Tag Archives: Priesthood

Homily 2018 09 19 Assessing Jesus, John

flautist

In this homily I went after the legitimacy of we, the great unwashed, assessing Jesus and John. Pfft. Like that‘s going to work. Pfft.

Jesus said to the crowds:

“To what shall I compare the people of this generation?
What are they like?

They are like children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another,

♬ ‘We played the flute for you, ♬ but you did not dance. ♬
♬ We sang a dirge, ♬ but you did not weep.’ ♬

For John the Baptist came neither eating food nor drinking wine,
and you said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’

The Son of Man came eating and drinking and you said,
‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard,
a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’

But wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”

That Wisdom is God’s Love. God is Love.

That Wisdom is God’s Truth. God is Truth.

But the manipulators of political correctness unto themselves know nothing of God’s Love, of God’s Truth. So that can’t see anything of honesty and integrity of the lives of Jesus and John.

Here’s the deal: they cut off John’s head with their self-absorption; they crucified Jesus with their self-absorption. It all comes down to self-absorption.

To save us from self-absorption is why John pointed out Jesus; it’s why Jesus stood in our place, the innocent for the guilty, to have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us. And we were oblivious. God loved us while we were yet sinners. Yep. The Light shining into the darkness. Thank you, Lord. You’re the One. You’re the only One.

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Filed under HOMILIES, Priesthood, Vocations

Review Board rejects Paul of Tarsus

Saint Paul Conversion Damascus Caravaggio

The vicious, murderous Saul, was graced with a vocation by Jesus. But Lord, he said, they will hold my past against me! I am evil and bad. Don’t worry, Jesus replied, I shall be with you. And so it was, Saint Paul would boast of his weakness so as to give Jesus the glory.

If we go before our judgment and Satan would be allowed to accuse us for all we have done, each one of us, and if God would judge us only on those accusations, whether true or false, out of context or not, we would all be going straight to hell. The faith is about mercy, about the Good News, the Evangelium, the Gospel, not about an uncontrollable lust to condemn all to hell with no chance of redemption, with no chance of salvation if they are not already mirror images of ourselves. The faith is not about only bad news confirming only bad news. Playing the part of the Accuser, damning others with no chance of redemption and salvation, is a rejection of Christ who redeemed all and wants that the many be saved. Jesus said that those who deny him before men He will deny before His Heavenly Father.

It’s time, I think, to re-publish something I came across back in the early 1980s at Father Paul Marx’ Human Life Center in Collegeville, MN (which later became Human Life International in Front Royal, VA), then operated by the famous R.M. I put this up on this blog a few years ago, and have used many times in my life.

A gate-keeper psychologist for vocations to the priesthood for a nearby Archdiocese (he hated that description of himself), passed this bit of parody below around to everyone, poking fun at those in his profession who had no faith whatsoever (slightly edited).

It demonstrates that if one is looking for something to condemn, one can find ten thousand examples even in the greatest of saints. And any one of those things is today way more than enough to have one sent off for an “evaluation” at, say, the homosexualist crusaders at Saint Luke Institute, the results of which evaluation are predetermined by the one who is paying (not by what is actually known about the subject). Dismissals from the clerical state are multiplied. When you have a troublesome priest like the one described below, they are literally cast out of the priesthood. Truly. Pretty much everywhere.

I mean, just imagine, there are those even among the cardinals of the Church who condemn our Lord as a failure for having died on the Cross. They say this with a reluctant and sad voice of a forced admission. For them, even our Lord should have been sent away for evaluation and then dismissed. Isn’t it true that those who only condemn have to look for more to condemn, even if it is not there? The following is a call for an examination of conscience for us all:

MEMO

To: Paul of Tarsus, Independent Missionary, Corinth, Greece
From: CYA Missionary Board

Dear Mr. Paul:

We recently received an application from you for service under our Board.

It is our policy to be as frank and open-minded as possible with all our applicants. We now have an exhaustive study of your case. To be plain, we are surprised that you have been able to pass as a bona fide missionary.

We are told that you are afflicted with severe eye trouble. This is certain to be an insuperable handicap to an effective ministry. Our Board requires 20/20 vision.

Is it true that you have a jail record? Certain brethren report that you did two years’ time at Caesarea, and were imprisoned at Rome too. You made so much trouble for the businessmen at Ephesus that they refer to you as “the man who turned the world upside down.” Sensationalism has no place in the missions. We also deplore your lurid “over the wall in a basket” episode at Damascus.

We are appalled at the obvious lack of conciliatory behavior. Diplomatic men are not stoned and dragged out of the city gate, or assaulted by furious mobs. Have you ever considered that gentler words might gain you friends? Why, we even read in one place where all men turned against you, those of like faith too. I am enclosing for your edification a copy of Dallas Carnegus’ book entitled, How to Win Jews and InfluenceGreeks.

Your ministry has been far too flighty to be successful. First Asia Minor, then Macedonia, then Greece, then Italy, and now you are talking of a wild goose chase into Spain. Have you not suspected that a nice cozy spot in some permanent location might do more good? Concentration is more important than dissipation of one’s powers. You cannot win the whole world by yourself. You are just one little Paul!

In a recent sermon you said, “God forbid that I should glory in anything save the cross of Christ. ” It seems to us that you ought also to give some glory to our heritage, our denominational program, the unified budget, and the World Federation of Churches. And by all means don’t forget the League of Consensus and the Society of Niceness.

It’s amusing to us how you say you do the work of an evangelist when there are just a few of you romping around the countryside. Our method is to spend months in promoting evangelistic campaigns. With a full house, there’s bound to be some action: your methods are too uncertain.

And who do you think you are in telling our church leaders that you long to impart some spiritual blessing to them! Are they not educated enough to have their own blessing? Frankly, Mr. Paul, it’s a trifle too humbling to have plain ordinary men like yourself stand on the same platform with our titled professionals.

Dr. Luke reports that you are a thin little man, bald, frequently sick, and always so agitated over your little church groups that you sleep very poorly. He states that you pad around the house praying half the night. A healthy mind and a robust body is what we expect and require.

You recently wrote to Timothy that you had “fought a good fight.” Fighting is hardly a recommendation for a missionary. No fight is a good fight. Jesus came not to bring the sword, but peace. You boast too that you fought wild beasts at Ephesus. What on earth do you mean?

It hurts me to tell you this, Paul, but in my 25 years of experience I have never met a man who is so opposite to the requirements of this Mission Board. If we were to accept you, we would be breaking almost every rule in modern missionary practice.

Mr. Heady High-Minded
Director of the MISSIONARY BOARD

That could be edited to include more, of course. For instance, one could say that Paul’s words against the rancor and violence of bullying homosexualist crusaders (Romans 1:18 to the end of the chapter) is not the inclusive way to go these days.

