Tuesday, August 31, 2010


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “Though Americans today are more highly educated than ever before, they are not necessarily better educated.” Lisa Twui

QUOTE IITo science I say this . . .We ask you not why you will not govern yourselves, but how can you? Your world moves so fast that if you stop even for an instant to consider the implications of your actions, someone more efficient will whip past you in a blur. So you move one. You proliferate weapons of mass destruction, but it is the Pope who travels the world beseeching leaders to use restraint. You clone living creatures, but it is the church reminding us to consider the moral implications of our actions. You encourage people to interact on phones, video screens, and computers, but it is the church who opens its doors and reminds us to commune in person as we were meant to do. You even murder unborn babies in the name of research that will save lives. Again, it is the church who points out the fallacy of this reasoning and all the while, you proclaim the church is ignorant. But who is more ignorant? The man who cannot define lightning, or the man who does not respect its awesome power?” from Dan Brown’s “Angels and Demons” h/t to Trevor


Our organist sent this video in:

The Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter asks, "Did you know, the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada offers all who work in the Catholic media field the opportunity to be part of something bigger than their own communication vehicle?" Read more here.

From the same source - a friendly reminder: "Catholics in the United States will begin using the long-awaited English translation of the Roman Missal on the first Sunday of Advent in 2011, Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago said Aug. 20." Read the press release here.

I think this was posted once before but it is so cool I'll do it again. T.G. sent this site to have a virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel.

T. K. sent this virtual tour of Walsh University. Here is their prayer garden.

R. A. sent this video to me through F. S. It's good for a chuckle.

Monday, August 30, 2010


So, I was sitting in our lunch room enjoying a midday repast and reading the news when Ed, one of our ever vigilant and talented staff members, came in and said, "Jesus is here."

"Oh?" I responded in a droll manner.


"Pray tell."

"He just pulled up in the back of a truck."

"HE DID?" This was great news! We were expecting Him! He is the new statue being installed in the new plaza at Saint Sebastian. The statue comes from St. Procop Parish, which was part of the closings that took place in the Diocese of Cleveland.

The funny part was seeing the statue inside the truck. It looked a bit more like Jesus was being kidnapped. As you can see here from a picture taken from on top of Zwilser Hall, the seating wall for the plaza has been under construction for the past week and we have been anxiously awaiting the image of Jesus as the centerpiece of this area.
As we came around the corner we saw this scaffolding set up which the workers used to gently place the statue where in needed to be.

As the image of Jesus lifted up into the air I said, "Can you guys come back and do this on (the Sunday closest to) Ascention Thursday? We can have a reenactment and have a festival. The men politely laughed and said, "Yeah, you're a real side splitter Father." Hardy ha ha. . .

It is the last six feet of the journey and it is the most difficult. Houston, we have lift off.
The Eagle has landed! There He is to stay - the Sacred Heart! May He continue to inspire the people of West Akron as he did the Bohemian people of Saint Procop.

Friday, August 27, 2010


At my first assignment we had a weekend associate who helped us with the busy Mass schedule by the name of Fr. Gary Hoover OSB from the Benedictine Abby of St. Andrew (home of champions.) One day somebody brought in a Benedictine medal to be blessed, which they wanted blessed by a Benedictine priest (though any priest is permitted to give the blessing.)

The whole medal is used as a prayer to ward off the temptations of the devil. If you would like a full description and history of the medal you might want to look here or here.

On the back side of the medal is the Benedictine cross (Benedict means blessed and the medal as well as the people in this order are named after Saint Benedict) or Fleurie Cross. Once again we see the use of the Greek cross as its base. Like the Conqueror’s Cross from last week we find letters in the four quadrants of the cross, “C S P B.” These four letters stand for, “Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti” or “the Cross of our holy father Benedict.”

There is an interesting story about the rest of the letters. On the cross itself we see the letters, “C S S M L” and “N D M S D.” Surrounding the cross are the letters, “V R S N S M V S M Q L I V B.” As it turns out the meaning of these letters had been forgotten for hundreds of years! But in 1415 an old (old even in that day) manuscript was found giving us the key to what these letters meant. (Can you imagine being that monk that discovered the secret to the mystery? I bet he got extra grog that night!) Anyway, the letters on the cross stand for, “Crux Sacra Sit Mihi Lux” or "May the Holy Cross be my light,” and “Non Draco Sit Mihi Dux” or “Let not the dragon be my guide.” The rest of the letters are a prayer used while making the sign of the cross while making a petition to be protected from temptation, “Vade Retro Satana, Nunquam Suade Mihi Vana - Sunt Mala Quae Libas, Ipse Venena Bibas” or “Begone, Satan! Do not suggest to me your vanities - evil are the things you propose, drink your own poison.”

