Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Two late Christmas Presents

came yesterday.

First, as I opened my mail, I noticed a DVD envelope. Hmmm.... The Latin Mass Training DVD by the FSSP fathers that they offered to priests for free. Haven't had the chance to watch it yet, but looking forward to it!

Secondly, Anne Marie, who is a postulant with the Sisters for Life, was in town on her home visit and stopped by the Cathedral for the late Mass which I had. It was good to see her in the postulants garb, it fits her very well! She reports that all is going well in formation and feels that she is where she is supposed to be at this point, but requests continued prayers.

The day ended with our Cathedral Christmas Party, which was great fun as always.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Church vs. State, Round 1

An initial battle between Church and state is recognized with today's Saint: Thomas Becket. A friend of Henry II of England, the monarch nominated him to be Archbishop of Canterbury. Reluctant because of possible ramifications to their friendship, Thomas eventually aceeded to the Chair and immediately started putting his faith before his friendship, earning the King's ire. An offhand remark by the King a few days post Christmas led to some of his knights barging into the Cathedral to assassinate the Archbishop; who cried out with his dying breath, "Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit!"

Ohio part of..... Canada?!?!?!

Via The American Catholic comes word that a Russian Academic has foretold an economic collapse and discent into Civil War with the breakup of this storied nation into the following areas.
My thoughts? Utah and California together? Nah.
And Ohio part of Canada? well, at least we're not part of the EU!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The gift that keeps on giving

I hope everyone's Christmas was celebratory. A quick review:

Christmas Eve Eve was dinner at a friend's house with their extended family. It is a particular joy as a priest to be invited into so many family homes during the Christmas season.

Christmas Eve: Morning was a stop over at another friend's house for X-Mas Eve Breakfast. Sadly, breakfast was to start at 11, and I got there at 10; so the mother of the house simply put me to work preparing things. As I had the 11:30 Mass, I didn't even get to enjoy the fruits of my spoils!

Christmas Vigil Mass was at St. Jerome's in Cincinnati's California neighborhood. A church with only a center aisle and 11 pews (count em, 11!) on each side, it is a pretty tight fit! Mom and dad came down for this Mass, and then we cooked dinner at the Cathedral rectory and watched Bella, as they had never seen it, before assisting in our own proper way at the Midnight Mass at the Cathedral with Archbishop Pilarczyk. The music was again fantastic!

Christmas Day found me heading back to St. Jerome's for their 9:00 Mass before rushing back home and snarfing breakfast with the folks and dropping in on the 11:00 Mass at the Cathedral with Archbishop Schnurr. Mom and dad heading back north at that point, I was to follow a short time later.

After Mass, I attempted a nap, but I guess visions of sugar plums were dancing in my thoughts, so I sluffed that off and packed and headed north, making all the necessary phone calls on the way. Stopped by one sister's for a bit, dinner at another sister's before rounding the night off at a brother's house and returning to Mom and Dad's.

Well, a lack of sleep and saying hi to many folks I think overwhelmed my immune system, and St. Stephen's Day found me wishing to be a martyr as the flu wrecked havoc on my system. As the family Christmas gathering was to be that afternoon, ummm.... Houston, we have a problem! Canceled till today.

Seeing as how I always like to share, I shared the little flu bug with my mother, who has been down for the count all day. Prompting a move of the Christmas gathering to a sister's house instead of grandma's, and prompting this teary response from the four year old: "We can't (sniff) have Christmas (sniff) without (sniff) GRANDMA!! (sniff sniff!)" Well, mom's got at least one major fan!

Dad and bro and I just ran supplies to host sister's house; which prompted a response from her daughters: "YOU gave grandma the flu!" Guilty as charged! not that I intended to, tho; but subtlety is not their strong suit, I guess.

Oh, well, I was scheduled for a vigil Mass this afternoon at Holy Redeemer in New Bremen, which has thankfully been covered. I think I could've done it, but would've been a rather short homily! Still on there for the two Masses tomorrow, hopefully the headache continues to subside by then.

Hope everyone else has had a better two days than I!

Monday, December 22, 2008

White Christmas in Iowa

Sent by my brother near the Quad Cities area:

Here's what the weather service says is in store the Q-C region as the holiday nears.
Snow will develop around midnight and continue intermittently through Tuesday afternoon producing new snowfall totals between 2 and 5 inches with temperatures well below freezing. Combined with winds of 15 to 25 mph, travel will be hazardous throughout the Midwest.
The snow will increase Tuesday night and into Wednesday with the potential for an additional 4 to 8 inches possible. Northwest winds of 15 to 25 mph Wednesday will result in drifting and blowing snow. Temperatures will be well below freezing. Travel will be hazardous throughout the watch area. From www.qctimes.com

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Message from the Congregation for the Clergy

Reveived in my email in-box, how's that?!

To all the dear Priests, Deacons and Catechists of the Entire World I extend my joyous and fraternal wishes for a holy and festive Christmas, and that the year 2009 be enlightened, grace filled a full of accomplishments in the service of Jesus Christ and of our brothers and sisters, especially those who are poor or suffering. Christmas does not confine us to a commemoration of an extraordinary event in the past, recalled with gratitude and love, but it is also an event which is actualised in the present day, in our midst. Jesus Christ comes because he loves us and wants to save us from evil: from every evil, and even from death. He comes to welcome us, to make us experience his love, to transform us into his disciples, true sons of the heavenly Father, to invite us to proclaim in the entire world that God is Love, and that he loves us unconditionally, without measure. Jesus comes! He becomes our companion on the journey of life. Let us be gathered to him. Let us allow him to overcome us and to make his dwelling within us. He will eat with us in an unimaginable communion, in which he will have us experience the mysterious and efficacious depth of his friendship and his salvation. Enlightened and transformed by this encounter with Him we will be able to proclaim him to every man and woman of our time. Behold, such is Christmas! Cláudio Cardinal Hummes Archbishop Emeritus of São Paulo Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Quote for the Day

Everyone's a hero in their own way, in their own not that heroic way.
- Joss Whedon, Zack Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen, and Jed Whedon.

In a conversation the other day on things in the Vocation Office and regarding the Fishers of Men video, it was mentioned that there are priests who absolutely cannot stand the video. 'It is too heroic,' they say; it doesn't match up to reality. (aside: the scene that usually elicits this response is the one where the teen is severely injured in the car wreck and the priest runs up to anoint and absolve him; which is based in a real life situation!)

I think, because so much of what we do as priests can be seen as 'humdrum,' that we sometimes forget that we are called to be living witnesses to the Gospel.

It happens in my own situation at times. I sit here at my desk, in my office, writing a blog post, going through paperwork, waiting for a phone call, answering emails, not to mention all the things that I should be doing and am not; how is this being 'a living witness of the Gospel'?

For those priests who are pastors of parishes (I hope to get there one day!), it is so easy to get caught up in the business aspects, the endless meetings, the balance sheet from the bank; that the idea of being 'a living icon of Christ the High Priest' is great in theory, not so good in practice.

Sure, when we are preaching on Sunday, celebrating the Sacraments, or preparing someone for the Sacraments; yeah, we can see it then. But, really, how much of our time is in that arena? As one pastor I know said: 'I'd like would like to think that way, but I have to pay off the debt!'

The difficulty is trying to identify that even and especially in those things that are not that heroic; that doing them well, doing them with honor, doing them with prayer is exactly heroic! Reading Fr. Walter Cszick's He Leadeth Me, he was struck with the same thought: when serving time in a Soviet Gulag prison camp, why work your hardest, why strive to do your best when it only serves an oppressive regime? Because it is my way of being heroic and giving praise and glory to God. For him, he was living out the Jesuit motto: All for the Greater Glory of God!

From listening to the tapes (well, CD's actually, who listens to tapes anymore, anyway?) of the Deep in History Conference on the English Reformation; what kept the faith alive during a very dark period in history? The willingness on the part of priests and laity alike to be martyrs; to be heroes; even though they would likely only say: I did what I was obliged to do.

Let us all strive to be heroes, in our own unheroic ways.

Rick Warren speaks out

It is not often that I would post something by an evangelical megachurch pastor, but through Headline Bistro comes word of Pastor Rick Warren's disagreements with Barack Obama regarding abortion. The telling line came towards the beginning of the article:

“Of course I want to reduce the number of abortions,” Warren told Beliefnet Editor-in-Chief Steven Waldman when asked if he was going to work with the Obama administration to achieve an abortion reduction agenda or if he thinks that the effort is a charade.
“But to me it is kind of a charade in that people say ‘We believe abortions should be safe and rare,’” he added.
“Don’t tell me it should be rare. That’s like saying on the Holocaust, ‘Well, maybe we could save 20 percent of the Jewish people in Poland and Germany and get them out and we should be satisfied with that,’” Warren said. “I’m not satisfied with that. I want the Holocaust ended.”
I think this is an area where Catholics and Evangelicals can really do some great work together.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Vocation Awareness Week

Just a reminder that Vocation Awareness Week is fast approaching, this year January 11-17, 2009. Materials are available online here. Within the last month, we've had downloads from the following states:


New Jersey
New York
North Carolina
Ontario (Province, not a State)
New Mexico
Pampanga (no idea)
District of Columbia
Ile de France
North Dakota

Harbinger of things to come?

If it can happen in Boston, it can happen here, too.

Cardinal Arinze: Letter to a Young Priest

Zenit brings word of a new book by Cardinal Arinze, the recently retired Nigerian head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments:

A priest who lives his celibacy with joy, fidelity and a positive spirit is a testimony that cannot be ignored in today's world, says Cardinal Francis Arinze.The cardinal, who just retired last week from his post as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, affirmed this today when he presented on Vatican Radio his book "Riflessioni sul sacerdozio. Lettera a un giovane sacerdote" (Reflections on the Priesthood: Letter to a Young Priest). Excerpts from the volume were published by L'Osservatore Romano."The Church has always had great esteem for the celibacy of priests," the cardinal wrote. "Christ lived a virginal life, taught chastity to his disciples, and proposed virginity to those who are willing and able to follow a similar call.""In priestly life, perpetual celibacy for the Kingdom of Heaven expresses and stimulates pastoral charity," he added. "It is a special fount of spiritual fruitfulness in the world. […] It is a testimony that stands out before the world as an efficacious way to follow Christ."The cardinal said that in today's world, "immersed in an exaggerated preoccupation with sex and the violation of its sacredness […] a presbyter who lives his vow of chastity with joy, fidelity and a positive spirit is a testimony that cannot be ignored."Through priestly celibacy, the prelate continued, "the presbyter consecrates himself more directly to Christ in the exercise of spiritual paternity." He is more available "as a minister of Christ, spouse of the Church," and he can "truly present himself as a living sign of the future world, which is already present through faith and charity."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The White Death Approaches!

Cincinnati is in a Panic! 24 hour weather coverage has ensued, first snowflake spotted over Western Hills 20 minutes ago, schools canceling as we speak!

This moment of hyperbole brought to you by our sponsors.
(Couldn't resist)

Top Ten Catholics of 2008 meme

The incomparable Matt Swaim at the SonRise Morning Show tagged me for a meme on 'Top Ten' Catholics of 2009. Oy, vey! I hardly know ten people! But alas, I'll give it a shot:

Papa Benedetto! An easy choice, really. His time on the Chair of Peter seems to suit him fine. He looks younger and more energized than when he started, and has emerged from the enormous shadow of his beloved predecessor to shine in his own light and his own way. Viva il Papa!

Archbishop Dennis Schnurr Ok, a little brownnosing never hurt anyone! In his short time here in Cincinnati, I've had two chances to sit down and talk with him, once in a one on one, last night with the vocation advisory board. Both times, I have come away feeling very energized about the future of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

Jaime S I had heard about this crazy woman who had a literal van load of children for some time, as she is friends with my sister. Having now been in email contact and recently met her in person, she is an embodiment of the joy that comes from following Christ and his Church in complete trust.

Matt Swaim The rise of Catholic Media, with a local face. Matt is paradigmatic of the young JPII Catholics who are engaged with the modern world, yet still call the world to conversion. It has been a joy working with Matt and the entire staff at Sacred Heart Radio over the last year, plus.

(how many is that, only four?!?!)

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus Convert, priest, scholar. His recent disclosure of cancer warrents a 'storming of heaven.' I enjoy his writing for his scholarship, but also his wit.

Seminarians, near and far The best recruiters of priests are happy priests. These future priests will be excellent recruiters in the near future. It is an honor and privelidge to work with our seminarians.

Anne Straus A new friend this year, it was her idea to begin the Prayer Warriors movement here in Cincinnati. She certainly took a risk in coming forward to suggest a new idea, but it has already started to bear fruit. One person can make a difference.

There are many other friends whom I could list, but I'll let it go at this, and keep three in pectore.

Monday, December 15, 2008

What do we seek? (Sunday Homily)

What do we seek? Saint Augustine’s wonderful line keeps echoing to us through the centuries: “Our hearts are restless until the rest in you, O God.” Yet, we continue to seek and not find, we continue to look, but not see; the doors we knock upon are not opened. Is this because God has stopped listening to our prayers? In this season where we prepare for the coming of Christ at the end of time in addition to Christmas; his can seem a disheartening prospect!

Yet, I think with the example we have from the Gospel account for today, we may take some solace; because what we start to see here in this passage is that the authorities from Jerusalem, seeking to fill the restlessness of their hearts in coming out to hear and witness John the Baptist’s mission out in the wilderness. When they come out to him, they come with questions, but they are the wrong questions! Even worse, as John directs them to the right questions, they refuse to follow his lead and stubbornly follow their preconceived notions of what they are after!

Let’s walk back through that dialogue to see where they went wrong, and then how we might learn from their mistakes so that we can ask the right questions.

First, it is important to call to mind the stark image that John presents in the Gospels, which we heard described last week: he is an imposing figure, and one which hearkens back immediately to the great prophets of old: the leather belt, the garment of camel’s hair, the un-kept hair and beard: his mere appearance is one to challenge the niceties of the day.

So, these leaders from Jerusalem come out and are confronted by this mysterious figure and ask the natural question: ‘Who are you?” John’s answer is one to direct them to the right question: “I am not the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed one.” So, who is? Do you know? John follows his role in pointing others to Christ, but they stay focused on him instead, asking him this litany of questions which he refuses to answer and constantly points back to Christ: Are you a prophet? NO! Are you Elijah? NO! “I am the voice crying out in the desert: make straight the paths of the Lord!”

What they fail to ask is if he knows the one who is coming, they are so focused on their own agenda, that they fail to see the forest for the trees.

Where it comes down to us, then, is that I think that the leaders from Jerusalem fall into a very likely trap that, perhaps, we too often fall into: we get so caught up in asking God to answer our specific questions and needs, that we fail to hear the direction in the answers, we fail to hear God giving us the directions to a deeper relationship with Himself.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Vows Bleg

This Friday, Sr. Pamela of the Franciscan Daughters of Mary makes her intial vows with the community and is being vested with the habit of her order.

May Our Lord continue to guide and form her into a beacon of light for the wider community.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Daily Prayer for Priests

in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is now up and running.

Ok, I'll drop the birthday post!

Since I am starting to get flack about leaving the birthday post up, I have to add something.

Let's just say it was an absolutely fabulous weekend.

Friday, I spent the day 'Up North' with confessions at Sidney Holy Angels for the grade school kids, a class presentation at Lehman High School, and the afternoon at mom and dad's before dinner with them.

Saturday was a John Vianney day: 8:00 Mass and confessions at Holy Name, Mount Auburn as part of the Helpers of God's Precious Infants; 11:30 Mass and more confessions at the Cathedral; and a confession spot at Our Lady of Victory in the afternoon as well. Went to dinner with a priest from the Cathedral, hit the sack about 9:00; whoo hoo, the party life of a priest!

Sunday involved a drive to Fairborn for Mass at Wright State and then a Bonzai run back to the Cathedral for our little gathering of welcome for Archbishop Schnurr (who has apparently read this site! YIKES!) The reception afterwards was very nice, saw many friends I hadn't seen in quite a while, too. dinner afterwards with a friend and commentator here was good.

Monday, Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Originally, I was scheduled for the early shift at the Cathedral, but another priest had to switch with the late Mass; then the pastor approached: 'do you have a Mass elsewhere today?" Yes, Candidacy at the Seminary. "Good, I'm taking the late Mass then." (he said it a bit more diplomatic than that, actually.) So, I ventured through more ice to the seminary for Candidacy Mass with three seminarians (two Toledo guys and one Cincinnati), presided over by Archbishop Schnurr. As is consistent with Masses at the Cathedral and Seminary, beautiful and solemn without being flashy or gaudy. The afternoon saw some shopping (majorly broke now!) and an evening meeting.

Today, back at work, alas.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

32 years ago today....

I made my auspicious entrance into the world, but the story is quite fun.

My poor mother was on bed rest during most the pregnancy with complications, don't really know what they all were, but since she wasn't allowed to pick up my sister, Tania still hasn't forgiven me!  Well, what was bed rest turned to panic as labor pains started nearly two months early!  YIKES!  Dad rushed mom to the Hospital, while grandparents watched the other four at home.

They hit the neo-natal unit, or whatever it's called, and you know one of those Oh, S**T moments that dawns on someone's face, ummm.... The nurse was trying to read the baby's heartbeat with a stethascope, when all of a sudden her face panics and looks at my mom: "I think I hear two heart beats!"  The Doctor looks at her: "What?!?!  Give me that!"  After a few seconds, his face does the same utter transformation.  "We got issues here, people!"

They were able to slow down mom's progression and get things quiet for the night, so dad headed home.  Unbeknowst to him, however, the parking lot had iced over and he fell getting into the car!  Oi!

Well, to make matters worse, my older brother had a propensity to run through the house and trip and fall into those old, huge, cast iron heaters that sat beside doors and such, busting his head open.  Yep, managed to do that the next morning!

So, dad's back at the hospital with mom, bro's upstairs getting his head stitched together and mom's in the OR for a C-Section.  What a grand and glorious day it was!  They ripped me from the comforts of the womb first and sure enough my twin bro showed shortly afterwards.  (We always contend that they named us backwards, but that's beside the point.)

Dad managed to call his in-laws, and reported: "Mom and the boys are doing fine."  "Boys, plural?"  "Oh, yeah, sorry, didn't get a chance to call, we had twins!"  Yep, dad's life was effectively over at that point!

The nurse's felt so bad for mom, because we were so small, she couldn't hold us (I was in intensive care at the time), plus her other son was upstairs; they went against doctor's wishes and took mom up to see Keith.

Well, 20 days later, they finally brought us home and put us where else?  Under the Christmas Tree!  (Tania was, and still is, looking for the gift exchange on that one!)

 Mom and dad left the ankle bracelets on till they could tell us apart, which for dad was somewhere around our 18th birthday!

Happy Birthday, Kurt!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Love of Priesthood is Love for Church

In the comments thread of this post, there was a highlight of a post by Diogenes. Well, go read it first, then come back.

Diogenes critiques a priest who 'loves being a priest' but is unwilling to accept some Church teaching.

To me, this is a great source of schizophrenia, and I want to explain further what I mean when I say: "I love being a priest."

I love being a priest because I first love the Church, and I want to give my life in service to her, as the bride of Christ. My love for what I do as a priest is because it is a way that I am able to give my life for my bride, the Church; it is the way that I show my love for the Church; by dieing to self to live for her.

My love of being a priest is not narcissism, at least I hope not. It is not a love for power, prestige, honor. You can keep all that, it is fleeting and if you start to desire it, you will eventually sell your soul to keep it. I want to save my soul, not sell it.

I think a marriage analogy is never more fitting here. Ask a married man if he loves being a husband and father. If yes, why?

If it is for the 'privileges' of marriage: the act of marriage, a wife who will pick up after him, make him dinner, care for the children, wash and iron his clothes; how long will that marriage last? six months, maybe?

However, if he loves being a husband because it is the way that he expresses his love for his wife, it nourishes and enriches the relationship that he has with her, a relationship that is so strong and complete, that life erupts in many forms: children, alms giving, joy, friendships, etc. the husband's love of being a husband is sustained and nurtured because of his love for his wife, to whom he will give his very self because he knows that his path to salvation necessarily involves her path to salvation first and foremost; not to mention any children that come from their union.

I hope this makes sense, as I've been thinking on this the last few days since the article was published and there were comments that appeared on the Enquirer site about "It is impossible for an 18 year old man to forgo sex his entire life." On the surface, that comment is absolutely true. However, if he willingly forsakes sex becuase of his love for the Church and his willingness to give his life for the Church, then it is extremely possible; and not just possible, his life will flourish because of it.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Prayer Request

Deacon Tony Tozzi's mother passed away last week, with the funeral being celebrated tomorrow. Tony is a transitional deacon for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, anticipating ordination in May, 2009.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord.
And let perpetual light shine upon her.

Church out to amplify 'The Call'

With a huge thanks to Dan Horn of the Cincinnati Enquirer, a story he and I have been working on hits the press this morning:

The Rev. Kyle Schnippel places his prayer book on the table and takes a seat, waiting for the future of the Catholic Church to arrive.

It's an early Monday morning in November and Schnippel is among dozens of job recruiters preparing to make a pitch to students at La Salle High School. He hopes to find a few interested in the priesthood, but he knows he could be in for a long morning.

He's competing for the teens' attention with engineers who have built high-tech equipment, businessmen who run multimillion- dollar companies and military recruiters with cool gear and tales of adventure.

"They have better toys," the priest says of his competition.

But if anyone can convince teenage boys to consider a lifetime of celibacy, prayer and a $24,000 salary, it's Schnippel.