono condurre il gregge tra la grazia e il peccato, perché la morale evangelica è questa. // Los pastores deben guiar al rebaño entre la gracia y el pecado, porque ésta es la moralidad evangélica.} There’s the ideology of the primacy of a sterile morality regarding the morality of the people of God. Instead, a morality based on such a pelagian. ideology leads you to rigidity, and today we have many schools of rigidity within the Church, which are not schisms, but pseudo-schismatic Christian developments that will end badly. When you see rigid Christians, bishops, priests, there are problems behind that, not Gospel holiness.”

For my response in what I hope is a dialogue instead of my just getting smacked down, I would like to use the woman caught in adultery at the beginning of John chapter 8, what with Jesus evangelically forgiving her and, we cannot deny, evangelically commanding her NOT to sin again.

This has always been my practice of mercy in the Confessional as a priest and Missionary of Mercy. If someone, a penitent, is in fact repentant and has a firm purpose of amendment of life according to the Good News, there will be an absolution immediately provided. One may sincerely try to live in grace. But one may fail. But one may return to the Confessional for more needed guidance and understanding of what repentance and amendment of life practically entails. But one may also then be ready for absolution and that is then provided.

Such is entirely different from what Pope Francis proposes here with his talk of leading the flock between grace and sin, with the operative word being merely leading, always leading, but never putting such a soul face to face, heart to Heart with Jesus, always and only between grace and sin, so that the dialogue, the process is the soul having arrived, with there being nothing beyond the dialectical ideology of thesis and anti-thesis. Grace is no longer a friendship with Jesus, walking with Jesus, heart to Heart with Jesus. Grace is instead an ideological goal, and idea, a “horizon statement” to which one never arrives. “Go ahead, adulterous woman, go ahead and sin again! Go ahead, sin and then go up to receive Holy Communion! Never actually repent!” That is what Pope Francis is saying.

And now we know what that not so ambiguous footnote in Amoris laetitia certainly means: active adulterers are to be encouraged to continue their adultery and to go to Holy Communion. 

Good thing Pope Francis called Amoris laetitia a dialogue in the opening paragraphs of that screed. But here he clarifies that supposed ambiguity. It’s now certain what he means.

The presumption in all of this is that all penitents are incapable of living a moral life, a life of grace, that Jesus’ love and Jesus’ truth, that Jesus’ friendship, that Jesus Himself is powerless before sin. This presumes that we are all lost, all going to hell, and we’re just somehow trying to please everyone and be praised ourselves for just going along with sinfulness and encouraging everyone to do the same. What a dismal, dark, anti-evangelical view. To me, it seems like a blasphemy against what Saint Paul describes as the Body of Christ, the Head of the Body and the members.

The technical word for encouraging people to remain in sin, when used specifically for a Confessor who is “guiding” a penitent in this way, is solicitation. This is a crime in Canon Law, the code of law of the Church.

In other words, the priest is encouraging a penitent to continue sinning in whatever way. This turns a possible sin of weakness into a sin of real corruption, but even worse. The sinner who was guilty of a sin of weakness is now encouraged to purposely go ahead and sin. This is a direct mockery of God and a sin against the Holy Spirit.

Pope Francis is encouraging all the priests in the world and all penitents – everyone in the world – to mock God and sin against the Holy Spirit. Talk about being Promethean and Pelagian and self-referential and self-absorbed…

Never letting Jesus’ little flock get close to Jesus, always keeping that little flock in a life of sin, telling them with jaw-dropping condescension that they can never actually live a life of grace and morality and friendship of Jesus, taking away their hope altogether, creating in this way an ideology out of the person of Jesus, making Jesus a mere “horizon statement” a mere “ideal” that we can never really reach, all of this is, objectively, a sin against the Holy Spirit.

Dear Pope Francis, what you are doing is Pelagian: You are forcing people to think that they have to trust in their own strength which they do not have, and so lead them to frustration and, losing hope and giving up, lead them to a life of sin, but, oooh!, always trying harder with the strength they do not have, which none of us has. How cruel of you, Pope Francis. Instead we are to lead people to humility, to know that they, that we have no strength of our own, and that we are therefore to depend on the strength of Jesus, not in the sense that Jesus just helps us out and we continue to depend on our strength that we do not have, but rather in the sense that amidst all our weakness Jesus will draw us up into His strength, His love, His truth, so that however weak we are of ourselves, we can still live in grace, by grace, heart to Heart with Jesus, always carrying the cross but always looking to Jesus. He’s the One. He’s the only One. Not us! But Jesus!

Meanwhile, Jesus, putting His own life on the line, standing in our place, the Innocent for the guilty, forgives our sin, and then we, seeing His great love, with humble thanksgiving and in reverence before Him and in all good friendship, we are open to hearing His reprimand to us, ever so lovingly given: “Do not sin again!” He tells us that not just as some sterile command for a sterile morality, as Pope Francis thinks, but with grace, that is His presence, with the indwelling of the Most Holy Trinity, having us be Tabernacles of the Holy Spirit, offering our bodies as living sacrifices so different from this fallen world, so different from our fallen flesh, so different from the fallen angels, we being living sacrifices of purity of heart and agility of soul, aflame with love of God and self-sacrificing love of neighbor. Jesus who is alive, who is love, who is truth, is the Jesus I know, before whom I am thankful. He has forgiven me so much. Thank you, Jesus. I promise not to sin again.

And, yes, this priest loves to go to Confession.

Go to Confession!

And that means you too, Pope Francis.

I’ll be your very own Missionary of Mercy if you like.

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Rant on Confessing after a zillion years

confessional

A reader asked about going to Confession after a long time, about an examination of conscience. We might first of all want to get it right about the dynamics, the infrastructure, the-way-it-all-works before we even begin. There are a number of points with that.

(1) Make sure that the Confession is about humbly asking God for forgiveness, not about congratulating ourselves. Here’s an important post on that: Making an examination of conscience. Just click on that. Just read it. Do it!

