1st: Today is Sts. Cosmos and Damian Day! The day on which I was baptized! Woohoo!
2nd: Consider taking a peek at the GoFundMe page for the new Catholic school in Akron for children with learning challenges: https://www.gofundme.com/jbakron or CLICK HERE.
3rd: Sebastian and I are leaving on vacation starting TODAY! There probably will not be any posts owing to an expected wifi shortage but we shall see.
Monday, September 26, 2016
Friday, September 23, 2016
FRIDAY POTPOURRI: THE ALMOST FORGOTTEN MINISTRY
Before becoming a priest or permanent deacon, a man must become an installed acolyte and an installed lector. As a matter of fact, two seminarians who are associated with St. Sebastian, Mike Petkosik and Brian Petro are being installed as lectors this evening. Please say a prayer for them. Congratulations guys!
One thing that they make perfectly clear every year: this is not a step to the priesthood (though one must be installed as both an acolyte and lector before being ordained.) But a layman may also share in these ministries if they are installed as such by the bishop. This is different than being an alter server or a reader (open to just about any Catholic) at the Mass and involves greater responsibilities.
Interestingly enough, these two ministries are reserved for men. And just like the case is that when a priest is concelebrating the Mass that he, as an ordinary minister of Holy Communion is to fulfill that role before and extraordinary ministry of Holy Communion, if an installed acolyte or lector is at the Mass, he should really fulfill that ministry before someone who has not been installed by the bishop.
Besides those preparing for holy orders, I do not believe we have any further installed lay persons in the diocese. At one time, the cathedral had only installed acolytes serving but they were disbanded in favor of expanding service at the altar to a broader number of people. I would guess this would have happened about 25 years ago or so.
I do remember when John Paul II (now saint) allowed female altar servers. It was intended for mission countries where the lack of boys (because they were working in the fields or whatnot) were not available. As per usual, the United States picked up on it and ran with it and today it is far more common to have female servers than not. If one reads the decree, it did say that where it is possible to retain the tradition of having all boys, it should be retained. I think this was the incident that cause Mother Angelica to have her order return to the full habit.
Aren’t we an interesting bunch?
It’s difficult enough running a parish. I can’t imagine being responsible for the Church. Every little thing you say, do, or decree not matter how well intentioned falls on deaf ears in some circles, causes undo rejoicing in others and major distress and anger in still others with unforeseen consequences. Good thing it is the Holy Spirit at the helm.
Thursday, September 22, 2016
EVERYBODY WEARS A HABIT OF SOME KIND
I was reading a fictional book the other day and it concerned a notorious criminal who went about in disguise. In one location, the book said, he went about dressed as a Catholic priest. This part of the book did not ring true to me and here is why:
When I go about town in my collar, people wave, say hello, and in general notice that a priest is in their midst. I can take the same path 10 minutes later, be around people I know, and they don’t so much as smile at me. I might wave and they will shyly raise their hand until it dawns on them who I am.
“Oh Father! I didn’t know it was you! Are you incognito?” And these are people who stare at my face every Sunday. Nobody notices me - at least not at first, they notice the collar. So for a criminal to go “unnoticed” by wearing a Roman collar just seems unrealistic to me.
It is why I am such a proponent for wearing religious garb in public.
EVERYBODY wears a habit. If you want proof, go to a Rubber Ducks or any professional sports game and see how many habits you will come across. You know who the hipsters are, you know who corporate America is, you know the Goths (are they still around?), you know who supports you team and you know who supports the competition.
I understand that we want to blend in so that we are not “put apart from” the rest of the world. I get that thought. But gone too far to an extreme we blend in so well that we disappear.
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
ADVICE FOR SINGLES WHO DON'T WANT TO BE
“Let’s go for walk.”
“No,” she responds.
He looks oddly nervous. “Come on! It will be nice.”
But she stands her ground. “It looks like rain.”
“It won’t rain. I promise.” But yep, he thinks to himself, it does look a little like rain.
“I don’t want to go for a walk.”
A trickle of sweat runs down his back. “Please. I really, really want to go for a walk.”
She looks at him. Why is he acting so strangely? But now its a contest of wills. “I told you, I don’t want to go for a walk. You go for a walk.”
“No,” he say a little too emphatically and then tries more smoothly, “I really want to go for a walk with you. Now.” His eyes loose focus for a moment as his mind drifts to the very expensive ring he has buried in the sand.
One of my favorite parts of wedding preparations is getting to know the couple as a couple. As part of that I ask how the engagement took place. (This is oddly telling and the stories are great no matter how elaborate or simple the story.) But after about 18 years of hearing these stories, I have a couple bits of advice for a couple that is hoping to be engaged:
Guys: 30% of the time the lady in these stories almost ruin everything because they don’t want to do the activity that you have picked out. So many times I have heard, “And it almost didn’t work out because she started resisting this very carefully thought out scenario I had planned out.” They laugh about it in my office but at the time they guy is one heart heart palpitation away from needing medical assistance.
Ladies: If you think a proposal is in the near offing and your man starts acting strangely, consider going with it. Here are some telltale signs: Becoming unusually chatty. Unusually concerned about time (which in his mind is timing.) He keeps feeling for something in his pocket to make sure its there. He is oddly insistent on doing something semi-romantic that you don’t want to do. He might be overdressed. He recently had time alone with your parents. He seems distracted and slightly sweaty. He may all of a sudden pull something like, “Let’s just go to the (pick unusual or meaningful place) before we go to the . . .” or “Let’s just stop at this spot for a moment,” while just a moment ago he was all concerned about arriving on time.
There are three possibilities going here. You are about to be proposed to, he is just a hopeless romantic in general (a good thing to know,) or he wants to steal you purse. Please be discerning.
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CCCLXII
FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: "He who is swift to believe is swift to forget." from Abraham Joshuaeschel's, "God in Search of Man."
QUOTE II: "God is of no importance unless He is of supreme importance." same source.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Cindy sent THIS SITE concerning the First Written Melody know to man.
Mary sent this interesting video in:
Here is our next installment:
Sunday, September 18, 2016
MONDAY DIARY: ALMOST EXCRUCIATINGLY TRUES STORIES: WELCOME FR. THOMAS
When I draw someone on Monday Diary, it may not look the person at all. It has to do more with my impression of someone. Fr. Pfeiffer was pointing this out one day . . .
And by golly, I looked at him and realized that he really DIDN'T have blonde hair. Nobody was more surprised than me. But my impression of his is that he is a blonde and so I draw him as such.
So the other day I was at a gathering of priests at which Fr. Louis Thomas from St Francis de Sales was present. He said that he looked forward to the day that he would be drawn on Monday Diary but added, "I bet you can't draw me without being at least mildly offensive to somebody."
Today I take him up on his challenge in invite him on board to the Adam's Ale Monday Diary Calvacade of Characters!
Fr. Thomas is a great guy, terrible card player, and has a twin brother that I have mistaken for him on a number of occasions.
But it must be remembered that I do not draw people as they appear in everyday life. It is something about them that sticks out in my mind - some significant tidbit that forms the whole character much of which is completely fabricated.
The thing that really sticks out to me about Fr. Thomas is that he rides a motorcycle and so I think that I will probably end up drawing you . . .
Posted by Fr. V at 4:36:00 PM 10 comments:
Friday, September 16, 2016
FRIDAY POTPOURRI: IN GLADNESS YOU SAY?
So this morning I come downstairs to see that the water reservoir in the coffee machine is almost empty. I’m tempted to walk away and let the next guy deal with it like whoever it is that leaves half a paper towel on the roll and on quarter of a pat of butter on the butter dish. But I swallow whatever it is that I’m feeling and do it.
It just makes life easier.
Don’t you wish people just pitched in and did stuff?
Take the laundry upstairs.
Change the toilet paper.
Empty the dishwasher.
Take the gifts up at Mass.
Yes, your ushers wish that when they ask a couple of people to take up the gifts at offertory that they said, “Yes. Sure! Anything to help out around here.”
But often, such is not the case. Actually I understand. It’s difficult to stand up in front of people. And for some people it is stressful to pay attention and hope you’ll know when and how to do things. But please consider being more open to the idea of stepping up.
In paragraph 97 of the GIRM it says, “The faithful, moreover, should not refuse to serve the People of God in gladness whenever they are asked to perform a particular service or function in the celebration.” So if there is help needed taking up the collection, the reader didn’t make it, or they are short a server and you receive a tap on the shoulder, remember that this serves as a great act of charity for the community and consider putting on a strained smile and in gladness saying, “Of course,” even as your brain screams, “Nooooooooooooo!”
Thursday, September 15, 2016
TO THE GUY THAT CUT ME OFF ON THE HIGHWAY YESTERDAY
There, now that that’s off my chest we can begin . . .
When someone is rude, when someone’s driving skills are not up to your standards, when someone seems incompetent, when someone makes you wait DOES THAT NOT MAKE YOU ANGRY? And boy does it feel GOOD to mutter a curse under your breath.
Or in a low, dangerous, gravely voice say, “I’m going to pray a rosary against you.”
(That was completely a joke btw.)
It is, however, a bit like peeing in your own well. Like fish that have to swim in the pond in which they relieve themselves, we have to continue to live in this world with seemingly rude, slow, incompetent people. (I say seemingly because they are equally as mad at you for being stuck up, pushy, and over critical.) So why not say a prayer for the person instead of cursing them and making them worse human beings? The best thing that could happen is they (or you) change and that there will no longer be a need to be angry and cursing. The worst thing that can happen is that you had a moment of prayer instead of displaying the contours of one of your strikingly good-looking fingers.
It is easy to pray for people we like and who do things we enjoy and I am sure that there is benefit for prayers for them. But do they need it as much as someone who ticks people off? Perhaps the person who needs it the most is the person who least deserves it. The fact that his actions are not inspiring love is a sign that he is in need of love.
Even if he does drive like a jerk.
Wednesday, September 14, 2016
JUST HOLD ON ONE SECOND
Years ago some seminaries used to teach seminarians how to smoke. It was for a very good reason. It slowed conversation down and gave the man time to think. As something important is being laid out by a spiritual directee he would prepare a pipe. When the person asked a question (and not always do immediate answers come to mind) he might say, “Let’s see,” as he takes the first couple of puffs on his pipe to get the tobacco going before he opened his mouth to say something. This was valuable thinking and processing time. Now that time is gone and filled with chatter or awkward silences.
Instant gratification isn’t always a good thing. (In fact, it seems it is more often not that case than is.) I had to open a Facebook account in order to start a Go Fund Me page for our new school and have discovered a whole new world of ways people can get in touch with me. Shwew! This is just on top of all the other ways people can get in touch with you no matter where you are . . . in a car . . . in the golf course . . . in the middle of Mass . . .
The temptation is to read (or listen) and respond immediately. Thinking time is drastically reduced. Yes, I am old enough to remember when snail mail was the only means to get a written text to someone. If you had to write something to someone on an unpleasant topic, you had to gather your writing materials, write - perhaps redraft - maybe have to go buy a stamp - walk to the postbox - hold the letter in the mouth of the box thinking, “Should I or shouldn’t I? Last chance,” before dropping it in. All this was thinking time. (Sometimes it was stewing time.)
I know, everybody wants an answer right now. But it might be wise to not to hit the send button right away. Think about it. Maybe overnight. Say a prayer about it. Ask for guidance. Read it again in the morning.
It’s better for you than taking up smoking.
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CCCLXI
FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: "God doesn't ask you to be perfect, He asks you to go to Mass." someone at parish council
QUOTE II: "All the infants making noise is like the creaking of a ship: It's part of the deal. Get over it." Close to what someone said at parish council.
IN OTHER NEWS:
See you you can give me a hand! I am trying to raise funds to open a school for children with learning challenges called the St. Julie Billiart School at St. Sebastian, Akron. One of my goals is to try to raise funds for this school (which should serve a few counties) from outside the immediate area. To help do this I've started a Go Fund Me site. Would you mind terribly posting it on your social media? (If you live in the area, you can donate directly to the school. Make checks payable either to St. Sebastian with a notation in the memo line for the SJBSS school or you may make it out directly to The St. Julie Billiart School, Akron.
Here is the link: https://www.gofundme.com/jbakron
I like it because it looks like Bacon!
Or here is the site directly: HERE
Man! They ask you to start a Facebook page in order to have a fund drive. What a world altering thing THAT is!
Fr. T. B. sent THIS in: Tolken and Lewis texting.
Here is our next lesson:
Friday, September 9, 2016
FRIDAY POTPOURRI: HEAD, SHOULDERS, KNEES AND TOES, KNEES AND TOES.
Once, when I was a kid, we were at some sort of Mass that was not in a church building (probably some polka Mass at some festival or something) so of course there were no kneelers. When it came time to kneel and nobody did my Aunt Milly said something like, “By God, I don’t care if nobody else is kneeling! I am going to kneel before my God!” And she did so.
There is some confusion in our diocese from parish to parish when it comes to kneeling. There is universal law. There are exemptions for the United States of America. There were changes, which an ordinary has a right to do, that changed what we did in the Diocese of Cleveland. There were the pastors that were not interested in going along with the (previous) bishop and those who were not. Then there was a decree sent out by (now) St. John Paul II that, at a certain part of the Mass, we could make up our own mind concerning our posture.
Some people like this. Some people HATE this. (I will be offering a class on gestures at Forest Lodges on the 15th of September at 7:00PM to explore these mysterious things.) In today’s paragraph (96) it further refines what it means not to have certain personages “standing out” at the Mass - the mystery is pushed deeper. We are, in fact, to become One Body in the listening of the readings, participating in the prayers and singing, and in the participation at the Lord’s table.
Then it says, “This unity is beautifully apparent from the gestures and bodily postures observed together by the faithful.” If it is a sign of our unity, it is at least understandable why people get upset when someone decides to be a lone wolf and stand when others kneel or sit when others are standing.
There is SOME room for individual expression here, but not a lot - that is not what the Mass is about. If you are going to buck a tradition, make sure your choice is legitimately available. If you are too feeble to kneel or stand, of course people are going to understand. If the setting makes kneeling impossible (such as squished lack of space), then of course you don’t have to kneel. But one’s choice should never be to make a point to everybody else. Hold a sign in the parking lot after Mass if there is a theological injustice you think is going on (and be ready to be confronted) but not at the Mass. This is a place to become one body.
Thursday, September 8, 2016
THE AWESOMENESS THAT IS YOU
What are the odds that you would be reading this blog today?
Nobody would ever stake a bet on it.
The fact that you “are” is in and of itself astronomically breathtaking.
From the very dawn of creation, all the way back to Adam and Eve, only one small fact had to change and you wouldn’t be here.
Someone 3,000 year ago one person in your family line could have been trampled by an elephant and you would not have been born. Or some rascal in your family tree could have been thrown into jail in the 5th century for drunk and disorderly conduct for just one special night causing someone in your family not to be born and you would not be reading this. Effective contraception might have been invented in the 11th century and used just on one night and your whole family line could have been forever just a theory.
Someone could have turned left instead of right, been delayed just a little longer, had a cold, been selfish, been angry, been in an accident, misunderstood something, not risked, WHATEVER - in thousands of years, just one of these minor things could have happened and you would not be. Depending on how far back one of these things might have occurred, much of the planet could have been people by entirely different family lines.
But you made it. Why you? Who knows? Just be thankful and glad.
That is why we celebrate today the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She, of course, had to come first before Jesus could be born. We thank God for the gift of her and her parents, Joachim and Ann. How blessed we are! Because of this blessed event we have Jesus, we have our faith, we have a Church, we have St. Sebastian, and I have the incredible gift which is you reading this blog.
Tuesday, September 6, 2016
TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CCCLX
FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: "The sin of the century is the loss of the sense of sin." Pope Pius XII
QUOTE II: "Part of needing salvation is not knowing that you need salvation." Fr. Bendar
IN OTHER NEWS:
St. Sebastian 40 Hours of Devotion begins this Sunday morning and continues until Tuesday night with closing ceremonies at 7:00PM. Please come join us!
A seminarian from Texas, Christopher Yeager, was visiting yesterday and we ventured to the "new church" to find a way to the bell tower. It was equally as confusing to find the way up as it is at St. Sebastian but the view was spectacular.
PCV sent in THIS article about the Diocese of Lincoln's Sacred Music Clinic.
The Problem of Evil is video 13:
Friday, September 2, 2016
FRIDAY POTPOURRI: YOU ARE SPECIAL JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE
The place may be new to you but you are not a guest.
You may have just won an Olympic medal, but you should put it in your pocket.
Finishing the paragraph we started last week in the GIRM (95) it says we should, “consequently avoid any appearance of singularity or division.” It is a level playing field during the time of the Mass. All sons and daughters, alike in status before their Heavenly Father, we are united as equals at the Mass.
Imagine that you are a famous movie star. It is difficult for you to even leave your house without paparazzi crowding around you and snapping your picture. Unless you go to some exclusive restaurant trying to hang out with your friends at the local food joint is impossible because even the wait staff wants your autograph.
But it shouldn’t be like that at Mass. The priest should not say something like, “And guess who we have here with us today!” Ideally, at the Mass, we are just part of the family.
Once in a blue moon, we do have someone relatively famous show up at Mass at St. Sebastian. Two times ago it was at a Mass celebrated by Father Pfeiffer. The altar servers knew there was a famous comedian in the church but Father advised them not to make a fuss. Even after Mass he instructed them to be calm and respectful and not to harass the poor guy but to just to go up and say hello.
It is also why, outside of ritual Masses, special blessings are forbidden at Mass other than the ones that are prescribed. The ones that are prescribed such as for significant wedding anniversaries, installations of EMHC, and the like are allowed because these effect the whole community and the whole community is involved in the blessing.
But how far should this go? There are some who eschew the idea of having “visitors” stand before Mass so that everybody can clap for them because it sets them apart as visitors and not family. (Again, imagine if you were that famous comedian that just wanted to go quietly to Mass and pray with the local congregation.) But what about when the Knights of Columbus come for their corporate communion or like the time an east coast high school football team came to have Mass here? Is it better to recognize them to get everybody’s mind off of them? (Who is that group of people and why are they here?) Or does one stick so rigidly to the above rule that you pretend that they are not an unusual group of people, “keeping in mind that they have only one Father in heaven and that hence are all brothers r sisters one to the other”?
Thursday, September 1, 2016
GUEST BLOGGER: WHAT ROLLER COASTER RENOVATIONS CAN TELL US ABOUT CHURCH REFORM
Many, many thanks to Mr. David Stavars, seminarian at St. Mary Seminary in Cleveland and part time St. Sebastianite for being our guest blogger today. (I probably wouldn't have had time to get anything out today!) As always, you are awesome Mr. Stavarz.
Lately, there has been a good bit of hype amongst roller coaster enthusiasts about the supposed removal of the wooden roller coaster, the Mean Streak, at Cedar Point Amusement Park. Cedar Point, located in Sandusky Ohio and arguably one of the best amusement parks in the world, boasts an impressive lineup of coasters of which includes the Mean Streak. This wooden behemoth of a ride opened in 1991 as the tallest and fastest wooden coaster in the world and since then has given rides to over 26 million people. Luckily, as I had an obsession with coasters especially in my younger days, it was phenomenal having one of the best amusements parks only an hour away. Every year, people from all over the world flock to "America's Roller Coast" to ride the newest and best rides, including the Mean Steak, at least up until the past few years.
Undeniably, as has been the case for many wooden coasters around the country, the Mean Streak has grown much meaner over its lifetime. The ride's old wood tracking - what the trains ride on - has made for a pretty harsh ride, while the track layout has become a bit mundane compared to the newer, innovative, and more exciting steel coasters. However, despite the relatively low ride attendance in the past few years, some people are still sentimental about the wooden coaster's future in the park. Even though the park announced that the Mean Streak would "Get the Axe" at the end of this year, there are still some that speculate about the ride's future.
One of the theories of the Mean Streak's future involves renovation. Rocky Mountain Construction - the supposed renovation firm - is a company that takes old wooden coasters and converts them into new hybrid coasters using steel tracking. This kind of coaster renovation allows for a much smoother ride and also provides for the ability to change different elements of the ride for a whole new experience. The new steel tracking makes elements like inversions and steep turns possible on an old wooden coaster. One coaster enthusiast even took the time to create a model of what a renovation for the Mean Streak could look like. See the video here: (http://youtu.be/GhbJF3ZxPRQ)
Instead of completely bulldozing the previous structure, this company re-forms the coaster into something new, yet the engineers renovate the ride in a way that is true to coaster's past, a way that is true to its essential nature. Many times today, we want to just bulldoze. In order to make way for the future, we think that we must forget the past and completely start anew. Thanks to Rene Descartes and many others in modern philosophical thought, this way of bulldozing and forgetting the past is largely how the world views what has come before. However, I think it's always important to look and see what has come before and know why it was there before you start the bulldozing. Just because something is old doesn't mean it's obsolete, and furthermore it doesn't mean that what is old can't be re-formed into something new.
Today, there are many in the larger secular culture that see the Catholic faith as old and obsolete. We hear this in regards to Catholic liturgy, ethics (especially sexual ethics), sacraments, devotional life, etc. Many of these elements of Catholicism have been around for centuries - since the very conception of the Church. Yet, in a modern world that tends to question reality and forget the past, these ancient beliefs and practices that have been passed on are what truly grounds us in reality. Just because there elements of the Church that are old, doesn't mean they are useless. As the hymn goes, the Church is ever ancient and ever new.
John Allen Jr., in his book, The Future Church: How Ten Trends Are Revolutionizing the Catholic Church, explains that a major factor in future Church reform will be that of Evangelical Catholicism. By "Evangelical" he means a youthful, vibrant Catholicism that is returning to a stronger, more external, more orthodox practice of the faith in regards to liturgy, sacraments, devotions, prayer, ethics, etc. However, this return to orthodoxy, ritual, and tradition, this looking back to what has come before rather than bulldozing, is not a return to the same Pre-Vatican II Church. This re-formation is a conversion to a new era of the Church, yet one that is true to its past.
On one hand, the modern Evangelical Church will take the traditional, orthodox practices that were good from the Pre-Vatican II Church. However, this modern ecclesial renovation also means that some parts of Church practice that were rough and had possibly detracted from the true mission and purpose of the Church are going to be left in the past. Like coaster renovation, what is going to make the ride unbearable, taking away from the true purpose of the ride, will be changed. Furthermore, while modern Church reform tends to return to the roots of orthodox practice, it also has a crucial awareness to the situation and needs of the modern world. This looking to the modern world, while bring the tradition of the Church to it was the true mission and purpose of Vatican II in the first place.
In order to renovate, one must look at what has come before, but must also see what is possible in the current conditions. Allen says that the Evangelical Church is a Church that not only wants to dialogue with the modern, secular world, but also wants to convert it. Living out such a mission means having your ear close to the ground, listening to what is happening in the culture and acknowledging how the Church can speak Her truths to the people of that culture.
Having an eye to what is ahead means that exciting, new elements of the Church will emerge, but also elements that are rooted in and consistent with the Church's foundation and tradition. Even though the Church has been fundamentally the same in every century, how exactly that Church has looked had been different.
I see this change happening is when a Mass with reverent praise and worship music also incorporating old Latin hymns into the congregation's prayer. I see it in parishes and youth groups that are centered around Eucharistic Adoration. I see it in women who wear traditional head coverings to Mass, not as a sign of submission, but of holy humility. I see it in the practice of traditional Catholic devotionals like the Rosary, Litanies, and Consecration to Mary amongst young and older people alike. I see it in websites like Word on Fire and Strange Notions, which bring the truth of humanity and Catholicism into dialogue on the Internet.
One way this change has happened in the Diocese of Cleveland is in the successful introduction of Theology on Tap. These are nights where young Catholics from around the diocese meet up at a bar, share conversation and fellowship, and listen to a guest speaker talk on some topic about the spiritual life or address some cultural issue from a Catholic perspective. This is the tradition of the Church reaching out into the modern world. This re-formation is like putting a new set of tracks onto an old coaster.
What we need to recover, especially as we think about reform in the Church, is the understanding that the Church is ever new because it is ever ancient. Instead of the bulldozing mentality, look to what is truly good and adapt that good to what is needed. As the Church is rooted in its foundation, which is Christ and His mission of conversion in the world, the Church can present itself in a way that is ever new, ever cutting edge, ever relevant to a world that proclaims its irrelevancy.
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