Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Wednesday mornings I go visit parishioners at the hospital. One of my favorite people to stop and say hi to is a Jewish man who volunteers for the valet parking service for those visiting the cancer center. Walking in to the hospital today he calls out, “So Father, I hear they found the body of Jesus!” (Isn’t it strange how these great discoveries always seem to occur during lent? Why don’t they ever come to light in a perfectly good month like August?)

“Yes,” I replied, “Apparently I am going to be out of a job by Easter.”

“Don’t worry,” he called back, “I’ll save you a seat at the synagogue.”

Once, when I was in Austria taking a tour through a museum, a docent announced that a beautiful reliquary contained the relics of Jesus. Rather awe struck I asked her if she was sure of that for if true, Christianity had just been struck down to nothing more than a nice but false therapeutic method. (You will be glad to know that she checked her notes and discovered that it was actually a relic of the True Cross.)

But now, we are confronted with the actual bodies of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and their son! What a yard sale we are going to have! Everything here will be about as useful as smoking paraphernalia, which has come on its own hard times.

“What do you think about them finding Jesus’ body?” is the greeting that has replaced “Hello” with many people as of late. I think we owe this movie producer an incredible amount of gratitude for doing what two thousand years of doubting Thomas’ could not: exposing the truth.

Forget the witness of the Apostles. Forget what the greatest minds in the history of humanity have contemplated and found true, forget the witness of the saints and the marvels that have been worked through their intercession as testimony to Christ and His mission. Forget that not even a credible whisper of this has been heard in all of history. Our only hope now is that the great Vatican conspiracy, which has all Catholics under its direct power and has mind control over all world leaders and scientist, will find a way to once again conceal this truth and allow the whore of Babylon to continue ministering to those who are hurting and lost in sin, caring for the sick, lonely, and disenfranchised, calling the rich and powerful to repentance and accountability, making education available, standing as a voice for peace in the world, and continue being the greatest contributor to the poor (including any nation) along with promoting art and science (with accountability and ethics). Our evil plan is hanging in the brink!

Or perhaps this is just a really insipid way to promote a movie.

Monday, February 26, 2007


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: "Of course 'academic freedom' is the final refuge in which professors hide when confronted with the absurdity and arragance of their decisions. It is a waisteland totally unmoored from standards, where activity can be justified if it exceeds our 'comfort level' by 'challenging' our preconceptions." - Charlie Crist, Florida Commissioner of Education

About ten years ago, I was riding out to go cross country skiing with my father, not a believer in God or an afterlife, when he turned to me with tears in his eyes and said, "Do you know why I take on life with such vigour? It is because this is all there is and I have to get it in before it is all over." I thought of him, now in a nursing home, when my eye caught this poem. I pray it for him.

Think of-
Stepping on shore and finding it Heaven!
Of taking hold of a hand, and finding it God's hand.
Of breathing a new air, and finding it celestial air.
Of feeling invigorated, and finding it immortality.
Of passing from storm to tempest to an unbroken calm.
Of waking up, and finding it Home.


Does this word bother you? There is something about it that at best feels clumsy and maybe even a bit disturbing. Going out for coffee last night after the great presentation by Colleen Caroll Cambell as mentioned as up and coming below (Feminism, Rising from the Ashes) one of my compatriots posed the question, “Does a new understanding of feminism require a new understanding of . . .” And he had to stop for lack of a corresponding word.

But what the conversation was trying to surface was, “Does a new understanding of what it is to be woman in the modern age require a new understanding of what if is to be man?” Obviously it does. Though the preponderance of the discussion must focus on what it is to be authentically human, for God made all of us in His likeness and image (Genesis 1:26), He also made us male and female (Gen, 1:27). Though equal in all things, we are not the same. Our mere physical make-up radically influences how we experience and relate to the world and to each other.

Adam knew what it was to be human in relation to the animals. But he only knew what it was to be a man in relation to Eve. Certainly, the reverse is also true. But for a man, who comes from a woman’s body, who is largely raised and educated by women, yet whose body sets him apart, the cycle seems to begin with man defining who he is compared to woman. So when the feminine is undervalued he becomes domineering. When the feminine is over valued and a man’s role is seen as minimal or unnecessary, he becomes ineffectual and weak. Neither is healthy for either of the sexes. Accordingly, any reevaluation of what it is to be female will have an equal and opposite thrust in the understanding of what it is to be male. So all considerations must bear in mind not only how it will effect women, but how it will form our men.

A sign that used to hang in my parents room read, “The best gift a father can give his children is to love their mother.” It is also, I believe, the best recipe for raising noble sons. For only then will he see his proper relation to woman and this will naturally lead him to the most healthy understanding what it is to be confidently and authentically a man.


Yesterday, in the Diocese of Cleveland, thousands of persons entering the church gathered at the Cleveland Convention Center for the Rite of Election with Bishop Lennon, an event far too large for the cathedral. Seventeen of these people were from Saint Clare. Pictured here are many of the catechumens and candidates with their godparents and sponsors from all parts of the diocese. These are all the adults who will be brought into full communion with Catholic Church this Easter Vigil. Please say a prayer for them and the people of your own diocese as they continue the final leg of their journey to the Eucharist this Easter!

Sunday, February 25, 2007


Yes, I know, you've seen this a hundred times. But it had to make at least one showing on Sunday Video On Tap. Besides, it celebrates two of the four marks of the Church: catholicity (universality) and oness (unity). Oh! Just enjoy it. You know you want to. Happy Sunday.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


When I come down to join the other priests for breakfast in the morning the first question asked is no longer, “Did the Church make the paper?” It is now, “What are they saying about us today?” The Church makes the news so often that I’ve thought of writing to the paper suggesting that they have a Catholic section to make finding the Catholic Church stories easier.

Of course the stories are almost invariably negative. “Another Happy and Productive Day in Catholic Land,” does not sell. And quite honestly, we deserve some of it and some of it helps keep us honest. And I don’t have a problem if someone wants to debate a Catholic issue. At least they are talking about it. But what really gets my shorts in a bunch is the constant stream of misinformation, exaggerations, and the tendency to only find persons who are opposed to the Church or her teachings to give any kind of comment. How is that fare and unbiased reporting? Answer: It isn’t.

I thought of venting about each of the misleading stories that were printed or aired locally in just the past week but why give the stories any more exposure? In a way, it is a back-handed compliment that the Church is so constantly maligned. If we were unimportant, there would be no reports or people acting so vehemently. So thank you I suppose.

And even if there are some people doing stupid things in the name of the Church, the vast majority of us keep moving along, quietly doing what Christ has called us to do. So instead of hashing the poor reporting over again, here is a nice story about your Church from the last week that you will not have heard about:

An elderly lady died in a nursing home. She was penniless. Her family moved and left no forwarding address. (Did I mention that she was penniless?) Calling hours were held and a notice was placed in the paper, but nobody came. Her funeral, however, was one of the nicest ever held here. Cecil B. DeMille would have been proud.

The pastor had the mass. A member of Gabriel’s Harp, a Christian band that has performed all over the world including various World Youth Days, provided music. A local boy’s Catholic high school Saint Ignatius has a ministry called the Saint Joseph of Arimathea Pallbearer Ministry which provides pallbearers for families that do not have members or friends that can act as such. They made themselves available at both the church and at the graveyard. Classes from our grade school came to pray for her and to act in ministries such as reader, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, and gift bearer. And the members of the local Jesuit community will offer another mass in her name.

That’s cool. The daily, quiet acts of corporal and spiritual acts of charity that go largely unnoticed. Thank you to all of you who do these things too, quietly, unrecognized, maybe even feeling alone in your endeavors. You are not. You are part of a much greater goodness. What you do is important even if no one sees it. God bless you for your ministry.

Friday, February 23, 2007


Today's post is the result of two ideas. The first comes from the notion that you are far more interesting that you think you are. The reason people's lives in books and movies seem so interesting is that they have writers who who cut out all the mundane and unnecessary stuff to a particular storyline (except the sex of course - *sigh* - Okay, I've got it! They're having sex. Can we move along?) I thoroughly believe that something happens to you everyday or nearly everyday that would make a good story if the time were taken to contemplate it or if it could be seen it from the outside. Your life is foreign and interesting to somebody.

The second notion comes from people always asking, "So what do you do as a priest?" The response usually begins with, "What day?" because there isn't an average day in the life of . . .

So last January I tried a little experiment. Every day I would write a short story about what happened the previous day. One to show that something story-worthy happens in average people's lives and two to give an answer to the question, "What a day in the life of a priest like?" What follows is from the first day, January 12th.