(2) And then we gotta understand why Jesus would have set things up this way, where we would go to Confession to one of His priests who we hope also goes to Confession. I mean, Jesus knew how sinful we priests can be, what with Judas betraying Him and then committing suicide, with Peter denying Him three times, with all of them running away when Jesus was apprehended in the Garden of Gethsemane. We gotta understand that, as Saint Paul says, Jesus is the Head of the Body and we are (to be) the members of this Mystical Body of Christ. When we love it is with one act of love that we love both God and neighbor, the Head of the Body and the members of the Body of Christ. When we sin, we sin against the whole Body of Christ, if you will, both Head and members. We don’t decapitate the Head and say that we only offended the members of the Body of Christ. Both Head and members are offended by any sin, however private or public or big or small. When we are to be reconciled, it must also be that this is done simultaneously, so that both Christ, the Head of the Body, and (a representative of) all the members of the Body of Christ forgive us. A priest by way of ordination to the Priesthood of Jesus acts in the person of Christ in granting the absolution in the first person singular (“I absolve you of your sin, in the Name of the…) but at the same time he represents all the members of the Body of Christ. This is why Jesus set up this sacrament this way. This completely reconciles us, forgives us, brings us back. This is why people are so very happy after a good Confession. This is not just some sort of psychological catharsis, but rather puts everything back as it should be, what with us now walking with God in all humble thanksgiving.

(3) After original sin, because of the just consequences of sin chosen with that sin, we remain in this world with weaknesses until we die, weakness of mind, weakness of will, emotions all the hell over the place (the devil’s plaything), sickness, death. The salvation Jesus came to bring us doesn’t involve an unjust action of delivering us from the just effects of sin while we are still in this world, that is, outside of forgiving us the worst of the effects of sin, the guilt. But we still have the weaknesses. Jesus said to carry these very things, outside of the guilt, as a cross. Don’t deny the weaknesses. Don’t suppress the weaknesses. Don’t think that progress in the spiritual life will somehow make you personally no longer subject to being weak in whatever way. Don’t think that you can grow out of needing Jesus as a Savior because, oooh!, you’ve self-helped yourself so very much in self-congratulation that Jesus is irrelevant to you. That would be the worst sin of all. AFTER a good confession, know that you’ll still have weaknesses and still be tempted. The point is that we can carry such crosses and, instead of falling into sin, we can use those things as occasions to turn to Jesus, to cry out to Him, to depend on His strength, to grow in virtue in Him, to walk in His presence ever more humbly, ever more thankfully. With Confession we grow more aware of how far our Lord had to reach to get us in this world, to each side of the Cross. The bond of love, the sanctifying grace, given with such reality, helps us to be joyful as we realize just how much Jesus loves us.

(4) A good Confession is an integral Confession, which means being sincere, honest, plain-speaking, not-obfuscating, not making excuses, but being complete, meaning including all serious sins in kind and number. “I was upset,” doesn’t cut it. What’s the Confessor supposed to think? Was that a passing emotion that you didn’t want and didn’t crank up and therefore was no sin at all? Did being upset mean that you threw your kid through the sheet rock wall and then through the window, doing the same with the wife? Did you run someone off the road once or do you do that every time you get in a vehicle? Kind and number, when asking forgiveness from Jesus, make a difference. “I stole cars for different times,” sounds better, but sometimes circumstances make a difference, so that violently carjacking using a weapon while people tried to make it to the hospital is more serious than mistakenly getting in the wrong Uber car in a parking lot full of the same vehicles. A young man killing an innocent old man is one thing, a young man killing his father who didn’t do anything to him is quite another, involving two commandments, thou shalt not murder and thou shalt honor that father and mother. But, having said that, don’t otherwise give any useless details at all.

(5) Confession is about us being forgiven. IT’S NOT ABOUT accusing everyone else in the world of sin except for yourself.

(6) Confession isn’t about talking about politics or parish council dramas or anything else except our own sin and asking for absolution from this sin of ours. Confession is about confessing our own sin. Confession is about getting absolution for our sin. “Everyone else is a horrible sinner and I’m a saint who never sinned, ever. Gimme absolution!” No.

(7) Confession isn’t about saying stuff that you want the priest to know but you don’t want him to be able to say that you said it because you know that he’s forbidden to do this by the Seal of Confession. You know that he knows that if he breaks the Seal of Confession, he will take on all the guilt of your sins and be pointed straight to hell for mocking the Blood of the Lamb, our Salvation. You know that he knows that he will be automatically excommunicated if he breaks the Seal of Confession. But, here’s the deal, the priest also can’t know or use anything he has learned in Confession regardless of whether it was a sin you confessed or just some juicy bit of gossip, however serious, like murders or whatever. He can’t say anything, ever. He can’t know it. Can’t use it. And if you say things like this expecting him to do something about it outside of Confession, you’re completely mistaken. HE CAN’T DO IT. Not for anything, ever. Period. If you want the priest to know something for use outside of Confession, tell him whatever it is OUTSIDE of Confession. All of this holds, by the way, regarding that for which the priest, as everyone else, is a mandatory reporter.

(8) Don’t even come to Confession, confessing all sorts of things, and THEN say that you are in freely chosen circumstances of sin (say, for example, adultery, or being a Mafia enforcer, or whatever). You have to have a firm purpose of amendment to receive absolution, for not to have a firm purpose of amendment while presenting oneself for absolution is the very definition of the mockery of God. So, first of all, change the circumstances. Then come to Confession. You might think that the Mafia hit-man example is extreme, but, years ago, I was actually asked to be a Confessor by the liaison between the Italian Military and the Holy See in a parish that they would arrange for me to be Confessor so that they could record confessions of such hit-men. Of course, I said NO.

(9) Getting the vocabulary right, individual confession is one on one, penitent and Confessor. A “General Confession” refers to someone who wishes to confess one’s sins for whatever period of time – kind of as a renewed thanksgiving to Jesus by renewing one’s sorrow for those sins even if already confessed and already forgiven. This is sometimes a good idea for some people, say, before a huge change in life, such as marriage, such as taking religious vows, such as being ordained a deacon, priest or bishop. This is not required nor is it a good idea for some people, such as those who are scrupulous. But see: Yesterday was really cool. I made a “General Confession.” Yikes! A “General Absolution” is when people do not confess their sins to a priest, but who, as a group, receive absolution as a group. There are circumstances for this, such as soldiers going into battle right then. The priest leads them in a brief examination of conscience, an act of contrition, instructs them that they have to have the intention of going to individual confession when they can, if they survive, as soon as they can. If you’ve gone to a “General Absolution” event, such as in peace time in a filthy liberal parish with a filthy liberal priest, with that event NOT being sanctioned by the bishop, know that such a General Absolution is INVALID. And I bet that the priest in that circumstance did NOT instruct people to have the intention of going to individual confession as soon as possible. Just sayin’… When was your last good Confession. That would go back to a time before any invalid General Absolution or any sacrilegious Confession, such as a Confession which leaves out the number of sins (inasmuch as we can remember, with Jesus knowing we’re not computers) or the the kind of sin, that is, having been purposely ambiguous, purposely non-specific. We can always fool a priest. We can’t fool God. Mocking God with a sacrilegious Confession is not a good idea.

(10) How to go to Confession: When you enter the Confessional, kneel or sit and say: “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned, my last good Confession was [… last week, a month ago, or whatever the time is, like fifty years, whatever…]. Here are my sins: [… and you do your best to recite those sins in the frankest, simplest, clearest, briefest way you can…] The priest may say some words of encouragement, give some words of advice. He may ask a question if he doesn’t understand what you’re talking about: “What does you did something wrong refer to?” Don’t be offended. This is Confession, not a game. Again, don’t go into useless details. Then the priest will give you a penance, perhaps some prayers. Then he will invite you to make an act of contrition. If you don’t know one, the priest will help you. Then, the priest will recite the absolution, which is really beautiful. Then the priest will dismiss you with a few words about the mercy of the Lord. I always ask people to pray for me as well.

(11) An act of imperfect contrition is when we are sorry for our sins because we fear the loss of heaven and we fear the pains of hell. An act of perfect contrition is when we are sorry for our sins also because we have offended God’s love. Here are a couple of variations from what I learned as a kid in the mid-1960s (there are a zillion variations). The first of these below quite clearly includes both kinds of contrition:

  • O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.
  • My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things. I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us. In his name, my God, have mercy.

(12) After having been Concise, Clear, Contrite, Complete (the four Cs of Confession) in an individual Confession, prepare to be ever so happy, humbly thanking Jesus, pointed to heaven, walking in His presence in our daily lives. It is because of that increase of God’s love within us that we are more capable of staying away from our love to sin. The love of God is greater than our sin. We can still choose to sin, but Jesus gives us the Way to Heaven. He gives us His friendship. :-)


Now about an examination of Conscience. The following link is for an examination of conscience for adults and teens, not for kids.

https://fathersofmercy.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Exam.A4.pdf

There are a zillion examples of examinations of conscience on the internet. But remember, we’re good at rationalizing. So, to make a good exam of conscience, first put yourself before Jesus humbly, prayerfully, sincerely, with sorrow for sin. Give yourself a minute or two for this. Don’t be afraid. Then start.

Lastly, one of the most important things about going to Confession is to…

GO TO CONFESSION!

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Some might say skill sharpening is boring. Some might say it’s fun.

Yesterday while out and about doing priest stuff, I was brought to see what I’ve never seen before but which I might blindly drive within feet of – on one side of the river – at least once per week, the “river’s end” of the Nantahala Gorge immediately before it dumps into the extreme southern end of Fontana Lake (reservoir). I’ve always been on the upper highway. It’s funny how you can live in a place and never see the sights that millions of people flock to see.

I always knew that all kayakers and rafters get out of the river immediately prior to these rapids with their jagged hidden boulders amidst churning vortexing impossible to exit back currents, but I didn’t know that one could simply drive down to see them on the other side of the river. There is a bridge. Duh… And now I know why the river’s end is so famous. Such rapids. Wow.

The above 15 second video just had to be taken. I’m too old now, but I instantly knew as soon as I saw these rapids that if I had grown up anywhere near here – and I know by way of Ancestry.com that I have plenty of relatives in these here mountains – that I would have been here daily with a tiny, easily shoulderable kayak making this 300 yard precipitous descent a thousand times a day. But, don’t do this. I hear it’s actually dangerous.

As it is, where I grew up as a kid up in Minnesota, a similarly dangerous extreme sport was available to me that I’ve described elsewhere, the misuse of a trick-downhill-ski-jump as a long distance jump. I’m the only one who did this to such an extreme, sailing along the tops of the tall Minnesota north woods forest trees far past any slope of any hill and landing on the “flats” far below again and again, electrifying and somehow peaceful, adrenaline filled and somehow peaceful, death defying and somehow filled with life, crowds watching and yet being utterly alone (as no one else was so crazy), utterly alone and yet flying with the angels – it seems I was in the air for the longest time – flying with the angels and yet being reprimanded by the ski patrol and administration of the business, reprimanded for risk retention, but all with a wink and a nod as this helped to bring some life to the place.

Some might say skill sharpening is boring because, although they might try something once, if they survive, even just barely, they quit, and just don’t get the point of, you know, having fun with what you do. Do these people never have fun? It’s like a life of compromise, the ol’ just enough to pretend that one is getting by attitude, getting by, that is, until one doesn’t.

Some, like me, might say that skill sharpening is fun. You take the most unpredictable thing, and not only survive but learn to have mastery over it, not just predictably surviving, but managing how you survive, even turning the most dangerous aspects into that which works for you, in this case learning to pivot off of boulders through the air, spinning with perfect control into… what?… Who knows? But it’s fun.

Why is it fun? Because there’s an analogy with not compromising in life. If 100% of the time you’re not compromising truth or morality, you’ll find yourself having really a lot of fun, call it the joy of the Holy Spirit.

That joy of the Holy Spirit is not something you can control, but it is something you can take on board in dealing with the unpredictable so as to use obstacles to pivot you into, well, even more joy in the Holy Spirit.

Does this priest have too much fun? No. I should say not. You can never have too much joy in the Holy Spirit. That joy is there for the asking, by anyone, at any time, no matter what: Bless me Father, for I have sinned, my last confession was…

That’s an extreme sport. Falling on your knees. Yes, it is. :-)

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6:00am Adoration / Confessions

On Sunday morning we had record numbers in our tiny parish. Did anyone say: “solution to the crisis of faith.”

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

elijah judas tree

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

[This was written ten years ago. Today, precisely, is a good day to repost it. Padre Pio’s feast day. /// BTW, today marks 25 years in prison of Fr Gordon MacRae. Hail Mary… St Michael the Archangel… ///]

You can read things dozens of times over the years and just not “get it” at all. That’s me. But this year when I read the following letter of Padre Pio, I was mesmerized. I now know a bit more just how much I absolutely don’t know anything about the spiritual life. I have written academically about that of which he speaks, the flaming sword. I am vindicated on that academic level at least, for I am alone across the millennia in what I have written. But on a spiritual level, well, I am thrust to the ground in deep humiliation, for I obviously know nothing of the spiritual life. But at least I know that I know nothing. These days, that’s something. And it’s way more than enough to ask for this great saint’s help. Apologies are given in advance for the inadequacy of [my comments] below. You can see from my Coat of Arms (thanks to Elizdelphi! No words on the banner yet) that I am grateful to have written about the sword of which Padre Pio speaks…

GEORGE DAVID BYERS - COAT OF ARMS - revision

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

I will raise my voice and will not stop imploring him

“Out of obedience I am obliged to manifest to you what happened to me on the evening of the 5th of this month of August 1918 [Vigil of the Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus] and all day on the 6th [Feast of the Transfiguration].

cherub-sword-eden

“I am quite unable to convey to you what occurred during this period of utter torment. While I was hearing the boys’ confessions on the evening of the 5th [making them saints!], I was suddenly terrorized by the sight of a celestial person [an angel, a cherub] who presented himself to my mind’s eye [So, not an apparition, but entirely spiritual. People think angels are all fluffy chiffon pastels and cutesy cutesy. Pio speaks of torment and terror, and this angel is from heaven!]. He had in his hand a sort of weapon [“weapon”] like a very long sharp-pointed steel blade which seemed to emit fire. [This is the sword mentioned in Genesis 3:24. It is the sword which “turns into its contrary by way of the fiery grace of enmity against Satan and by way of friendship with God whatever is presented to it.” This is the sword with which the Carmelites depict Elijah. This is the sword of Saint Michael. This is the sword of Saint Teresa of Avila…] At the very instant that I saw all this, I saw that person hurl the weapon into my soul with all his might. [Seeing that a cherub could crush the entire universe if given permission from the Most High, this is saying really a lot…] I cried out with difficulty and felt I was dying. I asked the boys to leave because I felt ill and no longer had the strength to continue. [What an understatement of all time. They must have been scared for him.] This agony lasted uninterruptedly until the morning of the 7th. I cannot tell you how much I suffered during this period of anguish. Even my entrails were torn and ruptured by the weapon, [“weapon”] and nothing was spared. [“nothing” – and here I try to hang on to this and that. And in doing that I am totally lacking in generosity. I’ve done nothing in my life. I’ve not laid down my life as so many have done. Pio is going through his purgatory all at once, 40 some hours for him. And what would I do, I who surely have a purgatory lasting until the end of the world?]

discalced-carmelite-coat-of-arms

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

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

padre-pio-stigmata

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

PADRE PIO SEAL OF CONFESSION

Padre Pio reprimanding the Bishop about the Seal of Confession.

“Dear Father, I am dying of pain because of the wounds and the resulting embarrassment I feel deep in my soul. I am afraid I shall bleed to death if the Lord does not hear my heartfelt supplication to relieve me of this condition. Will Jesus, who is so good, grant me this grace? Will he at least free me from the embarrassment caused by these outward signs? [The embarrassment, mind you, is more than enough to end his life on this earth.] I will raise my voice and will not stop imploring him until in his mercy he takes away, not the wound or the pain, which is impossible since I wish to be inebriated with pain, but these outward signs which cause me such embarrassment and unbearable humiliation. The person of whom I spoke in a previous letter is none other than the one I mentioned having seen on August 5th. He continues his work incessantly, causing me extreme spiritual agony. There is a continual rumbling within me like the gushing of blood. [This Hebrew description of this sword in Genesis 3:24 (which I think I am the very first to translate pedantically, as it really is just that difficult), the sword which the angel is mashing around inside Pio is variously and wrongly translated as the twirling sword, the sword which moves about this way and that, etc., is, instead, “the sword which causes that which is presented to it to be transformed into its contrary.” Thus, we don’t take from the Tree of the Living Ones, though we can humbly receive its fruit (the Eucharist from the Cross).] My God! Your punishment is just and your judgment right, but grant me your mercy. Lord, with your Prophet I shall continue to repeat: O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger; do not punish me in your rage! Dear Father, now that my whole interior state is known to you, do not refuse to send me a word of comfort in the midst of such severe and harsh suffering.” [If it were I who had to respond to him, knowing I know nothing, but despite that, I would say that in our very reception of mercy we must show mercy to the rest of the members of the Body of Christ, those whom Jesus has redeemed and wills to save. Our suffering is occasioned by the lack of others, lack of faith, etc., but it is not their cross we carry, but instead we come to know what we would be like if we ourselves were to be without the grace of our Lord in therefore our lack of faith, etc…. and our remaining in friendship by the grace of God in such horrific circumstances acts as an intercession for those who are truly without faith, etc. This is drawing all to Christ on the cross in solidarity with Jesus, who does this by His grace. He, the Head of the Body does this, but we are members of that Body and we are with Him. If we only knew! If we only knew! Now Pio had his eyes opened, his soul torn open, his hands and feet and heart torn open. But it’s all Jesus. Jesus’ love taking on our lack. Embarrassing to us? Yes. And we run away. Pio couldn’t run any more. The angel presented himself, and, fiercely raising his weapon of God’s love… I know nothing. Saint Pio: help this donkey-priest to come to know Jesus! Help all of us priests!]

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

Call 911! Simultaneous church incidents. Confessing situational UN-awareness.

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We had some sort of emergency in the far back corner of Holy Redeemer Church this past Sunday, September 8, at the end of the offertory of the 11:00 AM Mass. Our entire church can fit into most sanctuaries of most churches, so, the far back corner of the church is, like, merely 25 feet away from the altar.

Someone cried out: “Call 911!” And the chorus of “Call 911!” multiplied in seconds. But there was no noisy commotion. No one said what the emergency was in those first seconds. I hiked it down from the altar to the back of the church in those few seconds. Pastor is as pastor does, right? As I then found out, it was a medical emergency for one of our ushers. In mere seconds, I gave an emergency anointing of the sick to the usher even before they were able to lay him down on the floor. EMS arrived minutes later and our usher is just fine now.

Since our faith family is small, we’re pretty tightly knit, so you can imagine our hearts were entirely in solidarity with our usher. You might say that we were distracted, that anyone bothering to have any situational awareness could now relax as it’s surely impossible that any other critical incident indicators that might present themselves cannot happen, because, you know, emergencies rarely happen, and un-associated and entirely diverse critical incidents never happen at the same time. So, go ahead, let your guard down, right? Wrong.

We immediately continued Mass starting with the Preface. “The Lord be with you!” “And with your spirit!” came the strikingly strong response. I can’t imagine that anyone would or, humanly speaking, could complain about these few seconds given over for the anointing, either time-wise or appropriateness-wise. So, no big deal, right? But something else happened in those few seconds in back of the church which should have had me run after someone so as to get a licence plate without him realizing it, you know, right after that anointing. That would have been logistically pretty easy in our circumstances. But I didn’t do it. Stupid me. Let’s review.

We had an unusually high number of visitors throughout the church. The emergency and the calls to call 911 were happening right in back of a certain visitor, who, unlike the others, did not come with a family. Never seen him before. He was alone [… description removed…]. By the time I got next to that certain visitor who was sitting at the end of the pew in the side aisle in that back corner of the church, with me just about to reach over others to anoint our usher, the visitor guy came out of the end of the pew and simply pushed me into those holding up the usher, that is, out of his own way. The visitor guy then bolted to the front-side door of the church and made good his escape. “Escape…”

The push wasn’t anything violent, but it was forceful enough to get the job done (I’m a pretty big guy), forceful enough that I had to turn to look at him while he bolted out. It was all too surreal. I was instantly all questions about who he was and what he was up to. I watched him until he went out the door next to the sanctuary in, say, four seconds. Whatever about him, I then turned my attention over to the usher so as to get him anointed.

Many are able to keep a sense of situational awareness for a singular critical incident that may take place at any given time, but it is not so easy to be entirely in the midst of one incident while another, entirely un-associated and entirely diverse and utterly unexpected critical incident begins at the same time in the same place. That’s what was happening here. This was an excellent experience easily able to demonstrate lack of readiness. Humility is always needed. To be noted:

  • The visitor was visibly shaken when the calls to call 911 rang out right behind him. A description of his fear from someone who, having turned around in the pew directly in front of him, looking him square in the face, was that he was all worked up in fear, something you can’t do instantaneously. Shock is one thing, freezing up. But being worked up in fear is another thing altogether. This was a fear he was already in the midst of, during which the calls to call 911 took him by surprise. He did NOT turn to see what was happening right in back of him in those first seconds when it was not being said if this was a medical emergency or a law enforcement emergency of some kind. Everyone else turned to see what was happening. That he didn’t turn to see what was going on right behind him is quite impossible. Was it that any medical emergency was insignificant compared to what he himself was about to cause? Did he feel caught out in some way, that someone recognized him?

Recall the discovery of “White Hat”, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the two terrorist bombers of the Boston Marathon, now locked up in the ultra-super-max ADX facility in Florence, Colorado. He was the only one who did NOT look at the explosion as it took place on Boylston Street near the finish line of the race. He is the only one who looked away from the explosion, and then made good his escape:

I have the link of that video set to 49:36. Watch until 50:35, just under a minute. This is a lesson in catching out a bad actor. Note how the terrorist guy doesn’t look, but looks away. This is important. Also:

  • The visitor guy quietly said something with quiet deliberate determination as a proclamation to himself, to God, to neighbor, though as a kind of soliloquy:

“No! – I can’t do this! – I have to leave!”

This was not a frantic, panic attack statement, nor a statement issuing from PTSD. It was all quite deliberate, even ever so slightly tinged with anger, but not at any of us, but rather with himself, disappointed, it seems, perhaps, that he had actually decided to do something horrific, but was just now changing his mind. He wasn’t at all in panic-like fear. Nor was he suffering from wartime violent sensory overload and couldn’t bear to see anything anymore even in the form of a non-violent medical emergency. He didn’t know if it was a medical emergency or he was being called out. If he was a bad actor and was just now changing his mind to not do the unthinkable, a medical emergency and calls to 911 would act as a preview of what he himself was about to bring about. He couldn’t take it.

(1) “No!” — This is an answer, voiced for himself to hear physically, regarding an internal agonizing dialogue that he had been having, much longer than just a few seconds.

(2) “I can’t do this!” — The reasoned conclusion isn’t about someone deciding to get over agoraphobia and feeling like a failure, so that he had heroically decided to be in a place as public as a church but was failing in the attempt. No. For all his fear, his words were way too deliberate to be issuing from panic. The reference of “this” is not a reference to a PTSD episode. Again, note that the statement was reasoned and deliberate. He was thinking about doing some thing, not thinking about suffering some episode. He’s entrenching his “No!”

(3) “I have to leave!” — He was a heap of chaotic emotions. IF he was a bad actor – and I’m not saying that he was (I’m just using this as a lesson in situational awareness) – but if he was a bad actor and had repented on the spot, he would want to get himself the heck out of there lest he change his mind. And the dichotomy between what he was seeing in the calm worshiping and his would-be senseless violence was too much to handle in front of others. He needed to be alone to sort things out. Such on the spot repentance is one of the best things I’ve ever seen. Good for him. He did it. He did the right thing. This was grace at work. The Holy Spirit working on him. His conscience getting to him. Great!

If that guy is reading this, and I’m wrong about all this, please, accept my apologies. It’s just that this makes for a good lesson in situational awareness. If you’re a good actor, you’ll understand that we can’t be too careful in these weird days of waaaay toooo many critical incidents, and that we have to learn from out-of-the-ordinary behaviors. It’s not you I’m judging. I’m just wondering about the ensemble of indicators. That’s all.

If that guy is reading this, and I’m right about all this, please, know that God loves you and wants you in heaven for ever. Yep. God’s love is more powerful than anything we could ever come up with. He wants us back. Always. If you’re Catholic, Go to Confession! Taking your own life is not allowed. You are not beyond redemption, not beyond salvation. God loves you. We love you. God’s love is more powerful. Don’t hate yourself. Just receive our Lord’s forgiveness. I, for one, would give you a do-able penance for sure. And the secret of any Confession is absolute. This is what we have to be about in this world, helping each other to get to heaven. We can be thankful to the Lord together, for Jesus’ mercy endures forever. Amen.

The time that the visitor guy was noticed in particular and until he left the church was, like, eight seconds. These things take place very quickly.

If there was a scary part, it was that he hesitated, wavered for just a split second before exiting out the side door, like he had to make one final decision not to do something.

Finally: Thanks go to guardian angels.

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Filed under Confession, Intelligence Community, Law enforcement, Missionaries of Mercy, Situational awareness, Terrorism

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.

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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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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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Gunslingery and Confession: perishable skills

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I’ve done about zilch target practice on the days off these past weeks what with not feeling well. Although going to the hermitage “range” and getting all set up, I just had no energy to pull the trigger. So, no. For me, that‘s feeling under the weather. I try not to let anything stop me from anything. Gunslinggery is a perishable skill and has to be kept up with. But, no. So, any skill sets have faded.

The last time I seriously threw out some bullets, say, a month ago, I had practiced what’s also called “the failure drill” of two to the body one to the head out 21 feet with a 6″x10″ “body” and 2″x4″ “head.” The anomalous best I had gotten down to 1.1 seconds from the holster, but maybe not accurate (I hadn’t kept up with marking the target). Anomalous means nothing to do with reality, btw.

This time, catching up again – and not yet fully recovered from feeling terribly under the weather which was already bad – I got 1.86 seconds with accuracy, twice, from the holster. But even those times are anomalous, as it’s usually a bit slower than that, in the 2.25″ range. Anywhere under 2 seconds is almost guaranteed to be faster than any urgent mortal threat being carried out as criminals usually aren’t so well practiced.

As someone said, if you want to know where you’re really at, do it ten times in a row all under time with a hundred percent accuracy each time. So, not in this life for me I don’t think. I’ve never done anything like that, at least so far. At least I had a couple of good 1.86 times. Our special operators and agents must do it 100% of the time.

But I did get a 96% (one bullet slightly stray of my reduced tiny targets) on the pre-2001 Federal Air Marshal Course. But I was  also DQ’d for all that by edging over-time on a stage or two of that seven stage course. And it wasn’t cold barrel. I was happy to be back again.


Confession: If you’ve been away from Confession for a while, you know that that’s also a perishable skill.

A person who goes to Confession frequently can develop an accurate, informed conscience that is devoid of scrupulosity but which takes care to avoid sin. Such as person more easily sees sin for what it is in all its ugly, selfish, arrogant, entitled reality because of being good friends with the Standard of Goodness and Kindness and Truth, Jesus Himself.

A person who doesn’t go to Confession, who’s been away for a long time, tends to think that they have no sin, that they are good people, that they don’t need any mercy, any forgiveness, that they are just fine with the type of life they have chosen, congratulating themselves that what they do “makes up for” not being good with God in the way Jesus indicated to the Apostles of His own Church, because, you know, they are good with God because they think that they do nice stuff, reciting that nice stuff for all to hear. But not everyone who says, “Lord! Lord!” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. People can be hypocrites.

It’s true that some who go to Confession do so for hypocritical reasons, as if this chance to be forgiven gives them a right to sin, but this is a sin against the Holy Spirit. It is a sin of despair. It says that one doesn’t want to be forgiven.

To get back to the practice of Confession, to pick up off the charts skill sets once again, one need only… go to Confession. Just do it. It brings great happiness. It lifts burdens. It is beautiful to say sorry to Jesus through the Church, the Body of Christ in the way Jesus had this done, being forgiven by God and neighbor – via the priest ordained for this purpose – simultaneously.

And then one has the peace of being in humble thanksgiving before the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, whereby one’s life is once again on target with all God-speed, aimed at heaven.


And if anyone thinks that this is an inappropriate analogy, just remember that Jesus Himself said that those who go to heaven are those who take heaven by force, by violence.

That violence, by God’s grace, is being crucified to the world, the flesh and the devil so as to live for Jesus, for goodness and kindness and truth, that is, by Jesus’ goodness and kindness and truth. It’s all Jesus. He’s the One. He’s the only One.


If you carry, practice often. Be frosty. Be edgy. Know how to deescalate situations. Know how to avoid situations.

Go to Confession regularly. This isn’t about us being merely exteriorly good as if that were something God appreciates. No. Saul kept the law exteriorly but interiorly carried hatred. Saint Paul, instead, was brought to understand that this was all a loss compared to keeping the law because one carries God’s love. That love, God’s love, only comes from God. That’s the renewal of sanctifying grace we receive with the absolution.

After Confession one isn’t to congratulate oneself for being good (which only sets one up for a fall, trusting in one’s strength one doesn’t have of oneself), but one is instead to be in humble thanksgiving before Jesus, walking with Jesus, rejoicing to walk with Jesus.

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Renovating Confessional encouraging Confessions

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An entirely appropriate Confessional, sure ’nuff (in the midst of Holy Week for those pictures, by the way). But, it could be better. Having discussed this with our Vicar Forane, and encouraged by him, I barely started to mention a renovation to some parishioners and they were all for it, only wanting to know more of the logistics. Lots of talent in the parish. It went to the Finance Council and everyone liked the idea in that august body as well. So, we got started:

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It’s advanced in the last days to be able to hear Confessions. Lots of Confessions! But it’s all a work in progress with lighting, with appropriate artwork, such as crucifixes on both sides, such as a framed “Act of Contrition”, two of them actually, in English and Spanish, to be placed on the left and right sides of the “Grill”. The “Grill” will get an added thin veil as well over the metal.

Flooring will have to wait for this next week when we start in on the church floor, which is a huge project what with moving all the pews and such. But, we forge ahead.

Religion is a virtue of justice. Religion is not a bad thing. The hatred of religion by, you know, “spiritual” people, is an attitude brought about by hopefully non-culpable ignorance. Religion is about rendering to God that which is His due in all justice. Only Jesus could do this, being obedient to the Father by walking among us and showing us the truth and love of God, which we hated unto death thinking that we are being incriminated by all this goodness. Having stood in our place, taking on the death we deserve because of sin, the Innocent for the guilty, Jesus had the right and has the right in His own justice to now command the Father on our behalf: “Father! Forgive them!”

Jesus has the right to take our sins. He has the right to forgive us. How dare we hold back and not give Him our sins for forgiveness and with us having all purpose of amendment so that we might walk in His friendship.

Go to Confession!

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Banging on the window at 1:38 AM like a thief in the night

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This happened a couple of days ago. The first reaction in the pitch dark was to grab the Glock 19 loaded up and chambered with HST defensive rounds (which protect any by-standers, as these stop in the threat instead of passing through, better helping to stop the threat). The second reaction was to check the time. Just a habit I’m in for stuff like this.

The first question that came to mind regarded the motivation of the guy banging on the window: Didn’t he see that “24 HR. VIDEO SURVEILLANCE” sticker all in capital letters right where he was banging on the window? So is this just someone in distress? So, why don’t they say anything, like, out loud?

The first action that was accomplished was not to peak out the blinds to see who was there and what was going on, but was instead to go to the back door to see if there was also someone there, so that the banging on the window out front was a diversion to enable a home-invasion from out back. Sorry, I’m bad and evil and totally think like a criminal. I know something of what Jesus saved me from. No one was out back. There are, after all, two dog-houses! When I did look out front no one was there either.

After Mass last night I mentioned this to a neighbor, and he said that at almost exactly the same time someone was banging on his door. He, being trusting, unlike me, simply opened the door right up. I told him to never do that. He’s got a wife and kids. If whoever it is insists, just call 911, being ready to fend off a home invasion. Anyway, the door was open, and the heavy stench of drugs immediately wafted into his house. The guy was asking for a ride over to his girl friend’s house and other like idiocies. No.

And then, some minutes later at the grocery store after Mass last night, another parishioner told me of other parishioners who were away for a while, only to return to find their house having been invaded and trashed by squatters.

Meanwhile, Shadow-dog and Laudie-dog were calm and cool through the incident. I went back to sleep. This could have turned out differently for any number of reasons. Say the guy was agitated by the drugs and terribly insisted, breaking windows, breaking in…

Anything can happen anytime, anywhere. And it can be fatal. For us. Are we ready?

Are we ready for Jesus to arrive like a thief in the night? The reaction better not be to get a Glock, but rather to fall on our knees. Are we ready to go with Jesus, to be on our way to heaven? At any moment? When least expected? Be ready! Be eager!

“Bless me, Father…”

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Our perception of time is surreal until

salvador dali persistence of time

Salvador Dali calls this The Persistence of Time. That’s our fallen human perspective of reality for sure. Surreal.

Meanwhile, time is drawn into one hour upon the Cross where we find the very Creator of time, time being drawn together in our redemption, He drawing all to Himself right through that hell of Calvary.

This is where we find the mercy of forgiveness, mercy being a dirty word for many these days, you know, for those who have no need of mercy whatsoever, so self-righteous are they.

But it is good to rejoice in mercy in humble thanksgiving, which becomes the engine of any firm purpose of amendment. This is most beautiful in contrast to the arrogance of self-righteousness to which so many run ever so breathlessly, congratulating themselves.

Confession!

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Don’t pick those yet! edition)

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If you look carefully, these “buds” are full of ants (even a ladybug). If you were to pick these at this point, shake the beasts off, and put them in water, they would never open up. No blossoms. The reason is that some cooperation is necessary from the beasts to munch on the outside.

The analogy suggested, of course, regards priests being ants… When’s the last time you’ve been to Confession? Mary would just bring us to her Son, who, having dealt with us, would then give us back to His good mom. ;-)

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“Don’t mess with mother” – analogy

Sorry, I couldn’t help but make the analogy…

pieta

Of course, Mary’s ferocity is to get us to go to Confession and go to heaven.

Anecdote time – and this does NOT break the Seal of Confession!

When I was a permanent chaplain in Lourdes and hearing zillions of Confessions of the 12,000,000 pilgrims that 150th anniversary jubilee year in the “Confessions Chapel,” the last penitent left the confessional leaving the door open. Another pilgrim appeared and, before coming in, declared before God and everyone else in ear shot (really a lot of people as it was jammed) that he didn’t know what he was doing there, that he didn’t want to be there, that he hated this, but it was just that after some moments in the grotto he felt compelled to come into the Confessions Chapel, and there he was, hating the whole thing, surely with his guardian angel smacking him down hard. And then he came in, closed the door, and…

That’s how our Lady works. Don’t mess with Jesus’ good mom. She’ll get you every time.

P.S. I have not ever, not now, nor will I ever, as far as I know, ever own an iPhone.

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Running over others on purpose

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This is the third maxed out size wise momma snapper turtle that I’ve seen in the last couple of weeks looking to find a place to lay her eggs crossing the road and ending up getting run over on purpose. I say that because people would have had to swerve to have their tires hit the ones I saw. And I did see one crossing the road in the middle of a lane and the knucklehead did just that, swerved so as to hit it with a tire. I hate that.

This ol’ gal didn’t look too badly damaged. I figured with a little help she could at least crawl to a place to lay her eggs and then die of an infection some weeks later. I stopped, as did a number of other vehicles on the side of the road, and we all got her safely into the ditch and crawling away. Huge turtle.

I’ve seen the same thing with Mountain rattlers, with the knuckleheads first running the snake over, then stopping and cutting the head and the rattler off. People can be so mean.

Stats have it that people who are mean to animals like this do exactly the same thing to the human beings around them, hitting them, smacking them down, yes, running them over on purpose. And they don’t have to start with animals, just go right to being violent with human beings.

Oh. I forgot. I was so busy being sanctimonious that I didn’t want to notice that my sins did that to Jesus. Sorry, dear Lord.

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Filed under Confession, Nature

“This is such a beautiful church!”

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That comment is to be heard frequently. I don’t know what people are expecting. Perhaps some unkempt nightmare? No. Not here. Parishioners love their little church and take care of it. In fact, we’re going to so some major (for us) renovations:

  • First off is the confessional. There will be no more possibility of face to face, with two windowed doors to two separate tiny rooms, the penitent side with a chair for the elderly and, of course, a kneeler. There will be a screen.
  • The entire floor will be redone.
  • All pews will be reupholstered.
  • There are plans to put in a marble altar, forcing the sanctuary to be redone, I’m thinking with an altar rail.

Meanwhile, other fixes are in the process, with windowed doors now going into the office area (I meet with people in other heavily windowed areas at the moment).

All is as it should be as we become ever closer friends with Jesus. The driving engine of all this in a time of crisis mind you, is the time we have for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The heaviest times for Confession are during Adoration and before the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Ah… That’s what’s being referred to! The souls of those who are drawn near to Jesus, those who make up the living Church. Yes, this is such a beautiful Church!

