Wednesday, August 31, 2011


About ten minutes ago I finished up celebrating a funeral. I will admit when I go to bed at night it is with a certain amount of satisfaction that my vocation in the priesthood does a lot of good in the world (now whether I do well at it is another question but the vocation itself does a lot of good.)

Recently a number of people, mostly men, have come to me and stated that they do not feel that their chosen careers make much of a difference in the world. For example, “I sell whichamajiggies Father and at the end of the day nobody will be saved because they have one, it won’t affect history, it won’t give others hope or ease their suffering.” I challenge that assumption and I challenge it because of what another man who does sell whichamajiggies taught me.

His side of the story goes more like this, “Father, I sell whichamajiggies but that is not what I do. That is a tool. I own this whichamajiggy shop and that allows me to employ these husbands and fathers so that they may raise Christian children with a certain amount of security. Selling whichamajiggies allows me to support my family, my parish, and my community. It allows me to witness to my faith. That is what I do – not sell whichamajiggies.”

If you enjoy your job but it does not feel as though you are contributing to the betterment of man and the glory of God, it may be that it simply a tool to allow you to do those things that do accomplish that end. It may be that your employment is a blessing to others afterall.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “Somewhere a man wastes away his life, covered with coal dust, in the stifling depths of a mine; elsewhere, another man rests warmly, clothed in alpaca, buried in a good book in an armchair, without ever thinking whence or how this armchair, this book, this alpaca, this warmth reach him.” from Jonathan Littell’s “The Kindly Ones”

QUOTE II: “Ah, wasn’t life better (or at least more romantic) before safety?” Kathy Kalina


H. sent this in: "The Columbus Museum of Art will display Caravaggio's Ecce Homo (Behold the Man) in an exhibit from October 21, 2011 to February 5, 2012." For more information go here.

From the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter: "The Catholic Diocese of Cleveland is now pleased to feature the Catholic News Service (CNS) Multimedia Player on the diocesan web site. Check out First Take: Vatican, a daily briefing on what's happening in the Vatican including the activities of the Holy Father. Other videos include items of interest from the U.S. and around the world." See more here.

I thought this was pretty cool. Our school has begun an organic garden. The produce is used for a number of ends: Here is one from Vaccaro's Restaurant:

I accidently came across this site that has all kinds of Catholic videos.  I only saw one so I can't vouch for the whole site.  But if you need something to watch here you go!

Monday, August 29, 2011


This past weekend we had our inaugural “All Class School Reunion” at St. Sebastian. There was a nice turn out of people from classes extending back to the ‘30s. It was great listening to people reminisce about the goings on around here in years past.

Perhaps one of the most fascinating for me was hearing about the nuns, the Humility of Mary nuns that once staffed our school. It was to me what perhaps Monday Diary is to other about the life of priests. My favorite story of the night was the lady (then a girl) whose mother would send her to the basement of the school with “Pink Ladies.” Yeah, I didn’t know what one was either. According to Wikipedia it’s a “girlie drink.” Apparently as part of their recreation they would roller skate in the basement of the school having pinned up their great veils and enjoying a little libation.

Another lady told about how her mother used to lend one of the nuns her car so she could drive around. The nuns were not supposed to drive though whether this was a rule set by the order or by the state I do not know. I do know that some orders were not allowed to drive by order of the state due to the fact that their habits blocked their peripheral vision.

The original convent was on the top floor of the school until they needed the room for classrooms and the convent was built. That would never happen today. Not only would I not want to live in a school building (could you imagine!?) it probably would be frowned upon in our current wariness.

Friday, August 26, 2011


Recently somebody donated a box of religious items to the parish. Most of it was things used at Mass. One thing in the box, however, was a sick call crucifix that I hung in one of the guest bedrooms.

Sick call crucifixes used to fascinate me as a child with its sliding secret compartment, candles, holy water, and other things. It seems a majority of Catholic homes had one usually near the bedrooms or in the living room just in case it might be needed. This does not seem to be the case anymore. Whereas Catholics are still highly encouraged to have a crucifix hanging in their houses, the sick call crucifix seems to be becoming a thing of the past. (It it is not in your area, I would be interested in hearing about it.)

