Monday, November 30, 2015


I think the St. Sebastian servers are some of the best in the diocese (Thank you Mr. F.).  If there were going to be a contest for great serving teams I'd pitch my troops against anybody's in a fair fight.  But, as with any family, there are certain things in which we are just dysfunctional. 

Case in point:  SEVEN YEARS AGO I changed how we do the Gospel procession.  I made it easier and shorter.  I KNEW that it would take a while for the servers to catch on to a different routine but . . . honestly . . . SEVEN YEARS?

So I've taken to making sure, before Mass, to ask if they know EXACTLY and PRECISELY what is going on with the Gospel procession.
No they don't.

Or rather . . . some do, but JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE SAYS THEY KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON DOESN'T MEAN THAT THEY DO.  It reminds me of the car I had in seminary.  Just because it started didn't mean it was going to get you where you were going.  It might today.  It might tomorrow.  But you just never knew.

So I started going over it at EVERY MASS.
That, too, unfortunately, guarantees absolutely nothing.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Happy Thanksgiving!

So what happens when you have nothing really to say and you decide just to sit down and start typing something for Thanksgiving?

Well, this.

Although school is closed and for the next two days (TWO DAYS!) the offices are closed, the rectory is a hopping place.  The place is teaming with priests and seminarians today - mostly for food, cards, and prayer.  Tomorrow it will be teaming with family.  And then Friday, blessed peace (and catching up on all the stuff I didn't get done today and tomorrow.)

Thanksgiving Day Mass is always one of my favorites.  Nobody has to be there and those that do show up are extra eager to participate.  There is so much to do at home - cook - prepare - sleep in - a million things, but this stalwart gathering of Catholics take the meaning of this day to its height and begin with this most privileged form of giving thanks to God from Whom all of our blessing come.

If you have a couple of extra minutes to spare over these next two days, try to become creative in coming up with what you are grateful for really, everything is so closely knit together that the most mundane things are essential for our life and joy.

Do you realize how many people it takes to make your Thanksgiving Day possible?  Consider the humble pumpkin pie that one can so mindlessly shovel into his mouth even after saying, "I couldn't possibly eat another bite."  Forget that, it's too much to think about.  Just think about the plate in which it was baked.  Even that is too much!!!  You will be amazed at how interconnected we all are.  

Let's say its an aluminum pie tin.  Forget about all the people it took to discover aluminum (based on thousands of discoveries by thousands of others) and those who discovered, improved, manipulated, tested, experimented, and formed it into the shape that it has today.  That would take too much.  Forget about the people who had to mine the materials for it because that would lead us to a discussion about the people who had to make the machinery for it to be mined, refined the fuel on which the machines would operate, transported it, regulated it, sold it, bought it, stored it . . . 


Okay, so take for granted that it was mined.  Now that I think of it - let's skip the part that it was made.  Then we have to get in to the people who own the company that thought of making the pie tin, those who were sent out to buy the materials, the banks involved in the transaction, the designers of the tin, those who make the machinery to make the tin, the people in the country that work in the factories where it was made including the janitors who keep the place clean and safe . . .

SKIP ALL THAT!  That alone would take a month.  So, it's made and makes it's way from, say, China to your store.  Of course there are all the people involved with figuring out where it needs to go so that you can get it.  Stores are contracted to sell them.  Accountants figure out how much it can be sold for.  Marketing people design packages, a ship is enlisted for the trip from China, along with truck drivers, warehouses, and space on trains possibly.  Lawyers are involved at every step of the way to make sure things and contracts are on the up and up.  The government is there to make sure that the tins are safe for food consumption, that taxes are paid (to help pay for the roads on which the travel and pay the people who inspect them to make sure that they are safe and that when the package says that there are three of the them that there actually is three of them. . .

Arg!  TOO MUCH AGAIN and we only scratched the surface.

Then in the store - the stock boy, the cashier, the janitors, the security guy that stands by the door, the bagger, the manager, and the owner, his accountants and staff . . .  those who design the layout of the store, the government who regulates the safety of the place, the police, fire, and first responders who are on call should anything go wrong, all the people responsible for the electricity making it safely and reliably into the store so you can read the price tag - Oh man!  Do you realized how many people are involved in just making that stupid price tag . . .


Maybe just be thankful for Mom for making the pie.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Their idea of changing the world is just to say no to everything.  I don't think you can really change anything less you're willing to say yes."  from Garth Halberg's "City on Fire"

QUOTE II:  "To notice a thing is to become responsible for it."  same source.


As you know, I bought a typewriter.  So what does one do with a typewriter?  I tried an art project.  I drew a picture of a friend of mind relaxing with some things he said filling the space behind him.  I though it turned out rather interestingly. 

Mary sent in THIS LINK to a new book by Archbishop Chaput.

Want to know what you bishops had to say about pornography?  Find the link HERE.

Ralph and Becky sent in THIS ARTICLE about a guy who is a college football player and seminarian.

Frank sent this video in.  It isn't really in keeping with the purpose of this blog but I enjoyed it.

Monday, November 23, 2015


I thought I had done a fairly good job of not becoming too reliant on technology.  But it only took one hiccup to realize to what depth I have fallen.

You know how when the electricity goes out it doesn't stop you from trying on a light or other electrical device and then you go, "Duh!  There is no electricity!"  Well, a similar thing happened this weekend when the Internet went down.  (By the way, why is something like the Internet capitalized by heaven and earth are not?  Are not those proper names?  But I digress.)  

I couldn't do anything.  
The not being able to print my homily was probably the biggest scare.  I thought of taking my computer out on the pulpit but then thought better of it.  Instead I tried to hand write out my homily in the fifteen minutes that I had - not something someone with my poor penmanship skills should attempt.

No Internet also meant no TV, no uploading books, no Sunday podcasts that I enjoy.  How odd that it only took this one bit of technology to go rogue to bring down the effectiveness and enjoyment of my Sunday routine. 

But I suppose it was always so . . .

Friday, November 20, 2015


You are standing at the edge of the pool.  Crazily enough you are at the deep end!  You've never even thought about going in the deep end before but here you are and Dad is in the water facing you with his arms out and he says, "Come on, I'll catch you.  You'll be Okay.  Be brave."

But when you jump - that's it!  There is no turning around, nothing to grab on to, it's pure trust that Dad is going to save you or you drown.  So you hesitate.  Then Dad says, "Do you trust me?"

"Uh huh."  It comes out softly.

That was a profession of faith and you gave it just before you jumped.  As a matter of fact, it allowed you to jump.  Saying it out loud reminded you that you believe that this mythic creature known as Dad will keep you from being obliterated.  You simply need to listen, trust, jump, and maybe for a moment you will be under, for a moment that seems a lifetime there is nothing touching your body but air and then cool water, and then two firm hands raise you up eyes twinkling with pride.

So think of this:  There are two parts of the Mass.  There is Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.  In the first part we are instructed about the life of faith.  In the second we jump into the void: heaven and earth collide, the visible and invisible meet, (if this were Star Trek, matter and anti-matter would be touching) time is warped, worlds collide, events slide into each other.  It is absolutely ridiculous that we come to Mass and sit behaving in our pews in our Sunday finest.  We should lashed into our pews in riot gear, ushers should come down the aisles with life preservers, and warning sirens should be going off.  If we really understood what was going on we should be scared witless.  We are entering the deep end!  

BUT, before we do, while we are still standing on the edge getting ready to jump in, we tell God, "I trust you - I believe in you."  "I believe in one God, the Father the Almighty . . . "  It is this profession of faith that allows us to jump.  Saying it out loud reminds us that we believe in this wonderful God known as the Father Who will keep us from being obliterated.  We listened, trusted, and are preparing to jump in hopefully with our heart and mind fully understanding what it is that we are doing.

This profession of faith is said on Sundays and more solemn celebrations.  It is preferred that it be sung (when was the last time you heard THAT outside of an extraordinary form Mass?) and is to be intoned by the priest UNLESS it seems more appropriate for it to be intoned by a cantor or choir such as a case where a priest cannot carry a tune a bucket.

It is to be sung or recited by all, or alternated between choir and people, or done by two choruses meaning, for example, the left side of the church says a stanza then the right side of the church says a stanza.  

Thursday, November 19, 2015


And not because Santa Clause is coming to town.

Recently the U. S. Embassy in Rome has warned United States Citizens to be on high alert if they are in St. Peter's Basilica, the Duomo in Milan, and in general churches and synagogues in Europe.  

A friend of mine just went to work at a Jewish elementary school in another state.  Out of concern for extremists, they have hired arm guards to patrol their school.

As a side anecdote, a few years ago a grandpa came to pick his grandson up from our school wearing a police uniform as he had just finished his shift and boy! did I get phone calls and letters, "What?!  Are we an armed camp now?  Are we going to subject our children to such things?"  It was a sad misunderstanding, but maybe not so crazy of an idea anymore.

We are not there, but it is not unimaginable that in the future we will start thinking twice about going to a crowded concert, play, or celebration.  We may become even more homebodies than we already are.  And one will argue whether this is a good thing or not.  "Stay safe!  Stay home!' or, "Don't let them win by staying home!"

But what about faith?  Will we find ourselves nervous about going to Mass?  Might we choose safety over communal worship of God?  If you ever wondered what it was to be a Christian of old when there was some risk for being Catholic (or of today depending on where you are in the world - there are still martyrs for the faith being made to this very year) you just might get the chance to find out first hand.

SO HERE'S THE QUESTION:  Who do you want to be should you face such risk?  Do you want to be a Sebastian or a Catherine?  Do you want to be a person of your own convictions?  Do want to be a person of freedom of thought?  Then decide that now.  Decide you are going to be a person of fortitude now.  Pray for the courage of your convictions now.  Decide what is important to you now so IF the you are presented with the scenario of being scared to live your cherished core values, your inner strength, your earlier discernment of your hierarchy of beliefs to be defended, your course of life will see you through the rough waters of conflict.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


So here is a painting entitle, "A Candy Heart Pierced by a Candy Arrow or A Pop Mediation on the Sweet Suffering of St. Sebastian."  I don't have time or the space to tell you everything that I would like to about this painting or what the artists was trying to do but here we go:

Of course you think of heart when you think of love - think of the heart beating out of a cartoon character's chest.  And the arrow is a harmless looking one like one you might find at Boy Scout Camp.  

Next, we understand from the title that this is a candy heart which brings to mind the little candies passed around on St. Valentine's Day.  The arrow then can be reminiscent of Cupid's arrow that, when it strikes you, makes you fall helplessly in love.

Next, because of the title, we know that this painting is connected to St. Sebastian.  In his great love for God he was willing to risk all and head for Rome where the persecution against this Christian God was the greatest.  It was love of God and his fellow Christians that drew him there.  And if you know the story of St. Sebastian, you know that when he was found out, he was tied to a stake and shot with arrows.

Further, the colors the painter has chosen are the colors of St. Sebastian Parish in Akron.  Now all of the themes of St. Sebastian, his love of God, his story, and being patron of this parish all come together to give new meaning to something as secular as a candy heart.

Here is a way to "baptize" secular symbolism to remind us of God.  I would be willing to bet that in February when you pick up a candy heart it will mean more than just being a piece of mindless candy of a self indulgent sweet tooth.

What wonders we could work if we start taking control of the symbolic language of our culture.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


This is an old commercial for Coke Light.  Did you see how at the end the priest takes the sweat from the Coke can and anoints the girl?  This is very clever.  The hope is that when you see a priest perform this action, you will think of Coke Light.  (It worked for me apparently.  When I thought of this post this was the first image that came to mind.)

This symbol of the Sacred Heart is more rarely used in the Church circles now because it has been so secularized.  I really like this symbol too.

Crosses and crucifixes have long been tried to be secularized from the chest of Madonna, to men's earrings, to being a fashion accessory to hang on the wall.  "It's a statement, not a symbol that I am Christian," I would hear often.  That seems to be waining a bit.

You could probably come up with your own list of words, objets, and even holy days ([St.] Valentine's Day, Christmas) that have been or have tried to be secularized.  

This is yet again why art is so important.  We tend to be visual people.  If the effort to de-sacralize our symbols is successful, then our presence in our culture is that much more diminished.  

Some symbols are taken, others are freely given away.  Priests not wearing collars, religious not wearing habits, church buildings not looking like church buildings, our presence becomes static on the screen rather than a clear picture.  We need to take very good care of our symbols or we run the risk of fading into the background.  Secularized symbols are far more easy to throw away.  We give them up, they will be used up, drained of meaning, and then forgotten.

Tomorrow - one way to reverse the trend.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Each particular Church should encourage the use of the arts in evangelization, building on the treasures of the past but also drawing upon the wide variety of contemporary expressions so as to transmit the faith in a new "language of parables." We must be bold enough to discover new signs and new symbols, new flesh to embody and communicate the word, and different forms of beauty which are valued in different cultural settings, including those conventional modes of beauty which may mean little to the evangelizers, yet prove particularly attractive for others."  from Pope Francis', "The Joy of the Gospel"


Today is St. Pope Leo Day!

You know what THAT means don't you?

It is the end of my first six year term at St. Sebastian.  Six years ago today I was sitting in the bishop's office in the CVS building in downtown Cleveland and he handed me the official declaration naming me pastor.  BTW - this is when you officially become pastor, not when the bishop comes to the parish and has a celebration of you being named pastor.  For me that would December 8th with Bishop Pevec, late of our company.

I was looking back in my diary about this day 6 years ago.  It wasn't as nice as I remember it.  You know, going in I didn't yet even know if I would be named pastor.  "Trying to remain calm.   I pray not that I will be pastor but that what will be best will happen and that I shall accept that well.

"The day has been less than stellar - I didn't like my morning homily - my first meeting involved a child being picked on in school - my pro-life groups are fighting (Oh!  The Irony) and (two staff members) are having (an argument) over building scheduling."

Later I wrote about the meeting.  In the Bishop's office we talked about the parish and the school, the good things, the challenges, "and then he asked, 'would you like to be pastor?'  He asked what it meant to me and I said, 'Much the same as I said to you before.  On the one hand it like an adoption has gone through and now I can be called, "Dad."  On the other hand I will now be pastor!'  He laughed heartily.  I read and signed the Oath of Fidelity and Faith, he shook m hand and that was about it.

"Leaving I crossed the street to the cathedral to give thanks and ask for direction and a man asked if I could hear his confession.  I estimate that I was named pastor around 2:50PM and by 3:10PM I celebrated my first sacrament as a pastor."

I thought today to look up the parish on line to see if there were any videos and found THIS ONE of the first class taught in Faith Lodge. 

Friday, November 6, 2015


The server has been down and so I have been unable to post - or do a lot of things for that matter.  My, how this Luddite has become dependent upon technology.  I have tried to temper this drastic change in my lifestyle by buying and old underwood typewriter.  WOW, what nostalgia.  I miss that sound.  Of course it also reminds me of writing papers in college, going to a room in Bierce Library, putting a quarter in the slot (half an hour) and using an electric typewriter (oooh! advanced technology) to write term papers.  

Remember?  Move to the center of the page.  Back space half of your title in order to center it on the page. . . 

Maybe it wasn't as great as I remember.


Paragraph 65 concerns the homily.  There is so much I want to say about it but that is not the purpose of Friday Potpourri SAVE THIS which His Holiness, Pope Frances said about the homily in "The Joy of the Gospel," "We know that the faithful attach great importance (to homilies) and that both they and their ordained ministers suffer because of homilies; the laity from having to listen to them and the clergy from having to preach them!"  

It is interesting to note that the homily is highly recommended but not alway demanded.  How different this is from our Protestant brothers and sisters many of whose services almost entirely consist of preaching.  (I've often wondered what an Envagelical preacher does if he should find himself utterly alone on a Sunday.  I could still have Mass.  Does he still preach?  But I digress.)

The homily should touch on the readings, the propers of the Mass, the mystery being celebrated, and the needs of the people.  (Not all of them all the time . . . but you get the idea.)

The only time homilies are required are Sundays and holy days of obligation that is celebrated when the congregation is present.  So say I am alone in a log cabin in the middle of the woods on Sunday and want to celebrate Mass.  I don't have to give a homily to myself.

The homily is to be given by the celebrant, or, it may be delegated to a concelebrating priest or the deacon and that pretty much ends the list save for a rare occasion of a non-celebrating clergy, for good reason, stepping in to give the homily say at a parish that has seven Masses and the missionary comes out to give his appeal without having to be at every Mass.

That is not to say that lay people cannot preach.  They certainly can.  Just not at Mass.  We have all kinds of opportunities if it seems good for the parish for this to take place (this is not in this chapter by the way.)  Liturgy of the Hours, benedictions, missions, festivals of praise and worship are all examples of possibilities of this taking place.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Sometimes discipline is the truest form of kindness." from Robin Sloan's, "Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore"

QUOTE II:  "And just like the internet today, printing is the fifteenth century was all problems, all the time: How do you store the ink?  How do you mix the metal?  How do you mold the type?  The answers changed every six months."  same source


Here is video from our diocesan seminary:

Monday, November 2, 2015


The other day I was thinking how very blessed I am to have a dog.  And not just any dog, but this dog, Sebastian, in particular.  One of his best features is that he suffers from separation anxiety.  That's not so good for the dog but wonderful for my health and wellbeing.  Because of this, I cannot just open the door and say, "Go outside and ease nature!"  Either he won't go out if it doesn't look as though I am going along or if he does go out he'll just stand looking the door, barking, "WELL!  AREN'T YOU COMING?"

You are as busy as you want to be as a priest.  This is very bad if you are a workaholic.  There's not a lot in place to tell you, "Hey!  Take it easy!  The Church survived 2,000 years without you, you don't have to save it today!"  There is occasionally the urge to skip a meal and just plow through paperwork (because it is so fun and exciting.)  But there is a big, black, insistent dog that comes up to me three times a day and says, "It's walk time now or clean the rug time later."

But because of these walks, I've seen so many wonderful things that I would have missed otherwise:

Of course, there is the occasional down side also.