We could add another bit of sarcasm in reference to Paul’s condemnation of doing evil to achieve good, which was very much the modus operandi described in detail in the USCCB’s document on medical ethics.

I wonder if we could come up with a list of saints who were dismissed or discounted or ignored or despised by the world and, indeed, within the Church, but who became the greatest of saints. Oh, that’s right. It would be all of them.

But no, really, how about Saint Francis? Remember his conversation with Brother Leo on perfect joy? That would surely seal one’s fate in most seminaries as being against the super mansions that some of our bishops have built.

And then consider Saint Benedict Joseph Labre?

Saint Ignatius was hailed as insane by all during his visit to Jerusalem?

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Filed under Humor, Priesthood, Vocations

Priests: days off, friends, hobbies or psychologically unhealthy lives rant

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Some people are fickle, you know the kind, who have psychologically inappropriate practices – like being a workaholic, a busybody, a control freak, all that goes along with narcissism, etc. – and they insist that priests, all priests, be mirror images of them, with all the same aloofness, all the same bitterness, all the same… – shall I say it? – all the same hatred of self that they want to project onto priests: “Damn them for taking a day off! Damn them for having a useful hobby! [like tent-making?] Damn them for having friends! Priests should instead ____________ [… fill in the blank…].” Instead, priests are people too, and, as such, priests should do that which is psychologically healthy.

Mass Lourdes Pius X Basilica

Should priests do up good prayer, good penance, good reparation? Sure, all that. They should make hobbies, if you will, of priest stuff, meaning keeping up with, having the virtue of studiosity with all that which defines who they are. For instance, do they know their full rite to which they belong, not only the Novus Ordo but also that which came before the Novus Ordo and is still an active part of the life of the Church? Sure, all that. And I love all that. This provides an ecclesial understanding of the ages in a lived way. I hate to use the word enjoyment with such things, but if one does this while walking in the Lord’s presence, so to speak, it is just that. It’s all good.

But along with all that, should priests have good reading and good practices of appropriately being aware of society around them and analyzing the breadth of history and where we are today and where things are likely going? Sure, all that. I have a blast doing all that. Writing helps me think. I love writing. It’s all good. But…

toyota pickup

Should they also be found at all times and in all places where the suffering are, such as hospitals and nursing homes and rehabs, and also with those who are “shut-ins”? Sure, all that. But for me, this is what I love to do, so much so that I almost feel guilty about it. Should I be having this much fun in bringing Jesus to all and sundry? :-) Archbishop Fulton Sheen said that priests should make people laugh when they pay visits to them in all their suffering. But I see this a different way. I stay with people long enough whereby they figure out a way to make me laugh, and then we do laugh heartily indeed. Maybe some few loudmouthed people are so angry with priests because priests (the vast majority) love being priests, and love Him whom they serve, Christ our God. Or should we say with the fickle that if a priest loves being a priest so much he’s surely not doing his “job,” and should be more alone and more angry and more bitter and more desperate….?

But I think there is more to this. For instance, would it be a bad thing for me, in particular, on a day off, to stop in at the next parish over (the better part of an hour away and conveniently on the way to the hermitage) so as to have what is always a fast moving discussion with a good priest friend just to do it, and then also go to Confession? Is it terribly evil for a priest to have friends, even priest friends? Of course not. But what if those friends are also neighbors to the hermitage, and I end up at the hermitage? Is that bad and evil? These are such good people. They very much encourage me that our Lord is alive and is ever so very good and kind to us. But what if those friends are also down the mountain, where there is also potential for ferocious conversations and really good food? Is that so bad and evil? I think it’s good for priests to go to Confession and to have good friends. We do want what’s good for priests, don’t we, you know, what’s psychologically good for priests? I think so, a thousand times over.

flores-lourdes-grotto-ice-roses

But what about hobbies? Another priest I know does up lots of art. He makes tapestries, losing himself in intensity of creativity of design. Just guessing, but I think Daniel Matsui must be like that. It can be like code-writers going into a trance with a million lines of code all at once in their minds and having to finish off a certain impossible project without realizing that many hours have passed without them realizing it. That‘s the sign of a good hobby: it’s distracting. I remember doing my doctoral thesis on Genesis 2–3. The whole thing was one big mathematical equation. I think I went for ten hours straight on an impossible historical-philology investigation utterly surprised that more than some minutes had passed. For many years I’ve made a hobby of putting up “Flowers for the Immaculate Conception” in all their various editions of commentary. The flowers above burst out in the midst of weeks of ice and snow and always freezing temps.

Right now, along with Flowers for the Immaculate Conception, my hobby is my Glock 19. Sorry, but not sorry. More on that later.

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I looked up priests and hobbies and saw many priests I knew describing their hobbies, including the most impossible things like playing the most difficult instruments in the world, or mountain climbing, like with ropes and such. All good. And these are the best of priests, with honesty, integrity, who speak the truth in charity, and live it. I think doing what’s psychologically healthy helps set the conditions by which a priest can be a good priest. And that’s a very good thing. Anyway, I’m away to buy some dog food. That‘s another hobby. Here’s Laudie-dog a while back:

laudie-dog

And here’s Shadow-dog just a few minutes ago. Note that Shadow-dog, who always has the most amazing shadows, is surely really a donkey under all that wolf-like nature: just look at his astounding shadow):

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Priests as donkeys… Donkeys, if you didn’t know, are put with the sheep just like guard dogs are but with the sheep. Donkeys kill off the wolves. Those from Australia might think that that shadow looks like a kangaroo about ready to box Shadow-dog in the nose. Anyway…

Importantly, priests should have a great sense of irony, a great sense of humor, and love to laugh, and have a joy in the Holy Spirit that is reflective of lives of honesty and integrity, of living as tabernacles of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not aloof, dark, bitter. No! Jesus is risen from the dead, from the entire onslaught of hell, and has conquered.

UPDATE: As one reader just sent in by email:

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

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Priests and science. They go together.

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I put this up a few years ago. Its appropriate to put it back up again.

Whenever I see a jet engine, I am thankful to priest-scientist Fr Clarence Danforth (rip), a good friend and classmate in Rome.

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Arrived in Rome. Thanks Fr Danforth.

Continue reading

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Epicenter of abuse victim: we laughed and gasped the better part of an hour

consecration-

Thanks for the prayers that I asked for yesterday. I finally got to talk with the epicenter guy himself. I laughed with our Lord and gasped with our Lord for the better part of an hour. We could have continued talking for days non-stop. This was one of the most inspirational, hilarious, sad, ironic, enthralling, joyful, gasp-filled conversations I’ve ever had.

mother teresa-

When you speak with someone who knows Jesus as a friend, a close friend, who has suffered terribly for Jesus, been betrayed for Jesus, slandered for Jesus, right through the decades, who knows what it is to remain entirely faithful through adversity, joyful through adversity, you’re immediately a life-long best friend with such a person, because the truth that you instantly recognize is an un-manipulate-able Living Truth, Jesus, who is always present with His close friends, because the enthusiasm you witness to in that person is that of one who rejoices in the just triumphalism of the Divine Son of God: Do not fear! I have overcome the world! That kind of person cannot be dragged down by the demonic darkness, cannot be made cynical by the “powers that be,” cannot be made to be someone who is not a close friend of Jesus. What an honor to speak to him! What an honor to be able to help him later today… Please offer a prayer to this end… Hail Mary…

john paul ii be not afraid

I’m still laughing out loud in agreement with comments and sentiments he shared, with stories he told. They resonated in my soul to the Nth degree. We know a lot of the same people. Hah!

