Tag Archives: Donkeys

Donkey Day: Donkeys on Coats of Arms. Benedict XVI and myself

benedict xvi coat of arms

Recall that Saint Corbinian’s bear on the coat of arms of Benedict XVI was actually a donkey, that is, fulfilling the role of the donkey after he killed the donkey. Benedict called himself that “donkey”. No, really. A Pope who is a jackass. Luther, with great malice, called the Pope of the time a jackass. Benedict is from Germany. Anyway, see the outrageously wonderful 2005 article of Archbishop Raymond Burke about the newly elected Pope Donkey, Benedict XVI. And then, to those of you who are fuming mad and flinging the rest of us into hell in all the mortal sin you suppose I and Ratzinger and Burke are in for speaking of the papacy being filled with the likes of a jackass, to you I say, lighten up. Have some Christian mirth. Some irony. Rejoice! The Lord is good and kind. Again, I will say it: Rejoice! My coat of arms, breaking all the rules of heraldry, as any donkey might do, so far:

GEORGE DAVID BYERS - COAT OF ARMS - revision

This recalls the Discalced Carmelite coat of arms:

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I think Tom Clancy wrote on the etiquette of sword ceremonial. What is the military symbolism of the sword held high as with Elijah or with Saint Michael atop Castel Sant’Angelo who is sheathing his sword? What of ceremonial stuff, like the the sword being held straight up or pointed upward or straight down or pointed downward? Anyone?

Benedict XVI was Pope. Cardinal Burke could well be Pope soon. I’ll never be, but I’m happy to have a donkey on my coat of arms anyway! Just in case that article by Cardinal Burke disappears, I include the bit towards the end commenting on Pope Benedict XVI as being a Jackass:

[…] In his memoirs published in 1997, then-Cardinal Ratzinger commented on his life as a bishop, reflecting upon the image of the bear of St. Corbinian, founding bishop of Freising, the ancient see which is now the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, to which Cardinal Ratzinger was called to serve as archbishop. He relates the story to a meditation of St. Augustine on the text of verses 22 and 23 of Psalm 73 (72). St. Corbinian’s bear:

As the story goes, St. Corbinian was on his way to Rome when a bear attacked and killed his pack animal, his donkey. St. Corbinian rebuked the bear and placed the load of the donkey upon his back to carry to Rome. The story of the bear of St. Corbinian reminded the cardinal of St. Augustine’s meditation on the verses of Psalm 73 which he translates thusly: “A draft animal am I before you, for you, and this is precisely how I abide with you” (Psalm 73:22-23; Joseph Ratzinger, Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, page 155). The cardinal, like St. Augustine, had chosen the life of a scholar, but God called him to take up the burdens of the episcopal office, eventually serving the Holy Father as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He comments on the frustrations which St. Augustine experienced in dealing with the many practical concerns of a pastor of souls, when he had in mind to carry out great intellectual and spiritual works. The text of the psalm reminded the saint and reminded Cardinal Ratzinger that God chose to keep them close to Him by having them serve as His “draft animals,” carrying out the humble tasks of the pastoral office, rather than the exalted service which they had in mind for themselves. Relating the meditation of St. Augustine to the story of St. Corbinian’s bear, Cardinal Ratzinger comments: “Just as the draft animal is closest to the farmer, doing his work for him, so is Augustine closest to God precisely through such humble service, completely within God’s hand, completely His instrument.He could not be closer to his Lord or be more important to Him. The laden bear that took the place of St. Corbinian’s horse, or rather donkey — the bear that became his donkey against its will: Is this not an image of what I should do and of what I am?”A beast of burden have I become for you, and this is just the way for me to remain wholly yours and always abide with you” (Milestones, pages 156-157). Tonight, we thank God for Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, who has found his happiness in serving as Christ’s “donkey,” His “draft animal,” who has given his entire self to working humbly and steadfastly with Christ in the vineyard of the Father. When we see the image of the bear of St. Corbinian on his coat-of-arms, may we be reminded of how he has given and gives his life in service to Christ and His Church. Assisting our Holy Father with his burdens Conscious of the many and heavy burdens which our Holy Father carries, with Christ, for us, let us assist him, offering him the joy of our faithful prayers, loyal affection and unfailing obedience. Our Holy Father, in continuity with the teaching and direction of his much beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II, has already given us an indication of his desires for our growth in holiness of life.In his first address to the College of Cardinals on the day after his election, Pope Benedict XVI stated that the Holy Eucharist “cannot but be the permanent center and the source of the petrine service entrusted to [him]” (Benedict XVI, a pope of Christ, communion, collegiality, Vatican Information Service, April 20, 2005, page 2). Reflecting upon Divine Providence, which called him to the office of St. Peter during the Year of the Eucharist, he has asked that the Solemnity of Corpus Christi “be celebrated in a particularly special way.”He reminded us that the celebration of World Youth Day in Cologne in August will center on the Holy Eucharist, and that the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to be held this coming October, will devote itself to the theme: “The Eucharist, Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church.”He concluded with a solemn request addressed to us all: “I ask everyone to intensify in coming months love and devotion to the Eucharistic Jesus and to express in a courageous and clear way the real presence of the Lord, above all through the solemnity and the correctness of the celebrations” (Benedict XVI, a pope of Christ, communion, collegiality, Vatican Information Service, April 20, 2005, page 3). As we thank God tonight for the gift of Pope Benedict XVI, let us help him shoulder his heavy burdens by deepening and strengthening our knowledge and love of the Holy Eucharist, above all by the piety with which we participate in Holy Mass, and adore and worship the Blessed Sacrament outside of Mass. As we are now united sacramentally to the Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary, let us lift up to His glorious and open Heart the intentions of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. Placing our Holy Father and his intentions into the all-merciful and all-loving Heart of Jesus, we trust that no grace will be lacking to our Holy Father as he pours out his life, with Christ, as Christ’s “donkey”for our salvation and the salvation of our world. We ask the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, and the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul to pray with us for our Holy Father: “The Lord preserve him and give him life, and make him blessed upon the earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies” (Enchiridion of Indulgences, June 29, 1968, no. 39). Conclusion I hope that the text of my homily has helped you in some way to understand the office of St. Peter and the deep trust in Divine Providence with which Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the office from our Lord.He is the humble worker in the vineyard, Christ’s “draft animal” who seeks only to do God’s will. Let us continue to assist our Holy Father by our daily prayers.I ask especially that you remember the intentions of our Holy Father when you pray the rosary. […]

