Tag Archives: Priesthood

Fr Gordon J MacRae – Prayers please

GORDON MACRAE

Prayers for Father Gordon J MacRae, please. Urgent.

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Day off 4: FBI QIT-99 drills: Chaplain Qualification

FBI QIT 99 legal size paper

To become a police chaplain in North Carolina (at least in Charlotte) one has to go through the FBI course which includes being acquainted with firearms, including a variety of sidearms, assault and long rifles. That’s a whole different universe for me, so some months ago, on the same day:

  • I got a sidearm purchase permit from the sheriff’s office
  • purchased a Glock 19 gen 4 and a box of ammo
  • shot a few rounds for the first time in my life (from a pistol)
  • qualified 40/40 at a gun range first attempt
  • signed up for a concealed carry course

Soon thereafter:

  • I sat through that very useful concealed carry course
  • applied for a concealed carry permit
  • after many SBI / FBI background checks, got the concealed carry permit

Since then, I’ve been throwing out a few bullets so as to become more accurate more quickly in incrementally difficult circumstances, for my safety and the safety of others. Upon reflection, I think I’ve been having too much fun. I think I should get down to business and put myself through the FBI qualification course, that is, just for practice, on my own. Since the FBI targets are printed on larger paper than can fit in my printer, I’ve just magnified the most important detail of the target in 1 to 1 proportions, which will print out on legal paper (8 1/2 by 14). See the top of this post.

The FBI course requires 48 hits out of 60 for a pass = 80%. Meanwhile, using the same target, Kansas LEO qualification requires 35 hits out of 50 for a pass = 70%. Both courses are fairly demanding. Kansas has more variety. The FBI is perhaps more realistic.

KANSAS

  1. 3 yd line – Beginning on the 1 ½ yard line, shooter will draw and fire 3 rounds as they are stepping backward and moving laterally one step. Shooter will re-holster and repeat this procedure again on command. 2 strings of 3 (6 rounds total) 3 sec. per string.
  2. 5 yd line – Shooter will draw and fire 3 rounds from a two-hand, supported grip. Shooter will reholster and repeat this procedure on command. 2 strings of 3 (6 rounds total) 5 sec. per string
  3. 7 yd line – Shooter will fire 2 rounds from the threat ready position with weapon in strong hand, supported by the weak hand. The weapon is then transitioned to the weak hand and supported by the strong hand for the final two rounds. 1 string of 4 (4 rounds total) 10 seconds
  4. 7 yd line – Shooter will fire 3 rounds from threat ready, strong hand only, one-hand shooting grip. 1 string of 3 (3 rounds total) 4 seconds
  5. 7 yd line – Shooter will fire 3 rounds from threat ready while moving laterally one step, using the two-hand, supported grip. Re-holster and repeat on command. 2 strings of 3 each (6 rounds total) 4 seconds per string
  6. 10 yd line – Shooter will draw and fire 4 rounds using the two-hand, supported grip. Re-holster and repeat on command. 2 strings of 4 each (8 rounds total) 5 seconds per string
  7. 15 yd line – Shooter will draw and fire 4 rounds using a two-hand, supported grip. 1 string of 4 (4 rounds total) 6 seconds per string 
  8. 15 yd line – Shooter will draw and fire 3 rounds using a two-hand, supported grip. 1 string of 3 (3 rounds total) 5 seconds
  9. 25 yd line – Shooter will draw and fire 5 rounds from a two-hand, supported grip around a barricade in a standing position. 1 string of 5 (5 rounds total) 15 seconds
  10. 25 yd line – Shooter will draw and fire 5 rounds from a two-hand, supported grip around a barricade in a kneeling position. 1 string of 5 (5 rounds total) 15 seconds

FBI

From Three Yards (12 rounds fired):

  • 3 shots in 3 seconds, strong hand only
  • repeat above for 3 more rounds in 3 seconds
  • 3 rounds strong hand only, switch hands for 3 rounds weak hand only: 8 seconds

From Five Yards (12 rounds fired) [two hands for rest of course]

  • 3 rounds in 3 seconds
  • repeat 3 more times for a total of 12 rounds fired

From Seven Yards (16 rounds fired):

  • 4 rounds in 4 seconds
  • repeat above for 4 more rounds
  • 4 rounds, reload, then fire 4 more rounds all completed in 8 seconds

From 15 yards (10 rounds fired):

  • 3 rounds in 6 seconds
  • repeat above for 3 more rounds
  • 4 rounds in 8 seconds

From 25 Yards (10 rounds fired from cover)

  • Move up to the cover and fire 2 rounds standing and then 3 rounds kneeling, all under 15 seconds.
  • Repeat above

RESULTS:

  • 86% for Kansas (cold barrel) 
  • 88% for FBI (hot barrel)

Points off at 75 feet out. So I’ll need to practice that. I haven’t done that since Ricky was out from South Dakota. I totally missed when going down on a knee (no knees). No excuse! More practice needed. Anything less than 100% is no good. Mind you, I have no timer but I think I was well within the limits.

    JUST TO BE COMPLETE

    • Do the above courses at dusky-dark to simulate conditions 99% of the time.
    • Use two targets five feet apart. Any string moves from one to the other whether two, three or four rounds are required.
    • Add close quarters shooting (one hand) right up against one of the used targets used for the courses above.

    I didn’t get around to doing any of these things yet.

      JUST FOR FUN

      • Shoot in half a 1″x1″ by however long swinging stick at a marked line:

      I did do that again yesterday:

      That will take some time to own. All that is just for pistols. One has to be familiar with assault and long rifles, etc. More on that in future.

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      Filed under Guns, Priesthood, Vocations

      7 7 7 – Summorum Pontificum: the 10th anniversary in Lourdes. “Just wear dental guards, Father George!”

      LOURDES-GROTTO

      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.

      lourdes

      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.

      LOURDES-MICHAEL

      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:

      cardinal burke lourdes

      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:

      Mass Lourdes Pius X Basilica

      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:

      lourdes traditional mass chaplains

      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!

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      Filed under Father Byers Autobiography, Liturgy, Priesthood, Vocations

      This Catholic priest’s Glock 19 target practice: Rope swinging video

      Before heading off to lunch with some good friends on my “day off”, I stopped by the hermitage to set up a new target, a half-gallon cranberry juice bottle filled with water swinging from a branch from about 35 feet up. If you watch the 3 second video you’ll get the idea.

