Friday, July 22, 2016


Thank you for being patient with the lack of posts.  It has not been a boring summer around these parts.

Paragraph 88

So you may have read a reply from last Friday from Fr. P concerning how his parish handles music during Communion which appears to me to closer in keeping with actual Vatican II documents and the Tradition of the Church rather than what has just seemed to happen recently.  After Communion is over there may be time to decompress.  The first option is to sit quietly and reflect on all that has happened (and a lot happened) and to give thanks.  The next option is to sing one of the following:

1) Psalm
2) Canticle
3) Other hymn of praise

And it is recommended that this be done by the whole congregation.

If we were to take first options then it would look like this:

During Communion the choir sings, which, in this humble bloggers opinion make a lot of sense.  As a priest I cannot participate because I am doing and saying too much as are the extraordinary ministers of holy communion.  Ushers are ushering, people are getting up and processing and receiving Communion - and if they want to receive in the hand they should not have a hymnal in their hands or clutched under their armpit.  When everyone is done, if we don't just sit quietly, then that is a time to fumble for hymnals and page numbers and sing.  

What happens in a typical parish is exactly the opposite.  

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Familial bonds are not created through the
transfer of information.  They are forged through experience over time.  They are the sum of Potty Training times Sick Days, of Nights Spent Jslieeling in the Same Bed times Knee Scrapes Kissing in Playgrounds.  The Intimacy of parents and children is not used on data as much as it is on proximity."    from Noah Hawley's, "The Good Father"

QUOTE II:  "Divorce is a kind of hypocrisy, and kids are smart.  They know the difference between the life you promise them and the life they have."  same source


I didn't have a chance to review this for you first but Fr. Rene sent this in (he occasionally stays at St. Sebastian when he is in town.)  The first one seems to focus more on fathers and how they can transmit the faith to their children.  See it HERE.  The second one is for mothers.  Find it HERE.

I liked this bumper sticker (at least the second one) that was spotted in Highland Square.

Cindy sent the following clip in.  If you are so inclined, skip ahead to approximately 18:15 and see the lady who attended the 1:00 Mass at St. Sebastian this past weekend.  She is in town covering the RNC.  Thanks Cindy.

Cindy also sent in this article about a young lady who is able to go into a religious order because someone paid off her student debt.  Read more HERE.

That reminds me of the Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations.  Here is a description from their website:      
"The Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations is privileged to assist men and women to follow God's call to service in the Church through a life of consecration. We operate theSt. Joseph Student Debt Relief Grant Program for religious life and the St. John Vianney Student Debt Relief Grant Program for the parish priesthood. These grants eliminate the delay many young people encounter as they struggle to pay off their student debts before they can enter religious life. A grant pays candidates' student loan payments while they are in formation for either religious life or the priesthood"  See more HERE.

Here is part 8 of our crash course in philosophy.

Monday, July 18, 2016


Sometimes people ask, "How do you come up with your homilies Father?"  Sometimes it just comes the moment I read the Scriptures early in the week.  
Sometimes not.  Sometimes it seems like something has to happen first and THEN it becomes clear what the Holy Spirit wants said.  Sometimes it is as late as Saturday.
I remember once, as a kid, we went to Mass right after Princess Dianna died.  As we walked out of Mass I heard someone comment with some sadness, "I just KNEW that he wouldn't say anything about Princess Dianna."  So I've always tried to include important goings on of the day in the mix to the extent that I can.
Sometimes are easier than others.  This week was a challenge.
And sometimes, when you are trying to build a horse, you get a horse.  Sometimes when you want to build a horse, you get a giraffe or a camel.  But, hey, what would this world be like without giraffes or camels?

Linda, who was at a Mass at which I preached was moved to send in this poem.  I hope you enjoy.

Kitchen Prayer

Klara Munkres

Lord of all pots and pans and things
Since I’ve not time to be
A saint by doing lovely things or
Watching late with Thee
Or dreaming in the dawn light or
Storming Heaven’s gates
Make me a saint by getting meals and
Washing up the plates.
Although I must have Martha’s hands,
I have a Mary mind
And when I black the boots and shoes,
Thy sandals Lord I find.
I think of how they trod the earth,
What time I scrub the floor
Accept this meditation Lord,
I haven’t time for more.
Warm all the kitchen with Thy love,
And light it with Thy peace
Forgive me all my worrying and make
My grumbling cease.
Thou who didst love to give men food,
In room or by the sea
Accept this service that I do,
I do it unto Thee.

Friday, July 15, 2016


We are skipping a paragraph.  I would imagine that, unless you are experiencing difficulties in the area of when Communion music should start and stop, you will find it imminently uninteresting.

And now on to:
Vatican two
Options for you.

Paragraph 87

When someone is going to be married I have them help me plan their wedding Mass.  When it comes to the vows they have two sets from which to choose and four ways to exchange each of those two sets.  We have a similar thing with options of communion singing.  There are different kinds of music that can be sung and each of those may be sung by different groups of people.

Here are the options of WHAT may be sung in the United States:

  1. The antiphon from the Missal or from the Graduale Romanum as it is set to music there (meaning chant - and notice that this is the FIRST option meaning that it is preferred though very few people do this) or other musical setting.
  2. The antiphon with Psalm from the Graduale Simplex.  (As of yet, no Eagles Wings)
  3. Chant from another collection Psalms and antiphons or set for responsory or to metrical form.
  4. Some other liturgical chant.

That’s it.  But the bishops allow for other music - of which most of the time it seems we want to sing about bread and wine and aren’t we great.  But I digress.

But WHO is to sing the Communion song?

So, after you choose one from among the options above, then you have to decide how the choice will be done.  Notice the order of options once again:

  1. The choir alone.
  2. The choir or cantor along with the people.

Muy interesante.  Most professional liturgists with whom I am acquainted make the great argument that the song should include all of the people (I also get that from many of those people.)  And I get that.  It assists people in participating in something holy during the reception of Communion.  And if we go back to the paragraph that I skipped, it says that we should all be singing to show our joy and unity of heart with our voices.  But if it is a legitimate option not to have everybody singing, that means there is something else for you to do - besides carrying a hymnal up in the Communion line and clutching it tightly under your armpit as you try to receive the Blessed Sacrament.  You have something to offer from your anointing as priest at your baptism - something to pray for, something to pray about, and of great importance, prayer of thanksgiving and adoration.  Just because you are not singing DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE NOT PARTICIPATING UNLESS YOU CHOOSE NOT TO DO SO.  

But wait!  There’s more!

It could not be sung at all!  If there are no musicians, the antiphon should be recited.  

  1. By the faithful (should they have access to it.)
  2. by “some” of the faithful
  3. by the reader
  4. or by the priest himself.


Yesterday was a wildly busy day so I didn't have time to post - stories that I will share with you in the near future. In the mean time, Pokemon has been receiving lots of notice in these parts.  I have had a number of interesting conversations with people I might not otherwise have the opportunity to chat with.  Lots of pictures have been sent to me including this one from Russ:
One of my servers yesterday whose Dad is a police officer said that he was arresting Pokemon Trainers who were trespassing on private property, running through graveyards disturbing mourners and driving off roads.  So Brian, a seminarians staying here for the summer, a friend of his and I thought to make St. Sebastian a welcoming spot.  (We advertised for the Jazz and Wine Festival on the other side!)
We were not, however, as innovative as St. Mary.  (Thanks J. P.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Apparently there are invisible creatures wandering around St. Sebastian.

No, not angels and saints - although I hope they are - it’s just that I am not talking about them.

All of a sudden, starting last week, there have been older teens and twenty year olds wandering around the campus staring at their phones.  An unusual amount of them.  They are very polite and respectful, and quiet.  I wanted to go up to someone and ask, “What are you doing here?” but was afraid that they might think I didn’t want them here.  I do.  I just wanted to know what attracted them.

All of them seem to eventually end up sitting on the bench in front of the church.  After sitting there for a few moments, they get up and walk away as quietly as they came and I’m left scratching my head.

Then an article comes out in the paper about the Pokemon Craze engulfing Akron.  Apparently it is a virtual reality game of sorts where you can collect little creatures that inhabit the land, one of which seems to have taken up temporary residence on our plaza.

This is so incredibly cool.

But it make me think . . . what is there to learn from this?  This “free app” has already earned billions of dollars and has our youth out walking around all over the place.  What is the attraction and can we as Church do something similar to get people crazed about faith and saints, God and virtue???

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "More violence only makes our society more violent."  from Noah Hawley's "The Good Father"

QUOTE II:  "America believed that crime was who a person was, not just what they did."  same source.


Someone sent this video in about a Commitment Ring.  It only allows you to watch a series if both persons wearing the ring are in the same room.

I would have to wear three.  I'm watching three different series with three different friends.  It makes being faithful very difficult.

Amy sent THIS site in about a new missal.

Sebastian had his buds over for a guy's night out.  This is Atticus, Sebastian, and Monsignor.

David Stavarz, seminarian staying at St. Sebastian this summer, wrote a new article on Word on Fire. Read it HERE.

Are you familiar with Catholic radio in the Akron area?  HERE is one station.

Here is the next installment of our Crash Course in Philosophy.  About 10 minutes.

Monday, July 11, 2016


 I knew something was wrong the moment I opened my eyes on Father's Day Sunday.  It was WAY too quiet.  The power was out.  Fr. Leonard stopped me in the hallway and said, "I called the power company and they said the power would not be back on until 9:30AM."  

Eh.  That was fine.  We would be into the Mass schedule already but - hey - isn't it handy that we use candles anyway?

I remember that I used to look forward to the power going out.  When I was kid (yes, WAY back then,) it seemed like the power went out all the insane time.  We had a handy box of old holiday candles that we would break out and light and TALK and marvel at the darkness and quiet.  If was nice weather, we would go out and talk to the neighbors about any gossip they heard about why the lights were out (far less scary back then - no-one thought of terrorists) or, if it was winter, a fire would be lit in the fireplace.

It's much more complicated now and at the parish.  When the power went out it knocked out the phones and the Internet.  That meant nobody could contact us.  But worse, our HVAC is controlled by the Internet (why, I don't know) and when the power came back on, it didn't have any information being sent to it because the Internet was still down so it went to default mode which is MID JANUARY!
 Yes, the AC shut down and the boilers fired up.  It was a hot day and the dutiful boilers pumped heat into the already sweaty 11:00 Mass.  OF COURSE this never happens on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.  Of course it was a holiday weekend.  That is the only time these things happen.  And of course everybody is closed or on vacation.  Blessing on John McVicar who came in and saved us from playing sweat camp.  

Of course, the REAL tragedy was that meant NO COFFE in the morning.  That was my biggest concern.  By 11:00 o'clock Mass I would be insufferable (or more insufferable than normal.)  And then I remembered!  I bought a coffee maker during out mission trip to El Salvador!  You put ground coffee in a dirty sock and drip it into a pot!  So I got out a hand coffee grinder that had been relegated to shelf ornamentation and ground some coffee.  Oh!  But how to light the burner to heat up some water?  Fortunately we have gas and I lit it with a match feeling very manly and considering the possibility that I could survive in the jungle for longer than fifteen minutes.  
 And of course the SECOND the last drop of coffee fell into the pot, the power came back on.  It was like voodoo.  Of course it happened that way.

Friday, July 8, 2016


So one time I go to Mass in New York and when entering the church there was a table with two bowls.  There was a sign that said, “If you are going to receive communion today, please take a wafer from this bowl and put it in the other bowl.”

First of all:  Ew.

Secondly, it was a valiant effort to fulfill paragraph 85 of the GIRM.  This paragraph points out that the priest is BOUND to receive a host that was consecrated at the Mass being celebrated.  (That is, not taken out of the tabernacle from that which was consecrated at another Mass.)  It is “most desirable” (pretty strong wording without making it mandatory) that the whole congregation (as you were anointed prophets, kings, and priests after all) also receive hosts consecrated at the Mass being celebrated.  

This is trickier than you might think.  You people are not all that predictable.  A former liturgist for the Diocese of Cleveland CLAIMED that this should be no problem and that he would be able to do it at any parish in the diocese.  Perhaps he was clairvoyant and so I bow to his super powers.  We are not so talented (though we have improved mightily.)

Anything can throw the numbers off at Mass.  A football game.  A holiday.  Nice weather.  Bad weather.  The grass mowed in the wrong direction.  The numbers become thrown off because of people coming late because of roadwork, last minute soiled diapers, having to park three blocks away, trying to catch the end of “Jason and the Argonauts.”  

So you try to cut it close and then your are left with having to break the last remaining host into micro-particles in order to have enough for everybody to receive communion.  The next week you have “learned your lesson” and put out extra (better to be caught with a little extra than not enough right) and then you find, at the end off Mass, that you won’t have to consecrate again for the next month.

Sacristans debate in angst before Mass about how much to put out especially at funerals.  “Do you think I should put out more?  Will there be a lot of people at this funeral?  How many people were at calling hours?”  My standard answer, which they have not caught on to after 8 years, is “I don’t know.”

So you do your best.  Sometimes you do well, sometimes not so much.

This paragraph also states that Communion under both species be offered whenever it is feasible, not open to profanation, and suitable as determined by the priest under the guidelines of the local council of bishops.  

Here is another area of difficulty.  How much wine should we prepare to be consecrated?  Some weeks we run out.  Some weeks the deacon consumes so much that I worry about him walking down the aisle.  

Eh.  If this is our biggest problem, we are doing pretty well.

Thursday, July 7, 2016


When somebody says to me that they would like traditional Catholic music at Mass, my first thoughts go to Palistrina, Gregorian Chant, or tunes such as Panis Angelicus, or at least, “Jesus My Lord, My God, My All.”  

Nay nay.

The vast majority of the time they means songs like “On Eagles Wings,” and “Be Not Afraid.”  Songs by and large from the folk era of the 1970s.  Not that there is anything wrong with that.  But it reminds me of the late 1970s in this way:  It was then that it seemed people were holding tenaciously on to music from the 1940s and 50s as traditional Catholic music while folk was trying to muscle in and get rid of that tired stuff.

A lot of the music from the 40s and 50s was a bit saccharine.  The 70s stuff was often theological soft.  

Is it just me or do we not seem to have a real movement of liturgical music at the moment save for praise music like that which come out of Steubenville?

Oh, the poor music director - weighing the balance between that which are truly musical treasures from our history, what is an oldy but a goody, what is facing the sunset of use, what is currently on the seen, and the new and innovative that excites some and disgusts others.  God bless you musicians!  Know of my prayers today!

Thursday, June 30, 2016


We have some seminarians living at St. Sebastian this summer.  One of them has rarely been south of 303 and so we have been introducing him to all that is Akron.  While doing so we thought of some things that will help you know of you are becoming a true Akronite as well as a dyed in the wool Sebastianite.  Here are some of the things with which we came up.  If you have any to add I would greatly appreciate it.

You have Akron legs.  You can walk around the neighborhood and not trip on the upheaved slabs that look as though we have just gone through three a major earthquakes.  For example, when someone trips you say, “You haven’t got your Akron legs yet.”

You are VERY careful when shoveling snow.

You can drive down Mull Avenue, the brick street that runs in front of parish, and know the secret path around all of the swells and waves of bricks so that you can go 35mph without destroying your car.

You know they used to skate in Forest Lodge Park and further you know that Forest Lodge Park is actually actually Elm Hill Park but you don’t care.

You know there are no Elm trees on Elmdale Avenue, in Elm Hill Park, or at Our Lady of the Elms.

You know exactly where to go if someone says, “Meet me at the brick parking lot,” and you know exactly what is meant by, “I heard it on the brick parking lot.”

You never hated LeBron James.

You have strong opinions about Catholic high schools.

You know the parish story about galoshes.  

You have a 50% chance of knowing how to play bridge or someone in your household knows how to play.

You know that between an old rusted piece of abandoned pipe and an ornamental lamp post, the one that will get hit by a car is the lamp post.

You prefer traffic circles to oddly designed five way stops.

You never realized that you realized that there are two identical statues of St. Mary on the parish grounds until someone points it out to you.

When you look up you are not terribly surprised to see a blimp.

If you want to come early or stay late at church you know better than to park in the undersized parking lot.

You refer to the local Acme store as Acme Number One.

You know where the devil strip is.

There is a 50% chance that you have something of Don Drum in your house.

If you see someone in the bell tower your first thought is, “The pastor must be trying to get away from it all,” not, “Is there someone up there with a rifle?”

Wednesday, June 29, 2016


So yesterday I wrote to you that I was going to be away from the parish most of the day with two of the seminarians who are staying at and working for the parish over the summer to go to Christ the Bridegroom Monastery to visit the sisters there and check on the progress of the St. Sebastian icon.  It is over in Burton, Ohio surrounded by an Amish community.  We passed a couple of buggies on our way.
We had lunch and chatted and then Sister Iliana FINALLY asked, "So, do you want to see the icon?"  It was killing me being polite while the anticipation built.  So we made our way to the icon room and got our first glance of St. Sebastian.
It is marvelous.  Better than I hoped.  But it isn't done yet.  She has to wait several months before putting on the last coats.  Everything needs to dry.  She was concerned about a delivery date but I assured her that we actually don't NEED it until 2018, the 90th anniversary of the parish.

On a whim she painted the background blue which turns out to be fortuitous.  The church building of St. Sebastian is largely blue in the interior due to the first pastor's devotion to the Blessed Virgin.  So that just turned out cool.
Across the street is a shrine dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  You can go visit it yourself.  A number of people visited it while we were there praying and looking around.  The first thing that you come across is this church.  It doesn't look like much from the outside but the inside is pretty cool and conducive to prayer.
Then you take a long walk back to the outdoor shrine.  
This is the main shrine on the property but there are many more minor shrines such as to Fatima and Lourdes.  Some of it is in disrepair but the community seems to slowly restoring it to what it once was.
Then there are these bells.  I need them.  I promised not to make too much noise but I had to ring them at least once and Sister was kind enough to let us have at it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "[I]n today's economy beauty is the great equalizer, a backstage pass."  from Hoah Hawley's, "Before the Fall"

QUOTE II:  "Sports is a meritocracy after all."  same source

QUOTE III:  "She hated him, he thought, but isn't hate just the thing we do to love when the pain become unbearable?" same source


I am taking much of today away with the seminarians staying here this summer to visit CHRIST THE BRIDEGROOM MONASTERY in Burton Ohio.  Read more about them HERE.  We are going to visit St. Sebastian, an icon painted by Sister Iliana and paid for by the Saint Sebastian Bridge Flights in honor of our 90th anniversary coming up in 2018.

So I don't have a lot of time to post today.  HERE is a new podcast site for the homilies from St. Sebastian.  If you listen to my homily from this past weekend (13th Sunday) you will hear the ONLY homily I have every given that got applause - mostly because I mention LeBran James.  Yes, we wanted a win that badly.  Only something a North East Ohioan can understand.  

Here is the next installment in a crash course in philosophy.  Ten minutes.

Monday, June 27, 2016


Modern technology, I begrudgingly admit, is wonderful.  I suppose now I have become so technified that if someone were to take it all away from me - say if I were dropped in the woods somewhere and told to survive for three days - at the end I would be bored, hungry, wet, and agitated that I couldn't check my Email.
I have exteriorized most of my memory.  Don't tell me anything at the end of Mass and expect that I am going to remember.  Unless I have an external device on which I can record it (paper will end up in the wash machine) you might as well be speaking to a tree.
I used to travel with my cousin who was a teacher.  When we were on vacation she would not want noise in the morning, or be asked anything that required her to make a decision, or be surrounded by too many people.  "I spend all day with a large group of children who constantly need me.  When I am on vacation, I want the exact opposite," she informed me.
I think I know how she feels now.  Quite often as pastor, people second guess every move you make which is understandable enough.  People are invested.  That is good.  But now even my car is in on it.

Friday, June 24, 2016


GIRM paragraph 84

I’ve always been fascinated by this prayer of the Mass.  It is said quietly by the priest just before he is to receive Communion.  The words prescribed sound a little bit like a parent taking his precocious son aside and privately saying in a calm but pointed voice, “Okay, this is your last chance.  Are you sure you want to do this?”  

“Yeah Mom!”

“Fine.  Then go ahead.”

The prayer reads in part, “May the receiving of your Body and Blood Lord Jesus Christ not bring me to judgement and condemnation. . .”

You know what? Wow.  We sugar coat SO MUCH.  “You’re fine.  I’m fine.  We are all going to heaven anyway.”  But here is the Church taking one of her sons aside for a moment and saying, “This is serious stuff.  Don’t mess around.  There are repercussions and consequences for taking this lightly.”  It is possible for the reception of the Body and Blood to bring about judgement and condemnation.  The Church chooses her words very, very, very carefully.  She would not bandy about “condemnation” if she didn’t mean it.  To receive the Eucharist being aware of serious sin on your soul is grave matter.  Since we believe that the Eucharist is not a thing but a Person, that means one has first rejected the Person out of their life (that is what mortal sin is) and then forced themselves on to that Person in this most intimate of actions. It, in essence, becomes a double abuse of His Love.

So let’s suppose that you are a priest and you take these things seriously and you come up to a wedding or funeral at which there are lapsed Catholics of varying degrees and many non-Catholics.  What do you do about Communion?  There are some options.  One is to let it go.  The argument here is that God is Love and can fend for Himself and if someone receives who shouldn’t, they did so in ignorance and God will let it go.

But that would cover over one of the biggest scandals of the Church:  That they may be one.  By recognizing that there is a division between us I have been afforded the opportunity to talk with non-Catholics who have come up to me and to discuss it.  At one point, with a Protestant minister, we came down to the point of, “Well, if you believe that, you need to consider becoming Catholic.”  I don’t think he did but he was shocked at how Catholic his ideas were after some Scripture study and perhaps there was a little healing of Christian unity there.  

That would not have happened with the “You’re Okay, I’m Okay, God can fend for Himself,” mentality.  

SO how do you get the message across?  One way is to have people read the USCCB statement usually found on the cover of the misselette.  It is an entire page of instructions to various persons who may be present.  The priest can also announce some instructions.  Some do it at the beginning of Mass, some do just before Communion.  That is what I do since the missalette is not in our pews.

Here is what I say:

It is always an honor and a privilege whenever persons of different faith backgrounds come together to worship our God.  Out of respect for you and out of respect for your beliefs, I can only offer Communion today to those Catholics who are properly disposed.  If you are unable to receive today, please pray for the unification of the Christian Church and make a spiritual communion with us.  Thank you.

There is a person who lives in our neighborhood who takes great offense at this statement.  She attended a funeral Mass years ago at which I made this statement though I will admit that instead of “Catholics who are properly disposed,” I said, “Catholics who are in a state of grace.”  I changed it because of her.  I suppose she sees me as causing too much division among Christians and I see her as causing too much division among Catholics she tries to dissuade from attending St. Sebastian.  I like to think we are both well intentioned.

But I digress.

Whereas the celebrant has specific prayers to pray before receiving, all others are giving leeway to pray as they wish that they will “fruitfully” receive the Blessed Sacrament.  The priest then shows the Eucharist to the people “inviting them to the banquet of Christ” and then all say an act humility borrowed from the Scriptures.