Friday, May 26, 2017

ANOTHER ONE OF THOSE PRAYERS

Say this powerful prayer and God will grant you a wish.”

I hate those pieces of paper that end up in church pews.  When I find them I throw them away.  God is not a machine.  As though if you find the right nickel to stick in, the machine will do whatever it is that you task it.  Like you parents, no matter how much you might beg for a horse and no matter how perfectly behaved you are, there is no guarantee that you will receive one.  This mentality is one inch away from the prosperity Gospel.



That being said, I have had some prayers that have constantly surprised me.  I’ve told you before about praying to my guardian angel and being astonished.  Here is one more that I am shy about sharing (for some inexplicable reason) but that, more often than not, seems to be something near and dear to my Father’s heart and appears to bring about some blessings.

So say that there is some person with whom you are having difficulties.  And assume that you want those difficulties healed in some fashion.  (You don’t necessarily get to pick the “how” of it, just the “that”.)  While praying for the other person and for yourself is always helpful, there is one more prayer that I use.  It does not exactly entail praying for the other person or for yourself, but by engaging the imagination, picturing the relationship between you.  For me, it changes from person to person, but a particularly, shall we say, “failing” relationship I might picture as a withering vine between us; fading leaves, withering branches, limp and lying on the ground.  The point is, there is not much of a connection, not much love, not much life getting through.  So I lift that image - that relationship up to God and ask Him to bring some healing - to do something (it’s always His call) and thank Him.

A great number of times I walk away from an encounter with the other person and find myself thinking, “Well that went strangely well.”  And then I remember that I had prayed that odd little prayer and give credit to God for doing . . . something.  And I’m never quite sure exactly what it was.  But I am grateful.  

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CCCLXXXIX

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "While a consumer economy makes life easier, it also turns appetites into needs."  from Archbishop Chaput's, "Render unto Caesar"

QUOTE II:  "Contempt is usually a sign of weakness."  same source

IN OTHER NEWS:  

This past week there were no posts as I was at the Jesuit Retreat House with these guys:
At the time they were transitional deacons preparing for ordination by going on retreat at this odd little forest in the middle of Parma.  There were many dear and they let you get spooky close:
Mostly the chapel was well equipped (not always the case at such places.)  One thing they did not have was deacon stoles so the deacons had to get creative:
The ordination was phenomenal.  I am just glad it was on Friday night and not Saturday morning as originally scheduled.  It lasted three hours.  If it had been on Saturday morning I would have had to sneak out after communion in order to get to a wedding I had that day.  (For the two and half decades that I have been attending ordinations they have only lasted two hours.)  But there was time and it was worth it!

Here is Fr. Anthony at his First Mass of Thanksgiving who will be coming to St. Sebastian:
And the traditional post-Mass group shot:
Getting a blessing from the newly ordained:
After there was a wonderful reception at his home parish of St. Mary in Hudson.  There were lots of priests, seminarians, and nuns there.  Now, this is what I call a modified habit!
And just because I thought it was funny . . . Thank you K. J.

Here is the ordination video.  WARNING:  3 HOURS!

Or if you would just like a little laugh - here is a couple minutes:

Sunday, May 21, 2017

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: A LITERAL GOD

So last week found me at the Jesuit Retreat House in Parma with these fine, young, transitional deacons:
They were on their final retreat before being ordained to the priesthood for service to the Diocese of Cleveland and I was fortunate enough to be their retreat master.  I was recalling the day of my ordination (18 years ago - when did that happen?) and what a beautiful day it was.  When ordination is about to begin and the weather is nice (which it mostly is) we all go out of the old chancery building and line up on the sidewalk in order to process around the outside of the cathedral and enter in through the main doors.  It is alway a sight to see.

The only people who do not line up along the sidewalk are those who have instrumental roles that day.  So, for example, the bishops, the pastors of the ordinandi, and, of course, the ordinandi themselves.  They line up "under the arch."  The arch is a piece of architecture that connects the cathedral rectory to the old chancery building the first floor of which is a giant stone arch (did you see that coming?) with an ornate iron gate.  

