Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cleveland Rocks (part 2)

Sunday morning, Fr. V's parishioners had the distinct displeasure of having me preach to them. Strangely enough, I actually knew someone who was in the crowd, as she was returning to Cincinnati and decided to stop in at Mass. (She is a student in the Athenaeum's Lay Pastoral Ministry Program: "He looks really familiar..... OH MY GOSH!)

Actually, they were all very nice in allowing an outsider to steal their pulpit for a Mass, and I enjoyed preaching there.

Sunday afternoon was spent at an Art Show, I go to Cleveland and buy a small wooden model of Great American Smallpark (Reds' Ballpark), how's that?

Returning, we had a few more beverages before playing Bocci (who won again?)

Fortified by liquid courage, Fr. V enters the Hobbit Door at the base of the Bell Tower:

Cyber bro and sis no longer, faces put with names (actual names at that, too!) were the best part of the weekend:

Catch Phrase was the order for the evening, thanks to CK (in the foreground, MJ and Fr. V behind). I had to get the team to answer 'bullfrog' so I started (in a bad singing voice): 'Jeremiah was a ___________" PROPHET! one of my team yelled in strong voice! Huh? Alas, the Bocci victory was short lived. (one can tell Fr. V's had some acting background, as he is animated. Plus with his wingspan, LOOKOUT! But, no one went to the hospital.)

Word was, there should be a 'Called to Gather' conference soon, but when is yet to be determined. Great times had by all!

My review of 'Exotic Cleveland'

Since others have already written about the events that concern this past weekend, I submit to you, dear Reader, my attempt to write them out anew that others may come to know and beleive that goodness is still present in the world!

Fr. V, Adoro, and Uncle Jim have all written about the Fourth Adam's Ale Convocation, this will be my take from a unique perspective.
Unfortunately, I didn't get many shots (make that any shots) of St. Sebastians. Since the architecture was very similar to my home here in the Nati, I heartily disagreed with the claim that the church is Modern Romanesque, as there's nary an arch or dome in sight, neo Classical seems much more apropo. The stain glass windows, at first, were modern to me. Yet, as I looked at them more, I saw more and more symbols coming through. Maybe Fr. V. will post more of them soon?
Thursday night was two Akron institutions: Luigi's Pizzaria, the inspiration for Funky Winkerbean, and some fantastic ice cream parlor, almost as good as Graeters! In between was a viewing of Bella, the movie. I tell you, the producers of that film are ingenious, as they have rigged it some way that it releases some sort of irritant that makes my eyes water like crazy at the end. What can I say, I have the same allergies as my father.
Friday brought the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, on this 150th anniversary of the Apparitions there. A truly gorgeous place, you'd never know it was near the heart of the major city. Here is a picture from the station pathway:
And a stained glass window from the chapel, which tells the story of Lourdes. Saying Midday Prayer together and recitation of the Rosary (which someone needs to review the order of the mysteries, too!) was quite nice. A bit of a dimension of an actual pilgramige to Lourdes! (now if only we would've said Mass there.....)
I stopped over at the CK's place while Fr. V. went back to hear confessions (ahh, the duties of a pastor), before heading to Lillian Marie's place for dinner. Look at all those brats! LM's dad was a master chef and fed us quite well. The selection of Great Lakes was also quite nice, especially after the blessing! (in Latin of course!)
Saturday morning, Fr. V. ended up having the early Mass at the parish, which was unexpected. I would've joined him, but instead said Mass at the Cure of Ars altar (he has side altars!) instead. V. noticed that John Vianney was smiling extra big that day!
After the visit to the 'Vatican Splendors' exhibit, we returned for the afternoon Mass at St. Sebastians and the obligatory repast. Fr. V's homily was quite excellent (keep preaching like that, I told him, and the Church will be full every week!) The parishioners were treated to an extra treat: Sanctus Bells! (except we didn't ring them at the Sanctus....?)
From left to right MJ, Bob and Jane (LM's parents) in Fr. V's dining room:
Here Aunt Roz and Uncle Jim, with LM

to be continued.....

What's in your sandbox?

Looking to the right as you enter Interstate 71 north from downtown Cincinnati, you see the following:
Is this a case of 'he who dies with the biggest toys wins'?

Look just before the Humana building in the pic below to see the job trailer.

For the uninitiated, dad's company (with mom, a sister and a brother) are putting up a hotel near downtown. When I first posted, I wondered if Dad would ever stop by for lunch. He actually called about last Thursday, alas I was on my way to Akron/Cleveland. BUT, he did call and prove me wrong. I am humbled.

If you thought the Carmen was bad

Check out Beaker's take on Ode to Joy!

Looking for something to do?

The Vocation Office has released the schedule of events for the upcoming year.


Seeking to learn more about the Faith, and how to defend it?

Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center is hosting Gary Michuta, author of Why Catholic Bibles are Bigger and The Gospel According to James McCarthy, in a series of talks entitled: Defending the Faith, Beyond the Basics. Topics covered include Authority, Sacraments, Mary and the Saints, The Catholic Church and the Bible, Salvation and more. The lectures run on Saturdays from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM, once a month from September through February. There is a fee, but it looks well worth it. Call Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center at 513-351-9800 for more information or to register.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Registration is Open

for the Call of the King Conference.

Admit it, you've got nothing better going on September 21st!

The Importance of Prayer for our Priests

While I was away enjoying all the fine comforts Akron can offer (Luigi's anyone?); the Catholic Telegraph (paper for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati) ran my next column:

The Importance of Prayer for our Priests

One of the downfalls of being a full time teacher when I was a newly ordained priest was the fact that I was scheduled for the early morning Mass every day before heading off to the high school. While ‘morning people’ might rejoice in this prospect, it was admittedly a struggle for me to adjust my schedule to a 6:30 a.m. start time. Much to my surprise, a relationship quickly formed between me and the sixty to eighty attendees of that early Mass, and I started to look forward and enjoy these quiet Masses before heading off to the high school. I realized that just as I was sacrificing for my parishioners, they too were sacrificing for me; a family relationship grew and we all flourished.
It was an odd shift happening before my eyes: I, a celibate priest, was becoming a father. Even though most of the congregation was much older than me, I was giving them the strength and encouragement to start the day, just as my human father used to do when I was much younger. We had become a family, and I know now that just as I was praying for them, they were praying for me. We were sealed in Christ, united to become His Body, present to the world.
This reciprocal prayer becomes a vital and necessary aspect of life in the parish, for it is in prayer that the body is truly made one. However, it is not an easy thing to foster, especially as our lives grow more and more hectic, both in the families of the parish, but also on the part of the priest. Hence, we must make this union of prayer much more explicit than it ever has been before.
Into this need, the Vocation Office is proud to announce the formation of a new apostolate within the Archdiocese of Cincinnati: St. Michael Prayer Warriors. This movement is designed to bring the lay faithful of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati together in prayer for our Archbishop, priests and seminarians, as well as an increase of vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
There are two reasons to bring this movement together. First, prayer is effective. I can tell in my life when my prayer life has grown weak or I have neglected my prayer responsibilities; things that usually come very easy become very difficult. Secondly, as St. Paul reminds us: love is the mark of the Christian community, and the expression of love is to sacrifice and pray for one another.
However, we have not been formed in prayer as we should, and the question arises: How do we pray for each other? It seems like such a simple question, yet the spiritual masters have been writing on this very topic for 2,000 years.
To help begin the apostolate of St. Michael Prayer Warriors, the Vocation Office is hosting the inaugural ‘Call of the King Conference’ on Sunday, September 21, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the evening at the Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center, 5440 Moeller Avenue in Norwood, Ohio. The event features Fr. Anthony Brausch, speaking on the pursuit of individual holiness and renewal within the Church. Several priests and seminarians will also speak on how the prayers of the faithful have made a difference in the following of their vocation as a priest. The event is free of charge, so bring your friends and fellow parishioners as well.
Your priest has given up much to follow his call, this is a small sacrifice to make for him and his holiness. For more information, visit

What we are dealing with.