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Donkey Day: Donkeys are intelligent

donkey blessed sacrament

Donkeys aren’t stubborn. Mules are stubborn. Mules have a reason. Donkeys instead are so very intelligent that they refuse to do something until they understand. When they understand, no problem. People get frustrated with donkeys because people are stupid and want donkeys to things they don’t understand just like those stupid people.

That’s why Jesus, with heaps of irony, says it would have been better for those who interfere with kids — not having any idea of the damage they do — would instead have had a donkey-millstone tied around their necks so as to have been thrown into the depths of the sea. The point is that donkeys are incomparably more intelligent than such people. Donkeys do the will of God. Many people don’t. Many people would be better off if they were donkeys.

Donkeys are really cool. Not only are they intelligent, but they can sing, and sing well.

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Donkey Day. Jackass Jubilee. Jan 14. Patron: [Saint]: Alexamenos [Martyr] Gilbert Keith Chesterton to the rescue.

alexamenos crucified donkey

Yesterday was Donkey Day, or better, the Feast of “Jackasses” should we use the more technical, archaic English “jack” [for the male of the species such as Jackdaw, Jackrabbit, and so on] and the Latin scientific description asinus, short for its combined form with its high classification, equus asinus.

There is much to be said about this great feast day going back many centuries. There are videos, musical tributes, “liturgies.” But all of that has lost the plot, it seems to me. I think the origins of this ancient feast were obscured by time with the asinine (so to speak) activities of irony that abounded to such a degree that the more serious side was overshadowed.

I’m guessing that the original inspiration for this feast, inviting all the irony and carry-on to celebrate the irony that is so essential to Christianity, goes back to what I’m guessing is an incident which sparked the martyrdom of Jewish boy named Alexamenos (“Defender”) who had converted to Christianity and somehow found himself on the lower South slopes of Monte Palatino, opposite the Roman Forum and Colosseum, overlooking the Circus Maximus, in the Imperial School, studying up on how best to serve the Caesar of the day.

At the time, the chariot races and battle ship matches and such taking place in the Circus Maximus, for which he and his fellow students always had a front row seat, also afforded him a view of what was happening in the central divider island inside the “circus” itself. At regular intervals there were places where Christians were placed, and where they would be made sport of by gladiators until they died, one after the other.

It seems this was too much for little Alexamenos, so indignant, who then spoke of how wrong this was because it is another Jewish fellow, Jesus, God, who standing in our place, and crucified, was put to death for what we deserved because of sin so that He might have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us. Being a Christian was, however, obviously outlawed by the Caesars of the day. It was a blood bath. The classmates of Alexamenos would first mock him, and then, I suppose, see an opportunity to be seen as being loyal to Caesar, they would betray Alexamenos and have him put to death.

The mockery involves the graffito etched into the stone walls of their classroom. That entire bit of the wall was removed when it was relatively recently discovered. A replica was made and placed into a museum just a stone’s throw from the Imperial School, the Antiquarium del Palatino. Yours truly took a picture of that, which is reproduced on the top of this post.

The graffito depicts a little boy worshiping a crucified donkey. Other nations held that the donkey was the national symbol of Israel, the Hebrews, the Jews. Jesus, the “King of the Jews” as Pontius Pilate had written, was to be depicted as a donkey.

The mockery is rather incisive. But Jesus came precisely to receive that mockery, to be that donkey, indeed, as Saint Paul says in his short hand, to become sin for us, standing in our place, the innocent for the guilty. If we have no sense of irony, we have no faith.

G.K. Chesterton, like St Augustine before him, had a great sense of irony. He has this about the greatness of donkeys.

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

Or did you not know that donkeys were always with the Holy Family:

  • On the trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem
  • At the manger when Jesus was born
  • On the trip from Bethlehem to Egypt
  • On the trip from Egypt all the back to Nazareth
  • On the trip into Jerusalem for Jesus to be crucified

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Seen near the hermitage

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Policing justice is mercy: We need cops. Ironies abound in this anti-cop era.

alexamenos crucified donkey

Alexamenos, surely an early Jewish-Christian martyr, bidding us to worship his God and ours (as mocked in this graffito by his Imperial Schoolboy classmates just above the Circus Maximus and Imperial Forum of the Caesars of the early centuries in Rome. His later namesake is the protagonist in a 750 page novel I wrote between chapters of the doctoral thesis on Genesis 2–3.

