Tuesday, May 28, 2013


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Prayer can be painful.  Giving birth to new life can be painful."  Anthony DeMellow
FABLE:  "There was a rabbi who came to the conclusion that we just don't know.  As he was crossing the square, a Czarist policeman in a bad mood asked him, "Where are you going?"  Sticking to his new philosophy the rabbi answered, "I don't know."  "Yes you do," said the officer, "every morning you cross this way to say prayers at the synagogue.  I'm going to teach you a lesson and put you in jail!"  "You see?  I was right.  I didn't know where I was going."
From the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter:  "It's time to get out and enjoy summertime. Come and celebrate with faith communities across the Diocese of Cleveland at summer picnics and parish festivals."  Read more here.
"Liberate Yourself from E-slavery"  Mary sent this link to an article in.  Thanks!
Adam sent this video in.  It is absolutely beautiful.  Adam writes, "I thought you would appreciate this. Part is a Catholic. I learned about him in music history before I heard him, he's still alive and composing. Simply stunning. I would recommend a great stereo or some good headphones to listen to this with. Fantastic."  (5:45)

HEADS UP!  I will be away the rest of this week.  Will return to blogging next week.

Monday, May 27, 2013


This past Sunday after my homily, returning to the celebrant's chair, I led the people in the Creed.  "I believe. . ."  Many said it with some meaning but there were those who mumbled through it, stared at the ceiling, or simply did their best to live through it until it was over.  It was wonderful and we are so lucky!  This has not always been the case and in many parts of the world it is still not the case that reciting the Creed can be taken so blandly that we can be bored by it!  From Christ, to the Apostles, to St. Sebastian (our patron) to Christians in unfriendly countries this day, the Creed means the loss of life.  But because somebody died on a battle field and was not able to come home to become a veteran we can say, "I believe in one God . . ." in peace, freedom, and security.  I pray for you soldier and will continue to boldly live my faith - the privilege you gave me.

From the entire staff of Adam's Ale:
A happy, holy, and safe Memorial Day to you.

Friday, May 24, 2013


Lumen Gentium paragraphs 24 and 25


Walking in the park with Sebastian a conversation took place with a man from another faith also walking his dog.  We spoke about how, if they do not like their pastor, they can fire him and then the community can hire someone more to their liking and taste.  “The Catholic Church is not anything like that,” I replied.
“I know,” he said with some disapproval.
“The Catholic Church is less like a business that hires and fires its managers at the local branch when it sees fit and more like a family.  There is the popular cousin that everybody likes and wants to be around and the strange uncle that you put with because he is your uncle.  You can’t fire him out of the family.  And thus is the local parish too.  ‘Father’ is your spiritual father and you kind of learn to live with him like you learn to live with any member of your family.”
It is not much different with the local bishop.  In union with his fellow bishops and with successor of Peter, Vicar of Christ, he is charged with the care of his local family, the Church.  Like any parent he is less served and more servant.  Parents look as though they are in charge but they are really servants.  The provide a place to live, prepare food, make available clothing, teach and provide education, entertainment, protection, clean diapers, clothes, and rooms, chauffer, and any number of other services that are usually given to domestic help when means allow.  Just so is a bishop called to service to his family. 


As the local shepherd of the flock, we owe him some deference as a child owes it his parents.  And when it comes to faith and morals, we owe him obedience (unless, of course, he is morally and faithfully bankrupted.  He can’t order you to kill an abortionist for example.)  As an individual person a bishop is open to making errors.  Like any parent, he is not perfect and his office does not keep him from making mistakes.  However, when he acts in concert with the entire body of bishops and in union with the Supreme Pontiff, it is possible for him to speak infallibly as a body when it comes to faith and morals.
And there is that sticky infallibility again!  Nobody likes that idea much.  But it is not unheard of.  Even many of our Protestant brothers and sisters will claim that such figures as Joseph son of Jacob had the gift of infallibly interpreting dreams.  Even the man standing across the street from St. Sebastian last weekend and declared that we were all going to h-e-double tooth picks considered himself speaking infallibly as do many Protestant ministers.  “No!” one might declare, “the Bible absolutely teaches this!”  Then one goes down the street and meets another minister who says, “No!  It absolutely teaches this!”  Both speak with absolute authority (infallibility.)  They attribute their infallibility not to themselves but to the Holy Spirit.  Well, so do we.  We are just a little bit more honest about it.  And we have a larger sample, history, and Tradition to back it up.
And unlike some of our Protestant brothers and sisters, we cannot add any new revelation to deposit of Catholic belief.  All revelation ended with the death of the last apostle.  Thus one of the litmus tests to see of locutions or visitations from saints are true are not is if they are sticking to what has already been revealed.  For example, if a vision from the Blessed Virgin says something like, “Pray, pray, pray!”  Well, Okay.  We are still on message.  If she says, “The end is near.  Build a shack in the woods, buy food and ammunition because on August 15th the world is ending,” then we know it is not of God.  So when a minister in a Church says that the know the end date of the world or other such things, though they seem to speak infallibly, we know that they are not.  And as Catholics, if a bishop or pope should speak thusly, we know would have stepped out of their authority.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Truth?  What is truth?


