Thursday, July 31, 2014

NO,NO, NO, NO, NO NO NO - WE WILL FACE THE SHARKNADO


Last night I watched the world premier of Sharknado Two; the Second One, unfortunately one of the best films of the summer.  The movie left off just as the clean up was about to begin.  The city is infested with man eating sharks (not enough room here to explain), injured people, and buildings left in rubble – not to mention the flooding.  Who is going to help clean all that up?
 
The Catholic Church.  We are so connected as a worldwide Church that we have the mechanisms in place to immediately step in and start bringing aid to those who need it.  Catholic hospitals will treat the patients.  Catholic social services, Catholic Charities, Catholic work groups would help.  Collections from Sunday Masses across the country/world would come streaming in.  Catholic services would be set up for those who need the sacraments.  The gates of Sharknadodom would not prevail against it.
 
Think of all the atheist societies that would come to help.  The Atheist General Hospital, the Atheist Charitable Society, money would stream in from collections at the Sunday morning atheist community gatherings and from collections taken up at the local Atheist Elementary Schools. 

 

I wonder if the local atheist meeting hall provides as much to a community as the local parish.  I think of all the things that this parish provides for this part of Akron.  Education, sports, concerts, lectures, arts, community support during times of death, crisis, or illness, retreats, camps, dances, cultural and entertainment events, hubs of information about and how to be involved in local, national, and worldwide concerns, clubs for persons of all ages, youth groups, gardening clubs, beautiful grounds and playgrounds used by the community, charitable organization that reach out to the parish boundaries, to the diocese, and to the world.  Permanent jobs are provided for a couple score of people in everything from teaching and arts to ministry and business offices.  Other recent jobs include roofers, plasterers, painters, organ construction, plumbers, heating and cooling professionals, landscapers, architects, construction workers, sign makers, carpet layers, and more.  A bit over three million dollars passes through this part of town as part of our budget annually.  It provides a voice for the neighborhood.  So much so that studies show that when a Catholic parish closes in a struggling neighborhood, the neighborhood goes into a steep and accelerated decline because a Catholic parish is so connected to other parishes, the diocese, and people outside of the immediate neighborhood it kept the neighborhood alive.  The parish also provides spaces for the community to rent for everything from wedding receptions to city meetings. 
 
AND ON TOP OF ALL THAT: providing sacramental healing, forgiveness of sins, adoption into the family of God, the reception of the Eucharist, receiving on the Holy Spirit, and uniting in matrimony.  All that in just a couple of acres. 

 

So beware sharks!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A GREATER HISTORY THAN FROM A SHELF AT KMART

One time I went to an (I am embarrassed to say this) Engelbert Humperdink concert.  (It was free and really good seats and accompanied by a great dinner.)  Anyway, at a certain part of the concert, Mr. Humperdink would swipe sweat from various parts of his anatomy with a red handkerchief and ladies of a certain age would crowd the stage and he would toss the handkerchiefs out causing a mad frenzy of grabbing.
 
I would like to tell you it is not my thing, but it is.  Not Mr. Humperdink's used hankies exactly, but i think humans tend to like things with connections.  I just took a clock to the clock shoppe (no, not that one) to have it repaired.  It belonged to my grandparents and because of that it means more to me than simply going out to Bob's Discount Clock Shop and buying another one.  Besides, it makes the story better.  Go to a flee market and the price goes up sharply when something has an interesting history.  "This once belonged to . . . "  Have two sailor's caps, one used by a sailor in WWII and another brand new - which do you think will be the greater purchase?
 
So we like things with history and Catholics are especially atuned to this, which is what made last Monday so special.  We came into possession (very temporarily) of St. Padre Pio's chalice.  As you can see below, it is a very simply piece but with some good weight to it.
We used to for Mass.  I was suprised that meant as much to me as it did.  My pinky caught on something on the bottom and a thought flashed through my head, "How many times did the saint's finger pass over the same familiar spot?" 
I was a little concerned about the authenticity of the chalice.  After all, what would his chalice be doing in Akron, Ohio?  "What good ever came out of Nazareth" right?  But it was sealed with all the proper seals and had a certificate "Certificato" of authenticity.  I spent some time trying to translate it (not too shabbily I might add) before I found an English translation on the reverse.  "This is a cup used by Fr. Pio in 1960 and shared with his brothers.  It was donated to the museum on 1977." 
So who knows how many times he actually used it.  Maybe once.  Maybe a thousand times.  It appears as though it was also used by the community.  I tried looking up an image of him using it but failed to do so. 
 
So afterwards we had an opportunity for people to come forward and venerate this second class relic.  But as absolutely cool as it was to hold onto what the saint did - to have that tie - what really gave the chalice worth is that it held, just moments ago - and at least since the 1960s, the precious Blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  In that way, every chalice should instill in us a certain amount of awe.
 
(But it was still cool.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CCCXXIII

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  Ode to summer quotes - "Porch sitting allow(s) great lapses while thoughts (are) gathered, or while there is no thinking at all."  from John Grisham's, "The Summons"
 
QUOTE II:  "This isn't a porch . . . This is a stoop!   A porch has a railing all around it, and it's all white, and it has a swing and some rocking chairs . . .and a little table with lemonade glasses, and warm nights, and fireflies, and crickets, and soft music, and a moon in the sky . . . "  Linus in a Peanuts comic strip
 
IN OTHER NEWS:
 
Divorce sometimes happens - but to pretend it isn't a big thing does not help the situation.  Here is a response to a Hufington Post article that challenges what it considers the benefits to children of divorce.
 
Hallie sent this in: "Attached is the photo of the Little Flower on the rose petal I showed you yesterday from the Rhoda Wise house. It is just so cool!"



Kevin sent this article in about a Catholic composer.
 
Here is over an hour of his music but I do not recommend it for work.  It is entitled "Sleep Music."

Sunday, July 27, 2014

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: A HUNTING WE HAVE WENT, A HUNTING WE HAVE WENT, ALL MY MONEY NOW IS SPENT, A HUNTING WE HAVE WENT

When I moved into the St. Sebastian Parish rectory most of the house had been given over to offices.  When I stepped out of my bedroom I would be in an office corridor which is wrong on so many levels.  So most of the offices were moved out of the rectory which presented a whole new set of problems.  Not the least of which was rooms now empty of furniture.
 
The rectory was built to have six suites, two guest rooms, and a live-in's suite.  Once all of the desks and chairs, potted plants, and inspirational posters had been moved out, there was need for furniture.  According to a 1961 appraisal of the parish property, the rectory has about 10,943 square feet of floor space, a lot of which now was bare.  In 1961 there was about $1,400.00 worth of furniture in the priest's residence, which is a scream.  I just plugged, "What is the average cost of a sofa" into my search engine and it said about $1,000.00.  That leaves enough money left over for a couple of lamps and a commemorative plate.  At the time this transition was happening the parish was in debt so furnishing the rectory had to be done on a shoes string budget.
 
Then came Fr. O to the rescue!  He was ordained and needed some place to store his stuff until he became a pastor.  In return for storing his stuff, I got to use it in the empty rooms.
Then with the priest shortage, he quickly became a pastor with his own rectory to furnish.
So I became a connoisseur of yard sales and junk shops.
And I was definitely not adverse to trash picking.  Here is an early example of it when I enlisted Aaron to help me pick up a coffee table that was sitting on the devil strip.  (If you don't know what a devil stip is, look it up.)  It is still in a guest room today.
I do take a certain amount of pride when someone says that they like a particular room in the house and I get to point at things and say, "Yard sale, yard sale, trash yard, donation, junk shop, and discount store."   Even Sebastian was a rescue dog.
 