      I set the bottle in motion and stepped back some 33 feet. The very first shot from the Glock 19 was a direct hit, middle-middle. It was, in fact, a bit too easy, though I did miss some as I replaced magazines and replaced bottles, four of them. After lunch I came back for more. Maybe standing so far away is too easy because you have to move your arms less. The closer you are the quicker you have to move. I’ll have to remember that. Advice welcome.

      I’ll also have to come up with better things to swing. The juice bottles are made with hard plastic to avoid mold growth inside the bottle. Hard plastic means shattering and all the water gushes out straight away. I thought I’d have a bit more time with it, but:

      target swinging juice bottle

      So, perhaps a soft plastic Folger’s Breakfast Blend coffee bucket filled with dirt with the lid tied on. I’ll have to remember that.

      The point of all this is just a bit of play time while out at the hermitage. Recreation is important in anyone’s life. And, guaranteed, there’s no indoor or outdoor shooting range around this area that would permit such contraptions to be set up. If you do carry, it’s important to be well practiced, a good shot, which protects innocent people, and that’s what it’s all about. Getting trained up in situational awareness so as to get out of bad situations before they can occur, and getting trained up in deescalation to cool down incidents that are inescapable is all essential. These are just basic life skills that are always useful even if one does not carry.

      And, praying for the bishop and priests of the diocese is always a necessity just at this point exactly in the trail up to the hermitage. The Angelus. Don’t ask me why but I remember this very strongly every time I’m here, without fail. Always. Strong.

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      Jesus & triple-taps on a priest’s day off

      sunset-

      The magnificent sunset nearing home after a super happy day-off yesterday. About 95% of the day was spent with the sick and shut-ins in the twilight of their lives, many of them living in far-flung places, with Sassy the Subaru putting on hundreds of miles. I love a “day-off” like this, sooooooo happy to be a priest.

      There are plenty of people, however, who have a bitter reaction to priests getting a “day-off”. They may wish to read Mark 6:31-32:

      “[Jesus] said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.'” People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.”

      That’s called a “day-off”. Jesus recommends it. Having said that, we move on to the next verse (Mark 6:33), because text without context is pretext. So, let’s see what a “day-off” is actually like:

      “People saw them leaving and many came to know about it. They hastened there on foot from all the towns and arrived at the place before them.”

      Yep. That’s what happens. I love it. Jesus is so very good and kind. He directs all through his beloved flock, who say things like: “Did you hear that so and so is terribly sick today as well?” This is when the “breaking of the bread” means that the Eucharistic Host is broken to be smaller and smaller. They love that Jesus would come to them riding along with a donkey-priest. As Saint Augustine said: “Asinus es, sed Christum portas.” (You are a donkey, but you carry Christ.)

      But then I had a few minutes to spare at the hermitage, so, sorry, but, of course, I just had to relax a little as well. A donkey has to be a donkey once in a while. Triple taps drawing from the holster, trying to draw, point and shoot all three within three seconds. I don’t have a timer, so I assume I’m slow, perhaps 2 1/2 seconds. That’s an eternity in combat. Any suggestions for a timer? Here’s a magazine’s worth, which means five draws with three shots each:

      target 3 taps-

      And another magazine with five more draws of three each:

      target 3 taps

      Real shooters would just laugh at that, but, hey, you gotta start somewhere, right? And I’ll be the first to admit: this was fairly close range But for me it’s pretty good. It seems that the less aim is taken in favor of muscle-memory pointing, as it is said, the greater the accuracy and certainly the less anticipatory over-compensation for any muzzle-flip. Still, if there’s any risk of a bystander being hit, I’m thinking I would like to combine the point with the aim a little bit. Again, real shooters would just laugh at that, but, hey, you gotta start somewhere, right? The best shot in the world humbly says that his ultra-perfect aim is nothing special, as anyone would be as good as him if they also threw out a million rounds. Um… I haven’t done that…

      Anyway, I just have fun doing this. And it’s not like I wasn’t also answering the phone pretty much constantly. Three shots out, another call. Three shots out, another call. But it’s all good. Shepherds love to hear the bleating of the sheep. As it is, I also bleat quite a bit, and The Shepherd always hears my voice, and, at least sometimes, I hear His.

      Oh, and, by the way, don’t think that guns and shooting wasn’t part of the conversation with all the sick and shut-ins that I visited with Jesus. You have to know that Western North Carolina is armed to the teeth. People can move seamlessly from talk of armed combat to the arms of spiritual combat without blinking. I am humbled to walk frequently among the saints of God.

      By the way, I make my own targets with poster-board and 3/4 inch sticky dots, mapping out the dots at 4″ intervals so that there are 35 dots per poster-board. Once one board is mapped out, another can be marked on the edges using the same measurements. Easy. Only takes about two minutes for the whole thing. It’s a lot of shooting for one target. The problem is that the targets are not moving, and there is no mayhem. But I have a solution…

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      Ordinations: Good men so happy to be of service to the Holy Family

      triptych

      Dear Father Byers,

      Since there is much Byersian influence here, I wanted to send along a picture of a triptych commissioned for priesthood ordination next year on 9 June (the Immaculate Heart!). You are certainly invited!

      It came in much earlier than expected, but I am fine with that! I know you’ll understand all the symbolism but NB the Hearts so on fire with love, flowers for the Immaculate, and the flaming sword! I was going to ask for a donkey and a deer kneeling in adoration but I thought of that too late. Note also the particularly New Mexican style of artwork, done by the best NM santera in the state. E.g. In NM St. Joseph always has a hollyhock rather than a lily, since they are so abundant, though the symbolism remains.

      I pray you are well Father. May God bless you! In Christ, Deacon […]

      We follow the saints on either side of the triptych to the Sacred Mysteries taking place in the center. /// I like that: “Byersian.” ;¬)

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      When’s the last time you peed-in-your-pants-laughed, a great time in life?

      Some guy put a few clips together with Navy Seal guy David Rutherford giving a bit of instruction. I like it. I like it a lot. Draw the analogies with your own life, whatever your circumstances happen to be.

      For instance, he mentions being mentored and mentoring, a huge part of the daily life of any priest who takes his priesthood seriously with not only spiritual direction and confession, but also just guys of like mind getting together, which is important. This past week I had a lot of days like this entire speech, which I so much enjoyed I just about had a pee in my pants laugh with a bunch of great guys who likewise erupted into pretty intense spontaneous laughter as we, of course, went on solving all the problems in the Church and world. Not levity, this. No. Just really good times. I love being a priest. One of the guys is on a very fast track to getting the nod by the Combat Applications Group (Delta Force). Really great guys. We’ll be keeping in contact.

