Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bread, Being and Nora Ephron's Zest for Living a Full Life

Bread and roses.


Bread, being and Nora Ephron, the author, screenwriter and director of the movie, Harry Meets Sally, depicting the differences between women and men.

Witty, funny and impassioned.

That's how she was in life, death and beyond.

Bread was important for Nora.

She claimed that we had the best bread ever and yet people didn't want to eat it given the fear of getting fat.  Bread in balance, like everything else in moderation matters most, the philosophers teach, and, the way's of nature, and, natural law whole-heartedly support.

A staple of life.

That's bread.

Living bread come down from Heaven.

Give us this day, our daily bread.

Food from Heaven.

The abundant life comes with this "living Bread" come down from Heaven.

We break bread, share it, and open up God's Word as we unfold the food for life's trek.

Breaking bread and God's Word are two parts of the Mass, re-emphasized with the historic, ecumenical, and universal Vatican II Council fifty years ago this October when it began.

The abundant life.

Word, Bread.


Like bread, and, the fragrance and aroma of Christ that Pauline theology addresses for each of us to be a pleasant "smell" of our God where we go each day. Like a rose's perfume, yet thorny spine and branches reminding us of the tree of the cross and the tree of Life eternal in our "passing over," given our brevity of life on Earth.  Pain, joy, and more, are the mix of life to surrender, for sure, to alway and forever as pilgrim people livingout of suticases as it were unattached!

Matter and energy are not destroyed but transformed, as scientists prove.  This earthen vessel, this "living temple," body, and "tent" we pitch  for a time aims for the Eternal Life lasting forever when the earthy dwelling dies, like my boyhood friend, John Domenick, dying this moment with multiple internal organ dysfunction, among other maladies,  in St. John Macomb Hospital in Warren, MI. 

Eternal rest unto him as John let's go of this earthly life for the glorious, greater being, union and communion, recovery, God willing, with God soon.

Available to us daily for the taking, eating, breaking open the Word, and sharing Holy Communion, the Bread of Life, thanks be to God!


Monday, June 25, 2012

Fish Flies, Summer Sweeps and Anonymous Christians

Those there fish flies in Saint Clair Shores and my home in Harrison Township, Michigan.

They come with Summer's debut June 21st in time for the sweep of the parking lot and space near my garage, my balcony, and my grateful front porch that I relish. 

After all,  front porches, like the big one we had on Arcola Street, near Lynch Road and Van Dyke, where my six siblings and I grew up with mom and dad, Chipper, our dog, and various other pets, pigeons, rabbits and chipmonks, our harem of Detroit  East Side friends captured with a glass quart-size bottle over their hole in Mt. Olivet or Forest Lawn Cemetaries, not far from home.  The railroad tracks on Mt. Elliott, near the Plymouth and Chrysler Assembly Plants where my two brothers, the late Lucas, Bob and I worked, served as recreation for us.  So did the neighbor's pigeon coop on Tappan, across the alley.  I tagged along with my brother, and was caught raiding their coop as I tried to escape to the safety of our home before the Detroit Police came to give a lesson on stealing.

Water in, and chipmonk(s) out.  That's how it worked at the cemetary as we worried about salt guns freezing our feet still as the cemetary workers ran to catch us. It seems they never did, however.

My parents made us scrub our big, two-floor aluminum-sided and wooded-railing porch that I thought went with World War II.

So evaporated neighborliness when anonymity of attached garages and front porches left builder's plans and designs of how to live independently and with little engagement from one's neighbors.

In fact, I can leave my garage without contact, besides a wave perhaps to a passer-by, as the anonymous Christian Jesuit, German theologian, Karl Rahner, addressed in ecclesiology, or church psychology class at Saint Mary's College, Orchard Lake, MI., back in 1967-71, where I went.

Yet, in the Harrison Cove condominiums where I reside, certain neighbors engage next door when I'm watering the colorful plants, walking my Bichon Frise dog, Woof, or, sweeping summer's fish flies that seem stuck on staying on the garage door.

