- Francisco: “What are you in for, sir?
- Thug: “Murder, rape, arson, pretty much everything. What are you in for?”
- Lucia: “We were rushing to meet the Queen of Heaven, and we forgot our face masks.”
- Thug: “Seriously, they threw you prison for that?”
- Jacinta: “Yes, but as long as we’re here, how about singing some hymns with us? How about ‘Immaculate Mary’?”
Tag Archives: Coronavirus
The other morning a request for Last Rites came, asking that I meet up at the Emergency Room. A family member was told that zero visitation is allowed because of new rules just then imposed. A security guard made his presence felt. I asked about giving the non-Covid-19 patient an extremely abbreviated form of the Last Rites used in just such circumstances. No way. We were told to move next to the parking lot, about 75 feet away from the entrance.
Not wanting to let this go, I googled the phone number for Governor Cooper’s Office here in North Carolina. He’s notorious for his outrageous discrimination against anything religious. I explained to the nice lady on the phone that I wanted an emergency intervention by the Governor’s Office with the hospital, so that I might provide Last Rites, you know, because bureaucratic red tape doesn’t otherwise hurry up even for death. I mentioned how Vice President Pence said that the rules have exceptions in end-of-life circumstances, allowing both family and ministers to attend to the dying.
“Oh! I’ll put you through to someone who can help with that!” chirped the nice lady at the Governor’s Office ever so joyfully. *Ring* – *Ring* – It was the Department of Justice which picked up.
In other words, the Governor’s Office entrenched in disrespecting religious ministrations, even Last Rites, and wanted me to go ahead and try to get an emergency hearing from the Supreme Court of North Carolina and then, I suppose, the Supreme Court of the United States. But there’s no time even for that. Emergency for the court system is not the same as the emergency of death.
Meanwhile – hahaha – it seems that the Governor’s Office had a quick change of heart and forthwith called the admin at the hospital and told them to just let me do it so that it doesn’t go viral on the media and such. The Governor has already been smacked down by a Federal Judge. The admin guy sent a nurse out to invite me to come in and give the Last Rites. ;-)
The squeaky wheel and all that, right? This turned out good for the patient, this time. But I’m sure this is a new policy. And I’m really not so sure that other ministers would insist on religious rights for whatever the various faith communities do, and that generalized comment might well include quite a number of Catholic priests.
It seems to me that the religious powers that be should get up with the political powers that be and agree together that unalienable rights provided by God such as those enumerated in the first amendment are to be respected. I’d like to see legislation providing criminal penalties to those who disrespect the free exercise of religion.
Finally, a message was left on my phone today, six days later: Negative!
So, Mass schedule, etc., back to normal.
Sorry, but upon advice from a doctor after getting a Covid 19 test on Thursday, 25 June, 2020, because of some rather indicative circumstances, it was thought best not to offer Holy Mass until the test results come back. Probably I’ll get a call Sunday afternoon, 28 June, or perhaps Monday morning, 29 June, 2020. I feel fine, but apparently that is beside the point. It is what it is.
- For those tempted to make this political or indicative of my lack of faith or whatever. Just. Don’t. You don’t know the whole story. I say, “Take a breath!” which is actually a wish that you do NOT get coronavirus.
- Also, to those who say that I am surely to be condemned for having gotten the virus (and I don’t have the results yet!), I say, “Take a breath!” which is actually a wish that you do NOT get coronavirus.
- Also, to those who are so very certain about how I got the virus (and I don’t have the results yet!), I say, “Take a breath!” which is actually a wish that you do NOT get coronavirus.
Oh my! Two people! And they’re not social distancing! But they are husband and wife, so they really don’t have to socially distance, do they? No.
We’ll continue with our normal Adoration, Confession, Mass schedule.
Moreover, this priest is chasing round about. Yesterday after going to a number of churches for a number of sacraments and Masses, I then visited another 14 people for Communion calls throughout two counties and two parishes. It would have been a lot more if I wasn’t forbidden to do sacramental calls to parishioners in a number of our nursing homes.
And if you think any future lockdown will keep me down, think again. If I were to be kept down, I think a lockdown for me would have to be in the county jail. But that’s no threat, as I could then proceed to evangelize from behind bars. There are precedents. I’m guessing that the other inmates would not be interested in harassing me, knowing that you’re the one who put me in. :-)
Just a question: How is it that there is discrimination against religion even while there is a promotion of riotous, murderous riots, with all their looting and arson and assault?
