Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Perhaps because every job I’ve ever had either required the wearing of a costume or uniform, getting dressed up for Halloween has never seemed very intriguing. Actually it was a good day not to get dressed up. It is not always that fun.

One time Monsignor Novicky at St. Greg’s asked me to help out at the parish carnival (I was a lowly seminarian) and I naively said, “Sure, whatever you want.”

“Oh really,” he said.


Unfortunately it was during the time when Barney the giant purple dinosaur was outlandishly, almost demonically popular. He walked me into a room where a bunch of padding, furry purple clothes, and an empty dinosaur head were sitting on a table. “Why don’t you put that on, walk around the grounds a little and give the kids a thrill.”

I hated Barney. But such is life.

I struggled into the costume that was obviously made for a smaller person and a teenager was assigned to guide me around since I could barely see and had almost already killed myself on a set of stairs. We stepped outside, (this is not an exaggeration) and I swear I took no more than two steps when kids from every single point on the compass turned like a pride of hungry lions picking up on the sent of raw meat and let out a collective roar of, “IT’S BARNEY,” abandoned their parents and came tearing across the grounds towards me. It was one of the scariest moments of my life.

Such is the power of getting dressed up. We get to be something we are not and afforded the chance to see a little bit what it might be like. (I now know I never want to be Barney.) Hence one may not simply get dressed up, but one must be dressed up as something they are not in every day life. For example, I may not go to a costume party dressed as a priest. But my best non-priest friend may. Although I suppose I could go as a Zombie priest.

Don’t you think the last thing Dracula or the Wolfman wants to be on Halloween is Dracula and the Wolfman? I bet even Superman and Wonderwoman want to be somebody else just one day. They probably put on T-shirts, jeans, and boat shoes and hang as just plain people.

There are some things that are still taboo. Prince William learned this not to long ago when he went to a costume party dressed as a Nazi. There are still lines that cannot be crossed easily. It put a certain fright into people who wondered, “Is this revealing something about the man inside the costume?”

Typically within an hour costumes and personas begin to be dropped for comfort and company sake. (It’s hard to eat a slice of pizza with a trident in your hand or to have the entire extent of your conversation with someone be about how you want to bite their neck.) Even Superman starts feeling naked without his cape.

I still am uncomfortable saying that it is Okay to pretend to be something that Jesus spent so much of His time exorcizing while He hung out with us, but I am much more concerned with the type of saint a person is attempting to be the rest of the 364 days and 20 hours of the year. The work is not in rehabilitating Halloween, but reinvigorating the life of the Church. Demons, ghouls, and bandits (and is it just me or are there less and less of these?) are a symptom not the problem. Observe tonight. Enjoy. Plan for tomorrow.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “Stop crying and be consoled because Basil is in heaven praying for us all and offering sacrifice.” Gregory Naziazun on the death of Saint Basil

QUOTE II: “Every devil must have a face. Even if it is a wolf’s face, even if it is a serpent’s face, even if it is a tobacoist’s. It must be something we can know and recognize, it must be in our own image or very close to it, it must be animal or human or some hybrid of the two. Because, what else can we imagine? What else have we seen?” - Hillary Mantel


Don’t forget that All Saint's Day is a holy day of obligation this year! Check that mass schedule as you make you plans!

This is kind of fun. Go here to carve you own cyber-pumpkin. Thanks for sending it in Mickie.

The Diocese of Cleveland E-Newsletter recommends this for redeeming the celebration of All-Hallows-Eve.

I took this picture at a bon-fire recently and thought it was pretty cool and so thought to share it with you.


A number of years ago I worked as a carpenter in a theater. As all theaters are rumored this one sported tales of its very own ghost who banged around in the catwalks at night scaring the night security guards. We were running way behind schedule and I found myself working late into the night, falling asleep in the theater several nights in a row. Sure enough I heard the banging. It was loud enough to wake me out of a very sound sleep. Was it a ghost?

Saint Thomas Aquinas tells us that at death the soul is separated from the body like a ball full of air that has been pushed underwater and then let go. Immediately the soul either soars to heaven or plunges into hell. So does that discount the possibility of ghosts according to Church teaching?

Not exactly. Most people, I think, would be shocked at how much the Church has not made a definitive statement on and ghosts are one of those things. There are allowances for the possibility of them. Some of those possibilities involve purgatory. Some souls are going to heaven but have not yet been completely cleansed of their earthly attachments and so must go through a purgation as nothing unclean will enter before the presence of God. We only have a sketchy and somewhat symbolic idea of what purgatory is. Is there a possibility that a soul might have some dealings with earthly things as part of its purgation? Maybe.

There may also be the case too that God might allow us to see either in dream or vision a person deceased in order to remind us to pray for them or to call us to holiness. Samuel prophesied from the grave and we readily accept for the possibility of saint speaking to us such as at Fatima.

Of course we also know that angels as a cosmic force act in the world. We have only to look at the Annunciation for that. But if good angels can act, so can evil ones. We see this in the demons that Christ regularly banished from people.

I am highly skeptical about such activity but still find it something not to mess around with. Every diocese has an exorcist and they aint around for kicks (though they are very seldom called upon). But the other world is like electricity. Properly experienced there is absolutely nothing dangerous or wrong with it. Improperly used it can kill you.

Are we forbidden contact with the next world? No! We do it all the time. But we do it as God bids us. It is called prayer and intercession. Even legitimate scientific study is not completely outlawed “provided there is no recourse to means that are essentially immoral or specifically forbidden.”

But trying to control cosmic forces, using spirits to gain knowledge from God’s realm, (a form of divination) evocation of the dead, these are all forbidden actions. Such actions lead to superstition, possibilities of being frauded, and the very real chance that one is dealing with a decepting spirit.

If you feel you are being visited by a “ghost”, I would probably think there was more likely a more earthly explanation. But if not, if it is of God there is nothing to fear. Pray. If it is not of God, you have nothing to fear for you always have God. Pray.

Though I tend not to believe in such things, tired of being kept up late at night in that theater I climbed up into the catwalks and said a prayer for the soul of our “ghost”. The banging stopped. From then on. That means I either prayed a cure for the hot water pipes, or perhaps a soul went to his reward. Who knows?

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Hope you enjoy this as much as I did. (Less that 2 minutes)


Jay reports that Catholic Carnival 142 is up and running!

C. sent this in. A place to find Catholic CD's. Great for in the car while you are tooling around!

A. brought this review of the movie Bella from an unlikely movie reviewer:

Marywood Center
P.O Box 14195
2811 E. Villa Real Drive
Orange, California 92863-1595

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Most of the bishops across the countries, as well as many pastors, have been given a sneak peak at an award-winning film that has the potential to shape our culture for good. I want to take this opportunity to share with you my thoughts on the inspiring new movie, "Bella", set for release on October 26 during Respect Life month.

Winner of the Toronto Film Festival's "People's Choice Award," "Bella" reaches audiences in a constructive and non-preachy way. Previous winners of that award, like 'Life is Beautiful' and 'Chariots of Fire', have gone on to win Best Picture Oscars!! 'Bella' tells the story of how the unconditional love of a friend allows a woman in crisis to make life-affirming choices for herself and her child. It also uplifts the dignity of the human person and of the traditional family.

Already, through pre-screenings and promotional events, hearts have been touched and lives have been changed. As our Lord said, "You will know a tree by its fruits" (Matthew 7:16), Bella has already produced amazing fruits.

As members of the Mystical Body of Christ and Christians with the responsibility to spread a message of love and virtue in our world, I want to encourage you to see this film and to promote this movie's life-affirming and hope-filled message. Organizations you most likely recognize, including The Knights of Columbus and the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul are endorsing and supporting this beautiful film, even dedicating time and resources to help fill theaters on opening weekend.

Pope John Paul the Second often spoke of the new evangelization and of using the media to speak the truth and of the power of the arts in shaping the culture. In response to that call, the Catholic filmmakers behind 'Bella' have a mission to make films that not only entertain, but also inspire and uplift. I am personally inspired by their example and their good work.

God Bless you, and thank you for supporting this hopeful and exceptionally worthwhile project.

His Excellency,

Most Rev. Tod D. Brown
Bishop of Orange

A nice little group of us were able to attend opening night in a pretty well filled theater. Even Uncle Jim came all the way over to Cleveland to see it with us. What a treat that was! I think we would all be confident in recommending this movie both for it's merit as entertainment and for it's positive message. Enjoy.


That was quite enough of heraldry I would say though I wanted to go through at least the twelve Apostle’s coats of arms this site did it so well I do not feel a need to repeat it here.

For two weeks however we will touch on the Church’s use of relics. Pictured here in this little reliquary are the twelve apostles and a piece of the true cross. Eleven of the twelve are first-class relics and Saint Peter is a second-class relic.

As you have already picked up there are several classes of relics. There are first class relics that are the bodies or parts of the body of a saint, a second class relic which is something that the saint directly used such as clothing, and a third class relic is something that was touched to a first class relic.

Now at first this might sound a bit odd especially to a non-Catholic. “What are these guys doing messing around with dead people’s things?” Actually in society we do such things all the time.

For example, one time I went to an Engelbert Humperdinck concert (don’t ask) and at one point he wiped his brow and threw his sweat soaked handkerchief into the audience where a bevy of mature ladies practically tore each other a part for a chance to claim a scrap of the material as her own. They were excited to have this token of something that he had used.

There was that brouhaha recently over Steven Levy’s discovery of Einstein’s Brain. He went to the office of the doctor that was last reported to have possession of it and there it was, kept in Mason jars. “It was almost a religious experience,” he reports. “In those jars were the brains the changed the world.”

Victorians saved locks of hair and even weaved them into little braids and kept them in lockets feeling nearer to the one they loved whether they be dead or alive. Cleveland has the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and thousands of people go there yearly just to look at what one of their favorite rock stars once used through a plate of glass, paying big bucks for the privilege of doing so.

I have my grandpa’s brass knuckles from his union days. That in a way is a second-class relic. I can feel his own big rough hands in the finger holes and imagine him using them to gain worker’s rights. Quite inspiring.

The Church has relics for a couple of reasons. One is for the remembrance and inspiration. Can you imagine if these really are a part of those saints? Wow! Like Einstein’s brain they remind us that they were real people that lived and died and changed the world. This was not just some story. Additionally they are reminders of the intercession of the saints. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia the earliest reference and interest in relics were that of St. Polycarp in A.D. 156. “The common belief that graces could be obtained through relics is mentioned by the Church Fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries. By the tenth century, relics were placed in shrines, and in reliquaries of churches, which became centers of pilgrimage.”

More on relics next week.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


I don’t know why people think they have to look to the Devil and the dark side to come up with scary All-Hallows-Eve costumes. Scripture and tradition have their own stable of people and beasts that if you saw them in a dark alley you would probably shock your shorts.

Fortunately those who celebrate this day in a Christian manner only pick nice, respectable saints, not some of those reprobate saints that go around carrying their own heads, or skin, or other body parts. I mean that is just so not done in polite society. And those instruments of their martyrdom with which they are all parading around in heavenly pageantry. Most of them would not be allowed in Church in the state of Ohio for carrying knives, swords, arrows, grills, pinchers, and wheels with spikes on them. Real saints carry flowers or palm branches. That’s what I want to see if I’m dying and going to heaven. Not a bunch of rascals with instruments of torture. One could get the wrong idea of where one has ended up.

Then there are those animals of Scripture. Some are Okay like the animals on the ark, or sheep, or the ox and ass, well, except for that one that talks. Whoever heard of a talking ass? (Don’t go there.) But then you have serpents, seven headed dragons, sea monsters and griffins and the like. I ask you, what business do they have being a part of Sacred Scripture? Sacred Scripture is supposed to be nice, sweet, warm and fuzzy.

