Tag Archives: Mercy

Amoris laetitia and Cardinal Burke

cardinal burke lourdes

I took this picture in the Immaculate Conception “Upper” Basilica in Lourdes when I was a permanent chaplain there for a couple of years, when Cardinal Burke was on pilgrimage with the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest in 2009. I suffered terribly in the days of yore, trying to facilitate such Masses.

I’ve had quite a number of extended conversations with Cardinal Burke over the years, one of which was quite recent. I’ll tell you this: he is the utmost gentleman, the most humble parish priest who has no “airs” about him at all, except the brightness of a spirit of unstoppable humble reverence before the Lord Jesus. But there are those who are upset with him, I think, precisely for this reason. It makes them nervous.

Those who are upset with Cardinal Burke the most are the traditional-ism-ists. Don’t they know that they are only proving in this manner whatever it is that Pope Francis is trying to say about charity toward others? I know a number of the pseudonymous crowd, but they literally run away and hide (really) when I ask for them over the phone after they’ve published things without a name. Otherwise, in safer times, they’ll buy me lunch. Or, alternatively, attack me as best they can. I’ve known some for decades, and have suffered terribly for some of them, perhaps unbeknownst to them. But there’s no real talking with them. Very quickly everything turns to: “It’s a conspiracy of the Jews!” and then whatever else makes them breathless for the day, living on the adrenaline of mystery, the whole pen-name thing.

Cardinal Burke has been their hero until now. He’s said something they don’t like. He’s taken away their thunder. He has correctly said that the most recent intervention of Pope Francis is his own personal opinion, which is correct, both because that is what Pope Francis himself said, and because that’s the kind of document it is. That’s it.

I suggest that those who think they know better than Cardinal Burke start to read some history about the Church being, as Saint Robert Bellarmine said, “never closer to dropping into hell than at this time.” That statement is always true, and is always true because of, get this, your sins and mine. And Jesus did descend into hell, the Church in hell, if you will, to preach to the damned spirits. But the Immaculate Bride of Christ is saved from hell always and at every moment, because Christ Jesus is our Savior. Our savior is not our own cleverness, not our ad hominem attacks on mere men. We are at war with the fallen angels. We need to help each other out of respect for Christ crucified. Cardinal Burke had to make this preliminary statement. I’m sure he will have more to say. Give him a chance! But you can see how difficult the battle is. There is mutiny for the sake of mutiny. Attack for the sake of attack. People letting bitterness turn them into cynics.

Do I have questions about, say, I don’t know, casuistry for our Holy Father? Yes, I do. Would I present those questions to him with the utmost respect for his person and with the utmost reverence for his office as the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter? Yes, absolutely. I’ll give some background to those questions in articles to come about the prodigal son and the adulterous woman.

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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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Don’t think clouds are all cloudy: of penance, merit and sanctifying grace. Divine Mercy Sunday is upon us!

 

cloudy ridge mountains

I love to see clouds hugging the mountains as if they are drawn by some magnetism. Even better, I remember doing ridge walking (not mountain climbing) up near the Matterhorn on the Italian side in another life, watching clouds literally tumble up the valleys and in between the ridges and mountain tops, exploding in size or disappearing as I watched, taken in as I was by the power of nature as created by our good God, almost able to touch them so close were they. Watching those clouds was like sitting on the top rail of rodeo gate with an explosive animal underfoot. These clouds above help define just how many ridges there are vertically going up to the top ridge. This is why trails are either by the river below or on the very tops of ridges if at all possible.

volcano

Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano reminds us of the clouds and lightnings and trumpeting thunder and earthquakes of Mount Sinai and then Mount Calvary heralding our redemption. And the images of Hebrew Scriptures of God riding on the clouds of the heavens come to mind. Spectacular.

When I was a kid, I would enjoy reading a book at night solely by sheet-lightning light, with the interior radiance of those clouds being so bright that I could do this with ease with almost no interruption. It was actually better than this compilation of a brilliantly freaky sick editor of lightning videos. Hat’s off to him…

Clouds are not just mist and fluffiness. Clouds are tornadoes, are hurricanes and typhoons. They can bring prosperity or flooding, life or death. They can carry the voice of our dear Heavenly Father at the Transfiguration of Jesus.

But sometimes we feel a storm cloud is over our heads and it’s all bad and evil and dark and we’re doomed. Here’s a note from a reader with my [[comments]].

“One question I have on the just consequences of sin is that it seems like there’s an important sense in which any offense against God (and especially a mortal sin) is an infinite offense simply by the fact that it is AGAINST GOD. So I have the sense that suffering or penance is more of a gesture of love of God and of His justice than it is making any quantifiable headway on what I justly owe [[Yes, any penance, including one given in confession, is to begin and end with friendship with Jesus, so that if one fasts, one complains to Him about how weak one is so as to ask to be killed off figuratively speaking to self so as to only live for Him, with that friendship growing by leaps and bounds in all charity and thus covering a multitude of sins]], though by persevering to death one gives one’s personal “all” [[Don’t be like Simone Weil in doing that! Yikes!]]. Although, about some sins I have fulfilled the recommended penance from the ancient penitential manuals [[a huge accomplishment, but remember the bit about friendship with Jesus]] but whether that is theologically a lot different than “pray an Our Father and a Hail Mary” in the ability to really atone for sin, I do not know. [[There are many variables, but there is an extra help of grace, I would think, when this comes from the sacrament of Confession. Just to say, in my discussions with the Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary over in Rome as a new Missionary of Mercy, I was provided a review of the kind of penances they give out, more than an Our Father and Hail Mary!]] And I am not sure exactly how it relates to this if I gain a plenary indulgence, the temporal punishment due to sin is remitted [[from the treasury, as it were, so to speak, of the super-abundant merits of Christ and the saints]], yet the disorder in myself remains which is effects of sin and in justice must be suffered, this is a little bit confusing distinction.[[Ahh… There it is. That’s the mistake of today, confusing our psychological state and our spiritual state. We are always weak in this world because of justice for sin, and the very forgiveness and state of grace enables us to use that weakness for sanctification with the most exhilarating irony ever. Here’s the deal: the closer to Jesus we are, the more honestly we can see how far He had to reach to get us, which is the more honest we can be in thanking Him now for that salvation and then absolutely gloriously in heaven. Don’t dare think that more balanced and nice is holy. It’s in being more at ease in turning to Jesus in humble thanksgiving even while it is revealed to us just how far Jesus had to reach to get us. With this outrageous enthusiasm for love of Jesus, let the clouds blare out their trumpets and show us their lightnings. There is nothing to fear in the storms of Calvary, for it is Jesus who is drawing us to Himself across hell to Himself. If we only knew the benefit of the storms, we wouldn’t want to give them up at all until we, please God, made it into heaven. Go ahead and watch them explode or to vaporize as you make your assent up Mount Carmel. We look not to ourselves but to Him, to whom be glory and honor forever and ever. Amen.]]