The house is pretty much "done" now.  We don't need anything.  Everything from now on is just fun.  However, I was out to lunch the other day with our principal to discuss next year and beside the restaurant was a "high end" junk shop.  (I know, oxymoron)  We went in and there was a Regulator clock.  I have a fetish for mechanical clocks but I really didn't need another one.    What helped tremendously was that the clock was WAY over priced.
But it looked so pathetic sitting there - like a puppy at the dog pound.  My principal noticed that there was something wrong with the price tag and asked the clerk about it.  Apparently it had been in the shop so long it was now something like 75% off, a ridiculously low price.  So my resolve dissolved and I adopted another clock.
 
The only problem is that old clocks, particularly old mechanical clocks can have some oddities about them.  This clock only runs if it sits on the wall at an angle.  If you straighten it out, it stops working.  Such is one of the drawbacks of living a life of salvaging.  There was a merry war of sorts over the past month trying to get people to KEEP THEIR HANDS OFF OF THE CLOCK but now it seems everyone is informed and time has been marked well every since. 
 
Thank you to whoever kept good care of this clock in the past so that it could be handed on.  God bless you.

Friday, July 25, 2014

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: TO POST OR NOT TO POST? POST? WHAT IS POST?

We are in a new chapter of Dei Verbum called “The New Testament”.  What follows are some of my thoughts and then a look at paragraph 17.
 
Some events last forever.  Mount Sinai has been remembered and celebrated for millennia but who, other than historians and those who live in Texas, really remembers and celebrates the Alamo?  It is the same thing with writing.  The stories of Shakespeare are still in our cultural memory but how many plays, books, and poems that were once celebrated and predicted to be icons of our culture were never to be heard of again?
 
Shakespearean lines permeate our sub consciousness.  Some lines invoke certain plays everyone knows.  “To be or not be?  That is the question.”  So many of his phrases are so much a part of our everyday language we do not even know we owe Shakespeare for them:

 

Wild goose chase

Too much of a good thing

Mum’s the word

 

(Just to name a few)



 

It is much the same with Scripture.  Certain lines evoke scenes from the life of Christ.  “Truth?  What is truth?”  And our language is so permeated with Biblical references that even those who don’t know Christ use them.  For example:
 
A broken heart
A drop in the bucket
A sign of the times
A thorn in the side
 
The New Testament is a seminal work.  (I bet God is glad I approve.)   It changed everything.  It took culture in an entirely new direction.  Shakespeare named our culture well, Scripture formed it.  For those “with ears to hear” it is the revelation of things once hidden.  It is unveiling of who God is though his life, death, and resurrection, His ascension and sending of His Holy Spirit to complete His work of drawing all people together into unity and pointing them toward their heavenly Father. 
 
This was entirely novel.  Things were revealed that were never known before.  We have the opportunity to know truths that were not able to be known by those before this time nor by those whose hearts are not open to it.  “The writings of the New Testament stand as a perpetual and divine witness to these realities.”

Thursday, July 24, 2014

(YET ANOTHER REASON WHY) ART MATTERS


So Tuesday I joined another priest for lunch at a local grub joint and there was a T.V. in the corner competing for attention with assorted folk there.  On the screen was a black and white movie about the old west and in the scene which caught our eye, the closed caption revealed that one man was speaking to the other about King David and illicit desire for one of his commander’s wives, presumably to chastise him for whatever was happening during the rest of the movie.
 
The thought occurred to me then how amazing it is that art plays such a vital role not only in helping us understand who we are and where we are going, but how we view and understand our past.  It may be nothing like we imagine it but it will play a huge role in who we think we are and want to be. 
 
For example, ask any 15 year old and he will tell you the old west was full of cowboys toting around guns and having gun fights.  The fact is that this was not the case.  It is fabrication of our art.  Guns were far too heavy, awkward, expensive, and dangerous for everyone to be carrying around just in case they wanted to get into a fight.  (But that doesn’t make for a great movie.)
 
