Category Archives: Daily Reflection

An Official Call for More Fish Fries

According to this morning’s Enquirer, the City of Cincinnati may soon call on residents to skip one meat meal a week.

Believe it or not, we have an official city Food Task Force — part of (again, believe it or not) our official Green Cincinnati “climate action plan.” Stay with me here. The food task force met for the first time last week, and its members are considering numerous recommendations about eating more fruits and vegetables. They say cutting down on the city’s meat consumption would reduce global warming, and they have great ideas for t-shirt slogans, including my personal favorite: “Cooling the Earth… With My Fork!”

Consider this my pre-order.

Anyway, once I stopped laughing, I realized the great potential this has for Cincinnati’s parishes. We’re all still supposed to abstain from eating meat on Fridays, which may come as news to those of us (perhaps most of us) who never heard that if you choose not to refrain from eating meat on Fridays, you are supposed to perform another small act of penance instead.

This is our opportunity to bring back the Friday fast, make some money for our parishes, AND be environmentally friendly! Far be it from me to tell Archibishop Pilarczyk what to do, but if I may make a suggestion, His Excellency might want to look into a joint press conference with Mayor Mallory. When the official recommendation does come out from the mayor, the Archbishop can suggest that all Catholics resume the Friday fast and all parishes put on perpetual Friday Fish Fries, which he can then invite all Cincinnatians to attend.

It’s a win-win situation for everyone, one that would ease many strained parish budgets. We could even sell t-shirts: “Cooling the Earth… One Fish Fry at a Time.”



In case you’ve noticed, the daily readings up to today for Advent haven’t been what’s expected, most likely.  We tend to expect those intimate examinations of the Holy Family preparing for the birth of Jesus, May and Joseph making the long trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem, Angels singing from the heavens.  Yet, we have heard much more about John the Baptist’s testimony and word about Jesus, and what Jesus says about John the Baptist, than we have heard about Jesus’s birth.  Today’s readings bear that out:

Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you,
tax collectors and prostitutes
are entering the Kingdom of God before you.
When John came to you in the way of righteousness,
you did not believe him;
but tax collectors and prostitutes did.
Yet even when you saw that,
you did not later change your minds and believe him.”

Tomorrow, we start ‘Late Advent’ and will hear more about the proximate preparations for Christmas.


Edit for speeling

Our Amazing Selves

The other day, during yet another hymn to what Fr. Richard Neuhaus calls “Our Amazing Selves,” I had to take a break. I’m not proud of it, but I got up and fled to the little alcove in the vestibule that a statue of our patron saint, Clare of Asissi, shares with some folding chairs (and, formerly, the recycling).

It’s a small but very beautiful alcove, and our statue is large and a very beautiful statue. Narrow stained glass windows gave only a mute blue glow. I looked up at St. Clare and prepared for a little pouting session for My Cranky Self.

“You were a contemplative,” I thought to her. (I believe that the saints possess telepathic powers.) “You repelled a Muslim army with a Host. You spent your whole life praying for everyone. Is this what you had in mind?”

I’m not sure exactly what I meant by “this” — everything, I guess. Everything that frustrates me and gives me high blood pressure about the liturgy, my fellow American Catholics, myself, and the whole sorry world, for that matter. Substitute your own concerns.

Because the answer — and I did get an answer — was “yes.” Clare and the Poor Clares down through the ages have prayed for us, whatever we choose to do out here outside the convent walls. They pray for us because we need it. Like soldiers who fight so that the next generation of kids can be spoiled and can squander their freedom if they want to, they are also in battle.

So, chastised, I went back to my pew. The Poor Clares are praying for us, in Cincinnati and around the world. We all have a battle to fight, and that’s the best place to start.stclare

St. Elizabeth of Hungary

So, did you hear the one about how holiness is only for priests and religious?

Yeah, I haven’t either, and today’s saint proves the point that holiness is open for all.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary was a princess, queen, wife, mother, widower, and saint.  She died in the year 1231 at the tender age of 23, and was declared a saint a scant 4 years later!

How to achieve such a remarkable run?  Easy!  She was married while still a teenager, which was rather common in those days, to a prince of Thuringia, within modern day Germany.  Her husband was assassinated, leaving her the widowed queen with three small children.  However, she did not let that stop her.  She became a Franciscan Tertiary (a lay person associated with the charisms of a particular order, her poverty.)  In iconography, she is always depicted holding loaves of bread as she gave away large stores of food the poor of her day and age, while she kept to a strict schedule of fasting and prayer.

For her life, she was declared patronness of widows and Catholic Charities.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Pray for us!

– Father Schnippel

Two Last Things

“Wow!” my daughter whispered to me after the homily Sunday. “It’s not every day someone actually tells you you might go to Hell!”

No comments about the desirability of this state of affairs, please. The point is that I don’t remember hearing anything about Hell in the homily, beyond a mention of the “four last things” — death, judgment, Heaven, and Hell. Father spoke about death, and told a moving story about what he became convinced was his own father’s deathbed vision of Heaven.

But in the car, and again at home, our daughter repeated the same thing. “It’s not every day someone actually tells you you might go to Hell!”

Several months ago, I heard a CD by Catholic motivational evangelist (for lack of a better term) Matthew Kelley. He suggested starting every mass by praying to hear one vital message in the readings, liturgy, or songs.

I think my daughter heard hers, while I heard mine. At 14, my daughter is steeped in the relativism of our culture. We are careful what she watches, what she listens to, who she hangs around with, and what she does. But you can’t get away from the pervasive cultural message that nothing is really bad, no one is really wrong, and everything just comes down to a choice between many options — all of them valid. At her age, it’s a revelation to be told by a sane and credible person you respect that yes, there really is a Hell, and yes, you really could go there.

I’m older. I fell for relativism — and I’m still in recovery. I know there’s a difference between a bad choice (taking an extra donut in the break room) and doing something bad (taking an extra $20 from petty cash). Doing bad things makes you a bad person, being a bad person has consequences, and human nature means even the best of us do bad things. You have to hear that bad news before you can hear the good news — after all, who needs salvation if there’s nothing to be saved from?

Father said a lot about purgatory and cleansing fire — yes, in Cincinnati! — but what they lead to is Heaven. So while my daughter heard the sobering message that Hell is real, I heard the good news of salvation. Two last things. More than enough for one day, I guess.

Big Slap Coming!

If you have been following along with the Daily Mass readings, get ready, tomorrow’s the day!

This week, we have been hearing from St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians as our First Reading at Mass.  The situation in Galatia was, um…., interesting.  St. Paul visited the area on three of his journeys (all but his trip to Rome, and we know how that ended), and seems to have been one of the first Christian missionaries to visit this area of Asia Minor, present day around Ankara, Turkey.

While he was the first, St. Paul was not the only missionary to traverse the hills and valleys here.  It seems pretty clear that others came after him and started to teach the Galatians that they had to add on to what Paul had given them, for he did not require them to embrace the Mosaic Law code, as these latter missionaries did.  (No bacon-cheeseburgers for them!)

In the intial two chapters of the Letter, we hear Paul’s defense of how he came to know and teach the faith: From Christ and confirmed by the Twelve, even so far as going (in today’s readings) against Peter for hypocrisy.

So, stay tuned for tomorrow, as the hammer gets dropped!

– Fr. Schnippel

“Let us praise God together on our knees…”

Those words (from a familiar church hymn) came to mind today as our family enjoyed every bit of beauty God had to offer today at the Bruckner Nature Center just south of Troy, OH.  I’d like to believe when we’re singing those words, we’re not saving the “praise” just for formalized prayer.  I’ll take it a step further, and offer that the excitement and joy our children found in God’s marvelous creation today, often thanking and praising his works, were certainly a prayer in the most basic form.  Simple appreciation and wonder…and quite often on our knees!  It’s humbling and awesome really to spend time with the kids in a setting such as this…woods, creek beds, plants, animals and insects of every variety.  Gods blessings are indeed abundant.  Have a peaceful week all!  ~Jamie