Tuesday, January 31, 2012


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: "From a human point of view, we may be tempted to surrender, when our government places conception, pregnancy and birth under the 'center for disease control,' when chemically blocking conception or aborting the baby in the womb is considered a 'right' to be subsidized by others who abhor it," said Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

QUOTE II: “Religious liberty might be supposed to mean that everybody is free to discuss religion. In practice it means that hardly anybody is allowed to mention it.” G. K. Chesterton


Joseph Pots writes, "I am a Catholic Youth Music artist responding to that "Why I hate religion but love Jesus video" by releasing my debut album in a couple days. Its not what you may think so please give it 1 listen." Give him a listen here.

C. C. writes, "In case you missed it, here are links to some of the coverage surrounding the HHS ruling on contraception mandating coverage:




And from the Washington Post.

The Diocese of Cleveland Social Action Office invites you to their site.

From the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter:  "Thousands participated in the 39th annual "March for Life" in Washington D.C. which coincides with the Supreme Court decision of 1973 legalizing abortion in the United States. Members of the staff and students from Borromeo and Saint Mary seminaries of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese participated in the pro-life event which ultimately seeks to change the nations laws to prohibit abortion." See the story and video here.

Monday, January 30, 2012


FRIDAY A fax was sent to the parish today from our bishop. It stated that “This week the federal government’s Department of Health andHuman Services issued a mandate which requires religious non-profits to cover sterilizations, contraceptive services, and some abortion-inducing drugs as part of their employee’s healthcarebenefits.” It went on to say that a letter was attached that was to be read at all Masses and stuffed into each bulletin.


I don’t know what stuns me more right at this moment – the blatant violation of the Constitution of the United States which is only a thinly veiled attack on the Catholic Church, or that our bishop is speaking out so boldly and quickly! I must say that it fills me with a bit of pride and excitement That he has done so.

This past weekend we celebrated the feast of Saint Sebastian and I warned the congregation that someday their faith might be put to a similar trial – particularly those who worked in the medical fields.

That day came more quickly than I anticipated.

How big will this be? Will it go out in a puff of smoke? Or will this be the beginning of a war on the Church? Will a bishop end up in jail? Will we have our tax exempt status taken away from us? (Given
in to this mandate is not an option.) I imagine much of it depends on the reaction of the populace that understands that any violation of the Constitution places the whole Constitution in jeopardy.

Wanting the parish to know that their pastor is also taking this seriously I yearned to make a statement right away. I went over to the church and said a prayer before the painting of Saint Sebastian. Tonight (around 7PM) before my next appointment, I copied and blew up the pertinent parts of the bishop’s letter, “We cannot – we will not – comply with this unjust law . . .” put it on parish letter head and stuck it to all the doors of the church.  I call the bishop and leave a message that the letter is great.

This comes to mind tonight: The Chicago Archbishop, Cardinal Francis George, remarked, “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.”

SATURDAY I woke up this morning with a mixture of excitement and nervousness. The excitement is that there is something happening that could galvanize us as a Church. There is a cause for which we can all unite. The nervousness was about what could be in store for us if
this remains the law of the land.

Fr. Pfeiffer came home late from his retreat last night and the morning was the first opportunity to talk. How seriously do we need to take this? We don’t want to be reactionary but neither do we want to think that missed the opportunity to help bring strike down this unjust law.

It is time for the homily at the 4:30 Mass. I point to our patron Saint Sebastian and remark, “Last week we talked about how our patron stood up to a corrupt government and remarked that we should be ready to face such opposition if we encounter it. That day has come!” Then I read the letter sent to us from our bishop. “We cannot – we will not” conform to this unjust law. At the end of the letter the organ stuck up “Faith of Our Fathers” and we sang.

Faith of our Fathers living still
In spite of dungeon, fire, and sword.
O how our hearts be high with joy
When ere we hear that glorious Word
Faith of our Fathers
Holy Faith!
We will be true to thee to death!

A Man for All Seasons (St. Thomas More)  52 seconds.  Watch it!

SUNDAY I wake up and go downstairs to read the letters to the editor of the Plain Dealer. (There is nothing in the Beacon Journal) They basically told the Catholic Church that it needs to buck up and get over it. Nobody sees that this is a blatant attack on the Constitution of the United States. They do not see that once part of the Constitution can be ignored it all can be. They feel safe because
they don’t mind this action, but what about when it recoils on them? Why is this not emblazoned on the front page of my newspapers? Have they fallen so far?

The letter was read again at the 9AM, 11AM, 1PM, and at the 5PM Mass the people clapped. One man from out of state said, “I realize that you were only reading your bishop’s words, but that was one of themost stirring homilies I have ever heard! I am taking this letter to my bishop!”

I read that in one diocese they have instituted praying the St. Michael Prayer. I write my representatives in congress. At the Chesterton we are reading book two of Napoleon of Notting Hill. The topic turns to this legislation for a while.

