Friday, June 29, 2012


Continuing the discussion on naming your baby, Mrs. Fenner, who I otherwise highly respect, begins a rather lengthy discussion on certain names that should be avoided and some of it is a little sensitive for modern readers and we’ll skip those parts.  And once again, though this is from the book Amercian Catholic Ettiquette, I have little understanding what this has to do with Catholics in particular.

She abhors any name that makes a boy sound like a “sissy” if for no other reason that it makes growing up with such a name difficult.  She certainly would not approve of the Johnny Cash song, “A boy named Sue.”  Reginald and Percy are certainly not acceptable names for a boy in the United States though, “they are suitable for English boys.”  Perhaps Mrs. Fenner is not so found of the English.  I think the English perfectly respectable people.
When my first sister was born they thought it was going to be me (they would have to wait another 16 years) and my Dad wanted to name me Christopher because of a highly popular nickname at the time for this name was “Kit” that my Dad thought was of some snappy value for some reason.  I think both Mrs. Fenner and Monsignor Manners would not have approved.  Fortunately the nickname was out of fashion by 1965.

She has some concern for those with “common names” such as Smith or Baker.  “Pick a distinctive baptismal name,” she recommend “for the purposes of identification”.  I understand what she means.  My last name is fairly uncommon but my first, “John”, though a great and strong name, was very common growing up.  I had an uncle and a grandpa John, five classmates in grade school named John, and two of my five priestly classmates were named John.  Hence, I rarely, if ever, went or go by the name John.  If anyone ever calls me by the familiar “Father John,” you know that they do not know me well at all.  

One way to achieve distinction is to use the child’s mother’s maiden name as a middle name.  (Careful though, remember what I told you about Andrew Kernin last week.)  She does oppose it for Scottish and Irish families however.  “Who wants ‘J. McA. McS’ for initials?”  Back to the monogrammed bath towels dilemma.  Can you imagine the size of cufflinks one would have to wear?

Now: Syllables!  Like poetry, one must be careful with the number of syllables in your child’s name.  (I told you it was going to get harder.)  “Do not use three one syllable or three two syllable names for your child,” Mrs. Fenner suggests.  “There is nothing wrong with these names but when said together they sound like soldiers clumping along with heavy boots!”  Which may be exactly what you want when he is in trouble!  Imagine standing on your back porch and calling out, “John George Smith!  Get in here right now!”

“It is better to be trite than pretentious,” reports Mrs. Fenner, “but avoid both.”  She also recommends avoiding picking fashionable names.  Like good architecture, classical is always in fashion.  Fashionable always runs the high risk of dating oneself and eventually sounding trite.  “Bambie?  What an adorable name!  Let me guess when you were born.”

Then there is a the problem of too many of the same consonants or too many of the same vowel sounds.  She does not explain why but you can guess why a child with the name, “Lilly Loraine Little” might feel like the Littl’ ole’ Lady from Littl’ Italy.  I think my parents did quite well with “John Anthony Valencheck.”

That finishes up with the actual naming process, but there will be one more week concerning what to do with the name after it has been bestowed.  So go ahead, you may name your child now.  But wait one more week before you start using it.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Here is an excellent update for understanding what occured today with this health care initiative.  According to this article the religious freedom aspect has yet to be determined.  We may have to wait another year to find out how that will run its course.


Bareness is God’s playground.”

It is too early (Thursday morning) to have anything too intelligent to say on the HHS mandate ruling.  The full understanding is not yet known and conflicting reports keep coming in.  The exact nature of the ruling and the future for Catholics (and, in reality, the future of all people of faith) is not yet known and we wait with our collect breath held.

In any event, there is no cause for despair.  There is only room for hope.  If there is one thing we learn from Scriptures is that good things are about to happen when the worst is happening.  It is when all earthly hope seems lost that God finally steps in.  It must be that way otherwise we would always assume that this is the natural order of things.  But God steps in when time runs out, when usefulness is past, when all is lost, when the end seems to have come.  It is only then we can say as the Psalmist proclaimed, “If God had not been on our side . . .”

