Thursday, December 24, 2009

Is at the core

Cincinnati's Fox 19 News featured the following report on the Vocations Efforts in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati:

Monday, December 21, 2009

Anything new?

We welcome Archbishop Dennis Schnurr as the 10th Ordinary of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. His welcome message:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bit of a party this weekend....

For those outside of Cincinnati who may be unawares, Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk, Archbishop of Cincinnati, celebrates 50 years of priesthood this coming Sunday with a Mass of Thanksgiving at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains in Cincinnati.

He is the prelate who ordained me to the priesthood and appointed me to serve him as Director of Vocations for the Archdiocese, both of which make me extremely grateful to him!

The Catholic Telegraph Photography Project posts a note from his ordination to the priesthood, which is frankly, amazing! Archbishop was ordained a priest in Rome while studying at the Urbanum, the Pontifical Mission University.

As Rick Barr notes at the previous link, The Catholic Telegraph's page has extensive information.

Finally, for those unable to score a ticket for Sunday's Mass of Thanksgiving, according to Matt Swaim's Twitter feed, Sacred Heart Radio will be audiocasting over the air and online.

Pray for safe travel that I might make it back in time from Iowa to attend!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Quiz

If you think you know anything about sports cars, check out this quiz.

IHM Crusaders vs. Mount St. Mary's Minor Prophets

IHM, parish school near Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Cincinnati, hosted the seminarians to take on their 8th grade boys in a basketball game. A vocation plug was included at halftime.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Call of Parents

My next article for the Telegraph runs this week...

As we once again journey through the Advent season, at least part of me always wonders what was going through Mary’s mind during that journey. The somewhat haunting refrain of a popular carol asks: ‘Mary did you know that your baby boy would someday walk on water?” “That this child that you delivered will soon deliver you?” While we can never truly know the thoughts of our Blessed Mother, it certainly invites some speculation during the run up to Christmas.

Perhaps the easiest thing to surmise is that her conversation with the Archangel Gabriel was running over and over in her thoughts. From the moment of her conception, she had been prepared to be the Mother of God, and now it was about to happen. She would be responsible to bring Jesus up, to teach Him to pray, and to form Him to be able to accept the mission that had been prepared for Him from the foundations of the world. It is a wonder she had any sleep at all!

Mary and Joseph’s role in raising the child Jesus to fulfill His mandate is something that is shared by all parents. The final blessing of the Rite of Baptism bears this out. In the prayer over the father, they are reminded that the parents “are the first teachers of their child in the ways of faith. May they be, also, the best of teachers, bearing witness to the faith in all that they say and do.”

The Church takes this commissioning of parents very seriously and counts on parents to be the best of teachers, going so far as to call the home the ‘domestic church.’ It is in the home that children are taught to pray, to love and serve God, to overcome difficulty, and, perhaps most importantly, where they are formed to be Christian disciples in this world. It is this call to discipleship where each child, as he or she grows into adolescence and young adulthood, should begin to realize that God has called him or her to do something special, something unique. The mission of parents is to enable their children to accept this God given mission with all their heart, mind and soul.

Despite this commissioning that was received at their child’s Baptism, in my work as Director of Vocations, I sometime run afoul of parents. I will talk with a young man interested in the priesthood or a young woman interested in religious life, and their response is tragic: “Father, I feel called to this, but my parents will not allow it.”

I often wonder what goes into this denial. Perhaps it is a desire for grandchildren on the part of the parents; perhaps it is fear that their son or daughter will be lonely in ministry; perhaps there is a fear of ‘what happens if he does not like the seminary?’ I have a feeling that it is a combination of all three, and truly driven out of love for their child.

To this last, I respond that as much as they love their child (who is now a young adult), God loves him or her even more and if He has placed this on their heart, God will give them the strength and courage to be able to respond. God does not set someone up for failure, but rather gives them the gifts that they need to succeed, just as He gave Mary and Joseph the gifts they needed to be worthy parents of Jesus.

During this Advent season, I invite parents to pray for their children, but not just in a generic way. Rather, pray specifically for two things: help in discerning the unique gift and talent that God has given to each of your children, and how is He asking me to nurture and develop those gifts, so that when this child leaves the home to enter the world, they will do so with the confidence that comes from being a convicted child of God.

Forming our children with these two questions in mind will ultimately lead them to follow wherever God might be leading them in the Church and in the world.

For information on how to share the Faith with your children, see

Monday, December 7, 2009

Early Bird Alert!

Tomorrow, I will be on the Son Rise Morning Show (740 AM) at 6:30 AM for their annual Advent pledge drive. I hope they don't expect me to be coherent.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Begin with the End in Mind

(Some of my thoughts for yesterday's homily.)

The beginning of the Church Year with the First Sunday of Advent is, I think, rather jarring. Based on the increasing volume of Christmas music from the secular culture and the fact that the Christmas shopping season is in full bloom, we Catholic likely expect to begin hearing about the impending birth of Jesus during Advent: those familiar stories of Mary visiting Elizabeth, Joseph and the dreams of the Angels, etc.

Rather, we get a rather grim story of Jesus describing the end of time, yikes! Instead of looking back to where we have come from, we look towards where we are going. As with any good term paper, we begin with the end in mind.

By doing so, the Church gently (or not so gently, really) asks each of us: 'Where are you going?' If you were to give an account of your life today, would there be enough evidence to 'convict' you of being a follower of Christ? We often think of it in other terms: is there evidence to send us to Hell? I think the other view-point is much more striking and more urgent.

So what are we to make of such a striking beginning to the year? What is the 'end' that we begin with? Simply: salvation. The Code of Canon Law makes this very clear: the highest law in the Church is the salvation of souls. That is why the Church exists.

She does not exist to be a social justice organization. She does not exist to provide education for our children. She does not exist to be a pro-life messanger. She exists to save souls. All these other things are guided by this principal. All the rules and regulations in the Church, all that she teaches and proclaims is guided by this maxim, all that she does should be viewed through this lens: Salvation of Souls.

As we journey through Advent, where does your pilgramige of life lead you?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Spirit in the Life of a Priest

Join host Brian Patrick and I tomorrow morning as we continue our discussion of Pope John Paul II's 'Letters to Priests.' This week, we'll tackle the 1990 Letter which anticipates the 1990 Synod of Bishops on ongoing formation and training of priests, which resulted in Pastores Dabo Vobis and focuses on the role of the Spirit in the life and ministry of Priests.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Vocation Week Highlights Priesthood

If you were wondering why its been terribly quiet around here, maybe this Press Release sent out this morning from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati will help answer:

For the third year in a row, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati Vocation Office has produced educational resources to be used by all Catholic grade schools, high schools, home school groups, parishes and family homes for the upcoming Vocation Awareness Week, January 10-16, 2010.

The materials for this year’s packet follow the theme “You are a priest forever,” from Psalm 110, and focus on the various aspects of the priesthood, including its origin, its importance, the role of the laity in relation to it and the various Catholic teachings surrounding its implementation and practice.

Additionally, “one of the goals in creating these materials is to encourage and help the average Catholic to grow in appreciation for the priests of the Archdiocese and the world,” says Wayne Topp, Associate Vocation Director. “It really is an all-inclusive program that has tackled as many aspects of the Catholic priesthood that we thought possible in one week’s worth of lesson plans.”

As in previous years, the office has produced lesson plans to cover just about every parish need, including pre-school, primary grades, intermediate grades, junior high and high school lesson plans, as well as young adult and adult faith formation discussion guides, a family faith formation document, youth ministry plans, a collection of prayers for priests, and tons of additional web-based resources. What is unique about this program compared to any other program that can be found on the web is the depth of catechesis and the way in which the information is presented to the teacher.

“Teachers, catechists, group leaders and youth ministers can easily print out the lesson plan and implement it as is or they can easily adapt it to fit their groups needs,” says Topp, who was in charge of coordinating this year’s efforts. Fr. Kyle Schnippel, Director of Vocations for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, is very satisfied with this year’s product as well. “We really put a lot of time and energy into making this program the best it could possibly be and we are proud of our results,” he says. He also mentions that while the focus of these materials is on the priesthood and the Year for Priests, the materials are not meant to be exclusively “for the boys.”

“By increasing the awareness among all Catholics of the nature of the priesthood and the sacrifice of following God’s will into the ministerial priesthood,” he says, “we also increase the awareness of the need to discern our own vocation and the absolute necessity in supporting one another as we courageously follow God’s will, especially into the priesthood and religious life.”

Both Fr. Schnippel and Mr. Topp encourage the wide use and distribution of these materials in parishes and schools so that all may come to a deeper appreciation for the priesthood in this Year for Priests. To access these materials, visit the Vocation Office website at and click on Vocation Awareness Week. If you do not have internet access and would like any of the materials for this year, call 513-421-3131 x2860.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati is the 26th largest Catholic diocese in the country, with almost 500,000 Catholics, and has the eighth largest network of Catholic schools in terms of enrollment. The 19-county territory includes 218 parishes and 113 Catholic primary and secondary schools.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Should Women be Ordained Catholic Priests? (video report)

Fox's local station, Channel 19 in Cincinnati, did a video report that aired last night during the 10:00 pm news on Women's Ordination in the Church. I was interviewed for the report, which runs to three minutes in length:

My quibble: she asks 'Where is it in the Bible?' Remember, we hold that Jesus is the Revelation of God in the fullness and that His Revelation is expressed both in written form in the Scriptures, but also in living form in Tradition. And it is quite apparent from both, taken together, that this is something that cannot change.

All in all, though, I am happy with the report. The truth was conveyed.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Check the news tomorrow

Tomorrow (Sunday) evening, 10 PM news on Cincinnati's Fox Channel 19, I am interviewed for a feature on women's ordination in the Catholic Church. I thought the interview went well, but you never know how these things will be broken up.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A few updates from the Vocation Office

First, I haven't given an update on the last Andrew Dinner that we had Wednesday evening at St. Andrew's. We had 38 (!) young men attend the dinner, all at various levels of interest in the seminary (but with some interest nonetheless!)

That puts us well over 100 (mostly) high school men who have attended the 4 Andrew Dinners that we held around the diocese this fall. While I had secretly hoped to achieve that number, I wasn't sure it was possible. Thanks to the priests who brought the men from their parishes to the respective dinners, without their support, it would not be possible!

Also, the Vocation Views for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati are now published on the Vocation Office website: Many parishes use these in their weekly bulletins, check to see if your parish includes them!

I think that's it for now, I'm off the interweb for the weekend, so behave yourselves!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Petrine Authority

My latest appears in this week's Catholic Telegraph, (as if I had already given you enough to read today!):

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a conference sponsored by the Coming Home Network focused on the issue of papal authority in the Church: how it developed and what it means for the Church today. The main focus of ministry for the Coming Home Network is to assist former Protestant clergy in ‘coming home’ to the Catholic Church. With a membership of well over a thousand, Marcus Grodi and his team have been very successful.

With a clientele such as this, it is easy to see why the issue of Petrine Authority passed down through the Papacy is of vital importance. As Protestant clergy, many of their membership have had to struggle with this issue: did the commissioning of Peter by Jesus in Matthew 16 as the Rock upon whom Jesus would build the Church continue after Peter’s death, was it handed on to his successors?

For many of our separated brothers and sisters, Peter’s authority died with him. But for us, as Catholics, we believe that this authority is not connected just with Peter the man, but also with the office that he inaugurated: the Papacy.

We seem to take it for granted that Peter is the leader of the Twelve, but we look back through two thousand years of history where this principal has long since been established. But looking into the Scriptures, we never see his authority challenged, he is always clearly in charge, at least after the Resurrection.

Some modern scholars, especially in Protestant circles, argue that this is because those areas where Peter was challenged were whitewashed out of the Scriptures. The argument follows that as the Papacy became established, the popes had the Scriptures redacted to remove any objectionable aspects. If so, why did they keep the immediate follow-up to the Commissioning of Peter where Jesus calls him Satan? If the popes had the ability to cleanse the Scriptures, certainly they would have gotten rid of Matthew 16:23!

The fruits of modern biblical scholarship do not support this thesis, either. Critical editions of the Scriptures outline all the various versions that have come down to us through the ages. The oldest fragments of writings of the New Testament date from the middle part of the Second Century, and these ancient sources corroborate very well with the Scriptures as we have received them today. Simply, there is no evidence to support the various claims.

Rather, we can take it on faith that Peter assumed the leadership of the nascent Christian community right from the start. We have no record otherwise. But the interesting question that drove the conversation at the Conference was: “How did Peter assume this authority so quickly, and without challenge?”

To find this answer, we return to the passage in Matthew (16:13-20) where Jesus gives Peter the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. When we think of keys, it is easy to think just of the small ring of keys that we keep in our pocket, keys to the house, the car and the office. But this was not so in the time of Jesus. The key to the Temple was massive, a three foot long beam with a few prongs on the end to reach through the door of the Temple and unlock the gates. It was carried on the shoulder of the one who had possession, and he served in the name of the king or High Priest, and shared in the authority by virtue of the office he had.

As the Disciples heard Jesus give Peter the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, this was the image that they conjured, very clearly having Peter take on the authority of leadership by virtue of his office and in the name of Christ. These Keys are then passed down throughout the generations, even to Pope Benedict.

We are then able to trust that God has not left us orphans, but has provided an office by which we can know for sure that He is still with us. Let us rejoice in the Lord that we have been given so great a gift as the Papacy and Magisterium to safeguard and transmit the deposit of faith over these last 2000 years.

Get Ready for some Explosions

Bishop Olmstead, rector of the Josephinum during my time there as an undergrad, pens another extraordinary article for the Year for Priests in his diocesan paper:


Get ready for explosions

The history of the Church is a history of martyrs. The 20th century saw more martyrs than any previous ones. Rather than stifling her growth, fierce persecution has had the opposite effect. It has made the faith grow stronger. This is certainly true in Mexico, through the faithful witness of Blessed Miguel Pro and his many companion-martyrs.

Should we expect, in our day, not to face opposition for the sake of the Gospel? Should we priests expect to be treated with honor in the public square, or should we rather expect to share not only in Christ’s priesthood but also in his mission as victim? We would do well to remember the words of the Maryknoll missionary to China, Bishop James Edward Walsh, who wrote: “Christianity is not a private way of salvation and a guide to a pious life; it is a way of world salvation and a philosophy of total life. This makes it a sort of dynamite. So when you send missioners out to preach it, it is well to get ready for some explosions.”

Thanks to New Advent

Andrew Dinners Report

The Catholic Telegraph runs a report from our fall round of Andrew Dinners in this week's edition. They have been met with great success so far, and with a good turnout for our last dinner for this fall tonight, we should have over 100 young men, mostly high school juniors and seniors, attend and hear about the possibility of seminary for college.

ST. LAWRENCE DEANERY — The young men enjoying dinner at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Oct. 28 talked of the usual things high school boys discuss: school, grades and the high school football playoffs.

But these young men also spoke of the seminary and their possible call to the priesthood at the third Andrew Dinner held this fall in the Cincinnati archdiocese. The dinners allow men, mostly juniors and seniors in high school, to learn more about the priesthood.

Eighteen students from the west side of Cincinnati attended the dinner. They were joined by several priests and Coadjutor Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr.

The evening included a social time, dinner, a presentation and questions and answers. It ended with the praying of the Liturgy of the Hours in the church.

The only question I have is how did Rich beat me to the punch on this one?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

1989 Letter to Priests

Join host Brian Patrick and I on the Son Rise Morning Show tomorrow morning at 8:40 AM for our continuing discussion of Pope John Paul's annual Holy Thursday Letter to Priests. We will tackle the 1989 Letter which follows on the heals of the release of Apostolic Exhortation on the Laity and deals with the role of the priest in building the laity into the People of God.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Travels, Celebrations and a Bronze Pelican

'Been awfully quiet 'round these parts the last few days!

Explanations are perhaps in order, along with my usual random musings on the events of the past few days.

Thursday and Friday last week saw all the priests in the state of Ohio gather for a convocation. Admittedly, most priests going in were not terribly excited by the prospects. It was a two day gathering on teh upcoming pastoral letter on marriage by the Bishops. (There's a line among priests: rather do 10 funerals to 1 wedding.) Thankfully, our fears were relieved and the presentations and discussions were very good, at least in your humble scribe's opinion.

Perhaps best of all was the opportunity to see preists that I knew from around the state whom I don't get a chance to see all too often, like since I was in seminary. I re-met guys whom I had played basketball against in inner-seminary ball tourneys; guys I was in class with at the Josephinum and had lost touch with, and just other priests from around the state. Truly a gift, and a realization that the presbyterate is bigger than just my diocese.

The Vocation Directors from around the state were able to gather and pow-wow on a number of topics, too. (One priest from the state was noticeably absent.....)

Friday night saw a wedding rehearsal in Minster, Ohio. My sister's youngest sister-in-law was getting married and had asked me to do the wedding, which I was happy to oblige. The wedding was on Saturday afternoon, and a great celebration and pulled in a number of ideas from the previous two days. (I love it when a plan comes together....)

After the dinner at the wedding, I hightailed it back to Cinci (about a two hour drive) for Masses on Sunday morning at the parish. The pastor and Sunday Associate both had been previously assigned at St. William's, which was celebrating 100 years and they both wanted to attend the anniversary gathering, so I gladfully took the later 2 Masses at the parish.

I sat down for bout an hour to watch the Bengals take on the Ravens. Luckily, I caught all the Bengals scoring, which leaves only one thing: WHO DEY!

Bout 1/2 way through the second quarter, I had to depart for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati Catholic Committee on Scouting Adult Awards Dinner. As chaplain for scouting, it's a mandatory show, which I am glad to do. Archbishop Pilarczyk was on for the Mass, so I got to stand there as so much of a potted plant, which is a-ok with me! He had a nice reflection on the importance of scouting and gratitude for the adults who make scouting possible. He received the St. George Medal at the end of Mass, along with a few other nice gifts.

I wasn't serving just as chaplain, I was also up for the Bronze Pelican (Copper Chicken?) award. It is the highest honor that the diocese can give for recognition of contributions to scouting. I was awarded for my role as chaplain in addition to leading the last two summer retreats. I was honored to receive the award, thanks to all the scout leaders who made it possible.

Finally, my weekend wasn't quite over yet, as I had been coerced into leading a discussion for a Theology of the Body for Teens class on ToB's relation to celibacy. It was great fun, actually, and a good group of young people, bout 18 or so. I love getting in front of groups to talk on all these things and really enjoy the questions and comments that they give in feedback. There is hope among our young people, truly.

With that, my whirlwind tour came to end and I returned to the rectory. Tired, but a good kinda tired. Don't want to be at the office today, though.

Friday, November 6, 2009


This morning, I finished the novel 'Fatherless' by Brian Gail.

Not to give the story away, it is the story of Fr. John Sweeney, a priest of Philadelphia as he struggles to come to grips with the 'hard things' that Jesus asks of His disciples.

I highly recommend the read for those who are discerning the priesthood, as Gail weaves together many of the struggles that young priests face: wanting to preach the truth, but yet also wanting to be liked by his parishioners. Fr. Sweeney is a sympathetic figure and a good priest, who is struggling to be a great priest as he counsels three different families who are experiencing struggles of their own.

But it is not a book just for priests and/or seminarians, as Gail hits the hard topics of Catholic sexual ethics. He presents the arguments as to why the Church teaches as she does in a way that, I think, is at least digestible for those who are open to the truth.

At 530 pages, it is not a short read, and honestly I felt it could have been trimmed by a good 50 or so pages, but it moved well nonetheless and presents the modern struggle of living the faith while being in the world but not of the world. It isn't as easy as it seems, as being serious about the faith has consequences in real life.

Pick it up, read it, leave it for others.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sunday Reading

Since the local football club is on their bye this week, let me propose to readings for you.

Second, the article I put together a few years ago combing through documents of the Church that outline the teaching.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Petrine Authority

This past weekend was the Deep in History Conference sponsored by the Coming Home Network. Started because Marcus and team realized that the 500th anniversary of Luther's 95 Thesis was just around the bend, and they wanted to do something about it (not to mention fellowship, lots of former Protestant ministers in the group, who 'fellowship' well.)

Past conferences have focused on Church history discussions: the Early Church, the Continental Reformation, the English Reformation (get this series of tapes!), the coming to America and last year's 'Battle for the Faith' on the rise of Denominationalism, or however you spell that!

This year, since they caught up in history, they began a series on Authority in the Church, after all, this is a crux issue between Catholics and Protestants, even Orthodox. Begining this year with Petrine Authority and followed over the next two years by the Authority of Scripture and the Authority of Tradition.

A note should be made here. There were nine speakers over this past weekend giving ten talks (Dr. Ken Howell doubled up). Of the nine, 3 were born and raised Catholic; the other six are converts, mostly clergy converts, but I can't say that for sure. I bring this up, because they all have deep and profound respect for the traditions that they grew out of, and it still can affect how they present, but they all came to realize the shortfalls of their particular traditions and came to see the beauty that is contained in the Catholic Church. And realize that some of these men were in very adament anti-Catholic backgrounds that they had to overcome.

But, thankfully, overcome they did. What truly marvelous presentations! Of particular note for me as Dr. Brant Pitre's presentation on the Jewish roots of the Papacy. I had never thought of Peter in priestly language before. He's always imaged as a fisherman in my mind, for so he is. But Dr. Pitre had a great way of opening my eyes to the priestly dimensions, especially in discussing the Keys that were given, for only a Priest could have Keys to heaven, as modeled after the Temple. He built his discussion around something that we as Catholics take for granted, I think: he was it that Peter so quickly assumed authority in the Early Church and how was it accepted so quickly? This is never challenged, even though Peter certainly makes enough mistakes. Yet, Paul does not challenge him. (Yes, there is a confrontation, but not over who has leadership; I think this is an important distinction.)

Anyway, all the talks were great, and I even managed to stumble my way through Adoration with all these high powered speakers present.

Let us pray for the strength of conviction for those who are feeling drawn to the Catholic Church, even though it means the loss of so much that they hold dear. Let us be open to using their gifts in Church, however they might fit.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mary and the Priesthood

Join us tomorrow morning at 8:40 AM on 740 AM Sacred Heart Radio as host Brian Patrick and I continue our discussion on Pope John Paul's Holy Thursday Letter to Priests. We've reached 1988, the Marian Year, hence his letter focuses on Mary in the life of a priest.

Monday, October 26, 2009

What the Church says about Celibacy

Jeff Pinyan has a well researched post exploring the discussion of priestly celibacy in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church over at The Cross Reference.

Thanks for bringing all of this to bear in one post, Jeff!

The Call, Part II

My latest article is running at Catholic Exchange today.

More on the weekend later, when my brain actually feels like working today. Oy.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Time to move forward

Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP, has a great insight into the state of the Church at this juncture in history over at his blog 'Domine, da mihi hanc aquam!' An excerpt:

What both John Paul II and Benedict XVI have been trying to communicate to the Church and the world is this: the time for critical demolition is over. That project is done. It is time to retire the dynamite, return the bulldozer, fire the demolition crews, and start to rebuild on the foundation left for us by the apostles. At the very least, this means a return to the documents of Vatican Two, read and implemented through their continuity with the tradition and reason. They are not calling us back to an uncritical embrace of Baroque Thomism and manual moralism. Nor are they asking us to live in the illusions of a warmed-over 1950's nostalgia. All they are asking the Church to do is start in the present, look back to where we came from and forward to where we are going without getting lost in the bitterness and cynicism that a life of complaint and opposition engenders.

Back to me, here. What we, on all sides of the Church's spectrum, need to start doing is not name calling and the 'They're out to destroy the Church!!!' Now, how do we, following the example of Pope Benedict, work to re-establish unity in the Church.

All players must be involved, and the greatest difficulty is that it takes a large dose of humility on the part of these players to swallow pride, listen to the opposing view, and move forward in a spirit of continuity with the history of the Church.

So, while we can't resurrect a 1950's style nostalgia, we must resurrect the 'Catholic Identity' that was present there, but now ever more so in dialogue and critique of the culture around us. Hence, we will be in the world, without being of the world.

To quote Fr. Powell, from the above link: "Is that so hard?"

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad!

Yep, last Wednesday was mom's b-day. Today is Pop's! Yes, he went with the mysterious older woman, but does it really count if it's just a week?

He's a good Dad, too, taughts us all the value of hard work (I'm still working on interiorizing that lesson, tho!) and dedication: to family, Church and career.

Thanks for all you do, Dad, happy Birthday and have mom make that favorite meal of yours!

Adoremus Bulletin on Eucharistic Adoration

Looking for a tool to help promote Eucharistic Adoration in your parish?

Check out the October 2009 Adoremus Bulletin. Great stuff.

If you only have time for one article, this is not to be missed.

Priesthood Sunday

is this weekend. As Bishop Finn suggests, take time to pray for your priests this weekend, the ones we have, the ones we need, and the ones sitting in your midst who might have a call to the priesthood but are not aware.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Anyone going?

This weekend is the Deep in History Conference at the Hilton Easton in Columbus, sponsored by the Coming Home Network.

The line-up of speakers is fantastic as always:

Marcus Grodi "The Verse I Never Saw"
Dr. Brant Pitre "Jewish Roots of the Papacy"
Steve Ray "Peter and the Keys"
Dr. Kenneth Howell "The Issue of Authority in Early Christianity"
Msgr. Frank Lane "Authority through the Trinity"
Dr. Paul Thigpen "Spiritual Authority - Who Needs It?"
Dr. Kenneth Howell "The Issue of Authority in the Protestant and Catholic Reformations"
Archbishop Michael Sheehan "What Connects Nicea and Vatican II: Ecumenical Councils and the Magisterium"
Dr. Scott Hahn "Understanding Our Father: The Power of Prayer and the Eucharist"
Fr. Ray Ryland "Cardinal Newman and Papal Authority"

(oh, and me for Adoration. I get to follow Dr. Hahn. I'm already nervous!)

The subject: "Pillar and Bulwark: Authority is at the root of Catholic discussion with our separated brethren, and in 2009 we will take an in-depth look at where true and authentic authority lies."

Anyway, I'll be in black, perhaps long flowing black. Stop over and say hi!

Unveiling the Evils of Contraception

Way to go, Jenn!

Jenn Giroux, executive director of One More Soul in Dayton, has a great 'Other Voices' column online today at the Enquirer.

Imagine, Catholics standing up for the Church!

Are you resolved....

In the continuing 'Reflections from the Archbishop Secretary' for the Year for Preists, comes this note from Archbishop Mauro Piacenza:

Dear Brothers in the Priesthood,

The one motivation for our lives and for our ministry is Jesus of Nazareth, Lord and Christ! The existence of Priests finds in Him, and only in Him, its origin, its aim and the development proper to it in time. The intimate and personal relationship with the Risen Lord, living and present, is really the only experience which might drive a man to give himself completely to God for his brethren.

We know well, dear brothers, how the Lord seduced us, how his fascination was irresistible for everyone, as the prophet says, “O LORD, you seduced me, and I was seduced; you are stronger than I, and you have prevailed” (Jer. 20: 7). This fascination, like every truly valuable thing, needs to be continually defended, treasured, protected and cultivated lest it be lost or, perhaps worse still, lest it become a faded memory which is unable to take on the sometimes aggressive thrust of the world’s reality. The divine intimacy, the origin of every apostolate, is the secret for treasuring in an enduring fashion the fascination of Christ.

We are priests prior to any other reason, however good, to be “united more closely to Christ the High Priest”, united to Him who is our only salvation, the Love of our hearts, the Rock on which we build every act of our ministry, He who knows us more closely than we know our own selves, and whom we desire more than any other thing. Christ the High Priest draws us within himself. This union with Him, which the Sacrament of Order is, carries with it a participation in His offering: “Being united to Christ calls for renunciation. It means not wanting to impose our own way and our own will, not desiring to become someone else, but abandoning ourselves to him, however and wherever he wants to use us” (Benedict XVI, Homily, Holy Mass of Chrism 9th April 2009). The expression, “to be united” reminds us that none of this is our work, the result of our own efforts, but the work of Grace within us: it is the Spirit who unites us ontologically to Christ the Priest and gives us the strength to persevere, all the way to the end, in this participation in the divine work and thus also in the divine life. The “pure victim” then, which Christ the Lord is, reminds each of us of the irreplaceable value of celibacy, which implies perfect continence for the Kingdom of Heaven, and that purity which renders our offering for our fellow man “pleasing unto God”.

May the intimacy of Jesus Christ and the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the all-beautiful” and “all-pure”, sustain us in this daily journey of participation in that Work of Another, in which the priestly ministry consists, knowing that such a participation is replete with salvation above all for us who live it: Christ, in that sense, is our life.

+Mauro Piacenza
Titular Archbishop of Vittoriana

Monday, October 19, 2009

Litany of Vocations

Prayed prior to the recent Call of the King Conference, specifically for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

Comments by a Seminarian, II

Chris Conlon offers his thoughts on how the prayers of the laity can help a young man discern a call to the priesthood, given at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center.

Comments by a Seminarians I

David Doseck offers his reflections on how the laity help to support his potential vocation to the priesthood, given at Holy Angels, Sidney, in follow up to Archbishop Schnurr's comments.

Creating a Culture of Vocations in the Parish

Remarks by Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr, Coadjutor ARchbishop of Cincinnati, for the Call of the King Conference, September/October 2009, at Holy Angels, Sidney.

So, how was your weekend?

The weekend started off well.

Friday night, we were gathering as a family to celebrate the mutual birthday's of our parents. Mom's b-day was last Wednesday, dad's is this coming. (Only one party gets em both!)

Saturday morning, my three oldest neices were running in the county cross country meet back home, and it was in the home town, to boot, so I had to go. I didn't bring my winter coat, and 35 degrees with a jacket was a bit much, but we managed. The girls all ran well, one setting her PR for the 5K distance, and it was enjoyable. Plus, got to hang for a while with mom and dad, plus these three's younger brother and sister (who is a real jabberjaws!), so the cold was gladly endured.

Saturday afternoon was laundry and an appointment back in Cincinnati (after two hour drive back) and Mass for the Bengals on Saturday evening.

Sunday morning, I had the 10 Mass at Lourdes where I am in residence and then headed down for the game. (tickets instead of an honorarium is just fine with me!) We were sitting in the north end of the stadium, and the first half was good: back and forth football, sun shining on us, good crowd around, etc. Second half, not so good. Crowd started to get more unruly as the number of dropped balls and an absolute inability to stop the Texans (the Texans!) combined with the sun dropping below the upper deck to give a nice chill to the air. Final score: too much to not enough.

Returning to my car, we discovered one less intact window than when we left, minus a GPS nav system which I had left on the dash. Guess he wanted it more than I. grumble grumble grumble. Cleaned up as much glass as i could and headed back to the house and had a friend take me to Mass last night at a neighboring parish. (a reward will be awaiting in heaven!)

Called Safelight, scheduled a replacement for today. They called this morning: part has a blemish, shipping new part, not in till Thursday. WHAT! dangit, gonna be a cold week driving.

prayers of forgiveness being offered. and again. and again. and again. and again.

Congrats are in Order!

In the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, we have started to send some of our college seminarians to Bishop Brute College Seminary in Indianapolis, which is associated with Marian University there.

Last spring, as I made a visit, I met the very welcoming vice-rector and had a chance to spend about an hour talking on a number of items in the Church, in the city of Indy and Cinci, and just family matters.

This morning, I learned he is moving from Indy to Wyoming. Prayers are certainly being offered, good wishes, and acknowledgement that Cheyenne is getting a great new bishop.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

That was painful

So, my identical twin brother went to Purdue.

I started at Ohio State.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Review from our first Andrew Dinner

Last night, over 30 young men gathered with nine priests and Archbishop Schnurr to hear a bit about the priesthood, watch a short video on college seminary life, and ultimately to consider the question as to if God might be calling them to the priesthood.

A huge thanks to Fr. Tom Mannebach of Holy Redeemer for hosting, as well as to the other priests who brought young men from their parishes to attend, especially Fr. Frank Amberger for bringing 17 from Russia alone!

Michael Walsh has assembled a ten minute video featuring our college seminarians which is fantastic. We will post snippets here when ready.....

More Andrew Dinners are planned in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati over the next few weeks:

October 21: St. Anthony, Dayton
October 28: Our Lady of Lourdes, Westwood
November 11: St. Andrew, Milford

Info is over at Cincinnati Vocations.

The Experience of 'The Call'

Known for the way he developed the interplay between light and darkness in his paintings, the Italian master Caravaggio has had a lasting impact in the world of art since his troubled life ended nearly 400 years ago. His distinctive paintings, especially his religious scenes, continue to have an impact even on today’s viewers.
For me, his ‘Calling of St. Matthew’ resonates. Commissioned by Cardinal Matteu Contreil to hang in the French National Church of San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome, the scene draws you in as a nearly hidden Christ points powerfully to St. Matthew, sitting at his post as a tax collector. Jesus is not content to let Matthew remain and powerfully beckons him to follow, to become one of the Twelve, to become an Evangelist. The faces of those seated with St. Matthew are a mix of wonder, astonishment, disbelief as this sinner reacts with a look of: ‘Who? Me?’ The light streaming into the scene from behind Christ bathes Matthew’s face, giving us an insight into that deep personal struggle: ‘Do I follow? Do I stay?’ One can almost read into his face that despite his misgivings, Matthew knows he will follow Jesus and that his life will never be the same.
Perhaps the reason this scene is so powerful for me is that it played out in my own life, and now in my work as Vocation Director, I see it played out in the lives of so many young men and women who face that similar struggle. Deep down, we all echo St. Matthew’s question: ‘Who? Me?’ So many of the great saints echoed similar misgivings throughout history, from St. Peter’s ‘Leave me, Lord, for I am a sinful man,’ up to Pope Benedict XVI’s apparent trepidation as he realized he was about to be elected successor of Peter.
Yet, Our Lord’s favorite phrase echoes to us down through these same annuals of history: ‘Do not be afraid!’ More than any other phrase in the Gospel, Jesus uses these four simple words to encourage His disciples then, and his disciples now. Whenever or however we are called to follow Him, we must ask for courage to respond with generosity and strength, and that the astonishment that comes from the realization that we are being called to this continues all throughout life.
What should you do if you think you are being called to the priesthood or religious life, though? First off, find someone you can trust, someone who has a deep love for the Lord and His Church whom you can confide in and will not lead you astray. Perhaps this is your parish priest (always a good place to start!), perhaps a friend, youth minister or teacher. When facing a daunting task such as discerning a call, it is so easy to get all wrapped up in your own thoughts, to have someone to bounce ideas off of, who can listen to your fears and dreams, can help you to sort out where exactly you might be called.
In this Year for Priests, there is much discussion online and new books arriving that discuss the priesthood, and heroic priests that have answered Our Lord’s call to lay down their lives for their people. Fr. Walter Ciszek’s inspirational ‘He Leadeth Me’ and ‘With God in Russia’ show the great lengths a man will go to give his life for Christ and provide just two quick examples.
Finally, young men discerning the priesthood have the opportunity to join together at the upcoming ‘Andrew Dinners’ that are being held throughout the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Named after St. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter who brought Peter to meet Jesus, these dinners give young men the chance to meet with Archbishop Schnurr to explore the possibility of the priesthood. If you are interested in attending, check with your priest, or visit for more information.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom!

You're the best!

(Age withheld b/c I want to stay in the will!)

Prayer Bleg

Tonight is our first of four Andrew Dinners for this fall. Please keep the young men attending in your prayers for their discernment and courage in answering the call from Christ.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Importance of Prayer

Join us tomorrow at 8:40 AM on 740 AM Sacred Heart Radio for our continuing series on Pope John Paul II's Letter to Priests. This week, we focus on his 1987 Letter to Priests which is a moving reflection on the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and how that should be modeled in the life of a priest today.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Nothing Doing in Sidney?

For those in the northern reaches of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, we are hosting the Call of the King Conference Sunday night at Holy Angels in Sidney, beginning at 7 pm, with Adoration beginning at 6.

If you are interested in promoting vocations, come here Archbishop Schnurr share his thoughts on building a culture of vocations in the home and in the parish!

(This is a repeat of the one two weeks ago in Cinci, and the talk really isn't to be missed!)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Unity in the face of Adversity

Today's Gospel Reading was one that really can cause you to twitch in your seat. (or shoes, as we're standing at that point.)

The Pharisees challenge Jesus that it is by the power of Beezelbub that He casts out demons.

Jesus' response is the cryptic/prophetic: 'A house divided against itself cannot stand!'

As I read over this passage this morning at Mass, it struck me as important words to keep in mind in the Church for today.

We must be united to be strong.

United around the Holy Father. (Have you read his words recently?)

United around our (Arch)Bishop. (Have you prayed for him today?)

United around our parish. (Have you assisted at Mass, wholeheartedly?)

But it must be remembered, that unity without the Truth is not real, for Christ is the one who binds us together.

Some Good News in the Pro-Life world

Last night was the 'Banquet for Life,' sponsored by Cincinnati Right to Life. I was honored to be asked to give the Invocation at the Banquet, and even more honored by who was chosen to be the recipient of this year's major award.

Tony Maas is president of JTM Food Group here in Cincinnati, a sponsor of the Cincinnati Reds, among so much else. He is a former parishioner of mine, to boot, and is very active and involved in the Pro-Life movement. He has helped establish the Zone Communications Group and the Underground, as well as Ruah Woods, a center for teaching about the Theology of the Body. He and his wife Barb were honored with this year's award.

As wnyone who knows Tony will attest, he does not keep his thoughts and feelings to himself. He is outspoken, he speaks his mind, and is not afraid of repercussions, good or ill. One of the ways that he shares his Pro-Life message is through the trucks used to haul supplies to distributers. The rear panel of every semi trailer features the picture of a baby with the words 'Life, what a beautiful choice.' At the bottom: 'JTM: A Pro-Life Company' Simple.

The presenter of the award happens to also work for JTM in research and development (he also serves as the president of Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati), and mentioned that it was a risk to have such a political statement on the back of the trucks, but that they get a response of 100-1 positive. In fact, he mentioned that someone called to thank them for such a powerful witness, and to thank them, he was going to start introducing JTM through his distribution network. He mentioned: 'This was a company we had worked years to get into, and here a simple sighting of one of our trucks opened a door that had been firmly shut.'

I tell this story because Tony does not work for accolades, but truly is an example of someone who lives his faith and convictions out in the world, come what may. Yes, it is a risk; but there is an even greater reward in heaven. As Jesus says so much in the Gospels, and echoed repeatedly by Pope John Paul, DO NOT BE AFRAID!!! Yes, he promises the Cross, but there is Glory present there that the world cannot touch.

I am humbled and very proud that Tony serves on the advisory board for the Vocation Office, that he is willing to take time out of his very busy schedule to help me do this work more efficiently and diligently. God Bless, and thanks for all you do.

By the by, the keynote speaker was Shawn Carney, founder of 40 Days for Life. He did not disappoint! What a passionate and zealous young man for life. His reminder is that the pro-life movement reaches its greatest strength not in Washington nor in the White House, but locally. He shared just a few stories of how 40 Days has changed hearts. (or, more appropriately, Our Lord has changed hearts through the witness of those who are present night and day before abortion mills)

40 Days for Life is ongoing right now in many places throughout the country. I will be leading the Rosary at 7:30 pm on Monday at the Planned (un)Parenthood on Auburn Ave. in Cincinnat. Come join us if you can.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Action Alert in Chicago

Mayor Daily has instituted 'Bubble Zones' around Chicago's abortion mills, which would subject "pro-life advocates to a $500 fine for merely talking to women considering abortion outside an abortion facility."

How heinous is this? Even the ACLU has campaigned against this measure!

From the article: ACTION: Contact Mayor Daley at 312-744-3300 and members of the city council at

Monday, October 5, 2009

Appian Attack

As of August 1, I am in a different rectory. Feeling cut off from parish life, I desired to move back into a more normal parish than was available at the Cathedral.

But I think I made the natives restless!

A few weeks ago, I awoke to a stinging in my right foot. 'hmm...' thinks I, 'what could that be?'

Still dark, I felt down for my foot, 'nothing feels wrong.' Then I start to hear things. Things that go bzzz in the night....

I flip on the light, and there are fifteen or so bees flying around my bedroom! YIKES! Well, I went all Jason on them and started attacking them with reckless abandon. Pretty soon, the carcases were lying about my feet, I was triumphant! (Wait, there goes another! Get him!)

Well, the next day, I see a few more, but they had pretty much calmed down. Apparently there was a hive in the eave, and they didn't particularly like having their house sprayed, so they swarmed to the next best place: my bedroom!

Over the last two weeks, though, I might have seen one, maybe two a day, but they looked rather sickly. 'No worries, they'll be gone soon.'

Revenge is a dish best served cold, and they are now extracting their revenge!

This morning, about 3:30 (can that even be called 'morning'?), another sharp, stinging pain, now on my toe! 'I know this, and he is a goner!' I caught him in my sheets, but he soon was on his way to the great beehive in the sky.

Keeping an eye out for his buddies, no one doing today. (well, I was at the office all day, so they might have been around...)

His brother wanted to extract even more punishment for the toll I took on his family. (Are these Italian bees?) Sitting at my desk, typing away at an email, 'hmmm.... something crawling up my ankle....' Reaching down and 'YOWZERS!' he got my finger! (which is now conveniently swollen on the tip).

They have awoken the sleeping giant, and now a massive can of Raid sits next to me. I will not be made fun of in such a way. No, I will not!

(anyone have tips on how to get rid of bees?)

Married Priests?

Fr. Dwight Longnecker, who knows a thing or two about the subject, writes on the topic of Married Priests. In doing so, he strikes down a number of myths or red herrings.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

1986 Letter to Priests

Tomorrow morning at 8:40, I'll be on 740 Sacred Heart Radio with Brian Patrick to discuss Pope John Paul's 1986 Letter to Priests which discusses the life and example of St. John Vianney.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cincinnati Blue Mass

Yesterday saw the celebration of the annual 'Blue Mass' in Cincinnati, held to honor our civil servants: police, fire and safety personal.

The Enquirer has a photo gallery up.

May St. Michael keep them all safe.

Friday, September 25, 2009

What a week!

Well, ok, not really, just busy doing stuff. nothing great to report, but two reminders come forward:

This weekend: Credo: I believe! retreat at Moeller High School

Also, Sunday: Call of the King Conference at the Holy Spirit Center in Norwood.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Wanna waste the rest of the afternoon?

Peruse the website of the Vatican Museums!

Swing of the thurible to Sherry W. at Intentional Disciples

St. Matthew, Apostle and Tax Collector

Today is the feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Tax Collector.

In a particular way, he can be a patron of many men discerning a call to the priesthood in the current age.

Well, to look at the passage of his calling, as he reports it so it's veracity can be easily assumed, we see Jesus' wonderful statement: 'I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'

So many men today who feel a call to the priesthood have a terrible sense of unworth: 'I am not worthy of this call!' You know what? He's right, he isn't worthy of this call!

With the ease and proliferation of, umm... let's call it the 'evils' of the internet and the perverse nature of our culture, there are few young men who are unaffected by the distortions that our culture presents. Where this really challenges the young man is when he faces the question of celibacy, it is so far afield from experience, that he cannot even grasp what it might mean, much less embrace it freely in his life.

We turn back to Matthew. While we do not know many details of his life either prior to or even after his call by Christ, we can presume a few things:

1) Working as a tax collector meant to be in cahoots with the Romans. As such, he would have genearlly been shunned by the societal elite in the Jewish world view of 1st Century Palestine. We see this in the Pharisees' response to Jesus eating at his house: 'This man is a sinner!'

2) He was still an observant Jew: reading his account of the Gospel, one is struck by the Jewishness of the writings. Putting this together with the last, we can presume that his Jewish observances were 'from the outside,' in that because he was publically known as a sinner, he would likely have not been welcome to preach in synagogue or take a prominent role in the Temple.

3) He recognized his own need for salvation. Seeing the immediacy of his response to Jesus, his disposition of heart is certainly in the right place. He is stuck in a job that he may not like and he wants to be more religious but is prevented. All of a sudden, Jesus walks past, whom he may have heard of, and calls him to follow. "And he got up and followed him." The response is not delayed, it is not conditional on finding someone to take his place at the customs post, it is immediate.

If you are feeling a call to the priesthood, see in the example of St. Matthew one who recognizes his weaknesses and offers himself to the Lord to be a living witness of His.

No priest is perfect, no one called to priesthood or religious life is perfect, stop trying to be. Instead, let Jesus perfect you in your call to 'Follow me!'

Sunday, September 20, 2009

DVR Alert!

Tonight on Food Network, they are re-airing the Throwdown episode where Bobby Flay takes on Fr. Leo P. of Grace Before Meals at 11:00 PM and 2:00 AM.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Quote of the Day

"The Catholic Church is like a waitor: he doesn't make the meal, his job is to get it from the chef to the table without screwing it up."
- Mother Miriam, aka Rosalind Moss on the 2008 Coming Home Network's Deep in History Conference tapes.

Her point: God is the author of salvation (ie the chef), the Church's role is to bring that salvation to us without screwing it up. She is not free to change doctrine, she is not free to water things down, she is not free to ignore a teaching; her job is to present the salvation that has been won for us by Christ to her members and to the world. So at times, we are the 'customer' and at times we are the 'waitor.'

When you are serving as a waitor, don't be afraid to carry that sweet smelling dish of salvation! (ummm..... a sizzling plate full of fajitas!)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Now we know

the true ancient source of the Labyrinth!

Swing of the Thurible to Patrick Madrid


I've got a serious case of writer's block on something that should be terribly easy for me to write in less than an hour. Yet, here I am, staring at a blank screen.

It doesn't help that the parish where I now reside has been in the news.

Fr. Sunberg is a good and holy priest, please pray for his strength.

Where's the fancy hat?

Last night, I was priviledged to be part of a special 4th Degree Exemplification for the Knights of Columbus. Special because it was solely for another priest and I, and had been set up because Fr. Dan was in town from Vladivostok, Russia (The eastern most city in Russia, a port on the Pacific Ocean north of Japan) to speak at a parish mission over the weeekend. I was supposed to go through 4th degree a few weeks ago on a Saturday, but was prevented by Bishop Moeddell's funeral.

Anyway, the 4th degree Knights are the ones who are most recognizable, ie capes and swords (pirates, according to a neice at my first Mass.) Alas, as priests we are not required to get the sword and fuzzy hat. Count me disappointed.

Monday, September 14, 2009


There's a new endeavor for Catholic business folk coming to Cincinnati: Cathlink, a Catholic Business networking event.

Started in Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, they are looking to expand down this way. The first event is being held at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center on Friday, October 9th, beginning with Mass at 7:30, breakfast and networking time, and a short presentation, I think on what Cathlink is all about.

See their website here.

RSVP by October 7th to

Sunday, September 13, 2009

What did you see at Mass today?

Me? A lady brought in two dachsuns during the post Communion meditation.

Can't say life is boring!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Jesus, the New High Priest, take 2

Also, notice the tag line at the end of the article!

The next Call of the King Conference is coming up!

The Conference is happening twice:
- September 27 at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center, or
- October 11 at Holy Angels, Sidney
Both events begin with Adoration at 6 pm, with the conference formally starting at 7. Come and hear Archbishop Schnurr share his wisdom on building a culture of vocations in the parish and diocese!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Wish I would have posted this yesterday, but last night on the Food Network, Iron Chef Bobby Flay challenged Fr. Leo of Mount St. Mary's, Maryland, to a throwdown fajita challenge. It was a great episode, and hopefully will be up on their archive soon.

It was great to see Fr. Leo pull out the rosary beads during judgement hour!

(Plus his cutting instructor was pretty famous, too.

Fr. Leo is here.

NCRegister is here.

Cafeteria is Closed

An anonymous poster posits in my last thread:

It's about conscience -- Sister Louise's, not the Archbishop's.

Sister Louise wasn't silenced because she was teaching about women's ordination, she was silenced because she believes in women's ordination.

For the rest of us in ministry, it's a good thing that the Archbishop isn't psychic as well as oppressive.

I have a few thoughts:

First, if there is a disagreement on a dogmatic position in the Church, and yes, an all male, heirarchical priesthood, is a dogmatic position of the Church, it is going to play out in other ways as well. In this specific example, it would effect one's thoughts and positions on the Eucharist, as the ministerial priesthood is intimately connected with the Eucharist, celebration and species. If you pull out the belief in the priesthood, the concept of sacrifice will quickly be ushered out as well. So, even if she was not teaching on this subject per se, it would affect her views in other areas, which would make them suspect as well.

This is going to be a reduction to the absurd, but it will (hopefully) prove the point. Say a basketball coach doesn't 'believe' in the 3 point line, but holds the rest of the rules. It is going to change how she/he coaches, approaches the game, draws up plays, etc. With the reult that, likely, he's going to lose, for the other team can score 1.5 times more points every time down the court. Granted, not infallible doctrine here, but it plays out across other aspects of the faith.

At the deeper level, as pointed out by Carl Olson and me, is the question of authority. Anyone who teaches in the name of the Church teaches with the authority of the local bishop, not on their own authority. (Bishop D'Arcy of Fort Wayne, South Bend has recently made this same point in regards to the Notre Dame Scandal.)

The Archbishop has to stand before God and account for his care of souls in his diocese. (Have you prayed for him yet today????) I think this is a much bigger weight the one (malformed) conscience.

Finally, I would argue that those who are glad that 'the Archbishop isn't psychic' may want to question their role in teaching what he (and the Church) teach.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Jesus, The New High Priest

My next series in the Catholic Telegraph, on the Year for Priests runs this week.

We have been examining the development of priestly identity in the Jewish Scriptures over these last few months, culminating my last column with Jesus fulfilling the Passover rituals during His entrance into glory through His Paschal mystery.

Even with these discussions, there remains debate among Scripture scholars about Jesus’ own identity as a priest: ‘Did Jesus identify Himself as a priest?’ It seems like such an obvious question, yet debate rages.

A major factor that argues against Jesus’ self identity as a priest is that His ancestry is through the tribe of Judah, not Levi, the priestly tribe. We have already discussed how the tribe of Levi took over the priestly duties because of their zeal, so we see Jesus returning to an even older source of the priesthood in Melchizedek, which remains the source of the Catholic Priesthood..

But it still does not answer how Jesus identifies himself as a priest, and while we can certainly look to the events of His passion to see Jesus as a priest; for those who can see, Jesus’ priestly identity is manifest even from the beginning of his public ministry.

Turning to the Gospel of Mark, we see Jesus affect three healings that would, in the Mosaic Law Code, cause Him to contract ritual impurity: the healing of a leper, the curing of the woman afflicted with the hemorrhage, and the raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead. In the Jewish mindset, all three of these events brought impurity upon the one who touched the other. Yet, especially in the curing of the woman with the hemorrhage in Mark 5:25-34, Jesus feels power going out of him. His purity and close connection with the Father enables Him to perform a priestly function in restoring others to health, to wholeness.

Admittedly, these references do not seem to have much to do with a priestly identity, but they come to light through a reading of the Passion Narratives. While all the Passion Narratives have priestly language, it comes through strongest in the Gospel of John. In fact, chapter 17 is known as the Great Priestly Prayer of Jesus in which he prays for His disciples that we might be drawn into the unity that exists between Him and His Father in Heaven. (Which is what priests still pray during the Mass.)

Even more telling is the confrontation between Jesus and Caiaphas and Annas, the high priest and his father, respectively, at the time of Jesus’ trial. In John’s account, Jesus is clearly in charge of the proceedings. He does not go as an unwilling lamb, meek and humble; He goes forward as a priest willingly offering Himself as a sacrifice.

A deeper sign that Jesus truly does identify Himself as the new High Priest is easy to miss. When he is stripped prior to being nailed on the Cross, there is a curious detail that His tunic was ‘woven in one piece from top to bottom and had no seam. (John 19:24)’ While seemingly insignificant, in the description of the High Priest’s garments in the Old Testament (See Leviticus 16), we see that the high priest as a descendent of Aaron would wear a seamless tunic made of linen during the Day of Atonement, when he offered sacrifice for the sake of the people, creating strong parallels with Jesus’ self sacrifice. These are but some of the intricate details that show Jesus truly as the new High Priest, fulfilling all the promises of the Old Covenant, and inaugurating the New and Everlasting Covenant in His own blood.


To learn more about Jesus, the High Priest, the faithful of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati are invited to the next Call of the King Conference, which is taking place at 7:00 PM on September 27th at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center in Norwood or October 11th at Holy Angels in Sidney. Archbishop Dennis Schnurr is delivering the keynote address on building a culture of vocations in the parish and diocese. Please see for more information, and join us in support of your priests during this Year for Priests.

Picked up by the Big Guys

Carl Olsen at Ignatian Insight picks up the story of Sr. Louise Akers here in Cincinnati.

I haven't weighed in at this point, but will do so now.

The issue at hand here, really, is not the question of women's ordination, that is a smokescreen at the deeper issue: authority.

Simply, anyone who teaches in the name of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, or any local Church for that matter, teaches with the authority of the bishop which he has diputed to him/her. A person does not teach in the name of the Church on their own authority, for if it is upon one's own authority, to quote Eduardo Verastagui, 'is junk.'

Archbishop Pilarczyk has simply rescinded Sr. Akers' authority to teach in this local church, and as Carl Olsen points out in the above link, he was bound by his conscience to do so.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

On the integrity of the New Testament

Vivificat! has a great article, with well supported research, on the historical veracity of the New Testament, as opposed to other ancient texts.

Those who don't check New Advent on a daily basis, really should.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Vatican City Quiz

Thanks to New Advent, comes a great afternoon break: Vatican City Quiz from How Stuff Works.

I got a 9 outta 10.

Report back your results.


Those from outside the city may not appreciate the phenomena of Cincinnati high school football. Heck, it still amazes me that the high school where I taught could draw 10,000 folks for a game every Friday.

Paul Daugherty, sports columnist in the Enquirer, has a feature on this week's Elder - Colerain matchup, broadcast live on ESPN at noon on Sunday.

Elder truly is a family atmosphere, I still do miss being there, but still do partake in 'Purple Friday!' at the downtown office.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

10 Bible Facts

Dan Egan, over at Bible Tidbits, has 10 great Bible minutes.

Great connections to really bring the Scripture alive!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

News today

Things in the Queen City have been interesting over the last few days re: teaching authority in the Church.

For my take on why only men can be ordained to the priesthood, click here.

Year for Priests

Lighthouse Catholic Media's monthly release is entitled 'Year for Priests,' a talk given by Prof. Michael Barber, with a bonus talk by Chase Hilgenbrinck, who recently gave up a career in professional soccer to enter the seminary. I'm tempted to go drive around for an hour or two just to listen!

Find more on Lighthouse at:

Michael Barber is one of a trio at The Sacred Page (along with Brant Pitre and John Bergsma). Prof. Barber's weekly reflections on the readings are of particular note.

Vocation Advice

from one of the best in the Biz, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York.

His four points:

1) Emphasize the Vocation of Marriage and Family

2) Re-creat a culture of vocations

3) The laity need not be afraid of asking their priests to help them to be holy

4) Priests must be reminded that they are here to help the laity get to heaven

It's just that simple, no?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mary in the Life of a Priest

A talk given on August 31, 2009, for the annual 'Days of Prayer and Mercy' at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center, Norwood, Ohio.

What about Deacons?

In the 'Time in Seminary' post, another question has been posed:

What is the time required for deacons who come from that same second background and increasingly take on many roles in the same parish? What would be the impact of having a priest out two years sooner versus having a deacon? What is the time required of a deacon?

Also, what exactly can the deacon do in the parish? Is there somewhere one can find this well spelled out? What can they do during the Mass with the priest? What Sacraments can they administer without the priest there?

The requirements for the formation of permanent deacons are of a bit more flexibility, I think, than the requirements for the priesthood. I know that there is a National Assn of Diocesan Deacon Directors (NADD), they might have the national standards, but I feel pretty confident that each diocese has slightly different aspects to the formation programs, based on need, numbers, and available resources.

Here in Cincinnati, prior to entrance into Deaconate Formation. the man is required to complete at least a two year program in the Lay Pastoral Ministry Program at the Athenaeum of Ohio/Mount St. Mary's Seminary. As they complete that program, they apply into a three year formation program for deacons. Here, we only run one program at a time, so they are only accepted once every three years. They meet during the academic year, every other weekend, for a long slog of classes. (I know they work when they are taking these classes.) They go through the same 'minor orders' that we do in the priesthood tract (Candidacy, Lector, Acolyte).

Again, things are different diocese to diocese, but here, deacons do not receive a salary from the parish unless they have a position in the parish, such as pastoral associate, DRE, etc. Many of these men have 'regular jobs' out in the world and just assist at the altar on Sundays. They may help with weddings and baptisms, too, as well.

What is the impact of having a priest out quicker rather than a deacon? Well, that comes down to what a priest can do versus what a deacon can do. A deacon does not have the charism to govern, like the priest, so he cannot serve as pastor. A deacon cannot confect the Eucharist, but is able to assist at the celebration of the Eucharist. When he does so, he does Form III of the penitential rite (if that option is used), he proclaims the Gospel and leads the intercessions, and prepares the gifts at the altar. He is the regular minister of the Chalice for communion.

He can preside at weddings, baptisms and funerals outside of Mass, performing the Sacrament of Baptism and witnessing weddings. He can bless sacramentals, and do Benediction with the Eucharist.

In the Church's eye, he stands with one foot in the sacred world, one in the secular world, hence why he leads the intercessions. He is supposed to be out among the people and know what their needs are.

There is more that can be said, I know a few of the permanent deacons here in Cinci read this humble little site, perhaps they can chime in?

(As a side note, Archbishop Pilarczyk has always said that there is one order of deacons, so that even though permanent deacons are addressed as 'Deacon' and transitional deacons (those on the way to the priesthood) are addressed 'Reverend Mister', here, we ordain them together, in one ceremony. This is the year, too, so please include in your prayers the men who are in their final year of formation for the Diaconate, too.)

Preach on, Holy Father

Tomorrow morning sees the continuance of our series on Sacred Heart Radio of John Paul's 'Letters to Priests.'

We've made it up to 1984, but it's not a letter. Rather, his homily to a gathering of priests during the Holy Year of Redemption.

Listen in at 8:40 AM on 740 AM, Sacred Heart Radio, or online at (They usually replay during the national hour on either Thursday or Friday, too.)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Time in Seminary

Before going any farther, if you haven't done so, check The Call series at Columbus Dispatch. Today concludes a weeklong series, which has been pretty good.

A reader asks:

Father, a number of us were discussing the time in the seminary. As I understand it the time in training is 6-7 years. Is that correct? Is it the same as it was time wise back in the 50's?

It seems like today we get so many who have college degrees and life experience when back in the 50's we had kids coming in from high school (ed's note: if not directly from 8th grade!). Is that not correct? If so, why can't we get this training done a lot faster? Seems like with the shortage, we could use some priests out here and a shorter training time might also encourage someone to become a priest who has interest. I can't imagine going through college and then taking on that many years of training to become a priest. However, I leave it to the church to decide as they certainly know far more than I do.

When asking questions of this type, I think the last line is certainly the most important: The Church does indeed know better than I do, even me as a priest, and we do not just submit to her authority, but seek to understand why she teaches or practices such a thing.

To answer the actual question, one must turn to The Program for Priestly Formation by the USCCB, 5th Edition. This is the document tha tguides seminary formation in this country, and implements the vision that was set out by Pope John Paul II in Pastores Dabo Vobis (I will give you shepherds). It was published in 2006, right as I was beginning in the office. This document sets out the requirements that all seminaries have to follow.

The actual time in 'Major Seminary' is the same today as it was in the 50's: four years. However, there is a new phenomenon that did not exist 'back in the day:' second career vocations to the priesthood. (They always did exist, just not in the numbers we see today.)

What the Church has found is that while these men do bring a treasure of experience from a working career (even some having been married and widowed), there is a great need to form them in the Christian environment. The fact is, we live in a post-Christian world, and whereas in the past, men being formed in seminary had eight to twelve years of formation, through high school and college to focus on Christian classics, a true Liberal Arts education, a strong foundation in philosophy and literature, these dimensions are missing when a man comes through with an engineering degree, or a finance/business degree; even with a teaching degree. Hence, seminaries have set up 'Pre-Theology' programs that address the needs to form these second career men in this Catholic world view before they begin their theological studies.

The PPF stipulates that in order to enter 1st Theology, one must have completed 2 years of formation to get a groundwork and set a basis to prepare that man to study theology, hence for a man that has a degree elsewhere, he must do 2 years 'remedial study' before completing the 4 years of theology. Some dioceses and/or seminaries also require a year of internship/pastoral year (we do), which adds another year to formation, hence the guys that enter Pre-Theology I for us this fall can expect a 7 year formation program. Yes, it is alot, yes it is daunting. But as I explain what is all involved in semianry formation (much more than just academics), the time seems to be not near enough for what a man has to do, personally, professional, spiritually, to take up the mantle of the priesthood.

The heart of your question, while I think well intentioned, also shows something deeper. Please do not take this the worng way, but it seems that you see the priesthood as a mere sacramental machine. (I know many others that, while good hearted, fall into this approach.) 'If the training were shorter, we would have more priests.'

To that I ask: 'Do you want more priests, or do you want holier priests, better priests, excellent priests?' To get the latter, even seven years is not enough, and bluntly, that's what we need. Not more, holier.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

John Paul the Great Legacy Progect

Sent in by a reader, comes word of a new project in the Washington, DC, area: the John Paul the Great Legacy Progect, with a mission "to make known and celebrate the many ways in which his Holiness, Pope John Paul II, impaced the Catholic Church and society as a whole.

Dominican Sisters of Mary, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bring it to Fulfillment

The creative guys at Grassroots Films team up with again, to stunning results:

How NOT to discern a vocation

A good read from Busted Halo on how not to pursue a vocation. In the end, it's not because 'I have nothing better to do,' but rather because 'I want to offer my life to God as a living sacrifice of praise before Him.'

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

From the Diocese

The link to the press release from the Diocese upon the death of Bishop Moeddel is here.

It's rather blue around the office today.

Current Seminarian List

Our Current roster of sems, by year:

V Theology (currently deacons, will be ordained priests this May)
Rob Muhlenkamp
Tim Ralston

IV Theology (will be ordained deacons in April)
Dan Hess
Adam Puntel
Scott Wright

III Theology (pastoral year)
Dan Hunt
Matt Robben
Marc Soellner

II Theology
Jim Romanello

I Theology
Jerry Bishop
Andrew Cordonnier
Anthony Eichhorn
Brian Phelps
Jim Riehle

Pre-Theology II
Chris Patterson
Chris Conlon

Pre-Theology I
Brian Archdeacon
Matt Feist
Chris Geiger
Chris Osgood
Eric Roush

IV College
Adrian Hilton
Eric Wood

III College
Tim Fahey

II College
David Doseck
Sean Wilson
Alex Witt

I College
Philip Frederick
Jarred Kohn

Please keep all these men in your prayers.

Jesus, the New Passover

My recent Telegraph article runs today at Catholic Exchange.

Sad News

Word comes this morning that Bishop Carl K. Moeddel, retired Auxilary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati has gone to his eternal reward early this morning.

As I knew him, he was a giant personality. He obviously had a great love for life, as well as the Church. He served in his capacity as Auxilary Bishop in a good way, recognizing the leadership of Archbishop Pilarczyk, but also serving as a good partner, too. They complimented each other's strengths very well.

On a personal note, I owe him a great deal. It was he who confirmed me as a junior in high school. I can't remember for sure, but I think he admitted me to both minor orders, as well as ordain me to the Diaconate.

His joy was radiant, and will be sorely missed.

Eternal Rest grant unto him, O Lord.
- And let Perpetual Light shine upon him.

May he rest in peace.
- Amen.

May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, rest in peace.
- Amen.



Vigil Service: Friday, August 28, 2009, 6:30 PM
St. Peter in Chains Cathedral

Funeral Mass: Saturday, August 29, 2009, 11:00 AM
St. Peter in Chains Cathedral