I am overwhelmed by the news. So, I’m not going to comment on these stories. Read and discuss. Let’s see what shakes out.
And finally, my Catholic Patheosi colleague Tom McDonald says it all with We Broke the World
I am overwhelmed by the news. So, I’m not going to comment on these stories. Read and discuss. Let’s see what shakes out.
And finally, my Catholic Patheosi colleague Tom McDonald says it all with We Broke the World
If ever there was a needful thing, this is it.
The bishops of Oriental Churches are calling Muslim religious leaders to issue Fatwas banning attacks against Christians. A few incredibly brave Muslims have taken steps on their own. More than 200 people, many of them Muslims, gathered in July in front of a church in Baghdad, carrying signs that said, “I am Iraqi, I am Christian.”
“A group of citizens … they were Muslims … carrying slogans saying “I am Iraqi, I am Christian,” said Father Maysar Bahnam of Mar Korkis of Catholic Church. “They prayed in solidarity with us, saying that we are people from this land.”
Now, the Oriental Bishops are asking Muslim religious leaders to do the right thing and use their authority to help end what has become a genocide.
I do not know what the response will be. There may not be any response at all. But it is important to issue this call. This is an opportunity for Islam to demonstrate that there is more to it than the face we see on the news every night.
It is not enough for politically-correct Westerners to insist that Islam is a faith of peace and beauty. Muslims themselves — in particular Muslim religious leaders — need to demonstrate this by their actions and teachings.
The bishops of Oriental Churches on Thursday demanded Muslim religious authorities to issue fatwas banning attacks against Christians and “other innocents” in the East, urging also parties financing terrorist organizations “to immediately stop arming” these extremist groups.
“We call on Muslim religious authorities, Sunnis and Shiites, to issue fatwas banning attacks against Christians and other innocents,” Beirut Maronite Bishop Boulos Matar said after a congregation of the bishops of Oriental Churches at Diman, Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi’s summer seat.
In a related story: Austrian Muslims Hold Protest March Against Christian Persecution in Iraq
America is bombing ISIS strongholds and dropping food and water to trapped civilians.
President Obama assures us this is a limited engagement.
I am relieved we’re doing something. Our unnecessary war against Iraq early in this century set the events in motion that have ended in a genocide. We made this mess, and we can not stand around and watch and do nothing.
At the same time, the question arises: Why can’t the Iraqi military protect Iraqi citizens? The President said that he was also sending aid to the Iraqi military. I wonder if the problem is more fundamental than a need for aid.
If you watch the video I posted yesterday all the way to the end, you will see a member of the Iraqi parliament openly saying that members of that parliament have contributed to ISIS’ destruction of their country by supporting them.
How many people in the Iraqi military are also aiding and abetting ISIS against their own government? Treason doesn’t seem to mean the same thing in certain parts of the world that it does here in America. From Nigeria to Iraq, treason seems to be a way of life for members of the military.
We’ve got to stop this genocide. There are many reasons why we must do this, but the first and most salient is simply that we pulled the Saddam Hussein stopper out of the bottle and let the genocidal genie loose.
Here is a video of President Obama’s statement. The transcription of the statement is below that.
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
Statement by the President
State Dining Room
9:30 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Today I authorized two operations in Iraq — targeted airstrikes to protect our American personnel, and a humanitarian effort to help save thousands of Iraqi civilians who are trapped on a mountain without food and water and facing almost certain death. Let me explain the actions we’re taking and why.
First, I said in June — as the terrorist group ISIL began an advance across Iraq — that the United States would be prepared to take targeted military action in Iraq if and when we determined that the situation required it. In recent days, these terrorists have continued to move across Iraq, and have neared the city of Erbil, where American diplomats and civilians serve at our consulate and American military personnel advise Iraqi forces.
To stop the advance on Erbil, I’ve directed our military to take targeted strikes against ISIL terrorist convoys should they move toward the city. We intend to stay vigilant, and take action if these terrorist forces threaten our personnel or facilities anywhere in Iraq, including our consulate in Erbil and our embassy in Baghdad. We’re also providing urgent assistance to Iraqi government and Kurdish forces so they can more effectively wage the fight against ISIL.
