Friday, August 30, 2013


I remember sitting on the front lawn of my hometown with kids from the neighborhood, each of whom when to another Church.  Of course the question on our minds was, “How can we know that we are in the right Church?”  Those innocent ponderings has always been on the mind of people of faith.  In fact, it was so wondered upon that a formula was developed – a four part litmus test – to see if a Church is the True Church founded by Christ.  You already know it though perhaps unwittingly.  Here it is: the True Church must be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.  (Which seems easy enough though one must then go through the process of defining one’s terms.)
One, to which we now turn in our journey through Lumen Gentium (39), is holiness.  The Church is called to be “holy.”  So holy, in fact, that Christ gave Himself up for His Bride, the Church, so that she might be sanctified and made perfect.

“But wait,” you might say, “I know plenty of stories about the Church where not so holy stuff has happened.  In fact, there is this pastor over at . . .  well that’s a little off topic but you get what I mean.”  That the Church is holy does not mean everyone claiming to be a part of her is holy or that it can institutionally not sin.  The Church is made up of sinners and as such things happen.  We are all at different spots on the journey.
But what are the fruits of those who follow her well?  They end up in glass and wood and stone.  Those who most conform themselves to her purifying will are called saints for they have striven to be more like their Creator.  We call them saints. 
A second means by which we judge something to be holy or of God is that they are also fruitful.  Do they lead others to God?  Look at a religious order that is taking off and sustains or grows in number.  Something is happening there.  There is a perfection in love.  A sign of growing in actual holiness is that it desires and assists others to grow likewise whether privately or in a Church recognized fashion.  It desires others to be holy.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


Which in translation means, “I don’t like organized religion.”  Of course the alternative is disorganized religion.  And if there is anything that anybody loves more it is that which is disorganized.
There was a teacher I had in 6th grade who was getting married to the other 6th grade teacher (a woman by the way.)  One day he was sharing his philosophy with us.  His fiancé believed in organization.  He did not.  “Look at her desk,” he pointed out, “everything is where it is supposed to be.  If something is missing, it is really missing and she panics.”  Then he took us over to his desk which looked more like a pile of paper and gum wrappers.  “That, my boys, is called disorganized organization.  If something is missing, I don’t panic like she does.  I know what I need is somewhere in there and it will turn up at some point.  I think I’m a lot happier.”


An interesting way to live life.  I tried it for a spell.  It works Okay as long as there are no emergencies or deadlines.  In a pinch I’ll take organization any day over going through trash cans and drawers for the 3rd or 4th time, finally finding an important document being used as a bookmark in a spy novel.
Disorganized religion in translation means: no responsibility.  Nobody ask anything of me, expect anything of me, nor expect me to follow or to lead.  My religion is a private affair.  This is always a plan for building something great.
Art is often taught this way.  It is all about self expression.  Don’t give the child any real rules because you will stifle his creativity.  In actuality, you ARE stifling his creativity by not giving rules which are the tools by which becomes most capable of expressing that very creativity.  Great artists are first rigorously taught methods, forced to study the great ones that have come before them, and given fierce regiments to follow before the reigns are let go.  Then they can truly create what is burning in their hearts because they have been given the tools.
Of course, when we are talking about faith, that is about a relationship not a talent so the rules are different.  Right?  Absolutely not.  A disorganized relationship either fails or becomes “dysfunctional.”  There are all kinds of organizational aspects and ritualistic moments in relationships that really go someplace.  This is when we eat dinner.  This is when we celebrate our anniversary.  This is how we spend our vacation.  These are the people with whom we spend vacation.  This is where we call home.  This how we divide up our jobs.  These are the ways in which we show love.  This is the story of how we met – how he proposed – our first celebration of Thanksgiving – how we felt when we had our first child.


To tell the truth – institutional religion can be a pain.  Institutions do not love people – only people love people.  Institutions are interested in keeping things on track, organizing, building, expanding, growing, keeping a pulse on the mission, self examining, calling back to the fold, can be plodding, dictatorial, and blind to a person’s short comings.  People are then added into the fold to love.  The combination allows great things to happen.  Minds and souls are expanded, we are forced to break out of ourselves and reach out toward the other in a more radical way, we become part of a greater cause larger than ourselves, we hold accountable and are made accountable, the best within us is encouraged and the worst suppressed. 
Institutions sometimes fail and in a grand way – but never like when we go at it alone.  And when they do go awry who brings them back?  People.  And when people go awry what mechanism is there to bring them back to truth?  Institutions.
From an article by Rabbi Peter Wolfe:  But institutions are also the only mechanism human beings know to perpetuate ideologies and actions. If books were enough, why have universities? If guns enough, why have a military? If self-governance enough, let’s get rid of Washington. The point is that if you want to do something lasting in this world, you will recall the wise words of French Catholic writer Charles Péguy: “Everything begins in mysticism and ends in politics.” Got a vision? Get a blueprint.
Spirituality is an emotion. Religion is an obligation. Spirituality soothes. Religion mobilizes. Spirituality is satisfied with itself. Religion is dissatisfied with the world.
To read more of his article, go here.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Yes, I saved America from complete annihilation.  But you have to understand, I was having a good day, my spouse was being extra kind, I was caught up at work and just received a raise, my son had just told me that he loved me and all that combined with a little bit of grace and luck made it all possible.  But yes, I did it.”
Okay, once in a blue moon you might hear someone speak thusly, but most of the time it’s, “Yah, I did that.  It was difficult, but I pulled it off in the end.  Thanks to everyone who helped me achieve such a great thing.”


The opposite seems to happen when we have sinned.  In a way, I think this is good.  We strongly desire to be aligned with the good and so want to identify the good more closely with ourselves.  And realizing that evil is ugly, disordered, destructive, and disdainful, often a person will, perhaps even unwittingly, try to distance himself from the action.
“Yes, I tried to annihilate America.  But you have to understand, I was having a very bad day, my spouse was nagging me, I was swamped at work and my boss was breathing down my neck, my kids were rebelling, and all that combined with a little drink and some sleepless nights led me to do it.  But, yes, I tried to do it.”
As a confessor, though in this latter scenario I can see true symptoms of goodness, (they are confessing after all!  Fantastic!  And they are trying to distance themselves from evil.  Good.) it seems to me they are just one final step away from greatness.  Responsibility and freedom.
Let me preface this by saying that confessions is not supposed to be a counseling session as an emergency room is not a place to have physical therapy.  Different arrangements are made for each of these.  The confessional is an emergency room for the soul.


So when someone comes in who is serious about finding healing for their wounds, it can be pretty impressive, but not as much so when followed by, “But . . .”  The “but” might be completely legitimate, but in this moment, is the penitent taking ownership of their actions, or are they saying that in some great extent, it really wasn’t their fault?  If it really wasn’t the penitent’s fault, that he was coerced, or forced, or deranged, then it really wasn’t completely in their free will that the person acted and then, perhaps, if completely coerced, not really a sin at all.  Put away the tickertape and the streamers, this heroic confession just turned ordinary.
In truth, I don’t think that the penitent really wants to deny that a particular action was really a sin (he or she is confessing it after all) and perhaps he is just trying to understand how he could have done such a thing.  So it isn’t really something on which to dwell in the confessional.  But here is a secret – according to the laws of the universe in relation to Free Will, we can only love to the extent that we can hate.  Not that we have to actually hate (or love) but we must be capable of it.  If we can not but love, then we have no Free Will – we are puppets on a string and we do not need a Savior.  But as it is, we are capable of hate (Sept. 11th) and therefore capable of astronomical acts of love (World Youth Day).
In 1521 Martin Luther said, “If you sin, sin boldly!”  I do not hold to his advice but rather, “If you have sinned, confess boldly!”  In this way we take full ownership not only of our good works but of our sinful ones.  Presenting ourselves naked as it were before God, we can trust more boldly in his mercy, be that much more open to His grace, that much more unburdened, have that much more joy, be much more healed, experience that much more freedom, and be reminded also how great a capacity we have for love.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUNDThis week's quotes taken from last month's Chesterton Society of St. Sebastian reading of the first half of, "The Man Who Was Thursday."
QUOTE I: “It may be conceded to the mathematicians that four is twice two. But two is not twice one; two is two thousand times one.” 
QUOTE II: “Thieves respect property; they merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it.” 
QUOTE III: “Moderate strength is shown in violence, supreme strength is shown in levity.” 