In all actuality, I have never seen one used and today they are largely not necessary. I do remember my mother showing how they would be used if it were ever needed however. “Before the priest comes,” she said, “we would prepare for his arrival. He will not be very talkative because he is carrying the Blessed Sacrament and therefore will not be engaging in idle chit chat until after.” She then took the crucifix off of the wall and placed it on a table. The top of the crucifix slid off and could be set up right into the base. A small cloth (which I take to be a corporal) would be placed on the table where Father could place his pyx. Two tiny beeswax candles would also be set into the base and lit because of the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. There was also a little vile of holy water.

Today there does not seem to be the need for one of these crucifixes. The priest generally brings with him all the things he needs for a visit and such things as candles are either no longer needed or even forbidden as many people we visit are on oxygen the combination of which would send a person to his maker sooner than anticipated. But neither is there anything that forbid or make inappropriate the use thereof.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Yesterday I was driving through some old stomping grounds that I had not seen in a few years and there was a new mega-church building. It was modern, clean, and mostly just BIG! I knew that the area was still growing with new homes being built even in the current economy but wondered from where all of the people to populate such a church came.

It is a complaint heard a bit as of late that all of the quaint little Catholic Churches are closing; the small structured buildings with just a couple hundred families. We are moving toward the mega-mentality – huge congregations with families more or less hovering around 1,000 to 4,000 or more. But still – even that does not seem all that impressive compared to these mega churches.

That is – until you consider that we are comparing apples and oranges.

Consider that new mega-church. Often it is one of a kind – a rare flower in the field. And even when this is not entirely the case it is a one of a kind experience in its denomination. Therefore it attracts people from all over. It may be the case that even the vast majority of the people that it serves do not live in the neighborhood of the church. It may be that it will grow to have an “east campus” or a “west campus” or some such thing to serve its people better, but in the end, even for its great size, compared to the world it is really quite a small thing.

Your local Catholic parish is dedicated to a geographical area. The whole world is divided up into dioceses and a diocese into parishes. Granted some of them by necessity are larger than others, but if you live in an area as we do here in Ohio, to go for a short walk can take you into another parish. The parish is dedicated to the people who live around it (whether they be Catholic or practicing or not.) Whereas the impressive mega-church may attract people from as many as a dozen or so parishes, each parish (for the most part) attracts only those interested in the Catholic faith from its immediate area. Therefore there will never be a St. Sebastian North Campus in Highland Square – that would be St. Vincent’s territory. And when a parish starts gaining a mega-church size, we often subdivide the parish into two and establish a new parish. Therefore we more rarely take on gigantic proportions remaining little fish in a huge pond rather than a huge fish in a tiny pond.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


This incident happened not too long ago:

After Mass an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion came up to me and said, “There was a young man here today who came to Communion, received Christ in his hand and then slipped the host into his pocket. What should I do?”

I replied, “Here is what I have done in the past. I halt the line, immediately go up to the person, place my hand on his shoulder and say, ‘either consume that host right now or return Him.’”

I’ve been told that I am rude in such incidences. But if you understand the Eucharist as the center of our covenant it would be ridiculous to do otherwise. Consider a husband and wife. At the center of their covenantal bond is the marital act. It would be beyond the thoughts of Christians to invite anyone else into this most intimate of acts no matter the excuse. It would also be beyond the pale if another would abuse one’s spouse in anyway. “That is my other self! Unhand her right now. I don’t care how innocent your intentions that is inappropriate and if you continue I will intervene most sternly!”

Christ is the bridegroom, the Church is His bride. At the center of our covenant the Groom gives us His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity for us to bring into ourselves. For us this is not symbol or ritual act, it is the Groom giving himself completely to us – we become one with our Savior, with God! and like a good spouse we jealously protect that relationship. If someone wants to become part of this covenant – GREAT! But there is no such thing as “Eucharistic hospitality” – at least in the way most people understand it. (Would you entrust your newborn with someone who says, “I don’t see your baby as a true human being, but you can trust me with her.”)

Because Jesus appears to us under the form of bread and wine, we often find those who say, “God can fend for Himself.” And though Jesus could most probably fend for Himself, if we love Him we would not make Him do so unnecessarily.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “If you try to be a plumb and you’re a banana, all you’ll be is a second rate banana.” Fr. Wiegand

QUOTE II: “He who cannot draw on 3,000 years is living hand to mouth.” Goethe

QUOTE II: "Crying is the orignal performance art." Annie Dixon


T & M Wood sent this in: On Saturday, September 17 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Fr. Frank Pavone will lead a Day of Reflection at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Church in Wooster entitled Building a Culture of Life: Ending Abortion in Our Lifetime, beginning with Mass at 9:00. Admission at the half-day event is free but you must reserve a spot either by picking up a ticket at the St. Mary church office or calling to reserve one (330-264-8824). For information click here.

Russ didn't actually send this video on but one like it.  From that I clicked onto one and found it fasinating.  What an amazing world we live in - and also one fraught with illusions.  Only the angels could make an immediate and permanent decision for or against God because they could not succumb to such illusions.

From the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter: "World Youth Day is a global event that calls together the youth of the world for prayer, faith formation and interaction with Church leaders, including the Holy Father.

"Over 29,000 pilgrims from the United States traveled to World Youth Day, including 64 bishops, 8 who have been chosen to lead catechetical sessions."  Read more here.

The next article for the Chesterton Club is now on line.  Click on his picture to the right.

Monday, August 22, 2011


This post may come under the category of "perhaps you're revealing too much" but - oh well.

I can't cry.  Well, that is not entirely true.  I very seldom cry.  It is NOT that I think it unmanly or inappropriate.  In fact sometimes I try to cry.  I remember as a kid it being very cathartic.  So every once in a blue moon I try.  I attempt to recall how it felt and the way my face would crinkle up and give it a go.
Unfortunately it usually only results in me pulling a muscle in my face.
This became a big concern for me so I went to talk to my spiritual director about it.  It is not that I can't feel profoundly sad, it is just that I don't cry.  He said, "I am afraid you just don't have the gift of tears."

I think it more diabolical than that.  I blame my sister.  One day when she was babysitting me and I started crying for some reason and she wanted me to stop before Mom got home took me into the bathroom and held me up the mirror.

Then we started laughing hysterically.  A few times after that when I would cry I would go into the bathroom to see if I still looked funny - and I did - and I would end up laughing.  So maybe I just got out of the habit.  It was counter productive when I wanted to feel sad.

In my adult life there were three times that I really cried - I don't mean welling up in the eyes - I mean out and out cried.  The first was when we sold the family house.  It had to be and I understood but it was like a chapter in my life and in the life of my family and I cried and made a studious effort not to look at a mirror or walk past plate glass that day.  I wanted to cry.

The second time was when a professor told me (IF I understood him correctly) that the Church was getting away from understanding the Eucharist as the Body and Blood of Christ.  (It is not.)  Not only did I cry that day but was rather melodramatic about it.  It was horrible - throwing things, falling on my face in chapel before the Blessed Sacrament - it is too embarrassing to go in to. . .

But the third time was during a movie.  I'm not going to tell you what movie because that too would be too embarrassing for me to say.  Strangely enough - it is a comedy.  But it makes me cry like a baby.

So up until recently the rectory was FULL of people: a priest visiting from Sri Lanka, a seminarian from Korea, the resident priests and seminarians, and visitors who stay with us on a weekly basis - until last night.  Everybody left.  The seminarians are back at the seminary, Fr, Pfieffer is on vacation, our visitors have left, Fr. S. was away . . . it was just me.  It was time to get the movie out which I keep super hidden under lock and key.

It was like it was radio active. 

In the absolute privacy of the T.V. room (it even has glass block windows so nobody can see in) I watched my super secret movie and balled like a baby with a full diaper and an empty stomach.
And now - it is safely back in its hiding place not to be seen for at least five more years lest it lose its effect.

And that is one of the things that a priest does when he is finally all alone!

And to you men out there who can cry . . . I salute you.

Friday, August 19, 2011


Here is a little bit of an unusual Friday Potpourri. There is a job position open at St. Sebastian Parish. Let people know about it!

The Director of Religious Education (DRE) for Saint Sebastian Parish is to be a practicing Catholic in good standing with the Church who makes the Eucharist the source and summit of his or her life and ministry. Experience is required either by way of education or practical experience. Knowledge of the Theology of the Body is required. A cooperative/collaborative attitude with the staff will be needed especially at the beginning of the DRE’s ministry. This is to be coupled with excellent leadership skills. The DRE must be able to relate well to persons of all ages and be comfortable with a wide spectrum of expressions of the Catholic faith.

The job will begin as a part time position with an eye on developing into a full time position a few years down the line. Since the duties of the position are already held by a number of persons employed at the parish, the first couple of years much of the position’s core responsibilities will consist in assisting others in the execution of the ministries.

Other duties would include the organizing, development, and overseeing of the religious instruction of the parish for persons of all ages either in cooperation with others when necessary or as new ministries. This includes not only school age youth but adult formation and education as well. Other programs need to be updated and your assistance with this is vital.

A spirit of cooperation with our cluster parishes of St. Vincent and Sts. Bernard and Mary is necessary. While not necessarily going to their sites to put on a program, your working with them as far as scheduling, exchanging programs, and keeping information flowing is necessary. Also attendance at required diocesan meeting and other diocesan meetings as deemed worthy is a must.

Keeping track of Virtus training of like records for all persons involved in youth ministries will be the role of the DRE.

Remaining with the budget of the parish is absolute without expressed permission.

Professional and appropriate attire is expected.

Adherence to diocesan mandates of employment including and especially as it pertains to the Church’s protection of minors is absolute both for the DRE and any other person working with our youth.

Self transportation is required. (Driver’s license and a car.)

Attendance at staff meetings is always mandatory (first Tuesday of the month at 9:30.) Also attendance at select school, parish finance, and parish council meetings will be expected.

There should be a familiarity with Diocesan educational guidelines.

There is no deadline for this placement. We will wait for the right person.

Send resumes to:

Fr. Valencheck
RE: DRE Position
476 Mull Avenue
Akron, OH 44320

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Your neighborhood parish is not a church. It is a parish. The building is a “church building” but the institution is a parish. We belong to the Catholic Church. The local Church is the diocese. Within the local church are parishes each acting under the leadership of the local bishop. Priests are his assistants in bringing Christ to the local Church.

Being part of a local Church is really beneficial for us. The fact that we are so interconnected is part of our strength. The Catholic Church tends to be more interconnected than most other non-Catholic religions. For this reason when a Catholic parish closes in a struggling neighborhood it tends to be more catastrophic for the neighborhood than when other faiths shutter their doors. Even if the people who attend the parish are not living in the neighborhood the presence of a parish brings resources, attention, people and a stronger political voice to the area because it does not exist on its own but as part of a much larger body.

We should pray for our parishes that they remain strong, viable, effective faith filled places. But we should also pray for the health of our respective dioceses. The stronger/better diocese we have, the stronger and better we are as individual parishes.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Yesterday we read at Mass that it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. That is pretty heavy stuff. But the heavier stuff is trying to figure out who the rich man is. It might be surprising.

A good number of years ago I was heading to Zimbabwe with Catholic Relief Services to see the work they were doing there with the “poor.” I was taken to task concerning this endeavor by a person who said, “What on earth are you going to Zimbabwe to help the poor there for when we have people right here in the U. S. who do not have food in their refrigerator?” Not downplaying the true plight that many in our nation face but the poverty of that nation (largely man made) was far worse. Their concern was not an empty refrigerator. They do not have refrigerators or a place to keep one. Even if they did there would not even be a plug in which they might have power for one. There was not a power grid or a power plant anywhere near them. There was no infrastructure, nor rich neighborhood close by where they might even beg a little, and absolutely no voice in their government, no news agency to spread the word – just them in the middle of a desolate area. Now that is poverty. They look on our poor with jealousy. I would not want to be even what we consider poor but for them it would be a giant step up. There is hope that poor in our nation could find clean water, some possible assistance with food and medical help, there is some chance that someone would find some resources for them if they really needed it, that some second hand clothes could be obtained with which to clothe themselves.

So who are the poor and who are the rich? How many people living in the richest nation not only in the world but in all of history could be considered truly poor? How very blest we are! We are so fortunate! Never have so many people lived so well as we. But with such a blessing comes responsibility. We have to face the quandary of the camel and the needle.

What is wrong with being one of the “haves”? Nothing in and of itself. But there are quagmires of which we need to be particularly careful. It is not until you have that you then have something to protect. It is not until you have that you have something to choose whether to be generous with it or not. It is not until you have that pride can take root. When one is a “have” one then also obtains some amount of power and power can be good or corrupt.

Then who can be saved? For us it is impossible but everything is possible for God. That is why we are believers. We encounter Christ daily and especially on Sunday and He shows us constantly how to overcome these pitfalls. And when we fail (and we do and will) He provides us with forgiveness and healing through the sacraments.

Poverty itself is not holiness but a pathway to holiness. Riches themselves are not slides to hell. If we rely on Christ they too can be a pathway to heaven albeit a more difficult one.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “The more committed a family becomes to a given project, the more vulnerable it also becomes. Having partially conquered nature, they were now a prey to it.” from Michner’s “The Source”

QUOTE II: “No matter how much of a leopard a leopard may be, there are rivals that can overcome him because they do not fear him . . . When faced with a leopard the strength of an ant lies precisely in its insignificance. The real animal is the entire colony. The leopard can do away with hundreds of ants with a single sweep of the tongue, but the body of the colony will make up for its loses in a matter of seconds. The ants, meanwhile, touch bottom in pools of saliva and diligently bite the leopard’s tongue.” from Eliseo Alberto’s “Caracol Beach”


Fr. Damien Ference of the Diocese of Cleveland and well appreciated occassional homilist at St. Sebastian as well as guest blogger for Adam's Ale was interviewed this past week on Archbishop Dolan's Sirius/xm radio program this week. The show next Thursday at 12pm. If you have satellite radio, you can tune into ch. 129. The topic of the conversation is his article "Why Vocation Programs Don't Work" from the February issue of Homiletic and Pastoral Review. It airs for the first time this Thursday at noon on ch. 129. Then, they will replay it about 5 times over the weekend.

P. sent this thought provoking article about the riots taking place in London. It reports that the common denominator in those arrested are young persons from broken homes without fathers. Interesting. Read more here.

We had flooding here this past weekend.  Some people were sad and angry.  Sebastian thought it was great.

From the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter: "In advance of World Youth Day, Bishop Lennon has recorded a special message for those who are traveling to Madrid, Spain on August 16th through the 21st." Find out more here.

One of the members of the Saint Sebastian Chesterton Society has an article on line about distributism, a particularly favorite topic of Chesterton. "Matthew P. Akers makes a case in St. Austin’s Review that Tolkien’s Middle Earth writings do exemplify the principles of Distributism–both as a positive model in the Shire and critically through showing the destructive processes of an inhuman, anti-natural regime (think of Mordor as the first BP!) St Austin’s is a conservative Catholic journal, but of a distinctly non-Ayn-Rand, non-neo-conservative kind, and progressives will find Akers’ remarks on economics, the environment, and imperialism to be very congenial." Read the actual article here.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Fr. P. has a Magic Phone.  It does everything.  The other day we got lost (well, I got us lost along with our visiting seminarian Joseph) and Magic Phone saved the day.  Fr. P looked up the person we were looking for in the White Pages and then plugged that address into the GPS ap (is that how you spell ap?) and got us right there.  This is amazing to me.  The other day I asked him to take a picture for me and he said, "I don't have my phone on me."  10 years ago if you had said that in reply people would have thought you adleminded.  Now phones do everything.

I have a magic phone too.  It is my office phone.  It does one thing - phone calls.  Nothing else.  It doesn't tell me the constellations in the sky, it doesn't tell me the nearest great restaurant, it just makes calls.  *BUT* it only allows calls through when I am not in my office.   That's what makes it truly magic.

One of my big surprises in ministry is the amount of paperwork we have to do from time to time.  It keeps me in my office for a goodly amount of time.  But the phone never, ever rings when I am in there. 

Of course, every once in a while one must step away from their desk.  It happens.

But I swear in the that 5 minutes that I am out of the office the phone can sense it and it wishes to punish me for abandoning it.

Not that there is anything wrong with this.  But it would be nicer to answer the phone and handle the matter right away rather than listening to the messages, writing down notes, and then going through the process of calling people back BECAUSE THEY won't be at THEIR phones.

That may not be completely truthful but it sure feels that way.  Sometimes I think there is a conspiracy.  Almost - ALMOST like I could believe that my parochial vicar has an ap that let's people know when I have walked away from the phone.  Could it be?

Friday, August 12, 2011


Let us suppose you had never been to a Mass before – in fact you had only ever heard that such a thing existed somewhere – where would you go to try to recreate how to “do” a Mass? The question might be trickier than you think. The information is not all in one place. There is the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, the rubrics, the various decrees, canon law, custom, and various other sources all coming together to inform a person how Mass should be celebrated. (Let alone what type of Mass one might be celebrating.) That is why it is often taught by walking it through and becoming familiarized with a teacher rather than simply studying every last source on how to say Mass.

Perhaps what most people are aware of are the rules called rubrics. The etymology of this word comes from the red ink once used by scribes to denote directions in a text used in the celebration of a sacrament. You can hear the word “ruby” in there can’t you? Today in our liturgical texts we still use the red ink to give directions to the celebrant and other ministers.

The words in red ink are not arbitrarily chosen. They are very concise. If they give a direction without qualifiers they are things that must be done. Any words such as “should” or “may” carry much less weight though should is stronger than may. Order is also important. What is listed first is generally regarded as more desirable than what comes second or third.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


I am so fortunate. I get to be pastor of a great parish with fantastic people, beautiful buildings, and wonderful liturgies. Our music is something to boast about, the involvement and dedication to the parish by the people is out of this world, and there is a great appreciation for the Blessed Sacrament.

On a more selfish note, I live in a great house with great people, have a hardworking staff who I like, and it is all in a rather remarkable part of town. I’m lucky and I know it.

Then somebody asked me the other day, “If you only had today what you have thanks for yesterday, what would you have?” Now there’s something about which to think!

The word “Eucharist” itself means thanksgiving so perhaps today we would still celebrate Mass. We are of the custom saying grace so there would be food today. (Yeah!) That’s a great start. I remember feeling thankful for some things but can’t necessarily say that I formed a formal thank you in my thoughts. The cooler weather, that there was gas in my sister’s mower, that I was not stuck in the traffic jam going in the other direction as I was traveling down the highway. But did I actually express my gratitude? These things are boarder line and I believe God in His generosity would let these things count.

What did not even come to mind was my health, that I had a reliable car, drinking water and bathing water, electricity and things that run on electricity, money for luxuries such as dog food, people to wave to as I walk around the neighborhood, that I have freedom, rights, protection, that I can see, hear, smell, taste, and feel, that I have blog and people like you to read them – I take that one back – I offer a prayer for my readers and my parish every day.

Interesting thought – What would you have today if you only had what you gave thanks for yesterday? I ties in nicely with another quote: “No one can be truly sad and truly thankful at the same time.”

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


In this past Sunday’s Cleveland Plain Dealer there was a huge brouhaha over whether women should become priests. There are some points in this debate that might be worth discussing but unfortunately none of these were brought up. Unhelpful arguments arose but it gives us a chance to look at common assumptions and misleading arguments might be addressed by the thinking Catholic.

Mr. Craig Miller wrote in his letter what he believes is “the hallmark of an enlightened society” and then beat up the Church for not agreeing with him. “Diversity of opinion” is the pinnacle of enlightenment for him. I would disagree somewhat. Diversity is great and should be celebrated when appropriate. If Fr. Pfeiffer thinks that the common room should be blue instead of the wonderful green color that I (and all truly enlightened people) think it should be; so be it. Let Diversity reign! But when it comes to 2 + 2 diversity of opinion becomes foolish.  Diversity in and of itself is not necessarily a good.  Besides, if he completely agreed with his own argument, he might have not written at all.  He would have looked at the argument against women priests and said, "Well that's his opinion and must be true for him.  I hold his opinion as valuable as mine."

Now, according to Mr. Miller’s enlightened society we should put everything in the Church up for grabs for personal interpretation. That is simply not who we are. We believe that there is truth and we are all asked to give assent to it. Blessed John Paul brought the discussion of women priests to an end because we were spending so much time and resources on talking about something that Catholics will not change while other things that need LOTS of time and attention were left orphaned.

Mr. Miller further states that there were no Catholic priests during Christ’s lifetime and therefore no definitive statement by Christ was made. Not exactly true but an interesting argument. Actually it was sometime after Christ that the term “Catholic” was coined. But He did hand over the keys, gave directions for celebrating the sacraments, breathed on them (very important) and then sealed them with the Holy Spirit. Tradition holds this as the beginning of the priesthood. If you want to say otherwise, you have to come with a theory as to why Christ did all these things to the Apostles. Unfortunately you have the weight of Sacred Tradition with which to contend.

He also makes the startling statement that Jesus Himself was not a Catholic and that He was in fact Jewish. Interesting. But it is about as interesting as saying that St. Francis was not a Franciscan because they did not give his order that name until after his death. Jesus was CLEARLY moving somewhere and doing something new.

Mr. Miller also makes the claim that since his adversary opined that “since Jesus did not ordain women then we cannot” similar logic means since Jesus did not sire children neither should Catholics. Actually I like this bit of reasoning. It is an interesting point. But it falls short. Jesus (and, in fact God from the beginning) supported and taught about marriage and being fruitful even raising it to the level of a sacrament. We changed nothing. Because Jesus could not bear children in His own womb does not mean that women cannot do it. But part of the Church’s teaching is that Jesus could have easily and freely chosen to ordain otherwise and was in fact quite countercultural in such things but chose not to and did not teach otherwise.

Finally, and most sadly of all, he states that we should have more of an open mind on Catholic doctrine because, after all, ideas such as the Immaculate Conception and Transubstantiation have no foundation in Scripture. Here we have another case of someone stating as fact something that is in fact not true (and I wonder how many people eat it up without doing one lick of research.) Now it may be true that there are different legitimate ways of understanding something like transubstantiation but not the point it is trying to get across – namely that the bread and wine has ceased to exist and it its place is the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. That is not open to opinion in Catholic circles. And this is in fact what we find in John 6.

I take what I said in the last paragraph back. Here is the finally: He makes the unreasonable comment so common even among intellectuals that there is something horrible about something simply because it comes to us from another century. “13th century dogma” he reports, is stagnant and repressive. Really? Why? If there is “truth” it is true in the 1st century, the 10th century, and the 21st century. As Chesterton puts it, saying that something is not worthy of attention because it comes from, say, the Middle Ages is like saying that it is not worthy of belief because that is what we believed on Tuesday and after all now it is Wednesday. If it is true, it is as true in April as it is in May. Time alone is no indication whatsoever that anything is good or bad.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “Catholic doctrine and discipline may be walls; but they are walls of a playground.” from G. K. Chersterton’s “Orthodoxy”

QUOTE II: “How can we say that the Church wishes to bring us back into the Dark Ages? The Church was the only thing that every brought us out of them.” ibid.

The Saint Sebastian Chesterton Club finished “Orthodoxy” this past weekend so we are starting a new endeavor. If you wish to join us click on the picture of Chesterton at the side of this blog.


Karen sent this virtual tour of the Vatican Necropolis for you to enjoy. Thanks Karen!

Sr. Brigid of the Sisters of Life asked that this letter be forwarded on to you.  It should have been printed last week but alas I was in New York:

Dear Friends,

18 days until the beginning of World Youth Day in Madrid (WYD is actually 6 days)!

We would like to keep you connected to this massive evangelization event for the world's youth and to ask for your prayers in support of our efforts in Madrid. We will be sending 47 Sisters of Life to staff the Love and Life Centre, the largest English speaking Site at WYD, located at the Palacio de Deportes, a sports arena in central Madrid. The Knights of Columbus will be co-hosting the Site with us. In addition, we have a wonderful group of co-sponsors. You can check out the full schedule of events that will be occurring at our Site at: Please spread the word to any groups or individuals you know that are attending WYD.

For those who are not traveling to Madrid you can follow what is happening at our blog:

God Bless you,
Sr. Mary Elizabeth

Russ sent this video in.  You won't hear this at St. Sebastian - though the plugs might help raise money for some of our projects.  I cannot decide if this is hysterical (part of the fun of being Catholic is knowing the difference between an indelicacy and an indecency) or if it is abhorent.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


From the case book of the Almost Excrusiatingly True Stories comes the story of the last staff outing.  This summer we rented a pontoon boat for three hours.
Someone said that it might be fun to go swimming off of the boat and unfortunately the man renting us the boat overheard.

Well, we took that with a grain of salt.  (Very unCatholic like) and prepared to venture out thinking that somebody among us would know how to sail a pontoon boat.  Right?  I mean, how hard can it be?
It rather reminded me of last year.
Well, after the guy came out and started the thing for us we were off and sailing.  About an hour into it a couple people on staff started voicing their desire to go swimming.

So we all cannon balled into the water.  It looked like a reinactment of Pearl Harbor.

It was then that we realized the real reason the guy warned us not to go swimming off of the boat.

You know, the decks of those things are incredibly high and the pontoony things are REALLY slippery.

We had a staff meeting in the water trying to come with a plan to get on to the boat.  We might just hold on till we drift into shore and then climb on.  Or wait for a (lower to the water) passing boat.  We were really running out of options.  Finally one of the guys muscled his way up climbing the anchor rope.  We all then were able to be hoisted up and we made it back to shore just fine.
Next year:  ZIP LINING!