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Those three letters

In Greek, meaning the One who is being.

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Conquering the world flesh and devil with the cross and Jesus

My hero Pope Sixtus V (but am I his favorite son?) put this up with the cross in top and these bits at the base:

I had a good chat with a guy who was finding a great deal of consolation in these words. That should tell you something about the suffering he was in. But a good chat. A real connection.

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Once in a super blue

This picture was taken between Holy Hours of the two churches in our parish early Easter Sunday morning. Its a super-blue. Rare. But, really, there’s nothing new under the sun, even a super-blue, except for the Son of our heavenly Father who says, behold I make all things new. He’s ever ancient, ever new, always awesome. We’ll already realize this here just a little bit, then in purgatory much more, and then, being drawn through the gates of heaven…

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Resurrexit sicut dixit! Alleluia! Surrexit Dominus vere! Alleluia!

The scene at 6:00 AM at the parish, Easter morning, early.

Happy Easter to ye all.

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Holy Saturday with “Jerry Miculek” of our parish. Un-holy-ing this Saturday?

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Here he is, setting up some targets for a variety of OLD shotguns that I was supposed to shoot, full bottles of Coke, upside down.  I learned a lot about the benefits of a shotgun with buck shot. I had no idea. I know nothing about shotguns. He wanted me to shoot all six bottles within four seconds. You have to pump it to reload it. I got all six, but not within four seconds. He then told me what that would mean in a competition. That really put me in my place. Now I know.

The other targets down the way, some smaller than others, were for rifles and pistols of all kinds. One included a rifle from the 1880s, way back in the day. That one had a “safety” that put your trigger finger on the trigger as you swung it down into the trigger guard, you know, because that’s safe.

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One of the pistols was a S&W 357, which is a 9mm with a heck of a lot more gunpowder as it has been called. Actually, the rifle from the 1880s shot black gunpowder, quite the rarity these days. The 357 was as smooth as ever, as revolvers are, especially compared to pistols. He got that one from a State Trooper, who had had the trigger fixed. A glock has about 5 pounds of trigger pull. This 357 had two ounces. You could hardly look at it without it going off. I hear that that State Trooper was the one to beat at the range. I wouldn’t ever want to fix a trigger. The heavier the pull the better if you ask me.

There have been some difficulties with my Glock. I shot it a bit and he noted that it would regularly mis-load, mis-fire, and jam up on the ejection of the cartridge. He tried it. Same thing. He put the mis-fires into the 357. They fired just fine in that gun. I thought it was me the whole time. He said that that wasn’t the case. The super famous gun wasn’t as good as I thought it was. He suggested that I either fix it, which might cost the amount I could sell it for at this stage, if fixing was possible, or get something else. He’s no Glock fan. I guess I’m not either now. I’m looking at Sig. I’m open to suggestions.

Back to Holy Saturday. The walk through a history of guns by firing the guns brought a history of violence of our fallen human race to mind, the conflicts, the rancor… but not only that, also the heroism and self-sacrifice of those who serve in law enforcement and the military. People step into this violence also with good and holy intentions. Guns are just tools. I’m quite sure that some of those guns saw a lot of death. Lots of bad stuff, but surely lots of good stuff too. But what is good suffers no matter what when there is bad. It’s all hell. That hell has to be faced.

Jesus stepped into hell for us… for us who are guilty, bad, the worst. And then He breathed His last. Holy Saturday.

Jesus fought against the entire history of hell in our wold and against our sin. If we are available for the defense of the innocent against unjust aggression putting ourselves at risk, well, I should hope we do that not only with the best of intentions but also with the love of God within us. I think of the guy down in the Florida school shooting who simply threw himself in front of the bullets so that others might live. Awesome. I wish he had had a gun available to him. Sometimes people feel dirty just at the mentions of guns. I wonder what they would feel like to be next to Jesus on the cross, watching Him draw ungrateful sinners to Himself, the whole lot of sinful humanity. Jesus didn’t mind being dirty, in the battle, in the midst of all that is bad and evil. Neither should we as we sit beside His tomb…

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Jesus goes to hell. Of course he does. Itinerary Good Friday Holy Saturday.

jesus peaches to fallen spirits

//// We say in the creed every Sunday – before we say that Jesus rose from the dead – that Jesus descended into hell. Of course we do, because he did, as the good book says. See 1 Peter 3:19ff. In context, it’s pretty much what is depicted above. Jesus goes to proclaim the good news to those who all were fallen but who He redeemed and saved. But not only. For those continuing in disobedience would also hear, including the fallen angels, the demons, Satan. I know one priest who wrote on this passage for his doctorate at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, getting full honors. He says that the main audience was the fallen angels, who would carry these words of Jesus through eternity to their eternal intellectual frustration, a writhing agony that is unspeakable. Anyway: here’s the meditation of an author way back in what, the 2nd century perhaps, for Holy Saturday and this preaching of Jesus. It says homily, but, of course, there is no Mass on Holy Saturday if not the later Easter Vigil (not this). I’m guessing this is a final preparation for the catechumens: ////

From an ancient homily on Holy Saturday
(PG 43, 439, 451, 462-463)

The Lord descends into hell

Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.

For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

 

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Homily 2018 03 30 – Good Friday and the Silence of God. Oh my…

holy sepulcher

Too long of a homily, so, just some bullet points:

  • God’s Word, His Son, becomes Incarnate so as to forgive our sin in all mercy but by way of justice, He taking on the punishment for our sin, death, the innocent for the guilty, so that He might have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us.
  • We ask in our idiocy: “Where is God? Why is He silent?” But we don’t mean it. We don’t want to hear God speak to us. That’s why we killed him.

  • Jesus’ corpse answers with silence that screams out His love for us so loudly that our reaction so as not to hear Him is to distract ourselves with such noise that can’t hear His silence speaking to us from the tomb. We seal ourselves off from everything and everyone, especially Jesus in His eloquent silence, through alcohol and drugs and distractions which really cost us lots of money. When I mentioned in my homily about the distractions which really cost us lots of money, there were very many who laughed.
  • When we finally hear the silence of God, of Jesus, in the tomb, speaking His love for us, He having heard us, He coming to the rescue with a mercy founded on justice, doing it the right way, with God knowing what suffering and death means, when we are stunned finally by the goodness and kindness of Jesus right to the end, perhaps then we can say in all the unearthly silence with His blood all over us – along with the soldier who had just shoved his spear into the side, into the Heart of Jesus: “Truly this was the Son of God.” That is: Truly this is the Son of God who hears us and speaks to us so eloquently from the tomb.

