Tag Archives: Jesus

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:

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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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Hanging off of Jesus, listening (Luke 19:48)

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If bible translators would stop dumbing down the Scriptural text and just give us exactly what’s there we would all be a lot better off. I think that a lot of the lack of preaching about Jesus, the lack of friendship with Jesus among so many in the Church today is because we don’t know Jesus, because we have not been properly introduced to him. Ideology gets in the way. Lets take a look at Luke 19:48 for a good example:

  • From the Greek: ὁ λαoς γαρ ἅπας ἐξεκρέματο αὐτοῦ ἀκούων.
  • Pedantic translation: for all the people were hanging off of Him, listening. [This is very personal. Jesus is important. He is Emmanuel, God with us. That’s most important. Now that we are enthralled by that, let’s also listen to Him! The message is important because of the Messenger.]

Among dozens of translations, I found a few with versions of that exact translation. It is possible. It’s right there. It’s not difficult. But most have something quite different:

  • For all the people were hanging upon his words. [But not Him. We wouldn’t want that, I guess. Better something academic, that we can consider as the mature people we are and reject or not, just words, an ideology, but not at all something so serious as God among us. Right?]
  • For all the people listened with admiration. [Again forgetting about Jesus.]
  • For all the people were suspended by his words, listening. [Really about the message. Intensely. But the Messenger?]
  • For all the people were suspended, listening to him. [I guess they were all hanging from trees, listening anyway?]
  • For all the people were suspended from his lips. [That’s the one I like the best. I guess that translator was from the Mursi tribe in Africa.]

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The greatness of nothing and useless: judgment and entering into life eternal

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This statement of accomplishment is nailed up next to the main entrance of a parishioner to whom I frequently bring Holy Communion. He an Air Force Veteran full of stories and laughter. He looks at sickness and not-all-that-distant death as just another task that he’s obliged to do, you know, like Jesus says:

  • “When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are useless servants. We’ve only done what we were obliged to do.'” (Luke 17:10)

When we of ourselves, apart from the Lord, dream up all sorts of things to do which are not His will for us, we’re actually just doing nothing. So, we’re pretty useless. At least I can dream up all sorts of distractions to be distracted with.

Meanwhile, if we set out to do the Lord’s will for us, He’s not merely going to help us, He’s going to do it, meaning, He will draw us up into His love and goodness and kindness and truth, and this… He… will be the driving force accomplishing what we have to do, what we obliged to do.

What an honor to be able to say that we’ve only done what we were obliged to do, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else, just the Lord’s will, glorious, majestic, with honor, with honor, with honor.

My goal in life, so to speak, as it were, is to do nothing of my own, to do only what I’m obliged to do. That would be a dream come true. St Paul says, crucified to ourselves so as to live for Christ.

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Jesus Christ you are my life

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End result of Mary’s enculturation

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The end result of all good enculturation is described for us in the Scriptures:

  • Zechariah 12:10 – And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.
  • John 19:37 – And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”
  • Apocalypse 1:7 – Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.

The Immaculate Virgin Mother of God is singled out in Genesis 3:15 as one to do battle over against Satan. She does that maternally with us, placing us – of every tribe and tongue and people and nation and, dare I say, culture – before the wounds our Warrior, her Divine Son, Christ Jesus. No exceptions. Mary is the leader in enculturation because she simply places us before Christ’s goodness and truth and kindness and truth and love and truth. Being with Jesus, God, cuts through all cultural expressions of whatever madness. Look at her and tell me it isn’t true. Can’t do it, can you?

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Seriously, that reaches across cultural “boundaries” does it not?

God Himself, standing in our place, the Innocent for the guilty, so that He might have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us, that touches even fallen human hearts unless they have totally given themselves over to Satan purposely.

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Most Holy Trinity & Revelation

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That’s a trike at a friend’s house much like a trike I had in the early 1960s as a tiny little kid. I had trained up for such an entirely too-tall trike on a much smaller trike, you know, when I was a much tinier much littler kid. I appreciated the stability of a third wheel.

