Friday, February 29, 2008


Critical Mass performs Your Mysterious Ways. (Under 5 minutes.)


If you missed it, this week's Catholic Carnival was at Adam's Ale. No kidding - if you have not taken a look there is a lot of good stuff there! Catholic Bloggers taking the message over the Internet!

Jack at 123 Greetings has asked me to let you know that they have Ecards with a Good Friday theme free for your use.

A number of you gave suggestions in reference to the post on praying the Liturgy of the Hours as to where you might find other (and sometimes vastly easier) sources from which to pray it. Theocoid and Mrs. T highly recommend Magnificat Magazine. It provides the daily prayers for you as well as other prayer resources. Sharon said that there is such a book as, "The Divine Office for Dummys" written by Madaline Pecora Nugent. Mrs. T and Rich recommend Universalis located to your right under "Liturgy of the Hours". Ebreviary is also located to your right.

Late entry - This morning Mark wrote to say that he has set up a whole site devoted to the Liturgy of the Hours! Here is another great site to help you pray the Divine Office.
Well, here is another quality site to give you some direction in praying the Liturgy of the Hours sent in by an anonymous commenter. (If you have been meaning to get started there is no lack of assistance. It is more rich out there than I realized!)

One last really cool site that Mrs. T points out is There are a couple of really cool things about this site. First is that it has a streaming video of a chapel where adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is taking place. That is just cool in and of itself. There is also a tab for devotions that will have, among other things, a link to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. "'s mission is that of increasing awareness and devotion to our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament. We also seek to bring the live image of His living Presence to the home bound, the workplace, and to remote areas around the world."

UPDATE: I just thought you sh0uld know that because of your response in comments, Emails, and in the pole connected to this post, this morning and last night I gave a pro-life homily. It was well recieved. Thanks you for your input.

(Today's picture is from Bock's Car.)

Thursday, February 28, 2008


If you took the quiz some weeks back you might have picked up from where liturgical vestments came, but there is also symbolic meanings attributed to them that we will start looking at today.

Though not all priests use them anymore, the amice would be, if used, the first vestment a priest would put on for mass. It is a white, rectangular piece of material with two long strings attached. The cloth part goes over the shoulders and tucks into the collar while the strings tie around the torso to hold it into place. Its use is to cover the collar and protect the alb but it symbolizes the helmet of salvation and is a sign of resistance against temptation.

This is the prayer that the priest may say when putting amice on: “Place, O Lord, on my head the helmet of salvation that I may overcome the assaults of the devil.”

The alb is a long white tunic reaching to the feet. It is jokingly referred to as liturgical underwear as it goes under all the other vestments. Its purpose is to cover all of one’s street clothes. The symbolic value should remind the wearer of the robe Herod had Christ dressed in when he was mocked. In this it further reminds us of His chastity, purity, and the eternal joy of those redeemed by His blood.

The prayer for the alb petitions God with the words, “Purify me, O Lord, from all stain and cleanse my heart, that, washed in the Blood of the Lamb, I may enjoy eternal delights.”

The cincture is essentially a belt. The cord wraps around the body and keeps the stole and the alb in place. This piece of vesture too has fallen out of use with many priests. It reminds us of the cords with which Christ was tied to the pillar for His scourging and symbolizes chastity, temperance, and self-restraint.

“Gird me, O Lord,” begs the prayer, “with the cincture of purity, and quench in my heart the fire of concupiscence, that the virtue of continence and chastity may remain in me.”


You know that there is an official energy bar for the Olympics and that your favorite sports team has an official airline, and there is also an official prayer of the Catholic Church. I love this prayer though I will admit I did not always. It was a drudgery for a long time but now it is as important to me as sitting down to eat (and sitting down to eat I take very, very seriously.)

It is called the Liturgy of the Hours. Clergy and religious are required to pray it daily and it is highly recommended that ALL Catholics pray it. It consists of five parts and is prayed throughout the day, sanctifying the day and keeping us united in mind of God. There is of course Morning Prayer (Lauds) and Evening Prayer (Vespers), which are the most important of the lot. They are the hinges upon which all the other prayers turn. They consist of psalms and canticles, readings, responsorials, petitions, and the Our Father. Midday Prayer is much shorter but similar. Night Prayer (Compline), which is my favorite, leads us off to sleep and ends with placing ourselves in the care of the Blessed Virgin. There is also the Office of Readings, which can float around and be said at any time including the night before.

You might not think so but this can be difficult to work into your schedule. That is why they give us such a long time in the seminary to get used to it before we take a vow to pray it daily.

Sometimes there is a great temptation to skip it. We used to study for tests late into the night (well, morning actually) and someone would say, “Why don’t we skip Night Prayer tonight?We’ve got to get this done.” But experience taught us to do otherwise. We found that if we stopped for prayer work went more smoothly and more quickly. If we did not stop the work would drudge on more painfully and longer.

It is also a tricky thing to catch on as to the “how” of it. My suggestion is to ask your parish priest if you could pray part of it with him one day to get the hang of it. (Ideally it is supposed to be prayed in public anyway.)

To get access to the prayer you could buy the four-volume set but unless you are into it and taking it very seriously I probably would not recommend that to you straight off. (It can be quite an expense.) There are a number of single volume versions the most popular probably being The Shorter Christian Book of Prayer. Then again Rich, who has started praying it with me, says that HERE is a daily post of the prayer and even better, HERE is a daily pod cast where you can pray it along and learn the ins and outs of the Church’s official prayer.

As it is supposed to be the public prayer of the Church you might also consider gather a few people to pray it. Even if you only did Night Prayer once a week in this way, the universal prayer of the Church would at least find some exposure to the very Body of Christ for which it was intended.

That being said, you probably pray a version of the Liturgy of the Hours now though perhaps you do not realize it. The Rosary is called the "Poor Man's Psalter" as the 150 Aves correspond to the number of psalms, the prayers that make up the majority of the prayes of the Liturgy of the Hours. It is said that in early times, the people wanting to pray as the monks did but not having the resources to do so would pray the Rosary, meditating on the Life of Christ, and uniting their prayers with the monks who chanted the Divine Office.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Perhaps you caught the note a couple of days ago explaining my entrapment in Akron from one of the storms that hit Ohio these past couple of days. As much as it made life difficult for some it must be admitted that it was a beautiful snow and so my sister suggested that we engage in an excursion to an old farm-turned-county park and take a turn about and catch the beauty of the winter’s day.

Take a look at these pinewoods. I love this little path through here. In the summer people hike down it and in the winter you can see two slick tracks with pin pricks on each side where cross country skiers dash around the old fields. Off to each side are the pad marks from many a walked dog. Yet about twenty years ago this was not but an old farmer’s field overrun with weeds. That is until the Girl Scouts came out one weekend and planted hundreds of twigs that came up to me somewhere on the low side of the space between my ankle and my knee.

Saying, “Some day this will be a wooded land where people will recreate and animals will find food and shelter,” I bet was of little comfort to the poor sweating little girls who labored out in the hot, treeless field; little children not having much appreciation for doing things that will bear fruit a generation away. Yet here is the stand of woods today. Do you suppose any of them ever remember that hot summer day? I wonder how many of them have ever returned to take a peek at the progress of their stand of trees. Perhaps many of those girls are married with tiny tots and have moved far away. But what a wonderful legacy they left behind. Their small effort produced so much joy for so many people for so long.

Faith works much the same way you know. Be not afraid to offer a small seed of faith to someone. Who knows what it might grow into?

In This Rock magazine Deacon Bill Turrentine speaks of how he was about as far away from believing in God as might be possible. One day, narrowly escaping grave injury in a climbing accident one of his buddies jokingly asked him, “Do you believe in God now?” It was a fairly innocuous comment with out much punch from a man of faith. Yet that tiny seed over time grew into a mighty faith that brought him to God and even into the deaconate in the Church.

Do not hold back on small acts of faith and witnessing. Who knows what blessings they will bring to others later on down the road? You may never see the result. One must simply have faith that God will magnify your efforts if He is given some amount of effort to build upon.


Two years ago Fr. B and Fr. O and I were on retreat in New York with Fr. Benedict Groeschel FFR. We had to leave very early in the morning the day the retreat was supposed to end and Fr. Benedict bade us to come to his quarters (which to my eyes is an old stall in the carriage house where we stayed) so that he might give us some parting words.

It was bitterly cold outside and very early, around 5:30 AM, and Fr. Benedict was already up and working on a paper he was writing. He sat in a chair under the dim light of a floor lamp with papers in his lap. Most of what he said that morning I have forgotten but he did say, “I want you boys to start writing.” (He’s old enough he can still call me a boy and be spot on.) Then we knelt down and received his blessing for our trip.

We discussed at length what he might have meant by his exhortation and did not come to much of a conclusion (I have maintained that it was heavily directed to Fr. O, the brains of our operation,) though it seemed to have something to do with the joy we three have in being priests. The incident came to mind again recently when reading from a book that one of the priests with whom I live gave us. It is entitled, “Lent and Easter Wisdom from G. K. Chesterton”. Every day there is a little exercise that the authors suggest. This is one from last week:

“In your journal or on a piece of paper, draw a line down the middle of the page, splitting the page into two columns. On the left side, make a lost of things for which you are grateful. . . In the right-hand column, comment on these blessing, recording your thoughts of amazement, wonder, and joy.”

This I set off to do. On the left side I wrote down the first thing that came to mind. “Priesthood.” On the right side I started listing why I loved participating in the ordained priesthood of Jesus Christ. I never got around to writing another blessed thing on the left side because the right side kept demanding my attention in the listing of blessing that being a priest has given me. Here are some of the things that I wrote:

I believe in what I do. I wake in the morning and I am happy and look forward to doing the things that a priest is called upon to do. Even bad days are not bad days, they are difficult days and I know it has to do with a particular situation and not the priesthood. What a blessing it is to find joy in what you do and how you live life.

You might be inclined to thing that next thing on the list would be the confecting of the Eucharist. Not exactly so. I love that the priesthood keeps me close to the Eucharist but being the celebrant of the mass, at least at the canon of the mass I find daunting. Actually, it is Okay as long as I do not think on it too heavily. The sensation of being overwhelmed starts around the “Orate fratres” when the people respond, “May the Lord accept this sacrifice at your hands, for the praise and glory of His Name, for our good and the good of all His Church.” I think, “Wow, these people are entrusting me with this!” Then we move into the sacrifice proper. It is like being entrusted with carrying the most valuable and delicate work of art every day at the museum but more so! One cannot think too deeply on it at the time. That risks being rendered immobile at the wonder of it. Meditation on it, for me, is best done later.

Confession is of course awesome. Can you imagine being a dispenser of God’s mercy? What it is to be present when so much healing is occurring? I have so little to do with it and yet to be privileged, for some unimaginable reason, to be a witness it. Wow.

One of my past career paths was in the theater (nothing too fancy) and I loved it because I believe in art and its power to transform people. But I was not always able to control the message that went out. At times had to “preach” ideas that I thought degrading to human dignity and God's glory with as much gusto as those in which I did believe. Not so with the priesthood. Week in and week out I am afforded the chance to ask hundreds of people to stop and think about something I believe in with every ounce of my being and know can transform their lives.

I love that despite fixed marks on my schedule, every day is different. Every season is more different still. I love that part of my job is to work out my salvation; to grow spiritually and to grow in knowledge of something that gives me joy. Further, I belong to an organization that despite its faults I am confident in and proud of. In general I respect my superiors and trust them.

