Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Last week a letter to the editor in the Akron Beacon Journal appeared that said (and I quote loosely) that the Catholic Church should stop telling people how to vote for it is not good for public discourse.  There are so many things wrong with the sentence I don’t even know where to begin. 

Here are just some of the things wrong with that sentence.  First, who is the Catholic Church?  Well, everyone who is Catholic.  Although it may feel otherwise at times, the “Church” is not clergy or the Vatican or nuns in a convent.  It includes them, but it is not them only.  The reason it may feel otherwise at times is because the “Church” is also a belief, Tradition, a set of philosophies, and a way of living.  When we forget that, leaders of this community (or servants of this community depending on how one sees it) call its adherers to remember basic tenants of their way of life.  If we stand for “A” and a candidate running for office stands for “B” at the destruction of “A”, it is incumbent on those who hold “A” to say, “Hey!  When you go to the polls, don’t forget ‘A’!”  To not do so would not only be irresponsible and negligent, it may lead to great harm for the people who live “A”.
And why is the Catholic Church so often singled out?  What if Union Workers thought a candidate was going to be good to the union?  There would be signs everywhere saying, “This candidate is endorsed by the Union!”  Why is it good for them to have said that and not a religious body?


Further, the Catholic Church does NOT tell people for whom to vote.  That would be a violation of our tax standing.  But it does weigh in heavily on issues, which one candidate or the other may hold or not hold.  How on earth can one avoid that?  But even so, there is the odd perception out there that there is some neutral way of living  - some mysterious base that is best for all people.  This is false.  There is no neutral way of being.  Every way of living, even those that try to purge religion from them entirely, comes with basic assumptions, philosophies, rules, and boundaries.  Catholic!  Do not be bullied into thinking you are forcing your way of living on others otherwise you are being acted upon in exactly the same way that your accusers are laying in you.  Your position, your way of seeing life, your vision for America is just as valid as any.
And as for not being good for public discourse: Since when is it better in the United States to silence a voice in order for there to be better discourse?  If someone were serious about public discourse they would eagerly invite a Catholic point of view into the conversation (and not a disgruntled Catholic who all too eagerly dumps Catholic teaching as being too Catholic.) 
To what other group is it possible to say they should stay out of public discourse on life in the United States?  What if the letter had said that a Jewish League should remain quiet at all times or that GLBT Community should not have an agenda nor tell people how to vote on issues?  What would be the point of them even existing?  There would be riots.
It is true that we may be the big kid on the block and we can’t wield our beliefs like a bludgeon, but neither are we to apologize for being the big kid or be pushed off the block on which we live we live too.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "What a weakness it is to love Jesus Christ only when He caresses us, and to be cold immediately once He afflicts us. This is not true love. Those who love thus, love themselves too much to love God with all their heart." St. Margaret Mary Alacoque
QUOTE II:  To evangelize is to declare to the various areas of the culture that Jesus Christ is Lord. … Evangelization doesn’t compromise culture, it elevates it.” —Father Robert Barron

This past week was the anniversary of the death of our founding pastor.  A priest friend took this picture and sent it to me as a reminder to pray for him.
One of our families lost their home to a fire this past weekend.  The house was a total loss but they are doing Okay it seems.  One of the very few things that survived was this painting of Jesus that he was working on.  It is what made me think of the quote above.
This was sent in to assist us in getting help to where it is most needed: "The County of Summit Office of Consumer Affairs Director Cynthia Sich warns consumers to be leery of fraudulent charitable contribution schemes and home repair scams that may appear after damaging winds or flooding.

"Consumers should avoid donating money in response to social media messages, Facebook posts, tweets, unsolicited email or websites related to Hurricane Sandy because many of these might be sham requests. Also, it is not uncommon for these shysters to use familiar sounding names that mimic legitimate organizations.
"To make your donation count know who you are dealing with, contact:
1. The Ohio Attorney General at (800) 282-0515 to see if the company asking for your donation is registered to fundraise in Ohio or do an online search at their website:
2. Resist pressure. Legitimate charities or fundraisers will send you information about the charity’s mission, how your donation will be used, and proof that your contribution is tax deductible."
From the Diocese of Cleveland Enewlsetter:  "As we approach this coming national election, I feel it is necessary and appropriate for me to republish a column I wrote before the 2008 national elections. A good number of people have asked me to reprint that column in which I explained from our Catholic perspective the heart and meaning of the bishops' Faithful Citizenship document."  Read more here.
From the same source:  "Thursday November 1st is All Saints Day---a holy day of obligation in the Catholic Church in which all the faithful are to attend Mass."  Read more here.
From the same source:  "Did you know that the Diocese's Year of Faith web site features short video testimonials. Currently featured is a video-testimonial from Cleveland Indians Radio Broadcaster, Tom Hamilton. Visit the Year of Faith web site to view the video."  See more here.
P sent this in:  "Historians, architects, archaeologists and volunteers in Germany are teaming up to build a medieval monastery the old-fashioned way. Working conditions will be strictly 9th-century, without machines, rain jackets or even coffee. It will take decades, but they hope to garner fresh insights into everyday life in the 800s."   This is pretty neat.  See more here.

Monday, October 29, 2012


SO . . . This past weekend, in order to help celebrate Priesthood Sunday, Fr. P and I held a dinner at the rectory for seminarians and any young (to youngish) men of the parish who are considering priesthood.  It could range from those ready to sign up tomorrow to those who give it the remotest possibility such as if the French Foriegn Legion should regect them.  We would have considered it a success if two or three guys showed up, but eleven signed up (though one had to cancel due to other responsibilities.)  Wow.
It started off a bit rough however.  These ten guys with no real former connections (they were from all kinds of age groups) kind of sat around and stared at their glasses of pop as if they had all been sent down to the principals office and were too embarrassed to recognize each other.
The first half of the night looked a bit like this:
And sounded like this:
And felt like this:
But we were fortunate also to have four seminarians there.  Over dinner (a fabulous dinner prepared by a volunteer from the parish who heard about the dinner and wanted to be a part of it AND who just had knee surgery on Friday but STILL made dinner) the priests and seminarians told their vocations stories.  They all had similar themes - our hearts were restless and found peace when we started pursuing God.  (Very Augustinian no?)  But, the big guns were saved for last.  Fr. O's story is a whale of a tale and succeeded in making everybody loosen up:
NOTE: Despite the depiction above, there was no beer or smoking at the event though it is true that the land war in Asia was not a success.
At this point everybody loosened up a bit and things became a little more fun.  One of things used to entice guys to come was a climb up the bell tower and I quote, "IF the weather was good."  It was not.  It was not remotely even mild.  It was the beginning of the Frankenstorm.  Sebastian didn't even want to go for his walk.  So I offered an alternative:

The point of the afternoon was not to lure these guys into becoming priests.  God will have to do that if it is His plan.  The point was for the guys to see that there are other men in the parish who are also considering this life - they are not alone.  And they at least asked the question seriously once.  Please keep them in your prayers.
And it was also nice getting to know these men a little better also.  For instance, I found out that Paul (below) is afraid of heights, the full extent of which we did not fully realize until we were seven stories up in the tower with low railing overlooking Akron in a rainstorm.  Nice timing to come clean guy.
Also, thanks to Anthony, a seminarian who came to St. Sebastian this weekend to promote vocations.  He and our two seminarians, Jeremy and James, and the seminarian assigned to the parish for the year, Brian, made the day great.  Keep these guys and they guys of your own parish in your prayers that you may have priests available to you when you need them.

Friday, October 26, 2012


Today is just a cleanup of some last notes about ordination.  It is interesting to note how many times Mrs. Fenner makes reference to “The priest and his mother . . .” It almost seems that Dad has been excused or is late of our company.  Modern senses might want Dad to be far more involved.
That being said there is a practical reason Mom is so relied upon: the priest does not have a person with whom to exercise the duties of hospitality at his own reception.  He has no bride.  And the reception is not so much being thrown in his honor as it is he is throwing a reception for those kind enough to have shown him support over the years.  A priest needs his Mother.  Apply that as you will.
Seminarians: in general, you will need to warn your mother about what will happen to her as you near ordination.  She will receive a lot of attention.  More than if you were getting married.  The larger community has a stake in your new vocation in a more visceral way and since you are away at seminary she can become a lightening rod of attention.  I remember my Mom being warned by mothers who went through ordination and she then warning mothers of future mothers of priests about the attention that they will receive. 


That is not to say that things are not expected of the father.  It is traditional (but not mandatory) that the dad give a toast at the reception followed by words of the pastor and then the newly ordained.  Monsignor Manners highly suggests that you have your remarks prepared in advance and that you keep them concise as possible.  People want to hear you and when you take the microphone they will have broad smiles and shining eyes.  This is a highly emotional event and you most likely will be quite overwhelmed.  There is a (horrible) tendency to begin droning on and on, repeating yourself, over and over; going over the same things again and again, then remembering someone else to thank, and declaring how wonderful you feel over and over. (Get it?)  At this point smiles will become strained, some of the sparkle in people’s eyes will fade, and your friends from seminary will start snickering.  Don’t be that guy.  People will be afraid to come hear your homilies.
The new priest should also be prepared to give some gifts.  Generally there is a reception after the rehearsal – especially for the seminarians and your MC who will be helping out with your first Mass.  Mom might make something (or Dad grill something) or just order pizza.  Nothing fancy is needed.  If you have relied heavily on your MC and/or pastor, some small token would be appropriate.  They are instrumental in making the day run smoothly since you most likely will be torn in twenty different directions.
Then there is something for Mom and Dad.  A traditional gift for mom is the manutergium.  Most technically this no longer exists in the ordinary form of ordination.  At one time it used to catch the excess Chrism oil used on the priest’s hands at ordination.  Today, the priest wipes his hands on a purificator.  But carrying on the tradition, Monsignor Manners had a purificator made (that I had over my cincture) that had, “In honor of my sons ordination.  The Rev. John A. Valencheck DATE” embroidered on it (white on white), which I gave to her at the reception and with which she was subsequently buried when she passed.  If you are not into such things there are many other meaningful choices.
One idea that a classmate came up with was a pen.  Each to-be-ordained must write a letter to the bishop asking for Holy Orders.  We purchased nice pens, wrote out our letters, made a photocopy of the letter and gave it and the pen to our fathers as a thank you gift.  Be creative.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


How often do you see a movie about Martians coming to earth and we assume the best from them and we immediately become good and mutually beneficial friends?  It’s about one step away from never. They are almost always soulless beings of evil intent bent on destroying the American way.  And because they are hostile and soulless, we have a peaceful conscience in wiping them out from the space in the universe that is wasted on them.
The sad part is that this is not just a vision of the future, it is a reality from our past.  Inconvenient people are branded as soulless beasts, less than human, often hostile, and therefore we are right to take their land and goods, enslave them, kill them, until we learn otherwise.  (Should it not be the other way around?  Assume people are human worthy of respect until you learn otherwise?)
It is the exact same argument that continues to divide our nation today.  Can human beings in the womb be labeled soulless globs of cells?  Can they be branded as hostile to their host when in every case the baby is completely innocent in the process of showing up in the womb?  It may be a horrific set of circumstances how he ended up there, but isn’t he innocent of it?
Today we face the question: How are we going to label these lives that, left on their own, will become an acceptable, ensoulled part our community?  Every time we vote we are deciding what kind of people we want to be in this regard. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


True story:

A friend of mine is having a book study on Vatican II.  Once, when they were done, they went out to eat.  He happened to place his Flannery VATICAN COUNCIL II documents book down on the table as they ate.  A man passed by and saw the book, identified himself as a member of a local break away congregation, stubbed his finger on the book and suggested that if they truly wanted to live Vatican II, they should come join them who are truly living the spirit of Vatican II.


My friend asked, “How could you possibly be living anything connected to Vatican II when one of the primary documents of the council was a call to unity particularly around our pope and bishops?”
“That’s not in there!” the man replied.
“It most certainly is.  I suggest you read the documents as we are.”
Just for the record, it is in fact in the documents.  In fact, it is in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium.  Here are just a couple of examples where such a thing is stated:
Chapter 5: “Hence the universal Church is seen to be ‘a people brought into unity from the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.’”
Chapter 38: “Like all Christians, the laity should promptly accept in Christian obedience what is decided by the pastors who as teachers and rulers of the Church represent Christ.”


Even from this poverty of example, it would be difficult to sight the spirit of VII giving a wink and nod to a congregation striking out on their own.  But this is just one example of many things people claim to be in the spirit of VII but perhaps is not there at all – or is in fact counter to the council.
How did this happen?  First of all is the desire for where some people wanted the council to go.  And instead of following the council closely, they rode the wave of what was perceived as the general flow of the council, as if the council was the first springboard of discussion setting a trajectory far beyond what was stated.  This happened to me as I was assigned to a parish as a seminarian.  It was stated to me by one of my professors that I would enjoy this assignment because, “They have gone beyond Vatican II.”
What happens when VII documents directly contradicted the “spirit” understanding?  Something along the lines that Luther used when confronted with teachings contradicting his statements from the book of James.  He called it an “epistle of straw” and urged people not to pay too close attention to it.  Again, something similar happened to me in the seminary.  Bringing up something directly contradictory to what one particular professor was teaching we were instructed that that part of the document was a “compromise” and that it should be ignored.  There may be some truth to what the professor said but what else have we but what we have?  Could not the Spirit have maneuvered what we perceive as the “compromise” if that is what He wanted?
Then there is the promotion in a lot of Catholic and secular media alike that interprets the VII documents with a hermeneutic of discontinuity as if the Church before the council ceased to exist and something new was born.  But that is not, never has been, and never will be the nature of the Church.  The Church of the 1400s is the same Church of the 2000s, and, if we are still around, will be the same Church of the 2100s.  It may evolve, but it never cuts and begins over.  It is a terrible mistake to read the documents and think, “old bad: new good.” 


Rather it should be read with the hermeneutic of continuity; how does the Church before VII flow into the present day Church?  How is it one?  How is the mission continued?  How is it taken as a whole?  Whenever division is part of the hermeneutic (old vs new – hierarchy vs laity – traditionalism vs progressivism) then you know you are on the wrong track.
It was also taught to us in the seminary that has always taken at least 50 years for any council of the Church to be properly implemented.  (The day after Trent closed there was not a universal change in the Church.)  I thought it had something to do with communication and with modern ways of getting the word out it would take much less time.  But such is not the case.  It has little to do with communication and much more to do with human nature and the working out of what some wanted a particular council to say and what it actually said.  It needs fresh eyes.
So here we are, fifty years from the council.  I am sure there are people at all ends of the spectrum who are disappointed in the spirit with a little “s” (for this spirit could swing in any direction the interpreter wished it.)  When the tide of wishes (nothing wrong with that) pulls back revealing the bedrock of the actual council, there are many who will feel betrayed; both those who think the Church is progressing too much and those who are afraid we are being drug backward in time, when the mirage is gone and we encounter what is actually there.
This Year of Faith the pope has asked us to once again engage the documents.  To not only read them once again (or for the first time) but to meditate on them.  Stop relying solely on some misty spirit of understanding of the mountain that is VII, but to walk through the mist and touch and understand the mountain itself.  It is time to embrace the true spirit of Vatican II.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "The poor have been rebels but they have never been anarchists: they have more interest than anyone else in there being some decent government.  The poor man really has a stake in the country.  The rich man hasn't; he can go away to New Guinea in a Yacht."  from G. K. Chesterton's "The Man Who Was Thursday"
QUOTE II:  "Although nealy every American lives in a lifestyle more luxurious than any medieval king, we all want more."  Christopher Kaczor in "This Rock"
With the elections coming up have you had a chance to read the Faithful Citizenship document?  Go here for more details from the USCCB.
Catholic Directory want to help you find a Mass wherever you are in the U.S.  Look here.
Oh the mystery!  The Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter sent out this tantalizing headline, "The Diocese of Cleveland announces the appointment of a pastor for a parish soon to be opened:"  Read more here.
From the same source:  "Did you know, a new web poll question pertaining to Halloween has been posted to the Diocese of Cleveland web site this week? The question is can be found in the middle column of the web site under the heading, "Take Our Latest Web Pole.""  Find the survey here.
This in from the Amercian Chesterton Society:  "Dear Chestertonian, We're excited to announce the release of Dale Ahlquist's new book, The Complete Thinker, published by Ignatius Press."  Read more here.
The actor Kevin James (aka The King of Queens) talks here about his Catholicism:

Monday, October 22, 2012


There were a number of events at the parish this weekend.  This is what happened at two of them.  One was the Monster Mash; the mother/son "dance" in which all were supposed to come in costume.  Fr. P and I stopped by.  (Glad I spell checked!  I originally write "Monster Mass."  That would have garnered some comments I am sure.)
Between the time I spent in the theater and constantly being dressed up in my role in the Church, getting dressed up at Halloween just doesn't do anything for me.
What I do find funny is seeing how differently this and the father/daughter dance differ:
The moms chat, the DJ plays music, and the boys play gym none-stop save to grab some punch and eat a cookie.
At the father/daughter dance there is actually dancing.  The girls form an amorphous clump right in front of the speakers while the dads stand still and mute in a semicircle around them nursing their punch.  Just picture a junior high school dance but one in which the boys are taller than the girls.
Another event this weekend was the Knight of Columbus 5K race.  After giving the blessing it turns out they actually expected Fr. P and I to join in.  We did what we could.

If I'd known being in a race could be so relaxing, I would have taken it up years ago.

Friday, October 19, 2012


Say that you are invited to an ordination; what does that mean?  Depending on the size of the cathedral and class size, the ordination ceremony for diocesan priests are quite often open to the diocese.  And First Masses of thanksgiving, because they are sacramental in nature, are open to the general worshiping community also.  But it is an honor to be specifically invited to such an event.  For both occasions those attending should dress as though they are attending a wedding Mass.

An invitation to the reception is most often another matter.  Though at times a simple reception is held and all those who attend the Masses are welcome, most often there will be a dinner arranged for invited guests.  And though it may range from very formal to a more relaxed atmosphere, unless noted the dress is the same as for the Mass.

Almost every year someone wanting to give a newly ordained a gift will ask me what to give him.  Firstly, as in all celebrations no gifts are required.  There is no payment due for an invitation issued.  Your presence is what is gift.  But most do wish to make some sort of acknowledgement in this way.

My advice?  NO RELIGIOUS PLAQUES.  Very few people can carry this off and get what the priest will want to look at on his office wall for the rest of his life or at least the next 10 years of it.  And there is usually a box full of interesting wall plagues that he has stored away somewhere.  Similarly are other religious items that are considered bric-a-brac.  If you are picking something out for his ministry be very careful.  He will have certain tastes and if you buy him an expensive silk stole with realistic hand stitched images of the four Evangelists but he is in to burlap with felt flowers, your gift will not get much use.  Likewise be careful about liturgical books and things such as sick call kits as several of these may find their way into his hands.  There are ways of finding out what the man needs.  A recent development has been registers at the local Catholic store, but though helpful, this seems a bit off color – as if one is expecting gifts.

It should be remembered that the man is still a man and will need the very average things that most young men need.  This is very extravagant but one of the best gifts that I received along this line was a set of luggage that I still use today.  A sweater that looks good with clerics I still cherish though it is getting on to a decade and half since I have been ordained.  To everyone but me it is time to let it die a peaceful death. 

Unlike priests who take a vow of poverty, a young diocesan priest may accept monetary gifts though most etiquette books abhor the notion and I normally would agree.  This will highly depend on the individual man, but many come from simple means, have been students unable to work much of their time in seminary, will not be making much by way of compensation, and have accepted that they will be living simply.  They may have been nursing a car along for the past number of years and reliable transportation is imperative in the ministry.  (I am thinking of my decades old Ford LTD that regularly shed pieces of its body as I drove down the street.)  For these reasons both Mrs. Fenner and Monsignor Manners make an exception to the “no money as gifts” rule – for it can be seen not so much as an excuse for the thoughtfulness of a gift, but a donation toward a ministry.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Yesterday I had a funeral for a family member and a cousin from California who did not grow up in Barberton or have the opportunity to visit very often came in for the occasion.  Afterwards we sat down for the funeral luncheon at Prince of Peace Parish were they served a traditional Barberton/Slovenian meal.  All of a sudden, in the middle of the usual rumble of conversation that typically takes place at such a meal we heard, “WHAT IS THIS?  AND WHERE HAS IT BEEN ALL MY LIFE!”  Growing up in the deserts of California this young man did not have the advantage of Slovenian sausage, Barberton chicken, and chicken house hot rice, staples in these parts.  A long conversation ensued about shipping chicken dinners all over the country with dry ice, where to go to get the best canned hot rice to take home, how family usually stops at Al’s Meat Market before heading back to their respective parts of the country so that they can enjoy such delicacies year round.  This meal was a great time to catch up, make connections, and tell stories.
If you have a rectory of more than one priest, some of the best collaborative work gets done over dinner, or so it has been in the case of my last three assignments.  There is the danger of us all kind of going our separate ministerial ways and not keeping up too much with each other and what is going on.  And believe me talking about these things over dinner is far better than scheduling another meeting.  There are few things more annoying than making time for another meeting that nobody (except for some character in a Doonsbury cartoon that loves meetings and talking at length at them at length) wants to attend.

It was interesting therefore to hear a few priests who have incensed around the altar a few times being a little disheartened about a few of the oils-not-yet-dried priests who fail to grasp this concept.  They did not grow up with dinner.  Many things can make this complicated: divorced parents, sports, drama, music, whatever . . . dinner was something you grabbed to eat in the car on the way to the next activity (or worse yet, that one takes into the family room in order to watch T.V. while filling one’s stomach.)
Dinner is important.  It may seem silly to insist on keeping one’s elbows off of the table or that the knife goes to the right of the plate with the serrated edge facing the plate, but if kids do not learn this at home, they probably won’t learn it and it will put them at a distinct disadvantage during important (often job related) moments of their lives.  It not only keeps the family together and informed (as painful as that can be at times) but it also teaches how to carry this forward into the future – as when they sit around the rectory dining table. 

The rectory needs to be a place of dinner just as much as the family home.  Both of my previous pastors demanded it.  “This is not a hotel where you get fed on your schedule.  You will be at dinner at least X amount of time.”  We are not putting an undue burden on our children by insisting on dinner as often as feasible, we are preparing them for family, social life, and work/vocation.  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


We (and most dioceses) are darn lucky that we have retired priests.  If it were not for the retiredpriests we would be quite diminished.  That is not even counting the priests who go at it and quit only when the tread has completely worn off the tire or they die with their boots on.  At 70 or 75, these so called retired men fill in gaps so that Masses may still be said when there is nobody available, help out in confessions to cut down on the lines, they may take over parishes temporarily when a pastor is gone or sick, they teach, give spiritual direction, and assist in a hundred different ways.  This is critical in a diocese when unexpectedly we had to open a number of parishes and staff them when one of the reasons it was said that they had initially closed was that we were having difficulties staffing all of our parishes.  God bless you retired priests!


That being said, how bad is it?  Is this dark period in Catholicism in America?  At least it is a challenging period.  But it is not unusual.  Remember the Scripture, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” Luke 10; 2.  Perhaps it is endemic to the vocation that it will always need more men.  It keeps a sort of balance going – causes us to pray for and appreciate vocations – does not let us slack on our prayer.
What can you do for vocations (besides prayer that is?)  Be creative.  The first thing that made me think about it (however mildly) was when I was in grade school coming down off of the altar after serving and (what seemed to a little boy) an ancient lady placed a dollar in my hand and said, “You would make a great priest.”  She started it.  I wonder if she knows.
In a couple of weeks we will be having a dinner at the rectory for men high school age on up who are thinking about the seminary.  No pressure.  Just prayer, dinner, camaraderie, and possibly a climb up the bell tower.  The point is for them to understand that they are not alone even in the parish.  It is being put forth as being for those who fairly serious about the idea to those who might do it if the planets align correctly and God sends them the sign of a red headed unicorn.  There are already a few young men signed up.
Begging the Harvest Master is imperative but it is not enough.  We must also rouse up the potential harvesters!  What are you going to do today?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Had angels been your priests, my brethren, they could not have sympathized with you, have had compassion on you, felt tenderly for you, and made allowances for you, as we can; they could not have been your patterns and guides, and have led you on from your old selves into a new life. as they can who come from the midst of you."  from Blessed John Cardinal Newman's "Men, Not Angels"
QUOTE II:  "A central finding of this study is the extraordinarily high rates of priestly happiness and satisfaction.  The finding are strong, replicable and consistent: priests, as a group, are very happy men.  They like priesthood.  They are committed to it.  They find much satisfaction in their lives and ministries.  In fact the satisfaction rates of priests are among the highest of any way of life or vocation in the United States."  from Stephan Rossetti's book, "Why Priests Are Happy"
"The Restless Heart" a film about Saint Augustin (the trailer can be seen on last week's Quote Tuesday) is showing in Massilon tonight at the Lincoln Theater at 7PM. 

Below is a picture of a Zimbelstern.  It is a new feature on our new pipe organ.  We didn't think we were going to have one but somehow it mysteriously showed up.  But I'm not complaining.  It is really wonderful though limited in use.  To learn more than you every wanted to know about Zimbelsterns, GO HERE.  About a minute and thirty seconds into this mp3 you will hear one.
Fr. E sent this in:  10 ways to celebrate the Year of Faith.  Thanks. 
This was so popular that I thought I would run it again.  From Lori, "If you go to this link you can sign up for a small, readable portion of the Catechism to be delivered into your email daily.  The deliveries began yesterday and will continue for 1 year, at which time you will have read the WHOLE CATECHISM! :)  So sign up now!"  Thank you for sending it in again.
The Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter asks, "Did you know, the Diocese Cleveland has created a special "Year of Faith" web page?"  See it here.
There are some interesting developments from the Chesterton Society that you can read and listen about here.  You may also learn more about (and join!) the Saint Sebastian Chesterton Society by clicking on his picture to the right of your screen.
Frank sent this in.  How could anything SO VERY UNCHRISTIAN also be so very funny? 

Is that what Jesus would have done?

Eric sent this in.  It is at least interesting to contemplate.  Thanks.

Monday, October 15, 2012


Sorry to have taken another week off of blogging. We were on our diocesan priestly convocation; a three day event that all diocesan priests are supposed to attend to catch up on the goings on of the diocese, hear what is on the bishop's mind, attend workshops, and build camaraderie.
I usually room with my best priest friend at these things but we developed a bit of a sound level problem.
Which usually lead to week of us looking like this:
Anyway, I was able to snag a room for myself, which being an introvert/recluse was a glorious self indulgence.  Knowing that I would have a few hours to myself every day I brought along a suitcase (sad but true) of books and papers I wanted to read but never had the time to do.  Here there would be distractions!  Here there was nothing else pressing!  Here was the ideal opportunity!
Here is where God said, "It's time for you to catch up on sleep."  Save for my Chesterton reading, the suitcase came back as unread as it left.
Of course, the card games going on until midnight didn't help.

The best part of the week is getting together with all my brother priests of the diocese.  We are a diverse lot to say the least.  It just goes to prove that there is a priest for everybody and somehow we still muddle along.  It is like Fr. Benedict Groschel once said about the Catholic Church being the one true Church.  "It has to be," he said, "for if it were not, we would have destroyed it a long time ago."
Still, it was nice getting back to the ranch in West Akron.  An early frost killed off what was left of the cutting garden and so the house was treated to some bouquets from the volunteers that came to prep the garden for winter.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012



I thought that I would be able to post the rest of this week but as it turns out, it is not likely.  The priests of the Diocese of Cleveland have come together with their bishop for a few days of prayer, talks, and some relaxation.  It turns out that I am too busy relaxing to post.  So I will see you next Monday for Monday Diary.

God bless,

Fr. V

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Remember, in many ways, it's a far higher ideal to live an ordinary life in an extraordinary way, to serve an ideal amid the drab, humdrum surroundings of every day life and still retain a vision of the common man as a shadow of God."  General Donn A. Starry
QUOTE II:  "Wings are a burden even for the majestic birds that climb to the clouds, but without them they could not fly."  St. Escriva

Sharon sent this in O Men of God:

Here are two bits of Chestertonian news from the program of The Pirates of Penzance that was performed at the Standford Shakespeare Festival this past summer.  The first is a quote from the program concerning Gilbert and Sullivan in which he wrote, "it will be found that this Victorian nonsense will prove more valuable than all that was considered solid Victorian sense . . . And may be that in the remote future that laughter will still be heard, when all the voices of the age are silent."
The second bit o' news concerns the Steampunk movement of which I wrote a couple of times.  The term itself was not coined until 1987 but Chesterton is one of the authors that is considered highly influential in the movement of these retro-futurist.

RESTLESS HEART: The Confessions of Saint Augustine is a new movie coming out!  Here is a preview:

Bishop Paprocki gives a strong six minutes speech concerning the upcoming election.  See it here.

News from the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter:  The Year of Faith begins tomorrow.  "In his Apostolic Letter, PORTA FEDEI, Pope Benedict XVI has declared October 11, 2012 to November 24, 2013 as The Year of Faith for all Catholics across the globe."  Read more here.