Thursday, August 26, 2010


A new ground breaking study shows that Cheerios at Mass has a link to attention deficit syndrome in adults. Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth of the Perfidia Institute of the Pseudosciences spoke recently at the annual convention of Church Ladies Engaging All to Neatness (or CLEAN for short.) “Zer ees no doubt about it,” he spoke emphatically, “Zer ist a direct link between feeding Cheerios to kids at Mass and the need for comfort food among adults at za Mass later in life.”

The topic for this year’s theme, “The Growing Problem of Cheerios and Their Ramifications in This World and the World to Come,” came about because of the growing concern among CLEAN members that an epidemic was beginning that boarded on a new religion. “They’re leaving their prayer books at home,” said Matilda Mercywild, “in order to have enough room for survival packs to help them make it through the Mass!”

Cheerians, as CLEAM members have come to refer to them, leave small piles of gooey Cheerios in pews between Masses, crushed into carpets, swept back under pews, not to mention the slimy residue left on one’s hand after the Sign of Peace having shaken hands with someone handling the substance around drooling babies. “It’s just a shame,” said Mercywild, “last year the Church spent thousands of dollars purchasing special vacuums in order to suck all of the muck from hidden corners of the church. I mean, my goodness, most of these people are volunteers!”

“But zat ees not za vorst of it,” according to Professor Farnsworth. Admitting that the Mass was a very adult activity and not easily accessible for youngsters, he none-the-less warns of later in life difficulties that may occur as a direct result of bribing children to be good by the use of Cheerios and sippy cups at Mass.

While it is perfectly understandable that young children may have difficulty behaving for forty five to sixty minutes once a week, the age old practice of expecting it of them and encouraging them to try without artificial stimulants such as sugar made it easier for them to focus during Mass as an adult.

“Without the discipline learned as a child,” Psycobabalist Thomas Cruisester said in a break out session, “adults find it much more difficult to focus for more than nine minutes, the average span of time Mad Men is on before the next commercial break. Because of this we see people coming to Mass with Survival Kits. In addition to Cheerios, sippy cups, and toys to entertain and distract their children, we see adult versions of these items now too.”

Cruisester reports that, although it may not be evident to most people, it is more than apparent to psycobablists that otherwise innocent looking items brought to Mass carry with them the baggage of a long history of distractions being used in someone’s upbringing to help them not to have to pray and pay attention for longer than nine minute spans at Mass. “Cough drops, breath mints, and the like are just adult versions of Cheerios. Cell phones, ipads, and all of these modern electronic devices are just different versions of crayons and Tonka Trucks.”

Protestors outside the CLEAN Convention protested that CLEAN people have gone too far. “Next thing you know they will be taking away our coffee and water!” one impassioned protestor shouted who declined to be identified for fear of CLEAN reprisals. And indeed it was on the agenda.

“Studies have shown,” said Farnsworth, “that the human person can indeed go for sixty minutes and even more without needing water. In fact, there is evidence from the early Church Fathers that Mass used to go longer than sixty minutes and all that the people had to quench their thirst was the Blood of Christ at Communion.” This news made even the most diehard CLEAN people a little nervous.

“I mean,” said one member, “We are not radicals! We don’t want people to suffer.” But even with cracks in the ranks such as this, a resolution was passed to recommend the suspension of all none-Eucharistic beverages from the Mass which Cruister identified as adult sippy cups. Pastors are encouraged to place signs outside of their doors with pictures of water bottles and coffee cups with a red line through it next to signs banning smoking, halter tops, short-shorts, cell phones, and guns. Coffee is a more serious threat since it breaks the Eucharistic fast .

“We’re hopeful,” said Martha Stewardess, president of CLEAN. Others are not so confident. “I fear it may be too late,” says another CLEAN lady who declined to give her name, “We’ve lost two generations to Cheerios. It’s time to start providing milk.”

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


It would be interesting to know if the possible schismatic parish in the Diocese of Cleveland is news outside of our Ohio. Anybody hearing about it out there?

In a nutshell, Historic Saint Peter was one of about 50 parishes in the Diocese of Cleveland that were closed as part of the diocesan downsizing. The pastor and many/most of the people of this parish decided to rent space and start their own parish with the expressed disapproval of our bishop. Negotiations are supposed to take place to see what can be done to heal this rift between the Church and this parish before a formal schism takes place.

In the morning the paper tells the latest chapter in this drama. There is no shortage of people with strong opinions on the matter. It puts me in mind of what it must be like to be related to someone famous who, for one reason or another, is stealing all the headlines at the moment. As you read the article it becomes abundantly clear that many people with very strong opinions do not really understand what is going on. Few know what is happening behind closed doors, almost none are versed in Catholicity but only in their version of being “fair,” or “nice.”

There is on the one hand Jesus’ mission: “That they may all be one.” In the Catholic Church this has very specific meaning. In our theology/ecclesiology it is one of the four marks of the True Church. We say it every weekend, “We believe in ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC, and APOSTOLIC church. Other ecclesial communities say the same thing but mean something different by it when they say it. In part at least, what we mean when we say that we are one is that we are one in leadership, united to a pastor, who is united to a bishop, who is united to the pope,. The Catholic Church never claimed to be a democracy. Indeed it most certainly is not (though I would argue that true democracy takes place best within her doors.) There is a lot of “top down” governing. When you have a great pastor, a bishop whom you love, a pope that you admire, it is great. When you do not, it is not so great. One of favorite quotes is from Mary Doria Russell’s “The Sparrow.” “It’s hard to be obedient when you suspect your superiors are asses.”

Be that as it may, it is in our unity that we find our very definition – our call from Christ. So somebody writes the editor and complains that the Church is being rather unfair because they won’t allow people to pray when and where they want without permission from the bishop. To begin with, this is a straw man. You can do as you please for the most part. I can have a house mass without the bishop’s permission. What is happening here though is that a new parish is being set up with its own board, its own building, celebrating sacraments, detaching itself from the bishop and the rest of the diocese. That is what is of concern. Unity is being ruptured and that cannot be left unaddressed. It strikes to the heart of what it is to be Catholic. We would have to redefine ourselves. One simply cannot say, “I am not a part of this diocese, but I am still Catholic.” It would be like saying, “This shape is round, but it is still a square!”

On the other hand I do feel for the people of the parish. They may feel that they have been unfairly treated. They may see the actions of the diocese as sinful and counterproductive to the mission of Christ. They may have felt a need to act now since, once destroyed, the reconstruction of the parish could never take place and their mission lost forever. There is certainly passion here and a desire for good. What does one do if one feels that what is taking place in the Church is sinful? Lie down and be run over? No! You act! One cannot be excommunicated from the Church if one is standing up against sin and tyranny anymore than one can be forgiven if one is not penitent.

So how does one weigh what is going on here? Which side is not acting in the best interest of Christ’s mission? Let us place first principles first. Would those from the parish still be able to receive the Eucharist if the parish closed? Well, yes – most of them drive past many parishes before arriving at St. Peter. Putting anger, hurt, distrust, egos, and desires aside, is unity in Christ better preserved by breaking away from the diocese or in the sacrificing of one parish, even if you feel it patently wrong, for the greater good of the Church?

This is not the first time this has happened in this diocese actually. One of the parishes closed in this latest round of closing was a tiny, little parish that popped up out of nowhere. It was supposed to be a cultural center and shrine that all of a sudden became a parish. The bishop at the time allowed it to continue.

There is of course some Traditionalists Churches in these parts – those who never accepted the reforms of Vatican II. They also broke off and began their own parishes with their own priests who left the Catholic Church. Now their priests are getting old. Where will they be in a few more years? There will be no priests from the diocese to fill the role. They may advertise nationally and find an unhappy priest who left the Church and wants to celebrate what we call the extraordinary form – or who might come from some independent, schismatic seminary – if the minister is willing to move to Ohio to take care of a small congregation – and hope that the ordination and the subsequent sacraments are valid. Or they may be left homeless with no one and no sacraments – one of the risks one takes when one no longer defines one the way Catholics traditionally define it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “It is considered more withering to accuse a man of bad taste than of bad ethics.” G. K. Chesterton

QUOTE II: "She’d learned that courtesy meant the most to those with no right to demand it.” from Sharon Kay Penman’s, “Devil’s Brood”


Have you ever heard of a site called The Vortex? A couple of you sent this video in from that site. The information in it is very interesting but I find his approach not as helpful as it could be. I think he is preaching to the choir (maybe that is his intent) but if you were not already in his camp you might be more inclined not to listen to what he has to say. In any event I found it at least interesting and provide it here for you to see if you choose. Thanks for sending it in!

I don't know if it made it into the national news or not but there is a parish here in the Diocese of Cleveland that is verging on becoming a schismatic parish should things not turn favorable between the bishop, the priest of said parish, and the people who attend there. Here is Bishop Lennon's latest statement provided by the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter.

Russ sent this link in for a funny cartoon.

Russ also sent this link to Young Fogeys. It really has nothing to do with this site except that I found it funny. The first part of the video is the funniest if you don't want to watch the whole thing. Thanks Russ.

This is a picture of the front garden of Saint Sebastian from the bell tower. Nice job guys!A doctor friend of mine sent in this article blurb: "Catholic hospitals provide best care, according to rankings: Catholic and other church-owned health systems tended to have the highest quality outcomes and deliver "significantly better, more efficient care" than for-profit health systems, according to a study from Thomson Reuters." More

Did you know that the Catholic Church owns approximately 237,000 acres of the Unites States. This and other fun facts can be found here.

Servant and Stewart has this post of the Pope's message to altar servers.

In case you did not catch it Friday, head over to Sancte Pater to see how Vincent responded to last week's post on the priestmobile.

I stole this joke from Fish Eaters:

Two men considering a religious vocation were having a conversation. "What is similar about the Jesuit and Dominican Orders? " the one asked.

The second replied, "Well, they were both founded by Spaniards -- St. Dominic for the Dominicans, and St. Ignatius of Loyola for the Jesuits. They were also both founded to combat heresy -- the Dominicans to fight the Albigensians, and the Jesuits to fight the Protestants."

"What is different about the Jesuit and Dominican Orders?"

"Met any Albigensians lately?"

Monday, August 23, 2010


It rained on Saturday! It was a glorious, soaking rain that went on for a couple of hours. I took all the inside plants outside to be watered (it does amazing things) and decided – what the heck – Sebastian and I will go for walk. It has been so long since we had an honest to goodness rain it seemed rather a treat to get wet! I was clad in a T-shirt and shorts and no shoes as we went sloshing around the parish. Off in the distance we saw someone else and their dog doing the same thing. I was a little put out that we would have to change directions. “What moron walks his dog in the rain?” I thought – the irony escaping me at the moment.

Instead of going up into the chapel to pray evening prayer I stayed out on the porch to pray listening to His gift of rain as I prayed from the breviary. Fr. Pfeiffer and I were supposed to watch a movie but I suggested that it was the first time in a while that it was actually survivable outside and it was such a great, rainy night that we should go on the loggia.

When my family from Slovenia was in town, they told us that Pfeiffer meant, “one who smokes a pipe” or some such thing in the Slovenian language. So we had gone out and bought Father a pipe and we sat out and smoked a small bowl and listened to the rain. It was wonderfully soothing.

I would like to do a little bragging for a moment. I mentioned above my family from Slovenia. They were in town recently for two weeks and for a spell I got to see this parish, Akron, and northeast Ohio through their eyes. It seems that people from Akron always admit being from here with a little bit of an apology like being at a Browns game and admitting that you live in Pittsburg – with a little wince and hoping those who hear don’t mind. We really do need to get over that however, this is a fantastic place to live.

So I was on the canal path tow trail (part of the fantastic park system that surrounds us) riding bikes with my family from Slovenia through some very interesting, beautiful, and historic areas. We parked our bikes at the Stanford Youth Hostel in Boston and hiked out to Brandywine Falls which were just gorgeous despite our lack of rain. On our way back on the bikes they stopped and asked, “Why is everyone saying hello to us?” “That’s just the Midwest,” I tell them.

My sister and I did some research in order to provide the family with a list of things to do for 14 days. Besides the parks, there are all kinds for free concerts and an incredible amount of fairs, there are ample chances to see theater, go to concerts (we went to Blossom for the Cleveland Orchestra) sports venues, museums, and a giant list of things to see and do.

