Friday, December 30, 2011


Eyes are the window to the soul so they say. Perhaps that is why they are so important in symbolism. They tell you so much.

There was a parish in Cleveland that recessed lighting in its very high and flat ceiling. Around one of the lights a giant eyeball was painted. This was the eye of God that tells us He is all knowing, all seeing, every present. (Now that I think if it, that eye was kind of creepy, which is probably why I liked it so much. It has since been painted over and the building closed.)

The eye in a Triangle is a symbol of the Trinity. Accompanying it will often be an areola. If the eye is alone, it is usually a depiction of God the Father.

Where eyes are looking is often very telling. Eyes cast down might be grief, humility, or shame depending on the greater context. Eyes looking to heaven might be prayer, inspiration, pleading, or the eyes of someone seeing a vision (think of St. Stephen.)

Eyes directed at you means the painting or statue is trying to tell you something directly – even if it is just “be holy.” Eyes looking elsewhere are trying to direct you to something else more important. It might be to an action or a person that is supposed to be the focus. Of course blindness and the ability to see, whether real or symbolic are very important in the spiritual life.

Very little direction to where one’s eyes are supposed to be are given in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal. One direction that is given is in the Roman Canon (or Eucharistic Prayer one.) When the priest says, “With eyes raised to you . . .” the rubric states that the priest is to look up toward heaven. However, where a priest looks is very important during the Mass. A lot of misinformation can be given by where he chooses to look, so powerful are our eyes. For years I thought that the Eucharist prayer was directed to the congregation because the priest made such a big point about staring at the people as he said the prayers. In fact, almost none of it is. It is directed to the Father and we are supposed to be joining the priest in this action. Not even the phrase, “Take this all of you and eat it,” is directed to the congregation. We are reminding the Father what the Son said in order that God will make the bread and wine into the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus.

There are a few places that the priest SHOULD look at the people because he is directly addressing them. These are such times as when he says, “Let us pray,” or “Behold the Lamb of God,” or giving the homily or proclaiming the Gospel. (Though I understand it is difficult not make the wrong impression at times since we are standing face to face even when we are not addressing each other. But good efforts should be made.)

Eyes on a plate are a symbol of St. Lucy. Prior to her martyrdom she was tortured by having her eyes gouged out.

In iconography the eyes are extremely important. They are a window to heaven and as we gaze at the image of the saint, one should “look through their eyes” into heaven itself and contemplate things of God.

Much more could be written but this is just a taste (just think of what is done to eyes by Hollywood especially in spookier movies! That is how important they are.) But this gives you a taste (or should I say a glimpse?)

Thursday, December 29, 2011


A Catholic pastor that I know, a good man, makes the statement that he wants his parish to become the “megachurch” of Catholic Churches. This makes me sad in that it shows a complete misunderstanding of what it is to be Catholic.

Before I rail on him too much, there is some aspect to his desire that is laudable. He has a goal of bringing more souls onto the parish roles. He also has a deep desire to see what it is about other Churches that attract so many people. These people are going to other Churches for a reason – perhaps there is something there about which we need to pay attention and see if there is something we can make part of the Catholic experience in order to keep souls closer to the sacraments. This is all good.

There are a couple of points however that need some serious review. To begin with, a Catholic parish will almost never compete with a mega Church precisely because they are not the same thing. It would be like a city trying to compete with a state for numbers and recognition. They are two completely different categories of institutions. One is a Church, one is a parish. The local mega Church may have 10, 20, 30 Xs the amount of people than the local parish. It may have five campuses. But if we are going to compare oranges to oranges, the “local” Catholic Church is not a parish but the diocese. The parish is simply the particular worship space of the local Church. So in Akron, The Chapel is not to be compared to St. Bernard/St. Mary parish, but with the local Catholic Church which is the Diocese of Cleveland.

Another reason the parish/Church comparison does not make any sense is that the area of draw is much different. The parish is exceedingly limited. The megachurch draw is as far as people are willing to travel – or, about the size of your average diocese.

Lastly (at least for the purpose of this post) there is a huge difference in the idea of belonging. In the Catholic Church you are not just another name on the roles. One cannot just sign up and be a member. There is the expectation of discipleship, initiation, and expectation of becoming the Church itself, not simply being a member of an institution. You are Church and not a member of it the way you might be a member of the local YMCA.

You will find exceptions to every one of these. There will be the mammothly large Catholic parish some place. There are Catholic parishes that draw from far outside their parish limits. (This is the case even with St. Sebastian because of the extraordinary form of the Mass) and we all know individuals who use the Catholic Church as a service and treat it as something of which they are a member and not of which they are an essential part. But these are exceptions to the rule or at least not in the spirit of what it is to be Catholic.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “There was an evil in the world that God was powerless to combat without the help of men; a mystical partnership was being offered, stunning in concept and in its power to elicit the best in life.” from Michner’s, “The Source” (the perhaps “powerless" is not exactly true.)

QUOTE II: “There is nothing wrong with the love of beauty. But beauty, unless she is wed to something more meaningful, is always superficial.” from Donna Tartt’s, “The Secret History”


Frank sent this in:

The Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter asks, "Did you know, the Diocese of Cleveland and our colleagues at FOX8 produce a weekly half-hour long 'TV Mass' for the homebound Catholic community in Northeast Ohio? The Diocese of Cleveland's Mass is broadcast every Sunday morning on Cleveland's FOX8 at 6:30 a.m."

From the same source, here is Bishop Lennon's Christmas message.

There was an excellent presentation at the last First Friday Club of Greater Akron by Mr. John Allen, Senior Vatican Correspendant for NPR. The title of the talk is "Rome is from Mars, America from Venus." I highly recommend it.

E. L. sent this picture in from her perch at Mass at Christmas.  Thanks!

Finally some people have asked that this year's children's Christmas ryhm be posted. I warn you it doesn't translate very well to reading. It should be up at some point however on our parishe's website under homilies.

Twas the night before Christmas
And packed was the Mass.
Not a creature was stirring?
Not even a chance.

The cars were all parked
In imaginative places
For in the small lots
There were no more spaces

And many a wife
To her husband thus talked
“We parked so far away
We could have just walked”

All the people were stuffed
10 or 12 to a pew
Perched 2 to a chair
Such a crowd the Mass drew.

Each grown up was fussing
With some consternation
Trying to follow
The new Mass translation.

Fr. Pfieff in the rectory
Said gifts he was wrapping
But between you and me
He’s most probably napping.

And mid crying babies
And cell phones a ringing
Shuffling feet
And off key folks singing

Betwixt kneelers a banging
And noses a sniffling
And pleads to go bathroom
From the sniffling one’s sibling

When in a manger
Amid all this clammer
Was a babe born
In the humblest manner

Whom angels proclaimed
And shepherds laud
On whom the star shown
And ox stood awed

In Mary’s lap
With Joseph beside
I knew He’s the one
Prophets prophecied

The cause of our presence
Can you guess His Name?
It’s Jesus of course,
The Christ! Him the same!

Now think of the name
Of this wonderful day
We call it Christmas
“Merry Christmas” we say

The first part if Christmas
Is His very name
Keep Christ in Christmas
For it’s Christ who came

And lo and behold
The suffix (if I may)
Is M-a-s “Mass”
This is Christ’s Mass Day

He came here befriending
The world: me and you
Not just for one day
But the entire year through

In January, February,
March, April, May
Each Sunday in June
And July I dare say.

Through August, September,
October, November.
Which brings us right back
To this day in December

So in all that we do
From work, rest, or play,
Or opening presents
On this special day

Has a reason and purpose
and is full of meaning
for now heavens our future
and God is our King

So please remember
With the day’s each delight
The reason we celebrate
This special night,

Is Jesus, is Jesus
So at bed time tonight
Pray thank you to Him
With all of your might.

Help them remember
You moms and you dads
And pray along with them
That wouldn’t be bad

Then pray each day
That you might grow
To a friendship with Him
Your God – and lo!

You will have received
The best gift of all
A friendship with God
Whom we call Father of all.

So ending this now
(this fanciful flight)
Merry Christmas to all
And to all (who will actually get some sleep tonight)

Monday, December 26, 2011


Don't bother trying to tell me that people do not go to confession anymore.  This past week we heard confessions coming out of ears.  Of course, part of it was that we found out that we were almost the only parish in the area that were having confession the two days before Christmas and so we were a little inundated.  (That's a good thing I know.  We are very lucky.)
On the other hand there were a LOT of people I never saw before in my life.  When we were done I had to ask someone how they even found at that we were having confessions for they were definitely from some distance away.

The Christmas weekend went relatively smoothly around here.  Another thing that we do that less and less parishes are doing is have midnight Mass at midnight of all times.  But that makes for a late night (and an early morning.)  But it is so worth it.

Afterwards we have a little "after glow" to talk about the Mass and talk ourselves off of the high so that we can fall asleep for a couple of hours.
I think we were finally able to lock the place up and go join our families around 3PM.  The problem is that we have not sleep very much while our families are all full of vim and vigour.  My cousins always put on a GREAT spread but I am always so zonked trying to enjoy it.  It is a bit of joke among my family members how rough I usually look at the Christmas gatherings.

Food is of course followed by the opening of presents.  They are so very kind to wait for me before this takes place.  The least I could do is try to stay awake for it.

I find ways to sneak in naps during the day when I can.

There is a definite negative side effect however.  I'm just finally rested and ready to go when they are ready for bed.

But I would not change anything for being a priest in the world.  Thank you Jesus!

And God bless each and every one of you.

Friday, December 23, 2011


So what are we celebrating at Christmas?

