Friday, December 6, 2019

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: BORING BEATITUDES

I can’t stand the beatitudes.

Well, that’s not exactly true.  I can’t stand the way they are taught.  In my experience they are presented in a fashion a kin to “we should be nice to each other,” vacuous platitudes that do little good.  You can’t fight it (who wants to not be nice?)  But like another “footprints in the sand” plaque, what do you do with it?

In fact, the beatitudes are as practical being reminded to change the batteries in your smoke detector when the time changes: they are life savers.  When ignored we do so at our spiritual, mental and physical peril.  But we need to understand them more in depth than, “Oh, you should be kind to poor people.”


For the next little while (and if time permits) Friday Potpourri will be focusing on the Beatitudes.  I hope you enjoy them but even more, mine out of them more than platitudes but of a practical way of living.  

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CDLXX

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "The whole meaning of morality is a rule that we ought to obey whether we like it or not.  If so, then the whole idea of creating a morality that we like better is incoherent."  from J. Budziszewski's, "What We Can't Not Know"

IN OTHER NEWS:
Deacon Terry's wife, Susie died last night.  There is no further news at the moment.  Please keep her and her family in your prayers.

The rose window in the original church at St. Sebastian which was once located here:

and during the renovation of the building into a hall and moved to here:

has been removed.  After 90 years of exposure to the elements, the wooden frame needed to be rebuilt.  It should be returned soon.

These reproductions are available for sale in the parish rectory.  Might be a good Christmas present for the right person on your list.

I referenced this video on Thanksgiving.  I hope you get as much of a kick out of it as I did.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: HAT HAIR vs HAIR HAT

 I don't think that being baldish bothers me but apparently it does.  I've saved a fortune on shampoo and haircuts and there is no need to worry about wearing hats, riding in convertibles or styling.  BUT, apparently at some level it must bother me because I have a reoccurring dream that I comb my hair slightly differently (not that I actually have anything to comb anymore) and discover that I have this lucious head of hair . . . 

The consolation prize is that I became a man who wears hats - both to stay warm in the winter and to guard against the sun in the summer.  Over the years I've accumulated quite a collection of these head toppers - everything from a skull cap to porkpie.

The other day I ended up getting a slouch hat.  It looks something like this:
Loved ones have told me never to wear a hat like this - apparently I am too old and too unhipster.  Still, I tried one out walking the dogs the other day.

We were walking along and one of the dogs went to the bathroom.  So I bent over to retrieve the production and when I stood up the hat slouched across my face.

So there I was with two leashes in one hand and a bag of post-dog treats in the other and a hat over my face.  So I threw my head back and shook it back into place and it FELT LIKE THIS:


That settled it.


Monday, September 9, 2019

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: WALK ON BY (DOOT DO DO DAH DOOT DO) FOOLISH PRIDE . . .

Do you know that feeling when someone is glad to see you and then at the last second they see something that makes them even more excited?
I know that nothing is meant by it.  It's like being excited to go to the movies but finding out there is a carnival in the parking lot.  Carnivals are rare and the movie house is always there.  But when the carnival leaves you won't notice it much and are very happy the theater is still there.

Still, when this happens, it is better when it is for a sensate being.  
Of course people are happy to see Sebastian.  Not only is he a rarer treat he is MUCH furrier and affectionate than I am.  Plus he has that tail thing going.

Last week Transitional Deacon Joe made a return visit to St. Sebastian.  One would think a movie star or something stepped on to the property.
But I get it.  I was excited also.  Who wouldn't be.  The vast majority of the time people are generally glad to see me so the key is to accept these moments with patience and grace.
*you're*

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CDLXIX

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed. That creed is set forth with dogmatic and even theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence; perhaps the only piece of practical politics that is also theoretical politics and also great literature. It enunciates that all men are equal in their claim to justice, that governments exist to give them that justice, and that their authority is for that reason just. It certainly does condemn anarchism, and it does also by inference condemn atheism, since it clearly names the Creator as the ultimate authority from whom these equal rights are derived."  from G. K. Chesterton's, "What I Saw in America"

IN OTHER NEWS:

I was in New York visiting recently.  My sister took this picture of me and sent it me yesterday.  What   great day!
Gifts that nailed it:
Last Theology on the Rocks.  Great crowd!  I think the new venue is a winner.  Great job Fr. Jordan.
As Perkins comes down I think of all my old schools that have disappeared.  Old architecture slowly fading away.  Thank goodness we take such good care of our 90 year old St. Sebastian.
Apparently we are a chiropractic school now.
Thanks to R. B. for sending this in.  7.5 minutes:

Monday, August 26, 2019

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: IT'S ALL A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE

So, Saturday was my birthday and I did not wake up a happy camper.  It's not that I don't like birthdays.  It was that this was going to be a killer day on top of being a birthday.  It was a perfect storm of events that made the day tight and busy.  Between Fr. Anthony and me we had three weddings, two Masses, one funeral, confessions and house guests.  As a confirmed and deep introvert, the day just seemed as though it was going to grind me down into dust. 

But as the day went on and things got done, the sun seemed to shine brighter, the air seemed cleaner, the tasks seemed more doable and the people were great.  I even made a new friend that day so there was that.  But still I had to ask . . . 

No kidding.  It was as clear as a locution could be.  And once I heard that it turned out to be one of the best birthdays ever.  Thank you God.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: TRIGGER WARNING, THE WORD "TRUMP" IS USED IN THIS CARTOON.

This is not a post about President Trump - it is about his name.  Say what you will about him good or ill, one can't deny that the mere mention of his name will bring about a strong reaction.  And typically a lengthy one at that.  It's like a popular song - whether you like it or not - of which you only need to hear a scrap of it and it plays in your head all day long.  Except, instead of playing in your head, all one needs is to hear the name "Trump" and someone else will go off all day long.
I get that people are passionate about the president - so much so that no calm discussion can be had about him.  Listen to the radio, open the paper, read a Facebook feed etc., and there will be a steady diet of news about him more than about anybody else I can remember.

Recently I was with a group of people who were not shy about their extreme dissatisfaction with our president.  Every time his name was mentioned, even by an otherwise ignored radio, the room would burst into an uproar.  There were so many things about which to talk - sports, art, what taco stand is the best - but it all went on hold for ten minutes to focus on someone they agreed numerous times that they disliked.  I'm even wary of writing this that someone out there will assume my position on the president and rake me over the coals for it - or are perhaps just angry that I associated his name with this comic.

One day I broke away to go for a walk and came across this piece of lawn art:
As I was preparing to take a picture of it, a man rode up behind me in his automated wheelchair and started asking me questions.  "What is it?  Is it a giraffe?  Isn't too big?"  As he was riding away I saw the sign on the back of his chair:
I decided not even to bring the sighting up as funny and ironic as it should have been whether you like him or not.

It's not that there are not things about which just about anybody could complain.  And it is good to get it out there.  But isn't there a point when it is not being productive any longer?

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: ANTHONY, ANTHONY, COME AROUND

This past weekend was a great one for our little neighborhood of West Akron.  The city brought the "BIG" stage out to Elm Hill Park, known to most people as Forest Lodge Park.  For two nights they had the Verb Ballet and on the third night the Akron Symphony Orchestra.  HUNDREDS of people made their way to our little park.  I had family and friends over and we walked out the front door of the rectory practically into the audience area.  NICE!

It was a great crowd.  The event planners were also great about cleaning up after.  It would be difficult to know there were so many people here the Monday after the event.  It was spectacular.

Even so, I warned the residents in the rectory that we should be careful about making sure buildings and vehicles are locked up.  Always a prudent thing to do anyway, it seemed especially sensible thing to do with the crowds that were expected.

But everything seemed fine - fine, that is until I went into the sacristy on Monday morning and was greeted with this:
Cigaret butts were bad enough but we could deal with it.  But the TABERNACLE KEY!  That was SERIOUS!  Was it left out after the last Mass???  Did someone take the opportunity to lift it?  A search was executed first for the key and to check out every nook and cranny to see if anything else was damaged or missing.  It seemed that the only thing missing was the key.  But that was serious.

So what was it?  Did someone come in and smoke (were they drunk or high?) and go up to the tabernacle and see the ornate key and decide just to pocket it?  This is awful!  I told our business manager to look at the security tapes but it NEVER FLIPPED UP TO THE SANCTUARY TO CATCH THE THEIF!  We put out a repair order for the camera.

Meanwhile plans were made to safeguard the Blessed Sacrament.  An extra key would have to be made (so we still would have two) and plans to have the lock changed and secure the building until it was or keep the Eucharist in the rectory tabernacle until this was resolved - or what?  Put a chain around the tabernacle doors?

While all this mania was going on, I took one last look in the vault.
Yep.  There it was.  Not in its usual spot but it was in there.  So no need to repair the security cameras.  What a waist of perfectly good hysteria.  It was like when Mom would tell you exactly were the Mayo was in the refrigerator and you would say, "I can't find it," and she should walk right in and put her hand on it.  "It's right there in front of your eyes John Anthony!  Why, if was a snake . . ."

Well.  Thank you St. Anthony.


JUST SO YOU KNOW:  I'm going to Kansas City - Kansas City here I come so I am not sure there will be any posts the rest of the week.  We'll see.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CDLXVIII

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been.  The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'"  Isaac Asimov

IN OTHER NEWS:

It is difficult to see through the trees but the city is setting up the "BIG" stage in Elm Hill Park (AKA Forest Lodge Park) across the street from St. Sebastian.  We have been wondering where they were going to set it up - it will be over by the ball field.  Thursday and Friday night there will be the ballet and on Sunday night the Akron Symphony Orchestra will play practically in my front yard.  Awesome!
Bishop Barron in the Childfree Life (8.5)

Monday, July 22, 2019

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: NEW WAYS TO DO OLD THINGS

Some of you may not want to read this.  Trigger warning.

Yesterday I spent much of the day at our seminary with some other priests helping Fr. Trenta, formerly in residence at St. Sebastian and currently my cousin, get acclimated to his new digs.  It reminded me of something that happened a few years ago when I was there visiting Fr. Ott.  I needed to use his necessary room (WC) and he suggested that I use his new contraption and see what I think. This was back when the Squatty Potty was all the rage.  Only if you need to know what this is see the following video - if not, skip it.


So I tried it out and it seemed to me a waste of a portion of a perfectly good paycheck.
And this is why, even on the simplest of new things, one should always explain to someone who has never seen or heard of such a thing how to use it.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

DON'T SETTLE FOR SECOND BEST

If you have a creek that flows through your property that you absolutely appreciate and want to clean the water that runs through it, it would be wise to first clean the head waters that are not on your property.  If the water that comes in is clean, that means the water on your property will be cleaner.  If you care for that which is first, second things are cared for better.  

It’s a rough analogy, but that is kind of what Jesus was talking about when He said, very bluntly, “He who loves (mother, father, son, daughter . . . ) more than Me is not worthy of Me.”  (Matthew 10:37).  Very often someone will say that they find it difficult to love God more than a spouse or child as if by loving God first, their loved one is loved less.  This is not the case.  In fact, it is the opposite.

God is not a source of love.  God IS love itself.  He is the river and source of all love that flows into your life.  Although we say that there are different kinds of love, there is not.  There is only one love and it comes from God.  There are different appropriate expressions of it, but there is only one love.  If we love God first, second persons are not loved less but are loved more in keeping with their nature - they are loved better and more fully.


Placing all of one’s hopes of being loved, of being cared for, of being protected and appreciated on a human person is too much for any human to bear.  It is hanging a hat on a hook that cannot support the weight.  That weight is to be borne by God.  Placing it entirely on another human person leaves us extremely vulnerable to disappointment or devastation.  

Building first on the love of God takes an extreme pressure off of a relationship and leaves both far less vulnerable.  It helps give them the security of being loved while not taxing each other for a sense of self worth and dignity.  That all flows from upstream, purifying the waters of love and making it far easier to tend to.  


Our faith is not just about following a bunch of rules, it is about discovering how we thrive best.  As creatures we have certain conditions in which we flourish.  Loving God first is one of those ways in which human relationships grow to their potential.  Cutting God out of that process or making it secondary is placing true love on a back burner in favor of something less worthy and effective.  Unknowing, perhaps, they want less than God.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CDLXVII

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "The man who won't give up comfort for success makes a bad partner."  from Richrd Stark's, "The Jugger"

QUOTE II:  "The necessary can always be done."  same source.

IN OTHER NEWS:

Last night was Theology on the Rocks with Fr. Zerucha.  There were over 90 people who fit FAR better in this new venue.  The food was a step up from last month.


 Thanks to seminarian Joe Mannerino who provided entertainment on the piano.
 All kinds of plant improvements going on at the parish - but these make me smile a little more - a new fence in the cutting garden:
 And our flagpole was painted!
From last night's talk - Should we baptize extraterrestrials?  

Sunday, July 14, 2019

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD

We've had a lot of over night guests at the St. Sebastian rectory as of late.  It's been a lot of fun having a full house.  It can also be a lot of work at times but it is worth it both for me and for the parish community coming in contact with so many wonderful priests and seminarians.

One of the things you give up (as anybody in any kind of relationship knows) when you invited people into your life is total control.  For example, Marcy was in the kitchen the other morning asking, "What is THIS doing in THIS drawer?"  I replied, "Yeah.  It made sense to somebody.  If you can't find that for which you are looking just keep going.  It will turn up somewhere."  Better these little triflings than to be living by myself in this big house with a fern.

So you do your best and try to fix what you can and so I headed up to the room to set things right (trying to save the parish a few bucks.)
 I turned off the lights, and started shutting the windows . . .
And yes it did stink in there.  Badly.  I was thinking that I may have to have a talk with the person in the morning about hygiene and communal living.  But, as it turns out, I would have had the conversation with the wrong lodger.

In another room, a good buddy of mine was taking something of a retreat.  He moved in for a few days to enjoy the rectory, con-celebrated Mass and take advantage of the quiet in the house and the good food at table.  I thank Monsignor Zwisler, the founder of the parish and the man who built this rectory, that he made it nice and provided us with a number of suites so that we could be hospitable to clergy who need a room from time to time.

Father didn't come alone however.  He brought a roommate; a chocolate lab who, by the way, turns one year old today!  Happy birthday buddy.  Anyway, he is a TRUE puppy and with enough energy that he probably makes a significant addition to global warming.  While an adorable, welcome and friendly dog, he is not quite as well trained (yet) as Sebastian and Chester.  It must be like having kids - when you don't see him and it is very quiet, you know something bad is happening.

Well, apparently he made his way into the the other lodger's room who left the light on and the windows open, climbed up on the bed and left a little (well, BIG actually) present.
THAT was the smell that I detected when I went in to close the windows.  I almost left without noticing the offending pile but something made me look over at the last second.  I got the owner and showed him what happened and we stripped, cleaned and changed the bed.  

Now mind you, it was already pretty late at night.  Going for the walk was the last thing I was going to do before hitting my mattress.  I wonder, what would have happened if the lights were not left on or the window left open?  I would not have gone in that room!  Further proof that getting upset and upsett worthy things is not always productive.  Sometimes it is God using unusual circumstances to bring attention to something that needs tending to.  What if that lodger had come in late, late, late at night (as he did) and just dove on to his bed to crash (which he did), what disaster would have taken place then?

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CDLXVI

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "The Ten Commandments were meant to salvage Israel's freedom by staving off whatever could menace it.  What at first blush looks like bondage (a catalogue of duties) in fact protects freedom . . . [they] are something like a code of honor of free people, of gentlemen who are aware of 'what is not done.'"  from Remi Brague's, article, "God as a Gentleman" in First Things

IN OTHER NEWS:

Tickets on sale now!  We sold out last year - just so you know . . . 
Working on the bell tower of the school cleaning and tuck pointing:
Fr. Latkovich came to visit and make us dinner!
Mulch Day!  Everybody's favorite day!  Lots of volunteers + 80 yards of mulch + 8 acres = a long day.
Corpus Christi procession from St. Sebastian to the Julie Billiart chapel.

Bishop Barron on the Limits of Tolerance - Gosh, isn't it wonderful to have a bishop so in love with he faith and the Church and sticks his neck out so publicly so often!?