From the Novus Ordo Sacramentary (Altar Missal) above, and from the Novus Ordo Lectionary below.
So, which is it, a feast celebrating on the same day two of the Papal Basilicas in Rome, of Saint Peter on Vatican Hill and of Saint Paul Outside the Walls [Yes], or is this about the dedication of the more modern EUR Basilica named after both Saint Peter and Saint Paul? [No]. But we do see these two statues or copies of these great saints juxtaposed, the one of Peter the other of Paul, both at basilicas named for both or named just for one or the other.
The combination in the same liturgical feast has the same effect. One might think that this is to express the universality of evangelistic outreach, Peter for the Jews and Paul for the Gentiles. Granted. But there is more. Remember this rather unusual icon of friendship between the two?
The reason to emphasize friendship is because this is consequent to Paul rightly smashing Peter down to the ground:
“When Cephas [=Rock=Peter (how ironic)] came to Antioch, however, I [Paul] opposed him to his face, because he stood to be condemned” (Galatians 2:11).
Basically, Peter had insisted on the circumcision, basically saying to hell with redemption by Christ Jesus.
The friendship of Peter and Paul, and the sine qua non as to why Peter continued to be a true Apostle for the Jews and the sine qua non as to why Paul continued to be an Apostle for the Gentiles is that Paul followed the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to severely reprimand the traitorous Peter, and then Peter followed the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to accept the reprimand of Paul.
If Paul didn’t make the reprimand he himself would have gone to hell and dragged Peter with him.
If Peter didn’t accept the reprimand he himself would have gone to hell in an attempt to drag the Church with him.
But Paul rejoiced to see the acceptance of his reprimand to Peter, and Peter rejoiced to accept the reprimand from Paul. Thus the joyful embrace: what a relief.
This particular joy of helping each other out in God’s grace is so very Catholic. This is what we do. Without us helping each other, pointing each other to Jesus, we all go to hell.
Be Catholic. Reprimand someone in the charity of justice. Be justly reprimanded by someone’s charity.
I’m guessing that this guy is a good 4 centimeters, just over 1.5 inches long. He didn’t let me get too close, but I swear I saw the bits pictured at the center bottom of the chart below, the pigeon tremex character. The markings, however, are not similar. But I’m in Western North Carolina, in the Smoky Mountains, not in Washington State. The center white dot is a reflection of the sun on the hard shell.
I’m always, always fascinated by the good creation of our Good Creator. And that doesn’t make me an ecoterrorist, or a green-party wild man, but rather one who sees the Creator also through His Creation.
Saint Paul in his epistle to the Romans, the famous chapter one, and then chapter two, speaks of this for us. Read it!
Meanwhile, here in Western North Carolina, in the back ridges of Appalachia, it’s a paradise: praise God!
Some don’t seem to see it at all, trashing up everything everywhere, shooting up heroin, taking meth and Fentanyl, beating on each other – even decapitations – loving the power of cynicism.
But many do see, as it were, God through His Creation, bringing to the fore the living memory of the first creation only through the living memory of the second creation: “Do this in memory of me…”
Once we have the second, we can get to the first, but then realize that it’s all even better:
O felix culpa quae talem et tantum meruit habere redemptorem.
O happy fault which merited such a great Redeemer.
Want a good read of just a few pages? Try Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger’s address to the USCCB in 1991:
As church leaders punt away their responsibilities to teach and lead and risk all in witness to Christ, the laity are bidden to follow their own conscience regardless of what the actual moral analysis of anything happens to be. That’s already a moral heresy, that conscience is unleashed to the relativism of an individual, whereby they pick and choose whose moral authority they will learn from, whether that be Christ Jesus or, diversely, CNN.
Having done that, when pressed anyway, analysis from some specious group of self-congratulating moralists or talk show talking heads will be called in to the rescue of the ever present and pernicious modus operandi of being “men of consensus” with the world’s secular governments and their ever to be feared ecclesiastical puppets.