Second, at the request of the Iraqi government — we’ve begun operations to help save Iraqi civilians stranded on the mountain. As ISIL has marched across Iraq, it has waged a ruthless campaign against innocent Iraqis. And these terrorists have been especially barbaric towards religious minorities, including Christian and Yezidis, a small and ancient religious sect. Countless Iraqis have been displaced. And chilling reports describe ISIL militants rounding up families, conducting mass executions, and enslaving Yezidi women.
In recent days, Yezidi women, men and children from the area of Sinjar have fled for their lives. And thousands — perhaps tens of thousands — are now hiding high up on the mountain, with little but the clothes on their backs. They’re without food, they’re without water. People are starving. And children are dying of thirst. Meanwhile, ISIL forces below have called for the systematic destruction of the entire Yezidi people, which would constitute genocide. So these innocent families are faced with a horrible choice: descend the mountain and be slaughtered, or stay and slowly die of thirst and hunger.
I’ve said before, the United States cannot and should not intervene every time there’s a crisis in the world. So let me be clear about why we must act, and act now. When we face a situation like we do on that mountain — with innocent people facing the prospect of violence on a horrific scale, when we have a mandate to help — in this case, a request from the Iraqi government — and when we have the unique capabilities to help avert a massacre, then I believe the United States of America cannot turn a blind eye. We can act, carefully and responsibly, to prevent a potential act of genocide. That’s what we’re doing on that mountain.
I’ve, therefore, authorized targeted airstrikes, if necessary, to help forces in Iraq as they fight to break the siege of Mount Sinjar and protect the civilians trapped there. Already, American aircraft have begun conducting humanitarian airdrops of food and water to help these desperate men, women and children survive. Earlier this week, one Iraqi in the area cried to the world, “There is no one coming to help.” Well today, America is coming to help. We’re also consulting with other countries — and the United Nations — who have called for action to address this humanitarian crisis.
I know that many of you are rightly concerned about any American military action in Iraq, even limited strikes like these. I understand that. I ran for this office in part to end our war in Iraq and welcome our troops home, and that’s what we’ve done. As Commander-in-Chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq. And so even as we support Iraqis as they take the fight to these terrorists, American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq, because there’s no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq. The only lasting solution is reconciliation among Iraqi communities and stronger Iraqi security forces.
However, we can and should support moderate forces who can bring stability to Iraq. So even as we carry out these two missions, we will continue to pursue a broader strategy that empowers Iraqis to confront this crisis. Iraqi leaders need to come together and forge a new government that represents the legitimate interests of all Iraqis, and that can fight back against the threats like ISIL. Iraqis have named a new President, a new Speaker of Parliament, and are seeking consensus on a new Prime Minister. This is the progress that needs to continue in order to reverse the momentum of the terrorists who prey on Iraq’s divisions.
Once Iraq has a new government, the United States will work with it and other countries in the region to provide increased support to deal with this humanitarian crisis and counterterrorism challenge. None of Iraq’s neighbors have an interest in this terrible suffering or instability.
And so we’ll continue to work with our friends and allies to help refugees get the shelter and food and water they so desperately need, and to help Iraqis push back against ISIL. The several hundred American advisors that I ordered to Iraq will continue to assess what more we can do to help train, advise and support Iraqi forces going forward. And just as I consulted Congress on the decisions I made today, we will continue to do so going forward.
My fellow Americans, the world is confronted by many challenges. And while America has never been able to right every wrong, America has made the world a more secure and prosperous place. And our leadership is necessary to underwrite the global security and prosperity that our children and our grandchildren will depend upon. We do so by adhering to a set of core principles. We do whatever is necessary to protect our people. We support our allies when they’re in danger. We lead coalitions of countries to uphold international norms. And we strive to stay true to the fundamental values — the desire to live with basic freedom and dignity — that is common to human beings wherever they are. That’s why people all over the world look to the United States of America to lead. And that’s why we do it.
So let me close by assuring you that there is no decision that I take more seriously than the use of military force. Over the last several years, we have brought the vast majority of our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan. And I’ve been careful to resist calls to turn time and again to our military, because America has other tools in our arsenal than our military. We can also lead with the power of our diplomacy, our economy, and our ideals.