      Again, there’s much here that is applicable to everyone’s life, even if… even if… we are no longer in good health as the years have slipped by, even if circumstances in life have had our friends not only abandon us but betray us, even if God Himself seems distant and that we are being smacked down so that it seems our very bones are being crushed, as the psalmist says. This is what all the saints go through, and at such times it is our guardian angels who come to the fore, Jesus Himself, our Blessed Mother, heaven itself. Quite the team, that. And the fire of the Holy Spirit inflames.

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      Mass today for Bishop David Choby

      bishop david choby

      He died on Pentecost. May he rest in peace. I’ll offer Mass for him today.

      I first met Bishop Choby at lunch after a first vows Mass for the Nashville Dominicans. As priests and religious took their seats at lunch I noted that no one had sat at his table, so I did. Soon the preacher for the Mass came to sit with us. Interrogation is the only word I can come up with for the conversation that ensued between he and the other priest, pleasant as it was. After a full twenty minutes of grilling this priest, and it not at all being apparent whether or not Bishop Choby was pleased with what he heard, he then invited the priest to give a retreat to all of his diocesan priests. That made me quietly chuckle.

      But then the good bishop turned his attention to me, and then the whole interrogation thing repeated itself for another twenty minutes, with the subjects beings Scripture, the Fathers of the Church, Theology, Philosophy, the state of seminaries these days, and everything in minute detail about my life since I was a kid until that moment, it never being apparent whether he liked what he heard or not, this also leaving the other priest amazed. But then the Bishop, without asking me about it, simply announced that he was going to make a phone call the next day to my superior and to the new rector at the seminary he was sending his guys to, and that I should expect a call from all three of them the next morning, and that I should get ready in the next day or so to make the 700 mile round trip up to the seminary. So, O.K. That was my fate sealed for the foreseeable future. That’s a bishop. He will be missed.

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      Follow-up on Father Gordon J MacRae’s health: great news.

      GORDON MACRAE

      Last week the post Fr MacRae’s request of Padre Pio: help! was published here and on Father Gordon J MacRae’s Facebook Page. That got 915 shares as of this writing, with quite a good number those people being pray-ers. This was a request for Padre Pio’s help. There is news. This morning during our usual hour-long telephone conversation, I asked Father Gordon if there was any news on the health front. Here are some notes of what he said:

      • My neck is substantially better.
      • I can use my right shoulder.
      • The pain is gone entirely. I can move my head more than I have been able to in the last number of years.
      • And the lump has receded enormously.
      • And we have not yet been moved.
      • Padre Pio came through. I thanked him last night for coming through.
      • Thank everyone for all the prayers. Their prayers are very efficacious.

      So, there you have it. Now, I have another few requests:

      • Thank Padre Pio for coming through.
      • Continue to ask Padre Pio about the resolution of Father Gordon’s situation.
      • And please, please, say a wee prayer for each other, as I’m afraid that quite a number of you did up some extraordinary prayers and sacrifices for Father Gordon and need a bit of support from each other as well. Hail Mary…

      Thank you all for showing Jesus’ goodness and kindness to Father Gordon.

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      Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Father Kenneth Walker edition)

      father walker fssp

      • Note the smile of joy and peace on face of Father Walker, and that of our Lady.
      • Note the Rosary in the hand of our Lady. I’m guessing he put that there.
      • Note the red rose of martyrs in the hand of our Lady. I’m guessing he put that there.

      After writing this post the other day – (USCCA exam results: Master Defender. BUT that’s never good enough) – a reader sent me a link to the very detailed obituary of Father Kenneth Walker, and offered to provide the USCCA package for close-quarters defense training that may have been a help to Father Walker in his effort to save his fellow priest. You’ll remember that Father Walker lost his life in doing just that. Of course, when it’s our time to go there’s no arguing about it with the Lord. Of course, that doesn’t mean that prudence is no longer a cardinal virtue. Just because you train doesn’t mean that you’ll be successful. But that doesn’t mean you don’t train.

      murderer of Father Kenneth Walker

      • Note the smirk on the murderer of Father Walker. The perp was only just sentenced to life in prison a few weeks ago (April 2017).

      Some things I note from the obit of Father Walker:

      • Lots of significant dates happen on the 13th of the month, Fatima anniversaries.
      • Both my dad and Father Walker died on the same day, June 11.
      • In looking at the locations and dates… if, as a kid, he ever went to confession and I’m guessing he did, and if, as a kid, he ever served Holy Mass and I’m guessing he did, he may well have been a penitent of mine and served Masses for me.

      I’m forever praying that those boys who serve Holy Mass for me will, according to the Lord’s will, receive a call from Jesus to become priests. I wonder if I prayed for a youngster called Kenneth. I’m guessing I did.

      UPSHOT: Prayer for good, holy, strong vocations to the priesthood, young men who will be priests with the very Heart of our Lord Jesus, who will be good sons of Immaculate Mary. Hail Mary…

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      This isn’t a sandwich. How do you…?

      lobster

      From last night… The last time I had lobster was on Prom night after the dance (in the school gym) at a fancy restaurant overlooking the Mississippi river in central Minnesota with a wonderful Canadian girl from the famous Ecumenical Institute at Saint John’s Abbey, my home parish at the time. This girl and I had put in lots of horse back riding together there in the southern most reaches of the northern woods. We talked about how many kids we would have. She said she had dreamed about twelve. I said that I thought that honestly a good number would be sixteen. We both agreed that God is the one to decide. She went back to Canada and I went to the seminary. The memories! Funny what you think of when you have a meal you’ve only had once before in your life.

      This lobster was eaten in the company of a fellow priest and his parents. His father was ordained a permanent deacon in the same Mass that the son was ordained a priest, and this was the tenth anniversary. So, four lobsters, still very much alive before being put into pots to be steamed. Steamed, it seems, is the only way to make lobster. I didn’t hear any screams from the lobsters. I usually just eat toast and think that to be extravagant. So, what do I know about recipes?

      I hope people aren’t scandalized by this. But there are things to celebrate. It’s good to celebrate. Catholics do know how to celebrate. Though others do as well. I’m sure you remember a favorite of many (the final scene of Babette’s Feast):

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      Filed under Priesthood, Recipes, Vocations

      Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Requesting Martyrdom edition)

      flores papist

      Jesus said to his disciples:
      “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
      No one has greater love than this,
      to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
      You are my friends if you do what I command you.
      I no longer call you slaves,
      because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
      I have called you friends,
      because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
      It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
      and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
      so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
      This I command you: love one another.”

      That’s today’s Gospel. Jesus is commanding us to ask for the grace of martyrdom, laying down one’s life for one’s friends, the greatest love, how He loved us. That’s the logic of that passage. Inescapable. Totally. This is what we are to ask of our Heavenly Father. I’m guessing that that request would make our dear Mother Mary most happy.

      The flowers I put up for this post are in front of the statue of the Immaculate Conception at the rectory. They are yellow and white, the colors of the Holy See, a tad bit Papist of me. Yes. This really makes people angry. It makes Islamists upset. It makes ultra-traditional-ism-ists upset. It makes the filthy liberals upset.

      It is most Catholic to support not only the idea of the office of Peter (which support, cut off from Peter himself as so many do, is a heresy for the reason that the Church is founded on Peter and not on a mere idea of an office), but it is also most Catholic to support Peter himself, his very person, which filthy liberals, ultra-traditional-ism-ists, Islamists, etc., are loathe to do. I take a lot of heat for supporting the very person of Pope Francis. And that’s just fine with me.

      Just because one is supporting Peter himself doesn’t mean that one is supporting everything that Peter says. That would be absurd. Peter himself wouldn’t stand for it. I couldn’t care less if Peter bets on a certain horse for the Kentucky Derby. I’ll bet on my own horse, or actually not bet at all. But I will pay attention when the Bishop of Rome, the successor of Peter, the Vicar of Christ speaks not just for himself but as the head of the Catholic Church, and not just to some group or another or as part of some dialogue (such as is the case with Amoris laetitia), but when he is speaking to the universal Church, to everyone, and as a teacher, not a mere participant in ongoing dialogue, and also, conjoined to this, when he speaks on a matter of faith or morals as found in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition (or in the natural law for that matter), especially when this is deciding a controverted point.

      But not only. I will also pray and stand in solidarity with Peter to the point where I feel that it is true that he who insults Peter insults me. Indeed, he who insults Peter insults Jesus who established Peter as the Rock upon which the Church is built. He who insults Jesus insults me. Why? Because Jesus did the same for the likes of horrible, sinful me. Thank you, Jesus.

      But Father George! You don’t understand! Pope Francis blah blah blah blah blah. Yes, I’m aware of that and about a million other things you haven’t even thought about. I know. And so I ask: “So? Does that mean I shouldn’t pray for him? That I shouldn’t be a good son of the Church? Does it mean I can’t do my best to be the best priest I can be, teaching the best I can, praying the best I can, encouraging the best I can? I stand with Peter. I’m Catholic. I’m a priest.

       

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      Filed under Amoris laetitia, Flores, Holy See, Missionaries of Mercy, Pope Francis, Priesthood, Vocations

      Fr MacRae’s request of Padre Pio: help!

      Father Gordon J MacRae is not one to ask for prayers for himself, ever. But now, it’s different. He’s asking, with reason. For two reasons, actually. Continue reading

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      Filed under Missionaries of Mercy, Priesthood, Prison, Vocations

      Flores for the Immaculate Conception (Chrism Christ Angels Angelus edition)

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      Seen at the Catholic Cathedral of Saint Patrick – Charlotte NC

      We had the Chrism Mass for the Diocese of Charlotte early in Holy Week. It was such a glorious day, the well over 400 mile drive, the pleasant weather, meeting up with a zillion priest friends, speaking with His Excellency (twice, really very good), renewing of priestly promises in service of Jesus and those He has redeemed and is saving. Just a really good day.

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      Catholic Cathedral of Saint Patrick, Charlotte, NC

      The Bishop’s sermon was perfect, as usual. He told all us priests that when we preach we are to speak about… – wait for it – JESUS! That’s the singular best admonition to priests I’ve ever heard. Brilliant. Joyful. Enthusiastic. Jesus is the Way. Jesus is the Truth. Jesus is the Life. This is all about JESUS. Wonderful. Chrism refers to anointing, to Christ, the One is especially anointed by the Holy Spirit, the Messiah (which also means the One who is anointed).

      IMG_20170412_071813With plenty of daylight still left a chat with my old neighbor near the hermitage (still there!) was in order on the way back out to far far Western North Carolina.

      As long time readers know, there’s a long standing arrangement I have with my guardian angel, which is that whenever I make my way up or down from the hermitage, he will smack me down so that I remember to say the Angelus prayer for the Bishop and the priests of the Diocese of Charlotte. That goes on until this day. This is always startling, however peaceful.

      But this practice is starting to shift over to another place as well, the Rectory in Andrews, my new hermitage, as it were, so to speak. Whenever I’m entering or exiting, the practice is now becoming – while getting smacked down by my guardian angel – to offer the Angelus Prayer for the Bishop and the priests of the Diocese of Charlotte, in other words, for my brothers in blood in the Priesthood of Jesus Christ, the Anointed One.

      Please pray for priests. Hey! Maybe with three Hail Marys. Come to think of it, there are three Hail Marys in the Angelus. But now we are soon to start the Regina Caeli for Eastertide. So, three Hail Marys on their own are good. And don’t forget the Holy Souls in purgatory with the same Hail Marys, also priests who have gone for some time to purgatory, that great place of mercy that prepares us to say thank you to Jesus in heaven.

      Here’s the back steps, three of them, to the Rectory, a reminder of the three Hail Marys in the Angelus for the Bishops and priests of the diocese:

      IMG_20170412_080914

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      Count them if you can: Zero for 15 (relaxing is stupid: go for adrenaline)

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      Here’s yesterday evening’s pattern of Zero for 15 rounds of 9mm from my Glock 19, all of which you can count if you know how to read the markings. The orange dot is the size of a penny, which didn’t get hit even once. But hey! It’s been a while. Not really to the left or right so much anymore, but definitely still a bit too far South. These are pumped out pretty much as quickly as I can go. The grip feels better, more solid, but my mechanics need more work. And it’s not pumping rounds out that makes for good pistol work, it’s all about the mechanics, and the mechanics in difficult circumstances. I know. Still nowhere near to practice on a regular basis.

