Tag Archives: Jesus

Flag, freedom, nominalism, symbols: reality of the blood of Christ our God

razor

nominalism

Basic definitions of terms used in public conversation based on privately perceived statistical perceptions as in “It seems to me that lots of people think that this word means that” are useful only for exacerbating divisions so as to smash others down, making sure that all are sinners except for oneself.

“Freedom”, for instance, might well be equated by some as narcissistic behavior that does not respect others, you know, the ol’ I feel like murdering you, so I have the duty and therefore right to murder you, you know, because I’m just enjoying my “Freedom.”

Um… No… That’s not what Freedom is all about. We are provided free will by our Creator so that, in all love and in all truth we might continue always to choose that which is consonant with the love and truth which we are called to live. Beautiful. That is eating from the “Tree of the Living Ones” described way back in Genesis.

The word “Freedom” for some has become a moving target, much the same as some have made male/female a moving target with their weirdly self-perceived gender-bender narcissistic “definitions” of masculine/feminine whereby someone momentarily confused about any life experiences would have them think they have to get a surgical intervention to make their genitals fit their momentary depression leading – because of the pandering of society – to suicidal despair. Um… No…

Symbols are particularly open to this kind of manipulation, so that the American Flag is said by some to be a symbol of hate because many say it is. Oh? Really? A symbol of hate?

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Making definitions of terms used in public conversation based on privately perceived statistical perceptions as in — “It seems to me that lots of people think that this symbol means *fill-in-the-blank* because lots of people emotionally throw tantrums about it” — making definitions in that fashion is useful only for exacerbating divisions so as to smash others down, making sure that all are sinners except for oneself.

What does the flag actually stand for as a symbol, and what should we all insist upon in public conversation? How about the resolution itself?

  • “Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation.”

After standardized numbering, the thirteen original colonies are still represented by the thirteen stripes, while the stars unified in the azure sky have increased with the number of states in the union, and it is a symbol of unity. Thus far I myself have lived under two revisions, though all such changes to the flag are nevertheless The Flag.
That the Flag represents Freedom is not arbitrary. It is by its very existence placed in contradistinction to the oppression of the Brits, whose oppressive regime at the time disallowed, for instance, the free exercise of religion whether hidden away or in the public square.

There are other symbols of the Flag which were understood at the time, not as arbitrary personal whims, but as historically verifiable meanings. Thus, we find way back in the day, that the secretary of the Continental Congress had it that “White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness & valour, and Blue…signifies vigilence, perseverence & justice.”

  • White = “purity and innocence” — for, of and by the people, but under God
  • Red = “hardiness & valour” — lots of blood shed in that valor my friends
  • Blue = “vigilence, perseverence & justice” – as continuous as the sky holding the stars

But let’s get back to the Freedom which the Flag does in fact represent. I would like to take the faces of any self-congratulators who dismiss all the teenagers in our national cemeteries, buried there for having shed their blood for our Freedom, having confined themselves to their graves for our Freedom, who laid down their lives for us analogous to how the very Son of the Living God laid down His life for us, so as to grant us the greatest of freedoms – freedom from sin, the freedom to praise God on this earth and in heaven forever – I would like, I say, to take the faces of all those insulting the flag, insulting all those who laid down their lives, and put them face to face with all those youngsters in our national cemeteries, you know, until they appreciate the cost of that freedom.

Does God give us our unalienable rights which we are indeed free to exercise even at the cost of our lives? Yes.

Are those youngsters in our national cemeteries co-workers with God in giving us that free exercise of religion, that freedom of assembly, that freedom of speech…? Yes.

Rant story: While enjoying a meal with a large group of Colombian priests who were discussing all their pastoral initiatives for their respective flocks, I blurted out that, wow, they have done so very much. I’m so naive. I was instantaneously and quite ferociously reprimanded by the youngest of them, who went from calm to white hot over against my stupidity. He stated in no uncertain terms that, No! They have done NOTHING! They have not laid down their lives – yet – for their flocks. He said that they all personally knew priests who had been killed in the line of duty for their flocks. And then came the flood of stories about how those priests had been viciously executed in public even right in front of them. You have to know, this affected me profoundly.

Here’s the deal: We have nothing about which to boast unless this boasting is about the Son of the Living God who threw away His own Freedom to be nailed to the Cross for us, standing in our place, the Innocent for the guilty, so as to have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us. We will all of us stand before Him, looking upon Him whom we have all pierced through with our sin, original sin and whatever personal rubbish we ourselves have added, all of us, from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

crucixion passion of the christ mel gibson

If we think we have actually done something, we’re pretty much lost. But, having said that, the death of the faithful is precious in the eyes of God, and there is no greater love than that one lays down his life for his friends.

Just yesterday I mentioned how many times I’ve been shot at throughout my life, from my earliest years until much more recently, bullets whizzing by my head, an unforgettable sound. My favorite interlocutor said that that’s nothing. Nothing ended my life. There’s nothing there; it’s just normal life, said he. Yes, indeed. I agree. I stand corrected. I’ve done nothing.

Even if we have laid down our lives, for instance, for the free exercise of religion for our friends, I can absolutely guarantee that no one, not even one, will be bragging at the last judgment upon seeing the wounds of the actually innocent Son of the Living God.

In fact, let me just say this right now about myself, because I will certainly do so at my judgment, so says Christ the King; Jesus instructs us to say this:

  • “We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.'” (Luke 17:10)

Well, I hope to be able to say that I’ve done what I was obliged to do, that presuming I have done ALL that which I, which we have been commanded. When it comes right down to it, the one thing we are obliged to do, that which sets us up for a reward, is to get on our knees and humbly and contritely and with firm purpose of amendment confess our sins. “I am a sinner,” says Father George. I beg Jesus’ forgiveness and the forgiveness of any and all I have offended by my idiocy and brashness.
But Jesus will say to those who did bear His love: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 25:34)

I hope Jesus will say that to me and will say that to all with whom I’ve had any contact with in this world.

Finally, for those who want a rant of rants in favor of the Freedom of these United States of America. To critics of the Flag, get out of your safe spaces and sing along with Whitney Houston, meaning also reading an analysis of the words of the National Anthem:

Coronavirus: Flags Half Mast and Full because this priest will NOT cancel honor. Still singing the National Anthem with Whitney Houston

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Filed under Free exercise of religion, Patriotism

Steven Crowder: Best ANGRY Pro-Police Rant

Language warning. He’s upset. Rightly so. If you’re in law enforcement on any level. You gotta listen to this. A must listen.

While you listen, remember that although there were two officers in the Atlanta Wendy’s event, there were also two Taser shots in the stolen Taser. Listen to the end. He’s not attacking “Christians” nor Catholics (“the Church”). No, no. He’s attacking those who are “pussies” in leadership, in the hierarchy.

