Monday, March 31, 2008


The ever-remarkable Fr. F sent this video in (less than 5 mins.) about the new cathedral in Houston. I have mixed feeling about it but over all agree with the statement made in the video, “This cathedral is obviously a house of God.” Two big thumbs up for that. There would be no mistaking this place for a concert hall, airport terminal, or even “The Church of What’s Happening Now.” The emphasis on devotionals was nice enough but it was interesting that no mention whatever was made about that which makes Catholicism (and Catholic churches) most unique, that which is the source and summit of our faith, the Eucharist. Interesting. (Here is a place to go if you want to see the tabernacle. Notice the direction of the pews in front of it.)

Ah well. . . maybe I’m just old fashioned.

(Though I prefer to think I’m cutting edge.)

Anyway, with the opening shots of the cathedral and entering through the main doors the first thing we encounter is the baptismal font. It is conspicuous in its presence in the main isle. It made me think of baptismal fonts in general – or – more specifically baptisteries. Or to be more specific, the lack of baptisteries. Where have they all gone?

For a spell it seemed that all new construction and renovations of parish churches moved to have baptismal fonts along with every minister, the choir, priests, and the pastor’s dog in the sanctuary. It was the in thing. Now there seems to be a reversal of the tide and people and things seem to be flowing back out of the sanctuary including baptismal fonts, but not so far as for the fonts to make it all the way back to the baptistery.

Most recently the in thing is to have the baptismal font close to the front doors of the church. Ah, but this is, believe it or not, not a post about baptismal fonts whose fashions demand that it roam about our churches like Moses in the desert, it is about the long lost step child of Catholic architecture: the baptistery.

If you have an older church you may have one of these though you might be hard pressed to know it. The church at which I am currently had a baptistery though the font is now out in the nave near the sanctuary. The windows in this room all have a baptismal theme. There is St. John baptizing Jesus and the parents of Mary. There is even a white patch in the floor (next to the yellow trash can) where the drain for the baptismal font used to be. For years this was used as a choir room (now in the former boy’s sacristy) but is now used for storage and the hiding of trash until it can be hauled out.

I wish I had an interior shot of this baptistery. You can see it off to the right of the Cathedral of Saint John. It is a small octagonal room (8 being the symbolic number for baptism) with murals painted in the ceiling. The new baptistery is located on the side aisle near the sanctuary. The old baptistery is now (as of a couple of years ago anyway) used as a bridal chamber and a place to distribute Holy Oils after the Chrism Mass.

To the right is my home parish (no longer in existence.) The baptistery was located through the door to the far left of the main entrance. It was replaced by a baptismal font on wheels that could be moved about the sanctuary. *sigh*

Next is a shot of the old baptistery of a great old Church called Saint Augustine. I’m not sure what it is used for now but when I worked at the church it was a shop for Precious Moments statues and First Communion Veils. The new font is in the north transept just off the sanctuary, which is a vast improvement from the glass bowl they used to put on the communion rail.

Saint Bernard’s in down town Akron converted their baptistery into a museum of sorts. Immaculate Conception in Cleveland had a beautiful baptistery that some renovation-turned-bad left it less than ideal but at some point I know they wanted to restore it. I’ll have to check in on them and see what’s up.

Saint Joseph just moved their baptismal font from the narthax into the sanctuary. The new bapstismal font is large enough for full emersion and is heated. The old area has been absorbed as part of the gathering space where Fr. B reports, "That is where they sometimes set up a table for different organizations after Mass."

Old baptisteries never die, they are just fired from their jobs and take on employment as museums, bridal chambers, storage, gathering areas, stores. So, if you are from an older parish, take a look around for a room that might be masquerading as an over decorated janitor’s closet. It may be that many a baby was baptized where boxes of toilet paper are now stored.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “To be deep into history is to cease being Protestant.” John Henry Newman

QUOTE II: “A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter is not a nice person.” KSKJ paper

This site shows the actual calculations needed to determine the dates of Easter and Passover. Most of it is just interesting to be aware of but for anything of lasting consequence in your life (read: usable trivia) skip down to "Final Comments on Easter and Passover."

Further, here is not one, not two, but three sites that will determine the dates of Easter on the Gregorian calendar from next year until the parousia.

Lillian Marie sent this site about a Worldwide Adoration Project where there are details on how to get involved. Thanks LM.

Adoro sent this over. I noticed that Rob had it too. Be careful! WARNING: ADDICTION LEVEL HIGH! (Especially the manic mode!)

Fr. Marek Visnovsky of St. Emilian Byzantine Catholic Church in Brunswick is offering a class on the technique and theology of holy iconography (June 9-13, 2008). The class is appropriate for beginners as well as those with artistic experience. Upon completing the class, students will have one finished icon. Tuition is $250. St. Emilian's number is (330) 225-9857.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


Trying to answer the question, "What do priests do?"


How do you write a homily?

I drive the other priests in the house nuts. They have their homilies written sometimes weeks in advance. Mine come when they are good and ready and not a moment before. It’s not that I do not want them to. Sometimes I beg God, “Please! I’ve read through the Scriptures and all the commentaries, I did my research, I have prayed about it! Why not let something happen?” I should have learned by now (you would think) that it is because something is going to happen yet that will supply that which is still missing. The only problem is sometimes that cuts it awfully close.

Take Easter morning for example.

I had been pushing to get my homilies done for Holy Week. Sometimes a mere glance at the Scriptures will reveal a homily from introduction to final tag line. Other times it is like trying to speed-ripen a tomato using only your brainwaves. There will be a lot of sweat and stress but very little progress.

So Easter morning is on the horizon and I have nothing but blank sticky notes (upon which I scribble my humble ramblings). I sit with a cup of coffee, a lectionary, and a couple of commentaries and just think. And think. And think. And nothing happens except that the coffee grows cold.

Later I take a pen and my yellow pad and go before the Blessed Sacrament. For a long time the pen sits limply in my hand. But I will not be deterred! A homily will come out of this sitting! There is a deadline coming after all! So it is forced through. Fine! Done! Off to other projects that need to be finished before the weekend. (I should have known better.)

Saturday night was the Great Easter Vigil. The pastor gave his usual brilliant talk and I looked over at the people I have been working with to bring into the Church. Their faces are so bright, they look so hopeful, and they cannot wipe the smiles off of their faces. I want to speak to people like that on Easter morning. I want to feed them! Bolster them! Get them excited about God. My homily is not going to do it.

Back in my room, too keyed up to fall asleep yet I look over my homily. “X”s are drawn through passages, arrows drawn, new notes inserted in red. Sleep seems finally possible.

The next morning I sit in my spot in the Choir loft and listen to Fr. W’s homily and know once again that mine will not cut the mustard. You must speak to those who are life long Catholics looking for inspiration as well as C & E Catholics who are more interested in Easter bonnets and bunnies. How do you draw everyone in? Between masses more stickem’ notes are added, others tossed, more “X”s and arrows. But it is now ready and none too soon.

In general, my homilies do not translate well to the written word, but here is the homily that finally came together that Easter morning:

He is risen! Indeed He is risen!

Welcome to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb! Is that not a great image? A wedding feast. In order to show us how much Jesus loves us the image used most often in Scripture is not mother and child or shepherd and sheep, but bridegroom and bride.

“I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you.”

I thought it might be good to be reminded of these words because they get so little play in popular entertainment. Where once worn out plot lines involved the terrible mother-in-law coming to stay for a week’s visit, now the worn out plot-line concerns a couple either on the verge of a terrible divorce, in the middle of a terrible divorce, or dealing with the aftermath of a terrible divorce.

I can tell you half the plot line of Tom Cruise’s next five movies even though they have not been written yet. He will have been through a bitter divorce. He will be a dad. He will be misunderstood. No matter how hard he tries situations will keep coming up to ruin his relationship with his family. In at least one scene he will be crying over his estranged kid.

A lot of good these images do us if we want to understand how God loves us. How God loves you. So lets take a look.

Christ is called the bridegroom. The Church is the bride. “Church” is not an institution, it is not clergy or Rome, it is you. He gave Himself for you. And not a general idea of you or for all future people but for you specifically. “From the womb before the dawn I knew you.” You are that bride.

Paul tells us – men – love your wives as yourselves and let no stain touch her. You are no longer two but one flesh.

Christ gave Himself completely to us that we might be washed clean of any stain of sin. He took on the form of a slave in order to live with us. Every aspect of His life was an example for us. Every word He spoke was a lesson for us. The torture He endured He endured for our sins. His death was for our sanctification. His resurrection gave us new life. His ascension opened heaven for us. And He did not do this for His benefit but for ours. One of our prefaces for the mass reads, “You have no need of our praise yet our desire to thank You is itself Your gift!” So it was out of pure love that He chose you.

But that was not enough.

At Passover He took bread and wine and declared it to be His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. The bread and wine have ceased to exist and not is left now but Jesus so that He might always be physically present with us. And He was not satisfied with that! He was not asking us to be satisfied with coming to church and worshipping Him at a distance. No! We are invited to touch Him, to take Him on our tongue or in our hands and bring Him into our bodies so that there is nothing left even possible for Him to give us! There is nothing about which we can say, “God why did you withhold this from me?”

That is the gift God gives you. That is what it means to be Catholic! That is what it means to have Christ as the bridegroom. And this cries out for a response!

You know what the response is because you have been in love before.

What does it look like? With the one you are in love with you go out to eat, maybe down to Little Italy or over the other’s parent’s house. You talk on the phone. If you are younger than I am you send text messages. You just spend time together. What is this but mass and prayer?

With the one you love, because you love, you patch up any problems between you as quickly as possible. And you get to know and love those who they know and love because they are important to them. What is this but confession and being part of the community of the Church?

Your love for another invariable causes you to strive to be a better person and what is this but growing in a life of virtue in the Holy Spirit as Christ taught us?

That is why this is the Wedding Feast of the Lamb! That is what our resurrected Lord wants for you and from you today and every day, in good times and bad, in sickness and health so that you might rejoice with Him forever in the life to come in heaven.
The holy water then will rain down upon us reminding us of our baptism, the day we were made Christ’s. May it also move us to live lives that bring honor to the name we received that day, “Christian.”

Friday, March 28, 2008


Randy Pausch will die soon. Here is the inspirational message he wants you to hear. (10 minutes.) Sent in by MJ. Thanks.


Jumping Jehosaphat! Jay just jestingly judged Catholic Carnival 165 ready for your digestion.

Looking for a site that suggests good nun movies? (Yes you read that correctly.) Habemus Papem found this site to satiate you.

Picture stolen from The Buffalo.

H. B. also found this site called Inside Clear Creak Monastery. This is pretty cool.

The Diocese of Cleveland Enewletter found this little gem of site for a Saint of the Day from American Catholic.

Unexpectedly we broke some records in attendance for the Triduum through Easter Sunday here at Saint Clare. Most excitingly was that there were quite a few younger folk. As we ask around it seems that this might of have been something of a trend at least around here. Any noticeable differences in your parishes?


So the bishop is coming to your parish and at the mass you notice he carries a large staff that resembles a shepherd’s staff and from time to time picks it up and sets it down. It is obvious that it has something to do with his position so what exactly is this staff?

