Wednesday, February 29, 2012


That the HHS mandate is unconstitutional, a breach in general rights that could have significant ramifications for everyone in the future, is the grounds upon which the Catholic Church and its supporters in this issue fight against it. It is not about birth control or women’s rights or abortion or forcing people to be Catholic or any other of a number of side issues.


That being said, just who is this mandate good for? Is it good for women? Let us be honest, women already bear the fuller load of responsibility for the consequences of sexual encounters by way of the construction of our bodies. We are told that “reproductive health” services will greatly enhance her freedom. I argue that it will erode it further. With this mandate the responsibility for the consequences of sexual activity now will fall more heavily and officially on the woman’s shoulders. “It’s your problem,” she might hear when facing the possibility of pregnancy. “Didn’t you protect yourself? Don’t look at me. Do ‘something’ about it.”

As we further and further destroy the social structures that would have supported her – structures that said, “Men, take responsibility for your actions,” she becomes more and more autonomous and alone – an object for men to use. She as a person will become more periphery to men’s lives other than what she can do for them.

Further, the Catholic Medical Board (CMB) Women Physicians state, “OCPs (abortifacients, oral contraceptives) contribute to significant disease and dysfunction, such as increased rates of blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks (especially in smokers); increased rates of HPV transmission; and increased incidence of cervical cancer and liver tumors. The same synthetic hormones in OCPs that make a woman’s body behave as if pregnant all the time also change her body chemistry, rendering her more susceptible to STIs. As physicians, we frequently must care of women suffering from the unanticipated side effects of OCPs.”

So is this good for men? We can’t expect to teach men starting in grade school about every aspect of sex, tell them how to “protect” themselves, and then how to get out of it should something go wrong, and expect that to make them more responsible human beings. As men continue down the path of seeing women as an object they can use like a magazine or computer image, something that can be done away with when it is no longer as pleasurable as it once was, then men become less too – they become untethered, lone cowboys that are taught that when the going gets tough, the tough get going on to the next woman.
So is it good for children? We already see the breakdown of the family in modern culture. Do we wish to see it erode further? That divorce does not affect children is a fallacy. Ask any grade school teacher after one month of school who has a parent at home and who comes from a divided family and they will point them out.

Again from the CMB, “A child is not a disease, nor are fertility and pregnancy. They are physiological states of healthy individuals.” Children also are not objects or accoutrements to our lives but unique human beings formed by the actions of two other humans who hopefully take responsibility for this miracle they helped create.

So is it good for our pocket books? Once more from the CMB, “With regard to “cost savings” in health care, the Guttmacher Institute’s own data show that increases in contraception use lead to increased demand for abortions, and that women are more likely to have unplanned pregnancies when using contraception. There are no valid statistics demonstrating that use of contraception and abortion have improved the health of women and children. In fact, the rates of premature and low birth weight infants have been rising precipitously since rates of abortion and OCP use have increased. One in 8 babies is now born prematurely. NICU care now accounts for 25% of the entire maternal/newborn budget!

"Finally, it is important to realize that mandating “free contraception” is not free—it will mean higher insurance premiums for everyone and/or less money for the treatment of real diseases.” Think of it this way; before there was a manufacturer of OCPs, a distributer, a seller, possibly a doctor and you involved. Now with this mandate we will add government officials to oversee that it is being implemented and paperwork being sent to insurance companies who in turn must then have more staff to send out money to the sellers of these products who have to have staff to keep track of it all. It is not a less expensive process, it is a more expensive process.

Lastly (really) the woman who most needs this service is probably among the least likely to receive it. The truly poor will not have the full time job long enough that it will even pay business provided insurance. She will most likely continue to do without while the rest of the nations continues to train itself that it is her problem and that she should be able to take care of it.

So ask yourself the question:
If it isn’t good for women
If it isn’t good for men
If it isn’t good for children or families
If it isn’t good for your wallet
If it won’t reach the poorest of the poor who might actually need it
If it isn’t healthy for women’s bodies
If it isn't good for religious freedom
Who is it good for?

There’s a question worth pondering.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "There may be no more urgent task today than that of renouncing religious superstition and freeing ourselves of its grip, but we're not likely to do so by abandoning the spiritual tradition that taught us to be wary of religious superstition in the first place."  Gil Baily

QUOTE II:  "Secret griefs are more cruel than public calamities."  from Voltaire's, "Candide"


This was sent in this week, "The Franciscan Sisters, T.O.R. of Penance of the Sorrowful Mother now have a Facebook page to spread the news about the Community and the message of God's Merciful Love! It would be awesome if you all could "like" the page and then recommend it to and share it with all of your friends on Facebook! The page is just getting started but its hoped to be a tool to spread the message of God's Merciful Love as well as fun videos, photos and news from the Sisters! Please help us spread the message by spreading the word about the page! Also, be sure to check out the Postulant Entrance photo album for those of you who know Anna Ciarrone as she just recently entered postulancy!"

There has not been a lot of snow this year - but Sebastian enjoyed what little we had.

