Tag Archives: Death

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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Fr Dana Christensen’s cri du cœur: his own funeral and Traditionis custodes

Father Dana is dying of ALS. He’s a friend of friends for me, and I met him a number of times here in North Carolina. What a great priest. Read his cry from the heart by clicking on “Continue reading” above. Hail Mary…

When some of my own unrepeatable circumstances weigh on me, I think of other priests such as Father Dana. His very life of profound faith in the midst of impossible circumstances – his very life now on what will be his death bed being an act of intercession for the entire Church – is a great encouragement to me.

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Post-mortem visit from Donna Kaup?! Donkeys, priests and Jesus’ humor

Dearest Donna was called by our Lord to the next life the other day. This was a sudden death. Her funeral is this coming Wednesday at 11:00 AM (April 6, 2021) at Saint Dorothy’s Catholic Church in Lincolnton, NC. Donna was a best friend, as is her husband John, and their son, John Brian.

I should like to write more at length about these great witnesses to our Lord and our Blessed Mother in future.

But for now, a humorous story. It is NOT a canonization of Donna. And I’m not saying I’m some sort of visionary. No. I think that no matter what we are to pray that those who die be released from purgatory forthwith and be on their way to heaven, and if they are already there, our prayers will go – in their honor – for other souls to be on their way. It’s all good.

To preface this story you have to know that for a million reasons, one more far reaching than the other, I think that donkeys are the coolest of all God’s creatures, ever. They can sing, they only do what they understand, they are always with the Holy Family, they are the hard-working symbol of Israel from time immemorial. I could go on for volumes, and I have written at great length quite innumerable times about the glories of donkeys. I believe that the Lord’s Little Flock must have shepherds, priests, who are guard-donkeys, for donkeys protect the flock from the wolves, a swift kick, and then suffocation by crushing of the esophagus and then a quick side-to-side, ripping their throats right out.

Know that St Corbinian’s bear on Pope Benedict’s Coat of Arms is actually a donkey, and that Pope Benedict fancied himself as that very donkey. So very many stories in my own life, from the seminary to the Pontifical Bibilical Institute in Jerusalem, to Bethlehem, to…

So! Donna heard my praise of donkeys for years. My hermitage where I wrote on the Immaculate Conception of our Lady was on a back ridge on their back-woods property John and Donna had in the heart of Appalachia. Donna was not so impressed with donkeys. Donkeys stink. Donkeys are “stinkers”, a nickname Donna gave to all and sundry good troublemakers, you know, those who are somewhat too clever in getting done what needs to be done. For Donna, I was often the stinker. “YOU, STINKER!” she would exclaim with joy, laughing at how subtly outrageously guard-donkey-esque I had just been for the good of the Church anywhere right around the world and right into the Holy See, from my little mountain hermitage or now in my tiniest of all parishes. It was and is to laugh, me being perhaps too happy with myself in getting done what needs to be done while quite miraculously escaping the wrath that otherwise might be expected from those more politically correct than ourselves. Good times.

In all these years of knowing John and Donna, they got to know very quickly that when anyone needed the Last Rites, I would rush to whatever junk vehicle I had at the time – even Jenny the Jeep – and chase off at breakneck speed to the the home or hospital or rehab bed of the one in dire straits. The Donkey-Priest must go quickly!

They knew my continuous stories of what I would say after providing Last Rites with all the attendant Sacraments and Indulgenced blessings and prayers, that when they finally go before Jesus, they are to tell Him that there is a Donkey-Priest upon this earth who needs His special help. This would always bring laughter or faked-politeness, which is also humor:

  • Some would say that telling Jesus about some Donkey-Priest would be useless, they would have to be more specific, for, they said, Jesus would ask who it is they are talking about, as all priests are Donkey-Priests! Hahaha. It’s good to have good humor when one is on one’s way!
  • Some would promise that they would, of course, do just this, happy to do it. Great!
  • Some would absolutely refuse. There is absolutely no way, ever, that they are going to tell any such thing to Jesus, that they love their priests, and pray for their priests all the time – so many Rosaries for priests!!! – and so they are not going to insult Jesus’ priests right in front of Jesus, to His Face, talking to Jesus about Donkey-Priests! No! Donna was one such refusenik. I countered by saying that I have done this so very times with souls on their way that it’s now “A Thing”, so that if she doesn’t do it, Jesus will Himself bring up the subject, asking if there isn’t a Donkey-Priest who is in special need of His help, and she will have to admit that there is a specific Donkey-Priest in need of Jesus’ help.

