Thursday, March 31, 2011


Can you stand one more observation about Catholic music?

The other day I was up in the choir loft playing music on our organ that I learned as kid. Here are the words to one song:

‘Neath olive trees,

‘neath olive trees.

Dost know the heart that here is weeping,

Dost though the blood-stained tears recall?

For thee each burning tear He offers,

For thee the sacred rubies fall.

To cleanse thy soul,

To cleanse thy soul.

Behold the man!

With scourge the heartless rabble beats Him!

In streams His blood most precious flows,

But not a word is heard from Jesus,

In silence to His death He goes.

To cleanse thy soul,

To cleanse thy soul.

I was quite taken with these words and brought deeply into contemplation. (And I realize that is me. It won’t be the same for everyone.) And then later I had the opportunity to sing at Mass quite a few of the more “modern” hymns. Here is a sample of one of them:

In these days of Lenten Journey

WE have seen and WE have heard

The call to sow justice in the loves of those WE serve.

WE reach out to those who are homeless,

To those who live without warmth. In coolness of evening WE’ll shelter their dreams;

WE will clothe them in mercy and peace.

Now, there is nothing really wrong with this song though God is quite left out of the picture. As much as the first song is focused on God and what He does, the second is hyper focused on us and what WE do. Here is another from my childhood:

Jesus asks for loving mercy,

Mercy for His enemies,

From the heavy Cross He carried,

Prompting us to bend our knees.

“Please forgive them loving Father,

All who’ve made my sorrow greater.

Men offending You know not what they do.

Here is another more recent one:

WE rise again from ashes,

From the good WE’ve failed to do.

WE rise again from ashes,

To create OURSELVES anew.

If all OUR world is ashes,

Then must OUR lives be true,

An offering of ashes,

And offering to you.

I will give the benefit of the doubt that the final “you” is God. Now, grant you, you can cherry-pick the best and the worst from the old and the new and come with a number of complaints and virtues of the music of the times. There was some pretty bad stuff written in our past and some pretty good stuff in more recent times. It may also be the case that we ignored ourselves a bit much in the past and it is good to put ourselves on the spot and say, “Hey! Get to work! God will do this but He wants you to work on it too!”

That being said, walking down the aisle preparing to celebrate the source and summit of our faith, embarking on an intimate contact with our God with His Word and His Body and Blood and all we can sing about is ourselves quite misses setting us up for what we are about to do. “Lift up your eyes from whence cometh your help!” not “We are called to be spiffy.”

This was on my mind today as we sang for Mass and I just kept thinking, “Gads, another song about us.” So perhaps I am being a tad strong, but I don’t believe entirely incorrect. We are coming to the Supper of the Lamb, it’s His party, and our music should more fully reflect this.

It is not a matter of old verses new. Really good versus semi-good. The advantage of the old is that we have left behind much of what was poor and kept the better half so the pickings are perhaps better. The new has a fuller mix of the good and the bad. Pastors and music ministers need to be on their toes about the music that they pick. Just because it is in an “approved book” and everybody likes it and all the local parishes are singing it does make it a good song for Mass. “If your best priest friend sang that song while jumping off a bridge does that mean you have to do it too?”

That sounded funnier to me when I thought of it than it does typed out.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


In her March 29th letter to the editor of the Plain Dealer, Carol Poh, an historic consultant wrote, “The Cleveland Catholic Diocese‘s determination to remove stained glass windows from churches it has closed is morally indefensible.”

Well, it may be thought indefensible, but I will try anyway.

I think I understand Ms Poh’s concern. As a person sensitive to such matters I share her passion. There are some buildings, non-ecclesial, that have been destroyed for progress’ sake that still gets my liturgical underwear in a bunch. But as well intentioned as Ms Poh may be, there is a history to examine that does not withstand her hope for a future for those windows or buildings.

The church closing that we see now are not the first to happen even in this diocese. Selling a building, even to another worshipping community, does not guarantee anything. In the past stained-glass windows have ended up in bars, homes, restaurants, and any number of other locations. Pews serve as booth seating, lighting fixtures in taverns, and any other number of architectural items ending up in all kinds of profane (in even the best sense of the word) uses. Can you imagine being part of a family that has donated a window to a parish, having the parish close, and then finding your window lit up as a piece of kitsch interior decorating at your local Applebees?

Further, suppose the buildings stay empty for a while which everyone expects a good number of them to be. Only so many can be turned into art galleries and community spaces. If there are two churches for sale in a failing city with a dwindling number of residents and resources, there might be hope that the buildings would be sold, occupied and cared for. But twenty? (And that’s just the Catholic ones. Nobody seems to care about the other church closings.)

And what do you suppose is the first bit of damage that will occur on these buildings? Rocks right through those windows. It happened horribly in Detroit. Then they are simply lost forever. Will Ms Poh or her firm insure these windows? Will she make sure that they are never sold by future tenants to be used in a way that might be insensitive to Catholics? Will she or her firm make sure that they are repaired and protected? Will she buy them from their rightful owner? My guess is not.

In the mean time the windows are removed and are repurposed, finding homes in new church buildings and old church buildings that never had them. Is this ideal? No. Is it better than what has happened to windows in the past? Ever so much so.

No plan is completely indefensible. There are some that are more sensible however. And it is easy to tear somebody else’s plan apart without coming up with another and putting up the resources to accomplish it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “What I save I leave behind. What I give away I take with me. What I give away you remember me by.” I heard this and wrote it down hopefully correctly, but I don’t know to whom it should be attributed.

QUOTE II: “If all flies were only one fly, what a magnificent thing a fly would be.” Same note as above.
Lots of good impressions coming from many people about a new movie called "There Be Dragons."
Need a laugh? Fr. D. sent this in.
Will Facebook destroy the Church? Pat sent this article in with some serious questions. On the other hand there was recent article in the paper about Facebook depression. Maybe it will destroy itself first.
Interested in Catholic artists? Patty sent this site in.
Kurt sent this in: Interview with Julie Carrick this month on Immaculate Heart Radio. The question Why are You Catholic? Listen to the program at Julie celebrates 15 years as a Catholic concert artist with her release of the current concert program recorded live, "Living the Mass" available this week at
I am having ALL KINDS of problems with Blogger today. The rest will have to wait.

Monday, March 28, 2011


No, no cartoons today. Sorry. Not enough free time on Sunday to do it. But here is a story from last week all the same. This is the story of my trying to support Catholic art as I encouraged others to do last week. Fr. Pfeiffer and I had been talking for quite a spell about buying a painting of St. Sebastian for the rectory. It seemed (to us) sad that our patron was not really honored in this way.

The first step was to go on line and see what was for sale. To say the least I was not excited about what was offered out there. We were on the verge of going in on a place that reproduces great works of art for a “per square foot” commission.Then I found a painting by Mr. Eric Armusik on line. I was quite taken by the painting but could not afford the asking price. So I wrote to him to tell him how much I appreciated his painting though I cannot afford it. It was just great that he used his skills for the glory of God. Well, as it turned out I could afford his painting after all and so on one beautiful day last week, after hearing confessions at a neighboring parish school from early in the morning until mid afternoon, I started out for Hamburg, PA. (the next day being my day away from the parish.) I arrived there late at night and Mr. Armusik, his family, and I got to know each other and talk about faith and art.The Armusiks are a young family and very appreciative of their Catholic faith making for a wonderful evening, shocking me how late I stayed up – not being one to do so. “St. Sebastian” was brought down and unveiled and it took by breath away. I was honored to be taking it back the parish of St. Sebastian where I believe it will be properly appreciated. The problem was getting it there. Oh, the problem was getting it there.

Eric said that it would be absolutely no problem. A former boy scout and carpenter he was able to rig something up quite spectacular to the top of my car in order for me to transport Sebastian safely to Ohio. What I failed to mention was that I woke up on that Wednesday morning to snow. SNOW! I knew Ohio was expecting some on Friday at the earliest so I figured the weather would be fine that day. I was so wrong and had a sweater with me and that was about it besides a suit jacket. So I start off with snow with a work of art on top of my car. Starting down the highway my cell phone starts ringing.

“What did I forget?”

“You left your jacket here.”

“I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

As it turns out, the jacket would have been much safer in Hamburg. I pickeed it up and start off again now to rain. Rain like God was trying to use it up the rest of this year’s reserve because he was expecting next year’s to be delivered at any moment. I’m driving down the highway saying a rosary and looking up at the end and midpoint of each decade hoping that Sebastian was not moving around up there. Fortunately Eric remembered well how to tie his knots so Sebastian stayed still.

Then we (Sebastian and I) hit fog. Not early morning, “Isn’t the fog neat let’s go walk the dog in it” fog, not 1970’s “hard to see you across the bar because of the cigarette smoke” fog, but one of the 10 Plague type fogs. Driving like a 90 year old leaning over the wheel I could barely see a few yards in front of me. This went on FOR MILES. It was unwise not to pull off in the berm and just wait it out. But that seemed dangerous also. So I got behind a semi, the biggest, best lit thing to see, and stayed as far back as I could hoping that if HE hit something I could miss him and be fine.

Then the torrential rains started; the kind of rain that comes down so hard that using your windshield wipers is pretty much useless. Cars took all the available spots under bridges leaving me to keep on driving trying to see that inch behind the blade swipes that gave you a momentary view of the highway. Yes, I did think of pulling off and taking a room for the night but I would not be able to get Sebastian in and then tie him back to the car in the morning because I, unlike Eric, do not remember knot tying so well. So on we went. Then the, “Warning: Pooling Water” signs began appearing. It was at this point that I started figuring out that PA did not want this painting to leave it. Hitting one of these spots the car would be forced to slow and water would spray up on either side reminiscent of Moses parting the Red Sea only much less effectively. Putting my arm across the back of the seat, it was apparent that the inside of the car was soaking wet, especially my jacket that I had hanging from one of the ropes. The ropes were wicking water into the car! Of course at this point there is nothing to do but laugh.

Until the hail storm started. No, I am neither kidding nor exaggerating. Hail. Buckets of it. I felt like the tractor driver at the golf range racking up golf balls while the entire state of PA practiced their drives. I gave up hope of actually getting this painting home in on piece. Then there was this sign: “Ohio Turnpike – 9 miles.” Almost instantly the clouds parted, the sun came out, and my automatic lights went off. PA had lost and Ohio was welcoming St. Sebastian into her boarders!

Getting the painting home we hurriedly unpacked it discovering that Eric is as good at packing paintings as he is at painting and knot tying. There was a small scratch and that was about it and I look forward to him coming out to do a little touch up. In the mean time then St. Sebastian will remain in my room for me to selfishly enjoy. It was worth every soaking, PA moment!

Friday, March 25, 2011


This cross I see all over the place. It is found in cemeteries and table and altar tops, particularly in certain Protestant denominations. I even owned one once. Well, a crucifix one like this. But I never knew what the three steps were at the bottom. Where they just decoration? An artistic way to keep a top heavy object from falling over?

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


So why doesn’t God just wave His mighty arm and fulfill everybody’s needs? Like Lazarus for the Lazarus and the rich man Gospel, where was God? Why didn’t He send Lazarus help?

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


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “Grief tells us that we are not alone; that we are interconnected; that what connects us also breaks our hearts – which is as it should be.” Miriam Greenspan

QUOTE II: “How terrible to love what can parish.” D. S. Knight


N.B. I'm not sure if there will be a post tommorow. I will be on the road. We shall see!

It was warm enough to be outside without a coat yesterday but snow is rumored to be returning on Friday. If it must come, may it be as beautiful as the last snow we had. Here is a picture from it taken from my back door toward the junior high.

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


At the end of last summer I was sitting on the porch of the rectory reading with Sebastian my dog. I man was walking down one of the parish walks a few yards from me talking on his cell phone. He could not see me because the porch was screened in and the sun was shining on it. Sebastian, however, saw him and started barking. The man was talking very loudly into his cell as some are wont to do saying, “There’s a dog at this church! What is a church doing with a dog? I never heard of a dog at a church before. What do you think about that? A dog at a church!” So I called over, “It’s because this is my house.”
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


There can be a lot of symbolism in the Stations of the Cross, much of which you are so familiar with it may no longer even register. Consider what Jesus is wearing. It may be just in passing that you notice the clothing He has on but if it were, for example, green you might pause and say, “What on earth do they have Him in green for?” Of course, most of the time He is in white to symbolize His innocence though at times some artist will have him dressed in red to symbolize his Passion. What do the ones at your parish look like?

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


Can you imagine one day being part of the middle class in a safe middle class neighborhood planning on retiring there someday and living out your years playing with your grandchildren perhaps on the same playground equipment with which you entertained your children, and the very next day finding yourself living in what amounts to a third world country, homeless, wondering where you next meal might come from, not having adequate access to health care, and your land possibly polluted beyond use.

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



Growing up in a “Rust Belt” big industry town it was interesting to see how far reaching the effects were when a factory laid off a tremendous amount of people or closed down all together. The immediate and obvious effects are the people in town who are now unemployed directly from the lay off. But that is only the splash, the ripples continue far out into the community often delayed by time and a certain slowness death.

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


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “. . . If we want to follow Jesus Christ, if we want to be his disciples, we must enter into the Catholicity of Jesus Christ. Jesus is Catholic because he embraces all of humanity, and if we want to be what he is, we can go to him by embracing all of humanity. . .” Father Maurice Zundel, a Swiss mystic

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.


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


I remember my first assignment under Fr. Bob Hilkert (RIP). He was a great preist and good friend. One day he said to me, "Valencheck, you have beautiful handwriting. Too bad nobody can read it."
There was a complaint about modern day young vicars by an older priest recently. "They spend too much time on their computers!" he said. Another priest pointed out to him that where we relied on books, they rely on thier computers. "Their calendar is on thier phone, thier camera is on their phone, their breviary is on their phone, Scriptures are on their phone, homily helps are on their phone, recorders, GPS, books, music, Internet, more than we know is on their phones. AND they can even use them to make phone calls." So they were cut a lot of slack.

See how much this younger crew misses out on?

Friday, March 11, 2011


Perhaps you have seen a skull and cross bones at the base of a cross or even seen in paintings as being underneath Jesus on the Cross. This stems from the legend that Adam’s bones were preserved by Noah (apparently there was a lot of cargo space on the ark) and handed down to the priest Melchisedech who eventually buried them in Golgotha, a name meaning, “Place of the skull.” Legend has it that Christ’s Cross was stood on top of that grave.

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


The worst part is that they are so preoccupied that you can’t even give them the evil eye.

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.



Did your Lenten practice last year make you a different (better) person at the start of this Lent? Do you have something on which to build? Do you foresee your Lenten resolves this year assisting you in becoming a better person so that at the end you did not simply spend 40 days trying to be good like a youngster might in the days leading up to Christmas only to revert after the impetus to be good is over? If so, make it a prayer that God assist you in your endeavor. If not, rethink your Lenten resolve.

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


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “No early Christian said to his pagan friend, ‘You call him Sol Invictus and I call him Jesus Christ, but we basically worship the same God.’” From Christopher Check’s article “The Empire and the Early Church” in This Rock Magazine.

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.



ere 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


Of course any seeming connection to an actual person living or imagined is purely coincidental.

So after Mass the other day a man comes up to me and says . . .
As I was walking up to the front of the church to get to a microphone it suddenly occurred to me that I was wearing one as seen below and I could just make the announcement from where I was.
However, the sounds system had already been turned off.

So I went to the sacristy, turned on the sound system, waited for it to warm up, and then went out into the church to make the announcement.

Feeling rather proud of myself I went to talk to the guy who was trapped in our parking lot.
Little did I realize that, not only had I left on the sound system, I had also left on my mic from earlier when I tried to make the announcement from the mic I wear at Mass.

So I broad casted at length . . .
In some places they call it diarrhea of the mouth.
At least he tried.
I wish he'd tried harder.

Of course my imagination started going into overtime.

Now you think that I would have learned my lesson. Oh, not so.

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.

Yeah . . . Keep going and yucking it up. God will get you.

Oh how terribly original.

I hate technology.