Monday, December 31, 2012


From all of us at Adam's Ale to all of you, a very Happy New Year.  May it be filled with many graces.
Due to the holy day/holiday the Adam's Ale offices are closed.  We will all be back and hard at work promptly on Wednesday or maybe Thursday sometime in the morning unless we decide to start in the afternoon.

Friday, December 28, 2012


I think with this post all of the mysteries of the church building are now solved (although one never knows.)  You may recall last week the picture of the mysterious holy water font-looking thing that projected out of the wall a little higher than knee height around which was built a bookcase. 
For a few years (when it was rediscovered) I had no idea what it was and then two weeks ago I stumbled across a mysterious door that seemed to solve the mystery. 
I was pretty sure I knew what it was but it was confirmed by Mr. R. Krause whose father designed all of the beautiful buildings at St. Sebastian.  He confirmed my analysis of the clues with this Email:
Father, I had considerable to do with the construction of the church. My memory is now in such a state that I do not recall much. I think that there was a holy water reservoir in the SE vestibule at which parishioners could obtain a supply of holy water. I do remember this: Father Byrider instructed me to devise a pamphlet rack for the north wall of the SE vestibule, which I did, it was built, and that is what is there now.

R M Kraus sr
So there you go.  Mystery solved.  Thank you Mr. Kraus.  I am a little sad that all of the mysteries of the building seem to be solved now.  Every church (and theater building) should have their quirks that make people scratch their heads and wonder. 
I remember my first week at St. Sebastian.  One of my best friends came over and we started exploring nooks and crannies of the building.  Unfortunately someone had thrown out everything older than a few decades so there were no finds lurking in an attic or basement box, but we were stymied as to how to get into the bell tower.  We knew when we were standing at the inside base of it, we could see it from the stained glass windows in the choir loft, but could not figure out how to get inside (and to the top) of it.  Finally the plant manager, Aaron, showed us how.  It is a rather convoluted route and the beginning of the solving of the mysteries.
The nice thing is that even though I write this down, post it on line, show people and hand on the information, sooner rather than later it will all be forgotten and the next guy will have fun trying to figure out what exactly are the mysteries of St. Sebastian.

Thursday, December 27, 2012


Happy octave of Christmas!  As the clock clicks away toward the beginning of a New Year (and since the latest prediction of the end of the world was yet again so disappointing) we might as well start looking ahead.  The following three topics are “Catholic stories to watch in the 2013” according to John Allen.

BEING DIPLOMATIC:  What will be the metal of the person sent to the Vatican as our diplomatic representative by President Obama?  Whoever it is that is picked will be very telling as to how seriously the Obama regime values a relationship with this city-state.  On the one hand it could be handed as a reward to a Catholic that helped get Obama re-elected – someone with little power and no real agenda.  Or it could be a heavy hitter that shows that the United States is serious about working with this small but powerful entity to bring about good in the world.  Only a deeper trek into 2013 will tell where this story will go.


FREEDOM:  Religious freedom will be heavy on the minds of Catholics this year.  We might have our feathers in a ruffle because we cannot have manger scenes or where crucifixes but that is not what is raising eyebrows at the Vatican.  Granted, these are sad things but we miss (in our little bubble as we tend to be in the United States) that in many places people are afraid of losing their lives over their faith, not just a paycheck. 
According to the International Study on Human Rights, 80% of all violations of religious freedom are against Christians.  (Not something you hear in the news, huh?)  The PEW Foundation reports that 137 nations report religious harassment, and Aid to the Church in the World, a Catholic Charity under the direction of the Holy See, reports that 150,000 people are killed each year for their faith or for carrying out charitable acts in the name of faith.  This will be on the mind of the Vatican this year.
GET YOU PROGRAMS HERE:  One of the things that drove me nuts during the papacy of Blessed John Paul II was the decade’s long reports on how frail and near death he was.  We should all be so blessed to have been able to work as hard as he did in our good health as he did in his poor health.  He was like a candle you couldn’t blow out.
Well, the same reports are starting to circulate around about our current pontiff.  Names are already surfacing about who might be the next pope. 
It was difficult for me to think of having a new pope when JP II died.  After all, he was elected pope when I was in junior high school and continued to be pope well into my priesthood.  It seems like Benedict is just getting started in comparison.  None-the-less, names are already surfacing.  Who will be the next Vicar of Christ – who are the shining stars that are put forth?  Chances are we haven’t the slightest clue who it will be but that doesn’t stop people from having fun giving a go at predicting.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


