Friday, October 21, 2016


Nobody has a right to any ministry at Mass save for the most important one which is to pray the Mass and offer up your own sacrifice.  Nobody has a right to be an altar server, EMHC, or even reader.  It is never recommended that someone be given a ministry to perform who can’t quite do it in order to be “fair.”  When the ministry becomes about a certain person, it is their mishaps or inadequacies that becomes the focus and the prayer of the congregation suffers.  

So, for example, in the absence of an installed lector, a reader may do the readings.  But, according to paragraph 101 in the GIRM, this person should be, “truly suited to carrying out this function and carefully prepared.”  This is so that when a reader reads, he or she does not become the focus of attention but that they become a finger pointing toward God, or, as the GIRM itself says, this is so that the congregation, “by their hearing the readings from the sacred texts  . . . may conceive in their hearts a sweet and living affection for Sacred Scripture.”

Of course, there is a certain amount of leeway here.  There is no universal test to be a lector.  Everybody has an opinion.  Readings should be more/less dramatically read.  They should be read more quickly/slowly.  There are considerations to be weighed such as how adequate of a sound system, if any, is used, how echoey is the space, to what group of people is the reading being proclaimed.  Absolute rules are difficult to put down for universal observance other than, “suited” and “prepared.”

Thursday, October 20, 2016


One of THE most intimate things two people can do with each other, even over and above anything physical that they might do, is to pray together.  During wedding prep I have had couples who were well versed in all of the things that should be put off until after their wedding day and are not the least bit shy about it, but ask them to pray together - alone - and more than just gra

ce or a Hail Mary (though I would be excited about that too) and many of them freak out - and I don’t use that phrase lightly.

Often, with these couples that I prompt to go home and try a prayer night, what I hear, when they report back, is, “It was so difficult!  Prayer is such a personal thing!”  These are with people who are about to become ONE and have done just about everything two people can do with each other (often including the man asking his partner to put poison in her body so that it cannot fulfill its mission to procreate) yet prayer is a wall that is almost too high for some to climb.

Why might this be?  In prayer you are exposing yourself at an incredible depth to another person - especially if at least some of the prayer is free flowing.  “What should we lift up to the Lord?”  Generally, in this type of open prayer, what we are bringing forth are the things that scare us, the future that we hope for, what we want on the deepest level and what we want to avoid, our vision is expressed, we expose the depth of our love, the strength of our faith, and perhaps what we assume about the other with whom we are one.  And all of this we invite the other to petition God with us that it might be realized or faced.  That means that we need to be on the same page.

Being a Catholic Christian is not something we tack on to who we are like “scrapbooker” or “Indians fan.”  These you can even despise and still love the other wholly - maybe even more so.  But being Christian is essential to us like being male or female.  If you cannot share or appreciate this, there is some serious discernment that needs to take place.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


It wasn’t a nightmare, but just the same it was a disturbing dream last night and its been difficult to shake.

The place of the dream was my sister’s house, the cast of characters was her cat and me.  I was working on some kind of project when it the thought came that what might solve the problem is a cat’s paw.  So I reached over to the cat, and remember, this was a dream, snapped off it’s front, right paw.  Being a dream, there was no blood, no mess, the cat didn’t even seem to mind that much.

Almost immediately it became clear that the problem with the project was not going to be solved by a cat’s paw.  It seemed so obvious that it would before hand but having done the deed, the futility of it became apparent.

Then the reality of what I had done became clear.  My sister would be home soon and she would see the cat.  There was no way to re-attach the leg even in such a wacky dream.  The cat seemed to be doing well on it’s three remaining legs and I knew that many four legged animals had lived happy lives on just three legs.  But none of the would help when my sister came home.  This was a gross act of selfishness and her disappointment was already palpable in my imagination.

The cat problem couldn’t be solved or covered up.  There was only one course of action.  I would have to confess to my selfishness.  But the thought of doing so was unbearable - that I had done something so horrible to my sister who does so much for me.  I was ashamed and desperate to find a way out but it seemed so hopeless.  I would have to face her.

Then the happy thought came that I could simply wake up.  What a relief!  And then I did much to my great joy.

