Monday, February 28, 2011



Last week, you may remember, there was no post on Tuesday owing to my road trip to Washington D. C. in order to see Cleveland priest Neal Buckon become ordained auxiliary bishop for the Arch Diocese of the Military for the United States. Bright and early I got up and packed the car, celebrated Mass and started off to meet two other Cleveland area priests for the ride east.

Two minutes outside of Akron I hit 3mph highway driving. Something happened. As it turns out what was supposed to be a fifteen minute jaunt to our meeting spot turned into a one hour crawl. The worst part (or maybe the best part) was when I finally got to the front there was nothing to see – no evidence of why there should have been a jam. Such is life and thank goodness for cell phones.

We finally met up and my GPS sent us off and running. Apparently while we were heading east there was a horrible snow storm on our tail that we completely missed. The only poor driving condition with which we had to contend was a thick-as-pea-soup fog. It really was stupid of us not to pull over – but we were anxious for Washington.

And we made it without incident with just enough time to check in, change, and head out to the headquarters of the archdiocese for vespers. The military chapel was really quite small, maybe able to hold 100 people squeezed in. There is no cathedral for this archdiocese whose territory is world wide – wherever servicemen serve. The chapel, the archbishop pointed out, was made more beautiful because of articles from the Diocese of Cleveland that experienced so many closing as of late. Mass, nonetheless is said there every day for all of those in the military.

Prayer consisted of vespers and exposition and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Choir members from the national shrine were there to sing and it was glorious. I was surprised at the amount of Latin and the quality of the music both in selection and execution – from the opening “O Salutaris” by Thomas Tallis (1505-1585) to the closing “Ave Regina Caelorum” that was taken up loudly by all present. The Archbishop spoke rousingly about the need for chaplains in the military and how difficult it is to get Catholic chaplains to Catholic soldiers. The military will not allow deacons, nuns, brothers, sisters, or interested lay people act as chaplains because a chaplain of any denomination must be able to do everything that a minister of that denomination can do. So a denomination without a sacramental system (most of them) can have just about anybody roll in as chaplain. But since Catholics have a sacramental system and not everyone can hear confessions for example, we are extremely limited in who can act as a chaplain for us. Further the military is moving toward a “chaplain is a chaplain is a chaplain” mentality. So pray for our Catholic military. The semi-good news is that we ran into several young men who are studying to be priests and enter the military service. There are 30 of them in all. The bad news is that it is not nearly enough. The archdiocese pleads with dioceses throughout the states to send more men to serve. Currently, besides the Archbishop, Bishop Neal, Cleveland has two more priests serving in the military.


The next day we left for the ordination at the basilica early. I wish I had taken my camera. It had been twelve years since I was there and it would have been nice to share it with you. *sigh*

As I said we were early so we had time to kick around. We prayed in the in the Blessed Sacrament chapel for a spell and then I went to the Our Lady of Brezje shrine (being Slovenian) and prayed a rosary. And since they did not have a St. Sebastian shrine (their loss) and lit a candle for the parish and my loved ones just outside the Slovenian shrine.

The crypt church was turned into a giant sacristy of sorts for the ceremony. As soon as the noon Mass was over large racks of vestments were brought in. As priests showed up they were fitted with a chasuble and then went amongst the pews to vest up.

There is one priest from our diocese that always seems to know where to be at the right time and I noticed him standing off to the side by the stairs and so went to join him. “I was told to line up,” he said. So I stood by him thinking, “Ah! I have an in!” Indeed I was at the very front of the priests processing in. That is not to say that I was at the front of the line – the servers, seminarians, scores of Knights of Columbus were processing first and reached the sanctuary before I ever left the staircase!

The mighty pipe organ joined a small orchestra to fill the cavernous church with music. Many people from Cleveland were there, all kinds of knights in various uniforms, and of course many of our military personnel in their dress uniforms. As we reached the main steps we bowed, walked up to the altar and reverenced (kissed) it, and then were led by M.C.s to our seats.

But wait! The first people in line did not have the best seats! No! We had THE VERY WORST! Oh pride! Oh selfishness! I sat so far back in the sanctuary that I might as well stayed home and watched it on T.V. for all I could see! (Of course you can’t get Communion on T.V.) But not being able to see did have its advantages. It also meant that I could not BE seen and so was able to gaze around at the building to see what there was to see and not have to worry about not looking proper.

Before we began they presented the colors and we sang the National Anthem. (That’s the first time I did that at the beginning of Mass.) And unlike the Supper Bowel everyone here knew the words.

The music was very classical and clever. For example the Gloria was a mix of the traditional Latin chant and polyphony. So the people were able to sing the chant part and then the choir would blossom into some lovely choral piece for some measures and then back and forth to and from chant. It was quite effective.

I wish I could tell you more but it would only be things that I heard until we processed out. First in; first out! And we hit the crypt church, changed, and took off in order to miss the traffic – and still we got home around midnight.


On the way home a black car went wizzing past us as if we were standing still. It had Ohio license plates that read, “DIOCESE.” “Could that be our bishop?” we wondered. We tried to catch up to see but he was far too fast, tail gaiting, zipping in and out of traffic. “Oh! Are we going to make fun of him!” we thought. Then in Ohio we pulled into a gas station and there was the car with diocese license plates! We walked over to make comment and then discovered it was not only not the bishop but nobody connected with the Catholic Church. It would have made a great story though.

Friday, February 25, 2011


There was a time that I found litanies of any kind painfully BOARING. The mere thought of a litany coming up was enough to send me into desires of being hit by a brick in the head and sent into a coma.

Things change.

First – what is a litany? It is a prayer, usually rather loooooong, in a sort of call and response fashion such as in, “St. Sebastian . . . R pray for us.” There are all kinds of litanies. There are various litanies for God and His various persons (Holy Spirit, Child Jesus . . .) and of the Eucharist, litanies for the Blessed Virgin Mary, angels and saints, and various needs and petitions such as for a happy death, souls in purgatory, humility, priests, peace, etc. . . There are also litanies recalling various promises of God and the saints and such.

That being said the reason that a litany can seem painful is because it is a prayer of someone head over heels in love. If you are not in love or wanting to be in love, like a high fructose corn syrup – sappy – date night romance movie, it can be very painful to endure. A litany is what lovers do. “What do I love about you? Your beautiful eyes, your sunny personality, the way walk, the way you talk. You are my sunshine, the song in my heart, the beat of my heart blah blah blah . . .” It can also take the beloved and break what is lovely about them into their constituent parts. “What is great about the Parish of Saint Sebastian? Jennifer, Tim, Cathy, Ed, Lynn, Aaron, so forth and so on.” And all the time we are asking them to remember us also. We tell them beloved (God, saints) that we trust them, rely on them, look up to them when we place our trust in the them to take our hearts to God.

The first time litanies started making true sense to me was at my ordination. We were laying prostrate on the floor while the congregation sang the Litany of the Saints. The saints became real and personal to me. It was if they were there. It clicked to me that they really were my family. They might as well have been singing, "Mom, Dad, Mickie, Lori, Don, Aunt O, Uncle Paul . . ."The names of the those whom I knew stuck out and I thought, “I know this guy,” and it was if they were truly there. It was quite exciting.

Now, I still need to be in a mood for a litany. But when I am they are so moving. More recently I have started becoming particular friends with St. Sebastian. I did not pay much attention to him before I came to this parish and my idea of him was really of a comic book fashion. “He’s the guy shot with arrows.” But after studying him and praying with him I’ve grown quite fond of him. Here is a litany of St. Sebastian (they are not all that common.)


Lord, have mercy on us!
Christ, have mercy on us!
Lord, have mercy on us! Christ hear us!
Christ, graciously hear us!
God, the Father of heaven,
Have mercy on us!
God, the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us!
God, the holy Ghost, Have mercy on us!
Holy Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on us!

Holy Mary, Queen of Martyrs, Pray for us.
Saint Sebastian, Pray for us.
Invincible Martyr, Pray for us.
Knight, noble by birth and fame, Pray for us.
Glorious warrior and martyr of Christ, Pray for us.
Patron and mirror of Christian soldiers, Pray for us.
Despiser of the world, Pray for us.
Conqueror of Satan, Pray for us. Comfort of the dying, Pray for us. Consoler of the afflicted, Pray for us.
Announcer of the word of God, Pray for us.
Protector and Patron of countries and cities, Pray for us.
Saint Sebastian, perfect in virtue and wisdom, Pray for us.
St. Sebastian, lover of God and men, Pray for us.
St. Sebastian, might in word and work, Pray for us.
St. Sebastian, who didst strengthen the Christians in torments and death, Pray for us.
St. Sebastian, who didst fortify those wavering in their faith,
Pray for us.
St. Sebastian, who didst encourage the doubting to persevere to the end, Pray for us.
St. Sebastian, who, in flamed with love of God, didst despise the pains inflicted by the tyrant, Pray for us.
St. Sebastian, surrounded by celestial light, Pray for us.
St. Sebastian, instructed by the holy Angels, Pray for us.
St. Sebastian, giving speech to the dumb, Pray for us.
St. Sebastian, who for defending the truth wast wounded by arrows,
Pray for us.
St. Sebastian, who wast put to death with clubs, Pray for us.
St. Sebastian, who wast crowned with eternal glory, Pray for us.
St. Sebastian, great intercessor for us with God, Pray for us.
St. Sebastian, endowed with power from God to avert pestilence and all contagious diseases, Pray for us.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world:
Spare us, O Lord!
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world:
Graciously hear us, O Lord!
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world:
Have mercy on us, O Lord!
Christ, hear us!
Christ, graciously hear us!

Let us pray. Mercifully look on our weakness, O almighty God;
since the weight of our own evil deeds bears us down, may the glorious intercession of Thy blessed martyr Sebastian be our protection
Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, Who with Thee and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end.
R. Amen.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


There are a few projects before at the moment, some personal and some as a parish, that are taking some deep prayer. You know the parish project if you have been reading the blog. It involves a substantial repair and expansion of our pipe organ.

There are some legitimate questions to ask concerning the project and they weigh heavily on my mind. The most obvious is the use of funds. I doubt that there are more than a handful of parishes in the whole world that has so much in the way of excess funds that they could fund a project like this without noticing it or having concerns about future calamities such as needing a new roof. So should such funds be put out on projects that deal “merely” with art?

And furthermore, should resources be spent on what many see as a luxury when there are people who could use the funds to send their child to your school or put food in their refrigerator? These are serious points to ponder.

On the one hand, we would not have these funds at all if it were not for a special project such as this. They simply would not exist so there’s that. But more importantly the poor need more than food and clothing. The poor also need beauty.

I am in a conversation with an artist at the moment for a personal project. He told the story of how when he was growing up there were no museums in his area and he developed a love of art from his parish church and the art that was there. (That’s the gist of the story anyway.) Now that exposure to art is bringing more art into the world. It is one of the missions of the Catholic Church: to be patroness of the arts. The sandwich which you provide today (which absolutely must be done) will be gone tomorrow. True art will feed the soul for generations.

One of the reasons nobody is producing art that glorifies God is that WE DON’T COMMISSION IT. When we need art we open a catalogue. So less artist make “holy art” because they’ll starve to death doing it. Then a vicious circle ensues. We don’t commission, they don’t make it, we find someone left to do something and they do it poorly so we shy away, and less people make art. . .

I’ve often thought about starting a “St. Luke Society” whose members make it part of their mission to pray for and support artists, support projects particularly of a religious nature, consider commissioning art for themselves, and when buying souvenirs or whatever that they strive to buy something made by local artists as opposed to buying a plastic refrigerator magnet made in the shape of France and produced in China. But I can’t figure out how to make it work. Do you have any ideas? Is there anything out there like that?

Anyway – it is a fine line. When do you order from a catalogue and send the extra money Saint Vincent de Paul (there are times for that) and when do you decide that a piece of art that supports an artist in using his God given talent to give glory to God and benefit to his brothers and sisters, brings beauty to those who will see it, can be educational and inspirational, points to the importance of the idea by the community because they were willing to put forth the resources needed to do it?

There’s no manual for that.


Here is an examination of conscience that my mother gave to me when I was a young adult. I changed it a little bit. It isn’t the kind to use for a confession it is more of just a general indicator of where you are. I found it very insightful and it changed some ways of my thinking and pointed out others with which I deal to this day.

Here we go! Enter at your own risk. There are three questions. Pick the answer that comes closest to your response and then ponder what that means.

1 A friend was supposed to pick you up (or meet you somewhere) at the top of the hour. He is now late. Your first reaction is:

a) I hope that he is Okay. I’ll say a prayer just in case.
b) Great! Maybe I can finish my rosary.
c) I’m going to sit here and try to be understanding. Breath. Breath.
d) Typical. I will make a subtle hint that I was here. On time. Waiting.
e) Where is he?! What a jerk. I HATE waiting. Even if he is bleeding on the side of the road he has a cell phone he COULD call.

2 There is an unexpected traffic jam. Your first reaction is:

a) Maybe there is an accident. I’ll say a prayer for them just in case and for people with greater emergencies than mine who find themselves trapped on the road.
b) Great! Maybe I can finish my rosary.
c) I’m going to try and control my anger. Relax. Relax. Turn on classical music . . .
d) There BETTER be something to see at the end of this. Stupid people. Better make some calls.
e) DON’T THESE PEOPLE KNOW THAT I HAVE A LIFE? How could this happen to ME? AGAIN? No, no, no! You are NOT getting in my lane. You chose poorly. LIVE WITH IT! Oh! The inhumanity of it all!

