Thursday, May 31, 2007


Can you imagine being Bishop Lennon right now? I trust he is doing what he believes in his heart what is best for the Diocese and for the faith. But having good intentions does not mean that everyone will cut you slack. There is a storm a brewin’ in some circles and there is no doubt that they intend to pour burning hot coals on our shepherd’s head.

It would be nice to have Jesus Christ Himself come and be our bishop for a little spell. He could sit and listen patiently to each and every person, not take attacks personally, not let the strain wear him down, and always have the right thing to say. But we have a man named Lennon. A good man, but a man none-the-less and as such he will have imperfections not the least of which is, even after in depth consultation with all kinds of experts and people across the diocese, he cannot be certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is doing the exact right thing. Jesus had that assurance, but Bishop Lennon can only do what he thinks is best and having everyone who is interested in talking to him second guessing him must be a terrible strain. H/t to Carol for, in her way, pointing this out yesterday.

Bearing this in mind, Gypsy and Winnipeg Catholic broached the subject of how to go about speaking to a priest about something that he is doing that may not be right. With some priests this is easy. For some men, there will never be a right time. They will take offense no matter how delicately you couch the subject. Either way, you have both a right and sometimes an obligation to make your concerns known. Knowing that there are no guarantees, here are some suggestions that I recommend for engaging a priest in such a case.

Know the importance of your concern. Is your concern something along the lines of a matter of validity of the sacraments or more having to do with personal tastes? For (a silly) example, is the priest using beer instead of wine at the mass? That is a hill worth dying on. If he wearing green clericals instead of black and you make a huge brouhaha of it you will find little meaningful support and your future real concerns, as legitimate as they may be, will have lost their impact.

Make sure that your concern is true for where you are. For example, kneeling after the Agnus Dei in the United States is up to the discretion of the local bishop. The former bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland has mandated that we stand and many a good priest were viciously attacked for being obedient servants to the bishop by well meaning persons who not only did not know of the ruling, but refused to believe it when they were informed. I was once grilled horribly for having a communal penance service. The person who accosted and threatened me thought we were having general absolution, a practice forbidden in the diocese. No explanation was satisfactory. I finally gave him the number of the bishop and told him to tell on me.

Everybody wants their priest to act as a good spiritual father of the parish family. That desire cuts both ways. A good friend of mine stopped in to talk about his kids whom he dearly loves. “But Father, all they are doing now is yelling and fighting, and getting sick. They are driving me crazy!” Is the first time your pastor really hears from you going to be when you have a complaint? As a member of the parish family has he heard from you about what you are willing to do in the parish? “Father, do you need help?” This is welcome news especially for things outside of mass. Bringing communion to the sick, teaching CCD, offering to head up something are ways not only to be involved in your parish but a way to build up trust between you and your pastor and allow the free flow of ideas both ways.

Be careful not to ambush. I’ve seen it all too often. Just stepping off of the altar is a bad time to do anything but shake hands and offer pleasantries. There may be a couple of hundred other people to greet or the next sacrament to get ready for. Also, if you have something meaningful and difficult to talk about it is not a good idea to “catch” your priest as he is out on a friendly errand, sitting at the table in a restaurant, or “not doing anything” when he is in church praying. If you don't have the kind of relationship in which you spend time together and can just talk, make an appointment.

The past liturgist for this diocese was fond of reminding us, “Nobody wakes up in the morning planning to destroy the Roman Rite.” Chances are, even if something is clearly against liturgical law or what have you, the priest (hopefully) has what he believes to be the good of the parish in mind. He may use inclusive language because he feels he can reach more people and bring them closer to Christ by doing so. He may use some aspects of an older rite for funerals because he feels that is what his people know, expect, and are comfortable with. This is not to excuse such actions, but to point out that they are not being done in a nefarious manner. This should be kept in mind when approaching a pastor.

Be sincere in your desire to understand why it is he chooses do something that you find objectionable. You would wish to be heard and understood in a disagreement even if you don’t prevail. At least then you feel respected. Priests are no different.

Understand that there are some things that take place that he also may be uncomfortable with and does not wish to do. Parochial vicars may be under orders to do something at mass. As a good churchman he might keep his mouth shut and do it knowing some day he too will be a pastor and then can do things the (hopefully) right way. He may not be at liberty to make his grievances know to you.