It bothered me for some time after: Why would I have this dream in the first place?  The thing that clicked in my mind is that this is what facing our sins before God is like.  If we sinned and then were to see God as He is, He Who is Love, Life, Compassion, Mercy and Joy, the weight of our own sins would crush us.  They would be too much to bear.  Thanks be to God that He gave us the wonderful sacrament of confession to rid us of these terrible weights.  When we realize the gravity of our sins, we have a way to wake from them - shake them off with the morning dreams, and start anew.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Both secular and Christian humanists its have come to recognize that, without God, even the horizon of our moral judgment is wiped out."  from Dr. Ryan Toppings, "Rebuilding Catholic Culture"

QUOTE II:  "We have abandoned morality.  We have not ceased to be moralists."  same source


While I was away, Sebastian did play.  He'll put up with anything as long as it is from Marcy.
I must say I was a little disappointed that none of my local newspapers seemed to report anything at all (unless it was so small I just completely missed it . . . which is a possibility - so if you read anything at all about this in the Akron/Cleveland area, please comment) about the Wikileaks release of Emails describing Hilary Clinton's anti-Catholic "scandal."  Some people are able to work their away around what was said, others find it absolutely heinous.  

First, I suggest you Google Wikileaks site to read them for yourself.

Catholic News Service provide THIS COMMENTARY in an article entitled, "Leaked Emails Show 'Hostility' to Catholic Church, Some Say."

The NCR has an article HERE.

TIME magazine called it a faux controversy HERE.

Archbishop Chaput would beg to differ HERE.

You decide.

See you here?

I will be performing "The Ten Plagues of Egypt" with Dr. Wilding this Sunday at St. Sebastian at 3:30 in the Church.  Free and open to the public.
 Keep this in mind also!

Here is 2 minutes on how to share your faith at work:

Monday, October 17, 2016


This past Saturday there was an Octoberfest fundraiser at St. Sebastian.
Cute, kid.

There were a few events that night and I went to them dressed as a Slovenian (from the sunny side of the Alps as they say.)

I was somewhat happy to report that I was wearing these particular pair of lederhosen. 
That is, until there was a slight emergency.
I dropped something which would give away a terrible secret.
Furthermore, that I have been wearing them since high school did not mean that they actually still fit. Well, they fit as long as I didn't breathe too deeply, walk with too long of a stride, or bend much at the waist.  (Getting into the car was a real trick.)

So here's to everyone who helped me keep the illusion going!  Prost!

Friday, October 14, 2016


I grew up in a very small, ethic parish in which I was related to half of the congregation.  It had no boundaries so people could come from quite a distance.  We lived a couple of blocks away so if they needed a server, we got the phone call.  During the snowstorms of the ‘70s, my parents would slap cross country skies on my feet and send me off to serve morning Mass where it would be me, Fr. Ozimek, and Mrs. Bailey the organist having Mass - everybody else being trapped in their houses.

One day I walked in and Fr. Ozimek said, “You’re serving?”  Having been on the altar quite a bit at that point I responded, “Yeah.  I have to serve again.”  He got a very serious look on his face and corrected my sentence, “No.  You GET to serve again.”

He was correct.

In the absence of instituted acolytes, paragraph 100 uses a great word: lay people may be “deputed” to serve at the altar.  That word makes me think of a sheriff of a small town during the taming of the West tossing a gold star with the word “deputy” on it to someone who would help keep law and order in the town.

Now that I think about it, maybe it isn’t all that different.  Save for the star.

Altar servers have several possible jobs:
crucifer one who carries the crucifix
thurifer one who carries the thurible (the incense)

They also carry the candles, the bread, wine and water, and may even be deputed to act as extraordinary minister of Holy Communion along with a list of other jobs that any particular parish may load upon their shoulders.

Thursday, October 13, 2016


Today is just more of a report on what happened in Catholic Akron last night.

We had our inaugural Theology on Tap Akron at the Thirsty Dog Brewery Co!  Theology on Tap is a discussion series for Catholic young adults and their friends, married and single, in their 20s and 30s. Goals: ... Provide adult-level updates on topics of current religious or cultural  interest.
It was sponsored by Thirsty Dog and St. Sebastian Parish and was chaired by Mr. Eric Eirmanne and the young adults of the area.  There are two such programs up toward Cleveland that regularly get about 100 people but I was warning them not to expect too much.  It was new to Akron, not the easiest place to find, and was a little different.