Those with Styrofoam souls will say that getting the vaccine is entirely moral, that opinions on one side or the other are on the same level as opinions on global warming, and that we all need to be welcoming. Look, to be welcomed into heaven we have to do the will of God, keeping His commandments, such as “DO NOT MURDER.”
When pressed, they will add all the academic vocabulary impressive to those wanting an excuse and who have chosen not to think about the purposed murder of the children involved, purposely tested to be absolutely healthy and absolutely perfectly developed and viable, so that then, in sterile conditions of, say, a pharmaceutical laboratory, the the living organs of the living child are removed for research and/or development and/or testing.
In their sophistic academic vocabulary they will speak about merely “remote cooperation with evil”, but nothing is remote about this. God holds all of time in His hands. All is present before Him. And the babies own living cells are still multiplying through the years. That’s NOT the past. And anyway, time is not the referent for the term “remote”.
In their sophistic academic vocabulary they will speak about merely “material” cooperation in the murder. But “material” cooperation would be like paving a street past a pharmaceutical laboratory that is murdering children. The paver likely has no idea. This is NOT that.
And now we come to the heart and soul of this murder which they rationalize with such glib arrogance, sweet smiles on their faces. They say that cooperation it is not formal cooperation when one receives a “vaccine.” But it is instead true that such a purposed murder makes anyone who is a willing recipient of “benefits” of that murder into a murderer himself. Why’s that? Because the only reason for that murder was for the profit of pharmaceutical companies and the “benefit” of recipients of whatever “vaccine.” There is no double-effect theory by which a directly and intrinsically evil act such as murdering the innocent is to equivocated with some kind of proportionalism or some kind of situation ethics. Doing evil that good may come from it is entirely condemned. See Romans 3:8 – “Why not say – as some slanderously claim that we say – ‘Let us do evil that good may result’? … Their condemnation is just!”. Just because Jesus redeemed us all, and please God saved some of us, that doesn’t mean that Caiaphas was honorable to say that it is better that one Innocent Man die than that the whole nation perish. Let’s those words sink in for future reference: “Justly condemned.”
Look, the moral analysis on this is not rocket science. It is not complex. Those who abscond from their responsibilities to appear politically correct, as men of consensus, as those who are sophisticated and clever, above the fray, better than those stupid pro-lifers, those stupid believers in Jesus, they will have their lies and deceits front and center for them at the judgment. They won’t be able to hide behind any other murderers. They will face the very children they helped to murder. They will face Mary, with Jesus in her womb. Stare at that picture up top. No, really. It may save your eternal soul. ➔ Go to Confession.
/// UPDATE: A distant and sometimes-reader of this blog made a comment on this post which I place here to give it emphasis. It was quite short:
Where is the mercy?
To which, in answer, I respond, in an equal amount of words:
See the last sentence.
It might be hard to see that that’s where mercy is to be found. It might be obnoxious for us to look to Jesus for mercy when it is Jesus image that is being ripped out of the womb for the “vaccines”. With repentance, one may indeed approach Jesus in the Tribunal of Mercy. All things being equal, Jesus provides mercy. Jesus forgives. All things being equal means that there has to also be a firm purpose of amendment: no “boosters”, no more killing of kids for “vaccines.”
In his General Wednesday Audience of 1 September 2021, Pope Francis spoke about the second chapter of Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, you know, about the precept of circumcision first given to Abraham. For twenty five years Abraham was not our Father in Faith, disbelieving all that time that God could give him his own son with his own wife. Then Isaac happened, and later the angel staying his arm. Abraham became a believer. But in punishment for all those years of unbelieving, of laughing at God’s promise of life, Abraham and those of the family of faith after him would have to undergo a pedagogical punishment reminding them to be open to life, a painful, graphic, disgusting punishment: circumcision. This was meant to be an occasion with which, and with God’s grace, that they could assent to having a humble, contrite heart, having their hearts circumcised, as St Paul puts it.That pedagogy of circumcision was valid only until the time when the Messiah, the Divine Son of the Living God, the God of Life, would come among us and lay down His life for us Innocent for the guilty, so that He might have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us. Jesus Himself was circumcised as a babe and then also His heart when the soldier thrust his sword into that Sacred Heart, when the very Temple was circumcised, the veil of the Holy of Holies being torn from top to bottom by the angels.
