Tag Archives: Day Off

Opening day of a life of sadness

The other day – the “Day Off” – the traffic jam on the interstate was mentioned with the dozens of emergency vehicles with so many trailers of search and rescue rafts going by. The above picture I took shows just one of those trailers racing by in the breakdown lane with three of those rafts. There were at least 15 rafts coming from – I thought – as far away as the other part of the State, Winston-Salem, but I was told yesterday that they came from as far away as the Atlantic coast. You can read the road sign. I think it said that it was still 15 miles to Canton. I never did see any accident, and only found out the next day that this was no traffic accident, say, over a bridge, but rather a flooding catastrophe of the town of Canton. The town was flooded. The residences were flooded.

One story I heard was of a woman floating through town in her trailer-home, going about four streets downstream until she hit a tree, hard. Another story, so sad… so very sad… recounted by the wife… said that her husband, a special ops military guy in superb physical shape, sitting in the passenger seat of the car, got smacked hard in the head in the chaos and wound up outside the vehicle, still not found in the ravaging waters. Hail Mary…

The angels were at work with impossible coincidences, and I was able to deliver a load of food from the Joe El-Khouri Mercy Outreach of our little parish here in Andrews to Grace Community Church on scene. I had an EMT as navigator. Without him, I never would have found the tucked away little church which was super busy with relief efforts. God bless them.

There were, as of yesterday afternoon, two dead and twenty-six missing, two days later… That’s a huge blow to this village. They have no gymnasium or makeshift shelters to go to. FEMA can’t come in until the rescue effort is finished. That will be quite a while yet. With waters receding and people wanting to get what they can from any upper level of their homes, another priority is to educate about the deadly black mold which starts to grow almost immediately.

Hail Mary…

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Filed under Day Off, Death

Day Off Road Danger

Fredo the Hurricane, Tropical Storm, Rain-Cloud weather system visited us yesterday. Escaping flooding at the rectory I chased off at 6:00 AM to go to a doctor’s appointment in Brevard. I did do up that medical appointment, and then saw a doctor of the soul, a priest, and was able to go to Confession some town away from there (which I try to do weekly, the best way to go to heaven).

  • Within minutes of leaving the rectory, zipping through the Nantahala Gorge, there were three downed trees over that river road, already cut away as people travel with chain saws for this reason on super-rainy days. I myself have cut away fully seven trees over the highway in my times in the parish here. Yesterday, one of the trees in particular looked to have been hit by a vehicle, a likely event on the blind-cliff-edge-curves at night with pouring rain.
  • Getting out on the Smoky Mountain Expressway, there were early morning accidents, but already being attended.
  • On the way back, there was a parking lot experience for many hours on Interstate 40. Old style manual shift on steep hills for hours of a traffic jam is… interesting. Dozens of emergency vehicles passed by on the breakdown down lane and using the central median. In the mayhem, a fire engine suffered a broken axel and was left behind. There were, I’m guessing, some 15 rescue rafts being hauled to whatever scene by emergency vehicles. Plenty of ambulances, State Troopers… I hate to image what happened with that…
  • Meanwhile, I passed over some mud from two side by side landslides that had crashed up to Interstate 40 but without leaving dangerous debris – for the seconds I passed by – but then a couple minutes later an emergency alert came over the phone telling people not to use the breakdown lane, as that had to be kept free for emergency vehicles, as a landslide just at that spot just then had totally compromised the highway. We had been moving along with no one in the breakdown lane at all. A highway stopping landslide had taken place, I guess, seconds after I had just passed by.
  • Not long after that – and I just missed seeing this accident by literally a second – I came upon a pickup truck crashed out right in the middle of the interstate. It had slid hard into the concrete barriers, twice, and bounced back onto the highway. Smoke coming from the windows made me think the worst as I ran to them, but the smoke was not smoke at all. It was clouds of deployed air-bag dust. I saw they were alive, though rather stunned, and then collected their front and back bumpers on the highway – as that large debris surely would have caused more accidents – throwing, then, the bumpers into the bed of their truck. Waving traffic away and asking one guy who actually slowed down to call 911, I got their truck off the highway. I told them that their engine was gushing oil and they couldn’t drive any further. One other guy stopped to help. There are good people, but so many hardly slowed down in super dangerous conditions with many people walking on the highway itself. Sad, that.
  • Finally, getting back to the last stretch going through the Nantahala Gorge again…. nope. A landslide had crashed over the highway in the Gorge. That would have happened not long after I had passed through that morning, as there was about a quarter mile of barrels and back-lit information signs and backlit arrow signs and more upright barriers barring access to the Gorge. Those take time to put up. The detour was put on the other side of the mountain chain, in the neighboring county.
  • Finally, finally, getting home… uh oh… my own street was blocked because of the rushing overflowing flood waters of the Town Branch, which is the border of the lot of the rectory. “Town Branch” would better be named “Town Torrent.” But that had receded a bit and I was able to get into the driveway, and then sit for a time with the neighborhood that had gathered on the porch of the next door neighbor’s house.

The best road I was on yesterday was the road to heaven, what with going to Confession and all. Jesus is the Way, the Only Way. And the priestly conversation after was spectacular. And “Days Off” are always an adventure.

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Filed under Confession, Day Off, Road danger

Day Off: Confession. Way too much fun.

In these days of idiot political lockdowns trying to scare good Americans it’s important to get out in nature, do up some wholesome recreation, see friends, go to Confession. Find a way to do these things if you can. Make a concerted effort. Get friends to help you if need be. Friends are always good to be friends with. :-)

The other day brought yours truly all over North Carolina, with a very late start to the day because of black ice in this furthest-west mountainous part of the state. There were four stops to be made. The first was logistic, the second provided a “flower for the Immaculate Conception” (more on that later), the third was for Confession (thank you, Jesus!), the fourth was… (more on that below).

Meanwhile, outside of the “four lane” as the locals call the interstate system, Sassy the Subaru bounced the curves of over 100 miles of extreme mountain roads. The steering wheel often went fully 90゚or 180゚and more in one direction and instantly in the other, back and forth, making the car actually bounce the suspension. Waaay tooo much fun for this priest. Thank you, Jesus!

Back to the fourth stop. I had been invited to use a private range during the last moments of daylight. I was hoping I would be able to do that as I had a new magazine of a type never used in my Glock previously. I really had to put out some rounds out in order to trust its mechanics and to see what would happen to any would-be flip. Because there is no ammo to be had which isn’t four weeks out and four times the price, target practice is pretty much otherwise out of the question. But this was necessary.

Result: I totally couldn’t believe it. I’ve been beating myself up in this time of Wuhan idiocy, thinking that surely I’m not a natural at gunslingery and therefore the fundamentals and the accuracy and speed would have degraded somewhat with little to no practice. But his wasn’t the case at all. Not. At. All.

Single shots from a locked holster 25 feet out were under time and dead-on for the pre-2001 Federal Air Marshal course (and using a much smaller target). I only did a few of these as there was obviously no need to do more. Great! Best I’ve ever shot, especially cold barrel. Single shots and double taps with the new and weird magazine were also dead on. I emptied that magazine as I had to see if the spring would work the whole way though. All good. That put a smile on my face. That kind of experience to be had a myriad wholesome ways is important. Think of some and do them up in what ways you can.

