The other day, Jules Gomes of ChurchMilitant.com (January 13, 2023) recounted some not-first-hand off-script comments by Pope Francis to seminarians from Barcelona at an audience in Rome, included among them his apparent rant against…
≈ f***ing careerists who f*** up the lives of others […] those who climb to show their a** ≈
Well, I would agree with that – and with that language – if the definition of a careerist is Judas Iscariot. Yep. A little rough in the language, but it certainly gets the point across, you know, if it’s put in the context of what it means NOT to be a careerist, one who will bear witness to Jesus in season out of season, over against heretical priests, bishops and even popes, and be happy, in the spirit of the beatitudes, to suffer for it, even with, wait for it… with the end of one’s “career”.
But, let’s move on with apparent Francis “quotes” of sorts:
≈ priests should never deny absolution to penitents in the confessional under any circumstances ≈ // ≈ We can never deny absolution, because we become a vehicle for an evil, unjust, and moralistic judgment ≈ // ≈ Priests who deny penitents absolution are delinquents […] criminals ≈
So, let’s imagine a case where yours truly would tell an impenitent “penitent” that any absolution will not so much be denied as it is to be delayed until such time as there is contrition for sin and a firm purpose of amendment to amend one’s life to the end that the grace of absolution might be fruitful in the person’s soul, forgiving the sin and pointing the soul to heaven. Effectively, there’s a denial at the moment, but how you phrase things is important. We want people to be worthy members of the Body of Christ, worthy tabernacles of the Holy Spirit. So, for example… let’s see… I know! …
How about the case of a serial murderer who’s been terrorizing one’s little town with multiple murders of Catholics every day, and he shows up in the Confessional and says that he doesn’t want any absolution for his “ethnic cleansing” of Catholics because he says he is God’s hitman and he will continue to kill Catholics because, he says, all Catholics, young and old, just because they are Catholic, are the eternal enemies of God and need to be eliminated as soon as possible. BUT, he’s also been impatient, he says, with his own lack of efficiency and therefore he’s also used the “f***” word and “a**” word a number of times, and he does want absolution for that. He’s contrite, he says, with a firm purpose of amendment, he says.
Well, I would tell the guy that he needs to have a humble and contrite heart and have a firm purpose of amendment also for his murdering of Catholics and to return to receive the absolution fruitfully as soon as he can. And, of course, I would be shot on the spot right through the confessional screen (yes, we have only those logistics in the confessional) and be a martyr for Jesus Christ, Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, who will Himself come to judge the living and the dead and world by fire.
Look, I wasn’t there at that meeting of Pope Francis with seminarians from Barcelona. I didn’t hear what Pope Francis said first hand. Did he mumble? Miss some words, like “not”? I don’t know. But what I will continue to strive to do in my own priesthood is to follow Jesus, believe in His Holy Name, continue to go Confession myself, and teach others to do the same, you know, in such manner that sanctifying grace provided by the Lamb of God will bear fruit in souls unto eternal life.
Is this just an example of the telephone game?
After Holy Mass people will come up to me and tell me what a great sermon I gave, and then proceed to recount points I never made. What they heard, clearly, was their guardian angels whispering in their ears. I wish I had said those good things. Really brilliant. But I didn’t say it.
I don’t lose my peace over this. As for me, I’ve already seen the wounds of Jesus, knowing that I put those wounds there, my autobiography, as someone put it. The Son of the Living God wants me in heaven. I have received absolution a zillion times. I want to give others absolution in Sacramental Confession. But I want to take them as deadly seriously as did Jesus – see the wounds! – and therefore insist that they also take Jesus deadly seriously, seeing those wounds of His.
Pope Francis knows the truth of it. He can deal with it one way or the other.
I’m guessing that later on Monday, 19 December 2022, or within the next couple of weeks, we’ll see both a *.pdf copy of the letter sent out to all the bishops on – what was it? – Tuesday, 13 December 2022 – stating that Father Frank Pavone was dismissed from the clerical state, and also a *.pdf copy of the surely much more lengthy and explicit proclamation from the Holy See of that same dismissal from the clerical state of Father Frank Pavone. As of this writing, in the wee hours of the morning on 19 December 2022, Father Pavone has not yet been officially contacted and therefore is not yet dismissed from the clerical state. That can change any moment.
Father Pavone himself has alluded to possible accusations at length in the video he did about this communications fiasco hours after it took place on Saturday, 17 December 2022.
The aborted baby on the table incident:
Years ago, Father Pavone, with heart-wrenching sadness, placed an aborted baby on a mere table that is sometimes used for Holy Mass, not during Holy Mass, nothing like that. Is it shocking? Yes. That’s the point. Well done. We have to be shocked into reality when we need this. America needs this. How is it that we’re not shocked by dumpsters filled with dead babies but we are shocked when a John the Baptist points this sin out to us, blaming the one reprimanding us for our own sin? Are cowardly, effeminate, Judases offended by the reality of their own politically correct policies that gain them 30 pieces of silver? Sure. They’re caught out by a real priest. Father Frank’s goodness is incriminating of their evil. Father Pavone is not wrong in his pastoral effectiveness. Great work, Father! We are also heart-wrenchingly sad with you.
But is Father Pavone’s theology wrong? No. As Saint Paul and Pope Pius XII in his encyclical letter Mystici Corporis point out, Jesus is the Head of the Mystical Body of Christ and we are members of the Mystical Body of Christ. In Mt 25, Jesus, God, tells those going to hell that they are damned because of what they did sinfully to the least of the brethren or what they sinfully failed to do for the least of the brethren, because what they did sinfully or sinfully didn’t do for the least of the brethren they did sinfully or sinfully didn’t do for Him. There are no more “least” of the brethren than babies in the womb. Father Pavone should be entitled doctor of the church, the doctor of life.
The “bad-language” incident:
We’re still waiting for the exact wording, but, apparently, Father Pavone’s words were effectively as follows: Biden voters and Biden himself have no love for America and are g*dd***ed losers.
Ooo! Such theological language! The word “God” capitalized or not, is not a bad word. People think that to say the word God is a mortal sin because they are so entitled to their sinfulness that they don’t want God brought up in any context, particularly any context that is condemnatory of their sinfulness. To hurt their feelings, telling them that they are sinners is The Mortal Sin. Pfft. There is nothing more Catholic than to reprimand people and help them get to heaven.
Also, the word “damn” is a biblical, technical, theological, juridic word. People think it’s a curse word because they don’t want to have their feelings hurt by being told that they are damning themselves, running as fast as they can into hell. Pfft. I’m not worried about hurting people’s feelings. I’d rather help people get to heaven, whatever it takes, and have them thank me in heaven for having taken them deadly seriously.
But what about the intent of Father Pavone? Umm… I think we don’t know anything about anyone’s intent, right? However, I’m going to guess that, actually, Father Pavone’s intent was to warn people of the objective sinfulness in which they are involved, what with their maniacally promoting murder of children as much as they possibly can. That is evil, objectively a mortal sin, which, objectively speaking, is having them risk being tossed directly into hell, damned by God forever. Let’s just say it in the colloquism that we hear so often: They are goddamned, a compound morpheme. But let’s repeat that with greater linguistic clarity, as two words, capitalizing the first: They are God damned. Yep. That’s the reality of it, unless they repent of their ways, turned to God by God Himself.
ENTER THE GREATEST PROPHET
I have written at great length on numerous occasions about insults being hurled against the most corrupt sinners by Jesus and his forerunner, the greatest of all the prophets, and by others in the Sacred Scriptures. These insults of Jesus and John and others have theological and juridic import, such as these sinners being liable to being damned by God to hell forever. But Jesus is God and none of the prophets are God, even if they are the voice for God Himself. Father Pavone is not God. So, let’s use as an example John the Baptist, another non-God. John is not being sinful in this example. He is not blaspheming. He is the voice of the Holy Spirit. I ask people not to blaspheme in saying that the Holy Spirit is sinful. Let’s get into this:
Let’s take a look at Mt 12:34 or 23:33 – γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν – John’s “brood of vipers” insult. Oops! Those are Jesus’ own words. Let’s see, how about Lk 3:7 and Mt 3:7 – γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν – indeed John’s “brood of vipers” insult. What’s that all about? It says that those he is thus insulting are willingly demon possessed blasphemers who will be, get this, they will be damned by God unless they repent. Let’s say it so that we can understand, the greatest of all prophets says that these sinners are God damned. Just like that. Yep.
Who is brave enough to say that John the Baptist, and Jesus for that matter, are themselves blasphemers for the “brood of vipers” insult and are themselves God damned?
Who among us is going to say that Jesus should be thrown out of His High Priesthood because He hurls “brood of vipers” insults?
Who among us is going to say that a priest is to be thrown out of the priesthood for having the charity to reprimand those like ultra-abortion-pusher Joe Biden and his supporters, for there is no greater love than to assist a sinner to get to heaven?
Who among us is going to be brave enough to say that “We have no King but Caesar”?
Who among us is going to ask for thirty pieces of silver?
Father Pavone was effectively executed, just like John the Baptist, just like Jesus. As the Master, so the disciple, and blessed is the one who is not scandalized in Jesus.
Dearest Father Pavone, leap and shout for joy! Blessed are you!