That God is the God of Life is never more evident than when the Messiah dies on the cross undergoing a painful, graphic, disgustingly brutal punishment, paying the price of our sin from Adam until the last man is conceived. Nothing can teach us better about punishment for sin, about the aptness of contrition for sin. To insist on disgusting mere circumcision as a better sign than Jesus Himself on the Cross – and then rising from the dead – is blasphemy, condemning those who do this.
Insisting on circumcision is exactly what Peter does, after the death and resurrection of the Lord:
“When Cephas [Peter] came to Antioch, I [Paul] opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.” (Galatians 2:11)
“Condemned…” Quite the strong language, that: ὅτι κατεγνωσμένος ἦν. But Peter had flipped, uselessly, hypocritically siding with those insisting on circumcision despite the Lamb of God already having been sacrificed for us so as to bring us to life. His political correctness stood condemned? “He stood condemned.” Paul reprimanded Peter as an act of charity for Peter and the whole Church, and also to save his own soul. These days, with soft ecclesiastics brutally criticizing all criticism, even Paul’s act of charity in this reprimand of Peter is rejected with the attitude that we are never to help each other to stay on the right path. That “Be soft!” attitude is execrated by so many bishops right around the world, as if they wanted us all to go to hell and go there with us.
Distinctions, distinctions! Circumcision, though a precept the breaking of which would cut one off from the family of faith, is, however, not similar to the Ten Commandments. Circumcision, as mentioned above, was a mere pedagogical and merely temporary precept, however obligatory at the time, while the Ten Commandments are instead essentially reflective of our obligations before God and neighbor and those commandments are always in force for us as creatures of our Creator.
Any blurring of the lines here between commandments and a temporary precept is gravely misleading.
But also, any blurring of the lines is not meant to raise circumcision to the level of an always-valid-commandment, but rather to lower the Ten Commandments to the level of a merely passing precepts like circumcision, which had to give way to fulfillment with the God of Life hanging from the cross. There it is. Bam.
Here’s the deal: Francis speaks of not being scrupulous about precepts. But a Catholic must scrupulously reject circumcision if circumcision is chosen against belief in the redemption wrought by Christ Jesus.
But Francis is not concerned in the least with circumcision. Francis wants to draw an analogy with our own times with other… um… mere precepts?… mere commandments?… mere laws of praying and believing?… Lex orandi lex credendi?… Here’s just a minute of that:
See the transcript here: POPE FRANCIS GENERAL AUDIENCE Wednesday, 1st September 2021 Catechesis on the Letter to the Galatians: 7. Foolish Galatians Note that I’ve changed the translation. Whoever it is translating didn’t like to use the word “rigidity”, but that’s what Francis said repeatedly. That word “rigidity” is a technical word for him. He uses it against those who give religious assent to correct doctrine and correct morality and rejoice when the Holy Sacrifice of Jesus is offered with reverence and humility and joy and no idol worship. With real anger in his voice he condemns such RIGIDITY. Here’s the core paragraph:
“In this way, Saint Paul invites us too to reflect: how do we live our faith? Does the love of Christ, crucified and risen again, remain at the centre of our daily life as the wellspring of salvation, or are we content with a few religious formalities to salve our consciences? [This doesn’t seem to refer to, say, Amoris laetitia, but rather to the Liturgy.] How do we live our faith? Are we attached to the precious treasure, to the beauty of the newness of Christ, or do we prefer something that attracts us momentarily but then leaves us empty inside? [He wouldn’t be saying that the Sacrifice of Jesus does that, would he?] The ephemeral often knocks at the door during our days, but it is a sad illusion, which makes us give in to superficiality and prevents us from discerning what is truly worth living for. [Is that a reference to Genesis 4:7?] Brothers and sisters, let us however keep the certainty that, even when we are tempted to turn away, God still continues to bestow His gifts. Throughout history, even today, things happen that resemble what happened to the Galatians. Even today, people come and harangue us, saying, “No! Holiness is in these precepts, in these things, you must do this and that”, and