I know I’ve put this up before, but there are some of you who haven’t seen this two minute video yet. This is from a Christus Rex production. The best two minutes you’ll spend for a long time. We’re always on pilgrimage, but not because we are on the move towards heaven. We can’t get there from here, but He draws us from there. Yikes! The video:
Monthly Archives: December 2012
(Part 5) Sorting out a few more reactions to some of my rather nasty childhood experiences (And: Madonna della Strada?)
- [Part 1 HERE - suffering a failed but violent rape]
- [Part 2 HERE - unwitting stardom in kiddie-porn films]
- [Part 3 HERE - a suggestion]
- [Part 4 HERE- angels!]
- [Part 5 HERE - responding to some comments.]
If you haven’t read at least Parts 1, 2 and 4, the comments and my responses won’t make much sense. So, trundle off to read those. Clicking on the links will open a new tab or window.
O.K. Now then. Here are just a few of comments that came in. [I add my own comments in brackets]:
- Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. Now sharing Pornchai (HERE) and Father Gordon McRae’s stories (ABOUT) makes so much more sense. [You're welcome, but not for the reason you give. If I have any enthusiasm for the heroic nature of Pornchai's coming to know Jesus, this has nothing to do with a been there, done that, identification transference rubbish of failed pop-psychology. Misery does not unite people in friendship. Identification transference rubbish objectifies the other and is another form of abuse. Instead, and take note carefully, any friendship I have with Pornchai is based on a common sharing of thanksgiving to Jesus for the goodness and kindness of Jesus regardless of our circumstances. It is only God-given charity which provides that we are both happy to rejoice in the Lord's goodness in this Mystical Body of Christ in which we live and move and have our being. We don't see our experiences and vomit those on others. Rather, we take note that the good of the other is our good, but that good of the other is Christ Jesus Himself. Sure, Pornchai suffered horrific abuse. But I got away unscathed and was able to take note of the Lord's presence among us from the get go. There's a big difference at the start, but not at the end. Both Pornchai and myself rejoice in the goodness and kindness of Jesus. That shouldn't be reserved to me or anyone else who has been in trying circumstances. Rejoicing that someone knows the Son of the Immaculate Conception is something we can all do, right? That makes sense for everyone, right? For more on this, read over a post in my priestly celibacy series in the sidebar of the blog called "wounded healer idiocy". /// As far as Father Gordon goes -- honestly! -- This priest's priest is suffering from a false accusation. He's heroic beyond anything I could imagine in his great charity. I don't have a high regard for him because I suffered some momentary difficulty, but because he's, again, a priest's priest on the front lines of the battle for souls in this world. Appreciating the work of Father Gordon is not limited to those who have had difficult moments. The friendship I now have with Father Gordon has nothing to do with my own past experiences, but rather in a common rejoicing before the Lord for the Lord's own goodness and kindness and enthusiasm to save as many as possible. You have to know that whenever I see a priest who knows why he is a priest, I rejoice exceedingly.]
- You’re showing by your example that those who think that damaged humans can’t be priests are wrong; my understanding was that active homosexuals couldn’t be priests nor could those who think homosexual behavior is just fine. [Gagghhh! Where do people get these things? Read over Part 1 and Part 4 again. Anyone who is damaged does not have the wherewithal to be a priest. We don't need priests who use others to figure out their own damagedness, do we? Really not. Honestly! That's not to say that those who have suffered whatever trauma can't be guided to a balance in their lives such that they could become priests. Everyone has some growth to do, right? That's also what seminaries are for: Human Formation. Lastly, I never thought of myself as "damaged" from such an experience, at all. Way the other way around. I was totally in humble thanksgiving to our dear Lord and my guardian angel. A sharp learning curve. You betcha! But really, no trauma. The Lord is good. /// I'm really sorry you fly in the face of the practice of the Church by putting into the past tense your once correct understanding that active homosexuals and those who think homosexual behavior is just fine are not to be ordained. The practice of the Church stands. That's what I acted on in the formation I provided to seminarians in the seminaries where I taught. That's what I insisted upon for one seminary in particular, so strongly, in fact, risking my tenure there, that I was successful in changing their policies so as to get them in line with the practice of the Church. Priests must be Father figures in their parish families of faith. At the consecration of Mass, they pronounce, in the Person of Christ, Jesus' own wedding vows for the Church, vows of total self-giving unto death for that Bride which is the Church: This is my body given for you... the chalice of my blood poured out for you. More on all that in the series on priestly celibacy in the sidebar of the blog, especially in the two posts on the word eunuch: HERE and HERE. The last thing we need in the priesthood are those who cannot provide fatherly governance, fatherly self-sacrifice because, instead, they want to fly against the teaching of the Church. All sorts of bad things can happen with a homosexual priesthood. Need I mention 82 percent of the abuse was homosexual? Celibacy is not a natural condition. Something will go wrong with priests if they don't know that they are married to the Church by the very Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that they offer. We need priests who are men! Honestly! At any rate, I can't for the life of me think of what any of that has to do with what I wrote in Part 1 of this series. Does providing advice to someone who is at risk of committing suicide mean that one is homosexual? Gaghh! That's truly incomprehensible. Such an attitude would mean that all homosexuals or those who have been abused in your logic, are to be locked out of all pastoral care, you know, for the sake of appearances, right? That's just so wrong.]
- Although it’s true that a lot of abused become abusers, that isn’t an absolute result. [No, that's not the logic. After revisiting Peri Hermeneias, let's put it this way: Very few of those who were abused become abusers, though lots of those few abusers were themselves abused. Otherwise /begin sarcasm: Let's just kill off all those who have been victims so as to bring the brave new world forward with -- How to call it? -- Moral eugenicide! Hey! There's an idea! /end sarcasm. Talk about a witch hunt. For crying out loud. Wake up and die right!]
* * *
Finally, just to say, does not all this speak about where we are in society? We’re failing each other if this is what lots of people think. We always have hope in our Lord.
Also, in all this, I never once thought of myself as a victim. Why should I?
I never once thought of myself as damaged. Why should I?
On the contrary, I thought of myself as someone who should be in humble thanksgiving to the Lord and to my guardian angel. Does that make me damaged? God forbid!
No, no. Our Lord loves us, and can work with us in this world, and even have us work with Him in this world. He can and does.
Isn’t that really cool? Awesome? Something in which we can rejoice? I think so.
The Lord really is very good and very kind, as my father was always want to point out.
He’s right, you know.
I mean, it has come to mind that atheistic pop-psychos will think that the angel bit I mentioned in Parts 1 and 4 of this series are proof that I somehow went delusional. Piffle. Such an assertion merely comes from a fear that would bring them to the conclusion that: “It’s all real! Even free will! I’m afraid!” There’s no need to be afraid. Did not such an angel shove my face into reality all the more with all the more understanding, with all the more fortitude, with all the more unhesitating service to neighbor? Yep. Doesn’t sound like a distraction to me. On the contrary. Right?
Te Deum Laudamus! The Martyr’s Plenary Indulgence on 31 December. Blood and guts everywhere. Faith flourishing.
Te Deum laudamus: te Dominum confitemur.
Te aeternum Patrem omnis terra veneratur.
Tibi omnes Angeli; tibi caeli et universae Potestates;
Tibi Cherubim et Seraphim incessabili voce proclamant:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Pleni sunt caeli et terra maiestatis gloriae tuae.
Te gloriosus Apostolorum chorus,
Te Prophetarum laudabilis numerus,
Te Martyrum candidatus laudat exercitus.
Te per orbem terrarum sancta confitetur Ecclesia,
Patrem immensae maiestatis:
Venerandum tuum verum et unicum Filium;
Sanctum quoque Paraclitum Spiritum.
Tu Rex gloriae, Christe.
Tu Patris sempiternus es Filius.
Tu ad liberandum suscepturus hominem, non horruisti Virginis uterum.
Tu, devicto mortis aculeo, aperuisti credentibus regna caelorum.
Tu ad dexteram Dei sedes, in gloria Patris.
Iudex crederis esse venturus.
Te ergo quaesumus, tuis famulis subveni: quos pretioso sanguine redemisti.
Aeterna fac cum sanctis tuis in gloria numerari.
V. Salvum fac populum tuum, Domine, et benedic hereditati tuae.
R. Et rege eos, et extolle illos usque in aeternum.
V. Per singulos dies benedicimus te.
R. Et laudamus nomen tuum in saeculum, et in saeculum saeculi.
V. Dignare, Domine, die isto sine peccato nos custodire.
R. Miserere nostri, Domine, miserere nostri.
V. Fiat misericordia tua, Domine, super nos, quemadmodum speravimus in te.
R. In te, Domine, speravi: non confundar in aeternum.
O God, we praise Thee, and acknowledge Thee to be the supreme Lord.
Everlasting Father, all the earth worships Thee.
All the Angels, the heavens and all angelic powers,
All the Cherubim and Seraphim, continuously cry to Thee:
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts!
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of Thy glory.
The glorious choir of the Apostles,
The wonderful company of Prophets,
The white-robed army of Martyrs, praise Thee.
Holy Church throughout the world acknowledges Thee:
The Father of infinite Majesty;
Thy adorable, true and only Son;
Also the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.
O Christ, Thou art the King of glory!
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
When Thou tookest it upon Thyself to deliver man,
Thou didst not disdain the Virgin’s womb.
Having overcome the sting of death, Thou opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all
Thou sitest at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father.
We believe that Thou willst come to be our Judge.
We, therefore, beg Thee to help Thy servants whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy
Let them be numbered with Thy Saints in everlasting glory.
V. Save Thy people, O Lord, and bless Thy inheritance!
R. Govern them, and raise them up forever.
V. Every day we thank Thee.
R. And we praise Thy Name forever, yes, forever and ever.
V. O Lord, deign to keep us from sin this day.
R. Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.
V. Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, for we have hoped in Thee.
R. O Lord, in Thee I have put my trust; let me never be put to shame.
The usual conditions for any plenary indulgence:
- Sacramental confession, within abut 20 days before or after
- Eucharistic communion, preferably on the day, or the days before or after
- Prayer for the intentions of Supreme Pontiff, for instance, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Glory Be
- The will to be detached from even venial sin
The recitation or singing of the Te Deum Laudumus is to be solemnized in a church, chapel or oratory.
Whatever the origin of this hymn, it seems that Saints Ambrose and Augustine were seen exclaiming the verses in alternation from memory. I love that kind of enthusiasm.
I’m hoping my little Holy Souls Hermitage Chapel counts, and that the way I sing this, perhaps quite pitifully, will count as “solemn”!
I’m going to ask our Lord to free the soul of priest in purgatory. Perhaps he will greet me at the gates of heaven and help to welcome me, as I hope, into the eternal habitations, as they are called in the Gospels.
Nota Bene: Don’t think that our Lord is misery in indulging souls with His good graces. He is good and kind. There are many, however, who insist that an indulgence is farcical, that there is no such thing, insisting that the soul has to be virtually enjoying the beatific vision, transformed in grace as much as the Immaculate Conception, before any indulgence would be granted by our Lord, which, by the way, would make the indulgence superfluous, right?
