Tag Archives: Easter

Easter Sunday and New Starts

Maybe this is the most globally relevant Easter of my life. There are few times in history when more of the world has been hoping for a deliverance, a triumph over death and a coming forth from a sealed place of inactivity. But it is a time when I am not going to church and millions of others with whom I am connected are not going to church.

Christ is risen. I watched mass from New York, cooked nice food but not to share. Had a chocolate bunny my Mom managed to get to me in the restrictions of  the pandemic semi-quarantine. Exchanged Easter greetings with many. It was not a bad day, a little sad. But the big news of the day is how much the celebration of Easter has been interrupted. The image of the church below was taken by me but not today. I have not left the house  and yard where I live today.
Donors Dinner 2014 -- cameraphone 058

The St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church Where I was baptized, made my First Communion and was wed.

 

Here we are at a place to remember Easter differently. Links to my home Parish mass are available on their website and a link to one of the hymns from the streamed social distancing Easter Liturgy is available   here . I am also aware that my family members in some numbers went to Easter Praise in the Pasture on our family farm where families were kept at least five to six yards apart. I was not invited and really have done less and less religious stuff each year — I do not know if I would have gone. Probably not. I would have been my own cluster. Really the holidays can be a sad time every  year and this year is sad in a more universal way. So I must say that as we all struggle with this great pandemic we have to know that this is a struggle for a new life. Just as the Resurrected Christ was always known by all Christians to be different than a continuation of the historical Jesus of Nazareth  who shared our human condition, in the same way what is born after surviving a crisis like this is always somehow new. We must try to make the reality that comes out of this better in some way. Right now I deal fully engaged in just trying to survive the current crisis and be in a position to continue what I already found to be a life that was often more bitter than sweet and more troubled and frustrating than peaceful and hopeful.

Christ Rises to a New Life

I am aware of all the suffering and know that I too may fall to this virus before all is over. But I am aware that I have to think most about coming out of this able to meet the demands of the new normal whatever they are. In this passage there is the Easter holiday and that is today. Let us praise as best we each can. Let us find the Alleluia we can sing. Easter on Earth was never about perfection for us but about rejoicing in a promise of which we had a great mysterious sign.

So may this spring be a season of new life and hope for us.

An Easter Sunday at Big Woods

Last night began with getting ready for the Easter Vigil with my parents, brohter and other friends scattered in the pews for Mass at St James Chapel. I had just returned from visiting a trip with my mother and my brother Simon. We went first to my sister Mary’s house where I gave my nieces and nephews five simple Easter baskets which I had prepared and then we wathced and ate snacks and chatted among the grown-ups and I dyed one egg while the little ones and their necessary adult supervisors dyed eggs in bulk. Then we went to Kisinoaks to visit my bedridden maternal grandfather.

The Easter Vigil Mass in the Roman Catholic Church is a magnificent and very beautiful ritual. This is true even in a little country chapel like St. James Chapel. The seven or so Readings from Sacred Scriptures, sung psalms, ritual of fire, marking of the Paschal light, lighting of candles, ritual of water and the prayers are all quite impressive. I went to the Good Friday services at St. Mary Magdalen in Abbeville and it is a much larger and more formal church but all churches are rendered special by these rituals.

We had only one Confirmation and no Baptisms in our small congregation but the mass still lasted quite a while. This morning I rose later than usual but not very late. I made the coffee as I usually do and shortly after the few of us had gathered in the living room I read one of the gospel accounts of the Resurrection and we sang a few hymns. Then we had a reveal of the Easter baskets belonging to those present and then we fought or “pac-pac”-ed Easter eggs and ate the losing eggs for breakfast with our Easter candies.

Later people began to arrive and more baskets were given out. My sisters Mary and Sarah were not here. Nor were there families. My siblings: Susanna, Joseph and John Paul were here with spouse and children. My parents, Simon and I completed the family and we had eight friends. For us this was not a very large holiday group and we had no extended family. The meal was rather fine I thought but not so formal and we had no servants although some friends are sort of part of the household and work here in nondomestic postions. My mother did all the cooking (or nearly so). We had turkey, lamb, broiled potatoes and veggies in gravy, rice dressing, plain rice, mint jellies and cranberry sauce. We had desserts not prepared by my mother that were little chocolate birds nests with candied eggs. We also had my mother’s pink bricks– a frozen fruit salad with a family provenance of some generations.