3 A clerk at a store is rude to you. You first reaction is:

a) Thank you God for that test and bless that person.
b) Must be a rough day. I wonder what happened? I’ll say a prayer for her.
c) I’m going to keep my mouth shut if it kills me. Shake it off, shake it off.
d) “What is a witty comment I could use that lets this clerk know that she is out of line and a jerk but makes me look like a needlessly persecuted angel?”
e) Well I’m having a bad day to sweaty and NOBODY is paying ME to be nice today. What does your name tag read? HA! You think things are bad NOW? What till I turn your name in and tell your boss that I will no longer be shopping here because of you. Maybe they’ll give me a discount as an incentive to come back! Oh, who am I kidding? I’ll never get around to that. I’ll just pray a rosary against her.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Just so you know, there will not be a post tomorrow. I will be in Washington D. C. for the ordination of a fellow Cleveland priest who will become the auxiliary bishop for the Arch Diocese of the Military. I’ll write to you about it when I get back – maybe next Monday.

In the meantime I had a little adventure last Saturday morning. Here at St. Sebastian we had the unexpected opportunity to expand our pipe organ considerably in a way that would be far less expensive than usual – long story – I’ll tell you sometime. At some point you have to tell the bishop. After all he legally owns all of the buildings and if you are going to do something that will be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars he would like to know.

But WHEN do you tell him? If it turns out that nobody is behind the project it would have been a waste of his time to go to him. If you wait to find out if there is a lot of interest and backing, there may be too much momentum and then you go to the bishop and he says, “no,” he looks like a jerk. I don’t want to make my bishop look like a jerk.

So I think I was on that razor edge – knowing that there is significant support but not being so far into the project that it is too late to go see him. He graciously made time for me on an early Saturday morning so I zipped up I77 to see him.

You know, it might have been a rather nice visit for him – there was no emergency. I wasn’t coming with a complaint (who makes an appointment to come in and talk about what they like is going on?), I wasn’t in trouble, blah blah blah, we wanted to talk about organs.

It was about two hours and covered all manner of topics. All in all a very pleasant conversation and it put me well at ease. In the end however he gave me the worst possible answer concerning this project. He did not say yes (I could always say that it had the full backing of the bishop), he didn’t say no, (I could always say don’t blame me HE said no!) he said, use your best judgment and have the best interest of the diocese, the parish, and its people in mind and laid out what that meant.

So now the real work begins. What will we do? It is kind of exciting. This is a significant decision for the parish. It will have an impact on everything, almost every day, from this day forward and not something to be taken lightly. I wonder if everyone realizes? And how can we make sure that everyone does realizes?

Daunting vs Exciting

I look at our archives and see articles that our founding pastor wrote about building a rectory. “There are those who say we don’t need a rectory,” he railed (and he did rail.) Now the rectory has been around and serving the parish for over 80 years. How different would the place have been without the parishioners and their pastor going forth with this project back then? I’m glad they did (but wish they would have made more office space.)

Sorry – I’m rambling – but it is late (for me) and if I don’t post now I won’t until Wednesday.


Friday, February 18, 2011


It seems that people crave ritual – even non-Catholics. Witness in recent years the explosion (it seems to me anyway) of people setting up what Catholics would call “way side shrines” of sorts by the side of the road where an accident and death has occurred. There is usually a cross, maybe a sign, flowers, and stuffed animals. (If I die on the highway please don’t leave stuffed animals – maybe a statue of Mary of St. Sebastian – or maybe St. Christopher, patron saint of travelers – but not a teddy bear.) Did you ever ask yourself why people do this?

I believe that most people have an innate urge to do something to help them deal with whatever difficulty it is that they are facing. They might assemble the various pieces of a “shrine,” take it out to the road, maybe invite others along, put it up, maybe say a prayer, and then leave it as witness to their distress, a prayer for the deceased, and as a symbol to all who pass to be safe and that something happened here that was significant to someone. (Sounds very Old Testamenty doesn’t it?)

Catholics have been doing such things for centuries. One of these practices is the lighting of vigil candles. It feels so right to do but have you ever asked yourself why you do it? Something is pressing heavily on your heart, you show up at your local Catholic Church and approach a bank of candles if you are lucky enough to have them. They are most likely before a statue of a saint, Jesus, or even before the Blessed Sacrament. You slip a little money into a box, light a candle, kneel down and pray.

For Catholics worships involves more than prayers of the mind or vocal chords. We pray with our whole beings. In prayer we engage smell, taste, hearing, speaking, thinking, gestures, postures, sight, the whole nine yards. In lighting candles we engage the body in prayer. Besides the mental aspect, there is the kneeling, the action of lighting a candle, the sight of the burning flame, and the smell of the candles.