Coronavirus: Adoration of Jesus in this parish overruled by SCOTUS? We couldn’t care less. We’re with Jesus.
We want Jesus! We want Jesus! We want Jesus!
On May 29, 2020, Chief Justice John Roberts sided (again) with the four anti-Constitution Justices on the nine member U.S. Supreme Court so as to reject the free exercise of religion in the first amendment of the Constitution so that, in this illegitimate legislation from the bench, discrimination against religion is held to be lawful.
ABC Liquor and big-box stores have long been opened up to record crowds, jammed with customers more than they’ve ever been, even while mega-churches that can seat thousands are limited to a minister and nine others. What is it that governors quite commonly landed on the number ten? It’s arbitrary. A mockery. An attack on religion. It’s out and out discrimination. No one gives a damn. Will there be any faith when the Lord returns?
The consequence of this illegitimate legislation from the bench is that governors are free to burn the Constitution, and then burst into churches and drag people out, arrest and fine and imprison the minister.
In North Carolina the way this plays out is that the first offense by the minister is a second class criminal misdemeanor. The second and third offenses are felonies. That means a very long time in prison.
When the first enumerated unalienable right in the U.S. Constitution, recognized as provided by Almighty God Himself – the free exercise of religion – is trashed by fallen human politician, all other rights fall, the right to assemble, the right to free speech, the right to… write, the right to defend the innocent, on and on. And we immediately saw that with so many of the tyrant dictator governors. It’s lockstep, from freedom to being smashed down, 0 to 100, in just moments.
The great Justice Brett Kavanaugh, in dissent, had it that such anti-Constitution wrongful legislation from the bench is a restriction on the free exercise of religion that “discriminates against places of worship and in favor of comparable secular businesses. Such discrimination violates the First Amendment.”
Those in the judiciary who wrongfully legislate from the bench, those in executive office who usurp the legislature to themselves as tyrant dictators, are, of course, cowards. I would like to see them personally come to this smallest parish in these United States and brutally attempt to interfere with the reverent celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It’s an attempt that will not end in desecration of the Most Blessed Sacrament. I will personally see to it that the Son of the Living God at what is the celebration of the Last Supper will not be smashed to the ground. It’s not gonna happen on my watch. But they are cowards.
What will happen? This Catholic priest will continue to offer Holy Mass and provide all Holy Sacraments to Christ’s faithful, come what may. I don’t look to the coward John Roberts to get permission from the State to exercise my priesthood for Jesus. I don’t give a hoot what the Supreme Court says. The free exercise of religion is a right which is unalienable and provided by God. Compared to God, who in hell does John Roberts think he is? He’s just another coward. I never cave to cowards.
How about the Department of Justice? Will Bill Barr back a case that will overturn the Supreme Court’s own B.S.?
As the POTUS said: Open the churches! We need prayer!
Back to tyrant Governor Cooper and directly addressing him: Here’s the schedule today, Governor. I’m making it easy for you:
- 6:00-7:00 AM Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament and Confessions at Holy Redeemer Church in Andrews, in Cherokee County.
- 8:00 AM Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament and Confessions at Prince of Peace Church in Robbinsville, in Graham County.
- 8:30 AM Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at Prince of Peace Church in Robbinsville, in Graham County.
- 10:30 AM Confessions at Holy Redeemer Church in Andrews, in Cherokee County.
- 11:00 AM Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at Holy Redeemer Church in Andrews, in Cherokee County.
- Distribution of Holy Communion all over WNC.
And, hey! Yesterday, we had a funeral.
Here’s the deal: I give people all the warnings, policies, dispensations, but I’m not policing anything from the Altar as I’m not a minister of justice of the State while I’m proceeding with religious rites. Never. Never, ever.
Here’s the deal: there are multiple rounds of applause and cheers and statements of agreement from my tiniest of all congregations.
But, go ahead, tyrant Governor Cooper. Come in person and break us up and smash us to the ground and arrest and imprison us. Go ahead and try to throw the Blessed Sacrament to the ground. It will be an attempt, only.
The word “essential” being used as a category in which the free exercise of religion is thrown is the end of the Constitution of these United States of America.