Oh! OH! Then there are all those creatures from our symbolic vocabulary! The pelican that pierces its own breast to feed its young with its own blood symbolizing Jesus’ death on the cross! The phoenix that was said to inhabit the Arabian wilderness and lived to be three to four hundred years old and who, from time to time, would dive into a funeral pyre whereupon it would rise from its own ashes restored to its youth calling to mind the resurrection. And that rascally centaur who symbolizes our savage passions and excess but who also, in the life of Saint Anthony Abbot pointed out the way to reach St. Paul the Hermit in the desert. That’s just to mention a few.

Respectability. That’s what we want. Nice, neat, clean Christianity. Robes and palm branches. Very English. Maybe someone playing a harp. Safe. Polite saints not so much begging but asking nicely for candy – perhaps to give to the poor. Now that’s an All-Hallows-Eve for you.


Have you already made a mental list of what you would throw in the car to save if a forest fire was heading your way? I did. And I am afraid my car would look something like the Clampets on their way to Beverly Hills if I were successful in packing everything on that list. Wanting to save the hand carved wooden statues in the church alone would fill the car past capacity. (Whom would I leave behind?)

Actually you probably make similar decisions every day. There are only twenty-four hours in a day and usually twenty-five hours worth of things to do. All of a sudden you are forced to evaluate what stays and what goes, what is essential and what must be left to providence. Early casualties are usually sleep, eating well, and exercise. Unfortunately prayer is also on the quick to ax list. God, like family, has to always be there waiting for us and so it easy to think, “He will be here tomorrow,” and put Him on the back burner.

I’m no less guilty in that strategy than anybody else. In the seminary they gave us a number of years to get used to saying the Liturgy of the Hours before we were required to pray it daily. There was some wisdom in this as we came to realize the importance of prayer on our own. Late at night, studying for a final, having much more to cover and eyelids already growing heavy someone would say, “We haven’t even prayed Evening Prayer yet,” and there was a great temptation to say, “I think we could miss it just this once.”

Sometimes we did, and sometimes we didn’t. Then over time we noticed something interesting: when we stopped to pray, the evening progressed more quickly and smoothly. When we skipped prayer, the work we set out to finish took much longer and was more painful. On our own then we learned never to sacrifice prayer on the altar of business.

A saint once said, “People should pray for an hour a day. Very busy people who do not have time to pray should pray for two hours.” When one thinks of all that a pope has to do and how much of their day is spent in prayer and how much they still accomplished should alone give us pause to think twice before jettisoning prayer.

When the fire is coming and we can only fit the essentials on the calendar before taking off on our day, make sure there is room for prayer. It is an essential. It is not one more thing to do; it is one more person with you to help you with your load.

Thank you for your kind words yesterday as one of the casualties of busy week at the parish was the blog post!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Due to a heavy work load at the parish today there will be no post except for the the answers to yesterday's quiz. The answers are provided by the Reduced Shakespeare Company.

1. Crisps - Chips
2. Chips - Fries
3. Boot - Trunk
4. Bonnet - Hood
5. Advert - Commercial
6. Chemist - Drugstore
7. Braces – Suspenders
8. Bands - Braces
9. Suspenders - Garters
10. Solicitor - Lawyer
11. Pavement – Sidewalk
12. Queen – Powerless head of state, richest woman in the world, receives millions of pounds for making a speech at Christmas and when opening shopping malls, now has fire insurance and thousands of tourists wandering through her home.

The views expressed about the Queen are soley that of the R.S.C. and does not reflect that of Adam's Ale who thinks she is just swell.

Monday, October 22, 2007


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “When every man lives without law, every man lives without freedom.” Pope Benedict XVI

QUOTE II: “I went to a restaurant that served breakfast anytime so I ordered French toast during the Renaissance.” Steven Wright


There is a whole lot of brouhaha in Church gossip over the proper translations of the mass. It might be good to keep in mind that making a single translation for the entire English speaking world is not easy as the Reduced Shakespeare Company has made obvious through this short list that, though we have the words in common, do not mean the same thing after one crosses the pond, hence provoking Oscar Wilde’s assertion of us being two people divided by a common language. Your job is to give the American English equivalent words to these British words.

1. Crisps
2. Chips
3. Boot
4. Bonnet
5. Advert
6. Chemist
7. Braces
8. Bands
9. Suspenders
10. Solicitor
11. Pavement
12. Queen

Answers Wednesday.

Today is the deadline for pre-purchased tickets for the Friday showing of Bella. Some of you indicated that you may try to show up and join us at the theater. There have been no wholesale purchasing of seats for the particular house that we are attending so that might work out fine. For those of you who need addresses to Mapquest, Habemus Papem graciously looked them up.
5:30 dinner at Don Pablo
36455 Euclid Ave. Willoughby, OH 44094

7pm Movie at Regal Cinema36655 Euclid Ave.
Willoughby, OH 44094

Sunday, October 21, 2007


This is what happens when you no longer have strong communities where people know each other and look out after one another. In the wake of the shooting in a Cleveland high school, the city, already strapped and barely making it along, will spend over three million dollars to install metal detectors in all of its schools (not to mention the cost of having people to man them etc.)

Is this not disturbing? It is not the cost, but the fact that we feel it necessary to have metal detectors in schools. And further, it is not that there might be another kid out there who might be on the path to becoming the type of person who would do the same thing, but that our communities have so fallen apart that there was not one person who was there to help this boy in his formative years or was aware of his violent tendencies and as community try to bring some help to the kid.

The sad part here is that as we move further and further from community and freedom being the basis of civilization to autonomy and license, the more we have to rely on things and laws and enforcement to enable us to survive side by side.

Major medical decisions are now relegated to a piece of paper when you were in a state that may not equal your current mindset, yet a piece of paper is held as binding instead of a flesh and blood person who you know and trust, who takes council with the doctors, possibly family and hopefully your faith tradition to plot a course for the future when you are unable.

Adriana Trigiani in “Rococo” writing about people who come to rely too heavily on money puts forth that, “Rich people develop a feeling of invincibility, but none of us are exempt from the pain and suffering of life. A wealthy person thinks, 'If I need a kidney, I’ll buy one; If I lose my career I’ll coast;' or when 'I’m old, I won’t need to rely on the kindness of others, I can pay someone to take care of me.' Instead of building up relationships that matter, the rich man nurtures his relationship with his accountant.”

Apparently there were many signs that this kid was headed for trouble (as it seems there almost always is.) True freedom would still exist for that boy and the people he shot had community been more cohesive and concerned about the young man than being afraid of trespassing on someone’s business. That is the basis of the community of Church. It is the basis of true freedom. It is us and God, not me and God.

“When you go at it alone, the worst in you will come out.” - Fr. Canice

Saturday, October 20, 2007


I am very grateful to Kay for sending in this week's video on tap! It has been a hectic week and I have not had time to look for one. It is an inspiring short story (6 minutes) that lifts your spirits and reveals the dignity of all of us.


Do you want to want to find out where the movie Bella is opening? Check out their website here and click on "Find a Theater Near You."

For those of you around here and want to go with a group of Adam's Alers on Friday the 26th of October at 7:00 in Willoughby (and want Habemus Papem to count you in among those who will have their tickets picked up early so that you are assured of a seat) please let me know by Tuesday if you have not already responded by E-mail or by the comment section of the Bella posts. Tickets for clergy, religious, and seminarians are FREE (for those of you who let us know you are coming) due to a generous benefactor. Also, for those of you who are interested, we will meet at Don Pablos (more info to follow) to eat before hand.

Jay announces that the latest Catholic Carnival is up and running!

Friday, October 19, 2007


The coats of arms explained today might be a bit Cleveland specific, but you can use them as an example of what happens when a bishop’s and diocese’ coats of arms collide. There is a similar effect in all dioceses.

The first set of arms seen here are for the Diocese of Cleveland. We can tell that it is a diocesan coat of arms because of the miter on top and the distinct lack of a crossier or processional cross behind the arms. It is based on the family coat of arms of General Moses Cleveland, the founder of the city. Added to the original arms are the crosslets. Ermine tails, like those seen on the arms, lined the inside of royal cloaks. Attached with a three-headed pin, they are a sign of purity.

This picture of the episcopal heraldic achievement is the coat of arms for the bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland. The diocesan coat of arms is pushed to the shield’s own right (or on the dexter) side, while the other half (the sinister) has the equally restricted coat of arms of the residential bishop thus showing that he is the ordinary of the particular diocese. You may see a coat of arms such as this in your parish either painted or in a stained glass window showing who was bishop at the time when your church was built.

This is the current coat of arms for the Bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland. Notice the green galero with twelve tassels hanging from it signifying that this is the coat of arms of a bishop. Behind the shield is the processional cross. This bishop’s personal coat of arms is based on the arms of the Dominican’s, St. Dominic being of particular patron of the bishop. The red Celtic cross pays tribute to his Irish heritage. The gold star honors the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title of the Immaculate Conception and the eagle honors St. John the Evangelist, patron of the seminary where he was rector. Finally the motto, “Diligamus Nos Invicem” translates, “Let us love one another.”

If you find a coat of arms incorporated into the artwork of your parish it may be that of the pope at the time of the construction or that of the local bishop, the diocese, or some other important person to the parish. If your parish staff does not have the identifying information and explanation, your local diocesan archive office might be willing and able to help.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


A priest friend of mine was always fond of talking about our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit but he smoked like a chimney. I once asked about that incongruity. After all, if the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, should we not take better care of it than that? To which he replied, “I’m just incensing the temple.”

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “You must know that you body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is within – the Spirit you have received from God. You are not your own. You have been purchased, and at a price. So glorify God in your body.”

Of course the greatest way to glorify God in your body is to strive to be holy. “Rend you hearts, not your garments.” (Joel 2:13) And indeed many saints focused their sanctity there, as well we all should. They did not all necessarily sanctify their bodies in the physical sense I suppose. They didn’t all have the nice slender, healthy, well built bodies sculptures and painters would like us to believe they had. In fact, St. Thomas Aquinas is said to be have been large enough that a circle had to be cut into the table in order for him to pull himself up to it.

But there is merit in glorifying God by treating your body well. Your creation after all is good. You were made good and intended to be good. The Holy Spirit abides in you and at mass you become a tabernacle of the Lord when you receive Holy Communion. So what we do with this gift of our bodies is significant.

It is not a neutral but a morally good thing to treat the body well (and to assist others to do the same.) This includes eating well (and sometimes fasting), exercising and trying to get enough rest. It also means adorning it with modesty, remaining chaste, and using our gifts of the senses to take in what is good and shunning that which is base as we develop our minds. It is also a call to develop our abilities for the glory of God and the building up of our brothers and sisters.

Your body is a gem of creation making you capable of bringing incredible good into the world, of being an image of Christ for others. Treat you body with the respect, dignity, care, and modesty such a gift deserves.


It seems that priesthood brings with it a lot of time spent driving. Tired of talk shows and poor music on the radio, classes from the Great Lecture Series were ordered and they are quite good. The latest one is on the life and writings of C. S. Lewis. I’d forgotten this little formula he used for proof of the existence of God. It is not a bulletproof case but it is worth noting and a fun exercise in logic. I tried to present it here in as short a format as I could for your enjoyment. Apologies in advance for any skips in logic.

1. If I should cut in line in front of a Relativist for the roller coaster at the amusement park, more than likely the Relativist would complain (which well he should).

If we argue we must be appealing to a universal standard of behavior to which we think others should be held accountable. If there is not a universal standard there is nothing more than might makes right and instead of arguing we would best just attempt to beat the snot out of each other. But no, we both make claims to some sort of universal good.

2. But could this be just a natural instinct? Lewis says no (and while very interesting and noteworthy, this could be the weakest link in the argument.) Suppose we have two competing instincts, say one for the self and one for the family. How do we decide which one to go with? He argues that it cannot be yet a third instinct that helps us decide between instincts. It would have no more value than the original two. A squirrel wondering if it should run or take the nut that you are offering eventually lets the stronger instinct win out. But humans debate the value - the worth of each action. So there must be then a third ‘other thing’, a touchstone, a standard that is above the two instincts and helps us decide between them. That is this universal good.