Then there is the name “vigil.” If we were to “stand vigil” with someone, we would be with them and alert for an extended period of time. When we leave a particular shrine, our candle stands vigil in our place. We leave the candle burning as a sign of our continuing prayer even when we are not able to keep praying, it is a symbol to the community that someone has something about which they are taking this extra means and that they could use your prayers; that something significant in someone’s life is occurring, it is a link of solidarity with the community who will see the candle and an act of faith that entrusting this prayer this saint that God will grant it (in some way) if it be for His glory and our true benefit.

So if you should pass a vigil candle stand and see a candle lit, say even the quickest of prayers for the intention for which it is burning. Someone in your community is in need.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Our secretary had an egg for lunch the other day.

“Did you hear the good news?” she asked, “Science now says that we can have an egg a day!”

What you are about to read may sound like a rip on science but it is not. It is just brought up in order to make a point.

Because of science my Mother started buying oleo because science said it was better for you. Later they said it was not. In fact, it was one of the worst dietary things you could put in your body.

The eleven glasses of water we were supposed to drink a day? It could potentially kill you.

The various predictions of the end of the world in our time due to over population and lack of food – well, I’m still here. And my computer is still working after Y2K to boot.

Diet pop may now harm you BUT we should start drinking wine and eating dark chocolate now.

The food pyramid that we learned in grade school is gone replaced by something else.

Now if you were to present these ideas (and many more) to a scientist and say, “This is why I am having difficulties giving myself over completely to science,” he might reply, “You have to understand what is going on. Sometimes there is just bad science going on by scientists who are not so good. Sometimes companies manipulate science in order to sell things such as the tobacco industry hiring scientists to say that there was no scientific evidence that smoking was bad for your health. There are fads in science also that just need to work through and get out such “quality time” with your kids being even better than just wasting time with your kids. It does not diminish true science however. True science brings us to truth and benefits all of humankind. It was faulty science that said we would all be well into starving by now but it was also science that prevented us from starving.”

I would agree.

But now reverse it. Imagine a scientist pointing out all of the damage that people have done in the name of religion. It would be just as easy if not easier to come up with a list. We might say to him, “You have to understand what is going on. Sometimes there are just bad Christians preaching religion that is not so good. Sometimes pastors will manipulate people with religion to get you to donate money to expand their ministry. There are fads in religion that just need to work through and get out such as felt banners. It does not diminish religion however. True faith brings us to truth and benefits all of humankind. It was faulty religion that predicted the end of the world at various times but it was also religion that helped see people through those times.

Science and religion both have their public tasks cut out for them though science seems to have an upper hand in public relations at the moment. But it should always be that: Science AND religion working at their best to bring us to truth – and this is one of the things that I love about the Catholic Church that it does respect science as much as it does.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Years ago there was a large article in the newspaper about a family who left the Catholic Church just as their daughter was about to receive her First Communion. The girl had celiac disease, a disease that is just starting to come into the public conscience now but was virtually unheard of then. If you want to know more about the disease please look here – but the long and short of it is that celiac cannot have any gluten which is part of wheat, rye, and barely. If you know someone who has this disease you know that there are significant lifestyle changes that are required of this person. Think of everything we eat that is made of these grains and think of a restaurant menu and consider how difficult it would be for this person to enjoy going out with friends. Think of going on a picnic and not eating the chips and salsa, the birthday cake, drinking a beer, or many of the processed foods that most people don’t think twice about eating unless they are watching their waist line. And this list doesn’t even include other things to look out for such as medicines, lip balms, and vitamins which often contain gluten.

So back to the little girl. The family left the Catholic Church because at the time there was no alternative to receiving the host except for receiving the Precious Blood alone (which is perfectly acceptable.) But not wanting their daughter to stick out, they chose to leave the Church and go to a Protestant Church that did celebrate communion but was not so picky about of what it was made.

I remember thinking, “How could someone leave Jesus for a symbol?” It was beyond my ken and I partially wrote it off thinking, “If they truly knew what they were giving up, this would not have happened.” Well, that may be theologically true, but like trying to take a celiac to a fast food restaurant, the stress that the situation can cause may be quite trying for them. For that family it was easier to leave.

One of the biggest problems is that celiacs and their doctors are largely flying blind. There just isn’t enough known. Can the itsiest, teeniest, tiny bit of glutton be Okay? “Probably,” says one doctor. “Probably?” Would you be comfortable with “Probably?” If someone handed you a pill and said, “It probably won’t kill you,” would you take it? At least you would think twice. There is a question as to whether beer is safe. Can celiacs drink beer? We don’t know for absolute sure

Now the Catholic celiac comes to Mass. One option is of course to only receive from the chalice. Fine. As long as it isn’t the chalice into which the priests puts a crumb of the host during the fraction rite. (This is not something to worry about at Saint Sebastian.)