You have heard that it was said that the Most Holy Trinity was reduced to the Father and the Holy Spirit when the Word became Flesh and dwelt amonst us, so that the Word Incarnate was not divine, but merely a human being whilst He walked this earth, until He was crucified. How very absurd. How very blasphemous. When you kick out a wheel from a trinity a crash ensues. All is then nihilistic.

It’s the same with Revelation, which is constituted by Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, always together, and then stabilized on our behalf by that which is not Revelation, but which carries the guarantee of infallibility from Christ Himself, that is, the infallible Magisterium. Kick out one wheel of the trinity and they all fall. People immediately say that their theology (which is NOT faith, by the way) rules over Scripture, so that while they say “Scripture alone”, what they mean is that they can rewrite Scripture to their own relativistic whims and desires. In throwing away supernatural (not brain-invented) faith, people also throw out Sacred Tradition, which is wrought univocally in us by the Holy Spirit, not by our bullying handing on of whatever it is we think we otherwise perceive. It all falls. We need some guidance both on Sacred Scripture and the Faith Supernaturally provided, that is, by the infallible Magisterium which is provided to Peter and his successors as viable by Christ Jesus, the Word Incarnate Himself.

While Prometheanesque, Pelagianesque, self-referential, self-absorbed individuals in the Church rampage with their ambiguity and heresies and cowardly arrogant violence, those individuals, it must be remembered, are simply representing themselves. The doctrine and morality of the Church have never changed. No pressure group of laity, no group of priests, no stampede of bishops or cardinals nor even the Pope himself can reverse revealed doctrine and morality. They are not God. And for that matter, God cannot change doctrine and morality; God cannot change the Truth. God is the Living Truth.

The trike of the Most Holy Trinity and the trike of Revelation in the Church just keep rolling, however much anyone thinks they can kick out this or that wheel. They only make for a crash and burn experience for themselves, not for God, not for the Church as such.

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Becoming upset with the chaos. “Beginning the Church’s downfall”

We usually get upset when we’re frustrated, which is when things are out of control, when we get nervous that the spinning of worldliness is spinning away while the true pole of the earth is tossed as irrelevant. However, it remains true that the Cross remains while the world spins away:

Crux stat dum volvitur orbis.

That’s just a two second video of Shadow-dog above. He demonstrates well my reaction to anyone holding the cross to be irrelevant. That’s my reaction because I’m not as close to Christ Jesus as I should be. So, I get nervous, upset. How stupid is that. We must retain our peace of heart even if we also have anguish of soul. Anyway, I had that frustrated reaction the other day to something someone who should know better said of a proclamation of Saint Pope Paul VI to the Fathers of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council which received something like a dozen minutes of thunderous and unanimous applause in Saint Peter’s Basilica. Try anything more than ten seconds of applause…

Because Jesus is the Head of the Body – so to speak – and the members of the Church are the members of that Body, Saint Pope Paul VI proclaimed Mary to be Mother of the Church, Mater Ecclesiae, which title is no innovation, no heresy, but is instead a title which is humbly bestowed upon her so as to celebrate the reality of her motherhood. She is the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God, and her prayers for us under that steadfasat Cross that we might receive the grace of redemption as salvation directly from her Divine Son appropriately confers upon her such a title, for she is, then, our mother in this way, Mother of the Church.

The nasty thing I heard someone who should know better say is that this proclamation was the beginning of the end of the Church. I was stunned. Perhaps I didn’t hear correctly. Perhaps he meant to say that Mary’s inclusion in Lumen Gentium, the dogmatic decree on the Church, was and is somehow the driving engine bringing all to hell. Or perhaps he was saying that in general about the Council itself and he had no intention of demeaning our Lady.

But this is a symptom of the times, is it not? Flippant statements smashing everything and everyone down? Two seconds to throw all into chaos, and then smirking away. Wow.

But things are not “out of control”. The Lord Jesus remains the Lord of History. And we can remain with Him. He can and does make us part of the Holy Family. He does forgive us. He does fill us with sanctifying grace. He does give us the wherewithal to continue.

If that video above were to continue, one would see Shadow-dog immediately lie down and peacefully oversee his domain. A good example. Goooood daaaawwwg!

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