Incidentally, the title of this blog entry, "Everybody Calls Me Father" is the title of a best selling book that my first pastor, Fr. Hilkert (RIP) wrote when he was a young priest.


When the phone in the common room rings, it is not good news. This is the emergency line. Someone is dead or someone thinks someone will soon be dead. It only rings when nobody is around. It is the last chance to catch a priest and it rang just in time. I was on my way out to hear first confessions at a neighboring parish.
“Hello Father,” came the voice on the other end of the line, “This is Dunley Funeral home.”
Someone was dead.

There was to be a funeral the next day for a man who had suffered with leukemia for many years. A couple days before I had anointed him while his wife cried. He was barely able to speak or move and she was as sad as if he had already gone and died. “I can’t live without him,” she said. And she didn’t. The family had gone to pick her up for the evening calling hours and found her dead on the floor. She couldn’t live without him.

“Father, could you go to the hospital and comfort the family?” asked the funeral director. I replied “Of course,” as if it was the most natural and comfortable thing to do, but deep down I was sick to think of it. The neighboring parish was called and warned that I would either be late or perhaps absent all together. I put on my coat, and headed for the hospital.

I suppose people expect priests to be brave in these situations, to know what to say and what to do, and indeed I’ve known Godly men who were just so, but that is not the case with me. It was with great trepidation that the emergency room door was opened. What will they expect? How emotional will they be? Will I say or do the right thing?

The hospital staff is exceptionally kind and helpful and show the way to the waiting room with apologetic smiles and concerned brows. Nobody in the room looks familiar and there are a couple of uneasy moments while everyone tries to figure out if we are there for each other. Finally a lady stands and introduces herself as the sister to the person who died. She is crying. Her arms move in such a fashion that I can’t tell if she is simply frustrated or looking for a hug. I put my arm around her shoulder and let her determine if she wants more of a hug or not.

After a few words of condolences we “go to see her.” There is finally someone whom I recognize. She is also the only person not breathing. Great sobs are let out and tears fall like rain. “Why don’t we say some prayers?” That seems to bring some amount of comfort.

“Would anyone like to talk?” I ask thinking that maybe someone would like to speak privately. This is the hardest. This is when questions like “Why?” come up. Even if this question were answerable, it is not answerable here and now. Though theologically convincing and understandable, it makes no sense standing in an emergency room looking at the dead body of the one you love if you’ve not thought about it, prayed about it, believed it, and were ready for it.

“There is someone else you should see Father.” The dead lady’s daughter was in yet another emergency room bed with heart problems. She was given the anointing of the sick. We talked for a bit and then it was time for me to go; the family was turning in on itself to begin communal mourning and while welcome, I was no longer necessary.
A five-minute drive brought me to the neighboring parish where I was originally headed. There were still lines of second graders making their first confessions. Sitting down, a young person came over to me dressed in the finest of clothes and with an excited look. “Bless me father for I have sinned, this is my first confession.” I smiled back and was genuinely happy to be there on this person’s joyous day. Thus was I yanked from despair to joy, from death to new life, and the hand stretched out over the young penitent’s head offering absolution still had the oil from the blessing of the sick on its finger tips.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


Should there be a term limit on the assignment of your pastor to your parish? That is the question put to a little diocesan advisory committee of which I happen to be a member. We will be gathering soon to discuss term limits (six years renewable for another six) and were told to "gather information and opinions," though not exactly told how to go about it. So I turn to you. If you have a thought or an experience concerning this, it would help hearing about it. Feel free to Email it to me. Here is an ARTICLE debating stability and term limits. While an excellent article, it is rather one-sided on the issue so you may want to begin forming an idea before you read it. Thanks!


The chicken says to the sad horse, “Say, why the long face?”

So I walk in to the second grade classroom this past Thursday. Usually they are a lively group to put it mildly. But that day it was absolutely silent. Their little heads were bent over their workbooks and pencils deliberately traced across the pages at a snails pace. I gave my usual chipper, “Good morning second graders!” Slowly they lifted their heads. I was struck at the lack of coloring in their faces and the pools of water in their big eyes. They responded with a mournful, “Good morning Father Valencheck.” *sniff*

“What happened?” I asked the teacher and she motioned me over to the window. “Remember that project we doing for that college study?” she asked, “The one we were written up for in the paper?” “Sure,” I said remembering, “the one where you feed the birds and count how many show up and what kinds they are.” “Yes,” she replied, “and one of their favorites was Mr. Hawk. Unfortunately Mr. Hawk is eating Mr. Sparrow right now.”

