Tuesday, April 30, 2013


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Every journey toward something is a journey away from something and sometimes it's just as important to know what you're journeying away from as it is to know what you're journeying toward."  Matthew Kelly

QUOTE II: "The explorer who will not come back or send his ship back to tell his tale is not an explorer but an adventurer -  and his sons are born in exile."  from Ursula Le Guin's "The Dispossessed"


Mary sent some links in.  The first is an article about the dramatic restoration of a parish church.  See the article here.  For more information and pictures go here.  The articles really caught my attention because where it said "Omaha parish" I kept reading, "Obama parish."  HA!

Also from Mary"  "Where beauty and truth meet to transform culture" is the tag line of the site MYSTERIUM.  Go here.  For a taste of it go here for a free audio sample.  Thanks!

Is porn really harmless?  Not so.  This video was sent in by Fr. Ference:

From the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter:  "On October 11, 2011 Pope Benedict XVI issued a Motu Proprio Porta Fidei calling Catholics to a Year of Faith from October 11, 2012 to the Feast of Christ the King, November 24, 2013. His mission was that Catholics would focus on deepening their Faith so that their daily lives would reflect their relationship with Jesus Christ."  Read more here.
Back when we didn't think so much about wasting paper the diocese would send a memorandum out to all of the parishes and offices of the diocese to keep everybody informed of what was going on around the diocese.  Now they send it electronically.  If you are curious as to what is in it, go here.

Sunday, April 28, 2013


On Friday I woke up and thought about how close we were getting to June when Fr. Pfeiffer will be moving on to his next assignment.  We have been working so hard lately that we haven't been able to spend much time together.
So I decided that we were taking part of the day off.
Of course the first half hour of our day off was wasted with the conversation, "So what do you want to do?"  "I don't know.  What do you want to do?"  So we finally settled on a bike ride on the Tow Path.

But we wasted another 15 minutes discussing the merits of heading north or south.  Finally we flipped a coin.  North won.
The idea was to take a good long ride, get lunch, and then take the train home.  This would get us back well enough in time for our late afternoon appointments.
So we rode and rode even though our legs ached as well as the "beginning of the season on a very hard seat" problem that occurs every spring.
Secretly I wished that Fr. Pf would give in and say he wanted to stop absolutely.  But he never did so I kept pushing us on.

Actually I was going to be good and have a very healthy lunch but there was a mix up in the kitchen and in addition to my healthy lunch, they brought us an extra greasy, extra heavy lunch at no charge!  So we had twice as much to eat as we anticipated. 
Now it was getting late so it was time to get to the train station.
But of course, you saw that coming didn't you?

Yes, I missed an appointment.

Yes, it was my fault.

Yes, we practically crawled into the rectory.

Yes, I would do it again in a heart beat.

Friday, April 26, 2013


(Continuing Lumen Gentium paragraphs 15 -17)
I think far too many people think God plays the “Gotcha” game.  There are a certain amount of things that you must know, a few things that you should have done, and if you don’t do them God sifts through your life at the end and almost rejoices in saying, “Gotcha!  Oh!  You almost made it into heaven.  But you never got around to learning about the Communion of Saints and so I have to shut you out of glory for all of eternity.  Too bad!  You were so close”
But God does not play Gotcha.  He is all merciful.  We are responsible for that about which we know.  But concerning things about which we were completely clueless, God does not still hold us accountable if not knowing is not our fault.


So what does that mean for Catholics, non-Catholic Christians, and non-Christians?  For Catholics, baptism is the door through which all of God’s graces are opened to us.  Like the door in the Twilight Zone, a whole new reality is opened before us.  God gave us the Church and the sacraments as the normative way into heaven.  If we know this to be true and ignore it, we place ourselves off the path to eternity, for we have also rejected Christ.  But that is not all.  It is not good enough simply to belong to the Church, we must also do our best to live the life taught by Christ.  This makes sense does it not?  God provides a way to heaven and knowing that it is the way to heaven, we either choose it or reject it.  Not that earn heaven thereby.  It is free gift.  But we either accept or reject it.
But what if you do not know these things to be true?  In Scripture Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Nobody comes to the Father except through me.”  Pretty strong declaration there.  But what if I am a good Muslim, or Buddhist, or live in such a place where Christ is not even hear of?  Once again, God does not play Gotcha.  “Oh!  If only you had heard of my Son!  But you didn’t so too bad.”  There are those who believe this.  The Catholic Church is not among them.  “Those, who through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart . . . may achieve salvation.”  (16)
In other words, you are responsible for that which you know.  For those who do not know, God Who so powerfully works through the sacraments can work outside of His own sacramental system and bring people to Himself.  But though they may believe otherwise it is always through the merits of His Son.  For those who know truth, we are responsible for living it.  For those who know and reject for reasons they see as a good (my girlfriend is Mormon and so even though I know the teaching of Jesus otherwise, for the good of my family I will stop practicing the faith) at that point they are running the great risk of putting themselves outside of God’s plan.
Thus all who are saved pass to the Father through the Son.  And for as much as we know to be true, we are responsible. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013


I enjoy the English language and though I do not a profess to be an expert in the language, I do enjoy proper English when I hear it and like to make a game of improving my language (though I am FAR from perfect.  Many of you like to point out my foibles and I enjoy that.)  Further, poor speaking habits, in particular, are like sins.  You get rid of one just to discover another.  Or perhaps you had a habit to which you were blind.  Or an old one comes back after you start hanging around someone who led you down the garden path in the first place.
“Yeah,” is a word that is a perpetual dandy lion in my garden of words that seems to come back seasonally.  “Are you the one who left the milk out all night?”  (With a certain amount of shame and humility and a heavy sigh,) “Yeah, it was me.”
This year’s project was to stop using the word “good” when I mean “well.”  Most people don’t care I realize, but I find the project fun.  I’ve enlisted many of the students in school to help me with this project.  Every once in a while I’ll slip after being asked how I am and upon replying “good” one of them (usually a server in the sacristy just before Mass) will say, “I know you’re good.  God made you good.  I asked you how you are today.”  I’ll admit it is difficult to say thank you when they dish back to me exactly what I dished out to them.


The new word I am trying to tame is “actually.”  Actually, “actually” is not a bad word save that it is used a tad too much in my speech.  Actually, I use it a lot.  Actually it is like when my Dad quit smoking and became hypersensitive to others smoking, I notice a lot of people around here use actually a lot.  Actually, Fr. Pfeiffer is joining me in trying to cut back on this drug of a word.
Actually, trying to root out words and correcting grammar is a lot like weeding sin out of your life.  The first step is to become aware.  “Oh, I do that?”  That is why to be a Catholic requires some amount of quiet and contemplation, reflection and examination.  It is one of the reasons that a daily examination of conscience is so important.  There needs to be the desire to rid yourself of this thing.  (Contrition.)  And most likely it won’t be instantaneous.  After all, it may be something that has been cultivated in your life for years and still done by the people around you.  So you begin by noticing it.  “I did it again didn’t I?” and then imagining how it could have been done better.
The next step is keep narrowing that gap between performing the action and the catching of yourself in the act until the actions happen almost simultaneously.  At some point they switch places, almost tripping you up as the new way of doing things is being worked out in the moment, and then, finally, with grace a perseverance, the good becomes habit.
Yeah, this actually is the method that I recommend to people for most things.  It works pretty good actually.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


This too shall pass.

Though used by medieval Persian poets before her, in Jewish folklore, and Abraham Lincoln before her, this is one of the pearls of wisdom my mother instilled in me.  Although the same holds true for good times, she usually drug out this handy phase when things were not going so well.  Feeling down in the dumps about a girl?  This too shall pass.  Experiencing troubles?  This too shall pass.  Acne?  This too shall pass.
The fact is, we exist in this world for a flash of time as absurdly as a May Fly that lives for a day and dies.  Our trials will pass; our joys will pass; and ultimately we will pass.  Are you depressed about this?  That, too, shall pass one way or the other.
But right there is the joy of being a Christian.  It doesn’t matter.  We weren’t made for this world.  And when things are going well we have someone to thank and be joyful with.  When things are bad, we have someone to cry out to for help (or be angry at.)  When we need hope we have someone to Whom to look, when we are a lone we have someone to call upon, when things seem to be meaningless, we have Him to look to give even the most mundane aspects of our lives incredible and significant meaning.


If there is no God, I can only thank fate or luck, which is to say, there is consciousness to thank.  (Even if there is a person to thank, what luck they were there.)  When things are bad, there is nobody to blame but myself and no help to cry out to.  There is a gamble that things might get better, but there is no hope beyond luck, gumption, and surviving.  When life seems meaningless, it is because it is; we live, we die, and so will, ultimately, the world with nobody to remember it.  The only good in life is the pursuit of happiness which when pursued directly is not ultimately satisfactory.  (This is why you cannot joke with an atheist about death on his death bed.  There is nothing hopeful about it.)
I look at this gravestone from a local grave yard.  It is very interesting from a historical point of view.  The deceased did a lot of good and accomplished some amazing things.  If there is no God, I find this gravestone exceedingly sad.  Considering how old the universe is, in a flash this stone will disintegrate and not even the casual passerby with a camera walking his dog in the cemetery will ever even know he existed.  The only joy the man it describes experienced was the feeling of doing good with the thought that in the future someone might be happy because of his works.  He’s not even sure anybody will remember him.
But if there is a God, what incredible significance the information on the stone is!  Our efforts are not gas in the wind, but everlasting monuments even if this stone is not.  That our joy will echo in eternity.  That there is a consciousness, a Person, with Whom and in Whom we will know and celebrate after our time here is over and that these actions may lead others to share in this joy for which we were made.  Therefore picking up a used gum wrapper in the park is not a good deed that may or may not be noticed by anybody, but may stretch through eternity if it is done in love.
There are those that point to God as a crutch and a fantasy to get through the rough points of life.  I believe evidence points otherwise.  But even if it turns out to be false, having dealt with the dying who believe and of those who don’t, I would rather believe and be wrong than not believe and be right – to die in some amount of hope and joy rather than the heavy burden of passing into non-existence and meaninglessness. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "The state of art in the United States today is that we have three, forty thousand dollar cars in the garage and posters on our walls that cost nineteen ninety five plus tax."  A rough quotation from a conversation with Anthony Mastrometeo.
QUOTE II:  "When all is said and done we will be saved by the beautiful."  Fr. Benedict Groeschel
Bishop Lennon speaks about the Church and Muslims and Jews.  (Year of Faith Lecture Series)

I can't believe I never posted this.  Here is an event in Cleveland that Fr. Ference had a strong role in.  Read about it and see the video here.

C. K. sent this presentation in called the PILL PARADOX.  It is a great read.  Go here.  Thanks!

I know this is old and has nothing to do with this site accept that it makes you laugh.  Thanks Frank.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


I can tell I've been getting kind of grouchy lately.   Unfortunate now that we are in the Easter season.  This is a time for rejoicing.  The main culprit in this is the missing of my annual spiritual retreat which I normally take in January but missed this year.
But it was not missed for light reasons.  Unforeseen circumstances had made it impossible this year:
But that will change soon.  They've dried out all the mattresses and got the water out of the attic and will soon be opening their doors again and I will be there with bells on and wading boots.

Of course there are other factors as well.  It is unfortunate that Fr. Pfieffer and I get along and that he has been a good priest for St. Sebastian for his four years is up with us this June and he will be moving on.  This would be a lot easier if he had been an untalented jerk then I would be looking forward to summer.
Although I'd rather not have an untalented jerk around for four years just to make parting easier.  Then there is the whole stress of wondering who will fill Fr. Pfeiffer's collar when he is gone.  Will he be easy to live with?  Will he be a talented, dedicated, faithful worker in God's field?  Will he cook fish?  Can he stand my dog?  Does he have a good movie collection?
Of course I remember being a parochial vicar and wondering where I was going live when my assignment was up.  Will it be a good place that serves God and His people well?  Will the rectory smell like fish?  Will the pastor have a good movie collection?
The only thing to do now is wait like being patient until the next episode of your favorite TV serial comes out.  Right now we are waiting for the end of the season when everything that is vealed will be revealed.
*Wednesday simply being a guess. 

Tune in next time for the thrilling conclusion . . .

Friday, April 19, 2013


There are certain advertising gimmicks that make me uncomfortable.  A local hospital had a campaign in which it invited the community to “believe” in them; the word “believe” appearing all over their advertisements.  I don’t “believe in” my hospital, I trust, respect, and am thankful for my hospital, but I don’t “believe in” it other than my belief that it exists even when I am home and don’t physically see it.
Years ago Coca-Cola (for those who are old enough to remember the commercial - *ahem*) wanted to unite the world with the “real thing;” Coke.  This happy little product would unite all the peoples of mankind in “a home furnished with love.”  Really?  I mean, that’s nice and all, but will a sugar drink for which they charge an outrageous price and is a contributor to so much obesity and illness unite the world in perfect harmony?

Well, as it turns out, God wants in on this market too.  (Lumen Gentium 12)  God establishes His Church that we might believe in Him and to be home to gather all the peoples of the world into one body as the “new people of God.”  This is the meaning of the world Catholic.  It means “universal.”  This is a faith for all people, all times, and all places.  (Our local Catholic newspaper has the coolest name in the world, The Catholic Universe Bulletin – which could be understood as the universal universe.  LOL.  Take that Unitarian Universalists.)


But though it is open to all people, we are not called to be all the same.  All peoples, their resources, their customs, their abilities, “in so far as they are good” are embraced and fostered by the Church.  This is one of the reasons she is patroness of the arts, for example.  She takes the arts of all peoples and purifies them toward the good and holy.  We don’t all have to be Caravaggios, but we are all called to truth and beauty. 
So in this universal house, fed and nourished by the true “Real Thing,” is the dwelling of people who resemble those of every nation, custom, and race.  In this house are also people of every calling – in differenting duties – to help build up the body.  This weekend the Church celebrates the World Day of Prayer for Vocations.  “Vocation” does not simply mean priestly and religious vocations – but for those who have chosen marriage and those who have chosen to remain single for the glory of God and the benefit of their brothers and sisters.  And every one of these lifestyles need prayer.  And they are all dear and necessary to the life of the Church.
There are even different traditions within the Church that still point toward unity.  The Roman Catholic Church is not the only Catholic Church in the world.  There are also all of the Eastern Catholic Churches that are in union with pope.  We need not all practice the exact same way, but we do need to be in unity of belief.  To this unity, all people are called as the foundation of peace.  Radical Christianity does not involve bombs, it points toward radical peace, unity, and love.


It’s the Real Thing. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013


I hate announcements at Mass.


Okay, “hate” is a mighty strong word.


I dislike announcements at Mass with the white hot intensity of a thousand supernovas.


I felt this way as a lay person in the pew and continue to feel this way as a priest.
Now granted, sometimes they are necessary and relevant for the entire parish.  “Donuts are being served in the parish hall immediately following Mass” is an important announcement.  “It's June and the grass is growing” is not. 
When does one do announcements?  Before Mass when a) half of the people are not even there yet and b) this is when the rubrics of the Mass states that the church should be quiet?  Or how about before or immediately following the homily when it can completely destroy whatever point you are trying to get across.  “And that is the nature of gluttony and why it is so spiritually dangerous.  And now for the announcements.  The Men’s Club is having an all you can eat pancake breakfast next week in the hall.”  Or how about right after the Prayer after Communion?  You are in the home stretch, have your mind set on your move to the exit door, and then hear the dreaded words, “There are a few announcements” as the announcer drags out a phone book thick stack of papers.  As a priest you can see people’s eyes glaze over and at that point you know where the imagination of certain horror story writers got their idea for a deadly fog that turns a community of people into zombies.  More than two announcements of more than a sentence in length seems to be the lethal level.
Of course, announcements are not the only way we try to get messages across.  If you missed the Email, didn’t read the bulleting, did not receive the home mailer, did not notice the signs on the doors, haven’t had the chance to check out the website, nor remember that we do this every year, then announcements can be as important as they are potentially fatal.  (I didn’t say they were unnecessary at times, just painful – kind of like having teeth pulled.)

I am notorious for slashing announcements.  Entire paragraphs disappear with the sentence, “See bulletin for details.”  Sometimes it is said so often instead of reading all of the announcements we should just say, “If you promise to read the bulletin I won’t read it to you.”
I don’t know that there is a solution.  Maybe most people don’t care as much as I seem to think they do. 
Before I close, there are just a couple of announcements;
Tomorrow is Friday Potpourri and we will continue our discussion of Vatican II.  See bulletin for details.
This Saturday is the first Garden Crew clean up.  See bulletin for details.
Mustache combing class this Saturday.  See bulletin for details.
Reading the bulletin keeps you up to date.  See bulletin for details.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


I will admit to having a difficult time processing the events associated with the Boston Marathon tragedy.  It feels as though something will be revealed pointing toward the whole thing being a terrible mistake, but I know that this is not the case.


Equally confusing to me is the nation’s reaction to the bombing.  What does a government do that seems to be wanting to shuck all connection to religion do in the face of such tragedy?  Does its congress close its session with prayer?  Does its president thank priests for opening the doors of their parishes to those who are lost and confused in the affected area?  For that matter, does NPR interview the Episcopal bishop of Boston about the good work the local churches are doing in the wake of the bombing?  For that matter there are all kinds of public displays such as flags flying at half-mast and every event is being dedicated after a moment of prayer to the victims of the Boston bombings from Dancing with the Stars to professional baseball.  What are they doing?
If God is taken out of the picture, what do these gestures mean?  If we are simply pausing to remember, or to unite ourselves with the people gathered in Boston, it amounts to not much more than the rally cry, “Remember the Alamo!”  We will not forget because it will not happen again.  We won’t let it.  And part of that is not forgetting.  If there is no God it can result in little more (ultimately) than remembering to send help to those we like and wreak revenge on those we don’t. 
But of course, that is not why we ultimately do these things.  Not unanimously, but as a people we are reaching out.  And like the atheist who is in crisis when he is truly thankful and has nobody to thank, what do we do when we pretend not to be “one country under God” and we need somebody to whom we turn?  We could turn to a president, or an armed militia, or the police and cry out, “Save us!  Repay our enemies!  Bring us peace!”  (Is this how the Caesars became deified?)  But can they bring meaning to these events?  Can they bring hope?  When we need consolation, when we need pulled out of ourselves and our fears, when we need something to do, someone to whom we can turn, when we need someplace to go, we drag out God like a neglected parent that only gets a call when we need to borrow money.
Or it may be, that at our heart, we are still a nation that believes in God even when we don’t want to.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  This week's quotes are from the last St. Sebastian Chesterton Society meeting.  All are from the first half of GKC's Francis of Assisi

QUOTE I "To write history and hate Rome, both pagan and papal, is practically to hate nearly everything that has happened.  It comes very near to hating humanity on purely humanitarian grounds."
QUOTE II:  "The moment sex ceases to be a servant it becomes a tyrant."
QUOTE III: "He who has seen the whole world hanging on a hair of God's mercy has seen the truth; we might almost say the cold truth."
(And this month's winner) Rossetti makes the remarks somewhere, bitterly but with great truth, that the worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank."
Our friend Ellen sent this in:  "The BBC produced and broadcast a new 10 episode Fr. Brown series for its daytime television this year. It proved popular and they are filming 10 more episodes.  You can now watch them on YouTube! They are charming in their own way, but they have taken some liberties with the plots and characters; and it is set in the 1950's.  You'll want to check them out, anyway. Here is the link to "The flying stars".
Adam sent in another link to a great article entitled Ritual and Evidence of Eternity.  See it here.  Thanks.
Frank sent this in.  It has nothing to do with this site but it if you need a laugh.  Notice she does this in high heels.  6 minutes.  .

Monday, April 15, 2013


It is not lost on me that there are still those who think the priest sits around in the rectory all day without much to do.  Probably because there are priests who sit around all day in the rectory without much to do.  But that is by design.  The fact is that there is as much work to do as you are willing to do and then some.  Like a parent or a doctor or what have you, you can give everything that you have and there would still be more that you could do. 
Lately, particularly on the weekends, Fr. Pfeiffer and I have been helping out at various parishes in the area.  I think a lot of priests are away and recuperating from Easter.  So the phone has been ringing quite a bit lately from (sometimes not so close) parishes that need confession and Mass help and we have tried to be obliging. 
Sometimes people will ask me to say something to Fr. Pfieffer on the weekend and I will have to tell them that it may be some time before I see him as we keep passing each other in the driveway.  I finish Mass and take off to some place to say Mass as Fr. Pfeiffer is coming back from filling in elsewhere and running in to say the next Mass here.
It used to make me incredibly nervous to say a Mass at another place because things are always just a little bit different than that to which you have become accustomed.  I've learned over the years just to role with the punches but sometimes the punches come back to bite you - er - hit you.
For example, the mics that we wear at St. Sebastian have a little switch on them so that I can turn it off and on as necessary.  It is generally worn under my vesture so that it cannot be seen.  The way I remember if it is on or not at St. Sebastian is to feel the switch.  If it is toward the people, they can hear me.  If it is away from them, it is off.
Now I am slightly dyslexic (dyslexics untie!) and the switches were reversed at parish I was at recently leading to this incident:
Also, you just grow accustomed to moving in a certain way and when it is reversed at another parish things can go awry.

But such is life.  Even those embarrassing moments you learn to get over and most people don't notice anyway. 

But back to the priest's schedules at St. Sebastian the past few weekends - they have been rather hectic.  But I am glad people still want to see priests.  It was interesting however that we didn't see much of each other the past couple of weekends gallivanting around the diocese as we did until I got to the last set of confessions I had and got out of my car in the parking lot:

I remember you.  Fancy meeting you here.

Friday, April 12, 2013


(Continuing Lumen Gentium)
There is a lot of brouhaha in certain circles about the Church’s teaching concerning the infallibility of the pope.  It usually stems from a grave misunderstanding of this teaching as though if the pope should wake up today (Friday) and declare it to be Tuesday, we would have to accept it as fact.  Nay, nay.  (Neigh, neigh)
That being said he is not the only one endowed with this incredible gift.  As a matter of fact the pope’s ability to be infallible is partly based on your ability to believe infallibly.  Here’s how it works:
12.  The Body of Christ (of which you are in vital part) is anointed by Christ at the time of baptism.  One of the offices into which you were anointed is that of prophet.  In this, the body as a whole “cannot err in matters of belief.”  From bishop to the newest initiated person, the Church (as a whole) is also infallible when it comes to matters of faith and morals.


But suppose today we found a way to unite Catholics around the world to change a certain belief, say on same sex marriage.  Would that mean then that the teaching may change because of the infallibility of the body?  No, not when the entire body is taken into account in what G. K. Chesterton gave the moniker, “The Democracy of the Dead.”  All those who have gone before us, from Apostles, to early Church Fathers, to the saints, from the lowliest to loftiest of believers in every age have a say in what we believe.  Unlike most (all?) of the Protestant Churches which may take a vote today and change a long standing teaching, we have a history, a body, a great army of believers in heaving who have a vote and with whom we must reconcile.

Part of the ability of a pope speaking infallibly (which is an extremely rare thing indeed) is that whatever the teaching is he is proclaiming is accepted by the Church – both the Church of the ages (meaning it is in line with what is already held – it does not contradict) as well as the sensus fidei or sense of the people today.  Hence the pope did not just decide one day the dogmatic teaching on the Immaculate Conception – it went through much research, study, and prayer – the Catholic world was consulted, and then it was proclaimed and the sense of the faithful tested. 
That is part of the problem with getting the Catholic Church to change her teaching on what constitutes marriage.  Another Church can take a vote so that at least their branch in the United States has decided God doesn’t mind the change.  If the pope were to announce infallibly tomorrow that the teaching was changed, breaking with the Democracy of the Dead as well as the majority of Catholics in the world today – he could proclaim it all he wants, it would not be infallible.
To carry on His work God anoints all of us and gives us all a role in the sanctification of the world.  It is not just the work of the ordained through the sacraments, we all have a role and all of the roles are needed no matter if you happen to think it is lofty or lowly.  Either way they are all essential to God’s plan making all of them lofty.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


So a group of priests were talking about the Triduum services – from Maundy Thursday through the Easter Vigil.  One thing lamented was that there were not more people at these various celebrations.  (Apparently we were a bit better attended than many other parishes for these specific events.)  So the conversation turned naturally to what can be done to increase attendance.  Some of the suggestions were to adjust the times.  7:00PM was too late for Thursday, 3:00 is too early on Friday, and the Easter Vigil (in our diocese it was decreed that we have this Mass at 9:15) was too late.  All of the times should be adjusted in order to make them more convenience and therefor more attractive.
The Easter Vigil was critiqued for being too long which exacerbated the problem of it starting rather late.  Also Thursday and Friday were too penitential and Saturday was not celebratory (or relevant) enough.


“If we begin the Easter Vigil before it is night out will anybody go to hell?” was put forth.  Well, no.  At least not for that reason simply.  But then again, why do we do anything?  What if we didn’t make the Sign of the Cross with holy water in the way into church?  Would God consign the Church to hell for no longer doing this?  What if we bowed instead of genuflected before the Blessed Sacrament?  Will Divine Justice want us to suffer the eternal fires of hell for this?  What if the priest faced sideways instead of facing the same way or confronting the people?  None of these would bring on eternal damnation.  But we do these things just the same and sometimes it is damn inconvenient.  But people in love do things that are damn inconvenient, extravagant, and sometimes silly by a practical standpoint.
Granted that we do not want to put anything too taxing in the way of celebrating the mysteries of the faith.  Conversely we don’t want to make the practice of the faith trivial.  (If you have time and nothing else more important to you is happening, consider, maybe, coming to Mass.)  As one of the priests present (later) put it, “I don’t want it to be more convenient for those who were not there in order to make it so that they come and keep looking at their watches considering when they might escape.  Like Midnight Mass or Thanksgiving Day Mass, only those who really want to be there are there.”  All true love is sacrificial.  If you want assurances that you will be out in under an hour at a convenient time, come on Sunday. 
This is not to put down the Easter Sunday goers.  You are there!  Sad are those who cannot bother to celebrate and thank God with their brothers and sisters at all.  It is for this latter set that it seems we always want to make concessions to at least get them in the pew.  But how many concessions can one make before you have nothing grand to say? 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


To be quite honest, if every one of our students in our grade school went to Sunday Mass, we would have to add another Mass.  I know some go to a more convenient time – say a local Sunday night Mass which is often Life Teen or Teen Life Mass, I can never keep that straight – but even that does not account for the lack of our students in the pews.
We had our presbyteral district meeting (priests of the area) this past week and one of the topics of discussion (as it always is) is how do we get our parents of the day school to Mass?  No one had a legal solution.  But the question is, “Why do we want them there?”
Well, first of all our schools are Catholic schools.  There is nothing more important that we do than pass on the faith.  We are not public or private schools – but Catholic.  Our first job is about saving souls and creating Catholic ladies and gentlemen.  Mass is not just something that we do on the weekends, it is who we are.  Catholicism without Mass is like a birthday cake without the cake – there is nothing but a plate and a number of candles.

And although there are examples of Catholic grade schools that do not rely on subsidies from a parish, the typical model is that parents pay a good portion of what it costs to educate their child and the parish picks up the rest.  And where does this magical money come from?  The people sitting in the pews on Sunday.  A portion of every dollar that they put into the collection basket keeps the school going – pays for your child to receive a Catholic education.
And there’s the rub – especially with those who join the parish in order to get the parishioner discount (if such a think exists where you are) and then never participates in any meaningful way with that community that is sacrificing resources to educated their child – to not even to pray with them.  That is why “we go to Mass elsewhere” doesn’t cut it.  “Elsewhere” is not the community paying for the child’s education.  That is why “we give a lot of money to the parish for tuition” doesn’t cut it.  First it is not covering the cost of education and secondly Mass is the most important thing that we do – not give money.
Of course it is the ones who don’t come to Mass that seem to always be the focus of attention.  Rarely do we think to praise those who not only send their kid to the school and come to Mass, but add in so many other ways to the life of the parish.  God bless you all.
To those who don’t I can only say this:  Your grade school community believes in Catholic education, believes in your child, and so makes available the institution that feeds and nourishes his or her mind, body, and soul.  That community asks that you believe and support them also – particularly with your presence at Sunday Mass.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "You will find that you survive humiliation.  And that's an experience of incalculable value."  from T. S. Elliot's, "The Cocktail Party"

QUOTE II:  “A bruise is a lesson...and each lesson makes us better.”  from George R. R. Martin's, "A Game of Thrones"
My cousin sent me this link to a virtual tour of a beautiful wooden church in Polan that has survived both world wars.  Click here to see it and others.
This sent in my G. and S.:  Like the idea of NFP (Natural Family Planning) but find it difficult?  Worry no more!  The is now an app for your phone to help.  (Yes, I am serious.)  Want more information?  Go here.  Other information and materials available here.  Thank you guys.
They also sent in this GREAT 2 minute video.  If you are coming to Mass this coming weekend I may be stealing some of it.  See it here.  The video comes from the great site Catholics Come Home which you can find here.
Another two minute video was sent in by P.  Thank you!

Sorry there was no post yesterday.  A) It was a busy day and B) nothing funny that I could realy share happened!

Friday, April 5, 2013


 (Continuing Lumen Gentium)

Why are shows such as Game of Thrones (despite the acres of skin that is shows – really – I think I can get the point without so much detail – I’m a celibate, not dense) or Harry Potter so popular?  There is something about sacrificing for some greater good.  There is something about being born of noble birth or attaining a noble position.  To quote Shakespeare, “Some people are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”  (Twelfth Night.)  It is a great fantasy right?  The Church says it is not a fantasy but a reality.  It is just difficult to see in this life.
(Paragraph 11)  We (you) are incorporated into a kingly, prophetic, and priestly family through baptism.  In it you are reborn and are now sons and daughters of The King.  This life is brought into operation through the power of the sacraments and through the exercise of virtue.  And unlike many royal families, the object is not to insulate and protect ourselves from upstarts who want to infiltrate the family but to boldly go out and announce to others the story and how they may be a part of it.  Dissimilar from earthly royal families we do not gain strength and distinction from exclusivity but through a great invitation to all to go through the initiation and the living of the life of this “people set apart.”
Our greatest unity comes about when each of us, performing our own role, participate in the Eucharistic liturgy.  In Penance we reconcile this great family.  In the anointing of the sick we pray for healing and encourage our ill brothers and sisters to redemptive suffering.  Those with Holy Orders strengthen the family for their labors and married persons live out radically the unity that we are to achieve with each other, encouraging each other to holiness, and build up the body of the Church with their young.  With so many witnesses, so many different states, we are called to build each other up toward perfection as our Father is perfect.


(Wow.  What a paragraph.)

Thursday, April 4, 2013


I apologize in advance because I cannot back up with hard evidence that which I opine about below.  Someone once gave me a book about schools.  Specifically it compared Catholic schools to public schools and the book’s premise was to show how much better (in general) public schools are.  By the end of the book the authors found themselves in the opposite camp for a specific reason.  Unfortunately I loaned this book out and never got it back.  So unless you want my hearsay, stop reading.

The book talked about how public schools were to be the center of the community, with community support and input to make the teaching of the child a community event, directed by the community, and with ownership by the community.  Particularly in large populated areas this is no longer the case.  Children are amalgamated into larger and larger groups, often shipped quite a distance away from their neighborhood into areas that their families have no real tie.  A shift in mentality has occurred and it is this:  It is the government’s job to teach my child.  I send him or her to school and they come back to me improved.  My job is to pay my taxes.  This is an extreme view, one leaned more toward than actually embraced, but it gets the point across.
Enter the typical Catholic school (which is neither a public school nor a private school, but a parochial school.)  The school itself springs out of a gathered community.  The fact that it exists is by the charity of the people in the pew.  (In the typical parish the tuition you pay for your child if you are a member of the parish does not even come close to paying for the cost of educating your child.  Such is the case at St. Sebastian.  The parish subsidizes the children.)  Therefore, because parents are sacrificing to send their kids, because the community is sacrificing to keep the school open, they have more of a stake in how well the school is running.


The school, in turn, provides direct benefits to the life of the parish and community.  Just the active life of its own children so visible around the heart of the community is one such benefit.  There are those things that just add sparkle to the life of the parish such as having young servers available for daily Mass and funerals.  Good schools have community outreach and make the parish’s presence in the community livelier.  The daily increase of activity around the parish gives life and promotes itself.
That’s what works for us.  So it is with a word of caution that I call to mind Cardinal Dolan’s (a person I respect) plan for the future of Catholic schools.  In essence it is this: to make regional Catholic schools that serve a number of parishes.  There are many benefits to this.  The burden of cost to each of the parishes would be less.  Administrative worries would be greatly reduced.  Personnel resources would become less stressed in areas such as maintenance.  There could be a great pooling of resources.
But at what expense?  We would be following the same model as the public schools, taking children out of their neighborhood, moving administration further away from home, disconnecting the direct ties to a parish, alienating some of the life that a school gives directly to a parish, and making parishes compete for authority.  (You think working with one pastor is tough?  Try having 5 pastors with very different ideas try to decide at which parish the graduation will be at this year!)
I’m not saying that it wouldn’t work.  I have seen it work.  I have also seen it work poorly and fail.  But even in those cases where it does work, the direct benefit to the parish has been lessened.  I may be the way of the future due to finances – it is this or nothing – but I would just add great caution in jumping too quickly without accounting for these intangibles lest we end up like the public schools.