Tag Archives: Jesus

Republished: John the Baptist’s birthday, because he was sanctified in his mother’s womb

visitation from peregabrielcom.png

[The painting above is from peregabriel.com. A very cool site!]

Remember that the easiest way to pray the rosary is to recognize that Jesus and Mary and Joseph are with you right here, right now, as they are in heaven, not as they were a couple thousand years ago. Sure, take a look at what they did for you and all back in the day, but, in our Lord’s grace, with a spirit of humble thanksgiving for them, right here, right now.

Remember, it’s not about your imagination that you are in their presence, which Pelagian effort of imagination is a lot of hooey. Rather, your act of the will in our Lord’s grace to humbly thank Him and our Blessed Mother is what the prayer of the rosary is all about.

Clever meditations, whether in “rant” style such as in this article, or, later, please God, in a style presented in a more genteel manner, don’t get anyone anywhere. The only way what is presented on this blog is going to help anyone is if that someone, by the grace of our Lord, uses these words as an occasion to humbly thank the Holy Family right now for what went on back in the day.

* * *

For this preliminary “rant meditation” on the second joyful mystery of the most holy rosary, let’s leave off Luke 1,5-25 (the scene with Zachariah) and Luke 1,46-80 (saving those for future meditations!), concentrating on Luke 1,39-45, for which a summary interlinear comment will be provided, based on my own in-your-face translation from the Greek, with an eye to the Vulgate. I’m not into the esoteric practice of translating one word for one word, as if, magically, all languages had absolutely perfect one word for one word equivalents. Such pretension cannot ever provide a great translation, unless you’re in a position to create the language, as was the case with the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, which made up a goodly number of words, but paraphrased the rest. Instead, trying to avoid coining any words, I’ll provide a translation with more in-your-face accuracy than any one word for one word translation could ever present. Note that the “perfect” verbs, with their continuing perfection, are not easy to translate! …

Luke 1,39 But Mary, having arisen in these days, went out into the hill country with enthusiastic haste, into a city of Judah, 40 and she entered into the house of Zachariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And it came about that as Elizabeth listened to the greeting of Mary, the unborn child leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 And she cried out with a great exclamation and said: “You are perfectly continuing to remain perfectly blessed among women, and the Fruit of your womb is perfectly continuing to remain perfectly blessed. 43 And how has this come about to me that the Mother of my Lord might come to me? 44 For behold! As the voice of your greeting came about in my ears, the unborn child leaped in exaltation in my womb. 45 And blessed is she who has believed that the things spoken to her by the Lord, perfectly continuing to remain with their perfective force, will have fulfillment.”

O.K. Let’s try some interlinear commentary:

Luke 1,39 But Mary, having arisen in these days [“these days,” not “those days.” This speaks to what is happening to Mary interiorly. She’s immediately thinking of Hanna’s words, and singing the “Magnificat”. But, more on that in a, please God, future meditation.], went out into the hill country [which is also way up from Nazareth] with enthusiastic haste, into a city of Judah [Just a couple of miles down from Jerusalem: “enthusiastic haste”… I remember walking from the Sea of Galilee down to Jericho with enthusiastic haste the day before the first Gulf War with Saddam Hussain. I had intended to go up to Jerusalem past Saint George monastery, but the military nicely, but forcefully had some of the settlers crowd drive me the rest of the way to Jerusalem. Anyway, just to say, I was about twice the age that Mary would have been. It took me one day to do that. Her enthusiastic haste bore the Son of God, giving wings to her feet], 40 and she entered into the house of Zachariah and greeted Elizabeth. [What a greeting! Mary was filled with her “Magnificat” already, her heart and soul bursting with the praise of God…] 41 And it came about that as Elizabeth listened to the greeting of Mary, the unborn child leaped in her womb [This is traditionally understood as the sanctification of John the Baptist in the womb of Elizabeth. This is why the birthday of John the Baptist is celebrated, along with that of Mary and Jesus. He was already holy in the womb, as were Jesus and Mary.], and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit [This cannot but give great joy to our hearts and souls!]. 42 And she cried out with a great exclamation [to be repeated countless times in later centuries] and said: “You are perfectly continuing to remain perfectly blessed among women, and the Fruit of your womb is perfectly continuing to remain perfectly blessed [which completes the first part of the Hail Mary, the earlier parts being those said by the angel Gabriel to Mary, a very biblical prayer…]. 43 And how has this come about to me [such humility, which can always be had before the greatest goodness and kindness, so far beyond us, and yet with us…] that the Mother of my Lord might come to me? [“The Mother of my Lord”… A prophecy to be noted today: the blastocyst is not implanted in the uterus in the mother until about nine days after conception. Give Mary and all her enthusiastic haste, very likely traveling alone, about – what? – a day, two days, three to get to Elizabeth… At any rate, before implantation of the conceived Child, just a few cells at this stage: “The Mother of my Lord”… Pius XII instructed us that the just conceived Jesus in the womb of Mary embraced the entire Mystical Body of Christ from, in fact, the first instant of His conception.] 44 For behold! As the voice of your greeting came about in my ears, the unborn child leaped in exaltation in my womb [Not the normal “kick”!]. 45 And blessed is she who has believed that the things spoken to her by the Lord, perfectly continuing to remain with their perfective force, will have fulfillment.” [Elizabeth… What a great saint… So filled with the Holy Spirit, instructed by the Holy Spirit… knowing the truth of it all. Wow! The two of them! What joy they would have had during those months with Mary helping Elizabeth. Our Lord Jesus, always foremost in their thoughts… Just so awesome… ]

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Liturgically appropriate bird feeders

IMG_20170309_083841

During this Lent, it is the Purple Finch which abounds at the bird feeder out front of the rectory. Purple is penitential by way of remembering how the color purple was used against our Lord. Purple dye was extremely rare, extremely expensive, obtained only from certain mollusks up near Lebanon in the days when our Lord walked this earth, and therefore affordable only by kings. Remember when violent Herod clothed our Lord in a purple robe and sent Him back to Pontius Pilate?

Embrace purple. Carry with you the weight of the glory of God as He is mocked and ridiculed and scorned and sent to His torture and death, He, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace. Do that, and be free as a bird.

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Terrorizing terrorists: DON’T DO IT!

adoration

Jesus, Terror of Demons: Have mercy on us!

When demonic hatred and lust for demonic power is admitted into the heart of man, creating terrorists where there was none before, there seems to be no possible limit to the lusting hatred that is thought to be absolute power.

One calls to mind the mountains of dismembered bodies of the Sinaloa cartel, the burning, beheading and crucifying of children by ISIS, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and on and on in the entire history of fallen mankind.

The terrorist latches onto a perspective attractive to him, the idea that he is in control on a universal scale, a conceit deceitfully appearing not to be constrained by time. It is eternal. Killing by way of terrorism those who otherwise live forever is a reality which cannot but suck one into this ever so violent self-referential vortex in which one pretends that one is not spinning about, but one is rather orchestrating the surrounding disturbance.

Until the unexpected comes about. One’s bluff is called. The terror of the terrorist in that moment cannot be equaled by all the other moments of terror had by innocent victims of terrorism. When the terrorist is caught out, the jaws of eternal hell yawn open, and the begging begins. When the Suffering Servant said, “Father, into your hands I commend my Spirit!” the demon terrorists cried out in terror…

“NO, DON’T DO IT! Don’t die! Come down from that cross! Don’t actually go ahead and die, calling our bluff! No! That’s not what we wanted! Remaining on the cross you will save them and manifest the Love of God! No! We just wanted to terrorize you into caving in to us! Don’t call us out! Don’t die! Save yourself for this world and save us from eternal hell!”

And He did die, victorious by dying, immediately entering hell to reprimand all the fallen spirits, providing them with irony that would make them writhe in frustration for all eternity. The Son of Man will now rise from the dead. Terror, for the innocent victim, in view of eternity, becomes a blip, a nothing. No power in that terror. Hah!

And then, the terrorist, the Roman Soldier who thrust his sword into the side of Christ Jesus, seeing that this battle was between God and Satan, immediately recognizes that the real terrorist is Satan, that the real Conqueror is Mary’s Divine Son. He, the soldier, the “enemy”, now says: “Truly this was the Son of God.”

“Do not fear those who can kill the body,” says Jesus. “Fear Him who can cast body and soul into hell.” That would be God, for only God is the One who will come to judge the living and the dead and world by fire, judging justly the true terrorists, Satan and those who remain with him, judging with mercy those who come back through redemption and salvation, like the Roman soldier who had been so good at provoking terror becoming the megaphone of believers throughout the ages: “Truly this was the Son of God.”

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Violence everywhere? Tell Jesus!

adoration

A reader sent this in from EWTN/CNA:

A priest’s stunning theory on why Juarez is less dangerous now

by Bárbara Bustamante  — Juarez, Mexico, Jan 26, 2017 / 04:59 am

Juarez, located in the state of Chihuahua in northern Mexico, was considered from 2008 to 2010 to be one of the the most dangerous cities in the world, due to drug trafficking violence and the constant struggles for power and territory between the cartels.

However, the city of 1.3 million inhabitants dropped off this list thanks to a significant decrease in the number of homicides: from 3,766 in 2010 to 256 in 2015.

Although this drop can be credited to an improvement in the work of local authorities, for Fr. Patrico Hileman – a priest responsible for establishing Perpetual Adoration chapels in Latin America – there is a much deeper reason: Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

“When a parish adores God day and night, the city is transformed,” Fr. Hileman said.

The priest told Radio María Argentina that in 2013 the missionaries opened the first Perpetual Adoration Chapel in Juarez. At that time “40 people a day were dying because two drug gangs were fighting over the city to move drugs into the United States.”

It was the Juarez and Sinaloa cartels, whose former leader Joaquín “el Chapo” Guzmán Loera was recently extradited from Mexico to the United States.

Fr. Hileman recalled that “the parishes were saying that the war wasn’t ending because a group of soldiers were with one gang and the police were with the other one. They were killing people, burning houses down so they would leave, fighting over the city.”

One of the parishes that was “desperate” asked the missionaries to open a Perpetual Adoration chapel because they assured that “only Jesus is going to save us from this, only Jesus can give us security.”

The missionaries only took three days to establish the first Perpetual Adoration chapel in Juarez.

Fr. Hileman told how one day, when the city was under a state of siege, a lady was on her way to the chapel to do her Holy Hour at 3:00 in the morning, when she was intercepted by six soldiers who asked her where she was heading.

When the woman told them that she was going to “the little chapel” the uniformed men asked her what place, because everything was closed at that hour. Then the woman proposed they accompany her to see for themselves.

When they got to the chapel, the soldiers found “six women making the Holy Hour at the 3:00 in the morning,” Fr. Hileman said.

At that moment the lady said to the soldiers: “Do you think you’re protecting us? We’re praying for you 24 hours a day.”

One of the uniformed men fell down holding his weapon,“crying in front of the Blessed Sacrament. The next day at 3:00 in the morning they saw him in civilian clothes doing a Holy Hour, crying oceans of tears,” he said.

Two months after the chapel was opened, the pastor “calls us and says to us: Father, since the chapel was opened there has not been one death in Juarez, it’s been two months since anyone has died.”

“We put up ten little chapels in a year,” Fr. Hileman said.

As if that were not enough, “at that time they were going to close the seminary because there were only eight seminarians and now there are 88. The bishop told me me that these seminarians had participated in the Holy Hours.”

Fr. Hileman pointed out that “that is what Jesus does in a parish” when people understand that “we find security in Christ.”

He also noted that “the greatest miracles occur in the early hours of the morning. “

The early morning “is when you’re most at peace, when you hear God better, your mind, your heart is more tranquil, you’re there alone for God. If you are generous with Jesus, he is a thousand times more generous with you,” Fr. Hileman said.

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Deescalation of violence not truth

ogre

Sometimes you run across people (or should I put that a different way?) who you know are just looking for trouble of some kind, robbery, murder, that sort of thing. I can’t even count the times in my life I’ve been in such situations.

Deescalation is key. If I didn’t have some of this talent throughout the decades, I think I would have been long dead a thousand times over. Some of that was the kind of deescalation that we all have built in with healthy fear. And that’s O.K. Then there’s the kind you learn, which includes a number of options brought about by true situational awareness.

Then there is what the deescalation of truth in the search for peace, you know, the old dumb it down methodology of making people so stupid that they just don’t care about standing up for any principle or any person no matter what. Whereas they could stop a rape, a murder, or whatever violence, they just don’t, you know, so as not to offend anyone who thinks violence is great. But that only brings more violence.

And then there is the great non-deescalator we call Jesus, who went out of his way to make people so angry in the space of say 30 seconds that they wanted to kill him. Remember the incident of the man with the withered hand that he called in front of everyone, how Jesus glared hard at them, reprimanded them, making fools of them, then curing the guy? He could have done that elsewhere. He chose to do it there in front of his greatest mortal enemies to teach them a lesson, even if that meant really pissing them off. (Oops, sorry for the language, but it fits what Jesus was doing.)

As the Master, so the disciple. If we piss people off (I won’t apologize…) for the sake of the salvation of souls, that’s not only just O.K., it’s true evangelization. Did Jesus get killed for it? Sure. But maybe some repented when they finally thought about it after all was said and done and rivers of red blood were flowing down from Calvary. Jesus didn’t die for nothing. The death of his loved ones is precious to him. It is the greatest evangelization of all. It’s all about Jesus. He’s the One. The only One. It’s all about Jesus.

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Fearful Roman Curia discerning the way of the Holy Spirit in the Beatitudes

JESUS I AM

You have heard that it was said that those working in whatever capacity in the Holy See (the “Vatican”) are scared. I say that if they are ever afraid, whether priests or bishops or religious, they shouldn’t be. Fear is a sign of the lack of truth, a lack of discernment of the truth, a lack of the Holy Spirit who would instead lead us to the truth. To be established in him who is truth is not to fear. Being one with him who fearlessly says “I AM” cannot at the same time tolerate fear.

“But what should we do? Give us clear direction!”

So, I guess you missed it the first time around. Here it is: “If you love me, keep my commandments.”

“But you don’t get it, Father George, that’s considered Pharisaical, Pelagian, Promethian self-absorbed idol worship.”

“Really? Are you making that application? Even if that were true on whoever’s part, so what? Since when did we lose sight of the Beatitudes? Since when are we to mope about, have nervous sweats, panic attacks and ulcers instead of rejoicing and being glad that great is our reward in the Kingdom of the heavens because we love Jesus and want to share the greatest love of our lives, namely, Jesus? Is not Jesus the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Wonder Counselor, Prince of the Most Profound Peace, who will be the one to come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire, the very fire of God’s love, the fire of the Holy Spirit? Yes, that would be him. He’s the One who said: “I AM.” So what are you afraid of? Amen.

P.S. I mean, really, what are these protestations of fear about? Is this a way of making an excuse? “Oh! I’m so fearful that my fear acted as a coercion forcing me to do something I otherwise would never do! It’s all the fault of fear! I’m soooo afraid.”

To which I say, grow up, love Jesus, and be a good son of his good mom. Also, and I don’t say this lightly, have some respect for your guardian angel who sees God in the face.

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Filed under Amoris laetitia, Canon 915, Confession, Jesus, Marriage, Mercy, Missionaries of Mercy, Pope Francis, Priesthood, Spiritual life

Jesus baptizing with the Holy Spirit?

Holy Spirit Saint Peter Window

John’s Baptism in the river Jordan called to mind the soldiers of Pharaoh getting drowned in the Red Sea as they pursued the Israelites. Those soldiers deserved to be drowned for unjustly enslaving the Israelites in physical labor. When everyone went down to the river Jordan confessing their sins and getting smashed down under the water by John to symbolize the death they deserved for having enslaved each other in sin, this was an occasion to have a humble and contrite heart, and was thus a baptism that was an occasion for the remission of sin. When Jesus was baptized, He wasn’t saying he was a sinner, but that, as the innocent Son of God, he was playing the part of the worst sinner of all, the One who enslaved all people of all time in sin, from Adam until the last man is conceived. He was thus saying to his heavenly Father: “Treat me as being guilty, as being worthy of death.” Right after that baptism, the Holy Spirit descended upon him and our heavenly Father spoke thunderously: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” But straight after that, Jesus said that he longed for the baptism for which he came, that of his own blood, by which he would fulfill what he did in the baptism of John by taking on the guilt of all our sins. By standing in our stead, the innocent for the guilty, he would have the right in his own justice to have mercy on us: “Father forgive them,” he now commanded from the cross. He wants to give us as a gift to our heavenly Father in heaven.

Meanwhile, John says that Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. The fire is the very love of God who God is. The Holy Spirit makes us one with Jesus, who is the Head of the Body of Christ while the Holy Spirit forms us into being the members of the one Body of Christ. As the Holy Spirit introduces us to who we are in Christ Jesus, we see Jesus as the Standard of Truth and Goodness and Kindness and we then see ourselves by way of a comparison we could not previously make that we fall short of that Standard, and we are brought by the Holy Spirit to have a humble and contrite heart before the Divine Son of God, who in all his majesty lays down his life for us, standing in our stead. It is then that we make our way to Confession (as the people were doing at John’s baptism) and we receive sacramental absolution, being reconciled to God and all the other members of the mystical body of Christ simultaneously, getting the grace directly from Jesus, but by the words of the knucklehead priest (like this donkey priest) who, by his ordination, represents all other members of the Body of Christ. We then hear the absolution, which includes something about the Holy Spirit, that he was sent among us for the forgiveness of sin. That is how Jesus baptizes us in the Holy Spirit.

The gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit build on this baptism of the Holy Spirit. Other special gifts are totally secondary to all of this. The main thing is being one with the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, Jesus, King of kings, Lord of lords, Wonder Counselor, Prince of the Most Profound Peace, who will – do not be mistaken – come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire, the very fire of God’s love, the fire of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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Being civilized: Can’t I just, like, you know what I’m sayin’, like, be a priest?

place setting etiquette

A priest in a far away place, a friend, thinks that any priest is terribly odd and ill-equipped for dealing with the real world if he does not always and at every time have a dinner table in a dining room dedicated to the purpose set for, say, ten guests, and in the exquisite fashion pictured above (and more so). He’s actually an excellent priest, very dedicated to everything priestly. And yet, I feel utterly foreign to all this non-barbaricness. Mind you, my mom could dress up a table for Thanksgiving much better than this and I was enthralled as a four year old little boy, feeling very special indeed to be sitting at such a table. The kids sat with the important grown-ups for Thanksgiving. But having this all the time puts me off. I feel foreign to it. It’s almost insulting. I’ve always thought that manners that were all too proper were self-serving and meant to kick others in the face. That’s not always the case, of course, just how I feel (’cause feelings are important!).

In the South American country of Colombia there is an “American Restaurant” which only serves chicken, which is served without utensils. You have to eat with your hands, because, you know, Americans are barbaric and it’s ever so exciting to go slumming every so often; it’s what cultured people do, but, you know, not really. The Colombian cultured elite could never ever eat with their hands, and so, instead of utensils, plastic food prep gloves with which to eat are supplied to the customers. I kid you not. If I ever ate there, I wouldn’t use the gloves. I just couldn’t, being, you know, a North American. My Colombian priest friends joked about going there. Ha ha ha. Even they thought that this was too much in the way of manners.

When I was teaching up in the Pontifical Seminary in Columbus, Ohio, an etiquette course was required of the seminarians. Ugghh. But, I must say, the seminarian who introduced that is now an excellent priest, very dedicated to everything priestly. I rather appreciate the manners, however, of another seminarian who was the cause of all this etiquette, for he would, say – elbows on the table – twirl a whole pork chop on the end of his fork, chomping on it occasionally as he twirled it about. I mentioned this to an old priest in Maggie Valley last night, and he said that he had the same etiquette course when he was in the seminary in the earlier part of the 1900s (he’s really old), and he liked it a lot. That he was a military chaplain his whole life didn’t take that away. I’m amazed. I must be missing something somewhere.