But when the lives of American citizens are at risk, we will take action. That’s my responsibility as Commander-in-Chief. And when many thousands of innocent civilians are faced with the danger of being wiped out, and we have the capacity to do something about it, we will take action. That is our responsibility as Americans. That’s a hallmark of American leadership. That’s who we are.
So tonight, we give thanks to our men and women in uniform -— especially our brave pilots and crews over Iraq who are protecting our fellow Americans and saving the lives of so many men, women and children that they will never meet. They represent American leadership at its best. As a nation, we should be proud of them, and of our country’s enduring commitment to uphold our own security and the dignity of our fellow human beings.
God bless our Armed Forces, and God bless the United States of America.
9:38 P.M. EDT
I can’t write about what’s happening to Christians in Iraq.
I have no words.
I can not forget that America contributed to this situation with our war on Iraq earlier in this century.
Again, I have no words.
Here are links from around the internet.
You gotta remember: Ann Coulter called erstwhile presidential candidate and famous adulterer John Edwards “a faggot.”
I do not think she was referring to a torch that people carry when they go to a lynching. I’m pretty sure that Ms Coulter was trying to say that former presidential candidate and besotted adulterer John Edwards is a homosexual.
Aside from the fact that Mr Edwards’ flaming heterosexuality gifted him with a love child and put him in federal court defending his freedom, the salient point for the purpose of this post, is that Ms Coulter says stupid, mean things for their shock value. She also makes a lot of money doing this.
Her latest sally into stupid meanness kinda goes off the cliff on the cold-blooded indifference to human suffering side of arguing. Ms Coulter is a beautiful woman, and she’s certainly talented, but her public utterances are so mean that she’s made herself into a caricature of meanness.
In her latest sally down I-won’t-lift-my-little-finger-off-my-Bible-to-help-anybody lane, Ms Coulter levels a blast of what is almost incomprehensible hate at ebola-virus-victim Dr Kent Brantley. Her reason? His illness cost the Christian charities Samaritan’s Purse and SIM USA a lot of money, and, oh yes, America needs help, too.
She soundly and roundly condemns Dr Brantley for going to serve in Africa, asking the question “Can’t anyone serve Christ in America anymore?”
Then she goes off on a round of arm waving and diatribing about how god (little “g” god) is an american (little “a” american), and america’s got problems and we need to take care of our problems and let the rest of the world go to hell. What she leaves out of this nifty little analysis is that if we do that, we won’t have to go to hell. We’ll already be there.
Because that’s what hell is: A world without the real (big G) God.
You know: The God who stepped down from heaven (a higher plane than america, by the way) to become one of us. The God who worked as an ordinary carpenter and consented to be tortured, mocked, shamed and murdered to save us from the exact kind of world Ms Coulter is lobbying for: A world where the biggest and meanest make all the rules and the rest of us are bugs that get squashed under the wheels of the biggest and the meanest’s overweening greed, indifference and narcissism.
Why did Dr Brantley go to Africa? I don’t know the man, but I think it’s just possible that he went there because God called him to go there. It’s also more than likely that the reason these Christian charities spent all that money is because God has also called them to do things like that.
It may be that the reason God allowed Dr Brantley to get sick in the first place was to give those of us in the “developed” world at poke in the side; a wake-up call that we need to get serious about stopping the suffering in Africa.
Of course, there is nothing new under the sun. Everything Ms Coulter spits out has already been said, and not in a “letter” to the public. The first time these words of Ms Coulter’s were spoken, they came out in one sentence in a very private conversation.
Am I my brother’s keeper?
The answer to that question is the same today as it was then: Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.
You either believe God meant what He told us, or you don’t. You either follow Him and do as He commands, or you won’t. Justifying your refusal to follow the real, big “G” God by waving around little “g” god rules some little g god media preacher made up to lead you astray doesn’t get you out of anything. It only hardens you in your sin.
What have you done? Where is your brother?
How should I know where he is? Am I my brother’s keeper?
Don’t follow Ann Coulter and her little g gods of narcissistic greed and indifference to human suffering.
Political gods are demonic gods.
All of them.
From Human Events:
I wonder how the Ebola doctor feels now that his humanitarian trip has cost a Christian charity much more than any services he rendered.
What was the point?
Whatever good Dr. Kent Brantly did in Liberia has now been overwhelmed by the more than $2 million already paid by the Christian charities Samaritan’s Purse and SIM USA just to fly him and his nurse home in separate Gulfstream jets, specially equipped with medical tents, and to care for them at one of America’s premier hospitals. (This trip may be the first real-world demonstration of the economics of Obamacare.)
There’s little danger of an Ebola plague breaking loose from the treatment of these two Americans at the Emory University Hospital. But why do we have to deal with this at all?
Why did Dr. Brantly have to go to Africa? The very first “risk factor” listed by the Mayo Clinic for Ebola — an incurable disease with a 90 percent fatality rate — is: “Travel to Africa.”
Can’t anyone serve Christ in America anymore?
For more on this topic, check out Elizabeth Scalia, whose book Strange Gods is about our practice of turning away from God to follow little g gods, rightly labels Ms Coulter’s “schtick” as a danger to our souls while Simcha Fisher contrasts Coulter’s message with that of Jesus.
I get that everyone is interested in the satanic black mass that is scheduled to happen next month in Oklahoma City.
Satan is real. I believe that. There is a malicious presence which attacks and tempts us to do horrific things, including hate the God Who made us in His own image.
The “black mass” is being advertised as a mockery of the real mass. The satanists claim that they have a consecrated Host that they are going to defile. They evidently even have a real live sex offender to do the honors.
Believe me, I “get” the symmetry of a sex offender, an assaulter and degrader of other humans and of the life force itself, “presiding” over a mockery of the mass in order to defile the Lord of all Life.
I’m there. I get it. I get it in aces and spades.
However, does anyone think that there is something new about defiling the Host? Have we all forgotten the atheist numbskulls who skulked their way into Catholic Churches to obtain consecrated Hosts in order to video themselves urinating on the hosts, flushing them down the toliet, driving nails into them and taking them to atheist conventions to be autographed by their atheist heroes? For a while there, YouTube was littered with the videos these folks made of themselves as they “performed” their act.
I grant you that this is not a deliberate calling up of Satan himself, but it was certainly a desecration.
As far as I’m concerned, every rape, every abortion, every act of egg harvesting, every time someone is subjected to medical murder by euthanasia, is a type of black mass. We are made in God’s image and this defilement of the humanity of human persons is also a defilement of Him.
Black masses, from what little bit I know about them, are a form of worship of the author of this destruction of human worth and value. These people don’t just do Satan’s work unaware like the atheist poseur videoing him or herself as they defile a consecrated Host in their bathroom, or the abortionist who thinks he or she is just performing a medical procedure, or even the rapist, who very well knows that what he is doing is evil to the core but somehow or other doesn’t think this evil defiles and damns him.
Nope. Your basic satanist calls out Satan on purpose, kneels down before him and then offers up the living Christ in a consecrated host for his mockery and defilement.
The real mass re-enacts Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary for our healing. Heaven touches earth in a real mass.
Satan’s mass tries to crucify Him again for real, in order to seduce us into wallowing in the pit of despair and damnation that Jesus lifts us out of. It is an attempt to bring hell out of the shadows and down off the television screens and catapult Satan without the disguises, Satan as himself, into our daily lives. This is a mirror image of heaven touching earth as it does in the real mass.
All this black smoke and slimy terror seduces a lot of people. It seduces them in much the same way that pornography and illicit drugs seduce, by rewarding at first with voyeuristic titillation.
My message to you is simple. Don’t be seduced.
Don’t be seduced by petty voyeurism and actually go near this slimy pit of defilement.
And don’t be seduced into feasting your prurient fantasies on the whole situation.
This is not a movie. There won’t be spinning heads and levitating beds.
This is a sex offender worshipping the malicious presence that enjoys sexual violence because of the degradation and pain it unleashes. This is an unrepentant sex offender worshipping at the only altar where his actions will be applauded. This is worship of death, pain, suffering and human destruction by defiling the Lord of Life and bending the knee to the author of death.
The symmetry is exquisite, in the same way that venom, dripping off a fang is exquisite. It is ugly as hate, revolting as a charnel house and black as annihilation.
Do not be seduced by this. Do not focus on it or give it your attention. Focus instead on the true meaning of the Eucharist in which we all are welcome to touch Him and be healed.
Pray to St Michael. Pray your Rosary. Go to mass.
Think on Christ and His sacrifice, and the salvation He offers. Bask in the light that shines in the darkness and do not let yourself be seduced by evil.
Also, don’t be afraid. Satan has already lost. He has been cast out of heaven. On Calvary, the lies he used to chain us to our destruction were broken forever. This black mass is an expression of hate directed at God through us. Its mockery is the spite of a loser who has already lost.
The fact that it is happening is, more than anything else, the culmination of all the little black masses we have allowed for decades in our society, each one pulling the door a bit wider to let the blackness through
We’ve been calling evil good and good evil at least since the Final Solution. We claim that wanton killing is a “right” bestowed on the killer in the name of “compassion.” Rape, which is a direct attack on the life force and on Our Lady who represents that life force, has been excused, promoted and used as entertainment since the curse of the Fall.
For decades now, sophisticated Christians have denied Satan’s existence. I’ve had more than one member of the clergy tut-tut at me because I say that Satan is real and active in our world today. Now, after decades of working through us to do his harm, Satan is pulling off the mask and coming out as himself.
Do not be seduced into thinking this is a side show or a form of entertainment. Do not be seduced into focusing on the evil of this mass instead of the great light that shines on us from Calvary.
Scriptures tell us in 2 Timothy, For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
Trust that spirit of power to uphold you, give free rein to the spirit of love and exercise your God-given spirit of self-discipline.
Instead of running in circles and giving Satan your attention and thought, do these things:
1. Go to confession. I mean that. GO TO CONFESSION. Treat this time as a little Lent and get yourself cleaned up.
2. Forgive your grudges. Again, I mean that. Forgive anyone you’re holding a grudge against, and that includes your ex-spouse and the guy who fired you. Do not give the devil a toehold in your heart by clinging to bad feelings about other people.
3. Pray the Rosary, the St Michael prayer and the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
4. Show up for those processions Archbishop Coakley has announced. Be there and participate. Show solidarity with our Church and Our Lord.
5. Go to the Holy Hour Archbishop Coakley also announced.
6. If you do not live in Oklahoma, join us spiritually by going to Confession and Adoration and praying the St Michael Chaplet.
7. Read the Bible. Every day.
8. Go to mass. If Satan thinks so highly of the Eucharist that he wants to defile it this way, it must be important. You are cheating yourself if you don’t partake of it.
9. Never forget: This black mass, with its mockery and sacrilege, is a public acknowledgment and a testimony of how life-saving and important the real mass and Eucharist really are.
You have before you life and death.
It’s been cooking for months.
The question now is whether it will get out of the box.
“It” is the long-smoldering Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The box, of course, is West Africa itself.
Will a disease vector — meaning, an infected person — manage to infect someone else who is going to, say, Sudan, who infects someone else who is going to Egypt, who manages to get on a plane and end up in Instanbul?
There are many routes this disease could take out of that box. In this age of air travel and high mobility, disease can spread at the speed of a jet engine. But that is the worst one I can imagine. If, through one of the many routes available to it, this thing ends up unnoticed in Istanbul, the potential for it to go on to the airport in Frankfurt, and from there to the whole wide world is enormous. Istanbul is the roadway between Africa and Europe. Always has been.
That’s the nightmare scenario. It’s the one that tantalizes us like a real-life disaster movie as we watch this unfold. I’ve been reading about this killer disease as it has slowly built itself into an out-of-control epidemic for a long time now. The death toll kept rising, the affected area kept spreading. But it was slow. It sludged from one godforsaken arm pit of a country to another and nobody much cared.
The world has become inured to horror stories from Africa. We don’t know what to do about these things, and it beats us up to watch them. So we watch, feel bad for a moment, and then go on. What else can we do?
But the trouble with these human horror stories is that, if they are allowed to fester, they reach a critical mass and begin to spread. It doesn’t matter much if the illness is terrorist serial killers posing as religios, or an actual virus that we can only see with an electron microscope, the death and sickness will fester and smolder like a fire in the attic until it bursts out and takes somebody’s house down in a conflagration.
Ebola is out of control in West Africa. I read today that Sierra Leone is using troops to quarantine the sick. Medical teams from all over the world, but most especially the United States, are out there fighting the fight in their hazmat soldier suits. At the same time, frightened villagers have been known to turn on the docs and even burn down aid stations.
I’m guessing that these villagers have their reasons for feeling this way. But I don’t know enough to speculate what those reasons might be.
All I know for sure is that there’s a fight going on to stop a virus before it gets out of the box and begins a run down pandemic highway, killing a huge percentage of humanity as it goes.
I honestly think that the boys and girls in the hazmat suits will shut this thing down. It’s almost never the thing we see coming that gets us. It’s the blind-side that takes us down.
But the lessons in this horror story are obvious. You can’t consign any part of humanity to the waste bin and get away with it. Not forever. Like it or not, these people in West Africa are part of the human family. That’s why their long-smoldering virus scares us. Because what kills them will also kill us, and — here’s the big one — what kills them will spread to us just as if we were the same as them.
Which, of course, is the point. We are the same as them. Same DNA. Same human body. Same human immune system. We are them. They are us. These aren’t a bunch of infected bats or monkeys. These are human beings. Just like us.
And what kills them, can and will kill us.
There’s a moral here, and it’s not hard to find. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the blight of inner city neighborhoods, drug cartels in Central America or a killer virus in Africa, what happens to other people will come around and happen to us if we ignore it.
Take, for instance, the blight in inner city neighborhoods. Much — not all, but much — of that soul-killing blight is linked to the use of addictive and illegal drugs. These drugs come from South of the Border. The drug cartels south of the border, who are financed by our drug use north of the border, kill and terrify whole populations, who in turn head up north to get away from the violence and hopelessness. We, in turn, stand at the border with signs, yelling at them and telling them to go back where they came from.
We’re all connected. What happens to them, will bite us too.
A virus in the poorest and most hopeless countries on the poorest and most hopeless continent in the world is cooking up a storm that will kill a lot of us if we don’t shut it down. The immediacy and the terror of this virus has our attention and we’re doing what has to be done to get it stopped. We are racing against time. Hurrying to get this thing pinned to the ground before that one infected person takes a pickup ride into the Sudan and meets someone else who goes to Egypt, who talks to someone who decides to take a short flight to Istanbul.
Because if that happens, we’re staring down the gun barrel of a conflagration.
We. Are. One. Highly-Dysfunctional. Family.
That is not poetry. It is absolute biological fact.
My religious leader, Archbishop Paul Coakley has called for a season of “prayer, procession and benediction” due to the scheduled black mass here in Oklahoma.
Self-identified satanists have held a black mass in the Oklahoma City Civic Center for the past several years in a row. Last year, no one — zero — turned out for their little show. Hopefully, Okies will continue with this no-response this year.
Archbishop Coakley has called for Oklahoma 250,000 Catholics to join together in prayer, processions and attendance at Eucharistic Adoration in response to this black mass.
I am sure that your local parish will have events. Archbishop Coakley invites all of us to join him for prayer and a holy hour on September 9, at 3pm at St Francis of Assisi Church at 1901 NW 18th. That is the day of the satanic mass.
For my part, I would encourage Okies to participate in all these events. I sincerely hope that St Francis overflows that day.
There are also a few things I would ask you not to do:
1. Don’t obsess over this. Satan is alive and well and walking our world on two feet. If you doubt that, just watch the news. A black mass is just him, taking off the clown face and coming out.
2. Don’t engage with the satanists. Don’t talk to them or go around them. Stay away.
3. Ditto for the black mass. This is not entertainment. It is evil. Stay away from it. Do not go down there.
4. Do not make it the center of your thoughts or your activities. Keep your thoughts Christ-focused.
5. Pray and trust Christ. You cannot fight Satan, so don’t try. Let God do your fighting for you.
One thing we need to remember: The reason everyone from, atheists to satanists, attacks the Catholic Church is simple. The Catholic Church teaches the whole truth of Christ. Trying to make a mockery of the mass is a back-handed acknowledgement that the mass is real, the Eucharist is the presence of Christ. Satan hates Jesus. He also hates us. Mocking the mass is just the venomous spite of the loser in the great cosmic war.
Here is Archbishop Coakley’s letter:
Where do I start?
Last week was the best. I’m still a wee bit tired from it, still absorbing and processing it. Where do I begin to tell you about it? I guess I’ll begin with the high point.
The high point wasn’t spending time with my Catholic Patheosi sisters in Christ, although I can tell you that was a blessing all in itself. The high point wasn’t meeting other Catholic writer/publishers/artists from all over the country, although again, that was an immersion in generous and loving like-mindedness that this outlier in the Oklahoma wilderness has never experienced before.
Margaret Rose Realy, being interviewed by EWTN.
The high point, the Everest, of this entire week was the Thursday mass.
I almost didn’t go.
It had been such a full day. I “pitched” a book to an editor, presented an hour-long presentation and participated in a panel discussion. Between lunch and the panel discussion, I went to my room to take off my blazer and sat down in a chair.
Just for a moment.
I woke up an hour and half later. I had to scoot to get to the panel discussion in time and my neck was in permanent crick from sleeping pretzel-sytle in that chair.
Soooo, after the panel, I thought I’d just go up to my room, put on something comfy, order up room service and relax. No reason, I decided, to go to mass.
I got as far as the elevators, and in that hotel, the distance between our conference rooms and the elevators is a good hoof. I punched the up button. Then, while I was waiting for the door to open, I turned around and hoofed it back to the conference rooms.
I didn’t make a decision to go to mass. I just automatic-piloted my way down the hall, over the connector tunnel and then clomped down the stairs.
Father Frank Pavone, who was the celebrant, was already processing in when I slid into the last vacant seat on the back row between a couple of nuns and an elderly gentleman. I sometimes have mass troubles, and I braced myself, as tired as I was, for major mass troubles that day.
My mass troubles have been hitting me hard the past few months. What happens is that I sit in mass and am overwhelmed by a pounding sense that I am too unworthy to be in that room. It can, and sometimes does, reduce me to tears. It can and sometimes does, drive me away from mass. There are days when I get up and leave, mid-mass.
I’ve learned that if I can hang on and force myself to go forward and accept the Host, Jesus will heal me. When my mass trouble comes on me hard, I am like the woman with the hemorrhage who touched the hem of His garment and was healed, over and over, mass after mass, week after week.
But getting there, making it through mass without running away and then progressing up to the front of that line, many times making a humiliating spectacle of myself because tears keep leaking out of my eyes and dripping down my cheeks, can be an act of endurance, and, since I’ve learned that the Host heals, trust.
I’m like that woman from long ago, thinking If I can just touch the hem of His garment; if I can only touch Him; I will be healed.
I slipped into that room, sat on that chair at the very back, and, while I didn’t think it in words, the thought was there: I hope I can get through this. There was safety in that door, a few steps away. I could leave if I had to, before anyone was the wiser.
But, after months of this on-going battle with the devil every time I go to mass, this time was different. There were no hants rising from the swamps of memory, no feeling of unworthiness. It was just me; solid and whole, standing in a roomful of other Jesus lovers, participating in the sweet miracle of heaven touching earth in bread and wine.
I have memories of such a solid sense of self as I felt then, but I have to go far back to find them.
Father Pavone brought a gift to us at that mass. He had what I think he called a “First class relic” of St John Paul II. I’m not up on my relic rules, but I think that’s what he said. It was a small spot of blood on a postage-stamp sized bit of cloth. The blood came from St John Paul’s body the day he died.
Kathy Schiffer and Gary Zimak.
Father Pavone took the time — and it was quite a bit of time — to stand at the front of the room and give each of us an opportunity to venerate this relic. It worked out that I was the last person in the last line, the last one to do so.
I brought home a lot of work to do. I now have two books to write instead of just one, and I have a real hope that they both will be published. I’m not excited. I am … sure.
I am sure that this is what I’m supposed to be doing, and that Our Lord has both me and this work in the palm of His hand. This morning, while I was praying my Rosary, I felt St John Paul, sort of coaching me about what I should do. It neither surprises nor awes me that he came home with me from that mass.
That is the order of things. The spiritual world is as real and reliable as our physical world we inhabit in this life. An ice cube will melt in a glass of warm water. Always. And God comes to those who love Him. Always.
I’m telling you this intensely personal story for one reason. I want the people who are reading this post — and I trust that the Lord will send the right ones by — to know that, to paraphrase St Paul, nothing, not the things we do, not the things done to us, can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.
God uses us in the broken places. All we have to do is let Him.