“Satan, Haunter of the World, is Haunted by Holiness”

| 11-02-AD2013 | [42]

Jamey Brown - Satan, Haunter

I don’t go to Halloween parties. I drive a cab in New York City all night and I witness a freak show every night of the year. Not everyone mind you, just the ones dressed in their fantasy costumes of a rock star or a Goth or a princess or a cowgirl or a barbarian or an artist or a hippie or a harlot or a witch or a Neanderthal or a space alien or a mental escapee. None seem to be afraid of hell and most don’t believe in the devil, although a few worship him.

Sometimes I think this is my penance for a wild youth acting just like these folk, with my guitar, long hair, bell bottoms and bare feet—drunk, stoned and stupid singing Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changin’. Yes the times really are a-changin’ when a former honor student and tight end on a championship football team would practically kill himself with drink and drugs a few years later. And they are still doing it today. In many ways the times are not a-changin’. The ’60′s Culture of Death is still wreaking havoc on our sons and daughters and on us. To be sure, there are many, many fine people in New York, but after midnight Cinderella’s fine coach often turns into a pumpkin, and these pumpkins are not smiling.

I am reminded of a quote from The Cure’ D’Ars Today by Father George Rutler, Doctor of Sacred Theology, and my Pastor at the Church of St. Michael in New York City.  He is also the Administrator of the Church of Holy Innocents:

The chief strategy of Satan, as Anti-Christ, is to persuade people that he does not exist … Satan, haunter of the world, is haunted by holiness … St. John Vianney [the Patron Saint of Parish Priests] dealt with the Prince of Lies with ridicule.  He would make the Sign of the Cross and then say something to ridicule him. [And it works]. With holy nonchalance and the wit which is evidence of moral balance challenging imbalance, Vianney nicknamed the devil a ‘grappin’ which means a little rake which scratches.

Once during a confession the room shook violently almost knocking the young student and the Curé to the ground. Vianney steadied the boy and told him, ‘It is nothing. It is only the devil.’ He then told the lad that he must become a priest, which he eventually did. ‘My excitement was still very great, and I must admit that I never went to confession to the Cure’ D’Ars again.’

Neither would I if the eternal battle “against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world” (Ephesians 6:12) was fought out right in the Confessional with me and then a priest, who most people already regarded as a saint, told me I must become a priest.

This battle still goes on with sin and evil. How do we tell them apart? Archbishop Fulton Sheen said this week on Catholic radio, “That a sinful person commits sin, but an evil person tries to destroy the good in others.”

It sounds like in our dealing with the enemy it’s good to keep a sense of humor, and a sense of ridicule. A little Holy Water helps too. I take some in my cab with me and sprinkle a little on the front and back seats. I also try to resist caving in to the evil by turning up the volume on the Catholic radio station playing on my cellphone if the riders’ talk gets too loud or immoral. Oh what a comfort to hear Mother Angelica on EWTN or Archbishop Sheen or Al Kresta talking holy words in the front seat next to me, and who knows? Those words just might soften some hardened heart in the back seat, or be just the right words at the right time to save their life, or their soul? Often I try to engage people in conversation. Maybe tell them a little about my story, and my story centers around my resurrection—my conversion to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Any subject reminds me about something of the Catholic Church. A man from Algeria and I were talking and of course I brought up one of my favorite writers St. Augustine from modern day Tunisia and how he had one of the greatest minds I had ever read, so deep and honest. When we got to his party’s destination, a tavern—excuse me, now they’re called “night clubs”—someone in the back seat punched a few buttons on the pay machine and they all parted in a very warm way. I then realized that they hadn’t paid me, which can happen if you press the wrong buttons. I was about to go after them in a very friendly way when the man came back out and said, “You know we were asking each other who paid? And I don’t think we paid you.”

“You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar,” said St. John Vianney the Patron Saint of Priests.

Any conversation brings up a thought about the Catholic Faith. Mention the subway and I tell them about the time the train stopped running when I was on my way to church and I panicked but luckily I remembered the church nearby—ironically it was the Church of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs where I had knocked on the red rectory door in 2007 to begin my Catholic conversion after asking a nun in my AA group how I could become Catholic? “Knock on the rectory door and they’ll tell you what to do.” The words that would bring me a joy beyond my wildest imagination–something infinitely and eternally more than any drink or drug ever did.

