Friday, December 7, 2018

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: HISTORY OF THE RECTORY: INTO THE WOODS

Right on Fr. Pfeiffer’s heals another priest came along who would take a weekly room at the rectory.  The priest, who visited Akron every Wednesday from a neighboring state, would take a hotel room for which his order would pay.  He had a ministry that operated out of a neighboring parish that was eventually slated to close  He came knocking on our door to see if we would be open to having the ministry move to St. Sebastian.  The young priest from Barcelona, Spain fit in well and a month or so into his ministry here I said to him, “If your order would give me a quarter of what they pay the hotel, you could just stay here every week. You would have the company of priests, an open kitchen, and not worry about check in or check out times.”  A deal was struck. 

Fr. Trullio was a delight to have around.  He was unsure about Sebastian (the dog) but he did enjoy joining us for the dog’s daily walks.  On such walks we talked about the differences between Barcelona and Akron and surprisingly Akron was not always the loser.  “Why do you Americans build your cities in the woods?” he asked one day.  Our neighborhood is well inside the boundaries of the city of Akron and is by no means in “the woods,” but if you have ever been to Barcelona, you might understand why he asked this question.  

He was also fascinated by yard sales.  It took a couple of weeks for him to wrap his mind around people taking things out of their houses, putting them on their lawn, and selling them.  An offer of joining us for a dog walk was usually accompanied by the question, “Will we be able to stop by a yard sale today you suppose?”  It became a fruitful endeavor as more furniture for empty rooms was found.


Thursday, December 6, 2018

GUEST BLOGGER - IS IT TIME TO RETURN TO THE SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION?

Guest Blogger:  I am happy to have as our Guest Blogger today Deacon Michael Petkosek.  He won't be a deacon much longer as he will (if God wills it!) become a priest for the Diocese of Cleveland this spring.  Here is a reflection he gave on returning to Confession in the advent season.  Thank you Deacon Petkosek.  Please keep him & his class in your prayers!

My return to the active practice of the faith took place on a Saturday afternoon in 2006. I was a young professional and had just begun my career at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. The ruckus of college living had by then settled into a more mature focus on career and the necessities of life. Spurred by the disciplined atmosphere at Wright-Patterson of serving something beyond oneself, I began a serious reflection on faith and the state of my life. It had been years since I last celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation and I knew that I had misarranged my life during that intervening time. And so it was that I turned off college football on this particular autumn Saturday, sat in the corner of my bedroom, and practiced out loud the words of an honest confession. Then I went to the local parish to come face to face with God through his priest, and found the welcoming forgiveness of the Prodigal Father. I was home.

Returning to the Sacrament of Reconciliation can be difficult if we have been away. Often, as in my case, the weight of a misdirected life compels us to return and we find ourselves finally running in desperation to the Church and her ministry. But that is not necessarily everyone’s story, and sometimes we may need the right situation to draw us toward this sacrament that we know ourselves to need. Advent is that situation.

The Season of Advent is the turning of the liturgical year for the Church. It is a time of hope that anticipates Christmas and invites us to renew and deepen our life in Christ. A feeling of resolution pervades the whole Church as she resets her calendar, and the opportunity for a fresh start calls us to make resolutions in our practice of the faith that will enrich our lives this Christmas, over the coming year, and for the eternity of our existence.

An examination of Christ’s ministry may help to lessen our fears if we are struggling with the courage to approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We should keep in mind that when it comes to the forgiveness of sins, we are dealing with something that Christ did during his time on earth. The Evangelists clearly regarded Jesus as someone who possessed the authority to forgive sins and exercised this divine prerogative. We need to look no further than Jesus’ encounters with the paralytic in Mark’s Gospel, the woman caught in adultery of John’s Gospel, or the sinful woman forgiven in Luke’s Gospel to find the early Church’s profession of faith in Jesus’ ministry of forgiveness. We should also be encouraged by the reality that it is this same ministry that continues in the Church. It is in John’s Gospel, where the Last Supper Narrative most directly relates to the continuation of Jesus’ work through service to others, that these words are attributed to our Lord, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you… Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them…” (20:21-23). There is not a more clear Biblical account that situates the forgiveness of sins as an action of the Church. 

Coming to grips with our sinfulness can be scary. But, we should not let ourselves be fooled by the false notion of God as an administrator of punishment. The Good News is that God loves us in the midst of our sin and is constantly at work in drawing us to himself, even when this takes the form of being called back to God—like my experience of return from a misarranged life. In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the other half of the story is the Prodigal Father who never stops loving his wayward son. The father so hopes for his son’s return that, upon seeing him afar off, runs to meet him and never speaks of the incident in any other manner than my son has returned. The son had suffered the consequences of his actions—the effects of sin—but these are repaired upon returning to his father. The son is restored immediately by a father who longs for his presence. This Prodigal Father is God and the entire parable represents the experience of our sin. God is always eager for our return and the Sacrament of Reconciliation brings us back into the Father’s house, clothed with dignity, as the Prodigal Son was restored to his father’s house.

The celebration of the sacrament is meant to be an experience much like a Gospel encounter with Christ. We should say to the priest what we would say to Jesus if we were a penitent who encountered Jesus in a Gospel story, for indeed we are. The stern formality once associated with the sacrament exists today only as a caricature portrayed by the entertainment media. Instead, the rubrics of the liturgical rite that guide the celebration of the sacrament are almost transparent and are intended to facilitate a conversation. The priest is to serve as a visible instance of God’s welcome and mercy, someone who helps us to experience what the paralytic, the woman caught in adultery, and the sinful woman once experienced. The Church’s intention is to invite us to make a thoughtful examination of our conscience—to help us evaluate our circumstances honestly as did the Prodigal Son. We are not necessarily directed to produce an exhaustive list our venial sins, but a state of our life at the present moment; we should talk about sinfulness as much as we name specific instances of sin. Of course, any grave sins that an examination does reveal to us need to be named specifically in the confession. 

As we approach Advent, my hope is that you will desire to encounter Christ through his ongoing ministry in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The Father desires this privileged encounter with his mercy for you; the priest in the confessional is the Prodigal Father running to meet you. I can attest that that Saturday in 2006 was a Gospel story that has been added to the entirety of Christ’s work. In the Story of the Young Professional, I am as a contemporary of the Prodigal Son. May this Advent lead you to the same joy, especially if you have been away. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CDLVII

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "In our own lives the voice of God speaks slowly, a syllable at a time.  Reaching the peak of years. dispelling some of our intimate illusions and learning how to spell the meaning of life-experiences backwards, some of us discover how the scattered syllables form a single phrase.  Those who know that this life of our takes place in a world that is not all to be explained in human terms; that every moment is a carefully concealed act of His creation, cannot but ask: is there anything wherein His voice is not suppressed?  Is there anything wherein His creation is not concealed?"  from Abraham Heschel's, "God in Search of Man."

IN OTHER NEWS:

P.V. sent THIS article in on the War on Advent.

P.V. also sent THIS article about Starbucks keeping customers from watching porn in their stores.

Notice the relief on Fr. Simone's face when I said I was joking when I said he was fired and that he could quit the new job he took on.
Some events that might interest you during advent:

Recently a priest friend of mine sent me a note saying that the site "Fight the New Drug" movement is pretty darn good.  You can find it HERE.  Here is another of it's previews:  (5 Mins.)

Sunday, December 2, 2018

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: GETTING RID OF MICE IS A SNAP

So apparently we had mice in the rectory.  Marcy brought us over some food and went to put it in the cupboard (misspelled above but I didn't want to redraw it) and saw evidence that a mouse had been in there.  She cleaned it up and put a FEW mouse traps in there with a warning to be careful when reaching in there blindly for some ValueTime cheese curls or something.

So fine.  That was that.  Then we had a few people over to celebrate a birthday when this happened:
All this fuss about a cute, defenseless tiny grey mouse that was simply walking across the basement floor.  

As it turns out, the Franciscan spirituality only goes so far around here and we were given more traps to set out.  So we used up the remains of a jar of peanut butter and set some more traps around the house.  We put them in very strategic places so that the dogs could not get to them.

UNFORTUNATELY while I was gone on Wednesday, the carpets in the house were cleaned.  The cleaners did a fine job but as part of their cleaning, they moved furniture, stacked things on couches and beds and tables.  It took a little while when we were in the basement to think, "Oh dear, that means something bad for the dogs."  At just that moment, Sebastian started digging behind a table.  Almost at the same time I started yelling, "Sebastian!  No!" there was a SNAP!

Friday, November 30, 2018

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: HISTORY OF THE RECTORY: CHAPTER SIX

Shortly after all of the “congratulations on your new assignment can we come see the rectory” visits were over, the phone rang in my office.  It was the Secretary for Clergy Personnel of the diocese asking if I would be open to having a parochial vicar.  It's a great gig if you can get it.  There is always a lot of work to do at any given parish and having an extra hand on deck (if you can afford it) is an enormous blessing.  The plan was to hand on some of my responsibilities to him, but in reality what ended up happening was that we just took more on.

To be perfectly honest, there is not a lot of accountability in the priesthood.  To a certain extent, one can work as little or as much as one wants.  Suppose a priest only wants to pray the sacraments and the rest of the time puts the parish on auto pilot while he eat chips in front of the television.  Barring his name appearing on the front page of the local scandal sheet, what is the bishop going to do?  Fire him?  That would only make matters worse.  That just means spreading your already thin ranks even thinner.  There is only so much that an be done.

But the converse is also true.  A priest can work eight days a week, twenty five hours a day and there will still be a ton of things that could be done and that he might try to tackle.  Having another priest around would not only help take some of that pressure off, but it would also be nice to have someone around to warn you when you are going off the deep end, unpack the day with and (since we are not married) point out any peculiarities you might be developing in your solitude.

The priest that would be coming, Fr. Pfeiffer, would be straight out of the oven.  The oils would not have even dried on the palms of his hands yet before he said his first Mass at St. Sebastian.  In most cases, when such an assignment is made, it is simply announced and the priests are thrown together in not much different a fashion as arranged marriages: the two of you finding yourselves suddenly living together are forced to work it out.  Not so with a newly ordained.  Introductions are made and the proper care and feeding of these young pups are given at a meeting at the seminary.  A long list of questions to discuss are given in the form of color coded papers and we are given time to find a private spot and discuss such things as Mass and confession schedules, duty days, talents and job distributions, house rules, and so forth and so on.  But, when the time came, I put all that aside to discuss things that were truly important and pressing on my mind.  Before even saying hello I shook the young man’s hand and asked, “So tell me Father, do you like dogs?”

Thursday, November 29, 2018

MAKING SURE OUR ACTIONS MATCH OUR DESIRED OUTCOME

The current Church scandal is something that should inspire those who are appalled (and I hope you are) to become more devoted to the faith than ever.  Rather than taking the supposedly logical and seemingly legitimate route of declaring “the Church” hypocritical and walking away, it makes much more sense to see these horrific events as a sign that each individual person should be more devoted than ever to the Church and the most steadfast adherence to matters of faith than ever and this is why:

What we have seen and witnessed and many suffered through is NOT what happens when the faith is well practiced and Church law is attended to, it is what happens when the faith is NOT practiced and Church law is subverted at a time when far too many people have been content to have the both run on autopilot.  

In a similar vein, I am always amazed at how people think that just because their car is parked in a church parking lot that they can leave their car unlocked and their purse full of money on the front seat and that it should be Okay because it is on Church property.  I have not heard of a parish yet that has not experienced theft.  Church attracts sinners - some working at overcoming sin (that is hopefully most of us) and those who are looking for cover.  So if we want our parishes to be safe, we have to be vigilant and not leave the collection sitting in a pew, the candle boxes left unlocked, the payroll just sitting out on a desk.

The practice of the faith is just the same and from time to time, like an audit pointing out financial practices that have slipped, the practice of the faith needs constant renewal.  And when renewal has happened historically, it has always occurred when individual men and women have decided to take their faith seriously and live it actively and publicly.  

IF YOU DO NOT LIKE THE EVIL THAT SOME HAVE DONE IN THE CHURCH then do not give up on the right practice of faith for it is vehemently opposed to such things.  If you want such evil actions to spread and become more common, then abandon the faith which is one of the few organized and powerful voices in the world still standing against such things.  


But it needs you to live it.  The Kingdom of God exists in this world as “already/not-yet.”  It is already breaking into the world since Jesus Christ, but it will not be fully established until He comes again.  Until then, it exists where men and women of good faith live it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CDLVI

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Not long ago, the household was a context of daily life.  The arts that provided for the material needs of human life were largely home arts, practiced, developed, and passed on within the four walls, or at least in the immediate ambit of the home."  from John Chudback's article, "Reclaiming the Household" in First Things Nov. 2018

QUOTE II:  "Even those who intentionally seek to have  'traditional' family life, in fact, often lack the ability to comprehend the reality of a household that is not merely 'traditional,' but ancient and profoundly human.  They set out to start a family in a virtual vacuum.  The husband and father usually sallies forth to a remote job, and the wife and mother attempts to manage the day-to-day work of child-rearing - a project the real nature of which is elusive - while wondering what place she too might have 'out there'."  same source

IN OTHER NEWS:

Last night we had a special Theology on the Rocks.  It was an encore presentation of Fr. Klonowski's talk on some best practices of bringing adult children (and others) back to the faith.  The topic is so important that we the event was held free (thank you for the free will offering) and at Zwilser Hall.  Despite the poor weather conditions and the lack of certain beverages we still had about 70 people!
Fr. K gave "5 Don'ts and 5 Dos" for helping bring people back to the faith.  They were posted here many months ago.  Go HERE if you would like to see them again.
If you would like to hear the talk.  Go HERE.

This is what it looks like when the organ is being tuned.  Tuesday, Advent Noon Adoration and Organ Recitals are coming up soon!
 Theology on Tap is coming up - I'll be giving the talk that I gave to ToR on architecture:
We gave a "Welcome to Akron" dinner to Fr. Zerucha, new pastor of St. Bernard and St Mary parishes.  Congratulations!
Six minutes with Matthew Kelly

Monday, November 26, 2018

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: WHICH BULLET IS MADE FOR ME?

Every time there is a holiday and the staff has off I try to promise - especially the maintenance people - that I will NOT call them.  But EVERY TIME there is an insurmountable problem - one ridiculous event that finds me on the phone asking, "Can you talk me through this," to which they respond, "Never mind Father, that would be too difficult.  I'll get over there in just a little bit."

Thanksgiving morning I was walking the dogs and I saw that there were a bunch of city trucks in front of the Julie Billiart School.  I thought maybe that was our emergency for the day and that we got off pretty easy because I wouldn't have to call anyone but the principal.
Then this happened: 
That is typically owing to a problem in the school.  But - hey - we could do without TV for a few days.  That tied in to my homily this week anyway.

Then a call came in on the emergency line:  The women's toilet in the basement of the church was running and wouldn't shut off. 

So maybe that was it!  Fine!  Fr. Anthony and I could now safely go spend Thanksgiving with our families!
 And that's when the crash bar on the new door fell off.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CDLV

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Yes, I am well aware that the goal of modern humanities education is to unmask the old authors and expose their writings as the poisoned fruit of a corrupt socioeconomic system, or of racism, sexism, and other approved targets of moral opprobrium.  Yes, I know many of you think that, when we read "texts" for truth or wisdom, we are being at best naive, at worst making ourselves complicit in spreading a hegemonic ideology, perpetuation the interests of the dominant class.  Yes, I know professors should know how to write long, jargon-laden sentences.  Yes, I know that professors are not supposed to use worlds like decency, nobility, and virtue without irony or scare quotes.  I recognize, in others words, that the reform of the humanities in universities will proceed one funeral at a time."

IN OTHER NEWS:

I went to visit Mother Mary Thomas last week with some friends.
 She is the nun that painted this monumental work:
 And in her 80s she is still at it!
 Find out more about her and her art HERE.

EVENTS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER:


E.F. sent in THIS article from Dale Ahlqueist's visit to The Franciscan University of Steubenville.  

P.V. sent in THIS article of male students asking a Catholic University to put a filter on the Wi-Fi

Two videos this week:

Here is a 5.4 minute video of the restoration of St. Sebastian Parish for its 90th anniversary:




Here is Jordan Peterson in Slovenia (where my family is from.)  Over an hour.

Monday, November 19, 2018

MONDAY DIARY: DOGGONE NEWS

So about a year ago, I take Sebastian the dog, then almost 12, to the vet and received some news:
It seemed logical, then, to get another dog.  Sebastian could help train the new rectory employee and perhaps the new dog could give Sebastian some re-invigorated life and companionship in his twilight years.

A kind parishioner helped me to find Chester, named after G. K. Chesterton.  The two dogs got along gangbusters.  Chester adores Sebastian and Sebastian has really taken Chester under his wing so to speak.  It was a good move.  Having two dogs is much trickier than I imagined it would be but things have been working out well under the circumstances.

THEN:

Skip ahead a year.  Sebastian is almost 13.  We go to the vet:

And that's how I ended up with two dogs.

Friday, November 16, 2018

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: HISTORY OF THE RECTORY; THE END OF THE CHAPTER

It was while drying dishes that I noticed that the dog was acting oddly and was off his food.  On the one hand he seemed to need lots of attention – cried for it - but when given, he did not seem very interested, whining and turning in circles.  But I was exhausted and it was more than I was interested in handling at that late hour.

Then that somebody remembered there were more dishes in the living room.  Going in to clear the dishes, though stuffed to the brim, the glutenous side of me had the intention of tasting just a little bit more of the spicy, meaty treats.  Looking at the platter I was shocked to see that we had finished off more of it than I had realized and that the choicest, spiciest selections  disappeared completely.  But the more I thought about it, the more sure I was that we had not, in fact, consumed that much food.  It would have been almost physically impossible.  Then the truth of it hit.  Sebastian!  The dog had helped himself to hot and spicy sausages and cheeses.  And that was also his emergency.  He was desperate to get outside and pass the burning mess inside him onto the grass.  I understood then he had been doing the dog version of a human with bulging eyes and crossing his legs doing his darndest not to let an accident happen.

“Come on boy, let’s go outside.”  The relief on his doggy face was palpable.  The door was opened and he shot out like a bullet, came to a screeching halt a few feet from the door and relieved the terrible, burning pressure.


I’ve never trusted him around such accessible and delicious food again. 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

IF GOD WOULD ONLY PLAINLY TELL ME WHAT HE WANTS ME TO DO WITH MY LIFE.

What does God want me to do with my life?”

Often I come across people, usually young adults, who feel stuck in concerning their life’s path.  “If only God would tell me His plan for me,” is what they want to know.

You may not want that.

Suppose you did know.  Then you could never do anything else or you would be acting against God’s plan.  What a terrible pressure to carry on with what you are doing even if you are bad at it or extremely unhappy.

Still, for some people there is a definite life path.  Through discernment and openness to all of the clues around them, and with the assistance of some sort of spiritual advisor, it is pretty clear.  “Ah!  This is to what I am called!”  That sort of happened to me.  That’s a longer story maybe I’ll share some other time. 

But for some people, it isn’t clear in that way.  This is because what God might need from you is not for you to take “this job” or “this vocation,” it may be that His life plan for you is to live whatever you choose to do in a special way.  It isn’t WHAT you do (within reason) but HOW you do it.  For some people then, they may be asking the wrong question.

There was once a young lady who came to see me with what I thought was good news.  She was accepted into a religious order about which she was very excited.  But when she came to my office, she was in inconsolable tears.  After a little while she was able to explain that a young man with whom she was hanging out, upon discovering that she may actually be going into the convent, proposed to her.  This was good news.  It wasn’t as though she needed to choose between life in prison and the death penalty.  These were to good vocations.  They are both pathways to holiness.  They are both ministries to the world lived correctly.  God was not sitting on a cloud saying, “Pick the right one that I want for you or I get to punish you!”  More likely He was looking lovingly upon His daughter and saying, “I have given you two wonderful presents from which to choose, but you may only have one.  Pick one and live it with relish, power and grace and help Me transform the world.”


If you are stuck in a “what is God’s plan for me” mode, be open to signs, be open to what people of faith people may be saying to you, be open to spiritual direction and be patient - but not TOO patient.  Don’t let the process be that time takes away all choices and you get what is left.  In the mean time, also be open to the idea of not WHAT but HOW and start living it with gusto!  Live life as though you ARE the son or daughter of the Heavenly Father that you are, that you are among the kings and queens in the heavenly court, that you are a disciple, that you are the person of prayer, sacrament and grace, that you are fully what God is calling you to be.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CDLIV

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "In the midst of our applauding the feats of civilization, the Bible flings itself like a knife slashing our complacency, reminding us that God, too, has a voice in history."  from Abraham Joshua Heschel's, "God in Search of Man."

IN OTHER NEWS:

E.P. sent in THIS article about the resurgence of the St. Micheal Prayer.

I displayed a silver icon of the Last Supper in the back of the church with the explanation in the picture below.  I think someone may have accidentally taken it home thinking we were looking for a good home for it.  If anybody has any information about this or can kindly and confidentially tell the person who may have mistakenly taken it to return it?  THANK YOU.
Bonafacy Obts was an expert vestment maker that our very own Karen Spangler met with to get some tips died recently.  Karen recently put his tips to use in the making of our 90th Anniversary vestments.  Carly Smith made the appliqués.  They did a wonderful job!  Notice the front appliqué matches the angels over all of the church doors:

The back appliqué exquisitely matches the pelican motif on our altar rail:

Well done!

Saw this sign and had to take a picture.  I LOVE AKRON!
Fr. Pfeiffer stopped over on Sunday night to visit.  I snapped this picture of him at the piano and thought it was so cool that I needed to share it with you.
Here are some quickly approaching events:



E.F., a fellow Chestetonian, sent out this video of Dale Ahlqueist's talk, "G. K. Chesterton: The Critic's Critic."  I recommend skipping the first 13 minutes or so.