So the set up began.  Here is where one would register and get a ticket.  $5 covered the food provided and helped cover other costs such as the speaker and so forth.
It couldn't be all done in one room so this room was used for food and the bar.
And this rooms was set up for the talk.
Then the people started pouring in.  And pouring in.  And pouring in.  I was expecting (hoping for) 50 people.  In the end, there was about 150 people present.  It is nice to be wrong sometimes.
I get excited by nun friends.  I am so glad they were there!
Fr. G David Bline, classmate, amazing priest of the great parish of St. Francis de Sales gave the first ToTA presentation.  He was wonderful as always.  It was nice to see so many of his parishioners coming to support him.  
ToTA will continue as a program running out of St. Sebastian Parish but we are looking for parishes and Catholic organizations to sponsor nights.  As sponsor, your parish/organization will be present on advertising, there will be the opportunity to present materials of upcoming events at your place that those in attendance might find interesting (we let people know about our 5K, concerts, the Academy, and such) and be given a couple of minutes to speak about those events during the night.

Sponsorship is $500 and helps defray the cost of the food, keep ticket prices down, pays for the speaker, tip, advertising, and other costs.  If you cannot cover the cost of the whole evening, you might be paired with another parish/organization.

Congratulations folks!

See more HERE on Facebook.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


It seems almost ever conversation these days ends with, “Father I want to ask you about the election.”  People are genuinely concerned more than I ever remember before.  It is the dirge constantly playing behind every conversation waiting to come to full volume.

Among many Catholics, there is a profound sadness.  Nobody is, and nobody has for quite some time fully represent us.  Like King David angering God by numbering his people and having to face one of three punishments, we always seems to be asking, not who will best lead us, but who will do the least amount of damage.

The Pope was asked about this conundrum and according to a CNS article he simply said that Catholics facing difficult political choices must study the issues, pray about the election and then vote according to their consciences.  He would never comment on a specific electoral campaign.  "The people are sovereign," he said. "Study the proposals well, pray and choose in conscience.”

So what is one to do?  The first is to be well formed.  It is not about what I may feel, what seems fair, or what I like.  We are a people of the Creed and that is something that we receive through faith in God in the Church.  We are formed by it, we do not form it. It informs and forms us and makes us one in faith.

The Catholic who has studied his faith at all knows that there are some things that far outweigh the other.  Issues about the economy are extremely important but it is dust on the scales when compared to the taking of the lives of the most vulnerable and innocent among us.  If the economy tanks, we may lose every penny we have a suffer terribly for it.  If we blindly allow the taking of innocent life as a right paid for by our taxes in order to have a better economy, then we have lost our very souls.  That has eternal consequences.  (See yesterday's post for resources.)

After being formed, we must be INformed.  “Study the proposals well,” says Pope Francis.  That does not mean turning up the volume when a political add is on T.V.  

Then pray whether you have made up your mind or not.  Someone else may need the prayer.  Do it seriously.  Make a holy hour.  Consider doing a fast of some kind.  The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has a novena for the election.  Pray first and then vote.

If you have done all of these things, then rest assured that you have done all that you can do at this point.  Stay informed and look for the next opportunity to be involved.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Secular universities have their dogmas too.  And dogma number one is that you can never prove things that you cannot see.  A dizzying diversity of opinion exists at most universities.  Unfortunately this is a diversity increasingly founded upon a dull, homogeneous skepticism.  Inside the secular university the rule of thumb is this:  you may take religion or leave it as you like, as long as you do not take it seriously."  from Dr. Ryan Topping's, "Rebuilding Catholic Culture; How the Catechism Can Shape Our Common Life"

QUOTE II:  "If the Church is to reclaim culture as a medium of God's saving work, then the living tradition cannot be consigned to the past.  It will have to become for us, our architecture, in our painting, in our music, in our literature, and in our theology once more a living and vital force if we are not to abandon ourselves to the spirit of the age."  same source


Intrigued by those quotes?  Dr. Ryan Topping, who was once a member of St. Sebastian Parish recently spoke to all of the pastors and catechetical leaders of the Diocese of Cleveland and had this book for sale.  I highly recommend it.  You can find it on line HERE.

A good number of people sent this video to me concerning the up and coming election.  It is 20 minutes long so settle in to watch it.

Are you in need of some guidance this election?  Here are some sites to assist you in forming your vote:

From the Diocese of Cleveland go HERE.
Article from CNS about notes from the pope when voting is tough HERE.
From the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops HERE.
Novena for this election HERE.
Catholic Conference of Ohio HERE.

Sunday, October 9, 2016


Thank you for popping back after my extended time away from the blog.  First I spent a few days with the dog and another brother priest and his dog "camping."  Then last week all the priests of the diocese were (supposed to be) with the bishop for what was part business and part retreat (and part playing cards.)

The two weeks were relatively stress free and the world seemed nicer and brighter and chores seemed easier to do.  One of the first when coming home from the bishop's meeting was to walk the dog.  

Whenever we walk through the park, I come across litter and spend some time picking it up.  I am not the only one who does this.  I know a number of dedicated neighbors who make it a point to try to keep our neighborhood looking fabulous.

It's just that I have come to know some people through their litter.  There is the person who ALWAYS gets a BIG GULP and drops it on the devil strip as he drives by.  There is the person who drinks cheap beer and "hides" the can under a picnic table.
But actually, when I think about the hundreds of people who use the parks near the parish, it is quite amazing that there is only a couple water bottles or forgotten socks or the like.

So coming home from retreat, I decide to have a better attitude.  
But God is ironic and loves to test you.  I kid you not - I was standing in the park picking up trash and feeling good both about myself and the people who left their trash behind and praying for them when I see a driver THROUGH HIS EMPTY COFFEE CUP OUT OF HIS WINDOW, PULL INTO THE PARK, PARK IN FRONT OF A PERFECTLY VIABLE TRASHCAN TO SIT AND LOOK AT THE BEAUTIFUL TREES.
How does God know exactly how to push you just a little further than you were before A) to show you that you are not as spiritually advanced as you like to fool yourself into believing you are and B) to show you that there is a WHOLE NEW level that you need to climb?

So of course I get all passive aggressive, go out in the street and pick up the cup, walk it over to the trash can which is RIGHT NEXT TO THE GUY IN THE CAR and say . .  
Well . . . there's two weeks down the drain.

Monday, September 26, 2016


1st:  Today is Sts. Cosmos and Damian Day!  The day on which I was baptized!  Woohoo!

2nd:  Consider taking a peek at the GoFundMe page for the new Catholic school in Akron for children with learning challenges: or CLICK HERE.

3rd:  Sebastian and I are leaving on vacation starting TODAY!  There probably will not be any posts owing to an expected wifi shortage but we shall see.

God bless!

Friday, September 23, 2016


GIRM paragraphs 98 & 99

Before becoming a priest or permanent deacon, a man must become an installed acolyte and an installed lector.  As a matter of fact, two seminarians who are associated with St. Sebastian, Mike Petkosik and Brian Petro are being installed as lectors this evening.  Please say a prayer for them.  Congratulations guys!

One thing that they make perfectly clear every year: this is not a step to the priesthood (though one must be installed as both an acolyte and lector before being ordained.)  But a layman may also share in these ministries if they are installed as such by the bishop.  This is different than being an alter server or a reader (open to just about any Catholic) at the Mass and involves greater responsibilities.

Interestingly enough, these two ministries are reserved for men.  And just like the case is that when a priest is concelebrating the Mass that he, as an ordinary minister of Holy Communion is to fulfill that role before and extraordinary ministry of Holy Communion, if an installed acolyte or lector is at the Mass, he should really fulfill that ministry before someone who has not been installed by the bishop.

 Besides those preparing for holy orders, I do not believe we have any further installed lay persons in the diocese.  At one time, the cathedral had only installed acolytes serving but they were disbanded in favor of expanding service at the altar to a broader number of people.  I would guess this would have happened about 25 years ago or so.

I do remember when John Paul II (now saint) allowed female altar servers.  It was intended for mission countries where the lack of boys (because they were working in the fields or whatnot) were not available.  As per usual, the United States picked up on it and ran with it and today it is far more common to have female servers than not.  If one reads the decree, it did say that where it is possible to retain the tradition of having all boys, it should be retained.  I think this was the incident that cause Mother Angelica to have her order return to the full habit.  

Aren’t we an interesting bunch?

It’s difficult enough running a parish.  I can’t imagine being responsible for the Church.  Every little thing you say, do, or decree not matter how well intentioned falls on deaf ears in some circles, causes undo rejoicing in others and major distress and anger in still others with unforeseen consequences.  Good thing it is the Holy Spirit at the helm.

Thursday, September 22, 2016


I was reading a fictional book the other day and it concerned a notorious criminal who went about in disguise.  In one location, the book said, he went about dressed as a Catholic priest.  This part of the book did not ring true to me and here is why:

When I go about town in my collar, people wave, say hello, and in general notice that a priest is in their midst.  I can take the same path 10 minutes later, be around people I know, and they don’t so much as smile at me.  I might wave and they will shyly raise their hand until it dawns on them who I am. 

“Oh Father!  I didn’t know it was you!  Are you incognito?”  And these are people who stare at my face every Sunday.  Nobody notices me - at least not at first, they notice the collar.  So for a criminal to go “unnoticed” by wearing a Roman collar just seems unrealistic to me.

It is why I am such a proponent for wearing religious garb in public.

EVERYBODY wears a habit.  If you want proof, go to a Rubber Ducks or any professional sports game and see how many habits you will come across.  You know who the hipsters are, you know who corporate America is, you know the Goths (are they still around?), you know who supports you team and you know who supports the competition.  

I understand that we want to blend in so that we are not “put apart from” the rest of the world.  I get that thought.  But gone too far to an extreme we blend in so well that we disappear.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Let’s go for walk.”

“No,” she responds.

He looks oddly nervous.  “Come on!  It will be nice.”

But she stands her ground.  “It looks like rain.”

“It won’t rain.  I promise.”  But yep, he thinks to himself, it does look a little like rain.

“I don’t want to go for a walk.”

A trickle of sweat runs down his back.  “Please.  I really, really want to go for a walk.”

She looks at him.  Why is he acting so strangely?  But now its a contest of wills.  “I told you, I don’t want to go for a walk.  You go for a walk.”

“No,” he say a little too emphatically and then tries more smoothly, “I really want to go for a walk with you.  Now.”  His eyes loose focus for a moment as his mind drifts to the very expensive ring he has buried in the sand.

One of my favorite parts of wedding preparations is getting to know the couple as a couple.  As part of that I ask how the engagement took place.  (This is oddly telling and the stories are great no matter how elaborate or simple the story.)  But after about 18 years of hearing these stories, I have a couple bits of advice for a couple that is hoping to be engaged:

Guys:  30% of the time the lady in these stories almost ruin everything because they don’t want to do the activity that you have picked out.  So many times I have heard, “And it almost didn’t work out because she started resisting this very carefully thought out scenario I had planned out.”  They laugh about it in my office but at the time they guy is one heart heart palpitation away from needing medical assistance.

Ladies:  If you think a proposal is in the near offing and your man starts acting strangely, consider going with it.  Here are some telltale signs:  Becoming unusually chatty.  Unusually concerned about time (which in his mind is timing.)  He keeps feeling for something in his pocket to make sure its there.  He is oddly insistent on doing something semi-romantic that you don’t want to do.  He might be overdressed.  He recently had time alone with your parents.  He seems distracted and slightly sweaty.  He may all of a sudden pull something like, “Let’s just go to the (pick unusual or meaningful place) before we go to the . . .” or “Let’s just stop at this spot for a moment,” while just a moment ago he was all concerned about arriving on time.

There are three possibilities going here.  You are about to be proposed to, he is just a hopeless romantic in general (a good thing to know,) or he wants to steal you purse.  Please be discerning.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "He who is swift to believe is swift to forget."  from Abraham Joshuaeschel's, "God in Search of Man."

QUOTE II:  "God is of no importance unless He is of supreme importance."  same source.


Cindy sent THIS SITE concerning the First Written Melody know to man.

Mary sent this interesting video in:

Here is our next installment: