Tuesday, October 30, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Every ideal is a judge . . . You put something up as an ideal and it stares down at you and says you aren't what you could be.  Every great piece of art does that."  Jordan Peterson.


IF YOU RECEIVED AND EMAIL FROM ME asking for a favor to buy something for me - don't believe it.  My Email account was hacked.  I spent way too much time this morning trying to figure out how to send a mass Email.  Online it says it should be easy peasy but I can't figure it out!  But no, if I need an iTunes card, I can buy it myself.  I cannot imagine needing an emergency one.

If you go HERE you will find a link to a documentary on Eric Armusik that is on German television.  Unfortunately about half of it is in German.  If you skip to the half way mark you can hear Eric speaking in English.  You will notice some of the paintings that are here at St. Sebastian.  

Here are some events that might be of interest to you:

This is one of my favorite pictures from the Holy Land.  We are in Masada in an ancient mountain fortress.  The mountain was completely surrounded by the Roman army that wanted to take it.  If you can spot the square far below, that was one of the Roman encampments.  Could you imagine waking up everyday knowing that they are down there waiting to find a way in????
I took a note from Fr. Trenta's playbook.  This is the first meal I had coming back to the United States.
Fr. Pfeiffer at a fundraiser with me for the Poor Claires this weekend.  He is multitasking eating and playing that Heads or Tails game at the same time.
This is phenomenal!  5 and half minutes.

Sunday, October 28, 2018


If you read Adam's Ale, you know that I have been away from the computer for a little spell due to being on the St. Sebastian 90th Anniversary Pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  I had to leave the pilgrimage a day early however due to an emergency at the parish and so had to say goodbye to the group and fend for myself navigating taxis and airports.  (Part of my deal in going was that I would not have to think at all - so much for that.)

Anyway, Tel Aviv Airport was navigated - the airport in Paris was a bit of a blur having to run from one end to the other but all was well.  Then we were to land at JFK.  For this I was grateful.  If I was going to be delayed, lost, whatever - I would rather it occur in the good ole U.S. than in a place where I don't speak their language or have their currency.

I was soooooo looking to getting out of the ONE position in which I could sit.  Airplanes were not built for 6'3" people.
So there was no relief and that extra hour made my backside apply for succession from the union.  But we eventually made it to a gate.  A poor young lady behind me was trying to force her way to the front of the plane because she was going to be late for her connection.  Her connection was a half hour AFTER mine.

According to my watch, I had about 10 minutes left before my plane started boarding (I was supposed to have about an hour and half.)  The first step was to go through passport control.  I showed the guy my ticket and asked if there was any way that I was going to make it.
So I said a Hail Mary and gave it the old seminary try.  First, since I was switching from international to domestic travel, the first step was to claim my baggage.  That alone could take a half an hour.  My bag ALWAYS comes 10 minutes  AFTER I think, "How could there possibly be any more luggage on this plane?  There aren't that many people in Akron."  But guess what!  My bag was like the 3rd one to drop out of the baggage thingy!  FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE.
Now I had to check it again.  A very harried but infinitely patient and kind attendant took my bag, drew me a map, told me about an ancient oracle that said that one day there would be a bald priest who would one day have no chance of catching his plane but would be brought to the promised plane miraculously by his guardian angle and that I just might be that priest.  Then she yelled, "Now,
So I ran.  I ran up and down stairs, out of the terminal and into another attendant who showed me the terminal to which I needed to go.  "It's a four minute walk," he said.  But I ran with all of my might, humming the tune to Chariots on Fire and made it 3 minutes and 45 seconds!
That's when I found out that I would have to go though security again.
A kind attendant ushered me to a short line when I showed my ticket and time table.  So that mess was got through and then I had to run to the end of THAT terminal and go outside to catch a bus which, of course, I had just missed.  

Another bus showed up and because I was the only one on it, we sat there for what seemed like a half an hour but was probably much closer to 10 minutes.