Sure enough, it looked as though it were snowing outside. But the flakes were dark. Mr. hawk was vivisecting a sparrow in the tree just outside the window (and you would never imagine how many feathers a tiny little sparrow has!) and worse, when I asked what kind of sparrow it was (for they had been ever so excited to know the proper names of the birds,) they said, “Charlie!”

And that is how they learned at an early age, “Even predator/prey relationships that are destructive for the immediate prey are generally beneficial for both species. (Capra) Thus does God hunt with the hound and run with the hare.” – Gabriel Daly

And how many chances to learn from the Master you have wasted by not knowing how to supernaturalize them?" – St. Josemaria Escriva

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


fem'i-nism, 1 fem'i-nizm; 2 fem'i-nism, n. 1.

Beyond that I do not feel confident to write. Just as we watch the ground break open between factions within the Anglican Church threatening to cause the two movements to part company and go in their respective directions, so does it seem that there will be inevitable breaks in the common ground in feminism.

A woman was telling me of a conversation that she was having with her grandmother earlier this week (if you are reading this, I hope this is a fair reporting of that conversation) in which she stated her rejection of the modern feminist movement. The grandmother was aghast and emphasized how much life was better for women and indeed people in general now because of the work of the feminist movement. But that was countered with the notion that the feminist movement of today bears little resemblance to the movement of her grandmother's day which also focused on and protected the family.

Indeed there has been a shift. For example, consider what an early pioneer of the feminist movement, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, had to say about abortion, "When you consider that women have been treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." Compare that to NOW's (the National Organization of Women) statement. "NOW affirms that reproductive rights are issues of life and death for women, not mere matters of choice. NOW fully supports access to safe and legal abortion, to effective birth control and emergency contraception, to reproductive health services and education for all women. We oppose attempts to restrict these rights through legislation, regulation or Constitutional amendment."

So where does that leave the faithful Catholic who also believes in the advocacy of the political and socioeconomic equality of men and women, the hallmark of the feminist movement? It causes a deepening abyss within feminism leaving many to redefine for themselves what feminism is. Whatever this new definition is, it will grow out of the ashes that we wear today. It begins, to borrow from Sheldon Vanauken, with the realization that this God who made the universe came to live in the world and was killed by the world and the proof of this is His resurrection. And that if this is true, this is simply the only really important truth. For all other supposed truths will come to an end. This one lasts for eternity. And we need to conform our lives to it. In the end what is truly good about feminism will reflect what is good about faith and the meaning of the human person in relation to and relationship with God.

I still will not pretend to know how to finish the above dictionary entry, but Colleen Caroll Cambell is willing to start the ball rolling. She is a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a former White House speechwriter, and author of The New Faithful: Why Young Adults Are Embracing Christian Orthodoxy. (Perhaps next time she could get Dawn Eden to help her with a snazzier title.) She has an international television talk show, "Faith and Culture," on EWTN, writes for a number of publications and speaks to audiences across the Unites States.

This Sunday, February 25th, she will be speaking at St. Mary Church in Hudson at 7:15 on The New Feminism: An Authentic Catholic Vision of Woman. I hope to get there myself if parish duties permit. Perhaps a tectonic shift is taking place and instead of feeling left apart, here will be discovered a new place to stand with feminism.


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds. Lilies that fester smell worse than weeds. - Shakespeare, Sonnet 94

One more poem, this one by Walter Romig, more clever than good but worth a gander:


Nature's daughter, comely miss

Leaned her lips for me to kiss

But refused me, proven weak,

And in scorn she slapped my cheek.

Nature's daughter, not just cruel

Taunt the weakling and the fool

Prove yourself our lover when

we resist you and are men.

Monday, February 19, 2007


A kind soul gave me this book to read with the warning, "You will not like the first two chapters, but keep reading." They were severely wrong. "Will not like" was definitely a severe understatement. In fact everyone I mention this book to says, "Good book, but, OH!, those first two chapters." Last night I was out with a lovely couple who said they gave up half way through the second chapter out of the severe pain of reading it. But as I continue to read, fortunately, mercifully, things are starting to get interesting.

Not giving anything away, here are some thoughts from the author as we head into the great season of lent.

