Monday, April 30, 2007


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything for certain and which has as its goal one’s own ego and one’s own desire.” – Pope Benedict XVI

QUOTE II – “We are at a time for the Church in our country when some Catholics – too many – are discovering that they’ve gradually become non-Catholics who happen to go to Mass.” – Chaput

QUOTE III – “Why do dissenters stick around? That, gentlemen, is why you need a Church and a teaching magistarium.” – Fr. Bendict Groeschel.


Fr. D. sent in some interesting information. You may remember the talk given at his parish by Colleen Carroll Campbell which was reported here. She has sent news that she is now writing a new weekly op-ed column in the St. Louise Post-Dispatch each Thursday and it can be read on their website. In it she wishes to show how religion, politics, and culture interplay. You can read her first article here.

Also the second season of her show “Faith and Culture” is debuting on EWTN. For more information look here.


Here are the answers to Monday’s quiz.


1. THE POPE – Your Holiness 2. CARDINAL – Your Eminence 3. PATRIARCH – Your Beatitude 4. PRO-NUNCIO – Your Excellency 5. ARCHBISHOP – Your Excellency 6. BISHOP – Your Excellency 7. ABBOT – Your Excellency 8. MONSIGNOR – Monsignor 9. PRIEST – Father 10. DEACON – Deacon 11. RELIGIOUS (MALE) – usually Father if ordained, otherwise Brother 12. RELIGIOUS (FEMALE) – Sister 13. SEMINARIAN – Mister 14. PRINCE GRAND MASTER OF MALTA – Your Highness 15. THE GRAND MASTER, THE EQUESTRIAN ORDER OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE OF JERUSALEM – Your Eminence

14 Right? – Your Holiness! (Monsignor Manners would be proud!)
11 Right? – Your Eminence
9 Right? – Your Excellency
7 Right? – Liturgist
5 Right? – Better go to Ecclesial Etiquette school if you are going to host this party.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


You are the host of a grand ecclesial party. Everyone will be there. Monsignor Manners recommends that you learn the proper address for each personage since you will be in charge of the introductions.

Here are the titles from which to choose. Some may be used more than once, others not at all. Monsignor Manners will provide the answer tomorrow.

Your Highness
Your Excellency
Reverend Mister
Your Eminence
Your Beatitude
Your Holiness
Your Lordship
Your Grace



Saturday, April 28, 2007


(Notice I skipped the Roman numerals last week. Now, how will I announce the 30th Sunday video?)


The people at This Rock report this month that Pope Benedict the XVI so believes that beauty is essential to the faith that he has picked fourteen images from the Church's treasury of art that must be reproduced in all future editions of the CCC. Taking his cue they will soon be adding an art section to the apologetics materials. Mark Schrauzer will be helping them in the endeavour. You can see his website here.

The Diocese of Cleveland Weekly E-Newsletter announces the the Diocese' new website. You can visit it here.

Today is World Day of Prayers for Vocations. Please pray not only for an increase of vocations but for those who are considering or actively pursuing vocations to the priestly and religious life. If you know of someone you think may have a vocation, please recommend it that person.

Friday, April 27, 2007


I’m jealous of people who have political bumper stickers on their cars. There has not been a candidate that I back so thoroughly that I would be comfortable having his name plastered on the most expensive and public object I own.

Many people feel the same way about their bishops especially considering the turmoil the Church has been through lately. Priests are certainly not immune to such thoughts. Mary Doria Russell says it well in “The Sparrow” where she writes, “It’s not easy to be obedient if you suspect your superiors are asses.”

For a couple of years while in the seminary I had an Opus Dei priest as a spiritual director on the sly. I confided in him that I was thinking of leaving the diocese because I wanted to go someplace where the ecclesial grass was greener and where there was a better bishop. First he reminded me that bishops are not forever and that my bishop was indeed my bishop and to stop speaking so negatively about him. “He is imperfect, but he is the spiritual father of your diocese and you owe him respect. You do not know with what he is dealing.”

The pressures with which a bishop deals I have come to learn are unbelievable. People who think bishops live glorious lives with all the perks have not known a bishop well at all. And at times all bishops make gloriously horrible mistakes and there is no shortage of people to chastise him when he does so and no less for when he does the right thing.

The wisest Sovereigns ere like private men, and the royal hand has sometimes laid the sword of chivalry upon a worthless shoulder which better had been branded by the hangman. What then? Kings do their best and they and we must answer for the intent, and not the event.” – Old Play

In our own diocese we have a new bishop. He has been here only one year. There is not a priest in the diocese that does not believe major changes need to be made here and look to him to do it. Yet almost without fail we all believe the changes must be made “over there, not in my yard.” And the changes are coming. There will be cheers in some quarters and condemnations in others.

There are concerns of Clevelanders who read this blog about issues that they wish our bishop would address. For as many faults that anyone may want to point out about him already, one thing I can say for certain of him is that he is a hard worker and he truly believes in what we do as Catholics. The enormity of his job at present is staggering and he is tackling it with all of his energy. That some result has not yet been seen might be attributable to work going on behind the scenes or that it simply is down the list of things to which he needs to attend.

Perhaps it would be nice to have a Saint Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator Bishop take over the diocese and set everything “right,” but that is not who we have. We have a man, a pastor of souls, our local shepherd who is trying his best and he deserves our respect and prayers.

There are times when even obedience calls us to hold bishops accountable for their actions or inactions as we have seen. But be not too quick to anger and frustration. There was only one perfect Shepherd and He left this guy in charge of the local Church. Those are mighty big shoes to fill. It is my belief that more good will come from support and encouragement than from giving into to detraction and disappointment at every turn, a bandwagon that too many seem eager to jump on.

Pray for your bishop. He needs it.


It is an awesome and terrifying thing to be a priest.

A combination of a question from a fellow blogger and some quiet time in prayer had me contemplating my priesthood yesterday. Most of the time I think God keeps my brain pretty dull to the reality of this vocation. This dullness is a gift.

This is the way I see it. It is like once, while hiking in the Adirondacks I came across a black bear. I was close enough to see his muscles working under his thick black coat and make out the teeth in his open snout. I was rendered speechless and could not move but could only look on in awe. If we could truly “see” in its entirety what is offered to us in holy orders (or in baptism for that matter,) I think we would be likewise so overawed that we would be powerless to move at the magnificence of it.

Sometimes I get the slightest glimpse of it, usually at the mass. One usual spot is the response to the exhortation, “Pray my brothers and sisters that this, our sacrifice, may be acceptable to God the Almighty Father.”

A look out into the congregation reveals some pretty amazing people. I see my elders, others who do incredible ministries, people far more intelligent, persons with greater spirituality, I see my true brothers and sisters and hear them say, “May the Lord accept this sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of His Name, for our good, and the good of all His Church.” If I listen too carefully to the enormity of this statement it comes close to overpowering me. “How can they entrust this to me?” Can you imagine being on the altar and seeing your Mom saying this? Your best friend? Your professor? Eyes on you, they entrust you with this sacred action and then wait for you to lead them to the Eucharist.

Can you imagine the first time you say, “On the night before He died, He took bread in His sacred hands and looking up to heaven, to You, His Almighty Father, He gave You thanks and praise. He broke the bread, gave it to His disciples and said, ‘Take this all of you and eat it. This is My Body which will be given up for you.’” And it becomes His Body. Who can comprehend this?

Can you see how easy it would be for a priest to let this go to his head? To forget that in reality, it has nothing to do with him, it is all Christ. For a brief moment God allows his sins to be put into a bracket, He works through him, and brings about the source and summit of our lives.

Fortunately there is a prayer just before communion that puts the priest squarely in his place. “. . .I eat Your Body and drink Your Blood, let it not bring me condemnation but health in mind and body.” Christ is present by His own power, not mine. He is present by His own purity, not mine. Before the priest is life and death, a blessing and a curse. If he is in serious sin it is a tragedy. After all what is serious sin? It is a sober, informed, serious, and free rejection of God and His people. Before Him is that God and what a mockery he makes of Him by receiving Him whom he rejects. It is also the cause and symbol of the unity of the Body of Christ. What hypocrisy to partake of the Eucharist while at the same time rejecting the same community.

Yet, if he loves, if he strives to be the man God calls him to be, if he is priest to his people and son to his God, before him is the power of the universe.

Why did God choose him to be a priest? Because he is holier than the rest of the Church? Because he is smarter? Because he is more worthy? Because he is more loved? No. He was chosen because God asked and he said yes and thereby God was able to work with him as where someone else said no. That’s it. Then he takes the ciborium down to the aisle of the church, says, “The Body of Christ,” and places the Eucharist on the tongue of his Dad and wonders, “How could anyone say no to the priesthood?”

The self same power of the word makes the priest holy and venerable, for he is set apart from the rest of the community by the new blessing which he has received. As far as externals go, he is who he was; but his invisible soul is changed for the better by a certain invisible power and grace.” - St. Gregory of Nyssa

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


For years I have taught a class on symbolism. When invited to a parish I generally begin by spending time trying to locate and interpret all of the symbols used in a particular church building, develop a booklet for them, and at the end of the class offer tours of their church unlocking the many secrets these grand buildings contain. Some are easier than others.

By and large, Saint Clare is pretty straightforward. The majority of the symbols used in the building are in the stained glass windows. The Phillips’ Stained Glass Studio created the windows for the parish beginning in the 1960’s. In this commission Douglas Phillips, a native Clevelander, used traditional Christian symbolism. However, some things are just plain difficult to symbolize and I would have had no idea what some of the windows represented if Mr. Phillips’ widow who is still in the business had not been so kind as allow us to see the original plans that gave the title of each window. But nowhere was there a key explaining what the symbols themselves are.

Some are pretty straightforward and clever.

1. This window in a set of eight representing the Beatitudes is, “Happy Are the Pure of Heart for They Shall See God.” The snowflake comes from Psalm 51:9, “Cleanse me of my sin with hyssop, Oh wash me and shall be whiter than snow.” In the heart of the snowflake is the alpha and omega symbol that represents Jesus. The pure of heart are the sinless who see God. Clever.

Some after you are told what they are you think, “Well, of course that is what it is.” See if you can guess what these are before you read the caption.

2. From the corporal works of mercy here is “Bury the Dead.” The object in the background is a coffin and I believe the object in the foreground is an oil stock for the anointing of the sick. It looks like the inscription reads “O.T.” but I think that it is supposed to be “O.I.” for Oleum Infirmorum (Unless someone can enlighten to what O.T. would be!)

3. The title of this is not so difficult as is identifying the object in the background. This is “Give Drink to the Thirsty.” But why does there seem to be a skinned animal carcass in the background? On one of the tours someone finally identified it. If you are not so clever like me, be prepared to slap the palm of your hand against your forehead. It is a wineskin.

These last three examples I can tell you the titles of the windows but other than that I have no idea what the objects are supposed to represent. If you can figure it out I would appreciate hearing from you. The first two come from a set of windows depicting the four cardinal virtues.

4. This is “Prudence.”

5. This is “Temperance.”

6. This, from the Corporal Works of Mercy, is, “To Bear Wrongs Patiently.” Well, the hourglass is pretty obvious but what is with the rake? An instrument of torture?

Lastly, the answer to yesterday’s question about the Mary and Joseph shrine. It isn’t a horrible thing, just confusing and incredibly annoying to those who are in the know and sensitive to such things. After Vatican II when renovations were made to the church, the Saint Joseph Shrine was destroyed to make a “chapel” for the Blessed Sacrament. Having a statue on their hands they plopped it down next to the statue of Mary and declared it a Holy Family Shrine as many parishes were want to do. Unfortunately the symbolism, posture, and title of the Mary statue tell us that this is a depiction of Our Lady of Sorrows. She gains this title during the passion of her Son. That means Saint Joseph is long dead. These statues should not appear together unless we are saying that she is having a vision of her departed husband in her grief . . .(?!)


Considering that we live at the beginning of the third millennia and could have things quite bad architecturally, I feel rather fortunate to have the cathedral building that we do in the Diocese of Cleveland. Yet something about Saint John’s always made feel a bit uncomfortable and for the longest time I could not put my finger on exactly what that something was.

It finally became clear to me about ten years ago. I was singing in the choir in the loft for ordination. The organ pipes block the view for the choir and so if you want to see the goings on when you are not singing, you have to turn and look at a mirror positioned on the back wall. It is a long mirror horizontal with the floor. The view that it affords revealed what had caused my sense of tension with the building. You can experience what I did with the picture below. (It works much better in person but since you can’t all come here this will have to do.)

First, cover over the bottom half of the picture from about the height of a person down. Notice where the focus of the picture is. All the lines draw you to the back wall where the reredos is (and where the altar used to be.) Now, cover the opposite part of the picture from about the height of a person on up. Now notice where the focus is. It is about twenty-five yards forward where the new altar is. The use and the construction of the building are in contrast. It has an unsettling effect.

This happens in many church buildings because in many ways we are trying to look like one thing while in reality implementing another. At St. John’s, the top half of the picture suggests the symbolism of the mass in a much different way than the bottom half. What does the top half of the picture suggest? The people and the priest face (liturgical and in this case actual) east (toward the sun/Son) like Moses leading the people through the desert to the Promised Land. It is through Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit that we are led to the Father in heaven represented by the angles and the saints in the reredos.

The bottom half of the picture suggests the symbolism in a different way. The priest is not in a “leader of the procession” position but has turned and is in a “teacher” or confronting position. The action does not at first seem to lead beyond the particular group of people to something beyond however our theology of the mass (at least officially) has not changed. Every prayer is still being directed to the Father in heaven through the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit on behalf of the Body of Christ.

Now, my opinion on which way a priest should face and five dollars will get you a cup of coffee and a biscotti. However, I will say this: It is far more challenging to properly symbolize what is happening at the mass with the priest facing the people as opposed to facing the same way as the people and so it will take a great amount of care on the part of pastors and ministers and catechists and parents and even worshippers to instruct, understand, and (especially on the part of priests) to properly use bodily symbolism to get across the true aim and nature of the mass.

The biggest obstacle to overcome is the idea that, although the priest is facing the congregation, he by and large is not addressing them. Many priests make eye contact with the congregation as they pray the words in the Sacramentary. Tabernacles were moved out of our churches because we were told by liturgists that is was confusing for the people. This is far more confusing. For years as a younger person I thought that I was being addressed (video example) rather than having the understanding that this was my privileged overhearing of the prayers being offered to the Father, “On the night He was betrayed . . .” (Perhaps that plays a part in my ego.) Yet there are parts addressed to the Father, parts addressed to the Body of Christ and parts to Jesus. That was clearer formally. If you were being addressed the priest turned toward you, if God, toward the East. Now, by our use of our eyes, our voice, and the position of our bodies we need to convey the same thing. It is much more difficult but absolutely necessary.

And it is also dangerous for the priest to over emphasize celebrating so that “people can see what is going on.” Taking that effort to the extreme leads to glass chalices and ciboria in order to make it easier for “the people” to see. Do you know what there is to see? Nothing. When the bread and wine turn into the body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ, it will still look exactly the same. We are to look with the eyes of faith. We don’t need to see Him other than when we are afforded those short opportunities at the mass to give him worship and praise. To exaggerate “seeing,” is to divert attention away from what it is we are called to do and believe at the mass. This too is confusing. We walk by faith, not by sight and our symbols, actions, and gestures must reflect this.

Ah well – enjoy your coffee and biscotti.


If churches are to be “catechisms in stone,” great care must be used when messing with the symbolism during remolding. Below is an example. What is wrong with this shrine symbolically? The answer tomorrow.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND - "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." - Mary Roberts Rineheart


You may remember an earlier post about the young lady from Saint Clare who joined the Sisters of Life in New York this year and was interviewed for a show on MTV. Well, as of yet we still do not have an air date though word is that its production is finished. However another interesting tidbit of news has emerged from this episode. Apparently the two women who worked on the segment (did the interviewing and the filming) were so impressed that they decided to start volunteering with the order. Is that cool or what?

This link will take you to the Vatican website.

I was sitting in the loft of the church and noticed the reflection of the windows in the light fixtures. I just thought it was neat and wanted to share it with you. Pictured is Saint Mary and Saint Clare.


Do you remember the old air fresheners that looked like a cone? When you lifted up the plastic cone a bit from the base, there was a waxy substance that gave off a “pleasant scent.” Did you ever look and see what the waxing bar on the inside looked like after using the air freshener for a couple of weeks? It twisted and deformed, holes forming through the body of it. Keep this image in mind for a moment.

There is a beautiful Romanesque church in the heart of downtown Akron. When I was in college at the University of Akron someone donated a piece of art for their sanctuary. It looked a whole lot like the inside of that air freshener accept that it was white, was a water fountain, and was HUGE. It sat right up in the sanctuary. It was considered appropriate for church use because of its title, “The Holy Spirit.” But is all art, even good art, appropriate for church use or does liturgical art have further qualifications?

At my last parish there is a very large statue of Mary. It is well loved by a few, but most either hate or ignore it. Personally I think it an interesting piece worth contemplating as art, but am not so sure that it qualifies as liturgical art. The statue depicts a bloated woman with few features holding a child against her shoulder who appears to be in a jump suit. Because of this she gained such nicknames as Tundra Mary and Stay Puffed Marshmallow Mary. The artist purposefully made the face bland so that one could impose on it any person he desires. I think those who dislike the statue are reacting to their inability to relate to her not as art, but as a person. In other words, this statue lacks “the personal”.

In similar fashion is another piece in the diocese that has earned the title, “Tinfoil Jesus.” The crucifix for one of our parishes looks as though someone crunched up a bunch of tinfoil and formed it roughly into the shape of the crucified body of our Lord. It is actually a much nicer piece than that. It is carved linden wood which was then painted silver. Once again the artist’s intent was to allow us to impose upon it our own image of Jesus.

The problem is, we do not impose images onto pieces like this well. If tinfoil and marshmallows are presented we tend to see tinfoil and marshmallows. Now, it could be argued that most of our images of Mary and Jesus look more unlike them than like them. (Or take poor Saint Thomas Aquinas, how many fair representations are made of his ample girth? Or Saint Augustine? There is the thought that he was actually a man of color. See that often?) But still, we are less irritated by these specific yet erring images than by the less specific images that allows us to imagine the “essence” of a person. Why? Because it is ultimately the most personal that becomes the most universal. We are far more moved by the suffering of a specific mother at the death of her son than at the concept of “mothers mourning sons”. That is why we depict God the Father as an old man with a beard. It is difficult to love “a distinct mode of being.” (Boff)

For these reasons it is rare that the Church has ever commissioned art for art’s sake. First and foremost she uses art to teach and inspire. Because of this, a language of symbols has developed over the centuries that clue us in about the various persons being depicted whether in glass or paint or what have you.

The only thing about the Mary statue that clues you into the fact that this is Mary and Jesus is the title of the piece and the fact that it sits to the left of the sanctuary. The wood relief of Saint Joseph and Jesus in the same parish has the same deficit. If it would be stored away in a basement and drug out some day in the future by someone who was unfamiliar with it, there would be no clue as to whom it represents. Is it Joseph and Jesus? Is it Abraham and Isaac? Is it just two anonymous people?

Beauty, unless she is wed to something more meaningful, is always superficial.” – Donna Tart

The one, the true, the good, and the beautiful, they come together and they go together.” – Fr. Benedict Groeschel

Liturgical art is always about something more than beauty. It must convey truth, it must lift up, and it must give glory to God. When any one of these are neglected we end up with some odd creation that while it might attract our attention will fail in its primary duty to touch and instruct souls in the manner we intend as Church.

Liturgical art at its best then is instructional, personal, beautiful, and inspirational to the fullest extent that the community can muster. Do I believe then that Fr. O is a liturgical art snob? No. The windows in question may be of artistic value and they do seem to be somewhat useful for instruction. An argument could ensue as to whether they are inspirational or not (you may guess my position on that.) But where I find them (and much of modern liturgical art) most lacking is in the personal. The figures are so abstract (and I do think somewhat scary) that they fail to inspire an affinity with the persons they intend to portray. They are distant figures of another race and therefore have no relationship to me. They are untouchable.

What a shame.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Fishers of Men


Saint Clare, patron saint of television reminds us that this week is national TURN OFF THE TUBE WEEK. Turn off, tune out, and plan something constructive.


And now from our correspondent in the Eternal City (Who should be studying.)

Fr. O writes, "I was in Siena yesterday, and I thought you might be interested in seeing this, in the same way people are often interested in seeing cars crash at NASCAR races. These are pictures of the stained glass windows at the church of St. Dominic in Siena. This is where St. Catherine's head is. Her body is at one of the prettiest churches in Rome (Santa Maria Sopra Minerva), but her head is unfortunately at the butt ugliest church in Siena. Most of the windows in the church are just clear glass in the shape of Gothic arches, but they seem to be in the process of replacing the clear windows with stained glass. They are by far the ugliest stained glass windows I've ever seen. In fact, I found them a little bit frightening. I think they look a little bit like pictures that children colored in with magic markers. Angry children from the psychiatric ward, that is. It's nice that they are commissioning original art, but is it too much to ask for something tasteful? Enjoy, and try to control your gag reflex."

WARNING: Do not look directly into they eyes of the figures in the windows. Actually, from this picture you cannot tell how horrible they really are.

I feel another series coming on. I don't think there is anything I can do to stop it. Must resist the temptation to type - must pray and think first. Arg . . .

Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


As far as opinion goes, it does not matter what I think as to whether you should receive communion on the tongue or in the hand. According to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (paragraph 92) you have the right to receive on the tongue as a universal rule. You may receive in the hand where the conference of bishops with papal approval has deemed it permissible. (It is interesting to note however that the rest of the short paragraph warns against possible difficulties with receiving in the hand and actually forbids the practice if there is a risk of profanation.)

The risk of abuses when communion is received in the hand increases dramatically and it is incumbent upon the communicant to put forth the extra effort this privilege demands in order to make sure that the Blessed Sacrament is afforded all of the attention and care of which He is deserving. It is also vitally important that pastors make sure that his people are properly disposed to receiving in the hand if they so desire it. To that end, here are a couple of notes:

If you are not able to properly receive in the hand; don't. If you have a hand in a cast, if you are on crutches, if you have a hymnal in your hands, if you have your hymnal (or purse or any object) shoved up under your arm (no matter powerful your armpits are), if you are carrying a baby, or holding hands or need a hand to balance yourself or for any reason you do not have full and free use of your both of your hands and arms for the reception of the Blessed Sacrament, receive on the tongue.

So suppose your hands and arms are not otherwise occupied or disabled, please consider the following.

This is the way to receive communion in the hand. Your dominant hand is placed under your non-dominate hand. With fingers closed and palm flat and parallel to the floor, you create an altar for the reception of our Lord. Observed in this fashion it will be difficult to receive communion irreverently (unless at the same time you are also sticking your tongue out thoroughly confusing the person distributing.)

THE PINCHASAURUS (Sometimes know as Birdus Beakodiosus) As communion is about to be placed in the hand of the recipient, a "pincher" known in some circles as the Bird Beak of Snatchiness jumps out and tries to snatch the host out of the hand of the minister. The pincher can sometimes be quite persistent. In worse case scenarios one must use the incantation, "Stop it!" and then whack the person on the head and when they open their mouth to say, "Ouch," you place the Eucharist on their tongue and promise them that this is what will happen every time they come to communion until they learn now to receive correctly.

THE AMBIDEXTROUS It may be obvious to YOU into which hand the Eucharist should be placed (couldn't he see my pinkies were overlapped?) but it is not to everyone else. Please don't make the minister have to guess.

LAYITONMEOUS - Often leads to popping Jesus in the same way pills are popped. Again if you only have one hand, receive on the tongue. Unfortunately I am blind in one eye so if you hold out only one hand, I won't see it and will resort to distributing to you on the tongue. (Yes, I am kidding, I can see with both eyes. Just not at the same time.)

THE POSTUS SLOTUS - Please deposit one host. No.

THE RICEUS BOWLUS - Rice bowls are general good for collecting money for Catholic Relief Services and for, well, rice. Doesn't work so hot for communion. It may be that you are crippled up with arthritis, but in such cases, please receive on the tongue.

THE MODEST MANUS - I find it strange that persons who don't mind showing their mid-drifts or legs beginning just below the hips will be modest about exposing the skin of their hands in church. Please let me assure you that not only, at least in the instance, is it alright, it is also mandatory.

THE PIUS MANUS - Actually NOTHING should be in your hands, not even something that we would otherwise consider holy.

THE NOTA BENE - Have the answers to your final written in the palm of your hand? A reminder to pick up milk? A phone number? More information than we need. Only the pure of heart shall see God and only the clean of hand shall receive Jesus.
We believe this is the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Proper reception of the Body and Blood of our Lord gives great witness to this miraculous gift He has entrusted to us.


Finals week at my alma mater approximately fifteen year ago and another building is closed. Why? “Oh, someone called in a bomb threat,” my friend says with a rather “ho-hum” attitude. “Probably wasn’t ready for his final,” and we rolled our eyes.

In a less desirable part of town a student is robbed and shot. Just another crime. The University responded by putting emergency phones up.

What is different about today? We take bomb threats much more seriously. A gun on campus and a disgruntled student can mean more than a robbery, it can mean thirty dead. Why?

Perhaps it has to do with the cheapening of human life. If you can make one life less valuable, all life becomes less valuable. We kill “those evil people in that country,” we kill some of our criminals, will assist suicide, we abort millions of people sometimes for just not being the right kind of person or as healthy as we would like, through pornography we can learn to treat persons as objects to do with as we will, advertising not only skews what is valuable about us as human beings but humans are also used as objects to sell, and thanks to the myth of safe sex and faulty contraception that often does not prevent births nor prevents illness and/or death, we at least have the illusion that we can use a person sexually and walk away without any consequences or responsibilities AND WE ARE TAUGHT THAT THESE ARE THINGS NOT TO FEEL GUILTY ABOUT. Then why are we surprised when someone solves their problems with guns and death? There is no longer the strong community taboo against even thinking of such methods. If you take all of this into account, Cho’s statements make horribly logical sense. He simply took our secular societal view to its logical end, an end which sees human life as something to be used and death as an answer to problems. Why is anyone shocked?

Perhaps it is a good sign however that on the front page of the PD right next to “A KILLER SPEAKS” is a much smaller headline, “Ban on abortion method upheld,” as many see this form of abortion as far too close to infanticide. Interesting also that it did not say (as it usually does) “Abortion foes win victory” or “Blow for women’s rights.” Is there a possibility that we have seen we have come to far?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Especially when reading about the life of a saint I think of some great thing that I would like to accomplish faith wise. Then a voice tunes in like radio in the back of my mind, “Are you willing to do whatever it takes?” It is scary to say yes to this voice.

This morning’s first reading from Acts 5:17-26 tells the story of God miraculously releasing the apostles from jail so that they might preach the Good News. Yet we also know that not too terribly long after this they are asked to give glory to God by martyrdom; by being beheaded, sawn, filleted, crucified . . .

You have most likely heard the story by now of the Virginia Tech professor who had gone through the horrors of WWII, who barricated his classroom class room door with his body and instructed his students to jump out the window undoubtedly saving lives before he was gunned down. (There is no greater love . . .)

There it is. Sometimes you are asked to be the one through the window, the one who is to tell the story and spread the word, give testimony and steel others to face the world bravely and confidently. Sometimes you stand before the gunman and give the example, live the call to the full, provide the witness to which others may point.

Moments in life such as this are not always so dramatic, but they happen to everyone. Pray for the courage, strength and love to be able to fulfill your role to the full whether you are called to the door or the window.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: "The worse thing about sin is that the body remembers." - Thomas Aquinas

QUOTE II - "From the pulpits we hear the drone of safe talk on safe issues delivered in vanilla rhetoric whose honey dipped phrases disregard the reality of today's moral crisis. Where are our homilists? Where are the Kolbe's and Romeros? The Church honors martyrs, but more it needs living, brave leadership." - Drew DeCousey


The Cleveland Museum of Art is largely closed for remodeling but the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage which had the fabulous exhibit last year, "The Cradle of Christianity" (a show put together for Pope John Paul II) is now presenting, "Materpieces of European Painting" on loan from the CMA.

Adoro De Devote sent along this link to "Catholic Daily". She says, "Catholic Daily is a new website apostolate of sorts. The webmaster/editor is looking to build a content base for education and evangelization, and just yesterday, he added discussion forums. Currently he's still garnering authors, some pretty big names, also. The content isn't all original, for example, Mark Shea's articles posted on Catholic Exchange are also being posted on Catholic Daily, etc. He's got some big ideas and this guy is working hard to make it happen!"

Adoro is published there!


My cousin sent this along. If you are looking for something to do, give it a try:

1. go to 2. click on "maps" 3. click on "get directions" at the top 4. type " New York " in the first box (the "from" box)5. type " London " in the second box (the "to" box) 6. click on "get directions" top right. 7. scroll down to step #23



Here is one last installment (for now) of “Oh, The Places You’ll Go.”