“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For their fathers treated the prophets in the same way.” (Lk 6:22-23)
Now then, Father Pavone took down his comment long ago, and went to Sacramental Confession. Was that because of what he said? I would have reprimanded him if he had come to my confessional to confess the words that he said. His words were not wrong. His words were obligatory. I wish more laity and priests and bishops and popes would use his words. But if it was about not having given enough context for a wider audience, something like that? Yeah, well, maybe we would just put that before God as God sees it. We can always second-guess ourselves.
For instance, as for me, when I go to confession I want to give myself full condemnation to make sure I have made myself available for full forgiveness for that which was a sin or perhaps no sin at all. But I want to go to heaven.
I’m a believer, and I recognize in Father Pavone a believer, a giant amongst believers, a priest of priests, a priest specifically of our High Priest, Jesus Christ, Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace, who will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire.
Jesus will bring souls to heaven, and Jesus will also say to the damned: You are God damned. And they will wish that they had heeded the super charitable reprimand of Father Frank Pavone whilst they were still upon this earth with all their cowardly, effeminate political correctness, with all their greed and clever lust, with all their screaming their blood curdling murderous screams: “We have no king but Caesar.” When they stand before Jesus, the King so majestic with His wounds still in His hands and feet and side and Heart, they will have nothing to say at all. They will simply run, damned as they are into hell, where the fire is never extinguished, where their writhing never dies.
Thank you, Father Povone, for trying to save them now. You are a great example for all of us, for us priests in particular.
As to whether this is a shot over the bow by the powers that be, ask those powers that be. For myself, I will continue to be a priest of Jesus Christ, Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception. I wasn’t ordained to a priest of political correctness, a priest of the powers that be. I am not scared because of what happened to Father Pavone. Instead, I am encouraged by this fellow priest to stay the course. Crux stat dum volvitur orbis. And Mary, God’s Mother, stands with the Cross.
Oh, and, by the way, here’s one of Father Pavone’s “Daily Diary” videos he’s always been doing for the sake of accountability. This covers a whole week. The entirety is must listening for the Pope, for all Roman Curia workers, for all bishops, all priests, all laity, the whole thing. Do it. And, wait for it, with some great humor Father Pavone mentions what happened on 17 December 2022. Hehehe. :-)
N.B. On that last video, there’s a dead space of some minutes after he’s done talking. Skip ahead just a bit and you will see a series of short videos from priests offering moral and spiritual support to Father Pavone.
But I’m in awe at the staggering spiritual heights of Father Pavone. He’s so calm amidst this attack.
Look, I’m no canon lawyer, but as far as I know Father Pavone is NOT laicized until an official communication is received by him with proof of the fact, for instance, by return signature arranged by the postal service. Hearsay is not an official communication. So far, it’s all hearsay. And Father Frank Pavone is NOT laicized as I write this. Maybe tomorrow, Monday, 19 December 2022, but not now. Also, he’s home all week with his parents, so, I doubt he’ll get this letter until sometime after Christmas. We shall see.
Apparently, our Nuncio, on December 13, sent a letter to all the bishops saying that Father Pavone was laicized back in November. Somehow, Father Pavone didn’t get any such communication, not from the Vatican, not from the Nuncio, not from his bishop. So, nothing.
Btw, I notice this went up the very moment the Nuncio took action. Interesting.
“I feel like I’d like to be a bishop, so I’ll join the seminary to get started on my career.”
This is no straw man. I know many like this. Zero faith. Nothing to do with Jesus. One spoke it out loud throughout the seminary, and soon after ordination to the priesthood he was made a bishop. He had “friends.” Or is it some sort of “mafia”? Another with the same attitude, thinking to be untouchable in his overconfidence in himself, was “laicized” on his way to being a bishop, monster that he was and is.
“I feel like I’d like to be a priest because, like, you know, you get to have the power of having the laity have fake power, like having the laity preach at Mass, and give out the ‘wine’ at Mass, and like in pastórial ministry, never doing anything by way of clericalizing the laity and having them do fake anointings like pretending to do Last Rites or even hearing Confessions. I’ll get to do nothing and they’ll all think I’m a hero. What a cushy life!”
This is no straw man. I’m thinking of one seminarian in particular. He made his choice to follow his heroes in the priesthood, those priests who were diametrically opposed to good doctrine, good morals, good instruction in the spiritual life, reverent liturgy. He verbosely, loudly, made it clear that he had friends and was protected and had a good career ahead of himself. Nothing and no one was going to stop him from ladder climbing. That consumed him. Too sad. None of these people have a single thought for Jesus, that a vocation is a call coming from Jesus.
“I feel like I’d like to be a priest because I for sure have a vocation to be politically correct in the seminary where you learn to be politically correct with the bishop. I know how to be a ‘yes man’ first time, every time. I’ve already compromised myself in the parishes I’ve been in as a seminarian and young priest. I’ve already lost my virginity… um… you know what I mean… Hahaha…”
This is no straw man. I know plenty of seminarians and young priests who are expert at not thinking, who have so learned to compromise themselves being ‘men of consensus’ with bishops and presbyterates that they cannot have a discussion about good doctrine, good morality, good instruction on the spiritual life, reverent liturgy, but immediately shut down, eyes glazed over, stone faced, but who are ever so ambiguously clever in stock phraseology, whether it fits the would-be conversation or not, about how it is that the bishops or priests have an “approach” or “posture” and that that is what they are following. Notice that this isn’t about following Jesus.
“I feel like I’d like to be a priest because I don’t feel like I’d like to be married and have a family.”
This is no straw man. This is a sickness. Everyone is called to be married as this is the image of God, male-female-marriage-family, as we read in Genesis. And this is how Jesus redeemed us, with His own recitation of marriage vows with His Bride the Church at the consecrations at the Last Supper united with Calvary, “My body given for you in Sacrifice” and “My blood poured out for you in Sacrifice.” Priests are married by the Holy Sacrifice they offer, reciting those vows in the first person singular, in Persona Christi. Other single people, religious or secular, fulfill this image of God united with Jesus. But the guy who goes into the priesthood not understanding that this is a vocation to be married to the Church is a walking disaster, a freak show, who is literally a danger to himself and others. Abandoning Jesus and misunderstanding His Sacrifice is what brings about the abuse of the Little Flock. Yep.
“I feel like I’d like to be a priest because I like doing holy stuff because it makes me look good to myself.”
And Jesus will say: “I never knew you. Get away from me you evildoers” (Matthew 7:23). Doing holy stuff doesn’t justify. God justifies. “But I absolved sin in your name! I consecrated your body and blood in your name!” Nope. That doesn’t count. Only God’s grace counts. Jesus doesn’t call someone to be a priest to do stuff. The priest might do things, but Jesus can raise up stones to be priests. The guy who simply enjoys doing nice stuff is all about being self-referential, a narcissist, perhaps a sociopath. This is the most dangerous guy of all. He can rationalize anything. He is diametrically opposed to Jesus even while doing holy things which, in his own mind, are for Jesus.
“I feel like I’d like to be a priest because I have a lot of talents to offer and I’m just the one!”
The only talents Jesus is interested in from anyone He calls to the priesthood is His own five wounds. Jesus had all talents much better than all priests put together. He’s interested in priests standing in solidarity with Him in His trials for us, His being in solidarity with us. If it takes getting rid of earthly talents, not using earthly talents, for this end of salvation of souls, that’s what Jesus will do. A priest is to follow the Holy Spirit who goes where He wills in forming priests to be one with the one High Priest, and that always involves the wounds of Jesus. Anyone who foists their talents upon the Church is a fraud.
Those are just some random thoughts in the early hours of a Sunday morning before 6:00 AM Holy Hour with Confessions, you know, the holy things of the priesthood, which, mind you, are holy, but that’s not what a vocation from Jesus to the priesthood is all about. I’m typing a million miles an hour and not reading over what I write. Sorry. There is so much more to say about what a vocation is not. But you get the idea. A fake vocation is a not a vocation. A fake vocation mocks the real vocation. Let’s put out some random thoughts on what a real vocation to the priesthood is all about:
WHAT A PRIESTLY VOCATION IS:
While the bishop confirms a priestly vocation by calling a man to Holy Orders, that vocation is not in the least from the bishop, but rather from Jesus. Jesus calls. No one else.
Jesus calls a man to get his own little hell out of the way of the one High Priest, Christ Jesus, so that Jesus can work through, with and in such a man. We recall the prayer of John Henry Newman (1801-1890): “Dear Jesus, help me to spread Your fragrance wherever I go. Flood my soul with Your spirit and life. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly, that my life may only be a radiance of Yours. Shine through me, and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Your presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me, but only Jesus! Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as You shine, so to shine as to be a light to others. The light, O Jesus, will be all from You; none of it will be mine. It will be You shining on others through me. Let me thus praise You the way You love best, by shining on those around me. Let me preach You without preaching, not by words but by my example, by the catching force of the sympathetic influence of what I do, the evident fullness of the love my heart bears to You. Amen.”
A priest is called to go to Confession. Then he will offer that sacrament to others. He will know exactly why he is a priest, so that we might all be in humble thanksgiving to Jesus in heaven.
That’s about it. Everything else is contingent on God’s providence. Including offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. A priest is called by Jesus to suffer with Jesus. For instance, say a newly ordained priest, having received his faculties for Confession at the end of the Ordination Mass (a quite common practice) is walking from the church to the reception at whatever social hall minutes after his ordination and he’s accosted between the two buildings by an apparently enthusiastically devout penitent wanting to be the first confession that the new priest will hear. The new priest obliges. But then the “penitent” runs to the bishop and is publicly accused of solicitation of sin during Sacramental Confession. The bishop then suspends the priest from active ministry and starts the preliminaries for laicization. It just means that the priest was called by Jesus to be in solidarity with Jesus in Jesus’ trials more fiercely, more quickly than other priests. And if that priest perseveres, Jesus will say to him: ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 5:34). The priest and Jesus will know each other very well. Brotherhood in blood.
There are, of course, many more things to say, but allow me just one more, the most important for a priest to be close to Jesus, to answer Jesus’ call. If we are truly close to Jesus in His trials, we will know what hurt Him the most during His passion and death for us and it’s not the betrayal of some Judas-priest. What hurt Jesus the most was that His dear Immaculate Mother had to see Him tortured to death. A priest that Jesus calls is called to be in solidarity with Jesus in this greatest of His trials. It is for this that He sweat blood in His agony in the garden of Gethsemane. It is for this that there was that dichotomy, if you will, between the will of His human nature and that of the Father. He did not want His Immaculate Mother to suffer so terribly. But then: “Not my will, but Thine be done.” That’s the vocation of a priest. And should the priest have a chance to offer Holy Mass, absolve sin, send people to heaven, great! But the priest’s prayer absolutely, in view of the suffering of dearest Mary, must be with one voice with Jesus, una voce, through, with and in Jesus: “Abba! Father!”
We had our canonical retreat this past week. This was the best attended retreat in all my years. The retreat director was a believer. He wasn’t afraid to speak of Jesus. Great priestly fraternity.
But the best part of the retreat was the rearranging of the schedule diversely from previous years. This time the Holy Hour was a bit more coerced, if you will. Previously it was on it’s own in the schedule. Maybe half or less of the priests showed up. Now there is also the Rosary and Vespers and a conference during the Holy Hour. Everyone came. Ha! There was less time for quiet adoration, but we were before the Most Blessed Sacrament nonetheless. All good.
This new schedule was especially helpful on Wednesday when, immediately after the Holy Hour, well, adoration instead continued while Confessions took place. My station for hearing confessions was right next to Jesus. He’s the One. He’s the only One. Non sum dignus.
Confession for priests? Here’s a blast from the past:
Thanks for that, Father.
Speaking of dearest Mary… surprise, surprise. Our Lady of Mount Carmel (discalced!), had been repainted and was without a title. However, she was presented during the retreat as Mary, Mother of God. I had a good few minutes in front of these two.
More in future posts, but here’s a gem from the retreat:
The less one prays, the less one wants to pray. The more one prays, the more one wants to pray.
Elijah with the flaming fiery sword on Mount Carmel, Israel.
[[It’s 2022. This was written now thirteen years ago. It’s Padre Pio’s feast day. /// BTW, today marks 28 years in prison of Father Gordon MacRae. Hail Mary… Saint 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…
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].
“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?]
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.]
“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 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!]
τὸν μὴ γνόντα ἁμαρτίαν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἁμαρτίαν ἐποίησεν – He who knew no sin was made sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21).
In Saint Paul’s shorthand speech, Jesus became sin for us. Ooo! That sounds scandalous! Heretical! Bad and evil! But Jesus stood in our place, Innocent for the guilty, so that He could have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us. And Mary Immaculate stood in perfect solidarity with Jesus. Mary became sin for us with Jesus. Ooo! That sounds scandalous! Heretical! Bad and evil. But I say that this is Mary Immaculate’s glory. To those who cannot bear such reality, I say, grow up and see the suffering, witness Mary’s maternal intercession, the sword of sorrow piercing her soul that our thoughts may be laid bare. Grow up and lay aside all cowardice. Rejoice that we have such a good Mother, such a Holy Redeemer in her Son.
Rumors fly as they do, even across oceans do they fly. It seems that I have been denounced to the highest of ecclesiastical tribunals in an attempt to destroy my priesthood. It seems that I am a blasphemer when it comes to praising the perfect condescension of Jesus and His dearest Mother, that κατάβασις (katabasis = going down) of mercy founded on justice. It seems that I have been labeled as a blasphemer. Will I be put under some kind of interdict, suspended in some way, perhaps dismissed from the clerical state, or – hey! – even excommunicated?
Long time readers may remember when a top canonist of the Roman Rota, a friend, wrote up an interdict against me on behalf of co-conspirators at the Pontifical Seminary at which I was teaching and at which I was very active on the formation team for both philosophers and theologians. But that was humor.
My crime then was to be chaplain for the philosophers and not the theologians in the 2010 Mud Bowl extravaganza.
But the present denunciation against me is deadly serious, enough to rip me out of the priesthood.
What’s the kerfuffle about, really? Surely it’s about my praise of Jesus and Mary. But I am also a thorn in the side of some members of the Church for a number of reasons. Any and all of these, take your pick:
I think the Traditional Latin Mass is a valid and licit expression of the Roman Rite
I think the Hegelian-Rahnerian methodology of the Synod on Synodality is itself heretical
I think the encouragement of same-sex unchastity and any unchastity leads souls to hell
I think that the idol worship of demon idols such as Pachamama (Francis) or Nian (Cupich) or Ganesh (spreading in India with impunity) et alii is a direct violation of the first Commandment
I think Sacred Tradition is univocal and provided supernaturally by the Holy Spirit to each sanctified soul and is not passed on by hand, but only quasi per manus, almost as if by hand (Trent). Sacred Tradition is not a tree or the roots of a tree, dynamic, growing. No. Tradition is absolute. Truth is absolute. God is Truth. God is absolute. Sacred Tradition is not something dictated by freakoids in the Roman Curia, not even by the Pope, not even in ex-Cathedra pronouncements. No. Sacred Tradition (traditiones) is the living faith provided in sanctifying grace and the indwelling of the Most Holy Trinity. Idiot human beings don’t do that. Infallibility is not equal to Sacred Tradition.
I think contraception, abortifacients, procured abortion, infanticide, euthanasia are all intrinsically dishonest, and, as with Ad tuendam fidem, with Ratzinger and JPII, I hold these to be definitive, infallible teachings of the ordinary magisterium of the Church.
I think murdering babies in the womb for research, development, testing of “vaccines” is the utilitarian murder of the least of the brethren, of Jesus.
I think that the money laundering and, therefore, the consequent financing of international terrorism is directly opposed to the mission of the Church. I agree with Jesus: you cannot serve God and mammon. I am working to bring the criminals down, hard.
I am Catholic and love being a priest of Jesus Christ and a son of Mary, Mother of priests. I know she suffered a hell of a lot for me, and I thank her for that and I praise her for that. That’s the problem.
My being denounced came about just days before my surgery, and, now starting my recovery, this is my new distraction. It’s about the wonderful statue of Mary with infant Jesus that is making its way to all of the parishes of the diocese.
I mean, that face of Mary. She sees the problems at hand. Finally, someone does. Great! And Jesus entirely exudes confidence that whatever it is she wants in her maternal solicitude for us, she’s going to get it.
But here’s what I said in the original post which I took down so that I would have to time to put up this response before being smacked down hard, it being that I was busy getting cut wide open and am now recovering. This is what was so very offensive:
“This is the Pilgrim Virgin Mary of Charlotte Diocese making her way throughout the parishes during the 50th anniversary of this relatively young diocese. She’s now at Holy Redeemer in Andrews, NC. Another priest gave her the title: “Our Lady Most Patient with Father Byers.” Hmmm. I think I like “Our Lady Most Snarky” better. Whatever it is that she’s plotting, it’s Jesus who will make it happen. Totally.”
Our Lady is most patient with yours truly, but her patience extends to many more souls than just myself. This is why I mentioned the snarkiness of her expression, you know, like she’s plotting something, of course for our good, and Jesus will make it happen.
I’m guessing the problem people had, why they think I’m a blasphemer, is my usage of the word snarky.
Sigh… You try to speak in the now enculturated language of fairy tales, on the level of little children, and this is what you get. Gunned down. So, fine. Some explanations are in order.
It all starts with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Alice in Wonderland) penned in 1865 by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll. Lewis was a devout lifelong stratospherically high-church Anglican, a believer. His protagonist, Alice, is the original one to “go down the rabbit hole”. She meets up with all sorts of allegorical, anthropomorphic creatures, human adults if truth be known, who express their opinions (also by way of the manner in which they live) about the philosophies and political idiocies of the day. Alice struggles to stay herself even as she meets up with adults who have become all too self-absorbed in the myriad ways fallen human nature goes about this in unrepeatable circumstances.
Then, eleven years later, in 1876, Carroll writes The Hunting of the Snark: An Agony in Eight Fits. This is about a bunch of seasoned guys from all types of professions who get together to traverse the waves to an island where their hunting of the Snark might well be successful. The chapters of poetic verse are called fits appropriately enough. The Snark isn’t much described other than that it is seems to be a dark figure, mysterious in a most sinister sort of way.
While they hunt, it seems that a Snark is spotted, and one of the crew dies in his attempt to get close. He had seen the Snark falling from the heights. The crew member dies a most calm and peaceful death. He simply disappears. All gone. The end.
People asked Carroll who or what the Snark is, and he would never let on. Well, to me, sorry, but this is obvious, and if you have to be told you won’t understand it anyway, but I will tell you, since it is too painful for this mystery to go on. Fallen society has made it quite impossible to crack the mystery today.
The Snark, par excellence, is Jesus Christ, and, of course, His blessed Mother with Him. Yes, the monstrous Snark, so evil in every way, in fact, a projection, in our perception, of the evil within ourselves, which we try to kill, pretending to be our own saviors. We spend our lives doing this, going inside ourselves, travelling the world, hunting, hunting, hunting the dreadful Snark, Jesus Christ, who takes upon Himself all the punishment of our sin – He was made sin for us – and we mock Him as the criminal, the One who enslaved all in sin from Adam until the last man is conceived. And when we finally meet up with Him, like that crew member who dies, He falls from the heights to the depths, and it is there, far below the Cross, that we behold His Mother looking upon us, and we understand: He is God and she is His Mother. Both bloodied, both looking like criminals, monstrous. But then we understand a smidgeon of such love.
We die to ourselves and we ourselves gently just disappear as Snark hunters. We take our place with Mary and John and are now also in solidarity with Jesus. In our own way, we become just a little bit of The Snark. But Jesus and Mary are the epitome of being the Snark. Only they can bear the weight of all our darkness, all our sin which we project unto them. They are so good to us, so kind.
As a clincher, I should mention that the epic poem, The Hunting of the Snark, was published far and wide with multiple printings, all by itself. But that was not at all the case when this poem on The Snark was to be given to children, specifically “to those who love Alice” (of Alice in Wonderland fame). When The Hunting of the Snark was given “to those who love Alice” those children were also given a lengthy Easter Greeting also penned by Lewis Carroll. It was all about the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who triumphed over sin and evil, He having forgiven us our sin wrought in all our idiocy.
People dismiss Carroll’s writings as mere fantastical nonsense literature. That is because they don’t see the irony, the humor which Chesterton would later say is so necessary for Christianity itself. Irony is not nonsense. It is essential to life and breath. Irony is our hope. It is justice and mercy meeting upon the Cross. It is Christ being made to be sin. And Mary with Him. It slams us to our knees.
I believe that Lewis Carroll opened the floodgates of this kind of literature for those to come, say, C.S. Lewis and The Chronicles of Narnia, or J.R.R. Tolkien and his works on Hobbits and Rings and Middle Earth. I say the same for the more outlandishly wonderful works of G.K. Chesterton such as The Ball and the Cross. But most of all, most of all, it is the summary of irony by Hilaire Belloc which most rings absolutely true with The Hunting of the Snark. You are reading about Jesus Christ on the Cross:
“To the young, the pure, and the ingenuous, irony must always appear to have a quality of something evil, and so it has, for […] it is a sword to wound. It is so directly the product or reflex of evil that, though it can never be used – nay, can hardly exist – save in the chastisement of evil, yet irony always carries with it some reflections of the bad spirit against which it was directed. […] It suggests most powerfully the evil against which it is directed, and those innocent of evil shun so terrible an instrument. […] The mere truth is vivid with ironical power […] when the mere utterance of a plain truth labouriously concealed by hypocrisy, denied by contemporary falsehood, and forgotten in the moral lethargy of the populace, takes upon itself an ironical quality more powerful than any elaboration of special ironies could have taken in the past. […] No man possessed of irony and using it has lived happily; nor has any man possessing it and using it died without having done great good to his fellows and secured a singular advantage to his own soul.” [Hilaire Belloc, “On Irony” (pages 124-127; Penguin books 1325. Selected Essays (2/6), edited by J.B. Morton; Harmondsworth – Baltimore – Mitcham 1958).]
/// That last bit about no man possessing irony and using it ever living happily? Yep. But mere happiness is one thing. Joy is another, in the Holy Spirit. It would be a great privilege to be penalized even by Holy Mother Church because of thanking Jesus and Mary for their sufferings for us. But my priesthood? That can never be taken away. It is a sacrament lasting forever. I have no fear. The Great Snark, and the Mother of snarky priests watch over me, having me die to my wretched self, but living for them.
The denouncement of blasphemy against me is so dark that I have to do this:
And if I’ve been beating down the wolves in this post, it is only so that they will turn into the sheep of the Lord’s Little Flock. It would be a joy to go to heaven together. Amen.
That’s the PCI in Rome. The “Salone” to the left is where it seems electioneering for the papacy was taking place in 2005, you know, it seems by the Sankt Gallen crowd. Interesting that would happen just there.
Those who have suffered bloody persecutions will be the first to say that bloody persecution is not the worst persecution. Incomparably worse is a persecution of the faith of the Lord’s Little Flock from within, by the priests and bishops who not only negate doctrine and morality and instruction on the spiritual life and any reverence in the liturgy, but who actively lead people to hell, dragging them into cleverly concocted myths of self-absorbed “liberation” from… Jesus.
Suffering martyrdom and then going to heaven? Great! Losing one’s eternal soul in hell? Well, hell.
I was well acquainted with Irish seminarians while I was in Rome. They said that they were going back to Ireland to liberate their people from traditional faith. First thing to be axed upon their return? The Rosary. Yes, they said it plainly. Then Individual sacramental Confession. That’s the two steps to death. They were eager to do this. They’re the ones, the only ones who accomplish the “liberation of the Irish people” (their words) from… Jesus. And they did it.
And don’t think those are actual numbers above. The percentage of those who enter the seminary and who are ordained priests is always small. And in these conditions it would be almost impossible. If you count up the (arch)dioceses and subtract the Neo-Cats, that’s only about 1.something seminarians per (arch)diocese.
Take a look at Dublin in that list above. 0-0-0. You have to know that Dublin vied to be the largest Archdiocese in the world over against Milan. And I note that there is not even one seminarian at the Pontifical Irish College in Rome. Just. Wow.
But the Lord’s Little Flock will survive. There is a rebellion amongst the young who see through the narrow narcissism of their elders who were once young like them. But this is no mere “revolution” of the young once again. This is about Jesus. This is about our Blessed Mother. This is about Jesus forming young men for future priesthood by first of all throwing them today headlong into the trenches.
Jesus has an eleventh commandment, that we are to pray to the Master of the Harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Just know that when you thus praying, you are also praying that conditions be such that good and holy vocations will survive the seminary and whatever interference from their (arch)dioceses.
Those who will be ordained have been called during this time of annihilation to have the privilege of standing in solidarity with Jesus in His trials, in the midst of His Little Flock being attacked relentlessly by the wolves. To be clever as serpents but innocent as doves means no compromise, no half measures, all for Jesus, all for His Blessed Mother.
What to do? Glad you priests asked!
Rosary, always, before every Holy Mass, and you start it off
Confessions, always, before every Holy Mass
Offer Holy Mass with humility, reverence, thanksgiving
Fullness of doctrine, morality, instruction on the spiritual life, reverent liturgy
Forget Hegelian-Rahnerian “dialog” from hell. Teach the faith! Drop celebrating “gay”, protecting abortion, promoting euthanasia, lesbian priestxes…
And priests: You are to do 100% of Communion calls, visits to hospitals and rehabs and nursing homes. You be in solidarity with those who suffer. Don’t schedule Last Rites. Go immediately.
Meanwhile, I’m sure there must still be some good priests with whom I was with as seminarians. Praying for them. I can’t imagine the nightmare they are living. Hail Mary…
Meanwhile, I’m aghast in thinking about this. I know those who brought this about. The mantra as the seminaries were emptying out already in those days was “More novelty! Keep up with America!” Really. Don’t follow Jesus, but keep up with America.
What does that say about America? I’ve been complaining about Ireland, but what does Ireland breathlessly wanting to keep up with America say about America? I can’t imagine the nightmare some of my fellow priests here in America are suffering. Hail Mary…
Yesterday, after Holy Mass up in Graham County, still attempting to recover from the epic “Day Off” at U.T. Med. Center in Knoxville, more doctor’s orders came my way: “Go ahead, Father, it does a soul good to get out on the water. Duc in altum!” That’s all the encouragement I needed. This is a yearly event with a number of pontooners in the parish. I’m thinking this is good with Jesus, as he spoke about it:
“No one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for My sake and for the gospel will fail to receive a hundredfold in the present age—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields, along with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.” (Mark 10:29-30)
The dam in the slideshow above is about 100 years old, with sirens to the sides that are at the ready for when the dam fails. Myths include divers of the TVA inspecting the cavernous hole at the bottom, only to vow never to go down again, having seen the massive carp lurking there, “able to swallow a car”.
I look forward to seeing the Osprey nest every year. This year there were two. I grew up with Ospreys. Here’s a picture someone took who knows where:
In Minnesota, water everywhere, just glancing out a window one is likely to see an osprey sitting in a branch of a dead tree high above whatever body of water. As a kid growing up in Minnesota, frequently spotting an osprey, scanning their usual perches, I’d watch for a moment and, sure enough, he would drop down, grabbing a fish, circle back up to his perch, and start eating.
Some ospreys are also good at long range infiltration, getting the job done, and exfiltration:
That’s not an out-of-place video in this post, as the pontooners are as Military as you can get. And pretty much everyone in Graham County is a veteran. And… and… afterward we attended a get-together of the “town”, a cook-out, put on by the locals with all the law enforcement and fire department and EMS invited. Most of them are, of course, ex-military as well. They, of course, had to advertise their arrival to this entire region of the state, with sound travelling far and wide across the waters, with all sirens blaring.
If you take a look at that top picture again, that far, far mountain… on the far side of that 4 miles down the other side lies Andrews where the “main” church of the parish is situated.
Back to Jesus’ instruction, you know, that bit about “with persecutions”… The 100 times crowd in this parish is fully aware of that, all good with that. However much of a paradise that is here, our eyes are pealed on the heavens, eternal life, into which Jesus ascended to our dear Heavenly Father. Our Father…
I finally got around to looking at my diocesan emails on 26 July 2022. One came in on 22 July 2022 from a criminal defense attorney of many decades, who reprimands me without ever having spoken to me that I recall about two topics:
This is not a prosecutor. This person is simply emphasizing being an attorney of many decades. I don’t know why. And for who knows what reason, this attorney simultaneously copied this first instance communication to me also to some others:
to my Bishop
to my Metropolitan Archbishop
to this attorney’s own Pastor (a Jesuit) whom I can’t recall ever speaking with seriously about anything ever, and that parish is in a city hundreds of miles away
to a journalist employed by a news organization enjoying global reach, since, it is said, that journalist expressed an interest in writing about the “story.”
This was done in the form of a non-witnessed non-affidavit rife with insults against my Bishop, and with no due process afforded to me whatsoever. As a courtesy to recipients of that email I suggest that there might be more to the story, and another side of the story. Who would’ve thought? I suggest that the veracity of the reprimand from this attorney is proportional to how much due process I was afforded by this attorney, who in so many words speaks of a lifelong commitment to making sure that those innocent until proven guilty had full access to due process rights. The irony is rather incisive: I was afforded no due process whatsoever by this same attorney.
This is all too sad.
Thomas More: “You threaten like a dockside bully.”
Thomas Cromwell: “How should I threaten?”
Thomas More: “Like a Minister of State, with justice.”
Thomas Cromwell: “Oh, justice is what you’re threatened with.”
The gist of the conversation was that Jesus’ Little Flock is everywhere and the wolves in sheep’s clothing can’t do anything about it, it being that Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Jesus’ Little Flock know Jesus, listen to Jesus, follow Jesus. And Jesus’ Little Flock want priests to follow Jesus.
To my fellow priests, and there are many good priests:
Our vocation was not to accept any heretical teaching in any seminary but rather to follow Jesus who is living, unmanipulatable Truth.
Our vocation was not to collect money for any malicious financial prestidigitations of any bishops conference, stealing money from Jesus’ Little Flock and giving it to the abortion industry around the world, but rather to follow Jesus, who was Himself in the womb for nine months.
Our vocation – get this – was not to any bishop, so that the bishop becomes a god in his own right, creating his own truth and morality and liturgy, but rather to Jesus, so that although we will respect and obey whatever bishop, we also do this by was of Galatians 2:11, helping our bishops get to heaven by our own following of Jesus with no mediocrity, even if we’re punished right out of active ministry by those same bishops for whom we were providing the greatest respect and obedience by, as it were, laying down our lives for them, reprimanding them as they stand condemned for following not Jesus, but the world, the flesh and the devil. The greatest charity is to remain with Jesus, who is God, who is love.
I’ve always said that the one preoccupation of a priest is to get his own little hell out of the way of Jesus, the One Priest, doing this by following Jesus. Jesus is One Good Shepherd.
That picture above shows the chief to the left (on the phone) and a few others. Apparently, the deadly “by-stander syndrome” had gripped a few of the officers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde:
“There’s someone else in charge, and we need to choose our battles and be prudent and live to fight another day. So what if there’s ongoing sporadic gunfire.”
BORTAC arrives, negatively assesses that “rationale”, goes in and instantly neutralizes the threat of the shooter as was possible to all 376 responding officers.
There is no choosing such battles. Each one must be fought, first time, every time, regardless of any stand-down orders. The guy who doesn’t fight every single battle like the one in Uvalde will never fight in any battle unless he radically converts.
Analogy for the priesthood. You have heard that it was said:
“There’s an epic battle with hell going on right now with bishops everywhere attacking faith and morals and the spiritual life and reverent liturgy, and, we’re gripped by the deadly “by-stander syndrome.” We priests have to stand by each other and say that someone else is in charge, and because of that we’re going to say that we’re forced to stand by idly all day and do nothing, we’re being forced to go along to get along, forced to live and fight another day, because you gotta choose your battles, you know, you gotta be prudent, you know. We’re the clever ones, the sophisticated ones, the one’s who have the power of being aloof, with power to have the largess to tolerate even hell, watching everyone go to hell. That’s on them, but we’re good to go. We’re heroes. We’ve seen it all. We can accompany even Satan himself. We’re the ones. We’re the only ones. Learn from us who are prideful and arrogant of heart.”
Meanwhile, the church and the world run as fast as possible into hell. The guy who doesn’t fight today will never fight tomorrow unless he radically converts. Every battle for doctrine, morals, the spiritual life, reverent liturgy must be fought. We have to be ready to die on any hill during any fight, and then go to heaven bringing many others to heaven with that example, with that intercession of one’s very life for the salvation of souls.
So, Cardinal Cupich, the Red Guard, in Chicago is entirely shutting down the Institute of Christ the King in Chicago, you know, because they offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Confession, Last Rites, the Faith.
Did they get due process for their incessant crimes of reciting the Creed?
This is absurd. A precedent of things to come. The Diocese of Charleston, just to the south of me, has also chosen this day to clamp down all the more. I’m guessing there will be many more and that the speed of closing down the TLM will increase: “You’re believers! Guilty!”
This is about logistics. The priests are not themselves cancelled, but all their priestly activity is cancelled. Can they be, will they be welcomed anywhere else in the world? Pope Francis is watching closely. Remember, they say – “Credo…” – and so are guilty of the worst crime in the world. Who could, who would take them? And so it will be for the rest of us.
But maybe if the good priests would just be more like Blase and bribe the demons with blessings for the new year so as to be saved by these demons in the coming year:
Or – Hey! – maybe the good priests should be more like Father Pfleger, and use a Pachamama canoe for the Consecration at Holy Mass.
Or – Hey! – maybe the good priests should STOP saying the Hail Mary and the Saint Michael prayer after Holy Mass. I bet that’s the problem.
Or – Hey! – ….
No. The good priests should just continue being good priests, come what may. The Lord Jesus, Sovereign High Priest, will provide for them, certainly also the privilege of being with Him on the Cross.
Galatians 2:11 — “When Cephas [=Rock=Peter] came to Antioch, I [Paul] opposed him to his face [yep, that’s literal, “to his face”], because he was being perfectly condemned.”
That Paul uses the Aramaic translation of Peter’s name, Cephas – Rock – is an incisive and well deserved emphasis of mockery against Peter, as being a “Rock” is exactly what he was not being. Peter allowed himself to be reduced to the shifting sands of relativism. That description, κατεγνωσμένος, a perfect passive participle – refers to Peter perfectly continuing to be perfectly condemned. This refers to Peter’s blasphemy of our redemption in Christ Jesus with Peter insisting that that redemption is useless, to be discarded, thrown away, spit on, because we should all instead just follow the old pedagogical punishments of circumcision, you know, for the sake of passing political correctness (like that‘s going to save us). Peter was a bullshit artist, and Paul called him out on it.
In fact, etymologically, to be pedantic about it, κατεγνωσμένος, comes from κατά (against) and γνῶσις (knowledge), so: knowledge that is held against someone. Paul’s judgment against Peter was consonant with God’s Living Truth. Thus, Peter stands condemned, perfectly.
Paul made the correction and thus became a saint.
Peter took the correction and thus became a saint.
That’s so very Catholic. We are to correct and admonish one another, helping each other be humble before Christ Jesus. We gotta get to heaven. We depend also on such admonishments. And it was not Paul who was bullying Peter. Peter was abusing his authority.
Not to correct someone is to be condemned to hell, and to assist others in being condemned to hell.
To correct someone is a great act of charity. One risks being smacked down by the one being corrected.
The ugliest thing in the world is when the one being corrected attacks the one correcting. That’s ingratitude that cries out to heaven for vengeance. God is The Authority. God hates abuse of authority.
Remember that in all this Paul is, in his own words, like an abortion compared to the super-apostles. Peter is “powerful”, the one on whom the Church is founded by the Son of the Living God. Peter could have thrown a self-entitled “Karen” tantrum embarrassing himself all the more, and the entire Church. Can you imagine that cataclysmic disturbance this would have caused in the early Church. The Church would continue, but wounded. Thank God Peter converted once again.
But now there’s a law in the Code of Canon Law which can illegitimately but very possibly be used by the powers that be to hurt with brutal hypocrisy those who would correct ecclesiastical superiors:
Canon 1373. A person who publicly incites hatred or animosity against the Apostolic See or the Ordinary because of some act of ecclesiastical office or duty, or who provokes disobedience against them, is to be punished by interdict or other just penalties.
For a bishop, even the bishop of Rome, to use such a law over against someone who is doing them the charitable courtesy of correcting them for evil behavior or the corruption of doctrine and morals is, to repeat, a supreme abuse of authority, for which, all the more, they need to be called out.
Is it easy for the upper echelon to kick those below them in the teeth, sending them into a coma, disallowing them to preach, to hear Confessions, to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? This is so very, very cruel. Demonic, really.
Pope Francis once gave good advice about this; “Humility, humility, humility.” Yep.
If one offers a necessary correction, this is, in and of itself, a justified attack on all that which is self-absorbed, promethean, neo-pelagianistic,, neo-gnostic, casuistic, “Karen”-self-entitled entrenchment into rigidity that betrays deeper psychological and spiritual problems… Whew!
The answer by the cowardly hissy-fit crowd is, of course, to say such things about those who instead are just doing their best to be charitable and courteous, whatever the cost.
Those who charitably correct their brothers are not hurt in the least by those who would smack them down. Instead, they are filled all the more with joy at having the opportunity to suffer for the Holy Name of Jesus.
And given all those who are necessarily correcting the powers that be these because of all that needs to be corrected, I’d like to suggest to the powers that be that need correcting not to be so arrogant in slamming those who risk all to make that correction. They are vulnerable, not powerful, and it is an almost inescapable temptation to simply lash out against them. Don’t do it. Just take the correction, and convert. That Christ Jesus will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire is no joke. You should, instead, be thankful, first of all to Jesus who redeemed us all and wants that “the many” be saved.
That post was about him. This one is about my own usage of the dynamic of alcohol.
As I said in that last post, dad is totally my hero for how he went from being the active alcoholic to getting really close to Jesus with daily Mass and spiritual direction from priests. He became sober in the early-mid 1970s, successfully going cold-turkey on a certain Ash Wednesday, and sticking with it. That really impressed me. Great example.
Do I drink? Not much. Nothing against it. Catholics know how to party, as we know from the Wedding of Cana. But to say that any drinking on my part is a rare event doesn’t quite tell the story.
In younger days, when offered a slice of salty pizza, I might be given a beer. Whatever.
More recently, I’m sure I’ve had a craft beer here or there. We didn’t have those when I was a kid. Back when I was in Europe I do remember having a panaché or two. Some will say that doesn’t count. Even more recently, I remember having a sip of apple cider. But hard liquor? I would try a Bailey’s Irish Cream on a spectacular occasion, every other ten or twenty years. The rector of the seminary at which I was a new faculty member ordered a Manhattan for me at a meal for all the new priest-professors at Ruth’s Chris. I didn’t know what a a Manhattan was. Now I know it’s not for me.
Here’s the deal: as I grow older, I find out that my larynx swells up because of the trauma of a drink with too high of a percentage of alcohol. I have a super rare hereditary disease and I gotta be careful. My mom, from whom I got this hereditary malady, suffocated to death with her throat swelling up (not because of alcohol), as do about 1/3 of those affected. Not pleasant. I’ve been at that point of my esophagus just barely not being entirely tightly swelled shut more than a couple of dozen times throughout my life. I’m just waiting my turn for the 100% event at anytime. So, it’s just not worth having a hard drink. That’s all been good for my spiritual life, but – Hey! – there are other ways, like a Rosary.
Besides, now, for some six years, I carry G-19 Gen-4. That doesn’t mix with any drinking, ever. Period.
Whatever about having a panaché or a craft beer or even the rare Bailey’s in days of yore, my attitude toward alcohol my entire life was simply benign neglect. You like it? Go for it! I enjoy having a sharp intellect as much as that’s even possible through my fog.
Reflecting on this now, I cannot for the life of me even once think of any occasion ever when dad offered any alcohol of any kind to me, ever. He totally respected me on this point. That respect of his for me was very formative. He wanted better for me. I took that in stride. Thanks, dad.
I’ve lost good friends in just saying “no” to their offer of hard liquor. But it’s not a friend of any kind who, even in knowing my medical condition, still doesn’t care one bit about that. I know how to be polite, but then entrench. When I was a kid there was never a problem with any forcing dramatics. The first time I had to learn how to say “no” to alcohol was when I was a new deacon just assigned to a parish Stateside for a month or so during the Summer break in between school years over in Rome. Learning how to say “no” was an event, that is to say, it happened all in the space of a couple of days which brought all the premises of a lifetime together, so to speak, in the argument that would play out to a conclusion of how to deal with… trouble. Just say “no.”
It was a huge rectory with three priests assigned there. The pastor was an alcoholic in total denial. The parochial vicar befriended me but stayed out of the way of the other two priests, one of them being “in residence.” This would be a perfect experience for me for me to be trained up in saying “no” to alcohol just to test the psychological dynamics. Was I welcome as a human being bringing with me an entire life history, or, as a deacon wanting to be a priest, did I have to conform to some behavioral standard just to impress the powers that be so as to get a good word put in for me to the bishop? In other words, would I have to drink hard liquor just to fit in, or else?
For the first week at this new assignment I stayed in my room in the evening, reading, studying, praying, whatever, anything but making myself available in the “common room” of the rectory, trying to avoid the drama of the alcoholism. But then it struck me that this was no way to live.
I made my way to the “common room” one evening with something to read, a large tome of moral theology, something about Humanae vitae by Italian author Father Ermenigildo Lio, something that would take me days to plow through. The “common room” was very spacious, with all sorts of couches and chairs and coffee tables, a large television, always stocked with chips and drinks and a beer-keg fridge with a tap through the door. The door of the “common room” was always open. I sat down, turned on the reading lamp next to me, and opened my book.
In no time at all, so predictable, the pastor appeared, taken aback at my presence, but he said hello, and then went to get a beer stein and fill it up at the tap of the keg fridge, but only, say 1/3 full. He would then waddle back to his room. Five minutes later, a repeat. This went on for hours. Finally, I had him spooked. He spoke up:
So, you’re just reading, right?
So, what’r you reading?
Oh just something by Ermenigildo Lio. Good stuff. On Human vitae.
So, is your room O.K.?
Perfect. I just thought this would be a change of scenery. This is a nice chair.
We can get a chair like it for your room.
This is O.K.
So, just so you know, I only fill up the stein just a bit. I’m cutting back. Doctor’s orders.
[[… back to reading … head down … I wasn’t thrown out … yet … but it wouldn’t be long now …]]
I’m so bad and evil. But I got the message across. He knew better than to get plastered every night like this. He was upset with me for calling him out just by reading quietly in chair in a “common room.”
The next day I was told by the in-residence priest to make sure to show up for the evening meal. It was a setup, of course. The in-residence priest brought some very expensive hard liquor and made up some special occasion which didn’t sound special at all. The parochial vicar didn’t show up, smart as he was. No food was on the table yet, but the bottle was de-foiled and un-corked, and I was given one of the special glasses he also brought. I politely refused, setting the glass upside down on the table, now guessing the connection with the night before. I wasn’t going to be manipulated. He insisted. I even more politely refused, ever so soft-spoken, going out of my way to be very nice indeed. He insisted again, picking up the glass and filling it up, shoving it in my hands. I put it back on the table. We played this game a few more times as the pastor watched intently. It was all quite aggressive by this point as the in-residence guy told me that he was involved with seminarian formation and then instructed me:
“If you’re going to be ordained a priest you’re going to have to learn to drink sociably.”
“This is an issue we’re going to have to raise with the bishop.”
“Fine with me.”
And in anger, he stomped out, not staying for the meal. The pastor said nothing, but that evening repeated his beer stein waddlings.
If they were going to deny me ordination to the priesthood over politely refusing a drink (they weren’t interested in reasons), that means I was already dead. I was transferred to another parish, just like that.
Look, I’m no paragon of virtue. I’m not putting these guys down to say I’m great. No. It’s just that I did learn something from my dad and I thank him for that and I want more people to gain from the lessons he taught me. It’s about Jesus. He’s the One. He’s the only One. He knew that. Jesus’ Little Flock can know Jesus. He’s our pastor. It’d be great if priests would get to know Jesus like this as well. We’re nothing without Jesus.
Jesus saw me, and I saw Him seeing me, beckoning me to follow Him in His priesthood priesthood 60 years ago today, 24 June 1962, the First Class Feast of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist (and also this year the First Class Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus). The call from Jesus to His priesthood came to me most appropriately during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass when I was just 28 months old, not even 2½ years old.
Formation faculties at seminaries today disdain reports of such vocation events especially at such a very young age, for they instead want to feel useful, and have “conversations” about “the process” of discernment, creepily digging into feelings and such. Consistent with that, the useful ones kept repeating that we would know we had a vocation when our names were called by them at the Ordination Mass. Nice ecclesiology, that. But I tell you I suddenly knew absolutely that I had a vocation at 28 months old in the presence of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. There was no process at all: I didn’t choose Jesus; He chose me. It’s one of those “Let the children come to me” things. He drew me to His Heart. It’s His fault!
It was a beautiful but hot Summer’s day both outside and inside Saint Paul’s Catholic Church on the northern side of Saint Cloud, Minnesota. The church building looks the same today as it did on that day, 60 years ago.
At the time, there was a magnificent High Altar at the center-back of the sanctuary, behind altar rails, of course. The Tabernacle was in the center of that High Altar, where Jesus Himself was enthroned. Jesus utilized those logistics the Most Blessed Sacrament in calling me to His priesthood before it all disappeared.
It would only be a few years later that I was devastated to see and hear that the church had to be closed for police investigations and repairs. This took many months. That’s when the family started “church-hopping,” a term coined later, in post Vatican II chaos. What had happened is that the backside of the High Altar had suffered from an arson attack, say, in 1964 or 1965, and then was quite severely wreckovated, which did much more damage than the fire did.
It would be more than 3½ decades later, in the late 1990s, when, over in Rome, I told a papabile Cardinal friend my vocation story. He was instantly angry with me, reprimanding me sternly to impress the point: That means you’re especially responsible for every moment of your priesthood. Take His priesthood seriously! I objected that everyone should take seriously whatever vocation they have from Jesus whenever they get it. My snarkiness didn’t go over well. He was angry. Anyway…
Every vocation does have a lived context in which Jesus makes His call to follow Him. My vocation event happened 3½ months before the opening of the Second Vatican Council later that year, 11 October 1962. Mind you, preparations for the opening session were well under way and, just when Jesus was calling me, the “too traditional” schemas of the documents for the Council were being rejected while a general rebellion against doctrine and morality and reverent liturgy and proper instruction on the spiritual life was being prepared.
Excuse the lack of subtitles in the video below. Just the scenes are well worth the few minutes to situate you back in those waaaay too optimistic, heady, self-congratulatory times. Believe me, subtitles would be a bit frightening. Some were well intentioned, but others worked for the demise of the Church.
Back to the vocation event where even the fine details are important, and, yes, I remember everything when I was kid. I’m still able to describe, like I’m seeing it now, the house we lived in until we moved, when I was still just one year old. Anyway…
I remember with a perfectly clear memory, clear as a bell, seeing right now, as it were, the white fiddleback Roman Mass vestments on that Sunday of my vocation, 24 June 1962.
I was with my entire family on the central aisle side of the long wooden pew, the second from the back of the church, on the Gospel side. I was next to dad, my brother on the far side of him, with both sisters being surveilled by mom on my other side. I was straining to see through the jam-packed crowd of everyone in their Sunday best, with all their flowered hats and veils for the women, and suits, despite the day being so hot, for the men. Yes, churches were jam packed, standing room only, back in 1962.
I was trying to behave, but, being in the midst of the terrible twos as I was, mom had to keep repeating that I should just stay seated. But by the time the first reading was going on over on the Epistle side of the High Altar, ad orientem, of course, I was on my feet, standing tippy-toe on the kneeler, both hands on the top of the pew in front of me, hanging on for dear life, with me just being able to see over the top of the pew and between the shoulders of the two people in front of me. I remember the person in front of me on my right leaning a shoulder hard on my fingertips – ouch! – claiming their space. I stood my ground. I was interiorly compelled to see what was happening up in the sanctuary of the church, some 170 feet away (I just did a google-maps check).
The priest had now made it over to the Gospel side, pausing in the middle of the High Altar for the prayers of purification before the Gospel, even while the Missale Romanum was brought over for him. When he finished the Gospel, he took off what I now know is a maniple, and he placed it over the Missale Romanum. Then, and this is allowed by the rubrics of the time, and because it was such a hot day, he proceeded to take off the fiddleback vestment for the preaching.
Poor guy, he hadn’t untied the strings that hold it in place. I know that now, using such Roman vestments all the time. All I saw back then is that he was really struggling. He had flipped the vestment over his head, which is where it stayed because of it still being tied on. Both deacon and subdeacon came to his rescue. I felt sorry for him, but I was also a little scared, even at that distance, because he was really quite flustered by the time he was freed of his entanglement. In anger, he crumbled up the vestment and then placed it in a ball on top of the maniple and Missale.
He made his way down the steps and went to the pulpit and began to preach. I was trying to pay attention, not to what he said, for I was too young. It’s that I was interiorly compelled to pay attention, but I didn’t know to what, to whom, but I had to pay attention. Then it hit me that there was something, that is, Someone else who was drawing my attention, namely, He who is the One, the only One, back at that High Altar, in the Tabernacle, with me not knowing anything about God or the Blessed Sacrament, but for me, right then, right there, I recognized Him who was recognizing me, looking upon Him who was looking upon me, His powerful, majestic, personal, loving Presence, beckoning me. I was agape, bonded to Him. Let me be clear, without seeing anything or anyone with my physical eyes, I most certainly saw Him seeing me. I was transfixed. Suddenly self conscious, I quickly looked from side to side for reassurance, only to see the Styrofoam bored looks one might expect to see during a boring homily on a super hot Summer Sunday morning in church. I quickly looked back at Him whom I saw seeing me, looking right into my soul, and I was all the more taken, enthralled.
What Jesus saw was the indwelling of the Most Holy Trinity in my soul by way of the sanctifying grace from my baptism. That grace, reflecting God Himself, was not besmirched, for I was too young to commit any personal sin. The call was clear as clear as clear can be. He wanted me there, with Him for my whole life, at His Altar of Sacrifice. Not that I knew this was His altar of Sacrifice. Not that I knew what it meant to be a priest other than to be totally available Him, dedicated to Him. He’s the One. He’s the only One. I don’t know how to describe this adequately, but there was a fast bond established right then, right there.
And there’s another aspect to that. It’s like I was directed to understand that there was an analogy to be made of that priest with myself, again, not on any intellectual level – I wasn’t even 2½ years old – but spiritually, and before Jesus, and in view of that ever so personal bond I now had with Jesus. I perceived that the priest who was preaching was inept, unworthy of being in the presence of the One, the only One, but so was I. I was in objection mode with a sense of not being worthy, but that being dealt with by the One calling. That’s on Him. From the get go, I perceived that humble thanksgiving to this Majestic One was the only way to proceed. The emphasis was and still is on thanksgiving, without losing sight of knowing I’m unworthy. Being in solidarity with that priest has always been an aspect of the priesthood for me, trying to be available to other priests, sometimes for friendship, sometimes for the sacraments, giving and receiving, and sometimes that’s for offering reprimands, or in getting reprimanded. :-)
Look. I get it. We don’t hear much of that kind of experience happening with an infant. Granted. But I’m not saying that my reflections on the experiences had all the intellectual descriptions with refined vocabulary back in the day. That I’m making those descriptions now with all my present vocabulary is simply speaking to an experience as personal and alive now as it was then, that steadfast bond of love and truth being unchanging, as if it were happening right now, and it is, and it still the same Jesus, still the same call, still the same bond that He creates. On the level of love, this is absolutely possible back in the day just as it is right now, filling me with joy. The least of the brethren, mere infants, have souls that are wide open to the goodness and kindness and truth of God even at a very young age. Children are drawn to real goodness, real kindness, to Him who is Truth, and can absolutely assent to that bond of love that is created by the One, the only One who calls.
But, one more thing to say about this: my guardian angel witnessed Jesus calling me to His priesthood, and this added to this great angel’s burden to light, to guard, to rule, to guide, also in view of the chaos that came my way and has come my way throughout my life, with much that chaos being how the gangsters hijacked the Church already way back in the day.
Finally, this call from Jesus is the foil I use for an examination of conscience. Jesus’ call obviates that I am not up to living up to that vocation. That’s with me constantly, but that also spurs on the thanksgiving. Jesus is very good. Jesus is very kind. I’ve known that, been convinced of that, for 60 years.
Such days of distraction we’ve had, however necessary such an essential service is as provided by the diocese. All the parishes are supposed to be audited every few years or when a pastor is transferred. I doubt that I’ll be transferred out of this, my most favorite of all parishes. But we’re way out of date for any audits, both because of some diocesan planning logistics and because we’re about as far away from the Chancery as one can possibly get in these back-sides-of-the-back-ridges of beautiful Western North Carolina. But now we’re up to date and good to go for another few years.
It was quite the eye-opener for our auditor, the actual Director of Internal Audits, you know, our smallest of all parishes as compared to the big city parishes. Most of the audit inquiries were entirely irrelevant in our tiny parish, such as what kind of compensation oversight did we have for oversight teams for hiring third-party oversight teams for whatever project teams we might have, for instance, in creating oversight teams for oversight teams. Sorry, just a bit of humor there. ;-) But you get the idea. Some things are relevant only to the mega-big-city-parishes. Having grown up with wolves and moose in the North Woods of Minnesota, I’m so happy to be waaay out in here in the State and National Forests.
Our patron saint to whom we pray at the opening of our Finance Council meetings in the parish is Saint Turibio, a Mexican priest, a Cristero martyr, who the day and night before he was murdered took his horse from parish to parish to parish to get all the books in order! I’m impressed.
I bother to make this a post on this blog for the sake of encouraging good vocations to the priesthood who are going to be squeaky clean regarding finances. You cannot serve both God and mammon. Don’t be scandalized by all the scandal. You just do what is right. And that’s already its own reward. You are free of the darkness, free to serve Jesus with one’s whole mind, soul, heart, strength. A joy.
All of these flowers for the Immaculate Conception are at the house of some friends. They love our Blessed Mother. I’m sometimes able to visit them on the always epic “Day Off”, which was dedicated this time to watching the woodworking skills of Joseph, who whipped up a large cross that will go high atop the cupola of Prince of Peace mission church across the mountain in Graham County.
The cross will receive coatings protecting it from the weather before it’s exalted on high.
After taking pictures of flowers for the Immaculate Conception (that being the first priority), they generously provided me with an exaggerated-bacon breakfast.
That provided energy to spend the day solving all the problems of the church and the world.
The irony of that is appreciated, it being that I’m a troublemaker amongst the problems of the church and the world.
On the way back home, I did something I haven’t done in a very long time, taking the old, non-truck route 64:
And then at the very last second I turned off on Wayah Road. It all made me realize once again that I have the most beautiful parish in the world, the Lord’s Little Flock and also the paradise that WNC is.
“No one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for My sake and for the gospel will fail to receive a hundredfold in the present age – houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields, along with persecutions – and in the age to come, eternal life.” (Mark 10:29-30)
“Sister Raymond (Bernadette) Grieble, CSA, 79, a resident at St. Francis Home, passed away Friday, May 9, 2008 at the home. Bernadette was born February 20, 1929, to Raymond Grieble and Helen Elizabeth Schoch Grieble in Altoona, Pennsylvania. Taking her father’s name, Bernadette became Sister Raymond upon entering the novitiate of the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes. Profession of first vows in 1948 fulfilled the first step of her lifelong dream to become a sister. […]
“Sister Raymond […] was assigned to Waspam, Nicaragua, in 1961. […] She served in Latin America nearly 40 years, with more than 30 of them being in Nicaragua. From 1982-1990 she was the regional coordinator for all the Sisters of St. Agnes in Nicaragua. […]
“During the civil war in the 1980s, she was in Managua, serving as coordinator for the Sisters of St. Agnes. When she returned after the war, she found Waspam destroyed and the convent as well. The native people had been forced out. As the people returned and began to rebuild, the convent was rebuilt as well, but with inferior materials. Like the people, she and the sisters had to deal with termites, low voltage electricity which sometimes led to the use of candles for light, poor plumbing, the scarcity of food, and non-potable water. Madre Raimunda, with her firm principles, courage, strong voice, exuberant spirit, and unlimited energy, became a tower of strength for the people.
“Sister Raymond’s leadership was recognized beyond Waspam. Though she did not actively participate in politics, she was trusted enough to be present at the peace dialogues between the rebel leaders and the government. […]”
Upon our first meeting, Sister Raymond “assigned” yours truly (she gets what she wants) to bring Mass stipends to Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo in Managua, Nicaragua. This brought me, however indirectly but ever so directly, into the whole world of the CIA and our Consulate/Embassy dynamics throughout Central America and around the world beginning with arriving to the airport in Miami. But I digress.
It wasn’t mentioned in Sister Raymond’s obit, but she had mentioned to me back in the mid-1980s what it was like to be shot. She said that, having taken a bullet to her lower leg, at first, there was no pain at all, but that she felt a trickle… of what had to be… blood. Grrr! She was going to have to reprimand her school students, who were, of course, all Catholic, and so many of whom had been her students right throughout the country, including the likes of Danny Ortega. How they turned out isn’t her fault!
So many memories. So many stories. What Catholic schools turned into under bad priests, the spying on all foreign mail in the country, the underground military sites, the unbelievable false flag operations, the terrible injustices, fraud, kidnappings… the whole complexity of how things really go down. Yikes!
Sister tried to keep clergy and and bishops in line. Her no-messing-around go-get-’em can-do attitude and insistence on prayer had great influence on my whole life. Holy Mass for her tomorrow. God rest you, Sister Raymond.
/// For my reactions after seeing the movie Tuesday night 4/12/2022, scroll to end of the post. ///
For theaters and show times just google – father stu theater near me – . For me, there’s a theater not far away on Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week. Chrism Mass Tuesday. So, maybe Wednesday or I’ll have to wait for the DVD. This might be the sixth movie in my life I’ve seen on the big silver screen.
Caveat: I haven’t seen this, yet. I’m not at all strict about language and violence if it fits the story and character development and isn’t simply gratuitous, and all of that is apparently fitting here, but I am super strict about any sexual content as it’s a sin to stare at that and it’s a sin to produce it. Jesus and Mary and the angels would not be pleased.
Therefore, I got hold of a friend who is super-involved in the film to see what he said about the R rating:
Father George: “I got promo stuff for Father Stu. It kept repeating it’s R rated. Whatever with cuss words or violence, just tell me there’s no erotic scenes.”
The Guy: “There’s a kiss thing but it doesn’t go further. You get the idea that they are going to get it on but don’t see it & then he goes to confession where he says he sinned but all he could think about was disappointing God. It’s implied that they had sex but not seen.”
There’s David and Bathsheba in the Scriptures. And there are so many other passages. Later, we hear about young Augustine from Saint Augustine, et cetera et alii…
Here are the accompanying letters to the poster. I’m guessing that every pastor in America got these.
(1) From the Bishop of the Diocese of Helena, Montana, where the real Father Stu (RIP) was beloved by all.
(2) Then from Mark Wahlberg, who’s the actor who plays Father Stu:
(3) Then from Lisa Wheeler, President of Carmel Communications:
It would be good to see something that treats the priesthood with respect. It would be good to see something that portrays priests who are real men.
I, for one, am sick and tired of gender confused deniers of doctrine, deniers of morality, wreckers of the spiritual life, destroyers of the Liturgy, those who, in Holy Orders, act in Persona Christi at the consecrations at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass even while insulting Jesus with their sins.
I’d like to see something that honors the man’s Man, Christ Jesus, by honoring the priesthood of Jesus Christ even in Jesus’ priests. There are good priests. I hope this does well. The liberal main stream media narrative has to be abandoned so that there’s a change in the hearts and souls of the faithful. Let’s repeat that: the narrative of the liberal bishops has to change.
I’m hoping those to the far right will chill just a little so as to rejoice in the character development of young Stuart to Father Stu, that is, toward Christ Jesus. There’s a promotion of the Sacrament of Confession. I love that. I love that a lot. It’s refreshing that Jesus is the One. You gotta admit that Jesus is otherwisenot much mentioned much in the “American Church.” This is a move in the right direction. I’m hoping that those bishops especially on far left will have fear put into them by the presentation of a priest who knows his identity in Christ Jesus. That’s the last priest they would ever want around. And – Hey! – you never know. Maybe some will rediscover their vocation, also go to confession, and put their ordination graces into action by bringing souls to the Divine Son of the Living God. That would be good, would it not?
Also, just to say, this movie also stars Mel Gibson. Mel cares very much about the priesthood and is concerned about the present state of the priesthood. He saw something in this that he knows has to enter into mainstream of Americana. He’s right. The priesthood is about Christ Jesus. Father Stu gets it.
Tuesday of Holy Week was the Chrism Mass in the Cathedral in Charlotte, well over a 400 mile round trip. More on that later, but it was an appropriate day to see “Father Stu”. On my way home I caught the evening screening down in Georgia at a tiny back-mountain-ridge in the middle-of-nowhere family theater.
First reaction: Totally credible. I recognized, could relate to, have seen before a thousand times everything in “Father Stu” for the reason that I’ve been on the teaching and formation faculties of major seminaries right around the world. Our Lord calls fallen human beings. Hint: we are all fallen. I’ve seen to my great frustration stunningly out-of-touch with reality, out-of-touch with the faith priests and religious and laity who were on the teaching and formation faculties of seminaries just as presented in the movie. Totally accurate. Did they try to vote down such as “Father Stu”? Absolutely. Did I see some make it through to be ordained anyway? Absolutely. The ones who got ordained against all odds had to be fighters, had to learn to trust entirely in the Lord.
Confession: There’s great catechesis, blatant, not hidden, super-clear about kinds of contrition and going to confession and having a firm purpose of amendment. Repeated. Really excellent. This is a movie which encourages going to confession. Great confession scenes of someone learning to go to confession later in life. Ha! I was shocked to see all this on the big silver screen. Wonderful. Anyone hesitating to go to confession that you know? Bring them to see the movie Father Stu. Ha! Have a good priest for them to go to confession to. That’s important.
About 100% of viewers will be thinking that they wish their priests were more like Father Stu.
There isn’t much subtlety in any of the film. The character development is rather extreme, leaving no room not to get the point.
Father Stu becomes a fighter in a different way, and is always a better fighter, a fighter for the Lord by the Lord’s strength, always down to earth, but developing in his friendship with the Lord for sure.
The nerdy seminarian, I forget his name, is, perhaps, the most important character in the film. He’s a caricature of all that is wrong, but has his own narrative changed by Stu as the film goes on. There quite a bit of psychodrama going on with him, all interwoven with the whole film. Fine. The prison scene portrays the state of affairs, the nerdy guy who doesn’t get “the plot” and the guy who does “get it.” There are plenty of these guys in the seminary who don’t get the plot, perhaps ever, and because of that, do untold damage. The film presents one reason for a seminarian not “getting it.” There are many. That amount of space given to the nerdy guy is geared to changing the narrative that such guys can entrench in. Maybe in seeing this film they will recognize themselves and allow themselves to get found by Christ Jesus.
The girl friend… I better let any of the women out there comment on her character development… I do think that Father Stu understood her much better than she understood herself.
The reaction in the theater: The family theater was just a stone’s throw from a parish church. I’m guessing most everyone in the theater (a good crowd by the way) were Catholic. They laughed out loud, a lot, I’m thinking because the whole film reflected reality quite accurately.
About the R-rating: Yes, plenty of bad language, mostly F-bombs, a bit jarring out of the mouth of Stu’s mother. But then you gotta know that she comes around and does get baptized along with Stu’s equally foul-mouthed dad. There’s not much violence. The “adult content” is basically not existent, just like described at the top of this post, basically nothing. The “R” rating is engineered, that is, just to get the R rating so as to get more to get tickets. Really. If it was PG not one person would see it. Get it?
After describing the film to Father Gordon, he said something I had said would make a great blog-post title:
“Self-absorbed policies of liberal-assed bishops” [Hahaha]