Tag Archives: Vocations

Coronavirus: Criticize priests without need? People won’t go to Confession…

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I heard some very cynical people the other week presenting their views to the world on the internet, you know, when lock-downs were being announced. They were saying that there are priests – OF COURSE! PRIESTS! – who will think of this time as a vacation and go off and enjoy themselves, carefree, happy to forget about their flocks.

Really? A generalization, that? Calumny of a entire class of people, that? It used to be that people would notice ever so many canonized saints severely warning people not to criticize priests unnecessarily. It seems that they are purposely selectively ignoring canonized saints so as to promote a generalized anti-clerical agenda.

The reason canonized saints insisted on not criticizing priests unnecessarily is not any double standard. It seems like it is a double standard, for we are not to criticize anyone unnecessarily. Why make not criticizing priests unnecessarily a thing? Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote at length of fraternal correction, and said that sometimes we have to criticize priests and bishops publicly if they are egregiously publicly leading people astray, etc. Great! But still, why the emphasis by canonized saints on not criticizing priests unnecessarilyThat would be a sin, as it would be for anyone, but more so. Why?

Sin… That brings us to the reason for insisting in a special manner that we are not to criticize priests unnecessarily. If people do that, what do you think the result is going to be? The result will be that people who desperately need to go to Confession will use this unnecessary criticism as their excuse that they cannot go to Confession to such a terrible, horrible priest.

Let me give you an example. Someone came up to me in church a while back (whom I’ve never seen before) and with very dark face and with grave concern told me that I was losing really a lot of weight, and that this was alarming, and that I needed to somehow stay alive.

I mentioned this to someone else who immediately said that, yes, of course, that other person surely thought that I had AIDS, because, you know, I’m a priest and all that. Actually, that was also my thought about what the first person was thinking. I mean, it could be that I have cancer, right? Or, might it just be that I’m ever so happy on my Keto diet?

To the point, with that kind of nuanced gossip going around, how many people who are desirous of integrity and honesty are going to want to go to Confession to me? Probably zero.

For the record, yes, I’ve lost a lot of weight. Today it’s just over 60 pounds I’ve lost since November 21, 2019. For the record, I don’t have cancer. I don’t have AIDS. And as far as I know, I don’t at all have any Coronavirus. It’s the Keto Diet. I recommend the Keto diet for those who are not diabetic and who have good kidneys and who can and will drink plenty of fluids every day, and who are willing to face the gossipers and all their unnecessary calumny and grave concern. I don’t know if that’s what the first concerned person meant to do, but… whatever the intention, that kind of thing doesn’t help. Not at all. And certainly the seemingly malicious group prejudice of an entire class of people is not good for the Sacrament of Confession.

Having said all that, know that there are plenty of great priests out there and that you can and must go to Confession. Look, even a terrible, bad and evil and even entirely faithless and atheist priest still gives a valid absolution. It’s Jesus who is at work in the working of the sacraments: ex opere operato and all that. That’s what you want, right?

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Those who unnecessarily criticize priests are risking judgment upon themselves for all the people who would have gone to Confession but didn’t based on that unnecessary criticism.

Now, will I be attacked as if I didn’t say “unnecessary,” as if I said never to criticize any priests at all no matter what? Sigh. But, that’s fine. I signed up exactly for this, you know, the beatitudes and all that. I’m good with it, as long as people go to Confession more than ever. And what’s more to say, in this diocese we have great seminarians, and this is exactly what they also signed up for. Bring it on. We’re happy to face the unnecessary criticism for others.

This is not about pleasing others the frantic criticizers.

This is about bringing souls face to face with Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, who will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Amen.

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Filed under Confession, Coronavirus, Missionaries of Mercy, Priesthood, Saints, Vocations

Fr Gordon opines on old chainsaw pic

GEORGE DAVID BYERS CHAINSAW PICTURE

This was taken some nine years ago. Fr Gordon MacRae thought this was by far the best picture of me, as it perfectly described my hermit life at the time. There’s Mass and prayers – and a million priestly things to do when no other priests are around – but also hard physical labor, the ol’ ora et labora motto of Saint Benedict: Work and Pray. The winters are long and cold and when heating with wood you gotta get wood to burn.

But in my last phone call with Fr Gordon, he said that picture would have to be replaced as it is no longer the best picture. Little did he know that I would have another chainsaw picture just some hours after that phone call. A very large bug-pine had been knocked down in a recent storm above our church parking lot, right into the neighbor’s yard and that neighbor asked if I might have it removed. To me, this kind of thing is great recreation, and I was happy to rev up the old chain saw. It started immediately, happy to oblige. It was already super sharp, ready to go. Bit of gas. Bit of oil. Vroom! 2 1/2 dozen big logs. 2 1/2 dozen smaller logs. All the wood was given to an elderly gent who heats only with wood and is well into his 70s. Bug-Pine, by the way, does little to manufacture creosote. It’s weird that my neighbor to the hermitage mentioned that I should cut some wood for the elderly poor just a few days ago. Not just a coincidence methinks.

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Anyway, the picture Fr Gordon now wants to say is his all time favorite of yours truly is this one below (about which I wrote in a previous post):

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My personal favorite is this one below. I’m the little one getting baptized:

just me 01

Do you have pictures of your baptism? Do you celebrate your baptism day each year? We find our identity in Jesus, for He alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We have to be all about Jesus. He’s the One. He’s the only One.

Having said that, but not inconsistent with that, I have lots of good times as a priest.

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Filed under Missionaries of Mercy, Priesthood

Adoration: the Most Blessed Sacrament because Jesus is the One, the only One

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Total novices in the spiritual life often think they are well advanced in the spiritual life, and those who walk with our dear Lord throughout the day and night often think they are the most knuckleheaded among Jesus’ little flock. Truly. You just cannot, cannot, cannot judge yourself, proclaiming that you know you’re “advanced” because of this or that whatever that you think you recognize, say, in the writings of an Elizabeth of the Trinity, of a Thérèse of Lisieux, of a Teresa of Avila, of a John of the Cross, of…. of… Just. No. It doesn’t work that way.

Those who think they know where they are at are putting their attention on themselves. They walk with themselves. They do not walk with Jesus.

Here’s the deal, we do not have the beatific vision. We have no standard of comparison of where we are at. We are never adequate to judge ourselves. And even if we could get a somewhat accurate idea about ourselves before God, we would still be wrong. Indeed, even the great Saint Paul says he cannot judge himself. We are here upon this earth, while hopefully on our way to heaven, not in order to stagnate, but in order to grow. And that demands that we admit that we have room to grow.

A couple of years ago I met a young man who was thinking of going on a certain retreat for vocational discernment that had strict requirements for minimum and maximum age for participants. I asked how old he was, stupidly guessing 18 years of age. His response was utter dismay. He was 19 years old, and therefore, he insisted, so very much wiser, so very much more experienced, so very much more capable in every way than a mere 18 year old. It is he who has the wisdom of age. And how DARE I guess that he was a mere 18 years old. He was apoplectic about it. Well. Goodness. Alright then.

Any self congratulation is self condemnation.

Having said that – condemning myself, because that’s exactly what I do if I look to myself in any way whatsoever – I should like to relate an experience I had the other day here in the rectory, where there is a little chapel with the Blessed Sacrament. [The above picture is of our parish church the other day, not the chapel in the rectory!]