In God, Justice is Mercy. We can discuss our fine points and distinctions, whereby, as the Common Doctor says, mercy is a potential part of the virtue of justice. But, in God, they are the same. Just stare at Jesus crucified, on Him whom you have pierced. No, really, do it. He became a jackass criminal for us, standing in our place, the innocent for the guilty, redeeming us by becoming exactly what we were, who we are without His grace. How ironic. But there are many who don’t get that. There are many who may think that Jesus didn’t “become sin” for us (see St Paul) evil while remaining innocent. Irony just kills them instead of enlivening them. But that’s entirely their fault. That’s no reason not to provide the irony. And it is true that irony bears the very reflection of what it hates. And I think this bears memorization:

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).]

But let’s take a very practical example, shall we? We just lost our entire police force in Andrews except for one officer, the youngest, who started with us. Will he stay? The rest were instantly all snapped up to become Federal agents, that is Tribal Police, which is Federal. Now we need applications. Who will apply. The media has been giving the police around the country a bad rap, undeservedly so.

I’ve heard the shadowy opinion that it’s not nice to be a LEO (Law Enforcement Officer). ‘Tis better to be a missionary of mercy than to be a minister of justice, they say, as if the two were mutually exclusive. But let’s take a look at that. What do police do?

  • Police mostly do domestic calls. Surely this involves the administration of justice for the jerk who is beating his wife to death and is throwing kids through sheet-rock walls in drug/liquor induced temper tantrums. But it is also a great mercy to end that hell for the wife and kids, to get them medical treatment and then a way out of that living hell. And it’s also mercy for the perp, who needs to be tripped on his way to hell. Maybe he can go to heaven.
  • Police do a lot of traffic stops. Surely this involves the administration of justice for the jerk who is driving drunk or is on drugs or is a road-rager or is driving at out-of-control speeds, for he is an imminent danger to himself and the public. But this is also a great act of mercy for the driver and the general public. All will be safer.

Of course, it is said that the down side to all this is that the bread-winner is taken out of the house in the first instance or will lose his job in the second instance as the vehicle will be impounded, blah blah blah. Leave well enough alone they say. They were fine before the police interfered they say. Yet they are happy to watch women and children get smacked down and killed. They are happy not to have the woman and children get safe housing and be put on programs until she and kids can get on their feet again. They are happy to let the perp not get the tripping up he needs. Just the good ol’ boys, you know.

I’m hoping that youngsters who are not carrying the baggage of their elders will become indignant with the reasoning of the good ol’ boys and go ahead and provide a lot of mercy by way of being ministers of justice, LEOs and all that.

To do that well, they would have to be able to bear all the baggage, all the evil of this present generation as if they themselves were guilty of it, that is, to understand that they could be the very criminals they seek to arrest, or better, are the very criminals they seek to arrest, that is, except for the grace of God. Remember the old adage: “There but for the grace of God go I.” Then, after that realization, it’s all about loving others as you would want to be loved by them. If we need tripping up while we are on our way to hell at breakneck speeds, should we not be thankful for someone tripping us up? That’s mercy isn’t it?

With incredible racism and anti-Semitism, Saint John the Baptist is hailed by many as being all about justice and has nothing to do with mercy, because, you know, he’s all about the Old Testament and we’re children of the New Testament. I know of no more merciful prophet in the Hebrew Scriptures than John, who is praised by none other than Jesus, the very Son of God, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Wonder-Counselor, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace, He who will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Amen.

 

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Merry Christmas to donkeys and all!

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Some of my favorite parishioners sent me this card while away for Christmas. It was chosen, I’m sure, because of the donkey, what with yours truly being the donkey-priest. I notice that the other beasts are quite a bit further away, distracted by the kings arriving from the East. Meanwhile, the donkey, with great peripheral vision, is keeping an eye on Jesus, just playing with the hay, not really eating. Moreover, that donkey is standing sideways so as to play the billboard, as it were.  He’s giving the Holy Family a good view of the cross painted on his back, not that they haven’t seen it on him before. Mary rode down to Bethlehem from Nazareth, a treacherous journey, on the back of this beast, and would soon be on their way with him to Egypt, and then back. Another similar donkey would bring Jesus into Jerusalem for His crucifixion.

I really like the title: “Watching in wonderment.” This takes purity of heart and agility of soul. It takes a child. If we’re not like children we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. So, that’s really important. We need to slow down. “Watching in wonderment.” I love it.

If you can see it, the angels directly behind the Holy Family are one to either side of a smaller manger. That manger is below the main altar of Saint Mary Major Basilica in Rome. Meanwhile, there is a tradition that the wood of that manger became the wood of the cross. So how is it that the wood of the manger is still in the form of a manger and the wood of the Cross is to be found on the other side of Rome in the Basilica of the Holy Cross. The artist of this card has presented a good answer, with a support structure over the manger forming a cross.

Think of it. Soldier-executioners responsible for crucifying criminals saw this and brought it back to Jerusalem from nearby Bethlehem when they were there executing all male children two years old and under on Herod’s behalf. I would if I were them. Anyway, just a spurious thought which, however, might transport us back to the day, that quiet day, in which, watching in wonderment, straining to hear the quietest peep from baby Jesus, one hears the echoes on the mountainsides and sloping hills the voices of angels singing: “Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth, peace…

Meanwhile, I hope for the day that the angels, who, it is true, as pure spirits with no bodies, have no differentiation of male/female, but are each and every one an entirely different creature (see the commentary of the Angelic Doctor), it is also nevertheless true that all angels in the Sacred Scriptures (Raphael, Michael, Gabriel…) and throughout the history of the Church (such as the Angel of Fatima) appear exclusively as male, often as warriors.

Saint Michael’s name speaks to how he wins his battles, that is, with his humility, what with his being “Like unto God.” Saint Gabriel’s name speaks to his being the military commander of Saint Michael (which is not unsupported in the Scriptures), for Gabriel refers to a war-hero, commander type special operator of God.

I digress, but I can’t help it. Even special operators, even angels, sing. Can you, straining, hear them? Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth, peace…

Merry Christmas! Or as the Brits who are not in a drunken stupor say: Happy Christmas!

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Donkey ears strain at salt’s saltiness

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The donkey near the hermitage was feasting on a new salt block yesterday. It’s good to have a bit of the salt of the earth within us, a bit of feistiness, you know, spiritually. If so, that truth and justice and mercy and goodness and kindness, that walking in the presence of Jesus with all friendship would have us do this to protect the flock:

DONKEY FOX

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Donkeys are the best!

donkeys1330672975.jpg

Did you know that Saint Corbinian’s Bear on the Coat of Arms of Benedict XVI is actually a donkey?  Continue reading

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Just a Papist Jackass

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sanfelipe007 sent in a donation via PayPal for this flag of the Holy See which arrived last night. It was found online by E.D. Thanks to you both. It should last through WNC storms. I tried to rip open the package with all enthusiasm not paying attention to the hefty staples. One ripped into my hand setting me bleeding. The bandage is now off. Gotta wonder if that’s a sign. But no reading tea-leaves!

Meanwhile, also on my “day-off” the other day, a friend gave me these two donkeys, just to remind me that I’m supposed to be a guard-donkey for the flock as a priest:

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It all does good to the heart of this priest. Thank you.

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Fall at the Hermitage on a “day off” but paradise is carried within

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The Hermitage water fall. And then there’s this above another water fall:

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And, of course, content as ever, my friend, close to the river starting not far away at the continental divide:

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I was at the hermitage twice on the “day-off”, the second time to make sure that “grandma” would be getting her diabetes shot since the neighbors were gone to the funeral for her brother, making her the lone survivor of the family.

Both morning and afternoon – I couldn’t but do it – I did up some target practice, this time replacing the QIT-99 with my 7″x9″ targets, not getting 100% anymore with the targets just a 1/3 the regulation, but still passing with 80% and 85%. Grandma, herself a crack shot with both a pistol and a long rifle, said that all that target practice is useless since, if you need to shoot, you just shoot and it’s done. But she’s a natural at it. I need to keep sharp with practice. And… and… for me it’s really fun, and it’s a real distraction, and it gets me outside and in the forest, making me feel at home, though in exile…

WNC is paradise. But, here’s the deal… you carry paradise within you (2 Cor 4:6-18 nab):

For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to bring to light the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of Jesus Christ. But we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. Since, then, we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed, therefore I spoke,” we too believe and therefore speak, knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and place us with you in his presence. Everything indeed is for you, so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God. Therefore, we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.

donkey blessed sacrament

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Ziggurat Donkey Pope Bridge edition)

flores one lane bridge

This flowery bridge picture was taken the other day out near the hermitage where I often go on my day off for a bit of quiet time (after all, it’s a hermitage) and not so quiet time (Seals and FBI qualification courses for fun).

We hear quite a bit about bridge building, consensus building, not being divisory, and that the Roman Pontiff is, by name, a bridge-builder (pontiff…). The SECOND bridge we read about in the Scriptures is a ziggurat, a kind of ladder for the angels, for the gods of Mesopotamia, Jacob’s ladder (from his famous dream). There are exemplars throughout Mesopotamia, including through rarely, those of the circular type:

ziggurat 3

There are remains in Babylon and Basra, for instance:

ziggurat 1

At the top, the god might pitch his tent among us, as it were. It was around such structures that the people had to gather yearly to hear the Enuma Elish read from beginning to end, which is no small feat when you’re reading from cuneiform tablets, when you are reciting the most nuanced presentation of philosophical and theological and anthropological and metaphysical theories of day, including the latest impositions of the political and sociological and economical and military theories of the day.

ziggurat 2

This was the bridge between heaven and earth, a two way bridge.

Meanwhile, the FIRST bridge mentioned in the Scriptures is actually the Tree of the Living Ones (the Tree of Life). That tree, that bridge came back with Jesus, we not going to Him (we’re blocked by the Cherubim), but Jesus coming to us. You’ll remember His chat with Philip under the fig tree, you know, the bit about the angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man, who is Himself the Tree of Life, who gives us the Fruit of that Tree, the Holy Eucharist. You’ll remember the Cherubim protecting the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant, where one would find the presence of God pitching His tent among us. But Jesus is only a little while lower than the angels, as we read, and then He’s back up to heaven, where He draws us into His goodness and kindness and living Truth.

Following up on original sin, the supreme arrogance and divisory spirit of the Babylonians in building these ziggurat, a kind of control of the angels, of the gods, which is pure insanity of self-serving power, brought about the multiplication of languages and lack of cooperation as we read way back in Genesis.

We do have a bridge in Jesus. We do have a bridge in the Roman Pontiff particularly in his infallibility on matters of faith and morals pronounced to the Universal Church as the Successor of Peter. But such a bridge is one way. There’s no democracy involved, no voting that controls an outcome. Jesus is our Savior. We don’t save ourselves. Jesus protects the truth in His Church. Peter is not left on his own. We are not abandoned to our fickleness. We would jump off the bridge or be thrown off it much like the donkey in the fables of the days of yore. I recall the thanksgiving at the beginning of my ecclesiastical thriller novel called rather irreverently: “Jackass for the Hour.”

