Monday, February 29, 2016


I was perfectly happy living in my barely 20th century world but like Eve in the Garden of Eden, I was tempted and Oh! I bit into that apple - or is it Apple?
Ah yes, so tempting it was!  For so long I was Appless without shame but then I saw that the fruit was good and tempting to the eye and useful for knowledge.  So slowly, every so slowly I gave myself over and for so long it was good.
It was largely secret.  I had a reputation to uphold so when my friends came over I hid my Apple self because I was afraid.  But eventually I was won over by the dark side.  "Write your homily on your computer," I was told.  "You can edit much more easily and store them forever."  And I was as anxious to do this as David was to number his people.  Thusly was my homily written and then - AND THEN!  OH!  The HORROR - the Internet at St. Sebastian went dark!  I pressed "print" and NOTHING HAPPENED.  It was almost time for Mass to start and I couldn't put my computer on the ambo.  Or could I?

The trials of that Sunday morning having passed, I thought to watch a little TV and relax.

ARG!  The T.V. too is reliant on the Internet.  So I thought to read a book on my Kindle.
How far I had fallen!  Having finished a book I downloaded some samples thinking that if one of the books intrigued me I would download the rest of it and have something to read Sunday night.  But I was banished from the electronic garden of books to crawl in despair on my belly.

At least I could do my prayers.


Friday, February 26, 2016


Paragraph 78 of the GIRM

When I lived in Cleveland I had a membership for the Cleveland Museum of Art.  During this time the Vatican Exhibit came to town and I went with a bunch of family to see it.  Being a member of the museum, I could have gone in the VERY short line to get in.  But since my relatives were not members, we walked the end of the three mile long queue to wait our turn.  It was worse than waiting in line for a new roller coaster at Cedar Point.

I lady with a clipboard came walking past us asking, “Members?  Are there any members here?”  

“I’m a member,” I said.

“Well sir, you may go to the front of the line.”

With my most dejected face I said, “No I can’t.  I’m here with family and they are not members.  I have to stay here with them.”

“No you don’t!” she said in a most cheery manner, “Because they are with you, you ALL can come to the front of the line!”  To my family I was a hero, to the others in line; the new enemy.

Anyway, because they were associated with me, my family received the benefits.  Now it wasn’t me, I wasn't any more special than they were, but I was associated with the museum.  THAT was what was special, and we all benefited, I as much as they

Okay - bearing in mind all analogies limp, that is what is going on as we begin the Eucharistic Prayer, the source and summit of our lives, or as this paragraph states it, “the center and high point of the celebration.”  The priest, as a man, does not associated himself with the gathered people.  He associates himself with Jesus and is acting in personal Christi or “in the person of Christ.”  And in persona Christi, he associates the people with himself.  

“Pray my brothers and sisters that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God the Almighty Father.”

It seems as though it is a subtle distinction and semantics, but it is the difference to waiting at the end of the three mile long line or going right in.  We are not just a bunch of really good average Joes getting together to worship our great God.  We are, rather, A royal people, a holy nation, a people set apart acting as the Body of Christ.  The priest isn’t any more special as a man than any other person present, it is Christ Who is the special One and with Whom, through the priest, we all associate.  We are a community of priests coming together with the ordained priest to offer sacrifice and praise.  We are performing a supreme act, the crowning achievement of a worthy life, reaching our highest dignity, grasping at our ideal and potential, capping of our identities gained at our baptism off priests, prophets, and kings!

Thursday, February 25, 2016


I open up a drawer and think, “Gads.  I’ve not gone through this drawer in months.  I should probably get rid of half of this stuff.”

I open up a closet and think, “What am I doing with some of the stuff?  I haven’t touched it in forever.”

So one of my lenten resolves was this: To give something away every day for lent.

Here is the problem: It turns out that I am having a blast doing it.  In fact, I am about a week ahead of schedule.  

The last time I had to do this was when my parents died.  My sisters and I did not know what to do with all of their stuff.  (There was a lot of just plain STUFF.)  So we got a little creative.  I took a bunch of plates to a friend’s house who had a matching set and slowly started adding plates and other pieces they did not formerly own to their cupboards. 

It’s fun to go to yard sales and leave things.

It’s amazing how much stuff you can get rid of by putting nicknacks on display shelves in restaurants.

We put a bowling ball in the trunk of their neighbor’s car.  That might have been a mistake.

We put a pair of cowboy boots in a cousin’s car.  They took them out and left them on the devil strip (tree lawn) and it attracted the entire neighborhood to come stand around the boots trying to figure out from where they came and if the owners would return to pick them up.  (No.)

But that’s not what I am doing for lent.  Goodwill, family, and friends are just occasionally receiving gifts of things (I think) that actually want and like.  I was NOT looking forward to doing it but now every day I look around wondering what who and what will be the next victim of my lenten resolve to declutter my life.

So now I wonder, is it still a lenten practice if it is enjoyed?  As C. S. Lewis once said, “Duty is none-the-less for being pleasure.”

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


I pray for wonder.

God is so awesome.  But we are so accustomed to HIs awesomeness.  And just as it is a terrible thing to grow accustomed to evil, it is even more egregious to allow the glorious to grow common.

So pray and fight against it.

One way to do this is through beauty.  Beauty grabs your mind and heart in a vice grip and says, “Wait a minute!  Consider me!”  And instead of fighting against it like we might a dissertation or street preacher, we are utterly helpless, at least for a moment, before true beauty.

The other day I was sitting in the a side chair of our sanctuary praying my Liturgy of the Hours and reviewing my homily before Mass when a server came out to put something on the credence table.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw him look, do a double take, and then just stand and stare at a painting we put in our sanctuary for lent.  

As you saw yesterday, St. Sebastian is in another periodical because of the art generated at the parish.  Nobody asked for a printout of my last homily (which was brilliant and erudite by the way), but they did an article on a painting and because of it I was able to also talk about some truths of the faith.

I think about the time we were on tour with the choir and they began to warm up in the parking lot of a church in which they were about to perform.  People paused in their touring about and stopped and listened.  Had I been simply extolling the virtues of beauty my bet is I would catch fewer people and held on to them for a shorter period.

As Fr. Benedict Groeschel would say, “It is ultimately beauty that will save us.”  You cannot win anyone over if you do not first have their attention.  You won’t get anybody’s attention if you don’t have something beautiful.  Beauty does not come out of a catalogue of mass produced articles.  People are looking for a unique, beautiful voice.  How are you going to give it to them?

I pray for wonder.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "A dog . . . cannot be either so good or bad as a man.  Nay, I shall go father.  I would almost say a dog cannot be so stupid as a man.  He cannot be utterly wanting as a dog - as some men are as men."  from G. K. Chesterton's, "The Flying Inn"


Another painting at St. Sebastian made the news again.  Gilbert Magazine did a terrific article on our painting of Chesterton with interviews with the artist, Eric Armusik, Fr. Pfeiffer, and myself.  If you are on Facebook you may read it HERE.

Adam sent in this short video (About 15 seconds) about an amazing piece of art.  I bet you have to watch it twice.  See it HERE.

An article was sent in about reverence at the Mass.  Read it HERE.

Justice Antonin Scalia's funeral homily is about 15 minutes long.  It was given by his son who is a Catholic priest.  If you have the time I highly recommend it.  The first two and half minutes can be skipped as it is mostly introductions.

Thursday, February 18, 2016


The other day I received a letter in the mail from a company that said it has helped other Catholic Parishes in my diocese to sell their empty buildings.  Those in my office had a hardy laugh at that as we are in desperate need of more space.  My office is supposed to be our living room and our new headmaster of the Academy has his office in an old storage room (another thing we are desperately short on.)  We are beyond being imaginative for space.  We are out.

In Florida and in other parts of the country they have to have a shoehorn ministry.  Even with large buildings and large schools there isn’t enough room for everybody to fit.  The Catholic population is growing too quickly.  In the magic triangle (Chicago, Washington D. C., Boston) we have the opposite problem.  As our parishioners are moving out, we are left with too many large, empty buildings.

Traditionally, in our diocese (Cleveland,) the emphasis has been sacraments and education.  So generally there is a church and attached to it a rectory, convent, and school.  With a downturn in the student demographic many of the schools (public, parochial, and private) are finding themselves with too few students to stay viable.  Hence the number of empty buildings.


Many people wring their hands and think that there is nothing here but gloom and doom.  If all you want is a traditional Cleveland parish with a church and school; it is.  They will still exist into the future but will become rarer.  


There are two directions in which one might go.  The first is the viable position that as Catholic parishes we are trying to do too much.  In some cases we are running small city states providing often redundant programs already made available by the state.  In many people’s opinion, we should scale back to what a parish is supposed to be doing: sacraments, education, evangelization, social action.  Shedding the burden of buildings and their maintenance would free us to focus on being disciples for the world.  So let the school go down, sell (or rent) the building, ramp up your CCD program.


Prepare for a different future.  While your school and parish is still strong, start imagining new programs that could take up space if and when the school starts to shrink is size.  This cries for extreme imagination, risk taking, and the idea that it is Okay to fail.  

When imagining such things, take stock of what is going on in your neighborhood and city.  What is needed?  What institutions can you partner up with?  What would bring life and notoriety (helpful when evangelizing) to the parish?  What can bring some income?  What is your demographic?  What skills do your parishioners have?

Once a building is empty, it deadly difficult to start up anything like a school again.  You may have been grandfathered on a whole bunch of new regulations that may kick in for you if you try to open back up.  It is vital to keep a smooth transition from one type of ministry to another.

At St. Sebastian we have three programs simmering that could easily take up much of our space if it ever came to that.  (Fortunately, it does not seem to!)  For the foreseeable future, we should never have a dark room (and, in fact, if I could, I would build.)  It can be as scary as missionary work - going into unknown territory and not knowing what exactly to expect.  But where would we be today if we didn’t have missionaries willing to fail in our past?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


I should probably be dressed better,” I thought to myself heading out on a walk.  I’m visiting some friends in Florida who live in a gated community.  Everybody here has the right outfit for every occasion from lounging to dining.  I look like I rolled out of bed directly to this walk with my baggiest shorts on, sandals, and a St. Ambrose Football T-shirt on.  Still, people were kind to the “bum among us.”

There was a two fold agenda for this walk: 1) to pray my rosary and 2) to see if God would give me anything to write about today.  One house away from returning home and just about giving up on having a topic for a post a golf cart pulled up net to me and a gentleman with a name tag pinned to his employee shirt called out, “Do you live on this block sir?”

“Ah!  Here it comes!” I thought to myself.  “What’s a guy like you doing in a place like this?” it seemed was implied, though the it would be meant in a reversal of the compliment it usually attempts to be.  So I simply said, “No.”

“Do you live close by?”

“He’s covering his tracks before he tells me this road is not for the general public,” I thought to myself and again said, “No.”  Seeing squirm a little I decided to come clean.  “I live in Akron.  I’m just visiting,” indicating the house behind us.

As it turns out, he was looking for somebody from St. Ambrose College (I get that often when I am down here) who was supposed to be golfing with him and he couldn’t find him.  

“This T-shirt is from a Catholic primary school,” I clarified.  

“I thought the colors were wrong,” he replied and we got into a discussion in the middle of the (otherwise deserted) street beneath palm trees, he in his golf cart and me in my baggy shorts.  It’s always an interesting reaction (though I am quite used to it now) when somebody finds out that you are a Catholic priest.  A book a read recently calls it the “airplane effect.”  You can talk rather openly to a fellow passenger on a plane telling him things you might not normally say to others simply because chances are you will never see this fellow passenger again.  Often   people react to priests in the same way opening up without much preamble.  Just so our conversation went.

“What’s your prayer life like?”  “What do you live for?”  “What is it that you hope for from your family?”  It was a graced moment under the sun for me and I hope for him.  I gave him a blessing and told him to say a prayer for me as he drove away and I would say one for him and invited him to email me questions if he had them.

God is ironic and has a great sense of humor.  I think of my Mom.  She used to burst out into laughter every now and then and when asked, “What’s so funny?” would reply, “Oh nothing.  I was just thinking.”  When He is not crying I think the cosmos resounds with God’s laughter.  “What’s so funny?” the angels ask.  “Nothing, I’m just contemplating My creation.”

Say a prayer for this guy.  He was a blessing for my day.  Maybe though this post he may receive the blessings he needs.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


Dear Blog,

I am sooooooooooo sorry that I forgot our anniversary.  I was busy - no scratch that.  I had it in mind and then got distracted . . . Um.  Your awesomeness so distracted me that . . .

Okay.  I admit it.  I just plain forgot.

On the ninth of this month Adam's Ale turned NINE just a little under a month that Sebastian turned nine.

Thank you to everybody who stops by.  This week, as usual, most of you are in the United States, but the second highest group is from Japan.  Greetings friends.  Then comes Canada (really Canada - more people from Japan read me than my friendly neighbor to the north?) then Russia (some day I want to actually see you Russia rather than just see pictures of you in the movies) then Germany, China, Ukraine, and Italy.  Is that you in Italy Fr. T?

You are reading the 3,875,503rd most popular blog IN THE WORD!  That is out of 173 million blogs - most of which are abandoned.  But there are 1.3 million blog posts per day so that puts things in a disappointing perspective.

This is the 2,256th post, there are 8,987 posted comments, and 72 followers.  (Thanks guys.)  There are 38,030 links to this site (whatever that means) and 187 domain links.  I have no idea if that is good or bad.

Wow.  So nine.  In Christian symbolism, nine is a perfections number.  It is 3 (another perfections number) repeated three times.  (Think of Kyrie elision, Kyrie, Kyrie, Christe, Christe, Christe, etc. . . for the extraordinary form) though I understand for readers in Japan, 9 is an unlucky number because it sounds like the word for pain.

There are nine fruits of the Spirit:
2. JOY
It is the HOUR OF PRAYER and the hour on which JESUS DIED ON THE CROSS

According to Ronald Reagan, the nine most terrifying words in the English Language are, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help."

My current favorite song:

Here's five minutes of thought:

Friday, February 12, 2016


At various times on this blog we have talked about how to obtain art.  Yesterday was a focus on going to galleries.  An Anonymous commenter sent in the following addition:

As an artist, I have to comment. Every artist starts somewhere. There are art leagues and clubs in nearly every city and county. Nearly all of these groups have at the very least, annual shows of their members' work. These artists are the 'roots' of the artist's life and work. This is where you find the up and coming. This is where to actually meet the artists closest to their own elements. Look in arts section of your local newspaper or on line. You can find a small show most any weekend. In our area most of the openings are on Friday evenings. That is when to go--the artists will be at the receptions, and we love to talk to someone new about our work. The work will be impressive, affordable, and you might even get a glass of wine. Don't just support the arts, support local arts.

Thursday, February 11, 2016


You want to start influencing our culture by supporting artists but you aren’t ready to commission a work yet.  Maybe you are more interested in purchasing a painting already produced.  That is also very helpful.

A good first step is visiting galleries.  This can be intimidating at first.  Depending on where you go there may be a certain “snooty” atmosphere.  Other places are very welcoming.  

RULE NUMBER ONE:  Do NOT be intimidated by the snooty factor.  You have every right to be in the store.  That’s what it is.  A store.  But because they sell art they call it a gallery.  Conduct yourself (and your children) as you would in a museum and you will be fine.

RULE NUMBER TWO:  Do NOT be concerned that gallery owner is following you around at a polite distance.  You will find this at museums also.  This is in order for the gallery owner to protect his art and to be ready at hand should you want to ask a question.

RULE NUMBER THREE:  Do NOT be intimidated by sticker shock.  It is going to cost more than you hoped.  Some things are just going to be ridiculously out of your price range.  STILL LOOK!  It is still there to be enjoyed and for you to see what is being produced and to refine what you like.  (And more expensive does not necessarily mean better.)

Lots of things can happen here.  Twice now I’ve met artists doing this.  Once was with a painting that was so far out of my reach as to be ridiculous.  Getting to know the artist and telling him what I liked about the painting (but with the forewarning that I was NOT going to buy it) he was able to produce something for me closer to my comfort level (price wise) and we have had a good relationship ever since.  Once I just plain met an artist and his story about his background and the about the painting just led me to buy it.

RULE NUMBER FOUR:  It’s Okay to be “Just looking.”

RULE NUMBER FIVE:  Some galleries carry new artists that are just getting started.  The have not fully matured yet but their work is very promising and much more affordable (or you just plain like it.)  That is why visiting galleries is valuable.  You get an idea of artists, prices, and what an individual gallery carries.  (Some are just always ridiculous.)

RULE NUMBER SIX:  Don’t invest in paintings like stocks and bonds.  You most likely will lose out.  Buy it because it is art and you like it.  And like wine, don’t say you like it just because somebody said you should.  (Be open to appreciating the work, but that is different than liking it.)  My mother had a secret love for wine others considered low brow.  But you know what, when she drank it she was happy.  Get the painting you want to live with.

RULE NUMBER SEVEN:  Don’t buy it because it’s “pretty.”  Ask yourself what it means to you.  How does it speak to you on a deeper level?  How does it make you feel?  Does it spark memories?  Does it resonate with something you believe in?  Is it “different?”  What does the artist, in your estimation, seem to be doing?  What was the artist’s technique?  Does that strike you as fascinating?  Do you hope that more of the type and subject of painting that you purchased will be produced?  Especially in this last point - if you don’t like it, don’t support it.

Determine as much about the painting as you can in your own mind before asking about it.  The gallery owner or the artists may have insights incredibly different than your own.  Once they tell you theirs, yours may be gone lost forever.  

RULE NUMBER EIGHT:  Walk away.  Buy it tomorrow.  See if it still calls to you after you leave.  This has worked tremendously with me.  Only one time did I ever look back and regret not buying a painting.  (20 years ago.)  It was in Hot Springs Arkansas.  Gosh!  I liked that painting and would like to have it to this day to share with others.  But . . . whatever.

RULE NUMBER NINE:  Have things in mind such as how large of a painting you can accommodate.  I made a fatal error once.  I have a painting too big to hang.  Something will done.  I have ideas.  But for now . . . hmmmmmm.

RULE NUMBER TEN:  Don’t be talked into something you don’t like.  The person doing the talking doesn’t have to live with it.  But DO spend some time with things and try to understand things that you don't like.  It can be fun and enlightening like eating your broccoli that later you discover you like.

RULE NUMBER ELEVEN:  Have fun.  Enjoy this.  If you are getting too tense walk away, shake it off, get a cup of coffee, and come back when you are in a better state of mind. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


When your parents told you, “You are not wearing THAT to (Mass, school, the party, court,) it wasn’t that they were trying to stifle your creativity or diminish your being, it was because they understood that our presence among other human beings is not all about you.  How you dress also says something about what you think about other people.  

So you go to a job interview.  I WILL GRANT YOU that the possible future boss should only see the interviewee for his talents and capabilities.  That, in a perfect world, if he came to the interview for a sales position in ratty sneakers, a concert T-shirt, and mussed hair it shouldn’t matter.  It is the person who matters.

But it does.  And the message cuts both ways.  In a perfect world, we would also all respect each other.

The message the person in this scenario is putting forth is “You and your job are really not all that important to me.  I may not be all that reliable and I may not respect you all that much.”  It is for similar reasons that a suspected murderer on trial is dressed up in the most conventional of clothing - a dress shirt, tie, and dress shoes.  It (attempts) to scream, “I respect these proceedings, I respect the judge and jury, I am taking this seriously, and see how respectable I look.”

It isn’t all about the person wearing the clothes, it is also about what that person is saying  about the people around him or her.

It is for similar reasons I am disappointed in Cam Newton.  I understand that he is extremely disappointed and heartbroken.  I understand his emotions perhaps got the best of him.  But if I was his Dad, we would be having a “Come to Jesus” talk.

“Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.”  Well, there is an obvious truth to his statement.  But show me a sore loser and I’ll show you someone who should be sent to bed without his supper.  Men have lost WARS AND NATIONS with more dignity than Mr. Newton.  This was a football game.  If we lose the idea that these men are there for than to play a game, if we give up on the idea that they are also there to set an example, to show us why we should be promoting sports in our schools and among our youth, if we throwout with increasingly greater ease the ideals of sportsmanship, gentlemanliness, honor, dignity, and care about “the other,” then stop the game.  It has gone on too long and we have forgotten why we started “playing” in the first place.  It isn’t all about the football players.  It is about those for whom they play too.

Compare that to this letter from the St. Ambrose basketball coach that describes an incident that happened with our seventh grade boy’s basketball team.

To the Players, Parents, Parish, and community of St. Sebastian,

Yesterday the St. Ambrose boys basketball team played your young men in a hard fought and well contested game. During the contest, one of St. Ambrose's players fell to the ground. ALL FIVE of your players walked to the aid of my player to help him up. Your young men lived the prayers recited before and after each game. By their example they taught my team and the entire gym how to "teach our faith to others by our actions".

These young men deserve to be commended for their strength and courage to "finish the race". Playing with only five players due to injury and illness, they competed to the very end. They played fair and strong through all four quarters. Again your team lived our prayer by "playing fair" and taking on the "challenge" of this game.

To your players and Coach, I want to thank you for teaching myself, my team, and my community the lessons we repeat before and after each game. With strong, courageous, and faithful young men on your team, I am positive the future is bright at St. Sebastian. Please thank your team, your parents, and your community for teaching our Catholic faith to these young men. You are all doing a great job as evidenced by them.

Craig Tobias
St. Ambrose 7th grade boys basketball

Compare that to one of Mr. Newton’s comments excusing his behavior: “If I offended anybody that’s cool, but I know who I am and I’m not abut to conform nor bend for anybody’s expectations because yours or anybody’s expectations would never exceed mine.”  That would be disappointingly unacceptable even for a 7th grade boy.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered."  G. K. Chesterton

QUOTE II:  "An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered."  same source

David Stavarz, a seminarian that many a Sebastianite would recognize as he has spent some quality time around the parish (though he is from the venerable parish of St. Francis de Sales,) wrote a great article for the Word on Fire blog.  Read it HERE.  I beehive the picture of him at the bottom of the article is from the bell tower at St. Sebastian.  Good work kid!

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to the newest member of our priestly community.  Below you will see a picture of Monsignor - not the enamored guy you see who has obviously fallen deeply in love but the black lab puppy in his lap.  Congratulations parish of St. Joseph!

Sharon sent this in - how to make a clarinet out of a carrot.  Cool, but I don't see me letting our school children do this.

Then there is this: the Super Bowl 50 Baby's choir.  I watched the Super Bowl with a bunch of priests so when the commercials come on we rate them not only for enjoyment level but to Catholic standards such as "Wow, that was pro-life" exemplified in the Doritos ultrasound commercial.  I had mixed feelings about this commercial however.  On the one had, yeah, we're celebrating the birth of all of these babies that were conceived during - well - a celebration.  But having kids singing about their parents . . . celebrating . . . is that just a TAD creepy?  Or am I just jealous because there has never been, nor does it seem there ever will be a Cleveland Super Bowl Baby?

Sunday, February 7, 2016


So my formerly known as DRE (Director of Religious Education) now know as my PCL (Parish Catechetical Leader) or Pickle and I went to a diocesan meeting.  At it, a representative from a diocesan office informed us that there were materials to take home to our parishes from the diocese and that it would save the diocese A LOT of money if we would just take them home with us instead of them having to mail them.  

The meeting went longer than we had anticipated so we needed to sneak quietly out.  At the back of the meeting room we loaded up our arms with the materials to be taken back to St. Sebastian.  They were right.  Mailing this stuff would have cost a small fortune.  It was awkward balancing everything on our walk out my car and it was only when we got close to my car that I realized I had made a tactical  error.
The only thing to do was to try to shift everything over to one arm and knee in order to dig into my pocket.
Of course.  Right?  Murphy's Law and all that?  So everything is shifted to the other knee.
So you get the ritual . . .

Two and half hours.  Says something for that neighborhood that nobody took an abandoned, unlocked, running car.  Or it says something about my car . . .

Friday, February 5, 2016


Okay, I lied.

This is one more week of Offertory.  Paragraph 77


The good news is that this is absolutely, positively the last post on it in this series.

Offertory concludes after everything in the previous posts has been completed and the following prayers are said.  The first one used to give me the willies.  It is introduced thusly:

“Pray brethren (brothers and sisters) that my sacrifice and yours may be may be acceptable to God the Almighty Father.”

To which everyone responds:

“May the Lord accept this sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of His Name, for our good, and the good of all His holy Church.”

Now, imagine that you are a young guy just ordained, the oils are still wet on your hands, you’ve arrived at your first assignment, the pastor pushes you out on the altar and says, “Go at it kid,” and you hear that prayer.  I remember distinctly when that happened to me.

The year was 1998 and I was assigned to St. Ambrose in Brunswick.  A couple of seminarians showed up to help me with my first Sunday Mass.  The first Mass on Sunday was music free and many people attended that Mass because of that.  I tried to make them sing an opening song which as an absolute disaster and apologized and promised I would never do that to them again.

St. Ambrose is one of the largest parishes in the diocese and the size of the building reflects this  so there were a lot of people of all ages at that Mass.  We got to the prayer above and I hear, “at your hands,” and “for our good,” and had a slight panic attack.  

Just because you are ordained doesn’t mean that you “get” being a priest yet.  I also remember walking past windows as a newly ordained and being surprised to see the Roman collar, or walking into a restaurant and wondering why so many people were looking at you.  “Oh right, I’m a priest.”  So when you first start hearing this prayer you want to shout out, “What are you people thinking?  Are you insane?  Why are you trusting me with this?  Last week I was just a guy from Barberton.”

Even today I don’t listen to that prayer too closely.  In the end, I know it is not ME.  It is the priesthood and Christ.  It is my job to be faithful and let God act.

Alright, most of that was NOT in this paragraph.

But one last thing is:  We have the prayer over the gifts: a petition that God accept our gifts and the work we are about to do.  This is where (once again) the vital role of the priesthood of the faithful comes into play.  By your “Amen” at the end of this prayer, you make its petition your own as part of your offering.  It is not an inconsequential word or a simple nicety.  It is an engagement of your ministry.  It is very much a responsibility.  By it, you are participating in the sacred action, making an offering of your life, prayers, and petitions, and promising to engage in the rest of the Mass and in the life of a Christian.

That “Amen” alone should cause you to pause in much the same way the “for our good” does for your priest.