Tuesday, January 16, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "[E]verything that human beings are doing to make it easier to operate computer networks is at the same time, but for different reasons, making it easier for computer networks to operate human beings."  From Archbishop Chaput's, "Strangers in a Strange Land."


A good number of years ago there was someone marking up the neighborhood with very thoughtful, artful, and quirky graffiti.  One almost (and I stress - almost) didn't mind it  because it was almost (and I stress almost) art.  

Walking up to visit the Julie BIlliart School on MLK Day I saw these quirky markings on the door and thought they had struck again - but no, it was just the very cold weather pealing the paint.  Doesn't the first one look like a combination sea horse and heraldic lion?

The 20th of January is St. Sebastian Day and my dog Sebastian's birthday.  The parish is 89 years old and my dog is going to be 12.  (We are moving our feast day to the weekend.)  Here are two events to help celebrate the day.

St. Bernard Parish in downtown Akron will be having a dedication and concert of their newly restored, 112 year old Schantz pipe organ at 3:00 on Sunday, January 21st.  St. Sebastian's Director of Music, Lynn Steward will be at the keyboard.  Read more HERE.  

At St. Sebastian Parish at 4:30 that same day, Mr. Adam Keeler will be giving a classical guitar concert in the church.  Free and open to the public.  

P. V. sent in THIS article about Russell Brand's appreciation of faith in the fight against addiction.

N. D. sent in THIS article (sorry I am letting you know so late) in which St. Sebastian was mentioned.

Fr. Barry Gearing spoke at THEOLOGY ON THE ROCKS last night on Theology of the Body and as part of his presentation showed this video:

Monday, January 15, 2018


I get it.  It's cold outside.  I don't even want to get out of bed to get to Mass and I don't even have to go outside to make it over to the sacristy.  Staying in bed is sooooo tempting that I can taste it.  So I do understand why people want to stay in their nice warm houses and not go to Mass.  I understand, I don't condone.
During the worst snowstorm it is not the young and fit that stay home from Mass, it is those who probably SHOULD stay home that still make it in.

What put me on this rampage on this Monday morning - granted it is cold outside - but could it really be that so many people couldn't make the sacrifice to be at daily Mass this morning?  How terribly disappointing.  Well, at least it WAS until I was walking out into the sanctuary to start Mass when the sacristan came running up and whispered in my ear . . . 

Friday, January 12, 2018


One of the great attributes of the parish has been its grounds.  It has always prided itself on its park like qualities and well kept gardens.  This has been the case since the first building was completed.  Under the careful supervision of Father Zwisler, parishioners created a place of beauty whose stated goal was to add to the value of life as well as property values in West Akron.

Father Zwisler had a deep love of flowers and gardening, which was shared with many those in the parish.  To that end, the Sanctuary Society established the Little Flower Garden Club.  The roots of devotion to St. Therese Little Flower reach back to the beginning of the parish and so it was fitting that this Club be named in her honor.

The primary purpose of the garden club was to take over the responsibility of presenting the yearly flower show which was an important event for the whole city.  Specimens of flowers and vegetables and arrangements in various categories were judged by respected horticulturists and florists with prizes awarded.  

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


Monday was the last day of Christmas as it is recognized in the Catholic Church, as opposed to the St. Walmart the Great calendar.  In regards to this, it is the goal of this parish to operate in much the same way the West Movie Theater was run when I was a kid.  During the last showing of a movie on Thursday night, the exterior of the theater was transformed so that no trace was left of that old movie!  Its now about the next movie!  So the marque was changed, the posters were changed, displays - as the people walked out of the movie everything was geared toward the most current.

When Christmas came to a close at the parish, it pretty much vanished (except for a forgotten star still hanging where the manger was and the parts of the outdoor manger scene that were iced to the ground.)  I wanted it to be startling and clear that we are back in ordinary time.  That means giving the poinsettias up for adoption.

I know some parishes keep their poinsettias up sometimes for months.  They are flowers and they are pretty no matter the strong connotation they have with Christmas.  So there is nothing “wrong” with leaving them up.  But when I do see them at other parishes I don’t think, “Look at the pretty flowers,” I think, “Those are left over from Christmas.”

I will grant you that I am a bit sensitive to symbolism but does it not help the celebration of the liturgical calendar to be just a tad overboard on these things?  If you went to the mall today and saw Christmas decorations (as opposed to St. Valentine’s Day decorations) would you not just think, “Somebody is not on the ball.  Time to take those down.”  Or if you neighbor had their Christmas lights still up (until July) would you not think, “Come on!  You’re bringing my property values down!”  But maybe in church people see the Christmas flowers and think, “Ah!  The long lingering glow of Christmas.”  I see coloring outside the lines.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Man is meaningless without God, and any attempt to establish a system of values on the basis of the dogma of man's self-sufficiency is doomed to failure."  from Abraham Heschel's, "God in Search of Man"


Here are some events coming up at which you might like to find yourself:

Mother Mary Thomas, who has often been featured here, is now working on stained glass window designs.  My cousin's studio (Azure) has been commissioned to take the drawing and turn it into glass.  It will eventually be installed on the campus of Ave Maria University.  Here is a short video on its progress.

Friday, January 5, 2018


This is an interesting piece of history to recall as this parish readies itself to celebrate the beginning of its 90th anniversary this July:


On June 25th of 1944 the parish celebrated the end of it's 25th year with its 15th annual outing.  In the souvenir program, spirits seemed high despite the war and the declarations throughout the program to Buy War Bonds.  “There is nothing to indicate that the expansion of the parish and its physical properties is at an end.  At no time has the future looked brighter.

“The parish still has some unfinished business on its construction calendar.  There is a major project ahead - the erection of a convent building - a home for the faithful nuns who operate the school.

“This will not materialize until some time after the war but it is a certainty, since the parish undoubtedly will continue to grow and the space now occupied by the nuns must be turned into classrooms.”  At the time there were about 400 students in the school.  

The school prided itself on the plays it put on.  “There are a number of reasons for the school specializing in dramatics,” says the program, “It helps to make the pupils more proficient in their study of English, it develops in them better articulation, and assists them in the development of poise.” 

The events of the Parish Outing are also described.  Many sporting events for boys and girls were held including dashes and relays, a wheelbarrow race, base running contests and a cracker eating contest for boys 14 and under.  For women there was a rolling pin contest.  There was a pie eating contest for boys and girls, a Clothespin contest for men and women, and finally a Tug of War and Ball Game in which the married men were pitted agains the single men.  There were also prizes for the largest family on the grounds at 3:00, the oldest person in the grounds, a prize for finding the Mysterious Person, and a guessing contest at the registration booth.

Thursday, January 4, 2018


If you are Catholic and you didn’t make a New Year’s resolution may I suggest that you don’t bother.  They are quite ridiculous for the most part.  When was the last time you heard anybody at a New Year’s Eve party talk about being successful at fulfilling the previous year’s resolutions?  Most resolutions are wishes and seem so big that after trying for a month (or a day) they are conveniently forgotten.  

Far more realistic are the resolutions we make

all during the year particularly when preparing for and celebrating the sacrament of confession.  For those who practice regularly (monthly) we have the constant reviewing of what is going well in our lives and where we are missing the mark, to identify weaknesses, build on strengths, and making resolutions to do better over the next four weeks.  Unlike a New Year’s resolution, it isn’t fixing everything with one day’s fell swoop resolve, it is the inching every day toward that better version of the self with the constant help of self review and Divine assistance.  It is a far better plan than a once-a-year promise made after one glass of champagne too many.

So perhaps there is a great New Year’s resolution after all: to make better and more regular use of the sacrament of resolutions: The sacrament of Penance. 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Choices don't stay buried."  from Archbishop Chaput's, "Strangers in a Strange Land"

QUOTE II:  "We can't simply blame 'the culture.'  We are the culture."  same source


Sorry for the lack of posts this past week.  It was rather a busy time and I figured that you were busy also!

D. S. sent in THIS LINK to a podcast episode of "Pints with Aquinas," a podcast that he, in general, recommends.

This was the first year we had a second 4:00 Christmas Mass at the Julie Billiart Akron Chapel and it seemed to help ease the overcrowding at he main church.  Here is a picture of it decorated for the holy day.  
Here is a great picture of St. Sebastian Parish for Christmas taken by K. S.
Chesterton celebrates his first New Year's with us:
For today's video please go HERE for a brief Christmas message from our Bishop Perez.