Because I am a priest I meet and am on friendly terms with people that I know I would not be if it were not for the Roman collar. I see amazing places that I would most likely never be able to see otherwise. I am not rich, I won’t be, but I live comfortably enough. Being a member of the clergy gives me the structure that I need to pray more than my fallen nature would fall into on its own I fear. I can go into the Church late at night with not but the moon beams through the stained glass window and the sanctuary lamp for light and pray before the Blessed Sacrament. And if truth be told, I like being able to go over to the gym and throw hoops when nobody else is around. Who has that available to them?

A wife and kids? I do think about that from time to time. My biggest worry has been that some day I might regret not having taken that route. Then I realized that every time I had thought it, I was happy and figured why should I not continue to be happy in the future? Every decision “for” means saying “no” to many other things no matter what one's life decisions are. I am happy with mine and choose not to dwell on what could have been for what is is so incredible to me. As a prayer from the same book mentioned above says, “Grant me wisdom to set for myself healthy limits. And let those limits set me free – free to enjoy what is instead of fettered over what might or might not be.”

I share this not so much to convince anyone into a priestly or religious vocation (unless you are so inclined) as much as to implore everyone to truly take the time to discern what it is God is calling you to. And that which he is calling you to is not what everyone else is doing or what people expect of you, but the holy path that best fits the aptitude He has given you. There is nothing worse that a priest who should not have been ordained, or a married person who should not have been married, or a single person who is bitter at their state. This is an anguished cry echoing out of the confessional. It was more accident than anything else that afforded me the time to discern and think. Do not leave it to chance! Ask God for guidance. Find out where He is leading you and may your discernment allow you too to wake up in the morning with joy, purpose, and meaning every day for the rest of your life!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


And now . . .

From the four corners of the Catholic Blogosphere to your computer it’s:

Catholic Carnival 161!

Welcome back to Adam’s Ale all you Catholic Carnivalers. There are a lot of attractions to see and read as the Carnival sets up here beneath the bell tower of Saint Clare Parish in beautiful (but quite cold) Cleveland, Ohio.

I must say that there is quite an incredible collection of posts this week. (Am I just acting like a proud parent of this carnival or is this bunch exceptional?) Either way, thank you for your submissions (and thanks Jay for having the Carnival stop by Adam's Ale) and enjoy reading C. C. 161. I think there is something here for just about everyone.

N.B. I have gone to visit my sister and a mighty winter storm has cut me off from my computer. If you sent a listing late yesterday I cannot get to it until tonight. Sorry for the inconvenience. UPDATE: I made it back safetely to Cleveland. All should be well now. Let me know if anything is amiss!

PARODY - "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year." You know the tune! James over at Real Life Rosary Weblog cleverly rewrote the words to this tune here for those of us who think that this is the most wonderful time of the year.
AUDIO BOOKS - Sean at A Catholic Canadian is "a volunteer reader for, recording public domain audio books. For a while I’ve been participating in a project to record Hurlbut’s Story of the Bible" Here he graciously shares some of his audio book readings!
HELP AND ADVICE - Elana shares in this post, "I have felt for some time that my experience with delivering a stillborn son at 23 weeks came with a purpose." She uses her experience and fuses it with her faith to bring words of healing to those who are hurting and confused in A Mother's Grief Over Time at My Domestic Church.
REFLECTIONS ON OUR ROLE AS CATHOLICS - Dennise begins this insightful discussion with a quote from Pope Benedict XVI, "We draw from this a final lesson: while there is no lack of unworthy and traitorous Christians in the Church, it is up to each of us to counterbalance the evil done by them with our clear witness to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior." Read more HERE over at Catholic Matriarch in My Domestic Church aka Catholic Mom.

OFFER - is marching toward to another milestone. In the interest of helping the community and rewarding our members, we are offering a gift of 100 free Catholic faith wristbands to the person who becomes the 1000th active member to join The lucky winner is free to do what they wish with the wristbands. They can give them to their parish for a fund raising project, or simply hand them out as a way to evangelize their love of the Catholic faith.

SHOPPING - Finding bibles on the Internet is easy, but getting them at good prices can be very time-consuming. A Blog About the Books You Love gives seekers a hand to save time and maybe a few bucks!

MUSICAL OPINION SOUGHT - The Organ-ic Chemist is seeking advice about communion antiphons. Perhaps you have something similar at your parish that might provide her with some direction and support.

GOOD NEWS ABOUT THE DOMESTIC CHURCH - I was surprised by this post. It seems the nuclear family is not on the endangered species list as it so often seems through the popular media. See what Leticia has to say over at Causa Nostrae Laetitae.

FRIENDSHIP AND GODLINESS - Get this, "Of all the jobs on earth, I think you are in one where the Mother of all Mothers stands in your presence, putting pressure on you (us) , to emulate her in every way. Isn't it ironic that in the end, she had to give up her child, so that he could pursue HIS destiny for a much higher purpose. All Mothers everywhere spend their lives preparing themselves for that day when our children leave us, but just like Jesus, they always stay in our hearts.” Wow. A good read not only for women but for everyone over at Just Another Day of Catholic Pondering.

HOW TO GIVE MORE AT MASS - A Catholic Mom in Hawaii shares this powerful letter written by (Saint) Padre Pio to one of his spiritual daughters directing her on how one is to behave in such a way as to show reverence during and after Holy Mass. Pass this one on to catechists!

RIGHT TO LIFE - Peace, a student at the University of Virginia, writes about the recent visiting speaker, niece of Martin Luther King Jr., and her passionate message of the civil rights of the unborn. This is fascinating. Peace! Be Still has given us much to chew on in this post.

SPIRITUALITY - Run over in your mind the Gospel from this past Sunday before you read this post. (The Samaritan Woman and the well . . .) Then, when you need some inspiration, go over to Kate Wicker and read Jesus the Thirst Quencher.

CONTINUING EDUCATION - Steven writes, "I am in the process of posting all the essays I have written over the last 10 years as I did a Religious Studies\Theology Degree part time. This is the first about St. Paul. Written in Winter term 2001. It has extensive appendices, and outlines my approach to Pauline Studies. My three area's of focus have been Catholicism, Judaism and Pauline Studies. I look forward to feedback on this offering." This is his post over at Book Reviews and More for those who wish to expand their horizons.

SPIRITUAL REFLECTION. This would have made a good homily for the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter. Red Neck Woman asks, "Why did Jesus call Peter, the son of Jonah when his father's name was John?" Find out over at Postscripts from the Catholic Spitfire Grill.

SOCIAL JUSTICE - "You can’t do an evil in the name of social justice. You can’t look the other way when something is wrong and call that social justice." Cathy of Alex gives us some great insight into the miss use of the term "social justice" that is so carelessly thrown around these days. In Social Justice Distortions she makes "an attempt to repudiate and reclaim the dissident Catholic's distortion of what social justice means" by focusing on what it definitely does not mean.

THOUGHTS ON LIFE, DEATH & MERCY - In Thoughts on Mercy," Heidi Saxton writes about a woman who committed suicide after aborting her twins ... and the Mercy of God that extends wider and broader and deeper than the human heart can conceive. She invites you over to Mommy Monsters Inc. to contemplate God's mercy and the favor He extends to us in allowing us to cooperate in it.

THE BIBLE MEETS GRAPHIC ARTIST - The Oran-ic Chemist wants to introduce you to a former seminarian and artist who is using his talent for the glory of God and the building up of the human spirit.

AT THE MOVIES - Aggie Catholics - aka "Mary's Aggies" writes about "a review of the movie The Human Experience. This documentary was screened in town and the producer and star of the production were on hand to answer questions afterward. A moving tale of finding what it means to be human."

LENTEN TRADITIONS - Mary over at Not Strictly Spiritual writes, "I recently wrote an article on Lenten family traditions for Our Sunday Visitor, a national Catholic news weekly for whom I am a contributing editor. I thought some of you might like to hear what other people are doing to celebrate this special season. Some families go the whole nine yards, giving up TV for the entire season of Lent. Whoa! We are nowhere near that level of holiness at our house. Give up watching Lost? But I waited so patiently for new episodes to begin -- almost simultaneously with Lent. Bad timing. Anyway, here’s the article with some great ideas from some really cool people and a few links to other Lenten resources as well" Take a gander at Making Lent More Meaningful.

ABOUT BISHOPS - Wonder what happens when people take the faith seriously? Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor "cleans house" at a Catholic Hospital that has been providing IVF, birth control, and abortion referrals. Christine tells you more at The World . . . IMHO in this article.
FROM THE SHADOWS - Rich over at Eyehacker reminds us that there is still work to be done and perhaps we should focus on re-evangelization in The Mass Dutch Style.
REFLECTIONS ON CONFESSION - Adoro gives us pause to consider the wonders of the gift of the sacrament of confession in A New Creation over at Adoro Te Devote.
A CALL FOR PRAYER - Jean writes, "I am inviting all my readers, wherever you live, to join in the novena from your churches and your homes." The goal: to help end abortion. Find out more HERE at Catholic Fire.

Consider offering a post that you are particularly proud of at the next Catholic Carnival. Click HERE for a handy dandy form with which to submit.

Monday, February 25, 2008


Yes, I know that it is Monday, but tomorrow is Catholic Carnival here at Adam's Ale and so Quote Tuesday, a movable feast, has been moved to Monday this week.
FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND - "A young mother remarked to me, "I don't want to teach my child any religion. I don't want to influence him; I want him to choose for himself when he grows up." That is a very ordinary example of current argument, which is frequently repeated and yet never really applied. Of course the mother is always influencing the child. Of course the mother might just as well of said, "I hope he will choose his own friends when he grows up; so I won't introduce him to any Aunts or Uncles." G. K. Chesterton.


Here is a little game that Jim sent in. No not that Jim, another Jim. WARNING: MEDIUM ADDICTION ALERT. Call me a Bobbing Bobcat. On second thought, don't.

Habemus Papem sent this link to a cool blog. It states its purpose, "Pope Benedict XVI is coming to America and Australia. The National Catholic Register wants to make sure you don’t miss out.
Tim Drake, our Senior Writer, will provide you with up-to-the-minute reports on news and preparations, and will blog directly from papal events, right here."

Here is another site to keep you informed about the Pope's visit.

I though these were cute. They are a reminder that the Eucharist is not only the source but the summit of our lives. Not only are we inspired to go out and live the Christian life but are to bring our lives back as an offering to God. On the backs of their envelopes the children mark a good deed that they did that week that they especially offer to God.

"I help my dad put out the blow up bed."

"Helping at the Fest party."

"Held a door open for the elderly."

"Cleaning my room. But I still need to finish the big room."

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Life IS good. (Eternal life is better.) (2:31)


Jay announces that Catholic Carnival 160 is being celebrated at A Third Way this week.

Here is something interesting: says of itself: "For the sake of graciously serving Christ, His Church, and His people, it is the mission of Vocations Placement to replenish every Roman Catholic religious community and diocese in the U.S. By filling out this application you are stating that you are open to participation in the fulfillment of this mission." There is a questionaire that they ask you to fill out and then submit. "By submitting this application I am also confirming that I am Catholic, single, in good physical and mental health, and am open to a religious vocation." If anyone should do this let us know if it seems pretty sound.

L.M. sends this site in. She in particular thinks that this article on confession is great but recommends the site in general is "it is full of good information." Catholic Home and Garden's mission is to preserve Catholic traditions for tommorrow's Catholics.
I hate to do this but it seems that a change is called for in the comments section. Because someone keeps leaving a message that could potentially lead to a virus the forum cannot be quite as open as it has been. I know it's a pain. Sorry.


A person’s wedding day may be the most wonderful day of that person’s life. But as wonderful as it is you can’t stay there. One must get on with the living of the sacrament. If by magic a wish were granted to stay forever in the wedding day that would thwart the very meaning of the day.

Likewise at mass the priest says, “This is My Body which will be given up for you.” Then the priest holds aloft the sacred species that has become the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus for a moment of adoration by all who are present. It might be thought that it is a shame we do not pause here at this august moment to adore Christ who is now present in this most privileged way on our altar. But we have other things to do. We must move on to the offering to the Father that we might be reconciled with Him. That is the point of the mass! That is why we are there! To stop there would be to lose the meaning of why He is there in the first place.

But that does not mean that in another situation we are not afforded the opportunity to worship Christ in this way. We have Eucharistic devotions, (exposition, benediction) in which Christ is presented in a way that we might have more time to adore Him. The vessel for such an event is called a monstrance. The word is from the Latin “to show”. In effect the monstrance holds Jesus aloft, freezing that moment in the mass when the priest holds Him up for that moment of adoration.

The piece that actually holds the Blessed Sacrament at the center of the monstrance is called the luna. You can probably guess why just by looking at it. Together with the monstrance they afford the opportunity to do at length what we are by necessity only given moments to do at the mass.


When the chorus started singing the Kyrie I was so excited I wanted to jump in with the tenor line. Fortunately Mother Valencheck taught me how to restrain myself in such situations.

A friend had given me free tickets to a concert at Severance to hear the Cleveland Orchestra and Chorus perform a mass. The mass goes under several names and so I did not recognize it by the program. But when they started singing it I thought, “I know this! I sang this! I learned this in public high school.”

Yes, I learned it in public high school.

As a matter of fact I learned a lot of great Catholic music in public school. Among others I learned Panis Angelicus and Ave Verum before I ever sang them at church. At the University of Akron I sang Kodaly’s Missa Brevis. It was in Protestant Churches that I sang or played other great pieces. My favorite was singing parts of Vivaldi’s Gloria at an Episcopal church.

One time I asked how we could get away with singing this music in public schools (Especially since at the time even many Catholic Churches seemed to have some allergic reaction to them.) Thge teachers would just say, “This is good music. It is classical music. This is the musical heritage of Western culture. We would be remiss in not exposing it to you and teaching it to you”
I was fortunately enough to be at a parish when I was growing up that started singing some of these songs again when they realized there was a desire for them. But far too many places have the idea that this is just “old stuff” and not the mind of the Church anymore.

Happily I think we are past the arguments of whether or not Vatican II said, “Throw out everything old.” Now the question is can we restore at least some of what has been lost?

No, I take that back. Now the question is, “Should we restore what we can?”

It would not be entirely wrong to bring back some of our classical musical heritage out of nostalgia. (Why does that necessarily have such a negative connotation?) A little nostalgia is good for the soul. But is there a reason beyond nostalgia?


1. We are a Church of history. We are the universal Church not restricted by time or space. We are a Church united in the Body of Christ. We are ever ancient, ever new. Taking a piece from our history in some way reminds us and unites us with our greater selves. It tells us that we are more than the here and now. It is a lesson that things were not always as they are. We are bigger and broader than that. It is not simply about us. At mass we are placed in the timeless, we are taken out of our world. Discovering our musical past will help reiterate this vital truth.
2. The Church is patroness of the arts. This is not a fanciful title, wishful thinking, or an artist’s outrageous wish, rather it is vital to our mission and for anyone to dismiss this ideal out of hand is not giving a great tool to the faithful. “The one, the true, the good, and the beautiful; they rise together and they fall together.” It is essential that we entertain and promote the beautiful when it is in our power to do so. And not only by that which we like, but what has been thought beautiful in our classical history. Yes! It is our role to inspire and teach through the arts! We are a faith that honors and respects the senses and the ways we can come in contact with the Divine through them. The broader we can expand our horizons in this respect, the closer we can grow to God.
3. It will offer the opportunity to assist people to pray and honor God in different and challenging ways. (With the number of times I’ve been forced to expand my horizons doing new age rubbish you would think this should be a no brainer. And the theology is proven!)
4. It affords us (in our American culture) the opportunity to LISTEN! To pray in a different way. Not all full, conscious, and active participation means doing something. That falls into the trap of mere activity. And we do not always understand every aspect of everything. Sometimes we need to be challenged out of our worlds and complacency.
5. In an age when we can travel more and find ourselves in communities of mixed nationalities and languages, it is good to have at least a modicum of Latin under our collective belts.
6. It also a kindness to those who find the current crop of politically correct music to be mind numbing. As a child I was constantly told that certain music was being done “for me” to be more relevant. I hated it. And more and more I find young (and youngish) people who do not enjoy the categories of music they are told they are supposed to find more inspirational.



The newspaper screams today, “Twelve Days Until the Ohio Primary!” So the presidential candidates have been tromping around Ohio. As a matter of fact Hillary Clinton gave a campaign speech just about three city blocks west of good ole’ Saint Clare effectively cutting off the whole western part of the United States from us. (You can’t get there from here.)

When deciding whom it is you want to be your leader it is imperative first to remember who you are. The person that you are asked to choose is the person you want to be YOUR representative. Vote that way. There is not a part of you that you must needs lay aside when considering a candidate. Doing that does not make you a better citizen; it makes you fall into the political practice of another’s worldview THAT HAS NO LESS THEOLOGICAL PRESUPOSITIONS THAN YOUR WORLD VIEW DOES. There is NOT a neutral and value free position from which one might vote. That is a fallacy and one for which more and more Americans are falling.