Over at Creative Minority Report, Matthew speaks of the upcoming retelling on Waugh's great 'Brideshead Revisted.' I can't get into the details of the movie, but this jumped out at me:

In asking the screenwriter of the film which seems to bastardize the great Catholic novel what the story was about he said:
"In that tug between individual freedom and fundamentalist religion, there’s a story that’s apposite for our time. In the modern age that’s something we’re all dealing with.”
Fundamentalist religion? So, in that little phrase he is, I believe, referencing the Muslim terrorists who we are currently at war with but ascribing it to Catholic characters.

To be a serious, committed Catholic Christian = the demented notions of religion that brought us to September 11th. Nevermind that Catholicism is truly the religion of peace, and the fount of more charitable action than any other.

More than anything, I think, this is causing the so-called 'vocations crisis.' I have spoken with many young men who feel a call to the priesthood, yet they are so often maligned by friends and family that they cannot respond in the generous and open way that a vocation to the priesthood demands.

What are we to do? Simple: live out your faith in a joyfilled and exuberant manner, find the joy in the midst of suffering, offer your praises to God first and foremost, make it a point to be a committed, intentional disciple of Christ. The witness of the lay faithful who do these things will help to support those called to the priesthood and/or religious life.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Just in case you're bored

this was running through my head all weekend, so I had to share:

Back from Cleveland

HAd a great time 'up nort there, don'tcha know!'

While I get my thoughts together on the weekend, check out this video montage.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Save the Date!

The Call of the King Conference

Throughout history, the universal call to holiness has been the path to renewal and revival in the Church. From St. Benedict’s building of monasticism, through Sts. Dominic and Francis embracing poverty and St. Ignatius of Loyola’s challenge to teaching the faith up to today’s new orders embracing the wisdom of Tradition; all movements of renewal have been led by great saints who have called the faith to a new embrace of the Gospel. During the inaugural ‘Call of the King’ Conference, Fr. Anthony Brausch, faculty member of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, will apply the lessons of history to the modern day and priests and seminarians will share their testimony as to how the prayers of the laity have helped and encouraged them in their response to God’s call to be a priest.

If you are looking for something proactive to do in support of the priesthood and vocations, be at the Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center on Sunday, September 21, 7:00 in the evening for our inaugural Call of the King Conference. The conference is free and open to all; see you there!

Adoration is available before the event for those who wish to avail themselves of this most precious gift of Christ in the Sacrament.

I'm leaving, on a.... urm..... car?

The long planned trip to Exotic Cleveland, well, actully Akron and then Cleveland has finally arrived. The diocese in Northeast Ohio will never be the same!

I've got the camera packed, and will be sure to give a full report on Monday.

Have a safe weekend, all!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Stuck in neutral

I'm sure you've never been there: the last day before an extended weekend, got most of the immediate things done, waiting for one or two things to come back to you before you can hike out for the weekend, not wanting to start anything new, and just trying to kill time.

Yep, I'm there. My candle is down to a stub and I am greatly looking forward to a few days away. I really don't want to start anything new because I will not get it finished and will have to restart it all next week. Yet, I need to get a few updates out and the 'review team' has had a busy day and my things are pushed to the bottom of the list. So, here I am.

Oh, I finally got around to adding some pictures to the blog, since Adoro yelled at me. Also, you'll notice a new link on the sidebar to CMGBooking. Yep, I am now a part of the Catholic Media Group and available for speaking engagements. I have to admit that I do not feel worthy to be a part of some of the heavy hitters on that line up, but we'll give it a shot. You can find them at

He is a kind and gentle soul.

Michael Savage has made a tremendous mistake. If you haven't heard, he made quite disparaging remarks about children with autism.

Parents are understandable up in arms, but the best response comes from news anchor Jim Watkins:

But he is a kind and gentle soul, who loves his family and caretakers in whatever way he’s capable of loving. He always does his best, and when he smiles, it’s enough to make the sun come out from behind the clouds. Liam is definitely “somewhere” in life, Mr. Savage, but it’s a place I’m afraid you don’t have the capacity to understand or relate to.But he is a kind and gentle soul, who loves his family and caretakers in whatever way he’s capable of loving. He always does his best, and when he smiles, it’s enough to make the sun come out from behind the clouds. Liam is definitely “somewhere” in life, Mr. Savage, but it’s a place I’m afraid you don’t have the capacity to understand or relate to.But he is a kind and gentle soul, who loves his family and caretakers in whatever way he’s capable of loving. He always does his best, and when he smiles, it’s enough to make the sun come out from behind the clouds. Liam is definitely “somewhere” in life, Mr. Savage, but it’s a place I’m afraid you don’t have the capacity to understand or relate to.But he is a kind and gentle soul, who loves his family and caretakers in whatever way he’s capable of loving. He always does his best, and when he smiles, it’s enough to make the sun come out from behind the clouds. Liam is definitely “somewhere” in life, Mr. Savage, but it’s a place I’m afraid you don’t have the capacity to understand or relate to.

His whole response is here.

As this wonderfully insightful father points out, there is much more to being successful than getting a job, earning lots of money and having a big house. People like Savage will never figure that out.

Blessings to all those families who have children with special needs. May Our Lord richly reward you.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Salesian Brother

Some men are called to the Religious Life, but not to the priesthood. Often, it is felt that going to a monastery is the only way to fulfill this type of calling, but not so!

Outside da Box hosts a good video on the Salesian Brother.

The Point of the Priesthood

is not to glory in the power of celebrating the Sacraments, but in helping the flock come to a deeper realization of their encounter with Christ. Fr. Mike, OP, of the Catherine of Siena Institute has a great reflection on the interplay between priest and laity: (snippet)

Each of us who have been baptized share in Jesus' three-fold office of priest, prophet and king. When I was ordained, my sharing in priesthood was directed towards the Church itself as a minister of the sacraments; my prophetic ministry fulfilled as I proclaim the Gospel and teach. Most priests (myself included before I began working with the Institute) do not know that our royal office focuses on calling forth and celebrating the spiritual gifts (charisms) of the laity and coordinating them so that our mission described above can be fulfilled. Administration of the parish is actually a small – and much less interesting – part of my royal office.

For some ideas on how to accomplish this, read their excellent Parish: Mission or Maintenance booklet:

A ground-breaking presentation by Fr. Michael Sweeney and Sherry Weddell given to priests, seminarians, and lay students in Rome in February, 2000. The Parish: Mission or Maintenance? offers a challenging, comprehensive, and pratical look at the Church's teaching about the apostleship of the laity, the essential part of the priestly office in forming lay apostles, the importance of gifts discernment, and the untapped potential of the local parish in making real apostolic formation and support available to every Catholic. (Also available bound, in a 40 page book, at nominal cost. Order your copy by phone (toll free) 1-(888) 878-6789).

Go to my brothers and tell them...

Today is the Feast of Mary Magdalene, the devoted contemporary of Jesus, and first witness of His Ressurrection.

I've posted my thoughts on the readings and the feast over at MERELY * CATHOLIC, where I will be posted daily reflections, or at least somewhat daily reflections.

Blog Fathers!

With heartfelt thanks to Adoro, Lillian Marie and Uncle Jim, I humbly accept the title of 'Blog Father' and add the pic to the side bar.

(Congrats to Fr. Valencheck for the inaugural membership, as well!)
Can I nominate someone else? Thanks!
I hereby nominate Fr. Fox of Bonfire of the Vanities for membership in the 'Blog Fathers' as well, for his jumping into the cyber maylay while still in seminary eventually helped me build up the courage to start this very room.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

One Word Meme

(Blatantly stolen from Simply Catholic)

1. Where is your cell phone? desk
2. Your significant other? heaven
3. Your hair? gone
4. Your mother? home
5. Your father? upset
6. Your favorite things? nothing
7. Your dream last night? wired
8. Your favorite drink? Laphroig18
9. Your dream/goal? heaven
10. The room you’re in? living
11. Your church? Catholic
12. Your fear? littlechildrenwithstinkydiaperswhoseparentsarenowheretobefound
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? here
14. Where were you last night? Colerain
15. What you’re not? sane
16. Muffins? bagel?
17. One of your wish list items? Mini
18. Where you grew up? nowhere'sville
19. The last thing you did? blog
20. What are you wearing? mindyourownbusiness!
21. Your TV? stormedout
22. Your pets? nil
23. Your computer? working
24. Your life? full
25. Your mood? inneedofvacation
26. Missing someone? bro
27. Your car? Mazola (bonus points for anyone who gets the reference)
28. Something you’re not wearing? socks
29. Favorite store? autozone
30. Your summer? non-existant
31. Like (love) someone? BVM
32. Your favorite color? purple
33. Last time you laughed? today
34. Last time you cried? mendontcry
35. Who will re-post this? adoro

Living the Sacramentality of Marriage

Holiness of Family
As we gather this day to discuss living out the Sacramentality of the Marriage Covenant (and don’t worry, we’ll get back to what exactly that means in a bit), the first thing to note is that from the foundation of the world, the family has been the most basic unit: Creation was not complete until God had found a suitable partner for Adam in Eve; the covenant with Abraham necessarily involved Sarah; and eventually down to Jesus’ time where even He, God’s Divine Son. Lord of the Universe, Creator of the World, did not just appear on this earth in a blaze of glory, but came as a member of family.

Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, learned his prayers at the feet of Mary and Joseph. Mary, herself, was formed to be able to say ‘yes’ to the Angel’s invitation by the example of Anna and Joachim, her parents. It was in these homes that they learned to pray, read the Scriptures, that Jesus began to discover the richness of the human condition; fostered in relationship with his mother and foster father; with his rich array of cousins and friends; the wisdom of the Scribes and Rabbi’s. Because we do not know much about the ‘hidden years’ of Jesus’ life, we can easily forget that He, too, was raised in a loving family.

Priest as Living Icon of Christ
Before we get too far along, though, I have a caveat I have to make. It must be remembered that nearly all that I do is focused on the priesthood, specifically the priest as a living icon of Christ. Through the leadership, teaching, and sanctifying office of the priest, Christ reassures and comforts His people. Through the priest, Christ is still present to His Church. The priest is a living Sacrament of Christ, and to help make this clear, a quick story:

I live at the Cathedral downtown and work a few blocks down the street, near the library. Luckily, my walk down 8th Street is quite nice, as Garfield/Piatt park is there, and it can even be somewhat cool during these hot summer days, as long as you avoid the pigeons. One day, my first summer in the Office, I was walking home. It had been a long day, some things hadn’t gone right (or at least as I thought should have!), and I still hadn’t adjusted to life in the office and life downtown. Frankly, I was missing the life of the parish. Well, I am moping along and someone stops me. He was sitting on one of the park benches, and looked at me and said: “Are you a priest?” Well, yeah, hence the fancy color and the black jacket, not comfortable in the summer! He looks back and asks: “Can you do me a favor?” I responded that I don’t give out money, I support the local charities. He came back with “No, I don’t want any money, I need a favor.” “Ok, what’s going on?” “Well, you see, I’m in a bit of trouble and I’m likely going to jail because I haven’t paid child support, could you send an email to my parents (as he wrote their address on a small slip of paper) to tell them that I am ok, that I love them, and I hope to see them soon?” I was dumbfounded. Why was he asking me, of all the hundreds of people that walk in front of him that entire day, to do this for him? Simply because, as a priest, I represented something much more than just my own limited abilities. I was Christ to him. I am always humbled by that awareness, as I am unworthy of such a status.

Married Life as a Living Icon of Christ
Now at this point, you are likely checking your program to see if you came to the right Church this evening: wasn’t this to be about the Sacrament of Marriage, and not priesthood? Yes, it is, but the reason I veered off into that territory (besides the fact that that’s what I get paid to talk about!), is that in the same way as I was recognized as a Christ figure while walking down the street, you, too, as a married couple, are also to be recognized as a Christ like figure.

Look at your wedding day, for some of you that was not so long ago, for others it might have been a year or two; and specifically the prayers that are prayed:
- The Love of husband and wife symbolizes and is modeled after the love of Christ for His Church.
- Heavenly Father, you established the marital covenant as the one gift that was not forfeited in Original Sin nor washed away in flood.
- He consecrates you in a special sacrament so that you may assume the duties of marital life in mutual and lasting fidelity.

These prayers all point to the fact that as a married couple, you too are called to be living icons of Christ! The fidelity and fruitfulness of marriage are reflections of Jesus’ fidelity and generous outpouring of self to us! So often in our world today, I think we look at marriage as just another thing, it is simply a rite of passage, something we have to do to keep mom and dad happy and stay in their will.

Marriage is not ‘just another thing!’ It is a Sacrament; it is an Institution that is Holy! It is an outward sign to us from God, instituted by Christ, to confer Grace not only on this unique married couple but an avenue of Grace for the entire world! Yikes, you thought I had it tough as a priest, your obligations are even harder!

Christ abundantly blesses Married Love
There is good news, however: you are not in this alone, Jesus promises that he will richly reward those who come to Him in prayer and in need. Two episodes from Scripture highlight this, the first from the Book of Tobit, the second from the Gospel of John. First, Tobit:

When the door was shut and Tobias and Sarah were alone on their wedding night, Tobias got out of bed and said to Sarah, “Sister, get up, and let us pray and implore our Lord that he grant us mercy and safety.” So she got up, and they began to pray and implore that they might be kept safe. Tobias began by saying,
“Blessed are you, O God of our ancestors,
and blessed is your name in all generations forever.
Let the heavens and the whole creation bless you forever.
You made Adam, and for him you made his wife Eve
as a helper and support.
From the two of them the human race has sprung.
You said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone;
let us make a helper for him like himself.’
I now am taking this kinswoman of mine,
not because of lust,
but with sincerity.
Grant that she and I may find mercy
and that we may grow old together.”
And they both said, “Amen, Amen.” Then they went to sleep for the night.

Have you ever wondered why Tobias is praying with such fervor? He is not Sarah’s first husband, not even the second or third; but her eighth! And, even worse, all seven previous have died the night of their marriage to Sarah. (She must’ve been quite the catch, to take that risk!) So, if Tobias sounds like he is praying to save his skin, he is!

The difference here, though, is that Tobias does not desire Sarah because of lust, but with sincerity, that he may find God through her. There is the key to the building and establishing of the relationship: it is through one another that you find Christ, that when you look in each other’s eyes, you are to see the face of Jesus! Wow!

And when we turn to Him in need, he does not give us a paltry little amount, rather he lavishes us with praise! The Gospel of John and the familiar Wedding Feast at Cana:

There was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

I love that, isn’t it nice: his disciple began to believe in him: John, the master of the understatement!

I just want to focus on one small aspect of this story, that of the wine. The details in the Gospel of John are always important, and it is easy to miss: six stone water jars are there, each holding twenty to thirty gallons of water. My rudimentary math skills start to get overwhelmed: that’s 120 to 180 gallons of wine! Ok, I’m from a big family, that likes to have a lot of fun, especially at weddings; but this way more than we could drink, and it is after they have already gone through a good amount. This is not just for the couple, but it is for them to share abundantly, generously! Holy smokes, the town’s gonna be buzzing for weeks!

He still pours out this amount of gift, this generously upon us today, that’s the amazing thing, and not just for me, but for me to share, and it is right there waiting for us to ask Him to provide it. If he's not listening, go talk to Mary, then.

Living Marriage as an Icon of Christ
The challenge, though, is how to put all of this into action. It is easy for a priest, we celebrate the Sacraments, we preach the word, and we govern a parish. This same framework can actually be a guide for living out the so-called Baptismal Priesthood as well, in the context of marriage, for at your baptism, you, too, were consecrated as a priest, prophet and king.

The Priestly Dimensions of Marriage
To be a priest means to offer blessing and sacrifice, to make something holy. As a married couple, the basic thing that you are called to sanctify is your life together, in the home. It begins, actually, with the marital act as a holy thing, as a way of coming to know Jesus in the total gift of self to the other. But it extends much beyond that one dimension. The home, just as it was for Mary and then Jesus, should be a house of prayer where the mystery of the Incarnation: God coming to dwell with us, is lived out on a daily basis. Therefore,
- Is there prayer before meals, in the morning and evening?
- Are special events and anniversaries celebrated first in prayers of thanksgiving to God?
- Are visitors welcomed as if they were Christ?

One family I know has a ‘prayer bucket’ on the middle of their dinner table. Inside the basket, the names of priests, friends, family, those who have had surgery or are in need of prayer, are kept, written on Popsicle sticks. At some during the meal, each child is to report on how they prayed for the person from the day before, and then he or she is to draw a new stick. It helps to grow the awareness that our lives are to be built in prayer: pray always! St. Paul tells us.

The Prophetic Dimensions of Marriage
My sister Tania has a good friend whose oldest child is 8 years old. Any guesses as to how many children she has? TEN! (including three sets of twins), so if you think your life is busy…. She even blogs, too! It helps me remember that I am never too busy to throw something up on my blog. She gets the questions: are they all yours? Do you know what causes this? Are you Catholic? They make a pill, you know... I am sure some of you here have heard the gamut before, as well. Instead of getting snippy and snapping back at people, she takes the time to gently show the joy that comes from a big family. Now, please, I know not everyone can handle that, my mom was slacker for stopping at six! But the point is to be able to take the opportunities presented to be a witness to your joy in Christ. Another friend, who is single, works at a large, multi-national consumer products company here in town, I won’t mention names but buy Fabreeze! She does presentations and training sessions all the time at work, and as people come in, she has her desktop background showing a picture of St. Peter’s Basilica, the Gesu’ Church in Rome, or her home parish. She uses the opportunity that she has to teach others about Catholicism. (My favorite story of her’s is the dragging of a Southern Baptist co-worker to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe on a Mexican Feast day, he nearly popped his top!)

As parents and grandparents, it is also forming your children in the importance of learning and practicing the faith. So, do your children see you come to confession regularly? Do you make it a point to go to Mass when you are on vacation? (There is no vacation exemption!) In the preparation for the Sacraments, take the extra step and renew your own commitment and understanding of what is being celebrated.

The Governing Dimensions of Marriage
What I mean by a ‘governing dimension’ is more along the lines of a stewardship dimension: the recognition that the gifts you have been given are not your own, but are simply loans to us from God. This is not just financial or monetary gifts, but also the gifts of children, the gifts of talents, the gift of an understanding ear when someone is in trouble. This is perhaps the hardest dimension to discuss because there are so many potential aspects that it can be hard to cover.

Significantly under this area, Jesus’ warning to the unnamed rich young man in Matthew 19 comes to mind. “It is harder for the camel to pass through the eye of the needle than the rich man to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.” It is not that we should go through life wearing only a burlap sack, but that we should go through life unencumbered by the trappings of material wealth. There is something to be said of living the simple life, for in the simple life, we find simple joys.

I recently read a blog post from a Catholic mom in Washington State where she described a ’40 trash bag challenge.’ Over eight weeks, she was determined to get rid of 40 bags of stuff that either was trash, recycled, or donated. In an email, she described how it became a joy to do so and her life is so much easier now. (By the way, I am preaching to myself first and foremost on this one!)

But we are not just stewards of material things; we are spiritual beings and have been given spiritual gifts as well. Therefore, to be good stewards we need to recognize what the particular charisms that God has given to me, and how is He asking me to use them for the building up of his Kingdom. Usually, these are easier to see in someone else than in the self, so for that reason I usually give parents a particular penance when they come to me for the Sacrament of Confession: pray for your children! Ok, not too penitential, but I give them specific things to pray about: ‘What are the unique gifts and talents that God has given to each one of your children?’ and ‘How is God asking you as their mother/father to nourish and enrich those gifts so that when you send them forth into the world, they go as confident and firmly committed Catholic Christians in the world?’ This can truly be a penance in the world!

Part of your struggle to be a living Icon of Christ in the world is that you must make your discipleship of Jesus intentional. The days of being totally immersed in a Catholic Culture, the so called ‘Catholic Ghetto,’ is over. You have to specifically choose to be Catholic in a world that is hostile. You have to radiate the joy that comes from truly knowing Christ in everything that you do. You have to live out what St. Paul says: “They will know we are Christians by our Love.” If you were to die tonight and be presented before the pearly gates, would there be enough evidence to convict you of being a Catholic Christian?

Now, I know when I say this, you are getting images of Mormon missionaries coming door to door asking about the Book of Mormon. That is not what I have in mind. The most effective witness is the joyfilled believer. That is what we are looking for and letting the Love of Christ radiate through all that you do.

God Bless.

I LOVE this Pope!

From the Holy Father's address to clergy and seminarians in the Land of Oz:

I wish now to turn to the seminarians and young religious in our midst, with a special word of affection and encouragement. Dear friends: with great generosity you have set out on a particular path of consecration, grounded in your Baptism and undertaken in response to the Lord's personal call. You have committed yourselves, in different ways, to accepting Christ's invitation to follow him, to leave all behind, and to devote your lives to the pursuit of holiness and the service of his people.
In today's Gospel, the Lord calls us to "believe in the light" (Jn 12:36). These words have a special meaning for you, dear young seminarians and religious. They are a summons to trust in the truth of God's word and to hope firmly in his promises. They invite us to see, with the eyes of faith, the infallible working of his grace all around us, even in those dark times when all our efforts seem to be in vain. Let this altar, with its powerful image of Christ the Suffering Servant, be a constant inspiration to you. Certainly there are times when every faithful disciple will feel the heat and the burden of the day (cf. Mt 20:12), and the struggle of bearing prophetic witness before a world which can appear deaf to the demands of God's word. Do not be afraid! Believe in the light! Take to heart the truth which we have heard in today's second reading: "Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and for ever" (Heb 13:8). The light of Easter continues to dispel the darkness!
The Lord also calls us to walk in the light (cf. Jn 12:35). Each of you has embarked on the greatest and the most glorious of all struggles, to be consecrated in truth, to grow in virtue, to achieve harmony between your thoughts and ideals, and your words and actions. Enter sincerely and deeply into the discipline and spirit of your programmes of formation. Walk in Christ's light daily through fidelity to personal and liturgical prayer, nourished by meditation on the inspired word of God. The Fathers of the Church loved to see the Scriptures as a spiritual Eden, a garden where we can walk freely with God, admiring the beauty and harmony of his saving plan as it bears fruit in our own lives, in the life of the Church and in all of history. Let prayer, then, and meditation on God's word, be the lamp which illumines, purifies and guides your steps along the path which the Lord has marked out for you. Make the daily celebration of the Eucharist the centre of your life. At each Mass, when the Lord's Body and Blood are lifted up at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer, lift up your own hearts and lives, through Christ, with him and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, as a loving sacrifice to God our Father.
In this way, dear young seminarians and religious, you yourselves will become living altars, where Christ's sacrificial love is made present as an inspiration and a source of spiritual nourishment to everyone you meet. By embracing the Lord's call to follow him in chastity, poverty and obedience, you have begun a journey of radical discipleship which will make you "signs of contradiction" (cf. Lk 2:34) to many of your contemporaries. Model your lives daily on the Lord's own loving self-oblation in obedience to the will of the Father. You will then discover the freedom and joy which can draw others to the Love which lies beyond all other loves as their source and their ultimate fulfilment. Never forget that celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom means embracing a life completely devoted to love, a love that enables you to commit yourselves fully to God's service and to be totally present to your brothers and sisters, especially those in need. The greatest treasures that you share with other young people - your idealism, your generosity, your time and energy - these are the very sacrifices which you are placing upon the Lord's altar. May you always cherish this beautiful charism which God has given you for his glory and the building up of the Church!
Dear friends, let me conclude these reflections by drawing your attention to the great stained glass window in the chancel of this cathedral. There Our Lady, Queen of Heaven, is represented enthroned in majesty beside her divine Son. The artist has represented Mary, as the new Eve, offering an apple to Christ, the new Adam. This gesture symbolizes her reversal of our first parents' disobedience, the rich fruit which God's grace bore in her own life, and the first fruits of that redeemed and glorified humanity which she has preceded into the glory of heaven. Let us ask Mary, Help of Christians, to sustain the Church in Australia in fidelity to that grace by which the Crucified Lord even now "draws to himself" all creation and every human heart (cf. Jn 12:32). May the power of his Holy Spirit consecrate the faithful of this land in truth, and bring forth abundant fruits of holiness and justice for the redemption of the world. May it guide all humanity into the fullness of life around that Altar, where, in the glory of the heavenly liturgy, we are called to sing God's praises for ever. Amen.

Plugged in

Back in action, working on some posts from over the weekend, block out some time, as one is a 3000 word reflection on the Sacramentality of Marriage.

Friday, July 18, 2008

unplugged today

I'm out today working on a talk for tomorrow, so nothing new. To hold you over, visit Cardinal Sean's blog, link is in sidebar, and read the entry of a newly ordained priest in Boston.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Priest returned to active ministry

Good news from the Archdiocese today:

Rev. Robert Stricker, a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnatiput on administrative leave in May after an accusation that he sexuallyabused a minor in the 1950s, has been returned to ministry by CincinnatiArchbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk.
"After extensive further investigation, I find that the there is notsufficient substantiation of the allegations to warrant sending the caseto the Vatican or continuing Fr. Stricker's administrative leave,"Archbishop Pilarczyk said.
A man reported to the Archdiocese in 1993 that Fr. Stricker had abusedhim when Fr. Stricker was an associate pastor at St. William Parish inPrice Hill. Fr. Stricker denied the allegation. The Archdioceseinvestigated and concluded the accusation was unsubstantiated. The sameman came forward again in May. New information was presented and furtherinvestigation was undertaken. After reviewing the accusation and thefacts of the investigation, Archbishop Pilarczyk placed Fr. Stricker onadministrative leave, from which he has now been relieved.
Administrative leave after an accusation does not represent apresumption of guilt on the part of the Archdiocese. In accord withchurch law, it is a response to an allegation that is deemed to have"the semblance of truth" while further steps are taken. A priest onadministrative leave may not celebrate the sacraments, engage inpriestly ministry, or present himself as a priest in any way.
The accusation was also reported to secular legal authorities andreviewed by the Archdiocese's Child Protection Review Board.
The Archdiocese has received no other accusations of sexual misconductagainst Fr. Stricker.
Fr. Stricker, 85, was ordained to the priesthood in 1948 and retired in 1993.

I've gotten to know Fr. Stricker over the last few months, at least a little bit. He is a good man and a dedicated priest, this should bring great joy to the diocese.

Price Hill Will!

Not doing anything next Thursday evening? Join my good friend Andy Backs (the slim, trim version!) at Seton High School for the first of it's kind event:

Join us for a Price Hill Summer Concert on the Lawn!

Presented by: Price Hill Will Arts Community Action Team

Date & Location: Thursday, July 24 at 7 p.m.
Seton High School Front Lawn
3901 Glenway
Cincinnati, Ohio 45205

The University of Cincinnati Alumni Summer Community Band will perform at Seton High School at 7 PM on Thursday July 24. This large group of talented musicians will feature music popular for all ages. The program features show tunes, marches, pops standards - everything you expect at an old-fashioned band concert right in the heart of your community!

Bring your own lawn chair. Parking will be available in the Seton Garage on Vincent Avenue or in the Elder Schaeper Center lot off of Glenway Avenue.

For more information contact Andy Backs,513-921-6564 or call Kara Ray at Price Hill Will, 251-3800 ext. 101

Toliet humor, with a Catholic moral!

For a truly gifted writer, wander on over to Adoro's marvelous site, for this fabulous treatise, with a surprise guest appearance by your humble author here.

One week till the journey begins, and the Great Meet of 2008 in Cleveland! I can't wait, I need a break.

For equally gifted writers, there's a new group blog that is hitting the airwaves, ummm... make that the cyperwaves: Merely Catholic:

This is a blog celebrating the Catholic Church, primarily in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. With St. Augustine of Hippo, we say, “We are an Easter people, and alleluia is our song.” As Catholic disciples of “Christ Our Hope,” the contributors to this blog strive to shed light on the way God is active and alive in the world today, especially in the Church. We take the Church seriously, but not ourselves. We are merely Catholics and proud to proclaim it with this positive blog designed to interest and inspire our fellow faithful.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Two new blogs

to me, at least:

Vita Mea by Fr. Dennis Schenkel of the Diocese of Memphis, home of the King!

In the Shadow of His Wings by the Passionist Nuns of Saint Joseph Monastery, outside of Owensville, and they're welcoming a new member this weekend! (We have Passionist Nuns in the Cincinnati area: Erlanger of N. Kentucky.)

A thought on priestly celibacy

So, yesterday I had two Masses, one at the Cathedral one at a parish as I was covering for the pastor who was away. While I like to give the impression that I am always deep in prayer during Mass, I have to admit that sometimes my mind does wonder.

Yesterday was one of those times.

The First Reading was from Isaiah, and included the following lines:

Then the LORD said to Isaiah: Go out to meet Ahaz,
you and your son Shear-jashub,
at the end of the conduit of the upper pool
,on the highway of the fuller’s field, and say to him:

Through my brain runs the following:

"You know, it's a good thing that priests don't get married and father children, because you know of us would think it a great idea to be like Isaiah and call the people to conversion, and would want to show that identity by naming his son after Isaiah's son: Shear-jashub. That kid would never survive childhood."

Again, I never said all of my thoughts are holy.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Today is the memorial of Our Lday of Mount Carmel, commemorating the giving of the scapular to the Carmelite order.

While today's readings do not really address the issue, I wanted to address a topic with the feast.

For more on the actual feast, hop on over to Padre Steve, SDB's, blog.

As a caveat, I do not wear a scapular, but have enrolled a number of people in the scapular. (I figure wearing a collar is pretty good protection.) I do always carry a rosary in my pocket.

To me, these traditions of wearing the scapular or medals or carrying a rosary highlight the 'tangible' nature of our faith. There are times when we need to hold on to something, maybe use it as a crutch in our prayers, maybe we are unable to pray during a time of crisis. Holding on to that rosary, embracing the protection of the scapular, gazing on the crucifix, is all a way that we are able to hold on to God's hand in time of trouble.

The connection with the Gospel that we must become childlike hits here. These 'sacramentals' give us something to hold on to when all else is in chaos. As a small child reaches up to grab mom or dad's hand when crossing the street, we reach up to grasp The Father's hand.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Letter to Priests from the Congregation for the Clergy

With a swing of the thurible to the ever connected Fr. Z, comes a letter to priests from the Congregation for the Clergy:

Dear brother priests,
On the occasion of the August 4th feast of St. John Marie Vianney, the Curé of Ars, I greet you cordially with all my heart, and I fraternally send you this brief message.
The Church knows today that there is an urgent mission, not only “ad gentes,” but also to those Christians living in areas and regions where the Christian faith has been preached and established for centuries and where ecclesial communities already exist. Within this flock, the mission, or the missionary of evangelization, has as its target those who are baptized but who, for different circumstances, have not been evangelized sufficiently, or those who have lost their initial fervour and fallen away. The postmodern culture of contemporary society - a relativist, secular, and agnostic culture - exerts a strong erosive action on the religious faith of many people.
The Church is missionary by its very nature. Jesus told us that "the sower went out to sow" (Mt 13:3). The sower does not limit himself to throwing the seed out of the window, but actually leaves the house. The Church knows that it cannot remain inert or limit itself to receiving and evangelizing those who are seeking the Faith in its churches and communities. It is also necessary to rise up and go to where people and families dwell, live and work. We must go to everyone: companies, organizations, institutions and different fields of human society. In this mission, all members of the ecclesial community are called: pastors, religious and laity.
Moreover, the Church recognizes that priests are the great driving force behind daily life in local communities. When priests move, the Church moves. If this were not so, it would be very difficult to achieve the Church’s mission.
My dear brother priests, you are the great richness, the energy, the pastoral and missionary inspiration in the midst of the Christian faithful, wherever they are found in community. Without your crucial decision to "put out into the deep" for fish ("Duc in altum"), as the Lord himself calls us, little or nothing will happen in the urgent mission, either "ad gentes" or in the territories that have previously been evangelized. But the Church is certain that it can count on you, because it knows and explicitly recognizes that the overwhelming majority of priests - despite our weaknesses and human limitations - are worthy priests, giving their life daily to the Kingdom of God and loving Jesus Christ and the people entrusted to them. These are the priests who are sanctifying themselves in their daily ministry and who are persevering until the harvest of the Lord. Only a small minority of priests have gravely deviated from this mission, and the Church seeks to repair the harm that they have done. On the other hand, it rejoices in and is proud of the immense majority of its priests, who are good and exceedingly worthy of praise.
During this Pauline Year, and pending the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God to be held in Rome this October, we call those who are receptive to this urgent mission. May the Holy Spirit enlighten us, send us, and sustain us, so that we might go forth and proclaim once again the person of Jesus Christ, crucified and resurrected, as well as His kingdom!
I greet you again, dear brothers, remaining always at your disposal. I pray for you all, especially for those who suffer, for the sick and for the elderly.
Vatican City State, 15 July 2008

A good summary and explanation of what happened

over the last few weeks with the 'Eucharist Hostage Crisis' is found at the Daily Kraken, with a swing of the thurible to Ignatius Insight.

MLS player leaves for priesthood

Brad Watkins has news that a defender with the Revolution has retired while still 'up and coming' to enter Mount St. Mary's in Emmitsburg. (For the mid-westerners, that's the 'other' Mount St. Mary's Seminary, not the real one here.)

Maybe I need to start recruiting from the Bengals?

Umm.... maybe not.

Monday, July 14, 2008

What the other guys feel like

Josh Hamilton hit 28 homers in the first round of tonight's home run derby, and then 'the other guys' had to come back up to hit some more, and so far haven't even gotten close in two rounds to what he did in one. amazing

I know exactly what the other guys feel like: a few months ago, I had the 11:00 'High' Mass here at the Cathedral. For a post Communion meditation, the choir did a piece by Palestrina. Un-Be-Lievable!


I had to chant the post-Communion prayer.

Talk about feeling small and inadequate.

Way to go, Josh!

A Distinct Pleasure

As I was at his parish yesterday, I took advantage to stop over at Wayne's house to see the new little guy.

Prompts the question:
Is there anything better than holding a sleeping three day old baby?

Mom, Dad, and child are all doing well, glad to report. Older brother is still adjusting.

Isaiah and the Call to Conversion

I love the prophets, as they gently and not so gently call us to a continued conversion of heart; from Hosea's call to 'come back to me' to Isaiah's prophecies of a suffering servant who takes upon himself the guilt of us all.

In today's first reading, we hear the beginning of the prophecies and call of Isaiah to the people of Isreal:

What care I for the number of your sacrifices?says the LORD.I have had enough of whole-burnt ramsand fat of fatlings;In the blood of calves, lambs and goatsI find no pleasure.

Strong stuff, and in it's context it comes to light. Written as the kingdom continued its decline and fall, eventually leading to the Babylonian Exile, the Sacrifices and practices of the Temple had continued, even though the worship of Baal and the Caananite fertility gods had crept into Israel. Isaiah challenge here is that the sacrifice and worship in the Temple had become empty and no longer served the purpose of calling the faithful to conversion.

In the liturgy wars that are threatening to break out anew, keep in mind that the purpose of liturgy is conversion of heart of the believer, both lay and cleric alike. It is not a musical performance, it is not a call to social action; it is a call and a fostering of relationship with God. Certainly I think that correct celebration of the Sacraments are important, vital even, but as the means to the end of conversion, not as ends themselves.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Call to Life

This coming Monday, Black Pro-Life leaders plan to hold a press conference outside the Duke Energy Center (Cincinnati's downtown convention center), site of the NAACP National Convention, to call on the leadership of the Association to press the federal government to end the $300 Million in taxpayer funding to Planned (un)Parenthood.

Catholic News Agency posts the story.

I think the press conference is at 10:00 AM, if anyone has a correction, post below.

And Persecutions, Besides

It should come as no surprise that we face persecutions as we go about our work in the Church. Christ certainly faced it, and in today's Gospel account Jesus warns that we will indeed face persecutions and misunderstandings. It should come as no surprise that we face this.

This week, word has spread through the blogosphere that there have been desecrations of the Eucharist. In Florida, a student held Him 'hostage' as he protested that the state university supported religious groups on campus. In the admirable uproar, a professor in Minnesota (i think) who challenged some on to get him 'the sacred cracker' that he could also profane the Eucharist.

Again, when we stand for Truth, it should come as no surprise that we are opposed, by the Evil One, by those who do not understand what we believe and exhort that we should change to be like the rest of the world.

We are NOT like the rest of the world. We are held to a higher standard by Our Lord. And if we hold true to our faith, he gives the strength and ability to overcome our weaknesses as Jesus himself stands before His Heavenly Father and intercedes on our behalf.

And in those times where we are brought forward to face the judge and jury of the public opinion; Our Lord will give us the words to speak and will purify our lips, just as He did for Isaiah.

Therefore, we should not be afraid as we face persecution. It serves to purify us. It serves to unite us with Our Lord, and we should therefore rejoice that we have been found worthy to suffer for Jesus.

Friday, July 11, 2008

St. Benedict and Pope Benedict

Today is the Feast of St. Benedict, the preserver of Western Culture as he introduced and established Western Monasticism during the collapse of the Roman Empire. His series of Monasteries provided safe haven for travelers, centers of learning which would eventually morph into the modern university system (ever wonder why you wear such goofy clothing upon graduation?), as well as forming centers of prayer that sanctified Europe and allowed a very tactile sense that God was present to His people during a very dark period of history; at least for most of our ancestors.

At another point in history where it looks as if Christendom is threatened from outsiders, Europe's population is on a downward spiral and the educational system has failed (to call a spade a spade); in steps Pope Benedict XVI. May he acheive even a small modicum of success that St. Benedict acheived!

Viva il Papa! (and safe travels to Australia, too!)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Chinese Martyrs and the Call of the Twelve

Yesterday was the feast of the Chinese Martyrs: St. Augustine Zhao Rong and his 119 companions. The Gospel reading for Mass was the Call of the Twelve from Matthew's Gospel. I find these two events to be related, for at the key moments in our life, God calls us by name to follow after Him.

Our Baptism was not just done in some abstract way, but with a purposeful call of 'Kyle,' I baptize you in the name of the FAther and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. I've seen in several parishes that children are 'called to the Table' for their First Communion. At Confirmation, we are called by a new name to signify that we are now soldiers for Christ. At weddings and ordinations, again the name is used for the new identity.

In the Gosepl account, Jesus calls His Diciples by name to give them a unique and a special mission and to consecrate them for their mission to go forth and proclaim the Kingdom.

In the example and witness of the Chinese Martyrs, we see how this being called and consecrated to God is played out. The 120 individuals willingly gave their life in witness to Christ. In fact, the Ordo recounted the testimony of one young man who, as his arm was being torn off, boldly responded: every ounce of my flesh, every drop of my blood, will testify that I am a Christian!

Would that we all had the same courage and conviction as this young man.

Baby Day Update

Just talked to Wayne, Henry Martin arrived at 12:33 PM, weighing in at a mere 8lbs 11oz. Maryanne came through all natural, too! (what a trooper!) Both moms and babies are doing well, no word on the dads.

I feel like a proud Grandpa!

It's Baby Day here at the Central Offices

Upon entering the offices this morning, there was a voice message from Wayne who works with me in the Vocation Office that his wife had gone into labor, hence he wasn't coming in today. (DUH!)

Not two minutes later and email came across that Sara who works in the Development Office had her baby this morning, too! (She's maybe 5'4" and had a boy weighing 8lbs 2oz!)

I'll send updates on Wayne, mom and child when I get them.

Congrats to all!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I thought my life was busy!

How's this recipe for you:

10 kids
all 8 years of age and under
three sets of twins


(She's friends with my sister, Tania.)

Chestertonian Thought for the Day

He may be mad, but there's method in his madness. There nearly always is method in madness. It's what drives men mad, being methodical.

This explains my desk!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

my new favorite prayer!

A friend passes along a prayer she knew I couldn't resist, from the fine folks at Sanitas Contra Gentes:

Blessing of Beer
V. Adiutorium nostrum in nomine Domini.
R. Qui fecit caelum et terram.

V. Dominus vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.

Bene+dic, Domine, creaturam istam cerevisiae, quam ex adipe frumenti producere dignatus es: ut sit remedium salutare humano generi, et praesta per invocationem nominis tui sancti; ut, quicumque ex ea biberint, sanitatem corpus et animae tutelam percipiant. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.
R. Amen.

Et aspergatur aqua benedicta.

English translation
V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who made heaven and earth.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.

Let us pray.
Bless, + O Lord, this creature beer, which thou hast deigned to produce from the fat of grain: that it may be a salutary remedy to the human race, and grant through the invocation of thy holy name; that, whoever shall drink it, may gain health in body and peace in soul. Through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

And it is sprinkled with holy water.

Of course, the Catholic Beer Review would certainly stipulate that the holy water be purified first, for we would not want to contaminate such a fine drinking specimin during such a blessing!

Monday, July 7, 2008

sugar or cane?

Last week, our First Reading at Mass was from the book of the Prophet Amos. He starts off gently enough: 'For three crimes of Israel and four!' He is bashing the people of Israel with a stick to get them to open their eyes that what they have been doing is offensive to God and if they don't change their ways..... POW! right in the kisser!

Contrast that with today's First Reading from the Prophet Hosea:

Thus says the LORD:I will allure her;I will lead her into the desertand speak to her heart.She shall respond there as in the days of her youth,when she came up from the land of Egypt.On that day, says the LORD,She shall call me “My husband,”and never again “My baal.”I will espouse you to me forever:I will espouse you in right and in justice,in love and in mercy;I will espouse you in fidelity,and you shall know the LORD.

There is a major difference in tone here from last week. Now that the eyes of the people are (hopefully) opened, God is leading them back into the relationship with Him that they once had as they 'came up from the land of Egypt.'

While it is tempting to hit people over their heads with the sins that are being committed (sometimes this is quite necessary, too!); true lasting conversion comes from the conviction of heart that has been touched by God, that has come to 'know the LORD.'

Therefore, in our efforts at evangelization, once we get those eyes opened and ready to see, bring them before Jesus in the Eucharist, and He will touch them and they will never turn back.

Why so long?

In answer to the question on the lips of every potential seminarian, comes "In Fulfillment of Their Mission; The Duties and Tasts of a Roman Catholic Priest: An Assessment Project" which lists out 73 'tasks' under nine 'duties' or 'areas of responsibility'.

The duties seem straightforward enough: liturgy and sacraments; pastoral care; teaching; parish administration; 'ministry of presence'; life in the diocese; 'diverse publics'; professional development; and personal development.

What gets me is that under each of the 73 tasks is listed 'performance levels' of novice, approaching proficiency, proficiency, and above proficiency; with appropriate 'performance statements' to tell where the priest might be in each 'task.'

Just paging through it makes me feel a little overwhelmed right now!

I won't give any more details, b/c it's still in review state and hopefully it helps to identify and correct locunae in seminary and on-going formation.

If I haven't mentioned this before, I do now: PRAY FOR YOUR PRIESTS!!!!!


The Independence Day Weekend (oxymoron?) is over, and I am once again chained to my desk at the Central Offices.

My family took advantage of the weekend to gather at mom and dad's place on a small lake in Ohio. Since the house can't accomodate 30 persons (and one dog!), we had Tent City out on the lawn as my five sblings each staked out a space. (I claimed the bedroom, much to their chagrine; hey the priesthood has to have some perks!)

Festivities included some water skiing (I don't learn from past mistakes, apparently), tubing (not by your's truly, mainly the grandkids), cooking out, a nightly fire in the pit, our own personal fireworks display and attending the lake's display on Saturday night. (Sadly, I had to miss the big display for a wedding obligation.)

A few of the siblings were berating me, however, as I refused to celebrate Sunday Mass at the house, covering the local parish Masses instead. "What's the point of having a priest in the family if we can't have Mass together?!?!?!?" In revenge, they nearly all attended the SAturday Vigil Mass which I did NOT have instead of the two Sunday morning Masses. They keep me humble, my dear family.

As I drove back to Cinci yesterday evening, I realized that I really do have a pretty good family. I know that there are not too many families of such a size that could be together for the better part of 48 hours straight and only have minor tiffs. For that, we are lucky.

Sorry for the silence over the weekend, as we do not have internet access at the cottage (which helped make the weekend a success, as we spent most of the time outside rather than in), regular posting will resume today.

I hope you all had an enjoyable weekend as well.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Current Reads

Have you heard the one where the three Synoptic Gospels are really just re-presentations of Q? Usually this theory involves dating the New Testament writings, especially the Gospels, at a fairly late date, with respect to the actual 'Jesus Event.' Current 'scholarship' dates the Gospel of Mark at 70 AD, Matthew and Luke around 80, and John around 100-110 AD. (John was apparently long lived.)

A friend and former co-worker passed along a differing approach: "Eyewitness to Jesus: Amazing New Manuscript Evidence About the Origin of the Gospels" The main thrust of the argument is that three small, very small, pieces of papyrus found in Egypt around 1900 are fragments of a codex (book form, not scroll) of the Gospel of Matthew and date from between 63-70 AD!

I'm still getting into the work, and just got through a significant point where the authors argue that there were Christian scroll fragments found in Qumran Cave #7 (a fragment of a scroll from St. Mark's Gospel.)

What this means is that the Christian Scriptures were indeed written by eyewitnesses to 'the Jesus Event,' and not just oral traditions that eventually make their way to paper.

It is an interesting theory, and certainly groundbreaking. However, the book dates from 1994, and it hasn't caught on. Plus, the Amazon customer reviews mention that the approach that the authors used in developing their theory had been debunked, but they do not provide the links are the reasons why and how this has been debunked.


Happy Feast Day, Dad!

Today is the Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle. Yes, he of the famous: "Unless I see, I will not believe!" My grandparents named my father appropriately, as he takes after his namesake well! Dad is famous among his annoyed and irritated grandchildren for his 'theory of relativity,' which in reality isn't a theory at all, just some guy who thinks he thinks coming up with something goofy to annoy those around him! If nothing else, it's a fun thing to do a parties!

Back to the Feast at hand, today's Gospel reading was the second appearance of Jesus to the Twelve, post Resurrection. This is one where Jesus walks in, turns and says: "Hi, Thomas, got anything to say?"

If I were him, I think I would feel about knee high to a tse-tse fly! "Uhhhhh....., Sorry?" just doesn't seem to cut it.

The good news, however, is Jesus is much more forgiving and allows Thomas to speak for all of us bumbling idiots who have come later 'who have not seen, yet still believe.' In this way, we get reassurance in the moments where we have questions, when we have those moments of doubt where we seek that greater understanding, yet our eyes are not yet able to see.

When we hit those moments, it is good to take a step back, and make that same statement of belief as St. Thomas: "Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!" so that we can eventually utter his equally famous: "My Lord and my God!"

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Catholic Media Review posts favorably on PIXAR's new effort WallE.

Looks like a good flick to take the kids.

"I am priest and I am not lonely!"

Is being a priest lonely? Absolutely NOT! I crave the times I can be alone, in the silence, no radio, no TV, just sitting before Christ.

Fr. Ed in Cleveland writes a great piece on the percieved loneliness of the priesthood versus what it is really like.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

St. Blogosphere's gains a new parishioner

St. Blogosphere's Parish is proud to welcome Christopher Osgood to the roles of membership.

Stop on over and say HI!

Chris is a senior at Liberty University, and doing great things in spreading the faith there.

Save the Date!

September 21 marks the St. Michael Prayer Warrior Inaugural Conference "The Call of the King," to be held at the Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center from 7:00 to 9:00 PM, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament preceeds the event from 6:00 to 7:00.

The event will feature a full scale role out of the St. Michael Prayer Warriors movement, as well as a talk by Fr. Anthony Brausch on 'The Call of the King,' personal holiness as a path to renewal. Priests and seminarians will also give witness to the power of other's prayers in their pursuit of following the Call of Christ, and will close with a chance to meet and greet priests and seminarians, allowing the lay faithful to encourage these men in their vocations.

There is no cost for the event, however a free will offering will be accepted, benefiting the Holy Spirit Center.

For more information, see: