Thursday, October 29, 2009


I won't be writing to you again until after All Hallows Eve so here is your Halloween post! Have a great weekend. Here is Sebastian's Halloween picture?

It wouldn't be Halloween without Making Fiends. Here is a Halloween Making Fiends game. And here is the Halloween special!

More Halloween videos:

Just a silly Halloween game.

From the USCCB website.

October 31 is Halloween. According to Sister Maureen Shaughnessy, Assistant Secretary for Catechesis and Leadership Formation for the U.S. Bishops' Department of Education, "Halloween gives us the opportunity to help people of all ages reconnect with the Christian understanding of this very popular holiday. Originally this day was celebrated by the Celts in England and Ireland as the end of their year. On that day they remembered all those who had died during the past year."

A number of customs that evolved related to this had to do with ghosts and scary things. As Christians we celebrate this day as the eve of All Saints, and in fact, many parishes and Catholic schools use this opportunity to have young people connect to the lives of saints - their own name saints or patronal saints connected to their parishes or ethnic backgrounds. It provides a time for storytelling, dressing up and celebrating.

More Halloween stuff over at Catholic Mom.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Church architecture is fascinating. I think I am a frustrated architect. It seems that there are more nook and cranny places to explore in churches than in any other type of building. This is particularly true if it is an older church.

I have one example for you today. You have seen St. Adelbert church pictured here before. Notice the outside. It is fairly straightforward architecture with a fairly standard roof line.
The inside is fairly different however. It has a rounded ceiling and a dome in apse.

That means that somehow a round inside must fit into a more angular outside. The result is a square shell that looks as though it is hiding a stolen Goodyear blimp.

The high altar in this particular building is actually part of the wall. There is no wall behind the altar – the altar is literally part of the wall from the mensa all the way up reredos. From a door behind the altar you can climb a narrow ladder to the top of the altar and look out at the Church.

Newer church buildings tend to be you see what you get. Not there is anything wrong with that - just lest interesting for snoops like me. But perhaps, if you are lucky enough to have a church with an interesting touch such as this you can look up (after you prayers are done) and imagine how the inside of your church building fits into the outside. Do the pillars actually support the roof or is it ornamental. Sometimes a pitched ceiling is just for beauty and in the cieling you can see a double inverted V - the church celing and then the actual roof.


When I see a Roman collar (or a habit) I feel a sense of security. Not just because I am a priest, but always have. When a crowd is panned on T.V. or in a movie I have a good feeling if I see a wimple or a white square at the neck. But it is not like that for everybody.

I had the pleasure of having breakfast with a fine gentleman who happens to be a Protestant minister who is seriously thinking about become Catholic (please pray for him.) Apparently one of his charisms is befriending people who have fallen away from practicing their Christianity and gently bringing them back into God’s house. We talked a bit about fallen away Catholics and what might be done to bring them back into the Church.

He said that usually such persons have been hurt in some way. They have allowed the personality of a priest or some other Church personality or practice to get in between them and the Eucharist. I suppose this is not so unusual. There are over 4,000 people here at St. Sebastian it is hard to believe that somebody or even some persons will not have a personality clash with the 2 priests or 5 staff members of the parish or catch them on the wrong day or . . . But in any event, it many times cannot be the priest then that brings them back to the sacraments even if it is not the priest that was the cause of their leaving. “For some people the collar is very symbolic and brings with it a whole bunch of baggage.” I bet it is the same thing being a parent. If someone else says something your kid will take it as Gospel even though you have been saying for years.

That is not to say that the collar is a bad thing. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. I find that the collar has a very important role. But such a powerful symbol can also have a backlash. It can be associated in a negative way with a person who has had a poor experience of Church.

For all of these reasons it cannot be (nor should it be) the priest’s role to bring in all of the lapsed Catholics. (And it seems most programs are priest centered!) But it is the Church’s job. And of course who is the Church? You! A good number of parishioners have returned to Mass because somebody said, “Do you want to go to Mass with me?” Often times there is no need for theological debate, just a friendly invitation and an ear to listen. If there is need for theological debate and you feel you are in over your head just listen and promise to get back to the person if need be. You do not have to have all the answers when you are asked. And through investigation then you will know more too.

If you can get them back in the doors and feeling somewhat secure then introduce them to a priest that you know and trust (hopefully you have one) and help them come into a better relationship with the symbols of the Church.

Monday, October 26, 2009


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: "Where there is no mystery there is only the monotony of the obvious." Michael Schravzer

QUOTE II: "Having lots of money is no guarantee of good taste, but it can make the lack of it more glaringly obvious." from Phillip Herr's, "The Pale Criminal"


Of course those who have been to an Adam's Ale event know I like shamefacedly like the movie the Princess Bride. Looking for something else I accidentally came across the Princess Bride personality test. Take yours here. Here is my terrible result:
Chestertonains! I am looking for these people. We are almost ready to start an Akron branch and are looking for some direction and hope you can help (and I've lost your Email.) I realized later I forgot to post the picture! Here it is!
CK sent this link to Fr. Barron's vidoes. She reports, "Fr. Barron's videos are outstanding. Very rational and non-confrontational." Thanks CK!

I guess today is the day for personality tests! JJ sent this one in. "Draw a Pig!"

The Diocese of Cleveland has a website for religious items from closed parishes that will only go to other parishes and religious institutions out of respect for the items and the institutions from whence they came. But it doesn't hurt to look. Here is the site.

Katy sent this link to Dayton Magazine that contains an article about evolution. Thanks Katy

I took Sebastian for a walk in the park across the street from the parish. Here are some pictures.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


My day away from the parish usually begins with breakfast with another priest friend. Sometimes we kill the rest of the early afternoon together unless he has a golf game or I need to run to the farm. This week I asked him if he had ever seen Saint Mary Parish in Akron. This old Akron parish is, IMHO, one of the most significant architectural buildings in the diocese. Unfortunately it has hit on hard times with a highway cutting of its boundaries on one side and the neighborhood in general changing drastically; most of the Catholics having moved elsewhere. So next summer it will close and I guess as sad as it is it’s one of those things.

I did tell him that he must see it before it closes for good however as it is truly stunning. We were able to gain access off of hours and have a self guided tour. It is pure Romanesque architecture, stunning in its artistry and so well proportioned. I don’t know how to put it other than to say that it is a building that relates well to human beings without pandering to them while still directing glory to God. (I would like to talk to an architect some day that would help me say that in terms that other people could understand.)

A secretary told us that her son made a film in the basement of the church. Apparently the large marble pillars are supported in the basement by large mounds of dirt. (We did not get to venture into the basement. Darn! Nor did we venture up into the bell tower but I hope to impose on the kind pastor there sometime before the snow flies. Who am I kidding – even if the snow flies I’ll still ask.)

One of their parishioners joined St. Sebastian this past week. He is a seminarian and he had a grand welcome at this parish. We are so glad to have him here though I am sad that it is at St. Mary’s expense. We were able to throw him into the thick of the parish giving talks at the end of all of the Masses for Priesthood Sunday, eating at the choir’s clam bake, hanging out at the sports boosters bonfire, going for a ride in the ’46 through Sandrun Park and taking a trip into the bell tower Sunday afternoon to take in what we believe to be the panicle of the fall show. Here are some pictures.

While we were up there the hawks seemed perturbed that we were up there. They were heading to the tower when they spotted us. Someone sounded the alarm, “Here comes the hawks!” Have you ever noticed how your hands stop working when in panic mode like when you want to get into the house quickly and all of sudden you cannot operate a key and lock - or your phone goes off during Mass and you can’t even figure out what pocket it is in? So I stumble for the camera as he is headed dead on for us. I couldn’t pick it up, couldn’t figure which end was up, couldn’t turn it on, and couldn’t find the button to take the picture. And of course just as it was all figured out he veered off and headed away. A couple of shots were had though. Here is one.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Jerry was, of course, devastated. Thinking for sure that she would reappear over the next weeks and months he kept thinking that he spied her in a crowd or heard her voice across the room. With every door knock he was convinced it would be her on the other side of the door and every time the phone rang he answered with the question, “Mary?” But Mary had thoroughly disappeared. Nobody had seen hide nor hair of her.

Many friends stopped by to console Jerry. Even Mary’s friends would drop in but often made things worse by reminding him, “Well, Mary was different after all.” One girl in particular made it her mission to heal his love sick heart and one day; one long day afterward Jerry realized that he had come to love her. Not in the same way that he loved Mary, but he loved her none-the-less and so asked her to marry him. She gladly accepted and the a year later at the stately Sacred Heart Parish church a wedding was once again staged with twice as many people in attendance (for who knew what might happen this time) and a new priest just for luck.

Nothing out of the ordinary occurred however and the guests were not entirely truthful in their stated relief that the day went about as well as such days can for each of them had been secretly awaiting a new development in the whole drama. So whole wedding day, the honeymoon, and even the settling into their new home went pretty much without a hitch.

Another year passed and Jerry was home alone when the doorbell rang. He felt a familiar tingling sensation in his stomach though he was not sure why. His heart raced. He opened the door and there on the stoop was Mary, (still?) in her wedding gown, still radiant and hopeful looking. Next to her was the priest who was to marry them. “I’m ready now Jerry. I’m ready to say my half of the vows.”

Later he could only imaging how he must have looked; mouth agape, eyes bugged out, arms hanging limply. “B – b – b – but Mary! You left me at the altar.”

“That was the test silly! I warned you it would happen before I said, ‘I do.’ And now I am ready to forsake all and give my love to you fully for the rest of our lives!”

