Monday, August 31, 2015


You know, I think I look good baldish.  When I had hair it was full of cowlicks and was a bit unmanageable anyway.  Plus, our family tends toward very fine and free willed hair so everything made having hair difficult - wind from having the car window down, wearing hats (which I enjoy doing,) the price of gas in Tanzania . . .

And so I really, really think I am over the whole "Oh my gosh I am baldish" thing.  Except - EXCEPT, about once very other month I have this dream that I comb my hair just slightly differently and the result is that I discover that all this time really did have a full head of luscious hair!

I scare myself sometimes.

Of course, the next dream is that I get my hair cut at the Hershey Barbershop again where one of the Hershey girls used to cut my hair until I was too embarrassed to go any longer.

So it was the same thing with turning 50.  I thought I was perfectly Okay with it.  But so many people joined in on telling me that it was going to be Okay that I started thinking, "Maybe this isn't Okay."
So the whole thing starts playing with you . . .

I am SO GLAD that I am not a bishop.  How do they put with us priests?

This is one of drawbacks of celibacy - there's no wife there to say, "You're eating with your mouth open," or "You've worn those pants 5 days in row and you are not stepping out of the house like that," and finally, "Oh you big oaf.  You're just turning 50.  Get over it and get to work."

"And pick up some milk on the way home."

Friday, August 28, 2015



Today I have meetings all day so here is just a quick post.

On Wednesday I went up to The Conversion of Saint Paul Shrine to check on the progress of the painting Mother Mary Thomas is working on written about on the blog several times.  She is still plugging away.

Below you will see a Plain Dealer reporter and photographer.  There is a story coming and I was told, "You are going to blog on this are you not?"  The thing is, I am not sure exactly what I am allowed to blog yet.  There has been no official announcement concerning the thing that I am not telling you and I am pretty darn sure I am not to have the first exclusive so as the say, "Keep your eyes and ears open" and say a prayer for Mother Mary Thomas.
There is going to be a reproduction of the painting made but the question is, "How do you get a picture of it without distortion in order to reproduce it accurately?"  Below you will see one attempt (which unfortunately did not work out because it would have been a boat load of fun.)  They used one of St. Sebastian's pictures as an experiment flying a drone with a camera over it in Zwisler Hall.

(Being a priest is so much fun.)

More news will follow.

Thursday, August 27, 2015


Yesterday, my day away (somewhat,) a priest friend and I went out for brunch.  Though one of my favorite places for breakfast food, they practiced the uncivilized trend of having T.V.s playing in every corner of the restaurant.  So we were into our cup of coffee when Fr. B says, "Do you see what they are reporting on T.V.?"  It was the shocking story of the man who shot the reporter, camera man, and the interviewee on live television.  

"Can you imagine your world being so small," I opined, "that the only way this disturbance in your life can be dealt with is by killing somebody?"  

Fr. B replies, "How much you wanna bet it is a love triangle and that we find out he later ends his own life?"

Well . . . he was close.

Talk about jaded.

But really, are you surprised?  We are constantly working on becoming what some people consider a freer society, but it is leading us down some deadly paths.

1. You have a right to happiness in this world.
2. There are those who deserve life and those who don't.
3. There is no God who needs to be part of civic life therefore there are no absolutes.
4. Truth is subjective.
5. Man is the highest authority.  (At least the one with the most power.)

So, with these as your premise, where do you find meaning in your life; in what you do, accomplish, and are "good for."  That brings you happiness (or escape) is that which is labeled, "the good."  If these are the goods, anything that works against them is evil.  And if you don't have a well developed sense of God, Divine justice, hope both in this life and the after life, that you have dignity and meaning through simply through your being, which comes from this God, that there is such a thing as redemptive suffering, that every aspect of your life and the lives of those around you are a part of these paradigms, then for an increasing number of us, personal justice based on my idea of truth imposed by my will becomes a more realistic option.  
If we keep telling people McDonalds is a real food option, can we be surprised when people base their lives on a McDonalds diet even to the point where they get sick?  And if we keep teaching people that they are their own moral authority, can we be surprised that they take the advice seriously?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


In the most recent Sherlock Holmes movie ("Mr. Holmes" starring Ian McKellen) we see Holmes retired in a remote country home with a servant. Holmes is distant and the housekeeper somewhat frustrated.  Clearly she has more skin in the game and therefore Holmes, as her employer and almost sole source of humanity (poor girl!) is in control of the relationship.

