Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Here's a treat for you! As you know it is the habit at Adam's Ale that when we approach our busy holy days I have come to rely on Guest Bloggers to fill the gaps when otherwise this space would have to go blank out of necessity. As we enter into this Holy Week it is my pleasure to hand the Adam's Ale reigns over to Mr. Patrick Schultz. He is a junior philosophy major at Borremeo Seminary here in the Diocese of Cleveland. He hails from Saint Mary Parish in Hudson, a hop, skip, and a twenty minute drive from Saint Sebastian. His philosophy teacher, Fr. F. who contributes to Quote Tuesday quite often suggested (with the permission of the seminary) that he submit a paper that he wrote to Adam's Ale. After reading it I was most excited that this space be venue for his first publishing.

I was able to meet Patrick at the Aquinas lecture this past week. It is also a pleasure to report that he is also quite a personable gentleman. So with no further ado, here is Part I of a two Part series.

Answering the “Hakuna-Matata” Culture of 21st Century America
By: Patrick R. Schultz

I was sitting next to a woman on a flight recently. We were sharing a pleasant conversation; she was telling me about her children and grandchildren, and I was sharing stories about me and my younger brother. The topic, however, turned, and she asked me where I go to school and what I study. Instead of avoiding the question, I dropped the bomb: “I am actually a seminarian studying for the Catholic priesthood.” She became quiet, and a puzzled look filled her lined face. She quipped, “Oh, that’s interesting,” at which point I thought the conversation was over. But then, she turned back and looked at me, and as if she were figuring out how to best word her question, she asked, “What on earth would make you want to do that, especially in this day and age?” Indeed, what on earth would compel anybody to walk such a path?

The modern world is ripe with possibilities and new frontiers for young people to explore and take part in. We can do things, go places, learn concepts, communicate, and live lifestyles, etc., that our forbearers could never have dreamed. American culture marches forward to a steady beat that rings out loudly: change, development, innovation, and progress. We live and move and have our being in a consumerist culture where the externals (money, career, popularity, image, power, etc.) are exalted on high. When our heroes are Hollywood celebrities and professional athletes, and our role models are The Housewives of Orange County and the cast members of MTV’s The Real World, it is logical that, given this cultural heartbeat and social framework, the priesthood could only appear as an arcane, outmoded “career.” The Catholic Church is consequently perceived as an antiquated institution, which drives people back into the dark-ages of superstition, sexual repression, and corruption. The priesthood, let alone the pursuit of holiness, is utterly counter-intuitive, and counter-cultural. In a word, the priesthood appears diametrically opposed to plain common sense. The modern world simply cannot see the value in it, or the logic behind it.

And this is the key: the occluding worldview of modernity, which has devalued the spiritual and the absolute, makes it not simply difficult to see, but downright impossible to see. The woman’s incredulous response to my answer points to this very blindness. Our ideas matter; our underlying presumptions about the world, the universe, about reality, all matter. They are the lenses through which we process reality. Therefore, since modernity has acquiesced to Nietzsche’s bold proclamation, “God is dead,” contemporary culture is anthropocentric, that is, we possess a temporal or human-centered worldview. This worldview does not liberate humanity but rather slowly poisons it. What is needed is a theocentric worldview, that is, a Godly worldview, which considers man as a composite being of spirit and matter, endowed with reason, and oriented towards a transcendent destiny.

Implicit in the woman’s question is this anthropocentric worldview, and its consequent redefinition of freedom. The concept of freedom, especially here in America, is the value par excellence. We cherish, honor, celebrate, and defend our freedom more so than anything else. We talk about personal freedom, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion (or lack thereof). We talk about one’s freedom to choose, freedom to determine one’s future, and freedom to define happiness and the meaning of life. Fundamentally, we exalt the freedom of the individual to act however, and choose whatever, insofar as one’s actions and choices do not infringe upon another’s autonomy. Like many concepts today, we causally use this word freedom, putting it front and center and often hiding behind it, without knowing what it really means. In the history of ideas, freedom has undergone a dramatic redefinition, which coincides with the devaluation of the spiritual and the absolute. Where freedom once was seen as freedom for excellence, or virtue, it now implies a freedom of indifference. Before, the person who best actualized his inborn potential for excellence was most free. Now, he who can simply choose between a plurality of options is free.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: "This focus on the external manifestation of success leads many priests to do, do, do. To go, go, go. in short, to turn into workaholics. Too easily, then, we become obsessed with the success of the pancake breakfast, the parish festival, the drive to raise money for World Youth Day. . . As a result, the pastor is unable, in many cases, to tend fully to the spiritual needs of his people. His role as prophet and spiritual leader, in intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, receives short shrift." Fr. Alvaro Delgado from "Year for Priests: Presence and Not Production" in "Homiletic and Pastoral Review"

QUOTE II: "Without humility it is impossible to appreciate anything. Even pride." from G. K. Chesterton's "Orthodoxy"


Don't forget! Tell your friends! Post it on your site if you would be so kind! G. K. Chesterton is coming to Saint Sebastian's Zwisler Hall (476 Mull Avenue, Akron, OH 44320) on Easter Monday at 7PM.

"John C. "Chuck" Chalberg is an American historian, who also travels about as this noted Englishman. I'm the same "Chesterton" who appears on EWTN's "The Apostle of Common Sense" with Dale Ahlquist of the American Chesterton Society. The show itself is set in 1934 and pretends that Mr. C. is on his third tour of America. (He was here in 1921 and 1930.) He is an a lecture tour. But he tends to forget that; hence he will drift into and out of lecture mode. Along the way, he will have much to say on any number of topics. He will defend the Faith; he will tell the audience about his early life and about the importance of family among other topics/themes. He will be serious and funny--sometimes at the same time. He will also field questions, both in character and out of character."

Admission is free though if you wish to help off set the cost to the newly forming Chesterton Society it would be appreciated. See more about the newly forming Akron society here and read more about Mr. Chalberg here.

Fr. Pfeiffer took this picture of Sebastian while I was on vacation. Do you SEE why this dog steals my heart???

M. sent this in. I was Okay with it thinking that it was old - but it is very recent. It was like watching a slow motion car accident in which you kept asking yourself, "Why don't I turn away?" We stopped counting the liturgical abuses when we ran out of fingers.

Michelle sent this in: "EWTN Global Catholic Network has entered into an agreement with Catholic News Agency to share news and resources from around the world to Catholics and those interested in the Catholic faith, Catholic news and Catholic perspectives. To showcase this expanded news service, EWTN has launched a new website" here.

Russel sent in this six and a half minute video. If you got a bad taste in your mouth above, this might sweeten it back up. Thanks!

Fr. F. sent in this link to a thought provoking post on the "Myth of the Pedophile Priest" of at Standing On My Head." Thanks friend.

Here is a seven and half minute video sent in by Eric that should give you a laugh.

P. Sent this 4 and a half minute video. ""It's speech time again and this year, Lia tackled the topic of Euthanasia for her grade 8 speech project. She didn't win the speech contest this year, but she still got an A on her project." February 20, 2010 [Last year Lia won a speech contest for her presentation against abortion.]"

BIG, BIG news coming about the Saint Sebastian Choir! But I promised I wouldn't say what it was until Lynn had a chance to break the news.


Monday, March 29, 2010


Despite checking and double checking page numbers and order of pages and highlighting and comparing it to the liturgical books, I read the wrong Passion on Saturday. The problem was with the source that I was using. It had two mistakes in it. Instead of a 1 it had a 0 and instead of the 0 it had a 9 in the title. But perhaps it was prophetic. A line came screaming off of the page and grabbed my attention.

“Then Jesus said to them, ‘All of you will have your faith shaken, for it is written, “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be dispersed.”’”

At that moment I could not help but think about Pope Benedict. As you are probably painfully aware he has been accused have playing a role in the abuse scandal. Earlier a faithful lady of the parish had come to me with the articles that she cut out concerning the matter. “Are you going to speak on this?” she rightfully asked. I didn’t and do not plan to until after Easter. It is a judgment call. During this holiest season of the year our attention is on Christ and what He did for us and the salvation of our souls. The next week perhaps if the story is still a story we will touch on it.

The whole thing came to my attention at the breakfast table. I was nibbling on my peanut butter toast sipping my milk when a picture of Pope Benedict in the morning paper caught my eye. The news was anything but heartening. A while later Fr. Pfeiffer sat down with his breakfast. “Did you see the paper yet?” I asked.

“No. Anything interesting?”

I flipped through a couple of pages, opened it up to the picture of the pope and slid it over to him. “Have you ever noticed,” I asked him, “How these revelations always seem to correspond with Holy Week? Year after year there is some huge revelatory expose that the papers scream what will finally put an end to the Church, or the faith, or the pope. Every single year.”

What was last year’s? Was that the discovery of the tomb of one of Jesus’ brothers or son or some such thing that “expert scientist” had determined was authentic? That would certainly put a damper on the Catholic Church and her teaching. Then after Holy Week and the brouhaha died down it suddenly died on the twelfth page of section X in a tiny article under an ad for flatulence prevention that the tomb was a fraud.

“Oh magic phone,” Fr. P said, holding up his small electrical device in his hand like an oracle stone, “tell me the inside story on the pope.” The phone then looked into alternative news sources that started to systematically tear apart the story. Not that abuse did not happen but that the further accusations intimated do not add up the way the paper assembled it.

What will come of this? It’s hard to say but the winds seem to be changing a bit already. The articles concerning it in the local major papers are already moving further and further back into the paper. Will everything disappear magically again a couple of weeks after Easter? Or will it boil over? We shall see. In the meantime I’m not going to get my alb in a bunch until more information comes out. Right now I am focusing on the resurrection.

This is supposed to be a diary day I know and it has somewhat missed the mark but this needed to get out of my system. So here is one last thing that keeps popping up in my mind. The paper yesterday or the day before mentioned how upset people are that certain priests are not “kicked out” or laicized for their misconduct. Quite readily people jump on the bandwagon. I don’t know if they think it is a greater punishment to be laicized or if justice is better served or what. But it does seem to be a common thought that this must be done.

IMHO: Stupidest thing in the world.

Think about it this way: So a guy is laicized. Now what? Now there are less people keeping an eye on him. He is free to move anywhere. He is free to get a job where he pleases. Sure there are legal restrictions. But he is out there doing as he will for the most part and nobody is watching 24/7.

What would happen if he were still an active priest? First he would have to have a job where does not come on contact with children. That means a position such as in an office or as a chaplain for a cloistered order of nuns or some such thing. His living and working arrangements are more closely monitored and he is surrounded by people who know him and why he is there and who have a vested interest in making sure he keeps his nose out of trouble.

But instead he has his collar taken off and is shooed out into the world. Does not seem to make much sense to me and the greater punishment would be in remaining a priest but barely doing priestly work. That would be the killer at least for me.

For those of you who would like some other sources of information on this year’s Holy Week scandal perhaps you could look here and here and here for starters.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT IN THE COMMENTS SECTION: W. had a couple more good sources to check out here and here.

Friday, March 26, 2010


As you may be aware, Saint Mary on South Main in Akron is slated to close this summer - a victim of "progress." It's once thriving neighborhood has been divided up over the years by highways and the expansion of industry and Catholics, as they are wont to do, have moved out to other locations.

In my opinion this church building is the finest piece of architecture in the diocese both for its authenticity and its integrity. I wish a lot of things - and the world would be a much different place if everyone followed my every whim, but I wish we could do something with this building so that it might be preserved as a gem of Catholic architecture in this diocese. But greater things than this have been lost and guess what - people are still saved and the Church lives on.

That being said - if someone would give me several million dollars I promise to buy it, fix it up, and use it as - I don't know - a private shrine, a venue for concerts - anything . . .

I took my cousin to visit two weeks ago. These pictures were taken that day. Next week there will be pictures of the interior and my climb up the bell tower.

If you get the chance, please do yourself a favor and visit the Church before June. There is something so pleasing about the proportions and lines of this building. According to the pastor who has been so kind about my visits, there have been many artists and architects stopping buy to study, make sketches, take pictures, and such.

Here are a couple of pictures that I hope explain why.
Saint Mary, 750 South Main Street, Akron, OH 44311

Thursday, March 25, 2010


If you read this space regularly you know that there is coming a change in the Roman Missal. Actually, that is incorrect; there is coming a change in the English translation of the Roman Missal. Even if you think it is necessary (and I do) and even if you think it is positive (and I do) and even if you are looking forward to it (and I am) it is going to be DIFFICULT.
This came to mind recently reading over the changes in everything from the Gloria to the Institution Narrative. There is a familiarity with these texts – a comfort – a rhythm that we have become both accustomed to saying and hearing. For me, anyway, it is like reading a favorite book or watching a best loved movie over and over again. You know perfectly well how it’s going to end, what the next scene is, and can even quote the lines, but there is still something so incredibly satisfying in going through it again.

That is about to change. Not completely. And that might be the most difficult part of it. It will be ALMOST the same. You will be going along familiar passages and then – WHAM – there will be a turn of phrase or a new sentence or a clarifying adjective that was not there before. It will be like watching the director’s cut and asking, “Where did THAT scene come from?”

There are going to be those who are going to complain. Protest. Be angry. There are going to be accusations that “We are going back in time! We are becoming Pre-Vatican II!” (as if automatically that is something evil – but that’s a post for another day.) But such is not the case. It is interesting to note that these particular changes are NOT changes. This translation (for those who may not be aware) is only taking place in English speaking countries. The rest of the world is not going through this because when they translated their Missals it was already more in line with the official words of the Mass. If you went to another country in which the spoke another language it would not take much of a language scholar to realize that when they were saying the Confiteor they were already saying their equivalent to “mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa,” or “through my fault, through my fault, through my own grievous fault,” which we currently translate as “though my own fault.” So far from doing anything new or “going retro,” we are merely bringing ourselves back in line with Church universal. (If somebody does know of some similar thing happening in another country please leave a comment.)

How we got here is a long and complicated story full of fighting and intrigue. But we are here and now we have to deal with this corrective phase. In a couple of years most everybody will be back to being comfortable once again. (Does anybody remember and is still aggravated that “This is the Word of the Lord” was changed to “The Word of the Lord”?) But the transition will be hard for many. Please pray for this transition and for those who will have a difficult time with it (clergy and lay alike.) Try to remain positive about it. And have this knowledge in your hip pocket to help those who will be struggling.

Here is the interesting question: Who will become the “Neo Traditionalists” who will want to preserve this old translation and will fight the changes? Now THAT will be fascinating.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


We are called, every one of us, to defend the faith. That is part of our baptismal promise: to spread the kingdom of God. Some do it as professional apologists, some as casual apologists (such as when someone asks something at work,) some as brave examples, others in prayer. But no matter what, you are called to something in this area.

What follows are just some scribbled notes (mixed with some personal thoughts) from a presentation this past Monday at Saint Sebastian by the Emmaus Round Table concerning how to share and defend the faith. (Emmaus Roundtable is a lay Catholic apostolate dedicated to facilitating the “New Springtime of Evangelization” that Pope John Paul II called and prayed for.) For more information on them look here.

If we are not prepared to defend the faith, to give answers to such questions as to what is the meaning of life, the world will provide answers that will be readily eaten up. Why do we try to share the faith? Because we believe that in them is truth, life, and joy. If someone is not living in truth, they are not experiencing the fullness of life, and then there can be no fullness of joy. That is why we try to be that source of knowledge and truth for the world.

Yet we do not impose the faith, we propose. We are to provide light, not heat. But still if we are going to present the faith convincingly we must first know our stuff. We must study and learn. You cannot pass on what you don’t have. “Holding hands and singing Kumbaya will not draw us into the unity Christ desires.”