Sorry, but I’m not offended by language, by the hurling of insults. For the “pussies” out there, do I really need to put up again my own rant supporting the insults hurled at others in the Hebrew Scriptures? Do I really need to reiterate the ferocious insults hurled at the enemies of all that is good by both Saint John the Baptist and Jesus? And by the way, for all the “pussies” out there, Saint John is the greatest of all the prophets, ever. You’re not. And Jesus is the Divine Son of the Living God, true God and true Man, who stood in our place, the Innocent for the Guilty. You “pussies” out there are not Him. Get your pussiness out of my life.

If any “pussies” think Crowder’s occasional F-bomb is over the top, so that you don’t listen to the content of what he’s saying, refusing to admit that you have ever once been (hypocritically) really angry in your life, I’ll give you one insult to start you off, about how it is that you prostitute yourself to a lusty political lover, who, then, we read: “lusted after her lovers [you “pussies” out there], whose genitals were like those of donkeys [!] and whose emission was like that of horses (Ezekiel 23:20).” Those “pussies” out there are f***ing their brains out with lust, with crooked finances, with self-aggrandizing political maneuvering, at the expense of Christ’s faithful, at the expense of the whole world. Those f*** words are in the Divine and Holy Scriptures inspired by the Most Holy Spirit. Yes. Go ahead, read from the beginning of that chapter, Ezekiel 23:1… By the way, I’m dropping my own F-asterisks-exclamation and that very specific quote analogously about politicians and church leaders today for a very specific reasons. Yes. And there are going to be a lot of people who will be able to do me a lot of damage for my calling out their hypocrisy, both near and far. So be it. But let me concentrate right now on far away (not so far away by way of internet):

How dare Pope Francis congratulate the Bishop of El Paso for kneeling in front of BLM, whose main objective is to murder police. Just. Wow.

  • BLM CHANT: Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon.
  • BLM CHANT: What do we want? Dead Cops! When do we want it? Now!

Again, when you listen to Crowder’s rant, remember that although there were two officers, there were also two Taser shots in the stolen Taser. Also, where is that unreleased video from which a mere singular frame was provided? That’s extra work to do that. Why was that done?

  • I almost forgot my disclaimer: I’m a police chaplain. Does that make a difference? No. It doesn’t. I’m a human being. So are the police officers. And so are the enemies of this Constitutional Republic under God by the Rule of Law. I’m a chaplain for the police, but that’s because I’m a chaplain for everyone, even for the perps and “pussies” out there, to convert them and bring them to Jesus.
  • Oh, another disclaimer: I do believe with all my heart and soul and mind that ALL LIVES MATTER. Jesus redeemed us all. He wants us all to assent to salvation, keeping the commandments, demonstrating that we love God and love neighbor. God is Love. God is also Truth. Don’t forget that. The Truth. Jesus said it. He’s also the Way. Any “pussies” out there are not the Way, the Truth, or the Life. Any “pussies” out there are not God.

Are any “pussies” out there offended by this? Really: go read Ezekiel 23. Now. Get the full context. Or are you afraid?

Are there any political-law-enforcement politicians out there offended by this? Really: go read Ezekiel 23. Now. Get the full context. Or are you afraid?

Thanks, Steven Crowder. For those of you who think you’re too good and all sufficient not to listen to Steven’s rant. Think again. It’s not all that long. It’s rather riveting.

But again, I insist that my disclaimer about being a police chaplain means nothing, as I would say all of the above regardless of being a police chaplain:

By the way, that level 4+ ballistic vest with side plates is meant to help keep me useful in any untoward event. Ballistic vests are defensive. They’re not meant to be “scary”. If I had a vest that was actually concealable at level 4, I would do that. The rest of the molle-carry is all innocent: a PFAK prepared by an EMT-friend specifically for bullet wounds and such of any who need immediate pre-EMT assistance for any bleed-out events, two different styles of tourniquets, a midsize Olight to see what’s happening with medical assistance or with ongoing threats, a window-breaker/seat-belt cutter, an easy to use GoPro, the phone-cradle (the phone being used for the picture at the moment) with the phone normally going in back to front for unobtrusive secondary recording and emergency communications. 

The rest is EDC and has nothing to do with anything with my being a police chaplain. That’s just my 2a rights like any other civilian-citizen of these USA. Of course, those rights include being at the ready to assist in efficiently averting any threat that is, say, already pumping bullets into one or more of our properly acting officers. This town is one of the most violent druggie towns in the five State area of western North Carolina, western Virginia, East Tennessee, north Georgia, northeast South Carolina. Since there are so many licence plates from Florida, New York and Texas, I’ll include them too. Why that ill-gotten fame is the case is for a possible future post…

Finally, I have to say it because people may get the wrong impression. This priest is intent on bringing Jesus’ love and truth and forgiveness and truth and happiness and truth and fortitude and truth and goodness with kindness and truth to all: Jesus’ Love and Jesus’ Truth. Jesus is the One. He’s the only One. We’re not the ones. Jesus is the only One. But Jesus is also fierce in His insistence on love and truth. And so is the Holy Spirit. “Pious” ears will be offended. So very offended. They should grow up and see what the Holy Spirit has for the Churches. Or in all of their fake self-serving softness they might well end up in hell. There. I said it. Read Ezekiel 23.

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Filed under Law enforcement, Officer Down!, Patriotism, Priesthood, Vocations

Juneteenth of this white boy priest

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Black lives do matter. Blue lives of whatever color do matter. ALL LIVES MATTER. I’m told that I cannot make any statement about racism that can count as that which could possibly further the conversation in a good direction in that I’m surely just a privileged white boy (read white trash). Perhaps. Let me know in the comments if you’re brave enough to read to the end AND watch the short video farther below.

As you can see from the picture of yours truly above, this priest belongs to the ICPC (International Conference of Police Chaplains). That doesn’t mean I’m racist. Racism is one of the things that make me angry. Maybe I can write about that. I have already written about that many times in the past.

In fact, the protagonist super hero of an ecclesiastical thriller novel I wrote some years ago was “black.” I have a lot of my own personal autobiography in that character, Alexamenos. Is that “appropriation” or some other anti-social thing? No. I’m not making utitilitarian usage of “blackness” in having that character be “black.” It’s integral to the story line.

You can also see that my hair is shaved off in the picture above. The first real comment I’ve got on that was a happy and I must say sincere (in that point of view) congratulations, that finally I’m surely proclaiming myself to be a woke-racist, a skinhead. No. Don’t jump to conclusions.

That’s about solidarity with Danner (DANNERSTRONG), in town here, whose family I visited after Danner was diagnosed with an extremely rare incurable cancer whereby all parts of the body are manufacturing cancer in all other parts of the body. Danner, of course, lost all his hair. There is a lot of like solidarity with him here in town.

Right down, down the road, I saw this sign at a local gun store:

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Sigh.

June 19 used to be called Emancipation Day as this is day of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. The South, in instantaneous reaction, went to war with the North in a war they call the War of Northern Aggression. Look, I don’t know much about the terminology here, but I’m afraid that Junetenth is so far distant from the terminology about the liberation of African Americans that such emancipation will no longer be celebrated. I’m afraid that June 19 will be used only for the anti-police, homosexualist agenda of BLM. That would be truly sad, truly divisory, truly anti-human, where all are reduced to being judged by the color of their skin instead of the integrity of their character.