      More on why a priest has a gun (most all priests I know have them and practice with them and are more proficient a thousand times over than I am):

      • Well, one benefit still lurking in the background is that this makes being an FBI trained chaplain for local law enforcement in part of the Charlotte Diocese a much greater possibility. And that is a good thing, right? Yes, it absolutely is.
      • Also, just to say, what I have noticed experientially however anecdotally is that this kind of sportsmanship occasions friendships with many new sectors of society. And that is a good thing, right? Yes, it absolutely is. Blue Lives Matter as do all other lives. People are so brainwashed by television that they think spiritual support of LEOs is to reject Christianity. Really? That’s not what Saint John the Baptist thought about it.
      • And anyway, it makes for good fun usually in the great outdoors. I just can’t see going to an indoor range unless it’s for re-certification or to keep up with friendships so easy to make at indoor ranges. There are lot’s of good people at the indoor ranges, often law enforcement and just really serious, responsible, helpful citizens. But indoor ranges for me are bit too controlled in the environment, a bit too surreal. And yes, even priests do well to have a bit of recreation. Yes, “guns” and “recreation” are not exclusive words.

      By the way, the South bit on the target mean that I’m just trying to hard to do well, pulling down on the gun as shots go out. No good. I’ve been trying to relax a bit, and that has done me well. But, really, that’s just so wrong. As “The Guy” told me, forget about “target practice,” which totally destroys one’s aim. Sorry to say this, it’s all about making every shot a “kill”, so that instead of being relaxed, one goes into adrenaline mode, which is an entirely different thing altogether than being relaxed. Adrenaline is about slowing down but for the benefit of an impossibly intense in-that-moment-only concentration, with all other senses blocked. That takes a special kind of person. He’s the best shot, literally, in the world, with a pistol. That rating isn’t about Olympians or some dumb thing, but rather being pitted against all the best in the world from our military and intelligence services. I’m not there, yet. For him, it’s 10-X pretty much 100% of the time.

      An analogy is in order: Do we let Jesus go in for the kill, as it were, so that we die to ourselves to live for Him alone, with His aim perfectly 10-X as it were when He commands His Heavenly Father to forgive us while He Himself dies on the Cross, totally pumped with adrenaline, senses blocked, vision narrowed just to us in front of Him, total concentration, He giving us His very Heart which we then pierce through, and that, of course, occasioning our being killed off to ourselves… Truly this was the Son of God…

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      MRSA Hepatitis Plague: it’s what we do.

      [[ I would put a picture of one elderly person I anointed last night, but its all too horrific. ]]

      Yesterday Sassy the Subaru had hundreds of more miles put on her going to far flung places for Communion calls and anointing. People I go to see in the mountains of WNC are often on their way out or are terribly sick. I am reminded of carrying around a plague victim in Calcutta (yes, plague).

      Jesus watches all of this. A front row seat. He came with me in the Blessed Sacrament. He watched as I laid hands on the head of an elderly lady with a huge MRSA boil on her head (getting close to her eye), and then anointed her. Not the first time I did this for her. I’m thinking that Jesus is just fine with all that. This kind of thing makes you respect doctors and nurses who are continuously surrounded by injurious and deadly things.

      I have to ask myself if I was the patient if I wouldn’t want a priest to provide sacraments and blessings? Yes, I would. I remember as a seminarian that one of my summers was to be spent in India volunteering for Mother Teresa’s home for the dying. The Rector told me to reconsider going because I might get sick. I told him someone has to do it, whether I meant volunteer or get sick or both I don’t remember. Pretty sure it was both as his comment made me pretty upset. I did call to mind even then that Jesus came among us to die, and on purpose, so, why not do this? I did pick up some awful things in India, and the Rector said upon my return: “I told you so.” At which point I said that I was O.K. with that and wouldn’t change a thing.

      Anyway, I had no place to wash my hands last night after finishing with the MRSA patient and had to drive many hours before arriving home, at which point I used a bleach wipe thingy on my hands, but had meanwhile touched about every part of my face in those hours as people do. O well. I’ll have to bring the bleach wipes with me in the car for these frequent enough occasions. If it’s too late it’s too late. MRSA, a bacterial infection, does respond perhaps, maybe, to some very few antibiotics. I guess Hepatitis is, instead, a virus, though it sometimes just goes away on its own. So, whatever. You have to die of something, right? I would be happy to die from such things. It’s not like getting one’s head chopped off like Thomas More or those who are victims of ISIS, but, hey, I’m O.K. with it.

      I’m such a martyr, such a drama-queen, right? But here’s the point: actually, I just don’t care about consequences. I’m so happy with doing what I do in carrying Jesus around these backsides of these back-mountains that I don’t care about what may come. I think it’s the most wonderful thing in the world not to care if only one can do what one needs to do in whatever situation until one can no longer do it. There is a certain freedom in this, a “NO FEAR” thing. I wish everyone was this way. Sure, our military and law enforcement and firemen and rescue squads all have “NO FEAR” and just do what they are going to do regardless of the consequences, if only they get a chance to serve. But there are other more numerous unsung heroes and, usually, heroines, not only home-health care nurses, but those relatives at home who care for those with all sorts of problems. I think we will be surprised at the gates of heaven about those who said they had “NO FEAR” but were frozen in fear, and those who said they were fearful or who said they had “NO FEAR” but in any case did what they had to do.

      My putting myself among the “we” in the title to this post is, I guess, a bit fraudulent, as I visit here and there, even while others live in these situations day-in, day-out. But it is still a we, in my case, Jesus and myself. And actually, people couldn’t care less about me. They just want Jesus. As it should be. So, just Jesus. Jesus alone. Amen.

      P.S. I mean, all I can take credit for is putting wounds on Jesus. Anything good is Him.

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      Father Byers’ tender snowflake exam

      dung snow

      So, there’s a secular business in ultra super liberal Connecticut called Silent Partner Marketing that has come up with a pre-employment exam (chapeau to FoxNews for picking that up). The exam takes the tender snowflakes out of the running straightaway. Methinks that this kind of questionnaire would be useful for candidates coming in to the seminary. The article repeats some of the questions. Let’s just see how I fare for those questions for a secular business. I will be honest. Here goes:

      WHAT DOES AMERICA MEAN TO YOU?

      While any democracy of fallen human beings will have its faults and foibles and even downright wrongdoing, these can be overcome with the pursuit of justice and mercy, the honesty and integrity of which come about with the acceptance of salvation from God who has redeemed us all. I am everyday thankful for those who serve and lay down their lives in service. Upholding the Constitution by way of the first enumerated inalienable right to the free exercise of religion (along with the others) has pride of place in my heart and soul.

      HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT GUNS?

      Self-defense / defense of the innocent is a right and duty enshrined in our Constitution and held up by natural law as a contribution to the virtue of justice. I’m happy to carry a concealed carry permit.

      WHAT DOES ‘PRIVILEGE’ MEAN TO YOU?

