Thursday, November 29, 2007


It is 2:45 in the morning and I can't get back to sleep. I heard a noise that sounded like something falling over in my quarters but when I turned the light on there was nothing there. I took the occasion to use the little Monsignor's room and when I came back my room was lit up like a Christmas tree - well, a blue and red one at least.

It turns out that there a had been a rather spectacular accident out front. A telephone pole had been snapped off from it's base and a car was laying on its side in our front lawn. I dressed in warm but not very fashionable clothes and headed out with my oils. Because of the telephone pole situation the whole street was blocked off with flares and various vehicles with flashing lights. (Wow! more keep coming even now. I hope this many people come to morning mass.)
They weren't too thrilled about a person (I didn't look too much like a priest) coming on the scene because of the telephone pole situation. But I was able to ask a kindly fireman if anybody needed anointing. Despite the terrible crash scene, the only person involved was sitting quite placidly on the curb. Praise God.

(The wrecker is on the scene now and cones are set up so that some traffic can go by now on this main road.)

First of all, thank God for the men and woman who work at this hour for just such emergencies. Blessings on you policemen, firemen, EMEs, wrecker drivers and the like. Thank you that I can go back to bed while you are out there capably dealing with this mess. (Darn, I missed the car being flipped back on its wheels.)

And secondly, like the commercial says, "Life comes at you fast, make sure you are ready for it." (Here comes the power line people. God bless you too.) Please get to confession.


This was going up on Sunday and I realized it was going to be too late. Now that I am up I'll tell you now.

GKCleveland - pass on the good news! News from the Cleveland, Ohio Chesterton club. FIRST meeting December 2nd at 2pm at John Carroll University Library. Meet us for a tour of the GKC archives and afterwards for coffee. Enter JCU at South Belvoir veer left around campus. Look for Grasselli library and parking on the campus great maps can be found here: For more info, contact Matthew Lewis

Okay *YAWN*, back to bed.


It is time for the oft-neglected stepchild of the liturgical calendar to make his appearance. Poor advent, the middle child stuck between the ever-dependable ordinary time child and the exuberant Christmas child. When he comes into the room he sits so quietly in the corner that he is almost not noticed at all. It’s not that he is disliked; he is just so – well – adventy. Who can compare to his big brother Christmas? He is the quiet, studious one who seems often lost in a book in a corner while his older, outgoing, good looking brother, the star of the football team and all around good guy (though maybe he parties just a wee bit too much) brings a celebration with him wherever he goes.

The worst part for advent is that his brother is always showing up earlier than he says he will. In fact, he shows up earlier and earlier every year. Advent comes home hoping to have a quiet conversation, be a little reflective only to find his more popular brother already arrived having decorated for a party and mixing the rum punch. “Hey lil’ advent, have a cup of this and tell me what you think. And get out of that purple and wrap a little tinsel around your head.”

It’s hard being the middle, forgotten, stepchild. But he has so much to offer. “Still waters run deep” so the saying goes. He is the intellectual side of the family. He gives the partying his big brother promotes meaning and hope. He is quiet, but he has so much to say to someone who will take the time to sit with him and listen.

It is hard to say no to Christmas with his hardy laugh and his constant temptations to stop yabbing so much and get on with the party. But resist him. Hold him back at least a little. He’s a big boy he can handle it. He won’t go away. He might pout, but it will be good for him. Invite advent to take center stage for just a little bit. Listen to what he has to say. He loves his big brother and his joyful anticipation can infect you. In fact, getting to know him better, you get to understand his big brother better and all will be closer because of it.

Really. He is an Okay kid. Spend some time with him.


Dear fellow Catholics,

You count. Your thoughts matter. You are not an anomaly. You are a United States citizen and your beliefs on how the country should governed are just as legitimate as anybody else’s. There is no such thing as some neutral belief system that is open to all. All positions have a mandated way of living that comes with it’s own set of theological presuppositions that in the public realm are no less tenable than your own. You are not betraying an American ideal by voting, living, promoting what you believe true even though it stems from your faith.

A news program recently on public radio made the distinction between acceptable public opinion verses privately held beliefs. This distinction is a fallacy. You are the public and you have an opinion. This subtle distinction makes it appear as though there are generally acceptable beliefs one may have as a public figure and other views which must be held privately in your own little corner of the world. Poppycock. The reason you believe as you do is because you believe that there is a right way to live that will bring the most benefit to those around you. That your beliefs run along the lines of the Catholic Church makes your stance no less tenable. It is either right or it is not. (You either really believe it or you do not.)

