Monday, October 31, 2016


So this weekend I started the homily with a little joke.
Yesterday the St. Sebastian Parish School football team (the West Side Saints) won the CYO championship.  Between that, the Cavs, and the Indians, it seems almost too much for northeast Ohioans to bear.  It is washing over us like survivor's guilt.  After so long a drought, it seems some how wrong that so much good fortune should fall upon us.
I'll tell you this much though:  I've not seen so much spontaneous, public praying on T.V. since I caught Mass on EWTN.  

We are also physically unprepared for such luck to be bestowed upon us.  I mean - seriously - how many nights can we stay up until midnight to watch baseball and still function without having built up to it over the years like other cities?  
But still, the only reason I am glad we didn't win last night is that by the time we would have won, the church alarms would have been armed and I wouldn't have been able to ring the steeple bells in thanksgiving to God.    

I doubt baseball will change.  So from now on I am napping between the 2nd inning and the 7th inning stretch.

Friday, October 28, 2016


In the comment section last Friday someone asked the question of how we can determine if someone may perform one of the optional ministries available during the Mass.  Before we get to that, just clarification that the most important ministry among the faithful is that of praying the Mass.  That is the fullness of participation as reiterated by Pope Emeritus Benedict.  The reader does not get to participate MORE because he or she is reading.  In fact, it is taking away from their primary ministry of offering the Mass “for themselves and all who are dear to them.”

Canon law does say that the faithful have an obligation to assist at Mass when it is needed.  The commenter last week asked the question as to whether a person has a right then to a ministry.  To answer this we can look (conveniently enough) at the next paragraph of the GRIM (102) concerning the psalmist.  This is the person that might (obviously) proclaim the Psalm between the first and second reading.  It lists some qualifications:

“To carry our this function correctly, it is necessary for the psalmist to be accomplished in the art of singing the Psalms and have a facility in public speaking and elocution.”

That sounds pretty daunting if you ask me.  But what is our primary goal here?  1. That the Psalm be HEARD.  2. That the Psalm be UNDERSTOOD.  3. That the focus be ON THE PSALM.  4. That he faithful are INSPIRED.  

In some ways, it is like being a godparent.  It is not an honor.  It is a responsibility and should only be engaged if the role has a real expectation of being carried out.

Thursday, October 27, 2016


The entire world has been divided into 3 meter squares.  In each of those squares, three words have been assigned in a particular order.  The purpose of this is to address the world in a non-complicated way that gives addresses or locations to all people and places.  By knowing your three words, anybody can have an address even if they are somewhat homeless.  

Living in a box in an alley?  Know your three words and somebody (with the app from can find you.

So it’s pretty cool.  And being that your home is divided into 3 meter squares, if you don’t like the three words assigned to your front door, move 3 meters into your living room and use those three words.  Or move three meters into your kitchen . . . 

Here are the three words assigned to St. Sebastian church I am using for our address:


I like it. 

And almost equally as cool is the address for the rectory:


The school is a huge piece of property so there may be a better one than the one I found, but so far I am sticking with


I so see some T-shirts coming our way . . .

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


Your pro-life bumpersticker has made me change my culture of death ways.”

Said no-one ever.

So really, what is the point of taking the beautiful paint job on your car and plastering a sticker on it that in a few years will fade, wrinkle, and, if you try to remove it, will fight like the devil to remain and cause you hours of careful cleaning?

Because they may still do some good.  It may not convert or convince those not with you on any given topic, but it might bolster the weak and the wavering.  I thought of that today pulling up behind a car with a pro-life bumper sticker.  It gave me a sense of peace.  If someone is feeling like a small voice, an isolated island, they may not speak out in fear of the tsunami of vitriol that might overwhelm them if they take the chance.  

But what if they thought they were part of a larger community?  What if they started tentatively reaching out, testing to water, finding out that people close and important to them might share their views.  Upon finding them, might they take a chance one day of speaking out at a gathering of friends.  Maybe at that gathering of friends, a shy person might quietly listen but after touch that person’s elbow and ask, “Can I speak to you for minute?  I feel that way too but I am way too shy to say anything like you did.”

Perhaps one day there would be enough open support out there that a person does not have to be shy about saying, “I’m pro-life.”  That it would not a politically or patriotically incorrect thing to say or be.  And it doesn't have to be just the pro-life message, but anything near and dear to our hearts.  And maybe our culture would start swinging back to sanity.  

Monday, October 24, 2016


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "If Churches came to understand that the greatest threat to faith today is not hedonism but distraction, perhaps they might begin to appear anew to a frazzled digital generation.  Christian leaders seem to think that they need more distraction to counter the distraction  Their services have degenerated into emotional spasms, there spaces drowned with light and noise and locked shut through the day, when their darkness and silence might actually draw those whose minds and souls have grown web-weary.  But the mysticism of Catholic mediation - of the Rosary, of Benediction, or simple contemplative prayer - is a tradition in search of rediscovery.  The monasteries - open up to more lay visitors - could try to answer to the same needs that the booming yoga movement has increasingly met."  from Andrew Sullivan's article, "I Used to Be a Human Being" in New York Magazine.  Thanks to M. W.


This is being posted a day early because tomorrow morning is Fr. Leonard's brother's funeral: 10:00AM at St. Vincent Parish, Akron.

Congratulation to the eight men who were ordained transitional deacons in the Diocese of Cleveland this past Saturday!  God bless you!
 How many seminarians are there in the diocese of Cleveland?  Here are those studying in the minor (college) seminary of Borromeo.
 St. Sebastian by moonlight!

 This seems to be getting the thumbs up.
 I am very happy to announce that the next Theology on Tap Akron will be sponsored in part by St. Hilary Parish in Fairlawn.  Dan Samide is doing his internship there.  See you at the Thirsty Dog!
A St. Sebastian parishioner, Mark Cook, is doing magic for the Marian Missionaries.  Here is one of his videos!

Sunday, October 23, 2016


Sebastian is almost the perfect rectory dog.  He's good with people.  He's protective when he needs to be.  He knows when to offer somebody comfort in a way that I cannot.  He keeps me sane.  He's black so that when he sheds he doesn't show up on my clerics.  But if he has one major design flaw it is this:  There is something in autumn to which he is allergic.  He scratches himself mercilessly day and night.  It not only torments him, it torments the people around him.

A couple of weeks ago a priest buddy of mine and I went on a trip to the "woods" and rented a cabin. He was all excited because the dogs wanted to sleep in his room instead of mine.  But Lo!  Around 3AM my door was unceremoniously opened and my friend announced . . .
And then he slammed the door.  Apparently the joy of having the dogs in his room was too heavy offset by the disgusting grooming noises Sebastian was making.  Fortunately between the fan and my hearing not being what it used to be, I was just fine with him sleeping in my room.

Before you say anything . . . yes.  I've tried that.
The different food.  The vitamins.  The Benadryl.  The right shampoo.  Prayers to Saint Francis.  Wishing on a shooting star.  I've tried everything short of getting another dog.  The thing is - I know it will all come to a screeching end the moment the first snow falls.  Though it may cut down on the intensity, there just doesn't seem to be anything that will make it better until those snow flakes start falling.

Sebastian is a very social dog.  He generally sits in on all of my meetings and does what he can to make people feel comfortable before their pastor.  But in the fall, it is always the reverse.  If it were just the scratching, that would be one thing but there is this awful slurping noise he makes when digging into various contorted areas - disgusting noises that I always forget exist until the fall.  I learn to tune them out but for the uninitiated they can be quite disturbing.
 So I am running low on advice and ideas.  My only hope is that global warming is either a hoax or will soon reverse because the snow cannot come quickly enough.  I'll try anything.

Friday, October 21, 2016


Nobody has a right to any ministry at Mass save for the most important one which is to pray the Mass and offer up your own sacrifice.  Nobody has a right to be an altar server, EMHC, or even reader.  It is never recommended that someone be given a ministry to perform who can’t quite do it in order to be “fair.”  When the ministry becomes about a certain person, it is their mishaps or inadequacies that becomes the focus and the prayer of the congregation suffers.  

So, for example, in the absence of an installed lector, a reader may do the readings.  But, according to paragraph 101 in the GIRM, this person should be, “truly suited to carrying out this function and carefully prepared.”  This is so that when a reader reads, he or she does not become the focus of attention but that they become a finger pointing toward God, or, as the GIRM itself says, this is so that the congregation, “by their hearing the readings from the sacred texts  . . . may conceive in their hearts a sweet and living affection for Sacred Scripture.”

Of course, there is a certain amount of leeway here.  There is no universal test to be a lector.  Everybody has an opinion.  Readings should be more/less dramatically read.  They should be read more quickly/slowly.  There are considerations to be weighed such as how adequate of a sound system, if any, is used, how echoey is the space, to what group of people is the reading being proclaimed.  Absolute rules are difficult to put down for universal observance other than, “suited” and “prepared.”

Thursday, October 20, 2016


One of THE most intimate things two people can do with each other, even over and above anything physical that they might do, is to pray together.  During wedding prep I have had couples who were well versed in all of the things that should be put off until after their wedding day and are not the least bit shy about it, but ask them to pray together - alone - and more than just gra

ce or a Hail Mary (though I would be excited about that too) and many of them freak out - and I don’t use that phrase lightly.

Often, with these couples that I prompt to go home and try a prayer night, what I hear, when they report back, is, “It was so difficult!  Prayer is such a personal thing!”  These are with people who are about to become ONE and have done just about everything two people can do with each other (often including the man asking his partner to put poison in her body so that it cannot fulfill its mission to procreate) yet prayer is a wall that is almost too high for some to climb.

Why might this be?  In prayer you are exposing yourself at an incredible depth to another person - especially if at least some of the prayer is free flowing.  “What should we lift up to the Lord?”  Generally, in this type of open prayer, what we are bringing forth are the things that scare us, the future that we hope for, what we want on the deepest level and what we want to avoid, our vision is expressed, we expose the depth of our love, the strength of our faith, and perhaps what we assume about the other with whom we are one.  And all of this we invite the other to petition God with us that it might be realized or faced.  That means that we need to be on the same page.

Being a Catholic Christian is not something we tack on to who we are like “scrapbooker” or “Indians fan.”  These you can even despise and still love the other wholly - maybe even more so.  But being Christian is essential to us like being male or female.  If you cannot share or appreciate this, there is some serious discernment that needs to take place.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


It wasn’t a nightmare, but just the same it was a disturbing dream last night and its been difficult to shake.

The place of the dream was my sister’s house, the cast of characters was her cat and me.  I was working on some kind of project when it the thought came that what might solve the problem is a cat’s paw.  So I reached over to the cat, and remember, this was a dream, snapped off it’s front, right paw.  Being a dream, there was no blood, no mess, the cat didn’t even seem to mind that much.

Almost immediately it became clear that the problem with the project was not going to be solved by a cat’s paw.  It seemed so obvious that it would before hand but having done the deed, the futility of it became apparent.

Then the reality of what I had done became clear.  My sister would be home soon and she would see the cat.  There was no way to re-attach the leg even in such a wacky dream.  The cat seemed to be doing well on it’s three remaining legs and I knew that many four legged animals had lived happy lives on just three legs.  But none of the would help when my sister came home.  This was a gross act of selfishness and her disappointment was already palpable in my imagination.

The cat problem couldn’t be solved or covered up.  There was only one course of action.  I would have to confess to my selfishness.  But the thought of doing so was unbearable - that I had done something so horrible to my sister who does so much for me.  I was ashamed and desperate to find a way out but it seemed so hopeless.  I would have to face her.

Then the happy thought came that I could simply wake up.  What a relief!  And then I did much to my great joy.

It bothered me for some time after: Why would I have this dream in the first place?  The thing that clicked in my mind is that this is what facing our sins before God is like.  If we sinned and then were to see God as He is, He Who is Love, Life, Compassion, Mercy and Joy, the weight of our own sins would crush us.  They would be too much to bear.  Thanks be to God that He gave us the wonderful sacrament of confession to rid us of these terrible weights.  When we realize the gravity of our sins, we have a way to wake from them - shake them off with the morning dreams, and start anew.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Both secular and Christian humanists its have come to recognize that, without God, even the horizon of our moral judgment is wiped out."  from Dr. Ryan Toppings, "Rebuilding Catholic Culture"

QUOTE II:  "We have abandoned morality.  We have not ceased to be moralists."  same source


While I was away, Sebastian did play.  He'll put up with anything as long as it is from Marcy.
I must say I was a little disappointed that none of my local newspapers seemed to report anything at all (unless it was so small I just completely missed it . . . which is a possibility - so if you read anything at all about this in the Akron/Cleveland area, please comment) about the Wikileaks release of Emails describing Hilary Clinton's anti-Catholic "scandal."  Some people are able to work their away around what was said, others find it absolutely heinous.  

First, I suggest you Google Wikileaks site to read them for yourself.

Catholic News Service provide THIS COMMENTARY in an article entitled, "Leaked Emails Show 'Hostility' to Catholic Church, Some Say."

The NCR has an article HERE.

TIME magazine called it a faux controversy HERE.

Archbishop Chaput would beg to differ HERE.

You decide.

See you here?

I will be performing "The Ten Plagues of Egypt" with Dr. Wilding this Sunday at St. Sebastian at 3:30 in the Church.  Free and open to the public.
 Keep this in mind also!

Here is 2 minutes on how to share your faith at work:

Monday, October 17, 2016


This past Saturday there was an Octoberfest fundraiser at St. Sebastian.
Cute, kid.

There were a few events that night and I went to them dressed as a Slovenian (from the sunny side of the Alps as they say.)

I was somewhat happy to report that I was wearing these particular pair of lederhosen. 
That is, until there was a slight emergency.
I dropped something which would give away a terrible secret.
Furthermore, that I have been wearing them since high school did not mean that they actually still fit. Well, they fit as long as I didn't breathe too deeply, walk with too long of a stride, or bend much at the waist.  (Getting into the car was a real trick.)

So here's to everyone who helped me keep the illusion going!  Prost!

Friday, October 14, 2016


I grew up in a very small, ethic parish in which I was related to half of the congregation.  It had no boundaries so people could come from quite a distance.  We lived a couple of blocks away so if they needed a server, we got the phone call.  During the snowstorms of the ‘70s, my parents would slap cross country skies on my feet and send me off to serve morning Mass where it would be me, Fr. Ozimek, and Mrs. Bailey the organist having Mass - everybody else being trapped in their houses.

One day I walked in and Fr. Ozimek said, “You’re serving?”  Having been on the altar quite a bit at that point I responded, “Yeah.  I have to serve again.”  He got a very serious look on his face and corrected my sentence, “No.  You GET to serve again.”

He was correct.

In the absence of instituted acolytes, paragraph 100 uses a great word: lay people may be “deputed” to serve at the altar.  That word makes me think of a sheriff of a small town during the taming of the West tossing a gold star with the word “deputy” on it to someone who would help keep law and order in the town.

Now that I think about it, maybe it isn’t all that different.  Save for the star.

Altar servers have several possible jobs:
crucifer one who carries the crucifix
thurifer one who carries the thurible (the incense)

They also carry the candles, the bread, wine and water, and may even be deputed to act as extraordinary minister of Holy Communion along with a list of other jobs that any particular parish may load upon their shoulders.

Thursday, October 13, 2016


Today is just more of a report on what happened in Catholic Akron last night.

We had our inaugural Theology on Tap Akron at the Thirsty Dog Brewery Co!  Theology on Tap is a discussion series for Catholic young adults and their friends, married and single, in their 20s and 30s. Goals: ... Provide adult-level updates on topics of current religious or cultural  interest.
It was sponsored by Thirsty Dog and St. Sebastian Parish and was chaired by Mr. Eric Eirmanne and the young adults of the area.  There are two such programs up toward Cleveland that regularly get about 100 people but I was warning them not to expect too much.  It was new to Akron, not the easiest place to find, and was a little different.

So the set up began.  Here is where one would register and get a ticket.  $5 covered the food provided and helped cover other costs such as the speaker and so forth.
It couldn't be all done in one room so this room was used for food and the bar.
And this rooms was set up for the talk.
Then the people started pouring in.  And pouring in.  And pouring in.  I was expecting (hoping for) 50 people.  In the end, there was about 150 people present.  It is nice to be wrong sometimes.
I get excited by nun friends.  I am so glad they were there!
Fr. G David Bline, classmate, amazing priest of the great parish of St. Francis de Sales gave the first ToTA presentation.  He was wonderful as always.  It was nice to see so many of his parishioners coming to support him.  
ToTA will continue as a program running out of St. Sebastian Parish but we are looking for parishes and Catholic organizations to sponsor nights.  As sponsor, your parish/organization will be present on advertising, there will be the opportunity to present materials of upcoming events at your place that those in attendance might find interesting (we let people know about our 5K, concerts, the Academy, and such) and be given a couple of minutes to speak about those events during the night.

Sponsorship is $500 and helps defray the cost of the food, keep ticket prices down, pays for the speaker, tip, advertising, and other costs.  If you cannot cover the cost of the whole evening, you might be paired with another parish/organization.

Congratulations folks!

See more HERE on Facebook.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


It seems almost ever conversation these days ends with, “Father I want to ask you about the election.”  People are genuinely concerned more than I ever remember before.  It is the dirge constantly playing behind every conversation waiting to come to full volume.

Among many Catholics, there is a profound sadness.  Nobody is, and nobody has for quite some time fully represent us.  Like King David angering God by numbering his people and having to face one of three punishments, we always seems to be asking, not who will best lead us, but who will do the least amount of damage.

The Pope was asked about this conundrum and according to a CNS article he simply said that Catholics facing difficult political choices must study the issues, pray about the election and then vote according to their consciences.  He would never comment on a specific electoral campaign.  "The people are sovereign," he said. "Study the proposals well, pray and choose in conscience.”

So what is one to do?  The first is to be well formed.  It is not about what I may feel, what seems fair, or what I like.  We are a people of the Creed and that is something that we receive through faith in God in the Church.  We are formed by it, we do not form it. It informs and forms us and makes us one in faith.

The Catholic who has studied his faith at all knows that there are some things that far outweigh the other.  Issues about the economy are extremely important but it is dust on the scales when compared to the taking of the lives of the most vulnerable and innocent among us.  If the economy tanks, we may lose every penny we have a suffer terribly for it.  If we blindly allow the taking of innocent life as a right paid for by our taxes in order to have a better economy, then we have lost our very souls.  That has eternal consequences.  (See yesterday's post for resources.)

After being formed, we must be INformed.  “Study the proposals well,” says Pope Francis.  That does not mean turning up the volume when a political add is on T.V.  

Then pray whether you have made up your mind or not.  Someone else may need the prayer.  Do it seriously.  Make a holy hour.  Consider doing a fast of some kind.  The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has a novena for the election.  Pray first and then vote.

If you have done all of these things, then rest assured that you have done all that you can do at this point.  Stay informed and look for the next opportunity to be involved.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Secular universities have their dogmas too.  And dogma number one is that you can never prove things that you cannot see.  A dizzying diversity of opinion exists at most universities.  Unfortunately this is a diversity increasingly founded upon a dull, homogeneous skepticism.  Inside the secular university the rule of thumb is this:  you may take religion or leave it as you like, as long as you do not take it seriously."  from Dr. Ryan Topping's, "Rebuilding Catholic Culture; How the Catechism Can Shape Our Common Life"

QUOTE II:  "If the Church is to reclaim culture as a medium of God's saving work, then the living tradition cannot be consigned to the past.  It will have to become for us, our architecture, in our painting, in our music, in our literature, and in our theology once more a living and vital force if we are not to abandon ourselves to the spirit of the age."  same source


Intrigued by those quotes?  Dr. Ryan Topping, who was once a member of St. Sebastian Parish recently spoke to all of the pastors and catechetical leaders of the Diocese of Cleveland and had this book for sale.  I highly recommend it.  You can find it on line HERE.

A good number of people sent this video to me concerning the up and coming election.  It is 20 minutes long so settle in to watch it.

Are you in need of some guidance this election?  Here are some sites to assist you in forming your vote:

From the Diocese of Cleveland go HERE.
Article from CNS about notes from the pope when voting is tough HERE.
From the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops HERE.
Novena for this election HERE.
Catholic Conference of Ohio HERE.