Tag Archives: Spiritual life

For this Lent, just be dead to be alive

Ashes to ashes? Kind of dark? Kind of depressing? Remember, man — you who purposely forget because you are just so inept at the spiritual life — remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return. Remember!!!

I mean, I kinda feel bad… except…

There’s a draw for people to come to church on a weekday… But people do come. Why’s that? Ash Wednesday is not a Holy Day of Obligation. But people come. No one shows up so as to get beaten down, get depressed, and despair, be hopeless. No. So…

Ash Wednesday is about the reality of hope: Here we are, with all of us weakened by original sin, even falling into sin, and we’re all going to die in punishment for original sin and whatever of our own rubbish, and, without redemption, without grace, we would all of us be going to hell, forever and ever and ever, never getting out. We are now just a heap of organized ashes.

What we’re doing in having ashes mashed into our heads, absolutely recognizing just how bad things are, is this: despite how bad things are we have hope in Jesus who underwent much more how bad things are, Himself taking our place, Innocent for the guilty, to have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us. Apparently dark and hopeless?

  • There was a total solar eclipse (the first night and day of the Sacred Triduum)
  • Judas betrayed Jesus and then committed suicide
  • Peter denied Jesus three times
  • All eleven remaining Apostles ran away, John returning, but…
  • The very Son of the Living God being tortured to death in front of His dear Mother

The point is this at the beginning of Lent: Despite the absolute worst going on, Jesus brings life and light, bringing us to great friendship with Himself so that, being formed to be members of the Body of Christ by the fiery Holy Spirit, Jesus might then have the great, great joy in presenting us as a gift to our Heavenly Father.

After the Resurrection, Jesus calls us friends, a creative act on His part. And so we are. And Lent is a preparation for this flourishing of this friendship. We have Confession, Adoration, Holy Mass, Stations of the Cross, Rosary…

Saint Paul uses violent language about this preparation:

  • “Therefore I urge you, brothers, on account of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Romans 12:1)
  • “We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always consigned to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our mortal body.” (2 Corinthians 4:10-11)

Our very ineptitude with fasting, almsgiving, prayer, with all the frustration, temptations, distractions… all that helps us to turn to Jesus to depend not on ourselves but on Him, so that’s it’s His grace, His goodness and kindness, His Truth. And all that learning to depend on Jesus is a joyful experience, a time of growing in friendship with Him, thus becoming the littlest children of our Heavenly Father.

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Burning unto ashes… ashes to ashes…

Having burned the palm fronds from last years Passion Sunday, we’re all set for this year’s Ash Wednesday.

Meanwhile, we pray for those who likely won’t have any Ash Wednesday Mass. In the Ukraine, the Orthodox are sending their priests down into bomb shelters. But – hey! – maybe they’ll be offering Holy Mass underground. We hope the bomb shelters won’t become their tombs, their catacombs, which, by the way, were cemeteries. Many in the Ukraine already bear ashes upon their heads, stuck on with blood:

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Dave Wottle: Head Waiter? No. Leading from Behind? No. Playing the Long Game? Yes.

There are lots of great moments in sports history. The genocide olympics inflicted by China are not one of them. But this race with Dave Wottle is. He wasn’t waiting or faking people out, but was instead doing what he always did for that length of race. He had enough sense not to burst out of the blocks so as play the short game like everyone else. Instead, he knew in his head what he himself had to do for that length of race and did what he always did. He wasn’t in reaction to others. He just did the right thing. No compromise, ever, not for a nanosecond. And then… Just watch… Just 1 minute 59 seconds… Very instructive about playing the long game, and successfully, of course. And the subtitle and post-title, “Never Give Up!” are also incorrect here. It was never about not giving up. He knew from the start he had it all if only he just did what he had to do. If there’s any “Never Give Up!” attitude going on here, it’s not about comparison and envy. It’s about not giving up on the right thing to do regardless of anything or anyone else. Stick with doing the right thing, and you will win the long game, every time. Guaranteed.

The long game is eternity in heaven. If you love Jesus, keep the commandments, at every moment, not worrying about other’s infidelity, or seemingly “getting ahead.” And keeping up with the Sacraments, Confession, Holy Communion. Jesus is with us not just at the finish line, but at every moment, every moment. We look to Jesus. Jesus is the One. He’s the only One. Jesus.

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You know you’re old when…

  • You know you’re old when they tell you that they can’t fit all the candles on your birthday cake, and so only use one.
  • You know you’re old when you don’t have enough wherewithal to blow out that one candle.
    • But this time it worked out. It’s a custom to make a wish (or a prayer) which is then supposed to come true or be answered if you’re successful in blowing out the candle(s). I prayed for the salvation of all the souls in the parish. I was unsuccessful in blowing out the candle. I was told to try again. So I said I’m going to have to think of something else. Everyone laughed. My prayer this time was for the salvation of all the souls in the parish with all extended families. I was successful. I hope that is answered well at the Judgment. :-)
  • You know you’re old when… you’re the oldest person in the church at Holy Mass and in the social hall afterward.
  • You know you’re old when… you can remember a birthday party a long time ago like it just happened…

Dad’s quite happy here, just getting the picture. My sisters were battling, however, about the background, with what picture on the wall was to behind us. But mom won the day. We moved seats, twice, ending up below some artwork depicting Jesus’ good mom, the Immaculate Conception.