Attention Chesterton fans - V. D. sent this in, "I want to thank all of you for voting for Gilbert magazine, and for getting the word out to your local society members.  Although Gilbert readers may be considered by some to be a "niche market", we could more aptly be called "Small but Mighty". in other words, what we may lack in numbers, we make up for with zeal and determination! We know we need to make G.K Chesterton more widely known, and this little electoral race is set up to reward our spunk by allowing voters to vote every day. As of this morning, we are in second place with 29% of the total votes, behind Catholic Answers who have 36%. There are just over 3 more weeks of voting."  Cast your vote here.

If you haven't already, please make sure to vote every day , and remind your group members to do the same.

Fr. D sent notice that he has a new article up on WOF blog.  Have a read here

From the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter:  "The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and its President, Cardinal Timothy Dolan dispatched a February 22nd letter to all of the Bishops of the United States including Cleveland Bishop Richard Lennon, encouraging all Catholics to "Act now, by contacting our legislators in support of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act."  Read more here.

Here is a ten minute video to help clear up some of confusion over why the we as Catholics are so upset over the HHS mandate.  H/t to P.V.  You may agree 100% with him but he makes many, many good points.

Debunking the Co-habitation myth.  Read more here.

Monday, February 27, 2012


I don't think quickly on my feet.  If I have to get up into the pulpit and make an announcement about someone leaving their car lights on, I want a note with me or I get tongue tied.  I mull things over for a long time before I come up with a witty come back usually long after everybody has moved on to another topic - or gone home - and are already in bed.

That's why I hate situations like this.  This happened recently with a couple I had not seen in years.  People I genuinely like.

I've tried all the tricks of association and what not people recommend.  I think my cranial storage system is just too much of a mess.  Like my desk, it just takes me a while to find things.  And when something gets misfiled it is difficult to put it in the right spot.  I have a friend named Phred (yes, it is spelled that way.)  When we first met I tried that association thing - I used the "Ph" in his name and for the first year of our friendship I called him Phil.  Another friend of mine, Todd, I called Scott for two years.  He just looked so much more like a Scott.

Here's my theory:  People who are good with names are so because when confronted with a person the first thing they do is go to their cranial storage facility and pull out a name.  I go their and start looking for pictures - for context.  For example:

I'm immediately thinking, "Kids?  Job?  Joys?  Problems?  What do you remember about their lives?"  Unfortunately this is a long process.

Friday, February 24, 2012


There is another aspect of symbolism that may be built right into your building. Well, actually, it IS your building. For some of you there will be a wealth of symbolism, for others, none at all.

Particularly for older well thought out buildings there will be all kinds of symbols hidden in brick and mortar. The very direction that your building faces may be significant. Before Vatican II it was stipulated that churches be built on an east-west axis. Churches that were not built thusly received permission to be built otherwise but the Mass was said to be facing “liturgical east” as opposed to actually facing east. This was because the priest faced the same way as the people – toward God – toward the east, the east symbolizing Christ with the rising of the sun (Son.) The rose window in a west wall then was said to allow the last rays of the sun, which was setting in the west, to fall on the words of the Gospel which would be on the altar, which, in the extraordinary form, would be open facing the people.

Notice that if you have pillars, far more often than not there are twelve of them no matter the size of the building. Twelve represents not only the twelve tribes of Israel but also the twelve apostles. It is a number that means “the whole Church.” The twelve pillars then represent the whole Church gathered at every Mass.

Colors may mean something. For example, one church no longer in the hands of our diocese had their twelve pillars made of different colors of marble representing all the different people of the world. Another parish (who has since changed their color scheme) once had an interior done in red, white, and blue (sounds garish, I know, but it was actually done quite tastefully.) This tied in the colors of the flag of the nation that this nationality parish represented as well as the colors of the flag of the United States.

Once again there is a danger here of seeing symbols where they do not exist and missing them where they do. For example, there was one parish that I though the architect had purposefully put crosses on the doors by the design of the windows. “Pure coincidence,” he replied. (And they wouldn’t have worked that well as symbols anyway.) On the other hand, common doors can be full of symbols. While attending on class on set designing for the theater the professor told us to be careful of the type of doors we design into a set. “For example,” he told us, “never use this common door on the set that takes place in a Jewish neighborhood.” The door is one you might find in your house with one vertical board running down the center and two cross beams, the bottom one being quite a bit wider that than the other two. The vertical and one of the cross beams make the Cross. The wide cross beam is the open Bible.

More modern churches may have other symbols. One may be in the shape of a boat to represent the bark of Peter (or the Church) or, as in one case in our diocese, it was designed to look like a dove or the Holy Spirit. Once again, access to archives helps tremendously in these endeavors.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


What would you do right now if you had a crush on God?

We are in a season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. What could you do right now – this very instant – to send God a note saying how much you appreciate him?

Prayer is easy. Just say it right now. Two seconds is all – on your way to use the restroom. Just say thanks – or say the name of Jesus – say a prayer for the person annoying you. Anything – like sending a quick text to someone you love just so they know that you are thinking of them.

Fasting – pour out the rest of that coffee. It’s getting cold anyway. Pass up the treat in the lunch room or kitchen counter that is a left over from Fat Tuesday. Let someone else eat it. Pass on the smoking break, the gossip, the next five minutes surfing on the computer, the television half hour, give something up and tell God, “I’m doing it for you – I’m sacrificing for you.”

Almsgiving – Set a dollar aside right now. Reach in to your pocket and set aside a dollar and ask God to tell you how to use it. Let him bring someone to mind (maybe much later) that needs a dollar and know that this is set aside for that person – even if it is someone of means and he is looking for a dollar to pay for a snack out of a machine – or to put in your Operation Rice Bowl later – it is set aside. Sometimes it is more important for you to give something away than for the right person to get it. Or maybe pack up some of the clothes that you no longer use – or some trinket on your desk – give it away.

Today is the day for prayer, fasting, and almsgiving – for telling God in a special way that you love Him.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


C. S. Lewis once wrote, “If you and I want to evade some dangerous duty, the best plan is to find one or two other cowards and do our shirking in company.” True enough. But the opposite is also true. If you and I have some difficult business to be about, the best plan is to find one or two other thusly burdened persons and do the task together. Such is the Lenten season upon which we embark today.

As you walk about and see a smudge mark on the forehead of your fellow Catholics, you know here is a person abstaining and fasting today also – who may be trying to pray more – who is cutting something they like out of their lives in sacrifice – is almsgiving – going through caffeine withdrawal – getting up early to exercise the temple of the Holy Spirit – who is improving, becoming more like the being God created us to be just like I will be striving to do.

Take comfort in that.

And remember, our observance is not meant to be a temporary fix up. Last year we should have advanced a bit in the spiritual life. Granted, it may have waned a bit, but some progress should have been made. This year we build on that! And next year we will build on what we did this year. It may seem like a season of hardships, but it is in fact a season of with great payoffs.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "The way you use your freedom will determine your destiny."  Steve Pokorny

QUOTE II:  "Violence is a labyrinth. . . The paths that seem to exit from its madness so often lead deeper into its maze."  from Gil Baily's "Violence Unveiled"


Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday.  Here are the rules for fast and abstinence during lent.

Here is something to help you celebrate Fat Tuesday!  Thanks M. D.

Great pro-life video sent in by P.V.  Thanks!

Another insight on the HHS mandate.  This article is sent in by M. B.  Thanks.

From the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter: "Confusion and questions have surfaced following President Obama's attempt at a compromise on the nationwide mandate of insurance coverage for sterilization, abortifacients and contraception.  The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has renewed their call to legislative action on religious liberty. They cite three factors."  Read about them here.

Monday, February 20, 2012


The entire staff here at
the world headquarters of
wish you a happy
Presidents Day!

To help celebrate this day the staff of Adam's Ale is spending the day with their families.  We will all return to work tomorrow.

God bless,

Fr. V

Friday, February 17, 2012


 Decorative painting outside an occasional picture seems to be a fading if not dead trend. Modern architecture does not seem even to lend itself much to it. This is a shame if we consider our church buildings “catechism in stone” or “catechisms in sheet rock and particle board.” It is an opportunity not just to make our churches look “pretty” but to continue opportunities for education in the faith.

I suppose however the first step is to separate the merely decorative from something that has substance. The decorative is not bad for after all the Mass is a slice of heaven on earth and our buildings might represent this by trying to mirror that beauty. It is, however, simply not our concern for this project.

Paintings of saints are the easiest for they are the most obvious and what we talked about with statues is applicable here also. Other things might not be so clear. Take for example paintings of angels. They might be a merely decorative touch – or they might be a reference from Scripture depending on where they are. Two angels kneeling by the tabernacle might be reminiscent of the arc of the covenant, a cherub on a frame might denote that what is pictured is holy but other than that is decorative. There is a danger both in reading too much into what is there (at which point readers will roll their eyes and say to themselves, “come on”) and missing some very interesting and informative possibilities. Especially if you have a highly decorated church, take your time and give it lots of thought.

Painted symbols might also need more explanation than statuary because they can be a little more difficult to understand. Take the time to explain some of it. For example there was a local church that had in its sanctuary high in the ceiling what looked like to be a giant “S” with three vertical slash lines through it. It looked a bit like a dollar sign; an “$” but with two additional slash lines. This is not a great thing to be misinterpreted for. It was so taken incorrectly that when the church was redone this symbol was replaced. In actuality it was “IHS” put together in an artistic form such as you might find your initials sewn on to your bath towels. “IHS” is the first three letters of the name “Jesus” in Greek and so make up His monogram. This kind of information is very helpful to those for whom you are writing.

There is also the possibility that your church was white washed or had greatly reduced former painting. Such is life. In a separate chapter you might want to find old photographs and tell the symbolism of what once was. This is one reason why: our seminary chapel is a bizarrely constructed building. One can find information of how it was once used and all of a sudden the layout starts to make sense. The paintings that once covered the walls tell the story in more detail. Having the story and the pictures do not change anything today, but besides being interesting explains much and gives a greater appreciation of why it looks the way that it does today.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


I was on a much needed retreat last week. Trinity Retreat House is a retreat center run by the Diocese of New York and it is specifically for priests which changes the tenor of the house tremendously in much the same way that if a person was going on retreat they might choose one either for married couples or for single persons depending on their state in life.

The retreat master gave eight signs that a priest is seriously off track and in spiritual danger. Here they are:

1. Prayer ceases to be a part of your daily life.
2. Devoting more and more time to entertainment.
3. An over valuing of the opinion of the media.
4. Seeing God’s way mocked and it no longer bothers you.
5. Give yourself reason to be angry and judgmental.
6. Removing oneself from brothers in ministry.
7. The Holy Mysteries of the Church celebrated functionally.
8. With forethought harm those in the Church with detraction.

Now, there are commonalities between everyone’s way in life so these can be largely used or slightly adjusted to help diagnose a non-clerical spiritual life. Let’s give it a go:

1. Prayer ceases to be a part of your daily life.
2. Devoting more and more time to entertainment.
3. An over valuing of the opinion of the media.
4. Seeing God’s way mocked (such as by a comedian) and it no longer bothers you.
5. Give yourself reason to be angry and judgmental.
6. Removing oneself from the community of faith and their functions.
7. Perhaps being present but not giving yourself over to the celebration of the sacraments.
8. With forethought detracting others from the faith/Church and her people.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


It’s good to see you,” you might say to a friend.

“It beats the alternative,” they might reply.

There is generally are two paths, one positive and one negative. This is of course speaking in broad generalities. In any particular case there may be a number of alternatives and extenuating circumstances and results that may not be at all pleasant in a particular case or all positive in another. But in the grand scheme of things, there is the positive and there is the negative.

For example, recently I spend some time with people who were ready to die. They did not hate life, they knew their time was coming and they were ready for it. “I am looking forward to seeing heaven,” one said to me. That’s the way I want to be. Why spend your last days bemoaning the fact that they are your last days on earth? Begin living eternal life right now. After all, what is the alternative? Being miserable.

Mom was always excited about getting lost. Driving to another state and finding ourselves accidently in the middle of nowhere with no idea how to get back where we should be (an increasingly more difficult thing to do with GPSs) she would get excited. “Let’s see what can discover that we would otherwise have never seen.” Actually we did discover some pretty amazing things – sometimes things that turned out to be the highlight of the trip. We made the best of it. After all, what was the alternative?

Sometimes it seems we train ourselves to be angry. When stuck in traffic, or we burn our toast, or someone doesn’t empty the dishwasher, or any of life’s many perturbences, we get angry. One the one hand we might say, “But of course! Life did not go the way I wanted it to – or the way it should have – or could have – and there was waste of time and resources. It could have been better.” And of course we would be correct. So we get angry and frustrated – even nurse those feelings. After all, what is the alternative?

The alternative is to say, “This is the way things are. I can choose to continue to be angry or I can make the best of it.” Yes, there are things about which we should be angry. Yes, there are some pretty rotten things in the world that we are not capable of being happy about, but too often we choose not to be happy when the only reason we choose anger or sadness is because we are supposed to feel that way. We spend much of our lives practicing the reaction to these situation. After all, what is the alternative?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Seek what you seek but not where you seek it."  Saint Augustine

QUOTE II:  "Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God."  G. K. Chesterton


MB sent an article in.  One paragraph reads, "Many people, (including our editor) are wondering why the Catholic Church doesn't just ditch this requirement. They note that most Catholics ignore it, and that most everyone else finds it divisive, or "out-dated." C'mon! It's the 21st century, they say! Don't they SEE that it's STUPID, they scream."  Read more here.  Thanks!

MQ sent this article in that reads in part, “Coverage for abortion-inducing drugs such as ella is not preventative women’s healthcare. This intrusion on rights of conscience by the Obama Administration claiming concern for ‘women’s rights or human rights’ puts dangerous ideology over liberty."

Here is a video of archbishop Dolan's interview on this matter.  Click here to see it.  Very enlightening.

From the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter:  "WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) today (February 6, 2012) sent a 4-page letter to Attorney General Eric Holder calling on the Department of Justice to halt a new mandate under President Obama's health care law that will force religious organizations - including Catholic hospitals, schools, and charities - to participate in coverage of medical services that violate their religious beliefs, or pay massives fines. Portman contends in the letter that the mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, a bipartisan law signed by President Clinton. The letter calls on Attorney General Holder to enforce that law and order HHS to withdraw its regulation."  Read more here.

Dr. E sent this in:  "On March 21, 2012, 7:30 p.m., Fr. Brian Davies, OP, will deliver Borromeo's Annual Aquinas Lecture in Philosophy. Under the title "God the Creator," he will respond to contemporary objections to God's existence, especially the argument that science disproves God.

Here are some of his writings:

On the new atheism HERE

Some of his homilies HERE

MD sent this video in.
We are so lucky!  Fr. D. sent in his latest article!  Thanks!

Monday, February 13, 2012


A couple things about today's post. First of all it may seem the wrong type of post for Monday Dairy, but there is truth to it in an allagorical sense. Secondly, those of you who have read Adam's Ale for a number of years know that when I come back from retreat there is always at least one odd post such as this. Let's just live through it together. Things should return to normal tomorrow.

Anyway - here is the story - no title as of yet. Hope you enjoy.

Father Victor placed the object on the empty refectory table. His young apprentice Charles looked at the long object wrapped in old oil cloth and asked, “Can I see it?”

Father Victor sighed. “Are you sure you want to? I told you that it was very evil.” The echo in the empty room made his words sound even more ominous.

Charles shrugged. “It won’t kill me will it?”

“No. Not physically. Not just looking at it on the table.”

“Then let’s have a look.”

“Unwrap it then.”

Carefully Charles unwrapped the oil clothe. Inside was a dark, sleek, shiny stick of some sort about three feet in length. It gleamed from the evening light passing though the leaded windows.

“It doesn’t look so dangerous.”

“Not looking dangerous is part of its danger.” Father Victor leaned over and quickly but carefully wrapped it up again which he then secured with leather strapping. “I have to get this where it will no longer be a source of danger to us. The journey will not be an easy one. You were chosen to accompany me because of your intelligence and your fortitude.”

“Not my holiness?” the young man asked jokingly. But it was responded to with a cool, “No. It is hoped that this journey will help you grow in that area.” The young man blushed and looked down. The priest continued, “I need you to take this seriously. If you think you don’t want to do this tell me now. I won’t have you doing more damage than good.” His stare was level and cool.

More to stall for time than anything else the young man asked, “I suppose there is a reason we can’t just bury it or put it in a closet or throw it out and forget about it.”

“You are correct. But you already knew that.”

The priest held the young man’s glare for a considerable time. Their stomachs growled for they had been fasting in preparation for the journey. The younger one broke the stare first. “Whatever,” he said picking up his journey sack, “Let’s get going.”

“No,” the priest said, “Not ‘whatever.’ You are either committed to this or not. This is not something to be taken lightly. If you don’t take it seriously the very souls you are trying to protect may come to deeper harm. Now, are you ready to take this seriously?”

“Yes,” the young man said with a bit of resignation and then hoisted his pack higher on his back.

“Not yet though,” said the priest, “First we eat.”

“I thought we were fasting.”

“We did. Now we need food for the journey.” And so they ate.


They set out into the night passing through the gates that kept them protected from the dark of the forest that surrounded them. The young man grew alarmed for the trees blocked out most of the light from the moon and many strange noises emanated from unseen places to their left and right, sometimes high up and sometimes seemingly from under their feet. He kept close on the heels of the priest who seemed to have a preternatural instinct for where they were going.

“Nice forest.” It was the first time either of them had spoken for some time and the young man said it with a certain amount of sarcasm hoping that his voice did not betray his fear.

“This forest is from where you came,” said the priest.

“Any particular reason we have to go by night?”

The priest merely responded, “Because it is night. Possibly just the beginning. Or maybe the end of night. But it is night.” A comment which seemed both obvious and mystical. Either way it was met with the roll of the eyes unseen by the priest in the dark.

They walked on for an hour more when Father Victor suddenly stopped and held up an unseen hand which was met by collision from behind. “Hey!” the young man called in surprise.

“Shhhhhhhh.” They were still for a moment. The young apprentice tried hard to detect something but could not discern anything different from what they had been hearing since they set out in the woods. Suddenly a hand grabbed him by the collar of his shirt that took him to the side of the path and then forced him down in a crouch. “Quiet,” said the priest. “Look over there in the field.”

There were lambs; hundreds of them. Their white fleece glowed in the light of the moon. Something like an ominous black shadow crept slowly across the field inching its way closer and closer to the sheep who seemed oblivious to its approach. When it came close to the nearest of the sheep it suddenly leapt forward enveloping the sheep, destroying it, devouring it without a sound though by the way the sheep thrashed it was in obvious pain. The shadow continued across the field to the next and the next and the next, taking the sheep while not causing much of a stir. Soon the young man could make out that the shadow was actually a dragon. He felt for the dagger in his belt and began to leap up to go after it.

“No,” said the priest in a loud whisper.

“What do you mean, ‘no?’ Don’t you see what it is doing to all of those sheep out there?”

“Yes! Of course I do!” Father Victor replied with a certain amount of irritation. “But that is not our mission right now!”

“How can it NOT be our mission?”

“Because it could become even worse if we do not stay focused on what we set out to do! This is a wicked, wicked thing, and we need fight that dragon too, but not today.” And he grabbed the young man by the collar again and they continued their journey through the woods.


Another half a mile brought them to a woman sitting on a stump. She had her face in her hands and her long hair cascaded in front of her. It was obvious that she was crying. The young man stopped looking as though he wanted to go over to her to comfort her. “Steady my friend,” said the priest, “this is not the time.” Despite this warning he walked up to her and placed his hand on her shoulder.

“Are you Okay?” he asked.

The lady looked up and though her face was streaked with tears glimmering in the faint moonlight, the young man was surprised to find a smile on her face. “I’m fine. In fact I’m more than fine. I am exactly where I should be doing exactly what I should be doing. I am achieving my goals.”

The young man took a couple of steps back. “I am terribly sorry. I didn’t mean to disturb you. I thought you were crying.” The priest let out a discreet cough behind him.

“Why would I be crying?” Then she thought for a moment, “Well, maybe I was crying, but it was silly. I am really quite happy. My oracle told me so.”

“Your oracle?”

“Yes. Here.” She held up a blue glowing orb in her hand. “It suggests ways to me that will make me happy and then tells me how to achieve them. So far I am right on schedule and life is really, really good. Honestly. It is. I am right where I want to be. All I have to do is take this potion.”

She held it out to the young man who took a whiff of it. “Smells vile.”

“It’s poison,” said the priest.

“It is not poison!” protested the lady. “It is power!”

“How can poisoning your body make you more powerful?”

“But it does! And it is not poison. Do you not see how happy I am? How much happier I am than people were in the past?” she asked still retaining the smile on her face but tears still streaming down her cheeks. “I am achieving things. I am on schedule and in control. I am really very happy.”

“Excuse me, but you don’t really seem it.”

“Boy,” said the priest in a warning tone, “This is not our mission.”

“How dare you!” cried the woman. “Just like you and your kind to say such a thing! I should know if I am happy. Not you!” A chorus of “Yes!” came from deeper in the woods. “Who is the destroyer of dreams and happiness?” came a call of thousands of voices.

The woman turned to the woods, “There is a young man here and a priest! They tell me I am eating poison! They tell me I am sad! They want to destroy my happiness!”

The young man was grabbed by the collar again and in his ear the priest hissed, “We are losing sight of our mission. Let’s go while she summons up her troops or we may never make it to our destination.”

The young man stammered a, “Yes!” and they were off into the darkness before they could be caught in a quagmire that would swallow them up and keep them from their journey.


“Now will you listen to me when I tell you to ignore these distractions?” the priest asked quite sternly.

“But they just seemed so important,” was his lame reply.

“They ARE important. That’s what makes them so distracting. One day we may come back to them but they are not our mission today. Tell me that you are finally understanding this.”

In a humble tone the young man said, “Yes Father.” But no sooner had he mumbled these words that came across three men in suits standing around a cauldron in the middle of the path. “Who are they?” whispered the young man to the priest.

“Pay no attention to them. Just keep walking.”

“Ah young man,” one of the men beckoned, “I have some interesting news for you.”

“For me?”

“Keep walking,” said the priest.

“I am not to listen to you. We are on a mission and I cannot be distracted!”

“But my news is about your mission.”

“It is?”

“Yes. Very important news.”

“Keep walking,” the priest pressed.

“Yes Father.” But one of the men threw something in a pot and hundreds of tiny red figures came flying out. Then at then at the end a couple of sickly green figures flew out. The young man stopped in amazement despite himself. “What in the world . . .”

The man said, “The red darts that you see . . .these are everybody who thinks that your mission is silly at best, deadly at worst. The few sickly green moths you see fluttering about are those who think your mission worthy. One of them represents that priest there.”


“Boy,” the priest yelled, “Don’t listen to that siren! Don’t assume everything he tells you is truth.”

“But it is!” said the man.

“And even if it is,” continued the priest, “truth is not determined by majority vote!”

“Well said priest,” said the man, “But what say you to this?” Visions of people popped up. Some were happy some were sad. “The happy ones, they are the ones that listen to the oracle. See how happy they are? See how many things they have? See how much freedom they enjoy? These sad ones? This is how your priest wants everyone to live.”

“Listen to me,” said the priest to the youth, “They can dress it up any way they want to. With selective editing you can make any point seem true. Don’t fall for the oracles the way you saw the others down the road!”

“Ah, but see this!” This time an image of the priest appeared but one that him look ancient, his clothes outdated, and horns protruding from his head suggesting that he was the devil himself. It was the priest and it was not the priest. It was truth and a lie married together.

The last image was too much for the youth. He had been lulled into the images the men were showing him but this last marring of the image of someone he cared for revolted him. “No,” he cried out, “That is outrageous! Make it go away.”

“Why should we?” the third man asked. “Can you not handle the truth?”

“That is not truth!”

“No? Come sit with us. We will debate you. You will soon see that it is truth.”

“How could you possibly?”

“Here. Come sit. We have all the time in the world.”

“Do you hear what they were saying?” the youth cried out to the priest. But the priest was gone. Only a dark figure could be seen walking away. The youth then realized he had been sidetracked from his mission once again and with a cry of exasperation tool off after the priest.

“Come back coward!” cried the men, “You are losing the argument!” But the boy continued running until he not only caught up to the priest but passed him and walked in front of him leading the way. Neither said a word.


Finally they came to a break in the woods and saw what appeared to be a giant, treeless mound. The youth was about to march over it when he was grabbed once again by the collar. “Stop,” the priest said, “We are here.”

“Where is here?” the youth asked perplexed. “I don’t see anything here but this giant mound of sand.”

“That isn’t sand,” said the priest. “Touch it.”

The young man reached out to the towering heap and found that indeed it was not sand at all but fur; mounds and mounds of fur. “What in the name of our God . . .”

“Come, let’s walk around it.” As they walked the mound seemed to suggest some shape. Though much of it seemed like mounds of fur covered fat, there was a suggestion of giant paw, possibly an outline of a leg, and a tail that at its base was over the youth’s head. Finally they came to what appeared to be the head. There were rhythmic gusts of wind and lips that went, “bbbbbbbb” with every breath. A giant ear that must have done deaf stuck up in the air. When youth tripped in a rock and fell on his knee and cried out, there was not the slightest reaction from the giant beast. “Can you tell yet what it is?” asked the priest.

“I think it’s a lion. A gigantic lion. But then again, distorted somehow.”

“It has been asleep for a long, long time. It’s grown fat and lazy. It is very comfortable here in the woods and as long as it stays quiet nobody bothers it much. But it’s time to wake it up.”

“How do you wake up a giant, deaf, next to comatose lion?” asked the youth.

For the first time in a while the priest smiled. “I am so glad you asked. I will show you.”

They took a journey back around to the other side of end of the lion where its motionless tail laid out like a long furry freight train.

“Catch,” said the priest and he tossed the oilcloth package he had carried on the journey to the young man. “Open it up.”

The youth obeyed and picked up the object inside – the evil thing that the priest said threatened to destroy them. “It’s a sword,” the youth said. I hadn’t realized that before.”

“Read the inscription on the blade.”

“It says, ‘His Royal Majesty’s Sword, the Lion Slayer.’”

“Now,” said the priest, “Jab it as hard and deep as you can into the lions haunches.”

“I though the lion was on our side, that we were here to save the lion from the king.”

“We are.”

“Then why am I stabbing it with what you called the evil, deadly sword?”

“Because the lion has fallen into a deep sleep. Sometimes it takes something this shocking to awaken it. Sometimes it takes a good stab in the haunches to get the lion to wake up, summon its power, and defend itself. It will sting, but an angry lion is better than a dead lion. You can do something with an angry lion, a dead lion just needs to be buried. Now, go on. Take aim at the fattest part you can find and stick it in with all of your might and say a prayer that it works.”

The youth held up the sword with both hands, pulled back over his head and thrust with all his might.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Today is the fifth anniversary of Adam's Ale!  It appears that the value of the site has gone down about $30 from last year - hopefully that is the work of the economy and not quality of the blog . . .

IN OTHER NEWS: Before today there were 1,418 posts, 280,763 visits with an average of about 175 people per day - still more than hear my daily homilies so I guess we'll keep it up a spot longer at least.

OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets
Created by OnePlusYou - Free Online Dating

Yikes!  It used to be rated G.  The site explains that this is because the word abortion is mentioned six times, drugs three times, death twice, and porn once.  Of course if the same criteria were applied to my homilies they likely would be rated an X or two.

It's been way out!

And just for the heck of it - do you need a saint?  Here is a Saint Name Generator.

A final note to all of you readers, you were prayed for today and a candle lit in St. Augustine church in Larchmont NY.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Those of you who belong to St. Sebastian should be familiar with at least a couple of works by artist Eric Armusik.  Two of his paintings of Saint Sebastian were displayed in our parish during our patronal feast day.  Have you ever wondered what drives a Catholic painter?  Mr. Armusik was kind enough to be a guest blogger today to let us find out.  Thank you Eric.

January 20, 2012, the Feast of St. Sebastian is a day I'll never forget. Though I've been a professional artist now for 18 years, and I've created art for several churches, this day was special. It was as if I was trapped in a movie of my own life and a flashback happened, propelling me back 30 years into my childhood. You see, unlike a lot of successful artists in my genre, I didn't grow up with artistic parents, or have access to museums, art classes or even books on art history. I grew up in a small mining town in northeast Pennsylvania called, Ashley, just outside of Wilkes-Barre. All we had in abundance were mountains of black culm and abandoned coal breakers. There was a bright spot though for me, something I hadn't even reflected on until years later as an artist - I had an art lesson each and every week when I attended 9AM mass every Sunday, at St. Leos.

Now, for anyone who isn't familiar with the Wilkes-Barre area, the community was heavily populated with some of the most beautiful, Gothic cathedrals you'll find anywhere. It is not uncommon to find several Catholic churches on one block. I know it sounds strange. Why would they have so many churches on one block? Diversity of course! On one three block section in town, there was a Polish Catholic church, a Lithuanian Catholic church, an Irish Catholic church, a Russian Orthodox Church a Greek Orthodox Church, a Slovak Catholic church and a German Catholic church. And everyone knew if they went to the mass outside of their nationality, it didn't count. Ha!

Getting back to my being a child in that pew at St. Leos on Sunday...

For a very long time, I did not realize the impact my church and the churches in the area had on my career choice. I was just a little boy admiring and studying the very thing I so desperately wanted to do someday. Even then, when I had no idea where, or how I would learn how to paint; I knew it was all I wanted. I knew that a fire was set inside me and that I needed to find a way.

When I had the opportunity to study art in Italy during college, I found myself seeking out churches all over the country with any free time I had. To me, it was a calling. In my mind, nothing else existed but high art – the art commissioned by the Church. To me, it was not just paint, it was an experience. It did something, it was not ephemeral or stagnant – it inspired!

Years later, when I truly embraced my calling as a religious artist, I began to understand my attraction to this form of art. I desired to create art that spoke to the human heart. I want to inspire and motivate. I wanted to show what my faith meant to me and the best gift you can give others is to express your passion through inspirational art. In the end, I believe that is why I'm so successful as a religious painter. I have that connection, that deep faith and zeal for what I believe. And, because of this passion, it overflows and is made manifest through my work. I refuse to just paint a figure because any decent artist can accomplish that! I paint an experience, I capture a moment, a murmur, and a breath and though it may not always be peaceful or cheery, it means something.

When I painted Saint Sebastian, I was centered. I wanted to best express his suffering, his fortitude, his courage to stand up for his faith at any cost. The choice to use myself for the model was deliberate. Painting religious work is something not very popular in the art world. Often, I get negative feedback from other artists.

The process of painting this beautiful artwork was for me, extremely cathartic. I meditated on his suffering. In my mind, it was all about sacrifice. You feel St. Sebastian's pain. You see is legs are caught mid tremble as he attempts to remain standing but, the force of the arrows collapse his will. Five arrows representing the five wounds of Christ draw parallels between him and his faith. His mouth is open as he inhales from the pain and the shock of his torture. That hurt, that agony, is forever captured to reflect upon – trapped for all eternity in paint and varnish. He is animated by my admiration and understanding of his sacrifice. In my opinion, only a devout Catholic could translate that.

When Father commissioned me to paint yet another Saint Sebastian, I was thrilled! Not only did I have a fantastic patron, but a man who trusted my talent and vision – as an artist, that is a dream. Armed with enthusiasm and artistic license, I went to work. This time, I decided the moment would be more solemn that violent. I wanted St. Sebastian’s gaze to be mournful, thankful and quiet. There is something so tender in St. Irene’s hand as she extends it to tend to his wounds. There is an understanding between them and once again, it is forever captured to reflect upon.

These painting will outlive me, my wife, and my children. They are concrete reminders of my talent from God and the relationship forged between Father and I over the love of ar,t and its relevance to our faith. That understanding humbles me. It makes me continually reflect on God’s purpose for me. I know, without any doubt, I am right where He put me.
It is all about redemption and desiring to be better than we are. It is about never giving up on ourselves and others. Though I was a just a kid from a lower middle class family with no art direction, no idea how or where I’d learn to paint, God provided. He brought the art to me every Sunday and inspired and cultivated that desire right there, in His church. How awesome is that?

When I saw my painting, "St. Sebastian," being raised behind the cross of the main altar at St. Sebastian's Parish in Akron, Ohio, I felt a tremor within me. It was almost a tearful moment. I was that person now - the one that would inspire the congregation though dramatic and spiritually nurturing work. And then it hit me, maybe I would inspire that next little boy who may be sitting in a pew dissecting the layers of paint and trying to mentally figure out how to paint a hand. To me, that truly was a miracle of epic proportions. I feel blessed to have befriended Father Valencheck as both a patron, and a dear friend. To have my work enjoyed and cared for in such a profound way, gives me consolation that I am doing what God put me here on earth to do. God bless.

If you would like more information on Mr. Armusik you can find him at his website here.  On his site is also his Email address if you would care to send him a message.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: “[I’d] like to find out what He was all about, separate the reality form the mythology . . . I was raised in a good Methodist home and I had questions about organized religion, and I would love to have the answers.” Hugh Hefner about his life’s regrets in Niche Magazine. h/t to PV

QUOTE II “‘Eternal life’ is life itself, real life, which can also be lived in the present age and is no longer challenged by physical death. This is the point: to size ‘life’ here and now, real life that can no longer be destroyed by anything or anyone.” from Pope Benedict XVI’s, “Jesus of Nazareth Part Two” h/t to EG


CK sent this in. The minister is not Catholic but she does hit the nail right in the head. Read here.  It had me chuckling.

On retreat this week.  If you are reading this I lit a candle for you (and for St. Sebastianites) at this church.

PV sent this in:  "“October Baby” is a beautiful portrayal of forgiveness and healing. It is a moving and powerful story of a young girl, and her search for the truth, the truth as to why she is alive. The film, which is based on a true story, also has a startling twist to it. The ending scene in the trailer is not acting but was actually real for the actress who portrays the mother. It shows how the mercy of God can come to us in the most unexpected and unimaginable ways.

Frank sent this in just for laughs. And though I laugh it isn't so funny. This happens to be regularly at the rectory. (Fr. Pf can attest!)

From the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter: "The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that almost all employers, including Catholic employers, will be forced to offer their employees' health coverage that includes abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception." For more information or for directions on how to write or call your representatives click here.

From the same source: "Every 5 years each bishop makes an "ad limina" visit to the Vatican to meet with the Holy Father and the offices of the Holy See. Currently Bishop Lennon and his fellow bishops from Ohio and Michigan are in the Vatican for their visit." Read more here.