Via Media

Via Media


More vocations…

posted by awelborn

Football player-turned-priest in Milwaukee

- If it’s a Sunday and you see 6-foot-5 and 365-pound Mike Lightner wearing green and gold, you could be forgiven for musing about the Green Bay Packers rather than your own salvation – even if you are in church

You can’t ignore the imposing physical features of the nearly bald and bushy-bearded Lightner, a former college football lineman who could also pass as the leader of a motorcycle gang.

Even with the traditional collar complementing his green-and-gold vestments, the newly ordained Lightner isn’t a typical priest – but it’s because of what he says as well as how he looks.

Lightner says he became a priest after demanding, and receiving, signs from God.



Advertisement
Comments read comments(8)
post a comment
Gerard E.

posted August 8, 2005 at 7:57 am


Maginificent story. Can’t imagine anyone would tune out to his sermons. Or ignore him. Very hopeful sign for the Church- a very macho guy called to be a Melchizidek. Ad multos annos to Father Mike.



report abuse
 

Der Tommissar

posted August 8, 2005 at 12:12 pm


Time to play Devil’s Advocate:
Lightner said he confessed to misdeeds involving alcohol, drugs and women, and after the priest absolved him of his sins, “it felt like something was standing on my chest.”
He said he felt himself pinned to the back of the confessional, screaming in pain, and thinking, “Oh, my God, you’re real.”

That sounds diabolic to me. He was feeling crushed /after/ he was absolved of his sins? There’s something that just doesn’t click about that.



report abuse
 

JonathanR.

posted August 8, 2005 at 12:49 pm


Well, God did wrestle with Jacob/Israel. I imagine that couldn’t have been pleasant.
On the other hand, he could’ve been talking about the devil, who made his displeasure felt after the guy confessed. Some conversions begin with belief in a devil before ending in a belief in God.



report abuse
 

Septimus

posted August 8, 2005 at 1:15 pm


Der, Jonathan:
I think the account given in the story is too slender a reed on which to hang any observation of the sort Der Tommisar made. Fr Lightner said too little about the episode for me (or anyone, dare I say) to interpret it other than as he — who experienced the event — did. I do recall one time, driving home from confession, and — for what reason I cannot now recall — reflecting on the “sheep and goats” parable, and considering, in a vivid way, how it had been JESUS whom I’d mistreated, every single time I mistreated ANYONE. I suddenly felt very dirty indeed, as though I ought to turn around and go right back! But I knew I’d made a valid confession, and was absolved; this was the fruit of a conscience a little more quickened to God’s ways — i.e., it was a grace.
As Flannery O’Connor pointed out in her own, vivid way, grace might can be a frightful experience.



report abuse
 

Der Tommissar

posted August 8, 2005 at 3:49 pm


how it had been JESUS whom I’d mistreated, every single time I mistreated ANYONE. I suddenly felt very dirty indeed, as though I ought to turn around and go right back!
There is a difference between feeling dirty, or extra remorse and feeling actual physical pressure and pain. Could it be a grace, certainly. I’ve just can’t seem to recall any thing of the kind in any of the lives of the saints, or any stories that I’ve heard about conversions.
Of course it could have been a sign from God, I just find it peculiar. Why wouldn’t the pressure weigh down on him as he recounted his sins? Why couldn’t the pain occur when he was headed to the confessional, or why not if he had decided to not go, and only subside when his feet led him back?
There just seems something off about being in the confessional, being absolved from sin and then experiencing great pain. Satan’s grip is broken by confession so I don’t think he could “punish” someone afterwards. The juxtaposition of pain and suffering /after/ being released from sin is confusing as well. Maybe the timeline got garbled in the story, I don’t know.
Maybe the fact that I’m really cautious when people bring up Medjugorge that I’m letting that color my perception. It just seems…odd to me.
And I thought Jacob wrestled with an angel?



report abuse
 

jane M

posted August 8, 2005 at 5:45 pm


Two comments….
It was Martin Luther’s conviction that he was never forgiven even after confessing for hours, that helped to get him into trouble. So confessions and “feelings” are a tricky combination.
I’ve always heard that the stigmata hurt. I thought that some saints were definitely knocked around by the devil (Padre Pio? Pius X?) so that they were physically in pain. How about Philip Neri? When his heart expanded I thought it hurt though I can’t quite remember. So pain can come, I think, from either direction. As someone said the story is too slender told for us to second guess what the guy himself says.
Another thought…. The priest says he didn’t believe in God but was going to confess anyway. Maybe having confessed he then felt something like the pain his sins had caused, because he had become “pure” enough to feel it. I’ve always thought Purgatory could be just facing every event of your life and seeing how it really played out, all the pain I caused, all the missed opportunities… etc. That feels like burning to me even now.



report abuse
 

Der Tommissar

posted August 8, 2005 at 6:44 pm


I’ve always heard that the stigmata hurt. I thought that some saints were definitely knocked around by the devil (Padre Pio? Pius X?) so that they were physically in pain. How about Philip Neri? When his heart expanded I thought it hurt though I can’t quite remember. So pain can come, I think, from either direction.
In suffering we unite ourselves to Christ, so it would be absurd to say that suffering never has a Divine purpose. I think it’s safe to say, however, to say that there is usually a Divine Theology to such events. Stigmatics are almost always in great pain, for example. This makes sense, since the essence of being stigmatic is being particularly united to the suffering of Calvary. I’m sure that stings a little. With St. Philip’s miracle, the pain was not the end to which it was ordered, it was a byproduct of something else (his heart literally expanded). With the saints who were attacked by the Devil (of whome we have numerous recorded incidents) the cuplrit is identifiable.
“Look, it’s Satan! Him! The guy with the goatee and the red suit, he’s shaking my bed and throwing tin cans at me.”
The combination and timeframe just seems jarring based on what we know. Confession is the sacrament of God’s love and mercy, it is our greatest hope and consolation. I can understand pain felt beforehand, as sin crushes the soul. I can understand weeping afterwards, as God’s mercy and love overwhelm our emotions. I suppose the pain felt could be in remission for the suffering that would be due in Purgatory, I just haven’t heard of such things happening. Oh well, I guess if I’m supposed to understand God will hit me over the head with the answer.



report abuse
 

DJP

posted August 9, 2005 at 7:03 am


What a great story!!



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

There is nothing I shall want
A couple of weeks ago, a memorial Mass for Michael was held here in Birmingham at the Cathedral. The bishop presided and offered a very nice, even charming homily in which he first focused on the Scripture readings of the day, and then turned to Michael, whom he remembered, among other things, as on

posted 9:24:16am Mar. 05, 2009 | read full post »

Revolutionary Road - Is it just me?
Why am I the only person I know..or even "know" in the Internet sense of "knowing"  - who didn't hate it? I didn't love it, either. There was a lot wrong with it. Weak characterization. Miscasting. Anvil-wielding mentally ill prophets.But here's the thing.Whether or not Yates' original novel in

posted 9:45:04pm Mar. 04, 2009 | read full post »

Books for Lent
No, I'm not going to ask you about your Lenten reading lists...although I might.Not today, though. This post is about giving books to others. For Lent, and a long time after that. You know how it goes during Lent: Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving, right?Well, here's a worthy recipient for your hard-

posted 9:22:07pm Mar. 04, 2009 | read full post »

Why Via Media
How about....because I'm lame and hate thinking up titles to things? No?Okay...how about...St. Benedict? Yes, yes, I know the association with Anglicanism. That wasn't invovled in my purpose in naming the joint, but if draws some Googling Episcopalians, all the better.To tell the truth, you can bl

posted 8:54:17pm Mar. 04, 2009 | read full post »

Brave Heart?
I don't know about you, but one of effects of childbirth on me was a compulsion to spill the details. All of them.The whole thing was fascinating to me, so of course I assumed everyone else should be fascinated as well in the recounting of every minute of labor, describing the intensity of discomfor

posted 10:19:45pm Mar. 03, 2009 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.