If the free exercise of religion is a right which can be granted by government, it can just as easily be rescinded at will by a government.
- On the one hand, my own Governor Cooper in North Carolina discriminates against religion, treating religion like trash, mocking religion as non-essential. I will “disobey”, sometimes the highest form of respect.
- On the other hand, President Trump says that he deems the free exercise of religion as essential. Whoop-di-do. Inasmuch as he makes this clear that this is not about him granting any kind of benevolence but is rather about him backing the Constitution of these United States, I’m all for it. But there is a liberal anti-Constitution trap that is set about persons granting rights or not.
Either way, it’s not up to them. What government can grant on a whim can be taken away on a whim. The free exercise of religion, as the Constitution of, for, and by the people btw, is essential NOT because of any government or politician but because the free exercise of religion is an unalienable right granted by almighty God and is also enshrined as such in the Constitution by our Founding Fathers, who personally experienced the extreme violence consequent to government granting or rescinding such rights.
I don’t care what governors or presidents do about this one way or the other. I’m going to carry on with the free exercise of religion against all threats of imprisonment on the one hand, or the encouragement of the POTUS on the other. Regardless. Just watch.
In the pictures in the slideshow at the top of the post, Father Miguel Pro prays before being executed by firing squad in the midst of oppression of religion freedom by President Calles exactly a century ago in Mexico. He starts to fall a second after being shot, saying a second before with his arms in the form of a cross: “Viva Cristo Rey!”
You’re in for a real treat if you go read the updates on the post written yesterday, as there is a famous priest who chimes in on that rather strident challenge to Governor Cooper, and does so in a concise, incisive manner. Yikes! —
This Missionary of Mercy of Pope Francis is entirely in accord with the great Cardinal Sarah as seconded also by Monsignor Bux regarding the distribution of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Holy Communion, that the priest or deacon or Acolyte or EMHC wearing any kind of gloves for this distribution is objectively committing sacrilege against the Most Blessed Sacrament. I’m paraphrasing. Cardinal Sarah uses most extraordinary language to insist on this insane, blasphemous, ridiculous, clownish, faithless, immoral mocking of God.
Maybe some of my fellow priests carried away in “creativity” will come to their senses and realize that they’ve done something wrong, terribly wrong, along the lines of “nefas est.”
An automatic excommunication comes about and, as long as it is not declared (no chance of that, methinks), a Missionary of Mercy can lift and absolve such an excommunication.
As a Missionary of Mercy able to do this, I only ask that the priest be penitent with a resolve to never do it again, even in a “second wave” or “third wave” or with a thousand other viruses, etc., that are sure to come our way.
In giving the absolution, I’ll use the “old formula” in Latin, which firstly deals with the excommunication and then goes on to the absolution, a method of proceeding asked of us Missionaries of Mercy by the Holy See.
Bouncy-happy-go-lucky-effervescent-unthinking-clowns tell me to just have Mass on the steps facing the lower parking lot. Um… No. And hell no.
The lower parking lot is across a busy state road where it is normal to speed well over twice the speed limit. On one side is a blind hill and on the other side a blind curve. At that speed there would be little chance for people to stop politely for children continuously crossing the road to go to the bathroom during the Mass. They are going to trust that they are safe, because it’s at Mass, and people are going to respect their lives during Mass, right? No. It’s a blind hill and a blind curve. So, no. And hell no. I’m not going to be a “parking lot priest” just to look up-to-date.
For that matter, I’m not going to do baptisms with a super-soaker squirt gun. I’m not going to wear gloves to administer the Most Sacred Body of Christ in Holy Communion. What I’m going to do is offer the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at the altar in the sanctuary of the church in a reverent, respectful manner. I challenge any politician to put my parishioners’ children at mortal risk. I will defend them.
What we’re doing and what we have been doing regardless of the religious discrimination of anti-Constitution bully Governor Cooper of North Carolina is to have our normal Mass schedule in the normal way. Yes. Normal confessions in the Confessional. At Holy Redeemer we have the old draped screen style of confessional with no possibility of face to face. Yes.
I do tell people these things:
- It’s probably imprudent for you to come to Mass
- It’s probably dangerous for you to come to Mass
- If you’re at least as old as I am, you should probably stay home and I’ll bring Holy Communion to you
I also tell people these things:
- All I’m doing is saying Mass with the doors of the church unlocked
- I’m not requesting that anyone come
- The bishop still grants a dispensation from the obligation to go to Mass on Sunday (or the vigil)
I also tell people these things:
- I’m not a minister of justice of the state, whether by way of the executive or judiciary branches of government, so I’m not going to throw a tantrum and try to police any situation from the altar during Mass, complaining about non-compliance of some imagined infraction by some tender snowflake. Thus, families are NOT requested to social-distance (that’s a verb now, I guess). But someone might throw a fit about that. I’m not going to intervene on the part of the tender snowflake. That’s not even the policy of the State. I’m just going to quietly offer Holy Mass…
A few things also need to be insisted upon:
- The free exercise of religion is not for a politician to give us, it is for us to ensure that any tyrant governor does not ration that which is unalienable because given by God.
- Our freedom of speech is not for a politician to give us, it is for us to ensure that any tyrant governor does not ration that which is unalienable because given by God.
- Our freedom of assembly is not for a politician to give us, it is for us to ensure that any tyrant governor does not ration that which is unalienable because given by God.
- Our freedom to defend the innocent from unjust aggression is not for a politician to give us, it is for us to ensure that any tyrant governor does not ration that which is unalienable because given by God.
I could go on, but you get the idea.
In regard to the free exercise of religion, let me be clear. This isn’t about the fake “separation of Church and State”, which is another way of saying that all believers must be discriminated against for daring to live in the confines of the State. The free exercise of religion clause in the Constitution is all about the government (which should be of, by and for the people) not interfering with religion in any way. This is not only about freedom of worship, some rituals of whatever group in whatever church building or otherwise. The free exercise of religion is also about following a properly informed conscience (by natural law and divine revelation) in the public square, also in politics. To just say it: politicians who are believers are to be free to express and act on their also religiously formed conscience in their public lives, also in the formulation of public laws. This is said with all things being equal, so that such a believing politician is not proselytizing, but is enhancing the proper implementation of the Constitution for all also based on natural law, for instance, for the right to life for the born and the unborn.
Governor Dictator tyrant Cooper cannot legislate criminal penalties for disobeying his “orders”. Legislation is done by… wait for it… the legislature. As judge Napolitanto said, all such cases will immediately be thrown out by any judge.
And just to repeat, again: Governor Cooper is flagrantly discriminatory against religion. Others can be open up to 50% of the Fire Marshal’s stated maximum capacity of a building, but even a megachurch with a capacity in the thousands can only have a preacher-man and nine others. This makes me skeptical about all this. This is about tyranny and hateful discrimination.
We have a constitutional republic and the rule of law, not a democracy styled as that in which tyrants do whatever the hell they want to smash people down.
You know, I wonder if – even if I haven’t been charged with a criminal misdemeanor or felonies upon repeated “infractions” – I wonder if I have standing to haul Governor Cooper before the Department of Justice to end his intimidation and threats of imprisonment.
UPDATE: I also add one more point to any who are gathered at Holy Mass: In the trajectory of history, going back centuries and millennia, whenever a political platform or tyrant or emperor or otherwise dictator outlaws God in their politics and in their state, what follows is the oppression of the free exercise of religion in every way, and there is a blood bath even on the level of hundreds of millions. It’s all about raw power cut off from justice, cut off from respect for others, cut off from love, cut off from God. What follows, again, is murder, genocide, on a massive scale. If someone gets sick or dies because of coming to Mass, that’s their decision to be martyrs to witness to essential nature of the free exercise of religion. I would mourn, terribly, but this is the fallen human world we live in and this is how we can deal with it in witness to Jesus. I’m hoping no one will get either sick or die. Also, on the category of “essential” being taken away by governors or as granted by the president, I don’t buy it. What government can grant on a whim can be taken away on a whim. The free exercise of religion, as the Constitution of, for, and by the people btw, is essential not because of any government or politician but because the free exercise of religion is an unalienable right granted by almighty God. I don’t care what governors or presidents do about this one way or the other. I’m going to carry on with the free exercise of religion against all threats of imprisonment on the one hand, or the enjoyment of the president backing us up in his own I’m sure sincere way, wanting to just back up the Constitution.
UPDATE: Father Gordon MacRae, in having all the above read to him, gave me this statement to add here. It’s incisive, and full of wisdom, summing it all up:
- “Pope Francis says that “prudence and obedience” to civil authority are necessary. When that prudence and obedience are on a collision course, as they are now, then obedience to a Higher Authority is more necessary.” — Father Gordon MacRae
Keto for Jabba the Hut: Poison Ivy steroid and carb set-back, then pressing the reset button to 25 BMI
Today I clocked in at 198.6 pounds, fully 68 pounds lost on the KETO diet. That puts me at exactly 25 on the BMI scale, the top-end of what is fully considered to be a healthy weight.
So, great! But some weeks ago “the worst case of poison oak seen in Cherokee County by the Cherokee County Health Department” was my experience. I was given a 80 mg injection in the back end of MethylPREDNISolone along with a six-day DosPak of the same. I’m happy to report no side effects, well, except for these:
- temporary loss of immune system, until the MethylPREDNISolone wears off, say, ten days more or less, not desirable in coronavirus times. It worked quickly, efficiently. It dried everything up in a couple of days not to return
- promotion of weight gain, like any strong steroid, not what you want with Keto.
Meanwhile, someone said I need carbs to heal. So, I ate a ton of carbs, throwing my metabolism back to carbs, and allowing glycosyl to attract water molecules. So, water weight!
10 pounds were immediately put back on. That scared me. Time to get back on Keto, thought I. It just happens that I went right back into ketosis just as the MethylPREDNISolone wore off. 3.3 lbs were lost three days in a row. All the water weight, etc., gone, just like that. This is NOT Keto-acidosis. No, no. I’m back to losing about 0.6 lbs per day, so, it was about 2.5 lbs of water weight gone daily.
I’d like to head down to about 24 on the BMI scale, which is exactly what my dad’s doctor told him would be a good weight for him. I think he was at 25 BMI at the time as I am now. So, in his honor, perhaps down to 24 BMI…
We’ve all heard it, I think mostly from people who haven’t had symptoms or who don’t know anyone – much less a loved one – who has suffered and/or died from Coronavirus, saying that Covid-19 doesn’t really count as something special, that it doesn’t affect the brain or blood or kidneys or lungs in any way different from the “normal” type A or type B influenza, that we’ve never had anything to be careful about regarding our elderly health-compromised or anyone else, that all have been total fools for being prudent on behalf of our neighbors, that we must now worship the one person in the world who was loudly “right” about all this since the beginning, but only if we also admit that we were all fools, all except for that one person who is thrilled to smash others down: “Woohoo!” and all that… I see it all the time, as people also try to direct how I should be handling a public institution like a church with so very many immuno- or otherwise health-compromised elderly parishioners:
- Heck with you, Father Byers, for having your parish closed!
- Heck with you, Father Byers, for having your parish open!
- Heck with you, Father Byers, for providing the sacraments throughout the State of North Carolina!
- Heck with you, Father Byers, for not providing the sacraments throughout the State of North Carolina!
The thing is, they don’t know what is going on with me and my parish because they don’t ask or just assume they know. That’s the same arrogance and hyper-narcissism we’ve all heard from those who are always “right” about this and everything else.
Isn’t that tiresome? Do we have to claim divine knowledge – the gnostic heresy – in order to be “acceptable” to others, getting all emotional, because the most extreme of emotions wins the “argument”?
We don’t have to claim we know everything. That’s for the entitlement generation, who are entitled to be right no matter what.
Why not just be charitable with others and do what we can in the circumstances we find ourselves in? Much better that, compared to any entitlement dances of being “right.”
And anyway, this isn’t over, is it? No. Things change every day.
“SHUT UP, FATHER BYERS! I’M RIGHT BECAUSE I’M ME!”
I’m guessing I have not much of any more of a reaction to such reactions. There’s no way I’m going to engage any such person. It doesn’t work. So, I say: “What-eh-vur…”
With some merely state-wise but not U.S. Constitution-wise civil disobedience proceeding in our little parish, what with the full Mass and Adoration and Confession schedules, everything was then cancelled on the schedule, but not because of any law enforcement intervention, not because of any cases of Coronavirus of anyone in the parish. In fact, my own Covid-19 test result (negative) was just reported to me minutes ago by the head doctor of the Cherokee County Health Department.
A very kind parishioner in the backsides of the beyonds in far western Graham county offered not only to fix up Jenny the Jeep as a “woods-truck” (what with her burnt out electrical system and smashed up steering gear box, etc) …
… but he’s also kindly offered to supply the rectory with a wood-stove.
Meanwhile, another kind parishioner was taking down some trees next to the church and offered me a cherry and a hickory for the would-be wood-stove to come. I asked whether the ivy covering the hickory was poison, and he said that he thought it was kudzu, but not anything poisonous as far as he knew.
It turned out that 99.9% was English Ivy, you know, the innocuous kind that covers old ivy league institutions like Cambridge and Harvard and Yale. But 0.01% was poison oak. It was hiding. The tree guys dropped off the logs at the rectory and spent days cutting up the logs to stove-length while removing the ivy, putting the ivy in piles, and burning the ivy, all the while oblivious to the poison oak. Here’s the difference with the two, the poison oak having wilted immediately, while the English Ivy is staying quite fresh:
The bare forearms were scrapping against the rough bark of the logs, and that’s what I thought the rash was on Thursday and Friday and Saturday, but then by Saturday it was all too much. By that time the arms were leaking and I had to admit something was amiss. I got some advice and bought some things at the pharmacy, including a bag of Epsom salts and some Calamine lotion. But the eye’s also went crazy:
The leaking on the arms was so exaggerated that it washed the Epsom Salts right off. We didn’t have poison oak up in Minnesota when I was a kid, and the poison ivy is only really in bush form where I was from. My situational awareness for the unexpected is obviously suffering a bit. It must be all the double negatives so common here…
My primary care doctor is unavailable until mid-June, so I made an appointment with the Cherokee County Health Department. “The worse case I have ever seen,” said the nice doctor. I was given an 80 mg shot of Methylprednisolone and given the simultaneous usual six day tapering off course of tablets also of Methylprednisolone. I asked about a prescription cream for the itching, but considering the oozing and how deeply rooted it was, she said that creams would do “nothing.” So, I got a prescription for Hydroxyzine tablets. It’s all working pretty well. It’s still a bit like a hair shirt…
Meanwhile, a very kind neighbor who is not susceptible to poison anything offered to remove the ivy for me. How good is that?! Great!
Meanwhile, because of all the steroids, I was told to self-quarantine, not because of any Coronavirus, but because I now have entirely zero immune system. To have even a temporary immunodeficiency during this time of Coronavirus is not good.
QUESTION FOR ANY READERS WHO ARE IN THE KNOW MEDICALLY:
I’ve not been able to find anything on the half-life of the steroids, that is, when it seriously starts to weaken. So I looked up the calendar effectiveness of Methylprednisolone. By some accounts it looks to be five days for poison ivy. For other conditions it’s two weeks, or for some things three weeks. I want to get out out of my self-quarantine ASAP. But when will that be safe for me? I also don’t want to be in an exaggeratedly vulnerable position, get Coronavirus but with no symptoms, and then spread it about to my vulnerable parishioners. So, does anyone have a good estimate of the timings for my re-entry into societal contact?
Meanwhile, the nice doctor at the Health Clinic said that we will be getting serology testing in another week or two and I can come down for that test. Not that it necessarily means anything – as there are so very many variables – but at least it is something even if only an occasion for overconfidence.
Governor Cooper of North Carolina will be opening up some church possibilities on Friday, May 8, 2020. Much more on that later. But this past weekend and into the start of the week, as a for-instance, we already had the full parish schedule going, with Masses and Confessions and Adoration, the works. I’m happy to see the flowers that people brought for Mary and her dear Son, Jesus. I mean, the whole time I’ve been trying to provide the sacraments, particularly the Last Rites and Confessions and Holy Communion, as best I could. People are very happy also to receive the Papal Indulgences, etc., for end-of-life circumstances.
But after Mass on Monday earlier this week, everything changed for the worse, and everything was cancelled. No public Masses or Adoration for some time to come. More on that later. There always has to be a drama, right? I’ve removed the Most Blessed Sacrament from the church and brought Jesus back to what I at least consider to be a glorious little chapel in the rectory.
I think I need to name the little chapel here, you know, like putting a name plate over the door kind of thing. That will take some consideration. Any ideas?