If someone challenges your position as being from a privately held belief, challenge them on that statement. First, since when is it wrong to have strong convictions about how the country should be run? Secondly, that the statement was made shows that they have theory of how the country should be run that mimics very much a religious standpoint which then should be deemed every bit as unallowable. There are no “neutral” standpoints. That is a fallacy.

Being Catholic is not something you do, it is who you are. As a Catholic your voice is as valid as any other voice in this democracy. Do not be intimidated into thinking that you are somehow intruding on the American game with your active vote or that your belief system is any less worthy than those who think otherwise. Challenge that sentiment! In this land you have a vote – YOUR vote – and it represents what you believe. Don’t be talked out if it!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


One of the better compliments that you can give a priest is telling him some months after a given homily that it has been on your mind. People may say that they enjoyed a homily on the way out of the church, sometimes as a matter of rote – I’ve had people tell me that even when I wasn’t even the one preaching – or that they like a priest’s homilies in general. But that something sparked a period of thought in your life, or caused some discussion among your family members, or is a thought that stuck with you over the past month or so, letting him know that is a compliment. It says that what he said was worth saying and was listened to and that it had some effect.

A priest sees little of the effects of much of his ministry. He might help someone out of a jam or a spiritual problem and when the problem is gone, so is the person. The priest is not needed anymore. Many a newly engaged couple is so happy Father so and so would do their wedding, but rare is the couple that comes to mass a few month after the honeymoon to say thanks or to say, “Things are going great with us! We are so happy to be married!”

This is not by way of complaint! A good formation program prepares its future priests with the warning that you will not see the results of much of your work. It goes with the territory and reminds the priest that what happens in the life of a Christian is not so much his work as it is that of the Holy Spirit. In other words, get over yourself.

But it is a good thing to keep in mind when you are contemplating mentioning a matter of faith to someone. Who knows what seed you might plant? Even if you are rebuffed, will the thought start to germinate? You might never know what even a little action on your part might blossom in another individual.

Take this example. One of the reasons many men give who thought of the priesthood but did not enter the seminary is that nobody ever suggested it to them. They did not feel the community thought them worthy. When I was a very young alter boy I used to come off of the sanctuary during morning mass and one or the other of the very old ladies would hand me a dollar from time to time and say, “Some day you would make a great priest.” I would say thank you very much and pocket the dollar.

But it worked.
Well, it played a huge roll in my thinking about the priesthood. And those ladies would have never known the effect of their actions. But it doesn’t matter. They acted. They trusted. And so must we.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: "Christ did not suffer, die, and resurrect so that we might have coping skills, but that we could be set free." Christopher West.

QUOTE II - "Still, how could you possibly tell if you're paranoid when worrying about being paranoid is a symptom of paranoia?" - Jess Walter


I was going through some old files and came across this that a girl-friend gave me in high school. Imagine still having it after all these years.

Monday, November 26, 2007


That anyone would have a negative reaction to the title of this post is not the work of God or the Church but of the devil. It is a gift from God and a powerful one at that. It is beautiful, unifying. It changes the face of the earth.

Think how powerful it is. It creates life! It creates entire peoples. Contracept one sexual union between your father and mother and you would not have been born. Go back one more generation and your parents nor your brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews would have been born. Go back one more generation and contracept just one more sexual union and your great grandmother or grandfather would not have been born, none of your Aunts and Uncles, nor your cousins (and their kids) would have been born. Beyond that the number of people can become staggering. What a powerful thing!

When the Church teaches that sex should be saved for marriage, it is not because it is dangerous or dirty or a tool of the devil, but because it is beautiful and powerful and God provides us a way whereby we can engage in sex in the environment in which it is best lived out.

It is interesting to look at the statistics and for premarital sex and cohabitation. Just look at the first page of a search on Google. There reports of divorce rates are three times higher than for couples who wait for marriage. Two other good articles are here and here. The one that suggests anything remotely different is one that says that as long as the only sexual union is with the future husband things may be Okay. It does go on to say however that more than one partner raises the results back through the roof. So if you date someone and have sex (and the average length of relationship is 21 days once sex enters in) the chances are great that the relationship will end and that automatically puts you into the multiple partner relationship category if you ever have sex again.

So why risk it? If you knew that eating Chinese food was bad for your and your partner’s soul and that you raised your chances of divorce in the scores of percentiles you would avoid Chinese restaurants like the plague. There we touch on the why the Church teaches as she does. She wants you to be successful. She wants your relationship to last. She cherishes your marriage. She wants your love to be life long. Do want it too? Statistically and faithfully she teaches the way to do it.

“But our love is different.” So everyone thinks. I hope it is. But why risk it? Rather risk success. Risk being statistically life long partners. Risk chastity. Risk holiness. Give God the benefit of the doubt. Risk offering your spouse holiness. Risk loving to that extent. Risk it all and risk less.


(What we are doing as a society is not working!)

1. Of the 2.3 million marriages in 2006, about half (53%) take place in a religious setting.
2. The average cost of a wedding is $27,500.
3. Married households are barely above 50%. Of the U.S. 111 million households, 52% are now made up of married couples with and without children.
4. 25th Wedding Anniversary becoming more rare. There is less than a 50% chance that couples currently married will reach their 25th anniversary.
5. Divorce Rate continues about 50%. While the average divorce rate is 50%, it is 40% for first marriage, 60% for second marriages and 73% for third marriages.
6. The seven year itch continues. Couples separate on the average seven years after marriage and divorce after eight.
7. Over 90% of people get married once. But those marrying are waiting until they are older and they are less likely to remarry following a divorce. Rate of Cohabitation Escalates. Over 6 million couples now cohabit, a dramatic increase from only 500,000 cohabiting couples in 1970.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Under the same management since 33AD. (3:40)

Periucundum est Catholicum esse!


The above video is from Love to be Catholic. Looks like lots of cool things to discover there.

Jay reports that Catholic Carnival 146 is up and running over at We Belong to the Lord.

Vincenzo, out of the generosity of his blogger's heart, recreated Kay's header for Adam's Ale. I hope you all like it as much as I do and thank you Vincenzo!

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Doors play a strong symbolic role in the life of a Christian. It is symbolic of the entrance to the gates of heaven to which Peter had been given the keys. Often you will notice that the front doors of cathedrals are as ornate as the high altar, well, at least they were, as their symbolic use reminded those going to mass that they were entering into God’s house. Pictured here is the ornamentation over the door at a shrine in Barcelona.

There is also the tradition of the Jubilee Year and the opening of the door at St. Peter’s in Rome. For more information look here.

But even still more interesting are the doors in the place where you live. Dr. Paul Daum who was one of my professors when I was in school to study set design told the story of a set he had designed for which he received a lot of criticism. The play involved a Jewish family living in a Jewish town. “Notice the doors,” he told us. “You would never see these doors in a building built to accommodate people of the Jewish faith.”

The doors did not look any different than any doors that I had ever seen, but then he explained the symbolism to us. According to him, the long board down the center and the narrower cross board represents the cross of our Lord. The lower cross board with is much wider than the others is an open Bible.

Even if it is not true, it should be.

A second common door in the places we live is called a “witch’s door”. Many aluminum storm doors have this shape to them. The bottom half of the door has an “X” through it. This is Saint Andrew’s cross. At one time St. Andrew was depended upon to protect people from witches. His cross was a marker of his presence and intercession where people who wanted nothing to do with witches lived.

Friday, November 23, 2007


C. S. Lewis Once wrote, “A young man who wishes to remain an atheist cannot be too careful of his reading,” meaning, of course, if engaged too heavily with God and His truth he risked being converted. I would suppose the opposite to be equally as valid. “The person who wishes to remain a true son or daughter of God cannot be too careful of his entertainment.” This would explain the recent brouhaha in blog posts and forwarded Emails and the like over Philip Pullman’s book made movie, “The Golden Compass.”

Apparently the dark warnings of the intent of the movie are entirely well based and for this reason I intend on not seeing this film. But the usual argument for seeing the movie from Christians of all stripes is already being heard as regularly as the Salvation Army donation bells, “But how can I know and make up my own mind that it is bad unless I see the movie?” I do not think I have heard this argument from anyone who has ever walked out on a movie.

I grant you that it looks very attractive. If there were no such background information on the movie it would be on the top of my list of things to go see. That is a temptation too much to bear for many Christians especially when, “But Daddy, I really want to see it!” is thrown into the mix.

Forget all the arguments. In the end it comes down to love. We are to be in a true and loving relationship with God. If this were a make believe story about a parallel universe in which your spouse, or mother, or sister were villainized and defeated as the source of evil in the world would you still go see it? Would you allow your kids to? “But they are going to see it anyway.” Perhaps. But not by your hand.

But enough of that. That trash is already occupying too much of our valuable life.


On the more positive note here are a few recommendations for your entertainment:

Of course the movie Bella is still out. Make a statement with your entertainment dollars. Let the powers that be know how you wish to be entertained and how you will spend your entertainment dollars!