MONDAY I take Sebastian for a walk. We come across a man with a dog who is a regular playmate of Sebastian. He asked me how things are going and I tell him about this legislation. He states that he is for, at least in part, all the things that are included in that package. “It is about pooling money.” I state that it has little to do with any of those things. This is a blatant attack on the Constitution of the United States! Everyone no matter what they believe on reproductive rights should be screaming angry! That the conversation kept turning to contraception, abortion, and sterilization was unnerving. In this case these are all moot topics.

The point is, if you remain silent while this is done to the Catholic Church, then don’t be angry, surprised, or resentful when the government comes into your religion and passes laws and imposing
penalties forcing you to act against your core beliefs. That is what this is about.

I stand in awe that this is happening and happening so easily. We wonder how such things happened in other countries throughout history?

Like this.

Friday, January 27, 2012

SPECIAL EDITION: Bishops decry HHS rule, urge Catholics to stand up for religious liberty and conscience rights in homilies at Vigil for Life


The following was sent to all parishes late Friday from Bishop Lennon:

“This week the federal government’s Department of Health and Human Services issued a mandate which required religious non-profits to cover sterilization, contraceptive services, and some abortion-inducing drugs as part of their employee healthcare benefits.”

Even if you believe in these things this disregard for our Constitution has far reaching implications. If the establishment clause can be ignored than all of the Constitution may eventually be ignored. Taking action on this new law should be a high priority of all citizens regardless of their personal beliefs.

This weekend a letter concerning the action of our diocese will be read at all Masses and distributed to all Catholics in the Diocese of Cleveland. It is not yet available on-line as of this posting. Please make sure that you read it and ACT!

Here is even more information on the USCCB website on what you can do right now.

Please pray.


Thus far you have collected all readily available material. Now some further research should be done. Let us start with the windows. Your information may not be complete or it might not appear to be quite correct. There are a number of avenues to help you out. One is to figure out what the general theme (if there is one) of the windows are. For example, if a series of windows depict the Beatitudes or the Ten Commandments, you may be able to figure out what a window is supposed to be but not necessarily why.

It is a good idea to record all the symbols in a window. Some may have been glossed over by previous persons doing your project. If the artists used traditional symbolism there are a few good references that you might employ to assist you in deciphering the window.

My favorite book is “Signs and Symbols in Christian Art” by George Ferguson. It is very user friendly and unlike many books out there concentrates on Catholic/Christian specifics. It has been in print since 1954 so may have to search for it though my addition was printed in the 80s I believe. Another book is “Saints, Signs, and Symbols” by W. Ellwood Post. While not exhaustive, these books have most of the basics.

There are some excellent websites as well. Seiyaka.com has a lot of great information. Fish Eaters is pretty good, and Christiansymbols.net is excellent.

There are times, however, when these resources will fail you. It might be because the artist has chosen to use innovative symbols that unless you are familiar with the artist’s intent they may confound you. For example, at one parish the windows were depicting the Ten Commandments and artist used red circles to mean “don’t!” Fortunately we came across an old paper that told us of this. (Don’t covet was interesting.) But how would we have known otherwise?

That leads us to your next step if you are desperate (and lucky.) In the corner of one of your windows (assuming they are all made from the same company) there very well may be (usually in the lower right hand corner) the name of the company responsible for the windows. At one parish it was the choir loft window, at another that last in a series in the nave of the church, at St. Sebastian it is in window off to the side of the sanctuary. It might be the artist and his studio itself, or the company that hired the studio to make them and then they stuck their own name on it. In any case this will give you some information. At the very least it will provide some historical data for you. If you are lucky, it might give you everything you want to know.

There was one set of windows that confounded me to no end. The artist was very creative and once you got into his mindset they made a lot of sense – but we needed a key. I found the name of the creator of the windows and then found someone at the company that would sneak out the blue prints for me. I ran down to the library and copied them as quickly as possible along with the artist’s notes. (Can you imagine trying to copy blueprints on 8 ½ by 11 sheets? – the taping together later was horrendous!) But the result was great! All the mysteries of the windows were cleared up and they became great tools for catechetical instruction.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


If you did not see yesterday’s post, you may want to peruse it before you have a gander at today’s.

I hope you had a chance to think it over a bit and draw some of your own conclusions. What follows are some of my thoughts. Here are a few caveats however: He does not say that he is speaking about the Catholic Church but about Christianity in general, but this response will be from a Catholic specific standpoint. For the most part, issues already addressed in the videos will not be rehashed. And finally, these are just some immediate thoughts, not a complete thesis on the video.

So here we go. When I was in Junior High School, my “girlfriend” took me with her youth group to a local amusement park. On the way home on the bus she said she had something she wanted to talk to me about. We hunched down in our seats and she said, “You know, you Catholics worship statues and make Mary like a god and God specifically banned these practices and condemned such people to hell.”

While the conclusion of the argument may be correct, the premise was false. I remember leaning back in my seat and saying, “Whoever told you that Catholics worship statues or Mary for that matter was either seriously misinformed or lying.” To this day I find this a common practice. Someone will announce that the Catholic Church believes “X” and then go on to condemn the Church because of “X” when in fact the “X” itself is completely or mostly false.

The young man in the video makes a lot of scandalous accusations against religion. I agree with every point he makes – if and when they are true. For example; he accuses religion of building large building but failing to feed the poor. That is an outrage. But is it true? What evidence does he supply? None. What can we offer in return? That the Church (Catholic) is the largest charitable organization in the world bar none. Catholic Charities in northeast Ohio is the largest Catholic Charities in the world. (I am starting to encroach on the third video so I will leave it there.)

But what about those “large buildings?” They are for the poor also. The poor need more than food – they also need beauty. If they desire to part of the faith there is a pew for those of us who are poor - nobody pays for the holy water or the blessings. Those who can do (and have an obligation to do so) but that does suggest not having money means that the building is not for you.

Another accusation is that religion tells single moms that God does not love them if they’ve had a divorce. I would like one document, one official statement, one example of this being true for where and if it exists it should be condemned. Divorce, in the Catholic Church, does not even keep you from the Blessed Sacrament. You might find somebody who says that it does, but they would be wrong. Getting remarried while not separated from your spouse in the eyes of the Church would keep you away from the Blessed Sacrament true (as it would get you arrested for getting married while not getting a civil divorce first by the government) but never does God cease to love. Ever. Period. And all things are correctable. The idea is to protect that woman and the integrity of the sacrament not punish people for a failing marriage.

The idea that we can dress up on the outside but still be notorious sinners on the inside is acceptable to men of religion is just, once again, false. “Rend your hearts, not your garments.” Religion is there to help people do this who are open to it. Want an example of someone who acts religious but keeps sinning – I’ll give you plenty of examples. But an abuse does not negate the value of something that others find transformative. Sacraments of healing and forgiveness, of drawing closer and giving praise to God, recognizing the dignity of others – this is what good religion is supposed to do.

You get the idea.

Then some of his sweeping and misleading claims grow broader. “God does not support the self righteous.” This is true and I agree. But his inference is that all men of religion are self righteous – is an oddly self righteous statement. It is a kin to a statement made at the beginning of his video that simply calling someone else blind does not mean that you can see – could be a statement that ricochets back on him.

And does it have to be one way or the other?  It is not about man searching for God but about God searching for man?  Is it not both?

Did Jesus come to abolish religion? No, I believe He came to abolish bad religion. To say straight out that all religion is condemned by God requires the ignoring or fancy footwork around a LOT of Biblical evidence. Not the least of which is the Bible itself which was solidified for us by . . . the Church in the fourth century. Religion.
Okay – this is getting way to long. I hope you had fun thinking this through yourself and maybe had some conclusions that were not even touched upon by either this short essay or in the other videos. To tell the truth I like this young man. Think about it: He seems utterly sincere in his love of Jesus and he went through some considerable effort to spread what he sees as the Good News. Even if I disagree with him spreading what comes down to his version of religion (ironic), I am jealous for my own youth they are not all out there doing the same.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Okay Adam's Alers - time to put your thinking caps on. This first video is eating up the Internet. As of this writing it has had over sixteen million views! Quite incredible.  This young gentleman is making the argument that Jesus came to destroy religion.  Listen to it with a critical mind.  Many of us will be confronted with one of points or another that he makes here.  How would you respond?

Before you read (or view) on, think about what he said.  Bearing in mind what you know about the faith how would you respond?  Where might you find flaws in his commentary?  Do you know enough about your faith to make comment?

Below is one response from Fr. Robert Barron from Word on Fire.  Of course it is not as slick or entertaining and unfortunately he seems rather annoyed (maybe exasperated) with the young man.  But here is a beginning of a good response.

Responses are coming in spades from all over the place and you can see them on Youtube.  Here is another young man making a different tact from the one above.

I like his style, his respect, and his sincerity.  But how would you go even further?  Was there anything in that first video that struck you as not quite right?  It is a great exersize to watch it and respond if to nobody else to yourself so that when you are thusly confronted you will have had the advantage of thinking it over already.

I will try tomorrow (time willing) to give just some responses that I have to the video.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "God is in the intrusions.  God is in the interruptions."  Fr. Richard Rhor

QUOTE II:  "Divinity is always in the least place you would expect it."  Archbishop Sheen


The Rev. Damian Ference has another article to see on Word on Fire.  "Beyond the prolific writing career, the fascinating personal life, and the peacocks (lots of peacocks) Flannery O'Connor was a devout and inspirational Catholic. Word on Fire contributor Father Damian Ference takes a look at the writer today on the Word on Fire blog."  Read the article here.  Good show brother.

Brother priest GDB sent this picture:

"I'm on top of the world looking down on creation . . ." as the song goes.  Thanks R. U. for sending in this panoramic view from the top of Mount Everest.

From the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter, "Did you know, the First Friday Clubs Page is now updated with speaker information for the three club luncheons that will be taking place in early February?"  Read more here.

R B sent this in about Mark Wahlberg's reversion to the faith.  We need many more like him in Hollywood.  God bless him. 

Monday, January 23, 2012


Not too long ago I told you about the story of my sister and I almost knocking out Saint Joseph during my time as a seminarian working at Saint Augustine in Barberton.  That brought to mind another story that took place that summer.  Now that I think of it - it is amazing that they kept me employed there.

This took place before the bell incident.  I was sent up into the bell tower to see what condition it was in.  To get up to the bell one has to climb a number of stories on a rung ladder that has not breaks in it all the way up.  It was quite a climb. 

The bell housing itself was in pretty poor condition and there were a couple projects that needed attention.  One would be to paint the metal so that it would stop rusting. 

The other job was to clean out years of accumulated bird donations.  This was not a fun job but I was grateful to have something to do to earn money to return to seminary so I got a shovel and some industrial sized plastic bags and got to work.

Now, the trick was trying to get the donations from the birds OUT of the bell tower.  I couldn't just toss it out onto the city sidewalk below.  No, it had to be carried down the ladder and disposed of properly.  That meant trying to climb a vertical ladder with only one hand and my chin.

The above is what I saw.  The bag was so heavily full of bird droppings that the industrial bag slowly started to rip.  What could I do?  I could not let go of the ladder.  Even if I did, then what?  Like watching an inevitable car wreck, there was nothing to do but watch the bag rip away from my hand.

And that it did, plummeting seven or so stories straight down the bell tower into the upstairs sacristy where it made a terrible explosion of filth.  But that was not the worst of it.  The disgusting cloud was not content to remain confined in the upstairs sacristy, it sent it's deathly plume up the tower like a chimney - or like an explosion in an elevator shaft in some actions packed movie.

It was horrible.  And the door to the server's sacristy downstairs was also open and so the whole place filled with years of disintegrated droppings.  I would have fired me at that point.  But kindly Mrs Z said not to worry and she helped me clean up as much as possible. 

Now I always buy quality trash bags.

Friday, January 20, 2012


At most of the parishes with which I have been associated I have created a document unlocking all of the symbolism contained in the parish, have taught a class, and usually given numerous tours helping people become more aware of the building they call their spiritual home. It almost always elicits and “I never saw that,” or a, “I never realized what that meant.”

Over the past five years of Adam’s Ale we have explored an incredible amount of Christian symbolism. We’ve also explored books and websites that I have recommended. But we never have really looked at how you might attempt this at your parish. So we will try that for a spell.

When starting out there are a couple of things that will make the process easier if you settle on them right away. The first is to get your clergy on board. Depending on the scope of your project you will have to spend a lot of time in your church (assuming it is not iconoclastic in nature) and you will need to do a certain amount of snooping – more likely in older church buildings where interesting symbolic pieces may be somewhat hidden.

The next thing you will want to decide is the scope of your project. Do you want to do just the windows? That is one thing. Do you want to do all the artwork? That is another. How about every last scrap of meaning you can drag out of a building, that is yet quite another. The first will be easy, the last may require finding blueprints and trying to locate companies and all kinds of research.

So let’s say that you are going for the whole enchilada. The first step is to try to save yourself some time by locating information that has already been accumulated for you. Often a parish directory has been produced and often there is a description of the windows or other art. Perhaps a pamphlet has been produced at a significant anniversary or at the consecration of the church.

Most parishes have an archives room or at least a good sized archives file cabinet. This is a good place to start looking. (Be very careful! Keep things neat and in order and be sure to return them so that you and your project can move forward without people becoming upset. These items can be difficult to replace and can be jealously guarded.) Scan or copy interesting articles and descriptions. You will most probably find that something is wrong in the descriptions, but they are an excellent beginning point.

It is a good idea to already begin separating your information into categories. “Windows, statuary, paintings, architecture, and such.” Names of artists and companies may serve you very well in the future so it is an excellent idea to have this information if available. Small pieces of history are also very good. “Made in Italy and shipped to the United States and 20 pieces. Assembled . . . etc.” While not directly part of your mission, it is none-the-less interesting to many people and rarely part of a comprehensive document. And again, dates, locations, and the like may serve your research later.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Occasionally a phone call will come into the parish that goes something like this:

“Hello. Am I talking to the priest?”

“Yes, how may I help you?”

“I’m planning in getting married on June 3rd and I would like to get married (INSERT ONE OF THE FOLLOWING: ON THE BEACH, IN THE BACKYARD, PARK, PARTY CENTER, ON A BOAT, WHILE SKY DIVING . . .) and I was wondering if you would do the service.”

The next question out of my mouth will be, “Are you both Catholic?” If they say yes, chances are that I will not be able to assist them in the matter. After initial sounds of disappointment the question will arise, “Why can’t we get married in the (wherever)?”

Of course the Church (or the bishop or the parish or the pastor) comes off as the party spoiler who wants things their way. I understand the concept. Part of this is due to the “service” paradigm in existence in many other Churches. This sees “Church” as something akin to the banquet facility. I want a banquet and so I call a caterer to give me the reception of my dreams. Similarly, a bride (usually) has been dreaming of a certain wedding “since I was a little girl” and so assumes, logically enough, that I call my parish and for a modest sum, they will provide me with it.

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on what you believe, this runs counter to how the Church envisions the marriage ceremony. It is a public event. It is not too different at all from ordination. We could not say to the bishop, “We have a dream of being ordained in Forest Lodge Park. It is the center of our community and plus we will be in the middle of nature that we love so much.” The bishop would rightly answer, “Boys, it’s not about you. This is not a private ceremony. It belongs to the Church. And we will have it at the cathedral, the central worship placed of our local Church, and throw open the doors to any who wish to attend.”

Marriage, too, is a public event and it belongs to the whole community. It is a sacred event and thus has a special connection to the faith life of the Church. This is exemplified by the banns being published the three weeks leading up to the wedding. The public has a right to know about and have a right to voice objections should there be any true impediments to this marriage. The ceremony belongs to the Church (and by Church I mean all the people) and most technically there would be no such thing as a “private” wedding. (There may be some legitimate reasons for it to be that way in practice, but not in ideology.) The bells ring 5 minutes before the wedding Mass not to call your guests in but anyone in the community who wishes to be a witness. A wedding is an event of the Church, not simply a perfect day for the wedding couple, though if properly catechized, the two should really be one – an event for the Church and a perfect day for the couple.

So almost all weddings between two Catholics take place in a church, the place of the community, the sacred space where sacraments are performed. As a general rule, the show is not taken on the road.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


This past weekend I went to a concert at one of our local churches; Westminster Presbyterian. The Akron Baroque Orchestra was in performance. It was well attended, of high quality, in a beautiful a setting with great acoustics, and within walking distance of the rectory. What more could one ask for?

There is a great tradition of churches, particularly the Catholic Church, of being patronesses of the arts. In different times of our history the church may have been used for concerts (of certain sorts – never any age’s equivalent of acid rock or the like) and the courtyard of monasteries, often the center of old European towns, have had stages set up in them for everything from an orchestra concert to an opera.

The few churches in our area have had a wonderful concert season. This year one could hear everything from the Akron Symphony Chorus, Apollo’s Fire, Summit Choral Society, to local choirs. It is an outstanding opportunity not only to hear quality music and excellent settings, but (I dare say) an even greater opportunity to introduce families to the art of listening to a concert. (Please don’t take you kids unless you are willing to do the work to teach them how to attend a concert because chances are I will be sitting next to you and say a rosary against you if you let your kids talk and play.)

Often the concerts are of a shorter nature and usually free (save for a free will offering) or much cheaper than a more professional venue making them idea to take a family of five, six, or seven. Instead of paying $50 dollars a head, for a donation of $20 or so the family can learn (and they MUST learn from their parents – no school can do it for you) how to sit still and listen for an extended period of time AND unless they are VERY careful, they may develop a taste for higher music over time.

The unfortunate part is that there is not a community wide listing of concerts. It would be cool if somebody who has a lot of money and does not know what to do with it would put together a flier (that could also be used as a program) that listed the Churches in the part of town and all of the concerts that they provide that could go out to the community (as is found in many communities) letting them know of the gold mine – the outstanding opportunities that they have right in their own backyard.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "You say grace before meals.  All right.  But I say grace before the play and the opera, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing dancing; and grace before I dip pen in ink."  G. K. Chesterton

QUOTE II:  "The way to love anything is to realise that it might be lost."  David Fagerberg in Gilbert Magazine


This is awesome.  Draw a stickman.  Thanks M. W. for sending it in.  Have fun with this.

This is eight and half minutes but very worth it!  Thanks for sending it in!

There are a couple of messages that a friend of mine, Sr. Brigid (Sister of Life!) sent in for me to post to you.  Here they are:
"For those coming to the March for Life Ralley in Washington D. C. you are all invited to you come visit our You and Me Exhibit that we hosted at WYD in Spain this year. It is a multimedia exhibit which draws you into an encounter with six people who are faced with challenging situations in their lives and the freedom and joy they find in making that choice to sacrifice for love. We will be hosting it at the JPII Shrine (which was the JPII Cultural Center) Friday through Sunday."  More information here.  Sister has recommended that you preregister which you can do on their website here.

She also wrote this great news: "I hear your friend Dawn is getting ready to publish a new book... Mother wrote the forward. I believe the book will be a great source of healing for many. Praise God!"  Here is more information on Dawn Eden's new book.  Long time AA friends know that Dawn was instrumental in the start of this blog which will be five years old this February.  Congratualtions Dawn.  You may see advance praise for this book and order it here.

This was also sent in: "I wanted to share with you that the Franciscan Sisters TOR are now on facebook for all of you who are on there! Please like the page and share it with your friends! The sisters will be using this as a way to share photos, news and updates from the community with those who are on facebook!' This is the address:  http://www.facebook.com/FranciscanSistersTOR

From the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter, "YouTube videos created and produced by students at Archbishop Hoban High School in Akron and Lake Catholic High School in Mentor tell the stories of people who are part of newly merged parishes along with stories of church properties which have been sold and are now being reused."  See more here.

Lastly but not least(ly?) here is a list of the Pope's intentions for the year 2012:
The Pope's entire list of prayer intentions for 2013 is as follows:

General: That during this “Year of Faith” Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and joyfully bear witness to the gift of faith in Him.
Missionary: That the Christian communities of the Middle East, which frequently suffer discrimination, may receive the strength of fidelity and perseverance of the Holy Spirit.

General: That migrant families, in particular mothers, may be sustained and accompanied in their difficulties.
Missionary: That peoples experiencing war and conflicts may be the protagonists in the building of a future of peace.

General: That respect for nature will grow, with the awareness that all creation is the work of God entrusted to human responsibility.
Missionary: That bishops, priests and deacons may be tireless proclaimers of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

General: That the prayerful and public celebration of the faith may be a source of life for the faithful.
Missionary: That the particular Churches in mission territories may be a sign and instrument of hope and resurrection.

General: That those who administer justice will always act with integrity and upright conscience.
Missionary: That seminarians, especially from mission Churches, may always be pastors according to the heart of Christ, fully devoted to the proclamation of the Gospel.

General: That a culture of dialogue, listening and reciprocal respect may prevail among the nations.
Missionary: That in the areas where the influx of secularization is strongest, Christian communities may learn to effectively promote a new evangelization.

General: That the World Youth Day taking place in Brazil may encourage all young Christians to become disciples and missionaries of the Gospel.
Missionary: That throughout the Asian continent, doors may be opened to the messengers of the Gospel.

General: That parents and teachers may help the new generations to grow up with a upright conscience and a consistent life.
Missionary: That the particular Churches of the African continent, faithful to the Gospel proclamation, may promote the building of peace and justice.

General: That the men and women of our time, often immersed in noise, may resdiscover the value of silence and learn to listen to the voice of God and their brothers and sisters.
Missionary: That Christians who suffer persecution in numerous regions of the world may be prophets of the love of Christ by their testimony.

General: That those who feel weary from the heaviness of life, and even long for its end, may sense the closeness of God’s love.
Missionary: That the celebration of World Missions Day may make all Christians aware that they are not only recipients but also proclaimers of the Word of God.

General: That priests experiencing difficulties may be comforted in their sufferings, sustained in the doubts and confirmed in their fidelity.
Missionary: That the Churches of Latin America may send missionaries to other Churches as a result of the continental mission.

General: That children who are victims of abandonment and of every form of violence may find the love and protection they need.
Missionary: That Christians, enlightened by the light of the incarnate Word, may prepare humanity for the coming of the Savior.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Back in the seminary, during my more idealistic days, I got into a debate with one of my professors about art and the Catholic Church. Standing firm that the Church as patroness of the arts should never, ever order their “art” from a catalogue, the professor kindly (tried) to point out that if a parish could not raise the funds to commission an artist to produce an original piece of art this might be a sound alternative. That idea was rebuffed. “If a community cannot raise the funds for true art!” I fumed, “then they don’t really want it!”

Since then my views have somewhat, but not entirely, softened. Catalogue art is safe art. There are no worries. You know exactly up front what it is that you are getting and if you are a little hesitant, just go to one of twenty parishes that already has your piece in it in order to see if you really do like it. Commissioning art is risky. One never knows exactly what one will get! There is a reason it is called original. But without taking that chance, we will never discover new talent; never experience new pieces.

From time to time I put my wallet where my rhetoric is. Most recently I commissioned a work of our patron saint by Eric Armusik. (You might remember him from this post a number of months ago.) I sent him the dimensions of a painting for which I was looking and some possible subject matter and then let him go to town. A few months later a giant package arrived in the mail. A kind parishioner and friend was there and I asked if she wished to stick around for the grand unveiling (or unwrapping I suppose) and she readily agreed and took these pictures. (Thanks J. D.)

The knife was in my hand and ready to cut when the secretary came back and said that some new parishioners had just registered and wanted to meet me. So I had to leave and greet a delightful young couple who had just moved to the area and hide my angst concerning the contents of the package in the hall.

After they left I leapt back into the hall. The camera was still poised to snap and now we were joined by our business manager and the unwrapping began. Let me tell you – this thing was wrapped to be towed by submarine across the Atlantic. It seemed to take forever to carve through the cardboard, plastic, and wood. (Sebastian – the dog - was very helpful.) And then – there it was! Saint Sebastian being nursed back to health by Saint Irene! Exquisite! A snippet in the life of our patron forever captured in a new piece of art.

This painting (on semi-permanent loan to the parish for as long as I am here) will hang in the rectory dining room. However, in honor of our feast day, this weekend it will be on display in the church building in the McDonough Resource Library (the old baptistery) if you would like a viewing.

Eric Armusik, the artist, lives in Hamburg, PA with his wife and three children. He was first inspired by the artwork of his home parish growing up and now hopes to continue in the fine tradition of creating works for the Church. He also does other projects as well but hopes to be able to do more commissions for and about the faith. If you would like more information you can find out more about him at his website here.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Today is a travel day so there will be no post.



Thursday, January 12, 2012


On my couple days away from the parish I happened to be walking along a great body of water and hearing a couple talking as I passed them. The woman was speaking to the gentleman, “Mother said that those old Communion Cups and St. X were just terrible. Men would come up with bushy mustaches and . . .” That is all I heard. To listen any more would be to need to go to confession.

It made me chuckle however and reflect on how much direct Catholicism I had encountered in the past couple of days. It made me think of Las Vegas (of all things) where you knew if you scratched the surface there was nothing but dessert underneath. Though society seems completely secular, scratch hard enough and you find faith.

Yesterday dinner was had at a restaurant that had tables out-of-doors next the sidewalk. As we ate a young man walked by holding hands with a young lady. After passing I noticed that he was wearing a brown scapular. It must have inched its way up out of his collar and was riding high on his neck. If it would have been convenient I would have commended him.

Have you ever seen the movie Seabiscuit? I highly recommend it (save for a minor spot of nudity and cursing.) It is a very pro-life movie in many respects. In a hospital scene one of the lead characters was praying the rosary. (I get far too excited about these things. It was nice to know just the same that the horse was a Catholic.)

This morning reading the newspaper there was a picture about a trial taking place in Peru. In the background on one of the tables – quite blurry but of no doubt – was a table crucifix! “Hey look!” I exclaimed to my breakfast mates, “Is that a crucifix in the courtroom?” Lucky Peruvians.

None of these were advertised for others to see. They were “caught” as it were – snatches of people’s lives. Sometimes these speak louder than grand monuments.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Pope Benedict has gone a long way in making the extraordinary form of the Mass not only permissible, but as available as possible for those who wish to pray in that manner. Elbow room in the Catholic Church just got bigger. So now we know we can do it, but it is not entirely clear how we do it. It is another great experiment within the Church.
My parish is on the cutting edge of this movement. It is a strong, typical parish and did not need to begin celebrating the extraordinary form Mass in order to lure more people in the doors so that we could keep the lights on as is the case in many places. The Mass was begun as a service to the community in response to a real need in the area owing to a number of circumstances in play.

The pope has made it clear that there are not to be “extraordinary form” parishes but that both forms must coexist. This may sound easy enough but it requires much more than simply adding another Mass to the schedule. There are all kinds of “I never thought of that”s that come into play as we discover how one parish can provide both legitimate forms of the Mass.

To begin, the calendars do not necessarily coincide. For example there may be a feast in the ordinary form that is on a different day in the extraordinary form. At one Mass the altar may be decked out in green and the next one would need purple. This may seem minor and in many ways it is, but it something that one needs to be mindful about when doing anything in the church.

The cycle of readings is also most often different. A priest may have to prepare one homily for the ordinary form and another for the extraordinary.

Is it possible to simply redo the calendar for the extraordinary form? Perhaps. It would be wonderful to add some Masses such as for Saints that are more recently canonized. But I can only imagine the work involved in this process. If it took English speaking countries so long to come with our current English Missal, what might it be like to try to get the whole world to produce a new common Latin extraordinary form Missal?

Another area to look at is rubrical changes that affect the extraordinary form. Some laws do not change – especially those governing the Mass itself. Others do change. One is the Eucharistic fast. One need not fast from midnight until one receives Communion at the extraordinary form because the universal law has been changed. Nowhere however, as far as I am aware, are all of these things systematically written out and much advice must be sought.

Perhaps most importantly of all is the uniting of the entire community. We work hard to not have those who attend those who attend the extraordinary form of the Mass appear to be “the Latin Mass community at Saint Soandso.” Some of this is being very careful about the language that is used. One must guard against terms such as “their Mass” and “our Mass.” They are all just the Mass and we are one community. (As a side note, the extraordinary form of the Mass in not the “Latin Mass.” Any Mass may be prayed in Latin. The proper term is the extraordinary form.)

It also takes awhile to be vigilant on making sure that all parishioners are treated equally – such as in remembering to invite all to everything. This may seem obvious and easy enough, but it can be trickier than you think. Here are two examples. One is Donut Sunday. We have parish groups that volunteer to do this. That used to mean that a parish group might have to be going about the business of set up and serving donuts from about 8AM until 1PM. All of sudden beginning one weekend it meant 8AM until about 3PM. That is a long Sunday for volunteers. So how do you handle that? (Only wet babies like change.)

Even when you are sensitive to these issues things fall through the cracks. An usher’s meeting was held just before Christmas and during the opening prayer I realized to my horror that nobody had thought of inviting the new ushers from the extraordinary form of the Mass! Needless to say that became the first topic on the agenda and I had to apologize profusely to the 1:00 ushers (who were pretty good chaps about it.)

The idea of equal treatment extends to other things as well. Not wanting to treat any group of people within the parish as a separate community, we as priests at our parish often have the discussion about if we do something at one Mass, are we willing to do them at all Masses. And what of special requests – what does the parish offer the community at large and when can exceptions be made and where is the line that drawn so that exceptions don’t start dividing the community?

So far it has been a wonderful experiment. We’ve had some bumps but fortunately most people are understanding. There has also been promising developments of persons on both sides of the ordinary/extraordinary preferences visiting back and forth between forms. (That is a sign of health in my view.) The extraordinary form is also attracting additional converts to the parish we might not have had before; a couple to be welcomed into the Catholic Church within the next month and hopefully a few others on their way.

This is a unique period within the life of the Church.  Those in such parishes are pioneers.  We could certainly do things better and we most likely will as we cautiously figure our way, doing our best to navigate a parish community that likes everything from the ordinary form and folk music to the extraordinary form and Gregorian chant. It is a microcosm of a much larger Church that is incredibly diverse yet holds together at its center: the Eucharist.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "As we know good theology can only begin with God and a clear understanding that we are totally dependent on Him. He is the Source of all Good. Submission to His will is key to worthily living life as a human being created in His image, best accomplished by serving the common good."  James (son of Alpheous) Miller.

QUOTE II:  "Unless some sweetness at the bottom lie, who cares for all the crinkling of the pie?"  William King as reported in the book "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie" by Alan Bradley


There are some Catholic videos here if you are of a mind.

Arrrg!  I forgot that we would be switching Breviary volumes today and here I am away from home without it!  Never fear, Universalis is here!

The Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter reports, "The annual Cleveland March for Life will take place at noon on Cleveland's Public Square on Saturday, January 14, 2012. Participants will march one-half mile to the historic Halle Building on Euclid Avenue for the indoor program."  Read more here.

F S sent this in:  "I'm not surprised to learn that such technology exists. It uses your IP address and finds the exact location of any Internet user in seconds. It uses a sophisticated time based algorithm to do so. Try it and find your PRECISE location on the earth,Then watch your screen as the system briefly analyzes your data...then displays your PRECISE location...Your location will pop up in a new window in about 10 seconds or so."  Click here.

To make up for that last one he also sent this video of Amazing Grace.  Thanks!

Monday, January 9, 2012


What genera of book would think this was if you picked out the following dialogue from a book:

“Sir, face the wall. Spread you feet sir. A little more. Put your hands over your head and remain still.”

If you guessed going through airport security in one of those new scanners you would be correct.

I stupidly overdressed for traveling (a couple of days away from the parish.) My miraculous metal medal, studs in my collar, difficult shoes, belt, ring, pockets full of stuff. I know better. I wasn’t thinking.

You know, I would never undress to the extent that I did in the airport in any other gathering of people outside of a men’s locker room where I was about to work out. It is interesting to see how people handle it. Some feel like they are at a pajama party and others struggle desperately to clutch onto their dignity.

Although people may talk to strangers quite a bit in the queue leading up to the stripping point, once the stripping begins until the subsequent dressing is finished, it is as if we all try to pretend that the other strangers are not there. “I don’t see you and you don’t see me.”

I have gone someplace warm for a few days away from the parish for a few days. (There may be some days when there is no post.) It was interesting to see how other people in the plane dressed. Some clearly knew where they were going and had left winter clothes behind and were wearing very light clothing. Some were still bundled up. They would be hot once they got off of the plane. Pick your poison I suppose. Freeze now or boil later.

I like to travel in clerics. Many an interesting conversation has arisen and although I have always feared the person that would cling to me and talk and talk and talk that has never happened. (I am not a big talker particularly on planes.) The only time that did happen to me was when I was not in clerics. Most people are polite.

Before I was a priest I would love to see people in ecclesiastical garb out and about. I felt a twinge of pride such as when you see someone wearing a jacket from your favorite college. There was always an instant connection and if I saw a nun in the mall or some such place, I would always go up and say, “I don’t want to interrupt your day, I just wanted to say hi sister,” or father or what have you.

When I was first ordained I used to notice people noticing me. I don’t anymore. My sisters do however. “Why is everyone being so nice and smiling at us?” And that after a pause: “Oh! I’m with you,” the “you” not being emphasized in the most flattering manner.

Sometimes it is not always a flattering or pleasant situation when someone sees a color – kind of like wearing a Steeler’s jersey to a Browns game. But it is always an opportunity – a momentary yanking of a person out of the secular matters spiritual – even if it is only me catching an image of my colar reflected in a window.

Friday, January 6, 2012


Let’s stick with the head while we are there.

Consider the ear. Well, symbolism wise there is not much to consider. If you saw a man, probably in a robe taking a sword and cutting of the ear of another man in a Roman soldier outfit in the middle of a garden, you would immediately know what story is being told. Or if there was a montage of pictures such as a rooster, a bag of 30 coins, and an ear, you would know that Christ’s betrayal is being portrayed. But unless you can think of anything else, I am at a bit of a loss as to any other time the ear plays an important role in paintings, windows, or statuary.
Of course there are a lot of literary references. “He who has ears ought to listen” (Mt 11:15) and so forth. Perhaps more significantly is what you don’t see with ears or with eyes for that matter. A saint is never seen with any type of device to help them hear better or glasses to help them see better. This is because in heaven there are no such maladies. Before God we will “see” and “hear” perfectly, comprehending and understanding all there is.

“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. 1 Corinthians 13:12”

There is an exception that proves the rule however. Saint Maxamilian Kolbe is most often depicted with glasses on. This is understandable I suppose since he almost always wore his glasses in this life never appearing in a photograph without them. They are rather iconic. However, my suggestion is to lose them. It should not be about what makes us comfortable. There is a message about Saint Kolbe to be given out. He is in heaven. He longer needs glasses to “see.” There does seem to be depictions of him out there sans glasses though they are few and far between.