There was an Easter egg hunt after the meal for the children and we were otherwise engaed in visiting and cleaning up for ourselves. Everyone has gone home except Simon and my parents and I. I am relaxing in front of the television. I have left a few things out but it was a nice quiet Easter Sunday. I did attend to some online correspondence. I wish all of my readers a happy Easter.

Holy Thursday and Other Dates and Occasions

I am busy trying to do many things and watch the Vatican’s Mass of the Last Supper on EWTN. However I want to post this Facebook Note while I can:

Today is Holy Thursday. For many others as well as in memory for many who celebrate Holy Thursday this is one of the days of Passover. It is a time to remeber dates.

” On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the paschal lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where do you wish us to go to prepare the Passover Supper for you? ” He sent two of his disciples with these instructions : “Go into the city and you will come upon a man carrying a water jar, Follow him. Whatever house he enters, say to the owner, ‘The Teacher asks, Where is my huest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?” Then he will show you an upstairs room, spacious , furnished and all in order. That is the place you are to get ready for us.” The disciples went off. When they reached the city they found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover supper.” Mark 14: 12-16 New American Bible.

Later on Jesus would speak of having longed for this holiday feast. He would rejoice in sharing it withthose he did before his terrible Passion — in which he would be the Lamb of God. This holiday feast is essential to understanding the Eucharist, Breaking of Bread and Lord’s Supper which would take place soon and which we commemorate tonight. In the time since Jesus celebrated that Last Supper, the Christian Church has passed through many tirals and been near the Gates of Hell if not quite to them. Hammered by Roman persecutions, Barbarian invasions, Vikings, Islam, Communism, Nazism and a thousnd other threats it has produced a countless number of good effects across many centuries in numerous lands and places. It has gained knowledge, richness and tradition and been adorned with beauty in its history. However, there have been many bad things that have happened to it and within it as well. I want to discuss some of that badness in this note today.

Antisemitism, which in itself is a very imperfect term is really one of the great blemishes on Chrisitianity. That does not mean there are not intrinsic conflicts between the Jewish faith position which is not explicitly also Christian (and that has always been rare) and the Christian Church. However, the idea that somehow the Holocaust was a ong time ago or that it was within a great tradition in CHristianity are both absurd ideas. people slaughter eachother and are slaughtered and those without long status in a state homeland are most likely to be slaughtered and Jews fall into this category and often havein many places and this is a long-standing situation. But the Nazi extermiantion of Jews is the worst and most outlying expression of some very distinct and new horrors. While supported bny many baptized Christians Nazism was clear enough about the difference to be officially Anti-Christian in it policy and Philosophy. First get rid of the Jews and then get rid of Christianity was there clear plan. They knew Jesus was a Jew after all.

Some facts:
1. When Jews converted to Chrisitianity in medieval Europe the King was their godfather and a grerat feast was thrown.
2. Medieval Churches and early renaissance churches in Inquisitorial Spain and elsewhere were built with the sign of the Star of David often included. These churches had abeilief that the extant remains of the House of David were still royalty on Earth and had no trouble sseing how Jesus related to the House of David and struggled in his lifelong postion as regards the House of Herod.
3.For centuries all Christians knew that Jewish rabbis in a hundred cities instructed gentiles in the Septuagint or Greek Old Testament throughout the Hellenic world and Jews were respected intellectuals in much of the pagan Greek world. Those who studied but did not convert were called God-Fearers and it was in the God-fearer network that early Chrisitianity mostly spread. But modern Jews, Protestants and Anglicans reject the Greek version of the Old Testamant and the Greek Orthodox church has been much disabled by Islam and decimated by it and so there is no historic basis of understanding that is true to the origins of the Christian Church except in the tenuous and disturbed fabric of the Roman Catholic Church.
4. Rome has had recent centuries of the Church influence by the very poor heritage of Western Europe and Britain who now often find themselves ot good for Rome and lost much of its other constituency to Islam. It is able to conventiently forget that when the Holy Family fled into egypt they went to a city that was in a cultural and religious state of sophisitication which may be among the greatest ever achieved by mankind. They create a poor ,dirty persecuted Jew more and more as Western Europe loses its sense of all that formed the Christian experience.