"The best argument for Christianity is Christians: their joy, their certainty, their completeness. But the strongest argument against Christianity is also Christians - when they are sombre and joy-less, when they are self-righteous and smug in complacent consecration, when they are narrow and repressive, then Christianity dies a thousand deaths."

Reminds me of Saint Teresa who said, "Lord, save us from sour-faced saints."

One more outtake:

"If true . . . it was, very simply, the only really important truth in the world. And if untrue it was false. No half way house. . . It is not possible to be 'incidentally a Christian.' The fact of Christianity must be overwhelmingly first or nothing."

I can't think of a worthy thing to add.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


This Sunday's videos may not be Catholic, but they are Catholic friendly and quite clever at that.

Find them at My personal favorite? Tithing.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


The talented Saint Kansas sent this little reality check:
What is this pie chart supposed to represent:

A) Those who are most likely to be taken seriously by the media.
B) Person most likely to be allowed to speak at your local public school.
C) Person most likely to be missed at a 10 year old's birthday party.
D) All of the above.

Humility, humility, and ever more humility.


About a year ago, two of my best priest buddies and I went on retreat at Trinity Retreat House in Larchmont New York which was put on by Fr. Benedict Groeshel of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. Because of parish duties we had to leave early on the last day of the retreat (like 5:oo AM) to get back to Cleveland, but Fr. Benedict said that he wanted to talk to us before we left. So, at 5:00 AM we knocked on the door of his humble dwelling and not only was he up, he was busy writing! He gave us a blessing and an instruction, "You boys need to start writing. You need to start getting the word out."

So we bundled ourselves into the van and headed out in awe until one of us said, "So, what do you suppose he meant?" It was then we realized that hadn't the slightest idea. (And truth be told, I think the comment was mostly directed Markus who is the most articulate and knowledgeable of us and who in fact is now in Rome studying his poor little heart out - Hi Markus - have an espresso on me today.)

Anyway, it did start me writing. Sometimes with success, sometimes not. A couple of successes have been an article on architecture and one on the liturgy. The one on liturgy was reprinted in Scotland and spurred an article by Terry Mattingly which was printed in a number of places.

Another priest whom I am proud to call a friend has also gotten into writing. An excellent article by him appeared in Dappled Things, a place for young (and happy) Catholics to post their thoughts, entitled, "Catholic Education and Masturbation." A more recent article by him can be found in First Things.

If you are Catholic, HAPPY, and a person of prayer, consider getting the pen out (or the keyboard.) Help get the good message of faith out. Write an article, a letter to the editor, a blog entry or at least journal! Don't be alarmed if it is not printed or read (I think barely a soul reads this blog) for if nothing else, it sends a message out to those managing such things that they have a readership that thinks a certain way and it organizes your thoughts, causes you to contemplate so when it comes time for you to speak out, you have something from which do draw. So get on it! Start today!

Friday, February 16, 2007


I've been told that these hands would be useful for many things. The most interesting was how useful these long fingers would be for picking pockets. The most popular was "those are piano playing hands." And then there were all the sports that they would be good for, though the rest of me was not.
Over the years they have held mop handles and hammers, telephones, textbooks and the hands of a sweetheart. They've been abused quite badly too. You can't make it out in this picture, but on the knuckle of each index finger there is a scar. One came from trying to quickly build a railing on the escape stairs on a theater set of a play called "Ghost". Working too quickly and not paying attention I drove a sixteen penny nail through my knuckle. On the other hand where marks from some long gone stitches are still visible is a scar caused by cutting luminaries out of milk jugs. The carpet knife slipped and ran up my finger.
You see? They are extremely ordinary hands. But some find them beautiful. Sometimes I find myself surprised by it and then I remember the poem, "The beautiful hands of the priest" and then I see their beauty, not because they are mine, but because Christ uses them in the unique vocation of the priesthood.
The importance of these hands was driven home to me one day by Christopher West of Theology of the Body fame. He came to the Diocese of Cleveland to give a talk and by mere chance I found myself alone with him for a minute and was able to tell him how much I appreciated his ministry. He was very gracious and then asked for my blessing which I gave. But after I was finished he took my hands which were hovering above him and pulled them down so that they touched his head. "Father," he said, "people need to feel the touch of their Father." Even thinking about that today I get a little choked up. What these ordinary, long, scared, hairy hands can do! And we've not even begun to mention touching Christ in the celebration of the mass!
You do not need extraordinary hands to be a priest. Your hands will do. Pray about a vocation to the priesthood. But whatever your vocation is to be, allow Christ to work through your hands too.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Peter gets what I always thought was a raw deal. Christ calls him Satan simply because Peter seemed to care about His well being in trying to save Him from his future crucifixion (Mark 8:27-33). But it is all clarified in Christ's statement, "You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do." In other words, you are missing out on the big picture Peter. Instead of preserving Christ's mission you looked to preserve Christ and, oddly enough, to preserve Christ the way in which you want Him would be to lose Him.
So it is with the Church. An excellent discussion on The Curt Jester (Why Do We Need These Solutions Now) looks at those who say that the Church must be preserved at all costs. All that needs to be done, say some, is to get in line with the prevailing culture (read: married and women clergy, abandoning teaching on pre-marital sex, divorce and marriage, abortion, contraception and the usual host of other issues.) Yet our goal should not be to preserve the Church. The faith is not here to preserve the Church, the Church is here to preserve the faith. If we corrupt the faith to preserve the Church, we lose the need and meaning of the Catholic Church. Yet, if we preserve the faith, the Church will survive. It may not be in the way that we want it, but keeping it the way we want it is thinking like human beings do. We need to think like God does and that means preserving the faith which He gave us above all things.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Not since Vatican II when it was inadvertently thought that Saint Christopher was removed from the official list of saints leaving Catholic religious goods stores with tons of St. Christopher medals, car plaques, and holy cards has there been such a strong movement to strip a soul thought to be enjoying the glories of heaven from the ranks of sainthood.
Susan Paynter of says, "And since, in these times, a day without outrage is like a day without orange juice, I feel free to demand an answer to this question: When did God's country lose the war on this holiday, too? When did the forces of commercialism, hedonism and secularism wrench the saintliness of Feb. 14 from Cupid's warm, fat fist? And where is the evangelical outcry from Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and the other Christian soldiers who, only two months ago, fought so valiantly to put the Christ back in Christmas?"
And so I declare from the rooftops, "Put the Saint back in to Saint Valentine's Day!" and so I wish you a very happy Saint Valentine's Day!
Actually, this is me celebrating Saints Cyril and Methodius Day. In the snow. In single digit weather. A much more fun day for a celibate guy to celebrate on February 14th I'd say.

Monday, February 12, 2007


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: The fact that 90% of the world does X is only binding on conformists. - Hiedegger


A couple came into my office today to get married and I asked as I usually do how they met, courted, and eventually became engaged. It was a story that was always enjoyable hearing my parents tell of their own meeting. Mom worked behind the soda fountain and Dad was just home from the war in full uniform. They kept an eye on each other from afar until her brother, my Uncle Johnny, asked my Dad to join him, his date and my mother out to a dance. And, as Christopher West is fond of pointing out, the kids rhyme has it correct, "First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage."
So it seems with this couple that came in today. Not only will they have good memories and a clear conscience, but what a great story they will have to pass on their children. I can't imagine having the story, "We got drunk, we hooked up, and the next thing we knew we had to get married. But really! It turned out Okay! And we are happy! Really!"


"Is it even possible to write a book for men on how to live chastely?" This discussion was held after Dawn Eden spoke at the diocesan seminaries here in Cleveland. Dawn admitted that a large portion of her audience tends to be men who are genuinely interested in living chaste lives. And so the question is inevitably, "Why isn't there something like this out there for men?" Well, of course there is not the least of which is Christopher West's "Winning the Battle for Sexual Purity." I highly recommend this resource. But while believing that it is helpful, even greatly so, and that it is coming from a man who struggled, gained control, and written to men to help follow him (in much the same way that Dawn Eden's book "The Thrill of the Chaste" was written for women) perhaps it is not the most effective of means.
Maybe the reason that Dawn's talk draws so much male attention is that besides a strong, older, male role model that can take you down a peg if necessary (read: DAD, older brother, father figure who is present and morally fit) the other strong influence for men is women who demand to be treated with respect, integrity, and who desire to love chastely until marriage. No, men are not beasts who are always on the prowl and will take it whenever and wherever it is offered, and it is not woman's fault if a man should end up being unchaste with her, BUT I do think - IN VERY GENERAL TERMS - that men will rise to the level that is expected of them. And, if in general women think that they must be unchaste with a man in order to be loved, then men will in general oblige the experiment.
A challenge to some women out there: Write! Perhaps what we need is for you to write a book or an article to men about protecting the integrity, chastity, and virtue of the woman he says he loves: treating with honor, respect, and deference the one who may not only be his life partner, but whom he chooses to be the mother of his children.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


I work on Sundays so thought perhaps on Sundays I just would share a favorite video found during the week.

Also Leif, who was kind enough to stop by and leave a message, left this little dittle about the picture in the post below. Actually the first part was a bit racy though it made me laugh, but the second stanza is printed because "Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, there will always be laughter and good wine." - H. Belloc - sort of.

But whether Maggie's pony,

Horse or mule,

You're right;

We shouldn't bury

our face in stool!

A little ditty of my own from my seminary days:

"What a preconceived notion of life you carry,"

said the talking dog to the man.

And he look at the dog with shock and surprise,

for he'd not a thing in his hand.

A blessed and restful Sunday to you.


So yesterday I'm trolling about in my priest mobile listening to NPR when lo!, a program came on about religion in which the Catholic Church was prominently featured. It was, of course, a show that was challenging Catholic teaching and Tradition which is fine, we are not so sensitive as to shy from discussion.

HOWEVER, it seems a good deal of effort was put into finding prominent persons withing the Great Diocese of Cleveland that would not support nor well represent Catholic teaching on the matter. In addition to that, the moderator of the discussion made an occasional dig at the Church. Most interesting was that after she made the dig, she would cut off all discussion on the matter. For example, she would say quite out of the blue, (paraphrased - remember I was riding in my car and have to depend on my memory) "Of course the Catholic Church abandoned Jews during World War Two, but that's a discussion for another show."

If we cannot talk about it, why even mention it all? Did it add to the conversation in any constructive way? No.

Remember friends that at your baptism after the water was poured and the words of baptism were said, Sacred Chrism was traced in the form of a cross on the crown of your head and Christ enrolled you into His three fold office of priest, prophet, and king. These are not just nice titles and they are not a right, but a responsibility. As king you have the duty to "infuse the Christian spirit into the mentality and mores, laws and structures of the communities in which you live." (ccc 2105) If we say nothing, then we give tacit approval to such remarks and wonder why people feel so free to say things about Catholics in way they would never dream about saying them about almost any other group of people without being fired. Please don't be like Roxie, the dog here pictured with Maggie, my horse.
Let people know what you think, that you are Catholic, and you don't appreciate being put down constantly. We don't have to be nasty. Don't become what we hate. Be kind. But make your point known. Holiness has always taken long lasting roots not through committees, programs, or initiatives, but by individuals leading holy lives. Live your priestly, prophetic, and kingly role and help bring healing to our community.
If you speak out on anything, I'd appreciate hearing how it went. If I hear back from latest venture at such, I'll share it with you via this blog.
God bless.

Friday, February 9, 2007


Greetings and welcome to Adam's Ale. A big thank you and a first toast of Adam's Ale goes out to Dawn Eden and Brett (aka Saint Kansas) who helped and encouraged me to stop just thinking about opening a blog and actually do it.

If you are unfamiliar with Dawn, she is an incredibly spiritual and kind person and the author of The Thrill of the Chaste and Saint Kansas is an awesomely talented musician who did the instrumentals and vocal on her video Chastity Rome-Chick Blues.

This past week we met up in Ohio to bring the bring the hope and joy of her message to the good people of the great Diocese of Cleveland. A toast of Adam's Ale to the brave souls who turned out despite the sub-zero winds blowing off of Lake Erie. It shows how seriously you take your faith that while most of north east Ohio was shut down and shivering Clevelanders huddled around fire places and heating ducts you turned out to be challenged and supported in your faith. This bodes well for the future of Catholic life here!

A quick note about Adam's Ale. Having every other name rejected as having been taken already I resorted to perusing Latin dictionaries and indexes of books looking for something interesting. Adam's Ale, as it turns out, is water: the only drink available in the Garden of Eden. Throughout Scripture water is the source of purification and sanctification and perhaps through this blog I can share some of that joy of living through Adam's Ale with anyone who cares to pop by. (I also like the reference to Eden since Dawn helped this Luddite figure out how to put this together.) A prayer is going out tonight to you, whoever you may be, that will be joining me in the future.