  • Anyway, you know you’re old when you forget it was you’re birthday and all of a sudden people start singing Happy Birthday and they’re all looking at you, and only then you figure it out.
  • You know you’re old when you know more history than anyone else only because you lived through most of it yourself. And you know you’re old when you have to depend on other jokes about, “You know you’re old when…”
  • You know you’re old when lots of friends and family have preceded you to the next life.
  • You know you’re old when you think you’ve got it all figured out, then Jesus tells you that you don’t, not yet, and you actually listen to Jesus and take in that reprimand.
  • You know you’re old when you start praying like never before, like there’s no tomorrow, because now you’re convinced that you’re not immortal in this world, and you’re not depressed about this, but are filled with hope of the life to come, knowing that we can already begin to love the One in Whom we hope, for as Saint Paul says, grace, sanctifying grace, the indwelling of the Most Holy Trinity, turns to glory in heaven, a bond between this world and the next that is stronger than death, incomparably stronger, unbreakable on the Lord’s part.
  • You know you’re getting old when you start to say, “I don’t know why the good Lord still has me here in this world. I so long to be with Him in heaven.” I know an older gentleman who got a visit from a nurse from an insurance company, who asked him a lot of questions, one of which was, “How are you?” He responded, “Well, I’d rather be in heaven.” She said that she was going to write down that he was depressed, and he immediately said, “No! I’m not depressed! I love the good Lord and just want to praise Him in heaven! Wouldn’t that be wonderful?!” She said, “I’m writing down that you’re depressed.” Absolutely proving that he wasn’t depressed, that fellow speaks of the good Lord to whomsoever in the good hope that he will get them interested in praising the Lord and looking forward to going to heaven as well.
  • You know you’re old when your aches and pains are so numerous that your grade school maths would be inadequate to render an accounting.
  • You know you’re old when you know all the versions of the Happy Birthday song, such as “May you live ’til you die. May you live ’til you die. May you live ’til you die-e. May you will ’til you die.” …
  • And you know you’re old when ______________. (I’m sure you can fill in the blank…)

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UPDATE about that “communications” van: add State Bureau Crime Scene Investigations van

I asked someone much more in the know about special communications than I about his opinion of this van pictured above. He threw out an answer, non-committal. I thought that was it. But then he poured on the research and got hold of me again. He could be wrong, but he said that it appears to be an FCC investigations van. Apparently, what they do is make their way to an area where there are suspect interferences with communications. Indeed. We’ve had really a lot of that in the area at high levels over the past couple of years. I reckon that there are lots of things going on behind the scenes but ready to explode into open court. So, if this is what it is, this utterly unmarked, entirely custom, way under the speed limit, with accompaniment van is entirely welcome. The more the merrier.

Meanwhile – and this is just hearsay – someone told me that they had seen another weird van around town, on main street, in fact, up at city hall, twice. That van I’m sure also has lots of custom things going on with it, as it belongs to the State Bureau of Investigation Crime Scene Investigations Unit. I’m not saying I know what the crime was – and I always regret any crime took place – but if the crime being investigated is what I think it is, I’d say that the two vans are working in tandem.

Weirdly, just a fun fact on the side, all of a sudden the local sheriff’s election has been moved up from November 2022 to just about six weeks from now.

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Mt 5:39 turning other cheek: meaning

Repost! Warning: Bad language. Violence. The following monologue is what I’m after:

  • No! No! No! No! No! No! No! Con paz! Con paz! Soerte la pistola! Tirala! Pregunto, paisano: quiere morir?
  • Super loose translation: No! No! No! No! No! No! No! With peace! With peace! Take your gun! Throw it down! I ask you, my friend: Do you want to die?

That’s the CIA/FBI team at the El Paso/Ciudad Juarez border. They end the threat of the cartel idiot deadly aggression. That’s the kind of turning the other cheek that I’m talking about!

But is that what Jesus means by turning the other cheek? You remember the passage:

  • Offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. (Matthew 5:39)

“Offer no resistance.” That’s the specious politically correct translation of the New American Bible, which belongs to the Confraternity for Christian Doctrine, which is itself under the thumb of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The translation needs some examination. If we depend on our weak and cowardly fallen human nature, proffering “offer no resistance” would seem to be correct, especially in view of the immediate and purposed parallels of the larger passage related by Matthew (5:38-42):

  1. When someone strikes you on (your) right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.
  2. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well.
  3. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles.
  4. Give to the one who asks of you; do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.”

So, the translation “offer no resistance” would seem to be right and just. Indeed, Jesus prefaces all these remarks by saying:

  • “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, BUT I SAY TO YOU…” (Matthew 5:38)

In other words, Jesus is specifically rejecting a merely equal and opposite reaction, the “tooth for tooth” modus operandi elsewhere promoted in the Sacred Scriptures inspired by the ever truthful Holy Spirit:

  • “Limb for limb, eye for eye, tooth for tooth! The same injury that a man gives another shall be inflicted on him in return.” (Leviticus 24:20)
  • “Do not look on such a man with pity. Life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, and foot for foot!” (Deuteronomy 19:21)

Jesus is not pitting Himself against the Holy Spirit, for such instruction regarding the gravity of sin against our very brothers is holy, true, just and fitting for pedagogy regarding the one supreme teaching on forgiveness provided by Jesus when He put Himself in our place, taking on the sentence of death we deserve for our sin against Him, the Innocent for the guilty, Life for life (He died on the Cross), eye for eye (the Shroud of Turin seems to depict the crowning with thorns also piercing His eyes), tooth for tooth (He was beaten beyond recognition on His face, His mouth), hand for hand (recall the nails of the crucifixion), and foot for foot (recall the nails of the crucifixion)!” We have to know how serious the sin is if we are going to correctly ask for forgiveness and be prepared to receive it fruitfully.

In view of the sins of all crucifying our Lord Jesus, we all deserve everything we get. The great saints emphasize this with a passion. Yes. But is this what anyone is talking about, Jesus or the saints? Should we just give up and say that “offer no resistance” is a good translation and be done with it?

I don’t know about you, but my entire spirit rebels against all of this seeming doormat stuff of questionable translations. Just because we are forgiven and we are to forgive others, that doesn’t mean that we just throw justice out the window. Jesus stood up for Himself over against the scribes and Pharisees, turning the tables with a word, but with ferocity. Jesus also stood up for us, His little flock. So, what are we to think of all this? Is it too difficult? This is important. Let’s take a deeper dive into the ever enthralling words of the Holy Spirit about the Incarnate Word of God, Christ Jesus.

What if that “offer no resistance” thing actually meant something else altogether? What if the actual literal Greek μὴ ἀντιστῆναι followed by the dative means “not to make a stand over against a very particular thing”? Ha ha!

Making a stand over against a very particular thing IS NOT EQUATED with a merely equal and merely opposite reaction:

  • Being merely reactionary implies that we have nothing to add to over against unjust aggression except more aggression of the same unjust sort. We’re not to stoop to that level, you know, the ol’ “I’LL SHOW YOU!” That helps no one. And it says that we are controlled by the other person entirely, ever so predictable. Our identity then lies in reaction: we are vacuous nothings.
  • Instead, making a stand over against a very particular thing embraces love in truth or “tough love” as some call it. It’s not a reaction, but a way of being a true friend, a good parent, how to bring someone out of the quagmire, enabling them to grow, even in the midst, necessarily, of letting a needy person know that they are on the wrong path.
  • Also, making a stand over against a very particular thing doesn’t rule out offering pardon to someone who needs pardoning. In fact, it is necessary. You can’t forgive something that you hold to be good. Someone is not able to take in forgiveness if they are convinced they are not doing any wrong ever. Someone is not able to forgive if they are convinced no wrongdoing was committed. Take the liberal-knucklehead priest who, upon hearing a confession to murder said that that’s not a sin at all, that the person will not receive absolution because there was no sin in the first place. How frustrating is that?
  • Just to say: being a doormat, encouraging people to commit unjust aggression, is no favor to the other person or to yourself. Don’t be the doormat. Forgive real iniquity. Make sure the other person knows you’re not being a doormat.

Yikes! So, let’s examine those parallels offered by Jesus to see if they are really about being a doormat. When we go through these, you’ll see how easy it is to drink the Kool-Aid of the nicey nice crowd, but also how good it is to follow Jesus with integrity:

(1) “When someone strikes you on (your) right cheek, turn the other one to him as well”:

Keep in mind that the idea here is that we are dealing with unjust, violent aggression. In this situation, turning the other cheek has nothing to do with weakness, but rather everything to do with challenging to a fight: Is that all you got? No, really, show me your worst, and then when you’ve shown me your worst – with me having turned my other cheek to you to give you a fresh target – I will then give you some instruction about how things really are. In the following video (language and the kind of violence Jesus Himself is talking about), a girl is struck on her cheek, hard. The Star of David tattoo guy steps in to be the other cheek that is turned. The black-vest guy had already jacked up the stakes with another strike as deadly threat: “I’m the guy who decides if you’re going to walk out of here alive.”

Jesus’ advice is about not backing down to unjust aggression against the innocent. It’s about stopping an ongoing threat by showing bullies that they are actually nothing more than cowards. There are so very many examples of this in the Gospels, wherein Jesus demonstrates how cowardly His opponents are, for instance, Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead in front of the murderous Herodians, or by having the guy with the withered hand come out front and center over against those being so hateful. In both instances the Herodians and the hateful immediately plotted to kill Jesus. That’s what cowards do. See Mark 3:6; John 12:10, etc. Might we suffer for this? Sure. No one said that “Take up your cross daily” was a walk in the park. Solidarity with those who suffer has consequences. But this also leads to repentance and salvation for aggressors such as with the Centurion on Calvary (Mark 15:39). I have many stories. Oh my. There are so many cowards who instantly run when you stand up to them. Some do feel guilty and return to the Lord.

(2) “If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well”:

Keep in mind that the idea here is that we are dealing with unjust acquisition of private property by someone who hides behind the cover of corrupt attorneys and corrupt judges. Keep in mind that those listening to Jesus in sincerity are not those who have tons of money to burn on litigation. Handing over a cloak as well has nothing to do with weakness. It is an insult, highly sarcastic: Oh, so you think that ripping people off is what life is all about. Well, let me just seal you in your stupidity. Here, take my cloak as well, you stupid little fool. No, really! Take it! It is God Himself who will come to judge the living and the dead and world by fire. Jesus will take care of bringing such people around if they want that. But Jesus doesn’t want us to wear ourselves out with resources we don’t have on people whose only joy in life is to make others miserable. It’s not the tunic or cloak, but the power to inflict misery that they are after. Anecdote: I know people who will spend tens of thousands of dollars to litigate about their entitlement to be a pain in the neck. I remember one in particular who gifted an ultra-cheap CD player to another someone decades ago. The recipient of decades ago gave that CD player to me quite recently. I received it graciously, but, having no need for it, I in turn, gave it immediately to charity. I even had the permission of the original recipient to do this. WELL, the original purchaser of decades ago freaked out, recalculated the cost of that CD player in today’s money, something like 35 dollars and 47 cents ($25 at the time?), and demanded I pay it back, with interest, and I had better pay this immediately or else! I instantaneously offered to drive hours on end to deliver the few dollars, in coins, to the penny. Ha ha ha. I called the bluff. That offer was forthwith rejected. I have done this many times in such situations. It’s just about guaranteed that the bully-coward will back down. Don’t think this is being a doormat. This is inflicting a huge burden of guilt upon them whether they think so or not. This is meant to bring them around for eternal salvation.

(3) “Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles”:

Keep in mind that the idea here is that we are dealing with unjust aggression, this time by the government. “Being pressed into service” is a terrible translation. The word is extremely technical in Greek: καὶ ὅστις σε ἀγγαρεύσει. It refers to temporary and immediate enslavement, dropping everything you’re doing, regardless, that very second, until even your health is going to be destroyed. The image is that of a relay race, handing off a baton, so that a courier is delivering a message from, say, an emperor to a mere vassal king. As the runner comes to the point of death, he hands this off to another who is under pain of death, of course, to take up the chasing of the wind. If a citizen shows himself exemplary with no complaint, and in fact doubles what is terribly unjustly expected of him, it is a challenge to the corrupt political powers that be. It rips the heart out of the person who is inflicting unjust expectations. I’ve seen this uncountable times: when unjust politicians come across an actually honest citizen, their physical and mental health suffers, sending them into a downward spiral until we just don’t hear from them anymore. Yep. But also this is meant to bring about the repentance of the bully-cowards who are fearful of themselves.

(4) “Give to the one who asks of you; do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow”:

All the previous parallel examples of Jesus deal with unjust aggression. They’ve been progressively jacked up: (1) personal; (2) public litigation; (3) governmental tyranny.

With number (4) in the series, we are not falling back to something merely personal as some sort of delving into the literary convention of “inclusion” (that which is found both at the beginning and end). No. The intensification of the series continues. Here, there is an involvement of God. Rather unexpected? No. The other examples involved unjust aggression. But we are such tender snowflakes that we don’t know what unjust aggression is as opposed to imaginary micro-aggression tantrums. Take someone rightly asking for a loaf of bread to feed his kids instead of him stealing a loaf of bread. Just give the guy a loaf of bread and be Bishop Charles-François-Bienvenu Myriel in your benevolence toward Jean Valjean. Or else! This time we’ll be forced to man up because God Himself will force our lack of will, our lack of sympathy, our lack of charity and faith. And if we go so far as to take a pledge, such as a man’s cloak (back to #2 above!) then we will give it back to him, or else we will face the wrath of God Himself. Jesus is citing Exodus 22:25-26:

  • “If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, you shall return it to him before sunset; for this cloak of his is the only covering he has for his body. What else has he to sleep in? If he cries out to me, I will hear him; for I am compassionate.”

When God Himself says “I will hear him”, it means that God will smack down the un-compassionate person harder than any personal attack, harder than any public litigation, harder than any governmental litigation.

In other words, Jesus has no time for idiot narcissists in their unjust aggression.

In other words, Jesus wants to make sure we are not the idiot narcissists who, in a self-serving confusion, conflate unjust aggression with a genuine and humble request.

Jesus wants us to stand up against unjust aggression in the manner in which we can do this according to the circumstances. He doesn’t want us to waste the opportunity of an unjust aggression; Jesus wants us to provide the aggressor with a lesson in whatever way we are able in the circumstances.

But we had also better make sure we are not the unjust aggressors. God will forgive us if we forgive others.

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Tommy the Toronto Cardinal’s vax mandate: dark evil as occasion for a good retreat: Oorah!

Starting Sunday afternoon October 3 the priests of my own diocese will be on retreat. Maybe. Jesus set a precedent for His future bishops and priests at least to attempt to go on spiritual retreat:

  • “Come apart into a desert place, and rest a little. For there were many coming and going: and they had not so much as time to eat.”

That didn’t work out. Instead:

  • “As Jesus went ashore and beheld the vast crowd, he had compassion on them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.”

That may well happen. During the retreat there are many dramas in society and the church which, we were promised, will be addressed. I mean, try doing a retreat and not at all addressing the impact of those dramas that are directly and immediately affecting our own physical, social, economic and spiritual and priestly lives. But however that works out with the topics covered, or not…

It is before we finish the retreat on Friday afternoon October 8 that unvaxed, untested bishops, priests and deacons of the Archdiocese of Toronto to the north of us will already have been forbidden to administer any Sacraments to the Lord’s Little Flock, so that they [LifeSiteNews reports] “could face disciplinary action that includes termination.” Cardinal Tommy severely pre-reprimands those whom he assumes will lie about being vaccinated. Just. Wow. Is that projection of a fraudulent attitude or what?

  • “If an employee does not comply with this policy, or is found to have submitted fraudulent proof of vaccination, a fraudulent test result, a fraudulent summary, or fraudulent documentation in support of an accommodation request, they may be subject to discipline (which includes being placed on an unpaid leave of absence), up to and including termination of employment for just cause,” and this not only for those ordained, but also and “not limited to parish staff, lectors, choir members, and ushers.”

I mean, I’m not going to lie about getting some murderous “vaccine”, giving bad example. I’m quite happy to proclaim that I did not and will not be getting any “vaccine” the creation of which depends on extracting live organs from live babies extracted from the womb, fully developed, fully healthy, until that point when they are murdered for big pharma profits, for murder-for-hire recipients.

Such rancor from Cardinal Tommy Collins might threaten to put a dark cloud on our own retreat for us, a presbyterate of another diocese in a different country – what with expected solidarity among brothers in blood (offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Persona Christi) – but the fact of the matter is that this kind of tyrannical arrogance has already been playing out for quite some time in other (arch)dioceses right around the world and throughout North America, in Hamilton, in Moncton, in Lexington, in Patterson, in… the… Vatican… and we’re already quite used to it, already put on edge by it.

  • “But Father George! Father George! You have no standing to say such things because you’re, like, stupid, and the Cardinal is, like, a Cardinal, and he’s got, like, academic degrees, you know, from Jesuits and stuff and everything!”

Yes, well, it’s embarrassing, but just like Cardinal Tommy Collins, yours truly also got his Licentiate in Sacred Scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute (Jesuits) and, just like then Father Tommy, yours truly also got a Doctorate in Sacred Theology. And it’s even worse, just like I got a Cardinal friend to fly to these USA from the Holy See and give a conference on the priesthood at the Pontifical College Josephinum, and then later got Father Swetnam to teach an entire course there on the priesthood and the Letter to the Hebrews, I also was deputed some years ago to invite Cardinal Tommy to give our diocesan retreat on the priesthood in our tiny WNC mountain diocese. He’s the only one who refused…

  • “Father George! Father George! That proves you have no standing because you’re, like, the pastor of the smallest parish in North America and Cardinal Tommy is, like, a Cardinal of by far the largest archdiocese in his entire nation, so he’s like, big, and you’re, like, small, and besides, he’s, you know, a Cardinal, like Blase, Joseph-baby, the Wilty-guy and, you know, Teddy-bear, and, like that Francisco guy in Guadalajara, you know… like a Cardinal and stuff…”

Sigh. Anyway, LifeSite reports that the memo claims that the archdiocese “will accommodate individuals who are unable to comply with this policy on the basis of a protected human rights ground to the extent required under human rights legislation.” But that’s total B.S., as LifeSite points out, because:

  • “Last month the Archdiocese of Toronto released another memo telling clergy they are not to sign any letters of religious exemption regarding the COVID-19 vaccines, despite its connection to abortion. The injections, which all have connections to fetal cell lines that were sourced from aborted children, are a cause of moral apprehension for many faithful Catholics and high-ranking clergy alike.”