In order to pass on this faith we ourselves must be convicted. Nobody wants to get up early on Sunday to go to a church that simply another alternative and a difficult one at that. We must know that there is unity, beauty, goodness, and truth here that cannot be completely matched anywhere or we will fail at evangelization.

We must not merely arm ourselves with facts and arguments however. Facts do not convert hearts. We must also have a spirituality – we must be in relationship with the God to Whom we wish to draw hearts. How does one attract a crowd? One sets themselves on fire – on fire for love of God and the many blessings He wishes to bestow upon us. These are the first steps.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: "Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions." G. K. Chesterton

QUOTE II: "If we really love the poor do we really want them coming to our soup kitchens for the rest of their lives?" source unknown.


ATTENTION CHESTERTON FANS: HELP SPREAD THE NEWS: There will be a one man play about G. K. Chesterton on Easter Monday at 7PM here at St. Sebastian Parish in Zwisler Hall. Admission is free (though you may make a donation if you wish.) We local Chestertonian fans are sponsoring this event to help kick off our Chesterton Society. See more here. Please come and drag along friends - help introduce Chesterton to others.


Fr. F. sends in this article entitled, "What Do You Think of Catholic Preaching?" It's a good read. Thanks friend.

The Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter asks, "A very common question that is asked today by parents and grandparents is 'What can I do to encourage my children (or grandchildren) to return to the Church and practice their faith?'" Read more here.

From the same source: "Did you know, Worldwide Marriage Encounter weekends give married couples the tools to make Good marriages Great marriages?"

Frank sent this golf game in. WARNING: ADDICTION LEVEL: LOW

P sent this site in. It has 23 pictures of Catholic and Protestant chaplains serving our troops in Afghanistan.

Our God Is an Awesome God. I know this song has made the rounds but I still think it's great. 3 and a half minutes.

I know there was more things sent in but it is our busy time - I'll post more of your things over the next two Tuesdays. Thanks!

Monday, March 22, 2010


Down the street from where my parents lived is a park with a pavilion in it. Apparently someone ended their life there a number of years ago. That seems to mark a place. People do not buy homes because a particular crime had taken place there. People believe that such things leave a bad aura. But what about the good things that happen? This came to mind because we are in the thick of confession season and priests are called to kinds of places to hear confessions. Although the rubrics say that confessions should take place in a confessional there are times when this is not possible.

This past weekend was the men’s conference in Akron. Over a thousand men showed up for this day of retreat at a local Catholic high school. A small army of priests were brought in to help hear confessions. Obviously there were not 40 confessionals available for use and so we were assigned classrooms. My classroom was a computer lab. Once inside one had to wind through a maze of desks to get to the chairs set up for confession. Computer screens faced me from every direction, the large windows looked out onto the front of the building, and smart board, which are now as common as overhead projectors used to be, sat at my left.

There was a break in the line of men coming for confession and I thought about Monday (today) when the students would return for classes. Did they have any idea of what went on in this classroom that they drag through every day? While they practice their typing do they have any notion that it was quite possible that the chair in which they were sitting was occupied recently by a dad who needed to bare his soul to God? While the student watches the clock tick the seconds away to the end of class do they have any idea of the healing and the joy that took place there?

I think of this with home Masses. Occasionally I go on vacation with other priests and we know that we are not going to be able to get to Mass and so bring a Mass kit with us and have Mass in the hotel room. I get a chuckle out of thinking that if there was a question on Family Feud about the top 8 things that take place in a hotel room, Mass would not be one of them.

Hotels and nursing homes are often thought of as sad places. We were called out on a number of occasions this past week to anoint people and offer the apostolic pardon for those standing on the threshold of life in the world to come. Family and friends might be sad but there is joy in a person being prepared to greet God. The definition of a saint is one who goes to heaven. I wonder how many hospital and nursing home beds are blessed to have had saints die in them? How many sacraments, Eucharist, confession, anointing, how many rosaries, how many pleas to God have taken place on these beds? It is not all tragic and sad. These can be very holy places.

On another note: I continue my crusade against the notion that anointing of the sick is for those who are on the point of death. Not only is not called for it is dangerous. Anointing of the sick is for those who are sick. Part of the hope is that with the blessing a person might get better.

I was called out late at night to anoint someone at a place that I had never been to before several parishes away. Apparently we were the only ones they could get a hold of. That was fine. I got out of bed, got dressed and headed to the address. But when I pulled into the place I realized that I had no idea where to go. It was not just a building but 40 acres of buildings. It was dark, the buildings were not well marked, and I had forgotten my cell phone. So I got out of my car and started wandering. A man with a flashlight called out, “Are you a priest?”

He was sent to keep an eye out for clergyman to help direct me to where I needed to go. We walked back to my car and he guided me to the correct building. As we drove we talked a bit. I asked if the person had a sudden turn for the worst.

“Oh no. She’s been like this for a while.”

“Then why did you wait until late at night to call for a priest?”

“Well, we think that she will die soon.”

“Just so you know you could have called earlier. Imminent death is not a prerequisite for an anointing. She would have been equally as covered if we anointed her in the evening.”

“When did that change?”

“The Council of Trent.”

“Well, these people are pretty old. When was that?”

“5 hundred years ago.”


Friday, March 19, 2010


Well here’s a new one on me. Fr. Gene Fulton made me aware of it and Wikipedia confirmed it.

If you have seen the icon for the year of the priest you may have noticed Jesus’ hand. He is giving us a blessing but He is not doing it in a fashion that at least we westerners would be familiar with. Notice his middle fingers are bent and touching His thumb. This is not merely an affected position that the artist thought would be cool. It has deep meaning.

If you were at an Orthodox liturgy (I apologize if Eastern Catholics also do this, I did not have time to find out) you will find priests blessing the people with the same hand position. They are forming letters with their fingers: “IC XC”. This is a Christogram for Jesus Christ. I’ve seen two different versions of this but the one that seems to be upheld predominantly on line is one in which the pinky and index finger remain extended and the two middle fingers are touching the thumb. The pinky forms the “I”, the second finger and the thumb suffice for a “C”, the index finger and pinky form the top half of the “X” and the forefinger and thumb finishes it off with the “C”. So infect you are being blessed with the name of Jesus Christ.

Pretty cool.

If not correct this is pretty close. If anybody has some corrections to this it would be most appreciated.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


I looked at the ordo today a bit shocked that Palm Sunday is dramatically close. Lent usually seems to drag on and on (I say this even with it being my favorite liturgical season) but this year it flew by on a zip line. But no matter how you see it, half past or half way to go, as Fr. Pfeiffer said in his homily this past weekend, “There’s still much dying to do.”

One of my Lenten resolves was to be a little bit hungry and a little bit cold. The cold part is actually a little selfish. I like being a little cold and in this big drafty house it is easily accomplished. Being a little bit hungry is much more difficult. The bishop was visiting last Friday and made the comment, “Do you realize you make all of your decisions based on food?”

I would be offended but it’s true.

So I try to eat a little less, avoid most snack times, and am careful about not hording when at a parish event that inevitably has some sort of buffet. One of the great benefits has been that I am actually hungry when I sit down to eat. It is a wonderful feeling. Before lent (Aug! Christmas!) there were times I would sit down at the table and think, “We have to eat AGAIN?” So part of this discipline has been selfish but duty is none the less for being pleasure so says C. S. Lewis.

Another Lenten promise that Fr. Pfeiffer and I took was to start exercising. We bought weight equipment and set up a small gym in the basement of the rectory. Thus far we have been pretty loyal to a routine. In fact I had to take benediction for father last Friday because he was so sore he couldn’t lift his arms up high enough to give the blessing. (I wonder if I should have asked him if I could post that before I did?)

So I hope that you are finding some positive results in your life from your Lenten promises and practices. Perhaps you have gained some discipline, feel better, pray better, have better ministered to others, have improved you faith life, have set a better example, have shed unnecessary negative feelings, or have just attempted to make some small part of the world a better place. But as the seconds tick away toward the end of Lent 2010 and the chocolate stash grows in your larder, or the hours of unwatched T.V. reruns grow, or you look forward to not having the pressure to exercise or pray more or not curse, think about carrying forth your new developing habits. You don’t have to give up chocolate for the rest of your life – but you will have just lived 40 days without it! Cut it out except in special occasions! It will taste better when you do eat it then and you will feel better.

If you cut out cursing keep working on it! You feel better for having tried now make not cursing your habit! If you prayed more, keep it up! If you tried to be nicer to the people you love have not things been more pleasant? Why stop? One year I have up pop for lent. On Easter Day I went to drink it and hated it. I haven’t had much of it since. Today (now that I am in my mid 40s) I am so thankful that I gave it up. There’s years of tons of sugar I don’t have to fight off.

This season hopefully you have moved closer to sainthood. Stay there. And if you have dropped the ball it is not too late to pick it up and start anew (or new.) That is lent’s gift to you – holding on to the gift is your gift to you.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


If you think living a good Catholic life is challenging you haven’t seen anything yet. Try dying Catholic. The whole concept of what it is to be dead or when it is time to die is becoming rather nebulous. Technology is taking off more quickly than ethicists can follow, healthcare protocols morph right before our very eyes, and – this is very important – health care professionals are less and less trained in what Catholics need to know about life and death and in some cases don’t care as we have seen with certain institutions in our area.

There are some very good places – outstanding places. There are also those that do the bare minimum and even less but none-the-less claim that they have “Catholic services” so that they can check the little box off on their list of services.

I said Mass at one place recently in a room divided by a fabric screen. We have to constantly send people to the other side of the screen to try to kindly ask staff persons to stop talking at the top of their lungs. The room is a major highway for foot traffic. It opens onto the kitchen, a stairwell, as well as two major hallways. As people burst out of the kitchen or the stairway clamping their hands on their mouths once they saw what was going on we tried to carry on with the Mass. I kept telling myself, “John Paul could deal with such distractions so can I. Just pray.” But every time I told myself that it would be Okay it seems the interruptions stepped up a notch. It was all I could do to hold my temper when sheets of drywall were carted through the back of the room.

But what are you going to do? Stop having Mass and punish the residents?

But I digress.

Back to dying: All of a sudden you as a family member are faced with a decision about the life of a loved one. The doctor has given you the diagnosis and has asked you to make a decision. The suggestions that he supplies may or may not be not be in keeping with Catholic beliefs. It may be more in keeping with hospital administration wishes. So what do you do? Call a priest? I hate to tell you that priests are not always that well informed in this rapidly changing field. Take a class? Well, it’s too late now. And to be honest Catholics are not great about wanting to learn about such things until they are actually facing them – and then it is often too late.

Or there is the case of one institution not too about a half hour from here where the chaplains were told to practice Raiki on their patients even if they did not desire it. It was for their own good of course. But Catholics avoid this because we are becoming involved in something and dealing with powers we want nothing to do with. (But because a person is dying it’s Okay to force it one them for their own good?!?!)

I’m a little hot today.

We are contemplating trying to find a way to help alleviate this problem at least at this parish. Thoughts are bubbling about having a seminar about Catholic bioethics for health care workers in the parish. It would also be swell to start a help line of trained bioethicists but there is the problem of funding. Who will pay for the staff, the phone, and the materials? We can’t pay by the answer like some websites. “For the answer to this problem log on and send us your credit card number.” Meanwhile grandma needs your help.

This is a bit scattered I know but there is a lot going on out there and not a lot of people on which to rely. Hopefully you will deal with a good and sympathetic institution – but just as likely you won’t. You simply have to know your stuff. But how do you prepare for any possible event? If you have suggestions they would be appreciated.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: ". . . man seems to mistrust everything that is effortless; he can only enjoy, with good conscience, what he has acquired with toil and trouble; he refuses to have anything as gift." from Josef Piper's "Leisure"

QUOTE II: "If you rush a miracle worker maybe you get a rotten miracle." from "The Princess Bride"


My cousin sent in this "cool weather website."
Russ did some touch ups on the "Street Church" picture from last Friday and I thought I would share it with you. Thanks Russ. But the trash cans still don't look like Stations of the Cross.

The Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter reports, "In a world that boasts continual technological change, the iPhone by Apple has gained near-iconic status. Even Apple boasts there are more than 140,000 applications -- or "apps," in Apple-speak -- that users can obtain for their phones. It only follows that there would be some clever Catholics who have devised apps to bolster people's faith." Read more here.

From the same source: Unsure of exactly what "Easter Duty" is? Read more here.

The pastor emeritus Fr. Karg wrote an article that was published in America Magazine. Read more here. Thanks to Matt for pointing it out.

This is the video I meant to post last week. I can't seem to embed it so here is the link. Like I said last week it redeems itself at the end.

Monday, March 15, 2010


It’s the Dick Van Dyke show and the entire episode is devoted to the boss coming over for dinner. Nerves fray and comedy ensues. That is what last Friday was like around here. It is confirmation day and our ordinary Bishop Richard Lennon is coming for dinner. I turn into Laura Petrie trying to make everything right for the boss’s arrival.

Confirmation – even confirmation day – doesn’t just happen. There are hours of preparation that goes into the whole event by many people and it still seems like you cannot get everything done. There is of course everything that needs to be done in the church, all the paper work that needs to be finalized, the hall that needs to be set up, but there are things that need to be done in the rectory also. All of the sacramental books need to be up to date and available to the bishop upon his request. It is his duty to make sure that the baptismal, first communion, confirmation, marriage, and funeral books are all up to date and that all proper dispensations have been sought and recorded.

Dinner is of course prepared with the help of kindly parishioners. Everything needs to be timed just so. We need to have dinner on time and finish so that we still have time make the fast before Mass. If dinner is late we don’t eat. This list was posted on the wall by one of our ever vigilant parishioners to make sure that everything goes well.

The bishop is easy to please food wise but it is a Friday in Lent (so no meat) and we hate fish. That kind of limits the menu. But the chief comes through with flying colors with pierogi! We also make sure that there is plenty of lemonade this year. Last year we had only one serving and the bishop, unknowingly, requested it. When the second person at the table ordered the same thing the cook leaned behind the bishop drawing a finger across her neck, shaking her head from side to side and mouthing, “NO!”

This year we had gallons.

It’s time to start getting ready for Mass. The bishop, guarantor of education in the diocese wishes to speak to the kids beforehand. Alone. Without anyone over his shoulder giving clues to answers of his questions.

One relies on one’s guardian angel in times like this.

The kids are lined up in the narthex dressed up so maturely it is difficult to think of them as kids – they are young adults. The organ music starts and they march down the aisle and we follow close behind. After the Sign of the Cross I make the introduction of the bishop:

“Today we are honored to have with us The Most Reverend Richard Lennon, Bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland. In union with the pope and his fellow bishops he is our authentic teacher of the faith, the center of our unity, and the steward of the mysteries of God for the faithful under his care. Therefore on this confirmation day it is our particular joy to have him with us here today and on behalf of myself, Fr. Pfeiffer, Deacon Terry, Fr. Swirski, the confirmandi and their sponsors and family and all the people of the parish of Saint Sebastian, we greet and welcome you Bishop Lennon.”

One of the students stands to read the first reading. We can see him taking deep breathes and clenching his fists as he approaches the sanctuary. He’s as nervous as we are! But he does very well.

The actual right goes well. There are some good names that the students pick. Every once in a while Fr. Pf. or I give a discreet thumbs up to each other on some particularly cool names.

Finally there is the picture at the end. We decided to take the picture in the church. Big mistake. Things get a little out of hand. Note to self: Next year march everyone straight out the front doors and down to the hall for a picture.

Finally everyone packs up and is gone and the house is quiet. I am sore for having been so tense through the day although everything went well and the day was pleasurable. I think the bishop enjoyed himself and students understood the meaning and value of the day.

What more can you ask for?

Friday, March 12, 2010


Today is confirmation day here at Saint Sebastian and we are preparing for the arrival of our bishop. So it is a busy day and not a lot of time for such things as blogging. However this has been on my mind a lot as of late - so here is a quick post.

This is a picture of a church that I took while I was in Prague.

This is a picture that I took of the road that dead ends into the back of St. Sebastian Parish. It did not turn out as well in the picture as I had hoped but perhaps you will be struck by the similarities between the two pictures. Above, the tall stately columns branch out high above the floor of the nave to support the ceiling. Below the might oaks soar up from the devil strip (that an anAKRONism) and their branches arch over the avenue far below creating a canopy.

Granted, perhaps I should not have taken this picture on trash day - but pretend those are the Stations of the Cross and the speed limit sign is the song board.

I want to say something witty and insightful about this but I am too scatterbrained today. Perhaps the pictures will say something to you themselves.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Nan” as we will call her was baptized Catholic and was nominally instructed in the faith. Like so many of her (our) generation she slipped away from the practice of the faith and went in search of spiritualities and faiths that were more relevant (or so she thought) to her and what she valued in the world. There was quite a bit of dabbling here and there with much interested in Eastern religions. In her circle of friends there was great openness in this search and much support. The only place they were sure truth did not roost was in Catholicism. It was at these great gates that openness and acceptance ended because they were all pretty much in agreement that searching there was a waste of time. Which was fine.

Until it wasn’t.

An avid bargain shopper, a person after my own heart who likes to see what other people put out on their lawn to sell, one day she came across a Jesus night light. It looks like any other statue of the sacred heart you might see but there is a cord sticking out of the back of his heal. If you plug him in an internal bulb brightens and the statue of Jesus becomes, if not the light of the world, a light for the bedroom.

This got her daughter asking questions and before you know it she and her daughter (father and son are still dubious) coming to Mass. The marriage was recognized in the Church, the girl made her first communion, and Nan started going to confession.

A bit of a free spirit she found rediscovering her roots in a whole new “light” quite “cool.” She has also become quite the missionary returning to her friends and proclaiming what path she was following and that if they truly wanted to be considered tolerant and open in the search for truth that they needed to at least look into the true teachings of Catholicism.


If all Catholics were so confident and bold I could take a lot of naps.

This past weekend she approached me at Donut Sunday in a heightened level of excitement. She was at a friend’s house scrounging for a book to read and happened upon “The Rule of Saint Benedict.” (I mean, come on, WHO has the rule of Saint Benedict just sitting on their shelf?” “I can’t stop reading it!” she exclaimed, “it is like exactly what I have been looking for!”

She told how one of her friends (also a former Catholic) embraced much of Buddhism also looking for much of what she is finding in the rule. “I told her she has to read this! These are her roots after all. She has to at least be open to it.”

I think the spirit of Saint Paul got into Nan.

Anyway – that got me to thinking that it was not until I was much older that I realized that there were different spiritualities within the Church. The only thing that I was exposed to was a very generic Sunday going to Mass Catholic spirituality. Fortunately that really works for me. But it does not for everyone. That all the different orders in their (at the time anyway) habits were having different paths to the One True God and reaching Him through these different paths within the Church Jesus founded had never even occurred to me.

For example think about the spirituality of Saint Francis. Today we hear about the rise of all kinds of semi-pagan (if not full blown pagan) spiritualities sprouting up with people on a spiritual search. If they are not out and out worshipping nature itself they wish to be joined more closely to nature, to live a simpler life, to make less of a damaging impact on the world, to be better connected in peace and love with one another and God. Who would be more in agreement than St. Francis? Expect with St. Francis one does not have to worship nature which is a creation, but while holding it in extreme respect as a cherished gift from God do then in turn worship the one true God that is the Creator of the nature they so respect. I know this is way too simplistic but you get the idea. (This post is already getting quite long.)

But if something seems lacking to you it may be that you just have not yet plugged into a very legitimate spirituality within the Church that can help nourish you. Unfortunately we do not do a very good job of advertising them (and without religious around us who are recognizable or to give an example their spiritualities become even more obscure.) So search. I hope you do not have to wait to accidently come across a book on somebody’s shelf.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Father, I am 75 years old. I can’t go out. I sit around the house all day. What can I do?”

This is heard more often than I like to think in the confessional. In essence a person is saying that they are sin free because they are incapable of doing anything anyway. But none of us is sin free. “Anyone who says he is without sin calls God a liar.”

Sin may take on a drastically new and unfamiliar face however. A person may no longer be able to be (or have the desire to be) unchaste or steal a car or fly an airplane into a building. When one is capable of such terrible sins not saying grace before meals may seem so trivial as to not be worth mentioning. We have bigger fish to fry. But when you sin capacity is reduced, things that once seemed picayune are now greater in proportion because to be honest, if we are physically and situationally less capable of sinning, we are also have less opportunities to be loving. So our focus on our examination of conscience must become recalibrated, more refined, and more thoughtful.

Here are some things to consider. This is not an exhaustive check off list of sins for shut-ins, but a springboard for further thought.

With more time on your hands have you developed an exponentially greater relationship with God? Has your prayer time greatly increased? Have you developed a habit of contemplation and meditation? Have you gotten to be old friends with God? Have you taken time to read Scripture? Have you shared your friendship with God with others?

Have you carelessly used God’s name Who we are to love above all else? Is His name reverenced by you? As an elder have you attempted to gently correct those around you who take His name so?

Have you made an effort to attend Mass and other services that are available to you? Have you made arrangements to receive Holy Communion and confession if you are unable to get to Mass? Do you do something special to mark Sundays and Holy Days of obligation? Are the people around you aware that you are Catholic and what services you desire should you become very ill?

Have you become that elder in the Church through your example and love and have so lead others to Christ? Have you actively worked and bringing peace and forgiveness to your family? Do you pray for your deceased relatives and friends? Do you support and assist your children in their roles as spouse and parent? Have you supported your grandchildren in the faith?

Do you speak about others in gossip? Do you harbor ill or unkind thoughts of others? Are you always kind to your caretakers? Are you always patient when you are in the role as caretaker? Are you honest with your doctor about your health? Do you take care of yourself, eat well and get enough sleep? Do you follow the directions of your doctor? Do you fulfill what your therapist asks you to do? Are you faithful about your medication? When the burdens of taking care of someone else becomes more than you can do well, are you able to admit it and seek help?

Have you given in to despair or grief? Have you given up on hope? Do you have joy? Can you accept the afterlife? Have you focused your suffering so as to make it redemptive for those you love and the world?

Is your estate in order? Do you have a will? Do you have a Catholic living will? Is the executor of either of these documents been properly informed as to their location and what is contained in them? Are they willing to uphold your Catholic wishes?

If you cannot give to charity or do works of charity have you carried forth charitable prayers? How do you fill your day? Is it in keeping with all virtue? What do you spend your time watching on T.V. or on the computer? Have you wasted too much money of gambling and other forms of entertainment?

Have you envied someone else’s good health or mobility or family? Have you reached out to others or have you become self centered? Do you write off poor behavior to some excuse? As an elder have you taken care to set an exemplary example of Catholic living?

Do you harbor ill feelings? Have you ever done a lifelong examination of conscience expressing repentance of things now realized sinful though you may have not paid it much thought in the past?

Is there good you could have done but not taken the effort? Is there a letter that should be written? An apology that should be extended? A phone call that should be made? A complaint about family that should be reserved? A prayer that should be prayed? Any restitution that should be offered? Any love withheld?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “Envy is the religion of the mediocre.” from Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s, “The Angel’s Game”

QUOTE II: “Chaos is dull because in chaos the train might indeed go anywhere, to Baker Street, or to Bagdad. But man is a magician, and his whole magic is in this, that he does say, ‘Victoria,’ and lo! It is Victoria!” G. K. Chesterton


Does anybody else have a problem with this sign posted at a local gas station?

Is it just me or does this mean that I have to pay in advance before I even arrive at the pump?

Fr. F sent this in: "Here's a nice article that speaks to the relationship between contraception and vocations." Thanks brother.

Fr. B sent this site in from the Diocese of Washington.

Dale Alquist writes, "I am pleased to let you know that the upcoming issue of the Saint Austin Review (also known as StAR), edited by Joseph Pearce, is completely devoted to G.K. Chesterton. Below please find a good word from the editor himself. I highly recommend this fine magazine, and this is the time to subscribe. What better way to begin than with Chesterton?"

This is a link to the Chesterton Society.

Adam's Ale was interviews by "Blog Interviewer." You can check it out (and rate this blog) here.

M & D sent this site in. I might have posted it before but I don't remember. It is a 360 degree view of the Shrine of the Holy Sepulcher in Jeruselem.

Six minute laugh (it redeems itself at the end): Oops! Glad you enjoyed this video but I MEANT to post another!

Monday, March 8, 2010


A letter or a phone call comes in asking for confession help in six months. You look at your calendar. There is nothing there yet. So you pencil in some confession dates. The local Catholic radio station calls a little while later. They are looking for someone to give Scriptural reflections for an entire week. Still, there is not much on your calendar and besides it’s weeks and weeks away. There is plenty of time to write. Why not?

It turns out that the only weekend that the parish is able to do the confirmation retreat is the same exact weekend at which you are going to give a number of talks, hear confessions, Mass, and other services. Things are getting edgy but hey – that’s what you are ordained for right?

As the week approaches a local nursing home calls. Their priest is going away could you please fill in saying Masses there? Of course. How could we say no?

The week begins. Phone calls come in of people who need to have an appointment immediately. I am a complete push over. I say yes.

Gads! What is this written in my book? “Have taxes ready for your tax preparer!” A funeral that you are to attend comes up on Monday. How rude of that person to not check first and see if it was a good week. Arg! I forgot about the Vibrant Parish Life meeting.

Unfortunately when you started adding things to your calendar you had not yet written in the extra Lenten services the parish was having; extra confessions, two Stations of the Cross, Night Prayer . . . What moron made up this calendar anyway?

Things start slipping. Phone calls will just have to wait. Ask the deacon to preach for you this weekend. There just is not physically any extra time to do anything. I feel guilty for taking 15 minutes to blog. (Was I really going to start exercising in earnest this week?)

But the disaster of the week passes. It was great but tiring. I pressed the boys on retreat, “Think about the priesthood men! You have no idea how badly you are needed, wanted, and appreciated.” They nod and hopefully seriously consider it. The taxes made it in though late, we said Masses at the nursing home, the blog was posted, phone calls will begin again today, and I don’t have to write a homily until the weekend because I wrote them all last week for the radio spots.

Now about that mound on my desk.

(If you are local and interested you can hear the radio spots on AM 1060 from March 7th through the 13th. They are played in spots throughout the day.)