It is with gratitude that I dedicate this book to the many men and women who have generously read the manuscript, making many suggestions. They represent a dozen countries and almost as many language groups. They have the most diverse backgrounds, cultures and levels of education that I could find among those with whom I could entrust the work. Their patience and humour have, I hope, stripped the manuscript of at least some of my ineptitude. Yet, I apologise for still managing to make what is easy into something difficult, a defect of one who has little understanding. Seeing how assiduous I was in taking suggestions, the comment was made that the book shouldn’t become like the jackass who trotted into a spurious collection of Aesop’s Fables – you remember the one – who, depending on the suggestions of passers-by to his owners, carried nobody, or did carry the little boy, or the old man, or both, or was carried by them, ending up being drowned in the river which flowed, appropriately, under Market Bridge. What a jackass does is not acceptable to everyone. It makes life interesting for the one who insists on being a… Jackass for the Hour.

Anyway, our Lady was the bridge by which Jesus came to us. She doesn’t take Him back. She instead intercedes for us that we might also become one with her Son, she becoming our Mother. Then, by grace, we already have one foot in heaven. Ha! The angels also ascend and descend upon us, they see the face of God even while they help us to be one with the Son of the Living God, our Holy Redeemer, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace. Amen.

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Day off (6) Donkeys are great listeners

mangy-donkey

Donkeys, however mangy, can sing and are intelligent, only doing what they understand. They’re not stubborn, which is what mules are. And they listen. Look at those ears! And… and… they are always with the Holy Family.

Part of the day off is always listening, which does me heaps of good, as I have some great conversations about all things good, like heaven, like the goodness and kindness of Jesus. This time I listened to some pretty desperate stories in the midst of all the wonderful trust in our Lord’s providence and love for us fallen human beings.

It’s been a pretty full week. Besides the Stroupe guy, still on the loose as I write this, there was also the horrific murder in front of a parishioner’s house. I note that how he really died according to eye witnesses and what was put in the papers are two very different things. Obviously the police are holding their cards close. Monstrous. Grisly. And then there was a suicide in the family. They are all bad, but this was a really bad one. How to say it? And then, apart from all that, there was a really bad injustice. Etc., etc., with one thing worse the other.

When I was a seminarian, I asked one of my half-sisters for advice on how I should go about being a priest. She immediately said that she did have one bit of advice, which was that, unlike so many of the priests she knows, I was always supposed to listen to those who want to be heard. I’ve always remembered and followed that advice.

Sometimes listening has gotten me into terrible, terrible trouble, but, mind you, without any regret on my part. I would do it all over again a thousand times. Sometimes when you listen and no one else will, you save a person’s soul. I’ve seen it so very many times. Sometimes when people get upset with you for listening, it’s because they don’t want you to hear things that will get them into deep trouble, and they are rather unhappy about that. ;-)

But always, always, always, I’m the one who benefits from listening. There are some great saints among us, because Jesus is so very good and so very kind. I’m inspired by that.

And, just to say, Jesus is good at listening. He listens to the Father speak the One Word Who He Is, that very listening being the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity. The Father speaks Jesus to us. If we listen, that Word will reverberate within heart and soul. That doesn’t mean, for my part, that I’ll be any less of a donkey, but that’s O.K. There’re a lot of good things to say about donkeys. Anyway, Jesus has listened to me a lot. Also when I go to Confession. He’s good about that. Oh, and, by the way, the donkey is the symbol forever for the Jewish people. I call to mind Alexamenos.

alexamenos

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Be smart, especially if you’re a donkey

donkey smart ass

Yes.

  • Donkeys are intelligent.
  • They can sing.
  • They only do what they understand.
  • They are always with the Holy Family, crib to the cross.

Be careful of who you are tempted to look down on.

Every donkey has his hour.

New readers might not know, but this donkey priest thinks donkeys are just so cool. As an omen of things to come, I won a palestinian donkey the day before I went to the seminary way back in 1978. I’ve loved donkeys ever since.

A long time reader sent the picture in by way of email, saying:

“I just received this and I knew had to share it with you.”

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This donkey-priest made it past April 1

DONKEY FOX

Donkeys, also known as jack [male of any species] -asses [technical name in Latin: asinus] are thought to be especially vulnerable to trickery and tom-foolery on April 1. I hesitated to post anything about it until today, pretending to wonder if I would survive the day. Three tricks were played on yours truly, one by a hope-to-be-one-day-seminarian (saying he converted to be Episcopalian, one by a fellow priest (he overthought that one), another by some LEOs (simple, yet elaborate, making me laugh out loud).

So, I didn’t fall for any of them, at least not for too long a time… But I do appreciate the attempts. It’ll have to be better than that next year. I can’t wait. What mere human beings don’t understand is that donkeys are fierce guardians of the flock. We trick tricksters all the time: “Oh, we’re just dumb donkeys!” And then, bam, a swift kick followed by a calm esophagal crush, and the donkey and the flock make it to the next day. We live a life of foolishness. I mean, did you ever hear a donkey sing?

IMG_20170401_225805Jesus played the fool on the cross, letting us mock him. And then, bam, He rises from the dead. Saint Paul bids us to be fools for Christ (1 Cor 4:10). The foolishness is all about what is not of the world, that which is mocked by the world: honesty, integrity, goodness, kindness, peacefulness, being tabernacles of the Holy Spirit.

Update: Jenny the Jeep (Jenny being the female of the donkey species), has a new tag as of yesterday when it finally came with the new registration in the mail. She proclaims “PRO DEO” (“FOR GOD”), of which the rest of the phrase is “ET PATRIA” (“AND COUNTRY”) and is the motto particularly of the USARMY but in general of the entire Department of Defense. In this case, it refers in a special way to 1 Cor 4:10, being fools for God. My 4GOD4USA tag is now retired. Sassy has 4GOD4ALL.

 

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I think of beer when I recall the great priest-saints & also my unworthiness

Yep. That’s about right. It’s really cool being a donkey-priest.

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Pope Francis, journalists & bad words: κοπροφιλία and κοπροφαγία

dung snow

When Pope Francis apologized for using ultra-technical terms used exclusively in scientific journals of psychiatry such as κοπροφιλία and κοπροφαγία, the apology was a self-accusation of being inappropriate because of not using more understandable street language, not for referencing the topics denoted by those “It’s-all-Greek-to-me” terms.

The Holy Father was directing those words at some journalists and some readers of those journalists, you know the ones and they know who they are, you know, those who publish false news stories or exclusively run after scandal or who twist everything into lies so that everything they see is darkness with their eyes covered with you-know-what. Jesus himself, mind you, spoke of this darkening of the light:

“No one lights a lamp and puts it in a cellar or under a basket. Instead, he sets it on a lampstand, so those who enter can see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your vision is clear, your whole body also is full of light. But when it is poor, your body is full of darkness. Be careful, then, that the light within you is not darkness. So if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it in darkness, you will be radiant, as though a lamp were shining on you.”

These very journalists with their ever pious ears and snowflake fragility, were, as was to be expected, ever so violently offended and set off on a course of slander against the Bishop of Rome. He was rightly likening their work to the content of those terms. They, in turn, just to prove he was right about them, breathlessly said that for him to use such words was a scandal and the end of the world and that all is now hopeless and each and every one of us is to become a sede-vacantist and be filled with bitterness and hatred, blaming him for our going to hell so defiantly and arrogantly. They say that he himself is filled with κοπροφιλία and κοπροφαγία, thus fulfilling in themselves it seems the irony that is always required by Divine Providence. Saint Paul gives us the proper attitude:

“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are members of one another. […] Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building up the one in need and bringing grace to those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, outcry and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and tender-hearted to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Those journalists, of course, in all their self-righteousness, turn those words of Saint Paul’s letter to the Ephesians exclusively to Pope Francis since they in their opinion don’t need any such reprimand, of course.

In an effort to rid people of their make pretend pious ears, perhaps it would be good to hunt up a few biblical insults written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, you know, some earthy ones, in order to demonstrate to these tender snowflakes that down-to-earth language is not always a bad thing. I for one wouldn’t mind at all if Pope Francis used some street language, not the really bad words, but you know, like manure, etc. Anyway, here’s a good insult from Ezekiel 23:20, with this being a pedantic and therefore honest translation, having no fear of the Holy Spirit’s fiery fierceness…

Their “genitals are like the genitals of donkeys, and their ejaculate like the ejaculate of horses” (Ezekiel 23:20).

The tender snowflakes of the time must have had a meltdown. Ezekiel, instead, is really cool. He’s surely the one who penned Genesis 2–3 (my thesis topic), also under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Just to say, donkeys and horses are just fine the way they are, and to be likened to a donkey-as-donkey in all donkeyness (I’m a donkey!) or a horse-as-horse in all horseness is a compliment, but being likened to this or that mere aspect of a donkey or horse is, of course, an insult, objectifying donkeys or horses by a mere aspect in this way. But sometimes, as the Holy Spirit teaches us, insults are sometimes necessary.

No, Pope Francis is not filled with κοπροφιλία and κοπροφαγία just because he rightly described some lying journalists and some of their readers in this way. He said what he needed to say, and in my opinion was right to use those words. Perhaps he should have used translations, but, never mind, some of them made the translations for him. Ah, the irony. But, again, journalists shouldn’t lust after scandal, and shouldn’t lie and exaggerate and be filled with bitterness and hatred. They shouldn’t. The Pope is right.

Perhaps I should call to mind the insults used by John the Baptist and by Jesus himself against the Pharisees and scribes and lawyers of the time, you know, all those references to white-washed-tombs and broods of vipers and such-like. Some of them plotted the death of Jesus, tender snowflakes that they were.

And, yes, I do intend to write about the context of Ezekiel’s exclamations and hopefully apply them in a useful manner to various so-called pastoral ambiguities. This post is simply about calling out those who exaggerate for who-knows-what motivation. It is important not to be lost in bitterness and hatred. It is important to address the topics without every giving way to bitterness and hatred. We must remain with Jesus. Otherwise, we might think that we ourselves apart from Jesus will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Ain’t gonna happen. Jesus himself, with those truly righteous because they are with him, will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Amen.

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Frances tells it like it is: I’m a donkey

frances

yiddish

Frances is one of my most favorite people in the world. She always tells it like it is, because that’s the way it is and there’s no other way to tell it. She’s the best. But then I interrupted her to say that she should teach me Polish, or better, Yiddish, not that she’s Jewish (but maybe she is). She knows my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother are Jewish. She ran and got this book for me. One of my spies tells me that she actually got it for me a long time ago, but, instead of giving it to me, read it herself first since it seems that it’s quite humorous. And then she had to tell me that I’m getting famous as a donkey-priest. A common friend just published this children’s book which features three priests, her Pastor, dressed in cassock, then the Vicar for Education for the Diocese, dressed in Cassock, and then me, not dressed in anything…

donkey1

Well, I’m dressed in a cross on my back. The donkey is named George in the book. Donkey’s are symbols of Israel as seen in literature of surrounding nations since time immemorial, way back into Old Testament times. Donkey’s give rides to the children of Israel, and specifically, in New Testament times, to Mary with baby Jesus, and then Jesus alone…

donkey2

Donkey’s are always with the Holy Family. Going to Bethlehem, at the Crib, down to Egypt and back, bringing Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to be crucified… Jesus is the first born – as Saint Paul puts it – of the children of Israel. G.K. Chesterton puts it well:

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

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Donkeys that don’t float downstream. Blast from the past: Fish that swim.

donkey floating

This floating donkey, seemingly with no hooves whatsoever, was seen in the pasture next to The Barn in Hanceville, Alabama. He’s not floating downstream, as it were, but purposely lets himself be drawn to the donkey whisperer (that would be me). A distantly analogous post on another long locked down blog comes to mind. Don’t be afraid. ///

fish dead floating downstream

Floating downstream isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. You end up in sedentary pools on the sides of the stream, clogged with other fish as effectively dead as yourself.

Mind you, it’s not that masses of people float downstream because there are no benefits. Political correctness brings it’s own perks. First off, don’t think that one doesn’t get used to floating downstream, or even to getting caught stuck in fetid eddies with fellow fish. For selfish motives, such as job advancement and popularity, the feeling of power one has with being “successful”, a “consensus builder”, one can get used to anything, and then, in fact, fool oneself into thinking that one is actually enjoying oneself. The power of it all!

I mean, just think, one only has to look at the few dead fish within one’s self-imposed, extremely limited horizon, those who are with you, floating, unmoving, pretending not to be the floatsum these have made of themselves, insisting that, if anything, in a victim mentality, they are simply jetsam, getting along like everyone else, cleverly doing what one has to do to get along as a victim in this fallen society of ours, pretending all the while not to be depressed and falling into despair, because, in all actuality, one might no longer be reclaimable again by way of confession, by way of bearing the fruits of repentance, but lost forever as derelict, beyond the mercy of God and God-inspired compassion of real men (all of which is never the case as long as we have breath: Dum spiro spero!).

I mean, just think, it’s not so bad, after a while, even if it’s a good while. Not only can we can get used to anything, we can even start to rejoice in the good points of one’s fellow rotting fish:

  • Their scales glint in the sun, a rainbow of colors. Such distraction!
  • Their stench is actually kind of sweet, complacency of lifestyle!
  • The antics of the little parasites crawling in and around them are fascinating to watch, a great passtime. I want some too!
  • There’s no stress, no change, no challenge to grow. I’ve arrived!

And besides, “Everyone floats downstream!” — which is the useless defense before the judgment of God concerning whether we go to heaven or hell, a defense made by someone who is falling into despair and calling out for help.

bear salmon

Swimming upstream is altogether different. One is swimming, sleek and agile, exercised, full of energy, in the middle of the stream, in clear, sky blue, sparkling waters. With deft, lightning movements, one navigates not just around the few dead fish one had been with, but around countless others, always more. Not a pretty sight, but one is instead enjoying enthusiastic freedom, darting in and out, here, then there, always in the clear waters of God’s grace, always in humble thanksgiving. In exhilaration, one leaps out of the water and into the sunshine, high into the air, taking in the view: Wow! Look at those mountains! How tall the trees are! Yikes! A Kodiak Bear! A monster! A demon! An agent of Satan! The bear, of course, eats whatever fish forget humble thanksgiving and trust in their own talents, conglatulating themselves for being good, putting others down as worthless, and so rejecting their own redemption by the Son of Man, the Son of God.

There are even more benefits, mind you, to swimming upstream with humble thanksgiving for God’s grace, not only avoiding the bears and avoiding dead fish (though giving them good example and wishing that they turn around), but also — and this is not selfish — but also rejoicing in the height and depth and breadth, the entire expanse of God’s intimate, joyful love for us. We come to know Him as THE FISH, in Greek, Ichtus, ιχθυς, the letters of which stand for Jesus Christ God’s Son Savior, with the last word being a translation of the first word.

fish ichtus jesus christ gods son savior

Traced out in the forest next to the hermitage. As mentioned in another post, a Baptist who grew up not far from the hermitage and is now Catholic did the same next to the hermitage the other day. He’s wanting to be a seminarian for the Diocese of Charlotte. Outreach to the local Baptists back in the days of the hermitage is bearing fruit. Thank you, Jesus.

In early centuries under Roman persecution of Catholics, the faithful would get to know each other safely by way of code… by way of tracing out a fish on the ground with a stick, ever so casually, and if the other did the same, ever so casually, one would know that one was safely in the company of a fellow Catholic.

Jesus, like Jonas, was in the belly of the whale, the earth, for three days and three nights, but then was spit out, that is resurrected from the dead. He suffered like a dead fish, but death had no grip on Him. Jesus is just that good, just that kind, to us, who have all been dead fish, floating downstream, but whom He has saved, to have us swim upstream, with Him, with agility of soul, rejoicing.

So, what does all that have to do with the seemingly floating donkey at the top of this post, the one willingly drawn to yours truly, the donkey whisperer? Well, it’s like this: Jesus is the soul whisperer, with His quiet voice, speaking into our souls, drawing us to Himself like a Star Trek tractor beam. That’s a matter of salvation and love, not at all of political correctness. We show all of our rottingness to Jesus in Confession, and then He makes all things new. And I’m very happy about that. Very happy indeed.

