Friday, March 30, 2012


Believe it or not there are about 6 safes and vaults at St. Sebastian.  Some of them have been abandoned and are used for storage more than anything else.  When I first got here we were digging through one in the rectory and way in the back in a black box was this chalice.  We brought it over to the church and had it cleaned up. 

I am told that this is the "Saint Sebastian Chalice."  It was commissioned by our founding pastor Msgr. Zwisler.  He requested that the ladies of the parish who had diamond jewelry that they were no longer wearing donate the diamonds to the parish to be incorporated into a chalice.  (If anybody can collaborate or correct this account it would be appreciated.) 
 That the diamonds were donated from various pieces of jewelry would explain why they differ in size so.  The diamonds range from incredibly small to one of respectable size.  (I wouldn't be too excited about diamonds however - like a car it is amazing how quickly they go down in value once they leave the jewelry shop.  As one lady put it, "Call off an engagement and see how much you can get back for that diamond!) 

Just below the cup there is a ring of 9 diamonds.  At the node there is a Chi Rho made up of 16 diamonds.  Around the node is a ring of 16 diamonds.  Around the base is another ring of 31 diamonds.  There is a circle of diamonds around a "Tau" or Greek letter "T" that represents the Cross.  The circle has 12 diamonds in it and the Tau has 3 diamonds in it.  Also in the Tau are 3 blue sapphires and two tiny pearls.  This makes a total of 87 diamonds, 3 sapphires, and two pearls.  It is very striking
Around the base of the chalice is the inscription, "Sancte Sebastiane ora pro nobis" or "Saint Sebastian pray for us."  Below you can see the paten which is very simple.  There is the interwoven monogram "IHS" for Jesus.  Once again you can see me taking the picture in it.  Thanks to our sacristans for keeping things so well polished!

Saint Sebastianites will see this chalice on feast days that are particularly important to the parish such as on St. Sebastian Day.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Interestingly nobody made a peep that there was going to be rubrical changes in the Mass when everybody was either cheering or bemoaning the new Mass translation. There are quite a few that will hit us during the Triduum. The savvy Catholic (or the one not deeply in prayer) will notice a few changes (assuming that your priest noticed that there are, in fact, changes in what we are to do.)

Most are pretty innocuous. There are a few you might pick up on however. Here are a few:

GOOD FRIDAY: Instead of walking in and going directly into a prostration, the celebrant and other ministers will bow and then lay down in prostration.

The deacon has a stronger role in the ten petitions now. The “Let us kneel – Let us stand” is now optional. Congregations are encouraged to either kneel or stand through the whole of the singing of the petitions.

For the revealing of the Cross the first option is to have the deacon present the priest with the Cross in the sanctuary and as the priest uncovers the cross it is he that intones the response three times. The Cross is to be covered in violet (not red) and ALL are to kneel momentarily after each response.

It is still permissible to process the Cross in from the door of the church, but in this instance the Cross is NOT covered.

Here’s a very interesting one: Now the priest is to remove his shoes and his chasuble when he venerates the Cross.

Last interesting one: The ministers will now genuflect to the Cross (the Blessed Sacrament being taken away) before leaving the sanctuary.


When entering the darkened church with the Paschal candle, the presider now lights his candle after the first “Thanks be to God.” Everyone else lights it after the second. The church lights, save for the candles at the altar, are also lit at this point.

Before the Gospel, the celebrant is supposed to intone three solemn alleluias which are answered by the people before the Gospel procession begins.

Before communion the presider may address the newly baptized and those welcomed into the Church about the specialness of their First Holy Communion.

There are other changes but they are comparatively minute. These are the ones that, if you have been to the Triduum before, might cause you to look quizzically and wonder, “I don’t remember that.” That is because we haven’t been doing it that way!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Today we are blessed to hear from our correspondent in Rome, Fr. Ott, about fasting.  Even though the end of lent it is very timely.  Read at your own risk for now you will know. 

To understand why Catholics (and many other Christians) don't eat meat on Fridays in Lent, we first have to understand the roots of the disciplines of fasting and abstinence in general. Then we need to see what it is about Fridays in Lent that make abstaining from meat an appropriate thing to do.

Fasting in the religious sense refers to consciously limiting the amount of food one consumes, for the purpose of arriving at a deeper spiritual awareness. It is a very ancient and biblical spiritual discipline (cf. 2 Sam 12:16; 1 Kgs 21:9; 2 Chr 20:3; Ezra 8:21; Jud 4:13; Esth 4:16; Joel 1:14; Jonah 3:5-7; Acts 13:4). So what does limiting my food have to do with my spiritual life? Eating is something that we generally do rather instinctively, without thinking much about it. I simply feel hungry, and so I go get something to eat, and then I don't feel hungry any more. But when I intentionally disrupt that cycle by fasting, it takes me off of "auto pilot" and helps me to realize what wonderful gifts our creator has given us. Life itself is a most amazing gift, as is the rest of creation, which sustains us and makes life worth living. When we fast, it causes us to stop taking things for granted. Thus it helps me to become more humble and grateful to God for his blessings of life and creation. This is why fasting and prayer are often linked together (cf. Lk 2:37; 5:33). The reordering of priorities, and the renewed sense of blessing and purpose that comes from this brings about greater mental and spiritual clarity, which is why it is often done to prepare for big decisions or life changing events (cf. Acts 13:4; 14:23)

Abstinence is a more specific kind of fasting, in which one completely omits a specific food or activity, often because of its symbolic meaning. This is also an ancient and biblical discipline, often requested by God himself (cf. Gen 32:33; Ex 22:30; Lev 11:4-11; Deut 14:7-21). We don't always know the reasons why God has asked for abstention from various things at certain points in history, but mystics and thinkers sometimes try to guess at these reasons, so that they might have a greater sense of purpose in obeying the law. Deut 14:21, for example, says "You shall not boil a kid goat in its mother's milk." Some have suggested that this is because this was actually a foreign religious practice, and therefore it was inappropriate for Israel to undertake it. Others reasoned that boiling an animal in the milk of its mother was just inhumane.
In the case of abstaining from meat during the Fridays of Lent, you won't find this specific rule in the Bible, because Lent did not exist yet when the Bible was written. But both the season of Lent and the discipline of abstaining from meat on Fridays are practices that are deeply rooted in biblical imagery.

The concept of a forty day pilgrimage is very well attested in the Bible. There are several periods of "forty days" in the world-purifying story of Noah and the flood (Gen 7:12, 17, 8:6). Moses spends forty days up on Mt. Sinai, receiving the Law from the Lord (Ex 24:18). Elijah journeys for forty days to escape Jezebel and get to the mountain of the God (1 Kgs 19:8). And of course, Jesus fasted and prayed for forty days in the desert (Mat 4:2; Mk 1:13; Lk 4:2).

It is out of this tradition that the Church established the forty day season of Lent. During this time, we seek to draw nearer to Jesus by going "into the desert" to fast and pray with him. And giving up meat on Fridays is part of this Lenten pilgrimage project.

To understand why this is, it is helpful to substitute "meat" with a more archaic word that means the same thing: "flesh." This gives a twofold mystical meaning to our abstinence. It can first of all remind us of the sacrifice of Jesus. On Good Friday, he gave himself completely for our sakes: flesh and blood, soul and divinity. When we give up "flesh" in this minor symbol of abstaining from meat, it is a small token reminder of the supreme sacrifice that Jesus gave up for us on the Cross.

The second meaning comes from the Bible, especially the Pauline letters. St. Paul likes to use the word "flesh" to mean "a proclivity to fall into sin" (cf. Rom 7:5, 25, 8:3-13, 13:24; 1 Cor 3:3, 15:50; Gal 4:29, 5:13-24, 6:8; Eph 2:3). In particular, he emphasizes that by conforming ourselves more perfectly to Jesus, we allow our "flesh" (i.e. tendency to sin) to be crucified (i.e., destroyed) along with his "flesh" (i.e., his body) (cf. Gal 5:24; Eph 2:14)

Now, to be sure, there were some cultural factors that led us to adopt this symbolic action. Eating fish instead of meat has at times been a symbol of solidarity with the poor, since fish was sometimes seen as poor people food, since you could catch your own for free. Some have even suggested that there was a time when politicians in areas of Europe with a large fishing industry promoted this discipline as a service to their constituents. But none of these reasons, if they ever existed at all, matter to us now, because these conditions no longer exist.

So, why do we give up meat on Fridays? The Church is just asking us to make a significant action each Friday to remind ourselves that the Lord died for us on that day, and that we should respond by continually asking him for the grace to turn away from sin. And I do mean EACH Friday. Before Vatican II, Catholics were asked to abstain from meat every Friday of the year. After Vatican II, this specific discipline was limited to Lent, but we are still supposed to do something sacrificial every other Friday of the year. I think the hope was that faithful Catholics would go beyond the "letter of the law" and more fully embrace the spirit of it, finding creative and meaningful ways to express their union with Christ through personal sacrifices. But I think that's been kind of a flop. Most Catholics probably have no idea what this is about.

But now, you can spread the word ;)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "It is a fact that the after-effects of rape will never be erased from a woman's memory, just as she will never be able to forget that someone treated her as an object, someone attacked her with a brutality unworthy even of animals.  But not even abortion will erase this memory: those who suggest it, those who impose it, those who request it, answer violence with violence, not only towards the woman but especially toward the child, whose life should be respected like any other life concieved."  from Maria Luisa Di Pietro, Institute of Bioethics, Catholic Unicersity of the Sacred Heart, Rome

QUOTE II:  "We drink from our own wells."  Gustavo Gutierrez


Thought this was funny.  A spider was spotted hanging down in front of Eric Armusik's painting of St. Sebastian.  He looks a bit more worried about the spider than about the arrows being shot at him. 

Take in a pro-life movie this Lent (before it dissappears!)  October Baby is now playing.  More on the movie here.

M. W. sends this in:  "The March issue of the St. Austin Review (StAR) is now out. This issue is dedicated to exploring "Faith and Fiction" and contains two excellent reviews by St. Sebastian Chestertonian Matt Akers." Read more here.

E. F. wrote in to say, "Hi Fr. V.---do you know Daniel Matsui? I love his work. I thought you might be interested in seeing some of his stuff or maybe signing up for his newsletter."  Actually I do like his work and it was one of the reasons I ordered the Missal in which his works appears.  Unfortunately the rest of the Missal was a bit of a dissappointment.  Anyway, here is the online version of his newsletter.

This is Sebastian relaxing after his vetenarian's check up yesterday.  He lost another few pounds.  Looking good dog!

This past week the Akron Regional Chamber Orchest (ARCO) who is in residence at St. Sebastian and the St. Sebastian Parish Choir joined forces to perform Faure's Requiem this past week.  Great job people!

I am very proud at how many St. Sebastianites went to the rally about the HHS mandate in downtown Cleveland.  Here is the WKYC channel 3 coverage of the event with a video.  This was just one of about 150 such events that went on across the country at roughly the same time.  More coeverage here.

The Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter asks, "Did you know, there are three First Friday Clubs in the Diocese of Cleveland that host a monthly speakers series luncheon? They include: First Friday Club of Cleveland; First Friday Club of Greater Akron; and the First Friday Forum of Lorain County." Find out more here.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Before we get to the Monday diary there is at least one thing you need to know and I am generally surprised at how many people do not know this: The HHS mandate DOES cover abortion. You will have to provide a co-pay for your child to be treated with penicillin, but abortions under this plan will be absolutely free and, if allowed to go forward, is to be paid for in part by the Catholic Church – or at least they will try to make this happen.

So this past Friday there was a rally in Cleveland to protest the HHS mandate. I was feeling rather low that I would be unable to make it as we had school confessions that had to be cancelled once already, and having the pressure of being awfully close to Easter thought it an impossibility. But low and behold we were out of confessions earlier than I had anticipated and running into another person from St. Sebastian who was also lamenting the fact that we were not there, we jumped in the car and headed to Cleveland (not being wise enough to check and make sure where it was before we left.)

We ended up on the wrong side of town (where everybody was heading for the Film Festival) and had to hoof it across downtown to make it to the correct spot by the giant “FREE” stamp. We were only about 5 minutes late. There was a decent sized crowd there (I am horrible at guestimating crowd size. I am always way off when compared to an actual number.) I don’t know why, but I was rather surprised that it was an actual protest. There were signs and banners, petitions to sign, motivating speeches over loud speakers, singing and chanting. I leaned over and said to the person I was with, “Oh my gosh, we are radicals!”

You know, at one time and not all that long ago, everybody taught and generally believed what the Catholic Church teaches about sexual ethics. Since the 1930s when the Anglicans made an exception in contraceptive use for extreme circumstances slowly everybody else moved away from that common understanding to what we have today. (Apparently after 2,000 plus years God started to change His mind.) Now enlightened people believe that the virtuous path is to sicken our bodies to make them reject their natural functions, to sterilize ourselves, or destroy the living presence in the womb that can only be a human being at our whim. Some enlightenment.

So the Church did not change, everybody else did – and there is a general push to make the Church Red Rover, Red Rover let Catholics come over. All of a sudden instead of being the mainstream we find ourselves countercultural rebels. I’m not sure if I think it is cool or scary.

There is one thing for sure however, Catholics do not make good protesters. As a lot we sit in back, mumble our responses, and slip out early so we don’t have to fight traffic. So to get them to chant in full voice, “HEY! HEY! HO! HO! THE HHS MADATE’S GOT TO GO!” is rather an ominous task.

The crowd was lively and very well behaved. I was extremely proud at how well Saint Sebastian Parish was represented! It was a long drive at a difficult hour and we showed in good numbers. I am glad I will be able to say that this is one of the ways that I tried to make a difference in this matter one day.


I was very glad that the Plain Dealer covered the story front page above the fold. But then I read the article and became very disappointed. The article was very misleading. It was misleading in the following points:

1. It repeatedly states that the protest was about contraception. Yes, in part. Totally missing was any mention that the HHS mandate also covers abortion. Not once was this mentioned. If “the powers that be” truly believe in this mandate then be honest. Be very clear what it is about. Let it pass on its own merits and don’t be sneaky about it. Want to know the Catholic Church’s position on this matter? It has been perfectly public for over 2,000 years. Have the courage of your convictions.

2. It says that the mandate will effect “some faith-based institutions.” This is so highly understated as to be funny. Besides parishes there is barely another institution that will qualify outside of the Amish Church. Schools, hospitals, Universities, Social Services, almost NOBODY meets the criteria to be exempt. It is doubted that the work of Jesus Himself would have been exempt.

3. Most misleading of all is the end of the article stating that the “morning after pill” is not an abortion inducing drug. This is from the EWTN site, “So how can it be said that the "morning-after pill" or any "emergency contraception" is not abortifacient? Or that it merely prevents implantation? In fact, those who say that the "morning-after pill" is not abortifacient but prevents implantation do not realize that they are affirming its abortifacient nature when they say that it prevents implantation: since this action can only take place after fertilization and works by preventing the continued development of the embryo, it can only be abortifacient.

"This is so true that, in order to deny its abortifacient action, those who are proposing its use have also had to redefine pregnancy. By calling into question years and years of scientific certitude on the basis of which the period from fertilization to birth has always been defined as "pregnancy", some now maintain that pregnancy only begins after the embryo's implantation in the uterine wall, therefore not before the sixth day at the earliest or before the l4th day at the latest. Thus, a product that prevents implantation could not terminate a pregnancy and could not be abortifacient!

"Some, of course, are hesitant about this redefinition of pregnancy and, in order not to press the issue, will merely speak of a similarity between an action that prevents implantation and one that is abortifacient: but it is obvious in any case that this semantic manipulation has a precise purpose. In this way—as The New England Journal of Medicine says—it is possible to manipulate public opinion into accepting "emergency contraception". Merely redefining contraception to include the prevention of implantation does not alter the fact that the prevention of implantation is problematic for some people (NEJM, 1993, 328/5, pp. 354-355)."

4. Finally the PD drags out the found wanting statistic that 98% of Catholic women support the use of contraception. It is obvious they did not read the report from which it came but are parroting what they have heard. The survey did not include all Catholic women but only those who would consider themselves “in danger” of becoming pregnant. (If you did not think it a “danger” you would not be included.) You were also excluded if you were open to being pregnant, if you were pregnant or recently pregnant. There was also no effort to see if you were a practicing Catholic or a cultural Catholic.

Not fair, not accurate, not complete. Makes you wonder.

Friday, March 23, 2012


This weeks chalice is one that is in my possession at St. Sebastian.  When a class in our diocese is about to be ordained, we are taken to the diocesan archives and are shown a number of chalices that we may use during out time as a priest in the diocese (and we also assume the upkeep.)  When my class went to the archives this was clearly the nicest chalice that was set out.  I did not get it.  My classmate laid hands on it.  But it sat on his bookshelf black as black could be.  I threatened to take it away from him if he did not start taking care of it.

As it turned out I did not have to steal it - he freely handed it over since he was heading to the missions and would not have use for it.  Since then I had it cleaned, fixed, and replated and it is in use mostly on Sundays during ordinary time. 
There is not much by way of symbolism but there is plenty of ornamentation.  Around the bottom is the inscription, "Calicem salutaris accipiam et nomen domini invocabo" which translates, "I will take the chalice of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord"

On the bottom of the chalice there are a couple of inscriptions.  The first is "Made in Germany."  The second reads, "Donated by Mrs. Julia Humza January 1930." 
As you can see there is some enamel inlay and some what I suppose you might call filigree work.  On the inside is a silver bar that covers the long screw that holds the whole chalice together that is supposed to shine through he cut out work.

Which brings us to a very important topic.  Chalices should never, ever be submerged in water.  They are usually made up of at least a couple of parts or many such as the one above.  Water becomes trapped on the inside and the whole thing can rust from the inside out.
The paten is very plain.  Just above the image of me taking the picture you can make out a Greek cross that is on the bottom of the paten.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Is there something in your life that you have been working on? Maybe something like anger, or impatience, or something along those lines. Has what you’ve been doing not working? You are not a lost cause! Try something different (always in addition to prayer.)

Let us say, for example, that you are dealing with anger. Every now and then (or perhaps more now than then) you find yourself dealing with the result of having expressed rather boldly your anger. You want to stop this so you work on not blowing up. If whatever technique you are using doesn’t work, try this: Instead of only focusing on the mountains, take a good crack at the molehills. Don’t write off small perturbations as not all that important. Just as foothills lead to mountain ranges, little moments of irritation pile on top of each other leading to the stress that provides the right atmosphere for an explosion. They are the practicing grounds of anger and the foundation stones of rationalizations.
So the computer is taking a long time to start up (as mine did today) take the opportunity to practice not being bothered by it. Breathe. Calm your thoughts. Know that it is out of your control and relax. You’re a caught in traffic. Practice letting go of things beyond your control. You can be caught in traffic and remain calm (say a rosary – get a book on tape – pull off and get a cup of coffee – find what works for you) or you can get caught in traffic AND be angry.

If you are impatient practice patience in the line at the grocery store. Find a way to be happy being with yourself when there are no other distractions. Stay behind someone going slowly on the highway (at a safe distance) and offer it up. Notice how it did not take that much longer to get to your exit – and how much better you feel giving up that extra ten seconds as if they were owed to you instead of being angry at the idiot driver in front of you. You can be held up and impatient, or you can be held up and be constructive – even if it just thinking or observing.

Much of the greatest harm comes into the world because people cannot sit in a chair and just breathe twenty five times. (This is one reason why holy hours are so beneficial.) So like skiing, practice on the bunny hills so that you can build up to the double black diamonds.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


There are certain things that cannot be engineered. Like a tomato plant; they can be nourished, but they cannot be built from scratch. You get a tomato by gardening – not by inventing a tomato.

You cannot create community. Community happens when people experience something together. What makes for a strong community is a group of people having gone through something in which they come to know and admire (or tolerate) each other. Artificially constructed communities tend not to be as strong because they based on exchanges of information or getting to know each other alone. Communities springing up from a common cause are based on building something together in which they came to know and appreciate one another. This caused one pastor who was trying to build up his community to say that he wished he could burn down his church so they could come together in the building of a new one. “We did this together” goes further than the lone, “We know each other.”

You cannot create diversity. Diversity can be nourished but it cannot be artificially mandated. Diversity means I do my thing in my house and you do your thing in your house and we don’t shoot each other over the fence. Once diversity is mandated it is no longer diversity but a unified and codified way of living. Now everyone must enjoy or tolerate everyone and regional music, art, customs, architecture, etc. disappear leading us away from diversity to a new unified nationalism.

You cannot create tolerance. Once tolerance is mandated it is no longer tolerance but conformity. There are certain things total tolerance will not tolerate. Tolerance can be nourished but in cannot be forced – because then it is not tolerance.

For each of these things to be what they really are they must first of all be free – a free choice for those who wish to live them. Interestingly enough for them truly to exist there must also be an element or at least room for their opposite. If you want community there must be some who are not part of the community. If you want diversity, there must be room for those who step away and cultivate a culture that it out of step. If you want true tolerance, there must be room for those who disagree – or else you do not have tolerance.

Sometimes I think the more we strive for these things (the way we are) the further from community, diversity, and tolerance we get. It is becoming a less free, more mandated (or politically correct) more restrictive and narrow choice. It is like receiving an invitation for a wedding with the instruction of what kind of gift to give the bride and groom. At that point it is no longer an expression of your love and joy but a tax – hardly what a present is supposed to be though it be in pretty paper with a ribbon around it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Catholic dogma is amazingly optimistic and realistic about human nature.  One the one hand, it does not deny sin, but on the other hand it rejects the position of other sects and movements that say the heart has blackened.  The Catholic doctrine of man says human nature can be misdirected, but since it is made by God it cannot be destroyed."  David Fagerberg's "Stereoscopic Sight" in Gilbert Magazine

QUOTE II:  "Making a child safe involves . . . more than just avoiding the things that might harm him.  After all, even a pea can be shoved up a nose.  But that doesn't mean peas should be avoided."  Nancy Carpenter Brown's "Teaching Negatively or Positively"  in Gilbert Magazine

IN OTHER NEWS:  (Let's see how much of my inbox I can empty in the allotted time!)

Fr. D. has another great blog post on Word on Fire.  Check it out here.

CONGRATULATIONS!  The St. Sebastian Chesterton Society now has a sister organization in Cleveland!  They had their initial meeting of the Cleveland Chesterton Society, on Sunday March 18th at 3:00 PM in the GK Chesterton Rare Book Room at the Grasselli Library on the campus of John Carroll University. "The library is fully handicapped accessible, with an elevator near the front door. The Chesterton Room is on the second floor. There is handicapped parking on the southern corner of the library. (Most of the university is oriented on a SW to NE axis, so most of the buildings face towards NE, SE, NW, and SW and have N, E, S, and W corners.) 

"The Chesterton Room is the Grasselli Library's rare book room and the curator has to be present when the room is open. Future meetings will probably be in some other room in the library. If you get a chance, please express your gratitude to Chuck Zarobila, the room's curator, who is giving up part of his Sunday so that we might meet in the Chesterton room."

For more information contact Mr. John Hissong at  or if you are closer to Akron and want to participate in the Chesterton Society, click on the Chesterton picture at the side bar.

Thanks to RB for this video treat.

From the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter: "Friday, March 23rd at Noon, citizens across the country are being asked to gather outside federal buildings in cities throughout the United States to "rally" in defense of religious freedom and stand up against the Federal Health and Human Services mandate requiring Catholic institutions to pay for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception."  For more information look here.

From the same source:  "If you ask Jack Hannahan what he's thankful for, be prepared to listen for a while.  Hannahan, 32, has plenty to appreciate, starting with the realization of his dream of playing in the major leagues."  Read more here.

From the same source concerning the closing of parishes Bishop Lennon states, "As indicated in my previous statement, I promised to inform you when I had received from the Vatican Congregation for Clergy decrees associated with parish appeals. The decrees arrived on Wednesday, March 14, 2012."  Read more here and you will know exactly as much as I do.

Thomas sent in this cool sight to listen to pipe organs being demonstrated.  Thanks T.

Saint Sebastian School in the news!  Read more here.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


So a small but dedicated band of parishioners have taken it upon themselves to put the parish archives in order.  It's all there.  There just no systematic way to get at it all.  And there is a LOT of junk in the room.  When there was no place else to put STUFF that nobody wanted to be responsible for throwing away, it was placed in this room.

They've been working on it for months now and have found some pretty amazing things.  They have also found TONS of pictures of people about whom we have no idea who they are or what they are doing.  Rule no. 1:  If you are going to take pictures, make note somewhere of these things so that people in the future can have a clue as to why they are holding on to them.  Perhaps one day we will put them out in the church and see if people can help us out.

I was called downstairs to consult on a couple of items when one of the volunteer archivists pointed to a mysterious black box sitting high on a shelf out of every one's reach.

I pulled a chair into the room, climbed up on it and retrieved the mysterious, now we know plastic, black box.
I pressed a little black button on the side and . . .

It was an old fashion Polaroid Camera!  (It seems weird to call it old fashioned - it is a sign that I am getting older that things that I grew up are now antiques.)  It must be this rascal that is responsible for those boxes and boxes of pictures.  We know that the thing has been unused since I've been at St. Sebastian and who knows how long before that.  I imagined that the batteries were long since dead and that there was no film and now, digital being all the rage, I doubt film can even be found for it.  So what was to be done with it?  (Anybody out there need one?)

Now that the mystery was over I tried closing the thing back up.  Easier said than done.

Turns out that the battery was not dead - and apparently there was still film in it.  What a waist of some of the very last Polaroid film available in the world.  So back to trying to close the thing again.

At this point I handed it to an adult to close.  I was clearly not technologically savvy enough to handle the job.  But clearly recognizing that this archaic piece of technology was a dangerous instrument to place in the hands of untrained personnel, we placed it back on the shelf.

Friday, March 16, 2012


I thought for a spell that we would take a look at some of the sacred vessels used here at St. Sebastian.  Rarely do people get to have a very close look so maybe you might find it interesting. 

This is a chalice of my possession (some will belong to me, some to the parish, and some to Fr. Pfeiffer) that I inherited from the Rev. Robert Hilkert.  He was my first pastor as a newly ordained priest and just an overall great human being.  I am very thankful that he was there to be my first mentor.

This was his main chalice that used most regularly on Sundays.  For its size it is quite heavy.  He was in his 80s when I was with him and he had to use both hands to lift it up and even then he could only lift it so high.  It was also black as black could be.  I told him I would clean it for him but he thought it fine just the way it was.

Its provenance is unknown.  (Did he buy it?  Did he get from another priest?  Did he have it commissioned or was it one of many?)  All I know is that being entrusted to me the first thing I did was send it away to be cleaned.  I told the company that I thought it was not that special of a metal being heavy and completely back as it was.  It was later that I was informed that it was silver.  Solid silver.
When the chalice was cleaned I had this inscribed on the bottom:

The Rev. Robert . Hilkert
Tu es sacerdos in aeternum
Ordained 1912
Died 2005

I apologize for the quality of the pictures.  My camera just does not seem to be taking as good of pictures as it once did (is that possible or are my expectations rising?)  Anyway, you can see that there is a lot going on here.  At the base of the cup (above the blue node) there is a depictions of the Holy Spirit as a dove, olive branch in beak (peace) whose wings are holding the base of the cup.  The Holy Spirit is perched on a blue and white stone that is rather reminiscent of the planet Earth.

The base below the stone is a flame of fire - another symbol of the Holy Spirit rising from the crown of thorns (The Passion) which encircles the base of the chalice.  In the center front of the chalice is a cross with a diamond at its center.  The inscription around the base reads, "PAX NOSTRA CARITATE CHRISTI REDEMPTORIS" or "OUR PEACE, THE LOVE OF CHRIST REDEEMER."

It is thought that the paten (plate) that came with the chalice is not original.  This chalice may not have been commissioned with a paten.  Shown here (sorta - again, sorry for the quality of the picture) is the Lamb of God sitting in the book with seven seals (from the book of Revelation) holding the flag of victory and the word PAX or PEACE.

I like to use this chalice in advent and lent and for funerals.  St. Sebastianites will notice this chalice during this Lenten season at all of my Masses.  Rest in Peace Fr. Hilkert.