You want to know what I really think? I got just as emotional in solidarity with Charles E. Brown, Chief of Staff of these U.S. Air Force as he is emotional in the video below. After Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a dream speech,” this is one of the best speeches I have ever heard in my life. Really good, really worth the listen. Well spoken. This is truly a great man, a great American. He wants what is best for us all, together, as human beings.

Perfect. Thank you, General, sir. Tremendous. Hats off to you. Total respect. Thank you.

Here’s the deal. What I see when I see anyone, black, white, brown, yellow, olive… whatever… when I see anyone do see a color, and that color is blood red, regardless even of the integrity of their character. I see the blood of Jesus drenching them all, redeeming us all, regardless. I see that we all, whatever condition or circumstances we are in on whatever level in whatever manner, all need to come closer to the Son of the Living God, who came into this world to stand in our place, the Innocent for the guilty, so that He might save us, if we are willing, so that He might give us as a gift to the one who sent Him, Someone we now call OUR Heavenly Father. “Our” means no racism is allowed in heaven. We are all the children of God. ALL of us.

For God, black lives do matter. ALL lives matter. Because Jesus’ Blood matters. Get it?

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Filed under Jesus, Racism

“All whites” guilty of police brutality of “blacks”? “All whites” must apologize to “blacks”?

A reader sent in the following comment on a previous post, but it is highlighted here for greater visibility. [[My preliminary comments.]]:

  • “Father, I’ve heard several Catholic radio show hosts and journalists talk about “collective guilt” as if it is a Catholic teaching. [[I’m happy not to listen to or read such things! And I would guess some rather important personages have pushed this in whatever way… right?]]  One person went so far as to say that “whites” should go to confession and confess their participation in white supremacy! I let fly a couple of “cazzos” myself when I read that. [[That demand is pretty much demonic. That’s what hell would be like. Sorry, but to follow suit, that kind of F***ery has to stop, and stop now.]] How abhorrent & divisive that comment is. [[Yes.]] Is this a thing? [[Sure hope NOT!]] If it is, then should Jewish people ask for forgiveness for the crucifixion of Jesus? [[Yes, they should, like each person who has ever existed, for we, all of us, together, will gaze upon Him whom we have all pierced through with original sin and whatever rubbish sin of our own. No one is exempt.]] Should all priests get down on their knees because of the sexual abuse scandals? [[In reparation for the sins of others if not their own, yes, of course, but not because as a category of people they are automatically guilty.]] Should every Church leader beg for forgiveness because some moved these predators from parish to parish? [[Those who have not done this can express their regret, which is different from saying they were personally guilty of such stupidity.]] I don’t believe so (well, maybe except for the last one…where’s the McCarrick report??). [[I would surely like to know who knew what when and why it is that we haven’t heard a thing… and the whole China thing…]] Can you discuss in detail in your next posting?”

So, some more general comments of my own:

  • Back in my seminary days, in moral theology class, or “pastoral theology” class [whatever that is… still haven’t figured that out…], it was common to hear statements always ambiguous, non-sensical in nature (error never makes sense), about societal sin, or collective guilt as it is now being called, I guess. I didn’t understand it then. I don’t understand it now. Not on this level. No one is forced to sin because “everyone is doing it” or “I’ll be thrown in the ovens if I don’t throw others in the ovens.” You can always chose to do what is right, and go to heaven.
  • Meanwhile, original sin, the just consequences of which chosen with the sin are suffered by all, throws upon us a collective guilt, not in the sense of a personal sin as if we were directly identified with Adam himself in his personal choice which affected all of us, but in the effects of not being able to correctly appreciate God and love Him as we ought and therefore guilty of sin in not loving God as we ought. But original sin, irony of ironies, is rejected outright by the same people that promote collective guilt for the actions of an individual who we never even heard about before.
  • In the midst of the collective guilt of all for the offenses dreamed up by those who are narcissistically entitled to accuse, the same people promoting that nonsense hold themselves to have been immaculately conceived and are still absolutely sinless, everyone except, of course, the Immaculate Conception herself, Jesus’ good mom. No, really.
  • Saint John Paul II did apologize as the Vicar of Christ on earth for sins against the Jews that were wrought by whomsoever, taking such guilt on himself, even though he was never ever anti-Jewish and was not at all in solidarity with those were truly guilty. Many were quite upset with him because of doing this as the Pope. He went on to explain that it is only right for Jesus’ own vicar to do this not because he is guilty, but because he is not. He held himself to be guilty because he was in solidarity with Jesus being in solidarity with us. A bit convoluted, you say? Let’s take a look:
  • God so loved the world that He sent His only Son to take our place, the Innocent for the guilty, to take on the justice we deserved – death – for the worst we could give out: death. Death is the just comeuppance of sin, of a creature shaking his fist at his Creator. In standing in our place, not only because of Adam’s sin, but for all sins of all individuals, something horrifying and marvelous at the same time takes place.  Imagine yourself going to Confession, confessing any and all sin that mankind can and does commit, but now replace yourself with Christ Jesus, so that He is confessing your sin as if it were His own. Yes. That is what He has done for us, accusing Himself of our sin. And He is given a penance, to be ripped to shreds and crucified, the baptism in blood which He so desired to accomplish for our sake… for… us…
  • But that doesn’t mean that “whites” should apologize to “blacks” for the abuse meted out by one “white” individual over against a “black” individual. No, that’s just stupid political correctness which sets up all the wrong dynamics of bullying and kowtowing, mob rule. Also, talk is cheap. Let’s see – if need be anywhere – training upgraded, etc.
  • What we must uphold is a Constitutional Republic with the rule of law, with any democratically elected officials of whatever party upholding that Constitution and the rule of law.
  • Due process for all is to upheld. If not, we descend into entitlement to lie for the money or “power” over others that accusation equated with automatic guilt brings in its wake.

Finally, stare at that drawing above. Gaze upon Him whom we have all pierced (see Revelation 1:7) even as He took upon the collective guilt of us all. Tears come to my eyes. I am reminded of the words of a Psalm: “To You all flesh will come with its burden of sin.”

It may be that someone or other will mock me or even commit some sort of violence against me for holding that forgiveness is necessary, saying that I don’t have standing in the matter, or that such is self-serving. I answer by saying that a lack of forgiveness will rot the soul of anyone and everyone. Lack of forgiveness never helps the wronged person, the true victim. Lack of forgiveness only brings hate and violence in its wake, a self-loathing, a self-destruction.

  • Holding out forgiveness doesn’t mean you can tell someone you forgive them, as they might just kill you, saying they have nothing for which to be forgiven.
  • Holding out forgiveness doesn’t mean the other person can ever take this in, but that’s irrelevant to you holding forgiveness out to them, at least spiritually, even unknown to them.
  • Holding out forgiveness doesn’t meant that the crime, the sin wrought wasn’t important and can be dismissed as if it were nothing.
  • Holding out forgiveness is not an invitation for someone to commit the crime or sin again.
  • Holding out forgiveness does an infinite amount of good to the one who holds out the forgiveness… regardless…
  • Holding out forgiveness means that one is freed from just being in reaction to someone else, to the perp criminal sinner. This is soooo beneficial to the person who is the victim. And, if the truth be known, it heaps burning coals on the head of the one who is guilty, frustrating them because they no longer have power over you. Maybe they will come round to Jesus.

A little bit challenging all of that? Sure, as much as staring at that picture above…

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Filed under Confession, Jesus, Law enforcement, Racism

Ascension Thursday (Sunday): It’s been 40(+) days. Today’s the day for flying lessons!

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[[ Update (May 24 2020): We’ll see if I can’t record the homily today and post it. The post below is from four years ago. ]]

“It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority. But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.'” (Acts 1:7-11 nab)

two prophets moses elijah

The two prophets: Moses and Elijah?

The two men (andres)… Are they angels? Are they men? If men, could they be the Law and the Prophets, that is, Moses and Elijah, who, with Jesus, appeared to Peter, James and John on the top of Mount Tabor at the Transfiguration, and who were speaking with Jesus about the exodus, the death which He was to accomplish in Jerusalem. They, in Jesus, as it were, as the Law and the Prophets, would be slain by the great serpent, the ancient dragon. The Apostles need to preach to the whole world about Jesus being the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. Just a thought. Of course, I love the idea of these two being angels who are reprimanding the Apostles for gawking too long, as they needed to begin their work.

I am reminded of watching planes take off from the local airport which was situated right next to our house when I was a little kid. I would watch and watch until the planes disappeared. I would strain and look and catch another glimpse of the tiny dot in the far distance. Then it would disappear again for seconds on end. And I would strain and look and catch one last glimpse. And I was filled with wonder at what the view of the pilot must be, and about where he was going, and about just how very big the world must be. My dad was a Marine Attack Fighter pilot.

Jesus says that if we love Him, we are happy for Him that He has gone to the Father. Of course, we long to be there with Him. It is not as if He has abandoned us. He is with us until the close of the age. It’s not for us to know the times and seasons. It’s for us to be formed into being members of the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit, who will teach us all things in this way, that is, with us being made to be One with Christ Jesus, looking through, with and in Him to our Heavenly Father.

And although in this world we say, “Abba! Father!” as if we are in the agony of the Garden of Gethsemane with Jesus (the Ascension taking place just above that garden), we do so with a heavenly vision of the Father, that is, inasmuch as we are with Jesus. Unlike us, who, please God, will have the beatific vision in heaven, Jesus always and continues to have the blessed vision (for this was never given to Him, but instead was always with Him through the hypostatic union of the divine and human natures of His person). He sees God the Father for us who are yet on this earth, who, in the state of sanctifying grace, with the indwelling of the Most Holy Trinity, are nevertheless burdened with the darkened intellect consequent to original sin. But we are with Jesus, one with His Mystical Body. He is the Head of the Body. He sees for the Body. He presents us to God the Father in Himself.

Yes, we are to be happy that Jesus is with the Father, that He sees the Father for us who are here yet a little while longer, that He accompanies us in this way as we strive in His grace to fulfill the Law and the Prophets in our own lives in Jesus, we being prepared in this way to be ever so eager to be prompt in obedience on that day and in that moment when our names will be called in all love so that we immediately fly, fly… fly!… on our way, upward, please God, to the heavens! Talk about joy in the Holy Spirit at that moment! Yikes!

Update:

church of the ascension

Here’s the Church of the Ascension, perhaps the most desolate, barren, ugly church in the world. Weeds on the outside, trinkets being sold, walls surrounding it, it seems, not so much to protect it as to keep in from being seen. Islam took it after the crusaders were tossed out, and Muslims added the insult of sealing it up like a tomb and constructing a dome over the top of it so that, you know, no one would think that Jesus ascended into heaven from this spot. The crusaders purposely built it without a roof of any kind. But, instead, Islamic intolerance is what it is.

But here’s the deal: We’re supposed to evangelize Muslims as well! ;-)

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A Coronavirus Easter Triduum Octave

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The Empty Tomb! The Light is shining brightly. Here’s the Easter Fire we had…

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The Light of Christ always was and is and will be shining. Christ’s love, His grace, His presence within us, a love stronger than death, bringing us from the darkness of this world to eternal life, comes from – just to say it – Jesus, who is always alive even in His momentary physical death. We see that glory of the only Begotten of the Father in the darkness of Calvary – glory unto glory of the Light from Light, a love that is proven, with wounds, with taking on our punishment of our sin, standing in our place, the Innocent for guilty, to have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us. We all look upon Him whom we have all pierced.

Because He endured to the end, dying for us, He conquered, and is is victorious. He has the right to give us the wherewithal, that grace, that friendship, that we might walk with Him in this world right unto the next, even with our justly still suffering the effects of original sin, our own personal sin, and the sin of others while we are yet in this world. We are weak and continue to be weak. But He is strong and draws us up into His strength.

Even the weakness helps us, reminding us of why we need salvation out of the total hell of this world so that we might be brought to heaven in eternity. We are so very weak that we need to be reminded. All things work together for the benefit of those who believe. We find our security in His love that is, again, stronger than any weakness, stronger than any disease, stronger than death. This brings us joy, and a peace adequate to go on because this is not just some intellectual “ideology”, but a living faith, a bond of charity with God Himself. It’s personal.

Yes, there is an empty Saint Peter’s Square and empty Saint Peter’s Basilica:

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So what?! Everyone is scampering to meet Jesus in the upper room and then up in Galilee. Great. I’m running 24/7 all this time. Aren’t you? Peter and the “other Apostle” ran to see the Empty Tomb. Great. But then what…

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“Let’s go fishing…”

We are so very weak.

More on that later.

Meanwhile, this is the Octave of Easter. It’s like Easter Sunday every day until next Sunday.

I, for one, am exhausted from my scampering about. I can’t speak much about all that as there are different interpretations of the law regarding quarantines. I just do what I need to do to provide the Sacraments. Clever as snakes but innocent as doves and all that. But, thanks be to God, I am joyful, and at peace. Thanks be to God.

I hope ye are all doing well. Happy Easter to ye all. Be at peace. With joy.

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Sacred Heart to St Margaret analogy for Coronavirus times

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Meanwhile, edition)

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We gotta get this straight: this isn’t a situation in which one says: The Coronavirus is getting out of hand… and… and… meanwhile, I think I’ll give a flower to the Immaculate Conception. No. It’s while we give flowers to the Immaculate Conception that we happen to have the Coronavirus going on. It makes a huge difference. It’s about the spiritual life. The Lord Jesus provides us with a love stronger than death.

  • Crux stat dum volvitur orbis.
  • The Cross reigns steadfast while the world spins away.

Let’s see… Mary standing under the Cross… So, a flower for you, Mary, always, and also in the time of Coronavirus.

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Lenten Transfiguration of Jesus. Arise! Let us be going!

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God’s glory in the Face of Christ: What happened to Jesus’ Face on Mt Carmel

Jesus’ Face is our face. Are we in solidarity with Jesus while He is in solidarity with us, He, standing in our place, the Innocent for the guilty? Here’s Saint Paul:

  • “For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.” (2 Corinthians 4:6-12 rsv)

Once you’ve seen these stations, you can’t un-see them. But, the intensity of them… Well, it all bears repeating.

  • Being reminded of how far our dear Lord had to reach to get us in the hell of this world isn’t a bad thing, a hurtful thing, that which is meant to make us have bad feelings of despairing self-condemnation because we are all tender snowflakes absolutely entitled to spit on His face. No.
  • Being reminded of how far our dear Lord had to reach to get us in the hell of this world is a good thing. It should elicit an assent to the love which He gives to us.

I made this set of videos (about 20 minutes all told) during my time living just over the cave of Elijah on Mount Carmel, Israel. The OCDs had invited me to stay there for an entire month during the years that I was a chaplain at Lourdes. The chanting was recorded at the cave of Elijah, sung by pilgrims from around the world.

I must say that these videos are very emotional for me to watch to this day. What a fright! But… Jesus, Mary’s Son, is just that good and kind! Even though in watching these you don’t move from station to station yourself, I’m sure your heart will be transported to be right next to Jesus, to be with Him in solidarity, and to be right next to His dear mother as she accompanies our Lord, again in all solidarity. These stations rip the heart right out of my chest. Dear Lord…

Our Stations of the Cross here at Holy Redeemer in Andrews are “normal”, with pictures being used. The church is so small that any use of sculpted stations no matter how minimal in relief would block use of the side aisles. Everything is doubled over in both English and Spanish, except the Stabat Mater, which so far we’ve just sung in English. No one minds both languages as the common language is humble thanksgiving in witnessing our Lord’s great love for us. In fact, because of this, it goes the other way, with comments being about how wonderful it is that everyone comes together for the Stations.

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Calm quarantine strategies, not panic

pan

First  of all, we are not in any kind of stage of a quarantine of any kind. San Francisco called for a State of Emergency, but that was just a cynical move to release Federal monies they otherwise can’t get at this time for sanctuary cities. It has nothing to do with any COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus. No. Demoncrats are self-centered jerks and want to cause panic.

And I don’t say we are any kind of stage of a quarantine YET. No. That also would be to panic. See above.

Having said that, let’s take the worst case scenario – a declared pandemic – so as to point out how to avoid the worst case scenario, which would not refer to any medical condition (more people dying from the flu or smoking or car accidents…), but rather panic, which would be the logistical cause of death for hyperbolically more cases of death. So…

  • The other week a reporter asked POTUS Trump whether or not plans were already in place for the quarantine of entire cities if the need arises. He answered yes.
    • I’m sure that if this were to be effected it would be done so by the National Guard before anyone knows, including all law enforcement, who will likewise be quarantined in place in their cities.
    • Immediately after the National Guard is in place for a no one in-or-out scenario, health officials and law enforcement will be privy to policies and enforcement and rules of engagement.
    • It would be extremely helpful if in the same announcement it was said that food delivery trucks to supermarkets will have drop off locations at the border of the quarantine and that other trucks from inside will later come to pick up that food and deliver it to local supermarkets.
    • Gasoline deliveries? I guess they would have to be made when the stations are otherwise abandoned.
    • It would have to be stated that utilities will continue.
    • Extremely severe penalties for price gauging and looting would have to be stated.
  • demon panThe worst possible thing that could happen is panic. In that case, there will immediately be home invasions of idiots looking for food, not because there is any lack of food, but just because of panic. This will be done by those who have already been spending all their money on drugs. And they are well practiced with home invasions. Not good.
  • Panic in this sorry world of ours – the mob mentality which eliminates all “inhibitions” like reason and goodness and kindness and courage and fortitude and justice and mercy – the eliminator of all that is good in the chaos of panic is the demon-god Pan. This is not the too-cute and effeminate Peter Pan of Disney, but rather the ancient demon of all demons, Satan, who, as Jesus says, is a murderer from the beginning. Panic is the worst thing that can happen.
  • What is most needed in a Pan-Dem-ic is to not cave into panic, to not cave into Pan-Demon-ium. Get it? Pan in Greek means all or everything or everyone: “Everybody’s panicking!!!!!!!”
  • To panic is to give reverence to the demon-god pan. Panic makes one a worshiper of Pan. Panic makes one a pagan, an idol-worshiper. “Oooh! Pan told me to worry and have anxiety and to panic, so, therefore, of course, ever-obedient to demons, I will! I will panic! I will! I will! // off sarcasm.
  • So, an examination of conscience is in order. What or who is the most important thing, person, during a pandemic? Christ Jesus. If we have our spiritual lives squared away, if we are actually looking forward to going to heaven, trusting in the mercies of our Lord, we will not cave in to panic, we will not worship at the feet of Pan.
  • For atheists who mock faith in the time of crisis as the opiate of society, know this, the only ones I’ve ever seen help each other out in desperate times are believers. This is especially true in Socialist/Communist/Marxist countries. You know that’s true. I’ve seen it first hand. Believers have extraordinary strength of love and reason because of the love and truth they carry about within them coming from God Himself.

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  • Where is God in all of this? Look for those who are trying to be helpful in all of this. Look at Jesus’ good mom holding God in her arms…
  • But why did God let this happen?
    • Let’s call to mind that original sin opened us up to all of this sickness and death and weakness of mind and weakness of will and emotions all over the place.
    • Let’s call to mind that God so loved that world despite our use of free will that He sent His only-Begotten Divine Son Jesus – basing mercy on justice – to stand in our place, the Innocent for the guilty, taking on the punishment we deserve so that He might have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us.
    • Let’s call to mind that God thus knows all about suffering, and all about combating panic and the horrific demon-god Pan.
    • Let’s call to mind that Jesus does give us the grace, His friendship, to be reasonable, to be calm, to be good and kind, not to panic, but to be helpful, pointing people to Him who is that love which is stronger than sickness, stronger than any pandemic, stronger than death, strong enough to bring us to eternal life, to our eternal home, where love and peace reign supreme. Heaven is our home and we are now – in this hell – in exile away from home. But we do have a home in heaven, and we right now carry about the way to that home, grace which St Paul says will turn to glory.

So, no worries then! Jesus, I joyously trust in You.

JESUS I AM

Meanwhile, I’ve lost 52.xx pounds on Keto so far, and I’m going off Keto soon, transitioning over to something more high protein and not neglecting carbs. Trundling off to Walmart grocery to stock up on non-Keto items, I noticed lots of almost empty shelves, just a few packages of oatmeal, a packet or two of lentil beans, that kind of thing. It looked like panic buying. That’s O.K. Those panic buyers are all set now and won’t be emptying out stores in panic buying. Don’t panic. Instead, drop off real dead weight that holds you back. Go to Confession!

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The reward of having fun during Lent

Our ineptitude with prayer, fasting and almsgiving gains us some incisive instruction from Jesus in how to go about all this growing in friendship with Himself. The last thing Jesus wants is that we are moping around, all sad that we are growing in His friendship. That’s not offering Him friendship, that’s doing no good to ourselves, and is a terrible advertisement to others for being friends with Jesus. Jesus expects us to be happy about growing in friendship with Him.

  • “And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:16-18)

So, what’s that reward? Why, the reward is growing in friendship with Jesus. And that’s a true joy.

  • We pray also to know that we cannot pray as we ought as St Paul says. That knowledge hurts our pride, but if we are humble, it is an occasion for rejoicing, as we can then learn and grow to depend on the Holy Spirit, who has us pray through, with and in Jesus: “Abba! Father!” with Jesus, one with Him in the Agony of the Garden. Such solidarity with the Divine Son of the Living God, learning to stay awake, to watch and pray, unlike the not yet saints apostles, Peter, James and John, is a true joy.
  • We fast to know that we of ourselves are so terribly tied to our basic necessities as if they were the be-all and end-all of our eternal necessities, when instead we will simply turn to dust no matter how well provided we are with this world’s necessities. And that’s tough to learn, as we don’t want to let go of the security we think we can provide for ourselves. Our “security” is no security at all. Our lives can end within a moment regardless of what we think we do. A layman, a hero to me, a great friend of mine, a one-time parishioner, a great friend of Cardinal Ratzinger, basically running the Church in a certain country as best he could, having liberal-ass (sorry!) bishops deposed and better bishops appointed via Cardinal Ratzinger, was dictating a letter to his wife in the evening in their bedroom. He suddenly looked at her and told her that this wasn’t necessary. “Why not?” she asked. “Jesus is here,” he said in great wonder and awe and reverence. “He’s here.” And then he dropped to the floor, dead, called by our Lord, just like that.
  • We give alms, not letting our left hand know what our right is doing, not counting the cost (gauged by whether or not we congratulate ourselves, gauged by whether or not we have donor fatigue that is proportional to how much we congratulate ourselves)… we give alms so that we know just how stingy we are, of ourselves, learning to grow, then, in the generosity of our Lord, who was so very generous as to stand in our place, the Innocent for the guilty, so that He might have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us.

When we come to know a bit of humble thanksgiving before Jesus, having learned and grown in His friendship, we cannot but rejoice, even in the midst of all the hell of this world that we get to know better through our ineptitude in fasting, prayer and almsgiving. Our heavenly Father so loved us as to send Jesus to us. How outrageous wonderful that we are to be rewarded when Jesus does everything. Our reward is to realize that He is our Savior, our Friend, Christ our God, that He is the One, the only One.

Might it seem that THE LION, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, is asleep while we – oooh! – suffer so much in our fasting, prayer and almsgiving? Sure. But know this, He is the One doing battle for us, providing us with friendship inasmuch as we, in His grace, are humble enough to receive it. Then we realize that He has been the One doing battle the whole time over against Satan, and that He, Jesus, is the last one standing, and we with Him. Do you dare to become closer friends with Jesus this Lent in prayer, fasting and almsgiving? What I mean is… this Jesus, the great Lion of the Tribe of Judah:

lion of the tribe of judah

The total sum of fasting, prayer and almsgiving is to GO TO CONFESSION!

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“The piercing insights” of Fr Byers…

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Sometimes people will comment that there is sometimes some piercing insight on this blog. A priest friend made this comment the other day. He’s very clever. And kryptic.

You have to know that many of the more brilliant minds have made it clear that they are sick and tired of “insight” and “the latest thing” and “being up to date”. It’s all too much. Too tiresome. Breathless. And therefore boring.

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But this priest friend is so very kryptic that I knew he had something more in mind. Rumination on his “piercing insight” comment was the order of the day. It struck me early on that he was speaking of the insight, quite literally, if you will, that the soldier on Calvary had in looking into the side of Jesus – to the Heart of our Lord – that he had just then pierced open with a wound large enough for – say – Thomas the doubter to place his hand into.

That soldier on Calvary – with this piercing insight, if you will – then immediately exclaimed: Truly this Man was the Son of God.

My own piercing insight, if I have any whatsoever, is that my sin has pierced Him through, you know, like the Roman soldier, just to make sure that He’s dead.

We read in the Apocalypse 1:7 –

  • “Behold, he is coming amid the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him. All the peoples of the earth will lament him. Yes. Amen.”

Have mercy, Lord, have mercy.

 

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Holy Family: Chaos Unexpected. Nothing calm, contemplative, peaceful. NO!

Holy Family not

I’m a bit rough on Saint Paul VI, who gave an address in Nazareth on 5 January 1964 in which he spoke wonderfully about the Holy Family. Perhaps I’m jaded, but I thought it was too sweet about the Holy Family, too nice, too peaceful, too calm, too silent, so contemplative, so prayerful. I’m sure he meant all that in an innocuous manner. But whatever his good and holy intentions, well, I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all. I make that really quite clear.

Also, when I get on a rant like this, all worked up, I might make brave in attributing things to those to whom they don’t belong. I don’t know if it was in this particular recorded homily or another the same day in which I attributed the phrase “field hospital” not only to Pope Francis but also perhaps to Saint John Paul II, et al. Sorry about that. Don’t get stuck on that kind of thing. I’m getting older. Forgive me. The point is about holiness embracing chaos for holiness’ sake, you know, like Jesus stretching out His arms to embrace us… on the cross… And this chaos started at His birth and never stopped…

Paul VI did, of course, make plenty of great points about the spiritual life and the correct priorities in life we should all have. I agree with all those. But still, it set me into rant mode. Here’s that address of Paul VI. You might want to read over it before listening to the homily. Perhaps I go into rant mode because Paul VI, a saint, flies right over my head and I just don’t get what he’s on about.


From an address by Saint Paul VI, pope
(Nazareth, January 5, 1964) Nazareth, a model

Nazareth is a kind of school where we may begin to discover what Christ’s life was like and even to understand his Gospel. Here we can observe and ponder Continue reading

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Not Three Kings, but Three Wise Women?!

This was sent in to Arise! Hmmm… Let’s take a look at that… [The one who sent this in, BTW, has a great sense of humor, and won’t mind a bit that I’m fisking this dish cloth hanging in front of the stove. What I say, although incisive, will I hope, also bring about a wee laugh.]

  • Three Wise Women would have ignored the guiding star instead asking directions to a place they had no idea where it was and so couldn’t ask directions and so would get themselves into trouble, at the least being sold into slavery…
  • Three Wise Women, in ignoring the star and so arriving in what they themselves think is on time – they being so wise – would have instead messed up the divine providence of the timing so that Herod would have been successful in killing Jesus with all the boys of Bethlehem two years old and under…
  • Three Wise Women would have tried to help the deliver the baby, which, instead of being born in the normal way, had a miraculous birth, much like how Jesus Himself walked right through the closed and locked doors of the Upper Room after the Resurrection, and this would have made them upset, because, you know, they came all that way…
  • Because of being upset with the miraculous birth, the three Wise Women would have ignored the moment and purposely busied themselves with the feces of the animals, because that’s the most important thing at the moment. We should call to mind that when Jesus’ good mom appeared to Bernadette in Lourdes, it was in the cave filled with pig-feces, symbolic of what was going on in Lourdes at the time. Mary is used to humble circumstances, and in being in solidarity with us, even standing under the Cross in all the violence, in the … feces of our sins.
  • Three Wise Women would have made a casserole, ignoring Hebrew dietary laws but bullying their way along, making everyone sad…
  • Three Wise Women wouldn’t realize the most practical thing in the world is to pray, not doing the Martha thing running about in frantic mode, but doing the Mary thing, at the feet of Jesus, in this case listening to His baby cooing.
    • Instead of gold for a king as a symbol of His good providence in governance for the poor ones of His little flock, the three Wise Women would have started a much more practical interest-bearing bank account, perhaps with Herod. Who else?
    • Instead of frankincense for The Priest as a symbol of how He would offer Himself in sacrifice for us, the Innocent for guilty, and so having the right in His own justice to have mercy on us, the three Wise Women would have given him Febreze™ Plug In Scents to suffocate the smells of the cave.
    • Instead of Myrrh used for the burial of a corpse – such as Jesus would surely be in speaking the Truth and thus being killed off like any prophet – the three Wise Women would have gifted Him normal spices that they could mix up in the casserole they themselves would eat.

And all this – let us be most clear – NOT because they are women, but because these three individual women would proclaim themselves as being wise (which the three kings never did), ending up, in their lack of wisdom, rejecting the entire economy of salvation to put themselves in front of everyone, drawing attention to themselves, you know, all in the name of Feminism, which brings the peace of a mere lack of war, what with everyone being dead already, instead of the sword of division which Jesus in His perfect wisdom came to bring, a sword of truth which instead brings us to reality, to repentance, to forgiveness, and therefore to love and respect for others, unto truth and the joy of the Holy Spirit, and therefore unto the true peace of Heaven. Jesus is the Prince of the Most Profound Peace. I’ll stick with His ways so far above the ways of any of us who think we are wise. We have all sinned against Him whom we have all pierced. We have all thought ourselves to be wise… So… Jesus is the One. He’s the only One.

Having said all that, I have to say that that dish towel perfectly sums up the Benedictine sisters I had for teachers when I was kid, that is, after 1968 and into the early 1970s. Yikes!

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Mortuary Christmas 23 Dec 2019

flores-christmas

It’s what priests do, you know, when they are with those who are on the peripheries of society and family or friends are not available for whatever reason. We are called upon to “identify the body” at the mortuary. It’s a legal exercise. There are forms to fill out, IDs to be photocopied and put on record, signatures to be scrawled. I’m sure many of you have had the experience.

Jesus didn’t come to be born among us because we were all effervescent and nice and without the consequences of original sin such as sickness and death and suffering the aggression of others whilst we remain in exile on this earth and away from heaven (as we must hope). He came among us because of the violence and darkness and hell and, yes, death all around us and we ourselves dropping into the grave. He was born in a cave to be buried in a cave, and then rise and bring us to life.

So, does the visit to the mortuary become a downer, as is said, just before Christmas? Not at all. It instead puts an edge on Christmas. We know all the better by experience why it is that Jesus came among us. It’s an occasion to say:

Thank you Jesus for coming into this world amidst all of our death and destruction. Thank you for forgiving us and bringing us close to you, unto heaven. Thank you.

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Christmas nostalgia. Going back in time.

I get terribly nostalgic at Christmas time, as it should be. Wouldn’t the good shepherds who watched their flocks by night recount when the Christ Child was sent, their fear and trembling when they received the announcement and then saw the heavens break open and heard the choirs of angels sing? Wouldn’t they have spoken in hushed tones full of reverence and awe as they called to mind the humble scene of the animals and the manger, the little babe in swaddling clothes, the gentle virgin and attentive Joseph, the singing of the angels still resounding joyfully in their ears?

As they put on some years they would be looking the wood of the manger become the wood of the cross, at least figuratively speaking. They would understand that this Child was, in fact, born to die, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace, Himself the Shepherd who doesn’t run away.

I can’t help but put up these videos from a long defunct blog of mine, videos which travel along the cliffs of Mount Carmel that run underneath Elijah’s cave. Ah, yes, the dire circumstances of the cave at his birth, and the dire circumstances of the cavernous sepulcher at His death. But then the Resurrection.

And He is with us with a love stronger than death, a love bringing us through death to heaven, those eternal habitations.

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Three meetings of John and Jesus

martyrdom of saint john the baptist

  1. John is still in the womb at his first meeting with Jesus, who is also in the womb, working His first miracle of grace for John, who is sanctified in the womb, leaping for joy while his mother, Elizabeth, is filled with the Holy. This means that, unlike us, John is born holy, and the greatest among all those born of women for this reason. But Jesus says that the smallest in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he. That would be Mary, who calls herself the Immaculate Conception. She was sanctified not just later on in the womb, but at the very moment of her conception. She was already transformed in grace from that very moment, when she is so very small, and so very humble, already rejoicing in the greatness of the Lord. She, as Queen of Heaven and Earth, angels and men, the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God, is still the Immaculate Conception. Transformed in grace at that instant, she was already doing the will of God and continued that until now. Yes, she’s greater in her smallness, in her humility.
  2. The second meeting is the baptism of Jesus. John is the greatest prophet. He knows all the prophesies about the Messiah being the Suffering Servant. He knows all about the Lamb in the future that God would provide as the One to take away our sins. But he is stunned – in the moment – that Jesus would come down for his baptism, which was, after all, unto the remission of sin, and the Messiah would be sinless. Jesus’ explanation was brief, and John, being the greatest, understood. The symbolism of the baptism was that people were admitting that they were guilty of enslaving each other in sin, and should be punished with drowning just like the soldiers and charioteers of Pharaoh, pursuing the chosen people in the Red Sea, were drowned for having enslaved the chosen people in physical labor. If Jesus were to come down into the waters He would be saying to His Heavenly Father: “Father, treat me as if I’m guilty for having enslaved everyone in sin, from Adam until the last man is conceived.” John understood: Jesus is the suffering servant. Jesus was then baptized. But then Jesus said that now He longs for the Baptism for which He came, the baptism in His own blood.
  3. The third meeting between John and Jesus was by proxy. John was now in prison for having preached about Jesus and for having preached the commandments terribly out of season, to Herod. He would surely get his head cut off. So John has a snarky kind of rude question asked to Jesus by his disciples: “Are you really the Messiah, or should we look for another.” After all, it’s just fine for the Messiah to be the Suffering Servant, but – Hey! – what about John in prison?! Jesus lists off all the things that the disciples of John had already seen, the sick cured, the dead raised, all that. But Jesus doesn’t include freedom specifically for John the prisoner, but simply adds: “Blessed are those who take no offense at me” (the subtext being: even those who don’t get something for themselves in this world). John has to figure out what this means, and there is only one possible meaning, that Jesus considers John to be such a good friend that He is going to allow John to share in the Messiah’s sufferings. This is about friendship. It’s a privilege to witness to Jesus even unto death. John was then, of course, supremely happy. His was a happy death.