Mike, a member of our Chesterton Society sent this link to an article about Chesterton the mystic.  Thanks

Fr. Damien Ference, one of my favorite writers in the diocese, has a great article on Michelle Knight's mercy.  You may read it here.  Good going brother.

From the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter, "The three First Friday Club luncheon speakers series in the Diocese of Cleveland will hold their respective luncheons beginning at noon on Thursday, September 5, and at noon on Friday, September 6, 2013."  Read more here.

Do you want to know how many priests there are in the US?  How many graduate school seminarians?  How about how many parishes there are in the whole world?  How many parishes do not have a pastor or are run by non-clergy?  Find out the answer to these questions and more here.
Fran sent this short video on.  Nothing but fluff here - but it is cute.  But is it real??

Sunday, August 25, 2013


This past Friday I was walking my dog Sebastian around the park and a lady stopped me and asked if I were a Catholic priest.  (I imagine that does not happen too often to priests and ministers who do not walk around in any kind of identifiable garb.)  She was just curious and wanted to ask some questions . . .
There is still a certain amount of mystery surrounding the priesthood.  I think that simply because we don't get married sometimes people get the idea that this extends to all kinds of areas in our lives . . .

But really, in most aspects of our lives, we live just like most people.  When people ask me if I am allowed to do something while they themselves are engaged in the exact same actions I generally tell them, "If you are uncomfortable seeing your priest doing this, chances are that you should not be doing it either." 
It occasionally is annoying to be asked if we may do what other people take for granted but to tell the truth, every once in a blue moon, somebody is right.

Friday, August 23, 2013


DON’T – JUST DON’T!”  It is one of the great failings of the teachers and catechists of the Church that much of our teaching is conveyed via negativa.  In this way it seems much more like we are a faith of limiting, stifling, of making life boring.  What a tragic and huge mistake!  The purpose of the faith is to do exactly the opposite!  As these last two paragraphs of Lumen Gentium make clear that we are “constituted to live in royal liberty and, by self abnegation of a holy life, overcome the reign of sin in (our)selves.”  Where most of the world desires license to do as one wants, the faith desires that you have the liberty to thrive, physically, mentally, and spiritually in joy – now and for all eternity – in the way that you were created to be!


I went to the doctor and he gave me a long list of foods that he said I had to give up.  It was the most depressing meeting.  And fish, of course, was not his negative menu.   What would have been better was a course on great food and encouragement on how great it would be for me.  Instead it was, “Olives will kill you.   Do not eat olives.”  I’ll get right on that.”

Summing up this section, every Catholic lay person is anointed priest, prophet, and king and is responsible for the spreading of the kingdom.  As you do this, bear in mind the goal: to bring people to life, joy, and true freedom.  This is a much better line than, “Stop that or you’re going to hell.”  It may be true, but does living with such negative people sound any more appealing?
To this end, the laity has the right to ask from the Church what it needs to accomplish these goals.  The laity also has the right to express their opinions to the institutional Church as it pertains toward these goals.  There is a certain amount of obedience that is called for then.  Not a happy topic.  But somehow a decision must be made concerning which direction we will head because until that is done, we can’t really move forward.  So pray for those acting on behalf of the institutional Church that they may be wise, active, and full of the Holy Spirit that we may accomplish all of these lofty goals.
Pastors must recognize the rights of the laity and foster their works.  Not everything can be or should be done by the ordained or even necessarily controlled by the ordained.  Go!  Spread the Good News without me!  There is more than enough work for everybody! 


