Tag Archives: Vocations

Father Byers’ tender snowflake exam

dung snow

So, there’s a secular business in ultra super liberal Connecticut called Silent Partner Marketing that has come up with a pre-employment exam (chapeau to FoxNews for picking that up). The exam takes the tender snowflakes out of the running straightaway. Methinks that this kind of questionnaire would be useful for candidates coming in to the seminary. The article repeats some of the questions. Let’s just see how I fare for those questions for a secular business. I will be honest. Here goes:

WHAT DOES AMERICA MEAN TO YOU?

While any democracy of fallen human beings will have its faults and foibles and even downright wrongdoing, these can be overcome with the pursuit of justice and mercy, the honesty and integrity of which come about with the acceptance of salvation from God who has redeemed us all. I am everyday thankful for those who serve and lay down their lives in service. Upholding the Constitution by way of the first enumerated inalienable right to the free exercise of religion (along with the others) has pride of place in my heart and soul.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT GUNS?

Self-defense / defense of the innocent is a right and duty enshrined in our Constitution and held up by natural law as a contribution to the virtue of justice. I’m happy to carry a concealed carry permit.

WHAT DOES ‘PRIVILEGE’ MEAN TO YOU?

No matter what unrepeatable circumstances we have, we are all gifted by God with some circumstances that we can rightly claim to be privileges if we humbly get out of those circumstances whatever we can in the time we have, that is, for our own sake and the sake of others. Being bitter and envious is sheer idiocy. Throwing away gifts for the sake of mere political correctness is madness.

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED AND WHY?

This is a bit of a touchy-feely question, but that’s the world we live in here in these USA, right? I too can wear my heart on my sleeve. Here goes: I distinctly remember the entire scene in extreme detail since I remember everything when I was a little kid back to even one year old. It might be the one and only time I’ve ever cried. My mom told me I never cried as a baby. When I was two and a half years old, in mid-Summer, I was beaten to a pulp by my four year old brother. He had chased me into the basement with its tile floor. He tackled me and, sitting on my stomach (I thought my hips were breaking), he smashed my head repeatedly against the floor, making me see stars though not making me pass out, just whaling on me with repeated punches. I hid behind an old couch pushed against the wall and the tears flowed, making a puddle, the old “cry me a river” was true in this case. And that was that. When I was done it was over. I started to learn some self-defense after that with one of the neighbor kids, successfully I might add. Oh, yes, my eyes welled up when dad died, and then not long after when mom died. I do sometimes get choked up when speaking of a friend’s death.

WE WORK VERY, VERY CLOSELY WITH A LOT OF POLICE DEPARTMENTS AND SO YOU NEED TO BE COMFORTABLE AND WILLING TO SUPPORT THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO SERVE AND PROTECT. ARE YOU?

Yes. I’ve even put on the Officer Down! Memorial Dinner in our little town with seven counties of local law enforcement in attendance, along with various levels and departments and bureaus of the Feds coming to pay their respects to those fallen in the line of duty, and also to have an enjoyable day together. I’m thinking of taking the civilian FBI course for those interested in working closely with law enforcement.

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O.K. Well, that’s that. But how about if we add a few more questions for the priesthood, you know, for would-be seminarians. I’ve come up with a few here, but help me by adding more questions in the comments. I admit, I’m ruthless here. The rule is that any insufficiently or otherwise dodged question demands a lengthy grilling, not necessarily GITMO style, but a grilling nonetheless. So, here goes, in two sessions:

First session:

  • What is a vocation?
  • To what, exactly, are you entitled as a priest? Be specific.
  • What do you think about mercy and contraception?
  • What do you think about mercy and divorce and remarriage?
  • What do you think about married priests?
  • What do you think about gay priests?
  • Is any truth absolute?
  • Is any moral law without exception?
  • Is hell forever?
  • What is your take on authority and the freedom of the children of God?
  • Have you ever volunteered for anything? List them all. If not, why not?
  • What do you think of the SSPX? If you have no opinion, why is that?

Second session:

  • Have you read the Bible? If yes, how many times?
  • Have you read the proclamations of the ecumenical Councils of the Church? Vatican Council II? Vatican Council I? The Council of Trent?
  • Have you read the Catechism of the Catholic Church?
  • When’s the last time you knelt in adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament?
  • When’s the last time you recited the Holy Rosary?
  • Do you make a regular sacramental Confession?

Again, please add more in the comments section. Perhaps you can see where I’m going here. I remember an Archbishop who had would-be seminarians volunteer at the Cathedral parish for the Summer. He told them his own personal schedule to start the day with adoration at an early hour and invited the would-be seminarians to attend though it was up to them to do so or not. Their “real” duties were to be given them every day in the parish office. All the seminarians excelled in their “real” duties. Only some came to the adoration. The one’s who came to adoration were accepted, the others let go. Some think that is a good idea, some think it is horrible. It is what it is.

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Filed under Confession, Priesthood, Vocations

Gunslinger priests: on consecrated canonical digits vs trigger fingers

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A reader recently asked:

“Not to belabor it, but, did I miss the column where you explain why you (1) feel you need to carry a gun? (2) Don’t the same fingers that hold the Host, hold the trigger?”

(1) “Feel the need.” That’s a strange statement. If anyone carries a gun because of feelings, they should not, must not carry a gun. That’s the definition of psychosis. You’re right to rebel against that, but wrong to put that on anyone who does carry. Feelings are not the reason a sane person carries a gun. Not everyone who carries a gun is psychotic.

At any rate, I have many reasons (forget feelings) why I carry a “carry permit” in my wallet.

