Thursday, March 31, 2011
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
Well, in fact it does have a name and a purpose. It is called a Calvary Cross, or stepped or altar cross. As a Calvary Cross the name makes sense since it was on Calvary that Christ was crucified. The steps going up represent the small mount that Christ climbed with His cross. Of course the steps are symbolic for the mount and the base of it, that which upon the rest is built, represents love. The step above is hope which Christ gives us in the great act of His, and the last, of course, is faith in which the Cross is planted.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Well, the fact is that He did. On the other side of the door was plentiful food. Even the rich man’s dogs had more than enough to eat. Unfortunately he never bothered to look outside of himself to see if there might be anyone in need. He was too concerned with self pleasure.
God does not do everything for us. He also does not want us to do everything completely on our own. He wants to work with us. There was a man in need and another man who was supplied with excess. It was all there. All that was required was the one with to give a little of what he had to the one without. By God allowing us to work with Him instead of just doing everything for us, it is we who benefit. How great it would have been if the rich man could have looked outside of himself, saw the needs of others, grew in compassion and generosity, and thereby became a better man.
We all have a surplus of something; musical talent, time, prayer, knowledge, strength, health, a pickup truck. There is always someone in need. God provides it all. We just need to open the door, see the person in need, and share what we have.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
QUOTE II: “How terrible to love what can parish.” D. S. Knight
IN OTHER NEWS:
N.B. I'm not sure if there will be a post tommorow. I will be on the road. We shall see!
The Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter reports that the Diocese now has videos regularly posted on Youtube. Go here for more information.
Have you ever heard the argument that we must allow porn if we are going to have a truly free society? It sounds logical does it not? Actually nothing could be further from the truth. In fact it is quite the opposite. Here is a great article to help you fight against porn.
Monday, March 21, 2011
I originally got the idea of having a dog because this is a very large house. It was built to hold a number of priests and some live in help. When everyone went home at night this place got very large and it was just me and fern. The idea of a dog popped up just to have something else animate and living in the house at night – preferably not a mouse. So then came Sebastian. Then two permanent priest residents. Then two priests who rent a room from us once a week. This summer if everything works out there may be two seminarians living here too.
And a dog.
He earns his keep though. Upstairs we cannot hear the doorbell but Sebastian can – and in addition he knows which door at which the bell rang. He’s awaken me at night several times to alert us that there is a night visitor either needing help or the police who said they were checking on a (false) alarm and wanted to make sure we were sleeping alright.
There are those who would rather not have a dog around and we try to respect that as much as we can, but he does a lot of ministry also. He helps break the ice. He’s introduced me to a number of non-Catholic people in the neighborhood who have always wanted to talk to a priest but were afraid to do so. They are less afraid to talk the dog first and then be somewhat surprised that I am there too.
I attribute some conversions to him, some meetings that might not have taken place, keeping me exercising, and for some sense of cohesion in the parish. In that sense he is everyone’s dog. He receives visitors, mail (THIS DOG GETS MAIL!) and presents at appropriate times. I feed him less and less because of the amount of people who come to the door bearing treats. He is asked about more than how I’m doing and when I have him at the door of the church on Sunday morning, he is always greeted first and far more lavishly than I.
I feel blest that he keeps me around.
Friday, March 18, 2011
As a kid I always liked the more complicated pictures that lead me more deeply into the story. In my home parish (a version found in many parishes) there was, in one of the first paintings, a little boy carrying a wooden box with instruments that needed to be carried along for Jesus’ execution. There was a hammer, a few nails, and a tool for taking out the nails once Jesus had died. Talk about, “. . . they know not what they are doing.”
Often artists will try to simplify the scene to its most basic element. As little is pictured as possible but enough so that it is unmistakably attached to a particular station; a bowl of water with two hands stuck in it, a cloth with an image on it. These don’t work as well for me. I still remember in detail the stations mentioned above but these I see, figure out like a puzzle, and then think, “Well I got that,” and move on. That is not to say that these do not work much better for others.
The ones that do not work for me at all but are held as dear to others are the depictions that have little to nothing to do directly with the station. “Everyman’s Way of the Cross” is one of these. Pictured in sepia tone would be a ramshackle hut with broken baby dolls in the front yard. I get it. It works for many people. Give me a station picture more directly connected to the Passion and put a collection envelop in it.
Anyway, the point is: engage the art. What is the artist trying to tell you? What are the symbols that you may have taken for granted? How can you picture yourself in the scene? Perhaps what even makes you roll your eyes? After stations make it a meditation to contemplate if you were going to paint/draw/create on your computer/commission a stations of the cross, what would you include? It is a great way to draw yourself (no pun intended) more deeply into Christ’s passion.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
It can happen. It happened in Japan this past week. I look out my window and think how fragile it really all is. What suffering there must be there.
Sometimes people ask what is the point of fasting – purposefully bringing difficulty into our lives when it so readily comes of its own accord. It is true that such disciplines might not benefit a person. Like poverty, it itself is not holiness but a pathway to holiness. If you are doing it to look good in a swimsuit as warmer weather comes upon us then it will not do you much good.
If you are doing it simply to be obedient to the Church law, then it does you some good, but not as much as it could. If this is the level you are at and are wondering why it doesn’t do more for you, remember if you pray the same way every time, your rewards will be the same every time.
There are a whole host of positive reasons to fast. One of the most important is self discipline that allows us to live in freedom. We do not need to reward and self-medicate ourselves to get through life. We can truly enjoy earthly delights without being addicted to them. Christ wants us to live in freedom. One way to do that is to freely give up what brings us pleasure to make sure we can. Perhaps if we should ever find ourselves in the situation that our brothers and sisters in Japan find themselves today, we will hold up better than some for we will know that life is survivable without every creature comfort.
Fasting should bring us out of ourselves. Don’t simply fast, let it lead you somewhere. At a minimum if you fast you should have time and saved resources. What are you going to do with them? Will you think of those who are fasting today because they have no choice, those who, if they stay up till midnight will not have a refrigerator to sneak down to have a midnight snack? The extra couple of dollars you have in your pocket from not eating – is it going to just go to something else that distracts you are will it lead you to an act of charity?
True fasting leads to prayer, which leads to charity, which circles back to fasting. Plan the path that leads you to holiness when next you fast.
And be thankful that St. Patty’s Day does not fall on Friday this year.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Ancillary companies that provided services for the factory that closed experience a loss of income and possibly lay off people themselves if they too don’t go out of business all together. Restaurants, taverns, and like small-town business that serviced those who worked at the factory for such things as lunches, post work drinks, or uniforms then feel the pinch. Since there is less money to spend other businesses start feeling a strain – grocery stores, movie theaters, family restaurants, department stores and the like. If it lasts long there is the problem of people moving away. There is less of a tax base both from the factory and from those who used to live there. Without the tax base, schools suffer, city parks, and city services are strained. Now, the charities that helped those in need find that now that they are needed more than ever, their traditional places of gaining revenue are gone and the problem compounds.
SO FAR I THINK THAT I HAVE NOT TOLD YOU ANYTHING THAT YOU DON’T ALREADY KNOW. What you might be unaware of is how these strained times effect the businesses that rely on your parish to be solvent. One of those general categories of business would be the arts. I’ve railed against what passes as art in many parishes for some time. Of particular disdain in my personal book is “art” being purchased out of catalogues. Not that I am always and everywhere opposed to this but it is at least a little disheartening that an organization that is supposed to be “Patroness of the Arts” is so enthralled with mass produced art that one in every five churches in any given diocese has the exact same statue of the Virgin Mary in it.
But I semi-digress.
We are not hopeless however. In spite of that the Catholic Church has still been a rather important player in the art world. But there are twin disturbing trends sprouting up from a rotting root that are the direct result of parish closings, mergers, population drops, and belt tightening. The first is the loss of businesses that produce and maintain religious art for the Church. Businesses such as stained glass art studios and the like are closing down at an alarming rate. Today, when looking at a finely crafted chalice from even 50 years ago, we take great care of it because they cannot be reproduced. By and large the artists either do not simply exists anymore or it is no longer cost effective. It is much easier and cheaper to produce one stamped out by a machine or using a technique that does not require the skill and manpower hours. This is a trend that is likely to grow making some of our stepped down art of today more precious since even that will not be able to be reproduced in the future.
The second disturbing trend concerns the art being produced. If we do not support artists in their trade they will create art for those who will support them. Right now you can go to any large museum and see a tremendous amount of good art commissioned by the Church for religious purposes over the centuries. Will there be much from today? Or will it reflect a more secular, vulgar world?
The solutions are not easy. There is a certain amount of risk commissioning an original piece of art. You might be able to return a mass produced statue or chalice, not so something that took months of a man’s life to produce to your specifications. There is also the obstacle of cost involved. Maybe we should not be in such a rush to have our churches “finished.” There is also a certain amount of education that needs to go on also stressing the role and importance of art in our schools. And individual Catholics need to supports artists with prayer, encouragement, and even through personal commissions when possible. It's a matter of trying or ending up with churches that look like a cross between a gymnasium and a family room and art that consists of posters of good art from days gone by.
So I am putting my action where my mouth is. Because of this diatribe there may not be a post one day next week. More on that later. . .
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
QUOTE II: “But what we shouldn’t change about this 2-millenia-old religious movement is its inconvenient refusal to forget the poor and vulnerable . . .” Tim Krattenmaker in an article entitled, “Why Catholicism Is Good for America” in USA Today.
IN OTHER NEWS:
40 Days by Matt Maher:
Worlds largest Stations of the Cross line the streets of Rome. See more on the story here. Thanks JP
In the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter the diocese responds to an article in the Plain Dealer. Click here for more concerning this: "In his February 23, 2011 Plain Dealer article, Tom Ott suggested that students in our Catholic schools fare no better than students in the Cleveland Municipal School District (CMSD.) While the test data posted by Mr. Ott is accurate, but very limited, he leads the reader to an inaccurate conclusion."
From the same source: Keep informed! You can now "fan" the Diocese of Cleveland on Facebook. (I actually have no idea what this means.) Read more here.
Hey! Take a look at this! I am so very honored!
Monday, March 14, 2011
Friday, March 11, 2011
I know, I know, many of you are saying, “Really? Noah? ADAM? Do you really buy that?” Well yes and no. What it represents and is trying to get across I absolutely do. Here are the wonderful connections between the first Adam and the second Adam. The first Adam’s sin that brought death to the world and the second Adam’s obedience that brought life to the world; the first Adam’s association with a tree that condemned mankind, the second Adam’s association that brought salvation. Symbolically what a lot of wonderful information is being put forth.
Do I believe the not the truth but the factual aspect of this legend? Is it not too wonderful to believe? Is it not too miraculous that even if true, that the information should make its way to us uncorrupted? I can’t send an alter server to tell the organist in the choir loft a message without it passing through several people; the altar server who in his haste only got half of the message who told the half deaf person that only got half of that message who told the person in the choir loft that was annoyed at being interrupted and didn’t really listen and who finally whispered it to the organist who couldn’t really listen because she was playing at the time.
So suppose it is completely a made up legend. Does that change anything? Does it change theology? Does it change the message and truth of the legend? What purpose is served at having to have the legend be factual as well as true (an obsession really only observed in the modern age.) So do I believe it? I say why not. It changes nothing and is much more fun and much more freeing and inspirational than having to be scientific in this instance. I can neither prove it factual or false but see that it still brings us to truth. Science will not allow us to believe it but faith will free you to do so. So I choose yes I believe it but with just enough reserve of doubt so that if science should say, “HA! You fool! See, I have proven that it only a non-factual legend,” I can say, “Okay. Fine. Thanks. But the story is still true.”
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
It is true that you can’t help a person unless they first realize that they have a problem. It’s like asking a mechanic to work on your invisible car. “Sure, I’ll change the oil on your invisible car. I just got a case of invisible oil yesterday. Psst. Harry; I’ll keep him occupied, you call the guys in the white lab coats.”
So the other day I’m driving down the highway and there is a car driving side by side with another car backing up all the traffic behind them going a little under the speed limit. Every once in a while the car in front of me would swerve just a little bit. Not a lot. But more than to be of no concern.
Finally the guy in the right lane moved so as to clear a way for other cars. Sure enough, on passing the car in question there was a person with their phone held against the steering wheel, typing away, looking down every few seconds and then looking back up – intently staring forward to asses where their car is – and then back down.
I looked over strongly desiring to mouth, ‘STOP TEXTING AND DRIVE” but the driver was far too preoccupied to be aware of their environment beyond text and the next 100 feet of road. So I can only imagine that this person thinks, “See, I’m a good driver. No problems! I can handle this.”
Years ago the following slogan was used for drunk drivers. I am to adapt it for this situation. I find it more true since at least when you are going to drive drunk, you are impaired in that decision. Not so with texting.
WHEN YOU CHOOSE TO TEXT AND DRIVE, SOMETHING INSIDE OF YOU STOPS CARING FOR ANOTHER HUMAN LIFE.
Today is a day of fast and abstinence. As you pass through the day, do not merely experience it but every time your body reminds you that you are not eating a handful of pepperoni as it would like, make it an occasion of prayer – even if it is lamentation.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
QUOTE II: “I have discovered that the bloodshed of a thousand wars is insignificant in comparison to the loss of a single soul, and that I am called – like every Christian – not to be an animal that cowers for safety from death, but to be the greatest saint that ever lived, and to set the world on fire with love for God.” Christine Klun in “This Rock” magazine.
IN OTHER NEWS:
HAPPY FAT TUESDAY EVERYBODY! REV YOUR ENGINES! WE ARE HOURS AWAY FROM LENT!
Here is something pretty cool and it has deep roots in the Diocese of Cleveland. "The Answer" is a mutli-media rock opera that will be performing at the next World Youth Day - and as a matter of fact will be the only "official" artistic event. From there it will travel the world. I know this because a person in my parish has been working with them. If you would like to know a little bit more about it, here is "The Answer"'s official website just recently released to the public. (It recently gained recognition and permission both from Bishop Lennon and the Vatican.
Here is an awesome new video from The Skit Guys just in time for Lent. Give it a go to prepare for tomorrow.
Eric sent this in. It is a live cam on Ferris State's Osprey nest. It updates every 10 seconds. Every time I look there isn't much to see but who know? Here it is if you want to keep tabs. Thanks Eric.
This site should only be visited today. (Don't torment yourself after today.) Happy Paczki Day! Thanks Frank.
There may be a lot of things we don't agree with Mormons about but here they have it all over us. Thanks JP for sending in this Washington Post article.
Here is Bishop Lennon's Lenten message courtesy of The Dioceses of Cleveland Enewsletter.
CK sent this in. Catholics: You really should at least watch the first video on this link! Do you think we still do not have martyrs? Do you think the world still does not need brave and radical witnesses for Christ? Think again! (I feel a homily coming on.) Thanks CK.
Speaking of martyrs, hammerkg sent this picture in of an altar of my favorite martyr. It is in Michigan. Thanks.
Here is an awesome 2.5 minute video sent in by an anonymous reader. Great for kicking off lent. I still don't have the kind of poise that this kid does!
Lynn sent this in, it is a 360 degree picturamma. It is kind of fun to left - right - up - down. Give it a go.
Fr. K sent this in. Of the monks featured here he says, "This is the monastic community that was one of the moments toward becoming Catholic. That was when they were in Oconomowoc, WI 1976/1977 when I was a Lutheran vicar (ministerial internship) at Cross Lutheran Church in Milwaukee. They are more remote now, in Sparta, WI." Here is the link.
Pat sent this in for a laugh. A minute and a half. Sebastian is "vocal" but not like this. I think that I am grateful.
Russ sent this in if you need a couple minutes of laughter on this Fat Tuesday. Thanks.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
So after Mass the other day a man comes up to me and says . . .
Do you see that little black dot on my collar in the picture above? It is an extra microphone used to help certain people who could use a little extra boost in hearing during Mass. I often completely forget about it.