There was no time for pictures. Just time for the Angelus, and then racing the roads. So, the top pic is from years ago, two overlapping Folgers Breakfast Blend plastic tops (depicting a hostage situation). The idea back in the day was to spin around 30 feet out and instantly take the shot, only hitting – ever – the plastic cover in the back representing the head of the perp (to the left in the pic), entirely avoiding the overlapping cover representing the head of the hostage (to the right in the pic). I must have gotten some muscle memory that day. I remember it well, in detail. Something like 450 rounds without missing even once.

The few rounds I put out on the Day Off the other day were a great recreation, getting me out in nature, and the speed and accuracy gave me some confidence. Over confidence would be bad, and there were two traffic events yesterday, right at the start and right at the end, which had me develop some situational awareness, a hoot altogether. I had to laugh out loud at both. More on that… later.

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Filed under Confession, Day Off, Guns

The Day Off was like a week, and it ain’t over yet…

The Day Off started last Saturday with phone calls coming in over other calls all in the middle of The-Priest-Sprint® that runs, so to speak, from about 4:00 AM Saturday morning until Sunday night when I collapse, having gotten up at 2:00 AM on Sunday. Those calls were weighing on me when texts came in with a request that would require bilocation all day on the Day Off. But I ain’t no Padre Pio. Ain’t gonna happen. I had to put that off for another Day Off, having found out that I had already been volunteered by higher-ups to make an intervention that would clock something between 500 and 600 miles on Sassy the Subaru on the Day Off. I haven’t yet recovered from that, with yet more phone calls requiring follow-ups for analogous situations. The Day Off started at 1:45 AM and didn’t stop until something like just before 10:00 PM.

The days are running together with The-Priest-Sprint® continuing more than just the weekend. Time runs together, melts into one time when past is future, future is past, a blur in the midst of the present. All a bit surreal. But then, the good Lord holds all time in His hands as just another creation of His. He was born in time that we might be borne up through, with and in Him into eternity. He was born to die that we might live. He was born upon the wood of the manger that when He would be lifted up on the wood of the cross He might, as He said, draw all to Himself, to heaven, but, on Calvary, right through all of hell broken out. He conquered the violence of Herod at His birth in Bethlehem. He conquered the violence of hell at our birth to life on Calvary. The disparateness of time is brought together in His Heart. And it is with His Heart that we find the Immaculate Heart of His dear Immaculate Virgin Mother. Thank you Jesus. Thank you Mary.

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Filed under Christmas, Day Off, Time

Fr George critiques shooting skills of el Sicario for new American gun owners

There’s millions of new American gun owners in just this past year. I’m wondering how many are practiced up, how many pay attention to stupid representations of gun skills such as we see in the Sicario films. Mind you, I haven’t seen those films, just some YouTube clips. But with that little exposure even I, also a fairly new first time gun owner (Glock 19), know that what happens above should not be imitated by anyone ever, not only the extra-judicial “justice” wrought by our Sicario friend, but also his grip. He’s held up as being the best of the best, but if you take lessons in, say, how to grip a pistol from him, you will die the first time you try to defend yourself or others, say, in a church setting, from unprovoked, mortal aggression being actively delivered against the innocent by a mass shooter, so to speak. No offence to you, Benicio del Toro, sir! I’m guessing that you’ll agree with me that your advisers on gun use baited you into doing stupid things.

If you follow the fiction of the film above, you’ll get off your first shot, sure, maybe even on target (I doubt it), but because of the stupid grip pictured in that “front picture” chosen for the video above, you’ll not be able to get off a second shot before you are shot yourself. Your gun will jam, no matter what. It makes me think that our Sicario friend has never shot a pistol in his life. Notice the thumb of the weak hand pressed super-tightly against the slide? That cannot work in real life. Cannot. In fact, in the last two seconds of that video above, when he takes out the cartel boss, you see that his thumb is pressed hard against the slide, and the slide only slightly and slowly moves back, like 1/2 inch. If it was like that for the first shot of el Sicario against the wife of the cartel boss in the video above, the gun would have jammed, the boys would still be alive and the boss man would have shot our Sicario guy quite dead. The slide has to be completely free to slide, not only to eject the used casing, but to load up the next round. Don’t be the thumb on the slide guy.

Even worse, don’t be the guy who takes advice from cool special ops guys who condescend to tell you stuff while downing beers and thinking you’ll never be in a situation to use the information anyway, and so they are not careful about what they say about scenario usage. For instance, in the video below get a load of this most stupid use of a pistol that may have come from mis-taught or misinterpreted but otherwise in any other situation good training. It’s looks cool because in the situation its use is super sarcastic and likewise condescending. But this is all going to make for the death of the shooter when he runs out of bullets before even once hitting his target even at point blank range. Shooting with the mistakes that are made by our Sicario friend will mean that you won’t be able to hit the broadside of a barn from inside the barn. Watch the insane gun-flip and where oh where the strong hand trigger finger goes:

It’s not because there’s anything wrong with this style of shooting. It’s because he himself gets a number of things totally wrong.

  • Know that in real life, in an immediate justified defense of the innocent from an active shooter actively killing people, you’re not going to have time to use two hands in this clumsy fashion. No.
  • Know that your strong hand trigger finger shouldn’t be on the slide like el Sicario. That’s going to inhibit the slide when the pistol is fired by the other hand, meaning the first shot will fire (likely off target), but that the gun will jam before you even get to the second shot. And you’ll be shot before you clear that and load up again. El Sicario tries not to hold that strong hand trigger finger hard against the slide, but it is belted around as the gun is fired, so that it’s hard pressed against the slide, or not. But it’s all wild. There is no muscle memory for the trigger finger of the strong hand to be on the slide…
  • Know that your normal trigger finger is going to “get nervous” and start curling under the slide to get in the trigger well where it normally is when firing a gun, in this case, interfering with the other trigger finger already there. That’s what happens above to el Sicario. That makes for zero hits.
  • Know that you have almost zero grip on the gun with just three “weak” fingers on the grip because you have your normal trigger index finger on the slide. Bad, that. This makes for insane flip, and that’s exactly what happens to el Sicario above. Don’t use this style of shooting unless you must.

So, why would this style of shooting ever be used?

Because when you lift up to aim at someone, your hands on your gun are center-x for the bad actor. Injuries, say, to your strong hand trigger finger are not uncommon because of this. So, yes, this is a legitimate exercise for which to practice a bit, with the strong hand thumb and three weak fingers holding the grip of the gun, but with the strong hand trigger finger curled up against the grip, not on the slide or messing with the trigger well. The video directly above is one of the worst examples of gun-slingerry in the entire history of Hollywood. Don’t follow that bad example, but go ahead and practice this the right way.

For your very first practice mag-dump you might get something like what I did the other day just for fun, but likely better, putting out 15+1 shots from my terribly hard-pull, grindy-trigger Glock. I tried this as fast as I could get the trigger pushed with a weak hand finger. This is not bump-firing. No. You are pushing clumsily from the side of whatever finger of the weak hand (the side bit being a stabilizing factor). El Sicario does this with the gun pushed up to the palm of the weak hand, a good idea – I didn’t do that – but he does this with the wrong angle, causing wildly off target results. You want that weak trigger finger to be perpendicular to the trigger, not at any angle at all. I made that mistake as well the first mag-dump over against a 7″ foam pie plate.

You’ll notice that most all hits are left of center. That’s because of being pulled to the side by a weak hand finger over the trigger at the wrong angle. That’s so very correctable. You’ll also notice that this was at point-blank range, something like under ten feet. Can you see the powder swirl burns on the foam plate?

