Monday, December 31, 2007

Typical phone conversation

in many parishes this time of the year:

Me (answers phone): Hello, Cathedral.

Caller: Do you have Midnight Mass this evening?

Me: Yes, sir.

Caller: What time?

Me: Ummm.... Midnight. (Thinking: Hence, the name!)

Caller: It's not earlier in the evening?

Me: Nope, it's at Midnight.

Bored this evening?

Why not stop down at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains in Cincinnati for Adoration and Mass?

What better way to ring in a new year than spending some time with Our Lord in Adoration and celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at the stroke of Midnight?

The Vocation Office is hosting 'Adoration for Vocations' from 6 pm until Midnight, with Mass following Benediction. Start of the new year with a recharge from Christ!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Beautiful Worship

In the thread below, Rich hijacked my wishes for a Merry Christmas to steer the conversation onto 'beautiful worship' as the key to convicting the next generation. Uncle Jim chided that 'beautiful worship' could be something subjective, and what hits you may not hit me.

*By the way, I'm not complaining about the hijack, it dovetails nicely.

I just got off the phone with my father, which is always a treat b/c he doesn't do phone 'small talk' well.

In the course of our discussion, he mentioned that he and mom attended the 9:00 AM Mass Christmas morning at our home parish. The Mass had all the smells and bells, incense, singing and chanting, full compliment of servers, even lasted 1.5 hours.

Drove him nuts.

Not that it was too long, not that the homily was bad, not that the singing was offkey (we didn't discuss most of that), but a family in front of them seemingly have had infrequent attendence at best, and in dad's words: "The kids were old enough to know better" than what their behavior showed.

"I left Christmas Mass with the desire to go home and get a drink at 10:30 in the morning."

I wonder if the family in front of my parents left 'convicted.'

Admittedly, it is unfair to ask one liturgy to do that, but it could happen, because ultimately Mass is where we have the most profound interaction with Christ (and Adoration as an offshoot that returns us deeper into Mass.)

But, to know Jesus, one must first know about Jesus. But knowing about Jesus isn't enough to sustain a life long pilgrimage of faith.

Hmmm.... dilemma.

Much more to ponder over in this great season of Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

Well, after a busy few days, I've finally caught up on some rest and and am basking the glow of the Second Day of Christmas, aka St. Stephan's Day. (Or Boxing Day for those crazy Canuckistanis!)

I hope you all had a wonderful and joyous Celebration of Our Lord's Birth. I had five Masses (two vigils, Midnight, and two morning) over the last two days at one parish while the pastor recuperates from a hip replacement. It was a nice little parish (seats 120 people tightly!) Afterwards, I went to a friends house for dinner and a long conversation about the state of the Church, a little to do with the Vocation Office and how to 'Convict' the next generation.

Finally, I hope the joy you experienced was even only slightly as great as my niece, who really got into a new NEMO! something or other.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Thoughts to Ponder...

Is there anything more peaceful than a two year old sleeping soundly on her father's lap? Free Smiley Face Courtesy of

Is there anything more terrorizing than a two year old who needs a nap but is fighting it off so that she doesn't miss anything because company is over and she wants to be the center of attention? Free Smiley Face Courtesy of Free Smiley Face Courtesy of

I love staying with my brother and visiting with my other siblings as well, but it also reassures me that I am in the vocation God laid out for me. Free Smiley Face Courtesy of

Good Families = More Vocations

Via the eNewsletter of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, comes the exhortation from the Asian Bishops that good families make for more vocations:

In their final statement, the bishops said that it was in families that the mystery of a vocation is born, encouraged and guided, and “the quality of family life […] either nourishes and fosters vocation or weakens and destroys” it.The bishops said an emerging global culture that fosters individualism, self-assertion and ambition brought a negative influence to Asian families and vocations as well.

As Catholics, especially during Christmas, we need to combat this 'emerging globacl culture that fosters individualism, self-assertion and ambition' with the deeper reality that an embrace of Christ, born for us by the Virgen, and crucified to take away our sins, is the only true path to an embrace of life.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Top Ten Posts

A few days ago, Adoro tagged me for a 'Top Ten' posts meme. Life interfered, but since it is a cold and foggy day in Iowa, it is time to scour my archives to see if I can round up ten posts that are worth sharing.

1) Spiritual Moms for Priests is a recent addition to the 'Called by Name' archive. I not only pass along info from the Vatican, but tell a bit of my own vocation story.

2) November brings The More, the Merrier with an idea of how to reinvigorate life in a parish.

3) October brought an unexpected surprise in Grateful for Gifts Received.

4) September brought about craziness in A Week in the Life of a Vocation Director.

5) I swiped A Father grows to support his daughter's vocation from Brad at Roman Catholic Vocations.

6) Seek Eagerly After Love was my attempt to present some of the themes from Deus Caritas Est.

7) My thoughts on Ordination to the Priesthood appeared in the Telegraph in May.

8) How to promote vocations in the Parish was the subject of One Every Eight.

9) Just in time for Advent comes a reflection from Lent on The Need for Reconciliation.

10) Last, but hopefully not least, are the words from one of the hardest days of my life as a priest, but also one of the most rewarding, as I shared my thought from the Homily for the Funeral Mass of a dear young one.

What day of Christmas?

Darcee passes on a little exercise in fun (by way of the Anchoress):

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Best laid plans...

So, tonight was organize the room (always a necessity), get things outlined and ready to go before driving to Iowa tomorrow to visit my brother for the weekend. I was hoping to get that 'top ten posts' meme (how do you say 'meme' anyways?) that Adoro tagged me with done at about this point in the evening, and hit the sack early. Instead I'm eating a cold dinner at 9:00 at night.

What's that about how to make God laugh, tell Him you plans?

Between confessions ending at 5:00 and Mass at 5:15, my friend Kelly called to inform that our friend Tim was having a heart attack and was on his way to Christ hospital, could I get there NOW? (Ok, put this in the right context:) "Shit, I've got Mass at 5:15, I'll go up when I'm done!"

By 6:00, I was in my car heading up to Clifton and Christ hospital, which is only about 1.5 miles from the Cathedral. By the time I got up there, he was in surgery, and I sat and talked to Janet, his wife, for a while. (The hospital chaplain scored major points and showed up as well.) Janet's sister and nephew showed up shortly, and we were eventually brought back to see Tim and speak to the doctor. (Dr. Jennings, a parishioner from my former assignment, came out to see us as well.)

They had taken care of the blockage, one main artery completely blocked, and had put in a stint. Tim was back to his normal color and personality (something about the nurse looking at his legs?) By this point, Janet had greatly calmed down and relaxed, but she was very cute when we first got to see Tim, you could see the love in her eyes.

God was very good to him, Janet and the family (7 children). They were driving to deliver gifts for a family who had lost everything and had just stopped to fix a tire at a Speedway gas station, and he went out. The squad got there quick, and Kelly was right there to take the children back to the house so Janet could go with Tim to the hospital. Janet's brother (I think) lives next to Dr. Jennings. And she was right there to give him someone to focus on so he didn't drop completely off.

Praise God for his many blessings!

An email just came across the wire that friends are putting together a 'spiritual bouqet' for Tim and his family. If you want to add to it, just post it in the combox and I will forward it to them.

Friends, take care of yourself (me included!) Tim is a physical therapist and knows the dangers, but wasn't as cautious as he needed to be. It certainly woke him up, do you have an unhealthy habit that could lead to something similar?

Consider it

Norbertine Nuns?

Another new community, or at least newly arrived in the states.

Swing of the Thurible to Drew at the Shrine.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Spiritual Moms for Priests

It is no secret to anyone who has asked my vocation story. I am convinced that I made it through the seminary on the merits and prayers of 'God's Blue Hair Army' who diligently attended their weekly holy hour at the little Adoration Chapel at Immaculate Conception Church in Botkins, Ohio. (Which just so happens to be my home parish.)

Let me back up a bit. I guess it was during the summer between my junior and senior year of high school that I had my first opportunity to attend a retreat day/visionary experience at Our Lady's Farm in Falmouth, Kentucky. (Think Medjugoria without all the hoopla.) I think the visions that were supposedly happening there have since been proven false, but on the 8th of the month for several successive months, my mother, brother and I would attend this pilgrimage, even to the point that we (my brother and I) were 'leading' a bus for the day. We would leave the friendly confines of Botkins, Ohio, and travel in a caravan of two to four buses to the Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center for Mass (now the location of the studios for Sacred Heart Radio, among other things) before traveling further down the road to Falmouth for messages that Our Lady would give to a visionary. While there were certainly miraculous things that happened during those trips, I didn't go b/c of the visionary, I went to connect with God, through Mary.

After going a few times that summer and then heading into my senior year during the fall, Cindy, who was the coordinator of the trips, started challenging me. Every time she saw me, she would look up at me and say: "You're going to be a priest some day!" My response: "Cindy, SHUSH! I'm going to be a doctor!" "I'm praying for you." was her simple response. I, of course, immediately started to pray to be a doctor. (Hindsight says if you have an option of me praying for you or Cindy S., choose Cindy!)

These little tits for tats lasted my entire senior year of high school, during which time I was dating a very nice girl (shhhh! she was a Protestant! Oh, the horror!) so I was not at all interested in the priesthood. Cindy became especially devious and by this time had started putting a petition in the prayer book in the Adoration Chapel at the parish, as well as getting her prayer group of her fellow little old ladies, to pray that I might become a priest one day. (SHE CHEATED!)

Low and behold, I went off to Ohio State after graduating from high school as a proud chemistry/Pre-Med major thinking that God had answered my prayers and left her's in the dust! HA!

As is again obvious, she triumphed in the end. (Ok, really, it was God, but only because she went all Andy Dufrense on Him and kept pestering him about me and the priesthood.) At the beginning of my third quarter at OSU, I came in a little late to the Catholic Student meeting at the Newman Center (run by the Paulists, no less) because I was an officer for the Pre-Med group which met the same night. Well, this particular evening, the topic at hand was vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

I couldn't sleep that night. I tossed and turned. I got up at one and watched tv (causing my roommate to look at me with serious concern on his face.) I left at two in the morning to walk around campus (don't suggest you follow in my footsteps on this one!) Finally, I agreed that I would talk to one of the priests at the Newman Center about it, and got to some sleep that night.

Easter weekend was even worse, as how do I tell my mother and what would she say? Finally, after hemming and hawing all weekend, I stopped her at about 2:00 on Easter Sunday: "Mom, I think God might be calling me to be a priest."

Well, after picking her up off of the floor, we looked at each other and wondered what was next. The rest, as they say, is history. I switched to the Josephinum in Columbus the following year. Three years later, I graduated and headed to Mount St. Mary's in Cincinnati. Five years post that, I was taking a nap in the Cathedral one morning....

But, importantly, during those eight years (which were a little more tumultuous than I lead on, but for the sake of brevity (In an already 1000 word plus article, he mentions 'brevity'?!?!?) I'll skip the nasty details), Cindy, her friends, my mother and sister, plus people I did not even know, prayed for me, by name, before Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

I would have NEVER made it without their prayers.

Which leads me to my whole point, that I have wanted to make on this blog for at least the last week ====>

The Vatican Congregation for the Clergy is looking for people willing to offer Eucharistic adoration for the preisthood and 'consecrated feminine souls' ready to become spiritual mothers of priests.

If you think that there is nothing that you can do to reverse the vocation crisis, you can always pray! NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF PRAYER!!!!

It got my sorry butt through the seminary, unworthy tho I be. Pick one man in seminary, one young woman in formation, and offer each an hour of prayer weekly.

My priesthood is an example of what can happen when a community joins together to pray for this. (Oh, and the gifts keep giving, as another young man from my home parish is likely entering the seminary in the fall!)

A Hidden Joy of Advent

Advent, and Lent, too, for that matter, are the two primary penitential seasons in the Church, which means extra work for her priests, as there are confessions to be heard. Most parishes schedule at least one communal penance service during these two seasons, with the result that extra priests are called in to assist in freeing parishioners from the traps of sin. While it is a joy to help out in parishes, it does eat up evenings as we travel the circuit from parish to parish.

The 'Hidden Joy' of the season is often connected with these penance services. It is a common expectation (but not universal) that the host pastor provide dinner for the priests who can make it, either before or after the penance service. As happened for me last night, there were mainly priests there whom I do not necessarily see too often. There was a flock of retired guys there, and the conversation over drinks and dinner about their history as priests, assignments they had as young priests, dealing with former Bishops and Archbishops, their rememberances of their time in the seminary and of their first pastors and old priests who were around as they began their service; it all made for a good connection with the past, as we also look to the glory of the future.

Please pray for your priests, as we get stretched thinner, it is not always easy to balance out our schedules. Please pray especially for an increase of vocations to the priesthood as well. It is a wonderful and joy-filled life, one which i wouldn't pass up for all the treasures in this world.

Monday, December 17, 2007

6,852 priests and 11,010 nuns (vocations “shortage”?)

So gives Fr. Thomas Euteneuer as the number of potential priests and religious killed by abortion. He cites the statistics in an article on Tim Tebow and his rise to the Heisman Trophy, but also that because of a set of circumstances before he was born, his mother's doctors advised her to have an abortion. The only question that remains: 'What could've been???'

The sports world recently greeted the news that this year’s Heisman Trophy Winner, Tim Tebow from the University of Florida, was almost a casualty of abortion. Twenty-some years ago he was not the strapping 6’3”, 235 lb. beloved sports hero that he is today. At that time he was a one-inch-long unborn child whose existence, because of an amoebic infection, was defined as threat to his mother’s health. Pam Tebow, his mother, was told by a doctor that it would be in her best interests to abort this baby, and she refused. Her husband backed her up on that generous decision, and seven months later they gave birth to a perfectly healthy boy. Little did they know that twenty years later they would be standing on a national stage with a Heisman Trophy winner giving that magnificent witness to life. The world thanks you, Mr. and Mrs. Tebow! There cannot be a more touching Advent story than this.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I want this!


Commentator M. Swaim points us to a similar game! (hmmm... I hope Santa subscribes to my blog!):


Today, here at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains, we celebrate 25 years of leadership by Archbishop Pilarczyk with a special Mass of Thanksgiving this afternoon. In attendance will be most of the bishops from Ohio, as well as a number of visitors from out of state, most notably Adam Cardinal Maida of Detroit. (I wonder if he'll let me try on the reds? You think?)

Hopefully the weather doesn't deter things too much.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Crunch Time

So, it's now about 3:30, and I have the vigil Mass at the Cathedral at 4:30.

Hmm... Now about that homily....

Friday, December 14, 2007

First Sighting

At least for me, here in Cincinnati, of the Smart ForTwo:

Seen in the 100 block of W. 8th Street while walking to work today. It was parked behind a BWM 5 or 7 series, which looked like it was towing a two year old in arears.
Can I say I want one?

Church Squirrels

Just in time for the Christmas turnout:

There were four country churches in a small Texas town: The Presbyterian Church, the Baptist Church, the Methodist Church and the Catholic Church. Each church was overrun with pesky squirrels.

One day, the Presbyterian Church called a meeting to decide what to do about the squirrels. After much prayer and consideration they determined that the squirrels were predestined to be there and they shouldn't interfere with God's divine will.

In the Baptist Church the squirrels had taken up habitation in the baptistery. The deacons met and decided to put a cover on the baptistery and drown the squirrels in it. The squirrels escaped somehow and there were twice as many there the next week.

The Methodist Church got together and decided that they were not in a position to harm any of God's creation. So, they humanely trapped the Squirrels and set them free a few miles outside of town. Three days later, the squirrels were back.

But -- The Catholic Church came up with the best and most effective solution. They baptized the squirrels and registered them as members of the church. Now they only see them on Christmas and Easter.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Some good news

and some not so good.

First the good, via Rich Leonardi and Amy Welborn, comes news of a new Vatican webpage which should be extremely helpful for priests and those doing academic research, especially in the area of the Church Fathers: Biblia Clerus

Then the bad, Dawn Eden passes along advertizing posters of Planned (un)Parenthood from around the world, shivers down the spine.

Living the courage of the Martyrs

Fr. Z. passes along a CNS news story of an Iraqi Muslim woman coming to faith in Christ through the witness of military medical personnel and a Navy Chaplain:

As Fr. Bautista continued speaking with us, he described the fascinating story of a young Muslim woman who was entering the Church under his guidance through the RCIA process. Her story was moving. While working with Americans, this woman, who must remain anonymous, was touched deeply when she realized that the U.S. medical personnel not only treated wounded Americans and Iraqi civilians, but also treated wounded enemy combatants, including one who was known for having killed U.S. Marines. As she put it, “This cannot happen with us.” This dramatic extension of mercy even to enemy soldiers caused her to take the next cautious step. She asked Father Bautista to “tell me more about Jesus.” As Father described Jesus and his life in the Gospels, one thing stood out among the rest for the Muslim woman he called “Fatima” (not her real name) and that was how kindly Jesus had related to, as she put it, “the two Mary’s.” Fatima was moved to see how Jesus deeply loved Mary, his mother, who was sinless, but also how Jesus deeply loved Mary Magdalene, who was “a great sinner.” As these discussions continued, Fatima reached a point where she said to Father Bautista, “I want to become a Christian.”

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A priest's impact on others

The Dominican blog tells of the story of Father Robert A. Morris, OP, who likely doesn't even remember one act of kindness, that has stuck with a friend 50 years after the fact:

Father Morris ordered the cabby to stop and call the police. I watched from the cab as he ran to the man, removed his black wool coat and covered the man with it — not half the coat, as St. Martin did, but the whole thing. Then Father Morris knelt in the freezing rain, administering the last rites.

Be a Hero

Saturday, December 8, 2007

St. Ambrose and First Friday Homily

If you missed the delivery yesterday on the radio, here is the printed text used for my homily yesterday for Sacred Heart Radio:

As we gather today to celebrate this Mass, there are many things that are happening in the Church’s cycle of prayer. Not only do we gather on this First Friday of December, but we are making our way through this great season of Advent, plus we celebrate an early Doctor of the Church, one of the four great Latin Patriarchs in St. Ambrose, not to mention that tomorrow is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, you may be wondering how we’re going to tie all this together, or even if they might somehow be related to a theme of Vocation as well. Hmm… Let’s give it a shot, shall we? It is this last aspect, the theme of Vocation that underlies all that I do, is one aspect that I see that unifies all of these various themes and venues that we celebrate today.
First, let’s begin with the Season in which we find ourselves: Advent. This is, as we have been hearing, a season of Preparation, a joyful season of anticipation of Christ’s coming, not only at the great Feast of Christmas that ends this season, but also an acknowledgement that Christ is coming that the end of time. However, if we look at it this way, there may be a temptation to think that Jesus has left us orphans somehow. He is currently off enjoying the richness of Heaven, exploring the endless mansion that His Father has up there. But we all know that this is NOT the case. During this season of Advent, we have such moving passages, especially from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, that show how God is intimately concerned with what is going on ‘down here.’ God wants to turn our world which can be full of hatred, jealously and tyranny, into a world of peace, full of orchards, where the poor rejoice in God’s presence and the lion and the lamb lie down together, in peace.
We hear in the moving announcement to Mary that she will ‘conceive and bear a son, and you shall name him: Emmanuel; which means: God is with us.’ So we know, fundamentally, Christ is present here with us, leading us deeper into the mystery of his very self, and drawing us ever closer into His heavenly home.
But, how does he do this? How is His presence made known to the world today? Obviously, there are many and varied ways, but a primary way that he enters the world is through the life and ministry of His priests, whom he calls to do His bidding in the world.
As a priest, I have to be very conscious of the fact that what I do in this world is not about me, rather I am to be a doorway for others to come to know Christ, in whose presence, in whose persona I act, that we do represent Christ to the world. I am reminded of this continually as I walk downtown and am asked repeatedly if I am ‘a reverend.’ “Nope, I am a Catholic priest.” Even the homeless guys respond: ‘Pray for me, Father.’ You betcha!
The priest stands as a constant reminder that Jesus is still present to us, that he gives his life for His people, just as the priest does in celibacy. The priest is also a reminder that all of us live in anticipation of the world to come, and not just for this world. The priest is an eschatological sign of our hope in heaven.
But interestingly, as he stands arranged to the world to come, he also focuses on this world, on the here and now, which is part of the lesson that we have today from St. Ambrose, the great teacher and doctor, Patriarch of the Latin Church and founder of the Ambrosian Rite in Milan. While I admittedly do not know as much as I should about Ambrose’s thought and theology, there is always a connection between him and another great Patriarch of the Latin Church: Augustine, whom he baptized. This connection points to the fact that the priest is not to be concerned with his own salvation, per se, but with the salvation of the souls entrusted to his care. He is to give his life so that others may live. He is to draw others deeper into the mystery of Christ, so he is to not only be a witness, but must also be a teacher of the mysteries which he celebrates. The two great Patriarchs, along with Gregory I and Jerome, help us even yet today to understand the mystery of Christ’s presence in the world, and give especially the priests of today the example to follow of preaching Christ, yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Finally, and most importantly, we come to Mary, whose presence is inescapable during this great season. She is the mother of all priests, for she is the mother of the Great High Priest, Jesus Himself. But she is also first and foremost a disciple, who gives those who follow in her footsteps the pathway to come to know her son better.
But, she is also the extreme example for her priests to follow, for everything that she does points the way not to herself, but to her Son, just as everything that a priest does should also point to her Son. In a sense, she is the first priest because she bears Christ to the world, she makes Him known through her deeds and actions. Yet, she is also the model of humility because she never sought the glory for herself, even as she recognizes that ‘All generations will call me blessed.’ But this is only because of her connection with the Almighty, ‘who has done great things for’ her; and ‘Holy is His name.’
Because of her example, because of her connection with her Son, every priest is to be Marian in his devotion, and I am convinced that my vocation to the priesthood was marked by her gracious intercession and guidance. I was baptized and raised at Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Botkins, I was formed as a disciple of Christ under Mary’s patronage in this very chapel and at Her Farm in Falmouth, for which I am very grateful. I attended Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, which celebrates her Patronal Feast tomorrow, and I was first assigned to Our Lady of the Visitation on the West Side upon my Ordination. She guides not only her priests, but all the disciples of Her Son, closer to Him.
One final note regarding Mary’s life: she also teaches us that to follow Christ, to bear Christ to the world, is not a pathway for glory, it is a pathway of humility. She knew whom she was bearing in her womb, yet she submitted and gave birth in a manger, with the animals to keep her company. The Shepherds in the fields were the first to come and visit, and the kings only came later. She experienced persecution and ridicule when she ended up pregnant before she and Joseph came to live together. Through all this, though, God refined her and made her a more perfect dwelling place for Christ. In the same way, God brings us through our own sufferings that we too might become more perfect dwelling places for Christ, too.
During this Advent season, as we make our journey to Christ, coming not only at Christmas, but also at the End of Time, let us embrace this journey, that in following the footsteps of Mary and the Saints, we may make Christ known more perfectly in our lives, and that through our faithfulness, Jesus may transform this world of suffering and pain, to a world that recognizes that Christ is always with us. And with that knowledge, we have the true freedom that comes to His Son’s and Daughters.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


First off, the 'slogan' below is a reworking of a quote from Pope Benedict, and his comes across much stronger:

Fulfillment does not lie in comfort, ease, and following one’s inclinations but precisely in allowing demands to be made upon you, in taking the harder path. Everything else turns out somehow boring anyway. Only the person who recognizes and ideal he must satisfy, who takes on real responsibility, will find fulfillment.

Unfortunately, we can't find the attribution. :(

And Barb wins the prize here for her comment in the 'Post 300' thread. Thanks for the kind wishes, Barb.

Narcissism, Priestly Style

With a swing of the thurible to Carl Olson at Ignatius Insight, he points readers to the following article on priests and narcissism:

Much of this change was long attributed to the “Spirit of Vatican II”, but in fact, our point is that the secular and narcissistic spirit of the times lies beneath these liturgical irregularities. This secular spirit, as described by Lasch, was explicitly self-indulgent and self-aggrandizing. The rationale of those who personalize the liturgy is clearly one that rejects the Church’s history and tradition — just as society in general has rejected its past. This is easily seen in the frequent neglect and sometimes even explicit disparagement of the Church’s liturgical tradition by those who should be most closely wedded to the Church — priests.

The article is a good read about how the underlying the narcissism of the wider culture has infiltrated its way into the ranks of the clergy. The authors (a father and son team, one a psychologist, one a brother and seminarian) point to the psychological aspects that help spur the advent of the 'happy, clappy Mass,' as some call it.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Reb Bull and New Slogans

So, after fielding pressure from a Catholic priest, Red Bull pulled an ad from Italian television:

The advert depicted four wise men, instead of three, visiting Mary and the Baby Jesus in Bethlehem. The fourth wise man bore a can of the soft drink.
"The image of the sacred family has been represented in a sacrilegious way," Father Damanti told Corriere della Sera. "Whatever the ironic intentions of Red Bull, the advert pokes fun at the nativity, and at Christian sensitivity."

Speaking of adverts (not Advents), hows this for a new slogan for the vocation office:

Choose the Priesthood, everything else turns out somehow boring anyway.

Post 300!

And a Big ol' Happy Birthday goes out to my brother Kurt, swarming through the snow in Iowa (That Iowa, always was a corny state!)

Anyway, thanks for those that turned in to listen to the Son Rises morning show. I now have a fair amount of scheming to do in response, however. I was a little suspicious as Matt went looking around for a set of head phones for me to wear in studio with Brian Patrick: "What, I never have head phones, who's calling in???"

The surprise was that my mother called in to wish Kurt a happy birthday. It was good to talk to her, and share some reminisence.

God Bless, and enjoy the day!

Sunday, December 2, 2007


Did you know that the Chad Johnson Degree commercial, with the four guys in empty stands yelling 'C' 'H' 'A' 'd' with the last guy staying seated, yeah you know the one, was filmed at Elder High School's Pit, the 10,000 seat concrete horseshoe football stadium?

Saturday, December 1, 2007

3 PSA's

Three Public Service Announcements, from the fine folks here at Called by Name:

1) If you missed the radio broadcast of my homily for this weekend, you can catch it LIVE at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains Cathedral, 11 AM and 6 PM Masses.

2) If you haven't seen the movie Bella yet, they've announced more cities. (Be forewarned, they release some type of eye irritant into the theatre near the end, caused my eyes to water furiously!) If we want more success like the last post and Planned (un)Parenthood, ventures like this will certainly help our cause!

3) For the teenagers out there, when unpacking the dishwasher, remember its not where you put the dishes, it's where the cook has to find them! Just out to help.

Man, I hope he

picks me up one! (The Geek Cleric's Holy Grail, that is!)

(If anyone is looking for a Christmas gift for the good padre....)


Sometimes words come out of your mouth and later seem to be prophetic, as I hope was the case this morning.

For the last ten years or so, Holy Name Church in Cincinnati's Mount Auburn neighborhood (between Univeristy of Cincinnati and Christ Hospital) has been kept open primarily because of its proximity to the largest Planned (un)Parenthood mill in the city. During those years, the faithful have gathered on Saturday mornings to pray for a conversion of those who work there, of those who seek their services, and for the repose of the souls of those killed there.

For many years, they gathered one Saturday a month. Low and behold, the 'clinic' was soon closed on those days! So, in a moment Andy Dufrense (sp?) would be proud of, they started gathering twice a month. Well, soon, the 'clinic' was closed those two Saturdays!

In February of this year, I was asked to be part of the First Saturday's Mass at Holy Name, which would have a focus for youth and young adults, and we would now have covered four of five Saturday's a month: Mass, followed by Exposition and a Rosary Procession to the front of That Evil Institution.

Since I hadn't yet heard, but assumed, I checked with the organizer this morning before Mass to see if I was still on the schedule for next year, First Saturday's. Response: 'Unless that place closes down, we're still doing!" I think my response was: "While I would love extra sleep on a Saturday AM, as long as there is a need and I am available, I'm here."

Well, low and behold: the gates into the Compound were CLOSED and LOCKED this morning!!!

What a great sign that God rewards the faithfulness of His people! Now, can we get a 24/7 vigil going there?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Alternative New Year's Celebration

So, tired of the jet set lifestyle that says you have to go out partying for New Year's Eve? Looking for something to do as a family, but not sure where to go? Feel like you want to start the New Year off right, but not sure how to do it?

Come on down to the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains for Adoration for Vocations, and Mass at Midnight, New Year's Day!

The Vocation Office is once again hosting a chance for the faithful to gather to pray before Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, in the run up to New Years. Following the 5:15 PM Mass on December 31, Christ will be present in the Monstrance for the faithful to gather in prayer. About 11:45 or so, we will have Benediction, and conclude the evening with Mass starting at Midnight, setting a tone for the entire year to be based in Christ.

Last year, we stayed in the Daily Chapel. I would love to have to move out to the Big Church, which would take at least 100 people.

Oh, and better yet, the seminarians will be serving the Mass. See you there!

Darwinism, misguided

The Cincinnati Enquirer ran a column by Kathleen Parker this morning on misguided Darwinism, and how things can run amok very quickly:

Hey, did you hear the one about the woman who aborted her kid so she could save the planet?
That's no joke, but Darwin must be chuckling somewhere.

Toni Vernelli was one of two women recently featured in a London Daily Mail story about environmentalists who take their carbon footprint very, very seriously.
So seriously, in fact, that Vernelli aborted a pregnancy and, by age 27, had herself sterilized. Baby-making, she says, is "selfish" and "all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet."
Because Toni and her husband, Ed, are childless and vegan, they say they can justify one long-haul airplane trip per year and still remain carbon neutral.

It is an interesting twist from abortion as a 'right' to abortion as the morally responsible option. A friend of mine was on assignment in Texas, and related the following story of a co-worker:

Her coworker's daughter was pregnant, in her mid-twenties and married, so no scandal was involved. However, pre-natal testing revealed a possibility of Down's Syndrome. The co-worker, the grandmother of the child, wanted her daughter to abort the pregancy "Because I don't think that they can handle the responsibility of a special needs child." When pushed, it came down to: 'What kind of quality of life could they provide for this child?'

With the rise in mandatory pre-natal testing, I see this coming down the pike more and more, and what a scary thought it is.

One last quote:

Although I doubt there are many willing to sterilize themselves in order to reduce the size of their carbon footprint, such extreme materialism is the evolutionary product of our gradual commodification of human life.
Suddenly, the unborn is of no greater importance than the contents of our recycling bin. Like Weight Watchers dieters substituting carbs for sugars, we trade off future members of the human race to neutralize insults to Earth's balance in the present.
Here's how the mental calculation goes: Let's see, if I abort my child, maybe I can travel first-class to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali.
Is this the slippery slope that pro-lifers prophesied? Once such utilitarian concerns edge out our humanity -- and once human life is deemed to have no greater value than any other life form -- how long before we begin tidying up other inconveniences?

There is a parallel article running at Ignatius Insight, by Mary Beth Bonacci.

Teachers vs. Priests

With a swing of the Thurible to Carl Olson, comes an analysis in National Catholic Register on the Mass Market Media's response and covering of the recent AP series on sexual abuse in public schools.

The series told of an entrenched resistance to stopping abusers on the part of teachers, administrators and the National Education Association, a teacher’s union.
So why apparently have only a handful of newspapers nationwide run the series — in stark contrast to the avalanche of press received by the Catholic Church since 2002?
Paul Colford, corporate communications director for the AP, said he was inundated with complaints from people wondering why their newspapers were not carrying the series.
The AP’s investigation found more than 2,500 cases over five years in which educators were punished for actions “from bizarre to sadistic.” It said that on any given day, three educators are actively “hitting on” students, thus speaking to “a much larger problem in a system that is stacked against victims.”

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Spanning the Globe

to bring news on Vocations, via CNS NewsHub:

First, the reports of the efforts of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, and their recent upswing in numbers of seminarians:

Money and effort alone can't effect vocations to the priesthood, Jiron explained, "God calls men interiorly." But in 15 years of working in vocation discernment, including some time in the seminary himself, Jiron said, "Every single vocation I know of has always been invited - by a priest, religious or other lay person ... so God's call also speaks through others."

A Vocation Group in Los Angeles helps men discern the call to the priesthood:

"We started interviewing priests and seminarians," explained Tirone, "asking them, 'What were the key aspects that you did during your pre-seminary days that either moved you closer to the seminary or took you away from it?' And we basically came up with five phases in the vocational journey process: 'Serving Others,' 'Vocation Thoughts,' 'Informal Inquiry,' 'Spiritual Formation' and 'Formal Discernment.'
"The vocational journey starts with a passion to serve. So, if somebody is open to whatever God wants in his life, [they're welcome] to come to the group," said Tirone, who added that people in Phase One usually never thought about the priesthood but typically enjoy serving others.

Finally, words of wisdom from Cardinal McCarrick: "Happy priests attract men to want to be priests":

“I think every priest should stand outside church after Mass, even when it’s cold,” Cardinal McCarrick said. “Maybe not when it rains,” he added, drawing laughter from the audience.A priest once came to him, Cardinal McCarrick said, who was distressed that few people came to see him during the week, even though the priest always made himself available. The priest was skeptical when Cardinal McCarrick suggested standing outside to greet parishioners after Mass.“I‘ll make you a bet,” Cardinal McCarrick said, that if the priest stood outside church after Mass, he would soon find that people had no trouble going to talk with him during the week.

A swing of the Thurible to Rich for pointing me in the right direction.

Radio Goo Goo, x3

Sacred Heart Radio continues to inspire their listners to embrace the fiath more completely, to be active disciples of Christ. For some reason, they keep asking me to be back on the radio!?!

Over the next two weeks, I'll be there three times:

First, this weekend, I'm on for The Gospel Today, tune in at 7:30 and 11:30, both Saturday and Sunday, to hear my take on the First Sunday of Advent.

Secondly, I'll be speaking with Brian Patrick and Matt Swaim in studio next Tuesday, December 4th, at 7:30 AM. Hopefully the coffee comes early that morning!

Finally, Bill Levitt has asked me to cover the First Friday Mass on December 7, in honor of St. Ambrose and the continued tradition of First Friday Devotions to the Sacred Heart. I'll be speaking some on vocations to the priesthood and how we celebrate that during the season of Advent. Mass is at Noon, from the Chapel at the Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center.

Oh, and if you're bored this Saturday morning, I'm back on the rotation for the First Saturday Mass at Holy Name, Mt. Auburn, and the Rosary Procession to Planned (un)Parenthood, as part of Helpers of God's Precious Infants. Mass is at 8:00 AM, and the everything usually wraps up by 10:00.

Listen in, or I'll see you there!

Ten Things

you can do, as parents, to help the current state of Vocations in the Church today, as enumerated by Fr. Todd Peterson, of New Ulm, Minnesota:

This last weekend I preached my first of 8 weekends on the state of vocations in our Diocese in various parishes/Area Faith Communities. Instead of presenting a message of desperation on our need for priests, I tried to present the present state as one of opportunity for us to reflect on the need for priests to preside at the Eucharist and other sacraments, and that God is calling. In addition, I tried to give practical hints of what parents can do to raise their children in a culture of vocations - an environment in which the notion of a call from God is not only capable of being heard but readily responded to.

Go to his site to view the list, which is both simple and profound.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

On this date...

in 1983, the revisions of the Code of Canon Law went into effect. Insomniac clerics have slepts soundly ever since.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Evangelizing the MTV Generation

is perhaps one of the biggest challenges that the Church faces as we move into the next generation.

Outside da Box Productions is embracing John Paul the Great's challenge to embrace new media to re-evangelize the post-Christian world. Check out their website and their videos, especially their new effort called Vocare, which focuses on how each Christian disciple has a mission to embrace the Gospel in their own way.

Playing to the other side of the coin, they offer their DVDs for FREE! So, sign up and sample their efforts to spread the Gospel to today's teens.

Requiescat in Pace

Fr. Bill Schwartz, a priest for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, passed away on Thanksgiving Day. He was ordained in 1953, and faithfully served the Archdiocese from that time on.

Personally, I knew him from the summer I spent at Queen of Peace in Millville, where he helped out in retirement. He was a straight shooter, and told things how they were. And he was willing to step into difficult situations, as he was called out of retirement twice to step into parishes that had their pastors removed for allegations of sexual abuse of a minor.

From my interactions with the folks in Millville, they absolutely loved the man, even though he was by no means a 'softy.' He set a firm tone, but was an excellent listener and was not afraid to be a priest. His comment to me, as we would drive and pass a cemetery: "Pray for the dead, my boy, and the dead will pray for you!"

Schwartzy, please watch over me that I may be half the priest that you were (and are) in life.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Turkey Day!

Well, it is the day to slaughter a large flightless bird and throw it in the oven for a few hours (or a very large deep fryer, ummm, yummy!) and carve into it to share with friends and family.

Have a wonderful and Blessed Thanksgiving!

A few things that my life would be empty without:

My twin brother, his wife and daughter, even though they are in Iowa :(

My friends who both support when I am down and challenge me to become better.

My family, especially my folks who have always supported me in my journey to the priesthood.

My Vocation, what a priviledge to stand in persona christi capitis and to be able to bring others more deeply into the Sacraments and a relationship with Christ.

Those who serve in the Armed Forces, for they give us the freedom to be able to spout off in so many different ways, that we do not need to worry about walking down the street. I pray for you all every day and I know God will reward you richly for your service.

They are many more things, but I will end here with these words from Archbishop Pilarczyk: Gratitude should mark the life of the believer.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Free Speech in Canuckistan

With a swing of the thurible to the Curt Jester, comes the story of Jessica Beaumont, who has been brought before the Canadian (aka Canuckistani) Human Rights Commission.

Her crime? Quoting Bible verses on (primarily US) websites that go against homosexuality.

Jessica Beaumont does not own a website. She was merely posting comments on existing sites (mostly in the United States). But the fact that she could go to prison for posting Scripture verses on a server in another country means that our religious freedom is in direct jeopardy.
Evelyn Beatrice Hall once wrote, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." It has also been said that the real test of a person's commitment to free speech is their willingness to defend the speech of those with whom they disagree.
I think, despite the fact that many of the targets in CHRC Internet tribunals have been people with political opinions that we find downright offensive, we need to put those differences aside and look at the big picture.

Part 3

of Fr. Mike's Treatise on Vocations is now up, with the challenge that priests consciously work to help form disciples, not just instruct them.

Interestingly, I see my work as a vocation director doing just what he asks for: helping young men to realize the gifts that they have and how God might be calling them to the priesthood, or not. What he says also has implications with how we preach the Gospel, and how we interact with the faithful. I get the feeling that the ideas he raises are starting to get some steam built up in seminaries. Let's enjoy this ride, eh?

Simming the Tiber is popular these days

especially for former Episcopalian Bishops.

Amy Welborn reports on another joining the fold.

Effort by women to become priests pointless

So says not just the Church, but also Bill Banchy in this morning's Enquirer Your Voice column:

I may truly believe that I am Julius Caesar, but my wish does not make it so.

My thoughts on the matter have been published fairly widely, both at Catholic Exchange and on the Vocation Office home page.

And rats, I had a 300 word essay that originally was posted in the Telegraph, but can't find it now. :(

UPDATE: Found it! Yeah!

UPDATE 2: A great article from Adam's Ale

UPDATE 3: Adoro te Devote sends along her analysis of the situation.

A Prayer Request, or two

First, my grandmother (dad's mom), who is in the later stages of Alzheimer's Disease, is having some complications. She seems to have some type of blockage in her foot, and is not getting any circulation there (her foot is cold to the touch), as any can guess, that's not a good thing. She is too far along to try anything with surgery, and amputation doesn't seem to be an option, so we are trying to help discern God's will in this.

Second, Wayne, who works with me in the Vocation Office; his little guy Justin has had a rough go the last few days and has been in hospital with some type of virus infection. Please pray for his quick recovery.

Passing along thanks

from the Eucharistic Festival of Praise, from Anne Marie Schmidt, who is the driving force behind the project:

To all of you that helped in anyway for the first of the Tri-State Eucharistic Festivals of Praise - thank you SO much. When Christ's body works together as a whole, great things can be accomplished for Him. There was SUCH a great turn out (maybe 300 people????) and anyone from babies to the elderly were present! The event was SO beautiful - a perfect blend of praise & worship and quiet contemplation with reverence and the focus kept on our Eucharistic Lord. When the focus is kept on the Lord, great things will happen because Christ wants us to know His love & the truth. This will bring us true joy and He wants the best for us, His precious children.

To the "MC", Fr. Eric Bowman - you did an awesome job! Thank you for blessing us with your God-given talents and using your talents to give back to God. To all the coordinators ( Lindsey Simmons, Matt Feist, Jon Patch, Jon Schaeffer, Kathleen Arthur, Heather Backer, Karen Huezo, Jeff Arthur, Rich Rudolph, Lucas Hennessey, & Christina Regala) - thank you SOOO much. This event would not have been possible without all of your hard work. Please tell all those who helped you "thank you". Music coordinators - please give all the musicians a hug for me - you all were superb - what beautiful music there was for God! Fr. Kyle, Fr. Michael, & all the other priests (Fr. Kyle, Rich Rudolph, & Matt Feist please forward the other priests a "thank you" from me!") thanks for volunteering to hear confessions. What a long line there was! I finally glanced over at one point during the night and my mouth about dropped! God's AWESOME! He really wanted to shed His mercy down upon us! Michael Johnson ("MJ"), thank you for all of your help with the website! Dana Shelton - thanks for your last minute help with the song books & cleaning up! Lisa Kuethe - thank you for your help with the t-shirts! (By the way, if anyone wants one, I have some left in the trunk of my car! Hint, Hint) Joe Fussner, thank you for snapping pics during the event. A HUGE thank you to all who interceded for the event - without your prayers, this event would not have been possible. Fr. Nicholas, thank you for the "words of wisdom" you gave us months ago! To anyone else who has helped in any way, to all those who forwarded the info. about this event on to others, and to all who came (including those who brought their youth groups - that's you Christy Maas)- thank you! Although people have requested for the next Eucharistic FOP to be sooner, it is not scheduled until March 15th - sorry! Let's pray for St. Jude's church to be packed, for people to grow more in love with the Eucharistic Lord and deepen their relationship with God, and that this event continues to be totally led by God as this past one was. Yea Holy Spirit! May there be many more "EFOPs" in the future! Oh, and THANKS BE TO GOD!!!!

In Christ's Love,
Anne Marie & Emily
P.S. Please stay tuned for a future e-mail asking for beneficial feedback (ex. next time having 2 screens & a projector), advice on future EFOP dates & locations, and coordinator positions....or you can just e-mail your thoughts now if you can't wait!

Ideas could always be posted in the combox below, too.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Bang Out Links Post

of some great things that are appearing recently on this world wide interweb thingy:

First, a GEM! from Bishop Serratelli, of Paterson, NJ, on the connection between the priesthood and the Mass:

Therefore, every priest has the obligation to celebrate the Liturgy in such a way that he provides a witness of faith to the sacredness of the gift given to the Church by her Lord. He is to be faithful to the Church’s norms for the Liturgy so as to be at the service of communion, not only for the community directly taking part in the celebration, but also for the whole Church. The Mystery of the Eucharist “is too great for anyone to permit himself to treat it according to his own whim, so that its sacredness and its universal ordering would be obscured” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 52).
A swing of the thurible to Fr. Z. for the heads up on this one.

Second and third are two parts of the same article by Fr. Mike, OP, part of the Catherine of Siena Institute in Colorado. The first is on the role of the laity in the Church and the second on the role of the clergy. In the first article, he makes the follow point when discussing the Fishers of Men DVD, and this drives the rest of the very well written article:

It's a well-made video, with a stirring soundtrack, good production values, and wonderful comments from priests young and old who have joyfully embraced their vocation. It depicts priests being ordained, seminarians in the classroom and the chapel, priests engaged in pastoral counseling and presiding over celebrations of the sacraments, particularly the eucharist. But there's a crucial aspect of priesthood that's missing, and not only is it missing in the vocations video, it's missing from the ministerial lives of many, many priests.

Go read his thoughts to discover what's missing.

Fourth, a note by this very author is published in this week's Catholic Telegraph, and can now be found at the Cincinnati Seminarian Blog:

As the weather turns colder, and snow seems a not too distant possibility, most thoughts turn to the upcoming holiday season and wrapping up the calendar year with the great celebration of Christmas. But even before we reach Christmas, the season begins with the Thanksgiving Holiday, and these two feasts, one secular in origin, the other religious, form a sort of bracket to gear our year end celebrations; and I see some clear connections to the priesthood, as well.

Finally, this post from Rich Leonardi is up to 35! comments (jealous, am I!). I think I am in agreement with Archbishop Chaput on this one.

Monday, November 19, 2007

My Analytical Father

passed this along. Not sure if it is true, only Snopes knows for sure:

Absolutely amazing!
Beauty of Math!

1 x 8 + 1 = 9
12 x 8 + 2 = 98
123 x 8 + 3 = 987
1234 x 8 + 4 = 9876
12345 x 8 + 5 = 98765
123456 x 8 + 6 = 987654
1234567 x 8 + 7 = 9876543
12345678 x 8 + 8 = 98765432
123456789 x 8 + 9 = 987654321

1 x 9 + 2 = 11
12 x 9 + 3 = 111
123 x 9 + 4 = 1111
1234 x 9 + 5 = 11111
12345 x 9 + 6 = 111111
123456 x 9 + 7 = 1111111
1234567 x 9 + 8 = 11111111
12345678 x 9 + 9 = 111111111
123456789 x 9 +10= 1111111111

9 x 9 + 7 = 88
98 x 9 + 6 = 888
987 x 9 + 5 = 8888
9876 x 9 + 4 = 88888
98765 x 9 + 3 = 888888
987654 x 9 + 2 = 8888888
9876543 x 9 + 1 = 88888888
98765432 x 9 + 0 = 888888888

Brilliant, isn't it?

Thoughts from Sunday's Gospel

This will be a fairly quick surmise of my homily from this past weekend.

I started by tell the story that Steve told at NCYC, regarding the one student of his who was shot during the tragedy at Columbine High School, specifically how she was afraid to make the last thing she said on this earth a denial of God.

We often think that the Age of the Martyrs was long ago, and ended with the Edict of Milan by the Emporer Constantine. But, it is not the case. In fact, the Patron Saint of this parish died in 1942 (St. Maximillian Kolbe). And, there were more Christian Martyrs in the last Century than in the previous 19 centuries, combined! The Age of the Martyrs has continued, and has grown int he last years. Jesus' prophecy in the Gospel continues to ring true, we are still being hauled in before princes and governors of this world in order to give testimony.

But there is a new type of martyrdom that is happening. When it comes to the big situations, such as faced that day in Littleton, Colorado, it can actually be easier to make that vow of trust in God. In a sense, the Red Martyrs have it the easiest.

There is a new type of martyrdom that is growning in the Church today, which has been referred to as a 'Green Martyrdom.' If you take the faith seriously, if you put God first in your life, you may face financial penalties. For example, refusing to work on Sundays because it is a day of rest, a day to worship God and spend time with family, could lead to being passed over for the next big promotion. What happens when you request time off during the week to attend Ash Wednesday MAss, or Mass for the Holy Day of Obligation (which DO still exist!)? "Well, you are not as committed to the team as so-and-so, they are getting the promotion."

This is happening in our world today.

Now, the question that we are posed here at the end of the Church year: are you willing to give that 'Yes' to God, even when it might lead to your own persecution? This is one of the things that I think JEsus is getting to in today's Gospel.

In fact, I am convinced that if the Church is to survive, not even thrive, just survive over the next 100 years, it is going to be on the faith and the commitment and the witness that the lay faithful have. My crediblility as a priest has unfortunately been shot down. In some sense, people expect me to say and do certain things, and I can get away with it because I am a priest. But the person on the street doesn't take it seriously.

But when you pray in your cubicle at work, or proudly wear a crucifix as a reminder of Christ's dying for my sins, or treat both friend and enemy with compassion, and hold yourself to the standard that Church asks you to live towards; you say much more by your actions than I could say in an hour and a half of preaching.

Are you willing to give the testimony that Jesus tells us we are to give?

This means you better know the faith, because you will be challenged.

This means you must live life with integrity, otherwise your actions cover the message of the words.

This means that you have to say 'Yes,' when the question is posed to you: "Do you believe in God?"

St. Max usually posts the homilies from the weekend on their website, too, eventually.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Maybe I am having an impact

with my own family. My sister Tania sent along picture of the kids, including this one of Taylor, her oldest (first grader):

(Edited to put her right side up!)

Back in the Nati!

We've returned from retreat, and what a great experience it was. Msgr. Frank Lane was his usual self, mixing wisdom of history with a great working knowledge of Scripture and an insight into the Modern World that not many have to give the guys (and me!) a challenge of not being mediocre in today's world. (We need EXCELLENT priests, not mediocre!)

Well, my joy was short lived, unfortunately. In my mailbox upon return:

Sacred Earth
Festival Music for Prayer and Celebration

The description just about busted my guts:

Sacred Earth is an album of spiritua music drawn from years of festive celebration. The Sanctuary ensemble has turned the words of sacred scripture [sic] into songs, hymns, and reflective mantras of haunting beauty and lasting impact. This 2 CD set of twenty-eight songs celebrates the beauty of Creation in the real experience of prayer and faith.

Hmmm... Now I am wondering who would love this "ideal Christmas gift for you or your loved ones"?

What really gets me is that they capitalized creation, but not Saced Scripture. A line from the retreat comes up: "You can't know the creation if you don't know the Creator!"

What a bunch of drivel, at least my week was good!

Monday, November 12, 2007


Please keep the men in Pre-Theology through II Theology from Mount St. Mary's in your prayers this week, as they are on retreat at the Spiritual Center in Maria Stein. Since I drew the short straw and will be spending the week with them, no posting on this here blog.

(Actually, I am looking forward to spending the week up in God's Country, might try to get over and see my Goddaughter as well.)

Catch up to ya on Friday at the Eucharistic Festival of Praise at Oh Susanna's.

Wrap up from Columbus

Well, after a day of recovery and now struggling through a day in the office, I finally get a chance to catch up some thoughts from the weekend in Columbus.

First a note on the prayer request from last week. I've got more information on the accident that took the life of one of the participants. It seems the Las Vegas contingent arrived in Columbus late Thursday evening, after a delayed flight. A number of them were hungry, and there was a fast food place across the street (Wendy's?). A number of people from the contingent went, including a number of chaperones. Walking back, she was struck and killed by a passing motorist, who left the scene. I never heard if they found the perp. In response, the Las Vegas contingent returned home the next morning. All through the weekend, the teens were able to leave messages for her family, and she was mentioned frequently in prayer.

Ok, on to better news: it was great to see/meet so many people. I tend to be a strong extrovert, so being in a crowd of people is a great deal of fun. (Hey, to the anonymous who didn't come up and say 'HI!' why not?!?!) I saw a number of my fellow Vocation Directors perusing the crowd, usually hanging out in front of the Salesian table (they had more yo-yo's!).

The crowd of teens seemed to be really into the event. They were well behaved, the usual riotous type that happens at these Catholic Love Fests, as I've heard them called. I spoke to a few of the cops and security detail, and their response was something along the lines of: This was the easiest detail I've ever had!

Speakers were of the usual quality, although I only heard Renee (?) on Saturday morning. She was a choral teacher at a high school in Southern California, engaged to be married, and had turned the choir from 12 members to 150, when she faced a traumatic injury. She spoke of overcomeing adversity, as well as recognizing that there is no such thing as co-incidence; but that is the way that God manifests Himself to us. Really powerful stuff.

After she finished, Steve, the MC for the week, related a story from his past, which I used for my homily this past weekend. He is the youth minister at the Catholic parish in Littleton, CO, where Columbine High School is located. He told of how he was at a meeting with a number of parents that fateful day, when a cell phone rang, and mourning and wailing happened right before his eyes. (The parish had four of the funerals from that day.) It turns out, the girl that was the source of the call was injured severerly, but survived. She spoke at her high school graduation a few years later and told of that day. She was hiding under a table in the library with how many others. They came up to her and asked: "Do you believe in God?" She said that she didn't want the last thing that she said on this earth to be a denial of God, so she said: "Yes." "Why?" (Aside: I wasn't really expecting a follow up question) "Because my parents handed it on to me and I now believe it as my own." She admitted that it was a stupid answer, but the best she could do at the time. (She was staring down the barrel of a gun!) Steve told her at the end of the ceremony: "That was the perfect answer, and totally Catholic! You received it and now hand it on."

The line for confessions was incredible. There were up to 80 priests hearing confessions at a time, one would get up and another would take his place. It was non-stop, and they were well thought out, and the teens were seriously searching after God. It was inspiring.

The final Mass was a let down, after all that. The Mass itself was good, the energy of the teens, 25,000 in the Arena was earthshattering. But the homily was, at least to me, a let down. The readings for the weekend were just ripe for the picking, but nothing too challenging. Typical.

Anyway, now the question arises of how to tap into this energy for vocations. Something to think about, for sure.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Off to Columbus

Well, I think I am finally going to be able to make it to Columbus for the National Catholic Youth Conference. I know, it started yesterday, but this week got away from me. Please pray for the teen who was killed while attending (see article below) and all those who are attending for their healing and recovery. (not to mention forgiveness for the person who caused such a tragedy.)

I'll be up in Columbus until Sunday morning, so no posting until then. :(

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Big time prayers needed

in Columbus, for NCYC. From 10tv in Columbus:

Gantt was in Ohio to take part in the National Catholic Youth Conference that was slated to begin on Thursday afternoon in downtown Columbus.

The More the Merrier

From Uncle Jim, comes this idea of opening his household:

We currently have an invitation out to about 60 people to come for dinner next Saturday evening. The way the invite goes, the first 25 to respond get in. We do this 3 - 6 times a year I would guess. Each time there may be some of the same folks invited, especially from among those who couldn't make it the previous time ... or didn't make their response in time. Through the course of the year, we keep trying to get some new people in the door. It is usually a pretty good mix of folks - and most of the time it includes families - kids - a few or a lot. Once in a while we'll make it an adults only invite to people who don't have kids at home. But it is a lot of fun. I encourage others to try it. You don't have to go large - half a dozen would do. Invite 20 and say the first 6 or 8 to respond get in. Oh - and you let them know that once you have a head count and demographic, you'll be calling them to let them know what they can bring.

Now, instead of working on my next article for the Telegraph, this thought popped into my head: why not use this strategy to reinvigorate the life of a parish?

Hear me out: parishes already have a list of members, with addresses, and usually also broken down somewhat by ages, families with children, teens, DINKs, retirees. So, once a month (a week?), the parish would invite a group, sometimes connected, sometimes mixed, to dinner. The first x number to respond get in, the rest get put back on the list for future invites. I see this as a great chance for the pastor to lead and shepherd his parish, as he could give a short little reflection on different aspects of parish/Catholic life, and he would get to konw his people in a different light, and the people would get to know each other.

What do I mean by 'invite a group, sometimes connected, sometimes mixed'? Simple: one time it is for young families, sometimes for families with teens, some times it would be only for adults, other timese it would be for a smattering of each of these groups. I would clearly advertize this in the letter sent.

What do you think?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Live from Steubenville!

My whirlwind tour has continued and been extended through next week. Today, I'm just up the road from Franciscan U in Steubenville. I'm here meeting with a candidate for entrance into seminary next school year, and to meet with the Pre-Theologate director as well. Two things: everytime I come to this campus, it rains; and I continue to be impressed with the faith of the students. I just spent about 30 minutes in the Port Chapel, and there were no less than 8 college students there in prayer. What great witnesses.

Monday, November 5, 2007

When Catholics had Class

and went out with a bang!

Apoloblogology (waaay too many 'o's in this one!) has the story of a truly great man: Guy Fawkes, who with his friend Robert Catesby, tried to rewrite history with one fell swoop of the.... um.... TNT?

(Ok, who's seen the movie? I loved it, even if I had to watch it three times to catch everything!)

Authentic Catholic Spirituality

from the seminary, too!

Fr. Rob Jack, systematics prof at Mount St. Mary's here in Cincinnati, announces a (potential) new program:

Right now at the Athenaeum of Ohio- Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary, the idea of a summer Catholic Spirituality institute is being discussed. In order to pass on more fully the Catholic Spiritual tradition, the Athenaeum is considering offering courses on specific aspects of Catholic Spirituality. While this is still in the talking stage, it might be started this summer and therefore input from those on the outside would be greatly helpful.
These courses could cover a variety of topics in five areas: 1. Fundamental Spirituality: (eg. Ignatian Discernment); 2. Biblical Spirituality (eg. Jesus’ prayer in the Gospels); 3. Liturgical Spirituality (eg. Theology of Holy Week); 4. Topical Spirituality (eg. Marian spirituality or Dominican Spirituality) and 5. Personal Spirituality (eg. Theology of St. Teresa of Avila)

Get on over there and demand this!!!

Ben Stein Explains it All

With a swing of the thurible to a fellow 'Black Hat' wearer, comes a great treatise written by non-other than the man with the gigantic brain: Ben Stein.

In light of recent events...terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body found recently) complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK.Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK.Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock's son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he's talking about. And we said OK.Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with 'WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.'

Bella to Cincinnati!

Bella is opening in Cincinnati at Springdale 18 this Friday!!! (and Newport on the Levee and Regal Deerfield Towne Center!!)

Now's the time to schedule that date night you've been putting off. Or grabthe kids (the ones who can see a PG-13 movie) and make it a family night youwon't ever forget! This movie will change people's lives. It will savelives. Everyone needs to see this movie!

Please forward this information to everyone you know and rally the troops topack the theaters this weekend! If I can be any help, please don't hesitateto ask!

Thanks and God bless!

ARGH!!!! I'm in Columbus for NCYC!!!

Reclaim our Spiritual Fatherhood

Archbishop Chaput of Denver is making the rounds for a talk delivered to the National Conference of the Austrailian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy. It seems everyone is highlighting different aspects of the article. I found the following about halfway through:

That's your mission, brothers. To preach the Word of life with power. To incarnate that Word through the sacraments. To make that Word come alive and change the hearts of those who hear it. You're called as Christ's priests to be fathers to a new race of women and men. Second Corinthians tells us that, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation." It reminds us that Christ "entrust[ed] to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us" (5:17-21).
It's time for us to reclaim our identity as spiritual fathers of the children of God. We need to know ourselves as God intends us to be known — as his fathers on earth. We're called to be icons of his divine fatherhood.

and this passage near the end:

One last question before I leave you: How many of you know who Mother Teresa was? It's a trick question. Every one knows her. But how many of you know the name of her parish priest when she was a child?
What's my point? Mother Teresa didn't become Mother Teresa by herself. She had a spiritual father. Someone who preached the Word of God to her. Someone who fed her at the table of the Lord. Someone who heard her confession and gave her direction.
Did he know he was helping to form the soul of one of our age's great witnesses to Christ? He couldn't have. But it wouldn't have made any difference. His mission would've been the same. He was doing what he was supposed to do. What God called him to do.
That's your mission, too, brothers. To help God make saints. Maybe not one of the handful of men and women canonized by the Church. But ordinary, everyday saints.

The Archdiocese's Most Wanted List

is now available, WITH PICTURES!

You've seen the posters in the Churches, perhaps even have the smaller prayer card stuffed in your Bible or Prayer Book, you've heard their voices Friday mornings on Sacred Heart Radio, now you can put a face to the name (or voice) as we've added a new page to the Vocation Office website: Meet our Current Seminarians.

Please pray for these 33 men, that they may truly find God's path, and have the courage and strength to embrace their call completely.

Also, pray for the men who visited the seminary this past weekend, that they also can have that courage of giving a complete YES to God.

Now, show this page to your sons, nephews, students, and grandsons; asking them: Can you be a part of this list?

Thursday, November 1, 2007


Well, since I don't have much to do today, besides sitting at my computer and widdling away the time, I finally updated by blogroll on the right, under: "My Google Reader Account." So, if you wonder how a priests wastes away a day at the office, this is how I do it. Enjoy.

A Voice from the Pews

Low and behold, everyone it seems is getting on this blogging bandwagon. Word has reached my ear, ok really, my computer monitor, of a new blog now appearing on the World Wide Internet thing: A Knight's Walk in the Kingdom.

Just a small selection:

We’re good at predicting things - knee hurts, it’s going to rain; wife stops talking, she’s growing steamed about something; Microsoft reports good earnings, the stock market is going to rise; sun comes up, the Reds are going to lose.

And there are other things we can predict but may not want to recognize about our future that are impacted by what we do today. We ignore our wife, she will grow distant. We ignore our children, they will make bad decisions. We cease to pray, we will grow spiritually cold. We lose touch with our conscience, we will make bad choices.

Theophilus sent me a very kind email, and gets the 'Big Picture.' Stop over at his place and greet a fellow pilgrim on the journey.

Antagonism, Priestly Style

Today being All Saint's Day, the office is closed. Thought I would have some fun with family and friends, and sent the following email:

Hello, my friends.

I just wanted write to ask you all how work was going today.

It's been a tough one for me so far, had Mass at Mother of Mercy High School, and let's see... hmmm.... that's about it for today.

Oh, I guess I have my regular Mass at the Cathedral tonight, but nothing else on the docket.

Well, have fun! :)

To pass the time:

hmmm.... might go take a nap now.

Did I ever mention how difficult it is to be a priest these days?

Free Smiley Face Courtesy of

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

May you live in interesting times!

I love this line, which is apparently from an ancient Chinese curse. (I have neither the time nor the inclination to verify the veracity of this claim, readers?)

The thought goes that 'interesting times' will not be quiet times. There is going to be a great deal going on, and there will not be much rest available: everything is up for grabs.

I think, for example, of the American Civil War, the Reformation, the Barbarian Invasions, as periods in history that were 'interesting' to say the least.

Are we entering another?

What brings this up, you ask? It was stirred for me by today's First Reading from Mass, (Romans 8:18-25), which begins thus:

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothingcompared with the glory to be revealed for us.For creation awaits with eager expectationthe revelation of the children of God;

In response, I offered the Mass for Persecuted Christians to go with this reading. I wonder if we are moving into a period of outright persecution for the Church. Some could already say that we are living in a time of implicit persecution, but will it get worse? Are we heading for a time of martyrdom, and not just white, not even green martyrdom (financial penalties), but down and dirty, outright red martyrdom where to profess faith in Christ is to meet him face to face?

The cynic in me wonders if this would be all bad. Afterall, the Church usually flourishes during periods of persecution and hatred. Sure, we may loose members as there was also Apostasy (denying the faith during periods of duress) during the Persecutions under Domition and Diocletian. But there were also wonderful heros during those times, as one need not search any further than the letters of St. Ignatius of Antioch.

Christ has raised up for us wonderful examples already in John Paul II and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, and is currently raising up new witnesses.

So, the question continues to echo through time from Our Lord, himself: "Do you also want to leave?" Will any answer with Simon Peter: "Lord, to whom else shall we go? We have come to know and to believe that you have the words of Eternal Life!"

Monday, October 29, 2007

The importance of the Rosary

Catholic Exchange is a great wealth of articles and support for the faith. They are running an article on Bartolo Longo which is well worth the read.

Among the wayward students in Naples, one stood above the rest in the depths of his depravity. As a young man, Bartolo not only participated in the anti-Catholic demonstrations, he not only preached publically and vehemently against the faith, he not only sought psychic mediums with his friends — he went even further and became a Satanic priest. Later on, Bartolo would describe how, in the rites of his blasphemous "ordination", he promised his soul to a spirit-guide, a demon, which shook the walls and manifested itself with blasphemous shrieks.

Following the Anti-Hero

My homily, as heard this past week on Sacred Heart Radio's 'The Gospel Today.'

Every once in a while, especially in the Gospel of Luke as we have been hearing over the past year, Jesus presents us with a type of ‘anti-hero,’ someone who on the surface should not be held up as an example for us to follow, yet there is a depth to this person’s own self-awareness that we cannot help but be drawn into the experience. This happens again this week as it did in last Sunday’s Gospel with the Unjust Judge. Today, we see the contrast between the self-righteous Pharisee versus the humility of the tax collector. The former, the Pharisee, is the example that every believing Jew at the time of Jesus would want to follow after: they looked the part, they said the right things, they held the prominent places at the synagogues, in the Temple and at banquets.

Yet, Jesus tells us that his prayers are not answered, they fall upon the deaf ears of God.

In contrast, Jesus holds up the example of the tax collector: one who is shunned, one who is reputed to be a thief, a cheat, a cooperator with the evil Roman Government. I always get the sense that when the tax collectors are named in the Gospels, there is this underlying booing and hissing that comes from the crowd, the Imperial March from Star Wars plays in the back of my mind. These are not people to follow, these are not people to be respected; yet Jesus tells us that his prayers are heard by God. Hold on a sec, here, this sinner is the one who has God’s ear? Yep, and he gives us a model to use for our prayers.

You see, the tax collector was the one who recognized that he needed the Grace of God in order to go about his day, he was the one who recognized that he was a sinner, that he was imperfect, that he made mistakes. And coming to these realizations, he also realized he needed God’s presence in his life to overcome his shortcomings. And this is where the Pharisee, who should have recognized all of this, was actually blinded by his own pride and arrogance, and approached God not out of humility, but out of a sense of entitlement. And for this, his prayers went unheard.

Now, the challenge is to apply these lessons to our daily life, to examine our own motivations, our own prayers, and hopefully to recognize that we also need to approach the Father as did the tax collector, and not like the Pharisee. We have to recognize that without the Grace of Christ, without His presence in our lives, we fall short. We would be unable to live the life that Jesus has called us to. We have to recognize that we have done nothing to earn the love of Jesus other than just be, and he loves us deeply just because of that.

So, there needs to be a balance in our lives between the recognition that we are unworthy versus that gift of grace of God which gives us the dignity to be call a son or daughter of God.

But our starting point is to be that recognition of our own weakness, our sometime ineptitude, our own mistakes. We lay these at the foot of the Cross, for only in the strength of Christ are we able to overcome them and shine forth the grace of our own redemption.

One thing I have come to realize in my work as Vocation Director, in my work of walking along with the men who are in formation to the priesthood, is that while God does call us to perfection, He also recognizes that this is something that we will never be able to achieve, especially if we go it alone. His grace is what enables us to be able to live the life He calls us to.

And honestly, in can be frustrating. We want to be perfect, we want to be completely transparent, leading others to Christ in all that we say and do, yet we still sin, we still fall short, we still are in need of a deeper conversion.

And as we recognize this need, that is when Jesus is able to do the most in us. I am convinced that the best healer is a wounded healer, and this is where the Tax collector shines forth in a greater beauty. As he recognizes his short comings, he will eventually be able to lead others to Christ so that they may experience the same healing that he experienced.

Let us all learn from the example of the tax collector, and lay our weaknesses at the foot of the Cross, so that Christ, who heals all things may heal even our souls and lead us to a closer union with himself.

Anyone seen my desk?

After nearly a week out of the office (and the time here was slight at best, too), one question surfaces: Where is my desk??? At least, I think I still have a desk under the piles of mail that has accumulated over the last two weeks, as I was everywhere but Cincinnati it seems.

A little review of the weekend is in order, I believe.

Thursday, I made a brief visit to the Josephinum, again, to drop off a few things for our guys there, and made my way over to Franciscan U in Steubenville afterwards.

Franciscan hosts what I would love to see as a model in every Catholic institution of higher learning: a Vocation Awareness Fair. This isn't a 'job fair,' either. They invite close to 80 dioceses and religious communities of men and women in to present their charism to the students, perhaps sowing the initial seeds of a vocation. For the vocation directors, it is also a good chance to steal, umm... I mean, coordinate ideas in how others promote either the diocese of religious community.

For example, I had the distinct misfortune of being across the aisle from the Salesians, priests brothers and sisters. I say 'misfortune' because their particular charism comes from St. Don Bosco, their founder: "Run, jump, skip; just don't sin!" So how do they promote that: yo-yos! How can I compete with four of their young aspirants yo-yo'ing in front of their booth? Even worse, they were passing them out to everyone! (Shh, I have one, too!) Actually, they were great and a lot of fun as well. Find them here.

Well, after spending an extra night along the Upper Ohio, I made the trek to the other side of the state to celebrate my Grandfather's 90th! birthday party. It was a great time for most of the family to get together and celebrate his legacy. His health is surprisingly good for his age, as well. He and grandma still live together on the same farm where they raised their six children. (I think grandpa has lived in a total of two houses, which happen to be neighboring farms! Who says German farmers are conservative?) Each family was responsible for bringing either a pot of chili or vegatable soup, which we threw into two pots to cook over a camp fire. Great time had by all!

After the 8:00 AM Mass in my home parish, I finally returned to the Queen City of the Midwest to take in the Bungals' game. Disappointment is all that need be said about that.

Today, I am trying to relieve my desk from some of its burden, but not doing well so far! YIKES!

The Power of the Internet

in a good way.

Catholic Exchange was kind enough to run my last article from the Telegraph on their site. It spawned an interesting conversation in the posts below, specifically on the connection between the lack of vocations and the contraceptive culture.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A life lived in faithfulness

Rocco has the story of a contributor to his site, a frequent email correspondant:

Not until the past week did I know any of this.

All I knew were the things that, to him, were clearly the most important, the things he radiated: his love of God, his people, this faith and the priesthood.

In fact, even with just a few words, now it can be told that his last note spoke to each of these. Over the summer, following a certain catastrophe in the Midwest, a photo had circulated of three young clerics looking on at the scene, each with hand-over-mouth, but nothing more.

Msgr Ed shared the shot with me, informing that it had already been given a caption: “No stoles. No oils. No beads. No clue."

“Aren’t priests supposed to DO something in a crisis?” he wrote.

“I don't think this would have happened in Philly!”

…and, clearly, it wouldn’t have in Dubuque, either.