Monday, June 30, 2008


Dear readers,

This past Sunday morning my father (on the right) passed away after a long bout with Alzheimer’s. It was a long and difficult journey but our belief in Jesus Christ and His resurrection gives us much assurance. If you have a moment say a prayer for the repose of William's soul.

Funeral arrangements will not be made until later today but we do know the calling hours will not be until Wednesday with Mass on Thursday. More news to follow for those who may be interested (please do not feel obligated) when we know.

As a further consequence, of course, Adam’s Ale will be short on posts for a spell. Thank you for your understanding and prayers.

May God bless you,

Fr. Valencheck

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Catholics have always been on intimate terms with nature and have seen God’s handprint there and have used nature to teach about and glorify God. That is why our symbolic language is so strong in nature, though much of it has fallen into neglet over the years. It is time to reclaim it.

Perhaps the most endearing tradition is that of planting a Mary Garden. Typically these gardens would have a statue of Mary in them though I don’t know that this is strictly necessary. The plants in the garden would be those that have a direct symbolic connection with the Blessed Virgin.

Perhaps the flower most readily called to mind for this type of garden would be the rose. The term rosary originally referred to a garland made with roses and later came to signify the round of prayers said on beads, each a flower of prayer.

Any color rose would do, but as you might imagine red is often associated with the sorrowful mysteries, white with the joyful mysteries, and yellow with the glorious. Of course now we have the pesky problem of the luminous mysteries. I do not know that there is an “official symbolic color” yet universally associated with them. So knock your socks off and pick something and start a trend.

We will continue with symbolic plants of Mary next time.

N.B. There will not be a Sunday Video on Tap tomorrow. Of everything that was the only day that did not get so much as a mention on the list of things to keep according to your Emails. That’s great considering finding good videos is becoming more and more difficult. The links will move to Tuesday and if a video happens to come up, it will be posted then too. Thanks for your input.

Friday, June 27, 2008


The post is late today indicative of a schedule that is quite crunched as boxes are still being unpacked and the duties of pastor (administrator) continue to queue up and take precedence. As a matter of fact the site chronicling my Dad’s WWII service is months behind. Foreseeing this inevitability, a number of weeks back it was mentioned that the future of Adam’s Ale was questionable. But the feed back particularly from the people of St. Sebastian was strong toward keeping it going. So Adam’s Ale will remain.

I am not so sure that seven days a week is feasible however, at least not at the moment. So here is how you might be able to help. Would you mind terribly sending an Email and letting me know either what features you enjoy the most or could do without? When the site was begun (with the assistance and insistence of Dawn Eden) it was purely for the fun of it, but now so many of you in some way have partial ownership in it and I have come to appreciate you as a cyber community. So instead of just slashing and burning, it seemed advantageous to let you have a say in what is good and not so good about the site and what you would like to see in the future.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

God bless,

Fr. V

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Father Ozimek once told us (when we got older) not to pick up girls in bars because then you will end up marrying the type of girls who go to bars to pick up men. Why that stuck in my mind in particular I do not know.

It is sad to deal with so many families that are in turmoil. It is especially interesting when it comes to wedding rehearsals. “This is Mom number one with her husband who is walking me down the isle because he is more of a dad to me than my Dad was. My biological Dad and his new girlfriend cannot be seated next to them because they do not get along though his second ex-wife with whom I am close is Okay wherever she sits.” Thank goodness for the dads that stick around to teach their children how to love and how to stay in a relationship to which they gave a serious commitment. Perhaps that is why the saying is a popular one that, “The best gift a father can give to his children is to love their mother.”

That being said I found an interesting prayer card in the back of a drawer as I was moving entitled, “A Young Man’s Prayer.” The back gives six rules for a “Happy and Successful Friendship and Courtship”

1. “Receive our Lord in Holy Communion every Sunday for strength to be and act like a Christlike man.” Worthy advice if the Eucharist is to be the source and summit of our being.

2. “Pray to the Blessed Mother every day for grace to respect and protect her daughters.” It is said that if you want to know how a man will treat his wife, look to see how he treats his mother. And that could be extended to the Blessed Mother as well.
3. “Imitate Christ the Gentleman Who was so unselfish at home and abroad.” There is yet another saying that goes, “He who is nice to you but rude to waiter is not a nice man.” “A gentleman is solid mahogany, the fashionable man merely veneer.” Be a gentleman through and through as was Christ.
4. “Be rich in masculine interests and grow in the art of conversation and of being interesting.” Being masculine does not mean to set yourself apart but to bring masculinity to the table, to compliment and balance the relationship. And to cultivate being interesting mean not to focus on yourself, but to become interesting by being interested in others.
5. “Learn to make decisions for yourself. Learn to save and to be a pleasant companion.” There is an art to making decisions so that one is neither a authoritarian micro manger nor so open that his brains fall out trying to please everyone.
6. “Strive for an esteem of the Sacrament of Marriage and of your Godgiven calling as husband and father in building a Catholic marriage and a Catholic home.” What you cultivate is what you will reap. Something that is fun now may not be sustainable for a lifetime.

