Wednesday, August 30, 2017


Two of the first things one learns about revelation (in the Catholic Church especially) is that, firstly, Jesus is the fullness of revelation.  He is the final “Word” when it comes to the understanding of our faith in this world.  Because of this, the second point is that all revelation came to and end with the death of the last Apostle.  The reason for this is that they walked and talked with Jesus and are the last of those who could let us know what Jesus revealed to them.

This is taken into account when the Blessed Virgin or another saint or angel is said to be appearing and giving messages or locutions.  If anything new is being said, the claim that such an event is taking place is not recognized as being true.  So, for example, when Mary was purported to be appearing in Barberton, as long as she was saying things such as, “Pray,” and, “Listen to my Son,” we as Church were at least open (and extremely curious.)  But when the message changed to the end of the world being upon us, on a certain date, and that we should get cabins in the woods and stock up, it was all over.  Jesus never revealed that.  In fact, He revealed quite the opposite.  This is also the reason that an apparition will not be reported as being worthy of attention until it is over and everything is reported.

We may be accused as Church of defining things as dogma as late as the 1950s.  But even these things had to be in line with what was believed since Apostolic times, with the teachings of the Church Fathers, and held in belief by the earliest times in the Church.  They have simply recently been defined.  If it invents something or runs counter to the past 2,000 years of faith and Tradition, it is to be thrown out.  This is how we keep on track.  We can’t say, “Now we know better!  We were wrong the last 2,000 years!”

Which brings me to a sign I saw on a local church building the other day.  Printed over a rainbow was the slogan, “God is still speaking.”  What does this imply exactly?  It seems that the banner makers are saying that some of the ways of believing that sexuality has been revealed to us has changed.  If this is the case there are only two possibilities.  1) Revelation has somehow reopened.  2)  Somehow the modern movement in the understanding of sexualtiy, gender and related issues IS in keeping with 2,000 years of belief.  Proving this would be an onerous undertaking.  

I DO believe God is still speaking.  Which, now that I think about it, means that I could have misunderstood the banner.  God is still saying, pray, love, forgive, unity, hope.  On that I think all agree.  But as for the how we need to look to the Fullness of Revelation as the true fullness of revelation.  If you want to challenge the Catholic Church on these topics, these are the playing grounds on which to engage it; more ancient than the death of the Apostle John, more stable than the Coliseum.  

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Grief is only love that has come up against its oldest challenge."  This was heard on the radio so I'm guessing at the spelling of the name Kate Braystrop

QUOTE II:  "Do you want to know how to get rid of a philosopher?  Give him $20 and take the pizza."  Fr. Jacob Bearer from his talk at Theology on the Rocks.


D. B. sent in THIS article about a Catholic school down playing their Catholic identity in order to reach out to more people.

D. S. sent THIS article about architecture and front porches (a favorite topic of mine.)

Saw THIS on Facebook: "Rules for My Son."  I would have added some religious touches in there but these are great.

Coming soon to Theology on Tap, Akron!

Coming soon at Theology on the Rocks:

We know we have been "packing them in."  I really, really thought by now the crowds would be down to about 30 or 40.  But last week Fr. Jacob set a new record.  We are looking for a new venue (relatively close to the St. Sebastian boundaries) for larger crowds.  If you have any suggestions we would be glad to hear it.  It needs to be a restaurant/pub, have a large room, separate room, and provide us with appetizers as needed - that is, if we have 30 people, they put out food for 30 people.  If we have 120, they can make snacks for 120.

Organized religion may less popular but belief in Satan is on the rise.  M. C. sent in THIS article.

Birthday bonfire:
M. W sent in THIS link if you want to see and read about Bishop Perez's coat of arms.  Scroll down to page 20.

I lost track of who took this picture and sent it in:
P. V. C. sent in THIS article about Welsh seminarians nearly thrown out of pub.

This week's video cannot be embedded.  You have to go to Youtube HERE in order to see a video made by a Catholic high school in Connecticut.  (2:17)  Thank you S. D.

Monday, August 28, 2017


In the seminary they warn you that putting on a Roman collar will change the way people react to you.  It is true.  It opens up a whole new world.  One way to discover what it means is to go about without your clerics on one day and discover that people don't even recognize you without being dressed in black
Mr. Cellophane.

It's kind of funny.  You walk up to someone you know smiling and saying "Hello!" and at first you get this wary look of, "Who is this stranger trying to treat me like a best friend," and then it dawns on them, "Oh!  Father!  I didn't recognize you without your clerics on!"


The wearing of clerics also makes it clear one of the reasons we have the title, "Father."  People really and truly treat you like family and that is quite an honor.  They will say things to you they would not dream of saying to other people.
All of which I take as a great compliment.  It means they are comfortable enough to say such things.  (I suppose it's a great turn around for all the times a priest has said from the pulpit, "You people are dressed like you are going to the beach rather than being in the presence of God.")  Don't dish it out if you can't take it I say.

But sometimes I do raise my eyebrows when certain people comment on the clothes I wear.  

Friday, August 25, 2017


A few days before the ground breaking of the new building the first parochial vicar was named for the parish.  On April 25th the Rev. John Murphy was assigned to St. Sebastian. 

Fr. Murphy was a newly ordained priest awaiting his first assignment.  Two letters of appointment had been sent to him only later to be recalled.  Finally he received a phone call inviting him to a luncheon in Cleveland to honor “a Church dignitary” and there he would meet his first pastor.

It was then that he met Fr. Zwisler who had recently been named to found a new parish.  At first, he reports, they carried on with small talk until they became comfortable with each other.  Then Father Zwisler began to lay out his plans for this new parish.  “I became impressed with his earnestness, enthusiasm, and ability . . . I was convinced that here was a priest, who would go far and do big things and I was fortunate in being appointed to assist him.  ‘We have a big job ahead of us, Father Murphy,’ he said, ‘quite a large territory to develop.  But with the help of God, we will do it, no matter what sacrifices are demanded.’”  

In 1936, Fr. Zwisler spoke of his good fortune in securing such an able young priest.  He remarked how easily Fr. Murphy adapted himself to the great work that had they had spoken about in that first meeting.  “Few young priests have had the opportunities afforded Father Murphy because he was placed in a position to watch and assist the development of a parish from its very beginning.  He participated in the organization of the congregation and the building of everything we have.”  For his part the parochial vicar said, “There has always been plenty for me to do in St. Sebastian’s and I have tried to feel that I could do it.”  Father Murphy would remain with the parish until 1940.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017


It struck me that I might be more morbid than I thought.

In my sitting room their are two paintings of a man at the end of his life.  One of them is of St. Sebastian (which goes over to the church during the month of his feast) and the other is of Jason of Jason and the Argonauts fame (both by Mr. Eric Armusik.)  As my friend Fr. Barry once said, “You only die once so make it good.”  Both of the these men were famous, well loved, but died very differently.  Both were tragedies (though not completely unforeseeable) and brought an end to a life of adventure, daring, respect, inspiration and excitement.  So much so that we still teach and talk about them to this day all these hundreds and hundreds of years later.  But one leaves us with hope and inspiration and the idea that even when we “lose our life we will gain it.”  The other is just depressing and reminds us that, “All is vanity.”

Jason is pictured here at the end of his life.  He sits in the mucky sand below the bow of his famous ship the Argo.  His once immaculate clothes are soiled and there is rust on his sword.  Great grandson of the god Hermes, Jason sought to reclaim the throne that was taken from his father.  He puts together an all star team for his beyond-the-state-of-the-art ship the Argo and goes on many adventures.  He swears life long love to the sorceress Medea who assists him and has two children by her.  Of course, Jason is successful in all of his wild and legendary adventures.  But in the end, he turns on the family that was so loving and devoted to him to be with another woman who would be more politically advantageous to him.

As a direct result of his treachery, Jason loses everything (and I mean everything.)  He lost the love of both women, his children died, his friends left him, he didn’t have the throne nor did have riches.  In the scene depicted here he sits below the rotting, beached hall of his once renowned boat thinking over everything he had thrown away.  He then falls asleep and the bow of his decrepit ship crumbles apart and crashes down on him killing him instantly and this story is told to us as a warning.

There’s an uplifting story.

Sebastian, on the other hand, was an undercover Christian serving in the Praetorian Guard in the Roman army during the time of the Diocletian persecution.  While serving the emperor as well as he could and becoming a much trusted and decorated soldier, he also assisted as many Christian as he could even to remaining true to God even as they faced execution for this crime against the state.  Many saints were made because of Sebastian.

