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."

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Moment in Time at 150

They came.
They sang.
The ate at 150.
But before all that partying Sunday on the 150th anniversary of founding of the historic Sacred Heart Catholic Church at Utica Road and Gratiot in Roseville, MI., they were planting, hoeing, picking, growing, weeding and watching faith grow.

Hundreds gathered Sunday to mark a milestone for the people and edifice that serves as a city on a hill. . .a beacon in the community stooping low to lift up life where it may be met.

From a mere thirty-five families back during the Civil War days in history, a pastor and his people moved north on Gratot's gravel toward Erin, a town now called Roseville. They planted, grew and celebrated faith Sunday with Allen Vigneron, Archbishop of Detroit, and crowds of people in the edifice on the corner that shines hope these days. "Wherever the bishop is the people are," a Church Father said centuries ago.

Street people, and bag people, and young and old gathered for the festivities in and outside the historic building.

Later, in the Eastpointe Manor, they partied some more and ate pasta and chicken and chocolate cake.

They laughed. Paused. Planted a story or a joke. Swallowed. They drank fresh water and
crispy bread.

God is good all the time, all the time God is good, one partygoer told me.

And, another said: "Don't worry about tomorrow, God is already there." God is. Bring on 151.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

All Aboard for Pilgrimage of Historic City Edifices

All aboard!

Join a pilgrimage of prayer with visits to historic edifices Saturday, November 5, 2011 with boarding on the round trip motor coach at 8 am with return to embarking sites beginning at 6 pm.

Tours of downtown Detroit SS. Peter and Paul Jesuit Church, Old St. Mary's Church in Greektown, Sacred Heart Major Seminary, and evening Mass with Archbishop of Detroit, Allen H. Vigneron, a native of Mt. Clemens, MI., in Ste. Anne de Detroit Church.

Participants board the bus at the Ford Community and Performing Art Center in Dearborn, and, from the Warren Civic Center in Warren. Church historian, Bill Worden guides the pilgrims.

Reservations are required at (313) 565 8888 (Ext. 121). Tickets are $40. Lunch is included.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Catholic Lawyer Society

They gather for Mass on Thursday each month at 12:15 pm in Saints Peter and Paul Church on Jefferson across from the GM Ren Cen.

Lawyers read God's Word of the day and meet for a meal afterwards with staff of the historic downtown church.

Over turkey and tuna wraps, a soda and Better Made potato chips, the discussion turned to the vitality of the Church, its meaning, purpose and promise for tomorrow in the Archdocese of Detroit.

Concerns ranged from clustering parishes and mergers and the reasons for it, the stewardship campaign, debt and the mission of the Church.

Serious thoughts were shared and welcomed by all at the table as believers broke bread again.

Although worry filled some, hope pervaded the critical state of parish life today across the counties and country, for that matter.

Taking time to talk helps people to be relieved of rumors and to bond more deeply in the faith.
After all, it was the feast of St. Paul of the Cross, founder of the Passionist pastors who lead a retreat house by the same name off of I-96 near Telegraph in Detroit. Someone at the table said that to get people to commit to a day at a retreat house one has to add a few hours at the casino to fill up the bus.

Imagine that.

Whatever it takes to pause, ponder and converse about a wonderful world God made for you and me.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pastor Not Welcomed

A friend of mine who is pastor of a huge mega church told me over lunch that pastors aren't welcome to attend the huge money campaign in the archdiocese when leaders meet with parishioners.

That's another fear-driven way to thwart off questions from the shepherd's who lead in the trenches.

I have to wonder about all this fear. What's happening?

Years ago, I remember being ingnored by the staff of the AOD (Archdiocese of Detroit).
Yet, we promote the dignity of every human being in our Catholic doctrine, go figure.

Pastors work hard and ask pastoral questions as they lead their flocks.

It seems that the AOD is trying to be a huge parish when history shows that the early church had few if any offices, and dioceses were minimally staffed. The Vatican didn't view dioceses either as branch offices but each, like a parish, has its own authority as it kept lines of communication open.

Pastors are to be welcomed where their people are gathered always.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cheboygan's Fall

Wind fiercely blew Sunday as I rode into town.

Into Cheboygan, Michigan, that is. It was about 4 pm when a storm of hale and rain thundered in the north. The sky darkened after a sun-shiny afternoon.

Then, minutes later, the sun returned and golden leaves showed the glory of God's gandeur and
hand at work coloring creation.

It was Fall at work in this state.

About three hundred miles from Detroit, about twenty miles from Mackinaw City, Cheboygan is a poor resort town where my mother grew up before coming to the city to earn some cash to send home.

My two other uncles live there while farming some with chickens. But, Uncle Chet has been in Ann Arbor for therapy after five surgical procedures at 81 while Uncle Phil handles the farm.

Native Americans live there alng with Polish, French and others.

In fact, while visiting Pat Watson at St. Mary's Church, one woman I met said she was a Native American "but not with the card."

"I know who I am; it doesn't matter," she concluded as she waited for the pastoral care minister.

After a two-day visit, and a five-hour ride back home, I've arrived in Motown.

A peaceful ride North with a look at the leaves and colors.

A deer crossed my path on the freeway south while taffic slowed. A sight to behold.

Beauty in action.

God's hand at roots and relations.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Monuments, Memorials, Martin

Mountains, memorials and men and women who press for change are similar.

Strong, sure, firm, prophetic, reminders, and resounding with a clarion call to justice.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., among others speak up truth to power. By their lives more than their words, they preach love.

Nonviolent love like Ghandi, among others who poured their blood that others could be free.

King knew that the violence done upon him and other protesters in Alabama could not be met with more violence.

Only love.

The memorial of King in Washington, D.C., is a mountain to a man of a dream as President John F. Kennedy told him when King and others worked for human dignity of all in the 60s.

I like living voice more than museums and memorials. But, memorials are reminders to be more of the same all the days of our living on earth.

People for others.


Joy has peace, pain

The other day some medical news came that unsettles me these days.

Although I don't like to make much of life's travails, an infection from a colonoscopy, is the reason that alarms me.

Yet, deep within the fruit of the Holy Spirit, called joy, are two conditions:
pain and peace. They pronounce loud and clear.

Pain pokes deep when it pentetrates one's being.

We all experience it by way of rejection, abandonment, betrayal of friendship, and more.

Peace is overriding also. It pervades.

Like Louis Armstrong's, What A Wonderful World, the mood and memory of listening to him sing
buoys the joy within me.

Music is like that. It stirs into the recesses of our being and brings up lasting joy. That is the joy that cannot be robbed from any of us unless I give it away.

Perhaps the prolific writer, C.S. Lewis, meant this in his, Surprised By Joy. I don't know.

Maybe the peace felt by Jesus is this joy I describe. I'm not sure.

The pervading sense may be like the runner who aims for the prize and accomplishes the task and the miles-long trek to victory.

It may be like one's life's choice, vocation, or job. I know service in lifting up life pressed down and packed at the bottom of the heap is like that.

When one reflects on joy, the pain and the peace, perhaps not at the same time always, emerge readily. A drive North and a walk with Woof and Wolf, lunch and a call tame the seeming tempest for a bit. The gold and brown and orange of a leaf leave me knowing full well of life's desolation and consolation - the roller-coaster-like ride of the spiritual life, let alone the day in and day out trail we take. Philosophy helps. Roots in God ground me deeper, however.

Joy is like the rain. Its deep down refreshing longevity is awash with peace amid the pain and ache of bad news.

Such is life's unfolding and wondering: Why me? Well, why not me? After all, the "me" I wonder about is the others who I always hear about in their own grief and pain.

In the telling and sharing of this episode in my story relief settles in some. I know I am not alone.

The effects of the infection have their own basketfull of consequences, elevations of counts, and, as the litany of doctors say, "There's something going on within you - the tests prove this."

What a wonderful world, thanks be to God. This also will pass. Yet, joy seems eternally pervasive within. I like it that way. And, to Louis Armstrong's music ministry, thanks be to the Maker who is everywhere, I learned. In this too.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Best of All to Bat for Our Boys Saturday Behind Batters

At Luigi's in Harrison Township Thursday night, eyes aimed at the TV as the Tigers were beating the Texas Rangers. Bats were booming but fans seemed weary. Very quiet. Tense.

A hushed crowd seemed worried about the "on again, off again" party propping up Motown's morale and the economy, let alone the national ink showcasing a positive spotlight on a town that seems to be on life support systems so often. Cheerleaders were clearly silent as the Tigers tried to stay alive in the playoffs. What gives?

And, they did win and now head to Texas for Saturday's must win game.

Killjoys Texas will not be for the Boys of 2011.

How can they with the winning neighbors at Ford Field next door to Comerica Park with the astounding and stunning Detroit Lions at 5-0, a first since 1956. And, the fired-up Red Wings, and, the U of M Wolverines all spreading the spirit awash in win!

Detroit still has to win Saturday and if so, then again to move into the World Series later.
Let's chunk it one game, one bat at a time. Life is easier that way. Getting overwhelmed in higher expectations won't help getting through one inning at a time, one moment . . .

And, the Rangers know that the Tigers have taken them in 18 of thier last 22 meetings in Comerica, outbatting them Texas boys about 120-70. And, although Justin Verlander just pitched last night, the other pitchers are hot and ready for Saturday, Sunday, and the World Series when Justin promises to be back for sure.

Revival is in the air, no doubt about it in my Motown! Fresh air fills fans and the fun of it all despite nail-biting moments. And, with all the influence and diversity of faiths in metropolitan Detroit and Dearborn, I heard Yahweh/God/Allah is set to sit directly behind the batter's box Saturday!

Go Tigers! Got bat from heaven!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Neighborliness, Crime Reduction is Aim

Knowing one's neighbors is an ancient and revered mandate.

Love of God and neighbor is paramount in the sacred writings of all faith traditions.

If that's true, one has to wonder why neighbors don't want to engage or know one another these days. This shift from the past provides a place for crime in the community.

To thwart crime, Harrison Township Neighborhood Watch has been forming since July. The community is welcome to the next meetings, November 3 and Dec 1 at 7 pm in the Harrison Township Building Department, 38151 L'Anse Creuse.

Chairman Robert Waters, a resident of Harrison Township for 35 years now, aims to have at least 15 block captains representing about 1,200 people involved by this time, next year.

Support for this initiative has been inspiring as the Township supervisor, Ken Verkest, visited the most recent meeting at the Tucker Senior Center and responded to concerns of those gathered.

Neighbors need to know neighbors if communities are to thrive.

There is something in the wisdom of the the Sacred Scriptures that supports these efforts to watch and be one's sister's, one's brother's keeper, as Genesis notes.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sacred Scripture Study from Scratch

The Word of God excites believers everywhere.

There is a hunger for direction in people's lives. And, they find it in the ancient and revered Sacred Scriptures.

Wednesdays through December, for example, parishioners will gather at 8:30 am in St. Thecla Church in Clinton Township at Metropolitan Parkway near Groesbeck to reflect on Matthew's Gospel, chapter 22:34-40. And, on Sundays, from 9:45 until 10:50 am, from Oct. 30th through December, people will gather in St. Claud Chapel at 33826 Beaconsfield, north of Fourteen Mile Road to reflect on the Gospels, and, in particular, Matthew 25:1-13.

As people search, they come to find solace and direction in the way, truth, life of Jesus the Christ told in the Gospels, and elsewhere.

Reservations for the Sacred Scipture Study Sessions from Scratch can me made to me at, or, by calling 586 791 3930. This way we can set up the space to accomodate the crowd.

Come and see, will you?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

We'll Walk for Diversity, Dignity, Poor

Walk, we will.

Today at Focus:HOPE at 12:30 at 1355 Oakman on Detroit's west side.

For diversity.

For dignity.

For the needy among us who are left out, pressed down, excluded, piled on in a Nation that
knows better.

We do better than exclude accents, color and difference.

We are God's Americans.

We will walk firm and sure. Shoulder to shoulder, all faith traditions will walk together.

For Eleanor Josaitis who is looking in from Heaven. For Father William Cunningham who serves
there with Eleanor and all those who loved before us.

They challenge still from the heights.

We will walk.

Join us, join me.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Marking 35

Mark and Denise turned thirty-five years old Saturday. They joined others at what was dubbed as a Thirty-five Something, Anything Celebration.

Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Turowski marked their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary. Friends of mine from Milwaukee and Cincinnati made their way to celebrate with me on thirty-five years of service as a pastor. They were ready to rock and roll, for sure!

Others were thirty-five years on the job, and, one gal was ready to retire, she told the crowd who met at a prominent downtown Detroit restaurants Saturday for a meal provided by a generous donor.

Markers are worth remembering. Defining moments like birthdays and anniversaries, or years on the job need to be celebrated.

A prayer led by one young adult marking his birthday expressed gratitude to God for the blessings he has been given. After close to a year, he landed "the job of a lifetime."

They ate fish, chicken, steak, or another dish from the menu of the specially prepared plates.

Live DJ entertainment moved many to the makeshift dance floor.

They all seemed to have a grand time as smiles filled the banquet room, a tear flowed down one's face of a participant, and, one couple wouldn't quit dancing.


This slim and active crowd seemed ready to mark the next lap of thirty-five years. They looked like they took care of themselves eating well, exercising, and more.

The evening ended with a fall fireside chat and bon fire at St. Claude Chapel Clinton Township.

It's good to watch happy people with milestones of thirty-five Something, Anything.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Court, Recovery, Family and Alcohol Abuse

Appearing at court recently, it seemed like an uphill battle securing a mother's child for her full custody.
A deal was worked out with the child's father, and, case closed, at least that day, for that time.

Days later, a concern was raised by the father of the gal who received custody and a family was restored.

He wrote this note to the archbishop with a copy to me praising the important work of recovery, and more:

"Sometimes I think the church does more to encouarage substance abuse than it does to help people recover from it. Just a couple weeks ago, the church a block away from our house held its annual festival and the number of inebriated people walking around the parish grounds and through our neighborhood made me embarrassed that my church could sponsor such debauchery in the guise of generating funds to spread the Gospel.

What we have is nothing less than scandalous.

We prey on weaknesses and vices and then we gather in our churches and join our voices in praise of God who loves the forsaken and downtrodden that we just took advantage of. How hypocrital! Shame on us!"

At a bon fire recently, participants shyly uncovered and shared their beer after they needed clearance from me to drink, it seemed. The reality is that drinking is as common as blowing one's nose in our culture. Shame on us! The reality is that alcohol dependency disorder has been festering too long without leadership banning the toxicity from entering one's living Temple. We wonder why our young people are attached.

Alcohol and other addictive attachments are all too common, and, tolerated. I see it daily as
addictions ruin relationships and families. How much of it is too much, too often?

Who will stand up?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs Amazing Grace

Amazing wizardry. Called crazy, even a misfit.

Yet, passionately following his bliss, blessing for the world of Apple and Ipod,pad and so much more.

Innovative. Our Edison, DaVinci. The artist of media motion and color now instantly so.

Jobs made magic a reality.

Jobs was crazily obstinate to follow his dream, skate to his aim to create, invent, give us gifts to keep us glued, discourteously engaged while others, human relating and longing for one's attention, for your eyes and heart.

All the crazies invented fire again for the second time: Steve Jobs, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Eleanor Josaitis and Father William Cunnigham, Rosa Parks, Father Edward Popielarz. Dubbed crazy, they all were wildly so.

Fresh air, grace they gave/give with Steve Jobs. Amazing graces. Favors, blessings.

"Even those who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there," Jobs told a graduating class.

He went there with skates on. Jobs aimed high. Look in on us now. He's watching with God.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.

Imagination is greater than knowledge, Einstein said.


Imagining the world without Steve Jobs will imagine another to follow on his shoulders to invent
heaven if they weren't one. Steve Jobs would have. He dreamed huge and high, deep and passionately.

My condolences to his family, friends who see him pass over so young.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

When the knock comes. . .a soldier dies again

Every time the evening news these days tells of another gal or guy dying in the military, the knock at our door in February of 1968 emerges.

Even though I was away at Saint Mary's College, Orchard Lake, MI., the details loom large from my sisters and brother about that date, and death of Lucas, my oldest brother.

War wounds and the misery and mystery disturb me when I hear of another loss in battle. For what? Why? When will war stop? When will we pull out?

Specialist Four Lukas J Ventline Us55897836 received the posthumous purple heart award January 17, 1969, a year after that heightened TET offensive in Vietnam, the year a man landed on the moon, the women's rights movement began, Rev. Dr. King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy were assassinated, and 58,000 Americans, let alone Vietnamese, and innocent bystanders were murdered continents away.

After the knock, one's heart is purple and blue. Grief lingers. Loss lives. That's the way it should be. The hole in the soul, the void gets smaller but the tiny ball of emptiness remains today.

That's how other families must feel when the knock on the door comes from two military personnel, and, a chaplain.

Sad, mad, scared, full of fear and fright of conflict raging about these wars, any war, the Vietnam War, wars in homes, cities, and in our hearts where all battles begin. Post traumatic stress disorder for the military these days, for their families, and the lingering fray decades later.

After the knock on our door, the purple heart from the President is presented to families, to us.

Imagining other ways, less primitive than war, to resolve conflict, calls the finest minds and wills today to gather, to create a department of peace with a greater budget than the Department of War.

Imagine that. A battle to end battles with a department of peace.

Who can bear another knock? Who will stop the knock on the door?

Growing and Growing Catholic

Wonder why?

Why one is a Catholic?

Then, you'll want to join in the session, Sunday, Oct. 9th at 9 am before the 11 am Mass in Saints Peter and Paul Jesuit Church at 629 Jefferson in downtown Detroit, across from the GM Ren Cen towers. Rite of Christian initiation of adults (RCIA/C) who are now Catholic will address why they're Catholic. Invite the agnostic, curious, and those questing for the Maker with concerns, to come. Breakfast will be served and you may want to reserve a spot at (313) 961 8077 ASAP out of courtesy and for planning purposes. Join others and me for the Foucs:HOPE walk immediately at the 11 am Mass. The walk starts at 12:30 on the campus of Focus:HOPE. Register at, or call 313 494 5500 today. Later the same day at 7:30 pm Mass is set. You may want to join in and invite others to visit this historic church. I'll be returning to the edifice immediatley after the walk and a bit of food. Call me if you want to walk together (586) 530 7576.

Why am I Catholic?


Growing up amid an immense edifice and huge church bell tower of Saint Thomas Church at 8333 Townsend Avenue, Detroit 48213, descriptions and feelings like, awe, wow, generosity, big and abundant grew in me as I grew as a Catholic.

The life-size stained-glass windows of saints engaged my little eyes at 8 am Mass before our school day started after the miles-long trek from Lynch Road and Van Dyke south to Miller Avenue not far from Harper and the I-94 expressway. Sunlight shined through the colorful glass. Radiance that surrounded halos of saints amazed this tot then.

DSR transported us on bus when we had twenty-five cents. The walk kept us slim, however, and converesant with passersby when people talked with each other more, it seemed.

Pagan babies to sponsor in foreign lands occupied the teaching sisters plea for pennies constantly. Consequently, social awareness and Catholic social policy was heightened, and, still is for me these days while we wage war, help victims of natural disasters, and work with corporal works of mercy organizations like, Focus:Hope, for example, enhancing the dignity, diversity and needy households who are fed with food and virtues, like hope, faith, love.

Prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance got more attention as I grew older, than when these virtues, or strengths did when I was a kid. Bishop Ken Untener pushed them up in my memory as he'd act as if he didn't remember them and have other clergy fetching books to recall their importance for Catholics today. Connections with outstanding humans is paramount as I recall heroes, saints, and outstanding citizens who inspire.

Burning smoke from incense filled my nostrils. The smell is unforgetable. Still at funerals and grand celebrations. The olfactory nerve gets the aroma initially. And, worshippers cough especially when "cheap" incense is used for ritual services.

As the incense rises to the heavens, so may my heart, thoughts and soul rise. . .be enhanced, be kinder, be better beyond bitter, above all beat out mean-spiritedness that surrounds us as one tries to out-class those who only seem to put down and refuse to lift up . . .

Always thriving to be better, to change this heart and mind, to repent full circle, to give, forgive and give again and again. . . over and over as Jesus insists in the urgency of the Gospels passed on to followers. "Reform your lives and believe in the Gospel" and "Remember you are dust and unto dust you will return" keep me grounded, humble and in need of growing again and again daily.

All that, and, the abundant living that Jesus, our fearless leader, calls us to from those early tot days 'til today, has me glad that I'm still a practicing Catholic at 62. People make it all worth it.
Ideals as much to stay connected with each moment as I strive to be a better human being.

Why I'm Catholic.

Catholic with a small "c" or big "C." Universal. Big, abundantly living large in Christ in giving, forgiving, and, in joy.

Come and hear more Sunday or connect with the living church and walk with others and me at Focus:Hope.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Walk a little while with me Sunday, will you?

Enthusiasm rocks as thousands of participants prepare for the four-mile Focus:HOPE walk Sunday, Oct. 9th at 12:30 pm in the neighborhood at the iconic 1355 Oakman Boulevard address.

Francis of Assisi is remembered today. Catholics implore the help of saints to beg God's assistance on earth. This twelfth-century saint reminds us to love all of creation, including humans and plant and animal life. He was a green saint, so to speak. Often, his prayer for peace is said or sung. Lord, make me an instrument of your peace . . .

Co-founder Eleanor Josaitis will be remembered. It will be the first walk she misses due to her death earlier this Summer. The late Father William Cunnighmam will also be talked about, I'm sure as I meet supporters of diversity and the dignity of all persons across town. They both stood up whileothers sat and said nothing as rioting ravaged Motown.

Visit for more information today, or call 313 494 5500 to register.

Join others and me to stand tall for inclusion of all God's people, won't you?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Life Link Dawns

When I marked twenty-five years as an ordained priest, one of my four sisters shouted:

"To a hell of a life," as she toasted my classmates and me.

Another ten years have passed since those words ring in my mind.

And, as loud resounds my joy for service among people, but my disdain for leadership who dub those of us ordained around '76, and earlier as "Councilior or Vatican II priests." As "outsiders," like the women hypocrites dubbed as not counting.

And, so the party divide began . Schism sounded. John Paul II priests vs. Vatican II clergy.
Go figure. And, Washington, D.C., thinks it has problems. Fracture is doing a terrible thing on us all.

To stop the bleeding from isolation, abandonment, passive-aggressive behavior from bishops who refuse to respond, and, in some cases, fail to acknowledge correspondance, US priests are forming a new national association.

To illustrate my point, for example, a letter I wrote decades ago, cast me into the group of priests who are ignored and left unresponded to, sad to admit. Welcome to reality, no? (Jesus got it a lot worse from the hypocrites, and, his example of love and class is worthy of emulating).

I just joined. $50 membership dues were sent to, Association of U.S. Catholic Priests: AUSCP, P.O. Box 263, Calumet City, IL 60409-0263

While collaboration and collegiality among all the people of God was fostered at the Second Vatican Council of '62-65, the reign of the late Pope John Paul II and new canon law put priest councils and collaboration in the domain of the bishop of the diocese who is to lead the community of faith, guide it, teach it, and make it holy.

If priests can't talk and get muzzled about any important issue about collabortion, support, celibacy,imagination, lonliness, abandonment, or ordination of others, for example, what does leadership expect? Shame on them.

Families must talk and be given the encouragement to do so. Strange behaviors poke out
when stifling is the aim.

One priest I spoke with seemed silent about supporting this new association. Who wouldn't think twice. Vatican II has been deleted, it seems, and, in turn clergy my age who are products of Vatican II, no fault of our own.

If the new association fails to get the attention and ears of bishops, and challenges little, I will go back into a deepened sense of disappointment from a church that is supposed to be about the abundant life of Jesus, the leader who began this enterprize and had the following to prove its effectiveness despite martyrdom for those who stood up to the emperors.

Applause to the clergy who stand up and speak up! Strange that we're asking for a voice in America, land of the free, home of the brave!

What year is this?

For a link that dawns hope, write,, or call Rev. Bill Petron at 586 228 1316.

Terror Targets Tots with Oct. 1st Law

Applauds to Don Horkey's "We the Born Must Defend the Right to Life of the Unborn," with daunting efforts to keep the conversation for support for life in and outside the womb alive. God's blood, so to speak, pours the same color in the veins and living cells of Polish, German, French, African-American, and, each ethnic human being regardless of accent or faith beliefs.

The column's litany of links and local lists to work with pro-actively this month is appreciated, at least by this writer and priest for an abundant life. The challenge to uphold sound principles that "you matter and everyone else matters" does indeed matter most in a throw-away and demeaning culture.

When society points solely to economics, one's personal rights under civil law, convenience and social acceptance, children in and outside the womb still override such babble and mediate a reverent rapport with their parents, and ultimately with the God of life, the Creator, for sure.

Voices of faith and reason need to keep rising and witnessing for the wonder and creation of the beauty of each of us, especially the tiniest tots within and outside the sanctuary of the womb.

As often as you did it for one of my least ones, you did it for me, are words of Jesus resounding in Sacred Scripture, and echoed, in fact, in all respected world religions. We must speak up for the most vulnerable in and outside the womb, or, the spiral of disrespect for life's start and end has to keep us alarmed at how bad a so-called civilized and learned culture can be reduced to in the middle of one's life. Crime increases, and schools can't work on empty stomachs, and, in fact diminish in value and virtues as children come to school with yet more issues thrust upon them by a State government who should know better. Shame on them, and us for taking this sitting down!

Life is cheapened daily around us, while few choose to stand up, as Horkey does in the Polish Times.

At Cadillac Place on West Grand Boulevard, and at the State of Michigan's Detroit offices this week, hundreds protested a law where cash asssitance benefits ended Oct. 1st for approximatley 41,000 residents of this great State, including about 30,000 children.

Synagogues, temple, churches and mosques must provide sanctuary, hope and resources for our youngest citizens sponsoring area households who were kicked off welfare. Who will lead this? Which rabbi, pastor, imam, among other spiritual leaders? Who cares?

More difficult times in an already pressed economy is not what Michigan and Motown needs.
The fray of crime caused by such terror on children must be protested. People in solidarity, like that deonstrated in my own Polish roots and story must rise from complacency and speak up for the life given us for some limited days before passing over to heaven, unless one has other plans. And, it sure looks like lots of folks have other plans! Look about! Physicists tell us that matter and energy are not destroyed but changed, so too, true of these living temples God gave each of us. We will change and be morphed and more, scientists assure us! This gives pause to ponder the awesomeness of all of creation. So, we walk by faith, not sight!

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