I was passing by the open door of this little chapel – greeting Jesus and Mary as I walked by – as I do a hundred times a day, but this time I was stopped dead in my tracks. It was as if Jesus and Mary were looking upon me with… well… with an attitude similar to that which I rejoiced to see in Rome with the Missionaries of Charity while the sisters would try to organize the geriatric street people in their hostel situated between the Colosseum and the Circus Maximus. These sisters were really tough, but with charity. But, oh my, they were tough! You have to be tough with street people, and with geriatric street people to boot. Jesus had to be tough, hanging on the Cross as He did for us, Innocent for the guilty. His good mom, Mary, had to be tough, standing under the Cross in solidarity with Jesus, and therefore in solidarity with us.

Back story: Many years ago, during the most intensely academic of my years at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, I determined that if I were to survive as a priest of Jesus Christ, I simply had to have an apostolate of some kind. Volunteering with the Missionaries of Charity was a natural choice for me since I was great friends with many of them all over the world. The sisters were desperate for a man to give showers to some few of the helpless geriatric men who were to be in residence with them long term. “Showers.” That’s a euphemism. “Shower” means literally scrapping off of these helpless geriatrics their diarrhea which was long dried and caked and melded into their stand-on-their-own trousers. The stench! After that, maybe some of their other medical problems and issues could be dealt with. But first things first. I did this one morning every week for years. And, yes, if you’re wondering, this did lead to the spiritual life where there was none before. Tears on their part. Rejoicing on my part. Seeing a soul contrite before the living God, even while getting dried and caked diarrhea scrapped off of you is entirely beautiful to behold. “What you did for the least of these you did to Me” and all that.

Which brings me back to my stopped-dead-in-my-tracks walking by the chapel door at the rectory experience. I was instantly in the place of any one of the geriatric street geezers at that hospice, while Jesus and Mary were in the place of the Missionaries of Charity. Jesus was discussing with Mary what could possibly be done for me to wake me up to the glories of the Living God right before us, with me being so blind to all of this. I have no idea about that discussion, except my own two-fold reaction to the fact of it:

  • On the one hand I realized a bit more of my dire need, also that I was ignorant of knowing most of that of which I am in need.
  • On the other hand I rejoiced that Jesus and Mary had me in mind.

Those are both things that we can know and rejoice in on an intellectual level. It’s just that this were very personally to the center of heart and mind and soul, with the emphasis on a personal connection with them, even if I was just another of the geriatric old street geezers needing a bit of help from them. I could see that they did this in their great love that had nothing whatsoever to do with anything about any worthiness or unworthiness of mine. This was about their entirely gratuitous great love.

That’s the kind of thing that wins my heart over to the Heart of Jesus, you know, like the soldier on Calvary, after he had thrust his sword into the Heart of Jesus. That’s when that soldier knew that Jesus was the One, the only One. That soldier then immediately said: “Truly this is the Son of God.” No self congratulation there. It’s all about Jesus. Jesus is the One. The only One.

Should anyone proclaim that surely I’m a sinner in this way or that, you know, the usual, that I’m lazy because I don’t bilocate, that I’m gluttonous because I’ve had to go on a Keto diet (44+ pounds now lost in 2.5 months), that I’m a slob because I didn’t trim my beard today, and so on, my response is that they should update their condemnations, and say that I’ve crucified the Son of the Living God. I have. But while I have Jesus’ words “Father! Forgive them!” ringing in my ears while I continue to do my worst, piercing open the Heart of Jesus like that soldier, in recognizing that that’s what I would absolutely do if without the grace of God, that’s also my invitation to take the attention off myself and put it on Jesus, proclaiming “Truly this is the Son of God.”

And that’s how Jesus and Mary scrape the s*** off of yours truly and have me know that I’m part of the family, rejoicing that I can thank not me for this, but them alone.

Experiences like this speak nothing whatsoever about one’s growth in the spiritual life. Such experiences might speak to the fact that one needs special help, because of almost being a lost cause. Although nothing is impossible with God. Whether we notice that we are noticed by Jesus and our blessed Mother, we are nevertheless taken under their charge. We are all their special projects. We are all in need of being set right by them. For me, it is perhaps that I am in such need of getting a kick in the back end that I noticed the two of them noticing just me, a donkey priest. Not a vision, not a locution, no. Just my blackest and beadiest of black and beady hearts averting to the fact that Jesus is the One, the only One, and that His Mother is ours. Please God I will follow up on this. Our time is so short upon this earth.

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Filed under Adoration, Priesthood, Spiritual life, Vocations

On becoming an old geezer. I like it.

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It’s important to keep a sense of humor.

This was seen at a Communion Call the other day. The old geezer guy there, down at Shootin’ Creek (a real place in these most remote of back ridges of the Appalachians), has stage four cancer. His wife is so helpful and loving to him. Neither are senile.

I love being a priest, taking Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament through His beautiful creation to His Little Flock. It’s so very easy to see Jesus in His Little Flock.

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Filed under Humor, Priesthood, Vocations

This priest’s “Day Off”: Helping serve warrants in Andrews NC

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On my way back from three states away, having slain The Tail of the Dragon, and having done an exorcism for real, I got a call from Andrews, PD:

  • “Can you get to the PD by 7:00 PM? You’re our chaplain, and we want you to do a prayer with us before we do a raid on the drug house du jour, and then come along for the experience.”
  • “Sure, I’m just crossing state lines (still a couple of states away), but I should be able to get home, feed the dogs, put on my ballistic vest, and get up to the PD by 6:55 PM. See you then.”

And that’s how it worked out, to the second. The prayer was about serving those in the community, and about getting back safe and sound with life and limb. This was a first time to participate in a raid. And right near the rectory, and across the street from the town grade school. Here’s just part of the haul, with test kits verifying some substances:

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Of course, everyone is innocent until proven guilty. I’m not sayin’ nothin’ ’bout nothin’ no-how, not ever. No. Some were transported down to the jail. Some walked. Some, well, we will see. Everyone gets their day in court.

What I will say is that our PD is doing a great job serving the community. The point isn’t just about the law. This is about serving the community, particularly the grade school kids, keeping them safe, but also about those otherwise involved, giving them also a chance to start anew. Sometimes this is a way that also God permits for people to get tripped while they are running in the wrong direction in life. So, that’s great.

And mind you, these guys in the PD do this as a regular course of affairs, but this is perhaps the most dangerous thing any officer can ever do, breaking down a door and clearing a house while arresting and cuffing. Those inside are immediately filled with adrenaline, making them more unpredictable than ever. And any drugs often mean weapons. Just to say, there were two sets of  nunchuks right at hand and a nunchaku guy who knew how to use them to great effect.

What’s the part of a chaplain in all this? To witness the event. To be available to the alleged perps when they’re squared away (yes, that’s very important). To be available for situational awareness in a way that now ultra-distracted officers cannot be. For instance, who, if escaping the house as the raid goes on (there can be way too many to control)… who is jumping through windows and side-doors and through hatches in the floor…), and who is running where, and their descriptions. It’s also to see if anyone comes to the house to disrupt police activity. In this case, one car kept driving by continuously. It’s a thing with me to notice cars and licence plates. Like a hobby. That became important enough for that driver to be stopped and questioned by two of the officers. It’s also to watch over items that walkers-by could grab when contingencies get out of hand, tampering with evidence, or opportunistically stealing what greedy eyes beckon them to steal.

I recall a ride-along the other week in which we did the second most dangerous thing an officer can do, which is to do a “typical” traffic stop. The second we stopped the guy, friends of that guy came from nowhere, walking from across a lawn (in the direction of a drug house), from across a field (in the direction of favorite stash niches), and two more from another drug house, and with also – immediately – two trucks blocking the road by the one drug house, and another truck blocking the road on the other side near another drug house. That’s a bit weird. No violence ensued, but that was also perhaps because a second person was with the officer, chaplain or no chaplain.

These days, everyone thinks they are entitled to interfere with police activity, ganging up on the police. This is extremely unsafe for all involved. Contingencies were getting out of hand. I was happy to have the back of the officer, who, I’m also very happy to say, is simply the best at deescalation that I’ve ever come across. All was well.

The day started with the alarm going off at 1:00 AM. Then Mass was offered in the rectory chapel, this time in French. I was tuckered out by the time the Tail of the Dragon and the exorcism and the warrant serving was all done at about 9:30 PM. I have to confess I did not go along to the jail for the delivery of those in cuffs. It probably would have been 1:00 AM again before hitting the hay. So, having been absolved from that, I went back to the rectory and crashed, totally.

All on the “Day Off.” I’m thinking we priests shouldn’t be criticized so much for taking a “Day Off.” I love a “Day Off.”

That’s me. But the experience was slightly different for one of the officers, who was injured, not seriously, but perhaps really seriously, cutting himself with “sharps” that were used by one of those inside. He must have hit a small vein or artery as the blood was flowing quite freely. That sharps were involved could be really serious. That’s something also faced by officers day-in, day-out, as with nurses in hospitals, EMTs, et al.

I must say that I was quite taken by their concern for each other with the various first aid kits flying open, and at the same time how they took this in stride. They are well aware of the sacrifice they might have to make at any time. That says a lot. Truly.

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Filed under Law enforcement, Missionaries of Mercy

Oh deer! Reason #289076092873490857 why this priest visits the sick and dying

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Even if priests have hundreds on their sick and dying lists, they should personally visit all of them. “EMsHC” cannot cannot cannot provide the sacraments of say, Confession and Anointing.

That’s reason number one for priests to do this. Aren’t priests supposed to be fathers of their parish families? Yes.

Reason #289076092873490857 for why I visit all the sick and dying is that, in this paradise of a parish in the heart of Appalachia, I rejoice to see lots of nature while I am out and about going from county to county, taking Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament with me. There are the mountains and rivers and beasts of all kinds. Who wants to sit in an office all day?

There were actually five deer in this group. The picture is taken from the front porch of one of my home-bound. They stopped to listen to our conversation about them.

Today will be interesting. Sassy the Subaru will see some hundreds of miles, twice. A Mission of Mercy. A Hail Mary please.

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Filed under Missionaries of Mercy, Priesthood, Vocations

Priestly Celibacy, Jesus, Pachamama BS

crucifix drawing john of the cross

People put forward all sorts of “nice” arguments in favor of priestly celibacy, economic, logistical, practical, in favor of availability for anything and everything from missionary work to being moved from parish to parish and so on. I don’t buy any of those arguments. All of those could be overcome in one way or another. Putting priestly celibacy on the level of expedience is the fastest way to get rid of celibacy altogether, as these are all disciplinary. The debate – dialogue if you want – would be unending.

Forget all that rubbish! Let’s talk about doctrine. Let’s talk JESUS. He’s never mentioned in this except for things like – and this is truly stupid – “Jesus was celibate.” Yeah, well, He’s a special case isn’t He? So, drop that dumb argument as well.  Along the same lines, forget the bit about the Apostles not being married. They were in special circumstances as well.

On the other side, with Peter being married (remember the mother-in-law having the fever account?), that doesn’t hold either, as it seems from what we can surmise from Matthew 19:12 (I’ll get to that) and Paul’s letter to Titus, Peter surely became celibate. Not only would Peter be following up on Matthew 19:12, but he would be in line with this continuing tradition as spoken of later by Saint Paul, the the clergy are to be married but once, that is, to the Church. It would be insanity to say that “married only once” only refers to not being divorced and remarried, or to polygamy that they did not practice at that time. So, again:

Let’s speak of Jesus:

  • Jesus stood in our place, Innocent for the guilty, having the right in His own justice to have mercy on us, redeeming us from original sin and personal sin.
  • If we want, He forgives us, sanctifies us, makes us one with Himself, with the Body of Christ, Jesus the Head of the Body, we the members of the Body, as St Paul says.
  • We were created as the image of God, male and female, marriage and the family, as is eloquently pointed out in Genesis.
  • Jesus redeems that image and saves us by it by way of His own marriage with His bride the Church, as spoken about countless times explicitly throughout Old and New Testaments.
  • The marriage vows of Jesus, rendered in mercy founded on justice, are recited by the priest in the first person singular at the Sacrifice of the Mass, the Last Supper united with Calvary, at the Consecrations, those wedding vows:
    • This is my Body being given for you… in sacrifice
    • This is my Blood being poured out for you… in sacrifice
  • The priest is married to the Church by the Sacrifice he daily offers at the altar. How dare anyone say that a priest is NOT married. What an insult to both Jesus and the priest. How dark and hateful is that insult. How damnable.

Having said all that, let’s mention a few hateful assertions:

  • The stupid man says: “Priests should get married because that will cut down on abuse.” No, that superstitiously throws one sacrament at another sacrament as if that’s going to solve grave psychological issues and sin. All you are going to get is more incest.
  • The stupid man says: “Let’s ordain priests to say Mass but nothing else.” No, that just sets up people going to Holy Communion without any opportunity to confess their sins and be forgiven, which is the point of the Sacrifice of Jesus in the first place.
  • The stupid man says: “Let’s have women priests.” No, that just sets up an anti-image of God anti-redemption. Jesus redeems with a marriage, Himself with His BRIDE the Church (as we see throughout all the Scriptures). This is to redeem the image of God in us as at creation: male and female as the image of God in marriage and the family. The image of God is NOT lesbian, nor homosexual.
  • The stupid man says: “Let’s have temporary priests.” No, that’s like a self-serving divorce, the ol’ “Here for the good times, gone for the bad times.” This is about not sticking around as a father of the family. No father =  extreme high risk of bad kids. The stats are insane on that. Check them out. I’ve always seen the same in revolving door parishes where the priests are changed out even multiple times a year, where priests are not pastors, just administrators, just there for the quicky, so to speak, and then gone, leaving their parishes entrenched in clericalized power groups wanting to kill each other. Really, that’s NOT what Jesus wants.

Having said all that, what does Jesus want?

  • Jesus wants a priest after His own Heart, who is humble of heart, who has integrity and honesty, who loves the truth and virtue and goodness and kindness, shunning evil and corruption and wickedness and lies and all manner of darkness.
  • Jesus wants a man who is a tabernacle of the Holy Spirit.
  • Jesus wants a man who will sacrifice himself for his family of faith, not counting the cost, even life.
  • Jesus wants a man who will rejoice to see Him, Jesus, exercising His own ministry of High Priest in the parish, letting Jesus take the lead, no matter what.
  • Jesus wants a man who knows full well and rejoices in the fact that he recites his own wedding vows daily to his Bride the Church as he recites in the first person singular the wedding vows of Jesus to His Bride the Church at the Consecrations at Holy Mass: my body being given for you… in sacrifice, my blood being poured out for you… in sacrifice.

By the way, just to say, if priests would only be who they are supposed to be in being fathers of their parish families, knowing they are married to the Church, encouraging people to go to Confession and doing the same himself, providing for them what Christ Jesus and the Church have always wanted to be provided with Truth and Morality (the splendor of the Truth), there would never have been such an abuse crisis, or financial corruption, or seeking after “power”, or whatever other self-centered rubbish fallen human beings can come up with.

But I’ll tell you this, no liberal jerky-boy Bishop wants to speak of Jesus when it comes to priestly celibacy as that would destroy every bit of liberal agenda they have on any given topic. Destroy priestly celibacy, destroy the Church (as everything about the Sacrifice of Jesus will be ignored. We will have no understanding of marriage, or the redemption of the image of God. Nothing.

And don’t think that procrastination in dealing with already married Anglican clergy or the practice of some in the “Orthodox” churches is that which bears doctrine. It doesn’t.

  • That’s a lot of fallenness to deal with, you say? Sure. What did you expect. This goes to the absolutely heart of our faith, to the Sacred Heart of our Lord Himself.
  • This is about Jesus, so let priests know that they are married to the Church.
  • And, please, don’t be so afraid to share this and similar posts.

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Filed under Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis, Priesthood, Priestly Celibacy, Priestly Celibacy Series, Spiritual life, Vocations

Wherein *The Lion* kills donkey priests

This video and note was sent in by a priest friend:

  • “Happy anniversary, Father! From one donkey priest to another. Along those lines, many spiritual analogies in this video about lions and donkeys. Thank God, we have a Lion on our side too! [Rev. 5:5 Lion > 1 Pt. 5:8 lion.] I will be praying for you this day, that the Lord grant you many more years of fidelity to His Goodness and Kindness.”

Thank you, dearest Father. Likewise. I like the “>” symbol with the nuanced lettering. How kryptic. ;-)

Of course, the only way to conquer Satan is to “stand one’s ground” as did Christ our God, ever so intransigently… on the Cross, being killed off for us, conquering death, rising from the dead and bringing us to life. Running does nothing. But, yes, that’s me all over the place: Run, George! Run!

As the good Father points out with Rev. 5:5, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah being greater than > the demonic lion of 1 Pt. 5:8, our dear Lord will make it a project of His to kill off His priests, so to speak, as it were, so that, dead to ourselves we might live only for Him (see 2 Corinthians 5:15). The Lion and the lion look ever so much the same, but Christ Jesus, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, with all his scars and dripping from blood from the battle on Calvary, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace is the last one standing. He will come to judge the living and the dead and world by fire. We avoid judgment by just letting ourselves be dead to this world so as to live for Him in this world and the next. Amen.

lion of the tribe of judah

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Filed under Donkeys, Priesthood, Vocations

Donkey priesthood! Padre Pio’s Pauses

Father George's ordination 1-4-1992

28 years ago, yours truly, January 4, 1992, ordination to the priesthood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, in a tiny oratory in a town so small that it lost its postal code. Birds singing outside just for those minutes of the actual sacramental ordination and the laying on of hands were almost deafening, as many people remarked at the reception. The other thing people commented on who could see from the oratory choir stalls was that at the formulaic words about the Holy Spirit there couldn’t possibly have been a bigger smile on my face: Jesus has chosen a donkey, crippled and blind and inept on so many levels, a donkey scorned as less than useless, a donkey whom the Lord Himself chose to ride into Jerusalem for His crucifixion, a donkey whose sin also set the occasion by which the Eternal Word now Incarnate of the Father has chosen to stand in our place, the Innocent for the guilty. I would – on my own, without His grace – have chosen hell.

  • “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.” (John 15:16 nab)

Two moments of pause come to mind from Padre Pio’s life, both of them regarding the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Last Supper and Calvary:

  • One moment of pause I’ve written on previously. In exiting the sacristy to the side of the sanctuary for Mass Padre Pio stopped suddenly, looking as if he were to drop in a faint, obviously caught off guard by a most horrific vision. Asked what it was when regained some strength to speak, he said that the Lord had just showed to him the souls of all priests who were about to offer Holy Mass just at that moment and who were unworthy to do so. I count myself among that group since all priests are unworthy, all of us the worst sinners in whatever we have done, be it impatience, sloth, judgmental and uncharitable attitude in word or deed, whatever… including Pope Benedict’s favorite item for an act of contrition, coming from the psalmist:
    • “Who can detect heedless failings? Cleanse me from my unknown faults.” (Psalm 19:13 nab)
  • The other moment of pause of Padre Pio was at the consecrations at Holy Mass. He would take forever, it seems, to continue. In fact, he was specifically reprimanded for this by those sent from the Holy See to reprimand him. This scene is depicted in the great film Miracle Man. He, of course, was incredulous about their concern for his pause after the consecrations, responding: “But this is Jesus…” I have to say that this unworthy priest always wondered about this pause from the time when I was a seminarian until almost today. It’s just that the other day, I think I may have gotten a glimpse of what I should have known as a seminarian, but because I am a bad and evil priest have not averted to all this time. The prayer is addressing God the Father about Jesus, but then, suddenly, at the words of Institution – This is my body… This is my blood… – one is speaking with the words of Jesus in the first person singular. It only strikes me a bit more now that one is speaking to our dearest Heavenly Father about His dearest Son, and then, freakishly unworthily, reciting the words of His Son right in front of Him, the Father, doing this in Persona Christi, in the Person of Christ. Taking that in – Jesus laying down His life for us then and there – and being with Him in such intimate solidarity, watching Him draw all to Himself with such love… and then, feeling some of the unworthiness, but nothing like it truly is lest we die, having to go back to addressing the Father in view of His Son has just done for us, and also because of my sin… How is that ever possible? How can one just move on so quickly? It’s a matter of forcing oneself. Look, I have no idea about Padre Pio and what he experienced. But I think that this might have something to do with it. Perhaps I shouldn’t speak of such things. Anyone else would say they are ineffable, so that either you know it or you don’t. But I think that we must encourage each other. I think that this must be an encouragement. I say that fully realizing that my fellow priests will think of me as the most know nothing priest ever to have lived. How could I have offered 28 years of Masses and counting and not have known all this from the first day? But, of course, it’s not a matter of knowing such things academically – that’s a given – it’s a matter of – how to put it? -being tolerated to be granted the faintest littlest glimpse of the Living Truth, that is, beyond just academic stuff, more personal. I’m at a loss.

Some people are mystified by my favorite animal being a donkey. There are a thousand reasons, all of them better than the other. It started when I won a Palestinian Donkey in a parish raffle at the parish picnic just hours before went off to the seminary for my very first day of formation. Anyway, I think all priests should be guard donkeys:

DONKEY FOX

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Daily Prayer for Priests

O Almighty Eternal God, look upon the face of Thy Christ, and for the love of Him who is the Eternal High Priest, have pity on Thy priests. Remember, O most compassionate God, that they are but weak and frail human beings. Stir up in them the grace of their vocation which is in them by the imposition of the bishop’s hands. Keep them close to Thee, lest the Enemy prevail against them, so that they may never do anything in the slightest degree unworthy of their sublime vocation.