So no kidding; this is the Christmas tree in the St. Sebastian rectory and even though there are two priests and a couple of seminarians staying here - not to mention the couple of priests who will be visiting and staying with us next week - most of the presents under the tree are for Sebastian.  (For the uninitiated, Sebastian is my dog.)  Mostly only the tall skinny bags are for us.  For the young folk who may be wondering what is in the tall skinny bags - they are bottles of shampoo. 
Sebastian is pretty popular (and that makes me happy.  He does good ministry.)  So this past Sunday I took him for a walk during the 1:00 Mass as is my custom.
We were first stopped by one of Sebastian's favorite people in the world.
She pulled over and got out of the car to greet Sebastian and give him his Christmas gifts.
The poor grammar is not actually the above person's fault, it was the result of me trying to post too quickly and changing what I was going to say mid sentence and then not going back and changing it.  Ah well, such is life.
Anyway, no sooner does she pull away than somebody comes by to give him another present.
Apparently people drive around with gifts for dogs just in case they might run into them.  And while still talking to the second person this happened:
So maybe I looked a bit like Dickens character.  I must give her that much.  Below is an old picture of me.  I was dressed pretty much like this on Sunday so I suppose it could seem like I was in a play or something.  But hey, if it means people will stop their cars and give me hamburgers I'm Okay with that.
So there I am carrying all this presents, dressed like a Dickens character with the best looking dog in the world walking through the park in the snow - I guess it might have been a scene of sorts which is why this then happened:


Friday, December 21, 2012


So now its decision time.  What do these three windows mean?  Here are some conclusions gathered from your comments and from my resource books.  There were no difinitive guesses but you did help me shed much light on the mysteries of these windows.

To begin, what is that green thing at the bottom of this first window?  I was standing in the hallway at the time when a lady in the parish said rather matter of factly, "Those are figs" as though it was the most obvious thing in the world.  But you know what?  It seems to make sense.  The most common perception is that this first window has to do with things of the Old Testament.  So let's try to sew the whole thing together.  A snake (or serpent) is obviously something to do with evil.  Let us suppose for the moment that it is the devil from Genesis.  A torch (when it is not representing Christ or the Church as the light of the world) is a symbol of betrayal for Judas came after Jesus with "lanterns, torches, and weapons."  Figs are often substituted for the apple when symbolizing the fall of man because "they sewed fig leaves together for clothing."  The scroll represents the Old Testament and in the dove seems to represents the action of God throughout the church windows.
There seems to be common agreement on this window representing Christ as King and Victor over death.
Finally here we have the Gospel book and a lamp which is most often a symbol of wisdom and piety.  The dove is once again the action of God in the world.
So here is what I am thinking (wink'n and nod.)  At the least the three window represent the three major stages of our faith: before Christ, at the time of Christ, and the world after Christ.  We could take it a bit further and say the state of man mired in original sin, redeemed by Christ, and now living in Christ.  This might work since it is also just down the hall from what used to be the baptismal font. 
Anyway that is what I think.  With this final bit of information if you have any other ideas please let me know otherwise this is what I am going to put in my description of the symbolism of the parish.  Thanks for the help!
Now, here is a mystery that finally figured out but I'll give you a week to guess.  This one I am sure of.
I presented this a couple of years ago and nobody could figure it out.  It is obvious that these shelves were added later in the history of the parish.  Sticking out under the top shelf is a green marble block obviously built into the wall at about mid thigh.  It has an indentation at the top like a holy water font for dipping you finger in only that unless you are five years old, one would have to bend pretty far over to do so.  Nobody has been able to figure this out.  The best guess was that is was for people in wheelchairs but that doesn't make any sense since this door only had a ramp installed years after the building was built.
This past year I discovered this!  It is on the opposite side of the wall in the confessional (not where the priest sits but where the penitent is.
This is what the door looks like open.  Though it doesn't look like it here, it is several inches in depth.
This is the final clue.
Did you get it?  Answer next week.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