John is – dare I say it – a Co-Redeemer in the sense that he also belongs to the Body of Christ. When Christ lays down His life for us He also lays down our lives. Thank you, Jesus, our Redeemer alone, but with friends. “I call you friends.”

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Humility, please!

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (O felix culpa! Oh happy fault! ed.) Question and Answer time.

These are not flowers, but they do represent what I would give to my mom in a huge ceramic vase I made as a Sophomore (wise-fool) in high school for this very purpose. These are out on the ridge of the hermitage, though I’ve never seen them in Western North Carolina in the eight years I’ve been here. Up in Minnesota they are everywhere to be seen. I was fascinated by them as a kid and still am today. I love God’s good creation. That doesn’t mean I bow down to Pachamama. No. But I do think of friends who walk in the Lord’s presence in the Lord’s good creation and praise Him as might a little child for all the good God’s goodness. And after all the Pachamama rubbish, I think it’s imperative to give flowers (at least of sorts) to the Immaculate Conception, Jesus’ good mom.

But if you think all of this is irrelevant to the challenges of today’s society and culture, think again. I had a wild conversation with an unbaptized person the other day who grew up quite entirely unchurched, so to speak. That person had some questions, for which I attempted some answer, all of which is here paraphrased:

QUESTION: Would Mary, having been immaculately conceived, without original sin, have died, whether or not Jesus, the Word Incarnate, came among us.

ANSWER: Mary had to be redeemed like anyone else. Time is a creation of God, who holds time, as it were, in His hands, from beginning to end. If Mary were not to have been redeemed at the moment of her conception (which is indicated in the Hebrew text of Genesis), Mary would have died because of having been subjected to original sin with all of its consequences. Death is specifically pointed out as a consequence immediately in Genesis and then by Saint Paul.

  • Excursus: Saint Augustine, having been inspired by Saint Ambrose, exclaimed “Oh! Happy Fault!” regarding original sin, a bit tongue in cheek, in that this was the occasion for so great a redemption, so that with this, we not only walk in God’s presence once again, but we do so as united to the Mystical Body of Christ, brought through, with and in Jesus before the Father by the fiery Holy Spirit in this way. The great hymn at the Easter Vigil, the Exsultet, fully exclaims: O felix culpa quae talem et tantum meruit habere redemptorem (Oh happy fault, which merited us to have such a great Redeemer!) But Mary’s exclamation is even greater, for not only was she redeemed, but she also became Jesus’ good mom.

QUESTION: So, how is it that Mary died if she still had a pristine agent-intellect (otherwise lost for us by Adam with original sin) that could draw matter to spirit with integrity and therefore have her live forever without dying at all?

ANSWER: Pius XII plainly says that Mary died prior to her assumption. We might split some hairs by saying that Mary didn’t really “die”, but that, in her assumption body and soul into heaven was rather changed “in the twinkling of an eye” as Saint Paul says for those who are alive when Jesus comes again, their mortal bodies putting on immortality (and so a kind of death to our present state).

But methinks such talk is wrought in fear of offending Mary’s immaculate conception: she was not subject to original sin and its punishment of death, so SHE DIDN’T DIE! But Jesus, the innocent and divine Son of the Living God died for us, right? What about that? Jesus came into this world to take our place, the Innocent for the guilty, so that having suffered our own punishment for sin even while being innocent, He could, in His own justice, justly have mercy on us: “Father, forgive them!” But He rose from the dead as one cannot keep the very Author of Life down. He didn’t have to die. Not only could He have kept aggressors at bay (Do you think that I cannot call upon my Father and He will not provide me at this moment with more than twelve legions of angels?”Matthew 26:53), but He could also have kept His body with full integrity by way of His pristine agent intellect. But He chose not to do this, in obedience to the Father (see John 3:16). He let Himself die on purpose.

In my not so humble opinion, although Jesus would have eventually died from the scourging and crucifixion, what precipitated His death is what happened in the Garden of Gethsemane. The sweating of blood indicates a trauma of such magnitude that it would be accompanied by a massive heart attack, so that even the pericardium, part of the heart surrounding the heart, would break. That would fill with blood, which in turn would separate into red blood cells and plasma, and gush out when Jesus’ heart was pierced the next day. Jesus’ dies from his broken heart beginning in Gethsemane, with the trauma coming about because of not wanting his good mom to see His sufferings. But: “Not my will, but Thine be done.” He did that for us. For us. That’s very good and kind of Him. Thank you, Jesus.

I believe that Mary also died in this way. She dies from the same kind of broken heart for having seen all the sin of all mankind from Adam until the last man is conceived by way of looking upon her Son tortured to death on the cross. That’s all of our sin written out in His wounds. She understood what His death meant, what with her purity of heart and agility of soul following upon her immaculate conception. We have no idea, but she saw our need perfectly. She was in perfect solidarity with her Son’s purpose. She interceded for us perfectly. She had in order to do this, to be in perfect solidarity with her Son.

This is only right in justice: if she is to ask for what Jesus gives to us because of her maternal solidarity with her Son, she then has to see what she is asking for, which means she has to suffer all the horrific trauma this will bring to her maternal and now literally broken heart, which means that she has to see it through to the end, all the trauma, all the death, no giving up, no compromise, no being a mother merely part-time or only until it gets rough. Mary lasted until Pentecost, but I don’t think long after that at all.

  • Excursus Question: Couldn’t Jesus have saved Mary, or vice-versa?
  • Excursus Answer:
    • The shorter answer is that they wouldn’t have done this, as everything about the manner of our redemption requires that mercy is founded on justice, with God the Father’s Son, with Mary Immaculate’s Divine Son, standing in our place, the Innocent for the guilty. God is the one who works miracles, not us, not even the Immaculate Conception.
    • The longer answer that when the saints work miracles, it’s not them, but God happily following up on their intercession for others or even for themselves. Jesus often said: “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” We have no integral agent intellect, but Jesus does, and by living faith we become, as Saint Paul says, living members of His Body, the Body of Christ, or as Pius XII says, the members of the “Mystical Body of Christ.” The Person of the Divine Son of God Incarnate works the miracle also through His human nature.

So, that’s a pretty intense Q and A, don’t you think? Remember that this is with an unbaptized, quite entirely unchurched person. Methinks that the Lord’s little flock is hungry for the truth of the Son of the Living God, Jesus, so much so as also to want to know something of Jesus’ good mom. That’s as it should be. The weight of the glory of God bears down on us all in this sorry world, bringing us hopefully to our knees before Mary’s Son, Jesus.

Back to flowers for the Immaculate Conception, and looking at the milkweed above, and to use Jesus’ own parables: when the seed goes withersoever the wind blows, to that dark storm on Calvary, it is finally planted deep in the earth, and then bears much fruit, having witnessed to its vocation unto the end. And then Jesus rises and ascends to heaven. And then Mary, who gave Jesus His human nature, is rightly also assumed into heaven. All a pledge for us, that we are intended to go to heaven as well.

O felix culpla! O happy fault!

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