Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Tie-Dye Priest and the Warrior.

My descent through the cellars to the Crypt to mop the floors remind me of my own descents in life, for I have not always been the absolutely splendid fellow I am today.   I am a poor Catholic. I am fortunate though in my advanced years in not being as able to get into mischief and sin as much I used to. It was all very tiring. And I am thankful to be surrounded some evenings by heroes and Saints They are reminders and restrainers, otherwise I would be - no doubt - sinning far more than I still do.

So it was that a virlile and virtuous chap came by to give me a boost. He is a Priest. Yes, I know, I sometimes despair of priests but that despair is a sin too. "Fear not, for I am with you". But a lady was in too giving some stick to just the sort of priest that lead us into temptation. Not this one though. He has a mind for heroism so fitted in well here.

He was no modern 'tie-dye' performance artiste.  He is no 'hippy' priest. Yes he is a vestment-wearing celebrant but do not ever let the colour of the cloth define the man. Unless of course he is to wear vestements made by another, a friend, who came by too. Clare Short makes fine clothes for the Priest and the congregation, and could fit him up nicely.

I caught the back end of a conversation he was having, about heroism it seems, and I stood to pull a pint as he finished:
These heroes make me want to be a better person.  They make me want to be a better priest.  They help me move beyond defining myself by my worst traits, not by ignoring them, but by conquering them.  They make me want to a better man.  They are all around us, going about their lives. We need to learn how to see them, even to see them beyond their failings. 
We need to be heroes.  Cosplay doesn't make this happen. Playing a video game doesn't either.  To be hero means we find the grace to conquer our faults, the grace to stand tall and to stand our ground, that we raise our voice when needed, and that we cultivate a selflessness in who we are and model that for those placed in our care.
My advice is simple:  Looking for hero?  Start by being a hero!  
Well, how could I of all people, Hero and King, contradict him? OK, perhaps I am not much of a hero. But I could be !!  Fake it 'til you make it, as they say. Or rather behave like one until you become one. A Warrior of note, I am. Let us leave it at that lest Hubris enters through the windows. 

He was right. It is our life and we have free will to make of it what we will, and even.... even perhaps align that with my Supplier's will.

Some priests though have little courage, and even less manliness. Unlike this fellow, Fr. Bill Peckman. But first he sat and listened to the lady speaking up. As ladies are wont to do. It was Melissa Kite, a Catholic lass possibly as far from perfect at it as m'self. She had an unfortunate experience at Mass the other day.
The dietary obnoxiousness of the Catholic Church
Gluten-free Eucharist? I suppose it was only a matter of time before the Pope gave in to dietary fads.
A few moments after saying the communion rite, the priest looked at his congregation and uttered easily the most disturbing thing I have ever heard said in a church: 
‘If anyone wants a gluten-free Eucharist, please queue up on this side.’
By the Lord Harry, were I there at that moment I might have let rip a roar ! 

The builder boyfriend, already grumpy at being made to go to mass, tittered behind me. We hadn’t been able to find two seats together so I now had to imagine him making a series of faces to my back.
I couldn’t resist. I had to turn round and seek his opinion on this most revoltingly PC of moments. I have been going to mass off and on like the bad Catholic I am all my life but I have never heard anything so ludicrous.
As the congregation started queuing for communion, I turned round as discreetly as I could and the builder b’s face was a picture. His response was everything one could have hoped for: 
‘They’ll be offering halal communion next.’
He whispered it, but he whispered it loudly enough for several pews full of worshippers to hear, so it produced a few gasps.
But he’s right. Where does it all end?
Strictly speaking, for us Catholics for whom transubstantiation really happens, the Eucharist is the body of Christ, so vegetarians are going to cut up rough if the Catholic Church wants to start going down the literal route. 
But I suppose it was only a matter of time before the Pope gave in to food allergies. He won’t allow divorce, extra-marital sex or birth control but wheat intolerance? The might of Rome is no match for wheat intolerance.
Not that the Pope is wholly responsible for the stupidity of a priest in another country. But he does come in for quite a bit of wild stick waving these days.  No, it was the priest. But what can we expect of the modern 'Novus Ordo' ?  Perhaps he needs to consult Clare.
But who are these people who have demanded their Catholic priest offer them a gluten-free Eucharist? For truly they are on a whole new level of dietary obnoxiousness.
And why has the mighty Catholic Church made such an ass of itself by giving in to them? How can it expect anyone to take it seriously when it offers communion à la carte?
What next? The priest asking parents if they’d like to see the children’s menu, where the ‘Happy Communion’ features mini Eucharists with smiley faces on them?
Would not a better route have been for the church to tell those worshippers agitating for a special menu to pray for their digestive problems to be relieved? I’m sure if they have faith, their dietary burdens will be lifted from them.
While Grace is freely supplied, on tap and at no charge, Faith and Sense is what we are supposed to bring to the celebration. Some priests ditch the celebration for festival or 'my kitchen rules'.  They have lost their way.

But not so Fr Bill. He is somewhat like my own priest. A manly man. So I asked him about himself and his 'way' of going about his task. Melissa needed a boost too.
The Catholic Man, the Catholic Priest as Warrior
I will confess to being a bit of a history nerd.  So much of history is determined by battles.  Thermopylae, Marathon, Actium, Tours, Agincourt, Lepanto, Yorktown, Gettysburg, Midway, D-Day all leave permanent marks on history.  They change the course of history.  They give rise to heroes.
 From Leonidas to Nimitz, the steel of men's hearts are tested.  Some die as did Leonidas at Thermopylae, some conquer as Nelson did at Trafalgar.  The conquering of territory and the rise and fall of empires hinge of such moments.  The difference of the trajectory of history lies in the balance.
History is a reflection of something far greater than this mere mortal world.  Nations have raged against each other for millennia.  The kingdoms they represent each fall into the annals of history.  We can get lost and even trapped in this world and forget that something so much greater is at stake.   
The physical reflects the eternal.
I am not sure why, but the Church in the last several decades has let her guard down.  Some will cite Vatican II, but nowhere in Vatican II is such a thing called for. 
Certainly the popes of this era have not called for the Church to lower her guard.  Yet if we look at the Church in the West in particular we are getting mowed down.   
Our influence in our societies wanes to near non-existence. Our churches and seminaries empty. What happened? 
Some want to blame the popes, but no general, regardless of their personal greatness, can fight a war on his own.  If his officers and soldiers grow lax, there is little he can do.
Yes, as a leader of men who had to find and teach other leaders of men, I would remind them that a Leader is only as good as the people who follow.
Did we grow lax?  You bet we have!  The diseases that led to our laxity and indifference are centuries old, taking over like a slowly metastasizing cancer, 
cell by cell, 
man by man, 
dad by dad, 
husband by husband, 
priest by priest.   
So ridiculous has the heights of this cancer grown that we seem ineffective against the most inane of claims of sexual perversion and social re-engineering.  We come across as emasculated, impotent, and  weak.  However, truth be told, within the heart of each of us men lies a Leonidas raging to be unleashed.
The feminine in the Church has always been given a place and honoured. But Feminism is a curse that has mde many men emasculated and effeminate. 

Leave the feminine to the ladies. They are far better at it. 
To all men, in the west we have accepted the lie that our lot is to be passive, quiet, and selfish.  We have been consigned to mom and dad's basement with our video games, pot, and porn to numb the pain of our own inadequacy.  We have bought the lie that nobility is found in the emasculation of being nice.  
The sort of church and priest that Melissa encountered is often refered to as the 'Church of Nice'. Ughhh. We need to get back to Tradition.
We who move more freely still move with constraints, afraid of the army of withering snowflakes and totalitarian politically correct brown shirts might somehow take offense at our words and actions and screech like a banshee on speed.  We see the Nurse Ratched ready to give us another numbing dose of alcohol, porn, narcotics, or any other agent that will shut us down.
This is beneath our dignity and it is high time for us to shake off these shackles and roar back.  But how?  How do we roar back?
1) Drop the numbing agents.   
A discontent man will find a plethora of compensation habits to make up for the emasculation they feel.   Some indulge in a virtual world of video games and porn.  Some numb the aching through narcotics and alcohol.  Some throw themselves into the pursuit of promiscuity and masturbation.  Some find food as their numbing agent.   
We must fight back.  We must fight our vices and rise above them.  In Roman Catholicism, we talk about mortifications, fasting, and abstinence.   Many do not even begin and many fall off right away because reining in our physiological pacifiers is hard...the longer we have engaged in them, the harder it is.
However, God does not bid His sons to engage is futile battles.  The answer is twofold.  First, we utilize these weapons of fasting, abstinence, and mortifications because it appeals to the men we are.  They help us conquer and not be conquered!  But these on their own will not be enough.  We will not conquer without the grace of God.
2) Remember whose son you are! 
When we catholic men were baptized, we became by the grace of God an adopted son of God.  Numbing agents rob us of our heritage.  They lead us to be prodigal with our heritage, wasting it through the cheap thrills of sin.  We need to stick close to our Father.   
Make no mistake:  You will NOT be a strong son if you cut yourself from the sacramental life of the Church.   
You need to immerse yourself in prayer and the sacraments just as a warrior would immerse into the regimen necessary to be a great warrior.   
The foolish soldier blows off their commanders, they leave themselves isolated and fit for destruction.  Remember whose son you are and stick by His side.
3) Remember whose brother you are!   
Nothing turns a battle like the soldiers breaking ranks.  I run a summer camp for high school men.  In it, we utilize navy seal training.  Why?  Because in Navy seal training, the interest isn't in personal glory but in the strength of the unit.  They stand tall with each other, they have each others backs. 
I will be blunt, Catholic men suck at  brotherhood that doesn't involve a beer.   
It is as if we need to impress each other in a worldly approved fashion.  Talk about letting the enemy break through the lines!   
Your brothers in Christ need you to bring out the best in each other, to challenge each other, to help in the training of each other.   
We should be exalting each other to stay close to our Father.  We cannot be afraid of leadership and mentoring, we cannot abandon the spiritual leadership to our wives because we bought the lie that faith equals weakness.
Our enemy is far more fierce that the Ottoman fleet, the Nazis, or any other enemy we have ever seen.   
Our enemy takes no quarter.  Our enemy is a scorched earth, kill them all, no mercy kind of enemy.  Our enemy is the devil and his minions who delight in our spiritual death and our eternal damnation.  They will spur us with one emasculating lie after another.  They are not content with our own they want the destruction of your wives, your children, your grandchildren, your parish, and your friends!   
If we wander from the sacraments and prayer, if we allow ourselves to be numbed, then we allow the lines to crumble and  this insatiable enemy to have access to all we love.
 The devil revels in our dismissing him a mythical boogieman.  He enjoys our refined and oh so modern beliefs that dismiss him...we won't fight what we don't believe is there.  Make no mistake, our lack of belief will offer no defense to Satan's forward march.
We have ceded so much territory and are watching the effects of this destruction in our society, our families,and our churches. Now is the time for this to be turned, when we men must wake up, man up, and get about the business of taking back conquered territory.  This isn't about waiting for some new politician to come along, or some new guru. 
Let the Ladies show modesty and beauty:
let the men be fierce and strong.
 NO...this is about recognizing that we already have an unbeatable general in Christ.  We already have the the armaments we need in the truth and in the grace of God.  We do not have to lose!  Even for those of us who might get taken out of the battle like a Maximilian Kolbe of Miguel Pro, we still win.  The Lord honors those who lose their life for His sake with life eternal.
Finally, to my brother priests.  Our laymen look to us to model this reality.  Do they see it?   
Do they see in us warriors or liturgical zombies?   
Do we make ready access to the grace of God through the sacraments for our men?  Do we spur them to manliness or are we Nurse Ratched doling out insipid niceness instead of boldness and manliness?  We who share in the shepherding role, be it as pastors or married men, are the officer's corps.  We will be held responsible for the authority given us. 
We need to understand the enemy and arm our charges and train them to engage and win.  My brother priests, we also must embrace mortifications, fasting, and abstinence for the good of our flock.  The execution of sacraments should be more than job we do, but a life giving moment to charge our flock.  We must be men of prayer who stay close to our father, who do not spurn our relationship with each other, with our bishops, with our Blessed Mother, and with our flock.   
When the men and boys of our flocks see us, they have a right to see what being a man of God looks like in all of its array of armor and weaponry.   
We cannot inspire to numbness but to greatness.  We need to remember we stand as the vanguard against the politically correct hordes and the screeching of the hellish demonic forces.  God has given us a special grace at our ordinations which we are duty bound to uphold and live.
These battles play out every day and who wins these battles is determined on who stands up.  We know God wins the war, now let us act as if we are on the winning side!
My thanks to my Supplier, He who gives me each day my daily bread, this food for the soul that Fr Bill brought to the table. No wishy-washy Fr. Nice.  Bill is a Warrior, and more power to his Godly elbow.

I filled him with fine ales.


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Ne meias in stragulo aut pueros circummittam.

Our Bouncer is a gentleman of muscle and guile. His patience has limits. He will check you at the door.

The Tavern gets rowdy visitors from time to time. Some are brain dead and some soul dead. They attack customers and the bar staff and piss on the carpets. Those people will not be allowed in anymore. So... Be Nice..