Tag Archives: Priesthood

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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Saint Paul’s chains and my good friend Fr Gordon MacRae

I made a pilgrimage to the Major Papal Basilica of Saint Paul’s Outside the Walls. What you see above is the baldacchinoed central altar with the apse in the background with its mosaic of Jesus and Paul. Far below the altar, down in the “confession” a bit of archeological digging was done recently. Saint Paul’s sarcophagus was found with all manner of indication that this is him. You can see one side of this in the back of the excavation. Between this and the altar you can see the chains which he wore and which he mentioned in his letters. On the top of that box you see three figures, Saint Paul in the middle and his two companion jailors to either side.

I felt compelled to pray for Fr Gordon MacRae and Pornchai here. Will you join me?

Angel of God…

Hail Mary…

Saint Michael the Archangel…

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Picture of Fathers Day for Priests

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Fathers Day for Priests is the day they renew their promises all together with the bishop of their (arch)diocese in the Cathedral. The promises are all about renewing what their intentions were at the time of their ordination, that is, to be of service to Christ Jesus in His Priesthood, doing this through preaching the Word, through the Sacraments, through getting the members of the Mystical Body of Christ on their way to heaven. All of this is summarized in the photo above. Gotta love the shoes of the kid in the picture above (sent in by a reader).

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Jesus is delusional paranoid possessed. Damned if you do or don’t. Hah!

JESUS I AM

Jesus: “Why are you trying to kill me?”

Crowd: “You are possessed! Who is trying to kill you?”

Jesus: “I performed one work and all of you are amazed because of it.”

Stare at that for just a bit. See John 7:19ff. And this deadly death-mongering over-amazement in the all waaaaay toooo interesting Jesus was common. Can you think of other instances where Jesus is said to be possessed or delusional or paranoid, where He’s called names? It was common in His day. And it’s common today.

Here’s the deal: Jesus just said it like it was, and people said, effectively, “To hell with you, you damn preacher-man. We’re going to kill you. No one is trying to kill you! But we’re going to kill you.”

Interesting. Jesus is the most interesting Priest in the world. Kill Him!

Anyone who is at all trying to be at least a little bit faithful to the Most High should recognize this lockstep dynamic in his life and, because of that, in our lives.

I remember a scene at the Pontifical Josephinum Seminary up in Ohio some years ago when, sitting with a half dozen of the seminarians for lunch, someone asked a question which, to answer, I recounted an anecdote that went right to whatever point it was that was being made. Half-way through that historical account, one of the seminarians, to the embarrassment of the others, stood up and, with arms flailing, eyes wide, complained really quite loudly that this was all just too much, too impossible:

“No one can have that many experiences in his life. It’s just not possible. You’re making all that up.”

And here I thought that that particular account was really pretty boring, whatever it was. Anyway, off he went, effectively killing me off, so to speak. I then told the remaining seminarians something which I have repeated a thousand times to others:

“You’ll all have a wildly interesting life, from one moment to the next, if you are always faithful to goodness and kindness and justice and truth and mercy. If you don’t compromise Jesus, if you don’t spit on Him so as to think you are protecting yourselves in all of the damned if you do, damned if you don’t situations you will certainly come across almost on a daily basis, He will take care of you. There is always a third option besides compromising non-negotiables in one direction or the other. That third option is being faithful to Jesus.”

I mean, examples are rife, and can be had in daily rounds to Catholic hospitals for instance, all damned if you do, damned if you don’t situations, not because of doing anything special, but because others among one’s fellow priests have given in, compromised in non-negotiables of life and death, of goodness and kindness and justice and truth and mercy. “How dare you not compromise! How dare you simply do the right thing!”

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t situations are the usual fare that our fallen human nature puts before all and sundry who might simply be faithful to the Most High, such as Jesus and all the rest of us who are drawn to Him in friendship, knowing His forgiveness. That friendship puts an edge on all interactions, providing us with grace that we might be instantaneously indignant that we would be asked to compromise doctrine or morality for the reason that such compromise would be offensive to Mary’s Son, Jesus.

This is so true and it happens so frequently – quite a constant really – that one could easily blurt out with Jesus – “Why are you trying to kill me?” – to which exclamation, of course, the bewildered response would be: “You are delusional, paranoid, possessed! Who is trying to kill you?” And then they go on in their blurred existence to marginalize and damn whoever it is that is simply trying in some way to be faithful on the non-negotiables, such as goodness and kindness and justice and truth and mercy. One’s situational awareness comes to expect the worst while believing the best, an oft betrayed naivete in which one rejoices, the cause of laughter, you know, with Jesus, who loves the humor. Situational awareness concerning the damned if you do or don’t crowd is consonant with love:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 nab).