  • Is it that I have, in fact, been shot at and had a gun held menacingly in my direction many times in my life, throughout my life? No, that wouldn’t be it. I really couldn’t care less. I’ve lived this long, right?
  • Is it that I’ve had quite a lot of contact with “successful” terrorists these past decades? No, that’s not it either. A gun wouldn’t have been a help or been used in any of the situations in which I’ve been. Well, in one or two situations… Anyway, that’s hypothetical as I didn’t have a gun and I lived to tell the tale, right?
  • Is it perhaps that I have a background that is interesting enough for the State Department to issue me a false passport for my protection, and then put a perpetual protection order out on my behalf? Nope, not that at all. After all, they’re helping me, right?
  • It is that I think I will certainly run into a bad situation in which I wish I had a gun, you know, like Father Kenneth Walker? Certainly not. I mean, most law enforcement officers go their entire careers without ever even once taking their guns out of their holsters except for re-qualification at the target range. It could happen, but…
  • It is that I often am to be found on the most violent roads in Western North Carolina where I’ve faced deadly situations a half-dozen times already? Definitely not it. Those were all once-off incidents.

So, what is it then?

  • Is it that I want to be available for any contingency in which doing this would be helpful for the defense of the innocent when the police are only minutes away? Yes, that’s a reason, as this is always a positive contribution to the virtue of justice.
  • Is it that my legs, a bit crippley, are too unstable to do what young Francesco Possenti (Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows) did in stealing guns from the arsonist / rapists invading his village? Convenience can also be a reason to carry a carry permit.
  • Is it that to be a chaplain for the police in some parts of this diocese one has to go through the FBI course which includes getting trained up in weapons? Yes, that’s a reason. I would say it’s the reason.

(2) “The same fingers.” An attempt at helpful, glorious irony? Or simply a non-sequitur if I ever saw one? Here’s the deal: a positive contribution to the virtue of justice by way of our Lord laying down His life, standing in our stead, taking on what we deserve for our sin so as to have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us is not contradictory to a positive contribution to the virtue of justice by way of defense of the innocent. Justice is justice and one is not to offer some sort of apology for justice.

Stepping up like this will, of course, lay one wide open to getting killed. I don’t see this as contradictory to the statement of Jesus that laying down one’s life for one’s friends is the greatest act of love.

It’s true! I’m not a LEO and I’m not in the military. I’m just a mere citizen. Ah, but that’s the answer, isn’t it?

Just to say: most priests I know have carry permits. Yes, most priests I know are both on the younger and more conservative side of things. But I’ll add a story about perhaps the most liberal priest in this diocese who would throw out LEOs if they came to Mass in uniform, including a full duty belt. Really. He would stop Mass and make a scene until they left. I guess that was a ploy to look liberal, you know, to get praise from the liberal crowd. That priest, mind you, carries a gun himself. I smiled a wry smile when I found that out.

Back to feelings… What if – God forbid – I shoot someone in the justifiable defense of innocent human life? Could I go ahead and consecrate the Body and Blood of our Lord with the same fingers that held the gun and pulled the trigger? Why not? Would feelings be quite overwhelming about having taken someone’s life? Maybe. Even probably. But that’s an occasion to be introduced more deeply to the Sacred Mysteries. Our fallen human nature tends to obfuscate in fear of the deadly seriousness of Jesus’ love for us. But that must be overcome in His grace.

Canon law forbids a man to be ordained a priest if he has ever murdered anyone, perhaps forgetting about Saul (later Saint Paul) and Saint Stephen. But killing is not necessarily murder. Also, shooting is not necessarily killing, as you never shoot to kill. You shoot to stop the threat. I’m sure there are many “Buts” to be answered. It’s a discussion worth having. Am I upset with the question? No. Not at all. There has to be a way to begin the discussion. Distinctions are to be made. We learn together.

Look, no one ever wants to pull a trigger. But there are certain prosecutorial tricks used to convict someone, but none of them are true:

  • You have personal defense rounds which stop in the person you’re shooting, meaning you intended to kill, wanted to kill. /// No, that’s not true. You simply don’t want the round to go through the perp, wounding but not stopping, and then through an innocent bystander, and another and another, as can happen with full metal jacket.
  • You had a trigger job done, meaning you intended to kill, wanted to kill. /// No, that’s not true. You simply want to be as accurate and quick as possible in order to save lives. That’s what it’s all about.
  • You do target practice a lot, meaning you intended to kill, wanted to kill. /// No, that’s not true. You simply want to be ready to face serious untowardness appropriately, knowing well the tool you have to bring deadly imminent threats to naught.
  • You carry a gun because of feelings, whatever they are for whatever reason they are there, and the conclusion must be that you intended to kill, wanted to kill. /// No, that’s not true. See above… etc. etc. etc.

Now, having said all that, my joy in life is not to carry a gun. Instead:

  • My joy in life is to use my consecrated hands to consecrate the Most Holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus, gracious as He is to this sinner.
  • My joy in life is to use my consecrated hands to absolve sins in the confessional, or out of it for that matter, though I am not as joyful then as I am when I myself am absolved from my own sins.
  • My joy in life is to use my consecrated hands to pick flowers and give them to the Immaculate Conception: it’s what Jesus would have me do always in all circumstances. And we don’t need consecrated hands for that. More on that joy in another post. But for now…

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Filed under Guns, Priesthood, Vocations

Update: Father Byers’ run for political office?

just me 02Inspiration: My dad was commander of the famed USMC Fighter Attack Checkerboard squadron (flying the gull-wing Corsairs from 1943-1953), became whatever the jarhead equivalent of a JAG is by being put through Georgetown lawschool even while being the back-in-the-day equivalent of what is now called a Top Gun instructor at what is now Andrews (Air Force) Joint Command just South of the District of Columbia. He became the most powerful attorney in Central Minnesota, did some lobbying stints at the legislature, knew all the big name politicians, became Mayor of our town of @50,000, and had his sights on more encompassing offices in D.C. Meanwhile, he became father of my brother and myself, which I’m guessing distracted him quite a bit.

I asked him once why he wanted to be an attorney and a politician, and he said without hesitation (surprised at the question, stunned really), with all of his idealism shining out: “Because that’s my vocation, to help people. I want to help people. This is how I help people.” And, yes, he did quite a lot of pro-bono work, having deep respect, to the core, for salt-of-the-earth Americans who just want to do the right thing.

He very much wanted me to follow in his steps. We discussed that many times as he drove me to school on his way to work. My response was, of course, about the priesthood, and I would cite his own words back to him, and then wax poetic: “Because that’s my vocation, to help people. I want to help people. This is how I’m to help people……” He was wanting to start me off as a high school Page in the legislature. I can’t imagine what would have happened had I gone that direction.

Priests in politics are generally a catastrophe. Just recall a few: Jean-Bertrand Aristide (Haiti), Robert Drinan (USA), Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann (Nicaragua / Libya) along with both Ernesto and Fernando Cardinal (Nicaragua). They were president, in congress, worked as foreign minister or ministers of the interior and of culture, etc. D’Escoto was a particular problem for me personally when I was in Nicaragua back in the Reagan years.

As for me, there is presently a push for me to be elected as Alderman of Andrews with its 1,700 population. O.K., nothing like those other priests on so very many levels! Ha ha ha! And don’t forget, I was one of the best students ever of Father of Liberation Theology, Gustavo Gutiérrez (now O.P.). Honestly!

But, seriously, there are far reaching, deep problems here in Andrews which are suffocating (purposely?) the town literally right out of existence, and sometimes a quiet voice interested in law and order and jobs and getting stuff for kids to do instead of drugs and wanting infrastructure for basic utilities like water and services like proper local law enforcement and fire-fighting can be helpful. And sometimes a foreigner (I wasn’t born here) can in fact be helpful as he is not beholden to feuding and the good ol’ boys’ club that might well protect, fiercely, the drug world and all sorts of corruption. Seriously.

But, what does the Code of Canon Law say?

Can. 285 §1. Clerics are to refrain completely from all those things which are unbecoming to their state, according to the prescripts of particular law. [For instance, being a dealer for blackjack at the local casino.]

§2. Clerics are to avoid those things which, although not unbecoming, are nevertheless foreign to the clerical state. [An arguable point, as some political offices are rendered out of service, or that’s at least a possibility, right?]

§3. Clerics are forbidden to assume public offices [This is pretty absolute, but there is some backtracking about the scope:] which entail a participation in the exercise of civil power. [And this is a question for an alderman whose job descriptions in various municipalities or districts thereof are as different as one grain of sand is from another. Is an alderman specifically of Andrews, who, unlike other civilians, has a vote at town meetings, and who is representing the best interests of residents… is he per se EXERCISING civil power by a vote that is quite removed from the actual execution of a resolution, the who, what, why, where, when and how, which is instead brought to bear not at all by aldermen, but by the Mayor, by the City Manager, etc.? In other words, is there not a distinction between public office and the “participation in the exercise of civil power”? Otherwise, why bother, in the law itself, with adding a clause which does in fact make a distinction between public office and “participation in the exercise of civil power” unless there is such a distinction recognized by the legislator. Diversely, all public office by its nature is a participation in the exercise of civil power on some level, or that public office would not exist in the first place. There is a distinction, then, about the immediacy of the impact of the public office on any exercise of civil power, so that a more remote action, such as a vote, is permissible and even perhaps becoming of the clerical state depending on the service involved for the common good, while a more immediate practical day to day application is what is forbidden by this sub-paragraph.]

§4. Without the permission of their ordinary, they are not to take on the management of goods belonging to lay persons or secular offices which entail an obligation of rendering accounts. [But permission is in fact a possibility so possible that it is placed in the law itself.] They are prohibited from giving surety even with their own goods without consultation with their proper ordinary. They also are to refrain from signing promissory notes, namely, those through which they assume an obligation to make payment on demand.

By the way, just to say, for those who don’t know what an example of the Good Ol’ Boys club might be, here is an example: a statute that prohibits residents from running for office or getting a job with law enforcement if they are not “lifers”, that is, born here. Imagine the law suits on that one! And the results! “We do things our own way ’round here!” Etc.

I don’t need a membership to validate
The hard work I put in and the dues I paid
Never been to good at just goin’ along
I guess I’ve always kind of been for the underdog

Favors for friends will get you in and get you far
Shouldn’t be about who it is you know
But about how good you are

Don’t wanna be a part of the good ol’ boys club
Cigars and handshakes, appreciate you but no thanks
Another gear in a big machine don’t sound like fun to me
Don’t wanna be a part of the good ol’ boys club

There’s a million ways to dream and that’s just fine
Oh but I ain’t losin’ any sleep at night
And if I end up goin’ down in flames
Well at least I know I did it my own way, hey

Don’t wanna be a part of the good ol’ boys club
Cigars and handshakes, appreciate you but no thanks
Another gear in a big machine don’t sound like fun to me
Don’t wanna be a part of the good ol’ boys club

Favors for friends will get you in and get you far
But when did it become about who you know
And not about how good you are?

Don’t wanna be a part of the good ol’ boys club
Cigars and handshakes, appreciate you but no thanks
Another gear in a big machine don’t sound like fun to me
Don’t wanna be a part of the good ol’ boys club
I don’t wanna be a part of your good ol’ boys club

Just to say, being an Alderman for this tiny town hardly takes away from my priestly duties. In fact, I think it facilitates some of my objectives which I share with our police chief regarding community leaders finding ways to get us out of the quagmire we are in.

Any canon lawyer out there who is willing to take a stab at this? Be nice! I know I’m ignorant and that’s why I’m asking for help. Isn’t that a good thing that I’m wanting to follow the codified summary of the pastoral wisdom of the Church distilled from millennia worth of countless events? Whatever you think are my motives, don’t think I’m wanting to run for public office or not. That’s actually not my point. I’m wanting to know this for a multitude of reasons, and this is just one more thing that finally pushed me into investigating this aspect of the Church’s jurisprudence. Can you help?

UPDATE: O.K. So, that would be a NO! vote from one of the best canon lawyers in this dark world of ours. Absolutely not, he said. He even went so far as to say that being an Alderman for this itsy bitsy village would be an impediment to Holy Orders if I wasn’t already ordained. I’m slowly backing away away from the situation and then turning and running so fast I’m outrunning gamma rays. Having said all that, it’s nice to know you’re wanted. There was a bit of a powwow last night at a brewery with some of the local best of the best good guys representing all the first responders and even the office of the […edited…] doing their best to convince me to go ahead and see if this would be possible.

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Filed under Father Byers Autobiography, Politics, Priesthood, Vocations

Mother Xavier McMonagle, OSB: Conference for priests about a priest

  1. The life and the person of an outstanding priest who befriended the Tyburns.
  2. The Eucharist as the source, sublime divine unique prototype of all reality which we all live and experience today.
  3. How do you know which priests are really holy? Watch them at Holy Mass!
  4. The sudden death of a priest…

Father Daniel sounds like a really good priest who always wanted to share the greatest love of his life, Jesus, the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception. From the description here, I wish I were half the priest he was, as I would then be much better of a priest than I am now. A goal! ;-)

There will be, I know, a wide variety of impressions about this priest via the pictures of him shown in the video during the conference of Mother Xavier. So, I would say this:

  • Note what Mother Xavier holds to be important.
  • Note what the fruits of his ministry were: Vocations.
  • Note that the Tyburn nuns have made it their project to help priests and pray for priests, and that, because of this most impossible of all good works upon the face of this earth, they are eager to rejoice with the angels over any priest who believes in and loves Jesus. Father Daniel surely did. I would love for that to be said about me when I am called to leave this world.

May the soul of Father Daniel and the souls of all faithful departed priests, rest in peace. Amen.

Prayer for Priests (given by Marie Adèle Garnier to her spiritual daughters)

O my Divine Jesus, You are not only the Supreme Pastor but also the Life of the Pastors of Holy Church, breathe again upon the soul of each of them as You did upon Your Apostles.
Renew in them all the gifts and graces that you lavished on their souls on the day of their Ordination.

Make their hearts unsullied tabernacles where Your Spirit of Love may ever dwell.

Illumine their minds with the light of Your Divine word, that they may be able to illumine those who sit in darkness, and to guide into the right path the souls confided to their care.
Strengthen their whole being by Your Divine Power that they may conquer all their foes, seen and unseen.

Beloved Jesus, gentle, patient Lamb of God, make their life like the life You led on earth.
Divine Spirit, influence their every thought, word and action; take possession of their minds and hearts so that they live in You and You live in them.

Holy Mary, defend and protect them, each and all, under your mantle. Keep them close to you until Jesus calls them to the reward He has prepared for them in eternity. Amen.

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+Scicluna spikes seminarians’ terror

scicluna

The Archbishop of Malta told his seminarians to leave the seminary if they disagree with his own wild interpretation of chapter 8 of Amoris laetitia, which Pope Francis describes instead as a mere contribution to dialogue that has nothing to do with any magisterial intervention. To viciously smash down Jesus’ vocations based on a diverse contribution to dialogue is… well… let’s just say I wouldn’t want that on me going to the judgment before Jesus who called those young men to be His priests. All this while the priests of Malta are being bullied without mercy. Here.

To those seminarians in Malta I say: Just be faithful. Always in everything. This is about respect for Jesus. You are called to be faithful to Him before you are called to be priests by Him. If Jesus wants you to be a priest, He will make it happen. But you be faithful. Those kicking Jesus in the face think they have power because they are not yet killed by the holy angels of the Most High while they continue to kick Jesus in the face. But don’t agree with them. They have no power. Jesus took on the worst onslaught of hell when all His apostles ran away from Calvary. Stay with Jesus. Don’t compromise, ever. The Love Who is Living Truth is the Way. Don’t be afraid. No terror allowed! Rejoice and be glad. Read the beatitudes… to each other… support each other…

To +Charles: This is your moment, friend. That’s all you get. Happy?

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A vocations test on having a goal in the spiritual life. Goals are for the dogs.

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Seen yesterday during a Communion Call.

Can we be encouraged to try to do better? Sure. The resulting goal that we set for ourselves can issue from a reckoning about what our dogs think about us and what the reality actually is. Fine. But…

Don’t have any goals in the spiritual life. Sure, there are things like keeping the commandments with a firm purpose of amendment, of frequenting the sacraments, of following the precepts of the Church, etc.

But that’s our ecclesial life, so to speak, intimately tied, it is true, to our spiritual lives, but there is a distinction to be made. Our Lord plucks us up out of the quagmire of this world, up to cross, where He is, where He said He would draw when He is lifted up there. We might think that we can climb up on the cross ourselves and don’t need or are afraid of His help to get there. We know that the goal there is set by Jesus, not ourselves, namely, that we participate in the charity of God in drawing all to the Heart of our Savior.

But that is something we cannot bring ourselves into living. It is beyond us. We have no idea what it means to intercede for all the members of the Body of Christ who are being drawn by Jesus to Himself on the Cross. This outrageous charity is not the way we would go about things. If we set anything to do with that as a goal for ourselves at which to arrive through our own machinations of doing this and that, we will only arrive at what we imagined with our own brains. It’s not about us. It’s about Jesus. We are not our own saviors. He the One, the only One. He saves us because we cannot do this ourselves.

The fad in the formation of seminarians for all these years of darkness was to equate psychology and the spiritual life, making the seminarians into perfect human beings who then don’t need any grace of redemption or salvation. And then the house of cards falls. The most oft cited book on vocations here in these USA is all about God calling perfect human beings, or human beings who are well under way to becoming perfect human beings who don’t have any weakness consequent to original sin. This has a certain insanity about it.

laudie-dog 2

I wouldn’t want anyone in a seminary who thought he didn’t need Jesus because he was already the perfect human being (what arrogance!). Neither would I want someone around who despaired of depending on Jesus. I would want someone available to formation, that is, someone who was willing to be at ease with the fact of the cross we are commanded to carry, which includes all weakness consequent to original sin. Know yourself! Yes. To a point. But we don’t really know whence Jesus had to save us until He lifts us out of the quagmire.

Jesus doesn’t make us of ourselves stronger, more whole, perfect. No. He brings us into His strength, His truth, His love, His goodness and kindness, before which standard we can understand a bit more what He’s done for us, leaving us in humble thanksgiving. In heaven there will be no more weakness, but here, in justice, as consequences of sin freely chosen with the sin, yes.

Having a goal of humble thanksgiving? No. We don’t know what it is. But assent to it as our Lord brings you into being humble, into thanksgiving, into His truth and goodness and kindness.

“Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect!” commands Jesus. Yes. But not of ourselves, but because we are made to be members of the Mystical Body of Christ. Jesus is perfect. He’s the Son of His Father. He’s the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception. It’s all about JESUS!

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I think of beer when I recall the great priest-saints & also my unworthiness

Yep. That’s about right. It’s really cool being a donkey-priest.

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Reverence at Mass, Homilies and Vocations to the Priesthood

Our Bishop is always happiest on ordination day. The video above was taken during the Ordination Mass this past year, at which yours truly was also present. A joyous occasion. Some of that joy was renewed for me this past weekend.

A young man came up to me after Mass and said, with significant pauses (like, four seconds, which is really hard to do in a conversation) after each of the four statements he made to me, looking intensely into my eyes. His was quite the declaration which he said straight from his heart. Read these statements with the long pauses…

  • Look, Father George, I have to tell you something……
  • I watch you say Mass, really different than other Masses I attend……
  • I listen to your homilies, really listen……
  • I want to be a priest……

And then he gave me a bear hug common among the Latino community……

We then talked about how the priesthood must be all about and only about Jesus, his truth, his love, his goodness and kindness……

It is good, very good, when the Mass is obviously, clearly, and very personally all about Jesus, only Jesus. He’s the One. The only One.

It is good when homilies or sermons, however they start, and by whatever which way, come around, indeed, bring everyone around to Jesus, His sacrifice for us, so that the most Sacred Mysteries are just that, the living truth of God Most High, who personally loves us so much as to bring us close to Himself, that with Him, by the Holy Spirit, we are brought before our Heavenly Father.

I’d like to put my homilies up on line, but it is simply impossible here. In the mountains, the internet service is pretty much zippo. There is Verizon metered access, with 4G being like the old time “long distance” dial-up, costing an arm and a leg for each gigabyte. The other internet companies just make people angry about there being pretty much no service whatsoever. Ah well….. I should be content with helping to bring men to the priesthood, those who can also preach about Jesus.

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Priesthood: 25 years of amazement

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I’m still amazed at how Jesus, the High Priest, the only priest, works through us who have been ordained to be instruments of his priesthood. There have been so many times where it was so very obvious even to blind me that Jesus was happy to work through my priesthood that it seems I almost heard him say often enough: “Hey! Did you see that!” And that, of course, would leave me laughing. This would generally take place when the stakes of the irony were so great that the entire heavenly court just had to be looking on. To be Jesus’ priest is to be in a band of brothers because Jesus is the One, the only One.

Those are your 25 years Jesus. I’m sorry for the times I got in your way. I’m sorry for the times I’ve sinned, set a bad example, when I was afraid. Thank you for your patience. I’m happy to be available to you for your priestly service.

Jesus makes it so that I love to hear confessions, I love to offer Holy Mass, I love to preach, I love to be with him as he exercises his priesthood. I love to be in reverence before him by his grace. I love that absolutely none of that has anything whatsoever to do with me. It’s all his grace. That’s so clear. My one desire is to have the purity of heart and agility of soul to be available for him to take up residence with the Father and the Holy Spirit in my mind and heart and soul. It’s all about Jesus. Only Jesus. Jesus!

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Father Philip Gerard Johnson – video

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Fr Philip: “So guess what I just learned about my ordination day of January 7!”

father-philip-johnson-mass-of-thanksgiving

“It was St. Bernadette’s birthday! LOL”

============

The joy of the friends of Jesus.

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Father Philip Gerard Johnson

father-philip-johnson-ordination-1-7-17-1

Ad multos annos! (here on this earth)
In aeternum! (in heaven)

I hope to meet up with the good Father in the coming months. I was all set to assist, but then eleven inches of ice and snow and sleet and slush and ice again and hundreds of vehicles flying off the highways and byways all over the state (until this morning) prevented the journey.

Meanwhile, I was busy shoveling and salting the the driveways and parking lots and sidewalks and entrances of the two churches of this mountain parish, happy to have been able to offer Mass here and be of service in some way. Thanks go to “The-Other-Father-George” in the area for having been willing to take my place here.

Philip’s ordination brings back many memories of Lourdes, of the Eucharistic Congress, of many courses I provided to him when he was too sick to be in the seminary.

Father still has the brain cancer he contracted while serving these United States in the Department of the Navy while on a ship in the Persian Gulf. The aggressive form he has usually takes victims within 18 months. He’s been going some ten years and counting. Things started going well when the Bishop of Raleigh took action by calling on the entire diocese to pray a novena to the Immaculate Conception many years ago.

Father Philip has vowed to spend his priesthood speaking about the Immaculate Conception, the Virgin Mother of God, of her Divine Son, Jesus, Christ our God, the King of kings, the Lord of lords Wonder Counselor, Prince of the Most Profound Peace, who, with all His elect, will come to judge the living and the dead and world by fire. Amen.

Thank you, Jesus, thank you, Mary, for bringing Philip to the priesthood of the Incarnate Word.

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2018 Bishops Synod: young people and vocational discernment: no rigidity

dog-woman-cover

I’ve decided today to delay the popular version of the thesis on Genesis 3:15 and the Immaculate Conception so as to finish off another project, much shorter: “The Dog-Woman” commentary.

You’ll remember the Syro-Phoenician-Canaanite-Greek lady in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, the one with the severely possessed infant daughter way up in present day Lebanon. I’ll extract what I’ve done so far from the book on the women in the Gospels and make it a stand-alone. I’ve been preaching and writing on the “Dog-Woman” for decades.

What I’d like to do is turn that commentary into something which is addressed to what is bound to be one of the main topics of the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the formation of young people for their vocational discernment whether that concerns life as married, as single, as religious or as priests.

I’m thinking that there just might be a lot of psychological smoke-screens making one lose sight of the Holy Spirit, making one forget about the one thing necessary, listening to Jesus and those who are with him. There will be plenty of talk about the evils of rigidity without much of a clue about how to rid oneself or anyone else of such a dreadful suffocation of the Holy Spirit.

So, why not? The “Dog-Woman” is perfect for the occasion, with the two accounts of her forming the perfect paradigm for the formation of young people, that is, on how to rid them of rigidity. That is, after all, the non-stop theme of late by Pope Francis, at least for those discerning a priestly vocation, but the theme applies to everyone. I can’t think of a better way to provide a holy and wholesome remote preparation for such a synod on the formation of young people’s vocational discernment on psychological and emotional (human), spiritual, intellectual and pastoral levels.

With a title, sub-title, and sub-sub-title like the ones on the cover as envisioned, I realize that many will wonder what deep end of dark existential peripheries it is which I’ve obviously stepped off of, losing all sense of balance to be drowned in my own idiocy.

And yes, yes, I know. People must already be saying that the final document of the 2018 Synod may well have already been written a long time ago, decades ago. Even if that is true, I still have hope, hopelessly naive that I am, of having a say in this upcoming Synod.

Just as I started to work on this, a sign appeared, that being a package delivered to the door. Perfect timing. There were two 25 oz. bags of doggie-bacon strips. It’s a lot of work to eat them, so a big yawn and a nap is in order just below the desk where I’m writing about the “Dog-Woman” (the blue-light is the glow from the computer screens):

laudie-dog-yawn

The doggie-bacon strips were sent in from the State Department’s recently retired foreign service diplomat from Indianapolis, C.D., a good friend of Father Gordon MacRae, actually. There was no note, just two gargantuan bags of doggie-bacon strips and… and… nothing for me. But don’t get me wrong, I was very happy for Laudie. She obviously knows she rates as the princess of the rectory, with me being but her bacon-slave. I had to laugh. She is very content. Hey, anyone who saves my unworthy life multiple times deserves to be pampered. I’m happy the State Department agrees, at least someone recently retired therefrom.

Anyway, back to the “Dog-Woman.” I have someone promising to translate it into street-jive Buenos Aires dialect just as soon as I send it to him. ;-)

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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.

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?]

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. [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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Shawshanked in reverse 23 years later: Fr Gordon MacRae & Pornchai Moontri

shawshank-redemption-andy-red

Father Gordon MacRae, wrongfully convicted and wrongfully imprisoned 23 years ago, has published the front page article on SperoNews today: The Shawshank Redemption and Its Real-World Version. The guilty verdict based on zero evidence was announced at 10:00 AM 23 years ago today, the day of the release of the film The Shawshank Redemption. Today is the Feast of the great Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, OFM.cap., Patron of Father Gordon.

Here are some articles Father Gordon has published about Padre Pio on TheseStoneWalls:

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Fr Gordon MacRae on EWTN radio with Bill Donohue and hostess Teresa Tomeo

tsw-softball-champions-2016

Father Gordon J MacRae is the one with the glasses. Pornchai Maximilian Moontri is front and center just behind the sign. A great prison picture.

HERE: http://old.avemariaradio.net/archive2/2016/09/cc_20160920_2.mp3

A great program. I hope the bishops responsible for self-absorbed, Promethean, neo-Pelagian self-hero worship smashing down priests regardless of guilt or innocence are rightly shaking with fear about what Bill Donohue has to say, that is, especially what he says he cannot yet say. Heh heh heh.

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The irony! My very own jury box chair. It’s empty and it will remain empty.

jury chair

I’m guessing this jury box chair was constructed in 1884, when a certain town in Nebraska was well on its way to embracing law and order. In favor of something more modern, the chairs were given away in the 1950s. My 191 million year old neighbor lady in Transylvania county got hold of one back then, and it has now come my way as that property is also being sold along with that of my other neighbors. The chair needs lots of dowel and expanding wood-glue work on it, but it’s a good solid chair.

The irony, of course, is that I am called to jury duty on superior/criminal court here in the district of far Western North Carolina. Because of arguments I’ve laid out previously, I cannot sit on a jury. The judge has twice granted me reprieve for the North Carolina Supreme Court case law that I’ve cited. I’m thinking that his only real politically acceptable option is to continue giving me a reprieve every six months, or better, give me a third reprieve without making this permanent, but nevertheless having my name quietly removed from the list of jury pool candidates.

The way the Supreme Court wrote their decision, if the judge makes my reprieve permanent, all candidates for a jury pool will have a viable excuse and the viability of the court itself will be sunk. That’s unacceptable of course. We do need a court system, broken as it is. The decision rightly said that the State cannot decide what a religious minister is as different from a religious member of whatever group, congregation, church. The court stated that, therefore, a reprieve for a minister must be given to any congregant.

The conflict of interest I have is that as a Catholic priest, I cannot break the Seal of Confession to the point that I cannot say if someone went to Confession or not. Imagine that in jury selection the clerk of court asks us to turn to the plaintiffs and defendants and say if we know any of them.

I cannot say that, yes, I know whoever. The next question will regard how it is that I know them, and I will reply that I cannot say that, at which point I will be cited for criminal contempt of court. It is known that a priest has a privileged forum guaranteed by the first amendment to the Constitution, a forum, the confessional, in which someone might offer a confession say, for murder, a confession given with full expectation of confidentiality unto death, a confession that is sincere, voluntary, given without pressure, with utter sincerity, baring one’s soul, a true confession. It’s a fair assumption that if I refuse to speak to my knowledge of the person that I know something about them by way of the confessional. Pretty much everything comes to a priest, who might get the story from the one who committed the crime, from the one who is taking the fall for the crime, from the friends and relatives and witnesses of both sides of whatever incident. That a priest or any minister would go to jail for such a reason would not fill the newspapers, but people would immediately conjecture that it was a confession I heard and that, therefore, the person is guilty. The confession might have been, however, that he is taking a fall for a loved one.

I cannot say that, no, I do not know whoever. The problem is that Catholic priests hear confessions with people having the option to speak from behind a screen. I don’t know if I do not know any of those involved, but will only find out when the case plays out in court. And then what? Do I recuse myself? For what reason? That I heard someone’s confession, thus tampering with the jury? I mean, it would be obvious what it was that I heard in confession. Not only would I be revealing a confession, thus getting myself excommunicated, but I would also be guilty of criminal jury tampering and be sent with that felony conviction to the state penitentiary.

Also, at that point, I would no longer be a juror, but rather a witness to a confession to the crime being judged. Law enforcement would want to interrogate me for all the details that might tie up some loose threads, etc. The judge will want to hear the whole story. If I refused to be a witness I would also be committing the crime of contempt. The same North Carolina Supreme Court says that the State has compelling interest to hear a witness, more compelling than the first amendment of U.S. Constitution. It’s a poorly written law and it needs to be refined. But I don’t want to be the guinea pig for that. I hope the judge just gives me another reprieve and then forgets me.

By the way: The clerk of court, a really nice guy whom the whole world respects, suggested I make a deal with the judge in case of an adverse decision against my wanting to enjoy my Constitutional right to the free exercise of religion. He suggested that I beg the court’s clemency in favor of my sitting on a jury for non-criminal court, you know, for only civil matters of property disputes and disputes over last wills and testaments, that kind of thing. No, I said, all that can come to confession as well. Of course it can. For instance, did anyone every get impatient or angry over someone continuously moving the property line markers? Did anyone ever dispute a will? Ever? It doesn’t matter how small the matter is. I will not betray a confession or put myself in a position in which I will eventually, surely sooner than latter, be put in a position where I cannot but reveal a confession even by my silence. Get it?

If I’m convicted of criminal contempt… I will immediately make a move to appeal, but also to obtain an unconditional pardon from the Governor of North Carolina. For the former, I would surely have the help of any number of pro bono Constitutional attorneys. There are many. For the latter, I would attempt to get together a list of supporters, including the Catholic bishops of North Carolina, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (not that far from me), the local Ministerium, etc. If one minister is thrown in jail for the free exercise of religion, all are at risk. I would hope all non-Catholic ministers would say on that day, “I am Catholic,” as a kind of Christianized, “Je suis Charlie.”

Have other ministers/priests/bishops served on juries? Sure. But this has been more rare and by and large only recently. Most all states exempted clergy from jury duty for good reason. Only recently has the trend gone the other way, so that now there are almost no states offering an exemption. Massachusetts, a “catholic” state, is rather abrupt, in-your-face about this change. Because this has only been a recent change in state law, clergy have only rarely served on juries. They haven’t thought this through. I’m guessing that I’m pretty much the first to make a stink about it. C’est la vie?

“Getting out of jury duty…” Some have remarked that I’m just trying to get out of the hassle of doing jury duty. That “hassle” bit is their own unworthy attitude toward this service of justice and one’s neighbor. I’m totally willing to serve, and am laying my own well being on the line to not serve for the reasons stated above. Also, I could not serve on a capital case, for which there is a quite a list in North Carolina. I don’t think capital punishment is necessary with the by and large secure prisons we have today. Few prisoners have Shawshank capabilities.

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Vatican attorney: Lady Justice peeking?

lady justice taking a peek

Sometimes hot air outweighs anything you care to enter into evidence…

Priests deserve basic justice, too – by Mauro Visigalli [August 26, 2016] // [Here with the [comments] of Father George David Byers. I am acquainted with Mauro, having spoken with him and emailed back and forth a number of times on behalf of a priest friend.] //

I am an Italian “avvocato rotale” [attorney on the Roman Rota, a kind of appeals court in the Catholic Church over in Rome]. I usually work in the Roman Curia of the Catholic Church where certain canonical crimes arrive for consideration from all over the world [such as having sex with a minor, etc.]. For this reason, I often look at American newspapers online, sometimes printing out their pages for my folders [I guess we have many canonical crimes!].

I was doing that the other day, searching for news about a priest who entrusted his case to me, when I found in The Providence Journal an article about a different priest, unknown to me (“Priest prohibited from serving,” news, July 1). His story made me want to share some thoughts, based on my professional experience.

What amazes me is that in a country like yours, where the rights of the accused are considered so important [perhaps in the Constitution, but that basically no longer exists; in reality, in the case involving a newly examined rape kit, those accused of a rape/murder are treated as guilty and are forbidden by the Supreme Court to be exonerated by DNA evidence that proves their innocence; we simply execute everyone regardless of guilt or innocence because we don’t give a damn], that rights do not seem to count when a priest is accused of a sexual crime [because going that far makes it all better]. Such is the paradox of a 95-year-old priest who is prohibited from serving based on “credible” facts of an incident that happened 60 years before [“Credible” for The National Catholic Risk Retention Group means that a priest is guilty because he was ordained; nothing else matters. They hold that paying settlements regardless of guilt, whereby the defendant is not the priest but the diocese, saves money, for it is 15 times more expensive to lose one litigated claim than it is to settle fifteen other incidents. Who cares if even all the priests are innocent of the accusations and are now removed from the priesthood for life.].

I would simply ask: How could someone defend himself against such old charges? [He cannot] And is the “presumption of innocence” a mere option [This is explicitly forbidden!], or has it been replaced in these cases with a “presumption of guilt?” I can find this same expression – “credibly alleged” – on the websites of many American dioceses, with attached blacklists of priests smeared forever after having dedicated their whole life to the church (sometimes dead priests, too). Some websites include a red button and phone numbers with the list, so that everyone can easily send in his or her accusation and everyone can infer, however wrongly, that such crimes are absolutely normal in the church! [It’s all actually more cynical than all that. Some priests are known to be innocent, but even one innocent priest is too much for a system that depends on all priests being guilty because they are ordained, so that we’re only waiting for an accuser to pay. If one priest is given due process then all priests must be given due process, but that makes settlements impossible, and litigation necessary. All too expensive when we could save thirty pieces of silver. This is “The Judas Crisis” as I call it. Sell the priests for money, with chancery rats and bishops prostituting themselves to the opinions of the media, whom they hope will call them heroes for “being tough on priests.”]