No, no. The will to be detached from even venial sin means that this is one’s intention. It does not mean that one is not weak. Honestly!
So, do an act of charity, offer an indulgence for one of the faithful departed.
Tomorrow, there is another special indulgence. Perhaps offer that for yourself. You can’t offer an indulgence for any other living person.
Anecdote: I know of a seminarian who was thrown out of an international Marian pilgrimage destination because he mentioned that the Stations of the Cross carried a plenary indulgence. Yikes!
Blood and guts everywhere: There are many stories of the martyrs going to their deaths singing the Te Deum Laudamus in thanksgiving for having been given the priviledge to bear witness to our Lord in the most trying of circumstances, which makes that witness, that martyrdom, shine all the more brilliantly.
When we are thankful to our Lord, that thankfulness must include all that which He has has permitted to happen to us which is rather horrific, in the sense that we know that He can and will draw a much greater good out of such events for our good and the good of others.
Thank you, Jesus!
An excerpt from the Mass Page:
Thursday, 20 December, 2012, Holy Mass is offered for Brother F.A., O.F.M., very much alive, at the request of C.W.
Friday, 21 December, 2012, Holy Mass is offered for Father Gordon MacRae, Pornchai Moontri and friends at the New Hampshire State Prison for Men. Motu Proprio.
Saturday, 22 December, 2012, Holy Mass is offered for Father Gordon MacRae, Pornchai Moontri and friends at the New Hampshire State Prison for Men. Motu Proprio.
Sunday, 23 December, 2012, Holy Mass is offered for Father Gordon MacRae, Pornchai Moontri and friends at the New Hampshire State Prison for Men. Motu Proprio.
Monday, 24 December, 2012, Holy Mass is offered for the Servantes des Pauvres at the request of C.W.
Tuesday, 25 December, 2012, Holy Mass is offered for a personal intention. Motu proprio.
[[Tuesday, 25 December, 2012, Holy Mass is offered for in thanksgiving for the intentions of the wonderful benefactors of Holy Souls Hermitage!]]
Tuesday, 25 December, 2012, Holy Mass is offered for the intentions of the Holy Father.
Wednesday, 26 December, 2012, Holy Mass is offered for Father Gordon MacRae, Pornchai Moontri and friends at the New Hampshire State Prison for Men. Motu Proprio.
Thursday, 27 December, 2012, Holy Mass is offered for Father Gordon MacRae, Pornchai Moontri and friends at the New Hampshire State Prison for Men. Motu Proprio.
Friday, 28 December, 2012, Holy Mass is offered for Father Gordon MacRae, Pornchai Moontri and friends at the New Hampshire State Prison for Men. Motu Proprio.
Saturday, 29 December, 2012, Holy Mass is offered for Father Gordon MacRae, Pornchai Moontri and friends at the New Hampshire State Prison for Men. Motu Proprio.
[[Sunday, 30 December, 2012, Holy Mass is offered for in thanksgiving for the intentions of the wonderful benefactors of Holy Souls Hermitage! Motu proprio.]]
[[Monday, 31 December, 2012, Holy Mass is offered for in thanksgiving for the intentions of the wonderful benefactors of Holy Souls Hermitage! Motu proprio.]]
[[Tuesday, 1 January, 2013, Holy Mass is offered in thanksgiving for the intentions of the wonderful benefactors of Holy Souls Hermitage!. Motu Proprio.]]
Wednesday, 2 January through Thursday, 31 January, 2013, Holy Mass is offered for Father B. and the entire Fraternitas Sacerdotalis Sancti Petri as requested by C.W.
[[Friday, 1 February, 2013, Holy Mass is offered for in thanksgiving for the intentions of the wonderful benefactors of Holy Souls Hermitage! Motu proprio.]]
[[Saturday, 2 February, 2013, Holy Mass is offered for in thanksgiving for the intentions of the wonderful benefactors of Holy Souls Hermitage! Motu proprio.]]
[[Sunday, 3 February, 2013, Holy Mass is offered for in thanksgiving for the intentions of the wonderful benefactors of Holy Souls Hermitage! Motu proprio.]]
Monday, 4 February through 28 February, 2013, Holy Mass is offered for Father G.L., very much alive (celebrating his 25th anniversary of ordination), as requested by C.D.
Friday, 1 March, Holy Mass is offered for Bishop R.F., very much alive, as requested by E.F. …
* * *
Also, I pray for ye all daily. I know so very many of you pray for me. Thank you so much.
May the Prince of the Most Profound Peace reign in your hearts and souls and minds all the days of your life and forever in eternity, granting you to do your purgatory here on earth (super-yikes!) so that you may rush, rush, rush… fly into His arms as you straightaway enter into eternity, and all this according to the perfect intercession of the Immaculate Conception, our dear mama.
(Part 4) The fiery love of angels melting the ice of our hearts. It’s normal. Really. It is. More on being raped while the angels come to the rescue.
- [Part 1 HERE - suffering a failed but violent rape]
- [Part 2 HERE - unwitting stardom in kiddie-porn films]
- [Part 3 HERE - a suggestion]
- [Part 4 HERE- angels!]
- [Part 5 HERE - responding to some comments.]
Sorry about the aspect ratio of the picture above. I wanted to get some rays of the ad orientem sunrise shining through one of the Blessed Sacrament angels in the chapel of Holy Souls Hermitage during this octave of Christmas.
There are no aspect ratios with my guardian angel or yours. They are always right in our face according to the gracious will of our Heavenly Father, whose Face they behold now. Yikes!
Angels, while instantly available to carry out the justice of God, which they carry out with a continuous humble reverence before the throne of the Most High, also rejoice exceedingly upon the Lord’s mercy accepted by any wayward charge of theirs. They are totally in awe of Jesus and the wounds he received for us, and still bears on His risen body as signs of great love for us.
The love of the angels is a fiery love, prompt, attentive, entirely solicitous for our welfare, especially our spiritual well being. They have no greater joy than to see us in reverence before God, in humble thanksgiving before Jesus, rejoicing in the charity they see in the friendship of God and the likes of even ourselves, me and… and… you.
But we are slow to believe, or at least to act on our belief, are we not? I wonder if, to the angels, our hearts might seem to be a bit icey, much like this hoar frost smashing its way out of the frozen forest floor, which I saw this morning near the hermitage:
This kind of hoar-frost is extremely brittle, fragile, and will crumble with the very least pressure, much like our hearts. Yikes! They are very patient, of course, these angels. I have an idea that my guardian angel must have been chosen for me as being the most patient of all angels. After all, I’m still alive. Thanks, guardian angel!
The thing is — and this is the point — we shouldn’t be so… so… — should I say it rather frankly? — we shouldn’t be so danged ashamed about getting to know our guardian angels, as if this were a most impossible thing in this family of faith. They weren’t sent to us to remain aloof, to never provide us with encouragement and direction and advice. That would be a faithless indictment of our Heavenly Father and His most tender solicitation for our welfare, right? And we wouldn’t want to be shaking our fists at our dear Heavenly Father, would we? I should think not. So, a bit of advice:
Don’t be fearful of asking your guardian angel for his protection, encouragement, direction and advice.
Don’t be fearful of thanking him really very much for all that you have recognized as coming from him and for all that you are too obtuse to notice. I mean, I know that I am so very much blind when it comes to this. But one’s heart and soul is opened up a bit with requests and with thanksgiving.
Also, the more we take their advice, learning to be instruments of the love and truth of the Most High in the midst of all our terrible weakness, the more we are adept at taking this advice, the more agile of soul and heart and mind, the more ferocious in love of God and love of neighbor. That’s not our fault. That’s God’s fault, and that of our angels. And that’s O.K., right?
Recently, I recounted a rather violent moment of my childhood (Part 1 HERE), in which I made a claim about an intervention of my guardian angel, which wasn’t even so much for me (that too) but for someone else. I included that bit in the story because, well, because that’s what happened. And while I was reprimanded with some feedback on that post, I stand behind what I said. It’s not my fault!
I mean, if God loves us, if our guardian angels are there for us, are they not to be praised and thanked? None of this has any reflection on anyone who takes note of such interventions, which, indeed, are the normal course of affairs in our everyday lives. If we only knew! But we are so blind. And we so romanticize anything to do with angels as that which is fantastic, from fairytale land, indeed, as that which is an escape from reality, an opiate for the undiscerning masses, too incredible to really take place.
But our angels see reality, God, in the Face. Don’t offend the angels. They don’t take kindly to that. Indeed, they cannot forgive (Exodus 23,20-21):
20 “See, I am sending an angel before you, to guard you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared. 21Be attentive to him and heed his voice. Do not rebel against him, for he will not forgive your sin. My authority resides in him.
The angels can rejoice in our Lord’s forgiveness of us. And that’s totally cool. But don’t be presumptuous of our Lord’s forgiveness in this regard either. They reflect His love for us. We don’t want to mock our Lord’s love for us, do we? God will not be mocked.
Look at it this way. If as a little kid, in a very trying circumstance, in which another little kid’s life had to be saved, I got a bit of advice from my guardian angel, in a rather forceful way, that doesn’t mean that I was holy or anything like that, not at all. Rather, I must have been so very incredibly obtuse and lacking in all agility of soul and mind that I had to be rather impressed upon in order to see what I was supposed to do. Get it? I was a jerk. That’s why that happened that way.
There are others who took the direction of angels, one being the great Joan of Arc. But she was a saint not because she heard or even followed what Saint Michael had to tell her. She herself learned to be a great saint because she responded to the love of God. Just getting smacked down by one’s angel has nothing to do with holiness. Mind you, it is a great gift to be so smacked down. That kind of sets things right. And for that we can thank our angels.
Indeed, it belongs to the patience of an angel to smack us down should this be what it takes for us to take notice of that which they were sent to let us know. Such patience! Ouch!
Hah! Angels are totally cool. Thank yours right now: “Um… Thanks, guardian angel!”
There. Made you do it. You were talking to an angel. Pretty cool, huh?
Just make sure to do it more often.
I have some very benevolent HSH readers deep within google on their coffee breaks. Great!
But, avoiding the rest of the internet, they “tunneled” directly into my Holy Souls Hermitage WordPress blog to leave a comment. That comment was very kind and thoughtful. But they would make ANONYMOUS envious. So, my question is, GOT PRAYER? (hah!)
I have a film of Pornchai’s graduation. I’d like to put it up in a post. I don’t know how to convert this mess of files into an acceptable upload to, say, YouTube:
The video files are separated from the sound files.
Great news for our priests from Opus Bono Sacerdotii — This is A FIRST for our priests in ten full years
This is the first time in our ten years of existence that we were able to provide for all the priests who asked for our financial assistance during the month of December!
I want to thank you from all the priests and staff of Opus Bono for your prayers and support.
[... snip!... Pete then mentions THIS...]