Situational awareness concerning the damned if you do or don’t crowd is consonant with light:

“The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be” (Matthew 6:22-23 nab).

But to the compromised, love and light seems to be delusional, paranoid, possessed, dark, suffering, distressed. Um…. no.

“But what do you do in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation? What do you do? What do you do? What do you do? This isn’t right! We’re entitled! We have rights! We’re… we’re… we’re… you know… us!”

There is always a third option. Be faithful to Jesus. And then rejoice that you are said to be delusional, paranoid, possessed.

For myself, I never would have had any care about damned if you do or don’t situations, ever, in life, had I just compromised, had I just ignored situations. But that is soooo boring. I would rather have a wildly interesting life following the most interesting High Priest ever, Jesus, Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, who will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire, delusional, paranoid and possessed that He is. Amen. Hah!

There are many times that commiserators or Job’s friends would think are occasions of distress and sorrow and darkness and confusion, but don’t realize the enthusiasm and joy by which one stands next to Jesus, gaping with Him at whatever damned if you do or don’t situation has come up on whatever given day, and then elbow Jesus in the ribs (watch out for the wound though), and ask Him how He’s going to deal with this most absolutely impossible situation, only to watch Him ably turn the tables, every time. Every time.

I remember one particularly absolutely impossible situation and, with a smirk, was doing just this, asking Jesus how He was going to deal with this situation, thinking this was wonderful entertainment which He was happy to provide. He’s always the one and only Priest, happy to be the Priest for us in whatever situation should we want Him to be there. But this was an absolutely impossible situation. Hah! I was really enjoying it. What happened is that the person forcing the impossible situation implicated himself (a bishop of a far-away place, actually), smacking himself down, and then cleared the way to a solution in which the angels could rejoice. And you don’t want to offend angels! I am amazed to this day, but not tooooo amazed. Jesus is the One. He’s the only One. It’s all about Him, He who is delusional, paranoid, possessed. Thank you, Jesus.

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Re-post: Francis the Lutheran certainly to the left, and “Fr.” George Byers, “Novus Ordo Priest,” not quite right

POPE FRANCIS FATHER BYERS MOCKED

[[Originally published December 6, 2015. I’m re-posting this for the sake of my Internet Stalker guy. Heh heh heh…]]

I’m happy to be mocked with you, Holy Father, all for the Year of Mercy.

Sometimes I’ll follow links to Arise! Let us be going! back the blogs/websites that put them up. This picture is from a sede-vacantist site. They did a photoshop of Pope Francis, making him into a Lutheran Pastor, since they think he is neither the Bishop of Rome nor any kind of bishop. They found this picture of yours truly who knows where. It was from my time in the hermitage. At least it’s not the infamous chainsaw and crucifix picture! :¬) The vestments were made for me by some good ladies in a parish North of Toulouse when I was a chaplain in Lourdes. The seminarian taking this photo was cursing and cursing and cursing yet again, since the camera lens was no good, making for a shimmer effect he thought was most inappropriate in attempt after attempt. He’s right of course, unless that’s my guardian angel next to me!

But, seriously, “they say” I’m not a priest (note that scare quotes around “Fr.”, because I’m what they call a “Novus Ordo Priest”, and therefore invalidly ordained, they think). I didn’t even know there was such a creature as distinct from any other. I do know that the traditionalists at the Second Vatican Council, a small number, but they were there, wanted only two things to change in the entire liturgy, and both had to do with the ordination of a priest. They wanted the newly ordained priest, who has just concelebrated his ordination Mass (yes, that’s right, it’s said somewhat alta-voce so they can recite all the words of the Canon with the bishop) to drink from the Precious Blood (which he does not do in the “Tridentine rite”, and thus his “first Mass” truly is the next day), and they also wanted the ordinand to be anointed with Chrism, not merely, so to speak, with the oil of catechumens. So, not even Chrism… And there’s a silly story of how that came to be. I’ve written on that before. Does that all make “Novus Ordo Priest” ordinations more better, so to speak? Sigh…

Anyway, this “Novus Ordo Priest” was the one who reestablished the traditional Mass in Lourdes after a hiatus of many decades, celebrating Solemn High Mass for some 7 to 8,000 people in the Basilica of Saint Pius X, with weekly Sunday sung Masses in the Immaculate Conception (upper) Basilica. It was this “Novus Ordo Priest” who was the one to start up a course of traditional liturgy in the Pontifical Seminary in Columbus, Ohio, with “liturgy” referring not just to the Mass, but to Baptism, Marriage, Confession, Exorcism, etc. It was this “Novus Ordo Priest” who brought stability to the offering of the traditional Mass midway between Sydney and Melbourne. It was this “Novus Ordo Priest” who, as far as I know, came up with the Missionary of Mercy idea in regard to the regularization of the SSPX already six years ago, which would have worked in conjunction with extraterritorial properties, etc. It was this “Novus Ordo Priest” who… well, I could go on, but one gets the picture, so to speak.