propose a rigid religiosity, rigidity that takes away from us that freedom in the Spirit that Christ’s redemption gives us. Beware of the rigidity they propose to you: be careful. Because behind every rigidity there is something ugly, which is not the Spirit of God. [Yep. This seems to be about the Liturgy, specifically those who love the TLM. They are all monsters who are against Christ and against the Holy Spirit. These words of his are pretty much verbatim to his continuous condemnations of religious communities and seminaries and seminarians and priests and bishops who simply love the TLM.] And for this reason, this Letter [to the Galatians] will help us not to listen to these somewhat fundamentalist proposals that set us back in our spiritual life, and will help us go ahead in the paschal vocation of Jesus. [Because the TLM, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, specifically thwarts progress in the spiritual life and removes us from the paschal vocation of Jesus?] […]”
It would be bad enough if Francis were to equivocate the precept of circumcision and the Ten Commandments, but here he equivocated a temporary pedagogical precept of circumcision with the Traditional Latin Mass, not to bring circumcision up to the level of the Holy Sacrifice of Christ Jesus, but to lower that Law of Prayer to the level of that which can be fulfilled, surpassed. That is the heart and soul of Traditionis custodes. The Sacrifice of Jesus and the faith that went with it – doctrine and morality – is old, dead, forgotten, a hindrance, the enemy of all that is good and holy, ugly and, most of all, RIGID.
It would make it a lot easier to put up with all the insults from Pope Francis if bishops were to not be so scrupulous and would go ahead and make use of Canon Law 87. Hey! There’s an idea to fulfill the wish of Pope Francis that none of us be rigid!
Anyway, too much information, but not really: It was my family practice to have males circumcised right quickly after birth, meaning that yours truly is circumcised. And while I carry that pedagogical sign of punishment of unbelief in my body, it is my wish that circumcision of the heart – as Saint Paul says – would also be mine. Mind you, that would involve quite the solidarity of my heart with the Heart of Christ Jesus. His Sacred Heart was cut up by the sword of the soldier whilst He was yet on the Cross. We will all look on Him whom we have all pierced through. Cor ad Cor loquitur. Cor cum Cordis loquitur. Our hearts are restless until…
Unity with Christ is never out of date, and while His love and truth is ever ancient, it is also ever new. No one denies this. Everyone rejoices in this. We are happy to receive absolution of real sin. We are happy to witness to Christ regardless of the cost, you know, all that parrhresia.
Only in America would some kid think that wearing a dog collar would be privilege.
For those keyboard warriors wanting to tell me that that was merely humor, well, what I responded with is humor on top of the humor! Lighten up!
On a more serious note, there are those who can treat clergy as the scum of the earth, expendable for the sake of protecting their own little protected worlds. It is impossible, they think, that anything bad happens, ever.
I guess they also think that Saint Paul is a fool:
“We work hard with our own hands. When we are vilified, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer gently. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world. (1 Corinthians 4:12-13)
Paul waxes nostalgic about his time with the Lord Jesus…
“…in harder labor, in more imprisonments, in worse beatings, in frequent danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked. I spent a night and a day in the open sea. In my frequent journeys, I have been in danger from rivers and from bandits, in danger from my countrymen and from the Gentiles, in danger in the city and in the country, in danger on the sea and among false brothers, in labor and toil and often without sleep, in hunger and thirst and often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from these external trials, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not burn with grief? (2 Corinthians 11:24-28)
Saint Paul calls himself not merely a fool, but a fool for Christ’s sake. I know plenty of priests who would think that Paul is a fool for not being a man of consensus, that he foolishly brought all that upon himself. The real fools never once think about witnessing for Christ’s sake, that risking all for Jesus is impossible, and that anyone who does that is a fool. I see it, actually, all the time, especially when there is danger from false brethren. NO! they shriek. You’re just a fool.
Let’s turn to a post of yore about coats of arms. In that post, Cardinal Burke’s article on the newly elected Pope Benedict XVI is cited at length, emphasizing the joys of being a total jackass.
Recall that Saint Corbinian’s bear on the coat of arms of Benedict XVI was actually a donkey, that is, fulfilling the role of the donkey after he killed the donkey. Benedict called himself that “donkey”. No, really. A Pope who is a jackass. Luther, with great malice, called the Pope of the time a jackass. Benedict is from Germany. Anyway, see the outrageously wonderful 2005 article of Archbishop Raymond Burke about the newly elected Pope Donkey, Benedict XVI. And then, to those of you who are fuming mad and flinging the rest of us into hell in all the mortal sin you suppose I and Ratzinger and Burke are in for speaking of the papacy being filled with the likes of a jackass, to you I say, lighten up. Have some Christian mirth. Some irony. Rejoice! The Lord is good and kind. Again, I will say it: Rejoice! My coat of arms, breaking all the rules of heraldry, as any donkey might do, so far:
This recalls the Discalced Carmelite coat of arms:
I think Tom Clancy wrote on the etiquette of sword ceremonial. What is the military symbolism of the sword held high as with Elijah or with Saint Michael atop Castel Sant’Angelo who is sheathing his sword? What of ceremonial stuff, like the the sword being held straight up or pointed upward or straight down or pointed downward? Anyone?
Benedict XVI was Pope. Cardinal Burke could well be Pope soon. I’ll never be, but I’m happy to have a donkey on my coat of arms anyway! Just in case that article by Cardinal Burke disappears, I include the bit towards the end commenting on Pope Benedict XVI as being a Jackass:
[…] In his memoirs published in 1997, then-Cardinal Ratzinger commented on his life as a bishop, reflecting upon the image of the bear of St. Corbinian, founding bishop of Freising, the ancient see which is now the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, to which Cardinal Ratzinger was called to serve as archbishop. He relates the story to a meditation of St. Augustine on the text of verses 22 and 23 of Psalm 73 (72). St. Corbinian’s bear:
As the story goes, St. Corbinian was on his way to Rome when a bear attacked and killed his pack animal, his donkey. St. Corbinian rebuked the bear and placed the load of the donkey upon his back to carry to Rome. The story of the bear of St. Corbinian reminded the cardinal of St. Augustine’s meditation on the verses of Psalm 73 which he translates thusly: “A draft animal am I before you, for you, and this is precisely how I abide with you” (Psalm 73:22-23; Joseph Ratzinger, Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, page 155). The cardinal, like St. Augustine, had chosen the life of a scholar, but God called him to take up the burdens of the episcopal office, eventually serving the Holy Father as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He comments on the frustrations which St. Augustine experienced in dealing with the many practical concerns of a pastor of souls, when he had in mind to carry out great intellectual and spiritual works. The text of the psalm reminded the saint and reminded Cardinal Ratzinger that God chose to keep them close to Him by having them serve as His “draft animals,” carrying out the humble tasks of the pastoral office, rather than the exalted service which they had in mind for themselves. Relating the meditation of St. Augustine to the story of St. Corbinian’s bear, Cardinal Ratzinger comments: “Just as the draft animal is closest to the farmer, doing his work for him, so is Augustine closest to God precisely through such humble service, completely within God’s hand, completely His instrument.He could not be closer to his Lord or be more important to Him. The laden bear that took the place of St. Corbinian’s horse, or rather donkey — the bear that became his donkey against its will: Is this not an image of what I should do and of what I am?”A beast of burden have I become for you, and this is just the way for me to remain wholly yours and always abide with you” (Milestones, pages 156-157). Tonight, we thank God for Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, who has found his happiness in serving as Christ’s “donkey,” His “draft animal,” who has given his entire self to working humbly and steadfastly with Christ in the vineyard of the Father. When we see the image of the bear of St. Corbinian on his coat-of-arms, may we be reminded of how he has given and gives his life in service to Christ and His Church. Assisting our Holy Father with his burdens Conscious of the many and heavy burdens which our Holy Father carries, with Christ, for us, let us assist him, offering him the joy of our faithful prayers, loyal affection and unfailing obedience. Our Holy Father, in continuity with the teaching and direction of his much beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II, has already given us an indication of his desires for our growth in holiness of life.In his first address to the College of Cardinals on the day after his election, Pope Benedict XVI stated that the Holy Eucharist “cannot but be the permanent center and the source of the petrine service entrusted to [him]” (Benedict XVI, a pope of Christ, communion, collegiality, Vatican Information Service, April 20, 2005, page 2). Reflecting upon Divine Providence, which called him to the office of St. Peter during the Year of the Eucharist, he has asked that the Solemnity of Corpus Christi “be celebrated in a particularly special way.”He reminded us that the celebration of World Youth Day in Cologne in August will center on the Holy Eucharist, and that the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to be held this coming October, will devote itself to the theme: “The Eucharist, Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church.”He concluded with a solemn request addressed to us all: “I ask everyone to intensify in coming months love and devotion to the Eucharistic Jesus and to express in a courageous and clear way the real presence of the Lord, above all through the solemnity and the correctness of the celebrations” (Benedict XVI, a pope of Christ, communion, collegiality, Vatican Information Service, April 20, 2005, page 3). As we thank God tonight for the gift of Pope Benedict XVI, let us help him shoulder his heavy burdens by deepening and strengthening our knowledge and love of the Holy Eucharist, above all by the piety with which we participate in Holy Mass, and adore and worship the Blessed Sacrament outside of Mass. As we are now united sacramentally to the Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary, let us lift up to His glorious and open Heart the intentions of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. Placing our Holy Father and his intentions into the all-merciful and all-loving Heart of Jesus, we trust that no grace will be lacking to our Holy Father as he pours out his life, with Christ, as Christ’s “donkey”for our salvation and the salvation of our world. We ask the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, and the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul to pray with us for our Holy Father: “The Lord preserve him and give him life, and make him blessed upon the earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies” (Enchiridion of Indulgences, June 29, 1968, no. 39). Conclusion I hope that the text of my homily has helped you in some way to understand the office of St. Peter and the deep trust in Divine Providence with which Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the office from our Lord.He is the humble worker in the vineyard, Christ’s “draft animal” who seeks only to do God’s will. Let us continue to assist our Holy Father by our daily prayers.I ask especially that you remember the intentions of our Holy Father when you pray the rosary. […]
And… and… if Chesterton still has anything to say about it, behold:
When fishes flew and forests walked And figs grew upon thorn, Some moment when the moon was blood Then surely I was born;
With monstrous head and sickening cry And ears like errant wings, The devil’s walking parody On all four-footed things.
The tattered outlaw of the earth, Of ancient crooked will; Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb, I keep my secret still.
Fools! For I also had my hour; One far fierce hour and sweet: There was a shout about my ears, And palms before my feet.
Wherein a rather vivacious apologetic is offered for the medicinal usage of excommunication. Here’s the deal: I’m Pope Francis’ Missionary of Mercy. Most of what we do is to lift non-declared excommunications, you know, latae sententiae. And then we absolve whatever sin, however reserved, according to the faculties granted us by the Holy Father. Pope Francis didn’t say that there is no such thing as excommunication anymore. No, no. He holds that there is so much latae sententiae excommunication going around that we need more personnel than is present in the Apostolic Pentitentiary over in Rome. Thus, the Missionaries of Mercy.
My internet interlocutor who challenges me on the Gospels of the day sent a missive just before Mass. So, what could I do, but preach on all of that after some remarks on the Gospel. I love it.
Amidst all the non-sense of the “Just.Wow.” moments in the past number of weeks (and I still must write much more about all that), a reader sent this in by email:
“Father ~ For he testifieth: Thou art a priest for ever according to the order of Melchizedech. Anyone else notice that?”
Answer: I think we’ve pretty much lost sight of what, of who a priest must be. A priest is the one who, with Christ Jesus, is to bring not peace, but the sword of division. Harsh words? Christ Jesus is deadly serious. Jesus is the One who spoke those words. Jesus is the One who died in extreme violence because of those words. Just note His wounds from having been tortured to death with extreme violence on the Cross. Yep. Extreme violence. Because that’s exactly what sin has done to our souls, to society. If anyone is without God’s grace, that person will use violence, and finally, when pushed, extreme violence with anyone who bears the goodness and kindness and truth of Jesus. He said it Himself: As the Master, so the disciple. Saint Paul would end up meeting with that extreme violence himself, getting decapitated.
But when Jesus pursued Saul so as to make of him Saint Paul, that young Saul was the best student of the Law, and was zealous to the point of an off-kilter extreme violence, so much so that he was unthinking in all of his academic prowess, and decided to put his thoughts into action in the most cowardly way, which is typical. He armed himself with letters of authorization, and then chased off to Damascus with a posse to drag the new Christians out of their houses, the elderly, the middle-aged, the youngsters, the infants, the sucklings at the breast, so as to put them in chains and death-march them back to Jerusalem for trial as heretics, so that he could have the sick joy of executing them. He had blood on his hands already for having assisted at the stoning to death of the new Deacon, Saint Stephen. He couldn’t wait for more.
And then our Lord appeared to him and asked Saul why he was so set on persecuting Him, Jesus, for to persecute the ones Saul was running after was to persecute Jesus personally. Saul converted to Saint Paul. But with all that history of violence in a very violent society, Saint Paul used vocabulary of extreme violence:
“We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-12)
Saint Paul would have us all die off, that is, that we be crucified to the world, the flesh and the devil, to our fallen human spirits, so that we might live for Jesus. More succinctly, Saint Paul would kill us off with truth, with goodness and kindness, so that we can live for that truth and goodness and kindness by the power of that truth and goodness and kindness, by the power of Jesus’ life within us.
And then there’s Jesus, you know, with extreme-violence statements about us taking up the instrument of torture and death, the cross, and carrying this, following Him, into battle, with hell. Peaceniks beware! We’re out to kill you! Um… you know, with goodness and kindness and truth. I know a lady who kills people all the time, really evil people… she kills them with kindness. And I’ve seen people melt with such kindness, and they are killed off to themselves, and do change. God is good.
Jesus said that the violent are taking heaven, taking it with violent force. Yep. How’s that? Not with our evil violence. No no. But with a violence that is extreme, incomparably more violent than anything we can come up with: mercy. And while the cynics click away in haughty fear, real fear, running away in the confusion of fear, consider this: there is nothing more violent to ourselves, more geared to having us killed off, than the mercy we receive from Jesus in forgiveness. It kills us off to ourselves to live for him. But that does real violence to us. It is that violence of mercy, of forgiveness, that disrupts peoples lives for the better, which we want to bring others. Kill them all! You know, kill them all off with kindness, with goodness and kindness and truth.
Laudie-dog is pointing out one side of a two-turn race course, the deep banked holes assisting in skidding to stop after flying through the air, and, using the now banked up back yard, instantaneously turning about, flying in the other direction. Landing on the opposite side of the yard, there is the same skid to stop banked up hole, exactly the same, identical, just in reverse. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.
Laudie-dog looks bewildered as this race course of changing of course doesn’t belong to her. This was created by Shadow-dog because Shadow-dog thinks he’s clever. Shadow-dog is a maniac. Behold, Saint Paul speaking of when he was a maniac, running from his good religious plan right into sin and back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, with his good religious plan being the same as his sin, you know, because he is the one doing it under his own “power,” which, of course, is nothing:
“We know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold into slavery to sin. What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I concur that the law is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh. The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not. For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. So, then, I discover the principle that when I want to do right, evil is at hand. For I take delight in the law of God, in my inner self, but I see in my members another principle at war with the law of my mind, taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this mortal body?” (Romans 7:14-24).
The idea here is that Saint Paul is critiquing his manipulative usage of religion as a way to congratulate himself. Note the constant mantra of egoism – “I” – “I” – “I” – as in “I myself come up with a religious plan that I think is good for me and I’m clever and I can save myself by my religious plan because I’m so special! Look at me! Look at me! I’m saving myself! /// He’s saying that that kind of attitude is B.S., or better, Chicken S***, inasmuch as what he’s depicted himself as is a chicken with it’s head cut off, running around mindlessly like it’s all normal and good. There are those who don’t get this until they read the last verse which I didn’t include above. You’ll see it below, but don’t read it just yet.
Let me tell you of another crowd who have been a very large part of the crisis of priests not knowing who they are, and of the abuse crisis. They knew the last verse cited further below, but purposely went out of their way to ignore this. There’s a psych institute over in Rome connected to the Pontifical Gregorian University which trains up sisters and priests in psychology to be staff psychologists at seminaries right round the world. Their guru guy, a Jesuit priest, but actually a guru guy, Rulla, cites this passage as the be all and end all of proof that God made a mistake in creating us, or better, that God created us in a way that encourages us to save ourselves with coping mechanisms, you know, to cope with all the mistakes God made in making us. In other words, as I heard one student of Rulla say, “We’re the first ones in the history of the Church to find a way to save ourselves!”
I have very many friends who went to this psych institute and I bought the expensive books of Rulla and the institute, such rubbish, and have studied it all with some intensity. I offered the critique about Rulla’s treatment of this passage of Saint Paul to one particularly close friend who was a student of Rulla. He threw such a hissy fit. He left the lunch table angry and pouting and wouldn’t sit at the same table with me or speak to me for weeks. Finally, he apologized and said I was right. Then, after many years, having become a seminary rector, he contacted me though another friend to repeat that, yes, indeed, I was right. How’s that, you ask?
My critique is that they don’t think of sin, at all, even though Saint Paul here speaks of sin repeatedly. And that’s why they then don’t think of redemption. They don’t think of Christ. Saint Paul does. Behold: after criticizing himself, casting aside coping mechanisms such as is also a manipulative use of religion, Saint Paul points us directly and only to Jesus who is the One to save him, wretch that Saint Paul, on his own, is:
“Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:25).
Do we change course by running back and forth, back and forth, back and forth? No. Christ Jesus reaches down and grabs us and snatches us up close to His pierced Heart, and we say: “My Lord and my God.” Thank you, Jesus.
/// Having said all that, don’t think I’m against a good and wholesome psychology. If one takes up the Sacred Scriptures, the writings of Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint John of the Cross and Saint Therese of Lisieux, to name but a few, one will be able to glean a well rounded and useful psychology, but this is all based on a good, honest friendship with Jesus Christ our Lord.
I categorize this post with “Missionaries of Mercy” because I insist on all this talk of Jesus to my own peril. One makes enemies in this way. Some years ago over in Rome, while I would ever so quietly mention my opinion, the Rulla-ites, overhearing this, would go so far as to threaten a major public debate. They were actually beginning to plot this as something to be held at the Lateran Basilica of all places, that being chosen cleverly, however, as it is the Cathedra of the Successor of Peter. Perhaps one day.
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:
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?
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?
Here’s the first half of the homily for the “Conversion of Saint Paul.”
Can we really call it conversion?
I think Saint Thomas Aquinas, Cardinal Siri, and Garrigou Lagrange, O.P. would hesitate with that kind of language.
I would add that I find it odd that the week of Christian unity centers around this Feast of Saint Paul, who is ferocious with those who do not have the same judgment of the same faith as he calls it. Pretty brave to use him as a patron saint when so many think that ecumenism is about bullying people to rejoice in remaining in our divisions so that we can have whatever doctrine and morality we would like to concoct on any given day at any given hour at any given moment for whatever reason or for no reason.