Sunday, September 30, 2007


There is a fine line to walk as Catholics when it comes to protesting alleged cases of anti-Catholicism. At one extreme are those who bristle at every perceived slight. The danger in this is that one could be labeled an extremist rendering one’s message worthless. The other extreme is to remain quiet and passive no matter what, which is simply escaping from real problems. Nothing good comes from that. But there is an in between in which sensible people decide that there are hills worth dying on and who pick their hills with care.

I tend to give great leeway to people who like to knock the Church simply because we are the big kid on the block. Fr. Benedict Groeschell describes the Catholic Church as a hippopotamus. No matter how gentle it tries to be it is so huge people can tend to get crushed so I try to listen with a sympathetic ear. So when I do decide to make my voice known in defense of the Church, I mean it.

Last week Adoro invited readers to write to Starbucks concerning this article to tell them that their song by Joni Mitchell that mocks Catholics is offensive and that they should do something about it. I didn’t jump on right on the bandwagon. I looked into it a bit, prayed, and though that I would contact the company.

In my letter to them I stated that I was a Catholic priest and that I found the message of the song reprehensible. “Do you also have songs slandering Jewish people or Muslims or atheists or coffee drinkers?” I asked. “Even if you do, this is inappropriate behavior just the same. I am disappointed.” Why did they decide Catholics specifically were Okay to attack?

The return letter stated that, “We understand that our customers have diverse tastes and perspectives. In selecting music, we strive to represent the work of a variety of talented artists who reflect many creative viewpoints. Starbucks is an avid supporter of free speech and the creative process. When considering new projects, our primary goal is always to help our customers discover and acquire quality music.”

Now, I could care less about the genre of her music. If it were the case that I simply did not like the type of music I understand that that is more my problem than anything else. But this was not about liking or disliking the music. The letter brought to their attention the message of the view being presented by them. And it was most definitely not simply, “a creative viewpoint” or “free speech”, but a clear message that they do not want me or my parishioners or fellow Catholic in their store. "Free speech", which they invoke, means debating ideas, philosophies, presenting alternatives, and such like. I have no problem with that. But even in an artistic representations ridicule and unfounded statements are still slanderous, irresponsible, and reprehensible. And while it may be sad that a major company would defend an attack on their customers, it is a tragedy that those same customers would still gleefully enter and buy their product. Even had they said something like, “We’re sorry. We understand why you might feel this way and we certainly do not dislike Catholics but this was part of a larger project. In the future we will at least try to be more careful or more balanced” I would be happy. I would still drink Starbucks. But telling me (and you) in essence, “Get over it,” is unacceptable.

So what am I going to do? Apparently exactly what Starbucks want. As sad as it makes me, I will no longer be going to Starbucks. When I am with people who want to go, I will tell them this story. And in fairness this post will be mailed to the company.

This may or may not be your hill to die on. But make sure you have a hill. Being a Catholic is not something you do, it is something that you are. Take pride and dignity in that.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


Need some motivation? Here's a minute's worth.


Last week Adoro who has been a friend of this site from the beginning (about 8 months now) gave Adam's Ale this recognition. It was because of her and the direction and support of people like her that I stuck through figuring out this blogging thing. But make no mistake, that is not the reason for my first nomination!

Blogger Reflection Award Rules:

1. Copy these rules.
2. Reflect on five bloggers and write a least a paragraph about each one.
3. Make sure you link to this post so others can read it and the rules.
4. Leave your chosen bloggers a comment to let them know they've been given the award.
5. Put the award icon on your site.

1. Adoro to Devote is on the top of my list for a couple of reasons. First because hers is not an empty blog, there is a caring person who backs it up and reaches out to others in the blogosphere. In her writing we've traveled not only through many interesting topics but have also gone through some of her life's experience with her, not just for the interest of reading about another person's life, but to learn how a faith filled person deals with what life throws at you.

Now comes the hard part, picking four more. The difficulty is in only posting four.

2. Stephen has "For God, for Country, and for Yale". It is a good site for a couple of reasons. This guy is a just a college student and he is on the football team about which we hear regularly. Amidst all that he also witnesses to what a person can do who wishes to be a good son of his Father by bringing his faith to his community. I wonder how many students he has aided in their faith journey by his own witness?

3. Brad blogs "Roman Catholic Vocations". I wonder if he knows what a wonderful ministry his blog site is? When asking some people for assistance in picking sites out for The Blogger Reflection, this site came up a couple of times. Plus he is a real good resource from which to steal!

4. Jeff at "The Curt Jester" is probably board with being recognized all the time but I do read him regularly and find a wealth of information (and quite a few laughs) there. This is my way of saying thanks for your ministry Jeff.

5. Who to put in here last? This is why I even hate maintaining a blogrole. *sigh* Well, who could pass up a site where the author uses her Simpsonizeme cartoon for her picture? Well, written, sharp and interesting, my last choice is Cathy of Alex over at The Recovering Dissident Catholic.

Up for more great blog reading? Jay announces that Catholic Carnival 138 is up and running!

Friday, September 28, 2007


Bearing in mind the information from the last Symbolic Saturday it should be of little surprise that coats of arms generally come in one three shapes based on armor. They might be circular or with a flat top and pointed bottom (see JPII's at the bottom of the post) mimicking a knight's shield, or a shape called a horse’s head, which resembles the armor that covers the head of a knight’s horse.

Over time a somewhat universal color scheme developed.

Red or gules shows eagerness to serve the fatherland.

Blue or azure denotes fidelity or steadfastness.

Black or sable symbolizes mourning.

Green or vert calls to mind freedom or beauty, joy and health, and/or hope.

Purple or purpure signifies majesty.

Brown or tenne is associated with nature.

And while orange is an official heraldic color, it is not associated with any particular meaning.

Along with colors there are what is also called metals, which are a distinct category.

Gold/yellow or or proclaims majesty, or understanding, or virtue or respect.

