Thursday, November 30, 2017

A COMPLIMENT THAT NEEDS TO BE MINED

If your pastor has not thanked you or complimented you on your ministry lately, it is probably a compliment.  

I was thinking about how, when I arrived at St. Sebastian, how wonderful it was with everybody doing their various ministries and jobs.  It was easy to remember to thank everybody for all of the good things they were up to that I was discovering on a daily basis.  Realizing that they had things well in hand, I moved on to other projects, responsibilities, and problems.  It is like cooking a meal, that which is simmering nicely on the stove can be left alone while something that need attention (the potatoes that need peeling or the grease fire that needs extinguished) can be dealt with.  

The problem is that even the simmering pot needs stirred every once in a while.  It’s easy to forget because it is doing what it is supposed to be doing and in better condition than the other tasks that need immediate attention, but left on the burner too long without some kind of recognition, even the best simmering pot can turn into an emergency.

So at my last holy hour it occurred to me to try to treat a day as though it was one of my first days at the parish and to be appreciative of all the wonderful things that people are doing around here - all of the simmering pots - let the potatoes and grease fires take care of themselves for a moment and give the pot one good stir.

But man!  Is it difficult to remember to do!  Grease fires seem steal attention so easily!  (The squeaky wheel syndrome.)  To see everything for the first time!  And remember to say “Thanks for all you do!”  I challenge you to give it a try with your family, work mates, neighbors, friends . . . all the wonderful things they do for you that you have come to rely on.


And so I thank you for reading this blog and giving me this opportunity to share some of the ways it seems to be God is acting.  Sending out a prayer to you today.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CDXII

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK:  "We are repeatedly told not to talk about sex, even though the rule-makers talk of little else."  from Archbishop Chaput's, "Strangers in a Strange Land"

QUOTE:  "The Catholic faith, more than any of its Protestant cousins, is a religion not just of the mind and will but also of the bodily senses.  And while the senses can make mistakes, when it comes to sexuality, they ground us firmly in the real."  same source

IN OTHER NEWS:

Some friends and I went to visit our friend and artist Mother Mary Thomas PCPA at the Conversion of Saint Paul Shrine in Cleveland.
You might remember her painting that has been covered extensively here:
It is finally finished and on its way to its new home which, when I know more, I'll tell you about.

But she is not done!  She is working on new projects!  More recently she delving into stained-glass windows.  We got to see the life-size drawing of one destined for Florida. 
Here is a color rendering of the window which is being produced in cooperation with Azure Studio of Cleveland.
If you would like a reminder of who she is, HERE is a video:



Monday, November 27, 2017

ST. SEBASTIAN IN THE NEWS

St. Sebastian Parishioners were in the news this past week.  I thought I would share some of the news with you.

Matthew and Elisabeth Akers were interviewed in the Coming Home Network Magazine.  You can read their story of the conversion to the Catholic faith HERE.

IN OTHER NEWS

Parishioners have seen (and heard) Master Daniel Colaner any number of times playing the organ and piano at Masses and services at St. Sebastian.  Lynn Steward, our director of music and instructor of organ in the Academy of Culture and Arts at St. Sebastian has been teaching him how to play.  Daniel has soared in his musical abilities to the point of playing at Carnegie Hall and St. Patrick Cathedral this past weekend garnering for himself national attention.  Here are some links to news coverage of the event:

On November 23rd, a front page, above the fold article appeared about him in the Akron Beacon Journal (which, coincidentally, was also written by a St. Sebastian parishioner.)  Read more HERE.

Channel 5 picked up the story and it went national.  HERE is a link to one of the television news segments.  (The video for which was done by parishioner Joe McGee)

HERE is the local channel 5 segment.

Sunday night he was on World News Tonight.  See it HERE.

He appeared on Good Morning America according to THIS article.  

Recently there has been set up at the St. Sebastian Parish Foundation a fund to help young organists defray the cost of organ lessons.  As colleges across the country close their organ departments, we are trying to help make sure that there are organists to handle these beautiful instruments in the future.  If you would like to make a donation, HERE is the website where you may find how to contact the parish Foundation.  Or contact the Foundation development director, Kathy Holaday at 330.836.2233 extension 113 or holadayk@stsebastian.org.

Some of our teachers appeared in the West Side Leader and the Akron Beacon Journal.  Scroll down after going HERE to read the story.

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: MADE YOU LOOK YOU DIRTY CROOK

It seems no matter where you are or what you are doing, there is something trying its best to distract you away, usually from human contact to trying to get you to buy something.  I hate that so many restaurants have installed televisions.  I try so hard not to look at them but the flashing and movement lure me back against my will every few minutes.  I'm in the middle of a conversation and suddenly find myself staring at someone in a gorilla suit wearing a bikini on the Price Is Right (which I could really not care less about.)
It's not much better surfing the internet.  There are as many advertisements on it than on NPR.  Those of us of a certain age remember the promise of cable T.V.  "You pay for it, therefore there will NEVER be advertising on it!  Escape regular television with all of those horrible commercials."  That lasted all of ten minutes.

The newspaper isn't much better.  I'm not talking about all the advertisements (for we buy them too.)  I'm talking about those tricky ones.  (I hate being tricked.)  For example, the half page advertisement that covers the front page.  I try to close my eyes and rip it off without reading it.

Lately they have taken to putting stick 'em notes with advertisements on the front page so that you have to peel them off in order to read the paper.  Ooooooooooh!  That gets under my skin as bad as people not picking up their dog dodo.  I try to peel that off without reading it also but they get me as those things end up everywhere.

It seems even God tries to get in on the mania.  Just when you are content and thinking life is grand, he sends an advertisement to remind you of the important things in life:

Of course, some reminders are more pleasant than others . . . especially after Thanksgiving:

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CDXI

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Modern technology tends to cause deep changes in our relationship with nature.  Creation is no longer a sacrament.  In fact, the word 'creation' is seen as misleading since it implies a Creator.  Rather, nature is just there - dead material waiting for the human will to give it meaning."  from Archbishop Chaput's, "Strangers in a Strange Land."

IN OTHER NEWS:

PV sent in an article about the Galileo Affair that you can read HERE.

The First Friday Club of Greater Akron will host John Allen again this month!  See more HERE.

Theology on the Rocks returned to D'Agnese's with newly ordained Fr. Jim Cosgrove, parochial vicar at St. Christopher speaking on the Theology of the Face.
 He is classmate to this guy:

 The Feast of Christ the King is coming!
6 minutes:

Friday, November 17, 2017

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: PARISH HISTORY: THE MAN, THE LEGEND, THE MONSIGNOR

There is no doubt that Fr. Zwisler loved the parish and its people.  And it is important to point out that Fr. Zwisler, though a determined man, was well loved by most in the parish.  There are plenty of stories about his generosity and kindness.  While in the seminary, writing a report for the History of the Diocese class, Fr. Christopher Trenta, who grew up in the parish, wrote, “Children were of special concern for Fr. Zwisler and he made determined efforts to care for them.  He insisted on Catholic education for each child of the parish and worked to make this possible for as many families as he could . . . He wanted children to attend daily Mass, especially during Lent, and be exposed to Catholic hymns and devotional prayers” and always included the children in the devotional life of the parish.  

“He also had a knack for creative pastoral care.  He had several personal touches in his pastoral care for children on special days.  For Christmas he would give little Cracker-Jack boxes and hold an annual Lenten essay contest, announcing the topic on Ash Wednesday which would send all the students scrambling to check books out of the library.  He would distribute a blessed Easter egg to each child at the Monday morning Mass of Easter Week and would give them the rest of the day off for school.  On the feast of St. Hilary, he would hand out a small chocolate candy and on the Feast of St. Sebastian, each child would receive a peppermint arrow to honor the martyr.

There is also the story of an unusual gift that Father gave a child in the school.  The parish once owned two Pattarino desk statues of St. Sebastian.  One still exists in the rectory.  The other was given away by Father to a girl in the school who won a spelling bee.  Upon bringing it home, her father, convinced that there was no way Fr. Zwisler would just give away such a valuable statue, demanded that she return the statue and apologize.  Fortunately Father Zwisler cleared the matter up quickly.

There are also stories of Father Zwisler visiting parishioners who had not been to Mass in awhile and of becoming great friends with the tepid Catholics, regularly enjoying their company and coaxing them back to the practice of the faith.  Often told are reports of his compassion for those who found themselves in hard times during the depression.  One example was his paying for two girls to attend summer camp.  Their mother was widowed during the depression and could ill afford to send them.

