Tuesday, June 30, 2015


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Are we the kings of the universe or mere pirates?  By whose grace, by what right, do we exploit, consume and enjoy the fruits of the trees, the blessings of the earth?  Who is responsible for the power to exploit, for the privilege to consume?"  from Abraham Joshua Heschel's, "God in Search of Man"
QUOTE II:  "Giving birth to one child is a mystery; bringing death to millions is but a skill."  same source.

I like this picture taken in El Salvador.  The "This Side Up" of this picture is, at first, tricky to figure out.
Find a good article on Chesterton HERE.
This one was good too about how to talk to people who don't understand Catholic speak:  HERE
This 7 minute video seems needed now:

Monday, June 29, 2015


The prodigal son is back home!  Good to see you all again.  After touring (what seemed like the whole of) Ireland with the St. Sebastian choir along with the St. Francis de Sales choir (more to follow on the trip some day) we began the long journey home.  And it was longer going home than it was going.  There was a six hour layover in Newark, New Jersey.  SIX HOURS!  It is difficult enough getting people to make a holy hour, how do you fill six hours (on a full stomach) in an airport?
Answer: Not easily.
So about two hours in, I started going through all of the shops trying to find something (besides another book) that could fill the hours that still stretched out before us.  And you know what?  There was NOTHING.  I kid you not.  Unless I wanted to play with a miniature New York police car, there was absolutely nothing for sale that would eat up time save buying a couple of bottles at a duty-free shop and dodging open container laws.
(Which, by the way, I did not do.)
Don't you think SOMEBODY would have come up with the idea of selling something - even a deck of cards! - that a guy or a couple of people could use to kill some hours?  (And I just could not stomach paying another $19 for a SINGLE BOTTLE OF CHEAP AMERICAN BEER.)
So I asked my magic phone how to kill time in an airport.  After learning that one should not use the term "kill" in airport I was given a list of five possible things to do:
1.  Jog through the terminal.  (That's not likely to happen anywhere unless a mugger is chasing me let alone a busy terminal with angry people and roving golf carts.
2.  Do yoga.  Again:  No.
3. Go into town.  This one was actually feasible but the very thought of getting lost, not making it back in time, going through security again and possibly then having to spend another day in the airport kept me right where I was.
4.  Play a game.  Nice idea.  Again - THERE WERE NO GAMES FOR SALE.
5. Eat like a king.  Good advice if you have the money of a king from a rich country.
So I started making phone calls and sending texts, something I usually deplore but desperate times require desperate measures.  But of course everybody was at Mass or work or sure it couldn't possibly be me because I don't call people.
One text did get through to Fr. K.
And he responded:
Sure thing.  The only problem is that nowadays airports are not the best place to be adventurous.  They discourage adventurousness.  In fact, every adventurous scenario that I could call to mind either led to my detention or possible arrest.
Then a thought came to me.  Why don't I stage a raffle in the terminal?  Preparations alone would take up half an hour!  So I went about looking for inexpensive (cheap) prizes.  While hunting I ran into a young couple, their child with a soon arriving one on the way that I married during my first assignment.  (Oh my, that means they aren't so young anymore!)  So we chatted for a spell and then I headed back to gate 82.
And there was a fellow priest!  Fr. Turner was returning from a mission trip.  He too was stranded at the airport and was hoping to get on OUR plane so he wouldn't have to wait for a long time.  That was a nice surprise.
(I forgot to mention . . . while I was out an about I saw this incredibly ugly dog.  It was SO ugly that didn't tell anybody about for fear they would think I was making it up.  But lo!  The dog's picture was in the newspaper when we got home for having won the world's ugliest dog contest.  Go figure.)
So we were going to play a huge game of heads and tails and I invited anybody who wanted to play to play.
The funny thing?  The Euro coins I had did not have heads on them.

Bob is your uncle from pennies to guineas
the two sided mint is the rule not exception
and would you not feel quite the fool of deception
to find the same face on both sides of the coin?

Except there was no head at all.  So after scrounging up some U. S. coinage, the game was afoot!  And just about the moment that last prize was awarded, boarding was announced.

Thank you guardian angel for keeping me sane.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


Adam's Ale will be on a two week hiatus as the entire staff here in the Adam's Ale corporate offices located in the famous St. Sebastian  Singing Belltower will be on tour with the St. Sebastian Parish Choir as they go on their concert tour through Ireland.  Please join me right back here (approximately) June 28th for the continuing transcribed adventures of Adam's Ale and his side kick dog Sebastian!

Friday, June 12, 2015


Unless you step outside of your culture you never really understand how odd your culture can seem to others.  We think that those who blow their nose openly are odd.  They think that we are odd for taking out snot, putting it in a cloth and carrying it around all day.  Or, for another example, there was the fictional book on North Korea I was reading the other day and it mentioned the oddities of the West where people follow their dogs, pick up their droppings, and carry them around.

Catholics seem odd to outsiders.  We do and say a lot of interesting things.  When we walk into church it looks like we all walk into invisible spider webs waving a hand in front of our faces.  It makes sense to us.  We are making the Sign of the Cross.  But if you don’t know that, we look a bit different.

Paragraph 50 says that when the entrance song is finished we immediately make this peculiar sign.  There are a number of reasons why.
  1. The Cross is the symbol of the mystery of our salvation.  By it we have been redeemed.
  2. We are told to put on Christ and to pick up our own Cross.
  3. It reminds us of the central dogma of our faith.  We have but one God (In the name - not nameS) Who is also Trinity.
  4. We state that what we are about to do is in the Name of this awesome God.

It’s easy to trip over this little ritual as if it were something to get out of the way like saying, “Hello” before you begin talking about something really important.  But like the opening hymn, it unites the community in some basic beliefs and intentions.  It is like the special handshake of a fraternity; silly or foreign to outsiders, almost too common to insiders, packed with meaning, a tell tale sign of a Catholic (like genuflecting in a movie theater) packed with emotion when threatened.  

Thursday, June 11, 2015


Has humankind advanced?

It depends upon that which you are measuring.
Scientifically are we advanced?  By leaps and bounds.  Morally, ethically, civilly have we improved?  There is much to debate.
The 19th and 20th century are often considered the bloodiest ever.  I remember hearing in grade school the evil Romans used to toss their deformed babies over a cliff.  Today we regularly end the life of our perfectly healthy children in the womb.  But that we still have a strong call for abortions in the first place is a sign that things are terribly wrong. 


I used to chuckle superiorly about the silly pioneers who used to throw their trash right out of their windows surrounding themselves in filth.  But we pollute ourselves no less and in fact much more.  Genocide still occurs. One third of the world is dying from hunger while another third dies from over eating.  The Christian Church (a place of unity in Christ) is fractured and we can no longer enter Canada, our friendly neighbor to the north, without a passport and a purpose.  (I went recently just to pop over and see the falls and MAYBE spend the night.  Wrong answer.  I was detained at the boarder for an hour.  Our friendly neighbor is now the grumpy guy with the cane who wants you to stay off of his lawn.)

This is not to depress but to point out something important.  Our progress as a species should not be based upon the tricks that we can do.  It should be about where our minds and hearts as a people are.  Until we advance in love, peace, and unity, we haven’t really advanced at all.  We have simply learned new tricks and made ourselves feel better.
That is the importance of our faith.  Every week we remind ourselves of this and strive to be better, to fess up when we mess up, and do our best to make amends.  To remind ourselves that it is not enough to be able to do new tricks but to stop and think if the new trick is worth doing.  Medical advances don’t mean much if it is not accompanied by compassion.  We can’t save someone we think “worth it” while tossing those we don’t want over a cliff.  There is no advancement there. 
Even more basically: it reminds us that there IS something toward which we may progress.  If this is all an accident of moving particles, then there is no real goal to reach.  But we say that there is an ideal on which to keep our eye.  This is our hope for a better more advanced world.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


My general advice is stick with family.  You only get one that is recognized legally, socially, biologically, and every other -ally.  No matter how annoying, family is always family.


Unless it’s not.
Is there a time to walk away from family, or a friend, or even a spouse?  Or are we to stick it out no matter what?  If there is a line that once crossed makes it Okay to walk away?
The problem is that we are not all the same.  Every person is different.  Each has different strengths and weaknesses.  Others are more open to change while some just aren’t.  Situations vary.  So there is no magic formula into which you can plug a few numbers and know the answer nor is it as simple as Ann Lander’s constant advice, “Are you better off with or without this person?”
So there is Jesus, the perfect model.  He knew that Judas was going to betray Him.  He knew that he was a thief.  He loved him anyway and was thereby able to bring good from Judas’ evil action.
There are many persons we could site who did this.  One of my favorites is St. John of the Cross who was treated miserably by his family and fellow brothers in his order.  For what was done to him, if today it went to court, many of his confreres would be jailed.  But he loved them, stuck with them, and today his love is still transforming the Church.
But must we always stick it out?  Matthew 7:6, "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”  Or Luke 13:27: "But he will reply, “I don't know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evil doers!”  (I may be forcing the context a little, but I think there is a point to be made.)


A lot of discussion and discernment must take place with the appropriate persons.  But in the end it comes down to this:  The motivation must be love.
Did you find out that your spouse is a child molester?  It may be that love for your children may call you to part ways.
Is family pressure so great and your strength only so much that your faith is in danger of being snuffed out?  It may be that limiting exposure is necessary in order to preserve your loving relationship with God.
Is your spouse an alcoholic and not seeking help and they need waking up?  Would stepping away help them to realize what is happening to their life?  Can you do it in a loving way with the motivation of them finding healing?

Tricky, tricky questions.  As you can see, we could come up with a billion scenarios all with varying factors.  And there will always be people on both sides of the fence.  “Never, ever give up on anybody!”  and “How on God’s green earth could you suggest that somebody stay in that abusive situation?!” 
Prayer.  Discernment.  Consult.  And most importantly, find the loving motivation.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "The problem of living does not begin with the question of how to take care of rascals, of how to prevent deliquency or hideous crimes.  The problem of living begins with the realization that all of us blunder in our dealings with our fellow men.  The silent atrocities, the secret scandals, which no law can prevent, are the true seat of moral infection."  from Abraham Joshua Heschel's, "God in Search of Man"
QUOTE II:  "Evil is not only a threat, it is also a challange."  same source

Here are some pics of a sunset from the top of the Saint Sebastian bell tower.

Here is a great article - "Can I Pray for the Cavs?"  Read HERE.
Bishop Lennon wrote an article that says knowing your faith helps you live it better.  Read it HERE.
Adam sent in a great article: People leaving the Church for cheesecake.  Read HERE.

Monday, June 8, 2015


You may remember that about nine months ago a priest was newly assigned to St. Sebastian.  It was a temporary assignment until the new rotations kicked in.  He was introduced to you on Adam's Ale with the following cartoon:
Funny, I never noticed that I left out the word "to" before.  Interesting.

Well the time has flown by, and last weekend we had farewell donuts for Father giving the opportunity for people to say thanks and goodbye. 
Wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Really.


No more photo bombs.  No more dangling participles.  No more staying up too late to play cards.

Friday, June 5, 2015


If you can get everybody singing together, that is something that really unites a group of people.  Play the National Anthem of the United States in the foreign country (say when we win a gold medal at the Olympics) and see how it unites our citizens.  Play “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” at the 7th inning stretch.  Sing Happy Birthday even in a crowded restaurant.  Sing “Hang On Sloopy” in Ohio.  Put a quarter in the jukebox at the local VFW and play “You Don’t Even Call Me by My Name.”  Do any of these and you will see people united with a common voice and in a common cause.

If you understand that, you understand why there is an opening song at Mass.  The opening song is part of the Mass.  It is not like the opening song of a sit-com that, if you miss it, you really haven’t missed anything.  If you miss the opening song, you’ve missed part of the Mass.  Paragraph 47 of the GIRM states that the purpose of the opening song, “is to open the celebration, foster unity . . . and introduce their thoughts to the mystery of the liturgical time or festivity . . .”  Only lastly does it list one of its purposes to be that of accompanying the priest and the ministers to the altar.
In all of this, we see that this is really the first opportunity at the Mass for the corporate Body of Christ to worship Him.  So even if you don’t like your voice – God gave it to you – give it to Him back.

Thursday, June 4, 2015


It’s the time of the year when priests move around.  The newly ordained are arriving at their parishes.  Some pastors are changing location.  A number are retiring.  And those parochial vicars whose term is up are packing their bags and moving in to new rectories.  Sometimes this is met with cheers and sometimes tears.

St. Sebastian Parish is losing one of its parochial vicars, Fr. Kovacina.  It is almost unfortunate that he was a great preacher, a good confessor, a hard worker, and an easily likable guy.  Of course, he is also going out on top.  It’s nice that people don’t want you to go if you are leaving, but sad for the left.

His assignment here was only for nine months.  It was an extravagant favor of our bishop and the diocese.  So we cannot be too upset about it.  He wasn’t supposed to be here anyway and it was a blessing that he was here at all let alone being sad that he is now leaving.  We could have easily not had him at all.

Perhaps there were a number of people in your life who came around for a short time, made an impact on your life, and then left.  Maybe a student or substitute teacher, a summer friend, a visiting relative, or the neighbor that moved away passed on something special to you and then disappeared.  If you think of them today, offer up a prayer for the way they touched your life those years ago.  Send a little bit of the that blessing back.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


Graduations abound at the moment.  Tonight is our 8th grade graduation.  It is the culmination of the all of the years that the students have spent within the walls of St. Sebastian Parish School.  We write it all down on a piece of paper and hand it to them.  Basically it says that we have given them all we’ve got, they completed it satisfactorily, and now they don’t need this educational institution anymore.  It’s time for them to move on.
Graduation does not exist in the religious realm though sometimes it seems as though it does.  For example, a student will spend eight or more years in our programs learning about the faith at the end of which there is a grand ceremony at which they are confirmed and there is a party.  It kinda feels as though you are graduating from that program and now you are done with the course of studies.

But to think that way would be a tragedy.  It would be a tragedy in this way:  Two people fall in love.  They learn about each other.  They woo each other.  (Is that really the way woo is spelled?)  There is a proposal, a marriage ceremony, and a grand party.  Are they done?  Now that the couple has achieved marriage does that mean that the leaning, wooing, and growing love are now over?  Absolutely not.  Neither is it that when one is baptized, eucharized, or confirmarized (I made that up) is one done learning about, growing in, praying to, or being in the service of God.  It is not a completed course of studies from which you move on, it is a way of life into which you enter and are trusted to keep growing more deeply in love. 
You can graduate from a collected body of knowledge, you cannot graduate from a relationship with God.


Go forth in Christ.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Worship and living are not two separate realms.  Unless our living is a form of worship, our worship has no life."  from Abraham Heschel's, "God in Search of Man"
QUOTE II:  "Neutrality is an illusion.  At the end of his days man always emerges either as a priest or a pirate."  same source

Here's an interesting picture from our bell tower.  It is looking straight down the side onto the parking lot.
Ron sent this 5 minute video in about rescue dogs experiencing freedom for the first time.  A happy story: