Tag Archives: Jackass for the Hour

Character in *Jackass for the Hour* seen in Rome

Who could it be? Not the guy in the winter coat. Not the priest in the cassock and Roman collar. So, who?

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Jackass for the Hour: Chapter 29 – We praise the darkness

palestinian donkey

Jackass for the Hour: Chapter 29 – We praise the darkness

It was the first Friday of the trial. Cardinal Francisco opened the session, saying, “We commence the proceedings again with a prayer, this time led by the Special Prosecutor, Sister Nice, who is recognised by the Pelotani as an expert in psychology, sexual-abuse and problems living celibacy. She was recommended by Cardinal Froben. Sister… if you would…”

“Let us pray,” she said, walking to the centre of the stage and throwing her arms wide. “We sing to the mountains; we sing to the sea; we sing to the blessing of you and of me,” she began, pointing at the crowd and then to herself. “We praise the darkness, we praise the light, our sharing, our growth, all our insight. Mud and water, fire too, we breathe forth Sophia, for me and you too.” She was about to go on, but thought better of it. She said “Amen” on her own, and then went back and sat down. Cardinal Francisco looked disappointed with the rest of the crowd.

Sister Nice started without waiting to be given the floor. “On the one hand, Alex, I’m happy with the sharing style of this trial. Sharing is what I do. On the other hand, I am disappointed that

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Jackass for the Hour: Note for Ch. 29 – “We’re men of consensus.” Idiots.

jackass for the hour

Chapter 29 – We praise the darkness – is coming up. I’ve been rather distracted by an associate for the last couple of weeks. As I review the first paragraphs of Chapter 29, this bit jumped out at me:

Bishop Athanasius knew of many candidates [for the priesthood] whose [psych] test results had described them as angels but who turned out to be abusers virtually from the day of their ordinations, as was being admitted by some of the psychologists who favoured abusive personalities, those who are nice, who go along with the ‘team’ by never criticising the abusiveness and lack of Faith of others.

When this was written I was thinking of two cases in particular:

  • One devastated a religious community I knew of at the time, the case being described to me in detail. One priest, totally disgusted with the fallen priest even after very many years, feeling totally betrayed, kept exclaiming that before ordination he was an angel and described as such by evaluations. Literally, from the day of his ordination…
  • The second was in an archdiocese. The seminary faculty has voted with two thumbs down, pretty much unanimously. The candidate, an absolute angel, was evaluated as being an absolute angel by the psych testing. Almost from the very day of his ordination… The anger of those who had given two thumbs down was so heated that the huge seminary was brought to the brink of closing in protest. Those who know of what I speak will know the emotional backlash as if they were going through it right now themselves.

Just to say. In my decades in Rome, I’ve met many of the key players and their minions of niceness and consensus. Again, Sister Nice might seem to be a caricature, a satire, but, really, she’s not. The reality is actually worse. I actually hold back. There are hundreds of priests who have met Sister Nice and been subjected to her… her… It’s difficult to come up with a word to describe her dumbing down of the faith, her betrayal of the faith, her disrespect for seminarians and the priesthood. I myself never met her, but knew many of her colleagues as close friends for very many years, and I have spoken with those subjected to her… her… Yuck. It’s stomach turning.

Having said all that, for the sake of the story line of the novel, there is some humor inserted. Sorry, with so serious a topic, but a bit of laughter is always a good thing even in the worst circumstances.

Update: Getting toward the end of this chapter 29, I see that Sister Nice says this to Father Alexamenos: ““Everyone will ‘wonder why the hell I am asking you this,’ but, tell me… What is spiritual direction in a seminary for?” The memories! This goes back to when one who could be called The Spiritual Director in Rome (super liberal but held to be the icon of orthodoxy for spiritual everything) went on the attack and wanted to humiliate me in front of some rather important people to all that which is political ecclesiastically in Rome, asking me a point about spiritual direction that he thought could not be answered in a Catholic manner. My answer made him, literally, apoplectic. He tried to argue a bit in front of these others, but was so beside himself with what I was saying that he stormed out, arms waving about, and re-entered the room multiple times and finally left altogether in a hissy fit. Just unbelievable. I recount such things not because this or that anecdote is important in itself, but because of who such people are with their far reaching influence in the life of the Church right around the world.

Update: Getting right to the end of chapter 29, I see this statement from Father Alexamenos: “The decontextualising statistics of your psychology despise the body in ‘favour’ of an ideologically reconstructed soul.” That’s the heart of this chapter. There it is. The dark key of gnostic salvation apart from Jesus. The true Key of Knowledge is not the dark key of gnostic salvation apart from Jesus. Mind you, that gnostic salvation – oh so very scientific – says that the truth and goodness and kindness of Jesus, the respect He shows to us is what is instead truly gnostic and useless and misleading as it is not at all scientific and controlled by us, manipulated by us.

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Jackass for the Hour: Is your donkey ready for the hour of palms & praise?

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This is donkey who has lived near the hermitage for all the years I’ve been in Western North Carolina. Sometimes one hears of a parish, usually a Cathedral parish, for which a donkey is prepared for his hour on which the (Arch)Bishop or Cardinal or Patriarch will ride up to the church on that donkey with all having palm fronds in their hands. I’ve heard of that for the Philippines, for Nicaragua, for Jerusalem. How about your parish?

The Donkey – by G.K. Chesteron

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

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

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

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

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Update: sniper shot in Rome – God’s providence with a message? Jackass!

sniper 2

A “sniper”, in the Autumn of 1999 over in Rome, took a shot at me, a warning shot, I guess. A warning for what I could only guess at the time. I’m guessing it had something to do with a guy who was living there for quite a number of weeks, a bit of a terrorist who had opened up to me, in detail, about his intentions to bomb an island nation near Africa. Of course, as always, I passed such information along. Anyway:
What I wrote in the past: I was up on the top floor of where I was staying, about 85 feet up from street level, a recreation room surrounded by large, panoramic windows. I was standing at a window (top right) with the exit door unto a patio roof on the other side of the building behind me. I loved to stand there and look out over the city of Rome while mulling over a doctoral thesis I was writing at the time on textual criticism of papyri manuscripts. For no discernible reason, I was getting creeped out by a window on the far side of a little valley in the city – a veritable spaghetti bowl of train tracks coming in from every direction – creeped out enough by that window to be distracting, and it was unrelenting. Wanting to think of things more academic, I simply turned to leave out the door onto the roof-patio on the far side of the building where I could pace back and forth to think in peace. But just as I turned out the door to that roof-patio, that nano-second, I heard a sharp make-you-instantly-cringe CRASH-CRACK sound and came back to investigate. I saw a small hole in the window where I had been and some bits of glass round about, but, just glancing at this, not really looking, while my first thought that it was obviously a bullet, I dismissed that thought and figured it was just someone who had thrown a tiny rock up at the building just to do it, and that it was no big deal. It was a small hole. Back I went to the patio and pacing, oblivious to the world, thinking of manuscript symbols and dates and locations and ancient politics and also the “Reformation” and present day Church politics. But the next day and the next I would be back at that window, as was my custom while deep in thought. I let myself be distracted and noticed that a picture on the far wall from the window, just to the side of the door, had been broken by what I didn’t know, perhaps rough-housing while playing ping-pong (there being a ping-pong table on the far side of the room). But then I looked at the window again. It was double-pane. It was then that I realized this had to have been a bullet because of the double panes and the holes being so tiny. I followed the unmistakable trajectory (lining up the holes in the two panes), and it went directly to the hole in the picture inside the room. With that I followed the trajectory the other way, and that led me to a large-windowed room (one window always open) on a roof of a building (quite exactly the height of the one I was in) which, now using google-maps distance measuring tool, I find was 427 feet away. It was the same window that had creeped me out.

sniper 1

The tram and train power wires would not have been in the way. The above picture is from google maps at street level, far below the window where I had been standing.

Left-of-bang advice from those experienced in combat is that you should always take note of those super-creepy feelings. Your senses pick up on things that don’t register in your conscience brain except by way of such warnings as they are things so small you would never pay attention to them even if you did outright notice them. Did I notice but not notice the end of a gun barrel pointed in my direction. At that distance? But your brain registers the information you otherwise can’t.

Anyway, no harm done. That didn’t stop me from hanging out at that window to check out the skyline of Rome before my usual pacing. I won’t be able to go back to that building if I’m ever in Rome to try to find the bullet buried in whatever wall or whatever since the building was sold some years ago.

22 vs 556
UPDATE: Since I wrote the post in which the above was included (about a year ago), I’ve come to know a bit more about guns, including an AR-15 belonging to a parishioner. I remember the holes in the double-paned windows (thick glass in those massive windows, mind you). The holes were tiny. I figured it was just a .22 bullet like for the long rifle we had at home when I was a kid, you know, the kind with the really tiny bullets that will ricochet off anything without doing any damage. That’s what I thought, being amazed that such a bullet at such a distance with such a blunted surface and with no power could ever so very cleanly cut through those windows. But now I realize that one would have better accuracy if that bullet were not a .22, but rather a .223 or 5.56, which have the same bullet width (tiny!), effectively, the same as the normal .22. The .223 or 5.56 is, oh my, ever so very much faster and powerful, as there is so much more gunpowder in a collared cartridge, and the bullets are not blunt, but pointed, apt, then, to cut through those thick panes of glass as if they weren’t even there, with the tip cutting, not pushing through, keeping the holes small. That rather nuances my thoughts about the shooter.
Some additional thoughts about the timing: As mentioned above, at the time of this pot-shot I was trying to wrap my mind around the utter, total betrayal of the Church by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity by way of its documents on ecumenical cooperation on the establishment of a text of Scripture perhaps closer to the original than what we now have. Not that that’s bad at all, but the way they did it was and is still an attempt at a “Reformation” this time from within the Church, going far beyond what the “Reformers” would ever have themselves tolerated in their own wholesale rejection of Revelation as both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition: Erasmus, Luther, et alii… This was a very dark time for me, or, really, a time so full of light that I was just a bit blinded by the radiance. People think that it was some document on justification which bothered me about ecumenical activities back in the day (and it was criticized even by most Lutherans) – and it did bother me – but instead, I was simply consumed by the darkness of the betrayal of Revelation by those who should know better, a betrayal of openly triumphalistic mockery. I know what was said, publicly or privately and by whom, about all this. I saw just how close the Church was to dropping into hell, and was very much consoled that Saint Robert Bellarmine on exactly this topic and this very point had used this very description of the Church as being about to drop straight into hell. The utter betrayal of the faith – and what I saw the consequences of this would be for untold numbers of the faithful for centuries to come – had caught up with me and was beating me down, down, down, down, down. Call me a damn fool to weep for the Church. Call me a damn fool to be beaten down by this crowd, to take it personally, to feel indignant for the Holy Spirit who provides Revelation (both written and Sacred Tradition), to feel indignant for the Incarnate Word (to whom that Revelation points), to feel indignant for the Father (who wants us to listen to His beloved Son). Call me a damn fool for caring when there were canonized saints at the time (more recently) who didn’t seem to notice or care (though they surely didn’t see the problem in all its clarity, hoodwinked as they were by those clever mockers and manipulators). Call me a damn fool. But it is what it is. This is just a personal note of a part of my personal history. I can’t change what was, what I lived, what I experienced. This was the darkest moment of my life. Seeing the Church so close to hell is not easy.

At precisely that nanosecond, the shot came crashing through the window and into the room. Had I not moved a nanosecond before this, that bullet would have blown my heart right out of my chest.

But the guy waited a nanosecond, perhaps by mistake, perhaps on purpose. Had the door jam behind which I had just slipped in that nanosecond been made of wood and sheet-rock or plaster, instead of brick (which he didn’t know), perhaps I would not be writing this. It was solid brick. I’m sure people will laugh, and say that this was simply Coincidence, blah blah blah. Maybe. Coincidence is a dang good aim, a dang good shot, at a distance, right to the heart. What are the chances? About a trillion to the power of a trillion? But that’s not the point.

It’s now almost twenty years since that happened. It only now strikes me that there’s an analogy in God’s providence to be made. I’m a bit slow with these things. It strikes me that the betrayal of the Church by those who should know better can be a bullet more deadly than any bullet shot by a mere rifle.

Character building and all that? No. What’s needed when it comes to the darkness is the light of Christ. We are just so very much nothing. He is everything. It’s all about Jesus. Only Him. How could it be otherwise?

Perhaps this is why I didn’t go near doing character development for Cardinal Frobin in Jackass for the Hour. I was just too close to all that when I wrote Jackass. See: Jackass for the Hour: Frobin in Ch. 27 & Sister Nice in Ch: 29 Weirdly, my life history, including some dramas and actual stomping grounds (exact the same places, even the same bedroom) have mirrored in detail the life of Cardinal Frobin, except, of course, for being a Cardinal. I knew people who knew him in his younger days and during his time in Rome, who knew him very well. I could and should give him a bit of character development in a future revision of the novel.

What I wanted to express in this post is something rather personal. I know I will be mocked for this walk in the darkness, as it were (know that I don’t publish all the comments that come in), and I know that I am making myself perhaps a bit too vulnerable in this way, kind of like Paul writing about his crying out to the Lord to be delivered from Satan, but, it just is what it is. I think what I’m trying to get across is that our Lord grabbed me at that very moment. Perhaps I should write about that experience. Perhaps that is important. Perhaps there are other readers who could gain some hope in seeing what happened when coming to know the Lord a bit more, that is, an increase in hope during a very dark time indeed.

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Jackass for the Hour: Frobin in Ch. 27 & Sister Nice in Ch: 29

lightning vatican holy see st peter

“I was having trouble figuring out how a Roman Catholic Cardinal could possibly say what Froben is saying. It’s as if he is speaking a different language from Father Alexámenos. If Cardinal Froben had been participating in the Joint Statement business and has pulled over to the “can’t we all just get along pretending that we agree on certain doctrines” side, it makes a little more sense.

“The differences among “Christians” seem to be more than language. Jesus Christ, Who He is and how He works in us, His Beloved Church, is the difference. And then, our response ( ….yes, we have to believe to understand, and God won’t save us without us, but His Church is given, by Jesus, the Key of knowledge, right? )”

You’re right about the Key of Knowledge being given to Jesus’ little flock. We see this in Matthew 18 contrasted to Matthew 16. Important: Papal Infallibility: The Gospel Truth (Matthew 16:19 and Matthew 18:18) I think I’m perhaps the only one to make this analysis, for two historical reasons: (1) The far reaching understanding of the “perfect” tense in New Testament Greek brought about by Ignace de la Potterie and used in his analysis of the wonderful change of name of Mary by the angel in Luke 1:28 was not something to which anyone paid attention previously; (2) No one but no one wants to go near the truth of infallibility in Matthew as this would be considered to be politically incorrect by the bullies that be.

Anyway, while the faithful do not have the gift/burden of infallibility as does Peter, both they and Peter have exactly the same opportunity to assent to the same Faith of the same Tradition as supernaturally provided by the same Holy Spirit. To put it differently in the extremely important Gethsemane of Cardinal Siri, it’s all “univocal.” Unfortunately, that book is criminally jacked up in price on Amazon, so, I guess it’s out of print. You might check with, if I remember correctly, Angelus Press. Siri’s presentation, by way of examples, is superb.

To the point: problems can enter with our understanding and assent for a variety of reasons. Difficulties are to be brought to Peter. We all free will with this assent any may not want to assent to the Faith for a variety of reasons, such as political correctness (which is always about being a bully and being our own saviors). All things being equal, we are not exempt from free will just because we are Catholic.

Having said all that, I’m quite sure that the reader knows all this better than do I. The question is really about how such a situation as a Cardinal (or for that matter in other contexts, a pope) might not be assenting to the Faith, that is, not if that is possible (such as with Judas: Arise! Let us be going! Look! My betrayer is at hand!), but rather, precisely, how it is that this can be. In other words, by what perspective is it that a Cardinal, who should know better, does not know better, or has chosen to be a bumbling political animal such as Froben).

That’s my guess as to the intent of this question as the same reader offered a comment a while back, in Chapter 7: Like a metronome, about a much more devious (in the novel) Cardinal Fidèle. There was no difficulty with the fact of him being so manipulative. The reader, with great kindness, said about the presentation of this Cardinal:

“The first part of this chapter, the description of Cardinal Fidèle and his thought-philosophy-conscience-character evolution, is a tour de force.

“Charitable depth, rare. I do believe he is based upon a real person.”

In other words, could I do with Cardinal Froben what I did for Cardinal Fidèle? That’s a tall order. The problem is that Froben and Fidèle are polar opposites. Froben is an entirely political animal in the sense of a bumbling bully looking to be a self-congratulatory “man of consensus” as they say. That’s his choice, where he’s chosen to go. Fidèle, on the other hand, is manipulative and political from an entirely perverted sincerity in that he actually does want to be wrong, but he cannot refrain from testing God, something which opens him up to demonic possession. Opposites attract. I could add all sorts of anecdotes (data, if you will) in character development for Froben, and I may just do that so that he doesn’t seem so boxed, so much like a straw man.

Froben is not a straw man. I cringe at stories to tell. I do sometimes mention them, if only by a place name that is impossibly in the story and those in the know would know exactly what I’m talking about. But I could make all that more explicit. The worst thing about Froben is not any participation in any document on justification – though he may well have rejoiced to see how this was rammed through the Holy Office – but rather his own documents on ecumenical cooperation in establishing a text of Scripture as close as possible to the original through “scientific” studies of the papyri, codices, etc. In the end, for him, as spelled out in this chapter by way of accurate summary of those documents, the importance of the inspired texts is to be reduced to that which is:

“small t” traditional, pastoral, liturgical, apologetic, sociological, organizational, cultural, political, geographical, psychological, intellectual, attitudinal or even economic.

Froben’s rejoicing in the “Principle of No Principles” and his agreement with who is said to have the “sum total of authority” is egregious.

Finally, it must be said, when it comes down to real error, there is no reasoning, no making it better, no making sense of anything. That’s why error is error. It would be “self-harming” to try to understand how error is somehow reasonable to those who run after it. Even those in error would not be able to tell you why they do what they do. They would just brow-beat you into submission. Purposed error is about power without its proper context of truth and justice and love and goodness and kindness and mercy. Purposed error is dark and lonely. How terrible. How sad.

It is better to rejoice in Him who is Lumen gentium, the Light of the Nations, the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, who – whatever “power” people think they have – will  come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire.

Did I mention fire? We’re getting closer to that as the chapters roll by.

Beware. You are warned. In chapter 29 we will meet Sister Nice in all her glory, if one can call it that. To readers not in the know, she will seem to be a mere caricature, another straw man. She does verbalize things I have heard anecdotally from those who in real life would be her colleagues. See does spit out the policies and attitudes of not a few seminaries and dioceses. She does represent accurately the insane PPF (Program for Priestly Formation of the United States Bishops Conference) with all its Pelagianism. But perhaps I could also prepare for her appearance with more references and character development throughout the novel. That would be important I think. However, to readers in the know, that is, who have actually met someone just like Sister Nice – no, really! – well, they will just have a good laugh, or cry. That Sister, in real life, did not come to a good end, but exited everything in the most catastrophic, ridiculously ironic, scandalous way possible. Nuff said. But you’ve been warned. I cringe at the thought of putting up that chapter.

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Jackass for the Hour: Two chapters

Jewish ghetto tempio maggiore san gregorio della divina pieta

Looking from across the Tiber River in Rome you see part of the Jewish Ghetto with the Tempio Maggiore. The (in)famous church of San Gregorio della divina pieta is on the lower far right of the picture. That church has a facade that is important in Chapter 28: Perfidious Jews.

It’s been a while since a chapter was published for Jackass for the Hour. Chapter 27 was just put up. That was just now followed by Chapter 28 (Perfidious Jews). The two go together. It would be good to see Rabbi Shelomoh ben Yishaq in all his glory.

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Jackass for the Hour: Chapter 28 – Perfidious Jews

palestinian donkeyJackass for the Hour: Chapter 28 – Perfidious Jews

“My dear Cardinal Froben,” said the Rabbi, “there is a difference between Redemption and, then, its reception in grace unto justification which saves. Human-sacrifice, as a bribery of appeasement of bloodthirsty gods, is from hell, and those who do it deserve hell. Placating gods with one’s ‘generosity’ and ‘submission’ is not religion, but blasphemy, a self-deluding congratulation of oneself. A merely human child, because of Adam’s sin, is not worthy to be a sacrifice of vicarious atonement. Instead, the Messiah, the Suffering Servant – and I speak as a Jew – must be innocent of all consequences of Adam’s sin, then freely take on those consequences, so that, taking our place before the judgment of the Most High, taking upon Himself the justice which awaits us as sons of Adam, and offering our Heavenly Father communion in Charity, in innocence, in goodness, He then has the right in justice, so to speak, to have mercy on us, to ask God the Father that we be forgiven. This Child-Sacrifice – fulfilling all righteousness – makes true religion possible. It reveals what religion is. The would-be sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham pointed to this truth emphatically. Since we are to be children of God, the Suffering Servant must be God, as Genesis 3,15…”

“But is your own work of assent to the Faith not also your justification?” interrupted the Cardinal, trying to win points with both Jews and Protestants.

“Please, do not insult us, your Eminence.”

“I did not intend that anyone should feel insulted. I am sorry,” said the Cardinal.

“But why are you sorry?” asked the Rabbi. “Are you sorry because you think I feel badly about something which you regret only because it makes you feel badly? Do you feel guilty because you had something to do with these feelings? I’m sick of the emotionalism of blinded consciences.” Many in the crowd applauded. They were also tired of this kind of apology-by-way-of-accusation, of belittlement of the supposed over-sensitivity and lack of intelligence of the other.

This reprimand was a new experience for the Cardinal. No one in his office had the bravery to correct him when he attacked them for his own inadequacy, and then insulted them further with the unbounded condescension of blaming them for the ‘bad feelings’ he guessed they had. “I only meant to say,” the Cardinal continued, “that it was Continue reading

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Jackass for the Hour: Chapter 27 – You will burn, burn, I say!

palestinian donkeyJackass for the Hour: Chapter 27 – You will burn, burn, I say!

As the first session of the trial continued, nearing midday, it was early morning in Port-au-Prince. The seminarians were just arriving on foot for the early morning hour of Eucharistic Adoration at the Cathedral before the Mass offered by Archbishop Pòv, as they had for almost a month. Their enthusiasm was real, grounded in Christ. With the Archbishop’s blessing, they were still working in the shantytown. By force of circumstance, because the tables had turned, père Jacques, the Rector of the seminary, was now in prison after having given himself up to the police. The Archbishop was reviewing everything at the seminary, especially the faculty and administration. He didn’t have a chance to do this previously, since he had only recently been appointed.

✵ ✵ ✵

As Cardinal Froben arrived three quarters of the way up the Hall, out of breath for having walked so quickly up the slight incline, the collective din of hushed comments became quite loud indeed. The Cardinal stopped next to the two guards who were beside the people with the banner. He asked the protesters if he could make use of it. They were happy to oblige. The Cardinal asked them to give it to the two guards, who then went with him to the stage. When they arrived, Cardinal Froben had them stretch the banner right across the stage for everyone to see, making sure it came right to the side of Father Alexámenos.

“I thought your vision might be suffering, what with those voodoo cuts under your eyes,” he said, bringing some laughter from the crowd. They had not expected such a show, and were relieved to get a break from the intense attention they had to give to the proceedings.

“Re-veal-ed… Re-li-gi-on… Sa-cri-fi-ces… Child-ren…” read Cardinal Froben ever so pedantically, unaware he was making a fool of himself. The intention of the Cardinal was to make Father Alexámenos admit to the crime of sexual abuse in Haïti.

“If priests and bishops do such things,” said Father Alexámenos, “it is because they Continue reading

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Don’t think I don’t know, oh “Shadow.” Don’t think I don’t care. Death out East.

death gaza boy 2

My “Shadow”, starting at about the time he stole my identity (I think in the late 1970s), has been rabidly, apoplectically anti-Jewish, often going into spittle-flecked nutties which don’t accomplish anything except for bringing more obfuscation to any issues. I think I should say something so he understands where I’m coming from in being proud of being Jewish, albeit a Catholic priest. My “Shadow” follows my blog rather closely. Maybe if he understands me a bit better, he’ll just calm down a bit. He says he spends all his free time analyzing the conflict in Near and Middle East. He wants Syria to take Israel out. He showed me all his computer gear and what he does. Anyway…

First of all, I don’t know the story behind these photos [incorporated into the header of this blog] other than that this seems to be a boy in Gaza who was killed by, I don’t know, the Israeli military. I don’t know if the boy had been shooting a rocket or threw a rock or just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time with those who were getting themselves into trouble or whether he was just minding his own business or learning how to make an IED or suicide vest that went off prematurely. I don’t know. I don’t know who the guy is that shot him if he died in a hale of bullets. Did that guy have a good reason? Quite possibly. But maybe it was just target practice using this kid as a target even though he was, say, just getting a drink of water. Maybe the IDF guy just that second got a phone call that informed him that his entire family had just been blown up by a suicide bomber at a street restaurant in Jerusalem on an otherwise lovely Saturday evening and was now half-crazed, wanting to take out as many non-Israelis as possible. What do I know? And for that matter, my “Shadow”, what do you know outside of the fact that you were unable to manipulate a Jewish kid in the neighborhood when we were kids in the same part of town? What I do know is that all this has affected me deeply over the years. That’s why this kid is in the header of this blog.

death gaza boy 1

What I do know that the survivors of any violence want to do something to bring violence to an end as best we can in this sorry world, either by the “dead peace” of a more prolific violence in which a lot more people of both sides die, or by seeking solutions that will bring understanding of reality to both sides. Whatever about putting into place just measures of self-defense, the understanding of reality bit is done in two ways, by words, by actions.

  • Words are not to be underestimated.
  • Doing something without thinking about what one is doing is not to be overestimated.

Regarding words, in my own little world I’m attempting a number of things.

  • One is a dialogue between Israel and the Holy See on Scripture. I never give up. That started with some key players in the Holy See and Israel now ten years ago. It’s slow going. But the currents run deep all around. This would eventually nuance some of the deepest foundations the notion of the State of Israel.
  • The other bit with words are a few chapters in Jackass for the Hour (we’re about two thirds of the way through as of the publishing of this post). Some upcoming chapters on Islam are rather straightforward about the Qur’an. And more about some things about the preparation for the coming of the Messiah (1st time done, 2nd coming up) that have to be said.

Ideas have effects. I’m sick of those who obfuscate and pander, politically correct, bringing, in the end, only more violence. All of that is a license to kill.

Regarding actions, I’ve been attempting a number of things. Primarily, there is meeting one on one with terrorists. I’ve done that on a number of occasions:

  • sometimes with only a kind of success (one guy took his own life the first second he could without taking anyone else out, and this to make sure he wouldn’t take anyone else out later, people rushing to tell me this, pretty emotional…)
  • sometimes with the success only of a delay (the kid took nine more years to be reconvinced to blow himself up at the Dolphinarium discotheque, killing 21 others)
  • sometimes getting actionable intel that is so incredibly easy to get because of the roman collar I wear. Truly. Easy. Gosh. Get a stopwatch.

People think it’s hard, but it’s not. But you do have to think waaaaay outside the box. Totally. And you can’t have any fear whatsoever, just being matter of fact and super naive. I guess not many are willing to do that. Not many at all. But a field hospital isn’t in a box; it’s in a field, is it not? You don’t always have to have people in GTMO to speak with them. They’re really open, right away, when they’re not under pressure. Really.

Another thing I’ve tried to do but which I haven’t done for years involves baiting funders of terrorism and passing that information along when the bait is taken.

Having said all that, take a look at the header again:

Who’s in the middle of the field hospital. Jesus. He’s Jewish. The Pope, yes, he’s Catholic. The boy? Probably a Muslim. It should be clear what I think is possible. With that in mind, I also say to my “Shadow” what Jesus said to the sleeping Apostles: “Arise! Let us be going! Look! My betrayer (the one who ignores the truth he comes to know) is at hand.”

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Amoris laetitia: Smokescreen for the *Principle of no Principles* in total rejection of Sacred Scripture

palestinian donkey

I’ve been distracted from the revision of Jackass for the Hour, a pre-Pope-Francis ecclesiastical novel on the murderous intrigue of interreligious politics. In the next chapter to be put up on this blog (chapter 27 – You will burn, burn I say!) there is an attempt to demonstrate how the rejection of the encyclical Humanae vitae (man and woman being the image of God, a kind of revelation) is merely a symptom of something much more fundamental in the rejection of Sacred Scripture as being part of the revelation of God. Think about that for a second. Get the connection? (1) Scripture is revelation; (2) man and woman is a kind of revelation: the “image of God” as Scripture puts it. When one rejects Scripture, it is easy to make the next step in rejecting man and woman as a kind of revelation as the “image of God.”

We’ve seen a widespread rejection of Humanae vitae, the rejection of man and woman as the image of God. We’ve seen a widespread acceptance of the ambiguity of Amoris laetitia. But few know that the Church has been subjected to a wholesale rejection of Scripture, which is the foundation upon which the rejection of Humanae vitae and the acceptance of Amoris laetitia could take place. The said rejection of Scripture has a long list of premises in the tumultuous 20th century, and culminated with documents issuing from “Ecumenism”, that is, from the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity.

Let’s do a quick review. I will try not to let my own eyes glaze over. It’s not that the subject matter is difficult to understand. It’s that seeing such betrayal of the Church at such high levels by those who should know better is so obnoxious. Let’s tough it out.

Basically, the idea was to take the early manuscripts of Scripture and subject them to scientific principles of critica textus, that analysis which attempts to determine which letter, word, phrase, sentence or other portion of a written work is more original among the various handwritten copies that have been made through the centuries, with the dating, of course, being one of the least important aspects to consider. While most of the scientific principles are reasonable, those who delve into this exercise immediately realize how easy it is to manipulate the facts into the fiction of one’s own relativism. Those weak in faith see this, and lose their faith altogether when considering differences in copies of manuscripts, becoming angry with God for allowing a situation in which we are forced not to be a “religion of the book” (since we actually really do like to manipulate the facts for our own convenience) but rather a religion that has its members belonging to a family of faith which needs Peter for guidance in appraising revelation, in other words, a family of faith which will have us die to ourselves to live for Him who is Truth and Love.

demon pan

Instead of turning to Peter, as we are bidden to do by our Lord in Matthew 18:17-18 regarding Matthew 16:18-19, some give up and sarcastically go the other way. Ironically, they then reject even the necessary scientific work and reduce the choices to be made among the variations of manuscripts to criteria which are merely – and I quote – “small t” traditional, pastoral, liturgical, apologetic, sociological, organizational, cultural, political, geographical, psychological, intellectual, attitudinal or even economic. Really truly: even economic considerations. That, my friends, is demonic. In other words, Scripture is subjected to the tyranny of relativism and the role of Peter is irrelevant. Ecumenism is reduced to making future division a certainty. It is the principle of no principles, what they themselves call the Prinzip der Prinzipienlosigkeit. This reduction is said to have the sum total of authority. Like most everything in the dialogue of Jackass for the Hour, that phrase – sum total of authority – is a direct quote, in writing, of those who should know better, but who have chosen to reject revelation, the church, and the good of mankind before God. They think that they have brought the Church to reject herself. If I remember correctly, the phrase is summam habet auctoritatem, as found in the Praenotanda of the Nova Vulgata.*

It’s the big lie. My eyes glazed over when I saw this. How about you?

Anyway, as a preparation, let’s slice out a few paragraphs in media res of the trial in the next chapter. Here we begin with Father Alexamenos explaining the matter to Cardinal Froben:

“Many think that burning the Truth is expedient for ecumenical unity. The Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity has for a long time been suppressing the Faith, suppressing Tradition, and trampling upon the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church, giving Scripture away to the Protestants, letting them decide what is or is not to be included in Scripture in view of the myriad differences in so many of the ancient manuscripts, just like an Erasmus redivivus, beginning another Reformation within the Church.”

“Our Protestant friends,” said Cardinal Froben, “use scientific knowledge of manuscript traditions which so many Roman Pontiffs have eagerly embraced…”

“Oh yes!” interrupted Father Alexámenos. “But there’s more to it than scientific input, more than what you think is “small t” traditional, pastoral, liturgical, apologetic, sociological, organizational, cultural, political, geographical, psychological, intellectual, attitudinal or even economic. Your principle of having no principles, your Prinzip der Prinzipienlosigkeit, neglects Revelation understood as Scripture and Tradition, while ignoring that Revelation has the Magisterium as its privileged custodian.

===== * Please excuse me if I here descend into sarcasm and say that those penning these prefatory notes for the New Vulgate misquoted that which was said about Druids back in the day, that there was, for all Druids, among themselves , just one who had the sum total of authority: Omnibus Druidibus praeest unus qui summam inter eos habet auctoritatem. Dropping inter eos (“among themselves”) is rather self-serving, implying that those involved with textual criticism of Scripture have more authority than does Peter. And that was the explicit, published purpose of those who began this “scientific” process of “Scripture alone” back in 1897. The fourth session of Trent and the Magisterium and Peter are to be replaced by science, by the leaders of science, those who have the sum total of authority for revelation, some Protestant self-proclaimed literary science guys. (By the way: their scientific principles have nothing on the work of Saint Jerome.) If revelation is reduced to some private interpretation of some self-proclaimed Druid guys, then man and woman as a kind of revelation as the image of God (as said in Scripture) is also just another manipulatable construct of whoever thinks of himself like a Druid having the sum total of authority over all mankind, kind of like, it seems, the ghost writer of Amoris laetitia.

=========================================

Back to Amoris laetitia as a smokescreen. Amoris laetitia obscures in all its ambiguity that man and woman are the image of God, a kind of revelation. The foundation for that ambiguity rejecting that kind of revelation of the image of God is the rejection of revelation itself. Everyone throws a tantrum about some “dialogue” volley which is Amoris laetitia (which is hurtful to the Church and the world, I know), and in so doing ignores the foundation which made Amoris laetitia possible in the first place, the rejection of revelation as revelation, the rejection of the authority of the Church, of Peter.

Do you see what has happened? People have so trumped up Amoris laetitia as some sort of infallible Magisterial statement that therefore the Church is to be said to have failed, or that Peter is therefore not infallible, and therefore the Church doesn’t exist. But Amoris laetitia is only a volley in dialogue (as it says of itself in the opening paragraphs). The much deeper rejection of Scripture needs to be addressed. I realize that that rejection of Scripture is not even a part of the ordinary Magisterium, but it is pervasive, and that pervasiveness changes the conversation, as it is said, and makes utter travesties like Amoris laetitia possible.

We’re talking about society-changing realities here. The Reformation rejected Scripture with its “Scripture alone” and “private interpretation” rubbish. The textual criticism of Scripture as cut off from Peter was the primary objective. The counter-Reformation was all about textual Criticism being united with Peter. The rejection of Peter and Scripture brought the violence of the Thirty Years War, a genocidal rebellion taking out thirty to fifty percent of the population across Europe. Couple that with today’s mirror effort along with the rejection of man and woman as the image of God and what do you expect will happen?

That’s why the subtitle to Jackass for the Hour is The murderous intrigue of interreligious politics.

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Jackass for the Hour: Memories!

One of the more outrageous characters in Jackass for the Hour is pere Jaques, you remember him, the one with the camera and the pictures of Father Alexamenos. Couldn’t happen you say? I did make up that detail of the novel for the sake of the story. Even I think it’s a bit much. Until just now…

As I now, finally, look over the next chapter of Jackass for the Hour to put up, a sentence popped out about the crowd in the Paul VI Audience Hall at the trial perhaps not being convinced any longer that the photos of Father Alexamenos were conclusive.

For all these chapters I’ve republished on the blog in these past weeks I had not recalled something that happened years after I had finished the first edition of Jackass for the Hour now more than a dozen years ago. What had happened was quite a few more years closer to our own day and had to do with, well, we’ll nickname him Father Jaques, that not being his real name. I had not even thought of this while Father Jaques was doing what he was doing, that is, what I had already written about in Jackass for the Hour.

This fellow claimed he had a camera with pictures about untoward behavior he was accusing others of committing. Knowing this fellow to be a breathless drama queen, I immediately went on an offensive defense and made a big deal of this claim. This scared him altogether, and he remain scared. There was a kind of trial of those he was accusing, but he’s the one who came out looking like a total jerk. He fessed up that there was no camera, no pictures, no reason for him to say what he did. All a nuclear explosion.

He was on a crusade. I remember Father Gordon writing about this once: Be Wary of Crusaders! The Devil Sigmund Freud Knew Only Too Well.

And now I think of other incidents with cameras… Goodness gracious… This is why I like to write things. It helps my memory and keeps me sharp in remembering things in sharp detail. What a fright.

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Jackass for the Hour: Still hesitating…

jackass for the hour

When I had a pseudonym (short lived and I fessed up pretty quickly)

“Surely, no one is going to read your book who needs to read it anyway, so, you know what I mean, like, why bother?…”

Yikes! O.K. So, that hurts, kinda like, as one reader put it, water off a duck’s back, which doesn’t hurt. I’m sure that wasn’t aimed at me, but at the ineptitude of those who need to get some matters explained to them.. But, it doesn’t matter. For me, it’s not a waste of time even if no one reads it. Why’s that, you ask? Thanks for asking. Here’s the answer:

  • As I’ve said before, but that was apparently missed, so very much that the story line is wrapped around refers to accurately paraphrased or verbatim citations of speeches, articles, or conversations in which I’ve participated with key players, instigators, string pullers, who have become characters in the book. They already know exactly what the response is and remain furious, or have now passed along and know the fuller truth of the matter better than I or any other human could explain it to them.
  • When I was a kid, I think I had many traits of autism and I think I still retain some. One of those traits is total entrenchment into whatever. I just don’t let go. It’s like I can’t let go. I think of the famous or infamous (depending on your point of view) CIA analyst nicknamed in Zero Dark Thirty as Maya. It just helps me to write about stuff. I write because I want to write. I like what I like. De gustibus

Let me give you an example about the paragraph or two in the next chapter to go up of Jackass for the Hour, which involves the underappreciated character (for some) of Jacinta, as she speaks about Catherine of Siena.

That particular conversation about Catherine, just to say, is the the summary of conversations of many years (about ten years) with a priest who already knows exactly what the truth of the matter is and hates the truth. He wants to mock Catherine and Jesus and hates that I’ve figured him out. This because “a thing” where I was staying (I lived at the same place as that guy), so much so that his behavior of threats against me, made in public, was stunning to those who saw it. Just a few things about him:

  • He’s not solely responsible for it, but over the decades, because of his influence, he’s had a terribly big role to play in the downfall of seminaries in many episcopal conferences. That’s saying a lot.
  • He’s held to be THE authority on the spiritual life by pretty much everyone right around the world.
  • He’s got an iron grip on much of the Catholic publishing world and vowed that if I ever said anything about Saint Catherine of Sienna, to defend her on that particular point, he would make sure that his long arm followed me right around the world so as to block me from being published on anything, theology, Scripture, liturgy, spiritual life, whatever. The problem is that he has the ear of most publishers, personally, from left all the way to center-right.

So, even on sub-plot points like that – terribly brief as they are – there’s really very much behind them, and they are, in fact, far reaching and important to the life of the Church. People are like this. These are even real characters and influential players (as I call them) in the Church. They would do well to read the points contained in Jackass for the Hour but they already know exactly what the truth of the matter is, over years and years.

I just like to write. If some people don’t like that, or think it’s a waste of time, well, too bad. I’m just little me, a donkey-priest that you can call a jackass. I’m happy with that.

I wish I could tell you who in the Papal Apartments has read and enjoyed the first edition of Jackass for the Hour and heartily encouraged me to write more, even commanding that I continue to write. Many times. “You must continue to write. You must.” Then again. And again. That is still the case. Not only was I not corrected on any point, it was said and repeated many times that there is amazement that the book accurately portrays exactly what is going on in so many areas of the Church. That’s just the way it is. I’ve been in Rome perhaps way too long.

When Sister Nice comes along in the book I’m sure there will be such a reaction that I will have to repeat a post like this with all my little autobiographical points of conversations with key players, etc. But, O.K.

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Riddle of dark? Catherine’s Kryptos

saint catherine of siena

In the next chapter of Jackass for the Hour we will meet up with Jacinta at Mater Ecclesiae Monastery once again, this time at community recreation. There is a discussion of Isaiah’s Kryptos, so to speak, that is, Jesus’ Kryptos, Saint Paul’s Kryptos, and now Catherine of Sienna’s Kryptos. This is not easy. Almost no one in the world will look at this. No one wants to solve the riddle. Can you, will you want to, solve this riddle. Here are some hints:

  • Saint Paul, in 1 Corinthians 2:9, does interpret Isaiah 6:4-10 – cited in Matthew 13:15, in Acts 28:27, et al. (thoughout the Old and New Testaments) – by saying it is by way of the love of God, by way of the crucified Lord of glory, that we see and hear and understand, not by ourselves.
  • Paul is accurate, says our Lord – as Saint Catherine relates – so much so that “questo parbe che volesse dire Paulo,” so much so that “this seems to be what Paul wanted to say,” that is, as if it were Paul’s own revelation, Paul’s own knowledge, Paul’s very own desire. But a blasphemer might say that our Lord Jesus was Himself simply making an attempt to guess what Paul meant, because, you know, Jesus really didn’t know.
  • In other words, Paul was so transformed by grace, that it was as if Paul spoke on his own authority. Yet, in this passage, the most erudite of all academic Pharisees himself happily admits that he is speaking by the power of God and the revelation of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was not conjecturing about what it seems to Him that Paul wanted to say, as if Jesus were Paul’s student: “In my opinion it seems to me that Paul wanted to say this…” Jesus was rather confirming just how correct Paul’s words were, for they were actualized in Paul’s life with the grace of Jesus, the power of God, and the revelation of the Holy Spirit. Paul was perfectly attuned to the grace of God that opened his eyes, unstopped his ears, pierced open his heart.

Is the vocation of Isaiah and Jesus and Saint Paul to make hearts heavy and ears stopped up and eyes blind and minds dull so that no one whomsoever will of themselves turn to be saved? Yes.

What? What a second. Isn’t that what we are supposed to do? No. Really not.

So, why not? Figured it out yet?

This is The Kryptos of Catherine of Sienna. Can you figure it out?

 

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Jackass for the Hour: Chapter 26 – Revealed religion sacrifices children

palestinian donkeyJackass for the Hour: Chapter 26 – Revealed religion sacrifices children

By 10:00 A.M., the Paul VI Audience Hall was filled to its capacity of thousands upon thousands. Everyone was on their feet, speaking more loudly even as the din became more deafening.

Cardinal Francisco’s secretary, adept at deescalation, quietly said, “We welcome our visitors here today, representatives of the media, delegations from various religious groups, and others who desire to advance the common good as well as the particular good of the individuals who have a special interest in this case. We will begin with a prayer.” The noise level increased with many of those present asking each other with sarcasm what they were to do with the threat of a prayer being imposed upon them.

The Cardinal thought it best to begin with ‘multi-cultural’ praise, certain that clarity would offend disparate sensitivities. Besides the wide variety of nationalities of those present, there were many Jews and Muslims in the Hall. Ignoring the new artwork framing the stage, the Cardinal lapsed into semi-Pelagianism, saying, “Future Omega Point of the cosmos, we are at one this morning, invigorated by our dialogue and enthused by the common purpose of sharing our lives with each other. We praise you for helping us to be one with the cosmos, one with you, forever and ever…” He didn’t add ‘Amen’, as this was Hebrew, just another language, but one which was likely to be considered non-inclusive. The Cardinal sat down. Most in the crowd stared at him blankly. Others, for whom such nonsense was their usual weekend fare, said ‘Amen’. Everyone sat down, causing a wave of noise to roll up the sloping floor of the cavernous auditorium.

“The proceedings of the trial of Father…” began the Cardinal, unable to finish his sentence. A banner had been unfurled by a group of demonstrators during the opening ‘prayer’. It stretched halfway across one side of the Hall, in the middle of the crowd, behind the reporters. Those holding up the banner had begun to chant the slogan printed upon it in large red letters.

The cameras swept around to get a closeup of the banner: “Revealed Religion Sacrifices Children.” There were smaller words below these proclaiming that the group’s members were abuse survivors. A multitude of guards swept down upon the protestors, but they were kept at bay by multiple rows of people on all sides of the banner, all of them obviously belonging to the same group. Their chanting of the slogan was picked up by many others. Mayhem reigned.

Cardinal Fidèle looked content, but Cardinal Francisco was hitting his gavel on the table, which only annoyed the crowd. Father Alexámenos leaned forward into his microphone and said, “No! Let them stay. Let them hold up their banner. You must let them have a voice.”

The guards looked to Cardinal Francisco for direction. “We are so pleased to have you with us to share your concerns,” he said. The protesters sat down, continuing to hold the banner open. After this, only two sets of two guards remained in the aisles to either side of the group.

“The proceedings of the trial of Father Alexámenos,” Cardinal Francisco repeated, “will now commence. The defendant is accused of Continue reading

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Jackass for the Hour: note on revision (update on British English, or not)

jackass for the hour

Original cover of Jackass for the Hour for which, at the time, a pseudonym was employed.

/// UPDATE: When I originally wrote this in the mid-2000s, I used the pen-name above, pretending further that the author was himself from northern Benin and was having difficulty learning English, that is, British English. I’m very evil and bad. I had reasons for using a pseudonym at the time. A very nice retired school teacher in England helped correct my usages to polish up my British English, that is, non-American English. There are British spellings throughout. Some of you have caught some. I am enthralled you have not noticed the others. For instance, the spelling of verbs uses an “s” and not a “c”, but a “c” can be used where Americans use an “s” in a noun, such as “defense” for Americans but “defence” for the U.K. If a future revision to thoroughly bring the book up-to-date” takes place, and if a publisher can be found, if that publisher is American based, they might want to change all the spellings and grammar over to American ways. /////

It’s not that there’s a real revision in progress as the chapters are put up again on Arise! Let us be going! I appreciate the corrections coming in by comments or email regarding spelling / grammatical errors. Sometimes I don’t know if sometimes fiercely critical comments about the plot or characters are baiting me to give spoilers, but I’ll remain steadfast in not doing so. It’s not that the points made are out of date, though perhaps the book does lack some modern context under the papacy of Pope Francis, yet, even in the diversity of various Pontiffs, it is nevertheless truth that quite exactly the same problems exist today as they did just a few years ago. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

What I wanted to say just now, at this point, after many of the last chapters and before some of the following chapters, is that some of the dialogue on the mouths of some of the characters, particularly the Cardinals, may seem to be particularly inane, whether about Scripture, ecumenism, anything about dialogue that is “interreligious”, anything to do with the infamous Sister Nice (what a fright she is!), etc. However – and I am truly sorry to say this – the characters, even Sister Nice (no, really), while occasionally put in dramatic situations for the sake of the story line, have sayings on their lips which are often verbatim coming from Cardinals or others working in the Roman Curia or those in like situations, sometimes taken right from their own speeches published by Vatican Radio by other means of communication of the Holy See, or in other sources, gleaned before they could be taken down, if they have been, or from eye witnesses, or from what I myself have witnessed in my decades in Rome.

This is the darkness in which we live. There are not a few with so very much hubris that they have claimed – in print – that they have conquered, that no one of the rest of us of the great unwashed will ever be able to figure out how much they have duped us, how the direction and doctrine of the Church will be forever changed by what they have have been able to accomplish, coming at things as they have in so many ways with so many nuances with so many various angles of approach from so very many directions. That’s what they think.

The book is a statement to them all that their mind games are instantaneously cut through and exposed by love which is truth (which none of us has of his own), that is, in the same way in which Jesus answered the mind game temptations Satan put to Him in those 40 days in the desert, always answering with love and respect for His dear Heavenly Father.

I know that there will be those who will be extremely critical of the next chapters going up, but, what can I say except that they should wait to see how they will be even more offended as each chapter comes along, as points are developed, at characters develop, as the plot thickens, etc. It is a novel, after all. Have some patience. Have some forgiveness for poetic license. ;-)

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Jackass for the Hour: Chapter 25 – You look like such a jackass, just so useless

palestinian donkeyJackass for the Hour: Chapter 25 – You look like such a jackass, just so useless

Shaykh al-Hasan’s promised ‘mosquitos’, which were actually homemade, man-powered, ultra-light aircraft, had proceeded just above the waves toward Plum Island’s soon to be replaced NBAF. There were four operators. Two of them, well practised snipers, were now above the central bioterrorism research facility whose presence at the compound had always been vociferously denied. The snipers had just neutralized the guards outside the target building, knowing their schedules to the second. They then started dropping explosives around the target and nearby buildings as a diversion until they were killed, or until they killed themselves, as per their plan. Another bomb exploded just as another operative landed on a predetermined part of the complex, destroying part of the roof. The last of the group landed next to this hole in the roof just as the military island was alarmed to enter war mode. As he landed, he simultaneously threw himself into the gaping hole, deep into the building. He alone wore what looked to be a wet suit complete with air tanks. He had attached himself to his aircraft by a thin, retractable cable complete with winch before lifting off from the small barge they had rented the day before. The cable broke his fall and, before twenty seconds had passed, having obtained what he wanted, he was already departing from the facility in his ultra-light aircraft, returning to the barge. When the first two commandos saw that he was far enough away, they, as planned, blew themselves up in earth-rocking explosions at two other points next to the facility. Within thirty seconds, the remaining terrorist, now passing high over the beach, pressed a button on his phone, which he then destroyed and threw into the water. This had caused their rented barge, a half-kilometre offshore, to explode so forcefully that the shockwaves almost made his ultra-light aircraft stall. He detached the cable tying him to the aircraft and proceeded to the remains of the barge. What was left of it was burning, along with three Coast Guard gun boats which had surrounded it. He dropped into the water in the midst of the wreckage and, making use of the scuba gear a second time, swam down until he found the diving motor they had anchored to the bottom. Continue reading

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Jackass for the Hour: Chapter 24 – Is that the way a priest should act?

palestinian donkeyJackass for the Hour: Chapter 24 – Is that the way a priest should act?

“Do you remember my wedding pictures?” asked the commander.

“Sure,” Eliyahu replied. “The lesson was… Don’t trust anyone! But that’s old news.”

“We have a prisoner for you to guard, Eliyahu.”

“So, I’m being demoted?” asked the young soldier.

“Only if you fail,” came the quick reply. “He’s really very cunning.”

✵ ✵ ✵

Father Alexámenos and the old Rabbi walked off the plane together, with Father Alexámenos bringing the carry-on luggage for the Rabbi. They went through the passport control together. The passport officer looked for just a second at Father Alexámenos, and then at the computer screen in front of him. With an on-edge forced boredom look to his face – which anyone with situational awareness can spot a mile away – he glanced back at Father Alexámenos and, while already looking at the person behind Father Alexámenos, flipped him his passport. Father Alexámenos went through and waited for the Rabbi, who was being delayed. Looking back at the kiosk, he saw that the agent was making a phone call. “And so it begins,” thought Father Alexámenos with a sinking feeling in his stomach. Continue reading

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Jackass for the Hour: Chapter 23 – So, that’s your problem?

palestinian donkeyJackass for the Hour: Chapter 23 – So, that’s your problem?

As Father Alexámenos and Rabbi Shelomoh continued to speak, the Muhammadan, no longer listening, sent his email to Shaykh al-Husayn, a member of what had for a long time been Europe’s largest Mosque and Cultural Centre, built with Saudi oil money near the Vatican so as to spit on Pope Saint Pius V’s ‘Rosary Victory’ over the Muhammadans at Lépanto, during the height of the Ottoman Empire, just after Elizabeth I of England was excommunicated.

Shaykh al-Husayn was well placed, being Albanian by birth, Catholic by Baptism, Muslim by apostasy, and ‘advisor’ by professional history in the Arabian peninsula. He was a ‘trophy convert’ on show. Brilliant at public relations and proselytism, he gave school children praying-tours of the mosque, delighting in ‘catechising’ them in Islam as they bowed down to Allah. His belligerently anti-Catholic attitude upset Catholic students of interreligious dialogue, which is not easy to do.

Shaykh al-Husayn read the email which he had just received from the flight to Rome. He would have deleted it had it not confirmed what was just coming on the television screen in his office. The news report included the images of Father Alexámenos, complaining that he was already on a flight to Rome. He was being accused of fleeing justice. The email was from a member of the mosque, and gave the details of the flight number, something the television reports had not yet done. The email mentioned the news report about Haïti, but centred on the discussion Father Alexámenos was having with one whom the Muhammadan had mistakenly taken to be the Chief Rabbi of Rome. “Can you not do something about the interference of this priest?” asked the Muhammadan in his email. “He is inciting Jews and Catholics to declare war on Muslims, as if we all lived in Jericho when it was taken more than three thousand years ago. Since Italy and the Holy See treat Islam nicely, it’s easy to put pressure on them, especially for you. He’s to be punished for his crimes in Haïti, and then suffer the punishment for his words against Islam.”

Shaykh al-Husayn clicked on the audio file sent with the email. He knew Hebrew better than the Jews, he thought. He listened in disbelief as he heard the priest describe his understanding of the Qur’anic version of Abraham’s would-be child-sacrifice of his son and, then, the Rabbi’s question about whether or not the continuing slaughter of the Palestinians was divinely mandated to this day. Shaykh al-Husayn sat back in his chair. He decided not to respond to the email. He did, however, like the idea about making an official protest. This had to be handled by diplomats in Saudi Arabia in conjunction with the other Arab states. Involving the one they thought was the Chief Rabbi of Rome was too dangerous to ignore, especially since this Rabbi was such good friends with Pope Tsur-Ēzer, also a Jew. “After all,” he thought, “if Jews and Christians want another crusade…” A wave of anger overwhelmed Shaykh al-Husayn, which was followed by a wave of regret, for so many might die fighting a crusade.

That Father Alexámenos had stayed in the Catholic Nunciature made matters worse. Even a CIA agent was volunteering information on the television about Father Alexámenos. Shaykh al-Husayn thought it looked like preemptive damage control. The agent called Father Alexámenos stupid for having taken the liquor he gave to him, which was only meant to pry information out of the priest about the priest himself. Despite it being past midnight, Shaykh al-Husayn rang the diplomats in Saudi Arabia, now his longtime friends. Continue reading

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Jackass for the Hour: Chapter 22 – Sag niemals nie! Never say never!

palestinian donkeyJackass for the Hour: Chapter 22 – Sag niemals nie! Never say never!

Before Father Alexámenos answered, the Rabbi continued with an intensity his priest friend enjoyed so much it all almost set him to laughing, wishing all his interlocutors had the intelligence and, he suspected, the streak of mischievousness of the Rabbi. “The Old Covenant must effectively be replaced by the New Covenant inasmuch as the Old is to be fulfilled and transformed in the New. The Old Covenant cannot be salvific on its own, even before any Messiah comes, for the Old had to look forward to the New, which fills it with Life back in the day. Time is not a barrier to its Creator. If the view is that the New has come, the Old must necessarily become sterile, even if it is not purposely cut off from the New, and no matter how much God respects the sincerity of Jews who do not even know what Christianity is. In that case, God gives grace to the Jews simply as His gratuitous gift, but not because God makes valid what cannot be made valid in the Old Covenant except in its present day fulfilment in the New.” Since Father Alexámenos did not interject, the Rabbi continued: “Your Cardinal Froben, nevertheless, gives us the lowest common denominator of no one having any covenant, telling us, absurdly, that both the Old and the New Covenant can be salvific at the same time. If the Old Covenant doesn’t look forward to the New, it is not actually the Old Covenant we are talking about, and if the New Covenant doesn’t fulfil the Old, it is not actually the New Covenant we are talking about. Two independent, salvific covenants are two other religions, neither Jewish or Catholic. Froben and his kind must stop insulting our intelligence. Tell me you understand!”

“Rabbi, I know exactly what you are…”

“Do you?” pressed the Rabbi.

“I regret,” said Father Alexámenos, “that Cardinal Froben has scandalously claimed that our aim in a dialogue is not to come into any kind of communion or unity, but simply to improve constantly those relationships and to work together. What he says is not what the Church nor I believe. I’m for unity in Charity and Truth. Saint Paul goes out of his way to say that…”

“I wonder about your regret,” interrupted the Rabbi, “Your Saint Paul makes it clear that he loves the Jews,” said the Rabbi, “but Froben and those like him do not seem to know who Paul of Tarsus is. They take every opportunity to send us to Auschwitz again. Take that document on the Shoah…”

“In reading that document, I just couldn’t believe that…” Father Alexámenos began to say.

“You Catholics,” interrupted the Rabbi, “speak of Continue reading

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Filed under Interreligious dialogue, Jackass for the Hour, Jewish-Catholic dialogue, Missionaries of Mercy