There was a missionary from India here this weekend and he commented on how lively the faith is here in the United States and in this area in particular. “In much of Europe the faith seems dead in comparison to here,” he said. Another priest visiting from overseas made mention that Americans seem to build our houses “in the woods!” And indeed if you climb the bell tower of Saint Sebastian – except for a couple of sky scrapers punching through it does look as though we are in the woods. The priest from Barcelona mentioned that, “there is just so much space here!” This is a great place to live. The biggest draw backs are that you have to know where to look in order to know what is going on and you must have your own car. Public transportation is not very convenient at all. Every place has its warts and it would be easy to point out all of them out (including the lack of jobs.) But overall, this is one great place to live and worship and I am glad to be a part of it.

Friday, August 20, 2010


This is another commonly seen Greek Cross known as the IC XC cross or the conqueror’s cross. IC is the first and last letter of the word for Jesus (Ihcuc) – the c and s being interchangeable letters when transcribing the word into English – and XC are the first and last letters for Christ (Xpictoc). NIKA is Greek for conqueror therefore, combined with the cross, the instrument through which Christ conquered death, we have Jesus Christ, Conqueror!
If you enjoyed at all last Wednesday's post (see here), do yourself a favor and give a visit to Sancte Pater! They are crazy over there!

Thursday, August 19, 2010


I was listening to something on the car radio yesterday and desperately wanted to write it down so that I would remember. I found a pen readily enough but nowhere (whilst I was driving – only try that at home kids) could I find a piece of paper. Reaching down between the seats I snatch up (among other things) an old receipt from a pizza parlor in New York that already had a bunch of things scribbled on it. Well, I might as well get some of those scribbling out of the way and so here are a few of them.

This was written by John Updike and was read on the show Prairie Home Companion. Scribbled on my note was “Updyke (sic) Why miss church?” After a little surfing I found what had piqued my interested that day. Here is “Going to Church.”

"There was a time when I wondered why more people did not go to church. Taken purely as a human recreation, what could be more delightful, more unexpected than to enter a
venerable and lavishly scaled building kept warm and clean for us one or two hours a week and to sit and stand in unison and sing and recite creeds and petitions that are like paths worn smooth in the raw terrain of our hearts? To listen, or not listen, as a poorly paid but resplendently robed man strives to console us with scraps of ancient epistles and halting accounts, hopelessly compromised by words, of those intimations of divine joy that are like pain in that, their instant gone, the mind cannot remember or believe them; to witness the windows donated by departed patrons and the altar flowers arranged by withdrawn hands and the whole considered spectacle lustrous beneath its patina of inheritance; to pay, for all this, no more than we are moved to give—surely in all democracy there is nothing like it. Indeed, it is the most available democratic experience. We vote less than once a year. Only in church and at the polls are we actually given our supposed value, the soul-unit of one, with its noumenal arithmetic of equality: one equals one equals one."

The second scribbled note was, “Trumpet – Taps!” I had left a graveyard (this was in Chicago) where we had just buried a relative. He served in the air force during WWII. As such he was afforded a military funeral. There was an honor guard, the folding and presenting of the flag, and the gun salute. Then a man picked up a trumpet to play taps.

Now, I’ve been at such events when all that was available was a boom box, a man would break from formation, bend over like one of those “Lady working in her garden” cut outs that were so popular in the 90s while trying to find the button that said, “PLAY.” Later they installed a big red button on the side of the chapel that a lady would go up and punch like the “Emergency Stop” button in a machine shop and a recorded trumpeter would sound.

Well, here we were again at a cemetery. The man went and picked up his trumpet. I remember thinking it an odd looking instrument – something between a flugelhorn and a bugle. He fiddled with the bell in a very military and professional manner for a moment and then put the instrument to his lips. It sounded a bit off to me but I marked it up to being a rather unique instrument . The man did not seem to be breathing very deeply for someone playing a trumpet-like instrument. In fact, he was breathing IN as sound was coming OUT. And what was that odd mute in the bell of his instrument? That was no mute! It was a speaker!

I know I’ve written about this before but when do we get to the point when we say, “You know what? We don’t have the talent to do this for real so we will skip this part of the ceremony? (Let’s not restrict this playing taps but apply it even to the Mass.) Many people would argue that no one can tell the difference between a real organ or fake one, real bells or fake bells, an actual organist or a prerecorded one, electric candles or real ones, real masonry or plastic, etc. But how far is too far? If we are going artificial should we be bold about it and not try to play as if it were real? Should we at least be genuine in our artificiality? Did man every have this problem before?

And why does it bother me so – and not others?

More receipt notes some other day! God bless.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


You come across a car parked in front of your house and have no idea to whom it belongs. You start searching the car looking for clues. You soon come to suspect that it is a specially outfitted car - such as James Bond might have - or Batman - but this is no ordinary super car - it's a priestmobile.

Over the dash on the sun visor are the car's defenses. Mysterious and vigilant monitors only known as Christopher, Mary, and Guardian Angel monitor the car's progress, warns against impending danger, guards against thieves, and keeps the priest on his appointed rounds. In the GODS box (Glovecompartment Of the Destruction of Sin) is an emergency super stole. Nobody can tell when they come across sin that must be defeated! It is always best to fight it on your own territory of course but sometimes circumstances necessitate fighting it wherever it may be. With a simple push of a (lock to the glove compartment) button, the car will automatically transform into a confessional.
The forces of evil take many forms - sickness an death being just one aspect. Every priest car is supplied with a kit for the destruction of sickness and condemnation. Containing the healing balm of Oleum Infirmorum, prayers, stole, and a pyx, priests boldly fight sickness and death wherever it may be - in the hospital bed, in the middle of the street, in your very home.
Ready for any happenstance - Aunt Matilda who wants her house blessed, the neighbors who just found out they were pregnant, a friend's son who just got a new car - a bottle of emergency holy water and the abbreviated book of blessings are always on hand to ask for God's blessing and protection.
And all priest;s cars come with this handy-dandy rosary holder complete with mirror so that you can spot the Devil sneaking up on you. Not only does it remind him to pray on his missions, it is also there to be readily handed on should someone say, "I haven't prayed the Rosary in years. I'm not even sure if I have one anymore." "Here kid. Take mine. And aid the forces of good and unity wherever you go."
Yes, the car you spotted belongs to a priest. You have just encountered a priestmobile.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “’. . .[If] they kill us, what good did our resistance do?’

‘Well, it will have helped us to feel that we behaved decently till the end. And much more, it will have helped people everywhere, who will be saved for the righteous few among them, as it says in the Bible. Of course, Quangel, it would have been a hundred times better if we’d had someone who could have told us such and such is what you have to do; our plan is this and this. But if there had been such a man in Germany, then Hitler would never have come to power in 1933. As it was, we all acted alone, we were caught alone, and every one of us will have to die alone. But that doesn’t mean that we ARE alone, Quangel, or that our deaths will be in vain. Nothing in this world is done in vain, and since we are fighting for justice against brutality, we are bound to prevail in the end.’

‘And what good will that do us, down in our graves?’

‘Quangel, I ask you! Would you rather live for an unjust cause than die for a just one?’” from Hans Fallada's, "Every Man Dies Alone"


Speaking of such things, at our last meeting of the G. K. Chesterton Society we got on the topic of momento mori or "remember death." M found this from St. Mienrad's Abbey we you can preorder your casket. "It appears that you can order them ahead of time ("If the casket is not to be used immediately, the purchaser is responsible for its care,just as one would care for any fine wood furnishing.") Talk about memento mori: put one of these in the living room!"

The Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter reports, "The closing of St. Emeric parish in Cleveland on June 30th signaled the completion of one phase of the reconfiguration process involving 50 churches across the eight counties of the Diocese." It goes on to report that parish closings are only the beginning for the Vibrant Parish Life Initiative. Read more here.

Wayne sent in this cool site for Catholic T-shirts. Lots of quotes from Chesterton. They LOOK like the shirts younger, "hipper" people than me are wearing, but they the messages are far better. Thanks Wayne.

Ellen, who often pops by when we have a Chesterton event writes, "Dale Ahlquist told us at the Annual Conference last weekend that the next conferences will be in St. Louis, Reno, and San Antonio! He hasnt forgotten Cleveland, but it looks like it will be awhile before we can expect to be a venue." Looks like we have plenty of time to prepare. Thanks Ellen.

Someone wrote to ask if anyone can come to a Chesterton meeting. If you like Chesterton just go to the Chesterton picture to your right to see the readings and date of the next meeting.

Here is a 1:29 video of St. Peter's Square.

Monday, August 16, 2010


Somebody sent me an Email concerning their child’s idea of what a priest is. It absolutely made me day. In part it read, “So I ask, ‘what does it mean to be a priest?’ and she says, ‘they are in charge of the whole church, they protect all the people’. Which I think is a fantastic answer from my 5 year old and then she follows it up with ‘in case the whole building falls down on us or something.’”

Is that sweet or what?

Along those lines I was able to out and meet a new pastor in the diocese. He has been at it for about half a year and, as readers of Adam’s Ale know, I have been either administrator or pastor of Saint Sebastian for about two years now. He was just finishing up a wedding and I had a cancelled appointment so we agreed to meet at a half way point between our parishes to talk.

I remember when we used to get together and talk about how to save world. Burning with all of the theological and philosophical learning we had endured in the seminary we could not wait to bring Christ into people’s lives and aid them in becoming saints! We are loyal sons of the Church, confident that in bringing the Eucharist, the sacraments, and remaining obedient to the Church souls could easily be won for the Kingdom.

“Somebody crashed into the church building,” my friend told me. (This is not a photo of his parish building) “Do you have any idea how expensive that is going to be?” We talked about roofs and parking lots and operating deficits and how we are going to get by during this time when there is a moratorium on capitol campaigns in the diocese. Two hours we talked about such things. It is funny how both serious and utterly unimportant the conversation was. On the one hand, we have to talk about such things. We have to keep people safe by making sure that “the whole building doesn’t fall down on them or something.” On the other hand, in a thousand years our buildings might very well be dust, but where a soul ends up will be played out in eternity.

So we cut ourselves a break and allow the conversation to flow – salaries, tuition, parish policies, hiring and firing, the best kind of floors to have in a school, how to get people to turn off lights and close doors when the air conditioning is on and so forth and so on.

But a pastor cannot live on such a diet. So I have some meetings in which such topics are absolutely forbidden.

Such as last night.

It was the 4th or 5th meeting of the Saint Sebastian Chesterton Society. We usually have it out in the loggia but it was just too hot and muggy. So we held it in the rectory. It is a small by mighty group who devote themselves to reading and discussion of the “Good things men need to hear,” to quite Scripture. Granted, the title of the essay this week was “On Lying in Bed,” (picked out by our parochial vicar) but it was fruitful none-the-less. And I realize that we were able to enjoy this meeting in the cool of the rectory because the pastors that came before me had meetings like the one above to ensure that a rectory was built, air conditioned, re-roofed, painted, furnished . . .

Friday, August 13, 2010


This cross is called the Jerusalem Cross or the Crusader’s Cross. From last week you will notice that it is constructed using Greek Crosses. It was given to the Crusader’s by Pope Urban II as they began their campaign to reestablish a Christian presence in the Holy Land. As the Jerusalem Cross it came to represent the Latin Kingdom that was established there.

There is no absolute agreement on what all of the Crosses mean. Most of the time the center, large cross represents Jesus. The four small crosses can represent the four Gospels, or the four directions that the Word of Christ was to spread out into the world from Latin Jerusalem. The number 5 is symbolic of the five wounds of Christ and so taken together some suggest that the crosses represent the wounds of Christ.

At other times this cross is used by travelers on pilgrimages. The center cross represents the pilgrim while the smaller crosses represent those praying for the pilgrim.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


You never know what will capture people’s interest.

I have family visiting from Slovenia and we tried to come up with some things that would interest them here during their visit to the United States. They have been very gracious and have expressed excitement at the things we had prepared for them – but it seems that their greatest enthusiasm has been for things that I would have never prepared for in a million years.

“O look!” one of them said excitedly, “a school bus – just like in the movies!” Or another time, “Take a picture! An ice cream truck just like in the movies!” Who would have guessed that there were no ice cream trucks in the Alps?

A priest from Barcelona who has been staying with us on and off for last few months is moving on. One of his best memories of his time with us was stopping at a yard sale while we walked Sebastian. “I have never seen anything like this,” he said this morning, “it was one of the great things of my stay here. Well, a small thing, but a great thing too.”

Most of the people that I have deep conversations concerning their possible conversion to Catholicism have been intellectual conversions. These would be the ones with which I can relate the best. Historically, theologically, substantively I understand the overwhelming attraction to the Church founded by Christ. But you can never tell what will bring people to swim the Tiber. An emotional reaction to something, an appreciation for a kindness, the respect of another person, a piece of art, a movie, a bad reaction somewhere else – any of these things may steer someone down the road to Rome. For my Dad is it was a piece of junk mail that had little to do with the Catholic Church at all. Why? Because there is not a human being in the world that ever converted a soul. It is the Holy Spirit moving inside the person that accomplishes this.

We are always called to provide the opportunity for the Spirit to work but not to make God jump through our hoop as to how a person is to be converted. That is why we can be the best armed person in the world with answers to everything and make so few converts. Now, we should have answers, but having all the answers does not make the faith attractive to all. The first rule of thumb is to love. The second is to live it yourself. The third is to pray for the person. If these do not come first, your list of converts will be small if there are any at all. The fourth is simply to provide the opportunity for the Spirit to work (and there are so many ways to do this!) and when it does – to be there for the person. It may be a question that you can answer – or it may be something so out of the blue that you could never – ever prepare for it. “Look! There’s a school bus! I think it’s time to find the Eucharist!”

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


What do you think of when you hear the word “Church?” There are many different ways you could go. You might call to mind all the people, lay and clergy, who make up the Church. Church might be the almost Plutonian ideal of what we are to be – the unblemished bride of Christ that in its ideal practice is all that we should be here on earth. Some people think of priests and nuns and buildings. Finally there is the idea of Church as institution, particularly Rome.

Well, in fact Church is in some way all of these things and more. It has diverse facets because it has a diverse job. It is to handle spiritual things in a material world. Like an amphibious car it has to handle two worlds. So there are parts that are mysterious and spiritual and parts that are very earthly. Therefore there are those aspects to the Church that are loving, nourishing, and familial, and parts that are institutional and business like. In the first part is where hopefully you find the love of God and neighbor, in the second part you will find a mechanism for assisting the Church to operate in the world to bring that love.

Too many people look for affection from the institutional Church. Institutions do not show love. People do. In this case, God’s people do. Institutions help institutions exist. They are necessary for organizing one billion people. At the heart of our institution is both a man and office: the papacy – the oldest continual governing office in the world.

So, on the one hand, institutional Church has been wildly successful. But on the other, as an aspect of the Church that is worldly, it will disappoint the individual at times but that is mostly because we are entirely impossible to please. If I want black from the Church, my best friend will inevitably want white. (That was meant to be an analogy but even that could be applied to the color of vestments worn at Masses for the dead!)

To that end I get a chuckle when paying attention to the secular news. One the one hand “Rome” is seem as having too much say in the day to day operation of the Church. Rome needs to stay in Rome and let the Americas take care of themselves. Who are we? Children? Do we need “Papa” watching over us? The power of the Church is far to centralized and our bishops are but pawns.

That might be on Monday, then on Tuesday it will be, “Rome must act! It needs to come in and override bishops in their day to day operation of the diocese to (you name the topic) save churches – discipline priests . . .” Then if Rome does not act it “doesn’t care.”

Yet if not the most, the office of the pope is among the most successful governing bodies that ever existed. And though parts of this office of the Vicar of Christ are mystical and holy, there are parts that are institutional and are bound to please some and bring the ire of others. Fr. Benedict Groeschel CFR likened the Church to a great hippopotamus. As gentle and benevolent as it might try to be, by simply being so grand its littlest gesture might squeeze someone terribly and gain their indignation.

So when tempted to blame Rome for something (and it may or may not deserve it) just bear in mind the tremendous and often impossible burden it must endure in running a worldwide Church of people with different sensibilities, customs, and needs, balanced with governments, and primarily the Will of Christ and give her at least that much credit before bristling at the way she has chosen to act.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “Second, my dear chap, you ought to know that it doesn’t matter if there’s a handful of you against many of them. Once you’ve seen that a cause is right, you’re obligated to fight for it. Whether you ever live to see success, or the person who steps into your shoes does, it doesn’t matter. I can’t very well sit on my hands and say Well, they might be a bad lot, but what business is it of mine?” from Hans Fallada’s, “Every Man Dies Alone”

QUOTE II: “God does not ask us to be successful, only faithful.” Mother Theresa


Habemus sent this is: Six CFR Friars took their final vows and an online photobook was put together so that you could celebrate this great day with the community! Thanks HB! Here is the site.

P.C. sent this obituary in about a great priest that you might want to look at. Also, another parishioner is interested in helping the cause for Fr. Arcadius Smolinski. We are looking for a way to contact the person who is in charge of the cause. If you know it would be most helpful.

Here is a new music video by Josh Wilson called "Before the Morning" About 4 minutes.

The Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter realizes that keeping up with all the changes in the Diocese of Cleveland is a chore. How do you track a priest with whom you wish to be in touch when we have been moving around so much? Well, here is an update listing for you.

This minute and a half video sent in by P.C. gives me the chills!
Embrace life! Thanks P.C.

Here is a virtual tour of a parish named St. George. I wonder if I can do this at St. Sebastian. Anybody know how?