Tuesday, February 12, 2019


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "It is quaint that people talk of separating dogma from education.  Dogma is actually the only thing that cannot be separated from education.  It is education.  A teacher who is not dogmatic is simply a teacher who is not teaching."  from G. K. Chesterton's, "The Problem with the World."

QUOTE II:  "It is. of course, part of that modern morbidity that insists on treating the State (which is the home of man) as a sort of desperate expedient in time of panic.  This terrified opportunism is also the original on the Socialist and other schemes."  same source


Now that I have time to think I realized I COMPLETELY MISSED
Thank you for sticking around.  Special shout out to those in the top 3 places after the good ole' U.S., Russia, France and Germany.  And coming in at 10th is the Netherlands which means more than it once did since I took the DNA test and found out that I am supposedly 17% from this area.  (Who was traveling in Slovenia and decided to stay for a while on my Father's side????)  If you are reading this I am sending out a prayer to you.  God bless!

Just before leaving on vacation I was walking the dogs in Schneider Park and saw the bell tower lit up like a golden beacon for West Akron.  Glad I had my phone on me to share it with you.

Great video.  8 minutes:

Thursday, February 7, 2019


It is going to become more challenging to be Catholic I believe.  BUT I also think it is going to be a lot more fun - at least as long as you keep in mind that the Holy Spirit will do what needs to be done as long as we cooperate and don't think we will do it with our own clever selves.

There have been a couple of things lately.  One was the Gillette commercial and another was an article in the Akron Beacon Journal recently concerning the "Problem with Christian Schools" that on first blush seem to make some modicum of sense but something leaves the viewer/reader unsettled. If you feel that way, don't shake it off - delve into it.  Really find out what is nagging at the back of your mind.  Most often it is a subtle but vital bit of ill-logic.  It may not pop out at you at first.  But a bit of digging and prayer will help make it pop.  

Once that makes its presence known to you - write down as if trying to assist someone else to understand.  Then be prepared to use it (with friends over coffee, on your blog, in a letter to an editor . . . )

The article in the ABJ, for example, sighted what the Associated Press writer described as intolerance, Christian schools teaching things that are not tolerant of other people's ideas.  A person who began a hashtag movement thinks that because of this, Christians schools might need to be censored in some way (my words, not his.)  The oddity of this is that he wants to be intolerant of people he deems intolerant (not to mention he singles out Christian schools as the problem, not schools of other faiths - Jewish, Muslim & so forth, not private schools, not home schools, etc. . .) which gives the appearance that there is more going on here than just a discussion about tolerance.

So I wrote a terrible letter to the editor of the ABJ, let it sit for a while, went back and wrote a better one and sent it in and they were kind enough to print it.  Thank you ABJ.  Here is the letter:

Dear Editor,

Sunday’s article, “Hashtag stirs debate over Christian schools” brought up a very important point.  The author is concerned about those who would, “breed intolerance toward people with a different outlook.”  Oddly enough the solution seems to be to do away with those who have a different point of view than he.  There also seems to be a particular bias against Christian schools as there was no mention of other faith based schools or even the difficulties occurring in our public schools.  Does this not go against the very tolerance the author desires?

Perhaps it is that there are certain aspects of non-governmental schools over which he would like ever more government control.  This is a fine thing as long as you have a benevolent, efficient and intelligent government that happens to agree with you.  But what about when that ruling body turns against you and what you believe?  Then where do you turn?

Thank goodness we have a variety of educational institutions in these United States from public schools, to private schools, religious schools, to home schooling.  They keep us diverse and allow us to tackle problems creatively from multiple paradigms.  Though there are troubles with each of these ways of learning from time to time, doing away with one or the other of them or forcing them to bend to the will of a government is not the answer in a free nation.   We should celebrate tolerance and diversity.  We do not accept lack of choice for our political candidates, in our news sources or for a brand of aspirin.  We should not accept it in our educational choices either.

The Rev. John A. Valencheck
St. Sebastian Parish, Akron

Tuesday, February 5, 2019


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "So much time and energy is waisted in futile worrying and in endless discussions about what is needed and how to go about getting it.  Simply present your needs to Me with a trusting heart and I will show you that I am a lavish provider for those who let Me take charge of their needs."  from the book, "In Sinu Jesu"

QUOTE II:  "I will allow you to experience disappointment and failure only so that it may be clear to all that this is My work, and I am doing for the sake of My Bride the Church, and for the sake of My priests, those who I have called to love My Church even as I love her."  same source


P. V. sent in THIS article about a Dad giving strategies on how to go to Mass with young ones.

J. N. sent in THIS link to podcasts of the radio show "Catholic Close Up"

Some events to consider:

 Look who is going to be at the Ite Project Game On Night at St. Paul on Feb 8th!
 GREAT concert coming up.
 Reserve the date for a Spectacular Evening at St. Sebastian..
Here's some encouragement:
Some thoughts:

This poinsettia was put outside during the sub-zero weather looking as though it were blooming in the warmest of summers.  That is because it freezes almost instantly in such cold weather.  I will stay looking fresh for as long as it stays that cold.  Of course, today it looks terrible.
Light shining through the front door onto the crucifix.  I thought it interesting.
2.5 minutes to help understand exactly what is going on:

Monday, February 4, 2019


I've always thought that, when it was possible, it always good to have more than one priest at a parish (which is becoming a rarer possibility.)  Just like one size really doesn't fit all (believe me, I would know, with my monkey legs and arms) one priest can't be to the liking of all people.  I know I am not everybody's cup of tea.  What person could be?  

Fr. Anthony and I are pretty different.  Our styles of ministry differ greatly.  If our pastoral ministry were symbolized by types of restaurants, it might look like this:
There is a time and a type of person who likes fine dining and sitting around and enjoying a meal.  There are other people who like take out - to grab food on the way to the next thing.  If you want a very personal encounter with a priest when getting your throat blessed on St. Blaise Day, you go to Fr. Anthony, if you want your throat blessed so that you can make it out of morning Mass in time to get to dinner, you go to me.
In the end, then, when you have variety, everybody wins.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019


Could we be living out the fairytale Little Red Riding Hood?

One of the original titles of this story is, “The False Grandma,” which might fit better.

A QUICK SYNOPSIS:  The Big Bad Wolf BBW wants to eat Little Red Riding Hood (LRRH) and the food in her basket and so runs ahead of her to grandma’s house, does away with grandma, disguises himself as her and lays in wait for LLRH.  When she comes in, everything SEEMS normal but something is off and she can’t quite put her finger on it.  So she asks questions.  “Gee grandma, what big ears you have.”  “The better to hear you with my dear . . . “

So imagine, if you will, that LLRH is our young.  Grandma stands for 2,000 years of Judeo-Christian culture.  The Big Bad Wolf is modern, politically correct culture that takes its place and seems, in many ways, to be so right, but there is something off about it.

Maybe the BBW is the Gillette commercial.  “This sounds right.  But why am I questioning it?”  Maybe it is the abortion laws coming out of New York.  “The better to give you freedoms my dear.”  “Freedom” and “Choice” sound like such good things.  Why does the country feel uncomfortable about them in this situation and are asking questions?

What we need more than ever is the lumberjack to come on the scene to unmask the BBW for who he is, to restore grandma, and allow LRRH to live in true peace and freedom.  The lumberjack comes in many forms.  One of the most powerful manifestations is Wisdom.  Wisdom sees what is and understands what is beneath the shiny, promising facade, beneath Grandma’s night cap to the self serving predator beneath.

True wisdom comes from contemplation, meditation, study, searching out truths from the past that have been thoroughly thought about by the greatest minds of Western Culture, digging beneath the surface, thinking through to logical conclusions, to grasp the bigger picture, to be a man or woman of intelligence, not just facts. 

Every trap requires some complicity from the prey.  The mouse has to step on the lever when its greed pulls it toward the too easily proffered cheese.  It’s time to stop being mice.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  ". . . charity is not to be measured by the sensible satisfaction that sometimes accompanies devotion, but by two essential signs: death to sin and configuration to Christ through the increase of the Christian virtues."  from Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Langrange, O.P.'s "Knowing the Love of God"

QUOTE II:  "Music is liquid architecture, architecture is frozen music."  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Just a bunch of backlogged videos today:

Greg sent this one in.. Thanks!:

Cool song entitled, "Prayer to St. Sebastian" since we are celebrating at the parish.

This commercial really touched me.  I went to check out their products a few days ago.  Everything in my price range was sold out.  This is a more effective ad campaign than others that might come to mind.  Maybe we as Church could take a lesson from all of this controversy.

David told me about this commercial this morning.  Thumbs up from me!

Friday, January 25, 2019


Here are just some things that I need to get out of my desk.

If you didn't hear the last Theology on the Rocks on the crusades you can hear it HERE.

Firstly, today is the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul.  The person who created one of our St. Sebastian paintings is Mother Mary Thomas, about whom you can find more HERE.  The convent in which she lives is commonly and politically correctly called St. Paul Shrine.  It was an Episcopal church originally called St. Paul.  When the left for Cleveland Heights, the sisters bought and renamed it, "The Conversion of St. Paul Shrine."  So today is their feast day and I ask you to say a prayer for them

Today is also the feast day of St. Paul parish in south Akron.  The pastor there, the Rev. Matthew Pfeiffer was formerly a parochial vicar at St. Sebastian and still occasionally celebrates Mass here on Sunday afternoons and plays cards here every Wednesday.  He is also turning 40 (OLD) next month but don't tell him I told you and so he and his community could also use a prayer.

The Diocese of Cleveland has a new website.  (WAY TO GO!)  HERE it is.

Also I've been thinking about preaching on the Gillette controversy this weekend (at least in part.)  Then I found this thing below in my mailbox.  I plan on giving it a listen today and thought you might like to also:\

Christopher West and Matt Fradd (who recently started using our new Heart of the Mountain beard balm even though he doesn't have a beard – because he "loves the smell") are going to be talking about the "Gillette Controversy" that was sparked by Gillette's recent ad. We think it will be an amazing conversation about theology, culture, and the role of business in cultural commentary.
We hope you can join us (and thousands of others) for the live conversation on Facebook – tomorrow (January 25th) at 12pm EST.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019


The following is a transcript of Fr. Simone's homily from this past weekend.  It is a pious reflection on St. Sebastian's thoughts.  A number of people have asked that it be posted here so here you go!  Good job Fr. Simone!

As a Soldier, I came to serve Jesus.  As a soldier, you’re trained to discipline yourself for a life of service, to deny yourself, to step-out from safety into danger for the glory of Rome, to fight for victory: an honorable life.
But you can’t defeat your own pride.  You can’t run from the pain you feel, from the pain you caused.  Under all the armor and muscle, there is a wounded heart from the violence you’ve seen, a conscience suppressed under orders, a soul neglected and empty.
But one day, Your grace broke-in.  In my brokenness, God reached-in and showed my strength to be weakness.  For the first-time, I felt hope for hope: a way beyond-me, that I might find a way to the freedom my heart has been aching for.  My heart knew, more than glory and honor, I need love and somehow, I’ve never really known what love is.
Suddenly these Christians who seemed so foolish, who were mocked, who were killed, who I’ve dismissed all these years, maybe they see something I’ve never seen.  Maybe they’ve found something I need, that I was meant to have.  Suddenly, these strangers feel like brothers and sisters.  This Son of God: Jesus this Jew from Nazareth, He might be real.  If He is who they say He is, I need this: this faith they seem to have.
My Jesus, My Lord, that day I met you!  I’ve never been the same!  It was the best day of my life!  Forgive me for all the years it took for me to find You.  How can I go back to the way I was?  I can’t!  I’d rather die than leave you, now that I found You.
These men I’ve served with, fought with, bled with, these brothers in arms who I’ve come to know.  How can I not share this with them?  If I don’t at least try to bring them to You Jesus, I mind as well be their enemy!
Jesus, I don’t know what’s going to happen.  I used to doubt myself and hate my past, but I know-better now.  You brought me just where I needed to be: right here.  I have to go where You are needed.
I don’t care what happens to me.  Your love is all I need.  I Trust Your strength, not mine!  May my strength be Yours.  I won’t insult You by worrying about what I will say, what I will do, to make You known.  I know You found me, saved me and raised me-up for a reason.
I’m Yours.  I belong to you.  Make-me Your servant.  Make-me Your soldier.  I’m not afraid of anything anymore.  I’ve never felt so alive, so loved.  I can’t imagine my life without you now and I’d rather die than lose You!

Wherever this path leads, lead me Lord.  Your life in me is all that matters now.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019


A friend of mine lives on a farm about a forty minute drive from the parish.  He is having a rough go of it lately and it is not because of the snow and cold.  It is because of woodpeckers.  He has a wood house and the woodpeckers have targeted it for their pecking of wood.  He has tried everything.  He put up fake owls, he started blasting “woodpeckers in distress” calls over loudspeakers, freshly painted his house (as was recommended by experts) but nothing works.  Every day there is a couple of more holes, about half an inch across, many of which are clean through the siding.  So he has to go out and fill in the holes almost every day.  He is not happy.

He can’t do anything to kill the woodpeckers.  They are federally protected and he could get into a hole basket full of trouble if he resorted to that.  Yet if he and his wife should conceive their child, they have a federally protected right to do to that child what it is illegal to do to that woodpecker.  With the woodpecker we say, “Well, it may greatly upset your life but you going to have to find a way to cope with it.  That’s life.”  When it comes to their child we say, “Well, if he is going to greatly upset your life, you can get rid of him.  That’s life.”

I am not for the overturning of the protection of woodpeckers.  Maybe we could extend the rights to humans in the womb (and extend to the parents more assistance than we do to woodpecker sufferers - which I know many of you do!)

Today is the national day of prayer for the legal protection of human life in the womb.  Please consider offering a prayer and engaging in some action, exercising the rights, privileges, dignity and power that you have on behalf of one who currently, legally has none of these in our country.

Monday, January 21, 2019


So I guess I owe the Weather Bureau an apology.  I have grown so jaded to the threats of the end of the modern world as we know it due to an impending snow storm that I just rolled my eyes as they predicted the great snow storm of 2019.
On Friday, Marcy asked if we wanted anything from the grocery store and we requested our usual; bread, milk and eggs.  A little while later she texted to say that we weren't getting ANYTHING.  People were going mad stocking up for the impending snowmageddon.  "They were out of eggs, milk and bread, carts and parking spots!  I need to go to confession."
On the one hand, I suppose it is good that people are making sure they are prepared for an emergency.  But seriously, when was the last time we were trapped in our homes for more than two days even the worst storms?  
Meanwhile everybody is stuck with gallons of milk, eggs and bread.
I mean, you've got to do SOMETHING with all that food!  Right?

Friday, January 18, 2019


Directly across the street from Saint Sebastian is a park known as Elm Hill Park, an interesting name since was mostly swamp land and a pond until it was developed.  The story is that when this was the very edge of town and this swamp land was mostly covered with trees, a man by name of Arthur Marks owned this property and had a cabin on it for hunting; Forest Lodge being a rather generous title for the building.  Later the land was donated to the city and as the area developed it became a park. 

Now we come to the part that plays a role in the history of the rectory.  In the 1930s the WPA built a building in the park known as Forest Lodge.  The building, clearly visible from the rectory below the dense foliage of the trees, is two stories and built of stone.  The top floor was an apartment for the caretaker of the park.  He lived and took care of the grounds.  His family lived with him.  The bottom floor was a small hall with two stone fireplaces out of which the caretaker was expected to run “passive forms of recreational activities,” the most popular of which was renting out skates for area the city would flood each year as a skating rink for the children of the neighborhood. 

Of course it became too expensive and problematic to keep this arrangement going.  Over the years the building took on other uses.  It was a preschool, a haunted house and a building out of which children’s activities where run.  The city then moved to the idea of community centers, built a larger building a few blocks away, and Forest Lodge sat almost vacant for ten years.  It seemed to me a waist to have the building just sit there.  If the parish could take it over, we could improve the building, keep positive activities going in the park, and give the parish much needed space to expand.

After some initial time feeling each other out over the idea, the city took us on a tour of the building.  It was in sore shape.  The previous winter the boiler had exploded sending red sediment everywhere.  The current boiler had not been maintained and pipes were leaking all over the place.  There was no air conditioning, there was water damage in the basement, and a general state of dilapidation all around.  This happens to buildings out of use for ten years.

To be continued . . . 

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!