Monday, December 30, 2019


One may plan all one wants to but in the end what will happen will happen.  Don't get me wrong, Christmas at St. Sebastian went well and I think most of the catastrophes were somewhat unnoticeable.  Well - almost . . . 
Yeah, so we forgot to turn on the Christmas trees at the first Mass - that's one of the things you notice as your are processing down the aisle and the then wondering how it might be corrected without making a big fuss and calling everybody's attention to it.  

Other things are a little more difficult to cover quietly.
Yes, this did happen and the reason for it is a little embarrassing so I will keep it to myself.

There were a few other glitches but the biggest of which must have been at the Midnight Mass.  When I went down to get the gifts it was at this point that I noticed that no collection had been taken up!  This is huge!  A parish relies heavily on its Christmas collection.  What happened???  And more importantly, what was there to be done about it???

What does one do?  Do you stop the choir and make an announcement for SOMEONE to get a basket and start collecting money?  Do you interrupt prayer?  How is this fiasco fixed without ruining the flow and reverence of the Mass.  
As it turned out I was able to get the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion to pick up baskets and stand by the doors of the church like bouncers at the end of Mass and made an announcement.
And the people were kind and generous and we had a fantastic collection despite its "unorthodoxy."  Thank you so much everybody.  And . . .

Monday, December 23, 2019


                             "Yeah.  I don't know."

 "Do you think it's them?"
 "I don't have my glasses.  I can't tell."
 "But look how darling they are.  It's gotta be them."
"It sure would be embarrassing if it weren't them and here we are all dressed up and carrying gifts for the wrong baby."

"Wait.  I have an idea."

 "'I don't think they can hear you."
 "Maybe we one of us could just sneak up on them and take a peak."
                                                                                "Alright.  Who wants to go?"

"I say we wait a few days and see what develops."

Sunday, December 22, 2019


Maybe it was about 35 years ago they started really playing around with the words to hymns.  This is not even about inclusive language - this came after that.  This is when the hymnals at my parish got rid of all formal (albeit somewhat archaic) forms of English language.  This also was after they got rid of any capitalization of pronouns for God - which sometimes cleared up some otherwise confusing wording but so what.

In an increasingly casual culture it was thought too much for people to bear anymore.  It was "old" and heavens know that all things old are bad.  And I could understand not using it anymore with any new songs that are written.  No need for more formal English contrivances for such songs as, "Take the love of God with thee as thou go!"  But why mess with the traditional songs that we could sing even without looking at the book?

I wrote a letter to the publisher and got a NASTY letter back basically saying that I was stuck in the past and not "with it" and if the church was going to survive we had to rid ourselves of things that make us uncomfortable.

Then I was uncomfortable.  

THEN - if you remember - they tried improving the words because they weren't good enough.  Do you remember when our hymnals changed the words "O Come O Come Emmanuel" so that the chorus went, "Rejoice, rejoice O Israel, shall come to you Emmanuel"? 
Now, I will admit that, if you think about it, it DOES make sense.  But . . . STOP IT!  

I wouldn't even stay in the sanctuary for a verse before processing out because I was so annoyed.  And I sang it THE RIGHT WAY (IMHO) in protest and leaving my missallette behind.

I finally admitted defeat.  What was the point?  Be angry forever?

But . . . then . . . what did appear in our missalletts?  Thees and Thous with weird verbs ending in "st" and and the odd "d".

"In ancient times didst give the law . . . Rejoice!  Rejoice Emmanuel shall come to THEE O Israel.

Friday, December 13, 2019


Blessed are the poor in spirit, 
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

Years ago I was going on retreat.  I was late in arriving and the first conference was already taking place and I was ushered right in to the talk to sit in the back and the speaker, who was really quite good, said the only thing that really sticks with me to this day, “Poverty is not holiness but a pathway to holiness.”  Simply being poor does not make a person holy.  It may be easier for a poor person to be holy, but there are poor people who are every bit as ornery as a sinful rich person.

“Where your treasure is, there is your heart.”  To this I would add that where your heart is, that is where outside (of yourself) forces can control you.  Here is a random example: Let’s say there is a man.  One of things he loves most in the world is his car.  His child gets sick and throws up in the back seat - a very annoying thing to have happen.  If the car looms too heavily in his heart, this event will threaten and shape the relationships he has with his family.  He will become angry with his little child, perhaps yell at his wife who is trying to defend the child, it will put him in a foul mood and the the repercussions will spread out from there.  The love of his car controlled him.

If you want to know that which you love the most, see what is at the top of the, “I Will Sacrifice for This” list.  Sometimes love of a clean house will trump the love of family, with others the love of family will trump the perfect house.  What do you value most?

A man may want to travel the world, drink every night with his friends, take risky jobs, buy himself innumerable toys and have nobody to boss him around except himself.  Then he falls in love.  And if it is true love he says, “All these things that I thought I loved I sacrifice for the love of this woman,” and so he gets down on one knee and asks her, “Will you let me love you for the rest of my life?”  We are asked to do the same for heaven.

This type of poverty that has heaven as its premier possession will right order all other desires.  It will make of you a healthier, happier person able to give and love more and more fully enabling a person  to enjoy prosperity but not becoming crushed should fortune turn.  If such things as money, reputation or power are too high on the lost, then all that you need is someone who can exploit these lesser things and a person can be manipulated to do things that go against their otherwise held beliefs.  They are slaves to their desires.

A proper sense poverty of spirit makes a person powerful, uncontrollable, un-manipulatable, capable of greater and more easily sustained happiness and right orders all loves and desires.  Love of heaven on earth makes the taking possession of heaven in the next and for eternity most attainable.  “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” is not a consolation and a pat on the head, it is a prescription for being a powerful force in the world.  Who could control St. Francis of Assisi?  Nobody.  Who changed the world more than he?  Very, very few.  Of those who did, whose changes remain as intact to this very day?  Again, very, very few.

Thursday, December 12, 2019


I assume you are up on the goings on in the Diocese of Cleveland.  I was rather surprised by a priest friend visiting from PA that he hadn’t heard about it.  I would have assumed that it was national news - and maybe it was but it didn’t hit his radar screen.

A relatively recently ordained priest in the Diocese of Cleveland was arrested by the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force for dealings with child porn the exact nature of which is not yet clear (to me).  People ask, “Why couldn’t he have been weeded out earlier?”

In our day, there is a tremendous amount of time and resources invested in vetting a man who is going to potentially serve as a priest in the Catholic Church.  Over the course of six to nine years, a man is constantly under observation, formation and review as he moves toward ordination.  Not an hour or so a week but constantly - daily.  On a regular basis, he is interviewed by, works with and is formed and evaluated by clergy and religious, lay men and women of all ages, Catholics and non-Catholics, psychologists, various professionals and non-professionals and taking numerous and on different occasions as they pass through the years psychological and other tests and evaluations.

So, how could the seminary not know that this man might be unfit for orders?

There are two (perhaps among others) answers to that question.  The first involves marriage.  Ask any priest of some seasoned years about marriages that have broken up after 10, 15, 20 years because all of a sudden the spouse discovered something about the other that that person had kept successfully hidden for decades.  How could this person you are “one” with, shared a bed, parented and went to Church with not know this secret?  Yet it happens.

The other for this article is this: Psychological tests and such are great for detecting psychological problems, but they often fall short of being able to detect evil.  Evil is not their purview necessarily.  But evil always makes itself know - at least eventually.  That is when it is important to be community - to be Church - and to deal with it and remove the evil from our midst (which is why accountability by all is so important especially when it comes to the most vulnerable among us.)  

It may take a community to raise a child, but it also takes a community to protect them.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  ". . . [T]wo universals are in conflict: universal moral knowledge, and the universal desire to evade it.  The first one we owe to our creation.  The second we owe to our fall."  from J. Budziszewski's, "What We Can't Not Know"


Here are some views in the winter from the bell tower at St. Sebastian.  First is south toward Delia.
 This is looking east.  The green space is Schneider Park - Highland Square far in the distance.
 Forest Lodge is to the north   See the slide?  Off in the distance the white building is in Wallhaven.
 West is a large brown area where Perkins School stood until recently.
There is one more organ adoration and organ recital next Tuesday at noon with Mr. Mario Buchanan. Here is a taste of what he can do (a few years ago.)

Sunday, December 8, 2019


A friend of mine still has a flip phone and so sends messages in code:  ROFL - TY - TTL - etc.  It was an annoying code to crack back when everybody had to write thus and mistakes could be catastrophic.  I think of the guy who thought LOL meant "Lots of love" and wet people would write to him and say something like, "My dog died today," he would respond, "Sorry to hear.  LOL."

But this is not a new thing to Catholics.  We are the original abbreviators.  It must be tough for someone coming into the Church to catch on.  I think nothing of passing on a message like this: 
How many did you get???

Friday, December 6, 2019


I can’t stand the beatitudes.

Well, that’s not exactly true.  I can’t stand the way they are taught.  In my experience they are presented in a fashion a kin to “we should be nice to each other,” vacuous platitudes that do little good.  You can’t fight it (who wants to not be nice?)  But like another “footprints in the sand” plaque, what do you do with it?

In fact, the beatitudes are as practical being reminded to change the batteries in your smoke detector when the time changes: they are life savers.  When ignored we do so at our spiritual, mental and physical peril.  But we need to understand them more in depth than, “Oh, you should be kind to poor people.”

For the next little while (and if time permits) Friday Potpourri will be focusing on the Beatitudes.  I hope you enjoy them but even more, mine out of them more than platitudes but of a practical way of living.  

Tuesday, December 3, 2019


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "The whole meaning of morality is a rule that we ought to obey whether we like it or not.  If so, then the whole idea of creating a morality that we like better is incoherent."  from J. Budziszewski's, "What We Can't Not Know"

Deacon Terry's wife, Susie died last night.  There is no further news at the moment.  Please keep her and her family in your prayers.

The rose window in the original church at St. Sebastian which was once located here:

and during the renovation of the building into a hall and moved to here:

has been removed.  After 90 years of exposure to the elements, the wooden frame needed to be rebuilt.  It should be returned soon.

These reproductions are available for sale in the parish rectory.  Might be a good Christmas present for the right person on your list.

I referenced this video on Thanksgiving.  I hope you get as much of a kick out of it as I did.

Sunday, December 1, 2019


 I don't think that being baldish bothers me but apparently it does.  I've saved a fortune on shampoo and haircuts and there is no need to worry about wearing hats, riding in convertibles or styling.  BUT, apparently at some level it must bother me because I have a reoccurring dream that I comb my hair slightly differently (not that I actually have anything to comb anymore) and discover that I have this lucious head of hair . . . 

The consolation prize is that I became a man who wears hats - both to stay warm in the winter and to guard against the sun in the summer.  Over the years I've accumulated quite a collection of these head toppers - everything from a skull cap to porkpie.

The other day I ended up getting a slouch hat.  It looks something like this:
Loved ones have told me never to wear a hat like this - apparently I am too old and too unhipster.  Still, I tried one out walking the dogs the other day.

We were walking along and one of the dogs went to the bathroom.  So I bent over to retrieve the production and when I stood up the hat slouched across my face.

So there I was with two leashes in one hand and a bag of post-dog treats in the other and a hat over my face.  So I threw my head back and shook it back into place and it FELT LIKE THIS:

That settled it.

Monday, September 9, 2019


Do you know that feeling when someone is glad to see you and then at the last second they see something that makes them even more excited?
I know that nothing is meant by it.  It's like being excited to go to the movies but finding out there is a carnival in the parking lot.  Carnivals are rare and the movie house is always there.  But when the carnival leaves you won't notice it much and are very happy the theater is still there.

Still, when this happens, it is better when it is for a sensate being.  
Of course people are happy to see Sebastian.  Not only is he a rarer treat he is MUCH furrier and affectionate than I am.  Plus he has that tail thing going.

Last week Transitional Deacon Joe made a return visit to St. Sebastian.  One would think a movie star or something stepped on to the property.
But I get it.  I was excited also.  Who wouldn't be.  The vast majority of the time people are generally glad to see me so the key is to accept these moments with patience and grace.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed. That creed is set forth with dogmatic and even theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence; perhaps the only piece of practical politics that is also theoretical politics and also great literature. It enunciates that all men are equal in their claim to justice, that governments exist to give them that justice, and that their authority is for that reason just. It certainly does condemn anarchism, and it does also by inference condemn atheism, since it clearly names the Creator as the ultimate authority from whom these equal rights are derived."  from G. K. Chesterton's, "What I Saw in America"


I was in New York visiting recently.  My sister took this picture of me and sent it me yesterday.  What   great day!
Gifts that nailed it:
Last Theology on the Rocks.  Great crowd!  I think the new venue is a winner.  Great job Fr. Jordan.
As Perkins comes down I think of all my old schools that have disappeared.  Old architecture slowly fading away.  Thank goodness we take such good care of our 90 year old St. Sebastian.
Apparently we are a chiropractic school now.
Thanks to R. B. for sending this in.  7.5 minutes:

Monday, August 26, 2019


So, Saturday was my birthday and I did not wake up a happy camper.  It's not that I don't like birthdays.  It was that this was going to be a killer day on top of being a birthday.  It was a perfect storm of events that made the day tight and busy.  Between Fr. Anthony and me we had three weddings, two Masses, one funeral, confessions and house guests.  As a confirmed and deep introvert, the day just seemed as though it was going to grind me down into dust. 

But as the day went on and things got done, the sun seemed to shine brighter, the air seemed cleaner, the tasks seemed more doable and the people were great.  I even made a new friend that day so there was that.  But still I had to ask . . . 

No kidding.  It was as clear as a locution could be.  And once I heard that it turned out to be one of the best birthdays ever.  Thank you God.