Thursday, January 17, 2019


The good thing about being mad at God is that it is evidence that there is still a relationship there.    One cannot be mad at someone with whom they are not somehow still connected.  The opposite of love is not hate (or anger) it is indifference.  Indifference is a total lack of concern or care (or even thought!) for the other.  They might as well not exist.  Anger means there is still something to be redeemed and healed.

The first question to ask is, “Is being mad at God legitimate?”  When the wheels fall off in life it is so much easier to have someone (or Someone) to blame.  It happened because of THIS PERSON!  ARG!”  When it is difficult to place it on a person (or we don’t want to face that we might be at fault) and we look around, there is always God Who is a handy target.  “It was the woman that YOU put here with me!” said Adam looking to share the blame.

“How could God let anyone get away with that sin in this world?  If I were God I would (zap that person out existence - make so they couldn’t hurt anyone - make the weak strong enough to beat them up . . . )”  But if God took away man’s ability to sin, He would ipso facto take away our ability to love.  If I put a pie in front of you and your worse enemy, you might have the choice to offer him a piece or smash it in his face.  If God takes away the second option and, acting in your nature, you may only give him a piece, then you really can’t take credit for it.  It isn’t really love.  That is why we can say that a squirrel can act lovingly but they don’t really love you.  So if God did not allow people to sin, then we wouldn’t really be able to love either.

If people chose the good and we were less secretive, that would take care of most of the tragedies in the world.  If we were more charitable, we could wipe out hunger, much illness and provide education for everybody.  It is to these things that Christ is constantly calling us and at these things the world is constantly and consistently falling short.  I suppose God could make us do the right things but then we would be a world with everything but love, heroes or saints.

If we were not steeped in original (and subsequent) sin, the world would be about 98% better I think.  That still leaves natural disasters though.  That is not as easy to contemplate.  One answer that is not very satisfactory is that before the fall, man and nature got along splendidly.  After the fall we see all kinds of natural disasters.  When things are set right, the balance will return, (The wolf will be guest of the lamb and all that.)  But I don’t find it very satisfying most of the time.

What natural disasters do provide is the opportunity for man to work with God in bringing relief and healing where some tragedy has happened, to bring aid, to bring comfort, to bring healing, to bring presence.  That is one of the things that I love about the Catholic Church.  While everyone else is rushing to have a presence at any given event, you most likely will find that the Catholic Church has already had a presence there for some time, is helping in time of disaster, and will be there long after the cameras and most others have left.  It is situations like these that help us prove our mettle.  

If a typhoon hit St. Sebastian would this be enough to get me through?  It would get me through a lot.  So would having God as a recourse rather than an adversary.  And, even through tears, it would be the idea that ultimately God will take care of me even if everything here was blown to smithereens and me along with it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY FOUND:  "By attempting to place himself at the center of all and to reduce all to himself, the man ruled by pleasure becomes the slave of all.  He finds only disillusionment and discuss in the miserable, fleeting possession he has made is ultimate end."  from Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.'s "Know the Love of God"


This Sunday is the Feast of Saint Sebastian!  Nathan McDevitt, student of graphic arts at the University of Akron, made this image of our patron saint for use this coming weekend.  Awesome!
 To help celebrate you are invited to a Potluck Dinner
 It was awesome at our last Theology on Tap sponsored by St. Hilary who is celebrating 60 years.
 Here is the next Theology on the Rocks
 M.W. saw this critter in Schneider Park!
 Fall classes are being announced!
This is cool.  This is his entire book read to you.  If you are doing something and need something good to listen to - here you go!

Thursday, January 10, 2019


Having a relationship with God is much like having a relationship with any person.  God is, after all, a person.  Granted, He is a Divine Person, but He is someone with Whom to be in a relationship just the same.  

All relationships develop.  Even as an infant, to a certain extent, one must learn who Dad is.  This happens by spending time together talking, playing, eating, learning what each likes - the gamut of what it is to be in a close relationship with another person.