So it is with language.  A lot of slang, idioms, and references made up a lot more of everyday conversation in the past than it does today.  Yet when writing a old west cowboy script in 2014, one would never guess that Christ was ever born or meant anything to anyone.  That is why there is a fight over whether our founding fathers were interested in Christianity or not.  Exactly what does separation of Church and state mean?  Our history matters.  Our writers of history matter because they help influence who we think we are.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

WILL THERE BE ANYTHING ELSE FOR YOU?


There are two ways in which a person can own a horse.  The first (the model imagined by seven year olds everywhere) is where you pay to have your horse boarded.  You come by, when you have the time, to ride, give a carrot, and pat it on the nose.  The other way to own a horse is to 1) own a farm and 2) you go out twice a day to feed the horse, give a bale of hay (which you loaded into the barn last fall) and muck the stall, give it its daily exercise, groom, clean its hoofs, give it its shot and pills, find caretakers when you want to be a way, call the vet, etc. etc. etc. . .
 
This is also a model for two types of churches.  The first, you pay your money like you would at a gym, things are taken care of for you (babysitting, youth group, senior club, Bible studies, and so forth) and you can make certain demands (I pay good money to come here and I expect . . .) with the threat of going next door next Sunday.  The other is to belong to a church where you are part of the mission.  If there isn’t a Bible Study, you go talk to the pastor and if he can’t do it, you start one yourself.  If there are no greeters at the door, ask if you can start greeting people.  Outreach is not the pastor’s and staff’s responsibility, but everyone’s. 

 
Catholic parishes are closer to the second model in both, but often we try to be the first model and that frequently fails.  That is not to say that a pastor cannot use great ideas from the first model, but they are employed closer to the second model.  It is the difference in mentality of running a service in the hospitality industry and running a good family home.  The first has many perks and a few responsibilities, the second has many responsibilities and a few privileges and perks.
 
“I came to serve, not be served,” is the call we follow.  It is funny how easy it is to fall into the wrong mindset (from both sides!) 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CCCXXII

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  This quote was partially posted once before, but it seems so apropos to today (though written a century ago) it seemed fitting to print it at greater length:
 
"We say that the most dangerous criminal now is the entirely lawless modern philosopher.  Compared to him, burglars and bigamists are essentially moral men; my heart goes out to them.  They accept the essential idea of man, they merely seek it wrongly.  Thieves respect property.  They merely wish property to be theirs that they may more perfectly respect it.  But philosophers dislike property as property; they wish to destroy the very idea of personal possession.  Bigamist respect marriage, or they would not go through the highly ceremonial and even ritualistic formality of bigamy.  But philosophers dislike marriage as marriage."

IN OTHER NEWS:
 
Fr. Ference has an article on Word On Fire concerning the coming home of LeBron James.  (If you haven't read enough about the event already.)  Read it here.
 
Joe sent this in from yesterday's post and asked, "Separated at birth?"

 
From the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter:  Our bishop was down in El Salvador, our sister diocese, celebrating 50 years of cooperation between us.  Read more here.
 
Kevin sent this link to a five minute video concerning a story about an aborted abortion.  Thanks!

Monday, July 21, 2014

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: IN GOOD TIMES AND IN BARD

This past weekend we went to Stan Hywet Hall (see here) to see Twelfth Night at the Shakespeare Festival.  Twelfth Night is particularly interesting to me because I was in the production when I was in college.
 
Someone on the trip said they would like to see a picture of what I looked like in my halcyon days when I didst trod the stage boards.  So here is a picture of a picture of me during a time when hair was more than just a happy memory:
So we were sitting in the audience waiting for the show to begin and I was peppered with questions.



The truth is . . . I had a blast.  It was a fun time.  But DAILY I am thankful for being a priest.  It may have been fun for that season of my life, but I also remember having times thinking, "There is NO WAY that can do this for the rest of my life!"  That thought has never occurred to be with the priesthood.
 
But still . . . from time to time . . . when I think nobody is around . . .


Friday, July 18, 2014

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: BOTH EYES WIDE OPEN

Dei Verbum paragraph 16
 
Once, when I was a kid, a person joined our parish with the declaration, “I am here to save the parish!”  It was seen by some that we had to stop being who we were and be made in some new model of the 1970s.  The music had to change.  The way Mass was celebrated had to change.  The was CCD (now PSR) was taught had to change.  And in many ways they were correct.  In one crucial way they were wrong.  We couldn’t stop being who we were.  It should have been a fulfillment of who we were.  Instead, it appeared to be a mentality of “old is bad” and “new is good.”  It was not a development of who we were, it was an instant  and complete makeover.
 
The advent of the New Testament paid for with the Blood of Christ is not an inhalation of the Old Testament, it is a fulfillment.  The Old Testament is a building up to the NT and something that helps us understand it better.  Conversely the NT helps us understand the OT better by enlightening us further as to what God was trying to say through the law and prophets.  With both lenses of the binoculars we see better.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

IN THIS WORLD AND IN THE NEXT TO COME

I was thinking some more about the topic of yesterday’s post and whereas the points made yesterday may have some impact for society at large, there is another factor that is of particular concern for Catholics.  There was a time when the state and the Church were more united and at a time (as we still do today) when state executions took place.  One of the most grave punishments was to be executed without benefit of confession.  The (faulty) theory was that not only would you be separated from the community and be punished in this life, you would be separated from the communion of saints and punished in the next.  The consequences for the crime would be eternal.

 

Side note:  Of course there are some faulty points in this theory.  The persons so mentioned were being denied confession, they were not avoiding it.  God Who is so powerful and merciful that He can work through His sacraments can also work outside of them in necessity.  So if there was a person who was sincerely repentant and desired greatly to go to confession but the powers that be denied him access to the sacrament out of a sense of justice, do you really think God would then punish the truly repentant person for all eternity for something outside his power?
 
But what if we change the scenario a bit?  Let’s say the person who committed a crime has no intention of confessing his or her sin.  The person has great opportunities to go to confession, to be forgiven, but chooses not to.  What then?  “I know I can be forgiven and I have opportunity, but I choose not to.”
 
Ouch.
 
So revisiting yesterday, let’s say we start breaking the seal for very good reasons.  For certain crimes, Rome starts giving permission for priests to report to the authorities what was said.  (It won’t happen, but what if?)  Aside from what was talked about yesterday, it would also mean persons most in need of confession would stop coming.  They have access, but choose not to make things right with God.  So now, not only will they not speak with a person who might press them to make things right in this world, they will also not speak with the person who will help them make things right in the next.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

ALWAYS CONSIDER THE BLOW BACK


You may have heard that the Louisiana Supreme Court has ordered a priest to violate the seal of confession.  You can read more about that story here.
 
Now here’s the thing: The argument is that the penitent is said to have agreed that priest who allegedly hear her confession may reveal what was said.  Also, it sounds as though there was the possibility that the priest gave her really bad advice (an understatement if it is true.)  And would it not be great to have evidence against a child molester?  Why not then, in this one instance, allow the seal to be broken?

 

Here are a number of reasons why: First, the breaking of the seal of confession brings with it the automatic censure of excommunication.  No trial.  No paperwork.  It’s done when the acts occur and nothing can reveres it except a direct action of the pope.  And can you imagine calling the pope and saying, “Excuse me.  I broke the seal of confession.  Would you please let me back in to practice again?  I’ll get it right this time.”


 
More importantly for the greater world society however is that once the seal is broken for one really good case, it is broken forever.  Right now, people who have done truly horrendous things and would not tell anybody on the face of the earth (save for those who think what they did was Okay) would tell a priest in confession knowing the information dies right there.  The advantage of this is that here is one of the only places on the face of the earth where such a perpetrator can meet with another human being and be told, “That was wrong.  You need to do something about it.  Your very soul is at stake.”  Break the seal and that doesn’t mean these people will be reported, it means they will no longer speak to the one person who might convince them to do something.
 