Next time:  Call to Holiness

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Things like this crack me up: This is an excerpt from article that appeared recently, “Ultra-modern Catholic churches ‘sometimes go wrong,’ failing to reflect the essential elements of the faith, said Cardinal Gianfraco Ravasi, prefect of the Pontifical Council for Culture.” 
Did you even know that we had a Pontifical Council for Culture?  Yet there it is.  Is it not amazing that we have a Church that is so large and can have such a significant sway on the world that we would even have a need for Pontifical Council for Culture to analyze, report, and make suggestions for improvement?

As it is said, “Size doesn’t matter.”  You might have the largest religion in the world, but if it isn’t true who cares?  But as it is, the Catholic Church is the largest Christian Church in the world (even if you add up every Protestant Church in one huge bunch, they would still not match the number of people in the Catholic Church) AND I happen to believe that she holds the fullness of truth.  That makes having a Pontifical Council for Culture all that much cooler.
There is a local non-Catholic Church that is very excited that they now have three campuses in very diverse neighborhoods.  We have 221,055 parishes that make just about anybody’s idea of being diverse silly.  And when other Churches are excited about going to a country where a disaster has occurred to help, chances are that the Catholic Church has already been there ministering for as long as people can remember and will be there after the present emergency has passed.  Today, we will clothe more people, educate more people, feed more people, shelter more people, give medical treatment to more people than any other institution on the planet. 
And how many organizations out there can go toe to toe with such institutions as the United States government or with the United Nations?  What other institution out there is there of this caliber that is still speaking out for the rights of the unborn?  What other powerful group has not fallen to the pressure of modern cultural pressure who can do something about it? 


Who else has a Pontifical Council for Culture????

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


There were two concerts this past weekend, in the park across the street from the parish.  The first one on Friday night was a big band concert with a live, local band.  The band leader would introduce the song, the band would pick up their instruments and play.  At the end of a particularly good solo the audience would clap.  Though there may have been some talking, most of the attention of the audience was directed toward the stage.  At the end of the piece, the audience would show their appreciation by clapping varying by how much they enjoyed it.  A soloist might be reintroduced, “That was Skip Johnson on the saxophone,” and the audience would clap again.
Saturday night was a Gospel Celebration “concert.”  Instead of a music director there was a DJ.  Instead of human beings with instruments, there was a CD playing with (very loud) speakers.  When the music played people talked over it.  At the end nobody clapped, nobody received recognition, even the DJ had difficulty making herself heard over the talking, and then went on to the next song by a different musical organization on a different CD by a different recording label.
Even in art we are moving further and further away from the human experience.  From self-serve gas stations, to automated phone “help lines”, to shopping on line, we need actual human contact less and less and less.  And as we need other less, we appreciate them less when we do see them.  (Ugh!  I know that clerk is going to come over here and ask me if I need any help.  I wish he would leave me alone!)  Similarly, as we surround ourselves with virtual art, (posters, recordings, catalogue statuettes,) we appreciate true art less when we experience it.  (Can’t this polka band play some Metallica?  If it were a DJ he could just pop it in.)


The Church, when she is her best self, eschews this virtual experience of art.  Recordings are not permitted at the Mass where the Godly and the truly human experience are to meet in their rawest forms.  Recorded music (which, like prints of art and reproductions of statuary) has its place, but is a tragedy and a failing when used during those times in which we are to demonstrate our most human selves.  It is like watching Mass on T.V. or texting your spouse a happy 50th anniversary.  Epic failure.
What happens when all of our art is virtual – when we only have recorded music, posters, and plastic, mass produced sculptures?  We lose touch with the human spark of inspiration, spontaneous innovation, individualization that spawns localization.  Art becomes fashion and as bland as the culinary landscape has become – McDonalds from sea to shining sea.  It becomes as silly as buying a souvenir designed, manufactured, and sent from China (and where the proceeds will go) to remember your trip to Ireland. 
The tide can change.  All it takes is people to do something.  Support the arts.  Participate in the arts.  Go to a play.  Introduce your children to arts and teach them how to experience it.  When you see a street musician put some money in the case and if they are good, give them more.  STOP and listen to them for a moment.  When buying a souvenir, consider looking for something actually made in the place that you visited.  (Yes, it will cost a little more.)  When looking for something to go on that wall, consider getting something a human being has created – go to the local arts and crafts fair or artist’s shop.  It is riskier and it is Okay to make a mistake but in the meantime you’ve supported the arts.  If you can, hire a trio instead of a DJ.  Donate (every little bit helps) to a local school of arts, or museum, or theater, or organ project, or ballet, orchestra, opera, or city arts program.  Go listen to concert, even it is for free by the city.  Get as close to the human experience as possible.  Make possible the culture for art to flourish when and as you can.  Do your part to keep us human.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Although some people were surprised that an author of books about riots, orgies, and cannibalism would become a devout Catholic, (Evelyn) Waught felt it quite natural.  'You have no idea how much nastier I would be if I was not a Catholic,'he said.  'Without supernatural aid, I would hardly be a human being.'"  h/t to Jim Casey for finding that one.
Apologies for their not being a post yesterday (and today's being so late.)  It is the first day of school and there are a number of new employees.  But everything, though time consuming, went well.
The Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter asks, "Did you know, your opportunities to make the Diocesan-wide pilgrimage are quickly winding down?  Most Reverend Richard Lennon, Bishop of Cleveland has designated five parishes as pilgrimage sites in the Diocese of Cleveland for the 'Year of Faith.'"  Read more here.  See you at St. Sebastian!
This is a three minute video that is a scandalous commentary on modern culture.  It is both funny and tragic.  It is called Dannon Yogurt with Birth Control on the Bottom.  Keep in mind the title before deciding to watch it.  Find it here.

Friday, August 16, 2013


There s a saying that goes like this, “He who is polite to you but rude to the waiter is not a polite person.”  Manners cannot be a veneer.  You are either a person of manners or not.  One is to be solid mahogany or be considered a charlatan. 
So it is with faith as we see today in paragraph 36 of Lumen Gentium, bringing us dangerously close to the end of this chapter.  The Catholic way of living the Christian life cannot be something we wear when convenient.  The Church is not something one joins, it is something one becomes.  Just signing up at the local Catholic parish does not make one a Catholic anymore than does an Italian become Irish because he wears a “Kiss Me I’m Irish” T-shirt.  There is a life to be lived.
Christ was exalted by God because of His obedience to the will of the Father and the extreme living out of that life in a world hostile to it.  He handed on that life to the Apostles and, in turn, to each of us.  So we cannot think that faith is something to do for an hour on Sunday, before meals, and for a few seconds before going to bed at night, it is who we are to be.


And like Christ and apostles we are not just to live it for ourselves.  Among the offices into which we were anointed at our baptism is that of the kingly office.  It gives us mandate to involve ourselves into the temporal workings of this world when they do not serve the proper means and ends of the human person.  We are to steer our homes, schools, communities, governments, workplaces, our very world into the right order before God.
There are two pitfalls here.  The first is the thought that the goal is just to win and turn everyone into Catholics.  The point is not to be on the winning side but to bring true joy and freedom to all.  It is like debating.  If your goal is just to be right, even if you are you will not win friends.  If your goal is to bring someone to truth, then you have a much better chance of winning over your opponent. 
The other side of the coin are those who think you simply want to ram your religion down their throats.  (Of course what nobody sees is that they too want to ram their beliefs – even secular as they may be – down your throat.  There is the mistaken idea that there is some sort of neutral position.  There is not.  Every belief, even atheism comes with presuppositions that cannot be scientifically proven.  Hence Atheism is a belief.)  Never think because your position happens to be Catholic that you have no right to share it and to try to imbue your nation with its ideas.  EVERYONE has that right and you are not a second class citizen.  Youy voice is just as important and civilly valid as anyone else’s trying to sway the nation.
There is a way in which we were designed to live.  And it is living that life that gives us the best chance at joy.  It is our mission to do what we can to establish true justice, love, and peace.  “The laity enjoy a principal role in the universal fulfillment of this task.  Therefore, by their competence in secular disciplines, and by their activity, interiorly raised up by grace, let them work earnestly in order that created goods through human labor, technical skill and civil culture may serve the utility of all men according to the plan of the Creator and the light of His Word. . . and in their own way may be conductive to universal progress in human and Christian liberty.”

Thursday, August 15, 2013


It is time to return to the ancient craft of thinking.  We have handed over so much of our thinking to remembering devices and calculating devices, and instead of freeing up our brains for more lofty endeavors, have mindlessly given over that time to other devices that whittle away life for us while we put thinking on hold aside from wondering who might get kicked off of the island next.
As a counter to this a book was recently suggested to me: Peter Kreeft’s, “Socratic Logic; A Logic Text Using Socratic Method, Platonic Questions, and Aristotelian Principles.”
There’s a winning title.
And I will admit, as admirably as Mr. Kreeft tries to make it a fun exercise, it is a lot of work learning how to think.  But the pay offs are magnificent.  Like learning another language, if you can put up with the long fuse, the boom at the end is well worth it.
I would love have a course like this taught in our parish school and even open it up to the rest of the parish.  (We shall see.)  This is for two reasons: first, it would prevent people from embarrassing themselves writing mindless drivel as Mr. Richard Kunkel did in his letter to the editor in the Akron Beacon Journal on Wednesday, August 14th concerning abortion, and second, it would help students to see mindless drivel when it appears before them.


There is so much to write about in this letter I doubt I can do it in one post but here are some high – er – lowlights.  After stating that a recent letter to the editor really made him think, he wrote, “Suppose Honda had a bad model, and it was recalled.  Should we make a law forcing Honda to close?  Or how about a law that would close every automaker in the state?”  Is this a fair comparison?
To begin with, Honda does not design anything that is intended to kill anybody.  Their products are supposed to be convenient and safe.  Therefore, if something goes wrong, we make them fix their product and make them safe once again.  Abortion is not designed to keep a person safe but to kill them.  If we don’t want people killed, then yes, we do shut them down.
Further, the product that Honda makes does not affect the morality of a nation, the family structure, religious freedom, or health care.  It is a false example.  A better one would be independent brain surgery clinics (if such a thing existed.)  If they were in violation should we keep letting them perform brain surgeries and work with them in eventually coming around to being a safer clinic?  No.  I would say stop all surgeries now.
Mr. Kunkel also states that the only problem here is that one group doesn’t want abortion so therefore it should be legal.  Really?  There are (essentially) three groups out there: those who want abortion, those who don’t, and those somewhere in between.  In a democracy such as ours that is always the case and we vote to see what we should do.  For example, there are a great number of people out there who enjoy smoking.  There are those who think it should not be done in public, and the somewhere in between group.  I could use his same argument to say that only one group wants there to be no smoking in our country – therefore the rest of us should be able to smoke next to him at his favorite restaurant.  Bet he doesn’t buy it.  (All of a sudden his call for tolerance disappears.)


Ah!  See?  I’m already going too long.  But I can’t stop.  “If you don’t want abortion, don’t have one,” is another tired and silly diatribe.  He likens it to, “If you don’t like alcohol, don’t drink,” as if it were an equal case.  How about this better one: If you don’t like racial prejudice, don’t use racial slurs, but don’t trample on the rights of those who want to use them or burn crosses on public property as long as they have a permit.  But that hardly solves the problem.  (And really, there is only one group that wants us to get rid of racial inequality – right???)

And he calls this a “war on women.”  Switching the conversation to women’s health and rights is a clever way of covering over what is at the center of this debate: another innocent human being.  It is a war on humanity and the rights of the weakest and least politically connected among us.  And as we become a nation that takes the throwing away of human life more and more easily, we become less human, appreciate all human life less, and take another step backward in the advancement of human dignity, worth, and love.
Last point and then I will try to stop.  Mr. Kunkel states that we should be able to do whatever is legal and not be unfettered “by my or anyone else’s dislike.”  The tyranny of tolerance.  Of course what I want to do may be in direct contradiction to what you want to do.  Who gets to win?  My Aunt had a neighbor who put in a chimney that met code but only caused smoke to be trapped between the houses and forcing smoke into her house, leaving an odor and making a mess.  Yet it was legal.  Was the neighbor therefore morally in the right because the city said they had their hands tied because he was up to code? 
And once again (I know, I said I would stop) we forget the idea that there is a human person in the womb.  He was a human person at conception, as he develops he is a human person, and he will only ever be a human person as he develops.  He struggles for life and will be born and grow if we let him.  I would say these are signs of what this human person wants.  But we silence him so that he does not have a say and we can do away with him without giving him any real consideration.  It is legal after all and therefore must be morally right and good for us as a nation.  Right?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013



One person is angry, the other is Okay.  One feels slighted, the other thinks nothing of it.  One person is always down, another decides to be happy.
When I was a kid we lived "on top of the church" and so I was always being sent over to serve when there was nobody else available in our tiny Catholic parish.  One day, walking in to the sacristy, the pastor said with some surprise showing on his face, "You again!"
"Yeah," I said in a  dejected tone, "I have to serve again."
The surprise look on his face changed to a very somber and serious one.  "No," he said both kindly and emphatically, "you get to serve again."
On that note, this is reminder that tomorrow (Thursday) is a holy day of obligation.  We get to go to Mass that day to celebrate something very near and dear to the heart of a Catholic: The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Check you local parish(es) for Mass times.
For those near to St. Sebastian, we have a vigil Mass tonight at 7PM and on Thursday we have 9:00AM Mass, 5:15 extraordinary form, and a 7PM Mass. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "The man who is moved to over eat or over drink does not at all necessarily resolve a life long of gluttony or drunkenness.  If anything he's far more likely to assure himself that this is the very last time he will indulge in either.  He reaches out his hand toward the decanter in order to fortify with one more glass his resolve to become a T-totaler."  C. S. Lewis
QUOTE II:  "If you want to win the war you've got to pick the right battles."  This take on the old saying is from the X Files.

Possible new saint on our hands???  The cause for G. K. Chesterton is being opened!  Read more here.  Thanks Brian.

Have you seen the stories about the "angel priest?"  Here is a blog post about it that resolves who the priest is.  But that still doesn't make the story any less cool - the sacraments were what was special and did what they were intended to do.  Thank for the posting.
OK, this was actually pretty cool.  Mary sent in a flash mob doing a painting. 

And in case you want to see the original painting go here.

Monday, August 12, 2013


Kids - LISTEN TO YOUR PARENTS! They may be old but they know a thing or two.  You may have heard them tell you that it is very unwise to put anything about yourself on the Internet because anything you post is out there forever.  It is.  Always think twice.  For just when you think you have life all together - *WHAM * - something comes back from your past Internet life to haunt you. 
And to tell the truth, this is not new and it is not just the Internet.  In our modern age, we are camera happy and SOMEBODY out there always has a copy of an embarrassing picture of you.  JUST FOR EXAMPLE . . . one of my beloved classmates just sent me this picture that he somehow found . . .
Yes, I am in the above picture.  How he got a hold of this picture I do not know.  There was a time when this Slovenian boy danced with the Hungarians.  It was fun.  We toured all over north east Ohio and made a few bucks and ate a lot of free Hungarian sausage and deep fried dough.  I am sure there are pictures of me in many a grandma's photo album.
In fact, when I die, it would be interesting to find out just how many people have pictures of me - well - not ME per se, people always have been interested in the clothes I wear.  In Rome I found out why so many local priests do not wear their clerics.  I couldn't walk 50' without someone wanting my clothes in their picture:
I either worked for or belonged to many organizations that required special clothing.  I used to work for the Yankee Peddler Festival at the Doc Spellbinder's Medicine Show which meant I spend the whole weekend walking around in a colonial clothing and having my picture taken.
The funny part was that many of these things were over the weekend.  I was also an organist for my home parish and would often have to play in some sort of costume because there was no time to change.  So one weekend I was someone from colonial America and the next I was in a band uniform. . .
It was particularly interesting when I worked for Revenge-O-Grams in their murder mystery weekend department.  One weekend I was Chinchinisad and had just been murdered before I had to high tail it out of Punderson State Park to make it to the 4:00 Mass in time to play the opening hymn.  That was perhaps a little disturbing. 
But just in case someone out there might have pictures that would be best left in a drawer, I want to get the worst out of the way so that I need not live in shame and fear that it might come out some day. 
I worked for a couple of years at Christmas time for Higbees.  We did Christmas shows at the breakfasts they served.  The really talented people got to work at the down Higbees with Mr. Jingaling.  The rest of us were farmed out to the malls where we worked with various and sundry Santa Clause impersonators.  Yes.  I was a Higbees Jingle Bell Rocker.

Friday, August 9, 2013


The gist of my homily last weekend was: “This ain’t heaven.”  Which is why, according to Michner, God gave us mosquitoes.  No matter how great life here may be, those little buggers remind us that there’s got to be something better.


In the mean time, that does not stop us from doing our best to make this life a blessing.  We live in a state that some refer to as, “Already/Not Yet.”  Jesus Christ has come and in reality, death and sin have already been defeated – the end is clear – the battle is won.  It is like the mathematical certainty of the population of the United States and Europe is headed for a sharp decline due to smaller families, contraception, and abortion.  At this point there is nothing to be done except try to minimize the damage.  The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.  We can either participate in it or, for some strange reason, choose to join those who have already lost.


That being said, His Kingdom is not yet fully established here on earth.  It won’t be until He comes again.  We are living in the aftermath of war waiting for our cities to be rebuilt.  The government is not yet fully established, order does not yet reign supreme.  (This may be overstating the case a bit, but I think it helps one imagine the state we are in.  We are rejoicing, but not yet fully.)


So in this next uber long paragraph of Lumen Gentium (35), the laity, in particular, are given their marching orders toward the building up of the Kingdom.  To aid us until the King comes to fully establish his rule, he sent us not only a hierarchy but the laity.  Interestingly the document says that he gave us “not only the hierarchy” but also the laity to fulfill the prophetic office to the world.  Once again the documents call the Church’s people to their proper roles.  There are no passive members of the Catholic Church and in this role, hierarchy and laity alike are held to the same level of responsibility. 


Once again, whatever you are doing today, wherever you go, whomever you meet all can be used to advance the Kingdom of God, bringing people over to the side of life, freedom, and dignity.  In fact, the laity can do this more effectively because their efforts are, “accomplished in the ordinary circumstances of the world.” 


Of high importance is married and family life.  (Today more than ever!)  More often than not at the end of a wedding homily I remind a couple that their marriage is not just for them.  It is for me, the servers, the people attending the ceremony, their future children, and all those with whom they will come in contact throughout their married life.  They are going to live the inner life of the Trinity – love between two persons that is fruitful and becomes a third person, a community of love that spills over and nourishes the community now and in the future.  “Hence by their example and testimony, they convict the world of sin and give light to those who seek truth.”


WOW!  Think of that today as you are taking the trash out, mowing the lawn, driving to work, loving your family, or going over to the neighbors for beers and brats.  THIS IS YOUR CALLING and the purpose of marriage.


FURTHERMORE, the Church foresees times when there will not be clergy present.  For example, in times of persecution the laity are called to supply sacred functions to the best of their abilities.  (Now that doesn’t mean trying to consecrate bread or forgiving sins, but the door, in emergencies, is open wider than most people think.)


“Let the laity, therefore, diligently apply themselves to a more profound knowledge of revealed truth and earnestly beg of God the gift of wisdom.”


Again I say, “Wow.”