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Filed under Confession, Spiritual life

REVIEW: My penance when I confessed today. Yep. That would be right.

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved…
From the desire of being extolled …
From the desire of being honored …
From the desire of being praised …
From the desire of being preferred to others…
From the desire of being consulted …
From the desire of being approved …
From the fear of being humiliated …
From the fear of being despised…
From the fear of suffering rebukes …
From the fear of being calumniated …
From the fear of being forgotten …
From the fear of being ridiculed …
From the fear of being wronged …
From the fear of being suspected …

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I …
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease …
That others may be chosen and I set aside …
That others may be praised and I unnoticed …
That others may be preferred to me in everything…
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…

/// Because Jesus, You are my All.

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Filed under Confession

1/3 kids in ER assessed as suicide risks: loss of identity, self-esteem because…

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  • The stats are stunning, with 1/3 of kids admitted to Emergency Rooms being assessed as suicide risks.
  • The stats are stunning, with that suicide risk stat being in direct correlation with the rise of kids with smart phones using social media.

Kids can be horrific bullies. Kids can be ultra-conformist. If insulted, it’s pretty much 100% certain that kids will take the insult to heart, including the bullies, who are, by the way, the most cowardly, the most projecting of themselves upon others: it’s not them with issues; it’s others! Kids without an identity apart from manipulated reactions to social media use are thus brought to the lowest common denominator of death. If you thought such drama to be limited to those we wrongly call “adults”, you’re wrong; it’s a power thing, even with kids.

Generally speaking, kids don’t have the emotional wherewithal to withstand this kind of assault, or the ability to assault from behind a little screen without having to answer to people right in front of you. That’s why we call young people minors, giving them a different status, limiting their participation in society in all sorts of ways and on all sorts of levels – or at least we used to do that.

But with smart phones, all bets are off. The put-downs, insults, threats and extortion, the sexting, the manipulation, the marginalization… it’s all there, just like with adults. We’re all subject to the weakness of original sin, but kids are less apt to be confronting the world with a full sense of identity and therefore reason and balance.

So, what’s the solution? Merely take away or limit use of smart phones? That’s part of it. The real underlying cause, however, is a lack of identity. Social media has become the identity of kids. But why?

People are seeking self-esteem in the face of a fallen human nature that is so easily manipulated particularly when we have no sense of identity, no base, no foundation, as it were, from which to interact with the world. And people fall, and as they fall, they are smashed down and mocked all the more by those who are just like them, only worse in bullying and cowardice. Seeking self-esteem, they make the absurd claim for themselves that what they do in leveling ranker and insults at others, in hurting themselves with immoral behaviors as manipulated by others, is to do the right thing, because everyone is that way, because in that way they are getting for themselves an identity, however cruel, however much this beats oneself up. “I’m me!” they cry in their self-provided self-esteem, beating themselves up, beating others up. And now they’re adults, they think, being able, however, not to act from any real identity, but in being all the more cruel with those with whom one has chosen to give one’s life in being in mere reaction to them, still defining one’s identity by way of reaction to another. How very mature!

So, again, what’s the solution to a lack of identity, to a lack of self-esteem? Religion.

There’s a politically incorrect answer: religion, which, as a virtue of justice, renders to God that which is due to God, our Creator. God expects us to use our free will to be His good creatures. To use our free will we have to have a base, a foundation of identity from which to act, and this is uncomfortable as people are used to having no identity, to being in mere reaction to others. We don’t like this because we are immediately confronted with the fact that in our weak human nature after original sin we have no way to establish an identity from which to act. For fallen creatures to all of a sudden be good creatures – still in all our weakness in this world – we need the intervention of our Creator, His forgiveness, and the wherewithal – in a bond of friendship, of humble thanksgiving with Him – to have an identity once again, a real identity, that of a creature walking in the presence of his Creator.

Religion: God so loved the world that He sent His only Son to stand in our place, the Innocent for the guilty, so that He might have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us, to re-establish us before Himself, thankful to Him for giving us our identity which we threw away with original sin and whatever of our own. Jesus rendered to His Father, on our behalf, that which God the Father is due. Jesus is religion Incarnate. That’s religion. That’s all it is. Nothing scary. It’s all Jesus. We have our identity in Jesus.

Self-esteem is no longer sought in reaction to others, which is entirely contrary to self-esteem, making oneself lose one’s self-esteem. Self-esteem in Jesus is now provided by Jesus forgiving us and establishing a friendship with us. He says: “I call you friends.”

We get self-esteem by going to Confession and being brought into this friendship with Jesus. Jesus Himself wanted it done this way. Sin offends both God and neighbor, no matter what, no matter how private – even the “privacy” of hiding behind a screen in social-media. Being reconciled isn’t just a matter of saying, “Sorry, God!” Jesus wants us to be reconciled with Himself and all of us. Saint Paul speaks of this as Jesus being the Head of the Body and we the members of the Body. The priest represents all the other members of the Mystical Body of Christ. When the priest gives absolution of sin in the first person singular – “I absolve you…” – it is Christ Jesus who is speaking, and we are reconciled to both Jesus and our neighbor.

Mind you, the guilt of sin being put aside, while that is a great thing, is only the tiniest part of the story in obtaining self-esteem and identity. The absolution brings about forgiveness by way of flooding the soul with sanctifying grace, with the friendship of Jesus.

Self-esteem? “Jesus, God, loves me!” “Jesus, God, loves us!”

Identity? “I am found by Jesus to be one in friendship with Him. He gives me the base, the foundation, to have an identity in Him. In His friendship I need not give in to the temptation to be in mere reaction to others, to the temptation to be down to the lowest common denominator of death. In Jesus, in His friendship, I can even do something good for others, helping to introduce them all the more to the liberty of wholesomeness, of integrity, of honesty, of goodness and kindness, of friendship with Christ Jesus, who will come to the judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Amen. Maranatha! Come once again to us, Lord Jesus!”

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That’s a bit counter-intuitive, isn’t it? Get self-esteem by confessing one’s sins? Yep. I love it. Christianity is full of irony, the wit and wisdom of Jesus. He loves us. Truly.

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Filed under Confession, Missionaries of Mercy, Suicide