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Day 7: Father Tom held for ransom

fr tom

Father Tom, one of the few survivors in the Missionaries of Charity massacre, is being held for millions of dollars in Ransom. This is the kind of priest who is a missionary of mercy. Let’s pray for his strength in the Lord.

The Divine Mercy novena prayer for today is for those who especially venerate and glorify Jesus’ Mercy:

Today bring to Me the Souls who especially venerate and glorify My Mercy, and immerse them in My mercy. These souls sorrowed most over my Passion and entered most deeply into My spirit. They are living images of My Compassionate Heart. These souls will shine with a special brightness in the next life. Not one of them will go into the fire of hell. I shall particularly defend each one of them at the hour of death.

Most Merciful Jesus, whose Heart is Love Itself, receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who particularly extol and venerate the greatness of Your mercy. These souls are mighty with the very power of God Himself. In the midst of all afflictions and adversities they go forward, confident of Your mercy; and united to You, O Jesus, they carry all mankind on their shoulders. These souls will not be judged severely, but Your mercy will embrace them as they depart from this life.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls who glorify and venerate Your greatest attribute, that of Your fathomless mercy, and who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls are a living Gospel; their hands are full of deeds of mercy, and their hearts, overflowing with joy, sing a canticle of mercy to You, O Most High! I beg You O God:

Show them Your mercy according to the hope and trust they have placed in You. Let there be accomplished in them the promise of Jesus, who said to them that during their life, but especially at the hour of death, the souls who will venerate this fathomless mercy of His, He, Himself, will defend as His glory. Amen.

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Analogy for Divine Mercy: Waterfalls!

waterfall1

This above picture is utterly deceptive. These falls are about 1/4 mile long. The width of the falls at the bottom is about 150 feet across. I’m sure this would count as a level 6 for serious knuckleheads, if not just an outright portage (good idea). I’m guessing all kayaking is forbidden (good idea). I took this picture the other day on way to the house exorcism.

waterfall2

The picture above is utterly deceptive. You would think cars can’t drive under waterfalls. You would be wrong. That is a roadway. I took this picture the other day on my way to the house exorcism.

waterfall3

The above picture is utterly deceptive. This waterfall is next to the hermitage. You would think it’s only about 5 feet across. It’s more like thirty. I took this picture the other day on my way back from the house exorcism.

san clemente mosaicThis mosaic at San Clemente in Rome isn’t utterly deceptive. It’s an attempt at an analogy about waterfalls, using the psalm line: As the hart years for running streams, so my soul is thirsting for you my God.” I used to pass this daily for years while doing my stint in bella Roma. The waters gushing from the foot of the cross depict the exorcism of all exorcisms. Note the serpent escaping just below the cross. He hates that the Lord Jesus has just died for all of us, thus having the right in His own justice to have mercy on us, the mercy of establishing His own Kingdom to replace the kingdom of the prince of the this world, the ancient dragon, that cunning serpent, the father of lies.

To this day, the one who has best depicted the waterfall of which we must take note is Mel Gibson in his “The Passion of the Christ.” In one of the final scenes on Calvary, you’ll remember the soldier must thrust his sword into the side, into the Heart of Jesus, you know, just to make sure that He’s dead. He does so, and from that we receive the image of the font of the Sacraments and the creation of the Church from the side of Christ just as Adam’s wife was taken from the side of Adam:

side of christ

side of christ 2

side of christ 3

Also His Immaculate Virgin Mother was redeemed at the first moment of her conception so that sin never touched her soul. This vision of this waterfall is not deceptive at all. It speaks of us of the truth of our salvation, the goodness and kindness and truth of Jesus with a love stronger than death, that mocks death, that rises from the dead, taking captivity captive, taking us to our Heavenly Father to give us as a gift to Him. Thank you, Jesus.

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Carolina Mourning Turtle Dove mourning on Good Friday

mourning dove

Seen from the kitchen window of the new rectory of the parish…

Today’s the day, Good Friday, prophesied by Simeon at the presentation of the Lord in the Temple (Luke 2:22-35). Swords piercing hearts…

sacred heartsWhen the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,” and to offer the sacrifice of “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,” in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:

“Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”

The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

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Spying the Spy on this Spy Wednesday

nard jesus woman

Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head, as he sat at table. But when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for a large sum, and given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this ointment on my body she has done it to prepare me for burial. Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him. (Matthew 26:6-16 rsv)

Jesus is not a liar. He said that she did this for his burial. In other words, she knew, in looking around the room, noticing Judas, that Jesus was a dead man. One of them, Judas, was going to have him killed. She had the purity of heart and agility of soul to see that this was so. She is the Spy of spies for the King of kings, who knows the whole truth of it, and praises her for her perspicacity. She knows Jesus to be the Prince of the Most Profound Peace and that Judas is instead harassed and is on the fast track to being fully possessed by the Father of Lies, Satan. This great lady is one of the ones I want to write about in the a little volume on the great women of the Gospels. One day… one day…

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (Predestination edition)

flores1-

Everyone is redeemed. Some are saved. No one is predestined to hell, though many go there, including the son of perdition, Judas. There are those who are predestined to heaven.

This is not a  matter of God taking away our free will or affirming the non-sequitur logic that just because God knows if we will cooperate with His grace or not, that this takes away our free will. No.

Some of the saints have spoken about signs of predestination, such as saying the rosary. I suppose that it is terribly, horrifically presumptuous, but I’m thinking that someone who gives flowers to Mary Immaculate with sincerity just may be predestined. The sincerity part, which necessitates grace, is the catch, of course. I could give flowers to Jesus’ good mom all day, everyday, and still be on my way to h, e, double toothpicks, the unspeakable place or horror and grinding of teeth.

Confession, also with simplicity, sincerity, humility, hope, thanksgiving for God’s gracious mercy, is perhaps THE sign of predestination. Jesus is good and kind. He would certainly love that we, in His grace, would sincerely give flowers, such as roses (ROSE-ary), to His good mom. And He would love that we do this in heaven. Confession is the way to go, but with humility, simplicity, sincerity, hope, thanksgiving for God’s gracious mercy.

Don’t be afraid. Don’t worry. Don’t be downcast. God’s loves happy saints. Confession makes one joyful as the day is long, however much anything is weighing on us.

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CRITICA TEXTUS & Dotty the 1987 Toyota “Pope Francis” back-mountain pickup goes to town

image

Today’s another one of those medical forays into medical practice for one of my parishioners, whom I’ve brought to one of the nearest actual hospitals, about two hours 45 minutes away, way across state lines, where people are practicing to practice medicine.

“Eee-haaaaaaah!!! Lookie here Erlanger in Chattanooga, Ténnessee: it’s country come to town!”

Dotty has been “to town” on some other rare occasions such as the Chrism Mass six hours from the parish, at least on the return trip it’s six hours during rush hour.

Anyway, my view for awhile in bat perspective, that is, hanging around in the waiting room:

image

This is an all day affair. Didn’t get to bed until 12:30am. Woke up at 3:25am. We’ll get back about midnight. Offered Holy Mass early on. Breviary is on the phone app. This post goes up with the phone as well. A priest is coming down from Knoxville and we’re going to have some lunch and ferocious spiritual discussions.

Meanwhile, over in the comments box of 03 The Father Byers Kryptos, a third extended comment came in from Christopher, who is very much trying to get a hold of the treasure map thing. I have a great deal of respect for that, but the third comment has gotten into rabbit holes, some helpful, some not. I have not published it.

Regarding the unhelpful bit, I ask that everyone read page 125 of The Reliques of Father Prout. I’m sure Christopher will have had this at hand as a favorite childhood book. Perhaps the 1860 edition published in London would do just fine. Those across the pond do sometimes exhibit a bit of culture and wit in such a way as to make even us Americans marvel. Look for the description of prout as an adverb. ;-)

Regarding the helpful bit, in the via negativa that is, I noticed a rather distressing and now more explicit and unfortunately I must say typical misunderstanding of Sacred Tradition and the Traditiones. That deserves its own post. Not getting that will not let one see the truth. Stay tuned. But read Father Prout!

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Today: wonderful distractions of mercy

smoky mountains

Today was corporal work of mercy day: bring an elderly parishioner to the hospital day. I never tire of the mountains. You would think the red tone to the forest above is reminiscent of Autumn, but instead those are trillions of buds you are looking at, with the trees in foreground exploding in praise of our gracious Creator, the Almighty. We had to make it over the top of the far ridge, where one finds the ultra-famous Parkway, where bears and wolves and elk reign supreme.

hospital

The view from the hospital, well, a specialized clinic right next to the hospital. Dotty, the 1987 Toyota no-longer-just-a-backup pickup, is the tiny black truck, 3rd one in, a bit hard to see. She’s pretty humble next to the other monster vehicles next to her.

Right now, as the sun sets in EST USA, I have to get Father Gordon’s post edited up to send off to Australia for further editing and publishing on TSW in just about 6 hours time. That’s another work of mercy, is it not, visiting the imprisoned kind of thing? I think so. I think we all do much more than we think. Jesus said so to the incredulous crowd on His right when they protested that they never saw Him anywhere to do something good to Him: “Whatever you have done for the least of these, you have done for me.” I don’t all consider Father Gordon to be the least among us. He’s a hero to me, a priest’s priest. But many don’t. So? I’ll stand next to him in all solidarity any day.

In a previous post, I mentioned putting other things in a pot of water to give to the Immaculate Conception besides flowers. Here’s an example of a tree right next to the rectory. These are not flowers. Just budding leaves. I’m the kind who would rip off just a small branch or two to put in the mix. Is there someone in your parish who puts such things before our Lady, returning to make sure all is fresh and proper?

red bud tree

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(5) Father Byers at 15 years old, meeting up with two suicide rapists

just me 15

Below, some bits of my autobiography are provided which speak to more aggression from others who are hurting to the point of suicide. I include these experiences here for the express purpose of speaking to some few individuals who should know better, who really need to stop their corruption. People are hurting, and they need to help them instead of encouraging them to hurt themselves and others all the more with all their social engineering and self-congratulations in their lust for power and, it would seem, their lust for lust. Here are the previous articles in this series:

It was now the Summer before entering my sophomore year in what was already my second high school (we had moved). I was in a sauna with a couple of boys of the same school, who were just a year older than myself, with whom I had been swimming at the University’s brand new athletics building sporting an Olympic sized pool. One of them all of a sudden got aggressive and was getting ready to do the rape thing on me, saying that I needed to be “initiated” into my new school, but his friend, horrified, grabbed him and gave him the lecture of his life, stopping him. Poor kid. He was killed in what was reported officially as an accident the next Summer in an equally untoward circumstance. People conjectured that he might have taken his own life. They should know. He had done what he did right in front of them.

boyPeople suffer in hidden agony, crunching in on themselves, and sometimes try to draw others, for self-comfort, into their misery, sometimes with great alacrity and niceness, sometimes with violence and aggression, almost always, if young like this, in an effort to make sense of the hell they are living in because of circumstances imposed on them. He was one of the most popular kids in that entire region, in that entire part of the state. All that those who suffer need to know is that any misery, however hidden by popularity it may be, can be understood and thus sorted out by letting Christ into one’s life. He’s always with us. Always. We need but look up. And speak to Him.

The stats are now – what? – one in thirteen kids attempting suicide in the United States? Yep (at the writing of this, some years ago). That’s skyrocketed proportionate to the sexualization of kids from pre-school onward, right? Also that. Anyway…

The following Spring there was a man in perhaps his early forties who had been stalking me for some months. You have to understand that this was all perfectly legal back in the day. No longer, thank God. Now that we had moved out into the country, with rolling hills and forests and dirt roads and really long stretches between houses, this kind of thing could easily happen. If I would be walking in the forest, anywhere, there he would be. If I would be walking along the road, there he would be. He had attacked a neighbor boy (a few miles away through the woods) a couple of years earlier, dragging him off his horse right on to the front lawn of the boy’s own house. The police were called but nothing really came of it.

truck redI was wary. He was a real predator. For the umpteenth time, he was now trailing me along a dirt road cutting through the forest. He was driving an unbelievably filthy red pickup truck only as fast as I would walk. If I stopped, he stopped. If I ran, he sped up. I hoped he didn’t have a gun. I was really getting sick of these shenanigans. I had already fired warning shots for his benefit many times in the past when I just happened to have a rifle with me. I had already evaded him many times by running into the woods, almost literally flying around trees, down ravines, across swamps and creeks. But every time I did this I would be covered with a severe rash of poison ivy, which was pretty much everywhere in central Minnesota. That might not sound so bad, but I really suffered from it, with whole patches of skin falling off, oozing with clear yellow liquid. And besides, running on the wings of the wind with my somewhat crippled legs didn’t help my mobility for quite a while after any such escape. It really destroyed me. So this running was just no longer an option for me. I had to end this, right here, right now. But I did not have a gun with me.

I figured I could just beat him unconscious with my bare fists if I had to, leaving him to be found by the police. For all of my being a bit cripplely in the legs, I was in excellent physical condition and extremely agile = able to get out of any situation. I never learn. As in years gone by with the Cadillac Limousine stalker, I turned and walked straight to the truck. Stupidly, I figured I was getting good at this kind of thing. The first thing I did was taunt him to run me over. I knew I could easily jump out of the way. Things could then turn ugly, but I was again filled to overflowing with adrenaline. I really was very sarcastic.