If it should turn out that this latest ruling is in conflict with our faith, that government mandates directly interfere with our relationship with God, have we not repeatedly seen even to this day that this is precisely when the Church unifies, rises up, becomes strong, and saint and martyrs are made?  Should this be the case there is only room for hope and sanctity which may require sacrifice.  It is a time to be thankful that we live in a time when we not only give God lip service, but have the opportunity to serve Him in a dramatic way.  Remember the reading of this morning, “Not everyone who cries out to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven but only those who do the will of my Father.”

Conversely, if people of faith do not have their religious freedom violated, we may be in a more difficult situation.  We may relax and think all is well.  It is not and it would be dangerous to think we may take a collective sigh and not worry and pray any longer.  The Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus said recently that “We can see clearly . . . an attempt to redefine religion in American society.”  At every turn there is pressure to minimize religion in society, to narrow the definition of a religious institution, to narrow what it means to be a minister, to narrow religious freedom to freedom of worship.  There have been many attempts to narrow the rights of churches such as when it pitted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the Lutheran Church.  The Catholic Church has had Government reduce, fully defund, and/or no longer make referrals to Catholic adoption centers and human trafficking ministries because of our religious nature even though we have repeatedly had far better (and less expensive) success rates.  Because of this we cannot afford to be satiated in a victory.

This may be the dawn of a new day.  And as we know, dawn only follows after the darkest hour.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


It may be that the HHS mandate is one of the best things that ever happened to the Catholic Church.  That is not to say that it is a good thing, but that it might end up having been a good experience for the Catholic Church.

This past Tuesday we had a holy hour for the Fortnight for Freedom to pray and learn about what religion in the United States is up against with the HHS mandate.  There was a favorable turnout, more than we had anticipated, and then Fr. Pfeiffer packed up all the stuff and we went on with the rest of our evening.

But the people who attended did not.  As it turns out a good number of them went to a coffee shop to continue the discussion.  (When was the last time Catholics spontaneously got together after Mass or a prayer service to talk more about the homily?)  One of the gentlemen with whom I spoke told of a feeling of camaraderie, unity, and the energy that one receives when bonded in a common cause with one’s brothers and sisters.  So as it turns out, history is rhyming once again.  Under persecution (and this is persecution under our Constitution) the Church unites and grows stronger.  Such as always been her history. 

When asked what he was going to do about the Catholic Church problem Napoleon is reported to have said, “You cannot destroy the Catholic Church.  The Catholic clergy have been trying to do it for over a century and a half and they are getting nowhere.”  This is a Church that has faced the cruelest governments and has always come out stronger for it.  But it has happened that the faith of a nation has, from time to time, almost died out.  One need just cast a furtive glance to France once known as the backbone of the Church to see that this is true.  In order for that to not happen here we must wake to the challenge.  The lion has been stuck with a stick.  He needs to wake up.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "There's a difference between you and God; God never thinks he's you."  Christ Stephanic

QUOTE II:  "Hindsight is a deceitful tool turning angels into villains and tigers into clowns."  Gentlemen and Players


Fr. Damian has a great article over at Dappled Things.  Check it out here.

From the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter:  "Last week the Catholic Bishops met for their Spring Meeting in Altanta, Georgia which began on Wednesday, June 13, and ended on Friday, June 15.  As one might well expect, the meeting was full of important issues that will impact our Catholic life both internally as a Church and also our place within the larger context of our country and the wider world."  Read more here.

Hopefully you are aware that we are in the middle of the Fortnight for Freedom.  To that end here is a pdf concerning 12 Things People Should Know About the Mandate.  And here is "Six More Things You Should Know."  Stay informed!

Want to know the Catholic Church in a glance?  Here is a good place to look.

We went to the University of Steubenville's Youth Conference a couple of weeks ago.  Here is this year's theme song. 5 Minutes.

Monday, June 25, 2012



Really - nothing all that interesting happened this week - well, anything that I can talk about.  Which is good as today is very busy.  So AA is taking a summer day off!

Fr. V

Friday, June 22, 2012


There is perhaps no topic so personal as naming your child.  Everybody has an opinion – even the Church.  Mrs. Fenner has much to say though some of her advice has become politically incorrect – which is exactly why most of it should be followed.

There is the general custom among Catholics that a child be named after a saint.  At least part of his name should be after a saint.  It is an ancient custom stretching back to the early Church.  It gives the child a patron, “a protector and intercessor in heaven,” as Mrs. Fenner states.  Though I doubt God leaves a child unprotected who does not sport such a name.  But why not take advantage of such an opportunity?
Mrs. Fenner points out that when choosing a saints name, know which saint you are choosing.  This is so true.  For a long time I thought I was named after St. John the Baptist but as it turns out I found a medal with an eagle on it that was placed around my neck when I was born so apparently I was named after St. John the Evangelist.

So you want to name your child after St. Francis or St. Therese; which one of the many Francises and Thereses is it?  What an opportunity, during those story telling years, to tell your child about the saint after whom he was named.  Bearing this in mind you might want to carefully review the stories before naming him or her.  There’s no point in naming a child after a saint who caused too much of a raucous and then having them, after hearing the saint’s story during their formative years, become just like them much to your consternation.  “You are just like St. George!  Always going around slaying dragons!”  “But Moooooooom . . .”

I remember the (probably apocryphal) story of the man converting to Christianity and on his way to being baptized was questioned by the priest about his name.  “That certainly is not a saint’s name,” said the priest.  “Not yet!” replied the man.

There is the sole spiritual criteria for naming a child.  But, “on the question of taste in selecting a name, one could write volumes!” reports our hostess.  And she did write volumes.  “Parents should give consideration to the fact that a name is perhaps one’s most intimate possession, and that its suitability, or lack of it, is believed to exercise a profound influence upon the child.”

“Care should be taken that no name is chosen which could be used to ridicule.”  No matter how hard you try this might not be avoided.  My next door neighbor hid his middle name from us for years and years.  It was Kernin.  Why he hated it so is hard to tell.  Perhaps because it was so different.  In any event he later became quite proud of it as it was his mother’s maiden name.  But at least we can try not to add gas to the fire.

Mrs. Fenner abhors names such as “Iva” or “Ima” particularly when combined with last names that are also common nouns such as “Coward” or “Post.”  “’Rose’ as a second name is sometimes awkward; one should remember that ‘rose’ is also a verb.”  Monsignor Manners likes the name Rose however.


We are warned to review the initials we may be giving a child.  Watch what they spell!  “Carol Ann Thomas is a sensible name, but any girl so named will be called a “C.A.T.” by her teasing friends.”  Actually that seems rather a lovely nickname to me.  I’ve known some CATs and they were sweet ladies.  Other words to be avoided however are W.O.W., and P.O.P. and so on.

I Googled, “Unfortunate Initials” and found a whole stash of angry people.  People with names like “ETC” and “BLT.”

Monsignor Manners suggests a further step.  (Think things are hard already?  We’ve not yet begun to make the process difficult!)  Remember when your son has cufflinks or your daughter has embroidered towels that the initials will be mixed up.  Who wants to have Ulysess Holden Grant’s guest bathroom towels say U.G.H. to you every time you use them?

Even worse, remember we are in the unfortunate age of texting which brings together a whole new set of unfortunate initials.  William Theodore Fredrickson will never live down his initials.

Of course whatever this have to do with Catholic specific manners slips past Monsignor other than the command by God to love others.  I think Mrs. Fenner simply had to get out her opinion on such things.  But you are sticking this kid with something that will last a lifetime so it is wise to choose well.  Remember, these are the people who will be picking out your nursing home. 

There is more to come next week to complicate matters even further so don’t settle on a name yet!

Thursday, June 21, 2012


I will admit that I get excited around nuns.  If I see a nun in the congregation I slip back into the sacristy and announce, "We have nuns today," with the same enthusiasm that some of our servers reserves for the bells of the ice cream truck.

This week we are being visited by two daughters of the parish who are both sisters to each other and sisters.  They also have another sister who is a sister but she is cloistered and was unable to join the reunion. 

They were gracious enough to take a little of their valuable vacation time to come over to the rectory for coffee and chat and then visit our Vacation Bible School.  It was very informative for me.  We have a couple of young ladies interested in religious life and I have no idea how to provide them or direct them toward those things for which they are looking.

The one sister who is a Nashville Dominican said that they are becoming a bit more specific about who joins them because they have to.  Their order is currently bursting at the seems.  "Such was not always the case," she told us.  After Vatican II they lost 40% of their sisters because of the direction they chose to take.  But the fruits are paying off now as we can see by their numbers and the work that they do.

"Your women can come make a retreat with us to explore religious life.  We understand that the are just inquiring and even if they think religious life is for them, we might not be the right fit.  We will give them direction of other places they might want to explore.  Nobody wants a vocation in the wrong place."  You can find out more about them here.

Her sister, who is a who is a Sacred Heart Sister (Franciscan) offered similar opportunities.  (These are the sisters that tended to John Paul II.)  But she also told us about the Visitation Sisters.  "They are for older women, widows, women with medical problems and the like."  If you thought you were no longer eligible for religious life, this might be the place for you!

Find out more about the Sacred Heart Sisters here.

Find out more about the Visitation Sisters here.

See the diocese of Cleveland vocations website here.

After that we went on a tour of our Vacation Bible School.  It was fun to see the look of awe on the children's faces as the sisters spoke to them about being a bride of Christ "and living with Jesus in our chapel."  What a wonderful witness.

Thank you sisters everywhere for all that you do!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


While talking on the phone with my sister,I looked over at my bookcase and noticed a piece of paper hanging down from a behind a shelf.  I pulled it out and found a letter written to myself while I was on retreat a month or two before ordination.  It was to be read on my 10th anniversary which I did and when I moved here must have thrown it behind a set of books to be read when I moved next. 

It was re-read it last night.  So I thought I’d share with you passages from that letter from my 14 years younger self.

It was March of 1998 and according to the letter it was a remarkably warm and snowless winter save for the day the letter was penned, for the grounds of the Jesuit Retreat Center was under several inches of snow.  “I am confident that I am willing and quite content in offering myself for service to the Church,” I wrote to myself, “What a freedom that is.”

“Here is some advice from your junior,” the letter went on, “and if it is idealistic, I apologize.  Don’t be afraid to ask God for anything and always. . . Ask Mary to guard you in your steps and never let a sun pass without imploring her aid through the beads.”

“Be passionate!  At least be passionate about something!  The Church needs no dull persons in times like these.  Be someone people can follow.  You won’t please everyone but you did not become a priest to be liked.  So charge ahead!  Create a vision . . .”

“Remember the arts both for personal growth and for the betterment of the Body of Christ. . . We need the true, the good, AND the beautiful to be effective servants of the Lord.”

“Don’t slack off on your preaching.  Be dangerous.”  This was in reference to one of my favorite preachers in the seminary.  He walked close to the edge and so kept everybody’s attention.  “What is he going to say?” ran through everybody’s mind and so we paid attention and talked about it after.  But he always stayed squarely on the Catholic playing field.  “Be challenging!  Be interesting!  Be merciful! . . . This is one of the reasons you became a priest.  Don’t give in to the mediocre.”

There are a couple of pages that are probably best not made public which ends with this, “30 year olds do not need construction paper projects!  Give them meat to satisfy their longings.  True, one does not get to heaven by knowing more, but ignorance can make it easy to fall away unawares.”
After a bit more personal advice, some issues that were very important in the seminary were brought up and asked if they were still burning hot questions such as inclusive language, women priests, liturgy, and trends in vestments and architecture.

Finally there were some guesses as to where I would be in ten years from 1998.  “You should be finishing up your second five year assignment as a parochial vicar.”  In fact, my first assignment was seven years and my second three, so all in all, pretty close.  I guessed that because of the priest shortage that there was a good chance that I would become a pastor, which I did, but thought it would be in a small ethnic parish in the city, meaning Cleveland.  Instead I have the joy of being the pastor of what I believe to be the finest parish in the diocese in Akron – at least for my temperament.  Every day I thank God that I am at St. Sebastian.

In my letter I assumed my legs would always rest under the same dining room table for the rest of my life – or most of it – once I became a pastor since we had permanent pastorates.  Since then we have moved to term limits and exactly what that means remains to be seen since nobody has gone all six years yet.

“You’re probably completely bald by now.”  Close.

“You became an addict and then sworn off computers.”  Not quite.

“I’m sure you’ve been in and out of a couple tough scrapes, but all is well and you are, for the most part, blessed and happy.”
Truer words could not be written.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are the rain upon the blinding dust of earth overlying our hearts."  from Charles Dicken's, "Great Expectations"

QUOTE II: "There is a very fine line between "hobby" and mental illness."  Anon.


Want to watch Daily Mass streamed on your computer?  Go here.

Want to read the daily readings?  Go here.

Want the documents of Vatican II? Go here.

Want a Catholic dictionary?  Go here.

Here are some neat pictures of St. Sebastian taken by R. S.
From the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter:  "The Diocesan Vocation Office welcomes the Catholic community to participate in an evening prayer, song, and praise including Eucharistic Adoration on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 and again on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 from 7:00 - 9:30 p.m. in the Sacred Heart Chapel on the campus of the Center for Pastoral Leadership, 28700 Euclid Avenue, Wickliffe, Ohio."  Read more here.
From the same source: "On April 12, the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a document, "Our First, Most Cherished Liberty," outlining the bishops' concerns over threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad. The bishops called for a "Fortnight for Freedom," a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21 - July 4."  Read more here.

I thought I saw all the "Flash Mob" videos that I wanted to see - but I really liked this four minute one!
POWERFUL Flash Mob Performs the Beautiful Opera Carmina Burana from sharethemessage on GodTube.

Monday, June 18, 2012


This past weekend I went with our high school youth group to the Franciscan University of Steubenville's youth conference.  I woke up Friday morning and gave myself PLENTY of time to get ready.  To have some leisurely time to put things together and puts around the rectory getting things in order when I realized . . .

I could not find it anywhere.  I went through the whole house, offices, and garage.  Nothing, nothing, nothing.  I borrowed our youth minister's phone started walking about calling myself hoping that I could hear a ring.  Still no sign.  So I start thinking back, "When was the last time I remember having my phone?"  We had a very small bon-fire/meeting at the rectory late on Thursday night and those to be at the meeting texted and said they were on their way.

The phone was nowhere around where we had the fire.  But I remember having the phone in my shirt pocket (or so I thought I remembered) and perhaps when we walked Sebastian it fell out of my pocket when I stopped to pick up his . . . you know.

So the kids, by this time waiting for ME to get going to Steubenville, spread out in in the field looking for my phone.
I took one last trip to the rectory and heard my phone coming out of the garage behind a trash can.  Fortunately my youth director kept calling and calling.  I must have placed the phone in the cup holder of a collapsible chair, folded it up, put it in the carrying bag, and threw it behind the trash cans in the garage.  THANK YOU ST. ANTHONY.

After that fiasco we were on our way.  We get there and drop off our kids at the university.  Then I went to a hotel.  I love kids, I love the retreat, but I am a recluse by nature and need desperately some alone time and so indulge in this little extravagance.  Unfortunately the university is high on a hill and the hotel is at the bottom.  It didn't seem too bad the first day.

By the third day the lack of sleep and blistering heat made the climb seem a hundred times worse. 

There was time for fun and games.  Nice, calm, relaxing games like frisbee.  "Wanna play frisbee?" the kids ask.  "Sure.  Sounds like fun."  Until you realize they mean tackle frisbee.
Most if time priests are hearing confessions in the university chapel - about 8 hours on Saturday alone.  At the end of the weekend they estimated that we had heard about 900 confessions!

We got home about 3:00 on Sunday (aka Father's Day.)  Having had very little sleep I struggled staying awake until an appropriately late hour so that I wouldn't wake up at 1:00AM unable to fall asleep again. 

One of the things I thought to do was grill up a steak that had been sitting in the freezer for 6 months for myself to celebrate Father's Day and keep myself awake.  So I started setting things up on the loggia when I realized I had locked myself out of the rectory.

I eventually got in and was able to start grilling.  Unfortunately I fell asleep.
Fortunately we had left over hamburgers also in the freezer.  They were good and Sebastian enjoyed his burnt steak bone.

The weekend was finally over.  It was exhausting but so very worth it.  I just wish there had been a break between that and the Pandomania Bible Camp that started this morning. . .

Friday, June 15, 2012


Here is an example where understanding proper manners helps keep us away from uncomfortable situations which moderns often point out after a moment of silence by a lone person saying “Awk – ward.” 

Mrs. Fenner states rather broadly that, “Among Protestants an invitation to be a godparent is an honor that must be accepted.  A refusal is socially impossible.  Among Catholics this is not true.”  That is because of the promises that are assumed of the Catholic godparent.  This is not an honorary role but one with significant responsibilities.  It will assume that you are leading an upright Catholic life, attending the sacraments, are a person of prayer, and will help, in any way that you can, the young person to grow closer to Christ in the Church throughout his life.  One is not chosen because, “Mikey is the youngest brother and the only one that nobody has asked yet.  It would mean so much to him – once he gets out of jail for that terrorist bombing incident.”

Again quoting Mrs. Fenner, “If parents are themselves good Catholics who do their duty toward their child, the sponsor’s obligation is a slight one.  But one can never depend upon its being so.  The parents may fall away from their Faith.  They may die (oh dear) and the child’s upbringing be entrusted to non-Catholics, or they may hold their responsibilities too lightly.”  In cases such as these, the godparent, “must assert his rights and perform his duties as the spiritual parent of the child.”  If for any reason a person realizes that he is not up to this responsibility of becoming a godparent, he should decline the role and parents should gracefully accept the answer kindly and without asking those questions that would give them the opportunity to say “Oh, but we don’t care that you are having doubts about God’s existence!  You are a good person.  We want you to be godparent anyway!  By the way, what a nice crystal you are wearing.”  What a noble thing it is for someone to decline for the spiritual welfare of your child and that should be accepted.

It behooves parents to know who may and who may not be a godparent and what is expected of them before asking somebody to be a godparent.  It puts everyone in a foul and festering mood when the priest has to say, “I’m sorry, but that is an impossibility for that person to be a godparent (hence one of the reasons for the class mention last week.)

There is to be a godparent.  If there are two, one must be male and the other female.  There is no fudging on this.  They must be fully initiated and practicing Catholics.  They must obtain a sponsor certificate from the parish at which they are a member that they are supposedly supporting and are well known enough that the priest feels comfortable saying that he recommends them.  All of this because the godparent is welcoming them and guiding them into a way of living.  The godparent cannot be the mother or father of the child – you already have a job.

“But I already asked my brother Mike and his husband George, a Unitarian universalist, and their 5 year old child Feebee to all be godparents!  You have to let us do this Father!”  Fortunately for Father he does not have to refuse the parents demand.  It is no more in his power to grant this permission than it would be to give them permission to paint graffiti on the White House.  He will merely state, “I am sorry, there is nothing I can do.”  Having the rules in mind before asking can save worlds of hurt between family members, friends, and between the general public and the Church.

I thought there would be enough time and space to get into “Naming the Baby” but the topic is just too precious and long to tag onto the above.  So we will hit that next week.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Here is the story of another chalice.  It comes from a reader of AA who often sends remarks outside of the comment box.  I asked this person if I could share this story with you.

As things turn out she has a chalice in her possession.  “In case you are wondering what I am doing with a chalice,” she wrote, “so am I!”  As things turned out her aunt had married a Roman Catholic priest.  Of course such events are usually met with a suspension of priestly faculties and a release from the vow of celibacy so that he could marry.  His chalice, however, remained with him and sat on the mantelpiece.  It had served for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for five years prior to its stepping down from use in liturgical duties.

The chalice itself is interesting.  It was made by Hal Schremmer at the begging of his career.  Schremmer, a silversmith, also made a cross for the high altar of St. Peter’s Basilica. 

When the writer went to the funeral of her uncle the chalice became a topic of discussion and it was decided that it should be returned for use in the church, hopefully by a seminarian who would need a chalice.  The sticking point was the cross which contained family diamonds.  The cross was removed and replaced though the new cross was of somewhat less artistic value since the level of skill by the silversmith did not meet that of Schremmer.

A seminarian was found who was in need of a chalice.  A resident seminarian visiting from Africa, a transitional deacon, was returning home soon to be ordained a priest and would have to provide himself with all that was necessary for a priest to have.  He was unsure how he would accomplish this when news of this chalice made itself known.  So, from use at Mass, to mantelpiece, to the other side of the world this chalice traveled because somebody thought it was important to put a consecrated item back into use in the church.
These things come by St. Sebastian now and then.  Just recently somebody gave me a processional cross when I was walking Sebastian past a yard sale.  If you have such items, particularly those things used for the celebration of the Mass sitting around as show pieces, consider returning them for use in the Church or missions.  I’ll grant you it may be difficult if your pastor is particular (Ew!  We don’t want THAT here) but your chancery may know of places in great need.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Chalices often have strange lives.  Alienated from their work by any number of means (which we will see today and tomorrow) and having some artistic value they may travel around a bit taking a sort of vacation until ending back up working for the Church again (hopefully.)

Today’s story concerns a very ornate pontifical chalice a little over a foot in height, Egyptian revival with tulip cup and sporting the instruments of Jesus’ passion.  It is currently housed in a local monastery and came to reside there after being purchased at a yard sale.  As best as can be figured out at the moment, this is how that came to be:

It is thought that this chalice began its life at a Dominican monastery.  In 1810 one of their own, Richard Luke Concanen OP was made bishop of New York.  His fellow Dominicans were so thrilled that one of their own was thus named they gave him this chalice.  Unfortunately Bishop Concanen died without the chalice ever making it to New York.

Adding further misfortune to the story, it was at this time that Napoleon was nationalizing the Church.  After Bishop Concanen died, soldiers raided his home and made off with the chalice and so for a spell it left the hands of the Church.

One of Cleveland’s Bishops, Bishop Horstmann, was known to travel to Europe going to sales and buying up whatever ecclesiastical treasures he could find.  Perhaps he picked up this chalice.  When soldiers raided Concanen’s things, perhaps this chalice fell into their hands and was later sold on the market.  In any event, the Dominicans were apparently upset that when things were returned to the Church that this chalice was not among the items returned.

Then dies Bishop Hortsmann.  His estate is divided up and perhaps his family sold the chalice causing it to go on another holiday until it ends up at a yard sale on Cleveland’s west side.  A man buys it there and wishing it to return to the Church gives it to another religious order.

A monk noting the Biumi family coat of arms (a family loyal to Napoleon) on the bottom and the initials RLC on the bottom did some research and put this story together.  It does not mean that it is an accurate story and readers are invited to speculate, but as my history professor used to say, “If it isn’t true, it should be.”

Monday, June 11, 2012


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "I object to a quarrel because it always interrupts an argument."  From G. K. Chesterton's "Magic"

QUOTE II: "Does it ever strike you that doubt can be a madness, as well as faith?  That asking questions may be a disease, as well as proclaiming doctrines?  You talk of religious mania!  Is there no such things as irreligious mania?"  Same source.


At the last Chesterton Society meeting we had a dramatic reading of G. K. Chesterton's play, "Magic; A Fantastic Comedy."  I think it went quite splendidly myself.  I was not typecast into the part of the Reverend Cyril Smith but was able to play the expansive character The Duke who Chesterton described as, "though an ass, is a gentleman."

Not only was there a member's birthday, we also found ourselves quite nearly equal distance from the anniversary dates of Chesterton's birth into the this world and into the next.  So Barbara had this cupcakes made up for the occasion.  You can just make out C. K.'s glasses and cape.

If you get the chance, check out the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop's website to see what is going on with the HHS mandates and what you can learn and do to help.

M.D. sent his neat photo in of a balloon rosary.

This was sent in: Bishop Leanord Blair wrote this article stating, "When you are in a position of leadership or authority, it is a great cross sometimes to know firsthand the actual facts of a situation and then have to listen to all the distortions and misrepresentation of the facts that are made in the public domain. Having conducted the doctrinal assessment of the entity known as the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), I can only marvel at what is now being said, both within and outside the Church, regarding the process and the recent steps taken by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) to remedy significant and longstanding doctrinal problems connected with the activities and programs of the LCWR:  Read his article here.

From the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter: "The bishops of the United States believe our religious liberties are threatened by the Federal Health and Human Services mandate requiring religious institutions to offer and pay for health services which are contrary to our teachings. It is my hope that you will support efforts to educate and encourage each other to advocate for change. "  Read more here.

You will have to go to this site to see this week's video.  Don Matis is a parishioner of St. Sebastian Parish and an artist known as the "human paintbrush."  There is a short documentary at the site about him.