Friday, January 23, 2015


Thanks to E L I found out that Adam's Ale has been nominated for an award!  Go HERE if you would like to vit for AA.  It is under the catagory "Best Blog by a Man."  At the bottoms of the page is a link that says, "Vote Here." 



Lumen Fidei chapter 4


Chesterton talks about how, when Christianity comes on the scene, God brings into the world the completely unreasonable virtues of faith, hope, and charity.  We are asked to have charity for the unpardonable.  Hope is only helpful when its cause seems lost.  And faith is the seemingly unreasonable hope of life after the crucifixion.  Yet it is these things, this in breaking of the Kingdom of God and of His love, that makes it possible for us to live together, to love each other and not use each other in utility.  It makes the world a better place.
Faith is not “for the faint hearted.”  It calls us to build just governments, to respect the created gifts given us, to respect life, and live in harmony.  It is essential to the proper functioning of humankind and therefore we must never grow shy about proclaiming the faith and inviting others to enjoy it.
This is a brutally short and synopsis of this chapter.  If it interests you, there is much more to read on the Vatican website!

Thursday, January 22, 2015


This week we are celebrating our titular feast of St. Sebastian. One event to help us celebrate is the unveiling of a new painting of patron.  Below you will see a painting of St. Sebastian done by Mr. Eric Armusik SEE HERE that we obtained a few years ago.  The painting below his was created by Mother Mary Thomas PCPA SEE HERE that was finished late last year (2014).  Here is the interesting thing about these two paintings: they are both depicting the exact same thing but in vastly different ways; the initial volley of the would be executioner's arrows at St. Sebastian.  But one is more symbolic and one is more literal. 
The first one by Mr. Armusik is much more realistic in the school of Carivaggio.  But the message he tries to get across is very symbolic.  That Sebastian's death is united with Christ's is symbolized through various means.  The base of the tree to which he is tied looks very much like the base of the Cross.  Five arrows are used to call to mind the five wounds of Christ.  That Sebastian was intimately connected to Christ is shown through the upward turn of his face and the expression of hope shining through his pain.  His left knee is slight raised off of the ground in a motion of trying to stand and lift himself toward God.  
This second painting by Mother Mary Thomas is much more in the style of El Greco.  The figures and background are much more imaginative but the details of the story much more literal.  What was symbolized above is made concrete here.  It is difficult to see because I was not able to get a good picture of this painting so if you want to see, make sure you stop by the parish this week.  Overlapping the images, the post to which Sebastian is bound is transformed into the Cross of Christ.  Along side the arrows that pierced St. Sebastian and the clubs that would eventually be the instruments of his death (to the right of the picture) is the arrow that pierced Christ side and His crown of thorns.  We don't have to imagine the connection of Christ and Sebastian as Jesus' arms are embracing Sebastian and he, with a serene look on his face, turns his head toward him, almost resting on Christ's chest as did the beloved disciple.
That is the exciting type of things art can do.  And it is also why I recommend parishes that can employ artists to create works unique to the parish.  Nowhere else in the world will you see these images.  You must come to St. Sebastian Parish in Akron.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015



I had every intention of blogging today but for the life of me I cannot get my pictures to upload (and of course today was all about discribing these pictures.)  It is time for me to go to the seminary now and too late to do something else. 

Anybody have any idea?  The error sign keeps saying, "Lost connection to server."


Fr. V

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT IS FOUND:  "Spiritless atheism has never produced fairy tales."

QUOTE II:  "What goes on in the university is the theory,of philosophy, what happens in the arts is the illustration of that theory, but what happens at your kitchen table or living room in interaction with your loved ones is the outworking of that theory."  Ravi Zacharias


Happy St. Sebastian Day!  Fr. Kovacina sent THIS in.  I SO want to do this.

Lynn sent THIS in: 13 Solutions for Parishes That Just Wont Sing.  It is an interesting blog.

Sunday, January 11, 2015


Oh the weather outside is frightful,
but the plane is so delightful.
So as long as down south I go . . .

I'll be back next week!