Friday, December 22, 2017



In last week's installment, Father Zwisler was pitching the bishop for an additional parochial vicar.  Apparently his wish was granted but the priest was not the “efficient and zealous” model that he desired.  The young priests at the parish begged the diocese to grant them some relief.  In  a report dated September 13th, the chancellor wrote of the priest’s concerns.  The most serious part of the letter explains, “He puts the priests on a schedule which regulates every minute of the day; he has absolutely no sense of humor; he seems offended if the assistants are shown any signs of popularity by anyone; but there are no serious charges.

“My own observation and opinion is that something ought to be done.”  The suggestion was to reassign the priests who were otherwise good men before the problem became serious.  “Would it be wise to appoint a couple of older men to St. Sebastian’s?”

Apparently the Bishop agreed.  On September 28th, one of the young priests was reassigned and replaced with a more experienced priest.  The other priest would leave the following year.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT CAN BE FOUND:  "That’s what universities are supposed to do for people.  They are not supposed to take people who are barely hanging together and break them and make them weak.  They are supposed to equant them with the heroic substructure of the human psyche so that they can move out into the world and thrive.  And it is an absolute crime that isn’t what’s happening."  from Jordan Peterson's Podcast


E.P. sent THIS article about the Vatican Manger Scene.

L.G. sent THIS article about a megachurch and their consecration to the Sacred Heart.

Hairy Christmas!  I am so jealous!  Best greeting of the year so far.

P.V. sent THIS in.  Click for a quick smile.  Who else could witness so quickly and effectively???

I may be stealing part of this for my Christmas homily:

Friday, December 15, 2017


This year hailed the beginning of Scouting at St. Sebastian, a relationship that has been intact to the present day.  40 boys joined the Boy Scouts (Troop 96) and a healthy 70 girls made up the Girl Scouts.  An additional 45 boys were signed up for the Cub Scouts and 35 girls joined the Brownies.

Due to the war, the parish was also down to two priests again.  One of the priests left the parish with the bishop’s permission to become a chaplain in the war raging overseas.  Apparently, the previous April of 1942, Bishop McFadden made a promise to Fr. Zwisler that one of the newly ordained priests would be assigned to St. Sebastian to take his place.  Father was taking no chances.  He wrote to the Bishop to make sure that he remembered his promise.

In a letter dated January 6th, 1943, Father took no pains to hide the fact that he was upset a new priest had not already been assigned to him.  During the war years, ordinations were taking place twice a year instead of the customary once at the end of the school year.  This was done to move men more quickly through the system.  Being that an ordination was right around the corner, a newly ordained should be assigned to St. Sebastian.  “This is as it should be,” wrote Father, “In fact, in anticipation of giving of one of my assistants for the Service, I should have been assigned one of the newly ordained last year.

“The amount of work I have engaged in this parish would warrant three assistants.  Working twenty four hours of the day I could not do the work adequately with only one assistant.  Two assistants are indispensable.”

Father pulled no punches in his letter.  “There are glaring inequalities in the Diocese, which we know are not a fault of yours.  The Cathedral and St. Thomas’ have a superabundance of priests and choose and dismiss whom they please.  The priests of the Diocese all know the reason why.

“Here, in our own neighborhood, St. Peter’s (Akron) with only about a hundred and fifty families, has as much help as St. Sebastian, an organized and complete city parish.”  The letter goes on to explain the difficulty of obtaining Sunday Mass help and then mentions, “Besides, this parish is always the first in the Diocese in it’s support of the Diocese and Diocesan institutions.  This should merit consideration.

“. . . Having waited nearly a year thus far, I want to wait the remaining weeks, with the assurance that St. Sebastian will obtain one of the efficient and zealous young priests about to be ordained.

“With most fervent wishes and a prayer for your health and happiness during the New Year, I remain, Respectfully Yours, Hilary Zwisler.  Pastor.  Feast of the Epiphany.

Thursday, December 14, 2017


A few years ago it was obvious that the Catholic Church should get rid of celibacy because it led to sexual abuse.  With the latest round of sexual abuse in news, sports, entertainment, and politics (and there are some other major areas that have yet to be tapped,) to what should we attribute it now?  Should we get rid of politics and entertainment?  Should we get rid of men?  Most of these people are married, should we rid ourselves of the obvious scourge of marriage?  Maybe we should level the playing field so that nobody has power.  (But of course, then who would have the power to enforce that?)  On to what bandwagon should we all jump this time?

May I suggest one?  How about the bandwagon that says all humans have inherent dignity, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.  It is when we start chipping away at the eternal worth of any human soul that all people’s worth is damaged.  If I am willing to put the child in the womb, the criminal, the sick and elderly to death, then I too have decreased in value as the bar for the worthy has been raised against me - I come closer to being the person to be used by others for their own end.

We need heroes and role models; saints and stars.  But we cannot place them on so high a pedestal (and the rest of us so low to the ground) that they can use that glory to dazzle the eyes of those who gaze up that them, blinding them of their own dignity and allowing themselves to be mistreated.

There is no lifestyle (married, single, divorced, celibate, etc) that causes someone to be an abuser.  There are people with power who are abusers regardless of their lifestyle.  These abuse scandals are an alarm that we all need help in becoming a healthier culture, not a bunch of irate and blind finger pointers.  It is the sin we will not tolerate from anyone.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "When people have Messianic expectations of the state, when they ask politics to deliver more than they can, the story ends badly."  from Archbishop Chaput's, "Render Unto Caesar"


You probably heard that Pope Francis made a comment about changing a line in the Our Father.  One of our parishioners, Mr. Matthew Heinle was interviewed about it on channel 19 yesterday.  See more HERE.

See how good and pleasant it is when brothers live in harmony?

Father Patrick Anderson is speaking at Theology on Tap Akron tomorrow night!  Read more HERE.

C. T. sent this in:

Monday, December 11, 2017


This isn't exactly a comic Monday, just something that has been tickling my brain lately.  It occurred to me that Christmas doesn't hold up to the light very well.  During the day you plainly see the DNR yard inflatables laying slain in people's front yards, the wires and extension cords of Christmas lights clearly running through trees, and stakes and ropes holding fake reindeer to the ground.

At night it is quite beautiful however - even magical.  All the mechanics disappear and only the pretty aspects shine through.

The religious aspect is exactly the opposite.  It seems silly and gaudy to those "in the dark" if you will allow me the use of that phrase for the sake of analogy, but in the Light, it is beautiful, inspiring, and healing.

All that being said, if you are going to dump Christ out of Christmas (Christ's Mass Day,) it seems to me we could come up something a little better.  Christmas without Christ is just senseless gong banging, bother, and bad music.
It certainly in does not conform to our evolving popular culture, which tries to scrape all of the icing off of the Christian holiday while throwing out the cake.  Unfortunately the icing doesn't make sense without the cake - all the flowers, writing, and decoration just turn into a colorful menagerie.  
The Church has been accused of taking a pagan holiday and "baptizing" it into the celebration of the birth of our Savior.  It was a natural progression of belief to something higher.  There was an idea in paganism that grew to its limit and needed to be transformed into the thing toward which it was pointing.  It blossomed into a belief in the One True God Who would be the Savior of the World (otherwise Christianity would never have taken off.)  Now our Western culture, ever on the lookout for the new and sheik, wants to back out of this development by gutting out of it that which gave it meaning in the first place.
Now, I know those who are on this path do not see it this way in much the same way as I don't see faith in the same way that such persons might suppose Christians must think.  But it seems to me that I am on a much surer path.  Culturally it seems that we are trying to remove the deepest meaning of everything in order to bring equality to all - holidays, the meaning of marriage, the humanity of persons in the womb just to name a few.  It seems to me, however, that the less dignity and worth and awe and belief we have in something greater and more beautiful and truer than ourselves we have, the less we value anything outside of ourselves, and our wants and desires.  
But there is reason for hope here.  This is the EXACT culture in which the faith first took root.  The faith began in a culture of sexual excess and confusion, abortion, war, power hungry politicians, capitol punishment, neglect of the poor and ill and persecution of those who called themselves Christian.  But the faith still grew and rose until even the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire felt he needed to become Christian in order to hold his power.  All that was needed - and all that is needed - is for individual men and women to boldly live their faith well.  So Happy Advent!