Sometimes I hesitate to say what I’m thinking but I have to fight that fear and I can say it in a kind, nonjudgmental, non-bombastic way. Talk about the cold weather and I tell them the story of how the cold had warped the neck of my guitar on the way to Bible Study. The guitar had been given to me by a man who had fought at D-Day and France and North Africa and Italy. I think that he is in heaven now as are all who fought that war against evil. And of course a Jewish rock musician—also a cab driver—told me how to fix it with Elmer’s Wood Glue and a clamp. He might not have been here today if Corporeal George Spilgis and the other “dog faces” including my Uncle Boonie Brown hadn’t stormed the gates of hell at Omaha Beach June 6, 1944 and liberated Europe and the concentration camps. Georgie’s guitar is fine now, still playing Tantum Ergo and my all-time favorite Ave Verum Corpus—one of the world’s longest running hits—650 years! Written by Pope Innocent VI (d. 1362), it is still played on CalmRadio.com. I just talked to Georgie’s daughter and she reminded me that he died four years ago on Halloween. Rest in peace, soldier. I can’t believe—well yes I can—that I would think of him in an article on the anniversary of his death.

Most any conversation will call up a G.K. Chesterton quote. One of my favorites for the secularist crowd is, “Right is right, even if nobody does it. Wrong is still wrong, even if everybody is wrong about it” (Illustrated London News, May 11, 1907). He wrote that in 1907 in Post-Victorian England. Can you imagine what he would say today? At first I thought that he would become a barefoot monk living in the desert—with a notebook of course, maybe even a Notebook. But then again I think he would still be a journalist fighting Satan and all his wiles, with pen and word and deed. He would be big on Pro-Life I am certain because he was big on it until his death in 1937.

I try to keep his uproarious sense of humor in all my battles with the Culture of Death. I slip many times, of course, but calling up some of his or others’ great quotes reinvigorates me. And we’ve always got Holy Scripture, the foundation of what Augustine first called the City of God on earth, Holy Mother Church, which of course is Christ on earth.

And I try to remember that we’ve read the Book and we know how it ends—Christ wins, Satan loses and he knows it and that’s why he’s so mad—because we’re so glad!

About the Author:

Converted in 2007—the greatest day of my life—by the miracle of EWTN. Off the drink and drugs for 17 years—by the grace of God. Bible Study group leader and guitar player 5 years. RCIA assistant leader 2 years. Former atheist and then a crystal-gazing New Ager. Former musician (guitar) raised in Indiana, now I use the big bucks I make writing Catholic blogs to finance my dream of driving a cab in New York City.
Filed in: Faith
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  • james

    The cadence of your prose reminds me of Igor Stravinsky’s ballet-suite Le Sacre
    du printemps and how all the people went ballistic 100 years ago when it was first
    played because the Victorians imputed the devil in the score and dance. So they
    ran him off the stage and out of town and it was 10 years before he was able to
    come back – when everyone realized it was just music and very good composition
    at that. And then there’s Sinatra who loves this city that never sleeps, and you,
    whose mission to evangelize is commendable. Looking forward to more cab stories.

    • jamey brown

      Thank you. That’s very kind of you, James. It meant so much to me. It is very inspiring when someone likes your work. I don’t know Stravinsky’s work. I will check out his cadences.
      Yes, New York, the city that never sleeps–that’s why it can’t make good decisions. But all I can say is, the stress of this city, this crucible, brought me to our Lord Jesus Christ 6 years ago–the greatest event of my life. It has given me such unfathomable joy and I want to share it with others.
      Cab stories?–I’ve got tons.

    • james

      If you do find Stravinsky make it his Firebird Suite – it’s your story.

    • jamey brown

      Thanks, James, for telling me about Stravinsky. I found a new composer I like. The Firebird folk tale is interesting and could be interpreted myriad ways, and one way is a resurrection story, and that would make it my story indeed. I think it could possibly be developed with a Christian slant by some artist. Is the bird, or the princess, or Ivan Christ? Le Sacre du Printemps is very beautiful. I’ve been listening only to Gregorian chant and Polyphony this year, but if I were to listen to a second choice, this would be it.

    • james

      And if you get to Stravinsky’s Petrushka you will hear what I
      believe is his most brilliant work of all. So glad you enjoy, it is
      not easy to wrap your mind around atonal music. God bless.

    • jamey brown

      I will check it out. I didn’t know it was atonal. I wonder if nature is tonal or atonal? I’ll check that out tomorrow when the mourning doves & pigeons I feed at my window come out. Offhand I’d say the coos of both are tonal. Other bird’s songs might be atonal.

    • james

      Even his beautiful choral / orchestral composition Symphony of Psalms which he wrote for the glory of God.and the BSO’s 50th
      does not sit well with folks who are unable to digest.atonal music

    • jamey brown

      It sounds like praise of the majesty and power and goodness of God to me, and deep thanksgiving. The discordance doesn’t bother me because it’s meant to be heard in a concert hall, not at a Mass. There are many ways to praise God–with a soft Gregorian chant, a waltzing lilting Irish melody like “Be Thou My Vision,” or a steeple rattling gospel song like “Free at Last.” With a soft whispered prayer, a heartfelt recitation of a Psalm, with just silence, or just an uproarious wordless yelp of joy.

    • Bob

      Also, check out Stravinsky’s, The Rite of Spring. This is probably my favorite piece of his. But, personally, when it comes to classical music, I am partial to Ravel and Debussy. You should start a blog: The Catholic Cabbie!

    • jamey brown

      Thank you. Yes I also like Debussy. What a good idea about the website. People sure seem to like cab stories.

    • james

      Hi Bob, not to highbrow you but the Le Sacre du Printemps we
      mentioned is the Rite of Spring – having taken French in high
      school i just love using it(s) name on the score. Just love Ravel
      too. Who couldn’t ? yours truly, james

  • john654

    I ‘m a Catholic singer, song writer. I think I’m going to write a song based on this article. You painted a real clear picture. God Bless you my friend. Don’t forget the Holy Water! Hey, maybe that will be the title of the song, “Don’t Forget Holy Water”. Your Brother, John

    • jamey brown

      I am flabbergasted that you would want to write a song about this. Believe me, it was the Holy Spirit’s work. You’ve got to get the song to me if you do. It’s funny, but right after reading your comment I was thinking that sentence would fit right with the music of “Ave Verum Corpus.” (The original Pope Innocent VI version), although I suspect you are not going to write a Gregorian chant, but melodies are melodies. God Bless you, Brother in Christ.

    • WSquared

      I think you should well and truly write a song about this!

      …although I think the title of the song should be “Haunted by Holiness” with “Don’t Forget the Holy Water” making up part of the chorus (if verse-chorus is the structure you’re using for your song), and the lead-in or interlude or introduction to the song itself should be “Tantum Ergo” played on acoustic guitar (sacred silence, my friend). :)

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  • Judith Sears

    I enjoyed your column and I hope you write more. I can’t help but think that God is laughing at his own joke: putting a convert to work in the dark of night on the streets of NYC. I laughed at the “financing your dream of driving a cab in NYC.” So glad you’re living your dream!
    I have a somewhat spiritual biography, from atheism through pop-Buddhism/New Age and from there to the Church, but I’ve been in the Church since 1987. I still recall how, as I began to move toward Christianity, I felt I was being lifted up out of the swamp of Jungian yada-yada.

    • jamey brown

      Thank you, thank you so much. Yes, I think God has a good laugh at some of the predicaments his little children get themselves into because “they don’t listen.” Yes we had similar histories but mine was very much in the Course in Miracle–”There is no suffering. It’s just a result of bad thought processes.” Tell that to St. Paul! Yes out of the swamp. To me it was this whole new world, this alternative universe. Why didn’t I find this before. Why did no one tell me? Why were these treasures kept from me?–these treasures of wisdom & beauty & writings & music? I wanted to explore every inch of this fresh new world. You know, after church today I stood at the corner of 35th & Broadway and I just stood there & looked around for 10 minutes. I could see Macy’s, the Empire State Building, the New York Times, and Times Square. I was a few blocks from Penn Station, Grand Central Station and the UN Building–all the great constructions of Modernity. I was at the center of the world, but it meant nothing to me. All that was important to me was the obscure church with a very plain simple cross in front–with the words “Holy Innocents” on it, that at first I mistook for a Protestant cross. THAT was the center of the world. The real center of the world.

    • Judith Sears

      “Yes, I think God has a good laugh at some of the predicaments his little children get themselves into because “they don’t listen.”

      Actually, I meant that God is laughing at the world for not realizing he’s got an agent in place.

    • jamey brown

      You know, you are so right. God knew long ago. He’s in eternity, right? He already knows the final outcome. You remind me of something I was thinking today. When I was a child us kids would play charades under a cherry tree & this cousin of one of the kids was visiting from NYC. He later sent me a postcard of the Empire State Building and the Manhattan skyline and I always wanted to come here, never knowing that I would one day be working for the Lord here.

  • Gervase Crouchback

    Just found your blog,down here on Australia. Love the content. will pray for you every morning- as I presume you will be going to work at night NY time

    • jamey brown

      Thank you, Gervase, and I greatly appreciate your prayers. I am certain the prayers of good people are what protected me throughout my reckless youth. Yes I’ll be thundering down the avenues of Manhattan–mostly at 10 miles per hour–at 9am Sydney time.
      I will pray for you too.

  • Robbe Sebesta

    Jamey, this story is awesome!! I love it – but a Jewish rock musician? lol! Really? I thought Howard was the most worldly one of us (he knows everybody), but you give him a run for his money. Looking forward to more of your columns!

    • jamey brown

      Thank you Robbe. You are very kind, and funny. Yes he is a Jewish cab driver I know who is a very good rock & blues guitarist. He doesn’t play “Jewish rock” if that’s what you thought?
      LOL

    • Robbe Sebesta

      I’ve never even heard of “Jewish rock,” which is why I found it funny….a Jewish rocker?? Not that it should be strange mind you….I have just never heard of it….lol

  • SoCalChick

    Heaven rejoiced when you got directions from a Nun in AA as to where you needed to go in order to become Catholic. Good thing… this Nun in a chair at a meeting … amidst those ‘recovering’ Catholics i.e. cradle Catholics (now sober) who know next to nothing about our beautiful faith. Sad really. Can’t tell you how unsympathetic I tend to feel when I hear the words “I’m a recovering Catholic” … another story for another day. Sobriety is a tough row to hoe without God … sadly, too many ‘go out’ in an attempt to disprove this simple truth to themselves; with Satan echoing their doubts and leading them astray. Your article is a real life piece about the faith as practiced by an everyday Catholic out in the world – which is a bold act these days. Really enjoyed it and look forward to future installments.

    • jamey brown

      “Heaven rejoiced,” you are so right about that, every time a lost sheep is found and led home. Maybe that dear sweet nun was in the recovery program as part of our Lord’s plan to lead others back to Holy Mother Church. I thank you so much for your comments. I feel so blessed to be a convert and to discover all these vast treasures of the Church fresh and brand new–these treasures of wisdom, and saints and prayers and songs and art. How could anyone leave this? “Lord to whom shall we go, you have the words of eternal life?” (John 6:68)

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  • WSquared

    God bless you, Mr. Brown!

    This piece was such a treat to read. I hope I get to ride in your cab one day.

    • jamey brown

      I am deeply grateful. If you only knew how your kind words inspire this new writer. If you’re in the Times Square area, which is mostly tourists, you might get a ride in my cab. I like the them because they are more talkative–it’s hard to win someone for Christ if they won’t even speak to you. And you will definitely get a free ride.
      May the Lord give you his peace.

  • john654

    HI Brother,
    I think the title is going to be “Jamey Brown” Some where in the the song the line “Don’t forget the Holy Water” will be great. I think I’m going to write from the perspective of Me/you getting in the cab. “Why is it so peaceful inside, I am really enjoying this ride”. “HEY, Jamey, what’s up with you, why are you smiling, Don’t you know what I’ve been through”. “I lost all my money and the towers are down…………….”. I don’t know, but, I know a song is in there somewhere.

    God Bless,
    John

    • http://stacytrasancos.com/ Stacy Trasancos

      Y’all rock! That is all. :-)

    • jamey brown

      Wow, John, you just floored me! What an creative mind you have! You’ll get a free ride, that’s for sure. I also give free rides to service men and women and discounts to poor people going to church of any faith.

    • john654

      Hi Jamey, I was born in 1950, I’m an old time rock and roll singer. I love a good base line and lead guitar. I’ve been thinking about the “Jamey Brown” song, so, after reading your kind message to me this morning, I sat down with a guitar. To my utter amazement, I hope you don’t object, the song is going to be “country”. Had be laughing out loud! Upbeat and fun. “Say a little prayer for me, I want to write you a song, It may not be so good, but, you’ll want to sing a long”. God Bless, Brother, John

    • john654

      Jamey,
      Forgot to ask, what color is your cab and does it have a number on it? Bumper sticker? etc.

