Tag Archives: Jesus

Shadow-dog: “Here’s looking at you”

img_20171226_133649723_burst012~2744100892..jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

jesus baptism detail

1 Comment

Filed under Dogs, Jesus, Spiritual life

King of the Mountain: Dogs & Jesus

img_20171222_1528411565571420.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

6 Comments

Filed under Dogs, Father Byers Autobiography, Jesus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 Comments

Filed under Father Byers Autobiography, Missionaries of Mercy, Priesthood, Vocations

Homily 2017 09 29 – Archangels!

You’ll have to excuse me. I didn’t actually talk to much about the angels or archangels today, but rather followed the Gospel, which is always a good idea. I talk about figs, of all things. But you’ll be surprised that this is the key to being open to work of the holy angels in our lives. This is the key to understanding the exclamation of Nathaniel about Jesus and the exclamation of Jesus about Nathaniel. Humility brings us purity of heart and agility of soul. Both are necessary when dealing with the holy angels.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Angels, HOMILIES, Spiritual life

Homily 2017 09 28 Identity Politics!

“Who are you anyway?” — Hahaha! Excuse the bad language of this video, which has nothing to do with the Gospel or sermon except by way of the most remote and ridiculous analogy, and it’s just that I’ve constantly heard this question proffered to me from about every government / military / intelligence services / Law Enforcement entity anywhere, and so it makes me belly laugh, although, again, the analogy is almost inverse as I’m about as inept at anything and everything as anyone can be:

The rough language is appropriate however because this is surely the spirit with which Herod asked this question about Jesus.

SORRY! The audio level on the homily is pretty low, so you’ll have to turn up your speakers to max. I forgot the recorder, so recorded on the phone, uploaded that to Google Drive, downloaded it to my computer, put in in “Audacity” audio program to dumb down to a lower grade MP3, uploaded it to WordPress and finally in this post. That’ll teach me not to forget the recorder.

What’s a good podcast audio program to use?

1 Comment

Filed under HOMILIES, Jesus, Politics

Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Ziggurat Donkey Pope Bridge edition)

flores one lane bridge

This flowery bridge picture was taken the other day out near the hermitage where I often go on my day off for a bit of quiet time (after all, it’s a hermitage) and not so quiet time (Seals and FBI qualification courses for fun).

We hear quite a bit about bridge building, consensus building, not being divisory, and that the Roman Pontiff is, by name, a bridge-builder (pontiff…). The SECOND bridge we read about in the Scriptures is a ziggurat, a kind of ladder for the angels, for the gods of Mesopotamia, Jacob’s ladder (from his famous dream). There are exemplars throughout Mesopotamia, including through rarely, those of the circular type:

ziggurat 3

There are remains in Babylon and Basra, for instance:

ziggurat 1

At the top, the god might pitch his tent among us, as it were. It was around such structures that the people had to gather yearly to hear the Enuma Elish read from beginning to end, which is no small feat when you’re reading from cuneiform tablets, when you are reciting the most nuanced presentation of philosophical and theological and anthropological and metaphysical theories of day, including the latest impositions of the political and sociological and economical and military theories of the day.

ziggurat 2

This was the bridge between heaven and earth, a two way bridge.

Meanwhile, the FIRST bridge mentioned in the Scriptures is actually the Tree of the Living Ones (the Tree of Life). That tree, that bridge came back with Jesus, we not going to Him (we’re blocked by the Cherubim), but Jesus coming to us. You’ll remember His chat with Philip under the fig tree, you know, the bit about the angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man, who is Himself the Tree of Life, who gives us the Fruit of that Tree, the Holy Eucharist. You’ll remember the Cherubim protecting the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant, where one would find the presence of God pitching His tent among us. But Jesus is only a little while lower than the angels, as we read, and then He’s back up to heaven, where He draws us into His goodness and kindness and living Truth.

Following up on original sin, the supreme arrogance and divisory spirit of the Babylonians in building these ziggurat, a kind of control of the angels, of the gods, which is pure insanity of self-serving power, brought about the multiplication of languages and lack of cooperation as we read way back in Genesis.

We do have a bridge in Jesus. We do have a bridge in the Roman Pontiff particularly in his infallibility on matters of faith and morals pronounced to the Universal Church as the Successor of Peter. But such a bridge is one way. There’s no democracy involved, no voting that controls an outcome. Jesus is our Savior. We don’t save ourselves. Jesus protects the truth in His Church. Peter is not left on his own. We are not abandoned to our fickleness. We would jump off the bridge or be thrown off it much like the donkey in the fables of the days of yore. I recall the thanksgiving at the beginning of my ecclesiastical thriller novel called rather irreverently: “Jackass for the Hour.”

It is with gratitude that I dedicate this book to the many men and women who have generously read the manuscript, making many suggestions. They represent a dozen countries and almost as many language groups. They have the most diverse backgrounds, cultures and levels of education that I could find among those with whom I could entrust the work. Their patience and humour have, I hope, stripped the manuscript of at least some of my ineptitude. Yet, I apologise for still managing to make what is easy into something difficult, a defect of one who has little understanding. Seeing how assiduous I was in taking suggestions, the comment was made that the book shouldn’t become like the jackass who trotted into a spurious collection of Aesop’s Fables – you remember the one – who, depending on the suggestions of passers-by to his owners, carried nobody, or did carry the little boy, or the old man, or both, or was carried by them, ending up being drowned in the river which flowed, appropriately, under Market Bridge. What a jackass does is not acceptable to everyone. It makes life interesting for the one who insists on being a… Jackass for the Hour.

Anyway, our Lady was the bridge by which Jesus came to us. She doesn’t take Him back. She instead intercedes for us that we might also become one with her Son, she becoming our Mother. Then, by grace, we already have one foot in heaven. Ha! The angels also ascend and descend upon us, they see the face of God even while they help us to be one with the Son of the Living God, our Holy Redeemer, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace. Amen.

Leave a comment

Filed under Flores, Jesus

Unction of Goodness and kindness

jesus baptism

A parishioner painted this the-eyes-follow-you-everywhere portrait of Jesus as He would be just after His baptism by John in the Jordan. Note the reference of Mt 3:17. Note the angels ready to serve Him in the desert after the 40 days and nights of fasting. Note the crucifixion with the Father holding His Son, and then the burial (in the folds of the garments below the neck).

In fact, to fulfill all righteousness as Jesus set about showing us mercy founded on justice by being Himself baptized, even while being the innocent Divine Son of God, He took on the death we deserve because of original sin, effectively saying to our Heavenly Father that He, Jesus, should be treated as if He had enslaved everyone in sin from Adam until the last man is conceived, and should therefore be punished with the death we deserve for actually enslaving each other in sin, deserving to be put to death much like the charioteers and soldiers of Pharaoh were drowned in the Red Sea for having merely enslaved the children of Abraham unto physical labor for so many centuries.

The goodness and kindness of Jesus as He takes on His Passion and Death… A face which is peaceful as is right for the Prince of the Most Profound Peace. He’s the One I follow.

2 Comments

Filed under Holy Spirit, Jesus

Laudie-dog Eclipse-dog; Islam and the crescent moon; Jesus and me.

laudie dog eclispse dog

So, there I was, sitting in a chair, head back, eclipse glasses on, staring at the moon crossing the sun, with Laudie-dog trying to get my attention. So, I took a number of pictures of her, including this one. Mind you, she is not blind, this moment was just a millionth of a nano-second in length in which I somehow managed to take the picture just as she also looked up just before totality. She wasn’t just imitating me; she was trying to tell me that something weird was going on, like, um, me sitting and staring at the sun, because, how dumb is that, right?

During totality, Laudie dog was shaking with fear. But the shaking wasn’t, mind you, in fear of the celestial events. Rather, the town of Andrews was playing super weird spooky music even while others were shooting off fire-works. Laudie dog has no liking for that activity. Anyway, here’s the totality to my naked eye (and naked camera):

eclipse totality andrews nc 2017-

I loved going to the planetarium in the Twin Cities as a kid. It’s totally different when you see things happening in front of you. When the moon started blocking the sun, the first thought that came into my mind and heart and soul was: “God exists! God is so very wonderful! God loves us!”

But this wasn’t just an intellectual thing. I suppose people will make fun of me for saying this, but this was a spiritual event for me, very very very peaceful. By that I mean something beyond Saint Paul’s chapter one of his letter to the Romans. All creation speaks of the glory of God, yes! But more… It was as if Jesus was with me watching the eclipse, which, although He is creating that eclipse, although He is creating me, He can come in His wonderfully condescending love (in the absolutely best sense) and be in His own creation (He is incarnate!). And, by the way, He can also give a flower to the Immaculate Conception.

eclipse beginning crescent andrews nc 2017

Meanwhile, with the crescent sun a thought came to mind about the crescent moon and Islam.

While I was studying the Syrian language I came across a cultural tid-bit well known to every Muslim in that part of the world but not to someone like me from the North woods of Minnesota: the moon is a man, enlightening in difficult circumstances, helpful and kind, never threatening, even while the sun is a woman, always threatening, burning, hurtful, unrelentingly cruel. During a solar eclipse, the moon beats down the sun. The phases of the moon are actually just the sun trying to escape on the other side of the earth. Once in a while the moon hunts down the sun and shows the sun who is boss. The crescent moon is lifted up above every mosque/cultural center. The meteor rock in mecca is part of the moon come to earth, right? In that part of the world, the received mythology treated various celestial bodies as the gods, that is, the sons and daughters of the original deities which progressively became more material as time went on.

Meanwhile, the woman clothed with the sun in the Apocalypse (and our Lady of Guadalupe) has the crescent moon under her feet. Heh heh heh.

4 Comments

Filed under Dogs, Nature, Spiritual life

The pearl of great price. That’s you.

spider

When we hear the parable of the pearl of great price, you know, the one that the merchant sees and sells everything he has so that he can purchase it, and that’s like the Kingdom of Heaven, at least I am tempted to think that that’s me, or should be, you know, the merchant who finds the pearl of great price and sells everything he has to get it. But imagine that for a second: sell your car, your house, your computer, everything. Well then, now I know that that’s not me at all. I’m so bad at all this that if I see such a pearl it’s just as likely to be me looking at a dead spider. Then I think I could never be the merchant. Wait a minute….

Jesus is the merchant of the Kingdom of Heaven who buys me, the pearl, at the great price of Himself. He sees who I can be in His grace by redemption and salvation. I may be like the dead spider above, but He makes me who He wants by His grace. Thank you, Jesus.

3 Comments

Filed under Jesus, Spiritual life

White Lies and Truth Telling – In praise of Lillian Carter and Jesus

lillian carter

Southern Gentlewoman Lillian Carter gave an interview to Barbara Walters during Governor Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign, during which Jimmy promised that he would never lie to the American people.

  • Barbara Walters: “Has your son never told a lie?”
  • Lillian Carter: “Well, he’s probably told a few little white lies.”
  • Barbara Walters: “What’s a little white lie?”
  • Lillian Carter: “Well, Barbara, you remember when you came here a few minutes ago and I told you how pretty you looked and how glad I was to see you? That was one!”

These kind of conversations carry the baggage of a universally understood societal convention of mental reservation. Such mental reservation, when accompanied by even the slightest note of sarcasm, immediately betrays explicitly what everyone knows even without the help of the sarcasm: “You look pretty [in your own eyes].” So, it’s not even meant even as a little white lie, just an understood mental reservation, which can be even sharper than what is otherwise considered polite.

barbara walters

A mental reservation shouldn’t be used very often by us fallen human beings as we can ever so incredibly very easily turn into habitual full-on liars of the worst sort.

Having said that, Jesus Himself used a mental reservation: “I’m not going up to the feast in Jerusalem [publicly]” (see John 7:8-10). This isn’t even a “white lie.”

In the Nazi era, good Germans used mental reservations to save the Jews: “There are no Jews hiding in my basement [that I want you to know about].” Great! This isn’t even a “white lie.”

jewish yellow star jude

Not helping people to prepare to go to heaven when it is quite certain they will presently be going before their Creator and Redeemer stating ever so “nicely” to them that “Nothing is wrong! All is well! We have no worries! La di da!” — all that is simply a great disservice and shows zero leadership and lack of depth, lack of conviction, lack of character, love, respect, faith. Don’t be afraid to pray with people.

If I were always to have told people lies about their state of soul while they are dying, lying to them that they are presently on their way to meet their Creator and Redeemer, I would never have witnessed innumerable and absolutely peaceful and joyful deaths, people now happy to be on their way to meet Mary’s Son. To be at the ready with all the Sacraments and Papal Blessings and Indulgences, and then just stand there telling them that they are nice and everyone is nice and no one will ever get sick and die and that they should just forget about any kind of eternity would, on my part, be diabolical. Right?

anointing

Confessors who lie to their penitents, telling them that their sins are not sins at all are not helping them know the goodness and kindness and forgiveness of Jesus (which is why they are there at Confession but are denied). That’s never a good thing. Ever.

confessional

People want to say that actual lies or any sin whatsoever, even those of the worst kind, are not sins at all and are even praiseworthy because there are reasons, you know, mitigating circumstances that make it all alright. They do this because they are scared to death, being members of communities which have a preacher-man screaming hell-fire and brimstone Puritan-esque threats at them, bullying them into thinking that all are condemned if they have ever even once sinned, so that they are all going to hell no matter what, that is, unless you can think of some rationalization for why one sinned. Catholics can be like this, with self-indulgent pride which acts as self-salvation. I saw this in Australia, which, instead of being like the “Old West” of the USA, was extremely Puritanesque on one level, while, on another, there was an extreme attitude of being laid back, the kids, for instance, being sexualized in school as kindergarteners, with those same kids committing suicide astronomically disproportionately more than other youngsters anywhere in the world. That Down Under country generally has the idea that if it’s a sin, it cannot be forgiven, for there is no real forgiveness. God cannot forgive. So, they rationalize that they have so many mitigating circumstances that they could never be responsible for a sin, and so go ahead and sin on purpose, you know, telling themselves little white lies.

Here’s the deal: We need not be afraid to share with others the greatest love of our lives, Christ Jesus, who, in fact, does forgive us, and does provide us with grace so that we don’t “have to” sin. We can be on our way to heaven. Why do we have to be afraid of Jesus? He laid down His life for us. He loves us. He’s not the Puritan-esque preacher man. We do that because we are afraid to be good friends with Him, giving Him control of our spiritual lives. We would rather die a tortured physical death than do that. Allowing Jesus, by His grace, to bring us up into the life of the Most Holy Trinity demands that we be crucified to the world and to ourselves. The otherwise most gentle nice pious person will turn into a monster of bitter cynicism before they let go and let God if they are depending on themselves instead of on God’s grace. They will rationalize anything which keeps people away from that good friendship with Jesus that they themselves are afraid to have. Pope Francis rightly says: “Humility, humility, humility.”

pope francis confession

In heaven, there is no self-serving lying about telling people that they look pretty (see above). Instead, everyone will have the splendor of the Most Holy Trinity shining out from within them. It is not evil to turn people to this hope. We can be good friends with Jesus, Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception. He is good. He is kind. And I don’t mind telling people about Him, whether in or outside the Confessional, whether at the moment of death or any other time. Jesus is our All in all. He is my Savior, our Savior, King of kings, Lord of lords, Wonder Counselor, Prince of the Most Profound Peace, who will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Amen.

Leave a comment

Filed under Confession, Jesus, Missionaries of Mercy

Mountain Lion of the Tribe of Judah takes up residence at the hermitage

mountain lion 1

My neighbor just down the ridge at the hermitage looking at the claw-sharpening marks above his head on a telephone pole. It seems this cat is living under the hermitage up the mountain. Hey! That’s my hermitage! Anyway, they sent this picture below as well of the paw prints in their garden. Note that this represents two overlaying prints, but that, nonetheless, the one on the top is fully six inches across. This is a monster cat. This isn’t the panther I saw twice and had a rather frightful experience of a third time. No no. This is a mountain lion. Very large. Very heavy. As heavy and big as myself. On the ruler, go from inch 3 to inch 9. Mature cats have 5 1/4″ prints. These are six inches across. Yikes!

mountain lion 2

This paw print thing has been going on for some weeks. I’m sure he’s been watching me target practice with the Glock 19 and thinks that I’m useless enough not to worry about. Goodness! There’s a super honest comment about my shooting I didn’t care to get! ;¬) I’m sure he’s thinking that I would be a good menu item for breakfast on my next day off. Believe me, the last thing I would ever want to do is to kill one of these beauties. That would just break my heart. Anyway, I’m really happy that he’s at the hermitage. It makes me think that the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the last one standing after the epic battle of Calvary, full of scars in hands and feet and side and brow, scars covering His body, but victorious, still standing though as slain… is with me at the hermitage when I’m there. (See Revelation 5:6, the lion as the lamb, standing, but slain).

LEO

And He is with me at the hermitage, as I bring Holy Communion to grandma neighbor just there below the hermitage. And then I am reminded that I’m no Saint Jerome.

saint jerome albrecht durer

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under Jesus

Ἐξομολογοῦμαί σοι, πάτερ – I am being one Word with you, Father (Mt 11:25)

cherub-sword-eden

Ἐξομολογοῦμαί σοι, πάτερ (Mt 11:25) – Let’s see… Is that, “I praise you, Father…” No, no. How about “I thank you”? Or “I confess you”? Or “I profess you”? No, no, no. It’s more like “I am intensely in agreement with you, Father.” Quite literally: “I am being one Word with you, Father.” One Word, The Word of the Father, now Incarnate, with the darkness finally grasping at the Light on the Cross (see John’s Prologue) because of His walking among us until we walk Him to the Cross.

“Father, Lord of heaven and earth: you have hidden these things from the sophisticated and the clever and uncovered these things to mere infants.”

Back in 1990 Cardinal Ratzinger gave a conference to the bishops of the United States down in Texas. In my opinion, which I shared with him in our exchange about my thesis back in September of 2008, this was perhaps his most significant theological / anthropological intervention of his life. He spoke of two memories that we carry with us in our souls, weighing upon us with all the glory of God,  whether we realize it or not:

  • There is a memory of the pristine state of mankind, a memory now buried underneath all the weakness and darkness consequent to the sin in what was a Garden of Paradise (Eden) but now is more apt as the Garden of Gethsemane.
  • There is a memory of what Salvation, Jesus, brought to us at the Last Supper (“Do this in memory of me.”) When we call this to mind, this Truth because of this Love, this putting our fingers into the nail wounds and our hands into the side, the Heart of our Lord, we are made one with the Creator of everything pristine.

The great theologian said that we don’t move from the memory of what is pristine to the memory of what our Lord has done for us, but rather, go in reverse, necessarily, our Lord taking us by the hand and guiding us to be in touch with the Heart that would make what is pristine one with the Most Holy Trinity, through Him, with Him, in Him.

We are all cowardly and nervous before our weakness consequent to original sin. The sophisticated and clever condemned by our Lord reject His Truth and His love and entrench in rationalizing their being of one word, as it were, with the world, the flesh and the devil. Those who are mere infants don’t trust in their own strength they know they don’t have, but rather allow themselves to be drawn to Him while He is lifted up on the Cross (see John 12:32), gaining the memory of what He has done for us at the Last Supper (given for in sacrifice… poured out for you in sacrifice), and thus gaining not only the memory of whatever pristine being renewed, but so much more in being made one with the Mystical Body of Christ, Jesus, Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception.

On a personal note, today, I don’t know why, but I am utterly blown away by Jesus “being one Word with the Father” and us being one with Jesus… and… oh my… with the Father.

lamb of god

5 Comments

Filed under Jesus, Spiritual life

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… ]

6 Comments

Filed under Jesus, Jewish-Catholic dialogue

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.

2 Comments

Filed under Birds

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.”

4 Comments

Filed under Eucharist, Jesus, Terrorism

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.

2 Comments

Filed under Drugs, Eucharist, Jesus

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Deescalation, Jesus

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.

2 Comments

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Confession, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Missionaries of Mercy

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…

5 Comments

Filed under Jesus, Priesthood, Vocations