Through all of history it seems that many leaders hold something to show their leadership. It might be a club, or orb, or scepter. Is it not comforting that the choice of those in leadership position in the Church from the earliest time have chosen such a benign symbol such as the shepherd’s staff? It symbolizes Christ’s love and protection for His people as a shepherd has for his sheep. It also symbolizes mercy, firmness and the correction of vices.

It is said that this staff or crosier (or even crozier) extends all the way back to the Twelve Disciples that legend tells us carried large staffs. From here they became the symbol of the pastoral authority of all bishops. There was a spell in history when others were allowed by exception to carry the crosier but by and large that has been done away with now with the exception being abbots. (The abbess of the order from whence Maria von Trapp came was the last mitred abbess and had juridical powers over that particular area.)

There is a strict protocol in using the crosier about who can use one and when (and there is not enough room to go into that here) save for this interesting little tidbit that will aid you in your deciphering of pictures and statues of saints.

The pope does not carry a crosier for he already has world wide jurisdiction. A bishop always bears his crosier in the open position, that is with the crook facing away from him. Everyone else, and in recent times this would signify abbots, bear the crosier closed or with the crook facing toward himself. This is to signify that his jurisdiction is limited.


1. False. That is the definition for Easter Week.
2. Easter falls on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox.
3. The Easter Season ends with the praying of Vespers (Evening Prayer) on Pentecost.
4. The Second Sunday of Easter (aka the Sunday following Easter or Divine Mercy Sunday.)
5. Easter Duty refers to our obligation to receive Holy Communion at least once a year during the Easter Season (Canon 920).
6. False. That’s just me being snotty.
7. “Indeed He is Risen!”
8. Alleluia (from Halleluia).
9. John Paul II was the pope and 2001 was the year.
10. “A plenary indulgence, granted under the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer for the intentions of Supreme Pontiff) to the faithful who, on the Second Sunday of Easter or Divine Mercy Sunday, in any church or chapel, in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin, take part in the prayers and devotions held in honour of Divine Mercy, or who, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reserved in the tabernacle, recite the Our Father and the Creed, adding a devout prayer to the merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. Merciful Jesus, I trust in you!"); A partial indulgence, granted to the faithful who, at least with a contrite heart, pray to the merciful Lord Jesus a legitimately approved invocation.”
(Well done as usual Rob.)

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Here are a couple of articles from Catholic publications (that I am just now catching up on now that Easter is over) that really made me sit back and ponder.

The April 2008 edition of This Rock has a piece on secrecy in the Church by Russell Shaw entitled, “Does the Church Have Too Many Secrets?” There is a paragraph in the article concerning clericalism that that really made me pause for thought. He says in part:

“In speaking of clericalism, I’m not talking only about the clergy. The jumble of ideas, attitudes, and behaviors that make up clericalism and the clerical mindset are by no means limited to the clergy, either in the Catholic Church or in any other denomination.” Clericalism is a distortion of the importance of a particular vocation, in this case Holy Orders. That means one’s importance lies only in how closely they mimic the vocation of the priesthood. “This way of thinking underlies the exaggerated enthusiasm in some circles for lay ministries.”

This was not the point of the article but well worth the read in and of itself and is yet another gem to be garnered from this fine publication.

April’s “The Priest” has an article entitled “Challenging Chastity: Cyberspace” by Fr. James Wehner. I thought for sure that his article was going to be about the problem of pornography and how easily available it is via the Internet, a topic that is coming up more and more. But in a surprise twist he is calling priest and seminarians (and in turn all) to accountability on the Internet particularly in the amount of time spent there. The first question toward Internet Chastity he asks is, “How much time do you spend before the Blessed Sacrament?” The questions do not get much easier form there! This is a worthy thought to ponder during this holy season.


How about an EASTER QUIZ?

1. True or False: Holy Week consists of Easter Sunday through Divine Mercy Sunday.
2. How is the date of Easter determined?
3. When does the Easter season officially end?
4. What day is referred to as Low Sunday, or Dominicana In Albis, or Quasimodo Sunday?
5. What is the Easter Duty?
6. True or False: Where the Ascension has been moved to Sunday, it is properly referred to as Ascension Thursday Sunday in order to recognize the proper numbering of days.
7. What is the proper response to, “He is risen!”
8. “Yahweh be praised!” is the definition of this word.
9. Name the pope and the year of the first universal celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday.
10. What are the conditions for receiving the plenary indulgence for Divine Mercy Sunday?

Answers, as always, tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Funny how two people can walk out of the same Mass and one person think it wonderful and the other think it the most horrid piece of tripe to come down the liturgical pike. I am sure that if I were able to celebrate Mass and have everything go exactly the way I want it to, there would be those who would be ecstatically happy, those who would by hysterically upset, and the majority who just want to hear the Gospel, receive communion and go home.

At times people (read: I) can become quite passionate in our declarations about the Mass. On the one hand this is extremely cool. People do not become passionate about things unless they are very important to them. It is awesome to have people excited about the Liturgy.

But when it comes right down to it, though it is nice (what a horrid little word), it really doesn’t matter if I “like” a particular Mass or not. That is not why we are there. There is something much more essential that needs to be taken into account rather than the particular aesthetic reaction one might have. The criteria must have some connection with the basic, essential nature of the Church: the Four Marks of the True Church being ONENESS, HOLINESS, CATHOLICITY, and APOSTOLICITY. So lets say that you attended the mass, and although it is probably better to attend to pray with a community rather than critique the way they pray, occasionally something motivates us to examine exactly what it was we experienced. So lets give it a go.

ONENESS: Christ’s mission was to make us one people whose roots are in the One Triune God. Did the liturgy lead us into that unity of mind with the universal Church in essential things (faith and doctrine, worship, and leadership)? Were there things intended to be common among all Catholics that were excused away because, “That is not the way we do things here.” That is not to say we must have strict uniformity (after all, we first realize that there is more to the Catholic Church than just the Roman Rite for example), but there are definite things to which we are all called. To do otherwise is to make that aspect of the liturgy the rite of the particular priest or parish and not the Chruch. That is not part of what it is to be Catholic. So was the mass licit: that is lawful? Was it in keeping with the greater mind of the Church in essential things?

HOLINESS: Here is probably where validity comes in to play. Were those present exposed to Christ in the fullest and most authentic way possible on earth? We are a sinful people who can be made holy by His Word and through contact with Him in the sacraments. So was the Sacrament validly celebrated so as to put us in contact with Him in order to gain this supernatural grace?

CATHOLICITY: Where oneness brought us to our identity as one in Christ, catholicity recognizes our legitimate differences. Were all invited and made welcome to the extent possible (that is to the extent that they are one with the Church)? Did it move its participants to take the faith beyond the walls of the Church to the world?

APOSTOLICITY: Were the messages of the mass orthodox? Was the Gospel message proclaimed on the Catholic playing field (homily, music, etc.)? Was the Mass obedient to the Chair of Peter? Was the priest in union with his legitimate bishop? Did the Mass further the mission of the Church?

After all of that has been settled, then we can talk about the tawdry music, the length of the gaudy chasuble the priest was wearing, the horrendous banners, the ostentatious Easter decorations, the boring homily, the uncomfortable pews, and the Cheerio eating infant that cried in your ear the entire Mass. That is not to say that these things are not important, but they are truly secondary. To quote the inestimable Rev. J. Glenn Murray SJ, “Even if the Mass is as dry as dust on toast in the desert, God still works” for the one whose mission is to worship God as the Church intends.


Knowing that I would probably need a day off from the computer after Easter, C. has graciously composed this guest blog for our edification on this Easter Wednesday.

There is nothing more crippling to the Christian message than the thought, “Please like me!” How many times has it you kept you quiet when you should speak?

I received a life-altering ray of light while surfing channels a few years ago. Mother Angelica was explaining the concept of “human respect”, how Jesus didn’t have it and neither should we. It suddenly dawned on me that my greatest deterrent to talking about my faith was my desire to be liked. The desire to make the message somehow “cool” was making me into pathetic mute. This little gram of understanding liberated me completely, and I began talking about my faith when the situation demanded it, and I didn’t care about the consequences. The results have been amazingly positive. My greatest unfounded fear was that talking about the hard issues courageously was going to make me hated, and I am still prepared for that. But to my surprise, I have been showered in love and gratitude.

Great opportunities are missed by fearing the wrath of unreceptive ears. Don’t be afraid of the angry people. They’re not so far away as you think. I used to flip past EWTN as quickly as possible for fear I might hear something challenging that I didn’t want to hear. I remember that subtle desire to think that those priests and nuns were really shams, then I wouldn’t have to feel so guilty about my own faults. Bishop Sheen once said that passion is a force and it has to choose a direction. I know from experience that what looks like anger is really fear of the message and its implications. Understanding can change fear into loving acceptance, but if we don’t have the courage to lead people to understanding, then were losing valuable members of the team, people who can launch their passion in the direction of Truth rather than rebellion. Anger and attitude are easy. The humble consideration of, “Maybe I’m wrong” is an act of the will that is hard to come by, but the grace to do that has made several 180 degree turns in my life. If we Christians “in the know” don’t lead others to that, who will?

How many bowls of homiletic porridge have been offered to the god of being liked? Listen, all you religious out there: if getting us to like you is your mission, mission accomplished! We’re falling all over ourselves liking you. But is that your mission? It’s good to educate AND be engaging, but which is your real goal? I think sometimes priests make the same modern mistake that some parents do: they want to be their kid’s pal rather than their parent. Your position is so much more powerful than “pal”! The dignity of the collar, the disinterested love, even a holy detachment, they fill us with awe of something greater and more powerful than that! There’s a time and a place for “pal” just not in the context of the sacraments. Don’t be afraid to upset us. If you are going to deliver the message authentically, you like St. Paul are going to be “disturbers of the peace”. Bishop Lennon recently reiterated that parents need to be the primary catechists of their children. He’s right. 100%. The only reason I persevere in the faith is because of my parents. But I fear he might just as well have said, “Let them eat cake.” We can’t give what we never received. It’s up to you in the pulpit to re-catechize us.

When I was looking of for the fullness of my faith, I was so skittish I could barely get near the very message I sought. I remember reading about St. Pio (not a subtle guy) criticizing immodest dress, and it was like a flamethrower in the face. At the time I was a poor little fat girl who suddenly whipped herself into shape and thought the best way to celebrate this fact was to dress like a hooker. Can you imagine my horror of any talk of modesty?! I wanted the message so badly, but I was as afraid of it as a vampire of holy water. Just because I wanted the message doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have hissed at you if you tried to deliver it. I didn’t “like” St. Pio for what he said, but I needed to hear it. Now I know that he also said, “Pray, hope, and don’t worry” and “Be sweet and loveable in everything”. Like all things Catholic, it is not either/or but both/and. It’s not a choice between gentle and direct. We need both.

Truth be told, I love Mother Angelica and Fr. Corapi but I STILL am not comfortable with what they say. I watch them like I watch a horror movie, peeking between my fingers lest I see something I don’t like. But the only truly life-altering messages I ever got came from them. Frankly I think they are improving with age, getting mellow like a fine wine. Mother has slowed down, and Fr. is getting grey. The message is clear as ever, but it is more of a roaring furnace of charity than a flamethrower. That’s my idea of the perfect delivery. It works for me every time. None of us are called to be tyrants. Christ did not give us the cross to bash people over the head with it. But every man is called to a father and every woman a mother, either literally or spiritually, and if we don’t want our kids to end up in prison, we’ve got to be clear on how to live a good Christian life. Our kids aren’t always going to “like” us, but that’s not our goal. Our goal is to get them to heaven, and for that they are going to more than like us, they will love us.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


FINDING TRUTH WHEVER IT MAY BE FOUND - "The scandal of truth is that a man, with the biology of an animal, who eats, sleeps, tires, is wounded, who is killed, could be a Divine Person. And we take is so casually. We don't realize how incredible this is to a non-Christian." Fr. Benedict Groeschell

QUOTE II - "Truth is not afraid of questions. Maybe our questions are afraid of truth." Christopher West


This is a little late but still interesting. "Tens of thousands of people from around the country will be received into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil, Holy Saturday, on March 22, through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA)" reports this article from the USCCB. Read more here.

The Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter reports that in the Diocese of Cleveland 327 people have been baptized at our Easter Vigils and that 526 already baptized Christians have been welcomed into full communion with the Catholic Church.

My sister Mickie sent this game in. WARNING: ADDICTION LEVEL LOW.

This was sent to me by a priest of this diocese. It is the web page for religious vocatons here. I don't even know how to comment on it so I'll let you DIY.
Joe sent a wire stating that he is starting a new Catholic blog and wonders if we might not give it a little play. There isn't much there yet but here is where you can go to check it out.

Monday, March 24, 2008


Trying to answer the question, "What does a priest do?"

If you are reading this you have most likely been anointed with oil by the Church at baptism, confirmation, ordination, or perhaps when you were ill. These are blessed oils of course. Have you ever given any thought concerning from where they came?

The containers in which your parish keeps the holy oils are called stocks. There are three of these. The oils are Holy Chrism (or Sacrum Chrisma – SC) for use in baptisms, confirmation, orders, blessing tower bells and consecrating altars, chalices, patons, and churches. The second is called the Oil of Catechumens (or Oleum Sanctorum OS). Finally there is the Oil of the Sick (or Oleum Infirmorum – OI).

Every year around this time all the oils are reverently disposed of (that is they are either burned or buried), and the stocks cleaned and prepared for newly blessed oils. The oils for the entire diocese are blessed once a year by the bishop in the presence of his priests at a mass called the Chrism Mass. This mass traditionally takes place on the afternoon of Maundy Thursday, but for pastoral reasons it may happen on another day of Holy Week. For those of us in the Diocese of Cleveland, we gathered on Holy Tuesday.

The priests met on the third floor of the chancery building. It is an elegant building on the outside, but inside not so much. The priest cram into small, hot rooms allotted to them for vesting and preparing for mass. The joyful din is quite remarkable though as brother greets brother and news from the eight counties of the diocese shoot about the room. Black hats, jackets, and coats are placed on every available hanger or chair back and soon the flash of white of albs and stoles start transforming the room from somber black to celebratory white.

Eventually a voice cries out above the others, “Brothers! May I have your attention please!” All heads turn toward the priest who calls out instructions of what will be taking place that night. With that it is time for the grand procession.

Two by two the priests led by the deacons walk the length of the chancery, through the rectory into the Cathedral and march down the long isle. The chorus is singing, the mighty organ and small orchestra ring out a triumphant hymn, and though hundreds of lay people may be in attendance, it is the voice of the hundreds of priests that ring through the vaults of the ceiling of this grand edifice.

This is the one official liturgy out of the year that is specifically designed for the bishop to speak to and unabashedly focus on his priests. At the homily he adjures us, “Do not be afraid of the chalice! Do not be afraid of the Cross! Be afraid only of not loving enough!”

At this point the priest are asked to rededicate themselves to their vows and mission. The bishop asks, “Are you ready to renew your own dedication to Christ as priests? Are you resolved to unite yourself more closely to Christ and His sacrificial life? Are you resolved to be faithful ministers of God’s mysteries and Good Shepherds?” “I AM!” was shouted by your priests in a fever pitch that should have been heard by my blogger friends in Minnesota.

At various times during the mass the different oils are blessed. When the Chrism oil is consecrated, the oil with which you have been anointed, these words, in part, are used:

“And so Father, we ask you to bless + this oil you have created. Fill it with the power of your Holy Spirit through Christ Your Son. It is from Him that this chrism takes its name and with chrism you have anointed for yourself priests and kings, prophets and martyrs.

“Make this chrism a sign of life and salvation for those who are to be born again in the waters of baptism. Wash away the evil they have inherited from sinful Adam, and when they are anointed with this holy oil make them temples of Your glory, radiant with the goodness of life that has its source in You.

“Through this sign of chrism grant them royal, priestly, and prophetic honor, and clothe them with incorruption. Let this be indeed the chrism of salvation for those who will be born again of water and the Holy Spirit!”

That is to what you have been consecrated! What a lofty position! Strive to live that out every day of your lives! What graces have been poured out upon you! What blessings the Lord has given you! It is a treasure to be cherished thusly by the God who made you!
I wish I could say the rest of the night was as wonderful but this is where the logistics start to fail. First, the priests return to the vesting rooms. There are hundreds of black suit jackets, black winter coats, and black hats with which to deal. Oh! The chaos. Even I got caught with Fr. B’s suit coat on. Then of course everybody goes to retrieve holy oils for their parish at the same time. The transitional deacons did an admiral job in a bad situation involving a long day, late hours, and priests that had hours ride home. But nothing beats the parking deck! On the fourth floor nothing moves for an hour or so and so I walked up to the top level and took some pictures of the cathedral that you see here.

Sunday, March 23, 2008



"I have risen: I am with you once more; you placed your hand on me to keep me safe. How great is the depth of your wisdom, alleluia!" From the introit of Easter Sunday.

This first video is almost an hour long. It is Bishop Sheen commenting on the Easter Mass (pre-Vatican II). His insights are still of interest and the music is great.

This second video is for pure enjoyment. I envy these people! I would have loved to have been a part of this. Please enjoy Food Court Musical staring the "Singingest janitor I've ever seen."


Jay can't comprehend computer capable compatriots not connecting to Catholic Carnival 164!

The Diocese of Cleveland provides Bishop Lennon's Easter message here.

A happy and holy Easter to everyone out there! Know that I pray for readers of Adam's Ale always, but special prayers are being sent out today! God bless!

Saturday, March 22, 2008


Symbolic Saturday was transferred to Holy Thursday this week. Here is a short Holy Saturday message as it is a busy day! God bless.

Unwise is he that mourns a man’s going hence. Let Christ have thee rather than I.” From Sigrid Undset’s, “Kristen Lavransdatter”

The only reason we can say that is because on this Holy Saturday Christ does not lie in the earth, buried like a forgotten treasure never to see the light of day again, but like a flower bulb that lays beneath the cold earth ready to spring to life at the proper time. Hence for Christians, death has been redefined. We may shed tears in the face of death, but that is for us for we will have to be without the physical presence of a brother of sister for a spell. But even in death there is hope! It is the hope of life. Of life eternal! “Lord, for your faithful people, life is changed, not ended.” This is the gift we are given because Christ lies in a tomb today.

Therefore we are not completely bereft. The Church does not spend all of its time mourning today. We know there is more! And because there is more to the story we must prepare! In rectories homilies are written, chalices and ciboria are cleaned. Candles are prepared, all is made new, brought to a shine, and liturgical practices are held. In homes amidst the Triduum prayers the kitchen ovens are hot with preparations for the Easter Feast! Our Sunday best is prepared for when we shed our mourning clothes. The “A” word stands ready in our hearts ready to burst forth at the Easter Vigil.
Today the Christian prefigures what Peter’s mother-in-law went through when the news was brought to her on Easter morning. Jesus, who died is again alive! But it is too soon to celebrate. For now we only have hope. Tomorrow we shall know and we will greet each other with, “He is risen,” and, “Indeed He is risen!” and nobody shall be able to hold back our joy!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


The following is a reflection from an old book entitled, “Last Journey of the Redeemer; The Way of the Cross As It Is in Jerusalem” by the Rev. J. J. Begel, 1880. Interestingly the Imprimatur is by his Excellency R. Gilmore, from his Episcopal Residency, Cleveland, Ohio, Feb. 10, 1880.

This station is made at the spot where the cross was planted, in a hole made in the rock on the very place where Jesus expired for the love of man. The station in which the cross was fixed is covered with a slab of marble having a corresponding hole of the same diameter, garnished on the interior with a ring of silver. Upon this base stands an altar . . .The wall behind the altar is decorated with rich ornaments, in the arrangement of which very little taste has been displayed. There is also a crucifix, with the Blessed Virgin and St. John in a standing attitude at its feet, the effect of which is terrible. Thirteen lamps are found on the first fifteen on the second plane, and the four corners of the altar-table are occupied by four candelabra.

We must say here, however, that the cavity which is at present at the summit of Calvary is not actually that in which the cross of the Savior was planted. After the conflagration in 1808, . . . the stone in which the true cross had been fixed (was sent to) Constantinople . . . and put another in its place. The true stone was lost by the wreck of the vessel which carried it.


It is about midday. Jesus is crucified. The moment the cross is raised the Temple reechoes the sound of the trumpets which celebrate the immolation of the paschal Lamb.

“Nothing,” says Catherine Emmerich, “could be more terrible, and at the same time more touching, than to see, in the midst of the insulting cries . . . the sacred cross now tottering a moment on its base, now sinking in the earth; but there arose towards it also voices of pity and devotion. The most holy souls in the world – the Blessed Mary, St. John, Mary Magdalene, the holy women, and all those whose hearts were pure – saluted with dolorous accents the Word Made Flesh elevated upon the cross, and lifted up towards Him their trembling hands, as if to aid Him in His sufferings. But when they dropped the cross with woeful sound into the hole of the rock, then there was a moment of solemn silence; the whole world seemed struck with a sensation never before experienced. . . The sacred cross was planted for the first time in the midst of the earth as another tree of life in paradise, and from the wounds of Jesus flowed out four sacred streams to fertilize the world and made of it the paradise of the new Adam.”


Here is an invitation from Paraclete Press. “You are invited to take part in a tradition that dates back to the eighth century, with the chanting of the Passion Narrative according to Saint John on Good Friday. Take half an hour apart from the events of the day, and listen to these sacred words, chanted by monastic members of the Gloriae Dei Cantores Schola in Gregorian chant.

"Hear the voices of the Narrator, Christ, and the Synagogue, in this noble narration which brings to life with a dramatic immediacy the events of the Passion, as the Gospel account unfolds. Meditate on the English translation as you listen, and allow the ancient language of the text, and the special Gregorian chant tone reserved especially for this holy season, to add a new depth and solemnity to your understanding of this familiar story.”
Click HERE to listen.


B has requested a post on the tradition of the “Blessing of the Food” which takes place in many parishes usually in the afternoon of Holy Saturday. “Being a convert, I have no history on this. I have never done it. Do you bring all the food you are going to eat for Easter dinner? Does it have to be cooked already? Do you bring it in a nice basket or a grocery bag? WHY do you do this?”


I hate to admit it, but this has always been one of my favorite services performed by the church though its significance is really quite trivial compared to what happens the rest of the Easter season. Remember that the faithful used to take Lenten fasting much more seriously. Most importantly there was a Triduum fast and Easter morning was the first day when meat, eggs, and other foods could be eaten again. Remember also that an absolute fast used to be in place from midnight until after you received Communion. That is where we get the word “breakfast”, we are breaking the fast.

So you can imagine that first meal after going to Easter mass was quite significant. You had not eaten in quite a spell! Now we are rejoicing because Christ is risen; indeed He is risen! All is made new! New food stuffs are brought into our homes and we are able to celebrate as we begin by satiating our hunger with the same relish (pun intended) and joy that we experienced in the Resurrection of Christ, being fed by His Word and Body. This is not just any food! This is the food of our celebratory feast! This is our new nourishment after a period of want! Our cup runneth over and we want to pay tribute to that in a special way. So we have our food of Easter blessed in a ceremonial fashion.

There are different thoughts on exactly what one should bring to the Blessing of the Foods. My Mother was a strict observer of only having exactly that with which we would break our fast (and different ethnic groups might have specific things that must be included.) Our Easter breakfast was quite simple and the basket we brought to be blessed would reflect this. There would be generally a potica (a type of coffee cake), zaludits (I may not have spelled that correctly), Easter eggs, puhanja (I’m sure I didn’t spell that correctly) and some other simple Slovenian delights – ooooh, such as sausage!) Others have a more generous idea about what it is that is blessed. They take the foods of the main Eater meal when the whole family will be together and so have hams and wine and butter and cakes and, well, (lip smack) everything you can imagine. You decide what it is you want to do.

The foods are usually placed in an appropriately sized basket and covered with a linen cloth, sometimes embroidered for just such occasions. But there is nothing wrong with using another type of container. Cooked or uncooked, it really does not matter.

At parishes where there is a Blessing of the Foods, the baskets are usually placed on the steps of the sanctuary or on the isle at the end of the pews. The official rite itself is actually quite short. After a reading and petitions there is a short prayer of blessings and you are done.

I try to always think with the mind of the Church, but this is one time I tend to go my own way. The blessing ceremony is a bit longer as I bless each of the food individually. What follows is each of the blessings to give you an idea of what you might bring and what each of the foods symbolize.

Father of all goodness, we bless You for this lamb and other meat products. You commanded our ancestors in the faith to prepare a lamb on Passover night. May these meats prepared for our celebration in honor of the Passover of Your Son from death to life remind us of the true Paschal Lamb by Whose blood we are saved . .

Father Almighty, may Your blessing be upon these breads and other grain products and all who partake of them. As with the many grains of wheat, which have combined to from these loaves, may we be mad one through the Bread of Life . . .

Heavenly Father, let Your blessing be upon our dairy products, especially these eggs, for in them we see a sign of Your Son rising to life from the tomb . . .

Blessed are You, Lord God, Who fill the hungry and satisfy the thirsty, and gave us wine to gladden our hearts. Grant that all who drink this wine in commemoration of the Passion of Your Son may rejoice in You and be invited to sit at your Heavenly banquet . . .

God of compassion, mercy, and love, in the midst of the pain and suffering of the world, Your Son came among us to heal our infirmities and soothe and heal our wounds. May all who this oil be blessed with health in mind and body . . .

Almighty God, we ask You to bless this salt as once You blessed the salt scattered over the water by the prophet Elisha. Wherever this salt is used, drive away the power of evil and protect us always by the presence of Your Holy Spirit . . .

God of power, Who enlightens the world and dispels the darkness of evil and sin, let the light of these candles illuminate our hearts and minds that they may reflect always the splendor of Christ . . .

We ask You to bless these flowers and other Easter decorations so that the faithful who use them to adorn their homes and this sanctuary to celebrate Your Son’s resurrection may praise You always for the beauty with which You clothed Your creation . . .

Loving Father, in joy we thank You for the Easter baskets, which these children ask Your blessing upon. May they enjoy these Easter eggs and candy and all that these baskets contain as they celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, Your Son and Our Brother. May we always appreciate the gifts we receive and the joy You give us in sharing them . . .

God of Glory, the eyes of all turn to You as we celebrate Christ’s victory of sin and death. Bless these fruits, vegetables, herbs, pastries, staples, and other foods of our Easter Meals. May those who gather at the Lord’s table continue to celebrate the joy of His resurrection and be admitted finally to His heavenly banquet . . .

If your parish does not have a blessing of the foods (and you cannot join us here at St. Clare Saturday at 1:00) you may of course bless your own food. The Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers Book (which I recommend for one and all) has a simple ceremony to perform.

God of Glory,
the eyes of all turn to you
as we celebrate Christ’s victory over sin and death.

Bless + us and this food of our first Easter meal.
May we who gather at the Lord’s table,
continue to celebrate the joy of His resurrection and be admitted finally to his heavenly banquet.

Grant this through Christ our Lord.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Here is one of the saddest things to hear (as a priest) in the confessional. “Oh, I don’t really have any sins. I try to be good. I pray every day and try to be nice to people.”

I usually respond, “That’s amazing. I sinned five times on my walk from the rectory to the church.”

Why is this sad? Not because sin should not be avoided at all costs, but because we all sin. Scripture says, “He who says he is without sin calls God a liar.” If someone is in the confessional that means that he buys Scripture, the sacraments, and the Church. To come in (after a year or even twenty) and say that you have not sinned basically says that you do not need Christ.

Now, Okay, that was harsh. What it really means is that the person is not very reflective. It takes very little probing even with an eighty-year-old, home bound paraplegic to find some weak spots in that spotless armor. But why focus on sin? Because whatever is weak when you give it to God it is made strong. But that can only happen in the realization and offering of that weakness.

Julian of Norwich puts it this way: What happens when you sin? That is, what happens when you know you have sinned and know how it damages you, your neighbor, and your relationship with God? What happens when you do not decide to blow it off? First, contrition enters in. With contrition comes extra prayer and longing to make things right with God and neighbor. This desire leads to a change of life or at least a stab at it. Finally it brings you to the sacrament where you encounter God and are touched directly by Him allowing Him to take your stain and transform it into a badge of honor. But that cannot be done unless we first honestly recognize, name, take ownership, have contrition, make amends, and work at changing our lives.

ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ: Once again, I am so sorry about this. Just put up with me today and I’ll try not to do it again. I must say, you guys are good!

1. To what Lenten song does this picture refer? "Lord, Who Threw Out These Forty Days?" (Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days) To which Fr. W always responds, "Nobody, they are still here."

2. The picture below refers to the third verse of that same song. "As You did hunger bear and thirst . . ."

3. The old time Lenten hymn to which this picture refers is, *sigh* "Shirly, the Cross Eyed Bear" or rather "Surely the Cross I'd Bear." Fr. W. thinks it should have been Gladly the Cross . . . but it still works.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: "Christ did not teach and suffer in order that we should become more cautious of our own happiness." C. S. Lewis

Sr. Brigid Ancilla Marie who recently joined the Sisters of Life in New York from this parish wrote to say that the sisters will be at World Youth Day. To that end they have a new website that they are trying to spread around. Check out

Frank sent this game in. To tell the truth it involves blowing up things so I don't know that it is the best game to have on this site, but I did find myself playing it for a spell. "Here's your chance to fire one of the military's sophisticated cannons." WARNING: ADDICTION LEVEL MEDIUM.

QUIZ: This last part I really, really apoligize for. I hope it does not cause you to stop reading Adam's Ale but I can't seem to stop myself. Perhaps later I will wish I would have.

1. To what Lenten song does this first picture refer?
2. According to our hymnals (Jouneysongs) this second picture is verse 3 of the above song.
3. This last picture refers to an old Lenten hymn. And again I am sorry. Answers tomorrow.


Answering the question: What is it like in the day of a priest?

Sometimes priests struggle with having to take care of elderly and sick parents just like anybody else. For a while I had to deal with this situation alone. But this past year a blessing came by way of one of my sisters moving back to town (after 30 years of living in the south and making it back to Ohio just in time for one of our worst winters in many, many, years.)

So this past Monday the phone rang in the middle of the night. It was the hospital. This is not an unusual occurrence in a rectory. What made it different was that this time it was concerning my father. He was in the hospital. (Before you become too concerned, he is doing well now.) I grabbed my oils and jumped in the car and met my sister in the emergency room. Normally I would go on in to see the patient/parishioner but we were in for the long haul and so a seat was taken out in the waiting room until we should be summoned by the nurse.

Lots of interesting things happen in an emergency room at night. The highlight was an elderly couple leaving the ER in much joy (their emergency apparently dealt with.) They were laughing hysterically for when the ambulance brought the husband in, they forgot to bring along shoes and so he left the hospital on that slushy night wearing socks and latex gloves on his feet.

As for us, eventually a nurse came out and invited us to the bedside of our Dad. He was pale and mostly unresponsive. I reached down and touched the oil stock for the anointing of the sick that was in my pocket. If you have read this blog for a spell you know that my Dad is at best tolerant of God and religion though more lately there have been cracks in that facade. It was several months ago that he let me pray for him anointing him with oil, even thanking me for it. This could quite possibly be the worst time in his life as he does not believe in an afterlife. That brings with it the realization that not just life, but existence is coming to an end. Period. There is no more excitement to look forward to in this life or in one to come. He is just surviving until nothingness.

So do I anoint him? In the end my sister and I decided to do so. A couple of times he stirred and I found myself actually uttering a prayer that he would stay unresponsive as his reaction might just as easily be snappy (rightful?) anger as it might be great relief and appreciation. There was no way of telling.

The next day, my day away from the parish, I sat by his bedside reading the book about Padre Pio (reviewed in this site last Thursday.) Dad was bouncing back like a super ball. There is nothing to make you fight for life than the thought that earthly death means complete annihilation. What a contrast to what I was reading. Padre Pio who had an overwhelming love for God and a belief in the life to come begged to be released of the bonds of this earthly life so that he might enjoy the company of his God and the saints in heaven. “I desire death,” he says, “only because it will unite me with indissoluble chains to the heavenly Spouse.”

As a priest you see many people come to the end of their earthly path. It is difficult to be with people who do not have faith in or have a very weak relationship with God. Perhaps it happens, but I have never seen anyone go to his or her death in peace in that situation. It is tragic. What else can it be? There is no hope. Eventually the one who says they are Okay with being dead will face the abyss and may be brave, but has no hope. And if there is no hope there can be no joy.

The flip side of that coin concerns those who believe in God and have worked on their relationship with Him. There may still be a certain amount of fear (I fear dying more than death I suppose) but in the end there can be peace, hope, even joy. Mom went like that. Though she was in pain, she went as they said John Paul II went, as if she passed from one room to another. Dad however will go kicking and screaming into a dark night.
That is the gift of God to us. We are asked to contemplate that this Holy Week. Because of Christ, death has been redefined. A good Christian may still fear leaving the known for the unknown, but at least there is still an unknown awaiting you as opposed to nothingness. Even if we face a firing squad and there is no chance of escaping it, we still have hope and that hope awaits us on the other side of the Cross.