Thursday, October 8, 2015


An editorial in today's paper made the suggestion that there be a Hypoctratic oath for computers - well - for computer programers I suppose.  In light of the Volkswagen automobile computer scandal ,ethicists are wondering what kind of boundaries should be placed on those who tell computers how to "think."

In a nutshell, the computers onboard VWs were program to lie to humans to tell them that the cars were not polluting the air that humans were breathing thereby allowing humans to slowly continue poisoning themselves unawares.  Once the computer was thus programmed it required no further human input to continue the lying.

It was suggested that a code of ethics be developed for programmers much the same as we have for doctors.  Rule #1 - do no harm to humans, etc . . .

Of course, on the other hand, we want computers to think as humanly as possible.  It seems we are at cross purposes here.  Suppose your car could think like a human and it was mulling over the ethics of lying to the government about whether your car was putting the earth and putting humanity at risk.  Doctors face these questions all the time. 

"Do no harm."  Hypcratic oath #1.

But what if a human being comes to you and wants you to put another human being to death because that human being threatens a good life for her?  Her rights, her body, her other desires take precedent and medical professionals can easily rationalize what they are doing and believe they are still fulfilling their Hypocratic oath.  In California and Utah, doctors can feel they are still in line with their oath by granting the wish to die by their patients.  Allegedly Planned Parenthood can sell viable body parts from what they otherwise deem non-viable human beings with the idea that they are making the world a better place and proclaim that they have broken no laws and therefore are still moral and have not broken their promise to do no harm.
So my car.  Do I want it to think like a human being?

"I know I should not be polluting like this BUT think of my poor owner.  He can barely afford me let alone get a new car.  And if this becomes part of a recall, think of all the poor workers and stockholders that will lose their shirts - not to mention call dealers, advertisers, and truck drivers.  What is a little more poison in the atmosphere compared to all the good that could be accomplished if I just keep my printouts to myself?"

Do we really want computers to think like us?

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


My parent's song was, "To Each His Own."  I remember that had it on a 78 (yes, I am that old) and I accidentally sat on it as a kid.  For their 50th anniversary some 17 years ago, my sister Mick redeemed me by finding them a replacement 78 that I still play on my grandparents victrola in my room.

"To Each His Own."  Aint it the truth?  Try to take a ratty, dirty, torn "bank" from a toddler and exchange it for a newer, softer, cleaner blanket and you will be met with howls.  What we want is not always logical, but it is what we want.

For liturgies at St. Sebastian I spend an incredible amount of time trying to do everything correctly and well.  And, I will admit, I also find the challenge fun - particularly so when you have a younger priest with you who is also similarly interested.  So when a new directive came from "downtown" about how Communion was to be taken to the homebound, Fr. Pfeiffer and I had a long discussion (over a card game) about what exactly the new options were, which might be most feasible here, and how we would enact them - arguing (in the most friendly sense of the term) and cross referencing ideas from other books and documents.  (That makes for a long card game.)

All this goes to say that I am confident that when someone comes to the parish, they are receiving the Roman Rite, it is being done well and with some gravitas for the glory of God and the benefit of my brothers and sisters.

Once again I am taught that I will not win anyone to God, it is always the Holy Spirit.

So this morning I was walking Sebastian and ran into some fellow walkers and we let the dogs play around a bit as is their want.  One of the walkers said, "I have the best news ever," about which I did not get too excited.  I've been told this a lot.  It usually isn't the best news ever.  But she surprised me.

"I went to Mass at (St. Anonymous) and I loved it!"

Okay, that was the best news ever.  Having been away from the Church for a long time, she found a parish that she loved.

"And the best thing was, it was completely disorganized and laid back.  Kids were running all over the place, they messed up one of the songs, the readings were done terribly and I loved it.  I am going back every week!"


And now my walker friend is taking about "My Pope" and how great he is.

Good thing there is a Saint S. and a Saint A.

To each his own.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "For God is not always silent, and man is not always blind."  from Abraham Joshua Heschel's, "God in Search of Man

QUOTE II:  "He who has ever gone through a radical insight cannot be witness to God's non-existence without laying perjury upon his soul."  same source


5 (supposed) facts about Catholics in the United States HERE.

What did the media miss about the Pope's visit?  Look HERE.

 Have I shared this with you? Careful, it will stick with you . . .

A friend of mine joined the Sisters of Life.  Here is a video the put out:

Adam sent this in. It is just interesting.  It is about Origami.  See HERE.

Friday, October 2, 2015



I often wonder what non-Catholics think about the fuss we make about the Gospel when they attend a Catholic Mass say at a wedding or a funeral.  Many Protestants (not all) don't seem to make a big fuss about a reading just because it is from one of the Gospels.  Maybe theologically they do, but a reading such as something from Matthew is not treated in worship much differently than one from Romans.

We Catholics practically throw a festival when the Gospel is read in comparison to any other part of Scripture.  Everyone stands, we sing the triple "Alleluia" with a Gospel verse, the deacon receives a blessing that he might proclaim the Gospel worthily and well, there is often a procession with candles, there can be incense, a minor benediction (the Lord be with you) and a prayer that we might receive the Word of God well as we make three Signs of the Cross on our foreheads, lips, and heart, "May God be in my thoughts, on my lips, and in my heart."  You would think that when it was done we would clap.  "That was AWESOME!"  When it is done, however, the candles are put away, the incense is taken back into the sacristy, every sits, and the bulletin is brought out to read during the homily.  Goes to show how much more important it is than a mere priest talking.
This all points to the Gospel as being the crown jewel of the Liturgy of the Word.  We esteem these books above all others.  When the Gospels are proclaimed it is one of the ways that Christ is present to us at the Mass for He is speaking to us in His own words.  And what did Mom teach us to do when someone important was talking to us?  "Sit up and don't fidget. Pay attention.  Look at the person in the eye.  Be respectful."  That is what Mary taught us.  "Listen to Him.  Do whatever He tells you."  It is what Holy Mother Church is trying to teach us to do.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

While I've been a rosary pray-er since I was a wee one, sometimes I wondered at what I was "supposed" to be doing.  Of course, sometimes I would concentrate on the particular prayer being said.  Other times I would imagine what was going on in Christ's life during a particular mystery, broadening the story.  I was told as a young person to concentrate on the mysteries but I would always wonder why am I concentrating on them.

To some extent, there is always more to mine and to come to understand as one spends some time contemplating the various mysteries.  Sometimes I would plug in my own prayers such as when Christ is hanging on the Cross, I would think that I wish I could lessen His suffering.  But of course He had to suffer.  Wishing to end His suffering is the stuff "Get behind me Satan" is made of.  Sorrow, however, that He had to suffer seems suitable.  

Thanks is a great thing to offer during the rosary.  God comes to earth.  Wow!  Thank you God.  Christ resurrects.  That is Awesome!  Thank you God.

In more recent years, however, I have taken a slightly different tact.  In praying the rosary it seems that we are called to be witnesses.  "Stay here and watch with me."  When Christ was abandoned by His disciples during His scourging, I stand witness.  When His followers scattered during His Crucifixion, I stand by His Mother and St. John.  At the Annunciation, I will witness the Angel speaking and believe.  At the Ascension, I will be among the Apostles as He rises.  I will witness in order to see, see in order to understand, understand in order to share, share in order to bring others to Christ.

Leaders of Many is inviting everyone to pray one decade a day.  Read more HERE.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Else liked Catholicism, not so much the ethics as the aesthetics, and had explained to him how everything in the church building, even the basic elements such as bricks, mortar and stained-glass windows, was endowed with a religious symbolism that bordered on the comical.  And yet this simple symbolism possesed a gravitas, a subtext, a historical context and the faith of so many thinking people that it was impossible to dismiss."  from Jo Nesbo's, "The Son"

QUOTE II:  "A son's responsibility isn't to be like his father, but to be better than him."  same source.


From the Diocese of Cleveland Newsletter:  Bishop Lennon recounts his experience his experience with the Pope during his recent visit.  Read and see video HERE.

You might have read here a lot about a Mother Mary Thomas painting a giant mural and I said that there was a reason for this painting.  It was originally intended for a parish in Philadelphia, which unfortunately closed before the painting was completed.  It was then thought that it could be given to the Pope when he visited the United States.  Funny thing that - it isn't finished yet.  So a copy was brought to New York during the Pope's visit and unveiled and the hope is to offer a finished painting next year.

FOX news coverage of the painting HERE.

You may find the Plain Dealer coverage and photos HERE.

Monday, September 21, 2015


This is turning out to be the worst possible week to take off ever.  Planned a year in advance as the only week this time of year that it seemed NOTHING was going on, it turns out, at the last minute, that just about everything that could be going on - is.

And the best part about that is . . . It doesn't matter because I'M ON VACATION!


I'll catch up with you on Monday next!

Friday, September 18, 2015


Paragraph 59 of the GIRM

Okay, I was wrong.

Live and learn.

So one of the very few sadnesses that I have becoming a priest is no longer having the opportunity to read Paul.  Too often he is read like this (which I know some people prefer)  

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. ;>)

How fun he can be to read however!

YOU, my brothers and sisters, were CALLED. TO. BE. FREE.            But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another.  Humbly.  In love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.[b] 15 If you BITE and DEVOUR each other, watch out! or you will be destroyed by each other.

As the celebrant, it is rare that we do not have a reader so I don't get to read him.  Almost as rarely do I get to read the Gospel because we have a VERY dedicated and great deacon who assists at almost every Mass.  UNFORTUNATELY he broke his ankle (stay off ladders dude!  There are plenty of people in the parish who will climb them for you!) so the job of reading the Gospel was opened for a spell. 

So I'm all excited that I get to read the Gospel for a spell.  THEN - preparing for today's post I read that perhaps I was not the preferred person to read the Gospel.  (sigh)

Here is the scoop on who is to read what:

Proclaiming the readings is not a presidential function (done by the celebrant) but a ministerial one.  First preference is that the readings are done by a lector or reader.  The Gospel is most properly proclaimed by a deacon.  If there is no deacon ANOTHER PRIEST (who is not the celebrant.)  Ah!  We had an embarrassment of riches for a short spell here at St. Sebastian, which came to and end yesterday of all days.  As a matter of fact, we had three priests on for Mass yesterday morning.  I was the celebrant and as such was not the one to read the Gospel.  It was properly the role of one of the other priests.  ONLY IF the deacon and other priests are not present should the celebrant read the Gospel.  And if there is no "suitable reader"  (it is not a right, one MUST be able to to do this well) then the celebrant may read the readings.

Now, I know to many it may appear that all these rubrics seem rather silly.  "Who cares who reads what?"  Right?  But there is always a reason behind every one of these rubrics.  Remember that we had 2,000 years to work up to this and many things are put into place to solve problems and misunderstandings.  When even simple things are misunderstood, they can lead to much larger misinterpretations that speed and cause huge problems.  So - proclaiming Paul - is this a presidential function?  Can nobody else do this?  Is the person who proclaims Paul acting in persona Christi?  Does one need to be ordained to do this?      (These were just a few things off the top of my head - I'm sure there are much better reasons if given a chance to think about it.)

Thursday, September 17, 2015


I had an occasion to go to an Apple store recently.  For the first time I went unaccompanied by an adult in the computer world.  I was intimidated.  I didn't know what I was doing, what questions to ask, or even really what I needed.  I felt out of place and out of touch.  But I put my big boy pants and went.

The store was by far the brightest, cleanest storefront in the mall.  It's presence just stuck out like a cathedral in a medieval town.  They capitalized on the energy of the store having the entire front open so that you could see the energy of all the people.  But this was also off putting.  What am I supposed to do when I go in there???

The atmosphere was almost Church like.  Every inch of space told you exactly where you were.  Instead of a crucifix the Apple apple was prominently displayed.  Saints were picture along the walls (outrageously happy people using Apple products.)  There was a recognizable clergy of sorts wearing habits of blue shirts with crucifixes - er - I mean apples on them.

So I walk in and an extremely pleasant Apple clergyman walked up to me and said, "Good evening, how may I help you?"

I showed him the object in my hand and said, "This either doesn't work or I am ignorant.  I am not sure which."

He directed me to where in the store I should go and what I should expect.  A lady came up to me and addressed me by my first name (which I have never gone by in my life but whatever) and she heard my confession - er - I mean listened to the difficulty I was having with my product. 

She apologized profusely that she didn't know enough about the thing that I brought to her and talked into her collar (microphone of some sort) and another, extremely polite man came over and she explained the problem.  "Well, let's see what we can do for you sir.  We are here to solve problems!"  And he explained to her, "Why don't you stay with us so you can learn how to do this in the future," for which she seemed genuinely grateful.

During this time the staff interacted in a most interesting way.  One person crumpled up a piece of paper and another reached out to take it and throw it away.  One person stated that they were going to go do something and another said, "I'm on my way, let me get that for you."  It was like the whole place was an old couple still in love and anticipating the other's well known needs.  There were lots of "Thank you" and "excuse me's."  I told my cleric, "Everyone is so polite here."  He smiled and simply agreed.   Then I said, "I imagine the people with whom you deal are not always so polite back."  It was then that I saw only the mildest of breaks in the facade.  For a moment there was a ruffled brow and a deep breath and as he blew the wind out of his lungs he simply said, "Well, you know . . . " and then perked right back up.

One of the Apple clerics showed me a computer.  "This is like art!  Like a Michael Angelo the way it was constructed!"  I thought that was a little over the top but without fail they all appeared to believe in the product they were selling.  Knowing that I was a priest, he showed me how to see the Vatican on the computer.  I thought that was thoughtful.  He could have picked Disneyland I suppose.

All and all it was a positive experience where I thought I was going to be miserable.  Granted, we are doing different things.  They are selling a manmade product for profit.  We are introducing people to a Person; Jesus Christ.  The Church is not a business but there are aspects of it that are business like and we could learn a thing or two.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Chances are that you parish does a lot of things.  There is prayer of course.  Probably a bunch of education for people of various ages.  There might be missions or talks.  Maybe some sports teams run out of your parish.  There are dances, festivals, and concerts.  There might be community events, picnics, and various social groups.  Hopefully there is a bit of social justice ministry taking place, clothing, feeding, advocating, and the sort.

But what is at the heart of it all?  Why does the parish exist?  From what does all this activity flow?

It is not an idea.  Not even a really, really good idea or theological construct such as how you will be saved or Who might do it or even if you can do it on your own.  

It is not a thing.  Not even the Bible which many stand on alone.  It is not a building, or a territory or money.

It is not a human person.  A Catholic parish is not centered on the personality of a priest or any human person.

All of the above things may be very, very important, but they are not the source and center of the Catholic parish life.  What is at the center is a Person.  A Divine Person.  God.  And not in the way that He is generally available to all at all times in a sunrise, in the flight of a bird, or in the firmament.  And not in the way we should see Jesus in every human face.  And not just in the way in which any of us could close our eyes and call on Him and He is there.

Rather, for the Catholic, his parish is centered on Christ is wholly and substantially present as he was 2,000 years ago.  This Divine Person is present in a specific locale and is immediately present to the senses.  And not just to be seen, but touched and brought into our very bodies.  It is an intimate relationship with this Divine Person that is the heart and engine of a parish.  It gives life to and flushes out everything else from what Scripture means to what the parish dance will look like.

If you want a healthy parish, it begins there.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object present to your senses."  C. S. Lewis

QUOTE II:  "When life shuts a door, open it again.  That's how doors work."  Captain Obvious


From the Diocese of Cleveland Newsletter:  HERE is more information about the Papal visit to the U S of A.

This video is a 10 minute segment from the movie "Compulsion," which you can watch on Apple TV.  It's an interesting pro-life speech given by Orson Welles concerning the death penalty in a case that involved the ruthless and brutal murder of a child.

Sunday, September 13, 2015


In case you were wondering how you might know if you've been paying too much attention to the media, this little scenario, that happened this Sunday morning, might help you determine that:

Gee but did I have a long hard laughing fit after they went into the church.

Friday, September 11, 2015


The story you are about to read is true.  Only the names and location has been obscured to protect the semi-innocent.

So I was a young seminarian attending a Mass at which a prominent person from another religion was in attendance.  The presider, wanting to show how open, welcoming, and progressive we are decided to change one of the readings at the Mass to a reading from this very non-Christian tradition (along with some interesting rite and prayer from the honored guest after Communion.)

Now, I know there will be people who say, "Great!  It is about time that Catholics stop naval gazing and open wide the doors to everybody.  We are not so fragile that letting someone in to do something like this will make us fall apart.  Get over it and broaden your horizons."

I am not one of them. 

Now, don't get me wrong.  I am not opposed to experiencing someone else's "scripture" or even witnessing their rites (within reason - well, my reason.)  Just not at the Mass.

The Mass is the very epicenter of our covenant.  The very epicenter of the marriage covenant is the "marital act."  You don't (or should't) just let anybody into the bed with you in order to broaden your horizons and show how open you are.  It is the same with Mass.  The Bridegroom is giving Himself in the most intimate way to His Bride.  That is why we don't have what was once called, "Eucharistic hospitality."  You either are in this marriage or you are not.  If you are, welcome.  But there are no strange bedfellows here.  (Did I just take the analogy too far?)

"In the readings," paragraph 57 of the GIRM states, "the table of God's Word is spread before the faithful, and the treasures of the Bible are opened . . ."  These contain the words of love and longing of our Father for His children and of the Bridegroom longing for His Bride (aka salvation history.)  They are the prelude to this most intimate moment between our God and us.  Therefore, not only may we not substitute another faith's reading, we may not even substitute another Christian reading as has been done, for example, by music groups substituting a song for the psalms or having a reading of Dr. Martin Luther King replace the first reading on Martin Luther King Day.  
Even where the readings are read during the Mass is not something with which to trifle.  These readings belong to the Church and we have a right (and a duty) to them.  Therefore, in Masses with the people, says paragraph 58, "the readings are always read from the ambo."  (Funny, my computer kept changing ambo to Rambo.)

Thursday, September 10, 2015


We haven't has a quiz for a very, very long time.  How about one today?

True or False?

1. If you are divorced, you may not go to communion.

Being divorced has no status whatsoever because the Church does not recognize legal divorce except for the legal separation of property.  If a person does not act as though they are single (by dating etc) before they receive a decree of nullity, they may go to communion.  So the answer is false.

2. The Sign of Peace at Mass is not mandatory.

Recently Rome was asked this question and they responded that occasionally the sign of peace should even be skipped.  So the answer is true.

3. It is still Church law not to eat meat on Friday.

The bishops of the United States said that if you want to eat meat on Friday, you should do another penance instead.  So the answer is true but with qualifications.

4. Purgatory is a theological construct that was never an official part of Church teaching largely done away with after Vatican II.  It's purpose was to take a stab at understanding God's mercy in difficult situations.

The reports of Purgatory's demise are great exaggerated.  It is and always has been an official teaching of the Catholic Church though largely misunderstood.  The above description is a better answer for the idea of Limbo.  So the answer is false.

5.  Lectors and Acolytes are official offices in the Church into which one must be installed by the bishop and are not open to lay people.

Most of the people that you see reading at and serving Mass are not lectors and acolytes, they are readers and altar servers.  It is true that there is an actual office of lector and acolyte but they are open to lay persons though, for various reasons, bishops tend not to install them.  In fact, there was a long tradition of actual acolytes serving at our cathedral until a former bishop decided to bring the practice to an end.  For all these reasons the above statement is false.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


You probably heard a lot about annulments and the Catholic Church today.

This is great news for people who want an annulment but is meeting with mixed reviews by those who will be in charge of granting them.  So here are a couple of things to keep in mind while this gets sorted out.

1. The Church is not in the business of granting annulments, the state is.  Tell a canon lawyer that you want an annulment and he will sigh and roll his eyes and say as much.  It is impossible for the Church to nullify a marriage, the Church can simply recognize that there was a "fatal flaw" of sorts and that a sacramental marriage was never truly established.  

2. Pope Francis wants the costs greatly reduced.  In many places, such as the Diocese of Cleveland, it is already a free service of the diocese.  But for those in other places this is great news.

Now to be sure, the nullity process is cumbersome and I have long wished that it could be simplified. But part of the lengthening of the process was to put safeguards in place to protect the people involved as well as the upholding of the sanctity and indissolubility of marriage.  So now, many of the safeguards that were put in to place to make sure that there were no abuses to the system are being removed which will greatly cut down on the time and fuss.  

If I read correctly, the final buck stops with the bishop to make the final call (there has GOT to be a way around this) instead of a Tribunal judge.  The bishop must already confirm every Catholic in the diocese, approve all major work projects, run seminaries, hospitals, and school systems, speak out on important topics, and a billion other things that I won' even think of (please. Lord, NEVER make me a bishop) and now he must determine every nullity case in the diocese.  So now, not only does he have to review every case, there is now a time limit set by the pope.  How careful will a bishop be able to be?

So here is the problem that each bishop much work out before December 9th:

1. You will have to find a new way to pay for this process.
2. You will have to personally find a way to handle the cases.
3. You must do it more quickly.

It reminds me of a sign I saw in store once: 

You may pick two of the following:
You may have your project done - 
       1. Quickly
       2. Cheaply
       3. Well

Alright bishops:  There is your mandate.  You do not get to choose to you must do all three.

I am both excited about this and worried.