Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Adoro tagged me for a meme based on holy cards. Here we go:

The initial premise: What picture do you think would be on your Holy Card if you were to be canonized, and of what would you be the Patron Saint?

Well the biggest problem is that most people will think my holy card is Saint Ignatius. It's the bald head and the beard that seems to make people mention this - not the aura of holiness around his head.

I love holy cards but think they sometimes lead us astray. Everyone always seems so serous in them. Catholics are called to be full of joy. The dower faces on many of our holy cards lead many people to think that truly holy people have overly serious, stern demeaners. Saints had senses of humor. remember that Saint Lawrence told his tormentors that who were roasting him alive on a grid iron, "You can turn me over. I'm done on this side now."

Then there is the famous holy card about guardian angels (on my mind since today is guardian angel day.) We always picure guardian angels watching over little German children walking across broken bridges. But guardian angels, a really very serious matter, are not sweet stories we tell children but beings that we would should respect and cooperate with in our lives.

Back to the meme. It is hard to say since we do not get to pick that for which we are remembered what would be on mine (not that I am counting on it either - but I'm trying.) We may not even know the most important ways we effect others lives. I can say a few things that I would like. I hope there to be a smile on my face and that people look at the card and think, "Not only is here a Christian and a priest, but he looks like he enjoyed both." And not knocking those who appear in flowing robes and what not, it would be nice to be in more modern clothing as with St. Maxamillion Kolbe as he appears in his striped prison garb.

And lastly it would be cool to start the next generation of symbols. Saints are usually depicted holding either a symbol of their faith or the instrument of their martyrdom. I don't see being martyred in Akron (but can you imagine what 21st century symbols of martyrdom might look like? Can you picture a saint carrying a gun as they do swords and knives or rocks?) Maybe saints of the future will hold a computer instead of a sheeth of papers and a quill, or a radio microphone, or a small car for those who travel much instead of a staff and shell. Who knows? Maybe I'd have a mug of Adam's Ale.

And as far as being a patron saint? Maybe patron of the bald.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Today we will have a look at the prophecies of two men who speculate what humanity will be like in the future. The interesting part is that these predictions were written quite a bit ago so they should reflect how we are experiencing life today. They are quite different and interesting to compare. See which you thought came the closest.

The first is from the “Little Blue Book” series (number 1621) written by Professor William F. Ogburn and edited by E. Haldeman-Julius. Much of the book seemed to be on the mark but it did predict the decrease of population largely due to “the spread of the use of contraceptives.”

“So then, with a restricted population, a rapidly growing technology . . . we should expect to be untrue the often quoted prediction of Jesus, ‘the poor you ye have with you always.’

“If the use of contraceptives is extended radically, it will mean a revolution for women and children . . . the answer is that the production of babies, like the production of potatoes, will be governed by demand, now that the supply can be controlled.

“If the production of babies falls very low, the value of the baby will rise, according to sound economics. This appreciation of children will show itself in better kindergartens, playgrounds, and schools . . .The spread of higher education will be more rapiod than the growth of vocational opportunities utilizing this educational content. The result will be that the common laborer will be well versed in philosophy and the plumber will discuss Aristotle – and they will still be quoting Aristotle as well as members of the professions.

“The scarcity of children will mean not only that they will be appreciated more, but that women who bear children will similarly be more highly valued. This increased value will command a price and that price will be more opportunity.”

The second prediction of the future comes from His Holiness Pope Paul VI in his encyclical, “Humane Vitae.” He addresses the same concerns as the gentleman above but predicts a much different outcome.

“It can . . .be feared that the man who becomes used to contraceptive practices, may finally lose respect for the woman and no longer caring about her physical and psychological equilibrium, come to the point of considering her a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no longer as his respected and beloved companion.

“Consider what a dangerous weapon that would thus be placed in the hands of those public authorities who have no concern for the requirements of morality . . . Who will stop rulers from favoring and even imposing upon their peoples, if they should consider it necessary, the method of contraception that they judge to be most efficacious . . . the intervention of public authorities (in) the most personal and most reserved sector of conjugal intimacy.”

Care to weigh in?


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: "If you want to know what is holy in this world, all you have to do is look at what is violently profaned." Christopher West.

QUOTE II: "When you are not having sex within the essential union of yourself, your husband, and God, you're really only having sex with yourself." from Dawn Eden's "The Thrill of the Chaste"

QUOTE III: "Faith is not a dirty word. And hope is not for fools. I used to make fun of optimists. But if all we have are negative world views, we're in trouble." Robert Downey Jr. (That one is for you CP)


"Pastors plan to speak this weekend in favor of McCain. That should get the IRS' attention." Nikki sent this article in from the LA Times and is looking for your comments.

The Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter asks if you are confused about what exactly is at issue with same sex marriage. Here is a short and easy to understand statement. Though it certainly does not cover all of the issues it does make some of the Catholic whys and wherefores easier to understand.

Would a Tuesday be complete without an announcement from Jay stating that Catholic Carnival 191 us up and awaiting for your perusal?

Mike sent along this site called CatholicPreaching.com chronicling one priest's preaching from ordination to the present. "There's no such thing as stealing in comedy and preaching."

Societas Verbi Divini provides some online games that they promise are safe for a Catholic site to promote (though they may still waste too much of your time.) WARNING: ADDICTION LEVEL LOW.

Those accustomed to snooping out bell towers ask if it is not rather disgusting up in the bell tower visited and reported here a number of times. Actually not at all - an unusual state of affairs for bell towers that are not otherwise completely caged in. The reason we are so blessed is because of my friend here, the hawk, spotted surveying his territory one morning.


I was instructed to call the pastor of Saint Sebastian, Father Karg, at a specified time later in the day. At the appointed time a call was placed and the secretary answered. I said, “This is Fr. Valencheck, is Fr. Karg available?” In a few moments Father answered the phone and said, “Is it you?! You are coming here!?” I thought he would have found out already but apparently I had broken the news. He was exceedingly kind and gracious and invited me over at the soonest possibility.

Soon tracks were made for Akron and the first glimpses of Saint Sebastian were had. The first visit was to be made to Jesus Himself. As quietly as possible I slipped into the back of the church to pray. Unfortunately the door chosen to sneak back out was locked. Trapped! And a man walked up and shook my hand and asked, “Are you the new priest?” I actually said no, not wanting to say until the pastor was met. But it was pretty useless.

Eventually an escape was made and the path to the rectory was found. The door was flung open and a welcome was hailed. “We knew the new guy was coming!” It took about 12 seconds for word to spread throughout the grounds and buildings and people were turning out to get a glimpse of the new guy. Soon Father was notified and he came out to welcome me to the parish. Nobody could ask for a better welcome. We went into his office and he started to introduce me to the inner workings of the parish. A walk was taken around the parish and many more introductions were made.

Here is where the odd part started. It suddenly came to mind that this is my new home. This is where I will live and work and these are the people to whom I will minister. This is my house, my address, and I am now an Akronite or at least I would be within a week. Thinking about it a bit more I suppose it is not so much different from those who are moved for their jobs or whatnot. But that did not make it any easier to get my mind around it. But it was exciting.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


The next set windows as we move further back in the Church is in honor of Queen of Prophets, those special friends of God through whom He brought us closer to Him. (Notice we are seeing more blue.)The first window is Jeremiah with pen and paper in hand. He prophesized that Jeruselem would be destroyed and the Temple burned (hence the flames) because of the sins the people. Above him, like a vision in the future, is Saint Luke who quotes Jeremiah in Zechariah's Canticle about God restoring His people. Saint Luke also records the prophecy that the second temple would be destroyed.This window is dedicated to the prophet Isaiah, perhaps the most important prophet for Christians as his prophecies concern the coming of the Messiah. The scroll he holds states, "And he shall be called Emmanuel." Once again, like an vision from the future is the Christ Child (so identified since he has the nimbus or halo with the three tell tale red rays.) To the upper right is Saint Matthew who quotes Isaiah's prophecy about Emmanuel. The saw on the lower right refers to the legend that Isaiah died by being sawed in half.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Here’s an interesting little outtake from a book that I am reading:

“’I will not say that (the Church) has no influence,’- he replied – ‘But that it has not so much as it might have. We are living in evil days and the Church does not seem strong enough to cope with its adversaries. Honestly speaking, I pity the clergy! For many years past they have been lax in their duties-they have taken things too easily-and the consequence is that now they find themselves unprepared for difficulty.’”

More noteworthy than anything else is that this quote was published in 1908 in a book called Holy Orders by Marie Corelli. There is a reason that the cliché was established, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” In almost every age it seems that someone is predicting the end of the Catholic Church yet she marches on through the centuries. In fact, Fr. Benedict Groeschel uses this odd balance between impending doom of the Church and her tenacity to survive as a sign that she is truly guided and protected in her given mission by the Holy Spirit.

“I sometimes think we’re the true religion because if we weren’t, we’re so stupid we wouldn’t get anyplace.”

When faced with opposition from the Church, Napoleon was asked what he was going to do to suppress it and bring the people in line with his world view. To this he reported responded,

“You can’t destroy the Catholic Church. The clergy have been trying to destroy it for 1800 years and they are not getting anywhere.”

Readers of this blog know I am stubbornly optimistic about the future of the Church. This is not because I think her perfect and not in need of constant reform and challenge, but because there is something about her and her message and mission that makes her worthy of constant reform and change. Despite two thousand years of her teachings being rejected, ridiculed, and labeled antiquated; despite that men acting in the name of the Church have made horrible decisions and caused scandal in her name; despite the fact that she is often despised, suppressed, and ignored; in every age her children are willing to risk their lives, denounce worldly joys, and conform their spirit to her in radical ways because of her call to unity, her beauty, her truth, and that holiness is obtainable through her.

That same spirit rises in her children to this day. World wide there are record numbers of Catholics, more men studying for the priesthood than ever before, people still risking martyrdom and some are still granted it, parents still sacrifice for Catholic education, loyal hearts still make Mass attendance a priority, great confessions are still heard, people still speak out and many, many people take seriously that the title Catholic is something to be lived, not just born with.

Yes, there is much to be done. Her earthy character is not perfect. She will face challenges. Yes there are those who proclaim to be Catholic but live in such a way as to damage her reputation. There are shadows but greater still is the Sun. Let us not spend all of our time saying, “What a shame,” but to lend ourselves as agents of the Holy Spirit who sees the Church through in every age.

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

“The republic of Venice came next in antiquity. But the republic of Venice was modern when compared with the Papacy; and the republic of Venice is gone, and the papacy remains. The Papacy remains not in decay, not a mere antique, but full if life and youthful vigour. The Catholic Church is still sending forth to the farthest ends of the world missionaries as zealous as those who landed in Kent with Augustin, and still confronting hostile kings with the same spirit with which she confronted Attila . . .“Nor do we see any sign which indicates that the term of her long dominion is approaching.

She saw the commencement of all the governments and of all the ecclesiastical establishments that now exist in the world; and we feel no assurance that she is not destined to see the end of the all. She was great and respected before the Saxon had set foot on Britain, before the Frank had passed the Rhine, when Grecian eloquence still flourished in Antioch, when idols were still worshipped in the temple of Mecca. “And she may still exist in undiminished vigour when some traveler from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul’s.”

-Thomas Babington Macaulay

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


BIG MISTAKE: Or maybe not. C. asked why a certain topic was not covered in homilies and I said, "Oh, people know about that." She set me straight about that and some other topics. So I asked her to give me a list of other things she thought people were uncatechized about. What do you think?

Apparently God got sick of waiting for me to work up the courage to talk to a friend of mine about the Faith and He prompted HER to bring up the subject. We talked for hours one night about the Catholic Church, and to make the point that 12 years of Catholic school left us uncatechized, I told her a bunch of random things that we were never taught, such as:

The poor souls in purgatory can’t pray for themselves, but they can pray for us.

What the beatific vision is and what heaven will be like.

That you get your body back at the end of the world. (She was ecstatic about that one.)

That you have a guardian angel assigned to you and no one but you for life, and other angel-y facts.
Where the devil came from.

We’re supposed to take a sacrifice every Friday in honor of our Lord’s passion.

That the family is a reflection of the Trinity.

That missing mass on Sunday is a mortal sin (but she is excused when she has to work because she is a nurse)

That all suffering has redemptive value for yourself and the world. (We both thought it was only when you suffered for the Faith directly, but your stubbed toes count too!)

That her intense dislike of clapping, no kneelers, and bad music during mass doesn’t mean she’s crazy – it means she has a good sense of the sacred.

My friend related how she went to a Baptist church and the preacher’s sermon clearly and specifically told her the meaning of a scripture passage and how she should change her daily life to follow it. She said that all the Catholic homilies she had heard in her life didn’t amount to this one sermon. She clenched her hands desperately in front of her and pleaded, “Why won’t they teach us?!!!” She also charged me, “You go tell your priest friend what we talked about tonight!” Well, Fr. V then charged me to blog about it, so here you go…stuff we need to hear in homilies:
What a “just war” is and that extreme pacifism is wrong.

The dangers of contraception, that NFP works, and that overpopulation is a myth.

How do we defend the faith against the claims of popular books like The Davinci Code or The God Delusion.

Why gay marriage is wrong and how to defend traditional marriage.

What mortal sin is – SPECIFICALLY! (I never knew getting drunk or high was, for example)

Sex in general (you don’t have to be graphic to be enlightening)

Occult practices to avoid (Tarot cards, psychics)

Abortion is never necessary.

Evolution and creation and the Church’s stance.

What exactly does it mean to rest on Sunday? Can I shop?

Religious life is great – not lonely.

EWTN exists, as do other great media (I’m surprised no one knows this)

Divorce and annulments and what they mean – can I date a divorced person?

Dangers of porn (and that it’s a moral sin – again, no one knows)

What should my criteria be for what movies and TV I watch and what radio and music I listen to – SPECIFICALLY!

Devotions in general – rosary, scapular, Sacred Heart & First Fridays, Immaculate Heart and

First Saturdays, etc.

How do I decide who to vote for?

Life issues – Terri Shiavo, stem cell research, euthanasia

In short…..if it’s in the Catechism or the newspaper, we need to hear about it or we can’t live and defend our faith! It is nice to have a formal talk outside of mass and cover a topic properly, but only “the choir” shows up for those things anyway. For most people, what comes from the pulpit is the only instruction they will ever get, period. The pulpit is an OPPORTUNITY that the lay people don’t have – it’s difficult to find an opening for these subjects in everyday conversation, but EXPECTED at church. Priests have an AUTHORITY the lay people don’t have – why should anyone believe my theological ramblings? Lastly, my family and friends might hate me for telling them the Truth, (“Hey, did you know that since your marriage was never intended to be open to children it is invalid?”) but a priest can say these things from the pulpit with relative immunity.
Please everyone, stuff the comment box with your additions to the list!

Monday, September 22, 2008


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: "That is why we so readily give our assent to the absurd proposition that a computer can add two plus two despite the fact that it can do nothing of the sort - not if we have in mind anything remotely resembling what we do when we add numbers." Steve Talbott in Maggie Jackson's "Distracted"

QUOTE II - "Without self control we can have the strongest motivations and set the highest goals, yet we will invariably get sidetracked from pursuing our aims by the distractions, temptations, and obstacles in life." from Maggie Jackson's "Distracted"


Could this be a Quote Tuesday without Jay's joyous proclamation of another Catholic Carnival? Here is Catholic Carnival 190!

The Diocese of Cleveland Social Action Office wants you to know about a few sites to consider during this election year. Here is Faithful Citizenship, the Ohio Catholic Conference website, and the Catholic Action site. For a print out of the Ohio Bishops' recommendations on key ballot issues, look here.

On Monday I had a funeral at an absolutely charming but tiny parish that seems to be slated for closing under the Diocese of Cleveland clustering plan. Of course emotions run high in situations like this even if you understand and even agree with the necessity of the move. It is little wonder that there is some resistance to it all as reported recently in the newspaper. Here is the response by the diocese courtesy of the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter.

A couple of times this week people have mentioned a site called ePriest. It is mostly a resource for priests but seems to be of interest to a greater audience and so it is presented for you here.

P.C. sent this site in and it seems quite cool. "Singles of the Eucharist" might be of particular interest to some of you single Catholics out there. Thanks P.C.!

I can neither recommend or not recommend the following site other than to say that I find it intriguing. One of the games offered to play is called Pope Wars and my computer will not play it. I would appreciate someone taking a look and letting me know. I was however able to play Asteroids which I'ven't played since high school down in the bowling alley of Slovene Center in Barberton. WARNING: ADDICTION LEVEL HIGH.

here are two pictures for you to peruse. One is using the magnifying feature on my handy dandy little camera thus capturing this crane. See if you can find him again in the unmagnified picture.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


The days crept along and many a bullet of conversation was dodged. The weekend before the meeting with the bishop was my ten year anniversary, the Feast of the Sacred Heart (to whom I have a special devotion) and World Day of Prayer for priests. What more could a guy ask for?

The morning of the meeting I awoke extra early and said my prayers, had Mass, and tried to do some work in the office. The pastor asked me how I was doing but it was hard to categorize. He understood. He said, “It’s a bit like getting married isn’t it?” I readily agreed - at least in theory. On the one hand I was thinking, “Wow! I’m getting married!” but that was echoed by a second thought that said, “O jeez! I’m getting married!” In an attempt to dump the jitters I decided to go early, purposefully this time, and have a cup of coffee and journal since it seemed to have such a positive effect the last time. I put on my finest clerical attire and set a course for downtown Cleveland. Soon enough a steaming cup of java was obtained and pen was in hand scribing thoughts. With extra minutes yet to be ticked away on the clock tracks were made for the bishop’s office. I arrived fifteen minutes early and was warmly greeted by the bishop’s secretary and another priest who straitened my collar and patted me on the back and invited me to have a seat.

The bishop soon joined us to announce that when he handed me his orders I would be the administrator of Saint Sebastian parish. He gave much direction and advice, the most important being to remain close to Christ. It is only in remaining close to Christ can we be effective pastors of souls. With that he handed me my faculties and I knelt for his benediction. That was it. From that point forward the priest that had been so kind in his welcome said, “Now you can tell whomever you want. Get on your cell phone and call away. It is official now.”

As was mentioned last week one of best priest friends was to meet me for lunch after for he too had an appointment later in the day. We went to my favorite restaurant downtown and I broke the news to him with advanced apologies that I was probably going to be quite self-centered at this lunch. A stroll was taken after and I bought a hat to mark the occasion. When we parted a call was put in to the retiring priest who was very warm and encouraging. An invitation to come out and see the place as quickly as possible was offered and accepted. This was an odd time of excitement about the new assignment mixed with a bit of the blues, for there would also be many goodbyes to be made to another parish that I had grown to love.

Friday, September 19, 2008


The next title for Mary as queen in the Litany of Loretto and subsequently the subject of our next set of windows of consideration is Queen of Patriarchs. Notice in this window the color blue that was all but completely missing in the first set of windows located in the sanctuary. As we move further back in the church there will be more and more blue glass in the windows. This is done in part as a method used by artists for centuries to help draw attention to the altar. The further back in the church a window is, the darker the glass used. This draws one's attention naturally to altar area where the brightest light is. A second reason hearkens back to the founding pastor, Monsignor Zwisler who had a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary (blue being the color of Mary). In tribute to her the windows include quite a bit of blue glass but lessens as the windows near the altar where the focus is on Jesus.