Swimming with Scapulars: True Confessions of a Young Catholic” is a great read. My cousin bought it for me and though a good read for any thoughtful Catholic, it might be of particular note to young men who are or who are contemplating the life of a Catholic husband, father, son of God. Mathew Lickona shares his thoughts about the struggles of balancing what the world demands of us and what we owe to God. Poignant, humorous, honest, and orthodox, it is a nice bolster in the faith. Though an easy read it remains thought provoking and a book with which the average Joe can relate and find inspiration. Fr. Benedict Groeschel said, “Swimming with Scapulars shatters many stereotypes. If you have been wondering about the emergence of an informed and sophisticated group of orthodox young Catholics who take the spiritual life seriously, this book reveals this fascinating group.” Loyola Press 2005.

Finally, do you have a long commute? Tired of the banal offerings on the radio? Consider ordering a course from “The Teaching Company.” Finding some of the topics tantalizing (and on sale) several courses were ordered. There were the usual fear that the classes would be like so many I have had at “Catholic” institutions, that is, presenting what the Church teaches with a some obligatory passivity and then moving on to that which challenges the Church at every turn singing the praises of some supposed higher human endeavor. I can only take so much of that. As it turns out, though this is not a Catholic Company, whenever they deal with the Catholic Church it is done fairly and to an extent that is much more true to Church teaching than many Catholic courses I have taken.

The classes reviewed thus far have been on Saint Augustine, C. S. Lewis, and a history of the popes and the papacy. They are well presented, interesting, informative, and at times intriguing enough to cause the need to drive around the block once more. (The last third of the C.S. Lewis series would perhaps work much better as a review immediately after reading the works mentioned in the course however.) Perhaps the biggest drawback is the cost, but there are always classes on sale and several hours of courses can be purchased for about $20.


Here is a short post to entertain you just a bit before the turkey sends you to sleep.

Making Fiends Thanksgiving special is here! "So much foolishness . . . and such close quarters."

This is weird video and I don't understand it, but it does make me laugh. I don't think it means anything. Warning: If you do not care for insipid mindlessness, avoid at all costs.

And Kay sends in this THANKSGIVING DAY quiz.

On this Thanksgiving Day, O Lord, I ask you to bless all the people who read this blog and inspire them with Your Holy Spirit. Give them a spirit of thankfulness and let them know that I appreciate their visits. Amen

God bless!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


The Catholic Church can be seen by many, including members from within her walls, as being antiquated and discriminatory in its view that the ordained priesthood should be reserved to men. I wonder how many people have left their home in the Catholic Church for another denomination based in large part on this topic.

Sunday night St. Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology in the Diocese of Cleveland held their annual Mullen Lecture in which Missionary of the Blessed Sacrament Sister Sara Butler, a member of the Vatican’s International Theological Commission, discussed “The Ordination of Women and the Witness of Tradition.” Formally a strong believer in the ordination of women, Sr. Butler has come not only to accept but also to believe in the Church’s teaching that the ordained priesthood should be reserved to men and that the Church has no authority to do otherwise. There is not enough room here to report everything that she said, but allow me to give the basic argument.

In the Old Testament there is no evidence of women offering sacrifices as a mandate from God. There is a similar lack in the New Testament. Even Mary was not chosen for the priesthood for whom it would have been most fitting. Of course, priesthood is not a reward, and so we take this a step further in noting that Jesus had among his personal companions and disciples many women and he did not pick from them either. In His freedom to choose as He desired He reserved this parituclar office to men and it was not from lack of candidates who were female, worthy, and capable. So the question becomes if the quality of being male in representing Christ is essential to state of the priesthood (as opposed to looking at the mere function of the priesthood.) Is it an indispensable factor such a water being necessary for baptism or bread and wine being needed for the Eucharist? It is the constant and universal Tradition of the Church that this is so. No women were chosen to replace the apostles as bishops or priests and neither has it occurred in the history of the Church that such a thing has happened and been sanctioned. When it did happen it was immediately and universally condemned as was with the case of the two women who were “ordained to the Catholic priesthood” this past Sunday. We actually do not recognize anything as actually having taken place. The two retain the same status they had as before the ordination.

Now, the talk did not touch on the “why” of the question, just the “that”. And it is the case that the Church has consistently believed and taught that it has no authority to do differently in this regard and the strongest argument comes from that Tradition. Scripture alone cannot completely support a male only priesthood (which might show why there is such a difference in the Protestant theology.) Sacred Tradition, which testifies to the unyielding witness to this belief, plays a fundamental role and cannot be ignored in Catholic theology. All arguments to the contrary, and there are some very good arguments, will ultimately come to rest up against this obstacle and it would be dangerous to ignore the importance of Tradition for Catholics as it is one of the fundamental pillars of the Church. Destroying the pillar in this instance risks destroying it in all instances.

In the end we see the male priesthood as being instituted by Christ and that we have maintained His will from Apostolic times on, which has been testified to by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church, by Scripture, and upheld consistently by the magisterium.

If you would like to read more on the topic, you might want to pick up Sr. Butler’s book, “The Catholic Priesthood and the Ordination of Women.”

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: "The immediate advantage of chastity was a sense of control." From Dawn Eden's "The Thrill of the Chaste."

QUOTE II - "In a vicious cycle, single women feel lonely because they are not loved so they have casual sex with men who do not love them." ibid

QUOTE III - "Television hates you." ibid.


K.K. sent in an article from the Washington Post by Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts about Pope Benedict's highly anticipated visit to the United States. (Has it really been 28 years since a pope has visited?) Air Italia will fly him and his popemobile to the United States in order for him to have a visit on his 81st birthday (16 April) with president and Laura Bush. Listing some of the pope's particular likes it mentions that he likes to play the piano for ten minutes a day, likes cats, and Fanta Orange Soda.

Kay sent this in concerning the possibility of Catholics and Orthodox uniting.

In one recent study, Lyndhurst, Ohio, home of Adam's Ale, was determined to be the 28th best place to live in the United States. Now, don't get me wrong, I love where I live. But this makes me think that if this is just about as good as it gets, a)I feel sorry for a lot of you out there and b) heaven is looking better an better.

I guess all that schooling didn't pay off.

cash advance

Cash Advance Loans

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Humility, humility, and ever more humility.

Toward the end of Miracle on 34th Street we see a little girl in the back seat of a car saying about Santa, “I do believe, I do believe, it’s silly, but I do believe*,” and her persistence pays off when Santa makes her wishes come true. That is a bit how I handled prayer for my father.

I’ve shared in past that my father has no time for religion. When I said I wanted to go into the seminary he said that, “Religion is for weak people.” I could count on one hand the number of times he has been in church. If you stuck the word “voluntarily” in that sentence, I would not even need one hand.

I don’t tell you this simply to defame my father but to tell you never to give up on prayer. I prayed for my father daily for years. At one point it became apparent that he had Alzheimer’s and had to go into the nursing home. I asked him occasionally if I could anoint him and he steadfastly refused. I resorted to bribing another priest to try his best at it thinking it might just be me, but no.

I continued to pray for him but as half heartedly as the girl in “Miracle,” “I do believe God can move mountains, I do believe God can move mountains, it’s silly, but do believe God can move mountains.” Once he entered more deeply into Alzheimer’s I figured that it was too late. Before when he was rational there might have been an opportunity but now, even if he did at some enlightened moment decide that he wanted to get to know God a little better, two seconds later he would thoroughly forget the desire and anything about which we had talked. I stated this publicly from the pulpit.

Still people would say that they were praying for him. I would smile and say thank you and figure even it were a waist of time at least people were praying and maybe God could apply it somebody else or something.

It turns out that the one who needed conversion was I. I am the one who needed to be reminded of the power of prayer. My Dad had to go to the hospital for a relatively minor “incident” and my sister and I were sitting with the anxious Alzheimer’s patient in his room. “I could anoint you Dad if you think it might help or make you feel better.” I was waiting for the blow off when he said, “Yeah. Sure!” After my sister and I scooped our jaws up off of the floor we engaged in the sacrament as quickly as possible just in case the moment might pass. But he stuck with us through the whole thing even fumbling through the Our Father with us. Minutes later sitting in the glow of being able to give my Father what I believed was one of the most valuable gifts that I could give him I was in for an even greater shock. After some quiet time had passed he offered a very sincere thank you. A thank you from a man who at times cannot remember that there was a person in a room 10 seconds after they leave.

I do believe in prayer.

Thank you.

*Or it is close to this. I’m sure someone out there knows the exact quote.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Nick Arnette is a hilarious Christian comedian. Here is a clip of his stand-up act. (5 minutes)

If you would like to see more of his work look here.


The Curt Jester uncovered this great site for Pope Benedict XVI.

I.E. sends a report in from Eduardo Verastegui that movie theater companies have doubled the number of venues in which Bella is being shown. Consider going with your family over this Thanksgiving weekend!


A continuation of a look at icons.

To those in the west, particularly those who have not had much contact with or understanding of icons, they can be seen as, well, ugly. In any even, they are certainly not of the same ilk as westernized art that has tended to be sumptuous and somewhat realistic. But icons are not intended to appeal to our senses in the same way that Western art has tended to do. They are trying to do something different.

Rather than copy the world, there is a spiritual reality that is trying to be brought to the fore. Rhythm and pattern replace material reality, dogma is emphasized over faith, and anatomy is by and large ignored. It is the concept that is important, not the appearance.

Detail is minimal. Only that which is indispensable for understanding is retained. This is the ideal world transfigured by faith. In this world there is no such thing as perspective. Size has more to do with the importance of the persons depicted rather than how far or near they are to the viewer. Time becomes relative as before and after can be seen together and the supernatural light in which they are bathed casts no shadows. The flatness of the figures takes us out of world of bodies. However these are not attempts of art that are more primitive thereby causing these aberrations, but highly calculated symbolic art that has a definite message to get across.

Icons are read much the same way that statues are read (top to bottom) though some of the symbolic language may be different. For example it is sometimes difficult to tell if a person is inside or outside a building. A general rule of thumb is if there is a cloth draped over the buildings in the background the person pictured is inside. If not, they are outside. Also, notice Mary is always pictured with Jesus. If Jesus is not in the icon with Mary He is depicted in an icon to her left. It might be handy to pick up a book on icons if you want to know more about their unique symbolic code.

If you have the opportunity to go to a Divine Liturgy or to visit an Eastern Rite parish, you will notice an icon screen between the nave of the church and the sanctuary. In the Roman Church this became the altar rail while in the East there developed an iconostasis. This is a kind of wall or screen on which there may be a number of icons. Remembering from last week that to look on an icon is to be looking on and contemplating the heavenly realm, one can appreciate the beauty of gazing upon this while the celebration of the Church is making present the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity during the Divine Liturgy, Jesus descending from heaven and coming to his people as it were.

I am afraid that I am not an expert on icons and I’ve almost exhausted everything that I know about them over the past couple of weeks. But I hope it gives you some insight into the special and very important aspect of the Catholic faith.

Friday, November 16, 2007


The only person who complains more about money being spoken of from the pulpit is the pastor who has to do it. As good and earnest a shepherd of souls a pastor may be, he is usually very bad at finding the right way to ask for resources to run the parish. But it is none-the-less his responsibility (canonically) to make sure that the parish remains solvent. As one bishop of the United States currently states to his new pastors, "Listen and pay attention to your people. But if there is a problem there is only one butt I am going to kick and it is yours."

Parishes are horribly expensive places to run. You know this, you have residences to maintain. Is it not ridiculous? Think for a moment then if you didn't have to maintain just one or two bathrooms, but 32. To give you an idea of why parishes are so expensive to run here are some interesting statistics that our maintenance man gave me this morning:

Saint Clare is slightly larger than average sized parish with a school, rectory, and convent. These buildings are getting to be about half a century old which of course means so is the plumbing. Those 32 bathrooms include 73 toilets, 20 urinals, and 54 sinks. There must be someone paid to clean and stock them, paper products need to be purchased to keep them stocked, and regular plumbing bills are incurred for a system that is so heavily used and antiquated. In addition there are 54 slop sinks, 7 bathtubs, 10 boilers, and 9 hot water tanks (one of which just blew up about a month ago. I know, I had to push all the hot water out into the parking lot from the school gym.)

Of course there are the horror stories of pastors who cannot speak if anything but money or waists it terribly, but in general that does not de-legitimize (is that a word?) a pastor of a parish speaking of financial matters. Scriptures are packed with money matters. So please consider these things the next time you hear a pastor speaking about money matters from the pulpit: 1) It is his responsibility and duty to do so, 2) He hates it as much as you (which may come across as anger) 3) He is not speaking just to you, but to his parish family as a whole about a general problem (or blessing - but I doubt that is case the for most of you), 4) he has no place else to turn for moneys to keep up all of the services and facilities going if the collection should fail to cover them.

Take that for what it is worth. It just seemed it might be helpful to have a glimpse on what is going on on the other side of an appeal.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Say you are walking down the street or surfing on your computer and you come across something that is a great temptation to you – porn – drugs – gossip – over indulgence – anger – (insert your own temptation here) – why might you turn away? One reason might be because you were taught, “Don’t.” “Don’t do this or you will go to hell or suffer punishment.” This may be absolutely true, something we need to know it and hear about, but it is hard to sustain a virtuous life simply avoiding things.

Think of it this way: say you were to get married. What if instruction in marriage were all about avoiding things. “You cannot murder her. You cannot cheat on her. You cannot make her do all of the chores around the house. You cannot leave the toilet seat up. Etc. etc. etc.” How tiring would it be to spend the next fifty years constantly focusing on the negative – what you can’t do?

A spiritual director I once had talked about the body not hearing negatives. Golfers will understand this. If your ball is laying with a perfect shot between it and the hole with a tree just off to the left and you say to yourself, “Don’t hit that tree, don’t hit that tree, don’t hit that tree,” you will hit that tree though you wouldn’t be able to hit it with the next fifteen intentional shots. That is because the body only hears, “Hit that tree.” Similarly ethics taught solely via negative can provide many problems. Only teaching a list of “don’ts” can provide a list of possible things to do.

So say you were walking down the street or surfing on your computer and you come across something that is a great temptation to you and you choose not to indulge in it because you love. It is like in marriage, you don’t have to be told, “Don’t murder her or cheat or make her do all the chores,” because you would never dream of doing those things out love for her. In the spiritual life we reach a higher realm of love of our Creator if we avoid sin because of our love for Him. How much easier it is to avoid sin if we do so not because we were told, “don’t”, but out of the true gift of Fear of the Lord. That is: not wanting to do anything that will place something between my Father and me.

Of course, we do have to teach “don’ts”. And we can’t fall into the “God loves you and will bring you to heaven no matter what” mentality of the 70’s and 80’s. The middle way is to engage in a loving relationship with our Father. Strive both to avoid faith as a science of sin or of mindless a love fest, but of a true relationship in truth. This is not an "easy way" to do faith, it is very difficult when done correctly. But it is also the whole point of our faith.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Perhaps the reason some people find more solace in science over religion is because science is understood in some circles to deal with fact or the finding of truth while faith and religion is largely about conjecture and opinion.

Popular science has its ups and downs of course. Oleo, the once touted miracle replacement for the dangers of butter is now considered one of the worst things you can put in your body. Wine and dark chocolate are now good for you. And being skinny is no longer healthy nor a preventative from certain diseases and in fact may not allow you to recover as quickly from certain conditions well. (*sigh*) But at its best, science is a search for truth: to show us how to best live in this world.

In contrast to this the Catholic faith is often seen by many as much more theoretical and that the conclusions drawn from the teachings of the faith nice, but perhaps not facts of living. Those guys in Rome make up some rules for one ideal way of life, but they are not the only way to live.

So a person comes to my office and wants to discuss marriage or their relationships, or what have you and I present the Church’s teaching (I think well and interestingly – but then again, I don’t have to sit through it) and I can see the message in their eyes, “I hear you, I know this, it is nice, but I don’t buy it – at least for me. My kids will darn it! But not me.”

But in fact all the rules and laws and regulations (one of the worst ways to teach the faith by the way – more on that another day) are not ideals thought up by Vatican. They are not the teaching of the Vatican. They are rather mined from Revelation of Jesus Christ. They are discovered and taught, not invented and legislated. They are not the Vatican’s laws but our faith. And it is not taught simply to point a person to an ideal or nice direction, but to provide for them a way to live that is most authentic to their being, that will provide the best way of living in order to bring a person a most satisfying and/or fulfilling life as well as glory in the life to come.

When something in the Catholic Church is taught de fide, it is a discovery of truth, not of largely agreeable conjecture. To live by it is to bring about the greatest good just like living the truths of science (when truth and science are correctly informing each other) to find the right way of living in this world. When one ignores the laws of physics, they do so to their own peril. When one ignores the revelations of Jesus Christ, they do so not only to the detriment in their life on earth, but also in the life to come.

In the end it is not about making God happier (He can’t be happier) or winning people over to our side (it’s not about winning), but helping everyone live authentic, well-balanced lives. That is what truth is about.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


And now . . .

From the singing bell tower of the Church of Saint Clare in the beautiful Diocese of Cleveland, center of culture and faith on the shores of the mighty Lake Erie, it’s:


And I am your Host, Father Valencheck and welcome to Adam’s Ale.

PRAYER: First up Brian at Silent Insite provides us with A Simple Prayer Format. Are you having trouble getting a prayer life together? Looking to breath new life into what you are doing? Check out this excellent article.

OUTREACH: Here is an interesting invitation: J. over at The So Called Me admits to Catholic Carnivalists that she is an atheist and looking for some comments about her situation in Children Choosing Religion. This might be a good opportunity for Carnivalers to reach out to her and offer her some kind words if she should be searching.

IRONY: Red Neck Woman over at Postscripts from the Catholic Spitfire Grill brings to our attention interesting comments made at Willow Creek Community Church and what she would like to add as the logical end of the thoughts.

WORLD EVENTS: Here is a letter a dad wrote to his daughter for her confirmation retreat on Extraordinary Time.

PRESENTATION: Deep Furrows provides this video of Msgr. Albacete speaking for Image: A Journal of the Arts and Religion.

LIFE AFTER DEATH: Catholic Land! "A place where you can revel in the JOY of being Catholic" has a timely post about purgatory during this month in which we are called to pray for the Poor Souls. Purgatory Defined.

APPRECIATING THE MASS: In a world that (perhaps all too legitimately) we find more time to complain about masses than praying and enjoying them, Christine provides us this great article Pray for Me to the Lord Our God over at Domestic Vocation.

SCRIPTURE STUDY: In Expecto Resurrectionem Mortuorum Kevin gives us a deeper insight into Sunday's readings than would have been possible to do in a Sunday Homily. Enjoy Heart Mind and Strength.

PARENTING: Heidi over at Mommy Monsters Inc. provides us with heart warming story of being an adoptive parent in Sounds of Sweetest Praise.

FIGHTING STRESS: Melissa testifies to the power of the mass when in our daily trial we let it touch us. A Warm Spot for Cold Hearts is a bright spot on A Third Way.

SCHOOL: Maria laments the fact that God is being taken out of our public School in When God Is Absent in Fitchburg.

FAITH: Adoro Te Devote reminds us that, "there is no greater glory to offer to God than to abandon ourselves and our entire lives into His loving hands." Here is some worthy spiritual reflection entitled What Do You Seek When You Dream of Happiness?

SACRAMENTS: What is needed when one attends the sacrament? The right attitude helps tremendously says Barb in Confession over at SFO Mom.

CHURCH AND STATE: Denise poses the question, "The Diocese of Washington DC has decided to convert seven of its grade schools into city charter schools. The diocese will still run these schools but they will remove all religious symbols and discontinue daily prayer in order to qualify for city funds. Is this an appropriate decision?" Read more in Another Twist in the Catholic School Discussion over at Catholic Matriarch in My Domestic Church aka Catholic Mom.

MINISTRIES: What are all the inherit responsibilities of persons who act as ministers at the mass? Ebeth explores this question in depth in A Word about the Mass Celebrated by the People over at A Catholic Mom Climbing the Pillars.

FUNNY PAGES: If you need a little chuckle, join Domini Sumus over at We Belong to the Lord in Toddler Theology.

HELP WANTED: At Kicking Over My Traces we are told of "A valuable online resource for Catholic education is in need of funds."

LOVE AND LIVING: "A reflection of married love, the yearning for romance and intimacy, and how this applies within the "Bride of Christ." Find out more from Heidi's post A Partnership of Love over at Streams of Mercy.

SURPRISED BY LOVE: Sarah reflects that, even though she has never been a baby person, she has been blessed with babies...and in the midst of it, she has even enjoyed the babies! Read more about Baby People on Just Another Day of Catholic Pondering.

ELECTIONS: "The Bishop's forthcoming statement on the responsibility of voters will, properly, focus on human life issues. It should also concentrate on the just war issues," says Herb in his post Poor Intelligence, (Un)Just War, the Bishops and Veterans on his site HerbEly.

SAINTS: Jean writes about Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity and her unique spirituality revealed through some of her quotes which provides challenges for all of us. Jean writes to us from Catholic Fire.

ENTERTAINMENT: Christus Vincit has this comment about the Disney Channel on Disney Gone Bad.

PHYSICS: How do we show that something is absurd? Take it to the level of absurdity that makes it clear. See how in Stop Telling me That I Am Going to Drown at Play the Dad Be the Dad.

EUCHARIST: And here is a great way to end Catholic Carnival 145, with a reflection on the Eucharist. Bryan pays tribute to Big Jesus on his blog Bryan Murdaugh.

And that is a wrap! Thank you for your submissions and for stopping by!

Submit your blog article to the next edition of Catholic Carnival using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Attention shoppers; Due to the Catholic Carnival opening here tomorrow and all our workers are busy setting up the tents and baking the poticas and sausages, preparing the games and setting up the stage for the band, today we will present Quote Tuesday in place of the usual Monday post. Think of it as celebrating Ascention Thursday on Sunday.

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “’It is important for men to pray,’ said Mom. ‘To submit themselves to Christ.’ Everyone must bend his or her will, but this desire to clean up one’s own spiritual mess seems a more masculine failing. From a distance, the danger is easy to see: ‘It’s my problem, I’ll deal with it,’ leading to, ‘It’s my soul, I’ll sanctify it.’ No, you won’t” – from Matthew Lickona’s, “Swimming with Scapulars”

QUOTE II – “A fool makes the same mistake over and over. The wise man makes a new mistake each time.” - proverb


This was brought to my attention from over at The Curt Jester. It is a listing of orders that belong to the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious and provides all of the weblinks. Very inspiring!

Would you like some support in saying your rosary? Here is a podcast to help!

This was so stolen from Catholic in a Small Town, but I liked it so there.