Tag Archives: Lourdes
Re-post: Francis the Lutheran certainly to the left, and “Fr.” George Byers, “Novus Ordo Priest,” not quite right
[[Originally published December 6, 2015. I’m re-posting this for the sake of my Internet Stalker guy. Heh heh heh…]]
I’m happy to be mocked with you, Holy Father, all for the Year of Mercy.
Sometimes I’ll follow links to Arise! Let us be going! back the blogs/websites that put them up. This picture is from a sede-vacantist site. They did a photoshop of Pope Francis, making him into a Lutheran Pastor, since they think he is neither the Bishop of Rome nor any kind of bishop. They found this picture of yours truly who knows where. It was from my time in the hermitage. At least it’s not the infamous chainsaw and crucifix picture! :¬) The vestments were made for me by some good ladies in a parish North of Toulouse when I was a chaplain in Lourdes. The seminarian taking this photo was cursing and cursing and cursing yet again, since the camera lens was no good, making for a shimmer effect he thought was most inappropriate in attempt after attempt. He’s right of course, unless that’s my guardian angel next to me!
But, seriously, “they say” I’m not a priest (note that scare quotes around “Fr.”, because I’m what they call a “Novus Ordo Priest”, and therefore invalidly ordained, they think). I didn’t even know there was such a creature as distinct from any other. I do know that the traditionalists at the Second Vatican Council, a small number, but they were there, wanted only two things to change in the entire liturgy, and both had to do with the ordination of a priest. They wanted the newly ordained priest, who has just concelebrated his ordination Mass (yes, that’s right, it’s said somewhat alta-voce so they can recite all the words of the Canon with the bishop) to drink from the Precious Blood (which he does not do in the “Tridentine rite”, and thus his “first Mass” truly is the next day), and they also wanted the ordinand to be anointed with Chrism, not merely, so to speak, with the oil of catechumens. So, not even Chrism… And there’s a silly story of how that came to be. I’ve written on that before. Does that all make “Novus Ordo Priest” ordinations more better, so to speak? Sigh…
Anyway, this “Novus Ordo Priest” was the one who reestablished the traditional Mass in Lourdes after a hiatus of many decades, celebrating Solemn High Mass for some 7 to 8,000 people in the Basilica of Saint Pius X, with weekly Sunday sung Masses in the Immaculate Conception (upper) Basilica. It was this “Novus Ordo Priest” who was the one to start up a course of traditional liturgy in the Pontifical Seminary in Columbus, Ohio, with “liturgy” referring not just to the Mass, but to Baptism, Marriage, Confession, Exorcism, etc. It was this “Novus Ordo Priest” who brought stability to the offering of the traditional Mass midway between Sydney and Melbourne. It was this “Novus Ordo Priest” who, as far as I know, came up with the Missionary of Mercy idea in regard to the regularization of the SSPX already six years ago, which would have worked in conjunction with extraterritorial properties, etc. It was this “Novus Ordo Priest” who… well, I could go on, but one gets the picture, so to speak.
As for Lutheran Pope Francis (according to these sede-vacantists), well, I am almost envious of this treatment. Why not put me in a Lutheran Pastor’s collar? I’m German Lutheran on my Dad’s mother’s side. And, as is noted on the sede-vacantist website, which is bereft of any sense of mirthful irony, I like to cite the Hier stehe ich thing. Why not picture me with some Jewish Pe’ot (my mom being of the Jewish race though with Catholic faith), or whatever? I feel left behind. Kicked to the peripheries. I don’t feel the love! So, from Saint Cyprian:
“Finally, the Apostle, speaking of charity, unites it with endurance and patience. Charity, he says, is always patient and kind; it is not jealous, is not boastful, is not given to anger, does not think evil, loves all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. He shows that charity can be steadfast and persevering because it has learned how to endure all things.
“And in another place he says: Bear with one another lovingly, striving to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. He shows that neither unity nor peace can be maintained unless the brethren cherish each other with mutual forbearance and preserve the bond of harmony by means of patience.”
Let me address these sede-vacantists directly: I’ll have to work on what Cyprian says. Join me. Saint Thomas Aquinas has it that there is no other motive for division in the faith than hatred. That really shocked me when I saw it, but, of course, it makes perfect sense. Thomas was perhaps the greatest interlocutor (dialogue master) in all that is interreligious (as in the Summa contra gentiles). And you hold us “Novus Ordo” crowd to be a different religion, don’t you?
I’m happy to be mocked with Pope Francis, but not happy that someone would want to mock anyone in the first place. So, finally, here’s my question to you guys on the sede-vacantist side of things. This is what I want to know, and this goes right to heart of the matter…
Is it not true that we’ve all crucified the Son of the Living God with our sin, original and otherwise? You. Me. All. And is it not true that the Son of the Living God redeemed all of us, though we are not all to be saved? The upshot of that is that we have to be a bit more serious about all this, don’t we? Otherwise, it is all a bunch of self-referential, self-congratulatory, Promethian, neo-Pelagian cleverness, all the one-up-man-ship with which Saint Paul got fed up. He did the same thing I did in this post, bragging away to no good end, except to show that all such bragging is useless as all is nothing if not done through, with and in Christ, instead of just for ourselves and those we try to impress.
There is one faith, one Lord, one baptism, as Pope Francis said, yes, in the Lutheran Church. It was Saint Augustine, was it not, who said that he was in anguish until all such separated brethren were back in the fold? He called them brothers. We are brothers, are we not?
Whatever I said about any Roman Pontiff going too far, such as Sixtus V, my hero (a statement I don’t retract, by the way: see the Hier stehe ich thing), but I must say that I’ve learned a great deal from Pope Francis. He has shaken me to the very core of my being in these past weeks. I think I understand him now. I’ll be getting to that in some other posts about Matthew 16 and 18 and absolute truth. I think you’ll be interested.
My Internet Stalker guy, who berates me for being young (younger than him!) and having no memories of anything pre-Vatican II (so he thinks), apparently knows nothing about me, or, if he knew it, would hate me all the more for it I’m guessing. He should read these two posts which I published relatively long ago as far as social media goes. And yet I hope that I think he will be inspired by them. Perhaps he will remember good things of his own childhood days and not be so dismissive of Jesus, the Church and priests. Perhaps he will have some hope.
Dear Fr George, I have returned from my 14th visit to Lourdes where once again I experienced many memorable moments. Continue reading
7 7 7 – Summorum Pontificum: the 10th anniversary in Lourdes. “Just wear dental guards, Father George!”
Things are never as they seem. After Pope Benedict XVI came out with Summorum Pontificum on 7 July 2007, the permanent chaplains in Lourdes, including myself, were called to a special meeting announced by the rector of the time on behalf of the bishop of the time. We were going to be the very first to implement S.P. even before the start date.
The rector asked: “Who knows how to offer Mass in Latin? The bishop wants to know because of the Pope’s letter.” Three of us raised our hands, one who may have known it but didn’t want to offer it but was willing to fake it by saying the Novus Ordo in Latin (he didn’t last long), one who didn’t care one way or the other (and would soon regret raising his hand and quit), and myself. I was put in charge of bringing Summorum Pontificum to fruition, being naive enough to think for a little while that all this was actually sincere. It wasn’t. This was all a way to look cooperative with the Holy See but it was instead a way to control and smack down anything to do with Summorum Pontificum.
Generally speaking, only chaplains were allowed to offer this Mass (there were a few exceptions such as when the SSPX would come with all four bishops, etc.) which meant that many other priest-pilgrims were regularly denied or given the run around, creating chaos, frustration and bad feelings on the part of the pilgrims. Priests and even bishops were simply treated like trash. Tempers flared. It was all so very unnecessary. So sad.
Places allowed for this Mass were thrown around all over the sanctuaries so that no schedule at a set place could be established for a long time, which also meant that I had to prepare rolling suitcases filled with the necessary items to drag all over the sanctuaries, up and down staircases, in the rain (sometimes all the way to the front gate at Saint Joseph’s), etc. No advertisements were allowed for this Mass either on the internet or at the info office, though finally, sometimes, it would be put on the roster, though often with the wrong time and place. I would put up notices on doors around the sanctuaries to announce the inevitable change of time and venue, only to find the notices immediately ripped down, etc. Mockery for saying this Mass coming from other chaplains was extremely intense. The last thing they wanted was to actually permit this Mass to be offered. One of the worst ones to mock was the priest who had almost single-handedly throughout the last decades reduced the “Youth Mass” to a McDonald’s picnic and irrelevant theater and total screaming from one end to the other throughout “Mass.” Yep. I say “Mass” in quotes because they did do the consecration, I guess, but everything else was ip for grabs, including whether laity could participate in the consecrations.
Finally, with clever chess moves, Masses were allowed in a half dozen chapels for pilgrimages of up to dozens of people (offered by myself, rarely by another priest) and finally were allowed in the hidden side chapels in the crypt of the upper Basilica of the Immaculate Conception for priests coming with one or two others. Never in the grotto. A Sunday Mass was allowed, usually in the smallish Immaculate Conception upper Basilica, but, of course, the Mass times were changed wildly and sometimes scheduled at the same time and place as other Masses, or so closely back to back that chaos ensued. Unending, unending, unending.
The mockery coming from the other chaplains (and some others) was vicious, loud, public, and, truly unending. It’s hard to imagine more hateful attitudes, because, after that, people go into uncaring, zero conscience mode, which I suppose is the ultimate hate. I guess our Lord wanted to introduce me to just how bad it can get, and how bad it was throughout Europe as it all was concentrated and put into a package for me at Lourdes. A special gift, really.
But in the midst of all this, the Lord was doing what He wanted, and so there were simply some of the most beautiful moments that Lourdes had seen in dozens of years. One I remember had to do with me taking the oaths of new European Boy Scouts down in front of the Rosary Basilica after a Traditional Mass in the Immaculate Conception Basilica. Another was the pilgrimage of soon to be Cardinal Burke:
Another was just over a year later on the National Feast Day of France, August 15, 2008, during the National Pilgrimage, when I was able to arrange for and offer the Mass in the underground Basilica of Saint Pius X. A solemn high Mass with a good 7000 people assisting:
That Mass was a nuclear explosion and caused no end of troubles for me, with accusations being made against me from near and far, with letters of complaint being sent near and far. What a nightmare. “You told people that the new Mass is invalid and they are obliged to go to the traditional Mass!” It never happened. But the same higher-ups insisted that this was the case until I finally departed for the USA (at a time foreseen before I went to Lourdes in the first place). What to do with such slander? I’m only telling you just a fraction of what went on.
I once said that I don’t know any priest who has suffered more for the re-establishment of the Traditional Mass in living memory – and I know a lot of priests who have suffered for this – and I still think that that is true. I include bishops in that assessment. I don’t say that to toot my own horn, but rather to give encouragement to those who suffer. And yet, so many among the traditional-ism-ists on the far end of the spectrum are so bitter and angry with me, I suppose because I am not bitter like them. Why be bitter? That gets no one anywhere. It only hurts oneself. We can be faithful sons of the Church and not be bitter. In fact, we can be joyful.
Anyway, I was being so smashed down that I was grinding my teeth at night so that dentists noticed that my teeth were being worn down and cracked. One recommended dental guards at night such as one might wear for American football. I didn’t, but I have to say that this was at the same time the worst time in my entire life and also the most glorious. I wouldn’t change any of it. And there was joy in the midst of this.
Through it all I got to know Jesus and Mary so very much better. I was told by many priests I talked to at the time – friends on pilgrimage – that surely this time in Lourdes was providential for me, to bring me closer to Jesus and Mary.
And I was happy to do what I could to be a good son of the Church in the best way I knew how, trying to fulfill the wishes of Pope Benedict and, indeed, the Holy See of the time. I was doing my best to make friends with the pilgrimage groups that came, with the priests, with the FSSP, with the SSPX who have a house up the hill across the river. I regret nothing. I would do it all over again. After my requested two year sojourn in Lourdes was completed, I was felicitously replaced by a great young priest of the FSSP. Here’s a changing of the guard picture in the sacristy:
I was saying that I was willing to do it all over again. In fact, I did do it all over again in re-establishing the traditional Mass in the Pontifical seminary in Columbus, Ohio, the Josephinum. There were some bishops saying that they would pull out their seminarians unless classes were taught for this. I, of course, volunteered, but it was the same permit so as to control and smash down effort by the powers that be, much of that not seen by the seminarians. I taught the Mass and all the sacraments and even exorcism and blessings in the old ritual, and also liturgical Latin. It was a strictly optional course but, whatever. The traditional Mass was back and it all took on a life of its own. Great! Novus Ordo Latin Mass also became very frequent after this. ;-)
When you really want something you have to be willing to suffer for it, and not be bitter about it, because it’s a matter of love. And I love being a priest. Didn’t Jesus encounter difficulties? Unimaginably worse, and so many priests have actually suffered right around the world right through the centuries, making my ruminations almost seem blasphemous. But, when you’re going through something, it can be kinda rough. We’re all pretty weak, whatever protestations we might otherwise make about ourselves. But we learn. As the Master, so the mere disciple. We learn that it’s all about Jesus’ love and Jesus’ truth and Jesus’ goodness and kindness and all the rest doesn’t matter, as it won’t matter in heaven, and, so as to praise Jesus, that’s where we want to go, where we must go. No bitterness. Just wear a dental guard. Save your teeth for a good smile. I love being a priest!
My own experience in becoming friends with those who are devout Catholics and who truly have the absolute worst cases of PTSD ever (even registered on special vehicle licence tags) is that they love such events as giving a flower to the Immaculate Conception.
That’s right: “event.” That’s the word for this mere giving of a flower to Jesus’ good mom. Those who have been through just some hell might well scoff at that fact, but those who have been through hell itself know that what I say is true. The hell walkers know that Mary has been there, done that as she stood under the Cross when all of hell was broken out. They know that they can trust her, go to her, knowing she will understand.
In Lourdes the sickest of the deathly sick go to the grotto, and in silence they speak of their war stories with her, but in a way you might not expect. They can’t place a flower there (it’s a prearranged candle thing), but they note the flowers that grow there no matter what, drought, ice, it doesn’t matter. The flowers grow and are there to give her honor. And those who suffer place themselves in agreement with those roses. Or perhaps the roses are in agreement with those who are there…
Mary tells her own war story, also in silence, simply pointing to her risen Son, you know, the One who faced all of hell for us, who faced the worst torture hell had to offer for us. She saw it all. She brings us to Him. “Tell Him your war stories,” she says with the tenderest encouragement. We look to Jesus, drop to our knees, and say, “My Lord and my God.”
A grunge caving video I made when a permanent chaplain in the caves of Lourdes. Yikes! Don’t do this when you go to Lourdes, lest you die. Seriously. You’ll be arrested. It’s just that I was an official permanent chaplain. Know that the spikes are sharp! However, my extreme sport talents came back to me, and I made it in and out alive, many times actually. The caves were a bit of a refuge for me. The music was a one-off performance for the 150th anniversary. The Russian chant was a group delegated by Moscow for the occasion.