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Friday, January 30, 2015

Bonhoeffer: Who am I? A favorite poem

Who Am I? by Deitrich Bonhoeffer

Who am I? They often tell me
I stepped from my cell’s confinement
Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
Like a Squire from his country house.

Who am I? They often tell me
I used to speak to my warders
Freely and friendly and clearly,
As thought it were mine to command.

Who am I? They also tell me
I bore the days of misfortune
Equably, smilingly, proudly,
like one accustomed to win.

Am I then really that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I myself know of myself?
Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
Struggling for breath, as though hands were compressing my throat,
Yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
Thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,
Tossing in expectations of great events,
Powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
Faint, and ready to say farewell to it all.

Who am I? This or the Other?
Am I one person today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
And before myself a contemptible woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army
Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?

Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am thine!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Where we are.

I just heard on the radio a commercial for a show on the OWN network highlighting the upcoming movie Selma about the historic Selma Alabama marches 50 years ago. One of the gentleman commenting on the importance of the film stated that it was timely for where we are now as a nation.  Hopefully he didn't mean that the times and experiences are similar. Dr King was a civilized man of faith and morals peacefully fighting against racist discrimination of African Americans. What we have now are cop killers and mobs who disregard the rule of law and strike out violently and irrationally. Racial tensions are further manipulated and exacerbated by pundits and politicians. There is no comparison. If the film is timely it is to remind us to worship God as Dr King did and to voice our grievances as civilized law-abiding citizens not in angry mobs.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Mary Ellen Albright

Homily – Funeral for Mary Ellen Albright                 Is 25 / 1 Cor 5 / Jn 14

Obituary available at

On behalf of Fr. Batt, the pastor of Saint Mary’s, and my family, we are grateful to all of you who came to honor my grandmother, Mary Ellen Albright, and to pray with us for her and for each other.


On behalf of our family, I also want to thank the staff of Aultman hospital, the Woodlawn facility and the Compassionate Care Center for taking excellent care of Grandma. 


In a special way, I want to recognize and thank Aunt Jody for being Grandma’s caregiver day and night during her illness. 


More often than not, when I came home for a holiday or summer break and visited Grandma, I was soon headed off to some other city or even another state…back to seminary…back to the parish…


So invariably, the last word Grandma spoke to me each time I left, as I said goodbye and gave her a hug, were “Be careful on the road.”  Maybe you heard her say that too.  She even said it when she was in the hospice center.


Be careful on the road. 

Grandma was worried about me arriving in Columbus or Latrobe or Youngstown or Ashtabula County safely. 

She was worried about her young grandson getting lost or hurt, veering off the road into danger.


Be careful on the road.

We are all on the road: a journey that at times is smooth but often is treacherous, a journey through life to our heavenly homeland, our Father’s house.


Our faith gives us the assurance that we were created by a loving God,

who made us to know, to love and to serve Him,

each according to a unique plan and purpose,

and that we were redeemed by the death and resurrection of Jesus,

so that we can be united with Him forever in happiness in heaven. 


This is our purpose in life: to know, love and serve God so that we can be happy with Him forever in Heaven


Be careful on the road.

On this road of life, our journey to union with God, we need to be on guard so that we can arrive safely.

So many influences from the world around us, the culture, the Evil One himself, draw us away from the Lord. 

The Lord reminds us often in the Scriptures to be on guard, to stay awake, to be vigilant, to arm ourselves with faith and prayer in order to be prepared for the inevitable and unforeseeable day on which He calls us to account for our lives and calls us home to Himself. 


Along the road of life, there are signposts and aids to keep us safe, help us stay on the road and not swerve off into danger and arrive safely home.


The Lord gives us the Bible, His holy Word, to reveal to us His will and keep us rooted in the values and virtues that matter most. 


The Church gives us the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, as outward signs of God’s love and grace at work in us. 


Our daily prayer keeps us centered in God and focused on the goal, the reward of eternal life, lest we fall into the trap of relying on ourselves and following our own designs. 


These guideposts fortify us for the difficult stretches and unexpected turns on the road of life.


The Paschal Candle, which is lit for the celebration of Easter, is lit in honor of an individual Christian only twice in their life: at the beginning of their journey of faith, their Baptism; and at the end of the earthly journey, their funeral.


The light of Christ is entrusted to the baptized person to be kept burning brightly, with the aid of their parents and godparents, from Baptism, through the whole of life, until death. 


Today, we mark the end of that journey in this world for Mary Ellen:

a life lived with a sense of purpose

a life of faith, love and sacrifice

a life in which the light of Christ burned brightly


We assemble today before the altar at which Mary Ellen so often worshipped and was nourished by the Body and Blood of Jesus in the Eucharist.


She had an unshakable belief in God and when she was married she converted to the Catholic faith, the faith in which she raised her children. 


It was an honest, sincere faith, expressed in her commitment to her family and in loving concern for everyone she met. 


Mary and her husband John remained committed to each other in Marriage for over 40 years.  Grandpa died before I was able to know him but, decades later, I still heard her speak fondly of him. 


Together they suffered the loss of a daughter in infancy and raised five sons through the era of the great depression and the Second World War, all the while maintaining her home and the family farm. 


Owning a farm meant daily chores and tough work, through the heat of summer and the cold of winter.


Yet, all throughout the best times and worst times of life’s journey, Mary and John enjoyed life to the fullest together.


They would take off from the farm in their airplane and flew as far as Canada and Oregon. 


They hosted card parties at the farm house and loved to go roller skating together.

Boy, I wish I could have seen grandma roller skating!


In their commitment to each other, they show us what true love is all about.  They kept each other safe on the road. 


Mary also enjoyed bowling with Aunt Irene, swimming, and of course there was Bingo. 


She was blessed with many good friends…Joanie, Lois and so many others…


In her later years, when was less active, she talked about how happy she was to spend time with Aunt Ruthie in Canton or go out to eat with “the cousins.”


I don’t know who “the cousins” are exactly, because she never called them by name, just “the cousins.”  But you know who you are.  She always looked forward to those times together.


Grandma always sent card for everyone’s birthday, anniversary, Christmas and other important days.  She always remembered every one of us. 


She was a woman of unparalleled kindness with an incredible memory for details…names, dates, birthdays, memories of times shared with people she loved...even who dealt which card in which hand in a game forty years ago!!!


She believed in working hard every day and I admire that strong work ethic very much. 


I remember a phrase she said often that makes a lot of sense to me: “God helps those who help themselves.” 


What a life she lived! 

What long, beautiful and, until the very end, healthy 94 years!


Mary Albright lived a full and generous life, grounded in the Lord, rising every day and doing what needed to be done.

Life was to her a blessing and a duty.

With her hand to the plow, she did not look back but made each moment the best it could be.


Today, as we remember her life, we lay her body in the earth and entrust her soul to God’s loving embrace, praying that the angels escort her to our Father’s house, where there is no more suffering or pain. 


In the readings from Scripture today, we hear the consolation of God’s Holy Word.


Isaiah speaks of the mountain of the Lord, where God will destroy death forever, wipe away all tears and feed all peoples with a rich and delightful bounty. 


For the Jewish people in ancient times, the mountain meant Mount Zion and the city of Jerusalem.

We who believe in Jesus Christ long to see the new and eternal Jerusalem, the splendor of God’s dwelling place in Heaven.


There, He will surely wipe away our tears and we will echo the words of Isaiah:

          Indeed this is our God to whom we looked!

Let us rejoice and be glad that He saved us!


Imagine Mary…Mom…Grandma…on the mountain of the Lord singing His praise! 

Rejoice, for God has saved us! 


There is no more suffering or pain,

only the happiness of being in total union with God,

in her eternal home

in her room in our loving Father’s house.


This is her reward.  It is our destiny.  We are eager to leave behind this temporary dwelling and enter the eternal dwelling prepared for us. 


Once again, the road up that mountain is not easy.

We need to be careful on the road of life, making use of the gifts God provides for us and remaining grounded in our relationship with Him.


Jesus says to us in the Gospel: I am the way, the truth and the life!


When the road is rough, Jesus is the way!

When we possess His truth, we discover life in its fullness. 


As Saint Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthians,

In the days and weeks ahead, turn to others

and offer them the consolation we ourselves have received from God’s Word.


Support each other

Share stories

Take lessons from Mary, and live the values that made her 94 years a shining example for us – faith, commitment, love…


Recognizing that our own mortality is inescapable, prepare well for your own passing from this world. 

Know, love, and serve God more each day.

Put the other people in your life and their needs before your own.

And remember…be careful on the road…so that we may rejoice together with Mary in our eternal home. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Advent: A New Beginning

As the Church embarks on a new liturgical year, how much time and attention does God occupy in your life? We can all say: not enough. Take the Lord's hand and follow Him into a time in intense spiritual growth in this special season of grace. Pray more every day. Read the Bible and Catechism. If you need help with prayer and study seek out a priest or deacon to guide you. If youre doing that then deepend and lengthen your mental prayer, your silent time with God. Attend Mass as often as you can and confession monthly. We can't live without God. Soak up His grace constantly. Blessed Advent to all!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Father's Homemade Cherry Pie

Came out very well. Dad's favorite made special for his 70th birthday today.

Happy Thanksgiving from Max

Happy Thanksgiving!

Best doggies ever...the Basset!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Feast of Christ the King: to Him be all the Glory!

Young man target of FSU shooting praises God for miracle that saved his life Thursday.

Christ is King!

Friday, November 14, 2014

How many more are there?

Sexual abuse of children is horrific and is to be condemned. Yet the media frenzy and "sue first ask for the facts later" mentality allows for injustice towards priests. This dedicated priest's suffering breaks my heart. Ten years in exile because of a lie. We pray for truth to prevail in all such cases for the sake of victims and we pray for justice for all.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Evening Prayer

Young priests praying with our phones. Ibreviary app. :)

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Associated Press exposing breakdown in Catholic unity

People look the Church for truth. Doctrine is not made from a committee or from the grassroots level. Its not made bishops either really. Its revealed by God in Scripture and Tradition. Bishops exist to teach the truth which comes from God. To be true to God's call in their hearts they need to say what they believe and speak the truth even when its unpopular. Its their job. Our US bishops have been doing their job better and better in recent years. Thank God! The world and the Church need prophetic voices. Even if a given pope wants to emphasize one point of doctrine over another in a given era, the bishops and their priests still have to do their jobs and teach the whole truth. Even a pope cannot change God's reality. Welcoming is good. Loving is better than judging. But woe to anyone who allows the little ones to be led astray from Gods narrow way to the kingdom by confusing statements. In Gods truth alone do we find authentic unity. Proclaim the truth with love. Thats how we become fully Catholic. The world needs us to be who we are. Deep down the human heart yearns for the truth. If its true that we are sailing "rudderless" through a "mess" (the modern culture is messy!) then we need our bishops to teach clearly all the more on the issues of our time - marriage human life contraception cohabitation human trafficking freedom of religion terrorism - and their earthly and eternal consequences.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The real synod message

Pope Francis' Address to the Synod Fathers

* * *Dear Eminences, Beatitudes, Excellencies, Brothers and Sisters,With a heart full of appreciation and gratitude I want to thank, along with you, the Lord who has accompanied and guided us in the past days, with the light of the Holy Spirit.From the heart I thank Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod, Bishop Fabio Fabene, under-secretary, and with them I thank the Relators, Cardinal Peter Erdo, who has worked so much in these days of family mourning, and the Special Secretary Bishop Bruno Forte, the three President delegates, the transcribers, the consultors, the translators and the unknown workers, all those who have worked with true fidelity and total dedication behind the scenes and without rest. Thank you so much from the heart.I thank all of you as well, dear Synod fathers, Fraternal Delegates, Auditors, and Assessors, for your active and fruitful participation. I will keep you in prayer asking the Lord to reward you with the abundance of His gifts of grace!I can happily say that with a spirit of collegiality and of synodality we have truly lived the experience of Synod, a path of solidarity, a journey together.And it has been a journey and like every journey there were moments of running fast, as if wanting to conquer time and reach the goal as soon as possible; other moments of fatigue, as if wanting to say enough; other moments of enthusiasm and ardour. There were moments of profound consolation listening to the testimony of true pastors, who wisely carry in their hearts the joys and the tears of their faithful people. Moments of consolation and grace and comfort hearing the testimonies of the families who have participated in the Synod and have shared with us the beauty and the joy of their married life. A journey where the stronger feel compelled to help the less strong, where the more experienced are led to serve others, even through confrontations. And since it is a journey of human beings, with the consolations there were also moments of desolation, of tensions and temptations, of which a few possibilities could be mentioned: - One, a temptation to hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises, (the spirit); within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve. From the time of Christ, it is the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and of the so-called today traditionalists and also of the intellectuals. - The temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness [it. buonismo], that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the do-gooders, of the fearful, and also of the so-called progressives and liberals. - The temptation to transform stones into bread to break the long, heavy, and painful fast (cf. Lk 4:1-4); and also to transform the bread into a stone and cast it against the sinners, the weak, and the sick (cf Jn 8:7), that is, to transform it into unbearable burdens (Lk 11:46). - The temptation to come down off the Cross, to please the people, and not stay there, in order to fulfil the will of the Father; to bow down to a worldly spirit instead of purifying it and bending it to the Spirit of God. - The temptation to neglect the depositum fidei [the deposit of faith], not thinking of themselves as guardians but as owners or masters [of it]; or, on the other hand, the temptation to neglect reality, making use of meticulous language and a language of smoothing to say so many things and to say nothing! They call them byzantinisms, I think, these thingsDear brothers and sisters, the temptations must not frighten or disconcert us, or even discourage us, because no disciple is greater than his master; so if Jesus Himself was tempted and even called Beelzebul (cf. Mt 12:24) His disciples should not expect better treatment.Personally I would be very worried and saddened if it were not for these temptations and these animated discussions; this movement of the spirits, as St Ignatius called it (Spiritual Exercises, 6), if all were in a state of agreement, or silent in a false and quietist peace. Instead, I have seen and I have heard with joy and appreciation speeches and interventions full of faith, of pastoral and doctrinal zeal, of wisdom, of frankness and of courage: and of parresia. And I have felt that what was set before our eyes was the good of the Church, of families, and the supreme law, the good of souls (cf. Can. 1752). And this always we have said it here, in the Hall without ever putting into question the fundamental truths of the Sacrament of marriage: the indissolubility, the unity, the faithfulness, the fruitfulness, that openness to life (cf. Cann. 1055, 1056; and Gaudium et spes, 48).And this is the Church, the vineyard of the Lord, the fertile Mother and the caring Teacher, who is not afraid to roll up her sleeves to pour oil and wine on peoples wound; who doesnt see humanity as a house of glass to judge or categorize people. This is the Church, One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and composed of sinners, needful of Gods mercy. This is the Church, the true bride of Christ, who seeks to be faithful to her spouse and to her doctrine. It is the Church that is not afraid to eat and drink with prostitutes and publicans. The Church that has the doors wide open to receive the needy, the penitent, and not only the just or those who believe they are perfect! The Church that is not ashamed of the fallen brother and pretends not to see him, but on the contrary feels involved and almost obliged to lift him up and to encourage him to take up the journey again and accompany him toward a definitive encounter with her Spouse, in the heavenly Jerusalem.The is the Church, our Mother! And when the Church, in the variety of her charisms, expresses herself in communion, she cannot err: it is the beauty and the strength of the sensus fidei, of that supernatural sense of the faith which is bestowed by the Holy Spirit so that, together, we can all enter into the heart of the Gospel and learn to follow Jesus in our life. And this should never be seen as a source of confusion and discord.Many commentators, or people who talk, have imagined that they see a disputatious Church where one part is against the other, doubting even the Holy Spirit, the true promoter and guarantor of the unity and harmony of the Church the Holy Spirit who throughout history has always guided the barque, through her Ministers, even when the sea was rough and choppy, and the ministers unfaithful and sinners.And, as I have dared to tell you , [as] I told you from the beginning of the Synod, it was necessary to live through all this with tranquillity, and with interior peace, so that the Synod would take place cum Petro and sub Petro (with Peter and under Peter), and the presence of the Pope is the guarantee of it all.We will speak a little bit about the Pope, now, in relation to the Bishops [laughing]. So, the duty of the Pope is that of guaranteeing the unity of the Church; it is that of reminding the faithful of  their duty to faithfully follow the Gospel of Christ; it is that of reminding the pastors that their first duty is to nourish the flock to nourish the flock that the Lord has entrusted to them, and to seek to welcome with fatherly care and mercy, and without false fears the lost sheep. I made a mistake here. I said welcome: [rather] to go out and find them.His duty is to remind everyone that authority in the Church is a service, as Pope Benedict XVI clearly explained, with words I cite verbatim: The Church is called and commits herself to exercise this kind of authority which is service and exercises it not in her own name, but in the name of Jesus Christ through the Pastors of the Church, in fact: it is he who guides, protects and corrects them, because he loves them deeply. But the Lord Jesus, the supreme Shepherd of our souls, has willed that the Apostolic College, today the Bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter to participate in his mission of taking care of God's People, of educating them in the faith and of guiding, inspiring and sustaining the Christian community, or, as the Council puts it, to see to it... that each member of the faithful shall be led in the Holy Spirit to the full development of his own vocation in accordance with Gospel preaching, and to sincere and active charity and to exercise that liberty with which Christ has set us free (cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis, 6) and it is through us, Pope Benedict continues, that the Lord reaches souls, instructs, guards and guides them. St Augustine, in his Commentary on the Gospel of St John, says: let it therefore be a commitment of love to feed the flock of the Lord (cf. 123, 5); this is the supreme rule of conduct for the ministers of God, an unconditional love, like that of the Good Shepherd, full of joy, given to all, attentive to those close to us and solicitous for those who are distant (cf. St Augustine, Discourse 340, 1; Discourse 46, 15), gentle towards the weakest, the little ones, the simple, the sinners, to manifest the infinite mercy of God with the reassuring words of hope (cf. ibid., Epistle, 95, 1).So, the Church is Christ's, she is His bride and all the bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter, have the task and the duty of guarding her and serving her, not as masters but as servants. The Pope, in this context, is not the supreme lord but rather the supreme servant the servant of the servants of God; the guarantor of the obedience and the conformity of the Church to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ, and to the Tradition of the Church, putting aside every personal whim, despite being by the will of Christ Himself the supreme Pastor and Teacher of all the faithful (Can. 749) and despite enjoying supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church (cf. Cann. 331-334).Dear brothers and sisters, now we still have one year to mature, with true spiritual discernment, the proposed ideas and to find concrete solutions to so many difficulties and innumerable challenges that families must confront; to give answers to the many discouragements that surround and suffocate families.One year to work on the Synodal Relatio which is the faithful and clear summary of everything that has been said and discussed in this hall and in the small groups. It is presented to the Episcopal Conferences as lineamenta [guidelines].May the Lord accompany us, and guide us in this journey for the glory of His Name, with the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of Saint Joseph. And please, do not forget to pray for me! Thank you!

Render unto God all the glory!

We are chosen by Baptism to give glory to God and tell the good news of our Catholic faith to all the nations. When Caesar asks us to render unto him that which does not belong to him we are compelled to say no and to give glory to God by rendering under him ourselves which are marked with his image even under persecution.  We vote but according to our consciences. We pay taxes and obey just laws. However our bodies our sexuality our moral life our decision making all submit to God. God the author of marriage and creator of all life calls us to testify to the truth against popular opinion media bias and government mandate.