By sticking to who you are you are not shoving religion down anyone’s throat. You are exercising the role of a legitimate citizen of the United States. This is the country, the laws, and the government under which you must live. And yes, some of us citizens are Catholics. Catholic is who we are and not what we do. And it is as legitimate way of being as being an agnostic, or humanist or atheist or what have you. DEMAND that that effects the way you vote and informs and forms your opinion. It is your right though perhaps not politically correct. It is not that we are citizens except for our Catholicism. We believe that our Catholic faith shows us how to best live this life for the greatest benefit of all – therefore it forms our political philosophy and it is disingenuous to expect Catholics to lay that aside when they go to the polls. That tells us, “You are second class citizens.” Do not allow yourself to volunteer to be a second-class citizen.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


You no doubt have seen news coverage of the Bobby Cutts Jr. trial going on here in Cleveland. He was convicted this past week of a lesser charge of murder of his pregnant girlfriend but of aggravated murder in the death of his unborn child (who died as a result of the death of the mother). Is this not strange?

In symbolism we have seen that symbols only have the meaning that we attribute to them. (The color red symbolizes martyrdom because we say and agree that it does.) Apparently human life is much the same, particularly human life in the womb. If a woman declares it to be an unwanted lump of cells, so be it. Pull it out, cut it up, and throw it away. But if that same woman declares it to be her unborn child, then it is a human life worthy of aggravated murder charges and a possible death penalty sentence. (And in this case the mother is not even present to make decision. The state accepts the testimony of others and rightly assumes that the baby was declared a person by the mother.) We seem to be in a frenzied state of straddling the fence. Or better yet, bilocating firmly on both sides of the fence.

Even individuals do not seem to know how to well express their points of view. A couple of times inquirers into the faith have wondered if they can become Catholic because they are pro-choice. So we sat and talked about it for a spell. Though they swing the “pro-choice” banner around, the area in which they believe in choice, from baptism to natural death, was really quite severely limited almost to the point of non-existence. I wonder how many surveys people with similar views have thrown off kilter by declaring themselves pro-choice but being barely in the camp.

The other evening I was having a lovely cup of java and some horribly delicious ice cream with a great Catholic couple who are deep in to their faith. They proposed the great point that many organization such as Planned Parenthood are anything but pro-choice. They are pro-abortion – pro-contraception, pro anything but pro keeping with traditional Christian mores. If you want that, go elsewhere.

A few years ago (at my last assignment) there was a priest who regularly gave pro-life homilies. Just when I said, “Nothing exciting ever happens around here,” someone came running over to the rectory and announced that Father was giving another pro-life homily and a group of parishioners stood up, shouted, “You are a one issue homilist!” and marched out of church.

So in some ways we as a nation are clearly not well spoken on the topic, tend to practice opposite extremes in any given situation, and can become very touchy when discussing the matter. Because of this many people call out for priests to proclaim the pro-life message more strongly and more often from the pulpit. Perhaps we should. But sometimes homilists feel as though they are preaching to the choir in the same way some priests yell from the pulpit, “You people better start showing up for mass!” What good is it yelling at those that are there? They’re there! In the same way it is presuppose those at mass know that to be Catholic is to be pro-life.
What should we do?


FINDING TRUTH WHEVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “After all, what is health and security if your life has no meaning?” from Phillip Kerr’s “The Pale Criminal.

QUOTE II – “It seemed the only unifying doctrines in Protestant teaching were rejection of any unifying authority and that the Catholic Church was always wrong.” from an article in This Rock magazine by Chris DeVolld.


Priest Magazine recommends Even if this particular network is not available in your area there are interesting videos and news bits here.

A young man from my parish just returned from the Philippines where he and his fiancé were working to try to bring some relief to the very poor there. While there he met the artist Joey Velasco who you remember from these videos that Adoro recommended some months back. He now has his own web site that you can visit here. He is an inspiration for Catholics to use their talents for the glory of God and the lifting up of the human person.

L.M. sets us up with another mind numbing game. You have four seconds to complete the game which is about as well as I did on the last game that was posted here. WARNING: HIGHLY ADDICTIVE.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


One of our more talented young priests seems to find himself regularly published in various Catholic mediums. This past week Fr. D. gave a heads up about an article he wrote that will soon be printed in “U.S. Catholic.” The article concerns itself with whether those in priestly and religious vocation should be wearing clothing that publicly gives witness to the vocation they have chosen. It is a very well written and intelligent article and you can find it here.

But what you might find interesting is that following the article there is a survey inquiring what you think about the issue. It will not take you long to realize that it is a heavily skewed set of questions, but you might enjoy engaging in it all the same. Presumably some of the comments will be included with the article.

Long time readers of Adam’s Ale will surely know the basic stance on this position from the person whose fingers stamp out these prose. In the end however it has to be realized that our opinions are not worth they cyberspace they are electronically brought up on. It is the same set of principles that will determine who will survive in the future in the contraception and abortion debate: those who are striving mightily to end their bloodline or those who enjoying full families. In regards to habits and collars versus no habits and collars, the practice that will flourish in the Church in the next twenty years are those that attract faithful, practicing Catholics that wish to adopt a vocation. Orders that attract young vocations will grow, those that do not will practically be gone. Priests also tend to attract to the priesthood similarly minded men. Time alone will tell where that is going (though it seems to be clear to many already.)

That being said I would like to share with you a couple of my answers to the survey (just in case the magazine is not wise enough to print them!) One is that it may be true that the wearing of the habit or the collar will not bring anyone to conversion but look at it this way; suppose a person is a Steelers fan. He may wear a Steelers jersey. I doubt that seeing him wear that jersey will make me Steelers fan. But it did make me think of the Steelers when I perhaps had no cause to. It may make me more aware that even in Cleveland there are Steelers fans. Who would have thought? It may cheer other Steelers fans that see him and even be a cause of friendly words between them – a recognition of what binds them. If I had been wanting to ask a someone who is a Steelers fan a question, I might take the opportunity. And it may make me think twice before cheering for the Browns in their presence.

