Friday, November 28, 2008


The ear is as symbol of the betrayal of Christ. At Easter we will be reminded of this in the telling of telling of the story of how Peter took a sword and cut off the ear of one of the soldiers that came to arrest Jesus.

At St. Rose’s on Cleveland’s East side there was a giant eye painted in the ceiling. I think that it has since been painted over. Unfortunate. Anyway, it was painted around a light fixture so that the iris was actually a light bulb. They eye represents our omnipotent, omnipresent God Who sees and knows of all that we do. The eye surrounded by a triangle is used both to represent the Trinity and in some cases only God the Father. Surrounded by a circle with rays it suggests “the infinite holiness of the Triune God.” Saint Lucy is often seen holding platter with eyes on it. Sometimes in statues they look more like olives. This is in reference to the story that she tore out her eyes to dissuade a suitor that would not stop pressing his suit for her. Eyes are particularly important in Iconography as they become the windows to heaven.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008




Here is a great and timely Doonsebury comic.

Giving thanks does not come naturally to humans. It is something that is learned. It is a social grace. This morning I was sitting in my room thinking of some of the things that happened the last couple of days and thinking how many times I forgot to say thank you. Now I have time to think how much I or the parish have benefited by somebody’s generosity or the well executed accomplishment of their job and so I am at least able to offer a prayer for them.

This time of year it is important to remember to be thankful for that which we often take for granted. A gentleman going in for surgery called this morning and said that his daughter actually beat him into the operating room with her own unexpected problem. So today I call to mind how grateful I am for what health I have. Every time I get a cold I think about how appreciative I am going to be when I can breathe properly again. What an absolute blessing that is. Yet after I wake up and think, “Wow, I can breathe again!” I go back to taking it as just the state of things.

Not too long ago I had some house guests. We were having dinner. Due to health problems some of the menu had to be modified. Even at that, one of the guests still needed to be excused for a few moments to attend to some personal health concerns. Again, what a gift it is (and it is ALL gift) not to have to worry too much about such things. But even if I did, we were able to enjoy a great meal together and had the means for each to eat as their body demands.

I often wish in the midst of such a meal that everyone in the world could experience such an evening at least once. That is a form of thankfulness I suppose. And it is thankfulness that truly adds to the specialness of the experience: to be aware that it is all gift, to be cognizant of the fact that it need not be this way save for the grace of God, to know how rare, considering the rest of the world and history of man, our gathering at meals actually is. It is mind blowing.

That is not to say we should be dower in enjoying our opportunities to feast as we do at Thanksgiving. In fact, I think after remembering how thankful we should be we should make effort to pay attention and truly enjoy ever moment, taste, smell, sight, every contact with our brothers and sisters so as to not waste a moment of this overwhelming grace. Don’t squander a morsel of it! “Remember the poor starving children in (insert whatever you may have been told here” is a good saying. Not in order to force you to shove down your throat more food than you could care to eat, but to remember that this meal and the safety and warmth of the place in which you eat it is a rare bird in deed and to enjoy the experience down to the very marrow of it so as to express your understanding that you are so very blessed.

Monday, November 24, 2008


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: "Eventually there will be no more Eucharist. In heaven there will be no ten o'clock Mass. But there will be the Body of Christ. Therefore we should not defame either expression of the Body." Archbishop Niedermeier

QUOTE II - "Tomorrow you will be ordained a priest because God doesn't trust you to be a good layman." Unknown


Michael sent this link to a video on of Andrea Bocelli's, "Gloria A Te, Cristo Gesu". There are some great clips remembering John Paul II. Thanks Mike.

For those of you in the Diocese of Cleveland, our Enewsletter reports, "The Most Reverend Richard G. Lennon, Bishop, Diocese of Cleveland was recently a guest speaker at a gathering of the First Friday Forum of Lorain County. After his luncheon talk, the bishop answered questions from the audience pertaining to the parish clustering process. The following is a portion of that question and answer session relating to matters of parish finances and how the Diocese of Cleveland's clustering process compares to what has happened in other dioceses around the United States."

Foxie likes to draw. Over at her blog if you scroll down just a bit you'll find her sketch of Adam's Ale's header. Good work there!

Some old friends sent video in. Makes you think a bit around Thanksgiving time. Thanks for sending it in guys!

Wow. What a groove. Catholic Carnival 199 is up and awaiting your visit.

My cousin sent this in. See what was the #1 pop song on the day you were born. Mine was, "I Got You babe" by Sonny and Cher. LOL! Believe it or not I have that single! (For those of you who know what a single is.)

Well, thank you for all of your doggy advice most of which had me in stitches. The "Lab" experiment was wonderful in the evening but then again the house was empty. He is a remarkably behaved dog for a youngster. His favorite activity after running is sitting on my feet and being that I like to keep this house next to frigid when nobody else is here that is quite nice. I am still not sure it is a wise idea. I wish he had a day job and came here after 5:00. Here are a couple of pictures of him on his interview.

Can you resist this face?

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Hiring and firing fall even above paperwork as the least one of the least desirable jobs of the priesthood. But as with any vocation it has to be done. Yesterday I had an interview for a new position here at the parish. Today there will be a second interview. I am not at all sure that I even want this position filled. The benefits if everything worked out perfectly would be fantastic. But so much, Oh, so very much could go terribly wrong and then you are mostly stuck.

Interestingly enough for this interview I was legally allowed to ask such questions as age, sex, medical history, and all those lovely question that you are not allowed to ask in most interviews. The interview went mostly Okay and my first impression is that even though he is only almost two years of age he would be able to fulfill the responsibility of the job well if I decide that I want to bring him on board. Well, two years of age is not exactly right for in dog years he would be in his mid-teens.

Yes, “Roomy” is a dog. A black lab mix to be exact. For those of you who have been to the parish house before you know that it is really quite a large house. And with steam heat from the late 1920s it is also a noisy house. By and large I am used to it now though it still sets others nerves on end from time to time. My sister came over the other night to play Scrabble and every once in a while she would ask, “Did you hear that?” “Yes, that’s just the house.” Except for the time that it wasn’t. (There was just an unusual bang just now. Interesting. Gosh it would be nice to have a dog around.)

When I was a kid I had dog named Benny. He was the world’s best dog save that he liked to dig up my Mother’s rose bushes. If I was home alone and hear a noise and get nervous it would occur to me that the dog was not barking and any anxiety would vanish. That would sort of be “Roomy’s” job here: friendly guard dog. Maybe I would have to rename him “Inquisitor"

So he came to visit yesterday. He came when I called, sat when I said sit, and almost shook. He didn’t bark (although I am assured he does) and he didn’t knock anything over. All favorable signs. So he was granted a second interview.

Some of the coolest rectories on the face of the earth have had dogs. But it is a rare rectory that can make it work well. If nothing else I will have a fun day with a dog. I wish I could lease him from time to time. I quite honestly hope he breaks something tomorrow for that will instantly keep me from falling head over heels for him. That would solve everything.
Somebody wise out there talk me out of this.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


For the next few weeks we are going to head off in a new direction. The body of symbolism is really quite vast and here is the heads up on what we will be looking at. We will be looking at the corpus of symbolism involving the body starting with the part designed perfectly for hats: the head.

The head is the part of the body that often symbolizes the whole person. It is the chief member that governs the rest. Hence Christ is the Head of the Body: the Church. Just as the our heads sends messages throughout the body coordinating movement and giving direction, our life in God comes to us through Jesus Christ, our Head.

Did you ever see one of my favorite comedy movies (though you can only really watch once) Soap Dish? “You don’t understand. You won’t have a brain!” The funny part of this line (at least in context) is that obviously there is no life without the head. You could lose a hand but you would still live and be recognized as a human being, but lose your head (as some people I know are want to do) you cease to be – at least in this world. So what happens to the head can be rather significant.

A bow which is done periodically at the Mass (at the mention of the Trinity, at Jesus’ name, at Mary’s name, at the saint of the day, before receiving Communion, at the “Word became flesh and dwelt among us . . .) the head is lowered whether is a simple or profound bow. In essence we are bowing our person then to show respect to these august personages or in appreciation for theological wonders.

At baptism, Sacred Chrism is placed on the crown of the head and a person is consecrated priest, prophet, and king. Ashes are placed on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday. At various times the sign of the cross is traced on the forehead of person such as at confirmation. Baptism is conferred only when water covers over the top of one’s head (hence you simply pour water over the head of a person or completely soak them validly, but you could not, for instance, only poor water over a person’s feet or elbow and consider it valid.)

You might be able to recall a number of Biblical persons by the placement of their severed heads. The phrase, “I’m gonna have your head on a platter” comes from the story of the beheading of John the Baptist. A head on a platter of course refers to him and the person carrying it is most likely Salome. A head by the feet of a young handsome man brandishing a giant’s sword would of course be Goliath losing his head for David. (Further recognized by the stone imbedded in the forehead.) Judith is recognized by her holding the head of Holofernes whom she dispatched. Otherwise a head in the hand (is worth two in the bush) is a saint who may have been beheaded. So John the Baptist might be carrying his own head to show how he was martyred.


I’m probably more of a purest than is healthy for me. If I am going to eat something sweet I want sugar and not some chemical that tricks my taste buds into thinking that I am eating sugar. But I make concession out of necessity. When a new bell system was needed at my first assignment the highest quality fake bell system we could find was purchased. It consisted of a control panel, a lot of wires, and four speakers on the roof. There was no clacker hitting mettle anywhere. In fact, since it was solid state, the only striking that took place was the pastor hitting the roof when I gave him the bill.

But even fakery should some pride in its appearance. For the bells to make sense they had to appear as though they were coming from a place that could conceivable have bells. The expanse of the building let you believe (if you tried hard enough) that they could exists somewhere. Yet, the same bell system could be easily installed in a storefront church with the speakers on a flag pole on the front walk. But that would spoil the illusion like finding out the Wizard of Oz was just a befuddled old man hiding behind smoke and amplifiers. “Pay no attention that man behind the curtain. I am the great and powerful Wizard of Oz.” All of a sudden it’s, “So what.”

So last week our music director invited me to a church that is installing a new organ. We know that our beloved organ is heading toward tough times soon and so we thought just to keep an eye out for what other parishes are doing. Here we came to one of the most spectacular organs I have come across in a long time. It was still being installed and tuned but the man working on it was able to put it through its paces a bit for us. The pipe sound was phenomenal. You could hear the wind passing through the pipes. The beauty of a true pipe organ is the quality of the sound – the beginning and end of notes have certain characteristics due to the nature of air passing through the pipes. Electric reproductions often have harsh beginnings and ends of notes. When the chimes were played you could actually hear the mechanics of the bells being struck. But the amazing part of it is that it was a completely electronic organ. No matter how impressive, I have never been awed by “fake” organs but this instrument was a true beauty.

The problem for me was that the speakers for this instrument were in such as space as to leave no impression that there was a large instrument anywhere. The congregation sat almost directly in front of the speakers. It would almost be like having this instrument in your living room. There is no doubt as to the authenticity (or lack thereof) of the instrument.

Now, there are those who could care less about this I know. There are others who would argue that if we can contain the sound of a true pipe organ in a much smaller instrument, then it returns to being authentic. I may have bias because of my upbringing (neither good nor bad - just the way it was) and what I have been exposed to growing up. I came from Luddite family that did not (and in many ways still does not) appreciate the electronic over the mechanical.

That being said, we have as Church at least the goal of authenticity. That is why our documents proclaim the pipe organ as the first instrument of the Church and asks us not to use artificial flowers as far as possible no matter how real they may appear to be. So when there are discussions connected to our art and environment (including architecture) these questions must at least be raised and taken as seriously as possible.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008



When you think of Christmas reading you may think of, “The Night Before Christmas,” or some other fictional yarn, perhaps one concerning the plight of an unpopular antlered fauna who finds shame and then glory in his luminous nasal passages. Rarely does someone look forward to digging out the writings of popes to read once more under the glow of the lights of the Christmas tree. For much of Christmas we just want to be entertained. But we have a certain obligation to spend some time in reflection and prayer about this holy season. As John Paul II said, “The lights on the streets remind us of one aspect of this Feast, the most external, which although not negative in itself, nevertheless risks turning us away from the true spirit of Christmas.”

Well, thanks to the my friends at Paraclete Press who occasionally sends books to Adam’s Ale to review for you, this year you can add to your reading list that depth of meaning to this season by sharing time with the Holy Fathers in, “Christmas with the Holy Fathers” Compiled by Peter Celano and Thomas Howard. Now, if this at first does not sound appealing to you hold on! I was not too thrilled at first either. When they offered to send the book I mistakenly thought it was going to be writings of the Early Church Fathers. When it arrived in the mail I saw the picture of Pope Benedict on the cover and thought, “Oh, those fathers. Shucks.” Now, I love reading what the popes put out but usually find it work. John Paul II was a labor of love for me. I knew anything he wrote would benefit me to no end and was always glad that I read him. But I had to prepare myself for the task. There must be quiet, coffee, and plenty of time to sit and think, “Okay, what did I just read?”

Fortunately this book is compiled in such a way as to make digesting the words of the popes easy while preserving that which is thought provoking. We are given little snippets that are rarely longer than a page in length. But the flavor packed morsels are worth chewing on for awhile like this one from Pope Pius X in 1904:

“Therefore all we who are united to Christ, and as the Apostle says we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones, (see Ephesians 5:30), have issued from the womb of Mary like a body united to its head. Hence, though in a spiritual and mystical fashion, we are all children of Mary, and she is the Mother of us all. Mother, spiritually indeed, but truly Mother of the members of Christ, who are we.”

Also for those who are historians it is interesting to make note of the years from which each of the passages were chosen. World and Church events call forth the facet of Christ’s message most pertinent to the day and it is interesting to call each epoch to mind as you read the particular passage.

It is short book, about 120 pages and will provide you some focus as we enter into advent when most of the world is celebrating Christmas, and will stay with you during Christmas when the rest of the world is already gearing up for Valentine’s Day.

For more information on this book, look here for the Paraclete Press site.

Monday, November 17, 2008


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND - "We can all love mankind if we remember not to judge them by their leaders." G. K. Chesterton

QUOTE II - "My dear child," he said, "Lawyers have to be honest, or dishonest people would not come to them." Rineheart


Thanks to the person who sent this in! Though I love the Pirates of Penzance I don't see using this ditty at the Easter Vigil this hear.

My cousins gave me their back issues of Gilbert Magazine which I have just fallen in love with. In the June '08 issue there is an article about Cleveland's Jesuit run Saint Ignatius High School where it was reported that, "I would wager that next to Chesterton Academy, St. Ignatius has the finest High School theology department in the country - one that has been teaching Chesterton for years even when the allure of all the moderns has been all the rage in other parts of this old Jesuit school." They are directly responsible for the Chesterton Pez dispenser pictured here.

It is also reported that you can go here to hear Chesterton's poem, "Lepanto" set to music. Enjoy!

Does anybody know what became of the Cleveland area Chesterton Society that was attempting to get off of the ground? Is there one in Akron?

F. S. sent this game in called, "The Eyeballing Game." I told him that it drove me nuts and he reminded me that it really wasn't a far drive. I was enjoying it until I realized that the point was to have a low score.

Fr. O exiled at school sent this quiz in. It is harder than you might think! You job: tell which quotes are from Sacred Scripture and which are from Shakespeare pen. Good luck!

Excerpts from other Catholic blogs can be found at Catholic Carnival 198.


No day is a good that you almost asphyxiate some of your more active parishioners and burn the rectory down. No, not good at all.

I was having a meeting with the Couple to Couple Ministry and thought it would be nice to have it in the rec. room in the basement of the rectory. It has a fireplace in it. “How nice it would be,” thought I, “since this is going to be a long meeting with these nice volunteers to have it in this more comfortable room with a fire in the fireplace.” So I went out and bought one of those yuppie-prepackaged logs so that, not only would we have a nice fire, nobody would have to attend it. “Carefree ambiance.” A few minutes before the couples arrived I lit the fire and went upstairs to answer the door.

Funny thing about basement fireplaces; the chimneys are awfully long. Apparently, as I was informed after the fact, you need a pretty good fire going in a fireplace like this one in order to create enough of a draw to cause the smoke to go up. The phrase, “Better late than never,” does not apply here. As we began to gather the weather took a turn for the colder. A nice, crisp breeze began howling down the chimney. At first there was just a light haze in the room caused by the reverse flow of air in the fireplace; the kind of haze that you use to experience at parties before smoking in public became unpopular. The couples were so very polite and made little mention of it though after a while it became difficult to see all the way across the room.

Window were opened but I think it caused a cross draft which added to the problem by creating a cipher sucking more smoke into the room. I was trying my best to keep up appearances and praying that God would reverse the airflow in the chimney and suck all the smoke out of the room. But that hope soon went up in smoke itself.

Finally someone politely said, “Do your eyes sting?” With that we moved the whole kit and caboodle upstairs into a slightly more cramped, but much healthier room. Of course the basement still needed to be dealt with. So the men went down and covered the log until if finally went out. (If we wanted the fire to stay lit it would not have fought for life this strongly.)

Windows were opened and the house aired out as best as could be expected and a chimney sweep brought in just in case (though there have been a number of successful, larger fires down there.) This was a sure fire way to keep a meeting short. Luckily nobody was burning mad and they all have been polite enough not even to mention it for it was really quite bad (and I’m not blowing smoke at you.)

Friday, November 14, 2008


Here are the last two saints. They are actually under the category of Queen of All Saints but they are also in the choir loft, the last of the really big windows, and as you might imagine they deal quite extensively with music. The first is Saint Gregory the Great, a pope as we can see from his triple tiara and (difficult to see from this angle) papal crosier. He composed many important writings for the Church, in fact he is also called a doctor of the Church, and so we see him holding a book and quill with the Holy Spirit, his inspiration shining down upon him. Next to him is a music stand holding some notations in Gregorian chant. Gregorian chant is indeed named after this great saint though his exact connection to it is lost to historians. He is patron saint of music and is invoked against plagues. I can attest that no plague has broken out in the choir loft since this window’s installation in 1958. The second window is of St. Cecilia. She became a patron saint of music after Gregory though there is no understanding of exactly why. There may have been a miss understanding of a Latin phrase that stated that she played the organ at her own wedding, hence she is usually depicted playing the organ represented in this window by the tiny pipes in the lower left hand corner. In fact she may not have been very Vatican II friendly in some people’s estimation for it was said, “As the organ played she sang to God only in her heart.” Hence we see the angles singing with her in this window. Very progressive for a window in a church for 1958 this window also depicts angles playing drums, guitars, and a whole plethora of other instruments. Cecilia herself, mouth closed and singing to God in her heart, plays the harp and wears the martyr’s red. She is patroness of music and musicians.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


A priest friend of mine and I were having coffee yesterday and both of us sighed when it was mentioned that advent is just a few miles down the road. “Give me lent!” he said, “I’ll take it over advent any day.”

I will admit my love affair with advent and Christmas ended many, many years ago. I attribute this coldness between me and this season to my upbringing. My family was involved with the arts and so preparations for Christmas usually began around August. On my Mom’s side there were all kinds of concerts and performances to help others get into the Christmas spirit and my Dad was secretary of his lodge and so there was the Christmas party to prepare for. At church and school and places of employment every organization had Christmas parties which of course actually took place in advent. This, the market place frenzy that began with K-tel commercials that also began in August, and the fact that I had several friends who are Christmas freaks, completely turned me off to wanting to celebrate Christmas. By the time it actually arrived I was sick of it and looked more forward to putting it away in boxes than I had looked forward to getting it out.

These liturgical seasons need healing. We need healing. Santa at the mall does not work for anyone out of training pants. It takes time and you have to work at it.

Every once in a while something will catch me that will remind me once again the magic that advent and Christmas can have. There is something that will pull me out of the work of the season and into feeling the electricity in a dark, crisp, starry night that the best Christmas-out-too-soon decorations cannot capture.

“God With Us; Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas” is a wonderful tool for the healing of the sense of this holy and fully mysterious season. Greg Pennoyer and Gregory Wolfe have compiled a series of writing by six noted names in the Christian world. For every day of the advent and Christmas season one of these authors make comment on the day’s readings. These are not dry, ethereal, or analytical lessons, but engaging reflections. They are short, thought provoking doses of soothing medicine and inspiration that is accessible to busy, Christmas frantic persons. Each day is accompanied by a short prayer and gorgeous artwork. For each major feast day there is an explanation of the origin and nature of the feast.

When finished with my copy I had intended to pass the book along to one of my sisters but instead it will remain on my shelf as an excellent prayer and reflection resource. I am just sorry that I had to read it in one fell swoop for this review. But I do plan on engaging it again as we enter advent this year. Get this book especially if you have any reservations about the upcoming season or if you think that your focus might be off just a tad and share it with those who you think might be in the same boat. As stated in the preface, the healing of the season will not happen in one day, but something remarkable might happen when celebrating an entire season well.

For more information on this title from Paraclete Press please look here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


When writing petitions I always ask people to be very cautious about using the word, “that”. It can be a dangerous word. The most notable danger is that it may cause us to miss God granting what we ask for because we are looking in the wrong place. An example might be, “Lord, grant us peace that we will never face danger from that which is scary to us.” (A bit contrived, I know, but it will help with the point.) The “that” in this sentence creates a very small hoop through which we expect God to jump and only if He jumps through it do we think that our prayer is granted. But such might not be the case.

Last week I was talking with a friend who reminded me that God’s peace may not necessarily be what we think of peace. Peace in our lives may not mean that we are free from all antagonism. In fact, God promises us that if we are true to His name, if we act like true apostles, we should expect antagonism. Yet He also promises us peace: “I leave you peace, my peace I give you.” Is God promising too much or might He be promising something that we are not expecting?

Peace may not mean that we will find a place to live in which nothing happens or that there may be a narcotic for the soul so that it does not care about the tribulation surrounding it. It may rather mean (and I think that it does) that with Him we will find the power to face that which might otherwise cause us undue anxiety. He will “take the weak and make them strong.” The same problem may be there, but He will make you able to face it.
(This video may not be appropriate for all viewers.)

The more deeply we trust Him, the more deeply we believe in life after death, the more we love Him more than anything else, the more deeply we are lifted up in grace, then the more the dangers and perturbances of this world mean nothing. Why can one man defend Christ against a threat to his life and another crumble? Because one has peace. Perhaps they even both prayed for it. But one may have prayed for God’s peace, the other for peace that . . .”

God is often ironic. Let Him be wild. Let Him answer the prayer in His way. It’s usually far better than what we think we want anyway.

Monday, November 10, 2008


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: "One might say that our scientific worldview is closer to ancient Baal worship which held impersonal forces a supreme power in this world." from Scott Hahn's, "A Father Who Keeps His Promises"

QUOTE II - "It must be dreadful for you to have no one to love you and to take care of you! I think the rules of your Church are simply cruel! Just fancy! - no one to mend your shirts and socks and things - how ever do you manage?" - from Marie Corelli's "Holy Orders"


How capitol! Here's an invite from Jay to Catholic Carnival 197!

Undoubtedly you have heard that there are changes a comin' to the Mass with the revision of the new Missal. Actually it is an un-revision as they are attempting to recapture the actual wording of the Mass in English. If you want a quick look to see what may be coming, have gander at this from the USCCB. Here is some more information.

Saint Sebastian is beginning to podcast homilies. Actually the only one up is from a few weeks ago thus far - but look here if you are interested.

L.L. sent this cool site in! "Just type in the name of any song that was ever played, and see what happens. Then, following the end of the song, it will keep playing songs of the same era forever."

The Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter has this link to CNS concerning Pope Benedict's letter to President elect Obama.


More harm is brought into this world by people seeking to be offended than by offense actually being offered.”

Tis the truth.

The point is to try to break the cycle – or at least not be part of it.

An angry mom confronted me the other day. Her children came to play with the children who were in an after school program. The parents of the children in the afterschool program pay us to watch their children and there are all kinds of forms and agreements to which they (and we) must comply. Lots of sticky things occur on many different levels if the doors are also flung open for anybody else who just wants to be there. So there is a rule. Other kids are welcome, but they must have a parent there to watch them.

One mother who sent her kids over to play was outraged by this rule which she saw as an injustice and so I was called down to try to speak with her. Despite efforts at trying to speak with her we were rather yelled at. Loudly. Fortunately everyone kept their calm. It was clear that this woman felt offended and slighted and I am willing to lay odds that is exactly the version of the story that is passing through her circle of friends.

On the reverse we could have taken on the role of the offended party also. “How could she act like this? Why would she not listen? Why was she yelling? What a terrible person!” And this is the story that would circulate on “our side.” This is the way wars start. Instead there is a movement to have an intervention by a third party who might, in the long run, bring about an understanding between the parties.

The whole thing is really most deserving of sadness, not contempt. Frustration also plays a big role. What was desired was thought best for all parties, but the case was not even allowed to be made. The test of the true Christian is the next step . . .

Thursday, November 6, 2008


A mystery has been solved. Fr. Brunovski who is the pastor of St. Hilary parish (and who pointed out that I have been spelling Hilary with one too many “l”s, contacted Adam’s Ale to clarify some of the mysteries of the St. Hilary window reported here a few weeks back.

What was not reported in any of my books is that St. Hilary is patron saint of Unruly Children. This little nugget of information came from the ordo, a place I failed to look. That would explain the child in our window as well as a similar depiction in the St. Hilary window at St. Hillary’s down the road. They too have a snake in their window as well as a broken pedestal. “These symbolize St. Hilary’s overcoming of his pagan past,” I was informed. Thank you father!

Queen of All Saints

Our first window shows Saint Mary Magdalene at the foot of the Cross during the crucifixion as we can see the two thieves at either side of Jesus. She was a witness of both his death and of His resurrection. So to the left we see the skull, a remembrance of death, and to the right a phoenix, a symbol of the resurrection.

The reason the phoenix is a symbol of the resurrection is because ancient mythology said that the phoenix was a mystical bird that, when it grew old, would dive down into the flames of a fire, only to rise from it rejuvenated. Baptizing this mythology we can readily make the symbolic jump of Jesus’ death and rising to new life. As Mary was a witness to this we see her here watching the phoenix rising from the flames.

To the bottom left is the Gospel in which her life is recorded and to the right are the jars of oil with which she intended to anoint the body of Jesus.

Saint Monica was the mother of Saint Augustine, who was not such a saintly younger person. This should give even the most tried mother hope. She prayed ceaselessly for her wayward son. Here we see her lifting her prayers to Jesus represented by the letters IHS, a monogram for Jesus using the first three letters of His name in Greek: IHSUS. To the right we see the fruit of her prayers: a crosier which is a symbol of the office of bishop which her son, after his conversion, became and from this office became a saint.

Constant prayer even in the face of seemingly helpless odds takes much courage in strength. To the left of her we see from where her courage and strength came, the Eucharist and Holy Scripture.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Last night, on my day away from the parish, thanks to the generosity of some people from one of my previous assignments, I was able to attend an open rehearsal of the Cleveland Orchestra and chorus under the direction of Franz Welser-Most performing Mozart’s Mass in C minor. What an absolute treat that was. But the best part is the after rehearsal notes as the musicians go back over the piece to shore up certain sections.
One of the more interesting sections was the Miserere (have mercy). “Be brave!” he commanded the singers. “Sing! Think forte, but sing softly!” And it struck me that this advice is good for the average Catholic too (a faith shared with the maestro.) We are not called to wear sackcloth and ashes, beating our chests and flaunting our guilt for show. If you wronged your spouse, you would not go through the neighborhood heaping hot coals on your head and shouting what a louse you were. (Well, maybe somebody might.) Rather, if you want to salvage love, you go to the person and with forte in your heart, you softly and bravely mend the relationship with that person.
It is no different with God. This too is a relationship with a Person. Sin is a rejection of the right ordering of that relationship. If the relationship is still intact, the sign that the Holy Spirit is still working within you is that you feel strongly (forte!) that you want to mend it. It is an act of bravery to say that you are sorry. And so you speak softly; a nightly act of contrition, the Confiteor at the beginning of Mass, and from time to time the whispered prayers that are said in the confessional.
It makes the singing of the Miserere more beautiful to listen to and the heart more beautiful for God to enter. And in both cases we begin to see the beauty of God more clearly.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008



(Written before election results know.)

There is a theory out there that says if you have a million monkeys typing randomly on a million typewriters they will eventually produce the entire works of William Shakespeare in Church Latin with footnotes. I suppose it is possible that this is true but probably impossible to prove because of the difficulties in finding a million typewriters these days and no computer’s shelf life lasting long enough to put this theory to the test.

This is the same theory that is used to say that human life came about. Without any Divine plan (some would say) and through absolutely random occurrences life began and developed into what has become millions upon millions of people typing on millions of computers randomly hoping to reproduce something as spectacular as William Shakespeare’s writings. Good luck.

This blows our minds – the Shakespeare part - that such incredible order would be wrought out of such randomness. But of course it is not randomness. Not entirely. There is already the substructure of letters and a limited number of ways which they can be put together because of the mechanics of the typewriter. For this theory to really take off, we would have to say (and in essence we do) that left to itself, primordial ooze will eventually reproduce the Bard’s complete opus.

You know, I could almost buy this theory for the creation of humans if we only had the power to see, or if we only had the power to hear. But we have the power to see, to hear, to smell, to feel, and to taste. But that is not all. These also work in concert and we have cognitive abilities to put them together and come to conclusions based on the information. “I see a threatening sky, I hear thunder, I feel rain, I better seek shelter.” Have you ever thought about this? How absurdly incredible this is? I can’t even get my computer to talk to my printer. The sheer magnitude of the genius of the human person astounds me. The mathematical probabilities verge on the unimaginable that it is all a random fluke. (Although I am assured that we are dealing with almost infinite time and infinite situations which makes it possible for primordial ooze to create Elizabethan literature. At this point an infinite God seems a more sane possibility.)

But if a fluke, it is also sad. Existence is a fluke. What greater good is there to appreciate it? Why recycle that water bottle? To save life for the next generation? Why? It really would not matter if the next generation existed or not. Who cares? They can't. As soon as my body temperature drops a few degrees and there is six feet of organic matter piled on top of a box holding a once fluke of life, I will not rest assured that I did good for future generations. I won’t care. As a matter of fact, I won’t be able even to not care. And there will be no cognitive force to think, “Gee, isn’t that too bad?” It is not good to exist and evil not to. There just is existing and not existing. But statistically, with enough time, primordial ooze will congeal back and “I” will exist again given enough sub atomic particles are given enough typewriters.

Extreme rationalism can explain this whole un-mess including our desire for our God. “We invented God in order to be able to handle life.” Actually any explanation for our desire for God is permissible except for the easiest: That there is God – and if nothing else, He guided the million atoms on their typewriters.

In the end I accept the wager that there is God that gives meaning, direction, hope, and joy to us in this life, especially this month in which we remember the Poor Souls. Beauty must have meaning outside of me or it isn’t beauty. It is a card shark’s game in which we will all lose and it won’t matter.

Monday, November 3, 2008


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND - "There is something almost blasphemous about calling a book that lies unopened on a coffee table, "the Word of God." According to Scripture itself, God's Word is an active, dynamic force that never returns void but accomplished that for which it is sent (Is 55:11). The Word of God cleanses, heals, creates, judges, and saves, but it does not sit on coffee tables. A better formulation than saying The Bible is the Word of God, would be to say, The Bible becomes the Word of God in those who receive it." from Mark Allan Powell's, "What Is Narrative Criticism" (Thanks B)


How absolutely smashing, Jay sent a missive announcing Catholic Carnival 196.

F.S. sent this in for apple pickling weather. WARNING: ADDICTION LEVEL: MEDIUM. He also sent this site in chock full of Christmas recipes. Is it that time already?

F.S. has busy this week! (Thanks!) He also sent this in: "Danny Abramowicz, former NFL all-pro wide receiver and coach, along with his other team members, has created a television show with EWTN Global Catholic Network called, “Crossing the Goal” which uses a sports show format to encourage men to get into spiritual shape." You can find it here.
The Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter says, "Review a "General Election 2008 Candidate Survey" sponsored by The Cleveland Diocesan Social Action Office and The Sisters of Charity Health System"

Adoro sent this link to an order to check out.

I almost forgot about this test over at Servant and Steward. What does your taste in art say about you?

Kay says, "If you enjoyed the gorilla - take a look at some of these other videos." I think you know about which gorilla she is referring.




Be informed and vote!

Here is a repost of the Unites States Catholic Conference of Bishop's message to us about our role in faithful citizenship!

And here is an inspirational video to remind you how important it is to get out and vote! (I think you'll enjoy it.)


Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other.”
-Edmund Burke

The bishop came for Mass and dinner on Saturday. I was bound and determined to take it casually but excitement won out. It was fun having an important guest coming to the house and many people were working hard to make sure he was satisfied with his visit. I am so grateful that he assigned me here and as a result want him to be happy with his choice.

The visit went well but as with most situations, the most important moment are rarely the ones you expect. It is that moment you remember almost out of time. The kind you recall in flashes. An offhand remark, a touch, a sound that hits you and stays with you to teach you a lesson.

Such a moment came for me at the end of communion. The bishop and I were returning to the tabernacle to combine the Eucharist in a couple ciboria into one large ciborium. When we got there, I quickly tilted the contents of my small ciborium into the large one. Not disrespectfully, but with what I like to call graceful expediency. But the bishop carefully lifted the hosts in his vessel in his hand and gently laid them with the rest. It took maybe a couple of seconds more and was a moment to show great piety toward our Lord.

Now, I am not the type that thinks Jesus is harmed if we chew the Eucharist. That is not the point. The point is that the Eucharist is not a thing, but in a mysterious way a Person. And though we cannot hurt His Person by less than gentle handling, but we can become reckless in our devotion to Him like a lover who grows familiar with his heart’s desire and forgets to say I love you though he does. Or better still, if there is one nearby who is having difficulty believing or if their devotion has grown lax, our example might go a long way in assisting them back in love, in reverence, and in joy.