Wednesday, January 30, 2019


Could we be living out the fairytale Little Red Riding Hood?

One of the original titles of this story is, “The False Grandma,” which might fit better.

A QUICK SYNOPSIS:  The Big Bad Wolf BBW wants to eat Little Red Riding Hood (LRRH) and the food in her basket and so runs ahead of her to grandma’s house, does away with grandma, disguises himself as her and lays in wait for LLRH.  When she comes in, everything SEEMS normal but something is off and she can’t quite put her finger on it.  So she asks questions.  “Gee grandma, what big ears you have.”  “The better to hear you with my dear . . . “

So imagine, if you will, that LLRH is our young.  Grandma stands for 2,000 years of Judeo-Christian culture.  The Big Bad Wolf is modern, politically correct culture that takes its place and seems, in many ways, to be so right, but there is something off about it.

Maybe the BBW is the Gillette commercial.  “This sounds right.  But why am I questioning it?”  Maybe it is the abortion laws coming out of New York.  “The better to give you freedoms my dear.”  “Freedom” and “Choice” sound like such good things.  Why does the country feel uncomfortable about them in this situation and are asking questions?

What we need more than ever is the lumberjack to come on the scene to unmask the BBW for who he is, to restore grandma, and allow LRRH to live in true peace and freedom.  The lumberjack comes in many forms.  One of the most powerful manifestations is Wisdom.  Wisdom sees what is and understands what is beneath the shiny, promising facade, beneath Grandma’s night cap to the self serving predator beneath.

True wisdom comes from contemplation, meditation, study, searching out truths from the past that have been thoroughly thought about by the greatest minds of Western Culture, digging beneath the surface, thinking through to logical conclusions, to grasp the bigger picture, to be a man or woman of intelligence, not just facts. 

Every trap requires some complicity from the prey.  The mouse has to step on the lever when its greed pulls it toward the too easily proffered cheese.  It’s time to stop being mice.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  ". . . charity is not to be measured by the sensible satisfaction that sometimes accompanies devotion, but by two essential signs: death to sin and configuration to Christ through the increase of the Christian virtues."  from Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Langrange, O.P.'s "Knowing the Love of God"

QUOTE II:  "Music is liquid architecture, architecture is frozen music."  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Just a bunch of backlogged videos today:

Greg sent this one in.. Thanks!:

Cool song entitled, "Prayer to St. Sebastian" since we are celebrating at the parish.

This commercial really touched me.  I went to check out their products a few days ago.  Everything in my price range was sold out.  This is a more effective ad campaign than others that might come to mind.  Maybe we as Church could take a lesson from all of this controversy.

David told me about this commercial this morning.  Thumbs up from me!

Friday, January 25, 2019


Here are just some things that I need to get out of my desk.

If you didn't hear the last Theology on the Rocks on the crusades you can hear it HERE.

Firstly, today is the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul.  The person who created one of our St. Sebastian paintings is Mother Mary Thomas, about whom you can find more HERE.  The convent in which she lives is commonly and politically correctly called St. Paul Shrine.  It was an Episcopal church originally called St. Paul.  When the left for Cleveland Heights, the sisters bought and renamed it, "The Conversion of St. Paul Shrine."  So today is their feast day and I ask you to say a prayer for them

Today is also the feast day of St. Paul parish in south Akron.  The pastor there, the Rev. Matthew Pfeiffer was formerly a parochial vicar at St. Sebastian and still occasionally celebrates Mass here on Sunday afternoons and plays cards here every Wednesday.  He is also turning 40 (OLD) next month but don't tell him I told you and so he and his community could also use a prayer.

The Diocese of Cleveland has a new website.  (WAY TO GO!)  HERE it is.

Also I've been thinking about preaching on the Gillette controversy this weekend (at least in part.)  Then I found this thing below in my mailbox.  I plan on giving it a listen today and thought you might like to also:\

Christopher West and Matt Fradd (who recently started using our new Heart of the Mountain beard balm even though he doesn't have a beard – because he "loves the smell") are going to be talking about the "Gillette Controversy" that was sparked by Gillette's recent ad. We think it will be an amazing conversation about theology, culture, and the role of business in cultural commentary.
We hope you can join us (and thousands of others) for the live conversation on Facebook – tomorrow (January 25th) at 12pm EST.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019


The following is a transcript of Fr. Simone's homily from this past weekend.  It is a pious reflection on St. Sebastian's thoughts.  A number of people have asked that it be posted here so here you go!  Good job Fr. Simone!