A second question asked that if we expect priests and religious to dress so boldly, should we not expect laypersons to do the same? Should they not be encouraged to wear crucifixes or T-shirts and hats that announce their religious proclivities? That has a time and a place but is not necessarily so. But it is just as important a witness that lay people dress in such a way that shows their piety, their modesty, adorning the body as to bring the greatest respect and honor to it, to the virtue of chastity, and in showing respect for others and their Creator.

Those are my thoughts. If you have the time, go and read and share your insights!


Fr. D brought this weeks Video on Tap to my attention. Things turn mighty serious toward the end and it is quite awesome! Would that we all take our faith so seriously fellow Catholics! (Uh - ahem - cough - perhaps without the MF bomb aty the end which is appropriately bleeped out. Yes. Just know that.)

glumbert - The Lucifer Effect


It is that time again! Yes, Jay announces that Catholic Carnival 159 has set up its tents and is awaiting an audience!

Jack sent a wire asking that the FREE Easter greetings that his site offers be recommended to readers of Adam's Ale. They are nice religious E-cards and if you are looking for such things you might want to give them a try here. I'll let Jack describe his company in his own words. " is the largest free ecards web site in the world, with over 20,000 proprietary ecards celebrating more than 3,000 everyday, special occasions & events. 123Greetings is the top ten fastest growing website in December 2007 according to Comscore Media Metrix. This year, over 250 million users across 192 countries will use to meet their online expressional needs."

From the Humor department: Adoro send this interesting site in. What wonders the Internet provides for us! Reproduce anything in a different dialect. Here is Adam's Ale in, well, I am not sure. "Eff'n yo'’ve not made th' Stashuns befo'e (o' eff'n yo' haf an' pow'ful hated it) give it a go. It is a lot like givin' blood, cuss it all t' tarnation. Yo' hate gwine in but yo' feel so fine a-comin' out."

All the issue around voting getting you down? Consider this article from the Catholic News Service brought to our attention by the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter.


It’s that time of the year for one of our most revered and popular devotional practices: The Stations of the Cross. It is not an entertaining devotion by any stretch of the imagination and I am surprised that so many people still participate in it in an age when it seems as though if it is not entertaining, our society is not very interested.

I know of few people who actually enjoy making the Stations. Rather than being entertained by the story like a movie (ala The Passion) it is much more a kin to sitting with somebody who is dying. Hardly the thing to do on a Friday night. We stand by Christ as he is condemned, is tortured and suffers, dies, and is laid in the tomb all the while offering our prayer of gratitude that he would do such a thing for us and symbolically we become a person who stands by Him on His death walk when many of His closest followers had scattered. Any joy we might derive from the Stations comes from the fact that we stood by even when it was difficult for us, forsaking yet another television re-run or other busy chore.

The stations represent the Via Dolorosa (Way of Sorrow) or Jesus’ journey of about a mile from Pilate’s court to Calvary and His tomb. It is a symbolic representation of a pilgrimage that many took in Jerusalem, stopping at each of the actual sites for reflection and prayer. The Franciscans brought the practice to other churches by way of small images for those unable to make the pilgrimage so that people could make the Via Dolorosa and benefit from the lessons and spiritual growth that it offered. From there it spread throughout the whole of the Church so that today it can hardly be thought that a Catholic Church or would be built without the Stations of the Cross. For more in the history look here.

According to the Handbook of Indulgences there is a plenary indulgence “granted to the Christian faithful who devoutly make the Stations of the Cross.” (A plenary indulgence is the remission of the temporal punishment for sins when the mandates for indulgences in general and an indulgence in particular are met.)

Some of the particulars for this indulgence include that the stations must be lawfully erected and those stations are fourteen crosses not pictures! Pictures may be attached to the crosses (and usually are) but pictures without the crosses are like building a church without an altar. Prayers or meditations are made on the Passion of Christ and movement is required. That is, one does not just sit in the pew and think of these things (though prayer is always helpful) but that someone actually symbolically makes the pilgrimage. In cases of large groups praying together it is only necessary that one person actually make the journey.

Yet if someone truly is incapable of the walk, they can spend some time (15 minutes) meditating on the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.

If attached to your crosses there are pictured representations of the stations and they are not overly abstract or plain, pay close attention because there can be a lot of cool symbolism. See the colors that Christ and Mary are wearing, notice the things in people’s hands, notice what is in the background. All of which can be very intriguing.

If you’ve not made the Stations before (or if you have and really hated it) give it a go. It is a lot like giving blood. You hate going in but you feel so good coming out.

Friday, February 15, 2008


He came toward me with his head drooping and a shuffle in his step. His hands were shoved in his pockets and there was desperation in his eyes. He looked like he was taking that last walk to the gallows. But continue on he must. He had not been to confession in 30 years and now it was harder not to go than to go.

If you have not been to confession in years (or if you know of someone who has not been to confession in years) fear not! If you (or your friend) have completely forgotten everything about how to go to confession here is help!

DO make a good examination of conscience. That is, before you go in to confession think about what it is that you have to confess, not just the thing that is bothering you, but a well rounded examination. Especially if you go during lent when there may be many people in line it will be a considerable cause of distress if you enter and say, “I have not been to confession for 20 years. I don’t know what to confess.” Having a lot to confess is Okay but thinking those things up on the spot can be trying. To remedy this look up an examination of conscience in a good Catholic prayer book or go on line.

DO tell the priest how long it has been since your last confession (since 5th grade or 10 years, or whatever) and be honest if you do not remember how to go to confession. “Father, it has been 25 years since my last confession and I forget what to do.” If the priest is worth his salt, he will kindly guide you through the process.

DO be honest about your penance. If your confessor gives you something to do that you do not understand or for some reason you cannot complete, inform him and ask for another penance. This is your right.