      No matter what unrepeatable circumstances we have, we are all gifted by God with some circumstances that we can rightly claim to be privileges if we humbly get out of those circumstances whatever we can in the time we have, that is, for our own sake and the sake of others. Being bitter and envious is sheer idiocy. Throwing away gifts for the sake of mere political correctness is madness.

      WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED AND WHY?

      This is a bit of a touchy-feely question, but that’s the world we live in here in these USA, right? I too can wear my heart on my sleeve. Here goes: I distinctly remember the entire scene in extreme detail since I remember everything when I was a little kid back to even one year old. It might be the one and only time I’ve ever cried. My mom told me I never cried as a baby. When I was two and a half years old, in mid-Summer, I was beaten to a pulp by my four year old brother. He had chased me into the basement with its tile floor. He tackled me and, sitting on my stomach (I thought my hips were breaking), he smashed my head repeatedly against the floor, making me see stars though not making me pass out, just whaling on me with repeated punches. I hid behind an old couch pushed against the wall and the tears flowed, making a puddle, the old “cry me a river” was true in this case. And that was that. When I was done it was over. I started to learn some self-defense after that with one of the neighbor kids, successfully I might add. Oh, yes, my eyes welled up when dad died, and then not long after when mom died. I do sometimes get choked up when speaking of a friend’s death.

      WE WORK VERY, VERY CLOSELY WITH A LOT OF POLICE DEPARTMENTS AND SO YOU NEED TO BE COMFORTABLE AND WILLING TO SUPPORT THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO SERVE AND PROTECT. ARE YOU?

      Yes. I’ve even put on the Officer Down! Memorial Dinner in our little town with seven counties of local law enforcement in attendance, along with various levels and departments and bureaus of the Feds coming to pay their respects to those fallen in the line of duty, and also to have an enjoyable day together. I’m thinking of taking the civilian FBI course for those interested in working closely with law enforcement.

      ==================================

      O.K. Well, that’s that. But how about if we add a few more questions for the priesthood, you know, for would-be seminarians. I’ve come up with a few here, but help me by adding more questions in the comments. I admit, I’m ruthless here. The rule is that any insufficiently or otherwise dodged question demands a lengthy grilling, not necessarily GITMO style, but a grilling nonetheless. So, here goes, in two sessions:

      First session:

      • What is a vocation?
      • To what, exactly, are you entitled as a priest? Be specific.
      • What do you think about mercy and contraception?
      • What do you think about mercy and divorce and remarriage?
      • What do you think about married priests?
      • What do you think about gay priests?
      • Is any truth absolute?
      • Is any moral law without exception?
      • Is hell forever?
      • What is your take on authority and the freedom of the children of God?
      • Have you ever volunteered for anything? List them all. If not, why not?
      • What do you think of the SSPX? If you have no opinion, why is that?

      Second session:

      • Have you read the Bible? If yes, how many times?
      • Have you read the proclamations of the ecumenical Councils of the Church? Vatican Council II? Vatican Council I? The Council of Trent?
      • Have you read the Catechism of the Catholic Church?
      • When’s the last time you knelt in adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament?
      • When’s the last time you recited the Holy Rosary?
      • Do you make a regular sacramental Confession?

      Again, please add more in the comments section. Perhaps you can see where I’m going here. I remember an Archbishop who had would-be seminarians volunteer at the Cathedral parish for the Summer. He told them his own personal schedule to start the day with adoration at an early hour and invited the would-be seminarians to attend though it was up to them to do so or not. Their “real” duties were to be given them every day in the parish office. All the seminarians excelled in their “real” duties. Only some came to the adoration. The one’s who came to adoration were accepted, the others let go. Some think that is a good idea, some think it is horrible. It is what it is.

      .

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      Filed under Confession, Priesthood, Vocations

      Gunslinger priests: on consecrated canonical digits vs trigger fingers

      consecration-

      A reader recently asked:

      “Not to belabor it, but, did I miss the column where you explain why you (1) feel you need to carry a gun? (2) Don’t the same fingers that hold the Host, hold the trigger?”

      (1) “Feel the need.” That’s a strange statement. If anyone carries a gun because of feelings, they should not, must not carry a gun. That’s the definition of psychosis. You’re right to rebel against that, but wrong to put that on anyone who does carry. Feelings are not the reason a sane person carries a gun. Not everyone who carries a gun is psychotic.

      At any rate, I have many reasons (forget feelings) why I carry a “carry permit” in my wallet.

      • Is it that I have, in fact, been shot at and had a gun held menacingly in my direction many times in my life, throughout my life? No, that wouldn’t be it. I really couldn’t care less. I’ve lived this long, right?
      • Is it that I’ve had quite a lot of contact with “successful” terrorists these past decades? No, that’s not it either. A gun wouldn’t have been a help or been used in any of the situations in which I’ve been. Well, in one or two situations… Anyway, that’s hypothetical as I didn’t have a gun and I lived to tell the tale, right?
      • Is it perhaps that I have a background that is interesting enough for the State Department to issue me a false passport for my protection, and then put a perpetual protection order out on my behalf? Nope, not that at all. After all, they’re helping me, right?
      • It is that I think I will certainly run into a bad situation in which I wish I had a gun, you know, like Father Kenneth Walker? Certainly not. I mean, most law enforcement officers go their entire careers without ever even once taking their guns out of their holsters except for re-qualification at the target range. It could happen, but…
      • It is that I often am to be found on the most violent roads in Western North Carolina where I’ve faced deadly situations a half-dozen times already? Definitely not it. Those were all once-off incidents.

      So, what is it then?

      • Is it that I want to be available for any contingency in which doing this would be helpful for the defense of the innocent when the police are only minutes away? Yes, that’s a reason, as this is always a positive contribution to the virtue of justice.
      • Is it that my legs, a bit crippley, are too unstable to do what young Francesco Possenti (Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows) did in stealing guns from the arsonist / rapists invading his village? Convenience can also be a reason to carry a carry permit.
      • Is it that to be a chaplain for the police in some parts of this diocese one has to go through the FBI course which includes getting trained up in weapons? Yes, that’s a reason. I would say it’s the reason.

      (2) “The same fingers.” An attempt at helpful, glorious irony? Or simply a non-sequitur if I ever saw one? Here’s the deal: a positive contribution to the virtue of justice by way of our Lord laying down His life, standing in our stead, taking on what we deserve for our sin so as to have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us is not contradictory to a positive contribution to the virtue of justice by way of defense of the innocent. Justice is justice and one is not to offer some sort of apology for justice.

      Stepping up like this will, of course, lay one wide open to getting killed. I don’t see this as contradictory to the statement of Jesus that laying down one’s life for one’s friends is the greatest act of love.

      It’s true! I’m not a LEO and I’m not in the military. I’m just a mere citizen. Ah, but that’s the answer, isn’t it?

      Just to say: most priests I know have carry permits. Yes, most priests I know are both on the younger and more conservative side of things. But I’ll add a story about perhaps the most liberal priest in this diocese who would throw out LEOs if they came to Mass in uniform, including a full duty belt. Really. He would stop Mass and make a scene until they left. I guess that was a ploy to look liberal, you know, to get praise from the liberal crowd. That priest, mind you, carries a gun himself. I smiled a wry smile when I found that out.

      Back to feelings… What if – God forbid – I shoot someone in the justifiable defense of innocent human life? Could I go ahead and consecrate the Body and Blood of our Lord with the same fingers that held the gun and pulled the trigger? Why not? Would feelings be quite overwhelming about having taken someone’s life? Maybe. Even probably. But that’s an occasion to be introduced more deeply to the Sacred Mysteries. Our fallen human nature tends to obfuscate in fear of the deadly seriousness of Jesus’ love for us. But that must be overcome in His grace.

      Canon law forbids a man to be ordained a priest if he has ever murdered anyone, perhaps forgetting about Saul (later Saint Paul) and Saint Stephen. But killing is not necessarily murder. Also, shooting is not necessarily killing, as you never shoot to kill. You shoot to stop the threat. I’m sure there are many “Buts” to be answered. It’s a discussion worth having. Am I upset with the question? No. Not at all. There has to be a way to begin the discussion. Distinctions are to be made. We learn together.

      Look, no one ever wants to pull a trigger. But there are certain prosecutorial tricks used to convict someone, but none of them are true:

      • You have personal defense rounds which stop in the person you’re shooting, meaning you intended to kill, wanted to kill. /// No, that’s not true. You simply don’t want the round to go through the perp, wounding but not stopping, and then through an innocent bystander, and another and another, as can happen with full metal jacket.
      • You had a trigger job done, meaning you intended to kill, wanted to kill. /// No, that’s not true. You simply want to be as accurate and quick as possible in order to save lives. That’s what it’s all about.
      • You do target practice a lot, meaning you intended to kill, wanted to kill. /// No, that’s not true. You simply want to be ready to face serious untowardness appropriately, knowing well the tool you have to bring deadly imminent threats to naught.
      • You carry a gun because of feelings, whatever they are for whatever reason they are there, and the conclusion must be that you intended to kill, wanted to kill. /// No, that’s not true. See above… etc. etc. etc.

      Now, having said all that, my joy in life is not to carry a gun. Instead:

      • My joy in life is to use my consecrated hands to consecrate the Most Holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus, gracious as He is to this sinner.
      • My joy in life is to use my consecrated hands to absolve sins in the confessional, or out of it for that matter, though I am not as joyful then as I am when I myself am absolved from my own sins.
      • My joy in life is to use my consecrated hands to pick flowers and give them to the Immaculate Conception: it’s what Jesus would have me do always in all circumstances. And we don’t need consecrated hands for that. More on that joy in another post. But for now…

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      Filed under Guns, Priesthood, Vocations

      Update: Father Byers’ run for political office?

      just me 02Inspiration: My dad was commander of the famed USMC Fighter Attack Checkerboard squadron (flying the gull-wing Corsairs from 1943-1953), became whatever the jarhead equivalent of a JAG is by being put through Georgetown lawschool even while being the back-in-the-day equivalent of what is now called a Top Gun instructor at what is now Andrews (Air Force) Joint Command just South of the District of Columbia. He became the most powerful attorney in Central Minnesota, did some lobbying stints at the legislature, knew all the big name politicians, became Mayor of our town of @50,000, and had his sights on more encompassing offices in D.C. Meanwhile, he became father of my brother and myself, which I’m guessing distracted him quite a bit.

      I asked him once why he wanted to be an attorney and a politician, and he said without hesitation (surprised at the question, stunned really), with all of his idealism shining out: “Because that’s my vocation, to help people. I want to help people. This is how I help people.” And, yes, he did quite a lot of pro-bono work, having deep respect, to the core, for salt-of-the-earth Americans who just want to do the right thing.

      He very much wanted me to follow in his steps. We discussed that many times as he drove me to school on his way to work. My response was, of course, about the priesthood, and I would cite his own words back to him, and then wax poetic: “Because that’s my vocation, to help people. I want to help people. This is how I’m to help people……” He was wanting to start me off as a high school Page in the legislature. I can’t imagine what would have happened had I gone that direction.

      Priests in politics are generally a catastrophe. Just recall a few: Jean-Bertrand Aristide (Haiti), Robert Drinan (USA), Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann (Nicaragua / Libya) along with both Ernesto and Fernando Cardinal (Nicaragua). They were president, in congress, worked as foreign minister or ministers of the interior and of culture, etc. D’Escoto was a particular problem for me personally when I was in Nicaragua back in the Reagan years.

      As for me, there is presently a push for me to be elected as Alderman of Andrews with its 1,700 population. O.K., nothing like those other priests on so very many levels! Ha ha ha! And don’t forget, I was one of the best students ever of Father of Liberation Theology, Gustavo Gutiérrez (now O.P.). Honestly!

      But, seriously, there are far reaching, deep problems here in Andrews which are suffocating (purposely?) the town literally right out of existence, and sometimes a quiet voice interested in law and order and jobs and getting stuff for kids to do instead of drugs and wanting infrastructure for basic utilities like water and services like proper local law enforcement and fire-fighting can be helpful. And sometimes a foreigner (I wasn’t born here) can in fact be helpful as he is not beholden to feuding and the good ol’ boys’ club that might well protect, fiercely, the drug world and all sorts of corruption. Seriously.

      But, what does the Code of Canon Law say?

      Can. 285 §1. Clerics are to refrain completely from all those things which are unbecoming to their state, according to the prescripts of particular law. [For instance, being a dealer for blackjack at the local casino.]

      §2. Clerics are to avoid those things which, although not unbecoming, are nevertheless foreign to the clerical state. [An arguable point, as some political offices are rendered out of service, or that’s at least a possibility, right?]

      §3. Clerics are forbidden to assume public offices [This is pretty absolute, but there is some backtracking about the scope:] which entail a participation in the exercise of civil power. [And this is a question for an alderman whose job descriptions in various municipalities or districts thereof are as different as one grain of sand is from another. Is an alderman specifically of Andrews, who, unlike other civilians, has a vote at town meetings, and who is representing the best interests of residents… is he per se EXERCISING civil power by a vote that is quite removed from the actual execution of a resolution, the who, what, why, where, when and how, which is instead brought to bear not at all by aldermen, but by the Mayor, by the City Manager, etc.? In other words, is there not a distinction between public office and the “participation in the exercise of civil power”? Otherwise, why bother, in the law itself, with adding a clause which does in fact make a distinction between public office and “participation in the exercise of civil power” unless there is such a distinction recognized by the legislator. Diversely, all public office by its nature is a participation in the exercise of civil power on some level, or that public office would not exist in the first place. There is a distinction, then, about the immediacy of the impact of the public office on any exercise of civil power, so that a more remote action, such as a vote, is permissible and even perhaps becoming of the clerical state depending on the service involved for the common good, while a more immediate practical day to day application is what is forbidden by this sub-paragraph.]

      §4. Without the permission of their ordinary, they are not to take on the management of goods belonging to lay persons or secular offices which entail an obligation of rendering accounts. [But permission is in fact a possibility so possible that it is placed in the law itself.] They are prohibited from giving surety even with their own goods without consultation with their proper ordinary. They also are to refrain from signing promissory notes, namely, those through which they assume an obligation to make payment on demand.

      By the way, just to say, for those who don’t know what an example of the Good Ol’ Boys club might be, here is an example: a statute that prohibits residents from running for office or getting a job with law enforcement if they are not “lifers”, that is, born here. Imagine the law suits on that one! And the results! “We do things our own way ’round here!” Etc.

      I don’t need a membership to validate
      The hard work I put in and the dues I paid
      Never been to good at just goin’ along
      I guess I’ve always kind of been for the underdog

      Favors for friends will get you in and get you far
      Shouldn’t be about who it is you know
      But about how good you are

      Don’t wanna be a part of the good ol’ boys club
      Cigars and handshakes, appreciate you but no thanks
      Another gear in a big machine don’t sound like fun to me
      Don’t wanna be a part of the good ol’ boys club

      There’s a million ways to dream and that’s just fine
      Oh but I ain’t losin’ any sleep at night
      And if I end up goin’ down in flames
      Well at least I know I did it my own way, hey

      Don’t wanna be a part of the good ol’ boys club
      Cigars and handshakes, appreciate you but no thanks
      Another gear in a big machine don’t sound like fun to me
      Don’t wanna be a part of the good ol’ boys club

      Favors for friends will get you in and get you far
      But when did it become about who you know
      And not about how good you are?

      Don’t wanna be a part of the good ol’ boys club
      Cigars and handshakes, appreciate you but no thanks
      Another gear in a big machine don’t sound like fun to me
      Don’t wanna be a part of the good ol’ boys club
      I don’t wanna be a part of your good ol’ boys club

      Just to say, being an Alderman for this tiny town hardly takes away from my priestly duties. In fact, I think it facilitates some of my objectives which I share with our police chief regarding community leaders finding ways to get us out of the quagmire we are in.

      Any canon lawyer out there who is willing to take a stab at this? Be nice! I know I’m ignorant and that’s why I’m asking for help. Isn’t that a good thing that I’m wanting to follow the codified summary of the pastoral wisdom of the Church distilled from millennia worth of countless events? Whatever you think are my motives, don’t think I’m wanting to run for public office or not. That’s actually not my point. I’m wanting to know this for a multitude of reasons, and this is just one more thing that finally pushed me into investigating this aspect of the Church’s jurisprudence. Can you help?

      UPDATE: O.K. So, that would be a NO! vote from one of the best canon lawyers in this dark world of ours. Absolutely not, he said. He even went so far as to say that being an Alderman for this itsy bitsy village would be an impediment to Holy Orders if I wasn’t already ordained. I’m slowly backing away away from the situation and then turning and running so fast I’m outrunning gamma rays. Having said all that, it’s nice to know you’re wanted. There was a bit of a powwow last night at a brewery with some of the local best of the best good guys representing all the first responders and even the office of the […edited…] doing their best to convince me to go ahead and see if this would be possible.

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      Filed under Father Byers Autobiography, Politics, Priesthood, Vocations

      Mother Xavier McMonagle, OSB: Conference for priests about a priest

      1. The life and the person of an outstanding priest who befriended the Tyburns.
      2. The Eucharist as the source, sublime divine unique prototype of all reality which we all live and experience today.
      3. How do you know which priests are really holy? Watch them at Holy Mass!
      4. The sudden death of a priest…

      Father Daniel sounds like a really good priest who always wanted to share the greatest love of his life, Jesus, the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception. From the description here, I wish I were half the priest he was, as I would then be much better of a priest than I am now. A goal! ;-)

      There will be, I know, a wide variety of impressions about this priest via the pictures of him shown in the video during the conference of Mother Xavier. So, I would say this:

      • Note what Mother Xavier holds to be important.
      • Note what the fruits of his ministry were: Vocations.
      • Note that the Tyburn nuns have made it their project to help priests and pray for priests, and that, because of this most impossible of all good works upon the face of this earth, they are eager to rejoice with the angels over any priest who believes in and loves Jesus. Father Daniel surely did. I would love for that to be said about me when I am called to leave this world.

      May the soul of Father Daniel and the souls of all faithful departed priests, rest in peace. Amen.

      Prayer for Priests (given by Marie Adèle Garnier to her spiritual daughters)

      O my Divine Jesus, You are not only the Supreme Pastor but also the Life of the Pastors of Holy Church, breathe again upon the soul of each of them as You did upon Your Apostles.
      Renew in them all the gifts and graces that you lavished on their souls on the day of their Ordination.

      Make their hearts unsullied tabernacles where Your Spirit of Love may ever dwell.

      Illumine their minds with the light of Your Divine word, that they may be able to illumine those who sit in darkness, and to guide into the right path the souls confided to their care.
      Strengthen their whole being by Your Divine Power that they may conquer all their foes, seen and unseen.

      Beloved Jesus, gentle, patient Lamb of God, make their life like the life You led on earth.
      Divine Spirit, influence their every thought, word and action; take possession of their minds and hearts so that they live in You and You live in them.

      Holy Mary, defend and protect them, each and all, under your mantle. Keep them close to you until Jesus calls them to the reward He has prepared for them in eternity. Amen.

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      Filed under Priesthood, Vocations