FBI CITIZENS ACADEMY

For instance, there’s a successful FBI intervention that he spoke about. I know an FBI agent involved with that case, who had told me some of the methodology. That brought a lot of things full circle and told me something about all those involved, both not far from where I am and in more distant places where epicenters have still been exploding for all these decades.

This was all just stunning. I mean, it was all a sad and terrible topic, yes, but, I must say, in contrast, the grace of Lord, if taken up, conquers all. I wish everyone knew this fellow’s joy and freedom in the Holy Spirit, his faithfulness to the Lord Jesus. Perhaps, someday. Perhaps someday soon. Here we have honesty, integrity, goodness and kindness. I’m still laughing out loud. Instant friendship. I love being a priest. What a privilege to meet such great people. What a privilege to do some small thing to help him out. To do something for this guy is for me to be able to say thank you to Jesus.

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Epicenter actual victim of the crisis: visions of evil priests and holy priests

joseph cupertino mass

St Joseph Cupertino (marginalized until he got to heaven!)

Padre Pio was once smashed down by a vision of all the souls of priests who were saying Mass at that moment in an unworthy state, and this just as he was leaving the sacristy to say Mass himself. He blanched and, staggering, almost fell to the floor at the crushing horror of the scene placed before his soul. Our Lord wanted to share with him what our Lord Himself saw from the cross. This is the vocation of all priests, to be with our Lord, to be in solidarity with Him even as He is in solidarity with us. This is the Mass.

Meanwhile, yours truly, just minutes before Mass yesterday evening, got a call from […] Oh my! And then I heard the story and a way I could help. I was introduced to the epicenter actual victim of the crisis. I will today try to do something for him. This encounter is a nuclear explosion. This encounter is God’s doing and is wonderful in our eyes. Please pray that something absolutely fantastic and glorious happens today for the priesthood and the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I am heartened. It’s always heartening to be introduced to someone who has suffered and has remained faithful to our Lord under great duress through the decades. What faith! What character! What friendship with Jesus! I am heartened. Please say a Hail Mary for this intention: Hail Mary…

 

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Day Off: feast for this priest in a time of smashing priests down

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Happenstance stopping by at a friend’s house on the day off, I was immediately presented with rib eye with Bearnaise and mushrooms in a wine bath, with deli bread and Perrier to wash it down. And then dessert (there’s ice cream in there too):

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That’s really very nice altogether with the whole swirl of no due process for priests darkening peoples’ minds and souls. Really very nice altogether. Might your priest appreciate this support?

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The day this priest was accused of pedophilia: Introibo ad altare Dei. Accused priests, pay attention!

Mass Lourdes Pius X Basilica

Yours truly offering a Solemn High Mass with well over 7000 present in the Underground Basilica of Saint Pius X on 15 August 2008. The deacon and subdeacon are of course, now ordained for the FSSP. The vestments may well have been from Pius IX. The Missal is from yet another FSSP friend. I’m not FSSP, but I was the official[!] “Latin Mass” permanent chaplain in Lourdes since immediately after the famous 7-7-2007 motu proprio of Benedict XVI.

Sometimes we would have Mass in Saint Joseph’s underground church, sometimes on the top floor of the confessional building, sometimes in the top floor of the medical building, sometimes in an under-the-church-chapel of the Basilica of Saint Bernadette, sometimes in either of the two chapels at the front of the upper Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, sometimes in the crypt Chapel, sometimes in the side chapels of the crypt chapel, sometimes in the side chapels of the Rosary Basilica, sometimes in the basement chapel of the Chaplains House, sometimes, finally, in the upper Basilica of the Immaculate Conception over the Grotto.

The accusation came after a most glorious Mass in the upper Basilica of our Lady on a Sunday morning at which there were quite a number of individual pilgrims, groups of pilgrims and, to the point, large families of pilgrims in the pews, you know, with moms and dads and boys and girls kneeling before the Holy Sacrifice. Absolutely beautiful. I was, of course, the luckiest priest in the entire world to have this privilege of bringing the Mass of Tradition, of the ages, back to Lourdes after many decades when it had been banned. The pilgrims loved it. Besides being the “Latin Mass” chaplain I had also been a permanent member of the Italian Language Chaplains Group, and of the English Language Chaplains Group, and of the French Language Chaplains Group. But I digress.

After Mass I made my way back over to the Chaplains House, brought my vestments and Missal and such back to my room on the top floor. I would watch the rivers of pilgrims, by the thousands, coming down the small mountain in back of the Chaplains House, coming off the last stretch of the “Upper Stations.” Finally I went down to the dining room for lunch. It was a perfect summer Sunday. Because of my unique position of having been with so many language groups depending on their needs I could decide at which table to sit. This day there were a few empty places at the English Language Chaplains Group table, so I headed there. You have to know that on any given day there may be present any number of bishops and cardinals and politicians and dignitaries in that dining room.

Present at “my” table was a “Temporary Chaplain” who was single-handedly throughout the decades responsible for the erosion of the prayerful atmosphere at Lourdes, responsible for the destruction of the “Youth Mass”. Needless to say, he hated the Mass of 1962, of the Ages, of Tradition, with great passion. His hatred was always a subject of discussion at table. Not able to forbid the Mass, his plan was to attack me. As soon as he saw me he shouted out for all the dining room guests to hear that I was pedophile. The room, of course, went silent. I asked, “Why do you say that?” He said, thankfully, just as loudly for all to hear, as this was his point in his war against the Traditional Mass:

“I say you are a pedophile because you say that damned Latin Mass and we’ve gone beyond that and you scandalize children who attend that Mass giving them the impression that that Mass is good when it’s not because it’s destroying their character; it’s destroying their ability to look forward, to the future. They’re vulnerable at that age and you’re taking advantage of them by saying that horrible Latin Mass. Pope Benedict should be deposed. Damn him.”

With appropriate stares burning through that “Temporary Chaplain” from all present, the hubbub of the meal immediately picked up again and again it was a beautiful Sunday. I brush that kind of thing off like I brush away a mosquito. It’s annoying for about one second, and then one forgets about it. Whatever. It’s better if you don’t let it draw blood, perhaps infecting you, lowering you to that level.