When he offered me a ride – as I had suspected – I jumped in and he immediately started driving just a bit faster than I could run, making jumping out quite dangerous. His driving slowly was a thousand times more annoying than my being followed. What a horrifically filthy vehicle. I tried in any number of ways to interrogate him as to why he was always following me, but he never said a word. But then I gave him what was perhaps the lecture and reprimand of his life. But then my mind was racing as to what to do when we came up to where my house was another mile down the road. Would he stop? Would I jump, regardless of consequences? To my surprise, and dismay, he turned up the long drive. This could get nasty, thought I. We had guns at home. I knew how to use them.

As soon as we arrived I got out, but so did he. I continued lecturing him, and told him to leave. He didn’t answer. He refused to go. I went into our garage. But he wasn’t going anywhere, not for five minutes, not for ten. What was he plotting? I had a family to protect. I should have called the police, but we lived way, way out in the middle of nowhere. And stalking was not illegal. And I had accepted a ride. Right? I’m so stupid.

rifleSo, instead, I got our trusty Remington .22 and brought it outside, filling the rifle with plenty of bullets in plain view, inviting him to leave and never come back. He wouldn’t go. Just as I was raising the rifle to shoot the gas tank of his pickup truck for as many times as it took to make it explode, my mom called me in. Rats! Ever obedient, I went in. Her presence, after all, put him off. Just when I was starting to have a bit of fun. After that, I never saw him again. That was smart on his part.

pickup burningYet, I still regret not having pulled the trigger a few times. Sometimes people need to be woken up. And it would have been cool to watch a vehicle blow up. Now, having said all that, I actually didn’t want to hurt him if I could help it. I had met enough hurting people in my life to know that he might well have suicide on his mind. Indeed, I think that this was his bid to commit suicide, you know, like someone who aims a plastic water pistol, though realistic looking, at police officers, threatening them, charging them, aiming at them with obvious intent to kill, only to get shot to death, just like they wanted.

I told my father about all this, and his response surprised me somewhat, but what he said was good advice. The sum total of his remarks was this: “Pray for him.” He said this with a bit of sternness. It was not a suggestion, but a command. My father, you have to understand, knew something of the power of prayer. O.K., so… Our Father, who art in heaven…

I think that if victims of sexual abuse would pray for their abusers, there would be a great deal of healing going on, at least for the victims, whose act of charity would bring them the blessing of no longer being controlled by any emotional scarring that whatever abuser may have left behind. Just a thought.

I suppose I could recount another hundred stories just like these, but all so very different. I’m sure our Lord had something in mind for each and every one of these experiences, both for my good and the good of others, both at that time and forever after that. I can’t help but thank my guardian angel for giving me the wherewithal to know what to do in such situations. I was escaping one drama after the next and at the same time learning so much about the fallen human condition and how the Lord, nevertheless, wants us for Himself. My guardian angel was guarding a sense of the greatness possible to the human soul within my own soul. There is hope. God loves us. I know He loved me. He loved everyone. I wanted to see His love in others. I wanted to see the greatness possible to the human soul in this way in everyone I met. That didn’t mean I couldn’t bust someone in the chops if that’s what he needed to bring him to his senses. And sometimes one does need to pull the trigger and watch a truck explode.

Later, as a priest, I was to see the Lord’s love in others from up close, seeing the greatness possible to the human soul, especially when I would impart the absolution during their confessions. The Lord is so good to people in confession, bringing them back to Himself. What great dignity people have in their friendship with the Lord. I can’t think of anything more noble than someone making their confession, even of the very worst of sins. “Look at how they are being carried along by the Lord’s grace!” is the exclamation any priest makes. The Lord’s work in the Sacraments brings light into the darkness. I thank God that I’ve witnessed His work among those He brings to Himself. He is so good, so kind.

Just to say, it was my father, who, as a kind of last will and testament, insisted with me so very many times during the last years of his life, saying, “Goodness and kindness, George, goodness and kindness!” I like that. That’s why I repeat it all the time. It’s not worthwhile living any other way, no matter what happens. The only way is the goodness and kindness of Jesus. And yet, as we know with our Lord’s exclamation… Jerusalem! Jerusalem!

That should be enough about my own experiences for those whom I’ve particularly had in mind while putting these articles up. They need to stop what they are up to, and stop it now. I’m especially speaking to those who pull the strings and those who so easily manipulate them. They know who they are. And others might just find out. ;¬)

Meanwhile, I’ll continue with the series in this way and that. A question came in about angels in these posts. I’ll tackle that forthwith. The answer should be enough to make those for whom I’ve been publishing these articles shake in fear. And if they don’t, they are fools.

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Filed under Abuse, Confession, Father Byers Autobiography, Mercy

(2) Father Byers recalls being almost murdered and “gay” raped at 7 years of age, then stopping attacker’s suicide with angels

just me 06

About 7-1/2 years old. I’m on the right, holding two snakes. This is on Burnt Island, on the Canada/USA (Minnesota) border, in the Lake of the Woods. Those fish tasted mighty good around the fire on those cold Summer days, better than snakes, which, fried up, taste just like chicken!

The purpose of this second installment of bits and pieces from my autobiography (1) is to demonstrate how it is that just because bad things happen to people, it doesn’t mean that they have to be controlled by those bad things, and doesn’t mean that they are “damaged goods” (as they horrifically say in Queen’s English), necessarily turning into what they have experienced; and (2) it is to show any doubters, any atheists, any string pullers and manipulators, anyone involved in social engineering because they themselves are in despair because they in fact did become “damaged goods” as it were, that God is in charge, and will lead the way to heaven for those willing to go to heaven, so that they can leave the “damaged goods” bit behind. As with the other posts in this short series, this is all aimed especially at some people who should know better, for their conversion, as was mentioned in Flores for the Immaculate Conception (utterly inappropriate edition). So, let’s move on to some preliminary comments, and then jump right into the attempted murder and rape, and then the revelation from the angels. Like my vocation, these things have nothing whatsoever to do with me.

Just to say: however knocked about I have been in my life, however stupid I have been, I have never lost sight of the greatness to which each individual of whatever age or circumstance is called. Each child bears within himself, within herself, an entire universe of wonder and greatness, and more, so much more, needing to be filled to bursting with the indwelling of the Most Holy Trinity, being able to rejoice in all humble thanksgiving in the enthusiastic friendship of Jesus with them.