O Jesus, I pray Thee for Thy faithful and fervent priests; for Thy unfaithful and tepid priests; for Thy priests laboring at home or abroad in distant mission fields; for Thy tempted priests; for Thy lonely and desolate priests; for Thy young priests; for Thy aged priests; for Thy sick priests, for Thy dying priests; for the souls of Thy priests in Purgatory.

But above all I commend to Thee the priests dearest to me; the priest who baptized me; the priests who absolved me from my sins; the priests at whose Masses I assisted, and who gave me Thy Body and Blood in Holy Communion; the priests who taught and instructed me, or helped and encouraged me; all the priests to whom I am indebted in any other way, particularly N. O Jesus, keep them all close to Thy Heart, and bless them abundantly in time and in eternity. Amen.

IMPRIMATUR
+Robert C. Morlino, Bishop of Madison, 6 September 2018

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Keep them, I pray Thee, dearest Lord…

purgatory

The first encounter I had with the the following prayer was when a great priest, that is, a real believer, close to Christ our God, gave me a prayer card with this prayer on the back. I was a pre-first year kind-of-discerning seminarian, right after high school.

  • Keep them, I pray Thee, dearest Lord, keep them, for they are Thine – Thy priests whose lives burn out before Thy consecrated shrine.
  • Keep them, for they are in the world, though from the world apart; when earthly pleasures tempt, allure – shelter them in Thy heart.
  • Keep them, and comfort them in hours of loneliness and pain, when all their lives of sacrifice for souls seems but in vain.
  • Keep them, and O remember, Lord, they have no one but Thee, yet they have only human hearts, with human frailty.
  • Keep them as spotless as the Host, that daily they caress; their every thought and word and deed, Deign, dearest Lord, to bless.

Our Father… Hail Mary… Glory Be…

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Update: Extreme Unction / Anointing of the Sick / PoS Priests & gatekeeper MDs

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Seen from out front of the nursing home late Sunday evening, November 24, 2019, after a day of Adoration, Masses, socials, Communion calls, and nursing homes in various towns and beyond. It’s so cool to be able to take Jesus around His beautiful creation to the members of His little flock He loves so much. I am unworthy, just another PoS. But Jesus is so good and kind. I love being a priest for Jesus, with Jesus.

Update: A priest friend on the other side of the Diocese texted me the following. I asked his permission to put it up. He said yes. So here’s his response to my original post below:

“Read your piece about anointing. It sickens me that priests will make excuses about just doing their job. When I get the call, I go. If there’s even the slightest reason to think someone needs anointing, I do it. I throw in the Apostolic Pardon as well if there’s any whiff of danger of death. In my mind, I will be in more trouble at the judgement for the people I didn’t anoint that I should’ve than the people I did anoint that I shouldn’t have.

“I was talking to a (Protestant) hospital chaplain about a training I want to do for the chaplains around here to help them better understand what priests do and what the sacraments are so they can secure better pastoral care, i.e. by communicating with us better. She says on their end the biggest problem is getting priests to show up, which breaks my heart. There is nothing more important when that call comes in, unless I’m in the middle of Mass.”

You have to know, most priests feel this way. I’m also personally upset about this because Jesus has provided that I meet up with priests who are really idiots when it comes to this Sacrament. I myself have a certain malady which can bring death very quickly, or leave you just barely hanging on to life until it passes. It’s hereditary. I got it from mom, who died from it, as to about 1/3 of people who have it, regardless of any would-be emergency room intervention. The priests either refused to give anoint me (sooooo disheartening) or would be cutesy cutesy and make up their own sacramental words, you know, after praying, anointing with words to the effect of “God is nice. Have a nice day.” Then they would run away (just as disheartening).


Original post:

There are excellent, holy, dedicated, good priests, shepherds who wouldn’t hesitate at all to lay down their lives for the sheep in the face of the wolves. I know heaps of those good priests, so very many of them in my diocese. I rejoice. But once in a while one encounters a PoS priest who will do anything not to do the priest thing. My ire is stirred, indignant for the needs of Jesus’ little flock.

Late last night I got a call requesting, later today, a pastoral intervention in another parish that will require from some hundreds of miles of travel. I won’t say what diocese it’s in. It’s about a doctor scheduling an urgent operation for someone who is, as the hours go by, ever more in extremis, at the extremes of this life, death. When a request was made of the parish priest for Anointing of the Sick, the priest said that the policy is that no Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick will be provided to anyone whomsoever who does not trundle off to a doctor to get a note saying that such person is a candidate for the Anointing of the Sick. But that’s what the urgently scheduled operation is all about. So, someone direly sick is to make an arduous mountain journey to the in-town doctor – assuming that such appointments could ever be made – so as to get a note, and then make an appointment with the priest. As if whatever doctor (likely not Catholic and possibly atheist) could make a pastoral decision about a Sacrament of the Catholic Church. And all that could take days, or where I am, weeks, months. Well. Four letter expletives come to mind.

Dear priests, listen up. The doctrine of the Church on this is that if a person has an illness which without intervention could possibly lead a person to death, whenever that might be, such a person is already a candidate for this Sacrament. In other words, don’t hesitate. Provide the Sacrament. Bring Jesus’ little flock encouragement, strengthened in good friendship with Jesus. I mean, y’all do know the spiritual benefits of this Sacrament, don’t you?

If there have been abuses of this Sacrament in the past, so what? Are you holding that against the sheep right in front of you? That doesn’t make sense. So, this isn’t about protecting the Sacrament, is it? No. What is it about? Clericalism of the worst kind? That’s for any priest who has such a malicious and insane policy to answer.

Meanwhile, please God, I’ll be able to take care of member of Jesus’ little flock in some hours. And then I’ll see if that policy in that parish can be changed.

Saint Teresa of Calcutta often said that we don’t need more priests. Not at all. We need good, holy priests who are close to Jesus. That’s what she used to say. I agree. Jesus is calling young men to this end.

But everyone: Go to Confession. Pray for good, holy vocations to the priesthood.


My own personal update: The trip to provide this Sacrament, with Holy Communion, was very successful. The person is now under the knife. Yesterday, when I arrived with Jesus, the person was shedding tears, saying saying that this is proof of just how much Jesus loves us. It is such a joy to be a priest, hanging around Jesus, watching Jesus at work. Truly a great joy and consolation.

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Old time trains, Mother Teresa, Jesus

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

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

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

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

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

From the Vatican website:

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

mother teresa of calcutta

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

 

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

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

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

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

GEORGE DAVID BYERS - COAT OF ARMS - revision

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

I will raise my voice and will not stop imploring him

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

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

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

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

padre-pio-stigmata

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

PADRE PIO SEAL OF CONFESSION

Padre Pio reprimanding the Bishop about the Seal of Confession.

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

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Happy Birthday! Coastal Karnataka)

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Dear Father, Wish you a Happy Feast of the Nativity [of Mary Immaculate, September 8]. Here (coastal Karnataka) a novena is conducted at all parishes in preparation for the feast. And after the Novena all gather around the statue of Infant Mary and shower flowers on the statue while singing a particular hymn. On this occasion all the family members gather and have a festive lunch together only Vegetarian on banana leaves. Attached are some photos and a video. With prayers, Father D

Thank you, Father D. I was unable to put up a flower for Mary for her birthday yesterday. Thanks for allowing me to rejoice with you.

For you, Mary, from your priest sons.

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Charlotte Eucharistic Congress 2019

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There were no politicized banners this year at the Eucharistic Congress. That kind of thing was halted for good. Instead, there were great speakers, lots of devotion, lots of Adoration, lots of Confessions, heaps of activities for all. Every year for 15 years there has been an increase in the size of the crowd that comes. I don’t know what the count is, but this year there seemed to be really a lot more people. Great to see. And people were very devout in reception of Holy Communion, with many going down on their knees on the concrete floor.

At the end of the day, after the closing Mass, just after the Apostolic Benediction with the plenary indulgence, the bishop asked the huge crowd whether or not they would like to see this next year, 2020, dedicated in Charlotte Diocese to Saint Joseph. There was a huge round of applause, so the bishop declared on the spot that this was to be the case. And this announcement was followed by another huge round of applause. I love that. This is such a good diocese.

There was also a lot of catching up with friends, both laity and priests, really good priests. I ate lunch with a group of seminarians, really good seminarians. I’m very impressed with their integrity of doctrine, morality, spirituality, just plain groundedness. They get it. They know who they are in Christ Jesus, that is, those who are in humble thanksgiving before Jesus.

Meanwhile, just in case I myself forgot who I am, I was supplied with two IDs:

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I always knew there were two of me somewhere in the world anyway (and that’s now confirmed by Diplomatic Security. So, Hahaha.

It was the comment of one of the nice ladies in charge taking care of the priestly vestments for the day that the two IDs were a statement about my supposed ability to bilocate. Um… No… Not yet anyway!

Some of the priests were a bit snarkier, saying that the IDs provided me with some rather glorious titles. Um… No… No me. Not ever! Those are the names of the churches of my parish, with Holy Redeemer being the “parish church” and Prince of Peace being the “mission church.”

The trip put well over 400 miles on Sassy the Subaru, often through mountainous cell-phone dead areas. And the phone was off for most of the long weekend, even for emergencies, as it’s not good to have the phone on during Mass, during Confessions, during Adoration, during the Eucharistic Procession in the streets of Charlotte, etc.

So, apologies to those who have phone calls and emails and such awaiting responses. Today’s the day I’ll try to get some things done. It’s just that Friday night I went to bed at 10:30 pm and got up at Midnight to get some things done before leaving for Charlotte at 2:00 am. Then Sunday night I got back to the parish at 1:30 am and got to bed at 2:00 am, only to get up at 4:00 am to get ready for the day. Let’s see:

  • 1:30 am – get back from the Eucharistic Congress (dogs had been fed by the neighbor)
  • 2:00 am – finally get to bed
  • 4:00 am – wake up for the day, with lots to do, including feeding the dogs! I noted that I was actually having knee tremors from lack of sleep at this point. Not good.
  • 5:30 am – travel to the church to set up for Adoration
  • 6:00 am – Adoration and hearing confessions until 7:00 am
  • 7:10 am – rush up to the mission church in Graham county
  • 7:30 am – set up for Mass and Adoration
  • 8:00 am – Adoration and Rosary and hearing Confessions
  • 8:30 am  – Mass
  • 9:45 am – Social in the social hall
  • 10:00 am – rush back to Cherokee County
  • 10:30 am – Confessions
  • 11:00 am – Mass
  • 12:15 pm – Social in the social hall
  • 1:30 pm – Start off on Communion calls for the sick and trips to the nursing homes in a couple of towns, utterly non-stop
  • 6:30 pm – Feed the dogs and start winding down…
  • 7:45 pm – To sleep. That lasted until 5:00 am Monday with prison ministry to begin, as always, after 7:00 am. So… Still alive!

Meanwhile, I love being a priest.

And we need more priests here. To guys thinking they just might have a vocation that needs to be discerned, contact Charlotte Diocese!

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Summary of everything wrong with the Catholic Church in the USA

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I got this as an afterthought, that is, I suppose, as a joke. Someone put me on the mailing list of the AUSCP. It’s already too late for the “Register by March 31” discount. Hahaha.

I guess someone wanted me to see this and put it up on the blog as an example of all that is wrong with the Catholic Church in these USA.

  • I admit: “prayer” is mentioned. I bet that’s in the style of Los Angeles REC.
  • I admit: there is an icon pictured, but I have to wonder if that’s token bait.

Let’s review:

  • AUSCP wrongly says that it speaks for me, a Catholic priest. How arrogant of them.
  • AUSCP wrongly says that it co-promotes with Pope Francis the implementation of the vision and values of Vatican II. But that’s another rant.

What especially caught my eye and what about makes me want to vomit is the insistence of being embraced with “America’s most inclusive place for U.S. priests.” That’s not true. What about Cardinal Burke. And what kind of ultra-nationalist agenda is that, anyway? What about being inclusive of other priests from around the world, you know, like Bishop Athanasius Schneider, like Cardinal Sarah?

But you know what “most inclusive” means, don’t you? Sigh.

Let’s review again:

  • I don’t want their respect. I expect them to be aggravated with me, because I’m actually a Catholic and a priest and a believer, all three at the same time. The life of a Catholic priest is not about receiving condescension. It’s to be all about Jesus. He’s the One. He’s the Only One. No one has spoken about Jesus since what? 1962?
  • I don’t want their support. What does that even mean? A kind of accompaniment? The life of a Catholic priest is not about being served. It’s about being one with Jesus who came to lay down His life as a ransom for many. It’s about Jesus. He’s the One. He’s the Only One. And since Cupich is going to be there, I ask this: Are the thugs threatening Father Kalchik going to be there? Is Father Kalchik invited?
  • I don’t want their comfort. What is that? One better not ask. The life of a Catholic priest is to fulfill the saying of Jesus crucified: “As the Master, so the disciple.”
  • I don’t want their nourishment, the massive banquets that scream it’s all about me! Jesus said, “I thirst.” I would rather eat out of a much more familiar dumpster that eat at those sumptuous banquets.

Where are the followers of Jesus?

Where are the martyrs?

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08 – Priestly Celibacy Series – Eunuch (2)

jesus faces

The ordained priest, who is the instrument of The Priest, Christ Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, Prince of the Most Profound Peace, has charge of the marriage bed shared by Jesus and His Bride, the Church.

Look, I am NOT a follower of slimy interpretations of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. The saint was clear that this is about mercy based on JUSTICE.

The ordained priest, acting in Persona Christi (in the Person of Christ) keeps the bride perfect in purity by his administration of the Sacraments. He prepares the Bride for Christ with Baptism and Confession. In his office as Eunuch, the priest does what the Lord does in preparing, metaphorically, the Bride for marriage. Scripturally, the doctrine proclaimed is as strong as the images provided in, e.g., Ezekiel 16:6-14…

And when I passed by you, and saw you weltering in your blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live, and grow up like a plant of the field.’ And you grew up and became tall and arrived at full maidenhood; your breasts were formed, and your hair had grown; yet you were naked and bare. When I passed by you again and looked upon you, behold, you were at the age for love; and I spread my skirt over you, and covered your nakedness: yea, I plighted my troth to you and entered into a covenant with you, says the Lord GOD, and you became mine. Then I bathed you with water and washed off your blood from you, and anointed you with oil. I clothed you also with embroidered cloth and shod you with leather, I swathed you in fine linen and covered you with silk. And I decked you with ornaments, and put bracelets on your arms, and a chain on your neck. And I put a ring on your nose, and earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown upon your head. Thus you were decked with gold and silver; and your raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and embroidered cloth; you ate fine flour and honey and oil. You grew exceedingly beautiful, and came to regal estate. And your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through the splendor which I had bestowed upon you, says the Lord God.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and Calvary is where the marriage of Christ and His Bride, the Church, is celebrated and, so to speak, consummated, that is, by way of mercy founded on JUSTICE. The priest is ordained to be an alter-Christus, another Christ. But there is only one Christ, one Priest, one Lord, one King, one Bridegroom, in whose Person the ordained priest acts (in Persona Christi). The ordained priest has a priestly character in Christ’s image that is far different from all other Christians’ ‘royal priesthood’.

The celibacy, the chastity, the continence and even perhaps the virginity he can enjoy finds its fulfilment in the charity of this wedding of Jesus and His Bride of which the eunuch priest is officially in charge and in which he participates, being married to the Church by the Sacrifice he offers, by the marriage vows he pronounces in Persona Christi, in the Person of Christ: This is my body — given for you in sacrifice… This is the Chalice of my blood — poured out for you in sacrifice. Total self-giving to the other. The priest is in love with the Church, also his Bride, through, with and in Christ Jesus.

From the Congregation for Clergy:

“Through Him, with Him, and in Him, the priest becomes the servant of mankind. His very being, ontologically assimilated to Christ, constitutes the foundation of being ordained for the service of the community. Total commitment to Christ, aptly effected and witnessed through celibacy, places the priest at the service of all. The marvelous gift of celibacy is clarified by, and draws inspiration from, assimilation to the nuptial gift of the crucified and risen Son of God to a redeemed and renewed mankind.”

Note that this nuptial gift has nothing of the sexual about it, nothing of a pornographically fallen eroticism that is so often effervescently spoken about these days by some few in glowing terms, making the Last Supper and particularly Calvary some sort of sexualized experience even for Christ. That’s the most blasphemous perversion of the Theology of the Body of Saint Pope John Paul II. Blasphemy.

The begetting of children, the primary end of any marriage, is wrought in Christ’s marriage with His Bride, the Church, not by sexual activity, but by way of JUSTICE: He took on the consequence of the guilt we incurred because of original sin, death, which is also the worst we can give out, and is, therefore, exactly what we  deserve in justice… He took this on and, standing in our place, the Innocent for the guilty, He had the right in His own justice to have mercy on us, to tell our Heavenly Father: “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.”

This is how He begets the children of God, usurping the rights of Adam over us, and then the rights of Satan over us. Satan had rights over us because Adam was obedient to Satan instead of God. But the Lord transformed us from being the members of the fallen body of Adam that had been given over to Satan into the members of His Mystical Body. To become the members of His Body is marriage terminology of Saint Paul.

Saint Paul speaks of the Body of Christ, for this we become by way of the Eucharist, coming from the Last Supper and Calvary. These are united by Christ’s usage of the present participles: This is my Body now being given over for you… (eδιδόμενον) This is the Chalice of my Blood now being shed for you (ἐκχυννόμενον).

The priest, in acting in the Person of Christ, pronouncing these words, must himself be at the ready and in fact be laying down his life for his Bride, the Church, all in total self-giving for the other, the height of matrimonial love for the other. Here’s what Saint Paul has in Ephesians 5,22-33 (RSV):

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church; however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Note that the purity of chastity for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven brings with it a lively silence of heart and soul, an openness to listening to the Incarnate Word whom the priest preaches and whom the priest brings upon the altars where the nuptial joys of the Paschal Mystery are celebrated. The ordained priest rejoices by means of His obedience to the Incarnate Word, obedience meaning to be so transformed by that to which one listens that one’s life is conformed to this. The Father speaking the Word into us – that Word which resounds in the ever so lively silence of the chaste heart and soul – so transforms us into another Christ, an alter Christus, that there cannot be loneliness, only purification… and abundant innocent joy, beatitude and goodness.

Perhaps the fact that it is the bridal chamber of Christ’s own marriage with His bride, the Church, by way of His two wedding vows at the Last Supper, as manifested on Calvary — the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass — that is meant for His Apostles, His priests, when He says in the passage about the eunuchs, the keepers of the bed, of the bridal chamber:  He who is able to make room, let him make room. He who is able to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the Bride of Christ in Persona Christ (in the Person of Christ), let him offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

We miss so much of this because of bad translations. When Jesus, in parables, speaks of His Apostles as “wedding guests”, the real translation is “sons of the bridal chamber.” When Jesus speaks of His Apostles as Eunuchs, He actually says that they are to be Keepers of the Bed, that is the wedding of Christ with the Church, which is an exercise of mercy founded on JUSTICE, Jesus on the Cross, which is the Holy Sacrfice of the Mass and the Sacraments which flow from the Sacrifice: Baptism, Confession…

NOBODY BUT NOBODY speaks of these things unless it’s blasphemy on the one hand or just total mayhem of sexual licence on the other.

In all of this, we have forgotten about Jesus. Priestly celibacy is all about Jesus. He came into this world to die. And THAT’s how He married His Bride, the Church. Being a “Eunuch” is all about laying down one’s life for the Church, the Bride of Christ.

By the way, all priests are married. So…

  • Priests should stop whining that they’re not married. Those who do are liars. They are afraid to lay down their lives for the Church. They see no reason to do so. They don’t love the Church. They couldn’t care less. It’s not about the Church for them. It’s only about their own sexual license. Where are the martyrs, you ask? You won’t find any martyrs among the whiners.
  • Laity should stop telling priests condescendingly that they should be married. They already are married. If only they knew it, and we wouldn’t be in such dire straits.

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07 Priestly Celibacy Series – Fulton Sheen

fulton sheen preaching mass

This series on priestly celibacy began with a guest post. That was Ignace de la Potterie, S.J. And now we have another, this time on something noted by the Venerable Fulton J Sheen, this being recalled by a priest friend, a past student of mine, who has far surpassed his teacher in all things. For that, I rejoice.

That priest is presently across the pond. He’s been been distracted by this blog from time to time. He has gone to the point of sending in some Flowers for the Immaculate Conception from the patio-rooftop from which he can see the Vatican. It’s rare for him to make such an intervention. But in following this series on Priestly Celibacy he couldn’t help but rejoice in recalling what the Venerable Sheen had said. Behold:

Dear Father, [I’m always happy to see the spelled out version instead of the abbreviation “Fr.”, and “Father” instead of “Reverend” or “Rev.” Priests need to know they are Father. We need to remind priests of their fatherhood of their parish families. This is all part of priestly celibacy. Don’t use nicknames or merely names with your priests, like “Skippy” or “Jim Bob.” Remind them of their calling, especially if you think they’ve lost the plot.]

A blessed Lent to you! [Lent is about the blessings of deepened friendship with the Lord Jesus.] I have been ever so grateful for your recent celibacy posts. It is refreshing to see faithful, truth-preaching priests amidst the chaos of these days. [Thank Jesus’ good mom for dealing with the awful likes of me.] May my own donkiness* be as simple and humble as yours one day! [Already done, my friend. Already done.]

I also wanted to send along an interesting bit I heard from Ven. Fulton Sheen today. [“heard”… In other words, he’s listening to the shows and retreat conferences and talks given by the Archbishop. I think I wore out all the little cassette tapes of his talks back in the 1980s. Good memories.]

He was talking to priests about celibacy and started with the Old Testament. He said there were only 3 instances when a “temporary celibacy” arose:

[1] before theophanies (e.g. Moses commands this before ascending Sinai);

[2] in wartime (David and his men when they receive the show bread from the priest);

[3] and at the dedication of the Temple.

How applicable these are to us, no?

[1] For as priests we are constantly in the Divine Theophany of the Eucharist and the Sacred Liturgy—[3] we are constantly in the Temple of the Church, and are temples of the Holy Spirit. [2] And if it isn’t clear to all and sundry that we are at constant war as priests, then they haven’t been paying attention! Spiritual warfare, war with the spirit of the world. But we have angels on our side.

Anyway, I know you refer to the good Fulton Sheen every so often, so I wanted to send this along. I look forward to the future posts about “making room” and celibacy. Know of my prayers for you. I will offer Mass for you tomorrow morning. God bless! [I am very humbled by you’re offering Mass for me, dearest Father. Thank you. I shall return the favor in just a few hours, at the parish’s Noon Mass at Holy Redeemer.]

Pax,

Father […]

* Donkeys are always in the midst of the Holy Family, from Nazareth to Bethlehem to Egypt and all the way back to Nazareth and, years later, bringing Jesus into Jerusalem for the Last Supper and His Passion, Death and Resurrection.

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06 – Priestly Celibacy Series – Eunuch (1)

miguel pro martyr

Blessed Miguel Pro as he starts to fall a split second after being shot, immediately after famously saying, “Viva Cristo Rey!”

Of all the posts in this series, the present article – 06 Eunuch (1) – and then the next in the series after this – 07 Eunuch (2) – are by far the most important.

Mt 19,12 – Eunuchs for the sake of Heaven’s Kingdom

(1) For there are eunuchs who have been brought forth from their mother’s womb like this and (2) there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men and (3) there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. He who is able to make room, let him make room.

Eunuch — from the Greek words εὐνη, which means bed, and ἔχειν which means to have [and, in context: have charge of something], is understood to be someone who has [charge of] the bed [that is, for someone else]. “The bed” may very well refer to a large harem of a powerful king. The eunuchs would not dream of touching any of the women of a king like Solomon, even with his three hundred wives and seven hundred concubines (1 Kings 11:3). This kind of misbehavior would mean certain death. To keep them from physical temptation, most eunuchs were castrated by means of even total removal of the genitals… However, this is merely the prudence of whatever king, and has nothing in itself to do with the actual office that is being executed by the eunuch, the keeper of the bed. To be a eunuch and to be castrated are not synonymous. At any rate, eunuchs, not surprisingly, often came to be the most trusted individuals of most any empire. They were often second only to the king in power. Not infrequently, they were more powerful than king or emperor who was only a figurehead for the eunuch who actually ruled the land. The “bed” which is being supervised by the bed-keeper, the eunuch, was often a reference to the political relations of the king. We still hear this as a euphemism for political maneuvering: “So-and-so is in bed with so-and-so.” Eunuchs were so respected, I suppose, because the horrendous barbarism so often inflicted upon them was seen to be some sort of participation in a materially effective redemption, something seen as a correction of the havoc original sin has caused, havoc which is manifest both within individuals and in relations with others. Indeed, the destruction of the image of God in man by original sin wrecks havoc on the impetus for man and woman to come together and procreate. But hacking off genitals is not the way to go for the true redemption of specifically that kind of destruction. Such violence only causes further spiritual and psychological chaos inasmuch as attempted repression of the dreaded devastation caused by original sin can only bring about more frustration. This only makes the individual and all of society much worse.

Having said all that, the word eunuch is by far the richest of all of the terms we’ve seen, and it is the only one used by Jesus Himself in describing those men whom He calls to Himself for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven, though there is a synonymous phrase He uses, which will also be examined briefly further below. Again, Matthew 19:12 reads as follows, with my rather precise translation:

(1) For there are eunuchs who have been brought forth from their mother’s womb like this and (2) there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men and (3) there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. He who is able to make room, let him make room.

The usage of the term eunuch by Jesus admits of three types, the first two have similarities, while the third is unique.

The first, “there are eunuchs who have been brought forth from their mother’s womb,” is a not infrequent correctable congenital defect.

The second, “there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men,” refers to those who not only have the office of eunuch described above, but have also suffered the humiliation of being castrated.

The third type of eunuch, “there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven,” cannot refer to self-castration despite the fact that some of the greatest thinkers, such as Origen († @ 254), have mutilated themselves because of what they thought they saw in this passage (perhaps paying too much attention to the Latin Vulgate translation). The Vulgate at this point changes the phrase to say “castrate themselves” (se ipsos castraverunt). While this has a correct spiritual sense, one must further nuance this rendition by paying more attention to the original Greek!

Those who do something for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven do what they do only with the greatest respect and reverence for God’s economy of salvation. It would be positively anti-evangelical to castrate oneself while saying that this was done for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Thinking one can save oneself from temptation and sin, and also do something positive for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven, and simply because one castrates oneself, is a most gross, crass insult to the saving power of the grace or charity (χάρις – caritas) which Christ granted to us from the Cross.

Being continent, chaste, celibate and possibly even virginal for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven must be wrought in a manner which demonstrates that the establishment of the Kingdom is paramount in our lives, that the transformation in grace of the individual (Ephesians 1:3ff ) who would generously give himself to the Lord (with the generosity provided to Him directly by the Lord) is what has enlivened the individual in the Trinity’s fullness of life.

This does not mean that the carrying of the cross in regard to faith-filled chastity is any kind of burden, a woeful curse, a cruel condemnation to suffer the most useless loneliness – an attitude only those suffering from the most stultified torpidity come up with. That there would be those who would not be open to the radiance of Jesus’ loving union with His Bride, the Church, is here recognized by Jesus with His ever unsurpassed agility in setting the matter straight. He offers this admonition: “He who is able to make room, let him make room.” This is often mistranslated to read: “Let he who can receive this, receive it,” or “Let he who can understand this, understand it,” or some such thing along the lines of “Let him who has ears to listen, listen!” Instead, here, we read about making room. This, take note, is the named office of the eunuch, who is to have care specifically of the bedroom (again: εὐνη, which means bed, and ἔχειν, which means to have [and, in context: have charge of something], is understood to be someone who has [charge of] the bed [that is, for someone else]). One’s vocation to the priesthood depends upon one’s being able “to make room” because of having received that very ability from the Lord. The question then, is, what is “making room”?

Stay tuned for Part II !

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