Friday, December 30, 2016


GIRM 107 - 110

My father was a difficult man with whom to play volley ball.  He was that guy that liked to play everybody’s position for them.  I could stand through an entire game and not have to to
uch the ball. 

In the same way, liturgists will tell us that ministries should not be all done by one person: lecturing, serving, and distributing communion all at one Mass.  Neither should they be artificially divided up in order to give as many people as possible a chance to “do a ministry.” So, for example, a reading should not be divided up between lectors, one starting, one reading the middle, one reading the end of any given reading.  The noted exception noted being the Passion.

The priests, save for those parts that are explicitly allowed, are not permitted to divide their roles up such as, “I’ll take the Liturgy of the World and you take the Liturgy of the Eucharist.”  Deacons can do that however such as the above example or one takes the singing parts and one does the working parts . . . 

Different ministries can be done by one person if there is a lack of ministers.  So if you were serving and there was nobody else available, you could also do the readings but this is clearly a permit-able but none-the-less exception to the rule.

Remembering Pope Emeritus’s writings however, the MOST IMPORTANT JOB for the lay faithful at the Mass is to PRAY THE MASS.  This is essential.  Those doing the readings or ushering or serving are not “getting to do more,” they are in some ways being distracted from doing the most important job: that of giving glory and praise to God - offering themselves for all that their Father has given them.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


Read more about it HERE.

Watch the press conference at 10:00AM TODAY (Wednesday morning) HERE.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Truth is like poetry.  And most people (*) hate poetry."  from the movie The Big Short

QUOTE IIIt ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”  same source by attributed to Mark Twain.


If you were at our Lessons and Carols or the 4PM Christmas Mass you heard this amazing you man play our organ.  But that is only part of the story.  Read more HERE.

Here is St. Sebastian as people started coming in for the 7PM vigil.
This is me trying to remain alert and awake on Christmas Eve.  I just got a text from someone saying, "I think you should keep you Lumber Liturgical look until Easter."  I am inclined that way but my sister is campaigning otherwise.
 Fr. K. got me these glasses.  They should help with the problem noted in yesterday's post.
Pop some popcorn and reserve the television.  Mother Thomas (and I) will air on WVIZ on January 6 at 8:30 p.m! It will also be published online and featured on other Ideastream channels.

Think this is my all time favorite (secular) Christmas carol:

Monday, December 26, 2016


So the 4:00 and the 7:00PM Christmas Masses are over and now there is nothing to do but stay awake until it is time for midnight Mass (which at this parish is at midnight.)  But what to do to fill those hours?  Dinner is eaten, presents are wrapped and ready, homilies are prepared, and there is not enough time to go anywhere.  A nap would be disastrous as I would be groggy all through the Mass.

Luckily we had a seminarian staying with us and we decided to watch a movie.  A good half hour was taken up with this useless exercise:
It seemed as though we might burn through all of the remaining hours until midnight viewing titles, viewing trailers, and rejecting everything.  But then THIS happened:
Good enough for me!

I'd not seen it before!

It looked interesting!

It would eat up just the right amount of time.

And - no kidding - THIS was almost the first scene:
It was like the time I invited priests and young men over to the rectory and we had an evening to encourage vocations.  At the end of the evening we were going to watch a movie.  There was one with a GREAT spiritual meaning and no nudity or cussing (that any of us could remember.)  So we put it on and the VERY FIRST WORD  spoken in the movie was a guy screaming in the most drawn out way possible the F-bomb.


"Guys, please don't tell you parents what movie we watched unless they ask."

I guess it was the same thing here.
And before he could finish his sentence:
Ah well.  Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


Today Christmas trees and wreaths are being placed around the church.

Today I continue my writhing over my Christmas homilies.


Yesterday I was blessed to visit with the good sisters at the Christ the Bridegroom Monastery in Burton, Ohio.  Sitting in the kitchen while they busied about their duties I asked them if they had any ideas for Christmas homilies.  Here are some:

“You know, Mary didn’t have time to get the manger ready, but the manger would have to greet the Christ Child just the same.  Even though we are so busy and may feel unprepared, we must greet him with what we have.”

 “Mary didn’t have time to ‘nest.’”  (I think I get what that means.)  “Invite her and the Holy Family to nest in your heart, to find rest, comfort, and time to ‘be’ in your heart.”

I’m not sure I’m the best one to talk about nesting though.

“God gives us this longing as a gift a Christmas.  We try to fill it with all kinds of things and when all of the commotion and distractions cease, we may feel a bit of a let down if we have not filled they cradle sized space in our hearts with the Christ child.”

Pretty good stuff guys.  I’ll let it marinate a little while longer while I avoid writing again by posting your ideas.


Monday, December 19, 2016


Gads it's demoralizingly difficult to come up with a Christmas homily.  There are so many factors involved.  There are those that this will be your one shot per year to say something meaningful.  What can be more meaningful than to suggest that this is a way of life rather than something to do at Christmas:
 And who exactly for whom do you fashion your homily?  For children?  For adults?  For practicing Catholics?
 There's a tightrope to walk between so many competing considerations:
 So I decided to do the most productive thing.  Avoid working on it

Friday, December 16, 2016


As a recently ordained, I went to the Vatican and was able to pray a Mass in St. Peter.  I was assigned a little altar server who grabbed a Mass kit for me and led me through the cavernous space to some chapel altar.  There were priests and altar boys all over the place saying Masses.  Here and there were lay people, who woke at an hour I think God did not intend for us to be awake, who were in attendance at various altars.  

The server assisted me in finding my altar, helped set up and get Mass going.  It was wonderful not to have to figure things out on my own with a space in which I was rather unfamiliar.

One would think Mass is Mass is Mass.  But in every parish things are done just a little bit differently.  How and when are the gifts brought up?  (Before the collection?  After the collection?  When the altar is set up?)  When does the Gospel Alleluia begin?  (When the priest stands?  When the deacon stands?  When the organist is good and ready?)  How is Communion distributed?  These may seem like little things but they are terribly distracting when one is attempting to pay attention to the prayers.

It is always a great thing to have someone who knows what they are doing guide you around.  At St. Sebastian we attempt to try to have someone on with a visiting priest that can help them navigate the way things are done here.  With a visiting server there is an effort to have an experienced server on with him to make it less stressful. 

These are some of the reasons paragraph 106 of the GIRM says that it is desirable in cathedrals and in larger churches (though it might be helpful just about anywhere) “to have a competent minster or master of ceremonies, to see to the appropriate arrangement of sacred actions and to their being carried out by the sacred minsters and lay faithful with decorum, order and devotion.”  In other words, allowing the ministers not to become the center of attention as they turn, look around, and in general look helpless wandering around the sanctuary.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


Would it be cool to have drive up window confessionals?
Or twenty-four hour phone confessions?
Drive-in Masses with good sermons piped in over your radio from the Vatican?

It might make life easier in the short term but I am not terribly sure that it would serve us well in the long run.

Yesterday it was reported in the paper that a viable, vibrant, and good handsome building in downtown Akron had a fire.  There are businesses in the lower levels and apartments on the upper.  Somewhere in a vault underground something caught fire and filled the building with smoke.  

A man who lived in the building was told by a fireman that there was no need for evacuation.  When things seemed to get worse, man became angry that a fireman would not go in (or at least accompany him back in) to get his flatmate.  Tempers escalated.  Perhaps (I am supposing a little here) that frustrated things were said on both sides but what made the paper was the inappropriate comments made by the fireman.

In speaking with a few people in leadership positions of emergency response personnel, there is a certain amount of concern that situations such as this may continue to happen.  The reason being, as they see it, is that so many folks entering into these fields have grown up having much of their interaction with others filtered through electronic devices.  It is definitely not that these persons are not intelligent because they are.  It is not that they are not able to do the work because they are.  It is not that they cannot carry on a decent conversation because they can.  But in stressful situations and dealing with desperate people, they do not have the social skills to adapt quickly, remain calm, and reach into a deep bag of alternative ways of dealing with another person that could defuse a tense situation.

But it is not only the emergency response personnel.  Many of those they are serving or apprehending also now have the same difficulties in communicating.  So, like the situation with the fireman above, two people come together with what may seem on the surface as antithetical objectives: the civilian wants safely back into the building and it may be very well that the firefighter was following regulations/instructions/best practices.  Frustration ensues.  There is a lack of being able to communicate well in this stressful situation.  There is an escalation of tempers instead of a seeking of solutions.  Nobody is happy.  The next day the newspaper reports how rude the firefighter was.

Could Jesus have been thinking about our day when he made the faith in general and the sacraments in particular something that must be handled person to person?  You can’t baptize yourself.  You can’t confess your sins without involving a representative of the people of the Church.  You can’t fulfill your Sunday obligation on television.  Anointing can’t happen even from across the room.

The faith is all about touching, talking, responding, eating, smelling, bumping, dealing, being inconvenienced, being frustrated with crying babies during sermons, slow people in confession lines, poor singers, cranky pastors.  It may not always be fun, but it is very, very human.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


Arg!  I forgot to include THIS which is happening TOMORROW, December 13th!

Sponsored by the AWESOME parish of St. Francis de Sales in Portage Lakes and being given by ONE of their seminarians, Mr. David Stavarz.  

ToT Akron is a ministry of St. Sebastian Parish,


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Humble people are never discouraged because they trust not in themselves but in God. . . True humility and trust always go hand in hand."  from Jacques Philippe's, "Time for God"

QUOTE II:  "Truth,  not superficial inclination, is the guide to the authentic use of freedom."  same source


Last Thursday PBS filmed a special about Mother Mary Thomas (oft reported here) and her new painting.  I was invited to be part of it and was interviewed.  Apparently it is going to air on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.  I'll try to let you know when I know!  (Probably 2AM I bet!)

Last week the St. Sebastian Parish Choir performed at the Ohio Theater in Playhouse Square in Cleveland before the production of "A Christmas Carol."  This is a view leading up the theater:
Downtown Cleveland was really gussied up for Christmas!  And it was great fun getting in to the theater before the general public and seeing some of the behind closed doors stuff.  (And listening to the people sitting in front of me wondering who the great choir was and where they were from.)  Great job folks!  ALSO - THIS SUNDAY AT 7:30 IN THE CHURCH IS OUR ANNUAL ADVENT LESSONS AND CAROLS - FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!
 I just liked this.
 EVERY YEAR I could SWEAR that I buy a shorter tree.  EVERY YEAR this happens.  What is wrong with me?
I know I've shown Mark Cook before but he is giving a talk THIS THURSDAY in Forest Lodge at 7PM.  Come take a look!

Sunday, December 11, 2016


If you had to guess who was the LAST person to leave the church after Mass on Sunday, who might you say it would be?
NOPE!  You win if you said:
(Thank you)

Friday, December 9, 2016


This last one is sort of a jack of all trades.  Sometimes the jobs of this position is taken over by ushers, sometimes by masters of ceremony, or some other group.  The GIRM even makes mention that this position does not exist everywhere when it says in paragraph 104 (d) “Those who, in some regions, welcome the faithful at the church doors, seat them appropriately and marshal them in procession.”

Can't think much to add to that!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016


What do you do with that pesky sin you can’t seem to shake?  Go to confession.  Pray about it like St. Paul prayed to have the thorn removed from his side.  Maybe even the thought came that this is something with which you may have to learn to live.

Or maybe someone else needs prayer.  Maybe the only help they will receive is from you.  You know their sin, you know what a struggle it is, you know the traps, the triggers, the aftermath, the helplessness.  Who better to pray for them than one who suffers similarly?  Instead of turning inward with an attitude of “woe is I,” a prayer might be offered in earnest, “Lord, you know I understand how this person struggles.  Deliver them please.  Set them free.  Give the courage, strength, and fortitude that they need to be a better version of themselves for you.”

The problem with sin is that it is a radical turning inward; what I want, what I need.  Prayer can turn into the same thing.  Some of the prayer is great.  But if prayer becomes so focussed on the self; my pain, my regret, my cry for mercy, my wanting help to get over this desire; then it does not fully embrace the cure which is to turn outside of oneself, to radically turn outward in love, devotion, attention, and assistance.   

We are a Church of sinners.  But do we also want to be a Church of people turned in on themselves and concerned about their own problems?  Or would we rather be a Church that as a community tries to help each other dig ourselves out of our sins?  

Today I am sending out a prayer for assistance and mercy for all those who struggle with the same sins with which I struggle.  I love you.  More importantly, God loves you.  May you receive what you need today to carry on the good fight.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "When the devil comes, he comes on angel's wings."  from Don Window's, "The Cartel"


Julie Billiart School of St. Sebastian, Akron has a new web page HERE.

I just thought this was funny considering all of the controversy coming out of Rome . . .
This is more difficult to see than I thought it would be . . . If you wanted to know what is involved in tuning a pipe organ . . . There is a guy at the key board and another guy that must visit EVERY pipe.  After he tunes it (sometimes by hand, sometimes by long stick) he yells NEXT and they move on to the next pipe.  It took most of the day yesterday.
I haven't been to the University of Akron in a LONG time.  I had to go the other day and thought that, while I was there, I would check out my old stomping grounds at Gazzetta Hall.  It is much different.(Thank goodness they got rid of the silver foil wallpaper!)  Here are some plaques I always appreciated that are still there.  They still influence my priesthood to some extent.

The next Theology on Tap Akron Facebook page can be found HERE.

David S sent this trailer in:

Monday, December 5, 2016


So you remember posts in the past about Mother Mary Thomas at the Conversion of Saint Paul Shrine in Cleveland and how she has been working on this ginormous painting.  I have been keeping you up to date on it.  Well, now it is almost finished save for a final coat of shellac.
So this past week I went to visit Mother with a friend of mine who is in law enforcement.  Here is a picture of Mother and me on that day.  I look pretty calm no?
But here is what happened on the way getting there.  As we were driving and pretty close to arriving - meaning that we were on the east side of Cleveland, it suddenly occurred to me . . . 
We ALWAYS bring chocolate for Mother.  I meant to stop and buy some on the way but it just didn't turn out.  We were not in an area that we knew very well but decided to stop and at the first place we could find and buy something.  We saw a store - a less than ideal store - but a store none-the-less and my co-pilote suggested that I stay in the car with the engine running and he would pop in and buy the chocolate.

I sat in my car fiddling with my phone and saw a car with some youths pull up behind me. Something seemed strange - a bit off - but hey - what do I know?  And I went back to looking at my phone.  Next thing I know, my friend in law enforcement was at my window and the car that was behind me high tailed it out of there.

"Those guys were about to car jack you Father," he informed me.  "It was a lucky thing that I didn't have any cash on me and they didn't accept credit cards and I had to come out and ask you for money.  If I had been seconds later, there may have been bullets!"
I kind of took it in stride.  I couldn't wait to find someone to tell about it.  The first couple of people I ran into I even forgot to tell!  It really didn't seem that big of a thing I guess.  Until two in the morning.