Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Priest Personnel

Jim St.Germaine was preparing a cicular enclosed mound of soil enshrining a polished statue of Mary on the campus of Saint Nicholas Catholic Church in Clinton Township, MI..

The next day he aimed to plant pansies.

Between uprooting weeds, Jim, now in his 80s, conversed with me about many topics.

Our connection was Saint Rene Goupil Church in Sterling Heights, MI., where his family prayed after joining years after I had moved from there to St. Christine Church in Detroit.

My son thinks that the answer to the priest personnel problem is clergy having another job besides being a priest.

"That's the worker priest concept,"  I said.

Father Jacques Loew spawned the worker-priest movement  when he worked in the docks at Marseilles in 1941.

A re-examination of priestly life and vocation began with hundreds of other French Catholic priests.

Loew, a Dominican order priest studied the condition of the working classes with clergy engaging in jobs in car factories, among other jobs.  They intended to experience the everyday life of those they ministered among daily.

Father Karol Wojtyla, a young Polish priest and future Pope John Paul II, visited Marseilles in 1947.  Wojtyla seemed certain that this "apostolic work" was the way for the French church "to reach its
 own believers."

However, the abandonment of the traditonal preist way of life and the worker-priests' growing role in left-wing politics, raised concerns and Pope Pius XII ended this experiment in 1954.

Merit mounts, it seems to me, when pastors work in the trenches with the people, however.   Experiencing their daily struggles and joys assists clergy in pastoral care, and, fruitful ministry.

"I wish my son would get a real job,"  my dad once told an usher of my home church of the late Saint Thomas the Apostle, on Detroit's east side.

Dad was a farmer who worked hard with his hands.

Exploring anew the worker-priest movement merits such examination.

In a way, my special assignment as a counselor that was not my idea is part of the worker-priest movement.  Although my bishop asked me to do this, I suspect that the lack of enthusiasm and support for this cryptic assignment, as Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, wondered out loud about its meaning, has its roots in fears of the worker-priest movement.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Poppy and Memorial Day's Meaning Monday

A poppy.

"In Flanders fields the poppies blow between the crosses, row on row."

John McCrae, a Canadian army officer and physician penned those words after witnessing carnage's horror at Ypres.

Those departed dead soldiers, including my own brother, Lucas Ventline, since World War I who are recalled this Memorial Day with the red crepe-paper poppies, have that 1915 poem, entitled, "In Flanders Fields."

Responding back to the poem's beginning, those memorialized dead this Monday voice:

"To you from failing hands we throw the torch; be yours to hold it high.If ye break faith with us who die we shall not sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders fields."

A poppy ripe with red of blood shed and spread across the globe. 

Never again a war!

War's primitive ways of resolving conflict, and, tradition never again. 

But, a poppy merits Monday's meaning mostly for memory of many women and men mighty warriors defending liberty bell and beyond.

A poppy to wear.

Like a penny pressed in one's palm to remind in God we trust, the poppies we wear, "blow between the crosses, row on row."

They signify the meaning, and, the many we mourn this Monday's Memorial

Friday, May 25, 2012

Door Ajar

Keep your door ajar.

It's like your soul.  And, like poet,  Emily Dickinson, who notes:

"The soul should always stand ajar
that if the Heavens inquire / He will
not be obliged to wait."

Thomas Moore says that. He's a former monk and psychotherapist, and author of the bestselling book, Care of the Soul, by the same name, Cura Animarum, Cure of the Soul, in Latin, of the organization I head, Care of the Soul and Companions Counseling in Clinton Township, MI (22800 Hall Road, Suite 220-A, west of Groesbeck, 48036).

A closed door, he suggests, is like a lid on a coffin.

In Spirituality and Health magazine, Moore offers tips on growing and forming spiritually.

Human development is like that.

To be open.

That is to be alive to each new day, fresh relationships, engaging adventures, and more.

Ajar is OK, wide open, however is not advised, the counselor claims.

Another poet wrote about walls that keep people in.  And, they keep others out.

Absolutes and exclusions are sure factors in ruining relationships.

My way or the highway.  Members only. 

At a church festival, a suspect helped in the poker tent.  Mr. Bashara was noticed and the pastor wondered why he was even there.

"He's not even a member," quipped the pastor who ousted the suspect who may have something to do with the murder of his wife in Grosse Pointe, MI.


Many of the people at that festival were probably not members of the church in St. Clair Shores.

Absolutely out!

Keep your door ajar.

There's something fresh in the air with light, and more, when the door is ajar.

Much like one's soul ready for the Maker's knock.

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Crazy Sort of World, O God!

How do you manage this loving world, O God?

So many guns.

So much violence.

You don't give up on us, however.  And, you don't interfere in our resolving these major problems we're drowning in, it seems, no?

Adoration's derivative reminds me of the close love you have for us and hearing your voice as I get close in adoring you in prayer and praise. Communion with you.  Prayer is our ground with you. 

Young men need mentors to show them the way, your Way! Fathers of sons, step forth!  Lead yor son you abandoned.  Be a real man who makes a father, more than just a baby any guy can make.

Thanks for who and what you are, O God,  and what you do for us fragile crack pots, to borrow from the prophet Jeremiah!

The wild west is not what we need with more guns and more youngsters shooting up this town.

I will not give up in siding with you who says:  "Those who live by the sword will die by it."


Guns are  a primitive, cowardly ways of settling conflict, no, God?

Better ways you have given us to solve grievances.  Human ways.  Talking.

The world is so different now. I grew up with the Golden Rule people seem to have thrown out.
How we need you, Creator, Maker.

Help us, I pray, to come to our senses.

Help us, I beg you, to stop the escalating numbers of guns and anger all around us.

Amen.   +

Sunday, May 20, 2012

7 day novena in preparation for Pentecost Sunday

A week from today, Christians observe the close of the 50-day Easter season on Pentecost Sunday, the last Sunday of this month, the day before Memorial Day.

"Come Holy Sprit, renew the face of the earth," is sung with gusto as parishioners wear red, the color of passion for the powerful Holy Spirit who rests within at baptism.

Worshippers prayer this day we recall the Ascension of the Lord:

Gladden us with holy joys, almighty God, and make us rejoice with devoit thanksgiving, for the Ascension of CHrist your Son is our exaltation, and where the Head has gone before in glory, the Body is called to follow in hope, we pray for ever and ever.

At Mass today at Saint Thecla Catholic Church, and Saint Claude Chapel in Clinton Township, I will ask those believers who were received into the Church through formation in the rite of Christian initiaiton of (RCIA) to join me for breakfast.  This period of reflection allows them to ponder and pause what their baptism, reception and experience of the Church has been so far.

Seven days are filled with prayers for the powerful coming of the Holy Spirit in our hears and living each day.  It is called Novena to make all things new and fresh like the Spirit's dwelling and taking residence within believers.

Come, Holy Spirit!

For seven days I will say those words slowly and reflectively.

I will urge the coming of the Spirit to morph and mend minds and hearts of the church community.

In a particular way, I will ask the Holy Spirit to assist leaders in strenthening the fragile and financially-struggling Detroit.  Motown, as Detroit is called, is my birthplace.

It is my hope to rebuild and morph Motown with other clergy, civic and citizenry.

US Congressman Hansen Clark (D-13) will join a group of these leaders June 4, with a meal at 6, followed by a panel presentation on ways to strengthen Detroit.

Concrete actions will be given, and proposals are marked with a timeline to see each one through with accountability.

The novena will build confidence in me to make all things new!

Friday, May 18, 2012


After a memorial for fallen firefighters and police personnel in Roseville, Michigan today I headed to Cosco.

Up and down the aisles I went trying to determine the merit of renewing my membership there.

Up until I arrived at the counter with "live" mussels deep in crushed ice from Canada, I was quite sure that renewing my membership was not in my best interest as a single person.

I was so intrigued with the mussels, and the challenge of steaming them.

After all, I recalled eating them on Long Island with an old priest friend of mine, Louis Reuss of Bohemia, New York.

Having been told how to prepare them, I was confident with the purchase, and, the updated card.
An executive card seemed worth my while as well.

The experience in the store was incredible. People readily engaged in conversation.

In my black suit and Roman collar - the ID for clergy - talking with many people at most counters was inspiring and exciting.

Much counsel.  A lot of advice from drinking water only, without juices, and, staying in the garden area of grocery stories about 90 percent of one's shopping spree is what a Filipino nurse told me.

The mussels needed to breathe so I had to keep the plastic bag open as I toured the store to decide.
Then, I'd have to walk about a mile to the parish office near Jack's Bar-b-que where I left my Prius.
Worried about the fish, I moved quickly to get the mussels home and in the regrigerator for supper.
If the mussels died, and, I steamed them, I would get terribly sick, I was told.

So . . .

What an adventure it was to steam them later this evening.

And, to eat them.

Steam them in wine, some garlic, butter, oregano, I recall the selling saying to me.


And, different.

The challenge.

I love it!


What a trek, indeed.

Where is all the violence heading?

Daily one hears of the violent murders and shootings in my Motown where I grew up on Detroit's east side not far from the Detroit City Airport.

Good people are told to get a gun. 

It seems as though everyone has a gun. 

After all, it is our second ammendent constitutional right.

But, if we have all these guns, will we not use them?

And, why are we not teaching people, and, the young to repsect guns if there are to live with us, and accompany so many each step of the steps they trek?

Without thinking deeply, last night while watching Channel Two News the thought of the Michigan National Guard coming into town seemed like a viable way out.

At least temporarily, anyway!

We must stop the killing!

Are we heading to self destruction in my Motown?

All the talk about this must find us all acting to put down the guns that are meant to murder.

Or, else?

Can we sit by and just let it continue?

Or, will we rise up in soidarity with our faith leaders taking the lead to stop the slaughter?

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

A Pause, A Prayer for Fallen Police, Firefighters of Roseville, Michigan

+Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth, and firefighters and police personnel.

O Lord of life and light, like a brief candlelight they warmed our hearts protecting us.  And they put out flooding fires that could harm and destroy.
You gave, and continue to give life, to those whom we remember this day - the stilled and  fallen firefighters, the breathless police personnel who endlessly and tirelessly protected us.

In courage they gave and gave.  Like angels, good news bearers, they watered destructive fires that engulfed our loves ones, and, even the lives of firefighters overcome with flames. Some we remember today.

May this candlelight keep their lives alive, at least in our memories, and, in those here today whose hearts are broken, a light is flickering, and, love limps in the loss of a firefighter, a police officer.

They are a light in your Light. A little or a lot it doesn't matter. They are light.

Unafraid they fought fire amid floods of water pouring on to the flames of fire.

With courage the police defend life and justice and keep light alive, even if only a flickering memory
of one who died fighting crime, or fights, or fires.

Help them and us, and those we remember, to help us keep the light burning bright in their memory.

Don't let us ever let the light go out.  That light that police and fire personnel bring to any harmful situation.  Keep them wise, O Lord, and awashed in your brilliant light and wisdom.

Let us be confident in giving our deceased police and fire personnel over to your embracing love
as you hold the deceased in your huge heart.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.

Live on kindly light.

And, let us not ever let the light go out on those we remember here, this day.  So help us God.

A M E N.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Pausing in Port Austin, Michigan

A ride north on M-19 through Verona to Port Austin in  Michigan's thumb always proves refreshing.

A frenetic culture filled with anxiety, it seems, is the prescription for rest, at least for this pilgrim poking his way through small towns, and  the countryside.

Peck, Michigan brings back memories of years ago when friends and I would stop at a bakery there for the pancake-size oatmeal cookies that can't be beat.

In fact, I turned back after assuming the bakery would no longer have them.


For $3.50 a dozen, two white bagsfull of oatmeal, chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies delighted my walk back to my car where my snow-white Bichon Frise, Woof, awaited.

Roots, relationships and religion always have a way of connecting me with my dad's side of the tribe, so to speak.

My first stop after a bite into an oatmeal cookie brought me directly across the street from Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Bad Axe where Michael Josaitis was nowhere near to be found this sunny Friday afternoon around 3. 

I decided to park my car at his home and take a walk with Woof to Buckley's on Main Street in town.

Forty-five minutes later, Michael's van sat in front of his huge house as he loaded up items to store elsewhere.

Excitedly, he asked:  "Where were you?  I even called the police and they tracked you, and, then I guessed who it was parked in my driveway!"

A question mark made of black tape adorned the driver's window of my Habeneros Prius Hybrid that combines at 51 miles of gas each mile, something I can afford apart from my gas-guzzling Jeep.

Woops, I thought as Michael mounted his protest of me parking in his space, I guess!

I didn't mean to excite anyone.

After sharing a long and engaging  talk in the sun,  and,  warm bottled-water from  my trunk, I headed north to Port Austin to visit my cousins Leonard and Theresa Horetski.  They were preparing the soil for corn and other crops on their farm adjacent to the Levine acres where I'm told my dear dad was raised before he hiked to Detroit to work for the Budd Company at 16.

A couple of hours of delightful memories and moments moved me to my brother's home on M-25, along the glassy blue and rocky Lake Huron.

After a chat with Bob, I retired for some praying of the psalms, and a restful sleep.  Afterall, the next day would have me wheeling my way back refreshed and ready to face life's joys and sorrows some more.

That pause was precious, however.

Hours away give me a fresh perspective on things that matter most.

And, Sunday was Mother's Day.  Moms would be making their way to celebrate Mass, and more.

After all, there it all began in my own mom's womb and sanctuary, and, there in the tabernacle, in the heart and center  of  Jesus, answers to  all of the problems of life get settled, at least for this pilgrim passing over in my sixth decade of a rocky, wild and joy-filled trek as a Catholic.

I recall the words of the Gospel of John, and craft a homily,  "All my mother ever told me... Remain in my love."

All she ever showed me was love amid her own human trek of raising seven kids with dad's help.
I can't ask for much more than that, can I?

Pauses away, like these, sprinkled with a few psalms throughout the day and week are like savoring a hot cup of green tea.  Or, a dewfall of blessings pouring down to water and nourish hungry hearts.

I relish it all.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

All I Got from Mother

All I got from mom was a reminder to shut the door after opening it.

Mom said to wear clean underwear always.

She said to be to school on time.

Mother may I?

I asked and all I got was dinner, three square, on time, home cooked, with her delicious chocolate cake she made from scratch.

All I got from that were friends who could smell that cake and her sizzling, baked apple and cherry piece.


I got encouragment from mom.  All I ever got.

All I ever got from mom was when she walked to school in Cheboygan, Michigan, her sandwich greased with lard would fall in the creek.

We walked three miles to schools, mom always told the seven of us kids when we want 25 cents for the DSR bus on Van Dyke to Miller on Detroit's east side.

All I got from mom was be whatever you want, but be good at it!

Stop fighting, that's all she ever said to Bob, Lucas and me!

Come on in before dark and the street lights go on!

Get your homework done now!

Clean your room.

Don't run!



That's all I got from mom.

I miss you since you passed over in 1975 dear mom.  And brother Butch also.  But your love for all of us was bountiful.

I love you!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

They Want Community

They care about each other.

And, they worry when one of them is missing. 

Social media, especially the telephone, is engaged by this closeknit group. 

And, when they observe and  feel that their sense of community is threatened unfairly, they speak up.

Fractured parishes, among other organizations and communities, seem to mount these days.

Resolving conflicts in these same communities entails patience, among the other virtues of faith, hope and charity.

Yet, a two-way street, so to speak, needs to ensue if satisfactions is the aim.

Customer care is like that.

Service requires stooping low t lift up life, and live out of the Gospel "good news."

Otherwise, people may grow a "hardness of heart" about leaders who may refuse to talk through issues.

Family is like that also. 

Differences demand communications.

Atrophy of hard feelings follow if parishioners, for example, or, a board of directors of a condominium association, to illustrate another, fail to live by the rules and regulations, let alone the Good Book.

Holding up and "circling the wagons" about the fort, to cite another metaphor, only makes people bristle and defend their positions.

Bringing the Creator into the "mix" and the mixed up parties involved is a sure way of resolving conflicts in church and society.

Without honoring this process of dialog, people resort to other means.

Some choose to walk away from their community.  Others stop giving tithes, or making offerings to support the system's charities, and, staff personnel, and other ordained leaders.

When God is not in the recipe for healing hurts of the people of God, rage and revolt ensue, sad to

And, more bitter feelings follow.

The Good News is that because Jesus the Christ offers solutions to problems yet to be tried in some cases.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Augustine Center Retreat, Petoskey, Michigan

The time is nearing for some spiritual renewal and recreation at a northern, Michigan retreat center, called Auyustine Center, headed by the Sisters of the Sacramentine Retreat House in Petoskey, Michigan. 

Bob Baranski of Warren, Michigan explains the details in an invitation to the public.

Located about 250 miles from metropolitan Detrit, it is 12 miles west of the Indian River Shrine, where the largest crucifix in the world is situated for pilgrims and guests to view and be inspired.

The three day unstructured retreat begins on Monday June 4th with departure on the 7th, according to Baranski.

Cost of $60 includes three meals each day with a private room with a bathroom and shower.  Women and men are welcome.

Care of the Soul and Companions welcomes others of all faith traditions to join them on this retreat, a time for connecting more intensely with God by way of prayer, perhaps fasting, and some still time from the frentic pace one keeps in the culture of the city life.

If you want more information, please call me at the historic Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Roseville, MI., at 586 777 9116, or write me at sacredheartroseville@saintly.com.  We can organize rides to limit the number of vehicles treking to Petoskey.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Consistency, Truth, More


And, consistency in telling the truth.

The whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.

Does fear prevent one from being honest?

Fear of transparent living?  Fear of being who I am?

Fear does close one down, freezes her or him literally.

It locks one into her or his self.

Truth sets one free.

From fear.  From shadows, sin.

"I am the way, the truth and the life,"  Jesus is to have said in the sacred writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

The great I AM statements of Jesus are many.

I am the truth, the door, way, the life, the gate. . .

One does not like the truth.

It shows one as he or she really is in life.

If the shoe fits, wear it, the saying goes.

Truth is like that.

Truth about my weight, age, integrity, and more may be hard to accept.

So, one may lie, and be far from truth.

Honesty is the best policy.

Like truth, honest living helps me sleep deeply, and well each night.