Tag Archives: Saints

Old time trains, Mother Teresa, Jesus

Yesterday, while out and about doing priest stuff, I stopped along the river road of the Nantahala Gorge – part of which is in my parish – to take the above 14 second video of The Great Smoky Mountain Railroad passenger train that is complete with dining car.

I only wish I could have recorded the iconic chug-chug of the engine, the squeal of steel on steel around the endless curves, the ever-so-loud horn sounding for no apparent reason other than there might be a panther or bear or elk on the tracks, or perhaps a wild boar as big as a cow in these parts of the upper ridges of the Great Smoky Mountains. The horn is surely sounded for atmospherics what with all the tourists on board.

The train doesn’t have any set destination. It just travels along, stops, and then reverses course. But it’s all spectacularly beautiful, especially for the city slickers on board. I’ve never been on this particular train, but the locals also love to climb aboard.

If it’s shocking to see all that smoke belching out of the engine-works up front, try driving behind a pickup accelerating uphill, you know, one that’s been modified to belch out at least as much smoke as seen in the video above. Those modifications seem to be one of the local pass-times. I can’t imagine how expensive fuel and oil costs must be even for a short trip.

Meanwhile, I recall another similar train on the far side of the world whose passenger back in the day was the now canonized Mother Teresa of Calcutta:

From the Vatican website:

“On 10 September 1946 during the train ride from Calcutta to Darjeeling for her annual retreat, Mother Teresa received her “inspiration,” her “call within a call.” On that day, in a way she would never explain, Jesus’ thirst for love and for souls took hold of her heart and the desire to satiate His thirst became the driving force of her life. Over the course of the next weeks and months, by means of interior locutions and visions, Jesus revealed to her the desire of His heart for “victims of love” who would “radiate His love on souls.” “Come be My light,” He begged her. “I cannot go alone.” He revealed His pain at the neglect of the poor, His sorrow at their ignorance of Him and His longing for their love. He asked Mother Teresa to establish a religious community, Missionaries of Charity, dedicated to the service of the poorest of the poor. Nearly two years of testing and discernment passed before Mother Teresa received permission to begin. On August 17, 1948, she dressed for the first time in a white, blue-bordered sari and passed through the gates of her beloved Loreto convent to enter the world of the poor.”

mother teresa of calcutta

  • With something so very mundane as a ride on a train, one can be with Jesus.
  • With something so very mundane as anything whatsoever in our lives, one can be with Jesus.

 

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Teresa of Avila

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  • A rain cloud in the form of a foot [crushing the head of Satan] as seen from out front of the cave of Elijah on Mount Carmel
  • Scapular of the Little Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
  • The Coat of Arms of the Discalced Carmelites
  • The Donkey in his room at the Chaplains House in Lourdes, France, high above the Grotto, looking through the trees to the Discalced Carmelite Monastery
  • Looking down to the Mediterrainian from the Monastery Church of the hermits which was destroyed by Islamicist fanatics; by the way, the hermits were retired crusaders

I am grateful for the practical spiritual wherewithal of Saint Teresa of Avila. Have you read some of her works? This most un-well-read priest in the world, even I have read some things of hers. She’s great.

For anyone who has studied in Rome, this is a most fateful day, as it is the first day of classes for the academic year, at least it was back in the day, for decades. A good start.

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Editing Jesus’ prayer He provided to Saint Gertrude as a Daily Offering

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Just before the “Amen” I couldn’t but add: “and for me, as sinner, the worst of all.”

I recall a story about a bishop introducing himself I’m not sure on what occasion, perhaps a retreat for priests at which he was invited to lead a Penance Service. His introductory remarks were about himself, and were meant to put people at ease. It went something like this: “I’m Bishop So-And-So, and I’ve been a sinner since I was made a bishop [number of] years ago. And before that, I was a sinner since I was ordained a priest [number of] years ago. And before that, I was a sinner since before my first Confession, [number of] years ago. Good for him.

There’s another practice that I would heartily recommend to all, that of saying three Hail Marys daily for the souls in purgatory. Helping them out, it is they who will welcome you into the everlasting habitations, into heaven, as Jesus says.

