Sunday, March 31, 2013


May the fullest blessing of the Resurrected Lord
be upon you and your loved ones
today and throughout the whole year.
Some Easter Games for kids - look here.
Some interesting "Easter Eggs" for adults.  look here

Friday, March 29, 2013


May God fill you with His grace on this Good Friday

If you have to work today or are otherwise kept from getting to Good Friday services today, you may still offer up prayers this afternoon and unite them with Church all over the world as we commemorate the Passion of Our Lord.  If you can, I suggest to you the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
Other things to consider on this holy day:
The Vatican proclaims 65 new 20th century martyrs.  Read more here.
Pope Frances washes the feet of 12 persons on Maundy Thursday.  Read more here.
If you live locally, services at St. Sebastian Parish today:

Family Stations of the Cross:  NOON
Good Friday Services:  3:00PM
Saturday we will have the Blessing of Foods at 1:00PM.  For more information on this service click HERE.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


My parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary shortly after I was ordained.  As part of the celebrations I asked my parents if they wanted to re-exchange their wedding vows.  Mom, who was fairly open to anything, gave her one adamant answer to all of the questions we asked:  “NO!”  She explained, “I gave my vows once and I meant it.”  (That's their wedding picture to the right at the old Sacred Heart parish.)

Concerning the priesthood I have the same theory as my Mother but not the practice.  Every year in Holy Week all the priests of a diocese who can make it gather with the bishop to celebrate the Chrism Mass.  It is the one time of year that the priesthood is officially celebrated.  The bishop’s homily, speaking to his sons, is given directly to or about priesthood.  And then, as when all Catholics are asked to restate their baptismal vows at Easter, priests are asked to reaffirm their vows.  As the bishop asks “Are you resolved . . .” the entire cathedral rings out with a resounding, “I AM!” from your priests.
Also at this mass, the sacred oils used in the entire diocese the upcoming year are blessed.  Each parish has properly disposed of their oils either by burying them or burning them, cleaned and prepared the containers for the oils which are called stocks, and then they bring them to the cathedral this day to have them refilled with the new oils.  These are the oils used for the sick, for those preparing for baptism, and the sacred Chrism used for baptism, confirmation, and priesthood as well as certain other uses.
The place where your oils are kept at your parish is called the ambry.  Sometimes they are in very public places with glass doors, and sometimes they are hidden away in the sacristy.  But if you lay your eyes on it, know the journey that those oils took and the celebration that was had so that they might be available for use in your parish.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "We all readily understand that our physical energies are limited.  Distance runners approach the state of collapse at the end of a twenty-six mile marathon.  Most of us do not easily grasp that our mental resources are also limited.  This is why the individual who spills himself out in sense stimulations, who is engulfed in the mass media, is never a person of deep prayer."  from Thomas Dubay's, "Fire Within"
QUOTE II:  "Unfortunately many baptized persons depart from this life without ever realizing that they were destined to a deep communion with God.  Vocal prayer was all they knew, for it was all they were taught."  same source
Russ sent this great article in on how the Sistine Chapel was painted.  Here is a link for a tour of the chapel where Pope Francis was just elected.  Look up, look down, look all around and don't forget to zoom.  Warning if you are looking at this when you are supposed to be working: There is music in the background.
You are invited to the Chrism Mass (when priests of the diocese renew their vows and the oils used throughout the year at every parish are blessed) tonight at our cathedral.  Here is more information.
Fr. B sent this video in.  A kid in his parish made this video.  Pretty cool:


Monday, March 25, 2013


Parochial vicars (priest assistants) are moved every four years in this diocese. It is shocking to me that four years have almost past since Fr. Pfeiffer came to St. Sebastian and he will soon be moving on.  Funny, we have different views on this upcoming event.   
I am so upset that I misspelled "really" in the above cartoons.  Twice. 
I have never dealt with being the pastor and going through the process of getting a new (hopefully - we shall see) parochial vicar.  Because of this I have become rather aware of the rough job that the powers that be have.  It is so complicated somebody should really make a board game of it.
Now, one would think that one simply lines up the priests in one column and the available placements in the other and draw lines connecting the two.
But such is not the case.  It is a bit more like Sudoku.  All kinds of hidden factors come in to play. 
It isn't enough just to move the players around.  Just for example: In general you don't simply move a priest from one parish the one next door.  That can cause all kinds of problems.  One might be that the priest was very popular and the people take off and follow him not giving the next guy a chance.  That can be devastating for a parish.  Or lifestyle choices don't mesh.  One of the first things - no, the very first thing I asked Fr. Pfeiffer when I met him was, "Do you like dogs?"  This whole thing would not have worked out if he didn't get along with Sebastian.
There are other considerations also.  For example: The St. Sebastian rectory, while nice, is not very friendly if you are not fit.  There are at least 5 sets of stairs between any room and the sanctuary of the church.  Also, if you like baths, this place only has showers.  Well, there is a bath in my room and in one of the offices, but they are TINY.  They really should be called low wash basins.  Being over six foot I find them almost useless for anything save for giving the dog a bath.
But just when you think you are done - other unforeseen factors hit the fan:
The bishop may send somebody away for studies.  Or a priest might reassigned for a spell outside of the diocese, or (God forbid) somebody becomes very ill . . . or something else unforeseen.  So say a pastor applies for the vacancy.  He then, in turn, creates a vacancy.  So you move pastors around to fill the pastor spots and after that complete rearrangement is done, you still need to take somebody out of the vicar rotation and plug them into the pastor spot that remains open - which may mean all of the other vicar assignments now need to be re-arranged.
And how do you win this game?  There really is only one way:

Friday, March 22, 2013


In honor of the Year of Faith we have been examining the documents of Vatican II.  Today we continue our journey through Lumen Gentium.  The next section is called “The People of God.”  It is the beginning of a self examination a little bit like sitting down, looking in the mirror and contemplating who you are in the world.  This is a sampling from the first two paragraphs:
9. The “people of God” (POGs) have been those since the beginning of time who have loved God and done their best to follow Him.  But the true nature of the POGs is not “me and God” but rather “us and God,” a community of believers connected as brothers and sisters who have been built up over time (by God) until it reached its fullness in Jesus Christ.  Now we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation (1 Pete 2;9-10).
Christ is the head of this body and in the hearts of all believers is the Temple of His Holy Spirit (hence yesterday’s post.)  This body or Church is the visible presence for the world of the saving power of Christ.  Therefore it is to be known as universal (catholic) bringing his salvation to all, in all times and all places, and constantly renewing herself in the Spirit.
10. United in Christ we all share in the priesthood of Jesus called to offer spiritual sacrifices and offering reasons to anyone who asks why we have such great hope in eternal life.  Now, all in Christ share in the priesthood of Jesus.  This is the priesthood of the faithful.  Some from this group are also called to the ordained priesthood.  Both priesthoods are essential to the life of the Church in their proper way.  The ministerial priesthood stands in persona Christi confecting the Eucharist and offering it to God on behalf of the POGs.  The priesthood of the people participates in Christ’s priesthood by their offerings, thanksgiving, and prayers at the Eucharist, by reception of the Sacrament, and by witnessing to it by a holy life particularly through acts of charity.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Sometimes at the end of a confession, when a person has expressed all of the sins they can recall, will ask me, “Can you think of anything else?”  They are not supposing that I know them so well that I might make some suggestion of sin of theirs that I might know about but rather is there any area that they may not have considered.  Visiting a whole examination of conscience is a difficult thing to do especially with Easter on our tails and long lines outside of the confessional, but there are generally a couple of questions I might ask.
One is, “Are you taking care of yourself?”  We often think of the Christian life – particularly the road to sainthood – as one of denial.  There are times when the denial of the necessities of life are called for.  There is also both a time for denying ourselves the surpluses in life and a time for celebrating with them.  But as a general rule, we are to treat our bodies (that is, ourselves) with care.
The body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit.  There is a certain dignity that is present in that.  We should treat it at least as well as we treat our church buildings.  We believe our churches should be clean, well maintained, well appointed without being ostentatious, welcoming, inspiring, consecrated and wholly directed toward the things that are Godly and noble.
Should our bodies, physical and living temples of the Holy Spirit, receptacles of the Body and Blood of Jesus being any less so treated?  Do we give ourselves the rest we need (to the extent we are able), consume the proper food and drink at the appropriate amounts, do we exercise, follow the direction of our doctors, observe the times of penance as well as the times of rejoicing, and adorn our bodies modestly?  
Being Christian does not mean we ignore our bodies or our health unless it is called upon for the greater glory of God or benefit of our brothers and sisters.  (After all, we do hold up martyrs as an ideal.)  But this life is also gift, and we should treat this gift as preciously as we can.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Unveiled is the new papal coat of arms.  There is much fuss over how simple it is but then again, the best arms are simple.  You may remember that when John Paul II arms were revealed there was a bit of consternation for he had put a large letter "M" on it to represent "Mary" - a huge no-no in the world of heraldry.  There is general agreement that this coat of arms is a success.
The shield itself is blue, most often associated in the Church with Mary though in it also stands for steadfastness and fidelity.  Center top is a sun which we can see easily represents THE Son, Jesus, for the IHS (IHSUS - the first three letters for Jesus in Greek) the Cross, and the three nails which represent the three nails that held Jesus to the Cross.  This symbol incidental also is the symbol of the Jesuit order.
On the lower left hand corner is a gold star which represents Mary and in the lower right is what looks like an upended bunch of grapes but what is actually a nard flower.  Nope, I never heard of it either.  I looked one up and so present it here.  Apparently it represents St. Joseph though I dare say I don't know from where this comes.  It is not in my books.  I would love to know the source if anybody knows.
Anyway, from this we can see the pope's love of the Holy Family and perhaps an aim of his papacy - to safeguard the family.  Time alone will tell.
By the way, his motto is Miserando atque eligendo, from a homily of Saint Bede.  It is Latin for "Having had mercy, He called him"  This is a reference to when Jesus called Matthew to be one of his apostles despite his being unworthy.
For additional information about herladry in the Church in general, go here.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: (FROM THIS MONTH'S CHESTERTON MEETING): "You go through the worst to the best, as you go through the west to the east . . . and there really is a place, at the back of the world, where the east and the west are one.  Can't you feel there is something so frightfully and frantically good that it must seem bad?"  from the "Four Faultless Felons"

QUOTE II:  "I'm just worried that all the press about Pope Francis' humility will go to his head."  Fr. Pfeiffer (joking of course)

M sent in this wonderful "online book" that is a tribute to our pope emeritus.  Thanks.

Nan sent in this article with video at Catholic Spirit about another organ restoration.

Free Catholic E-cards can be found here.

Here is an interesting site entitled TOO MANY ABORTED  They put out a number of videos one of which is this one that I saw on EWTN while awaiting the new pope.

Monday, March 18, 2013


I witnessed this in the sacristy this past weekend (St. Patrick's Day)

(Saint Joseph Day is tomorrow by the way.)

Friday, March 15, 2013


Got your machete out?  There’s a lot more thick material to cut our way through.  I’m doing my best to make it a bit easier to swallow.  Remember that if you want to read the actual text you can find it online at the Vatican website.  Today we look at paragraph 8 of Lumen Gentium.
You know how we say that Jesus is 100% man and 100% God: in a similar way we say that the Church is both visible and mystical.  So Christ leads us from heaven yet we have a pope (and a brand spanking new one at that.)  We have structures and hierarchies but there is also the endless pool of grace with which we deal.
This (one, holy, catholic, apostolic) Church is given to us by Christ who handed on authority to present day leadership through the power of the keys given to St. Peter.  They are handed down through the generations until being given to Pope Francis.


That does not mean that one will find no truth being preached going to that new storefront church that opened up in the old drugstore that closed down years ago or that took over the closed Catholic Church.  The truth found there is part of the gifts of the “Church of Christ” and this truth drives us toward Catholic unity.  (In other words, the fullness of truth resides in the One True Church and all truth leads to unity in it.)
Now, here’s a sticky part.  It says that since Jesus emptied Himself of Godly glory, becoming poor to bring His message to the world, so should the Church.  Recognizing that she needs resources with which to carry out her mission, she is none-the-less is to imitate her founder in order to minister to the poor, the sinner, and the sufferer.
“Now wait a minute,” you might be saying to yourself, “I just saw the papal election, there was very little impoverished or simple about that!”  And I don’t want to get into a discussion about the Church saving art for the world.  Can one be surrounded by beauty (even in a parish) and still live a simple life?  That is a post for another day.  But we do have a pope named Francis who seems to take simple living rather seriously.  We may see lots of changes coming up.  Stay tuned.
(Thanks MW)
In any event, the Church, like a foreigner in a foreign land, is to keep proclaiming Christ crucified and the coming of the Kingdom both to her own and to the world until Christ comes again to bring the fulfillment of His kingdom.
And that was all packed in paragraph 8!  I’m afraid I didn’t do it justice.  Next week: The People of God.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Good morning Jorge (AKA Francis),
You have to be pope today.  One day you are riding the subway to work and the next you are standing on the papal balcony before thousands of people wearing the papal white.  I cannot even imagine what it must be like.  You have my prayers.



So today starts a new chapter in the life of the Church.  Soon we will have to get used to a new face replacing Benedict’s hanging in the hallway.  At Mass there will be the remembering to say the name Francis when we pray for the pope.  There is a new voice to which we will become accustomed to listening when he gives talks and a new style of writing when a document is presented.
On a lighter note, immediately after the announcement that we had a new pope, we received an Email memo from our diocese instructing us to have a noon Mass on Friday (tomorrow) for the new pope.  So I, being a good soldier, advertised it, sent out Emails and one calls, lined up ministers and picked reading.
Then we got a second memo.  An updated memo.  It said, “Mistake.  We didn’t mean have your own Mass, but come join along with your people the Bishop at the cathedral.”  But as the song goes, “Well it’s too late baby, yea, it’s too late . . .”
So, if you are looking for a way to celebrate . . . you could either go to the Cathedral and join the bishop or, if it is more convenient, stop by St. Sebastian for noon Mass tomorrow for Pope Francis.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013



 Here is an archived picture of our new pope - POPE FRANCIS.  His name is Jorge Bergoglio from Argintina.  The first non-European, the first Jesuit, the first Francis!




It is almost 9AM on Wednesday (my day away) here in Akron, OH and black smoke is still coming out of the famed chimney at the Vatican telling us that we are still without pope.  To that end here are a couple more thoughts on items that have been circulating in the news recently.
This pose should relate better to today’s Catholics.  I would challenge that position.  I think it wiser to say that today’s Catholic should become more in touch with today’s Church.  We look in the mirror and think, “Here is the Church.”  We are surrounded by people just like us, perhaps with similar issues and we think, “The pope should pay more attention to us!  We are the Church!  These are our issues.  If he wants to be effective and (forgive me) relevant he needs take action on these items.
But today’s Catholic is more than a suburban, minivan driving, smart phone owning, T.V. watching westerner.  As a matter of fact, we make up a much smaller portion of the Church than one might think. 
A popular topic bandied around is women’s ordination.  Many think the Church will fall apart unless the new pope addresses this issue.  It is not as big an issue in the overall Church as one might think.  One time I was privileged to travel to Zimbabwe and talk with Catholics there.  We brought up western issues and were mostly met with blank and puzzled stares.  “Women priests?  You are worried about women priests when we are worried about food, equality, safety, AIDS, freedom, sanitary conditions, oppressive governments . . .”  We were quite laughed at.


Now we might say the pope needs to pay more attention to first world Catholics and I would agree.  There is a lot of work to be done here.  But whenever one speaks of today’s Catholic, keep in mind the family living in a mud hut with a thatch roof, who goes to Mass on Sunday, has only one change of clothes, and who, when he sees a car, thinks it a novelty is just as much a Catholic and deserving just as much attention.
I am shocked to my core that there are politics involved with the election of the pope.  Well, of course there is.  Just like those pushing an agenda for “today’s Catholics,” there are those electing a pontiff who have strong beliefs concerning what type if pope is needed to run “today’s Church.”  Of course they are going to talk about it, lobby for it, ask and bargain for a vote.  I think some people imagine the cardinals sitting quietly in a room until the Holy Spirit descends upon them with the name of the guy for whom they are supposed to vote.
God gave us brains and bodies.  We are to use them for His glory and for our benefit.  Names arise, talents debated, factions rise and fall and not all of it altruistic but all accompanied by prayer.  In the end one name arises and one of two things we pray is the case: that this was indeed the man the Holy Spirit wished to be picked from out of all that human activity or that this is a man that God can work with.


In the mean time – lobby away.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "History was being made behind closed doors.  It was undemocratic, it was nontransparent and it was wonderful.  The uncertainty and the apprehension in the crowded press room added to my delight.  The crowning touch was the chimney.  There was something marvelously surreal about an institution that announced the pope's death via an Email to news agencies, and two weeks later announced the election of his successor with a smoke signal."  from John Thavis' "The Vatican Diaries"
QUOTE II:  "'Latin is not difficult, friends.  It's not reserved for experts.  My God, every prostitute in ancient Rome spoke Latin,' he reminded anyone within earshot."  Same source

QUOTE III:  "The problem with quotes on the Internet is that you can't always be sure of their authenticity.” Abraham Lincoln (Thanks to Nan) 
I wanted to know immediately when the pope was elected so that we could ring the bells and put up the bunting.  Fr. Pfeiffer told me about this site with a Pope Alarm!
Adam sent this article in:  Five Reasons to Kill Christian Music.  Excellent!  Thank you Adam.  At the top of the page you will also find a link to "The Catholic Church Young People Really Want."  That too is pretty good and reflects conversations that I have had with many young people.
This is a fundraiser from Imaginesisters.  It is one minute:

It concerns the film located here.

Here is Jeff Foxworthy's Bible Challenge.

JP sent this pic in:

Fr. Damian has a new article on Word on Fire.  Read it here.

And this is why every Catholic in the world should have a say in who the next pope is.  (ThanksMW)

Monday, March 11, 2013


So this past weekend was the Bishop's Seminary Brunch.   It was only the second one to which I ever went.  The first time I went as a seminarian to provide entertainment for the folks.  I remember walking out afterward and running in to our bishop for the first time (who was then Bishop Pilla) and he said, "Good afternoon John" and I was on cloud nine that he knew my name.  A minute later I realized I had my name tag on.
I don't know about you but when I hear "brunch" I'm thinking there will be some sausage and/or bacon and other not so good for you but just the same wonderful foods that are at least tangentially associated with that in between breakfast and lunch (hence the name) meals.  But it was chicken and pasta.  Don't get me wrong, it was very good chicken and pasta - superb - but it was probably more of an early dinner than what I think of as brunch.  But that makes for a lousy name.  "The Bishop's Seminary Early Dinner"
There were about 1,000 people there.  My cousins were the co-chairs this year and the when they kicked the afternoon off this incident occurred:

Well, it provided a good laugh for us well trained Catholics.  It got me thinking about some of the ways that people use to cover when they start to make the Sign of the Cross and then realize that it is not called for yet.  I put my had up to give a blessing and their hand goes automatically to their forehead before they realize I have a couple of sentences before the actual blessing comes.  Here are some of the techniques used to cover:

Anyway, as one of the seminarians reminded us - priests come from the people and they need encouragement, support, and prayer.  If you see a young man and for some reason you think that he has a vocation, say something to him.  And if you have a couple a couple of spare seconds, pray for those in formation.