The word “Christ” is easy to pick out. That is why we see so many people using the first part of this word to remind us to “keep CHRIST in Christmas.” The suffix “mas” may not be so simple. To some it simply means festival. So the word would mean “Christ’s Festival” referring either to the day or the season.

However that is not the origin of the word. Before 1150 Middle English the word would have been spelled in this fashion: cristmasse; in Old English Cristes mĒ£sse. Literally this means “Christ’s Mass Day” or the day on which one celebrates Mass to commemorate the Nativity of Jesus. Other similar words survive to this day. Candlemas Day is the day we bring candles to church in order to have them blessed. Michaelmas Day is the day on which we celebrate Mass calling to mind Saint Michael.

The Catholicity of this word is ancient and few people realize that they are wishing people a happy day on which we celebrate at Mass the birth of Jesus.


Thursday, December 22, 2011


Abusus non tullit usum.”

“The abuse of anything does not abrogate the lawful use thereof.”

Anything can be abused – even Christianity (at which point it ceases being Christianity.) Ideas can be very good an legitimate until they are abused. When someone abuses the idea the whole idea tends to be thrown out as suspect.

Take the idea of obedience. Citizens of the United States have a particular revulsion of this word. We know the abuse of it and so are on guard against the slightest hint of it that would brush up against our will. Because of this it is a difficult concept about which to preach or to assist fellow Catholics to believe in. Immediately one’s abuse antenna goes up and examples of times when abuses have been practiced on others who were too willing to obey.

Obedience cannot be mindless. Proper however leads to freedom.

A young person came to see me the other day and wanted to know about the laws of God and why we should obey them. I asked him what was one his favorite things to do. “Go on roller coasters,” he replied.

“What does the roller coaster operator say every time before the ride begins?”

“Put your seat belt on and keep your legs and arms in the car at all times.”

“Why do you suppose they say that?”

“So that you will be safe.”

So it is. We are obedient to this authroity in order to stay safe and so enjoy more complete freedom (as opposed to license.)  And so it is with God. As our creator He knows of a way we should live so that we remain safe, that we are healthy in mind, body, and soul, and so that our relationships remain healthy. When we disobey His laws we bring harm in some fashion into the world. We call that sin. So to be obedient to God’s law is to grow in freedom because we are becoming fully human.

It must be a thoughtful obedience however. Just because a priest tells you something does not mean you have to follow it. Search long enough and you will find a priest willing to tell you what you want to hear. It doesn’t mean anything unless the priest too is obedient.

God’s ways are not always discernable. Mary is approached by an angel and told that she is about to have a son. She is confused and concerned about the vow she and Joseph took in their marriage to remain free from relations. The angel “explains” that she will be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit. Mary then says, “Yes,” as if THAT explained everything.

Now, we hear this story all the time so it might seem natural to us by now. But in my way of thinking, being told that I will be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit explains just about nothing – and consider that Mary does not have 2,000+ years of having heard this story. But she is obedient to God.

In theory, Mary could have said no. She could have fought God. But in which scenario would she have been happier? In which scenario would she have had more freedom? It is a question young people discerning a vocation to the religious or priestly life often face. They are often counseled by well meaning others to marry where they will be happier. But if you are called by God, where will you find more happiness and freedom? It is a laying down of burdens that one does not need to carry to say yes to God’s will.

Of course, the question is “what is God’s will?” That is an answer sometimes easier to answer than others. That is why this is a thinking person’s faith. That is why obedience is not blind.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


This may seem an odd post for the last week of advent. This little thought was sitting on my computer in case of emergency - a busy day when I would not have time to post. This is one of thosse days.

When I was a kid and we drove past a cemetery we held our breaths and lifted our feet off of the floor of the car. I am not sure why but we knew if we could not hold our breath that long or hold our legs up until we cleared the cemetery, it was some sort of odious thing.

As teens we went into cemeteries at night to scare ourselves. If you watch a scary movie they so often end up in cemeteries. We create that kind of mystery and awe around them. One of my friend’s grandpas would say in an ominous voice every time (every time) we drove past a cemetery, “You know who lives there don’t you? Dead people.”

I hope you don’t feel that way around cemeteries. I was doing a committal service the other day at a cemetery, commending a soul to heaven, and looked out at the hill across from us covered with grave stones. I was not put in an eerie mood or felt a chill run up my spine. Rather it was more like looking at the graduation pictures in the hallway of my old school; all those faces who completed their time here and have gone on with great potential to live a life beyond the confines of that tiny school which seemed so big to us at the time.

I grant you, if you are missing the physical presence of someone due to death, a cemetery might break your heart – but it need not scare you; far from it. It should be a sign of hope – graduation monuments if you will.

Monday, December 19, 2011


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “A fool makes the same mistake over and over. A wise person makes a new mistake every time.” Author unknown.

QUOTE II: “If you don’t accept people for who they are, you start to have expectations of them.” Rev. Weigand.


A couple of you sent this very cute 4 minute video:

Lynn sent in "The Best Christmas Display Ever." I wonder how they can sleep at night.

A couple people sent this article about "A Formally Equivelant Christmas Cookie Recipe" Good for a hoot.

The Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter reports, "Catholics Come Home" is a national television campaign that will highlight many of the good things about the Catholic Church. Please know that during this Advent and Christmas season, the pastors and people in our parish communities in the Diocese of Cleveland have open hearts and are ready to open doors to everyone. Please join us!" Read more here and see a video.

From the same source: "The New Roman Missal for the Catholic English-speaking world has changed some of the language used during our prayers at Mass. One of the most notable changes is the application of the word "Consubstantial" in the recitation of the Nicene Creed." Read more here.

From the same source: "Have you answered the latest Diocese of Cleveland web poll question yet? This week's poll question is "What Mass do you attend for the Feast of Christmas?" Vote here.


There are two things that keep a priest going in the week leading up to Christmas:

1. The grace that comes from Jesus Christ.
2. Caffeine.

Not a creature stirring? Not even a chance!

Bilocation would be a gift greatly appreciated right now. If only I were more holy. This is the gift for which I would ask.

No longer is there the task of trying to get everything done. Now is the time to start wondering what you should cut loose and do without. It reminds me of my time in the theater and opening night is quickly coming upon us. The set is behind, costumes are not finished, somebody still does not know their lines, the lighting people can’t get in to focus lights, there is a scene that for some reason nobody can pinpoint is not working, but tickets have been purchased and people are going to show up so the show must go on.

It is either maddening or completely exciting. I’m not sure which. The next order of business is to put up the barbed wire barricades for the “children’s” Mass. It is rather like the sack of Rome around here at 4:00 Christmas eve (but infantly better.) Yes I chose to misspell that word on porpoise.

Sorry to keep it so short today. Christmas is coming you know!

Friday, December 16, 2011


Hair is very important in symbolism. You will notice, to begin with, that all almost all saints have it. There is a debate between Thomist and followers of Augustine as to whether there is actually hair in heaven. I prefer to think that there is and some day we will be reunited.

Loose flowing hair is often the sign of penitence. Think of the woman who wept on Jesus’ feet and then dried them with her hair. According to George Ferguson’s book, “Signs and Symbols in Christian Art,” this is why monks often grow their hair long – a sign of penance.

In much traditional clothing from years gone by young single women would let their hair hang long and free while married women hid their hair under scarves or fancy hats. In a similar fashion many virgin saints are depicted with the same long flowing hair. Hair that is flowing and distressed, hanging over the face is a sign of great sorrow or distress.

Grey hair may be a sing of age, but it is also a symbol of wisdom. A beard is also a symbol of wisdom which is why a “lack beard” was considered someone not to be taken too seriously or at least who is young. It is interesting however that at times diocesan clergy were discouraged from having facial hair though certain orders made it a rather important tradition.

To pull at one’s hair is a symbol of great distress. To have one’s hair pulled or beard plucked is a sign of the greatest disrespect.
The way hair is cut may be very important. To have a shaved head might be a sign of a vow. A tonsure, the shaving of the head at the crown, is also a sign that a vow has been taken which is why you will see monks with that peculiar “forced” male balding pattern on their head.

A radical change in hair can mean a radical change in life. Wild hair is the symbol of evil intent or an unkempt mind. If a devil is depicted with hair it is usually in some sort of exaggerated state. It may be luscious, fully, and somewhat wild, or show evidence of a severe retreat (and be somewhat greasy) or he might be bald altogether – not because of a vow, but because his lifestyle caused it.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


I realize that today might have limited appeal.  But there may be those who find it helpful.  This is a personal review of two of the new Roman Missals recently printed and put to the test.
The above book is from LTP.  It was our first choice back when we were only given a sample page or two from each of the companies.  I like very much that they used original art with a certain amount of symbolism involved and a vast step above the Playschool symbols to which we have been subjected over the past years.  The cover of the book looks noble, the paper was glare free and for the most part easy to read and follow.

However, as you can see above, the gold on the cover is severely worn off after just three weeks of use.  Below is a book that has been in hard use for three years and the cover, for the most part, is still in decent condition.  I found this very disappointing.  The book also does not lay flat and worst of all, the tabs meant for easy navigation of the book during the Mass are placed such that when one uses them to flip to the section that one desires, there is then need to flip BACK one page.  But not all of the time.  That is an annoyance and an inconsistency that prompted me to try another company.

 Below is the Catholic Book Publishers who did the above book.  I found the above book to be of the highest quality but lacked much (to my mind) in the way of beauty (which was why I originally went with LTP.)  I used the new one for the first time this morning at the school Mass.  The servers were present at the unwrapping and immediately liked it for various reasons.

For personal taste reasons I am not excited about the artwork on the cover though it does symbolize well what the book is about.  The tabs are much better placed and take you directly to where you need to go without any additional flipping. 

I've heard some guys complaining about the fancy first letter of each section but I like it.  If I should look away for a moment my eyes comes right back to where I need to be and it is due to the letters giving me a reference spot.

It is well laid out and there is no glare on the pages.  The font is easy to read.  I am not over excited about the artwork but it could be far, far worse. 
Below the CBP and LTP are placed side by side respectfully.  Notice that the LTP pages come all the way down almost to the edge of the cover.  This makes for the pages to be more easily damaged and indeed they were damaged in shipping even before we got our hands on it.  An edge also makes it easier for the severs to hold.  There is also the nice gold design on the inside edge that made the servers this morning ooh and ahh.

It is difficult to tell from the below picture but the LTP ribbons are quite thin compared to the amount of pages that they are required to turn causing them to slip out more easily than the broader ribbons in the CBP.
Below is a memorial Missal which we will use only a very special occasions.  It was given in memory of one of our parishioners by her friends.  (It was very expensive.)  It was put out by the Midwest Theological Forum.  They also put out less expensive volumes.  We have an all Latin text from them donated by Fr. M. in our chapel that they produced.  The bindings seems very good, the books lay flat, the have broad ribbons, the text, paper, and lay out make them easier to read.  The book has a noble simplicity about it and it has a goodly amount of space from the edge of the cover to where the pages begin.

If I had one complaint it would be that, although I very much like the art work and appreciate what they used, if I had my druthers I wish they would have used some current artists who are producing (IMHO) good liturgical art in order to support our artists and encourage new Catholic art to be produced.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


So to which saints do you pray? How do you pick them? Or did they pick you?

There are some easy ways to pick saints to be your patron. The most obvious is taking on a saint that has your name. I was named after John the Evangelist and I still have the eagle medal that was placed on me as an infant. I was also named after my grandpas and my middle is Anthony so he is on my list.

Another way to find a saint if you are unfortunate enough to have a name that does not even remotely sound like a saint’s name is to find one who is patron saint of something that is important to you. A couple of years ago St. John Vianney was made patron of all priests and so of course he was added to my list.

After this we start looking for saints who have chosen us. Is there a saint’s day for the day you were born? (Saint Bartholomew) I was harangued for a long time by my classmate Fr. Bline for not knowing and celebrating the day I was baptized. I struck out lucky there. There are two saints; Cosmas and Damian.

Your parish might provide a handy patron for you for that saint is patron not just of the parish property but of the entire parish boundaries and all who call that parish home. I have come to know and love St. Sebastian, my current parish patron, and still call to mind my previous parish patrons of St. Clare and St. Ambrose. We got to be pretty good friends while I was with them.

How about the saint that is celebrated on a day that something special happened to you and for which you would like extra graces? How about the day you were married or got a new job or moved into your home? St. Leo the Great was the saint who was celebrated the day I received my pastorate at St. Sebastian and the celebration was on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Don’t forget your patron from your confirmation if you took a confirmation name. Mine is Joseph both for my home pastor and for the foster father of Jesus. It is not customary any more to take names at ordination but a few of us did. St. Michael was mine for deaconate and St. George for priesthood. Svete Juri (I know I misspelled that) or Saint George was the patron of the parish and village from which the Valencheck side of the family came in Slovenija. Maybe you could adopt a patron of your marriage or single vocation (or dating . . . )

Of course there may be people you just like and want to make your friends. John Paul is one of these. A couple were thrown in my lap (by Adoro) such as St. Gabriel and Saint Gregory the Great. And I have a few hopefuls that I pray for such as Frank Pareter (sp?), G. K. Chesterton, and Baraga just because they are so very cool.

Of course you could just go to this SAINT'S NAME GENERATOR.  It gave me St. Cosmos.  Already had him

There are saints out there for you. You don’t have to be elaborate. A simple daily “pray for me” will suffice or a once a year blow out prayer on the feast day if you are afraid of taking on a deeper devotion. Get to know these guys. They have great stories and make wonderful friends to call upon.

Monday, December 12, 2011


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "You suffer from the same dillusion most men in your profession suffer from.  You want the intitution to show you affection.  Institutions don't show affection; people show affection."  Unknown

QUOTE II:  "A person not willing to have thier heart broken is barely alive."  from Andrew O'Hagan's, "Be Near Me."


TM sent this in for a good 7 minute laugh:

News from the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter - This is important I think:  "Cleveland Bishop Richard Lennon at his annual address to the First Friday Club of Cleveland expressed a major concern of the Catholic Bishops. The Bishops in the United States believe that the Federal Government is attempting to secularize society and eliminate Freedom of Religion." Read more and see the video here.

From the same source:  "This week, visitors to the home page of the Diocese of Cleveland web site may have noticed a web poll question box located in the right hand column. This newly added feature will give the web site visitor an opportunity to respond to a question asked by the Diocesan Communications Department." See more here.

LB sent this four minute video in:

S. S. sent this in:  "Check out this link asking about a new slogan for the Ohio license plates."  Just in case it is true I sent mine in.  Find out more here.


By and large the transition to the new translations have been rolling out rather well in these parts. There have been a couple of hic-ups on my part. I missed “prevenient” in my pre-reading and ran into it like a dog I once was taking care of ran into a glass sliding door when he saw a squirrel outside. I chuckle to think how priests all over the English speaking world are sounding like 5th graders in their public reading made difficult because we keep wanting to go in one direction and our eyes keep informing us that we should be going somewhere else.

I celebrated my first nuptial Mass last weekend. We spend so much time in our preparations with the Missal on the Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer #1) that not much else was given much attention and among those things was the wedding ritual. The priest celebrant and I were flipping through the Missal to read through the prayers before the Mass when we came upon a new rubric. (I was under the false impression that no rubrics were being changed.) The new rubric states, “The penitential Act is omitted. The Gloria in excelsis (Glory to God in the highest) is said.”

This was surprise. So we debated. “It is Advent – should we do it? But it doesn’t say, “unless it is advent – or lent for that matter.” So we did it. I think reviewing the rubrics (which were not easy to follow,) it seems to be prohibited UNLESS you read the ordo which says that ritual Masses may be said during advent weekdays (that are not already solemnities) which WOULD include the Gloria. (Time to call the liturgist of the diocese.)

There are also additional prayers that fit into the Eucharist prayers I, II, and III that were not previously there. So instead of flipping back and forth he copied the prayer and pasted it into the book. “So you say this prayer,” he informed me and I commented that I was glad my first wedding was there as I had two this coming week and I can work out all of kinks before I have to do it.

At this point the groom, already a little pale, came up and with a slight smile and nervous laugh said, “You guys are not inspiring confidence in me.” Poor chap.

This morning I had the Mass of Our Lady of Guadalupe. There is a part in the preface where there are a whole lot more choices than there used to be. I thought I had it down cold but I was concentrating so hard on the new words that when I got there it was a train wreck. It looks like this:

“. . . and to praise, bless, and glorify Your name (on the Solemnity of the Motherhood/on the feast day/on the Nativity/in veneration) of the Blessed every-Virgin Mary.”

Next time I’ll use a stick’m note. It was if I completely forgot how to read. I had to do it three times to get it right.

Is this what it was like during the changes following Vatican II? The uncertainty – the excitement of the new – new discoveries – breaking old habits and starting new ones? I am sure it was much more difficult then – and good – this is about the level of fun I want.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


First an apology for all of the ranting going on here lately.


Angela DelBrocco wrote last week in the Akron Beacon Journal’s letters to the editor that “it is not respectable or professional” for Catholic institutions to be Catholic. She then dictates what the Catholic Church is supposed to do. They are “supposed to employ and serve many individuals from different background and faiths.” This is true enough. But then to make the leap that Catholic institutions such as hospitals MUST provide services that are directly contradictory to what it stands for as an institution by mandate of law. This forcing the Church to go against what it stands for is not only anti-Catholic, it is singularly un-American. She makes the assertion that if somebody goes to a Catholic institution that simply does not offer services such as the killing of her baby in her womb that those Catholics are “imposing” their “religious beliefs” on her but apparently it does not matter that she in turn is forcing her beliefs on Catholics. Catholics offer services and you can accept them or no. She, however, would force Catholics to, in essence, worship at her altar.

Wrapping the issue up in the cloak of “essential preventative health care” (another debate) she would demand Catholic institutions to teach, offer, and pay for things that it holds as abhorrent. This may actually seem Okay to her UNTIL the same tactic would be thrown back on her to force her to do something that goes against something she deeply believes in. It is a dangerous slope to begin sliding down and once it is in motion it is almost impossible to stop. Lost will be our ideal United States. This is an example of an unthinking mentality that wants to get what it wants now and however it can without thinking of the consequences down the road.


Today Denise Woods writes in the same paper against the so called heart-beat bill. It would restrict abortions to that period before a heart beat is detected so all of the “morning after” treatments to “cure” pregnancy could still be used such as in the case of rape victims and so forth. That the state would impose this law on women is “the most egregious violations of individual rights imaginable.” I wonder if she would agree with Angela above who would, however, not think it an egregious violation at all to force everyone around her to not only recognize her right, but also to protect it, promote it, and pay for it? I will admit that this purely speculation on my part.

Missing from this equation is the belief of Christianity for almost all of its history and continues to be so in the Catholic, Orthodox, and a portion of the Protestant Churches that abortion is the most egregious violation of individual rights imaginable; that a mother would actively seek to have her child done away with. Somehow seeing that person as someone with dignity, worth, and having certain unalienable rights is forcing religion on others but being able to declare life that is singularly human and will be nothing but human is nothing – a life that can be snuffed out with no more moral concern that having a wart removed - is not somehow forcing belief on anybody. Indeed she accuses anybody of supporting life as having “ideological blindness,” but I would suggest that she cannot see the value of life past what she can see and touch.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


There has been a LOT of press lately about how awful the new translation of the Missal is.  If you are an Adam’s Ale reader you know that I am very for it as are, I take it, most of my readers.  After all, the banner at the top of the blog proclaims this to be a place for Catholics “who are happy to be Catholic.”

But there has been a whole host of drones lining up to whine to the press how terrible things are.  It sports the usual line up of people who are invariably the first to complain about just about ANYTHING that the Church does.  Locally we can just about guess what is going to be said by certain individuals just by reading the by-line of the article.  (I suppose the converse might be said of this blog!)

Of course there will not be the headline, “The Vast Majority of Practicing Catholics Who Actually Show Up at Mass on Sunday and Support Their Parishes Are Either Thrilled with the New Translation or At Least Willing to Give It a Go.”  Nor will the headline be seen, “We’ve Found a Very Disgruntled Catholic Who Is Opposed to the New Translation.”  No, it is meant to sound like the very ground itself is swelling up in revolt.

Some things are going to happen: it is going to snow in northeast Ohio, Cleveland sports teams are not going to win any national honors, and the Catholic Church which has the job of trying to help over a billion people get to heaven is going to do something that you don’t like.  I don’t like the “dewfall” or the phrase, “Graciously grant” (I find it hard to say) but you know what – MAKE IT WORK.  We have to do it and it won’t help anyone get to heaven groaning over it.  You might even find you grow to like it as much as I do already.  Either that or choose to be miserable, but know that that is a deliberate choice. 

If you know of someone who is having difficulties, here is a great video to show them.  Thanks to Fr. B for bringing it to my attention.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “Belligerence = A trait ever cultivated by fools.” from Leif Unger’s “Peace Like a River”

QUOTE II: “Conscience was the traitor within the gates.” from “Of Human Bondage”


P sent this 12 minute video in about Russia and population growth:

On the lighter side, L sent this short video in about changes in the liturgy:

E. G. sent this in. It is a link to NPR debates about the liturgy and contraception.

P. Also sent this in: "The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently denied a federal grant to the USCCB for its work with victims of human trafficking, apparently because their services do not include abortion, contraception and sterilization. The U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is investigating this denial of funding. Read more here.

The USCCB recently posted a response to this issue. The full article can be found here.

Hello from Thomas Jones, Catholic pianist and HeartBeat Records artist! I thought you might be interested in listening to my peaceful piano renditions of familiar and beloved Catholic songs and classic pieces which I have recorded for prayer, meditation or just plain relaxation. My music is available for purchase either by downloading CDs or individual tracks, or by purchasing CDs through my website. runs this interesting commercial:

Interesting: New Vatican commission cracks down on church architecture.

I lost who sent this in - The Catholic Thing

Give the gift of Chesterton the Christmas!

Monday, December 5, 2011


Sorry this is late and short today. Lots of business around here between Christmas coming and the diocesan capitol campaign going on.

So I was sitting here thinking what was the most interesting thing that happened here this past week. It is perhaps the thing that people have been asking me about the most.

This past Friday we had a karaoke night to HELP raise money for the organ project. Because we are having the diocesan capitol campaign we cannot really do a big ask so we resort to such things as this which I will admit I thought was going to be HORRENDOUS but which turned out to be quite a success (save for a couple of the videos I could have done without.)

There was one particularly interesting part however. It reminded me of that scene in Arrested Development when Michael Bluthe was going to sing with his cousin Maybe (sp?) during a similar karaoke event. The song they chose was Afternoon Delight not realizing what the song was about until they were half way through finding themselves in a very awkward position.

So a very nice parishioner put my name in to sing a song with her. It was from the musical Grease. If you are familiar with that musical it is about as innocent as musicals can be and is often staged by high schools – which might be Okay still, but if one is going to sing that song with a person of the fairer sex, one should check out the words before one sings it especially if that person is a priest vowed to celibacy.

In particular was this part:

He got friendly, holding my hand

While she got friendly down in the sand

He was sweet, just turned eighteen

Well she was good you know what I mean

Funny how the audience suddenly was paying close attention. Funny how my ears burned. Funny how I lost my voice at that very moment.

It just goes to show you: You can’t trust Broadway.

Friday, December 2, 2011


Though almost none of the Christian symbolism books write about it, the legs contain a lot of information for us. Very important symbolically in other systems, the leg is a passive symbol in Christianity; that is, we would not look at a leg and say, “Oh, this means . . .” but we could look at a leg to give us clues about what is going on.

Saint Rocco is usually depicted lifting his garment and showing the wounds on his legs, often with a dog licking the wounds. If we see bare feet with the marks of the crucifixion on them, we know that they belong either to the resurrected Christ or to one of the saints that were no known for experiencing the stigmata. If we see a man in shackles around his ankles we can assume it is somebody like St. Paul in prison.

Saint are almost always shown standing. It is a sign of power to stand. If a person is seated it most likely will be God on His throne or Mary Queen of Heaven or a else a great sinner on slovenly repose. If one is on their knees it is either a person in prayer such as the children at Lourdes praying before the Blessed Virgin, or someone under trial such as Jesus in the Garden or the prodigal son seeking forgiveness.

Bare legs are most often a sign of some sort of trial or sensuality. With few exceptions, most saints are pictured with their legs completely covered as if to say, “What I stand for is more important than my well turned leg!” Exceptions to this would be saints such as St. Sebastian in order to better show his suffering or Saint Michael in order to demonstrate his great power. Notice Satan, devils, and persons of loose morals are often showing off their legs. Rarer is the depiction of the Prince of Darkness in a long flowing robe, he is more of the miniskirt kind.  Other times he has not human legs at all.

That is not to say that nudity/the body is something bad. When it is displayed for inappropriate reasons, then it is a sign of something gone wrong in the world. But when displayed modestly or for noble purposes, it is a thing of exquisite beauty.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Sometimes I wonder how certain letters wind up in the letters to the editor of our local newspapers. Sometimes they are so misinformed and so lacking in fact checking, at times making such outrageous claims that, if printed as an article by a reporter in the paper, it would be in trouble and the writer fired. Not so with letters it seems. So I wonder, are letters picked that match what the paper wishes it could say or is it truly a case that nobody intelligent is writing letters to the editor? (I am limiting myself to topics of importance to the Catholic Church.) Could it be that nobody takes the editorials seriously anymore or simply that practicing Catholics don’t bother with them because they know how pointless it is?

This time we turn to a letter written Thursday, November 24th in the Akron Beacon Journal by Mr. John A. Denker entitled, “Personhood in the Extreme.” “Extreme” in this case means that it is too much to consider a human person a human person when a uniquely and indisputable human life is begun. I rather thought “personhood in the extreme” was giving personhood status to animals, plants, or inanimate objects. No alternative is given for when “personhood” should be applied to a person or any explanation offered as to why it is unreasonable to consider a human life as a person.

Without sighting any evidence, proof, studies, surveys, polls, or articles of any kind, Mr. Denker makes the sweeping statement that the “anti-choice crowd” is “pro-war, pro-capital punishment, anti-social safety net, and anti contraception.” Being that the largest sector of the pro-life movement is Catholic, I will grant him the last part. But as to the rest of his assertions, I will counter that Mr. Danker has not the slightest clue as to Catholic social teaching which is against war, against capital punishment, and it is the Catholic Church that has the most well thought out, oldest, and most “person centered” social teaching in the world. You will indeed find persons that might fit his scenario, but his assertions as a generalization are either mean spirited or ill informed.

His letter goes on to claim that the pro-life movement does “not care what happens to the baby after it is born.” Again, absolutely nothing is offered as proof of this other than what appears to be an illusion to a failed levy of some sort. Once again I challenge Mr. Denker. Not taken into consideration are the great works of the people of north east Ohio to take care of these persons and their families after they are born. There are institutions and people helping not only families that have chosen life, but we too take care of parents who have chosen abortion and are now coming to the realization of the horror of what they have done. A very simple Google search would have helped Mr. Danker come to this realization. Further, the Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Cleveland is the largest in the world taking care of the very people he accuses us of not caring about. They do their best not to turn anybody away.

Further, the largest charitable organization in the world is the Catholic Church (including nations.) The very group he rails so strongly against is the one group that is doing what he wishes they would. We not only preach it, we live it. I submit that handling a difficult situation is far more humane than his solution, which has been tried throughout the history of man and has always, always, always proved to do more harm than good: that is, strip a certain troublesome segment of humans of their personhood and then treat them as you will.

In a weak argument he states, “Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times said in a recent column, ‘contraceptives no more sex than umbrellas cause rain.’” This statement alone should cause one to give pause and wonder at the New York Times’ and Mr. Kristof’s position as moral giver. It does not even make sense. It would make sense if rain caused humans to become wet and umbrellas were invented to keep us dry. Then the question would be does having umbrellas mean that more people will go out in the rain. Yes. If one can have sex with the thought that there will be no consequences, will they be more likely to have sex? That is the question.

In the end Mr. Denker softens his position with the statement that he supports reasonable limits on abortions. His parameters are not given. He does not state when it is Okay to strip a human of personhood status and do away with them. When is that “reasonable?” How does one keep it contained once a human is able to be classified with a non-person status?

Once again I ask how is a letter like this helpful to the conversation? If we do not deal with real issues and only sling half truths about, the only result will be further division.