Fr. Wendelken, son of the parish, telling of how Fr. Zwisler cared for those in need, was able to witness to this by personal experience.  His father had gone to the hospital for a simple tonsillectomy and unexpectedly died in surgery.  Fr. Zwisler presided at the funeral and later sent his mother a bound leather booklet with a typed copy of his funeral sermon and a page of dedication addressed to each of her four boys describing their father.  He wanted them to know how valued their father was when they were older.  “And this was common,” Fr. Wendelken said. 

But his head strong ways that proved so beneficial in founding and building a parish from scratch could also, in other areas, cause problems.  Again, from Fr. Trenta’s report, “Probably owing much to his early formation in Rome and his years of military chaplain service, Fr. Zwisler was known to be a stickler for ritual, order and cleanliness.  He insisted on good behavior by all, children and adults alike.  He would wait during homilies until crying or noisy children stopped or were taken out of the nave by parents.” 

Although Father Zwisler and Fr. Murphy got along famously, such was not the case for other parochial vicars.  The parish was singularly pointed out in the History of the Diocese class at our diocesan seminary taught by The Rev. Thomas Tifft, then historian for the diocese.  Legends abound about the parish that was known by many, and not jokingly, as a penal colony for priests.  His expectations were high, his micromanaging intense, and his manner gruff.  At night the refrigerator would be padlocked shut to prevent hungry curates from snacking.  There was a strict curfew after which the doors to the rectory would be dead bolted and the late priest forced to find other accommodations for the night.

One legend tells of the parochial vicars discoving that Father Zwisler was out past the prescribed curfew time.  They dead bolted the doors and pretended to be asleep when he came home and began pounding to be let in.


There was certainly a lot of work to do at the quickly growing parish but it appears that none of the succeeding parochial vicars could meet Father’s expectations the way Fr. Murphy had.  This was a cause of constant tension among the priests.  There were a number of investigations into this friction from the diocese spurred by letters from Father Zwisler and by the vicars.  The letters outlined accusations and disappointments from both sides.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY?

Faith does absolutely nothing for me.”

This was a pronouncement by a person who came to the rectory to let me know this.

“It seems to me,” by way of my response, “that among the many, many things that faith does do for you, right now it is providing you with a place to go and discuss your displeasure.”

But underneath that question is an underlying question and it is this:  “I want my faith to do something for me in spite of me.”

The return question might be, “What have you done for your faith recently?”

Faith is primarily a relationship.  It is first and foremost a relationship with God.  If you had a friend who was to you exactly like the friend you are to God, would you want to be your friend?  How often do you talking for how long?  How loving are you to God?  How often do you take up His causes?  How closely do you listen to Him and take His advice?  How often do you give thanks and praise?  He was willing to die for you, are you willing to die for Him?  Or be willing to face a repercussion for love of Him?  Or be embarrassed on behalf of Him?  Or at least be somewhat inconvenienced on behalf of Him?  

Faith is also a relationship with the faith community.  The person that says that the faith community is doing nothing for them is quite often the person who does nothing for the faith community or only does them on their own terms. 

It is like letters (snail mail ones) when I was a kid.  I was sad that I never got mail.  My Mom said, “If you want mail, you must also write letters.”  So I did.  And I started getting letters back.  Imagine that.


If you are able to read this, God has already done so much for you that you cannot even begin to fathom the depth and height and width of the indebtedness that we have.  Even that feeling that you are not receiving what you think you need or want is itself God working in you, through longing, to bring you to the next level of faith, hope, and love.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CDX

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Even in trying to prove that religion grew slowly form rude or irrational sources, they begin their proof with the first men who were men.  But their own proof only proves that the men who were already men were already mystics."  from Chesterton's, "Everlasting Man"

QUOTE II:  "The simplest truth about man is that he is a very strange being; almost in the sense of being a stranger on the earth.  In all sobriety, he has much more of the eternal appearance of one bringing alien habits from another land than of a mere growth of this one."  same source.

IN OTHER NEWS:

Annie Dixon write a humorous obituary for stained glass that may read HERE which none-the-less expresses my real concern for parishes that continue to order "art" out of catalogues.  The studio was also mentioned in an article HERE.  Visit their site HERE.

Thank you for not correcting my Roman Numerals over the past few months . . .

