What a saint! What a life! And oh my goodness, what a story.
Catholic.org paints Callistus as being maligned and slandered by a jealous rival in a tale fraught with drama and intrigue. “Callistus came to power during a crucial time of the Church. Was it going to hang on to the rigid rules of previous years and limit itself to those who were already saints or was it going to embrace sinners as Christ commanded? Was its mission only to a few holy ones or to the whole world, to the healthy or to the sick? We can understand Hippolytus’ fear — that hypocritical penitents would use the Church and weaken it in the time when they faced persecution. But Callistus chose to trust God’s mercy and love and opened the doors. By choosing Christ’s mission, he chose to spread the Gospel to all.”
The only story of his life we have is from someone who hated him and what he stood for, an author identified as Saint Hippolytus, a rival candidate for the chair of Peter. What had made Hippolytus so angry?
Hippolytus was very strict and rigid in his adherence to rules and regulations. The early Church had been very rough on those who committed sins of adultery, murder, and fornication. Hippolytus was enraged by the mercy that Callistus showed to these repentant sinners, allowing them back into communion of the Church after they had performed public penance.
Callistus’ mercy was also matched by his desire for equality among Church members, manifested by his acceptance of marriages between free people and slaves. Hippolytus saw all of this as a degradation of the Church, a submission to lust and licentiousness that reflected not mercy and holiness in Callistus but perversion and fraud.
Trying to weed out the venom to find the facts of Callistus’ life in Hippolytus’ account, we learn that Callistus himself was a slave (something that probably did not endear him to class-conscious Hippolytus). His master, Carporphorus made him manager of a bank in the Publica Piscina sector of Rome where Callistus took in the money of other Christians. The bank failed — according to Hippolytus because Callistus spent the money on his own pleasure-seeking. It seems unlikely that Carporphorus would trust his good name and his fellow Christians’ savings to someone that unreliable.
Whatever the reason, Callistus fled the city by ship in order to escape punishment. When his master caught up with him, Callistus jumped into the sea (according to Hippolytus, in order to commit suicide). After Callistus was rescued he was brought back to Rome, put on trial, and sentenced to a cruel punishment — forced labor on the treadmill.
Carporphorus took pity on his former slave and manager and Callistus won his release by convincing him he could get some of the money back from investors. (This seems to indicate, in spite of Hippolytus’ statements, that the money was not squandered but lent or invested unwisely.) Callistus’ methods had not improved with desperation and when he disrupted a synagogue by shouting for money, he was arrested and sentenced again.
About nine or ten years later, the new pope Zephyrinus recalled Callistus to Rome. Zephyrinus was good-hearted and well-meaning but had no understanding of theology. This was disastrous in a time when heretical beliefs were springing up everywhere.
One minute Zephyrinus would endorse a belief he thought orthodox and the next he would embrace the opposite statement. Callistus soon made his value known, guiding Zephyrinus through theology to what he saw as orthodoxy. (Needless to say it was not what Hippolytus felt was orthodox enough.) To a certain extent, according to Hippolytus, Callistus was the power behind the Church before he even assumed the bishopric of Rome.
When Zephyrinus died in 219, Callistus was proclaimed pope over the protests of his rival candidate Hippolytus. He seemed to have as strong a hatred of heresy as Hippolytus, however, because he banished one of the heretics named Sabellius.
When you think you’ve had enough of Church drama in the 21st Century, it’s always helpful to simply look back into centuries past and see they had it just as bad.
And just as good.
We live in an imperfect world, and we always have to work at correcting injustices and imperfections. With grace, we look deeper into ourselves and our own lives, because the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand if we have eyes to see, and ears to hear.
Once England had fallen to the Protestants we stopped thinking of the saintly men and women who hail from the fascinating little island across the ocean. (What must it be like to grow up in a small town with a city like London a few hours away, and access to the best of everything – the best practices in music, literature, arts, theater?)
O God, Who crowned blessed King Edward with the glory of eternity, grant us, we beseech You, so to venerate him on earth that we may be worthy to reign with him in heaven.
Collect from the Mass of the Day
Edward’s a fascinating man. We’re on a first name basis, too, in case you wondered.
Think of Edward the Confessor, and you’ll probably imagine an old, grey king, approaching death. This is how we see him depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry, in iconography inspired by his saint’s cult, and in TV dramatisations of the Norman conquest. We think of Edward the saint, preparing his soul for heaven, and we regard his reign as a prelude to the more exciting events of 1066. Like Charles Dickens, in his A Child’s History of England, we quickly pass over “the dreary old Confessor” to get to “the brave Harold”. Edward has become linked in our minds with the decline of Anglo-Saxon England, Harold to its final defence. Yet Edward’s reign is the key to many mysteries, including how England came to be conquered.
Reputations can be misleading. It can take centuries for historians to rewrite them. It was Edward himself, or his courtiers, who planted the idea that he was a holy king who worked miracles. This boosted his mystique. Later, his image was reshaped by medieval monks who wanted to portray him as one of their own. Reinventing him as a ‘Confessor’ (a saint who ‘confessed’ the faith by virtuous living), they created a cipher who was revered by pious monarchs, notably Henry III. Edward came to be seen as an otherworldly king, more interested in preparing his soul for heaven than in governing England. The idea soon grew that Edward left the business of ruling the kingdom to his earls, chiefly Godwine and Godwine’s son Harold.
But Edward is far more than the man behind the reputation built for him by monks of later centuries.
Edward now began driving home the message that he was a saviour, sent by God to resurrect the ancient line of kings and usher in a golden age. He proclaimed these ideas by the original means of including the word ‘PEACE’ on his inaugural coinage and by delaying his coronation by almost a year, to hold it on Easter Day 1043.
The Christ-like symbolism was striking. Returning from the grave of exile (which was often likened to death), Edward came to redeem his people from Danish captivity. Peace was a manifesto that he intended to implement. According to his contemporary biographer, one of the first things Edward did was to arrange peace treaties with the lesser kings or princes of the British Isles, and with the neighbouring powers who shared Britain’s seaways. Meanwhile, he rewarded the agents who had helped him, including Earl Godwine, and punished those who had not, such as his mother, Emma. Harthacnut was dead of course, but Edward punished him for presuming to occupy the throne by ensuring he was given a bad write-up in the chronicles.
A courtly writer observing Edward at the beginning of the reign in 1042 remarked that he was a good man and a perceptive one too. Nearing 40, the king was no longer a youth. His biographer, writing at the end of the reign in 1065, described him as a man of vigorous action. Another contemporary, at the abbey of Bury St Edmunds, regarded Edward as an energetic man, always busy for the benefit of present and future generations. Barlow, who saw Edward as a king “who never searched for work”, appears to have overlooked this evidence, which contradicts his thesis that Edward was lethargic and uncommitted.
The Vita Ædwardi Regis – a manuscript dating to 1100 and now residing in the British Library – writes of him:
“He was a very proper figure of a man – of outstanding height, and distinguished by his milky white hair and beard, full face and rosy cheeks, thin white hands, and long translucent fingers; in all the rest of his body he was an unblemished royal person. Pleasant, but always dignified, he walked with eyes downcast, most graciously affable to one and all. If some cause aroused his temper, he seemed as terrible as a lion, but he never revealed his anger by railing.” This, as the historian Richard Mortimer notes, ‘contains obvious elements of the ideal king, expressed in flattering terms – tall and distinguished, affable, dignified and just.’
He was tall and pale, also distinguished, affable, dignified, and just. I can relate – he’ll make a perfect study for my sabbatical theme of composure.
His tomb is located in Westminster Abbey and is a well-worn place that was, and still is, the center of pilgrimages throughout the centuries. A beautiful place to visit, and I was able to do that once.
He lived with his wife Edith in Westminster Abbey, which he also built. The Abbey was later and famously rebuilt starting in 1245, in the form it still has, and finished in 1269.
The 13th of October marks the day his remains were translated – transported, or moved and reinterred from their original location – to the present Abbey.
The Abbey itself has an impressive article on Edward and his lovely wife Edith.
They were both Catholic of course. Here’s a link for information on a Requiem Mass done for Edith a few years ago at the Shrine of St. Edward, in the Abbey.
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.
In Spiritual Theology, the landmark work of Fr. Jordan Auman, the author speaks frankly of the necessity of studying observable psyhological phenomena as we progress through the spiritual life, as we learn from those who have gone before, and as we study the writings and lives of the saints.
Thus, spirituál theology deals directly with the psychological data of the spirituál life, and in so doing it adds to the principles of moral theology the experiential or existential element that constitutes spirituál theology as a combination of speculative and practical theology. To summarize, spirituál theology comprises three elements: (1) the psychological data of spirituál experience; (2) the application of theological principles; and (3) practical directives concerning progress in the spirituál life with a view to Christian perfection.
To some degree, psychology is helpful.
But like philosophy, and unlike theology, psychology can be used to justify just about anything. So you have to be careful when looking it over.
It can be useful for understanding the dynamics of the spiritual life, and especially for understanding the actions of toxic personalities, that tend to exhibit the characteristics of the dark triad – some of whom inhabit, and manipulate within, the Church freely, as most people consider that everyone involved in the Church is operating out of charity, hope, and faith. It’s not an unusual phenomenon in the least – you can check the headlines over the last few decades to give yourself an idea of toxic personalities at work in the Church.
They seek to divide, to destroy, to ruin, to control. It doesn’t matter why, as it’s usually based on their own unfulfilled wants, or evil desires. And, they know they can get away with it. They enjoy it.
Understanding Dark Traits
People with these traits tend to be callous and manipulative, willing to do or say practically anything to get their way. They have an inflated view of themselves and are often shameless about self-promotion. These individuals are likely to be impulsive and may engage in dangerous behavior—in some cases, even committing crimes—without any regard for how their actions affect others.
While many researchers consider psychopathy, narcissism, and Machiavellianism three distinct traits with overlapping characteristics, others believe the commonalities suggest an underlying personalityconstruct that has yet to be fully understood.
How is psychopathy related to the dark triad?
Most researchers consider psychopathy—a trait characterized by a lack of empathyand remorse—to be the “darkest” of the Dark Triad, in so far as psychopaths generally cause more harm to individuals and to society than do narcissists or “High Machs.”“Psychopath” is not a mental health diagnosis; the disorder that most closely represents it in the DSM is antisocialpersonality disorder.
What is Machiavellianism?
Machiavellianism is not a mental health diagnosis; rather, it’s a personality trait describing a manipulative individual who deceives and tricks others to achieve goals. It is based on the political philosophy of the 16th-century writer Niccolò Machiavelli. Some evidence suggests that of the dark traits,Machiavellianism is most closely tied to high intelligence. If a psychologist refers to someone as “High Mach,” it means they behave in a highly manipulative manner.
Recently, researchers have begun to hypothesize that a single core factor—classified as “D”—may underlie many different negative traits, including those in the Dark Triad as well as sadism, entitlement, and others. “D” denotes a tendency to maximize one’s own desires at the expense of other people’s.
What is the “Light Triad”?
Researchers have recently begun to study the so-called “Light Triad” of traits: faith in humanity, humanism, and Kantianism. The theory is often framed as the opposite of the Dark Triad, and hinges on the belief that people are inherently good and should not be treated expediently.
Our spirituality is based on the imitation of Jesus Christ
We do that by meditating upon his life and teachings, often through the eyes of his most blessed mother. Filled with the Holy Spirit we are able to grow in supernatural wisdom, fear of the Lord, understanding.
I’ve brought up the Myers-Briggs personality type assessment recently because it’s the most widely used personality type system in the world and is used by many businesses, universities, churches, etc., to help understand each other’s differences, and one’s own preferences, strengths, and weaknesses.
I’m an INFP, which is uncommon, especially in men. I can be difficult to get to know, write a lot, am good with the big picture, irritated by the details, etc. I can postpone important work to make it more of an adventure when I finally get around to it under pressure.
It’s insightful and can be very helpful. Beyond that there’s quite obviously our life in Christ, putting on the new man, and cherishing the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
So many videos on YouTube,
So little time.
And because everything has a dark side… we’re not always great when we’re super stressed, or when you’ve finally poked the bear too much.
We’re seen as peculiar. 🙄 But we’re actually a treasure.
I prefer reading Scripture, Adoration, meditation, and contemplation. The daily task of praying the Divine Office, while a beautiful treasure, is also the type of highly structured routine that does not resonate with me, and a struggle. I prefer the Extraordinary Form, which is essentially a more introverted prayer for the Priest.
I’m going to be learning more about it for continued ed, and also working reading, studying and praying with Catholic spirituality – which I was doing prior to the Extraordinary Form arriving at St. Jane and had to learn – a lot.
I pray all are well. Lot’s of people are coming down with the Covid, they all are saying it’s not that bad. One was out mowing lawns in Bush. 🤷🏼♂️ Whatever works!