Silver/white or argent symbolizes cleanliness, wisdom, innocence, chastity, and joy.

The best heraldry should be easily recognized as quickly as possible under unfavorable conditions. To that end metal should never be placed on metal and color never set on top of color and be relatively simple. Wording, while it may appear as a motto with a shield, is never placed on heraldry. John Paul II was highly criticized for placing an “M” on his shield. A coat of arms acts as a person’s presence when he is not there, even in death, and it is considered somewhat redundant to publish a coat of arms that also has the person’s name with it. It's a bit like wearing a name tag with your picture on it.

Next week, the move to ecclesial heraldry.


1. Can you name the nine choirs of angels? The Supreme Hierarchy: 1. seraphim, 2. cherubim, 3. thrones; The Middle Choirs: 4.dominions, 5. virtues, 6. powers, and The Third Level, 7. principalities, 8. archangels, and lastly, 9. angles. Now that you read this a bet you knew it!

2. From which Choir is St. Michael? You might be saying, “Wait! St. Michael is from the second lowest class of angels? No, he is of the seraphic order. Archangel can have two meanings; one a class of angel and the other meaning top angles just as the word angel can mean messenger or be a class of angels.

3. From which choir do guardian angels come? Guardian angels can come from any of the choirs.

4. What does the name Lucifer mean? His name roughly means light or light bearer. He was purported to be the most beautiful of angels before he fell.
5. Do angles have free will? Yes. Well, unless like Rob you are answering the question about angles and not angels. But unlike us angels are free from all deception and illusion, therefore their decision for or against God was instantaneous and permanent. Though free to, they would not change their minds as it were. (So, Fr. Kyle, you get half credit.)


The prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel is not a sweet prayer. It needs to be read with PASSION! “Defend us against the wickedness and snares of the Devil! May God RUBUKE him! (we humble pray) and do thou, Oh! Prince of the heavenly hosts, THRUST into hell . . .”

We don’t take angels nearly seriously enough. They get relegated to clouds with harps or gently helping two German kids across a rickety bridge. For Catholics belief in angels is an article of faith. Feast days are celebrated in their honor. Tomorrow will be the feast of the archangels, and October 2nd is the feast of guardian angels. They are not cute, benign little creatures that simply like to sit on top of our Christmas trees or at the bottom of ornate, gilded frames. They are powerful beings that effect the created order; a cosmological principle, a dynamic and mysterious factor in reality.

Interestingly, the word “angel” does not denote who they are, but what they do. They are spirits. Angel comes from the Greek word angelos meaning messenger. They are God’s messengers to us. Satan and his cohorts were created spirits that acted as God’s messengers too, but were in essence “fired” (pun intended) and so you find we rarely refer to Lucifer as an angel except to say that he is a fallen angel.

In the New Testament angels are guardians, protectors, members of the Divine Court, healers, worshipers, agents of destruction, companions of Christ, and witnesses to the events of salvation. They are our aids and friends and act as messengers of God. Scriptures recognize nine groups or (as St. Ambrose began to refer to them) choirs of angels with an established hierarchy. We know that these ranks exit but not what necessarily makes the demarcations.

Their primary purpose is to be present to our Lord and minister to Him, regulate the order of the world and be His messengers to man in His plan of salvation. To that end they occasionally appear to humans and when they do (and once again we don’t know why) they appear as young androgynous boys.

Lastly, Scriptures testify that there are angels assigned to assists us, what we call Guardian Angels. They are intimately tied to our lives and it is not a bad idea to ask for their intercession, especially your guardian angels and to remember to be grateful for their service.


1. Can you name the nine choirs of angels?
2. From which Choir is St. Michael?
3. Form which choir do guardian angels come?
4. What does the name Lucifer mean?
5. Do angles have free will?


Wednesday, September 26, 2007


George Orwell got it backwards. Our biggest problem is not that Big Brother wastes all day looking at us, it that we spend all day looking at him.

It is difficult for me to be anywhere that has television sets; restaurants, grocery store checkout lines, the barbershop, you name it. I make a mental promise to myself, “I will NOT look at the television. I will NOT look at the television!” But before I know it, my attention has drifted and I am looking at the screen. “I swear, ‘The Worlds Worst Soccer Accidents’ is not more interesting than you are.” But of course, they are down to number three . . .

It is a regular occurrence to go on a communion call or in bringing the oils to someone’s bedside and the television is blaring. It is especially bad if the person is hard of hearing for it will be loud. After trying to fight to be heard over Dr. Phil for a while I’ll ask, “WOULD YOU MIND IF WE TURNED THE T.V. OFF FOR A MINUTE?” It is amazing to me how effectively some people can tune the beast out to the point of not even realizing it is on. “Oh? Is it bothering you?”

A friend of mine is desperately trying to stop watching the television. It doesn’t help that he has a T.V. in practically every room of his house. It reminded me of a hotel suite a friend of mine had in Las Vegas once. There was even a television in the bathroom. IN THE BATHROOM. LARGE SCREEN! I told him to start getting rid of the televisions. We don’t speak anymore.

I always wondered why it seemed that when I was visiting my parent’s house I was always speaking over the arms of the chairs at people. Then I realized, that was because all the furniture faced the television. It was the honored guest in the room. But they were hardly unique. This is the case in many living rooms. I wonder what archaeologists from the future not knowing what a television is would make of such an arrangement. “We believe that this was their shrine. Families would gather for hours at a time a meditate before it.”

Oh, I am not without guilt. I do happily report however that I have a tiny, used, ancient television in my room and the remote is broken and I like it that way. Surfing is a horrible affair involving prying myself up off of the couch and pressing the up and down buttons on the set (the up one works better than the down one) between the three stations that regularly play “Law and Order”. Maybe the thing will die altogether and I can be set free from the addiction.

It is one thing to purposefully watch T.V., it is another to Zen-out becoming one with the couch and screen. We were put here to do more than watch bad television re-runs. “We are entertaining ourselves to death.” My friend who was trying to give it up (I was kidding about us not speaking any longer) is having a terribly difficult time. He has forgotten how to be without television eating up tremendous amounts of time. Talking. Board games. Night walks. Sitting on the front porch and watching the neighborhood. Exercising. Thinking. Playing a musical instrument. Writing letters. Going over to the neighbors for cards. Prayer. Crafts – you know, the craft fairs are getting smaller because “young folk do not have the time to do crafts anymore”. Is that sad or what? But I can tell you who won “Dancing with the Stars”. Knowing how to entertain ourselves is being wiped out with the mass nightly absorbing of Geiko commercials.

Wow. Maybe I’m getting old. This sounds like something my parents would have said.

I’m sacred.

I think that I will stop now.

Besides, “Law and Order” is on.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


The problem with so many films that try to appeal to those who are tired of the usual Hollywood drivel is that they are simply bad. So the movie flops. Then a great cry goes out, “See, nobody wants to see these films. They really want the sex and the violence and the profanity,” when in actuality we (I hope I might be so bold as to say we) just want not only films that are good, but good films that are also well made.

Every once in a while decent messages and good film making collide and when they do it is wonderful. You may remember a little while back (thanks to Mrs. T) I was able to let you know about a screening of a movie called “Bella” here in Cleveland. The winner of the Toronto Film Festival (one of the largest in the world) and a number of other honors, “Bella” tells the story of the struggle of choosing life and true love and it did it with aplomb. Here is truly the case of artisans using their skill to raise the standard of man, not pander to his lowest self.

"Bella is the story of Jose and Nina, a rising Mexican soccer star with a secret and an unemployed New York waitress. Bella is a true love story that shows how one day in New York changed three people's lives for ever."

Steve McEveety, producer of Passion of Christ said of Bella, “I have not seen a film with this much momentum since The Passion of Christ. The Passion showed us how Christ died for us, Bella shows us how to live for others.”

It will open in theaters on October 26th. Perhaps (Habemus Papem, are you ready for another project?) those of you who read Adam’s Ale locally would like to get together again for eats, a movie, and discussion as we did for “Into Great Silence”. I know I would like to see it again, first because it was a good movie, and secondly because last night they showed the version that ran at the festival, not the slightly different version that will show nationally.

You can see the trailer, posters, and other cool stuff here.


I am not usually one to stay after a movie and listen to the post show discussion but fortunately those with whom I attended the movie were more in to such things. As it turns out, the discussion was led by Spanish heartthrob actor Eduardo Verstegui who told something of his life story, which was as interesting as the movie.

He started out in a boy band and, wanting to be an actor took on roles in soap operas. He came to Miami not speaking any English and was talked into auditioning for a part in a movie. He memorized five pages of monologue, which became the only English he really knew at the time and won the part. From there his career took off and he became a successful actor and singer. But he was not happy. He was not finding fulfillment in life. Something was missing.

He testifies to the power of the prayers of a mother. His mother was praying for him saying that her son was lost and no longer listening to his family. She worried that something bad would happen to him and prayed for God to touch his heart.

As it turns out, his English coach began to have conversations with him about God and how he was using his talents. The English teacher became the answer to his mother’s prayers as he experienced a true conversion of heart to the Father. This prompted him and a couple of his friends to start their own movie company, Metanoia Films, whose goal is to make a difference, to inspire others to better use their talents, to love more, and to want to be a better people. “Bella” is the first film in this attempt.

He knew it was risky. He might never work again. But he said with his Spanish accent, “It broke my heart that I offended God,” and his goal now is never again to offend his family, his friends, or his God. “If I am faithful to God and we are successful, thanks be to God. If I am faithful to God and we fail, thanks be to God. . . I was not born to be an actor, I was born to know, love, and serve Jesus Christ.” Wow. A story to inspire all of us in our lives to use our talents in like manner. There is so much more to this interesting story, but there is not room here for it.

He and his small company truly believe that they can make a difference. “Politics changes laws. Art changes hearts and minds,” and the media has a responsibly therefore to lead, not to pander. In Hollywood he reports many directors, writers, and actors want to produce these types of film but do not have the venue in which to do it. This is a hopeful start. You can help.

Being a small start up company they do not have the backing of a major studio and need support from the bottom up. Go see the film. Tell others about it. Contact your local theater chain and ask them to run this film. Organize a group to go. For more information go to or To contact the company via Email go to

Monday, September 24, 2007


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: "There is no law by which to determine the superiority of nations; hence the vanity of the claim; and the idleness of disputes about it. A people risen, run their race, and die either of themselves or at the hands of others, who succeeding to their power, take possession of their place, and upon their monuments write their own new name; such is history." Ben Hur

QUOTE II: "A laugh and a bit with a dog. That's what they want." Shakespeare In Love


I've been Simpsonized! I was insanely jealous of Adoro and so rather than wallow in my jealousy decided just to go out and get Simpsonized myself. Except for a touch up on the collar I am now ready for my guest debut on the show.

Want to get Simpsonized yourself? Go to
Found this picture over at Eyehacker and thought it was pretty cool.

A man and his dog. "The dog is the only thing on this earth that loves you more than you love yourself." Lord Byron

Behind on your reading for the Catholic Scripture Study? Rob says don't sweat it. Come on and jump back on board.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Achilles: “I'll tell you a secret. Something they don't teach you in your temple. The Gods envy us. They envy us because we're mortal, because any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we're doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.”
I was sitting out in the garden yesterday looking at these flowers. The weather is turning and dipping to what is, in my mind, much more hospitable levels. But that slight tingeing of the upper leaves of the trees means that in a couple more weeks, maybe less, these flowers will be dead. These flowers which we marked in passing all summer long as being so beautiful are more so now as their doom because immanent.

In many ways the transitory nature of this life is such a blessing. It inspires. It motivates. We are not perfected yet and the unperfected cannot withstand the pitfalls of eternity. The imperfect see eternity as always having more time to correct wrongs later. The other will always be there to be loved and appreciated later.

“There is something within people and buildings that aspires to ruination,” said an artist whose name I’ve forgotten. In their destruction they point to the indestructible, to the immortal, the One, the True, the Good, and the Beautiful. “Momento mori!” “Remember man that you must die” and all that you see here will fade away. Right the wrong now. Do the good before the good can no longer be done. Don’t wait to love. Don’t wait to live. Forget not to appreciate and give thanks. Allow the things of this world to build a path to heaven, to the everlasting.

These are not sad things. “When faith is strong, it will talk about death,”it will not be a cause for fear. Rather it will inspire, it will motivate, it will teach, it will instill bravery, it will infuse in us a desire for the Everlasting that far exceeds our regret for the passing of the finite.

Blessed fall!

Saturday, September 22, 2007


"Be careful therefore to entertain strangers, for many have entertained angels unawares." Hebrews 13:2

J sent this in to share.


W sent this site in. It is pretty cool for those interested in saints.

Jay announces Catholic Carnival 137!

Here's news! Uncle Jim is starting his own blog! He is sticking his feet in the water and testing it out. Stop by and say hi!

Interesting article over at the Deacon's Bench on confession.

On the ADAM'S ALE header: Thank you very much for your input. It was more than I expected. It seems that it is well liked in general though the couple people who objected did so vehemently. I think I do agree with Rob, Barb, and Uncle D that it is difficult to read (and I tried everything that I could think of to change the font but no dice.) So for now it will be left up there but I'll be on the search for a new picture. It may be days, it may be years, but an eye will be kept open.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Heraldry is just really cool. I am not even sure why, but it is just cool.

It also has heavy use in the Church, which we will look into over the next few Symbolic Saturdays. It might be helpful to begin with a quick history of heraldry. This is the five-cent quick gloss over of its development so I apologize if it might seem a bit oversimplified to any scholars of heraldry out there.

Heraldry came into being in the Middle Ages. This was back when you had great persons or families with fiefdoms. At first there was no particular need to mark anyone or anything because it was largely these great families and their fiefs that fought against each other and you knew who was with you and who was against you.

Then the Crusades began. Neighbors came together in a common cause and so color picture signs developed in order to help identify the good guys (whom you might not know personally) as well as your “own team”.

As wars progressed and weapons became more brutal casualty rates soared through the roof. So stronger and better armor was developed. As the armor covered more and more of the person (and his horse) it obscured those distinguishing marks that made it easy to recognize individual people. It was like being inside a tank. “Just who is in that pile of tin anyway?” And quite frankly, they became hard to see out of too. So they would paint easily recognizable symbols on the armor, helmet, shields, and even on their horse’s armor in order to be able to distinguish more easily “them” and “us”.

The next problem was that there came to be a great proliferation of these symbols. Somebody would be needed to keep track of them all. That somebody was the heralds from whence cometh the name “heraldry”. These were important men who catalogued all the symbols in order to help quickly identify both friends and foes alike.

They rode with the troops but they were forbidden from fighting. They were keepers of secrets and had pass to travel between warring sides to deliver messages. After a battle they would be sent out to identify the dead. They were courtly men and because they needed to record all the different heraldic shields from all over, they were very well traveled.

Next week we will start into some of the rules that grew out of this period which still apply to heraldry today.


Quiz answers!

The first picture shows from left to right: a) purificator, b)corporal, c) a towel – or – finger towel - or - if you are particularly fancy, a lavabo towel.

The second picture shows again an open corporal, a term that comes from the Latin word “corpus” or “body”. It is placed at the center of the altar under the chalice(s) and hosts. It is most usually heavily starched and ironed into nine squares. Its purpose is to catch any portion of the Body of Christ (hence the name) that fall from the hosts as from the fraction rite for example. The folds, when carefully handled, form “traps” that keep the Body of Christ from falling on the floor or what have you until the corporal can be properly cleaned.

According to the USCCB, this is how these clothes should be cleaned:

"When corporals are cleansed they should first be rinsed in a sacrarium and only afterwards washed with laundry soaps in the customary manner. Corporals should be ironed in such a way that their distinctive manner of folding helps to contain whatever small particles of the consecrated host may remain at the conclusion of the Eucharistic celebration.”

“Because of their function, purificators regularly become stained with the Precious Blood. It is, therefore, essential that they should first be cleansed in a sacrarium and only afterwards washed with laundry soaps in the customary manner. Purificators should be ironed in such a way that they may be easily used for the wiping of the lip of the chalice.”

(You can just throw the lavabo towel in the wash!)


Want to be an altar server? Think you were a good one when you were younger? Here is a little quiz. (Yes, I am too tired to come up with anything thoughtful today!)

What are the names of the these three pieces of cloth used at every mass?

If you got it above you should be able to get it again here. What is this cloth called? Where is it used during the mass? Why is it divided into 9 squares?

What should happen to them after use at mass?

Answers tomorrow on Symbolic Saturday!

IN OTHER NEWS: Thus far there has been three thumbs up and one definite thumbs down on the new ADAM'S ALE picture. Is anyone offended? Should it stay or should it go?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


I forgot how to go to the bank.

I am not kidding.

I do most of banking either on line (something I am opposed to in principle) or through a machine (yet something else that I am opposed to at least in theory) so when I have to go to an actual bank and meet an actual person to do an authentic bank transaction outside of my little ream of knowledge I become an absolute boob.

Wednesday I had to go to the bank to get either a cashier’s check or certified check or some such think for – uhm - a reason - * ahem * - (Okay! I got a ticket when I was in New York – there. I said it!) and wasn’t exactly sure what I was supposed to do. But there was no avoiding this little excursion and so it was off to the bank.

Fortunately the bank was empty and after a twisted walk through the rope maze a distracted teller called me forward.

“Good morning,” I said.

“Good morning. May I help you?”

Being generally a snotty person, I remained silent until she looked up from her computer screen and actually looked at me. It was at that point that I realized that I really did not know what to ask. “I need some sort of check from the bank to pay a – uhm – bill that I have.” Heavy blush.

She breathed a deep sigh and ran through my options, which did not mean much to me until she told me the prices. That was clear. “I’ll take the cheap one.”

“Do you have a check?” she asked.

A check? I didn’t know I would need a check to get a check. I wondered what else I will need? Do I need my bankbook? (Do they even have bankbooks anymore?) “Oh, I don’t have one.”

She scooted her glasses down her nose and peered over them. “You don’t have a check with you?”

“No.” I felt about three years old.

“Well, if you have ID, I can do a (she mentioned some sort of) check for you.”

I think it was at this point that she realized how completely helpless I was and became a very nice and helpful person and the great state of New York can cross one more ne’er-do-well off of their list.

Now, walking out of the bank I thought, “I’m glad THAT’S over! I hope I never have to do THAT again.”

Then I had an epiphany. I wonder if this is what it is like for someone who has been away from the Church for a long time and suddenly finds himself at mass. As I mentioned yesterday about making (what I thought was a very clear) announcement before communion at weddings and funerals about who should receive and who should not, people still come forward all the time that I wonder if they should. I say, “Body of Christ,” and non-practicing Catholics do one of the following:

Smile and shrug their shoulders.
Ask, “What?”
Say, “Sure.”
Say, “Body of Christ,” and make no sign that they are going to receive.
Say, “I’ll take one.”
Stand there mute.

It can be a very uncomfortable moment. Too bad it got that far. I wonder how many people walk out of the Church thinking, “I’m glad THAT’S over. I hope I never have to do THAT again.”

So that got me wondering, what would have made me more at ease at the bank?

First would have been a teller who was more attentive, directional, and kind. So, maybe I need to give more clear direction during my masses.

Second would have been to have a friend with me who knew the ropes and who would have guided me through. So I encourage you to at least offer to help relatives and friends who are not Catholic or do not practice, with whom you are close, particularly at weddings and funerals to know what to do at mass.

Thirdly, banks have information pamphlets. Many times at weddings and funerals people produce programs with lists of characters and music credits. Most of the time they are pretty useless except in the summer when the air-conditioning is not working well (that is just personal opinion). Perhaps they could become true worship aids a part of which would be to help non-practicing Catholics know what’s coming up and what they should do. Maybe. Perhaps.

And lastly, when in New York on Route 3 going through the military base and they ask you to reduce your speed to 45 for that eighth of mile, do it. They mean it.

Monday, September 17, 2007


Don’t forget tomorrow you cannot go to communion.”

The call came late at night from the aunt of an NPR correspondent who was spending a couple of days at a “Come and See” weekend for a story at the convent where her aunt is a nun.

“Why not?” she asked.

“Well, because you do not practice the faith, have not been to any of the sacraments in years, have no intention of doing so and are not married in the church.”

The NPR correspondent was miffed and hurt. “Why can’t we all just get along?” she asked.

The Eucharist is at the center of who we are as Catholics. We believe that is the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the source and summit of our lives. It is the cause and symbol of our unity. It is at the very center of our covenantal relationship with God. I would be willing to bet that that same NPR correspondent would be aghast if another woman asked if she could sleep with her husband. “Can’t we all just get along? It’s just sex. It doesn’t mean that much to me. I am not looking to break your bond with him. I don’t know why you are so upset. You are just closed minded.”

That is a bit of strong language but I hold to it.

Often before communion at a mass where there will be a lot of non-Catholics present I will say something along the lines of:

Out of respect for those who are here today and out of respect for your beliefs, I can only offer communion today to those Catholics who are in a state of grace. If you are unable to receive today I ask you to please pray for the unification of the Christian Church, make a spiritual communion with us, and if you care to come forward anyway to please ask for a blessing.”

This almost always goes over well. When it does not, it goes over even better. Once a man came up to me after mass upset over what I said about communion. He was going to school to become a Protestant minister and felt bad that he had been excluded from communion. I invited him over for coffee to talk about it. We went through Sacred Scripture and discussed theology and he surprised me by saying, “I believe what the Catholic Church teaches.” I tried to make clarifications for him but he was adamant, he believed in the teachings of the Church on the nature of the Eucharist.

“You have a serious problem then,” I told him, “You have a serious obligation to look into becoming Catholic because you denomination does not believe this.”

Though we met several more times after that I do not know what his eventual decision was. However, I do know this: had we pretended that there was nothing that divided us, had we shared the source and symbol of our unity as if those bonds really existed, that conversation would have never taken place and we would have never delved into the faith as we did. We would not have shared our faith stories nor come to an understanding of what the Eucharist is. Who knows what effect those conversations will have in the future?

That is why Pope Benedict issued those points recently in which he pointed out those areas that still divide us. We should not cover over these concerns but expose them and handle them. That is where true unity happens – in fact, not fiction.

So fear not! Let the conversations begin!

Sunday, September 16, 2007


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: "When it does not pay to be a priest; that's when it means the most." Fr. Gene Fulton

QUOTE II: "If you have to ask someone if he'll love you tomorrow, then he doesn't love you tonight." Dawn Eden. (Somebody really needs to write a country western song with this as the title.)


B. sends this in and it is my pleasure to post it for those of you in the Cleveland area who would be interested. Dr. Andrew Trew, professor of bioethics at St. Mary Seminary and John Carroll University will be speaking on Faith Based Bioethics at local parishes. Reservations are required though there is no charge. Call (440)- 724-1468 for more information.
OCTOBER 7th - Celebrating the Gospel of Life at Saint Joan of Arc 7:00

OCTOBER 14th - This is My Body at Saint Joan of Arc 7:00

OCTOBER 21st - Living Life to the End at Holy Angels 7:00

M. sends this in: "Dear Choral Friends, Here is some more from Rome regarding the Pope's love of great music. Finally, hope for restoring musical dignity to the Mass. It is a long read but worth your time. Some of the key points are at the end of the article. Keep Chanting in Latin! Make the Pope happy.

I found this little ditty over at Salve Regina and thought it pretty cool. I am willing to negotiate!

My blog is worth $26,533.38.
How much is your blog worth?

Actually, if someone would be so kind as to explain to me what Technorati is, that would be nice.

Finally, Fr. Kyle has a "Week in the Life of a Vocations Director" if you are looking for a read. I know I appreciate that my classmate is vocations director for this diocese because I hate driving and most of his day seems to be driving around the diocese meeting with prospective candidates and going to meetings. God bless you guys!


Priests will not save the world. Well, they won't influence the guy you work with, or your friend at school, or your pen pal, or your Aunt Matilda into a deeper relationship with God or more active in church mostly because they don't see these people. I always find it amazing also that people are actully afraid of me because I am a priest. (Nobody was afraid of me in high school.) But that is why the new evangelization is so heavily reliant on relationships - the relationships you have with famiy and friends to bring them into the practice of faith. If you don't do it who will?

Here is a six minute video on why people do not share their faith.

We could aslo add #9: Because Miss Manners said it was impolite, though Monsignor Manners says it is perfectly alright.

Today we have a guest blogger. A young person yet she had many spiritual children. No longer afraid to bring up topics of faith she has brought people closer to Christ. And many of the people are those others might think too hard of a case to even try. I asked her to guest blog and tell about us about it.

Do you think you are one of the few who really WANT God? You know that YOU want to serve Him, but your best friend or that guy at the office…hmmm, not so much. When I was younger I believed what I saw on TV: people are callous, cool, beautiful, having a good time, and have no interest in God. It has taken me a lifetime to figure out that in the real world everyone is hungry for God. These are just a few stories of unlikely “seekers” I have met in my past.

I once went bowling with a bunch of friends that included a guy who was a hard core drug user. He flung his bowling ball into the wrong lane, still actually hit a pin or two, turned around, looked at us bug-eyed, stroked his hair back firmly with his fingers and growled, “I love this gaaaame!” I heard years later that he became a rather passionate Christian of some form, is currently clean….and is convinced he’s going to hell. Arrrrrg! I wish could tell him about confession.

I have a friend who scoffs at the faith but, by worldly standards, appears to have it all. I told him I was making a novena of masses leading up to Christmas. He humbly said, “Oh, good girl! Pray for me. I need it.” He can’t understand why he has everything, but still isn’t happy.

I dated a guy with a troubled past who never saw the inside of a church in his life. He told me that, even though I don’t believe in sex outside of marriage, if I think lust is wrong, I shouldn’t even be doing ‘X, Y, and Z’. He was right! Where did HE get an insight like THAT? I’ve heard through the grapevine of his hunger for faith. He’s an Augustine or an Aquinas waiting to happen.

I hung out with a band that I did a song with blasphemous lyrics. I told them I didn’t like the song for that reason, fully expecting they would tell me to buzz off because the song was really popular. They immediately agreed to stop doing it! I was good friends with their drummer, and once when he and I were alone at a bar, he started asking me about God. I barely discussed the subject because I thought he would think I was weird. Besides, it would put a damper on the ‘X, Y, & Z’ later that night. Oh, how I regret it!

I once told a friend that I pray for him every night, thinking he could care less. He stopped me, very seriously one night and said that was the nicest thing anyone had ever said to him.

I had a friend who was a creepy, womanizing alcoholic. One night he revealed to me that he always wanted to become Catholic so he could “do that thing that they do” – the sign of the cross!

I had a college friend whose life was full of chaos and who was hostile to the faith. I wanted to give him the “God talk”, but it always seemed like such a downer when we were having a good time. After years of separation, he made a surprise visit and I got my second chance to talk. He was enraptured! Turns out he married a very Christian girl and is surprised at how much fun he has with her very Christian family. I know he once thought that if he were with me, he could share my peace. Maybe now he will find his own.

I am always surprised at the reactions I get when I give away a scapular. I gave one to a delinquent teen and she put it on right away, OVER her shirt, without a shred of embarrassment. I gave one to a young man covered in tattoos and piercings, and he received it with such joy that he exclaimed, “Oh, I’m going to put it on right now!” My mentor at work lived a rather debauched life, but shortly before he died I gave him a scapular (we were at odds at the time personally) and he took it with the most angelic smile, wanting to know the details of how to wear it. A friend who claims he has abandoned the faith revealed to me that he carries one in his wallet. When my niece was little she told me, “If I had one of those, I would wear it all the time!” but I didn’t want her to get snide comments from her peers (like I had), so I didn’t give it to her. I hope I am making it up to her now.

These are just a few stories; I could tell dozens more. In hindsight, I have learned some very specific things about God and human beings. This is what I know:
1) EVERYONE is hungry for God.
2) Ignorance, not hostility, keeps most people away from Him.
3) Intelligence - faith = insanity
4) The world is crawling with wanna-be priests.
5) Poor catechesis “inoculates” Catholics against the faith.
6) People who have had no religion at all in their lives gratefully devour the faith (now I know why Jesus preferred thieves and prostitutes)
7) Truth does its own work – people are attracted to it even if the messenger is lousy
8) If I were a nun I think I would walk past public schools wearing a sandwich board saying “If you are hungry for God, follow me”. Filling the Catholic churches would be like shooting fish in a barrel.
9) Same goes for juvenile detention centers for girls. With a little catechesis, you could paint a new sign over the center that reads “Sisters of the Holy Eucharist”.
10) The most inspiring words are just seeds on rocky ground if you don’t stay involved in friends’ spiritual lives. Talk to them. Give them books. Invite them to mass or confession with you. Encourage them to watch EWTN. Make sure they know that no problem is so awful that you won’t listen and help if you can.
11) The greatest deterrents to holiness are discouragement and exaggerated anxiety. (I lifted that quote from St. Faustina’s diary). This is the only thought that keeps me brave against the world.

I let a lot of people down in my past because I was too cowardly to talk about my faith. About two years ago I had my breakthrough moment when I ignored my fears and spoke openly about my faith when asked. Life has been “interesting” ever since. I am writing this just after a party hosted by the girlfriend who unwittingly unleashed the missionary in me, and who is soon to be my goddaughter. I was surprised at the end of the party when Jeff said not to forget him during all the good-bye hugs. He’s a drummer in a rock band, covered with scary tattoos, and has that low, droning voice that says, “Dude, I smoke LOTS of weed.” I’ve been told, to my surprise, that he’s been on a desperate search for God in recent years. At one point he was willing to give the devil a chance, if meant he would get some peace. Last I heard, he was a Jehovah’s Witness. You never know who’s hungry. I’m still watching for my opportunity to get my meat hooks in his soul. Say a prayer for me and my spiritual babies, guys!

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Greg happily announces that episode 8 of That Catholic Show is finished!


Kay sent in this site for some great reading on the Beatitudes.

Jay reports that Catholic Carnival 136 is up and running!

The Diocese of Cleveland E-Newsletter recommends this article on defense of life written by Bishop Lennon.

Kaz from the great state of NY sent this in. I loved it and thought I'd share it with you.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Their faces were like this: each of the four had the face of a man, but on the right side was the face of a lion, and on the left side the face of an ox, and finally each had the face of an eagle.” Ezekiel 1:10.

These creatures that were being described by Ezekiel were the cherubim around God’s throne, but the faces attributed to them are considered a prediction of the four evangelists.

The four writers of the Gospels are often represented by these four fantastic creatures. St. John is often seen with or is represented by the eagle, Saint Luke the bull or ox, Saint Matthew the young man, and Saint Mark the lion. All four creatures should appear winged as reported in Ezekiel making the ox and the lion absolutely distinguishable in art. The young man and the eagle will need other contextual clues to assist you in interpreting them. All four most often appear with halos.

Saint John’s theology/Christology is often said to be “high,” his lofty thoughts soaring as high as the heavens. For this reason he is associated with the eagle that boldly, strongly, and with keen eyesight soars our skies.

Saint Luke’s Gospel tends to focus on the sacrificial aspect of Jesus’ life. As the ox was often an animal chosen to be sacrificially offered up to God it became associated with this Gospel writer.

At the beginning of Saint Matthew’s Gospel we have Jesus’ genealogy, which firmly plants the man Jesus among us. As he tends to highlight the humanity of the man/God, this Gospel writer is often represented by the symbol of the winged young man.

Much of our symbolism comes from ancient mythology. Though we know many of the stories to be largely fanciful, they did help the ancients understand the world around them and have to some extent played a valuable role in the symbolic language of the Church.

Once it was thought that lion cubs were born dead and three days later the lion that sired them would come and give them a mighty roar, which would bring them to life. This becomes a ready sign of the Resurrection upon which Saint Mark focuses his Gospel. Hence the winged lion is associated with Saint Mark.

These creatures may either appear on their own or with the evangelist that they symbolize. When they appear together the evangelists usually have a witting utensil and either a book, scroll, or paper upon which they write their Gospel.

Next week we will start on ecclesial heraldry.


This is the final in the series of the four strategic areas of concern for Catholics. For a clearer understanding of this please read Monday’s post.


Of course everyone thinks of priestly and religious vocations when one mentions vocations, but the idea is much broader than that here. There is not one person reading this blog that does not have a vocation. Our vocation is the way we choose to live life that gives glory to God, promotes the kingdom, and provides a means by which we become holy.
The single life is most definitely a chosen vocation. Being single has certain expectation and ways of living that are expected that provides opportunities for being a disciple of Christ in ways that are unique to the single state.

Marriage is a vocation and we as Church run into problems when we fail to recognize that and think that vocations are something reserved for priests, deacons, brothers and sisters. When “vocation” and “marriage” are separated, vocations become odd or quirky. It is something that “those people” do. The lives of those with a “vocation” can seem exotic.

A young lady from this parish left us recently to join the Sisters of Life in New York. She had to move away to be with the people with whom she would be living and working and took vows to be with them. She donned a full habit and is living by certain rules with lifestyle expectations from those both within and outside the community. It is the means by which she serves God and her fellow man and works out her own salvation.

But we should not fail to see marriage in the same light. When a person enters into marriage by his or her own free will, they become subject to divinely made laws and essential properties of marriage. The spouse moves away to be with the one with whom he will be living and working and takes vows to that effect. Married person put on their own type of habit, a wedding ring which announces loudly that they are tied to another and that their vows assume a certain type of behavior with lifestyle expectations from those both within and outside the family unit. It is a means by which that person serves God and his fellow man and works out his own salvation.

I tell couples at their wedding mass often that they are not just getting married, but they are marrying as Catholics in a sacred vocation in the Church. Be good at it. Your wedding is more than just for you, it is for me, for those whom you gathered here at your wedding mass, and for all those with whom you will come in contact throughout your married life because this world so desperately needs an example of what true love is. You are disciples of God’s love to the world.

Priests, vowed life, single, married, all have essential roles in the life of the Church, all with unique opportunities and responsibilities, all called to be disciples. All are vocations that need our prayerful support for the success of the mission of His Church on earth.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


This is a continuation of the series on the four issues of concern for Catholics as denoted by the USCCB and the Bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland. For more information see Monday’s post.


Looking out from the window of his room at the cathedral in the heart of the city the bishop reports seeing the poor trying to find a warm place to sleep on the steam grates that dot the pavement. Seeing such people as persons of dignity deserving our respect and concern is at the core of respecting life.

Respect and dignity are not afforded to persons because they can afford it, or that they earn it, or that they can directly add to the conversation, or fight for it, or even care to live it. It comes from only one source and that is that each person is made in the image and likeness of God.

It is said that the Church can only be truly renewed when the people of God first renew themselves. The same can be said here. It is only when we realize our own true dignity and worth that we can come to understand another’s.

We were lost in sin. In fact, it is still impossible for us to live without sin for any extended period of time. God’s forgiveness, love, and salvation are pure gift and the strongest, richest man in the world is just as (if not more so) in need of God’s mercy than the poorest and most defenseless. There is only one thing going to heaven with you, your choice to love God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your soul and your neighbor as yourself. We will stand naked before the judgment seat of God with only this in our hands.

Yet, even though we rejected Him, He chooses us. And He not only chooses us, but He pursues us despite our wanderings. That is what drives up the worth of earthy goods: demand! And that is exactly what gives us worth in heaven: the Almighty’s high demand, desire, and untiring pursuit of us! It’s like Christmas time in the 1980’s and we are a bunch of Cabbage Patch Kids and God is a Yuletide shopper. He’ll take whomever He can get at any price and give us good homes.

And God is so great and so encompassing that for Him to love someone else as overly abundantly as He does you does not in anyway lessen His love. He is too great and too greedy for us. He is greedy for the guy sleeping on the street, for the woman addicted to crack and in jail, to those other oriented, to those in the womb, to our enemies, to those who can no longer directly add to our benefit. And whereas some may need to be deprived of certain liberties for their safety and/or the safety of those around them, they are of no less dignity than anyone else.
Every time anyone is thought “less than” and are treated as such, all of humanity suffers in some way. Every time there is a sanctioned killing everyone moves one place closer to being included in that number. The further away you are from the cutoff line, the harder that is to see. The closer you are, the scarier that it is.

Of course, the exact opposite is true also. Every time we uphold the dignity of another human being we all benefit from that lifting up. Every time we see a spark of the divine in another and attempt to build up that spark, the world becomes a safer, holier place. That is what the call to witnessing to the quality of life is all about. To even love in the teeth of hatred, that’s heroics, that’s going a lot further to fixing society’s problems than, except in the most extreme cases, eliminating enemies or those who inconvenience us from the face of the earth.

We as Catholics are called to find some way to engender a general respect and sense of dignity for others. It will not always be met with gratitude or cooperation, but that is not why we do it. We do it because we are undeserving of that love from God yet receive it none-the-less, and so as persons unworthy to withhold it from others, love even the difficult to love.

Monday, September 10, 2007


This is a continuation from Monday's discussion about the four focus point adopted for Catholics by the USCCB, and by Bishop Lennon for the Diocese of Cleveland and passed along to the clergy and people of the diocese to implement.


Your local parish is not the primary place where the faith is handed on, it is the domestic church, or more specifically, your house. The family, the way it has been understood by the Church these 2,000 some odd years is the primary building block of the Church. We are only as healthy as a Church as we are healthy in our homes.

The bishop made it very clear that marriage and family life are still very much under attack and things will only get worse. There are some who want the Church to stay out of the fray. If we don’t agree to marriages outside of the traditional definition then don’t perform them or recognize them in a religious sense, but what we do as a nation cannot be dictated by a religion.

Be aware however that there is more than just a broadening of the definition of marriage here. It is being redefined. John Paul II reminds us in his Theology of the Body that how we interpret sex and relationships determines our understanding of man, of society, and of right and wrong.

And there is more than just faith at work here. Our laws are based on precedence. There was one courthouse in which a display of the Ten Commandments were challenged by the courts to be taken down but they were ruled constitutional because they were part of a larger display of the history of law which depicted law developing and building as time goes by.

As the Catholic Church, because of Scripture and Tradition, it is beyond our power to change our definition of marriage, which specifically forbids marriage outside of one man and one woman. For the state to change its law would be a similar departure. At that point there would be a radical unmooring from historical precedent and of the understanding of the structure of society. Where that starts to cause a problem is not so much with that first change of law, but with subsequent changes of law.

With absolutely no reference to precedence, the rule of law becomes dependant upon he who has the most power and influence. There is already a long line of causes lining up to take advantage of the marriage law once same-sex marriage is approved. How can we say no? How can we say, “We will make this exception, but certainly it will go no further”? You can’t. It is impossible. So as the definition of marriage continues to broaden, as marriage begins to mean all things to all people, it stops meaning anything at all.

A close friend became a minister in a very "open" church. For a while we would exchange theological letters. A proposal would be stated and we would comment on it. Many times I would spend time following his response to its logical conclusion. Many of them would concern sexual matters. Followed to their logical conclusion eventually led to any kind of sexual union of which the only regulation was that one participant must be a human being. The response was usually, "Then I guess that's where it leads."

And as family is the building blocks of faith, it is also of society the way we know it. There is more at stake here than will effect some Catholics hiding in their churches. This has universal significance. Those who are crying, “We must be fare!” must also look to the logical conclusion of their arguments and take responsibility not just for the immediate change in law, but for its broader consequence.

The challenge for us is to stand up for the keeping of the historical laws while not accepting the label that we are being hateful or unfair (that is not the goal or the reason). When one makes hard decisions one does so because it is seen as the most loving thing even if it hurts another’s feelings. This is a challenge not just for Catholics, but is an issue for all people who have concerns about the future. The defense of marriage and family life is more than a religious issue. Do not be silenced by such accusations. That is a ruse to avoid discussing the deeper issues that must be brought out into the open. It is much more complicated than what the surface issues appear to be. This is why it is one of our four points of focus.