The last in John Allen’s top four Catholic stories of 2013 is the situation in Syria.  10% of the population there is Christian and the state of affairs for them there is greatly deteriorating.  It is increasingly difficult for them to survive as Christians and those who are able flee.  This whole region of the globe is an area where Christians are systematically being outlawed and rooted out.  The country is in general upheaval but it is the Christian community that are singled out and made the primary victims.
Over the past year the Vatican has made this country its top diplomatic concern.  The primary objective is to protect the Christian community there (Catholic and non-Catholic Christian alike) lest this country become “the new Iraq.”  This geopolitical concern will carry forth into the next year.
This leads us to the topics for next week:  There will be a post on John Allen’s predictions for the top 3 Catholic stories to keep an eye out for in 2013.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Continuing our countdown to the New Year using John Allen’s talk at the Akron First Friday Club concerning the top Catholic stories of 2012 we hit #3 of 4: Vatileaks!  This is the story of how the Pope Benedict’s personal secretary removed documentation from the Vatican and sold it to the press.  This was an early Christmas present for the world that loves a good story.  It was full of all the right details: The mysterious Vatican, high ranking officials in the Church, an insider giving the public sneak peeks at the inner workings (and some inglorious ones at that) of this rather unique city-state, and best of all:  THE BUTLER DID IT.
Be that as it may there were some interesting and somewhat controversial results of this incident.  The pope opened up the books of the Vatican bank in order to be more transparent to the world – to try to establish trust again in the Vatican.  What is so controversial about this you might ask?  Think of how vulnerable the Vatican is.  Rome has been sacked more times than bread in a grocery store.  We have fought “with blood” to keep this small patch of land sovereign.  Is the Vatican in any way compromised because it allowed “outsiders” to come in and examine its books?  In any event, this is completely unprecedented.  And, as John Allen made mention, when you are talking about a 2,000+ year organization that has gone through what the Catholic Church has gone through, saying that something of this nature is unprecedented is saying something.


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "When death strikes down the innocent and young, for every fragile form from which he lets the panting spirit free, a hundred virtues arise, in shapes of mercy, charity, and love, to walk the workd, and bless it.  Of every tear that sorrowing mortals shed on such green graves, some good is born, some gentler nature comes.  In the Destroyer's steps there spring up bright creatures that defy his power, and his dark path becomes a light to heaven."  from Charles Dicken's "Curiosity Shop"
Archbishop Aquila makes the plea that goodness should be the best response to the evil of the school shooting.  Read more here.
H. P. of the parish sent this in and asked me to share it with you:  "28 random acts of kindness over then next 30 days for the victims of the CT shooting. If I can get 100 people to join me, that's 2,800 acts of kindness in memory of those killed. I included the killer in that number. So much pain was injected into our world Dec 14th. Nothing will bring those who have died back, but we can (try) to make the world a better place in their honor. PLEASE, let these little angels work some good magic through us. You in with me???"
Matthew sent this in to help celebrate advent:

Monday, December 17, 2012


People often ask the question, "How long does it take you to write a homily?"  It is more difficult to answer that question than one might imagine.  It really depends on the readings, what has been going on the world lately, what is coming up (Christmas is a difficult one - there will be people there you've never or rarely seen and you want to speak to them as well as the usuals and be inspiring to both) and a host of other factors.  Another factor is how inspired I feel.  Sometimes there are so many ideas floating around that one is virtually drowned in the them.
In such cases it is more of an effort to decided what you are NOT going to preach on.  Only so many messages can be given at any one homily. 
And of course the converse is also true:
Trying to come up with an idea can be like trying to squeeze orange juice out of a baked brick covered in sand in the desert after a drought. 
Though I often say that the true test of a good homily only makes itself known weeks after it has been given, I still like to see what the initial reaction is after Mass.
So, sometimes the ideas come fast an furious and it really does not take that much time before you know what you are preaching on and how it will all come together.

And other times it is more painful, unfruitful, and time consuming.

Friday, December 14, 2012


O joy!  O rapture unforeseen!  I like to consider myself fairly well versed in symbolism used in the Church, but this past Friday I was schooled by one of you!  And that makes me happy.
There is a booklet at the parish that made a good attempt at unlocking the symbolic language used throughout St. Sebastian.  Going through it myself I found a few items with which I strongly disagreed with the author.  Further, not everything symbolic in the church was deciphered.  An example of this would be the three windows in the back hallway of the church which were posted last week on Friday Potpourri.  For a couple of years (seeking even advice from all of you) I have been trying to decifer these windows.  Nothing seemed to fit exactly.  At one point I had decided that the three windows had to do with the sacrament of confession.  The first window would be the passion and include the 30 pieces of silver, the whip, and Jesus' cloak. 
The second window would be the crucifixion through which He won for us the forgiveness of sins.  here is the Cross, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
And then, finally, the sacrament itself with the stoles etc.
The problem is, it worked, but not really.  The cloak did not look like anything Jesus would have worn in modern imaginings and the whip looked more stick-like.  The second window kind of works but it was a stretch.  The third window works but why two stoles?
Mary figured it out!  She wins the Adam's Ale prize!  These windows represent the traditional three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.  Diocesan priests do not take a vow of poverty but we are expected to live at the plane around which our people live.  The unicorn is a symbol of, among other things, chastity.  And the hands of the priest here are being wrapped in priest's stoles and connected to Christ's Cross joining their priesthoods as one - a symbol here of obedience to Him.  For her full explanation please see the comments on last week's Friday Potpourri.

We are narrowing down the mysteries of the parish!  Here is a set of three more windows that are rather mysterious to me.  Once again I have an idea of what I think they are but will wait until next week to see if someone can school me again.  God bless!

Thursday, December 13, 2012


The second of four topics in John Allen’s Catholic news year in review is the New Evangelization.  This new effort within the Church will be “the engine that steers the financial train” of the Church making this the most important internal priority in the Church.
Statistics are a funny thing.  It is said that 67.2% of all statistics are made up on the spot (that is a joke) and that you can make statistics mean just about anything.  But if we only look at the number of new adherents, Christianity is the fastest growing religion in the world.  Interesting, but the happy news is not great for the western Catholic world.  Catholicism continues to be the largest single religious group in the United States with Baptists coming in a distant second.  (Protestantism as a whole is larger than the Catholic Church, but they are splintered into thousands of denominations.)  However, larger than even the Baptists are those who consider themselves former Catholics.  Though 68% of those baptized Catholic as infants remain Catholic into adulthood, that leaves 32% that “leave” and we are not doing a good job of retaining or replacing them.
Part of the reason is we have become so terribly polite.  “I’m Okay, your Okay, let’s not talk about religion” has become the political fashion.  While it may allay fist fights, it does nothing for evangelization and the furthering of the faith.  Hand in hand with yesterday’s post, we are to stop focusing on issues that are not on the Catholic playing field and get cracking on real matters of faith and truth that enliven peoples’ hearts.  The fire of evangelization has grown cold.  It is time to wake from our slumber, shake of the cloudiness of confusing issues, and carry forth the banner in the clear light of the sun – to banish complacency and apathy – and to relight the missionary fire to warm those around us in our everyday lives.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


The end of 2012 is right around the corner and Mr. John Allan (of All Things Catholic fame) was the speaker at the First Friday Club of Akron giving his annual end of hear news roundup.  The first part of his talk concerned the top Catholic stories of 2012 and the second the stories to watch for in 2013.  Today there will be quick look at one of his top 2012 stories with personal commentary.  (More will follow.)
1)       The Crackdown on Controversy:  We’ve all been reading about the Vatican visit to our nuns and to our seminaries.  But that is only the tip of the iceberg.  The Church seems to be asserting her authority to be loyal to herself.  Perfectly understandable in any organization but the Church seems to take it on the chin when attempts to do so.
What is really at stake here, however, is identity.  Who are we anyway?  What do we really stand for in a (western) world that values so called diversity and tolerance?  Here is where the New Evangelization comes shining through – the effort to reinvigorate the truths (yes Virginia, there is such a thing as truth) of the faith among Catholics.   

Some cry foul ball as if they are being censured and no longer allowed to speak on such matters.  Anyone can talk about anything they wish; abortion on demand, same sex marriage, etc . . . the Church cannot possibly stop you from talking about this at work, on your blog, or even on television – but you won’t do it on the Church’s dime.  But does this not make sense?  It only makes good sense.  Who wants to belong to an organization that cannot even get its own message out through its own people?  So the Church has established what John Allen has given the name, “No Fly Zones.”  In other words, here is what we believe as Catholics and if you want to engage in these topics as open for discussion; they will not be done on the Catholic Church’s dime.  There is a place and a time – but not during times when authentic Church teaching is supposed to be expressed.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUNDThis week's quote is a bit different.  I've been reading the book of popular fiction, "The Best of Everything" by Rona Jaffe for my "for recreation" book.  In it a young woman is about to have an abortion after being pressured by her boyfriend whom she desperately loves.  The book doesn't just gloss over the event in a "now everything is Okay" fashion but grapples with conflicting emotions.  Here is the passage:
"In all her fantasies about unwed motherhood April had never imagined the efficiency or the speed with which alien forces would mobilize to help her.  With one half of her mind she realized she should be grateful - there were total strangers with hearts in this city.  Speed, they said, was important.  It was almost as if they were all talking about a diseased appendix.  Cut it out, cut it out fast.  Time is of the essence.  And with the other half of her mind April felt abused, about to be ravished, about to have something stolen from her which she knew logically she had no right to keep and which she knew emotionally she had to keep or something else within her, something more important, would die with it.

"Because she knew there was no chance she would be allowed to have this baby (unless she should run away, and where could she go?) every moment became very valuable to her.  She felt as if she were spending the last days with someone she loved whom she would never see again.  She would never see this baby at all, she would never know if it were a boy or a girl.  Perhaps it could have been a talented person, someone who would have done something for the world.  But all these were emotional thoughts, and the other side of her mind kept saying, You don't appreciate how lucky you are.  What else could you do?  It will be all over soon.  You'll forget and you'll be grateful that Dexter took care of everything."
Thanks to Frank for sending this in:

This article was in the last Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter:  "Are you a nun?" someone will often ask me at the grocery store. "Yes!" I'll reply. The conversation usually continues with a reminiscing of this person's days in Catholic school when he or she was taught by nuns, or a remark of surprise that nuns still exist (especially young ones!). I am often surprised myself by the excitement that I see in the eyes of people I meet. What is it about this encounter with a nun that causes these reactions?"  Read more here.

Go here to find a treasure trove of Chesterton's Christmas essays.  Thanks for sending it over Ellen.

Monday, December 10, 2012


Greetings friends,

There is not going to be a Monday Diary per se as there is a family funeral today.  My Uncle Fankie Spetich (of the Frankie Spetich Orchestra fame) passed away this past week and so time is limited today.
It was difficult to be Slovenian and for Frankie not to be part of your celebration.  He and his orchestra (also featuring my Uncle John also late of our company) played for countless weddings, club dinner dances, and community events while I was growing up.  His reach extended far beyond the city limits of Barberton but it was there that I was most familiar with his work.  As a child it seemed almost every week we had to be down at the lodge for a some event at which the orchestra would be playing.  I remember the haze (from the many smokers), the chicken dinners, and the gentleman throwing dancing dust on the wooden floors (one would probably be sued today if someone slipped and fell) when the dancing music was about to begin.
In later years he started playing at church for polka Masses for such events as the Slovene Open and Night in Slovenia Dinner Dances.  To top it all off (for me) he finally played for my ordination reception.  What a night.
Here is a recording of his music. 


Dave Brubeck (a favorite of mine) also died this past week.  He is a jazz genius who didn't really know God in his early years.  At one point he was commissioned to compose a Mass.  Studying the Mass as he would have to do in order to compose the piece he fell in love with God His Church and became Catholic.  Rest in peace!

Friday, December 7, 2012


I think three riddles have been solved concerning the church buildng at St. Sebastian. The first concerns the following three windows.  They are definately connected.  For the longest time I could not really tie them together mostly because of the middle window.  I think this first of the three mysteries have finally been solved.  Before I give what I think to be the answer however, I want to give you one last go at it.  I don't want to sway what you think by giving my answer too quickly.  My thoughts next week.