Wednesday, July 31, 2013


The dishwasher in the rectory broke down.  Again.  Of course it was after one of those times when we didn’t start it up because we thought we could squeezes just a few more dishes in.  “There’s always room for more.”  So she was packed to the gills and then . . . nothing.


I put signs all around the kitchen, “The dishwasher is broken!  If you use it, you must wash it by hand.”  The repair man came out today and said the computer board would need replaced and that the part and labor would be $400!  The machine is only a couple of years old and we just replaced this very same part a year ago so $400 seems a bit excessive, considering these two repairs would be way more than we paid for the thing in the first place.  So we are getting a new one – and not the same brand.
Now, I think it would be understandable if one were upset at this debacle.  Cheap equipment is wasting our time and resources.  But on the other hand, how many things had to right to face this problem?  We had food.  We had (nice) plates and service wear on which to eat the food that needed cleaning.  We (had) a dishwasher.  We have clean water.  We have soap.  We have safe and reliable electricity.  We have a kitchen.  We live in a place where a repair man could come out within a day.  We are able bodied enough that we can wash dishes by hand and had the materials on hand to do it.  And we have the joy to put up with it.
A person about whom I’ve written here before was in a terrible car accident last week.  She was at Mass this week saying that, although two cars were totaled and she had a concussion and broken rib, she and the kids walked away.  It was going to be a hardship getting a new car but they had a lot about which to be thankful so she chose to be grateful instead of angry.
When something goes wrong, there is so much that has to go right for there to be something that we can complain about.  We have a choice.  Every event can be the end of the world or an opportunity.  One of the opportunities is to realize how much of life is good in order to have the problem we face even be able to be a problem at all.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUNDThis week's selected quotes come from the last meeting of the St. Sebastian Chesterton Society's reading of Thomas Aquinas:

QUOTE I:  "We might even say that the one thing which separates a saint from ordinary men is his readiness to be one with ordinary men. . . A saint . . . is the only sort of superior man who has never been a superior person."
QUOTE II:  "And poetry without philosophy has only inspiration, or, in vulgar language, only wind."
QUOTE III:  "There are those who maintain that there are is something that is both Yes and No.  I do not know whether they pronounce it Yo."
QUOTE IV:  "The Protestant theology of Martin Luther was a thing that no modern Protestant would be seen dead in a field with."
Eric Armusik started a new website featuring his ecclesial paintings.  There is also information how to commission art and a page where you can view some of his paintings.  Go here.
Mary sent this in:  "Aquinas College and the Dominican Sisters of Nashville just posted a little slide show of their visit to St. Sebastian under the July 15th entry on Sisters on the Road page."  Sr. Jane Dominic OP has recorded a free online course called "The Rich Gift of Love" 
Here is a 3 minute video introduction to the course:

Monday, July 29, 2013


Remember the first time you saw one of your teachers outside of the classroom in plebeian garb doing something pedestrian like grocery shopping?
It breaks your little 2nd grade heart to see someone you admire so doing something so . . . not lofty.  In truth, that never quite left me.  I remember a choir to which my mother once belonged.  There was a soprano who sang the solos for Handle's Messiah.  She sang like the angels themselves.  She wore a blue choir robe with a special golden sash because she was a soloist.  She had mounds of curly golden locks that when the sun from the stained glass windows hit her made her seem as though she had a halo.  Her name was even something like Angelique.
When she was not singing, I always sort of thought of her like this:
Then one day, quite by accident, I (regrettably) learned the truth.

I think this is why people try hard not to allow me to do things.  If a pick up a hammer or a plunger, someone grabs it out of my hands with a nervous, "Let me do that."  But I want to help.  I like to think that I can occasionally do things besides strictly priestly things.
So Sunday night the lights were out in the parking lot and I thought to call our maintenance man:

Then I learned the truth about this too.

Friday, July 26, 2013


Continuing our look at Lumen Gentium

Wow, wow, wow!  The pope just told a million youth at World Youth Day that he wants them to go home and make a mess of their dioceses!  He wants to set them on fire and then send them home drifting on the winds like sparks to land where the wood and grass of faith is dry and set those places on fire.  Luke 12:49, “"I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!”


Gads, I hope they have the energy to keep burning when they hit barriers to this missioning.  What I wouldn’t give to have the resources to hire a team of ministers (and send them for schooling) at the parish just so that we might implement all of the great ideas that come our way.  I imagine more than a few of these firebrands coming home and finding overworked, over harried, (or lazy) pastors and their sparks growing dim – or worse yet – finding a mega-church that will say, “We’ll take your energy and ideas and help them grow.”
But it need not be so, even if you have such a pastor.  Somewhere along the line we got the idea that in order to be Church, we have to do EVERYTHING through the parish.  Granted, there are a lot of advantages not the least of which include a common space, perhaps a budget, and some legitimacy.  But if we focus everything we do at the parish, then we become a Catholic ghetto and those places that most need exposure to the Word will never get it.  The faith needs to seep into the fabric of our society if it is to have any effect at all.
Not too long ago I spilled tomato sauce in the refrigerator.  Before I caught it, sauce had dripped down behind shelves and under drawers – it was a mess.  I had to take the refrigerator apart to clean everywhere that needed cleaning.  Places that come in regular contact get cleaned now and then, but these hidden spaces almost never.  (It is an old bachelor house.)  If it hadn’t been for the sauce reaching those hidden spots, they would have never been cleaned.
That is where to focus attention!  Not only these youth, but all the People of God need to soak in to those areas that “hierarchical Church,” or “parish,” or “diocesan programs” don’t reach, which, quite frankly, is most of the world.  According to paragraph 33, “The laity . . . are given the special vocation: to make the Church present and fruitful in those places and circumstances where it is only through them that she can become the salt of the earth. . . All the laity, then, have the exalted duty of working for the ever greater spread of the divine plan of salvation to all men, of every epoch and all over the earth.”

Thursday, July 25, 2013


I don’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as one of its members,” so said the comedian Groucho Marks.  I would probably say the same thing about a Church.  I don’t want a Church that says I have no need to grow and develop.  Nor do I need a Church that validates my held beliefs.  I want a Church that challenges me, asks me difficult questions, shakes up my assumptions, makes me think, urges me to growth, and ardently desires to transform me into a saint.
Many Christian Churches have, for the large part, abandoned this vision.  I was riding with a gentleman the other day who proudly spoke of his Church and how they do not even expect him to make an effort to look like Church is anything special on Sunday.  “I can go in ratty shorts and T-shirt.  And the music is rock and roll.”  He was in his upper 50s.  I said, “Wow.  My parish is kinda headed in the opposite direction.  I think it attracts the younger families more.  It is my goal to expect more of them.”


The same could be said of philosophy and theology.  Many Churches (non-Catholic) have changed their beliefs to an extraordinary degree.  Go back to even the year 1900, and if we could do a graph, the rate of change would start slowly and then skyrocket.  Really, what teaching in most Christian denominations do not simply mimic popular culture?  Abortion, contraception, same sex marriage . . . gads, why even bother listing them all?  Modern Church is about worshipping what we already believe and enshrining it in our weekend services.
Cultures cultivate.  And our current culture is cultivating our Churches.  It reforms them, informs them, coaxing God to change His mind on virtually any popular topic on order to match ours, the enlightened ones.  Glad God is catching up.
It is one of the strengths of the Catholic Church that it is also so terribly cultural on a world wide (and historical) scale.  It is a culture that cannot be voted into changing, or coaxed into matching the local thought beliefs, or pressured into accepting outside influence on its theology.  It is designed to influence culture, not be influenced by it.  If your faith, parish, or diocese is not working to change the family, city, or nation for the good, then it is failing.  (If it is more influenced than influencing, it is dying.) 
It doesn’t mean anybody has to listen.  But we are not excused from being loyal to the truths of the faith.  For if we are not leaven, we are salt that has gone flat.

Saturday, July 20, 2013


MEMBERS OF THE ST. SEBASTIAN CHESTERTON SOCIETYDue to a couple of emergencies of a number of the members the meeting scheduled for this Sunday has been postponed!  It is rescheduled for next Sunday, August 28th at the usual time and place.  Since there is no official roster, please inform you friends and acquaintances who are members about this change of date!
ADAM'S ALE will be down for a couple of days as the main staff writer will be on the road.  We should be back up and running either Wednesday or Thursday.  Hope to see you then!
God bless,
Fr. Valencheck

Friday, July 19, 2013


Continuing our look at Lumen Gentium . . .
Let’s say you belong to a club – say the Slovenian Beneficent Society.  They purpose of the club is to raise funds and then give them to worthy causes.  Sounds simple enough.  There is a president, and the usual suspect of leaders – VP, secretary, treasurer, etc . . . and then there is the main body of the club.  It could be that the president and one of his cohorts starts making a lot of decisions concerning funds that the rest of the group has no say in.  The feel that they do not have power.  They come then to lose interest unless the president starts giving some if his power to the stake holders of the society.
That is understandable and is the type of view people have about the Church.
There was an article in the paper yesterday about a “controversial priest” who is coming to Cleveland to speak.  An equally controversial nun said of him, “he is about empowering the laity.”  This comes from the idea the “Church” is nothing but the local parish, diocese, and Rome.  But this is only a small part of “Church.”  Church is everything: it is you at your job, it is literature, it is movies, it is science, it is the billboard at the end of the block, it is your home, it is what’s playing on your TV, it is what you spend your spare time doing and your spare resources supporting.  Church is society – Church is culture – Church is everywhere we bring it.  Hierarchical Church is really a very small part of this.  Faith may inform what one should do in their bedroom, or at work, or when paying bills, but there is no priest standing over your shoulder telling you what to do.  He could tell you what perhaps you should be doing, but he has no power.  That the laity’s freedom, the arena in which they act as priest, prophet, and king. 


The point is this: unlike the Slovenian Beneficent Society, the totality of the society consists within the meeting of the society and the officers have usurped the power.  The rest of the group is powerless.  That a clergyman would run a parish and pray the sacraments does not make the laity powerless outside of that realm.  The Church is much bigger than that.  There is far too much to do.  It is really a very small part that clergy have any kind of control over if Church is properly understood.
By empowering the laity, what many people want is the clericalization of the laity and the laicizing of the clergy.  There is not to be a distinction in roles.  Neither should there seem to be more perceived “power” at the parish by the clergy than by anybody else.  (Of course NOBODY is suggesting the clergy then should share more in the direct “power” of determining what you do with you day . . .
Granted . . . clergy has, at time, overstepped their boundaries and have been too dictatorial at the parish to the parish’s harm.  Conversely, parishes have been declericalized at times to the opposite problem.  But what paragraph 32 of Lumen Gentium is trying to say is that we are all one.  Nobody is more powerful in the Church (meaning the whole Church – not just institutional Church) than the other.  We are equals but with different roles and each of us are endowed with roles and responsibilities in each.  We are each equally gifted with grace toward salvation.  There is only one People of God springing from one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one common dignity, one common vocation toward sanctity, one salvation, one hope, one call to charity.
True, when human beings enter the equation, this delicate balance can and does go out of whack, sometimes terribly so, but it the calling – what Christ gave us to work with.  It is our goal and our ideal.  It is what it is to be Catholic, Christian, and a part of the One, Holy, and Apostolic Church.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Continuing yesterday’s thoughts . . .

Let us just take one example from a current lively topic:  Marriage.  On the one hand we have a people with a certain set of foundational beliefs that go along with what has been the definition of marriage for the centuries and another with foundational beliefs that say marriage should be changed.  The first group claims that if changed, it will harm society.  The second group asks (rightly) the question, “So, same sex marriage was legalized in any number of places – did we see riots?  Did people start ransacking businesses?  Did schools go down the drain?  Did families disintegrate?  Did a nuclear bomb go off?
Well, of course not.  If same sex marriage were legalized in Ohio today, tomorrow Ohio would look much the same.  My cable would still work, Swenson’s would still sell hamburgers, and there would still be water in the tap when I turned it on.  But, like though the surface may look the same, underneath the foundations would be different and eventually those differences will start manifesting themselves.


Here is the subtle difference:  There is a reason (at least in the Catholic Church) there is no such thing as a “private” wedding.  There is a reason we publish bands, ring bells before and after the ceremony, and have it in the Church: because a marriage does not belong to the man and woman who are being married, it belongs to the whole community.  We all have a stake.  (Hence the worry that many priests have when a bride is too focused on having her perfect day.)  The ministry of love is to all these two who have become one flesh come in contact.  The purpose of marriage is to bring children into the world and raise them well within the community.  Beyond that, it is for the joy of the couple so that they may reach out. 
The new laws of marriage do not focus on community or for the interest of the next generation necesarily but the rights and joy of the couple.  It is not a marriage that the community necessarily has a stake in.  It can benefit in the way it benefits from any friendship or (chaste) love between any two (or more) people, but it is not the same as the fruitful, marital union of man and woman. Over time this foundational assumption will start to have an effect on every aspect of our lives.  Marriage and family, after all, are the building blocks of society and to change them is to change all of society.
True, there are horrible examples of marriage that at least have the fa├žade of a true, traditional marriage, and there are shining examples of a more modern definition of marriage that seem to be life giving.  But the first is not a good marriage and the second would have the same effect on the community if the marriage were not recognized in this particular way.
There will be side issues thrown into the discussion also – infertile couples, legal protection for people, Christians proper relationships to their brothers and sisters with SSA, . . .  and these should be addressed.  But neither these nor the host of other issues that crop up have anything to do with the foundational belief system that undergirds them all.  What is marriage for?  It is an important issue too glibly decided and set aside without understanding the foundations that one is laying for society which will have an effect on every aspect of our lives.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


“There should be a less moralistic choice.”  This was the opinion expressed by a minister in this weekend’s Akron Beacon Journal in the letters to the editor concerning a local hospital joining the Catholic Health Care system.  Like so many people, this minister has been hoodwinked into thinking that there is some sort of neutral position when it comes to ethics.  He does not want fewer morals as he thinks he does, but a different set.
Let us begin with toying with idea of if there is a God or not.  If one does not believe that there is a God, the basis of moral grounding changes dramatically even if, on the surface, they may seem the same as Christian.  If there is no God, then there is no Creator.  If all that there is has no intelligent design behind it, then it is a fluke.  If it is a fluke, then it has no real meaning.  If it has no meaning it really can’t progress toward anything – it is simply what it is.  If that is the case, then a human being is no more wonderful than a stone.  (Many people like this idea.) 
If all that is the case, then the case for goodness, for morals, is entirely based on a social contract.  The social contract will be largely shaped by those with power.  So “I won’t burn your house down if you don’t burn my house down,” holds as long as the two home owners agree to the contract and are able to enforce it.  But if there is no absolute good, breaking the contract may really make someone mad, but in the end it doesn’t matter.


With this is the groundwork, those without power begin to lose out – those without a voice – who cannot defend themselves.  Abortions become a right for the woman, using people in other countries to make cheap goods for us makes sense, marriage becomes about the right of happiness for adults rather than the good of the community and the raising of children, and porn becomes enshrined as free speech.  Following close on those heals could be physician assisted suicide, euthanasia, and less care for the elderly, the poor and the troubled.  Slowly the edges erode away so that it is possible to fall into an undesirable and therefore less protected (or not protected) category.  This lead John Paul II to refer to this modern swing in society as a culture of death.
With a God however there is a Creator.  With a Creator there is a giveness and a love for that which is created.  If something is loved (with far more than a feeling) it has purpose and a goal.  If it has a goal it has meaning.  If it has meaning it has value and that value is simply in the created’s being, not in their power or usefulness.  Concepts of “the good” and right and wrong have much more traction, are clearer, easier to defend, more universal, and are easier to rectify when they have gone off track.  The baby in the womb, the sick, the elderly, the parent with dementia, the foreigner, they all have value because they are, not because of how they benefit us.  It is a culture of life.
Now, to remain neutral is not to stay out of these arguments but to make your own metaphysical claims about the human person and his worth.  These will become the foundations of a philosophy that will have implications in civil law and civility.  It will burn Judeo/Christian capitol (instead of enjoying its fruits) and the nuetralist’s presuppositions will lead him toward the lessening of the value of life.  Staying neutral is not staying out of it, it simply warps the only two existing systems and acts as a transition out of one toward the other.
The good reverend on Sunday was not asking for “less morals,” for he will be left with the exact same amount of morals the day after his wish comes true as the day before.  What he wants is a different set of morals.  God help his grandchildren if he gets it.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Gregorian Chant was the father of Western Music.  But it was eventually killed by ungrateful children."  from Louise Penney's, "The Beautiful Mystery"
QUOTE II:  "It would be a terrible thing if murder wasn't a shock."  Same source.
Michelle sent this in:  "EWTN WYD 360 utilizes a special immersive technology that will be exclusive to EWTN during WYD. EWTN WYD 360 will film each event using a special camera with 11 lenses. Watch the event again and use your mouse to see it from every angle!
"You have to experience this cutting edge technology to believe it! EWTN will host this fabulous celebration on its Facebook page,, and website,, beginning July 22."
From Anon.:  It may not be great in our back yard, but worldwide vocations are doing well.  Read more here.
Hallie sent in a link to the Eucharistic Miracles of the World.
You - Me, and the Future of Marriage.  Here.

Sorry!  No video today!

Monday, July 15, 2013


My first summer at St. Sebastian I was in my room when I heard what sounded like a parade going past the parish.  The reason it sounded like a parade was because it was one.  It was the WABL (pronounced "wabble") parade - the West Akron Baseball League (or something close to the that.)  On a Saturday morning each summer the local baseball teams have a parade after which they have their big play off games.  The local high school band marches, the police and fire departments show off their equipment (and sirens) and the rest of the parade is basically kids walking or riding in trucks in their uniforms and throwing candy.  Lots and lots of candy.  Hail storms of candy. 
It is a very popular parade for people with a sweet tooth.
So every summer now I look forward to this grand event.
The boys teams can be a little dangerous though. . .

The girls though just as abundantly, but their tosses are kinder . . .
The little kids are the funniest.  They are way too polite to throw the candy but know they are not just to out and out hand it to you so they walk by and lay it at your feet like a tribute or as if they are planting seeds.
The adults get it though. 
Afterwords there was candy EVERYWHERE!  It was a child's dream come true.
I love being a pastor in West Akron!  This is a great town!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Greetings all!

I forgot to post that I am ON RETREAT this week and the TRINITY RETREAT HOUSE (recently reopened after being battered by hurricane Sandy.)  Getting some new ideas for homilies and posts and so I hope to see you when I get back!

God bless,

Fr. Valencheck

Friday, July 5, 2013


Happy belated Independence Day!
Continuing our look at Lumen Gentium

You might remember last week’s challenge to come with a definition of “laity” within the Church that is not defined through the negative such as “. . . who are not . . .”  It is difficult.  And though I’ve come across great attempts, this document falters in that respect (if it is, in fact, an undesirable thing.)  Paragraph 31 defines “laity” as, “all the faithful except those in Holy Orders and those who belong to a religious state approved by the Church.”  This being said, the laity still shares in the priestly, prophetic, and kingly offices of the Church in their “proper and peculiar” (in the very best sense of the term) way to carry on the mission of Christ to the whole world.  In other words, the mission of the Church only succeeds if everyone in their particular state of life carries out their unique duties.
A nun before the Blessed Sacrament most of the day, though this is vital, will not complete the entire scope of the mission of the Church.  A priest celebrating sacraments and teaching, though he do it 24 hours a day and captivates millions by his homilies will only do so much toward the healing of the nations.  The biggest, most complicated, harrowing, and difficult job belongs to those whose share in the mission is to take Christ to where the priests and religious are not and cannot reach.  It is, by and large, the laity (by the power of the Holy Spirit) that converts the nations, calls Christians back to Christianity, and causes Jesus’ name to be spoken where otherwise it would not. 
As our nations seems to be becoming hostile toward faith, how might we discern what happened?  Certainly part of the blame falls on those whose job it is to teach.  For a couple of generations, in general, the Church didn’t catechize well in our nation.  But there was also a loss of nerve for the entire Body of Christ to speak out when confronted with views contrary to the faith.  We have been very polite, listened, and said nothing (or worse, supported ideas) because it was the “loving,” nice thing to do, not necessarily the Good, or truthful thing to do.  And now the job is that much more difficult.  But we are not excused from it because of its difficulty.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013






QUALIFICATIONS: Belief in Jesus and that He established the Catholic Church.  Active prayer and sacramental life a must.  You must be male, unmarried, and have at least a high school diploma.  An adventurous spirit and willingness to constantly learn new things and meet new people of every sort will be expected.  Spanish skills a plus.  You will also need a driver’s license.  There must be an awareness of your own unworthiness and that it will be God Who does good through you.  Looking for men who are ready and willing to serve, are open to the movement of the Spirit, gets along with people, willing to make promises of obedience and chastity, (poverty in certain instances,) and is flexible.  All areas of knowledge, experience, and education are helpful. 
JOB DESCRIPTION:  Long hours, hard work (for motivated individuals), little pay, great benefits (both in this world and the next,) and the satisfaction that you are changing the world and persons’ eternities for the better.  Duties include but are not limited to: Celebrating the most important events in people’s lives and that of salvation history particularly through the sacraments, preaching, teaching, healing, listening, forgiving.  You may be asked to run schools and other institutions whose budgets will run in the millions with little staff.  You will be directly in charge of and responsible for institutions that minister to households into the thousands, providing opportunities for them to minister, learn, and have Christian community.  You may need to coordinate or oversee having your parish be in active contact and cooperation with the diocese, the government, local parishes, and ecumenical configurations.  Will also be responsible for the physical and monetary property of a parish as well as taking on any odd job toward the building up of the Kingdom of God.
APPLY:  Call your local vocation directory or search out your diocese’s or religious order’s vocation web page or simply talk to your local priest or religious.  References from the Body of Christ (Have you ever thought of becoming a priest?) and/or the Holy Spirit (inner restlessness to serve God) will be necessary.
Vocation directors are standing by!  Don’t wait and let the opportunity to serve pass you by!  Check out the priesthood to see if you are being called.  If this is that to which you are being called, nothing else will make you as full of joy.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world.
"In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period."

Michael Crichton
Once again Frank sent in something that has nothing to do with this website but is so cool you need to see it.  If there is an architect out there (Mr. Krause??) who can explain this to me I would be very thankful.  See video here.  Which leads me to a point that is in keeping with this site:  If you build something cool, it will attract people.  If you build schlock, it makes your mission that much more difficult.    People are willing to go see a STAIRCASE IN A BUILDING!  Now if we would continue to build our churches like that . . .

Ahhhh!  The above article is COMPLETELY FALSE!  (Simba so dissappointed.)  Here is a link that shows that it is all a hoax.  Sorry folks.
From the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter:  This may be important to some of you out there:  "Northeast Ohioan Edward Martin, the head of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting said the Boy Scouts' vote in May to admit homosexual youth into their ranks is "not in conflict with Catholic teaching," something by which "we should be encouraged."  Read more here.
From the same source:  "Did you know, the U.S. Catholic Bishops referred to this week's Supreme Court decisions on Marriage as a "Tragic Day for Marriage and Our Nation?"  Unfortunately with the death of diocesan papers and poor media coverage how would you know?  Here is a link to the article.

Mark sent this three minute video in:  Thanks