Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgeralds' third book, The Great Gatsby (1925) stands solo as his supreme achievement.

T.S. Eliot claims he read it three times and viewed it as the first step of American fiction since Henry james.

"The charm and beauty of the writing," notes H. L. Mencken's praise of it, as well as the sharp social sense of this new American humor, is caught in a conflict of spiriuality in a web of our own commercial life.

Spirituality is about awakening the sleeping self and attuning one's self to be aware once more in a time and society when so many, so much is numbed by so much work, shopping, sex, drugs, caffeine, gambling, or, your own addictive and attachment disorder.

Both boisterous and tragic, this story is motivated by whimsical magic and a simple pathos that is realized with economy and restraint.

This reader found the book to be curious, mystical (head over heel in love with the Creator and meaning in one's living) and glamorous.

A current critique of culture today, the tome takes a deeper slice at American life than hithrto has been essayed by Mr. Fitzgerald, Edwin Clark of the New York Times noted in April, 1925.

It brings to life a tale of the 20s when gin was thenational drink and sex was the national obsession.

Like much of today's tale, sad to confess.

Driven Sons

We hear about them all the time.

Nothing pleases them. They're driven to do more. Satisfaction seems far from them.

Often, they are sons of a parent who drank.

These sons learned the classic characteristics of adult children of an alcoholic parent: Don't trust, talk or feel.

I know.

I had to re-learn them after undoing them in years of counseling with a counselor who was also a child of a parent who drank as she grew up.


There's something in their eyes, posture and place in life.

Their dads, like mine, perhaps, meant well but was not present to affirm probably because his own birth mom died when he was six-months old. His dad remarried and his stepmother was the family secret in her abusiveness that, no doubt, she experienced growing up also.

Call it original sin.

People pass on what they learned.

They live what they learned from significant parents.

Unless they undo toxic tapes, they will project this on to others for the remainder of their living years on earth.

Treatment works.

I know.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Head Over Heels in Love

Parents are.


Especially when mom and dad see their baby for the first time.

"The most objective information you can give a woman is seeing her baby on a TV screen. No words are necessary as smiles beam from the happy parents," H. John Barkay, D.O., a retired family physicain once told me.

It's true. I've watched myself as I was given the privilege to peak in on the sacred, little life swimming about inside mom's holy tabernacle of life.

How grateful I was to view the baby in the womb.


Life is clearly there. No doubt about it.

Too think that one can decide when life starts. I prefer favoring what I see with my own two eyes than academics debating about when lift starts.

Now, the quality of life this little one may be given while in our outside of the womb is another matter, isn't it? Yet, the primary motive for life must always be to support this gift and prioritize all else around the baby.

And, the Knights of Columbus Bishop Gallagher Council in Royal Oak, MI., for whom I serve as chaplain, have been giving women facing crisis pregnancies the chance to see that image since they launched the Ultrasound Initiative in 2009.


Close to 200 such ultrasound machines are availalbe now throughout the USA, thanks to the Knights of Columbus. And, those who give life a chance beyond personal agendas that may shrink to one's own wants.

Clearly, I trust the quality of life will be given to every life in and outside the womb.

Efforts to that end are primary. To even think about partial birth abortion, or termination of the life earlier bothers me no end. I'd love to engage in a conversation with moms who think otherwise. I wonder so often why a mother considers abortion in the first place. Don't get me wrong, this foundational issue has me respecting all other moral concerns as well, but I'd like to hear from parents along with others who seem to always drive this life issue.

Abortions are left out when mom and dad see the graphic image of life to behold, thanks be to God! Studies prove that, and, I'm grateful.

Tell the Good News!

Let life live in 2012!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Passionate Mayor, MOSES, Clergy Meet Monday

A passionate Mayor James R. Fouts, MOSES executive director, G. Ponsella Hardaway, and I met Monday for more than an hour in a heated exchange about saving Detroit.

The clarity and courage to speak up is the type I have not been part of for a while.

Security, crime, fear, blight and effective leaders who listen and act, stirred as the three of us went at it. Mayor Fouts pushed back his schedule to keep talking in this dialogue.

Clearly, this mayor does not lead by committee, or, recommendations always. Fiery Fouts will stand up and speak up as others sit.

Spontaneity has all three of us voicing our love for Motown.

We wondered if Mayor Dave Bing listens as the prospect of an emergency manager hangs over his daily work.

We worried that unless citizens, civic and church leaders speak up in solidarity soon, it may be too late.

We concluded that Detroit could be great again if action precedes personal glory and agendas.
Like Chicago and New York, Detroit once starred as the city to head to often.

People need a reason to go to downtown Detroit like we did on the bus to Hudson's, or to movies that initially showed in Detroit before they came to the suburbs months later, Mayor Fouts recalled.

Money needs to be spent at home not in useless wars in Iraq and elsewhere, we contend.

Fouts Forum a show on his Warren cable television, an opinion piece written by the three of us,
letters to Sandy Levin, and, other representatives were also suggested for this sleepy nation and town.

Banks have to be accountable. Ron Paul, the Texas congressman and medical doctor, got praise, while Macy's was mentioned to move into a Detroit location to bring people to Motown.

Fear seems to lock sides into postures that keep a the divide alive.

The late Father William Cunnigham and Eleanor Josasitis of Focus:HOPE were the last leaders who gathered city and suburban high school students in Holly, MI., for example, to address the distrust between city and suburban dwellers in 1968, when Detroit was racially rocked.

Clean, safer, cooperative cities will work, Fouts claimed loud and clear.

Fouts' hero is President Harry Truman who integrated the military, was the first president to address the NAACP, and more, according to the Mayor who seemed occupied with the "age issue" revolving around a technicality, he admits.

Own it, claim it as your own, and, move on, it was suggested Monday.

This hardworking, decent and daunting leader deserves to address issues his heart and mind make him work at despite the media's persistence before his overwhelming mayoral victory in November.

Detroit need Mayor Fouts.

And, Mayor Fouts would probably recognize that Detroit needs him, and the entire metropolitan region needs each other to join forces to save the City we love, learned from, grew up in, and need to stand up for NOW as it bleeds endlessly.

But, can't forever.

God bless Detroit and the suburbanites to forge rapport with Motown now.

Raise up, O God, leaders after the heart of Jesus, who will tend to Detroit in ICU these days.

We are our neighbor's keeper.

The book of Genesis said it long before any of us did.

Who will lead?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Economy different from empire's economy

An economy of sacred scriptures differs from the empire's economy.

Widows, orphans, and immigrants, among others,who are most vulnerable in and outside the womb are to be cared for the good book notes.

God's plan for dismantling inequality, relinquishing and forgivng debts, redistributing property, care for creation and goods, and setting captives free is paramount.

Prophets speak up while others sit or collect so much that some people lease storage bins.

Rebirth and redistribution go together. It is a painful process for those challenged to let go of greed.

Economic sharing was a pivotal foundation of the early Way of Jesus, and the community of believers he attracted by his stunning stories and invitations to follow him.

Love of God and neighbor is a truth worth holding high at a time when people could care less about others, let alone their neighbor or even family.

Neighborhood Watch, an extension of police, the ears and eyes awake to suspicious activity in a community, aims to get neighbors to unite in solidarity against predators.

Don't get mad at me. I'm simply the messenger. Perhaps the president is facing opposition at everything he seems to suggest these days largely because he seems to know something about Catholic social teaching - a revered body of thought that calls for respect for all people, including those at the bottom, and, hello, the disappearing middle class.

An economy of God's love steers beyond political parties and includes all humans, thanks be to the Creator.

A simple manger scene of Jesus his Christmas season points a way of living simply so that others may simply live.

One cannot mandate redistribution and an economy of God's love. It comes when hearts are changed, when compassion and solidarity in encountered.

One morphed heart at a time yields to inclusion of all beyond class warfare, greed and corruption so current in this culture today.

Come All Ye Faithful

With supposedly the tallest Christ monument soaring 118 feet in Swiebodzin, Poland, and, followers in Rio disputing measurements, the Christmas season continues traditionally for twelve days.

Father Sylwester Zawadzki, 79, is the brainchild of the statue, according to local press, and the Wall Street Journal.

Critics judge that the million-dollar price tag could have been put to better use than the object of veneration for believers.

The town's residents of 22,000 apparently appreciate the tallest Jesus. Other grand plans include a pond and font near the cross for pilgrims, along with accomodations for long-distance guests.

Donations built the statue that competes with the famous Jesus statue, Christ the Redeemer, in Rio de Janiero.

Area Catholics think that the statues in either place are worth the money in a culture that could "use a little Christmas," to borrow from a popular song on radio these days of the Christmas season.

The fraternal Catholic men's service organization, the Knight of Columbus, for example, make available a manger scene that has magnet on the back side to post on metal, or, a refrigerator at home, for example, one area leader chimed in on the matter. "Keep Christ in Christmas" is noted below the holy family scene.

Whatever the opinion of a diverse population, others claim, there's room for Christ.

The current display of the Rembrandt's faces of Jesus at the Detroit Institute of Art, for example, is another illustration of the devotion people have to Jesus.

Statues and monuments seem to be a way for people to preserve their religious beliefs and values.

Those objecting may choose concrete ways to build schools, or, give to the needy.

The current dispute in Warren, a largely Polish community, the manger in the Warren City Hall continues to be protested by atheists. They insist that their signage should go next to the holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Warren Mayor Jim Fouts objects, stating that would cause disruption as he keeps the peace in his Catholic city, among the largest in Michigan.

At the strike of midnight on December 25th, all songs and hymns of Christmas cheer will seize and give way to media's songs of the culture once more.

Conversations are created and stirred with all the protestation on these matters.

Faith matters.

America's immigration of Poles, among others, proves that this land is a diverse one that has, and continues to make room for all peoples, especially those who want a taste of freedom beyond the oppression they flee.

Everyone matters. You included. Those theological principles ring out loud and clear.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

People and Forgiveness

While leaders often spend other people's money without asking them, I wonder how it is that the people of God still forgive them for frivolous spending, and more.

People generously give and forgive, and give again.

While pressed Sunday after Sunday, it seems, they continue to give.

What gives?

I'm not complaining that the people are bailing out the Archdiocese of Detroit after a $47 million dollar loan on the John Paul II Museum in Washington, D.C., and a $200-million-dollar debt left to the current head of the AOD.

Waves over time at parishes in perhaps the largest capital campaign ever are making progress at the AOD and a dent is being put in the debt, but I think Catholics are forgiving and giving, and still giving again. And, then some.

Praise to them.

Many pastors opposed the campaign given the economy but leaders decided to move ahead and ask.

And, apparently, people are giving.

I just wondered about how forgiving people are for leaders like the former Mayor of Detroit and the former Archbishop of Detroit who put the city and church id such debt.

Says a lot about Catholics. And, about forgiving.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Neighbors Watch, Alert to Suspicious Activity

Even though they're fighting mad about the escalating home invasions, and more, in Clinton Township, Michigan these days, they are positive and taking action to stem the tide in their changing neighborhood.

There's Captain Bruce Wade and Kathy Voss with Thomasina Schenk, among a packed house at Saint Claude Chapel last night who met and led once more the nationally effective Neighborhood Watch, an extension of the police.

Ears and eyes for the community, people are waking up in a sleeping nation. People are standing up against thugs in favor of a secure quality of life in Macomb County, Michigan, and elsewhere.

The crowd was engaged Monday night in the pastorally plush Saint Claude's Chapel on the campus of Saint Thecla Church, a merger forged when few priests are available for a resident pastor at both St. Claude and St. Thecla. So, Father Doug Bignall said YES to lead both.

However, one can only spread self so much, and one of the places gets less attention and pastoral care.

Yet, people are taking the lead as it should be. They're stepping out in faith.

Like they did last night when people kept pouring into the 6:30 pm Neighborhood Watch meeting.

They're mounting an offense. They're lining their windows along Beaconsfield and Little Mack, and more, for example, with bright red signs of solidarity, coupled with watchful eyes on would-be criminals taking advantage of the vulnerable and property people invested their saving into all their working days.

They'll meet again January 11, 2012 in Rainbow Elementary School at 5:45 pm. For more information and to get in on the action, the face off with crime, if you will, contact, or call St. Thecla/St. Claude Catholic Church at 586 791 3930.

Parishioners and residents are taken their leader, Jesus, seriously, "to love your neighbor as yourself." as the Good Book notes.

Happy 80th Eleanor Josaitis of Focus:HOPE

Dear Eleanor:

Happy birthday!

I heard you turned 80 last Saturday. You never wanted to talk about your age, I recall, yet, you had a full life, very full indeed. It was tough watching you pass over last August in Angela Hospice, but, we all aim for heaven unless other plans are in mind, no?

You are still a living lamp amid a dark society. You light up a room, give hope, shine radiant and wax eloquently by your life. Without drama, you led, and, lived a life full of love and service for your family, for Focus:HOPE, for my Motown.

Keep spending your heaven here on earth, dear friend, doing so much good here with the likes of Ken Untener, William Cunnigham, Mother Theresa, my grandparents and parents, and so many ordinary others who lived life to the full. By their fruits you shall know them, the master, Jesus said. Fruit galore in you, others for sure.

With Saint Francis of Assisi, Italy, you preached with your life and used words when necessary.


I miss you so much.

Your inspiration to found Focus:HOPE with Father William Cunningham after the civil unrest in Detroit in 1968 moves me much to do and be for others, for Motown, for hope, for much more.

At the Detroit Isaac Agree Synagogue, downtown on Griswold at Clifford, earlier today we talked with the Rabbi and half a dozen others about concrete ways suburbanites could assist my Motown. I think you, Eleanor, had a hand in guiding me there over my young years up to this ripe age.
Later, Robert Waters of Hope Center in Clinton Township, and I participated in a Neighborhood Watch meeting at Saint Claude Chapel on Beaconsfield, north of Fourteen Mile Road. "Love your neighbor as yourself," Jesus mandated, and so, can we do any less?

You seemed to steer and aim high. Still are.

And, Fr. Cunningham, and Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, all outstanding lights, lamps for me, for many, for young people.

You reminded me of Matthew's Gospel, chapter 25.

Faith is in the streets where people live, work, die even. They give good news. The corporal and spiritual works of mercy my Catholic faith teach from the life of Jesus, our leader.

You, with my dear parents, moved me to hope and believe by showing me with your life how to be grounded in God, the Maker, my help.

You built bridges. Imagined a new Detroit. Your were the engine with Focus:HOPE, among the first female CEOs when Fr. Cunnigham's life went out. You steered a grateful City.

Bridging 8 Mile is Re-Imagining the Detroit Community Jan. 14 and 15th (313 492 7702).

You showed us how to imagine hope and realize it daily as you tirelessly gave and forgave and gave again. And, again.

People call 211 for assistance through the United Way if they are homeless today.

You made me notice ways like that to serve and stoop low. Countless more.

After all, you stood up when others simply sat and said nothing.

Thank you for the virtue or strength of evergreen hope.

From your place in heaven, please keep sending Light!

You know we need it.

I love you.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

It's a first of its kind in the Catholic community's story and is a costly advertizing blitz aiming to attract back lapsed Catholics and search out new recruits.

An impressive and comprehensive profile of the Church, this online promotion has never been tried before in such an extensive and far-reaching way.

What will Catholics be coming home to is a question some inquirers are asking?

With embedded video from movies like Martin Sheens, The Way, and, testimonies of those who came back, teachings on heaven, grief, death, reconciliation, and more, its reach markets a program for seekers and searchers of a home church. merits a peek.

It appears to want to do much of the formation of Catholics online from a central base.

Home is not described, but live testimonies and tales are told by those giving the Church a second chance.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

LOVE GOD/NEIGBOR: Support for Detroit

Monday, Dec. 19th, an All Faiths Festival meeting is set for 4-5 pm in the Isaac Agree Downtown Detroit Synagogue, 1457 Griswold St. The theme is Love God/Neighbor Support for Detroit. For more information, call (248) 543 4255, (313) 729 8035, or (586) 530 7576.

This third in a series of meetings with citizens, civic and clergy leaders and officials of the City of Detroit aims to offer concrete ways suburbanites will support its neighbor. Another gathering is set for Monday, January 23, 2012 from 10:30 am -12 noon in the Fraser Pubic Library when the public is invited to offer ways to support Detroit.

At 6:30 pm the same day, Dec. 19th, residents of Clinton Township will meet in Saint Claude Chapel, on Beaconsfield, north of 14 Mile Road for a Neigbhorhood Watch summit as day-time home invasians mount in the area, according to organizers.

"People are fighting mad to take back their streets," one leader said, "and, as people of hope we won't fight but will be watching to alert police of suspicious activitity on our block," the 64-year-old, continued.

Inclusive Communities Uniting (ICU) was founded last January when home invasians in Harrison Township ticked off residents who organized a Neighborhood Watch as it mounts its ow defense against criminal behavior.

They're assessing love of God/neighbor, the golden rule, planners said of Monday's meeting. "And, we're not good at loving our neighbor, let alone knowing them, or our ailing Detroit neighbor," another area resident charged.

Leaders hope all of that will change while they turn to the golden rule. They're hoping for a little help from a higher power.

Friday, December 16, 2011


It's about resolving issues, and, reasoning.

A best book I ever read on suffering by Peter Kreeft of Boston College, stirred me to take another look at Saint Thomas Acquinas, a philosopher who combined common sense and profundity.

Kreeft's intellectual conversion was motivated by Thomas. No Protestant philospher came close, Kreeft said, except Kierkegaard, an irrationalist.

Kreeft claims that he went to Saint Mary's Church at Yale to ask about becoming a Catholic since he was convinced that the Church was the Church founded by Christ for all, and "therefore for me, and that to ignore or refuse her was to ignore or refuse him, because he is where ever his body is -- as we are."

Thamas' common sense showed in these examples:

The primary meaning of "being" is that which is," that which exists. Essences are relative to EXISTENCE, potentialities for existence. Nothing is more concrete and simple that that: TO BE OR NOT TO BE, THAT IS THE QUESTION.

Thomas settled a dispute among monks about whether or not the contemplative life was intrinsically superior to the active life by saying that the most perfect life is both contemplative and active, like Christ's.

Contemplation of truth, one's highest good, must be shared and activity must be conformed to reality, which is known by contemplation of the mind.

His cure for "sadness of soul" (called depression today) is a glass of wine, a hot bath, and a good night's sleep.

Addiction is explained by Thomas using the example of sex addiction:

"Man cannot live without joy. That is why when deprived of true spiritual joys he must go over to carnal pleasures."

Open to new insights, Kreeft notes that Thomas influence the late Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body, the Church''s answer to the great heresy of our time, the "sexual revolution."

Kreeft asserts that the Church is in the heresy-hunting business because every heresy harms humanity, and She loves humanity because She is the voice of the ONe who created and designed it.

Finally, Thomism always connects contemplation and preaching, for example, and the teaching of it, and with action and life. Kreeft recomends that pators read Thomas before preaching if they want the listener's attention.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Immigrants Get Huge Hug

Welcome to America!

Immigrants got a huge hug this week with a wordy letter from 33 bishops.

"We recognize that every human being, authorized or not, is an image of God and therefore possesses value and dignity," noted the missive that was released Monday on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Signed by Hispanic/Latino Bishops who serve immigrants, they recognized how "you feel ignored or abandoned, especially when no objection is raised to the false impressions that are promoted within our society."

It was described as their own very special version of the Mananitas, according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops media blog.

"We promise to keep working to bring about this change," the bishops pledged, including Detroit's Arturo Cepeda, referring to reform of immigration law. At least one Republican candidate seeking the nomination for U.S. President, supported illegal families who have lived twenty-five years in this country, for example.

Concluding the eight-page letter with a usual blessing, the local and national leaders admitted that "it pains and saddens us that many of our Catholic brothers and sisters have not supported our petitions for changes in the immigration law that will protect your basic rights while you contribute your hard work to our country."

In Oakland County, and elsewhere, local groups wondered why immigrants were singled out for support while others also feel excluded from this nation and Church.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

John the Baptist

He's a wild man who dressed in camel hair and ate locust and wild honey.

Not a conventional kind of guy.

Yet, this John the baptist, who appears out of nowhere, it seems, leads guys and gals into the deep.

That is, into the spiritual life deep inside.

Although he seems to have lost his influence and power in church circles, John the Baptist is a mentor for men, especially, in his unusual ways of leading, healing, and helping usher in fresh air.

Today, I doubt that John would be welcomed into sanctuaries. He's much too different for people today. Anything and anyone different, these days, seems to frighten folks. Society has never recovered from 9/11's fear-enveloping posture that seems to choke life out of many.

Of John, Jesus, a contemporary, shouts:

"I tell you solemnly, of all the children born of women, a greater than John the Baptist has never been seen." (Matthew 11:11)

John gets things started for "the Way" and moves out of the way for one who is to come who is far more light, namely, Jesus. But, it takes a starter to get the ball rolling. John the Baptist did just that, and more.

John exits the stage for Jesus in a gentle way, but with a little help from Salome and her platter.

Social sin is attacked by John. The least are lifted up. Those oppressing others are to go!

John steers clear of temple-controlled religion.

John went by the river Jordan forgiving sin and shouting repentance.

The Jerusalem establishment goes out to check John's credentials, even orthodoxy (John 1:19).

He is a deep sort of guy. Culture today needs starters with depth to lead households, fractured families, and organizations that have embraced greed and corruption on the backs of middle class citizens of heaven and earth.

"I am just a voice. . ." John said. He cries out in the wilderness. Much like talking to a door, John knows who is is, however. He knows his role, and, has boundaries.

John has a freedom from himself, his ego, sufficient to get things started and get out of the way.

A deepr life, and inner morphing comes with Jesus, the way, truth, and life.

He excells at his job. But most are not Baptists today. Most are Christian even though it is a far cry from what Jesus brought centuries ago.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Advent Reconciliation

A crowd of Catholics arrived to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation.

This sacrament prepares one to receive the Eucharist at Mass. An examination of conscience was led by the presider as he walked the assembly through the ten commandments. Short, vivid questions were asked of those present as they assessed their daily living.

Did money, power, or sex dominate my love for God primarily, was one such question.
Such behavior violates the first commandment: I am the Lord your God. You shall not have strange gods before me. Biblical basis for them emerge from Deuteronomy 5 and Exodus 20 where the commandments are noted.

Participants approached one of several confessors to audibly voice violations of God's laws.

After a penance and absolution was given to the penitent by the priest, those present returned to their pew to pray an act of sorrow or contrition resolving to sin no more.

This powerful sacrament is healing in many ways.

Scriptures state that it is important for believers to confess their sins one to another.

Even more importantly, Jesus is to have told apostles that they may forgive sins.

Advent, a time of joyful preparation for the anniversary of the birth of Jesus, involves four weeks to make a difference.

Trappist Thomas Merton said this:

"We do not understand that this business about the crib is the real revolution that once for all turned everything upside-down so that nothing has ever been, or can ever be, the same again."

Advent is an appropriate time to return to the Lord, the real Jesus as Christians know him as the historical Jesus and the Christ of faith.

Jesus is far from a plastic Jesus made in one's own image and likeness.

No, believers imitate his real presence as it is recorded in sacred scripture.

How far have we distanced ourselves from the Jesus of two thousand years ago?

If one is to know Jesus, one has to hang out with him in his Word, and, in prayer.

We come to know family and friends, and, spouse, by spending quality time with them, no?

Monday, December 12, 2011


So much suffering seems to fill so many these days.

Fracture in families.

Attachment disorders to drugs, gambing, sex, shopping, work, chocolate.

Is your attachment listed?

Pain everywhere.

Yet, little motivation to move on from suffering.

Being aware of such suffering may be difficult given denial of addiction disorders.

Awake, aware and attuned to the ache is key naming, claiming and by the grace, favor or blessing of God, taming addictions and other dysfunctions.

Acceptance helps when it comes to suffering.

If one becomes a friend of one's suffering, she or he may begin to tame the ache.

Accept and befriend suffering?

You got to be kidding?

Yes, giving it energy by fighting it will only cause deeper addiction. You will lose. The attachment will win over you.

Calmng down, being still will help the stress created in trying to control the pain.

For Christians, suffering is a common encounter to overcome by acceptance to move on past it.

Suffering, dying and rising is part of the package for believers.

One gets to the prize, the crown, the recovery by way of prayer and facing the masks on wears.

The process means uncovering and taking off the masks one wears, known as the false self, and discovering the love of God. That's similar to a light switch that activates a light in a room, for example. Recovery follows. Divine union brings recovery when one finally runs, as it were, into the arms of the Beloved, namely God.

Being still daily and simply letting go of thoughts and distractions - BEING - twice daily for twenty minutes a session, brings healing, fixing, morphing. Nothing, nada, no thing is required except, like Mary, mother of Jesus, BEING.

With Mary, one joins her saying: Let it be!

Try it! It costs nothing to pray and be in communion with the Maker. Ask your clergy leader to help you if you are unable to sit still some. Or, you may need a counselor. But, help is here and
healing with the fullness of life is possible.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

My Motown Motor City Mending!

We did.

When Detroit was down in need of your hand, and, hope, we told you so.

When we asked you to help and come, we told you so. We rang out: HELP!

We told you when my Motown was ailing in need of a neighbor's tender stooping to lift life up, to serve, to save, to share.

When a series of Love God/Love Neighbor: Detroit events were set, we told you so.
And WWJ All New Radio 950 AM told you too!

We did. We wanted you to to be part of our emergency team and ICU.

When Roseville Sacred Heart Catholic Church hosted a session last Monday, a dozen strong stood with Detroit's Mayor and spoke up to provide salve for my City. After all, I grew up there on Lynch Road and Van Dyke, near the Detroit City Airport that still lives!

Concrete ideas to save Detroit were hatched in Dearborn again this past Friday also at the Karbala Mosque, Eduction Center and Museum with Imam Hasha Al-Husainy, a vibrant and enthusiastic pastoral leader. The Imam spoke of a proposal for international manufacturing in the home he fled decades ago. He spoke of an automobile assembly plant in Iraq where the U.S. pulls out December 20th.

The good Imam wants Detroit to be there to build autos.

He spoke of a plan he presented to the former Governor Granholm for Michigan jobs. It was widely and well received, the Imam complained. What happened? Out loud, he wondered what happened to his proposal a few years ago. Did someone steal away his idea?
Did bureacracy bury it? What? At the meeting Friday with Dion Williams, the business and faith-based manager for the City of Detroit, the Imam pitched this proposal with suburbanites from Dearborn, Clinton Township, and Harrison Township residents who are enduring and daunting lights glowing with more than goodwill to fix a broken city.

"Perhaps faith is the answer," State Representative Harold Haugh of Roseville and part of Fraser, said. Faith will move mountains, and move us to to make a miracle and save Detroit.
We told you so, and the Scriptures also to love God and neighbor, so did Channel 2 Fox News, and WDIV. God's watching and wanting us to help, for sure! Our great God of love must be smiling on the little lights lifting my town!

The hymn, Amazing Grace, rang out with Pastor Anthony Whitehorn of Mt. Clemens, Marge Hallman of East Pointe, Al Bileti of Fraser St. Athanasius Church, Donna Mesyn of St. Thecla Church, and Lyn Vogler of Clinton Township, Robert Waters of Hope Center on Groesbeck, north of Fourteen, who resides in Harrison Township, Mohamed Abass of the American-Islamic Community Center in Madison Heights, who recently married and lives in Sterling Heights now, the mending Rabbi Modehai Waldman of Berkley, formerly of a Temple in Mt. Clemens, Abdulla of Dearborn, who rode his bicycle twenty-two miles to pray and attend Friday's meeting to pray with us at Karbala was also there.

They'll be there to greet you at lunch Friday, Dec. 16 at 12:30 in Laikon's Cafe at 569 Monroe in Detroit's Greektown by St. Mary's Catholic Church, and the Greektown Casino. And, before that at 11:40 am the same day in Saints Peter and Paul Jesuit Church, join me for Mass in the first Cathedral of the historic Detroit Diocese at 438 St. Antoine at Jefferson (across from the GM/Ren Cen). And, on Monday, Dec. 26th from 6-9 pm, join me once more at SS. Peter and Paul (via the Larned UDM Law School Parking Lot gardenway entrance) for a benefit for the Warming Center of this church to share left-over food from Christmas Day, and, to hear some funny faith stories and humor. Visit this gem of a church, this gem of my Motown Downtown Detroit.

And, Rabbi Dorit Edut of downtown Detroit's Isaac Agree Synagogue at 1457 Griswold (at Clifford, 248 543 4255, will be on hand Monday, Dec. 19th at 4-5 pm to greet you and lead us in Love God/Love Neighbor:Detroit, an All Faiths Festival (AFF) initiative. Mayor Dave Bing and the City Council, and more, have been invited to all these events to build bonds and bridges with the 'burbs and beyond with my Motown.

From the Downtown Detroit Isaac Agree Synagogue, Dec. 19th, some of us will head to St. Claude Catholic Chapel at 33826 Beaconsfield, north of 14 Mile Road in Clinton Township for a 6:30 pm Neighborhood Watch meeting where neighbors will forge a front and mount a defense to keep our cities clean and safe and neighborly. Let Dawn at St. Thecla know you're coming at 586 791 3930, or me at 586 530 7576. We want to set up for all these events and appreciate knowing that we need to put out a chair and table setting for you, our neighbor!

Little lights -- each is -- making lots of light and love for the City we love, our neighbor, ailing in emergency, hoping believers will visit, pray, serve, give, get, go to Motown now, today, tonight, tomorrow, forever!

There is a balm to heal and salve and save my City that's broke. Faith's miracle will mend and see us through the tunnel with your hands, heart and help please. With you, we will strengthen family and faith and finances, and security, and Detroit's gem, and, quality of life in the region with ICU, Inclusive Communities Uniting, we will! As Detroit goes, so goes the region, State, and . . .

Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth!

We told you so. . .now help mend my Motown, and make a miracle and more! Step up! Wait no longer to make a difference when Detroit is down.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Boy Named Juan Diego

On this day in 1531, a boy named Diego passed a hill at Tepeyac, near Mexico City today.

A voice called him by name as he walked. A young Indian maiden instructed him to go to the local bishop and tell him to build an edifice on this hill to the mother goddess.

After three attempts, Juan was received, given a sign of roses and a photo of Our Lady in his tilma, cape.

And the cult of Our Lady of Guadalupe was born, the Indian name of the Lady was rendered in Spanish.

A fusion among the Spanish and indigenous races and cultures blended.

A conversion of souls happened with a boy called Juan.

Millions of Aztecs were baptized. Even more importantly, the poor were raised up. Banners with Our Lady's image were carried by the peasant army of Emiliano Zapata durind the Mexican Revolution.

Cesar Chavez of the U.S. Farmworkers carried her image on the picket line.

She symbolizes a church celebrating today diversity. One that empowers the poor, and speaks with the voice of compassion.

Where such a church lives, roses bloom in December.

All because of a boy called Juan Diego.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fear, Lack of Trust Turns Suburban, City Dwellers Backs on One Another

Trust will turn my hometown around.

It will. Trust me.

It will also diminish the fear that is paralyzing and immobilizing people from visiting, living or encountering Detroit these past few decades.

Fear of the foreign, unfamiliar and unknown prevents people of the suburbs from encountering and experiencing City dwellers.

I grew up in Motown, the city I love to this day.

Crossing the divide of city boundaries will fill the gap and bridge 'burbs and Detroit, and more.

Until action is taken to cross Eight Mile Road, for example, the mistrust and fear will prevent progress in Detroit and its financial and ethical crisis ruining it today. A similar saga presents and awaits itself to play out in the suburbs who have similar issues of fractured families, drugs, crime and a lack of faith in the home.

Faith will chase the fear and ever so slowly begin to replace fear with hope and promise again where trust turns hearts toward one another.

Turned backs will be replaced by faces looking each other in the eyes and engaging decency and faith once more in a broken town.

What can be done?

Concretely, one can befriend a family or household in Detroit or the suburbs. Places of worship and their leaders can facilitate face to face encounters. They can.

Exit fear.

Enter trust over time.

Fix Detroit with faith. Money is not enough to solve Motown's woes.

Goodwill is not enough, a reporter complained, when leaders met to address the ruin of Detroit
Monday in Roseville, MI.

The divide keeps people afraid and locked into their own turf.

The answer rests in the founder of the Catholic Worker, a movement this most influential and significant figure in the history of American Catholicism, founded in 1933.

Day noted:

"Love is the measure, but to truly love each other, we must first know each other, and to know each other, we must first listen to each other, and to listen to each other, we must first slow down enough to simply be with each other. But our society and our systems don't want us to slow down. Our society and systems want us to speed up in order to increase economic growth and wealth. Yet the true prophets of our age reject this way, and embrace instead slowing down, to be with each other, to listen to each other, to know each other and to love each other because, as we know, love is the measure."

It is.

No amount of money will save Detroit.

People will. Trust and fearlessness will turn hearts toward each other once more.

Faith, for sure, can no longer be dismissed as the answer.

It will fix the problem, remove fear, and bridge the deep divide between Detroit and the suburbs.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Clergy, Others to Meet to 'Love Neighbor', Detroit, as Self

Frazier Kimpson of Detroit Mayor Bing's office will be there.

With Rabbi Mordehai Waldman of Berkley, MI., and Sterling Heights' Mohamed Abbass of the All Faiths Festival (AFF), and Pastor Anthony Whitehorn of Mt. Clemens, and some Roseville city council leaders will meet at Sacred Heart Church at 18430 Utica Road at Gratiot in Roseville at 10 am this morning.

"Love Neighbor" is the aim. Support Detroit, ailing as Motown, Michigan is these days.

We will.

We'll stand together and do what we can to assist our good neighbor.

Our faith forges us together.

Faith spurs us on to lead, to love, to give what we can.

Catholic social thought teaches that: You matter. Everyone else matters.

Two principles upon which charity flows.

Some may think this is a noble deed. Perhaps. It is necessary, nevertheless, for leaders to lock limbs and lift up Detroit.

Join us at 10 am, or call me at 586 777 9116.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Terrible Times

Such bad news seems to envelope us these days.

I hear sad stories daily.

More home foreclosures, family fracturing, addiction and attachment disorders, conflict and my Motown in crisis in Detroit, Michigan, where I grew up.

A mother told of her 22-month-old who died suddenly of fecal toxicity. A cousin called to tell me her son had bi-pass surgery again in Henry Ford downtown.

Perhaps some of the news attracts me given my pastoral heart and role as a counselor. I don't know.

But there is a lot of tragedy these days in troubling times.

The foundation of our society - the family - is shaky and few seem to stand up in support of this pivotal unit.

Someone called and wondered about the position of partial birth abortion by the Governor, and a few others, that bothers this 81-year-old mother who was born into a family of nine children with respect for life from early on until one's final breath.

We could talk about her concerns. Dialog helps. Yelling does no one any good, we all know.

Some worry about how we're due to be dumped on with a snow blast.

Terrible times in fear.

Living a moment at a time works well for me. Coupled with a fear-free life, I get along not worrying about tomorrow. God is already there.

O God,
fear knocks at the door,
faiths answers, and
no one is there.

Thanks be to you in
Jesus who says, and others
who are wise, that fear is
useless - what's needed is

How consoling, O Creator!


Friday, December 2, 2011

Clergy, Others to Meet to 'Love Neighbor', Detroit, as Self

Clergy, among other advocates of the city of Detroit are set to support the Detroit City Council and Mayor Dave Bing, Monday, Dec. 5, 2011 at 10 am in the parish office center of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 18430 Utica Road at Gratiot, in Roseville.

We hope to love God and neighbor as the scriptures of all world religions mandate, among other faith traditions.

We'll take our lead from what the City Council or Mayor suggest we do, and, to assist in spiritual and other ways to 'rev' up more hope, life and promise in our beloved and ailing neighbor.

Neighbors in the 'burbs, and, the city need to connect and raise up each other as we stoop to serve in the spirit of Jesus who told us to love our neighbor as our self.

We love self enough to love Detroit as much then.

Can we do anything less for a broken city we grew up in and benefited from in countless ways?

For more information contact me at 586 530 7576 or 586 777 9116.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Elder Sage Cares for Saint Claude Chapel in Clinton Township

Warren Purcell works daily at sawing fallen tree branches, shaping the evergreen trees, and more, at Saint Claude Chapel on Beaconsfield, north of Fourteen Mile Road in Clinton Township.

He was "buzzing" away at the branches to pile at his "FREE Fire Wood" sign when I stopped by to greet the 82-year-old parishioners who stewards well the multi-acre pastoral property that belongs to the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit's Archbishop. Landlords from a distance, however, don't seem to keep an eye on precious, God-given land, like the investment of local residents.

Numerous people like Mr. Purcel manage to give weekly offerings to the upkeep of the aging buildings and sprawling wooded-area that "makes me peaceful," Mr. Purcell admits.

After thanking him for his enduring care for Saint Claude's, one of the merged parishes, with more to come soon, the life he pours into this evergreen wooded-area makes this writer, at least, feel good when it seems that there is only bad news coming out of Catholic communities these days. Insufficient numbers of priests and fewer baptized babies works against what were vigorous churches half a century ago. My parents were among those who made parishes thrive while so much implodes these days.

One person at a time is how Jesus seemed to care for his flock. And, it will take others, like Mr. Purcell, to keep an eye on elderly or abandoned edifices as he ages well chopping wood and trimming trees these days as snow holds off.

Thanks be to God. Sto lat! (Polish for "one hundred years," may he live).

December Days, Daze

Somehow, my e-mail account was re-directed.

Contrived, whoever did it intended harm. And, wanted money sent to Madrid since I was ambushed and hospitalized.

Twice now this hacking happened.

Calls of concern poured in early today. Glad people checked before sending requested money in this horror story. What others must go through also. Man's inhumanity to man!

Here we go again trying to restore the system.

One's entire system has to be restored. All data needs to be erased. The computer has to be set like when it was purchased brand new.

There is no way to police such activity, I'm told.

The hacker(s) secure password or code and go to it.


When will all this end?

Or, will it do us in? As so many are expereincing these days. And, left hanging there to fix the problem.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

As Detroit Goes, So Goes. . .

Other towns may think they're far from the cancerous microcosm of problems that plague Detroit.

Decades ago, I remember demographers predicting that as Detroit goes, so goes the rest of the nation.

Fractured foundations of family and households, business collapses and moral failure pervades Motown. In a smaller way, however, similar pathologies press the outer-most rings of rural towns in Michigan, and elsewhere nationally.

People talk and seem to peep about the problems poking but some seem to simply dismiss the issues as Detroit's to settle alone.

I think not.

The domino effect seems to down houses, sales, businesses and the quality of life everywhere these days.

Will residents rise up and reclaim neighborhoods by first fixing the family?

After all, is not the family the foundation of society? If the community goes by way of weakend households, will not more of the same corruption and demise raise its ugly head?

Together States grow firm. Testaments to the past prove this well before World War II.
Hands, hearts and minds, firmly gripped in getting the job done of raising families well works best.

Who will lead if not dad, mom, young people, clergy and community and civic luminaries who care deeply?


Will you rise while others sit or say little that builds and mends so much collapsing before the eyes of all?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

For 4 Decades at Mass: The Lord be with you!

And, the Catholic assembly responded: And also with you!

But today, the first Sunday of Advent --that prepares Christians for the anniversary of the birth of Jesus, and his eventual second coming -- across America, and other English-speaking nations, people will respond:

And with your spirit!

The hour-long Mass remembering the Lord's final supper before his crucifixion will end with the same pair of phrases to close the loop's start and finish. The mission of taking the "good news" of Jesus to the world at work, school, or home begins afresh for Catholics today when they arrive to fill their obligation to participate at Mass.

More than words, however, make Mass work, if you will, to inspire and mend and morph hearts to enlarge and reach out like the worshipper's leader, Jesus, who clearly set the table to reform and renew often tired and tried hearts.

And, today's joblessness and bleak economy has these 28 dark days of Advent's work cut out for us. Dim, depressing darkness encompasses many, along with so many living in poverty.

It's the latest, and some say final revision in words at Mass since English made its debut and Latin is less used, although it is still the offical language of the Western or Roman Rite.

A new Roman Missal, ritual text of prayers and instructions for celebrating Mass is unveiled.

It is a thick tome.

Changing words must be met, however, with hearts changed, and morphing, in the spirit of "full, active and conscious participation" in the Mass. Vatican II called for that kind of participation.
And words help Mass-goers do that. Hearts, however, are inspired not solely with a litany of texts from the head, but by those that move one deeper to his or her heart.

People will want to be inspired when they head to worship this Sunday morning.

Words help. Yet, at Mass, words applied to music ministry, preaching, and more will tell how effective the new Roman Missal is in moving people's hearts to heal a broken world with God's eternal and unconditional love.

That takes one's entire being. Engagement.

For a complete list of changes to the Catholic Mass prayers and responses, visit the Archdiocese of Detroit website at

And, go in peace when the Mass is ended this high holy day.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Advent for Catholics and Other Christians: I Hope You Dance

Catholics are always exceptional claims noted author and Franciscan priest, Richard Rohr, OFM.

That's true. Exceptional.

Advent is the 28-day season aiming to recall the birth of Jesus the Christ in his first coming as believers wait his coming again a second time at the end of time.

So, we wait but we watch also.

And, we wake up in a world that seems asleep, attached, addicted in a slumber!

Those who trek Advent with a plan know that as one ages, the bones and brain seem to realize that faith is more dark than light.

Faith is like that. However, faith is an illumined darkness.

Like a ray of light, or a sliver of it, it seems just enough to keep on walking in a world bursting with terror, trauma and fear all around everyone these days, it seems.

Four Sundays and weeks before Christmas Day, December 25, 2011, are a time for children and those still with a child within to hear again Isaiah's refrain that a child will lead us!

Is it then a time to play, to laugh, to take ourselves less seriously, even to be silly?

I think so.

Silly, after all, is from the Greek word, "selig," meaning "blessed." That is, consoled in the roller-coater-like ride of the spiritual life we traverse 'til the light goes out for each of us. We die eventually.

We pass over. And, are far from destroyed, but morphed and changed. Even scientists say this. That is, that we are not destroyed -- this temple I am - rather, CHANGED. Amazing grace!

As political debates steal the air on TV, pilgrims who know better than to get crazy about elections so soon center anew on the birth and spontaneity of Jesus who wants us to play and to enjoy life's little trek of five or six or seven decades, or so.

God becomes one like each of us inhabitants on the earth in the moment of Mary's miracle to be the tabernacles and home to the Greatest Story Ever Told!

For sure!

That is a stellar hope heralding confidence to get through these lean and mean days for many.

That light and the sliver it may be for many today is enough to see one through the thick and thin of life's obstacles. We walk through doors, as it were, then. Miracles abound in sharing.

Advent light and hope.

Humans need both.

With the little path of light one shuffles along, moving in "the Way, the Truth and the Life" of Jesus the Christ, the Light of the world. Wonder counselor. Divine healer of hope.

The Hebrews had heightened hopes that the parched land and sandy, dry desert would be transformed into fertile and fruiful soil.

These Old Testament folks forged forth in their ruptured and fractured culture aiming on gathering again despite scattered and frightened hearts like one's own today.

And, forgiving again and again, O stubborn one!

One hopes for a time when war will never come again anywhere. That we would stop this primitive play that devours and smashes human hearts and precious temples.

Debut Peace on Earth, goodwill to all! Exit battle and conflict within where all hate stems.

War never again to our own hearts, homes and streets.

That the blind who call conflict and battle will see.

That the deaf will hear and the lame and wounded walk tall with everygreen hope.

Unlike the unfulfilled dreams in the ancient days of recorded Scriptures, Jesus assures us that God is already in our midst among us. God is. For sure. Mom and dad's dreams give way to the impassioned vocations of their children's own hearts and minds.

Mary and John the Baptist deliver this Advent hope heralding promise. Walk by faith and use words only when necessary. Show God off. Go on. Be Godly for others at home especially.

Favor fills forever the voids and holes hurting lots.

Even the air and dim light and dark feels different these still and quiet days, exploding, however with bombs and violence. Yes, people get depressed but depression is not one's first name. Expression is the opposite of it. Walk. Work. Visit. Call. Whistle. Dance.

A flame burns bright and bells ring out with carols to calm a crazy culture.

For Catholics, and families, and households even of one also, the circular shape of the Advent wreathe and world reminds of the oft-forgotten reality that we are one globe, one precious pie in God's eye! A circle around one table of Word and Sacrament where issues are settled and life gives more birth! Make a round wreathe out of evergreens and light up a candle or two, or three or four each week. Spend some cash. This custom is worth kids watching and lighting daily at supper. Yes, eat together during Advent.


To give faith a fighting chance and fear a chase seems sufficient amid injustice noted in "Justice in the World," a social teaching on its fiftieth anniversary since the world Catholic bishops urged another way with Vatican Council II's fresh air and pastoral hope for those sliced from the global pie.

Leanne Womack's tune tenderly tugs one's inners:


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Day and Remembering, Forgetting Justice in the World

I hated tests while I was in school.

Tests help remember.

And, reminding, Seneca, said, is more important than new information.

Yet, like benchmarks, and keeping one's eye on the prize in the trek through life, students and disciples need to be tested to be reminded later, less they fail to recall lessons learned.

After all, on this Thanksgiving Day proclaimed during the Civil War in 1863 while President Abraham Lincoln was severely tested, Americans need to be formed and prepared by way of education.

It helps to be equipped to contribute and serve well as a resident of a young nation that has known its share of birthpangs.

Forty years ago, an examination of conscience, called, Justice in the World, was issued by the world's Catholic bishops.

They wrote:

"Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformaton of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel, or, in other words, of the church's mission for the redemption of the human race and its liberation from every oppressive situation."

Ed Rowe, a pastor at Central Methodist Church in downtown Detroit, always asks:

"Whatever happened to social justice in the Catholic Church?"

That exam question always stirs within me to get moving and act more justly, love more tenderly and walk more humbly with God, as the prophet Micah shouted in the Old Testament.

Whatever happened to this document?

In the church's proud Catholic social teaching on the dignity of the worker from Pope Leo the XIII in 1892 up to the present day advocates of it, the storied living out of it matters most.

"Justice in the World" depicts God as liberator of the poor and oppressed and Jesus as preacher of justice for the poor in the sacred scriptures.

"Christian love of neighbor and justice cannot be separated. For love implies an absolute demand for justice, namely a recognition of the dignity and rights of one's neighbor," this
historic piece notes.

A civilizaton of love linked to justice was encouraged by Pope Paul VI. This was further enunciated by Pope Benedict XVI in two encyclicals on love and political charity.

An inner examination of conscience in church life is invited in "Justice in the World."

"While the church is bound to give witness to justice, it recognizes that anyone who ventures to speak to people about justice must first be just in their eyes."

Respect and promotion of rights within the church are empahsized with care for temporal goods and urging "sparingness" in one's lifestyle, including bishops, priests and religious.

Has "Justice in the World" been forgotten four decades later?


Downgrading of the role of the synod of bishops in church governance may be a reason this document seems to have gone the way of dinasaurs showcased in museums. In turn, collegiality is a sore subject for some who have been challenged to include all levels of church life in rendering decisions.

In lean and mean times like these, reminders about justice, and, an examination of conscience may help in the abundance this nation still has this Thanksgiving Day.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Behind Wolfgang's Before Thanksgiving

Before dining in Wolfgang's, you'll need to wind up behind this fine feeding trough in navy seal style with TRX.

That's right! It's all about YOU!

Renewal Body Bootcamp in the East Building at 415 Norwood St., NE, in Grand Rapids, MI., 49506, 734 883 5366, is the place to be before taking on, and, tackling the turkey this Thanksgiving Day!

A big heart in a small spot has instructors there paying personal attention to YOU! Every minute of the workout, for example, Jen's kickboxing class has something for YOU!

Do it! ReNEWal now awaits to personally greet you to make you feel and look GREAT!

Nevertheless, be kind to the turkeys this week. Not a good time for them.

RENEWALbodybootcamp. A grand place in Grand Rapids behind Wolfgang's.

Be there today! Get the personal attention you deserve now. You won't find it at the market, the mall or in the BIGGER kickboxing class like YOU will here.


Long before I knew of the Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, the principal and public address system piped these words into every classroom of Saint Thomas the Apostle School at Townsend and Miller, on Detroit east side:

"Your attention please!"


"The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention," that revered Buddhist said.

My entire class of 56 fifth graders also gave fullest attention as Sister Mary Valerie's voice boomed out from her office into our ears.

After all, the leader of our school was speaking.

Sister deserved our attention, unlike today, when common courtesy and the common good seem gone the way of dinasaurs.

A litany list of current events voiced through, including special visitors to our school, a reminder to worship this weekend and to bring a copy of the weekly bulletin as proof of our participation at community Mass.

Full, active and consciously we participated in the life of the family and parish.


How often does it happen in today's high-tech, less personal and highly dysfunctonal days at most levels, including family and goverment structures?

For my part, as we mark this Thanksgiving Day, I can vow attention to each person standing or sitting before me.

And, I promise a little attention to my elderly neighbors who struggle for life as much as turkey and deer do these days.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cell Phones and Youngsters

When is it appropriate for children to have a cell phone?

As they learn how to communicate and relate with others face to face, it seems that cell phones could be a distraction.

Until the necesssary skills to talk with others are acquired, I'd wait giving children a cell phone.

Even amid peer pressure at middle school, it seems that waiting is the best policy.

Youngsters will be acquiring social graces, and, skills to resolve conflict long before they need a phone.

And, with so much cyber bullying, why would a parent want to invite cell phones into a child's life so early?

Visit Coleen Torres at for 10 Ways to Tell Your Kid Is Ready for a Cell Phone, nevertheless.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Sunday should be different.


When I awaken each Sunday there is a decidely different feel for this day of the week.

I grew up learning to make Sunday special.

Less work and more leisure.


Dinner together with the family.

Recreation and play time.

While more and more business bustles on Sundays it doesn't mean one should continue to make Sunday a day of transactions.

Keeping this day holy and workless as possible is good for everyone, especially the family.

Resting more, working less, enjoying more - these are a plus in frentic family living today.


Feel the difference.

Make it special.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Teen Addiction

Gene Schabath, a former Detroit News reporter, writes about Families Against Narcotics ( in the Fall edition of the Macomb Now Magazine.

"This is a bona fide, community-based organization that has taken dead aim at the epidemic of drug overdose and drug deaths in "tidy" little communicities such as Clinton Township and Fraser," Schabath writes.

According to the story, Clinton Township District Court Judge Linda Davis and her neighbor who was a Fraser police officer voiced concern and united over the "drug overdoses of neighborhood kids spiraling out of control."

Alerting people to Percodan, Oxycotin and Vicodin - legalized forms of heroin - the writer notes that they're called heroin-light.

Christ United Methodist Church at 34385 Garfield in Fraser (between 14 and 15 Mile Road)
hosts FAN the third Tuesday of each month from 7-9 pm.

Former drug addicts and parents of children who died from drug overdoses speak at the gatherings, Schabath reports.

This epidemic merits attention of all local residents and beyond.

Another death of a teen to overdose is not what we need.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Jane Eyre's Clarion Call for Truth

A couple of nurses who participated in my spiritual aerobics sessions months ago noticed me browsing the DVD's of the Clinton-Macomb Library in Clinton Township, Michigan.

After greetings, they aimed for the theatre to view the latest Jane Eyre's video.

Minutes later, I followed along to watch it, given that I usually get recommendations from others before I go to view any movie. Both inspired me to take time to recreate. And, I'm glad I did.

Truth seems to concern Jane when she meets the coldness of Edward Rochester who enjoys her company for more reasons than one.

After all, Jane flees Thornfield House where she did chores as a governess for Ed who pushes the young woman's resilience. After a rigor of discipline and abuse as an orphan years earlier, Jane's personality is forged from the suffering and empathy she learned to endure and feel in all she met.

The pastoral wildness of the fields and its haunting dark that brings up her past life shows up throughout the two-hour drama and romance, including violence.

In retrospect and reflection upon her storied life, Jane recovers her spontaneity and curiousity.

Jane even returns to Mr. Rochester despite the roller-coaster-like relationship. That return includes a visit back to the terrible secret that Ed keeps under cover.

Truth told, this is one worth watching. Both main character morph and mend much.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Occupy Detroit at Grand Circus Park

Truth speaks to power.

Truth did last night, and, weeks now since they inhabited Grand Circus Park.

Truth speaks to power.

Merit marks their aim. Get power's attention was the goal, it seems to me.

The conversation was re-ignited.

After joining in a wedding reception and dinner in the Arab-American Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, I was pulled to the Occupy Detroit in Grand Circus Park.

In fact, Deborah Davidson, a dinner guest at the Muslim wedding sitting at the same table I did shared that "justice requires that the inequity be addressed."

"We have offers at a warehouse nearby," a Henry Ford Community College student said to me with her friend standing nearby as they packed up and began to move from the park. Their permit expires Monday, they said.

I told them I thought that Occupy Detroit has merit worth supporting despite the mixed and
varied agenda. Like society represented in a democracy, diverse accents, colors and creeds comprised the crowd of Occupy Detroit.

While other cities, such as Portland, Oregon and San Francisco seemed to be troubled, and
getting violent with police occupation, Detroit was honoring a respectful exit.

Truth is speaking to power in this example of nonviolence as they departed and packed up.

Occupy Detroit served the City I love well, thanks be to God and beautiful human beings
standing up while others simply sat a few weeks.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Help Wanted

"Jobs Must be the Focus" is the topic Saturday, November 19th at 1 pm in Our Lady of Fatima Church in Oak Park, MI.

Detroit native and Wayne State University economics graduate, and lone Muslim in Congress, Keith Ellison (Dem-MN) of Minnesota, addresses the issues of jobs and the struggle to manage the budget deficit.

Michigan Catholics for the Common Good, a Detroit-based group founded early in 2000, aims to bring members to an understanding of the moral dimensions of public policy issues, and, "ensure that all Americans are put on the path to prosperity, not just the wealthiest 1 percent," organizers noted in a letter about Saturday's event sent by co-chairs, Tony Kosnik and John Hooper, ordained priests, currently leading MCCG succeding former chair and founder, the late Jim Sheehan.

Human needs, health care, children, the environment, war and peace, and one's conscience and vote have been issues concerning the MCCG, their website lists.

Among objectives of the MCCG, noted is "for greater balance, both moral and political, in the messages from Catholic pulpits and publications."

Located at 13500 Oak Park Boulevard, off of Coolidge, interested participants may contact, or Michigan Catholics for the Common Good, P.O. Box 7064, Huntington Woods, MI 48770.

Friday, November 11, 2011

All have right to life, liberty

All have the right to life, liberty.

That's what I heard on WWJ All News Radio 950 in the voice of U.S. Congressman Hansen Clarke. Clarke, a passionate believer in people was to have said that in Elmwood Cemetary in Detroit this Vet's Day.

All do.

Yes, in and outside the womb, all have the right to life and liberty.

Life's trek is too precious for any of us mortals to decide to end it, although defense, among other reasons have always been part of Catholic social teaching down through the ages from Saint Augustine of Hippo to Saint Thomas Acquinas to more recent official teaching.



How can I stand up for life in and outside the womb?

How do I live my breathing moments today and tomorrow may help me respond to the query.

Veterans Day - Dedicated to All Who Served and Saint Thecla School 8th Graders Who Prayed a Special Mass for Vets

This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.

"I am a soldier of Christ and it is not lawful for me to fight," the fourth-century Martin, born in present day Hungary said as his regiment battled with barbarian invaders, achives show. Catholics celebrate his feast day along with Veterans Day today.

Martin of Tours, later ordained a bishop in the fourth century, was required by law to enter the Roman army at 15. He resisted this fate and was inducted in chains. His conversion to Christianity came later.

The tale is told of a him using his sword to divide his cloak to give to a shivering beggar. That night he dreamed he was Jesus wearing that part of the cloak he gave away. The next morning, he resolved to be baptized.

This Veterans Day remembers personnel who serve to defend and protect. Many men and women have been in the service in this nation throughout recorded history.

Among them is my brother, Lucas Ventline, who served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam where he died during the TET offensive in 1968. That year witnessed the death of Robert Kennedy, Trappist monk Father Thomas Merton, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and more. It marked the beginning of the so-called women's movement.

This fresh day to breathe again is a good one to lift my heart and mind in prayer to the Maker for men and women who have served well.

"There can be no question tht unless war is abolished the world will remain constantly in a state of madness and desperation in which, because of the immense destructive power of modern weapons, the danger of catastrophe will be imminent and probably at every moment everywhere," Trappist monk Father Thomas Merton noted. He goes on to say that unless we tend to this task now that we cooperate with the destructive forces that "are leading inexorably
to war."

A blessed and fruitful Veterans Day! (And sweet memories of the Mass of St. Thecla Catholic School 8th grade students, parents and teachers in Clinton Township, MI., for all veterans, inlcuding my own brother, Vietnam '68, deceased, Spec. 5 Lucas Ventline, Nov. 9th).

+ Our help is in the Name of the Lord who made heaven and earth!

- Father Ventline

Lifting Hearts and Minds

God knows we could use some help here.

Terrbile things happening, including so much violence and sexual abuse among children and other innocent people, including pedestrian traffic and those we meet in the community who are robbed, beat up and battered. We should know better.

Prayer is defined as lifting one's heart and mind to the Creator.

Some ask, however, how do I do that?

Like the University of Michigan or Pennsylvania, it takes practice to pray well. At least, to learn this art like football.

By the way, I hope all the receipts at the gate Saturday when the U of Penn plays, will go to the abuse victims, or at least to an organization that assists and imagines resolution to this epidemic, I pray God now and later today.

I quiet myself. Close my eyes. Rid myself of thoughts, and a running and racing minds.

This clearance may take time since the frentic pace we keep requires much taming and calming down if I'm ready to talk directly to the Maker of heaven and earth.

Go right to the heart of God, as it were. As if God has a heart! Human metaphors help here also, however. Be in your own heart and silence self for a change. Too much chatter all around us clouds any relationship.

Limit your words. No need to multiply or even say a word since God knows my every thought.

Still, I quiet down. Just be in the Presence. Prayer works, research shows. It helps heal up hospital patients and more.

It will take time since we're used to doing, running, and working hard.

You can do this. Be part of the solutions to all the problems facing us. After all, God made us and God will see us through. Just ask. WIll you?


Be now.

Be in prayer for a moment at least. Say nothing except the greeting, perhaps, God!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pathological Sex Epidemic

How pathetic a people we are if we cannot protect our children's innocence from sick sex predators who need to be contained and tethered.

The epidemic of sick sex pervades this nation I love.

When I counsel one who is sexually abused by an adult my heart breaks open and anger stirs within.

Televison rock star Archbishop Fulton Sheen noted in his Life of Christ: "The penalty of those who live too close to the flesh is to never understand the spiritual." Physical, spiritual and emotional human beings we are. But, are we out of control when it comes to sex and its dignity and worth in every one?

Internet pornography are the most visited sites today.

Alcohol and sex mixed together is deadly.

These bottomless pits that are never satiated without God drive the attached and addicted humans no end, and dead ends of meaninglessness. And, even more ghastly horrors of unspeakable crimes against children.

This false self plugged in, according to Trappist Thomas Merton and other mystics, is fueled by sex, fame, power, and greed, among other variations. The true or real self does not need dressing up in vice.

Why the cover ups, covert sexuality activity, and denigration of sex's sacredness ordained by God?
When will we bring together the finest minds to address the pathology of the sex epidemic in the land of the free and home of the brave? When? Why haven't leaders led on this issue?

Is sexuality too new a study for us to raise it to its elevated place and dignity far from the epidemic problem swirling around parents where studies show most abuse happens, teachers, scout mentors, sports figures, athletic organizations, the Catholic Church, and more?

Who will lead without blaming and passing the buck along hierarchical links in all organizations and institutions? When will each of us finally stand up and speak up when one witnesses sexual assaults and predatory, criminal, morally bankrupt behavior?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pretty Amazing Grace

Lyrics of Neil Diamond's, Pretty Amazing Grace, emerge from the quiet silent solitude shining within these days. Five days in the plush pastoral woodlands of Kentucky's Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani got me going:

"Pretty amazing grace is what you showed me
Pretty amazing grace is who you are
I was an empty vessel
You filled me up inside
And with amazing grace restored my pride

Prettty amazing grace is how you saved me
And with amazing grace reclaimed my heart
Love in the midst of chaos
Calm in the heat of war
Showed with amazing grace what love was for

Stumbled inside the doorway of your chapel
Humbled and awed by everything I found
Beauty and love surround me
Freed me from what I feared
Asked for amazing grace and you appeared."

Judge Joe Oster and I arrived just before evening prayers, called vespers, after driving from Detroit to the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani near Bardstown, Kentucky.

Monks live here. They produce cheese and fudge and fruitcake for a living while they chant psalms seven times daily. Furthermore, silence is spoken in the enclosure, for the most part.

Of Gods and Men, the movie I watched in horror four times was the last time I spent time with Trappist monks. That thriller grabbed my heart like no other as extremests led a line of monks in Algeria to their deaths in the 90s.

Although that tale was true and painful to watch this visit to the home where Thomas Merton is buried was far from violent.

Indeed, my days were in solitude communing with the Maker much of my moments where "the monks dedicate themselves to the worship of God in a hidden life within the monastery," according to the rule of Saint Benedict that steers this community now for more than 160 years when it was the first abbey founded in the United States in December, 1848.

Jesus and his call are always the beginning of discipleship.

From the earliest days of the Christian era men and women ascetics have heard that call and followed the Savior in gospel simplicity and authenticity.

In fact, toward the end of the third century, Saint Anthony the Great led a movement of such persons from the bustling world to the solitude of the desert. Life devoted to prayer and service in community was also widespread, and as the fifth century dawned, Saint Benedict of Nursia founded such an abbey at Montecassino in southern Italy. His Rule remains the most influential and enduring document of western monasticism. The Abbey of Melleray in western France established Gethsemani where 2,000 acres of plush, pastoral wooodlands pulled me from the harmful frentic life I lead so often.

Silence and calm pervaded the days, and me, for sure. My real and true self is better for it.

Sitting there in the edifice enabled me to hear my heart beat. And, in union with the Creator, the experience took my breathe away, so to speak. I was conscious of slowing down and feeling my way into my heart where God lives 24/7.

At the heart of Merton's spirituality is the distinction he makes between the real and false selves. My false self is the identity I enable to function in society with pride and self-possession. On the other hand, my real and true self is a deep religious mystery, understood entirely and only by God.

The false self is created by what we inhabit, namely, the culture where I reside. The false self and society ignores the real one, and therein lies the paradox of human existence, that is, the more we make of ourselves, the less we actually exist. How true that is for me and my experience of six decades. Sin, missing the mark, emerges in the false and egocentric self within. The fall of Adam and Eve, our representatives at the dawn of time, proved this in their drive and attachment to be the center of creation. They crossed boundaries. Sin entered the world.

Everything else I am or do is ordered about this false self, according to the ancient mystics, one head over heel in love with God. All that I am about, then, uses up life in the desire for pleasures, power, honor, knowledge, and more to clothe and vest this false self and its nothingness into something that is objectively real. I begin to believe it! Like bandages I cover myself with pleasures to make myself perceptible to others, Merton, among others hold. The false self endures then.

The mask or fasle self fabricates into thinking it is the real self even at the loss of one's truth. It is all illusion, however, and, like playing Haloween 365 days a year.

Getting in touch with the true and real self is part of the contemplative life far from the frentic life I live so often.

This project of being God's image and likeness, however, is a process, a lifetime perhaps. Glimpses of my communion and union with God assure me sufficiently for the time being.

Quiet uncluttered time drops away the fasle self and all that I create to prop it up on the stage of life that is all an illusion. Enter the true and real self.
Pretty amazing grace, wouldn't you agree? Perhaps Neil Diamond does.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Operation Proper Exit

The pain poked deep as I watched Operation Proper Exit on Sixty Minutes Sunday.

Memories of my own brother's demise in Vietnam in '68 emerged alongside those of men and women who came home from Iraq mangled in mind and body with another kind of war that still haunts, only to feel the need to return to the horror they have to carry.

Tear flowed from returning soldiers. Scott Pelley seemed to be red-eyed also. Who wouldn't be?

Aches from explosions and missing body parts let these soldiers know that something was incomplete for them. Something unfinished, at least that still awakens them in the middle of the night. Or, projecting the unhealed pain on a spouse, a son or daughter.

Tears flowed as I watched and remembered the saga of my brother's death. The hole still festers within.

Closure always seems necessary. For them. For me. For my family who still feel the raw unhealed wound of my brother, Lucas' death.

What for? What for this battle?

I hadn't heard that question since the final days of Eleanor Josaitis when I praised her for yet another award that decorated her hospice room only days before her final breath.

"What for?" she bolted back almost in an angry state of dying at her door.

Pain is never easy. War pain. Cancer pain. Watching someone in pain. Recalling pain.

To experience pain penetrating deep within from battle scars is a different kind of pain, however.

War doesn't have to be.

We can imagine other less primitive ways to settle conflicts.

We must.

Or, we'll keep watching another show like Operation Proper Exit where soldier return to Iraq's hot spots to bring some closure to an ache that will haunt until their own final breath, sad to say.
And, more tales of violence will fill television and one's own pained vision within.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Thomas Merton on Nuclear War - A Cold War Letter

Imagine that: the thought that a monk might be deeply enough concerned wit the issue of nuclear war to voice a protest against the arms race, is supposed to bring the monastic life into disrepute. Man, I would think that it might just possibly salvage a last shred of repute for an institution that many consider dead on its feet...

These thoughts from one of Thomas Merton's more than 10,000 letters that he wrote in his liftime from 1915 until his death in 1968, were a way of this monk to tell of his commitment to peace and nonviolence.

On a retreat this past week in Gethsemane, Kentucky, where Merton is buried, I found myself immersed in his writings. His Cold War letters were written to Daniel Berrigan, among others.

Merton wrote:

"...The monk is the one supposedly attuned to the inner spiritual dimension of things. If he hears nothing, and says nothing, then the renewal (of the Church) as a whole will be in danger and may be completely sterilized. But these authoritatrian minds believe that the function of the monk is not to see or hear any new dimension, simply to support the already existing viewpoints precisely insofar as and because they are defined for him by somebody else...The function of the monk...then becomes simply to affirm his total support of officialdom."

On the way home from the retreat, I was told the Church needs a new "rock star" like Merton.
As we pondered who does this kind of truth to power talk, not one person today could be recalled.

Who is the emerging voice of peace and nonviolence?

Please stand up.

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Retreat

For the next five days, nestled in Bardstown, Kentucky, a retreat will comprise my time.

The Trappist monks there offer a monastic milieu apart "to entertain silence in the heart ande listen for the voice of God -- to pray for your own discovery," Trappist Thomas Merton notes.

Since 1848, guests have been received at the Abbey of Gethsemani ot far from Louisville, KY.

Hospitality maintains a prominence in the living monastic tradition. As outlined in Saint Benedict's Rule for Monasteries, the guest represents Christ. It has a claim on the welcome and care of the community.

Communing with the Lord 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 Gethsemani retreat experience.

Retreatants are asked to limit talking to designated areas.

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

Monks are available for consultation upon request, or the celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation. A vodeo presentation of the monastic life helps one appreciate the encounter of a retreat.

A library contains classic and contemporary books, periodicals and more for use during the
retreat time.

Reservations for a retreat are made by calling (502) 549 4133.

Offerings are on a freewill basis according to means.

I will be away from this blog for the next five days to afford me the silience necessary for a fruitful retreat. You and our world will be in prayer.

Abbey of Gethsemani
3642 Monks Road
Trappist, KY 40051

Next year, Care of the Soul and Companions invites you to make a reservation from Nov. 5-9, 2012, Monday thorugh Friday, for retreat. We pool rides. Pray about attending.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Calmly Gazing Beyond Gawking

On a city block in Clinton Township, Michigan there's an encased piece of land that is frequented daily by those who go there to calm down, to be quiet, to say a prayer, or, to pause from the hectic and frenetic life that engulfs them.

A pastoral place of plush greens marked with a splash of autumn yellow and brown, it is a favorite spot of mine for looking, gazing and being for a moment apart from the driven life I lead.

At each station of the cross there, the Jesus Christians believe to be God, I pause to ponder the divinely human model of living life fully and well today. I stop. I wonder. There at the first station, for example, I recall how Jesus the Christ is condemned to death.

I think: An innocent, loving human being is condemned to die. I wonder. Mystery merges with the misery he must have felt at the hands of leaders who seemed threatened by Jesus' every move and every follower he attracted by his life.

Countless black squirrels reside there alongside the stations that depict defining moments in the life of Jesus up to his resurrection from the dead after his carrying of a cross that he was nailed upon before. What anguish must have enveloped him. Such pain poking and penetrating deeply.

I'm told God did this so the Maker's lone Son, Jesus, would redeem a fallen and fractured world.

More mystery merges with the misery he must have felt as an innocent man who loved so completely as he walked the earth.

Rain spills on the pathway of the next few stations showing the route of Jesus to his death.

Wet from water, I recall the sinking of the Titanic and the instruments that play an Autumn hymn as wonderment and anguish filled the feelings of humans going down fast.

They are scary thoughts. Seasonal perhaps, as All Saints and All Souls, is celebrated these next days of November.

I gaze at his face drawn in pencil. It's a gentle and easy look. Far from gawking, I let the etches speak to me. I try to simply be there. I am one with him. The encounter is serene.

The beauty overtakes me. It is a quiet place. The Creator speaks volumes, however, in the silence. The silence is golden, for sure. And, more.

Tomorrow, as Catholics join for Mass at 11 am or at 7 pm, noise of cars and voices will drown the silence some few moments as they unite in communion. Striking contrasts. Yet, some will gaze while others gawks at who fills the pews this damp, autumn day.

The Trappist monk, Father Thomas Merton emerges in my mind, on his own thoughts on silence.

"The deepest level of communication is not communication, but communion," Merton notes in his Asain Journal.

Merton continues:

"It is wordless. It is beyond words. It is beyond speech, and it is beyond concept. Not that we discover a new unity. We discover an older unity. My dear Brothers, we are already one. But we imagine that we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity. What we have to be is what we are."

The true self that the mystics speak of comes to mind, beyond the false self.

Indeed, we are one in communion with creation and with the Creator.

And Cher and Joe come to mind from their marriage vows earlier this afternoon in Saints Peter and Paul Jesuit Church on Jefferson in downtown Detroit, MI.

They both are vegans. Both are united and in union with planet Earth's creation and animal life. Their wedding dinner this night consists of a menu of pasta, free of foods with animal fats.


One together now in marriage. And, with God's earth for these past couple years since they decided to become vegans during Lent, the forty-day penitential season where Christians
stand with Jesus and his own communion with God by way of intense fasting, prayer and almsgiving.


This couple committed to gaze at the earth and be one with it. Far from gawking, they stand looking, noticing, contemplating creation. Two attorneys turning, gazing, giving, inspiring us.

They choose not to harm the earth.

One with it. Awesome. Another gaze at another station. The sun peeks perhaps a final ray before the dark covers these shorter days of autumn.

And, a good gaze.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Contemplative Tradition Inclusive of All Faiths

An enduring legacy of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) is its clarion call to renew the Gospels and biblical theology and tradition of "the Way" of Jesus as primary sources of Catholic spirituality. We have only begun this trek, often on another less noble path or "my" way.

Trappist monk Thomas Keating defines a mystic as one who is head over heel in love with God.
I love that description. Love at its best. To ponder the love of one's life, and the Love of one's life is awesome to behold.

The Word of God in the sacred scripture that is embodied in Jesus the Christ is the font of Christian contemplation.

God becomes one like us in the flesh if Jesus in our human family. Incarnation is the Latin, "in the flesh." God becomes one of us in Jesus, except Jesus is without sin.

The blessed Trinity of the Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier+ are together in one nature, both the Ultimate Myster and Reality for us. Their own inner relationship and dynamic of Love and absolute giving and receiving is the divine life that Christ was sent to share with each of us. How profoundly touching the Untouchable, Invisible. Incredible Lover - the Present with a capital P.

The manifold Gifts of the Holy Spirit are believed to come into fullness by way of regular practice of prayer and the growth of faith into contemplation with its progression and devlopment. A process it is, or, if you like, a procession like the nine of us in my family formed along Van Dyke on our way as a family to the late Saint Thomas the Apostle Church, our home church, at Miller and Townsend in Detroit, MI.

Saint Gregory the Great of the end of the sixth century, and the inspiration for the Catholic Care of the Soul Companions, summed up the contemplative tradition as the knowlege of God in Scripture and a precious gift of God.

He called it "resting in God." Mind and heart experience in some small or great measure a "taste" of what they are seeking, namely God. Only a glimpse morphs me no end. Really with a capital R for my oneness with the One as in the beginning, life everlasting, amen! For all Eternity!

This understanding perdured through the Middlge Ages. Fasting, chanting, vigils, solitude and periods of silence, simplicity of lifestyle, the rosary, veneration of icons, and more, always included contemplation as part of the Christ-centered goal.

Noticing is how spirituality is described. Contemplation is "loooking" beyond an earthly level.

An example of a contemplative life is Thomas Keating, or the late Thomas Merton who died in 1968 - the year of slaying of Matin Luther King, Jr., Robert Kennedy, my own brother Lucas in Vietnam, among so many historic and defining moments, including the TET Offensive, and, the beginning of the women's movement, some assert.

Merton became the leading contemplative voice from his cell in the Twentieth Century American Church. His body is buried at Gethsemane, Kentucky where Joe Oster, Ernie Bedard, among others will join me on retreat for a week in November.

Merton spoke up on contemplative prayer as well as social and global issues, including civil rights, social justice, nuclear disarmament, violence, ecumenism and East-West religious dialogue to name only a few examples. Merton proclaimed to a people in the atomic age, suffering and other consequences of the effecrts of World War II, and, the need to focus on life's primary purpose. This task is "in being one's true self; to come to one's true identity by returning to the ground of our true self - the true self anchored only in God."

Union with God was Merton's quest. It is our own also. I long for it daily. Merton was a prolific writer who taught me much about contemplative journal-writing, and more. In his, New Seeds of Contemplation,
Father Merton, the Trappist monk who stood in the market square in Louiville, KY, saying:
"These are all my people," -- seems to touch the soul, support and guides it in hearing the call to contemplation. He reaches out as a true soul friend in love, wisdom and understanding. His, The New Man, is grounded in Sacred Scripture explaining the dynamic of the spiritual journey in bliblical language. Merton also became aware of the fruits and gift of contemplation that came alive in non-Christian religions. This leaning gave birth to East-West religious dialogue.

Simply put, for Merton, "contemplative prayer is the preference for the desert, for emptiness, for poverty. One has begun to know the meaning of contemplation when he or she intuitively and spontaneously seeks the dark and the unknown path of aridity in preference to every other way. The contemplative is one who would rather not know than know...He accepts the love of God in faith, in defiance of all apparent evidence. This is the necessary condition and a very paradoxical condition, for the mystical experience of God's Presence and of His love for us.
Only when we are able to 'let go' of everything within us, all desire to see, to know, to taste and experience the presence of God, do we truly become able to experience that Presence..."
- From Merton's Contemplative Prayer

I like to get lost in the Love of God and then seem to know a fraction of a glimpse at times, of divine union at the tail-end of my centering prayer two sessions of twenty minutes daily. Most of the session is distracted by judgments, criticisms, and the like. Only when I gently return to my WOrd from Scripture - Beloved - am I resting in God some. Words cannot describe this
encounter and experience with the Holy.

This relationship I relish. Without it, I die inwardly and outwardly act unlovingly.

Prayer works. Prayer heals and mends. Prayer is the connection and union with the Unconditional God who is like a Mother Hen hovering over and within the fractured heart and soul. All the gunk of the shower drains in centering contemplative prayer for me. It takes much time simply and gently and lovingly BEING in the Presence.

Just a few hours before Merton's death in Bangkok, Thailand, these notes were found:

"Christianity and Buddhism agree that the root of man's problems is that that his consciousness is fouled up and does not apprehend reality as it fully is...Christianity and Buddhism alike, then, seeks to bring about a transformation of Man's transform and liberate the truth in each person, with the idea that it will communicate itself to others...The whole purpose of monastic life is to teach us to live by love."