Later, the tables are turned, and when the housekeeper no longer needs Holmes, having had enough of him and finding a new job, it is Holmes who now has much more skin in the game and she becomes the more powerful of the two in the relationship.

In any given relationship (family, friends, lovers) one person is always more in love than the other.  And it is the one less in love who is in control.  Because it takes two to Tango, it is the one who loves less who's veto or disinterest determines just how far any relationship will go.  The satiated one forces the other to diet.  

There are two important things with this (maybe more, but we'll stick with two today.  I want to get my breakfast.)  One is, if you find a person who will continue to love you when that person has had enough, that is the person to marry.  That is true love.  To be chosen even when the other person no longer receives any further consolation.  Wow.  That is love in it's rarest form.

The other is to remember that God is crazy about you though He receives no consolation from it.  God is complete.  He IS love.  Yet, He made you.  He redeemed you.  He was made humble for you and was born into this world.  He lived for you, taught for you, and performed miracles so that you would believe.  He was arrested for you, tortured for you, and died for you.  He came back for you.  He makes available to you His dignity, His power, and His inheritance.  It would seem there was nothing left to give and then He made His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity available to you as the Eucharist.  I can't even imagine anything left that He could give except for His infinite patience and mercy. 
And as those who love less than our Lover, we are in control.  He will not force anything on us (another sign of His love and respect.)  The Bridegroom will love the Bride as fully as she we allow.  How deeply it goes is entirely up to us.  And no matter how deeply you allow Him to love you, you will never probe the depths.  


I thought you might enjoy this as it is going live today.  There is more about this video that (hopefully) will be coming out soon!  See the site and the video about Mother Mary Thomas and her painting HERE.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Today the way to the Bible is littered with heaps of cliches and preconceptions, and on arriving at its words the mind is blind with shallow knowing."  from Abraham Heschel's, "God in Search of Man"

QUOTE II:  "We easily forget that our reasons, too, are in need of reasons; no proof is ultimate or self-supporting."  same source


Off season but good:

Friday, August 14, 2015


GIRM paragraph 53

Sit down and make yourself comfortable.

We are going to be on this paragraph for a little while.

I suppose at this point you have two possibilities; 1) Go on for PAGES what happens during the Liturgy of the Word, or 2) Just say as much as you can in one breath and move on.  They chose both.  First they did #2 and then they did #1.  But as for this paragraph, if you were a administrative assistant (formally known as secretary) and someone wanted to leave this as a message (and you still wrote down the messages) and the message had as much information in it as these four sentences do, after a second or two you would put your pen down and say, "I'll just have Pat call you back after lunch."

Okay, it's just an introductory paragraph and then an explanation but I am in a mood.

What we have in this paragraph is a general overview of the LITURGY OF THE WORD.  First is a general outline of what makes up the LOTW; 1) Readings from Sacred Scripture, 2) the chants that occur between them 3) the homily 4) profession of faith, 5) and the universal prayer.

1 & 2 I am sure do not surprise you.  The purpose of numbers 3 through 5 (not always required) is to develop and conclude the LOTW.  

It would be interesting, along with trying to do a Mass in which first options are consistently chosen, to do a Mass in which everything that one can opt not to do is not done.  It is rather jarring because we are, in general, not accustomed to it.  (I don't really recommend it.)

When the choir was touring in Ireland we got a taste of it.  We were at a Mass (at a cathedral non-the-less and for a Sunday Mass to boot!) and they dropped several parts that we would never expect.  For example, after the exceedingly short (but brilliant) homily and creed the priest started setting up his altar skipping the Universal Prayers.  I knew that the choir would not be expecting that so I look up into the choir loft (from my seat in the sanctuary - fully vested) which was about a half a mile away, and frantically tried to signal the choir to start singing.  Things go quickly in Ireland and even though it was only a short delay, offertory was almost over already.

We'll pick up back here next time.

Thursday, August 13, 2015


There was a time in the Diocese of Cleveland that you would not be considered for a pastorate until you were at least 55.  So in "priest years" I am still a "kid" even though we are on the countdown to the half century mark.  Someone told me the other day, "Enjoy turning 50 because you know what happens when you turn 51 don't you?"

"No," replied, "What happens?"

"Nobody cares."

Jolly thought that.

About an hour ago we received word that a local, retired priest named Fr. Yahner passed away.  He was still very active.  As a matter of fact the way someone knew that he was in need of medical help was that he was expected to organize a crew of young persons to go do yard work and he didn't show up.

All of this makes one very thoughtful.

My first pastor as a priest was in his 80s and was still a workhorse.  "Died with his boots on" as the saying goes and he was the oldest pastor in the diocese at one of the largest parishes.  We used to discuss death.  "A healthy spirituality can talk about death," is a worthy quote.  

"As long as I have been to confession, God can take me whenever He wants," I once remarked to him.

"Wait until you are 80," he shot back, "and see if your attitude changes."

Another person told me the other day that 50 is the best age ever.  "You are not 'old' yet and you are not a 'young un' either."  Let me believe that this is true.  (It reminds me of a time when I was walking down Mull Avenue with a few other priests all dressed in our clerics and I commented, "I wonder when was the last time Mull Avenue saw 5 young priests in full dress walking down the street?"  Fr. Pf coughed and said, "Well, Father, 4 young priests and . . . "

So at this point you do a lot of thinking.  As a younger priest I wondered, "Will I some day regret not having kids?"  So far so good.  Will I start worrying about death like my first pastor warned?  So far so good on that front too.

One of the big things that motivated me toward the priesthood was the opportunity to get people to stop and think, evaluate, contemplate, and meditate.  Are you still living any of your dreams?  Did you accomplish what you set out to do?  Do you still have any of your idealism?  Did your faith grow?  Being a priest helps me accomplish these things in my life.

Most things we do will pass.  Our relationship with God is an eternal thing.  If you don't get the basement cleaned out today, nobody will know in 100 years.  If you work on your spirituality today, people may be looking at your image on a card and praying for your intercession for centuries.  Even if not, you will be with Him eternally.  Is there anything else worthy of such an investment of time?

As for Fr. Yahner, Sorry guy.  You had your chance to retire and you worked through it.  Now you are on the other side.  We will pray for you that your soul be sped on to heaven and you get back to work and intercede for us poor souls here on earth.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Despite all the gloom and doom out there, I think we are entering a great moment in the life of the Church.  If history is a consistent teacher, then all of this confusion and persecution is a precursor to God's action.

Look even before the foundation of the Church.  When did things start turing around in the Old Testament?  Just when things looked most bleak.  It was at that moment that a prophet or king arose and refined everything.  

In the history of the Church it was when things seemed hopeless that saints arise and that a new fervor, particularly from places unexpected (a man in poverty, begging and wearing odd clothes named Francis?  Really?  HE is going to restore the Church by telling people to be poor and live roughly?  Does THAT sound like a message anybody would buy?) 

The pot is being stirred.  The ingredients are being added.  The burner is lit.  Like a good soup it will not be done instantly.  It takes a long time for everything to simmer and then for the flavors to properly mix, and then cool and be served.  It is a process and a long one if you are already hungry.

Faith and hope. 

(About the title - It's aways darkest blah blah blah)

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "There is some self-interest behind every friendship.  There is no friendship without self-interests.  This is a bitter truth."  Chancy

QUOTE II:  "If you have one true friend you have more than you share."  Thomas Fuller

QUOTE III:  "The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship."  William Blake


Okay, this video just tore me up.  It's part of the reason for some of today's quotes.  See it HERE.  Thank you Ronald.

Hallie sent this picture in from the mission trip to El Salvador with the question, "Can you guess which way is up?

Pat sent this trailer in for a new movie coming out:

Friday, August 7, 2015


GIRM paragraph 54

"Sebastian, come here!"  (Sebastian is my dog.)  "Come!  Hey!  Sebastian.  Come!"  Add stern voice and look.  "Seeeebaaaastian.  COME!  NOW!"  Sigh in exasperation.  "Fine.  Treat!  Good boy."

Not everybody hears a direction when it is given them.  Children, dogs, my Dad, all with selective hearing.  Sometimes Catholic congregations are like this also.

For example, say it is time for the "Collect," the opening prayer of the Mass.  The priest says, "Let us pray."  That is an instruction.  It is not a cue for the Missal to be brought to him.  It does not mean, "Let's get ready to pray the prayer in the book together."  It means: Pray.  

The brief moment of silence that follows this prayer (hopefully) is there for your use.  You were anointed (if you were baptized) prophet, king, and priest.  As priest, you too bring offerings and petitions to the Mass.  You are not at Mass to simply to be a passive receptacle.  You are not there to be entertained.  You are there to work.  (And if you really work, you will be surprised how much more fulfilling and quick Mass is.)  

So we are instructed by the ordained priest, "Let us pray," then the priestly people, becoming aware that they are in God's presence, are to bring to the Mass the particular needs of which they are aware. A little bit later we will pray what is called the General Intercessions.  Those are rather - well - general.  For the Church . . . for the world . . . for all of our sick . . . these are huge blessing cans of paint thrown on the world.  And yes, contained in these in some general way is the prayer that it won't rain on the parish festival, that your brother in the army will be safe, that Aunt Matilda will make it through surgery.  But, at the beginning of Mass, you have the opportunity, not for a general intercession, but for a specific one: for my Brother Joe, for my Aunt Matilda who needs your healing will.  

Don't hold back!  The graces of every Mass are endless!  Bring a whole laundry list of things!  What concerns you?  What troubles you?  Of what are you uncertain?  Don't miss this opportunity!  How many more graces could be rained down upon the earth if only her priestly people would take the opportunity to ask!  
And now, here is the reason the prayer is called the Collect.  It is because then one of the priestly people in this congregation who is a member of the ordained priesthood collects all of those prayers (assuming he gave the priestly people an opportunity to pray and that they prayed) and offers them to the Father, through the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit in an official prayer of the greater Church (which also serves to announce the character of the Mass,) joined with all of the prayers being offered around the world.

Don't miss out!

Thursday, August 6, 2015


Over time things can become skewed.  We pay attention to the paintings at the Stations of the Cross and over time give more attention to them so that we forget that they are completely unnecessary.  The indulgence is connected to the wooden crosses.  And sometimes we see the stations without the crosses because we forgot which was the important piece.  

The candles on the sides of a consecrated church are supposed to light up the crosses on the walls where the oil was placed to bless the church.  Sometimes we forget this and put giant candles in the stands so that the cross is obscured.

Sometimes we are so immersed in the Protestant work ethic that we feel we have to produce, be useful, and have talent in order to be beloved.  Now, it is true that Paul said, "He who does not work should not eat."  That is about fair play, not the worth of the individual.  And it's good for the non-worker too.  Have him learn some valuable life lessons and whatnot.  But that doesn't make him any more of a person.  It doesn't make him have any more dignity.  So it is with the man in the insane asylum (I'm sure there is a more politically correct way of saying that) or on death row, or in the womb, or in the nursing home, or in an unresponsive state, or begging on the street corner.  They are no less cherished and loved by God.  And neither are you when you are feeling unproductive, unconnected, and unmotivated.  Maybe God is calling you to STOP and just BE.  "Be still," he tells us, "and know that I am God."  What you can produce is not what is special, YOU are what makes you special.  He did create you after all.    

And it does not matter how much you are loved.  "A heart is not measured by how much you love," says the Scarecrow, "but by how much you are loved by others."  Horse pucky.  Do you know who some of the most difficult people on the face of the earth were to live with?  Saints.  St. Jerome was so irascible there was an effort to get him kicked out of the league of saints.  True love can be a very difficult thing with which to live in this world.

Stop rating.
Stop comparing yourself.

How much you can produce.  How much you are loved.  These are things the world cares about.  These measures help the world determine who doesn't matter that much, who we can throw away, who's life we can extinguish.  All these things don't work if you have inherit dignity and worth and are loved by the only One who really matters and Who promises the healing of hearts when you finally come to Him.

Every hurt is an opportunity for healing.  Every lonely minute will make ultimate love all the more blissful.  Every ounce of feeling worthless will make the revealing of your dignity all the more mind-blowing.  Every tear, every rejection, every anguish, every humiliation is, for those who love Him, a stored blessing.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


This quote has been a comfort to me:
“The man who knocks on the door of a brothel is knocking for God.”

It is attributed to a couple of people one of whom is G. K. Chesterton.

To get to the intended idea of this I think of a Youtube of Christopher West (where is he by the way?  I haven’t heard of him lately) and he was talking about sin.  Sin cannot stand on its own.  It’s always a perversion of good.  Evil is a state of “unbecoming.”  Like a disease, it needs a host of sorts.  So, he says, every sin, at its heart, is a good desire.  But it has been crumpled up, disfigured, mangled, and distorted like a clean sheet of paper that has been crunched in a fist.  But carefully smooth out that paper, get rid of the disfiguring and distortions and you will find the good intent.

Think of your deepest longing.  Boil it all down and we desire to be fulfilled.  We want joy and happiness.  We want to be loved.  Some people search for it in food.  Food is a good thing.  We need it to survive.  it also taste good (most of the time.)  But when we have a hole in our heart, we take this good thing like food and try to fill that hole.  But it is the wrong filler and no matter how much we throw in it, it will never completely satisfy.

The guy who watches computer porn is seeking something.  Un-crumple that paper and you will find a man who does not want to be rejected, who wants a person to accept him and be cooperative, who is always there, always willing, always beautiful.  But ultimately it will fail to satisfy because it is not what he really needs or wants.

The danger in using these substitutes is that they are often jealous mistresses.  They demand more and more attention and offer promises of redemption and fulfillment.  They form habits and addictions that are difficult to kick.  And in some cases we forget that we were looking for love, hope, acceptance, peace, fulfillment, peace, all the good things.

Then we try to go back to the good things, but the jealous mistress is not easily put off.  Even computer games can be difficult to turn aside.  “The worst thing about sin is that the body remembers.”  “Board are you?” asks the body, “I remember something that made you feel better the last time you felt this way.”

“Yeah, but I felt miserable afterwords for all of the wasted time.”

“It will be different this time.  We’ll only play for a little bit.  You can handle it.  I HATE being bored.”
So how is the man who is knocking on the door of the brothel knocking for God?  There is something missing in his life.  There is a hole.  If he were loved as well as able to love well, if he were not addicted, if there were not a hole, the thought of an anonymous night, in a dangerous place, spending money, risking disease, risking being found out, treating another human as an object, would never enter his mind.

Ultimately, when we smooth out that piece of paper, even he wants heaven.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "The Bible contains not only records of what transpired in moments of prophetic inspiration; it also records acts and words of man.  It is incorrect to maintain that all words in the Bible originated in the spirit of God.  The blasphemous tirades of Pharaoh, the rebellious utterances of Korach, the subterfuge of Ephron, the words of the soldiers in the camp of Midian, emanated from the spirit of man.  What the prophet says to God when addressed by Him is not considered less holy than what God says to the prophet in addressing him."  from Abraham Heschel's, "God in Search of Man"

QUOTE II:  "It is easier to enjoy beauty than to sense the holy."  same source


From the Diocese of Cleveland: To replace the Catholic Universe Bulletin (greatest name ever) we are launching a new magazine.  Read more about it HERE.

Fr. K and I took a road trip recently and saw this sign.  How lucky for these people to live in Chesterton Land.  Will they change the name to St. Chesterton should that come about?

While in Chicago visiting Fr. Marty we saw this nifty holder someone made for the Ordo.  I think I may need to make one.
Here's another 4 minute letter:

Monday, August 3, 2015


A couple of times on Adam's Ale I've invited you along for a visit to Mother Mary Thomas CPCA, a cloistered nun and an artist.  Read more HERE.  You were in on the Saint Sebastian painting she created for our parish and saw the large mural on which she was working at the time.  A couple of guys, Fr. P, and I took an excursion up to Cleveland to the Saint Paul Shrine to see how things were coming along on the large painting.  Here is a picture of Mother and Fr. P
As you can see, things are coming along nicely.  Notice about half way up on the left hand side there is included and likeness of His Holiness Pope Francis.
So here is the interesting part of all of this:  The Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration and the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museum Ohio Chapter recently made an announcement.
Quote, "One of (Mother Thomas') works is a 30 x 16 foot canvas . . . originally commissioned by a parish in Philadelphia in 2005, but the parish closed in 2013.  Mother Mary is reworking the mural and hopes to present it to His Holiness Pope Francis when he visits the United States this fall and that it will one day be displayed in Rome in the Vatican Museums."
That would be SO COOL!  And it would certainly add to the mystique of our painting of St. Sebastian.  You've got a little ways to go yet and time is ticking!  Get painting Mother!