Finally, the priests of St. Rose of Lima parish in Newtown, CT where the shootings occurred desperately need our prayers. Tabitha, the sister to Father Luke Suarez at St. Rose of Lima asked that we forward to you the need for prayers for her brother Father Luke, Father Ignacio Ortigas, Monsignor Weiss who are tirelessly working over these past two weeks with the aftermath of the tragedy. Many of their parishioners were involved and lost their children.Sincerely in the Heart of the Infant,
[You heard the man. Add Father Luke, Father Ignacio Ortigas and Monsignor Weiss to your prayer list. Hail Mary...]
[Also, check out the great Opus Bono Sacerdotii site. Make it your project month by month to keep this going.]
Ahem… Because of my father flying corsairs and such in Guam, the Philippines, Japan, China and Korea and training the guys in D.C. and Chicago afterward, I have a predilection for the USMC.
My response to this little video, sent in by a certain Master Sarge, and which has been making the rounds perhaps since YouTube started, is that the U.S. Army, which produced this little jab against the Marines, is a response which shouldn’t even have to be voiced. But I will…
Only the Army would have time to produce such a thing. The Army mans the phones, which is an indictment. Hah!
It’s always interesting to see what people hold as their “hits” and “misses” for any given year.
You can see Father Gordon MacRae’s very interesting list by clicking on the picture above.
Just to say, I don’t even know what Downton Abbey is.
Just to say, at the bottom of his article, you’ll see an invitation to thank Vincenzo.
One of my hits this year is to have come to know Father Gordon and Pornchai.
One of my misses this year is so nefarious that I can’t even voice it. Yikes! Anyway…
Have you even thought of hits and misses?
It’s a good exercise for thanksgiving in whatever way.
(Part 3) Father George David Byers reminisces about his own childhood rape experiences and stardom in kiddie-porn films. The full stories without the details. Just insights and inspiration. Thank you, Jesus!
- [Part 1 HERE - suffering a failed but violent rape]
- [Part 2 HERE - unwitting stardom in kiddie-porn films]
- [Part 3 HERE - a suggestion]
- [Part 4 HERE- angels!]
- [Part 5 HERE - responding to some comments.]
I’ve gotten an entire spectrum of feedback via email regarding Parts 1 and 2. What is said seems to reflect that person’s own history. Interesting, no?
In this article, Part 3 of this series, I’d like to offer a bit of a challenge regarding the kiddie-porn films I described in Part 2.
Perhaps a reader or two might know a friend of friend of a friend who presently works in the FBI, someone specializing in child porn, someone having present access to data bases, someone who isn’t so old that he would have been paid to keep his mouth shut back in the 1960s and 197os about what was happening in North Junior High School of Saint Cloud, Minnesota. (Perhaps South Junior High as well, though I don’t have personal experience with that school). All you have to do is pass on the links to these posts. Don’t think anything will appear in the papers for a year or two. It takes time to follow up what an investigation brings. When you take your time, you always get more, much more. I’d like bring down as many nefarious characters as possible.
I could be wrong, but I remember the filming g0ing on for so many years seemingly without fear of recrimination that it may be that any number of people were paid to keep their mouths shut, both in the school and among those involved in various levels of law enforcement. But time has gone by, right? Perhaps something can be done. Perhaps some unsolved cases of children gone missing at the time can be solved. Don’t forget the seemingly mafioso fellow I described at the beginning of that Part 2, who picked me up as he was cruising for kids walking home from swimming. Perhaps those responsible can be found and dealt with by the judicial system. Even if the Mafia is involved, as they always are for this kind of thing, at least later if not sooner, they are not above the judicial system, are they?
But what can be done? It’s so long ago! Well, just sort out the multitude of gym teachers in those years and do some investigation. Easy peasy.
- Thanks go to R.T.G. & J.A.G. for their gift to the hermitage, saying: “We know thou dost protest against any and all solicitations… however, ‘Me thinks, the Hermit dost protest too much.” /// Hmm… No I will have to shout and scream all the more, let it be thought that I am, in fact, soliciting donations, which I’m not, because I can’t. Hah! /// Thanks also so much for having me included at the Christmas Mass at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament!
- Thanks go to G.P.E. & S.M.E. for their regular gift to the hermitage. Very kind.
- Thanks go to P.M., for her gift to the hermitage. Thank you!
- Thanks go to Charlene, Godmother of Pornchai, who sent in the video of his graduation. Now, I will have to figure out how to convert that to a format that can be uploaded to the blog. I’ll put up another post about that, with some particulars of the file names. Yikes!
- Thanks go to J.M.D. for her gift to the hermitage, and for her support of PGJ! Very cool, that.
- Thanks go to C.T., for kindly including me in the Marytown Christmas of Masses running until January 2nd. I am very grateful. Thank you.
- Thanks to anonymous, who has sent in Laudamus Te for Christmastide from Magnificat Press. Very thoughtful!
- Thanks go to… I dunno… Anonymous… who sent in this book by Father Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R., with its preface by Cardinal Timothy Dolan:
- Thanks go to… anonymous… (surely not THE ”Anonymous”) for two Poor Clares T-Shirts from the wishlist. The purchase of these T-Shirts helps them build their new monastery not far from Holy Souls Mountain, which is also where the new diocesan seminary will be. Totally awesome! Here’s a link to their website page which includes two videos on the progress their making: HERE.
- Thanks go to C.D. for the book on deaconesses. This reminds me of the class on priesthood which I taught to the seminarians at the Pontifcal College Josephinum a couple years back. I must say that quite a few of them were very well prepared, knowing all the authors. I haven’t yet read this work, but it is high on the list. Thanks for that.
- Thanks go to C.W. for the Mystic Monk Hermit’s Bold Blend coffee. All hermits are BOLD, right? Hah! Very thoughtful.
UPDATE: Thanks go to J.W.M for his gift to the hermitage, against all my protestations! Thank you!
May the Prince of the Most Profound Peace continue to bless you all according to the perfect intercession of His Immaculate Mother.
(Part 2) Father George David Byers reminisces about his own childhood rape experiences and stardom in kiddie-porn films. The full stories without the details. Just insights and inspiration. Thank you, Jesus!
- [Part 1 HERE - suffering a failed but violent rape]
- [Part 2 HERE - unwitting stardom in kiddie-porn films]
- [Part 3 HERE - a suggestion]
- [Part 4 HERE- angels!]
- [Part 5 HERE - responding to some comments.]
~ Being stalked as a seven-year old ~
The following Winter, when I was still seven years old, I had made a habit of going swimming at the local Junior High School. The pool was opened up to younger kids like myself at night. It was a pretty good hike to get there, three miles. Bikes were impossible on the ice and snow at night. I know. I tried many times. It’s a good extreme sport, but it really was faster just walking. No one from my neighborhood wanted to brave the hike, but there were plenty of kids to meet there. The trip was worth it for someone who could swim like a fish, and I was just such a one. I think I once did five lengths of the pool underwater without once coming up for breath. I was a bit of a show-off, looking for some competition in this way. Competition, if it’s just for the sheer idiocy of it, is always hilarious to those involved, and is its own reward. I found out that half-crippled legs didn’t matter so much in the water.
Also, I was used to the cold enough to know that when it’s way below zero and one’s hair is still wet, the walk home will be cold only at the beginning. Wet hair freezes into a helmet as hard as rock, keeping one’s body heat insulated. I would let my hair freeze for a minute or so, and then put my hat on over that. Only I would do that, of course. But one has to know how to survive!
On my way home from a great swim, but on a particularly cold night, way below zero on the Fahrenheit scale, a very expensive black Cadillac Limousine started following me at my walking pace, about forty feet back. At the time, the sidewalk was set back from the road about twenty feet, and was protected by great drifts of snow piled up by the city’s snow plows. But this fellow knew what he was doing, for I was just at a point where the sidewalk ended in front of a deep, culverted ditch that was being filled in with construction rubble, and so was packed with jagged metal and unstable blocks of cement that poked through the snow and ice in small hills. I had to walk out on the road, right where he would be able to grab me. Back in the day, there were no houses in any direction for about a half a mile along that stretch of road. The field next to me, blanketed with about three feet of snow, stretched all the way to a forest, also about three miles away. It was pitch dark. I thought I was dead for sure.
But, if you can’t run, you can fight, even if you are only seven years old, as I had learned some months previously. I was braver than I was smart. I turned and walked straight to the car and, when offered a ride – just as I thought – I took it. This seemed stupid even to me, but it also seemed like the only option. I thought I was going to end up in the car one way or the other, but if I took the initiative, the psychological dynamics were such that I could have the upper hand, at least for a while, until I figured out a definitive escape. What a stupid seven-year old! But I was filled with adrenaline once again. And I had not forgotten the bit [mentioned in an earlier part of the autobiography] about letting people hang themselves if that’s what they wanted to do. I learned later on what our Lord did with Judas.
This fellow in the Cadillac Limousine was in his fifties and filthy rich and, as I say, he knew his business. Today I would conjecture that he was in the mafia. More kids disappear from the streets of Minnesota (where I grew up), getting sucked into the sex industry, than from any other state in the Union. At any rate, this fellow interrogated me about exactly where I lived in town and then what my name was. When he heard the name, he asked me to repeat it, again and again. I told him, and said that my dad had been the mayor of the city (of 48,000 people at the time) and was now an attorney at law, and in the State Legislature, heading up the biggest law firm in central Minnesota. I also mentioned my uncle by name, since he was the chief emergency responder in the city. At that point he stopped the car abruptly. As he pushed me out, I mocked him with a sing-song voice, saying he could meet my dad if he wanted to drive me the rest of the way. That wasn’t very intelligent on my part, but he sped away, thank God. I tried to get the license plate number, but it was too dark. I wonder how many youngsters’ lives he had destroyed and was still destroying. I wonder if my ever so troubled friend had been a victim of his. I told my parents right away, and my dad got on the phone immediately. I can only think that this fellow was run out of town for a while, but, in those days, I suppose, only that.
~ My stardom in kiddie-porn films ~
That swimming pool at the local public Junior High School would be a source of trouble time and again. A couple of years later, the older neighborhood kids were saying that swimming trunks were not allowed by the gym teacher. Everyone had to swim, and swim naked, saying that this had already been going on for some years. Many schools were starting to do this I was told, so no adult questioned it in what was now a Woodstock society. But don’t be fooled, all the kids hated it, at least at the beginning. They thought that the instructor was going after the boys. But I thought that I could handle myself, and there was no question that I had to go to school, and to that particular school. When the time came, I did go.
What I found, at twelve years of age, was that the teacher’s office, with its large bay window overlooking the locker room, was always jam-packed with naked boys, whom he seemed to be totally ignoring. But then I saw a very expensive movie camera – very professional looking – set up on a large tripod facing the bay window from the locker room, with its on-air light lit up. He was filming the whole thing. The boys, so eager to be around him, were part of a “secret club” that – as one boy told me as if I were entirely stupid – could only be opened up to membership by the gym teacher himself.
Poor kids. They fell for what they thought was the excitement of immodesty and the sense of belonging to a group. I was disgusted by the kind of spirit that seemed to have blinded them to all but a tiny set of arrogant, self-centered emotions, which were lit up so brightly in them that they were blind to everything else, having no agility of spirit whatsoever. They were like deer willingly mesmerized by their own headlights, being shot down by an unscrupulous predator.
I knew that something was terribly wrong with all this, and was taken aback by the very public nature of it. It was the old trick of flaunting it like its normal so that people will think that it is normal. It worked in society then just as it does today. Some of the kids didn’t fall for it. Neither did I. But what could a little kid do back in those days, so very different from today?
I could try to avoid that camera. But the cameras were everywhere. There were more cameras throughout the locker room, with heavy cables all over the floor. There were cameras in the open room showers, and out in the pool area. There were very large movie cameras up in the empty swim-meet bleachers above the pool, lights blinking away, another in an open storage room at the end of the pool next to the locker room door, and, it seems, below, inside the underwater window at the deep end of the pool. A mafia operation with the school being paid off to turn a blind eye? I think so.
The gym teacher made everyone march around naked, sit in certain areas facing certain ways, sit in groups on the diving board, dive from the board in certain ways, and so on, like scripted scenes that would fit some sort of porno story. He even had us swim to the bottom of the deep end of the pool two at a time in order to fetch a block of heavy rubber matting, asking us to fight for it underwater.
He must have taken thousands of reels of film over the years that this continued, from the mid-1960s into the mid-1970s. I can only guess that this was a fraction of the operation, another part of which was surely the “secret club” of the gym teacher’s naked boys. I can only guess that the fellow with the Cadillac Limousine was financing all this. I can only guess that these films are still circulating among pedophiles until this very day throughout the United States and around the world, surely in super-8, still photos, VHS, DVD and now a multitude of internet formats.
I had been prostituting myself and didn’t even know it. I was a kiddy-porno star and surely I still am so today, but it only hit home when it was too late. When you’re a kid, it really is hard to imagine the immense evil of some adults. Sure, I saw the cameras. Yes, I knew they were rolling. So did everyone else. But I just could not imagine for what reason. It just didn’t make any sense. None of us could fathom the depths of the evil at hand, and so mindlessly went along with it. I had told my parents about it. I think my dad tried to do something. But the power behind this operation seemed to be beyond anything he could do anything about. I have to wonder just how many people in law enforcement were also being paid off.
There was some grumbling among the boys, but only one bit of real, though only momentary rebellion. The occasion for this was one boy being singled out. I felt so sorry for him, and angry and confused right along with him, as did we all. He was made to climb up an inordinately tall life-guard chair and stand there, naked, standing, the gym teacher insisted, with his hands to the side. This boy noticed the cameras up in the bleachers, and mentioned them, pointing to them. You could see the scars of hatred being seared into his heart, as if someone was dragging a dagger right through his chest, deeply, right through his very soul. Overwhelmed, he threatened to jump from the chair so that his head would hit the tile edge of the pool, breaking his neck, smashing his skull open, killing himself. “No! Don’t do it!” we said, almost inaudibly. “No!” We just couldn’t believe what we were witnessing. We almost lost our voices. He didn’t jump, thanks be to God.
With that, the “game” was over for the day, even though there was still some twenty minutes left for this “class” in the school schedule. The gym teacher knew that if he didn’t let us go now, he himself was going to pay a heavy price. He let the boy climb down. I don’t know how the boy didn’t fall while climbing down, so much was he shaking with anger.
There was a big difference, thought I, between this gym teacher/kiddy-porno-film director, and my friend with the switch blade in the previous chapter, though both may have had similar histories. I want to think my friend had remained with a shred of hope in his soul, even in his darkest moments, a hope which manifests the power of the grace of God in the midst of the hell some live through on this earth. The porno director, instead, had chosen not to have any hope. It is how low the human soul can sink.
~ Almost raped, but then he committed suicide ~
Some years later, now the Summer before entering my sophomore year in what was already my second high school (we had moved), I was in a sauna with a couple of students of the same school, older than myself, with whom I had been swimming at the University’s new athletics building. One of them all of a sudden got aggressive and was getting ready to do the rape thing on me, saying that I needed to be “initiated” into my new school, but his friend, horrified, screamed at him and stopped him.
Poor kid. He was killed in what was reported officially as an accident the next Summer in an equally untoward circumstance. People conjectured that he might have taken his own life. They should know. He had done what he did right in front of them.
People suffer in hidden agony, trying to draw others, for self-comfort, into their misery, sometimes with great alacrity and niceness, sometimes with violence and aggression, almost always, if young like this, in an effort to make sense of the hell they are living in. He was one of the most popular kids in that entire region. All that those who suffer need to know is that any misery, however hidden by popularity, can be understood and thus sorted out by letting Christ into one’s life. He’s always with us. Always. We need but look up. And speak to Him.
The stats are now – what? – one in thirteen kids attempting suicide in the United States? Yep. That’s skyrocketed proportionate to the sexualization of kids from pre-school onwards, right?
The following Spring there was a man in perhaps his late forties or early fifties who had been stalking me for some months. You have to understand that this was all perfectly legal back in the day. No longer, thank God. Now that we had moved out into the country, with rolling hills and forests and dirt roads and long stretches between houses, this kind of thing could easily happen. If I would be walking in the forest, there he would be. If I would be walking along the road, there he would be. He had attacked a neighbor boy (a few miles away through the woods) a couple of years earlier, dragging him off his horse right on the front lawn of the boy’s own house. The police were called but nothing much came of it.
I was wary. He was a real predator. For the umpteenth time, he was now trailing me along a dirt road cutting through the forest. He was driving an unbelievably filthy red pickup truck only as fast as I would walk. If I stopped, he stopped. If I ran, he sped up. I hoped he didn’t have a gun.
I was really getting sick of these shenanigans. I had already evaded him many times by running into the woods, almost literally flying around trees, down ravines, across swamps and creeks. But every time I did this I would be covered with a severe rash of poison ivy, which was pretty much everywhere in central Minnesota. That might not sound so bad, but I really suffered from it, with whole patches of skin falling off, oozing with clear yellow liquid. And besides, running on the wings of the wind with my somewhat crippled legs didn’t help my mobility for quite a while after any such escape. So this running was just no longer an option for me. I had to end this, right here, right now.
I figured I could just beat him unconscious with my bare fists if I had to, leaving him to be found by the police. As in years gone by with the Cadillac Limousine stalker, I turned and walked straight to the truck. Stupidly, I figured I was getting good at this kind of thing. The first thing I did was taunt him to run me over. I knew I could easily jump out of the way. Things could then turn ugly, but I was again filled with adrenaline. I really was very sarcastic.
When he offered me a ride – as I had suspected – I jumped in and he immediately started driving just a bit faster than I could run, making jumping out quite dangerous. His driving slowly was a thousand times more annoying than my being followed. What a horrifically filthy vehicle. I tried in any number of ways to interrogate him as to why he was always following me, but he never said a word. But then I gave him what was perhaps the lecture and reprimand of his life. But then my mind was racing as to what to do when we came up to where my house was another mile down the road. Would he stop? Would I jump, regardless of consequences? To my surprise, and dismay, he turned up the long drive. This could get nasty, thought I. We had guns at home. I knew how to use them.
As soon as we arrived I got out, but so did he. I continued lecturing him, and told him to leave. He didn’t answer. He refused to go. I went into our garage. But he wasn’t going anywhere, not for five minutes, not for ten. What was he plotting? I had a family to protect. I should have called the police, but we lived way, way out in the middle of nowhere. And stalking was not illegal. And I had accepted a ride. Right? I’m so stupid.
So, instead, I got our trusty Remington .22 and brought it outside, filling the rifle with plenty of bullets in plain view, inviting him to leave and never come back. He wouldn’t go. Just as I was raising the rifle to shoot the gas tank of his pickup truck for as many times as it took to make it explode, my mom called me in. Rats! Ever obedient, I went in. Her presence, after all, put him off. Just when I was starting to have a bit of fun. After that, I never saw him again. That was smart on his part. Yet, I still regret not having pulled the trigger a few times. Sometimes people need to be woken up. And it would have been cool to watch a vehicle blow up.
Now, having said all that, I actually didn’t want to hurt him if I could help it. I had met enough hurting people in my life to know that he might well have suicide on his mind. Indeed, I think that this was his bid to commit suicide, you know, like someone who aims a plastic water pistol, though realistic looking, at police officers, threatening them, charging them, aiming at them with obvious intent to kill, only to get shot to death, just like they wanted.
I told my father about all this, and his response surprised me somewhat, but what he said was good advice. The sum total of his remarks was this: “Pray for him.” He said this with a bit of sternness. It was not a suggestion, but a command. My father, you have to understand, knew something of the power of prayer. O.K., so… Our Father, who art in heaven…
I think that if victims of sexual abuse would pray for their abusers, there would be a great deal of healing going on, at least for the victims, whose act of charity would bring them the blessing of no longer being controlled by any emotional scarring that whatever abuser left behind. Just a thought.
~ Some concluding remarks ~
I suppose I could recount another hundred stories just like these, all so very different, some with boys and girls my age, some with people who were middle-aged, but all these stories, however diverse, are all so very much the same. But perhaps I should add a “Part 3″ for the blog, but I think that these are enough for you to get the idea. As I write this, any number of stories, some quite wild, come to mind. What a distraction! Gagh! I’m sure our Lord had something in mind for each and every one of these experiences, both for my good and the good of others, both at that time and forever after that.
I can’t help but thank my guardian angel for giving me the wherewithal to know what to do in such situations. I was escaping one drama after the next and at the same time learning so much about the fallen human condition and how the Lord, nevertheless, wants us for Himself. My guardian angel was guarding a sense of the greatness possible to the human soul within my own soul. There is hope. God loves us. I know He loved me. He loved everyone. I wanted to see His love in others. I wanted to see the greatness possible to the human soul in this way in everyone I met.
Faithfulness in His friendship is always the way. Later, as a priest, I was to see the Lord’s love in others from up close, seeing the greatness possible to the human soul, especially when I would impart the absolution during their confessions. The Lord is so good to people in confession, bringing them back to Himself. What great dignity people have in their friendship with the Lord. I can’t think of anything more noble than someone making their confession, even of the very worst of sins. Look at how they are being carried along by the Lord’s grace! The Lord’s work in the Sacraments brings light into the darkness. I thank God that I’ve witnessed His work among those He brings to Himself. He is so good, so kind.
Just to say, it was my father, who, as a kind of last will and testament, insisted with me so very many times during the last years of his life, saying, “Goodness and kindness, George, goodness and kindness!” I like that. That’s why I repeat it all the time. It’s not worthwhile living any other way, no matter what happens. The only way is the goodness and kindness of Jesus. And yet, as we know with our Lord’s exclamation…
(Part 1) Father George David Byers reminisces about his own childhood rape experiences and stardom in kiddie-porn films. The full stories without the details. Just insights and inspiration. Thank you, Jesus!
