Monday, June 26, 2017

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: NOW WE'RE COOKING

A very generous couple donated an industrial grill to the rectory this past weekend.  They knew that there was a priest and seminarian gathering coming up over the weekend with about 40 people and that our current gas grill only had room for about 2 burgers at a time.  So on Friday afternoon there appeared a crate under the walkway between the rectory and the school about the size of a garage for a Mini Cooper.

Inside that box was one hundred little boxes and set of moderately intelligible instructions.  I thought a grill would have two pieces - the bottom and the lid (and maybe some legs.)  Nay nay!  I think we were about two pieces short of being able to build a space shuttle.    


So I snagged Fr. Anthony into the tangled web of misery and we went at it.  I grabbed the instructions and barked orders:  "Tighten that screw!  Get this piece!  Out of my way!"

I should have known better.  As a priest I know things such as hanging wall paper and putting Ikea furniture together has led to more divorces than the first three cardinal sins combined.  Then this happened:
*sigh*  It was true.  My Dad liked to have us help him but it largely consisted of holding the flashlight and just watching.  And he kind of liked keeping any process solely in his mind too so often we hadn't a clue what was going on.  So it was time to change tactics and so assembling the grill became a team sport.  A THREE HOUR TEAM SPORT.

But the results were worth it.

Friday, June 23, 2017

THE DANGER OF SAFE SPACES

Years ago there was a Biosphere experiment.  Scientists constructed a completely sealed and very large ecosystem whose purpose was to see if we could maintain life on another planet that does not have the same atmosphere as we do here.  There were a number of problems with the experiment but in particular that is a fitting analogy for our culture today.

One of the obvious ways to create oxygen in the sealed ecosystem was to have a tree.  There was a very large tree that grew unencumbered inside the biosphere.  It grew very large.  Then a strange thing began to happen.  It began to drop branches.  Very large branches.  Dangerous branches.  The problem was that the tree never experienced any stress particularly from forces such as wind.

Normally wind would sway a tree back and forth.  As a tree is forced to bend back and forth, it makes the whole tree stronger (not much unlike stressing our muscles make them stronger.)  The tree in the biosphere, never having been exposed to such forces, grew to the point where it was unable to hold up its own branches and they would break off and crash to the ground.


So now we have universities constructing “safe spaces.”  These are places where you can go and not experience any stresses outside of your comfort zone.  I am all for such places.  In past ages we called these spaces Mom, or friends, or ministers, or councilors, or any other number of people.  Universities and colleges (and seminaries for that matter) were places to challenge your ideas and concepts and to have them tested against the cultural storm that rages.  It was intended to make you stronger whether that means it makes you reaffirm your conviction or change - not to be a cultural ghetto were one could wallow safely in myopic self absorption.  

Early in my seminary years I had a professor that I respected greatly.  One day he taught a class in which he stated that “the Church” is moving away from understanding the Eucharist as Jesus fully present.  This struck me hard.  I was passionate in asking questions and after had a major meltdown. 

Embarrassingly enough I ran to the chapel and threw my books and notes across the pews, fell prostrate on the floor of the sanctuary and balled my eyes out - not something I am prone to do - and questioned my faith and my vocation.  Apparently someone witnessed this because when I was done I found all of my things neatly stacked at the back of the chapel.

Oh . . . it goes on from there but I will spare you all of that.  The point is, I was given the opportunity to deal with this (not be protected from it.)  I found my "safe space” in the solace of friends, in doing research, speaking with other professors, clarifying, sharpening my understanding, and developing constructive ways of speaking with someone who hold opposing views about this topic.  All of this serves me to this day.


Do we need better safety for some of our young persons?  Most likely.  Thus it always is and always will be in a fallen world.  But to create a biosphere where people can “grow” unencumbered by any challenges leaves us vulnerable to stresses that can tear us apart once we are no longer surrounded by those who can help make us stronger.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

SO IS IT WHAT'S WRONG WITH ME

You are right.  You are probably not loved enough by someone very close to you.

