Monday, September 29, 2014

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF BABES

It is always interesting to hear what you tell kids and what comes back out.

A Mom came up to me at Mass this past weekend and told me the story about her son.  At St. Sebastian Parish School we require the boys to wear ties for Mass day.  Usually Mass is on Thursday mornings but occasionally for various reasons it is on another day.  Such a day was a couple of weeks ago.  And this took place:
So she asked him to find out why he had to wear his tie that day.  Apparently somebody didn't read my bulletin article.  (If you are reading this - I'm just kidding.) 
 
The reason we had Mass that day was because we were on the last day of our 40 Hours (Eucharistic Devotions.)  Also at that Mass we introduced the new parochial vicar at St. Sebastian.  I'll let him introduce himself here.
Yes, he's one of those.

Anyway, Fr. K will be with us for the next 10 months (well, just slightly over 9 now) and he was introduced to the school that day.  The following was the result.
Actually, with this pope, it seems feasible. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: WHO IS JESUS ANYWAY AND HOW CAN WE FIND OUT?



Dei Verbum paragraph 23
 
 
Do you have Ratzinger’s (aka Pope Benedict, aka Pope Emeritus Benedict) books on the shelf entitled “Jesus of Nazareth” with the intention that “someday I will get around to reading this.”  Well, today take the first volume off of the shelf and read just the forward.  You will see echoes of today’s paragraph ringing loudly and clearly. 
 
Sacred Scripture is a living thing which we are to strive to ever more understand it that it might bring us life.  Like heat from a fire that brings us warmth, Scriptures are designed to bring us insight, freedom of mind, and hope.  But there are just so many ways to screw that up.  In that forward, Benedict rips on some of the ways that exegesis is done today that make Jesus incredibly distant, or nonexistent, or into a remarkable carbon copy of the person who is doing the exegesis. 

 

John Cardinal Newman once said, “To be steeped in history is to cease being Protestant.”  When trying to figure out what Scriptures is saying we must take into account G. K. Chesterton’s Democracy of the Dead.  What have Christians been saying since the beginning of the Church? (and not just what someone tells you it said.)  The Church Fathers of both the east and west give remarkable insight into the early Church and Scripture. 
 
Recently, the local megachurch which is also anti-Catholic (in that they teach false things about the Church and then proceed to tear those falsities down and ask those who correct their misinterpretations of the Church to kindly never come back) asked to come and take pictures of our church building for a talk they were giving.  I am sure it will involve popish comments about how we make things up and that their services are much closer to what first Christians did.  But read the early Church fathers (first, second, third centuries) and you will find us doing the exact same thing that the early Church was doing.  In case you were wondering, I let them come.  Maybe someone will see the pictures, hear something that doesn’t quite jive, and be lead to explore this interesting building and be led to the faith.  Who knows?  Say a prayer.
 
But this is also why exegesis is done “with the mind of the Church.”  It is not because the Church wants to control over everybody but because there is truth and falsity.  One can fall way off of the track and end up leading others into a ditch going nowhere. 
 
Christ is the bridegroom and we are His espoused taught by His Holy Spirit.  The Bridegroom leads His spouse into truth and freedom.  The Magisterium (at its best) makes sure that the fields of exploration are fruitful ones.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

THE LATEST THING WE CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT (AND DIDN'T KNOW IT)


Books and programs come by about once a year that promise to rejuvenate the parish, save Catholic schools, cut down on the work load for the clergy, and in general bring about the parousia.  Cynical might best describe the attitude this author has developed.  Everyone gets all hot and bothered.  Committees are set up. Programs are held.  Speakers are brought in.  Posters are made.  Commitment weekends are staged.  And there will be some amount of success at least for a time.
 
First important lesson I learned: Every program that promises to make less work for priests will inevitable cause a ton more work for priests.  Period.  Don’t even go there with me.
 
Secondly, of the ones that work well, they tend to be emphasized aspects of what we should already be doing.  But it is kind of like lent; you can only keep the extra energy and focus up so long and then you fall back to a “ordinary time” state.

 



Now, I don’t want to put every program down and there will always be a couple of people whose lives were completely changed and now they are “active” parishioners.  So there’s that.  And I’m not saying I wouldn’t do another program, I probably just won’t put all my hosts in ciborium.
 
That being said there are two books that are making hot tracks around the diocese and as a diocese we are setting up programs to see what fruit will come from them.  The first is “Forming Intentional Disciples.”  The book upon which it is based, IMHO, could have probably been a pamphlet.  But its message is great.  We can’t be passive Catholics who go to Mass on the weekend.  We must be God’s agents on earth whether that involves being active at Mass or telling your wayward nephew to get his keester to Mass. (That was snarky but you get the point.)
 
The other book about which you may want to be aware is “Rebuilt.”  It is ideas from a pastor and his deacon who took a failing parish and breathed new life into it.  They openly discuss their failures and successes.  It is an interesting read.  I think there are some great things to learn from it though I don’t know that I would buy the whole thing.  (We have been talking about it at parish pastoral council.)  And it is obvious that his parish is some place warm as they talk about having parking lot ministers.  Try that in December in Ohio.
 
In any event, chances are these books or at least the ideas from these books are coming your way.  Watch for them in a parish near you.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

CHANGE: FOR MORE THAN PARKING METERS AND BABIES


The author of “How Google Works” was interviewed on the radio yesterday.  The book tells about how Google stays on top of the market by constantly reinventing itself.  He gave several examples (only one can I remember – sorry!) of businesses and institutions that failed to be innovative and suffered because of it.  The one I remember is the post office.  Had they be been innovative and adaptive, according to the person who wrote the book, they would have realized that parcels are still unable to be sent person to person over the internet and would have switched from letters to focusing on packages along the lines of UPS and would have fared much better.

 

This seems like a perfectly reasonable assumption and there are truths about it.  We might even look back and think, “Of course!  Had they only . . .”  But it is one thing to look back and think, “If they’d only changed this one thing” as opposed to being on the other end, “What is the thing we have to change to deal with this unknown future?”

 
The Church suffers from the same thing.  It seems to have a general sense that it constantly needs to change in order to stay relevant in people’s lives, but it suffers from knowing exactly WHAT to change.  So we have tried all kinds of things.  Change the music, change the seating, change the words of the Mass, add dancing, change the teaching, change the preaching, change . . . well, you get the point.
 
I would contend that we have far too often changed the wrong thing.  The post office still needs to deliver things.  If it suddenly decided to start raising horses like it did during the pony express, it might be a really great gimmick, make all the press, even call us out of our homes to watch a parade of them go by, but it wouldn’t really help the bottom line of the post office.  The right thing has to be changed.
 
It is not necessarily the music or the vestments or the perfect seating arrangements that will make things better in the Church (though they can help) and it won’t even be changing our teachings.  Rather, it will be emphasizing those teaching that speak to people’s hearts in a particular age.  In what areas do our youth’s hearts ache today?  There is an angle of our beliefs already in our books and in our hearts that can speak to that.  You won’t speak to it simply by playing music louder and the priest wearing jeans at Mass.  But after showing them how the faith speaks to their hearts, you can then open the rest of the world to them.

Monday, September 22, 2014

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: A TIME TO STRESS, A TIME TO CHILL

There are approximately two million Slovenians in the world and I am one of them.  It is my opinion that there are generally two types of Slovenians.  They are distinguished in how they deal with time.  Take the following two cartoons as examples:

The first type almost invariably marry the second type.  This was most noticeable on Christmas Eve going home from Grandma and Grandpa's house.  Dad and I would be sitting in the car with the engine running because we all agreed it was time to go home and Mom was inside for a good extra half hour/45 minutes "saying goodbye."
 
Yes, I am of the first category.  I didn't think so until our new priest came to stay with us.
Still, I could convince myself that others just didn't get the value of time.  But then I received a sign that maybe I was going a little overboard.  Next to the door where we enter the sanctuary for daily Mass, there is a clock that ticks down the seconds until the bells are going to ring.  I usually have us line up after prayer and watch the clock, ticking down the seconds like New Years Eve in order to start Mass. 
 
It hit me that perhaps I am a little overboard when this past week, during the marking of the seconds, one of the servers broke out in . . .


Friday, September 19, 2014

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: THE PHONE COMPANY USED TO CHAIN PHONE BOOKS TO THE PHONE BOOTH TOO

There was story about the Catholic Church that it used to chain its Bibles in the back of the church so that lay people could not take them away with them and have access to the Bible in their own home.  This is absolutely true.  Although the allegation was that they were doing so in order to keep Sacred Scriptures out of the hands of the faithful and therefore have greater control over the faithful, it was actually because all books were written by hand and were exceedingly expensive, rare, and time consuming to produce.  If you remember bank pens that were chained to the table where you wrote your deposit slip, the bank wasn't trying to keep pens out of the hands of non-bank personnel, they were trying to keep pens available to everybody.

 
In today's paragraph of Dei Verbum (22) the Council Fathers state that the Scriptures ought to be open to all the Christian faithful.  Not as easy a task as you might imagine.  A friend of mine has a parish not too far from here.  Once an exclusively English speaking neighborhood (after being heavily Italian) it then turned Spanish speaking then to be overwhelmed with (I believe) Korean speaking persons.  Now, if you have a few monks writing things out by hand and you are trying to make Scriptures available and it takes a couple of years to produce a book, how do you even get one done before a whole new group speaking a new language takes over the neighborhood assuming you have someone who can translate the Bible into their language in the first place? 
Easier it is today but not easy.  Who speaks Korean?  How do you have Mass and preach?  How do you find money to buy new song books and etc.?  If only we had a universal language.  But even if you do (and we do as reaffirmed by the Vatican II documents) that doesn't mean everybody understands it either.
 
Be that as it may, the Church promotes the translation of the Scriptures into all languages and even encourages, when it is possible and is deemed helpful, to translate them in cooperation with "separated brethren" so that one translation may be read by all Christians.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

FEELING BLUE? HERE'S A LITTLE TLC TO HELP YOU LOL


There was a story on the radio about a guy’s first encounter with the acronym “LOL.”  His son signed off on a text to him with it and he assumed (as any good father would) that it meant “Lots of love.”  He spent the next month or so with the new found and what he thought of as hip knowledge writing notes to people such as, “Dear Max, I heard about the death of your dog.  You are in my thoughts.  LOL, Dan.”

 

I only learned about these types of things when I started writing this blog and people would send me notes such as “ROFL.”  This would then require a trip to the day school to ask one of the students, “Okay, what does this one mean?”
 


The other day I was at our seminary and was astounded at all of the initials I encountered.  I am rather used to them and wonder what non-Catholics think about all of our nomenclature.  Some of them are particular to this diocese but not all of them.
 
While at the seminary I encountered SNDs and OSBs.  I was reminded that we were at the CPL which is mighty close to our newly designated PCLs which used to be DREs, but was changed because it was considered more appropriate to call them PCLs.  PCLs, formally known as DREs, are often in charge of PSR programs which used to be known, when I was a kid, as CCD classes.  Often parishes will send persons to the CPL to become a PCL in order to head up their PSR and RCIA classes.
 
But not only parishes will do this.  SNDs and OSBs as well as a host of other initials send their initials to the CPL to that we can have SNDPCLs or OSBDREs so they can help teach RCIA in parishes especially since PVs, formally known as associate pastors, are becoming rarer.
 
But can you imagine an OSB who has taken over a parish sending his OSB PV to the CPL to become a PCL (not a DRE) in order to do RCIA and PSR?  He would be an OSBPVPCL who could also help coach CYO.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

EVEN THOUGH THEY SAID NOT TO, I ALWAYS FEARED THAT I WOULD LOOK AT THE FLASH


Do you remember fire drills?  Do you remember tornado drills?  Do you remember nuclear bomb drills?  Welcome now to the age of deranged shooter drills.  Statistically, none of these things will happen to your school or the schools around you, but it happens often enough that it is wise to be prepared.  Statistics are not really 10%, 20%, or even 70%.  For you, it is either 0% or 100%.

I remember seeing this movie in gradeschool.  Somehow I never believed my desk would protect me from a bomb.
 
I hate that we have to practice lock downs and evacuations.  But what I do like is what a Catholic parish school can bring to the mix that nobody else can.  It is the same balm that is of aid for those going to help with the Ebola virus, the wars we are continually gearing up for, and freaky things like the school bus driver who died yesterday saving a 9 year old from the path of a runaway bus.  It is the sacrament of confession.
 

If you are part of the 100% statistic instead of the 0%, some may see it as simply tragic.  But we believe in everlasting life and being prepared for it whenever it should come.  This sacrament makes us always prepared.  Our goal is not to be here forever.  We are waiting in the airport terminal.  Granted, it is a great airport and is meant to be enjoyed.  But it is an airport, not our destination.  In this crazy age when planes are cancelled, rescheduled, or change locations, we must be prepared.  It doesn’t matter when the plane leaves, the point is to be on the plane when it does.  That means being vigilant; making sure the bases are covered; and having soul and body ready to go when the time comes.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CCCXXIX

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "People who have been on the wrong side of rumor know when to keep their mouth shut."  from B. A. Shapiro's "The Art Forger"
 
QUOTE II:  "I have learned that once you have done a risky thing, it is quite easy to do it again."  same source
 
IN OTHER NEWS:

You must go to the site to see today's video sent in by Mary.  I have the movie and the box says little about it so I was uninterested in watching it.  A priest friend watched it on line and said it was great though some people may not like the subject matter.  (It was great to see that there are good priests out their doing the right/rite thing.)  I put it on in the background while working on other things and eventually it sucked me in.  It is a full length movie.  Go here to see it.
 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUSIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE

Homilies are a funny thing. At least this has been my experience.   They kinda have a life of their own and don't take to being "managed" very easily.  For me, each homily is a unique thing - like an ill trained dog. 
 
The first acquaintance with a new homily is usually during a holy hour on Tuesday.  The Scriptures are read and rough ideas start forming.  But more likely than not, there is no prodding it along on my schedule.  For the first part of the week or more it is like walking Sebastian when all he is interested is smelling things and paying attention to things going in the other direction.
Then something will hit.  This week it was seeing a Druher drawing of Hercules in the wilderness kicking it up with the ladies Vice and Virtue.  Then things start taking off as ideas race around my head.
I think I know where it is going but I am often wrong.  I've heard people who write books talk about this.  "All of sudden my characters start saying and doing things all on their own."  I think I see a clear highway ahead but who knows where the homily is going at that point.
It can end up anywhere.
But it seems to work.

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: SO NOW THAT WE HAVE THEM, WHAT DO WE DO WITH THEM?

This was written earlier but things got so crazy at the parish there was no time simply to post it!  Here is Friday's installment of the next chapter of Dei Verbum.
 
So a priest friend who shall remain anonymous in order to protect his reputation, brought a movie over to watch about two years ago. “Dudes,” sayeth he, “this is in my book as part of the 100 must see movies so it must be good.”


Don’t believe everything you read.


And thusly did we watch, “The Way We Were.”


What an awful film. We just kept saying, “We don’t like these selfish characters. They shouldn’t be together and in any case, we are beyond caring.” Reading the “100 Movies Book” a little more closely it was disclosed that the authors also thought it shouldn’t be on the list but because it was so popular they felt obligated. (Talk about peer pressure at its extreme.)


This summer, in contrast, we went to the Ohio Shakespeare Festival at Stan Hywet Hall. We watched a much older story and were captivated by it. The clothes, dialogue, hairstyles, and popular culture topics were similarly out of date in this one too, but it still enthralled. This is because one speaks to our humanity more universally and the other . . . it just doesn’t.


So it is with Scripture. The Church uses Sacred Scripture because it continues as a “pure and lasting font of spiritual life.” It is the voice of the Holy Spirit sounding again and again and along with Sacred Tradition, presented with the Holy Eucharist to bring life and meaning and freedom to God’s holy people. Our preaching and, in fact, everything about this Christian faith is nourished by our Scriptures. They continue to speak to us because there is something basic about our humanity which is revealed in them. They remain relevant in the same way but only more fundamentally so as does a good Shakespearean play.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

ITS ALL GOOD


I can’t think of a thing to write about today.

 

That is to say, I can’t think of ONE thing to write about.  There is just so much.  There is an incredible amount of GOOD happening within the Church but that isn’t nearly as fun as talking about the bad.  And even though the bad is miniscule compared to the good, sometimes it seems overwhelming whether it is attacks from without or seemingly rotten undermining from within, intentional or unintentional.
 

If too much time was spent on the negative, one could despair.  The problems could seem so overwhelming that we could feel powerless and just give up.  But history teaches us important lessons against this mentality.
 
Religious orders have died and religious life sprung back and flowered.  The Church has been viciously suppressed by governments and has been the government and back again.  At one point, 70% of the Church was in heresy and then the heresy passed.  We’ve survived “the bad popes” and have, especially recently, been blessed with saints.  Clergy and lay have lost contact and been best friends and back again.  Religious institutions have been rigorously Catholic, lost their way, come back, and lost their way again.  Catholics have been put on pedestals and hung on crosses.  Which all goes to say, no matter how good or bad it may seem to you, God’s Church prevails across the great arc of its journey through time giving further proof that the Church does not exists because we are so clever, but that it is the one true Church inspired by the Holy Spirit.
 
That is not to say we sit back then and let happen what will.  We are not fatalists.  But all things work to the glory of God and we can be used as sons or as tools as the Church moves forward through time and in the end.  And though being Christian in any given situation may be a trial for some, in the end we would rather be sons and daughters.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CCCXXVIII

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "The defeated adversary learns from his first rebuff the character of the thing he has attacked; discovers its weak points; he learns how his opponent may be confused and into what compromises that opponent may be led."  from Hilaire Belloc's, "The Great Heresies"
 
QUOTE II:  "What we are commonly told is that the Western Empire was overrun by savage tribes called the "Goths" and "Visigoths" and "Vandals" and "Suevi" and "Franks" who "conquered" the Western Roman Empire . . . There was no barbarian conquest, but there was a continuation of what had been going on for centuries, an infiltration of people from outside the Empire into the Empire because within the Empire they could get the advantages of civilization."  same source
 
IN OTHER NEWS:

You might know the name Joel Osteen. He is the minister who teaches a prosperity Bible and claims that if you are a good enough Christian, God will reward you by giving you a cushy life. Since the above is focused on heresy, I though to post this link sent in by Adam entitled, "Joel Osteen and His Wife are Heretics and That's Why America Loves Them."

A long while back I wrote about some paintings that were marked to be burned and I volunteered to give them a new home in the rectory.  Somebody then asked if I could post them and I never did.  I finally remembered and so here they are:

Near as I can tell this is St. Matthew:
 This is definately St. Luke:
 I think this is St. Mark:
 And this is Saint John:
 
 
 
Frank sent this video in:  (5 minutes)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUSIATINGLY TRUE STORIES: PARKING IN THE DRIVEWAY

There is something magical about a priest’s garage door. It attracts people like bees are attracted to flowers, like moths to light bulbs, like altar servers to matches. Every parish with which I have been associated, every priest I speak with has the same story: for some unfathomable reason people like to park RIGHT IN FRONT OF OUR GARAGE DOORS.
 
  Just recently I asked a guy, “What on earth made you think parking here was a good idea?” He said, “I wasn’t going to be here long.” Of course, this was after I had spent 20 minutes trying to find him on our 8 acre campus because I had to get to an appointment and was now going to be late. It’s like people who like to talk in doorways. “Here is a constricted area where people need to get through. I think I’ll stop someone here and carry on a conversation.” I don’t understand.
 
The apron to the rectory driveway is in ridiculously horrible condition. Even the 80 year old priest who lived here begged me, “Please, Father, let Fr. Ted fix this for you.” (He always spoke of himself in the third person, which for him was oddly endearing.)
I have standing orders to leave it permanently in third world status just to dissuade people from using the driveway as a convenient place to dump their cars.  There is tons of parking on our block, but I will admit that this spot is very convenient.  But not when it becomes a used car lot.
 
ANYWAY . . .  you may remember that I recently got a new-to-me car.  The windows are incredibly small and it is a difficult car to see out of.  I thought it was just me, but my cousin drove it other day and made a similar comment so now I don't just simply feel old.
 
It does not have a back up camera (though it really probably should) but it does make a "BEEP BEEP BEEP" sound if you get close to anything while backing up.  The closer you get to an object, the more quickly it beeps.
"Brilliant" you might think.  But no amount of genius can best my profound incompetency.  As I back out of my garage, the car always starts beeping because I am heading for a bush so I have learned to ignore it much to the chagrin of a seminarian who was living with us this summer and took to parking his car behind the garages.
I must say he was a really good Joe about it.  "Wow," he said, "The car is symmetrical again."

Another way in which my capacity for stupidity outstrips technology's ability to compensate is when I am initially backing up out of the garage.  The bay doors are EXTREMELY small and so the alarms go off right away and until the trunk makes it out of the garage.
So I've learned to ignore that part too.
Yes, someone with a pickup truck parked right up against the garages.  Just the bed of the truck was behind my bay and so I could not see it through the tiny rear window and ignoring the beeping because I thought it was telling me about the door opening, I smashed into the truck.
 
What goes around come around.  Apparently there were signs in the driveway telling people not to park there but they were taken down because they seemed pastorally insensitive and put offish (as opposed to having your car destroyed.)  But maybe the forepastors knew what they were doing.

Friday, September 5, 2014

FRIDAY POTPOURRI: ALL TOGETHER NOW


Dei Verbum paragraph 20
 
So the last short paragraph in this section I really should have included last week but . . . but I didn’t.  It simply rounds out the whole section.  The whole thing was a lot of writing to say that all of Scripture is important.  Supreme are the Gospels, the other New Testament writings are important in that they shore up and amplify the Gospels, and the Old Testament is indispensible as it enlightens us about God’s plan which reaches fulfillment in Christ.
 

You might think, “Well, duh.”  That may be because you are more Catholic than you think.  This is not the case for everybody in the world.  Have you ever gone to a Protestant service and it is obvious that the Gospel carries no different weight than another New Testament reading?  I certainly have.  And there are those who discount the Old Testament as . . . well . . . old.  And what does one do with house guests and fish when they become old?  They throw them out (or ignore them until someone else does.)  This is, of course, heresy.  (Throwing out the Old Testament, not throwing out fish which is a good thing.)
 
It is a very large Church.  More than half of all Christians on the face of the earth are Catholic.  (Hard to believe living the U.S. no?)  We live in varying places with varying pressures.  It is one thing to be a Catholic in Akron, Oh.  It is another think to be a Catholic in China or Bagdad.  Think of the difference between going to a truly Catholic college and one that likes to throw around the Catholic name but is normally Catholic at best.  The forces of what is floating around in the culture can influence what you believe about – Scripture for example.
 
Realizing this, the fathers of the council put this (and other) teachings together so there would be no ambiguity.  (The only problem being now one has to read them.  And they throw in a bunch of flowery and thick clarifying writing, necessary I understand, which makes it time consuming to peruse - my version of all of the documents having over 1,000 pages of tiny writing.)  Of course, I do not create such padding of my writing to make it appear that I have something to say.