Friday, January 30, 2015


Conclusion of Lumen Fidei
Last night we had a classical guitar concert at Forest Lodge.  The man who performed, a convert to the faith, talked about a book he was reading about the Blessed Virgin Mary.  He told about how, as a Protestant, one of the things that kept him from coming into the faith earlier was the Church’s attention of Mary.  Once he figured out what the Church was really saying and doing  It reminds me of the Bishop Fulton J. Sheen quote,
, he fell head over heels in love with her, embraced the Church, and last night I blessed his new rosary, the old one having worn out.
“There are not 100 people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.”
At the end of Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis urges us to look to Mary as an icon, the model of what a follow of Christ is to be.  In a beautiful use of words he said that she, “conceived faith and joy.”  That is why I cringe ever so slightly when I see our Catholic artwork of the saints.  They all look so serious, concerned, and full if purple, pious poop. We have only one statue with a smile on his face.  (Then again, I also dislike the goofy, “come play soccer with me” look.  I am not easily pleased.)  Mary is our “perfect icon.”  We can, through her, learn to see through Jesus’ eyes.


Any ideas on what to do next on Friday Potpourri?

Thursday, January 29, 2015


How could an all merciful God condemn somebody to hell?
I’ve been having this discussion with people for a long time.  Many are convinced that, at best, hell is a temporary place.  “My God wouldn’t send anybody there permanently,” being their argument.
Here is another way to approach the idea:
We spend this lifetime conditioning our minds, bodies, and souls.  We don’t magically become something different in the next life.  We won’t become angels and dogs won’t become humans.  We will be who we are.  According to St. John Paul’s Theology of the Body we will even retain (when glorified body and soul are reunited) some identity as to our sex.  (Always a hot topic during my seminary years.)  If all that remains, if a person hated (or would not at least accept) the laws and ways of God on earth (unless some sort of invincible ignorance played a role), that won’t magically change either after a lifetime of conditioning.  And since in the next life we are not prone to illusion or delusion (meaning we will see all clearly) we won’t “change our minds” over time.  (Purgatory is another topic.)
So remember this: the most used image for the way Christ relates to His Church is bride and groom.  Christ is the Bridegroom, the Church is the bride.  To be united to Him reveals the nuptial meaning of our bodies.  The union is intimate and total. 
Using an earthly example, let’s suppose someone proposed to your who everyone, just EVERYONE said is THE perfect person; rich, good looking, powerful, loving, attentive, generous, admired and respected, healthy, supportive – just go on and on and end with, "and smells good."  The only glitch in the whole thing is that you can’t stand this person.  You like messy, you don’t want to be supported but challenged, you like Valuetime Cheesecurls for dinner, and you smell bad and like other people who also smell bad.  As perfect as the other person may be, you will be miserable being married to that person for 50 years.
Now imagine that the union is permanent and eternal; someone who does not love God and is forced to be in an intimate union with Him for all of eternity.  That would be horrific for that person.  So God creates a place for these persons to be.  We call it hell.  We know how awesome God is and all He has to offer and would consider it a catastrophic loss.  But if you don’t want what is being offered, you can't see it as a loss and in fact would be tormented by it and so it a mercy that God allows you to be someplace “else.”  In this way He condemns no one, we choose and tell Him where we want to be.
Is hell then a great place for these souls?  No.  Like a person in this life who you cannot help, the person who returns to abuse or the person who returns to drunkenness, it is what they know and to some extent “choose.”  To someone who has chosen heaven 

, it seems a life of hell, wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


any words we tend not to value them."  Unknown
QUOTE II:  "I suspect of such a moment had taken place somewhere in the Western world, it would have come with a torrent of words,  It would have been talked to death.  It would have come with a book, a seminary, a CD series, hours of concerned discussion, two recommended websites, a retreat, and a certificate to put o your wall."  from Stephen Mansfield's, "Mansfield's Book of Manly Men'
It is National Catholic Schools Week.  Read more and see a video HERE.
Mary sent this in:
Fr. Valencheck,
I thought you might like to see what Dawn Eden is up to if you are not already on her e-mail list. As you can read below, she is now living at the seminary in Mundelein and working on her doctoral dissertation on redemptive suffering.  

She has also just released  The Thrill of the Chaste (Catholic Edition) .   Her book is unique in that it is a book about chastity for adults, rather than teens.   In this edition she speaks not only to those who are being drawn back to chastity after having been away from virtuous living for a time, but also to those who like herself may have a vocation to celibacy.  This time she writes for both men and women.  You can see a video interview about her new book here

Monday, January 26, 2015


When I was a child my family never went anywhere warm for a winter vacation.  We always went to where it was colder.  My Dad loved skiing so we were kind of bread to enjoy the cold.
Sebastian (my dog) also enjoys the colder weather.  Perhaps being black and hairy has something to do with it.  He has so much more energy in the winter.  We enjoy going out on a cold winter morning.  Below is a very detailed drawing of Sebastian and me going on our morning walk on a gray northeast Ohio morning during a snow storm.
Over the past couple of days the temperature has become a little warmer and Akronites are showing that they are getting a little housebound as they have come out of their homes in droves just to be outside.  Once free to roam the park without worrying about running into anybody, we now have to have the dog walker's radar on to avoid people vs barking dog situations.
This adds to the anxiety of warmer weather coming.  Fair weather enthusiasts all of a sudden feel like they can just come use the parks willy nilly.

Please God, just a few more really good and cold winter storms.

Friday, January 23, 2015


Thanks to E L I found out that Adam's Ale has been nominated for an award!  Go HERE if you would like to vit for AA.  It is under the catagory "Best Blog by a Man."  At the bottoms of the page is a link that says, "Vote Here." 



Lumen Fidei chapter 4


Chesterton talks about how, when Christianity comes on the scene, God brings into the world the completely unreasonable virtues of faith, hope, and charity.  We are asked to have charity for the unpardonable.  Hope is only helpful when its cause seems lost.  And faith is the seemingly unreasonable hope of life after the crucifixion.  Yet it is these things, this in breaking of the Kingdom of God and of His love, that makes it possible for us to live together, to love each other and not use each other in utility.  It makes the world a better place.
Faith is not “for the faint hearted.”  It calls us to build just governments, to respect the created gifts given us, to respect life, and live in harmony.  It is essential to the proper functioning of humankind and therefore we must never grow shy about proclaiming the faith and inviting others to enjoy it.
This is a brutally short and synopsis of this chapter.  If it interests you, there is much more to read on the Vatican website!

Thursday, January 22, 2015


This week we are celebrating our titular feast of St. Sebastian. One event to help us celebrate is the unveiling of a new painting of patron.  Below you will see a painting of St. Sebastian done by Mr. Eric Armusik SEE HERE that we obtained a few years ago.  The painting below his was created by Mother Mary Thomas PCPA SEE HERE that was finished late last year (2014).  Here is the interesting thing about these two paintings: they are both depicting the exact same thing but in vastly different ways; the initial volley of the would be executioner's arrows at St. Sebastian.  But one is more symbolic and one is more literal. 
The first one by Mr. Armusik is much more realistic in the school of Carivaggio.  But the message he tries to get across is very symbolic.  That Sebastian's death is united with Christ's is symbolized through various means.  The base of the tree to which he is tied looks very much like the base of the Cross.  Five arrows are used to call to mind the five wounds of Christ.  That Sebastian was intimately connected to Christ is shown through the upward turn of his face and the expression of hope shining through his pain.  His left knee is slight raised off of the ground in a motion of trying to stand and lift himself toward God.  
This second painting by Mother Mary Thomas is much more in the style of El Greco.  The figures and background are much more imaginative but the details of the story much more literal.  What was symbolized above is made concrete here.  It is difficult to see because I was not able to get a good picture of this painting so if you want to see, make sure you stop by the parish this week.  Overlapping the images, the post to which Sebastian is bound is transformed into the Cross of Christ.  Along side the arrows that pierced St. Sebastian and the clubs that would eventually be the instruments of his death (to the right of the picture) is the arrow that pierced Christ side and His crown of thorns.  We don't have to imagine the connection of Christ and Sebastian as Jesus' arms are embracing Sebastian and he, with a serene look on his face, turns his head toward him, almost resting on Christ's chest as did the beloved disciple.
That is the exciting type of things art can do.  And it is also why I recommend parishes that can employ artists to create works unique to the parish.  Nowhere else in the world will you see these images.  You must come to St. Sebastian Parish in Akron.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015



I had every intention of blogging today but for the life of me I cannot get my pictures to upload (and of course today was all about discribing these pictures.)  It is time for me to go to the seminary now and too late to do something else. 

Anybody have any idea?  The error sign keeps saying, "Lost connection to server."


Fr. V

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT IS FOUND:  "Spiritless atheism has never produced fairy tales."

QUOTE II:  "What goes on in the university is the theory,of philosophy, what happens in the arts is the illustration of that theory, but what happens at your kitchen table or living room in interaction with your loved ones is the outworking of that theory."  Ravi Zacharias


Happy St. Sebastian Day!  Fr. Kovacina sent THIS in.  I SO want to do this.

Lynn sent THIS in: 13 Solutions for Parishes That Just Wont Sing.  It is an interesting blog.

Sunday, January 11, 2015


Oh the weather outside is frightful,
but the plane is so delightful.
So as long as down south I go . . .

I'll be back next week!

Friday, January 9, 2015


Lumen Fidei chapter 3
There is a lot of truth that we accept that is simply handed to us.  If I tell you that I typed this post on my computer and posted it, though you have no way (or even if you did you wouldn’t bother) of testing and knowing for fact the veracity of this supposed truth, you would most likely accept it for any number of reasons.  We also accept all sorts of other things because we are part of the community of man.  We receive our name.  We know a spoon is called a spoon and not a dump truck.  Community stores this collective knowledge and passes it on.  That is why we are Church and not a collection of “Me and Jesus” people.
We are most Church when we celebrate the sacraments and follow the teaching of our Church, which is kept safe for us through apostolic succession and Tradition.  When we step outside of these things we run the risk of losing truth (or truth becoming relative) and the unity of man (and man with God) is in jeopardy.
If this intrigues you, I invite you to read the whole thing which is much deeper than this little synopsis. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015


Yesterday there was a story about abortion on NPR and it is quite newsworthy alone to note that they actually used the “A” word.  The piece covered whether a new law in Texas was too burdensome on women seeking an abortion.  The new law would close a number of abortion centers because they did not meet the standard of an entity that medically treats people.  The burdensome aspects that were pointed out in the segment were three:
ü  Some women would have to drive further within the state.
ü  Those women would have to take more time off from work.
ü  They would also have to find childcare for the children they decided to keep.
The legal question asks is this law such a heavy burden that this new law must be thrown out.

Conversely, in today’s readings we are told that if we love God we will follow His commandments and His commandments are not burdensome.  They certainly seem so, however, given the poor way we have taught them.  They are presented largely as a set of “Don’t”s.  1) Don’t have sex outside of marriage.  2) Don’t use contraception.  3) Don’t support same sex marriage.  Etc. etc. etc.
So why does societies laws seem so pastoral and Christ’s seem so burdensome?  Because Christ is concerned about tomorrow and society is worried about today.  Society wants to solve your problem or need right now.  Christ wants you to experience freedom and joy in the long run.


Here is a silly yet pertinent example:  The last piece of pizza!


After having their fill of pizza, your friends say for you to have the very last piece.  They couldn’t possibly eat another bite.  You are full also but there it is: warm, salty, melted cheesy goodness.  Your mouth waters.  Your brain screams, “Take it!  Take it!”  The scent fills your nose with the promise of greasy delights.
Now, you certainly have the right and license to take that last piece.  You have the desire.  You have the support of the gathering.  So you go ahead and eat it and it is every bit as wonderful as you hoped.  But within minutes you ask yourself, “Why didn’t I stop?  Now I am stuffed to the gills.  I feel terrible.”  You go to bed on an overly full stomach and the next morning it is still sitting there and the thought pops into your head, “I’m going to have to work that off today.”
Let’s say you take your faith seriously which means watching out for yourself mentally, spiritually, and physically.  You exercise your freedom from having to eat that last piece and put it in the refrigerator.  In an hour you will not be thinking, “Darn!  I wish I had eaten that last slice of pizza.”  In fact, you feel comfortably full.  You wake up the next morning appropriately hungry for breakfast AND there is a slice of pizza in the refrigerator for lunch.
That is the freedom and joy God wants for you.  That is why His ways are not burdensome even when they seem that they are.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


Do you think American culture is completely lost?


I don’t.


At the very least I think it is salvageable.


Think of this:  Every year thousands of manger scenes are placed outside of churches, homes, and other public areas.  They are not alarmed, do not have guard dogs, they are not electrified to give a shock to somebody who touches them.  By and large, good sized and often expensive statues are set out on the lawn where I wouldn’t leave my bike overnight and there they sit during the Christmas (and advent) season mostly unmolested.  And when they are tampered with, it makes the news.  We still care.  There was only one incident of which I am aware concerning scores of Catholic churches in the Diocese of Cleveland this year. 




And there are scores of outdoor church manger scenes.


And millions of people.


There is hope.


We need now build on that hope.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "The strong cannot be brave.  Only the weak can be brave."  from G. K. Chesterton's, "Heretics"

QUOTE II:  "It is the humble man that who does the big things.  it is the humble man who does the bold things.  It is the humble man who has the sensational sights vouchsafed to him. and this for three obvious reasons:  first, that he strains his eyes more than any other men to see them, second, that he is more overwhelmed and uplifted with them when they come, third, that he records them more exactly and sincerely and with less adulteration from his more commonplace and more conceited everyday self.  Adventures are to those to whom they are most unexpected - that is, most romantic"  same source

Interesting 6 minute video:

Frank sent THIS VIDEO on policemen.  Thanks and thank you to all of our policofficers out there.  God bless you.

Fr. K's favorite card this Christmas:

Monday, January 5, 2015


Happy Epiphany!

As you can tell, I am back on the mend and almost caught up with all the work I was unable to do owing to being sick or because of holidays.  So today Adam's Ale is back up and running.  I hope you are back.
Christmas went well.  Sebastian was very happy.  You can see the result of his opening his presents below: 
One of my favorite presents was a copy of old movie entitled Jason and Argonauts.  Do you remember Super Host (those of you reading in the Cleveland area?)  He was a guy on channel 43 who dressed up in a sloppy version of Superman and hosted movies. 

Annually he would show the movie, "Jason and the Argonauts."  It was Saturday afternoon (I know, I should have been outside playing) and every year we would go to Mass on Saturday (I hated that) just as Jason started fighting the skeletons.

I never did see the end of the move.  What happened to the evil Acastus?  Did he beat the skeletons?  Did he return the golden fleece to home?  What happened between Jason and Medea?  That was to remain forever a mystery.

That is until one day when I was preaching and told the story about always having to leave home for church JUST as Jason started fighting the skeletons.  Some kindly parishioners made a gift of the movie at Christmas this year!  What a great thing that was!
So Fr. Kovacina and I sat down and watched the film the other night.  You know what.  I still don't know what happened to all of those characters.
There was only about three minutes of the movie that I hadn't seen! 

As the reviews point out, the movie never resolves itself.  It ends in the middle of the story.  What happens the characters is left up to your knowledge of Greek mythology.  If I could have accepted the idea the Jason most probably beat the skeleton army I would have, in fact, known the end of the movie since I was a little kid.
Turned out that going to Mass was the right thing to do.