“Oh gee Mary. I don’t know how to . . . you see . . . well gosh Mary, I’m married now.”

“I don’t understand.” She said it though with a wry smile as if she really did understand. “You promised publically to love me, and honor me, in good times and in bad forsaking all others for the rest of your lives. Did you falter in that so quickly?”

“But Mary! What was I supposed to do? I didn’t know!”

“But you said you were sick in love with me. That no matter what you had to have me and I told you that I would say ‘I do’ did I not? Can your true love only last a year and half?”

He opened his mouth but nothing came out.

She laughed. “Don’t worry my sweet Jerry. I knew you wouldn’t wait. You didn’t really love me like you thought you did. You wanted love from me, your new desire is to love your wife. You are going to be happier now than you know as long as you choose to love your wife in good times and bad, sickness and health, all the days of your life. I would have (and did!) eventually disappointed you and your dream would have been ruined, but with her you are building a dream together.” With that she stepped backwards into the yard – really walking this time not just fading away. When she reached the middle of the yard she lifted her hands and as she did so she was transformed into a giant magnolia tree that over the years always seemed to be in blossom. Though people would comment on its beauty nobody ever questioned its blossoms. And on occasion when Jerry was standing out on his front stoop eyeing a pretty young lady passing by a branch might fall from the tree and clunk him on the head at which point he would remember that he was happy, turn back into the house where was his wife and he would love her.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Jerry heard the words but they seemed not to make sense. He sputtered for a few moments and then, still on his knee and a bit dazed said, “No Mary. You’re wrong! I’m sick in love for you and there’s nothing for it. You are stuck in my heart like an indelible mark. I want you in my life forever Mary. I’ll do anything. Just say that you will be mine or I think I’ll die!”

They stayed mute, staring at each other for what seemed like eternity, the only sound was the rumbling of bowling balls and pins in the back ground. Finally Mary sighed deeply and said, “I’ll tell you what. I’ll say yes under one condition.”

“Whatever it is Mary, I’ll gladly endure it.”

“Oh, I know you believe dearest.” She paused for a few more moments. “Here it is. We will continue from this day forth as if I said yes. But at some point before I say, ‘I do’ I will subject you to a test of your undying love and if you pass, I will choose you and love you for the rest of our lives.”

Jerry positively beamed! He knew quite instinctively that he could pass any test his sweetest could devise and so over the next six months they went about the process of planning their wedding. Every day Jerry would wake and wonder if that day would be the day that Mary would try her test of his love till finally it was days before the wedding ceremony and he had begun to think that perhaps the test had already occurred and he had passed it so easily that he had not even noticed it.

The wedding day was a glorious fall spectacular and even the trees were in their finest form. Not to be outdone the attendees came to the wedding Mass dressed in their Sunday best and packed the beautiful old gothic Sacred Heart Parish church. The magic moment came for the bride to walk down the aisle and the mighty pipe organ, roused from its too long slumber of inept players by the finest organist money could persuade to play for the marriage rites, began the bride’s fanfare. Mary appeared at the end of aisle. Jerry’s breath escaped him and tears filled his eyes. The congregation gasped. As she passed each pew the people’s hearts were moved in love by her beauty. She placed her hand into her intended’s and electricity shot through his body. Everything was a blur to him until it came time to exchange their vows.

They stood holding right hands before the priest in front of the high altar and the priest began, “Do you Jerome Waverly take Mary Malloy as your lawfully wedded wife? Do you promise to be true to her in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, will you love her an honor her all the days of your life?”

With great emotion Jerry responded, “I do!”

The priest then turned to Mary. “Do you . . .”

“Wait,” she interrupted him. Jerry’s heart began to beat wildly. Turning her eyes to the man who had just publically declared his undying love for her she asked, “Do you mean that Jerry?”

“This must be the test!” he thought to himself. So mustering all of his will he definitively declared, “Yes, Mary. Absolutely.”

“In good times and in bad? Sickness and health? All the days of your life no matter what?”

There was a certain amount of trembling in his heart and with just a slightly less assured voice responded, “But of course Mary.”

“Then remember our deal.” And with that she left. Well, she didn’t exactly walk out as much as it seemed she faded away - or perhaps back. In any event she was gone. Oddly enough nobody seemed to think it terribly strange. Mary was, after all, different.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I need a little a break from blogging as I've a lit of work to push through this week so here is something not done here for a very long time. This is a story in three parts that I wrote as a seminarian. It is a little silly but here is PART ONE.

Jerry Waverly met the love of his life in Mary. In fact, everyone loved Mary to one degree or another. That being said It was a strange point of fact that when describing her the first adjective anyone would use was, “different.” Not even would Jerry wax eloquently on her beauty, her intelligence, her honesty, her virtue, or any other of her outstanding qualities but simply state that she was different. Even when asked by his brother over the phone to describe this person that had so thoroughly stolen his heart he found himself saying, “Well, Harry, I guess I would have to say that Mary is, well, different.”

Mary was indeed different and difficult to encapsulate with common descriptions. That would have to be the job of a poet. And though Jerry had the heart of poet he lacked the words. The closest he was able to come was to say that “when she was in the room it was if the sun were shining” and though it seemed short of the mark he was satisfied with his poetical effort. For like the light of the sun there was still something not quite substantial about her. You never really possessed Mary, you enjoyed her light when she was with you and when she left the warmth of her presence stayed with you but if you wanted to somehow hold on to a piece of her it more likely left an achy hole in your heart.

Despite this Harry loved her with all his heart – or so he thought. He did what he could to demonstrate to her his great devotion. Of course he employed all of the traditional means such as sending flowers with love notes, making minor repairs around her humble but charming cottage, and making sure that he always looked and behaved his best whenever he even thought he might see her. There were also the less than usual means of demonstrating love that he tried. When he was painting her parlor he first painted, “Jerry loves Mary” on the wall. And then, fearing that the message needed further clarification quickly added, “and Mary loves Jerry.” Before Mary could see what he had done he quickly painted the wall completely over with the hope that somehow that subliminal message would get through to her and reinforce her love for him.

Soon he grew sick in his adoration of her. Whenever Mary left (it is difficult to say that she ever left, she seemed to just fade away) and the warmth of her visit had dissipated Jerry would mope around droop-should shouldered, unable to eat, unable to sleep, neither satisfied sitting around nor being distracted by activity. The ache in his heart was extreme. “I’m sick in love with her!” he declared to himself. “There’s no helping it. I must have her! I am going to ask her to marry me as soon as I can.”

He had hoped that this decision would somehow assuage his passion for a spell but it only made it grow worse. So one day in a fit of unquenchable passion, quite out of character for him since he was usually given to romantic and picturesque declarations of his love, he fell on one knee at the bowling alley – right on the lane where Mary was picking up her ball! - and presented the ring that he carried around in his pocket just in case something like this would happen and pleaded, “Marry me Mary!”

Mary’s eyes beamed and a beatific smile graced her lips, but there was something wrong. “Oh, Jerry,” said Mary, “I do love you. I love you with all of my heart. I could spend the rest of my life loving you. I would easily choose you among all possible suitors to be the object of my marital love. But even though you do not realize it, you do not love me in that manner. So because I love you so much, I say no, Jerry, I will not marry you.”

Monday, October 19, 2009


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “God has more right to be obeyed than man.” “Pacem in Terrace” 1963.

QUOTE II: “God’s wrath and God’s mercy are two sides of the same coin.” Fr. John Loya


R. B. sent this six minute video in. He admitted that it might not be appropriate for the blog as its nature is controversial (the point of the video is to save a parish church from closing.) But can I give a disclaimer that states that I do not stand in defiance of my bishop by posting it but merely want to show an excellent video with some fantastic shots of some outstanding architecture? Whoever you are that made this video - would you come to Saint Sebastian and do one? Nice work! I might suggest a different soundtrack for here though. Thanks R. B.

The Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter reports, "WVIZ, Cleveland's public broadcasting station, will broadcast the locally-produced program Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist: Everybody's Church on Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 10 p.m."

From the same source, "The Catholic Bishops of Ohio have reviewed three state wide, non partisan, issues that will be before the electorate on November 3, 2009." For more information look here.

In response to last week's post on science and the Church, Mike sent in this extremely interesting site. Thanks Mike.

My sister sent this video in about God and dogs. Thanks sis - It's so true I think as Sebastian sits right next to me as I write this. About 2 minutes.

P.V. sent this 6 minute video in for Respect Life Month:

Need a laugh - or need to come down off of a happiness high? M.W. sent in :)


Sunday Mass is going to begin in about 20 minutes and I know there is still something not quite right about my homily though I cannot quite put my finger on it. I take the stack of stickem’ pads on which this weekend’s words are written and sit in the sanctuary and read them over one more time. “Maybe it’s the ending.” A pass is made back into the sacristy. In the supplies drawer is a fresh stack of stickem’ is retrieved and the last page is rewritten. It still seems that something is missing but maybe it’s just nerves.

The church is packed today for some reason. It’s hard to tell when Mass will be packed and when wont. It is a little like tossing an oblong water balloon in the air that grows large at one end at one moment and the shrinks to almost nothing the next as all the water surges to another part. There could be a game involved, nice weather, or an elf stubbing his toe. Who knows?

During the break in the readings I have an urge to pray about the homily. Not just pray in my head but to get down on my knees and pray. This happens every now and at the most inconvenient times. So I have reached a compromise with God. (In actuality God did have much say in the matter. Like my dentist I say, “This is what I am willing to do.”) I try to reach down as surreptitiously as possible and touch my knee with my hand. Anybody watching might think I have a trick knee acting up. “God, it aint going to work without you,” is the prayer. It isn’t enough but it will have to do.

At every Mass I pray this prayer in a quiet moment before preaching. It may sound childish but I think it powerful. “God send your Holy Spirit down upon us. Guardian angels help us. Open our minds, soften our hearts, help me say what needs to be said and help us hear what we need to hear for Your glory and our benefit.”

The deacon finishes the Gospel and I wait a moment as he and the candle bearers pass by. The short walk to the ambo is made. The stickem’ notes that the servers have put on the lower shelf are brought out and the microphone is adjusted. A quick look is made out at the congregation. They are willing to be captivated – for about 15 seconds. If you do not have anything to say they will move on to other thoughts that concern them. You open your mouth and begin . . .

Friday, October 16, 2009


Interactive art has always fascinated me. Not the kind that calls you to do anything – but art that works between pieces. For example, in Lublijana, Slovenia there is a statue of a famous poet (I believe and I can’t remember his name – sorry) that stands in the town square. “Notice the way he is looking,” we were instructed by our host, “He stares across the square to where his love lived, a love he could never have.” And sure enough on the side of the building where she once lived was a sculpture of window with her leaning out of it. Pretty cool.

At our own cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist there is a statue of Saint John. He holds in his hands a scroll and a pen and he looks off to the side. Painted on the wall where he stares are the visions that he saw and wrote down in the book of Revelation. Again, pretty cool.

Here is pictured the mosaic and the altar of repose (formally the high altar) at Saint Sebastian. It struck me as odd at first until reading about it a little more in depth. It is a picture of the Last Supper. The twelve disciples are gathered and Jesus stands at the back with the chalice in His hand. One might be inclined to think it odd to have a Last Supper portrayal without a table on which the supper is set. But there is one! The artist included the altar of sacrifice as the table around which, not only do the disciples gather but around which we gather. As we are not recreating or enacting a Last Supper but are present at the life death and resurrection of Our Lord – are present at THE Last Supper. This artistic endeavor makes for an outstanding theological statement – all done with symbols and art.

This is what can occur when artists are trained in sacred art, know their theology and life of the Church, when the Church acts as patroness of the arts and refuses simply to buy their “art” out of catalogues.

Need I say it again? Pretty cool.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


It is fully realized that this post might easily be misinterpreted. What will be stated here is so contradictory to “common knowledge” as to label me anti-science. Yet I am quite the opposite. I have a great appreciation, gratitude, and respect for science. But like the Church, the scientific world is run by humans and so had its foibles and limitations both in leadership and in its following. And when taken to the extreme it is in every way like a religion.

It is interesting to look at what was taken as historical scientific fact in the past which has in more recent times been declared bunk. Yet those who held the position were militant and those who did not follow the absolute rule of science were considered kooks at best. We will find that today too. Some of our practices will seem to future generations barbaric and our beliefs in some scientific principles silly. In the current blind spot of the moment we will find it difficult to see what those positions are. Perhaps it will be embryonic stem cell experimentation. Yet are not the lines drawn between true believers and non-believers? That is part of the fun of being human. That is why should be careful not to take ourselves too seriously.

Science also has its collection of stories many of which are simply not true but are so firmly a part of our folklore as to seem obviously true to everyone. Finally some fairness in the Galileo case is surfacing in that it had less to do with science and religion butting heads than it did politics and wounded prides. Alfred Whitehead said of him, “He suffered an honorable detention and mild reproof, before dying peacefully in his bed.” Not to mention the Church paid him a pension all the while.

According to David Lindberg, former professor of the history of science writes, “One obvious myth is that before Columbus, Europeans believed nearly unanimously in a flat Earth – a belief . . . enforced by a medieval Church. . . The truth is that it’s almost impossible to find an educated person after Aristotle who doubts that the Earth is a sphere. In the Middle Ages, you couldn’t emerge from any kind of education, cathedral school or university, without being perfectly clear about the Earth’s sphericity and even its approximate circumference.”

Let us not forget to mention that it was the Church that began universities and that would have been the institution teaching these very things they are accused of suppressing.

So, in reading the book, “The Case for a Creator” by Lee Strobel I had to laugh when I came to the part saying how it was a myth that the Church suppressed all knowledge that the earth was not the center of the universe. Ptolemy, Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler, Dante, it was a very common thought that the earth was not the center of the universe. Why did I laugh? Because I already knew this. Well, I didn’t know it, I had all of the information and never put it together myself. The ancient writings – even opening my Bible to see early man’s image of what the universe was – none of these showed a universe circling around an all important earth. It was an insistence of the Enlightenment that the Church taught this scientific heresy.


But what have I to go on this? Other people’s writings and word. What do people have to go on science? Other people’s writings and word. We will never be able to reproduce a stem cell experiment in our kitchens nor prove the Resurrection though I am more willing to put my unqualified belief in the Church’s hat.

