“I am afraid to listen to God because I’m afraid of what He might ask me to do.”
A common enough sentiment. Of course what those who say this are afraid of is not what God is calling them to but change. As you know about the only people who like change are wet babies and even they cry about it. But think about it; what could God possibly call you to? If God is GOD and it is He that is truly calling you to something what are the only possible characteristics of that to which He is calling you? If it truly is of God it is only possible that it would be that which is: Holy Honorable Loving Good Noble Honest and Virtuous
If it is anything else it is not of God.
And if it is of God it can only, ultimately, bring you joy. You may have to pass through the fire first, but ultimately joy.
Are you afraid of holiness? Are you afraid of loving? Are you afraid of Honor? Goodness? Nobility? Virtuosity?
Are you afraid of joy?
If you are afraid you are not afraid of these. You could not possibly be. You are afraid of leaving the known for the unknown. Satiation has killed many a sainthood. Has crushed joy. Has spoiled virtue. Has left too many people dissatisfied at best; ruined at worse.
“Be not afraid,” John Paul II told us. If it what God is calling you to then you have nothing to be afraid of except not accepting the call to change – not accepting joy.
FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “But Pope Benedict recalls that the Council itself says nothing of the direction of prayer or congregational creativity, and sates that Latin is to be conserved while vernacular may be given wider scope. In fact, he writes, if Mass were said adorientem (the priest and the people both facing liturgical east), in Latin with some vernacular, using Gregorian chant, it would take a liturgical scholar of significant sophistication to even notice that the current Missal of Paul VI were being used at all.” from Dennis McNamara’s book Catholic Church and the Spirit of the Liturgy as reported in Adoremus Bulletin
QUOTE II: “There are some questions that can’t be answered at eleven at night in a restaurant in Seville by candlelight.” from Arturo Perez-Reverte’s “The Seville Communion”
IN OTHER NEWS: From my cousin: After plugging in my name here was the result. I feel special - though I hope the number is too much less than 2!:
Frank sent this link to a video about an egg trick on the Johnny Carson show. If you need a laugh it is about 4.5 minutes.
Cathy sent in this video from Stuebenville - she thought she recognized the nuns with whom we played frisbee this past summer. (1 minute.)
Russell sent this 30 second video in. I do admit I like the cheese too.
This was sent in from Michelle at EWTN: "Irondale, AL (EWTN) – EWTN’s long-running news show, “The World Over Live with Raymond Arroyo” was named the winner of CableFAX Magazine’s 2009 award for “Best Religious Program.” Host Raymond Arroyo accepted the award during a Sept. 16 ceremony in New York City.
"Here’s what CableFax had to say about the show:
'Since its 1996 debut, “The World Over Live” has become one of EWTN’s most popular shows. News Anchor Raymond Arroyo has interviewed everyone from former President George W. Bush to the Pope (before he was Pope...way to predict that one) to Mel Gibson to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. In all instances, his probing questions always remain relevant to the Catholic concerns of EWTN’s dedicated audience. The show, which emanates appropriately enough from the John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C., features news, interviews, a call-in segment and interaction with a studio audience. Meanwhile, Arroyo has become a staple on mainstream cable news nets like CNN and Fox News. Bravo to EWTN for winning "the world over.'
"Learn more about the award at the following links: http://bit.ly/VLFOx and http://bit.ly/c5zc7."
Pat sent this in: If you would like a trappist's coffin to stay in until the resurrection of the bodyhere is the site for you!
So about half a year ago I got a dog because I thought I would be living alone. Then I got a parochial vicar. Now it turns out that a third priest will be living here at Saint Sebastian. Full house.
I remember Fr. Hilkert my first pastor as a priest saying how much the priesthood could be like an arranged marriage. One day you are living alone and the next you get a phone call and are told there will be someone living, working, and eating with you. Clear out the junk you have in the spare room!
The priest who be joining us is a retired priest and the young parochial vicar and I sat down and talked about having another priest living with us. He is all gun ho about it. His attitude is that he is a priest in need and we should welcome him with no questions asked. That is a great attitude. My fears are really quite small. I hope that he doesn’t like to talk during movies or cook fish. Having an elder voice and presence in the house is important and we as priests should be setting an example of taking care of family when we can – and we can.
The parish from which our priest is coming is closing – in fact it closed yesterday so that sorrow will be raw. We went to go visit him last week. The parish is a not so good part of town (understatement) and attendance has dropped off considerably. In fact, the pastor, in order to keep things going, had stopped taking a salary and filled the position of pastor, janitor, business manager, cook, and – well – every position there was except secretary. And the place was immaculate. Even the boiler room was clean, painted, and had pictures hanging in it. If it were not for the machinery taking up so much space no one could complain about eating in there.
The outside of the buildings are tired and there are marks of vandalism but he takes pride that he was able to hold hearth and home together for so long. “It is time to go,” he said but it will be hard. I hope that he finds a happy home at Saint Sebastian.
You were brilliant last week and I hoped to employ your assistance once again. I want to teach my “Saint, Signs, and Symbols” class but part of the class is a tour of whatever parish I happen to be in pointing out and explaining all of the symbolism contained therein. Before I teach the class at Saint Sebastian I want to catalogue all the symbolism here and it is taking a long time since I can only do it in my spare time.
There are a number of resources here put together by various people. One of the best was by a former parochial vicar, Fr. Robert Jackson. It has been invaluable in project. There are some pieces however that are not mentioned in any of the resources such as they windows presented to you last week and although mostly an excellent job, there are a couple I strongly disagree with. Such is the case with the window presented today.
It is one of the windows in connection with the Saint Anne Shrine. Here there is a statue of Saint Anne teaching the young Virgin Mary about God. The description of the window in the parish directory reads thusly: “The left window recalls that Mary is the pure one (lily), full of grace (doves), chosen by God and now Queen (crown).
I’d like to hear your opinion (yea or nay) and if nay your alternate explanation of the symbol. I will publish mine either Tuesday or Friday. (I don’t want to influence your interpretation with what I think I see.)
In a time of dwindling numbers of religious, it is a good thing to take a good hard look at what works at attracting and retaining new religious. The Center of Applied Research in the Apostolate, a Georgetown University based research center on behalf of the National Religious Vocation Conference surveyed 4,000 men and women who are either newly professed or in formation to find what works well and that which does not seem to be attracting and retaining new members. The results were published on the August 27, 2009 edition of Origins.
Interestingly enough there is a huge generational gap in vocations. Older candidates and younger candidates are looking and experiencing very different things. Younger candidates do not find much support from family or peers though they do report support from diocesan priests. Older candidates report more support but little from diocesan priests. Younger candidates received much of their information from the electronic world: CDs, DVDs, videos, and websites while older candidates did not.
Of high importance is the example of other members of the congregation. On a personal note, those that I have known that leave religious life, and there have been a number, have been due to negativity on the part of members of the congregation they desired to join. Of course the opposite is also true. The survey reports that by far this is the critical factor in at retaining members.
Other “best practices” for success include instilling a “culture of vocations” along with a full time vacations director, employment of new media, and offering opportunities to meet the community. But as far as getting potential candidates in the door in the first place the most successful institutions have been, “those that follow a more traditional style of religious life in which members live together in community and participate in daily Eucharist, pray the Divine Office and engage in devotional practices together. They also wear a religious habit, work together in common apostolates and are explicit about their fidelity to the church and the teachings of the magestarium. All of these are especially attractive to the young people who are entering religious life today.” Origins August 27, 2009, Volume 39, number 12.
The study is of course not without some controversy. The Leadership Conference of Women Religious has concerns about who funded the research and some of the methods employed and that there is no full disclosure of information being sent to the Vatican concerning individual orders.
Worldwide the Catholic Church continues to explode in numbers. But despite this it is a fact that at times a branch of the Church can simple shrivel alarmingly. Nowhere is this most sadly exemplified than the first lady of the Church France. And with all of the reports of parish closings and cutting back of services in the Diocese of Cleveland it may seem like that is happening here. Somewhere around 50 parishes are closing, many of our parish schools have closed and some still will. Some services are cut back. In fact, this coming weekend a local parish will close (St. Hedwig) and the pastor will come and be in residence here at St. Sebastian with Fr. Pfeiffer and myself. It is a legitimate question to pose: are numbers are dropping and we cannot afford to “keep up appearances.” Are we dying?
There is good news and bad news here. First the bad news. It is not the Catholic Church that is shrinking it is north east Ohio. The growth rate of north east Ohio in general has been 0 to negative. This is most dramatically seen in Cuyahoga county (home of our See) where the population has plummeted. It is not that Catholics are disappearing it is that people in general are moving away and among them are Catholics. We statistically shrink as the population shrinks.
So in 1970 there were approximately 915,000 Catholics in the Diocese of Cleveland. Now there are only 735,000 in our eight counties. That is a drop of 180,000 Catholics. That number alone represents a hefty number of parishes. Not only is that a drop in need for services it is also a dramatic drop in people who fund those services.
But the people of the diocese have been very generous. In the past 6 years offertory collections have risen yearly 1.5% to 2%. In these tough economic times that is commendable. However expenditures have risen yearly 4% to 6%. That is a trend that cannot be sustained forever.
One can look at this then and say that the diocese is not withering, it is resizing to the reality that exists for Catholics in north east Ohio today. That is not to say that what is happening is not without controversy. But that discussion is not in the scope of this particular article.
This is necessarily a tragic (though it is sometimes sad) story. We are responding in hopes of remaining strong. And there are areas in the diocese that are growing where parishes continue to grow (sometimes too much!) And our major seminary has more men studying for the priesthood than it has in ten years. There are 32 theologians, 28 for services in the diocese of Cleveland, two for the Diocese of Daegu, and two for the Congregation of St. Joseph.
May God bless us in our mission even in these challenging times.
FINDING TRUTH WHEVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “The scandal of art is that it is both useless and absolutely necessary. Once the basics of survival are taken care of, what remains to ensure that our lives are enjoyable and meaningful?” Michael Schrauzer
QUOTE II: “When we blame a man for behaving like a beast we mean he displays characteristics common to man and beast on occasion when those peculiar to man are demanded.” C. S. Lewis
IN OTHER NEWS:
Kay wrote in to say, "I wanted to inform you of the Fall Festival at Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine. When: Sunday, October 4th Where: Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine; 21281 Chardon Road; Euclid, OH; 216-481-8232 Masses: Indoor: 8:00am; Outdoor by the Shrine: 9:30am & 11:00am. After 9:30am Mass:Breakfast (10:30 to 11:30),Lunch (Noon - 3:30),Crafts, Bake Sale, Games. 4:00pm Rosary with candlelight procession. Gift Shop also open until 5:30pm.
A phone call came into the rectory last Friday from Akron Children’s Hospital. One of our parishioners had a baby, there were complications, and an emergency baptism was needed. I have never had an occasion to perform an emergency baptism before having only taught about it in theory and so it took me a few minutes to collect myself and determine exactly what needed to be taken to the hospital.
A bag was packed and down Exchange I zoomed to the hospital. Kit and priest found a parking place in the parking deck and made then tracks for the information desk for directions to the Infant ICU. Such a room I had only witnessed on television. There were these complicated plastic bubbles over the beds with tiny human beings in them. They children were so amazing and so beautiful even though they had tubes strapped all over them.
My baby would soon need to go in for surgery and so we prepared for the baptism as family began to show up. I was nervous about performing the rites and took a nurse aside. “You know that I will have to touch the child to perform a baptism?” I thought that they were in their incubators because nobody was allowed to touch them for fear of germs, but she assured me it had more to do with keeping her warm and that the baptism could proceed normally. (Shwew! What would we have done?)
Mom sat next to the big contraption and the process of taking the little girl out of her bed and into her mother’s arms took about 20 minutes. Once placed in her mother’s arms we began, “What name do you give your child? And what do you ask of God’s Church for her?”
I must say that the staff was extremely understanding and cooperative. Business moved away behind other closed doors and they supplied us with anything we might need and gave us privacy for the duration of the rite. When it was finished it was like a gentle breeze blew in again ad activity slowly eked back into the room and pictures were taken.
We did not have the trappings of stained glass or glowing candles or marble floors – as nice as those things are – but there was something solemn and beautiful too as we brought one of the smallest of human beings into the fold through baptism.
At my last assignment there was a window with a symbol in it that nobody there could figure out. I was completely baffled. I posted it and after a couple of days someone identified it. Upon hearing what it was it became embarrassingly obvious. Of course that is what it is!
With that in mind there are a couple of windows here at St. Sebastian that I am uncertain of. I have a theory but I don't want to poison your impression. Shown below are three windows that sit next to each other in the back hallway of the church between the two sacristies. Would you mind giving a shot at 1) what you perceive as being pictured and 2) what you think that they mean?
It was Sunday morning over breakfast in the dining room while the parochial vicar was having Mass and over the intercom the words of institution were heard. It put me in mind of this picture from the CCD book I had growing up. As a side note I mention that I remember this picture so distinctly. We were a little bit behind the times in our materials but I am glad for it because it worked for me. I remember these pictures so well (obviously I remember them to this day!) and the pictures in the Stations of the Cross booklets and even as a child was so disappointed when we switched to modern books with bright colors and cartoon figures that for me failed to engage the imagination. To this day I am disappointed in the breviary and many of the other liturgical books the art of which I derogatorily refer to as Playschool symbols. However they must work for somebody – who knows, maybe even most people.
But I digress.
Hearing the Mass over the intercom put me in mind of the picture above and how we were taught that at all times somewhere in the world the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was being offered. The thought came again during a Mass at which I was celebrant that owing to the different paces at which various which priests celebrate, the different times at which Mass might be begin, time zones, late starts, private Masses begun at odd moments of the hour that there cannot be a single moment of the entire day at which any part of the Mass is not being celebrated. Even at this moment as you read this hundreds of hands of priests are elevating the Blessed Sacrament and hundreds of priest voices are intoning, “Through Him, with Him, in Him, . . .” uniting mankind with the Father in a continuous offering to Him for our sake and that of the whole world. Wow.
And I remembered our CCD teacher telling us that at any moment we can unite ourselves to that great offering in a spiritual way at any moment of the day no matter what we were doing – and especially if we are faced with temptation. The writing under the above picture states, “The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is offered every hour somewhere in the word. Wherever he is, a Catholic knows that whatever he may be doing he can join spiritually in the Holy Sacrifice.”
I am chuckling as I say to myself, “I should keep this in mind and do it sometime.” Why not do it right now? “Lord, I wish to be united to the one Mass being offered around the word and throughout time. May it be a sacrificed holy and pleasing to You, a ready remedy for our sins, and a strengthening of our covenantal bond through Christ our Lord.”
In reality nobody – well, almost nobody prepares for a Martian abduction. I mean really, the chances are so small. But if every you were abducted by Martians you would think, “Why didn’t read that pamphlet and have a small bag packed and ready to go - and granola bars?”
With that in mind I ask you to consider reading this short post even though you may find it completely out of relevancy for you at the moment or unpleasant reading. This is just a short to-do list in the inevitable event of . . .
Phone calls come in to the rectory quite often with the plea, “I think that I am supposed to call you and arrange a time for funeral. My (insert relationship here) died, I’ve never done this before and am not sure what to do.” Well, my friends, here is what I suggest you do in simple format. It is a check off list of what would work around here – exact details may change in your location.
When a person is seriously ill call early for a priest to anoint him. Do NOT wait until death is imminent. You want to make sure that a priest is available to come in time. Let the priest know the state of the person (not an immediate emergency but soon – or – they have a few hours etc.) Have an address, phone number, and possibly directions ready.
When your loved one dies call the funeral home of your choice. There is a reason they are called undertakers. They under take all the arrangements for the family. A good funeral home that is familiar with the Catholic Church will immediately notify the parish of choice and arrange a day and time for you and handle the finances.
It would be a good idea to have spoken with your loved one about funeral plans – preferred readings, songs, etc. You time will be taxed between the death and funeral. Be prepared. You may need to arrange a meeting at the parish to discuss the Mass. You may need to call the rectory if your parish provides a funeral luncheon. Eulogies are not part of the Mass and should not be done. The proper place is at the funeral home or luncheon.
The priest, deacon, or other person might perform the following: A prayer service at the funeral home the day before, the funeral Mass, and committal service. Some parishes still meet the body at the funeral home and lead the cortege to the Church but that is becoming rarer.
FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “Perfection is not achievement. Perfection lies in untiring striving.” David RastOSB
QUOTE II: Life is tough, but it’s tougher if you’re stupid.” Fr. Dennis SJ
IN OTHER NEWS:
The Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter gave us this link to the USCCB's comment on the president's speech on health care.
Do you want an update on the Theater of the Word? Look here.
M. W. sent this one minute video in. I'm all for it!
Pat sent this in: "Just in case you are unaware, Hollywood screenwriter Joe Eszterhaus ("Basic Instinct," "Showgirls") has had a strong re-conversion to Catholicism. A Cleveland native, Joe now plans to write a movie on Our Lady of Guadeloupe." Story here.
Two weeks ago we made some needed repairs to the bell tower and Fr. Pfeiffer and I had to go up and check it out.
Here is a picture across the parish grounds at night.
A car drives by on the brick street at the base of the tower during a slow exposure. The beams of light that illumine the tower at night make a criss cross pattern on the ceiling of the bell chamber.
It still amazes me how many people think that when the Sunday Mass schedule is over that their parish shuts down. Perhaps some places do but for many parishes it is just a change in activity after the last minister walks out of the sanctuary.
This past weekend I had the last Mass and shaking hands in the back of the church there was a person who asked for prayers because she was nervous and would be going in for surgery that week. But surgery deserves more than prayer alone, we have a sacrament for such things and so we celebrated the sacrament of the sick.
After this there was the celebration of baptism as we welcomed a new member into the Church. Father and I had a short break to eat and freshen up and then we headed out to a picnic for our grounds crew. This is the group of people who volunteer a couple of times a week to come out and keep our grounds looking spectacular. They work hard and it was a pleasure to celebrate the close-to-the-end of another season with them. There was the mandatory game of corn hole – a game that I am ashamed to say that I completely fail at. I was a little leery of the score keeping skills of the person against whom I played however but the humiliation was bearable.
That done we headed back to the rectory to prepare to go out to a youth group meeting. We prayed Evening Prayer together, got changed, and headed out with Sebastian (who is far more popular than the two of us put together) to make it to the meeting. As we began our hike a large number of cars were pulling out of the church parking lot. They were about to begin a meeting in the church meeting room but were asked to move their cars because the patching of the parking lot was about to begin.
The walk to the youth group meeting provided the evidence needed to support the statement that Sebastian is far more popular than we are. In fact, I forgot to mention that a young couple registered earlier in the day – the decided factor that this was going to be their parish was that we had such a great dog.
As we walked a car pulled over with a dog and asked if they could visit with Sebastian for a moment. Another lady came out of her house with her dog. A local Episcopal priest pulled over with her dog and then the neighbors came out to meet him causing in impromptu street party. But we had to press on! As we did we were obliged to (happily) stop by a couple of more houses of people who wanted to see the dog (and, oh yes, the priests too.) We passed a gentleman who said he was in his way to a sports boosters meeting at the parish. And then finally we made it to our destination. “It’s Sebastian!” came the call. Then only after the “Hi Fathers” came.
This is not unusual for a parish to keep busy like this all day long – every day. Not listed here were the sporting events, PSR, Children’s Liturgy of the Word, and other parish meetings that took place just this particular day. If one goes home after Mass, it does not mean that the parish does not continue buzzing throughout the day – even a day of “rest.” That is one reason Catholics have full time priests. It is also why there are employees working even on Sunday. It is why your involvement and generosity are so important to the community. Without you the beehive loses its buzz.
This is part II of Fr. Pfeiffer's vocation story. Part I was posted in last Friday's Potpourri.
During this year off I rented an apartment with another great friend from high school, got a job, and lived in the “real world.” It was during this time when I finally started asking the question, “What does God want me to do?” rather than my usual “What do I want to do?” I could not articulate it that way at the time, but during this period I was praying more, continued reading C.S. Lewis books (which interestingly was the consistent thing I did through all the preceding years as well), read the Catechism, and even The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. By this time in my life I was big on apologetics, and I would almost look for debates to defend the Church (I may have done this to a fault at times). I loved talking about the faith. Somehow through all of this, my response to God grace started to grow, and I came to the decision of joining Borromeo Seminary (the college level). I figured if I was energized about the Faith, then maybe I should look into the priesthood; maybe my uncle was onto something I thought.
I told my uncle, and he was thrilled. Then I told my parents and they were very happy and supportive. I told my friends and again was blessed to find much support. During my time at Borromeo Seminary people were affirming this call to priesthood and God kept pulling me along year after year. He pulled me along in my spiritual life as well making me more aware of His infinite love (even for me). Even when doubts would creep up I could not find a good reason for leaving the seminary. It was invaluable to have a good spiritual director during these times (which is probably why the church requires spiritual directors for seminarians). After graduating Borromeo I progressed to St. Mary Seminary for theological studies and more intense training for ministerial priesthood.
It was in my seminary years where living as a holy Christian man really came to the forefront for me. Living out the Faith through the call to holiness (which of course includes realizing how far away I still am) became more paramount. Before seminary I lived the Faith as best I could, but it was extremely intellectual (which is a good thing - don’t get me wrong). I knew the Faith, but was still coming to know the person of Jesus. I am still becoming more aware of Him and His love. This is a life long process of formation for all of us in whichever vocation we choose. His grace somehow worked through it all and kept calling me to priesthood. It is this vocation through which I am to live a holy life. What a blessing it is to be called as a steward of the sacred mysteries even while I am still a sinner. I keep reminding myself that God does not call the worthy, but makes worthy those whom He calls.
Finally after five years at St. Mary’s Bishop Lennon recognized that call. He ordained me a transitional deacon on Oct. 25, 2008 and on May 16, 2009 he advanced me to the rank of the presbyterate in the Order of Melchizedek of Old. The Bishop has assigned me as the parochial vicar of St. Sebastian Parish in Akron, OH for the next four years. I am loving priesthood! - the Mass and sacraments, the people whom I serve, Fr. V. and Sebastian (the dog). How good God is! “And now you know the rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey would say.
Praised be to our Lord Jesus Christ - May God bless you and Mary keep you!
"Boredom is in fact the weight of unused capacity, an intimation of the freedom from which the self has hidden" Unger
There is a feeling often reported in the confessional that a person ought to be doing more. And not just more, but something noble and worthwhile. It is as if God is calling the person to some great deed or work - the only problem being that they do not know what it is. So an uncomfortable angst is built up. “I know that I should be doing something, I feel it, but I just cannot figure out what it is,” it is often reported. Daily routines do not satisfy this angst. As good as an activity as it might be, it is just not the right fit. So it is mentioned at confession as being, perhaps, a sin of omission.
What may be happening (and this is good reason to have a spiritual director – one who can help you discern) is that God is preparing you for something coming down the pike. A yearning for service is built up inside of you causing you to look for what it is that is coming your way and when the proper desire is built up God allows the discovery or the realization of your calling to cross your attention.
The answer to the riddle of the calling may, for some, be a short time from months to as few as a couple of hours. Many times it last for years such as some cases of a calling to a religious or priestly life - they know that something is missing from their lives until finally they give their calling a try and feel at peace. “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee,” says St. Augustine.
What is required of us is that we work on our spiritual life and keep an attentive eye and ear open to our opportunities. Rarely has such a thing been discovered watching T.V. re-runs or playing video games. Don’t shake the feeling but use it as a signal to be ready. It may be that God will be calling.
Oh, for some reason I cannot upload pictures today. Sorry.
Mitchner once wrote, “[God] added the mosquito to remind man that no paradise comes free – there are always mosquitoes.”
Thus us this poor little creature much maligned. They are often considered the scourge of the earth save for those birds and frogs that take much delight on dining on them. If there is no God, I would much agree with this lowly assessment of this creature. Except that they have a solid place in the food chain they could be considered horrid little freaks of nature whose sole purpose is to ruin late night romantic starings at the moon and hiking trips. Why should they be? So many more pleasant things could and do exist. Why should uncaring, unthinking nature evolve them? As Michner wrote they exist only to destroy any Shangri-La that we cannot soak in deet. They are a mistake.
But if there is a God, what a wonderful thing a mosquito is! They are proof that we have a generous, loving, and intelligent God who loves life lavishly! Imagine if you were God for a moment – loving life and creation and trying to create as much life in the world as you possibly could. Might you not develop a creature that can live on some of the life of another creature that already had life in abundance? The mosquito lives off of that life we have that fills our cup and runs over into our laps.
But it could not be allowed to run unchecked. What if we felt nothing of the mosquito’s lust for our sanguine elixir? We might be sucked dry and wake up in the bossom of Abraham instead of our sleeping bag. Or worse yet! What if it felt good? There would be mosquito bars! Drivers would have to take a blood level test before driving for fear that they would pass out while driving from lack of blood in their veins! We would have cultivated larger and more hungry super mosquitoes and sell them to miscreants on the streets who would have back alley mosquito parlors where flashy men with more money than taste would send customers into a room with the vampirish beasts occasionally having a body to dispose of in the river from a john that had a little too much of his life taken from him.
But that is not the case! The little beasts sting and leave welts. And they are not cute and furry like a puppy so that we coax them to come around and train them to bring our slippers. Rather, like Fagan they pass through our town trying to steal a little hear and a little there until SWAT! their little marauding escapades are over.
Thus are we kept in balance – one creature benefitting from our wealth of life and they kept in check by the swatter and anti-bug spray. Now, I am not saying that knowing this we should like them any more than we do – or that we should let them have what they want – WWJD? I believe Jesus would swat mosquitoes – but we can come to appreciate them a little more as signs of God’s great love of life. And if paradise does have mosquitoes – fortunately we will have glorified bodies – and so will they and the as the lamb lies by the lion, the mosquito will by the human.
FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: If you were to bring together the saints worthy of canonization to collaborate in the same work, they would probably be the cause of suffering to each other." Blessed ColumbaMarmon
QUOTE II: "What happened to the beautiful baby who was Hitler?" Fr. Groeschell
Martin sent this in and it is a little late in posting: Prof. Michael Barber's latest Liturgy Reflection video on the Mass readings for September 6th meditates on the meaning of the healing of the deaf man. We hope you enjoy it and would consider sharing it with your readers! You can find older reflections on our Liturgy Reflection channel.
GOOD NEWS EVERY BODY: You may remember Chad Vader: Day Shift Manager. Well season 2 is out and I am so happy! But it is not as good as season one. If you have not seen season one here is the first episode to give you a taste. WARNING: Some inappropriate language.)
Since we have just finished celebrating Labor Day the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter asks, "Did you know, the Catholic Worker Movement is grounded in a firm belief in the God-given dignity of every human person? Today over 185 Catholic Worker communities remain committed to nonviolence, voluntary poverty, prayer, and hospitality for the homeless, exiled, hungry, and forsaken. Catholic Workers continue to protest injustice, war, racism, and violence of all forms."
There is a guest blogger again today. Fr Pfeiffer has graciously offered his vocation story. Part II will follow next Friday. Enjoy!
Fr. V. has asked me to write a vocation story blog telling of my journey to priesthood. Well, it all started at St. John the Evangelist Cathedral in downtown Cleveland. I say it started there because it is under the vaulted ceiling of our Diocesan mother church where I was baptized. My parents were “between parishes” at the time so my uncle, Fr. Bob Pfeiffer (more on him in a bit), said bring him down to the Cathedral. So in April of 1979 I was washed clean of original sin and began my participation in the Mystical Body of Christ, His Church. Little did any of us know that thirty years later I would be in the same cathedral pressing my nose to the marble and having the bishop’s hands lain on my head allowing me to participate in the eternal Priesthood of Jesus Christ, Head and Shepherd.
My family moved a few times while I was younger, but wherever we were Sunday Mass was a priority and prayer at home was important. We were not praying daily rosaries, but staples of prayer were at meals, Christmas and Easter traditions of prayer and song (at four years old I even wrote and directed a nativity play that the family enacted), and special prayers at family reunions, etc. In fifth grade I started serving at our local parish (in a small town in PA) . This continued through junior high while we lived in Toledo, OH. I think it was at this time I remember my uncle, Fr. Bob, dropping hints about my becoming a priest. I actually ignored much of this. We made our last move just before my freshman year of high school when we came to Stow, OH. We had returned home in a sense to the Cleveland Diocese and close to where my father grew up in Cuyahoga Falls. I even went to my father’s alma mater, Archbishop Hoban High School (even though Fr. Bob went to St. Vincent High School).
It was during these four years that Fr. Bob continued to drop hints - not often but once in a while - about my entering the seminary. But of course toward the end of high school, I had my own plans. I wanted to be an architect, so I was accepted into Kent State University’s Architecture School and continued there for two years. While there, one of my best friends from Hoban entered the seminary (now Fr. Jared Orndorff) as well as another friend I knew from Hoban (now Fr. Mike McCandless). I was happy for them but still did not consider myself as one to wear a roman collar.
After two years I decided to switch majors to Aerospace technology and become a pilot. Architecture was not working out for me as I had hoped, and I felt drawn to military service. I enrolled in the United States Marine Corps Officer Candidate Program. This involved summer training at Officer Candidate School (OCS) and completion of my degree thereupon granting me a commission as an officer and a place in flight school. I went to OCS and gained valuable leadership training (as well as getting in great shape) and returned to finish school, but now something was really nagging me. I did not know what it was, but I felt I needed to take time off school and reconsider my “life’s plan.” Dropping out of full-time school meant leaving the officer program as well.
Posts have been made here before about cases of nullity for marriages or as it is more commonly known annulments. That being the case here are just a couple of brief comments and some good news.
The Catholic Church does not annul any marriages. It never has and never will. It does not have the power to do so. If some corrupt official would venture to annul a valid marriage it would not matter one jot because “What God has joined, no man must put asunder.”
What the Catholic Church does do is that it recognizes, proves, and brings forth what actually exists. If, for example, a two people were to marry who were far too young and/or immature to truly make the sacramental commitment to marriage the Church would recognize this fact. For a marriage to be true the two persons must 1)know what they are getting into, 2)understand it, and 3)freely choose it. So all those Romantic novels of princesses being forced to say, “I do” are malarkey for the marriage would not have been recognized anyway.
If you have been civilly divorced please consider getting a declaration of nullity. So many times an excited older couple will come into my office and want to get married but have at least one (maybe more) marriages between them. Unfortunately at that point we will have to start a case for nullity even before we can talk about marriage. And a formal case may take over six months.
The Tribunal of the Diocese of Cleveland has started a tremendous new program called Quick Start. You could always simply meet with your local priest but with Quick Start you will meet with a diocesan expert who can help you get your case rolling much more efficiently and answer your questions much better.
Yes – there is a fee involved and for good reason. But NOBODY HAS EVER BEEN DENIED THE CHANCE FOR A DECLARATION OF NULLITY BASED ON AN ABILITY TO PAY.
A friend of mine was nervous about seeing the doctor for a problem because of what he knew the doctor was going to ask of him. There was going to be a lifestyle change in store but in the end it would serve to make him healthier enabling him to have more energy and quite possibly a longer life.
Many people feel the same way about listening too closely to that which God is calling them in their heart. The nervousness often stems from having to have a change in living style and that can be a daunting thing. It means leaving the life you know how to live and are perhaps quite comfortable with and embarking on something new.
But consider what it is God is calling you to. Sin is anything that brings harm spiritually, mentally, or physically to you are others. That to which God calls you brings healing and health spiritually, mentally, or physically to you or others. God is calling you to health. Sometimes the call is extreme – think of the martyrs – but most of the time it is like giving up cheesy poofs – it something we enjoy and do not want to give up because they give us immediate gratification – but in the long run having done without them we shall not have to face the damage they did to us.
FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “I love it when people say such things as, ‘Giving should be just between giver and God.’ That is malarkey. It is never just between the giver and God and has been . . . In reality, for most of us, ten to twenty people will have access to information about what we choose to give. This is not about the donor and God. It is about the donor and pastor and the fact that many do not want the one who runs their church to know they support it so poorly.” from J. Clif Christopher’s, “Not Your Parent’s Collection Plate”
QUOTE II: "Stop helping God across the road like a little old lady". from a song by U2. h/t to Warren.
IN OTHER NEWS:
“WOLF! WOLF!” I’m trying not to just holler “wolf!” here. I am ready to really start a Chesterton Society here at St. Sebastian. M. W. are still interested in being point man??? Anyone else interested? This is good time to start up because there is lots of good Chesterton news going on in these parts:
Ellen sends in this information: “I was at the annual Chesterton conference last week and Dale Ahlquist, president of the American Chesterton Society, expressed an interest in having the annual (national!) conference at John Carroll University in a couple of years! (Since they have a Chesterton collection of their own.) This would be a grand opportunity, but a lot of work to be done locally. We are talking 2012 at the earliest. The next two conference are going to be in the DC area, then St. Louis.”
She also writes, “Chuck Chalberg is going to be touring in 2010 and is looking for bookings in Northern Ohio. I wonder if anyone would be interested in sponsoring an "evening with Chesterton" show in April 2010?” I’ve got a hall and a little bit of green – can anybody help sponsor?
And CONGRATULATIONS to the Warren Chesterton Society on celebrating their 5th year this September!
IN NON-CHESTERTONIAN NEWS:
Interested in seeing what the changes in the Mass will be when the new Sacramentary is finally published? G. M. sends in this link to the USCCB website that shows a chart of the changes.
The Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter asks, "Did you know, the dioceseofcleveland.org 'A-Z Index' provides web visitors with well over one hundred direct links to Catholic information?"
Russel sent in this provocative video for a trailer on Bloodmoney. About two and half minutes.
Gus sent this in: " You and your friends are invited to join EWTN on the First Friday of each month at 3 p.m. ET as we air a special Holy Hour in honor of the Year for Priests. This program, with the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word, will begin airing Sept. 4 and will end in June 2010.
Each Holy Hour will include a sermon by Father Miguel Marie M.F.V.A., as well as hymns and prayers specifically for priests. Keep checking our website, www.ewtn.com, for a new web page on the “Year for Priests,” which will be unveiled shortly. The mini-site will contain information on all of EWTN’s special programming during this Year for Priests (including videos, video clips, and promotional spots), prayers that will be used during the Holy Hour, news, papal documents, and a lot more!
Please join us the First Friday of each month during the Hour of Divine Mercy (and on the web every day) as we follow St. John Vianney’s admonition: “If you want good priests, pray for the ones you have…”