      John

    • jamey brown

      It’s one of the 13,000 yellow ones, John. I don’t have a regular number since I drive for a garage and get a different cab every time. But if you hear Gregorian chant or Catholic Radio coming from one, that most likely will be mine.

    • john654

      Hi Jamey, “13,000 yellow ones” that’s a good line. Since you watch EWTN and listen to Catholic Radio, you might be interested to know that my wife and I work for The Fathers of Mercy, in KY. She cooks and I do most of their video and CD work. I would think you have heard Fr. Wade and Fr. Casey. God Bless, John

    • jamey brown

      I certainly have, John. I have seen them both many times in the 6 years I’ve been watching EWTN. They are two of the best preachers I have ever heard. God bless you and your wife for the wonderful work you do there. EWTN converted me 6 years ago–the greatest moment of my life. Those two holy Priests had a part in it. For that I am eternally grateful. Jesus Christ gave me a totally new life. I wouldn’t be here writing about him today if it hadn’t been for EWTN.
      Thanks be to God.

    • john654

      I’ll tell Fr. Bill and Fr. Wade they have a fan, driving a cab, in NYC.

    • jamey brown

      Bless you for that, John. It sure is a small world. I never thought I’d meet someone who works with Fr. Bill and Fr. Wade. Christ’s Holy Church has helped me keep my temper and my wits on this job. It continues to convert me every single day. Ask them to pray for the people of New York.

    • jamey brown

      Country, I love country, particularly the more traditional in the 70′s and 80′s. I was born in ’48 so we grew up with the same music. What great ideas you have! Believe me, John, you inspire me so much. Your timing was absolutely perfect–I’m sure the Lord’s hand was involved: I’m trying to write two cab driving articles today.
      I love funny songs–Dylan’s “Talkin’ World War III” and “Talkin’ New York”–it’s last line, “You can try to get me beat, but when I leave New York I’ll be standin’ on my feet,” still inspires me today. Most of the country songs of that era had a funny title or chorus. Did you ever hear “Old Hippy” by the Bellamy Brothers or “Professional Fool” by Michael White? Your song sounds great–and funny. I am always joking myself. “Never an unpublished joke” is my motto. Lol. Any song that starts with a prayer is certainly coming from the right place. You inspire me to be a more Christian cabdriver which at times can be a little hard. But I was reading John 6:60–no coincidence I’m sure–just yesterday, “This indeed is a hard saying.” So many of his sayings were very hard. But the rewards are eternal life!
      God bless you, Brother John

    • john654

      JAMEY BROWN

      G – C – G – D……G – C – G – D – G

      Verse 1:

      Waved down a cab on Sunday, I had no place to be

      The cabbies name was Jamey Brown, he had a deal for me

      I’ll take you anywhere in New York, anywhere for free

      I’ve gotta stop I need to make, do you want to go to Mass with me

      Verse2:

      I don’t know what came over me, I guess my Daddy would be pleased

      It’s been a long long time, since I’ve been on my knees

      Jamey’s chanting in Latin, Catholic radio is on

      Before too long, I was chanting along

      Verse 3:

      Jamey makes a quick stop, a Father of Mercy gets in

      Says, hey Jamey, step on it, I’m running late again

      Father leans over, looks at me, says, hey man what’s up with you

      I said, I’m here for a free ride, I’ll tag along with you

      Verse 4:

      The privacy window goes up, Father says to me

      Son, do you have anything you need to share with me

      I did, that’s for sure, It took a while

      I looked in the rear view, all Jamey did was smile

      We got to a beautiful Church, and we settled in

      Now I’m really on a free ride, I’m free from sin

      Verse 5:

      Hey, Jamey Brown, step on it, now I’m running late

      I need a free ride to the airport, find a flight to take

      I’ve lost all my money, the towers are down

      I’ve got to get home to my wife and kids, stop fooling around

      C G C G

      Jamey, Jamey Brown, I thank God you were around

      C G D C G

      Jamie, Jamey Brown, I’ll look you up, next time I’m in town

    • jamey brown

      That is so great!!! You have really made my Thanksgiving. Would you drive while the cab driver gets in the back for confession? God bless you and your wife and everyone at Fathers of Mercy and Happy Thanksgiving to all.