Friday, January 9, 2015


Lumen Fidei chapter 3
There is a lot of truth that we accept that is simply handed to us.  If I tell you that I typed this post on my computer and posted it, though you have no way (or even if you did you wouldn’t bother) of testing and knowing for fact the veracity of this supposed truth, you would most likely accept it for any number of reasons.  We also accept all sorts of other things because we are part of the community of man.  We receive our name.  We know a spoon is called a spoon and not a dump truck.  Community stores this collective knowledge and passes it on.  That is why we are Church and not a collection of “Me and Jesus” people.
We are most Church when we celebrate the sacraments and follow the teaching of our Church, which is kept safe for us through apostolic succession and Tradition.  When we step outside of these things we run the risk of losing truth (or truth becoming relative) and the unity of man (and man with God) is in jeopardy.
If this intrigues you, I invite you to read the whole thing which is much deeper than this little synopsis. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015


Yesterday there was a story about abortion on NPR and it is quite newsworthy alone to note that they actually used the “A” word.  The piece covered whether a new law in Texas was too burdensome on women seeking an abortion.  The new law would close a number of abortion centers because they did not meet the standard of an entity that medically treats people.  The burdensome aspects that were pointed out in the segment were three:
ü  Some women would have to drive further within the state.
ü  Those women would have to take more time off from work.
ü  They would also have to find childcare for the children they decided to keep.
The legal question asks is this law such a heavy burden that this new law must be thrown out.

Conversely, in today’s readings we are told that if we love God we will follow His commandments and His commandments are not burdensome.  They certainly seem so, however, given the poor way we have taught them.  They are presented largely as a set of “Don’t”s.  1) Don’t have sex outside of marriage.  2) Don’t use contraception.  3) Don’t support same sex marriage.  Etc. etc. etc.
So why does societies laws seem so pastoral and Christ’s seem so burdensome?  Because Christ is concerned about tomorrow and society is worried about today.  Society wants to solve your problem or need right now.  Christ wants you to experience freedom and joy in the long run.


Here is a silly yet pertinent example:  The last piece of pizza!


After having their fill of pizza, your friends say for you to have the very last piece.  They couldn’t possibly eat another bite.  You are full also but there it is: warm, salty, melted cheesy goodness.  Your mouth waters.  Your brain screams, “Take it!  Take it!”  The scent fills your nose with the promise of greasy delights.
Now, you certainly have the right and license to take that last piece.  You have the desire.  You have the support of the gathering.  So you go ahead and eat it and it is every bit as wonderful as you hoped.  But within minutes you ask yourself, “Why didn’t I stop?  Now I am stuffed to the gills.  I feel terrible.”  You go to bed on an overly full stomach and the next morning it is still sitting there and the thought pops into your head, “I’m going to have to work that off today.”
Let’s say you take your faith seriously which means watching out for yourself mentally, spiritually, and physically.  You exercise your freedom from having to eat that last piece and put it in the refrigerator.  In an hour you will not be thinking, “Darn!  I wish I had eaten that last slice of pizza.”  In fact, you feel comfortably full.  You wake up the next morning appropriately hungry for breakfast AND there is a slice of pizza in the refrigerator for lunch.
That is the freedom and joy God wants for you.  That is why His ways are not burdensome even when they seem that they are.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


Do you think American culture is completely lost?


I don’t.


At the very least I think it is salvageable.


Think of this:  Every year thousands of manger scenes are placed outside of churches, homes, and other public areas.  They are not alarmed, do not have guard dogs, they are not electrified to give a shock to somebody who touches them.  By and large, good sized and often expensive statues are set out on the lawn where I wouldn’t leave my bike overnight and there they sit during the Christmas (and advent) season mostly unmolested.  And when they are tampered with, it makes the news.  We still care.  There was only one incident of which I am aware concerning scores of Catholic churches in the Diocese of Cleveland this year. 




And there are scores of outdoor church manger scenes.


And millions of people.


There is hope.


We need now build on that hope.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "The strong cannot be brave.  Only the weak can be brave."  from G. K. Chesterton's, "Heretics"

QUOTE II:  "It is the humble man that who does the big things.  it is the humble man who does the bold things.  It is the humble man who has the sensational sights vouchsafed to him. and this for three obvious reasons:  first, that he strains his eyes more than any other men to see them, second, that he is more overwhelmed and uplifted with them when they come, third, that he records them more exactly and sincerely and with less adulteration from his more commonplace and more conceited everyday self.  Adventures are to those to whom they are most unexpected - that is, most romantic"  same source

Interesting 6 minute video:

Frank sent THIS VIDEO on policemen.  Thanks and thank you to all of our policofficers out there.  God bless you.

Fr. K's favorite card this Christmas:

Monday, January 5, 2015


Happy Epiphany!

As you can tell, I am back on the mend and almost caught up with all the work I was unable to do owing to being sick or because of holidays.  So today Adam's Ale is back up and running.  I hope you are back.
Christmas went well.  Sebastian was very happy.  You can see the result of his opening his presents below: 
One of my favorite presents was a copy of old movie entitled Jason and Argonauts.  Do you remember Super Host (those of you reading in the Cleveland area?)  He was a guy on channel 43 who dressed up in a sloppy version of Superman and hosted movies. 

Annually he would show the movie, "Jason and the Argonauts."  It was Saturday afternoon (I know, I should have been outside playing) and every year we would go to Mass on Saturday (I hated that) just as Jason started fighting the skeletons.

I never did see the end of the move.  What happened to the evil Acastus?  Did he beat the skeletons?  Did he return the golden fleece to home?  What happened between Jason and Medea?  That was to remain forever a mystery.

That is until one day when I was preaching and told the story about always having to leave home for church JUST as Jason started fighting the skeletons.  Some kindly parishioners made a gift of the movie at Christmas this year!  What a great thing that was!
So Fr. Kovacina and I sat down and watched the film the other night.  You know what.  I still don't know what happened to all of those characters.
There was only about three minutes of the movie that I hadn't seen! 

As the reviews point out, the movie never resolves itself.  It ends in the middle of the story.  What happens the characters is left up to your knowledge of Greek mythology.  If I could have accepted the idea the Jason most probably beat the skeleton army I would have, in fact, known the end of the movie since I was a little kid.
Turned out that going to Mass was the right thing to do.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014



Sorry there have been no postings but in addition to being very busy I have been as sick as a dog!  The Monday night before Christmas, I started not feeling right.  By Christmas night I was miserable.  The next two days I barely got out of bed.  Thank goodness for a quiet, warm rectory.  It hurt even to try to read so there were NO postings.  I think I'll pick up again on Monday after I am a little more caught up on things I haven't done.
In the meantime here is the transcript of this year's 4:00 Christmas vigil Mass.  As you may know, it has been a tradition at St. Sebastian for about 6 years that this homily rhyme.  Pressure mounts.  Expectations are high.  I was at the Cleveland Clinic and one of the doctors called out, "Looking forward to coming to St. Sebastian for the rhyming homily!"
Fr. Kovacina took on this heavy task this year and, except for the beginning, based it on the Chipmunk's tune, "Christmas, Christmas Time Is Here."  In case you are wondering, I will not be singing it in future years.
Here it is.  Good job Fr. K:
Vigil Mass for the Nativity of the Lord
I have heard it all around,

          how this homily is to sound.
I am a little nervous as you see,
          because this rhymings rather new to me.
But I hope you find the message true,
          thats Gods love is for me and you.
So lets begin this holy time,
          with our annual Christmas rhyme.
(Sung using an adapted melody based upon the Chipmunks Christmas song)
Jesus Christ was born today,
          the one we longed for and did pray.
Since its such a joyful time,
          angels come to hear this rhyme.
When we praise Emmanuel,
          God is with us, all is well.
His love is great, his love is true,
          and its all for you.
The birth of Jesus came to be,
          when Gabriel came to Mary.
By the Holy Spirits grace,
          God will save the human race.
She said yes to his great plan,
          the Word of God became Man.
In Mary's womb he was conceived,
          because she had believed. 
Joseph learned this in a dream,
          that this child will reign supreme.
He brought Mary to his house,
          and cared and loved her as a spouse.
While in Bethlehem Christ came,
          Jesus was the boys name.
In this holy little one,
          God gave us his Son.
When the shepherds came to see,
          what God had done for you and me.
They were overwhelmed with joy,
          at this little baby boy.
Here was God before their eyes,
          as they heard his baby cries.
The prophecies of old came true,
          when God did something new.
Magi followed a bright star,
          it guided them from all a far.
To the child they came and knelt,
          joy and peace was surely felt.
Bringing gifts for royalty,
          gentiles came in loyalty
To worship the new child king,
          who reigns o'er everything.
So now you know about his birth,
          and how much you are really worth.
In Gods eyes youre lovable,
          a treasure always valuable.
To share this good news is a treat,
          maybe put it in a tweet.
Jesus Christ was born you see,
          because God loves you and me.
To our parish family,
          thanks for being here with me.
Fr. Valencheck and crew,
          wish hope and peace to all of you. 
Lets include the parish dog,
          Sebastians in the eggnog.
To you and yours a merry way,
          on this Christmas day.

Thursday, December 18, 2014


Though dubious, when NPR reported that Pope Francis had said that dogs will go to heaven and thinking of my dog Sebastian, I texted Fr. Pfeiffer who has always maintained that dogs do not have immortal souls that, “HA!  IN YOUR FACE!  POPE SAYS DOGS GO TO HEAVEN!” though inside I was wondering, “How on earth can he say that?”


