Sunday, February 19, 2017

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: A MALL-ADJUSTED LIFE

I think being a priest is one of the most awesome things ever.  Every once in a while, Fr G. or I, on a day things are going well, will look at the other with a wistful smile and ask "Why on earth don't more guys want to do this?"

But no matter how much one might like just about anything, there are aspects that are unpleasant - even most unpleasant.
It was time to go suit shopping - or at least I was told that it was time to go suit shopping.
I laugh reading this.  "Presidence?"  Really?  And I can't blame it on spell check.  And I am too lazy to draw the whole picture again for sake of a misspelling.  Let's just agree that I am not perfect.

And lazy.

Anyway, so we went to the mall . . .
Getting a suit takes forever especially since neither of us fit any kind of standard known to man.
And that's why we are priests and not models.  We spend most of the time covered in layers of material so that our bodily imperfections don't show. 

I've always had difficulties buying clothes.  Nothing ever really fit.  I have what I affectionally refer to as "monkey arms and legs" that off-the-rack clothes rarely come long enough to fully cover.  It was awful in band.  The sleeves of the uniform when I lifted my trumpet to my lips rose up to my elbows.

And IF I could find pants long enough - and a waist in my size - they are almost NEVER combined in the same pair of pants.

And we are both equally difficult to fit.  So we each had a lot of down time, which, in a store, is a dangerous thing.

Friday, February 17, 2017

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: A STEP (DOWN THE AISLE) IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

How long is this going to take?”

I try to take that question in the best possible light whenever a wedding couple poses this question concerning their up and coming nuptial ceremony  “Well, that highly depends if you want every option in the book or not,” is my usual answer.  “I can marry you in about 15 minutes in a simple ceremony if you want.”

They usually don’t.



In a shocking development, one of the options for celebrating matrimony was actually shortened.  Long time readers of Adam’s Ale know that I think that there is just WAY too much exposition on the part of the priest in our matrimonial ceremonies.  But that is what we have so there you go.  But in the case of a wedding being celebrated outside of Mass, there is neither a Gloria nor a Penitential Rite called for.  There is an opening exposition, which may be one of two options or “in similar words” and then right into the collect (opening prayer - with the “Let us pray.”)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

ME AGAINST ALL OF THE JERKS ON THE HIGHWAY

I had a terrible dream last night.  I was in a wheelchair roaming around downtown Barberton.  That was not the terrible part.  The terrible part was that there was another guy in a wheelchair in front of me who I couldn’t get around on the narrow sidewalk and I KNEW he was going slowly in a valiant attempt to tick me off.  The way I knew this was true was that when we got to a place where I could pass him, he started wheeling as quickly as he could. 

Idiot.

The dream ended with me getting out of my chair and punching him.

Are there not enough real life events such as this that I need to dream about it?  There’s the car that does the same thing on one lane roads, the guy that blocks the whole highway by riding at the exact same speed as the truck in the only other available lane, there’s having to stop on your bike to let someone pull into their driveway EVEN THOUGH you haven’t seen another car in an hour and there is not one other person pulling in or our of their driveway for miles in either direction but still you have to stop.  

Seriously?

Or, or, or if you slow down to let someone else coming in the other direction get around a parked car AND THEY SLOW DOWN TOO so the next time you say to yourself, “I am NOT slowing down this time because the other person just will to,” AND THEY DON’T.

There are, in general, two ways to handle the situation.  The first is to get angry and assign all kinds of malevolent intent on the part of the other person, the cosmos, or God.  This can result in a general raising of blood pressure, the side effects can be loss of volume control in your voice, tourette like symptoms of speech, and the involuntary raising of certain digits.  Once infected, the lingering feeling from these symptoms are difficult to shake and can lead to needing to see the Divine Doctor in the confessional.

