Thursday, July 18, 2019

DON'T SETTLE FOR SECOND BEST

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

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

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


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

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


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

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CDLXVII

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

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

IN OTHER NEWS:

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


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

Sunday, July 14, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CDLXVI

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

IN OTHER NEWS:

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

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

Monday, June 24, 2019

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: COULD THIS BE A PATH TO MARTYRDOM?


This past weekend we celebrated Corpus Christi with a procession from St. Sebastian church to the Julie Billiart chapel.  It was swell.  Most of the things that went "wrong" were unnoticeable.  At one point one of the server's bells exploded leaving pieces in the street.  And then there was wearing our 90th anniversary cope - beautiful and HEAVY.  
So at one point I am kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament and I move to stand up and realize that TONS of material are wrapped around my foot.  (How does that happen?!?!) I try surreptitiously to free my foot reaching down under the cope with my hand trying not to draw attention to myself.  But I can't tell what's wrapped or how.  I try shaking my foot but that makes things worse.  

One thing that sometimes works is if you try to stand up on one foot - the one that you assume is free from all encumbrance hoping that the act of standing will pull the fabric and free the encumbered foot.  That works but it is risky.

One could just be honest and make a show of climbing out of the predicament in which one finds oneself - I am sure that people would understand.  But I also like things to look good and to not draw attention to myself.  That's part of the reason for all the vestments - to hide the man - he's not important - Jesus is.

Well, I'd been kneeling for a long time hoping to extricate myself but there was no go and people were perhaps becoming annoyed with what they assumed was my lengthy piety.  So I tried the one foot maneuver.  Things seemed to be going and well and I thought I was free and so put my other foot down and then . . .
Worst of all scenarios.  The material was still around my foot and when I put it down everything tightened around my neck and yanked me to the side like a boat taking on water and listing to the port side.  The chapel appears to suddenly at an angle.  Embarrassment sets in more quickly than a February cold - so I shake my foot free, regain uprightness, and pretend like nothing happened.

I would like to personally thank all those present who didn't point it out afterward.  You are awesome.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

WHY WHICH BRAND OF SELF DRIVING CAR YOU BUY MATTERS

You Catholic faith has a lot to do with what self driving car you buy in the future.

Maybe ten years from now you are happily driving (well, riding) along, drinking you coffee and finishing up some last minute things as your car speedily scoots you along to your destination.  All of a sudden and in a way that could not be predicted, three people tumble into the street in your path: an elderly man, a pregnant woman and a well dressed middle aged guy.  There is nothing that can be done!  The car will have to hit one of these people while you drink your coffee or veer off of a cliff killing you, possibly some woodland creatures and possibly cause some pollution to the environment.

The decision is not made in a vacuum.  A computer does not make this decision.  All of the input comes from human beings and somewhere along the line someone programed a decision as to who will be sacrificed in the computer’s brain.  As it turns out the old man is a great senator, the woman would go on to be a terrible mother causing her child to be a terrorist and the well dressed man was on a job interview, that he didn’t get, and will spend the next 30 years living for free in his mother’s basement playing video games.  Does this matter?

Who gets to decide who gets hit?  Are you still morally culpable in any way?  What if you have to decide, before you buy the car, what moral standards you will use.

You new car comes with your choice of:
Traditional Judeo/Christian ethics
Revised Judeo/Christian ethics for the modern person
Atheist
non-denominational
Buddhist
Utilitarianism
AND MANY MORE!  YOU CHOOSE!

Often the Catholic Church is accused of being anti-science (an illusion of which an honest historian will relieve you.)  Often the Church is just saying, “This is new territory and we should think about the moral implications before blindly going forward and ending up someplace we don’t want to be.”  Science, as is its current nature, wants to march on with what it can do (rather than, sometimes, what it should do) and wants to police itself (which we see how well that turned out in the Catholic hierarchy.)  


Go science!  Go faith!  Hand in hand we can do much good together.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CDLXV

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "For this blending of men and women, nations and nations, is truly a return to the chaos and unconsciousness that were before the world was made." from G. K. Chesterton's, "What Right with the World"

IN OTHER NEWS:

L.K. sent in THIS article about "The Cardinal Who Loves Chesterton."  Thanks

This was drawn by a talented young person.  I think she did a pretty good job when compared to the original below!

P.V. sent in THIS article about the sexualization of children.

Theology on the Rocks returned and was at the Tangier



 Here are some of the people who make it all happen!  Thank you!
I guess it was announced this morning that we would be returning to the Tangier.  They are working on improving the food.  See below:
 Tickets are on sale now for the Jazz Fest:
Bishop Barron on Jordan Peterson and Sam Harris - about 8 minutes.

Monday, June 17, 2019

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: IT GOES BOTH WAYS

This past weekend at the 4:30 Mass the singing was so above average for the congregation that I had to say something at the beginning of the Mass.  I believe I said something along the lines of, "That was awesome!  The best you have ever sounded!"  And indeed it seemed as though more people than usual were participating and in our big, echo-y church it was inspiring.  Even the Our Father was prayed with extra loud gusto.  When that happens I get excited and have more life when I celebrate.  Then that feeds back into the congregation and then back to me and so forth.  It's great.

One of the great things about it is that the congregation is not there to witness but to pray and offer THEIR sacrifices too.  It "shouldn't" matter who the priest is - or how exciting the Mass is - or if one is entertained enough or not - we are their to pray our little hearts out regardless.

One of the drawbacks to the priest no longer facing east in the Mass is that a now people hang a lot more on the personality of the priest for what they "get out of it."  Sometimes people will say something about a priest not being exciting enough etc . . .   But if you want your priest to be excited, what are you giving him to work with?  It is easy to see why sometimes a priest might want to say Mass facing east again.

There is the unchecked yawn where a priest, in the middle of prayer, will look up and be able to count the number of fillings a particular parishioner might have.
Then there is the death stare person.  No matter what you say - you get the death stare.  Fortunately I know a lot of these people and it is just who they are.  It has little to no bearing on whether they are taking it in, mad, finding it hilarious or offensive.
Then there is the person with consumption whose mother never taught him to cover his mouth or to wait.  Can you imagine talking to someone in the grocery store and in the middle of your sentence, looking right at you, he hacks up a fur ball the size of a compact car?  It is a little disconcerting.
Add to that errant phones, screaming children, bathroom runs, latecomers and a host of other things and east starts looking mighty good.

But, in the end, a priest loves all of these people because they are part of his family.  And that is what one does with family and in the best situations the priest is loved back the same way.  I would rather have every one of these people there than not there.  It also helps me to remember that I am not there to pray well when others are praying well but to pray my best regardless - and hope others do the same when I am off my game.

Friday, June 14, 2019

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: BUT IS IT ART: THE BEGINNING OF A CURE

Want to do some Catholic reading for the summer?  Elizabeth’s Lev’s book, “How Catholic Art Saved the Faith; the Triumph of Beauty and Truth in Counter-Reformation Art” may the just the ticket for you.  Do you ever wonder why the Church invests so much of herself in art for the masses (or Masses I suppose.)  This book will give you a clearer insight as well as beautifully enticing you into paintings to understand what they are doing, a skill that will go a long way in helping you understand and judge liturgical art in general.

Best of all, while dealing with topics that many experts like to make as complicated and exclusive as possible, Lev makes accessible and exciting.  She does not give credence to tedious concepts of art or try to dazzle the reader with her great and lofty learning.  Rather, she invites you in to enjoy the wonder and awe of the art which is supposed to be the point of liturgical art to begin with.

She does for art what Dr. Scott Hahn does for theology.

Best of all, the chapters and descriptions, while lush and full, are divided up into short and easy to digest chapters.  Do you only want to read for 5 minutes?  Done!  Want to read for an hour?  Perfect!  Beware though if you have any love of art and faith.  I would think that I only want to read for 5 minutes and then start stealing time from other things in order to read more.


This book is the beginning of a cure for what ails the Church today when it comes to art.  I would make it mandatory reading for anybody responsible for the commissioning of art for a parish.  It gives insight to the artists and patrons who respected what was handed on from the past and what was completely innovative for its day (which now seems so much a part of our standard bag of tools for liturgical art) and inspires us to have that same responsibility and innovation - the mix of order and chaos - that inspired the people of the Counter-Reformation.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

DEBATING A BEST SOLUTION

I was unprepared as a newly ordained for the number of people who said, “You know, I should have never been married.  I’m not really cut out for it but it seemed like the thing I was supposed to do.”  When someone says this, we don’t talk about discerning whether God is calling them elsewhere or not, we talk about a spirituality that will help them keep up with their promises and commitments.  The time for discernment (vocational anyway) has passed.  It would never be that God is calling you out of your marriage and family (although there are rare exceptions.)


So it is with heavy heart that I hear about (formerly Father) Jonathon Morris, once famous priest and commentator on FOX news.  I like the guy.  I want to wish him well and heavens know we don’t need unhappy priests in the priesthood.  However, in his interview on FOX he said that God is the one calling him away from his vocation, promises and commitments.  It is with this that I have difficulty.

There are a lot of things that could be going on in his life.  Maybe it is that he became a priest thinking that it really wasn’t for him just like a person might think that maybe he wasn’t really cut out for marriage but wanted to live up to other’s hopes.  And he certainly had some rough things with which to contend in his priesthood and it was probably a good idea to let him go if his heart was set on it (a lot of damage could have occurred otherwise.)  But that this was the best solution I have caution especially in an era when people, in general, are having grave difficulties being committed to a cup of coffee with a friend in a week let alone marriage, holy orders or other of life’s grave commitments.


He has my prayers and I wish him and others in his shoes well, but it is with sadness and I am not on the bandwagon of, “Good for him for following his heart!”  To be clear: there may be things going on in his life to which we are not privy and maybe this is the best move for all involved.  But as an example of of how to handle life’s commitments when they are not as we had hoped (or we are not happy, or we find something better, or our interests have changed, or, or or) this is a solution to be looked upon somberly and with great caution.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CDLXIV

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "We are to regard the existence as a raid or great adventure, but by what flag it follows and what high town it assaults.  The most dangerous thing in the world is to be alive; one is always in danger of one's life.  But anyone who shrinks from this is a traitor to the great scene and experiment of being."  from G. K. Chesterton's, "What's Right with the World."

IN OTHER NEWS:




Theology on the Rocks HAS A NEW LOCATION!
It was a beautiful sunset a couple of nights ago - the light was phenomenal!  It didn't really catch it on the phone camera though.
 But another evening did catch our bell tower shining like gold!

M. W. sent in THIS article that includes our own Fr. Anthony Simone.

P. V. sent in THIS article about a University who returned a major donation over abortion.

Bishop Barron wrote THIS BOOK about the Church crisis.  I ordered 200 for St. Sebastian. 

E. P. sent in THIS article about a bishop who is taking a strong stand with Catholic politicians.  

E. D. asked that THIS information be shared about the upcoming G. K. Chesterton convention.  (I think I might go!)

Also, HERE is where you can go to print up your own G. K. Chesterton prayer cards in a number of languages.

videohis video is unusual for this blog.  Yes, it is a commercial.  But it features our very own St. Julie Billiart School and its amazing principal Jason Wojnicz.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: THE TUPPER WEAR THAT'S FUN TO WEAR.

 There is tons of Tupperware at the house.  It fills the kitchen, the laundry room and the pantry.  Very kind people drop off food and we clean whatever they give us and store it for them to pick it up.  The problem has become that there is so much, nobody wants to wade through it anymore to find what belongs to them.

Marcy had a great idea.  We should have an ice cream social and invite all of our beloved cooks over to pick up their plates.  So we hauled all of the stuff out of the house - banquet tables full, Marcy got ice cream, and we waited.
 It was true.  Nobody took anything.  So we started reading the names on the stickers on the bottom.
 The problem wasn't that people were not picking up their Tupperware because they were!  The stuff that was left over was from people who were no longer in Akron. 
I feel a yard sale coming on.

Friday, June 7, 2019

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: BUT IS IT ART?: THEN WHAT KIND OF ART?

As a subcategory, liturgical art serves a very specific purpose: to teach and inspire in the Christian faith.  Therefor it must be clear to the onlooker who has at least a modicum of understanding of the faith.  In addition to being clear, it must use caution when using symbolism when it is not in keeping with the tradition that has been established to help get across meaning.  That does NOT mean that new modes of symbols cannot be employed, but they must be clear.

Using established symbols in a new fashion may be a cause for confusion.  For example, a numbus or halo that is specific for the Godhead placed on another person may confuse the message.  Ot using something whose meaning only makes itself clear when explained by the artist is not doing its job.  For example, there is a window in one church in which a couple is archaically involved in amorous behavior.  If you didn’t know that the a little red circle in the upper corner of the piece was intended by the artist to mean “Don’t” thereby signifying the commandment “Do not covet they neighbor’s wife,” then you it might lead the observer to wonder what exactly is going on here.  Liturgical art is somewhat less free than general categories of art.  BUT this does not mean that it cannot challenge, evolve and be enormously creative and never, ever - unless under dire circumstances, mass produced and bought in a catalogue. (Then why not just tack up the page from the catalogue?)



Liturgical art lifts up, it inspires, it ennobles, it challenges, it should dazzle with beauty and/or stretch the intellect.  Before such a piece, even a non-believer should be able to sit before it, receive a message, and be able to pour out his heart.