Right after ordination it is custom in these parts to take a trip before beginning your first assignment. My trip was to a tiny little town named Jurisce nestled in the Alps of Slovenija where my family originated and where there is still an assortment of cousins. We were to have a mass of thanksgiving in the church where my family had worshipped for as far back as anyone can remember.

But first, on Corpus Christi (which in the local diocese I believe was celebrated on a Thursday) we went to the national shrine of Marija Pomagaj (Mary Our Help) in Brezne. Pope John Paul had visited there and there is a rather nice bronze statue of him there commemorating the event. Anyway, there was to be a great procession with the Blessed Sacrament but unfortunately there was a horrendous rainstorm that day and all the festivities were cancelled.

We were kneeling quietly and praying in the beautiful church when a man came up and tapped me on the shoulder. My Uncle had told him that I was newly ordained and he was quite excited to have me say a mass on the altar of the national shrine. (Once again, it took all of about half a second for me to check my social calendar before saying yes.)

Back in the sacristy they introduced me to the sacristan who could speak English rather well and she set me up for mass. I told her I was from Cleveland. She ran to the phone and called some people who came running down to meet me. They were a little disappointed. They were visiting from Australia. They thought I said “Queen’s Land.”

There were quite a few pilgrims present and it was a nice, quite, prayerful mass. Afterwards the sacristan had me sign a special guest book. I had a page all to myself. She flipped one page back and there was a name scribbled which was described as “Head of the CIA.” A few more pages back was John Paul II!

Sunday we had mass at the family parish. As you can see it is a tiny little place, but beautiful. I remember walking in and seeing the year of construction above the door and thinking, “Wow, this place is older than my country.” Inside were more family from the U.S. whom we were not expecting. It was all quite overwhelming.

The mass was a mixture of Latin, English, and Slovenian. At the end, a young lady gave a presentation written by my cousin Andre and then they presented me with a painting of St. Jurij (Saint George whom I took on as a patron of my priesthood) and copies of the church records for the family going back to 1828. The choir sang beautifully. When they began they took my breath away as they sounded just like the choir did in my home parish when I was growing up, a sound long since lost.

The parish priest generously handed me first mass prayer cards which he had printed up to pass out and they had my mother and I sing Marija Pomagaj before the whole group of us processed over to the new gastilna for a banquet, music, pictures, and bolinca (known to most people as bocce.)

It is funny, you never know exactly where God will lead you, but it is always interesting if you are open to following.

Well, as Mom used to say, “Zadoste!” Wednesday on to other topics for a while.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


Today is Low Sunday, Dominicana In Albis, Quasi Modo Sunday, the Second Sunday of our Easter celebration, and of course, Divine Mercy Sunday. Here is a faith shot in the arm to help you celebrate!


R.B. has graciously begun the construction of the Adam’s Ale domain. (THANKS!) I’m excited. There is not much there yet but if you want to see it:

The greatest secret the Church ever tried not to keep: it’s social justice teaching. Here is a site that I accidentally stumbled upon if this interests you.

This is too cool! Kaz from NY sent this site. It is a twenty four hour media stream of the Vatican. Wait! Is that Fr. O. I see? Shouldn’t he be studying?

The Diocese of Cleveland E-newsletter sends this link for Catholic job hunters.


On Friday night, a few priests, seminarians, and a bunch of friends went to go see Into Great Silence” here in Cleveland. I recommend the following if you are going to go see it.

First, for anyone over six feet (as I am) be prepared. I went to go see the four-hour Hamlet a number of years ago. I was much better prepared. I brought pillows to be comfortable through it. Theater seats were not designed for us. Bring a pillow or two. It will make the event much more enjoyable.

We were in one of the smaller screening rooms and it was pretty much packed. When we left it was not only dark outside, the rest of the theater was dark and abandoned. We should have gone out and talked after but it was late and (some of us) were tired. But consider having time to discuss the movie afterwards. As I bump into people or hear from them by Email the big question is, "So what did you think?" It would have been great to be able to talk about what each of us took away from the experience that night.

Prepare yourself to see this film. Go intending to contemplate as if praying for it is a beautiful, contemplative film! But don’t go expecting to see “a movie” as such.

And be wary if you join this order and they hand you a blue habit.

I hope you enjoy!