I tried to draw you a picture but it may just confuse you more:
It is something when, after so many years of watching others line up there on their ordination day to finally be in the class that lines up in this special place.
And it was!  Not perfect, but it was!  Fifteen minutes before the ceremony was to begin, we were all called to make our way outside and line up along the side walk.  And there they were, those about to be ordained, lined up under the arch looking excited and radiating holiness.
So my prayer and wish for them came true and I was very grateful.  

And then this happened:
So I guess technically I did get that for which I prayed.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

JESUS THE MARKETING GENIUS

I think Jesus is a marketing genius.

In marketing, one must always outdo what came before.  Look at phones.  Each new model must promise to do more, do it more innovatively, and quicker.  If that is not achieved, it is declared a grave disappointment and there are no lines at the store.

It is the same with television series.  The next season must always outdo the last season.  It must be wilder, bigger, crazier.  If it is not, people lose interest.  I think that is why so many of them end up becoming a soap opera about who is sleeping with whom.  But once you have jumped that shark, who cares . . .

Many Churches are like this.  The music must get better and better or at least be updated.  The preaching must always be cutting edge.  New special effects; fog, lighting, projections, must be added, changed, improved, expanded because once you have a spectacular, it becomes common.  (Think about the poor guy that has to come up with a new Super Bowl halftime show every year.)


But the Church Jesus founded steadfastly marches in the other direction.  There isn’t really anything to see particularly at its heart - the Eucharist.  The Eucharist couldn’t be more counter-cultural.  There was a big push for a spell to have clear glass chalices so people could “see what was going on.”  Do you know how differently wine looks after it is consecrated?  Not a jot.  Everything happens below the level of the senses.  The bread and wine cease to exist, but their accidents remain.  So it may look, feel, smell and taste like bread and wine, but it has become wholly the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ.  This is something that can maintained for 2,000 years without constantly having to come up with something “new.”

Although I am one for great music, art and liturgy done well, none of that is intrinsic to the Eucharist.  Jesus makes Himself present in His Word and the Eucharist whether you are the Basilica of St. Peter or having Mass on the hood of a jeep in field during a war.  Lighting effects, fog machines and the like would be a distraction to this.  We come, not to be entertained, but to give time to the One who loves us.  


“Do you love Me?” He seems to ask, “Then spend time with me, not because you are entertained, but because you love me.”

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

TUESDAY QUOTE OF WEEK CCCLXXXVIIII

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "[I]t was highly significant of a universal humanitarian need that the three great cosmopolitan communions, which all disagreed about the choice of a sacred day, all agreed in having one."  from G. K. Chesterton's, "On Abolishing Sunday."

QUOTE II:  "It means that it might be possible so to organize machinery that the whole life of man on earth should be one of leisure and not of labour.  I will not pretend to discuss whether it would be mechanically possible.  But it is time we began to discuss whether it is morally desirable."  from G. K. Chesterton's, "The Ideal of a Leisure State."

IN OTHER NEWS:

The top two quotes are from the last Chesterton meeting.  As part of that meeting we listened to a radio play that dramatized one possible for of a future Leisure State.  It is an episode from, "The Truth," which is sometimes brilliant and sometimes just Okay.  HERE is the specific episode entitled, "The Last Job."  I think it is about 18 minutes.  If you are looking for a second recommendation of one of their plays that might be a little gross but thought provoking, I recommend, "Miracle on the L Train."  I used part of it in a homily recently.

Some events coming up to which you are invited:

It's been a little while since our last ToT Akron due to a weather cancellation and Easter.  But we are back on track!
Fr. Matthew Pfeiffer will be speaking at the next Theology on the Rocks:
Mark your calendar now for this summer's Jazz and Wine Festival with Ernie Krivda!
We have announced the restoration of St. Sebastian church.  People ask, "What will it look like?" to which I respond, "Look at it now and imagine it new, bright, and clean."  It is truly a restoration.  But if you have questions or concerns, there is a Town Hall Meeting coming up!
This is just awesome.  The man knows me.
Fr. K sent in this video.  Thanks!  Approximately 18 minutes.:

Monday, May 8, 2017

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: DOBER DAN DOG

FIRST:  An important reminder from the Bacon Society of St. Sebastian.  Today is Baconmas Day!  Today is the day we have the reading at Mass were God tells St. Peter that ALL of God's creatures are  both good and good for eating and what He has declared clean we are not to call profane.  I'm all about being a good son of my Father and so got right on it.
Thank you Rocco and Terry for providing the repasts necessary for the proper celebration of this day!

IN OTHER NEWS:  When I was growing up, if my parents didn't want me to understand what they were talking about they would converse in Slovenian.  This was annoying on two counts.  One: I wanted to know what they were talking about and Two:  I desperately wanted to learn Slovenian and would BEG them only to speak to me in that language, which they would attempt for about 5 minutes and then grow tired of the effort.  To the dog, however, they spoke Slovenian and so HE knew Slovenian far better than I did.
I get why parents want a secret way of communicating in front of their kids.  Once something slips out it can be difficult to undo the damage.  It is the same with your beloved dog.  To say something out loud like, "Walk," can set the dog an a determined task to get you to go outside and there is no taking it back.  And like parents, sometimes even when you are away from your kids, you forget to stop speaking in code.
Fr. B and Fr. Otticus went out for breakfast this past week sans dogs.  But it was difficult to get out of the mindset.

This can be annoying to others.

Friday, May 5, 2017

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: IT IS MY GREAT HONOR TO INTRODUCE TO YOU FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME

Except for some clean up, we’ve pretty much married our couple now.  There is not much official left save for the consummatum est.  (Terrible pun there.  I apologize.)  There is one rubric, however, that confounds me and I’ve not heard it addressed.  If there is a liturgist out there I would love to hear from you.

Everything about a rubric is there on purpose; the order of the wording, the inclusion, the detail of the word chosen (may vs must etc.)  So why does it state that, at a matrimonial Mass, “The bride and bridegroom, their parents, witnesses, and relatives may receive Communion under both kinds”?  Why not say all Catholics present may receive Communion under both kinds?  Is it truly limited (I bet not - or at least nobody is saying that.)  I doubt we will have people check their category against the program to make sure they fit into one of the privileged ranks.  Curious.


Thus we bring to an end this series on Friday Potpourri.  Nothing has come across my radar screen to start new as of yet.  Perhaps by next Friday God will provide something - but just in case, if you have an idea . . . pass it along!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

A TALE OF TWO DIOCESES

I always thought it interesting in other countries how even the language could change dramatically even from one village to the next.  What has made me sad about computers, mass media, and chain stores and restaurants is that they seem to be homogenizing our American society.  Like a modern glass skyscraper it is the same from top to bottom, from left to right.  There is no wondering what it might be like “in that interesting part of the building,” save for maybe how high the top floor is.

But local flavor is not completely dead.  Even within the Diocese of Cleveland there are defiantly differences between north of Rte 303 and south of it.  (It is often joked that one needs  passport to cross the imaginary boarder.



There are some obvious differences.  Only up here in Akron (see how I did that?  Akros Greek for top most) is SUMMIT county, we refer to the strip of grass between the sidewalk and the street the devil strip.  Now so down north.  When we say “downtown” we mean the district area of the city we are in; Akron, Barberton, Cuyahoga Falls, etc.  Down north they mean Cleveland.

A priest, when someone wants to show great respect, is often referred to as “sir” south of the 303 as in, “Good morning sir!”  North of 303 you might (and I have seen it) get you a cold stare and a lecture about, “I am Father, NOT sir.”

The Slovenians in the north sang a slightly different tune to my favorite Slovenian song, “Maria Pomagaj” than we did in the south.  We didn’t like their tune and they didn’t like ours.

It seems to me, and this is very general, that in communal penance, in the north priests are more likely to wear albs.  In the south it is not as common an occurrence.

If you want White Russian dressing on your salad, you will have to visit a ma and pa restaurant south of 303.


These are just a few of the things that I could think of.  Can you think of any more?  I would love to hear it.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CCCLXXXVII

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Only that which is good for all men is good for every man.  No one is truly inspired for his own sake.  He who is blessed, is a blessing for others."  from Abraham Herchel's, "God in Search of Man"

IN OTHER NEWS:

Not much to report today.  This was sitting in my pictures for use "some day."  Today is the day.
ToT Akron will resume after its Easter Break on May 10th at 7:00PM at the Winking Lizard.  Jason and Brooke Roberts from the Ite Project will be speaking on Catholic Adulting.  See more HERE.
I used this quote this Easter.  I found it thought provoking:
Cathy sent this video in (6 mins):

Monday, May 1, 2017

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: THE MORE THINGS CHANGE THE MORE THEY SEEM TO CHANGE.

I was always tall.  That meant whenever pictures were taken, I was always in the back row.  I really wasn't all THAT tall, for example I was not considered an asset of tallness on the basketball court, but for mundane stuff, I was always the tall one and it felt like I stuck out in the crowd
It worked out sometimes.  If your pants were too short or your forgot dark socks, it didn't matter, you are in the back row and nobody cared.
Still, not being THAT tall, I am still just tall enough to be annoying and expensive.  Clerics are already outrageously expensive.  But if you are tall, you wish you only had to pay the expensive price instead of the extra charge for being more closely related to primates in body stature.  And even if you do find something for tall, they also assume that you are BIG and so your shirts look like you are wearing a parachute.
Now that I am older, it seems most people have caught up to me tallness wise for the most part.  But of course, I no longer seem to have group pictures taken with people of my age.
Congratulations to our First Communion Class who celebrated their very first Communion this past Saturday!  God bless!

Friday, April 28, 2017

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH WORDS TO SAY I LOVE YOU. OH WAIT. THERE ARE.

Let’s say that it is your vacation.  It is one thing to interrupt your vacation to answer a short text, it is another to be interrupted by a three hour video conference call.  Secretly you are dying a slow and terrible death.

So it is one thing to have little ceremonies added to the nuptial Mass.  But the part of the Catholic brain that has not shut down at Mass, that is at least aware of the flow that should be happening, and that is looking forward to Communion, is suddenly thrown off track by a long, long nuptial blessing.  You know who loves this prayer?  The moms and the priest.  Everyone else has just run into a brick wall and is too concerned about why they are no longer moving forward.  

Well, I am exaggerating.  Maybe I just don’t know how to do it well.  And often I have a couple looking at me with dreamy looks in their eyes over what is being said about them.  Maybe it is my attitude.  About half way through I am thinking, “Gads, am I still talking?”


But it is a beautiful prayer.  And though now it is better translated, even ICEL did not strip it down in length during the post Vatican II translation and they were not adverse to slashing and burning.  AND AS IS OFTEN THE MISTAKE it should be remembered (even by me!) that the people present are not the ones being addressed at this point - it is our Father.  We are going to our Father and asking for a very specific blessing on two of His children who are being united.  Other than to remind us of what is going on and to agree, the job of those who are there is to offer with the celebrant the words being spoken to our common Father.  He is certainly the cause of the day in so many ways, the King present and begged for a blessing, the eternal Father Who loves and blesses His children.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

WITH GREAT JOY, ST. SEBASTIAN PARISH PROUDLY ANNOUNCES . . .

Many of you are experiencing priests collecting boxes.  It is the time of year when those who are completing their assignments are getting ready to move where the Spirit (and their bishop) calls.  For these more seasoned men, the news of where they are going is largely handled over the phone.

But there is another group of men anticipation something similar.  They are our soon-to-be newly ordained.  The announcement of where they will be spending the next four years of their lives is not handled so casually.  Rather, it is more like a game show.  Those to-be-ordained and their future pastors are invited to the Cathedral Rectory where Bishop Thomas would make the big reveal.
I was really not all that concerned.  It is a great group of men and I would consider myself lucky to have any of them.  But for some reason, I woke up nervous that morning.  I would meet the guy with whom I would be working and living for next four years.  So I guess that is worth being nervous over.

I rode up to Cleveland with other Akron pastors who would be receiving a newly ordained.  (That made the trip so much easier.)  We were ushered into the Bishop’s parlor, a large well appointed room.  We sat on wingback chairs in front of the large marble fireplace over which hung a large painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary who presided over the room.  The rector of the seminary spoke to us first and told us his impressions of the men we would soon be meeting as we distractedly sipped at our coffee.

Then, about a half hour into the meeting, the Bishop lead the soon-to-be-ordained-preists in the room and sat them in alphabetical order across from us.  Fortunately the Bishop was not of a mind to prolong the torture and immediately went about the task of announcing the assignments.  Here are the results:

Deacon Peter Bang                       Holy Angels, Bainbridge
Deacon Jacob Bearer                     St. Francis de Sales , Akron
Deacon James Cosgrove           St. Christopher, Rocky River
Deacon Eric Garris                      St. Raphael, Bay Village
Deacon Matt Jordan                      St. Hilary, Fairlawn
Deacon Robert McWilliams                St. Joseph, Strongsville
Deacon Peter Morris                     St. John Vianney, Mentor
Deacon Anthony Simone           St. Sebastian, Akron

Notice Deacon Simone is at the end of the list.  It was agony waiting to see who would be coming to St. Sebastian.  When it was down to just Deacons Morris and Simone, I was as tense as a cat on the sting above a pool of swimming doberman pinchers.  Quickly enough, by process of elimination, it became clear that we would be blessed to have Deacon Simone at St. Sebastian!

About a month ago we had a dinner for this class at St. Sebastian.  Even though they were not supposed to know, for various (and good reasons if anybody from the diocese is reading this) they knew that one of those men would be coming here in June.  “If they were puppies,” they told me, “and we get to pick one of them . . . “  Well don’t you know Deacon Simone was at the top of the list!

The rest of the afternoon was a workshop basically detailing how best it might be for old men (me) and young men (the deacons) to live together in harmony.  Then we had to go our separate ways for they had a seminar to go to that evening.  It was like getting a new bike and being told you can’t ride it for two months.

When I went through this as a young almost priest, we left the meeting and found phones to call people and tell them where we were going.  Whey Fr. Pfeiffer was coming to St. Sebastian, all of his class and phones to immediately text to their family fiends where they were going.  At this meeting, WE ALL HAD PHONES and by the time the meeting was over, parishes were already posting the results! 


Please keep all of these men in your prayers.


You are invited to the ordination at St. John Cathedral on May 19th at 7:00PM.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CCCLXXXVI

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "God is of no importance unless He is of supreme importance."  from Abraham Heschel's, "God in Search of Man."

QUOTE II:  "An insight is not meaningful to one unless it is capable of becoming meaningful to all men."  same source.

IN OTHER NEWS:
On the first (and only) day after Easter that I was going to be able to sleep in, my phone pinged.  I tried to ignore it but thought, "If someone is calling this early, it might be an emergency."  And it was.  A cat fell in the window well at the new Julie Billiart School of St. Sebastian, Akron.  She was unreachable from the interior window so some concerned neighbors brought over a ladder, cat food, a carrier, and protective gloves in case she was a fighter.  (She wasn't.)


All safe.  Bet she doesn't do that again.

Fr. O sent this picture of Monsignor, the St. Joseph rectory dog.
It may not be Memorial Day yet but it's time for the summer hats to come out.
Last night was Theology on the Rocks!  The incredible Fr. Pfeiffer of St. Paul, Akron will be the next speaker.  Make plans to join him now!
The next Theology on Tap will be may 10th in Peninsula.  Looking forward to seeing you there.

Here's for a laugh . . .