  • Hail Mary…
  • Hail Mary…
  • Hail Mary…

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When Padre Pio met Saint Michael. When Father Byers knew nothing at all.

elijah judas tree

Elijah with the flaming fiery sword on Mount Carmel, Israel.

[This was written ten years ago. Today, precisely, is a good day to repost it. Padre Pio’s feast day. /// BTW, today marks 25 years in prison of Fr Gordon MacRae. Hail Mary… St Michael the Archangel… ///]

You can read things dozens of times over the years and just not “get it” at all. That’s me. But this year when I read the following letter of Padre Pio, I was mesmerized. I now know a bit more just how much I absolutely don’t know anything about the spiritual life. I have written academically about that of which he speaks, the flaming sword. I am vindicated on that academic level at least, for I am alone across the millennia in what I have written. But on a spiritual level, well, I am thrust to the ground in deep humiliation, for I obviously know nothing of the spiritual life. But at least I know that I know nothing. These days, that’s something. And it’s way more than enough to ask for this great saint’s help. Apologies are given in advance for the inadequacy of [my comments] below. You can see from my Coat of Arms (thanks to Elizdelphi! No words on the banner yet) that I am grateful to have written about the sword of which Padre Pio speaks…

GEORGE DAVID BYERS - COAT OF ARMS - revision

From the Letters of Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, priest (Epist. I, 1065; 1093-1095)

I will raise my voice and will not stop imploring him

“Out of obedience I am obliged to manifest to you what happened to me on the evening of the 5th of this month of August 1918 [Vigil of the Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus] and all day on the 6th [Feast of the Transfiguration].

cherub-sword-eden

“I am quite unable to convey to you what occurred during this period of utter torment. While I was hearing the boys’ confessions on the evening of the 5th [making them saints!], I was suddenly terrorized by the sight of a celestial person [an angel, a cherub] who presented himself to my mind’s eye [So, not an apparition, but entirely spiritual. People think angels are all fluffy chiffon pastels and cutesy cutesy. Pio speaks of torment and terror, and this angel is from heaven!]. He had in his hand a sort of weapon [“weapon”] like a very long sharp-pointed steel blade which seemed to emit fire. [This is the sword mentioned in Genesis 3:24. It is the sword which “turns into its contrary by way of the fiery grace of enmity against Satan and by way of friendship with God whatever is presented to it.” This is the sword with which the Carmelites depict Elijah. This is the sword of Saint Michael. This is the sword of Saint Teresa of Avila…] At the very instant that I saw all this, I saw that person hurl the weapon into my soul with all his might. [Seeing that a cherub could crush the entire universe if given permission from the Most High, this is saying really a lot…] I cried out with difficulty and felt I was dying. I asked the boys to leave because I felt ill and no longer had the strength to continue. [What an understatement of all time. They must have been scared for him.] This agony lasted uninterruptedly until the morning of the 7th. I cannot tell you how much I suffered during this period of anguish. Even my entrails were torn and ruptured by the weapon, [“weapon”] and nothing was spared. [“nothing” – and here I try to hang on to this and that. And in doing that I am totally lacking in generosity. I’ve done nothing in my life. I’ve not laid down my life as so many have done. Pio is going through his purgatory all at once, 40 some hours for him. And what would I do, I who surely have a purgatory lasting until the end of the world?]

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Elijah’s fiery sword on the Discalced Carmelite Coat of Arms

“From that day on I have been mortally wounded. [And this is no longer his wound, but that of humanity, with Pio now being in solidarity with Jesus on the Cross even as Jesus is in solidarity with us, loving us while we are yet sinners, drawing all to Himself as He is lifted up on the Cross. And we watch with Him…] I feel in the depths of my soul a wound that is always open and which causes me continual agony. What can I tell you in answer to your questions regarding my crucifixion? My God! What embarrassment and humiliation I suffer by being obliged to explain what you have done to this wretched creature! [For we do nothing to save ourselves. Jesus is our Savior. We come to realize this. We are nothing. He is all. He shows us what He has saved us from, and not just us, me, but we see how He has saved all of us as we gain some heightened perspective on the cross.]

padre-pio-stigmata

“On the morning of the 20th of last month [two weeks later], in the choir [making the traditional thanksgiving prayers after Mass], after I had celebrated Mass I yielded to a drowsiness similar to a sweet sleep. All the internal and external senses and even the very faculties of my soul were immersed in indescribable stillness. Absolute silence surrounded and invaded me. I was suddenly filled with great peace and abandonment which effaced everything else and caused a lull in the turmoil. All this happened in a flash. While this was taking place I saw before me a mysterious person similar to the one I had seen on the evening of August 5th. [We entertain angels and even the Son of Man and do not know it. How much the angels reflect the Son of Man! And the fiery love of God, issuing from the throne of the Most High, from the Heart of Him who loves us so much, is just that fierce on that sword which transforms us utterly in God’s love.] The only difference was that his hands and feet and side were dripping blood. This sight terrified me and what I felt at that moment is indescribable. I thought I should die and really should have died if the Lord had not intervened and strengthened my heart which was about to burst out of my chest. [We are utterly weak. It is all Jesus.] The vision disappeared and I became aware that my hands, feet and side were dripping blood. Imagine the agony I experienced and continue to experience almost every day. [He speaks also and especially of his embarrassment, for he, as all of us from Adam until the last man is conceived, caused those wounds in our Lord. How is it that he, Pio, or any of us could share such wounds of love for all those Jesus has redeemed and wills to save?] The heart wound bleeds continually, especially from Thursday evening until Saturday.

PADRE PIO SEAL OF CONFESSION

Padre Pio reprimanding the Bishop about the Seal of Confession.

“Dear Father, I am dying of pain because of the wounds and the resulting embarrassment I feel deep in my soul. I am afraid I shall bleed to death if the Lord does not hear my heartfelt supplication to relieve me of this condition. Will Jesus, who is so good, grant me this grace? Will he at least free me from the embarrassment caused by these outward signs? [The embarrassment, mind you, is more than enough to end his life on this earth.] I will raise my voice and will not stop imploring him until in his mercy he takes away, not the wound or the pain, which is impossible since I wish to be inebriated with pain, but these outward signs which cause me such embarrassment and unbearable humiliation. The person of whom I spoke in a previous letter is none other than the one I mentioned having seen on August 5th. He continues his work incessantly, causing me extreme spiritual agony. There is a continual rumbling within me like the gushing of blood. [This Hebrew description of this sword in Genesis 3:24 (which I think I am the very first to translate pedantically, as it really is just that difficult), the sword which the angel is mashing around inside Pio is variously and wrongly translated as the twirling sword, the sword which moves about this way and that, etc., is, instead, “the sword which causes that which is presented to it to be transformed into its contrary.” Thus, we don’t take from the Tree of the Living Ones, though we can humbly receive its fruit (the Eucharist from the Cross).] My God! Your punishment is just and your judgment right, but grant me your mercy. Lord, with your Prophet I shall continue to repeat: O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger; do not punish me in your rage! Dear Father, now that my whole interior state is known to you, do not refuse to send me a word of comfort in the midst of such severe and harsh suffering.” [If it were I who had to respond to him, knowing I know nothing, but despite that, I would say that in our very reception of mercy we must show mercy to the rest of the members of the Body of Christ, those whom Jesus has redeemed and wills to save. Our suffering is occasioned by the lack of others, lack of faith, etc., but it is not their cross we carry, but instead we come to know what we would be like if we ourselves were to be without the grace of our Lord in therefore our lack of faith, etc…. and our remaining in friendship by the grace of God in such horrific circumstances acts as an intercession for those who are truly without faith, etc. This is drawing all to Christ on the cross in solidarity with Jesus, who does this by His grace. He, the Head of the Body does this, but we are members of that Body and we are with Him. If we only knew! If we only knew! Now Pio had his eyes opened, his soul torn open, his hands and feet and heart torn open. But it’s all Jesus. Jesus’ love taking on our lack. Embarrassing to us? Yes. And we run away. Pio couldn’t run any more. The angel presented himself, and, fiercely raising his weapon of God’s love… I know nothing. Saint Pio: help this donkey-priest to come to know Jesus! Help all of us priests!]

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On the extreme violence of Saul and then Saint Paul, because Jesus…

Saint Paul Conversion Damascus Caravaggio

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.

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Homily 2018 04 23 – Saint George

saint george stained glass window

Re-posted today, the Feast of Saint George, as the pictures are great!

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Well now. That’s scary. I did a massive search for the fellow I mention in this homily and I couldn’t find one single trace of him anywhere.

Anyway, this is how Saint George was put to death by the Roman Empire:

saint george martyrdom

Anyway, Saint George lives! Saint George lives! Saint George lives!

saint george icon

SAINT GEORGE SLAYING THE DRAGON Unterlinden Museum Colmar

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Homily 2018 12 28 Holy Innocents’ Joy

FEAST OF THE HOLY INNOCENTS

When one loves what one does, one has a lot of fun. I love preaching. I really enjoyed preaching today. It might sound a little rough to begin with, but then the Holy Innocents save the day.

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Homily 2018 12 26 – Jews and the Holy Trinity

saint stephen stoned to death

References to the Most Holy Trinity are to be found throughout the Jewish and then the newly Catholic Sacred Scriptures from Genesis to the Apocalypse. When I was a seminarian in the bad old days, as bad or worse than today, when heresy was everywhere to be found among seminary profs, any references to the Most Holy Trinity in any of the Scriptures was simply denied, as if this were something palatable to, I don’t know, Jews, maybe Muslims. Maybe it was just lust to deny anything that was a teaching of the Catholic Church just to do it. One was then “hip” and “groovy” and “up-to-date”, but really just a thief who was stealing the truth away from the children of God.

Let’s take a timely example of the Most Holy Trinity in the Scriptures. Right after Christmas we have the feast of Saint Stephen, Deacon, the First Martyr. Let’s take a look at the Lectionary entry for the first lesson (ACTS 6:8-10; 7:54-59).

Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people. Certain members of the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen, Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and people from Cilicia and Asia, came forward and debated with Stephen, but they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit [the Holy Spirit: see “filled with the Holy Spirit” below] with which he spoke.

When they heard this, they were infuriated, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, filled with [1] the Holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and [2] Jesus standing at the right hand of [3] God [the Father], and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears, and rushed upon him together. They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they were stoning Stephen, he called out “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

The Holy Spirit, inspiring the Sacred Scriptures, say that the Jews cannot withstand the Holy Spirit that filled Saint Stephen. They perceive the Holy Spirit even while Stephen speaks of Jesus and the Father.

Is the Holy Spirit being rude in pointing out “the Jews” like this? No. This is presented in the sense of even the Jews cannot withstand the Holy Spirit (so, much less us, the non-Jews). As the “young man named Saul” would later write as Saint Paul about the Jews:

“They are Israelites; theirs the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; theirs the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, is the Messiah. God, who is over all, be blessed forever. Amen.” (Romans 9:4-5).

We are all the Jews who attacked Stephen. But only the Jews have the promises and patriarchs. But we’ve all crucified the Son of the Living God with our sin. And we are all redeemed. To be saved, well, that involves the free will of us all.

Let’s be up-to-date not be rejecting the Triune God who is Truth and Love, but by being lifted up into the timelessness of He who created time and entered into time, drawing all to Himself across time, across Calvary, when He was lifted up on the Cross, He who born to die, whose birth we celebrate even as we honor the first martyr for Him.

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On “Flowers from St Thérèse”

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These little flowers jumped up from a cactus right next to the statue of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux outside of our little church of Holy Redeemer in Andrews, NC.  A priest friend of mine has a great devotion to Saint Thérèse, who is forever all the time giving him flowers, that is, when he is reciting a novena asking her about some intention or other.

He said that this has nothing whatsoever to do with “getting an answer” about anything, as if she were equivalent to a séance or a crystal ball or to palm reading or to Tarot cards or a Ouija board or whatever other ultra-stupid dangerous things people do.

He explained that this was merely an indication that she is paying attention to what he or other similar devotees are praying about, and not at all that she is interceding in any other way than to put this matter before the Lord, whatever way it is that the Lord Jesus is going to go about His providence for us sinners while we are here in exile upon this earth. I’m good with that.

For myself, I don’t do that. But I do preach about, offer spiritual direction about Thérèse, about a particular stage of the spiritual life she went through. She’s one of the saints most influential in my own spiritual life, in my life as a priest. That refers to looking to Jesus to save us with us stripped of all pride. It doesn’t mean I’ve taken it all to heart!

People think they are smart to recall her name in religion: Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, and then citing her “little way.” Good! But, they should also remember her FULL name in religion: Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, as in the imprint of the image of the face of Jesus on the cloth Saint Veronica used to wipe His face from blood, sweat and tears as He carried His cross. You have to be a child to be in solidarity with Jesus as He is in solidarity with us in His Passion, Death and Resurrection.

But there’s more we often forget about Saint Thérèse. She is a daughter not just of Saint Teresa of Jesus, not just a follower of such as Saint John of the Cross. She speaks of the founder of her religious order as Saint Elijah, the greatest prophet of the Old Testament. She spoke of him, of course, in the traditional manner: “Our Holy Father Elijah.” You’ll remember one of his greatest moments that took place just below the Carmelite Monastery on the northern slope on the far eastern side of the ridge of Mount Carmel:

elijah judas tree

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Like Mother like Son)

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October and still blooming. All for Mary, that’s what I always say. All for Mary. But giving her flowers… is that too easy?

I recall another exclamation: “All for Jesus!” Behold, a conversation in which this comes into play, when the words have to be put into action. This is my absolute all time favorite video of Mother Teresa reprimanding a priest and bishop:

When it comes down to it, if we actually believe that it’s all for Jesus, all for Mary, it’s all just as giving a flower created by Jesus to Mary. Yep.

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Priest whistle blower to be canonized? Santo subito! Do it for vocations!

  • I’ve been weighted down with this since I saw it yesterday, and I’ve watched it many times.
  • I prayed for him, and now I’m praying to him.
  • The Diocese tried to discredit him by saying that he had a checkered history and that surely this was a suicide. Surely, a suicide: two bullets to the back of the head.
  • I find it interesting that the fax machine was taken. Who steals a fax machine and anything related to his being a whistle blower, except maybe the ones he’s blowing the whistle on? I bet the reporter who got the fax called the diocese for comment, was put off in some benign fashion, but later on received a threat to be silent and make the report disappear. When the reporter found out that Father Moreno was dead the reporter made sure to remain silent.

Thomas Aquinas says that the grace of final perseverance is not to be presumed, and that we should pray for this throughout our lives. Having considered that, now take a look at the grace that supports martyrs in their final moments while they persevere in giving witness to Christ no matter the cost, laying down their lives for their friends, the rest of us, which Jesus Himself says is the greatest demonstration of love that we can give. Such love covers a multitude of… of… checkered history or whatever. That’s why we say that martyrs go right to heaven. They were, in the moment of their deaths, at one with God who is love. It is the height of the grace of final perseverance.

His name is Father Joseph F. Moreno, Jr. It would be a great grace for the Church and the world if he were to be canonized.

SANTO SUBITO!

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For St John Vianney it’s all about Jesus

cure dars chapel john baptist

What’s that I hear? There are… are… are controverted issi-oos somewhere inside oneself, somewhere in the world, somewhere in the Church? Oh. That’s new. What a surprise.

Breathless argumentation which condemns all others to hell, all as heretics, all with simple emotional assertions on their own or simple emotional assertions shrouded lightly with – Oooo! – lots of verbiage…. all this breathless argumentation always and every time seems to forget entirely about Jesus. It is in this way that doctrine turns into ideology, meaning that it’s all about oneself asserting an assertion, any assertion, and whether right or wrong (that’s irrelevant as essentially important premises to the argument bite the dust and not essentially important premises are introduced as being totally decisive, ripping words and phrases out of context, which is pretext), it’s: “I’m right; you’re wrong. I’m justified; you’re not. I’ve condemned everyone to hell as a heretic and so that includes you too.”

The great thing about St John Vianney, as with any other saint, is that, for him, Jesus was of paramount importance, and more than merely paramount; for Father Vianney, Jesus was and is all important. It’s all about Jesus. He’s the One. He’s the only one. So, for him, it was all about him saying: “Father, please hear my confession.” And then he would hear confessions, confessions, confessions, confessions.

By the way, that picture up top is the chapel of Saint John the Baptist, the one who lost his head for a dance. Father Vianney literally knocked out the side of his parish church to build this side chapel to combat the brood of vipers in his mountain village.

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Homily 2018 04 30 Pius V – Lepanto

pius v

The typical painting of Saint Pius V above. Below, his tomb at Saint Mary Majors. That picture was taken on one of my day pilgrimages in Rome while on the Missionary of Mercy ad limina (so to speak).

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In this, the “Sistine” chapel at Saint Mary Majors, just opposite Pius V in location though not in faith, is Pope Sixtus V (also my hero whose repentance I strive to imitate) but I digress.

Today’s homily:

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Visiting prison: Tarcissius! Prayers for Father Gordon MacRae and Pornchai

In the last moments before leaving Rome I made it out to Saint Lawrence’s Outside the Walls. This is in the Blessed Sacrament chapel below the altar: Saint Tarcissius. Or am I wrong? This little boy was commissioned by the Pope (who would be forthwith martyred in the catacombs) to bring the Blessed Sacrament to prisoners at the Coliseum. He was doing this…

He was doing this when he was smashed down and beaten to death by some other boys who wanted whatever it was he was carrying. They could not wrench it from his hands, even in death.

I felt compelled to pray for Fr Gordon MacRae and Pornchai here. Will you join me with some prayers for them? It’s like taking the good example of Saint Tarcissius…

Angel of God…

Hail Mary…

Saint Michael the Archangel…

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St Lawrence’s prison: praying for Fr Gordon MacRae & Pornchai

During my last hours in Rome I made a pilgrimage to Saint Lawrence’s prison. It’s terribly, terribly tiny, and often has about an extra 18 inches of water on the floor when it rains. This

Here’s the high altar:

Some historical notes. I’m sure some of you can translate these:

And here’s the entrance to the prison. The steps down are very steep.

I felt compelled to pray for Fr Gordon MacRae and Pornchai here. Saint Lawrence was imprisoned with a non-Christian who was blind, but who miraculously received his sight at the intercession of Saint Lawrence and who then requested to be baptised there in prison. I’m sure you can draw an analogy. Will you join me with some prayers?

Angel of God…

Hail Mary…

Saint Michael the Archangel…

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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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Young St Benedict’s living quarters in Rome

3 feet wide, 10 feet long, 15 feet high. I bet he had a loft for his senatorial studies. Some pillows?

Here’s the new church, looking like it was built by the crusaders…

John and John, both my confirmation saints[!], Pointing out the Lamb of God. Always. It’s all about Jesus.

Superb architecture. We are just so boring and unimaginative these days.

Anyway, young Benedict found Rome so corrupt that he fled to a cave for three years in remote mountains at the center of his country. Imagine that. Who else in their right mind would ever do that?

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Assassination attempt. Building the shrines.

This is the spot not far from the obelisk where Saint John Paul II was almost taken out by the Muslim KGB guy. A humble marker. JPII lived another 24 years. But still. Can’t it at least say what happened? Or is that “building the shrines of the prophets” as the hypocrites do? He drew me into the confessional, to the priesthood, unto the Eucharist. He’s John Paul the great to me.

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San Lorenzo in Damaso: when Church – State politics get hot go to Confession

Jumping off bus 46, I headed into the side entrance of the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Damaso. Greeting one of the elderly security guards – one of the quiet Saint Joeph like personages one sometimes meets – I then took this picture at a side chapel where a priest might say some prayers of thanksgiving after offering Holy Mass.

The security guard, spying with perpicasity my devotion, tapped me on the shoulder and silently bid me to follow him. He never once spoke. He pointed at a side altar and then at the explanation written out for pilgrims on the altar rail.

Many relics are above the altar as you can see, including those of Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta. I had much to do with Mother Teresa. She was a huge influence in my life. Sorry, I’m nostalgic. I just about cried.

This is the Blessed Sacrament chapel whose altar rail and floor are featured in a certain book, as is the Tabernacle.

Glancing up one sees Saint Lawrence.

A most important place in the Basilica…

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The Son-shine from within: Aquinas and donkeys in the sky

I guess I shouldn’t be seeing things in the clouds. But in the skies above I see a donkey. And, of course, I would see a donkey, right? But then I immediately recall someone who wrote words of straw (which donkeys eat) who had the Son-shine within him.

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Saint Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:7 — We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.

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