The card ends with this prayer: “O St. Joseph, model of justice and therefore of husbands, I beseech you to direct me in my choice of a future wife. Grant me especially wisdom and deliberation in this choice. Make both my friendship and courtship especially chaste, unselfish, prudent, thrifty, and cheerful. Be my companion in single as well as in wedded life. Amen.”

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


GUEST BLOGGER TODAY - (I'm in the process of moving.)

My girlfriend Sara is all class. She’s got a mouth like a rap star. She drinks Pepsi out of a wine glass. But she also has the cutest kids ever, so my whole family loves to spend time with hers. When we first met she told me that she never graduated from high school, so I offered to help her study for her GED. One night after we were done studying she announced, “You know, I’ve always wanted to be Catholic.”

I remember that moment and thinking how ordinary it felt, being there in her living room with the kids’ toys scattered on the floor, but I knew one thing for sure: the whole rest of my life hinged on this moment.

In the past, if a friend really backed me into a corner I would speak up for my faith, but I didn’t like doing it. Now I had to decide: I either speak now and be open about my Faith for the rest of my life, or keep quiet. If I talk, everyone is going to know I’m teaching her religious stuff and think I’m weird. My mind was made up that I would fluff her off…but instead I spoke.

I offered to watch her kids while she went to RCIA classes. I can only imagine their reaction to her: This chick wants to become Catholic? I was mortified when the sister running the program told her she needed to attend a retreat and Sara laughed and said, “Oh, no, I don’t think so.” I smirked to myself that they had to suffer too.

I was thinking to myself one Sunday night that when she makes her Confirmation, they are going to ask me if she is ready. My initial thought was, “Well, I’ll just lie and say she’s ready. Everyone else is going to.” Then I realized what I was saying: I’m going to lie to God in a church full of witnesses. I knew they weren’t teaching her everything she needed to know in the RCIA classes, but why should I tell her all the hard stuff? She’ll get that information somewhere in the future.

Then it dawned on me: if I don’t tell her the hard stuff, no one will. But the Faith is hard for me to follow and I had a lifetime of Catholic upbringing. For her, it will be impossible! But I decided that God doesn’t ask us to do impossible things. I’m going to tell her everything, and if she breaks my heart and rejects it, at least she came by her faith honestly.

I’m glad I had my mind made up to be strong, because the first rude shock she sprang on me was that she had been married before. She was currently living with her boyfriend. I told her the truth: as far as God was concerned, she was still married and she needed an annulment. I cried that following Christmas when she called me to say she got a letter from Pope Benedict the “whatever” (she can’t read Roman numerals) telling her that her annulment was granted and she was free to marry the father of her children.

I told her that it is wrong to have sex outside of marriage and she didn’t believe me! She quickly grabbed her RCIA book to see if such a ludicrous thing could be true! Like everything else I tried to teach her, I proved to her that she already knew in her heart what I was telling her. She had gone to RCIA classes before she met me, but quit when she became pregnant with her third child. What’s wrong with being pregnant, I asked? I was embarrassed because I wasn’t married, she grudgingly admitted.

Sara and I went through all the RCIA rituals, but she had to wait for her annulment, so she didn’t make her sacraments that Easter. But after the annulment was granted, when the priest said she had to receive all her sacraments, including marriage, all at once, everything came to a screeching halt. No, no, that’s too much at once, she said. All my hard work and agony, and she’s not going through with it because it’s “too much at once”?!!

Even now she continues to stick knives in my heart: “I don’t believe in hell.” “I’m not getting married – If it ain’t broke why fix it?” “EWTN is boring.” When I encourage her to say even three Hail Marys a day, she says, ug, maybe just one, and she probably doesn’t even do that.

But she still surprises me with her childlike embrace of the Faith. Once at a wedding mass, Sara told her girlfriend, “Wait, don’t go to communion. You have mortal sins on your soul. But probably didn’t know that, so it’s not your fault, but you still need to go to confession first.” When we were looking for Catholic schools for her kids, we walked into the chapel at one of the schools and Sara immediately exclaimed, “Where’s Jesus?!” When the student guide showed us where the tabernacle was hidden and said this is where they keep the bread, Sara kindly explained to her, that’s not bread, that’s Jesus. Even her boyfriend still trusts me because, when their son asked if soldiers who kill people go to heaven, he said, “Better call C!”Sara didn’t ask to become Catholic because she was sick, or dying, or suffering. She’s attracted to Mary and Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. She just knows it’s where she belongs, that she needs Him. She’s spiritually lazy and that’s something she has to want to change. My whole life is different because of her. Is God going to allow her to be lost, despite my efforts? I guess this is the time to trust. I’ll pray and sacrifice for her until the day I die. I know she still wants to be Catholic.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: "Do you really want to become a saint? Carry out the little duty of each moment: Do what you ought and put yourself into what you're doing." Saint Escriva

QUOTE II - "We want our heroes to be perfect. And when they are not we want to punish them. Then we write a country song about them." - ?


Monday, June 23, 2008


The final days leading up to ordination were frantic. More recently the diocese has taken steps to control the celebrations for ordination as they were becoming quite over the top events, mine being no exception despite my “Catholic Etiquette” book which stated that a reception should be in the home and avoid all resemblance to a wedding feast. Monsignor Manners would have been appalled.

The Tuesday before ordination weekend was my last final exam: Social Justice. That being done there was a focus on getting ready for ordination. A handful of seminarians and my MC traveled that evening to my hometown to practice the First Mass of Thanksgiving. It was customary to take the gentlemen of your rehearsal out to eat and so we had a traditional Barberton meal. B-town being the chicken dinner capital of the world, we grabbed chicken dinners and took them out to the Winery at Wolf Creek.

After visiting the parish to which I was assigned I found that my rooms were in need of furniture and the pastor sent me out shopping with the instructions, “Don’t spend too much money but don’t be cheap,” but who also refused to even give a ballpark number. Talk about nervousness.

The student & faculty cook out was the next day. The seminary has a number of courtyards owing to the rambling nature of the building. The Saint Mary courtyard (so named because it has a statue of Saint Mary in it) was the usual site for cookouts. One of the faculty usually manned the grills while the rest gabbed over refreshments or tossed a Frisbee or what have you.

The next day was graduation. All of our families came up for the event held in the south nave of the chapel. We donned our caps and gowns and marched in under the seminary banners. I was honored to give the commencement speech on behalf of the class. For weeks I did sweat about what would be said and finally it was do or die time. The speech was given and my first indication that it was all right came after the ceremony when one of the priests I particularly respected and who was not quick to give compliments shook my hand and said, “Well done.”

We probably should have all gone to bed at that point, but we were too wired and four of us stayed up late into the night playing cards until we could not see straight. That made Friday a terribly long day. It was the day before ordination and so there were many last minute things that needed attending. The drive to my hometown was a long one but the drive had to be taken to settle things at the church and halls and make sure family was taken care of. From there tracks were made to the cathedral for the ordination mass rehearsal. By the time that was finished it was quite late in the day and I returned to the seminary tired and famished from not having eaten all day. But don’t you know, a fellow seminarian knew of my plight and had wine, fruit, and cheeses sent up to my room. I am touched by that to this very day.

The next day was to be ordination itself. You might think that might cause a man to not be able to sleep and maybe that is true in cases. But at this point tiredness was like a heavy wet blanket that knocked me out completely until the alarm went off on ordination day.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Well, that is not an entirely true post title. As I do not currently have sound on my computer I'm not able to check out any videos this week.


With unbridled passion Jay proclaims that Catholic Carnival 177 is up and running!

Harry sent in this link to the St. Paul Today blog, a parish a hop skip and a jump from my new assignment. There is a nice article on Fr. Karg, the retiring pastor of St. Sebastian.

L. M. sent this link on called "Prayers for Priest." It is a site full of, well, prayers for priests. I could use a few at the moment. *ahem*

IMPORTANT READING: The Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter reports this: "WASHINGTON - U.S. Catholic bishops, convening June 12-14 in Orlando, Florida at their semi-annual spring meeting, by a vote of 191 to 1, passed a statement concerning embryonic stem cell research." Read here.

L. M. also sent this in from Astronomy Picture of the Day. It is a great picture of the Summer Solstice.

FINAL NOTE: Those of you who are coming to the third Adam's Ale get together, if you asked me to, I have ordered your tickets. The cost is $20 plus a $3 handling fee (not charged by me by the way.) If your plans should change, please let me know as soon as possible.


Ah! As I feared there were a couple of you who pointed out candle usage in the church that I had missed! So this week will then be the final one on candles – which turns out to be a good thing as all of my reference books are now boxed up from which I would start a new topic.

The advent wreath is an obvious one. But strictly speaking it does not belong in the church but in the refectory (or dining room) though it is common practice now. If you are interested in reading more about the advent wreath, here is an old post on it.

Then there are the candles used on St. Blaise Day (Thank you Ashley) for the blessing of throats. There are variations on the story of Saint Blaise, but basically it is thought that he miraculously saved a young boy from choking to death on a fish bone. Later, when this bishop and physician was imprisoned, the mother of the boy he saved snuck him food, candles, and writing utensils through the bars of his cell. After his martyrdom cures were granted through his intercession and thus did he become a saint. The candles, which are now used to bless people on his feast day, (left unlit for safety reasons) not only represent Christ, but this great, costly, and possibly risky act of charity.

The candles are crossed and most commonly placed on either side of the neck and the following prayer is said, “Though the intercession of Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr, may you be protected from every disease of the throat and from every other illness in the name of the Father and of Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ: (Is anyone terribly surprised that Rob got them all? I even checked my answers to his just to make sure!)

1. Mary Magdalene
2. Saint Stephen
3. Lamech in Genesis 4:17-24
4. Saint Stephen
5. Able
6. The Vulgate
7. “Let there be light.”
8. Abraham
9. Adam

Thursday, June 19, 2008


We have not had a quiz for a spell. How about this one of Biblical firsts? Answers tomorrow. Enjoy!

1. Who was the first person to see the resurrected Jesus?
2. Who was the first person to be martyred in the Bible?
3. Where is (or who is involved in) the first recorded case of polygamy in the Bible?
4. Who was the first person to pray to the ascended Christ?
5. Who was the first murdered person in the Bible?
6. What is the first definitive and officially promulgated Latin version of the Bible called?
7. What are the first words uttered by God in the Bible?
8. In Matthew the first person named in the genealogy of Jesus is who?
9. In the book of Luke, who is named as the first ancestor of Jesus?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


The ordination class 1998 of the diocese of Cleveland got together this week to celebrate 10 years, enjoy each others company, pray, learn, and have some fun. Actually, they are still there. I left early since I am moving in a couple of days and am anxious about getting my life together.

One day was devoted to prayer and reflection. Bishop Lennon provided his priests with the book, “Priests for a New Millennium”. Each of us took a chapter and gave a 50-minute reflection on it for the rest of the class. My chapter was, “Collaborators in Ministry: The Bishop and His Priests” by the Most Reverend Robert N. Lynch, bishop of St. Petersburg. What follows is an outtake from the presentation.

It would be nice if obedience were easy. It would be nice of each of us saw ourselves as loyal sons to worthy fathers. It would be easy if we were all philosophically, ecclesially, and theologically of a single mind. But we are not. Every time we get together with brother priests there is a debate about the bishop and whether or not we like him or not. In the end it does not matter one jot if we like him or not, he is our bishop and the fourth commandment is as equally binding on us in our relationship with our bishop as it is between true sons of paternal fathers. We are called to obedience. We promised it.

It is not blind obedience however but intelligent obedience. We are not brainless twits merely doing what is programmed in us from on high. God does not ask us to have that kind of slavish obedience to anybody on earth. There are limits to authority on earth. Not even the pope can declare that all priests must stick their finger in their eyes. But when a bishop, within his authority, asks us to do something, we have promised to do so. There are proper channels in which a man may make his objection known to a certain proposal, but to do so publicly can be disastrous. (Reader: If you become uncomfortable with any part of this reflection, re-read this paragraph first before making a comment.)

I’ve lived in rectorys where there priests even when they disagreed still respected the authority of the pastor and the house hummed. This is almost instantly read by the parish and whole parish enjoys the positive, holy energy. Unfortunately I’ve also lived in a parishes where one of the vicars not only disagrees with the pastor, but does so in a very public and derisive way. As a result, the rectory becomes divided, the staff becomes divided, and the congregation begins to take sides.

The same thing can happen with inappropriate dissention from a bishop. And when we model dissention on the diocesan level, we in turn show others how to divide the community at the parish level, perhaps recoiling on ourselves. To that end I propose this course of action for us. It is not easy, perhaps impossible at times, but an ideal toward which we should reach.

1. Never speak ill of your bishop. Now, we will have discussions and will disagree with him (or anybody for that matter), but we need not tear the man apart himself. That not only harms our pledge of obedience, it is just plain not Christian.

2. Be careful how you implement a directive from “down town.” Though at times it may be necessary to state that we must do a particular action because it has been mandated, we should not act as though we are hard put upon ourselves, but try to do what is asked of us in as positive manner as possible.

3. Intentionally pray for your bishop. If he is acting contrary to what you think is in the best interest of the diocese, pray for him. Maybe he will change. Or maybe you will.

4. Practice with the bishop how you want others to react to your directives.

5. Do not expect the bishop to be your father figure. If he is: Great! If not, we are not in this vocation to be coddled by the bishop. The Church at its core is not an institution, but there are definitely institutional aspects to it. Institutions do not love you. Do not expect it to.

6. Help each other. The bishop cannot do everything for you. Let us reach out to each other.

7. Give the benefit of the doubt to the bishop. There are things he cannot tell you just as there are things you are not free to tell people about situations in which you find yourself. "If they only knew," we think. It may be the bishop is in a similar pickle.

8. Pray that you will be a good priest as his representative to his people.

Idealistic? Perhaps. But it beats just being angry all of the time. And working toward unity, cooperation and collaberation will come closer to solving problems that constantly nagging toward division. It may make for an unsavory meal from time to time, but in the long run most of our problems will have been forgotten – nobody will care – and the only thing there will be to show for it is that we did not grow in Christian love as much as we could have.


While I'm away, C. had provided us with another well done guest blog.

I’ve got a couple of friends who are searching desperately for peace in life, so naturally I try to share with them where I find my peace. (OK, by “share” I mean “argue”.) Pope John Paul II said that some Christians, even today, die for the Faith, but that most Christians are asked to suffer a white martyrdom of being misunderstood. I discovered this week that my friends both misunderstand one of the most basic things about being a Catholic: it’s hard!

A few months ago when “Bob” and I were talking about finding joy in life, I revealed to him that, even though it brings me joy, I don’t WANT to do volunteer work. He looked at me slack jawed as if I were some kind of lunatic. Why would ANYONE do something they don’t WANT to do?

This week I pointed out to him that every year he believes something completely different and contradictory, as if he were constantly laying down tracks, then ripping them up. He proudly proclaimed that, yes, he does rip up his tracks, and that the trick is to keep trying different beliefs until you find one that make you “comfortable”. I of course responded, no, no, no! The only reason to believe anything is because it’s true! I told him I believe things I don’t want to believe and do things I don’t want to do because the truth demands it. Well, that struck him silent, and it suddenly dawned on me: he thinks I’ve been trying all this time to convince him of my OPINION. Yikes!

When I was talking to “Jen” over lunch last week I told her the same thing, that I don’t want to believe everything I believe, and she was incredulous too! Name one thing you don’t want to believe, she accused! How about that I have to obey all Ten Commandments? Or that there is a Hell? Or that I have to love my enemies? Or that I have to speak up against abortion, or contraception, or pornography? Do they think I enjoy confrontation?

I do things I don’t want to do for this simple reason: Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto Me. How can I neglect my neighbor when God has been so merciful to me? (I’ve got news for Bob. I don’t WANT to help him with his sad, distressing problems either.)

I believe things I don’t want to believe because those things are true. I have as much freedom to ignore the truth as I do to say I don’t believe in gravity and then walk off a cliff.

We Christians are running the race and fighting the good fight. Do people who want to win a race try to make themselves “comfortable”? Do soldiers go into battle for a good time? Obviously not. The medals go to the people who trained and sacrificed, who denied themselves and put themselves on the line.

Perhaps my friends thought because I always seem so happy, it means I am always comfortable. It’s one of the paradoxes of the Faith that you can walk around with a thousand daggers in your heart and still have a reason to smile. The greater the sacrifice, the greater the joy.

Doing what’s right usually requires courage. If you aren’t even sure what “good” is, then how can you do it, especially when you are afraid? That’s why I’m so grateful for my Faith. Unlike Bob, my “tracks” are permanent, I know where they came from, and I know where they lead. I know that my Faith will always point in the direction of what is good, true, and beautiful.

Catholicism is about Truth and Truth makes demands. Living the life of a Catholic is challenging, especially today, but life also becomes incomparably beautiful. I wouldn’t trade peace like this for anything else the world has to offer.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: "It is far better to endure patiently a smart which nobody fells but yourself than to commit a hasty action whose evil consequences will extend to all connected with you." from Bronte's "Jane Eyer"

QUOTE II - "Learn to say, "I'm sorry." You'll live better and die happier." Fr. S. Klasinski


I am away for a couple of days on a short retreat with my seminary classmates to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. I have the computer set up to post these in advance. I hope it all works out well! Please say a quick prayer for us.

A sign of the times:

Monday, June 16, 2008


Writing in my journal on 4 May 1998 with ordination bearing down on us I wrote that is was a bit like being on a long slide, “going fast and furious with nothing in sight to slow the ride down so best sit back and enjoy it.” There were quite a few events and meetings to go through. There was an afternoon tea with the faculty. Fr. M. came and gave a talk on the last day of our final retreat at which it was noted, “Though it was already quite hot out the boilers had yet to be turned off so the room was pretty steamy.”

But by far the most anticipated event was the meeting with the bishop to find out where it was each of us were to spend the next five years of our lives (and consequently have all of our stuff on one place for five years. Typically a seminary moves a number of times through the year. A process that one tires of quickly.) Oddly enough the grapevine had me assigned to St. Clare where I found myself on a later assignment. So sure it seemed at the time though that I had already ridden out to St. Clare to reconnoiter the parish.

We were invited down to the bishop’s residence. After a talk in his living room it was the fashion of the bishop then to shake each seminarian’s hand and hand him an envelope as he said, “Congratulations N., you are going to . . .” Now we were seminarians, deacons, soon to be priests and we were all about prayer and fatherly advice, but knowing that the next five years were contained in that secret white envelope with our names printed on the front on the coffee table before us made the protracted invocations and admonitions almost unbearable. Finally we stood and the bishop calls us each forward handing us our envelopes. Face to face with the bishop, he shakes my hand and smiles, “Congratulations, you are going to Saint Ambrose in Brunswick.”

Telling me that did not help me understand where it was I was going in the least. Where was Saint Ambrose? Where was Brunswick for that matter? So we went about the rest of the meeting that involved being introduced to our future pastors. While the other men were busily talking about their parishes I found myself wanting the meeting to be over so I could get a map out and take a ride to wherever it was I was going. Be that as it may people kept slapping me on the back and saying, “You have a great assignment!”

My cousins threw an assignment part for us. At the party was a young lady I had come to know and respect was leaving in August to become a Nashville Dominican. Since that time she has taken her final vows and is now known as Sister John Paul.

Such were some of the events that lead up to ordination.

Friday, June 13, 2008


This week's video comes by way of our correspondant in New York. I have packed away my headphones and speakers and so had to send this to C in order to know if it was worth posting. At her and K's recommendation I post it! After getting on the site, scroll down to the three videos at the bottom.

Here is Epic 120.


Jay proudly announces the birth of Catholic Carnival 176!
L.M. sent this in. If nothing else it is interesting. It is an "Incident Map" of Marian Apparitions.

Rev. Bosco Peters ask me to post his site. It does not seem to be strickly Catholic in nature. I find the header picture a bit disturbing but have not had the opportunity to look at the rest of it more thoroughly but share it with you none the less.

More easily recommended is Second Hand Smoke. C. and I seem to be getting ourselves more deeply into bioethic issues and this is a blog that catching many news items that don't make the main stream news sources.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


The last of the candles we will consider in this series are vigil candles. Traditionally when one has an intention that is carried in prayer a candle may be lit to “stand vigil” offering the prayer on behalf of the person. It is an expression of our prayerful vigilance and hope. It is usually lit before some image or placed in a sacred space with the hope of intercession but it does not necessarily need to be before an such an image or space. Vigil candles can just as easily burn in one’s window or some other suitable place. Sometimes the candle itself will have a message or image printed on its casing that acts as a reminder of who is being called upon for intercession. Candles may be of short or long duration lasting from a couple of hours to as long as a week.

It seems to be a natural instinct for man to create something to stand in his stead when he is unable to keep vigil himself. One might think of the Wailing Wall in which the devoted place prayers on small pieces of paper leaving them in the cracks between the rocks. In more modern times one need only think of roadside shrines where there has been a death and those who love them setting up a version of shrine that may have a cross, flowers, and in many cases plush animals. They all call out, “Here I prayed. Here stands my thoughts and hopes. Here I want my prayer remembered. Pray for me!”

If you would like candles blessed for home use of course you could always have a clergyman bless it for you, but it is not strictly necessary. Candles are traditionally blessed on Candlemas Day. This feast, on 2 February, marks the Presentation of the Lord. Before the mass candles are blessed and when properly marked there is a procession in which lit candles are held. In many parishes people bring candles to be blessed or candles are provided for use in the home as vigil and prayer candles.


A certain panic invades my bones as I near the end of a good book. I stretch out the time left together as long as possible and start searching the shelves for a new one to fill in once the inevitable happens.

Recently it seems more and more difficult to find a book that causes me to want to stay up late or carve out a precious few moments during the day to fit in the few extra pages. It is even more difficult to find such a book in the mainstream that is Catholic friendly or at least that which a priest with his collar on would not be embarrassed to read in public.

Well summertime readers, I think that here may be a treat for you. A while back I wrote you a review of a book by Mary Doria Russell called, “The Sparrow.” Now, let me be the first to assure you that I loath science fiction books almost as much as eating fish (and that's saying something), but that book was a winner, one of the few books that this reviewer has read more than once. Part of the fun is that the story begins just down the street from this parish in a town called University Heights. But the true thrust of the book dealt with questions of faith. The author places views not squarely in any camp so characters voice opinions that span the Catholic playing field and then some. It is done so well and even handedly that challenging thoughts are not in any way threatening while still being throught provoking.

Now Mary Doria Russell (a Clevelander by the way) has written a sequel entitled, “Children of God”. There are some adult themes and again perhaps some readers will find some challenging thoughts about the faith, but she has created a more than worthy follow up to her award winning first book. The theme as she puts it, “is about the aftermath of irreversible tragedy, about the many ways we try to make sense of tragedy.” She exposes our human frailty and dependence and the role that faith can play in this exciting story that makes you keep thinking long after you have set the pages down.

Intelligently written, well balanced, and thought provoking, it is on my list for summer reading. It is not strictly necessary to read the first book in order to read this one, but I highly, highly recommend that you do so.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


At the parish we have only two candle stands by the altar. They are original to and designed for the building and supposedly there are none others like it. There used to be six of them, but when they were pulled out of storage in more recent years and repaired for use once again at mass, only two could be found. Somehow, somewhere, someone sold, gave away, or took the other four. It is a shame.

Unfortunately this is not an unusual event. Many parishes “used to have” something that was put away during a time when a particular person or groups of persons did not see the value in them and years later, when other persons with renewed interest asks, “Didn’t we used to have one of those here?” those objects are mysteriously missing. Then you either do without or invest parish resources once again.

The parish patrimony is something that should be jealously and vigorously protected. It can take a parish 100 years to build up to something and one person to dissipate it in a week. The danger is that in the midst of ridding the parish of unwanted “old stuff”, one may be in the middle of a fad that may pass. And even if that is not the case, there are items that are archive worthy and will someday have historical significance to the grandchildren of the last generation.

Now, there is patrimony and then there is patrimony. Even I have bias and someday a person may look upon me as being careless with Church treasures. I do not think I would be inclined to hold on to burlap and felt banners. But then again, these are usually not items of deep craftsmanship, worthy materials, or of irreplaceable sentiment.

In a more difficult situation is the saving of significant pieces from the closing of church buildings. In the Diocese of Cleveland approximately four score churches will close or merge in the next couple of years. (The pictures accompanying this post are some from my hometown already closed or are closing.) Fortunately I believe that we are better equipped more recently to handle making sure that pieces which may have been an object of devotion or that have enhanced prayer do not end up as décor in bars and or coffee houses. Hopefully we have learned our lesson and will not let these things slip from our hands into profane use.

In the meantime we must do our best not to be so quick to look to the dumpster or yard sale to rid ourselves of that which the current ten minutes declares passé. It is one thing to have a church reflect current personalities and sensitivities; it is another to work hard at making sure that it never reflects anyone else’s; past or future.


C. is an ordinary person with a wonderful witness to the faith. She strives everyday to overcome the common fears we all face in wanting to follow Christ more unreservedly. Here is what she wrote about some of her journey thus far.
For most of my adult life I have felt like I’ve “buried my coins”. Not that I’ve been a bad person, but I know I haven’t used my gifts to their full potential. I’m trying to pick up the slack now, but sometimes I find that on the tail of every inspiration to do something good, there is that little voice of objection that says, “Why bother?”