But in all of this, my emphasis on the great benefits of the Last Rites went deep into her soul. The day before she suddenly died, she insisted on going to Holy Mass at the Cathedral. From where they are, this involves a nightmare of traffic. John wanted to go to Holy Mass at Saint Dorothy’s. But there was no changing Donna’s mind. Off they went. Afterward, she got the Anointing of the Sick from the Rector of the Cathedral. Within hours, through in relatively good health, she was dead. She did have an untoward diagnosis (which apparently had little to do with her death). It was not long after she died that the “EVENT” happened.

Again, I’m not canonizing Donna here. Pray for the repose of her soul. I’m not saying I’m a visionary. No. It just is what it is. My experience. Take or leave it. Whatever. I find it all to be good humor. Haha.

Not very long at all after Donna dropped dead, it seemed that for one split-nanosecond she appeared to me in such good humored manner that I thought my appeals about requesting help for this Donkey-Priest had come true, not because she had brought this up to Jesus, but because Jesus had to bring it up to her, to the laughter of all who met her to bring her in before Jesus. Jesus has good humor. Just read the Scriptures. You’ll find God’s good humor throughout, everywhere you look. Donna had only two words to say to this Donkey-Priest in that split-nanosecond “visitation” if you will, knowing that I would know what she meant with her good demeanor in such good humor. Donna exclaimed, as only she can:

” ♬ YOU STINKER ! ♬ “

It is to laugh. And I did. And I do. Jesus is good and kind, even to the likes of His own Donkey-Priests. Thanks, Donna.

May Donna’s soul and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace. Hail Mary… Hail Mary… Hail Mary…

And thank you, Jesus, for giving special help to Donkey-Priests. :-)

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My good friend. Dead. “Her heart just gave out.” Donna Kaup, may you rest in peace.

Just got a phone call from her son, a best friend. Donna was younger than me. In great health. Just like that. When the Lord calls, there’s nothing we can do but go. This was very sudden, but she did have a provided-for death.

More later on this great woman of the Church. I’m literally running out the door for first Confessions and more Confessions and Mass.

Three Hail Marys, please…

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Joy while sitting at the tomb, edition)

After the reading of the Passion of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ from the Gospel of John at the Good Friday liturgy, aka The Mass of the Presanctified, the rubrical guidance indicates that if there are a few words to be said by the priest, those words are to be brief. I obeyed. Here’s a brief summary:

  • Firstly, I confessed my experience of Good Friday as a kid and until recently. Good Friday was always a super-sorrowful day, with the darkness and heavy weight of the sin of all mankind and mine bearing down… on me. And because it was all about me – and this since I was a kid (I remember everything) – I always tried to distract myself with the rules of fasting and abstinence. That will make it all better, thought I, ever so stupidly. How very lost on the peripheries I have been. Dear Lord, I am so sorry for not being with you in all solidarity.
  • Secondly, I preached up the catastrophic trauma that Jesus’ good mom was going through in witnessing all the sin of all mankind vomited on her Son tortured to death, even while He died for us ungrateful cynical self-centered fallen men, Immaculate Mary being in perfect solidarity with her Son. After Jesus fulfilled all righteousness on behalf of mercy, standing in our place, Innocent for the guilty to have the right in His own justice to forgive us, after He died, she remained traumatized. The Body of her Son was lowered from the cross into her arms…
  • Thirdly, mention was made of Mary the mother of Jesus sitting outside the tomb accompanied by Mary of Magdala. Such a dichotomy. Mary of Magdala was already entirely saintly, and she was utterly in grief, and her accompaniment of Jesus’ good mom was entirely appreciated. But then, I said, Jesus’ mom and the Magdalene went their own ways to await for the Sabbath to pass. Good thing, said I, as it would be too difficult for Jesus’ mom to contain her… joy…
  • Think of it this way (1): Jesus’ mom was in perfect solidarity with her Son. This did not change when Jesus died. Mary rejoiced in her Son’s victory over all of hell broken out on Calvary: her son stayed on the Cross, did not come down. Jesus, her Son, conquered. Sure, it was difficult to see Him in battle. But now He is eternally victorious. This is cause for rejoicing.
  • Think of it this way (2): As we say in the creed, when Jesus died, he descended into hell. We read:
    • ἐν ᾧ καὶ τοῖς ἐν φυλακῇ πνεύμασιν πορευθεὶς ἐκήρυξεν, (1 Peter 3:19) – In [His spirit] He went about proclaiming to the [obviously fallen] spirits in prison.
    • Καὶ ὅταν τελεσθῇ τὰ χίλια ἔτη, λυθήσεται ὁ Σατανᾶς ἐκ τῆς φυλακῆς αὐτοῦ (Apocalypse 20:7) – And when the thousand years are completed, Satan [obviously a fallen spirit] will be released from his prison.

There were fallen angelic spirits and fallen human spirits in the time of Noah (to which Peter refers). The flood was a punishment for such disobedience to the will of God. The disbelievers during the building of the ark are especially the fallen angelic spirits. When Jesus goes to proclaim to them… what is He proclaiming? This proclamation is not necessarily any evangelizing for conversion, but rather proclaiming victory over all of hell that had been broken out on Calvary, over our sin, over death, by His death, by His innocence, by His carrying heaven within Himself.

In hell, in that prison, Jesus is delivering His victory speech, which will in eternity for the fallen spirits the source of eternal spiritual and intellectual frustration, having Satan proceed in writhing in all writhingness, the curse in Genesis, the punishment for those to be in that hell for eternity, even if loosed for a moment before the second coming of Jesus.

Immaculate Mary, having witnessed all hell broken out on Calvary, having seen her Son be victorious by NOT coming down from the Cross, she knew exactly, immediately, what He was doing in those three dark days. And she rejoiced: “That’s my good Son, Jesus, who’s doing that!” Meanwhile, she’s still catastrophically traumatized, yet joyful in her Son’s victory, joyful that the fallen angelic spirits are getting a good tongue lashing that will be their hell for eternity.

How could she tell Mary of Magdala about this. Jesus would let her know about His victory first thing Easter morning. If it is Mary of Magdala that Jesus meets first, it is not because He is ignoring His mother. She was always in perfect solidarity with Him, knowing what He was doing, her Immaculate Heart ever close to His Sacred Heart.

And with that, “my” Good Friday, as it were, is no longer about me — It’s so dark for me… so sad for me… so heavy for me… how do I distract myself? — No, no. Now it’s about rejoicing to be with Mary in solidarity with her Son, rejoicing in His great victory.

Easter is glorious, yes! But the greatest glory — glory unto glory — of God’s Love in Truth is witnessed in all the darkness and sadness of Calvary, but only in solidarity with Mary, with Jesus, rejoicing in the victory over all of hell!

Now when I look at Mary holding Jesus under the cross, having received the forgiveness of her Son at her intercession, it is no longer a question as to whether I am with her, with Him by the grace of redemption and please God salvation, what I see is an invitation to be in solidarity with her, with Jesus, as He goes to make His victory speech in hell, but wanting the fallen human spirits in this world to join with Mary, to join with Jesus in the victory, jumping for joy as Satan is put in his place. Yes!

So, flowers for you, Immaculate Mother, even while you are catastrophically traumatized.

For those fallen human spirits yet in this world, for their conversion: Hail Mary…

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (“It’s the end,” edition)

This picture was taken the other week on the epic “Day Off” when I assisted the move of my neighbors of the hermitage to another local far, far away. That rose is at their new-old-house, so to speak, which needs quite a bit of work. They do have a shed outside, and I was able to bring them some of the wood of Holy Souls Mountain.

They can testify that the very first thing I did was to take that picture of that rose right when I stepped out of the new-twenty-year-old Taco. Honoring our Lady always comes first.

Here’s some pictures of them leaving the old property, making this, after years of threats of the property being sold, a reality… the property being under contract:

And then they were gone:

And that means the hermitage is also gone. Sigh… I’m sooooo nostalgic.

Before my mom and dad died in the early 1990s, they attended the speeches at the closing ceremonies of Myrtle Beach Air Force Base. Mom and dad used to love to sit amidst the trees along the runway or out on the beach and watch the practice runs of the new guys in the new fighter jets. I did that with them many times. Dad had been a Top Gun instructor up in Andrews AFB just outside of D.C. before there was a Top Gun program. Anyway, at those closing speeches a highly decorated Airman said with some great emotion:

“It’s the end.”

Later, I was to find tiny scraps of paper citing that speech and that particular phrase. I knew that this went so deeply into her heart and soul as she took them to refer to their lives here upon this earth: “It’s the end.” Instead, as they were to find out in a way we cannot begin to imagine in this fallen world, the closure of our own lives in this world is just the beginning of life, for life is changed, not ended. I think she made those little notes at a yearly retreat they had gotten into the habit of attending somewhere not too far from there.

Memories are good, in season, out of season:

“It’s the end…” The Immaculate Conception has the joy of enlightening them about life being changed, not ended, even when it seems like the end refers only to an end:

So, let’s start this all again with that flower for the Immaculate Conception, Queen of Heaven and Earth, of angels and men, the Queen-Mother, Jesus’ good Mom.

And, yes, those are tiny little roses on that rose-vine right before Mary’s eyes. :-)

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Georgia National Cemetery: Full Honors

One of our parishioners who died toward the beginning of Covid-19 lockdowns (not from Covid) could only have the full burial rites (Air Force leading up to the Church rites) carried out just now, in November. We’re talking Georgia and the military, not my parish.

Being early at the cemetery, there was time to slowly go round about the cemetery. Oh my. The following scene is repeated again and again and again. Everywhere. Those who hate the flag, who hate these USA, should come here, to any national military cemetery, especially when all the flags are out at all the tombstones. But they aren’t worthy to do that.

As always, I got totally choked up finding it very difficult to compose myself during the folding of the flag. It was as if the flag represented everyone in America, everything good for which we recite the pledge as one nation under God, and in particular the veteran who had served all at great risk to himself. We’re talking tenderhearted affection by the military. Especially difficult was when the Airman went down on his knee before the widow, offering her the flag while starting off with: “On behalf of the President of the United States…” The widow had tears streaming down her face…

Afterward, we all trundled off to some old parishioners who had moved nearer their kids quite near the cemetery, all good friends. He was at the top of acquisitions for the Air Force. Quite the reunion of old friends and parishioners. A sorrowful day, but a good day. Thanks be to God.

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Assassination of my parishioner’s beloved brother

  • “How can we tell mom?” he asked, moments after the fact. “The sicarios [the hitmen for one side or the other of the cartels] have murdered her son, my brother.”
  • “Tomorrow is my ‘day off’,” I said. “The Mass intention list is clear. I will offer Mass for him early Tuesday morning.”
  • “Thank you, Father.”

“Father.” Yes. For me this is personal. The brother of a son of this parish family was murdered. How could I not take this very personally?

This was in the same place where another parishioner’s father was murdered just the other year, four shots to the back of the head.

 

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Styx: Come Sail Away – Lyrics analysis – Angels, Holy Souls, Purgatory, Heaven

don bosco dream barque of peter

So, I’m a Catholic priest, and now, in 2020, 60 years old. When I was a senior in High School, 1978, Come Sail Away! by Styx was my favorite song. In analyzing the lyrics, I’m surely guilty of reading my own perspective into it all. Come along for the ride, or better: Come Sail Away! [My comments.]

I’m sailing away [Sorry, but I’m so very much wanting to go to heaven that this sailing away” thing instantly refers to death as described in the Funeral Preface: “Life is changed, not ended.]
Set an open course for the Virgin Sea [Because we’ve never been to that “Virgin Sea.” You recall in Luke 5:4 that Jesus commanded: “Duc in altum!” which we translate as: “Set out into the deep!”  But “in altum” refers to “into the heights” as opposed to “de profundis…” “out of the depths.” One of our fresh water lakes in the north woods of Minnesota – 120 feet deep at that point – was entirely clear as the air, so that one could easily see, in detail, the landscape, if you will, at the bottom of the lake. That would be like hovering over the edge of the roof of a short skyscraper. Fishermen on the freshwater sea of Galilee would have this experience of being in the skies over the depths, neither of which guarantees any earthly security. Even if we’re entirely with our Lord as His little flock, it’s still all very new to us going to the other side, as it were.]
‘Cause I’ve got to be free [Indeed. We have do not have the freedom not to be free of this world. We will die. We will move on. But there is more to this. In 1 Peter 2:24 we are told that to be free from sin we might live for righteousness. Saint Paul says that a dead person is absolved from sin (see Romans 6:6), you know, “‘Cause I’ve got to be free.”]
Free to face the life that’s ahead of me [Free for life. So, we’re headed in the right direction here, up to heaven, but there might be purgatory, right? We shall see. We can’t judge ourselves on such matters. We’ll see what the Lord has to say about this. But we must have the hope that we are facing life, and embrace that freely: “Free to face.”]
On board, I’m the captain [Speaking to the angels here. Our angel guardians enlighten us, guard us, rule us, guide us. Yes. But we have free will to assent to this, or not. We’re the captains in this most basic sense. If we follow the Lord we do so by grace, but He also uses our free will.]
So climb aboard
We’ll search for tomorrow
On every shore. And I’ll try – Oh Lord! I’ll try – to carry on [Speaking to the angels as he’s dying, as his entire life is flashing before his eyes. Is there any hope possible for the shores of his life? Do any growth in God’s love accompany him now? Many, many of even the greatest of saints were afflicted at the moment of death, Satan trying to make them despair, accusing them. But they cut through the mind games of Satan with the love of God, not their fallen-nothing-love for God, but God’s very love within them by grace.]
I look to the sea [this very moment of death, launching out into the depths, the heights.]
Reflections in the waves spark my memory [Do we sink like Peter upon the waves? Do we allow Jesus to catch us? See Matthew 14:30-31.]
Some happy some sad [So nostalgic! I’ve been nostalgic since I was a little, little kid. This is like an extended examination of conscience…]
I think of childhood friends and the dreams we had [Yep. All that.]
We live happily forever
So the story goes [How naive we all were!]
But somehow we missed out [By saving grace…]
On that pot of gold [bypassing the “treasures” of this world so that our souls are purified like gold in fire. And this is a statement of hope. This fellow is all about what lies ahead with real life. I love that.]
But we’ll try best that we can
To carry on [The hope that comes with God’s love would have us do this as we move from this life to the next.]

A gathering of angels appeared above my head [So, right at the moment of death…]
They sang to me this song of hope, and this is what they said [“A song of hope”. I love that. The angels have helped us through life, but….]
They said come sail away, come sail away
Come sail away with me now
Come sail away, come sail away
Come sail away with me

Come sail away, come sail away
Come sail away with me now
Come sail away, come sail away
Come sail away with me

I thought that they were angels, but to my surprise [Not angels! It’s the souls in Purgatory who by our prayers were freed and went on their way to heaven, eagerly awaiting the moment, as Jesus says, to welcome us into the eternal habitations, into heaven. We would think they are angels at first glance because the saints in heaven reflect the very glory of God.]
We climbed aboard their starship [the Holy Spirit], we headed for the skies [Duc in altum! This is a meditation which brings me great joy and great peace… and joy! We’re on our way to heaven!]
Singing come sail away, come sail away
Come sail away with me now
Come sail away, come sail away
Come sail away with me
Come sail away, come sail away
Come sail away with me
Come sail away, come sail away
Come sail away with me

Come sail away, come sail away
Come sail away, come sail away


So, say a prayer for the souls in purgatory. They will be the ones to greet you on the other side and welcome you into the eternal habitations. Hail Mary

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Coronavirus: How many will die?

In these USA, say, about 61,000 die of influenza annually. Stats change by the minute, but as of this writing, deaths divided by numbers of cases just for the Coronavirus gives us a 1.75% mortality rate, a bit of a jump regardless of more testing. That’s 17.5 times the mortality rate of the average influenza, which stands at 0.1%. [[ Oops! Looks like I got that decimal point wrong. ]] It’s different in every country. The rate jumped down after testing to about 1.1 to 1.4. That will jump up a little as more cases tested can also mean more deaths, hyperbolically so.

The contagion rate as gleaned from different sources, also continuously fluctuating, stands at about just 2 more infections for each person who already has it. With social distancing etc the numbers can go down. Most could otherwise get it, that is – another variable – until herd immunity is reached or most get an innoculation. Timing on that is a game changer.

So, how many will die? God only knows. And, speaking of God, going to your inner room to pray, figuratively and literally, where Our Heavenly Father sees in secret, will bring you rewards on all levels and in every way.

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Mortuary Christmas 23 Dec 2019

flores-christmas

It’s what priests do, you know, when they are with those who are on the peripheries of society and family or friends are not available for whatever reason. We are called upon to “identify the body” at the mortuary. It’s a legal exercise. There are forms to fill out, IDs to be photocopied and put on record, signatures to be scrawled. I’m sure many of you have had the experience.

Jesus didn’t come to be born among us because we were all effervescent and nice and without the consequences of original sin such as sickness and death and suffering the aggression of others whilst we remain in exile on this earth and away from heaven (as we must hope). He came among us because of the violence and darkness and hell and, yes, death all around us and we ourselves dropping into the grave. He was born in a cave to be buried in a cave, and then rise and bring us to life.

So, does the visit to the mortuary become a downer, as is said, just before Christmas? Not at all. It instead puts an edge on Christmas. We know all the better by experience why it is that Jesus came among us. It’s an occasion to say:

Thank you Jesus for coming into this world amidst all of our death and destruction. Thank you for forgiving us and bringing us close to you, unto heaven. Thank you.

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RIP Marjorie Harris my friend: Dorothy Parker, Hilaire Belloc, GK Chesterton

CHESTERTON FATHER BROWN

The great receptionist lady at Valley View Nursing Home told me quite a while back that I had better not just see Marie McIsaac (who died Nov. 21, 2019), but I had better see Marjorie Harris as well.

“Who’s Marjorie Harris?” I asked. Of course, I would have to find out for myself.

I went to her room and saw a terribly pitiable sight, that is, to all appearances. What a strong woman, what a fierce wit. How much she has suffered. The currents run deep in those who suffer. Marjorie was effectively without a family. They are far away. So far.

Marjorie had what’s called an essential tremor. The brain sends it own signals to the muscles on its own and there’s a Parkinson-esque tremor especially in the head which continuously shakes and especially in the hands especially when trying to hold flatware or pick up a cup to drink. Sitting in a wheel chair staring at a corner of her room she looked pitiful, as I saw, until I noted (it didn’t take long) a piercing ironic brilliant wit. Wow! I love to see this. I am rightly reprimanded for being tempted to judge appearances. Stupid, stupid, stupid me. She quickly became a close friend.

