Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Prayer Request

Friday afternoon, please keep Eric B. in your prayers.

Eric is currently a senior at St. X high school, and is undergoing a second round of battling against a brain tumor. He is scheduled to have surgery to remove the water around the tumor Friday afternoon before starting radiation next week.

Eric is a great kid, and was an inspiration when he faced a similar situation two years ago. He maintained a great sense of humor and joy even during his most difficult days. I remember visiting him to bring him communion shortly after he returned home and he was cracking jokes and getting everyone to laugh and smile.

Please pray that through the skills of his doctors and nurses, that he may make a full recovery and be back sharing his joy with all the world soon.

Priests are human, too!

Fr. V. over at Adam's Ale, has a great post on the human side of the priesthood. Yep, it's true. Priests are human, too! And (GASP) we make mistakes, too.

Standing ground together

What happens when a large group stands together for something worth believing in?

Find out here.

Thanks to David for sending the link.

Go Notre Dame!

From Lance McAllister:

Stat of the day...are you kidding me?
That number represents the number of NCAA Division I teams that have won a bowl game since Notre Dame has last won a bowl game...'94 Cotton Bowl. (From ESPN's College Football preview last night)

Is this an anti-Catholic post?

I will start rooting for them in a year when Kyle Rudolph gets there, but until then GO BUCKS!!

The Parish: Mission or Maintenance?

In a very interesting read from The Catherine of Siena Institute, comes the following document:

The Parish: Mission or Maintenance? The Untapped Potential of the Parish in the Formation of Lay Apostles.

It raises interesting questions for me as a Voctation Director, for it has implications into what type of man I am looking for to enter seminary formation, what is the role that he sees for the priest in the parish, which is the main 'locale' and ministry for us.

But the main drive comes towards the end of the document, in the expectations:

We will first see—indeed have already seen—lay men and women begin to understand the relationship which pertains between their faith and their secular activities. We will see that parishes can, indeed, be places in which the issues of the day are brought for discernment and common initiative. We will witness new initiatives on behalf of the Church and world, undertaken in a spirit of genuine collaboration with the hierarchy.
We will begin to see other, less expected results. If the discernment of one’s vocation becomes ordinary in our parishes, if every member is urged to discern the personal call of God, then we will also witness an abundance of vocations to the ministerial priesthood and to religious life. The lay movements of the Church have demonstrated that, whenever the evangelical ends of the Church are emphasized in conjunction with the discernment of one’s own call, all vocations—lay, clerical, and religious—flourish.

If this begins to happen, even on a small scale, it will certainly make my position much easier, for much of that initial discernment that men go through: "Should I or should I not enter the seminary?" would already be accomplished. If even just ten percent of the parishes of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati took this call seriously and dynamically, I think we would have to add on to the place out on Beechmont Ave.

UPDATE: There is a similar conversation theme going on over at Amy Welborn's new site.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Movie gets tagged "Christian" and loses out.

A friends sent along the following in an email:

I just got this email and at first I thought it was junk mail. But I actually looked up the movie and it looks awesome. The media certainly did a great job of killing this at the theaters, since I don’t even think I heard of it. The DVD has just released. I looked on Amazon and it is around $19. It definitely looks like a movie we should support. Here is a link to the movie home page for you to find out more.

Movie gets tagged as 'Christian' and loses out
Scripps Howard News Service
As a rule, movie producers do not enjoy seeing America's most influential newspaper crucify their films.
"Reeking of self-righteousness and moral reprimand," spat Jeanette Catsoulis of the New York Times, a movie titled "The Ultimate Gift" could be considered "a hairball of good-for-you filmmaking coughed up by 20th Century Fox's new faith-based label, Fox Faith."
Wait, there's more, because this "cinematic sermon" makes sure that its "messages -- pro-poverty, anti-abortion -- are methodically hammered home."
There were other reviews, good and bad. Still, the nastiness in strategic corners of the media caught veteran producer Rick Eldridge off guard, in large part because he thought that he was producing a mainstream movie, with mainstream talent, that was going to have a chance to reach a thoroughly mainstream audience.
What he didn't count on was getting stuck with two dangerous labels -- "Fox" and "Faith." Those words can turn your average media insider into a pillar of salt.
That's what happened to "The Ultimate Gift," turning this quiet cinematic fable into a cautionary tale for others who want to make movies that can appeal to viewers in Middle America, including folks who frequent sanctuary pews.
"I really felt this story had strong values that would hit home with the general market," said Eldridge, who is now pushing to promote the DVD of his movie. "I thought this was a moral-message film, but I was determined to make a movie that would speak to a wide spectrum of people. ... Then we got pigeon-holed into this little 'Christian' niche that really limited who would get much of a chance to see this movie."
The pivotal moment was when this 20th Century Fox project was moved to the new Fox Faith division, which meant "The Ultimate Gift" was sent to theaters with all kinds of faith-based strings attached. As the Fox Faith Web site bluntly stated: "To be part of Fox Faith, a movie has to have overt Christian content or be derived from the work of a Christian author."
Thus, mainstream critics were determined to find the moral messages and make sure potential moviegoers were warned in advance. This also meant that mainstream performers such as Academy Award nominee James Garner, veteran character actor Brian Dennehy and the young actress Abigail Breslin of "Little Miss Sunshine" discovered that they were -- surprise, surprise -- starring in a "Christian movie."
Crucial scenes were, as a result, seen through this lens.
The movie opens at the funeral of Howard "Red" Stevens, an oil tycoon who left behind both an impressive portfolio of good deeds and a bitterly divided family. The minister at the graveside, in addition to reading scripture, quotes the famous British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge as saying, "Every happening, great or small, is a miracle by which God speaks to us and the art of life is to get the message."
At another pivotal moment, the prodigal grandson whose coming-of-age story drives the plot is shown in a Catholic hospital chapel, consoling a leukemia patient. The girl is thinking about butterflies, heaven and her stressed-out single mother's future -- while facing a large statue of Jesus with his arms open wide. "I don't know much about God or Jesus, but I can promise that those arms are meant for you," says the young man.
But the statement that upset critics the most is offered by the young mother, as she describes their struggles after the girl's father abandoned them. The one thing she knows for certain, she says, is that her daughter Emily is the "best decision I ever made."
There is no need to deny that the movie contains religious and moral themes, said Eldridge. But for generations, Hollywood executives made successful mainstream movies that contained these kinds of words and images. These movies were aimed at a broad, mainstream market, not a narrow, political, sectarian, "Christian" niche.
"I told the Fox people this movie was going to resonate with the Christian audience and that's fine with me, because I am a Christian," said Eldridge. "But I was worried that this movie would get tagged as a little 'Christian' movie, like that was some kind of Good Housekeeping seal for the Christian marketplace. ...
"I think it's obvious that this is what happened and that caused some people to distance themselves from this movie. There was no need for that to happen."

GM Canada lashes out

at those who resort to whining to win with an ad in the race program at Mosport:

The text in the top right: "Turning participants into spectators."
(The guy in the front, looking at the Corvette, is wearing an Aston Martin Racing jersey. Aston Martin refuses to race unless they get a 'performance balance,' ie: the rules tweaked in their favor because they can't keep up if the rules are even.)
A swing of the thurible to that scurrilous Murphy the Bear.

Where's the aspirin?

Once a month, a few of us 'younger' clergy in Cincinnati get together for 'support group.' I know, it sounds like some type of quasi-psychobabble-kumbaya group, but really it is a chance for guys who were in the seminary together to schedule a day where we can reconnect, relax, and recharge for our regular ministry. (There are certain things that we feel comfortable discussing only with other priests.)

Well, yesterday was a more extended version of our usual afternoon and evening session, as we started Monday late afternoon with a trip to Indian Lake, which continued through most of Tuesday. My parents are fortunate enough to have a place on the lake, and allowed four priests to crash the place for the day. (They were at work, anyway.)

Monday was a perfect evening to sit on the water, dangle the feet in, and chat until the Bengals game came on, scratch that, 'Michael Vick commentary with a football game in the background' came on. Add in a few card games, and it made for a very relaxing evening.

Tuesday is where the trouble starts. No definite starting time, but a celebration of Mass as all the fathers arose, some breakfast and hitting the boat for some water sports. I was the only one who had skied any length of time (but it had been a length of time since I had last skied, not to mention that there is significantly more of me as well.) First up, Fr. McCarthy managed to wrestle himself into a standing position after a few tries. Frs. Ruwe and Nguyen both gave mighty attempts, but were thwarted by the deep sea monster that kept attacking their skis. That monster wasn't satisfied with attacking the novices and kept snatching the slalom ski out from under me, but I got the last laugh after getting the other ski from the boat and drug my backside out of the water for a short jaunt around the lake.