A very kind off duty flight attendant took a look at my ticket and said, "Oh honey, there's still hope.  I've seen worse situations than this.  Now, here's what you do . . ."  God bless her.

So the bus finally arrives at my terminal - I dash off according to her instructions - up stairs and down hallways until I reach my empty gate - but the doors are still open!  I make my way to my seat!  The person in the seat next to me had already strapped himself in and started making himself at home in both of our seats since he was sure that I wasn't going to make it.  He let me in, I squeezed myself in with a shoe horn, click the buckle and was READY TO GO WITH 30 SECONDS TO SPARE!!!!

Friday, October 26, 2018


Late last night I returned from our 90th Anniversary Pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  I won't share with you all of my (hundreds) of photos - but here are a couple of things that really moved me.  I was surprised by what they were - not at all what I expected.  And there is plenty to be awed by.  After a while it makes you head spin.

We visited many, many, (MANY) churches.  But one of the things that really got me was this boat.  It is approximately 2,000 years old.  It was at least around near or at Jesus' time.  (It is impossible to say whether it was connected to Him at all.)  When Scripture talks about fishing or that Jesus was in a boat, they were talking about vessels just like this one.  It made concrete what I could only imagine before.
The place that nearly moved me to tears was the church of the Primacy of Peter.  This is the place where Peter told Jesus three times that he loved Him after denying Him three times.  I read that Gospel during the Mass and got quite choked up (and that says a lot coming from me) and worked hard at holding it in.

This is the mosaic behind the alter where we had Mass.  There is Jesus and Peter but anachronistically there is Pope Paul VI laying on the rock where all of this took place.  It is said that, after praying and reading the Scriptures about Christ signifying the primacy of Peter, he opened up his arms and in great emotion, fell on the rock and embraced it.  Maybe that was a little of what I was feeling.
So we were at the Church of the nativity.  I saw this Orthodox priest and nudged Fr. Orndorf (who was with us) and said, "Say, doesn't that chap look like  . . . " and he broke in and said, "Fr. Klonowski!"  At least when Fr K is in full beard.
The Wailing Wall was an unexpected moment of grace.  It was far more moving that I expected.  Maybe there will be a homily on this some day soon although I will say this one thing: the white, plastic porch chairs kind of threw off the aesthetic.  
These next two pictures are in the Bible that I've had for ever.  They were in black and white and it was stunning to see them in color.  In my Bible there are very few people around these structures save for some nuns which did not help prepare me for the crazy crowds there were everywhere.

This is me doing my best imitation of the Dome of the Rock.  Can you tell which is which?
Reciting our baptismal promises and going into the River Jordan where Christ was baptized by John helped with visualizing that story.
But always, always, alway it was celebrating Mass (here or in the Holy Land) that put us closer to Christ who is always present so fully - more so than He is in a place He happened to be 2,000 years ago.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018


Greetings all,

I will be away from my computer for the next week or so.  Hope to see you when I am reunited with my Mac.

God bless,

Fr. V


Still there is some call for someone to cook.  I do not mind cooking but know that I won’t.  A busy day will lead right up to the supper hour and evening appointments follow.  There is time in there for prayer and eating but not much for just being quiet for spell.  So I know, from experience, that I will not cook.  In my younger days I would sacrifice eating.  Today, I would subsist entirely on salami sandwiches with tons of mayo.  So food is still arranged.

The former pastor gathered a team of cooks who volunteered to make dinner for the rectory four days a week headed up by a team captain who served as rectory cook for special occasions.  Fr. Karg set a meeting with the captain of the kitchen one day before handing over the reigns of the parish.  When she walked into the kitchen I cried out, “Cathy!” and threw her a hug.  We had been great friends in college and had sort of lost track of each other.  Fate would throw us back together at St. Sebastian.

After catching up, we discussed dietary needs.  I am really quite easy to feed.  The only requirement was no fish.  Nothing that comes out of the water.  Every time I mentioned this people would laugh much to my confusion,   Cathy finally told me that the reason was that the former pastor would only eat fish.  

“Please tell people I am allergic to fish,” I told her.  I could not bear another round of, “Oh!  But you have not tired MY fish.”  Then comes the inevitable, “But it doesn’t taste like fish,” or “It doesn’t smell fishy.”  I don’t care.  Really.  And, pardon my rambling, why would it be better if it neither smelled nor tasted like fish?  Why not just not have fish then?  Would I be proud of my beef in the same way?  No.  I WANT my beef to both smell and taste like beef.  So why would I want to eat something only if it doesn’t seem fully what it is.  

I know, you fish lovers out there, I don’t understand.  Fine.  I accept that.  But let us be absolutely clear:  If my cow falls into the water before it is made into a burger I won’t eat it.

This is the story of the very last time I ate fish:  In my second assignment a pleasant young couple moved to the neighborhood and asked me over for dinner and to bless their new house.  We ate dinner in community at that assignment so I said that I couldn't come over for dinner but I would come over for desert and to bless the house.  So on the appointed night, after eating dinner, I headed out.  It was a dark rainy night.  It was odd because it seemed like the rain was washing what little light there was out of the sky.

Then I turned down their street which was the darkest street on the that dark night.  Their house was the darkest house on the darkest street on that darkest night.  No kidding.  In fact, I thought they may not be home.  I found out why their house was so dark when I walked up to the door: all the windows were covered with plywood.

They were, in fact, home however and graciously invited me in.  We sat in the living room which, besides the couch and a chair, was still largely boxes.  After a few minutes of chatting it became apparent that they were making dinner and expecting me to eat (again) before the blessing.  The lady of the house stood and proclaimed with much pride and joy that we were having some sort of rare and expensive thing out of the water that they would NEVER have on their own because it was so expensive.  This was a treat for them (in treating me.)

To make a long story short (too late) we sat down to dinner and began to eat.  I tried to take the TINIEST bit of the gourmet fish food and the scoop it up with as much rice as I could manage and eat.  Then I would try to get by talking (thereby avoiding eating) but my hosts had impeccable manners and would stop eating if I stopped eating.

Finally I said, "OH!  I am STUFFED!"  "But Father," they said, "You barely ate your fish!"  "Oh, you know," I replied, "I eat like a bird."  (A bird that doesn't eat fish.)

So they packed up my meal to enjoy later.  And I did come back to it later.  Or rather it came back to me.  All night long.  Over and over again.  

And thus is the story of the very last time I voluntarily at fish.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018


I wish that the Church was as tight knit and conspiratorial as movie makers and those in the media at times make it appear.  I don’t even know what is happening at the next parish over let alone in Cleveland.  I love having priest friends over and asking them, “What’s going on up north of 303?  I haven’t heard any rumors lately.”

We occasionally get an Email from “downtown” informing us of important events.  There is a thing called the “Diocesan Memorandum” that anybody who wants can sign up for.  We have district meetings at which some information is disseminated with varying degrees of success.  When something really big happens we might be Emailed a letter to be read at all Masses (and hopefully the pastor complies.)  But really, your typical priest is going to find out about goings on in the Church the same way you do . . . when he reads it in the paper or internet.

It may be true that newspapers are slowly becoming the buggy whips of the news industry but I miss our diocesan newspaper (which had the coolest name EVER: The Catholic Universe Bulletin.  If anything was going on and news needed to get out, there was the paper.  “The Bishop says right here on page four . . .”  Certainly not everybody read it, but enough did to get a message out.  (And really, our paper was not well used in a manner that made it overly relevant but that is another story.)

Every now and then we have a magazine that comes out now that is more catechetical in nature.  And that is great for catechetics.  We also have a (completely non-navigable)  diocesan website that, if you want to see what is on the Bishops mind, you can waste an afternoon trying to find his words.  (They are working on it thank goodness.)  But we don’t really have anything that is pro-active.  (I hate that phrase.)  Just because we issue a statement does not mean that anyone will print it or your average Catholic will bother to go online to try to search out the diocesan reaction to any particular story out there.

Maybe this is a clever tactic: better to let things fade away rather than putting fuel on the fire by making statements to which others might react.  If the Bishop had a mechanism by which he could control all of the bulletins in the diocese to issue a state such as, “You heard about recent events concerning Cardinal Whosit in Rome, I would like to assure you that . . . and here’s some things we can do . . . “  who knows what delicious trouble that could get us in.  I could imagine the Bishop printing something in the bulletins and a pastor countering him in a merry war.  Hmmm.  Maybe it is better to keep our heads low.

In the meantime I’ll continue to invite my priest friends from Cleveland down to play cards on Wednesday nights and pump them for all the Church news from up north I can get.  Maybe the Medieval ways really are the best.

Monday, October 15, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Some ideas are bad.  Some opinions are foolish.  Some feelings are vindictive.  And some people lie. . . So it becomes very important for citizens to think their politics, not feel them; to examine the language of public discourse for what the words really mean."  from Bishop Chaput's, "Render Unto Caesar"

QUOTE II:  "Catholics have the duty not to 'tolerate' other people but to love them."  same source


Deacon Terry Peacock will be speaking TONIGHT at Theology on the Rocks!!!

A. B. sent in THIS article from Harvard School of Health reports that a religious upbringing is lined to better health and well being.  Thanks for sending it in.

Here are some pictures from the Autumn Lights celebration this past weekend:
 Praying compline at the end of the night:
 Fr. Simone caught this cool effect on his phone:

 From the concert this past Sunday.
Posting will become a bit sporadic for a couple of weeks as I am on the St. Sebastian 90th anniversary pilgrimage.  I will remember you in prayer!

As I am going away I thought this was appropriate for a laugh.  Thank heavens for being Catholic.

Monday, October 8, 2018


There is no shortage of people to give a priest an opinion on what he should be doing and how he should be spending his time.  When somebody wants you at the drop of a hat you should be the kind of priest . . .
Unless you want him supporting you activity . . .
There is never a shortage of things to do . . . 
and any activitie's antithesis demanding more time for the good of the Church. . .
And it isn't just what is done, it's HOW it's done . . .
It is soooooooo difficult
Until it's put into perspective and you realize it is like this for just about everybody and on top of that, when you are asked you still volunteer at your parish.
I just wanted to say, "Thanks."

Friday, October 5, 2018


One of the most interesting discoveries was made when the industrial coffee machine, declared to be in the wrong place, was moved to the other side of the kitchen.  Behind it on the counter was a space in the wall about two feet square and one foot deep.  There were keys, one a skeleton key, hanging on a hook so covered with dust that it was obvious they had not seen use for some time.  The back of the space was a little door with a handle on it that opened out into the dining room, the purpose of which was explained to us during a visit with a priest who had been assigned in the hay day of the parish with Monsignor Zwilser.

The dining room, with its birch wood paneled walls, simple plaster crown molding, chandelier, and built in china cabinets, originally consisted of two rooms, the larger formal dining room and a much smaller room between it and the kitchen, set off by a proscenium arch.  The smaller of the rooms was once a smaller dining room.  After the new church was built and a hallway from the rectory to the sacristy was created, the window in the small dining room was made into a door and this little room became nothing more than an intersection between the church, rectory dining room and kitchen.  We stuck a studio piano and pump organ in the space a dubbed it the music room.  The organ was given to me many years before I became a priest by a college that wanted to continue my services for another couple of weeks and had run out of funds to pay me.  In exchange for the organ I stayed on and it has been following me ever since.

The smaller dining room was separated from the main dining room by a thick, velvet curtain that hung in the arch.  Monsignor ate at the long table in the main room alone.  Behind the curtain were the parochial vicars at their more humble table.  Before the parkay floor was added there was a floor buzzer by Monsignor’s seat.  When he had finished a course he would press in the buzzer with his foot and the little door would open in the small dining room with the next course.  One of the priests would take it and pass through the velvet curtain, exchange the next course for the empty plate, return it through the window at which time the rest of the priests would receive their meals; priests and cooks never passing between the two worlds separated by the swinging butler’s door until the room was vacated.

Things are of course much different today, residents tramping between the two rooms cooking, setting up, and eating with no bells to mark the end of a course.  The age of live-in help passed away mostly due to the advent of Social Security.  A woman of a certain age at one time may have found herself in a difficult spot or she may have found herself plain board.  Back in the day, living in at the rectory and taking care of the helpless, vowed bachelors might provide her income, a place to live, and company to manage.  It is almost unheard of today.

Thursday, October 4, 2018


You may think of St. Francis of Assisi as a religious brother wearing a habit.  That came later.  At first he was a Catholic guy out in the woods who wore strange clothes.  Not everybody was thrilled.  It’s hard to imagine that this habit and this religious order that we take as such an institution today was at one time seen as either cutting edge or slightly off and, in either event, very different.  But the way this guy decided to love Christ and live his life continues to have direct influence on us today - even to the way our churches are decorated.  Not one Catholic church today does not have the mark of St. Francis on it.  Just look up at the Stations of the Cross.

At a typical Catholic parish, there are hundreds to thousands of people per clergyman.  It can’t be like the Super Bowl to paraphrase someone more clever than I, where there tens of thousands of people desperately in need of exercise watching 22 guys desperately in need of rest.  We are all called, in different ways, to carry on the work of Christ.

St. Francis’s work was not a ministry of his parish, he didn’t have a budget or an announcement in the bulletin.  He didn’t have an official sponsor or a team T-shirt.  What he did have was love of Jesus and desire to spread His word so he experimented and did it.  Some things were wildly successful and some were not.

Support of an official organization is great when you can get it but not getting it is not an excuse not to serve.  It means be more creative.  The greatest changes in the Church have always come about when an individual man or woman has decided to take the faith seriously, not when they have been awarded poster space in the narthex of the parish church.  

What is your love for Christ calling you to do?

Tuesday, October 2, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  The best churches bring out un-modern ideas.  They remind us of God’s perfection and holiness and make us feel humble.”  Duncan G. Stroik in the National Review.

QUOTE II: "The biggest stumbling block may be money: It costs a lot to erect a grand church.  It’s hard and expensive and takes time. Beauty isn’t fast and it isn’t cheap. Yet the payoff can last a long time. We still marvel at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, In Italy, almost every town has an old church that’s worth visiting. That’s not true in America. When was the last time you went out of your way to see a piece of contemporary religious artwork or architecture?” The real question, he insists, is this: “Can we afford not to build beautiful churches?” The failure to invest in architecture puzzles and frustrates him: “We’ve never been wealthier than today, and yet we’re building the cheapest churches in history.” same source


Mr. Chad Engelland, formerly professor of philosophy at Borromeo Seminary in the Diocese of Cleveland (our loss!) wrote THIS article.  

Our Principal, Mr. Rohr, sent me THIS article about the middle class moving away from private education. 

If you liked the above quotes, M. D. sent in the excellent article from which they came that you can read HERE.   

This past week we had the celebration of the 185th anniversary of the first known Mass in the city of Akron at St. Vincent Parish, the mother parish of Akron.  Here is the clergy getting ready:
I love this picture of my classmate and pastor of St. Francis de Sales, the Rev G. David Bline. He looks like a catalogue model for albs here.
Bishop Amos was the celebrant.  The whole thing was put together by the summer seminarian intern at St. Sebastian Mr. Jospeh Robinson.
Great turn out for a wonderful concert at St. Sebastian last weekend.  More people than we expected for a Baroque concert on a warm Sunday afternoon during a Browns game (which wasn't worth it.)  For the rest of the 90th anniversary season go HERE and find a link to the schedule about half way down the page.
Here is the next Theology on Tap Akron:
TED Talk on porn: