Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Gospel of John - The Movie

Every generation - every person, really - finds their own way to connect to Jesus Christ and his teachings. "The Gospel of John" stars actor Henry Ian Cusick who young people will surely recognize from the ABC monster hit show "LOST." This is a loyal retelling of the Book of John and, refreshingly, it takes its time getting its religion teachings across. But, with the help of Cusick and a talented director this is the perfect movie to show young people or in class. They will surely enjoy it and the teachings will come through.

Watch The Gospel of John - The Movie or visit Documentary-Log.com to watch documentaries online.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Garbage Can Lessons: A Study

Last summer, debris was piling up near St. Claud Chapel on Beaconsfield north of 14 Mile Road in Clinton Township, MI., near my residence.

So, I put a large garbage can where people passing could deposit the debris.

They did, thanks be to God, who I think, likes good stewards and security with a quality of life.

It was filled to the brim for me to empty periodically, and, return.

When hybernation time came with Winter, however, I thought that the can could be stored in the garage.


Pizza boxes, plastic and paper piled up where the can sat all summer.

Listen to the garbage can, or, at least, to the will of the people, who learned to keep the area clean as creatures of habit.

The garbage disposal is back ready to be filled to the brim again, thanks to the people of God!

Common sense.

And, a lesson I learned in this study of people, and, how they behave.

Thank you!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Threats to freedom of religion, conscience

What of the threat to freedom of religion and one's conscience?

U.S. prelates were warned of "radical secularism" threatening core values of the culture in America, according to reports.

Powerful new cultural currents have press ahead, wearing away the country's traditional moral consensus, Pope Benedict the XVI was to have told bishops visiting him Jan. 19.

Militant secularists strive to stifle the Church's proclamation of "unchanging moral truths,"
Benedict said.

Bishops told the pontiff of "concerted efforts" against the "right of conscientious objection...to cooperation in intrinsically evilpractices" - an apparent reference to proposals by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, opposed by the U.S. bishops, that all private health insurance plans cover surgical and artificial birth control.

New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference, addressed this and other matters in an op/ed piece in the Wall Street Journal this week.

An "engaged, articluate and well-formed Catholic laity" with the courage and critical skills to articulate the "Christian vision of man and society" is the proposed response to such threats, the pope stated.

Education of Catholics is essential to the "new evangelization," a highlight of Benedict's pontificate.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A pause and a prayer

The liturgy of the hours are the official prayer for Christians since the second Vatican Council in 1962-65.

When one's own words limp and fail to engage the Maker, conventional prayers, like the psalms that are a large part of the liturgy of the hours each day are clearly a big help to each of us.

Withe the penitential 40-day season of Lent starting Feb. 22nd, praying the liturgy of the hours would be a routine that merits the commitment, followed by the 50-day Easter season through Pentecost Sunday, a bigger celebration since Resurecction is BIG!

Intercessions, psalms, additional scriptural citations, a gospel canticle, and more, comprise the liturgy of the hours, that are ideally set to music since psalms are meant to be sung.

Luke 1:46-55 is a gospel canticle used during evening prayer, for example:

My soul proclaims the greeatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.

From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.

He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their consent.

You may want to open you bible for the remaining verses.

Prayer and pauses thorughout the day diminish stress and keep people connected with God.

Monday, January 23, 2012

To Life!

This memorial of the four decades since Roe v. Wade, January 22, 1973, merits mentioning,especially in light of the 40 million babies who have experienced death since that fateful decision.

To life!

Since World War II, neighbors seemed to have stopped being neighborly when front porches were deleted, and attached garages these days afford anonymity.

Similarly, life is on the wane since Roe v. Wade, sad to admit.

The quality of life ebbs.

"No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal prtoection of the laws," the 14th Amendment clearly notes for us.

To life!

Ron Paul said in one of the debates that he was taught in medical school that he was dealing with two persons, mother and child, at birth. Yet, passion for life is little, and, the fight for life, and overturning of Roe v. Wade is met by many with a yawn.

The slippery slope of the preciousness of life in and outside the womb is alarming.

I'm for life in the womb and outside it!

Liberty and the right to life.

This foundational right to life merits defense today and always as the quality of life has been cheapened no end without the clarion call TO LIFE with enthusiasm, from the Greek, "God within."

Saturday, January 21, 2012

My Motown, Michigan, Marriage, and, America Coming Apart

Division is in the land.

And, in my Motown of metropolitan Detroit, Michigan, and beyond, in America's marriages also.

In 2010, marriage was down 36 percentage points, one source notes.

In 1960, 94 percent of white upper middle class people between the age of 30-49 with at least a college education and working in managerial jobs, or, in high-status professions, were married.

Quite a drop among white working class people age 30-49 with no more than a high-school education in blue-collar, low-skill or service jobs.

And, secularism is up 21 percentage points among people who profess no religion or attend a worship service no more than once a year.

Is an American way of life in trouble as the working class seems less attracted to foundational institutions like marriage and religion?

I think so.

In fact, Macomb County, marriage and family advocates, are observing the third anniversary of the signing of a Community Marriage Policy (CMP) that numerous counties and city across the United States have endorsed.

On Monday, March 5th, for example, at 6 pm with a pot luck supper in Sacred Heart Church in Roseville, suburbanites are supporting the City of Detroit with a meal for the needy to promote neighborliness in a Love God/Neighbor Initiative that began in December. A 7 pm round table discussion on the state of marriage and family follows the meal donated by area restaurants.

And, the Macomb Community Marriage Policy (CMP) that was issued by a crowd of civic, clergy and citizens, March 6, 2009, will mark its anniversary when Roseville Mayor John Chirkun, among others gathered in Sacred Heart Church in Roseville, for strengthening marriage and family.

What's up with the statistics that show a new divide in the United States?

The research of Charles Murray, the W.H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, merits close study in his new tome, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010
(Crown Forum) out January 31, 2012.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Welcome Winter Wonderland

With snow in the metropolitan Detroit area, it seems that the winter wonderland we are known for is finally arriving.

What do you make of this weather?

Strange that it hass been so warm, isn't it?

Michigan's economy relies on the snow for the ski industry and more, so I'm grateful.

And those who ski down hill must appreciate it also.

Who is the patron saint of those who ski, do you know?

That vigorous sport needs all the help it can get you know.

Let me know if you are aware of that saint's name, please.

And, in the menatime enjoy this white wonderfland puff!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Unity over conflict, cry of Martin Luther King, Jr. remembrances

Unity over conflict was the cry Monday as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., day was remembered in Detroit.

"Angels and ministers of grace, defend us," Bankole Thompson, senior editor of the Michigan Chronicle, prayed, quoting William Shakespeare, as hundreds gathered for the observance in the Buerki Auditorium of Henry Ford Hospital.

A political news analyst at WDET 101 FM, Thompson complained of the "vicious assaults" on President Barack Obama, while William Jones, Jr., who heads Focus:HOPE, reminded a crowd at the sprawling campus at 1355 Oakman Boulevard of "attack on voters' rights."

Speakers at Henry Ford Hospital, including Dr. Chad Audi, recipient of a health education achievement award, and leader of the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries in Detroit, called for community service "as Governor Rick Snyder "limited welfare benefits without a plan," Audi charged.

A "cry for unity" in a coordinated and organized way to serve needy and homeless residents was proposed by Audi.

"Step up, step aside, or get rolled over," Thompson said, motivating participants to rise from their seats while thunderously applauding amid a day sprinkled with music, memories, and, more, as praise was voiced for countless volunteers, and, hospital and Detroit Rescue Mission Mission staff, who filled the room.

"Time is always right to do what is right," Thompson said, quoting from the iconic civil rights and nonviolent champion, King Jr., who was murdered in 1968. King would have been 83 Monday.

Founders of Focus:HOPE, the late Father William Cunnginham, and, Eleanor Josaitis who died of cancer at 79 this past August, were remembered for their "servant and selfless leadership," according to Thomas Armstead, who gave up a job to help start Focus:HOPE in '68, shortly after civil unrest in Motown.

Josaitis believed that the King holiday should be "a day on, not a day off," organizers said.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Healing and Enslavement

At the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue in Detroit, Michigan on this morning's Sabbath, a Torah study, called, Parshat Shemot, led by Rabbi Dorit Edut, who heads the Detroit Interfaith Network, and, a healing verse gripped my attention, among other matters, at this vibrant place of worship in a gem of a City.

Mee She-bay-rach a-vo-tay-nu
M'kor hab'ra-cha l ee-mo-tay-nu
May the source of strength,
Who blessed the ones before us,
Help us find the courage
To make our lives a blessing,
And, let us say, Amen!

Mee She-bay-rach ee-mo-tay-nu
M'kor hab'ra-cha la-a-vo-tay-nu
Bless those in need of healing
With R'fu-ah sh'lay-mah
The renewal of body,
The renewal of spirit,
And, let us say, Amen!

The study sheet, another stirring piece, noted:
Why did Pharaoh decide to enslave the Israelites?

A Spanish medieval commentator, Nachmanides claims that Pharaoh had both strategic and economic reasons. He feared that the Israelietes, now large in number may join an invading army as a fifth column, and then escape with a considerable amount of Egypt's wealth. Instead of killing their leaders, Pharaoh begins to tax their property and force them to work on his projects.
He allowed the Egyptian officers to take over commanding them and allowed them to enslave the Israelites for their own projects and homes. Thus all of Egypt profited from the Israelites slave labor.

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, a 19th century commentator, claims that the Jews were "aliencs" in Egypt; therefore, they were considered a justifiable target for first reducing their rights, and then for harsh and cruel treatment. Pharaoh also had just come to power and was weak. As a way of strengthening his own power and rallying the people beind him, he encouraged the masses to oppress the Jews, hoping that his own popularity would increase this way, that is, allowing the masses to enrich themselves by stealing from the "aliens" and taking their own frustrations in violence against them.

A Midrash Exodus Rabbah and Yalkut Shimoni wrote that the Jews may have brought the enslavement and suffering on themselves. After Jospeh died, the Israelites began to assimilate and become themselves. After Joseph died, the Israelites began to assimilate and become like the Egyptians, giving up the practice of circumcision, attending sporting events at amphitheaters and circuses, moving into Eygptian neighborhoods, and practicing their faith less and less.
Pharaoh and the people became suspicious of their motives and of their competing with them for businesses or moving into their neighborhoods. This led to strong opposition and Pharaoh's decision to enslave the Jews.

A modern Jewish biblical commentator, Nechama Leibowitz asserts that the Jews were apparently without any brave leaders who would stand up to Pharaoh and his oppressive measures. There was no resistance, no battle for rights. As a result, Pharaoh became bolder and increasingly oppressive until he had done away with all their freedoms and had totally enslaved them.

This methodology of teaching about enslavement invites engagement from the audience.

What are your thoughts, given the depth of these comments from learned leaders and commentators?

Isn't it true that culture always cries out for bold leaders?

Who are they today?

Are there any courageous and inspiring women and men to move us to morph, reform and
imagine better ways, moral and ethical people and institutions who recognize the need for change that begins with self?

Are there?

If not, why not?

And, what about you and me?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Noble Man

The martyred minister, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., believed in peaceful and non-violent protest.

The success of the Montgomery bus boycott launched this mentor into the national spotlight.

Earlier today, in a Clinton Township library, another iconic woman, Rosa Parks, came to mind.

A man in the library approached a young woman who, allegedly sat in the chair where he left a bag on the floor.

"That's my chair you're in," he yelled.

"No one was in this chair and I'm not moving," she firmly stated with calm.

Directly across from her, I smiled at her for her courage.

"You reminded me of Rosa Parks who would not give up her seat to a white man on a bus,"
I told her.

She smiled and continued to read.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1964, King, said:

"Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars; I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear."

A Benediction Prayer by King:

"And now unto him who is able to keep us from falling and lift us from the dark valley of despair to the mountains of hope, from the midnight of desperation to the daybreak of joy, to him be power and authority, for ever and ever. Amen."

As the Rev. Ed Rowe in his downtown Detroit church always asks me when I see him, and I recall as we remember Dr. King Monday:

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

What happened?

Tebow and These Times

Imagine that!

Tim Tebow, the Denver Bronco football quarterback, pauses to genuflect in his iconic posture.

Such courage to do that in a culture that aims another way, directly to one's self as the center of creation, pushing God over.

Fresh air.

It is. Really.

Muslims pray five times a day during work or where they may be at any given time. Do people complain? Some do, I'm sure.

Does praying make people nervous?

Does it make them examine their own living?


The Christian Tebow stirs conversation with his pause to pray and to acknowledge God at games.

This is America.

Founded on fathers who were Christian.

Welcome to this new world!

Imagine a world with more prayer, pausing and leaning on the Maker, and, Center of all creation?

We need a better world, wouldn't you agree?

Imagine a better way.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Motown, Martin, Immigrants and More

Civil rights movement leader, Martin Luther King Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia on January 15, 1929.

All God's children - black and white - sitting together at the table is the reverberating tone and theme resounding from this man's message in my Motown before the horror of his murder in 1968, that fateful year when so much social unrest, violence and martyrdom marked the demise of my own brother, Lucas Ventline in Vietnam.

Fresh air filled my cup of coffee Monday with the Wall Street Journal's front-page, banner headline: REVITALIZED DETROIT MAKES BOLD BETS ON NEW MODELS.

"But today, there are renewed signs that Motown is back. The latest evidence of its revival will be on full display this week at the North American Internatonal Auto Show in Detroit," writers Jeff Bennett and Neal Boudette declared in that same WSJ story.

Amid that evergreen hope, Detroit's financial problems haunt it while hands-full of metropolitan Detroit-area leaders from civic, church and citizens meet to list concrete ways to fix the ailing town that continues to shrink from its 1.2 peak once upon a Motown.

A fifth in a series of supportive sessions seem to hand a huge hug around my birthplace near Van Dyke and Lynch Road, near the once booming Detroit City Airport. My dad drove the seven of us siblings there on Sundays to watch planes rise into the blue sky to compete with the Big Three auto companies now bouncing back from near collapse.

A helping hand reached out from the U.S. President despite naysayers powerful protestations.

"I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, that rough places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together," the Rev. Dr. King thundered out to a restless nation.

And, while we celebrate the American Catholic bishops unheeded, Economic Justice for All: A Pastoral Letter on Catolic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy," a quarter of a century ago, "fresh air" fills my bones and being no end these days when we observe Monday, King's call for the church to be the "conscience of the state," addressing those with power and influence. Prophetically, he intended to preach punching words the Sunday after his assassination, entitled, "Why America May Go to Hell."

Detroit has been through hell, and back, I believe.

It bleeds with more than 46 million Americans, including 16 million children who are poor, with 50 million medically uninsured, 9 percent of workers unemployed , and, shamefully, 40 percent of the nation's wealth controlled by the richest 1 percent of the population.

The common good demands justice for all, and, the protection of the human rights of all, the voices of conscience challenged, including a local bishop, Thomas Gumbleton, of Detroit who helped pen the penetrating piece asking:

(1) What does the economy do for people?

(2) What does it do to people?

(3) And, three, how do people participate in it?

Tax cuts for the wealthy loom large, nevertheless, as my Motown, and many more, manage with so little, or, go without as families, among others, seek lodging, sanctuary, and, the Warming Center at Saints Peter and Paul Jesuit Church, in the shadow of the towering Renaissance Center on Jefferson, in downtown Detroit, for example.

These are signs of the time to be discerned as the ecumenical Second Vatican Council hoped.

Conversations need to continue as people hammer out ways to make my Motown work well for all its inhabitants, including the immigrants we need that no cities are warmly welcoming.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Waiting to watch the Detroit Lions play the New Orlean Saints tonight is worth the wait, for sure.

How they got to this spot is amazing.

Relishing this playoff game required discipline and focus.

It also means that they've been hungry enough to want to win games this season, a first for my home-town Motown team in decades.

Winners practice discipline and routine each day.

Practice is key, any winner knows.

Without practice at the sport, the Lions would never have been in tonight's game.

And, even though they played the Saints this season before and lost, it does mean that they have worked hard to get back into the game and could win tonight.

Keeping their eye on the prize is critical to victory tonight.

Like fans, who are there when they win and lose, the aim is victory.

Go Lions!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Being for Recovery

Join others and experience recovery and balance this fresh, new year with Being for Recovery, four Mondays of January, starting Jan. 9th from 7-8:15 pm in the lower level (side, southeast door) of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 18430 Utica Road at Gratiot in Roseville, 48066.

Reservations, and, a telephone assessment is required with pastor and board certified professional counselor by calling Rev. Lawrence M. Ventline, D.Min., at 586 777 9116, or sacredheartroseville@saintly.com Teens and older, including families, are welcome who are motivated and disciplined for a full life, and, want to overcome relational and attachment and addictive problems in 2012. Accountability counts and treatment works. This group begins the way to recovery. Individual sessions may follow in Suite 220 A of the Foam Factory at 22800 Hall Road, west of Groesbeck in Clinton Twp.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Goals for 2012

People claim that resolutions for the new year won't work.

I disagree.

Goals are good.

They keep us aiming at something.

For me, walking everyday for at least 20 minutes will be a goal I take seriously.

For wellness, exercise is as hepful as any opportunities for growth and education to keep one's mind healthy.

Keeping the end in mind at the start of as one sets out to strive to keep a goal is worth the aim.

For example, do I want to keep my soul and body well in 2012?

Of course.

So, how will I do that?

A daily examination of conscience with the Scriptures is a good start. The golden rule helps steer one well.

The daily walk works well doing the trek at a regular time, like naming a time to pray early each day.

Goals are realized in daily steps or chunks.

One step, one day at a time works best.

Just as with directions to a store or restaurant work well, a map each day does the job.