DON’T freak about not remembering your Act of Contrition. You may make up your own – or he may have a cheat sheet in the confessional for you. Or you can bring one. Or you can just say, “God, be merciful to me a sinner.” If you do make up your own try to express your regret of your sin and your present desire not to sin again. And maybe end with an “Amen” so that the priest knows that you are through.

If for any reason the priest gives you a hard time (and the vast, vast majority would not dream of doing so) let him know it. We are to be dispensers of God’s mercy not judges. Judging is God’s role. (Though you might receive a jot of advice.)

Here’s a little trick. If there is more than one priest hearing confessions and one line is VERY long and the other VERY short. That should tell you something.

By and large priests are touched at someone coming back to the sacrament. A good priest does not focus on your absence but rather rejoices that you are there now. It is not about being scandalized at a debauched life but rejoicing that you are turning a corner in your life for the future. That is something to celebrate, not get “hot under the collar” (sorry) about! So fear not!

“All men thirst to confess their crimes more than tired beasts thirst for water.” Illustrated London News 1908

IN OTHER NEWS: I know today is not a “In Other News” day but Adoro wrote this morning and asked that this be posted for your information. Today at noon nominations are being accepted for the Catholic Blog Awards. If you would like to know more or participate, go here.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


You will be disappointed in the Church.

If you have not already, you will be.

Well, maybe not so much the Church, but by something associated with the Church that risks turning you sour on her.

I was reminded of that last night. A lady (a nun actually) that I had not seen in maybe ten years was at a parish I was visiting. She saved my vocation. Before I was ordained I went through a fairly rough patch with a couple of priests. All exaggerations aside, it was one of the worst periods I have ever gone through. (Nothing sordid mind you, just rough.) I had every intention of dropping out of the seminary. My shelves were cleared off, my bags packed, and phone calls were made to my spiritual director and my parents. Two things stopped that from happening. One was my spiritual director who gave this advice, “Make them kick you out.” The other was this nun who had unflagging confidence in me and provided a bottomless pit of support and prayer.

After this difficult time passed there was time to see that something very good had come out of it. It was the realization that some things that I erroneously equated with Church, namely the personality of an individual within her, was not in fact “Church.” Factoring that out the question I asked myself if I still loved the priesthood and ministering to people. The answer was unequivocally, “Yes!” So I was able to let go of this situation and not hold it against the Church. And with some bandages offered by the seminary I was able to continue on to priesthood. (For me, leaving the Church was never an option. Once one accepts the teaching on the Eucharist, like Peter I would ask, “Where else would we go?”)

As it turned out the priests came to be a couple of pretty capitol guys. Whatever was going on at that point was a passing affliction. (I can't even believe now almost having left the priesthood over something some limited and passing!) But things like this do and will happen (“should” or “shouldn’t” notwithstanding.) You will encounter something similar; a bad reaction, a scandal, a conflict of personalities or points of view. You may BE that person or cause to someone else. (I have been – those of you who remember the post on the woman and confirmation. Ugh.) The question to ask oneself is, “Is that about which I am upset concerning the Church proper, or am I upset with something extraneous but connected?” Even bishops are known to speak opinions that are at times not in mind with the Church or are at least not an official teaching of the Church.

Do not let such things separate you from the sacraments! It is not worth it. Besides, where else do you receive to Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ? Where else do you receive the unambiguous forgiveness of sin? Where else would you be connected to the chair of Peter? To throw this away over a squabble with a brother or sister in Christ is like throwing away the winnings of the million-dollar lottery because one of the bills is wrinkled.

Keep your eye on the prize.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Well live and learn.

I was surprised at the number of people who said they did not quite grasp the idea of having a mass said for someone. So I thought that I would just go to one of the books on my shelf, take some notes, and write you a little post on it. There was barely anything in any of my books save for some guidelines in Canon Law. So no wonder it might start becoming a lost aid to faith unless you are very aware of it being practiced by your parents.

So what is going on here? First of all it is not that a mass is being purchased, it rather a request of the priest that he include in his specific intention that for which you wish to be prayed. That does not mean that no other intentions may be offered as the benefits of the mass are endless and include the prayers of all present, but by giving something of yourself, most commonly a small amount of money, you are sacrificially uniting yourself to the mass (even if you are not present) and having an intention particularly prayed for. (A priest may only accept one a day. Period. Though he may remember other intentions for which he does not receive a stipend.) I think for most Catholics this description is sufficient, but if you have deeper questions here is site that you might want to check out. It is a very in depth explanation.

But how do you go about doing it? You might want to call your parish office before heading out to arrange for a mass. The books that record masses and for whom they are being said sometimes fill up quickly and they may not have any vacant spots until they open next year’s books. They should be able to tell you when that happens. Others might have openings and invite you over at your convenience to make the arrangements. Sometimes there are limits on the amount of masses they allow for any one individual.

First a choice is made from the available dates. Then they will ask you for what intention do want the mass said. The vast majority of these masses are for the reparation of the soul of a loved one. As it says in Pope Benedict’s “Spe Salve”, “The lives of others continually spill over into mine: in what I think, say, do, and achieve. And conversely, my life spills over into that of others: for better and for worse. So my prayer for another is not extraneous to that person, something external, not even after death. In the interconnectedness of Being, my gratitude for the other – my prayer for him – can play a small part in his purification. . . It is never to late to touch the soul of another, nor is it in vain.”

Occasionally masses are offered up for other purposes but these, by their nature, are more rare. One might be in the case of a significant wedding anniversary (such as the 50th.) Also the ritual for the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick states, “Sick persons who regain their health after being anointed should be encouraged to give thanks for the favor received by participating in a Mass of thanksgiving or by some other suitable means.” This might be taken care of by way of having a mass said for this intention.

A suitable donation determined by the local ordinary is given. No more than the amount stipulated (depending on the diocese may be $5 or $10) may be accepted as part of the stipend.

You should receive a “mass card.” It will state the mass intention and the date when the mass will be said.

And that is pretty much it. Hope it helps.