Couple those crunchy flies that the Wall Street Journal noted weeks ago with a front-page story, with cobwebs and other creepy creatures, and, one's sweep gets energized for a quick finish of the grunt work that few Americans relish these days, sad to admit.

Fish flies.


Dust, dirt and those unbaptized, yet anonymous Christians Father Rahner spoke about who were not formally initiated into the Church with the Holy Spirit and water poured over each one, although they lived out their days on earth like Christians should with neighborliness.

Kind of like moving over for those "friendly" fish flies who appear all over the roads for me to roll over and feel the crunch under tires.  Not to mention the dirt I live with until company are coming and I need to clean up the sidewalks of the dirt and other debris that piles up like the mound that made its ways into Grandma Clara's Cheboygan, MI., farm decades ago when one of my sister's swept it up into one pile.  Grandma was upsets, and asked:  "Who brought that dirt in the house?"

We either learn to live together, or, we die alone, as the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., warned.

We do.

We will.

It's summer.  And, time for a sweep, fish flies, and engagement with neighbors, even "nosey" ones.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Church Forgot That People Are the Church

Words of the District Attorney in the Philadelphia case where the Monsignor was charged today with child endangerment ring out loud and clear.

At least to me.

No doubt to many others, also, who firmly know in their heart and mind that central offices of the Church serve the people. Hire ups are to serve, not lord it over people.  And, protect all without peddling pedophile priests from parish to parish in a covert way.

That's what Philadelphia did, and, perhaps many more dioceses.

How tragic.  How sad.  What a sin!

And, to Vatican II, that historic ecumenical council that noted that the people are the Church.

How could one ever forget that?

The system is broken. God fix it, please.

Msgr. Lynn said he only made recommendations to the Cardinal of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  That was the limit of his influence.  Yet, he could have, should have called the police when children's lives were endangered.

The Church.  The children.  The people.

How could one forget that?

How does one try to preserve the good name of the institution over the innocent youngsters who have their soul stolen?

I find this difficult to believe.

I am so sorry the church hierarchs did this ghastly deed. And, on the back of a Monsignor while a Cardinal called all the shots even after the Monsignor made recommendations. The upper level of the hierarchs, the highest level, needs to take responsibility and resign for this continuing travesty against innocent human lives.

I am so sorry.  I know that may mean little, yet, I was taught to apologize when I made and error, or, sinned.

Those words, however, ring empty.

When will all this sex abuse end?

When will we get it finally?


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

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Biggest Loser

Weigh in first.

That's what participants will do Wednesday at Big Jack's Restaurant in Roseville, MI.

And, the biggest loser of weight wins.

She or he wins his or her own goal and objective, like the rung on a ladder to the top.

We'll work on a personal goal, build in a timeline to accomplish that "rung" up to the aim, and follow through with them all on July 9th at 7 pm in Sacred Heart Church in Roseville, a few blocks north of Big Jack's.

After some divine intervention to assist these pilgrims, if you will, who want to shed some pounds,
we'll talk about portion control.

Of food, that is.

Easting like a bird with small amounts numerous times daily works well, it seems to me.



A treatment plan.

And, a follow up session will equip the biggest losers of weight with tools and skills to shine some in the battle of the bulge.

It is a battle.

But, worth the effort given the spike in hypertension, diabetes and other related diseases robbing the soul out of thes living temples of the Holy Spirit, as the Good Book notes.

In the group, they'll feel support to shed some pounds, I bet.

Andm, they'll also be held accountable as the best of the twelve step groups press participants to get the job done one day at a time.

Or, each minute,  ever so gently, slowly, securely climbing that ladder one rung at a time up to the top, one's goal.


Mass at a local jail had me reflecting on rehabilitation of these twenty-year old men who fully participated in the worship service in a classroom on a warm afternoon.