“Why bother offering up sacrifices. Yours are too small to matter.”

“So what if unethical things are happening where you work? You can’t fight the system."

“Why pray? You’re not a priest/nun. You’re prayers aren’t important.”

There are dozens of ways to gently discourage yourself from doing anything good…ever. You can ponder just how bad the culture is and just throw your hands helplessly in the air. I can’t change the world, right?

You can distract yourself by indulging your own discouragement. Who doesn’t enjoy a good pity-party, blowing the sad little party favors of despair (*tweept*).

My most distracting thought of all is, if I do (insert blank) for God, it might lead me somewhere I don’t want to go, somewhere where there are relationships and responsibilities and commitments.

The only way I manage to do anything in life is by swatting these objections immediately away and dealing with things one day at a time. Didn’t Christ say there is trouble enough in today? I recall Mark Twain saying that worrying is like paying interest on a debt you may never owe. I try not to squander the courage God gives me by worrying about all the undesirable things I may have to do if I decide to follow Him wherever He leads.

So what if I’m not up to the task? Can any of us ever conclude that we’re “good” enough to do something great for God? Mother Theresa and St. Faustina argued (directly!) with Jesus that they were too weak, foolish, and sinful to do what He was asking of them. Jesus responded that their weakness was their only qualification, and that when they succeeded the world would know that it was God’s work and not theirs. If God still used them, why not the rest of us?

Maybe all of the objections buzzing around my head are true. Maybe I’m not smart enough, good enough, witting, charming, or brave enough to do anything important for God. I don’t care.

I’ve concluded that the perfect faith and confidence I’m waiting for isn’t coming, so I’ve stopped waiting. I’ll accept the possibility of humiliation and failure. (I hesitatingly recall another saying: “Maybe the whole purpose of your life is to serve as a warning to others!”) I’m not going to expect everything I do to be perfect because most successes are messy anyway.

I’m not going to wallow in my own discouragement. Maybe the world is just as big a mess as it appears. Well, God doesn’t ask the impossible, and He’s had mercy on us this long. Maybe my generation still has a chance to fix things. I don’t think anyone wants to say on their deathbed, “Well, at least I played it safe.” We should want to be heroes! We have to plow ahead with whatever God puts in our path and ignore our own objections. If you’re in a state of grace, then charge on; God will work around your warts. We have to pray, hope, and trust. Like Mother Teresa once said, “God wants to do great things with you. Don’t get in His way.”

Sunday, June 8, 2008


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: "But the criminal who runs and hides, who is unrepentant even though he knows what he's done, is a symptom of a much greater disease. . . There is no justice unless the judged agree. Without understanding and repentance there can only be revenge." from Walter Mosely's "Man in My Basement"

QUOTE II: "The problem with being middle class is that anybody who really cares will abandon you for someone who needs it more." Lisa Simpson


A while back some people were wondering where they might find some Gregorian chant music for the modern mass. advertises itself as "Traditional Music for the Contemporary Church." There are a lot of resources there and I have not searched through it thoroughly in order to review it for you so use your own judgement.

This picture was in the sacristy at Saint Augustin parish in Barberton when I was young and it always sparked my imagination. It was stumbled upon the other day and so it is shared with you.


Naturally during this time of transition from one assignment to the next tends to make one nostalgic. Aiding this train of thinking was the reading of Fr. E’s latest post concerning his thoughts at the beginning of his ministry as a newly ordained priest.

Much of any available free time today was spent in packing. I have learned to pull drawers all the way out in order to discover and stray items that might have fallen out over the years. Such a discovery was made moving in finding odds and ends from the priest who occupied the rooms previously.

One great find was a letter written to myself ten years ago to be opened on my tenth anniversary. It was a good thing to be moving for it had been completely forgotten and would have remained there unread for at least another year otherwise. It was fun reading what my younger self wanted me to remember and be encouraged by.

Which led to the digging out of a diary from the packing box that chronicled the days leading up to ordination. Reading through an entry was found about Noose Night. Noose Night was when a transitional deacon would invite underclassmen to his room and have a little party during which he gave away his neckties. I liked my ties and apparently the other gentlemen did too because the disappeared readily.

1998 was also the year the last time the Vatican sent a collection of artifacts to Cleveland. (If the event is anything like last time it will be ourtrageously mobbed.) There was a note about stopping in the gift shop. When I was in Africa I had made a friend who had also written to my mother. He was about to be ordained also and so my mother had me pick up a pyx as an ordination present for him.

Sometime in April, just weeks away from ordination, I had my first baptism. “Derek Matthew and Rebecca Ann. It went well,” I wrote, “except that I almost drowned Rebecca, but no one seemed to mind.”
It is funny how one forgets unless there is a journal or pictures to stimulate the memory. That is why I always encourage young persons, particularly seminarians to journal (and not on the Internet. Get a plain book and write!) Life is a whirlwind and there is so much to remember and there are many blessings which we should always hold on to in order to give proper thanks to God.

Friday, June 6, 2008


Indescribable! It's time for some music again on Sunday Video on Tap. The graphics alone are worth watching on this one. (4:03)


I could not resist posting this video too. I loved it. Remember Timmy: Be careful!

"Jeepers!" says Jay, "It's time for Catholic Carnival 175!"

Adoro sent along this site for interesting art.

C. said that reviews Catholic web sites' strengths and weaknesses. In her estimation they are pretty on the target and C. is usually pretty on mark herself.

N.B. Would those of you who are coming to the Adam's Ale Vatican event please send me an Email to confirm. I would like to make final plans before my life becomes even more of a whirlwind than it is.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


There are still more candles that we use. The processional candles are used at the head of the procession in honor guard fashion with the processional cross. They lead the Gospel procession during the Gospel Alleluia. They can also appear at other significant times such as at Stations of the Cross.

“Torches” are another time in which candles are used. Six servers enter the sanctuary and kneel around the altar from the Sanctus until the Our Father. These also play the double of role of symbolizing Christ as well as marking His presence among us in this significant way.

You may notice candles on the walls around your Church. These candles are placed on the places on the wall where the bishop has anointed and consecrated the building for sacred use. On those spots a plain cross is to be painted, sculpted, or hung, in front of which a candle may burn. The oil used to consecrate is called “Chrism” which derives its name from Christ. The candles then, once again, symbolize Christ as well as marking His presence.

In fact, all candles prescribed to use during Catholic Liturgies symbolize Christ with one exception. During Tenebrae there is a special “candelabra” of sorts which contains fifteen candles. Tradition says that only the upper most candle represents Christ while the other the eleven faithful disciples (the service takes place during Holy Week) and the three Maries. This service had been suppressed but it is finding a resurgence in many parishes.

You may see a few more candles about that have not been mentioned in this series. Some are simply not prescribed (but not necessarily banned) by the Church and there may actually be a few more that I have missed. (If you think of any, please let me know save for vigil candles which will round out this series next week.) But you will have marked that in each case they candles represent Christ. That is our symbolic language and unlike some of our symbolic language, these symbols are coded. This is why so many priests frown upon the unity candle. These candles do not represent Christ or His consuming of Himself on our behalf, but pretty lights that represent two people. The snuffing out as part of the ceremony comes terribly close to signifying death or the loss of Christ – or at least the loss of the idea of “a flame divided but undimmed.” It certainly is dimmed. Two people have just been obliterated. Then when the final candle is lit, it too does not represent Christ as does every single other candle in the sanctuary. It represents the new couple but to what end?

It is possible to make up all kinds of symbolism for this ceremony and decent symbolism at that, but it will always be in competition with what is happening liturgically. Of course, even after coming to an understanding of all of this there will be people who still want to add this to their wedding though occasionally some will move it to the reception where it is most fitting. In the end the Catholic Church will not be destroyed by the Unity Candle but we should have a very clear understanding of what it is we are doing when we do use it in order to avoid falling into the error that all of the candles used in Church are just pretty lights to do with as we wish.


When I was disassembling the first of the Mass kits mentioned yesterday I found a half of a host. It was buried underneath the lining so it could have been there for years without anybody noticing it. The question became immediately, “Is it consecrated?” How would one know? So used the option of dissolving the host in water and then putting it down a secrarium. But I’ve known some men over the years who have surprised me with their natural reverence for the Eucharist for whom this would not have been an option.

When I was in the seminary I was employed for the summer at St. Gregory the Great parish (just down the street from St. Clare) and was sent in with a few other gentlemen to the old convent to clean it out as it was going to be converted to other purposes. Cleaning one cell out with me was a young man, a true guy’s guy, who I did not know to be a strong Catholic, at least not yet. We waded in through a carpet of dust on the floor and began by pulling the bed away from the wall. The dust was twice as thick where the bed had been and there were a couple of items discovered abandoned there.

The first was a holy water bottle with, presumably, holy water in it. I still have this bottle (albeit with fresh holy water in it) in my kit in the car. Sticking my hand in the dust I also retrieved a host. I remember being a bit stunned and holding it up in the palm of my hand said, “It’s a host. Do you suppose it is consecrated?” Before anything else could be done or said, this young man snatched the host out of my hand and consumed it. I was amazed and speechless. Friends, under all normal circumstances this was truly a disgusting event, but to him, all he could see was the glory of God.

Later, after the initial shock had passed, I asked him if he had ever considered becoming a priest and he responded by saying that he had thought of it seriously, but nobody ever mentioned it to him leaving him feeling unworthy. And then became pretty serious about a young lady. It was from that point that I started mentioning priesthood to any young man who showed the slightest interest or potential. I wonder if that young man who should be in his 30s now has any idea how deeply in that single action he had effected a future priest’s reverence for the True Presence.

A second story of an act of conspicuous reverence for the Eucharist concerns a priest of this diocese. On hospital rounds he gave viaticum to a patient that was so far on the road home that her body ended up reflexively rejecting the Eucharist. This priest, far more brave of a man than I, without thinking (which was probably best) consumed the host so that in no way could it be defiled. I don’t know that I recommend that (in fact I don’t, there are other reverent and safe ways to handle the situation) but the love and devotion to the Eucharist he displayed that day was a striking declaration of his belief in transubstantiation: that the Eucharist truly is the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

It just goes to show that you never know who you may be inspiring and how your example and story may be spread without your knowing it.