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."