Another thing to consider is the girl’s desire to have her seal broken.  She gave up the right did she not?  But think of pornography.  The persons filmed and displayed freely give up their human dignity so there really isn’t a problem right?  Wrong.  Their dignity is not ours to play with even if they freely reject it.  We owe them their dignity whether they seem to want it or not.  The seal is fixed even if someone decides they want it broken.  That is why when someone tells me something in the confessional I remind them that I cannot act on that information and if they want to talk about outside of the confessional they will need to tell me the story again.
 
Lastly, to break the seal is like relieving yourself in the pool.  You can say all that you want that is was only in the corner.  But everyone knows it affects the whole pool. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CCCXXI

FINIDNG TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "All lights go out on the way to God for they are not the true and everlasting light."  McNamera
 
QUOTE II:  "You have to know an awful lot about God before you can say properly God is unknowable."  -?
 
IN OTHER NEWS:

What I do on my day off.  Thanks Fr. M

Adam - always good for interesting conversation - sent this article in:  Atheism the Origin of the Species.
 
Mary sent this half hour video in:

Friday, July 11, 2014

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?


Dei Verbum paragraph 15
 
What other founder of a religion was foretold by prophets?  It is a common theme of stories now, in everything from Star Wars to Game of Thrones, but where historically has it happened?  With Jesus Christ.  (There are some who believe the prophet Mohamed was thusly foretold, but not without controversy.)  The place we look to see Jesus’ birth and reign, of course, is the Old Testament.  It is one of the reasons the Old Testament is so important for us.  Though the writings may contain matters that are “imperfect and provisional” for the Christian, they “never-the-less show us divine and authentic teaching.”  It is like understanding how your parents grew up before they met, married, moved, and had kids.  It explains a lot!  Therefore we are to hold dear these writings with their sublime teachings on God, wisdom, human life, as well as its “wonderful treasury of prayers.”  But so too is the mystery of our redemption hidden.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

WHO SAYS CATHOLICS AREN'T FUN?

Okay, THAT was supposed to be the title of last week's post of a similar name.  But it works out as it seems to fit well the topic that came up on a road trip yesterday.
 
Fr. Pf and I went to visit a friend, Fr. Miller in Pittsburgh.  You know, Pittsburgh is really a great town (at least the parts in which we were.)  One of the things we did was visit churches.  (Sounds like a blast doesn't it? - To each his own.)  At the parishes we visited there were places to light candles and to write petitions and such.  At each place I would offer up prayers for St. Sebastian and that I might be a good pastor to her people.
 
One really cool place we visited was St. Patrick.  "First in Faith!" it claimed as the first parish in the city.  Here is some information on it.  It's a tiny church and not all that beautiful but it was extremely interesting.  When you walk in you are confronted with a giant, marble staircase.  No!  The stairs are not for walking!  A sign an the kneeler before the stairs states, "HOLY STAIRS!  Ascend on knees - ONLY!"  For those who wish to get up to the church on their feet, there are lesser stairs on either side of the lobby to take you up to the Church as the sign states, "Please use stairs on either side of Front Doors."  As you can see, I went up the main stairs praying for the parish and for my ministry.  (Thank you Fr. Miller for taking the picture with your phone.  The nave upstairs was incredibly small.  Maybe it sat 60 people.)

 
But here was what we were discussing later as we ate lunch:  Is not the Catholic imagination cool?  We engage our not only our minds and souls but our very bodies in different acts of prayer.  There are ALL KINDS of prayers that a person may do and some are quite imaginative.  (Some also heretical so we are to be careful.)  Where is the Protestant imagination to match that of the Catholic?  How many ways can we bring the body into prayer such as being transported to walk along with Jesus in the Stations of the Cross?  Visiting Christ in pilgrimage?  Lighting a candle?  Writing a petition in a petition book?  Bringing flowers to a shrine?  Climbing stairs on your knees - just to mention a few!  How rich!  How engaging!  How diverse!  How FUN!  How Catholic!