Then I recall the Sheriff telling a Neighborhood Watch group at a condominium association recently that we have the most jails, and, the most incarcerated in the world.

Go figure.

What's so attractive?

A roof, three meals, companions?  


The group I prayed with Monday admitted that they were spending time in jail for lack of child support payments. And, other felonies, they said as they filed in and out for Mass and wanted to meet me.

As one guy left, he tried to talk.  Emotions kept him from getting the words out.  "It's so hard," he confessed.

"You can do this; you  will get through it," said the chaplain.  He moved on as the elevator awaited him with a space full of men going back to their cell, I guess.

"Use this time well to connect with the Creator," I consoled him.

"You can morph, mend and get on with life," I said, as we prayed for their families, spouses, partners, sick or dead grandparents, among others.

Bill's wife, on the other hand, the regular leader of the Word of God with these men,  told of his wife in hospice care at Sinai.  I could tell he was worried.  Who wouldn't be?

We prayed for her and Bill also.

If most of these guys don't have jobs, then, how can they support children they fathered?

Some steal and rob for items to sell for money, I imagine.



What's going on here?

How do we help this escalating problem of increasing numbers of men and women in jail these days?

Will we bring the finest minds together and resolve to address this maddening issue?

Or, will we pile and press them into the jail?

And, for what?

God help us!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Mystery, Growth

Mark's Gospel, chapter 4, 26-34 tells of growth and how the earth produces of itself.

No one understands it!

How growth happens in the deep, dark soil of the wet coupled with the sun's light is inexplainable.

God grows it!

As parents must wonder how a daughter or son grew so well, so wise, so successful, so one is perplexed by the growth of a mustand seed into a sturdy, strong tree, for example.

Much in life is not fully understood.

Can I live with ambiguity?

Or, am I so troubled with the mysteries of life that I give up believing or trusting in the Creator of earth and heavens? 

Patient endurance will do.  Time is involved.

And, unlike the way we clock the minutes and hours, days and nights!

Like Dad on this Father's Day, he doesn't know how a child became what he or she evolved into as an adult.

God is there.

Worry not about tomorrow, God is already there in the mix.

For sure.

The more than Father-Mother God has us covered.

Rest assured.

The Maker is like that. 

Dads are also.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


They call these little books, devotionals.

Life savers, they are, for me, perhaps you.

A regular routine and use of these daily prayer pages, if you will, serve to keep me connected with the Creator.

In addition to the Liturgy of the Hours, the official prayer of all the people of God since the second Vatican Council that had its start this September, fifty years ago, these psalm-like prayers in praise of the Maker, provide nourishment, and dependence on the Holy One who is alone Lord of life, no?

A Lutheran pastor who has a suite of rooms at the Foam Factory in Clinton Township on Hall Road, just west of Groesbeck, where my own office, suite 220-A, sits in that Italian-marble-laced structure, once told me of his love of devotionals.

The good pastor went on to admonish:

"It's because men and ministers fail to pray their devotionals that they get into trouble, and, they experience the loss of the lifeline of the Lord!"

How true, I concurred.

In my life, when I neglected the Liturgy of the Hours, or, these precious devotionals, my engagement with God was diminished, and, I was less for it.  As were the fruits of my labors, rather than God's goodness shining through ministry.

Such routine and regular practice nourishes long and always.

Each day.  Each prescribed hour these devotionals, Liturgy of the Hours, are just what the chief Physician prescribed in Jesus.

Now, get to the devotionals, or, go online and find a favored devotional especially the fourteen days before July 4th when religious liberty is on the heart and minds of many.

Let devotionals, and freedom ring forwever in our daily living.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Father's Day

Titles speak volumes.

And, "Father" does also.

This greeting and title tells of a time when being called "Father" was part of a clerical system. 

Even tough I appreciate the intent behind "Father," it still says much about its creation in the Catholic Church. I enjoy the salutation, however, its history may be more than I like to admit.

Priests have been called "Father" for centuries.

Like dads in a home, priests who are not permitted to marry, are similarly called, "Father."

All the words that greet clergy, like Reverend, Father, Most Reverend, and so forth, have their own story line.

People do react to the title of  "Father," however.

It brings up a lot for some people.

Of all the titles clergy have, Cardinal John Dearden said he savored "Father" most of all of the list he was called as a high-ranking prelate.

Happy Father's Day dad despite what some may prefer.

Personally, when the greeting offends another, it needs to be evaluated especially in the case of clergy being called, "Father."

Wally Ziemba: "Act; don't react on stage of life, Larry"

Monsignor Walter Ziemba was one of a kind.

He was.


Once, when I was seeking advice, the professor, pastor and superintendent of the Orchard Lake Schools at Orchard Lake, MI., said:

"Act; don't react on the the stage of life, Larry."

I needed his opinion when an elderly priest and friend of mine in Poletown was living with dementia and I needed the hierarchy's head pastor to know.

My wise English teacher told me to be proactive; while he knew that the boss was reactive.

I appreciate this bit of wisdom.

It served me well as we met in his parlor where a fireplace beamed with orange and red flames.

"Father, please pull down the shade," said Father Skalski.

The boss looked.  And, he knew now what I wanted him to experience in this gem of a pastor.

The dedicated host of Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) at OL, Msgr. Ziemba was a practical pastor who founded the development arm, the Ambassadors of the OL Schools, a Polish Mission, and a liturgical center for Polish-language aides for pastors who were formed by him, among others, all of his years since he was ordained a Catholic priest.

And, much more, as he taught freshman English to my 67 classmates and me in 1967 while I aimed to graduate from St. Mary's College toward service as a priest in 1976.

What a legacy Ziemba left.

Father Thomas Machalski who steers the seminary schools now, said:  "His death is a great loss to Orchard Lake."

What a bit of truth be told about Fr. Wally.

In a culture when many react to situations and problems,  this man of God, this shepherd of souls until his death last Friday at 85, taught me to respond and act as an actor on the stage of life.

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


So be it!

An iconic

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Solanus Casey Center Guided Prayer Path

"Probe me, God, know my heart; try me,
know my concerns.  See if my way is
crooked, then lead me in the ancient paths."
                       - Psalm 139: 23-24

It's like being on pilgrimage when I take a trek through the self-guided prayer path ( at the site at 1780 Mt. Elliott near downtown Detroit.

Years ago, at nearby the the largely Belgian based-parish of Our Lady of Sorrows Church on Meldrum and Kercheval, only a few blocks from the revered monastery of Blessed Solanus Casey, almost daily I would take a jog past this architectural edifice.  Ever so often I would stop for for a respite to visits guests and have a coffee at the soup kitchen that opened early each day.

Here in the hall of saints, as it is called, there are models of holiness - the aim of each Catholic, among other Christians.  To be holy. These were, including Saint Katherine Drexel, Saint Joseph the Just, Saint  Elizabeth of Hungary, Saint Martin dePorres,  Saint Clare of Assisi, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Saint Francis of Assisi, and Saint Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower.

Along with these women and men are the corporal and spiritual works of mercy Matthew's twenty-fifth chapter of the Gospel, notes, called mileposts along the way in this trek . Windows with illumining light shadows through these reminders for getting to Heaven's path, one day.

This personal prayer path encapsulates in large measure the meanng of being a believer, while pausing to ponder.

As one images knocking at doors, here one stands and knocks at the entry of the Creator's heart, so to speak.

Imagine Father Solanus greeting guests on this brief pilgrimage in the City of Detroit, close to the historic jewal, Belle Isle, a small island nestled within the Detroit River.  There on this pastoral green gem I would run at least half of the ten-mile jaunt.  There also I would pause to be still and know who is God.  Clearly, not me, I reminded myself often.

An attitude of being, the Beatitudes (Mt. 5:1-12), grip my wondrous walk through this prayer path.