Jesus was an Earthly Prince — Son of David. He was a Rabbi. He was a Craftsman. The scene quoted from Scripture above shows his sophisticated secret network and not a miracle. His Apostles carried some weapons even in heavily guarded Jerusalem and he had many followers. The later Medieval and early modern imitation of Christ as mostly poor and obscure is just antisemitic and antichristian nonsense. He did suffer poverty, homelessness and pesecution for good causes.He did accept crucifixion. I will not get to all of that now.

I see a few things also of interest in this year. Our family like many (but not the majority of) Christians will celbrrate a Pseder meal with lamb, bitter herbs and a translation of the ancient Hebrew words into the vernacularof our community (English). I like to try to do this and attend Holy Thursday Mass but sometimes I ctach the ealier broadcasts of the Mass where there is a conflict with this custom.

Spiritually, the Christian Church may be the spotless Bride of Christ but in many ways it is a train wreck. I say that with conviction, I simply think that it is still better than much else in the world even in its flawed human aspects. Some say kate Middleton has knon Jesish descent and if that is true I rejoice in the Anglicans joining her to the Prince in Westminster Abbey. It is worthy and Christian in ways they little understand I smugly declare. But I will hope the marriage goes well over the years and hold some judgement till then. America’s policy in support of Israel seems weak and confused to me. Our President and First Lady are not invited to the Royal Wedding I am told and our country also seems to be a mess. There is agreat deal of inter=relatedness of issues I cannot make clear here. I do wish we were supporting the growth and devlopment of Israel into what it can be. I do wish we had a sound British policy. I do wish we had a healthier Christian Church. However, I am still gratefull to celbrate Holy Week and Easter.

Happy Holidays to all of you. Happy Spring if nothing else. But if you have time while being happy to think about devloping our culture in more healthy and authentic ways — then I am all in favor of it.

Passover, Holy Week and the World’s Insane Savagery not always Progressing Civilization

“On the First Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples approached Jesus and said, ” Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat Passover?” Matthew  26: 17  NAB. During Easter and Holy Week Christians celebrate Jesus celebrating his national and ancestral holiday of the feast of Passover.  Jesus the Redeemer and Deliverer was celebrating a holiday of Delivery and Redemption when  he entered into the suffering and death of his Paschal mystery. According to the Bible the Hebrew had come into Egypt as wealthy administrators whose zenith was embodied in the man Joseph who struck  a shrewd deal to help Egypt through a crisis and secure his people’s survival. Perhaps ties to Hyksos Semitic elements before or after their dynasty and ties to lands as far away as Babylon and as close as Canaan enabled the early Hebrew clans to play a key role as a small part of the Egyptian society and economy. But things change. “Then a new king, who knew nothing of Joseph, came to power in Egypt, He said to his subjects, look how numerous and powerful the Israelite people are growing, more so than we ourselves! Come, let us deal shrewdly with them to stop their increase, otherwise in time of war they too may join our enemies to fight against us and so leave our country.” Exodus 1: 8-9 NAB.

The Hebrews are enslaved (although neither in the systems we have known relatively recently nor in the system for individual war captives in Egypt) and when that doesn’t do the trick infanticide is commanded to keep them down. Doubtless many Hebrews gave children to any Egyptian who would save them. One of those saved was Moses who became the deliverer of the Passover. There are no real vowels from which English translates his name in the oldest texts.   So we may say his name was Mss. The Pharaohs often had names like Ramses (Rmss) or Thutmose (Ttmss). As a Hebrew  reared as an Egyptian Prince he was doubtless possessed of the name of an egyptian God followed by the “mss” name. He then removed that Pagan first syllable and had a new meaning given to the last two syllables of that name perhaps based on an event or perhaps based on a wall known story of Sargon which was in the Pharaoh’s  Palace Library — and so his name tells a story. Moses’s struggles, spiritual journey and growing sense of Hebrew identity filled a period after he fled Egypt for killing an Egyptian and then returned to seek the deliverance of his people. Why would an atheistic team of scholars and scientists say he appeared to confront Pharoah at that time?  Many such say the story is made up. But I say they are lazy cowards.   

A man learned in all the vast science and wizardry of Egypt that an astute Princeling could learn there he added to it ties with Semite and nomads with old ties to his Hebrew Ancestors. He preayed and sought the help of God for a deliverance for his people. Through consultation and study steadied in prayer he became certain enough that a vast volcanic eruption was coming to the Eastern Mediterranean. The first shifting of plate and upheavals of the Earth came after he had already begun to prophesy to Egypt’s leaders. They found the water reddish and discolored and somewhat poisoned after the prophesied first quake. Hebrews rejoiced at this sign that their unique leader could predict the future. Frogs first, then gnats and then flies were driven from wetlands and wilderness and among the flies were stinging water creatures found in new puddles and flats. Moses preached and life got bad. Moses and his agents kept a sense of pace and theater building the tension and soon the bad water, gasses from fault cracks and rotting bodies and waste of insects led to devastating disease.

The Seventh plague of hail came as the first ashes coated with ice and snow stirred up storms with the early eruptions.  These storms stirred up unprecedented numbers of bugs that swarmed to escape the hostile climate. Then the Locusts descended on a blighted land. Finally the main eruption poured forth and the ejecta cloud darkened the skies for three days. Moses had prevented the Hebrews from being victimized in these terrible ordeals — perhaps sacrificed or eaten and instead had made them feared when he preached and predicted all of this. In the Wealthy Houses many if the Heirs lived in areas of the building nearest the outgassing inlets and as the Hebrews gathered to pray, plan, drill at arms and feast these died in their sleep.

Then the Hebrews moved away from Egypt and found water courses diverted and dams of debris creating dry corridors. The crossed over these and when the Egyptians had second thought s the waters were returning to courses and the armies were cut off surrounded, flooded and washed away by the returning waters.  The Hebrews followed a column of cloud near the coast by day as the cloud of the erupting volcano was visible and of fire at night as it glowed. Exhausted birds flying from lands devastated by the volcano fed them and the ashes fell down with humidity from the sea and caused little plants to produce food in the desert for flocks and people and this went on for a while and was called manna.  With courage and faith they risked it all in a world turned upside down and found themselves free at the end. Unfortunately many seminaries are either illiterate or else see only how fairy tales are similar to these stories.

Jesus was also a real man who really healed the sick. He really fed the hungry and preached and led crowds. He came to Jerusalem knowing he would die horribly with the endless courage that typified him and his life. He came among other things to celebrate the Passover. 

I do appreciate the glories of Egypt and Rome. I am not a romantic idealist purist who hates all trappings of power and pomp. But the great stories at the heart of  Judaism and Christianity are also about human greatness. These are not worthless fools serving a worthy God. This is God drawing near to his people.   

In recent posts I have been putting up a goodly number of more or less political postings.  In fact, the last half-dozen have all been political without an exception. I could have interrupted these to do a personal post on my brother’s wedding but I did not.  Having committed to this political expression I have decided to go on with the process for the immediate future. Everyone has got their discontents and their sense of what are the tolerable limits of their civic and social situation before they must take some kind of drastic action to change that situation or remove themselves from it. I am not arguing that whatever I will do is immediately and inextricably linked to what society as a whole will find to be the right and practical response. In fact, in may ways my own place is one of having lost that basic sense of trust in society which would be at the base and part of the very essence of such an assertion as I disclaim here. But on this holiday as we think of our civilization let us remember that civilization is more than power alone. Besides the unique and great criticisms of Moses and Jesus Egypt and Rome retained much of whatever habitability and decency they did retain because of others who sought more than just power in that sense and were also able people who could wield power.

Human Habitat,  Resources, Sex and Reproduction, Military Culture, Bio-diversity,  Really Understood Moral Hazard, Preservation of Momentum and Continuity of Resources are all themes I would like to address in my blog. I would like to draw near to a plan for reforming our society. However, I want to take a break to ponder God’s mercy in the redemptions we celebrate just now. As we move into SPRING, maybe a new springtime of a genuine and intelligent faith can find its way into our policy.

Happy Passover and Happy Easter.

Veterans Day

Today is Veterans Day. I think it is a sort of holiday some Americans would call a “No Brainer” which does not mean observing it shows that one does not have a brain but rather that even someone with no brains could see the need for it. We need to honor our Veterans.  We need to have a holiday in which we honor our Armed services. Of course, in point of fact, we have Memorial Day and Flag Day and the Fourth of July and Armed Services Day. I am not sure of the rank of all of these days but we are a society with few official holidays at the Federal level and at least Memorial Day and Veterans Day are really military and  Independence Day has strong military overtones. I want to thank all those who have worn the uniform of this country and especially those who have either killed or put themselves in real danger of being killed or wounded in the service of the United States. Memorial Day honors the dead and Veterans Day the living but I want to honor the dead as well. I especially want to honor the memory of my cousin Severin Summers who was alive last Veterans Day and lost his life in combat in Afghanistan this year.

I honor the service of all veterans of this country but I am going to post here a former Facebook Post related to Easter. Perhaps after the tragedy of the Fort Hood shootings we could all use some of Easter’s hope and renewal and I think that the basic message is especially relevant to those US service people who are Christian.  There are of course many of those.

So here is my Facebook post:

 Monday, April 6, 2009 at 11:28am |
Many of my fellow Americans are bearing arms in the service of their country in Afghanistan and Iraq.These are the countries in which the US is more or less officially engaged in a war. We have a large number of people, mostly young men who wear uniforms, follow schedules, bear weapons, drill, fight and kill as well as dying and being wounded in those two distant lands.

Perhaps they know Jesus as the Prince of Peace. I certainly know and honor Christ as the holder of that Title. Many of them are certainly Christians and it is to the Christians who serve in the US military that I primarily address this note. I think war should be avoided whenever it is right and possible to do so. Jesus said “I came that you might have life and have it abundantly”, can it be acceptable to Christian families to have their sons, daughters, wives and husbands far away causing pain and injury to other people?

Smaller numbers of Americans are bearing arms in service of the country which has renewed my passport in Korea, Germany, Japan, Cuba, and on ships and planes around the world. In addition there are far-flung bases on quasi-American soil or a least not state soil. Tiny detachments hold a position for our interests in American Samoa and larger ones in Guam. There are bases in very powerful and not so powerful countries with whom we have had historic ties — these range from the United Kingdom to the Federated States of Micronesia. Then we have a fleet of nuclear powered and nuclear armed submarines prowling the oceanic depths. This is an impressive amount of coverage for a nation’s military. I actually find the role of the military as an institution very interesting. However it is also true that I am interested in the way our troops are mentally affected by their service. I wish all American military service personnel well as military service personnel. That is a simple position for me to take. As long as I carry an American passport, have credits with the Social Security Agency and vote in our elections in Louisiana as it now and forseeably exists — then the USA is the country I support as mine and the very important role of the military in that national team is one I have to root for in their role. Some people in uniform are also brave, honest, decent and patriotic. I like those qualities. However, I do not cheer on our folks in uniform because I think they all have these qualities. Rather, I think otherwise.

Jesus said that no man born of woman was greater than John the Baptist although the least born to the kingdom of heaven was greater than he. John the Baptist told soldiers who asked him how to live that they should not steal and should be content with their pay. Is that the sum total of New Testament advice to young Christians headed off into harm’s way to serve their country?

It is important to understand that I never have served in the uniformed services of the United States. Further, it is quite possible that this is one of the more difficult things that I have ever attempted to deal with in writing. However, I would not deal with it at all if I had not reached just a certain point in the process of my life. I am able now to write about many things I hoped I would never want to write
publicly about in the way that I now do. In this note I am tagging some people who are not either Christian, military or American. I am not tagging anyone for whom I do not have respect but I am really addressing my self in my own mind to a certain audience or readership. I am really writing to Americans who are in the armed services and celebrate Easter as a religious holiday .Reflecting on my own life and spiritual journey I am sort of appointing myself a momentary e-chaplain to Christians in the American military. I certainly could avoid discussing war. However, it would not be easy to do all the other things and seek after all the other objectives that I seek after and not acknowledge war.

Jesus healed the servant of a Centurion who had been generous to the Jewish population and never criticized him for representing an occupying army. He told his disciples that when the Roman soldiers conscripted them to carry their heavy Roman packs one mile they should carry them two miles instead. That is where we get the English expression “going the extra mile”.

I think that Christianity is entirely relevant to the discussion of war and arms in the United States. I think that Easter week especially is a relevant time to join the two discussions. It may prove to be a very thankless task indeed. I think of my countrymen and women who are coming from the aging congregations of urban Catholic Cathedral parishes, small rural Catholic chapels, incense filled Orthodox churches in ethnic neighborhoods, hard-shell Baptist churches on red dirt roads near old sawmills and bait shops, Mega Churches with Protestant preaching and modern audio-visual equipment and the average sized Catholic churches filled with families. I think of young men of 17, 18, 20, 24, 25 and 27 heading off to boot camps, training, transports and war. I think of the secular ideas which guide so much of the military structure and the whispers and influences of men as diverse as George Washington, Hitler, Clausewitz, Mohammed, Mao Zhe Dong, Napoleon, Genghis Khan, Horatio Nelson, Andrew Jackson and Patton who may influence their thoughts about war. I have nothing against their learning from, and studying either the good men or the bad. However, I am driven against all sane reasoning to put down a few of my own thoughts about Jesus Christ and the Christians view of war and military service.

Jesus’s Apostles had nicknames, given names or nommes de guerre that included: the Rock, Sons of Thunder, the Zealot ( a member of a known military and anti-Roman organization) and were accustomed to life threatening situations. Crucifixion and stoning were among their regular subjects of conversation. Jesus also spoke prophetically of the coming siege of Jerusalem. Is this post of engaged observation all their Savior has to offer those who serve in the military and honor his name?

Over the course of these notes I have discussed my own life experience as it relates to this subject. However, I always repeat something from an old note in each note. I do not expect whoever chooses to read a given note to have read all the other notes. I think that it is a really difficult subject for me to deal with in conversation or writing. However, no subject is all that difficult for me to deal with. I am someone who communicates a great deal. Further, this is not the New York Times this is my Facebook notes section. It is more like drunken ramblings at a bar in some ways than it is like shouting and proclaiming from a podium. So I will try to summarize or paint a verbal picture of my background as regards this whole world of warfare. I will try to relate this to my own faith journey as well.

Jesus said ” Do you think I have come to bring peace to the Earth? I assure you that I have not come to bring peace but fire and a sword”. Is a sense of social revolution or social consciousness all these young people can bring into the upheaval of armed conflict from the one who is their model of perfection?

My grandfathers both served in the US military. I have a rather complex and rather large warrior heritage. It extends in varied directions. My mother’s father Cecil Bruce Gremillion served as a bombardier instructor in the Army Air Corp. My paternal grandfather served as an officer in the US Navy. He said he commanded a glorified private yacht in the Gulf of Mexico early in the war. Later he was part of the large fleet of vessels headed toward the invasion of Japan’s home islands when the atomic bomb ended the war. He used to say that although he saw some action in the Pacific his real anxiety was just as great in the Gulf. He said only once but with great passion that while in the Pacific he was well-armed and supported in the Gulf he and his next subordinate (perhaps an Ex. O. or a Chief I do not recall) sometimes referred to the yacht secretly as the “USS Sitting Duck” which had to do with his evaluation of the vessel’s capacity to take on a wolf pack of German submarines in full-out combat.

When Jesus was criticized for failing to keep some laws of the Sabbath by gleaning grain on that day he defended his behavior by sighting the example of King David who ate the Show bread because David was a king and he and his men were under the duress of warfare. Is Jesus’s example merely that of seeing his ministry in the pattern of military operations in his familial and national history?

I am a child of the sixties. I lived in New york and London in the 1960s and had relatives who were on élite college campuses during the heyday of the Peace Movement and the movement known as the Hippies. I never really felt that wearing black hats made some people bad and wearing white ones made other people good. I do not have the space and presume of the reader’s time enough to really cover the personal aspect fully. I am not a trusting blind supporter of the military or its policies. I would not describe myself that way at all. I am not ashamed of my own lack of courage or experience with conflict or danger. I would not describe myself that way at all.

So I wonder what I might say to those spending Holy Week and Easter in the forward zone or any other zone of the US military. First, I would say that Jesus did have you in his heart as he prayed for you that night in the Garden of Gethsemane because you are one of those who has believed. That is a great comfort in many ways. But it is also true that is evidence that God holds you to a personal standard. A Christian cannot believe that our personal lives and consciences disappear entirely into the duties and rights of a military force or a country. God will still hold you accountable for all that you do and become while you are in the services. God will not expect you to behave as if you were not a soldier, sailor, marine or airman but he still sees your heart and weighs your deeds. Of course when Jesus taught us to pray “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” he no doubt included martial trespasses in the economy of God’s mercy. God’s mercy is certainly a very big part of what we celebrate on Holy Week and Easter.

On Palm Sunday we remember Jesus, the Son of David entering the City of David. We remember that the crowds were shouting “Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Jesus had many who supported him his claims and his ministry.He did not shy away from leadership, rank or office and he was very open and brave.

So far everything I have written in this note is something I can live with and not regret. But now I am going to start the part that I already regret before having written it. In a sense all war is wrong and even military service. I say that as one who believes that in the Holy center of the Universes around the throne of God the angels wear and use weapons and are organized in armies. But ideally and perfectly there would be no war or planning for war. So I am writing this to an audience I want to encourage who at the same time I do not hesitate to say should ideally be doing something else. I look out at the world and the church today and feel that I too must do something immoral and which will stink in my conscience for a long time. I feel that I must reveal the some of the secrets of a society which has done great good and kept its secrets since the time of Jesus. I do not see Knightly orders, Popes,their Catholic Majesties of Spain or anyone else standing between me and this day. So I write what is precious to me hoping I am not violating Jesus’s injunction not to throw pearls before swine.

The secrets of our ancient order which I am going to reveal are hidden in the gospels themselves. Are there things hidden in the Gospels? It is a reasonable question.

“The disciples approached him (Jesus) and said, ” Why do you speak to them in parables?”
He said to them in reply, “Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you but to them it has not been granted, To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not even what he has will be taken away. That is why I speak to them in parables, because they “look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand”.” Matthew 13:10-13 New American Bible.

Jesus was, among all the other things he was, a warrior. He did not do many of the things that leaders who inspire others have done. He did not besiege or sack cities like Mohammed or his own namesake Joshua. He did not burn down the temples of idols like these same men. He did not rejoice in blood and mayhem like Genghis Khan or the Viking Pagans. Your savior was a warrior who took his joy in weddings, Passover feasts, the Eucharist he was founding, flowers, birds and children. He did not take his joy in the sufferings of others. Our age is very different from the spirit of that secret warrior Jesus but nonetheless in following the warrior’s path you are not straying from the path of Jesus’s own experience.

Josephus either implies or states that during the siege of Jerusalem the Jews turned to Cannibalism and ate one another. People eating other people is a huge and undiscussed part of human history and experience. It is one of the most important struggles of human history. Many societies have been proudly and openly cannibalistic. Many people in the world in 2009 are cannibals. Rome was a place where public law and morals condemned cannibalism. It was a place where officials would have been ashamed to admit to having dealings with merchants trafficking in human flesh. I know to my own satisfaction that here were non Jews eating and butchering Jews at that siege. By mentioning cannibalism at all, even blaming it on the Jews, Josephus put his own life at risk. In Rome there were a group of unofficial but sophisticated pirates who participated in the war machine by buying slaves on the cheap after battles and sieges as well as capturing all they could in the invaded country. They killed these people, often with torture and sport and then made sausage or pies out of them mixing the human flesh with pork.They made a very good profit on this in part because they worked the people as slaves before reducing them to food and extorted knowledge about the new lands fallen before the Roman banner. For this purpose they located large herds of swine near the lands to be destroyed in advance. They were wealthy, powerful, cunning, well-armed, possessed of assassins corps and called themselves demons. They had a handful of key agents throughout every Roman Imperial government. They were an order older than Rome itself and not entirely Roman. There were at least tens of thousands of men at arms at their command both in the Empire and in non-Roman lands. These were the enemies Jesus fought with 12 Apostles, 72 zealous highly trained disciples divided into groups of six for each Apostle. Then he had 38 reserve guards. All were also trained in charitable ministry and his preaching this was not a made up addition later on and yet with 133 part-timers(the ten not enumerated are my last nod towards a disappearing tradition) and the women officials and crowds who supported them Jesus opposed one of the most fierce and powerful forces ever to have existed.

The events of Jesus’s war are chronicled in specific events:
Event One:
Matthew 8:22-27 / Mark 4: 35-41
Jesus calms the storm at Sea

Event Two:
Matthew 8:28-34 / Mark 5:1-20
Jesus crosses the sea of Galilee
Demons are confronted
a herd of swine are destroyed
captive freed
Jesus leaves the region with the ones remaining very upset

Event Three:
Matthew 14: 13-21 / Mark 6;34-44
Jesus feeds 5000 people mysteriously
the disciples are instructed to collect all the fragments

Event Four:
Matthew 14:22-33 / Mark 6:45-52
Jesus is seen walking on the water with Peter.

Event Five:
Mark 8:1-10
Jesus feeds 4000 people. Mark makes it clear that these were multiple events.

Event Six:
Matthew 16: 21-23 / Mark 8: 31-33
Jesus begins to predict the Passion and Crucifixion in Jerusalem as inevitably the end of his life.

Jesus and his élite units used to wait for the worst storms on the Sea of Galilee. They crossed the sea in those storms under his fearless leadership. They opened the early pens located by the demons there in anticipation of the Roman destruction of the Jews and they liberated the prisoners. They then drove the pigs from the demons herds into the sea. Jesus was a carpenter and he located wooden butchering sites at hidden spots in the out in the lake. The crews would remove nets filled with rocks and the rafts would float to the surface. Then his crew would attach inflated pig skins and pig bladders to increase buoyancy. On these non free board platforms they would slaughter the pigs and butcher them into boneless slabs of fish shaped meats. They would dump the entrails, guts, bones and heads in the lake. Knowledge of these dumps enabled him to instruct fisherman as to where to put down their nets to get a great catch. Then they would cover the platforms with nets filled with rocks and arrive at shore near guarded ovens. Reusing fish bones from each feeding and buying distressed fish from other fishermen with knowledge of where great catches could be found they would take a breading and adhere two pork steaks to the fish skeletons. They mixed these porkfish with regular bread and fish and fed thousands repeatedly. This also attracted donations from those who wanted to contribute something and these resources funded a large ministry of healing and teaching. Jesus constantly taught that eating unclean food (such as pork) did not make someone immoral. Once Peter and Jesus were seen using these platforms it was inevitable that Jesus would be killed. He chose to make this happen in a very specific public way in Jerusalem and create pressures on the demons.

After cleansing the Temple, Jesus managed to give on last speech to a huge crowd before being arrested and killed. He said two things at once. To his disciples he said that he was the living water and if they recognized him and believed in him then he would flow out of their hearts and meet their needs for courage and peace of soul. To the handful of demon spies the same words literally were: if you recognize me from the stormy waters, I am the water that made your guards thirst no more and living water (blood) flow from their chest.

Jesus was not a great general, he had no palaces, published glories,nor vast armies and suffered more than he made his enemies suffer. He spent time healing, forgiving and seeking peace, he was humble and meek at many times (not always meek and almost never mild) but he was a warrior. In terms only of skill and bravery he was as he was at everything– arguably the best there has ever been. Yes, I mean that seriously. Your churches and mine may in the end condemn me for what I write and I think his contribution to war is lost in the mists of time. But your Savior has not left you as orphans in this world of war. There are no simple answers, no excuses, no blood lust but the Prince of Peace was a man of war and you need not doubt him as you celebrate his legacy in an armed camp.

Happy Easter! I hope this note which makes me so unhappy is useful to someone. I have no doubt that it is largely correct.

 
End of Facebook Post–
 
I wish everyone a good and pleasant veterans day. We are a nation in trouble in many ways but our military must play a key role in any chance we have for a better future.