How does one apply this to God?  It is no secret.  You spend time together, we are invited into each other’s activities, we learn about Him, talk with Him, do the things that He likes to do, etc.  In other words, don’t treat Him as though He were merely a force, an emergency dispatch Person, some distant being or only an historical figure.  He is alive and active all around you, calling you at every moment, desirous of you, shouting out for you, wanting to walk with you and be consciously with you.

BUT - if you don’t know how to do this - even if you pray every day - how do you get started?  Get started like you would with anybody that you want to get to know but can’t quite figure out how to fit into each other’s lives yet.  Start by holy flirting.  Whenever or wherever you come across Him, smile and send a hello - like a quick text.  If you are in a deadly meeting and God comes to mind, don’t think, “Gee, I’ll have to pray later,” send him a text prayer immediately.  “Hello God.  Me here.  Bored.  Thinking of you.”

Make a surprise visit to His house.  Pop in for just a moment.  “Hey God.  It’s me!  I was in the neighborhood and thought I’d pop in and say hi.”

Open yourself up to a message from Him.  Make yourself available.  “Okay God, what do you want me to learn, understand or do today?  Who do you want me to meet?  Send me someone to do something for today.”

Spy on God.  Read a little of His history (Scripture.)  I bet His mom would just love for you to read about her Son since they didn’t have photo albums back them.  When you start, it doesn’t have to be an hour sloshing through the genealogy.  Take 5 minutes and pick a verse.

Also get to know His friends and find out more about Him through them.  The saints have all kinds and various insights into Him.

All relationships are two way streets.  It won’t be all God.  He respects you too much.  He is like the Good Neighbor Who sends cookies over to your house and sits out on His front porch and calls out, “Hello!” and invites you over dinner.  “Come on over!  I’d love to have you for dinner anytime!  There is always a place at the table for you whenever.”  We just have to stop a frantic life, walk up to the railing of the porch and choose to set the date.  

Tuesday, January 8, 2019


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "You can knock off the King's head once.  But you can knock off the King's hat any number of times."  from G. K. Chesterton's, "What's Wrongs with the World."

QUOTE II:  "Thrift is poetic because it is creative; waste is unpoetic because it is waste."  same source


E. F. sent in THIS article about a house of discernment in the Diocese of Shrewbury in response to the possible idea of creating something in Akron.

Below is an advertisement by Henninger's that I found thought provoking.  Let me begin by saying bravi to all of the people who worked on the project.   BUT WHAT I FIND INTERESTING (and this is not meant as a slight to Henninger's) is that for many years progress and art would have reversed these pictures (or worse.)  When I was in junior high school I asked my pastor when will the Catholic Church stop ruining their churches.  He responded, and I quote, "When all of the money to be made wrecking the churches has been accomplished, they will then make a killing returning them all to their former splendor."  Quote a prophet that Fr. Joe.

 Here are some possible events for you:

Here is a picture from our Steel Drum concert.  I was really praying that we would get at least 20 people there.  In the end there was over 100 people at St. Paul in Akron!  Thank you so much for coming out!
If you would like to see a quick video snippet of the ACA Community steel drum band, go HERE.  And remember - we are always looking for new members.  Go HERE to find out more.

Sunday, January 6, 2019


It has been a while since I have posted I know.  It was a busy advent/Christmas season (so far.)  Big concert today too!  Well, maybe not big - but it is big to us.  Our first steel drum concert at St. Paul (4PM).  Anyway, I wanted to get back to posting but could not think of anything.  Then, in prayer, this was revealed to me what must have happened all those years ago:

Tuesday, December 18, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Meaning is the ultimate balance between, on the one hand, the chaos of transformation and possibility and on the the other, the discipline of pristine order, whose purpose is to produce out of the attendant chaos a new order that will be even more immaculate, and capable of bringing forth a still more balanced and productive chaos and order."  from Jordan Peterson's, "12 Rules for Life"


The final Advent Noon Adoration & Organ Recital is today!
 Here is the Christmas Mass Schedule:
 How can you not love living in a city with stores like this?
I wrote an article last week about starting a community for young adults in Akron.  I am told that it has become a matter of discussion in some circles and the article has become one of most read in recent times.  THE ONLY PROBLEM IS that few are giving me the feedback.  A few have, but if this is going to move forward, I need some evidence that it is needed.  Please consider Emailing me or in some other way getting to me (if you think it is a worthwhile project.)


Monday, December 17, 2018


So I go to the postoffice today and get in line with everybody else.  It is pretty darn quiet - a tad louder than a library when all of a sudden this lady cries out:
Literally (and I don't use that word lightly) EVERYBODY in the room jumped, turned and said, "WHAT?"  The lady was just on her phone talking her heart out.  "So I said to Teddy - oh wait, you're Teddy!  Ha ha!  Well, I said to Toddy . . . "

After she (eventually) got off the phone the man in front of her started to tell her a humorous story about how he was in a store and this lady was on a phone and how it disturbed everyone around her.
I don't know if she really didn't get it or if she was just playing ignorant so she could go on talking on her phone.  And get me, she wasn't just talking on the phone she was broadcasting to the greater Akron metropolitan area.  I was rather surprised she even needed a phone.  I am sure that she was loud enough for whomever was on the other side of the phone to hear wherever they may be.  
Grrr!  Why is this SOOOOOOOOO annoying???  

Then I'm driving home and listening to the radio - something I don't do that often but I wanted my mind off of the situation.  The Catholic radio station to which I was listening said, "We are going to play a homily from lent of last year."  I'm thinking, "Why lent?  Why not an old advent homily."  And then the priest quoted Scripture . . . 

That's why.

Thursday, December 13, 2018


So here’s a project I’m thinking on (and need to bring to Parish Finance Council, Pastoral Council, Staff and etc.)  But I wanted to see if you out there might have any ideas or interest.

Here’s the basic pitch:  The parish would establish (for lack of a better term at the moment) two houses of discernment, one for men and one for women.  These would be for young adults following college but before they begin their vocation or chosen way of life.  (So it is a temporary situation - with a limit.  You couldn’t be 45 and still living there.)  Many of these young adults come from colleges that had houses in which they could live with like minded Catholic people.  But there are those awkward years after college and before you establish your own home that it can be difficult to find like minded peers, become involved in a parish, and have support carrying on the faith.

Without hiring another staff person, it is difficult to keep a young adult group going because they age out or move away and often without building up new recruits behind them.  (I must say that current crop of young adults in Akron are outstanding in promoting community however.)  These houses would help perpetuate the young adult community in several ways:

  1. It would help young adults form community.
  2. It would aid those young adults becoming involved in a parish and Catholic culture.
  3. Because of the nature of a house, it necessitate bringing in new people from time to time.

It would not be just an (relatively) inexpensive flop house either.  Residents would be expected to:

  1. Go to Mass & practice the faith
  2. Continue their religious education
  3. Be involved in some ministry in the parish & local young adult groups
  4. Host young adult events such as service projects, dinners and formation nights.

There are a lot more details from legal issues to practical living arrangements but this is a brief overview to test your reaction.  I know this has been tried at other parishes outside of this diocese with (mostly) some good effect.  In the meantime, I’d like to get your input if you have any,

Thanks & God bless,

Fr. V

Tuesday, December 11, 2018


FINDNG TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "This doctrine of equality is essential to conversation."  from G. K. Chesterton's, "What's Wrong with the World"

QUOTE II:  "Anyone who has seen our unhappy young idealist in the East End Settlements losing their collars in the wash and living on tinned salmon will fully understand why it was decided by the wisdom of St. Bernard or St. Benedict, that if men were to live without women, they must not live without rules."  same source


Events for you to consider:

Advent Noon Adoration and Organ Recital TODAY (Tuesday) with Ruth Anderson, Director of Music Ministries at Holy Trinity Lutheran, Akron.  (Let's hope that it is less exciting than last week's!)

And tomorrow:

P.V. sent in THIS article about a fantastic prayer by a military chaplain before the Army-Navy game.

A person who was at a wedding at St. Sebastian recently wrote a blog post about the experience.  Find it HERE.

It's beginning to look a LOT like Christmas:

Putting up the rectory tree:
School Christmas Concert from my balcony seat:

Fr. K sent this in: SAVE THE DATE:  2nd Annual Priest vs. Seminarians Basketball Game!  Sunday, January 27th, 2019 Tip-off  6:00 PM  Hosted at St. Vincent - St. Mary High School, 15 North Maple Street, Akron, OH 44303, LeBron James Arena.  Suggested $2 donation will be accepted at the doors to benefit the St. Vincent de Paul Society.   Bring the entire family for a fun-filled evening!  

A parishioner, Mr. John Kastelic wrote the piece called, "Restoration" in honor of the restoration of St. Sebastian Parish church.  3.5 mins.  I hope you like it as much as I.

Monday, December 10, 2018


I can't make this stuff up.

(Sensitive stomach trigger warning.)

So, a dear priest friend of mine (who shall remain anonymous) decided it was time to get a dog.  I suggested a rescue dog like Sebastian and Chesterton.  And he did go look but he had other plans.
I have never had a puppy but having done some puppy sitting, I know that these little blossoms of cuteness need a tremendous amount of attention and tend to get into things.  But who am I to say?  I even kept my mouth shut when he showed up for brunch one Wednesday looking as though he was chased by a bear naked through a briar patch.
THEN he tells the story of what happened last week.  Apparently he has trained his puppy, let's call him Barfy, to get some of his pent-up energy out by trotting on his otherwise unused treadmill.
So the dog is having the time of his life merrily trotting along when something went terribly wrong.  Some interesting and dreadful noises resonated from the puppy's stomach preceding an explosion of "material" from Barfy's working end.
Do you know how, when normally you can do things quickly and efficiently but in an emergency situation your hands turn into oven mitts and your brain turns to mush?  Well that is what happened to my poor priest friend.  Leaping up (from his comfy chair) he tried to come to the rescue of Barfy only to be foiled by the simplest of "OFF" switches while his poor puppy happily trotted along and continued to spray paint the treadmill.

What made matters worse was that the "puppy material" was spraying off the end of the tread, splattering onto the wall and carpeting only further exasperating the would be rescuer.  I didn't want to draw this because it would be gross but here is something none-the-less that will give you an idea:
Of course, at this point, what stuck to the treadmill is now coming around again and the puppy is . . . well, do you really want an explanation?

Fortunately, my friend got everything under control.  The puppy was wondering why the entertainment had to stop.  And then the fun part of cleaning up had to take place.  So tons of paper towels were used and put into a trash bag.  

I should explain that my friend is EXTREMELY sensitive to smells.  He is easily gagged.  So with the last of his strength, he ran the bag upstairs and intended to take it outside to the trash through their sliding glass door.

Now this door is a pain.  It's old and weary and sometimes needs some gentle finessing to get it to open.  A smelly bag, a sensitive nose and weak stomach is no time for finessing.
And thus the perfect storm for cleanup #2.
I must say that I am proud of the spirituality of my friend who has learned to laugh at himself and who is open to growing from his past experiences.

Friday, December 7, 2018


Right on Fr. Pfeiffer’s heals another priest came along who would take a weekly room at the rectory.  The priest, who visited Akron every Wednesday from a neighboring state, would take a hotel room for which his order would pay.  He had a ministry that operated out of a neighboring parish that was eventually slated to close  He came knocking on our door to see if we would be open to having the ministry move to St. Sebastian.  The young priest from Barcelona, Spain fit in well and a month or so into his ministry here I said to him, “If your order would give me a quarter of what they pay the hotel, you could just stay here every week. You would have the company of priests, an open kitchen, and not worry about check in or check out times.”  A deal was struck. 

Fr. Trullio was a delight to have around.  He was unsure about Sebastian (the dog) but he did enjoy joining us for the dog’s daily walks.  On such walks we talked about the differences between Barcelona and Akron and surprisingly Akron was not always the loser.  “Why do you Americans build your cities in the woods?” he asked one day.  Our neighborhood is well inside the boundaries of the city of Akron and is by no means in “the woods,” but if you have ever been to Barcelona, you might understand why he asked this question.  

He was also fascinated by yard sales.  It took a couple of weeks for him to wrap his mind around people taking things out of their houses, putting them on their lawn, and selling them.  An offer of joining us for a dog walk was usually accompanied by the question, “Will we be able to stop by a yard sale today you suppose?”  It became a fruitful endeavor as more furniture for empty rooms was found.

Thursday, December 6, 2018


Guest Blogger:  I am happy to have as our Guest Blogger today Deacon Michael Petkosek.  He won't be a deacon much longer as he will (if God wills it!) become a priest for the Diocese of Cleveland this spring.  Here is a reflection he gave on returning to Confession in the advent season.  Thank you Deacon Petkosek.  Please keep him & his class in your prayers!

My return to the active practice of the faith took place on a Saturday afternoon in 2006. I was a young professional and had just begun my career at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. The ruckus of college living had by then settled into a more mature focus on career and the necessities of life. Spurred by the disciplined atmosphere at Wright-Patterson of serving something beyond oneself, I began a serious reflection on faith and the state of my life. It had been years since I last celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation and I knew that I had misarranged my life during that intervening time. And so it was that I turned off college football on this particular autumn Saturday, sat in the corner of my bedroom, and practiced out loud the words of an honest confession. Then I went to the local parish to come face to face with God through his priest, and found the welcoming forgiveness of the Prodigal Father. I was home.

Returning to the Sacrament of Reconciliation can be difficult if we have been away. Often, as in my case, the weight of a misdirected life compels us to return and we find ourselves finally running in desperation to the Church and her ministry. But that is not necessarily everyone’s story, and sometimes we may need the right situation to draw us toward this sacrament that we know ourselves to need. Advent is that situation.

The Season of Advent is the turning of the liturgical year for the Church. It is a time of hope that anticipates Christmas and invites us to renew and deepen our life in Christ. A feeling of resolution pervades the whole Church as she resets her calendar, and the opportunity for a fresh start calls us to make resolutions in our practice of the faith that will enrich our lives this Christmas, over the coming year, and for the eternity of our existence.

An examination of Christ’s ministry may help to lessen our fears if we are struggling with the courage to approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We should keep in mind that when it comes to the forgiveness of sins, we are dealing with something that Christ did during his time on earth. The Evangelists clearly regarded Jesus as someone who possessed the authority to forgive sins and exercised this divine prerogative. We need to look no further than Jesus’ encounters with the paralytic in Mark’s Gospel, the woman caught in adultery of John’s Gospel, or the sinful woman forgiven in Luke’s Gospel to find the early Church’s profession of faith in Jesus’ ministry of forgiveness. We should also be encouraged by the reality that it is this same ministry that continues in the Church. It is in John’s Gospel, where the Last Supper Narrative most directly relates to the continuation of Jesus’ work through service to others, that these words are attributed to our Lord, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you… Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them…” (20:21-23). There is not a more clear Biblical account that situates the forgiveness of sins as an action of the Church. 

Coming to grips with our sinfulness can be scary. But, we should not let ourselves be fooled by the false notion of God as an administrator of punishment. The Good News is that God loves us in the midst of our sin and is constantly at work in drawing us to himself, even when this takes the form of being called back to God—like my experience of return from a misarranged life. In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the other half of the story is the Prodigal Father who never stops loving his wayward son. The father so hopes for his son’s return that, upon seeing him afar off, runs to meet him and never speaks of the incident in any other manner than my son has returned. The son had suffered the consequences of his actions—the effects of sin—but these are repaired upon returning to his father. The son is restored immediately by a father who longs for his presence. This Prodigal Father is God and the entire parable represents the experience of our sin. God is always eager for our return and the Sacrament of Reconciliation brings us back into the Father’s house, clothed with dignity, as the Prodigal Son was restored to his father’s house.

The celebration of the sacrament is meant to be an experience much like a Gospel encounter with Christ. We should say to the priest what we would say to Jesus if we were a penitent who encountered Jesus in a Gospel story, for indeed we are. The stern formality once associated with the sacrament exists today only as a caricature portrayed by the entertainment media. Instead, the rubrics of the liturgical rite that guide the celebration of the sacrament are almost transparent and are intended to facilitate a conversation. The priest is to serve as a visible instance of God’s welcome and mercy, someone who helps us to experience what the paralytic, the woman caught in adultery, and the sinful woman once experienced. The Church’s intention is to invite us to make a thoughtful examination of our conscience—to help us evaluate our circumstances honestly as did the Prodigal Son. We are not necessarily directed to produce an exhaustive list our venial sins, but a state of our life at the present moment; we should talk about sinfulness as much as we name specific instances of sin. Of course, any grave sins that an examination does reveal to us need to be named specifically in the confession. 

As we approach Advent, my hope is that you will desire to encounter Christ through his ongoing ministry in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The Father desires this privileged encounter with his mercy for you; the priest in the confessional is the Prodigal Father running to meet you. I can attest that that Saturday in 2006 was a Gospel story that has been added to the entirety of Christ’s work. In the Story of the Young Professional, I am as a contemporary of the Prodigal Son. May this Advent lead you to the same joy, especially if you have been away. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "In our own lives the voice of God speaks slowly, a syllable at a time.  Reaching the peak of years. dispelling some of our intimate illusions and learning how to spell the meaning of life-experiences backwards, some of us discover how the scattered syllables form a single phrase.  Those who know that this life of our takes place in a world that is not all to be explained in human terms; that every moment is a carefully concealed act of His creation, cannot but ask: is there anything wherein His voice is not suppressed?  Is there anything wherein His creation is not concealed?"  from Abraham Heschel's, "God in Search of Man."


P.V. sent THIS article in on the War on Advent.

P.V. also sent THIS article about Starbucks keeping customers from watching porn in their stores.

Notice the relief on Fr. Simone's face when I said I was joking when I said he was fired and that he could quit the new job he took on.
Some events that might interest you during advent:

Recently a priest friend of mine sent me a note saying that the site "Fight the New Drug" movement is pretty darn good.  You can find it HERE.  Here is another of it's previews:  (5 Mins.)

Sunday, December 2, 2018


So apparently we had mice in the rectory.  Marcy brought us over some food and went to put it in the cupboard (misspelled above but I didn't want to redraw it) and saw evidence that a mouse had been in there.  She cleaned it up and put a FEW mouse traps in there with a warning to be careful when reaching in there blindly for some ValueTime cheese curls or something.

So fine.  That was that.  Then we had a few people over to celebrate a birthday when this happened:
All this fuss about a cute, defenseless tiny grey mouse that was simply walking across the basement floor.  

As it turns out, the Franciscan spirituality only goes so far around here and we were given more traps to set out.  So we used up the remains of a jar of peanut butter and set some more traps around the house.  We put them in very strategic places so that the dogs could not get to them.

UNFORTUNATELY while I was gone on Wednesday, the carpets in the house were cleaned.  The cleaners did a fine job but as part of their cleaning, they moved furniture, stacked things on couches and beds and tables.  It took a little while when we were in the basement to think, "Oh dear, that means something bad for the dogs."  At just that moment, Sebastian started digging behind a table.  Almost at the same time I started yelling, "Sebastian!  No!" there was a SNAP!