Here are some of the “volunteers”, as one farmer-friend names such unexpected friends, coming up through the very stones next to the parish church during this weedy time that we live in. This blog has experienced some radio silence, not for some 2 1/2 weeks – lots of reasons for that – but I feel I must put up some flowers for the Immaculate Conception. Perhaps that will kick-start me into jotting down outlines of discernment on so very many aspects of these rocky Coronavirus times. There are dozens of drafts in the admin section of the blog, beginning of posts that were abandoned as contingencies of urgent pastoral care took priority.
There has been much fake news both from the left and, alas, also from the right, with people not knowing where to land as the scientific indications are just as fake, or not. Who knows? or is it WHO knows? or not? But many feel they nonetheless they must choose “sides” with great emotion regardless of the politically correct spectrum being somewhat un-clarified. It’s almost as if horseshoe bats from China have been biting people, pretending they were each impersonating Count Dracula from some the other side of some forest in Transylvania.
The truth of the matter is that we don’t know much about the truth of the matter. There simply is no taking things at face value. We just can’t land on any solid conclusions in a time also – mind you – of a U.S. presidential election. There is more and also much less sincere reporting going on in the news media. So, what to do?
It is always a good idea to remain steadfast in one’s relationship with Jesus, perhaps opening up one’s eyes a bit more to the times in which Jesus lived with all of its similar misinformation. Even when there seems to be a bright moment, with people crying out to greet our Lord riding into Jerusalem on a donkey on that first “Palm Sunday,” it will be the same ones who would soon be asking for His death.
Mary saw it all. She’s been there, done that, seen it all before. Have we lost a loved one because of Covid-19? She lost her dear Son due to misinformation in her time.
Jesus said that the very stones would cry out. The stones around our parish church are crying out. They are on the “Guadalupe” side of the church. The crying out might have been fickle in the time of our Lord, but it was still a crying out. Our own cries might be fickle, unbeknownst to us, but our Lord, with the maternal intercession of His good mom, can rectify our wavering prayer, and have cries issue from a steadfast friendship regardless of any rivers of misinformation. So, some flowers from the stones for you, Mary.
Yours truly took this picture early Monday morning after sleeping over at the Kure Beach beach house of some good friends to which I arrived at about 12:30 AM Sunday night. I was told to go right in to the second floor of that house (which is up on stilts, of course), and then head up to the third floor, go the end of the hallway, and use the bedroom suit that I will find with pictures of Pope Benedict and Saints John Paul II and Mother Teresa.
That means that I had to have left the rectory in Andrews, NC, at least some eight hours previously, Sunday afternoon. Indeed, after Divine Mercy Sunday Mass, and while doing up a ride-along with the PD as chaplain, a call came in requesting my presence at the beach. Great! Off I went in Sassy the Subaru.
The picture below is taken from the exact same spot as the picture on the top of this post, just turned to the South. That’s the pier just north of Myrtle Beach, which brings back many memories with mom and dad. We all walked down the pier together some thirty years ago. It would only be a few years later that they would both have passed on. I’m so nostalgic…
Those good friends? She’s a prosecuting attorney, and he, after a spectacular career in law enforcement, enjoys providing consultation presentations all around the world to assist in strategies for the most difficult logistics in law enforcement and incarceration and parole. He was home because of… of course… the Coronvirus lock down. Here’s what I found on the other side of “my room” for the night:
Scandalous! Absconding from duty! A priest going to the beach while there is a declared State of Emergency (read the government notice in the top picture)! What about taking care of the Lord’s little flock? What about providing the Last Rites to those in need? And worse, using pious pictures to cover over such cowardice, leaving the flock untended!
There’s always two sides to any story, right? Well, here’s the truth of it:
After these good friends provided me with coffee and scrumptious scrambled eggs early the next morning, after just a few minutes of catching up, the pastoral plan they had hatched with me hours earlier on Divine Mercy Sunday afternoon went into action. My Google Maps feature on the phone was locked in, and away I went to another residence which sports this massive well-done statue out on the road (reminding me of The Old Man and the Boy by Robert Ruark +1965, a book my mom made sure I read so long ago):
You have to know that the Director of Liturgy in that far away diocese has draconian policies on the provision of sacraments in this time of Coronavirus. This is public knowledge. Horrific. A nightmare for the faithful who want to the sacraments. Some of the reaction of some of the priests of that diocese are less than beneficial. It seems one would not provide the proper sacramental formulae, just saying something invalid for any sacrament, such as Have a nice day. Another just left a message saying he’s unavailable at this time. Another does up sacraments, invalidly, over the phone.
So these great friends of mine called me, who am not quite a 900 mile round trip away. We have a mutual friend, a close friend, who could not find a priest to do what any priest should do, even with him now leaving this life to be on his way to the next. I dropped everything and got there as fast as I could.
Don’t think I’m virtuous in doing that. Not at all. I absolutely love racing about as a Missionary of Mercy, as Jesus’ priest, and doing what any priest should do. I have great neighbors who watch over the house and feed the dogs. I had an absolutely wonderful time racing back and forth at night on pretty much entirely empty highways and entirely empty back roads. Fortunately, it was a day after a fierce rainfall, and the fallen trees had already been pushed out of the way by bigger vehicles than mine:
That’s on the way back, early Monday afternoon, at the start of the one-lane gravel road up Holy Souls Mountain, though still a few miles from the Holy Souls Hermitage. At the house of the neighbor to the hermitage I picked up fully seven October Beans which had been set aside for me to plant. That’s a lot. I am most grateful. More on that later.
The neighbors there weren’t home and I didn’t need to stick around for more Last Rites. They were at the doctors, which should tell you something in these times of basically zero face-to-face meetings with any medical personnel if at all possible. As it is, all reports of a zillion invasive tests came back with the best outcome possible. No Last Rites – again – were needed. I’m very happy with that. Thank you, Jesus.
Meanwhile, I do have a standing invitation to “go to the beach” any time I want. ;-)
Sometimes, honestly, I think I have way, way, way tooooo much fun as a priest. I’m totally happy watching Jesus be the priest, with me just going along for the ride. :-)
When I got back, I did up some grocery shopping for the elderly health-compromised in the parish, delivered those groceries, also delivering bacon to some good friends that I had picked up on the way back (10 pounds!), and then got back to the rectory once again. It’s now Tuesday morning. How did that happen so quickly? In just a few minutes after I publish this, Father Gordon MacRae is going to call for an hour or so, as I missed the usual Monday morning call. So I better end this here. Glad to be back.
Pilate in the center, Jesus in light, Barabbas in the dark.
When Pilate asks whom the people want him to release, as was the custom during the High Holy Days, the people shout repeatedly: “We want Barabbas! We want Barabbas!”
Jesus is the Divine Son of the Father, laying down His life for us, the Innocent for the guilty, taking on the punishment each one of us deserves so as to have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us. Hours before, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed to His Father: “Abba! Father!”
Jesus, the Divine Son of the Father is passed over in favor of Barabbas, whose name, in full irony, means “Son of the Father.” And so are we all created and now redeemed as children of our gracious Heavenly Father.
Has any of us ever said about anyone anywhere, “Better him than me”?
Meanwhile, the people, all of us, received what we wanted: Barabbas.
And then this is what happened to Jesus before being crucified:
Notice the clever film editing: Jesus, who was at the right hand of the political powers that be, is now on the left hand of the political powers that be.
Humor: So, in prison, two good friends, Father Gordon MacRae and Pornchai Maximilian Moontri, celebrated Palm Sunday Mass with the reading of the Passion. Max took all the parts except Jesus and the Narrator, meaning he also had, for instance, the crowd.
Max, you have to know, is from Thailand, and grew up speaking Thai until 11 years old, when he was effectively stolen away to Maine, being a horrific saga that has turned out well in the end. The point is that he doesn’t have perfect English Pronunciation of Hebrew, which means that… drum roll… wait for it…
At the point where the crowd yells: “We want Barabbas! We want Barabbas!” Max instead reads, entirely innocently: “We want Baber-Ass! We want Baber-Ass!”
Father Gordon said that he somehow contained his laughter. I would have laughed so loudly the guards would have had to show up in force.
This is one of those epic, epic moments in the life of Jesus’ little flock. A story that will surely be told in heaven, hopefully with also a redeemed and saved Barabbas listening.
Meanwhile, on this Friday of Easter week – every day like Easter Day…