Real?  What is real?


Last night we were sitting out on the loggia watching the storm come in and discussing matters of faith.  We have candles out on the loggia that are spring loaded; that is, the candle is inside a tube and a spring at the bottom pushes the candle up so that can burn all the way down to the nub while all the time always “looking like” a new candle recently lit.


We do a lot of things that look or sound like we are doing the “real” thing.  Depending on the parish at which you worship you may have fake bells in the tower, an electronic organ made to sound like a pipe organ, fake pillars made out of plaster, art printed by machine and made to look like a painting, faux marble, silk flowers, electronic candles, acetate vestments, and occasionally canned homilies.  Does it matter?  What is the value of “real?”


I once had a book (that has since been lost) talking about such things.  It even railed against followers on candles because it obstructed the view of the glow of the candle in the wax at the top of stick and prevented the natural dripping of bee’s wax.  I don’t know if I would go quite that far but I like the direction in which the author was looking.


Having only fake experience of things is every bit as barbaric as having only seen artificial night.  Most people have never seen a true night sky undimmed by light pollution.  Few moderns have an idea of the beauty and majesty of the Milky Way or the fascination of seeing a satellite pass quickly by with the naked eye.  The total experience of a true night sky absolutely jammed packed with starts only comes from pictures, planetariums, and Star Trek movies.  These take the place of real and “real” becomes the interesting second of our primary experience.  “You know, you can really see it much better at the planetarium.” 


There are four paths to God; the One, the True, the Good, and the Beautiful.  “Real” art is true, is good, and is beautiful particularly when it is connected to the Eucharist and when it is touched by the genius of the human hand or the action of the elements.  Therefore is it not good to come as closely as we can to that which is most elemental such as air actually passing through a pipe to create a pipe organ sound, fire that produces the light of what we want to label a candle, a bell that rings out what we call “the bells,” flowers that don’t grow dusty and faded before they grow unusable, a painting that is unique to an artist who produced it and can’t be found in every parish church that you might stop into, to have a place that is not “virtual” out of convenience or cost as much as possible as clever as the virtual might be, so as to be in closer proximity to that which is real, True, Good, and Beautiful? 

There is something here difficult to articulate and one either gets it or they don’t.  And obtaining it is sometimes easier to achieve than others.  And it can go too far.  But the less we live with artificial as real, the closer we live in truth.


COMPLETELY UNRELATED TOPIC:  Which is why I hate aluminum siding.  There is always an attempt to make it look like wood.  It is not wood.  It doesn’t look like wood.  So why not make aluminum siding look like aluminum siding.  What great and interesting thing can it do that perhaps we can’t do with wood?  Could we come up with new designs and applications so instead of looking like an artificial wooden house, it could look like a beautiful aluminum house?




Does anybody out there feel this way?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


It has been a fabulous spring around St. Sebastian (though we could use a little rain.)  The azaleas that we almost lost year to some sort of disease were treated and blossomed this year with a vengeance.  The tulips and daffodils grew like dandelions and the lilacs are almost choking in their fragrance.  I kicked Sebastian’s (my dog) ball into a pine tree and it looked like the tree caught on fire so much pollen rose into the air.
But all that is fading and now we are entering into summer; a season known more for its greenery that flashiness of color.  But that doesn’t mean growth isn’t still going on.  The bush trimmers, weed pullers, and grass cutters can testify to this.
It is much the same for the spiritual life.  We just came out of a season of flowers, fine vestments, extra candles, extravagant music, and extra pomp and circumstance.  Save for some exceptions (such as this weekend and next) the priest will be wearing the green of ordinary time.  This, however, does not mean a return to the ordinary of last summer.  We do not cast off everything that happened this last season and growth does not stop.  It might not be the splashy growth of celebrating the resurrection, but there is growth none-the-less.  We are to take the advances we made in Lent and Easter and now make that part of the new normal so that when we enter into the next spring of our growth, it will lead us to a new level so that the next ordinary will be extraordinary.


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUNDThis week's quotes are favorites from the readings from the last St. Sebastian Chesterton Society meeting.  We were reading the second half of Saint Francis.  "Every heresy has been an effort to narrow the Church."
QUOTE II:  "But it is good to have the Dies Irea as well as the Canticle of the Sun."
QUOTE III:  "Men are learning more and more the solid social virtues of Mediaeval civilization; but those impressions are still social rather than individual.  The Mediaeval world was far ahead of the modern world in its sense of the things in which all men are one; death and the daylight of reason and the common conscience which holds communities together."
More to follow at some other time.
Holly sent this in:

MD sent this in.  It is one of the "views from the Eiffle Tower."  Look up, look down, look all around.  Click here.

Monday, May 20, 2013


I usually draw Monday Diary cartoon during a quiet time on Sunday.  There isn’t going to be a stretch of quiet time this Sunday and Monday I will be spending most of the day signing teacher’s contracts the net result being: no cartoons today!


It was an enjoyable weekend however.  It started off with Fr. Pfeiffer and I taking a morning trip to Cleveland to our Cathedral of St. John for the ordination of 5 new priests who will be serving in our diocese.  The diocese predicted the apocalypse for downtown on that Saturday morning.  There was a marathon going on and the shooting of the new Avengers movie not to mention the outrageous amount of construction on East 9th Street.  They sent out “Worship Traffic Passes” and warned us to show up extra early or we might not make it to the cathedral until after Communion.  So Fr. Pf and I found a kindly retired priest to take the early Mass, we cancelled confessions and took off for Cleveland.
Having an excellent parking spot because we got there almost an hour and half early having faced nearly empty streets, we walked down to the Hilton for some coffee and muffins.  As it turns out, the marathon was a 5K and was over already and movie wasn’t being shot for another week. 
The Ordination Mass was beautiful.  We saw some parishioners there and asked them later what they thought.  They had seats all the way at the back and couldn’t see much, “until,” she informed us, “I noticed people with their Ipods out watching the whole thing live streaming.  So we were in the building but watching what we couldn’t see on somebody’s computer.” 
Note to self:  Not everybody looking at a computer screen during Mass is doing something bad.
Getting back to good ole St. Sebastian (after a quick stop at Swensons) we had about an hour to set up for welcoming pilgrims to the parish.  St. Sebastian was picked by Bishop Lennon to be one five parishes that people could visit as part of the Year of Faith celebration.  To tell the truth, I was not expecting many people.  It was the first weekend and few people seemed to be catching on to what this whole thing was.

I was wrong.  As I write this we are only about half way through our first weekend hours and already about 75 people have shown up!  Wow.  Some are from neighboring parishes, some from far away – one couple was from Texas!  For most we were the first stop though for a couple they had been to St. Mary in Wooster already.  There is more information on the pilgrimages here and here.
There was another interesting incident this weekend.  There was a man who took up a post across the street from the church.  He had a sign that said, “The end is near!  Repent!  You are going to hell!”  He also had a bull horn through which he informed everybody that Catholics are going to hell.  I asked him if it was just Catholics in particular or were there others in town that were coming along for the trip.  Apparently it is only Catholics.
I tried to get a handle on why we are so special and all he kept saying was that it was because Catholics teach that only Catholics are getting into heaven.  When I pointed out that it wasn’t true, he said I was mistaken.  There was an attempt to engage him in the documents of Vatican II but there was the more important task of yelling at people as they walked out of the church.
So what does one do with this?  I thought about the apostles who “went home rejoicing because they were found worthy” to be yelled at for believing in Christ and His Church.  What else are you going do with that?  Such is life.

Friday, May 17, 2013


Lumen Gentium paragraphs 22 and 23.


There was an interesting show on NPR about a year or two ago talking about the Protestant Church movement and the decline of the mainline Churches.  They cited the uptick in startup Churches and were unable to give a convincing argument as to why people should return to the mainline Churches.  A man called in and said that he and his friends were no longer enthralled with their traditional Protestant Church and so they started meeting on the weekends at their houses.  There they sang, read the Bible, talked about what they read, and praised God.  Their authority for doing this was the Holy Spirit (who always seems to give people the authority to do what they want.)  The person being interviewed simply said, “You are doing what the Protestant movement calls us to do.  I can’t argue with you.  Do well and praise God.”

This is another example of the great divide between the Catholic and Protestant universal view.  This type of thinking is not compatible with Catholic ecclesiology.  If someone were to say, “I’ve started my own Church, declared myself a priest, and now celebrate Mass with my own community under the authority of the Holy Spirit,” we would not be so resigned to say, “Well, I guess you’ve got a Church going.  That’s what God wants.”


In addition to being called into unity (in belief, practice, authority, and worship,) we believe Jesus still sanctifies and teaches on earth.  Not in some mysterious way that only affects us from some past event, but does so actively today through the Holy Spirit and in the persons of His bishops who act in persona Christi as leaders in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, which He founded.
The local Church is headed up by a bishop.  For example, the Diocese of Cleveland is headed up by Bishop Lennon.  He is the source of our unity and he is to (to the best of his ability) lead us with fatherly care and concern.  We are his primary focus though as bishop, his care must extend to the whole of the Church and so he works in cooperation with his fellow bishops to bring about unity and peace in the Church and in the world, particularly among the poor, the suffering, and those who are undergoing persecution for justice sake. 
Another example would be the pastor of a parish.  My primary duty and prayers go to the people of St. Sebastian and I don’t step on the toes of other parishes who are under the leadership of other pastors.  But I do extend my prayers to those parishes and my cooperation with those other pastors to make the Catholic presence in this city stronger and healthier.
This is part of the power of our unity.
(Just a reminder that we are skimming over these paragraphs.  To read them in their entirety they are easily found on the Vatican website.  Happy Year of Faith!)

Thursday, May 16, 2013


A few assignments ago the parish in which I was ministering was part of a local ecumenical council.  All the local Christian Churches joined together in order to try to create some positive events for the community.  There was one Church, however, that was viciously anti-Catholic.  Actually, I don’t think that they were intentionally anti-Catholic, but they were.  Their tag line was that they loved Catholics and knew that they were going to hell, and so it was their sworn duty to do everything they could to convert us.  This included sneaking into the parish church and leaving tracks that looked very Catholic on the cover but inside taught why Catholicism was so bad.  As a result they were asked not to return to the group.


Now, I actually do not have a problem with somebody who thinks they have something better going on and invite people to their church instead of the Catholic Church (even though I think they are wrong.)  But I have a difficult problem with the great amount of Churches that misrepresent the Church, then denounce the misrepresentation, and then say, “So join us, because we are not that evil Church.”  I can’t get over how often this is the case.  It is common even in my local area with such mega churches such as Grace and The Chapel, large non-denominationals that boast such a large percentage of their congregations are former Catholics, who feel they have to misrepresent the Church in order to refute her.  Even when they use the Catechism, it is a common practice to use selective passages out of context to make their point.  That is not saying much for someone who believes they have truth and want to convince somebody to join them.  So much for trusting in the Holy Spirit. 
On the one hand it is our fault for not teaching our people better.  On the other hand, hurray for us for if the majority of their congregations are made up of ex-Catholics, WHERE DO THEY THINK THEY WERE FIRST INTRODUCED TO JESUS AND ARE STILL FEELING MOVED TO FOLLOW HIM albeit in a breakaway Church?  It is a shame (and not entirely their fault) that former Catholics rely on such sources to tell them what their (former) Church taught them instead of really looking into it – and there are plenty of ways to do so.
Thinking about it recently I came to the conclusion that if were not Catholic, I would not be Protestant.  If it were not for the Eucharist in the way that the Catholic Church believes it, I don’t think I would buy into the whole Christian experiment.  I would probably be Jewish.  But as it is, there is the Eucharist.  And I cannot fathom anybody who has been properly catechized in it, and who believed it, would leave the Church for anything no matter how justified they felt.  In fact, most people I talk to concerning their reasons for leaving the Church have nothing to do with such things.  They site better music, better community, better extra-praise services offered by the church and as such, searching for a Church becomes like looking for a good gym – a place that offers things I want rather than an honest search for truth.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


There is a local church that has one of the few marquees to which I pay attention.  There is always something there that makes me stop and think, usually because it is a challenge to my belief though we share the same moniker of Christian.  The church considers itself progressive and innovative and advertises such quips as, “Planned Parenthood helps men too!”  This is, of course absolutely true.  As long as the man has not had the life snuffed out of him in his mother’s womb by Planned Parenthood, it will then help him later in his life, if appropriate funding can be found, even to helping him snuff out the life of his own son.
And so we have the march of progress.  In fact, that is one of their latest tag lines on their marquee: “Progressive churches make things happen.”  This little dandy caught my attention and occupied quite a bit of my contemplation time.  “What exactly is that supposed to mean?”  Like so many things we are presented with, it seems like it means something but if you take the time to think about it, it really doesn’t.

Consider firstly the word “progressive.”  What does it mean to be a church “of progress?”  After all, progress in science may allows us to have vacations on the moon, but we may not live to see it if our cancer progresses.  For progress to mean anything positive, there must be a goal to progress to.  For far too many people, progress simply means stumbling forward; doing something because we can, not because we are supposed to.  Not all moving forward is progress.  Cities, societies, even people move forward toward decay.  If you do not know who you want to be when you grow up, you might get older, but you won’t progress to anything positive.
In order for a Christian church to be progressive, there must be an ultimate goal and that goal must outline what is best both for the human person and for humanity in general physically, mentally, and spiritually.  It must be based on truth and being so, all true progress will move toward that truth.  Progress, then, is not a process of allowing humanity to go to seed as it wishes but to lift it up to an ideal; rather than broadening the path, it teaches men to walk the narrow road.
In this, then, I would argue there is not a Church as progressive as the Catholic Church in (when it is properly understood.)  It has an ideal to achieve and to which man is called; it calls each individual and collective communities to the highest standards of health, knowledge, and holiness.  When it moves men in this direction, it is truly progressive.
“Makes things happen,” the second part of the tag line, is a particularly value free statement.  A squirrel running past a dog in a china shop makes things happen.  That being said, if I had to guess at what the sign intended to convey I would supposed it implies that if you do not like the current state of affairs or the current idea of what progress is, then one should join them to make change happen.  (A whole other topic.)  As a whole, I like “things to happen.”  It is far superior to things not happening at all.  But there are things I would rather happen and other things I would rather not.  But in any event, if I am going to be part of a church that “makes things happen,” I hope it is truly a Church of progress and not simply a Church blindly moving forward.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "The important thing is not to think much but to love much."  St. Theresa

QUOTE II:  "Most of us would hate to have stand the test of real love, I dare say."  Mary Roberts Rineheart


From the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter:  "Most Reverend Richard Lennon, Bishop of Cleveland has designated five parishes as pilgrimage sites in the Diocese of Cleveland for the "Year of Faith."  St. Sebastian is one of those parishes!  Read more here.

An article about what U.S. students lack when entering the job market was sent in this past week.  It may not seem that this is what the blog is about but in a way it is.  Many of the problems sited in the article are decidedly not in keeping with what it is to be a good Catholic Christian.  It is an attitude that we are attempting to fight against in our Catholic school and is one reason why Catholic schools are still important.  Read more here.

Speaking of kids:  Here is what they can achieve when you expect something great of them and they have the support of the community.  This is why I want to open a school of arts and culture at St. Sebastian.  (More to follow on that.)  2.48 minutes.  Read more here.

Mary sent this in:  "There's a fantastic new site, StrangeNotions.com, that was just launched today to promote an intelligent and respectful dialogue between Catholics and atheists and agnostics. "The implicit goal is to bring non-Catholics to faith, especially followers of the so-called New Atheism. As a 'digital Areopagus', the site includes intelligent articles, compelling video, and rich discussion throughout its comment boxes."  If you are like me, your first concern was "whose doing the talking on the Christian behalf?"  Here is the list and it is quite satisfactory.  Thanks Mary.

Ah!  That's all there is time for today!  Enjoy. . .


Sunday, May 12, 2013


Last Thursday Fr. Pfeiffer and I went to Cleveland to our cathedral of St. John the Evangelist to watch our choir compete in the WCLV Jubilation choir contest.  They were finalists along with 5 other choirs from north east Ohio who were to perform and be judge live on the radio.  We did great though we did not win first place.  We did great though and I was so proud of our choir!
When our choir was taking their place in front of the sanctuary I heard a lady behind me whisper to her companion, "My goodness!  They just keep coming!  There's tons of them!"  It made my little pastor heart swell with pride knowing that over a dozen of them were missing to boot!
The contest did no start until 8PM and we decided to make an evening of it - especially considering that we are nearing the end of Fr. Pf's time here at St. Sebastian.  So we left early and went out to eat beforehand.  Heading toward an area of restaurants that I like we passed a tiny bistro that I had never seen before owing to never having walked down this little side street.  They had Fr. Pf's favorite item on the menu and so we popped in to have dinner.
A patron came over to our table and greeted us.
It was by way of thanking us for being priests.  It was terribly nice and thoughtful of him and lifted my spirits considerably.
Dinner went a little long and so I asked if there was coffee to go that we could drink on our walk back to the cathedral.  The waitress (who was very good and kind) winked and said, "Wait and let me check on that for you."  She came back with steaming hot coffee in paper coffee cups.
I may be a celibate, but I am not opposed to a little innocent flattery from a kind waitress. 

Then another waitress brought us our check quickly when we said we had to take off.  She took care of us efficiently even though she was quite busy.
We finished desert as she cashed us out.

Friday, May 10, 2013


We no longer have a legitimate pope and I look forward to that day when a true pope sits on the throne of Peter.
(Bet you never thought you’d read that here.)
That is not my sentiment however, but one that I come across now and then.  (As Christians we really are all over the board aren’t we?)  If fidelity were an egg thrown against a wall, I hope most of us would be on the bull’s eye, but there would be goo all over the target.
Interesting historical note:  If we have not had a true pope for a while, we never will.  Only a pope can choose the manner in which he is elected and he is elected by those he appointed as cardinals for only popes appoint cardinals.  If there is no pope, no illegitimate pope can elect cardinals and therefore there are no cardinals and no authority available to elect anybody.  Therefore, either the current pope is the pope, or the whole Catholic experiment is a failure and the gates of hell have prevailed.


Thus do we enter into paragraph 20 of Lumen Gentium.  The mission that Jesus gave to His disciple is a mission forever because it deals with truth and truth is absolute.  (It is either true all of the time or it is not true at all.  It can’t be true on Monday but not on Tuesday.  Neither can it be true in the 11th century but not in the 22nd.)  This is why the apostles handed on their office to successors: to ensure that the mission continues.  There were many people who helped spread the Good News, but there were some “proven men” who take over governing at their death.  These are known as bishops and as we mention earlier their succession should be able to be followed from a current bishop all the way back to an Apostle and ultimately to Jesus Christ Himself.  Thusly, not only is the office of Peter handed down through the ages as a see in which the Church finds unity and leadership, so the local Church is given a bishop handed down through the ages as a source and symbol of our unity and who is given to us for leadership.
Here is an interesting thing:  The office of bishop is given to us by Divine institution to take the place of the Apostles to shepherd the Church, as such, “whoever listens to them listens to Christ and whoever despises them despises Christ and Him who sent Christ.”  Dems pretty strong words.  Does that mean that a bishop can be a jerk and says, “Ha! Ha!  You have to like me anyway!”
Well, we are not supposed to hate anybody.  But we are not talking about a personality contest.  This concerns itself with the passing on of truth.  If you hate the bishop because he tells you truth, then you hate the One from Whom truth comes for He is the source of all truth.  (Please remember the earlier part of the document which states we are responsible for that which we know to be true.)  Which, if you think about it, makes sense though it probably could be stated less archaically for mondern ears and therefore less open to misunderstanding and ridicule.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


You woke up this morning.

            Did you thank God?

You had safe, reliable electricity to run your clock and your lamp.

            Did you thank God?

You planted your feet on the floor and stood up.

            Did you thank God?

You had clean, abundant water with which to brush your teeth.

            Did you thank God?

Water was pumped into your house at your preferred temperature for your shower.

            Did you thank God?

You had to choose which clothes you were going to wear today.

            Did you thank God?

There was something in the cupboard for breakfast.

            Did you thank God?

God gave us coffee!

            Did you thank God?

You live in the most free, richest, most pampered society in the world or history.

            Did you thank God?

You have access to a computer.

            Did you thank God?

You had time to read something like this.

            Did you thank God?

You can see and read.

            Did you thank God?

There may be something really horrible about this day for you.  It absorbs much of your attention, time, and energy.  But an awful lot had to go right today for you to be able to focus on that which was horribly wrong.

            Do you trust God?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Why do we work so hard to make traditional Judeo/Christian principals a part of our culture?


Because it works.


And where our culture is heading now does not work.


We are the richest, most pampered culture ever to exist.  We have more license to do anything we want.  We have more options for staying healthy than ever before.  We are the most traveled, most technologically advanced, information soaked culture that has every lived on the face of the earth.  All that we might desire comes more quickly, more anonymously, less scandalously, and cheaper than any human being has every enjoyed.  In short, we are getting more of what we want, when and how we want it, than anybody, anywhere, anytime, has every been so dumped on in abundance.  Even those we consider poor (as opposed to destitute) often have cars, cell phones, a computer, cable, and access to health care.  Maybe not the best, but better than most of the world enjoys.  We should be the happiest culture ever.
And we are not.
A recent report in the Akron Beacon Journal states that the suicide rate among middle aged white people has risen 40% in the last decade.  Another report declares suicide the third leading cause of death among teens.  Talk to any police officer (or school teacher) and he will tell you about the sky rocketing use of drugs among students.  Rape, particularly in our armed forces as stated today in the newspaper, is on a dramatic increase.  According to the International Press Service, in the last three decades, the incarceration rate in the US has risen 790%.  (Yes, you read that correctly.)  And this does not even touch on the abortion rate, the failure of marriages, the rise in abuse . . . (child abuse injuries on the rise ABC news 1 Oct 12)
Does this sound like a happy nation?  Does it sound as though we are on the road to peace?  Does it sound as though the experiment is working in the least?  Would you suggest we keep moving in the same direction if this was a company and you were in charge?
There was a talk given at St. Sebastian concerning faith and culture and the forces working against the faith having an influence on our society.  Two pages of factors were listed which included everything from our rugged individualism, to consumerism, to technology, to our cultures call for tolerance, etc. . .  I would have to disagree with the speaker that these are our problems.  These are, rather, the symptoms of a flawed philosophy of life.  The true problem lies in the great turn inward. 


Just for example: One of the main purposes of marriage is the radical decision for the other.  It is the great turning outward toward another.  Our vows reflect this: “I promise to love you in good times and in bad . . . all the days of my life.”  There is no expectation in those vows.  There are no conditions such as, “and I expect to be loved” or “under the following conditions,” or “until I don’t feel it anymore.”  If there has been a great turning inward, of course marriages are going to start failing at a greater rate.  Two people are getting married in order to be loved and not with the mind set of ministering love.  A couple staying together with the intention of sucking love out of each other is doomed to fail.
Now, if two people abide by their vows, they will indeed not only love, but be loved.  But we don’t get married to be cautious with our love.  It simply doesn’t work.
This great turning inward can be seen in every aspect of our culture.  Even art is often a masturbatory creation displaying the artist’s inner life rather than channeling that creativity to say something to the world.  (I know I’ll get argument there.)
This is why we can no longer stand on the deck of the Titanic and worry about how the deck chairs are arranged.  “No, no!  We Catholics like our chairs facing east!  East!  We must have some chairs facing east!”  It is time to get off the deck and stand under the Titanic and lift it up.  We must get at the root causes of things.  This year I am devoting myself to try some things at the parish.  I encourage you to do the same.  I don’t know what.  Be creative!  You are husbands and wives, parents, students, organizers, prayers, professionals, owners, purchasers, voters, artists, public figures, writers, thinkers, policy makers, changers, and followers.   You are Catholic, Christian, human, and a full citizen of the United States.  At the very least, when you come across something that makes you say, “Isn’t that just too bad?” don’t let it go!  Say a prayer about it.


Together we can change the world and restore some joy.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "A child is not capable of hurting you deliberately.  To respond to that reality with the infliction of hurt was a statement that adulthood had no meaning."  from Joseph O'Conner's, "Star of the Sea"
QUOTE II:  "[A]ll of man's difficulties are caused by restlessness, the refusal to accept the fact that limitations exist."  same source.
Mary sent in this link to the Diocese of Omaha that has a selection of videos for those who are considering a religious or priestly vocations.  27 questions and answers.  Thanks!  Go here.
From the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter:  "In his Year of Faith Lecture Series, Bishop Lennon addressed the topic or Religious Freedom while examining the Declaration on Religious Freedom from the Second Vatican Council. As part of the Q & A, Bishop spoke about why Religious Freedom in the United States is vital for Religious Freedom around the world."  For more go here.
From the same source:  "The final rounds of the sixth annual WCLV JUBILATION Elizabeth Stuart Church Choir Festival, co-sponsored by the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist, will be featuring six Church Choirs from Northeast Ohio."  Incidental both St. Sebastian and her daughter parish of St. Hilary are finalists!  For more information go here.
St. Sebastian has been selected by our bishop as a place of pilgrimage during the summer to help celebrate the Year of Faith.  HERE is some information from our parish web page.  HERE is additional information from the diocesan web page.  (Click on the Pilgrimage logo)
Here is the video that the diocese made of our parish inviting people to come and visit St. Sebastian (49 seconds):

Sunday, May 5, 2013


I've been receiving quite a bit of peer pressure about my phone that doesn't do much more than make calls and send texts - which BTW is a big step forward for me.
We had a funeral this past week for a lady that was almost a century old.  I think about the technological changes in the world that she must have witnessed from primitive cars to space stations.  How interesting it would be to go back in time and tell her the future of her phone.  Could she even comprehend it?
I don't think that I need a phone that can do all the fancy shmancy things that they can do today.  But I have come to realize that it is because I have been living with such a phone vicariously. 

And now Father Pfeiffer is in the last month of his time here at St. Sebastian.  I don't know that my new parochial vicar will be pleased to be as kind as Fr. Pf in not only owning one FOR me, but also operating it for me.

Friday, May 3, 2013


In yesterday’s post, a Lutheran stated that she believed in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.  She was not referring to the Catholic Church per say.  The fact is that we use the same words but we often mean very different things.  This is along the same lines of speaking with someone from the UK (or just about anywhere else in the world outside of the US) about football and wondering what game exactly are we talking about.


When we as Catholics talk about the unity of the Church we mean that we are one in belief, worship, and leadership.  That is why being “under the pope” is so important to us.  If a church or congregation does not recognize the authority of the pope (or the bishop for that matter), they cannot be considered within the unity of the Church.  So also goes the idea of apostolic.  Most people mean (including Catholics) that the faith handed on the apostles is the same faith that we pass on today.  (This being an interesting thing to challenge.)  But additionally, the Catholic Church believes in apostolic succession.  This means that Jesus laid hands on His apostles (who we recognize as the first bishops) and that they laid hands on others who became bishops and priests, who laid on hands and made bishops and priests, all the way up to the present day.  This means that your bishop (or priest) should be able to trace his line (kind of like a family tree) back through bishops all the way to Jesus Himself.  And so we turn to chapter III of Lumen Gentium. 
(17/18)  Like the human body, the body of Christ on earth, the Church, has a certain structure to it in order that it might function well.  We make no bones about it, the Church is hierarchical.  Jesus, as its chief shepherd, picked a group of His disciple whom he made what we now call bishops.  Those bishops, needing assistance in local Churches, chose men to be priests and deacons.  Among those “bishops,” Jesus chose one, Peter, to be the first among equals to govern and unite the whole body under the guidance of the Holy Spirit this Church that He founded.
This inner group of apostles with this chosen leader is a permanent body to guide the Church into unity until the end of the world.  They were fully commissioned at Pentecost to bring His Word to the ends of the world.  This is what the chief architect and cornerstone, Jesus, built for us before He ascended into heaven that He might continue to bless, instruct, and comfort us and allow us to participate in the mission.
The wings of a bird are a burden to them when they are not flying.  But with wings, they soar to the heavens to the envy of all living creatures.  Having a hierarchy came seem like that from time to time.  On a case by case basis, it may seem occasionally appear like a terrible burden, but in the greater pictures it has allowed us to soar. 


I am reminded of a quote posted here before by Thomas Babington Maccaulay, an Anglican historian writing in the 1800’s who said of the Church and in particular the papacy: “The proudest royal houses are but of yesterday, when compared with the line of the Supreme Pontiffs. That line we trace back in an unbroken series, from the Pope who crowned Napoleon in the nineteenth century to the Pope who crowned Pepin in the eighth; and far beyond the time of Pepin the august dynasty extends, till it is lost in the twilight of fable.
“The republic of Venice came next in antiquity. But the republic of Venice was modern when compared with the Papacy; and the republic of Venice is gone, and the papacy remains. The Papacy remains not in decay, not a mere antique, but full if life and youthful vigour. The Catholic Church is still sending forth to the farthest ends of the world missionaries as zealous as those who landed in Kent with Augustin, and still confronting hostile kings with the same spirit with which she confronted Attila . . .
“Nor do we see any sign which indicates that the term of her long dominion is approaching. She saw the commencement of all the governments and of all the ecclesiastical establishments that now exist in the world; and we feel no assurance that she is not destined to see the end of the all. She was great and respected before the Saxon had set foot on Britain, before the Frank had passed the Rhine, when Grecian eloquence still flourished in Antioch, when idols were still worshipped in the temple of Mecca.
“And she may still exist in undiminished vigour when some traveler from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul’s.”