As for Lutheran Pope Francis (according to these sede-vacantists), well, I am almost envious of this treatment. Why not put me in a Lutheran Pastor’s collar? I’m German Lutheran on my Dad’s mother’s side. And, as is noted on the sede-vacantist website, which is bereft of any sense of mirthful irony, I like to cite the Hier stehe ich thing. Why not picture me with some Jewish Pe’ot (my mom being of the Jewish race though with Catholic faith), or whatever? I feel left behind. Kicked to the peripheries. I don’t feel the love! So, from Saint Cyprian:

“Finally, the Apostle, speaking of charity, unites it with endurance and patience. Charity, he says, is always patient and kind; it is not jealous, is not boastful, is not given to anger, does not think evil, loves all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. He shows that charity can be steadfast and persevering because it has learned how to endure all things.

“And in another place he says: Bear with one another lovingly, striving to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. He shows that neither unity nor peace can be maintained unless the brethren cherish each other with mutual forbearance and preserve the bond of harmony by means of patience.”

Let me address these sede-vacantists directly: I’ll have to work on what Cyprian says. Join me. Saint Thomas Aquinas has it that there is no other motive for division in the faith than hatred. That really shocked me when I saw it, but, of course, it makes perfect sense. Thomas was perhaps the greatest interlocutor (dialogue master) in all that is interreligious (as in the Summa contra gentiles). And you hold us “Novus Ordo” crowd to be a different religion, don’t you?

I’m happy to be mocked with Pope Francis, but not happy that someone would want to mock anyone in the first place. So, finally, here’s my question to you guys on the sede-vacantist side of things. This is what I want to know, and this goes right to heart of the matter…

Is it not true that we’ve all crucified the Son of the Living God with our sin, original and otherwise? You. Me. All. And is it not true that the Son of the Living God redeemed all of us, though we are not all to be saved? The upshot of that is that we have to be a bit more serious about all this, don’t we? Otherwise, it is all a bunch of self-referential, self-congratulatory, Promethian, neo-Pelagian cleverness, all the one-up-man-ship with which Saint Paul got fed up. He did the same thing I did in this post, bragging away to no good end, except to show that all such bragging is useless as all is nothing if not done through, with and in Christ, instead of just for ourselves and those we try to impress.

There is one faith, one Lord, one baptism, as Pope Francis said, yes, in the Lutheran Church. It was Saint Augustine, was it not, who said that he was in anguish until all such separated brethren were back in the fold? He called them brothers. We are brothers, are we not?

Whatever I said about any Roman Pontiff going too far, such as Sixtus V, my hero (a statement I don’t retract, by the way: see the Hier stehe ich thing), but I must say that I’ve learned a great deal from Pope Francis. He has shaken me to the very core of my being in these past weeks. I think I understand him now. I’ll be getting to that in some other posts about Matthew 16 and 18 and absolute truth. I think you’ll be interested.

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Holy Mass for Father Gordon J MacRae, for Max, for other prisoners

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M.D. has started to regularly send in a couple of Mass stipends a month with the intention being for Father Gordon J MacRae, for Pornchai Maximilian Moontri and for the other prisoners with them. I’ve been offering those Masses for them. I wouldn’t want to take more than that in favor of respecting the Mass intentions we already have in the parish. Right at the start I had asked Father Gordon whether or not I should send those on to him, but he said that he only had just a few opportunities a month to offer Mass and wanted to be free to offer those Masses for specific intentions he has in mind. Anyway, one way or another, Holy Mass is offered for the intention intended.

P.S. Regarding that picture above – I forget who put that up on the internet (they should be commended for staging this) – I have to say that it has freaked out a number of people, including a seminarian preparing to recite the consecrations at Mass as a priest of Jesus. This is exactly what happens.

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Fr Byers is escaping his priesthood

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Seen a gazillion feet up along the top of the mountain chain roads on Communion Calls. It’s all so very beautiful that it must be an escape from reality!

As long time readers know, I remain always fascinated with Mountain Life, perhaps because I feel at home, perhaps because I grew up this way. I love everything about nature, and I love that Jesus goes after all of us everywhere who have a fallen human nature, whether in city or country, on whatever continent in whatever culture or language or politics. What’s there that is not priestly about wanting to be part of that in whatever way in whatever place? But that bit about escaping the real drama of the priesthood is the judgment I hear frequently enough from some priests and some laity, that I am somehow misplaced in this paradise, that I have unused and even buried talents, blah, blah, blah. It is to laugh.

I wonder if the attitude behind such statements betrays a certain prejudice against those who live in these backsides of the beyonds. The locals are absolutely amazing, each a treasure in God’s eyes, entirely having histories with which I am already familiar with coming from a place very much like here. All the good things. All the bad. And those who are not local, oh my, so many of them I wouldn’t say are somehow more special, but so many of them do have rather, shall we say, unique backgrounds, having some of the most unique talents one would ever find anywhere, including all that which regards science, communications, military, intelligence services, finance and, yes, crime at very refined and very non-refined levels.

So, if it’s the not the area, not the locals, not the transplants, then what would it be that would have people say frequently enough that I am somehow escaping my priesthood or, diversely, that I am misplaced? Perhaps it is the opposite of what people might themselves expect.

Here’s the deal: I love it here, as I love being a priest everywhere and in every way. Not all priests are like that and perhaps it is refreshing to see that, so refreshing that it is somehow held to be something special about yours truly as a priest, so much so that I must not really belong here because that attitude is so unusual and so useful. But, I protest, loving the priesthood is just the normal Father Joe Schmoe priest thing, isn’t it? Aren’t all priests to be that way? And isn’t that something that has to do not with any particular priest, particularly me, but with Jesus the High Priest Himself? He’s the One. He’s the only One.

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Peripheries are beautiful. Where are backsides of the beyonds? Violence?

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Gorgeous! Stecoah Gap, just one of the places where the Appalachian Trail crosses a major, that is, actual two lane road[!] somewhere in the backsides of the beyonds in one of the three counties of my parish. Within living memory, what is today a two hour trip here, say, from the greater metropolitan Asheville, would take, back in the day, many days or even a week or two of grueling travel on a one lane, merely oil sprayed gravel road everywhere destroyed by tree roots bringing it up and pot holes and total washouts bringing it down. Even in my tenure at this parish in our own time I learned the advantages of carrying a chainsaw with me, having used it on seven different occasions to remove trees from the roads in the middle of nowhere with no cellphone signal available. Three different roads I travel regularly have been totally taken out with multiple landslides or have been buried with landslides. One of them, still closed, needs the entire mountainside to be secured. That’ll take a good year or so.

Visiting priests tell me that they appreciate the beauty. They also tell me that, in their opinion, almost no priest would ever want to be here, that is, in the imagined opinion of those straw men, about as far away as is physically possible from everything and everyone. Maybe “big” parishes have a draw, I don’t know, as in power or ladder climbing, or money, being someone. Of course, I wouldn’t want to put that judgment on my fellow priests. Those are, again, all straw men. I’m guessing that what they would really be saying is about greater opportunities for service. But what someone actually does is, of course, arbitrary, regardless of where they are. I can’t imagine not loving everything about the mystical body of Christ wherever our Lord is to be found.

At any rate, having grown up in the backsides of the beyonds in the North Woods of Minnesota I feel right at home. Here’s a google map image of my stomping grounds. Long time readers might guess that it is across this body of water that I was the target of incoming rifle fire on multiple occasions with perhaps a dozen shots or so on each occasion (all 300 yards), not far from where our entire family was shot at a half dozen times with I’m guessing just bird-shot bbs of shotguns, the distances starting at just 200 feet and ending at 350 feet, firstly in the trees above us, then right at us. The spray was then hitting us, but we were far enough away that there was no penetration. But you could feel it hit through Winter coats. My mom was hit in the head a couple of times. “Ow! Ouch!” she exclaimed. But she did have a polyester hat on, typical of that time. My dad said, “Don’t run, just keep walking really quickly.” A psychological ploy. For my part, I turned and faced our attackers, saying that I was going to go and deal with them right then and there, with no weapon. I was only twelve years old. My dad insisted that that was a really bad idea.

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Hey! Just like big cities! So, where are the peripheries, in the country or in the city? Cities can be glimmering, shining. The country can be stunningly entrancing. Pope Francis speaks of the darkest of existential peripheries. Where are those?

Here’s the deal: People are the same at any time, in any place, in any culture. All need the goodness and kindness and truth of the Lord Jesus. Just like me.

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“Jesus Confesses” – Giving my cynical Internet Stalker profiler guy a chance to come clean with the mafia

Jesus confesses

This was a gift from the artist who wants to remain anonymous. So, I’ll claim the copyright on this, lest it be misused to hurt the Church. (C) 2018 George David Byers. Hey! Note the flag of Saint George!

I have much to say about the above drawing. I’ll bide my time. I have to rush off to do some Missionary of Mercy stuff.

For now, I’ll leave you with some words of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who is a canonized saint. And then some words of Hilaire Belloc. And then an invitation regarding some Racketeering and Corrupt Organizations (RICO).

“Jesus is the Word Made Flesh. Jesus is the Bread of Life. Jesus is the Victim offered for our sins on the Cross. Jesus is the Sacrifice offered at the Holy Mass. For the sins of the world and mine. Jesus is the Hungry, to be fed. Jesus is the Thirsty, to be satiated. Jesus is the Drunkard, to listen to him. Jesus is the Drug Addict, to befriend him. Jesus is the Prostitute, to remove from danger and befriend” (Mother Teresa: Meditation in the Hospital [summary]).

To put it in the words of Saint Paul: Jesus became sin for us.

Anyway, on to the irony without which there is no Christianity:

“To the young, the pure, and the ingenuous, irony must always appear to have a quality of something evil, and so it has, for […] it is a sword to wound. It is so directly the product or reflex of evil that, though it can never be used – nay, can hardly exist – save in the chastisement of evil, yet irony always carries with it some reflections of the bad spirit against which it was directed. […] It suggests most powerfully the evil against which it is directed, and those innocent of evil shun so terrible an instrument. […] The mere truth is vivid with ironical power […] when the mere utterance of a plain truth labouriously concealed by hypocrisy, denied by contemporary falsehood, and forgotten in the moral lethargy of the populace, takes upon itself an ironical quality more powerful than any elaboration of special ironies could have taken in the past. […] No man possessed of irony and using it has lived happily; nor has any man possessing it and using it died without having done great good to his fellows and secured a singular advantage to his own soul.” [Hilaire Belloc, “On Irony” (pages 124-127; Penguin books 1325. Selected Essays (2/6), edited by J.B. Morton; Harmondsworth – Baltimore – Mitcham 1958).]

Now, for RICO and my Internet Stalker guy: I need some help, some advice, and you really a quite clever. Prove your good faith. Help me figure out how to bring about in a way that actually might work for all involved what Pope Francis wants to do with the medicinal penalty of automatic / declared excommunication for the RICO crowd.

  • How do you move from a State conviction to an excommunication, you know, legitimately?
  • How do you have, say, Missionaries of Mercy, lift declared excommunications and absolve crimes without making penitents and the Missionaries of Mercy into targets because, you know, they know too much? I would hate to leave this to anyone else either in Rome or in whatever local church as becoming a target should be a volunteer mission (as in Missionaries of Mercy).
  • How does one sweep for listening devices, it being that the FBI, CIA, DEA, BATFE, DOJ, et alii, really really really would like to listen in on such confessions and have been known to bug confessionals previously (twice that I know of in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York)? This being for undeclared excommunications.

Just to say, the Italian Military liaison to the Holy See actually invited me to be appointed to a parish in Southern Italy admitting to the possible bugging of my Confessional in that parish for the purpose of going after the RICO crowd, admitting as well that if I didn’t play the game of absolving a local mafia guy by insisting he first go into hiding elsewhere I would most likely be shot right through the confessional screen by that mafia guy who was simply using the confessional to put the local priest (to whom all things come) under the seal of confession.

Here’s the deal. Interest has been growing in this topic of late in and around D.C. and North-East Virginia. I’m guessing something has been put in front of Pope Francis. I’m guessing he wants to present something to the Missionaries of Mercy after Easter this year. I’m guessing it will be insufficient. I’m guessing I would like to work something up a bit more nuanced from the confessor’s angle and send this in beforehand.

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Jesus goes to Confession

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A very sweet, nice image from, I think, the Baltimore Catechism. Fine. There is some correct theology there. Good. Jesus is making happen what He commanded His Apostles and their successors in Holy Orders to do. Great. But there is more.

Here’s another image, more recent, which emphasizes that the priest is acting in Persona Christiin the Person of Christ, for the absolution of sins:

confession jesus

That’s um… nice too. I like it. But, well, sheesh… there is so much more to what is happening in Confession that people really should realize, so that they have more of a sense of how deeply and completely they are forgiven even if their fallen human emotions still weigh them down with a guilt which isn’t there (which is a cross we sometimes carry, a cross which we are commanded to carry by Jesus, a cross which doesn’t hold us back spiritually, just the opposite).

I would like to see an image, a line-drawing say – even from someone thinking they have no talent for drawing faces, hands and such – of Jesus going to Confession to a priest, and perhaps in a more traditional Catholic setting, something like the photo below, but with an adult Jesus, with His wounds, going to Confession to the priest:

confession sacrament

Here’s the deal: Jesus walked among us so that He could stand in our place (or kneel in our place, or be crucified in our place), the Innocent for the guilty, so that He would have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us. Effectively, He was taking our place, not only for original sin but for all of our personal sins, however hidden, however embarrassing, however shameful, confessing them, as it were, as if those sins were His own sins: “I did this…. I said that… I thought the other thing… I omitted doing…” And, by the way, Jesus got a penance, a big one, being tortured to death, the Innocent for the guilty. And He did His penance. Why? Because He really does, in fact, indeed, love us.

To be Christian we have to have a sense of what to us in this world seems to be such biting irony,  mercy being founded on justice, mercy and justice being one in God. Otherwise, we are a train-wreck:

  • Mere mercy cut off from noticing the above mentioned justice brings us instantaneously to the darkest of existential states of cynicism and doubt.
  • Mere justice which doubts even the possibility of mercy is a crushing darkness throwing us into the most existential peripheries of dark bitterness.

We’re just not strong enough to bear such horror, as it is untruth, for mercy is founded on justice and Jesus does bear the wounds which give Him the right in His own justice to have mercy on us. Does He love us? Does He forgive us? Yes.

Do we, in our weakness, want that our weakness goes away already in this world? Yes. And it doesn’t happen because, in justice, we have to suffer all the effects of original sin, even while carrying the grace of Christ within us, while we are in this world. To be free of the effects of original sin we have to be in heaven, where there will be no more weakness of mind, weakness of will, emotions all the hell over the place, no more sickness, no more death. Jesus isn’t going to throw away justice, for then He would also be throwing away mercy. Jesus instead lets all our weakness teach us how to be in humble thanksgiving to Jesus. Jesus doesn’t want that we beat ourselves up. He wants that we accept the forgiveness, but as mercy founded on justice. It is hurtful to have false expectations, as in “no more weakness in this world,” “no more cross,” “a method of salvation I came up with so that I can ditch that dumb Jesus with His dumb mercy founded on His dumb justice.” But, as said in the bulleted points above, that leads to an impossibly heavy, crushing darkness which throws us into the most impossible self-made peripheries, having us think we are outsiders. No. That’s not the way. Jesus is the Way. He’s the only Way. Jesus is the One. He’s the only one.

Let’s watch Him, let’s listen to Him confess all our sins. Let’s watch Him do His penance for us. We imposed our misery on ourselves. Jesus doesn’t like that. He came among us to take that misery away. We’ll see that especially in heaven. But we can already get a sense of His love for us here, even amidst all the chaos within and without. It’s like Saint Therese said, it’s not necessarily a jump up and down peace, but a peace bound by love which enables us to go on. We gotta be little children. Little. Children. Look at Jesus, in wonder, as He confesses our sins.

I would love to have a line drawing of this, even one with little talent.

And more, how about a little boy or girl watching Jesus go to Confession, with mouth agape in thankful wonder and surprise and joy.

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Filed under Confession, Irony, Jesus, Missionaries of Mercy, Priesthood, Vocations

Caving to my Internet Stalker extortion deadline. Arise! Let us be going! Look, my betrayer is at hand!

gethsemane sleeping apostles

Here are some snipits of some missives from my Internet Stalker guy:

“I shall soon stop writing to you. But before I do I would be grateful if you would be so kind as to correct your statement that you attributed to me. Saying that I said ‘all priests should resign in protest at Pope Francis’. You know I never said that. This is a false allegation and I would request that you withdraw it. If you refuse to correct that statement then I shall consider my next step which is to […] I give you one week to correct the injustice of your false statement.”

First of all, I don’t know who you are, Mr Internet Stalker guy. It’s pretty brave of you to make demands by way of extortion with your “next step” when you don’t even identify yourself. How can you be offended when you don’t even say who you are?

And, previously:

“You said that I said all priests should resign in protest at pope Francis. Now why would you say that? You know it is a lie. Why would you lie? You know I never said that. Are you used to lieing?”

I like that spelling of “lying” by this super-intelligent guy, who writes “lieing” so as to emphasize the word. He’s trying to speak both to the Apostles sleeping (in context, as we’ll see) and to untruth. Anyway, we continue, and this time he is denying he could be the Internet Stalker guy. Going back in time with his comments:

“Your stalker guy must be very bad to demand that priests should resign in protest at pope Francis. Who would suggest such an evil notion?”

Who indeed? We continue, going back to his original demand (though not his first comment by far) that all priests in good standing resign in protest against Pope Francis. Let’s see what he says. I’m skipping the parts in which he attacks Pope Francis since error has no rights and my Internet Stalker as an Internet Stalker has no rights. [My comments in red]:

“Hi, I have read a bit about about your background. This helps me in making comments. I should be more understanding. You were probably born after Vatican II. [That’s just baiting. Instead, see: My Internet Stalker Guy apparently doesn’t know this about Jesus and me. Anyway, I find it interesting that he doesn’t say that he’s read my entire blog since inception, which would be assumed to be the case in regard to an Internet Stalker guy, but rather that he’s read about my background, which assumes other sources of information. That I find most interesting. It really is quite revealing.] So you have no idea how far the Church has drifted from its core ethos. [He speaks of the Church as no longer being in touch with “its (sic) core ethos,” thus revealing himself to be a heretic. “Ethos” refers to mere human custom. And that is exactly what some of his comments reflect. But, instead, the Church as the Church is always the Immaculate Bride of Christ. Period. If you can’t distinguish between some in-name-only members of the Church and The Church, or between some non-infallible dialogue and ex-Cathedra pronouncements, you are just another hypocritical protéstant.] Nevertheless. It is a fact that Francis is changing Church dogma, which he has no right to do. [My Internet Stalker, heretic that he is, claims that Pope Francis can actually change the doctrine of the Church, change the truth, which the Pope has not done. The Pope has spoken about “dialogue” which is not teaching. That the Pope cannot change dogma (if he did he would make himself God, but God cannot change the truth either) is a matter of faith essential to being Catholic. It’s called infallibility.] […] Tell yourself I’m right. [Umm… No. Your tantrums do not the truth make. Might does not make right.] You are leading the good life as a pastor. [Wow. What sarcasm about Jesus who would have his priests be pastors. This is hatred of Jesus and the Church. So, I’ll say this: I do love being a priest. But that’s not what he especially means. He wants priests to resign in protest against Pope Francis. For my Internet Stalker, priests in public ministry in good standing are necessarily hypocrites because to remain in public ministry means that one has not made enough waves so as to be forced to make a resignation or worse. That’s the only honest thing to do for the Internet Stalker guy as we’ll soon see.] But are you really, really following Christ? Are you not just swimming with the tide? Why don’t you support Fr Wineandy? [Father Weinandy was forced to resign. And, at any rate, I have supported Father Weinandy, and this guy has researched this if we are to believe him. See: Father Thomas Weinandy: Thank you! Hoping Pope Francis reinstates you, a post which I’ve written about at some length here: My internet stalker’s impossible litmus test: damned if I do, damned if I don’t. So, obviously, supporting Father Weinandy is not enough. Resignation in protest against Pope Francis by all priests in good standing in active ministry is the only way for my Internet Stalker.] Are you looking for a comfortable life?. Are you like the Apostles who when Christ returned the third time found them still sleeping? Are you sleeping like them? [If you think he’s being a bit repetitive here, it’s for a reason. He’s reminding me of the title of my blog, which are the words of Christ in reprimand to the sleeping Apostles: “Arise! Let us be going!” My Internet Stalker guy is making me out to be some sort of Judas for still being in public ministry and loving being a priest, purposely continuing to sleep, as it were, making me not just a drowsy Apostle, but Judas himself. My Internet Stalker guy doesn’t realize that the words which immediately follow this admonition of Christ to the Apostles are about Judas: “Look! My betrayer [Judas] is at hand.” My Internet Stalker guy makes himself the voice of Christ, Christ Himself. But it is Judas who makes himself Christ by raising his heel against Jesus as Jesus said at the Last Supper. But Jesus is the one to crush the head of Satan with His heel. But Judas thinks that Christ is Satan. Meanwhile, Judas is possessed by Satan at the Last Supper. The ironies are rife.] Don’t defend or support a bad Pope [Such commands! I guess for my Internet Stalker guy the Pope is the High Priest paying off Judas whom he supposes to be me if I keep on sleeping on purpose:] just because he was nice to you.” [So, I’m to direct my priestly efforts against Pope Francis until I am forced to resign in protest against Pope Francis. Otherwise, I’m to be condemned as a hypocrite, a sycophant, someone looking for thirty pieces of silver, for the Pope to be nice to me. If you didn’t know, hypocrites and sycophants, who for the sake of human respect effectively deny Christ will be denied by Christ and condemned to hell. But, perhaps, now, in stepping back from all of this, perhaps Judas and my Internet Stalker are the same. After all, he wants to effectively kill me off, and this is, in fact, what his threat is all about, to effectively kill me off. Not with blood mind you. But he’s stated his other means to do this, to take me out by other means, indirectly, but effectively, his extortion.]

In another place my Internet Stalker speaks of supporting the office of the papacy but not the Pope. But this is also a heresy, for the office is founded on the very person of the Pope. What that means is not that the Pope can be fallible regarding dogma, the claim of my Internet Stalker, nor that I would necessarily support some claim made by the Pope that is in itself not a dogmatic assertion but a mere volley in a mere dialogue. What I mean by the ways and means of infallibility is that the Person of the Pope, by divine intervention, will not survive in whatever way an attempt made by the Pope to change the doctrine of the Church (as Pope Benedict has so eloquently laid out for us). To pray for the Pope, to defend his person, is always a good thing, but supporting the Pope is precisely what is forbidden by my Internet Stalker.

