Tuesday, March 31, 2009
A swing of the thurible to Fr. V at Adam's Ale.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
He is expected to make a full recovery, but prayers certainly won't hurt.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
"What's with the blog? Too busy or something?"
Things have been helter skelter around here. If I get the chance, I'll give an update to the week and pass along some of the good news we've been experiencing.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
I’ve got a secret to tell you, but you have to promise not to tell anyone else, in fact, especially don’t tell your pastor, because, well, he might not let me back….
Fr. Reutter/Fr. St. George, well, he is, ummm…, a sinner. He is not perfect. In fact, there are things that he struggles with. Now, be assured I am not breaking a seal of confession, as I am pretty sure he has never gone to confession to me, nor would I really want him to, unless it is an emergency. But how do I know that he is a sinner? Well, because the second secret is that I am a sinner, too. I have weaknesses, I have foibles, I make mistakes, I fall down. It isn’t the place to discuss them openly, but rest assured, I am very sure that I am not perfect. Ask my mother!
But I don’t say this as if it is a bad thing, in fact, it is a very good thing to have your priest, your pastor, be a sinner. It is something that I became conscious of very soon after I was ordained a priest. Even though I am still working out my own salvation as a Catholic Christian, salvation which involves me now serving Christ as a Priest, I must also help others in their path to salvation. It is the marvelous way that Christ set up His Church, that even though it is the Spirit who is in charge, He works through the instruments of very imperfect agents. So it is important to pray for your priests, as they in turn, pray for you.
I do not say this to beg for prayers, even though I am very much in need of them, I do this in recognition of our First Reading today, for this is exactly what the priests of the Old Covenant, at the time of the Captivity, failed to realize. They forgot that they were there as God’s instruments, to help lead the people towards salvation. Instead, as we hear in the Second Book of Chronicles, they ‘added infidelity to infidelity, practicing all the abominations of the nations and polluting the LORD’s temple, which he had consecrated in Jerusalem.’ The priests should have known better, but became comfortable in their position and in their status, in their place as leaders, and no longer call the people to conversion, no longer cared about the right sacrifice in the Temple, they no longer recognized their own need for salvation and that they were supposed to lead others to salvation.
Because of this, God destroyed the Temple and allowed them to be carted off into Exile. We hear echoes of the shame in the Psalm for today: “We hung our harps by the streams of Babylon and sat and wept, for Zion, God’s Holy City has been destroyed!”
But this fact that we priests are sinners and imperfect, in fact that we all are imperfect and sinners, is something which we strangely rejoice over! So many times throughout the Old Covenant, God tried to reach out and restore us to His friendship, restore us to a place of honor in Creation. But the more He called us to conversion, the more we turned our hearts against him. While Moses and Aaron were present, we did fairly well, but even then the Golden Calf was made. During the time of judges and prophets, the people of Israel were sometimes good, as long as a righteous leader was present. But soon, they would fall back into their old ways. The Kings were an unmitigated disaster!
But in the New Covenant, the Covenant founded in Christ, we no longer have to rely on the weaknesses and foibles of the priests, for we have a perfect priest whom we all worship: Jesus Christ! And what we see in this snippet of the passage of the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, is the whole key that will turn this whole thing we call the experiment of life around: John 3:16. There are many apparent answers to why Christ came to this Earth, but here we have a summary of his whole mission, a short summary which, I think, we should all memorize: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish, but might have eternal life.”
This is the key! Christ came not to be a good teacher, not even to embrace the poor, not to be a spiritual role model, he came to save us from our sins, so that we can dwell with him forever. If we are here to experience something other than salvation, if we are here looking for something other than that great gift of Salvation; we are here for the wrong reasons. Salvation is first and foremost what we are about. My salvation. My coming to know Christ so much, that I cannot wait to be with him not only in this life, but also in the next. This is what drives the Church’s mission to the poor, this is what drives her commitment to social justice, because it helps me to know that Christ died for my sins, in a way that is perfect and eternal, and unlimited. And I want others to know about it.