A South American Cardinal friend back in the day took me under his wing, with me being pitiable and uncultured. He would bring me to museums all over the Italian peninsula in an attempt to make me a man of culture. Ha ha ha. He was no match for this North-woods and now back ridge mountain boy. He was a Scripture Scholar there in Buenos Aires and environs, edging ever so slightly in the direction of marxism, surely having a certain Jorge Bergoglio as a protégé. The whole culture thing didn’t work on me at all. It’s not easy to have manners when one speaks of, say, El Che (as we did, a lot, as he knew him really well). At any rate, this Cardinal was very appreciative of – of all things – proper table manners. I think I’m just a failure with all this, never knowing which fork or spoon or knife to use when, or which glass to pour water into.

Note well that, as with martial arts and guns, you can actually never be “the best,” which is a danger. For instance, I can easily put everyone to shame with their pride in etiquette and culture by recalling being invited to a dinner at “The Bishop’s House” in Lourdes. Besides the table setting pictured above, there was a little rack next to the plates to be used to cantilever a knife after it was used, as it is never placed on a plate (which would indicate that one was done eating). At this point I start to think of the police rolling into the little town of Lourdes when the Pilgrimage of the Gypsies would take over the Sanctuaries, the fights they would get into, blood and broken bones… I would think of anything but etiquette and manners and being civilized, thinking that such things are themselves a bit surreal and odd and meant to amaze. It bores me.

Trying a different tack to get me civilized, one of our parishioners just the other day, noting Laudie-dog at the rectory, bought a pooper-scooper so that I might become a civilized dog-poop-slave. I resisted, of course, but there comes a time in life when resistance is futile. I caved. And I notice that this is happening with many aspects of my life. Am I heading in the direction of etiquette and manners and being civilized? Perhaps I am just learning not to be the odd man out so as to become all things to all men, as long as faith and morals are not jeopardized. And that’s perhaps not a bad thing, all things being equal. It’s a slow process, so I beg the indulgence of others. I hope it is not a step in the direction of political correctness.

I hope I would still do the priest thing of being a man who, by the grace of God, at least tries to be a man for all seasons, preaching the truth in charity with no respect for persons, that is, with respect for all persons, whatever office they hold, offering them what is the best of our faith and sharing the greatest love of my life, the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, regardless of the consequences.

There is, however, one aspect of this barbaric child that I’m guessing that, with the grace of God, will not ever be ripped out of me, a certain cleverness that some might see as being bad and evil and be perceived as having too close an affinity to Bre’r Rabbit, who was born and bred in a briar patch, which was scorned by others but loved by himself:

Ah yes. Such a trickster. That clip was sent in by a very classy lady, who has the blessing of having all the best of etiquette and manners in the very best of ways, that is, with real class that hesitates not one second to be concerned with the likes of me, who am rather on the darkest peripheries of whatever is defined as culture.

One may indeed take such a scene to make an analogy with the irony which must be lived as a priest, the irony which explodes any pretense of out-of-place self-referentiality, the irony by which one will always be marginalized by others as being the odd man out, you know, as a way to be kept safe, away from having to bother with the irony he presents to all and sundry, both rank and file. We priests must have a sense of this irony, of Him who is Irony Incarnate, made to be sin for us, truly the odd Man out. I haven’t cited this for a while, so now’s the time:

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

Even Jesus was made to be sin, right? ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἁμαρτίαν ἐποίησεν (2 Cor 5:21).

Irony is what priests are supposed to do. It’s what Jesus did. It’s the charitable thing to do. Something about justice and mercy being one in God.

Now, what was that about holding one’s pinky out when sipping a cup of tea at 4:00 PM? Perhaps the 3:00 PM experience is more important…

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Donkeys that don’t float downstream. Blast from the past: Fish that swim.

donkey floating

This floating donkey, seemingly with no hooves whatsoever, was seen in the pasture next to The Barn in Hanceville, Alabama. He’s not floating downstream, as it were, but purposely lets himself be drawn to the donkey whisperer (that would be me). A distantly analogous post on another long locked down blog comes to mind. Don’t be afraid. ///

fish dead floating downstream

Floating downstream isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. You end up in sedentary pools on the sides of the stream, clogged with other fish as effectively dead as yourself.

Mind you, it’s not that masses of people float downstream because there are no benefits. Political correctness brings it’s own perks. First off, don’t think that one doesn’t get used to floating downstream, or even to getting caught stuck in fetid eddies with fellow fish. For selfish motives, such as job advancement and popularity, the feeling of power one has with being “successful”, a “consensus builder”, one can get used to anything, and then, in fact, fool oneself into thinking that one is actually enjoying oneself. The power of it all!

I mean, just think, one only has to look at the few dead fish within one’s self-imposed, extremely limited horizon, those who are with you, floating, unmoving, pretending not to be the floatsum these have made of themselves, insisting that, if anything, in a victim mentality, they are simply jetsam, getting along like everyone else, cleverly doing what one has to do to get along as a victim in this fallen society of ours, pretending all the while not to be depressed and falling into despair, because, in all actuality, one might no longer be reclaimable again by way of confession, by way of bearing the fruits of repentance, but lost forever as derelict, beyond the mercy of God and God-inspired compassion of real men (all of which is never the case as long as we have breath: Dum spiro spero!).

I mean, just think, it’s not so bad, after a while, even if it’s a good while. Not only can we can get used to anything, we can even start to rejoice in the good points of one’s fellow rotting fish:

  • Their scales glint in the sun, a rainbow of colors. Such distraction!
  • Their stench is actually kind of sweet, complacency of lifestyle!
  • The antics of the little parasites crawling in and around them are fascinating to watch, a great passtime. I want some too!
  • There’s no stress, no change, no challenge to grow. I’ve arrived!

And besides, “Everyone floats downstream!” — which is the useless defense before the judgment of God concerning whether we go to heaven or hell, a defense made by someone who is falling into despair and calling out for help.

bear salmon

Swimming upstream is altogether different. One is swimming, sleek and agile, exercised, full of energy, in the middle of the stream, in clear, sky blue, sparkling waters. With deft, lightning movements, one navigates not just around the few dead fish one had been with, but around countless others, always more. Not a pretty sight, but one is instead enjoying enthusiastic freedom, darting in and out, here, then there, always in the clear waters of God’s grace, always in humble thanksgiving. In exhilaration, one leaps out of the water and into the sunshine, high into the air, taking in the view: Wow! Look at those mountains! How tall the trees are! Yikes! A Kodiak Bear! A monster! A demon! An agent of Satan! The bear, of course, eats whatever fish forget humble thanksgiving and trust in their own talents, conglatulating themselves for being good, putting others down as worthless, and so rejecting their own redemption by the Son of Man, the Son of God.

There are even more benefits, mind you, to swimming upstream with humble thanksgiving for God’s grace, not only avoiding the bears and avoiding dead fish (though giving them good example and wishing that they turn around), but also — and this is not selfish — but also rejoicing in the height and depth and breadth, the entire expanse of God’s intimate, joyful love for us. We come to know Him as THE FISH, in Greek, Ichtus, ιχθυς, the letters of which stand for Jesus Christ God’s Son Savior, with the last word being a translation of the first word.

fish ichtus jesus christ gods son savior

Traced out in the forest next to the hermitage. As mentioned in another post, a Baptist who grew up not far from the hermitage and is now Catholic did the same next to the hermitage the other day. He’s wanting to be a seminarian for the Diocese of Charlotte. Outreach to the local Baptists back in the days of the hermitage is bearing fruit. Thank you, Jesus.

In early centuries under Roman persecution of Catholics, the faithful would get to know each other safely by way of code… by way of tracing out a fish on the ground with a stick, ever so casually, and if the other did the same, ever so casually, one would know that one was safely in the company of a fellow Catholic.

Jesus, like Jonas, was in the belly of the whale, the earth, for three days and three nights, but then was spit out, that is resurrected from the dead. He suffered like a dead fish, but death had no grip on Him. Jesus is just that good, just that kind, to us, who have all been dead fish, floating downstream, but whom He has saved, to have us swim upstream, with Him, with agility of soul, rejoicing.

So, what does all that have to do with the seemingly floating donkey at the top of this post, the one willingly drawn to yours truly, the donkey whisperer? Well, it’s like this: Jesus is the soul whisperer, with His quiet voice, speaking into our souls, drawing us to Himself like a Star Trek tractor beam. That’s a matter of salvation and love, not at all of political correctness. We show all of our rottingness to Jesus in Confession, and then He makes all things new. And I’m very happy about that. Very happy indeed.

Also, just to say, and it always happens this way, and I already knew it would be the same this time as well… I knew that being in heaven on earth down in Hanceville at The Barn would be a God given respite, however short, for the times to come in the immediate foreseeable future. I knew I would be extremely busy, literally run off my feet, not getting back home most nights until the wee hours of the morning and having to get up hours before sunrise to start on the run again. I love begin available for my ailing parishioners. I admit I have not been all too available to write some comments about two books I’m supposed to read at the request of some, but I’m getting to that soon!

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The return of this Jackass for the Hour

crucifix

This “Donkey”[!] is found crucified above the tabernacle (see: “Brother Ass” in “The Barn” Mon-Wed) of the absolutely gorgeous Turris Davidica chapel found inside “The Barn” where yours truly went for a day of recollection with “The Very”, the Vicar Forane of the Smokey Mountain Vicariate of the Diocese of Charlotte. Note the cross inside each of the golden stars of David.

There are, perhaps, nearly 100% of readers who will think that it is rude to refer to anyone as a donkey, and should this appellative be used for the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception that this would certainly be counted as blasphemy. But this is a badge of honor for Jesus, for He did that which is much more “blasphemous” for us, becoming “sin” for us, as Saint Paul says. Jesus was a Jew, and the Jews were always referred to by this symbol of humble hard work by the surrounding nations. Don’t forget that donkeys can sing and are intelligent, only doing what they understand (really smart, that), not at all stubborn like mules. Also recall that donkeys are everywhere with the Holy Family. Here are some pics from the massive bronze doors of the larger chapel (some hundreds of yards from “The Barn”):

donkey 4

donkey 2

Of course, a donkey also brought our Lord into the city of Jerusalem for His crucifixion…

Thanks to all those who said a prayer for yours truly these past few days. The day of recollection went very well. Priests can stay at “The Barn” for free. Only priests can stay at “The Barn.” Many priests from the Diocese of Charlotte take refuge in “The Barn” on a regular basis. It’s equidistant for me to Charlotte one way and “The Barn” the other way. Another priest, from Saint Anne’s, is there today for the feast of the translation of the relics of Saint Clare. O.K. Those are enough hints. Do you know where this is?

Anyway, the “return” mentioned in the title of this post doesn’t refer to me being back in the parish so much as an advance in the Chestertonian sense of the return of the fallen creature back to its Creator by way of the redemption. I mentioned to one of the wonderfully Catholic priests to be found in the environs of “The Barn” about Jackass for the Hour, saying that everything has changed so very much in the last few years that I doubt if I could even revise such an ecclesiastical thriller novel that goes to the black heart of and offers solutions for the Rebellion so ubiquitously and wrongly called the Reformation, and that the Scriptural commentary on the “Dog-Woman” that I wrote would hardly be able to be received by anyone anymore. I was, of course, gently but firmly reprimanded, being told not to be despondent. Donkeys are quite miserable if they are despondent, and that just won’t do at all. So, joy with the singing of a donkey, a braying which is also praying, on the march, as donkeys do.

And if there are still readers who don’t like it when priests are called guard-donkeys:

DONKEY FOX

And if there are still those who think that it is inappropriate for priests or anyone for that matter to be called any kind of donkey at all, I simply cite Saint Augustine in response:

“Asinus es sed Christum portas” (You are a jackass, but you carry Christ).

And if there are still those who hesitate, I offer this Orthodox kind-of-an-icon (slightly damaged through the years with window-sealer… sorry!) for their contemplation. Remember, that we carry Christ within us. We also carry each other. We belong to the Body of Christ, with Christ as the Head and we as the members, with His Most Sacred Heart inflaming ours with the fiery ardent love of the Holy Spirit to the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Saint Augustine donkey icon

And if there are still those who hesitate about the appropriateness of all this hopefully childlike joy and not childish idiocy, please feel free to call me the donkey-priest. I will simply laugh with appreciative enthusiasm. I still think I have too much fun.

Oh, and did I mention that Saint Francis called himself Brother Ass?

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (my mistaken identity crisis edition)

flores trumpet 1

The above trumpetyesque flowers are not the trumpet vine flowers below:

flores trumpet 2There was recently a comment on a blog I do not own which identified Father Gordon J MacRae and yours truly, Father George David Byers, as being one and the same person, I suppose because our names both begin with “Father G.” My first thought is, poor Father Gordon! I mean, that’s a compliment for me but should he have to wear that part about being me? That’s just not right. People have also done this for years with Father Z and myself, even though “Z” and “G” appear in different places in any alphabet. As it is, I’ve never personally met either Father G (you know, the other one) or Father Z, though we have lots of contact with each other.

I stand in solidarity with and have defended (ad nauseam for some) both Fathers Z and G (you know, the other one), not that Father Z nor Father G (you know, the other one) need any defense whatsoever, especially from the likes of this North-woods and now back-ridge mountain boy some call Father G (you know, yours truly). Anyway, this is a problem should yet another Father G (my spiritual director, Father George) make his way to the parish on Highway 64, which is named after yet another Father G altogether (ol’ retired Father George). What to do? Hey! I know! Just call me Pope George, but, oh, wait, that’s taken already: Pope Jorge (George) Bergoglio of Saint Francis fame. Sigh. I have no identity of my own whatsoever. I’m just another Father G lost in a sea of those called Father G.

Or maybe I could just give up finding my identity through the unfixable confusion of others and discover that I find my identity in Jesus Christ, Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, who willingly stood in my place taking on my identity as the worst sinner ever, knowing that I’ve tortured Him to death on the cross with my sin, and He then having the right in His own justice to command His/Our Heavenly Father: “Father, forgive them!” I’m happy that in Italian, Jesus is just another Father G = Gesù = Jesus. ;-)

And should I really need to carry this on to the extreme, the name of our Heavenly Father is also Father G, that is Father George: ὁ πατήρ μου ὁ γεωργός ἐστιν (John 15:1) — “My Father is George,” that is, the Farmer, the Tiller of the Ground, you know, the Adam of the Adamah. ;-)

I think I just have too much fun. Probably because the Immaculate Conception, standing under the cross, has a big enough heart to take in all those called Father G, and I’m very, very happy about that, and that’s where I find my identity, one loved by Jesus and His good mom even while I’m yet a sinner. I could dance I’m so happy. And I won’t be shamed into stopping dancing by those of sour face fame:

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Flores for… JESUS! “I love you to[o]!” Out of the mouths of babes…

flores - babes

A good bit after the homily, a little girl sent this up to the front of the church with the message that this was from her little sister, leaving me thinking just how tiny her little sister must be if she herself was so little and tiny herself. Just to be clear, the “I love you to[o]” message is not for me, but for Jesus.

You have to know that for twenty some years I’ve concluded pretty much every single homily with a reference to Jesus. I go in cycles that last for years. When I was in Rome and offering Mass at I think six different houses of the Missionaries of Charity, I was at the time concluding every homily with: “…because Jesus is so very good and so very kind,” so much so that the Superior nicknamed me “Father Goodness and Kindness,” even forgetting my name in favor of the nickname.

But right now, and for some years, I’ve been concluding my homilies with: “…because Jesus loves us so very much,” to the point where some in the pews will help me conclude. When they hear “Jesus loves us,” they continue with me: “…so very much.”

Of all the things I might say in a homily, I am so very happy that this is the one thing that gets through my clumsy delivery. The drawing above was this tiny little girl’s response to Jesus: “I love you to[o]!” Plenty of hearts and flowers and smiles for Jesus. And I’m just very happy with that altogether.

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Extra ecclesiam nulla salus / There is no salvation besides the Church!

john paul ii be not afraid

On the Feast of the Transfiguration, 6 August 2000, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith promulgated with the ratification of Saint Pope John Paul II the Declaration Dominus Iesus, on the unicity and salvific universality of Jesus Christ and the Church. The raging debate has always been about the understanding of the word “extra”.

  • Does “extra” mean merely what most all would grant, that, outside of Christ in His Church, there is no other Savior, such as some martian in a space ship?
  • Does “extra” refer, for instance, to a legal application of positive divine law regarding baptism, indeed, even baptism done within the Catholic Church, so that no other Christians could ever be found in heaven no matter what?

Dominus Iesus is an important doctrinal document meant to be a teaching document settling controversies. It is brief, to the point. Most extraordinary. Well worth the read. There is a paragraph at the end which is interesting:

In treating the question of the true religion, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council taught: “We believe that this one true religion continues to exist in the Catholic and Apostolic Church, to which the Lord Jesus entrusted the task of spreading it among all people. Thus, he said to the Apostles: ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you’ (Mt 28: 19-20). Especially in those things that concern God and his Church, all persons are required to seek the truth, and when they come to know it, to embrace it and hold fast to it”

Obviously there are more refined questions about the phrase “continues to exist” blah blah blah. But I’ll tell you this, if one accepts what is written in that document, there is no way that one could say that Islam has anything whatsoever to do with any kind of religion, even while the revelation which both Jews and Catholics have received is precisely the same in all ages (Aquinas, Siri et al.).

And let’s get this right: religion is part of the virtue of justice, so that one is to render to God that which is His due, which is proper worship, which can only be done through, with and in Jesus, to the greater glory and honor of God in the unity of the Most Holy Spirit. And remember, Christ Jesus, the Son of the Immaculate Conception, will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Amen.

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Dear Pope Francis: Be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect, or nothing, because, really, it’s God or nothing

wp-1455076244099.jpg

This picture was taken while in procession with all the other Missionaries of Mercy about to go through the Holy Door of the Year of Mercy, accompanying the relics of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina and Saint Leopold Mandić. Hey, maybe I could be burned at the stake tied with chains to this obelisk.

Pope Francis, we see in your homily of June 9 2016 (which I reprint below in English and Italian for the convenience of readers), that you call a lot of Catholics non-Catholics and heretics, perhaps even Cardinal Sarah (though you didn’t actually name him). John-Henry at Lifesite has a great article, as does NewCatholic over at Rorate.

Am I, your Missionary of Mercy, also a declared heretic?  Am I also not Catholic? Do I therefore lack faculties for the Sacrament of Mercy?

Here’s the deal, my little negotiation with you: To be called a heretic and a non-Catholic even by you is laughable to me, for, you see, I’ve already beat you to the accusations. I’ve been saying about myself for as long as I can remember that I’ve crucified the Son of the Living God with my sin. I am the most damned of all. So, what you say about my being a heretic and non-Catholic means nothing to me. I believe that I have no strength at all to follow any moral law, any commandment. None of it is possible for me. It is impossible for this man. I am nothing. But I’ll tell you this, for me, Christ Jesus is everything, He is my strength who provides me with His love and goodness and kindness and fortitude and enthusiasm and joy, making following the commandments, however much they are impossible for me, not only possible, but that which I do because of the fiery love of the Holy Spirit, the very love that is the greatest love of my life that I want to share with others.Without Jesus’ love and joy, I would at most say, “I will do this but the rest is impossible for me.” And you would be content with that. Shame on you! For with Jesus’ love and joy, I say, “I will do it all, for I do not do it on my own, as I am dead to myself, but I do this by Jesus’ love and joy!” I would never tell others that they are good enough in their efforts with their own strength which they don’t have anyway, leaving them on their own far from Jesus, Mary’s Son. No! I introduce them to Him, to His love and joy, to His wounds, His torture, His death, so very much did He love us. And they thank me for it. And if that makes me the most damned of all heretics and non-Catholics in your view, then, well, I am really sorry for that, but, so be it. As I’ve said so many times with intended irony, Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders. Gott helfe mir.  Condemn me if you have to. I will be happy to suffer for Jesus. That is my little negotiation with you. Deal?

Please, let me add that I love you to pieces Pope Francis. Please, rejoice with me. Again I will say, rejoice!

Below is Pope Francis’ homily in the “Vatican Radio English translation” (which I did not read) and what was provided of the original Italian (which I did read):

Continue reading

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

transfiguration

“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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Hearing confessions… Jesus, Mercy!

confessional art

This is the artwork can see in the confessional when I am the one hearing the confessions. Sorry about the aspect ratio, but this was a quickie shot between confessions.

  • I am happy to see Mary. She has interceded for the sorry lot that we are. She knows our need. I ask her to send penitents into the box. We are frequently late for Mass. I don’t think anyone minds at all.
  • I am happy to be reminded by the crucifix what is going on with the absolution, “Father, forgive them!”
  • I am happy, I must say, to keep my eyes peeled on Jesus the entire time, no matter what. Whoever it is that is confessing their sins with repentance, contrition and purpose of amendment doesn’t matter: it is Jesus who has already taken those sins on Himself and who has already accomplished the penance of our redemption.

In this particular painting it seems that Jesus is beckoning the priest hearing confessions to take His heart. And I’m going, like, um, Jesus… what? You want me to forgive penitents with your heart? That, of course, is absolutely the case. But there is more. And my hard heart is shattered to pieces, making room for His. You want me to forgive you with your heart? He who is sinless confesses our sins as if He committed them Himself. That’s what He’s doing at His circumcision. That’s what He’s doing at His Baptism. That’s what He’s doing on the Cross. What’s a confessor to do? Absolve the penitent with Jesus’ grace, knowing that, effectively, this is Jesus kneeling on the other side of the screen. I am thrown into humble reverence before Him. He loves us so very much. Just some thoughts I had while being unable not to keep my eyes peeled on Him, who is coming judge the living and the dead and world by fire, that fiery heart of His. Amen.

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A-Waltzing Matilda: A Saving Analogy

waltzing matilda

  • swagman = hobo walking the Australian outback, the bush, with his “swag”
  • swag = blanket containing one’s belongings carried over a shoulder with a piece of twine
  • Matilda = nickname for the swag (Aussies have feminine names for everything)
  • going a-waltzing Matilda = doing the hobo, gyrovague, thing
  • billabong = deep pool of water
  • billy = bucket for boiling tea
  • jumbuck  = sheep
  • tucker = food
  • squatter = land “owner”

Here’s the absolute best version ever, ever, ever produced. Worth the listen…

These are the lyrics written in 1903 by Marie Cowan to advertise Billy Tea:

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong
Under the shade of a coolibah tree,
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled:
“Who’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me?”

  • Chorus: Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda
    You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me
    And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled:
    “You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me.”

Down came a jumbuck to drink at that billabong.
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee.
And he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tucker bag:
“You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me.” (Chorus)

Up rode the squatter, mounted on his thoroughbred.
Down came the troopers, one, two, and three.
“Whose is that jumbuck you’ve got in your tucker bag?
You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me.” (Chorus)

Up jumped the swagman and sprang into the billabong.
“You’ll never take me alive!” said he
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong:
“Who’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me?” (Chorus)

BACKGROUND: There was a union uprising leading to violence involving sheep and the death of one of the ring leaders, who, though he escaped, was about to be apprehended when instead he committed suicide rather than be taken alive. This is all terribly sad. And yet this is almost a kind of national anthem of Australia, I think because of the progression of the meaning of being taken up into the Matilda, the swag. So:

  • The swagman takes the sheep to go a-waltzing Matilda
  • The police are about to take the swagman a-waltzing Matilda with them
  • The swagman instead goes to his death, saying that inevitably the police are going to follow, so that he, the swagman, is taking them a-waltzing Matilda sooner or later with himself, right into death

The theme gains epic proportions very quickly, leaving one before the great questions of life and death and who’s really who before these great realities. The ferocity of an independent spirit – even unto death – betrays the horrific brutality of life in a penal colony only one generation distant from the closure of the last encampment when the lyrics were written at the end of the nineteenth century. Life as a sheep worker was hardly better than the labor camps. Lots of cynicism. Lots of bitterness. So, this is a statement that there must be something better to human life on earth, a freedom that no one can take away. Too sad that this glorifies the cheap way out. I suppose I might get beat up for that by my Australian friends, but I remind them that I was a pastor for years in the heart of NSW sheep country…

byers dance paul vi audience hallA SAVING ANALOGY: Let’s say that the swagman is us, the tree is the cross, the billy is the cup we are to drink, the sheep is Jesus, the squatter is Satan, the police are men who follow Satan. So, we wander about in this exile away from heaven and encounter Jesus who is about to taste death. We take Him up in the Blessed Sacrament, but we are pursued by Satan and his minions. Instead of caving into the world and denying Jesus, we follow Him who was about to taste death, and now die with Him. Death before sin! We die to ourselves to live for Jesus, who, rising from the dead, will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire, not as any ghost, but as Geist, the Most Holy Spirit.

“This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement” (1 John 5:6-8).

Amen. So: Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda…
Please, come 
a-waltzing Matilda with me!

Yes! Please, do! Dying to ourselves so as to live for Jesus! This is the ultimate freedom: friendship with Jesus.

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (Druids for Jesus edition)

collegeville abbey church madonnaThis is Mary, Throne of Wisdom (late eleven hundreds, Burgundy, France), as seen in Collegeville, Minnesota’s Saint John’s Abbey Church side chapel (epistle side if you can say such a thing in such a church). You can see this type of statue scattered throughout this part of Europe, always the same, more or less, with Jesus holding an orb, though here He is holding the Scriptures.

As a kid, I would go and kneel before this statue (I had three different addresses as a kid). At the time there was a kind of kneeler / altar rail type arrangement, which I didn’t like, because I wanted to be closer. I vaguely recall bringing a flower in and putting at her feet, crawling over the rail to do so.

You’ll notice the eyes of both Jesus and Mary are open. Keep that in mind while we take a tour of Chartres, going down into the crypt:

If one continues, and passes the well, they will come upon something that the very first Christians are said to have witnessed when they came to Chartres. They found there a statue of a woman seated upon a throne with a child on her knee, a statue that had been venerated by the Druids. It appears that they were aware of Isaiah’s prophesy that a virgin would conceive and bear a son. The statue was described by a 17th century thus:

“The Virgin sits on a chair, her Son sits on her knees and He gives the sign of blessing with His right hand. In His left hand He holds an orb. He is bare-headed and His hair is quite short. He wears a close-fitting robe girdled with a belt. His face, hands and feet are bare and they are of a shining grey-ebony color.

The Virgin is dressed in an antique mantle in the shape of a chasuble. Her face is oval, of perfect construction, and of the same shining black color. Her crown is very plain, only the top being decorated with flowers and small leaves. Her chair is one foot wide with four parts hallowed out at the back and carved. The statue is twenty-nine inches tall.”

It is interesting to note that the eyes of the Divine Child were open, while the Madonna’s eyes were closed. According to Cecil Headlam, the Druids “intended by this device to signify that faith was still in darkness, and that she whom they worshiped [venerated?] was not yet born. But the eyes of the Child, whom she in the fullness of time should supernaturally conceive and bear, were open; for He was without beginning and without end, the Spectator of all time and all existence.”

Very cool, that. So, a flower perhaps like the one I gave to Mary in the days of yore. This is from outside the rectory, along the driveway. It looks like some sort of self-lit creature on the ocean floor. I admit to tweaking the contrast and brightness:

flores rectory-

 

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The monster’s got me by the ankles and is smashing me to the ground

dilbert

I am exhausted. Today, so far, I’ve had 113 email conversations, however many comments, texts, and hours[!] of phone conversations, most of those about canon law, ecclesiology, moral theology, church politics, with a number of priests, canon lawyers, theologians. I am deeply sorrowful at the state of the Church. Deeply. I don’t know how to express that. I agonize. I don’t think it’s negativity. I love the Church. I love those in the Church, even the baddies just like me, and by that I mean those who go on ad hominem attacks, just like me, except I’m worse. I know how bad that is for me. The last thing I want is to see that attitude in them.

ogreI feel like I’m being lifted up upside down by some ogre who’s got me by the ankles, and who has commenced whipping me about in the air and then smashing me down to the ground, only to do it continuously, and somehow I remain conscious through it all. I feel sick. Nauseous. It’s like traumatic stress. The monster is, of course, myself. I’m very bad and very evil with a very black and terribly cynical heart. If I wanted to rant, just laying it all out, proving my cynicism to myself (because cynicism is all about self), I think I would actually frighten the most intense of cynics right into silence, much like when the murder rate in Manhattan went down to zero for quite a while after September 11, 2001. The run of the mill murderers were unfathomably out-murdered, and they were stunned into pacifism. Jesus had to reach really very far into hell to find me, which makes me all the more grateful to Him. And that all means that I hold all those lesser cynics to be much better off than I ever was. You have no idea.

If that seems like unstoppable pride, let me tell you ever so humbly about someone who was more cynical than even I could ever be. A layman, he had the CDF wrapped around his little finger, deposing and setting up bishops at will, forcing documents and policies right and left. The CDF, his pet project, hated him, but Ratzinger did what he said and, I would hazard, respected him and even liked him for the clarity and devotion he had. I’ve never known anyone more intelligent, which includes the greatest Thomists in the world today. He knew how to get things done for the good of the Church. I often helped him. I’ve now and again done a bit of his kind of work myself, asked to do so many times by the Curia, off the record, but whatever gets the job done, right? Sometimes cynics are simply realists said to be cynics by those fearful of reality. And that was him, a saint, really, cynical of the diabolical, but not of Jesus. We both knew, however, that if he reversed that, even for a moment, he could do great damage to the Church. He stayed with Jesus, even though he saw all the diabolical there can be among some members of the Church.

As for myself, if I lost all sanctifying grace, I could rant about pretty much everything, including “and” and “the” and even the nice stuff. I would not only highlight that which boasts of ambiguity, but I would also draw conclusions from that which would make anyone curl up in a ball and die of despair. I excel at that kind of thing, I dare say more than anyone. No comparison. And this has ripened over the last number of years. I know the hell of it; I know of a certainty that that’s who I am if I am without grace. One actual believer in the Roman Curia once said that he feared that my analyses could  [… I had better stop!…] At any rate, I’m sure that I would pervert any time being greater than space dynamic into a Marxist dialectic with all such things. I’m truly bad and evil. But I know it. So I look to Jesus, who creates both time and space. He’s all that’s left for me. He is the Church with His Mystical Body. He’s the One.

And then the monster disappears. Just like that. If I pride myself to think that I’m really good at being evil, my pride is then shattered into humility by Him who was more cynical of evil than I could ever begin to be cynical of that which is good. Jesus bears the wounds of all of hell broken out on His risen body. He smashes all cynicism into that which is laughable. Jesus has conquered. He’s the greatest love of my life and I want everyone to know about Him.

We must keep unity in the Church. No schism! Let’s discuss the ideas, yes. But let’s all of us stick to that. But if anyone wants to be ad hominem with me, say that I’m not a real priest, whatever, go ahead. I take back being offended by any of that. I deserve everything I get. I’ll just beat you to the punch: I’ve absolutely crucified the Son of the Living God with my sins and without Jesus I would absolutely go to hell like the child of hell that I am if I am without grace.

P.S. The undercurrent of this post is terrible pride. I hope you can pick that up. I am the worst of the worst. Somehow that’s pride, right? But Jesus is good and kind. :-)

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Filed under Amoris laetitia, Holy See, Jesus, Mercy, Missionaries of Mercy, Pope Francis, Synod on the Family, Year of Mercy

Flores for the Immaculate Conception (In case you didn’t notice Him edition)

prince of peace jesus mary

As seen in Prince of Peace Catholic Church, Robbinsville, NC

I’ve been remiss in giving flowers to the Immaculate Conception. The picture above is no exception with its lack of flowers, though I don’t know if those plants ever flower. Its no excuse, but I’ve been in rather deep thought, shall we say, this past week.

I love this statue of Jesus and Mary up in our church in Graham county. It’s a bit, well, not quite sarcastic, but almost, I mean, with real expectant joy, in hopes that we will take up her invitation to get to know her Son. The expression on Mary’s face says it all as she boldly holds the infant Jesus kind of, well, you know, in our faces.

The Word of God holding the words of God. I love that. He’s the One. He’s the only One. Sometimes, in all our verbiage, we forget that. We are so clever, we think. But it’s not about our “language event.” It’s about the Word of God’s words of God. It’s a family thing.

In every age, without exception, Jesus and His Words convert those with the hardest of hearts, despite the ever present presence of the Pharisees who use the law merely to stomp on others and the ever present presence of the Promethian neo-Pelagian cynics who offer salvation through casuistry.

And Jesus doesn’t accomplish this by being in the middle between the two extremes as if that broken gyroscope of two extremes wildly smashing family life in every direction was something Jesus had to run after, desperately trying to stay in the middle of two poles that only play off each other and are the same. No. Jesus is who He is. He is the eternal Word of Truth, He is Charity. And we would despise Him because He is not like us in all things including the congratulating of our own sin. And then He reigns supreme on the Cross, standing in our stead, taking our place before our Heavenly Father, having the right in His own justice to have mercy on us.

Crux stat dum volitur orbis. The Cross stands immovable while the world spins in its own self-consuming vortex. The Cross shines in the darkness, having us bend the knee before the Son of God in His love for us, tortured to death on the Cross, casting us to our knees, all of us, in heavens, on the earth, and under the earth. Jesus is the One, the Word of the Father. He does have the power to save us and bring us to Himself, right across Calvary with all hell broken out. We look to Him. Not at the hell. We look to HIM.

And, yes, there is a tag on this post reading “Vocations.” Now is the time. Now is the day of salvation. When all is impossible, that’s the time to man up and be transformed into the priesthood of the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Son of the Immaculate Conception, the Priest of priests, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace, the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception. I will write about all this.

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Filed under Flores, Jesus, Mercy, Vocations