- [Part 1 HERE - suffering a failed but violent rape]
- [Part 2 HERE - unwitting stardom in kiddie-porn films]
- [Part 3 HERE - a suggestion]
- [Part 4 HERE- angels!]
- [Part 5 HERE - responding to some comments.]
~ Introduction ~
So, what’s the point of rehashing such things as any abuse one might have suffered in the distant past? Well, I think many people are hurting or are simply unaware of how people can suffer, and how our Lord will intervene in such horrific circumstances. Some words of encouragement about the Lord’s goodness and kindness are in order.
This is a rough draft of what are now chapters six (Part 1) and seven (Part 2) of the autobiography. What a fright. But don’t worry. There is no provision of untoward details. I believe that untoward accounts are no more than a ludicrous invitation to voyeurism for would-be readers and a prolongation of the abuse for the victims. One can still get across the full story without descending into that which does no service to anyone except the Evil One. So, instead of all that, again, I hope you will be encouraged to rejoice in the goodness and kindness of Jesus by way of what I will relate here.
I’ve hesitated to include these chapters in the autobiography, since the mindless “they say” crowd have it that they say that the one who has any experience at all with having been abused is surely, absolutely, beyond any doubt, certainly to become an abuser himself. That kind of pop-psychology approach would therefore endanger the exercise of my priesthood, would it not, what with such fear of priests being abusers (even though it is a demographic fact that Catholic priests today are by far, indeed, altogether incomparably the least likely group to abuse)?
I’ve never hesitated to say what I think before, so why start now? Because of fear of so-called victim-advocates who merely condemn victims as likely abusers. Pah! It is to laugh! One only needs a bit of common sense. More on that just below.
Now, just to say, the attitude of psychological determinism championed by the Brits and Aussies with the statement of someone being “damaged” and therefore a risk to others, is rather suffocating of anyone who would like to come forward with statements of abuse, right? Is that the message one wants to provide? Really? This would be further abuse. Kick the victim while he’s down! Damn that victim! Right? Such pundits, who are trying to sell you something, might want to get to know the Great Pornchai Moontri: HERE, just to get you started. Pornchai never got to tell his story in court because such attitudes made his testimony apparently irrelevant or worse. A little bit ironic, no? I think that those who make generalized condemnation of victims are either guilty of committing abuse (Hey! There’s a thought!) or are afraid to point out the abuse to which they were subjected (Sadly), or are just incredibly arrogant, as an escape from something about themselves.
Having said that, well, of course, some of those who have been abused are indeed at some risk of becoming abusers in an attempt to figure out by first hand experience from the other side of what happened to them when they were youngsters. Sure. But this is reversed with a heavy dose of common sense.
Just to say, the ones who are especially open to noticing common sense are those who remain open to an intervention of the Most High in one’s life (which is common sense), so that one is not figuring out life by mind-games (as the “they say” crowd demand), but by way of Him who is reality. Our Lord is always but always shaking us up to take note of His magnificent interventions. We can be expert at ignoring those interventions. But He keeps working on us. It’s imperative to know how to look to the Lord.
Dawn Eden, who found out how to look to the Lord, has done a magnificent job with her book on the healing of sexual abuse with the examples of the saints. Also, if you haven’t already done so (where’ve you been?!), read over her absolutely delightful Master’s Thesis defended at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. That eminently enjoyable thesis provides a hermeneutic of continuity for John Paul’s Theology of the Body over against its lewd and blasphemous interpreters. You can find links for all these things at another post on this blog: HERE.
Another voice of reason in all this is that of Father Gordon MacRae (ABOUT) over at These Stone Walls: HERE. If you don’t know Father Gordon yet, you don’t yet understand what is happening in our culture and the Catholic Church in America.
Now, as it happens – thanks be to God – in my own case, I noticed quite immediately the gracious interventions of the Lord when I was suffering a bit of abuse, as you’ll see.
Such experiences with the Lord’s kind and gracious interventions, have, of course, had an effect on the way I perceive things, that is, for the better, for I am quite adept at seeing, for instance, the abuse inherent in some so-called child-protection-programs which shove even pre-kindergarteners’ faces into graphic sex education programs as a way to pretend that a bishop can therefore make the claim that he’s “done something” to protect youngsters by thus attempting to make little children legally responsible to protect themselves by raping their young minds with such images. Just an illogicity there, or two or three, don’t you think? How sad. At any rate…
Such experiences have also prepared me to see more clearly the real motivation of some so-called abuse-victim advocacy groups such as SNAP and TNCRRG which has little to do with advocacy. See, for some of this, A Ram In The Thicket blog, especially HERE and HERE.
This has also brought me to spend time in supporting due process for the accused, which ultimately protects the voice of real victims. Instead of “You’re guilty and you can’t prove yourself innocent,” it’s to be “You’re presumed innocent until you’re proven guilty,” with the emphasis on “proven”. For more on that, see the rather ferocious series on The Judas Crisis in the sidebar of the blog: HERE, especially this post, HERE.
Despite all that, there will always be the super-self-righteous who, in reading this article, will hold me in disdain, dirty, uncouth, unclean, unworthy, the scum of the earth. Whatever. May the Lord forgive them.
At any rate, our Lord uses all our experiences for the good – including being condemned by idiots – if we but go along with Him. Here are some of my experiences. Let’s start with a failed, but especially violent rape at just seven years old.
By the way, none of what is recounted here is the result of farcical recovered memories. It’s all instant recall here, like it just happened. No nightmares, ever; no trauma; just a steep learning curve at the time, and reflection on all this later, now and again.
~~~ O.K. LET’S BEGIN WITH THE REMINISCING ~~~
~ A failed, but especially violent rape ~
However knocked about I have been in my life, however stupid I have been, I have never lost sight of the greatness to which each individual of whatever age or circumstance is called. Each child bears within himself, within herself, an entire universe of wonder and greatness, and more, so much more, needing to be filled to bursting with the indwelling of the Most Holy Trinity, being able to rejoice in all humble thanksgiving in the enthusiastic friendship of Jesus with them.
Children are bearers of the weight of the glory of God, called to love with God’s love, with that love I first knew consciously at two and half years old when I received my vocation to the priesthood. It is this love – greater than all the heavens and earth, a sovereign, personal love – which gave me hope, which gives me hope, for myself, for others. God is so good and so kind, however much people can otherwise be just so very evil. It is such a crime to shatter innocence.
And if I myself had not been destroyed, I did see much destruction in others, how their innocence had been shattered. The Lord does permit real evil to happen to us, though only so as to draw an incomparably much greater good out of the evil, all for our benefit and that of others.
Let’s skip ahead a few years in this, my life story, to when I was about seven years old, I remember a boy from my part of town, who must have been terribly, violently abused, perhaps by his own brothers, his own father. There was always something tangibly scary about his brothers and father. I had never even met them. But I was warned again and again only to come there when they weren’t around. This friend of mine was always on the lookout for their arrival, and would grab me frantically, telling me to run with any noise he heard, his eyes filled with fear. This frightened me, but I didn’t want to abandon him. Friends don’t abandon friends, do they?
We were the same age, though he was quite a bit stronger than I was. Their family had exercise equipment in their basement, and he used it pretty constantly. The basement was his favorite place in his house. At any rate, whenever we would go on an expedition to look for innocent trouble, so to speak, climbing the steep banks of the Mississippi or investigating construction zones, he would erratically run away. Perhaps he was afraid of being punished for making trouble. Perhaps he was afraid of real friendship.
He once stole my little Schwinn Stingray – perhaps to run away from home – and then returned it two weeks later, letting it drop on the driveway in a heap in front of me, almost as a kind of challenge, looking at me defiantly. He didn’t know that the bike was good for doing things like THIS. He insisted with a strained, high-pitched and loud voice that he wanted to go to our basement. “Basement…” thought I to myself. I hesitated, noting a sort of madness in his eyes, a madness I didn’t give much heed, however, since I wanted him to see I was looking indignantly at the condition of the bicycle. He ignored this, as if nothing material in this world had any relevance to anything. More than this, he was incredulous that I would waste time on the bicycle. Odd for a seven-year old, thought I, seven-year old that I was. He was hardly able to contain himself, glaring right into my soul, almost shrieking that we had to go to the basement… now!
So, O.K., I led him down to the basement, never having had experience with such behavior. I admit however, that my adrenaline levels were maxing out as I led him down the steps. I showed him the small chest of toys that I myself hadn’t looked at for a number of years, but he didn’t even look in that direction. He was scanning the room for something else. I opened the cover to the keyboard of the small upright piano we had, explaining that some of the keys didn’t work. He slammed the cover back down shaking his head in disbelief at my lack of comprehension. As he scanned the room again, I had a sinking feeling that something very bad, very evil was about to take place that very instant.
I tried to ignore this, stupidly, opening the cover to the piano once again to see if there was any damage. That’s when I saw, out of the corner of my eye, that he was reaching out to the light-switch with one hand even while taking a switch blade out of his pocket with the other, lunging for me at the same time, wildly swiping the blade this way and that. Thank God there was a tiny window high up in the adjoining laundry room, which let in just enough light to enable me to evade his slashing.
Although I would often fight with my older brother, this was something altogether different. I didn’t know how to jump into this fray without getting killed. If I ran, I would get stabbed in the back. That was certain. Going into battle was the only way. As he lifted the knife to his shoulder so as to plunge the blade into my chest, with both hands I somehow grabbed his hand, and immediately commenced smashing the back of his hand, ever clenching the knife, against the metal corner of the chest freezer we had next to the piano. I was using up all my strength, as this went on for some minutes. He would switch from hitting me with his free hand to using both hands so as to try to stab me. He had an iron grip on the knife, which, incredibly, he turned in on my forearms as I continued to smash his hand against the corner of the freezer. I thought I was a dead man, that I was going to die right then and there in a pool of blood like any gralloshed deer such as I had seen hanging in the garage of the neighbor. I couldn’t believe I was holding my own. He was either not a very good fighter – though he was much more practiced than I – or fighting was not his purpose.
At one moment, when he was punching me with his free hand, he dropped the knife on top of the freezer with the other. I must have broken quite a few of the bones of his hand on the corner of the freezer by this time. I managed to push the knife behind the freezer, but that made him go into an absolute frenzy of hitting and punching, at least with his one good hand. In the midst of this, he tried to rip my jeans off. At first, I thought he was after the few coins any seven-year old might have in his pockets. But then I was utterly stunned. This fight was not in the least about fighting, though I think he would have repeatedly stabbed me, right to death, if he had had the chance. This was, instead, about something that, at that time, I could not understand. I was completely flummoxed. I listened, but I could not believe my ears. He was begging me again and again – with such a hellishly despairing desperation in his voice – begging me, half mumbling, half shouting, half shrieking, half crying out for help, begging me to hit him even as he continued to flail away with incredibly powerful punches. It wasn’t the violence that put me off so much as this beastly spirit inside of this, this… seven-year old.
This wasn’t about wanting a sparring partner. He was fighting for his own life, flailing away in trying to get my attention as he was doing so. He was trying to let me know that this was his last-ditch effort to be understood. He was at the end of his life right then, right there. He knew it. He was screaming for help. Screaming. For help. He could not go on anymore, not like this.
In all of this – however filled with adrenaline I was, however stressed all my muscles, however turbulent my emotions, however many stars I saw under the continuous rain of blows – I remained with a sense of calm, a recognition of God’s presence. “God help us! Guardian angel! Help!” And God did intervene, letting the horror take its course even while preparing to draw such good out of such evil.
Since the knife was out of reach, I tried to back off and run up the stairs, which took another few minutes, during which he tried to rape me – a seven-year old trying ever so violently to rape another seven-year old mind you – though he had never succeeded in pulling my jeans off nor did he ever lower his own trousers. This wasn’t so much about sex as it was about him trying to figure out what happened to him. He must have been raped for the umpteen zillionth time just minutes before coming over to my house and was using me as a substitute for what he wanted to do to his (I suppose from what he had said previously) brothers and/or father, role-playing them over against me, all the while trying to get, if possible, a reaction of goodness and kindness from me, proving to himself that even if he showed his absolute worst, there was someone who would nevertheless hold out hope for him. Goodness and kindness isn’t the passive bit of passive/aggressive rubbish. Goodness and kindness is simply real goodness, real kindness. Goodness and kindness provide hope. Should you doubt this, keep reading. Meanwhile, I escaped.
I waited at the top of the stairs for him, not a little upset, letting that sense of calm, of God’s presence, slip away a bit, in pain with so many punches to my head, and flustered that I had no idea what had just happened. Some minutes went by. I didn’t want to let him find his knife, but there was no way I was going down the steps again. My only objective now was to get him outside of the house. I was on edge in anticipation of his coming up from the basement, but this time I had no fear whatsoever. I would certainly get the job done. Eventually, he emerged and asked to take the bike again as I kept him moving to the outside.
His question about taking the bicycle angered me for some seconds, but then, as we got outside… it happened… a terrifying rush of understanding, an enlivening dread terror before the magnificent, awesome, crushing weight of the glory of its truth, ripping me up into heaven even while shoving my face into the reality of man’s horrific situation before God all the more violently, a new kind of extreme sport for me. It was not a brightness. Yet, it was. The only way I can describe this glory is by praising the agility this truth had in letting itself be carried in all charity right into the midst of the hell I now saw. My guardian angel, it seems, was enlightening me about how he saw things. Yikes!
The turmoil of the past few minutes was nothing compared to what I now beheld in front of me. Looking at this friend of mine, into his eyes… oh my… I can see them now, absolutely wide open, and him, sitting on the bike… disheveled, bleeding a bit, holding on to the handlebars of the bike with but one hand, holding the other, badly injured, in front of his chest that was heaving with hoarse, deep breathing, silent tears screaming with emotion streaming down his face, his whole body shaking quite violently. He was suffering all hell’s minions attacking whatever hope he had left. I hadn’t noticed his face so very much when he had arrived, being more interested, as I said, in the condition of my bike. But now, looking at him just as intently as he was looking at me, I realized that I was afraid for his life, as was he for his own life. His words about riding the bike, with his one remaining good hand, into the front of a speeding eighteen wheel truck just one street over as soon as he left me added nothing to what I could already see of his spirit. He was utterly shaken – a mere shell of a little boy – at a loss now as to how to keep any shred of conscience he still might possess, at a loss of how not to take his own life. And he was looking pleadingly into my eyes.
My sudden understanding in such horrific circumstances did not come from a been there, done that, condescending projection of self as is always hailed by psychologies of the lowest-common-denominator of stupidity. Instead, I understood because, then and there, I was drawn to put all this before the love of God that I had already known for years. God always uses our experiences – and I also had suffered some bad things – but what God uses is not anything that we suffer, but the hope we have gained in being brought into His love and mercy. He has us put others before that love and mercy, before that hope, not before our own ineptitude. This friend of mine knew all of my ineptness, and could not have cared less about that. He saw something else in me that he was trying to get to understand. The living hope which guides us is not distant, not cold, not ideological, not a mind game, but is ever so personal, so… true. It is a friendship with God that cannot but be manifested at such times despite our own idiocy. God wins out. Every time. If we are at all with Him.
We ended up in a long, but halting discussion, full of awkward silences, about family life and encouragement. The silences seemed so graceless precisely because they were filled with grace, leading, as they did, to honest, if only half completed remarks, which were cut off by his heart almost visibly being jammed hard into his throat with such a roller coaster of emotions.
It was one of the single most painful conversations I have had in my life, truly excruciating, because every word of understanding and advice that I was offering was coming to me for the first time, second by second. I was very conscious of my inadequacy on the one hand, but had a very strong realization that God Himself was helping me on the other hand. My emotions and my brain were working way, way overtime. There was a life and death urgency and, of course, I myself had come literally within inches of having been stabbed to death.
But God is good. He made the conversation at least a temporary success. I knew something of the angels at that time. I guessed that they had everything to do with anything good that came from this encounter, not the least of which goodness was the saving of his life and an introduction to the goodness and kindness of the Lord. This conversation, this encounter with heaven visiting earth, went on for a good half hour. He didn’t want it to stop. He was changed by the time he left. Much calmer. Overwhelmed. He got what he was looking for. Hope. The problem was that he was headed straight back into hell. But he had a temporary reprieve.
Friends are not so easily offended when they can distinguish between being dissed as opposed to someone crying out for help, for life itself. We stayed friends, of sorts, in that seventh year of my life. He didn’t ride himself into a speeding truck, not yet anyway.
There was nothing at all heroic on my part about any of this. I’m sure my guardian angel helped me fight. And any understanding I had, came directly from the Lord by way of this great angel of God. If the Lord wanted to use me, that was up to Him. I had no say in the matter. And this gives one a certain freedom. I imagine that this is what makes martyrdom possible. It has nothing at all to do with our strength; everything is from the Lord while the angels rejoice as they witness love that is stronger than death. This love is made clear with the forgiveness that the martyr holds out for the taking. It’s all about humble thanksgiving. Any of us could be in anyone else’s circumstances. There, but for circumstances and the grace of God…
We are all nothing before the love of God, we who so love to be enslaved to the circumstances in which we find ourselves. I must insist: what if we lived the circumstances of someone else? Again, good circumstances can easily lead to delusion about ourselves. Anyone holding himself out to be better than others lies to God, to others and to himself, and is a danger to himself and others. I did not “identify” with this friend of mine. What rubbish! Instead, I saw how we are all before the throne of God, how much the Lord loves each of us.
This friend of mine was pretty normal after this, and we would go on long bike hikes even of forty and fifty miles, even at such a young age, but then he tried to do the rape thing once more when we were swimming in a lake dozens of miles from home. He failed, since I made my objection with some force. That was the end of that friendship, then and there, instantly. It’s not that my understanding was at an end. He just had to learn that other people were not his play things that he could abuse at will with no consequences, a lesson I’m sure he didn’t learn at home. Had I done anything else, it would have become a passive/aggressive relationship. Not good, that. My final act of friendship was to ditch the friendship.
Does all this mean he hadn’t learned anything from the previous incident in the basement? Not at all. He had gone back home, and, I’m sure, was subjected to more hell. He just had to repeat his attack, laying aside the hope he had been given previously. Not good. Really, not good. At all. I don’t know what became of him, if he even survived another year. It seemed like he disappeared from the face of the earth. I had asked some friends about him now and again, but they only repeated with much darkness that something unspeakable had happened in his house. None of them would say what it was. They were visibly frightened at the topic. Poor kid. It’s just my conjecture, but if he wasn’t killed by his own family, or if he didn’t kill himself, he might have been snuffed out in a porno film. Indeed, as I was to find out, there was much of that going on in town, indeed, in that end of town. But that’s for the next chapter, where you can read about how I became a kiddie-porn star for the local Mafia.
Sandy Hook Children During the Twelve Days of Christmas — A Video Of Grieving Love, Of Hope in Their Honor, by a Relative
This is Cheyanne’s Lullaby. A must see during these 12 days of Christmas.
This is a video just now made by Mary Rose, who created this expression of grief, of hope, of looking forward to a meeting in heaven.
This was made for her cousin, Sandy Hook Elementary School victim, Allison Wyatt, and her nineteen little friends who died there.
Mary Rose is the twenty year old daughter of Joe Maher, who, as readers of HSH know, is the founder of the great organization, Opus Bono Sacerdotii. Joe sent me the video in these days after Christmas.
Know that there is an element of the lamentation of Rachel, who refused to be consoled, because they were no more, a passage cited about the wailing that went on in Bethlehem and environs when Herod had all the children two years old and under murdered, with our Lord just escaping into exile for the many years to come. His time would soon come. He also would know a most violent, tortured death, so as to bring us to life.
Yes, there is hope in this video. Much grief. But remember, grief comes from love.
I am reminded of these posts for your review:
(1) The beatitude about the blessedness of grieving, of knowing the love in the midst of grieving.
(2) The Grief Woman - a chapter in a book I’m writing about the women in the Gospels. This one is a widow who is grieving for her only son.
Please use the sharing buttons. Pass it on. This is the request of the relatives. A message of hope in the midst of love that grieves is importnat to share. Thanks. We help each other in this way.
Chocolate Bacon 12 Days of Christmas Extravaganza: I bet young Jewish Shepherds at the manger ate this years later! A HSH Special
Holy Souls Hermitage celebrates the 12 days of Christmas.
I’ll have to decorate a Christmas Tree. Perhaps you remember the one from last year. But that’s for another of the 12 days. Today we have…
You just know it had to happen sooner than later.
You have to know that the neighbor’s son, a great seminarian (and past student of mine) was up to Holy Souls Mountain for Christmas. The neighbors made chocolate bacon for the occasion, a wonderful Christmas treat with great theological significance if you ask me, famed biblical scholar and theologian that I am (hah!).
The shepherds who watched their flocks by night, to whom the angels of heaven appeared, who rushed to the cave in Bethlehem (the House of Bread) to behold the Babe, the Son of God in swaddling clothes, were dirt poor. They ate the food of the poor.
- One such poor-man’s-food was honey. This is abundant, if you know where to look, even in a semi-desert. In the spring, there are gazillions of flowers and the bees are very busy indeed. Just reach into any gnarled hold of an olive tree and you’ll have a handful of honey. If it’s winter, and at night, and you’re quick, you won’t get stung.
- Another poor-man’s-food is the chocolate like carob pod of the carob tree, which grows throughout the region. It is the food of the poor. The pods are called Saint John’s Bread, since the pods look somewhat like the locustae that Saint John the Baptist ate. Indeed, the pods are also called locusts and the trees are also called locust trees. It’s a penitential food. I think that that’s the reference in Matthew 3,4 and Mark 1,6. At any rate, it’s what the prodigal son hotly desired to shove down his throat, but it was the pigs who were eating the pods, and no one gave him anything, nor could he ask, as he was enslaved.
- But what about the forbidden bacon? Surely, Jewish shepherds would never but never eat bacon. Pork is unclean. Pigs are symbolic of the demonic.
Well, more than thirty years later, Saint Peter had a vision about, among other things, the bacon of our chocolate bacon recipe (Acts 10,9-16):
Peter went up to the roof terrace to pray at about noontime. He was hungry and wished to eat, and while they were making preparations he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something resembling a large sheet coming down, lowered to the ground by its four corners. In it were all the earth’s four-legged animals and reptiles and the birds of the sky. A voice said to him, “Get up, Peter. Slaughter and eat.” But Peter said, “Certainly not, O Lord. For never have I eaten anything profane and unclean.” The voice spoke to him again, a second time, “What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.” This happened three times, and then the object was taken up into the sky.
I’m sure Peter was quite mortified at this point, this having happened three times. One recalls his three-fold denial of the Lord, and then the Lord’s three-fold reprimand of Peter, and simultaneous commissioning. Would Peter try to find righteousness in Jewish dietary laws instead of in the redemption wrought by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Saint Peter takes all this to heart.
This happened not long after our Lord ascended into heaven, well within the lifetime of the young shepherds who were guarding their flocks by night, to whom the angels appeared, and who rushed, rushed, rushed to see the Christ Child in the manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes.
These shepherds, after their experience, would have sought news of this Emmanuel, God-With-us, as the years passed. Surely they would have heard of what happened to Peter, as this would have instantaneous practical effect in one’s daily life for many of their neighbors.
- Bacon is allowed
- Chocolate (substituting for carob should you not have it) is certainly allowed
- Chocolate Bacon is indeed a most fitting celebration of the Lord’s Birthday.
The shepherds would be the first to celebrate in the most delicious, symbolic way they could:
- Slaughter the pig you got as a gift from your Jewish-Catholic employers, who know that you’ve accepted Peter’s vision.
- Slice up chucks of bacon and take this with you out into the fields to watch the flocks of sheep by night.
- On your way out into the fields, collect dead olive wood branches that are scattered about everywhere, reaching into the occasional gnarled hole of an olive tree to grab some honey, placing that in a Roman chariot metal axle cap that you found on the road from Bethlehem to Jerusalem as you started out. Don’t neglect, however, to also break off a long green olive branch.
- When your flocks of sheep are settled down and there are no wolves in sight, just as night is falling into its fullest darkness, light a fire.
- As the flames get started, and when all is calm and no wolves are about, take out your bacon, hanging the strips on the green olive branch that you’ve propped up above the fire, crisping the bacon nicely, with flames shooting up from the fallen grease.
- Grab some newly fallen carob pods that have fallen to the ground all around you.
- Grind these up, using a stone over some exposed bedrock. Be sure that the stone you are using isn’t still spattered with the blood of recently martyred Saint Stephen, that greatest of deacons, in whose death the future Saint Paul, not yet converted, took part.
- Mix the carob powder with the now melted honey in the heated axle cap.
- Place the bacon in a heap on a clean boulder.
- Glop the carob-honey mixture onto the bacon. Let cool.
- Thank the Lord for the wonders He has provided to man as you taste the amazing combination of flavors.
- Having baited the wolves whom you’ve attracted with the aromas of sizzling bacon, baiting them, in fact, to pay attention to you instead of your sheep, now take your staff and so beat down the wolves that they die.
- Now, take your trusty shepherd’s KA-BAR proto-type, and skin the wolves, throwing their guts to your sheep-dogs, the latter of whom you trained to let the wolves come close when chocolate bacon is in the offing.
- Use the wolves’ skins for warmth during the cold Winter’s night, laughing as a good shepherd would, who wears wolves clothing, not because of being evil, but because any good shepherd might appear to be a wolf depending on how perceptive or not people are, just as our Lord, the Good Shepherd, was condemned as a criminal and crucified.
- Meditating on that fact, sit in awe of your Lord and God, who so humbly came among us, born to die, to bring us to life.
- Strengthened with earthly and spiritual food, break into song, singing the hymn you learned many decades previously, from angels on high:
Glory to God in the Highest!
I never heard this Mormon fellow before, having been oversees for so long. This is a rather rambunctious version of Angels We Have Heard on High with a bit of interpolated Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring:
If HSH all of a sudden is NOT updated for days on end, it may well be that an ice storm has taken down the power lines. Yikes! This could happen any time in the next week. Yikes! again.
It was Christmas morning, before daybreak, and I was the only one awake in the whole house. I had already been awake for a good while, filled with a sense that sacred mysteries were being revealed. But then, in a flash, I jumped out of bed and got dressed. There I was, at three and half years old, sitting at the top of the steps again, all ready to go to Mass, reddish-brown boots for a cripple and all. My first thought on looking down the steps had been to rush down to see the Christmas presents below the tree, the edge of which I could see, all decorated and lit up. If I had gone down, I saw that I could have investigated the bulging Christmas stockings hanging just below me on the bannister of the stair case. But I couldn’t. It’s as if my guardian angel wanted me to sit there without distractions and just take in the mystery.
Today is the birthday of Jesus, of God, who loves me so much, came down to earth among us, now born. I was in quiet awe. I just sat and sat, my heart filled to overflowing. As the rest of the family started to wake up, they wondered why I was all dressed up, and when I protested that it was time to go to early Mass because Jesus was born today, I heard some sleepy mumblings about presents and Santa. Don’t get me wrong, I thought that was also super wonderful and I was very happy and grateful, and there were lots of hugs and kisses and thanks to go around when we opened the presents… but… Jesus was born today! I have often thought that I would have made a good donkey so that I could be right next to Jesus in the manger of Bethlehem.
Without even considering the problem of loss of faith, we, as adults, can have the temptation to think that not being in awe with the simplicity of a little child before the Sacred Mysteries being revealed by the Incarnation of Christ our God is somehow to be considered more sophisticated and intellectually adept at appreciating the articles of faith. But He who is Truth, is also Charity, whom we can get to know and love. To prescind on purpose from such a prayerful experience is, I think, one of the worst effects of original sin that man can suffer. It can only be countered with prayer, with the simplicity of, well, simply praying. [[Take a moment today to just sit and quietly take in the mystery like a little child...]]
Many a priest has joked with me that I’m an expert at finding a dark cloud behind every silver lining, even if that silver lining is so blindingly bright that no one else can possibly see a cloud of any kind. As an example, a Cardinal once invited me to go with him to a rendition of Georg Friedrich Händel’s Messiah in the Paul VI Audience Hall in Vatican City, with the Holy Father [John Paul II] in attendance.
- The more wonderfully the orchestra played, the more I thought of the minuscule canister prisons for bishops and priests in China.
- The more finesse was radiated by the director, the more I thought of the horrific street mafias in Calcutta, purposely maiming the children they stole so as to make them look more pitiable for begging purposes.
- The more exalting to the heavens were the vocalists, the more I thought of the Site Solèy of Haïti and, along with earth-quakes, hurricanes, flooding and epidemics, its highly manipulated poverty.
This was not, however, the existential conundrum it must seem to be. Instead, it was a vision of God’s love. Here He was, entering the world, born to die, to bring us to life. The further I saw that He had to reach to get us, especially in our sin, the more thanksgiving filled my heart and soul, rejoicing in His great love. After the concert, I mentioned what I had been thinking about to the Cardinal, but he simply told me not to do that, just to enjoy the music. [I protested until he got the point about Christmas! Yikes!]
Finally, a video sent in just now by a reader of HSH:
The Sandy Hook children and SWAT team at Christmas, the poem, and a thought for the priests of the parish
In the picture above, you see the SWAT Team that responded to the Sandy Hook massacre just days before Christmas. They were eager to do the best they could to help the children. That determination and self-giving reminds me of the real Saint Nick, who was a Catholic Bishop of Mira. Hearing of the intentions of a man in his diocese to pimp out his three girls in prostitution since he could not come up with dowries for them (the custom at the time), the bishop himself provided their dowries, saving them from sex slavery and, surely, as is the case with these things, an early death just as certain as shooting them outright.
Instead of blaming God and being bitter as we take note of the violence and darkness of this world, let’s praise the infant Jesus, another little child, who came into this world of horrific violence with the very purpose of taking all this hell onto Himself. He knew that His very goodness, in all of its kindness, would seem incriminating of our lack thereof, and that we would kill Him for it. He knew that, but held out the invitation of friendship at the very moment we tortured Him to death on the Cross: Father, forgive them! He rose, then, from the dead, ascending to heaven so as to welcome into heaven those such as the littlies of Sandy Hook. Does God know about our agony here on earth. Yes. He does. And He paid the price to have the right in all justice to have mercy on us. He permits the bad use of free will. Yes, but only in favor of those who will use their free will for good. In heaven, there won’t be any one who uses their free will for evil. They go somewhere else. Their choice. Let’s use that evil choice of theirs for the good, that is, by taking that as occasion not to give up, but to do what we can for love of God and love of neighbor while we can. Take good note of the SWAT team.
Just to say: Encouraging us to use our free will to bring love and goodness and kindness to others is also how the Prince of the Most Profound Peace brings that Christmas Peace we so desire into our lives.
Is it ludicrous to wish the survivors of Sandy Hook a Happy Merry Christmas? No, it’s not. In fact. It’s just the other way around: Look at the violence! And… and… Look at how the Son of God leaps from heaven into the cold desert cave of Bethlehem to begin his own journey directly into the epicenter of that violence to bring us, eventually together, when the time is right for us, to be in heaven with Him and, please God, all our loved ones.
A thought for the priests of the parish as well. This from an email from a fellow priest:
A time long, long ago, in what seems like another galaxy now, I was only a couple of years ordained, and an associate pastor. The pastor (who almost never left) was away on vacation the week after Christmas. In the wee hours of the morning, I was called to the hospital for a parishioner who had died. Now that of course was not unusual, except that the man’s sister was the secretary to the Bishop. I suggested to Dorothy that she might want to ask the Bishop to celebrate the Mass, or at least give the homily. But Dorothy replied that her brother would want his pastor to celebrate his funeral, and to preach. That meant of course that I had to preach to the Bishop, the Auxiliary Bishop, and the entire Chancery Staff. That was one of the few homilies I wrote out completely, and followed almost completely. I got compliments on my homily, but it was one of the most nerve-wracking things I have ever had to do.
I have been thinking of that experience this past week as I watched the events unfold in Newtown, Connecticut. The Pastor and Parish staff of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown have had an horrendous week, and it is surely draining on them. So I was thinking of the strain on them, both this week and in coming weeks. So I have been praying for strength for them, for God’s grace to see them through this difficult time.
All of us have likely been thinking of having to face such a task, and probably imagining and wondering what we would do. I have been involved in emergency service for many years, as chaplain to Level One hospitals, law enforcement and fire service, and hospice. So I have experienced on a small scale what they are going thru.
I would like to ask you all to pray for them, to offer them any support you can, so speak to the Lord about them in your prayer this coming Christmas. I will send a copy of this email to Monsignor Bob, as his parish calls him, so that he and his staff will know of our prayer and support.
God be with you in this Christmas Season!
I love it when priests are in solidarity with each other. That’s just very cool indeed.
Now, let’s re-publish the post from the sister of one of the priests, and then again the poem about the children of Sandy Hook celebrating Christmas in heaven: Continue reading
The last minute or so brings in all home. Yikes!
And Jesus is just that good, and just that kind.
The scenery here reminds me of Holy Souls Mountain.
May the Lord Jesus, Christ our God, the Divine Son of God,
the Word made flesh, the sapling of Jesse,
the King of kings, the Lord of lords, Wonder Counselor, God-Hero,
Everlasting Father, Prince of the Most Profound Peace,
born to us this day, in eternity our Brother, forever our Friend,
always so good and kind, continue to bless you abundantly,
carrying you along all the days of your life, right to heaven,
all according to the perfect intercession of the Immaculate Conception,
that Virgin Mother, His and ours,
who with the most tender solicitation asks for what is best for us,
the very best, the best that God can give, Himself.
I wish you all a Most Blessed Peaceful Christmas.
You ever wonder why Jesus likened the last judgment to separating the goats from the sheep, with the goats tumbling down to hell while the sheep trundle up to heaven?
Well, it’s like this: goats really are cute, and that’s good. The problem is that they know it, and relish it, and flaunt it. That’s not good. All of a sudden it’s not so cute. They become terribly independent, apart from any flock, are troublemakers, destroying anything and everything, all the while, mind you, all the while putting on such an almost convincing façade of cuteness.
But then there are Christmas sheep, this time in the form of a young Joseph Ratzinger:
Pope’s childhood letter to Baby Jesus shows his faith – By Estefania Aguirre
A Christmas letter that Pope Benedict XVI wrote to Baby Jesus when he was seven years-old demonstrates his devotion to the Sacred Heart and his desire to be a priest.
The letter is on display this Advent in the village of Marktl am Inn in Bavaria, where he was born.
“Dear Baby Jesus, quickly come down to earth. You will bring joy to children. Also bring me joy,” he wrote in the 1934 letter, published on the Church-affiliated Italian website Korazym.org.
“I would like a Volks-Schott (a Mass prayers book), green clothing for Mass (clerical clothing) and a heart of Jesus. I will always be good. Greetings from Joseph Ratzinger,” he wrote in German cursive hard writing called Sütterlinschrift.
The letter, found during the renovation of a house that Joseph Ratzinger’s occupied when he was a professor in Regensburg, was published on Dec. 18. The message was discovered in the estate of his sister Mary, who kept the letter after the Pope’s house was converted into a small museum dedicated to him.
In Korazym’s view, the “letter was uncommon for a seven-year-old since he did not ask for toys or sweets, which were always in front of the Ratzinger family’s nativity for his three brothers.”
The first thing the Pope wanted was a Schott, one of the first prayer books with the missal in German and a parallel text in Latin. At the time there were two editions in the country, one for adults and one for children.
But little Joseph also asked for “green clothing for Mass.”
The Pope and his brothers used to play the “game of the priest,” and their mother, a seamstress, would help them by making clothes similar to those worn by priests, according to an “Inside the Vatican” interview his brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, gave a few years ago.
He also asked for a heart of Jesus, referring to an image of the Sacred Heart, which his family was very devoted to.
His brother… [read the rest at CNA]
On this Christmas, honoring servant of God, Jérôme Lejeune, the great hero of Down Syndrome and all humanity
This is a MOST. BEAUTIFUL. VIDEO. Here’s a link to the foundation.
The American Pledge of Allegiance — Christmas version from K of C — a great example of the separation of Church and State (under God – born/unborn)
I pledge allegiance to the flag of
the United States of America and
to the Republic for which it stands,
one nation under God, indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all, born & unborn.
From the Knights of Columbus:
The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States originated on Columbus Day, 1893. It contained no reference to Almighty God, until in New York City on April 22, 1951, the Board of Directors of the Knights of Columbus adopted a resolution to amend the Pledge of Allegiance as recited at the opening of each of the meetings of the 800 Fourth Degree Assemblies of the Knights of Columbus by the addition of the words “under God” after the words “one nation”.
The adoption of this resolve by the Supreme Board of Directors had the effect of an immediate initiation of this practice throughout the aforesaid Fourth Degree Assembly meetings. At their annual State Meetings, held in April and May of 1952, the State Councils of Florida, South Dakota, New York and Michigan adopted resolutions recommending that the Pledge of Allegiance be so amended and that Congress be petitioned to have such amendment made effective.
On August 21, 1952, the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus, at its annual meeting, adopted a resolution urging that the change be made general and copies of this resolution were sent to the President, the Vice President (as Presiding Officer of the Senate) and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The National Fraternal Congress meeting in Boston on September 24, 1952, adopted a similar resolution upon the recommendation of its President, Supreme Knight Luke E. Hart. Several State Fraternal Congresses acted likewise almost immediately thereafter. At its annual meeting the following year, on August 20, 1953, the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus repeated its resolution to make this amendment to the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag general and to send copies of this resolve to the President, Vice President, Speaker of the House, and to each member of both Houses of Congress.
From this latter action, many favorable replies were received, and a total of seventeen resolutions were introduced in the House of Representatives to so amend the Pledge of Allegiance as set forth in the Public Law relating to the use of the flag. The resolution introduced by Congressman Louis C. Rabaut of Michigan was adopted by both Houses of Congress, and it was signed by President Eisenhower on Flag Day, June 14, 1954, thereby making official the amendment conceived, sponsored, and put into practice by the Knights of Columbus more than three years before.
In a message to Supreme Knight Luke E. Hart at the meeting of the Supreme Council in Louisville, August 17, 1954, President Eisenhower, in recognition of the initiative of the Knights of Columbus in originating and sponsoring the amendment to the Pledge of Allegiance, said:
“We are particularly thankful to you for your part in the movement to have the words ‘under God’ added to our Pledge of Allegiance. These words will remind Americans that despite our great physical strength we must remain humble. They will help us to keep constantly in our minds and hearts the spiritual and moral principles which alone give dignity to man, and upon which our way of life is founded. For the contribution which your organization has made to this cause, we must be genuinely grateful.”
In August, 1954, the Illinois American Legion Convention adopted a resolution whereby recognition was given to the Knights of Columbus as having initiated, sponsored and brought about the amendment to the Pledge of Allegiance; and on October 6, 1954, the National Executive Committee of the American Legion gave its approval to that resolution.
* * * Rant * * *
I once knew a Catholic priest who campaigned to remove the phrase “one God” from the Pledge of Allegiance for the reason that he didn’t want to offend Muslims, because… (begin sarcasm:) as we all know, of course, Muslims would never ever say that the world and the United States belong to Allah, whom they hold to be God. (end sarcasm).
As it is, any Muslim who happened to have a sword in his hand at the time it was said to him by a liberal Catholic priest that the words “under God” should be removed from the Pledge would just that quickly cut the head off the liberal Catholic priest. On second thought, he would probably let him live, since he served to deaden his parish to their virtue of patriotism so as to think that they were being nice to Muslims. That can serve a purpose for Islam.
Fortunately, real patriots are not slowed down by liberal Catholic priests. Real patriots are good servants of the nation, but of God first, always faithful to the Church.
* * * end rant * * *
The Knights have also begun to add the words “born and unborn” at the end. Good thing, because this is what we’ve come to in anti-Christmas America:
The president’s Planned Parenthood even opens on Christmas just to mock both God and man. This can’t go on. Such bloodshed must be followed by a persecution of the church of unprecedented proportions.
Mind you, many martyrs are a blessing for eternal life and even for the conversion and enlivened faith of those who remain on earth for just another short period of time before they also enter into eternity.
Now, this from a story of hope and healing after abortion.
A description of clericalism:
The laity are worthless unless they take on responsibilities of a priest who, with no sense of priestly identity, turns his priesthood into a display of power, delegating priestly responsibilities which he doesn’t care to do himself to the sycophantic lay enablers he gathers around himself for his self-congratulation.
The immediate practical effect of clericalism:
The parish is turned into a fiasco of jockeying for power, into which vacuum of egoism all would-be-service is transformed into aloof standoffishness that disdains any the responsibilities which have been delegated.
The immediate spiritual effect of clericalism:
Instead of everyone, priest and people, being in reverence and humble thanksgiving before our Lord Jesus, Mary’s Divine Son, so that all are eager to know how to make progress in the spiritual life, how to make a good confession, how to participate at Holy Mass with active receptivity, how to serve Jesus in each other… instead of all that, the immediate spiritual effect of clericalism is rivalry and bitterness among those competing for the most “power” and backing by the mere shell of the priest who no longer serves our Lord and His parish, but is rather defined by the sycophants to whom he has sold his soul for their shallow praise.
How clericalism results in the non-encouragement of vocations:
The priest doesn’t want any seminarians since he is afraid of any competition from someone who has a true priestly identity, something he cannot tolerate as he will not admit this priestly identity into his own life.
The laity don’t want any seminarians and the last thing they would ever do is to encourage vocations for the reason that any others would threaten their corner on power in the parish. They have their wimpish priest under their control and don’t want to risk losing this. Since there is no other reason to have a parish other than their power mongering.
If a vocation does show up, if a seminarian does make an appearance, he is roundly mocked with subtle and incisive public jabs that let him know that he and his service of Jesus are most unwelcome among these narrow-minded self-congratulators.
The irony of it all:
Clericalism, the word, in itself, sounds like it would encourage priestliness, but instead it is a full-fledged attack on the priesthood and the laity, geared to having people ignore Jesus so as to promote themselves.
How to bring an end to clericalism:
Prayer to Jesus, the High Priest. Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
Just make sure Father does the exposition and reposition, even if he’s “busy” doing other things, you know, being a clericalist. If he’s already pulled this on you, just start to insist that he has to get his priorities straight. It only takes a couple of minutes.
There is no lack of vocations to the priesthood:
Any parish that knows who Jesus is has even dozens of vocations. Jesus makes it happen. He also calls others in other parishes, but they browbeat vocations into the dirt. But they are there. They often go elsewhere, joining other dioceses or religious congregations.
In the end:
In the end, Jesus is the Lord of History, and He gets what he wants. It’s good to be part of what He wants in view of all eternity. Really it is.
What to do:
To start, follow the command of our Lord to pray to the Harvest Master, our Heavenly Father, for vocations. In doing this, you are also praying for the conversion of the clericalists, whether priestly or lay. Pray for vocations, right here, right now: Hail Mary…