After a swim at the boat beach and a lunch at the Tilton Hilton, we headed back out to the main body of water for round two. Fr. Ruwe finally shook off the sea monster and got up, first time ever! We could hear the screams from the boat! Very exciting! Fr. Nguyen was thwarted by an apparent leg injury before Fr. McCarthy's triumphant return to the water. I was last to go, and Ruwe tried to kill me. I managed to drag my backside out of the water after another attack by the sea monster, only to have Ru haul the boat up to 35 miles per hour!!! All of a sudden, I feel my arms attempting to leave my shoulders as the water is rushing past at an alarming rate! SLOW DOWN!!! We got to a manageable speed for me to run a few times out beside the boat before I was complete gassed, and we returned to the shore a little redder and a lot sorer than we left a few hours prior.

All in all, a good day with great fellowship. But I can hardly walk today!!!

Monday, August 27, 2007

From the Middle of the Middle West

Comes a Pastoral Letter on the Dignity of the Human Person and the Dangers of Pornography, by Bishop Robert W. Finn of Kansas City - St. Joseph.

While I am taking a risk in posting something that I haven't read through (no time today), I can certainly attest to the dangers of pornography: to the spiritual life, to marital relationships, and to friendships. It is something that I hear all to often in the confessional, and in hearing that, you hear how it can wreck a person's life, as bad and possibly worse than even some of the hardest drugs on the black market.

Advice I give to those struggling with the addiction involves trying to put blocks on the computer against inappropriate sites, changing the times of access to the computer (i.e. if you recognize that you access pornography late at night, don't get on the computer late at night!), making sure the computer is in a public place (not in the bedroom), and in extreme cases removing internet access from the home.

Since pornography is such a habitual practice, steps have to be taken to avoid falling back into the trap, don't just pray for it, do something about it!

On a related note, this problem is finally getting some much needed attention. At the upcoming Director of Vocations convention, this is am optional workshop presentation.

Mary, mother of purity, pray for us!

(A swing of the thurible to A Simple Sinner for the link.)

The Mother Theresa no one knew

except for her close spiritual confidants.

With a swing of the thurible to Rocco, there's a new book forthcoming from Doubleday regarding Mother Theresa of Calcutta's spiritual dryness during nearly five decades of life.

As the article points out, she was able to do what she did with an intense absence of God's presence. For her, it was the purification that she needed to become the living saint and icon of Christ to a world greatly in need of God's love.

Her story, her dryness, will be and is an inspiration for all those who think that connection with God equals a great elation of feeling and spirit. That simply is not the case. I think that the path to holiness is as much in the humdrum of daily life as it is in the occasional moments of intense spiritual joy and/or agony.

What a unique and wonderful journey that she was on, and from which she continues to teach us all.

Mother Theresa of Calcutta, pray for us.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Snark, Snark

With a swing of the Thurible to Jen, of 'Et, Tu?' fame, comes a slightly snarky post on the Bayly Blog regarding the hypocrosy of attacking Mike Vick by the Peta people, yet where is the outcry over abortion.

Friday, August 24, 2007

SHHH!!! (Don't tell my mother!)

I've gone all domestic and stuff!

We've had a number of water leaks into the ceiling here at the Cathedral rectory lately, and painting is in the works. The Dining Room was particularly hard hit and needed a fresh coat of color on top and the walls. (Unfortunately they picked the same boring color that it was before.) Well, remember that there used to be eight resident priests and this was also the place to entertain quite a number of other priests as well, so we have a pretty large hutch in the dining room full of glassware, and I mean FULL of glassware. The ever talented maintenance men were planning on painting around said hutch, when I screamed NO! "But we can't move that thing with all that glassware in it!" Not a problem, be taken care of by the morning.

So, Wednesday evening was spent moving and washing glassware. For THREE HOURS! (Yeah, told you there were lots of glasses, at least 200+)

Thursday was painting day, and since I am out of the office today, I spent about two hours this morning cleaning the hutch (wanted to get all of those little dust rings taken care of before replacing all those glasses) and sorting and refilling that massive piece of furniture.

All the work, the pastor says: "Hey, I noticed that some of those glasses were in different spots, could you put them back in the right spot?"

Oh, I will get him back, trust me!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A resources bleg

So, I've been asked to present a workshop at the National Catholic Education Association Convocation in March, and want to provide a 'resources CD' listing all kinds of good stuff that can be used in parishes and/or schools to help promote vocations. The list would range from books to videos, suggestions for parish mission speakers, activities, places to visit, yada yada yada.

So, I have some ideas, obviously "Fishers of Men" will be on the list for videos, but what are other good videos out there, high quality, serious, hard hitting, CATHOLIC! videos that should be on a list that every child should see at some point during their career as students in a Catholic educational system, be that at school or part of a parish based catechetical program?

The goal, as everything, to make it as easy as possible for parishes and/or schools to use so that they do not have an excuse not to use it!

Are the laity and the priests mutually exclusive?

or is there rather a way that they mutually build each other up to carry on the mission of the Church?

(I'd go with the latter of those two options!)

See how in my next article from the Catholic Telegraph!

The Decree on the Laity from Vatican II clearly picks up this theme as the Council Fathers state that all members of the Church are responsible for the building up of the Body of Christ. (#2) But the laity cannot fulfill this mission on their own, or independent of the ministerial priesthood: the clergy and the laity must work together!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Who's your twin?

They say that everyone has a twin 'out there,' someone who looks an awful lot like them, but whom they have never met.

(For some of us, we've known our 'twin' for longer than we've been around, see the previous post.)

Sometimes we meet someone who bears an uncanny resemblence to someone we already know.

That was my experience today in confession: I nearly fell out of my chair as my Aunt Lora sat down across from me. Ok, well, this clone of my mom's youngest sister was perhaps a bit taller, maybe a few years older, but wow, facially, dead on.

I mentioned that to this clone lady after the confession was finished, and she was trying to pair me up to one of her brothers. Uncanny and kinda give you the heeby-jeebies, eh?

Kayla's first interview!

My neice Kayla, daughter of my twin brother, graciously gave her first interview to Murphy the Bear during the recent round of the American LeMans Series at Road America.

Find the story and picture here.

With her father dragging her across the country to attend races and me for an uncle, the girl will be in some serious need for therapy at some point in her life!

Accidents as signs?

I hope the 'new men' don't take the losing of all power at the seminary on the day the move in to be a negative sign from God that they are not supposed to be there!

Anyway, welcome to the ten new men, six from Cincinnati and two each from Toledo and Youngstown. One of the Toledo men confessed to being a reader of this blog! (YIKES, you mean people actually read this thing?!?!)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

On the Priesthood

Thanks to Google News Alerts, I was pointed to Orrologion, which in turn directed me to Orthodoxy Today, and an article by Fr. Aris Metrakos on the priesthood. Even though you can tell he writes from the Eastern perspective, he really hits one out of the ballpark. He describes the priesthood in four terms/arenas, each building upon the other: Science, Craft, Art and Gift of the Spirit. Really moving stuff, for men thinking about the seminary, for the fellas there, for us young priests and for those who have been at it a while.

Fun with Statistics!

From a combox below, barb asks:

Perhaps you have mentioned this before and I've missed it, but how many priests and parishes do we have in our archdiocese in comparison to the 34 seminarians?

From the 2007 Catholic Directory and Buyer's Guide, which cites statistics from 2006 Official Catholic Directory:

Archbishops: 1
Auxiliary, now retired: 1
Priests, active in Diocese: 177
Active outside Diocese: 7
In foreign missions: 1
Retired: 101
Number of Diocesan Priests: 286
Religious priests in Diocese: 229
Total priests in Diocese: 515
Extern priests in diocese: 8

Permanent deacons: 149

Parishes: 222
with resident Dio Pastor: 159
with resident religious priest pastor: 20

Without resident pastor:
admin by priest: 37
admin by deacon: 1
admin by women religious: 2
admin by lay people: 3

Total seminarians, as of start of 2007-08 school year: 34
Seminarians within diocese: 30 (all at Mount St. Mary's Seminary)
outside diocese: 4 (in college at Josephinum)

Just for fun:

One seminarian per 6.5 parishes, roughly
One seminarian per 8.33 diocesan priests, roughly

Total Catholic Population: 498,493
One seminarian per 14,661.56 Catholics

Anything else that I should include?

Maria Himmelfahrt

Yes, today is the Celebration of Maria Himmelfahrt in the land of my forefathers. (Literally, Mary's Journey to Heaven, but I just love the name, ;) )

I spent the summer of 1998 in Bavaria studying German with the Goethe Institut, and the parish in Prien am Chiemsee was dedicated to Maria Himmelfahrt as well. It was a gorgeous church, with the 'new' church being built in, I think, the 1600's! (The old chapel was still standing and is now the baptistry.) The best one, tho, was St. Jakob's Kirche in Urschalling which dated to the 900's!

So far, nearly all of my ecclesiastical life has been associated with either a person or event from Biblical times: raised at Immaculate Conception in Botkins, college seminary at the Josephinum (even if the college chapel is to St. Pius X), major seminary at Mount St. Mary's Seminary, Internship at St. John the Baptist in Dry Ridge, spent summers at St. Jude's and Queen of Peace, first assignment at Our Lady of the Visitation and now in residence at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral. One thing sticks out to me: Mary's mark is definitively on my priesthood. (My call to priesthood was first felt during visits to Our Lady's Farm in Falmouth , Kentucky.)

In related news, this is also my sister's birthday! Of course, being born on the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, mom and dad being raised in devout Catholic families, and the town having a good cultural Catholicism, her name is..... Tania. And her middle name? yep, you guessed it: Kay.


I am pretty sure that Fr. Bastian baptized her Tania Kay Marie, tho, cause that's what mom would always yell when she (rarely) got in trouble.

Anyways, Tania, Happy Birthday, SIS! You know I love you and wish you the best. (Of course, you realize I am praying for Alex to go to the priesthood, but he's got a while to get there.) (He's what, six months old? Never too early to start praying for that, I say!)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Easy to be Catholic?

A friend is fond of saying that, especially in Cincinnati, it is easy to be a Catholic.

Brad Watkins has posted a video where it is not so easy to be a Catholic, especially a priest.

Updates, and more updates

Over at the seminary blog, we have posted short bios of the new men for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, as well as status of the building at Mount St. Mary's Seminary, ala Taco Bell: "IT's FULL!!!"

We are in a good situation here in Cincinnati, but I still want to double our number of seminarians from 34 to 70, and we're working hard to get there, but it might take some time.


UPDATE: Rich Leonardi sends word that the Archdiocese of Hotlanta has 50 seminarians, from 95 parishes with already 262 (!!!) priests! Hey, fellas, share the wealth!

(I think I have a phone call to make to see what's happening down in the Bible Belt that we can replicate up in this area...)

Monday, August 13, 2007

A Spiritual Bleg

I have something this evening that will be difficult at best, I fear. It is a situation where I will greatly need the guidance of the Holy Spirit to come up with the right words to say to answer a challenging situation for a family.

So, if you get a chance around 7:00, please say a prayer for me that I might have the right words to comfort a family in the midst of very confusing times.

UPDATE: Thanks all for the prayers, the conversation went better than expected. It was a time where I felt very much inadequate in what I could say to a grieving family, I hope and pray that they took some solace from the small words I had to say.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Grateful for Gifts Received

I was honored to be asked by Archbishop Pilarczyk to submit an article for his Grateful Believers series in the Catholic Telegraph. My submission appears in this week's CT and can be found over at the Seminarian Blog:

You learn very quickly as a priest that your life is one of gratitude; after all, your way of life is supported by the generosity of others. However, you also begin to realize that the call to be a priest is not only one that you do not deserve, but is also one that has been freely given by God, so that you, as a priest, may serve Him more completely.

As a side note, there are also two great articles on Priest Chaplains in the Army. A retired Army friend of mine is always quick to point out that the only chaplains who have received the Congressional Medal of Honor were Catholic Priests, as they gave their life for their men and women. We've had a number of priests from the Archdiocese who have served as Chaplains, and they certainly come back changed and invigorated by their time with America's service men and women.

For a list of the four Catholic Chaplains who have been awarded the Medal of Honor, see here.

God Bless to all of our military chaplains, as well as to all of our soldiers!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Deep Thoughts from a Purdue Grad

So, wisdom gleaned from talking to my brother, the Purdue Chemical Engineer:

There are 10 types of people in this world: those who understand binary and those who don't.

All electronic devices are powered by Black Magic Smoke. If something goes wrong, and the device loses it's Black Magic Smoke, said device will no longer work.


Urgent Prayers needed

From Minneapolis, bridge collapse.

A father grows to support his daughter's vocation

Over at Roman Catholic Vocations, the faithful servant has posted a wonderful article/letter written by the father of a recent entrant to the Sisters for Life in New York City.

It speaks of the turmoil that families often go through as one of their own leaves behind the cares of the world and enters the priesthood or religious life. My own family shared this journey as I started the seminary, and for those who might be struggling to accept a son or daughter's vocation, I highly encourage you to read this father's realization of the blessings that can come from having a priest or religious in the family.