Friday, March 6, 2015


In my grandparents day, when many Slovenian immigrants were coming to my hometown, they wanted to start a Slovenian parish.  So they went about knocking on doors trying to raise funds.  The fundraisers were looked upon with suspicion however.  In the “old country” it was the government who built the churches through taxes.  People said, “You start building and then we will give.”  Of course, it doesn’t work that way.
That is one danger of government funding projects to too far of an extent.  We get the idea that things will always be there and I need not worry about it.  SOMEBODY official will make sure that things are taken care of.

Not so with a parish.  A parish does not have to exist.  It exists because some people are willing to show up, do ministry and projects, and donate resources.  As we have seen in our diocese, when people stop doing that (mostly due to flight to the suburbs,) parishes cease to exist. 
So we come across the 6th precept of the Church.  It is to support your parish, provide for your priest, and also to look out for the good of the greater Church around the world and the work of the Holy Father.  Yep, some of that means hard, cold cash.  There is no getting around that.  If you want to feed the poor, you need a kitchen, and a kitchen costs money.  MORE IMPORTANT is prayer.  Then there is showing up.  There is engaging in ministry and cleaning pews.  There are mission trips, supporting the teachings of the Church, helping struggling parishes, and reaching out to the greater community, social justice, and evangelization.  When a parish does all of these things, it is healthy.  And for a parish to do all these things, it needs you to do them or it doesn’t get done.

Thursday, March 5, 2015


I forgot to take the street sign down after the Diocesan wide Night of Confessions last night and so went out this morning to wheel it onto the rectory porch.  (We had a steady stream for all three hours by the way – with four priests hearing confessions.  Fr. P. came over for dinner after and very late because he went 45 minutes over at St. Paul.)  The taking down of the sign reminded me of my days of assistant manager of the West Theatre, owned and operated by the Slovenian Community of Barberton, Ohio.

It was (it’s now a storage facility) a single screen, large neighborhood movie theater.  Thursday night was always a busy night.  While the week’s movie was playing for the final time, we were busy erasing any trace of its existence.  The marquee was changed (swaying old ladder that took out bulbs on windy days) switching out posters, storing away displays, and in general whetting people’s appetite for the next thing - the old movie being “so two hours ago.”
How exactly opposite the Mass is.  Movie are, “FORGET!  LOOK AT THE SHINY NEW THING!  KEEP RUNNING!”  The Mass is, “REMEMBER!  LOOK AT THIS THING THOUSANDS OF YEARS OLD!  SLOW DOWN!”  We don’t put out a new, slick poster, we haul out the old manger scene.  We don’t cast our gaze longingly at some new star, but among the saints who have been around like old friends. 
I’m not sure where I’m going with this.  This dichotomy just seemed interesting as this little chore was performed.  “And how many lessons have you failed to learn from such experiences because you did not spiritualize them?”

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


I lost the reference for the following paragraph by it was from a magazine called, “The Sun” from an edition from this past year.  The author is going to make a statement.  After you read it, stop and think about it.  Do you agree with it or not and most importantly WHY? 
“The self is always moving.  It isn’t going to continue existing after you die.  The minute you buy into the idea that some part of you will hang around, you’ve removed yourself from this world of trees and clouds and birds.  And if you’re not in this flowing world of change, then you’re nowhere.”
Now stop, pray, and think.  Is this true?  If it is true or not true, why? 
Now that you have done that, here is one possible response:
The man who made this statement is a man of deep faith.  He bases his theory upon ideas that are no more “provable” than that of the Christian – I would argue even less so.  That nothing of us lives on is an assumed principle upon which the rest of his theory rests.  But even if we grant him this, does the rest of his hypothesis hold true?
If that to which he is referring is the Christian theology that is held by much of the Protestant world and that of some other religions that creation is bad and spirit is good, then he may have something.  Those who call the body evil (or at least opposed to that which is good) have to deny the body and focus on the spirit exclusively.  Mud is bad, angels are good.  Therefor the world is something to be used and discarded.  Its sole purpose is to steer us toward the spiritual.  Then it is true that we not ever really here and a part of creation.


But is the opposite true?  If nothing of us lives on does that ipso facto make us more here among the birds and the clouds?  If this is the case then there are no consequences for how we treat the nature other what than might recoil back on ourselves as the line goes, “Don’t pee in your own well.”  But when I die, I cease to exist.  Eventually there will be no one to remember me.  The Earth is a fluke that will one day also simply cease to be.  Humans will not even be a memory.  You might want to keep things nice “for the next guy” but in the end that would just because you want to not because there is any truth to the idea of “the good.”  Preservation is just as much a selfish act as abuse.  So why not suck as much life out of this earth as possible?  Throw another log on the fire, drink out of Styrofoam cup, and rev up the gas generator so that you can listen to some tunes on your radio.  If you are abusing anything, you are not really present to it either.
But what if, as in Catholic theology, everything that is is good.  God created all from nothing and he holds it in being.  Then everything to some extent participates in God.  The computer screen on which you are reading this is good.  The paper, ink, persons depicted, and form of a porn magazine are good.  What man did with those things is bad.  (Hence the true perversion of sin!)  If the world is good, if there will be an accounting of how we handled the world (as there was with Adam and the garden,) then won’t we appreciate more, be better to, be more aware of, and be more present to the trees, the clouds, and the birds?
I had a skateboard once that I used on the parking lot across the street from my house.  I would skate down the hill and then kick the board back up.  My Mom stopped me one day to explain how expensive that toy was and how I was expected to take better care of it.  Knowing that my actions would be seen, and being taught about the value of my board, I was much more present to it.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Our lifestyles are a reflection of our priorities."  Matthew Kelly
QUOTE II:  "When Catholic feast we realy feast.  And when we fast we cheat."
From the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter:  Be good to yourself.  Confessions at all parishes Wednesday from 5 to 8PM.  Read more and see video HERE.
Did you know that the Vatican has a National Anthem?  I guess if they had an Olympic team (and won a gold medal) this is what we would hear.

Friday, February 27, 2015


This one would have seemed easy even five years ago.  Today it is almost heroic.  It is this: to live the life of marriage as it has been held by Christians for 2,000 years.  If it be one’s vocation, one is to give Christian education by word and example to children and to make use of Catholic opportunities for education.  Who would have dreamed that this would ever be controversial and hand in hand that human life would need to be defended as something to be held as special?  Yet it is.  This precept of the Church is more important than ever to be lived boldly and well.

Thursday, February 26, 2015


I can't believe (well, actually I can) that I missed MY OWN ANNIVERSARY!  ADAM'S ALE turned eight years old this past February 9th.  Every few months I think about hanging it up.  I am surprised that it has lasted as long as it has.  Just when I start praying and asking God if this project has run its course, something happens - one of you will say something - and I take it as a sign to keep writing.  I do (most of the time) enjoy this little project.  Nothing like combining ministry with a hobby of sorts.  But it wouldn't mean anything without you.  Thank you for reading.
To date there have been:
328,352 visits
476,588 page views
About 115 unique readers each day.
64% of readers are from North America.  (Hello to everyone!)
2% are from Canada don't you know.  (I'll be up that way in September.  Canada is awesome.)
1% read ADAM'S ALE in Russian.  Dobroye utro!
1% read this in Spanish.  Hola!

The most read post of all time is "How Come I Don't Remember."  But it was not a great post.  I think it just got read a lot because of it's title.  See it HERE

China, United Kingdom, Ukraine, France, Germany, Poland, and the Netherlands all make it on the percentage board for reading this blog the past year.  Keep the faith brothers and sisters.

There have been 8,685 comments made.
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Just for something fun to do on this day - here is a Lenten Game that sounds easy but requires some thinking and time.  READ THE INSTRUCTIONS.  Go HEREWARNING: Addiction level MODERATE.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


I wrote a letter to the editor recently and it hasn't appeared so I thought I would share it with you.
Dear Editor,


In her letter, Maria Miranda (Resist Campaign to Restrict Abortion) states that “the decision to terminate a pregnancy is intensely personal and private. . .”  Unfortunately she does not tell us why this is so.  This statement is the same that has been used throughout history to shut down interference and conversation concerning the way husbands have treated their wives, how parents disciplined their children, and how persons have treated their slaves.  The only way Maria’s statement could make sense at all is if the being within the mother’s womb, that has all of the chromosomes and DNA of a unique human individual, is not a person at all.  That such a large percentage of citizens of the United States do recognize the humanity of the person within her womb makes the argument that this is a private matter as untenable in this case as it had at one time in those others mentioned above.
To quote Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a pioneer of the American Women’s Rights Movement, on her views on abortion, “When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit."
Rev. John A. Valencheck

UPDATE:  I spoke about this letter in my homily this past weekend at it started some interesting philosophical debates after Mass.  One of the most interesting was a distinction between a personal and private belief and that of action.  Our government has always been involved when actions start effecting other people, but personally held beliefs and thoughts of the individual we hold sacrosanct.  So that a person believes that abortion is a good that should be available to anyone at anytime is a right in our nation, but what we focus on is when that belief is put into action (and in this case, an unique human person's rights are destroyed.)  To have it any other way would have our nation act as thought police.  Nice distinction. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "We all come into existence as a single cell, smaller than a speck of dust.  Much smaller.  Divide. Multiply.  Add and subtract.  Matter changes hands, atoms flow in and out, molecules pivot, proteins stitch together, mitochondria send out their oxidative dictates; we begin as a microscopic electrical swarm.  The lungs the brain the heart.  Forty weeks later, six trillion cells get crushed in the vise of our mother's birth canal and we howl."  from Anthony Doerr's "All the Light We Cannot See."
QUOTE II:  "Stones are just stones and rain is just rain and misfortune is just bad luck.  Some things are simply more rare than others, and that's why there are locks."  same source
QUOTE III:  "Sometimes the eye of the hurricane is the safest place to be."  same source
QUOTE IIII:  "A real diamond is never perfect."  same source.
GO TO CONFESSION IN CLEVELAND:  A nice mention in Fr. Z's blog.  READ HERE.

News from the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter:  For Lent the Diocese has started posting Lenten Reflections by Fr. Robert Barron.  Go HERE.
Mary a priest friend about how to teach young adults about modern marriage issues.  " He said that it cannot begin with speaking against same-sex "marriage", but rather that it must begin with helping young people to see the beauty and the wonder of how we are made male and female, with the marvelous complementarity that we enjoy with one another. Then he went on to say that a beautiful example of a tool for doing just that is the Humanum video series, a beautiful series of short films on marriage and family. . ."  HERE is a link to the series.  Below is the trailer (1:42)

Friday, February 20, 2015


I” and “feel” are two of the most damaging words toward the faith in the world today.  I think it should be its own heresy.  The “Ifeelists – Ifeelism.)   You’ll be having a perfectly good conversation about something faith related and somebody will say, “Well I feel . . .”  There are two problems with this.  The first is that it is an inherently selfish statement.  Who can say anything to you?  You are simply stating how you feel.  It’s like saying, “I feel satisfied.”  What can I say to that?  “No you don’t.” 


The second problem is that whatever is stated after “I feel” often has no connection to the lived faith of two thousand years of Christianity, the early Church Fathers, the writings and lives of the saints, the logic of the greatest minds of mankind, a children’s catechism, or even a casual conversation with someone remotely connected with any orthodox faith.  “I feel” is a cloud.  You can’t punch it, defend it, or debate it.  It is simply a thought someone has that makes them feel good.  The full consequences need not be thought through, possible blow back, inconsistencies, or the fact that it may have been held in the past and rejected due to its ill consequence.  Any debate is likely to be answered, “Well, I don’t agree.”
One author calls this Moralistic, Therapeutic, Deism.  This is truly the opiate of the masses.  What you feel or think is of course truth – at least for you.  This is where relativism sneaks in.  “Well, that may be truth for you but . . .”
This is why the Church has always insisted on a formed conscience.  That means being in contact with Scripture and Tradition, it means having some training in the early Church Fathers, lives of the saints, and 2,000 years of Christian thought (which comes to us at least in part through the Catechism, Catholic schools, PSR, CCD, etc.)  All of which leads us to the third precept of the Church: to study and learn the faith in preparation for Confirmation, to be confirmed, and then to KEEP LEARNING.  I know that perhaps your particular parish is horrible at teaching the faith.  That doesn’t lift the responsibility of the individual from forming their conscience.  We are too rich of a nation with too much information at our disposal to say, “Nobody ever told me.”  At the click of a button on your computer (or at the library’s computer) there are all the Church documents, tweets by the pope, Church history, lives of the saints, writings of the Church Fathers, apologists, videos, podcasts, links, all floating around in the air just waiting for you to grab them and study them like angels surrounding us, just waiting for us to take advantage of them.

Thursday, February 19, 2015


One of the attractions of such book as Harry Potter is that here is a seemingly very ordinary person who all of a sudden discovers that he is really quite special.  All that was needed was for someone to uncover it.  Did you, like me, at least once in your life dream that maybe, just maybe you were at the obscure tail end of a line of royalty?  (My Mother assured me that we were Slovenian hillbillies that that I shouldn’t hope for a European castle, rule, or treasure.)
Well guess what, Mom was wrong.  (And that is something I rarely get to say.)  When you were baptized, holy oil (Chrism) was taken and a cross was traced on your head as has been done to Kings and prophets since deep in the Old Testament.  One of the offices in which you were anointed was KING.  (This is the same if you are male or female.  It is the ancient right of office not the sex into which you were anointed.  That is why we all have the status of sons with the Father.  We are equal.  It is the status into which you enter.)
Now, it may seem to kind of spoil it if you are a king among a nation of kings.  When everyone is a king, is anyone a king?  That is like the dilemma we are on the verge of entering into with marriage – because it won’t stop with same sex marriage between two people.  And once marriage can mean anything, does it mean anything at all?


But as far as you royal status goes it still does!  It does my fellow kings!  It may not play well in Cucamonga, but it will in the Heavenly Kingdom!  It will mean everything.  And this life we train ourselves for the office.  (What better way to train properly for the office than to do it without many perks?  It’s like starting out in the mailroom before become the CEO of a major company.  It sets your head on straight.)
So how do we train?  By doing all in our power to bring about the Kingdom of Heaven now.  The Kingdom exists in this life wherever we live it.  Where it does not seem to exists at all, we live it, it is there.  It is like what St. John of the Cross said about Christ.  Jesus saw where there was lack of love in the world and He became that love.  The crucifixion was not a place of love but He became love there and transformed the world!  “Father forgive them.”  “This day you will be with me . . .”  “Mother behold your son . . .”  “Into Your hands Lord . . .”
How much time can you tithe for your office as king?  Long enough to send an Email Letter to the Editor when you read something misleading about the faith?  Long enough to post something positive about your parish on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter account?  Long enough to challenge someone (lovingly) on a misperception that they have about the faith?  Long enough to stop some injustice in your neighborhood?  Long enough to vote like a Christian?  Long enough to consecrate your home?  Long enough to say grace at work, school, or restaurant?  Long enough to say a prayer for the Coptic Christians who were beheaded or those who are in similar danger?
We are flush with royalty!  What if only a small percentage truly acted in their role a little bit each day?  The world would be transformed.  If only, when you looked in the mirror, you could see your dignity and your high office (even if nobody else can!)  Just wait until it is revealed for all to see!  How much more joy you will have for having been true to it even when it was difficult to understand and comprehend!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Most likely last night there were some volunteers in your church.  They came in after the last service.  For St. Sebastian that would have been after 8:00PM Vespers and Benediction.  They carted away all of the plants in the church.  The altar clothes were removed and replaced with simple altar clothes.  The ones that were removed (for St. Sebastian this would be four of them; great swaths of material from the two altars in use and the two side altars) were taken to be laundered and then (God bless our volunteers) ironed and put into storage.  Extra candles and all other decorations were stored away.  (I believe in undecorating for Lent.)  For those parishes that believe in decorating for Lent, purple banners were put up, dead twigs and other various and sundry things brought out.   Green vestments are put away and all of the purples ones are put out and made handy.
Perhaps palms were burned to make ashes.  Fr P. called yesterday to say that he had burned his palms.  I asked if he were at the hospital.  They are then placed in containers so that they may be easily distributed today.  A table is probably set up with them and the holy water.
This was all done in order for you to have a Lenten experience when you showed up at Mass this morning.  Say a prayer for the gremlins that just make things happen.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "The approach in today's hospitals is on 'fixing' people rather than 'healing' them in the traditional sense."  Fr. McCormick SJ
QUOTE II:  "Healing is a natural process and is within the power of everyone.  Curing, which is what doctors are called upon to do, usually consists of an external treatment; medication or surgery is used to mask or eliminate sumptoms."  Christiane Northrup
Pope Francis' 10 suggestions for Lent.  Find it HERE.
Adam sent this in:  Statement by His Bishop Angealos following the brutal murder of Coptic Christians in Lybia.  READ HERE.
Eric sent this article in on why so many seminarians come from so few parishes.  READ HERE.

Practical methods for avoiding the near occassion of sin of pornography on the Internet.  READ MORE.

Thought this was cute considering this past weekend was Sts. Cyril and Methodius Day!

Friday, February 13, 2015


Second precept of the Church.
There are two categories of priests in the Catholic Church.  The first is the ordained priesthood.  These are the men who are trained and ordained by their bishop for service to the Church.  It is, admittedly, a rather small group.  But there is a second category of priesthood and it is the office into which you were anointed at your baptism.  You were anointed prophet, king, and PREIST.  This office has real and serious responsibilities.  It aligns with one of the precepts of the Church which requires us to live a sacramental life.
Minimally it means to go to Mass on Sunday and holy days of obligation and to receive Communion at least once in a year between the first Sunday of Lent and Trinity Sunday.  It also means that you the priest will go to confession at least once a year if there is any serious sin.  This is the bare minimum – the scraping of the bottom of the barrel.

Showing up at Mass is not enough.  A priest participates in the Mass.  The priest prays the prayers and offers them for himself, for the needs of the world, and for the praise of God.  For example, when the ordained priest says, “Let us pray,” that is not a signal for the Missal to be brought to him.  It is not “dead space.”  It is the time for the priesthood (the Church – you) to call to mind things that need to be prayed for and then the celebrant collects those prayers in a  prayer called appropriately enough the Collect and presents them to the Father.  For someone not to pray during this time is for the Church to be less, for prayers to be less encompassing, for someone to miss out on the benefits of the Mass.
If the Mass is to transform you and the world, it must soak into your skin, radiate your marrow, and marinate your mind.  Only the engaged priest, the pray-er, the one that is THERE in mind as well as body is fulfilling this.  This is true if you are at a Mass in the ordinary form or the extraordinary form.  Being involved does not mean you get to read, or serve, or bring up the gifts, or sing (all important and wonderful) but that you do what is primary: PRAY.