Well, as it turned out he said nothing of the kind.  There was a retraction in the New York Times the next day.  The “alleged” quote is now being attributed to Pope Paul VI who apparently said it to a young boy who he found crying in St. Peter Square.  “Paradise is open to all God’s creatures,” is the supposed quote though there is no hard and fast proof of it.  And, as one Catholic reporter for CNN wrote, “It’s called being pastoral.”  He was not trying to teach a crying boy doctrine but was trying to comfort him.  And this comment could be taken well within Catholic doctrine anyhoo . . . Scripture says there will be a new creation at the end times and what exactly that means we don’t know.

It’s like this:  When someone is very sad about the death of their pet and they ask me if they are going to see the animal in heaven I say (and this is where Fr. Pfeiffer and I butt heads) God guarantees you absolute happiness in heaven and IF you your absolute happiness depends on your pet being there, he will be there.”  Now that “IF” is a mighty powerful word and gets me out of a lot of theological trouble.  “I guarantee to make you pope IF another arm suddenly grows out of the top of my head at 2 o’clock today.”
ALL THIS GOES TO SAY don’t believe everything you read about the pope or the Church in popular media.  Don’t fly off the handle or start complaining to everyone in ear shot about the latest stupid thing someone in the Church did especially since the chances are it is exaggerated, mis-focused, or, as in this case, not true.  (Remember a couple of Easters ago they found the coffin of Jesus?)  This is just the latest in a long string of false or misleading reports AND IT IS GOING TO GET WORSE AS WE GET CLOSER TO THE POPE’S VISIT AND AS WE GET CLOSER TO THE 5OOTH ANNIVERSARY OF PROTESTANTISM IN 1017.  I beg you to exercise great prudence, patience, and fact checking when you hear something that sounds plausible, but just a bit off.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


A text appeared on my phone earlier this week stating that The Most Reverend A. Edward Pevec, DD, PhD, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Cleveland had passed away.  You may read more about his official time as a bishop as well as all of the funeral arrangements HERE. 


Bishop Pevec was of Slovenian descent as was I.  When I was in the seminary I used to sneak into the chapel late at night and play Slovenian hymns on the organ.  On a number of occasions I would be leaving and find that the bishop had been sitting there listening.  He would have tears in his eyes and he would shake my hand and say, “Thank you John.”  I have rarely, in my life,  ever gone by the name John but I didn’t mind him calling me that.

When I was named pastor of St. Sebastian, our ordinary was unable to have the installation ceremony due to his heavy schedule.  The Installation Mass is ceremonial and unnecessary, but then again so is a birthday cake and presents.  But such is life.
As I was leaving his office I was handed the list of auxiliary bishops of the diocese with their phone numbers.  “I heard that the bishop was going to be unable to install you as pastor so I took the liberty of putting these names together for you,” the person said.  At the top of list was Bishop Pevec.  So I called, somewhat embarrassed, “Hi, This is John.  Could you come and install me as pastor?”  It sounded pretty pathetic like “Would you throw me a birthday party?”  Anyway he jumped right on it.  “Of course I will.  When do you want it?”  He sounded rather enthused about though his schedule was probably packed too but he put me greatly at ease.
We had settled on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception which thrilled me.  It was a great crowd, which meant that more people than usual showed up on a holy day of obligation!  It was a wonderful night thanks to his generous spirit.

Rest in peace bishop.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "I guess it's inevitable; everyone's embarrased by their parents: your parents are hippies, you become a banker and vice versa."  from Michael Gruber's, "The Return"
QUOTE II:  "It seems awefully stupid to be afraid of death . . ."  same source

Fr. Damian wrote to his fellow priests. "I am sure that none of you listen to Taylor Swift, but I promise you that at least 85% of your teens and pre-teens do, and that they know her music well. Her new record sold 1.278 million copies in the first week. With that in mind, I reviewed her new record. You may want to share it with your youth minister of your middle school teachers."   HERE is the  link.

Adam sent in a link about an Our Lady of Guadalupe procession.  Video and article are HERE.

Christine sent this in:  "I’ve been meaning to send you this for a while. Sorry we’re already almost halfway through, but I thought you would enjoy this series of online advent calendar “windows.” If you go to, you can subscribe to her advent calendar and receive each day a cultural tidbit about advent. The previous articles are listed at the bottom of each post."  Videos included.