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Adam below the Cross on Calvary

crucifix traditional

I’m sure you’ve seen the skull and cross bones on traditional crucifixes. That’s Adam being redeemed by the New Adam. “James T” on stackexchange says this:

According to Emmanouela Grypeou and Helen Spurling (The Book of Genesis in Late Antiquity, Brill 2013, p71ff), the earliest Christian reference to this idea is Origen (c. 184-253), who traces it to Jewish tradition:

Concerning the place of the skull, it came to me that Hebrews hand down [the tradition that] the body of Adam has been buried there; in order that ‘as in Adam all die’ both Adam would be raised and ‘in Christ all will be made alive’. (Commentary on Matthew, 27.32, original in Greek; later Latin translation here does not mention any Jewish tradition)

Essentially the same story is recounted by:

  • A text of c.325-350 attributed, probably falsely, to Athanasius of Alexandria (c.297-373)
  • John Chrysostom (c.347-407) in a homily on John’s gospel, 19:16, says “Some say that Adam died there, and there lies; and that Jesus in this place where death had reigned, there also set up the trophy.”
  • A fifth or sixth century commentary on Isaiah, attributed, again probably falsely, to Basil the Great (329-379)
  • Epiphanius of Salamis (c.310-403) in his Panarion 46.5, against the Tatianists, says Adam “was buried there, on the site of Golgotha. This is probably the way the place, which means ‘Place of a Skull’, got its name, since the contour of the site bears no resemblance to a skull.”
  • Basil of Seleucia (d. 458) in his Sermon 38 (Patrologia Graeca 85.409)
  • Jerome (347-420) in his commentaries on Matthew 27:33 and Ephesians 5:14, both written in 398; though he finds the story doubtful.

Even at this stage of Christian history, there was some doubt about the archaeological truth of the story, despite its tempting doctrinal resonance (Christ as the second Adam).

Whatever with all that, I think this has to do with a certain rock to be found in the crevice atop the rocky knoll of the quarry where the cross was inserted to give it stability. In that chapel built above that rocky knoll in the Church of the Resurrection (The Holy Sepulcher) in the old city of Jerusalem, there is an altar over the spot. Underneath that altar there is an opening in the floor and a fairly deep hole. If you go down on your knees and crawl under that altar, you can reach down into this hold and touch the rock below. Having done that, camera ever in hand, I also took a picture. It seems to me that the apt tradition about Adam being buried here came from this rock. And I don’t think anyone back in the day ever thought for a second that this was Adam himself, but that this rock lent itself to being a great reminder of why Christ Jesus had to redeem us.

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Meanwhile, longtime readers will be acquainted with Brake-Man (another symbolic symbol of the Adam of olden day), who is not particularly in his glory, nor should he be before the Friday we call Good.

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Update: Chrism Mass & little kid artists *Je suis un enfant terrible* Kryptos!

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At first, just the first part of this post was put up in favor of eliciting some art-appreciation comments from readers. Really fantastic comments came in: Chrism Mass and little kid artists… I hesitate, therefore, to put up my always way too imaginative perspective, but I am the way I am, and I can’t be anyone else, so, here goes nothing. The following two paragraphs are the entirety of that post; what follows after is the update.

//// The little kid artists at Sacred Heart school were again tasked this year with coming up with original one of a kind place-mats for the meal for the priests after the Chrism Mass. Not looking at the place-mats, I just sat down any old place and then, oh my, took in this well thought out prophesy-prayer place-mat. Nothing is coincidental, is it? I showed this later to the neighbor at the hermitage and he got all choked up, as did I. He prays for priests all the time…

Here’s my take on this, some random thoughts. Of course, I’m just reading into whatever I want, but it’s my place-mat, right? :-) It’s all probably just geometric designs. But since I have a very active imagination (which can be a good thing), follow me in my art appreciation. We’ll end up in… ////

…a Libyan prison… um… in my imagination!

  • The point of view of the artist, guessing the perspective of the priest looking on, is very specific. In my imagination anyway, we’re looking out the window of a plane in a steep climb right after lifting up from the runway. About the only airport in the world like this is Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, because…
  • With the blue on either side, not above, mind you, I’d say we’re looking at the Potomac and Four Mile Run rivers to either side of Arlington National Cemetery.
  • Why’s that? Where else but in just such a cemetery do you see paved roads through green grass? Those buried there laid down their lives for their fellow man, the greatest love ever. That would be a good state of soul for priests, would it not? And there is kind of a patriotic theme of sorts.
  • And then there’s the central scene, which the artist has ably zeroed us in on. It’s a prophesy for the priest and the wish of the artist, who is a tremendous theologian. He depicts the Holy Mass, the Last Supper, the Sacrament, as united with the Sacrifice on Calvary: both the Chalice with the Blood being poured out along with the Body being handed over as united with the Cross of Calvary. Great, that. Stunning. His wish is that God protects and serves, protects and blesses the priest. I’m guessing this all has provenance in a LEO family, a military family, a family that flies a lot, also up to DC. (Such an imagination I have!) Anyway, the protection is the very presence of Jesus, the blessing is, mind you, the blessing of the Cross. The idea is that the priest needs that particular kind of protection and blessing.
  • In the background of the Cross and Eucharistic Sacrifice there are 21 stripes, red and white, 12 red (the number of Apostles), red being for the Apostles and for martyrdom, interspersed with the white of purity. One recalls the two crowns of martyrdom and purity that our Lady offered to Maximilian Kolbe. He took both.
  • But then the red stripes also look like prison bars, don’t they? This comes to mind from Father Gordon MacRae (about) at TheseStoneWalls, with which I help him really a lot.

GORDON MACRAE

  • And maybe a prison where there is a lot of violence (what with the red), as with hostages… O.K., I only think of that because I was once being taken in the Jordan valley by bunch of thugs until their main guy told them to let me go… memories…

charles de gaulle airport tunnel terminal

And then I remembered a three part dream I had on three successive nights in early October 2017, not a nightmare by any stretch, but not pleasant, a detailed dream. After being abducted into a van (first dream) and transferred through Charles de Gaulle airport outside of Paris (second dream), I ended up before a kind of makeshift military tribunal in Libya, the proceedings being filmed and the judge’s face being especially detailed (third dream), who I was able to look up. I wrote about those dreams months ago: Update (prequel): Nightmare, two nights in a row now [So, three nights] This is what happens when you have a really active imagination. Good for entertainment. I bet you were wondering how we would end up in Libya.

After all that… back to reality… What we have is an admonition to the priest to be open to the reception of blessing and protection from Jesus, whose superabundant divine mercy endures for ever. Amen.

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Jesus is delusional paranoid possessed. Damned if you do or don’t. Hah!

JESUS I AM

Jesus: “Why are you trying to kill me?”

Crowd: “You are possessed! Who is trying to kill you?”

Jesus: “I performed one work and all of you are amazed because of it.”

Stare at that for just a bit. See John 7:19ff. And this deadly death-mongering over-amazement in the all waaaaay toooo interesting Jesus was common. Can you think of other instances where Jesus is said to be possessed or delusional or paranoid, where He’s called names? It was common in His day. And it’s common today.

Here’s the deal: Jesus just said it like it was, and people said, effectively, “To hell with you, you damn preacher-man. We’re going to kill you. No one is trying to kill you! But we’re going to kill you.”

Interesting. Jesus is the most interesting Priest in the world. Kill Him!

Anyone who is at all trying to be at least a little bit faithful to the Most High should recognize this lockstep dynamic in his life and, because of that, in our lives.

I remember a scene at the Pontifical Josephinum Seminary up in Ohio some years ago when, sitting with a half dozen of the seminarians for lunch, someone asked a question which, to answer, I recounted an anecdote that went right to whatever point it was that was being made. Half-way through that historical account, one of the seminarians, to the embarrassment of the others, stood up and, with arms flailing, eyes wide, complained really quite loudly that this was all just too much, too impossible:

“No one can have that many experiences in his life. It’s just not possible. You’re making all that up.”

And here I thought that that particular account was really pretty boring, whatever it was. Anyway, off he went, effectively killing me off, so to speak. I then told the remaining seminarians something which I have repeated a thousand times to others:

“You’ll all have a wildly interesting life, from one moment to the next, if you are always faithful to goodness and kindness and justice and truth and mercy. If you don’t compromise Jesus, if you don’t spit on Him so as to think you are protecting yourselves in all of the damned if you do, damned if you don’t situations you will certainly come across almost on a daily basis, He will take care of you. There is always a third option besides compromising non-negotiables in one direction or the other. That third option is being faithful to Jesus.”

I mean, examples are rife, and can be had in daily rounds to Catholic hospitals for instance, all damned if you do, damned if you don’t situations, not because of doing anything special, but because others among one’s fellow priests have given in, compromised in non-negotiables of life and death, of goodness and kindness and justice and truth and mercy. “How dare you not compromise! How dare you simply do the right thing!”

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t situations are the usual fare that our fallen human nature puts before all and sundry who might simply be faithful to the Most High, such as Jesus and all the rest of us who are drawn to Him in friendship, knowing His forgiveness. That friendship puts an edge on all interactions, providing us with grace that we might be instantaneously indignant that we would be asked to compromise doctrine or morality for the reason that such compromise would be offensive to Mary’s Son, Jesus.

This is so true and it happens so frequently – quite a constant really – that one could easily blurt out with Jesus – “Why are you trying to kill me?” – to which exclamation, of course, the bewildered response would be: “You are delusional, paranoid, possessed! Who is trying to kill you?” And then they go on in their blurred existence to marginalize and damn whoever it is that is simply trying in some way to be faithful on the non-negotiables, such as goodness and kindness and justice and truth and mercy. One’s situational awareness comes to expect the worst while believing the best, an oft betrayed naivete in which one rejoices, the cause of laughter, you know, with Jesus, who loves the humor. Situational awareness concerning the damned if you do or don’t crowd is consonant with love:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 nab).

Situational awareness concerning the damned if you do or don’t crowd is consonant with light:

“The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be” (Matthew 6:22-23 nab).

But to the compromised, love and light seems to be delusional, paranoid, possessed, dark, suffering, distressed. Um…. no.

“But what do you do in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation? What do you do? What do you do? What do you do? This isn’t right! We’re entitled! We have rights! We’re… we’re… we’re… you know… us!”

There is always a third option. Be faithful to Jesus. And then rejoice that you are said to be delusional, paranoid, possessed.

For myself, I never would have had any care about damned if you do or don’t situations, ever, in life, had I just compromised, had I just ignored situations. But that is soooo boring. I would rather have a wildly interesting life following the most interesting High Priest ever, Jesus, Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, who will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire, delusional, paranoid and possessed that He is. Amen. Hah!

There are many times that commiserators or Job’s friends would think are occasions of distress and sorrow and darkness and confusion, but don’t realize the enthusiasm and joy by which one stands next to Jesus, gaping with Him at whatever damned if you do or don’t situation has come up on whatever given day, and then elbow Jesus in the ribs (watch out for the wound though), and ask Him how He’s going to deal with this most absolutely impossible situation, only to watch Him ably turn the tables, every time. Every time.

I remember one particularly absolutely impossible situation and, with a smirk, was doing just this, asking Jesus how He was going to deal with this situation, thinking this was wonderful entertainment which He was happy to provide. He’s always the one and only Priest, happy to be the Priest for us in whatever situation should we want Him to be there. But this was an absolutely impossible situation. Hah! I was really enjoying it. What happened is that the person forcing the impossible situation implicated himself (a bishop of a far-away place, actually), smacking himself down, and then cleared the way to a solution in which the angels could rejoice. And you don’t want to offend angels! I am amazed to this day, but not tooooo amazed. Jesus is the One. He’s the only One. It’s all about Him, He who is delusional, paranoid, possessed. Thank you, Jesus.

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“Jesus Confesses” – Giving my cynical Internet Stalker profiler guy a chance to come clean with the mafia

Jesus confesses

This was a gift from the artist who wants to remain anonymous. So, I’ll claim the copyright on this, lest it be misused to hurt the Church. (C) 2018 George David Byers. Hey! Note the flag of Saint George!

I have much to say about the above drawing. I’ll bide my time. I have to rush off to do some Missionary of Mercy stuff.

For now, I’ll leave you with some words of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who is a canonized saint. And then some words of Hilaire Belloc. And then an invitation regarding some Racketeering and Corrupt Organizations (RICO).

“Jesus is the Word Made Flesh. Jesus is the Bread of Life. Jesus is the Victim offered for our sins on the Cross. Jesus is the Sacrifice offered at the Holy Mass. For the sins of the world and mine. Jesus is the Hungry, to be fed. Jesus is the Thirsty, to be satiated. Jesus is the Drunkard, to listen to him. Jesus is the Drug Addict, to befriend him. Jesus is the Prostitute, to remove from danger and befriend” (Mother Teresa: Meditation in the Hospital [summary]).

To put it in the words of Saint Paul: Jesus became sin for us.

Anyway, on to the irony without which there is no Christianity:

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

Now, for RICO and my Internet Stalker guy: I need some help, some advice, and you really a quite clever. Prove your good faith. Help me figure out how to bring about in a way that actually might work for all involved what Pope Francis wants to do with the medicinal penalty of automatic / declared excommunication for the RICO crowd.

  • How do you move from a State conviction to an excommunication, you know, legitimately?
  • How do you have, say, Missionaries of Mercy, lift declared excommunications and absolve crimes without making penitents and the Missionaries of Mercy into targets because, you know, they know too much? I would hate to leave this to anyone else either in Rome or in whatever local church as becoming a target should be a volunteer mission (as in Missionaries of Mercy).
  • How does one sweep for listening devices, it being that the FBI, CIA, DEA, BATFE, DOJ, et alii, really really really would like to listen in on such confessions and have been known to bug confessionals previously (twice that I know of in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York)? This being for undeclared excommunications.

Just to say, the Italian Military liaison to the Holy See actually invited me to be appointed to a parish in Southern Italy admitting to the possible bugging of my Confessional in that parish for the purpose of going after the RICO crowd, admitting as well that if I didn’t play the game of absolving a local mafia guy by insisting he first go into hiding elsewhere I would most likely be shot right through the confessional screen by that mafia guy who was simply using the confessional to put the local priest (to whom all things come) under the seal of confession.

Here’s the deal. Interest has been growing in this topic of late in and around D.C. and North-East Virginia. I’m guessing something has been put in front of Pope Francis. I’m guessing he wants to present something to the Missionaries of Mercy after Easter this year. I’m guessing it will be insufficient. I’m guessing I would like to work something up a bit more nuanced from the confessor’s angle and send this in beforehand.

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Jesus goes to Confession

confessional jesus

A very sweet, nice image from, I think, the Baltimore Catechism. Fine. There is some correct theology there. Good. Jesus is making happen what He commanded His Apostles and their successors in Holy Orders to do. Great. But there is more.

Here’s another image, more recent, which emphasizes that the priest is acting in Persona Christiin the Person of Christ, for the absolution of sins:

confession jesus

That’s um… nice too. I like it. But, well, sheesh… there is so much more to what is happening in Confession that people really should realize, so that they have more of a sense of how deeply and completely they are forgiven even if their fallen human emotions still weigh them down with a guilt which isn’t there (which is a cross we sometimes carry, a cross which we are commanded to carry by Jesus, a cross which doesn’t hold us back spiritually, just the opposite).

I would like to see an image, a line-drawing say – even from someone thinking they have no talent for drawing faces, hands and such – of Jesus going to Confession to a priest, and perhaps in a more traditional Catholic setting, something like the photo below, but with an adult Jesus, with His wounds, going to Confession to the priest:

confession sacrament

Here’s the deal: Jesus walked among us so that He could stand in our place (or kneel in our place, or be crucified in our place), the Innocent for the guilty, so that He would have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us. Effectively, He was taking our place, not only for original sin but for all of our personal sins, however hidden, however embarrassing, however shameful, confessing them, as it were, as if those sins were His own sins: “I did this…. I said that… I thought the other thing… I omitted doing…” And, by the way, Jesus got a penance, a big one, being tortured to death, the Innocent for the guilty. And He did His penance. Why? Because He really does, in fact, indeed, love us.

To be Christian we have to have a sense of what to us in this world seems to be such biting irony,  mercy being founded on justice, mercy and justice being one in God. Otherwise, we are a train-wreck:

  • Mere mercy cut off from noticing the above mentioned justice brings us instantaneously to the darkest of existential states of cynicism and doubt.
  • Mere justice which doubts even the possibility of mercy is a crushing darkness throwing us into the most existential peripheries of dark bitterness.

We’re just not strong enough to bear such horror, as it is untruth, for mercy is founded on justice and Jesus does bear the wounds which give Him the right in His own justice to have mercy on us. Does He love us? Does He forgive us? Yes.

Do we, in our weakness, want that our weakness goes away already in this world? Yes. And it doesn’t happen because, in justice, we have to suffer all the effects of original sin, even while carrying the grace of Christ within us, while we are in this world. To be free of the effects of original sin we have to be in heaven, where there will be no more weakness of mind, weakness of will, emotions all the hell over the place, no more sickness, no more death. Jesus isn’t going to throw away justice, for then He would also be throwing away mercy. Jesus instead lets all our weakness teach us how to be in humble thanksgiving to Jesus. Jesus doesn’t want that we beat ourselves up. He wants that we accept the forgiveness, but as mercy founded on justice. It is hurtful to have false expectations, as in “no more weakness in this world,” “no more cross,” “a method of salvation I came up with so that I can ditch that dumb Jesus with His dumb mercy founded on His dumb justice.” But, as said in the bulleted points above, that leads to an impossibly heavy, crushing darkness which throws us into the most impossible self-made peripheries, having us think we are outsiders. No. That’s not the way. Jesus is the Way. He’s the only Way. Jesus is the One. He’s the only one.

Let’s watch Him, let’s listen to Him confess all our sins. Let’s watch Him do His penance for us. We imposed our misery on ourselves. Jesus doesn’t like that. He came among us to take that misery away. We’ll see that especially in heaven. But we can already get a sense of His love for us here, even amidst all the chaos within and without. It’s like Saint Therese said, it’s not necessarily a jump up and down peace, but a peace bound by love which enables us to go on. We gotta be little children. Little. Children. Look at Jesus, in wonder, as He confesses our sins.

I would love to have a line drawing of this, even one with little talent.

And more, how about a little boy or girl watching Jesus go to Confession, with mouth agape in thankful wonder and surprise and joy.

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Filed under Confession, Irony, Jesus, Missionaries of Mercy, Priesthood, Vocations

My Internet Stalker’s disgust for LEOs

black lives matter police car

My Internet Stalker guy has a deep disgust with Law Enforcement Officers. His comment, which is stuck in the moderation queue, reflected his sarcastic negativity with Law Enforcement that is so very typical of stalkers. In his comment, he said: “I hope you get the police you deserve.”
The phrase: “I hope you get […what…] you deserve” [filling in the “what” blank with anything] is universally used as a sarcastic, negative statement made in bad faith. This guy hates Law Enforcement in general and Law Enforcement Officers in particular. Apparently he wants them to be bullies and be corrupt and be violent and self-serving. Who would wish this? Who indeed. This should be noted in future for his profile if he doesn’t get what he wants with his ultimatum and extortion to me. Just. Wow.
The thing is, we all deserve hell for original sin and all of our own personal rubbish, but Jesus stood in our place, the innocent for the guilty. Does my Internet Stalker guy also begrudge the generosity of Jesus? Does he want us to get what we all deserve?

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Filed under Jesus, Missionaries of Mercy

Baptism of Jesus

john-the-baptist-collegeville

Statue of John the Baptist in my childhood parish.

  • So, because of Abraham’s lack of faith (and therefore lack of openness to, you know, life, for, like, what, 25 years before he finally believed in the Lord, and not because of his faith but because of the faith given to him by the Lord God, well, because of all that previous lack of faith there would be a punishment, which is that for hundreds of years the chosen people would be enslaved down in Egypt.
  • They were then brought to the Lord God on eagles wings. They went through the sea on dry ground and their pursuers, the soldiers and charioteers of Pharaoh, were drowned as a punishment for enslaving the chosen people for physical labor.
  • John the Baptist, the greatest prophet, preparing for the coming of Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, wanted to give people an opportunity to have a humble and contrite heart so that they would be prepared for the words: “Father! Forgive them!” After all, the chosen people of his day had been enslaving each other in sin and deserved to die just like the soldiers and charioteers of Pharoah.
  • John, with utter brilliance, had the people come down into the waters of the Jordan, long a symbol of the sea during the exodus. The people confessed their sins publicly and went under the waters to show that, with humble and contrite heart, they deserved to die like the soldiers and charioteers of Pharaoh for enslaving each other in sin. Perhaps the Lord God would forgive them of their sin.
  • Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, comes down for the baptism to that, under the waters, the innocent for the guilty, He could confess our sins, the Suffering Servant, calling out to our Heavenly Father that He might be treated as guilty of all sin from Adam until the last man is conceived, and thus have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us.
  • After this event, when the skies opened, the Holy Spirit descended, and the Father spoke of His Beloved Son, Jesus then spoke of how much He was constrained until He could be baptized with the baptism for which He came, the Baptism in His own blood, the punishment for our sin.

Thank you, John. Thank you, Jesus.

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

Those who have no sense of irony, that Jesus is Irony Incarnate, don’t get the plot, and are always stuck on merely external indicators of religion. Too bad, that.

For instance, from the right, about all I’ve ever heard is that Jesus sanctified the waters by His presence, thus recalling the Fathers of the Church, that is, their shorthand way of speaking in homilies and sermons. The Fathers packed in much more than that, but so many of those on the right don’t want to go there. They might get the plot.

For instance, from the left, the filthy, filthy, filthy left, about all I ever heard is that Jesus went down to John’s baptism unto repentance for the forgiveness of sin because He was in fact a sinner and He knew it or at least wanted to look politically correct because everyone else was going down for the baptism.

Jesus, have mercy, bring us into your way of salvation, your self-sacrifice, your truth, your goodness and kindness. Amen.

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Epiphany

Christmas Crib

Gold: For charitable governance. Earthly politicians might just keep it. Note the palace of Herod. But note that the King of kings and Lord of lords is born in a cave with a donkey to protect Him.

Frankincense:  For the priest who sanctifies the prayers of the humble and contrite of heart and offers them up to the Most High through, with an in Himself, for it is He who offers Himself as the Sacrifice, He is also the altar.

Myrrh: For the prophet. This is to pack the corpse for burial of the one who speaks the truth in all charity.

Well, now. That’s an examination of conscience for all of us, isn’t it?

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Filed under Christmas, Jesus

When the Executive Office of POTUS becomes a den of terrorism: analogy

Jesus Boy Sacred Heart Cross

Some twenty years ago a nine year old boy in one of my parishes on one of the many continents where I’ve served as a priest came up with the above drawing all on his own. It is the most profound theological statement I’ve seen come from anyone anywhere in my entire life. And, I must say, I’ve known many holy and extraordinarily talented people, some unknown to others, some canonized or who have their canonization in the works. Very inspiring the insight of this little boy in the very friendship he has with Jesus. It’s all about Jesus.

POTUS Executive Office

Not much of a surprise, then, to get a visit to that blog post from the New Executive Office Building of the President of these United States taking umbrage with this little boy, that is, in mid-June of 2012, well into the years of the Obama Administration.

POTUS Executive Office Robert blog visit HSH stat

Let’s take a closer look at that:

POTUS Executive Office Robert blog visit HSH tracking

POTUS Executive Office Robert Terrorist

Avatar of “Robert” the terrorist, I.T. guy in June 2012 Executive Office of POTUS

So, in other words, a supervisor sends the link to the post on my blog to his underling who’s supposed to “take care of it”. The underling is given this task because he has no qualms in terrorizing a little boy who is good friends with Jesus, you know, on government computers on government time. Why do I say that? Not just because the underling el creepo guy calling himself “Robert” uses a creepy avatar reminiscent of […], but because he left a link to his own private blog which was a hate site rationalizing and promoting the genocide of anyone anywhere who has anything to do with religion. So, what we have is someone who wants the death of anyone religious attacking a little Catholic boy who loves Jesus, rendering this attack from the most powerful office of any political leader anywhere in this sorry world. Well now, that’s a bit of a fright isn’t it? Such cowards, “Robert” and his supervisor and the Obama Administration. Creeps all.

It took about two more seconds for “Robert” to redirect a link in that post to what seems to be his own hacking page I.P. collection site, but also to block my entire blog:

POTUS Executive Office Robert hack

Freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion and all that, right?

Well, “Robert” let himself be a fall guy for the cause when I made a bit of a stink about this. He totally disappeared from the face of the earth for exactly a five year stint. ;-) Then, when he got out, so to speak, the first thing he did with his D.C. jaded eyes (hint hint hint), was to take down anything and everything about how he made his own way (hint hint hint). This was just recently, in this past year of 2017, and is still continuing until just now. He’s out…

Now then, of a sudden, my present stalker who baits me for various and now discernible reasons that I’ve baited out of him with my own baiting of him to have him reveal himself all the more has come upon the scene in the midst of a long line of coincidences that are just jaw dropping. Very interesting, really. And easy peasy. Especially because, having spent a life in analyzing texts and, in providing formation to seminarians, in analyzing people on every level, and having the burden of some years, I’ve seen it all before, so very many times. It is to laugh. Sorry, but I do laugh.

Those who lie so as to bait for a profession, to draw up, you know… – and there are plenty of those; I know many; a very hard life, that, ughhh – are never really super good at what they do because we are not created by God constantly to manifest un-truths. It’s to be seen in the slip from the statement to the assertion provided as a rationalization. The tone is always the same. It’s like a polygraph indicator. They have an especially difficult time those who have the pretense to mock religion as a fake believer who is really a fake atheist, first being ultra-tradional-ism-ist, then being a filthy, filthy liberal, then being simply one who is a stalker, researching, researching, researching, thinking they have discovered the “code” of humanity, of religion, of reality, of what really makes people tick, you know, in mere reaction to what’s been researched, a kind of dialectic on the way to UTOPIA, thinking to have broken the upper levels of KRYPTOS  in this way (just the opposite: get it?) but they have no interior realization of what it all means, always on the outside, closing the split, spinning in predictable vortex, all in “languages” they don’t understand from the inside, like trying to memorize an ultra complex maze from the inside and then seeing it all from above, but not realizing that there are hidden underground tunnels and the method of understanding is something to be drawn into but never established by oneself. Whew!

I have a lot of respect for my not-so-Kryptic stalker guy. Really smart. Refined. Who knows how to research (though he has a lot of resources). Who knows how to lie (well, inasmuch as that’s possible). He needs some lessons. ;-)

Just to say, the things that he balks at mocking are most interesting, exactly what I would expect from someone in his profession, but only if he actually knew something about me. All very professional. I like that. I think I would actually like this stalker guy, not “Robert”, but the stalker guy. He’s really very humorous. Like a brother in arms. If I’m right about who he is, I have to say: Chapeau! We should talk about CCS. We should talk about EA. We should talk about CT. Your call, stalker guy.

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Filed under Abuse, Intelligence Community, Jesus, Military, Politics, Terrorism

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

alexamenos crucified donkey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Filed under Donkeys, Irony, Law enforcement, Missionaries of Mercy

Shadow-dog: “Here’s looking at you”

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Shadow-dog, with a look of happiness in his eyes. Can you tell the difference?

“They say” that if a dog looks you in the eyes, it means either one of two things:

  1. You’re his next meal.
  2. He thinks you’re a dog’s best friend.

Still in the newly acquired stage, Shadow has been gaining a bit of weight what with all the de-worming that had to go on being overwith. I’m guessing he’s up to 90 pounds by now. Not bad for 15 months old or so. I’m guessing he’s the best dog-soccer player in the world with perfect control, tackles, strategy. A joy to see and play with. Man’s best friend. He’s a bit of a fright though when he jumps so high up in the air while spinning about and landing running with that low-attack run. I’m thinking of changing his name to Shadow-Monster.

Shadow-dog has successfully been trained in to sit still while he has a supper dish in front of him. But that’s still just when I’ve hovering over both him and the supper dish with only about three feet between the two. Previously you might wonder how to get out alive with any food anywhere near you. I want to get that where he’ll patiently wait for the go-ahead while I’m sitting some ten feet away. Laudie-dog is so well-mannered. She would rather starve than eat something without having thanked me first. For her, there’s a whole ritual to go through. Not yet the same for Shadow-dog. But progress is being made.

Right now, though, I’m concentrating on teaching him not to bark at the dentist’s office, which is the main target of his very opinionated commentary day or night. He’s learning with that too.

If I ever get him to “stay” no matter what I would be really very tempted to take him on short trips. The problem around here is that people look for dogs to steal so that they can feed them alive to their fighting dogs, you know, before a betting match more serious than anything you could find at the two casinos in the area of the parish, you know, to make them there fightin’ dogs, with fresh blood all over their canines, all the more ferocious for the real fights. Of course, Shadow-dog could be trained in to take care of himself from robbers. He’s incredibly strong and agile and always more protective of yours truly. But I’m not at all sure if I want to go there. Priests should have “nice” dogs, right? Right now, I think he would still just lick the hand of a robber. And yet, dogs are really good judges of character. I’ve seen that with Laudie-dog, who’s very discriminating, barking only at one in a thousand; but when she’s got a reason it’s a good reason.

Saint Teresa of Avila was happy to make a spiritual analogy with just about anything whatsoever. So, with that in mind, on the wall opposite my chair is this painting of Jesus. The comments I’ve received on it reflect my own thoughts, that this is a depiction of Jesus knowing something we don’t know, that we have some stuff yet to go through in this life, but that He will be with us. A look of friendship, absolutely not because we’ve made ourselves friends of His, but that He’s loved us while we were yet sinners, laying down His life for us, but… but… as the Master, so the disciple. No one gets a pass. Today is the Feast of the Holy Innocents.

jesus baptism detail

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Filed under Dogs, Jesus, Spiritual life

King of the Mountain: Dogs & Jesus

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Shadow-dog atop Laudie-dog’s house, showing everyone who’s King of the Mountain.

When I was a kid in third grade at Wilson Elementary School, we were out in the playground for morning recess. The snow had been plowed into mountains and had since been coated with a crusty ice, making climbing or staying on top of the mountain while playing King of the Mountain an extreme sport. Being game for all things extreme, I climbed right up when no one was looking and was surveying my kingdom but without any situational awareness. Stupid me. I should have learned by now with my previous experience of being shot.

Bam! I was hit from behind by what must have been a locomotive. That hit, right on my spine, gave me a bit of whiplash that lasted for some weeks and put me out like a light for a moment even while I went flying through the air crashing down below. The kid that hit me was standing triumphant atop the mountain ready to take on all comers. I obliged, of course, but without running from a distance, which meant the fight was on. It was a tie. Competition is hilarious. A great learning experience. Situational awareness is good anytime, anywhere, with anyone. It’s not paranoia. It’s a method of deescalating situations. Although roughhousing doesn’t call for deescalation.

Meanwhile, Shadow-dog has a size advantage over Laudie-dog. While Shadow-dog is really smart, he’s still too over-confident and unaware of just how tricky Laudie-dog is. She can manipulate him, taunt him, and not let him get away with anything with ease. She has the wisdom of years. Just when you think you’re King of the Mountain, someone comes along and knocks you off your perch.

But sometimes it’s no longer a game or a mere competition. Sometimes it’s life and death. An all out war. May as well make that perch unassailable, where you are unremovable, where you reign alongside the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Wonder-Counselor, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace, in solidarity on Mount Calvary with Him who is in solidarity with us, Christ Jesus, who, lifted up and nailed to the Cross draws us to Himself, He being born to die to bring us to life, to give us a chance at participating in the greatest love possible in laying down our lives for our fellow man, being nailed to the Cross of witness to love and truth unto death. Unassailable. Never tricked. Never manipulated. Taunts becoming a blessing. Surveiling all with perfect situational awareness. And unremovable from that cross on that mountain. Because it’s His love, it’s His truth that are important, He always being the same, ever ancient, ever new, always King of the Mountain.

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Filed under Dogs, Father Byers Autobiography, Jesus

“Fr Byers, who are you, anyway?” Apologia pro vita mea

With the videos above I poke fun at myself. Sorry for some of the language in them. I apologize to those who actually want an answer to the question about my identity, to those who don’t accept the answer that I am a simple back-mountain priest on the outside of the peripheries. That’s all I am. And I’m happy with that. Truly.

The problem is that there are those who are ferociously asking about my real identity even now as if that question has never been asked before, not knowing that I have been one of the most researched people on the planet by whatever wing of Catholicism, or Protestantism, or atheism, or of whatever religion, Judaism, Islam, or whatever political entity overseas, but most especially by our own intelligence services, the latter being interested because of my “Shadow”, and because and all the hyper-sensitive places I’ve been, all the terrorists with whom I have been “friends,” all the terrorist incidents in which I have in one way or another been involved, all the friends I have on the very highest levels in the military, in intelligence services, in the Church. But, hey! You newcomers! Go for it!

The question is, of course, why the interest in me? By all accounts, I am just another boring priest among the million or so priests on the face of the earth. I am just one more boring person among the billions of people who are presently alive. So, why me?

Inside the Church, the ultra-liberal swamp rats think that I am their hero because of some of the rather extraordinary people I know and the type of degrees I have behind my name, thinking that anyone with those qualifications (those people and those institutions) has to be one of the more dangerous-to-the-status-quo people on the face of the earth, and so I am welcomed, until they get to know me, but even then, their suspicions that I am way to the right in their estimation remains merely suspicion, for I simply can’t be of Tradition if I know their darlings and have the degrees I do. They think I am just being very, very clever, more political than they could imagine could be possible. Their question remains: “Who are you, anyway?”

Inside the Church again, the ultra-traditional-ism-ists treat me the same way, suspicious that I am a filthy liberal because of the people I know and the degrees that I have, and yet are confused by the things I have done in my life, doing more for the reinstatement of the Traditional liturgy (more than the Mass, also the sacraments and exorcism, etc), than most all of them put together. They think all that is subterfuge, a cover. “Who are you, anyway?” they scream, condemning me as one of those “priests” who loves “mercy,” but then wondering what is going on because they never see me embrace any heresy, any leftist position, so that they simply hate that I won’t hate who they hate as much as they hate, or even hate at all. They think I am a careerist, but then watch in amazement how I throw away “career” after “career.” I could certainly have had a multitude of careers in the Church, could have long been a bishop, actually archbishop at this stage, the problem being that I just won’t compromise, not to protect my record of not compromising, but because I believe in serving Jesus. But that is what they will not accept. “Who are you, anyway?” they scream again.

I suppose I should give a few examples. Early on I was invited to go to the Academia Ecclesiastica, but I turned that down with the excuse that I just would not make a career of compromising my priesthood. That was very offensive to some career diplomats, believe me. I’m sure many are devout believers. Some are anything but that. I knew quite a bit about those who were beholden more to the State than to Jesus. I have a lot of friends. But I felt I was too weak to last as a believer in such settings. Either I would cave in or be removed as useless to the ways of compromise. So, why bother? That’s just the way it was. That’s a confession about how bad and evil I was. Then there was a now long-deceased ecclesiastical superior who wanted to pull some strings and have me appointed as one of the Inquisitors at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, but I dissuaded him as well. At the time, among some in the CDF, it was all about how to please bishops. I just couldn’t do it, fearful that I wouldn’t be able to remain faithful to Jesus, fearful that I would simply be removed as someone useless to the world of compromise. Mind you, the CDF did do some great things at the time under then Cardinal Ratzinger, especially the ghost-writing of the official interpretation of Canon 915 (upon which I had some incisive influence from afar). Anyway, there was also a push to get me into the Congregation for the Clergy, and the Congregation for Saints, heck, after my time at Vatican Radio, even Communications at their new offices was put before me. The biggest career I turned down, however, was to go to teach at a certain University in Buenos Aires, where I’m quite sure I would have in no time (if not from the very beginning) been put in administrative positions as a jumping board to other things. I turned that down because the whole thing seemed geared to smashing down my faithfulness to Jesus. I was afraid of my weakness, afraid of being removed as someone useless to political correctness of compromise. I have to wonder what would have happened between Father and then Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio and myself, what with our common friends. I have to wonder what would have been the future of the ghost writing of Amoris laetitia, if, instead, I would have written that in a manner manifestly reflecting the teaching of the Church. I am a failure, I suppose, for not having taken up those careers in the Church. I am certainly a failure for having been fearful of anything at the time. I have only since then learned by the grace of God not to fear anything, ever. Why? Because Jesus is the One. He’s the only One.

Anyway, outside the Church, because of my life-time relationship of sorts with my “Shadow” (which has nothing to do with me, by the way), the State Department, Department of Justice, Department of Defense and various and sundry operators of any and all military or intelligence backgrounds have long wondered and frequently asked, always after long investigations and always with frustration, “Who are you, anyway?” This has become, over many decades and with countless examples, both humorous and predictable. Some, if they are good guys, just do what they are told in my regard (because of the “Shadow” thing) or they are afraid to bring it further to Pompeo or Tillerson because their own treasonous behaviors would be brought to light, especially now, but that’s another story, that is, as to how I’ve been trying to bring those treasonous behaviors to light. At this point, it seems that my “Shadow” has successfully turned the tables so that it must be me who is the Gray Man, in which case the question, “Who are you, anyway?” becomes both a protection and liability. It has, in fact, always been this way. It is what it is. There are benefits. There are drawbacks.

As it is, throughout my life my identity has been a standing “inside joke” for me and Jesus, for He has given me the grace which He willingly gives to all, the grace not to be novel, that is, no novelties, with the point being that only One who is important, the only One who has anything to say, is Jesus. He’s the One. He’s the only One. We are to our utmost to be instruments of His, letting His love and truth and goodness and truth and kindness and truth and mercy and truth be manifested through us. We are to have nothing of our own, no identity apart from Him. It’s all about Him. He is ever ancient, ever new. I am far from it, but it would be my hope to say that if there is anything that is ecclesial and of God in my life, that people will say: “Look at that. That’s not Fr George. That’s Jesus. Thank God for his great mercy.”

At the rare time that circumstances are such that it is important not to be novel, not to compromise, not to betray Jesus as regards Church or State, I have not compromised, ever. This is in itself so very novel, you know, not to embrace the novelty of being a “man of consensus”, not to embrace being a coward, that I have also been condemned as someone who promotes “admiratio” for this very reason. Ironic how that works. The very attempt to respect faith and morals, the attempt not to be Promethean, not to be neo-Pelagian, not to be self-absorbed, or self-referential, not to be corrupt, is the very thing which makes people condemn me as being all those things, for, they say, only someone full of himself, arrogant and Pharisaical, would want to be different from them, and instead want to be in solidarity with some sort of Sign of Contradiction. “Who are you, anyway?” they scream, wanting to know how it is that I could possibly not cave into their bullying ways. I could give a thousand examples regarding faith or morals or national security. But why bother? I have learned that people are not interested in arguments. They are only interested in pushing and pushing and pushing to see if, for real, there is faithfulness. In all their cynicism, they want to know if faithfulness is possible in this world. In the end, it’s all about being smashed down and, even while being smashed down, saying with Jesus’ love and truth and goodness and kindness and mercy: “I forgive you. I want to see you in heaven.” And in that way, there is no compromise, no novelty, nothing of me, only Jesus. I’m sure I’m not there yet. I am totally weak. But He gives me the grace to want to be nothing, that is, for Jesus, that is, to have no identity apart from Him, so that He can use me for what He wants, that is, His love, His truth, His goodness, His kindness, His mercy.

The “inside joke” is all about what happens. Here’s the deal: when you don’t compromise, you will get smashed down, hard. There are damned if you do, damned if you don’t situations, but you don’t compromise. There are horrific circumstances, but you don’t compromise. All is hopeless, completely hopeless, but you don’t compromise. And then you are smacked down, hard. O.K. But then, in remaining faithful in all things, Jesus picks you up. He makes life so very, very interesting in this way. How boring non-faithfulness must be. In contrast, the vistas of faith upon panoramas of hard reality are exhilarating. No amount of darkness can quench the bond of love with God that God Himself puts into our hearts. And this is one thing that is novel. This is something new. It is God’s love among us, Emmanuel. But Jesus brings that newness, not us. We can only receive that newness when we have nothing new of our own, nothing novel, no identity of our own.

Who am I, anyway? I hope for a love which casts out all fear. I hope one day to say that I am nobody, nothing, that Jesus is my All. I hope to say that Jesus is the One, that He’s the only One, that I find my identity in Him, that He finds me and brings me into the reality of love and truth.

P.S. At the moment, someone is condemning me as someone who is enjoying the all too easy life of a pastor on the peripheries. If only they knew! Well, I must say that I love being a priest, a pastor, and on the peripheries. I love being a priest. I love watching Jesus, the Priest, at work. I love everything about any possible way and manner of being a priest. It is true that an intellectual / academic “career” would be tough, as the Common Doctor says when commenting on the brightness of a halo in the Summa, as there is a 1000 times more anguish for the flock in such circumstances. In this regard I would absolutely love being the or one of the Papal Theologians (though I’m not a Dominican). My goodness, the things I could write on Genesis, on ecumenical cooperation with biblical manuscripts (going to the heart of ecumenism), on the women of the Gospels, on papal infallibility, on reaching out to the Orthodox, on being a missionary, on mercy, on the formation of seminarians… But, I am here, and I am also happy where I am, in the tiniest parish in North America, in the most remote place possible. I love it. That’s who I am, one who is in love with everything about The Priest, Jesus.

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