Tuesday, October 16, 2018


I wish that the Church was as tight knit and conspiratorial as movie makers and those in the media at times make it appear.  I don’t even know what is happening at the next parish over let alone in Cleveland.  I love having priest friends over and asking them, “What’s going on up north of 303?  I haven’t heard any rumors lately.”

We occasionally get an Email from “downtown” informing us of important events.  There is a thing called the “Diocesan Memorandum” that anybody who wants can sign up for.  We have district meetings at which some information is disseminated with varying degrees of success.  When something really big happens we might be Emailed a letter to be read at all Masses (and hopefully the pastor complies.)  But really, your typical priest is going to find out about goings on in the Church the same way you do . . . when he reads it in the paper or internet.

It may be true that newspapers are slowly becoming the buggy whips of the news industry but I miss our diocesan newspaper (which had the coolest name EVER: The Catholic Universe Bulletin.  If anything was going on and news needed to get out, there was the paper.  “The Bishop says right here on page four . . .”  Certainly not everybody read it, but enough did to get a message out.  (And really, our paper was not well used in a manner that made it overly relevant but that is another story.)

Every now and then we have a magazine that comes out now that is more catechetical in nature.  And that is great for catechetics.  We also have a (completely non-navigable)  diocesan website that, if you want to see what is on the Bishops mind, you can waste an afternoon trying to find his words.  (They are working on it thank goodness.)  But we don’t really have anything that is pro-active.  (I hate that phrase.)  Just because we issue a statement does not mean that anyone will print it or your average Catholic will bother to go online to try to search out the diocesan reaction to any particular story out there.

Maybe this is a clever tactic: better to let things fade away rather than putting fuel on the fire by making statements to which others might react.  If the Bishop had a mechanism by which he could control all of the bulletins in the diocese to issue a state such as, “You heard about recent events concerning Cardinal Whosit in Rome, I would like to assure you that . . . and here’s some things we can do . . . “  who knows what delicious trouble that could get us in.  I could imagine the Bishop printing something in the bulletins and a pastor countering him in a merry war.  Hmmm.  Maybe it is better to keep our heads low.

In the meantime I’ll continue to invite my priest friends from Cleveland down to play cards on Wednesday nights and pump them for all the Church news from up north I can get.  Maybe the Medieval ways really are the best.

Monday, October 15, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Some ideas are bad.  Some opinions are foolish.  Some feelings are vindictive.  And some people lie. . . So it becomes very important for citizens to think their politics, not feel them; to examine the language of public discourse for what the words really mean."  from Bishop Chaput's, "Render Unto Caesar"

QUOTE II:  "Catholics have the duty not to 'tolerate' other people but to love them."  same source


Deacon Terry Peacock will be speaking TONIGHT at Theology on the Rocks!!!

A. B. sent in THIS article from Harvard School of Health reports that a religious upbringing is lined to better health and well being.  Thanks for sending it in.

Here are some pictures from the Autumn Lights celebration this past weekend:
 Praying compline at the end of the night:
 Fr. Simone caught this cool effect on his phone:

 From the concert this past Sunday.
Posting will become a bit sporadic for a couple of weeks as I am on the St. Sebastian 90th anniversary pilgrimage.  I will remember you in prayer!

As I am going away I thought this was appropriate for a laugh.  Thank heavens for being Catholic.

Monday, October 8, 2018


There is no shortage of people to give a priest an opinion on what he should be doing and how he should be spending his time.  When somebody wants you at the drop of a hat you should be the kind of priest . . .
Unless you want him supporting you activity . . .
There is never a shortage of things to do . . . 
and any activitie's antithesis demanding more time for the good of the Church. . .
And it isn't just what is done, it's HOW it's done . . .
It is soooooooo difficult
Until it's put into perspective and you realize it is like this for just about everybody and on top of that, when you are asked you still volunteer at your parish.
I just wanted to say, "Thanks."

Friday, October 5, 2018


One of the most interesting discoveries was made when the industrial coffee machine, declared to be in the wrong place, was moved to the other side of the kitchen.  Behind it on the counter was a space in the wall about two feet square and one foot deep.  There were keys, one a skeleton key, hanging on a hook so covered with dust that it was obvious they had not seen use for some time.  The back of the space was a little door with a handle on it that opened out into the dining room, the purpose of which was explained to us during a visit with a priest who had been assigned in the hay day of the parish with Monsignor Zwilser.

The dining room, with its birch wood paneled walls, simple plaster crown molding, chandelier, and built in china cabinets, originally consisted of two rooms, the larger formal dining room and a much smaller room between it and the kitchen, set off by a proscenium arch.  The smaller of the rooms was once a smaller dining room.  After the new church was built and a hallway from the rectory to the sacristy was created, the window in the small dining room was made into a door and this little room became nothing more than an intersection between the church, rectory dining room and kitchen.  We stuck a studio piano and pump organ in the space a dubbed it the music room.  The organ was given to me many years before I became a priest by a college that wanted to continue my services for another couple of weeks and had run out of funds to pay me.  In exchange for the organ I stayed on and it has been following me ever since.

The smaller dining room was separated from the main dining room by a thick, velvet curtain that hung in the arch.  Monsignor ate at the long table in the main room alone.  Behind the curtain were the parochial vicars at their more humble table.  Before the parkay floor was added there was a floor buzzer by Monsignor’s seat.  When he had finished a course he would press in the buzzer with his foot and the little door would open in the small dining room with the next course.  One of the priests would take it and pass through the velvet curtain, exchange the next course for the empty plate, return it through the window at which time the rest of the priests would receive their meals; priests and cooks never passing between the two worlds separated by the swinging butler’s door until the room was vacated.

Things are of course much different today, residents tramping between the two rooms cooking, setting up, and eating with no bells to mark the end of a course.  The age of live-in help passed away mostly due to the advent of Social Security.  A woman of a certain age at one time may have found herself in a difficult spot or she may have found herself plain board.  Back in the day, living in at the rectory and taking care of the helpless, vowed bachelors might provide her income, a place to live, and company to manage.  It is almost unheard of today.

Thursday, October 4, 2018


You may think of St. Francis of Assisi as a religious brother wearing a habit.  That came later.  At first he was a Catholic guy out in the woods who wore strange clothes.  Not everybody was thrilled.  It’s hard to imagine that this habit and this religious order that we take as such an institution today was at one time seen as either cutting edge or slightly off and, in either event, very different.  But the way this guy decided to love Christ and live his life continues to have direct influence on us today - even to the way our churches are decorated.  Not one Catholic church today does not have the mark of St. Francis on it.  Just look up at the Stations of the Cross.

At a typical Catholic parish, there are hundreds to thousands of people per clergyman.  It can’t be like the Super Bowl to paraphrase someone more clever than I, where there tens of thousands of people desperately in need of exercise watching 22 guys desperately in need of rest.  We are all called, in different ways, to carry on the work of Christ.

St. Francis’s work was not a ministry of his parish, he didn’t have a budget or an announcement in the bulletin.  He didn’t have an official sponsor or a team T-shirt.  What he did have was love of Jesus and desire to spread His word so he experimented and did it.  Some things were wildly successful and some were not.

Support of an official organization is great when you can get it but not getting it is not an excuse not to serve.  It means be more creative.  The greatest changes in the Church have always come about when an individual man or woman has decided to take the faith seriously, not when they have been awarded poster space in the narthex of the parish church.  

What is your love for Christ calling you to do?

Tuesday, October 2, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  The best churches bring out un-modern ideas.  They remind us of God’s perfection and holiness and make us feel humble.”  Duncan G. Stroik in the National Review.

QUOTE II: "The biggest stumbling block may be money: It costs a lot to erect a grand church.  It’s hard and expensive and takes time. Beauty isn’t fast and it isn’t cheap. Yet the payoff can last a long time. We still marvel at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, In Italy, almost every town has an old church that’s worth visiting. That’s not true in America. When was the last time you went out of your way to see a piece of contemporary religious artwork or architecture?” The real question, he insists, is this: “Can we afford not to build beautiful churches?” The failure to invest in architecture puzzles and frustrates him: “We’ve never been wealthier than today, and yet we’re building the cheapest churches in history.” same source


Mr. Chad Engelland, formerly professor of philosophy at Borromeo Seminary in the Diocese of Cleveland (our loss!) wrote THIS article.  

Our Principal, Mr. Rohr, sent me THIS article about the middle class moving away from private education. 

If you liked the above quotes, M. D. sent in the excellent article from which they came that you can read HERE.   

This past week we had the celebration of the 185th anniversary of the first known Mass in the city of Akron at St. Vincent Parish, the mother parish of Akron.  Here is the clergy getting ready:
I love this picture of my classmate and pastor of St. Francis de Sales, the Rev G. David Bline. He looks like a catalogue model for albs here.
Bishop Amos was the celebrant.  The whole thing was put together by the summer seminarian intern at St. Sebastian Mr. Jospeh Robinson.
Great turn out for a wonderful concert at St. Sebastian last weekend.  More people than we expected for a Baroque concert on a warm Sunday afternoon during a Browns game (which wasn't worth it.)  For the rest of the 90th anniversary season go HERE and find a link to the schedule about half way down the page.
Here is the next Theology on Tap Akron:
TED Talk on porn:

Sunday, September 30, 2018


It used to be that one would save all of their happy memories in photo books.  For a trip down memory lane someone would open it on their lap and page through while others told stories.
Those things took up space though I tell you.  I still have shelves full of them.  Thank goodness for cameras that allowed you to download photos instantly on your computer for storage.  Then you could just watch  screen as they shuffled through.
And now?!  What takes me shelves and shelves of photo books we can now keep in our hip pocket in our phones!  This is AWESOME!  Pictures anytime - anywhere.
But even phones can pale in bringing back all of the sights and sounds and smells of a great night . . .

Friday, September 28, 2018


My family came over to help me break in the new house.  Mother and Father having passed, the task was left to my sister Mickie, my cousin Bernadette, and my Aunt Mary.  All setting off to explore and snoop we became separated from each other.  The house is large but not that large.  But the privacy walls erected in hallways made parts of the house isolated and the floor plan confusing.  We became sufficiently lost in the unfamiliar surroundings and had to use cell phones to be brought together.  The reunion was reminiscent of characters in a haunted house movie finally coming together after having gone their separate ways for some inexplicable reason.  Together after our adventures, it was decided that it was time to break in the kitchen.

My family considers this room one of the most important to a priest.  When I was first ordained my cousin Bernie bought me a cookbook with the admonition, “You are now becoming a public figure.  The only place people cannot tell you what to do is in the bedroom and in the kitchen.  Learn how to cook.”

In general people either love this kitchen or they hate it.  There is very little middle ground.  It is large, high ceilinged with tile floors, and a butcher block table right in the middle.  I am somewhat naive when it comes to kitchens but was rather taken in with its dual microwaves.  The assembled family fell on the positive side concerning the kitchen.

It is located in what is called the service corridor of the house.  This section of the house also contains the live-in’s bedrooms, which had been transformed into offices, the live-in’s living room now serving as the breakfast and lunch room, and a private staircase which givES access to the priest’s quarters upstairs and the  laundry room, boiler room and storage/pantry downstairs.

The first job was simply trying to figure where everything was.  Here I was gently pushed aside as the new order was taking shape.  “Spatulas!  These belong by the oven!  Knives!  These belong by the butcher’s table!  These pots and pans need to be handy!  These can go under the counter!”  And so the kitchen quickly took shape and my relatives did it with such authority that I have been afraid to change it to this very day.

Thursday, September 27, 2018


When I was a kid and somebody did something wrong enough to be reported on in the newspaper, it was not unusual for the reporter to mention that the man was once an altar boy - as if that had anything to do with the price of cheese.  People raised a big stink about making this connection and such mentionings stopped cold.  But it was an interesting back handed compliment - as if a former altar boy should know better - that a Catholic should BE better.

The thing is - there is some truth to that, but not as much as would be preferable (hence confession lines - and sometimes lack of them.)  Every once in a while someone will lob the (accusation?  back handed compliment?) that a Catholic or a Catholic organization should know better, be better, act better, lead better . . .   And that is true.  That is why we are here.  To make humanity . . . well . . . better.  Good.  Redeemed.  Saved.  Living in truth.

And the Church is holy - that is her teachings, her way of life, what she promotes and what she eschews is holy.  She makes saints.  But she is made up of a bunch of sinners striving to be saints (hopefully).  AA helps people not drink, but many of her people do though they know better and want to be sober.  Hospitals are about making people healthy but all of her residents are sick.  Libraries are supposed to help a person grow in knowledge and truth but some of her books are full of misguided advice, knowledge or insights.

So when someone says, “this Catholic (person/institution) should be morally better at (whatever), they are right.  But if it is perfection for which they are looking, look at the teachings of the Church, not her people.  The people are patients in the hospital.  1.2 billion people.  Priests are somebody’s baby brother - nuns are someone’s daughter, an altar server is a teen like any teen, the person in the pew is person like any other striving to be that better Christian.

What makes them different is being soaked in the teachings of One Who knows how human beings can thrive.  They absorb grace through the practice of the sacraments and prayer.  They are encouraged regularly to good works and self improvement.  They are given a vision of a better world.  And yes we should know better.  And I am glad people think that Catholics should be held to a higher standard.  And we should hold ourselves to a higher standard.  But that even John Paul II is a saint does not mean he did everything well.  It means he strove well and still made mistakes and still needed the sacrament of confession.

This is not an excuse.  It’s a reality check.  Catholics are sojourners in desperate need of Christ.  Every day we get better, but we are definitely on the journey.  We have not arrived.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Meaning trumps expedience.  Meaning gratifies all impulses, now and forever.  That's why we can detect it."  from Jordan Peterson's, "12 Rules for Life."

QUOTE II:  "It's cowardly, and shallow, and wrong.  It's wrong because mere expedience, multiplied by many repetitions, produces the character of a demon . . . There is no faith and no courage and no sacrifice in doing what is expedient . . . To have meaning in your life is better than to have what you want . . ."  same source


AWESOME SITE for those who want to fight the porn epidemic:  FIGHT THE NEW DRUG.

Do you pray as much as Mark Wahlberg?  P.V. sent THIS article in.

We have been putting historical pictures on the cover of our bulletin during our 90th anniversary.  This was supposed to be this week's but the bulletin company said it would not reproduce well so I post it here.  It is part of an early fund raiser in what used to be the parish hall in the basement of the school but is now the library and computer room.
This is coming up this Thursday and you are invited.  Bishop Martin Amos is the celebrant at St. Vincent.  Hope to see you there.
This event is TONIGHT at Thirsty Dog Brewery to help support the Christ Child Society.  Fr. Pfeiffer and I will be serving at 4:30.
Concert this Sunday in Zwisler Hall. Renaissance and Baroque music and demonstration of period instruments.  Free and open to the public.
Sebastian and Chesterton have a new friend!  No, not the bug lug in the blue short, the tiny little chocolate lab at his feet named Neumann.   (Don't say it.)
It was impossible to get a photo.  The little guy kept spinning all over the place as you can tell from the blur of the picture.
One of our boy scouts is putting in a new walk at St. Sebastian as part of his journey toward becoming an Eagle Scout!  Awesome!
I think they are finished taking down trees across the street at Forest Lodge.  Lots of stumps but other than that you can barely tell.
Fight the new drug - 3 minutes:

Sunday, September 23, 2018


So I was tucked in, snug in my bed, when I heard my phone, which was plugged in on the other side of the room, buzz to tell me that I had received a text.  Well, of course I couldn't fall asleep or stay in bed now if for no other reason but curiosity.  But it could be an emergency - so - you know.

It turned out to be a message from Fr. Trenta in the next room over.
So there's that.  Now I can't sleep because there's a mouse in the house.

But an interesting thing came to light at dinner the next night as we sat around the dinner table and discussed the mouse problem.  It exemplified the reason I love having more than one priest at a parish.  Priests are not a one size fits all no matter how hard we try. 
We may all be saying the same thing, but we may say those things in a different way and one of these ways may relate to certain people more than others.
This will allow people to "hear" the message of the Gospel better.  For example, at St. Sebastian over the summer, we had three priests to handle the Mass schedule.  We couldn't be more different in our ways of delivering what in many ways is the same message.
And we each have a unique way of of extending the same message to the good people of West Akron with one or the other, perhaps, being more effective.

Friday, September 21, 2018


The next cause for concern was (the dog's) name.  Upon hearing the name “Roomie” people’s first reaction was always first, “Oh . . .” followed by as polite an, “Eww,” as they could muster.  First impressions of the name always turned to rheumatoid arthritis or rheumy eyes.   Explaining the name helped.  The dog was thought to be a companion for a person who was somewhat bedridden and he had named him Roomie as in, “This is my roommate – Roomie.”  But explaining this became old quickly and it did not mitigate the problem that still nobody liked the name.  But what name did fit him?  Days were spent thinking about it.  This led me to believe that I would not make a fit dad.  My child would be 15 before I came up with a name; the quick finding of names of things not coming naturally to me.

Our mother parish, St. Vincent, right next door and the oldest parish in the city, came to the rescue.  The pastor there had a dog, who regularly “wrote” an article in the parish bulletin.  He was named Vinnie after the patron saint of the parish.  With the precedent set, Roomie, the dog of the newest parish within the city limits, would now be named Sebastian.

I will be the first to admit that Sebastian is an awfully pretentious name for a dog and a nickname was eagerly sought.  One day, shortly after his christening with his new name, a delivery man came to the door and took obvious delight in the dog.  “What is his name?”  he asked petting him on the head.  Upon being informed that it was Sebastian he exclaimed, “Why that was me Pa’s name!”  Quite intrigued we eagerly asked if his father was ever given any kind of nickname.  “Sure he was,” said the delivery man.  Excited to find out what Sebastian’s new nickname might be he was asked what his father was called.  “Busty!” was the proud answer.

How they got “Busty” out of “Sebastian” is beyond me.  In any event, Sebastian was not going to be called “Busty.”  It seems inappropriate for a rectory dog of expected high morals.  So for the most part he remains Sebastian though there are a few other nicknames to which he will readily answer: Poops, Sea Bass (my least favorite), Bosco (I don’t know why) Seraphim (long story) and a host of other names – but mostly he is just Sebastian.
Now after everyone went home at night there was something living in the house that could tell me if I should be concerned about a noise, that would alert me if I should miss the doorbell, and could divine which of the doors it was that needed answering without me running to the four corners of the house.  It was a joy having a house mate.

I needn’t have worried about being alone however.  A little patience would have revealed that the rectory was destined to be full of residents.  And they were all welcome.  As long as they liked dogs.