Another option is a gluten free host – which I believe is actually a virtually glutton free host. Is it Okay? Maybe. But here is the trick – how do you get the gluten free host the Catholic celiac? You cannot put their host in among the other hosts (there is less gluten in a gluten free host than there is in a tiny crumb of a regular host.) It had been our practice to have persons with celiac disease to come up into the sanctuary with the extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion to receive – which worked great with those we had who are rather self-confident people and have no problem standing up in front of so many people. But now we have a few more joining us – some kids – and this is not such a great option.

HERE IS WHERE I COULD USE SOME HELP: Do you have any suggestion as to the best way to get gluten free hosts to Catholic celiacs? The first trick is making sure you show up on time to warn the priest that one is needed. Then where are they distributed? One should not be handling regular hosts and then when the person comes forward, wash your hands, dig out a pyx (setting the ciborium down somewhere,) distribute, and then go back to what you were doing before. (Or do you?) If a separate line is needed how do you keep non-celiacs from receiving thereby short changing someone who needs it? It may be that I am over thinking it. *sigh* But just the same – if you have any ideas I would greatly appreciate hearing about it.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “How interesting that Catholics were asked not what was most important but what was most “meaningful.” Are these the same thing? . . . If meaningfulness has become the new yardstick by which we measure the sacraments, how can we then deny this sacrament – or any other – to someone when it means so much to them?” Dr. Phillippa Martyr

QUOTE II: “Now, hospitality seems far too important, to me, to learn at college. Hospitality is an ancient art. The art of welcoming the stranger, providing good, being warm and welcoming and generous. It is very much the realm of womanly art, perhaps as a branch of housekeeping; and as such, it would normally be taught to a child by his mother.” Nancy Carpenter Brown


Fr. P. AND Lynn sent in this (once again nothing to do with this blog) amazing video. Approximately 2 and half minutes. Hand Dancing.

Pat sent this 2 minute video in. Thanks.

Russ sent this 5 minute video in - with no connection to this blog except for pure entertainment value.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


It's comic strip day again.

Actually, Fr. Pfeiffer is a very conscientious and careful driver. He never pulls out without making sure everything is safe and ready.

Everything was going fine until IT happened. It really was completely uncalled for. We were just tooling along doing the speed limit when someone pulled out directly in front of Fr. P. There was not another sole on the road. Two seconds longer we would have passed and whoever it was could have had the whole road to themselves.
There was a certain amount of indignation. Not that there was anything wrong with that.

So much for controlling others with your mind.

Now, there may be those who think the above line was composed by me for comedic effect. I assure you that this is not the case.
Well . . . you get the basic gist of how the ride home went.

Though you may be one of the few besides me who understands.

Friday, February 11, 2011


Who would have thought a better filing system would make life so much better? I’ve actually cleaned most of the stuff off of my desk simply because it was organized better. Life is so grand when you engage it well. Before this my desk had rather the pile on it – the direct result of which was I was not responding to people for a couple of weeks who made comments on Adam’s Ale.

Today I can actually dust my desk. Not that there is any dust on it – it was too covered with paperwork to be able to collect any. So I look back at some of the posts and the one that seems to require the most immediate response is last Friday concerning indulgences. I whipped that one out and a few of you caught me on some inconsistencies. Good for you! You know your stuff! Would that all Catholics be that sharp.

There are a number of ways we can go about the forgiveness of sin but Lynne caught the first inconsistency. It was not enough for me to say that confession remains the normative and most efficacious. Except in some very rare and specific cases, mortal sins must be confessed by kind and number in the confessional. Period. (And I personally highly recommend the regular practice whether one is in mortal sin or not.)

One of the Annons made mention that indulgences has nothing to do with the forgiveness of sin but the temporal punishment due to sin. When it comes to a plenary indulgence confession is a necessary part of the process – but I clouded the issue. To get it absolutely straight let me quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1471: “The doctrine and practice of indulgences in the Church are closely linked to the effects of the sacrament of Penance. An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment die to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven . . .”

There we go! Thanks again to my ever alert readers! Now – go indulge!

Thursday, February 10, 2011


A large portion of the Christian world believes in the theory of “Bible Alone” or Sola Scriptura. The idea in the most basic of terms is that the Bible is sort of a “How To” manual and that all that one needs to do is read the Bible (under the influence of the Holy Spirit) and that one will come to know truth. In my book the 500 year experiment has failed. The most glaring evidence for this is that there are thousands of Protestant denominations, many at odds with opposing positions on key tenants of the faith, but all claiming to be lead by the Holy Spirit and containing all truth.

There are many reasons for this but here is one given by a priest recently.

Interpret this sentence: “I never said you stole money.”

What did this sentence mean to you?

Read this sentence again out loud in with the following emphasis added:

I never said you stole money.
I never said you stole money.
I never said you stole money.
I never said you stole money.
I never said you stole money.
I never said you stole money.

Each reading completely changes the meaning of the text. What did the author have in mind when he wrote it? Well, it is helpful to have an authority that states “this is what he meant.” This is like the “international prototype of the kilogram; a cylindrical chunk of platinum-iradium kept in a safe at Sevres in France” reported today in the Plain Dealer. This chunk of metal is designed to always bring us back to the exact measurement of what a kilogram is should we go astray.

Tradition is our prototype of interpretation of Sacred Scripture. What was true today was true yesterday and will be true tomorrow. Truth cannot be determined by popular vote or current trends in our culture. The Holy Spirit cannot say one thing one day, (birth control is a sin) and something else the next (abortion is a right.)

Today the Catholic Church stands virtually alone in the teaching that was taught by St. Peter, by St. Sebastian, by St. Francis, by the Church Fathers, by Saint Scholastica, by Pope John Paul II, by (hopefully) your parish priest, and will be taught by your children. Tradition stands as a great gift and not a burden. It keeps us on track.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


If you are living the Christian life you should be encountering some amount of opposition. It may be veiled, but it exists by way of snide comments, “funny” put downs, disdained looks, the dredging up of urban legends, or dismissive attitudes. It can be discouraging and disheartening.

There are two paths one can take at this point: 1) Surrender. “Why do I bother? I’m all alone in this. Does this stuff matter anymore?” 2) The second and only appropriate response is thankfulness. “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.” Act 5:41. What better way for mere mortals to show their love for God than to stand by Him even when others persecute you for it. Would you not rejoice to have a friend like that – who believed in you no matter what – no matter the consequences? That is our gift to God too – to love Him not just when and where He is popular but always. To rejoice that you were found such a good friend as to deserve the scorn that He is given.

When next you encounter pain on account of the Name, remember to stop and give thanks and pray for those not given the faith you have received.

Monday, February 7, 2011


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: "The Miracles of the Church seem to me to rest not so much upon faces or voices or healing power coming suddenly near to us from afar off, but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that for a moment our eyes can see and our ears can hear what is there about us always." from Willa Cather's, "Death Comes for the Archbishop"

QUOTE II: "In our day - when the sanctity of life is threatened not only by abortion, infanticide and euthanasia, but also by embryonic research and eugenic temptations to eliminate the weak, the disabled, and the infirm elderly - this aspect of Catholic identity becomes even more vital to our discipleship." Archbishop Charles Chaput


The first draught of Adam's Ale can be seen here (8 February 2007) when through the encouragement of Dawn Eden this blog started brewing. A big sip of Adam's Ale to everyone who contributes, reads, aids and abets this little project. God bless you!

My site is worth

My site is worth$8,311.44Your website value?

Since 2007 there has been 215,819 visits with 306,204 page views with an average of 207 per day. It's been fun so far! Let's stay in touch.

Here are some things to help celebrate:

Fr. Ference wrote an
EXCELLENT article for the Homiletic and Pastoral Review that I highly recommend to you. Good job brother.

Here is
another article that he recommends concerning beautiful women and the pro-life movement. Very interesting.

Frank sent
this video in. I did not expect it to be very interesting but found myself watching it to the very end. No real connection to this blog other than it helps celebrate.

Along the same lines of having no real connection to this blog, Lynn sent
this video in about Falling Water. Thanks! Recover well Lynn.

Brian sent
this link to the Catholic News Angency (CNA)

Frank sent
this puzzle game in. It is rather interesting. It helps to know that if you get a piect in its proper place there is a funny little sound that is made. WARNING: ADDICTION LEVEL LOW.

Ellen sent this in, "Publisher's Weekly is the trade magazine for publishers and booksellers. How delightful to see a surge in new editions of GKC coming out in 2011!" To
read more look here.

Here is part one of six of Pam Stenzel's lecture to young folk about what they need to know about sex. It's not too bad for adults either. I do not recommend it for persons under grade 7. I think the most touching part is the second video. The information is quite shocking but important.

On a less cheery note - AT&T provides this PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT conerning texting and driving. Warning: It's sad.


Following the 11:00 o’clock Mass when just a couple of dozen people were left in the church there was a loud rumbling noise as if a snow plow truck was running right up along the side of the building, or a train was passing by on some long forgotten tracks. There was a momentary blocking of the sun followed by a louder crash that shook the whole building!

Everyone just froze in their tracks like the prey of hawk that is shocked still at the screeching of that mighty bird before it strikes. And then it just stopped. After a moment I realized that all of the snow that used to be on the west side of the upper roof was now on the lower roof. Tons of snow came crashing down a couple of stories, landed with a shuddering impact that rocked the building. “Don’t worry,” I called out, “It’s just the end of the world.”

Going outside people half way down the block had turned to see the sight. “That was loud!” they called up the street, “What a sight!” I just hope there wasn’t any damage.

Even though the Super Bowel was a great game (that is, if you were looking for a good game and didn’t really care who won) this event stands out in my mind as far more exciting – although the bratwurst wrapped in bacon comes a mighty close second.


Also this weekend we had our St. Sebastian confirmation retreat. What an awesome group of kids there are here. I much enjoyed talking to them. On Friday night we had a penance service and called for help from a couple of local pastor. Afterwards we repaired to the rectory for refreshments and talk. It was a nice night with no agenda or project to accomplish. I treasure those moments with fellow priests.

As baby priest we heard extensively about the “good old days” when priests used to get together all the time and have great socials; Forty Hours of Devotion being one of the focal points of the gatherings. They would lament to us that our generation of priests don’t seem to get together as often to blow off steam.

It is true. In general we do not. But also gone are the days of three or four priests in a rectory when your duties could easily be covered. Less priests + more responsibilities = less socializing. Especially if means what was skipped on Monday just doubles the work on Tuesday.

Oh! Woe is priests? Nah. It is just a different time. We do get together though most of the time not quite as spectacularly as in the good old days – or at least not as often. And being rather the recluse anyway I rather enjoy my solitude when there is the opportunity to carve it out of the schedule.

One of the pastors this past Friday pointed out that I was rather the talk at his place for letting the staff go home on Wednesday because of the snow storm. “I have a confession to make,” I said to him, “It wasn’t so much for their safety. It was my day away and I decided not to go out and sent them home so I could have the house to myself, play my music, and walk around in my sweat pants.”

And I did.

Friday, February 4, 2011


I could swear that I’ve done a post on indulgences before. So sure was I that when someone asked to have a post on them I thought I even remembered the title of the post and was just going to link them to it. But I can’t find it and so . . .

. . . Indulge me on this post . . .

The whole idea of indulgences stem from the fact that Jesus gave the keys of the kingdom of heaven to Peter and through Peter to the Church. “Whoever sins you forgive are forgiven, whoever sins you retain are retained.” There is not a whole lot of other explanation after that. It is like giving your kid $100. “I’m giving you the power to purchase things. I am not going to tell you how to use that $100, just that you have $100.” So nowhere, even in the thickest Bible, will you see instructions even for building a small chapel with a screen in it, a couple of seats, and a light on the outside that lets you know if it is occupied or not, in which we are to confess your sins. That is simply what the Church, according to the authority given her, decided to do with the keys.

This, of course, is not the only way that our sins can be forgiven. There are a number of ways though confession is the normative and most efficacious. Every time we celebrate a sacrament the forgiveness of sins is involved in some way which is why we have the penitential rite at the beginning of Mass.

Now, another way for sins to be forgiven is through indulgences, which, by the way, were never done away with in the Church. As a matter of fact in 1968 the “Handbook of Indulgences; Norms and Grants” was put out by the Apostolic Penitentiary and updated in the United States as late as 1988.

An indulgence is not an “easy way out.” In fact I find the practice of attempting to gain one FAR more daunting than going to confession. But let us take a look.

An indulgence brings about the remission of the temporal punishment for sins, and therefore the giving of satisfaction owed to God for one’s sin. An indulgence can either be plenary (when all punishment is satisfied) or partial (just as the name implies.) They can either be gained for oneself or for a soul in purgatory.

In order to gain an indulgence one must perform the action to which the indulgence is attached. For example, according the handbook, “A plenary indulgence is granted the Christian faithful . . .when they devoutly assist at a First Communion Mass.” (That means you come and truly pray the Mass with those who are receiving First Holy Communion.) But that is not all!

Though the rules on partial indulgences are rather lax, in order to receive the benefits of a plenary indulgence, “Besides the exclusion of all attachment to sin, even venial sin (!), the requirements for gaining a plenary indulgence are the performance of the indulged work and the fulfillment of three conditions, 1) sacramental confession, 2) Eucharistic communion, and 3) prayer for the pope’s intentions.” The idea behind this is that the gaining of a plenary indulgence assumes a full conversion to Christ on the part of the person trying for one. (After all – it supposes that you have feed yourself from an attachment to sin of any kind!) It is a radical decision for God. Which is why there is only one day in your life that it is possible for you to receive more than one plenary indulgence and that is on the day you die. You can receive partial indulgences as you please.

Can you see now why selling indulgences is so wrong? An indulgence and in fact even sacramental confession calls for a radical turning of one’s life to Christ for it to be efficacious. Dropping a penny in pot does not constitute this.
Here is online version of the Handbook on Indulgences.