But should tyranny becoming ever so common throughout the Church darken a spiritual retreat? No. Not at all. Hahahahaha. Never. That’s not how it works. Here’s the deal:

  • “And we know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints.”

As so many have pointed out, the dear Lord has called us to live in these times, just as He has called the saints of other times to give witness by their very lives in their times, and they did so with joy, with enthusiasm, expecting the same inasmuch as they already knew well the wounds of Christ Jesus, knowing where they were going, where they now are, in heaven, with all the saints who have all given such witness. Great! Let’s get this done!

From the klaxoned “Aarúgha!” to “Oorah!” ;-) Amen.

When I was a kid in the early 1960s, this is what we heard in my hometown when my USMC fighter-attack-pilot dad was mayor, you know, just as a test, at high noon, but also for old times’ sake, right?

Here’s the deal for little me: The good Lord has provided me with a dad who knew how to fight, who is my hero, whose example I strive to follow, and I, as a priest, have a vocation to follow Jesus, The Warrior of this Ecclesia militans, as the Master so the disciple. Whether we use it or not, all of us priests have all the heavenly wherewithal to follow Jesus and all the saints in protecting the least of the brethren, in the womb. Let’s do it! Let’s get it done! Oorah!

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Toto – Africa – Like a leprous (I get it now)

I never really heard those words in the lyrics of Toto-Africa before, from 1’54” to 2’04”, just 10 seconds…

  • “I know I must do what’s right, sure as Kilimanjaro rises like a leprous above the Serengeti.”

If you didn’t know, leprosy turns any skin tone albino, white as snow, or foaming-at-the-mouth-vomit…

This song came out in 1982, with the video in 1983. I was already lost in studies in Rome, Italy, for years, and knew nothing of any songs outside of “Resta con noi…” or “Tu scendi dalle stelle…” Yesterday, YouTube suggested that I needed to hear Toto’s Africa. I had heard it previously, in more recent decades, but long enough ago that I was coming back to it fresh. That helps one to notice that which one might not have been ready to hear. This happens all the time, of course, in reading Sacred Scripture, the writings of the saints…

We live in dark times when those who have the pretense to enforce power perverted to evil attack those who simply want to “do what’s right” like Toto’s Africa says. “Doing what’s right” singles that person out, makes that person a target.

Kilimanjaro raises itself in peaceful pristine goodness above the always dramatic Serengeti, making itself a target, first of all for mockery. Because of the snow in the upward reaches, it’s called “leprous”, to be avoided, unclean, a blight on the rest of, you know, surely virtuous and ever so self-righteous humanity which remains down below in all politically correct sycophantry, that which sees any “doing what’s right” as evil self-righteousness that cannot be tolerated.

Such a person who “must do what’s right” has, however, first of all been convicted of any lack of righteousness in his life and is pushed by that which is good and holy to “do what’s right.”

And then there’s the pile-on by all those who are nervous with all that which is good and holy. They see another weak person like themselves but now “doing what’s right” as an incrimination of their evil. They must go on the attack.

The favorite thing in all the world is to climb Kilimanjaro, rising above the Serengeti, only to vomit all over Kilimanjaro for lack of oxygen at its 19,341 feet up into the atmosphere. You think that’s snow flowing down from the top? Bwahahaha. Think again.

This is what any knucklehead priest who is convicted of his own lack of righteousness and now “must do what’s right” has to look forward to enduring. But, no matter, he goes ahead and “does what’s right” anyway, come what may. But that’s Jesus upon whom people vomit. Otherwise they wouldn’t bother.

Meanwhile, being Kilimanjaro, one has a view no one can take away of the vast sea of humanity being drawn toward it as by a magnet, a tractor-beam. It is a view one has when, after being dragged across hell, across Calvary, one finds oneself to be crucified up high with Christ Jesus, in solidarity with Him as He is in solidarity with us. Jesus said: “When I am lifted up [on the Cross] I will draw all to myself.” He is vomited upon, spit on. But it is a view up high that one cannot abandon, seeing all of humanity dragged across hell, despite itself, to be in reverence, in humble thanksgiving, finally, before the very Son of the Living God.

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I think there’s a great again meme in there

These billboards are all over Pennsylvania, and will remain up for a couple of months. They were put up by former Republican state senator Scott Wagner. Good on Scott Wagner.

So, continuing meme, how about…

You get the idea.

I’m sick of it. I’m sick of all of it. I’m sick of individuals who betray these U.S.A. I’m sick of individuals in the Church who betray Christ Jesus. I’m sick.

But, enough of that. That’s just me being weak and useless.

I should be enthusiastic, joyful to live in these times. What a privilege to live in these times. Thank you Jesus.

So how about something like this…

That portrait of Saint Thomas More as Chancellor of England under King Henry VIII always had pride of place in the law offices of my dad.

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“You know you have tomatoes growing when…” – JLK

  • “You know you have tomatoes growing when you see three or four in a bunch.”

So said my neighbor to the hermitage of yore, many times over the years, as he patiently tried to teach me some gardening. Each time I see three or more tomatoes I think of him. The best thing he taught me about gardening (which was the whole point of teaching me about gardening) was that it was to be a time to walk about with Saint Joseph and the Lord Jesus.

When I saw these six tomatoes in a group above (if you look closely you’ll see another hiding behind, top center) I knew I had to put this up on the blog, which he follows from time to time. I know it’ll make him smile. And that’s good.

He’s a good teacher. I’ve tried to learn how to grow tomatoes, and I’ve begun to learn to recognize being smacked down by my guardian angel so as to know that Saint Joseph and the Lord Jesus is with me. It couldn’t be clearer that this is the case when I see a new flower for the Immaculate Conception to put up on the blog. No matter what chaos is happening in the church and the world none of that matters, because salvation is with us, the simplicity of being with the Holy Family.

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Mount Carmel Stations of the Cross acid attack & now videos hacked, cancelled

This is a remanant screen shot of a set of two videos I shot, edited and published about the Mount Carmel Discalced Carmelite Monastery (situated over the cave of Elijah) outdoor Stations of the Cross, which stretch along the top edge of the cliff-mountainside all along and high above the city of Haifa, Israel. I had thought of putting up the videos last Friday morning (it being Friday), but I got distracted by the idiocy that is going on in society and the Church. My guardian angel had been very insistent: “Check on those videos! Put them up now! Do it now! NOW!”

But I didn’t. I am ever the recalcitrant Styrofoam-brained non-listener to my Guardian Angel. Or is it that I hear him loud and clear, but blow off what he has to say to me? The latter.

Meanwhile, last Friday night, like clockwork, I got a distressed email alerting me to the fact that the videos have disappeared. My heart sank instantly and my stomach started churning, until now, actually. I knew it was true because of sinking feeling about those videos earlier in the day.

I then checked on my private – locked-down – YouTube upload-archive. Those videos are gone, cancelled. Those were the only videos that were disappeared, executed, acid-attacked. And there were much more controversial wonderful videos on that locked-down page. Only these two were erased.

Those were such beautiful, though heart-wrenching videos. They document the acid attack.

Already 12 years ago, I lived for a month atop the Cave of Elijah on Mount Carmel at the invitation of the Discalced Carmelites. I was told all hush hush who the culprits of the acid attacks on the Stations of the Cross were back in the day, the whole lot of it, eye-witness descriptions of them (unmistakable), how they entered the dangerously steep and fenced in areas.

As the years have gone by, the culprits are now very likely high up on the computer freakness scale, you know, with access to all-access computers, and wanted any evidence of their crimes of yesteryear to disappear, it now not being politically correct for them to have had such a past.

But by this very fact they leave a trail that can be followed. ;-)

But, I perhaps shouldn’t complain too much. They now have full access to everything Google of mine:

  • My YouTube private page
  • WordPress, this blog, hosted by now parent company Google and its server farms
  • Gmail
  • Google Maps (real-time)
  • Google Drive
  • Google Docs
  • Google Contacts
  • Google Search
  • Google Translate … et alii …

At any rate, my life is always the open book. I don’t care. But I dislike that religious videos are being discourteously cancelled by cowards who, if I met them in real life, would run away. But, whatever. I have a life outside of cyberspace.

And I want to go to heaven. I’m saddened for those who will no longer be able to view those videos.

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Road danger: FedEx, bat out of hell, Teresa of Avila, Jesus, Guardian Angel…

The other day was such a consolation in the life of this priest. The TLM in the main parish church with confessions before and after, a great get-together with some priest friends, my own going to confession, all glorious. I love being a priest. And that continued later with the best “pauper’s funeral…” I digress.

Saint Teresa of Avila upped her situational awareness when all was going well for her on all levels. She totally expected a smackdown. I know how that goes. I’ve seen it uncountable times. And, sure enough…

The FexEx truck was in a rush passing on a double-yellow on a blind curve and wound up right in front of me in my lane. Brakes slammed. Steering wheel spun. But… Yikes! A guard rail and ravine… But, all was well.

Soon after that it was the bat out of hell. The second I saw her – like a half-mile back in the rearview mirror – I plugged in my ThinkWare F770 knowing there might soon be an accident at when a lane would disappear on the road. Either she’s going to crash out or run someone off the road…

I had already nicely pulled over into the left lane, lest I die. She passed in the arrowed right lane then ripped over to the oncoming traffic lane across the double-yellow in front of a blind curve just where the vehicle in front of me totally ran out of road. Was there an entire family in that vehicle? I don’t care what emergency she had; you don’t mortally endanger the general public for your little self.

This is what happened not all that long ago with such shenanigans:

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That’s not a tree. That’s the guardrail. The picture’s from the local newspaper.

Back to situational awareness and Teresa of Avila. Yep, just when you think all is going well, do what she did and recognize who you actually are before our Lord and Savior, Christ our God. Saint Teresa would bring a small image into chapel to assist her in not being distracted with niceness, the all things are going well thing. It was the image of “Ecce Homo”, Pontius Pilate’s monitum to the vicious crowd: “Behold the Man!”

So, for instance, I love being a priest of The High Priest. It’s always stunning to see His priesthood in action during, say, the sacraments. But I am fallen like anyone else. I might be having too good a time of it, with a risk of losing sight of why I’m loving the priesthood so much. And then… BAM! A warning to wake up, “smell the coffee” as my mom would say. And then a second warning (because I’m stubbornly the idiot)… BAM!

I thank my guardian angel for alerting me to the warnings or having my reactions be lightning quick. “Guardian Angel” as I call him, has his work cut out for him with me. I know that. I thank him. And I ask that my spiritual situational awareness also be heightened. That one’s more difficult. But not really. Because it’s just a matter of being happy to have Jesus, by His grace, draw us to be in reverence before the Father in all thanksgiving. Jesus does that work, and it cost Him. Let’s see… where’s that picture of Jesus next to Pontius Pilate?

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All things work together for the one who loves God, even…

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There are those who say that they will have a question for God if they make it to heaven, such as what’s the deal with wood-ticks and mosquitoes and wasps and hornets and yellow jackets. Myopic. And not recognizing the perfect ecosystems which we go about destroying. Mostly, it’s just not having a bit of humility, not wanting to open one’s eyes and be directed to the Creator by His Creation.

Meanwhile, this bit of stinging horror pictured above is just under the eves of the carport, just where I open the car door, so that when I stand up, all in black, these beasties think they are under attack, just inches away. I often feel them smashing into the “baseball” cap I wear. It’s their favorite spot no matter what I do, year after year. I’m allergic to such critters, a hereditary condition. Sorry, but I got out the ol’ wasp spray.

People say that Saint Francis wouldn’t like harming such innocent creatures, but that’s only because of the myths that have grown up around Saint Francis. No wimp, flowers in the hair hippie he, no, no, no. Go ahead, read the rule for his fledgling community that he wrote. Remember, he was deacon, and had courses in the law of the Church such as it was at the time. He is precise. He wants his friars in heaven. He wants them to be crucified to themselves and the world so as to live for Christ Jesus.

  • “But Father George, you’re talking about being crucified to yourself and to the world and you’re afraid of a little sting? Bwahahahahahahaha!”

I know. I know. But it’s just that a little sting could do me in right quick.

  • “But Father George, you used to have bee hives!”

Well, I never said I was always prudent in having no fear of anything. And these beasties are different than bees.

Our Lord says that we will have no questions when we enter, please God, into heaven. But I insist that I will have a question, but it will be merely rhetorical. When something bad happens to us here on earth, we tend to ask, perhaps with some bitterness: “Why is it always me?”

When we enter, please God, into heaven, it seems to me that we will be so thankful and so awestruck at the love and goodness and kindness of the Lord, that we will ask the same thing: “Why me, Lord? I am a useless servant who only did what he had to do.”

And you know what that is? Going to Confession. Oooo! That stung, didn’t it? ;-) But don’t be afraid of a little sting. The happiness of the grace of absolution, just so wonderful.

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Rattler’s rattle rattles plot twisting. [Update: Father Gordon’s humor.]

Whenever I put up a picture of a snake and say it’s a Timber Rattler (common here in Western North Carolina, especially on the road where I was) there are those who say that that’s impossible, a conspiracy theory, an exaggeration, just more unnecessary drama, all in a laudatory effort, methinks – PLOT TWIST – to normalize the presence of rattlers (which, to be sure, I love to see around as well). I don’t want to step on them. But I also don’t want to run over them. I love to see nature in full force.

The fake nay-sayers will say that surely I didn’t see the tell-tale pattern, or if I did, it was merely being sported by an immature Eastern Racer (Black Snake) or some such.

Then they’ll that surely I wasn’t close enough to see if it had a triangular head, you know, like this:

But then, still pretending to doubt my insistence, will say that is surely didn’t have an actual rattle, and add that some snakes can shake their tails with no rattles and make them kind of sound like rattles (true!). But, then there is this:

Now what? Baiting someone to think that this is not a Timber Rattler and so is therefore great for using in a humorous selfie like this?

image

[In the picture immediately above, that IS a Black Snake. But Father George is wearing a black shirt…] But what happens then – and this is the purposed intention of those deceitfully shrieking about conspiracy theories and exaggerations – what happens then is that I’ll pick up what is really a Timber Rattler and I’ll get bit by that serpent and die. [In speaking with Father Gordon this morning, he quipped that “it is unclear who was about to bite whom.” Hahaha. :-) I walked or rather slithered right into this. :-) ]

ANALOGY TIME!

  • “Father George! Father George! You’re exaggerating! You’re a conspiracy theorist! You’re melodramatic! Stop saying that Covid-19 vaccines are taken from living organs of human beings (aborted alive for this reason), because, you know, that means that you, Father George, are taking away our good feelings for getting Covid-19 vaccines! You meanie! You old meanie! Those were miscarriages taken out of dumpsters and, you know, stuff like that! Father George, you’re like that old Serpent, the ancient dragon and Satan, lying about doctrine and morality like you do. Father George, there is no sin, there is no Savior, there is no heaven, no hell, and therefore no Satan, no ancient serpent!”

And these people bait even the elect to fall into sin, getting bit by the demonic rebellion against the Living Truth that the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception is.

But then, plot twist:

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Advent: Watch!

Glazed eyes about Jesus’ admonition to us that we are to “Watch!” Just step back a bit from the ongoing chaos, out of kilter emotions, the darkness, whatever distance we think we are from God, and see that Jesus has a good grip on our souls and is bringing us close to Himself, to Heaven, to give as a gift to our Heavenly Father. Don’t let the mere residual effects of original sin fool you into thinking that you are left behind. We ARE too weak to follow Jesus, but that is why we are not our own saviors: Jesus is our Savior. We are to watch Him save us, grabbing us out of the quagmire so that His grace is sufficient for us, so that His strength shines out through our weakness. And this is the joy of the Holy Spirit, to watch Jesus save us. And in this way we can be humbly thankful, walk with Jesus as the friends He called us, right to heaven. That is our hope. We must have hope. Advent is all about this longing, this hope. The saints called this longing a painful anguish as they so very much desired to be in heaven with Jesus to praise and thank Him. Let that most holy anguish carry you right to Jesus, so as to watch! So, very joyful, all this, however somber, always standing with Mary in vigil.

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Homily: You SHALL love the Lord thy God with your ALL. Meanwhile a thief came in…

This is about methodology for doing an examination of conscience. It’s rather Christocentric, as it should be in order to do it with any success.

Meanwhile, before the end of Sunday Mass someone removed all the voter guides and prayers for people to vote according to proper morality which respects life from conception to natural death and which respects the free exercise of religion, etc. They were all put back after everyone had left, maybe after having listened to this very sermon on a proper examination of conscience. I will personally hand these out this coming Sunday (November 1, 2020). I had a copy of the voter guide, showing people, and a copy of the prayer, to which everyone listened. The guide and the prayer come from Priests for Life, Father Pavone, for whom I have a great deal of respect.

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The measure you give…

The above was sent in by a reader. I agree entirely. Hahahha.

Meanwhile, speaking of cats, let’s remember that all the saints are trying to live as one with the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the only One standing after the battle, albeit with scars:

The measure He gave was everything, which is what He demands of us:

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD; and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-7)

It’s His love and His truth that He draws un into.

P.S. I just noticed that I have a Dog administration-tag for dog posts on the blog, but no administration-tag for cat posts. Hmmm. I’ll still a dog-person. Pope Benedict was a cat-person. I guess we all have to be Lion of the Tribe of Judah persons. :-)

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“What the hell? You’re retreating? Now?”

Or, one might ask, more politely:

  • “Heavens! You’re going on retreat! How wonderful!!!”

All the priests of Charlotte Diocese ( + – ) are on retreat this week, though not together, but alone with Jesus, you know, because of Covid-19, they say. We’re supposed to be doing up a retreat on our own this week however we might make that work. So far, lots of emergency sacraments and what not.

But my Vicar Forane was quick to point out that Masses in the parish church should be cancelled, and they are, so that I might get a chance to slow down, offering the Holy Sacrifice in the rectory chapel. Great!

What this also means is a break from screen time. Less phone. Less of everything. I did have to edit Father Gordon’s post early this morning, and I thought it might be polite to put up this post. That’ll be about it for some days. But don’t think I don’t have some incisive comments that are on the back burner and also provide an occasion of ad hoc prayer. But a tech break is what I needed in conjunction with a spiritual retreat.

Did not Jesus say to His apostles: Come away, by yourselves, for a while…

Meanwhile, this past Sunday at 6:00 AM Adoration:

Happy Feast Day of Our Lady of the Rosary, Our Lady of Victory! Rather than write about that just today, it’ll be better, on retreat, to pray more of the Rosary. Yay!

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Organic gardening: more beasts & preying or praying?

These guys, in the tomato patch, go after Horn Worms.

And these guys pray, that is, prey on their prey, this time in the asparagus patch:

No pumpkin patch this year.

But there is a vineyard tended by ὁ γεωργός (georgos – George), the Tiller of the Ground, the Farmer, the Vinedresser. “I am the vine and my Father is the Vinedressor” (John 15:1).

So, some praying needs to be going on in this Garden of Eden turned Gethsemane.

It’s 5:15 AM on a Sunday. Usually up by 2:00 AM. But now it all starts:

  • 5:20 AM Feed the dogs!
  • 5:30 AM Run up to Holy Redeemer church in Andrews
  • 6:00 AM Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament (during which Confessions are heard). There’s also prayers such as a Rosary and the Breviary.
  • 7:00 AM Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament followed by the Litany of Humility etc.
  • 7:10 AM Race to Prince of Peace church in Robbinsville across the mountain
  • 7:35 AM Set up for Exposition and Mass
  • 8:00 AM Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament (during which Confessions are heard while there is also a Rosary)
  • 8:30 AM Holy Mass
  • 9:30 AM Race back to Andrews
  • 10:30 AM Confessions
  • 11:00 AM Holy Mass
  • 12:30 PM Chat with the counters
  • 1:30 PM Head out for Communion Calls, Last Rites, etc.
  • About 7:30 PM more or less. Collapse, after feeding the dogs.

Oh, did I mention that the Fathers of the Church repeated many times that the seedbed in the garden of the Lord is watered by the blood of the martyrs? Yes. We thank them for their prayers and guidance.

PS: I suppose those using Covid-19 to smash down religious rights will be apoplectic about such admissions as are made in this post, perhaps until they realize that this is the smallest parish church ever.

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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.

[It’s 2020. This was written now eleven years ago. It was Padre Pio’s feast day the other day, on September 23. /// BTW, today marks 26 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 wielded by the angels at the end of Genesis 3. The suffering I went through to accomplish the academic feat on a level of historical philology, involving many, many years of library rat-ness, not REsearch but rather original hard work, agony, really, is nothing at all compared to what Padre Pio understood in an instant by experiencing personally this fiery sword which I have only come to know academically. I am, to date, the only one to have accomplished this academic feat through the centuries, through the millennia. I’m pretty proud of it – and that’s a sin – and I am trying to get over it. It helps to have come to know someone who was alive in my lifetime who experienced precisely, personally, exactly what I described on a merely academic level.

I am vindicated by Padre Pio’s experience. At the same time, 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 [obviously, his religious superior] 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] who presented himself to my mind’s eye [So, not an apparition, but entirely spiritual. People think angels are all fluffy chiffon pastels and cute. 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. My academic, pedantic translation of this three-fold double-reverse verb is this in context: 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.” Thus, if we were to try to grasp at the fruit of the Tree of the Living Ones, the work of this sword, of this grace, wielded by the angels, would turn that, with our assent, into humbly receiving the Fruit of the Tree of the Living Ones, that is, the Eucharist. This is also the sword with which the Carmelites depict Elijah. See their fiery coat of arms below. This is also the sword mentioned by Teresa of Avila. This is pre-eminently the sword of Saint Michael…] 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 such an angel 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 much more than any purgatory: he is bringing souls to heaven by his life becoming an intercession for all of us. What would I do, I who surely have a purgatory lasting until the end of time?]

discalced-carmelite-coat-of-arms

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

“From that day on I have been mortally wounded. [“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, again, “the sword which causes that which is presented to it to be transformed into its contrary.” Again, we are not to grasp arrogantly for the Fruit 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 such a religious superior, 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 and therefore our own 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. Jesus said that He would draw all to Himself when He is lifted up (on the Cross). 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! Help all whom Jesus wants to transform in His love!]

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