We spoke much about her family… We spoke a great deal about the faith, about the sacraments, about the ironies of life, about literature. Regarding the literature thing, take a hint about her from the comment she made to me the other day with some dismay at the state of affairs with education today:

  • “Father George, you’re the only one who speaks to me with the subjunctive.”

Marjorie made me laugh. I was able to bring her to laugh, almost to tears. She thanked me for that. I learned that from the great Venerable Fulton J Sheen, who spoke of breaking the suffering of those in a hospital or institution. He said those who suffer do suffer in the present, but they are also tempted to drag all suffering of the past into the present and they project all that heap of suffering into the future and drag that back upon themselves into a suffocating, frustrating web of suffering so great that it seems it is impossible to extricate oneself. And then one is brought to laugh. It all breaks apart.

We spoke of Jesus and His great wit, how He turns tables with but a word. Yep.

Testing me, Marjorie told me about Dorothy Parker and asked me to find a quote from her aphorisms. Marjorie told me this was a test of my own wit or lack thereof. I brought Marjorie this quote:

  • “You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think.”

I laughed when I saw that. I printed it out and brought it to her. She struggled a bit trying to hold the paper still enough to read it, trying to see around dark spots in her eyes… Then she laughed and laughed and laughed a howling laugh making me laugh with her. Lovely, really.

Marjorie loved the likes of T.S. Elliot, Kipling, Frost, Wordsworth… Knowing this, I promised to bring her, in big print, my summary of Hilaire Belloc’s chapter on the greatness of irony:

hilaire bellocTo the young, the pure, and the ingenuous, irony must always appear to have a quality of something evil, and so it has, for […] it is a sword to wound. It is so directly the product or reflex of evil that, though it can never be used – nay, can hardly exist – save in the chastisement of evil, yet irony always carries with it some reflections of the bad spirit against which it was directed. […] It suggests most powerfully the evil against which it is directed, and those innocent of evil shun so terrible an instrument. […] The mere truth is vivid with ironical power […] when the mere utterance of a plain truth labouriously concealed by hypocrisy, denied by contemporary falsehood, and forgotten in the moral lethargy of the populace, takes upon itself an ironical quality more powerful than any elaboration of special ironies could have taken in the past. […] No man possessed of irony and using it has lived happily; nor has any man possessing it and using it died without having done great good to his fellows and secured a singular advantage to his own soul. [Hilaire Belloc, “On Irony” (pages 124-127; Penguin books 1325. Selected Essays (2/6), edited by J.B. Morton; Harmondsworth – Baltimore – Mitcham 1958).]

She loved it totally. So, full of thanksgiving. Then she brought up GK Chesterton and The Man Who Was Thursday. Testing me again, I’m sure, she said ever so non-nonchalantly: “I’m not sure what it means. I had to read it seven times.” I brought her commentary on that work of Gilbert Kieth and on where Chesterton was in his life, he writing that more than a decade before his conversion. Instantly I could see everything click, all her questions answered. So I promised to bring her THE CHAPTER.

“The Secret of Brown” in a volume of the Father Brown stories also sporting that title,” said I. It was that Secret which accompanied Marjorie to the next life. It is so filled the greatest suffering, with the greatest hope, going to the heart of Chesterton’s own friendship with Christ Jesus, the greatest expression of spiritual irony surpassing even that of Belloc’s take on irony.

Marjorie was the most incisive literary wit I have ever know, ever. And, believe me when I tell you, after hanging around the most brilliant people in the world for a lifetime, all at the top of their game, that that’s saying a lot.

I will miss you terribly Marjorie. Remember me from where you are, this donkey-priest. Tell Jesus this donkey priest needs His special help. Here’s what Marjorie had with her:

THE SECRET OF FATHER BROWN

FLAMBEAU, once the most famous criminal in France and later a very private detective in England, had long retired from both professions. Some say a career of crime had left him with too many scruples for a career of detection. Anyhow, after a life of romantic escapes and tricks of evasion, he had ended at what some might consider an appropriate address: in a castle in Spain. The castle, however, was Continue reading

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Nov 2 All Souls: Vet Purple Heart 16 y.o.

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I pray for this guy when I head up to the cemetery. I am grateful. Thank you.

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Harvesting organs from the living

I’ve heard it said that harvesting organs from the living is just fine. It is not. This is murder. Harvesting organs from dead is just fine, though the questions about when dead is actually dead are ignored quite universally by power monster doctors who only want a buck. It’s a very lucrative business.

When I was a student at the John Paul Institute for Marriage and the Family back in the 1980s when it was still in its pristine academic and Catholic foundational era, an international convention of doctors keyed into scientific analysis of the moment of death was brought together. The doctors spoke each of their expertise regarding various criteria for ascertaining death, regarding heartbeat, respiration, auditory or visual viability, brain waves, etc., under “normal” conditions and abnormal (that is, real-life) conditions. The universal consensus was that it’s really quite impossible to ascertain death in such manner that simply disconnecting someone from whatever will provide instantaneous death in such manner that it is permissible to immediately harvest organs from the “dead” patient. Period. Have we advanced in science since then. I’m guessing not very much for the reason that brow beating rhetoric about making tough decisions from doctors who don’t give a damn about life has increased in a hyperbolic manner. They are gods, and God isn’t God.

I don’t have organ donation indicated on my driver license.10

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Lessons In Losing A Brother

Thanks, Mike the Cop.

You led me deeper into life.

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Obstreperous, cantankerous, crotchety old man in the throws of death. Then…

last rites

A good friend, an 82nd Airborne Fireman EMT Scots-Irish disaffected Baptist mentioned to me that he just ambulance-delivered an elderly friend of his to a hospital (a new one to me). “He’s Catholic,” he said, adding, “He’s pretty near death.” He told me more about him: “Everything for him is trucks, that was his whole life. He’s pretty crotchety. His parish is […] but we couldn’t get hold of the priest there.” “Just tell me about all those cases,” I requested. “O.K. I sure will,” he said, sorry that he didn’t tell me some hours earlier.

Thinking he might just still be alive, I took off and met this fellow in his hospital room. He was awake, but utterly non-communicative, other than fierce growling noises. He made it clear that he was the most obstreperous, cantankerous, crotchety old man in the throws of death that anyone would ever meet in this world.

There being a chair in the room, I plopped myself down and told him about our common friend. The reaction was for him to be as obstreperous, cantankerous and crotchety as ever, though this new information seemed to make him a bit curious. That was my invitation to continue.

Here’s the deal: Never believe obstreperous, cantankerous and crotchety. That’s just a test to see if someone can respond in kind (that’s some people’s preferred method of communication and there’s no harm in it), a birds-of-a-feather kind of thing. Anyway…

I told him that Jesus wants him in heaven, that Jesus is just that good and kind, even for him, even for me. Always include yourself in making such statements. It’s a birds-of-a-feather kind of thing.

I walked him through how we would go about him receiving the Sacraments and blessings in the present circumstances, interspersing this with how it is that Jesus wound up on the Cross, taking our place, so that Jesus is deadly serious about getting us to heaven, that He didn’t do that so we could just go to hell. He gave a nod of agreement. So, off we went through a flood of sanctifying grace and hope and being pointed to heaven. Was that just about a tear in his eye that I saw?

As a thanks he tried to express his gratitude, but his impossible voice box and weakened state only made it all sound like more obstreperous, cantankerous, crotchety sounds. And yet, these were polite, as it were. And the eyes told the whole story.

My one-time Baptist friend is the best for alerting me for needs for Last Rites. Don’t think that the angels are not at work.

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Memorial Day instigated memories: “Life is changed, not ended.”

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At Myrtle Beach I saw things with both mom and dad that had a huge effect on me. They would bring me to the US Air Force Base (the bones of which are pictured above) and have me eat with the pilots and such. The base would soon close because of a decision to ditch the A-10s. Ironically, it was just now decided in 2019 to upgrade this close air support fighter especially loved by the guys on the ground.

In the speech to announce the closing, the officer said: “It’s the end.” My mom copied that out in longhand, again and again, on bits of paper that I would find later here and there, noting the context of the closing and the name and rank of the beloved speaker. The closing acted for them as the closing of an entire era that was held in living memory, but that too, they knew, would soon pass as well. “It’s the end.”

The two of them used to sit at the end of the runway when it was still military and watch the guys practice their take-offs and landings amidst fancy stuff in the air: warthogs and other jet fighters, a great show instigating lots of memories for dad in one way (surely calling to mind those who didn’t live to die another day back in WWII and the Korean War) and for mom in another way (surely calling to mind those many millions who were murdered by the Nazis).

Dad would later have some health incidents for which I was present in Myrtle Beach. Mom would die at Myrtle Beach in a place pictured above. Here’s a google-map shot of some items placed in an outdoor museum the South side of the runway, which, if you have good eyes, you can find in the picture at the top of this post:

myrtle beach Air Force base outdoor museum farrow pkwy

Here’s a fantastic video with some flying action shots, including the Vought Corsair. How they’ve changed since the gull-wing Corsairs dad flew!

Both mom and dad had been through some great spiritual retreats at Mepkin Abbey in their last years. They had taken great notes and spoke glowingly of the retreat master. And for that I thank the dear Lord. “It’s the end”? No. They both learned that, in fact, as the Funeral Mass Preface has it:

“Life is changed, not ended.”

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THAT was unexpected. No Sunday Mass or Holy Hour. “Is Fr George alive?”

mark twain

Sparing you the gross details, lets just say we had catastrophic plumbing difficulties and that Service Master had to be called in for the cleanup and disinfection. It’s against State law to hold any public event without proper plumbing or its equivalent. So, everything was cancelled. But now all is back to normal already. Quick!

Signs were put up on all the doors of the church and office and classrooms and social hall that Mass and Holy Hour and any and all meetings were cancelled. Yellow and black striped caution tape was also used, ensuring no entry. The whole campus looked like a crime scene. But the gross reason for sudden cancelling wasn’t publicized on the notices. My bad. I’m humbled at the first reaction I’m told people had: “Is Fr George alive?”

As Mark Twain had it, and contrary to popular belief…

“Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

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Catechetical Capital Punishment: Anti-Catholics burn Pope Francis [Update]

wolf angry

The anti-Catholic “katholics” not so kryptically klaim that Pope Francis has “changed church doctrine” in the Catechism of the Catholic Church with a rescript of paragraph 2267 on capital punishment. Those who make the klaim that he changed Church doctrine are well aware that there would be no Catholic Church if doctrine can be changed. They know they scandalize the faithful. They revel in coprophiliac self-congratulating fake-news popularity as heroes, self-proclaimed saviors of the Church and the world.

But, of course, Pope Francis has done nothing even remotely like changing Church doctrine. Not at all. Quite the opposite. He’s reaffirmed it. Let’s do something pretty much no one does. Let’s actually analyse the new paragraphs for 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church with my emphases in bold and [[my comments in red]].

Nuova redazione del n. 2267 del Catechismo della Chiesa Cattolica sulla pena di morte – Rescriptum “ex Audentia SS.mi”, 02.08.2018

The death penalty

2267. Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.

Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes [[I’m not aware of that truth being lost on those of the past, by the way, but that is beside the point.]]. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state [[This refers to debate on a deterrent or exacerbating effect of the death penalty.]]. Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed [[“been developed”: directly to the point.]], which ensure the due protection of citizens [[“ensure the due protection”: directly to the point.]] but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption [[This is beside the point as this may also come about because of imminent death.]].

Consequently [[“pertanto” “quapropter”: that is, considering these ever changing conditions, the present conditions, generally speaking – and which can revert back to something more primitive in future – are such that right now, for these particular conditions…]], the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that “the death penalty is inadmissible [[…in present circumstances…]] because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”,[1] [[“inviolability” … “dignity”: these absolute statements are actually relative to things like “self-defense”, right? So, there’s no there there.]] and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide. [[Fine.]]

[1] Francis, Address to Participants in the Meeting organized by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, 11 October 2017: L’Osservatore Romano, 13 October 2017, 5. [[This citation is incorrect. It is the last paragraph on page 7 which then continues on page 11. See the PDF of this edition of the Vatican newspaper from the Vatican website:

http://www.osservatoreromano.va/vaticanresources/pdf/ING_2017_041_1310.pdf

Anyway,there are plenty of ambiguous statements in that footnoted private address which is not directed to the universal Church, nor can it be said that everything in that private address to now canonized, as it were, because it is noted for whatever reason, for instance, to let us know more about not so much the doctrine of the Church but as an indication of Pope Francis’ concern, and to show that he has now brought to completion what he had intended to do for quite a while. There’s no there there. That address is NOT the Catechism no matter how much the mere fact of its publication is noted.]]

=======/// In other words, the doctrine stays in place, and this is simply a comment on the proper application of the doctrine in present conditions, generally speaking. Mind you, the prudence of the Church hasn’t changed one bit. This is a faithful rendition of not only of the doctrine but also of the prudent application of the Church from all ages. This is the judgment for the present time, generally speaking.

The method is crystal clear in examining ever changing circumstances. See the words “developed” and “ensure” and “consequently”?

Get it? This is not hard. In fact, it is so easy that one is tempted to think that there is real malice in those who attack to quickly, so easily, with manipulation.

I, for one, think that we need to support Pope Francis with prayer.

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Homily 2018 05 28 – Memorial Day

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Before Mass at Noon we all marched outside and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Then, as is the custom on this Memorial Day, we raised the flag which had been at half mast in honor of the fallen heroes, and then quickly raised at Noon to honor their achievements for the country and the world. I was sopping wet under the vestments, as I had just been to the cemetery. It was raining. But, you’ll hear about that. And about this 16 year old…

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That kind of brings it home. You’ll hear about that…

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