Thursday, March 31, 2016



The dead spent the night at my place last night.  This is not unusual only for a very small group of people I would imagine.  For me it was quite unusual.

My over night guest was Fr. Ted.  I know his soul is on its journey and all that, but it still seemed kind of rude to leave his body on its own.  I was joking with the servers that we were going to sign up to keep vigil with Father all through the night and that they needed to sign up for an hour.  Their relief was palpable when they found out I was joking.

But, God bless them, some of the adults asked, “Should we?  I’d put in some time.”  I was sure, however, that he would be just fine.

I did go over and visit.  The church was locked and quiet and we could chat for a moment.  Some priest friends came over last night and we went to pray compline with Father Ted.  It was solemn and, at least I thought, kind of moving.  We even closed with Fr. Ted’s famous lines, “For protection at home, for protection at work, for protection in the car, and protection from the Blessed Virgin Mary!”  I don’t think he ever got the irony of that wording.

The funeral is today (11:00AM).  Unfortunately Father has been off of the radar screen for a spell and most of the people who would have been associated well with him have gone on before him.  There is a priest, Fr. Oleksiak, who has been doing a Yeoman’s job of taking care of him these last few years.  The Bishop will be here.  Despite the fear that there will be more ministers at the funeral than attendees, he will still come.  Father was, after all, a true son of the Bishop.

I love my parish.  There was no way to announce to anybody that Father had died and that there were services so we relied on work of mouth and they turned out yesterday for the vigil.  Most did not know him or know him well at all.  That is charity and a work of mercy.  How  proud I am to be their pastor.

I was afforded the privilege of preaching vespers yesterday.  I started off with this quote:

“Priests should look upon death as one of the last functions of the priesthood. It is their last Mass. 

This mortal body with which you were born at the incarnation was, for you, O Jesus, only the material of the sacrifice. 

This is what this mortal body should be for each of those who share your priesthood. They must make use of it, as you did, to preach the truth, to edify men. But the essential, sacerdotal use they must make of it is to die. … 

They should, then, prepare for it as they prepare to celebrate Mass, because the death of a priest is a Mass, united to your death and consummated in yours for the salvation of mankind.”

Fr. Gaston Courtois

Rest in peace Fr. Ted

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


Chris, a regular reader of Adam's Ale, suggested a reprint of a post that involved Fr. Swirski who is recently late of our company.  You can see him in the picture below, second from the left in the rear row.  God rest you brother!  And thank you for the idea Chris.

This post is from August, 27, 2012
There was a nice gathering at the St. Sebastian rectory a couple of Fridays ago.  My classmate is the pastor one parish away.  Fr. Pf, our parochial vicar, has a classmate that is my classmate’s parochial vicar.  We had a seminarian staying with us for a two week “rectory experience.”  His classmate was at my classmate’s parish too.  So they all came to St. Sebastian for dinner, along with one of their home grown seminarians, our two seminarians, and Fr. Swirski who is in residence at St. Sebastian (and of course, Sebastian.  If the rectory had blown up it would have been a serious blow to the percentage of clergy in Summit County.


After dinner, those who were brave enough climbed the bell tower.


Back to Fr. Swirski who helped round out the generations of those gathered.  He will not be in residence at St. Sebastian much longer though hopefully he will still be doing some of his ministry here.  It has been fascinating hearing his life story starting as an orphan in Poland, fighting in World War II, and befriending a young priest by the name of Karol Wojtyla who would later become Blessed John Paul II.  Unfortunately Fr. “Ted” is rarely any longer able to dredge up stories of his early years at will.  They can still come up naturally but often not when called upon.  Soon his stories may disappear.
If I piece together his narratives correctly, he first met the young Fr. Wojtyla as a new priest. Fr. Ted was traveling (in Poland) and needed a place to stay for the night.  Someone directed him to a nearby rectory.  It was late and the lights were dimmed.  He went to the back and knocked at the back door.  There he waited.  The door swung open and Fr. was greeted with pan full of water and suds being thrown on him.  The housekeeper had not heard his knocking, had been giving the pastor a shave, and had opened the door to throw the shaving water out into the dark!  Fr. Ted was drenched.  The pastor came out to see what all the brouhaha was about and the housekeeper said, “I just through water on this seminarian in the dark!”
“Not seminarian,” said Fr. Ted, “Already priest!”
At that he was invited in and introduced to a priest who would become the future pope who was the assistant there at the time.  “He was so kind with me as a new priest,” reports Father, “and he stayed up late talking to me and giving me encouragement.”


That was not the last Father would come across Fr. Wojtyla.  Fr. Ted, at a very young age, (the Church in Poland was trying to rebuild itself after the war) became pastor of a parish near a lake.  Apparently his fellow priests would come out to the lake to enjoy a couple of days of retreat from time to time.  Fr. Wojtiya being among them was apparently an expert swimmer and enjoyed many hours in that lake.  Fr. Ted often used sound effects to tell stories and would say, “He would dive in the water and go woo, woo, woo,” indicating, I think, that he swam like a fish, “and so we called him ADMIRAL!”
The rectory was small and they had to set up temporary beds.  Apparently the future John Paul was offered one of the remaining beds.  He, however, turned and asked, “Who is the oldest?”  When the oldest priest was presented JP said, “He shall have the bed!  I shall sleep on the floor!”
I guess they also used to call him Lolek, something well known, but according to Fr. Ted they also called him Stash for some reason I cannot seem divine from Father’s stories.  (Maybe someone can clarify.)  A new story came up this past week that we had not heard before.  “Stash” came to the United States for a visit (before he became pope) and visited Fr. Ted in Akron.  They went to our Cathedral church and Fr. Ted said, “See how many people go to Communion!”  And the future pope had a look of concern and said, “I hope that they are all prepared to go and make use of the sacrament of confession.”
It has been very interesting living with Fr. Ted these past three years.  Maybe this will help his stories live on a little longer.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "A priest must aim to fulfill the ideal of death, the death of a victim united with Jesus crucified. … Our whole life should be a preparatory exercise for the great act of our death, the act of our supreme sacrifice with Jesus.”  Fr. Jules Leo Grimal


Adam wants me to tell you the The Academy of Culture and Arts has a new Facebook Page and we want you to see it!  Go HERE.
Adam also sent in an article entitled, "Sacred Music and the Vocation of the Composer."  Read it HERE.

Tony Mastromatteo of St. Sebastian thought it might be awesome to highlight that the statue in the St. Sebastian school plaza is a resurrected Christ this Easter season by emphasizing the wounds in his hands.  If you come by while it is getting dark you will see lasers highlighting his wounds.  Interesting and thought provoking.  

The Reverend Thaddeus M. Swirski
1930 - 2016

The Rev. Thaddeus M. Swirski passed away on Easter Day.  Services for him will be held at St. Sebastian Parish, Akron.  

Vespers  3:00PM - Bishop Gries OSB celebrant
Calling Hours until 6:00PM
Mass of Christian Burial  11:00AM - Bishop Lennon celebrant

Father was the pastor of St. Hedwig - not a name you hear very often!  Here is some info on her:

Monday, March 28, 2016


The Rev. Thaddeus Swiski passed away on Easter Day after receiving the consolation of the sacraments.  Fr. Swirski is the retired pastor of St. Hedwigs and was in residence at St. Sebastian before moving to St. Edward retirement home.

Services will be at St. Sebastian

VESPERS:  Wednesday at 3:00PM
MASS: Thursday at 11:00AM

Please pray for the repose of his soul and for an increase in vocations.


The Holy Week celebrations here at St. Sebastian went well IMHO.  This was probably the least stressful Easter Vigil I have ever celebrated - probably about the 11th one of my priesthood at which I was the celebrant.  By and large we have this monster of a liturgy down to a well oiled machine but there are still details that need to ironed out.  One example is from an Email that came in Sunday morning:
"Dear Father,

The Easter Vigil was excellent.  Great homily too.  Only bit of advice: don't use a hot pink post it in the Missal and then light it up with a flashlight during the dark part of the liturgy.


Monday, March 21, 2016


I am heading into my Holy Week cave and focusing on the upcoming festivities so there may not be much coming out on Adam's Ale this week.

The Chrism Mass at our Cathedral of St. John in Cleveland, to which you are invited, is on Tuesday of Holy Week at 7PM.

Maundy Thursday Mass at St. Sebastian is at 7:00PM with adoration until 11:00PM
Good Friday there are Family Stations of the Cross at noon and Good Friday service at 3:00PM.
There will be Blessing of the Food at 1:00 on Holy Saturday.
The Easter Vigil will start promptly at 8:30PM
The Easter Masses are at 9:00AM, 11:00AM, and an Extraordinary Form Mass at 1:00PM.

God Bless!

Fr. V

Friday, March 18, 2016


The Church has produced some of the most beautiful music in the world, not the least of which are Mass settings.  I grew up singing these Masses in Latin (yes, post Vatican II.)  We sang them at Church.  We sang them in public school.  We sang them at the University of Akron.  I sang them with a choir at an Episcopal church for their services.  About the only place they are controversial is at a Catholic Mass.  Oh, the irony.

There is at least one part where I get the reason why.  The Sanctus (Holy, holy, holy) is not to be done by the choir in complicated polyphonic form (in Latin or English.)  This prayer is part of the Eucharistic prayer.  Paragraph 79, subsection b, states that this acclamation is that, “by which the whole congregation (joins) with the heavenly powers.”  This makes sense because the first line of the acclamation is the song the seraphim (angles) sang in Isaiah 6:2,3:

Seraphim were stationed above; each of them had six wings: with two they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they hovered.
One cried out to the other:  “Holy, holy, holy* is the LORD of hosts!  All the earth is filled with his glory!”
And Revelation 4:8
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty,
who was, and who is, and who is to come.”

The second half of the song comes (appropriately enough for this weekend) from the people’s acclamation at Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem.  “Hosanna!”

It is part of the Eucharistic prayer.  The paragraph reads that the people join with the priest in it.  What we should understand is that the community of priests join with the ordained priest in this proclamation.  If you do not sing or recite this this part of the Eucharistic prayer (I don’t care how bad your voice is) you are shirking your responsibility as surely as the ordained priest would be if he decided he didn’t want to say part of the Mass assigned to him.

Thursday, March 17, 2016


If you want to get Fr. Orndorff going (and it really doesn’t take much,) show him a picture of St. Joseph as an elderly man with grizzly beard and wrinkled face.  “That is not St. Joseph!” he is wont to declare in precise and slightly elevated tones.  Being the pastor of St. Joseph Parish I am inclined to give him some deference in the matter.  

Father does have some backing for his claim that St. Joseph was not an old man.  The earliest depictions of St. Joseph show him to be a strong, young man of about 25 years of age, what you might picture if you thought of a man in his youthful prime, ready for marriage, and who worked at a very physical job.  In fact, the first three centuries of the life of the Church depicted him this way.  Then, all of a sudden, in the fourth century, he became an octogenarian.  (The painting to the right hangs at this parish and was a very generous donation.)

Did he enter a time machine and seem only gone for a moment but returned having lived a full and happy life in another time?  No.  There was a heresy afoot at the time that attacked the perpetual virginity of Mary, which made the claim that Joseph was the physical father of Jesus.  Having tamped down that heresy, artists (blessed artists! - thank you for all that you do for the Church) started depicting St. Joseph as an 80 year old man suggesting that man of such advanced years would not become a Dad.

There are two problems with this.  The first that I hear confessions and I know that being 80 does not necessarily have anything to do with a decreased desire or ability to do certain things that one did when he was twenty-five.  Secondly, it is a greater story, a more touching story, a more extraordinary inspiration, a more fitting idea (especially to this celibate) that St. Joseph was a man like any other man, in his prime, and having the same strong desires that any other man in that position would have.  Why?  Because it is a far greater thing to overcome your temptations that to have them simply taken away.  And now more than ever, that is the example we need with this great saint.

After all, what makes us great men and women is not that God would take away our free will and therefor out temptations.  What merit is there in that?  Would be becoming comatose for the rest of our lives be more virtuous than moving about and possibly sinning?  No.  What makes us great is, like St. Joseph, we become stronger than our temptations.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "I lost my seven best friends, which is to say, God has had mercy on me seven times without realizing it.  He lent me a friendship, took it from me, sent me another."  Jean Cocteau


The Diocesan website seems to be improved.  Check it out HERE.

Also, the diocese is no longer printing the diocesan directory.  It is now on line (and much more accessible.)  Check it out HERE.  

I don't think that I've been very good about offering proper lenten fair.  So why stop now?  Here is a seven and a half video about Catholicism by Stephen Colbert.  If you are easily offended you might not want to listen to this.

Sunday, March 13, 2016


In my defense, I have never been a witness to a burglary before.  It is nothing like the movies.  There's no drama, no threatening music, no creepy lighting, and it is a lot quicker.  So it was that it took me a long time to register what was happening.

Every Wednesday Fr. B and I get together for breakfast.  We jockey back and forth between two restaurants though why we do so I don't know - both of us clearly like the restaurant of this story more; the coffee cups never run dry, the service is fantastic, the food good, and the price just right for this cheap Slovenian.  (And they don't mind that we sip our coffee for about an hour as we catch up on important diocesan gossip.)

So there we were when this guy walks in and looks as though he is reading something on the cashier counter.  But something is just a bit off about the whole thing.
And we were!  We were being burgled and I was so stunned I couldn't even talk.  This only has happened to me two previous times.  Once was when I met Pope John Paul II and all I could do is mumble in tongues.  The other time was when my Mom and I ran into a black bear in the mountains of New York.  All I could do was point at it (with a camera IN MY HAND) and say, "Ba . . ba . . . ba"

It was fortunate for the cause of Justice, Truth, and Right that somebody yelled, "Hey!"  It was then that the most amazing thing happened.  You know how in super hero comics, people who are otherwise mild mannered citizens suddenly turn into phantasmagorical crime fighters?  It is not fake.  These things really happen.  One moment our waitresses, our sweet, kind, efficient waitresses are walking about taking orders, filling coffee cups, and clearing plates, the next millisecond they form a team that makes Charlie's Angels look like an elementary school cheerleading squad.

"Let's get 'em girls!" the leader shouted and the next thing you know coffee cups and order pads fall to the ground and every last waitress shot for the door and chased the burglar down the street. 
And they caught him, pinned him to the ground, retrieved the money, and kept him subdued until the police came.  When it was all over, the waitresses returned but you could tell they were still high on adrenaline.  It would have been a great day to paint the restaurant they had so much energy.  They came back in - No!  They swooped back in, patting each other on the back, cleaned up the mess, and started taking care of the patrons quickly and IN VERY LOUD VOICES.  


It was all quite exciting.  Of course I couldn't wait to tell someone.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Friday, March 11, 2016


Here is where the “General Instruction of the Roman Missal” gets its “general.”  Surprisingly, after saying that this is the center and highpoint of the liturgy (the source and summit of our lives,) it becomes rather vague and, well, general.  It becomes more descriptive than directive for a spell.  I guess the specific instructions, the rubrics, are simply left for later in the Missal.

That is not to say this is not a long paragraph (79),  It’s longer with lots of sub-sections and even though the subsections are short, we will only be taking one a week.

The main elements of the Eucharistic prayer can be distinguished one from the other in the following ways (A - H)  Today’s subparagraph: A  (Ohhh!  I can sense the excitement!)

A) The first element is that of Thanksgiving.  (Bet you saw that coming.)  This makes incredible sense considering the etymology of the word Eucharist.  According to the Online Etymology Dictionary:

”sacrament of the Lord's Supper, the Communion," mid-14c., from Old French eucariste, from Late Latin eucharistia, from Greek eukharistia "thanksgiving, gratitude," later "the Lord's Supper," from eukharistos "grateful," from eu "well" (see eu-) + stem of kharizesthai "show favor," from kharis "favor, grace," from PIE root *gher- (5) "to like, want" (see hortatory). Eukharisteo is the usual verb for "to thank, to be thankful" in the Septuagint and Greek New Testament.

Too much?

The main place that the sense of thanks can be found is in the preface.  The preface is right after the prayer over the gifts.  After a “call and exchange” with the congregation, (The Lord be with you - and with your spirit, etc.) the priest goes on to direct the Father on behalf of the community, expressing our knowledge that it is “truly right and just, our duty and our salvation always and everywhere to give You thanks Lord Holy Father, Almighty and Eternal God.”

It is a theme that picks up now and then depending on the Eucharistic prayer such as, “. . . giving thanks that you have held us worthy to be in your presence and serve you.” from Eucharistic Prayer II.

You know, giving thanks is not something that comes naturally to us human beings.  It is usually instilled in us by thoughtful parents and at times seems like torture.  “Just a minute young man . . . what do you say????”

“Ugh!  Thank you Mrs. McGillicutty.”

It comes to serve us well in life.  Firstly it helps us appreciate who and what we have, knowing that it doesn’t have to be.  Secondly it lets others know that they are appreciated and promotes the best in them.  In the case of Mass, the giving of thanks is wholly for our benefit to make us  better people.  It is “right,” because what we have is purely gift and we are indebted to God.  It is “just” to give what we can to God for His abundant graciousness to us.  It is our “duty” because - well, if you don’t know ask your Mom.  And it is our “salvation.”  Being truly thankful turns our eyes toward the One on Whom we are utterly dependent.  When we realize this, we long to be with Him and conform ourselves every more to Him.

Thursday, March 10, 2016


Here is something that I love about Scripture.  You can study it, pray it, go to lectures on it over and over and over, and STILL somebody can point out something that you never saw before.  The passages are compact but the are powerhouses of meaning for the attentive and persistent.  

So I had one of those moments with a passage that I thought I knew cold this last Tuesday and one of my priestly friends pointed out something I had never noticed.  Here is the passage from Matthew 8:5-10.

When he entered Capernaum,* a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” 

He said to him, “I will come and cure him.” 

The centurion said in reply,* “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”  

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel* have I found such faith.

Here is the New to Me thing:  Notice (what is essentially) the prayer (ore request) of the centurion.  He presents the problem to Jesus:  “My servant is paralyzed, suffering greatly.”  He doesn’t say anything else.  Jesus is the One Who seems to gather Himself up to go do what seems to be expected of Him.  It is like someone coming to the rectory and saying, “My (insert relationship here) is sick.,” to which I would reply, “Hold on, let me get my oils and I’ll be with you.”

But the guy never says that he wants Jesus to go with Him.  He never says that he wants the guy to be healed.  In fact, he makes no blatant request of Jesus at all.  He simply presents Jesus with the problem and lets Him handle it the way He wants to.  It is of the centurion that Jesus says, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.”

I have written before about the dangers of using the word “that” in the petitions at Mass.  As soon as you put the word “that” in, God must jump through a hoop.  For example, “We pray for our political leaders THAT they may lead us in security and peace.”  What if the best thing in the world to happen is that they get thrown out by the collar of their Armani suits and replaced with better leaders?  Did God then not listen to our prayers?  Can we say that God isn’t acting among us?  While we were busy watching the hoop we expected Him to jump through, He may have been working miracles.

May I suggest the centurion’s prayer for your petition prayer.  Present the need or worry to God and let Him work is magic - er - miracle (you know what I mean.)  Don’t create a hoop through which He must jump.  Be open to surprise.  Maybe what you think needs to change doesn’t or doesn’t in the fashion you think that it should.  Maybe it is you that needs changed.  Who knows?  

So present the problem to the Lord.  Let Him deal with it.  He’s the expert after all.  That’s why He’s God.  It’s His job.  Perhaps just further ask for the wisdom and understanding to realize the outcome of the prayer.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


Before you declare, “Nyope,  Not me.  This is ridiculous.” let me make my case.  If, at the end, you still don’t agree with me, you’ll still be wrong, but at least you read to the end.

Your life is amazing.  It is not supposed to be exciting all the time.  In fact, it is rarely exciting except to the most attentive and, for the others for whom it actually is, . . . well . . . they are just odd.  They are the exception that proves the rule.

You are living a fairy tale.  An incredible story is playing out in the living of your life.  The problem (if you are not buying this) is that you are used to it.  Somewhere (I forget where) Pope Benedict talked about how terrible it is to grow accustomed to the miraculous.  But we do.  Jesus Christ suffered and died for you, opened up paradise, made you a child of God, and gives Himself to you, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist!  And we yawn and say, “Yeah.  I know.  What’s on T.V. tonight?”

In his essay, “Baby Worship,” Chesterton writes, “The supreme adventure is being born.  There we do walk suddenly into a splendid startling trap.  There we do see something of which we have not dreamed before.  Our father and mother do lie in wait for us, like brigands from a bush.  Our uncle is a surprise.  Our aunt is, in the beautiful common expression, a bolt from the blue.  When we step into the family, b the act of being born, we do step into a world which is incalculable, into a world which had its own strange laws, into a world which could do without us not a world that we have not made.  In other words, when we step into a family, we step into a fairy-tale.”

“Perhaps I’ll grant you that,” you might think.  “But after that?  Blah!”


Think of your average fairy tale or movie.  One distills to a short book or two hours out of a life time to make it interesting.  As for drudgery, as beautiful as the story of Cinderella is, she spent A LOT of time in mourning for her parents, being treated as slave labor, and having no means of hope.  The people in Frozen spend most of their lives being miserable.  “Inside Out,” “Bring Him Home,” “Bridge of Spies,” “Revenant” all have incredible amounts of boring, monotonous, what seems to be life wasting time glossed over or slashed out entirely to present a movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

During the parts that were exciting, the people that lived them did not necessarily like it, think it special, or want it.  Those who were in trouble wanted to sit on the porch and drink lemonade.  Those trapped at home dream of flying to Mars.  Those with curly hair want straight hair and those with no hair would be happy with chia pet hair.  The point is, there needs to be tension and or loss in this life for the greatness to make itself truly felt and not lost among the mundane. 

Often in these stories, the realization that they were in a great story line was not until it was over and somebody points it out to them.  Sometimes it takes an outsider to say, “Wow!  What a life!”

St. Francis spent A LOT of time in angst, worry, and controversy.  So did Blessed Mother Theresa.  Outsiders say, “Wow, what a life!  I wish I could have that excitement or peace.”  We review their lives as they do us and think, “What an adventure.  What a unique and exciting life compared to boring old me.”

Stop it.

Even if you don’t see a payoff coming (which would ruin it anyway) know that your heavenly Father has something tremendous waiting for you who loved Him in this life.  “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it so much as dawned on man” what God has waiting.  It will blow whatever expectations you have out of the water and make it all worth it.

Here is my challenge to you today.  See your life anew.  When you look outside, SEE the tree that you don’t notice anymore because it is always there.  It is different today than it was yesterday.  Appreciate today the place where you live.  No, it is not ideal.  But you have much for which to be grateful.  It is home base for your fair tale.  It will loom large in the telling of your story some day (even if it is just to God.  But I doubt it.)  Put on your least favorite clothes, go to your least favorite room, look at the least favorite thing in the room, see it, recognize it, and challenge it to play a role in your fairy tale.  Then let it sit and stew and worry about it and you go live.

And decide to be happy.  When you are bored, remember a time you were so crazy that you wish you had more time to be bored.  When you are crazy busy, remember the time you were bored and wish you had something to do.  

And pray.  

Tuesday, March 8, 2016


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "The most unfathomable schools and sages have never attained to the gravity which dwells in the eyes of a baby of three months old.  It is the gravity of astonishments at the universe, and astonishment at the universe is not mysticism, but a transcendent common-sense.  The fascination of children lies in this: that with each of them all things are remade, and the universe is put again upon its trial.  As we walk the streets and see below us those delightful bulbous heads, three times too big for the body, which mark these human mushrooms, we ought always primarily to remember that within every one of these heads there is a new universe, as new as it was on the seventh day of creation  In each of those orbs there is a new system of stars, new grass, new cities, a new sea."  from G. K. Chesterton's "Baby Worship"  

QUOTE II:  "When you're thirty, when you're fifty, when you're eighty, you are not going to remember five talks that changes your life.  But you'll remember five people that did and the way that they loved you."  Mark Hart from the video below.


The following is a 50 minute video on how to be a Catholic/Christian leader.

Monday, March 7, 2016


This is not the usual fair for Monday Diary.  It is a little more serious.  But it is a story I want to tell.  

We have had a gentleman visiting us at the parish recently.  He is obviously not Catholic, not interested in being Catholic, but likes to have a warm dry place to hang out for a little while during services.  He is completely harmless but can be scary at times because he likes to pray.  Loudly.  As he walks through the pews.

This usually happens during confessions and one or the other of us has to go out and say to him, "You can stay here, but there are prayers going on in those rooms so you must be quiet when you pray."

This past week he has taken to locking himself in the bathroom.  For hours.  I have to coax him out because if he stays there all night, the motion detectors in the church will go off and then all get out breaks loose with alarms, police, the dog, and a couple of hours of lost sleep.
On Sunday, there was a concert in the church and sure enough, our visitor was there and decided to take up domicile in the bathroom again.  Fortunately it was a small crowd and we could do with one less bathroom.  

After the concert, as I was locking up, I knocked on the door and told him that he needed to get out of the bathroom now.  He refused.  "I'm giving you five more minutes and then I am unlocking the door."

Thank goodness for wire coat hangers.

So we were able to come to agreement that he needed to leave the building and I left to take Sebastian on a walk.

MEANWHILE:  Fr. Pfeiffer was visiting (taking a nap whilst I aired out the dog) and while I was walking I remembered that my phone was off because I was at the concert.  Turning it on, I found this message from Fr. Pfeiffer.

Fr. Pfeiffer, hearing the rectory bell ring over and over and over figured that I had forgotten my key (again) and came down to let me and Sebastian in.  Surprises of surprises, it was my friend from the bathroom wanting to know if we could call the police for him for them to take him somewhere.

This Fr. Pfeiffer did and so we waited with the man in the rectory until the police came.  This was the second time he had asked us to call the police so this was the second time that I had contact with the police concerning this man who was obviously confused and struggling.

We have been hearing a lot in the news recently of police not interacting well with non-typical citizenry.  Law suits abound and salacious headlines scream about the inadequacy of our police force.  Sometimes it is deserved.  Other times I think that we expect way too much - that a police officer should be familiar with every culture, all diseases, all psychological problems, all situations, and always get it right.

But I want to tell you about the two times the police came out to deal with our visitor to St. Sebastian.  I did expect them to come out and be a little stern, to be a bit authoritarian, and somewhat directive.  But both times (with different police officers each time) they treated this man who was dirty, smelly, and confused with the utmost respect and dignity - how I would hope to be treated if I were in this man's shoes.  They treated him even better than I did trying to get him out of the bathroom.  Both times they took charge of the situation and did their best to find a solution to his problems.  I was impressed and humbled by their Christian example of treating the least of our brothers.

God bless you Akron police.

Friday, March 4, 2016


GIRM paragraph 77 cont.

So . . . 

The GIRM is so, so, so carefully worded.  There is no punctuation, no comma, no part of a comma that has not been carefully thought out.  But I have a little - “problem” would be too big of word for it - maybe just “question” with the end of this paragraph.

Concerning the entering into the Eucharistic prayer it says, “The Eucharistic Prayer requires that everybody listens to it with reverence and in silence.”

I get the silence (save for the crying babies who are our future kindergarten class.  If they aren’t crying, you are dying.)  Music shouldn’t be playing, conversation shouldn’t be going on, other prayers should not be taking place, our focus is on this most august of prayers.  Okay.

I also get the “listen” part even though it is NOT the congregation that is being addressed.  It is the Father to Whom we are speaking.  (This is made a little confusing by the priest facing the people and saying, “Take this all of you,” which, at that point, is still being addressed to the Father, not the congregation.  The priest is speaking on behalf of all to the Father like Moses leading the people through the wilderness.  The way we do it seems like a docent walking backwards and saying, “we’re walking, we’re walking.”  See first 30 seconds of movie clip.  Sorry for the commercial.)

So, while the directives may be true, do not think that the laity are passive participants in the Eucharistic Liturgy.  Remember we just finished praying, “My sacrifice and yours.”  Pope Benedict, God rest him, pointed out that the role of the priesthood of the people is a very important one.  That is why we may not take on more than one ministry at the Mass.  A person cannot (or should not) be lector AND extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, for example.  It takes the person too far away from the more important role of prayer.  Those who perform these ministries are not doing MORE, they are being taken away from their primary duty to perform a task on behalf of the community.  So they are limited on taking more than a fair share of BURDEN.

The reason we are quiet and listening is to take part in the Eucharistic prayer.  We are to PRAY it.  It is not prayed AT you or in spite of you, it is something into which you are to enter, to make your own, and offer that Father.  You are not there to receive, you are there to WORK.  Otherwise, why not just let the priest pre-sanctify everything and just show up for the readings, homily, and Communion service?