Do you know how many of those “credible accusations” started with a simple anonymous letter? Do you know how often the letter was sent from someone who was in a position to gain from the denunciation? Do you know how many priests weren’t found guilty but are still suspended because their bishop is frightened about public opinion? Do you know how long the accused priests, immediately suspended from their ministries with a simple letter from their bishop, live under the double pressure of a civil and a canonical tribunal? [It’s worse than that, my friend. Do you know how many times priests have been given the ultimatum whereby they will be laicized unless they agree to be treated by those treatment centers which have a long history of raping priests with plethysmography as mentioned many times in the John Jay report? It’s demonic, at the highest levels of the Roman Curia, but there it is, and this is ongoing.]

Don’t misunderstand me: I’m not denying the meaning of the word “credible” [as used in dictionaries, but not as used by certain money hungry ecclesiastics…]. When an accusation is credible, church authorities have the duty to communicate the matter to the police and to start their own separate inquiry. But until the process ends, no one can say that the priest is at fault or should be blacklisted. Whoever is guilty of certain crimes should be effectively punished, but only after an exacting procedure giving him all the rights that the law offers the accused.

What really hurts me, as a jurist, is the knowledge that church law in this area is very good, and Vatican judges are very skilled jurists. However, such excellence is not always available because exceptions are made, and the Vatican has limited resources to handle these cases. Many of the cases are thus entrusted to lower tribunals, where judges are not always as skilled as their Vatican colleagues. Often those called upon to judge in such cases are the same ones who initiated the formal accusation! [Right. The conflicts of interests and acts of fraud for self-aggrandizement are rampant and actually well known, and, sadly appreciated as precious and necessary for looking like heroes.]

I hope my words will make readers reflect: It is wrong to get into the habit of stoning someone who is accused of a crime, rather than seeking justice.

I thank you for your attention and I warmly greet every reader.

Mauro Visigalli, of Codogno, Italy, is a lawyer in Italian courts and at the Vatican. [Good for you, Mauro. Excellent article.]

===== My comment =====

Here’s the deal: When settlements are made regardless of innocence or guilt, forbidding priests to be defendants or have any due process whatsoever, giving all control to the accuser and making the settlement as soon as possible hopefully without lawyers, often not knowing the accusations or even whether the priest was even born when the alleged actions were said to have occurred, when this happens, and it does all the time by way of strictly enforced policy, the consequence is that this actually encourages more abuse even while bishops and chancery rats look tough and advance their careers. People get sick of innocent priests being accused and soon not even real victims have a voice to complain. When false accusers get payments on the suffering of real victims the real victims are raped again. The rapists are then the chancery rats and bishops who have sought hero status. But they can’t see clearly any longer, so full are their eyes with the blood of the priests who throats they have slit. And when they have congratulated themselves long enough for having no incidents for a number of years, then they will hesitate to call out any real abuse, and simply reassign a truly abusive priest so that they can continue to grant themselves hero status. The same abuse of power by which a rape occurs is the same abuse of power by which no due process is granted. The cycle will continue until the powers that be stop their Promethean self-referential self-absorption and realize that they are to serve Christ Jesus and not themselves.

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If John the Baptist was decapitated for witnessing to marriage, must we not be politically incorrect with him?

martyrdom of saint john the baptist

All the hints that we have in the Gospels reveal that, back in the day, pretty much no one except John, and then Jesus, was preaching about the sanctity of marriage. Everyone was busy misinterpreting Moses’ permission to write a bill of divorce, conveniently forgetting the bit about “because of their hardness of heart.” That comment of Jesus means that what Moses actually said with his permission as they bothered him non-stop, harassing him for permission was this:

“Sure, go ahead, write your little damned bill of divorce! Use it! See if I care you hard hearted haters of God and neighbor! No, really! Go to hell, too!”

Peter was lost in admiratio about this. He just couldn’t get over it. He protested. “Lord, if it’s really that way then it’s better not to get married!”

Amazement and incredulity haven’t changed much. It’s all mushy interpretation of Moses’ “permission.” But Jesus says, “From the beginning it was not so.”

Here’s the deal: John pointed to the marriage of Jesus with His Bride the Church, pointed to wedding vows of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world: This is my body given for you in sacrifice, my blood poured out for you in sacrifice. People hated John for that. It would be Jesus’ turn very soon. It was right after the beheading that we have the multiplication of the loaves.

All of this is all about Jesus. We forget Him. Why is that? Do we hate Him? Without grace, we do hate Jesus. I know, for one, that I’ve crucified the Son of the Living God with my sin, original sin and whatever other rubbish I’ve ever done in my own life. If we don’t admit we’ve all done that, we are not with Jesus, but actively against Him, hating Him, and looking to kill off in whatever way those who would, as John, speak of proper marriage.

padre pio ecce agnus dei

“Ecce Agnus Dei qui tollit peccata mundi…”

I have to wonder how many priests, when they hold up the Lamb of God, know that they are saying the words of Saint John about the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world by laying down His own life, being wedded to His Bride the Church. If more understood this, I think there would be less problems with marriage today. Priests have to understand that they themselves are married to the Church by the Sacrifice they offer, saying the wedding vows of Jesus in the first person singular: This is my body given for you in sacrifice… my blood poured out for you in sacrifice…

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Filed under Amoris laetitia, Marriage, Priesthood, Vocations

Flores for the Immaculate Conception (AH-1Z USMC SuperCobra edition)

super cobra AH 1Z attack

The USMC Attack Helicopter 1Z Viper SuperCobra usually isn’t the very first thing I think about when I would like to give a flower to the Immaculate Conception, but it was the first thing that came to mind today. It happens that a priest I’ve known for decades from the Asian sub-continent sent in this cobra flower he saw on whatsapp. It’s the first time it has bloomed in 36 years. If I remember correctly, he once told me that he has plenty of such serpents around his rectory. Yikes! I’m sure he wouldn’t want to get close to them with a mere camera. He sent this in specifically as a flower for the Immaculate Conception:

flores india 1

Our Lord Jesus, who created such a flower as this for the delight of His good mom, really has very much fun I think. He first of all placed enmity between Satan and “The Woman” of Genesis 3:15. That would be the Immaculate Conception.

The flower below with the bee is, he says, from the church yard. A bit more tame, you think? Perhaps not. Don’t they look like Snap Dragons? Yikes! again.

flores india 2

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Filed under Flores, Priesthood, Vocations