Friday, December 31, 2010

Change and Michigan

One thing we can be assured of in Michigan is CHANGE.

Change is as inevitable as the call to morph and be better daily.

Everything must change.

All things.

Physicists tells us that matter and energy are not destroyed but
changed, transformed.

That gives me hope.

Change is a plus, a positive morphing.

Each year, at its finale, burning the past bears fruit:
Burning the resentment of a relationship unforgiven, a boss who doesn't understand or communicate, a self with great expectations, the one who betrayed a relationship, and so forth.

Write down and do the rite of burning.

Then, write a letter to yourself imagining the end of the new year, 2011.

Feel how you will be next December, where, with whom, what work, job, and relationships will be like. Think and write about the end at the beginning.


In Michigan it is inevitable.

Be all you can be.


Heaven in 2011 all along the way!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year Predictions

As Detroit rebuilds and relocates residents into neighborhoods in 2011, the process of outsourcing all the unused land will be purchased by China.

And, grow, Detroit will with China at the helm, while a Middle Eastern country purchases the Detroit Pistons.

Spirituality will be in the news again in the new year, while organized religion is questioned by young adults, among others.

The Islamic community will continue to be the focus of news as terror preoccupies the minds and hearts of Americans.

Media - the lone unchallenged entity and institution - unlike the church, corruption and greed, will remain unscathed once again with turn of the calendar.

Jobs and those without one will continue to occupy the Motor City and metropolitan Detroit.

Weight problems, and stress and strain with diabetes among the young will reign again in new time.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Heartache and Hope

Emergency 9 1 1 is called when one is suffering a heart attack.

Yet, when one is dealing with depression from unhealed grieving at death of a spouse, those standing by wait and watch, even debate with one about getting help.

When Pope John Paul I was ailing in his 30-day pontificate, and later died after refusing medical attention, a Brittish journalist declared that his demise was due to "neglect."

The so-called "smiling Pope" wanting to be treated in Venice, Italy. His staff obliged.

Like cancer that grows in its pathology, other diseases loom large from inattention, even neglect by family who know better.

Even suicide is a process like cancer in its crawling deadliness that finally peaks with one's following through on taking his or her life.

Suicide has always been prached against as an option to life.

Catholics have the least amount of suicides given warnings against it.

That is similar to prevention when it comes to depression, for example.

It must be nipped in the bud, as the saying goes, long before depression does the victim with death.

Perhaps the new year will be a time for families and eye witnesses to be attentive and take action when life and death issues are prone to be left to one's demise without the crucial care and decisiveness demanded.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

State Representative Inspires

Anthony Forlini is my new State Representative for the district of St. Clair Shores and Harrison Township, Michigan.

Wednesday, a crowd of family and friends gathered at the Capitol Building to witness him taking the oath of Office before Judge Viviano of Mt. Clemens' Circuit Court.

Others there made promises also, including his parents of fifty years of matrimony, who renewed their marital vows. Tony and his wife, Diane, with their three children nearby, renewed their twenty-five-year marriage commitment.

Diane was delighted with a silver necklace and crucifix she received from her husband as a gift. Her joy was obvious.

Pledges and promises.

We hear them all the time. We make them and break them.

One young adult there at the State Capitol building told me and show me the promise ring to be abstinent until he is married. That was refreshing along with the fresh vigor to live out the promise of married love.

While pledges and promises were abundant, somehow, I sensed a seriousness about keeping these vows fresh and alive.

That sense made the trek to Lansing worth it.

In a world of broken promises, this crowd stood up for cherished values and virtues.

That's good news.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fear Knocked, Faith Answered

Fear knocked at the door.

Faith answered.

No one was there.

Nothing paralyzed me or made me immobile.

Faith is like that.

I wonder how people get through without it.

Of course, fear has heightened in this nation since 9/11.

So much is lost when fear wraps one's life. Adventure goes.
Confidence flees.

Fear is useless, what's needed is trust, the master Jesus the Christ said in the
Sacred Scriptures.

Yet, people are afraid to trust, especially after being betrayed, or hurt.

Early on in life, a pastor helped me realize that fear is not helpful. We should fear
walking into traffic, jumping of a mountain, and, the like. However, the fear
that traps one and does ones thinking and deciding needs to go.

In 1989, when a gorup of us were in El Salvador, our translator remined us not to let
our fears do our thinking.

That was a life lesson.

Nothing would have progressed there is fear became an obstacle that thought for us.

Fear knocked.

Faith answered.

No one was at the door, thank God, and my willingness to let fear go.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

War on Culture of Corruption

We hope the culture of corruption is over.


Are we all not to blame?

The rank and file employee, aides, secretaries, office workers, neighbors, acquaintances knew the Kilpatrick criminal enterprise was operating.

At least, individuals knew something.

And, that could have been enough to stop the corruption.

There were voluminous rumors about "shady" activity. Yet, silence and consent ruled.

No one stood up to speak up against the corruption culture.

Until six years of investigation.

Give me a break.

A youngster starts stealing early on, for example. He or she takes candy. A parent, a teacher, a friend hears, or senses something bad is going on with Judy or Joey.

Everyone failed. All of us. We're all to be blamed for letting this spiral roll into the fiasco it is.

This could have been nipped in the bod at the start.

We knew. Rumors were flying about the Mayor as early as his days as a State Representative.

There is something terrribly wrong with our people, our police, our judicial system, our moral and ethical way of life, our homes, parents, families, neighbors, co-workers, and . . .

Shame on us all.

We hope the culture of corruption is over.

That's a weak refrain. It rings of less than muscle to stop the sin, the stealing, the "getting away with murder," the hens being slaughtered in the barn by the wolves.

This amounts to basics:

It is about time each of us take responsibility.

After all, the great book remins us that we are our sister and brother's keeper.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Climate and Advent

Roots and relationships have a lot to do with rites or rituals.

During Advent, a time of anticipation and waiting to observe the birth of Jesus the Christ, we walked our way along Van Dyke Avenue on Detroit's east side south to our parish church of St. Thomas the Apostle.

That became a rite of origin.

Rite, rituals are like habits, good practices, strengths, virtues.

Rites become ways of doing things and marking special seasons.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico, began with the season of Advent this year.

Climate change is happening.

It is far from Advent waiting, watching.

Greenhouse gas emissions need reducing.

Catholic Relief Services in Guatemala, for example, are helping with agriculture and its adapting to unpredictable weather. Farmers diversify crop planting and soil practices and production, in turn.

Interfaith Power and Light unite in a Carbon Covenant. It fosters rapport with congregations in the Global North and South to mitigate global warming's influence and deforestation.

Religion does a world of good in union with faith traditions.

Harnessing the power of faith with challenges of climate change is something we do not wait for.

Conversion of heart calls for change not. Climate change included.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Retreat

What's a retreat?

What's in it for you?

When one mentions Abbey of Gethsemane Retreat House (, 1-502 549 4133,) in Trappist Kentucky, for example, one may wonder what happens there.

In the Catholic tradition, not to mention Eastern practices of silence, monks pray and work as they reside in a monastic milieu apart "to entertain silence in the heart and listen for the voice of God -- to pray for your own discovery," Trappist monk, Thomas Merton wrote.

Although the index does not list the word, retreat, it is a cherished and savored time for retreatants, a term use for those "on retreat," as it were for a few days, a week, even a month or year.

Communing with the Creator requires a measure of solitude, a stillness and an emptiness, a waiting on and attending to the Spirit. Silence fosters and preserves the climate of prayer and is a fundamental part of the retreat experience.

Gethsemane, Kentucky is a favorite place of mine for my annual winter retreat choice.

Those persons on retreat maintain a limit to talking only in designated areas.

The abbey's many acres of woodlands and fields afford extensive space for reflection and prayer.

Guests assist the monks at Mass - Liturgy of the Word and Eucharist - and hours of prayer from 3:15 am vigils, to 5:45 am lauds, 7:30 am terce, 12:15 pm sext, 2:15 none, 5:30 vespers, and 7:30 pm compline.

About four hours from Detroit, MI., by automobile, the drive is refreshing and renewing, readying me for my time there.

Today, when retreat houses struggle at times to register applicants for a retreat period, I find that casinos are more attractive, yet less recreating and significant for humans who need time alone with the Maker.

Offerings for the retreat expenses are on a free will basis according to means.

Stress rates are lessened and better hearts are benefits of a retreat, among others.

Furthermore, people who pray, heal up faster according to medical researchers.

What's in it for me?

A fresh spirit and renewed disposition to live life fully one day at a time.

My blog will return when I conclude my retreat next Friday.

My readers will be in pray as I unite you in thought these days.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Why Did Pope Sit For Hours in Interview?

Humility and heartache drove Pope Benedict XVI to be interviewed in a new tome that tracks his leadership in the Catholic Church, it seems to me.

What was the man to do?

Managing public relations was the sure aim of the book that details responses from the Pope on everything from the sex abuse cover-up, condoms, what he watches on TV, and should he resign, among other topics treated.

A German journalist and author of other texts on the Church interviewed Benedict last July.

Did he admit mistakes?


That's hard to do for leaders in high places. Yet, he was pressed to speak up if the Church asunder is to heal from this unhealed wound of sex abuse by clergy.

Not that they are the only ones staining the Church with filth to use the Pope's description, but clergy are held to a higher standard, after all.

Nevertheless, sex is out of control, and unreported and undetected abuse by parents of their children is skyrocketing. Not to say anything of the rage and anger put upon youngsters and their fragile bodies and minds to forever remember.

The fixation on condoms got the most ink in the media once more.

The Pope did say that perhaps it was more responsible of prostitutes to use condoms when engaging in sex with multiple partners. Limiting infection is key. However, in the larger context, sex is to be reserved for marriage, not flings that diminish its sanctity and dignity.

Of course, this mess isn't solved yet of abuse in the Church.

This step, in this book, is a link of many more to follow as the Church heals up victims and itself from this horror that must stop.

How it will stop is anyone's call?

Why Did Pope Sit For Hours in Interview?

Monday, December 6, 2010

10 Guides for Disagreement Resolution Among Relations, Others

1) Above all, love rules in all things. When in doubt about the loving and charitable choice decide generously, graciously, favorably.
2) A sense of peace and serenity pervades the choice made.
3) Humility, as if it isn't my choice but God's, grounds the decision worked out.
4) A "take it or leave it" attitude leaves room for God's lead, God's parade, after all is said and done.
5)Let loom large the heart and mind of the Maker as told in tradition, Scripture, the Church, revered mystics, saints, and teachers, and prayer for sure.
6) Keep the common good in mind, and the heart of the Creator and wise women and men, elders, presbyters, popes, martyrs and trusted colleagues, confidants, confessors, counselors.
7) Make two columns listing the positive and negatives of choices. A third column notes the common good.
8) Talk it through when a tentative choice is preferred.
9) When a decision is reached with input from various sources as listed above, don't look back.
10) Give thanks and praise to God. Choice will seem like Someone's else decided for you.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Over the years I've noticed people telling of how disappointed they are during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays when the entire family is unable to gather together in one place to celebrate the seasons.

Sounds like the picture-perfect postcard of mom, dad, and the children all there in one color photo. Just perfect. The way is should be, right?

Ideally, yes.

Really, no!

With merged families and in-laws, how can everyone get together on one day, altogether in one place?

There are 364 others days to gather the family. Thanksgiving and Christmas is only one day.

We tend to make the holidays idols that rule us if things don't work out perfectly.

People end up mad, hurt and more with this "perfect" thinking of the way life should be, or else.

One family told me they make use of the entire Thanksgiving Day weekend and days of the next week to have a progressive meeting each night at another family member's home.

Sound like a plan.

It also is more real.

It is less likely to create conflict with a plan like that.

Happy holidays!

And, peace on earth.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Two Thirds of Americans Note Religion Is Losing Influence

This is not a good thing, is it?

Faith matter as roots and relations do, no?

Founding fathers found faith to matter in writing our founding documents in 1776.

What is happening to America?

Religion is losing it influence on the American lifestyle.

Deeper within humans, however, is the spiritual thrist and longing for happiness. Hence, proof itself that without God life is meaningless.

Organized religion is different that spirituality.

Pew research, for example, shows that 52 % of those polled noted that churches should refrain from taking stands on political issues, while 43 % said they should express their views on such matters.

61 % of those polled noted that members of Congress should have strong religious beliefs, while 34 % disagreed.

43 % noted that the Republican Party was supportive of religion, while 25 % noted the Democratic Party was supportive of religion.

Something to ponder.

A survey on the spiritual life of Americans may show another profile of believers.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Islam Now Catholicism's Key Interfaith Relationship

57 were dead and more than 60 wounded in a Syrian Catholic Church in Baghdad during Sunday Mass.

According to a National Catholic Reporter newspaper writer, John L. Allen, Jr., a radical Islamist Web site noted that Our Lady of Salvation Church was targeted as a "dirty den of idolatry."

"All the churches and Christian organizations and their leaders are a legitimate target for the mujahedeen," the site said.

What is the state of Catholic/Muslim relations now?

There's been a shift, for sure, from Judaism to Islam, as the focus of dialog now.

What is driving that shift includes 2.3 billion Christians in the world and 1.6 billion Muslims, along with 9/11, Pope Benedict XVI's 2006 speech linking violence and Muhammad, it seemed, and demographic changes in Catholicity from the West to the Southern Hemisphere with a new generation of leaders from Africa, Asia and Latin American, for whom relations with Islam are a priority.

Consequently, common ground issues should be addressed on the right to life, people in financial and family crisis, poverty, and religion's place in the public square, to mention a few.

We see the urgency for the need for dialog with Islam from the Catholics murdered at Mass all the way to metropolitan Detroit, MI.

Imams and advocates of Islam want to live in peace like the rest of us.

We all can rise together and work toward a tranquil world.

The people who witnessed the murdered Catholics at Masss will tell us how this needs to be a priority.

The All Faiths Festival (AFF) founded in 2008 aims to do just that - to build bridges among people of all faith traditions, and, to join hearts, hands and minds on common problems that we can solve together.

It is time for all people of faith to stand in solidarity to work for peace.

An interfaith dinner, Sunday, Dec. 12th in Hope Lutheran Church, 32400 Hoover, in Warren, MI., at 4 pm will bring together the children of Abraham, including Lutheran Iraqii Pastor Hanna Sullaka, and, myself, hosting the dialog at this free dinner.

Please join us and make reservations at, 313 719 5522, or call me at 586 777 9116.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Gray Tsunami

Babyboomers are aging and graying at alarming rates these days.

Caregiving of them is necessary.

Five years is the average number of years caregivers spend caring for an ill spouse, parent, child, sibling or friend.

That's according to, Passages in Caregiving: Turning Chaos Into Confidence by Gail Sheehy.

She should know.

She spent 17 years as a caregiver for her husband who was afflicted with cancer that led to his death.

Her latest tome is a handbook that has an exercise program I plan to use with seniors as a pastor and fitness instructor.

There's also a list of things to do when someone I love enters the final phase of living.

This memoir of her marriage shows how she continued to live well after her husband's death.

The labyrinth is the metaphor Sheehy uses for eight stages or "turnings" caregivers confront from the diagnosis to death of a loved one.

AARP indicates that 65 million Americans are caring for someone who is ill or living with a long-term disability.

Roots and relationships run deep for families who care for one another.

Sheehy has done a world of good with her latest guidebook for caregiving.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Latex Solutions and the Pope

List the litany of problems:

Young girls reaching puberty earlier these days.

Sexually-active teens.

AIDS in Africa, let alone here at home, or, in my own hometown of metropolitan Detroit, MI.

Family planning.

Population control.

Solutions seem to start with latex.

Not within the context of human sexuality in what is called the natural law.

So, one gets fixated on the condom as the solution to the AIDS epidemic on the other continent, by the Pope's own admission in his comments to the German author, Peter Seewald, in a conversation where Benedict XVI spends over six hours in interviews in a very human discussion last July.

His thought is now in a book, I bet few will read, and, many will comment on. Go figure this lazy culture and ready to defend its selfish ways.

All of the dialog is written in, Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Time (Ignatius Press), 219 pages.

Everywhere is heard the glory of the rubber these days.

And, woe to you who challenges simple solutions and rubber!

"Banalization of sexuality" is how Benedict describes our culture.

Forget self-restraint in the post sexual revolution era.

Forget the whole context of sacred sexuality to be celebrated in marriage, not as random commodity where sex sells in Thailand and Cambodia, for example, on the backs of trafficking of youngsters as sex objects and toys for gratification.

Forget the common good.

And, yes, forget latex for awhile.

Bring on the open debate about the dignity of the human person.

Bring it on beyond sound bites and fixations of the time that only cheapen the dignity of the human person and the sacredness of sexuality.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Freedom, Equality and Justice, Truth

These virtues or strengths are sound values for us all.

As Americans who relish Thanksgiving Day, (although, turkeys may not) such core foundations keep us working at the arduous chore to be truthful, just, fair, for equality among all, and free to speak up in a democracy.

We know that corruption, greed and taking a bigger piece of the global pie than I need, gets in the way of these virtues we cherish.

Ideals are always tough to accomplish each day.

Yet, Americans and pilgrims forged this place to be what it is and can be, with struggle.

And, displacing others from this land, a piece of our story we choose to overlook, also reminds us that all is not right, and, all are not free today.

In the ambiguity out of which nations are born, however, we all can savor the fragile freedom, equality, justice and truth we have inherited. We can pass it on one person at a time, one point and act of light and kindess at a time, one truth told each time I open my mouth.

God can help us if we ask.

After all, God was among the Founders of this Nation back in 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was signed.

We are young enough to keep on keeping on for justice and liberty for all.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Rebounding Is Like the Spiritual Life

While cycling at the gym Saturday, I turned the front page of the local paper to find the heading, Spiritual Life.

Facebook's dangers were addressed as harmful.

Another piece told of how God looks out for drunks and fools.

How refresing it was to find stories about faith once more after The Detroit News seemed to abandon columns about religion long ago.

Another page noted General Motors rebounding.

That too was consoling.

Like the spiritual life, I thought, newspapers reflect life. They have the roller-coaster-like ride reflected in papers, like we all do in our daily living.

People thirst for spirituality.

They always have.

Good news about faith influences our culture.

It is so good that The News pours inks once more on the spiritual life.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Roots, Relationships & Dogs

My Bichon Frises - two pups - teach me much each day.

They want attention.

They need to play.

They want affection and a pat of approval.

Woof and Wolf enjoy frisbe playing in the garage where they can roam and run.

Dogs make us pause to lighten up some.

They have compassion, studies show.

They're both there when I get home.

Again, they want to play.

And, run.

Dogs - they teach me much.

Most of all, they get me to stop and recreate a while running, walking, throwing, and, more, with them.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Turkeys won't want to wake up next Thursday.

They may have watched fellow Turkeys chased down and roasted for the Thanksgiving Day dinner. Such a fate no one wants.

This national holiday may be troubling this year with a depressed economy and home foreclosures for many in the metropolitan area.

Everyone I see these days seems to be looking for work. Or, at least for hope.

Hope is that evergreen strength that sees us through most anything.

Hope springs eternal.

Thank God for people who have been through tough times, and, made it, somehow or another.

You may know those who inspired us despite hard times.

I imagine my own parents who came to Detroit while they were teens to set off to work, send some cash back and help with the sibling back on their farms in Port Austin, MI., and Cheboygan.

How they raised nine of us with two sets of twins gives me pause to be grateful.

Both worked full-time jobs in addition to raising us and getting jobs done at home also.

They inspire hope.

I'm grateful for them, and the likes.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Faith, Roots and Relationships

Faith is a very powerful inner resource.

It is.

In counseling, I find that people who have a belief system, tend to heal up faster with their treatment plan. They connect not only with God, but, with others, a support system, and more.

While some don't want much to do with any organized religion, I find that all human are spiritual and long for Someone beyond themselves.

There's a yearning deep within us that pulls us outside of self and toward a Power greater than self.

This comes through quite readily when one is in a jam. He or she calls out to the Almighty for help.

Personnel embattled do this all the time while bullets blast away nearby.

Parents, at wits end, cry for assitance using Psalms of the Bible:

O Lord, I come to your assistance. Lord, make haster to help me.


A little or a lot.

It has a lot of influence.

Believe me.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mary, Madonna


It is a common name.

In fact, Mary is mentioned more times in the Muslum scriptures than their prophet.

Mary is revered and respected for her role in teaching us to move beyond fear.

The plan to be the mother of God is trusted, even though this teen does not understand what is being asked of her.

Mary knows who she is, as young as she is, as talked about as she was, I'm sure, not knowing man to impregnate her with life.

Mary knows her power from Beyond!

It is hers to hold and acclaim in the Magnificat of Luke's Gospel.

She knows her Center.

She embraces her boundaries and the gift possessing her.

Her dignity is.

She does not earn it, like we get caught up in winning, gaining, having, getting more.

No, Mary, IS.

Being is bigger, brighter than the need to have and hold.

To be.

A human being.

Not a human having.

Holy Days

The great holy days of all the Children of Abraham, the Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions celebrate common themes of hope and preparation, peace and serenity, even amid tough and troubling times today.

The Jewish high holy days of forgiveness and fasting, and, similarly, days of Ramadhan for the Muslims cleansing and healing, are common threads like the Advent preparation of the God-become-man and woman in Jesus the Christ observed at Christmas, December 25th.

Before that however is the four-week period of intense preparation, hoping, and waiting for the wonders of God in Christ, one like humans in all things but sin, missing the mark, the ideal to be charitable, loving and embracing the Creator.

All of the prophets, including Isaiah hold high hope.

Isaiah tells of when the lion and lamb will lay down together without harm done one to another.

That is, peace will abound.

Flowers will bloom in the parched desert also. That is unexpected, mysterious, yet a reality.

Like the song, O Little Town of Bethlehem, that we sing during these holy holidays, we become too small to imagine and magnify the greatness of God who made us:

"You Bethlehem-Ephrathad, too small to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule my people Israel." - Micah 5:1-2

The wholeness, oneness of God, like the single global pie the Creator made, becomes apparent as each part learnes to love every other part.

If I recognize in my tiny soul the grace, favor and blessing of God upon me, I will be able, in turn to vividly view the same Presence in the body of Jesus and the body of the universe I occupy.

"But who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" Elizabeth says to Mary in a visit to her home when both are pregnant, each is full of life within. The hidden wholeness within the womb prepares me for teh bigger visitation, the revelation of the Son of God in Christ.

Yet, I must not forget that I am an experience in the huge heart of God. When I trust this holy mystery in my own self-centeredness, I share in this Presence that is overwhelming and surprising as a gift of God.

Christians ready now to prepare to make festival in what is called Advent, the coming of Christ upon the earth, the anniversary of his birth in human form, divinely shaped by God.

God enfleshes what is called the Incarnation, in Latin, God taking on human flesh.

When I trust, like Elizabeth did, the visit of Mary with child in womb, and, every other visit, life leaps within for joy!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Tuesday's Elections: What Do We Want?

It seems to never fail.

Elections. Wars. Parties. And, the Tea Party ignition!

What is it that we want?

Some want to take our government back. Well and good, of course.

That's what democracies are made of to be sure.

Surveys proved that while we went to war with Vietnam, at first, Americans were 100 per cent behind the decision. Similarly with Iraq and other battles. Months and years later, however, less than fifty per cent supported such conflicts. Americans protested and wanted out.

Remember Vietnam?

Yes, the people have spoken Tuesday at the voting polls.

After milllions and months, even years later, perhaps billions of campaign monies and precious time spent on vitriolic and demonizing advertizing, once more, TV is taken back by the viewers.

Negative ads bore and are unpersuasive.

Those running positive and personality-free ads won! Did you notice?

Just what do we Americans want?

We are frustrated with the spiking joblessness and foreclosures, let alone the stress, even anger and rage felt everywhere in the land.

We are impatient also.

What we want we want it now, or else!

Are we lacking virtue or strength to see us through?

Is the founding fathers mantra moving out of our thoughts and hearts?

Is their faith-based belief bottoming out for something, someone else's guidance and directon?

God help us when the Maker has been trumped by the likes of human, you and me!

After all, our own "best" thinking got us in this mess.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Catholics Hanging Out in GPII

A crypt near St. Peter's Square in Rome got a facelift recently.

Once carrying tombs of cardinals, now, it now also moves to the vibe of young adult Catholics having a glass of wine, or meeting others after work.

GPII, an abbreviation for Giovanni Paolo II, is the name of the club after the late Pope John Paul II.

Rev. Maurizio Mirilli, who heads youth ministry in Rome's Catholic Church morphed the place into a watering hole as a way of attracting back young adults to the church they're leaving.

Not only a club, but a confessional is coming and a counseling center also.

With Pope Benedict's blessing, one regular said "it's about time they woke up."

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Leaner, Meaner Government

Votes are cast.

People want less government.

They seem to want leaner and meaner leadership that shrinks the run-away government.

With deficit spending at many corporate levels, including churches, slimming staffs may be the response voter's called for Tuesday at the polls.

More control at the top is not what people seem to want, polls show.

People can manage much of what government and other corporate and ecclesiastic entitites have grown into over time when the economy was booming.

Time will tell if the people get what they want.

They refuse to take it anymore sitting down, however.

They will no longer simply pay, pray and obey, it seems, for sure.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Condemnation of Those Who Murdered 58 at Mass in Bagdad Insufficient

A Troy, Michigan pastor is strongly disappointed in the massacre of 58 worshippers at Mass Sunday in Our Lady of Deliverance Catholic Church Sunday.

The slaughter follows a two-week synod in Rome that addressed the dwindling number of Christians chased out Iraq and other parts of the Middle East.

"A community is measured by its treatment of its minorities, and, protecting them from hardship and suffering," said Monsignor Zouhair Toma of St. Joseph Catholic Church.

Toma blasted Imams who "fail to tell their people to stop the killing."

Farmington Hills resident Jack Seman, a native of Iraq also spoke up and pressed "for peace and truth to end the corruption."

Along with about 40 others, Seman participated in an interfaith dinner and dialog Monday night in the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights. The event remembered those slain in Sunday's carnage, when witnesses reported that gunmen attacked a nearby bank and stock exchange before they invaded the church, leaving two priests and six terrrorists among the dead.

Lutheran Pastor Hanna Sullaka, another speaker at the All Faiths Festival (AFF) event, host with the mosque, yelled:

"I am ashamed to be from Iraq where they keep killing each other."

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said the slaughter was an attempt to drive Christians out of Iraq, while Pope Benedict XVI denounced the attact as "ferocious." The pope also called for fresh efforts to negotiate peace in the region.

"When governments fail to protect the weakest of the weak," what kind of community is that?" Toma asked.

"Muslims say nothing," Toma persisted, urging leaders "to give words of hope, acceptance, forgiveness and encouragement to Christians, like Pope Benedict and pastors who hold "deepest respect for human life."

Friday, October 29, 2010

Burial Law for Aborted Babies

Aborted babies deserve an appropriate burial like the rest of us.

17 babies disposed in a dumpster near a Lansgin abortion mill is no way to treat anyone.

A law is needed to respect life in the womb and outside it.

Michiganians deserve better when it comes to respect for humans at every age of development in and out of the womb.

Treating babies like garbage only brings us down the slippery slope of treating all of life poorly.

Shame on us.

When a mother's baby dies in an automobile accident, you never hear of someone saying her fetus was killed. No, reporters writer that her baby was killed.

Waking up to life and respect for all of life is raise the quality of life for all.

All Hallows Eve, All Saints Day

They offer us a chance to ponder death.

Christians reflect on dying these days during the Fall season.

Halloween is a nice time for children to be treated but its origin is less superficial for adults.

November 1st is the feast of the communion of all saints - those men and women who lived lives that inspire us to this day. Saints include Mother Theresa of Calcutta, India, who reached and stooped low to life the dying. Those they may not be formally named, a saint, one's own parents may fit the description of a saint.

My own parents, who raised seven children, were saints.

If learning to die has a best time to grip, it is this time of Halloween and All Saints Day.

Even for children, the nursery rhymes help.

"Now I lay me down to sleep..."

No one is invincible.

It is never too soon to help the young appreciate mortality.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Standing Up, Speaking Truth to Power

A writer wondered why Cathoic priests in Cleveland, Ohio didn't stand up to support city churches on the chopping block recently.

Why is that?

Perhaps the writer was unaware of those pastors who did speak truth to power, especially when some of those marked for merging or closure were financially viable.

Yet, louder thunderous support for parishioners losing their place of worship is a meritorious effort.

It seems that pastors wait and let their bishops speak not wanting to get in the fray.

Or, it could be that pastors don't feel they should speak up on issues close to their people.

What do they have to lose?

Clergy should be speaking up daily on issues affecting parishioners.

For sure.

The silence is sickening.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Humility, Hungry

When a college football player said his team had to be humble and hungry to win the championship, I took notice.

To be humble.

To be hungry.

That means to stay grounded and trainable as a humble player. Hungry means to long much to win. That's a spiritual hunger for the deepest place within humans.

A rabbi once said that people today don't seem to think God speaks to them because no one seems to bow low enough.

How true.

To be open to the Maker. To long for the Creator. And, to hunger for God and the best.

That's a winning combination.

For sure.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Leaders Ring In On Bullying, Violence

Several local leaders met Tuesday in Royal Oak St. John Episcopal Church to share ways to reduce the violence around us.

Bullying was also on the minds of Rabbi Joseph Klein of Oak Park, Judge Joe Oster of St. Clair Shores, Father Paul Chaeau of Our lady of Fatima, Rector Linda Northcraft, host at St. John's, retired bishop Coleman McGehee, Jr., Pastor Hanna Sullaka of Dearborn, and Tom Zerafa, among others.

Junior high students need to be the focus, Rabbi Klein, proposed, hoping that youth and dating be addressed. He also wondered if coalitions on violence are sharing information enough.

One participant thought that Muslims need to be part of this meeting so people understand them more fully.

The rise in bullying among gays sparked comments from some in the group.

"All violence is not limited to heterosexuals," Tom Zearafa, said.

The group ended with prayer and said they'd meet again once they prioritize their priorites.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Soul Stuff: Roots and Relationships

Growing up on Detroit's east side, I learned the importance of getting grounded in the Maker.

That's part of what I like to call, Soul Stuff: Roots and Relationships.

Pausing is important daily. Taking time to connect with the Creator is crucial for me.

Like exercise, rest and recreation, unless I ponder and be still each day, I seem to be less fruitful.

All the more, amid so much strees, this is a key to effective living.

This was validated other day when interfaith leaders gathered to greet, meet and work together on issues common to us all. Among them is the bullying and violence brewing everywhere it seems these days here at home.

When I take twenty minutes to "go within" twice each day, this connection with the Creator seems to make things work well.

After all, it is God's parade - not mine.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Dear Young Persons Who Are Gay: A Letter

Dear Young People Who Are Gay:

Please don't ever give up even though I know how difficult it may be for you.

How sad I am that some have committed suicide after having been bullied by some who should know that we are all God's children, made in the Makers image and likeness.

I know people say you choose who you are. People, at times, don't know what they are talking about. A little education may be dangerous. One can become a know it all when research shows that who we are is formed in the the earliest years of our life.

I am sorry.

It hurts when I hear about suicides of any person, let along some who are gay.

Please know that I will talk with you if you need support when someone scorns you.

It takes time to accept who you are as a creation of God. Be patient along the way and don't give up...ever. You are gifted like all humans are. You are special like each person inhabiting this earth for some few years.

Over time, with the help of loving friends and others, hopefully family also, it becomes easier to be who you are.

I know. I do.

You are in my prayers when I connect with the Creator daily.

Call me at 586 777 9116 if I can be of help.

Really. I mean it. Don't think twice. Be of good cheer. I want to help.Give a call please.

Sincerely Yours,

(Rev.) Lawrence Ventline, D.Min.
Board Certified Professional Counselor
Founder, Care of the Soul, and the
All Faiths Festival (AFF)
586 530 7576

Friday, October 15, 2010

Shining Stars

Sunday will shine with a star.

At the Vatican, someone from Austrailia, who has done a world of good among the poor will be honored in an ancient ceremony that declares this nun saintly, holy, special, and, more.

Mary MacKillop, will be named the first Catholic saint down under by Pope Benedict.

Word is that Austrailia is buzzing with the thrill of it all. Even a website that was dedicated to MacKillop crashed under the weight of the traffic.

A largely Catholic country, immigration is counting hikes, however, among Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists.

Pilgrims will flock to Rome for the event. That keeps the church going, I'm sure, in part.

The bigger part that keeps the church afloat, it seems, are other countless women, like my own mother, who are the backbone of the church, despite all appearances of leaders.

Behind the scenes, and out of the eye of media, my mom raises seven children with a couple sets of twin. With my dad, mom received the news of the death of their son, Lukas, in Vietnam.
There were both sad and glad times at home for my dear mom and dad.

They did what they had to do to see us through and raise us.

Like so many others, they are saints supreme!

And, for ordinary women and men of mainstreet, I am most grateful. They show me how
to be in our culture today, and, how to make a difference.

Long live the saints, including the newest "offical" one!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Aware, Awake?

People wonder if neighbors and colleagues are so busy managing their own life, a family perhaps, and work, along with the multiple errands and mending of home and relationships required of us humans, whether they even get up earlier to read and make an informed vote Nov. 2nd.

My own tradition of faith encourages people to speak up in the public square and be heard, cast a vote, and, make a difference now.

Yet, people, at times, seem numbed by so much to do, by food or drink or drug, or work especially, that some are oblivious to the world, or, at least, the place he or she occupies.

Despite heavy schedules and demands that family life bring, even though our original U.S. constitution, say s nothing about parties, so what's the big fuss every minutes of every hours these days on TV?

All the promo money could be better used for the needy mainstreet neighbors next door, or, across the street. It seems wasted in a system gone wild about elections, and, specials interests buying candidates off, or, worse.

Reflecting on and reading about who is running seems to be the best one can do in a system that seems bent on failing mainstreet, given the win/lose demonizing that goes on these days.

Rewriting our Michigan constitution with speak up delegates and another vote on it, coupled with the dialog is what this state could use.


That's scary, however, given that special intrests, needs, groups, organizations, politicians, or, "rights" may feel threatened by someone, something "new" that may invite more equity, fairness and charity of our state pie.

What would my parents think about all this mess we've put ourselves in?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Announcement in Prayer List That I Died

Strange it was to be called by a friend who said:

"I'm glad to hear your voice."

"Why's that?" I asked.

"You were prayed for at Mass in the dead list at church," he said.

My, my.

One never knows.

That was a surprise.

The church secretary where I have an office for pastoral care and counseling sent a note
apologizing that she put my name in the list for the dead instead of the one for those sick.

Then, my name was announced:

"For Father Ventline..."

After a growth at the base of the brain, the master gland, called the pituitory, was in remission for years, it showed itself again recently. In through the nose again, to get at it. Ouch!

And, alarmed, some hurried to spread the news.

They failed to nuance, however, that it wasn't brain cancer.

Oh well.

I'm glad to be writing this blog at any rate.

Let the "Eternal rest unto him, O Lord" wait a bit longer before my demise.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Morphing Michigan Means Fixing our Constitution

No one seems to like change.

Especially those who benefit from the way things are in the Michigan state constitution.

Yet, Michigan must morph to move from the special interests, corruption and greed that hold Lansing and mainstreet residents captive while wallstreet thrives!

We must re-write our state constitution with a convention and delegates.

Once it is re-written we can vote against it if it fails to prevent corruption and special interests from ruining the state we love. Term limits in the present constitution fail to afford lawmakers the influence and powerbase to stave off special interest groups.

Of course, a constitutional convention will cost. Still, the cost of rewriting this document outweighs the fray Michigan pays with busines as usual.

Clergy and faithful will meet Nov. 1st with candidates in the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights to discuss the theme of God's Heart and the Global Village we are at 6 pm dinner. Reserve a place at

Civic candidates are welcome to hear clergy, including rabbis, pastors and imams, and participants, dialog about key concerns to our future together as one people under God. The All Faiths Festival (AFF), co-host of this event with Imam Ali Elahi, aim to build bridges and foster recognition and respect among all faith traditions, cultures and religions, and, to help families in crisis.

Join us!

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Do you get attached to people or things?

I do.

And, my pooch, Wolfie does also. To me. He follows me everywhere like my shadow. Bless him!

We get attached to food, sugar, money, shopping, work, sex.

Did I name your attachment?

Commitment to God and people is good, however, when we are attached or possessive of them, that may be unhealthy, and, not well.

They do us.

We become enslaved to what we're attached to at times.

All is given for us to enjoy. To attach and let go. To love people, spouse, family, for sure, but to leave a long leash for them to fly and be all they can be!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Truths That Get Me Through

"I am only a very little soul, who can only offer very little things to our Lord."

A Camelite mystic - one who has fallen in love with God - said that while she lived between 1873 and 1897 in Lisieux, a small town in Normandy.

Her mom died when she was four. Therese and her four older sisters were left in the care of their dad, a watchmaker and a man of marked piety.

Having lived less than three decades, she died of tuberculosis. Today is her feast.

Therese was canonized a saint. She considered herself of little account, literally, a little flower that fades fast, as she did at 23. She felt the call to be a priest, a warrior, an apostle, a Doctor of the Church, and a martyr.

My vocation is charity, she taught.

Her roots and relationships with God and people help me live truths that get me through:

Faith is the ability to refrain from panic.

If I worry, I probably failed to pray or connect with the Maker. When I pray I don't worry.

God wants spiritual fruit, not religious nuts.

When there's a problem: It's me.

Growing up is optional, while growing old is inevitable.

My toys, books, and Bible will not go with me when I die. No u-haul to heaven.

I've learned to care more about my character than my reputation.

Finally, like others, I sit on my pity pot every now and then. I remind myself to flush when done, nevertheless.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Kick in the Teeth for Commitment

So, the latest fad is, I don't take thee, when it comes to holy matrimony and marriage in our time.

With commitment on the wane, one wonders where all this will lead?

Greeting somone in the neighborhood is a task enough regarding as little a commitment as that is to acknowledge a neighbor. It seems as though any eye contact requires a longer commitment on the part of any dialog these days.

We have microwave ovens. Instant potatoes. Throw-away relationships. No-fault divorce.

And, a society that refused to commit anymore.

Wonder where this will go?

What's in it for you, me, the culture?


To study. To work. To aim high. For higher standards. For the ideal.

Is commitment gone with the wind?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Who Do You Listen To?


Listening is not the same with everyone I talk with daily.

I may hear some while I pay more attention to another.

One I may acknowledge that I'm listening, but far from it.

The ancients had the prophets to deal with often.

Amos, among the classic prophets of the Scriptures, challenged that attidude of the rich toward the poor and needy.

People listened, rebelled, and reacted or responded to the daunting challenge of the prophet.

The clarion call required a response.

Who do I listen to?

To whom do I give my ear?

To whom I give my ear may form my virtues, strengths, and values that include or exclude people.

Listening may all the difference in the world where I live my daily life.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Daily Self Care

This is your life.

It's the only one I get.

So. . .

How do I live each day? What do I do? How am I to be? How do I live it well?

I must pause. That is, I must get off the fast track that leads to destruction.

Pausing means I fully focus and ponder the moment I am experiencing. I stop, look, and listen.

As with a red traffic light, I stop, so, I need to pause daily for recreation of body, mind and spirit.

What's in it for me?

Quality of life, for sure. Less stress. More enjoyment.

Half way to Port Austin, Michigan, I begin to chill and feel differently as I relax driving in my Jeep to visit my brother in the Thumb of this beautiful state.

Frenetic and stressed, I find that that is dumped midway. Calm overcomes me.

I let go of worry.
I smile more.
I enjoy my passenger, Wolfie, my four-legged Bichon Frise puppy.

The rest of the day is a delight.

I connect with the Creator, and, give thanks for the duration.

Supper consists of a toasted chicken sandwich, a salad, some nuts, and tomato slices with apple cider vinegar and olive oil.

Reading follows.

Conversation and visits ensue.

A walk with Wolfie wraps up the night.

I rest.

I trust all will be well.

I sleep eight hours and am awakened refreshed.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A God Who Hates

That's the title of an ex-Muslim dissident from Syria, Wafa Sultan, a psychiatrist who came to America with her husband who is also educated, and, respected her, the author says.

The courageous woman who inflamed the Muslim world speaks out against the evils of Islam, is the subtitle of this book of 13 chapters and 244 pages that kept me glued to its finish.

Sultan brings light to how women are treated and why the Islamic faith was founded.

Sultan says, Islam is "the ogre" as she traces the roots and psychology of a nomadic people who invented this religion in ordr to assuage thier own fears and feelings of desperation.

Story after story tells of the brutal murder of women for alleged violations of Sharia law.

Harsh life in the Arab desert, and the fear of dying of hunger and thirst, fostered a violent and anxious people who wanted to survive at any price.

The author writes:

"Arabs who lived in the environment that gave birth to Islam were powerless in the face of the challenges presented by this environment, which threatened their lives and welfare. Because they felt so helpless they felt a need for forcefulness and created a god who would fulfill this need. When the Arab male lost his power, he felt the need for a forceful god. And so he created a forceful god in the image of his need - but this god was not powerful."

Furthermore, Sultan describes the prophet Muhammad as a pedophile and perveyor of violent ways.

In a most daunting interview on February 21, 2006, Sultan gave one of the most provocative interviews on Al Jazeera network. She told her male Muslim interviewer to "shut up" when it was her turn to speak.

Named one of Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential people in the world, Sultan was described as a transformative individual.

This may be one person's experience, but it is critical, when the human dignity of women suffers so much.

It kept me engged from page to page. When many of my own quetions about Muslims remain ambiguous in the interfaith work I do, Sultan cuts to the chase.

She opened my eyes to the streak of violence that seems to thread through the Muslim world's faith.

Sultan loves America, and stood when others sit, and, speak truth to power.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Can't We Just Get Along?

A bevy of birds.

Plenty of noise from Canadian geese grabbed the attention of my Bichon Frise puppy, Wolfie, and me this rainy Saturday morning in Harrison Township, Michigan.

As we watched, and Wolfie wanted to attack, I noticed one bird hovering low with neck and legs zooming in with a loud sound toward another fleeing bird.

Can't we just get along?

Everyone seems to be fighting these days: Political parties, neighors, bullies, and the military securing our nation, or, perhaps, thoughts of invading another, soon, God forbid!

Is it in our nature, our, our genes to wage battle with each other?

What is it?

Are our hearts conflicted?

In our hearts, that's where war begins, I recall a Trappist monk saying while on retreat years

In my heart?


How true.

I must settle my heart to keep family and nation at peace.

Canadian geese.

The Canadians have a small armed forces I hear, and, are a nation at peace, for the most part, it seems.

Their geese?

That's another story as they invaded Jefferson and Crocker Roads this morning.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

OCD, Scrupulosity

Obsessive compulsive behavior.

We also call it scrupulosity.

We all know the senseless search for something trivial that was lost.

Novelist, pastor and sociologist Andrew Greeley tells the story of a very wealthy golfer who planned to golf.

The only problem?

He thought it would rain on his parade, on his 10th hole that day.

So he told his golfing partners to go ahead.

He'd meet there there once he found his favorite cap.

It wasn't in his duffle bag.

Or, his golf bag.

Or, in the clubhouse.

He looked again in all these places.

No find.

He asked his wife if she knew where that cap was.

"I threw it out; it's ugly."

He found it in the trash.

He put it on and drove to the golf course.

They were on the 12th hole.

And, it didn't even rain.

(The Gospel of St. Luke, Chapter 15, tells a similar story).

Paradise President Obama NOT Yet!

So two years into office, we expect the President of the good ole U.S. of A. to have stopped the bleeding and put us back into prosperity, or else . . .

Are we impatient?

Too quick to assess his legacy?

Afraid of losses in our own personal economy?

Perhaps greedy for the good ole days when the economy was flying high and we were in the black?

And, another President has us living the really good life?

I don't quite get all the divisiveness in this Nation I love.

I don't get what may be covert hate, and not so undercover by some who lack respect for the authority and Office of the President.

Even some who claim to follow the New Testament aren't willing to pray for and respect those in authority.

So. . . please tell me, please....

What are we encountering in America?

Are these the days back to McCarthyism?

Maybe racism?

Perhaps worse?

Tell me what's in all this name calling and anger about?

What's it all about?

Sunday, September 12, 2010



That's what I watched early into the morning as the History Channel chronicled the dust and ashes of the heap and hunks of steel beams blasting about in New York City that fateful day of 9/11/01.


Some want to move to recovery fast. Healing, however, takes time.

And, with this unhealed wound, I wonder how long?

Whatever time it takes is OK, nevertheless.

"O my God," echoes out loud with hours of eye-witness video footage of residents who watched the horror unfold before the face of so many.

Dust sprinkled all of them and covered the ground like snow on a wintry white night drizzed with ashes, bones, beams and human beings strewn across the street of Manhattan.

My heart ached, locked as I was into this "man's inhumanity to man," to quote the Detroit-connected Reinhold Neibuhr who defined what is called sin - missing the mark. Pride and pretension are descriptions of sin for Neibuhr.

Arrogance and acting as though any human is the center of the universe, above the Maker.
Pretending to be other than who God made each of us in the beauty each is with the face of God's image and likeness as Genesis notes in the Hebrew Scriptures.

The evil-doers, who claimed they wanted to cleanse themselves from impurity, missed the mark of God's law of love.
They didn't miss the two trade towers, but, they failed miserably in pretending to defend the actions of murder.

My tears poured as I watched, tired as I was, longing for my bed for sleep. I couldn't move as I relived this ninth anniversary of this memorial of murdered Americans (and so many others across the globe daily).

My heart was split apart like the structure tearing apart, metal and steel melting in the extreme heat from the ton of gasoline in the airplanes that bombed the USA that day.

Ashes, dust, and more.

The smell.

A month after 9/11 on foot at the sacred space, the smell of human flesh pervaded my nostrils.

More ache.

Remember, you are dust and into dust you will return.

Those words mark forheads of Christians with ash from burnt palm trees the first day of Lent, called Ash Wednesday. It is the start of the 40-day period of fasting, intense prayer, and almsgiving for believers who join with Jesus the Christ is the passion, suffering, dying, death and rising over 2,000 years ago.

You are dust.

The sacrament of the anointing - final rites - extreme unction - was prayed with victims struggling through the smoke. Priests were everywhere joined with firefighters and police providing comfort to the wounded.
They all were there. The whole world seemed to be there. It was. One globe under God, I thought. One family with some bad apples who committed this unspeakable crime.

Never again! Never, I pray God!

Everyone one of my sisters and brothers were running from the cloud of smoke and the imploding towers.

What's in it for me?

The words of one survivor who was a guest of the Mariott Hotel next to the towers on the fifth floor, say it all:

"I found myself asking have I been all my parents expected me to be," he voiced aloud, as he was certain his death neared when a falling brick showed with smoke from his hotel window.

A review of his life.

An examination of conscience.

He survived.

The questioning, however, follows each of us.

Remember, you are dust and into dust you will return.

Unity, charity and random acts of kindess every day.

What matters most centers suddenly.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sad State of Media Who Make Media Hounds Like Pastor Jones

Media make hounds for the media like Pastor Terry Jones.

It is a shame society has evolved to this. Glowing in so-called fame for a few is a product, however of the media.

Like a parent who spoils a young child who give her or him everything, the media looks for people to savor and relish in the glow of cameras for their moment.

Media is the lone institution who have gone unchallenged. Media hold the influence and have the final word, and, media knows it.

Pastor Terry Jones needs to get personal phone calls from clergy today. I beg clergy of all faith traditions to call him as soon as possible and speak truth in love. Call Pastor Jones at 362 371 2487.

Tonight I called him and left a voice mail asking him to quit this disgraceful behavior.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

School Bells Ringing for End to Violence

Family is the answer to the violence erupting in homes, schoolyards and just about everywhere these days, it seems, amid school bells ringing the start of a fresh year.

Is the high school drop-out rate the problem?



Perhaps, all of these factor into the dilemma.

But, unless marriages stabilize and family foundations are supported once more, the cycle
of anger, rage and driveby shootings will continue.

And, where sons and daughters play, will hardly be exempt as school bells ring out this week.

Franciscan pastor, Richard Rohr, a leader of a model of male spirituality, studied culture after culture, only to discover that boys and men are at risk. A pause to ponder will help.

A men's rite of passage is proposed via a retreat-like week and encounter where fathers and sons stare in the face of each other. Then, boys between 13 and 16 are introduced to the sufferings, pains or mysteries of life - you are not the center of the universe; life is hard; you win some and lose some; one day yo will die; you are not in control; you life is about something bigger and someone bigger than you - the youngster will not know how to handle loss, rejection, or losing a job, or a girlfriend, for that matter, as they get older.

And, if the male can'f face his pain, Rohr concludes, he will abuse his power.

Rohr refers to Edward Tick's, War and the Soul, a book that proves how many males sought some kind of initiation in joining the armed forces, only to be disillusioned.

An inner life has to be formed beyond performance, winning, beating the other team or guy.

Developing an inner life entails dealing with suffering and the mysteries of life mentioned above.

That seems to be off the compass of parenting in today's culture. It is a task, however, that only dads with the support of moms, can do with their son(s).

The cycle of violence will only continue unless boys are taught to embrace the ambiguities and mysteries of life.

Sons must be raised differently.

Otherwise, expect more of the same sad stuff amid school bells ringing the start of school again.

God help us.

And, let us help ourselves, our sons, and, men at risk.

Creator God,
amid the horror
of rage and violence,
silence us sufficiently
to bring sons and fathers
together in retreat.

Let them stare in the face
of one another. May fathers
form sons by telling them
of the ambiguities and
mysteries of life - that they
win some and lose some in life;
that I am not the center of the
universe; that I may be passed over
at work for a position I want; that my
girlfriend may reject me, and, more.

Help family to be strong again with
parents committed to marriage and
the convenant that comes with it.

Show us the path upon the way you
have given us down through the ages.

So be it.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Jeep Drivers Waving Wranglers Club

My blue Wrangler Sport Jeep seems to attract passersby.

Other Wrangler drivers wave as we pass or ride in lanes next to each other on the expressway
or elsewhere.

When the waving Wranglers first began to acknowlede me, I felt strange.

Nevertheless, being polite, I would wave back.

At first, when the waving began, I thought it was a fad that would pass.

What was it?

Why were Wrangler waving at me?

Was it my bright blue color that engaged their eyes?

Couldn't be this 61-year-old driver, could it, I wondered?

My Wrangler waver issue was mentioned to some friends in Roseville, MI., the other night at supper.

One of the six said:

"Jeep owners have an entire line of items that link all Wranglers. They meet. They have mugs.
They have conventions."

Cool, I thought.

There you have it.

Sounds strange, doesn't it? But, it's true, believe me, or get a Jeep and find out for yourself.

It is nice to be noticed.

Nicer to exchange the wave from my blue Wrangler Jeep.

Is it a club or a cult, I asked myself the other night on my way home from Novi, where I mentioned this experience to other priests.

No one commented.

The high-spirited enthusiasm drowned out my gentle voice, I guess.

Glad the Wrangler wavers pay attention.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sorrows, Celebrations

Life is full of sorrows.

It is also flowing with celebrations.

Today, I encountered sad situations and those that filled me with joy.

At jail, a 33-year-old man who is caught in the web of crack cocaine addiction, refused to go into rehabilitation for drug recovery.

"You become better at getting drugs when you go int a rehab," he yelled back at my invititation.

He had little to say.

I was sad, to say the least.

"Do you want me to give a message to anyone?" I asked him.


Later that day I popped into an office of Ascension Lutheran Church in Clinto Township to meet the pastor.

Joy filled me as we chatted.

He told of plans to break ground for a new building on Card and 22 Mile Road in Macomb County, MI.

Good news, I thought.

People believe.

We talked about fracture in marriage and the violence surrounding us everywhere, it seems.

"You know, the research shows that those who stop devotions and prayers, get caught up in temptation and sin," the pastor shared.

At home, later that night, I saw in the paper that the Wall of Healing is in town in Clinton Township, MI., not far from where I live.

The story of a marine killed in Vietnam locked me into that piece since my own brother, Lucas, was killed the same year there in 1968.

That's an unhealed wound, I thought.

More sadness, sorrow, as I recalled the men and women maimed in our current battled.

I'll be there to find my brother's name on the Wall, nevertheless.

After some prayer, I hit the pillow and rested my head with a deep sigh of relief.

I felt a smile come over my face before I vaulted into deep rest.

Sorrows and celebrations.

The mix of life.

"We mourn over the blossoms of May because they are to wither, but we know withal, that May is one day to have its revenge upon November, by the revolution of the solemn circle which never stops - which teaches us in our height of hope, ever to be sober, and in our depth of desolation never to despair."

John Henry Cardinal Newman's "The Second Spring," came to mind, from July of 1852.

The mix of ups and downs of life.

We take the sad stuff.

We relish the consolations and joys also, thank God!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

School Bells Ringing

Another school year begins for youngsters these days.

Lots is learned in school.

Amid risk, many children enter the classroom.

As goals and objectives are set to raise the bar, educators will
strive to meet standards required of them.

Information will pour into children.

However, what stayed with me was the experience in school.

How a teacher shamed me in kindergarten gym class lingers long.
How a music teacher told me I couldn't sing.

Performance was the name of the game, it seemed in school.

Win. Suceed.

Little "inner" education was encouraged, however.

Years after my formal education, l learned that males are at risk.
They are not taught the mysteries of life: I don't get everything I want.
I may be excluded, rejected. I may not pass every test. I may lose or
be passed over for a position I wanted.
I may get sick. I will die, one day.

All the performance, and cry to win at any price is met with dire
consquences, however.

One's true self - one's soul - needs growing as well as one's mind and body.

This is the challenge for education today.

Unless the focus changes, we can continue to expect violence to win.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

What if?

What if all the traditions of faith came together and built a site at the 9/11 horror?

What if Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, Jews , amongothers, joined the Muslims and erected a holy site of prayer?

Friends suggested that the other day at the Woodward Cruise.

Wouldn't that be a real sign of solidarity of faiths?

Since the mosque has been so politicized, why not join together in faith and show solidarity of faith in God.

A place of prayer for all peoples this would be.

Who will lead?

Who will follow to build?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Deep Roots,Relations on Detroit's East Side

My dad would say that I think too much.

And, when he did, I'd leave my studies and go play some.

I ponder at times about growing up on Detroit's East Side near Lynch Road and Van Dyke, a stone's throw from the Detroit City Airport on French Road.

My parents drove us to that airport on Sundays to watch the planes land and take off.

Up until perhaps a decade ago, I could catch a plane from City Airport to Chicago and back home. My young nephews, Jeff and Tim, flew to watch the Pistons play the Windy City team.

Times have changed. Only comercial flights do business there now.

Nevertheless, family and neighbors were tight then. We knew each other well.
In fact, gossip served to keep us kids accountable. We knew how to behave or pay the price of punishment from dad or mom who would hear about my brother, his friends and me, raiding the neighbor's piegeon coop, for example on Tappan, the street through the alley from our Arcola Street home. We could be bad boys also! And, be disciplined when caught, however!

Alleys are a thing of the past also, however. Horse and buggy with driver would search them to recycle or cash in on selling the goods lifting from our garbage each week.

Mr. Kowalski, Mr. Suminski, Mr. White, Mr. and Mrs. Sakmar, Jesse and Red Edgette and Terry. A litany of names emerges for me. Many were Polish and Catholic Americans who loved this land and would spill blood for it as so many vets I know did.

Mrs. Lewandowski was a nurse who lived across the street from our aluminum, two-storied home that contained the nine of us, our dog, Chipper, and our harem of friends who gathered often when mom's home-baked apple pies filled the notrils and olfactory of hungry and hearty eaters who were growing fast.

That's changed also.

Few people I know cook from scratch these days like mom who made chocolate cake with flour, eggs, cocoa, eggs, baking powder and an oven. Creamy chocolate icing was indeed icing on the cake!

Sundays saw neighbors gather at the local parish church of Saint Thomas the Apostle on Miller at Townsend, further south on Van Dyke, or, Holy Name of Jesus just north of us near McNichols, off of Van Dyke.

Walking there often, we went past Forestlawn Cemtary (the Prostestant one), and, got very close to Mt. Olivet Cemetary (the Catholic one) where mom, dad, and our brother Lucas who was killed in Vietnam in '68 now rest, along with countless other relatives of Polish-American stock and heritage. Chipmunks in either cemetary fled from my brother and me. We poured a jug of water into their holes and bottled them for the trip home. God knows what we did with them after. I think we just let them go. Memory fails. (Wait 'til you get older!)

That's the past.

And, there's no future in it.

Yet, that past formed and fashioned my four sister and two brothers and me.

We learned the "courtliness" of Saint Francis. We grew the courtesy that was required in our daily discipline, or else.

That's seems to be a thing of the past for many today also.

Oh well...


I love it. Won't leave it. I will relish and savor it forever and squeeze every moment out of its beauty and awesomeness in the roots and relations that made me, praise God.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Is Christianity Political?

Is it?

Is Christianity political?

The word, politics, means, people.

Where we find people in the public square, we will have politics.

Yet, what offends people, it seems to me, is when Christianity is "politicized" for one's own means, ends, and, agenda.

"I was out of the church on Eleven Mile Road in Warren when she (the leader) preached politics," my physician told me.

"She was supportive of creating a Department of Peace," I responded to my doctor as she listened intently.

Christianity is a fine line that crosses boundaries easily in the realm of politics.

Is abortion political?

It is a moral issue. Always was before Roe V Wade. Are same-gender unions political? Stem cell research? Euthanasia? Capitol punishment? Cheating in filing one's income tax? Gossip?
So . . .

Life, people and politics.

People want to be inspired, motivated to move from their center and soul within to morph and mend a broken and lost nation.

That's a tall order in itself, isn't it?

Entangling faith with politicis gets risky, and, gets people walking out of churches who cross the line from inspiration to politics.

Excuses may occupy the hearts and minds of many to walk from faith.

However, keeping one's focus on faith inspiring parishioners to make the difference in the public square may keep one from crossing the line.

What do you think?

Why do you believe and practice regularly at a synagogue, temple, church or mosque?

What irks you about preaching?

When does the preacher cross the line between faith and politics?

The Founders of this great Nation encouraged people to embrace religion, still, to keep
separation or entangling State and Church, no?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Teen, Taliban and Other Women Today Here and Abroad

Taliban orders sliced the nose and ears of an 18-year-old Afghan woman for fleeing her husband's home.

Innocent women and children caught in the fray of battles brewing in countries everywhere it seems these days. Violence put upon them everywhere.

But, by those who know better and won't lift a finger? A pope who could change the status of women with the mark of his pen. By men who could ban together to unite for women's rights?

Second class citizens? Are women?

What gives?

It has always been this way, in the story of females, you say?

What's in this for you, you ask?

If one human being is singled out for torture, could it happen to anyone?


My heart ached today as my mind turned to thoughts of the way women are treated.


Power and domination have always kept women down.

In my own Catholic community, I regret that only males may apply to lead parishes in worship.

And, it sounds often that marriage is second to ordination after baptism, of course.
If my parents weren't married for longer than fifty years in fidelity and commitment to each other and the seven of us siblings, this writer wouldn't have been ordained 35 years ago.


I wonder today.


What would it be like for me to be excluded?

I have no idea of the pain poking within the feminine who are tortured like Aisha of Afghanistan who arrived in California the other day for surgery to fix her severed limbs.

What is it like for young girls to be abducted like the high school lifeguard, Molly Bish, who was murdered in West Warren, MA., more than a decade ago?

All of the trafficking of youngsters pulls at my heartstrings also these days. And, the children who are abused at home by parents or pastors or other predators.

A fledgling Feudal system will finally bring down exclusionary postures toward women in my Church, I pray God. Banning them from ordination, or elevating women to higher posts in church settings would have stemmed the scandalous sexual abuse crisis, I'm sure.

After all, mothers and women are protectors of those they carried nine months. No man can appreciate that like a mom can.

Any system of brutality and exclusionary practices that box out gals and other women, have to go.

What are we afraid of?

Why won't we treat ALL human beings in and outside of the womb with the dignity God gave each of us?

Do economics drive this discrimination, horror, torture? What drives it? Why?

Aisha, my four sisters, Sister Mary Gonzaga, Eleanor Josaitis, Rosa Parks, the murdered in El Salvador, Haiti's most vulnerable, put a human face on our plate.

Will I work to outlaw absolutes that put a line and wall on women? Will I?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Roots, Relationships, People and Politics

Leaders, the likes of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. may need to walk again.

Walk together, that is.

In union.


Our U.S. constitution hardly called for attorneys and other holders of law degrees, to run this Nation I love.

Go look for yourself.

You'll see.

The various trades were among the founders. Not attorneys. Or, canon lawyers, running the Catholic Church for example. Go figure.

Why should you be wondering and walking in protest ... together?

That's what it will take to get our government back and its traditions in the spirit of the Founders, not lawyers from the Ivy-leagues schools who seem to be the only one's who matter when it comes to leaders and those eleceted to manage my homeland.

This primary election is a good example of the "learned helplessness" Americans are feeling when it comes to our government, its example, its lawyers, and it peculiar interpretation of who is to make up our governmental leaders.

Talk to me once you check out the U. S. Constitution.

Tell me what I say isn't so. . .

Saturday, July 31, 2010


Go within.

Then, reach out.

Try circling your family facing each other to illustrate our globe and one family under God.

After some time, invite the group to turn full circle to the outside.

Reach in.

Reach out.

Pausing to ponder provides rests, recreation and a renewed vigor to confront the world we face daily.

Unless I go within, I go without.


Read on. Reach in. Pause. Breathe deeply.

At the 125th anniversary of SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary, St. Mary's Prep, and, the Polish Mission at what is called the Orchard Lake Schools at Commerce Road, July 18th, former Vatican leader Edmund Cardinal Szoka suggested that the Seminary go global and invite students from Africa to apply to be formed to be pastors leading communities.

That prayed proposal is another example of pausing and going within, in order to go outside and lift those lost, carry the wounded and warriors, and humans in the womb, provide jobs, house everyone, and bring along those who move more slowly, all with a higher standard of living.

Founded and carried by our founders who went "inside" to thier center, or soul, in order to reach out to build this Nation and its virtues, all of us must carry the heavy cost of commitment and encourage marital fidelity and commitment once more, and grow the domestic and global family.

Holywood images of TV must be confronted when virtues and strengths of patience, commitment and attention fade fast in an instant and 'microwave-able' world that want little, if any engagement in the public square these days.

Clergy of the Children of Abraham, including Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions meet August 7th in the Karbalaa Islamic Educational Center and Museum to explore common elements of Moses, Jesus and Mohamed. Later in the day, they will encourage media to go beyond cursory soundbites and superficial reporting. Call Imam Al-Husainy at 313 729 8035 to join us for conversation, food, exhibits and more.

"An inordinate fest suggests that if we go too deep, endurance, steadfastness, commitment and active engagement in the public square," is required, spiritual guide and retreat leader, the Reverend Kenneth Kaucheck noted, when I ask the Bloomfield Hills Manresa Center pastor what he makes of Hollywood-like glamor of TV today that fosters promiscuity, infidelity and faithlessness.

Going within to better the world outside.

Pausing to ponder. Is there a better way to imagine a better world here at home?

"When you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly." (Mt. 6:6)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mary's Mantle

A brochure seemed to shout at me:

Take me, take me!

What was I supposed to do?

In blue color on the cover of a brochure, titled, Mary's Mantle: A Catholic Residential Home for Expectant Mothers in Oakland County's Southfield, I was curious.

I picked it up.

When demonizing opposing sides is so common in Michigan and national politics and church and society, I read on about this positive place and plan to help expectant mothers experience healthy pregnancies in a faith-based atmosphere of support as a community resource.

It was clear to me that some would not welcome this home for mothers to be.

Yet, the alternatives to a home such as Mary's Mantle, only leave a pregnant mom feeling alone, unloved and frigthened about the end of her baby's life.

Where is mom and child to go?

Years ago, I recall the much-loved bishop of Saginaw, MI., Ken Unterner, a native of Detroit, encouraging his parishioners to walk with pregnant moms all the way to fruition.

Rubber met the road in Saginaw. Talk was not enough the good bishop instructed. Action was key.

Near Ten and one-half mile at Telegraph there is a home for eighteen-year-old moms and older with residential nuns who serve as mentors along with care givers.


In the womb.

Outside the womb.

Life is precious.

Mary's Mantle stands up for life.

I want to also.

Always when so much war, destruction and consequences of violence in and outside humans are tearing this nation and my heart apart.

Good for Mary's Mantle (, 248 376 5338, PO Box 115, Bloomfield Hills, MI, 48303-0115), named afte Mary, the mother of the revered Jesus the Christ, who said, "I have come to give you life and give it more abundantly."


It's all we have.

And, we can do better on all fronts.

Inside the womb.

And, outside as battles brew and we're on the wrong side of international and personal politics so often.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Rocky Mountain High


What's in it for you?

Vacationing in Colorado Springs, Vale, Aspen, and Snowmass is the time of one's life.

Pike's Peak is way up above sea level. Our cog train moved its way ascending to the high point in the pastoral green mountains.

Getting away is good for everyone.

Getting another view of things is also recommended.

My eight days began with a retreat in Snowmass at the St. Benedict Monastery where the Trappists live and work.

My 3/4 quarter-mile hike back and forth to the chapel kept me in shape.

I reminded myself I was to move slowly, after all, this is a retreat.

Quiet and solitude is good.

It helps one calm down and be still in a frenetic culture.

The inspiring Pike's Peak is enough to renew any soul.

Summer is fading.

Vacation time calls.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

What's in It for You - Angry Feelings?

If there's something in it for me, we all seem to flock to that which enriches me.

But, what about anger?

What's in it for you, for me?

Why do statistics show alarming numbers of persons engaging angry feelings these days?

Is road rage, domestic and global poverty, conflict with a spouse or boss, for example,
filled with benefits for you and me?

Anger is the feeling - among the 7 deadly or capital sins for Catholics - that rings the alarm bell that one is being treated unfairly.

What's in anger for you, for me?

Heightened blood pressure, release of cortisol, and mounting stress, to name the fray of angry people.

All of that, let alone the raging relationship, loss of esteem, feelings of guilt, and violation of
one's own, and another's dignity and worth.

After all, one is made in the image and likeness of God.

That's enough to ponder to put any angry person in awe of the beauty in which each is created.

In fact, in the sermon on the mount, the wise and much-loved Jesus said:

"You shall not kill," and, adds to it the prescription of anger, hatred and vengeance. (Mt. 5:21)

The true story of a prizefighter who was knocked to the canvas in the third round illustrates how one can make anger work for him or her with a time out.

Hit, the fighter didn't get up until after the 10-count.

"Why didn't you get up, you crazy,? demanded his manager, after the fight.

"I was so mad at being floored by that jerk," explained the defeated fighter, "that I thought I'd better count to ten befor I did anything."

Take a time out to be remade in God's image.

One way to move from anger to poise in the moment of anger is to pray for direction, to calm the raging feelings.

Anger blinds one, yet prayer and a connect with the Creator amid anger restores sight.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

An Artist Beyond Compare

A drive north on Michigan's Highway M-25 took my breath away.

Along Lake Huron and through Lexington and other small towns, I headed to Port Austin in Michigan's thumb.

Roots and relationships came to mind.

The beautiful Great Lake State occupied my pondering about water and its power and beauty.

The Gulf and the oil spill animated me enough to feel my sad feelings about the water creatures and their plight, let alone the economic fray of lost jobs and more.

Water was poured over me when I was a baby, I recalled.

At the initiation rite into becoming a Christian, water was used with prayers to welcome me into God's world ever more deeply, my parents told me as I grew.

The original innocence and breath-taking magnificence of life was marred by Adam and Eve in the Genesis story of their crossing boundaries.


It's like that.

It refreshes, cleanses and cools one.

Woof and Wolf were standing on the back seat of my Chevy Aveo gazing at the Lake.

I wondered what they thought.

A couple hours later, I arrive in Port Austin across from Jenks Park where my brother lived until he met Debbie and fell in love.

Another of life's beauty - love.

As they make choices, decide on a wedding day, and live love's joy's and struggles that come with relations, all of the roots the Ventline family have in the Thumb will come to mind.

My dad's merged family after his own birth mother died while he was six months old comes to mind.

Those roots are not always pleasant to recall given some domestic violence and child abuse, I heard about in this family secret.

Embrace the family tree and tales, I remember a pastor telling me in high school. Own all of life, he said.

I do.

I accept it all in the grandeur of God, the general manager of the universe who must know what
is the plan and purpose of life's unfolding for others, for me, for family, for the village, and the world.

Ducks, dogs, chickens, pigeons, and other heavenly critters engaged my Bichon Frise pups, Wolf and Woof as they would speed out of the house to chase a cat or rooster bellowing out a wake-up call at 4 am each day!


The trek home in the heat wave had me counting blessings instead of sheep.


An artist beyond compare who designed it all.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

To Be Free, Independent

It takes a village to grow a dump.

That thought crossed my mind as I walked Woof and Wolf, my ten-month-old Bichon Frise pups earlier today.

Roots and relationships go deep with family and neighbors, don't they?

As we passed a dump by my home, I noticed that piles of paper, debris, bottles and cans fill that site of boulders and pastoral greens.

The dump got started when builders began what they could not complete. A pressed economy halted homes from being erected. So, foundations are laid.

This huge field, however, remains, where residents and visitors, seem to pile on this dump.

Does freedom mean the ability to do as I please?

Does it mean to pollute and throw garbage where I want to rid it from myself?

Is selfish, self-centeredness the aim of America?

Am I independent and free this July 4th?

To be free hardly means to be self-sufficient with reckless disregard for others and creation.

Are we not inter-dependent as Americans?

To be free, productive and sharing are noble purposes for each American.

Does it not take a village to raise a family, a community, and, even a dump, for that matter?

Happy Fourth of July America!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Party at 125

It seems that most people enjoy a party or celebration.

And, when it's 125 years, that mark merits merriment.

Here's the story:

Back in 1967, I enrolled in Saint Mary's College at Orchard Lake, a spacious, park-like campus twnty-five miles northwest of Detroit where I grew up on the east side near Lynch Road and Van Dyke.

When I wanted to study medicine over ministry, this haunting focus seemed to keep challenging my choice.

Ministry won.

Having shared a room with my older brother, Bob, I liked the idea of having my own room at Orchard Lake where there is also a high school, seminary, and a Polish Mission in Oakland County.

With Polish background in my parents' blood, I fit into the frame of mind at St. Mary's College.

In fact, the Polish thrust seemed a bit much.

I knew that the world was bigger, however, than my own ethnic background.

In 1971 I went on to a seminary in Plymouth called St. John's Provincial Seminary at Five Mile and Sheldon Roads.

Like St. Mary's, both places were far out and away from the bustling city of Detroit I grew up in and loved.

In 1975 I was ordained a deacon, and, later a Catholic priest. I savor serving as a pastor today.

Fast forward to the 125th anniversary of founding of the Orchard Lake School years.

Students were formed in the faith to lead communities as Catholic priests at worship, the sacraments, works of pastoral care, hospital visitations, someone in jail, and, even counseling one moving along the path of destruction in the world of drugs, for example.

I relished my college formation.

With an international faculty to guide us, my smaller Motown track was widened to view a bigger world perspective, especially Poland.

The Reverend Joseph Dabrowski, the priest who established the Orchard Lake Schools (OLS) as they are called, hailed from Poland, then, moved to Wisconsin and finally on to Detroit with some Felician nuns to teach and start Catholic grade schools.

They would preserve and pass on the Polish heritage, faith, and culture.

And, they did, along with outstanding leaders with names such as Filipowicz, Ziemba, Milewski, Chrobot, Ruskowski, Popielarz and more.

July 22nd, a celebration and party will be hosted on campus.

Most of the pastors who lead communities across the United States with Polish background today were formed at Orchard Lake. They're older now. Replacements are slim.

125 years is a trophy, however.

That's worthy of celebration, for sure.


And, although I am ambivalent about my Church's future, and, especially the handling of the crisis of some pathological and predatory priests, I am jubilant about the faith that grounds me 35 years after I was ordained a deacon to serve the Archdiocese of Detroit.

God guides me.

Yet, I wonder.

Why is sexuality such an issue in our culture, also among parents who abuse their children, and, among athletes, the military and more? Why do Buddhists, for example, seem to have less problems with sexuality? Why is so much energy expended?

With a shrinkng number of clergy available to serve churches, how will the faith continue? Will the sacraments be available?

Why are so few entering Catholic divinity schools today?

Are leaders doing enough to imagine, or change disciplines such as enforcing celibacy upon men who get ordained? Excluding women from among more prominent leadership roles? Supporting families? Reaching out to young adults? Moving beyond the fear factor that locks systems into postures that may not work any longer?

I worry.

Like the oil spill in the Gulf, what legacy will we hand on?

Are church leaders doing all they can to ensure a vibrant Church with leaders to bolster the broken, those seeking solace, and, those lost, for example?

I don't know.

What I do know is that I want to celebrate my Church long after this 125th anniversary of my alma mater.

And, it looks like leadership lacks the resolve to move from this sexual horror that consumes and entrenches so much time, energy and money spent in lawsuits.

I want to enjoy party and be jubilant, although I will be in Snowmass, Colorado that day at St. Benedict Monastery reflecting on what we call a renewing retreat with Trappist Thomas Keating.

With the celebration of 125 years, however, comes the challenge to do some things differently.

Living organisms have to grow, or, history shows, they die.

If they need to die, having served their purpose like many religious communities of men and women through time, then fine.

Death brings life, Catholics believe.

The Church needs to live long and well, however. It needs to give life, and give it abundantly, as Jesus advised.

People hunger for nourishment and guidance.

To whom shall they go?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Courtesy and Caring

Where has all the courtesy and caring gone?

In my own roots and relationships, courtesy and caring were paramount while growing up on Detroit's east side in my family of nine.

Three marks distinguish one who seems to be ministering in the person of Christ and not just their own person:

A certain disinterestedness, (a take it or leave it attitude)

a right beneath the surface tranquility, (a serene spirit) and

an effortless humility (down-to earth).

These marks shimmer through the event and personality in such a way that the encounter is always much more than "just me."

In an age of self, myself, me, myself and I, the story looms larger than "just me."

When these marks shine through one, another may ask:

What are you up to?

How do you do it?

Who are you doing this for?

It is at this point that one shares authentic "good news," not before.

The caring or courtesy is much more than me.

It is deeper, wider, longer, swifter, and, more meaningful.

Signs of Christ energy are zeal, dedication, passion, hard work, or strong conviction.

These are not the marks referred to here.

These could be, however, more often than not, they are "ego" signs, insecurity and
immaturity in Christ, the Way, truth, and life.

Francis of Assisi showed Christian caring.

His contemporaries defined this "knightly soul' with the word, courtesy, the courtliness of the king.

His love was unaffected by class or position, or power, or prestige.

God's love poured thorugh him in a natural courtesy that placed all of his time, attention, knowledge, presence and caring at the humble disposition of the one right in front of him.

Francis believed that the "courtesy of the King" toward himself awakened the same courtesy in his own heart.

Courtesy, of course, refers to how the best behavior is modeled in the "court" of the king and queen.

It is the love of the Best that urges us to love better.

It is the charity and love of Christ that urges us to love better (2 Cor. 5:14).

It is the courteous Christ who partners us into ministries of caring.

Just me is too some for the larger Story I am inserted into for some limited years.

Kindness and politeness go deeper in Christ. The One who converts, cajoles, challenges and consoles, provides that extra something/Someone that kindess and politeness only beging to offer.

This all looks, feels good. It is not enough, however. Finally, it will be "just me."

Just me is too private, and dependent on personality. Not large enough to bring in the Chrsit figure who is larger than my life.

A good dose of this interior life would do us a world of good.