I trust science and scientists to do science – to make life better and help us understand more – not to design morals and ethics, not to give meaning and purpose to life, not to save my soul or give me everlasting hope.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


So let's say that you are in a state of sin and need to go to confession. Before you is a great temptation. It could be anything. Maybe your weakness is gluttony and right in front of you – for absolutely free – a gift of a friend that you do not want to disappoint – is the biggest, baddest, sloppiest, most gloriously monstrous sunday you have only seen in your dreams. And it’s all for you. Go ahead! Dig in! After all, you are already in a state of sin and have to go to confession anyway. Right? I mean, you already blew it. So what’s the point in resisting - what good is resisting and doing good when you are in a state of sin anyway?

Ah! But it does matter. This is a dangerous mindset to have (and believe me, I’ve had the temptation too!) Instead of practicing virtue and to be stronger in it when we have gone to confession, we practice our vice and grow stronger in it.

And in truth it just doesn’t make sense if you take the time to think about it. Place it on a human level. Suppose you are man who has really ticked off your wife. Would you think, “I’ve already messed up our relationship and so, before I make a great effort at apologizing I am going to keep on doing what annoys her since it won’t matter anyway.”

Au contraire mon fraire! To continue in the annoying behavior will only make your apology seem less sincere. “And you kept doing it anyway because you thought, what they hay, she’s already mad at me?” That is not a magical formula for a great apology.

God is a person too. A Divine Person grant you – but a Person with whom we are in relationship. And even if we have gone a long way in messing things up, we can start to make amends even before the official apology known as confession. Start practicing virtue instead of vice. Our mending of our lives will be more sincere and our capacity for virtue will have been strengthened.

And gladly, we will have less to confess.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “Ironically, to say that science is the only begetter of truth is self-contradicting, because that statement in itself cannot be tested by the scientific method. It’s a self defeating philosophical assumption.” Attributed to Stephen C. Meyer PhD in Lee Strobel’s, “The Case for a Creator”

QUOTE II: “Moderate strength is shown in violence, supreme strength in levity.” from G. K. Chesterton’s, “The Man Who Was Thursday”


ANSWERS TO FRIDAY’S QUIZ: How on earth did you know the answers. I hadn’t a clue to most of them. Did I give horribly poor alternatives? Or is there that much hope out there for knowledge about the faith?

Perpetual Abbess: b) Head of errant French abbies. There was the bad habit if appointing lay persons abbot or abbess so that they could collect revenues of the monastery. Mary was elected perpetual abbess of the Benedictines so that they could avoid this practice.

Client: c) Someone who places themselves in the care of Mary.

Crown of 12 stars: a) From the book of Revelations.

Our Lady's Dowry: a) England as at one time England was so devoted to her and the Catholic Church and so should surpass the rest of the world in their devotion. Times change.

Dormition: c) Assumption - since she did not die but fell asleep when assumed into heaven.

Garden Enclosed: b) From the Song of Songs, "My bride, my true love, is a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed up."

Farced Gloria: c) Farcing is "filling up," or adding phrases between lines of a psalm, hymn, or even the Gloria and so forth. Often on feasts of Our Lady words to her honor might have been added.


I completely forgot about this. There is still some good news about in Catholic architecture. Rob sent this link in to see pictures of the church they are building out where he lives. Thanks Rob.

Ever wanted to know more about Our Lady of Czestachowa? Lou sent in this link. Thanks - it will thrill Fr. Swirski!

This is a great 3 minute video sent in by PV. Thanks.

Here is an early fall picture (albeit blury) from the bell tower looking across West Akron toward St. Paul's.

Monday, October 12, 2009


I was jarred awake by barking at 2AM in the morning. Sebastian heard something in the house and wanted me to know about it. I put some more clothes on and walked out into the dark house. There was a pounding on the back door. The first thought that came to mind was that it was the police and something had happened on the parish grounds. This happened at a previous parish. In fact, at that previous parish the police had a key to the rectory and I walked out of my room in my unmentionables to see what noise I heard there. Running into a huge police man with a flashlight and badge I decided never, ever to step out of my room again without ample clothing. (In case you are wondering, it was a false alarm that time.)

With that scenario in mind I thought little of opening the back door. A gentleman was standing there and said that he was hungry. “Wait here,” I told him and went to the refrigerator. Opening the door nothing made sense. I was so inebriated with sleep that I could not even put a simple meal together. In the end I think I put a bunch of cheese, bread, and pop in a bag and handed it to him all the time Sebastian straining to get at whomever it was.

That is pretty much the end of the story though it was not until later that it occurred to me to ask myself who on earth pounds on a rectory door at 2AM for a bag of cheese. Mighty glad that Sebastian is around.

But it also brings to mind part of the beauty of the Catholic Church. You might remember the post about the architectural safari to Detroit. Most of the churches that were open in the city that visited (usually in the roughest neighborhoods) had nobody living in the rectory. There was no one to ask if we could see the church let alone there be someone there to knock on the door at 2AM to ask for a bag of cheese. Yet typically that is what we have in a Catholic Church. Not sitting there waiting for someone to call or stop by, not always available at that exact moment a person may wish, not always having cheese available – but there. The pastor’s home is at his pastorate.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Public Library and somehow ending up in my hands. There was noticed a few entries that I had no clue as to what they were. So I sat down (and yes) read through the dictionary. Here is a quiz for you concerning some terms that I found interesting.

Perpetual Abbess
a) Because she is the abbess of the saints.
b) As head of errant French monasteries
c) An alternate title for Mother of us all.
a) An old title for Mary as a servant of God
b) A non-Catholic who is pliant in their belief in Mary
c) Someone who places themselves in the care of Mary
Crown of Twelve Stars
a) From the Book of Revelation 12:1
b) As queen of the 12 tribes of Israel
c) As queen of the heavens from the 12 months of the year.
Our Lady’s Dowery
a) England
b) Money given to a monastery for accepting a lady
c) Penance that she will do for you
a) The place where the Holy Family slept after Jesus’ birth
b) Mary’s contemplation of Jesus when He slept
c) An old name for the Assumption
Garden Eclosed
a) The new Eden
b) Title for Mary from the Song of Songs
c) The place where Mary’s followers can find safety from evil
Farced Gloria
a) From a “faked” practice Mass in honor of Our Lady (used by seminarians)
b) From a prayer service in anticipation of a Mass (such as on Good Friday)
c) Words added to fill out the Gloria adding devotions to Mary on Feasts of Our Lady

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Here’s another dangerous line when applied inappropriately:

“My God would not do that!”

Now, that may be a true and good line to use if indeed the person proposing that God does such and so or that He hates whatever or that He punishes people who do this or that and they are wrong. “My God, the One True God would indeed not do that because it would be against His nature as He as revealed it to us.”

But often it is used to destroy constructive dialogue on a given topic. For example instead of debating a matter such as the morality of contraception someone might declare, “My God: doesn’t care/thinks it peachy.” Thus ends all discussion. If God truly is telling you (or you think that He is) to do or not to do something what room is there for debate?

But worse yet, if that position is held in ignorance, if that position is held because it simply is preferred by the person who holds it, if that person has never explored Scripture, Tradition, rejected a position without examining the whys and wherefores of it, if such a person simply decides that God agrees with them, then they have created a god in their own image – worse yet, in many ways have declared themselves a god.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


If you want to get a round of applause in a gathering of priests, make the comment that the Church should get into the habit of hiring someone else to do all of the day to day work of the parish leaving the priest to be able to focus on sacraments and other ministry. Indeed some places experience that already where there is a grave shortage of priests. A person who is not a priest runs the day to day business of the parish and a priest comes in to pray the Mass and here confessions on a circuit. (They are nicknamed sacramental machines) But the idea that a priest be relieved of the “business” end of a parish is gravely flawed.

The first problem is that legally and canonically a pastor is responsible for the parish. So even if a priest hired someone to be, say, a business manager and does not keep an adequate eye on him and something goes wrong guess who the bishop (who is the pastor of the diocese) is going after – and perhaps more importantly guess who is going to be sued. It is in the very structure of the Church as a canonical and legal entity that this would happen. So to say that a pastor should be assigned to a parish but be relieved of all the non-ministry concerns is impossible without a major restructuring or at least exempt status in worldwide law.

But that is not even the most important part. The “business end of things” IS part of the priest’s ministry. I will grant you that the regulations and paper work in our day are becoming outrageously complicated and it is near if not completely impossible for a priest to any longer run a large parish without assistants such as a business manager and a couple of secretaries (at least in the U.S.) But he is the “father” and pastor of this community and as such he should be finally responsible for the goings on within the family.

Now, I will admit that I actually enjoy the nuts and bolts along side of the spiritual. And at times the nuts and bolts take up entirely too much of my quality time. But I imagine that is the case in everyone’s life and you learn to deal with it. The nuts and bolts are not a completely separate category from the spiritual. That too is a terrible misconception. All human activity has a spiritual component and it ALL works together for our salvation. It is not simply a necessary evil but an essential part of humanity and therefore an essential part of salvation. We as a people already compartmentalize our lives to a far too great extent separating what I do at work, home, or school, from what I do at church – a huge error in Christian living and baptismal calling. We should not further that misconception as a Church.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is a proof against all arguments, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation.” Herbert Spencer (h/t to TK)

QUOTE II: “Hope is the gift that keeps giving when we think God is asleep.” Michael Essmen


Bishop Lennon spoke at the First Friday Club of Akron this past Month. The podcast of this talk and of all the First Friday speakers can be found here.

I am very wary of getting excited about movies that are reported being the end of Catholic Church but the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter reports, "NEW YORK (CNS) - The fashionable "new atheism" - popularized in book form by such authors as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens -- unexpectedly slithers its way into the neighborhood cineplex with the arrival of "The Invention of Lying" (Warner Bros.).Though its trailer gives no clue as to its true agenda, this venomous supposed comedy is set in a world where lying is unknown and every word spoken is accepted as truth and where -- not accidentally, the screenplay implies -- God does not exist. Until, that is, failed documentary screenwriter and all-around loser Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais) spontaneously discovers the ability to deceive." More here.

F. S. sent this site in: "Just put your mouse on a city anywhere in the world and the newspaper headlines pop up... Double click and the page gets larger.... I thought you all would like to know about this site, if you don't already. I also found you can read the entirepaper on some of the websites if you click on the right place." Click here.

Hey! Father Pfeiffer is starting to fit right in here at good ole' Saint Sebastian!

Monday, October 5, 2009


A number of years ago some friends and I went on what we termed an architectural safari to see some of the inner city churches that the Diocese of Detroit had closed. The neighborhoods were scary. And it seemed every few blocks had some sort of fire controlled or otherwise going on. Helicopters circled overhead though they may have just happened to be there they added to the drama. The churches were pretty much abandoned. The doors were chained shut from the outside. One man had simply cut the chains, declared himself a bishop, and started holding services. Inside the windows were still pretty much intact and the pipe organ still sat in the choir loft.

At another parish rocks were being thrown through the windows. We had a desire to see if we could find a way in and rescue anything left behind before it was destroyed (that’s called breaking and entering) and some nice gentleman started calling at us from across the street, “Do you want in? Will get you in! We can find a way!” We respectfully declined and left for our own beloved diocese.

I tell you this in order to let you know that our diocese is doing a good job at a difficult task when it needs to decommission and shutter a building that is no longer used as a parish. Everything is taken. All religious goods and art are inventoried and made available to other churches (albeit at a charge at times.) Even the school supplies and rectory furniture is found a place to go rather than just abandoning them in the building.

The other day I had an occasion to be part of this process. A local parish celebrated their final Mass about a week ago. As they prepared to close the doors, there were a couple of details that needed special attention – details that I had not considered before. The Eucharist left in the tabernacle and the holy oils needed to find a proper home. A phone call was made to St. Sebastian and the Monday following the final Mass tracks were made for the parish to meet with the priest and the persons helping him give a respectful shuttering of the buildings. The holy oils were retrieved from the ambry and a ciborium with the Blessed Sacrament was removed from the tabernacle and with that the Sanctuary Lamp was extinguished not to be lit again. They were transported to St. Sebastian and given home once again.

In one way it was kind of sad. In another way it re-emphasized to me again the uniqueness of the Catholic Church – and of Catholic churches in general. They are more than just buildings set aside for worship. We cannot have prayer and then rearrange the furniture and have a dinner. It is the house of the Lord, Jesus truly present in the Blessed Sacrament, holy ground that makes a parish church special whether a human person be present there to pray at any given time or no.

Friday, October 2, 2009


Alright. Here is my go at the window from last week. Tell me what you think. First the lily. IMHO this is not directly referring to Mary but a legend of Saint Joseph. Notice the long stem. In apocryphal writings we find the story of the Jewish priests announcing that they are looking for an upright man of the tribe of Judah to be the spouse of Mary. Joseph went up with the other men and they prayed to find out who was the one chosen by God to espouse the Virgin. When they went to retrieve their staffs, Saint Joseph’s had miraculously blossomed marking him as the one chosen by God to be Mary’s husband and the foster father of Jesus.

Now, the doves can have a number of meanings. But let us place them in greater context. The crown above could refer to the Queenship of Mary and in the description mentioned last week that would work nicely. But if we acccept that the long stemmed lily is actually Saint Joseph’s staff then the crown should also be connected with him. It is through Joseph that Jesus is incorporated into the house of Judah and in the line of the great King David. The crown would denote the royal family into which Jesus was born.

This brings us finally to the two doves. At times in pictures of Saint Joseph a dove perches on top of his flowering staff to further symbolize his election by God to be the spouse of Mary. However there are two doves here so that does not hold. Other depictions of the Saint show him to be holding two doves to be taken to the temple at the presentation and I suggest that this is meaning of these two doves.

So I put forward that this window is actually about Joseph; chosen by God to be the spouse of Mary, who was of the line of King David, and who presented the doves in the temple legally marking him as the father of Jesus.

The question then is why is this at the shrine of Saint Anne? Perhaps it is because these are all persons important to Mary. There is of course Saint Anne her mother. Saint Joseph would be in the window to the left, and not pictured is the window to her right which has the angel Gabriel as well as a symbol of Jesus her Son.

Think you this is a solid case or do you prefer last week’s description?