If anyone wants to know what I think about Papal Infallibility, all you have to do is read what I wrote about it with extreme precision: Papal Infallibility: The Gospel Truth (Matthew 16:19 and Matthew 18:18)

And if anyone wants to know what Pope Francis thinks about Papal Infallibility, all you have to do is read what I wrote about that with extreme precision: Pope Francis gets it right about Absolute Truth

I find the ranting of my Internet Stalker against the person of the Pope to be rather interesting in the wake of the shot over the bow, the assassination of Pope Francis’ incredibly competent “Front of House” receptionist and the child in her womb at the time of Italy’s gay union/marriage referendum the other year.

If my Internet Stalker is who I think he is (a self-admitted contraceptor or by the way), whether a guy in politics, whether someone tasked with profiling, I’d say he’d better know that he is now being profiled by others in politics, by others who supervise such profiling. This goes doubly if my Internet Stalker guy is just your run of the mill average Joe Schmoe.

My suggestion to my Internet Stalker guy is this: even though I’ve fulfilled your extorted demand abundantly in this post and already in others, go ahead and do what you threatened to do anyway. But make sure to associate your actions with your full name and plenty of other distinguishing, unmistakable, inescapable identifiers so that what you intend to do can be traced back to you personally by those who do such tracing for a living. So far, you’ve revealed only that you are a coward, hiding behind pseudonyms. Typical. And note that I have baited you pretty intensely so as to find out who you are, and that is certainly the right of the victim of stalking.

I call you friend, Mr Stalker guy. Christ Jesus also called His betrayer friend, but He also let Judas hang himself. I’d rather you not do that, Mr Stalker Guy. I’d rather you find out that you are not Christ Jesus. I’d rather you find out that Christ Jesus is the One, the only One. I’d rather you come out of the darkest of existential peripheries and know what it means to be a true friend of the Most High. I’d rather you pray for and support Pope Francis.

Arise! Let us be going! Look, my betrayer is at hand!

P.S. As a side note to all this silliness I should provide some background to the title of this blog. It came about when a previous blog (holysoulshermitage) was forced to be shut down altogether by someone in Rome who was offended by the hard truth that he saw there. At the time, I had requested to do some writing after many years of pastoral ministry all over the world, as well as many, many years of academia and teaching all over the world. Being a hermit (really a hermit, with no income other than gifts) by request has its difficulties. Being silenced by a bully immeasurable adds to those difficulties. I not infrequently took to finding culinary delights in unexpected places:

DUMPSTER DIVING

I’ve done that flip many times. I was really good at it. It’s like an extreme sport. I love extreme sports ever since I was a kid. So, mind you, I’m not complaining!

At the time, it was a quiet time. The providence of God, really. Perhaps His permissive will, but He arranged it all. There were some difficult times. But it was mostly a happy time. Especially because I was able to write something about the Immaculate Conception, and for that I’m grateful to Jesus and His dear Mother. What I wrote is the gem of my life, and that was their gift to me, especially at that time.

It is this…

which is based off of this…

Anyway, His Holiness intervened on my behalf. No more dumpsters. It is this favor which my Internet Stalker has pointed out in his missives, precisely this favor which has set the sights of my Internet Stalker against me. I guess he wants me back in dumpsters. Remember what he commanded me?… “Don’t defend or support a bad Pope just because he was nice to you.” But if I was back in a dumpster, perhaps I could write more on our Lady. At any rate, this bitterness of my Internet Stalker is especially interesting in that the one and only thing my Internet Stalker has commented on in a positive way about me regards my disagreement with the policy that does not afford due process to priests. But even with that he says that he was only beginning to think I was right. After all, he affords me no due process: I am guilty of supporting the person of Pope Francis and after that all is lost and I’m hopeless. I’m beginning to think that my Internet Stalker is the one who had me silenced to begin with for the very reason that I support due process for priests. That was precisely, exactly what the silencing was about at the time. Interesting.

At any rate, I’ll tell you this: I would rather live in a dumpster and be faithful to Jesus (and write about Mary) than to do the wrong thing and go to hell. It seems this Internet Stalker guy has been playing the vulture overhead, surveying my blogging for very many years indeed, waiting to take revenge for my promotion of due process for priests like Father Gordon MacRae (About, at TheseStoneWalls). Interesting.

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By the way, there are many, many other things I have not commented on regarding the missives of my Internet Stalker guy for the reason that if I did, I would fear attorneys of some rather strident ultra-traditional-ism-ists who seem to think that they somehow stand in the very place of Sacred Tradition and so are ready to litigate anyone who crosses their paths. Not because I’m afraid of them, but I’m busy being a priest. The Internet Stalker guy is a distraction which he will have to answer for. Yet, I have to take care of him as one of my flock as well. He volunteered to be part of my flock. Am I not to search out the sheep who are in the darkest of existential peripheries?

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Filed under Missionaries of Mercy, Pope Francis, Priesthood, Vocations