Warning! Don’t try this at any range other than a private range (against soft dirt, no rocks or wood…), a range that belongs to you or a friend. Otherwise you’ll be not so politely asked to never come back. This was done at a private range.

So, why would a priest who is a newbie to the gun world have such an interest as to know such things?

Is it because of his desire to be available to chaplaining for law enforcement wherever 2a is respected? Sure.

Is it because of wanting to be available to assist those who provide church security with enhanced capacities if they decide totally on their own and never mandated by the church to carry a tool that might assist in shutting down a deadly and being delivered threat? Sure. That’s it.

The diocese encourages us to have security teams. And I think that all priests should be good guard-donkeys for the sheep of Jesus’ little flock, whatever tools they can use effectively:

Donkeys were always with the Holy Family, and not just to carry around the Holy Family and their provisions. It was also for the protection of the Holy Family from the wolves (that being a young red wolf above).

Where do I get time to do this?

  • This was just some seconds on the day off, which is never a day off anyway. I didn’t do much more than this as ammo is scarce. I had lots of priest-stuff to do on the day off.
  • Recreation is also important for priests. Seriously. It’s all good when skill set capacities are honed as an enjoyable recreation, even if it’s only for just a moment.
  • In writing this, I’m also on a day off, but this day off is being used for another of important things in priestly ministry, discerning, praying.

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Epic Day Off

As long time readers know, Days Off are never quite quiet. Half way through, on the old hermitage road, a kettle of vultures had settled upon a fresh kill upon the road. Before that:

  • Help was given to the neighbors to the hermitage to pack up a couple of things, such as the church bell they are bringing with them. They are moving halfway across the state.
  • Just a bit of target practice was carried out, just for fun, with the usual destruction of I.T. rubbish. Hillary never had it so good.

Then it off to do a special blessings, you know the kind:

I got back just after midnight, but that’s another story about coming home to the dogs being poisoned. Stay tuned.

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Angels, continuous Day Off, and *The Boring Drama*

The beginning of this month was the scheduled time for the diocesan priests retreat, which didn’t happen, but the priests were to do this on their own, as I did. After that weekdays have been staycation days. That will continue through election week here in what are still these USA. Each staycation day became an epic day off, and not just for me. I’ve been more run off my feet than ever. As expected. For the nay-sayers, priests are “entitled” – I hate that word – to a month of vacation every year. I took a vacation once in my priesthood back in the Spring of 2008, invited by the Discalced Carmelites to live above the cave of Elijah on Mount Carmel for a month. Lot’s done in the background with relations between Israel and the Holy See. I never quite do vacations like other people do.

Two angels for this priest:

One of the projects at the rectory – a joy – was to make backlight boxes for the stained glass angels. Their history is the chapel of the Poor Clares in Ohio, then The Museum in Columbus, Ohio, then Holy Souls Hermitage on Holy Souls Mountain, then the picture window of the neighbors to the hermitage, and now the picture window of the rectory.

For me, these windows represent my guardian angel and the guardian angel of Holy Souls Mountain. Both are awesome – as angels reflecting God’s glory and with infused knowledge and God’s charity – and have both saved me very many times from deadly peril. A personal friendship. How are you at listening to your guardian angel? How compliant are you – a different way of putting it – to the smackdowns graciously given to you by your guardian angel?

Plotting for the good of the Church:

Besides such things, and cleaning up after the torrential rain and wind of the last hurricane, there has quite a bit of time spent with some really smart friends at the top of their game in plotting to help out Jesus’ dear Church and the world. This is what priests do when they have a bit of time to dedicate to much needed fraternity and recreation, all too rare.

It is my belief that the Living Truth, Christ our God, Jesus, desires truth pronounced for the universal Catholic Church. [[That’s technical vocabulary, is it not? ;-) ]]

Apologies for the lack of new posts for this blog: The internet in the back ridges of Appalachia is virtually non-existent. Sometimes a weak connection can be had for like three hours a day akin to 1980s long-distance-rotary-dial-up-speed with endlessly screaming modems. If you’re as old as I am, you’ll remember getting something like megabits per minute. Yes, that would be megabits not megabytes. That amounts to a few words of DOS txt per minute. For a graphic heavy blog like this… sigh

The continuous endless papal antics and ambiguity: Pope Francis has, as usual, been a distraction, but that distraction has only become an incentive to teach and preach all the more incisively about the Living Truth, Christ our God, Jesus. I’m a Catholic, not a Francesco-ite. Ambiguity and un-truth is sooooo very boring, so very dark. I love the Living Truth, Jesus, the Light.

To hell with all that is untruth, issuing as it does, from the father of lies, Satan, the ancient dragon who hates us because he hates God. That was and is Satan’s choice. That Satan roams about looking to destroy souls with all his niceness and deception, all his unity of praise of division, is all the more an incentive to me to teach and preach all the more incisively about the Living Truth, Christ our God, Jesus.

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Day Off! Exorcism & priestly fraternity

exorcism-

  • These are times in which we must condemn priests for taking days off. What is that, anyway? Have they no faith? Do they not know that the sheep are by and large without a shepherd? And how bad is it that more than one priest would ever be found in the presence of another! Let’s spread them out so that we have a more equitable distribution of the clergy. And if they were ever to enjoy some fierce theological, philosophical, liturgical, spiritual, sacramental, ecclesiological and other truly fiercely enthusiastic conversation about all levels of natural, societal and ecclesial law… – – – – – Just. No. !!!

/// off sarcasm

Here’s the deal: yesterday, all day yesterday, I was away, far away, out of state, in one of the other dioceses of these United States, having been mandated by that bishop, that local ordinary, to do up an exorcism for a gentle soul whom it was a privilege to meet. It was my normal and almost always epic “Day Off.” I make sure about that because it’s my own time and I’m NOT taking away from ministry to this parish (and assistance with the other, fully, then, four counties).

And, yes, I had an absolute blast (to use an old word of decades gone by). I love being a priest. I love priestly fraternity. It does me good. It does all priests good. Don’t begrudge your priests some “down time,” even with other priests. You never know what they might be doing for Christ Jesus and His Church, His flock.

Sorry for being so very brash. I’m just in a good mood that the Lord offers me forgiveness for my multitude of sins, offers that my name be inscribed in heaven. That’s on Him, not me. He is very good and kind.

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“Day Off” Exorcism: Slaying Dragons

Saint Michael Vatican City Jail Police Intel HQ

The main activity of the “Day Off” was taken up with an exorcism, the concluding of an exorcism.

A few take-away points:

  • Satan and his minions are great a mind-games. The demon in this case was particularly astute. Brilliant, really. But lacking in wisdom. Satan and his minions frustrate themselves because although they are the most clever of all creatures before their fall from being good angels after creation, they are now entirely lacking in wisdom after their fall, and so continue to do things that will make them frustrate themselves. No human being alone could win such mind games. But we have Jesus, who is God, who is Love. And love cuts through mind games.  If one simply refers to Jesus, that Jesus is the One, the only One, it’s a sure path to victory.
  • The session was very prayerful, as are all exorcisms done properly. You don’t want chaos and excitability, just those with you who are well-balanced and who are discreet and are believers and can pray and assist in whatever manner.
  • The delivery was entirely wonderful in thanksgiving to Jesus who powerfully manifested His presence.
  • The admonition from Jesus came to mind:
    • “Do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20)

On that last point we have to recognize that our Lord use’s irony as a major weapon against Satan. Jesus is the One who confronts Satan on Calvary. Jesus is our Warrior. The rest of us, the apostles and bishops and priests – all of us – we have all followed Satan and been subject to Satan – in original sin and personal sin – and have all crucified the Son of the Living God. Who are we, then, to command Satan to depart? In other words, Jesus has us lowly priests, sinful priests, nothing priests, but His priests, command Satan for the sake of irony, extremely crushing irony, unbearable irony, infuriating irony, irony that makes Satan and his minions writhe in their writhingness with intellectual and spiritual frustration for eternity.

Some weirdnesses about this exorcism for this young person who was accompanied by her parents, by parish staff, by friends and parish clergy, all with, of course, the express mandate of the local bishop:

  • Asking questions or giving commands in Hebrew received an immediate response appropriate to the question or command.
  • A very peculiar date and time was given, very significant to me but unknown to all, was provided. I hate that, because it’s burned in my mind and I’m bound to remember it when it comes around. But this is also a mind game. One is never to pay attention to such things. The devil is a liar and murderer from the beginning, as our Lord says. Everything he says is a lie, even if true on some level, as it couched in such a way as to mislead.

Finally, the end result was great, great joy, restful peace, for all, for the young person, for the parents, for the friends and helpers, for the clergy. Jesus was thanked. Only He is the One. Only He is the only One.

P.S. Just to say, the painting up top of this post, of Saint Michael smashing down Satan, comes from my own smart-phone camera when I was there, in that interrogation room of the head of security for Vatican City State. Yes, there’s a good story there. The question is, why did I put that painting at the top of this post?

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Filed under Day Off, Exorcism, Missionaries of Mercy

“Day Off” Slaying *The Dragon* x 4

Tail of the Dragon road map names

The day off started with the alarm ringing at 1:00 AM. Early to bed, early to rise and all that. After feeding the dogs and taking care of some chores, I jumped into Sassy the Subaru with a full tank of gas and put on 548 miles round trip that also involved the most intense road one can find anywhere in the world, that is, for a “normal state maintained road.” That’s for the second time in a week. So, four times on that stretch of road. I love it. The motorcycle crowd and sports car crowd come from all over North America to do this ride. There are no guard rails, as these slashers are more dangerous to those one two wheels or three.

I’ve had some scary incidents on the southern stretch of the Taconic Parkway heading down to the Big Apple during morning rush hour – wow… – but the “Tail” is an intensity of another kind, with the emphasis not only on constant acceleration and braking, but also on gear shifting even multiple times every few seconds… for more than 11 miles, with a steering wheel continuously wildly spinning 180 degrees+ in one direction then immediately in the other. Not for the those who fear heights or are not used to an adrenaline rush, that is, if you’re actually trying to keep up with the 30 mile-an-hour speed limit. I’ve never been able to keep up to the 30 mph mark through all the curves, hairpin turns and switchbacks. Nevertheless, the tires did sing, or was this the dragon’s tail itself, the Subaru making the dragon scream, slaying the Dragon and all that?

On a sad note, and as a warning, a deadly serious warning, you have to be careful when dealing with dragons: don’t mock them, don’t push your luck. There is this:

Tail of the Dragon road map deaths

Even Saint Michael the Archangel did not mock Satan:

  • “Yet the archangel Michael, when he argued with the devil in a dispute over the body of Moses, did not venture to pronounce a reviling judgment 1 upon him but said, ‘May the Lord rebuke you!'” (Jude 1:9)

Let the beauty of the nature of the ride, the joy of the ride conquer the Dragon.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (On taking a Day Off, edition)

img_20191217_132641~23913810342559626359..jpg

In searching for flowers for the Immaculate Conception on the Day Off, I found these microscopic “flowers” (I know, they’re not real flowers, just some sort of lichen, but our Lady will accept them). I love doing this on a Day Off. A manly thing to do, don’t you think, getting flowers for one’s mom? Meanwhile, a phone call came in from Boston yesterday encouraging me to go ahead and take a day off, because – hahaha! – Even God took a day off.

  • “Thus the heavens and the earth and all their array were completed. Since on the seventh day God was finished with the work he had been doing, [1] He rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it [2] He rested from all the work he had done in creation.” (Genesis 2:1-3)

“But Father George, Father George, you don’t understand: You’re not God!” You’re a crappy sinner who is wicked and the wicked have no rest and you don’t deserve any rest. Get back to work! Just review your horrible list of sins, you sinner! Let me list all your sins for you…”

And then they go on in the boring droning tones of browbeating huffiness. Boring. And it is boring because, without fail, the biggest sin is always ignored, and the biggest sin is that I have personally – by all those sins and faults and ever so much more – I have personally crucified the very Son of the Living God, the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception. Me. I’ve done that. That would be must more interesting to hear, our attention then being turned to Jesus, who laid down His life for even the likes of idiot me. Awesome, really. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you.

“But Father George, Father George, you don’t understand, after any forgiveness, you’re supposed to do PENANCE! ♬ DO IT NOW! ♬

Well, yes, that’s all true. But, instead, I think I’ll take a Day Off:

  • “The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’ People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.” (Mark 6:30-32 nab)

I know, I know. I don’t deserve a Day Off not only because I’m a sinner, but because all I have done and taught – even late into the night – hardly in any way measures up to what the Apostles accomplished. Be that as it may, Jesus is very good and kind to us, patient and long-suffering, with no compromise in His teaching us how to be entirely dedicated, working with us, knowing exactly, with those wounds upon Him, just how inept and prone to failure we are on our own, but also knowing how the Holy Spirit will fire us up.

Meanwhile, even while God rested from His absolutely perfect work of creation on day seven, original sin was enacted by Adam already on day six. We never made it to the seventh day, except in Jesus.

Jesus says: “My Father is at work until now, so also am I at work.” (John 5:17) This refers to the enactment of the work of redemption and our salvation promised in the first Gospel, the Protoevangelium, in Genesis 3:15, after original sin. God is at rest regarding His perfect creation, but is at work for our redemptive-salvific creation.

But we, in our wretchedness, know not how to rest on our own. We take a break so as to cry out to the Lord. He has no rest, bearing those wounds upon His risen body also in heaven. And there is someone else who has no rest: Jesus’ good mom, our co-redemptrix.

She is in solidarity with her Son. It’s a matter of aptness in justice that we call her co-redemptrix, though all the redemption itself and any grace of salvation comes directly and only from Jesus. By way of her Immaculate Conception, with her purity of heart and agility of soul and clarity of vision, in seeing what we need for our redemption and salvation by witnessing all the sin of all mankind wrecked upon her Son being tortured to death right in front of her, she’s perfectly able to ask for what we need. She’s just a human being. Nothing more. But nothing less. How fitting that this be done. And her Son answers: “Father, forgive them!” So, Mary doesn’t rest until those destined for heaven are there forever. I love that love for us.

When Jesus laid down His life for us, the Innocent for the guilty, so that He might have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us, He stretched out His heel to crush the serpent on the head, bringing a mortal end to Satan’s power over us, thus also having His heel crushed such that His mortal frame would be brought to death (only to rise, of course). But in this redemption, in this source of our salvation, He made us one with Himself, and in doing so, laid down our lives with His own. If He stretches out His heel, we are brought to do that through Him, with Him, and in Him. Satan is utterly humiliated.