As a Soldier, I came to serve Jesus.  As a soldier, you’re trained to discipline yourself for a life of service, to deny yourself, to step-out from safety into danger for the glory of Rome, to fight for victory: an honorable life.
But you can’t defeat your own pride.  You can’t run from the pain you feel, from the pain you caused.  Under all the armor and muscle, there is a wounded heart from the violence you’ve seen, a conscience suppressed under orders, a soul neglected and empty.
But one day, Your grace broke-in.  In my brokenness, God reached-in and showed my strength to be weakness.  For the first-time, I felt hope for hope: a way beyond-me, that I might find a way to the freedom my heart has been aching for.  My heart knew, more than glory and honor, I need love and somehow, I’ve never really known what love is.
Suddenly these Christians who seemed so foolish, who were mocked, who were killed, who I’ve dismissed all these years, maybe they see something I’ve never seen.  Maybe they’ve found something I need, that I was meant to have.  Suddenly, these strangers feel like brothers and sisters.  This Son of God: Jesus this Jew from Nazareth, He might be real.  If He is who they say He is, I need this: this faith they seem to have.
My Jesus, My Lord, that day I met you!  I’ve never been the same!  It was the best day of my life!  Forgive me for all the years it took for me to find You.  How can I go back to the way I was?  I can’t!  I’d rather die than leave you, now that I found You.
These men I’ve served with, fought with, bled with, these brothers in arms who I’ve come to know.  How can I not share this with them?  If I don’t at least try to bring them to You Jesus, I mind as well be their enemy!
Jesus, I don’t know what’s going to happen.  I used to doubt myself and hate my past, but I know-better now.  You brought me just where I needed to be: right here.  I have to go where You are needed.
I don’t care what happens to me.  Your love is all I need.  I Trust Your strength, not mine!  May my strength be Yours.  I won’t insult You by worrying about what I will say, what I will do, to make You known.  I know You found me, saved me and raised me-up for a reason.
I’m Yours.  I belong to you.  Make-me Your servant.  Make-me Your soldier.  I’m not afraid of anything anymore.  I’ve never felt so alive, so loved.  I can’t imagine my life without you now and I’d rather die than lose You!

Wherever this path leads, lead me Lord.  Your life in me is all that matters now.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019


A friend of mine lives on a farm about a forty minute drive from the parish.  He is having a rough go of it lately and it is not because of the snow and cold.  It is because of woodpeckers.  He has a wood house and the woodpeckers have targeted it for their pecking of wood.  He has tried everything.  He put up fake owls, he started blasting “woodpeckers in distress” calls over loudspeakers, freshly painted his house (as was recommended by experts) but nothing works.  Every day there is a couple of more holes, about half an inch across, many of which are clean through the siding.  So he has to go out and fill in the holes almost every day.  He is not happy.

He can’t do anything to kill the woodpeckers.  They are federally protected and he could get into a hole basket full of trouble if he resorted to that.  Yet if he and his wife should conceive their child, they have a federally protected right to do to that child what it is illegal to do to that woodpecker.  With the woodpecker we say, “Well, it may greatly upset your life but you going to have to find a way to cope with it.  That’s life.”  When it comes to their child we say, “Well, if he is going to greatly upset your life, you can get rid of him.  That’s life.”

I am not for the overturning of the protection of woodpeckers.  Maybe we could extend the rights to humans in the womb (and extend to the parents more assistance than we do to woodpecker sufferers - which I know many of you do!)

Today is the national day of prayer for the legal protection of human life in the womb.  Please consider offering a prayer and engaging in some action, exercising the rights, privileges, dignity and power that you have on behalf of one who currently, legally has none of these in our country.

Monday, January 21, 2019


So I guess I owe the Weather Bureau an apology.  I have grown so jaded to the threats of the end of the modern world as we know it due to an impending snow storm that I just rolled my eyes as they predicted the great snow storm of 2019.
On Friday, Marcy asked if we wanted anything from the grocery store and we requested our usual; bread, milk and eggs.  A little while later she texted to say that we weren't getting ANYTHING.  People were going mad stocking up for the impending snowmageddon.  "They were out of eggs, milk and bread, carts and parking spots!  I need to go to confession."
On the one hand, I suppose it is good that people are making sure they are prepared for an emergency.  But seriously, when was the last time we were trapped in our homes for more than two days even the worst storms?  
Meanwhile everybody is stuck with gallons of milk, eggs and bread.
I mean, you've got to do SOMETHING with all that food!  Right?

Friday, January 18, 2019


Directly across the street from Saint Sebastian is a park known as Elm Hill Park, an interesting name since was mostly swamp land and a pond until it was developed.  The story is that when this was the very edge of town and this swamp land was mostly covered with trees, a man by name of Arthur Marks owned this property and had a cabin on it for hunting; Forest Lodge being a rather generous title for the building.  Later the land was donated to the city and as the area developed it became a park. 

Now we come to the part that plays a role in the history of the rectory.  In the 1930s the WPA built a building in the park known as Forest Lodge.  The building, clearly visible from the rectory below the dense foliage of the trees, is two stories and built of stone.  The top floor was an apartment for the caretaker of the park.  He lived and took care of the grounds.  His family lived with him.  The bottom floor was a small hall with two stone fireplaces out of which the caretaker was expected to run “passive forms of recreational activities,” the most popular of which was renting out skates for area the city would flood each year as a skating rink for the children of the neighborhood. 

Of course it became too expensive and problematic to keep this arrangement going.  Over the years the building took on other uses.  It was a preschool, a haunted house and a building out of which children’s activities where run.  The city then moved to the idea of community centers, built a larger building a few blocks away, and Forest Lodge sat almost vacant for ten years.  It seemed to me a waist to have the building just sit there.  If the parish could take it over, we could improve the building, keep positive activities going in the park, and give the parish much needed space to expand.

After some initial time feeling each other out over the idea, the city took us on a tour of the building.  It was in sore shape.  The previous winter the boiler had exploded sending red sediment everywhere.  The current boiler had not been maintained and pipes were leaking all over the place.  There was no air conditioning, there was water damage in the basement, and a general state of dilapidation all around.  This happens to buildings out of use for ten years.

To be continued . . . 

Thursday, January 17, 2019


The good thing about being mad at God is that it is evidence that there is still a relationship there.    One cannot be mad at someone with whom they are not somehow still connected.  The opposite of love is not hate (or anger) it is indifference.  Indifference is a total lack of concern or care (or even thought!) for the other.  They might as well not exist.  Anger means there is still something to be redeemed and healed.

The first question to ask is, “Is being mad at God legitimate?”  When the wheels fall off in life it is so much easier to have someone (or Someone) to blame.  It happened because of THIS PERSON!  ARG!”  When it is difficult to place it on a person (or we don’t want to face that we might be at fault) and we look around, there is always God Who is a handy target.  “It was the woman that YOU put here with me!” said Adam looking to share the blame.

“How could God let anyone get away with that sin in this world?  If I were God I would (zap that person out existence - make so they couldn’t hurt anyone - make the weak strong enough to beat them up . . . )”  But if God took away man’s ability to sin, He would ipso facto take away our ability to love.  If I put a pie in front of you and your worse enemy, you might have the choice to offer him a piece or smash it in his face.  If God takes away the second option and, acting in your nature, you may only give him a piece, then you really can’t take credit for it.  It isn’t really love.  That is why we can say that a squirrel can act lovingly but they don’t really love you.  So if God did not allow people to sin, then we wouldn’t really be able to love either.

If people chose the good and we were less secretive, that would take care of most of the tragedies in the world.  If we were more charitable, we could wipe out hunger, much illness and provide education for everybody.  It is to these things that Christ is constantly calling us and at these things the world is constantly and consistently falling short.  I suppose God could make us do the right things but then we would be a world with everything but love, heroes or saints.

If we were not steeped in original (and subsequent) sin, the world would be about 98% better I think.  That still leaves natural disasters though.  That is not as easy to contemplate.  One answer that is not very satisfactory is that before the fall, man and nature got along splendidly.  After the fall we see all kinds of natural disasters.  When things are set right, the balance will return, (The wolf will be guest of the lamb and all that.)  But I don’t find it very satisfying most of the time.

What natural disasters do provide is the opportunity for man to work with God in bringing relief and healing where some tragedy has happened, to bring aid, to bring comfort, to bring healing, to bring presence.  That is one of the things that I love about the Catholic Church.  While everyone else is rushing to have a presence at any given event, you most likely will find that the Catholic Church has already had a presence there for some time, is helping in time of disaster, and will be there long after the cameras and most others have left.  It is situations like these that help us prove our mettle.  

If a typhoon hit St. Sebastian would this be enough to get me through?  It would get me through a lot.  So would having God as a recourse rather than an adversary.  And, even through tears, it would be the idea that ultimately God will take care of me even if everything here was blown to smithereens and me along with it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY FOUND:  "By attempting to place himself at the center of all and to reduce all to himself, the man ruled by pleasure becomes the slave of all.  He finds only disillusionment and discuss in the miserable, fleeting possession he has made is ultimate end."  from Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.'s "Know the Love of God"


This Sunday is the Feast of Saint Sebastian!  Nathan McDevitt, student of graphic arts at the University of Akron, made this image of our patron saint for use this coming weekend.  Awesome!
 To help celebrate you are invited to a Potluck Dinner
 It was awesome at our last Theology on Tap sponsored by St. Hilary who is celebrating 60 years.
 Here is the next Theology on the Rocks
 M.W. saw this critter in Schneider Park!
 Fall classes are being announced!
This is cool.  This is his entire book read to you.  If you are doing something and need something good to listen to - here you go!

Thursday, January 10, 2019


Having a relationship with God is much like having a relationship with any person.  God is, after all, a person.  Granted, He is a Divine Person, but He is someone with Whom to be in a relationship just the same.  

All relationships develop.  Even as an infant, to a certain extent, one must learn who Dad is.  This happens by spending time together talking, playing, eating, learning what each likes - the gamut of what it is to be in a close relationship with another person.

How does one apply this to God?  It is no secret.  You spend time together, we are invited into each other’s activities, we learn about Him, talk with Him, do the things that He likes to do, etc.  In other words, don’t treat Him as though He were merely a force, an emergency dispatch Person, some distant being or only an historical figure.  He is alive and active all around you, calling you at every moment, desirous of you, shouting out for you, wanting to walk with you and be consciously with you.

BUT - if you don’t know how to do this - even if you pray every day - how do you get started?  Get started like you would with anybody that you want to get to know but can’t quite figure out how to fit into each other’s lives yet.  Start by holy flirting.  Whenever or wherever you come across Him, smile and send a hello - like a quick text.  If you are in a deadly meeting and God comes to mind, don’t think, “Gee, I’ll have to pray later,” send him a text prayer immediately.  “Hello God.  Me here.  Bored.  Thinking of you.”

Make a surprise visit to His house.  Pop in for just a moment.  “Hey God.  It’s me!  I was in the neighborhood and thought I’d pop in and say hi.”

Open yourself up to a message from Him.  Make yourself available.  “Okay God, what do you want me to learn, understand or do today?  Who do you want me to meet?  Send me someone to do something for today.”

Spy on God.  Read a little of His history (Scripture.)  I bet His mom would just love for you to read about her Son since they didn’t have photo albums back them.  When you start, it doesn’t have to be an hour sloshing through the genealogy.  Take 5 minutes and pick a verse.

Also get to know His friends and find out more about Him through them.  The saints have all kinds and various insights into Him.

All relationships are two way streets.  It won’t be all God.  He respects you too much.  He is like the Good Neighbor Who sends cookies over to your house and sits out on His front porch and calls out, “Hello!” and invites you over dinner.  “Come on over!  I’d love to have you for dinner anytime!  There is always a place at the table for you whenever.”  We just have to stop a frantic life, walk up to the railing of the porch and choose to set the date.  

Tuesday, January 8, 2019


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "You can knock off the King's head once.  But you can knock off the King's hat any number of times."  from G. K. Chesterton's, "What's Wrongs with the World."

QUOTE II:  "Thrift is poetic because it is creative; waste is unpoetic because it is waste."  same source


E. F. sent in THIS article about a house of discernment in the Diocese of Shrewbury in response to the possible idea of creating something in Akron.

Below is an advertisement by Henninger's that I found thought provoking.  Let me begin by saying bravi to all of the people who worked on the project.   BUT WHAT I FIND INTERESTING (and this is not meant as a slight to Henninger's) is that for many years progress and art would have reversed these pictures (or worse.)  When I was in junior high school I asked my pastor when will the Catholic Church stop ruining their churches.  He responded, and I quote, "When all of the money to be made wrecking the churches has been accomplished, they will then make a killing returning them all to their former splendor."  Quote a prophet that Fr. Joe.

 Here are some possible events for you:

Here is a picture from our Steel Drum concert.  I was really praying that we would get at least 20 people there.  In the end there was over 100 people at St. Paul in Akron!  Thank you so much for coming out!
If you would like to see a quick video snippet of the ACA Community steel drum band, go HERE.  And remember - we are always looking for new members.  Go HERE to find out more.

Sunday, January 6, 2019


It has been a while since I have posted I know.  It was a busy advent/Christmas season (so far.)  Big concert today too!  Well, maybe not big - but it is big to us.  Our first steel drum concert at St. Paul (4PM).  Anyway, I wanted to get back to posting but could not think of anything.  Then, in prayer, this was revealed to me what must have happened all those years ago: