Being on sabbatical is in some ways a treat. Reading, writing, reflecting on the Word of the Lord. Fielding phone calls, emails, and texts. Saying Masses for the good hermits in the woods of southern Mississippi. Adoring the Lord, praying the Office, reflecting on the life in the Spirit.
And as inevitably is going to happen in any such time of potentially sedentary activity the subjects of strength and fitness come up. One can’t live out in the woods and not have some level of physical activity that requires an alert body, mind, and spirit. Dodging the spiders and snakes alone means one has to be nimble as a deer. And walking the woods, trails, and roads is always a healthy exercise.
So this caught my eye on the Twitter this morning.
Comments attest that many confirm the shoulder solution, if thats the diagnosis.
How does one grow to such wisdom of years without knowing these simple facts of exercise and fitness? When you’re 6’6″ and looking down at a shorter world constantly, sometimes it’s all about the shoulders. And the neck, the back, and the core.
Here’s to staying well, being healthy, and holy. Will be working on some essays, reworking Social Media presence, considering this website, and other intriguing tasks of the day. ‘Til next time.
Accustom yourself continually to make many acts of love, for they enkindle and melt the soul.
St. Teresa of Avila
One of the many things we’ve successfully navigated, so far at least, in my time at St. Jane has been the ongoing renovation and maintenance of our aging facilities. With the church building going on 100 years old in a few years it definitely needed some work. With one of the rectories being just as old and being subject to the infamous rat infestation of that cold and dread winter of ought-17, it needed some work also.
Here, to your utter horror no doubt, are some of those long-buried pics which have finally been unearthed to tell the tale of the long, drawn-out, seemingly endless saga. Be warned! They aren’t for the faint of heart! That and this post is heavy on the pictures, so it’s basically easy reading and kind of like looking at the National Geographic, or Time-Life.
It’s OK to breeze through these. They’re just pics from the renovation sagas.
Clearly things had tipped out of balance with the grease streak that showed up after a funeral one day. It was a sign from Heaven and time to dig in and make some decisions.
Many people, I learned during this process, get very upset when you have to make decisions about things. No one wants to hear “No”, but at the same time they say “Do whatever you want!” And at some point you just have to do what you have to do. Thankfully as it turns out, whatever I had to do was the right thing to do, but only because I did tons of research into finishes for antique heart pine, asked everyone in sight what they thought, and rejected every sample of finish in favor of the one everyone including me thought was not the best when we looked at the actual samples on the floor itself in favor of the one I’d researched. But looking closely and imagining the larger picture, the oil finish appeared to be, and is, the best choice. So was hiring Kieth Guy to paint the sanctuary.
Your standard antique heart pine floors were originally finished mostly with oil. The beauty of oil is that they can be redone on the fly as spots wear down. Polyurethane needs to be sanded, stripped, redone – it’s a mess. Oiled floors need to be spot cleaned, oiled here and there as needed, and then wiped down. That’s it. It takes a few hours for any spots being touched up – which is only occasional – as they need to be done. I said a wedding uptown at St. Francis, a beautiful place with fantastic lighting, and their floors had been polyurethaned a few months prior. They were already scratched and worn in many places, with little they could do about them. Loba Impact Oil is a winner.
Most everyone had said to keep the carpet as it was too involved to get rid of it all. But the harder choice was to go with the historic renovation ideas and redo the floors completely. It works.
Gladness of heart is a well-finished project, and we eventually got there – or at least to a great place to take a pause. A contentious issues was a misunderstanding that I had with several parishioners who were going to do the renovations on their own very quickly. I wasn’t clear that’s what they wanted to do and walked in one day to see this:
On the other hand, I was at the same time dealing with the rectory mess, and some family trials, and trying to line up the historic tax credit before we really started in. We worked through it all, and ended up with this:
Done, it looks very good. It was a lot of work getting it there. I’ve posted pics here and there of all the work going on behind the scenes, though the pictures of the rectory renovation have never really seen the light of day. (Maybe … they should not?) But seriously, with such an important task going on, why was I so distracted?
The Rectory renovation.
The rectory renovation had me living in a property owned by the Archdiocese several miles away – a recurring theme at St. Jane given the original rectory in 2012 was 2.5 miles away in a neighboring parish and given our current property in Bush, which is at least in the center of the Parish, that has doubled as a rectory from time to time – for a good four months or so.
Let’s take a look at that, and view these never before seen photos of that horrifying, rat filled, time amidst the renovation dramas of ought 18. (Ought 18 isn’t a term, but it should be.)
Before the Rats
We can breeze through some of these. The rectory was a charming place to live back then, it’s just never been finished. Which is one reason I’m perfectly fine with being on sabbatical because that place will be painted and have some finishing touches finally done on it, even though the world may try to fall down around our ears and heaven and earth may try to pass away. They’re not going to do that before this project is done, is all I can say.
Fr. Peter the temporary administrator breezed through the rectory recently decrying it’s state and I said “Welcome to St. Jane!” He didn’t get it. But on the other hand didn’t have to say “Yes” when the Archbishop asked him to come out of retirement and administer our amazingly complex and large parish where nothing shows up on a silver platter. Had he listened, he would have heard me say umpteen times this little rectory needs painting, some work, et al. Having lived there amidst the renovations for several years, I’m not the one to whom to complain about it.
But let’s move on. Life is short and we should be enjoying it, after all. We’re all trying to be pleasing to the Lord, and life throws us imperfections all the time. We deal with them and move on.
The kitchen was a fun place to hang. By the end of the first week of January ‘18 I had seen 14 rats in this small room, contained by a Mount Everest of glue traps.
None of them made it out alive. I’m scarred.
The den was a once-popular gathering spot for friends and parishioners. I may be an introvert, but I do enjoy the healthy art of conversation. And what is that on the TV? Almost looks like a church renovation going on. 🧐
Add to the rats that my niece had just died, and it wasn’t the time for me to be 100% invested in any renovations. Gerry Fisher, God rest his soul, was the springboard behind that leap of faith.
Ok, a few more before pics. It’s a small cottage, livable and cozy when done right.
I actually own a lot of the furniture in the little place.
This place has definitely seen some work since this snapshot. Great memories though. The pounds I gained baking cakes and breads here for the staff and the coffee group. The dishes I washed!
The little home altar was difficult to use due to its size, but it did work when I said a private Mass. The piano was great to have but we realistically needed it in St. Jane Hall, where it lives today.
Life moved on, as it inevitably does
After the rats and the discovery that the walls were open to the ground, this is what we found when we started to tear the place up.
Covered in rat traps, like a levee that successfully stemmed the tide, this fireplace had been covered over and made into a very large closet -it was the only closet in the place. (Currently, there are no closets in the place.) The room it was in was the only storage room, which successfully held several shelves filled with everything that needed storing.
The chimney had been broken off and roofed over, and the passageway around the chimney was too small to realistically leave it where it was, so it was torn up and is currently known as the pile of bricks out in the driveway. Many have threatened to take them from us, few have chosen to do so… Still they remain, awaiting a new home in a new place, in a new time.
It really wasn’t pretty. The walls had been left open to the ground, which is how the rats got into the kitchen and from there into the attic.
Steel your selves.
The place was disgusting. This was part of the reveal as the place spiraled downwards in into the fullness of renovation efforts, full swing, which was also occurring at the same time the church renovations were commencing full speed ahead in the plan that I didn’t fully realize was going to be happening as quickly as it did. It’s why I said we needed to slow down to the horror of several.
That was right under the cabinets next to the stove. There was also a pipe leaking sewer gas over by the sink. Worse pictures exist. But really… the weather is getting nice outside and must we really dredge up all the horrors of that time?
Thankfully, the nightmare was as a brief phantasm and all resolved beautifully.
This is how the kitchen ended up looking. It’s a beautiful and remarkable testament to the skill and craftmanship or Ray, our Maintenance guy, and Mike and Pat, two of our Knights of Columbus. I did see rats dancing through it in my un-euphoric recall of the infestation. And I still remember seeing a rat dance across the top of the dishwasher. I could actually handle one rat, two even. Those things multiply like rabbits though.
The cabinets are from Lilly Ann Cabinets. They have great pricing, and the work is solid as can be. The flooring is a really cool “green” flooring that’s comfortable as can be and also durable and well priced. I’ll have to look it up though. And in fact, we have more around somewhere. St. Jane or St. Joe could use some new flooring here and there.
There’s that fine line in a rectory between durability and affordability. You want it to last and be along the lines of the neighborhood and the parish in general. You also want the pricing to be realistic. The granite countertops were donated by one of our wonderful parishioners who owns a granite company, and who had this leftover. I’ll show more on that at a later point, but the color worked perfectly with everything we had going on. T
The walls were eventually painted a bluish-white that looks very good also, as it brought out the blue in the floors. Our music director at the time pointed that out and chose the color – the color Ray and I chose looked like mud. 😳
And that – Praise God – is that.
For now at least. The renovations haven’t been finished in that some rooms still need painting and the wall in the back den needs finishing. It’s livable but lacks the storage room and closet of old. And it needs some attention in finishing – which was going to be happening right now and hopefully is, but if it isn’t it well… I’m on sabbatical and in love with my little hermitage here.
To close, here are the oiled floors again. It’s all a grand work in progress, and the 100th anniversary of the Church is in 2024. Hallelujah and praise God for that!
Be well, and enjoy the day. Life is beautiful when you have the patience for it. And if there’s one thing covid lockdowns is teaching us all, slowing down and having patience are beautiful things in life.
And He, meanwhile, has made the world, in all its seasonable beauty, and given us the contemplation of it, yet of His own dealings with us, first and last, never should man gain comprehension. To enjoy his life, to make the best of it, beyond doubt this is man’s highest employment; that gift at least God has granted him, to eat and drink and see his toil rewarded.
It’s impossible to know what was going on in Travis’ mind. We’re all being asked about him. It’s easy to focus on the negatives, but for the record, I’m more than willing to hear his Confession if he’d like to go, and he does have many good qualities – aside from his appalling and breathtaking association with the production of diabolically oriented sex videos.
It started so horrifically, and so simply as most awful things do, when the news broke on October 1, and word spread like wildfire as to what had happened. Clearly diabolic in nature, what the heck was he thinking? What happened? (Don’t look too far or too diligently, if you do, but “priest porn” is evidently a thing.)
When asked about him by various people, I only had a few things to say:
Sure, I knew him tho not that well. He seemed like a nice guy, tho quiet, which isn’t uncommon for a priest. What’s going around is that his nickname in seminary was Lurch, in an oddball way. Evidently, some in the seminary thought there were always problems with him, and aren’t overly surprised, tho I can’t see how anyone is not extremely surprised with the news.
He did a Mass as a Deacon at one of my assignments. And was later assigned nearby in the same Deanery for several years. We were on the Priestly Life and Ministry Committee together though he was unable to attend any of the meetings due to Deanery Meeting conflicts. His last assignment was at a neighboring Parish, tho it’s not that close as we’re such a large parish, territorially speaking.
He’s a kind guy and he seemed like a good man. He did a lot of work trying to reorganize the Serra Club on the Northshore. His former parishioners say he stayed up all night playing video games and was often tired for Masses in the morning. That’s unsurprising given his recent diabolic escapade. They were in the church at 11 pm and after, on September 30, with a scheduled Mass at 8:00 am on October 1. 🤢
The area is riddled with drugs, as is every area these days. Some consider he may have gotten into substance use issues based on his appearance in his mug shot. The area is also home to satanic activity, and there’s said to be much that goes on in the area in which he was pastor. Clearly, there is a diabolic element at play. Whether he was under the influence of some substance use doesn’t really matter, because the fact is it only gave him license to do something he was capable of thinking about rationally when he wasn’t under the influence.
Mindy Dixon did say she was on the way to town to defile a house of God, so he must have had a clue. I’m guessing they were videoing for a porn site, though I really did not want to spend a lot of time investigating that. Priest porn is evidently a thing, and perhaps someone should investigate that phenomon, as it no doubt involves other priests as well.
My thinking is that he got into something he wasn’t prepared to deal with, went with it without thinking of the consequences, and made international news. But the fact remains that he went with it. It’s too far out there to simply explain away, so he has no excuse in that regard.
The traumatizing tale was was picked up by the New York Post and others:
And by the Daily Mail.
And by the Mirror because clearly the Uk was fascinated:
On to Australia.
Back home, Archbishop Aymond sensibly burned the altar, though the UK remained glued to the story.
The burning of the altar met with mixed reactions. Some thought the church should be bulldozed and the earth salted.
Saints Peter and Paul catholic church became Steve Fecke’s spiritual home after Katrina and worked closely with former pastor Travis Clark to help record masses for the congregation during COVID.
Other parishioners described their former pastor as respectful, courteous, and humble.
“It’s very difficult to read and hear some of the things that transpired on an altar so to me it’s a welcome change it’s a sign of maybe renewal for our church,” Fecke said.
Clark was arrested in October on obscenity charges with Mindy Dixon and Melissa Cheng for having sex with the women on the church’s altar. Both identify as dominatrices on their social media pages. Fecke says hearing that news, betrayal was only the start.
“I ask people to keep our parish and our faith our catholic church in their prayers,” Fecke said.
After burning the old altar, Archbishop Gregory Aymond gifted a new altar to the church from the archdiocese.
“His behavior was obscene his desecration of the altar is demonic,” Aymond said.
The women involved have spoken out, especially vocal is Mindy Dixon, who goes by the name Lady Vi, and also goes as the Satanatrix.
Mindy Dixon, 41, and 23-year-old Melissa Cheng traveled to Pearl River, Louisiana, for the session with Reverend Travis Clark, 37, at the Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church after hours on September 30.
The dominatrices, both dressed in corsets and high-heeled boots at the time, were arrested alongside the priest, and the trio were charged with obscenity. Following the arrest, Clark, who was ordained in 2013, was suspended from the archdiocese….
Cheng and Dixon insist that they were innocent because all parties were adults, and the incident took place behind closed doors on private property – and that it was the passerby who looked in who was to blame.
Dixon, based in Seattle, reacted to the news by posting on Twitter a gif of a horned red devil dancing in a sexually suggestive manner, captioned: ‘This is my official f***ing statement.’
On her website Dixon, who lives with her husband and their pug, Lily, goes by the name Lady Vi.
She describes herself as ‘the embodiment of sin exquisitely crafted into flesh and bone’ and promotes her dungeon and S&M catalogue, emphasizing that she does not have sex with her clients, and nor will her clients be allowed to touch her.
The IBT has a good story on both of them, thought the DailyMail is pretty specific.
Heavy helps fill in the story on Melissa Cheng.
Cheng tweeted on October 5 that she was going on vacation to Mexico. Cheng said that she needs “a proper vacation after being so traumatized.” On October 7, Cheng tweeted that she had “been through a lot these past few days.”
According to various posts on the dominatrix news website HogSpy, Cheng frequently tours around the United States. Over the past 12 months, Cheng has offered her dominatrix services in Detroit, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles.
As well as more – if you can imagine – on Mindy Dixon.
Dixon describes herself as a “Sadistic, sin-seeking, corruption Domme who craves authenticity in scene and service” on her website. One review of Dixon’s work says, “Lady Vi, and the Church of Satanatrix, are perfection. I put myself into her hands and was treated to an experience like nothing else.” The website lists prices of $300 for a one-hour session.
Dixon writes in another section of her website that she is a satanist and established a church known as Satanatrix. Dixon says the church “a way to combine my religious ideology (Satanist) with my personal and professional calling (Dominatrix).” In that section, Dixon says that “Religious role-play scenes are incredibly hot. I love exploiting shame and playing with deep-rooted religious guilt.”
The Kingdom of God is the victor in the battle against evil. As Jesus pointed out to satan, “It is written”, “Have you not read?” The Lord has already spoken. It doesn’t mean we’re safe from the attacks and wiles of the enemy – far be it from remaining so easy a thing.
Still, it’s simple. Because those who seek the Kingdom of Heaven will find what they are looking for. And the Lord provides for our needs, our safe shelter – we can become hidden in Christ until He who is our life appears in glory.
There’s an old German proverb having to do with an elderly man coming downstairs in the middle of the night, after hearing some sound or other, and seeing satan himself seated in the living room before the fire. “Oh, it’s just you,” he says, and returns to sleep. He knew he had more power and all protection.
St. Benedict of Nursia is also a great intercessor, with beautiful prayers. It’s difficult sometimes, putting yourself out there for Jesus Christ, especially if you’re sensitive to spiritual phenomena and don’t care to invite more attention than you already do as a Christ lover. But now’s the time for it.