Mary is singled out in this battle. God, speaking to Satan, says: “I will put enmity between you and the Woman.” Her solidarity with her Son is so perfect that some few of the Church Fathers were beside themselves in praise of God’s action, so that even some few manuscripts have the feminine pronoun instead of the masculine, so that she is seen to be crushing the head of the serpent. This co-redemptive imagery, even if not truly supported in the manuscripts (see my thesis and conference), is not wrong in its incisive shorthand commentary. We also – but Mary preeminently – crush the serpent on the head inasmuch as we are united with the Seed of the Woman, as Genesis marvelously puts it.

Thus, in artwork, we see images of Mary stomping on the serpent:

mary serpent

But, as I say, I would love to see an advance in artwork. I would like to see Mary crushing the serpent on the head with her heel (not just a gentle caress with a couple of toes), and I would like to see how the serpent’s head is being crushed even while that serpent flipped around, and is also crushing the heel of Mary in all violence.

In Genesis, it is the Son of the Mother of the Redeemer who will stretch out His heel. But Satan, in his mockery and blasphemy, will possess Judas so as to have Judas raise his heel against Jesus, as Jesus Himself said:

  • “So that the scripture might be fulfilled, ‘The one who ate my food has raised his heel against me.’ From now on I am telling you before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe that I AM.” (John 13:18-19 nab)

Mary was in totally perfect solidarity with Jesus, more than any of us and more than all of us put together could ever be in solidarity with Him. “Co”-redemptrix. Yes. Yahweh-Elohim, later the Word Incarnate, singles her out in parallelism as He curses Satan:

[1] “I will put enmity between you and the woman…”

and only then….

[2] “and between your seed and Her Seed.”

Parallelism! Singled out. The “co” of co-redemptrix. Get it?

So, Jesus hasn’t a day off, nor the Father, nor the Holy Spirit. And neither does dearest Mary. She’s always in the thick of it for us.

But we’re so overwhelmed, so weak. How good of Jesus to say to us:

  • ‘Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’

I gotta wonder if Jesus and His Apostles had had a moment before being inundated by the crowds who followed them, and if during that brief moment Jesus had them pick flowers for His dearest mama. I think so. :-)

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Day Off Failure Drill in ammo-less USA: HOW DARE YOU FBI QIT 97 99 combo

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[For UPDATE, scroll down.] Some politicized tender snowflakes are all huffy about how they are scandalized by a priest who is a permitted and trained up concealed carrier of a Glock “assualt” pistol, you know, tender snowflakes scandalized something along the lines of…

 climate change un how dare you greta greta thunberg GIF

Thankfully, there’s no sound to that. To the scandalized, let me spend a couple of paragraphs telling a story about how my “day off” began… Hundreds of miles were racked up by Sassy the Subaru on the “day off” yesterday. I had to get someone anointed who’s in dire straits. Prayers for him, please. Yet another operation revealed just a few hours later… um… something terrible, horrible. I’ve never heard of something that bad for that. There may be more operations to come. Hail Mary…

That anointing was done on the fly at the soup kitchen, next to the dumpster in which I used to dive for a living. You gotta do what you gotta do. And… Ahhh, the memories. The following picture is someone else somewhere else, but this is exactly the position I found myself in. Tip: kicking your legs out lets the pivoting action help you drag up even heavy bags or containers and flip them out while you yourself drop to the ground. I made sure everyone was covered legally by making sure I was appointed to being in charge of the dumpster and dumpster area, keeping it all clean and swept and hosed down and in order. One person complained, but then backed off humiliated for being such a busy body when it was discovered I was also sometimes paying for the dumpster truck emptying of the dumpster. $50.00 bucks a pop. “I like to keep my affairs regular,” as Saint Thomas More said to Oliver Cromwell. ;-)

DUMPSTER DIVING

Meanwhile, on the day off, after the anointing, going back to my far-away parish by another route – still a zillion miles away – I was able to swing by the back ridges where the hermitage surveys all from on high, seen by none, even in the winter. The pics at the top of this post are of the altar of the hermitage back in the day. I did up some chapters of spiritual reading (a book on the lives of the saints, which makes for new friends across history and in heaven now). I confess that I haven’t done that in a loooong time. I think this progress in the necessary is the direct result of having more energy and being a bit clearer of mind because of the keto diet, which is still going very well. I’m hoping I’ll drop into the 230s by Christmas, having started some weeks ago in the 260s.


Now to guns and ammo stuff. After reading about the saints and doing up a few prayers, I thought it might be a good idea to do up some practice with the Glock. I haven’t done up any tactical pistol courses or even any drills for many weeks. I thought it would be good to do up what would be the most important drill with which to have some skill: the “Failure Drill.”

“Failure Drill.” That’s a rather depressing title. It has nothing to do with the permitted-carrier-victim failing to hit the body (torso) of the perp-deadly-aggressor twice (if necessary). It’s about those two hits failing to stop the aggression, say, because, as is recently the case in mass shootings, the aggressor perp guy is wearing lots of ballistic protection. The idea is then to take a shot which is more likely to take away any imminent, active threat of even dozens (more) having their lives ended: one to the head. So, I like to call this drill “The Stop the Threat Drill.” Friends in the military will laugh at that, and have, for saying stuff like that, but – Hey! – I’m a civilian, and a priest, and a Missionary of Mercy. For me it’s all about just stopping an imminent, deadly, active threat of a mass shooter. Nothing more, but nothing less. Why let someone continue to gun down even dozens of people? Stopping that threat is the way to go.

In the past, it was enjoyable to do tactical pistol courses as a way to learn how to shoot a pistol, something I’ve never even held outside of my dad’s .45 that he would carry as a bomber and then fighter attack pilot for the USMC in WWII. As a kid, that made me wide eyed. But I had never even shot a pistol once before getting my purchase permit now just over three years ago.

But those tactical pistol courses are, I’m afraid, in the past tense. That’s bad for everyone. When the chief law enforcement officer of your county (this also being a 2nd amendment sanctuary) provides a concealed carry permit to a citizen, that citizen should be well practiced in all sorts of drills and scenarios and situational awareness, the latter of which is all about awareness of how to avoid trouble in the first place, also by way of deescalation in a thousand different ways. The drills part is what’s now hurting, though I’m sure I could sail through the prerequisite drills for any N.C. concealed carry course.

When ammo was cheap and available at Walmart, I would get the Federal brass FMJ for the drills, as the relatively cheaper Winchester for my Glock 19 was catastrophic. Anyway, with so much ammo to practice with, I had the “Failure Drill” (2 to body then 1 to head) from locked holster on target out 25 feet in less than two seconds, though not consistently. The record was 1.01 seconds for all three shots. But that was when ammo was cheap and readily available.

But now, with no more cheap ammo, there’s a lot less practice. That lowers the safety for the permitted citizen who is already four times more liable to be in a deadly situation than others for countless reasons. We shouldn’t forget that the reason prompting him to get a permit is that he is likely living in or travels through or makes stops in more dangerous environs than some others. In other words, the increase in danger is not about any service that permitted citizen is doing for the benefit of society, but about the untoward aggression of the druggy violent gang culture in which we live.

Without being well practiced, the permitted-citizen-carrier might be slower to draw up on an individuated, isolated, able, imminent and active mortal threat already shooting at him or dozens of others (bullets whizzing by my head has happened many times to me in my life, an unforgettable sound), and even if drawing up is done in time, the permitted-citizen might be less accurate because of the lack of practice, and therefore less able to stop the mortal threat with efficiency. That’s bad for the citizen and bad for all others involved, including the aggressor perp, who is much more likely to survive a hit or two to the body rather than yet another one to the head if that becomes necessary (say, if he’s possibly wearing a ballistic vest or whatever, and he’s continuing to kill people). In other words, if the first shot or two are accurate enough to stop the threat, the shot to the head may not be necessary, and the perp might well survive. Isn’t that a good thing. I think it is. I mean, I would be the kind who, after stopping the threat, would grant him absolution if he were able to take it in.

As it is, my shot timer has had to continue counting the seconds longer than it ever has for the three shots of this drill, even unto many multiples of my record. Not good for anyone. Skipping all the courses, what I do now with limited bullets is just to make sure I’m consistently on target, getting the times for the three bullets of this drill down below 2 seconds before I stop the session. But that’s minimalism. That’s not good enough.

Wrapping one’s mind around the time pressure is always a bit weird. I’m not disciplined enough to get two together in the chest and then one in the head (the target being the FBI detail of the combo of the QIT 97-99 that I print out on a sheet of 8.5″ x 14″ legal paper and put 25 feet out). See the picture at the end of this post which you can dump in a word processor and print out. Cheapest best targets ever.

Because of the shot-timer, I end up “walking” the bullets up the spinal column, with the one to the head being relatively the most accurate, mostly in the 3″x3″ box at the top of the page. But then I see that that “walking” the bullets up might actually be the best methodology to stop the threat without having to go for the head shot.

Perhaps I can work up the pre-2001 Federal Air Marshal pre-flight qualifier tactical pistol course into drills which involve the “Failure Drill” described above, thus, including tactical and combat mag changes, spinning from 180 degrees to hit multiple targets, dropping to a knee, etc. That would really go through tons of ammo if each target and drill involved 2+1 bullets. For instance, 2+1 from holster while dropping to a knee while doing a combat mag-change and immediately putting out another 2+1. That’s six bullets instead of two.

I’ll have to investigate teaming up with others and getting ammo special shipped. But it’ll be a far cry from the low prices of Walmart. Ammo is as heavy as… well… lead. The trouble with that, however, is that the guys who would be interested in this aren’t really interested. They’re all military, and without much practice at all, if ever, they’re spectacular shots, totally upset if they get a result of 99 points on a 100 point course.


Back to tender snowflake scandal: Don’t be scandalized. This is recreation now rarely and then only very briefly on a day off that is otherwise taken up with priestly stuff. You wouldn’t begrudge a priest some time off, would you?

  • “The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’ People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.” (Mark 6:30-32 nab)

Of course, even in the backsides of the beyonds, the phone rings. Yesterday it was Father Gordon. We had a great conversation. And it was also another priest. We also had a great conversation. Or is all that forbidden too? It is to laugh. But it’s also sad that people spend their time being trolls, repeating again and again:

“How dare you?! How dare you?!”

FBI QIT 99 97 legal

FBI QIT 99-97 combo detail. If you copy and paste into a word processor document set for legal size paper and with minimum margins, and then stretch the picture out to fill the page, you should have the exact measurements on the page. Paste to any cardboard and attach that so a “pigtail” wire (used for political lawn signs) available at Lowes, and you’ll be good to go.

UPDATE: So, I was informed just now of an ammo shop some states away though actually closer than I normally go on my day off. Their reloaded ammo, if bought in quantity, is only a few more bucks than Walmart used to sell new ammo. We’ll have to see if the reloaded ammo works. They have no new 9mm ammo.

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Holy Souls Hermitage (update)

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Someone I know says that he has never seen a picture of Holy Souls Hermitage rising up above the forest floor at the top of a ridge in these Blue Mountains, these Smoky Mountains. In the above slideshow we are, of course, looking due East.

Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is no longer there. No tabernacle, no altar, no angels, all gone. In October 2019, I will have been in the parish here for six years. There was urgent movement being made on selling the property underneath the hermitage for quite a while. It’s a little less urgent right now. Off the market, in fact.

I still go out to the hermitage every week for a “day off”, even if only for minutes, so that I can tell my Vicar Forane that, yes, I’m taking care of myself, taking a “Day Off.” He likes when the priests in his vicariate in the diocese get a bit of a change of pace, a change of scenery, some recreation. I often end up doing lots of “priest stuff” as I mysteriously call it, driving the curious batty as they try to figure out what “priest stuff” is. But the hermitage is a welcome refuge.

What happens at the hermitage for those minutes or hours? Target practice with timers are variously placed and sized targets, sometimes moving targets on ropes or whatever, takes up some of the time. The Vicar and I just spoke, in fact, about what kind of ammo I got yesterday. Just boring ammo: Federal brass 9mm FMJ 115 grain target practice ammo.

Sometimes it’s reading some complex email communications. Sometimes some more complex phone calls are made. Sometimes just a bit of quiet with the Lord. Always the Angelus many times for the bishop and priests of the diocese.

Always I try to look around for flowers for the Immaculate Conception. The joyful appreciation of Jesus’ good creation with the end of having the joy of giving Jesus’ good mom a flower is, how to say it, a simple joy, always, every time.

If I have enough time, today I plan to read Pope Francis’ letter to priests. The best laid plans of mice and men and donkeys like me are often laughed at by the Lord. But, we will see what happens. There may be other “priest stuff” to do today. But I would really like to get to this letter. It may be that a return letter, a response, equally public, may be in order. Have you read that letter? Any ideas on that?

/////////// Later… I made it to the hermitage. Some prayers were said. Some target practice was accomplished. First thing, 25 feet out, 7″ pie plate, six rounds in 1.74 seconds, and accurate. Later, two to the body, one to the head in 1.27 seconds. Both flukes, though. I’m not that good. Far from it.

Here’s what the window looks like now:

2:30 pm… I read up to paragraph 8 of the Pope’s letter to priests and had to stop. This may take more exegesis than I can do on my phone. Anyone with comments on paragraph 8?

A bit more target practice. Then it’s off to visit a few people, check the UPS store, and then do some priest stuff….

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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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“Day Off” health & blogging

There was a huge list of things to get accomplished on the “Day Off”, some done, some furthered, some with logistical difficulties. Lots of follow-ups on certain situations. And someone seems also to have lost a phone… All the same things or not as any “Day On”, except this time I took a different way home. One of my favorite scenes that I haven’t seen for a while is in the 8 second video I took above. This was a welcome change of pace. I love being in the heart of Appalachia.

These past 2 1/2 weeks I’ve been way under the weather, with some pretty miserable weather. I even saw the doctor about it – avoiding the doctor for some 14 months – and we discussed some strategies for my peculiar hereditary circumstances. But otherwise, sugar is normal, blood pressure is normal, etc. But still, it was too difficult to keep up with the blog, so I just had to let it go for a while. There are questions and comments to catch up on. That’s life.

While feeling under the weather my ICANN top level domain registration expired, and immediately there was a hack from Saint Petersburg, you know, the one in Russia. That was right after my “Shadow” went to an old locked down post on hacking. Just a coincidence?

I must absolutely therefore be put under investigation for whatever Russian conspiracy that the Dems want to bring, right? Sorry, a little humor there, but maybe not so far off. Pretty crazy in D.C. right now. Just some more humor there. Sorry.

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“Day Off” at the hermitage

img_20190521_155557~22328931072830064444..jpg

img_20190521_172306~2-17681136628144419326..jpgWhat that means is three shots (2 body, one head, pictured below according to the SEALs measurements 21 feet out) in 0.26 seconds starting at 1.14 seconds starting out of a locked holster. So, 0.03 hundredths of a second faster than last week. Another group came in 1.25 seconds (which group may have had the first shot out in less than a second from a locked holster), but I don’t want to claim that group as validated as I hadn’t marked previous shots on the paper and couldn’t be sure if all three were precisely accurate. Mind you, that’s the flukey best. I’m NOT that good. Not at all.

Meanwhile, a good chat was had with the neighbors to the hermitage about the priesthood. They suffer for priests. They pray for priests. They are in solidarity with priests. Such a good crowd. Meanwhile, we spoke of a particular priest. They are an inspiration. And besides, they made a delicious meal, complete with monster cookies and ice cream. I am unworthy.

Meanwhile, having had a good chat with a priest writing this next week’s guest post for These Stone Walls, I read his revision up in the hermitage itself, as was only fitting, and responded again. Awesome. He touched the Heart of Jesus for us all.

Meanwhile, I spoke with another priest, the one whose case I brought to Pope Francis. He’s doing extraordinarily well. It’s the stuff of the lives of the saints. What a great joy. What a great joy.

Meanwhile, conversation was had about yet another priest who has a case parallel to the one whose case I brought to Pope Francis. He’s an amazing, faithful, devout priest – an excellent faithful Thomist – now nailed to the cross, for years. Plotting about how to go about things to be of assistance was wrought.

Meanwhile, logistics errands for the neighbors to mechanics and banks were accomplished, at the end of which…

Meanwhile, I finally spoke with… […] It is such a blessing to be able to tap into first hand wisdom of the best of the best of the best. A good “Day Off.”

Oh, and, of course, tons of pictures of flowers for the Immaculate Conception were taken. That’s the undisputed best part of a “Day Off”.

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Day Off and the Chrism Mass: Show of Force Prevention

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It’s Holy Week. Busiest days ever for a priest. Apologies to those sending questions etc.

Tuesday saw well over 400 miles clocked on Sassy the Subaru Forester, going from Andrews to the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral in Charlotte. The priests renewed their promises at Mass, the Sacred Chrism and the Oils of Catechumens and of the Infirm were blessed. There was a meal for the priests afterward. Artwork and best wishes by the children of the Cathedral were at all the places for the priests. This one was at my place:

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Of course, vocations are from Jesus!

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Everything about the day was enjoyable, well, except for something rather unexpected, rather out of the ordinary show of force with armed security, which is always done with the motivation of prevention. The security guy, in full uniform and a heavily decked out duty belt followed the bishop and his two deacons for the procession in and then out. So, I guess, this was more of a bodyguard thing.

What I say here is NOT a criticism, not in the least. I don’t know the circumstances. I’m guessing that if there was a credible and imminent threat, either the Mass would have been cancelled or there would have been support from “normal” law enforcement, with a couple of squad cars out front, etc. Perhaps there were some other undercover guys as at, for instance, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York.

The Bishop’s homily was rather abbreviated. And then, also out of character, he only appeared for perhaps one minute at the meal afterward to do the blessing. Again, I don’t know the circumstances.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

The policy of the diocese, surely to appease insurance companies, is that there can be no officially mandated armed presence for church services on any campus of the diocese. Let’s stare at that:

“No officially mandated armed presence…”

In other words, volunteers can volunteer, and it’s up to the priest to assess a volunteer’s viability on any number of levels and in all sorts of ways, but nothing that the priest says can make anything with weapons that which is expected of anyone for any reason ever. Fine. In the end, the policy is a non-policy. It just facilitates attorneys protecting whoever.

I’m guessing that this security guy at the Chrism Mass was told where he was to be and even that he was to be uniformed, but that any weapons were totally his option.

I had a good chat with him ranging from his provenance (that was interesting), a particular “group” to which he belongs (that was interesting).

During the hundreds of miles long trip there was plenty of time to mull things, that is, about this and a number of other issues, always enjoyable speeding by the mountain scenery.

But I wanted more time to mull things over. The Day Off suggested the option of gun-slinging. A detour was made to the neighbors to the hermitage. As usual, some FBI and FAM tactical pistol courses were accomplished.

I should volunteer to be a kind of security secretary to the Bishop, you know, with some optional security options optionally being put into play, optionally, of course, but surely in a more low-key manner. But for now, just to say, in support:

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

After the tactical pistol courses – which afford time for prayer for the bishops and priests during target set-up and replacement – it was then time for discussion with the neighbors to the hermitage. The topic above went on for hours. It is quite a bit to take in.

We discussed undercover as opposed to open show of force. Even at Saint Peter’s in Rome, the top operator guys are dressed in tuxedos so as to be more low key.

We ended by praying for the security of the Bishop, and that the Lord continues to give him the grace and strength he needs each day (to quote the card pictured above). Our Father… Hail Mary… Glory be…

To repeat: we don’t know the circumstances of the preventative show of force, and this is no criticism. Far from it. The whole “ounce” “pound” thing is very wise. Perhaps this is a paradigm for the diocese in hopes of saving lives amidst so many attacks on churches.

Yes, there is a picture of a glorious cross pictured at the top of this post in that card made by a child. “Out of the mouths of babes” and all that… And, yes, Our Lord did say, “As the Master, so the disciple.” Yes.

But defense of the innocent is a good thing. I’m sure there will be debate…

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Day Off: Seamless Garment edition)

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Driving into the yard of the neighbors to the hermitage was easy on such a dark and cloudy, dangerously stormy day, illuminated as all things were by the pear tree blossoms. An Immaculate Conception statue looks upon the scene from next to a nearby rosebush. Lightning also brought some light, accompanied with great audio: thunder! This (at the time) real-time video was provided by the neighbor as to what was happening just down the mountain:

Hail! Some were to be seen walking about confused, snow-shovels in hand. Floods were all around, with water just about up to the floorboards of Sassy the Subaru Forester. Cars were in the ditch, emergency vehicles (fire engines, law enforcement, ambulances, tow-trucks) everywhere to be seen.

Meanwhile, continuing up the ridge, prayers were said for the Bishop and priests of the diocese. And behold, one other lone flower for the Immaculate Conception was to be seen. I say it’s for her because it’s precisely here where it is somehow necessary to pray the Angelus and other Marian prayers. This necessity has been going on for seven years.

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But then it was time for other day off activities. Up went a target at seven yards away including the “A” body-box (8″ tall by 6″ wide) and a head-box (2″ tall by 4″ wide). This was for the supposed stage 4 of a surely outdated SEALs tactical pistol course, namely:

  • Two to the “body”, one to the “head” equal to or less than two seconds from a holster. My holster is “locked”, so that slows me down. Best was slow: 2.19 secs. My best ever was, I think, down in the 1.70s and 1.60s range.

It’s a perishable skill. Practice is needed. The extremely restrictive European Union rules limit ammo to 1000 rounds a year per person. Maybe I need more than that because I’m such a terribly bad shot. But more realistically, making sure that people don’t practice much makes people within the legal parameters dangerous.

After that drill, the pre-2001 Fed. Air Marshal course went up. 100% accurate and under-time for five stages, but DQ for being slightly but predictably overtime on a couple of other stages. Accuracy trumps quick every time however. It’s fun to shave off hundredths of seconds. But those other two stages need separate work.

After that, it was time to empty out a partially emptied mag at the series of swinging plastic coffee buckets. Starting to get used to wildly moving small targets.


 

Then it was dinner time at the neighbors with spiritual discussions lasting hours. Always so enjoyable. This time, the major topic was the cloak of our Lord for which the soldiers cast lots, being that it was of super-high-quality, being woven from top to bottom throughout. This was the garment that Jesus’ good mom would have made for Him, not the resplendent, gorgeous apparel that Herod had mockingly put on Him to send Him back to Pilate.


Two Notes on the Seamless Garment: 

  • There is a position in heretical moral theology blasphemously called the Seamless Garment, which has it stopping the threat of a murderous unjust aggressor in the defense of the innocent (which is actually a contribution to the virtue of justice) is equivalent to murdering the innocent (which is always an evil and admits of no excuse): a so-called “seamless garment.” No. They are not the same.
  • Mary, the true Woman of Genesis 3:15, is the “Mother of All the Living,” the title (in bad translation) that Adam tried to give his wife. Fail. Mary, the Mother of the Redeemer is, in good translation, the “Mother of the Entire Living-One,” what Saint Paul calls the Body of Christ, with Jesus as the Head of that Body and we as the members of that Body. How appropriate that the garment for this one Body of Christ be woven as a seamless garment. Good call, Mary. You are Jesus’ good mom, and ours.

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Day Off: guns & spiritual conversations – Jesus bragging on His mother in hell

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Not having bought any ammo since, I think, sometime in late 2018, the “long-way” was taken to the hermitage, passing by a number of Walmarts with variously stocked ammo desks, some desk managers being more on top of things than others. Then, after hitting the UPS Store, it was up and up and up “the mountain.” BTW, can you spot the huge cross made out of I-beams partially hidden by the trees towering above the driveway in the picture above? The neighbor to the hermitage is a master welder.

After a couple of hours of quiet time – a day off after all – energy returned, prayers were said, protection of angels was requested, targets went up, mags were loaded, timers were set, “ears” were adjusted, adrenaline was forced, trigger fingers, left and right, were steadied, concentration was narrowed…

The first course consisted of some six stages of drills, supposedly of a SEAL team, surely dumbed down and from “back-in-the-day.” Here’s a picture of the first stage, just three yards out, from cover/holstered, with an 8 1/2 x 11 target of the usual “body” (inside the two vertical lines: 5:3/4″ x 10:1/2″) and “head” (consisting of a 2″ x 4″ box at the top, an eye-forehead shot instantly “stopping the threat”). The first stage is just one shot from holster to the “head” ≤ 1.5 seconds. Dunno why, but this time I was much more accurate and quick for all stages of all courses, coming in mostly (way) under time and with smaller more centered patterns, mostly inside the “inside bottle” representing the spinal cord. Prayers for priests and the bishop while moving, marking, changing out targets.

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The target then moves further away for different stages until 75 feet away up the ridge.

DIGRESSION: Someone had given me some massively oversized targets (23″ x 35″), I guess to poke fun at my aim, the comment surely being that I’m not able to hit the side of a barn… from inside the barn! I took those dozen or so roll of wallpaper-esque targets just to see if there was anything superimposed. Nope. Having ascertained that, those targets will now go back to the giver. As of a couple years, the most recent policy really is no gifts from intel, ever, zip, zero, zilch… can’t happen. I’m guessing the targets are for zeroing in rifle scopes, say, from a mile out. But I’m not a sniper. I don’t own or use rifles. Not my thing. With a Glock, as the saying goes, aim small, shoot small.

After that, it was time for an FBI course with reduced QIT 97-99 inside bottle targets (that partial detail fitting on legal paper), and then the pre-2001 Federal Air Marshal courses (that target consisting of foam dessert plates propped up by pigtail wires), and then some swinging breakfast blend plastic coffee buckets on ropes and filled with dirt (out to about 15 yards), totaling for day I’m guessing about 175 bullets. Not much, but enough. It was a good day for review and keeping edgy.

With the Glock thoroughly cleaned and oiled and the target-ammo changed out for appropriate carry-ammo, I was eager to go to the neighbors of the hermitage. That’s when the real happiness of the day began.

The spiritual conversations after plinking are becoming a thing, as it were, something that’s expected and to which we all look forward. We spoke of judgment, heaven, hell, purgatory, witnessing to the point of martyrdom, suffering, angels, Jesus, our dearest Heavenly Father, the state of the Church, the state of our souls, the patience of our Lord with us sinners, and being happy for Jesus that after all He has gone through for us, He is now in heaven with our Heavenly Father.

But most of all – at length – we spoke about our Blessed Mother, Jesus’ good mom, about what she went though in this world, what with her purity of heart and agility of soul and clear vision confronting this fallen world, how it is that she was in solidarity with her Divine Son Jesus as He was tortured to death right in front of her. If recorded, these conversations would be good material for an ongoing series of blog posts.

A repeat-topic about our Lady came up, you know, which of the 14 Stations of the Cross would be most – how to say? –  involving to Jesus. The neighbor said it would surely be the meeting with His mother. I agreed, but in another way, saying that it may well be when Jesus is taken down from the cross and put in the arms of His blessed mother.

Aquinas says that the divinity of Jesus never left His body even when that body died and He, with His soul, descended to hell to preach to the fallen spirits. It struck me then, devastated as He would be in His soul that His mother was so devastated holding His dead body, that He would be bragging on His mother to the fallen spirits: “Look at her! She’s the mother-warrior who crushes you, Satan, under her heel. She’s remained faithful in the most adverse circumstances, all of hell attacking. You have failed! She has won souls for heaven!” These are the words, so full of love, which will torture those fallen spirits, so full of hate, for eternity.

Much better to have our souls in order, frequenting the Sacraments, to go to heaven and rejoice to be happy that, after all they went through in this world for us, both Jesus and our Blessed Mother are there.

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Day off: Ultra super mega Snow Moon

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A few days back there was a slight break in the clouds and my neighbor pointed out the Snow Moon. “It’s been going crazy all day,” he said.

Good day for a snow moon. The very second I arrived at the hermitage, it started to snow, well, ice crystals began to cascade heavily from the skies. And then immediately everything was ultra-super-slippery.

Nevertheless, I did do up a few minutes of target practice, one magazine at the three swinging buckets after two other magazines were put out cold barrel for the pre-2001 Federal Air Marshal tactical pistol course. Two of the thirty necessary went slightly wide, leaving me with a score of 93%. As is usually the case, I was DQed for a slight overtime on two stages. I tried out the Hogue grip again (a Christmas gift from a LEO in the parish). That particular grip works great in icy cold weather. I would have done the course again (cheating, as that’s “hot barrel”), just to try to get 100%, but the pile-up of ice crystals was getting concerning for any further delayed travel up on the back ridges.

After some errands further down the mountain, it was up to Asheville. All five bolts on the back wheel were replaced. Good thing. I never would have been able to get them off to replace a flat in the middle of the night in a cell phone dead zone. The head mechanic brought me to lunch, but I was quicker than him at the register. I think this was the third time in my entire life that I’ve had a Reuben.

We had a great conversation about Jesus.

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