Also, just to say, and it always happens this way, and I already knew it would be the same this time as well… I knew that being in heaven on earth down in Hanceville at The Barn would be a God given respite, however short, for the times to come in the immediate foreseeable future. I knew I would be extremely busy, literally run off my feet, not getting back home most nights until the wee hours of the morning and having to get up hours before sunrise to start on the run again. I love begin available for my ailing parishioners. I admit I have not been all too available to write some comments about two books I’m supposed to read at the request of some, but I’m getting to that soon!

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Where can hot and bothered donkey priests go on retreat for free? :-)

donkey 1

When it’s scorchingly hot and yet drenchingly humid, even Palestinian donkeys can be hot and bothered, sweating by the bucket. Priests, much like donkeys (see The return of this Jackass for the Hour), can suffer from hot situations in their parishes and dioceses and religious orders. Unlike donkeys, priests can take advantage of a retreat center in the gentle hills of the lower Appalachian range in central Alabama. This donkey is on the grounds of the retreat center, aka, “The Barn.”

The Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration in Hanceville host priests for free in “The Barn.” The retreat center for priests is actually converted from a barn at which, I’m sure, this donkey had stayed as a young colt. His name is surely “Brother Ass” in honor of Saint Francis. Everything is there. You need merely call to see if there is a room available. Sometimes you’ll be the only one. Sometimes there are large groups. Don’t hesitate, my priest friends, to take advantage of this opportunity. It’s truly a pilgrimage spot.

Of course, you need not be in a hot situation to take a day of recollection or to make your canonical retreat here. My Vicar Forane and I came down for a day just to do it. The “just to do it” reason is always a good idea for us priests. Always. There’s never a time when it’s not a good idea. There are no retreat masters, but all your meals are provided. You needn’t worry about a thing. There’s an exquisite chapel in “The Barn,” and there’s the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Both awesome, both conducive to prayer. Confessions are, of course, available from the Friars who are chaplains to the Poor Clares.

Oh, and did I mention that one of those chaplains is a Missionary of Mercy? I mention that because many of the faculties granted for absolutions concern priests. Just do it.

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The return of this Jackass for the Hour

crucifix

This “Donkey”[!] is found crucified above the tabernacle (see: “Brother Ass” in “The Barn” Mon-Wed) of the absolutely gorgeous Turris Davidica chapel found inside “The Barn” where yours truly went for a day of recollection with “The Very”, the Vicar Forane of the Smokey Mountain Vicariate of the Diocese of Charlotte. Note the cross inside each of the golden stars of David.

There are, perhaps, nearly 100% of readers who will think that it is rude to refer to anyone as a donkey, and should this appellative be used for the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception that this would certainly be counted as blasphemy. But this is a badge of honor for Jesus, for He did that which is much more “blasphemous” for us, becoming “sin” for us, as Saint Paul says. Jesus was a Jew, and the Jews were always referred to by this symbol of humble hard work by the surrounding nations. Don’t forget that donkeys can sing and are intelligent, only doing what they understand (really smart, that), not at all stubborn like mules. Also recall that donkeys are everywhere with the Holy Family. Here are some pics from the massive bronze doors of the larger chapel (some hundreds of yards from “The Barn”):

donkey 4

donkey 2

Of course, a donkey also brought our Lord into the city of Jerusalem for His crucifixion…

Thanks to all those who said a prayer for yours truly these past few days. The day of recollection went very well. Priests can stay at “The Barn” for free. Only priests can stay at “The Barn.” Many priests from the Diocese of Charlotte take refuge in “The Barn” on a regular basis. It’s equidistant for me to Charlotte one way and “The Barn” the other way. Another priest, from Saint Anne’s, is there today for the feast of the translation of the relics of Saint Clare. O.K. Those are enough hints. Do you know where this is?

Anyway, the “return” mentioned in the title of this post doesn’t refer to me being back in the parish so much as an advance in the Chestertonian sense of the return of the fallen creature back to its Creator by way of the redemption. I mentioned to one of the wonderfully Catholic priests to be found in the environs of “The Barn” about Jackass for the Hour, saying that everything has changed so very much in the last few years that I doubt if I could even revise such an ecclesiastical thriller novel that goes to the black heart of and offers solutions for the Rebellion so ubiquitously and wrongly called the Reformation, and that the Scriptural commentary on the “Dog-Woman” that I wrote would hardly be able to be received by anyone anymore. I was, of course, gently but firmly reprimanded, being told not to be despondent. Donkeys are quite miserable if they are despondent, and that just won’t do at all. So, joy with the singing of a donkey, a braying which is also praying, on the march, as donkeys do.

And if there are still readers who don’t like it when priests are called guard-donkeys:

DONKEY FOX

And if there are still those who think that it is inappropriate for priests or anyone for that matter to be called any kind of donkey at all, I simply cite Saint Augustine in response:

“Asinus es sed Christum portas” (You are a jackass, but you carry Christ).

And if there are still those who hesitate, I offer this Orthodox kind-of-an-icon (slightly damaged through the years with window-sealer… sorry!) for their contemplation. Remember, that we carry Christ within us. We also carry each other. We belong to the Body of Christ, with Christ as the Head and we as the members, with His Most Sacred Heart inflaming ours with the fiery ardent love of the Holy Spirit to the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Saint Augustine donkey icon

And if there are still those who hesitate about the appropriateness of all this hopefully childlike joy and not childish idiocy, please feel free to call me the donkey-priest. I will simply laugh with appreciative enthusiasm. I still think I have too much fun.

Oh, and did I mention that Saint Francis called himself Brother Ass?

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