Just to insist: children are bearers of the weight of the glory of God, called to love with God’s love, with that love I first knew consciously at 28 months old when I received my vocation to the priesthood (see the previous post in this series: (1) Father Byers’ vocation: 28 months old). It is this love – greater than all the heavens and earth, a sovereign, personal love – which gave me hope, which gives me hope, for myself, for others. God is so good and so kind, however much people can otherwise be just so very evil. It is such a crime to shatter innocence…

I say that about my friend, whose innocence had been ever so violently shattered, perhaps by his own brothers, his own father. The Lord does permit real evil to happen to us, though only so as to draw an incomparably much greater good out of the evil, all for our benefit and that of others. But I find it amazing that my innocence had not been shattered then, even as this friend later tried to murder and rape me. This wasn’t a coping mechanism which the angels brought to me. It was, instead, simply an active recognition of their presence. Love cuts through the mind-games of evil.

So, here we are, in media res of a friendship of a couple of years. In that time I came to know very quickly that there was something tangibly scary about his brothers and father. I had never even met them, nor his mother, no one from his family, besides him, ever. But I was warned again and again only to come there when they weren’t around. This friend of mine was always on the lookout for their arrival, and would grab me frantically, telling me to run with any noise he heard, his eyes filled with fear, his very self shaking with fear. I was scared, but I didn’t want to abandon him. Friends don’t abandon friends, do they? This was all so foreign to me, but I stuck with him.

We were the same age, though I don’t ever remember seeing him at any school. I asked him about that once but he just mumbled something incoherent and I thought I had better leave it alone. At any rate, whenever we would go on an expedition to look for innocent trouble, so to speak, climbing the steep banks of the Mississippi or investigating construction zones or rummaging through airport hangers, he would erratically run away. Perhaps he was afraid of being punished for making trouble. Perhaps he was afraid of real friendship.

bike stingray schwinn

He once stole my little Schwinn Sting-Ray – perhaps to run away from home – but then he returned it two weeks later, letting it drop on the driveway in a heap in front of me, under his feet, almost as a kind of challenge, looking at me defiantly. He insisted with a strained, high-pitched and loud voice that he wanted to go to our basement. “Basement…” thought I to myself. I hesitated, noting a sort of madness in his eyes, a madness I didn’t give much heed, however, since I wanted him to see I was looking indignantly at the condition of the bicycle. He ignored this, as if nothing material in this world had any relevance to anything. He was incredulous that I would waste time on the bicycle. Odd for a 7-year old, thought I, 7-year old that I was. He was hardly able to contain himself, glaring right into my soul, almost shrieking that we had to go to the basement… now! This scared me. I was hesitant.

toy chestBut, O.K., I told him to follow me, never having had experience with such behavior. He had never been inside my house, much less the basement. It was our custom to make trouble outside, after all. I must say that I didn’t trust him in the least at that moment. My adrenaline levels were maxing out as I led him down the steps, trying to think of how I would flip him if he should jump me, trying to knock me down the rest of the way. I pointed to the small chest of toys that I myself hadn’t looked at for a number of years, to make fun of it, but he didn’t even look in that direction. He was scanning the room for something else.

pianoI opened the cover to the keyboard of the small upright piano we had, explaining that some of the keys didn’t work. He slammed the cover back down shaking his head in disbelief at my lack of comprehension. He was mumbling something, but I couldn’t understand. He was wild-eyed. As he scanned the room again, I had a sinking feeling that something very bad, very evil was about to take place that very instant. I tried to ignore this, stupidly, opening the cover to the piano once again to see if there was any damage. That’s when I saw, out of the corner of my eye, that he was reaching out to the light-switch (what he had been looking for) with one hand, even while taking a switchblade out of his pocket with the other, flipping it open, lunging for me at the same time, wildly swiping with the blade this way and that.

windowThank God there was a tiny window high up in the adjoining laundry room, which let in just enough light to enable me to evade his slashing. What kind of life did he live that I didn’t know about that he was already so handy with a switchblade? thought I. Although I would often fight with my older brother (though only once sending him away in tears), this was something altogether different. If I ran, I would get stabbed in the back. That was certain. Going into battle was the only way. But I didn’t know how to jump into this fray without getting killed.

switchbladeAs he lifted the knife to his shoulder so as to plunge the blade into my chest, with both hands I somehow grabbed his knife hand, and immediately commenced smashing the back of his hand which still clenched the knife against the metal corner of the chest freezer we had next to the piano. This went on for some minutes and I was using up all my strength. He would switch from hitting me with his free hand to using both hands on his knife so as to try to stab me. He had an iron grip on the knife, the point of which, incredibly, he turned in on my forearms even as I continued to smash his knife hand against the corner of the freezer. I thought I was a dead man, that I was going to die right then and there in a pool of blood, and was asking God and the angels for help. Had I let up for one second, even he wouldn’t have been able to stop the knife going through my heart and out the back of my chest so great was the strain. I couldn’t believe I was holding my own, but I was dismayed that he didn’t seem to be tiring at all. Although I had to keep on fighting, this was secondary compared to — how to say it? — an evident awareness of the encouragement of my guardian angel. And I was encouraged that I would not die, that my angel was making sure of at least that.

freezerAt one moment, when he was punching me with his free hand, with me seeing stars, he dropped the knife on top of the freezer with the other. I must have fractured quite a few of the bones of his hand on the corner of the freezer by this time. I managed to push the knife behind the freezer, but that made him go into an absolute frenzy of hitting and punching, at least with his one good hand.

This wasn’t about wanting a sparring partner. I did that with my next-door neighbor to learn techniques. I’ll say it plainly: in the midst of this, he tried to rip my jeans off. At first, I thought he was after the few coins any seven-year old might have in his pockets. But then I was utterly stunned. This fight was not in the least about fighting, though I think he would have repeatedly stabbed me, right to death, if he had had the chance. This was, instead, about something that, at that time, I could not understand.

I was completely flummoxed. I listened, but I could not believe my ears. He was begging me again and again – with such a hellishly despairing desperation in his voice – begging me, half mumbling, half shouting, half shrieking, half crying out for help, begging me to hit him even as he continued to flail away with incredibly powerful punches. I mean, I thought I was holding my own pretty well, though I was stunned into hesitation not because of the violence, but because of this beastly spirit inside of this, this… 7-year old. What in the world had happened to him? Who was this? Despite all my naïveté, I understood that this was about the trauma that was happening to him at home, that he was somehow having me role-play himself while he played the part of, I don’t know, his brothers and/or father. This was crystal clear to me, at 7 years old. He was a predator in the making, right then, right there, at 7 years old.

And yet, he realized this as well, and hated it. He was fighting for his own life, flailing away in trying to get my attention as he was doing so. He was trying to let me know that this was his last-ditch effort to be understood. He was at the end of his life right then, right there. He knew it. He was screaming for help. Screaming. For help. He could not go on anymore, not like this.

In all of this – however filled with adrenaline I was, however stressed all my muscles, however turbulent my emotions, however many stars I saw under the continuous rain of blows – I continued to be immediately aware that my guardian angel was going to get me through this, that I wouldn’t die right then and there, that I needed only to persevere in the fight. The Lord let the horror take its course even while preparing to draw such good out of such evil.

Since the knife was now out of reach, I tried to back off and run up the stairs, which took another few minutes, during which escape, he tried to rape me – a 7-year old trying ever so violently to rape another 7-year old mind you – though he had never succeeded in pulling my jeans off nor did he ever lower his own trousers. This wasn’t about sex. Of course not. It was about him trying to figure out what happened to him at his own house. This was about his having been violently raped for the umpteen zillionth time surely just minutes before coming over to my house. Though a  predator in the making in this way, it seems to me that he was wanting to know if goodness and kindness was possible in this life, if mercy was possible, if hope was real, testing someone he trusted to know the answer, showing his worst to see what would happen. We’ve all done that, by the way, crucifying Jesus with original sin, with our own sin. Should you doubt that hope is what he was really looking for in all this mayhem, just keep reading. Meanwhile, I escaped.

I waited at the top of the stairs for him, utterly exhausted, not a little upset at such an experience, regardless of any feeling of security I had coming from my guardian angel. I was in pain with so many punches to my head. Some minutes went by. I was afraid for him. I was angry for him. What happened to him at home? But, all the same, he was the way he was, and I didn’t want to let him find his knife, but there was no way I was going down the steps again. My only objective now was to coax him outside of the house. I was on edge in anticipation of his coming up from the basement, but this time I had no fear. I had survived and knew I could do it again. He, of course, was trying to face what he had just done, terribly bewildered I’m sure. And I knew that. Eventually, he emerged from the darkness, asking, incredibly, to take the bike again as I ushered him to the outside.

His question about taking the bicycle angered me for some seconds and I let him know about it, asking him if he remembered what he had just done. But then, as we got outside… it happened… a terrifying-in-a-good-way rush of understanding, an enlivening dread terror before the magnificent, awesome, crushing weight of the glory of its truth, ripping me up into heaven even while shoving my face into the reality of man’s horrific situation before God all the more violently, a new kind of extreme sport for me. It was not a brightness. Yet, it was. The only way I can describe this glory is by praising the agility this truth had in letting itself be carried in all charity right into the midst of the hell I now saw. The living truth is powerful. It cannot be lessened, cannot be weakened. My guardian angel, it seems, was enlightening me about how he saw things.

The turmoil of the past few minutes was nothing compared to what I now beheld in front of me. Looking at this friend of mine, into his eyes… oh my… I can see them now, absolutely wide open, and him, sitting on the bike… disheveled, bleeding a bit, holding on to the handlebars of the bike with but one hand, holding the other hand, badly injured, in front of his chest that was heaving with hoarse, deep breathing, silent tears screaming with emotion streaming down his face, his whole body shaking quite violently, he being scared out of his mind at the hell he was facing in his life and the inadequacy of his own reaction to that hell, literally cringing away from himself as he sat there. He was suffering all of hell’s minions attacking whatever hope he had left. I hadn’t noticed his face so very much when he had arrived, being more interested, as I said, in the condition of my bike, which now I could not care less about, the same attitude he had when he had first arrived. Looking at him now just as intently as he was looking at me, I realized that I was afraid for his life as much as he was.

truck

His words about riding the bike, with his one remaining good hand, into the front of a speeding eighteen wheel truck just one street over as soon as he left me added nothing to what I could already see of his spirit. He was utterly shaken – a mere shell of a little boy – at a loss now as to how to keep any shred of conscience he still might possess, at a loss of how not to take his own life. And he was looking pleadingly into my eyes.

My sudden understanding in such horrific circumstances did not come from a been there, done that, condescending projection of self as is always hailed by psychologies of the lowest-common-denominator of self-referential stupidity. Instead, I understood because, then and there, I was drawn to put all this before the love of God that I had already known for years. God always uses our experiences – and I also had suffered some bad things – but what God uses is not anything that we suffer, but the hope we have gained in being brought into His love and mercy, perhaps also in conditions of suffering. He has us put others before that love and mercy, before that hope, not before our own ineptitude. This friend of mine knew all of my idiocy, and could not have cared less about that. He saw something else in me that he was trying to get to understand. The living hope which guides us is not distant, not cold, not ideological, not a mind game, not a coping mechanism, but is ever so personal, so… true, so… alive... It is a friendship with God that cannot but be manifested at such times despite ourselves. God wins out. Every time. If we are at all with Him.

We ended up in a long, but halting discussion, full of awkward silences, about family life and encouragement. The silences seemed so graceless precisely because they were filled with grace, leading, as they did, to honest, if only half completed remarks, which were cut off by his heart almost visibly being jammed hard into his throat with such a roller coaster of emotions.

It was one of the single most painful conversations I have had in my life, truly excruciating, because every word of understanding and advice that I was offering was coming to me for the first time, second by second, and not from me. I was very conscious of my inadequacy on the one hand, but had a very strong realization that my guardian angel was helping me on the other hand. The urgency of my listening to my guardian angel was wearing me out, even as my emotions and my brain were working way, way overtime. There was a life and death urgency and, of course, I myself had come literally within inches of having been stabbed to death, and raped. And I was physically exhausted.

But God is good. He made the conversation a success. My friend (and I still thought of him that way) didn’t want it to stop. He was changed by the time he left. Much calmer. Overwhelmed. He got what he was looking for. Hope. The problem was that he was headed straight back into hell. But he had a temporary reprieve. I only wish we had had the discussion firstly, skipping all the rest, but that’s rarely how things work. It is what it is.

Friends are not so easily offended when they can distinguish between being dissed as opposed to someone crying out for help, for life itself. We stayed friends, of sorts, in that seventh year of my life. And, as far as I know, he didn’t ride himself into a speeding truck, not that day.

There was nothing at all heroic on my part about any of this.If the Lord wanted to use me, that was up to Him. I had no say in the matter. And this gives one a certain freedom. I imagine that this is what makes martyrdom possible. It has nothing at all to do with our strength; everything is from the Lord, while the angels rejoice as they witness love that is stronger than death, a good introduction to heaven. This love is made clear with the forgiveness that the martyr holds out for the taking. It’s all about humble thanksgiving. Any of us could be in anyone else’s circumstances. There, but for circumstances and the grace of God go any of us. Anyone holding himself out to be better than others lies to God, to others and to himself, and is a danger to himself and others, giving himself a licence to kill or whatever else that is not new under the sun. I saw how much the Lord loves each of us.

My friend had gone back home, and, I’m sure, was subjected to more hell. Not good. And then it seemed like he disappeared from the face of the earth. I had asked some friends about him now and again, but they only repeated with much darkness and much fear that something unspeakable had happened in his house. None of them would ever say what it was. I don’t know to this day. Just the question would make them wide-eyed, frightened. Poor kid. I have to wonder if he had killed one or more members of his family. I had been thinking that if he wasn’t killed by his own family, or if he didn’t kill himself, he might have been snuffed out in a porno film. I don’t know, but as I myself was to find out, there was much of that going on in town, indeed, in that end of town, my end of town. But that’s for another article to follow in this series where you can read about how I myself became a kiddie-porno star at 12-13 years of age.

Think of this series of articles like moves in some sort of surreal chess game, but this isn’t a game, and it’s not surreal, though it may seem so at first to those who are playing opposite. They have lost the plot; they have destroyed souls; they; think that they themselves are irredeemably lost because of that, and so wreck havoc the way they always have, continuing to jack up the stakes to make it all the more interesting for themselves, holding the Church to ransom. They won’t stop at anything in what has developed into a lust for power, merely a game of pulling strings and watching the pieces move, but allowing themselves to be manipulated ever so very easily. They need to know that their victims might still have hope just as my friend was provided with hope seemingly impossibly in the midst of his living hell. They need to know that God, the Lord of History, gets His way, and that they can have hope in repentance before the Immaculate Conception’s Divine Son will indeed come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Amen.

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Video Stations of the Cross on Mount Carmel by Father Byers

I made this set of videos (about 20 minutes all told) during my time living just over the cave of Elijah on Mount Carmel, Israel. The O.C.D.s had invited me to stay there for an entire month during the years that I was a chaplain at Lourdes. I must say that these videos are very emotional for me to watch to this day. What a fright! But… Jesus, Mary’s Son, is just that good and kind! Even though in watching these you don’t move from station to station yourself, I’m sure your heart will be transported to be right next to Jesus, to be with Him in solidarity, and to be right next to His dear mother as she accompanies our Lord, again in all solidarity.

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Confession without Confession? Sure!

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Some reactionaries are outraged by Pope Francis saying that absolution can be given to someone who can’t confess his sins. They quote Saint John Paul II in his Reconciliatio et paenitentia, to wit:

Whether as a tribunal of mercy or a place of spiritual healing, under both aspects the sacrament requires a knowledge of the sinner’s heart in order to be able to judge and absolve, to cure and heal. Precisely for this reason the sacrament involves on the part of the penitent a sincere and complete confession of sins. This therefore has a raison d’etre not only inspired by ascetical purposes (as an exercise of humility and mortification), but one that is inherent in the very nature of the sacrament.

Strong words to be sure. I’ve done otherwise 1000 times in my decades long priestly ministry. General absolution given to, say, a group of soldiers heading off to extreme danger, without hearing any of their sins, though reminding them that they must have the intention to go to individual confession, is both possible and recommended. I’ve never had occasion to do that, but I just wanted to insert that into the argument at the get-go. But I do want to say that I’ve granted absolution a 1000 times on, I think, pretty much every continent in the world, and in so many countries, to those who did not make, could not make a confession of sins in any way, that is, of those who were dying, who had suffered whatever form of violence, whatever.

If I’m shot and can’t speak, I hope that there’s a priest around to absolve me regardless of the idiocy of the traditional-ism-ists. Saint John Paul II was not one of those, and I’m sure that he’s done what I’ve done, as every priest I’m guessing pretty much without exception has done or will do in his lifetime of ministry, that is, grant an absolution expeditiously to those who are dying and cannot confess their sins in kind and number and aggravating circumstances with the due care by which this sacrament is honored. This sacrament is also honored when absolution is to be given regardless of oracular confession of sins.

Anecdote from Africa told to me, as I wasn’t there: A group of missionaries were detained by some warlords who had them standing in a big circle so as to interrogate them. They got tired of asking questions and said that they were just going to shoot them all. They were all Catholic and had a priest with them. One of the young men cried out, scared out of his mind, “Father, give the absolution! Give the absolution!” But the priest was so scared the words wouldn’t come out of his mouth. That intense fear seems to have melted the hearts of the warlords enough, or it was so humorous to them, that they just let them all go. The point is, however, that the priest could have given the general absolution.

Having said all that, I can imagine other examples perhaps more to the point, but what’s the use of speaking to those who are not priests, have never heard a confession in their lives, nor will they, but who only want to criticize and make sure that no one goes to confession by mocking pretty much all priests in the world as not being true priests since they were not ordained by this or that bishop of their liking? Just to say, I’ve been publicly mocked by this crowd, with them saying, in fact, that I’m not a real priest. Despite them: Go to Confession!

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Filed under Confession, Mercy, Missionaries of Mercy, Pope Francis, Year of Mercy

Hearing Confessions in the strangest of places: Blizzard’s edge at the impassable chasm

blizzard

Mountains are strange that way. One or two flakes in front of you. An impassable white-out blizzard another 5000 feet away, on the other side of the impassable chasm. I’m exaggerating, but I’m trying to make an analogy, you know, like when hell freezes over, that kind of thing. I love the snow, being from Minnesota and all, but the analogy I’m thinking about involves our Blessed Mother showing the Fatima kids a vision of hell, with souls falling into hell like snowflakes in a blizzard. Snowflakes are so very delicate, beautiful, seeming immaculate in their wispy crystalline designs, but destined, in this analogy, to drop inextricably into an ever more violent eternal vortex of hateful violence and despair. But, just think, before dropping in, if only they had a chance to go to Confession, and then they wouldn’t drop down at all. Having said that: here’s a wild article on mercy and confession that was just published in the Catholic News Herald for the Diocese of Charlotte:

Father George David Byers: A Missionary of Mercy hears confessions in the strangest of places (Catholic News Herald – March 2016) 

This Missionary of Mercy confesses to you that I haven’t always followed to the letter the canon law of the Church, namely Canon 964, which states that “the proper place for hearing sacramental confessions is a church or oratory” and that “except for a just reason, confessions are not to be heard elsewhere than in a confessional.” I have been very broad in my interpretation of a “just reason.”

Scaling particularly deadly mountain walls with friends, or other similarly intense moments, has never been an occasion for me to hear a confession. However, as any priest, I do recall terrible traffic accidents when absolutions were provided. We’ve all heard confessions in hospitals and rehabilitation centers, as well as in nursing homes and assisted living centers. But those are to be taken for granted.

Some venues for confessions might be considered strange by those who just can’t imagine themselves confessing in such circumstances, but others are less inhibited. I’ve frequently heard confessions in the midst of rushing crowds in airport concourses or train stations, outside supermarkets or on street corners. Cars and trucks and parking lots are most favored, but so are walking confessions, which make their way along city sidewalks or country roads.

A house, a barn, a dog kennel, a chicken coop … any place will do. Mercy is available everywhere.

The fact of someone wanting to go to confession is a “just cause” for not using a confessional, even when a confessional is right at hand. Sometimes the sacristy is better for any number of reasons. In some places, women’s confessions were traditionally heard in “the box,” while men’s confessions were heard in the sacristy.

Having said this, though, there are limits. Proximity is necessary for the sacrament. No video conferencing. No phones. No radio talk shows. No email or texting or Facebook or Twitter. Not even Snapchat. No sacrilege.

Permit me, though, to bring you to a place to offer your confession so strange that you may not have considered it – not realizing that you have been confessing in this most unheard of place since your very first confession. You’ll need your imagination for this, but only because it’s so real that it’s hard to wrap one’s mind around.

Imagine that when you go into the confessional, to your shock you see that there is someone already kneeling down just starting to confess. It’s Jesus! You kneel beside Him sheepishly, and see your own priest on the other side of the screen. Jesus then starts to confess all your sins as if they were His own. He’s brief and to the point, includes aggravating circumstances and numbers of times for any serious sins. He just enumerates the sins without ambiguity, without excuse. He then concludes: “I accuse myself of all these sins, Father, and I beg absolution and penance.” Your priest then gives you your penance and absolves you, and you go away filled with wonder at the great love of Jesus who, in order to provide the grace of that absolution, stood in our place, taking on the death we deserve because of our sin.

When we confess, we do so alongside Jesus, who steps in for us. But because He does that on a spiritual level, we must be loyal to Him by ignoring any fear, any humiliation we might feel. Instead of looking to ourselves, we look to see His goodness and kindness. That’s a strange place to confess from, alongside Jesus, is it not? And yet, it is all very familiar, for no matter how strange the place is in which we might confess, we are always right next to Jesus, who loves us so very much.

Father George David Byers is administrator of Holy Redeemer Church in Andrews and one of two “Missionaries of Mercy” commissioned by Pope Francis in the Diocese of Charlotte.

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Solving Kryptos – Part 4 – Coriolis effect – Crux stat dum volvitur orbis

Update: Some guy teaching cryptology, I suppose, at both Amirkabir University of Technology and Islamic Azad University Shoustar Branch, seems to be making some strides in figuring out Part IV, taking hints from this very article. That’s Kryptic evangelization, an apocalypse. ;¬)

Original article:

Kryptos 1

Hey, I mean, two pieces of petrified wood looking ever so much like a cross, with the rock looking as if it had been quarried from Calvary and the Holy Sepulcher. If the severed palimpsest palimpsest codex folios were closed, they would all come together, right? Continue reading

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This was my view for a while…

WNC Great Smoky Mountains

I took this picture after Communion calls the other day. I love bringing Jesus round about to the sheep of His tiny flock. I shall miss my parish. I love everyone here and there are many who don’t want me to depart. Hey, it’s only for a couple of weeks to meet up with Pope Francis, right? Well, who knows. What if His Holiness asks: “Et tu?” And I respond: “Adsum!” And he asks: “Irkutsk?” And I say: “Vado!” I mean, after all, I’m used to the cold; the North Woods of Minnesota and southern Irkutsk have more or less the same climate. Time to start packing. For Rome that is. And then?

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VIRTUS® and Porn: No concern? Today…

VIRTUS

When I was teaching up in the Josephinum, I sat through the VIRTUS® course that was obviously tailored to seminarians and priests. I objected to the statement that on a list of questionable and evil behaviors there had to be at least two which presented with an individual before it would be considered enough of a concern to do some reporting. I objected because one of the items listed was showing porn to minors. That, said I, was more than enough on its own to do some reporting. It would be more than enough for me to knock the idiot unconscious, regardless of any laxity in civil law, regardless of any laxity in local diocesan chancery personnel policy. However, for VIRTUS®, it’s Continue reading

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There comes a time when we realize Jesus won’t let go

consecration-“Children, let no one deceive you. The person who acts in righteousness is righteous, just as he is righteous. Whoever sins belongs to the devil, because the devil has sinned from the beginning. Indeed, the Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is begotten by God commits sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot sin because he is begotten by God.

Jesus Passion of the Christ hand nail“In this way, the children of God and the children of the devil are made plain; no one who fails to act in righteousness belongs to God, nor anyone who does not love his brother. For this is the message you have heard from the beginning: we should love one another” (1 John 3:7-11 nab).

It seems to me that when the floodgates of mercy burst forth, and we are carried along in humble thanksgiving (an experience I should think is common to all upon the reception of absolution), we are steadied, made steadfast in a seemingly irresistible grip of Jesus made all the stronger by the blood. He doesn’t let go. Then He grabs your heart. And then we cry out: “Domine, non sum dignus!” (Oh Lord, I am not worthy!) And that’s the point. He is our Savior, saving us while we are yet in sin. And then we remain before Him in humble thanksgiving. Pray for vocations. Hail Mary…

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Impossible world? Justice and Mercy as One

chess board robert van der steeg impossible world

The Mercy Team = The Good Guys!
The Justice Team = The Bad Guys!

That’s how the know-nothings do things, an impossible world. They expect to achieve peace by pitting mercy and justice against each other. All that is obtained is frustration, for the upset of doubting God comes to the fore. Cynicism is the result of cutting mercy off from justice, for immediately after asking for “mercy, mercy, mercy,” we see what seems to be a total lack of mercy all around us. Instant cynicism. Left to fester, this turns into a bitterness on the war-path, that sees good in no thing, that is, in nothing, content to let mercy and justice cancel each other out so as seemingingly to have the right to scream out: “I told you so!” (with the “you” in that cry being their god who doesn’t exist, that is, their nihilistic selves). This is the darkest of all dark existential peripheries. Woe to those who fling multitudes of people precipitously into such a vortex of self-referential self-pity.

We want mercy and decry justice and are thus thrown into the most wild vortex of self-pity on the prowl for making always more victims of the division of mercy and justice. But you have to know, this is a personal choice. Jesus nor any Pope ever said that justice was something bad. This was only said by people who are bitter to the core. Think about it. It’s true, no? We should never be eager to follow the path to hell just because we are hurting. Instead of saving ourselves with our own idiocy, why not let the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception undo the knots into which we have bound ourselves?

Accept that in Jesus (as in God, for He is God), justice and mercy are one.

Look upon the cross. Jesus is there, founding the mercy He provides to us (“Father, forgive them”) on His own justice, taking our place in what we deserve in justice so that we might receive His mercy. This makes His mercy credible, majestic. “For the sake of His sorrowful passion (justice), have mercy on us and on the whole world (mercy).”

There comes a time when, finally, we realize that Jesus has won the battle, that He has a good grip on our souls, on our hearts, on our minds, not a steel grip of ideology, but a grip cemented by the blood of His wounds, a grip of friendship that won’t let go. And then, we walk in His presence. Or, better, it is then that He carries us as little children into the battle with the Evil One, Himself doing the fighting for us, but we with Him. The solidarity of justice and mercy as one. He’s the One.

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