Wednesday, April 29, 2009


This is part of a series exploring what there is to see on the very boarders of Saint Sebastian Parish in Akron.

At this point we find ourselves having to traverse straight through the woods and hills of the Metroparks with no easy way just to swing around on any convenient roads. Here are two options: You might either turn left on Smith, turn left on Sand Run Road, and then pick up the boarder again by turning left on Thurmont.What I did was turn around until I returned to Portage Path, turn right, and then turn right again onto Sand Run Parkway. A good distance down the road you will hit this nifty little feature. This is the ford where Sand Run actually crosses over the street. I remember as a very young child going for a Sunday afternoon drive and coming upon this unusual sight and the street sign that proclaimed, "Ford impassable after heavy rain" and wondering what was wrong with Ford cars that they were singled out as being incapable of crossing over this little bit of water after a rain storm. I think I was in my 20s before I spent enough time thinking about this to pull me out of my childhood musings.

Well, the boarder picks up for a little spell along this road and the abruptly turns left and goes throught he woods again. Our only choice is to continue on until we get to the intersection of Sand Run Parkway and Sand Run Road. (Do you see how this might get confusing?) Turn left, and when you reach Thurmond turn left and then on the second road (here is where I THINK streets might have changes names, so I think it is dubbed Winslow Avenue) turn right and once again we are on the parish boarders, the parish being to your left.

Here we pass through a nice little nieghborhood until we hit Market Street. We should continue on White Pond but it is closed off to through traffic and so we must once again make something up. Turn left on Market and the right on Frank Blvd. This will take you back to White Pond. Turn left and we follow White Pond over the highway and past White Pond until this road dead ends. Turn left on Coply for a short jaunt and then emmideatly make a right on Collier. We follow Collier past farms and nursuries until it dead ends onto a road that may or may not be called Wadsworth Road anymore. (You may remember I said I was using an old map.) Regardless turn left. This road dead ends into a road that may or may not be called Wooster Road. Turn left again.

Eventually you will come over a hill and be given an interesting view of Downtown Akron. If you can spot the twin towers in the middle of the picure that is Saint Bernard, one of our neighbors. It is a beautiful church that was rumored to be closing but was saved from the axe. Don't stare too long though, you need to keep an eye out for Mallaston Ave and it is not well marked. Turn left, goa short distance and then turn left again on Euclid Avenue. This will twist up and hit Diagonal Road. Turn Right. We have just skirted around the Akron Zoo which is actually in Saint Berbard so is not pictured here.

On the corner of Diagonal and Copley we see the John Brown House. According to this web site, "The Akron home of abolitionist John Brown stands at Copley and Diagonal roads in West Akron. Brown moved here in 1844 and worked with Simon Perkins, Jr. in the wool trade. The Perkins' family mansion still stands across the street from Brown's home. The famous abolitionist moved on to win fame in Kansas and at Harper's Ferry. He is now recognized by a permanent exhibit showing his significance as a symbolic hero and martyr of the anti-slavery movement." (The Perkins mansion is half a street off of our project and so not shown here.)

As we cross over Copley we find ourselves back on Portage Path South and almost done with our tour. Coming up on our left is Coach House Theater which I believe is run by the Akron Women's city club. Here is the only site I could find for them which makes the promise that a new web site would be coming soon. I worked at this inimate little theater when I attended the University of Akron running the lightboard for a production of "Night Watch."

Finally we make it to the Akron Woman's City Club. Their website explains, "The Akron Woman's City Club was established in 1923 as a place where women could meet to discuss subjects of interest, hold seminars for education, promote charitable events, and serve as a social center and meeting place for women of Akron. Today it remains one of the oldest and largest clubs for women in America."

A hop, skip, and a jump further and we are back to the Indian, the starting point of our journey. So we turn left into the heart of our territory and back to Saint Sebastian.

Hope you enjoyed the tour.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


A few more paces down the road finds us before Stan Hywet Hall and gardens. The Hall was closed for the season and there was an ugly van parked by the main gates and so I was unable to snap a picture for you. But here is their website. I’ll let you read more about this magnificent structure there save for this tidbit, “The Manor House is one of the finest examples of Tudor Revival architecture in America. The Seiberlings chose architect Charles S. Schneider to design the home for $150,000. Schneider and the Seiberlings travelled to England and visited well-known homes including Ockwell’s Manor in Berkshire, Compton Wynyates in Warwickshire and Haddon Hall in Derbyshire, influencing the design of Stan Hywet.”

After passing the Hall you will start a descent into a valley. A sign welcomes you to Sand Run Metro Park. (This is also where the parish boundaries begin to become difficult to follow.) The website for the park reports in part, “The 992-acre Sand Run Metro Park opened in 1929, but the area has been welcoming visitors for centuries. The land surrounding Mingo Pavilion was a campsite for Mingo Indians. Portage Path was once an important Native American trail between the Cuyahoga and Tuscarawas rivers; later, it was the western boundary of the United States. A high ridge above the Wadsworth Area was a lookout point for General Elijah Wadsworth, who made his camp near the present-day Old Portage Area during the War of 1812.”

Not too far after passing Merriman Road Portage Path crosses over a river. The center of this river is the northern limits of Saint Sebastian. Perhaps someday with a canoe this route could be explored but for now I will stay safely in the car, back up and drive down the valley for along the southern bank of the river there are at least two sites of note.

The first is that of the Tow Path Trail. According to the site for this part of the trail it reports in part, “The Towpath Trail is a piece of history. This segment of the Towpath was originally constructed in Akron from 1825 to 1827 as part of the Ohio & Erie Canal. It served as the path that mules and horses walked to pull canal boats. The trail is on the flood plane between the Cuyahoga River and the Ohio Erie Canal. It now serves as a hiking/biking trail.

Also situated along this most northern part of the parish is Weathervane Community Playhouse which you can see from this picture is undergoing some renovations. Their site reports in part, “From 1935 until 1951, Weathervane was housed in a modest carriage house barn on Marshall Avenue in Akron. The 'barn,' as it was known, has long since been destroyed but there are still a few people who recall its cramped quarters and especially the energy and devotion of the four ladies, Grace Hower Crawford, Laurine Schwan, Helen Troesch and Muriel MacLachlan, who believed that Akron deserved the best in theater and that volunteers could make it all happen." From here we hit the corner of Merriman and Smith Roads. The parish boundaries now turn south and cut back through the woods. Thus the reason for the axe in the front seat of the car. But no venture was made into the woods this time so we will pick up (and most likely finish) tomorrow with the approximate ventures of the border patrol.


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: "Safety is the greatest risk of all because safety leaves no room for miracles and miracles are the only sure thing in life." from the movie, "Miracle at Santa Anna."

QUOTE II - "Sometimes we must give up the life we planned in order to live the life we have." Donna Shaw.


I have been inundated recently with questions about decrees of nullity within the Church so to help further clear up any misunderstandings out there here is a link to an old post on the topic.

The Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter asks, "Did you know, Worldwide Marriage Encounter is for couples who have good marriages and want to make them better? Discover ways to deepen your communication and spirituality on the weekend."

Michal Moreno writes in to say, "As you may know, Pope Benedict XVI is about to embark on a pilgrimage tour in Israel in a mission of peace and reconciliation. His Holiness defined his pilgrimage to the Holy Land as a visit to the birthplace of the Christian faith.
The Pontiff’s pilgrimage will take him to Jerusalem, Nazareth and Bethlehem, and will take place between May 11th and May 15th 2009.

"In order to provide catholics around the world with as much information as possible regarding the pope visit, the Israel Ministry of tourism has set up a website that will cover all the planned pilgrimage details, and supply news and updates on the pope visit to Israel in real-time."

He also pointed out this video on Youtube:

Talia left a comment on the AA post, "THE HAPPIEST DAY OF YOUR LIFE." She reported, "I had a lovely wedding with a beautiful groom who still loves me, and a gorgeous, memorable day that was funny and perfect at once. Everything was fairytale perfect (thanks to the lovely planner I got from and while we might not sell tabloids on our story, it's still a happy example. Love doesn't have to be serious or somber to be perfect."

I think we may have another Catholic Carnival on our hands. RAnn writes to say, "I am the author of This, That and the Other Thing. This is an invitation to you to participate in Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. This will be a weekly meme in which bloggers can highlight posts somehow relating to Catholicism and invite others to visit their blogs. For more information, check out this week's post."

Jenny sent in a couple of videos on "Playing for Change; Peace Through Music." This first one I tried to embed but came seem to do. Here is a link to it though. Here is the second:

Saturday, April 25, 2009


My very first assignment was with Fr. Bob Hilkert at Saint Ambrose in Brunswick. He was a grand gentleman and a kind pastor. My first year when he was introducing me he would say something along the lines of that it felt as though he were in an arranged marriage. One day the bishop called him up and said that he had a man he was to meet (I was weeks away from ordination) and that he would be living and working with me for the next five years.

This past week the roles in this scenario were reversed. I was the one receiving the phone call from the bishop informing me that I would be meeting a man about to be ordained and that he would be living and working with me for the next four years.

So last Wednesday a classmate of mine and I hopped into a car and headed to Cleveland. Though it was not supposed to be discussed we knew that each of us were getting a newly ordained. We were having dinner together and both of us were dodging conversations when I asked for us to be excused and made him come clean. “Are you getting a newly ordained too?!” It made for a much more relaxing trip to Cleveland having someone with whom you could speculate.

The pastors were to meet in the bishop’s residence. This alone was interesting as we did not even know who the other pastors were. They were all good men causing us to be happy for this ordination class – me especially since my cousin was also in the class. At this point we still did not know who was going where but as we strolled around the grand parlor information packets were set out two by two revealing the well kept secret.

Secrecy in this case is not necessarily a bad practice. Many things could happen between the unofficial announcement and the official announcement that can only be made by the bishop himself. Last minute changes may need to be made for worthy reasons and letting the cat out of the bag too early and having to then reorganize can cause lots of hurt feelings.

After a discussion with the rector of our seminary the class who was at the same time meeting with our bishop and discovering what their assignments would be, they came to join us with beaming smiles. The rest of the day was spent in meetings discussing everything from the mystical nature of the priesthood to handling laundry. (Does this not sound like the priesthood version of Pre-Cana? Maybe it should be called Pre-Pentecost.)

Probably the best line of the day came from the new pastor of Saint Albert the Great. “You pastors are not everything that your people need no matter how hard you try. The newly ordained are likewise not going to fulfill that role. But you’re all they’ve got! So buck up!”

We had a while to talk with our new soon to be parochial vicars and then went our separate ways. They had a seminary career to finish up and we parishes to which we needed to return. Now we wait for the doorbell to be rung by a man in a brand new Roman collar carrying boxes.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


The forest of the land of symbolism is filled with wonderful beasts. And not just lions, tigers, and bears. (Oh my!) You might be surprised to see many of them in Christian art. Some of them look like the strange monsters than teen age boys sometimes draw on the back of their notebooks during study hall. Take the basilisk or cockatrice for example. It is a fabulous beast that is half snake and half cock – a combination of figures found on your placemat at a Chinese restaurant. This “king of the snakes” is said to have the body of a snake and the head, feet, and wings of the cock and hatched from an egg laid on a dunghill. He is king because he has a crest on his head that looks like a crown. It is reported to be incredibly venomous, even its glance causing death to its victims.

This mythical beast was one time commonly understood to symbolize the Devil. According to George Furguson’s “Signs and Symbols in Christian Art” this is owing to the Douay version of Psalm 91:13, “. . . thou shall tread upon the adder and the basilisk and trample underfoot the lion and the dragon.”

In order to slay the basilisk (a handy thing to know if you should ever come across him) is to have it look into a mirror to reflect its own venom back onto it. The mirror is the Gospel. Of course, since its very glance can do a man in, it would require you to see it before it sees you! Reports on how good its hearing is and how easy it is to sneak up on it are not provided in any of my books so please exercise extreme caution.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Continuing down the road on our left you will see the aptly named Portage Country Club. According to the history page of its web site it reports in part, "Portage Country Club is one of a handful of clubs that is a hundred or more years old.

"The growth of the Club paralleled the rise of the rubber industry in Akron, and it became the place for the athletic and social activities of the city’s most prominent families. Today, Portage Country Club is recognized as one of the country’s elite private clubs, a tribute to the success and prosperity of the City of Akron and a memorial to those who contributed to its evolution.

"There were few golf courses in the world when golf was introduced to Akron in 1894 at the original site of the Portage Golf Club, a rural area then known as the “West Hill Residential District.” Charles C. Goodrich, son of company founder Dr. Benjamin F. Goodrich, and Charles G. Raymond, a young executive at BF Goodrich, persuaded Raymond's father-in-law, Colonel George T. Perkins, to allow them to lay out the golf course on their farm. C.C. Goodrich, C.G. Raymond and Bertram G. Work, friend and co-worker at Goodrich, were the founding members. They rented a structure known as the "Old John Brown House," once the home of the Harper's Ferry Abolitionist, and constructed a crude nine-hole golf course around it. The balls were handmade and the clubs, if not exactly primitive, were little more than tree limbs by today’s standards.

"Equally primitive were the locker room facilities, located on the second story of a nearby stable. Despite such handicaps, interest and membership in the Club grew until, on January 5, 1905, it incorporated under the name, “The Portage Country Club Company.” According to The Official Golf Guide For 1900 by Joseph Newman the nine-hole course was "fairly good though somewhat short." The Club became affiliated with the United States Golf Association in 1904.

"In 1905, with membership growing, the Club moved to its present location at the corner of Twin Oaks and Portage Path. Chicago architect Howard Shaw designed the clubhouse, and the formal opening was May 19, 1906. By 1917 sufficient acreage had been acquired to expand the course to 18 holes. William B. Langford, noted golf course architect was hired in 1918 and designed a new 18-hole golf course which made Portage Country Club one of the best and most complete clubs in the United States."

Next stop down the road is the gate house for Stan Hywet Hall (which we will report on when next we pick up this series.) According to Stan Hywet's Web site, "The two-story Tudor Revival Gate Lodge was designed by Stan Hywet's architect, Charles S. Schneider. Supporting the "lodge" intent of design, the roof is uniquely different from the rest of the buildings on the Estate. With rounding contours and flowing horizontal rifts, the American thatch wood shingle roof was intended to resemble the reed thatch roofs of 16th and 17th century rural England.By 1923, this small, three-bedroom house would become the home of their eldest son, Fred, his wife Henrietta, and their three children. It would eventually become the setting for a world-changing conversation."

"Henrietta Seiberling's involvement with the Oxford Group, a religious fellowship movement, confirmed her belief that ordinary people had the power to change their lives. On Mother's Day, 1935, through mutual friendships, she brought together Mr. Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, both admitted alcoholics. Their discussion, in the Gate Lodge at Stan Hywet, resulted in identifying the principles that were to become the cornerstone of Alcoholics Anonymous."

The home of Dr. Smith is a bit within the boarders of the parish and as such should not be shown in this series but I thought it so cool it is included anyway. The stone in front of the house reads, "The home of Dr. Bob and Anne Smith from 1915 to 1958. Co-Founder of Alcoholics Anonymous." I am told that at the annual convention every year of AA this house in this quiet part of Akron becomes quiet the tourist spot.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009


The Monday of Easter Week, the rectory being closed and having a little bit of time to get away, I decided to finally hop in my car and drive the parish boundaries. This is more easily said than done. The first mistake was grabbing a map from the history room in the basement of the house. Streets have closed and others been renamed since that map was drawn. Then there is the problem of the repetitive naming of streets in the area; Portage Path, White Pond, and Sand Run all stamped on road signposts for multiple streets. (Sand Run parkway, Sand Run Road . . .) The final problem was that parts of the parish boundaries run down the center of rivers and through wooded areas. But after a few false starts, success was had.

This short series will list some of the interesting things that are found on the boarder of the parish boundaries. There are some interesting interior spots also but that will have to be the subject of another set of posts. Below you see me and Sebastian (in the back window) getting ready for our big adventure. I hope you enjoy the ride. Here we go . . .

For any parishioners who might want to follow this trial someday we are beginning on the east side of the parish boundaries at the corner of Market Street and Portage Path (where Portage Path divides and becomes Portage Path North and Portage Path South) known as Highland Square. Much of the information that follows is from a site called Dear Rosemary that has a lot of interesting facts about this area. We turn right and head north on Portage Path. The parish boundaries stretch as far as the space between the double yellow line running down the middle of the road so we will only be looking to the left!

One of the first things you will see is this statue of an Native American that is reported to be a rather accurate depiction of the Native Americans that lived in this area. I guess it used to sit on the devil strip until National City Bank gave it a proper little park to sit in. For those of you who do not know what at devil strip is it is local lingo for a tree lawn. You will even see it on street signs, "No parking on Devil Strip."

There are a number of interesting things about this road called Portage Path. One of the interesting facts is written on the plaque below the statue. "A POINT ON THE PORTAGE PATH OR INDIAN TRAIL, until 1798 a part of the western boundary of the United States. Erected July 4 1905 by G. F. Krasch" Hard to believe that this city parish would have been the wild western wilderness beyond the United States border not all that terribly long ago!

Though not actually located next on our journey (it would be seen toward the end) I wanted to show you this Ohio Historical Marker that explains the history of Portage Path. It says, "PORTAGE PATH - You are standing on the famous portage carrying-place between the Cuyahoga and Tuscawarus rivers. The two streams and the portage across the watershed formed an early route between Lake Erie and the Ohio River. First the Indians and then French and English traders and trappers, then finally American settlers and travelers carried their canoes and packs across the narrow strip of land in passing, by way of the rivers, between northern and southern Ohio. The portage was part of the defined boundaries in the treaties with the Indians made at Fort McIntosh (1785), Fort Harmar (1789), and Greene Ville (1795). Use of the portage was discontinued in 1827 when the Ohio and Erie Canal was built along the old trail. Today, modern Akron streets - - Portage Path and Manchester Road - - follow the approximate route of the original portage."

To add to this story there is a tiny park with a 12' Indian on a horse made by local artist Don Drumm (not quite as authentic as the Indian above) within the parish bounderies that was once dubbed Watershed Park - not pictured because it is not on the boundary. The water north of this park makes its way to Lake Erie, on the south side down eventually to the Gulf of Mexico - unless city sewers have a say in the matter.

As you drive along Portage Path you will spy large arrow heads (about 2' high?) that mark the portage.


Monday, April 20, 2009


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: "[This] is the proper role of the apologist. It is not my role, nor am I able, to convince or convert any non-Catholic. My role is to present the truth accurately. It is the Holy Spirit's role to make the conversions, and he does a wonderful job . . ." Russel L. Ford in This Rock

QUOTE II: "We utter cries of horror when a mother in South Carolina drowns her two little boys. Had she aborted them shortly before their birth, society would have accepted this moral abomination as her right, and she would have remained a "respectable" citizen." Dr. Alice von Hildebrand in This Rock


Adoremus Bulletin provides this link to the Women for Faith and Family site. "Following are the classic Catholic mealtime prayers, said before and after meals. Along with the English translation, the Latin version is included here, as many Catholic families are discovering that teaching children these very short prayers in Latin is a good way to introduce them to the traditional universal language of the Catholic Church that is part of every Catholic's heritage." Many other prayers may be found also.

Are you interested in seeing a streaming video of Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine in France? The Catholic Universe Bulletin provided this link.

This Rock suggests checking out Fr. Longenecker's blog. He is a convert to the faith and a regular contributor to the magazine.

The Adoremus Bulletin reports (can you tell I am trying to catch up on my reading) that there is a new iTunes application that makes it possible to access the Breviary on your iPhone. It costs about $1.10 with all proceeds going to charity.

Steve sent this in about a new site for Catholics by Catholics: "Our FREE community has a Library, a Forum, Catholic Quizzes, Image Gallery, Classified , Ads, Polls and much much more. Start your very own Prayer Group and meet Catholics from around the world. There is no community like it on the Internet. Join the Catholic Expert Catholic Community today. "

The Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter want you to know about this Catholic News Service article that states that the general mood of Catholics about the faith is positive.

What is your knowledge of cars? Frank sent this quiz in for you to try. (I was moderately poor at it.)

P. C. sent this video on concerning Penn Jillette, outspoken atheist, speaking about being proselytized. Interesting.

Fr. D sent this in. It was T.V. last night. It may need to be previewed before showing to younger persons. The payoff is at the end.


One of the things that brought me closest to leaving the seminary was reports from priests. “Get to know Jesus now,” they warned, “ because you will not have time to after you become a priest.” Now, it is always a good idea to “get to know Jesus now” no matter when now is, but as for not having time once you are priest I have found is dependent on how determined you are to stay in touch with Him and (and this took me a couple of years) learning the power of the word, “No. I can’t possible do another thing and remain a stable human being for you.” As one priest put it, “There is not an incredible amount of institutional accountability in the priesthood. You are as busy or not as you choose to be.” Well, at least that is true within reason.

The comment that made me more nervous was a priest who said how he hates Sunday afternoon. “Everybody goes home to their families and we retreat into the rectory to be alone and lonely.”

Well, that glass half empty too did not hold water. Now I will grant you that it might be largely owing to the fact that I require much more solitude than perhaps the average Joe does. Every personality test that I’ve ever taken has told me (just in case I did not know it) that I live a lot in my head and I easily amuse myself. Simple minds: simple pleasures. But far from finding Sunday afternoon a disappointing and barren wasteland, I find it an island that I fight to keep from being filled up with more people to see and things to do. . . “You are as busy as you want to be . . .”

So it is the Easter Vigil. Promptly at 9:15 standing by the bonfire provided by the Boy Scouts we began, “My brothers and sisters . . .” For the next two hours we celebrated in the most grand fashion ending with the choir singing the Halleluiah Chorus. Then there was shaking hands and wishes of Happy Easter, the clean-up, and then the church was empty. The lights were off with just a glow from the sanctuary lamp and the votive candles. The scent of flowers and incense still lingered. And it was quiet. Quiet, quiet, quiet. A magical moment after the hubbub and activity of the past week.

Though tired I was still rather keyed up so Sebastian and I got ourselves a little refreshment, had a seat, and processed that which we had just experienced. Half of the enjoyment of experiencing something is having it within you to relive: the lighting of the fire, the church aglow from the people’ s candles as viewed from the sanctuary, the singing of the Exultet, the lights coming on and bells ringing at the Gloria, the looks on the faces of the newly baptized as they stood after having the water poured, the torches coming out for the consecration, the church singing the final song with full voice. It was this quiet time that I cherish – God and me going over the wonderful evening we had together. Unpacking a religious experience can be just as important as going through it. There is still so much to learn, enjoy, and grow from that was not gleaned the first time.

Mystical is the time spent at the Mass, magical is the quiet time of reflection afterwards.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I know it’s Easter Week but there seems to be a rash of fathers of priests dying of late so funeral symbolism seems to be on my mind. I remember when I was young the rites were explained a bit more in depth in the ceremony but now are a little bit more subtle.

The body is met at the entrance to the church and casket is sprinkled with holy water. This is a reference to the person’s baptism. The end of the prayer at the blessing of the water at baptism reads, “May all those who are buried with Christ in the death of baptism rise also with Him to newness of life.” The “fullness of the symbol” if you will takes place when the person being baptized is completely submerged. This is likened to being buried with Jesus in the tomb, we dying to death as it were. When we come out of the water then as new creatures in Christ we resurrect with Him to newness of life. During the opening rites of a funeral then when the casket is sprinkled these words are said, “In baptism N. died with Christ, may s/he also share with Him eternal life.”

The next thing that takes place that is currently devoid (and rightly so) of any commentary is placing of the pall which is a large white cloth that covers the entire casket. It is often somewhat ornamented or has on it some Christian symbol. After a person is baptized they are often dressed in a white robe and this prayer or one similar is said, “N., you have become a new creation and have clothed yourself in Christ. Receive this baptismal garment and bring it unstained to the judgment seat of our Lord Jesus Christ, so that you may have everlasting life.” The pall then is a reflection of that first white garment and a sign of the person’s dignity as a son or daughter of God.

The casket is then carried into the church. This is not done arbitrarily. A lay person will be brought in feet first, a priest however will have his head nearest the altar. I’m not certain why but I have my hunches. I would imagine it is feet first for those who stood before the altar for all his life and for a priest it represents his standing before the congregation leading them in the worship of God. That’s my guess anyway. If anybody KNOWS why I’d appreciate knowing as I’ve not found anything.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


To move out of our bubble and find what other people around the world are learning can be quite fun and challenging. Despite what your child’s elementary science book might tell you, there is not universal agreement on how many continents there are or how many oceans there are. (So how exactly do you know where one ocean starts and the other begins? How can Europe be its own continent?) Other thoughts are not so shocking. We understand better that not everyone is in agreement as to the measurement of things (that is why we need two sets of tools) nor what year it is. And some places drive on the wrong side of the road.

Other things seem rather universal. Math is math. Smiles are smiles. Green is ground the world around (I wonder of that is true.)

Time us is tricky. It only really works on earth. What is a 24 hour day to Mercury or any other planet? Science has noticed variances in time between high and low altitudes. And when you think of time warping or holes in time, you might be thinking Star Trek or advanced experimental science. But Catholics and our ancestors in faith the Jewish people have been observing, believing, and practicing alternative time for thousands of years. Like being citizens of heaven but living as citizens of the United States we can be in a pew and look at our watch and understand that the world recognizes it is 10:45AM on Sunday, April 19, 2005 but we are experiencing being connected to a world of perhaps 2,000 plus years ago.

The most obvious place for us is at the Mass. When we celebrate the Eucharist we are not reproducing Christ’s sacrifice, He is not being sacrificed again, a symbolic play is not being produced. It is as if a curtain in time has opened up and we are present at Christ’s original sacrifice. That is why it is always Christ Who ultimate performs every sacrament, why it is Jesus Who is our only true high priest all other priests merely participating in His priesthood, that is why it is said that the Mass is as close to heaven as we can come on earth. At that moment we are above conventional time as God is out of or above time and why Jesus can be present to us at any place and at any time.

Have you ever wondered why the resurrected Jesus did not want Mary Magdalene to cling to Him? It was because she was clinging to the Jesus of the past, concretized in history in both time and location. But He was passing beyond this, beyond the time and place of this world where He would be available to all people, all places, all times. He was going to His Father where the only time is the eternal Now. We come in contact with that in the sacraments.

Times of year and season also transport us though not quite so dramatically. We sense that there are certain times of year when we are closer to events of our history and salvation than others. At Christmas we feel closer to the Child Jesus while this past Lent we grew through the uniting of ourselves to His Passion. During the Triduum in particular even our concept of the beginning and ending of days runs differently than that of our insurance companies that would say that your coverage would be cancelled at midnight of such a date (which would mark the end of the day) if you do not pay your premium. This is why we had to wait for sun down (9:15 in these parts!) before celebrating the Easter Vigil.

Right now at this very moment we are in Easter Week. It is an octave of days celebrating the Resurrection of Our Lord. It is not simply to be celebrated in our churches but within and around you also. It may also be the day after tax day but it is also a resurrection day in a particular way more than any another Thursday of the year. Find a way to plug into that. Say a prayer, think of Christ resurrected, stop by a Church, wish someone a Happy Easter, celebrate, rejoice, and be glad. The time of your salvation is at hand!


Just in TIME for Easter CK, a regular contributor to AA, sent this guest blog in so that I could have this day away. Thank you CK - and well said!

Just about every close friend I’ve ever had has eventually said to me that they thought they were born at the wrong time. If only they had lived in a different era, they would be happy. We live in a time unprecedented in prosperity, scientific advancement, entertainment, communication, transportation, and care for disease and yet we are one of the most unhappy generations of humans that the world has ever known. More people than ever are suffering from depression and record numbers of people are trying to escape this life through suicide. We have so many things that happier generations could only dream of. What is it that makes our time in history, a time that should be utopia, so unbearable.

Recently my car’s GPS system (my most beloved modern convenience) took me through a very bad neighborhood to get me to my destination. I was relatively safe because it was still daylight, and at every traffic light I took the time to study the stores and houses and apartments. Most buildings were just boring cubes of brick with barred windows, but I was surprised to find some beautiful, stately architecture despite the shattered windows and boarded up doorways. Saddest of all were the stunning churches, their steeples piercing a lovely blue sky, abandoned and neglected in the surrounding chaos. I thought to myself how tragic that this priceless piece of sacred art stands scarred and useless where no one wishes to linger too long. Why? It is not the trees, or the streets, or the blue sky that have ruined this church’s vocation. It is theft, and obscenity, and violence, and sloth, and intemperance that surround this church and make it unapproachable - in a word, sin.

My friends and I were not born at the wrong time. We rise to the same sun, breath the same air, and tread the same earth as our predecessors. But every one of us is like a church in a bad neighborhood. We can’t find lasting love, and we feel so anxious and unsafe, and we don’t feel like we belong anywhere. It’s not the times that are wrong – WE are wrong. It is sin that makes this “the wrong time”.

If we all obeyed God’s laws of chastity no one would feel used or be abandoned and we would find true love. If we respected that life of the unborn, perhaps we would respect the lives of the born and not always be on the edge of war. If we sought first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, we wouldn’t put our trust in kings and princes, or money, or drugs, or any other false gods. We would point our hearts toward our true heavenly home and not this life and its passing anxieties. We would realize that the reason we feel like a fish out of water is because this world is not our true home.

It is we who form the times, and it is we who can transform them. Our dark times mean that every faithful Christian is a beacon that makes so many heads turn to see where they can find the light they so crave. We can do nothing, but God can do everything, and He can change the world with one person who cooperates with His grace. His will for you today is right where you are with the people you meet today. You were not born at the wrong time - this is the time He chose for you before the beginning of the world. God has to scrape the bottom of the barrel today to find the few who are willing to conform themselves to His will. That means that we who are weak, afraid, and inadequate were born for greatness. If we cancel out our own wills and embrace God’s, perhaps at the end of our lives we will find that we were noble soldiers in a great spiritual battle. Perhaps we can make the times “right” not only for ourselves, but for the generation to come.

Monday, April 13, 2009


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND - "If we do not think love involves suffering we have not spent much time looking at the Cross." Christopher West

QUOTE II - ". . .genius may have its limits, but stupidity is not thus handicapped." from Mary Doria Russell's, "The Sparrow"


The Mailbox was a bit light this week. The Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter has provided this link to our bishop giving his Easter homily.

Here's a note about World "Worldpriest, a group of committed Catholic communications lay people, will launch their latest initiative to promote the Priesthood—a Catholic Identity Card—on Easter Sunday, 12th April 2009.

Based in both the United States and Ireland Worldpriest is made up of a group of communications professionals who love and cherish the Priesthood of Jesus Christ and employ their skills to promote the Priesthood."

The Catholic Identity Card concept was devised by Marion Mulhall, President of Worldpriest Inc to allow people the opportunity to confirm their identity as Catholics and acknowledge the integral role of Priests in the Church and in their lives. “Our wallets are filled with plastic cards proclaiming we shop at this store, deal with this bank or are a member of that gym,” Mulhall explains. “In this context, we feel it is surely the right time, in a gentle personal fashion, to make a statement proclaiming that we are Catholic by carrying a Catholic Identity Card”.

CatholiCity provides this link for cool Catholic sites. "We have carefully screened thousands of Catholic links for faithfulness to Catholic teaching, focusing on sites providing a national service or unique information. Despite our best efforts to screen and regularly review our links, it's obviously not possible for us to be responsible for the contents or changes in content or questionable links on other websites. Contents on websites linked here do not necessarily represent the views of or its workers. Use your best judgment and be careful out there. May Our Lord guide your search."

And just because it caught my fancy:



Happy Easter Week! It's Guest Blogger Day! Below is one of my Easter presents from a fellow priest named Fr. O – no, not that Fr. O, another Fr. O in Rome. The day after Rome felt that earthquake he jotted of this note to let us know that all was Okay. I (and this is for Fr. O’s benefit) Rolled On Floor Laughing reading it. I asked if I could post this on Monday Diary to have a day off and he gave the thumbs up. Enjoy.

Dear family and friends,

Some of you may have heard about a 6.3 magnitude earthquake that hit about 70 miles outside of Rome last night. I just wanted to let everybody know that everything is fine here in Rome. The quake apparently killed about 14 people at its epicenter in L'aquila, but here in Rome we basically just felt some rolling tremors for about a minute. It kind of scared the (poop) out of me at the time.

It woke me up out of a sound sleep at 3:30 a.m., so I was pretty disoriented. The first thing I noticed was that my bed was shaking, and my mind immediately jumped to St. John Vianney, who was sometimes accosted by demons while in his bed. My heart started racing, and I jumped out of bed, only to realize that my floor was shaking also, as well as the scaffolding outside my window. I was actually relieved to find out that it was an earthquake and not a demonic attack! I stood there for several seconds, trying to decide what my next move would be. I probably should have run outside, but I wasn't thinking too clearly, and the tremors were not getting any worse. Nothing broke or fell over; just a bit of rolling motion for about a minute or so. Enough excitement for one night.

My other piece of excitement yesterday was that I got to distribute Communion for the Pope's Palm Sunday Mass at St. Peter's. It was a gorgeous day, with St. Peter's Square jam packed with people.

Hope you all have a blessed Holy Week!

And this came during the Triduum.

I did something last night that you would have loved. We had the Mass of the Lord's Supper here at the Casa at 6 p.m., followed by a light supper. Then I went out with a group of guys to visit the altars of reposition at a bunch of churches in the area. I think we went to about 9 different churches. There were pilgrims all over the city, and small groups of people in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament at every church we went into. It felt sort of like "trick or treating," except you get holiness instead of candy.

Happy Triduum