Friday, May 30, 2014


Dei Verbum Chapter III paragraph 11


Have you ever been in a situation to give someone advice and in the middle of it came up with some brilliant insight after which you thought, “Where the get out did THAT come from?”  Maybe it was what God wanted that person to hear and you were the instrument.


In a somewhat similar way (only much more dramatically so) we affirm that, although humans put hand to pen and paper and went through the action of doing the actual writing, it was the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that caused to be written what was written as Scripture.  Not so much that they were simply enlightened but that the Holy Spirit flowed through them and on to the paper so to speak far beyond simply being a muse.  Therefore we emphatically state that the author of the Scriptures was ultimately God Who caused to be written what is needed, no more and no less.

As such we recognize the entire canon of Scripture which was brought together (ironically for Protestants) by the Catholic Church using Sacred Tradition.  There was no single canon of the Old Testament at the time of Jesus.  The Christian Old Testament canon came to form in the fourth century and the New Testament canon after that.  It remains unchanged in the Catholic Church to this day though 500 years ago certain books were removed from the Old Testament by Martin Luther for Protestant Catholics.  It should also be noted that he wished to remove some of the New Testament books also (such as James) but was persuaded against such action.
Interestingly there are some things in your Bible that are NOT considered inspired.  Some of the more obvious ones are the verse numbers and such.  There are other things, however, that are less obvious.  For example, the titles of the books are not necessarily inspired.  Who the authors are of the Gospels or the Acts of the Apostles is not inspired and in some circles debated.  In another twist of irony, it is Catholic Tradition that states the actual authors of the Gospels to be Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
To be steeped in history is to cease being Protestant.

Thursday, May 29, 2014


Remarkable things are discoverable at your parish if you do a little research.  On this 85th anniversary of the founding of St. Sebastian Parish we had three priests return to the parish to celebrate their 50th anniversaries.  They were all ordained on the same day along with another classmate who has since passed away.  There is a relatively well known picture of them just before their ordination day standing around a clock with the founding pastor of the parish, each pointing to a time on the clock indicating what time their First Mass of Thanksgiving would on that Sunday.  50 years later to the day they returned to have Mass.  But this time all at the same hour.
Here are some interesting things we dug up to help celebrate the day:
150:  The number of years these three priests have ministered as ordained clergy to the people of this diocese.  That is a century and a half!
51:  Another priest ordained from this parish a year before joined them.
201: The total number of years of them together.  This is almost as many years as there has been a United States of America.
As a side note, there was a visiting missionary that weekend also who was celebrating 52 years and I could through in my very modest 16 as of tomorrow bringing the total number of years in the sanctuary to 269!

27:  The total number of men ordained to the priesthood from this parish since its inception in 1928.
1,214:  This number represents the total number of years priests ordained from this parish have served SO FAR.  That’s a millennium and a lot of spare change! 
2:  The number of seminarians currently in the seminary from this parish.
5:  The number of pastors that this parish has had over the past 85 years.
38:  This is the number of parochial vicars that have served this parish over the years.  38 men were supported by their parents, relatives, and friends, were prayed for and encouraged by their parishes, to go to seminary and become priests with the understanding that they most likely would minister to someone else.  The idea is that those other communities, where they sent their sons, would also encourage vocations so that sons of other parishes might come to their parish and minister to them, making sure that Christ was present and given to them as Eucharist, to bring pardon to sinners, to preach the Gospel, to counsel those who need it, to teach, and to administer.  Remember that and pray for vocations, encourage young men in your parish, and foster a culture of vocations.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Perhaps you have heard the brouhaha over the new teacher’s contracts in the Diocese of Cleveland.  I do understand the angst about them.  Essentially there is nothing different about them per se, but on the other hand there is something very different about them.
What is not different about them is that there is no new information in them.  What was implied before is now spelled out.  A public life lived in accord with the faith was expected before and is expected now.
What is different is now it is spelled out on more controversial topics.  Living in invalid marriages, publically supporting abortion rights, and a host of other points have been spelled out more explicitly.  This is partly in response to the new healthcare mandates, partly to help stave off litigation, and partly to reestablish a stronger Catholic identity in our schools.

Is it a good idea?  Not being a lawyer or a politician I am not sold either way.  But there is an aspect of this whole dust storm that is coming to light that illuminates a profound misunderstanding about what we are (supposed to be) doing as Catholic schools.  A reading of some Letters to the Editor as of late give example.
One of these letters read something like this: “It is a shame that the Catholic Church is forcing the issue on what constitutes a good Catholic.  By limiting the pool of teachers, we will be missing out on great educators, which can only harm our schools and our students.  We want our kids to have the best teachers.”


Such a statement betrays a deep confusion of the nature of Catholic schools.  A Catholic school is not a public school, it is not even a private school, it is a parochial school.  Unlike public schools which are becoming more and more limited in passing on culture, discipline, ideas of right and wrong, good and evil, or even God, and unlike private schools who are there to simply provide a superior education (hopefully), a Catholic school is also about the formation of the human person, imbuing ideas of the good with very clear ideas of what that is.  She passes on truth, concepts of what is holy, beautiful, and how one should live embracing the respect of life, family, the dignity of the human person, and all that entails with the 2,000 year understanding of the revealed truths of the faith.
It is culture that we are passing on, not simply knowledge.  If it were not for the faith and the culture we would close our schools or make them profitable private schools as has happened to so many of our colleges and high schools. 
So let’s say there is a police officer that comes to your child’s school to teach about staying off of drugs.  He is very effective.  The kids love him.  He is popular with the parents.  But he also has a website promoting illegal drug use and the kids know it.  He admitted to the kids that he regularly uses drugs though they should stay off of them.  He was quoted in the newspaper as saying that drugs should be made legal and available.  No matter how good he is in the classroom and while in the school building, do you really want him teaching your kids about drugs?
Our faith is a culture, not a set of facts in a book.  It cannot be taught like math.  It is caught, not taught.  No one can “teach Catholicism” while living a life contrary to it for then it becomes a dead message.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Earthly temptations come clothed in seductive guises but prove empty once they are indulged.  The things of God are often shabby on the outside but when embraced they prove nourishing and satisfying beyond all expectation."  from Eric Johnson's conversion story.

QUOTE II:  "We know the vanity of the praise of man, which is but a vapour, and buckle on our armour for other purposes than to win it."  from the "Talisman".
From the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter.  Bishop Lennon ordained 6 men to the priesthood for service in the diocese.  For pictures from the Mass and video click here.

Friday, May 23, 2014


Dei Verbum paragraph 10


What do you say when someone says that they no longer believe in the doctrines of the Church?  How do you respond when someone says that they are Catholic but they don’t believe in what “those bishops” say? 


Gee, that’s too bad?


Good for thinking for yourself?


The question is, “What are doctrines anyway?”  They are not the rules that club leaders get to make.  They are the result of two millennia of the study of Scripture and Tradition.  The magisterium may make binding pronouncements that are binding on the whole Church, but they may make up nothing.  They are at the service of, they are the slaves of Scripture and Tradition.  They have a limited set of tools and may make a limited set of products (doctrines.)  In this, though they may get all dressed up in fancy clothes and stand in the sanctuary, they are truly servants to the greater Church.  They may (in their official capacity) only pass on truth to those willing to listen.

Granted, they are sometimes better at stating it than at others, but it is their job as servant leaders.
So here’s how it works:  We have Sacred Scripture.  We have Sacred Tradition.  These two pillars support the Church.  They inform, strengthen, and guide each other.  They are the jewels from which crowns are woven.  They began to take clearer shape in the first centuries of the Church through the practice and teachings of the Church Fathers.  Nothing that Scripture and Tradition has taught us and held as truth may change.  What was taught definitively in the year 200 is still taught in the year 2000.  Over the course of centuries these truths may be defined more clearly, but they may never contradict what went before.  As Chesterton was fond of pointing out, if we say that truth changes, that what was true in the Middle Ages is not true today, we might as well say what is true today may not be true on Tuesday next at 3:15PM. 
So doctrine is a result of the study of that which is true.  For Catholics, doctrine is truth defined.  It is in this Truth that bishop, priest, deacon, religious, and lay persons are united.  That is the hallmark of Catholic Christianity and should not be discarded casually.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


There was the economic bubble that seemed like it would last forever.  Wiser folks held their breath and waited for the bubble to burst.  And it did.
That is the way I feel sometimes about our parish and our parish school.  It is strong at the moment and we are surrounded by parishes with schools almost entirely.  But can that much saturation last?
The Diocese of Cleveland is the 11th largest diocese in the United States, but it has the 5th largest system of schools instructing approximately 47,000 students.  Chicago, which population wise blows Cleveland out of the water, instructs 85,000.  So we have a lot of schools.

In some areas the schools are quite concentrated.  There are good number of reasons for this.  There were once larger families which provided plenty of students for the school.  Many ethnic parishes opened schools right around the corner from diocesan parishes with boundaries which would cater to their specific needs.  School was once free to extremely inexpensive and more families would attend.  It was a practice in the diocese for many years to build a school first and have a church that would later be turned into the school gym when the “real” church was built.  All this (and more) added greatly to the number of schools in this diocese.


Many of those factors no longer exist.  Not as many families have many children, Catholics have fled heavily populated urban areas, many of the ethnic communities have assimilated into the general population, schooling is expensive, and while there is still an emphasis on Catholic education, it is not what it once was.
Many our schools have red flags about them.  The first sign of an ailing school is that the student population falls beneath 200.  Around 150 students serious discussions must be made about the future of the school.  If more than 25 cents of every dollar in the collection basket goes toward the school budget, caution should be taken.  If there is a general trend of falling student numbers over several years, that may be a sign that the school needs great attention.  Finally, if there is no plan, no actions being taken to raise student numbers, reach out to the community, advertise the school, make the school more attractive, then one should be worried.
The problem is (and sometimes the great blessing) that our schools are set up as independent system of schools.  Nobody wants to be the one that says, “I will close my school so that yours may stay open and healthy,” or “Let us all build a regional school that we will all send our children to and close our schools.” 
In the mean time I continue to count my blessings that we have such a strong healthy school and pray that it will continue to be so in the future.  But what does the future hold for Catholic education?  We are waiting for the pioneer saint to assist us.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


"Hey! We've got one of those too at our church!"

This is the result of Catholics ordering their "art" from catalogues.  Our art has been traveling down the same path as our national cuisine.  You may get the same food from coast to shining coast.  Ma and Pa restaurants whither on the vine while American afraid of risk (and indigestion) wait until they see a familiar golden arch or girl with red braids.  When there is only one menu and for our entire nation, maybe then we will yearn for Ma's stew.
Sometimes our Catholic art is like this.  The same statue, the same print, the same vestments from steeple to steeple.  Beauty attracts.  Beauty is also unique.  Beauty is a tool that we too readily throw out.  Beauty attracts many to step food in a Church in the first place.  What is unique and beautiful about your parish that it would attract someone to stop by?
Because of the McDonald's mentality toward art (cheaper, safer, quicker, easier) it is difficult to make it as a Catholic artist.  Below, one of our talented Catholic artists is selling some of his paintings and drawings.  (This is the young man who did the St. Sebastian paintings.)  If interested you may contact him (Eric Armusik)by going directly to his website.  And if you have a few thousand dollars sitting around but don't have a place to hang a painting, St. Sebastian parish would gladly accept as a gift the painting of St. Jerome below!  

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "The once plentiful herd of magazine writers will continue to be culled - by the Internet, by the recession, by the American public that would rather watch TV or play video games or electronically inform friends that, like, rain sucks!  But there's no app for a bourbon fuzz on a warm day in cool, dark bar.  The world will always want a drink."  from Gillian Flynn's, "Gone Girl"
QUOTE II:  "One should never marry a man who doesn't own a decent pair of scissors.  That would be my advice.  It leads to bad things."  same source
QUOTE III:  "It is not enough to think, 'do I want to spend the rest of my life with this persons/'  The equally important question to ask is, 'do I want this person to be the parent of our children?'"  annonymous

There are new contracts for teachers in the Diocese of Cleveland.  Normally these come out without much comment but things are different this year.  Here is how the diocese responds:  Go here.
Ken sent this in.  In case you are wondering I will not be doing this.

Sunday, May 18, 2014


Temptation is a loyal mistress.  She is always there at your beck and call.  She will support you at all costs, give any excuse for you, and if she is in a really good mood, will provide you ample justification for any decision you should make.  She flirts heavily but she is also fickle.  She temps wildly but if you give in to her, she often slaps you on the cheek for being such an easy mark.
Like one of the Sirens of Greek mythology she came tapping at my door last Sunday.  As you may recall, last Sunday was Mother's Day.  We had just finished up all of our Masses, baptisms, meetings, and donuts, and I went to go lock up the church.  Everyone had deserted the parish to spend time with Moms.  My Mom spending Mother's Day in heaven it seemed like a great opportunity to find Sunday rest.  Shedding formal clothes this wonderful late afternoon was to begin with a nap.
I had left a book I was reading downstairs and wanted to get it in order to fall asleep with it.  Walking into my office I saw a strange sight: my message light on my phone was blinking. 
It takes a lot for a message to get through to my phone on a Sunday.  Somebody really, really wanted to get through to me.  They didn't leave a message on the parish phone, they didn't call the emergency line, they wanted me.  At 5:00.  On Sunday.  That happened to be Mother's Day.
That's when temptation hit.
Fortunately my Guardian Angel was more convincing than the Siren.  It was unfair bringing my Mother into the mix, but I understand.  You gotta do what you gotta do.
Returning to my grade school age petulance I jabbed at the buttons (despite my drawing of a rotary phone) and waited impatiently for the message to come up. 
"Please enter your code."
jab jab jab
To listen to your messages press 2.  (Why 2???)
You have one message.  To listen to your new messages press 3.
The following message was sent to you on Sunday, May 11th at 5:00PM
As it turns out, there was an elderly person at the hospital who had never been baptized.  The prognosis was not good and it seemed that sacrament had to take place that day or perhaps not at all.  Returning the call it turned out that I was the only priest in north east Ohio available before night fall. 
I would like to say that I cheerily hopped in my car and went right over.  I would like to, but it would be a lie.  Grumpily I trudged upstairs and redressed in my clerics, stomped over to the church to get all the things I would need for the expedited initiation rites, and back to the car where I slammed the door.
In the driveway my guardian angel slapped my upside the head.  Did I not have any idea what an awesome thing this was?  Did I have no idea what an honor this was?  Did I have any idea how eternity would change for this person?  Was there no understanding of what a great responsibility this was?  Do you remember why you became a priest?!  (For most men, this would have been the role of his wife as she pushed her husband out the door.  I must rely on my guardian angel.)
I took a deep breath and my mood lifted considerably.  What it boiled down to was having to change plans.  I am not good at that.  Change restaurants locations half way to the place decided and I will silently grumble having prepared myself for a particular place already.  Now that this WAS the plan, it was even kind of exciting thinking about what was about to take place.
But wait, there's more:  On the way someone called on my cell to say that another parishioner was in the same hospital and could a pray for that person.  "Better than that!  I'm on my way there!  I will visit!"
How come it is, when you follow God's, things just seem to turn out better?

Friday, May 16, 2014


The Internet being down in the rectory was the only damage we sustained from the storms the past week.  That prevented a post (and a lot of work getting done) yesterday.
Dei Verbum paragraph 9
Scripture says that you must be baptized.
But what does baptism mean?  Who may be baptized?  At what age does it occur?  Who may do it?  How is it done?  Can it be re-done? 


The answers to these questions are not necessarily found in Scripture.  One could extrapolate some answers from Scripture and in fact many do and proclaim what they have come up with as the Truth of Scripture.  Look at the tens of thousands of Protestant denominations that exist; each following the Bible and each certain it holds the truth to these questions as is clearly stated in Scripture and told to them under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  So we have churches that say baptism is regenerative and others simply symbolic, it is only for adults or infants may be admitted, anyone may do it or only clergy, using a Trinitarian formula or only in the name of Jesus, rebaptizing or having the idea of once baptized always baptized.  The whole Christian Church held together in its teaching would look like a very frayed rope, the ends splaying out like a frozen explosion.
How does a Church keep on track?  For the Catholic Church it is not only Scripture but also Tradition.  (We’ve talked about Tradition before – this is not the “we always have Christmas trees at Christmas” kind of tradition but the teachings of Christ that comes down to us from the Apostles through the ages to this day.  It is the teachings of Christ and the practice of the early Church in the first centuries of Christianity.)  So the question is asked, “Should the Church baptize infants?  We look and see that there is no moratorium on this in Scripture and in fact it says to go out and baptize all nations and that entire households were baptized.  Secondly we look at the practice of the Church in the first, second, and third centuries and find that they indeed baptized infants.  And thus Tradition acts as a corrective to our interpretation of Sacred Scripture and Scripture acts as a corrective to our understanding of Sacred Tradition.  They are two rails on a track that keep us in the right direction. 
In an age when we see most Churches changing their teachings at a dizzying pace to keep up with culture, we understand more than ever the necessity of Sacred Tradition to keep us firmly planted.  Go back 100 years and most Churches would be virtually unrecognizable to what they teach today.  Go back 2,000 years and the teachings of the Catholic Church remain the same.  That is the gift of Sacred Tradition.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


In the past week, three separate but similar incidences have occurred with people connect to this parish.  The details of all three are mixed together in order not to embarrass those involved.

It goes something like this:  “Father, I received a phone call from my sister.  They found my mother in a closet and want to know if I want her.  If not they are just going to start throwing everything, including her, into a dumpster.  What should I do?”
This is becoming less and less rare a conversation.  (Life as a priest is interesting.)  The reason it is becoming less rare is twofold:  1) The Church relaxed its rule against cremation and 2) the continued loss of respect for the dignity of the person including and especially the body.  
The first:  Now that the Church is no longer fighting the heresy concerning the resurrection of the body (there were those who were using cremation as a theological statement against the Church’s teaching – go figure) it no longer feels it is necessary to have a moratorium on cremation. 
Unfortunately that coincided (secondly) with a growing mentality of the person as an object rather than a subject (brilliantly pointed out by a priest friend at a recent meeting.  Hi O)  While living, the respect and dignity that we owe other human beings because of their inherent nature of being made in the likeness and image of God (even if they don’t look “right,” or are too small or have thrown in it away . . . ) has greatly diminished causing human beings to be objects to be used.  The greatest promoter of this mentality is porn.  No, if you look at porn today, you will not be a destroyer of humanity tomorrow, but nationally it feeds a mentality that some people can be used and then discarded. 


Abortion double feeds this.  It allows a woman (and in some incidences a man) to be used to fulfill a personal sexual need and when everything goes according to Hoyle and another person is conceived, the baby may be aborted thus cutting any natural ties you may have had with the woman and any responsibility toward the child.  I can walk away.  For much the same reason contraception is frowned upon.
A long list could be developed here but that will suffice.
So now there is Great Aunt Feefee’s ashes.  Instead of treating her body with great reverence and giving ancient custom of respectfully burying the body (even if it is only ashes), the body becomes an object to be used.  It is made into jewelry, passed out like party favors, or kept on display on the mantle until it ends up in a closet and someone else divesting an estate comes across it and throws it in the trash.
OF COURSE holding on to ashes is done with the best of intentions.  People have the desire to be close to their loved one and to have a connection.  But as Catholics we believe in the communion of saints.  The connection we have through prayer is far more real and immediate.  A body is much different than holding on to a rosary or picture or piece of jewelry.  We owe our loved ones the dignity of being a subject in their own right and to treat their body as a former Temple of the Holy Spirit, not an object of our desire to be turned in to a conversation piece.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "'The mind is its own place, monsieur,' said Reine-Marie, 'Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.'"  from Lousie Penny's, "A Rule Against Murder."
QUOTE II:  "It was easy enough to be decent when all was going your way.  It was another matter to be decent when all hell was breaking loose."  same source
QUOTE III:  "Even the most magnificent creatures know how to rest.  Pegasus knows how to soar and chase and glide.  But he also knows how to be at peace."

This was sent in by Ellen:  "Chestertonian friends, Check out the March/April 2014 GILBERT magazine, page 29. Our own Anita Gorman has her fanciful story published: "The Ghost of Alexander Pope"!  Anita shared this story with us at our Warren Chesterton Society meeting just a couple of months ago. It was around the time we were reading a Chesterton essay decrying Free Verse and the lack of rhyme in modern poetry. You will agree that Anita's story fits the spirit of Chesterton quite well! And, it is truly a fun and entertaining read."
Ray sent this picture in of St. Sebastian.  Rather cool I think.  Thanks!
Mary sent in this link to a blog telling the story of a Catholic Church in Chicago that was saved from the wrecking ball.  Thanks!
From the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter:  Meet those about to be ordained to the priesthood in Cleveland!  Read more here and say a prayer for them and all the priests about to be ordained.

Sunday, May 11, 2014


I like to go to concerts.  Not rock concerts . . . well, I do like the occasional rock concert but that is not what this post is about.  It's about going to concerts where the audience is expected to listen.  And I liked to consider myself a normal guy who happens to enjoy going to listen to the creations of persons who, in their own day, were considered the equivelent of rock stars (althought rock n' roll did not yet exist) but that today we give their music the unfortunate moniker of "classical."  Then I discovered, much to my dismay, that I am a snob.  I am.  I am a snob.
Not a snob because I happen to like classical music.  That in itself does not make a person a snob unless one is snobbish about it.  The kind of snob I am talking about is that I thought I was a superior audience member.
(I can't believe I am actually telling you this.  I think it is because it is my public penance for a private sin.)
Here is what I talking about.  I considered myself above hoi polloi who make announcements such as this one necessary:
I mean, there you are, in the middle of a quite interlude of music and someone goes to town like an asthmatic cow that just swallowed a wasp.
The word in the bubble was supposed to be "Really?"

I think of all the things I was taught to avoid interrupting other people's enjoyment of a production.  Swallow.  Live with it until a more appropriate time.  Breathe deeply.
Seriously, couldn't these rude people hold on to their discomfort for a few moments???  Come on! 
It reminds of the line from the movie "Shakespeare in Love" in which a young William, angry at his audience, blurts out, "Will Shakespeare has a play!  Let us go and cough through it!"
Now mind you, this was all just in my head.  But it was there none-the-less.
Then it happened to me.  You know those little plastic swords that they pierce blue cheese stuffed olives with to put in a dirty martini (I only know because I Googled it), it felt like the devil himself jabbed one into the back of my throat.
It was the most exquisite pain ever.
Of course it was during the longest, quietest part of the whole concert.  Nothing I did would relieve it in the least.  I tried swallowing.  Nope.  Ignoring it.  Nope.  It was becoming a bit difficult even to just muscle through.  It was like in the movie "Alien" where Sigourny Weaver is trying not let the baby alien burst out of her body.  Impossible.  I had to try a very subtle clearing of my throat.
It was a waste of time and just added to the annoyance.  The devil in my throat just laughed, jabbed the little plastic sword deeper and started twisting it.  Seriously.
Christ hung on a cross for THREE HOURS and I couldn't take a tiny plastic sword in the back of my throat for three minutes.  I had no soothing throat lozenges with me because of course I would never need them.
My willpower faded like a spring pansy in a late August drought and finally I gave in and let go with a true, loud, horrible cough.
I would like to take this opportunity to truly apologize to anyone about whom I may have thought of poorly because you had to cough during a concert or play.  I now realize that there may have been no other alternative and until I am willing to sit through a concert with a plastic sword in the back of my throat, I shall no longer think the worst but assume you had no other choice.
God bless you.

Friday, May 9, 2014


You might have noticed that there was no post yesterday.


I was sick as a dog (whatever that little saying means.)


I am still under the weather today (whatever that little saying means.)


The difference between yesterday and today is that yesterday was also a calendar packed day and when I had five minutes to sew together I sat in my chair and tried to breath and rest my eyes.  I did only that which had to be done.  Sebastian still needed walked.  Sacraments still needed to be celebrated.  The staff meeting still had to take place.  There was a person who wanted a meeting because she wants to be Catholic – these things you don’t put off unless you really have to.

A week ago I was walking Sebastian around the property and was just overwhelmed at how fortunate I was, not only to be a priest, but to be a priest of this parish.  So many wonderful things take place here.  I just had to stop and give thanks to God – stop everything – pause – and say thank you.
That’s when it hit me: Do I only say thank you when things are going my way?  I do.  Why am I not always thankful?  Ten billion things needed to go right for me to recognized one thing that is not going my way and I can allow that to ruin an otherwise good day.
So today, I am achy, I have a headache, I can’t breathe through my nose, my throat is sore, and I am losing my voice.  But you know what, that just points out to me what a wonderful life I do have normally.  99.99% of the time I can breathe, I do feel good, I do have a voice.  This little glitch should remind me of the great gifts that I do have.  So even though I don’t feel on top of the world today, God, I thank you for the many blessing that there really are present seen a little cloudy today through mucus and interrupted by coughs and sneezes.  You remind me to be thankful for these things I take for granted.  What wonders you give.


So, if I’ve learned my lesson, may I please breathe again now?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


I am ready to die a martyr before getting involved with evangelization.  I don’t want to be one of those guys that people dread seeing on their stoop or avoid passing on the street corner.”
I’ve often dreamed (fantasized) of that before; being martyred for the glory of God and stepping out of this life and directly into the heaven.  But put a Bible in my hand and tell me to go knock on some doors?

Not so much.
But the truth is that evangelization is a collective term for everything that the Church does to bring people closer to Christ.  The act of dying a martyr is in itself an act of evangelization.  A church building (if you can tell that it is a church building) is an act of evangelization.  A rosary on the rear view mirror of your car can be an act of evangelization.
“What’s that?”
“A rosary.  It helps me remember to pray when I am driving.”
“Oh.  Cool.”
Saying grace at a restaurant is an act of evangelization even if it seems to done quite inconspicuously.  (Doing it for show is poor form.)  A crucifix hanging in your home, telling people why you will be late (we’ll get there about noon.  We’ve got to get to Mass first) the type of Christmas cards you send, what you write on your blog, even being joyful is an act of evangelization.


“Why do you seem to handle things so well?


“Truthfully?  My faith helps me keep things in perspective.”
When I was in (public) high school the Catholic students were warned not to put their confirmation name on their graduation certificate.  “It might hurt future job prospects” we were told.  That just made me want to do it all the more.
Of course I became a priest.
The truth is, just about anything you do can be evangelization as long as you are pointing toward Christ.  The first thing to do really is to discover what it is you are already doing that could be considered evangelization.  Most people are surprised that they do so to some extent already.  The next step is to consider the other areas of your life and see if there is anything that could be adjusted in them so that they too could become acts of evangelization.
“Tell you what, instead of meeting you at the party do you want to join us for Mass first and then we can go over together?”
Then, after you are comfortable with that, in prayer, start asking God what could you do that would be a more bold step.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUNDFrom this month's St. Sebastian Chesterton Society:  from "When Wine Was Red:
QUOTE I:  "If (man) is not the image of God, then he is a disease of the dust.  If it is not true that a divine being fell, then we can only say that one of the animals went entirely off its head.
QUOTE II:  "And thus no animal ever invented anything so bad as drunkenness - or so good as drink."
QUOTE III:  "In such things to be careless is to be sane: for neither drunkards nor Muslims can be careless about drink."
from "Cheese"

QUOTE IV:  "If all the trees were bread and cheese there would be considerable deforestation on any part of England where I was living."
QUOTE V:  "You are not approaching Nature in one of her myriad tints of mood as in the holy act of eating cheese."
Pat sent this article in from the Wall Street Journal concerning single parent families. 
Annie Dixon sent this in.  I like it a lot!  Pius, fun stuff.  Hope you think it is as cool also.  Look here.
From the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter: “In his bi-weekly lecture focusing on the works of Vatican II, Cleveland Bishop Richard Lennon cited the developments at the Second Vatican Council which had a profound effect on how the Church trains and develops its priests.”  See video here.

Monday, May 5, 2014


If you've been reading Monday Diary for a few summers, you knew this day was coming.  I, however, lived in a fantasy land where it never would.  So it is about 10:00 at night and Fr. Pfeiffer who was visiting and I take Sebastian (my dog) out for a his last airing out before calling it a night.  It was a peaceful, warm spring night.  Unusually quiet.  We were at ease shooting the breeze when we saw something on the rectory lawn . . .

Yep.  It was a skunk.  We've encountered him before and he has always given us way.  Not so this time.  Sebastian went up to him at a friendly trot, tail wagging, no barking, as though he were going up to meet one of his summer friends that he hadn't seen since last summer.  But unlike past times, the skunk was up against a wall and perhaps feeling a bit trapped shot its load right in Sebastian's face.
The poor dog was at one time confused that a friend would do this to him and utterly disgusted at the way he smelled - a new experience for him.  After the mournful, barbaric yelp, he started shaking his head and diving face first into the grass.  I wonder if he didn't have his mouth open when he got shot because he was also foaming at the mouth.  It was pathetic - but pathetic in a funny way.  We wanted to feel sympathy but it was just too funny.

Until it wasn't.

Friday, May 2, 2014


Dei Verbum Paragraph 8


It seems the Episcopal Church is going through what the Catholic Church did a couple of decades ago.  Speaking with broad strokes, we stopped teaching rules and dogma and focused on “Jesus loves you,” which is great, but knowing Jesus loves you and knowing what that means are two different things.  We need both or we run into trouble.
The latest marketing slogan from the Episcopal Church that is found on signs, bumper stickers, and marquees is, “God loves you.  No exceptions.”  Which, once again, is great.  As Catholics we thoroughly believe this.  God cannot not love you or He wouldn’t be the source of all love.  But what the bumper sticker doesn’t say is, “And that love requires something of you.”

That something is expressed in the teachings handed on to the Apostles by Jesus.  Those teachings, Paul stresses, given by word of mouth (Tradition) or by letter (2 Th. 2:15), are to be jealously guarded and fought for.  This revelation of God and His will are handed down in Scripture and Tradition and is safeguarded by the Church in its entirety (including you) for every generation.
This is aided and spearheaded by the Holy Spirit Who, though there will be no new revelation, continues to lead the Church into all truth by allowing her to fall more deeply into the truths already revealed to her.  (Think of the teachings of St. John Paul II on the Theology of the Body.  Everything he taught us was already there, but he brought it together and explained it in a new and exciting way.)  Thus the Father continues to speak to the bride of His only begotten Son and through her to the world.