I remember telling that story in front of a priest who was quite the ecclesiastical climber. He heard the whole story, but all he wanted to hear is that I had “been accused” so that he could smack me down and play the hero. That’s so disgusting. He immediately had me reported to my superior, who, also hearing the entire story, immediately threw me in a dumpster. That was literally the only place in the world I was allowed to exist with a blessing. Yep. They all said that it didn’t sound like a credible accusation, but an accusation is an accusation. That was it. Period. It happens all the time.

Seeing these antics and their anguish and their abuse of office and their climbing up on the corpses of their brothers whom they kill at will, I actually laughed, brightly grinning, even while out of the blue I was threatened with a law suit should I ever repeat how I was being treated. Well, I didn’t use any identifying markers in the story, did I? No. Again, lol, still today. Sorry, but I can’t be hurt. Jesus died for me. So, it’s like… someone else can hurt me in some way? No. That would be laughable. It is laughable. Pfft.

Note to my fellow priests who have been accused, whether you’re innocent or guilty. Our Lord also died for you and brings you His sanctifying grace. And then, after that, ecclesiastical ladder climbing over your corpses doesn’t really matter does it? No. Keep the faith. Or regain the faith. This life is short. Heaven is around the corner, much sooner than later. Remember, it’s all about Jesus. He’s the One. He’s the only One. It’s not about climbers climbing the ladder on mountains of dead priests that they’ve killed. Instead, it’s about Jesus. Only Jesus. He’s the One. He’s the only One.

By the way, I’ve since been able to climb out of the dumpster. And if anyone thinks that a post like this is a scandal about the priesthood and vocations, I say that such a person is utterly ignorant of the way things are. Jesus had his Judas, did He not, telling us also the way things would be should he call someone to the priesthood? Yes. This kind of thing doesn’t put off vocations. It inspires young men to fight the good fight. Why? Because it helps them to understand that it’s about Jesus. He’s the One. He’s the only One.

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By the way, that “Temporary Chaplain” gave me a donkey as a parting gift when I left Lourdes as I had originally planned before I even went there (I had asked for two years to hear the confessions of the millions of pilgrims – one year we had 12 million pilgrims). This was perhaps a year after his fake-news accusation. He still considers and always considered me a friend. He just didn’t like the Traditional Mass and was blaming the Mass for all of society’s ills. Typical. Anyway, here it is, part of my collection. BTW, the “A” stands for donkey in French, as the French name for donkeys begins with “A”. But we all know the meaning in English literature, don’t we? Yes, we do. Whatever. Jesus has also conquered stupidity. BTW, I always ask dying parishioners to tell Jesus that there is a donkey priest down on earth who needs His special help. They say that surely Jesus will respond that all priests are donkeys, so which one in particular was in need of special help? Hahaha. But I think Jesus will know exactly who the donkey priest is.

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Filed under Abuse, Father Byers Autobiography, Missionaries of Mercy, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis, Priesthood, Vocations

Sheriff’s Office in my Confessional?

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I love it. This is no small feat. There are a zillion little churches throughout the county. The little church campus in Andrews can be a place where one finds drug drops, thieves, etc et alii. But nothing nor anyone of any stripe more than in any other place. So, we’re grateful. This sheriff’s check also happens up at our church in Robbinsville, sometimes not for a while, sometimes once or even twice a week.

I was surprised when I saw this card on my confessional chair, but then a parishioner confessed to putting it there, so to speak. It had been outside the external doors of the church. I’m happy to think that the parishioner thought that the best place for me to have a message delivered where I would see it right away is on my chair in the confessional. Indeed, I love being a priest. :-)

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Speak Hear See No Evil

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This hand-carved version of monkeys imitating their human counterparts was seen at the rectory of another of our parishes in the region when some of us priests got together just to do it, you know, for ribeye and other grilled extravaganzas, along with some great conversation about – What else? – exorcism and all things of the people of God. It was not an evening of speak, hear and see no evil. Instead, all things were spoke, heard and seen with Jesus, for, as He said, where two or three are gathered in my name there am I in their midst. A very pleasant evening. I love being a priest.

Having said that, the monkeys are an incisive reminder that we can all fall into political correctness and just go along to get along, which is always hurtful to all of us. But when we laugh together at how weak we can be, imitating the monkeys imitating us, and therefore rejoicing in the strength and grace of the Priest of priests, the very Son of God, that is helpful to us all. Yes. I think so. I know so. I believe in One God, the Father Almighty…

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Humanae vitae: two priests met me in my diaconate summer in 1980s and…

spy vs spyTwo priests from further out east in these USA had heard of my parochial experiences with Humanae vitae. Apparently, this was becoming a thing. A “reputation” and all that. That’s always something to be avoided. It is what it is, for good or bad, truthful or something less than that. They came to pay me a visit – a long day-trip, that – and expressed to me their utter disdain for the appointments I had been given for my diaconate summer (though I do not question the bishop’s wisdom in this matter of appointments in the least).

Satisfied that they had a good understanding of the way things were, but wanting to ascertain this for themselves, they proceeded, after returning to their diocese out east, to make a call to the vocation director in my diocese at the time. They had heard that if someone wasn’t for women’s ordination and against Humanae vitae, there was no way he was going to be ordained in that diocese, at least if the vocations office had anything to say about it. This was news to me, but, hey, anything is possible, right?

One of them made the call and pretended to be a young layman expressing interest discerning a vocation to the priesthood. As they suspected, the conversation very quickly turned to thoughts about women’s ordination and Humanae vitae. Taking a line of fidelity to Christ and the Church for the good of all, he was forthwith put off from any further contact with the vocations office of the diocese with the good wishes being given to him that perhaps he might come around to playing out life on the right side of history.

The result of this phone call was then reported back to me. I guess they thought that knowledge is power. Something like that. The thing is, God is really smart, with lots of knowledge, lots of power. God’s the One in charge of things. Whatever we think about we do, God is the Lord of History.

I asked an old Monsignor about them and he said that, yes, they were in fact priests from out east and were quite the renegades on behalf of the good. I recall being quite inspired by all this. Perhaps some might think role playing in this way is not to be done, but…

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Humanae vitae: my 2nd city parish in my diaconate summer in the 1980s

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This was my second city parish in my diaconate summer in the mid-1980s. The very first thing the pastor said to me was that I would be preaching all five weekend Masses and that I was just to introduce myself a bit because, he said, the one rule he had in the parish was that there was to absolutely no preaching about Humanae vitae because, he continued with the motivation, there was a car dealership in town and they provided a new car to the parish every year and they didn’t like to hear talk about Humanae vitae.

Now, there’s some great training for my priesthood! //end sarcasm.  But actually, it was great training from Jesus, who was continuing to show me what was happening in the Church, His Church, not our Church, but His. That’s an education.

Anyway, of course, you know the rest of the story. I did introduce myself in that first homily, but I also spoke about Humanae vitae. I figured, you know, that if the pastor had forbidden this, the sheep hadn’t heard anything about the beauty of marriage, about the generosity of being open to life, about true love and trust in the providence of Jesus. Soooo….

You can guess the rest. The pastor being furious. Blah blah blah. Boring. Jesus is my life, our life… He’s full of life. Jesus is life. What is anything else. How can we not speak about Jesus and of human life – humanae vitae – ?

Anyway, complaints went in again to the bishop and I was called on the carpet. The result was that the bishop wanted me to go back to Rome to study at the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family and then, when I returned, be appointed to be head of the Diocesan Marriage and Family Apostolate. The vocations director was furious with the bishop, but the bishop is the bishop.

And, just to say, I did become a priest. :-)

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Humanae vitae: my 1st city parish in my diaconate summer in the 1980s

parish

The moment I moved into the parish I was told by the pastor that I was not ever to speak about Humanae vitae, and other than this, I was to visit the hospitals and nursing homes. I assiduously visited the hospitals and nursing homes all over that spacious city. But I did have a great fault that got me reported to the bishop forthwith, and removed just as quickly to another parish.

That summer there was one weekend on which the readings were all about faithfulness in marriage. I preached on the beauty of male and female in marriage being the image of God. On and on I went about why there is indissolubility and exclusivity and openness to life, generosity. I did in fact speak about Humanae vitae in that homily – just a couple of sentences at the end, ever so gently, the truth in all charity – because I had heard the pastor saying the exact opposite of Church teaching from the pulpit and figured the sheep were without a shepherd and had been thrown to this wolf who was ripping them to shreds. Little did I know that I was pretty much too late:

  • When I turned around from the pulpit I saw the pastor not sitting down but standing at the altar, literally shaking with anger, his face gone deep purple in rage. I didn’t know what to do. I stood at the side of the sanctuary. He was glaring fiercely. I was actually thinking about what to do should he get a heart attack. When I tried to do the deacon thing of turning the pages during the Eucharistic prayer, the pastor would suddenly play helicopter with his arms, repeatedly almost belting me with his hands. I stepped waaaaay back and he ordered me closer only to do the same thing. I couldn’t believe it. It was as if Jesus didn’t matter in the least. It was all about violence. Here’s the deal: if sex isn’t open to life, it only tends to violence and death. Yep.
  • When I got outside after Mass, in front of the church, I was shocked that no one in the parish greeted me. Instead, most all gruffly walked past, loudly voicing their complaints that I had said anything about Humanae vitae‘s contents, you know, the ol’ “Why I never!” “What gall he has!” “That’s not what our pastor says!” “How dare he bring this up!” “We’ll show him a thing or two!” “I’ll not give in the collection when he preaches!” “We’ll be happy when he’s gone!”

But the worst was yet to come. The pastor that night ordered me to come to his “den”, sat me down, and proceeded to reprimand me up one side and down the other. It was all about him feeling discredited. He said that he had been training the parish in to believe (or not believe) in his own manner, and that he expected me to be his mirror image as that was what training in my diaconate summer was all about. You would think that training for the priesthood was all about the priesthood of Jesus… Anyway, he went through his own personal history of rejecting the teaching of the Church on pretty much everything, and what a mistake it was for the Church to ever have said anything about marriage, ever, particularly from the Council of Trent onward. He mentioned specific instances such as the interventions of Pius XII. He was absolutely livid. And while he praised my going to the hospitals and nursing homes all the time, he said that that was cancelled out by my homily. He insisted that I wasn’t ready to be ordained a priest and he said he was going to recommend to the bishop that I be delayed for ordination.

Perhaps I’m just supremely arrogant, or evil and bad, but I was wanting to think that I was being faithful to our Lord Jesus in caring for His flock. And it is His flock, not the flock of us deacons and priests and bishops. The sheep belong to Jesus. He’s the one who died for them, for all of us. I tried to be respectful, saving my huge smile for suffering for the Lord Jesus until I got out of the room. I was so happy to get out of that room. Tooooo creeeeepy. Thank you Jesus.

Again, just to say, I did become a priest. :-)

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Humanae vitae: Interrogation of seminarian George David Byers

angel face palm

Today is the 50th anniversary of the day after (26 July) Humanae vitae was promulgated by Pope Paul VI (25 July 1968). Who knew? To this day, The New York Times thinks that the date is 29 July as this is the date that the first copies were being passed around. Remember the days before the internet?

But don’t be mistaken. The rebels were ready. Just that quick some 600 self-proclaimed “theologians” (whose street cred was proportional to their teenage-esque rebellion), including Charles E. Curran and Richard A. McCormick, were ready to give their middle finger (it was just that discourteous) to now soon to be canonized Pope Paul VI, who was only doing what he had to do – and with love and enthusiasm – as the successor of Saint Peter.

The fog of war of evil against good that followed was constituted with the most self-congratulatory, self-referential, self-absorbed, Promethean, Neo-Pelagian, arrogant, non-thinking bullying imaginable. Let me provide you with an anecdote from the early-mid 1980s when I was a student of the great but not yet Cardinal, Carlo Caffarra, founder and President of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family.

I was a deacon at the time, and was required to give the famous “Monday evening homily” at the national seminary in Rome where I was residing. Some thirty visiting priests were concelebrating. It was the Feast Day of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles. I spoke about the statues and stories of the martyrdoms of the Apostles as depicted in our parish church, the Cathedral of Rome, the Mother and Head of all the Churches (dioceses), named after the Most Holy Savior and Saints John the Baptist and the Evangelist at the Lateran. I included lots of humor. There was a lot of laughter.

At the very end of the homily I came to the analogy, that disobedience to the living Truth of God Himself brings only violence and division, but if we obey the infallible magisterial interventions of, say, the Successor of Peter, then we will be granted the tranquility in our souls of unity, of the love which, in God, is the living Truth whom we call Jesus. As an example, in just a sentence or two, I mentioned Humanae vitae as a good example. Just as disobedience in the use of contraceptives and abortifacients provides an artificial division between the spouses – between physical unity and openness to life – throwing them on the fast track to divorce, just so does promoting such disobedience by the clergy put clerics and bishops at odds with each other, bringing about chaos in the Church, precisely as we had all witnessed in those years. We pray that we might witness to unity and truth and love as did the Apostles, as did Simon and Jude, said I. And I sat down. You could have heard a pin drop on the far side of the galaxy, for like three minutes, as it was the custom to provide some moments for reflection, but this was a rather unusually tense quiet, more like friends who were grieving for my predictable demise, enemies who were already plotting my demise, and, as I was to find out, of almost uncontainable joy of some of the visiting priests who rushed up to me afterward and even during the offertory in the sanctuary to thank me for the best homily they had ever heard.

For the next six weeks I would receive reports of how one of the formation directors, just signed on for three years as he was doing his doctorate in Rome, was bad-mouthing “the American” for what I had said, and that I needed to be stopped, and he was going to stop me. This was at nightly private poker games with the post-graduate priests and some select seminarians. My “spies” were scared for me. And they were right.

The rector at the time soon called me into his office and said that I was required to attend an ad hoc formation meeting at which I would be questioned about my “pastoral sensitivity” by the rector (RIP) vice-rector (now a Cardinal), the two new formation directors and myself, without the possibility of my having an advocate (read: witness) present. The meeting was set for 9:00 PM in the parlor across from the office at the main entrance. 9:00 PM passed. 9:15 PM passed. 9:30 PM passed. I could hear angry arguing, shouting even, among themselves in the rector’s office (that’s through the double doors of the receptionist’s office mind you). Finally at 9:40 PM they appeared, red-faced not with embarrassment for being late but because they were so upset with me and with each other. The interrogation was fully scripted with an outcome of damned if I do, damned if I don’t.

After some fairly softball questions about pastoral sensitivity, softball because I was allowed to explain my answer, it was then that the question came. But let me recount one of those softball questions, this one by the rector, so you get a sense as to the ridiculous nature of this inquisition. He said that he wanted to know about how I felt about the following hypothetical situation:

“Let’s say you get ordained a priest and the bishop puts you in a poor parish where no one puts anything into the collection, where very few speak English, where no one is a practicing Catholic or for that matter Catholic at all. What would you feel like?”

My response, which makes me laugh to this day:

“Well, let me answer this by way of anecdote from this past summer. I had, on my own initiative, visited prisons and gotten to know the various Catholic “chaplains”, whether lay or clergy, and, being invited by them to put my desires to the bishop, then asked the bishop just before returning to Rome, that after ordination at the end of this academic year, I would have as my first assignment being a prison chaplain, you know, where no one puts anything into the collection, where many speak Spanish or Arabic, where pretty much no one is a practicing Catholic or for that matter Catholic at all. How would I feel about it? I would just love it!”

The softball questions all went this way, but with a deleterious effect, because they were now white-hot with frustration, every question of theirs giving me a platform to shine while making them look like idiots, though not purposed on my part. It just worked out that way. This was especially the case with the poker playing formation director who evidenced himself as the one who had been shouting so much previously in the rector’s office. The angels are totally, hilariously awesome in their warfare. ;-) But then the question came, this one from the vice-rector now Cardinal. When he started this question he was interrupted by the others who were now jumping out of their skin with anger, they insisting to me, especially the poker player, that I absolutely had to answer this question of the vice-rector with a yes or a no, with no explanation. Without knowing what the question was yet, I immediately opened a discussion with the rector that for this to be an honest inquisition as to my pastoral sensitivity, I would have to be able to explain my answer if need be. This went on for five minutes but he finally caved to my request which he deemed to be reasonable. Otherwise, they would look pastorally insensitive to me, right? Heh heh heh. So, the vice-rector started in:

“Say you are ordained and a young lady comes to confession to you and says very piously that she is sorry for all her sins such as impatience but not for contraception, because her husband told her to do this and they feel financially strapped and there’s no possibility of not using contraception. Would you give her absolution or not?”

Again the poker player interrupted, so angry that I thought he was actually going to hit me so hard as to knock me backward in my chair right to the floor: “You HAVE to answer this yes or no!” I would be damned as pastorally insensitive if I simply said no. And if I said yes I would truly be damned by Jesus and they would figure, at any rate, that I was lying just to get ordained. Since I had no witnesses they could say whatever they wanted.

I appealed to the rector again and he said that I could explain my answer. I said that this isn’t quite the moment for extended classes on the matter, but that there is much literature in the back of the church to learn about these matters, and many couples in the parish who she could contact for support and instruction on all levels, including financial, and that there was no way I was going to deny her an absolution, but that for right now, to assist her in receiving the graces of our Lord fruitfully, we should delay for just a bit the absolution until we could do something that will truly help her in her life, both in her family experience and in regard to her friendship with Jesus and in view of eternal life. I said that I would want to be the priest for her, and not just try to win her friendship by ignoring her difficulties (which would only increase).

Outrageously, and I probably shouldn’t have been so triumphalistic, I immediately asked the rector if I was being reasonable in this answer, and he hemmed and hawed for minutes on end but then agreed that I had been reasonable in my answer. I then pressed it to ask if there was anything that any of them would like to add, subtract or change in my answer so as to assist me in being more pastorally sensitive. None of them could do it. That broke up the inquisition. I won. But I lost. I knew I had sealed my fate in being faithful to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Within weeks, in the middle of the year, they had me out the door simply saying that they would not put me forward for ordination to the priesthood. I asked the reason. No reason except that the rector has just signed on the one poker playing formation director and I didn’t think like him and there was no room for the both of us in the same seminary. The entire seminary was turned upside down, in turmoil, half the seminary for me, half against, and it was almost at the point of violence. I could give examples. It was bad. I said that I had nothing to do with any of that and it was all a surprise to me. It was all that one priest instigating this. It was I who had to go, he said. Within days I was to miraculously avoid being directly with, shoulder to shoulder with 19 others who were gunned down down. But I digress.

There are a thousand anecdotes like this in my life. It makes life interesting being faithful to our Lord, I once said, offending an ancient Chinese proverb that an interesting life is a curse. Instead, I think I misspoke in saying “interesting.” I think instead the word for me to describe what I would go through is “enthralling,” and that refers not to any circumstances, but what those circumstances would occasion: a very perceptible presence of our Lord Jesus. And I just absolutely love that. I smile broadly ear to ear this day, even laughing with joy at how our Lord was training me in by all this through the years. After all, it’s all about Jesus.

Let me be clear: Humanae vitae is about Jesus and His marriage with His Immaculate Bride the Church by way of His wedding vows of total self-giving: This is my body given for you in sacrifice, my blood poured out for you in sacrifice. Jesus doesn’t contracept the truth about male and female being the image of God. Jesus doesn’t contracept our redemption, our salvation. He doesn’t separate himself artificially from standing in our place, the innocent for guilty, making Himself one with us in this way so that we could made one with him, the temple of the Holy Spirit, with the indwelling of the Most Holy Trinity, members of the Body of Christ. I didn’t want to betray Jesus’ love. I don’t ever want to betray Jesus. It’s all about Jesus. Jesus is the One. Jesus is the only one. JESUS!

By the way, I made it: I’m a priest today. And I love it, every second of it. Because it’s all about Jesus. He’s the priest, the only priest. He’s the One. He’s the only One. JESUS!

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The Gift of Father Gordon J MacRae and Pornchai Maximilian Moontri

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These spiral notebooks of blank, lined pages were envisioned and created and sent to me by Father Gordon and Max and dearest Charlene Duline (my all time favorite State Department diplomat who also totally spoils Laudie-dog and Shadow-dog).

I’m wondering what they have in mind with these notebooks, as they have at other times said in all humor and in all truth that “Father Byers doesn’t have an unpublished thought.” Ha ha ha.

When I was doing my doctoral thesis, and when I was writing my first[!] novel, I used to carry around paper and pen everywhere, no matter what. After all, you never know when ideas, when solutions to impossible conundrums are going to pounce on heart and mind. I many times had to control myself from stopping mid-step while crossing busy Roman streets so as to jot down some notes. Many times I could be seen writing notes while driving a scooter on the way to some Missionaries of Charity house outside of Rome to say Mass early in the morning. But with the pictures and titles of these note-pads, what could the message possibly be?

Anyway, it is they, Father Gordon and Max who are themselves gifts to me. Both are the most extraordinary people, so balanced, so humorous, so insightful, having not only the wisdom of suffering while at the same time always coming to know Jesus’ friendship all the more. I do not know where I would have been without them. Jesus is good and kind in granting that we help each other get along to heaven.

Anyway, anyone have any ideas about what is intended to fill the pages of these note-books?

The subtitles to the books: TheseStoneWalls.com /// MercytotheMax.com

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Why are you in *that* parish, thus removed from the life of the diocese?

Holy Redeemer church

You have heard that it was said that bishops should politicize appointments of priests by capitalizing talk of “plum parishes” and “difficult parishes,” blah blah blah. And some bishops do that, moving priests to punish or reward them. Sometimes people our ask our great bishop why a certain priest is in a certain parish, city or mountain, proximate or remote, with a strained history or not, and his invariable answer is that he puts his best priests into such parishes, all of them.

Before I was assigned to any parish in the diocese I had quite an extended discussion with the bishop about the state of affairs in this most remote vicariate being that I had some years of experience here before I belonged to the diocese. I was, then, of course, assigned to this most remote of parishes in this vicariate. Before it was something made popular by Pope Francis, who said that the best priests should be assigned to the most remote parishes, I said that the best priests should be assigned to the most remote parishes. I’m not the best priest, but the bishop appreciates irony. And, as I say, his forever-response to such things is to say that he puts his best priests in all his parishes, never distinguishing a parish as being this or that. Indeed, the *life* of the diocese is fully to be found in every corner of the diocese. I fully agree.

It’s true that the personnel committee that assists the bishop in placement of priests sends out a questionnaire to all the priests every year asking them if they like parishes with no other priests or with many priests, parishes in a city or away from a city, with hospitals, schools, nursing homes or not, etc. My one time answer was that I love all aspects of priestly ministry and have done pretty much every ministry imaginable as a priest in pretty much all conditions. The members of the Body of Christ are everywhere in all conditions and I’m available for that. Here, I spend really a lot of time bringing parishioners to the hospitals round about. Most hospitals in the area are not certified to do pretty much of anything. These parishioners are old with no family and no finances. All the real hospitals are two hours away, some out of state in Georgia and Tennessee. Though some in Asheville or between Asheville and Hendersonville. This was especially fun in the 1987 Toyota pickup:

toyota pickup

So, here I am and I’m loving it all. This is not a typical parish but, then again, there is no typical parish. When some people ask the question – “Why are you in that parish?” – they mean it as a kind of back-handed compliment, you know, the old you have so many talents BUT you’re way (the hell) out there and therefore you must have done something to get some people disgruntled with you! Well, that is absolutely certainly true. I never hesitate to participate in the old speak truth to power thing, enough to make priest friends really, really, really upset with me, telling me what the results will be and telling me what a fool I am. Whatever. I can’t be hurt no matter what retaliation is brought to bear wherever I happen to be in world at any given time, in Oceania, in the Middle East, in western Europe, in eastern Europe, in Central or South or, for that matter, North America. I love everyone and everything everywhere. So, is it a punishment to be put somewhere, anywhere? Gosh! I just never noticed, ever. And, anyway, I’m a priest forever, and that can’t be taken away, not ever. So, what do I care about anything in this life except that I myself try to do the will of God wherever and however I happen to be?

And then there are the priests who call me up to tell me of all the dramas they have in their parishes and I tell them that I’m so happy to be in my little parish! But, of course, as I say, I would be most happy to be in those parishes as well. It is what it is in this world, wherever we are in whatever circumstances with whatever people wherever they are in their lives. Because that’s what Jesus does when He’s up on the cross: “When I am lifted up on the cross I will draw all to myself.”

UPDATE: A comment came in that I was bidden not to publish (that’s the case with lots of comments and emails etc). But I can’t resist saying that the person said that I was, in fact, perfect for this parish in every way. Meanwhile, just to say, when I covered the Cathedral alone for nine days some years ago now, it was told to our great Bishop right in front of me that the Cathedral parish would be perfect for me. Meanwhile, I think pretty much any priest is perfect for any parish if he simply tries to let the priesthood of Jesus shine through, so that like John the Baptist, the priests recedes so that all can see Jesus alone. I wish I were more like that: All Jesus! All Jesus! All Jesus!

 

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Hey! A positive story on a priest friend of mine. Very cool.

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2018/06/09/mike-kerrigan-thought-had-enough-friends-then-stranger-did-this-on-my-flight-home.html

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Trending: Dogs adopting priests

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Meet Shiloh the Samaritan, or, with the name Shiloh, is he from Palestine, or the West Bank, or Israel of old, or new for that matter? Anyway, a very peaceful dog, three times the age as Shadow-dog, and so friendly, so calm, unflappable, a 90 pound GSD, German Shepherd, the same size as Shadow-dog, but not at all the same temperament. I should bring Shadow-dog over to meet him. Perhaps Shadow-dog could learn some manners from him. Shiloh adopted our Very Reverend Vicar Forane, the parish priest of the neighboring parish, just the other day. Father is on his way through his advanced Canon Law studies and is as level headed as Shiloh, which is probably why Shiloh adopted him.

And then there’s another Canon Lawyer, the Judicial Vicar of Charlotte Diocese. It is Maggie who adopted him. Somehow, they also are very much alike. We’re all friends, all with dogs.

father john putnam maggie

There are others, but I have no pictures. But ever present to me are, of course, in first place, Laudie-dog, who adopted me when I was writing about the Immaculate Conception in the hermitage. Laudie-dog came to me shot with a 4.10 shell’s worth of bird shot between the shoulders, a bit of mange, ribs poking out her side, and the friendliest doggie smile ever:

laudie-dog surveillance-dog

Shadow-dog adopted me later on. Fully three times the size of Laudie-dog, Shadow-dog has been delegated by Laudie-dog to help her with surveillance:

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Laudie-dog, for all of her friendliness, is also terribly fierce, and has protected me from bear and panthers and mountain lions and wolves and lynx up at the hermitage. She’ll do whatever it takes to protect me. Shadow-dog, meanwhile, for however friendly and loyal he is, has not yet had the opportunity to protect me, and I hope that will never come. Being a good size dog, that might be pretty scary. Anyway, he’s totally socialized.

In the photo above you can see on the other side of the fence my thin patch of asparagus, but you can’t see any spears as they were just harvested. But already six more are breaking through the ground and will soon be ready to harvest.

father joshua voitus - vladimir the great

Anyway, not all priests have dogs. Some have cats. Our previous Very Reverend Vicar Forane has had a number of cats who have adopted him. His present cat is called Vladimir The Great. Of the Latin Rite, Father is very Eastern Rites minded. The dog-priests were making fun of him one day saying that real priests have dogs. He responded that such a statement was not always accurate. They begged him for an example of a real Catholic priest who had been adopted by a cat. He said: Pope Benedict XVI. That shut them up quick. Hah. And, please understand this as a compliment of Father when I say that he is like his cats, that is to say, also, mind you, very much like the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.

Anyway, no cat has adopted me. Only dogs.

But having said what I’ve said above about other priests and their dogs or cats, the question is whether or not I am like my dogs, Laudie-dog and Shadow-dog. I have to say that I wish I would have the fortitude and friendliness that they have, their fearlessness, their affability, their loyalty, their willingness, instantly, to lay down their lives for others.

 

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Consecration at Mass: The irony!

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Father Gordon J MacRae (About) over at These Stone Walls asked me to publish some pictures of day pilgrimages during my Missionary of Mercy trip to Rome in the days surrounding Mercy Sunday 2018. The churches and basilicas involved saints who had been imprisoned, a kind of tradition throughout the centuries.

God’s revelation to us of love and truth and goodness and kindness is also manifested through these members of the Body of Christ, and is a kind of Sacred Tradition if you will, so to speak, as it were. As the great Cardinal Siri pointed out in Gethsemane, the supernatural faith and charity received with sanctifying grace are univocal, always the same, ever ancient, ever new, as they always have the same source in the Holy Spirit.

Christ Jesus was imprisoned. As the Master, so the disciple:

jesus mary solidarity prison

So, we have the tradition of Tradition. We are captives of the Captive One. His love and truth and goodness and kindness is captivating. People push and test His love and truth and goodness and kindness in us, wanting it to be true, but treating us in the same way as our sins treated Mary’s Divine Son. We are, then, captives of Catholic Tradition.

Fr. Gordon MacRae and Pornchai Moontri: Captives of Catholic Tradition

That seems to have gone a little viral with more than 20,000 shares as of this writing. Father Gordon complains: “So, my first post to hit 20k was not even written by me?!!!!” :-) It’s really a very short post. Pretty much all pictures. If you haven’t seen it yet or don’t know Father Gordon or TSW, go over and take a look, especially at Father Gordon’s About Page.

Anyway, Monica Harris dropped a comment on that post saying this:

“The root word of Tradition can also mean betrayal, right? Makes the title of this post true in both senses.”

Sacred Tradition, traditio, or, as the Council of Trent puts it, traditiones – traditions in regard to the articles of faith supernaturally infused into us by the Holy Spirit with Sanctifying grace, refers to a handing on among us of the faith it seems as if by hand (quasi per manus), but really wrought by the Holy Spirit. The Second Vatican Council in its dogmatic decree Dei Verbum, against all definitions of the “spirit of the Council”, repeats what Trent pronounced in Sacrosancta, its first dogmatic decree of the Fourth Session on April 8, 1546.

Judas handed over Jesus to be imprisoned and put to death. Judas, in handing over Jesus, betrayed Jesus. Yes.

In the consecration at Holy Mass, Jesus says:

Hoc est enim corpus meum quod pro vobis tradetur.

For this is my body which will be handed over (given up, betrayed) for you. In the inspired Greek of the Gospels, this is expressed in the present participle: διδόμενον “being handed over now”, thus uniting the Last Supper with Calvary.

The Holy Spirit’s action upon us, flooding us with sanctifying grace, bringing us supernaturally into faith and charity, Sacred Tradition, thus forming us into being the members of the Body of Christ depends on, has its foundation on the obedience of Jesus to the Father, obedience, ob-audire, the eager, prompt listening of Jesus unto death, our redemption. When Jesus lays down His life in this way He also lays down the life of the members of His Body. The most holy moment in the history of the universe, the consecration at the Last Supper, that upon which even Sacred Tradition depends, speaks of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, indeed, of all the members of the Body of Christ. It is Tradition to be handed over, to be made captive so as to be free. Jesus unites us with Himself in His offering to the Father, handing us over to the Father with Himself.

Good one, Monica.

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Happiness in the parish: Adoration, Confessions, Communion calls…

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My Confessor hates when I do this, but I know how weak I am. I’m still waaaaay overtired as I’ve been going non-stop after coming back from Rome. I knew early Sunday morning that if I didn’t get in my entire breviary I would miss saying even important hours like Vespers, so I did the whole thing during 6:00 AM adoration holy hour between confessions at the parish church before running up to Graham county for the first Mass at Prince of Peace in Robbinsville. As I say, my Confessor hates that. That’s not the way the breviary is to be said. But, it was a good thing I did it all at once. By the time all the Masses were over, and all the Communion calls and Anointing of the sick in the afternoon, I was ready to collapse. Which I did, in my chair, at I think 6:00 PM. I was out like a light. I didn’t move even once until 2:00 AM. I’m a very light sleeper, so this was crazy. I’m one happy priest.

I’m also happy to use a keyboard once again. I was doing all the posts on the blog while in Rome from my phone. I didn’t have a computer with me. I posted a lot during that second Missionaries of Mercy get together. That’s because it was all on the fly, most all posts being written beginning to end while on the bus or tram or subway or walking. Not great for situational awareness, but Italy, mind you, and in particular the big city of Rome, with characters from all over the world, and regardless of all the pickpockets, is so very calm and peaceful compared to my villages of Andrews and Robbinsville.

Anyway, this scene is next to me on the wall of the Confessional:

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  • I look Jesus in the eye as I give absolution.
  • I look at Mary in the eye as I give a penance.

I recall a story which Pope Francis has now told us Missionaries of Mercy for the second time in as many years. He said he knew an old confessor who would hear many hours of confessions every day, and afterward he would go to kneel before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and confess to Jesus that he was surely a terrible priest, for he had forgiven really very much sin that day, maybe too much, and he would ask Jesus for forgiveness, a bit tongue in cheek however, for he would then immediately add that it was all Jesus’ fault, for Jesus Himself had given us such a bad example on the cross: “Father, forgive them…”

Communion Calls for me are the highlight of my life. Many priests delegate these to others. I mean, I get it. They are all, without exception, in bigger parishes than mine and they can’t do everything themselves. Only I have that joy in regard to visiting all the shut-ins. Priests are best for this as priests can hear confessions and anoint those in danger of death. There are many saints among us. It is such a day-brightener for the soul to be with them.

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