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 info@cathlink.com

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 http://stmichaelprayerwarriors.wordpress.com 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: www.lighthousecatholicmedia.org

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 www.sacredheartradio.com (They usually replay during the national hour on either Thursday or Friday, too.)