There are seven patriarchs; Adam, Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. The word patriarch refers to the heads of prominent families of the Israelite tribes that appear in Genesis. The two focused on here are Abraham and David though David's title as patriarch is one more of honor rather than in actuality (Acts 2:29).
Here is the famous scene in which Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son for love of God and the angle stops his hand while pointing to heaven to announce God recognizes his willingness but calls him to stop. Notice down in the right hand corner is a cross. That is because this story is a foreshadowing of the story of our Father and His only Son later. The stories have many parallels. A father who is willing to sacrifice his own son for the forgiveness of sins. The son is born of under mystical circumstances, is without blemish, carries the wood of his own death on his back, brings about forgiveness by obedience, and finally, in the end, for Abraham a ram was offered but in the case of Jesus, he is the lamb that was offered.

The stars that trail down the right side depict God's promise to Abraham that because he so loved God that he was willing even to sacrifice his son that God would make his descendants "as numerous as the stars in the sky." The burning coals at the left are the coals that they brought with them to use in the sacrifice.

Here is King David seated upon his thrown. Over his head like the stars of the sky are depicted eleven of the twelve tribes of Israel. At bottom right is the symbol of the tribe from which he comes. "The lion of Judah". The six pointed star next to him, the star of David, represents the Kingdom of Israel. Notice that David holds are harp as he was a writer of songs. About half of the psalms in Scripture are attributed to him. To his immediate left is a young David playing for then King Saul. Below that is the head of Goliath. Just above the head is David's sling with the smooth, round rock in it. There is another rock embedded in the head of Goliath who was beheaded by David with his own sword and thus you see the river of blood flowing below.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


A young, relatively newly married man said to me the other day (and it is mentioned to you with his expressed permission) that he wanted to go to confession. He knows that when he spends too much time away from the sacrament that it starts effecting his relationship with his “lovely wife”. When things are not quite so he knows that it is time to get to the sacrament, to spend time evaluating what it going on in his life and make amends with the help of God’s grace in the sacrament.

Though not strictly required of us, the regular reception of the sacrament will have a profound change on your life. It is not an overnight change. It is a slow change that takes time to realize. One day you will wake up and just know that life has been quite different. Or the opposite will happen (which I hear about more often) when one has been away from the sacrament for a spell and it is has dawned upon the person that things are not quite right. Like the former case, it was not an overnight discovery. It took time to drift off course before the situation was fully appreciated.

Something similar happened to me and my classmates in the seminary concerning the Liturgy of the Hours (LOTH), which, as you may well know, as priests we promise to pray daily. Seminarians are given a number of years to practice praying the LOTH before they are required to do so because it does demand a certain amount or discipline and can be more difficult habit to wear into than one might imagine.

Sometimes we would be up until midnight or one or two in the morning studying and come to the realization that we have not said compline or vespers and so one or the other of us might say, “It’s late and we have to get this done, let us skip prayer tonight.” Over a number of years of this we were able to come to this conclusion: When we stuck to prayer, we accomplished our work in a better and timelier fashion. Scientists attribute this to the brain’s need to switch gears from time to time in order to work at its best capacity. I would call it God’s design to get us to pray!

These habits of holier living are tools for us to live better lives. Like many medications, they may give a nice boost on the short term but their full effects are in the regular regimented doses.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


C. is our guest blogger today. Thanks C.! I'll enjoy my day off and I'm sure people will enjoy your post!


Several months ago I attended a meeting held by a local apologetics society. I remember shaking the moderator’s hand when it was over and smirking as I told him he was a brave man. The moderator was a pillar of well-formed faith, but this meeting had attracted just about every possible caricature of a Catholic.
There was a middle-aged woman who told us all the wonderful things a New Age nun was teaching her: something about secrets written in Sanskrit and how wind and sand talk to us. Another guy was there with his son and was clearly perturbed about recent scandals in the Church and despite his agitation, was there sincerely seeking faith.

Sitting directly across the table from me was a guy who really knew his stuff! This guy not only knew his faith well, but he also had a lot of secular knowledge that supported the Faith (I was particularly impressed that he knew Nietzsche died in a madhouse.) But every time this guy started to speak, you could feel the tension rise in the room. He didn’t share the Faith…he didn’t present the Faith…he bludgeoned you with it!
I think one of the biggest mistakes faithful, well formed Catholics make it that we think that if we don’t defend the Faith like a bazooka to the face that somehow we are watering it down. There is a difference between zeal and defensiveness.

I remember searching for the fullness of the Faith years ago and even though I was desperate to know the Truth, I was horrified that someone might actually tell me. God was good enough to reveal the Faith to me in chunks that I could deal with, understand, and accept and he gave me time to let my faith grow roots. Now that I have the answers I longed for and am so jazzed about it, sometimes I forget how patient God was with me and I find myself losing my temper as I try and CRAM the Truth down a stubborn person’s throat.

I read a great letter to the editor in This Rock magazine last summer from a “chastened apologist” and it really struck a chord with me. He said he had three rules for doing battle:
1) Stand up. State the truth clearly and dispassionately. Shut up and sit down.

2) Realize the only weapon the Christian possesses is the cross. It is not to be wielded against your opponent. It is to be crawled up on.

3) Live a clean life.

“If you do this, the truth will do the rest. The ontological reality is that all men’s hearts were made for the truth. The truth does not belong to you; it belongs to God, so at best you are a conduit.”
There are situations that call for a little extra zeal, but in general, this guy’s advice works for me. When I must defend the Faith, I try to approach everyone with a mother’s heart and this attitude is almost universally accepted. If you really want to win people over, be there for them when they have problems – your words will carry weight in their minds AND hearts.
I was so impressed with the disgruntled father and son team at that apologetics discussion because I knew if I felt the way they did, this meeting would be the last place I would go. I’m sure they were overwhelmed when it was through. I approached the dad and warmly shook his hand and smiled and said, “I hope you find what you are looking for.” His scowling face turned positively angelic.
Jesus did not give us the cross to bash people over the head with it. We have to ask, “Would I listen to me? Would I be attracted to someone who behaves like I do?” If you want to convey the truths of the Faith in a way that really “seals the deal”, be clear, be gentle, and point people in the direction of resources that can help them live a Godly life. We need to have that strong, uncompromising, joyful, charitable attitude that makes people say, “I want what she’s got!”

Monday, September 15, 2008


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: "Why is it that we think we only need give to the poor the basics when the poor also need beauty?" Dorothy Day

QUOTE II - "First class is not something you buy it is a state of mind." Fr. Benedict Groeschel CFR


As you might have picked up from yesterday we experienced a power outage due to the wind storm yesterday. You can see in the pictures the ominous sky and at least part of the aftermath; the loss of one of our beautiful trees that was kind enough not to crush the fence as you can see. Photo credit Ed.

HEAR YE! HEAR YE! Jay announceth Catholic Carnival 189!

I'm sure you heard about all of the parishes closing in the Diocese of Cleveland. Have you been wondering about what happens to all the art? The Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter sent out this link to an article telling what this Diocese is trying to do.

L.M. sent this link for the Rosary Congress being held here in all places Holy Rosary Church in October. Fr. Benedict Groeschel CFR will be speaking. See their website for more details.

Nikki sent this article in from the Los Angeles Times. Wow. I wonder Who came up with these wonderful insights. They are just so original. Have you ever heard them before? Thanks Nikki.

This final picture shows what happens to young ones that laugh at me. I'll get you my little pretty, and your mangy little dog too!

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Sorry this is late . . .power outage!
So one day I am in my office minding my own business when the phone rings. It is a person from the diocese saying that the bishop has decided to send me to Saint Sebastian to be administrator with an eye on becoming its pastor but not to tell anyone save my pastor.

I wonder if this moment is a bit like being engaged or finding out that you are pregnant (as a couple I mean) and deciding not to tell anyone yet for one reason or another? Life is about to change in a most dramatic way but you must act like nothing has happened. In fact, they requested that I so not so much as take a drive around the place. This was particularly difficult as one of the priests with whom I lived was a son of that parish and spent some time at dinner each night speculating who might be going there and asking us regularly if we had heard anything.

“Not that I can say . . .”

As odd as this might sound (and as difficult as it was to obey) this has a very useful purpose. There is a certain order in which these things should be announced. The pastor who is leaving should know first. It would be very disrespectful for him to find out through the grapevine. This and for other legitimate reasons it is kept on the hush hush. There is also the matter of “you are not really going there until the bishop officially tells you that you are going there.” That is a matter also of respect and obedience. That goes with the Catholic territory.

So one night over a pre-prandial when the pastor and I were alone I said, “I have something to tell you.” He got a smirk on his face and said, “You’re going to Saint Sebastian aren’t you?” Apparently I hadn’t been as secretive as I thought collecting boxes for no special purpose and throwing out accumulated paraphernalia.

Still it had to be kept on the QT. It is difficult to imagine how many conversations are future oriented until there is a red tag placed on them. Parishioners asking for things that take place in advance, calendar planning, and the like. This went on for about two weeks until my official meeting with the bishop. As it turned out my best priest friend (who I am proud to say I kept in the dark) had a meeting on the same day a little after I did so we decided to lunch together in between. Of course dodging his questions were most difficult. “Why are they calling you down a second time? Did they tell you what it was about? What do you think they want you for?” All I could do was promise that all would be revealed at lunch. That satisfied him.


To be continued. . .

Thursday, September 11, 2008


A new endeavor is begun today. We will look at the particular symbolism of one parish Church namely that of Saint Sebastian in Akron. We begin with the windows in the clear story which depict the Litany of Loreto that has Mary as Queen of Angels, Queen of Patriarchs, Queen of Prophets, etc . . . which in turn also tell us the story of salvation.

Most interestingly are the windows that ended up in the sanctuary. These windows depict the angels and their role in salvation history. As the Mass is said to be the closest thing to "heaven on earth" how appropriate to have here the action of salvation history that took place with heavenly bodies if I may refer to angels as such.

The word "angel" is not what these beings are but rather what they do. They are spirits. Angel means God's messengers. This is a bit like a person being a mailman. Delivering mail is what they do not who they are. These angels then act on God's behalf to further the cause of salvation history in creation.

To the left as you face the sanctuary is a window depicting the Archangel Michael. Here Michael is thrusting Satan out of heaven with the flaming sword of expulsion in his right hand and we can see just the tip of the fallen angel's wing as he descends into the fires of hell. In his left hand he holds the scales of justice as he administers punishment to Satan and his spirits against God. On the bottom left is an angel holding a palm branch that, as mentioned earlier, represents victory. Above that angel is an angel swinging a thurible (balanced by a similar angel on the other side of Saint Michael) whose rising incense asks God that our actions and worship be pleasing to Him. "Let my prayers be set before You as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice" (Psalm 141:2). At top left is an angel holding a cross that was intended to have conquered God but then is used by God as the ultimate foil of the Devil by which death and sin is defeated. The final angel at center top holds the cup of salvation. It is interesting to note that of the private prayers a priest might say before receiving communion in part is this, "Let it not bring me condemnation but health in mind and body." For those who are friends of God it is life giving elixir (My cup runneth over), for those who are not it is condemnation (The cup of wrath). And thus is the power of darkness overthrown.

Here is the window directly opposite. At center is the archangel Gabriel who, with horn in hand, announces to Mary, depicted below by the letter "M" and the lily (symbol of her purity) that she has been chosen to be the vessel of the incarnation. To his left is the archangel Raphael accompanies Tobia (Tobit's son) on a long journey (hence the staff) and provides for him a cure for his father's blindness made from a fish (hence the fish).

Across the top of the window are three cherubim who have six sings and are covered with eyes and are thus all seeing creatures. The first orders God's command with pointed hand directing Tobit and the directives of the Old Testament in general. The second holds open the Old Testament showing that Jesus is to fulfill it. The last wears a stole and points to Jesus' scepter showing Him to be the High Priest, below him an angel holds a sword showing Jesus to be the Victim, and finally the orb showing Him to be Ruler of the Universe. Here can be seen three great ages: the first panel before the incarnation, the incarnation itself, and creation after the incarnation.