3. So call that “Good” what you will. It can be God or a Superior Being or what have you. There are two choices basically from where this God may come. The Good might be natural, that is, existing in this world or the Good may be from outside of this realm.

If the Good is from this realm, if it is natural or what we call Pantheistic, then the good is of the world or part of the world. The force then is neither good nor bad and we are left with the question once again of finding from where the notion of good comes.

But if there is a good God who transcends this world but communicates with it (Theism), then we have a source of that universal standard, of the good to which we appeal.

4. But how can we say that there is an all-good God when there is so much suffering and injustice in the world? Lewis asks, “How can we know the world is unjust unless we have a just standard?” Therefore there must be a supernatural standard and we call that Good God.

5. Therefore, the most rational explanation for us is what is told to us in Genesis; that the world was made by a good God, but that evil entered into it.

Thank God God exists. It may not be strong enough an argument to convince a steadfast atheist, but if you were wavering and looking for something to hang your hat on, this is pretty cool.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


It seems internationally scientists are trying to establish fourteen days as the amount of time a person needs to live after conception before they are considered to be a human being. This is a fortunate discovery. With this clear-cut determination that means that experiments and such things as the harvesting of stem cells can be performed with no hint of moral lines being crossed. Being several decades past this mark I find myself rather relieved. I do feel for the preforteenthday non-humans however. I picture them (not that, I suppose, there is a “them” yet) sort of like the turtles that are born on the beach in the hundreds of thousands only to find most of their number decimated by hungry birds as they make their way to the safety of the water.

I was conceived back in the day when human beings were still human beings those first fourteen days. Lucky thing that. It seems rather poor sportsmanship to chip off one’s humanity at the beginning of one’s life. It would be fairer to declare someone un-human, say, at the last fourteen days of their lives. At least then they could have enjoyed eating trans fatty, deep-fried, foods and watching television re-runs.

It isn’t that preforteenthdayers don’t have everything they need to be humans yet. Regular scientists, not those Catholic ones, have pretty much come to an agreement that everything is there for the totality of a human person at conception. Already determined is the color of your eyes, if you will have a button nose, and barring outside influences how athletic you will be. Which all goes to show that I was pretty much predestined to be bald and only moderately intelligent from the get go. Wicked thing that.

So it is, perhaps, that preforteenthdayers are simply too small, too un-people-like looking, and don’t yet pay taxes. Not that anyone would judge the worth of another human being simply by their productivity, looks, or monetary worth or political influence. We are past all that now. It is simply that they are non-human. This should not surprise us too much. This is a very handy designation used throughout all of history to help us understand that it is Okay to treat other non-beings in such a way. Since they are not humans, we are not doing anything wrong. This has been a particularly helpful thing when needing slaves or are fighting an enemy, or when needing to do human experimentation.

So if both regular and Catholic scientists want to do experiments which would destroy that which does not exist for the 13 days, 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds, their cause is a noble one. This might possibly help bring quality of life to mankind – unless, of course, you happen to be in the unfortunate position of being one of the ones not to make it past 14 days. But regular and Catholic scientists alike doing so one second past 15 days, and you have what we call in the big, beautiful (relatively speaking), and tax paying world as murder.
Besides, if we didn’t make this distinction, what would we do with all of these tiny humans sitting around in freezer drawers everywhere? Those pesky non-humans would just be a nuisance if born. It would be like the tenth plague in reverse. It is only acting responsibly that scientist have learned not only how to create life outside of the womb, but have also found a way of disposing of those preforteenthday non-humans. I only wish nuclear scientists, both regular and Catholic, would do the same thing with nuclear energy waste. Maybe we could declare nuclear energy water and just dump it in the ocean. That might do the trick.

Monday, October 15, 2007


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “The Destruction of human embryos . . . to acquire stems cells, or for any other purpose, contradicts the purported intent of researchers . . . to promote human welfare.” Benedict XVI


The above quote was mentioned this past Sunday night in a talk by Dr. Andrew Trew on faith based bioethics. There will be one more talk in the series this coming Sunday at Holy Angel’s Church (18205 Chillicothe Road, Chagrin Falls) called “Living Life to the End” concerning end of life issues. There is no charge but they would like to know if you are coming. (440) 724-1468.

Get ready to go to the movies! BELLA premiers on the 26th of October! It is an excellent film and one I won’t be ashamed to wear my collar to! In Cleveland it will play at the Cinemark in Valley View, The Regal Cinema in Willoughby, Crocker Park 16, and AMC at Richmond Center. Here is a theater trailer and a three-minute expose on Eduardo who produced and stared in the movie.

For those of you who are interested, a few of us are getting together to see it on opening night in Willoughby. Habemus Papem graciously offered to set us up. If you want get together, let me know ASP and we’ll reserve you a ticket. If there are any seminarians who would like to go, I would be willing to pick up the tab for the movie for a few of you. Uncle Jim, Adoro, and Rob, better get your plane tickets now.

This is just a cool thing to see. Thanks J for sending it in.


Ive been looking all over for this and finally found it in the “Catholic Source Book”. It is the seven precepts of the Church. These are the obligations of members of the Church for those who want to be considered Practicing Catholics as opposed to Cultural Catholics. Supposedly the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore approved them in 1884. Perhaps you might find them interesting.

1. To Keep holy the day of the Lord’s Resurrection: to worship God by participating in Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation; to avoid those activities that would hinder renewal of soul and body; for example, needles work and business activities, unnecessary shopping, and so forth. (In other words; praise God and take a day off and relax and recreate. How many organizations require that of you?)

2. Lead a sacramental life: to receive Holy Communion frequently and the Sacrament of Reconciliation at least once a year if in serious sin, minimally, to receive Holy Communion at least once a year, between the first Sunday of Lent and Trinity Sunday (aka Easter duty). (Once again, this is for our benefit; enter into and enjoy a state of grace. Cool.)

3. To study Catholic teaching in preparation for confirmation, to be confirmed, and then to continue to study and advance the cause of Christ. (A calling to become fully mature in the life of Christ. Continue to grow and learn!)

4. To observe the marriage laws of the Church: to give religious training (by word and example) to one’s children; to use parish schools and religious education programs. (And now that you are fully initiated, start passing that faith on to others starting, for those who marry, in the home.)

5. To strengthen and support the Church: one’s own parish community and parish priests; the worldwide Church and the Holy Father. (Having enjoyed the sacrifice of those who have gone before us, now make sure that it is there for future generations.)

6. To do penance, including abstaining from meat and fasting from good on the appointed days.

7. To join in the missionary spirit and apostolate of the Church.

To recap: Strive for holiness and wholeness, continue to grow with passion in your relationship with God, pass this opportunity on to others both by example and missionary zeal, and by doing your part to make sure that that which was here to support your journey will be here to support others.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


Adoro stumbled across these videos and shared them with me. They are quite moving and thought provoking. Just so you are prepared, the first one is about twenty minutes, the second is about twelve minutes.


Jay announces that Catholic Carnival 140 is up and running!

You might remember the post about the current exhibit at the Maltz Museum and how they have some ethical questions that they ask visitors to cast lots on. Well, Lori informed me that you can aslo do so on line. Simply go here to the Museum's main page, click on "Deadly Medicine", and click on the "Deadly Medicine Survery".

The Diocese of Cleveland Diocesan E-Newsletter asks, "Did you know that 'you can take a "marriage initiative survey" offered by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on their "For Your Marriage" web site?'"

Friday, October 12, 2007


Here’s a look at Pope Benedict’s coat of arms. Notice first that instead of the three fold crown, a bishop’s miter is atop the crest with three bands across it signifying the three fold tiara. The pope is, after all, the bishop of Rome as well as the visible head of the Church on earth so this is a nice combination of symbols. The crossed keys sit behind the shield.

Notice first the gold field in the upper left hand quarter. Here is a picture of the Moore of Freising. The head of an Ethiopian has been associated with Freising since 1316 and has been on the arms of the archbishop of Munich and Freising ever since. Notice that no color rests on a color nor a metal on a metal. A white eye (silver) sits on a brown face (with red crown and clothing) on a gold field.

In the upper right quarter there is a brown bear with a red saddle on a gold field known as the “Bear of Corbinian”. The bear is associated with the saintly Bishop Corbinian. Legend says that he commanded the bear to be his pack animal on a trip to Rome. Once there he released the bear from service and it returned to Bavaria. This is the bear, “Chrstianity tamed and domesticated the ferocity of paganism and thus laid the foundation for the civilization of Bavaria.” The bear also symbolizes the burden of office.

Finally, there is the gold shell on a red field. It has several meanings. There is the story of St. Augustine concerning a legend about a boy (angel) using a shell to put water from the ocean in a whole he had dug. (Pope Benedict has strong Augustinian leanings.) A shell is also a sign of pilgrimage and the title, “Pilgrim People of God” is a title he promoted during Vatican II. It is also on the coat of arms at the seminary at which he taught.

Next week: What happens when an ordinary’s and a diocese’s coat of arms meet!


Amice – c) Square cloth used to cover the collar.
Antependium – h) Decorative altar frontal.
Buse – f) Holds the corporal.
Cathedra – a) Seat of the residential bishop.
Chirograph – j) A written message from the Pope.
Galero – k) A broad rimmed clergyman’s hat.
Morion – e) A Swiss Guards helmet.
Ostensorium – d) Another name for a monstrance.
Rogito – b) Documents of the Pope’s death.
Terna – l) Names recommended for bishop.
Vert – g) GreenVimp – i) Veils for holding the miter and crosier.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Lord Polonius: “What do you read, my Lord?”
Hamlet: “Words, words, words.”

Here is a list of words used in the Catholic Church (most of which you might never come across again) and a list of definitions. See if you can match them up.


1. Amice
2. Antependium
3. Burse
4. Cathedra
5. Chirograph
6. Galero
7. Morion
8. Ostensorium
9. Rogito
10. Terna
11. Vert
12. Vimp


a) The official seat of the residential bishop.
b) The official collection of documents that certify the death and burial of the Pope.
c) A square piece of cloth with strings worn under the alb to hide a collar.
d) Another name for a monstrance.
e) A Swiss Guard's helmet
f) Receptacle of the corporal.
g) Heraldic term for green.
h) Decorative piece covering the front of the altar.
i) Veils used to receive the miter and crosier.
j) A formal message written in the Pope's own hand.
k) A large broad rimmed hat with tassels worn by clergy.
l) A list of three priest's names sent to the Pope as a suggestion for ordination to the episcopacy.

Answers tomorrow.


Picture a small group of guys sitting around chewing the fat. One of them is a priest wearing his collar. One of them (not the priest) is telling a story part of which goes something like this, “So the guy backed his truck up and dumped a whole *!#% load of it on his neighbor’s lawn.” Realizing what he said in from of a priest he turns and says, “Sorry Father!”

I used to blow such things off and say, “Don’t worry about it,” but that never quite sat well. There is something wrong about a Catholic speaking that way. Even in the process of using the word that good Catholic seeing an iconic symbol of our calling to holiness was able to call himself up on it. Pretty cool.

An article in the “New Dictionary of Theology” talks about Catholics surrounding themselves with certain things of this world to aid us in keeping our eyes on the next. Not only do we have our community, our stories, Sacred Scripture and Tradition, our practices and prayers, we also have a great amount of symbolic imagery, “which supports and undergirds the whole enterprise,” providing us with stimulus and motivation and creating “a climate favorable” to the type of life to which we are called. Perhaps it would be better if we could just accomplish good lives without all the outward stimulus, but in a world that constantly bombards us with stimuli to act in a way contrary to the life of a Catholic, it is in many ways essential.

All this comes to you by way of a comment shared by a fellow priest that has my liturgical underwear in a bunch. A young priest was called to task by another priest for wearing his collar “too much”. Yes, there are times I do not wear my collar. Many times it is just because they are so incredibly expensive (so I don’t wear them hanging around the rectory on my day off for example) and would think a priest odd if he wore his collar to the beach like in the famous Coke commercial.

There is a fear however that a priest who wears his collar “too much” is somehow clerical, perhaps wearing his collar for the wrong reasons, using it for power, or as something to hide behind. This is possible. But the problem is not in wearing the collar “too much”, but in the character of the person. Shaming him into not wearing it will not cure the problem. Some of the most clerical priests on the face of the earth are those who refuse to wear a Roman Collar.

Yesterday (as this was being composed) there was news of yet another school shooting in Cleveland. As I was on the treadmill pictures of the event popped up on every television and on every channel. Does this not happen every time there is such a tragedy? From the first moment a camera gets on the scene the coverage is non-stop till long after everyone has run out of things to say.

Add to this that a great amount of our common stories are about violence being a legitimate way to solve problems. This occurs on television, at the movies and in our popular novels. I would be willing to bet the shooter’s music glorified violence; perhaps the graphics on his T-shirts, the posters in his room, and the billboards around his house either glorified force or failed to in some way to uphold the dignity of human life. Would that he, at a crucial moment in his formative years, instead of seeing another scene such as these, he had seen a young priest who was wearing his collar “too much”.

Young(er) priests, don’t worry about it. It takes a while to get the hang of when it is absolutely necessary for you to wear your clerics and when it is Okay not too. And there tends not to be hard and fast rules though Pope John Paul II often instructed priests and religious to always wear their distinctive (clerical) clothing, unless wearing it would result in persecution or grave verbal attacks. In a world full of messages and symbols contrary to our own it is not such a bad thing that we stick our symbols as boldly out there.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


Will is an extremely cool guy, but I did not trust him. He is my coach in training with weights and fortunately for me he was extremely patient. At first when lifting and I felt my arms begin to tire and weaken I would gladly and promptly set them on the rests. Over and over he would say, “Just keep going, if your arms fail you I will help you out.” That was nice and all but my brain kept saying, “If you arms fail you that bar is going to come crashing down and either break a few ribs or knock your teeth out.”

Finally I did start trusting him and he was able to do so much more for me. Now some real progress is being made. I am confident now that when my arms start to fail that he knows what he is doing and will make up for my loss of strength. Now he has someone with whom he can really work.

In the same way Will wanted me to trust him, so does Christ. He tells us that he is sending us out like lambs among wolves. Not a great prospect. Bad things happen to a lamb who hangs out with wild wolves. It sounds like an invitation to slaughter. That is an awful lot of trust for which He is calling.

Yet what do we fear? Being made sport of? Being ignored? Being roughed up? But is that not what one risks for the one he loves? What if we are slaughtered like a lamb among wolves? Are we then not just thrust directly into the arms of the One we desire?

Finally I did start trusting Him and He was able to do so much more with me. Now real progress is being made. I am confident now that when my strength starts to fail that He knows what He is doing and will make for my loss. Now He has someone with whom He can really work.
Trust Him.


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “This Rock” magazine says this passage by Thomas Babington Macaulay (not a Catholic by the by) should be memorized by Catholic children the same way that we as American children had to memorize the Gettysburg address growing up.

The proudest royal houses are but of yesterday, when compared with the line of the Supreme Pontiffs. That line we trace back in an unbroken series, from the Pope who crowned Napoleon in the nineteenth century to the Pope who crowned Pepin in the eighth; and far beyond the time of Pepin the august dynasty extends, till it is lost in the twilight of fable.

“The republic of Venice came next in antiquity. But the republic of Venice was modern when compared with the Papacy; and the republic of Venice is gone, and the papacy remains. The Papacy remains not in decay, not a mere antique, but full if life and youthful vigour. The Catholic Church is still sending forth to the farthest ends of the world missionaries as zealous as those who landed in Kent with Augustin, and still confronting hostile kings with the same spirit with which she confronted Attila . . .

“Nor do we see any sign which indicates that the term of her long dominion is approaching. She saw the commencement of all the governments and of all the ecclesiastical establishments that now exist in the world; and we feel no assurance that she is not destined to see the end of the all. She was great and respected before the Saxon had set foot on Britain, before the Frank had passed the Rhine, when Grecian eloquence still flourished in Antioch, when idols were still worshipped in the temple of Mecca.

“And she may still exist in undiminished vigour when some traveler from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul’s.”


Special thanks going out to Lillian Marie for the new header of Adam's Ale!

This Wednesday night at 7:00 in the Harvest Room at St. Clare I will be teaching the first two credit hours of a six credit hour class (Intorduction to Morality) for our catechists. It is open to all.

Uncle Jim meme’d me. This one is kind of funny. Give it a shot. (I tag Justme.)

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet & current car) – Benny Buick (HA!)

2. YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (fave ice cream flavor, favorite cookie)- Rocky Road Chocolate Chip. (Doesn't quite work does it? Maybe RC Squared is better.)

3. YOUR “FLY Guy/Girl” NAME: (first initial of first name, first three letters of your last name) – J Val (Close to J lo) - Um, what is a fly girl?

4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal) - Blue Dog (I like it though it sounds more like a name of a beer. A really cold beer.)

5. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first) Johva (the Hut)

6. SUPERHERO NAME: (”The” + 2nd favorite color, favorite drink) – The Green Coffee (Yuck!) How about – The Green Martini (better)

7. NASCAR NAME: (the first names of your grandfathers) – John Anthony (But that is my name!) Unless we do it Slovenian, Jonas Anton (I like that better.)

8. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME: (Your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter) – Reese Riverside (CA) here bringing you my exclusive 5 day forecast right after this!

9. SPY NAME: (your favorite season/holiday, favorite flower)- Easter Cosmo

10. CARTOON NAME: (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now + “ie” or “y”) Cherrie Cassockie (HA! - With his super power chop!)

11. HIPPY NAME: (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree)- Grease Oak (eh.)

12. YOUR ROCKSTAR TOUR NAME: (”The” + Your fave hobby/craft, fave weather element + “Tour”) - The Snow Bike Tour (It sounded better reversed.)

13. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born) – Anthony Barberton (um, no.)

14. WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother’s & father’s middle names) – John Jenny

Monday, October 8, 2007


Consider what happens at a Catholic wedding ceremony.

1. In the introductory rite the priest explains that a man and woman are about to exchange vows before God and this congregation.
2. Then the couple must answer questions publicly that they understand and desire Catholic-wedding vows.
3. Then they actually exchange vows.
4. Then the priest announces that they have exchanged the vows.
5. If people still don’t get it, they exchange rings.
6. If people still don’t get it, they kiss each other.
7. If people still don’t get it, at the end the priest says, “I now present Mr. and Mrs. Snodgrass.”

For some reason some people fear that it may not yet be clear to the congregation what exactly has happened so the bride takes a candle, "This represents me," and the groom takes a candle "And this represents me," and then they light a whopping big and expensive candle, "And this is us together after we mortgage the house and eat a lot of pasta." Then they blow out their individual candles to show that their individual self is now obliterated.

A little redundant.

There are also some symbolically theological problems. At mass the light of the candle is always Christ, not individuals. At baptism a candle is lit from the Paschal Candle (the Christ candle) and handed to the person who was baptized (or his family) and told, “Receive the Light of Christ.” At the Easter Vigil when the fire and the Paschal candle is blessed the people receive the Light of Christ, “a flame divided but undimmed.” The flame never represents an individual person. Thus the unity candle (a phenominon accuring only in the last 30 years or so) in the context of a Church service is not only redundant, it works against the symbolism of the rite.

I used to tell couples that the unity candle was a Protestant ceremony that made its way into the Catholic Church. Then I found out that the Protestant churches in town were saying that it was a Catholic ceremony that made its way into the Protestant Church. We agreed to say that it was a Hallmark ceremony that made its way into a religious setting. “Expertsseem equally divided spreading the blame among Catholics, Protestants, candle manufacturers, and revitalized ancient Pagan rites.

That is not to say that in a proper context that it might seems a nice thing to do. For example, it could be really cool thing to do at the reception; a nice ceremony in which all the in-laws could participate showing the uniting of families (a far better tradition than the stripping of the garter from the new wife’s leg and throwing it to a bunch of hungry bachelors).

I find the vast majority of Catholic brides who hear this immediately say, “Of course we won’t do this at the mass!” But it isn’t just weddings, we should always be on guard to improving or adding to the mass. It is not “mine” to customize, it is “ours” to be fed by. It belongs to the Church as a public ceremony, which is exactly what all masses and weddings are, and anybody in attendance has the right to celebrate the mass as the Church intends.
Pope Benedict has said that we must guard against, "the almost theatrical entrance of different players into the liturgy, which is so common today . . . if the liturgy degenerates into general activity, then we have radically misunderstodd the 'theo-drama' of the liturgy and lapsed almost into parady."

Besides who really needs to store yet something else on their closet shelf?

Friday, October 5, 2007


There’s been a few of these NFP videos two of which have been posted here. They are quite clever. If you wish to see more of them type in NFP at and that should lead you to the whole series.


If you didn’t catch it at the end of the last video they recommend the site ONEMORESOUL. It focuses on teen abstinance and contraception. It looks like a pretty good resource.

Jay announces that Catholic Carnival 139 is up and running!

The Diocese of Cleveland has a couple of items of note this week. The first is a statement from the Diocese concerning the recent conviction of Mr. Anton Zgoznik who was accused of defrauding the Diocese of some substanial sums.

They also ask, "Did you know that the mission of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada is to build and strengthen the value and worth of the Catholic press by facilitating the professional, economic and spiritual growth of our members?


Heraldry is used extensively in the Church for both persons (such as bishops) and institutions (such as parishes or diocese). Such coats of arms should not only adhere to the strict norms set by international custom and individual state law, but also to a sub-set of laws are that set by the Church. In fact up until 1960 there was an office within the Church called the Heraldry Commission of the Roman Curia that made sure these norms were adhered to. The results of the abolition of this office prompted Archbishop B. B. Heim to write “the choice of prelatial arms is often a disastrous defiance of the rules of heraldry, if only as a breach of good taste” (The Church Visible by James-Charles Noonan, Jr.).

Clergy may use his family’s coat of arms provided that they are in keeping with the dignity a Church vocation. Weapons of war, armor, and the like are never used and if they are in one’s family coat of arms it should be modified. Supporters are not in keeping with ecclesial crests (such as wild beasts or beautiful women as seen in the crest to the right). In place of the helmet that sits above many crests, a hat that corresponds to the clergyman’s rank is used. The pope will have the three-fold tiara and the two crossed keys behind the crest (one silver, one gold). All other clergy will have a fiocchi, a broad-rimmed hat with tassels. The color of the hat and the number of tassels will tell the viewer the position that the bearer of the arms holds.

A cardinal’s hat is red and has 30 tassels. There is a tradition whereby when a cardinal dies his hat is hung by a string in the sanctuary of the cathedral. There is a tongue in cheack legend that say when the string breaks and the hat falls to the floor the cardinal has finally sprung from purgatory and entered the glories of heaven. So it is advised never to use high gauge wire.

Patriarch’s hats with 30 tassels, archbishop’s hats with 20 tassels, and bishop’s hats with 12 tassels are all green, the symbolic color for their office before the more modern color came into use. They would have either a crosier or a processional cross behind their shield. A priest has a black fiocchi and is allowed either two or four black tassels to hang at the side.

Popes generally have either the real or probable coat of arms or, more recently, have the ones that they chose when they became an archbishop. For all the motto appear in Latin in a banner below the arms.

Next week: Some examples of Church heraldry.