It might be your spouse, your sibling, or your close friend.  Your girl/boy friend does not love you with all of the dignity, honor, attention that you are meant to have.  Perhaps your priest/minister does not have the level of respect and love that you deserve.

You are a good person (mostly.)  You try to treat others with love and respect.  You have your faults but they don’t make you any less of a person.  Is it really that much to ask?

It is a terrible thing.  It is a problem that has been with us since day one when Adam and Eve chose selfishness over love.  Immediately, seeking to be loved over loving became the norm.  By the time we get to their children we read about fratricide over jealousy.  

Sacramental marriage is supposed to be the start of a cure for this.  Think about the vows that are given: They say nothing about what each person expects.  They are a promise to minister to the other person all the days that we are both living.  

Now, of course, if both are true to their vows, they also will experience love.  That is the way human culture is supposed to be.  That is the way being Catholic is supposed to be: 1.2 billion people looking to love and serve each other rather than 1.2 billion people looking to suck love and ministry out of each other.  Jesus says to us, “I have come to serve, not be served,” and he was crucified.  

Sick. 

But we are called to follow Him - to begin the healing of our human nature.

It seems rather bleak doesn’t it?  This fallen and hurt world licking its wounds and trying desperately to be respected, honored, and loved?  Yet the path to it is not so much focusing on sucking such things out of other people as though it were a right (even if, in a way it is) but to offer it.  All those bodies of need you see walking around are just as unloved, hurting and seeking to have the hole in themselves filled.  If we saw this clearly, how different the world might be.


That is not to say to let yourself to be bled dry.  Nobody takes care of the care giver.  Take care of yourself.  That is not selfish.  Nobody benefits if you crash and burn.  But do remember that all of the emptiness that you might feel, that terrible hole in the center of you chest - your have a God that will more than fill it.  Maybe - and most likely - not in this world for many - but He will.  And for those who suffer the most, His healing will be all the more sweeter.  Know that your Father knows your state and has every intention of making it up to you.  In the meantime: Love.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CCCLXLIII

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "There is no neutral ground in the universe; every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan."  C. S. Lewis quoted in Archbishop Chaput's, "Render unto Caesar"

QUOTE II:  "We can choose our side.  We can't choose not to choose.  Not choosing is a choice."  from the same book.

IN OTHER NEWS:

The new Fr. Simone is safely installed in the rectory at St. Sebastian.  Here he is on his first day of duty (which was this past Tuesday.  He is almost a full week here now.)
On the first weekend he was in charge of the Corpus Christi procession.  The kid did well AND he got done in under an hour.  It is his first miracle. 
I abandoned him on his first weekend here.  He had a 2 o'clock wedding at St. Sebastian and I had a 2 o'clock parishioner wedding in Cleveland at St. Steven - one of my favorite pieces of architecture in the diocese.  One of the altar servers gave me a nooks and crannies tour.  This is a shot of the groom and the bride's mother from somewhere high in the high altar.  Cool right?
Last night Fr. Jeremy Merzwieler spoke for our Theology on the Rocks.  I honestly did not think the crowds would continue but we had nearly 100 persons from St. Hilary, St. Paul, St. Vincent, St. Joseph, St. Nicholas, St. Charles Borromeo, St. Bernard and St. Sebastian.  Perhaps we should contemplate a larger venue.  Any ideas?
 And of course, Fr. Jeremy from St. Gabriel.  Special note:  New sound system on the way!
Why not have a wedding outside?  5 minutes.

Monday, June 19, 2017

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: NO ROOM FOR THE LIKES OF YOU

I've heard numerous horror stories of people complaining about how difficult it is to live in their homes when they are having major work done on it such as having a kitchen or bathroom redone, a common in our neighborhood where the housing stock tends to be vintage.  I will admit to thinking that they are a bit overdramatic.  I was wrong, WRONG, WRONG!

There were a number of things that needed to be done to this 80 year old rectory.  The target was to have it done before one parochial vicar cycled out and the new one moved in.  Of course, the contractors all arrived late and on the same day.

So, while Fr. Simone was moving in, the painters (it's been a long time since parts of the house have been painted,) the carpet cleaners (they haven't been cleaned since before I moved here,) and the plasterers (for both water damage and dry rot) all arrived to work at the same time.  This made finding a place to be for hours on end very difficult.  No matter what room you were in (including THAT one,) someone was occupying or needing to occupy it in order to work.

At one point I thought I found a closet sized room to "be" in, but I was quickly released of that illusion.
 It is that time of year to clean and paint the school so that was out.  Somebody was using the gym (somebody is ALWAYS using the gym) and so I thought I would go sit in the choir loft:
 So obviously that didn't work out.  It was 90 degrees out but I found a bench under a tree in one of our gardens.
 I promise not to doubt anyone anymore if they complain about the difficulty of living in a house that is being worked on.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

COFFEE, FRONT PORCHES, AND CHURCH WHISPERS

If you would have asked my Mom, the breakdown of everything is directly attributable to the loss of real front porches on houses and that we drive everywhere.  People do not walk as much in their neighborhood because now they zip around in their cars.  And even if they did walk, nobody is sitting out on their front porch that no longer exist to offer a howdy do and hand on the latest neighborhood talk.

When I was growing up (Oh, here we go - I am getting old) everybody in my neighborhood went to the same parish, worked in the same places, belonged to the same social clubs, hung out in the same parks, bowling alleys and like places.  So when you went to Mass, you didn’t need a gathering space to gab and have coffee, you did that all the rest of the week - sometimes to the point of desiring to get to Mass to not have to do that anymore.  Now we don’t see each other as much (or so it seems to me) and so when we get to Mass, there is a constant hum of chatter - not in praise to God, but about what Mable did last week and how the kids are and can you believe the price of bananas.

Older churches (like St. Sebastian) have gathering spaces about the size of a broom closet.  More modern spaces (St. Hilary) have gather spaces that rival the size of the church building in which you could throw an inaugural ball (or at least a rocking donut Sunday.)  It seems the reality is, that church is now also a social center - no longer just the spiritual center of a community, but the all encompassing source of the Christian Catholic community itself.  

Many of our Protestant brothers and sisters have this idea down in spades.  Often drawing from a huge geographical area, they know they must create a community when they have their congregants.  Catholics parishes (particularly in this area) have boundaries.  Our draw is much smaller (in theory.)  We are the parish of the neighborhood or town.  But now we feel we have to be the social center also which has it’s upside and its downside.

If we want to keep people, particularly younger people, we have to provide opportunities to form community in a way that was once (again in my limited experience) almost automatic.  Yesterday we had an example of this which is very popular in many places: we had Theology on Tap, Akron, an event and place for persons (primary in their 20s and 30s) to come and socialize and hear a great Catholic talk (thank you Mr. Brownfield!)  I’ve heard some criticism about meeting in a bar but please remember that my parish, in the 40’s, ran its own bar with the preaching from the pulpit, “Remember, if you are going to drink, drink at your parish!”


Anyway, here are some shots from our modern front porch:

Ladies and gentlemen, our MC for the evening:  Rocco
Lots more space and parking here!

 Our speaker Mr. Brownfield:
And making a surprise appearance, the newly ordained Fr. Anthony Simone, parochial vicar at St. Sebastian.

For more information about Theology on Tap, Akron go HERE.  Next event: July 12th
For more information about Theology on the Rocks go HERE.  Next event: June 19th

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK: CCCLXLII

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Man does not live by insight alone; he is in need of a creed, of a way of living.  Insights are not a secure possession; they are vague and sporadic.  They are like divine sparks, flashing up before us and becoming obscure again, and we fall back into a darkness, 'almost as black as that in which we were before.'"  from Abraham Heschel's, "God in Search of Man"

IN OTHER NEWS (in no particular order):

Last night was Fr. Leonard's final evening at St. Sebastian.  Following his final duty having the nursing home Mass and breaking bread with me and our seminarian in residence David Stavarz, he officially took off for the land of Parma and became a Columnkillite.

Meanwhile, today we are making preparations to welcome our new parochial vicar, Fr. Anthony Simone, recently ordained to the presbyterate!  Even Sebastian is excited!

And Fr. ANTHONY Simone is beginning his stint as a Sebastianite on . . . wait for it . . . St. ANTHONY Day!  Happy St. Anthony day to all of you Anthonys out there.  (It's my middle name too.)  To you too Fr. K.
And this is how I feel at the moment:
 (Though the hair part is purely imaginary.)

Here are a couple of events coming up!  The FIRST is TOMORROW!

And then there is this:

My classmates and I are celebrating 19 years of our priesthood.  There were only five of us compared to this years crop of 8!

A parishioner who is a composer has just released his album!  Find out more about it HERE.
We were out airing out the dog one evening when David said, "Look how awesome the sky looks tonight.  So here is a picture so you too can see how how awesome the sky looked that night.
Today's video:

Monday, June 12, 2017

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: IN THE EYE OF THE TIGER

Today Adam's Ale has a cast change.  Fortunately, unlike television, I don't have to write in an accident with a stapler or a sudden need to go into hiding due to a misstep with the mob.  It is simply that Fr. Leonard has completed his four years here at St. Sebastian and now it is time to bid him a fond farewell as he begins his new ministry at St. Columbkille in Parma (a hop skip and a jump away from the last parochial vicar who left, Fr. Kovacina.

So allow me to introduce you to our new parochial vicar who will be moving in tomorrow (St. Anthony Day of all days), the new Fr Anthony Simone!





Friday, June 9, 2017

IF IT ISN'T TRUE IT SHOULD BE

Once I was at some museum show (was it a Vatican tour?) and they displayed a pair of sandals that were "found" in a cabinet wrapped in very expensive clothe somewhere in the Vatican and for some reason they were lead to believe that they were the sandals of Jesus, though they said so very cautiously.  They use the same caution with proclaiming Peter's bones to actually be Peter's bones.  They are difficult concepts around which to wrap your mind.  They seem almost too good to be true.  So we say, "These are Jesus' sandals" through a strained smile and then raise our eyebrows and occasionally one shoulder.

Either way, they are interesting items to contemplate which leads to one of my favorites sayings from my favorite historian, Fr. Thomas Tift, "If it isn't true, it should be."


The following is more believable than the authenticity of Jesus's sandals but I hold the same caution.  As some of you may know, there is a new Catholic school opening up, the Julie Billiart School of St. Sebastian, Akron.  It is for children who learn differently than a typical student.  It is opening in a former Methodist Church about two blocks from the main parish campus.  There is a chapel attached to the school and I am tasked with making it "Catholic."  We need stuff and I am trying to do it without spending much funding as there are so many needs in opening a new school.  So I put out a call for Stations of the Cross, candle sticks, altar linens, statues, the whole shebang, anything someone might have stored in a box or attic.  

We have received some things: a Missal, chalice, sanctuary lamp, tabernacle, and now a processional cross from Fr. Pfeiffer's Father.  This is a picture of it.

Here is the story:  Dad Pfeiffer received it in 2008 from a friend who was a Civil War reenactor.  He in turn received it from his first sergeant who was not Catholic and who obtained it from a man who said it was used in the Civil War for Catholic ceremonies.  That man too was non-Catholic.

Apparently it was in that man's father's attic for years as it belonged to his great grandfather who was Catholic and a Civil War soldier.  If true, not only is it cool, how fascinating that it was held since the 1860s by non-Catholics and now is returned to use in the Catholic Church to be used in a former non-Catholic chapel for Catholic services.  If it isn't true, it should be.

Just for full disclosure, Dad Pfeiffer replaced the pole and the corpus that was badly damaged.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

GUEST BLOGGER - A SPECIAL INVITATION

Today's blog is written by Mr. David Stavarz, seminarian for the Diocese of Cleveland.

We, as human beings, oftentimes make things more complicated than they need to be. I would actually say that, in general, we tend to make the whole of life more complicated and busy than it needs to be. A good portion of our younger years is filled with schooling - of studying, test taking, and paper writing. After graduation, our lives are filled with schedules, meetings, and long work hours. Careers in business, marketing, politics, the medical field, engineering, and the like require refined skills and immense learning and seem very complex to those not within those particular fields. In today’s technological age, our heads are filled with news of events that happen all around the globe and to be a good citizen we can sometimes think we need to constantly know what is going on in the world. Sometimes, doesn’t it seem like life should be more simple?

When it comes to religion, Catholicism is a faith that can seem especially complicated. In Catholicism there are loads to teachings, doctrines, documents, heresies, councils, popes, saints and so on that can seem to make living the Faith a very involved and complicated reality. But does living a good Catholic life really mean knowing all the little Catholic details?

It is certainly important that we know the Faith and know the Faith as best we can. Growing in our understanding of Catholicism can truly transform our lives. But the standard of living a good Catholic life isn’t just knowing every theological detail and being able to articulate the complexity of the Faith at any time. Living the Catholic faith, in today’s world especially, is and can be much simpler than we sometimes make it.

So what is essential to living a good and simple Catholic life? What can simply ground our faith to make it not just a complicated list of things to do and know? 

What makes our faith powerful and simple is a living relationship with Jesus Christ. That’s it. When we truly realize this relationship in our lives it breathes life into our every action and becomes the reason for our existence. Relationship is what helps us to live a good Catholic life. St. Therese of Lisieux knew this good life lived in relationship as “The Little Way”. She knew that a simple faith was best lived out in love, mercy, and devotion to Jesus in small ways everyday.

One of the greatest and generally lesser known ways we can come into a closer relationship with Jesus is by strengthening our relationship with Mary, His mother. In the Scriptures we do not hear much from Mary, but what we do hear from her is profound and forms the core of what our faith life should look like - namely, trust, self-gift, and mercy. Mary is one of the single most important persons in the Church behind Jesus not because of how she made faith more complicated, but through her example of how to live a powerfully, simple faith.

Fr. Michael Gaitley is a nationally recognized Catholic priest and writer who knows very well the importance of having Mary guide us to leading a simple life devoted to Christ. Fr. Gaitley also believes that having a relationship with Mary will lead us to encounter Jesus especially as He is the source of Divine Mercy. Mercy is what living a simple, yet powerful, faith looks like.

From June 23-25th Fr. Gaitley will be leading a retreat at Walsh University on Mary and Mercy. Throughout this weekend retreat, Father will help show just what a simple and devoted relationship of faith and mercy looks like, particularly through the example and intercession of Mary and other saints such as Therese of Lisieux, Maximillian Kolbe, and John Paul II. 


Fr. Gaitley wants you to see that the time is now for you to live a simple and real faith that is full of love and mercy. Maybe it’s time to strengthen your faith by making it a little less complicated and more about a simple and living relationship with Jesus, the Divine Mercy. If you want to grow closer to Jesus and Mary in your faith life please consider this retreat. This retreat could change your life forever. It could lead you to a life of faith that is simple, powerful, and renewed. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CCCLXLI

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "'Man has places in his heart which do not yet exist,' wrote Bloy, 'and into them enters suffering, that they might have existence.'"  from Archbishop Chaput's, "Render unto Caesar"

QUOTE II:  "We cannot reject the church and her teachings, and then simultaneously claim to be following Jesus Christ or the Scriptures.  For Catholics, the believing community is the church, and without the church as the guardian of Christian life and protector of God's Word, Christianity could never have survived."  same source.

IN OTHER NEWS:

Taking Bullying out of Schools is an article about the Julie Billiart Schools.  Read more HERE.

If you want to do something to help open the school . . . we have LOTS of paint and LOTS of paint brushes and LOTS of walls that need to be painted.  We just need painters.  If you are looking for service hours/ways to help/want to do community service . . . below is your opportunity!
Went to an event where they fireplace utensils were HUGE to the point of humor - so I had my picture taken with one.  Is this creepy?
We are only days away from Fr. Leonard departing to more flamingo covered pastures.  Friends wanted to make us dinner at the rectory before he left.  I have never in my life had a steak this big.  Three days later and I am STILL picking away at it.  It was difficult even to get it all on the plate (and we have extra large plates!)  Mmmmmmmmmm.
Is this what it takes?