Thursday, February 28, 2019


Don’t take everything that you read at face value even if it appears in the newspaper and is authored by someone who we are told, “is a professor of history emeritus at Northwestern University” and “is the author of ‘Why I Am a Catholic.”  Intelligence, wisdom and understanding are all separate gifts and simply because someone has a “high education” does not mean that they have a grasp on all three of these gifts or that all of their arguments are altruistic.

Such is the case with the editorial in Monday’s Beacon Journal by Garry Wills.  Even if someone might agree with his conclusion, his path to it was a strained one at best.  There are so many problems with this article that one post would not be enough to point them all out.  At least for today two will be pointed out.

The first is an unneeded exaggeration to help make his point.  It is dishonest.  Remember when God said to Adam, “From that tree you shall not eat; for from the moment you eat from it, you are surely doomed to die.”  Gen 2:17.  Later, when speaking with Satan, Eve reports, “it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘you shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die!’"  This is an exaggeration of what God said and makes God appear less reasonable and maybe even a little vengeful.  So when Mr. Wills says that the Church says, “You can be gay so long as you don’t do anything about it,” one must ask the question if this is really what the Church (and as Catholics we would ask is that really what Christ) says?  What it does say is that one may not have a sexual relationship with someone who is not your opposite gender spouse.  Is there far more compassion and room for living in that than the rather sterile and cold, “you can’t do anything about it”?  If a person really believes in the truth of their argument, then they should not need to rely on exaggeration or slights in order to make it.  It should stand on its own.  This is the first sign that Mr. Wills is not exactly confident of his theological position.

The second big area of difficulty is his understanding and use of natural law (which he labels as a “quaint theory.”)  Again, if you need to make light of something in order to make your point, you’ve already begun to weaken your position.  

But here is where I am stuck.  I am not sure if Mr. Wills understands Natural Law so poorly that if he had a similar application in a term paper he might flunk the course, or if he understands it so brilliantly that he is attempting to misapply it so ingeniously in order to lead people astray.  He makes the misleading statement that, “the first biological use of an activity is the only permissible use of that activity.”  (Again, see the Eve problem above.)  This would mean then, that a married couple is not permitted to enjoy sexual relations, that they must only engage in it for procreative purposes.  This is “absurd” he says.  As proof, he says that if we truly follow Natural Law then eating should only be for fuel and we would no longer be able to eat wedding cake or drink champagne.  I would agree with him if this actually had anything to do with Natural Law or actual Church teaching.  Yet he uses this example to say, in essence, if you see that as absurd, then one could logically see the ban on sexual relations outside of traditional marriage as absurd.  But here, once again, he hurts his case.

A married couple can enjoy sex.  There is a broad spectrum of activities in which they may engage.  They may, so to speak, eat cake and drink champagne.  What they may not do is eat things that are not good for them.  We are not permitted by Natural Law to eat road tar for the same reason a person should not put sugar in the gas tank of their car.  Neither should a person eat far more than they need for sustenance (that is called gluttony.)  Except in cases of emergency, we should not try ingesting food through orifices that are not designed for the intake of nutrition.  This is Natural Law, not the banning of champagne toasts.  

Mr. Wills did have some good points not the least of which is the unhealthy keeping of secrets that should not be kept.  But his arguments are so poorly concocted as to do more harm to his point than good - at least for those who are will not to just accept whatever it is that they are reading but to think well for themselves.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: "[T]he new media instruct he public on how to think and what they need.  Some of this subtle tutoring can be funny, especially in advertising.  It led Neil Postman to see American television commercials as a form of, 'religious parables, organized around a coherent theology.  Like all religious parables [television commercials] put forward a concept of sin, intimations of the way to redemption, and a vision of heaven.  They also suggest what are the roots of evil, and what are the obligations of the holy.'"  from Archbishop Chaput's, "Render unto Caesar"


Deacon Stavarz sent in THIS article, "A Letter to an Aspiring Priest."  Thanks.

8 and a half minutes with Denzel Washington:

Sunday, February 24, 2019


There is a protocol in the Church that serves to make the process of doing things in the best possible way without hurting feelings.  Say, for example, that somebody is going to be moved.  There is a lot of discussion that takes place first with all the various people involved.  Each of these persons are told to keep matters under their hat until it is officially announced.  This way nobody sits on the outside looking in saying, "Why didn't anybody ask ME about this" when, in fact, perhaps they just didn't get to it yet. Or if the process falls through, there is no embarrassment in changing course.  It may seem silly but in the long run, the "hush rule" serves us well.

THAT BEING SAID - Do you have any idea how difficult it is to know something and not be able to talk about it???  So you find ways to satisfy that itch as well as being loyal to something the bishop has asked you to do.  You officially have a discussion about nothing.

Years ago, my classmate and I were out to dinner with some friends and we both noticed that the others was studiously not talking about certain topics.  Spidey senses went up and he asked:
Of course this is all well and good unless you really DON'T know what is going on.  That makes the conversation more difficult.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "It is quaint that people talk of separating dogma from education.  Dogma is actually the only thing that cannot be separated from education.  It is education.  A teacher who is not dogmatic is simply a teacher who is not teaching."  from G. K. Chesterton's, "The Problem with the World."

QUOTE II:  "It is. of course, part of that modern morbidity that insists on treating the State (which is the home of man) as a sort of desperate expedient in time of panic.  This terrified opportunism is also the original on the Socialist and other schemes."  same source


Now that I have time to think I realized I COMPLETELY MISSED
Thank you for sticking around.  Special shout out to those in the top 3 places after the good ole' U.S., Russia, France and Germany.  And coming in at 10th is the Netherlands which means more than it once did since I took the DNA test and found out that I am supposedly 17% from this area.  (Who was traveling in Slovenia and decided to stay for a while on my Father's side????)  If you are reading this I am sending out a prayer to you.  God bless!

Just before leaving on vacation I was walking the dogs in Schneider Park and saw the bell tower lit up like a golden beacon for West Akron.  Glad I had my phone on me to share it with you.

Great video.  8 minutes:

Thursday, February 7, 2019


It is going to become more challenging to be Catholic I believe.  BUT I also think it is going to be a lot more fun - at least as long as you keep in mind that the Holy Spirit will do what needs to be done as long as we cooperate and don't think we will do it with our own clever selves.

There have been a couple of things lately.  One was the Gillette commercial and another was an article in the Akron Beacon Journal recently concerning the "Problem with Christian Schools" that on first blush seem to make some modicum of sense but something leaves the viewer/reader unsettled. If you feel that way, don't shake it off - delve into it.  Really find out what is nagging at the back of your mind.  Most often it is a subtle but vital bit of ill-logic.  It may not pop out at you at first.  But a bit of digging and prayer will help make it pop.  

Once that makes its presence known to you - write down as if trying to assist someone else to understand.  Then be prepared to use it (with friends over coffee, on your blog, in a letter to an editor . . . )

The article in the ABJ, for example, sighted what the Associated Press writer described as intolerance, Christian schools teaching things that are not tolerant of other people's ideas.  A person who began a hashtag movement thinks that because of this, Christians schools might need to be censored in some way (my words, not his.)  The oddity of this is that he wants to be intolerant of people he deems intolerant (not to mention he singles out Christian schools as the problem, not schools of other faiths - Jewish, Muslim & so forth, not private schools, not home schools, etc. . .) which gives the appearance that there is more going on here than just a discussion about tolerance.

So I wrote a terrible letter to the editor of the ABJ, let it sit for a while, went back and wrote a better one and sent it in and they were kind enough to print it.  Thank you ABJ.  Here is the letter:

Dear Editor,

Sunday’s article, “Hashtag stirs debate over Christian schools” brought up a very important point.  The author is concerned about those who would, “breed intolerance toward people with a different outlook.”  Oddly enough the solution seems to be to do away with those who have a different point of view than he.  There also seems to be a particular bias against Christian schools as there was no mention of other faith based schools or even the difficulties occurring in our public schools.  Does this not go against the very tolerance the author desires?

Perhaps it is that there are certain aspects of non-governmental schools over which he would like ever more government control.  This is a fine thing as long as you have a benevolent, efficient and intelligent government that happens to agree with you.  But what about when that ruling body turns against you and what you believe?  Then where do you turn?

Thank goodness we have a variety of educational institutions in these United States from public schools, to private schools, religious schools, to home schooling.  They keep us diverse and allow us to tackle problems creatively from multiple paradigms.  Though there are troubles with each of these ways of learning from time to time, doing away with one or the other of them or forcing them to bend to the will of a government is not the answer in a free nation.   We should celebrate tolerance and diversity.  We do not accept lack of choice for our political candidates, in our news sources or for a brand of aspirin.  We should not accept it in our educational choices either.

The Rev. John A. Valencheck
St. Sebastian Parish, Akron

Tuesday, February 5, 2019


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "So much time and energy is waisted in futile worrying and in endless discussions about what is needed and how to go about getting it.  Simply present your needs to Me with a trusting heart and I will show you that I am a lavish provider for those who let Me take charge of their needs."  from the book, "In Sinu Jesu"

QUOTE II:  "I will allow you to experience disappointment and failure only so that it may be clear to all that this is My work, and I am doing for the sake of My Bride the Church, and for the sake of My priests, those who I have called to love My Church even as I love her."  same source


P. V. sent in THIS article about a Dad giving strategies on how to go to Mass with young ones.

J. N. sent in THIS link to podcasts of the radio show "Catholic Close Up"

Some events to consider:

 Look who is going to be at the Ite Project Game On Night at St. Paul on Feb 8th!
 GREAT concert coming up.
 Reserve the date for a Spectacular Evening at St. Sebastian..
Here's some encouragement:
Some thoughts:

This poinsettia was put outside during the sub-zero weather looking as though it were blooming in the warmest of summers.  That is because it freezes almost instantly in such cold weather.  I will stay looking fresh for as long as it stays that cold.  Of course, today it looks terrible.
Light shining through the front door onto the crucifix.  I thought it interesting.
2.5 minutes to help understand exactly what is going on:

Monday, February 4, 2019


I've always thought that, when it was possible, it always good to have more than one priest at a parish (which is becoming a rarer possibility.)  Just like one size really doesn't fit all (believe me, I would know, with my monkey legs and arms) one priest can't be to the liking of all people.  I know I am not everybody's cup of tea.  What person could be?  

Fr. Anthony and I are pretty different.  Our styles of ministry differ greatly.  If our pastoral ministry were symbolized by types of restaurants, it might look like this:
There is a time and a type of person who likes fine dining and sitting around and enjoying a meal.  There are other people who like take out - to grab food on the way to the next thing.  If you want a very personal encounter with a priest when getting your throat blessed on St. Blaise Day, you go to Fr. Anthony, if you want your throat blessed so that you can make it out of morning Mass in time to get to dinner, you go to me.
In the end, then, when you have variety, everybody wins.