Sebastian is picture here almost at the end of his life.  He kneels on the grass tied to post where he would be riddled with arrows.  His once proud uniform has been stripped from him and cast aside, his helmet tossed on the ground.  The son of pagans, he found Christ and desired to go to Rome where the persecution of Christians was most intense.  He becomes one of the greatest soldiers under Diocletian and had a star studded troop of soldiers under him and lived a life of daring and adventure.  

As a direct result of his Christian mission, Sebastian loses everything (and I mean everything); his great standing in the guard, the protection of the emperor, his citizenship and even the right to his life.  In the scene depicted here he has just been hit by a volley of arrows and falls to his knee.  But there is a light on his face.  It is not the rising sun for that is at his back.  It is an intimation of his vision of heaven.  Hope surges that all is not lost or forgotten and he begins to rise to his feet once more (and we know he survives only to confront Diocletian to then be clubbed to death) ands story is told to us to show us how to become saints.

There's an uplifting story.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Worry is a misuse of the imagination."  Dan Zabra


I always say that Akron has a self image problem.  I love living in West Akron.  It seems so many people need to move away before they realize that it is really great town and has more to offer than most.  Akron appeared in two interesting article recently:

Why Vogue Magazine thinks you should visit Akron HERE.  Who knew?

Akron was also recently sited as one of 13 places making up the "brain belt" where the smartest people live.  Read HERE.  Thanks A. B.

Speaking of Akron, today was the first day of school for the newest Catholic school in the Diocese of Cleveland.  The Julie Billiart School at St. Sebastian, Akron opened its doors with the exact same amount of students with which the original school opened 63 years ago.  Here's wishing the school all the best.  See more HERE.

Last night we had our biggest crowd ever for Theology on the Rocks.  Honestly, we thought that the crowd would really start dying down by now.  We here that people are asking for a larger venue and we are looking into finding a place close by that will allow us to take up such an enormous part of their floorspace for our events.  The speaker was Fr. Bearer, newly ordained now assigned to St Francis de Sales in Akron.

Kind of cute video.  How to make your shopping trip as Catholic as possible.  See HERE.

Monday, August 21, 2017


Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, text


In Ephesians Paul instructs us, "Husbands, love you wives" because as it turns out, God really knows what He was doing when He said, "It is not good for the man to be alone."  Now, there are exceptions, and I am perfectly happy (as an old bachelor) with the rule about celibacy - but every once in a while I get why it works out well that the "two become one."

So the other day a friend and I took Sebastian for a walk in Forest Lodge.  While there I showed him a tree that was dead beyond dead.  The trunk soared up into the air without one branch on it.  The bark was completely gone.  Bugs and woodpeckers made it look as though it was used to for target practice.  And if you hit it, the whole thing all the way up would wobble like a tuning fork - probably a pretty dangerous and stupid thing to do.  A wife would say, "Stop that you big dummy.  That is dangerous."  But as a guy I just thought it was cool.
And it was true.  We picked up on a pretty bad stench - well - truth be told - I picked up and a pretty bad stench.  It seemed as though it was rotting in a most horrible fashion.  As we walked through the woods I could still smell it.  
How could he not smell it if I could still smell it at some distance?  Ridiculous.

But then I started smelling at other times.
Was it on my shoes?  No.

Was my shirt not clean?  That seemed Okay.

Was it something I ate?  That didn't seem to be the case.

Then, once, taking off my cap to wipe my sweaty, bald pate I realized with horror and great sadness that it was my baseball cap.
How many times did I hear my Mom say to my Dad, "Bill!  Take that off!  You are not leaving the house in that!  It is disgusting."  Remembering things like that I am always trying to be extra cautious.  But things still get by - like forgetting to put on my collar in the morning and DESPITE TELLING PEOPLE IT IS OKAY TO SAY SOMETHING NOBODY TELLS ME I LOOK MORE LIKE A GOTH THAN A PRIEST!  So did the hat slip through the screen.  It is not good for a nose to be alone - it needs a helpmate!

Friday, August 18, 2017


Immediately a search was begun for land on which to build the new parish.  Land prices were soaring in the 20s due to an economic boom and great consideration was given to waiting for the right place at the right price.  An original site was considered at the south end of what is now known as Schneider Park but what was known then as the Sunset View Estates.  The price would be $50,000.00.  A certain amount of anti-Catholic sentiment kept the transaction from going through.  There were protests and appeals were made to the zoning commission in order to halt construction of a church.  Monsignor set out to have the zoning changed and 600 persons signed a petition to this effect.  (If you look up from the tire in this picture, you will find the current location of St. Sebastian.  To the mid-right of the photo is the proposed original location.  This picture was taken by Fr. Allan Corrigan.)

More land was located in the Elmdale Estates property in a triangle of land between Mull Avenue, Hawkins Street and Elmdale Avenue.  The land in the area, consisting of lots of open fields, was as of yet relatively undeveloped and in some places swampy.  It is reported that in the  early 1920s the Klu Klux Klan held late night rallies and cross burnings in these fields.  Directly across from the Mull Avenue property was a wooded area known as Elm Hill Park.  At one time there was a cabin that sat on the shore of a pond on this property that Author Marks, the original owner of Elm Court, used for hunting.  The pending sale on Delia and the possibility of zoning changes drove down the price on this property.  So on February 10th, 1929 the 8 acre property on Mull Avenue was purchased along with a bit of swampy land across South Hawkins Avenue in hopes that a future high school might be constructed there.

It was at this time that Father Zwisler’s childhood companion became part of the history of the new parish.  While Father Zwisler’s life path led him to the preisthood, his friend from St. Bernard Parish School, Robert Kraus, went on to become an architect eventually opening his own architectural firm in Akron.  The new pastor contracted the services of Kraus and Helkamp to begin plans for the new parish.  Kraus and Helkamp had already developed a reputation for building fine Catholic structures. Now they designed a combination church, school, convent, and recreation hall for the newest parish in Akron.  As they worked on the plans the firm was kind enough to offer Father Zwisler office space in their place of business from which he might manage the parish.  The offices were a short walk from St. Vincent Parish on West Market Street and as the of the architect, Robert Kraus Jr., said, “We were planning the new parish practically in the shadow of the bellower of the church!”

In short order the plans for the new building were finished and approved by the bishop.  The blue prints were hung up at all the exits of the Rankin School Auditorium so parishioners could have a look at what their future church would look like.  

A shrewd man, Fr. Zwilser put out for bids for the building.  He hired the lowest bidder and then hired the second lowest bidder to keep an eye on the lowest.  If they did not like the arrangement he was content to go with the second lowest bidder and then hire the next bidder up to keep an eye on them.  Apparently C. W. & P. Construction found the terms acceptable and a ground breaking date was announced for April 28th.  The Most Rev. James A. McFaddedn, then auxiliary bishop of Cleveland, laid the cornerstone after a delay because of a severe rain storm.

Thursday, August 17, 2017


I have family who are public school teachers and they are not always kind about Catholic schools accusing them of accepting “typical students” while turning more challenging students away - particularly students who learn differently.  Now, I know there are some Catholic schools that do more.  For example, St. Adelbert has the Steps Program and other schools enroll students on a limited basis such as St. Francis de Sales.  But these wonderful programs were not meeting the great need.

Returning to school after Thanksgiving, I was telling the principal of the day school about this dilemma and how I wished we had the capability, space and resources to help these children and their families.  She said, “The principal from the Julie Billiart School in Lyndhurst is downstairs helping us with our accreditation.  You should talk to her.”  The Julie Billiart School (JB) is a Catholic school in Lyndhurst, Ohio founded by the Noter Dame Sisters that serves the population of students we had failed to serve.

I told Jodi Johnson, the principal, about my thoughts and her eyes widened.  “The school just decided that we should expand our mission and open new schools and we were looking for a way to do that!”

From there on it has been a rollercoaster of activity.  As soon as it got out that we were opening the school we were receiving phone calls asking when we would start enrolling.  (We didn’t even have a building yet.)  Numerous stories came out about how people moved from our area because they we didn’t have the resources that they wanted for their children.  It seemed we were on the right path.

There was lots of prayer and soul searching.  Many people stepped forward to help out.  Building were looked at.  Recognition from the state as well as the Catholic Church (no easy thing!) were sought.  Through it all we trusted both St. Julie and St; Sebastian (with a little extra help from St. Joseph when we were looking for a building.)  Every couple of weeks or so we would come up against a seemingly monumental and impenetrable stone wall and say, “That’s it!  We really tried.  But I guess it’s just no meant to be!  St. Julie and St. Sebastian, if you want this to go forward, you are going to have to do something!”  And I kid you not, the next day it was if the wall turned to wet tissue in a rainstorm and we marched ahead.

It may be years later with many interesting stories, blood, sweat, and tears - valiant work on the part of many hands, but this Tuesday we will open our doors to the first classes of K - 3 with the goal of being a K - 12 school in a few years.  If it is successful, it is hoped that it will be a string of schools helping children all over our diocese and beyond!  I am so thankful.  Please keep this project and all of its people in your prayers.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  Lying is easy.  But it's lonely."  Victoria Schwab in "The Archived"

QUOTE II:  "The liar's punishment is not in the least that he is not believed, but that he cannot believe anyone else."  George Bernard Shaw


I love it when the Knights of Columbus turn out for a special Mass.  (I keep telling them that they can come every week if they wish!)  Things are going to change going forward now.  Gone will be the feathered hats and the capes.  There is a new uniform.  See more HERE.

I had the opportunity (and need) to go up into our bell tower this past week.  Below is a view of part of our campus and the bottom picture is of the flower garden in front of the church as planted and maintained by our volunteer grounds crew!

M. K. sent in THIS great article: "Advice to a Young Priest."

E. P. sent the following articles in for our students going back to college:
10 Rules for Campus Dating HERE.
Tips for Keeping Your Faith Alive in College HERE.
A Check List for Growing Your Faith HERE.
A Happy and Successful Student: Sober and Chaste.  HERE.

ONE WEEK FROM TODAY the newest Catholic school in the diocese will be opening in Akron: The Julie Billiart School at St. Sebastian, Akron.  HERE is the website.

Last week I told you about the St. Julie Billiart painting that is about to be hung in the JBSS school.  HERE is a video of the painting in progress.

You must go to Youtube to see THIS WEEK'S VIDEO.  Eric Armusik painted this portrait of G. K. Chesterton (above) for me as a gift.  Views of this painting online is in the 10s of thousands.

Sunday, August 13, 2017


A few years ago I wrote a Monday Diary about a horrendous trip I took from PA to Ohio entitled, "PA Is All Wet."  If you desire a refresher you may find it HERE.  Basically it was about the fog, torrential rain, standing water, and hail that I went through to get a painting of St. Sebastian by Eric Armusik to St. Sebastian Parish.

Two weeks ago I was in New York with my sister and we took a side trip on the way home to pick up some new paintings from Mr. Armusik: most importantly, one of St. Julie Billiart that will be in the new school.  So we loaded up the car and contemplated going home the same way I had last time.

So we are driving along and - you can ask my sister - this happened:
Then we see these light up signs that say, "Danger: limited sight distance."  No kidding.

It wasn't quite as bad as last time but it was still harrowing.  But PA was not going to give up without a fight.  Storm warning signs came up next and then the rain started.  There needs to be another name for this rain.  It wasn't nice, water your garden rain.  This was I HATE YOU AND PLAN ON WIPING YOU OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH rain.  It was rain with a vengeance.  

A couple of times I hydroplaned and so slowed way, way down.  It was obvious that we were going to be very late getting back now and I was supposed to meet a fellow priest and so had my sister text him and say that I was going to be late.  He texted back:
So we are going a long, already tense, when the phone makes that loud jarring sound that it makes when it about to give an Amber Alert.  We jump and yell.  Then I ask my sister. . .
Seriously PA?  Do you really dislike me that much?
Perhaps not the wisest thing to do.  But I feared if we stopped we would have to stay forever.

Friday, August 11, 2017


Four Mass times were scheduled for that first Sunday and 1,200 people were in attendance.  Precious Blood Priests from Cleveland and Canton assisted with Masses (and did so until 1940).  The very first collection was $475.37.  Monsignor wrote a personal thank you note to everyone who contributed.  The first parish baptism, Marie Catherine Boesart, was held that day at St. Vincent Parish at 2PM.  Office hours for the parish began at St. Thomas Hospital in the evenings from 7 to 9:00PM and an appointment could be made by dialing LIncoln 734.  During this same period, in exchange for his lodging, Father served as a chaplain for the hospital and a “moral medicine teacher” for the first class of nurses.

At the end of the first month of the parish, Monsignor wrote the following letter to the St. Sebastian parishioners:

“The first month of the new parish has passed into history.  With sundry difficulties which were not without anticipation the month revealed many encouraging facts.  From the very first, people, almost without exception, heeded the call of their Chief Shepherd, the Rt. Rev. Bishop, enrolled under the banner and the patronage of St. Sebastian.  The attendance at Mass has been excellent and the moral support accorded to your pastor has been praiseworthy.  For the first month of the trying period of the organization the financial support has also met with approval.  The total for the four Sundays of August was $2,003.74, approximately $500 per Sunday.  So far approximately 1200 adults are registered.”

At the Sunday Masses of September 5th it was announced that on Wednesday there would be a meeting at the Rankin School auditorium for the women of the parish for the purpose of establishing the Sanctuary Society, an organization that exists to this day, which makes it the oldest organization in the parish.  100 women were in attendance at that meeting.  A committee was set up to plan some gatherings.  They met at Mrs. Jas. Flynn’s home on October 7th to plan a First Card Party.  It was held at the Knights of Columbus Hall and was a combination bridge party and dance hosted by the Sanctuary Society ten months after its founding.  500 people were expected to attend.  A second card party was held by Mrs. Stowe.

The card game played was Bridge.  There have been continual Bridge Flights since those founding games making it the official card game of the parish.

Thursday, August 10, 2017


It was interesting seeing St. Patrick Cathedral transformed from grey and black to this brilliant white color as the structure was cleaned and repaired.  However, it is one thing to see such a building transformed, it is quite another to witness it being built.  There are opportunities to do this however.

The Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York began construction in 1892 and still has quite a ways to go.  But that is what makes it fascinating to visit.  Uncompleted towers are stunted.  Interior stonework simply ends.  The beautiful finish work exteriorly gives way to rough stones and bricks.  Still it is one of the five largest cathedrals in the world.    It is simply magnificent.  Read more HERE.

Historically a church of this size would take about 500 years to build.  For a contemporary peer comparison, recall Sagrada Familia in Barcelona which began construction in 1882.  Both of these structures have only been under construction for a little over a century.  While there is hope that it will not take another full century complete either structure, compared to their elder equivalents,  are going up at lightning speed.

I was visiting St. John Cathedral with a non-Catholic, unchurched architect who marveled at the building even more than I did (and I was pretty awed.)  What was equally as fascinating to me however was the perceived shift in the direction of those in charge of the cathedral from its inception to the modern day.  Granted, I was only there one day and did not engage anyone in deep conversation, so take this with a grain of salt.  But if the art and architecture’s first impression spoke for itself, it was captivatingly interesting.  From what appeared to be a very traditional Christianity, there are contained within its walls one of the earliest modern depictions of “Christa,” Christ as a woman on a plexiglass cross.  Read more HERE about it.  

Speaking with other Catholic sensitive persons, we discovered that we had similar experiences.  Approaching the building, it gave off a welcoming feeling.  In fact, it looked more Catholic than most modern Catholic churches (if I may be so bold.)  It takes a while of being there and taking in the art that a Catholic steeped in religious art will start to feel a little bit unbalanced.  Not that it is bad but that it is different.  It is like being in a parallel universe where everything is just a little bit off as in the Mandela Effect (read more on that HERE.)  One can see clearly in stone, paint, and other mediums how very similar we are, and how very different we are and as time goes by how that divide seems to deepen.  

If you get the opportunity to visit both St. John and St. Patrick, make many mental notes on theme, topics, theological emphases, and philosophical groundings.  It becomes clear how important the arts are and why the Church needs to take seriously her role as patroness of the arts and, in general, stop buying all her mass produced art out of catalogues.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Unless we live with art, we cannot understand it." On a sign in the Guggenheim 

QUOTE II:  "Art is one of the great resources of my life.  I believe that it not only enriches the spiritual life, but that it makes one more sane and sympathetic . . . " Abby Aldrich

QUOTE III: "I feel like playing a sad song for that guitar collecting dust in your closet."  Dan Smith, guitar instructor.


So last week I was in New York.  Here are a couple of things of interest for you.  Here is a shot of St. Patrick from on top of the Rockefeller building.  Those who took one of my architectural symbolism classes or read it here can easily see the blatant Cross on the architecture of the building when viewed from above.  No mistaking what THIS building is all about!
Last time I visited St. Patrick was many, many years ago and the interior was pretty much black.  This was quite a pleasant shock.  The reason for this shot is for you to see the candle that I lit for all the people of St. Sebastian and for readers of this blog.
On the way home we stopped by Hamburg, Pennsylvania to visit Mr. Eric Armusik and his lovely wife Rebecca and their wonderful children.  As you can see their house was alone was worth the trip. There is something to see in every corner.
The reason we were there was to pick up some new paintings.  Below, in his studio, you can see him presenting the new painting of St. Julie Billiart.  This painting will reside in the new school opening this summer: The Saint Julie Billiart School at St. Sebastian, Akron.  There are two things to note about this painting:  1) The paper she is enAKRONistcally holding is a decree by Bishop Lennon allowing the school to open.  It was the last bit of official business he did before retiring.  2)  It really isn't St. Julie.  There are very few real depictions of her and so he used a model - a cashier in Hamburg, PA.  It is AWESOME!  You should come and visit her.
Peeping over the top of her is G. K. Chesterton which he did for me as a gift.

If you go HERE and then flip through the other paintings, you can find a better picture of St. Julie.

Need more Chesterton news?  Go HERE.

Here is a longer version of the video I posted two weeks ago since that got such a great response:

Monday, August 7, 2017


Now I know some people might be offended by the following post.  Maybe it really doesn't deserve to be on the blog.  But it was the oddest thing.  During my week away, I had many encounters with unique toilets.  It was just a common theme that I could not seem to escape.

There is no doubt that this topic touches on something that is universal to all of humanity.  It doesn't matter how rich or poor you are, if you are depressed or happy, a believer or an atheist, this is just one of those things that unites us together.  The other end, if you will, of the other common experience we have for the need to eat.  It is a sign of our humanity and as such plays a unique role in our collective imagination.  

It occupies much of our thought.  A local paper called, "The Devil Strip" (if you want to know why they call it that, ask someone from Akron) has a regular feature entitled, "Urine Luck" which is a review of local spots where one may found themselves in need of taking a break from everything (with the possible exceptions of reading and talking on the phone) and giving way to this need.

So I was with my sisters in New York and among the museums we visited was the Guggenheim.  If there is one thing the Guggenheim, designed by the famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, is NOT know for it is having plenty bathrooms conveniently located.  There was one single, unisex bathroom, however, that had a particularly long line and which was guarded by a docent.  Outside of the door was a plaque just like all the other articles of art had.  This one is called, "America" and when you enter, you find a toilet fashioned out of gold. 

The guide book calls it, "One percent art for the ninety nine percent."  That seems pretty accurate to me.  It is an outrageous extravagance normally reserved for the insanely rich being made available to the masses (who can afford to get to New York and pay the entrance fee.)  In the end (ha) we are all really just human beings who have to use such things.  Some people get to have fancier surroundings and others not so much.  When one thinks of the public art that could be produced, what's really the point of a person having a golden throne?  There are lots of interesting social commentaries one could carry on about this - not the least of which is, "Is this art?"  I'm glad it was done, think it should have been done, is beneficial that it was done, but - art?  I know some will disagree but - there's another post coming on that I suppose.

Moving on from there, there were these dandies.  There was an estate sale in West Akron this past week and I got a text that said that I must visit it.  This place had everything: full theater, bar, generous bedrooms, but EVERYBODY was talking about the smallest rooms in the house where these beauties were located.  There is a such a stigma about these articles.  We don't really talk about them.  We want them clean, quiet, out of the way and not too extravagant.  There is something humbling about even having to use one.  Even Sebastian looks slightly ashamed when he has to go in the park.  But look what this lady did to hers.  It is the commode equivalent to the Red Hat Club for women of a certain age who go out wearing hats and purple and red clothing.  No discrete plumbing here, this says, "Look at me and be bedazzled!"
Maybe this humanizing thing is ONE of the reasons bathrooms and who can and which one has become such a political hot potato.  It says a lot about how we define ourselves.

The apartment we stayed in in Manhattan was pretty small.  There were four of us staying a swell place that was really designed for two.  That meant there was not a lot of privacy save for showers and you-know-what.  And of all of the commodes, this was my favorite.  Notice there is no tank on the back of it and a large window that overlooked a street corner.  Did you know you could sit backwards on such a throne?  Further, you could crack open the blinds and watch people going about there business or prop your book agains the window and read while resting your elbows on the window sill?  For an hour if you need to?  For that is America.  That is bedazzled.