Of course, politeness, courtesy, and friendliness go a long way. Many a position has been held just as a grudge against an angry accusation. Is this right? No. That is why we all need Jesus to save us from our sins.

Lastly, know there are guys just barely holding it together. There are men in charge of parishes much larger than they are qualified for, but there is no one to take their place. Sometimes guys in small parishes are there because they need a more limited ministry in order to function well and being snarky may be their way of coping with life. The snarkier usually mean the more fragile.

Pray for priests. They need it. They need you as you need them. Know that it can take as long for them to come around and warm up to a new idea or a new way of doing things as it can be for the average parishioner. We are a family. A darn big one. And large families are difficult to manage and take great care and sacrifice on everybody’s part.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


It is in the news already. Pastors throughout the Diocese of Cleveland have received a letter today (Wednesday) from the bishop concerning what needs to be done through the Vibrant Parish Life initiative to keep the diocese running smoothly and make the sacraments available to the Catholics of the eight county region. Rumors are already flying. Who or what will close? What will any particular parish have to do? Who will have less and who will have more priests? Will we be affected at all? On the short term, not everyone will be happy. People may not like what is asked of them to do. Pastors will not like having to face his people and say, “Here is what we need to do.” I’m sure the bishop, though a strong man, will have to bear the brunt of many complaints and it will not be pleasant for him. Probably the least effected will be parochial vicars as we are only assigned to a particular parish for four years and then we move on. We will not have to deal with the long-term anguish.

It would be surprising if you could find a pastor in the diocese who does not know that drastic steps need to be taken. Northeast Ohio has lost many residents. Included in that drop of persons is the Catholic community. We are roughly 100,000 persons smaller than we were at our peak yet we run the diocese with parishes and services as if we were still considerably larger than we are and we are straining. It is also known that the Catholics who remain do not live where they used to. Not immune to suburban sprawl they headed out to what was a couple of decades (or months) ago farmland now overlaid with cement streets, tiny trees, matching mailboxes, and houses that have fancy facades and three sides wrapped in aluminum siding.

Another approaching tragedy will be the closing of the Ford plants in the area. Charities and arts will become more cut throat as the well of funds continues to dry up. It will undoubtedly mean the out migration of more people from the Cleveland area, which means less people in the pew and certainly less money in the collection basket for all religious organizations.

Of course then there is the priest shortage. And in theory we can sit around and say, “Yes! Something needs to be done. Let’s do it!” But deep down we mean, “But we are fine. Leave us alone. Fix them”

Intellectually we are all great churchmen, but when floodwaters of change hit our doorsteps, we can lose courage. We all know the teaching that Church doesn't mean a building, but people. The faith is not contained in bricks and mortar; it is housed in flesh and blood. But for good or evil, our buildings have become powerful symbols. Anyone who has tried to move a statue or change the configuration of the sanctuary furniture knows that the very wrath of God can be visited upon your head. We become very attached. I know.

My home parish was suppressed along with another ethnic parish and a new community arose. A loyal churchman I took it in stride. Then Saturday I happened across some pictures on the Internet of the old building now a “Salt and Light” ministry. It took my breath away. All kinds of emotions and memories came rushing back. There is the choir loft in which I spent most of my time as a youngster as almost everyone I was related too sang in the choir. I would lean over the wooden railing and watch the people below.

When I wasn’t looking out from the loft I sat on the end of the organ bench next to Mrs. Bailey. Mom and Dad were married here. I made my First Holy Communion and had just started serving before we moved to the new modern building down the road. I still dream at night about that old church rather regularly.

My sister and I went for a walk on Memorial Day that took us around the old church. It still pulls at my heartstrings. I think of all the people, all the things we did there, the traditions, the music, the sacraments, the awesome respect in which we held the building that housed the Blessed Sacrament, how it was kept immaculately clean by volunteers at the parish. The stories that were handed on about past generations largely lost now because we are no longer in the places that happen to remind us, “Hey, do remember when . . .”

Now, nobody is going to wake tomorrow with news that they need to start looking for a new parish (at least think,) but things are going to start happening. There will be closings. Perhpas as many as 23. Some people will be offering thanksgiving and others will start mourning. And we are all in this boat together from the babe in arms to the bishop himself. I assure you he would much rather keep every parish open, subsidize them, and give them more priest and nuns to staff the place than they need. But he can’t. This is a solution. At some point we have to stop debating and do something. Our bishop is calling us to this.

Everyone knows that it is going to hard for some. Our symbols are both mightily powerful and important. Any reader of this blog knows they would be preaching to the choir here about the beauty of symbols and the influence that they have to us tactile beings. But in the end, they are just symbols. Not so the Blessed Sacrament, not so our faith, not so even the Church. It is a heart-wrenching lesson. But we must keep our hearts and minds on truth, what is real, what is of most supreme value. Keep your eyes fixed on that, nothing else, even if you are one of those chosen to mourn.


This makes me so sad.

A friend of mine has had his life course set over the weekend. Actually I could write this about any number of people I know. They are talented, spookily intelligent, well spoken, healthy, good looking, have engaging personalities, have many opportunities available to them, but they did not engage life and take advantage of their outrageous assets. Afraid to commit to anything, they pee (I so wanted to use a harsher word) away their treasure like a gambler who thinks there will always be more money to replace that which he has lost.

Perhaps you try to say something. If you say too much you are a nag. If you say anything less you are not heard. This must be part of the frustration of being a parent; seeing one that you love making horrible decisions and not being able to do a darn thing about it.

This friend fell prey to the unfaithful promises of the condom. Continually leaving all of his life’s options open, life chose for him. And it is a sad and difficult situation. But it is his now for better or for worse. Thank God that when push comes to shove he is a stand up guy.

Another friend was engaging in a different sort of risky behavior and almost lost health, job, wife, and kids. He was lucky and escaped his train wreck with only relatively minor scrapes and bruises. This time.

I don’t believe there is a Catholic vocation crisis. There is a crisis of nerve. A crisis in commitment. If it were only about Catholic vocations, other denominations would not be feeling the pinch either. Marriages would not fail at a 50% rate. Young people would not be choosing to just skip exchanging vows altogether.

We were not put here to watch T.V. reruns and wait till life comes and slaps us in the face. We were given gifts and talents to take life by the reigns and do something with it. You might get bucked, but if you get bucked at least it will be while trying to do something great, not sitting on the couch eating chips or engaging is some activity that causes people to wonder about your lack of common sense.

To have an idea about that which you believe, to have something to strive for, to have direction, to give your capacities use, to give your potential meaning, this is why you are here. You have a soul, a mind, and a body. You have been freed from sin and death, endowed with gifts of the Holy Spirit. Don’t let them rot away.

And if you have already found yourself in the middle of train-wreck, make it the most spectacular train-wreck ever. Do not be content to lay on the tracks thinking, “Oh well,” but climb to the top of the destruction and drag along as many survivors as you can. Make people look at you in awe and dare them not to know that you accomplished this with the gifts that God gave you.

Who dares nothing need hope for nothing.” Schiller Don Carlos

He who dares magnificently can expect magnificent rewards.”

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: "(La Mannais became convinced that Christianity was itself true democracy; it alone recognized the equality of all souls."

QUOTE II - "It was an easy trick to turn and not for the last time, the refashioning of Christ into the modern, sophisticated prejudice's, a reduction to convenience and tacit dismissal."

The above two from Thomas Nevin's, "Therese of Lisieux."


LETS GET FIRED UP! Or not. Whatever. David Brooks writes this in last Friday's N Y Times about this trend among Catholics in America;

"Always try to be the least believing member of one of the most observant sects. Participate in organized religion, but be a friendly dissident inside. Ensconce yourself in traditional moral practice, but champion piecemeal modernization. Submit to the wisdom of the ages, but with one eye open."

Perhaps we could name it, "Limited Cafeterianism."

I was reading "BUtterfield 8" as a summer read. It is considered a "masterpiece of American fiction." It is not what you would call inspirational reading, but often little gems of truth can be found anywhere. Here is a little gem from "B 8";

"On the other hand Eddie liked absolute faithfulness in a wife, not so much because his own mother practiced it, but because as a result of her practicing it she became finally a much better person in his eyes than his father. The years of being constant were a lot like years of careful saving, compared to years of being a spendthrift. It was just that it was easier to be a spendthrift than to save. Of course sometimes you save for nothing better than a bank crash, but even though you lost everything that was in the bank, you still had something around the eyes, something in the chin, that showed you had been a saver. Sometimes he would say to himself; "Yes, but your mother was pretty stupid." All right, what if she was? She had kept her promise, which was more than his father had done. . . . Maybe it all did come down to the vale of a promise. You gave your word that you would not sleep with another woman; in either case it was a promise, and if you couldn't depend on a promise then nothing was any good."

The Diocese of Cleveland E-Newsletter wants Catholic War Veterans to know about this site.

"WHERE ARE YOU GOING?" This is a day long retreat designed to help single, Catholic adults living in the Cleveland area explore and learn more about the priesthood and consecrated religious life. It will be held at the Center for Pastoral Leadership on June 16, 2007. For more information you can contact my classmate, Fr. Michael Gurnick at

Monday, May 28, 2007


His Holiness Pope Benedict XIV says,


Can you stand just two more pictures of new Cat-o'-licks?



No greater love is there than this; that you lay down your life your friends.

Interesting site, "How to Observe Memorial Day." I would add go to mass and pray for our service men and women and for peace between nations and peoples.

Be safe, let us celebrate in keeping our Christian dignity, remember a veteran, pray for those who are risking their lives in the armed forces.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


Happy Pentecost!


Paul sent this over to Adam's Ale. It is an article well worth reading from Yahoo! news.

Did you ever want to know what different people are celebrating on this (or any other day) of the year? Or what group was having national (you-name-it) week, or national (whatever) awareness month? This site will tell you!

Need a little spiritual reading for Pentecost Sunday? Look here.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


Some more meandering thoughts over a busy weekend.
At the University of Akron there was a sociology professor who taught me a thing or two about life. One of the most helpful things he taught was that “class” was a state of mind, not a monetary designation. Someone can be filthy rich, but be a terribly low class person. Conversely another could be dirt poor and have that class and dignity that we like to attribute to royalty.

When imagining being happier, so many people begin with the idea of having more money. I won’t argue that a certain amount of it sure makes life easier, but it does not necessary have much of a correlation with happiness. The richest person in the world is not the one with the most stuff. Wealth is relative. The wealthiest people in the world are those who are satisfied with what they have.

One of my sisters is like that. It drives me nuts. She doesn’t want or need anything. In fact, she wants less than what she has. As gracious as she may be, it makes birthdays and Christmas a real pain trying to find a perfect gift for her. She is rich beyond all accounting.

These wealthy people cannot be bribed. It is difficult to tempt them. What more could you give them? If you accidentally break something that belongs to them they do not get upset. They say, “Oh well,” and move along. My Mom was famous for this. If she lost something, even something she particularly liked she would simply say, “I hope whoever finds it needs it more than did,” and happily go on with life.

Catholics, we are so rich. You have more wealth than you even know what to do with. You were baptized into the Body of Christ and made priests, prophets, and kings. At your confirmation you received the Holy Spirit and empowered as a soldier of Christ. This weekend your birthday is being celebrated along with over one billion of your closest friends. If you have your soul set for heaven, you have been successful in this life even if you achieve nothing else.

Pentecost is a time to celebrate this great fortune. Being satisfied and celebrating it is in itself an act of gratitude to God. Why not celebrate by doing something outrageously Catholic this weekend. Make it a challenge.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


It is a busy weekend so there will be just quick meandering thoughts over the next couple of days.

This weekend is Pentecost and time to count your blessings, all fourteen of them; seven gifts and seven fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Seven is a cool number. There are seven sacraments, seven deadly sins, seven virtues, and seven joys and seven sorrows of Mary.

Christ commands us to forgive not seven times, but 70 times seven times. He does not mean 490 times but perfectly. Seven is a perfection number, a number of completion. Ten symbolically is a commandment number (as in the ten commandments.) So Jesus takes a perfection number, multiplies it by a commandment number and multiplies it by perfection again. Translated Jesus is asked, “Shall we forgive perfectly?” and He replies, “I mean seriously perfectly.” (Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.) This still holds even for our horrible new translation which simply states “77 times.”

The Catholic Source Book asks, “Why seven? A solar year, and a lunar month, and a twenty-four hour day are naturals, but a seven-day week is a supernatural. Seven is holy. Seven is magic. Seven days make one week. This was determined even by the author of Genesis – or God Himself – who created the world, and rested from it on the seventh day, or one ‘week.’ So this seven-day cycle from the beginning was religious. The Romans’ week was also seven days, naming them as they did after the heavenly bodies of the sun, the moon, and the planets (five of which they knew). Seven . . . one weeks worth of days.”

There are seven arch angels, St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael, Uriel, Jophiel, Chamael, Zadkiel, and Jophkiel.

There are seven traditional names of God; El, Elohim, Adonai, Yahweh, Ehyeh-asher-Ehyeh, El Shaddai, Zebaot.

There is (very unofficially) a seven tiered hierarchy of beatitude in heaven as in, “I am in seventh heaven!”
Traditionally when the bishop comes to visit, there should be seven candles on the altar.

There are the last seven words of Jesus, Seven sign from St. John, Scriptures record Mary speaking seven times, in Revelation Seven spirits before the throne of God, seven candlesticks, stars, trumpets and seals on the Book of Life, every seventh day is the Sabbath, after seven weeks is a jubilee day (the fiftieth day), every seventh year a sabbatical year, every seventh sabbatical year is followed by a Jubilee year (fiftieth year).

It was also the most difficult of the times tables for me to learn as a kid.

This is all either really significant or it means absolutely nothing. Either way, it is still really cool.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Adoro tagged me for a meme. She said that you cannot consider yourself a real blogger until this has happened. So I will give it a shot. (Where does the word meme come from? And for that matter, whence cometh the word blog? My spell checker does not like it.)

1. What do you hope to do with your blog?

It is hoped that Adam’s Ale is a place where people who are at least relatively happy and grateful about being Catholic can come and find some insight and encouragement for living the life Christ calls us to in His Church (though from time to time some ranting goes on.)

2. Are you a spiritual person?

“Spirituality” is word that has been abused almost as horridly as the word “love.” Though you will find any number of dictionary entries and persons who have absconded with term that will say otherwise, the word was coined by the (Catholic) Church to denote life in the Spirit (that is, the Holy Sprit.) Being a spiritual person then means receiving the aid of the Consoler in following Christ and living in His Church so that we might share the Kingdom with Him forever. In the literal sense then there is no such thing as a “Buddhist Spirituality" or a "Spirituality of Golf" or what have you. It is equally a misnomer to say that “I am spiritual person but not religious” as to live a life in the Spirit is to be led closer to the heart of Christ and His Church. So in this sense I would say that yes, I am a spiritual person.

3. If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want to have with you?

First and foremost a large trunk filled with very good books. Equally in importance would be a fully stocked mass kit (which would also provide me with bread and wine!) Then coffee. If you are feeling generous after that I would like a tooth brush, a change of clothes, some tools, a flare gun, and food. Good food. Really good food.

4. What is you favorite childhood memory?

This is my favorite only because it still makes me laugh every time I think of it. When I was still very little and our family was vacationing somewhere out west we stopped and visited a zoo. Did you know that when an anteater (I’m almost positive it was an anteater, but it was a long time ago) relieves itself it does so in a projectile fashion? I do. I was standing at quite a distance as my sister read the warning plaque next to the cage. “Warning: When the animal lifts its hind leg . . .” Very kindly she called over to me. I turned and to this day can describe in detail what the very end of a stream of water looks like a moment before it hits you squarely in the face.

5. Are these your first (tagging) memes?

Yes, this one was the first though Rob got me what seemed like moments later. His was easier so his was answered first though I would like to change one answer from his under “Three Books Everyone Should Read." Add, “How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization” by Thomas E. Woods Jr., PhD. Everyone has been forced to read about the Church’s faults and in what ways she is lacking. Here is a look at what she did that was positive which far, far outweighs the negative. The book is easy to read and concise. I refuse to say which of the other books I would knock off the list.


There is a guest blogger today. You may remember Bridget of the Sisters of Life who was in the MTV video reported here recently, she was in town for a week to visit her family. This June she will be taking on the habit as a novice. While she was in town she graciously gave some of her prescious time to visit with me and jumped at the chance to say a couple of words to you via Adam's Ale. If you have any comments for her, I will copy them and send them in the mail (as the sisters do not have an internet connection!)

Here is her letter to you:

Just a year ago, I was sitting in my spiritual director’s office. I was in the depths of discernment, and when I say depths I mean deep dark places of confusion, uncertainty and doubt. If you have ever discerned any vocation or even asked God what His will is for something, I’m sure you have been in a similar place. (Aside: God wants us to trust Him totally because that is from where our greatest joy will come as He allows us to be emptied of everything so that He is all we have to cling to, as we realize His steadfast love and mercy). I had already applied to the Sisters of Life, and was awaiting a response from the Sisters. This particular day I was pouring out all the reasons I couldn’t be a Sister…

Giving up my dream of being a doctor, missing my family, not playing volleyball, not being around to watch my brother and sister grow up, not being around as my nephew grows up, being afraid of a forever commitment, asking my family to sacrifice as I go, not being present to my friends etc…

After listening intently to the list, a list he had heard many times from me, my Spiritual director simply and matter of factly asked… “ Is He worth it?”

Is He worth it? Is Christ who was calling me to Himself worth it? Is He worth the sacrifice of family and friends? Is He who came to us in a stable worth my stepping out into the unknown and unheard of? Is He who was stripped of His clothes worth my putting on blue and white forever? Is He who cared so little about money that He gave the money bag to Judas worth me renouncing all personal ownership and making a vow of poverty? Is He who was nailed to the Cross for me worth my nailing my heart to the Cross with His? Is He who gave me life worth my giving my life back to Him? Is He who called the children to Himself worth giving up marriage and bearing my own children? Is He worth it? It is a simple question and requires a simple answer with astronomical implications.

The truth is, He IS worth it. He who is Love Himself came to us, to become one with us. He came to us so that our humanity might be lifted up into his divinity, both now here on earth and eternally. He who knew more deeply the pain the pain of separation from His heavenly Father and His dear Mother, He who knew He was calling His mother to a pierced heart, called Her anyway. And He exalted Her also. He who is love Himself, who pours Himself out to us continuously through the Eucharist. He who humbles Himself to come into our Hearts at every Mass, will bring us the greatest peace and joy when we surrender our hearts to His will and His Love. He will never be out done in generosity and so when we give our Hearts He will give us 100 fold in return. Mt 19:29

After being with the Sisters of Life for nine months and in preparing to enter the novitiate, I have come to know beyond the theoretical, through the intimate encounter with Christ who is my love and the source of all I am, that when I fall into His arms, despite the pain of sacrifice, He will guide me and lead me and take care of all my loved ones. He will shower His grace into my heart and bring me joy and peace than I could have never imagined. We were worth His dying, we were worth His thinking us into existence. He who is the omnipotent, ruler of the universe and intimately gentle lover of our souls is worth all we can give to Him.

Monday, May 21, 2007


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND – “I was beginning to understand how easy it is to be a heretic. One had only to say something heretical, which was easy to do when one knew little about the Traditions of the Church and the teachings of the Magisterium.” Fr. Jay Longacre

QUOTE II – “Our world will not die as a result of the bomb, as the papers say, it will die of laughter, of banality, of making a joke of everything, and a lousy joke at that.” – Carlos Ruiz Zaton


Rob over at Back to Catholicism sent this list of questions along to see what books grace my bookshelves.


1. “Fire Within” by Thomas Dubay, S.M. – Every time I get a little off spiritually I start reading this book again on the spirituality of St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross. My copy has twelve bookmarks and underlining or highlighting on almost every page.

2. “Violence Unveiled” by Gil Baily – This book will give you a whole different insight to the goings on in our times. Even if you do not buy the whole book it will make you think twice about the understanding why things are they way they are.

3. “The Problem of Pain” by C.S. Lewis – It is sad that people only really start taking this question seriously when they hit a hard patch in life. Unfortunately it is almost too late at that point because understanding it or at least accepting it has a lot to do with being in a relationship with Jesus Christ. This book will help.


1. “Ivanhoe” by Sir Walter Scott – This was the first novel I read on my own. I picked it because my grandpa taught himself a lot of the English language by reading this book and I can see why he chose it. It snagged my interests in reading classical literature ever since.

2. “The Seville Communion” by Alturo Perez-Reverte – I read this book on the plane on my first visit to Rome. It was the perfect companion. It since made its way throughout the family reading circle and has been well appreciated by all.

3. Gads, it’s hard limiting it to just one more. I’ll change my mind a thousand times. There are so many fighting for this position! So perhaps I will wimp out and just give you a fun summer read that I loved and has also made its rounds of the family but will eventually fade off into book oblivion. It’s good for a laugh though I do not like their ideas on architecture. “Rococo” by Adriana Trigiani.


1. You’ve just gotta read Shakespeare.

2. Pope Benedict is just awesome. He is readable, practical, and to the point.

3. Dickens, because I love his works, they’ll pull you in and get you excited about classical reading, and I haven’t seen him on anybody else’s list yet.


The problem with this list begins with its great length and the fact that if I hate the book, I stop reading it, banish it from my thoughts and then send it to my sisters with a note that reads, “This is a horrible book, don’t read it.” Interestingly enough there was a book on this list (and see, I can’t even remember the title) that was by the same author as one of my must read books. When I go home and see the pile of books marked “discard” (which we never, ever do) maybe I’ll post them. This should do for now.

Thanks Rob – Adoro, I’m still working on yours!

My sister's cat just had kittens. Here are some pictures:

Here is a picture of a dandylion reflecting a red light that caught my eye on a bike ride the other night.

A blessed day to all!


Saint Thomas Aquinas recommended the via media, the middle way. Blessed Columba Marmion* said, “Be not the first by whom the new is tried, nor yet be the last to lay the old aside.” A good priest friend recommended to me the other day that I would better serve my career if I became more middle-of-the-road. This unnerved me until I realized that I don’t have a career.

But exactly what, in the faith life, is the middle of the road? In these confusing times it seems as though the road is completely covered with snow and finding the middle is rather difficult. Most people do think they are standing directly on or pretty darn close to the middle of the road and so the heart of the Church. I know I do. And there are people to the left of me and people to the right who also feel secure in stating that they too are in the middle of the road.

But people also mean many different things by the phrase. Some people are hypersensitive to symbols and so they see a priest wearing a fiddle back vestment or incensing with a bowl instead of the thurible and instantly label the poor guy as being radically one way or the other.

As you are aware I am sure I have my preferences in such things. But they do not matter two hoots. They are mostly aesthetics. I like them and I think they work, but I do not have to have them. Where one’s ideas begin to matter is in matters of faith and morals. Being middle of the road means not being more holy than the Church (and thereby enforcing one's personal piety on others which can be harmful) nor does it mean ignoring that to which the faith calls us (and thereby breaking the bond of love and truth which can be equally harmful.)

They key is orthodoxy and compassion. Orthodoxy; keeping with the mind of the Church. Without truth we have nothing to offer but therapy and poor therapy at that. Compassion; loving with the heart of Christ. Without love, all you have is conformity to law not a relationship with the person Christ.

Being pastorally sensitive which is equated with disregarding Church law or being faithful which is equated with narrowing Church law to a certain way of being Catholic have nothing to do with being middle of the road. Neither do symbols that may look traditional or progressive but are quite simply on the Catholic playing field. But being orthodox does. The question is, do we allow other’s legitimate expression of orthodoxy? Do we allow them to express their Catholicity without labels or demeaning comments? That, I believe, is being truly the middle of the road.
What think you?
* An anonymous reader suggested that this quote is actually from Alexander Pope, an 18th century English poet. I went back through my manuscript and found that indeed it was attributed so. Thank you to the reader and my apologies for the mistake.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Roaming around Chicago a church was stumbled upon whose mission statement talked about direct contact with God without the use of church leaders. (It was apparently a wealthy parish and I wondered why anyone would give money to a church that declares itself un-useful.) Another line read, “We tolerate everything except intolerance.” Translation, “You may belong here as long as you don’t take a stand on anything except believing in not taking a stand on anything.”

This bit of news was reported in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Saturday. Kent State University, in an effort to make transgender students feel more included on campus, has established a intolerance free (my words) gender nuetral restroom. The unisex lavatory will sport four signs on the door, "a man, a woman, a person in a wheel chair, and a man and a woman sperated by a slash." Now, is it me or does it seem like after you say that the the single stall restroom may be used by either men or women, further clarification is not really necessary unless, of course, you either are trying to make a politcally correct statment or you are implying that wheelchair bound eunuchs are not welcome.

Here is a video (probably the last that I will show from these guys, if you want to see more of them check this site) that gives an example of what happens when we invest in what Pope Benedict has dubbed the Dictatorship of Tolerance:

(Yes, this is a real group.)


Eyehacker shows an example of the slippery slope to depravity in human engineering. Does this scare anybody?

The Diocese of Cleveland in their weekly E-newsletter sends out this link for Catholic Healthcare Partners, a mission driven, not for profit healthcare system in Ohio and surrounding states.

When polled what books they would recommend to priests, the clergy of the Diocese of Cleveland made these suggestions: (top three) “The Holy Longing” (Rolheiser), “Joy of the Priesthood”, (Rosetti), and “The Lost Art of Walking in Water” (Heher). When polled as to which authors should be read they said (top three) John Paul II, Henri Nouwen, and Fulton Sheen.

It’s time to start thinking about World Youth Day in Australia. Here is the official link.


Here are the answers to yesterday’s quiz. Some of your answers may vary slightly depending on translation and local custom.

1. (Pray of us . . .) That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
2. (Eternal rest . . .) And let perpetual light shine upon H/H.
3. (Let us bless . . .) And give Him thanks.
4. (We adore You . . .) Because by thy holy cross thou hath redeemed the world.
5. (Lord, open . . .) And my mouth shall declare your praise.
6. (This is the wood . . .) Come let us worship.
7. (You have given them . . .) Containing in itself all (sweetness/delight)
8. (Give thanks to the Lord . . .) for His mercy endures forever.
9. (The Lord is risen!) Indeed He is risen!
10. (Lord, send forth . . .) And renew the face of the earth.
11. (Praised be Jesus . . .) Now and forever.
12. (Dominus . . .) Et cum spiritu tuo.
13. (Ite . . .) Deo gratias.

Friday, May 18, 2007


A young man who served 7:00 morning mass this week stopped me afterwards to ask me if I would pray for his grandfather who had passed away. I suggested that we pray right then and there. Wrapping up the prayer with, “Eternal rest grant onto him O Lord,” and intending to fill in the second half of the phrase for him, he threw me off by confidently giving the reply. What a great kid.

I just got back from a funeral home service. Sometimes there is a very Catholic crowd and the responses are made loudly and proudly, at other times it’s only Jiminy Cricket making chirping noises.

Here are some common call and response phrases that are used in the Church. See how you fare with them. Answers tomorrow.

1. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God,
2. Eternal rest grant onto H/H O Lord,
3. Let us bless the Lord,
4. We adore you O Christ and we bless you,
5. Lord open my lips,
6. This is the wood of the Cross on which hung the Savior of the world,
7. You have given them bread from heaven,
8. Rejoice in the Lord for He is good,
9. The Lord is risen!
10. Lord, send forth your Spirit,
11. Praised be Jesus Christ,
12. Dominus vobiscum,
13. Ite, missa est.


With reservations I recommend a book to you. I do not care for science fiction novels but this one kept me interested until the very last page. Maybe because some of it takes place just down the street from me. Here is the beginning of Chapter 5 entitled "Cleveland, Ohio: August 2014 - May 2015;

"In the space of twenty hours, he had moved from a war zone in the Horn of Africa to the suburban campus of John Carroll University, set in the placid peace of a pretty neighborhood of old and well-kept houses, where the children screamed and ran but in play, laughing and robust, not stunned or desperate or starving or terrified."

The book concerns itself with a Jesuit exploration of another planet, as scary and unknown of an adventure as what the first missionaries who arrived in the New World must have faced, bouncing across the unknown ocean on a little piece of wood and sail known as a ship toward God-only-knew-what-to-expect.

The book is from a Catholic perspective, but not everyone in the book is Catholic nor particularly believes in what the Catholic Church teaches. In other words, it resembles life. There are some touchy themes that may make some people uncomfortable (such as homosexuality) which are none-the-less life issues that really exist.

Set amidst all this are occasional little gems of wisdom. When facing death and the question of why would God allow such a thing to happen, Fr. Marc, a Jesuit priest says,

"The Jewish sages tell us that the whole of the Torah, the entirety of the first five books of the Bible, is the name of God. With such a name, they ask, how much more is God? The Fathers of the Church tell us that God is Mystery and unknowable. God Himself, in Scripture, tells us, "My ways are not your ways and My thoughts are not your thoughts. . .

"(To ask, 'Why?') is a very fine kind of human behavior. If we keep demanding that God yield up His answers, perhaps some day we will understand them."

There are some things at which you will wrinkle your nose. If you are looking for pure orthodox theology throughout, don't read this. If you are looking for a good summer read that is a far cry from so much of the crassness that is out there, you might like to give, "The Sparrow" by Mary Doria Russell a try.