Here is at least one alternative:  Say that every time you are delayed, cut off, or otherwise put off course you were being saved from something.  Assume it is your guardian angel in the other car.  Maybe these few extra moments mean that you wont run in to that annoying person who will give you a cold, or that you will miss being in a accident, that somehow your life is going to be better because of this annoying few moments - not the least of which will be that you have exercised and made stronger the virtue of patience within you.  This may sound pie-in-the-sky but I am amazed at how often it is true.  So instead of getting angry, you learn to say, “Thank you.”


BUT WHAT IF THE GUY IN THE OTHER VEHICLE REALLY IS JUST BEING A JERK?  That may be absolutely true.  But if you get angry, then he is a jerk and you are an angry jerk. It is better that they are a jerk and you at least grow in patience and thankfulness.  And who says God doesn’t use jerks to advance his plan?  It’s yours to win no matter what.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

CONVERT THE SELF FIRST

It almost doesn’t matter where you are on any political scale, our nation seems like a dysfunctional family.  It is not something to be fixed over night.  For any real change and healing it will take a long, uphill trudge needing lots of patience, understanding, forbearance, and fortitude.  For it is truly a wound and wounds take time to properly heal.

There is a highly prevalent philosophy in our nation that has its motto, “I will be happy when I get everyone else to be like me.”  When you have 319 million people trying to conform everyone else to their way of life, tensions rise rapidly and we get lots of angry, whiney people shouting slogans at each other or worse.



There is a place for demonstrations and protests and debates, but that can’t be the starting point.  The starting point is the self.  If the domestic Church (home) is the building block of the Church and if we are only as healthy as Church as we are in the domestic Church, then the same can be said for our nation.  We are only as healthy as our nation as we are as families and individuals.  When was the last time you saw a great example of a healthy, happy, functional family on T.V.?  If we are stating that this is the norm, then is it any wonder we have the nation we have?


Whatever you want your nation to be, first make sure that your home reflects that ideal to the extent possible.  That wont change anything over night, but in the long run, it will change things more permanently.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CCCLXXVIII

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbances of love is hell."  C. S. Lewis

QUOTE II:  "Love that is hopeless, that cannot end in marriage, does one of two things; either it degrades or it exalts.  It leaves its mark always but that mark need not be a stain."  from Mary Roberts Rhinheart

QUOTE III:  "Love's like the measles; all the worse when it comes late in life."  Anon.

IN OTHER NEWS:

As an anonymous somebody pointed out last week, while the staff of Adam's Ale was on vacation, the secretary in charge of calanderal events missed that we are celebrating 10 YEARS OF ADAM'S ALE!


A few clergy friends got together for lunch at Al's Meat Market and then went junk shopping.  Fr. Thomas found this in downtown Barberton:
 Of course, I had to try it on.
Now it is time to clear up a couple of things that have been a constant point of contention since the early years of the blog.

Fr. Pfeiffer was the first parochial vicar to appear on the blog.  He was just a young grasshopper at the time and this is pretty much the way I rendered him:
 It wasn't until he left the parish that he told me he didn't actually have blonde hair.  The next time I saw him I found, much to my astonishment, that he in fact does not have actual blonde hair.
Firstly, how would YOU know?  Do you carry a mirror.

Anyway, lucky for me that God is ironic.  1) This is an ARTISTIC interpretation of how you look and your personality screams for you to have blonde hair so there's that.  2) God let this happen in real life:
HA!

Mr. Mark Nowakowski is newish member of St. Sebastian Parish.  He is a composer.  If you would like a sample of his work go HERE.  Thank you CC.

From the Totally Useless Information Department:
There have been 2468 posts over 10 years
The number ONE post: "How Come I Don't Remember"
I feel poorly about that one because I fear it was popular because of a misleading title . . .

By far, most readers are from the United States but are CLOSELY followed by those in Russia.  Zdratsvuite!  Germany, France, China, Canada and the Ukraine come next with relatively close numbers followed by the UK.  There have been 813,824 views of this blog.  Though I know in the blogosphere that aint much but I'm not looking for numbers, I'm looking for quality like you.

And just for fun on this anniversary:

Monday, February 13, 2017

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: CHEAP AT TWICE THE PRICE

You might have picked up from the grand lack of postings last week or so that I and everybody who works for Adam's Ale went on a staff vacation last week.  So I just decided to shut down the offices.  Thanks for checking up and coming back now that the blog is up and running again.

As I do every year, I slip on down to one of our warmer states for a few days to stock up on vitamin D so that I might be a better pastor to the people of the parish.  This of course means jumping on an airplane first.  Is it just me or did all of TSA go through extreme curtesy classes?  The lines were not only short and free of hassle, it seems they were all eerily nice.
I am the grateful guest of some friends who live in a state under the sun.  They are so kind but it so obvious that I do not belong there other than for a visit.  It reminds me of my sister who moved to the south and they could pick her out because of her northern accent.  Then she came back here with a slight twang, said things like "you all" and "howdy" and we tagged her a southerner.  She has become a woman without a cardinal direction to call her own.

I am a true northerner and was apparent the moment I stepped off of the gangway of the airplane.
Also, nobody has facial hair down there.  It's like their faces are naked and they just walk around like that without shame.
We had a Pre-Cana retreat this last weekend at St. Sebastian.  There were a lot of couples there.  I would say half of the men had beard that were somewhere between fierce and epic.  Another quarter had beards that were nothing to be ashamed of.  And the last quarter walked around with too much facial skin showing.  These are my people.  Of course, now I'm afraid to trim my beard back for Easter as I promised my sister because of tan lines . . . 

Good people of St. Joseph - you are in for a surprise this weekend.  Please be kind and supportive.  You will understand after you read your bulletin.

But that is not the only thing that separated me from those among whom I vacationed.  It was a bit of a resort area where people liked to spend good money.  Everybody had beautiful, expensive haircuts.  Gender wasn't a factor.  You needed a good haircut to fit in well at the local coffee shop.
Clothes too.  As a matter of fact, after coming back and talking with Fr. Gearing at St. Adelbert, we both came to the conclusion that we have turned into old bachelors that don't have good women to nag us that we have been wearing the same clothes for 10 years.  We have made a commitment to upgrade our closets.  I began last week by ordering nice clerical shirts (man! are they expensive!)  and Wednesday, the day away from the parish for both of us, we are going to go out and look at suits.  And shoes.  Not more buy one pair get one pair for half off at the Woolworths.
All and all, it is a wonderful, fun, beautiful place to visit and I am so terribly grateful for the experience.  But . . .
Which is, of course, the purpose of a vacation.

Friday, February 10, 2017

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: IF YOU DON'T KNOW, PRETEND LIKE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING

A few Advents ago the new Missal came out.  Prior to that point, a typical wedding would begin with the Penitential Rite, which, quite honestly, though probably a good thing to do, was always a bit awkward especially when there were a lot of non-Catholics present.  (Personal opinion.)  In its stead, when there is a nuptial Mass, we begin with the Gloria - which I like better, but is difficult when there are few (practicing) Catholics in the congregation and it is just me and soloist belting out God’s praises.  But it is amazing when it is a bunch of Catholics.


So think back to that first advent of the new Missal.  I’m about to concelebrate a wedding at our cathedral and the question comes up, “Do we sing the Gloria?”  After all, it is not prayed all during the Advent season.  Right?  But the new rite calls for it.  This was not one of the topics covered when we went to all of the workshops on the new Missal.  So, the other clergy, the musicians and I huddled together to make a decision.  Although it went against our instincts, it seemed that that the rubrics clearly called for the Gloria to be sung.  So we did.

When I got home I called the liturgy office for a response.  Nobody was in so the person who was the liturgist for the diocese at the time called back a few days later.  We had a pleasant conversation and then got down to discussing the wedding Gloria.  The person was very honest and said, “I am not entirely positive but I can tell you this:  There was a wedding at the cathedral earlier this week and they sang the Gloria so I would use that as your example until we can confirm so.”

HA!

As it turns out, singing the Gloria is the correct thing to do.  It is part of the ritual for this particular type of liturgy and therefor when a nuptial Mass is said, the Gloria is always prayed even when otherwise it would not be.


And that is why we now sing the Gloria at nuptial Masses.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

THEOLOGY ON TAP, AKRON: OH WHAT A NIGHT

Less than 48 hours ago I looked out my window and saw THIS:
Today I look out my window and see THIS:
It's a beautiful world isn't it?

That is why I've not been blogging.  It is not good to get sand in your computer.

Anyway, I got back just in time for my day away from the parish.  (See how that works?)  But it was still a busy day around the office.  It was Theology on Tap Akron Day and Mother Theodora was coming to speak.  So before hand (they were coming all this way after all) I decided to have the nuns from Christ the Bridegroom Monastery over for dinner along with some priests and seminarians.  It began with the social hour: 
Then we moved in to the dinning room where Marcy and her outstanding crew made us a delightful dinner.  Terri even made cookies with the parish seal on them - and she made the table cloth - and the arranged the flowers.  It was awesome because if I had taken care of it, we would have ordered pizza.
In the above picture to the far right is Sara Lynn who was just accepted as a postulant!  Congratulations!  Please keep her in your prayers.

Below is Mother Gabriella practicing a song a tap number that she was about to perform.
Okay, I was COMPLETELY kidding about that.

Here is most of the gang that was here yesterday.
Then we moved on over to the church where they sang Byzantine Vespers for us.  The parish and community was invited to join us.  It was beautiful.
Then we jumped into our cars and drove out to the Winking Lizard in Peninsula for Theology on Tap, Akron!

There were a lot of priests and seminarians there.  Thanks for coming out guys.

The reason that I really like THIS picture . . .
Is because it reminds me of THIS picture.
Mother gave a great talk to a packed house.
Fortunately we had a little more room this time because the restaurant moved us to a larger room!

I hope you are able to join next time on March 8th when Fr. Marty Miller will be speaking.  Also, on February 20th, I will be speaking at Theology on the Rocks at D'Agnese's on White Pond for those of you who are adults but not necessarily with the adjective "young" before it.

Thank you to Eric Eirmann, Rocco, our MC, and everybody who helped make it a great night.  

Thanks also to Visitation Parish for sponsoring the evening.

Thanks to St. Joseph Parish, Cuyahoga Falls for letting us borrow their sound system.

ToT Akron is a ministry of St. Sebastian Parish.  If you are interested in sponsoring a night, please contact me!

Monday, January 30, 2017

LAST MINUTE THINGS

I'm not going to be able to post for a couple of days (at least I think) but there was a couple of things I wanted you to catch if you didn't already:

Wednesday, February 8th, Mother Theodora will be speaking at Theology on Tap Akron at the Winking Lizard in Peninsula.  Doors open at 7:00PM.  ToT Akron.

Just before that, 5 or 6 of the nuns from Christ the Bridegroom Monastery will be at St. Sebastian to pray Byzantine Vespers (or Evening Prayer) at 5:45 and YOU are invited!  Please come and join in prayer as they chant the prayers for and with us.  For those who are interested, there will be time then to jump into our cars and head out to Peninsula for Mother's talk.

The Akron Beacon Journal ran a great article on the front of the Lifestyle section last week about ToT Akron.  If you missed it or want to see more pictures go HERE.

Theology on the Rocks kicks off in February.  It is for adults with no prefaces (such as young or old.) It will be on Monday, February 20th at D'Agnese's on White Pond, Akron.  Doors open at 7PM.  Cost is $10.  Fr Valencheck will be the first speaker.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: IS IT GETTING WARMLY IN HERE?

Continuing our look at the revised rite for weddings.

So somehow we got ourselves in the church, have been warmly welcomed, and have made down the aisle and to our places.  The Sign of the Cross has been made and one of the greetings from the Roman Missal (The Lord be with you . . . ) has been exchanged.


Here is another change (one that I greatly appreciate) but one that may go largely unnoticed by most folks.  There is an opening address to be given by the celebrant.  I am TERRIBLE about speaking extemporarily.  All the words and ideas I have carefully thought out all go running to my mouth at the same time and create a log jam so that what comes out is either lacking, confused, or diarrhetic.  So there are two opening “scripts” if you will designed to invite the congregation to prepare themselves inwardly for the celebration.

However, for eloquent and capable speakers, there is another option.  The rubric says, “These or similar words,” which means he may use his own words.  But this are not the warm words of welcome, which has already taken place, nor the greeting offered with the, “Peace be with you,” these words have their own special function of preparing those gathered inwardly for what is about to take place ALTHOUGH I WILL ADMIT that the second prepared option does say again, “The Church warmly welcomes you,” which is why at least one priest I know uses this particular paragraph for the warm welcome when greeting the couple at the door.


WHILE I LIKE THIS, one thing that I don’t like (personal opinion here - you may completely disagree - certainly the bishops of the United States do) it seems that this particular rite is so very wordy.  About half way through the rite I find myself thinking, “Am I still speaking?  Even I am getting tired of hearing me speak.”  But nobody asked me so I will be an obedient son.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A PIOUS REFLECTION ON THE LIFE OF ST. SEBASTIAN

Although today is the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul (happy feast day St. Paulers in South Akron) here is presented a pious reflection on the life of St. Sebastian (January 20th) which was presented as a homily for our feast day this year.

A soldier lays on his bed; a cot perhaps really.  And though he put in a full, difficult day, he is wide awake.  He cannot fall asleep.  His military brain is on alert. It isn’t that he has a troubled conscience.  In fact, his conscience is quite at peace.  Just because something is legal or illegal does not mean that it is moral or immoral.  He is a soldier and he is supposed to obey.  But what about when obedience goes against truth, love, and even God?  So he chose to be as loyal as possible without compromising his ideals, his morals, or his heart.  It was not a rash decision.  Is was born of years of contemplation and reflection.  And even though years later he would be depicted as a young man in his prime, in actuality, though soldier tough, he was an older, wiser man with a heavy white beard.  And so he spent much time considering the consequences of this very day.

Finally came the noise for which he was waiting.  The sound of men coming down the corridor attempting stealth.  But he could hear them.  He was a soldier after all.  And he knew that someone had betrayed him and that it was only a matter of time.  So he gets up and sits on the edge of his bed, already in full uniform save for his weapons to show that he was both ready and that he possed no threat.  He was prepared for this night.

The door didn’t explode open as if they guards were coming to capture an enemy.  He was, after all, the head of the Praetorian Guard, charged to protect the emperor, which he did to the best of his ability.  He was their leader, their father figure, and friend.  No, the door slowly opens, almost politely, and there were his men with conflicted looks on their faces.  Only one word is spoken.

“Sebastian.”

He stands and joins them and they walk down the corridor.  It has begun.

There was no man handling.  No binding.  These strong, proud men shuffle their feet and avoid making eye contact.  No words are spoken.

It is an ugly scene before Dioclesian the Emperor.  Right now it doesn’t matter if he is right or wrong, moral or immoral, if he is good or if he is evil.  What matters now is that he has the power to enforce his will and a soldier is condemned to death.

It is kind of a grotesquely gruesome death.  Not the arrows that will come, but the friends, the comrades, the fellow men-at-arms who suddenly find themselves on the opposite side of the law.  Friends must lead their friend, their authority and father figure, the person they respect to death.

Their own hands must strip the dignity of his uniform from his body, bind him to a stake and stand off at a distance and pull back arrows on the string in the direction of this great man.  Everything is said with their eyes.

“Why did you make us do this Sebastian?  We are soldiers.  This is our duty.  We follow the emperor even when we don’t like it.”

But Sebastian’s eyes convey their own message.  “You have to understand.  I am Christian.  I have a duty to the One Who so loved me.  This is what it is to love; to be able to sacrifice everything for the one that you love even when the consequences are not what you want them to be.”

Now, his friends are expert archers and the also know the human body well and they know where to pierce the body so as to not cause death.  The first flurry of arrows whisper through the air and puncture Sebastian's body causing him to buckle in pain and fall to his knees.  But he looks up and some mysterious glow shines on his face and he now knows how much he loves God and so fills with hope and begins to rise.

You can imagine the soldiers thinking “Just stay down Sebastian.”  But he doesn’t and they are forced to let go another volley of arrows that devastate his body and Sebastian collapses to the ground and they leave him to his death.

They must go on.  But someone else comes by; a woman by the name of Irene and her companions.  She has come to take Sebastian’s body to prepare it for burial.  But there is something odd here.  As she moves the body the wounds well with blood and bleed.  He is not dead!  He is alive!  

So she has him brought to her home where she cleans and tends to his wounds, bandages him, giving his nourishment, and when he is feeling a little better they begin to talk about his adventures in helping Christians.  

But one day the conversation becomes a little more serious.  Sebastian begins to speak about how important it is for all Christians to risk even their own lives for the faith.  "If we do not this, thing swill ever get better."  

“But seriously Sebastian, and don’t take this the wrong way, but how can we realistically accomplish by this?  Even being identified as Christian can lead to our death.  Look what happened to Marcillious, and Markus - look what happened to you Sebastian.  We all risked everything just tending to you.  A lot of good our mission will be if we are all dead, or jailed, or even just ridiculed.

“And of course it is easy for you to rest on your laurels and say, ‘all of you should go out and fight for the faith.’  The risk is over for you.”

That stung like another arrow.  

Once again, on a night after his body sufficiently healed, the soldier lay awake again on his bed.  And this time he was wrestling with his conscience.  He thought to himself, “If you perform a great enough act to show the person you love that you indeed love him, are you then off the hook?  When a mother goes through such great pain giving birth to her child, does that mean she doesn’t have to sacrifice anymore for her child to prove er love?  If a man gives up everything to marry the woman he loves, does that mean he mean he never need sacrifice for her again?  And if we love God and we perform one great act of love for Him, does that mean we need never risk again for the rest of our lives?  Can we even call it love if that is our mentality?”

So once again, Sebastian sits up on his bed, stands, and sets out to go before Dioclesian.  He comes across him on a set of stairs somewhere out on the Apian Way outside the walls of Rome and gives a prophet’s warning to the Emperor.  “You are mistreating God’s people and breaking his holy law!  Hear this from Sebastian who you tried to put to death!  God spared me and sent me to you to give you fair warning.  Repent of your ways and turn to the Lord and save you soul!”

Dioclesian is petrified.  Is this a ghost come to haunt him?  His bowels turn to jelly and his heart races.  But soon he recovers when he realizes this is Sebastian in the flesh.  Somehow he had survived his execution.  Pulling his wits together he orders his guards to bludgeon Sebastian to death and this time in his presence so that he can be sure that he is finally dead.  He orders the body to be thrown in the gutter and left like so much rubbish.  Then the procession continues.  The fury blows on like a storm passing through after it has done its damage.

The noble heart that loved so much, that was willing to risk everything for God and for his brothers and sisters to prove his love is thoughtlessly left by the side of the road.  A gift rejected.

Dioclesian wins.

Or did he?

The rule of Dioclesian is long over.

Rarely is his name spoken other than in reference to St. Sebastian.

There are no buildings named after him.

Nobody tries to imitate his life.

His name is not on our lips in supplication.

He is not remembered fondly.

He is nor respected for his nobility, his leadership, his love.

And one wonders where he is spending all of eternity.
He is a shadow in the brilliance of our patron, St. Sebastian who has a privileged place in heaven and who like to interceded for us.  

Lord, fill us with that spirit of courage 
which gave your martyr Sebastian 
strength to offer his life in faithful witness. 
Help us to learn from him to cherish Your law 
and to obey you rather than men. 
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, 
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, 
one God, for ever and ever.


Amen.