Sunday, June 30, 2013


So this last Father's Day Mass felt like what it must have been like in the 1950s.  No Latin or anything like that - I'm talking about babies.  Babies, babies, babies!  It was like the end of the world was coming and God was trying to use up His baby materials.  I swear every guy there had a baby in his arms.  It was amazing.  Under the usual sound of people and books was this murmur of "goos" and "gah gahs".  Perhaps someone announced a "bring your baby to Mass" day.  I had to check the bulletin to make sure that no one had accidental put a notice in saying, "Bring a baby, get a free car" or something.
And that constant sound of babies I KNOW set some people on edge.  To many good and holy people who are trying earnestly to follow Vatican II mandates of full, conscious, and active participation at Mass, the constant sound of babies seem a little like this:
I know because I've had mothers, fathers, and baby sitters come up to me and say that when they've been at Mass they have been seen people turn around and look at them like this:
And truly my heart goes out to both parties - parents who want to get to Mass and others who want undisturbed, community prayer.  And of course there are screamers who might bless the whole community by visiting the cry room or the lobby.  (Yes, I've spoken with pediatricians who wouldn't take their kid to the cry room if it meant martyrdom.  I'm just saying.)  But who can predict the sudden outburst in the middle of a homily?
Just this past weekend I was standing out in the lobby waiting for Mass to end and a lady with about the best behaved kids going was standing next to me with her child that was getting a bit "active" to be in the body of the Church and he let out this blood curdling scream completely out of the blue followed shortly thereafter by own startled scream.  After determining nobody was being murdered we had a good laugh about it.
But truly, here is what I hear most of the time when there are many babies in church:
That is because babies grow up.
It means that there is a future, that we are still alive, and that God being a good and loving God will give them screaming children of their own one day with whom they will be embarrassed at Mass making the need to give "dagger eyes" completely superfluous and not nearly as effective.

Friday, June 28, 2013


Continuing our look at Lumen Gentium


Bringing to a close the writing concerning those who are ordained, Lumen Gentium turns to contemplate the laity.  It is tricky business that.  I heard a talk recently that challenged people to come up with a definition of the word laity and their role without using negative descriptions (such as non-ordained or they share in the priesthood than cannot . . .)  The theology of the laity really does need to be developed better.  Priests and religious will not change the world by themselves.  They can barely keep up with one parish let alone your home, school, work place, neighborhood, your friends, family, and acquaintances.  Who can get there and do all that?  The laity.


Paragraph 30


Much earlier the “People of God” was spoken of in a very general way.  The precepts put forth there are applied equally to bishops, priests, deacons, religious, and laymen.  There are other aspects of Christian living that are particular to persons such as to bishops (which we just sloshed through rather heavily) or to laity.  And though roles may be different, it is “right and just, our duty and our salvation” for every man, woman, and child of the Body of Christ, the People of God, the holy nation, a people set apart, to carry out their individual roles in order to advance the Kingdom of God.  The whole structure is fitted together so that we may “with one mind cooperate in the common task,” that is, “the building up of itself in love.”

Here is an example: It is a terrible thing to speak of a brother who did not become a priest as “just a brother,” (which is a “jab” to their calling and vocation if you will,) as if not being a priest somehow makes them “less than.”  There is a nobility all its own to being brother.  If that is what God is calling a man to, then it is of the highest nobility that he is fulfilling God’s plan.  In that state he hopefully is fulfilling an essential piece of the puzzle that God needs to further the salvation of mankind in the particular way that lay brother can.  If we were all priests, what an anemic Church we would be.  If we were all priests, who would speak to those who are married, or are single for Christ, or who are children, or in the work place.  Everyone is vital or the whole experiment is compromised.  Never think of yourself as too little or inconsequential if you are doing what you can in your state.
One of my favorite persons in the parish lives in a decidedly non-Catholic area of town.  She has become decidedly Catholic.  She is regularly confronted by people hostile to the Catholic Church – people with whom I would never have the opportunity to come in contact.  She is a missionary.  She does incredible work among the hostile.  She can only do that because of her state in life.  She takes her calling seriously and does not suppose, “I am not clergy or religious, that is not my role.”  She is not “just a lay person.”  She is Church.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


It’s been a long time since we had a rant/counter rant.
It’s about time.
Last week in the Plain Dealer there was a front page story, above the fold, about the Community of Saint Peter, the priest with about 300 parishioners who decided to break away from the authority of the bishop and establish what has become, in essence, a new Church and thusly avoiding the closure of their parish as so many others experienced during the recent downsizing in this diocese.  The current article was about their music minister, a nun, who was “pressed to quit breakaway church.”  Apparently a nun, in good standing with her order, the Sisters of Notre Dame, has been worshipping and ministering in this community since before they established their own Church and continued to do so until very recently.  The superior of the order is quoted as saying, “It’s a very sad situation and very complicated.”
Sad?  Yes.  Complicated?  Not so much when one doesn’t weigh all factors equally but places first things first. 
The man in charge of the congregation made the statement that it is a horrible loss for them, which no doubt it is, and that the persons responsible for inflicting such pain should be ashamed.


I agree.


But the Church did not leave Sister Susan nor the congregation, they left the Church (granted, under very difficult circumstances.  But no other congregations left en mass.)  Sister Susan did not have to stop worshipping with them.  She could have freely chosen to stay.  But you can’t live in two houses at once.  The bishop did not “cause” the split, their pastor did. 
True, there are nuns and clergy who work with non-Catholic institutions even for worship services.  What is so different about this situation?  This community does not exist alongside but in opposition.  Must they cease to exists?  Who can stop them?  But a choice was made and one must either be a part of it or not. 
Many will see the situation differently.  But the point is to see it from the point of view of the Catholic Church.  The Catholic Church is very much a family.  Christ is the bridegroom, we are the bride.  In this particular instance the bride (or part of the family) has decided to keep enjoying all the perks of living in the bridegroom’s house, but wants to spend weekends with someone else.  We don’t – we can’t work that way. 
Now here’s the great question to which we are not privy (and it is only remotely our business at all and only since those involved decided to go public:)  Does Sister go to Mass in addition to worshipping with this community?  Okay, maybe there is some complication there. . .
In Carsten Jensen’s book, “We the Drowned,” one of the characters (who is agnostic at best) said, “But a church is like a ship.  Certain rules apply and once you come aboard, you have to adhere to them.  And if you can’t, you should stay away.”

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUNDIt is time for the St. Sebastian Chesterton Society quotes.  There were too many from the last meeting to list all of them.  Here are some select few:
"A saint is a medicine because he is an antidote.  Indeed that is why the saint is often a martyr, he is mistaken for a poison because is an antidote."
"Therefore it is the paradox of history that each generation is converted by the saint who contradicts it most."
"Revolutions turn into institutions . . ."
" . . . and friends of Birth Control may lament that this philosopher (Thomas Aquinas) was needlessly added to the noble line of ruffians who kidnapped him."
"For while it is possible for a king to wish to be a saint, it is not possible for a saint to wish very much to be a king."
Mark sent this video in.  "Barbara Nicolosi-Harrington delivered a talk to the students and faculty of Christendom College on May 2, 2011. Nicolosi's talk, entitled "Why Hollywood Matters," explores the challenges facing Christians in the art of cinema and the art in churches."  or better entitled, "Why do Christians make bad art.)  One hour.  Thanks Mark.

From the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter:  "Did you know, that earlier this week the Vatican approved inclusion of St. Joseph's name in the main Eucharistic prayers at Mass?"  Read more here.
Interested in seeing what is going on with the Diocese of Cleveland Capitol Campaign: 

Monday, June 24, 2013


So as most of you know I have a friend in PA named Eric Armusik (you can see his stuff here) who is a very good painter.  Most recently he created a few paintings for the parish of St. Sebastian.  For the longest time I thought of commissioning another painting just for myself:
The painting would be based on G. K. Chesterton's essay, "On Lying in Bed."  It would be, of course, a bit tongue and cheek.  If you would like to read this essay you may find it here.
As you can tell, the phone call did not seem to be going very well.  He seemed distracted and dodgy (if that is a word.)  Maybe he didn't want to do what he might think a trite painting even though I thought it would be wonderful.  The world needs a lot more mirth and this would fit the bill - and I believe that our hopefully-saint-to-be would get a kick out of it himself.  Plus I thought that if he made prints out of them he could sell them to some eccentric Chertonians such as myself.
Three days passed and I received a package (wrapped in 12 layers of tape!) in the mail from Erik.
Mystery of mysteries.  Mind you, this was only three days later.  So it was with great curiosity that the package was ripped open and lo . . .
There it was!  The painting of GKC in bed drawing on the ceiling with his burnt broom handle and smoking a cigar!  But . . . but . . . but HOW?  It came snail mail.  That alone should have taken three days!  Did he start painting it while we were on the phone - work furiously through the night, walk it directly to the post office and mail it to St. Sebastian???  This was incredible and I in wonder and at a loss.  So I texted a friend who would understand.
We hadn't agreed on anything.  It was a mere description.  No talk of money.  I was hoping I would not be too wowed by the sticker price.  Anxiously I prayed about a phone call I would have to place to Eric when this text came:
Ha!  What a relief!  What a great surprise!  What a great gift!  Can you imagine what Eric was doing on the other end of the line when I was discribing the painting that he was already painting to him?  The first thing he did was call Fr. Pfieffer and told him what happened.  What a great laugh they must have had.
Anyway, the painting has been on display in the rectory.  There is usually one of two reactions: the polite "Oh, how interesting," from those who have no clue what to make of this painting and the burst out of laughter and joy for those who know exactly what it is.  It was greeted warmly by the St. Sebastian Chesterton Society last evening.  Thanks Pf.  (Makes my gift to you seem rather cheap!  HA!)
Chesterton - ora pro nobis!

Friday, June 21, 2013


Continuing Lumen Gentium


Priests are reportedly (with some blaring exceptions) among the happiest people in the United States in their vocations.  In the book, “Why Priests Are Happy,” they claim an, “extraordinary high rate of priestly happiness and satisfaction.”  Perhaps this is because you don’t get into this life without some heavy reflecting and you only pick it if indeed you are cut out for it.
Be that as it may, we always seem to be talking about how to make priest’s lives happier.  Every year that I have been a priest somebody brings up the idea at some meeting or another that we should start living in communal rectories so that we can have more brotherhood.  (The diocese does in fact have a policy for this.)  The problem is: Do you get to pick with whom you live?  If you got to move in with your best friends that’s one thing, if you move in with a grouch who doesn’t empty the dishwasher, take a bath, and eats all of the Value Time Cheese Curls, that’s another.
So paragraph 29 sets up the ideal for the priesthood.  It assumes we are all holy, hard workers, and best friends.  But you have to start somewhere right?  So why not start with the ideal and then work it out from there?


Now, if the bishop is bishop in his own right, the priest is his vicar in the various parishes – his representative assisting him with the sanctifying and teaching of all the people: the ideal being the father/son (and I assume adult son) relationship.  That connotates mutual respect & love, and a certain amount of deference (obedience) on the part of the priest.  This is because it is not about the priest.  He just happens to get to be there.  It is firstly about God.  The priest reaches his highest dignity when celebrating Mass because it is then he stand in personal Christi, in the person of Christ.  The same follows with the other sacraments.  It is not the priest, it is Christ who acts.
In his other ministries, it is not about the priest no matter how charismatic, righteous, or holy he may be.  He is there to make the universal Church present.  He is the “on site” symbol of the entire Church, the universal (catholic) Church founded by Christ.  He is the tangible connection to the whole body.  That is why it is imperative that he be connected to His bishop (who in turn is connected to the rest of the Church . . .)  If he is not connected to his bishop in this international brotherhood that is fine.  But he is not part of the Catholic Church no matter how many times he uses the word Catholic, says Mass, and claims to be doing what Christ calls him.  This is true if he is celebrating the old Latin Mass or is a new contemporary break away.  He has decided to change the rules and so he is starting something new.  He no longer has the right to use the word “Catholic.”  It is to a great, universal brotherhood to which we are called.  “That they may all be one.”
This rather long paragraph (on which I have skimmed over and interjected a lot of my own thoughts – my apologies) also makes it possible to restore the deaconate for areas that make it difficult to have enough priests to fulfill the mission of the Church.  “It is even possible” says the document to confer this office on married men.  However, if single, the same rules of celibacy apply to them as it does to priests.  This is also true of deacons who are widowers. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013


The Saint Sebastian rectory IMHO is rather nice.  What most people don’t know is that it largely furnished out of Goodwill, yard sales, and trash picking.  I live off of the refuse of a nation. 
Things are not too much different over in the church.  At some point in the parish history somebody pitched everything – from altar clothes, to vestments, to thuribles, the whole nine yards.  So there was not much to “play with” when I got here and other items simply no longer existed.  Things have been slowly accumulating again however.  Items not used in other parishes I have “borrowed.”  (I dread the day they want their items back and we have to spend top dollar for them.)  Several items originally from the parish that were thrown in the trash and saved by conscientious parishioners have been slowly returned now that they no longer fear they will end up in a landfill. 
One day I was walking Sebastian down the street and a man having a yard sale started calling out, “Father!  Father!  Do you want a cross on a stick?”  I had no idea to what he was referring.  He promised to drop it by the rectory later in the day.  It turned out to be a very nice processional cross now in use from time to time at the parish.  With it was also a box of other items some of which were useful.


Also in use at the parish are things I have accumulated over the years in assignments at other parishes.  “We should just throw these things out!”  And as they did I would snag them out of the dumpster and put them in my trunk.  Humeral veils and old ciboria are among these finds that we are used at St. Sebastian today.  I’ve also received paintings (of various quality) statues, and even an altar and tabernacle that is now in the rectory chapel.
This morning a lady dropped of a car load of vestments.  “We found these in my mother’s house as we were cleaning it out after her death.  We have no idea why she has them except maybe when a parish closed or something she took them out of the trash for safe keeping.” 
So now I am looking at them in my office.  Some of them are beautiful (meaning, of course, my taste) and others are Okay.  All were expensive at some point.  Some will go in our vestment cases for use, some to the missions, a set to a future priest who likes them.  (Much better than having them go in the trash I think.)
Now, I understand that one cannot hold on to everything.  The giant boxes of felt and Elmer’s glue banners from the 70s that are molding and coming apart and no longer lay flat might be an exception to the rule.  Other things of quality but are not of your taste might be worth putting in a box and keeping in the attic or donating to another parish. 
On second thought – for the time being – keep throwing your parish patrimony out.  At least until we get back everything we need here.  Then start the conservation program.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


It’s budget time – one of the less glorious parts of being a pastor.  There was a time – actually most of the history of the Catholic Church I would think – that the entire budget consisted largely of a bank account out of which the pastor paid the bills.
Things are quite a bit more complicated these days with government regulations and legitimate input from other people besides the pastor.  I for one am glad there are business managers, bookkeepers, and parish finance councils.  Frankly, I have no idea how much we might spend on toilet paper and light bulbs next year, or how the latest health care regulations will hurt the parish finances, or where it might be better to buy our gas. 
As I sit at my desk and write this I can see a truck parked on our front lawn and some gentlemen on the roof of our school.  The chimney is in sore need of tuck pointing (I’m not even sure if that is the way you say it) and of course, as with all things, it’s going to cost quite a bit.  I remember the class we had in the seminary about tuck pointing chimneys.  It was fascinating.  It came right before how to make a rabbit appear out of hat and right after how to do your own laundry.
The business people, lawyers, bankers, accountants, and other savvy people that donate their time to the parish to help sort through these things so that at the end of the year we aren’t looking under couch cushions for enough money to pay our assessments are a God send.  In the end, however, the pastor is the one on the hook if something should go wrong.  It would be his head on the chopping block.  So he “gets” to make the final decision.  But he needs you – the parish needs you.  If you have some expertise and are asked by your pastor to consider being on parish finance council, please give it prayerful consideration.  You can do a world of good.


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "There is nothing in politics or society which has not originated in the human mind.  Whatever the heart, in its secret depths, conceives and imagines, for good or ill, will manifest itself outwardly in time."  Meister Eckhart
QUOTE II:  "Why can't the priest make up the presidential prayers like he does his homily as was the practice in the early years of the Church?  Because the Church doesn't have to say "Amen" to the homily."  Bishop Wilton Gregory
Frank sent in a video about birds in the rain forest.  It is interesting if nothing else.  Here is a link to the 5 minute video.
Sharon sent this 5 minute video in (you only need to watch half of it - the second half is not that interesting.)  It is a dance performance - circle of life and all that.  I wasn't even going to watch it but found it fascinating.  Thanks
Pat sent this in:  Mark Birk, former Baltimore Raven had this to say, "Planned Parenthood performs about 330,000 abortions a year. I am Catholic, I am active in the Pro-Life movement and I just felt like I couldn't deal with that. I couldn't endorse that in any way. I'm very confused by [Obama's] statement. For God to bless a place where they're ending 330,000 lives a year? I just chose not to attend.Read more of the article here.
Mary sent this in: "I think you (and your readers) might also appreciate the words of our Holy Father in his homily on Wednesday about the dual temptations faced by the Church today, first that of wanting to hold on to the past too tightly and second, that of an "adolescent progressivism" . Both of these tendencies find expression in both architecture and music in the Church."
This is a 20 minute video on the conversion of Peter Kreeft to Catholicism:

Friday, June 14, 2013


Paragraph 27 of Lumen Gentium


From an earthly standpoint, when one is given power, it tends to run toward a power to rule.  Hence we have the saying, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  And so we have nation rising against nation.  In principle, when someone is given power in the Church, it is ideally given to make a person a servant.  The more power one has, the more they are responsible for being a servant.  (The first shall be last and the last shall be first.)  That is why we call the pope particularly in his relationship with bishops the servant of servants.  And it is your bishop’s responsibility to serve you in way that best sets you up for heaven.
Unlike a priest who serves at the sufferance of is bishop, a bishop is not simply a vicar or a representative of the pope locally but rules by his own authority (within certain confines of course.)  He can’t look up the chain and say, “They made me do it.”  In theory, the buck stops at the chancery.
Bishops are charged to love their people as if their very own children yet the description of what that means seem to me closer to how husbands should love their wives from Ephesians 5:25 (though I think I would rather be thought his child than his spouse.)  In Ephesians husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves His Church.  Think how Christ loves His Church!  He gives everything to her and for her benefit to make her holy.  His life, His teachings, His miracles, His torture, His death, His resurrection, His inheritance, His salvation, His birthright, even His Body and Blood He give to us.  Tall order husbands.


Tall order bishops! 


Here are some key points from this paragraph:

ü  You are sent by the Father to govern His family.

ü  Be servant, not one who is served.

ü  Be willing to lay down your life.

ü  Have compassion on the ignorant and erring.

ü  Listen to your flock as if your very own children.

ü  Compel them to be involved.

ü  Remember that you will be held accountable for their souls.

ü  “By prayer, preaching, and all good works of charity he should be solicitous both for their welfare and for that too of those who do not belong to the unique flock, but whom he should regard as entrusted to him in the Lord.”

ü  Be duty bound to preach the Gospel to all.

ü  Spur the faithful onto apostolic and missionary activity.


Shwew.  Is it any wonder men often turn down the job of bishop?  Despite what one might think, it is not a glory job.  In priest circles the phrase is, “Anybody who wants to be a bishop deserves to be one,” and that is not meant kindly.
Continuing the allusion to Ephesians, as the husband is to live up to this type of service to his spouse that Christ gives to His Church, so wife is to love her husband.  What a calling!  That is why they are no longer two but one.  And as a bishop is to serve his people as Christ serves His Church, so the people of a diocese are to turn to their bishop in unity and cooperation.  That they may all be one,” said Jesus.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


When the Michelin Tire Company in France wanted to boost car sales (and subsequently a need for tires) they started rating restaurants.  The idea was to cultivate a desire to travel to see these wonderful places and enjoy their outstanding dishes.  It may seem a trifle, but it was a step toward making us the mobile culture that we are.  It was also a long term project.  It would not change the world overnight.  It was a gentle and patient development of a mindset.


So when Catholics complain about there not being any good Catholic art I ask, “What are going to do about it even if it will not result in a change for you in the next ten minutes?”  That was thrown back on me when complaining that there are not a lot of qualified organists out there.  There is only one organ major at the local university here this year.  Those that are competent at the organ can afford to be choosey.  They want to play where they have a good instrument in a good building, are paid well, are well respected, and can do “good” music.  Way too often this is not the Catholic Church.  Many of our buildings are not designed for music without complicated (and often inadequate) electronic equipment to make up for poor acoustics.  Our instruments are lesser shelf.  We do not pay well (that may never change), and much of our music is schlock with no desire or room to expand our musical tastes.
So, what are we going to do about it?  One thing we are going to try to do (funding is always an issue) is make keyboard lessons available at our parish.  If we can get a good group of youth (or adults) playing keyboard, some may discover a true talent.  Perhaps, since they will be formed in a Catholic setting, they may move to organ and have a desire to play for Mass.  It may not be for any parish that I have anything to do with.  But that is Okay.  If there were 20 parishes in the diocese that did this, then maybe one of the students from another parish will eventually help this community out.
Somebody has to start.  There must be a source somewhere.  The fact that it may not benefit me directly is not an excuse not to try something.  It should be seen like vocations.  Rarely does a man return to his home parish.  But in sending someone out, we can hope to receive someone back from another parish that cultivates vocations.
So do something.  Have your kids take lessons.  Take lessons.  Give lessons.  Pay for a neighbor kid to take lessons.  Let your music ministry people know that you appreciate them.  Promote – fund – appreciate – value – encourage – but above all – DO SOMETHING.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013


At the end of last month fifteen years ago on what used to be St. Joan of Arc day, four of my classmates and I were ordained to the priesthood.  We got together for dinner and to talk – mostly about how quickly 15 years have zoomed by.  Coming out of a time in the diocese when it was unheard of that anybody would be considered pastor material until at least age 55, we thought about where we were not having quite encroached upon that age yet.  One of us works down town at the chancery, two of us are pastors, one of us is a parochial vicar in one of the largest parishes in the diocese, and our fifth member, who was unable to join us, is serving as a missionary in our sister diocese of El Salvador. 


As great at this sounds (and we are all very grateful for our assignments) this is clarion call that we need to do a better job of promoting vocations.  We are where we are because the ranks are thinning.  There is so much good to be done.  There are so many people to help.  There are so many truths to be told.  There are so many sacraments to be celebrated.  There are so many lives to be touched.  And we look at each other across the table and think, “I can’t believe more guys don’t want to do this.”
There may be particular tasks that I don’t want to do, but by and large, I can’t think of anything that I could do that would be as fulfilling as being a priest.  I am a later vocation and worked at various things which I loved, but none of them tops this.
I had every intention of being kicked out of the seminary.  Priesthood was just number one on my list, but the list was long and if they didn’t want me, I would just move on to the next thing.  (Many think once you go into the seminary that’s it!  You are going to be a priest.  But in reality it is a place of discernment a little bit like going to school to be a doctor and determining – on both sides of the teacher’s desk – if you’ve got what it takes.)  But surprise!  I made it!  How fortunate fate has been. 
What helped me on my journey is a history of happy single persons in my family and so celibacy was not such a big, scary factor.  (And now people seem to be afraid of marriage too!)  I wish people would discern better if they are cut for marriage (or even desire it) to the same extent we wish people would discern priesthood. 
But truly, in the end it isn’t about us discerning what we want, but how we can best serve God and then looking for that vocation in life that best fits that calling. 

Monday, June 10, 2013


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Human bareness is the arena for God's interaction."  -?

QUOTE II:  "Change will occur, but it will not be the result of contrived efforts by would be innovators."  Karolyn Kope

QUOTE III:  "The only people who like change is wet babies."  Former Episcopal archbishop of Washington D.C.
Mary sent this in:  "The priest who presents this online retreat converted to Catholicism because he was drawn by the beauty of sacred art in Europe. Gorgeous art is integrated throughout his solid presentations which speak of the truths our Faith with lots of personal, practical application."  An introductory video (5 minutes) can be found here.  You may find his website here.  Thanks Mary.
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."  Now that students are putting away their school supplies for the summer vacation months, it's the perfect time for Catholic families to take part in the diocesan-wide pilgrimage."  One of the chosen parishes is St. Sebastian!  Come visit!  Read more here.
I highly recommend this 5 and half minute video:

This two minute video has an excellent message.  There is one sentence that makes an allusion to a nasty word and so I had some hesitation about posting it but a vote of a number of priests and friends prompted its posting owing to its decent message.  If you are easily offended, please do not watch it.

Sunday, June 9, 2013


So Fr. Pfeiffer of Adam's Ale cartoon fame has been at St. Sebastian for four years, the length of his assignment as of this Tuesday.  That means he will be moving on to greener pastures on his journey toward greener pastorates.  Of course people keep asking me about his leaving . . .
So I gave it some serious thought . . .

As a side note - I can neither prove nor disprove that Fr. Pfeiffer actually did any of these things (or at least more than once.) 
See you around kid.  You were a great parochial vicar.

Friday, June 7, 2013


Paragraph 26 of Lumen Gentium


A buddy of mine was leading a discussion group on the Vatican II documents to help celebrate the Year of Faith and afterwards some of the class went out for dinner.  Sitting on the table was the Flannery addition of the Vatican Council II documents.  I person came by and tapped the book with his finger and said, “You should join our church.  We actually live these documents.”  The person was from a break away parish in our diocese.


“That’s interesting,” replied my friend, “because according to the very documents you site, it says very specifically that we must be connected to our bishop.”
The person did not believe him and went away angry.  Today, in chapter 26 it says just that.  The bishop with his fullness of orders is responsible for celebrating and making sure that Mass is celebrated within his diocese “from which the Church every derives its life and on which it thrives.”  The priest legitimately celebrates Mass when he is connected to his bishop.  (You can’t just decide to open a McDonalds on your own and neither can one open a Catholic Church similarly.)  Each local “altar” the gathered faithful in so far as they are connected to their pastor who is unified with the local see are rightly called Church.  In this we are called to unity in the Body of Christ.  For this reason every Mass is regulated by the bishop who is the local shepherd of souls.
In fact, he is the overseer of all the sacraments – the first preference of the one who may celebrate.  It is his job to sanctify and build up those within the diocese.  He does this first of all by example – living a Christian life and evermore striving to be better at it.
At the other end of this (personal commentary here) his not doing well at this (at least in the opinion of certain circles) is not an excuse for breaking our part of the bargain.  The Church has been filled with poor bureaucrats, misguided churchmen, and downright scoundrels.  But the cure has never been to further cleave open divisions within the Church.  One may be called to do more than the proverbial, “pray like he** and wait for the bodies to float by,” but division is never the answer.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


You are invited to join me on a little project, vicariously as it may be.  I’ve commissioned another painting and would like to take you along for the journey.
Commissioning a painting is a scary thing.  It is much easier to look in a catalogue and point to something you like, order it, and quickly be done with it.  Then all that is left to do is visit the 5 adjoining parishes and visit the exact same statue or painting that dogs your travels like a fast food restaurant.  Who would want to come to you church/home/museum to see something they could go anywhere to see?  How does that inspire?  (When was the last time you got dressed up and made a night of eating at McDonalds?)
The first thing to do (in my book – not all would agree) is find an artist whose style you like and who has created pieces in the past that match what your desires are.  It is important to know your budget right up front.  Have a size and timeline, and basic theme in mind so that a price may be worked out with the artist.  You might suffer from sticker shock so be prepared to say, “Sounds great but I am going to need more time to raise the funds.”


Now here comes the first of the really tricky parts though if you have come this far already, you are very lucky.  How much leeway do you give the artist?  Do you want them to create what is in your head or do you want them to be creative?  Most of the time I look for a happy medium leaning more toward the artist.  If you want a paint-by-numbers painting from your head, don’t expect a priceless work of art.  You have taken away the artist’s inspiration and creativity as they try to simply put color on a canvas from a micromanager.  If that is what you want, hire an artist who paints by the square inch and send them a photo.  (It’s cheaper that way too.)
You do need to have some idea however.  A certain amount of parameters help the creative process.  “I don’t know, do whatever you want” is as unhelpful as micromanaging.  And the right balance changes with the artist.  Some things to be VERY clear about however:  SIZE!  I find artist say, “Yes, yes” . . . and then find that in order to do what they want change the size.  Write it down, state it, and then shake on it.
It is not wrong to have a look at preliminary drawings.  When creating St. Sebastian for example, I might say, “No, no, no!  St. Sebastian was NOT a prepubescent waif,” as many artists seem to want to make him.  Do some research.  The earliest depictions of this saint show him as a white haired older man.  Is that what you want . . .?  What is necessary – what can you live with – what is absolutely out of the question? 
So . . . I have an artist.  Her name is Mother Thomas and she is a cloistered Poor Clare nun in Cleveland.  Learn more about her here.

Also I have a very rough preliminary drawing that we have had a discussion about and now some new sketches are on the way.  I’ll keep you updated. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


“There is a time for everything,” it says in Scripture, but it seems there is none left for silence.  One of the problems with Catholicism is that it takes a lot of thinking and contemplation.  After having a day of constant input of information, facing our bodily desires, seeing the wants of others, in short being tugged in twenty five directions, there needs to be time to process it all and come up with what we hope is the most Godly, the most life giving decisions.
How on earth are you supposed to do that?  From the moment we wake up in the morning there is input of information – much of it passive.  The television goes on, the radio in the car, headphones, computer screens, constant chatter on cell phones, mall music, televisions in restaurants and checkout lines, a busy day at work, and then veging with the television or computer game until, crawling into bed, crashing.  When did you have time to review the day?  To make well thought out decisions?  To consider if the life you are leading is good and nourishing at least to someone?  To give thanks for what was great?  To debate if you are on your life’s goals?  The choice is just to wake up the next morning and plow ahead again.  So instead of deep contemplation our arguments are more along the lines of, “I feel,” and “I like.”
Unfortunately, for many, Sunday Church is like this too.  We walk in late.  (On time would be several minutes before the opening hymn to do some prayer or sit quietly if it is possible at your parish.)  For too many it is a race to get to the end of the service or Mass with no moments of stopping and resting in silence.  (Do I buy that homily?  Is it in keeping with Church teaching?) 


There is value to silence – to facing yourself and your thoughts.  There is value to teaching a child to sit still at Mass and be quiet even if he is bored.  Being able to sit still without Cherrios and toys as a distraction is a great discipline that will serve a lifetime. 
In the end it may not be heresy or government oppression that will do the greatest harm the Church in the United States.  It will be distraction.  It will be the constant and passive input of information contrary to Church teaching.  It will be from a people who no longer know how to be still and know God.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Natural things are dangerous when they seem too divine."  C. S. Lewis
QUOTE II: "A duty is none the worse for being pleasure."  same source.

Adam sent this great article: "Sympathy for the Devil."  Thanks
Every month the diocese sends out a memorandum - what would amount to an inner office memorandum in an office building.  It used to be mailed out to all clergy.  It is now on line saving forests of trees.  You can have a peek at it here.
This is a commercial but I like it:  Thanks Frank