Wednesday, November 30, 2011


You can’t have a bishop who is not bishop of some place. That is, there are no bishops out there who are just roaming around with no diocese attached to their name. Therefore Bishop Pevec is the bishop of Mercia, Bishop Gries is the bishop of Presidio, and Bishop Quinn is the bishop of Socia.

Interestingly enough all these bishop are also auxiliary bishops of Cleveland. They live and minister right here in the Diocese of Cleveland. The places mentioned are their titular titles. The dioceses are no longer in existence. In fact, the bishops are forbidden to travel there because then they would be obliged to take control and claim the see of the diocese. Interesting reason to not be able to go some place – I wonder how many other similar situations there are like that in the world. . .

Now, admittedly it is a sad a tragic thing that 50 some odd parishes closed in the diocese of Cleveland, but it is not historically unique. Parishes and schools, convents and as seen above even dioceses have grown up and then disappeared. At times, the faith of an entire country can all but dissipate into thin air.

When I was a kid my parish school had already closed (this is the very early 1970s.) My sisters had attended that school but when my time came they were afraid to take me so they closed the school – or so my sisters explained it to me that way. The next parish over had closed their school too and one more on the far side of town would be closed within the next few years. There is still one open in town and doing its best to survive. It was simply a matter of big industry leaving town, the baby boom being over, the nuns pulling out (because they were already experiencing a shortage) and the increasing cost; factors not so different from today.

I still mourn the closing of the parishes and schools in Cleveland. I wish they could stay open forever – the communities, the architecture, the art, the history. . . But this sad state of affairs cannot be viewed, through the lens of history, as terribly unique or unprecedented – just sad. This is the constant state of the Church and will continue to be as long as this earth endures.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “My own reading is all about divorce these days. All the books talk about “what’s best” – I have to think what’s best for me. People actually say these words to one another with a straight face. Nobody ever asks what might be best for the planet, or for little girls who get orphaned out in snowstorms. Nope, we are all individual solar systems, each with its own light source and climate and fenced-in backyard. But what if it turned out we were all in it together? What if Jake and I decided it might be important to behave with honor, with kindness even, to the world and one another? What if we thought our actions mattered? What if, at the end of the day, there is right and there is wrong, and they are not the same?” from the short story, “You Choose” by Linda McCullough Moore in “The Sun”


I want this guy standing before the Blessed Sacrament at all times! Sent in by F. S. - 42 seconds.

P sent this in: "On December 8th, the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception (National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, Stockbridge, MA) will launch the Mary app. A complete resource for information on Our Lady, the app is designed to help people come to know and love our Blessed Mother more deeply, so as to draw closer to Jesus Christ. The app is free and will consist of three sections: Marian Doctrine (Church teaching, plus FAQs about Mary), Devotion to Mary (rosary, feasts, prayers), and Mary-Plus (Marian images, Church-approved apparitions, shrines)." See more here.

16 minutes fun video from the Skit Guys:

Monday, November 28, 2011


So like that we went from, “and also with you” to “and with your spirit.” 
I was expecting something like this:

I was expecting a train wreck. I was expecting protests in the streets. I was expecting SOMETHING dramatic but it seems that the parish made an honest go of it and the whole thing came off pretty much without a hitch. So much for excitement (for which I am very grateful.)

There is a prayer that a priest can traditionally say before celebrating Mass. It goes thusly, “Priest of God, say this Mass as though it were you first Mass, as though it were your last Mass, as though it were your only Mass.” Even though we practiced, praying this Mass pretty much felt as though it were my first Mass. I was nervous, my nose stuck to the book, and slightly unsure of myself.

Most of the parts that changed belonged to the priest. Often is was like having driven the same way to work for 10 years and then one day going somewhere else and it feeling like the car was fighting you to go to your usual place of employment. The cadences and flow were off. It meant staying more alert than usual, reading ahead, analyzing, and keeping the ship on course.

By and large it went fine except for the blessing of the deacon before the Gospel. I had typed up a cheat sheet and kept it next to my chair for his new blessing. When it came time for the it I could not find it. “You’ll have to make do with an approximate blessing,” I told him when he came over for his blessing.

In the end it went much more smoothly than I expected. The reaction of people leaving was interesting. There were a few who said they weren’t exactly happy but that they would be good soldiers. There were a number of people who liked it for various reasons. Those who came to our parish from other nations said that they were very happy with the translations because it is what they were used to in their home countries. It turns out there a more people in the parish who studied Latin than I would have guessed and they were happy with it as well as those who remember their old missals for the new translation is pretty close to that old translation.

As odd as it may sound, it did not really occur to me that this is the translation that we would be using every day now. I was so focused on this weekend that I never really thought past to Monday and forever. Tomorrow will be another Eucharistic prayer and another go at it.

I can’t wait.

Friday, November 25, 2011


I don’t think as we went through symbolism that we ever touched on all the parts of the human body and what they mean.  So let’s get to the foot of the matter and work our way up.

The foot is the hard worker of the body.  It carries the weight of the rest of the body and is constant contact with the ground and the dirt, earthiness, and all things that fall to the ground (think of the injunctions to “cover one’s feet.)  It comes in contact with filth so that the rest of the body does not have to.  Conversely it may also be the reason that Moses was asked to remove his sandals before the burning bush.  He is told that the ground and which he stood was holy – God, as it were, thought to be connected to a place, and by removing his sandals even his body now is in contact with that which is holy.

That being said, most of the time to be a foot is a very humbling thing, certainly not one of the more glorified parts of the body.  So imagine the woman washing Jesus’ feet with her tears or Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, or John the Baptist saying that he is not worthy to loosen the strap of Jesus’ sandal; these are all acts of great humility and of great honor to the person to whom they are done.

In art when objects are placed under the feet of a person (picture the snake under Mary’s feet, or the dragon below Saint George, or a statue of the Resurrections with symbols of His Crucifixion under His feet) it means that they have conquered whatever those objects signify; they are even below this most humble part of this person for they have been completely set below them. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


The diocese is an evil empire. 

At least that is the way it seems to appear to many.

There is the good and wholesome parish that serves and tends our needs and then there is the diocesan empire, the overlords that could crush us in an instant if they so choose.

And why not have this vision?  It seems supported in our language and our practices.  It is even cultivated in the press.  In reporting there is a certain wedge that is put between the people of the parish which is something we can touch and understand and the diocese that seems distant and cold and mysterious.  “These people were happy until the “the diocese . . .”

Even we, as young(er) priests, were taught to love and focus on our parishes.  “Our parish at all costs” was kind of the way we saw it.  We were very locally minded.  So it was a paradigm shift to think of working together in the greater way as we are asked to do so today.  Recognizing our interdependence is a new (sometimes difficult) but quite frankly Christian objective.

But even I, unfortunately, use language that seems to work against this all of the time.  “The diocese did such and so” or “We have to because it is the mandate of the diocese . . .”  Just recently “the diocese” was preparing a report and for some odd reason that I appreciate the people in charge asked me what I thought about it.  There were a few sentences that said something about a parish not being able to afford something so “the diocese” paid for it.  There is nothing wrong with that sentence but its construction adds to illusion that there is some bureaucracy out there that just somehow exists and does things to us – even good things.

 “The diocese” that in this case came to the rescue was in fact you and me.  We are the diocese.  That cost was not paid for by some mysterious entity, it was absorbed by the greater diocese, all the parishes and people who live within it. 

The diocese as a whole is the local Church with the bishop as the head.  We are parishes within that local Church.  We are only as healthy as a parish as we are as a diocese and visa versa.  There are a dozen rotten instances that anybody could name that would go against this idea, but it is the way the Catholic Church is and always has been constructed.  It is part of our strength.  And I will grant that “the diocese” needs to change as much as the parishes to make this vision of “A” local Church a reality in the hearts of all – and it begins with having the proper vision and understanding of Church.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IF MAY BE FOUND: “Our planet has been so blanketed by the glare of artificial light that if you live in a town or city, or close to one, you will not see more than a handful of stars visible to the naked eye. The wonders of the night sky, the greatest show on earth, which our ancestors took for granted, have become only memories. The universe has grown dark and silent; it may be the most measured, and quantified universe in history, but it is surely the least known.” from Moyra Doorly’s, “No Place for God”

QUOTE II: I lost the exact quote and the reference but it goes something like this, “Artists are the reports of Beauty.”


Not one of their best but Okay Thanksgiving Skit Guy's special:

E. M. sent this article in about the Catholic Church purchasing the Crystal Cathedral. Read more here.

The Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter reports: "For over 30 years the United States Bishops have issued a document to coincide with the year leading up to the Presidential Election. This all began following the Supreme Court rulings legalizing abortions in the United States.

"The documents focused on helping American Catholics form their consciences as they prepared to enter into the election process, realizing that they had responsibilities relative to living out their faith in a way that would enhance our American society." Read more here.

P. V. sent this in: "In case you haven't seen the news, the company which was engaging in clinical trials to treat spinal cord injuries using embryonic stem cells has halted the research. The trials were providing no benefit to the patients. The company will now turn its funds to cancer research.

"This news is important because the media had made a big deal of it when the trials first began. Will this news receive the same exposure? In contrast, adult stem cell treatments have achieved at least limited success for some patients with this type of injury, but the media does not widely publicize such progress." Read more here.

M. B. sent this amazing nature video in:

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

P. V. sent this 4 minute video in concerning the pill RU-486. It may be hard to watch. Use caution. Bet this does NOT happen in the doctor's office.

Tim sent this in for a lighter video treat:

David Garibaldi: Jesus Painting from Thriving Churches on Vimeo.

Anon. sent this link to Saint's Books.

From the same source is this Catholic Books Blog.

L. F. sent this video in about Church music. Granted it is about Protestant Churches but it is interesting.

Monday, November 21, 2011


There was a death in Cleveland recently. Without getting into any details it was quite a bit in the news and there is, in fact, still an investigation going on. Every day I read the newspaper waiting to see if there will be any finality to the case. So far there is none.

A priest friend of mine had the funeral. It ripped him up pretty bad for it is a very sad story with lots of complications. What do you say to the family? How does one deal with the tragedy of the event and rectify it to a loving God when people are feeling so poorly?

It is an interesting thought that for most of the sensational deaths one reads about in the papers, there is a minister of some sort staying up that night praying (hopefully) trying to figure out what to say at the funeral.

The notification at the parish usually begins, as it did last week here, with a phone call from a funeral home to our secretary. My first notice of it will be the funeral chalkboard in the back hallway. This chalkboard has “Funerals” written at the top and often has things written on it such as, “Cleveland Browns” or “Indians” – not by my hand however – I like my teams. These will be carefully erased and more serious information written allowing everyone from priests, musicians, to those who work in the church building to know what to expect and when the buildings would be busy.

Such was the case last week when a funeral came in that was as difficult is one my friend had the week before. Generally the next step is to call the family and let them know we are praying for them and thinking of them and invite them in to talk about their loved one and plan the funeral. Sometimes these are joyous meetings, filled with great memories and hope in God’s promises. Sometimes they are tragic and difficult.

Vigil prayers are held during the calling hours. The calling hours is a time that the family very much wants to connect with their support group and it is always a blessing to me that they make the time to stop a pray for a couple of minutes. Sometimes this is easy, sometimes a challenge when those who want to stop by and pay their last respects are waiting in a line out the door in the snow or rain.

Then comes the business of writing the homily – the eight to ten minutes we have to remind people of their faith, their hope for the deceased, our God’s great mercy, the joy under our tears that we can walk out of this Mass with. Sometimes it is easy, sometimes it is not.

This last one was one of the more difficult ones. Not much was coming to mind. The morning of the funeral I woke very early. Making a cup of coffee and gathering all kinds of materials I sequestered myself in our study (dubbed the Chesterton Room) and sat down for a couple of hours trying to formulate some words.

The funeral actually turned out to be a buoy for me. Often at funerals people are so distraught (or they have been so out of touch with their faith) that much direction must be given. “Please stand now as we . . .” “Please be seated as the . . .” This particular funeral was chuck full of college students who knew their faith. They showed early for Mass. Some prayed the rosary, some made Stations of the Cross, they made the responses at Mass loudly and clearly, and no direction was needed to be given.

It was a terribly sad situation, but the faith of these young people filled me with such joy. What a blessing they were. What hope they gave.

Friday, November 18, 2011


So next Sunday we will start with the new translation of the Mass.

After Vatican II the book from which we read all the prayers of the Mass has been known as the Sacramentary. A cool name I think. But every wonder why the newspaper print book that many of you hold during the Mass for the readings or to follow along with prayers of the Mass is called a Missalette and not a Sacramentaryette?

Originally the book used at the mass was called the Roman Missal or “Missale Romanum.” (Hence the poor joke that used to go around that the only date allowed for a seminarian during the summer was with Miss Sally Romanum. Yuck yuck) This book contained just about everything needed for the Mass. With Vatican II the amount of readings were increased as well as the available prayers. To put them all into one book would have been crushed some poor server trying to hold the book. We would only be able to have weightlifters as altar servers.

The book was divided into the book for prayers and the book for readings. The book for prayers was called the Sacramentary, the book for readings was then called the Lectionary. (The Lectionary then being divided into numerous other books . . .)

Now I don’t mind one way or the other. It is simply stating the fact that for some reason yet to be explained to me we will no longer refer to the book containing the prayers for the Mass the Sacramentary. Starting next Sunday it is to be referred to once again as the Missal which in the long run fits our nomenclature much better. “Missalette” and “missal stand” will once again make much more sense.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


The deepest desire we have is for a person (divine or human) to know everything there is to know about us and to love us anyway. A person who knows we want to be good but that we are real stinkers from time to time; someone who doesn’t want to change us on order to love us (even for our own good) but just plain loves us.

All of us want to change at least something about ourselves physically, mentally, or spiritually. And perhaps we even want that person to make it possible (or at least give the support needed) to make that happen. But we don’t want it to be a condition of the love they have for us.

That being said, if there was one piece of advice that I would love couple coming to me for marriage often ignore (right after “go to Mass and pray together”) is to marry the person that they come to marriage prep with. Marry that man or that woman, not the one you hope they will become or that you hope to change them into. Don’t marry a hope – marry a person.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


A little less than half of all Christians in the world are Protestant.
Within that group there thousands and thousands of denominations each promising to have the handle on God’s truth. It is the great scandal of the Christian Church that we are not all one.

Jesus’ message was supposed to bring us together into unity. “That they may be one,” He said. Yet we are anything but when almost half of Christians belong to that segment of Christianity that “Protests” not only against the other half, but internally with the protesting denominations themselves. (And to be honest we often protest right back.)

There are two wrong approaches in addressing this reality. (No solutions here – just a couple of those things that should be avoided.)

The first mistake is not recognizing that there are any difference between us. If we do not recognize any differences then there is little impetus to work toward unity. An example of this would be Communion in the Catholic Church. It is not unusual for a priest to be upbraided for not giving Communion to anybody who shows up at such times as funerals or weddings. Before Communion I generally make an announcement which states that although we are honored to have non-Catholics with us and that they are most welcome, I may only offer Communion to those Catholics who are properly disposed.

There are those within the Church who are angry because this appears rude to them. “Can’t we all just get along?” No. We don’t. Then there are those outside the Church who are angry because they feel excluded from Catholic Eucharist. Of course they are welcome if they want to hold and believe what Catholics do. Most of the time there is no intention.

Yet if we glossed over this moments and pretended there was unity, what would ever change? What issues would be discussed? What reality recognized? It is this very act that has been the genesis for many discussions and reconciliations. Would they have occurred if we pretended our divisions did not exist?

At the other end of the scale is inappropriately celebrating the divisions. Rather than celebrating there should be great mourning and penance that the Christian Church is divided. Triumphalism and disdain have no role in the life of any Christian in any denomination.

A Methodist minister recently wrote this:

“[O]ur daughter has been asked to play organ music for today’s worship in her Chicago church that is appropriate for Reformation Sunday. In many Protestant churches, today will be celebrated in remembrance of Martin Luther’s posting of 95 Theses on the castle church door in Wittenberg, Germany October 31, 1517. Luther’s simple act is often regarded as the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.

“I have not asked a church to celebrate the Protestant Reformation in 25 years. I came quickly to the point as a pastor when I could not lead a church in celebrating division. We have been schooled to call it the Reformation, yet the division of the church into Protestant and Catholic was finally a failure of love. Why would Christians want to celebrate brokenness when Christ has called his church to be a sign of unit in the world? When people break off from a denomination or church to form new congregations, no one is sadder than Jesus.”

This is a man with whom you could engage in a conversation and perhaps work at the true issue of healing division within Jesus’ Church.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “What the world needs today is a three hundred pound, cigar smoking saint.” Dale Alquist at a talk about Chesterton and education this past Saturday in Cleveland

QUOTE II: “We all wish that we were Chesterton, but we are more probably like Belloc.” Same.


This past weekend a few of us from the Saint Sebastian Chesterton Society went to the Mayfield Country Club to hear a talk by Dale Alquist. It was a fundraiser for the Lyceum, a Catholic classical education high school. Our group has a quirk requirment for membership. We will only accept certain names and so our membership is Matt, Matt, Matt, Mike, Mike, Mike, John, John, and one Elizabeth. Actually that't just the way it turned out. We do seem to have a difficult time keeping ladies at our meetings. It might have something to do with the cigar smoke.

The presentation was excellent - here's a shout out to our friends from the other Ohio and western PA Chesterton Societies. It was great to see all of you for such a great event and at such a wonderful venue.

There is a cause to see if Chesterton might be recognized as a saint. This is an old article but might answer some of your questions. If anyone has current information I would appreciate it. Chesterton pray for us!

This in: "This is Martin from John Paul the Great Catholic University. I'm writing to introduce you to our new entertainment blog.

"JP Catholic's new entertainment blog looks at the film industry from the perspective of professionals working to make a positive impact. It will feature content from JP Catholic faculty and graduates who are currently working within the industry." See it here.

From the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter: "Did you know, the Catholic War Veterans of the United States of America is the only Catholic based organization whose membership is solely made up of military veterans and whose main focus is to help other veterans in need?" See more here.

No videos today.  Something is messed up with our computers and I cannot see any videos. 

Monday, November 14, 2011


Great is my dog. Warrior is his name!

To tell the truth this past week with a couple of notable exceptions, which will come up in later posts, was pretty office oriented – LOTS of sitting. Nothing great to report for the Monday Diary entry.

Sebastian however is having a banner day.

I was once given a lecture by my vet about how hard it is to be a dog. I rolled my eyes. “You have to understand,” he told me, “that your dog is alone all day, has to fend for himself, has to hold on if he needs to go to the bathroom . . . it’s a long lonely day.”

I roll my eyes. He has no idea. Sebastian, being a rectory dog, is a celebrity.

Last night we went for our walk and ran into a friend of his. Notice I say “of his.” From across town people stop and say, “LOOK! IT’S SEBASTIAN.” It reminds me of when, in the 90’s, I played Barney (shudder) at a parish carnival, stepped out of the rectory, in an ill-fitting purple suit, and immediately heard screeches of excited children coming from the four corners of the earth signaling the beginning of a stampede and had to run for my life. Such is the reaction to Sebastian. Usually after fawning over him and petting him and speaking to him in baby talk his friends MIGHT look up at me and say, “Oh, hi Father.”

I think people in general just know if they are in our neighborhood that they should carry treats in their pockets. I barely need to feed the dog. His friend last night brought him a bone as long as my femur. Of course he was ecstatic.

This morning I took him for his early morning airing out. He took off and caught a squirrel. Caught it! Played with it. Then he would not put it down. “Look,” I said, “I can’t take you back in front of the school with that thing hanging out of your mouth. You will traumatize the kids.”

He was absolutely full of himself – prancing around with – well you can imagine. Let me tell you, it is not nearly as cute as when he trots around with one of his plush toys in his mouth. All of a sudden even that seems sinister. Finally he buried the thing – VERY CAREFULLY.

Back at the rectory when people start showing up I say, “Don’t accept kisses today. I would not recommend it. Don’t ask why.”

He is well loved. People all day play with him, pay attention to him, bring treats. This dog is not lonely during the day. And today he got mail. Yes, Sebastian got mail. And it is not the first time. One of his VERY BEST FRIENDS was not able to be here to bring him his usual treat SO SHE MAILED IT IN. Sebastian went nuts. I opened the envelope and he grabbed it out of my hand and trotted around the rectory with it. Finally I was able to get enough of the plastic off of it so that he could truly enjoy it.

Such is the lonely existence of a rectory dog.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


A study from the University of California states that material wealth cannot buy happiness and that happiness cannot be found, for long anyway, in material goods. If one has money, spending it on experiences that lift the soul (my words, not theirs) such as concerts and education brings about some amount of happiness. Delayed satisfaction is also a good area to invest for happiness. Giving money and gifts to others, building bonds and community is an ideal way to use one’s money and receive back a certain amount of happiness in this world.

Now we know! I’ve always wondered and now the mystery of the universe is unveiled!

Now that I’ve got the sarcasm out of my system, the truly good part of this finding is this: faith and science should walk hand in hand. They are both seeking truth. When one is out of sync with the other then one needs to look more deeply into the matter. God made man and there is a way in which he thrives and others in which he does not. Faith and science are not competitors, they are pillars of the same objective.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


A man is released from jail with a felony conviction. He has been out of work for some time, does not have a great support system or savings. He comes to the Church and says that he has had a great conversion. His life is in order and has been for some time. He desperately needs a job and he wants to do something for the Church that has brought him hope and encouragement; that has helped him get his life together. Maybe he is even interested in the priesthood.

I cannot hire him. He has a felony conviction and I have a school. It would be illegal and I would be opening myself and the Church to a lawsuit if someone found out and even worse if something happened even if it would not have mattered as much if a person without a conviction had done it. And the Church is under such a powerful magnifying glass that we would most likely not allow his to enter into our seminary no matter how sincere he is. As much good as he has done, Fr. Carapi has made many in the Church even more nervous about “the great converted” serving in such a fashion. You would be surprised how often this scenario arises.

Most religious orders are not far away from this. Traditionally a convent or abbey could be a place where a person who could not quite make it in the world could go. Now most places want you to be well educated, of sound mind, of clean background, and debt free. Of course they do.

At the opposite end is disappearance from rectories of live-in help. Social Security brought that to an end. The Church is no longer needed to provide shelter and a modest income for a widow who was facing a difficult time. And now we probably would not do it because of the expense and the microscope of scandal.

In some ways, roles in Church life are quite limited. It is often not the bastion for those who need a place to be who can’t find another way to make it in the world. On the one hand this is good. I like to know that nobody working around children, who are among the vulnerable, who handle finances in the Church come from “respectable” backgrounds (all the more scrutinized these days both inside and from without the Church.)

On the other hand – where is the hope for the great conversions – the person with a questionable background (Saint Paul) or of questionable abilities (Saint John Vianney)?

We want both – I want both – I want to know that everyone in the Church is as capable and sound of mind and body as possible – I also want to give people the second chance or the chance to do something that the world does not seem able to give them.

What would you do?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “God attaches pleasure to the things He really wants us to do – that’s necessary for our survival. So it is a pleasure to eat, drink, sleep, and have intercourse – thought that is not the purpose. We are called to do it at the right time, place, manner, with the right person, and in the right way.” A lost the reference for this quote.


P sent this in: "Dear Fr. Valencheck, Five episodes of Fr. Robert Barron's series on Catholicism will be shown on EWTN next week (Wednesday Nov. 16 through Saturday Nov. 19).

Fr. Barron will be interviewed on EWTN Live (November 16) at 8:00 PM (ET). An introduction to the series will immediately follow at 9:00-9:30 pm. The first and second episodes will then follow at 10:00 and 11:00 PM (ET). Full program schedule (November 16 through 19.) For more information go here.

The Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter asks, "Did you know, this weekend and next weekend you could be an audience member for tapings of the TV show "Living Right with Dr. Ray"?

"Dr. Ray Guarendi, a nationally syndicated radio and TV personality will be tapings shows at the studios of Eastern Christian Media located off of W. 117th Street at 12801 Berea Road in Cleveland." Read more here.

J P sent this in. It is blog post at Young Fogeys that she thought was pretty good. Here it is - though I fear he is preaching to the choir.

Elena sent this picture over of a Slovenian at Octoberfest.

Less than 6 minutes:

Monday, November 7, 2011


Regularly stories are told about how families struggle to have together time.  Sports, school, work, extracurricular and parish activities pull the family in so many directions that they do not have time to eat together and the home seems more like a boarding house.

Rectories can be like that too.  The priests here at Saint Sebastian work hard at having dinner together four times a week and try to pray at least Night Prayer together.  You think that would be easy in a rectory but “it ain’t necessarily so.”  It is a fierce battle not to allow things that require our attention to creep into the dinner hour (and some is invariably chipped away.) 

This weekend was an example of how we can go most of a day and barely even see each other save for passing in the garage or hallway.  High schools, parishes, and retreats requesting confession and Mass help kept our cars and Mass kit in constant use; an old World War II U.S. Army Mass Kit that is built like a tank and weighs about the same.

Anyway, at the end of my first Mass, someone pointed out to me that I had two different shoes on; one very shiny and dressy, the other dull and casual.  My intent was to go over to the rectory and change one of them but became distracted by the grand opening of one of our new buildings called Forest Lodge and so went over there in mismatched shoes.

By the time that was done it was time for me to give a talk before the next Mass concerning the changes to the Missal that were coming up.  No time to change!  But I would right after.  Coming off of the altar Fr. Pfeiffer reminded me that I had only twenty minutes to make it out to camp to say Mass for a youth retreat and so grabbed the Mass kit and ran out the door only realizing that I had two different shoes on when I was half way there. 

I was not going to bring attention to myself until it became apparent that many of the kids would be sitting on the floor right in front of me at about knee level and surely they would notice.  So I thought to bring it up before they started whispering about it.  Apparently it was even funnier than I thought I would be.

Back at the ranch Sebastian was desperate for an airing out and I was to set up for the next Donut Sunday round and so we headed out without checking my feet again.  By this point I had given up hope correcting the problem.  A little break was had then before heading for the funeral parlor.   Time to change shoes, one now warm and the other cold.  But if this was the worst thing to happen today, it was a pretty great weekend.

Friday, November 4, 2011


 This is an emergency addition of Friday Potpourri.

Apparently we are having a concert here at St. Sebastian this Saturday night. Because of a series of miscommunications (nobody’s fault – working through some kinks) we failed to realize that the Akron Regional Chamber Orchestra (ARCO) is performing at Saint Sebastian this Saturday night.

So new are they that you won’t much of a presence for them on the internet. You can find their website here but the concert information was incorrect as of this morning. This parish, taking seriously its role as patroness of the arts, has given them space to rehearse and perform and so they have become an “orchestra in residence” and will be giving their first performance here this weekend. We would have advertised it like all get out but did not have the chance to do it! (We will do better in the future.)

The performance will be held in the Church at 8PM Saturday, November 5th. They will perform pieces by Mozart, Holst, Bartlow, and a selection from the movie “Mission.” If you think you might be able to come and support this budding musical organization but are unfamiliar with Saint Sebastian, here is a campus map. The concert is in the main church, building 1, parking lot P1. (Map is printable.)

Come support a new group!

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, November 3, 2011


A priest recently said, “people do not know how to suffer.”
That was a rather provocative statement to say the least.

Suffering has been the age old question mark concerning God. Why is their suffering? Why do good people suffer? Great minds have tackled this problem with varying degrees of satisfaction. I like C. S. Lewis’, “The Problem with Pain.”

Others have said, “God’s wrath and God’s mercy are two sides of the same coin.” That is, if there is suffering God is trying to use it to bring a person closer to Himself the only way the person might listen.

But what this priest was saying is that suffering, desiring, yearning, are all finger posts pointing us to God. We want something (or want something to stop) and so we can imagine something greater – a better world – a better way of being that seems to, yet seems to not quite exist here – but does exist somewhere. What our desiring is pointing to is God and heaven.

For example, the explosion of porn and porn addiction in our country, what is that really about? Men (mostly) are yearning for something. Is that something really just images? If you ask (most) men if they feel fulfilled by porn – especially after they are finished, you will receive a very mournful and emphatic NO! But there is a deep yearning there and porn can be a quick fix; empty calories to fill the stomach so to speak. The only problem is that it fails to satisfy. Afterwards men are left feeling even emptier (which may lead them back to the porn for more consolation, which make them feel worse – and a vicious cycle has begun.)

No real man really wants porn; they want something greater – something to fill a great need inside of them. They desire love, and communion, and a sense of self worth. Marriage can help this need. It will never completely fill it but it can last us for this life. That is why we have celibates in the Church – to point us toward something even greater. Ultimately these men sho use porn and all of us want – yearn for – that greatest good where we are completely and utterly loved and accepted for who we are and Who we can love back so completely and with utmost trust. As Chesterton said, “Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God.”

When we yearn, our eyes should turn from the thing we think we desire and realize what we want most deeply is God. Stare at the piece of chocolate cake for which you are not really hungry, and realize that you want the goodness of heaven which is far sweeter, far more comforting, and infinitely less fattening.

This is not a complete answer but gives us something to think about when we are tempted or are suffering.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


There was an interesting column in the paper the other day. It talked about some research in which people who were suffering pain were given treatment. Divided into to two groups, one group received fake pills, the other fake acupuncture. The group that receive fake acupuncture did quite a bit better than the ones that received fake pills. Of this, Ted Kaptchuck who led the experiment said, “Performing fake acupuncture is more elaborate than taking fake medicine. Being checked in by a smiling secretary, plus the professional attention, uniforms, even the paintings on the walls – ‘careful manipulation of such rituals could make all types of treatment more effective’ he says.”

It makes me think of Catholic rituals and art. The touching, eating, smelling, talking, standing, kneeling, hearing, singing, and soon, the elevated language, all these combine to make worship, for those who engage the ritual, more effective for the human condition. The whole person is engaged, inside and out, and thus the whole person is affected. We, like the medical personal, should pay close attention to ritual, not down playing it, not doing a cheap version, elevating our art to make worship more affective, not for God, but for us.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT  MAY BE FOUND:  "Friendship only is indeed genuine when two friends, without speaking a word to each other, can never-the-less find happiness in being together."  from Georg Ebers, "Homo Sum"

QUOTE II:  "Pleasure became her torment, for the sweetest wine is repulsive when it has been tasted by impure lips."  ibid.


CK sent this link in to the blog to BAD CATHOLIC, an 18 year old blogger who is Catholic and one who appreciates that beauty as one of the basic tenets of bringing faith to the world.

RB sent this video in.  It is a surprising take on the old table cloth trick.  I will admit I was wowed by it.

News from the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter:  "Recently, Cleveland Auxiliary Bishop, Most Rev. Roger Gries, addressed the First Friday Club of Akron and explained many of the changes that Catholics will experience at Mass beginning with the first Sunday of Advent, November 27, 2011.  We've posted short videos explaining the changes that will take place."  See the video here.

From the same source:  "On Saturday, October 22nd, the Most Reverened Roger W. Gries, O.S.B.  (Auxiliary Bishop of Cleveland) ordained 3 men into the Sacred Order of  the Deacon."  Read more here.