While we are on the subject HERE is the site for the John Paul II Foundation for the Arts.

PV sent in THIS article about how marriage helps families escape poverty.  I thought I'd share it with you since I just went to a seminary saying the same thing.

Did you know that there is something called "Giving Tuesday"?  The second ever online day of Catholic Giving in Northeast Ohio is taking place November 28th on the biggest online Giving Day of the year.  #GivingTuesday.  See WeGiveCatholic HERE.

Just thought this was a cool shot of our bell tower from last Sunday:

Came across THIS site recently for Catholic men.

I like this guy.  I don't always agree with him (and sometimes his language is annoying) but he's worth listening to.

Friday, November 10, 2017

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: PARISH HISTORY: 1930 - THE FLYING PRIEST LANDS IN AKRON

St. Sebastian Parish made front page, above the fold news of the Saturday evening edition of the Akron Beacon Journal on September 24th.  Father Schulte O.M.I. visited Father Zwisler at the rectory to tell of his adventures.  The reporter describes him as “adventurous in spirit, religious of mind, and powerful of body.”  He founded a missionary group whose charism it was to take care of missionaries that were far from away from medicine and science.  The group had a fleet of 300 motor cars, 15 boats, 12 airplanes and 12 wireless stations located all over the world.  See more HERE and HERE.

Fr. Schulte was a pilot and flew dangerous missions “over thousands of miles of Arctic wastes” bringing aid to those who needed it.  Of his many stories, “his longest and greatest flight, probably, was when he flew 2,200 miles to Arctic Bay to reach a French missionary brother, Father Cochard, who was dangerously ill, and fly him to medical aid,” an 18 hour plane ride away.  

It should be remembered what an extraordinary thing flight still was in those days.  Wilbur and Orville’s famous flight in 1903 was only 45 years before this interview.  This was quite a remarkable and daring feat.  Because of it, this priest was to be awarded France’s medal of heroism, an honor rarely bestowed.

The flying priest was in town trying to raise funds for another plane.  It was to be the first flying chapel in the world.  He was a colorful man with an equally colorful history.  He had made his first flight aboard the great German airship “Hindenburg,” which had met its fiery end the year before this article was written.  He had also flown in what was known then as the Great War.  “I flew for Germany, but without machine guns.  But let us not talk of war.”


But the silence on the topic would not last long.  War broke out in Europe the very next year on September 1st, 1939 and the “Great War” would no longer stand out as a unique word event, gaining for itself the numeral I to distinguish it from what would become Word War II.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

NO SHAVE NOVEMBER

It’s no shave November and a number of priests (I am among them) are letting our faces go a little rogue.  If you are a guy, I recommend it to you too.

Not everybody is happy about it.  Some are adamantly opposed to the idea.  My sister is among them.  We have reached an agreement not to harp on it too much.  (It will grow one inch longer than agreed for every comment.)

Growing a beard is one of the last socially acceptable purely masculine things that a man may do.  By and large, men’s private organizations & associations (except for sleazy ones - which by the way is NOT truly masculine) have been deemed inappropriate, often legally so.  The BOY scouts for goodness sake is now becoming gender neutral!  In some states (California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington) even the distinctions between male and female restrooms are starting to become blurred (depending on your point of view.)  Increasingly the portrayed role of men in movies and shows portrays men’s roles as silly and useless.

There is a fundamental need for men in society - and more importantly a need for men to be men.  (Whatever is said here about men is echoed equally for women.)  Men need a time and a place to hang out with men.  In general, men have a role and way of being that, taken over a whole populace, tends to differ from women.  Except where it is dangerous or damaging (in which case it would not be truly masculine or Christian) men need the freedom to be who they are without being slapped on the knuckles with a ruler.


I know.  “Oh poor brave, strong men.”  But the male psyche is more fragile than one might initially imagine.  And it is in the suppression of the masculine that the very abuses some are trying to squash start appearing (like militant beard growth.)

Many police and firefighters are having facial growing contests during November to help raise funds for charities.  I HAVE NO DOUBT that sooner rather than later, somebody will sue to have this gender inequality practice brought to a halt.  I would not be terribly surprised that one day in the future this will be a matter of national concern.  If trends continue as they are today, it will not be the case that all women will have to have shots in order to have the ability to grow beards, it will be that all men will have to have shots to kill theirs off.

To be a balanced society, we need men to be men and women to be women.  That there is, and always has been, and always will be those who don’t fit well into those categories does not negate the need for them (and the need to accept those who don’t fit well into them.)  But the solution is not to suppress the sexes (when has it EVER solved a problem by forcing people to not be who they are) but to celebrate them and make them healthy expressions.

That’s why I grow my beard (plus it is less of a pain AND I have a sensitive chin) and recommend it to other men.  In a similar way, I tell a young that he needs to at least seriously consider once the possibility of the priesthood.  They don’t have to do it, but they have to ask the question once as a legitimate option.  It is the same with a beard.  All men should try it once to fully experience what they are capable of.


There is a person I know in New York.  They have a road on their property that people use as a public right of way but is really owned by that person.  The city recommends that they close down the street once a year in order that the locals know and remember that it is a privilege and not a right for them to use that road.  Likewise, No Shave November is that once a year time for us to remember that, no matter how much society may want to believe otherwise, there is a difference between the genders and a beard is just a friendly, though not always appreciated, reminder of that.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CCCCIX

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "She was starting to see that life was like being handed the ingredients one at a time for a meal you were supposed to make, never knowing what was next.  You might start with chicken, a few carrots, a sack of potatoes, and think, Now we're getting somewhere - but the next three items would be a bicycle tire, a top hat, and bag of penny candy, and you had to figure out how to use it all."  from Brendan Matthew's "World of Tomorrow"

QUOTE II:  "He'd learned long ago that if you kept the booze in the bottle, you looked like a drunk, but if you emptied it into a fancy cut-glass decanter, you were a man who appreciated the finer things in life."  same source.

IN OTHER NEWS:

Standing ovation at Sunday's organ concert.  St. Sebastian is now starting an organ scholarship fund  in Lynn Frey-Steward's honor to help make sure that there are organists in the future.  Contact me if you would like to donate.
This came in the mail: Most Reverend Nelson Perez, Bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland, will offer a special Mass for Peace and Healing at noon on Thursday, November 9 at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in downtown Cleveland.  This Mass presents an opportunity for people to gather as a community and unite our prayers into one asking God’s love and mercy and an end to the senseless violence that plagues our society today.  The Mass will be streamed live HERE

Fr. Simone giving a potential mustache a try for No Shave November at the Tacos and Trivia night.

PV sent THIS in.  Considering the masthead of this blog this is pretty cool news!

How is this comfortable?  (16.22)

EP sent THIS in on the 22nd anniversary of the release of the Shawshank Redemption.

From the ToT AKRON Facebook Page:  "Magic is the only artform specifically intended to produce wonder." (Michael Weber) Come this Wednesday, November 8 at 7pm at Ray's Place of Fairlawn to hear Mark Cook, member of St. Sebastian & a magician, speak on "Mercy, Mary & Magic." We look forward to seeing all of you there!"  Follow the Facebook Page HERE.

Here is part II of last week's video.

Monday, November 6, 2017

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: CAN YOU NAME THIS TUNE?

God sends the world blessings in ways in which we may not even be aware.  For example, I am so conflicted when it comes to assigning names that perhaps it was for the good of not messing up another human being that God called me to a vocation that required me to be a celibate.
I blame my sister Mickie for my lack in confidence for naming things.  When I was just a jot older than a foal, we got a dog.  My ever magnanimous sister offered to let me name him, which I did in an instant.
I mean, who WOULDN'T want a dog named Jonathon Benjamin?  She gave me the compromise names of either Raccoon (how THAT was a compromise I don't know) or Benny.  I chose Raccoon.  For a week.  And then was adamant about changing it to Benny which confused the entire neighborhood for six months.  As a result I have had difficulties assigning names in general every since.

When trying to name the new dog I tried to find names related to Sebastian.  They had crazy names back then.
The compromise name this time was Archer.  But . . . gee . . . this dog was just NOT an Archer.  Besides the upraised eyebrows of people thinking that he was named after the cartoon, far too many people kept saying, "Cool name.  Wrong dog."

So it was changed to G. K. Chesterton.  Chester for short.
And I like Chester.  People seem to go "Awwwww" when they hear it.  But is he a Chester?  You know, I don't know if he is the brightest bulb in the chandelier,  but I see potential in him.  He's just like St. Thomas Aquinas during is "Dumb Ox" stage.