Tag Archives: Father Byers Autobiography

Update: DHS / Main State P-M Affairs: “Who are you anyway ‘Father Byers’?!”

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Well, well. That’s interesting. The post going by the above title was scrubbed from the blog. Maybe it’s just a computer glitch. Anyway, my “I-9” went through without further questions. So, whatever. It simply doesn’t matter. I now continue with other aspects of tax withholding, setting up direct deposits, etc…

I had one other experience like this. My “Shadow” and I were texting back and forth for the first time ever not all that long ago. Then his phone was stolen. That texting “conversation” was shown to the police by the thief (perhaps she said she “found it”) as it looked – how to say it? – suspicious. It contained the name and number of a guy in Main State’s Political-Military Affairs, a guy with a six billion dollar budget who coordinates between the Pentagon and various… um… groups, and who dreams up and runs drug and gun and security related programs in various countries (and whose successor is now an Obama appointee, an Ambassador now with no direct superior perhaps for the rest of the Trump presidency…). That’s one less level between the President and some… um… programs… It was a predecessor directing this office who had written me a two page official letter already decades ago. Anyway, the police called my “Shadow” to come pick up his phone. He told me it was totally scrubbed and unusable. But, he was not detained or questioned. You gotta love that.

But now there is another developing problem, scrubbed phone or not, since my “Shadow”, seemingly following up on that texting, began sending me instantaneously traceable money-orders, each for $100. I just now got the fourth one.

  • On the one hand: Is he doing reparation for having become my “Shadow” way back in the day (that’s not the kind of reparation I want at all)? Or is he helping out a priest whom he considers to be poor (though I’m not in dire straits at all)? Either of those would, I guess, be well-intentioned. And I very much appreciate that. Very thoughtful. Very kind.
  • On the other hand: Perhaps someone might form an opinion that this is a result of blackmail or extortion against him on my part. That’s simply not the case either. As I get to know him better, I wish him the best. And I would anyway. After all, he’s my “Shadow.” And anyway, I always report this kind of “personal gift” on the blog, for-the-record, as is my practice. But he also knows that. Back to number one?
  • But it would also be good for him to stop this money-order thing, as it could also look like bribery on his part, kind of a reverse blackmail/extortion, so that, in receiving said monies, I had better keep my mouth shut, or else, from any number of directions. The question to a growing number of people would then be, about what is he so concerned? So, I suggest to my “Shadow” that the money-order thing just stops in the best interests of everyone however good and excellent and totally innocent the intentions have been in providing these monies.

Anyway, he knows what I want, and it’s not from him, it’s from P.-M. of Main State. I still want that. It would put a kind of double reverse on civil effects of big drug-money concerns as I entrench myself in cleaning up some of that bit of evil in this region.

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My own little celebrations

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  • 25 years a priest on 4 January.
  • Birthday sometime in February.
  • Incardination into the Diocese on 11 February.

Those 25 years in the priesthood were amazing years, lots of joy, lots of suffering, lots of learning about our Lord’s priesthood and His mercy. Things change. For instance, the examination of conscience goes from “What did I do?” to “Is that the way I would be if I were to be in heaven right now before Jesus and Mary and all the angels and saints?” thus going from an act of imperfect contrition (fear the loss of heaven and the pains of hell) to an act of perfect contrition (sorry because of hurting God’s love for us).

Perhaps a word needs to be said about incardination. This was the fourth personal favor Pope Francis has done for me. He had to personally sign off on this move to the Diocese. My request was entirely positive, saying that outside of my novitiate year, I’ve instead always been with my diocesan brothers, in the seminary, in parish assignments, in further studies, on missions to foreign lands, living in their rectories, eating with them, recreating with them, going on retreat with them, giving retreats to them, teaching them in seminaries and conferences, on and on. All positive. Just putting legal terminology on what was always the situation. I am quite happy with this. It is our Lord Jesus’ providence for me. I have no regrets.

A great joy which I have mentioned previously it that the Bishop himself brought up on February 11 that the popular version of my thesis stands in need of writing and publishing.

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Father Byers, are you gay?

damian-of-molokai

Even though I was wearing my Roman collar, I knew it was going to happen. I could not but be hit on in the waiting room of the Infectious Disease Unit of Memorial Hospital (South of Exit 50).

I was surely looking very much alone. “Soooo, what are you here for?” asked one very flirtatious gentleman. Imagine, picking someone up in an Infectious Disease Unit! Pretty much everyone there was looking druggie or gay. Sorry. I could be wrong. But appearances are what they are.

I could have avoided that by staying in the car for an hour. I could have avoided the scandal of a priest going in to the Infectious Disease Unit, because, you know, people who go in there are surely shooting up drugs with just-used-needles or are having lots of illicit sex or are otherwise just yucky people, right?

But, no, Father Byers was determined to accompany the underdog, to know the smell of the sheep, to share the stigma of going into such a place where people charitably receive treatment for their ailments. I was accompanying someone who had an infectious disease, as is my practice, it being that the elderly poor in my parish who are without family and without transportation cannot otherwise go to such far flung appointments hours away.

The gentleman, meanwhile, was then distracted back at the receptionist’s window, but then came right back to me, offering me lunch, seeing that I had been there for quite some time. I refused that and he went back to the receptionist.

But then he came back again asking if I were here with my “brother”, you know, my presumed gay sex partner (the brother thing taking drugs out of consideration). By that time, the person who I was taking there appeared at the receptionist and I simply pointed to her, an elderly woman suffering the effects of her having caught something decades ago with the special ed special cases children she taught. They were always getting scrapes and cuts and, because they had their own medical problems, the teachers were supposed to wear gloves while teaching. It’s easy to catch something because sooner or later you’ll have a scrape or cut as well. Blood is blood.

The gentleman said, “Oh.” And then he left.

Should Father Byers have been prudent and not gone in to the Infectious Disease Unit for God and the whole world to see? I wonder if Jesus asked that question when coming into this world, wondering if it was imprudent to walk among those He knew would torture Him to death.

Anyway, it is also easy to be proud of being with the underdog. Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner.

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Update: Father Byers’ run for political office?

just me 02Inspiration: My dad was commander of the famed USMC Fighter Attack Checkerboard squadron (flying the gull-wing Corsairs from 1943-1953), became whatever the jarhead equivalent of a JAG is by being put through Georgetown lawschool even while being the back-in-the-day equivalent of what is now called a Top Gun instructor at what is now Andrews (Air Force) Joint Command just South of the District of Columbia. He became the most powerful attorney in Central Minnesota, did some lobbying stints at the legislature, knew all the big name politicians, became Mayor of our town of @50,000, and had his sights on more encompassing offices in D.C. Meanwhile, he became father of my brother and myself, which I’m guessing distracted him quite a bit.

I asked him once why he wanted to be an attorney and a politician, and he said without hesitation (surprised at the question, stunned really), with all of his idealism shining out: “Because that’s my vocation, to help people. I want to help people. This is how I help people.” And, yes, he did quite a lot of pro-bono work, having deep respect, to the core, for salt-of-the-earth Americans who just want to do the right thing.

He very much wanted me to follow in his steps. We discussed that many times as he drove me to school on his way to work. My response was, of course, about the priesthood, and I would cite his own words back to him, and then wax poetic: “Because that’s my vocation, to help people. I want to help people. This is how I’m to help people……” He was wanting to start me off as a high school Page in the legislature. I can’t imagine what would have happened had I gone that direction.

Priests in politics are generally a catastrophe. Just recall a few: Jean-Bertrand Aristide (Haiti), Robert Drinan (USA), Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann (Nicaragua / Libya) along with both Ernesto and Fernando Cardinal (Nicaragua). They were president, in congress, worked as foreign minister or ministers of the interior and of culture, etc. D’Escoto was a particular problem for me personally when I was in Nicaragua back in the Reagan years.

As for me, there is presently a push for me to be elected as Alderman of Andrews with its 1,700 population. O.K., nothing like those other priests on so very many levels! Ha ha ha! And don’t forget, I was one of the best students ever of Father of Liberation Theology, Gustavo Gutiérrez (now O.P.). Honestly!

But, seriously, there are far reaching, deep problems here in Andrews which are suffocating (purposely?) the town literally right out of existence, and sometimes a quiet voice interested in law and order and jobs and getting stuff for kids to do instead of drugs and wanting infrastructure for basic utilities like water and services like proper local law enforcement and fire-fighting can be helpful. And sometimes a foreigner (I wasn’t born here) can in fact be helpful as he is not beholden to feuding and the good ol’ boys’ club that might well protect, fiercely, the drug world and all sorts of corruption. Seriously.

But, what does the Code of Canon Law say?

Can. 285 §1. Clerics are to refrain completely from all those things which are unbecoming to their state, according to the prescripts of particular law. [For instance, being a dealer for blackjack at the local casino.]

§2. Clerics are to avoid those things which, although not unbecoming, are nevertheless foreign to the clerical state. [An arguable point, as some political offices are rendered out of service, or that’s at least a possibility, right?]

§3. Clerics are forbidden to assume public offices [This is pretty absolute, but there is some backtracking about the scope:] which entail a participation in the exercise of civil power. [And this is a question for an alderman whose job descriptions in various municipalities or districts thereof are as different as one grain of sand is from another. Is an alderman specifically of Andrews, who, unlike other civilians, has a vote at town meetings, and who is representing the best interests of residents… is he per se EXERCISING civil power by a vote that is quite removed from the actual execution of a resolution, the who, what, why, where, when and how, which is instead brought to bear not at all by aldermen, but by the Mayor, by the City Manager, etc.? In other words, is there not a distinction between public office and the “participation in the exercise of civil power”? Otherwise, why bother, in the law itself, with adding a clause which does in fact make a distinction between public office and “participation in the exercise of civil power” unless there is such a distinction recognized by the legislator. Diversely, all public office by its nature is a participation in the exercise of civil power on some level, or that public office would not exist in the first place. There is a distinction, then, about the immediacy of the impact of the public office on any exercise of civil power, so that a more remote action, such as a vote, is permissible and even perhaps becoming of the clerical state depending on the service involved for the common good, while a more immediate practical day to day application is what is forbidden by this sub-paragraph.]

§4. Without the permission of their ordinary, they are not to take on the management of goods belonging to lay persons or secular offices which entail an obligation of rendering accounts. [But permission is in fact a possibility so possible that it is placed in the law itself.] They are prohibited from giving surety even with their own goods without consultation with their proper ordinary. They also are to refrain from signing promissory notes, namely, those through which they assume an obligation to make payment on demand.

By the way, just to say, for those who don’t know what an example of the Good Ol’ Boys club might be, here is an example: a statute that prohibits residents from running for office or getting a job with law enforcement if they are not “lifers”, that is, born here. Imagine the law suits on that one! And the results! “We do things our own way ’round here!” Etc.

I don’t need a membership to validate
The hard work I put in and the dues I paid
Never been to good at just goin’ along
I guess I’ve always kind of been for the underdog

Favors for friends will get you in and get you far
Shouldn’t be about who it is you know
But about how good you are

Don’t wanna be a part of the good ol’ boys club
Cigars and handshakes, appreciate you but no thanks
Another gear in a big machine don’t sound like fun to me
Don’t wanna be a part of the good ol’ boys club

There’s a million ways to dream and that’s just fine
Oh but I ain’t losin’ any sleep at night
And if I end up goin’ down in flames
Well at least I know I did it my own way, hey

Don’t wanna be a part of the good ol’ boys club
Cigars and handshakes, appreciate you but no thanks
Another gear in a big machine don’t sound like fun to me
Don’t wanna be a part of the good ol’ boys club

Favors for friends will get you in and get you far
But when did it become about who you know
And not about how good you are?

Don’t wanna be a part of the good ol’ boys club
Cigars and handshakes, appreciate you but no thanks
Another gear in a big machine don’t sound like fun to me
Don’t wanna be a part of the good ol’ boys club
I don’t wanna be a part of your good ol’ boys club

Just to say, being an Alderman for this tiny town hardly takes away from my priestly duties. In fact, I think it facilitates some of my objectives which I share with our police chief regarding community leaders finding ways to get us out of the quagmire we are in.

Any canon lawyer out there who is willing to take a stab at this? Be nice! I know I’m ignorant and that’s why I’m asking for help. Isn’t that a good thing that I’m wanting to follow the codified summary of the pastoral wisdom of the Church distilled from millennia worth of countless events? Whatever you think are my motives, don’t think I’m wanting to run for public office or not. That’s actually not my point. I’m wanting to know this for a multitude of reasons, and this is just one more thing that finally pushed me into investigating this aspect of the Church’s jurisprudence. Can you help?

UPDATE: O.K. So, that would be a NO! vote from one of the best canon lawyers in this dark world of ours. Absolutely not, he said. He even went so far as to say that being an Alderman for this itsy bitsy village would be an impediment to Holy Orders if I wasn’t already ordained. I’m slowly backing away away from the situation and then turning and running so fast I’m outrunning gamma rays. Having said all that, it’s nice to know you’re wanted. There was a bit of a powwow last night at a brewery with some of the local best of the best good guys representing all the first responders and even the office of the […edited…] doing their best to convince me to go ahead and see if this would be possible.

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (Thank you ever so very much, Immaculate Conception! edition)

shepherd boy

My spirit is as light as a fluffy dandelion being given to Jesus for the Immaculate Conception. Our Lady has granted me this very day a great favor, two, in fact. I feel like a little kid before her, my spirit rejoicing. I’m bursting with joy, smiling from ear to ear.

byers dance paul vi audience hallMentioned in the conversation with the Bishop, who called me up, and with the Bishop bringing up the topic, was my thesis on the Immaculate Conception and my need to make a popular version of it. This is a sign, I believe from our Lady, that NOW’s the time! This will be the little flower I give to her through Jesus, if this is made possible by the providence of her Divine Son. I again dance with joy. Do I ever stop?

But that was just one thing. The other is… well… what a gift! I’ll write about that as time goes on. I’m speechless. I too, must be loved by the Immaculate Conception, and by her Divine Son. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Mary.

Dance dance dance dance dance…

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Most Holy Father: Thank you!

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In a communiqué from the Holy See delivered to the parish today I discover the good news that Pope Francis has personally granted a personal request to this Missionary of Mercy. I am grateful. Thanks, Holy Father! These exchanges are now adding up. For my part, I have never promised anything to the Bishop of Rome. For his part, he has never asked anything of me whatsoever. As it should be. Perhaps he realizes fully that I am a mere donkey of a priest and takes pity on me. I’m happy with that.

GEORGE DAVID BYERS - COAT OF ARMS - revisionIn fact, I think it is now high time that I finally come up with some words to add below the coat of arms which the talented elizdelphi so artistically rendered for me. I once again open this up to suggestions and, while I do, I apologize for breaking the rules of heraldry. It’s all part and parcel of someone who has crucified the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception with my sin, but nevertheless someone upon whom the Lord has deigned to show his mercy. The words should be short and incisive. Go ahead and suggest in English. I’ll translate them into whatever language best suits that message, whether Greek, Hebrew or Latin.

 

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Sunrise, Sunset: Anniversaries

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Just 45 years ago at 11 years old.

First major anniversaries:

  • First vows were on 25 March 1989, the Solemnity of the Annunciation, which that year was the Easter Vigil. Perpetual vows were on 25 December 1991, the Solemnity of the Birth of Jesus. That was 25 years ago.
  • Priestly ordination was on 4 January, 1992, the feast day of the first native born American citizen to be canonized a saint, Elizabeth Ann Seton. That will be 25 years ago this coming Wednesday.

Those with more than twice that wonder why I even mention this. Anyway, other than those anniversaries, it’s been…

  • 40 years ago last 12 July at night that I carried the Fatima statue of Mary at the candle-light procession at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal as a Fatima “Cadet.”
  • 40 years ago (more or less) when my shadow stole my identity (all my ducks, that is docs, being conveniently in a row for having gotten the passport to go to Fatima).
  • 20 years ago when the State Department offered me a false identity without me asking for it. (But if anyone wants to know: I AM DAVID).
  • 10 years ago this coming Spring since I’ve defended the thesis on Genesis 2:4–3:24. Instead of David, a wise old religious brother in Italy took one look at me and exclaimed for all the world to hear that I AM EZEKIEL (who wrote Genesis 2:4–3:24).

Meanwhile, time marches on:

And should anyone erroneously think that that’s an inappropriate video for a Jewish Catholic priest to play on his 25th anniversary of priestly ordination, know that a priest is married to the Church by the Sacrifice of the Mass he offers in Persona Christi. Jesus recited his wedding vows at the great wedding banquet of the Last Supper united with Calvary: This is my body given you you in sacrifice, my blood poured out for you in sacrifice… Total self giving, making us the members of his body as Saint Paul says.

It’s enough to make one want to dance (my dad being a “Jarhead” of course):

Good marriages are worthy of a good dance. You know what I’m thinking of. Having some good fun with some of the other priests brought me plenty of condemnation. But that’s O.K. I Am David. I can take it. :-)

byers dance paul vi audience hall

Greetings to friends in המוסד. I hope to make it to the other side of 2017 alive and well. I hope you do too. There are other big anniversaries coming up in 2017 and 2018. Please, be careful June 5-10 of 2017. I fear for you.

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TEOTWAIKI – Holy Souls Hermitage – Closing of another chapter in my life

holy souls hermitage ad orientem 1

It’s late in the evening of 31 August 2016. I just got a phone call saying that the property on which Holy Souls Hermitage was built is now being sold with a rather extreme urgency. That means I have to move definitively everything out of the hermitage and then that’s it.

I confess that I am weak, and very much tend to nostalgia. I think of the purposely oriented to the East ad orientem chapel of the hermitage. Our Lord is good and kind in all seasons, as are the angels and saints. I have so many memories of Spring and Summer and Autumn and Winter…

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holy souls hermitage ad orientem 3

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I think of the baldacchino lovingly painted by a search and rescue family out East…

Holy Spirit Saint Peter Window

So many good memories… But no time for memories… I’ll have to move quickly…

TEOTWAIKI feeling I got was fierce and immediate, as if the entire world is right now passing away, and, of course, it is. To be attached to this world is vanity, vacuous, villainous. So, no. If the hermitage was anything at all it was about our Lord and His blessed Mother. I had set out to write something about our Blessed Mother and I was successful in writing some few but important pages about Genesis 3:15 and the Immaculate Conception. I think I might have given her a few flowers at that time as well:

flores hsh

I think of the umpteen times I had defied death while building the hermitage (some heart stopping moments), while curing wounds of some 25 serious brown recluse bites (I recommend the Sawyer’s Extractor for however many times for however many weeks it takes), while being around bears and panthers and wolves, while suffering time and again from serious smoke inhalation deathly far from any hospital, when the draw of the fire was no good what with the shell of the hermitage not yet complete, and me then, woken up by my guardian angel, and then sitting outside, freezing and wet and choking for hours, and loving all of it through the tears and not wanting to change anything for anything if only my guardian angel would be with me. I think of many benefactors for whom I still pray. I think of the gymnastics I accomplished doing somersaults down cliffs with a running chainsaw in trying to get wood for winter, or in flipping into a dumpster at the soup kitchen in town for some treasure to eat, I having slyly manuevered myself into being in charge of the dumpsters.

DUMPSTER DIVING

The good ol’ days! I will miss them, truly. It was all a great experience for me. I think I’m better for it all. But I think I need to stop thinking with such nostalgia. It’s time to clean up and definitively move on to the next chapter of my life. I’ve kind of been hanging on to the hermitage as much as I could. But this is it.

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“Brother Ass” in “The Barn” Mon-Wed

alexamenos

Since I am not yet today a crucified donkey (Jesus mocked in an early Roman graffito above), I may as well be like little martyr Alexamenos (thank you, little one), just another Brother Ass (thank you, Saint Francis) in “The Barn” (thank you, Saint Clare). I do not yet know that of which I speak, as I have never been to “The Barn,” though many of my fellow priests, including “The Very” know well such a heaven on earth in the midst of the ferocity of the Franciscan seraphic fire. These next three days will mark, I think, a major turning point in my life. And if that be not uncryptic enough, I recall for you another time when I was rather on edge with the concerns of Holy Mother Church while writing my thesis:

jackass for the hour

While I wrote those 750 pages of an ecclesiastical thriller novel under a pen name, I soon enough divulged my real identity, thinking this better for me and the message. And yes, that is the image of a donkey painted by an autistic boy specifically for this opus.

Anyway… I would be much obliged if you were to say a Hail Mary for me each day for the next three days, Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday, that some bit of clarity regarding the one thing necessary might come my way.

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Killing priests: where’s Father George?

don claudio toniniFirst anecdote: don Claudio Tonini

Pictured here is don Claudio Tonini (a saint if you ask me), who was brutally beaten by his assistant priest in December of 1992. I used to have all sorts of pictures of him. This one is up on the internet. In the bigger picture, I think I’m the one sitting next to him on his right. He finally died about 12 weeks later in March of 1993 from the battering he had received, dying as pastor of the parish. I had only been ordained for less than a year when I took over his parish in the Sacred Heart of “La Piccola Russia”, “The Little Russia,” as the heavily Marxist town of Piombino, Italy, north of Rome, was nicknamed (and for good reason). He had been a missionary up and down the Italian peninsula in his younger days and then pastor of this church since forever. He was always in demand as a preacher of parish missions, called in by bishops far and wide. The Marxist town couldn’t but build him a youth center for free next the church since everyone in town respected him so much.

Meanwhile, I was alone in the parish. Don Claudio was still in the hospital when I got there. The assistant, “Quel M,” as don Claudio called him, successfully escaped to the mountains and then, not being arrested, hid out, somewhat ironically on any number of levels, at “La Misericordia,” at the waterfront just down the street from the parish.

The most the bishop and the vicar general would do at that time was to take me away from my studies at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome so as to get me to come to the parish, maybe because I was an unknown for “Quel M” and maybe also because I was also physically about as big as the assassin and so most likely would not be bothered by him while I tried to take care of don Claudio when he was brought back to the parish. They were wrong on that. They and the other priests of the Diocese of Massa Marittima – Piombino were scared to death of him.

What had happened is that “Quel M” was finishing Sunday Mass, and while everyone was still there don Claudio went up to the pulpit to announce that all the youth were to gather over in the youth center after Mass, so, an announcement of ten seconds or so. “Quel M” let himself get enraged about this, but disappeared for a few hours, only to come back that afternoon to hunt down diminutive don Claudio (mid-80s, frail, about 5’5″ and perhaps 125 pounds), who was sitting at his desk in his office. With both hands, “Quel M” (mid-30s, strong as an ox, about 6’5″ and perhaps 300 pounds) grabbed the largest volume of the Summa Theologica of Saint Thomas Aquinas (which don Claudio would read before giving his catechism classes to the youth), and proceeded with all his might to bash don Claudio over the head and on his face with it, then choking him in a strangle hold trying to crush his throat which don Claudio had used to preach about Jesus throughout his life. “Quel M” left don Claudio for dead. Three days later (three days, mind you), don Claudio awakens from his coma and, from the floor, is just able to reach the phone and call an ambulance, face and head swollen like a basketball, eyes still swollen shut.

Senseless, you say? Sick, you say? Yes, well, I’ll write about that soon.

Meanwhile, “Quel M” returned to the parish (though forbidden by the bishop), in order, he thought, to preside at the funeral of the head of Italy’s Catholic Action. She was from the parish and all sorts of politicians and dignitaries and untold numbers of churchmen of every rank showed up in that little out of the way parish church. I asked the higher-up ecclesiastics if they would like to preside over the funeral. They were afraid, and so cited my appointment by the local ordinary to surveil the situation. “Quel M” was a volcano. A monsignor whispered to him that he shouldn’t be there and “Quel M” erupted violently, but somehow got himself out the door like a twirling Tazmanian devil of Bugs Bunny fame, though there was nothing funny about this. He again had murder in his eyes and was totally out of control. Within a few minutes he was back in again. In order to calm down the situation I asked him if he would do the first reading. “Si!” he exclaimed. But then, during Mass, from the side, he said all the parts that I was to say in a very loud voice indeed. Just so sad. I let him read because I was afraid that he would actually have killed a number of the old priests there. Truly… Anyway…

Don Claudio and I became instant life-long friends if such a thing makes sense. It’s just that it seemed we knew each other forever. He loved Jesus. He loved the truth. He called our friendship in the priesthood a “sintonia” in the truth, explaining that sintonia has to do with radio waves being on the same frequency, strengthening each other.

When Saint John Paul II got wind of all this, he was pretty upset, furious really, and sent a letter to all the Italian bishops about how to deal with their priests. Yikes! This was a saga which carried on for some years.

And now the rest of the story: I repeatedly begged don Claudio to tell the police what had happened, to tell the full story to the bishop, but he would not do this. Don Claudio didn’t want to hurt “Quel M” in any way. Don Claudio wanted with all his might that “Quel M” come to know the mercy of the Lord. Don Claudio taught me much about the priesthood in view of other priests. I don’t know if I leaned what I should have learned, but my experience with him has nonetheless been invaluable for me. Thanks, don Claudio! I went to visit his tomb in the mid-2000s, brought there from Rome by a friend who has served as a kind of special secretary for a successive number of Roman Pontiffs. Even after so many years, his tomb was surrounded by huge bouquets of fresh cut flowers.

Having said all that, if I had walked in on “Quel M” attacking don Claudio, I think I would have – in one movement – thrown him through the window (high up along the ceiling) and out into the garden. If he had broken down the doors (I think we had already changed the locks) so as to reenter to do away with me, the witness to the murder, and if I then had a gun… Look, I just don’t know… but… He’s lucky I wasn’t there. Is that a good thing about me? Where’s Father George as Father George? That’s the question. I still have to write about priests and guns. Patience!*

Père Jacques HamelSecond anecdote: père Jacques Hamel

I’ve written about père Jacques: ISIS murders priest during Mass. R.I.P. Père Jacques Hamel. My comments. As you know, one of his attackers said: “To those who dare to say we shouldn’t kill a priest… we spare no-one.” Apparently, that’s a citation from Ibn Hazm al-Andalusi:

“And it is allowed to kill anyone aside from those we have mentioned, among the combatant idolators or the non combatants, such as the trader, the servant, the old man who gives his advice or not, the farmer, the bishop, the priest, the monk, the blind, the cripple. Spare no-one.”

Senseless, you say? Sick, you say? Yes, well, I’ll write about that soon.

It seems that the mosque to which the jihadis belonged was donated by the parish of which père Jacques was the pastor. Whatever you might think about all that (and I would have really a lot to say as you might imagine), you have to think nevertheless that père Jacques just wanted to do good to people and would hold out a spirit of forgiveness even while his throat was being slit.

Do I learn anything from that? You know what I wrote in the post about père Jacques linked to above, you know, the bit about “If I had had a gun…” Is that a good thing? Where’s Father George as Father George? That’s the question. As I said, I still have to write about priests and guns. Patience!

* I wrote to the parish in Piombino yesterday, asking the email address of “Quel M” so that I might relate to him the mercy that don Claudio desired for him. It’s only right. It just entered my heart all of a sudden to do this.

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Jennies, bumper stickers, heraldry…

donkey jenny card.jpg

This card came in from Father Gordon J Macrae (About). He can’t receive cards, but he can send them. These two mama donkeys (jennies to be exact) sport some great bumper stickers. Which reminds me. I need to come up with a motto for the coat of arms wrought by elizdelphi. I have been told by the priest who first reprimanded me about the heraldic sin of my having arms (sword and quill) behind the blazon is perhaps not forbidden after all. “Actually, I just don’t know,” he said. At any rate, I’m falling back on my original motto of many years, decades really, which comes from Luke 15:20, wherein the father of the prodigal son has pity, mercy, compassion…. on the prodigal. Actually, the word in Greek, a verb, is a passive aorist, whereby we see that what the inspired Scripture actually says is that the father’s heart was sacrificed. We’ll keep it in Greek (ἐσπλαγχνίσθη), but in all capital letters with no breathing or accent marks). The banner will have to be without the ripple in the middle…. You’ll remember what we have so far:

GEORGE DAVID BYERS - COAT OF ARMS - revision

The sword, as I’ve pointed out in other posts on my coat of arms, refers also the flaming fiery sword of Elijah, which sword, mind you, was hardly a CCW! ;-) Anyway, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about CCW stuff as you know, and haven’t yet concluded that series, as I would still like to comment more about CCW priests and whether that’s a good idea or not. Just sayin’…

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The sins of my Coat of Arms (revision)

GEORGE DAVID BYERS - COAT OF ARMS - revision

In my opinion, this is the best Coat of Arms for a priest ever.

We’re still working on the motto… I am rather indecisive…

elizdephi is an extremely talented artist. It makes me wonder what treasures she has…

This is the third post on this. Behold, posts one and two:

As for the sword and quill pen, a lawyer who is also a Scott has written in to complain, saying, “Hmph!” and adding that “I seriously think you are NOT allowed swords behind your blazon. How very brazen!” To which I answer, there are not “swords” but only one, and then a quill. Perhaps it is with this kind of intervention that the exclamation came about: “Scotch that!”

That this fellow is a Scott is rather significant. They are very persnickety about Coats of Arms and all manner of heraldry. I respect that. But, he was born in the British Commonwealth and offered, of all things, to seek a waiver for my brazenness with the very Queen of England. The Scotts have all manner of opinion about any Queen of England having any sort of wealth that is common round about the globe.

At any rate, I hear it told – though I don’t know if it’s true – that the coat of arms of Pope John Paul II was also in some way against the rules. And, at any rate, does not the Church have some weight to throw around with such rules?

Anyway, I’m not sure of the significance of a sword or quill for that matter either turned up or, as depicted here, turned down. For Saint Michael the Archangel, the downward sword being put into the scabbard does not signify peace or surrender, but rather victory in the sense of “It’s over for you buddy. You’re a joke. Just give it up now or you’re dead.” Something like that…

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My mom’s lifelong terror: another hint

warsaw ghetto

Warsaw Ghetto.  Relatives?

A gracious reader just brought to mind for me the Yiddish words my mom would speak. I remember asking her about this. I thought she was speaking Polish. I only found out much latter that all these words were Yiddish. She would only say ever so very wistfully and all so full of nostalgia – my questions making her pause, quite overcome with emotion – that her mom and her friends were fluent and that she herself knew much more as a kid, but that what they spoke was strictly reserved to the house and forbidden to be spoken in public. She was being terribly evasive. It was as if she wanted to tell me so much more, but she couldn’t, as if that were for my own good. She had been whisked away to live with “Aunt Stella” in New Haven, Connecticut as a little kid (then in the country, having to walk a mile and some for the school bus). She was sooooooooooo nostalgic when saying the little she did.

pottery white blue stripe

I think of other things. Perhaps I’m reading into it, but my mom a thousand times pointed out what her favorite style of pottery was.  I myself was quite an amazing potter (I very often had spectators when I set myself to it). She wanted white with blue stripes in the rough style of what’s pictured here (which I did not create), whether jugs, or plates or bowls, or flower pots.

1948 israeli flag

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Scraps falling from the Master’s table (My dark and dirty secret edition)

tabernacle rectory

This is the tabernacle door above the ad orientem altar in my little rectory, which is so tiny that some of the parishioners call it “the hut.” It is a great consolation to be allowed to have a suitable chapel dedicated to our Lord. I know not all priests have this consolation. I think of those unjustly imprisoned by the self-congratulators such as wrongfully convicted and imprisoned Father Gordon MacRae. I think of the priests and bishops faithful to the Church in China being smashed down in labor and reeducation camps. I think of the priests imprisoned by Saudi Arabia because they dared to say Mass in a locked bedroom of a locked apartment.

On this Sunday when most Catholic parishes around the world celebrate the great solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus, Corpus Christi, I bring you a personal confession of a dark and dirty secret. Perhaps it speaks to a bit of insanity on my part, and I’m making myself rather vulnerable to commentary by my fellow priests and those who for mere sport shoot their words of slander at me, but, nevertheless, here goes

When I was a teenager, just 16 years old, and had my driver’s licence, I would take my heap of rust that might politely be called a vehicle, and drove up to another part of Lake Wobegon in my native northern forests. I would park my car behind the beautiful church with its gorgeous German imported (1800s) stained glass windows, and make my way up into the sanctuary with it’s massive hand carved wood ad orientem high altar with it’s moving Calvary scene, take a left into the priest’s sacristy and a right into the little corridor behind the altar that would make its way over to the other work sacristy. But then I would stop halfway across, open a little broom closet door to my right, squeeze myself in to the little space, close the door after me, and rest my head against the wood box that was jutting out into the ever so dark and dirty closet, knowing that an inch away was the glorious tabernacle with the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace, the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, seated upon His throne, God Most High, shining His mercy upon the universe.

And there I would stay, my little version of being hidden with Christ in God. I mean, what’s a 16 year old know about the spiritual life? I would think about the Trinity, going through, with and in Jesus to our dear Heavenly Father by the fiery love of the Holy Spirit, perhaps thinking I knew some theology but knowing I am missing everything there is to know nonetheless. And there I would stand in my dark and dirty closet, knowing that my dark and dirty soul couldn’t possibly grasp the glory of the Most Blessed Sacrament right next to me, but wanting to be there anyway, close to Jesus, hoping he didn’t mind my boldness, my silliness, my idiocy, my lack of decorum. And there I would recite the Angel’s prayer of reparation for those who do not believe, who do not adore, who do not love Him, Jesus, God’s own Son. Yes, I would also just sit in the pews, but I wanted to be close to Him who is coming to judge the living and the dead and world by fire, hoping that that fire would purge me first of all that which is dark and dirty.

Confession, by the way, is a favorite sacrament, where such intimate joy is to be found. Be not afraid. Any dark and dirty secret, like lack of trust in God, can be revealed before the fiery love of Jesus, even as He brings your heart close to His. That’s a love that all can see, and yet it is also hidden away, a treasure that we carry in our souls, in our hearts, by that grace which will turn to glory, please God, in heaven. Jesus is good and kind. He also has a sense of humor about our little attempts to be close to Him. How silly I was! But, when I pray, I’m like the tiniest little boy playing before Jesus, apologizing that before Him, I just don’t know how to grow up. I’m glad He said something about it being necessary for us to be like little children if we are to enter the Kingdom of the heavens. He is good and kind.

Praised be Jesus! Praised be the Most Blessed Sacrament!

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Amoris laetitia: Stupid is as stupid is… Mother’s Day Special

It’s a pretty smart saying that stupid is as stupid does, for when stupid does smart, the stupid isn’t there, but when stupid is as stupid is, that is, when someone smart does stupid, well, that’s pretty stupid altogether. In other words, in this respectful way of looking at it all, stupidity lies not in the intellect, but in the will. It’s about acting in good faith or bad faith, choosing to be respectful of others or choosing an ideology of cynicism which smashes others down, whether self or neighbor or Jesus on the Cross. But, let’s take a couple of examples, one being (perhaps) stupid me and my (perhaps) stupid mom, and and another being (perhaps) smart Amoris laetitia.

forrest gump stupid is as stupid doesMy Mom: Stupid is as stupid does (really smart, that)

I was very often chasing about as a little kid, but one of the quiet times I had with the Lord was the day my mom brought home something special. She said she had something for me, but didn’t tell me what it was. When I wasn’t looking, she simply put a really large paper bag with a big box in it next to the bedroom of my brother and me. For some reason, perhaps from the loving but too solicitous tone of voice she used in telling me to go ahead and look in the package, I was apprehensive, which developed into a sinking feeling that all was not well. I asked permission to sit down near the top of the steps next to the bedroom door. I received an affirmative answer, but had failed in the ulterior motive of my quest to have her peek around the corner and up the stairs to give me even more reassurance. I left some space in front of me to take the package out of the bag and spread out its mysterious contents. My heart sank all the more as I took everything out of the package.

There were some very special shoes, boots really, which fit right over my ankles, and were reddish brown. I put them on. They fit perfectly, although they felt strange when walking in them. They had multi-level “saddles”, if you will, meant to realign my rather malformed heels. I remembered having been measured for them. At this stage, I didn’t even know how to tie the laces, so young was I. That knowledge would come along quickly enough. But I didn’t know quite what to do with the metal bars which went along the sides of the legs. I guess they were meant to twist my feet and legs around since one foot wanted to be perpendicular to the other.

I remember the whole scene in the orthopedic surgeon’s office quite a while before this, with him warning against the protestations of my mother that if I didn’t wear them, I would have real difficulty walking when I grew older. “He’s going to walk like a duck,” he said, imitating the waddling of a duck with some sarcasm, “you know, all pigeon toed,” he said, placing his feet wildly perpendicular one to to other. “No!” said my mom, all alarmed, but finally gave in to ordering the shoes.

just me mom brother shoes

I’m the baby of the family, here with my special boots on.

“You won’t have to wear them forever, just for a while, that’s all,” said my mom in a gentle voice from downstairs, not in view. She couldn’t bear seeing the expression on my face as I realized that I was a cripple of sorts and hadn’t even known about it. Little kids don’t notice such things. “Just leave the bars in the box. You don’t have to put those on. Just try out the shoes,” she said with gentle encouragement. And so, I was able to kick off the bars even before I put them on.

The bars stayed in the box and I never saw them again. Some forty years later, when an orthopedic surgeon was discussing with me an upcoming surgery on the more twisted leg after it had been totally shattered in an accident, I asked if he could just kind of twist it about so that it would heal a bit straighter. “No,” he said, “the muscles and tendons that you still have wouldn’t know what to do. You would be worse off. Just rejoice in the way God made you.” He was right, of course. And even keeping things the way they were, that leg would a just a few years later suffer a spiral fracture, with the muscles and tendons working way too hard to have the leg walk straight when it actually couldn’t possibly do so. If I have to walk any great distance, my limping becomes exaggerated, even for days at a time, so much so that one of the Vatican Gendarmes, in seeing me walk below the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City, imitated my limping with great lurching steps I couldn’t possibly accomplish. Always good for a laugh, these guys.

To the point: All this made me think that my mom and I did the wrong thing back in the early 1960s when I was just a tiny little kid, leaving the bars in the box as we did. She just couldn’t bring herself to let it be known that I needed a bit of extra help. She had had an extremely tough life, having some physical difficulties herself, and was scared to death by the Holocaust, and knew that I was her little Jewish boy (however baptized I was), and a bit of a cripple, and so doubly indicated for the camps, even though those death camps were closed for some eighteen years by this time and in places far, far away. Not long enough a time, of course, and never far enough away.  She did the right thing for me even when everyone else said it was the wrong thing. Thanks, mom, for loving me so much. Stupid is as stupid does, and my mom was really smart.

Amoris laetitia 351: Stupid is as stupid is

And then there’s the (perhaps) smartness of Amoris laetitia, you know, the note 351 fiasco about the universal law that any particular person might well be open to being accompanied with the help of the sacraments when their repentance lacks appropriate attrition/contrition, and any sort of purpose of amendment of life. Instead of having them carry the cross of their infirmity of weakness which we all have, drawn by the love that Jesus will give to them as He does give to us all, they are to be condemned to the camps of being treated as less than human, as less than capable of rejoicing in the love that Jesus will give to them. They are treated as those with bad faith just looking for an occasion to cynically reject any teaching that would put a cross before them, and so one better not put such a teaching before them, for it will surely be perceived as doctrine turned into stones to throw at them with bitter hatred. But, no, that is not the way it is. That is not my experience.

forrest gump leaving the past behind you

The second I tell people the truth of the matter (I’ve never known anyone not to know the truth of the matter), and tell them that I want to be the priest for them, and accompany them, but not now with the sacraments, but with great love and enthusiasm tell them that I will treat them seriously and not just pander to them, but work with them, it is then that tears of joy flow, that the conversion is made, that a decision is made to do things right, that they become excited that for the first time in their lives that a priest actually wants to help them instead of get their congratulations by letting them do whatever they please. They thank me profusely for helping them to learn about carrying their cross instead of putting them in weird prostheses of sacraments that they now would be horrified to receive, knowing that they would not be able to receive fruitfully, which they want to do, and are eager to start upon the course that will bring them to this end. The point is that I give them the gift of being enthralled with Jesus, and they want to respect Him.

It is here that note 351 would have a priest provide absolution and Communion, but, no, that is not the way, not until they are all ready to go. They know this and do not yet want the absolution or Communion. They understand: pandering is offensive to the very ones this is supposed to benefit. Once people have a sense of being treated seriously, with respect, they can never go back to seeking pandering treatment by weak priests who prostitute themselves to the congratulations that the pandering-seekers provide to them. They hate stupid is as stupid is, because that just is not smart.

And besides that, the gates of hell shall not prevail.

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This Catholic Priest’s Invisibility Cloak: Moving up from inside the ceiling to *The Cupboard Under The Stairs*, so as “to be hidden with Christ in God”

usmc f35b stealth fighter

USMC F35B Stealth (Invisibility) Fighter ready for action

Seeing strange references to The Cupboard Under The Stairs of late, strange at least to this most unwell-read priest in the world, I googled the strange phrase and immediately realized that this is a reference to the childhood abode of a certain Harry in another house somewhere in Surrey, not that this North-woods boy of frozen Minnesota of wolves and moose knows where such a faraway place is.

But I can tell you this. When I was only four years old, I would often search out a mysterious place, enchanted not by magic or some special powers round about, but intriguing because it was a place I could think without being distracted by daily life otherwise all around me. I was, of course, distracted by not being distracted, but this was the charm of it all, and this is what I thought about, even while there was a tug on my heart from the Most High, who was wanting me to be hidden even further away, that is, all that much closer to home. That was the mysterious part.

People were going about their normal activities, absorbed in this and that, chasing about here and there, and I was totally invisible to them, out of sight, of mind. Having stepped back from this, I felt free, but again, I was totally tied into such a dynamic so that, in other words, I was being even more inserted into the realities of day to day life even while being abstracted from it. A clearer vision kind of thing for the fact of being able to take a step back. That helps a lot in not being necessarily ripped in this direction and that by the next thing on the horizon and then the other. That would not be a clear vision of reality, but a being smothered by reality.

My first step back so as to take in the whole wasn’t hiding under the bed, which, although I did a lot of that when my big brother and I would get into it, was never about this kind of taking a step back. That was just about hiding momentarily, waiting for the next opportunity to attack.

ceiling panelMy first step back was, significantly, a step up. There was a storage cupboard above the stairs, inside our bedroom. There were no doors, so you could walk in and turn to the right. At about five feet up, there was another storage space I was able to climb up into at my four years of age. From there, looking up, there was a board in the ceiling which could be pushed up so as to go into the crawl space in the ceiling. It seemed impossible even to me, but I was able to lift myself up, pushing the board onto the insulation above with my head, then replacing the board, thus becoming totally invisible to everyone. That got old pretty quickly. Fiberglass insulation is no fun. But I did learn some great lessons there about taking a step back so as to be all the more immersed in life all around me.

footlockerLater, now at five years old, I moved up into a more advanced invisibility cloak, which was the actual cupboard under the stairs down in the basement. There was a side-door, but this was blocked by a chest freezer, which, as long-time readers know, was to be the scene of being nearly stabbed to death by a friend who apparently did not have the opportunity to ever take a step back from things. But at the tallest part of the cupboard, as the stairs went up, there was actually a door to the backside, where we had our laundry room. That opening was, however, piled high to the ceiling with chests and boxes and all sort of whatnot. I would take a few boxes down, climb over, replace the boxes, and I was now again totally invisible to world around me, taking a step back, as it were, but totally distracted by the lack of distraction, something helping me to be, if I should ever take the opportunity, to be an actor in whatever circumstance instead of being in mere reaction.

george byers jr vmb 611

George Byers Jr while in the VMB 611 before heading off to the Checkerboarders

But this is also where, now, being older, my imagination ran wild. I liked to go through one ancient of days footlocker in particular, filled with my dad’s war things, including his flying gear from the Checkerboard Squadron. There were medals and dogtags, the Checkerboard scarf, the leather head gear, the goggles, the helmet, the flying jacket (all of which I put on, of course), the distress rag (a silk cloth stating who he was in all sort of Asian languages), his flying logs and his war diaries filled with dreams and honor and visions of service for mankind. It wouldn’t be long before I could read these paragraphs which were almost poetry. My heart raced, my mind soared, and I would burst out of my invisibility cloak and, having bounded upstairs and outside, would put my arms out and run, flying about, taking deep banking turns this way and that, until I would just about drop, ready for whatever circumstance might come along.

However much my dad was a hero for me, there is another Warrior to whom I now turn. I am learning to be hidden with Him in God, as Saint Paul bids us all to do:

If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-4).

Mind you, he says this in a context. Don’t think I don’t know it:

Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry. Because of these the wrath of God is coming (upon the disobedient). By these you too once conducted yourselves, when you lived in that way. But now you must put them all away: anger, fury, malice, slander, and obscene language out of your mouths. Stop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its Creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col 3:5-17).

In all this, taking a step back, putting on the invisibility cloak of a spiritual life, watching as Christ Jesus draws us to Himself away from this exile right unto heaven, as we so hope, we are in this hiddenness nevertheless all the more immersed into encouraging one another, despite our weakness, to look with enthusiasm and love to Him who will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. He loves us so very much. Amen.

pieta

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Stake in the Rock! What a discovery!

burnt island us-canada borderland

Our family’s favorite fish-shaped island. Ichtus = Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior.

I’ve been searching on and off for years for this little island on google maps. I failed because I was looking in the wrong region. I had no idea where it was. I was just a little kid. Today I tried google earth. And there it was, yada yada. As a kid on vacation with my brother and mom and dad in absolutely the middle of Nowhere-Rainy-River, I remember being terribly impressed by my discovery of an inconspicuous though very sturdy metal stake driven directly into the bedrock high atop this tiny mountainous island, stating in its engraving that this is the line between Canada and the United States of America. This would have been driven in some time after the Ashburton Treaty of 1842. I couldn’t believe my eyes, which were now opened to international politics and land-grabbing on a massive scale in, as I say, manifestly absolutely the middle of nowhere. I stood there for minutes on end, trying to take it all in. Who in their right mind, thought I, would go through such trouble, especially when it would have been so very difficult way back in the days of yore? Weren’t lines on a map enough? (In those days, they were.) I figured that, after all, I was still surely the only human being who has ever happened across this stake since the time it was so laboriously pounded in. However permanent this type of Arthurian Excalibur was, it was about as useful for marking territory as a dog peeing on a hydrant just before a heavy rain. Anyway, as you can see, since then, and after the time we had visited for some years in a row in the late 1960s and early 1970s, after our spate of 2-week summertime car trips around America, the forest service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture installed a rather large platform dock near the campground on the island.

just me 06High atop the southeastern bluffs, there are lush patches of blueberries hidden among the massive rocks. And this is why we would come: to pick blueberries for the best blueberry tarts and pies and everything that my mom would then make when we got back home. Mmmm! And, oh yes, we came for the fish! We would eat the fillets until the next Summer. Not sure if we took over the limit. Pictured is a morning’s catch, which I’m sure weighed as much as I did. We kept them fresh for many days in nets under water until we could get ice one the way home for the coolers we brought for the trip back.

So, what’s the use of repeating unrepeatable circumstances such as this? We’ll, here’s the truth of it, all too predictable: I’ve not told you the whole truth of the matter. I’ve written about some of it on a now shuttered blog. My family was not always idyllic. Big surprise there, right? Who’s family is totally perfect? The point here is, I do think that we tried to begin to overcome some difficulties by investing real time to be together, depending on each other. Ours is, I think, a story that would give some perspective to those in the Synod on the Family who would too easily have people opt for divorce and remarriage. My dad would get advice from the priests in town and he would try to follow up on it. Did he fail time and again. Yes. And in a bad way. But he did try. And things did get better, and better, and much better, and really good. But that’s years of progress, and not everyone in the family was there to take notice. But, change did come. It was miraculous. And it started by trying. And trying. Not bad, that. Not bad at all.

sacred heartsThe rock was Christ, the stake our idiocy. The result, not further division, but in His forgiveness, learning to learn unity, not always succeeding, but we continued to try. And that, for me, was always jaw-dropping as a new discovery, Jesus bothering to stake us out as His territory. I would have to just stand for minutes on end trying to take it all in. And yes, all of that, for all the difficulty, did afford real moments of happiness and rejoicing. And that’s just way cool in my book.

Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. For He is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:13-14).

I find it interesting that Pope Francis has not yet released THE DOCUMENT on the Synod on the Family. I’m guessing he’s taking his time preparing something for the sake of unity, not of division.

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(3) Father Byers at 8 years old: Taking *The* Mafia Kiddie-Porn Godfather for a ride

cadillac limousine

This is one of those stories which requires one to say before beginning that no one else is ever to try this at home. What I did was stupid, though it seemed really smart to me at the time. The purpose of repeating this bit of the autobiography here is send a message to some people who pride themselves a bit in their lust for power in all their evil doing. They have a need to understand that there are certain people who will uncontrollably do stupid things, putting themselves into grave danger, truly having no fear because of having, at any rate, the idea that they can get their way out of any difficulty precisely because they have no fear that burdens them. They will do what they need to do. And they do it. I must say that what happened in this story was very formative of my own character, and terribly instructive to me as a little kid about the way politics work regarding abuse. Seeing the powerful become fearful (they are always fearful) was spectacular. Very important, this. Those for whom I am especially writing these articles should take note: No fear. Zero. Nada. Zilch. Give it up and convert. Go to Confession! For the other articles so far, see:

north junior high school

When I was just eight years old, I had made a habit of going swimming at the local Junior High School. The pool was opened up to younger kids like myself, at night. It was a pretty good hike to get there, three miles, at night. Bikes were impossible in Minnesota in February ice and snow, at night. I know. I tried many times when it was way below zero, at night. It’s a good extreme sport, but it really was faster just walking. No one from my neighborhood wanted to brave the hike. I was alone for that part. But there were plenty of kids to meet there. The trip was worth it for someone who could swim like a fish, and I was just such a one. I think I once did five lengths of the pool underwater without once coming up for breath. I was a bit of a show-off, looking for some competition in this way. Competition, if it’s just for the sheer idiocy of it, is always hilarious to those involved, and is its own reward. I found out that half-crippled legs didn’t matter so much in the water.

Also, I was used to the cold enough to know that when it’s below zero and one’s hair is still wet, the walk home will be cold only at the beginning. Wet hair freezes into a helmet as hard as rock, keeping one’s body heat insulated. I would let my hair freeze for a minute or so, and then put my hat on over that. Only I would do that, of course. But one has to know how to survive.

On my way home from a great swim, but on a particularly cold night, way below zero on the Fahrenheit scale, and with eyes seeing chlorine halos around every distant light, I noted that a very expensive looking black Cadillac Limousine started following me at my walking pace, about forty yards out. He had followed me a couple of other times, but from about 100 yards out. This narrowing of the range was creepy. I was on the road since the sidewalk had about a foot of snow cover. But now, to escape, I ran up the mountain of snow separating the road from the sidewalk, which was set back from the road about twenty feet. I walked along the sidewalk, to no avail. The car stayed exactly forty yards back. He knew what he was doing. I was just at a point where the sidewalk ended in front of a deep, culverted ditch that was being filled in with building demolition, parts of brick walls and great slabs of cement floors, with jagged metal I-beams that poked through the snow and ice with dark menace. I stared at this, imagining myself escaping along this impassable route, but being put off at the thought of freezing to death with a broken leg a half mile from the road, not to be found until the following Summer, if ever.

plowed snowI jumped back out on the road, right where my stalker would be able to grab me. Back in the day, there were no houses in any direction for about a half a mile along that stretch of road. The field next to me, blanketed with about three feet of snow, up to my chest at that time, stretched all the way to a forest about three miles away. It was pitch dark. I thought I was dead for sure.

And yet, if you can’t run, you can fight, even if you are only eight years old, as I had learned some months previously. I was braver than I was smart. I turned and walked straight to the car and, when offered a ride – just as I thought – I took it. This seemed stupid even to me, but it also seemed like the only option, and so, therefore, smart. I thought I was going to end up in the car one way or the other, but if I took the initiative, the psychological dynamics were such that I could have the upper hand, at least for a while, until I figured out a definitive escape. What a stupid eight-year old! But I was filled with adrenaline once again. And I had not forgotten the bit [mentioned in an earlier part of the autobiography] about letting people hang themselves if that’s what they wanted to do. I learned later on what our Lord did with Judas.

This fellow in the Cadillac Limousine was perhaps in his thirties, and may have been merely the driver for someone else somewhere else. His job for the evening was just to collect kids. At any rate, he knew his business; it was clear he had done this before. Today I would conjecture that his boss was the kiddie-porno king of the world, with no one equaling his volume of kiddie-porn even today. But, maybe he was the godfather. Those were different times. But I’ll get to that in the following article of this series. At any rate, this fellow interrogated me about exactly where I lived in town and then what my name was. When he heard the name, he asked me to repeat it, again and again. I told him, and said that my dad had been the mayor of the city (of 48,000 people at the time) and was now an attorney at law, and also worked at the State Legislature, and headed up the biggest law firm in central Minnesota. He asked me repeatedly if I was sure that was my father. Sure? I almost broke out laughing. But instead I also mentioned my uncle by name, since he was the chief emergency responder in the city. At that point, he stopped the car abruptly, right there on the icy street, far from anywhere, at night, way below freezing, commanding me to get out. I mocked him with a sing-song voice, saying he could meet my dad if he wanted to drive me the rest of the way. That wasn’t very intelligent on my part, but he sped away, thank God. I tried to get the license plate number, but it was too dark. I was dumb enough to be a bit too happy with myself, having gotten 1-1/2 miles closer to home in a nice car. I had no idea that I had been in most grave danger, out of which few come out alive.

I wonder how many youngsters’ lives he had destroyed and is still destroying. I wonder if my ever so troubled friend had been a victim of his. I told my parents right away, and my dad got on the phone immediately. I can only think that this fellow was run out of town for a while, but, in those days, I suppose, only that. The kiddie-porn operation was so massive that very many people had to have been paid off to look the other way.

Just when you think you’ve run into the ultimate evil, you find out there is something even worse. It would be a grave error to think that the politics of abuse, the string pulling behind the scenes, is simple. It’s not that it’s all so much more complex than money and the lust for power along with a perverted, inverted lust for lust. Instead, the difficulty comes in being put off by thinking that there can’t be anything more evil than what one has already found. But that judgment of the state of affairs does not then take into account the passion and death of the Son of God Incarnate. If He suffered like that, things really can be very, very evil. But that’s when we see Jesus’ mercy shining most brightly. O.K., so, my participation as a kid in kiddie-porn up next. Stay tuned.

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (utterly inappropriate edition)

flores7

These are weeds, I guess. As a little kid, I could easily pick such nuisance plants, put them in a jug of water, and give them to my mom. I wouldn’t notice the lack of grass whose place the weeds usurped. I would instead imagine that I was looking at miniature Snap Dragons, tiny Jack-In-The-Pulpits. My mom would smile, of course, regardless. I guess Jesus’ mom is like that. These “flowers” are in the backyard of the new rectory.

I have the intention of putting up some autobiographical posts in the next few days, bits of what long time readers of my other blogs have read before but said they would like to see again, but now tweaked for length and clarity. These are weeds, if you will, utterly inappropriate, it would seem, for the end for which they are intended, that is, as a kind of thank you to the Immaculate Conception, but which may just contain some beauty, a flower to be given to her, who is the mother of the One who is coming to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire.

This is a kind of response to my being dumbfounded the other day when doing a bit of investigation of the double murder in the Vatican last month. Discussions lasted 5 1/2 hours firstly in a restaurant and then in the home of one who knows more than just a bit about such things. I got the idea during those discussions that there are some few who had allowed themselves to get into a position of string pulling, but actually have only been manipulated into lusting for power, fulfilling in themselves what is predictable at the end of Romans chapter 1:

“They are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know the just decree of God that all who practice such things deserve death, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them” (Rom 1:31-32).

I commented that…

“Our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

How is it that such people have gone astray? How to call them back? Jesus called Judas “Friend” at the very moment of the kiss of betrayal and death, no? Since it is evident that the posts of this blog make their way also to these very people, let me invite them to see in the autobiographical articles to follow a pathway out of their own hell, even if they should think they are too far gone, that the way of Judas is the only way left for them now: It is not the only way remaining. I lay out part of my own life for you as a call to you to return to the Lord with repentance. It is not too late. Hell is forever. You don’t have to go there.

shepherd boyLet me tell about my vocation at 2 1/2 years old, about almost being raped and murdered at 7 years old, about being stalked at 8 years old, about starring as a 13-14 year old in perhaps the largest kiddie-porn operation in the history of such things right around the world to date, about the time I pointed a loaded rifle at another stalker when I was 15 years old. Let me tell you about how I forgive you on behalf of all who have suffered the kind of idiocy you vomit out on others, that is, if you want the forgiveness, because I think that that is what you think is impossible. Forgiveness is not impossible. It is yours for the taking. Do it. Jesus has the wounds to prove that He’s deadly serious about His love, yes, even for you. And in that case, of you accepting this offer of forgiveness, all thanks be to Jesus Christ, Son of the Immaculate Conception, who accepts such small and utterly inappropriate efforts such as these as flowers given to Him to give to His mother.

P.S. The last time I put this kind of thing up on a blog there were those who thought rather ill of me, calling me damaged goods. Instead, I suggest that one might find out how it is that the Lord was giving me from the very beginning some reference points by which I could understand the true state of affairs in the Church and the world today. That’s a strength. But truly the only far reaching strength comes with accepting a hand up from our Savior. Amen.

Update: A reader emailed this:

THE WEED

A weed is but an unloved flower!
    Go dig, and prune, and guide, and wait,
    Until it learns its high estate,
    And glorifies some bower.
A weed is but an unloved flower!

All sin is virtue unevolved,
    Release the angel from the clod—
    Go love thy brother up to God.
Behold each problem solved.
    All sin is virtue unevolved.

Poems of progress and new thought pastels by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company [1909].

At first glance, your beautiful weed seems to be a wild bergamot: Monarda fistulosa. If you bruise a leaf, does it smell minty? [No.] The Monardas are my ‘Sweet Mary’ flowers. Butterflies and hummingbirds love to feed on the nectar (I imagine the butterflies and hummingbirds as visitations from the faithful departed).

Update: With more research: I took a closer look at your photo with my magnifier and checked in my Peterson wildflower field guide … is this what you have in the garden? [Yes!] If it is, make of this what you will –it’s ‘Purple Archangel’. Only called dead nettle because it won’t getcha like stinging  nettle.

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Filed under Abuse, Father Byers Autobiography, Flores, Holy See