Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I've been keeping it mostly secret, but we've got a new endeavor shaping up tomorrow in the Vocation Office, but I'm struggling with what to call it.  If I were Oprah, (and thank God I am not!), I would call it a 'book club.'  But I'm not her, so we're stuck at 'discernment group,' which is thoroughly uninspiring, but perfectly descriptive.  Enough rambling:

Tomorrow evening, a number of men who are contemplating the option of the priesthood are coming together to begin a discussion on Deus Caritas Est.  Please keep them in your prayers (and include a shout or two for me leading this group.)

For those in the Cincinnati area who might be interested, contact me through the Vocation Office.

Oh, other good news: candidate #2 'MF' was accepted for the Fall.  Many more to come, but shaping up nicely.

world Day of Prayer for Vocations

The Pope's message for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations.

For teens, by teens

With the recognition that our neo-pagan culture has strong resemblance to the first century's original pagan culture; comes http://www.earlychristians.org/, a site for teens to help them apply the lessons of the Early Church to today's world.

A swing of the thurible to Fr. V at Adam's Ale.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Prayers Requested

Bishop Campbell of Columbus, Ohio, is having his leg partially amputated tomorrow.

He is expected to make a full recovery, but prayers certainly won't hurt.

First Time for Everything

So, one of the perks of working in the downtown office, ok, really the only perk of working there instead of in a parish, we occassionally get invites and tickets to things I wouldn't normally attend or be invited into.

(sidebar: remind me to tell you the story of the invitation to attend a Reds Game in the owner's box that I had to turn down....)

Yesterday, one of the men on the Finance Council for the Archdiocese had invited a few of the priests who work in the Central Office to the Ballet with his company.  I admit, my mind was racing for a way out, as even though I enjoy the Broadway Series, I tend to be a 'words' person and not visual, so the thought of the ballet was something, well.... let me finish the story.

The company was also hosting a reception before hand, which I was glad to be invited to attend, especially as I hadn't had dinner, and lunch was a handful of pretzels.  Also, as a dyed in the wool extrovert, doing the 'meet and greet' thing is right up my alley.  New friends were made, new connections connected, and a few snacks shared.

However, our revelry in the Green Room was soon to pass, the chimes sounded, the lights dimmed, and off we went to the show arena.  After some initial jostling around for seats, we settled in to see leaps and bounds across the stage, and the wife of my host forced us all to turn in our cell phones so we couldn't check the scores from the Tournament!  Argh!

After some (brief?) announcements, the curtain rises and the show begins.  I admit, my knowledge of Ballet is about as good as my knowledge of particle physics, so I have no idea what to make of it, but I'd give it a go.

The first piece had some definite religious overtones, with the dancers making overt Signs of the Cross several times.  I'm usually hyped up to see if it is afront, but it was respectful, graceful; I would say.  The ten dancers all seemed to be in unison.  My initial impression: enjoyment.

The second piece was the showcase for the night: Sinatra Suites.  They had set five Sinatra songs to dance, in a ballroom style, and again while I have no idea what to look for, the athleticism of the two dancers was certainly impressive.

Third, a clip from Tarantello was played, more on the classical ballet style, it was high energy was about all I can say.

Fourth was, to me, the most interesting.  It was a world premier of 'World Citizen' and featured three 'sets' I would call it.  The opening was very techno, hard beat, electronica.  I have to admit that I enjoyed it tremendously.  The second set was good as well, featuring four dancers than the company routine of the first set.  I found the music in the third set to be jarring, and I was mildly surprised to find that my ears were not bleeding at the end.  It made watching the dancing almost impossible.

All in all, I am very glad I went.  Certainly, I would not go to the Ballet every week, but it is certainly a perk of living downtown that I can walk over and enjoy world class theatre and arts.  A special thanks for the invitation to he who made it.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Homily, Friday, Week 4 of Lent

Homily delivered March 27, 2009, at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center for the Fourth Friday Mass, specifically for priests and an increase in vocations to the priesthood.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Over the next 48 hours, the phone is going to be off, the alarm is off, and the computer wire unplugged.

Hmm...  #1 way to kill blog traffic: silence.  I'm doing a great job at that this week, aren't I?

