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Coronavirus: Adoration of Jesus in this parish overruled by SCOTUS? We couldn’t care less. We’re with 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…
I would never have started gardening if not for the Coronavirus and lockdowns. I do exhaust myself with religious activities that are possible in these difficult times – putting a zillion miles on Sassy the Subaru – but there is also a moment here or there as the days turn into weeks and months.
I would never have started gardening if not for Keto. It’s not that I will be growing anything that is necessarily Keto friendly, it’s that I was so overweight previous to Keto that I just could not do up something like gardening. Never.
- Weeding and then weed-eating around Brakeman and the Papal Flag. The flag is a bit disintegrated at the moment. An analogy there. Meanwhile, Brake-Man, appropriately, continues to represent now rusty mankind in all of the effects of Adam’s original sin, putting on the brakes on everything. He’s made out of brakes by my artistic and mechanically minded neighbor to the hermitage of yore. He stands next to the day lilies roaring back to their springtime glories.
- Planting Spaghetti Squash seeds next to the rose bush. Who knows…
- Constructing seed-boxes – with bottoms – for the top of the steps to either side of the door, in front of Mary and Anthony of Padua. The wood is left over from the hermitage. These are for leaf-lettuce. I’ll be off the Keto diet by the time this gets ready to pick.
- Cutting down dead branches from the Ceder trees out back and constructing Tepee style bean poles. My neighbor to the hermitage is graciously going to supply me with enough October Beans to take over the front of the rectory. October beans are loved by humming birds as a fierce battle ground. The beans are so big that you only need a handful for soup.
Still planks left over… I know!
The storm we had the past couple of days flooded the creek to overflowing, which brought water and debris throughout the rectory lot, lapping up against the foundation of the house, but these seed-boxes might just be high enough to keep their future contents from being washed away.
All the seed boxes are half-filled with the manure of Cooper-the-Therapy-Pony, who lives in the neighbor’s adjoining back yard. Cooper is only about twice the size of Shadow-dog. The rest of the seed boxes are filled with potting soil and then mixed up. These are spread out along the fence for a reason. There are two mounds in each box, six altogether. Three will be for straight neck yellow squash; three will be for cucumbers. The vines are long, but there is plenty of room for them. They will also mature when I’m off the Keto diet.
I’ll have to “ride fence” daily as the vines start to grow to length, making sure that they are tied up to the fence, making the lawn available for easy mowing.
More things to do:
- Mulch for the front around the October Beans and Day Lilies
- Perhaps some flowers for the front steps on either side, effectively hiding the fronts of the boxes and honoring Mary and St Anthony.
- I’m thinking of tomatoes… Perhaps Early Girls… They would actually go in the carport… a peculiar setup there… We’ll see…
All because of Keto and Coronavirus…
The Empty Tomb! The Light is shining brightly. Here’s the Easter Fire we had…
The Light of Christ always was and is and will be shining. Christ’s love, His grace, His presence within us, a love stronger than death, bringing us from the darkness of this world to eternal life, comes from – just to say it – Jesus, who is always alive even in His momentary physical death. We see that glory of the only Begotten of the Father in the darkness of Calvary – glory unto glory of the Light from Light, a love that is proven, with wounds, with taking on our punishment of our sin, standing in our place, the Innocent for guilty, to have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us. We all look upon Him whom we have all pierced.
Because He endured to the end, dying for us, He conquered, and is is victorious. He has the right to give us the wherewithal, that grace, that friendship, that we might walk with Him in this world right unto the next, even with our justly still suffering the effects of original sin, our own personal sin, and the sin of others while we are yet in this world. We are weak and continue to be weak. But He is strong and draws us up into His strength.
Even the weakness helps us, reminding us of why we need salvation out of the total hell of this world so that we might be brought to heaven in eternity. We are so very weak that we need to be reminded. All things work together for the benefit of those who believe. We find our security in His love that is, again, stronger than any weakness, stronger than any disease, stronger than death. This brings us joy, and a peace adequate to go on because this is not just some intellectual “ideology”, but a living faith, a bond of charity with God Himself. It’s personal.
Yes, there is an empty Saint Peter’s Square and empty Saint Peter’s Basilica:
So what?! Everyone is scampering to meet Jesus in the upper room and then up in Galilee. Great. I’m running 24/7 all this time. Aren’t you? Peter and the “other Apostle” ran to see the Empty Tomb. Great. But then what…
“Let’s go fishing…”
We are so very weak.
More on that later.
Meanwhile, this is the Octave of Easter. It’s like Easter Sunday every day until next Sunday.
I, for one, am exhausted from my scampering about. I can’t speak much about all that as there are different interpretations of the law regarding quarantines. I just do what I need to do to provide the Sacraments. Clever as snakes but innocent as doves and all that. But, thanks be to God, I am joyful, and at peace. Thanks be to God.
I hope ye are all doing well. Happy Easter to ye all. Be at peace. With joy.
Today news came that a certain test of someone came back negative for Coronavirus. Great. That’s a burden lifted for me and many others.
Today I was called by the nursing home to give Last Rites to someone, which I did. In the midst of all the special rules for nursing homes in the time of Coronavirus, this was wonderful. A consolation to all.
Today, because of Coronavirus, I celebrated the “Mass if the Presanctified”, to wit, the Good Friday Service, alone with Jesus. As a priest, alone with Jesus for Good Friday… Tremendous are the Sacred Mysteries of our salvation.
Today I had the privilege to go shopping for the elderly and health compromised. Such a joy. Imagine that. Joy on Good Friday.
Today a very close friend got me up to date on some projects providing prophylaxis over against Coronavirus. This involves the Pentagon and a group which can only be described as DARPA on ultra-super steroids, for all of which he is a consultor. This will be a game changer. A sea change in practice now and moving forward.
Today was running a zillion miles an hour. Now I collapse in bed as I publish this, happy for this day and yet feeling I should have done much more, prayed much more…
But this I know… I am certain of it… Our dear Lord in laying down His life for us is very good and kind and loves us very much.
Coronavirus, even if it touches every aspect of our lives, is still just a sideshow. What really counts is Jesus, whose love is stronger than death. Jesus is the One. He’s the only One.
Independent modeling studies came up with the same thing.
I’ve been subjected to a couple of twenty something guys sneezing in my direction at the supermarket and then laughing, and then two twenty something girls on different occasions also at the supermarket coughing in my direction so that I would exit that aisle forthwith, which I did. They wanted to be alone in the aisle. I mean, it was a thing: glancing up to see a person entering the aisle on the far side of the store, squaring off while staring me down, and the deliberately repeatedly coughing. Sigh. Whateeeever. Such entitlement antics would be humorous if they weren’t so sad. And if the video above is accurate about aerosolised molecules, such antics are also useless. But that might let people know where they are at in regard to respect for their neighbor. I don’t expect respect, but disrespect that is also dangerous is slightly annoying.
Coronavirus: Question *after* fetching Oils of the Chrism Mass on Last Rites, Confessions, “essential” priests
Just before midnight, Monday night, stretching into early Tuesday of Holy Week – the usual day for the Chrism Mass in this Diocese – I was assisting at an urgent situation that included someone presenting with a persistent slight cough (I noticed), and who – hours later on Tuesday trundled off to get tested because of sharply increased symptoms for COVID-19. Of course, since we are in a healthcare desert, any test done here doesn’t take five minutes. The results can take four to five days or even longer. Yours truly was within six feet of said person for perhaps thirty minutes or more all told. Said person later Tuesday evening informed someone who, about 10:30 PM that same Tuesday, just 23 hours after the “proximity incident”, informed yours truly.
Meanwhile, Tuesday afternoon, before that information came my way, on way way back home after retrieving the Sacred Oils after the Chrism Mass in Charlotte, I stopped to see some friends to drop something off – this taking only seconds and with me wearing my N-95 Mask. I then repeated this a few hours later, at 8:00 PM, leaving another package with another friend, with me wearing my N-95 Mask and already being in the car before that friend came outside. So, both of these stops were in less than a day of the “proximity incident.” As I understand it, it takes more than 48 hours to begin to start “shedding” Coronavirus molecules. All are safe and sound.
So, now, as of this writing, now late Wednesday morning, some 58 1/2 hours have passed since assisting in the midst of that “proximity incident.” That’s about the time, right now, that I would start to perhaps begin “shedding” Coronavirus molecules, regardless of whether or not I myself developed any symptoms. I could turn out to be a “carrier.”
Should I quarantine myself, or self-isolate? Let’s review the technical terms and the regulations regarding same that were in force until Wednesday afternoon, April 8, 2020:
- “According to the CDC, quarantines are meant to restrict the movement of people who may have been exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. These individuals are asymptomatic but have either traveled to an area with an active outbreak of the virus, or have had close contact with a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19. Self-quarantining allows health officials to closely monitor the development of symptoms, if any, while preventing further transmission of the virus. Those who are asked to self-quarantine will be told to stay home and avoid contact with others for 14 days.”
- Isolation, meanwhile, refers to separating those who are already sick from the rest of the population. Self-isolation provides individuals the opportunity to recover from the virus without spreading it to others. Patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 should self-isolate until the following:
You have had no fever for at least 72 hours (that is three full days of no fever without the use medicine that reduces fevers)
- AND other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of breath have improved)
- AND at least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared. The decision to stop home isolation should be left to healthcare providers and local health authorities.
Later on Wednesday afternoon, April 8, 2020, at the usual presser, that advice was somewhat changed, to wit (from PBS):
The federal government has released new guidelines for when people in critical infrastructure roles can return to work after being exposed to a confirmed or suspected case of coronavirus. The guidance pertains to essential critical workers who have been exposed to COVID-19. For those individuals, the guidelines advise:
- Take your temperature before work.
- Wear a face mask at all times.
- Practice social distancing in the workplace as work duties permit
The guidelines advise individuals not to:
- Stay at work if you become sick.
- Share headsets or other items used near one’s face.
- Congregate in the break room, lunchroom, or other crowded places.
Employers are asked to:
- Take the employee’s temperature and assess their symptoms before the employee starts back at work.
- If the employee becomes sick during the day, they should be sent home immediately.
- Increase the air exchange in the building.
- Increase the cleaning of commonly touched surfaces.
- Test the use of face masks to ensure they don’t interfere with workflow.
[…] The CDC defines a potential exposure as “being a household contact or having close contact within 6 feet of an individual with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. The timeframe for having contact with an individual includes the period of time of 48 hours before the individual became symptomatic.”
The new guidance apply only to workers in critical infrastructure jobs. That category has been defined by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (part of the Department of Homeland Security), but only as an advisory list, not a federal standard.
By CISA’s reckoning, the category includes certain workers in healthcare and public health, law enforcement and first responders, food and agriculture, energy, water and wastewater, transportation, public works, critical manufacturing, financial services, communications, among other sectors. […]
Redfield said the new guidelines are for workers in critical roles who “have been within six feet of a confirmed case or a suspected case,” so that they can go back to work under certain circumstances. […]
So, will this priest continue to offer Confessions and Last Rites, and will he continue to assist as Chaplain to the Law Enforcement family? There are essential roles to play even in the eyes of an atheist, such as suicide prevention and death notification. Wicked, horrifically violent crimes continue to happen even in this small hamlet of Andrews, NC. Hearing Confessions and giving the Last Rites are protected under the First Amendment, even under the Federal, State, County and Town restrictions. And they are essentially important. I can’t imagine the despair and the chaos that might well ensue if this was all to be taken away as well. I will continue.
By the way and just to say, CISA, mentioned above, is a rather serious player in all this. I just met with a close friend who is a member of CISA, who “does stuff” for CISA, who carries a “pass”, if you will, that has all check point law enforcement wave him right on through when he gets to the check point. He has no problem with me doing all that I am doing. :-)
Oh, and also, as of this writing, as of this publishing, I have zero symptoms. Regarding temperature, since I started Keto last November 1019 – losing now fully 63 pounds (and this is common) – I am no longer at 98.6 F, but hover around ~97.6 or ~97.7. For now. I mean, I never get sick, until I do, right?
Having said all that, I would like to stay put for the next days to see what happens. I am semper paratus for the Sacred Triduum to begin later this evening.