Hence, we rejoice that we are sinners, for when we forget that we are in need of salvation, we forget that we are in need of Christ. It starts with the Holy Father, it runs through every priest and bishop, and drives every Catholic and Christian in the world to be Christ’s agent of light out in the midst of the world.
As we reach this midpoint of the Lenten Season, let us rejoice that we have so great a redeemer who won for us Salvation. But let us also strive to always recognize our great need for redemption, for it is only in that recognition are our hearts truly opened to receive the powerful and great light of Christ, which will dispel the darkness of sin and radiate the bright joy of Everlasting Life.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
For those following along on my twitter account (My mom asked about twitter last night, which is just frightenly scary!), I promised to post an audio recording of my presentation at UD from last monday. Alas, it is still not posted. I will try again later today. (It's on my home computer, I'm over at the office.)
Keep watching, it'll show up eventually, I hope!
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
More later, gonna be a busy day here. heading out for a dermatologist appointment, then off to Dayton for a Discernment Group meeting at the University of Dayton (which is preceded by a few individual meetings as well.)
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Some are already in the application process, some are in the inquiry stage, some are just checking it out.
Please keep all 11 men in your prayers.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
The Catholic Telegraph, paper for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, has joyfully announced the launch of a redesigned page, featuring an major update in content and userability.
stop over and look around!
Who says the Church doesn't embrace technology?
The Most Rev. Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Archbishop of Cincinnati, made the following statement regarding Pope Benedict XVI’s letter to the world’s Roman Catholic bishops about the recent Williamson controversy:
“The letter projects the voice of a pastor and the heart of a father. It sounds like the voice of Christ to me. I am proud and grateful that Benedict XVI is our Pope.”
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
That's right! Blame the other guy and pull the innocent victim plea:
On the political front, McDonald and Lawlor have been at odds with the Catholic church on issues such as gay marriage, gay adoption, and gay civil unions. O’Neill suggested that given their history of being on the opposite side of such issues, that it might have been advisable for the co-chairmen to contact church leaders and at least work with other committee members in drafting the proposal. “There was zero communication about this bill with Catholic leaders and even with the ranking members,” O’Neill said. “I haven’t heard anybody step forward to say we’re 100 percent with you on this.” Democratic state Rep. Robert Godfrey, a Judiciary Committee member, accused Catholic leaders of a smear campaign. “The Bishop [Lori] doesn’t want anyone to see the diocese’s books and how the money is spent,” Godfrey told CNSNews.com. “He is trying to smear the co-chairs. It’s very sad. The public is outraged over a fiction. The scheduled hearing tomorrow was cancelled because the Capitol Police were sweating crowd control.”
Tom Peters at American Papist has the complete coverage.
This year, I (somewhat foolishly) decided to pray for an increase of patience during this season, and undertook a much more rigorous plan of fasting, especially during Wednesdays and Fridays, but trying to avoid the snacking, chocolates, and other little indulgences during the day. (did I mention there's a chocolate jar at the front desk of the 8th floor which I pass several times a day. The caramel filled dark chocolate squares scream my name as I pass by. Man, my mouth is watering all of a sudden!)
Well, I've actually done fairly well so far, but it hasn't been easy. And as a friend says, by the time dinner rolls around, even the drapes aren't safe! (I had dinner at a friends house last Friday, and it was all I could do not to swipe the food off of his children's plates, too!)
Through this, patience and tolerance has grown, although it can at times send up some flares of irritability, mostly controlled, or only expressed in solitude.
Well, apparently, God decided I needed more work in the patience area. The courtyard at Millinnial Plaza, across Central Ave. from the residence at the Cathedral, as been under some repairs for the last few weeks. It seems the garage underneath has been leaking water, and it was decided to seal it up, a notable undertaking for sure.
HOWEVER, since they don't want to bother the workers, they begin the repair work at around 4:00 in the afternoon and work until roughly midnight (or later). Hmmm... trying to sleep with a powerwasher or two, a jackhammer, and a grinding wheel all going at the same time. Exercise in patience.
So, if I look a little hassled, now you know it's not necessarily the fasting, but the grinding is causing the problems.
Patience, what a wonderful grace to pray for.
Why is it that a nice juicy hamburger always sounds better on Fridays of Lent than any other day? I can go weeks without craving this particularly American meal, but once Lent starts it seems that this is all I can think of! The Forbidden Fruit lures one into its trap.
Yet, during Lent we are called to a particular joy in fasting, as we hear on Ash Wednesday: “When you fast, do not put on a gloomy face like the hypocrites.” Rather, Jesus instructs us to “wash our faces, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” (Mt 6:17-18) So we are called to fast joyfully, but what are the roots of why we fast?
It actually starts at the very beginning of the Old Testament, as Adam is instructed in the Garden of Eden to eat freely of all the fruit that is present, except that of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. It is a divine command from God to help exercise our discipline in following His commands.
Fasting marks so many other aspects of life in the Scriptures as well. Whenever the People of Israel begin a journey, they are to fast so that they may rely on God’s strength, rather than their own, for the completion of the journey. Jesus begins his public ministry with a period of 40 days of fasting and prayer in the desert. His confrontation with Satan at the end of this time of purification gives us the answer to the spiritual dimension of fasting, as “one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God!” (Mt 4:4) Our discipline of fasting is to help our own purification process, so that following in the example of Jesus; we may do just what he instructs here.
These spiritual dimensions of fasting help to break the modern tendency to see the results in purely physical terms. It is good to lose weight, to have less of the self to carry around, but these are only secondary effects of the deeper spiritual reality that is shared in fasting.
But fasting is not the only aspect of Lent. The ‘three legged stool’ also includes almsgiving and prayer. But these are certainly informed by our fasting. Our experience of hunger, of thirsting for God’s presence while we fast, should also highlight the daily need of the poor among us. Pope Benedict remarks in his Lenten Message that ‘voluntary fasting enables us to grow in the spirit of the Good Samaritan, who bends low and goes to the help of his suffering brother.’ We give of our surplus so that those in need may experience the providence of God.
Ideally, our program of fasting, prayer and almsgiving is not something that we do only during Lent, but is a mark of the life of a committed Catholic Christian. We focus on these in specific ways during this time so that we might strive to turn vices that have crept into our lives over the last year into virtues that help to build the Kingdom of God. So in fasting from sarcasm, for example, we should also try to build up a virtue of praising and extolling our neighbors.
Finally, fasting turns our hearts toward God. We are to recognize through our sacrifice that all that we truly need is God’s loving providence. He will provide for those who step out in faith. As we are freed from our dependence on material goods, we can experience this providence on an ever deeper level. We come to a great communion with the God who loves us so much that He sent His only begotten Son so that we might have life through him.
During this time of Lent, let us strive to be unencumbered by the anxieties of this life, so that we might have freedom in the next.
For a family practice of Lent, see here: http://cincinnativocations.org/vocationawarenessweek2009/Family%20Faith%20Formation.pdf
Please keep her in your prayers.
I had the fortune of meeting Kay and her family last summer, and was sad to have to miss her going away party this past weekend. She is entering the life soberly and devoutly, please keep her in your prayers. She is certainly in mine.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Not a real shocker.
According to Tom Peters, it's been pulled. Thank God! But watch, it'll return.
Monday, March 9, 2009
It should, for we priests should not strive to be decent, or nice, or liked by the people.
Don't yell at me, Aimee is the one clamoring for it:
Priest, if you are merely nice, and teach others to be merely nice, you have failed in your calling as a priest – and failed in your calling to form your people in the image of Christ; more, to form Christ in your people. We are eating God; meant to live on God; we need to be taught how to do so, and become His dwelling place on earth, here and now. We human beings are the meeting place between heaven and earth, between God and creation, and we need to be taught how to open ourselves up and let God in, for real, right now, through Christ. But if you are not pursuing Him yourself, seriously, every moment of the day, you cannot teach us how.
Thanks to New Advent for the link.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
The first reading that we have today is one of those almost garish readings from the Old Testament. To our modern ears, it is incredible that God would ask for a human sacrifice, that God would seemingly demand that Abraham, after a long journey of faith, would now have to kill the one gift that he has been waiting and waiting for: the gift of his son.
Plus, today the Church comes out so vociferously on the side of life, which this seems to be a senseless act. How is it that a Church that is so pro-life could hold up the example found in this Scripture passage?
Well, as we look at this passage, I think what has to be kept in mind is that this is a passage about Abraham, not Isaac, his story will be told later. In our typical modern mindset, it is easy to lose track of the scope and depth of the story of Abraham, how he became our Father in Faith, that this story jumps off the page at us. So, let us turn back and look at his example, so that we may learn from his faith.
In the early part of his life, even after he was given the great promise from God that ‘he would become the father of many nations,’ Abraham always traveled with a security blanket, so to speak. When he was called to leave his homeland, he took his nephew Lot with him. When he visited Egypt, he sold his wife out to the pharaoh, so that he would not become jealous of Abraham. He protects his son Ishmael (through the harlot Hagar) when his wife Sarah tries to send him away, because she knew that as long as Ishmael was with Abraham, Abraham would not fully trust.
All through this process, God is working on Abraham, trying to increase his faith, so that finally God is able to grant that deep desire of Abraham’s heart: once that heart is fully purified, God grants that Isaac may be born. The promise made many, many years ago is finally starting to be fulfilled. Abraham’s faith is now true, and centered on nothing else. What becomes remarkable at this stage is that he is no longer holding on to some type of security blanket, but is ready and willing to give back to God the great gift that God has given to him in his son. What a beautiful testimony!
But there is an even deeper level than this. Whenever we read the Old Testament as Catholics, we always read it through the lens of Christ, typology is inescapable.
Here, in the passage that was trimmed from the pericope that we have heard is how Isaac carried the wood of his own impending sacrifice up the hill to the place of Sacrifice. This immediately brings to mind Jesus carrying his cross up the Hill of Calvary. The Church Fathers richly developed this theme and expounded upon it in the years after Jesus life, death and resurrection.
But there is even something more that is here in this passage that has another impact for the Christian believer. Ancient Jews, even up to the very day of Christ were very aware of where Mt. Moriah was. They knew what happened on that mountain, for it was known in their day as Temple Mount. This is the last part of the Holy Land that was conquered by the people, this was the mountain that as David brought up the Ark of the Covenant, he danced before it naked in jubilation. Finally, this holy site from the deep recesses of the past was part of the patrimony of the Jews. It was on this mountain that Solomon built the first Temple, the Western Wall still stands today (of the later Temple.)
Jewish Christians at the time of Jesus and the Apostles would have been very aware of these connections, and it would have confirmed the truth of who and what Jesus truly was.
But there is even more! In the comparison between the Sacrifice of Isaac and the future Sacrifice of Christ, we see how the New Covenant completed and replaced the Old Covenant, for the New took it to a deeper degree.
The Sacrifice of Isaac is not only a foreshadow of Christ’s Sacrifice, but it is also a foreshadow of the Old Covenant Sacrifice, which was imperfect. Abraham wanted to give the greatest gift he had been given (Isaac) by God back to God, but was prevented by God’s own hand. Instead, Abraham offers a propitiatory sacrifice, a sacrifice of the ram caught in the thicket as a replacement for his very own son. In the Old Covenant begun under Aaron and Moses, the priest had to do the same thing. He had to first offer, on the Day of Atonement, a propitiatory sacrifice of a bull, in place of himself, because he could not offer himself.
In the New Covenant, the Sacrifice is no longer of one offering another, it is now Christ offering Himself. This makes all of the difference! By giving Himself, He is able to overcome the weaknesses of the Old Covenant and establish an unbreakable bond between the human race and God. All things become new in Christ! The limitations and weaknesses of the old are completed and renewed in Christ. This is what we are preparing to enter anew at Easter.
Therefore, as we continue our journey through Lent, what we see in the example of Abraham and of Christ is that it is not enough to offer God just the leftovers, what remains after we have taken care of ourselves. Rather, let us throw off the security blankets that we have accumulated around us and offer back to God the most precious gift that He has bestowed upon us: our very gift of self as an offering back to God, in the model and mode of Christ, that He may do as He wishes with our lives and build and establish His Kingdom through us.
Friday, March 6, 2009
Thursday, March 5, 2009
In other news, Archbishop Schnurr will be on Cincinnati's Channel 19 (Fox affiliate) 10:00 news this evening, in an interview that taped a few weeks ago. Should be re-aired in the morning as well. I'll check post fact to see if I can embed it here.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
"Father Ballman was a very dedicated priest who celebrated almost 66 years as a priest faithfully serving God’s people. May he share the joy of all the saints in heaven. "
Rest in Peace.
Funeral is on Thursday in Dayton
Monday, March 2, 2009
After fasting most of Friday and then missing lunch on Saturday b/c of appointments, I started gnawing on the arm of the chair during the First Reading at Mass on Saturday afternoon. I'm afraid the pastor was rather upset with the teeth marks I left, too.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Mike Aquilina, patristic scholar in his own right (and author of a fantastic book i was recently given by a friend on ancient signs and symbols) interviews sociologist Rodney Stark on the rise of the Early Church from a sociological point of view. He makes some interesting claims, some of which follow. Read the entire interview here.
I sometimes get asked why I am fascinated with the Early Church. The simple answer is that I feel we are re-entering a period very similar to what happened then, with respect to Church-State relations. The more we know of how the Early Church dealt with the adversity faced, the better we can face the similar adversity.
You say that Christianity succeeded in part because of its high moral standards. Today, however, many churches are lowering the bar to make religion more popular. How would you analyze their efforts?
RS: They're death wishes. People value religion on the basis of cost, and they don't value the cheapest ones the most. Religions that ask nothing get nothing. You've got a choice: you can be a church or a country club. If you're going to be a church, you'd better offer religion on Sunday. If you're not, you'd better build a golf course, because you're not going to get away with being a country club with no golf course. That's what happened to the Episcopalians, Methodists, Congregationalists, Unitarians and, indeed, to some sectors of Catholicism.
Are Christians waking up to that?
RS: Most denominations are tightening up, and the reason is they're running out of members. The young clergy have religious motives that their elders didn't necessarily share. It was a much better job forty years ago. If you look at Catholic religious orders, you'll find that some are recovering and some new ones are growing. The only ones growing are those that have joint living arrangements instead of everybody living out on their own; that have organized worship; and that have some distinctive dress, so you can recognize them on the street as not just your average social worker or schoolteacher. That's a QED. If religion gets too cheap, nobody pays the price.
Here's an example: Do you really need to have hamburgers on Friday? Getting rid of meatless Fridays was a dreadful error the Church made. When I was a kid -- in a town that was 40 percent Catholic and 60 percent Protestant -- meatless Friday was an enormously important cultural marker. Every Friday reminded you who was like you and who wasn't like you -- and it did this in a way that wasn't harmful to either side.
Our high-school football games were always played on Friday nights. After the game, you took your girlfriend to the drive-in restaurant. And, around midnight, you could hear the Catholic kids count down to twelve and then shout, "Hamburger!" And everybody would laugh. It was a little social ritual that left Catholics with an enormous sense of solidarity. We thought hamburgers were the big denominational difference.
What do you make of the current pope?
RS: Here's someone who knows what it was like for the first Christians -- who knows what it is to fight for his Church's life. If an Italian bishop wants to know how many Catholics are in his diocese, he looks in the census books for the number of people who live nearby. A bishop in Communist Poland knew that the census and the number of Catholics were not the same number, and that it's important to get yourself some Catholics if you want to have a Church. Whether you agree with him or you don't, it's very clear this pope is a holy man, that he's on a mission.