Will return on fire Sunday morning.

Prayers for Priests

Fr. Rob Jack, faculty member at Mount. St. Mary's Seminary in Cincinnati, provides a great service of listing a 'priest a day' for the faithful to remember in a special way during their prayers.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fr. Barron on Notre Dame

From the Chicago Tribune.

As seen at Ignatius Insight

It's not good when

your sister, parent of four (oldest in 2nd grade, one with Special Needs) emails you to say:

"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

Christ as Source of Salvation (Sunday Homily)

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.

iTunes is now active!

If you do a search on iTunes for 'Cincinnati Vocations,' you'll find our page!

(Now I've got to update regularly, YIKES!)

Friday, March 20, 2009

How to LOSE a culture war

So, Kurt H caught me on posting a ten plus year old article as if it were new.  Guilty as charged, and well, that's what I get for not doing my homework.

Kurt also mentioned that 'the article could use a little updating.'  Well, lo and behold, but what did appear at Patrick Madrid's blog?!?!  An updated version!  (YEAH!)

It's a nine page pdf, so it might take a bit to download, written in the style of CS Lewis' Screwtape Letters. Regardless, a fun read.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


The technological advance continues.  I've registered the podcasts to be uploaded over at iTunes to make it easier to download onto computers and such.  I'll post links when they become available.

(It is registered under 'Cincinnati Vocations')


Presentation given to the University of Dayton Discernment Group, Monday, March 16, 2009. (45:00)

Communion and Children with Disabilities

As we are entering First Communion Season (I've got a niece receiving for the first time in a few weeks), one of the questions that inevitable come up is the possibility of children with special needs receiving the Eucharist.

US Catholic features a longer piece on the same topic, for which Darcee was also interviewed.

It is a question near and dear to my heart, as one of my most memorable days as a priest was giving First Communion to a girl of about ten who had severe Cerebral Palsy. There was not a dry eye in the place, including mine. (Even Germans have emotions, some of the time!)

But even closer to home, another neice (sister to the First Communicant above) has ACC, which presents much like Autism. You better believe I will fight for her to receive, if I have to.

To those parents of children with special needs, your grace and sacrifice is a unique and special way of living Christ on the Cross, a daily dying to self to live for others. I know it is not easy or fun, and certainly not something that is to be wished upon thy worst enemy; but your children often teach the rest of us what it is to truely trust in God's wonderous providence.

The pertinent paragraph on the question above:

According to the U.S. Bishops’ Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities, a person must “be able to distinguish the Body of Christ from ordinary food, even if this recognition is evidenced through manner, gesture, or reverential silence rather than verbally.” Just as parishes don’t expect all 7- or 8-year-old communicants to expound upon the meaning of transubstantiation, children like Rachel, who may not be able to go through formal religious education, are simply asked to recognize that the Eucharist is sacred and not just a snack.

quiet times

Apologies for 'no original content' here lately. Been busy with the day job, actually. (I know, even priests have 'day jobs') When combined with penance services, the 'day job' can get pinched and needs to be 'caught up'.

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!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Culture War

Peter Kreeft had an excellent article on Inside Catholic which is making the rounds.

I shared it with a number of young men and women at the University of Dayton's Discernment Group last night.  (That talk will be posted sometime today as an audio format.)

Monday, March 16, 2009

It's our turn!

The Holy Father announces a Year for Priests, from 19 June, 2009, to 19 June, 2010.

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

Welcome Weekend ongoing

We have 11 men here at Mount St. Mary's of the West, School of Theology for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, exploring life as a priest with the Archdiocese.

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

This whole technology thing with the internet is really catching on, eh?

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?

Archbishop Pilarczyk's response to Pope's Letter

From the Communication's Office of the Archdiocese:

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


When you don't agree, or get caught red handed (or faced), what do you do?

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.

A 'Careful what you pray for' post

Besides the one Lent where I had reconstructive knee surgery two days before Ash Wednesday, I've always had problems with the fasting aspect of Lent. Even with that one in Seminary, I didn't fast a whole lot, but the stress and agony of therapy was a unique way to enter the Cross during this season.

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.

The Spiritual Benefits of Fasting

Hot off the presses, this week's Catholic Telegraph includes my next column:

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

Forsaking the World

Fr. V over at Adam's Ale reports on the recent developments in the life of one of his sheep. She is heading to the Convent this week.

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.

Monday, March 9, 2009

No More Decent Priests!

Sound shocking?

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.

Saying it, without saying it

Another submission by my brother:

Saying it without saying it:

A fellow was getting ready to tee off by himself on the first hole when a tall, stately, grey haired Gentleman approached and asked if he Could join him. the first man said that he usually played alone, but agreed to the twosome.

They were even after the first two holes. The tall, stately gentleman said, 'We're about evenly matched, how about playing for five bucks a hole?'

The first fellow said he was a pretty good player, and that he wasn't much for betting, but agreed to the terms, thinking we're pretty even so far, so why not?
 The stately gentleman played 'straight & true' golf the rest of the round and won the remaining sixteen holes with ease. As they were walking off the 18th green, and while counting his $80, the tall, stately golfer confessed that he was the teaching pro at a neighboring course and liked to pick on suckers.

The first fellow revealed t hat he was the parish priest. The pro got all flustered and apologetic, offering to return the money. The priest said, 'You won fair and square and I was foolish to bet with you. You keep your winnings.' The pro said, 'Is there anything I can do to make it up to you?'

The priest said, 'Well, you could come to mass on Sunday and make a donation. And, if you want to bring your mother and father along, I'll marry them.'

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Abraham, Our Father in Faith (Sunday Homily)

Delivered at the Cathedral and Our Lady of Victory:

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

Fox 19's Faith Works w/ Archbishop Schnurr

Video of Archbishop Schnurr's interview on Cincinnati's Fox 19 can be found here.

Roman Stational Churches

A great tradition that my folks and I hit once last year while in Rome is the 'Stational Church' journey through Rome.

Every day, Mass is celebrated in a different Church, by a different priest, journeying throughout the Eternal City.  Seminarians from the PNAC, priests from the Casa, sisters, and other English speaking pilgrims come together to worship Our Lord in these ancient sites.

For more information, click here.  Today's Church is of particular importance: Dodici Apostoli, the Twelve Apostles.  As one priest of the Archdiocese studying at the Greg said from his balcony at the Casa; hmm, two Apostles just a short nine iron away.

Anyone want to go?  I could be ready tomorrow!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Church Bulletin Bloopers

Apparently, these actually appeared in church bulletins or were announced during church services:

•    The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.

•    The sermon this morning: "Jesus Walks on the Water."

•    The sermon tonight: "Searching for Jesus."

•    Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.

•    The peacemaking meeting scheduled for today has been cancelled due to a conflict.

•    Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community.

•    Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.

•    Miss Charlene Mason sang "I will not pass this way again," giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.

•    For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

•    The Rector will preach his farewell message after which the choir will sing:     "Break Forth Into Joy."

•    Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days!

•    At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be "What Is Hell?" Come early and listen to our choir practice.

•    Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.

•    Scouts are saving aluminium cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.

•    Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.

•    The church will host an evening of fine dining, supper entertainment and gracious hostility.

•    Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM - prayer and medication to follow.

•    The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.

•    This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.

•    The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.

•    The Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door.

•    The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the church basement Friday at 7 PM.  The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.

•    Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use the large double door at the side entrance.

•    The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new tithing campaign slogan last Sunday:   "I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours"

It's usually a dangerous thing....

when the first words out of someone's mouth back to me go something like: "You wouldn't be related to Tom Schnippel, would you?"  Oh boy, what did my father do to this guy?  Hmm.... should I run, I think I'm quicker than him.....

I had the evening shift at the Cathedral, and family was present to commemorate the year's anniversary of the matriarch's death.  Grandfather, Father and Mother, Son and Wife, were all present at the Mass, and simply asked me to pray for their departed wife, mother, grandmother.

I didn't think much of it, we get these requests all the time.

I de-vested, and since I am the only one in tonight, I was on my own for dinner.  Ah, it's Lent, so a good chance to fast, so I run to the Quik E Mart over a block, and returning to the Cathedral, was heading for the main office entrance, as I had dropped my books in that stairwell back to the residence.

This same family was parked on the street changing a tire on their minivan, when I got the dubious question above.  "Father, you wouldn't be from the German Ghetto up north, would you?"  I am, actually.  "Minster?"  HECK NO!  (Sorry, Kurt H, couldn't resist.)  Botkins.  Then the father looked at me and asked: "You wouldn't be related to Tom, would you?"

Hmm... My father is in a business where he meets many, many folks, and some (really, just a few) are not always pleased with what he has done.  But he looked pretty friendly, smiling a bit as he said it.  So, I admitted, "He's my father."

This man lit up like a tree!  "I went to High School with your father!"  (and my mother, too.)

What was looking like a somewhat dreary night was turned into a night of joy as we told some stories, caught up on different details, and eventually grabbed the cell phone to call north: "Mom, do you know a F. B.?"  "Yeah, why?"  Hold on, as I had the phone over.  Talking to her later, she was mightily impressed that we made the connection.  Turns out, he had left town a few days after high school graduation, and hardly been back.   (Echoes of my own story?)

Anyway, we got the tire changed, with the help of the Cathedral's Floor Jack, and sent out on their way to have dinner together in honor of the Matriarch.  But promises were made to connect back up for dinner sometime soon.

Hmm... A chance encounter turns to a new friendship.

See, Fasting for Lent is good for you!

(By the way, before I get acused elsewise, I do very much love my family and am very proud of who they are and that I can call them Mom, Dad, brothers and sisters; it's just part of the family contract that we have to bust on each other.  Just part of the deal, ya know?)

Welcome Weekend next weekend

Mount St. Mary's Seminary is hosting their annual Welcome Weekend for men interested in the preisthood for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. More information can be found here: http://cincinnativocations.org/frm032709.php

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.

UPDATE:  Channel 19 'was experiencing technical difficulties with the piece, we will air it at a later date.'   grumble grumble grumble

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Rest in Peace

Word comes that Fr. Tom Ballman of the Archdiocese has completed his journey here on Earth, and now awaits the fulfillment of the promise in Heaven. From the priest's notification:

"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

Parent's Duty

Parent's Duty is a web resource 'dedicated to fostering vocations to religious life in the Catholic Church by focusing on the duty of parents to seek to recognize and nurture these gifts.

One section that caught my eye: Voices from the Monastery.

I get many calls from parents who are looking for something like this, now I know where to send them!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Blogger issues

Blogger seems to be having some issues with my blog, I don't know what it is or what to do to fix it.

New Presider's Chair?

Does anyone know where I can get a new presider's chair for the parish where I assisted this past weekend?

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.

'We could have a little bit better approach.'

This morning's Cincinnati Enquirer features a full length interview by reported Dan Horn with Coadjutor Archbishop Dennis Schnurr.  A nice perusal over his first months in office here in the Queen City, a few questions towards the middle caught my eye:

Priest recruitment was a priority for you in Duluth, where the number of seminarians tripled on your watch. Will it be a priority here?

"I don't think the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is an exception. It's a very important concern for the church. There are many good programs in the archdiocese that relate to vocations (priest recruitment), but there are places we could have a little bit better approach."

Will you be actively involved in priest recruitment?

"I think it's very important for the archbishop to express an interest in the seminarians. The renewal I experienced from the seminarians in Duluth was nothing less than inspiring."

Why have some Catholics, especially young Catholics, drifted away from the church and from regularly attending Mass?

"What we are experiencing is in part due to the real confusion that followed the Second Vatican Council (a series of reforms in the 1960s). We didn't explain the changes that were taking place, so people became very confused. Because of that confusion, a lot of our Catholics, you might say, threw the baby out with the bath water."

What can you do to bring them back?

"You hear people say we have to establish a culture of vocations, and I agree with that ... The whole idea of God calling can't just be limited to the priesthood. Every single person has a vocation. Everyone has been called to a purpose. One of the most important questions we have to answer in our lives is, 'What has God called me to do?' Until you raise the question - Why did God create me? - there is no understanding and you're not going to pursue that purpose."

Sunday, March 1, 2009

He's a 'Hole-y' Guy

LoL Saints has one of my favs today.

A good Catholic with a great sense of humor can be an extremely effective evangelist.

Lessons from the Early Church

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.