Tag Archives: Ecumenism

Orthodox Easter: Guns and Emmaus (scaring myself)

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Easter evening (for both East and West this year) was spent with some parishioners and a young Greek Orthodox couple. The Orthodox fellow (from Wisconsin but now in Georgia) is to be deployed any day now for a tour on the mountainous Iraqi-Syrian border. The father-in-law parishioner just retired out of law enforcement. They set up a half-dozen green post-it note targets some 23 meters out (the Mountain U.S. Army guy already speaking U.N.-speak).

We were practicing standing, using two hands, either hand singly, and then prone, with different pistols and an AR-15.

I did real well with the AR-15. That’s a totally new experience for me, moving from target to target quickly, with double hits on all but one with a single hit. They wanted me to then pepper the larger target as fast as I could go and I got most of them right on but that needs a bit of practice. No, I don’t own an AR-15!

I didn’t do so well with the single-handed pistol shooting. It’s good to get caught out in this way, so that you realize what you need to practice. The LEO also arranged a mag with a mix of spent cartridges so that I could see hidden problems, such as trying too hard. This works well. And I was trying too hard, as the gun popped an inch or so without a live bullet. It also forces you to work quickly to clear jams. The Army guy had a lot of good advice for the both of us. No matter how many years you’ve got in, more advice is always welcome.

Uh-oh: I scared myself a bit when I shot my own Glock 19 from a prone position. I’ve never tried to shoot laying down before. Aiming at a green post-it note with one AR-15 round through it from the Army guy, I quickly put four more rounds in a row through that one hit with my little pistol, so pretty much 10-X with all of them. I am reminded of this scene of the beginnings of recovery from amnesia:

But, no. I don’t think I’ve been suffering from amnesia. I mean, after all, I’m not great at one-handed whatever-hand shooting, good, but not great without practice (which I never really do in that way). So, therefore, no amnesia. I mean, I did do the 10-X multiple times in a row with one hand, if I remember, with a .45, last Autumn. But that had a smooth trigger pull, not like a Glock. No, no. No amnesia. Unless it’s like a mental block… ;¬)

Anyway: that was all after the breaking of bread together at the evening meal on a glorious Easter Sunday. The discussion at table was intensely religious as you might imagine with an American Greek-Orthodox soldier who has a Masters Degree in theological studies under his belt.

We spoke of the cultural differences (complementary) between East and West, the whole breathing with two lungs thing, the excommunications and the wiping out of the excommunications (leaving us with communion), the divine liturgy and the singing and being brought up into the Sacred Mysteries, Jesus fulfilling the prophesies in the Old Testament by being the acceptable sacrifice, His standing in our stead, having the right in His own justice to have mercy on us, our obligation in love to offer a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, the possibility of another major Ecumenical Council between East and West, and which theologians might be useful to this end…

You didn’t expect that, did you? If not, why not? You might offer a comment in the comments box… Pretend you’re sitting around the fire we had outside as night fell, all reminiscing. There was also some discussion of how it is that John the Baptist gave advice to soldiers about how to be the best of soldiers, and about the morality of self-defense on one’s own behalf or that of others: a positive contribution to the virtue of justice as opposed to the idiotic PTSD inducing lesser of two evils theory that would mean that no matter what you do you are always doing something evil (No!).

Is there a disconnect here? You know, between it being Easter Sunday evening and, you know, guns? No. And you have to know that the Army guy tested me on that, joking a little by wishing me a Happy Easter with all the target practice. Those who are on the front lines either here at home or overseas in some of the worst of the worst most violent hot-spots in the world have to know that we are in solidarity with our soldiers even as they are in solidarity with us. That’s an orthodox truth that the Orthodox appreciate.

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Filed under Ecumenism, Guns, Humor, Military, Missionaries of Mercy

IT’S APRIL 8 – A MOST GLORIOUS DAY

COUNCIL OF TRENT

HEY! It’s the 471st anniversary of Sacrosancta, the first decree of the fourth session of the most sacred and ecumenical Council of Trent in 1546. This is my most favorite of all magisterial interventions. Be awed by the syntax in Latin. Be awed by the breadth, the heights, the profundity, the glory emanating from this decree. Let yourself be wrapped up it’s reverence before the Most Holy Spirit. Let yourself be brought to your knees. Unfortunately, rebel Martin Luther, ex-Catholic priest, would die just months before this was published, though I have to think that he was kept up to date on the ruminations for the first drafts, not easy if one is in bad health.

First the Latin…

Sacrosancta oecumenica et generalis Tridentina synodus, in Spiritu sancto legitime congregata, praesidentibus in ea eisdem tribus apostolicae sedis legatis, hoc sibi perpetuo ante oculos proponens, ut sublatis erroribus puritas ipsa evangelii in ecclesia conservetur quod promissum ante per prophetas in scripturis sanctis dominus noster Iesus Christus Dei Filius proprio ore primum promulgavit, deinde per suos apostolos tamquam fontem omnis et salutaris veritatis et morum disciplinae omni creaturae praedicari iussit; perspiciensque, hanc veritatem et disciplinam contineri in libris scriptis et sine scripto traditionibus, quae ab ipsius Christi ore ab apostolis acceptae, aut ab ipsis apostolis Spiritu sancto dictante quasi per manus traditae ad nos usque pervenerunt orthodoxorum patrum exempla secuta, omnes libros tam veteris quam novi testamenti, cum utriusque unus Deus sit auctor, nec non traditiones ipsas, tum ad fidem, tum ad mores pertinentes, tamquam vel oretenus a Christo, vel a Spiritu sancto dictatas et continua successione in ecclesia catholica conservatas, pari pietatis affectu ac reverentia suscipit et veneratur. Sacrorum vero Librorum indicem huic decreto adscribendum censuit, ne cui dubitatio suboriri possit, quinam sint, qui ab ipsa Synodo suscipiuntur. Sunt vero infrascripti. Testamenti Veteris: Quinque Moysis, id est Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numeri, Deuteronomium; Iosue, Iudicum, Ruth, quattuor Regum, duo Paralipomenon, Esdrae primus et secundus, qui dicitur Nehemias, Tobias, Iudith, Esther, Iob, Psalterium Davidicum centum quinquaginta psalmorum, Parabolae, Ecclesiastes, Canticum Canticorum, Sapientia, Ecclesiasticus, Isaias, Ieremias cum Baruch, Ezechiel, Daniel, duodecim prophetae minores, id est: Osea, Ioel, Amos, Abdias, Ionas, Michaeas, Nahum, Habacuc, Sophonias, Aggaeus, Zacharias, Malachias; duo Maccabaeorum, primus et secundus. Testamenti Novi: Quattuor Evangelia, secundum Matthaeum, Marcum, Lucam, Ioannem; Actus Apostolorum a Luca Evangelista conscripti; quattuordecim epistulae Pauli Apostoli: ad Romanos, duae ad Corinthios, ad Galatas, ad Ephesios, ad Philippenses, ad Colossenses, duae ad Thessalonicenses, duae ad Timotheum, ad Titum, ad Philemonem, ad Hebraeos; Petri Apostoli duae; Ioannis Apostoli tres; Iacobi Apostoli una; Iudae Apostoli una et Apocalypsis Ioannis Apostoli. Si quis autem libros ipsos integros cum omnibus suis partibus, prout in ecclesia catholica legi consueverunt et in veteri vulgata latina editione habentur, pro sacris et canonicis non susceperit, et traditiones praedictas sciens et prudens contempserit: anathema sit.

Now my own slavish translation… NOT the usual translation!

The Most Sacred Ecumenical and General Tridentine Synod, convened legitimately in the Holy Spirit, with the three Legates of the Apostolic See presiding over it, is itself proposing for perpetuity in plain sight, so that, having cast down errors, the very purity of the Gospels may be conserved within the Church… [The purity itself of the Gospel…] which, before promised through the prophets in the holy Scriptures, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, first promulgated with His own mouth, and then commanded to be preached by His Apostles to every creature, as the fountain of all, both saving truth, and moral discipline; and seeing clearly that this truth and discipline are contained in the written books, and the unwritten Traditions which, received by the Apostles from the mouth of Christ himself, or from the Apostles themselves, the Holy Spirit dictating, have come down onto us, transmitted almost as if by hand… [The Synod] following the examples of the orthodox Fathers, receives and venerates with an equal affection of piety, and reverence, all the books both of the Old and of the New Testament — seeing that one God is the author of both — as also the said Traditions, as well those appertaining to faith as to morals, as having been dictated, either by Christ’s own word of mouth, or by the Holy Spirit, and preserved in the Catholic Church by a continuous succession. [At this point, the list of books is provided. See the Latin.] If anyone, however, will not receive as sacred and canonical these same integral books with all of their parts, as they have been accustomed to be read in the Catholic Church and as are had in the Old Latin Vulgate edition, and will hold in contempt the aforementioned Traditions knowingly and with considered judgment: let him be anathema.

Note “almost as if by hand” since this is all about the Holy Spirit!

This is THE Counter-Reformation assertion by the Sacred Magisterium of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church against the heretics who reduce revelation to theology and inspiration to feelings, the dark arrogance having them rewrite and remove things from the Sacred Scriptures so as to assert merely themselves. This decree is CATHOLIC!

On a personal note, I was ordained a deacon on this day in the Twelve Apostles Basilica in Rome. Also, this decree became the center piece of the beginnings of a doctoral thesis (the first chapter being 256 pages), the story of which needs to be told one day, reaching as it does into the very heart of the intrigue of ecclesiastical politics and stirring the pot so much that… well, I’ll leave that for another day. Just note that this decree is still THE engine driving any true ecumenical dialogue, that is, which brings unity in truth and charity those who sincerely follow Jesus.

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Filed under Ecumenism, Holy See, Interreligious dialogue, Jewish-Catholic dialogue, Spiritual life, Vulgate

We’ve finally arrived. Holy Redeemer Catholic Church is “Baptist”! Fr Byers?

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A story about the Knights of Columbus Fish Fry last Friday at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church here in Andrews, NC, ran in this week’s local newspaper, starting front page top of fold, going two pages. Nice article I must say. But the caption to picture is wonderful, claiming we’re Baptist. To me, that means that we’ve arrived as Catholics here in this heavily entrenched Baptist region. I take it as a compliment. And I’ve often heard that I preach like a Baptist minister. I take that as a compliment as well. So, O.K. Next stop is the Methodist Church on Good Friday for the Ecumenical Services. I’m the preacher. I’ll have to live up to my reputation as a Baptist Preacher as all the Baptist Preachers will be there. The pressure is on.

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Hey, Madeleine Albright. You are not a Muslim. You are a Catholic. Get with it.

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Dearest Madeleine,

I too was raised Catholic. I too only later found out my family was Jewish. I am still a Catholic priest who happens also to be Jewish. That’s not a contradiction. That you became Episcopalian by choice says a lot. When non-Catholic Christians make fun of themselves they say to each other: “Oh, you must be Episcopalian,” the idea being that anything goes with Episcopalians. Now, with your head still spinning, you say that you stand ready to register as Muslim in solidarity. What does that even mean? Are you ready to wear a rug? Are you ready to be raped and then honor-killed by the “pious men” who watched you being raped but did nothing except accuse you of not wearing a big enough rug? Are you ready to cut down Christians and Jews wherever they are? Are you? If it’s all hyperbole about your conversion to Islam, you know, so that you don’t really mean it, so that really you are mocking Islam about your conversion, well, I don’t think they will appreciate that. Sometimes political skills are not appreciated by those for whose benefit they are used. Be careful what you wish for. For their part, they might want Trump to make a scene so that they have an excuse for “extremism.” When you are ready to make your Catholic sacramental Confession, hunt me down; I’ll give you a light penance. Jesus loves you even during the time that you have reject Him. He wants you back to the fullness of truth and the fulfillment of the Jewish-Catholic faith. Don’t forget, salvation is of the Jews, and is now universal, that is, Catholic.

Father George David Byers (your Jewish-Catholic Priest)

P.S. Do you also say, “Je suis Charlie Hebdo”?

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Pope Francis’ silence during his visit to Auschwitz / Birkenau: Let’s talk Luther

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Pope Francis in the torture chamber where Saint Maximilian Kolbe # 16670 was first starved and then injected with carbolic acid.

It was a powerful statement, if you will, of Pope Francis just to go to Auschwitz / Birkenau, regardless of ditching his speech. He did have a moment of kindness with some survivors. That’s all good. But…

Perhaps readers remember this post I wrote six months ago, although it seems to me like I wrote it today, as my emotions are ever more raw about it: Update: Martin Luther: “We are at fault in not slaying the Jews.” The Holy See: “Let’s celebrate his life!” J’accuse!

The celebration of the Reformation and the very life of Hitleresque anti-Semite Martin Luther is coming up. Will that latter bit, at least, be ditched? Let’s hope. I like the silence bit all of a sudden. It would be grotesque in the extreme to go to Auschwitz-Birkenau and then turn around and celebrate the life of Martin Luther who wanted nothing more than to exterminate all the Jews or, failing that final solution, removing them in some other way.

Dearest Holy Father, just so you know:  Update: Martin Luther: “We are at fault in not slaying the Jews.” The Holy See: “Let’s celebrate his life!” J’accuse!

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Pope Francis, Genocide, Martyrdom and Queen Esther’s new Haman in Hitler

lightning vatican holy see st peterIn Armenia, Pope Francis was finally able to reconcile that martyrdom can be on such a grand scale numbers-wise that it fits that part of a proportional scale of devastation that is called genocide. Good for him. I mean, can we forget that the Jews were to be martyred on the level of genocide by Haman as recounted in the book of Esther? Can we forget that Hitler wanted to fulfill his weird obligations to Arianism by martyring all the Jews on the level of genocide?

We can be confident that Pope Francis will offer appropriate comments, hopefully scripted, and sticking to the script, when he visits the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau during a visit to Poland on July 29. We can only hope. However…

I hope that such a visit to such a site filled with such sorrow will not be used afterwards as a kind of permission to celebrate the most hate-filled anti-Semite in history hardly surpassed by either Haman of old or Hitler of more recent times, that is, Martin Luther. But this is what is planned, not only the “Reformation” but also the very person of Martin Luther, right?

So, I republish here again what I published in these pages previously. It is urgent:

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“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” mlkjr

Being Pope Francis’ Jewish Missionary of Mercy, and invited to speak with parrhesia by him, I think I am obliged to offer some comments about the push among some curial officials to celebrate the life of Martin Luther and the Reformation, the former being inextricably intertwined with the latter. Cardinal Koch has said some good things in the past, so this is an occasion of real dismay for me particularly, and for all men of good will.

Martin Luther defined himself and his Lutherans as those who are to be condemned if they would not murder Jews: “We are at fault in not slaying them” (Luther, Martin. On the Jews and Their Lies, cited in Michael, Robert. “Luther, Luther Scholars, and the Jews,” Encounter 46 (Autumn 1985) No. 4:343–344). Like so much else with Luther, this is reminiscent of Islam, the old spread by the sword your faith kind of thing. This is the Reformation in all of its pristine vigor. It is Martin Luther’s “insight,” his “spiritual experience,” his Promethean understanding of “righteousness” and “mercy.” The response both of Lutherans and the Holy See to all this is:

“The ecumenical journey enables Lutherans and Catholics to appreciate
together Martin Luther’s insight into and spiritual experience of the gospel
of the righteousness of God, which is also God’s mercy.”

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lutheran catholic commemoration of reformation

Of course, one might find this incredible. So, one finds it in the prayer text: Common Prayer – From Conflict to Communion: Lutheran–Catholic Common Commemoration of the Reformation in 2017. The text is “by the Liturgical Task Force of the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity.”

But, surely that’s cherry picking. Surely such anti-Semitism is rejected in toto elsewhere and without excuses being made. Lets take a look at the foundational document: From Conflict to Communion – Lutheran-Catholic Common Commemoration of the Reformation in 2017 – Report of the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity. This is by The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU), with Karlheinz Diez, Auxiliary Bishop of Fulda (on behalf of the Catholic co-chair), and Eero Huovinen, Bishop Emeritus of Helsinki (Lutheran co-chair).

229. On this occasion, Lutherans will also remember the vicious and degrading statements that Martin Luther made against the Jews. They are ashamed of them and deeply deplore them.

Really? I’m sure that cannot be correct. After a chapter break and a nice paragraph, the excuses for Martin Luther’s murderous behavior and statements against the Jews are effusive. But, let’s take a look at that nice paragraph in between just to make sure we don’t miss anything:

82 Chapter V – Prayer for unity – 230. Because Jesus Christ before his death prayed to the Father »that they may be one,« it is clear that a division of the body of Christ is opposed to the will of the Lord. It contradicts also the express apostolic admonition that we hear in Ephesians 4:3–6: be »eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.« The division of the body of Christ is opposed to the will of God.

martin luther the jews and their liesOf course, not being upfront about things about such division is opposed to the will of God, right? So, now, let’s see how such regret for Luther’s beastly raging against the Jews is simply dismissed, or perhaps, even praised if one would, you know, just kind of, like, understand the pressures of the times under which he was living, poor fellow and hero that he was. They are mean and cruel people, are they not, who would think that Martin Luther is responsible in some way for the Shoah, the Holocaust?

Evaluating the past – 231. When Catholics and Lutherans remember together the theological controversies and the events of the sixteenth century from this perspective, they must consider the circumstances of the sixteenth century. Lutherans and Catholics cannot be blamed for everything that transpired since some events in the sixteenth century were beyond their control. In the sixteenth century, theological convictions and power politics were frequently interwoven with one another. Many politicians often used genuine theological ideas to attain their ends, while many theologians promoted their theological judgments by political means. In this complex arena of numerous factors, it is difficult to ascribe responsibility for the effects of specific actions to individual persons and to name them as the guilty parties. [[My emphasis]]

jewish yellow star jude“Complex.” Sigh….. I apologize for using Martin Luther’s own rough language, but this is bullshit. Ideas have effects, and he meant every word of what he said, putting it into action (see also the list at the end of this article). This heap of excuses is dung with a blanket of glistening snow over it. That is the analogy which, in fact Martin Luther used for the ineffectiveness of Christ’s grace in sanctifying our souls, so that, for him, we remain a heap of dung with a blanket of snow over us. I reject this document’s list of excuses for Martin Luther’s dung heap of anti-Semitic views and actions as being simply ineffective for justifying and sanctifying Martin Luther’s murderous anti-Semitic views and actions. Do I say this just because I am a Jew? No. All men of good will are offended. It is an offense against Jesus. I will not celebrate Martin Luther or his damned Reformation. And, to use the irony which so many cannot understand, I nevertheless say: Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders. Gott helfe mir: I side with those who are on the darkest of existential peripheries; I side with mercy. What this crowd is doing with all their damned excuses is promoting genocide all over again against the same people. J’accuse! (worth the read; this is a well used phrase also today). After all, we are under pressure today too, so we have an excuse to murder all the Jews Hitler didn’t kill, right? That’s the logic. To hell with that logic. It’s an all too easy absolution of Martin Luther’s role in violent persecution of the Jews in his own day and ours: Hey! He was just a man of his times! It is a virtue to be a man of one’s times, right? Again, since we are all under pressure for whatever reason, we all have an easy excuse and even praise for continuing to slaughter the Jews, right?

If you want an ever so brief rundown of all this, see Martin Luther and Anti-Semitism and his book, On the Jews and Their Lies (published just three years before he died, his crowning achievement, as it were). Just so as to offer a taste for timid clickers, I include a bit taken from “Luther, Martin”, JewishEncyclopedia.com; cf. Luther’s Works, American Edition, 55 vols., (St. Louis and Philadelphia: Concordia Publishing House and Fortress Press, 1955–86) 47:267:

“What shall we Christians do with this rejected and condemned people, the Jews?”

  • “First, to set fire to their synagogues or schools … This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians …” [[Did you get that?]]
  • “Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed.” [[Did you get that?]]
  • “Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing, and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them.” [[Did you get that?]]
  • “Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb …” [[Did you get that?]]
  • “Fifth, I advise that safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. For they have no business in the countryside …” [[Did you get that?]]
  • “Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them …” [[Did you get that? Sounds like Kristallnacht.]]
  • “Seventh, I recommend putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hands of young, strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow … But if we are afraid that they might harm us or our wives, children, servants, cattle, etc., … then let us emulate the common sense of other nations such as France, Spain, Bohemia, etc., … then eject them forever from the country …” [[Did you get that?]]
auschwitz train rails

“We are at fault in not slaying them” – Martin Luther on the Jews

If publishing such things means I cannot be a Missionary of Mercy, then so be it. But I trust that Pope Francis meant what he said when going way out of his way to invite me to speak with parrhesia. This ever so nice kind of celebration of Martin Luther and his Reformation is precisely how genocides are brought about. It has to stop, and it has to stop now. Do we so easily forget the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception? Do not fool yourselves with all your self-congratulatory “consensus building”. The Word Incarnate will judge the living and the dead and the world by fire.

“God loved the world so much that he gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”

You would think, these days, that people want to rewrite that:

God did not love the world at all, and did not give us His only Son, since He didn’t want anyone to believe in Him, but wanted them to perish and go to hell.

That’s not what I want. You don’t have me in your nice consensus. And don’t think for a second that all this was some momentary rampage for a young and impetuous Luther. No, no. He only progressed throughout his life in his livid hatred of the Jews until at the end of his life he was like an incarnate satan for the Jews. But, hey, that’s someone to celebrate, right? No, not at all. Let me quote, if I might, a German Lutheran pastor.

dietrich bonhoeffer

And I add, to celebrate those who are intent on genocide is to promote genocide.

I hope that something more is said about Luther’s Antisemitism than perhaps his methods were not entirely correct. And if anyone thinks that that statement could not possibly refer to more than Luther’s ideas on justification, blah, blah, blah, you are wrong. Wanting to kill to the Jews was all consuming for Luther. For him, one’s very salvation depended on murderous hatred of the Jews.

Murderous hatred of the Jews is, for Luther, a kind of principle of justification.

And so, I ask, again, it THAT what we are celebrating? Again: not me. Count me out. To hell with that. Amen.

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Pope Francis and Luther: “Justification”

POPE FRANCIS FATHER BYERS MOCKED

This picture with its caption was created and published by a traditional-ism-ist website which was upset with me for offering some theological pointers to Pope Francis instead of just being sede-vacantist. No, I say! Pope Francis is Pope. But he might need some pointers now and again. Anyway, the one who took the original picture of me was upset with the sun shining off the vestments, as this might give the wrong impression to people! I agree.

Disclaimer: My grandma on my father’s side was Lutheran. A best friend in high school was Lutheran. My dad’s law partner was Lutheran and I was a good friend of his. I enjoy the work of many Lutheran textual critical scholars working away on biblical manuscripts. Anyway, I’m Jewish because of my mom, grandma and great grandma were all Jewish. For the Knesset, the line goes through the mother. Martin Luther himself was genocidally maniacal about killing Jews. But I’m a Catholic priest, Pope Francis’ own Jewish Missionary of Mercy. That’s my disclaimer for the following comments about justification.

Occasion: Pope Francis asserted some overly optimistic comments about the state of agreement or lack thereof concerning justification during the presser on the plane returning from Armenia.

Allow me to make some quick points about Martin Luther:

  • Faith for Luther is his own theological understanding in his physical brain, not the infused theological virtue of faith, which comes with hope and charity, all of which alone justifies. Because of this, he could set himself up as the one who is inspired to know which books belong in the bible, or not, throwing out seven from the Old Testament and heaps more from the New Testament, also rewriting passages he didn’t care for.
  • Luther is the ultimate Promethean Pelagian, decapitating Christ in the process of his self-congratulations for all of his good works. For Saint Paul, the act of charity is one only for both the Head of the Body of Christ and the members of the Body of Christ, for one loves the entire Person of Christ, not decapitating Him to just love the Head or, kicking that away, only the members of the Body. For Luther, rewriting the letter of the Romans, it is all about loving the Head of the Body first and, later, after justification, choosing appropriately to go ahead and love the members of the Body of Christ as well, you know, so as to prove to yourself that you’re saved. This proof rubbish (Are you saved?) developed into such fear for one’s salvation, throwing one into such a frenzy of good works, that theories about being saved regardless of continuing in grave sin won the day until today throughout so many Protestant and Baptist et alii communities. Sad. This leads to despair, to saying sin is not really sin, to the pastoral accompaniment of sin. Right?

As always with such posts as this, I cannot help being a bit ironic about adherence to the teaching of the Jews, Jesus and Paul, by saying Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders. Gott helfe mir. But, does anyone have any sense of mirth, of humor, any inkling that making such points can be done with joyful charity? Many, I hope! And, just to say it as a kind of trademark:

Pope Francis, we love you to pieces!

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Fr George: WNC Baptist snake handler

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How shameful! Father George is in a short-sleeved clergy tactical work shirt with the collar open doing a bit of R and R! And he’s, he’s, he’s a man of ecumenism, practicing up to be a Western North Carolina Baptist Minister Snake Handler! Surely he’s a snake in the grass! Whatever you want to call him (Eastern Racer, Bull Snake, Rat Snake, Black Snake, Snake in the Grass, Satan…), this is the friendliest kind of serpent in the world. Oh, I’m talking about the snake, not me! Or do I protest too much? Anyway, these guys are happy to laze around in the sun right in front of you, keeping a watchful eye for varmints.

It was a local one-time Baptist minister friend who was happy to see me practicing up. He’s the one who brought the snake over to a parishioner’s house as there was a developing problem of rats eating the dog food, a serious concern since she raises the best cadaver, drug, bomb, protection, accompaniment, PTSD, and especially bite-dogs in North America. Everyone was scared of the snake, only because they think such snakes bite. They don’t. But her bite-dogs do bite. One of them broke her training “arm” with one bite. She said she saw one bite-dog break both forearm bones and rip off the forearm of someone in one bite. Serious dogs. I’m making friends with the one that law enforcement is especially afraid of. So far, he sits down for me upon request, but at this point that only means that he’s happy to make a meal of me while sitting down. Yikes!

In these days of great confusion in both the Church and the world, I think we need to remember a sense of humor amidst all the darkness, and be able to bring joy to those around us. We are all Missionaries of Mercy when we do this, as this brings people hope. Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said that making people who suffer laugh was a great act of mercy. When we suffer we tend to drag all the hurt of the past into the present, and then project all that into the future dragging that, then, back into the present as well, making for unbearable suffering. But when, in the present moment, one is brought into innocent laughter, all of this mind-game with time of past and future is shattered, giving one hope for the future regardless of the past because of present goodness. Our greatest fears are brought under control with the love that Jesus Himself provides to us, His littlest children.

Update: sent in by a reader with the request of making a parallel video for priestly vocations:

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CRITICA TEXTUS & Dotty the 1987 Toyota “Pope Francis” back-mountain pickup goes to town

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Today’s another one of those medical forays into medical practice for one of my parishioners, whom I’ve brought to one of the nearest actual hospitals, about two hours 45 minutes away, way across state lines, where people are practicing to practice medicine.

“Eee-haaaaaaah!!! Lookie here Erlanger in Chattanooga, Ténnessee: it’s country come to town!”

Dotty has been “to town” on some other rare occasions such as the Chrism Mass six hours from the parish, at least on the return trip it’s six hours during rush hour.

Anyway, my view for awhile in bat perspective, that is, hanging around in the waiting room:

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This is an all day affair. Didn’t get to bed until 12:30am. Woke up at 3:25am. We’ll get back about midnight. Offered Holy Mass early on. Breviary is on the phone app. This post goes up with the phone as well. A priest is coming down from Knoxville and we’re going to have some lunch and ferocious spiritual discussions.

Meanwhile, over in the comments box of 03 The Father Byers Kryptos, a third extended comment came in from Christopher, who is very much trying to get a hold of the treasure map thing. I have a great deal of respect for that, but the third comment has gotten into rabbit holes, some helpful, some not. I have not published it.

Regarding the unhelpful bit, I ask that everyone read page 125 of The Reliques of Father Prout. I’m sure Christopher will have had this at hand as a favorite childhood book. Perhaps the 1860 edition published in London would do just fine. Those across the pond do sometimes exhibit a bit of culture and wit in such a way as to make even us Americans marvel. Look for the description of prout as an adverb. ;-)

Regarding the helpful bit, in the via negativa that is, I noticed a rather distressing and now more explicit and unfortunately I must say typical misunderstanding of Sacred Tradition and the Traditiones. That deserves its own post. Not getting that will not let one see the truth. Stay tuned. But read Father Prout!

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (ecumenical edition)

flores1This little flower is in pretty sad shape. Not good enough for the Immaculate Conception. What to do? I remember that the stories about Saint Francis put together by Saint Bonaventure were called the Little Flowers, right? So, I have a short story, an analogy if you will, about ecumenism. One of our local Baptist churches put up a message which acts as a bit of ecumenical reprimand if we take it that way. I mean, we could apply this to say, some aspects of the Synod on the Family, could we not?

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Update: Martin Luther: “We are at fault in not slaying the Jews.” The Holy See: “Let’s celebrate his life!” J’accuse!

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“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” mlkjr

Being Pope Francis’ Jewish Missionary of Mercy, and invited to speak with parrhesia by him, I think I am obliged to offer some comments about the push among some curial officials to celebrate the life of Martin Luther and the Reformation, the former being inextricably intertwined with the latter. Cardinal Koch has said some good things in the past, so this is an occasion of real dismay for me particularly, and for all men of good will.

Martin Luther defined himself and his Lutherans as those who are to be condemned if they would not murder Jews: “We are at fault in not slaying them” (Luther, Martin. On the Jews and Their Lies, cited in Michael, Robert. “Luther, Luther Scholars, and the Jews,” Encounter 46 (Autumn 1985) No. 4:343–344). Like so much else with Luther, this is reminiscent of Islam, the old spread by the sword your faith kind of thing. This is the Reformation in all of its pristine vigor. It is Martin Luther’s “insight,” his “spiritual experience,” his Promethian understanding of “righteousness” and “mercy.” The response both of Lutherans and the Holy See to all this is: Continue reading

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Filed under Ecumenism, Jewish-Catholic dialogue, Pope Francis