In communion with all the heavenly saint I sit before the Blessed Sacrament.

There I sit long, talk little, laugh even.

How good it is to have been here.


So be it.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Healing Happens When Toxins Surface Out of Denial

Healing ways.

Treks teach me tons. 

Take, for example, a drive North for a pause for prayer.

Less stimulating noise and work is stilled some.  And, like a tornado, the frentic pace pulls, pokes and pretends to accomplish and achieve, yet, meaning amounts to little in haste. Masks only pretend that all is well like a cosmetic and superficial covering.  Deep down, the wound cries, however.

Pastoral pastures of Cheboygan, MI., and beyond, calm me in the maternal genetic birthplace of Edith Wichlacz, my mother's maiden name.  Her marriage to dad, John Ventline (Wendt-land)  has roots running deep in relations in Michigan's thumb, Port Austin, as well. And, Thursday, Aug. 23rd, a reunion back in Cheboygan unites our families in the circle, the loop of Love.

Quiet time takes me once more to T.S. Eliot's "Four Quartets," and, his "East Coker."

"Our only health is the disease," pens Eliot, and, that "to be restored our sickness must grow worse."

My boyhood pastor, Edward Popielarz, founder of a class in accepance, borne of his own drowning demons in alcohol attachment disorder, suggested that denying the dysfunctional disease required sometimes "inducing the bottom," if mending, morphing, and more makes its way to recovery.

"The whole world is our hospital," evokes Eliot for us to embrace.  And, parish churches, and people, are those in emergency wards, and hospital rooms, and trapped within their own souls/selves yearning for healing and health in all kinds of "fixes" that fail to satisfy.

To restore sanity to a crazy and wild sort of world, it seems that awareness must emerge and the poison paining us all must surface to the top, if the denials these days, and, in these  times in the US Government, among divisive parties, factions of who is in and who is out, who is right and who is wrong, who is on top and who is pressed to the bottom, coupled with the meltdown of my Catholic Church hierarchy, is to heal, and, be well again, minus the power grabs and condmenations of most anything from the Girl Scouts to . . .

While a parish I serve aches these days at the loss of their pastor due to allegations of sexual abuse, I sense sorrowful grieving amid a grab for power that is particularly demonstrated in one parishioner.  The parishioner seems to deny the swallowed grief of depression faced in multiple unresolved losses in her own life.

An apparent grab for influence, in chargeness, and lording over others with "power," only deepens the ache and alienation of the unhealed wound for that hurting parishioner who makes her presence with authoritarianism, and a "I need to know everything around this parish" attitude.

And, authoritarian mandates, like those popping up with condemnations of so much these days, only pushe denial deeper into one's soul.  The addictive cycle is like that.  And, fear of facing the demon freezes one to circle the wagons around the fort, if you will. Defending is like that.  Denial also.

Until one names and claims the festering wound and loss in life, the healing taming of amazing grace is foreign.  The "power" drug, and fixes like it, cause further oppression with the authoritarian perpetrator feeling in charge, and, in control of loose wagons, for example. Look at dying regimes.

Toxins have to rise in a culture, in a person of denial, like a cooking chicken's scum in boiling water, that surfaces to the top under pressure. And, the scum and poison is removed from the kettle like denial has to rise, and, rid itself for healing to happen.

Recovery is a process.

Uncovering (taking off, purging the masks we wear), discovering ("illuminata") and recovering (divina unitiva) the original True Self is what Merton mystics, and the like,  teach in the spiritual life.

Fifteen minutes twice a day, for me,  in centering prayer helps the "scum" of the False Self to gradually and ever so slowly fall away to give way to the True Self. Resting in Divine Love without words, doing anything, is like that. Holy Acceptance, I call it. Amazing. . .grace!

Circling wagons 'round the fort, if you will, only "protect" the denial, and, the unhealed wound, as it were, slowing the healing process. Defending one's turf and condemning deepens the sick denial.

Authoritarian ways replace Love, and its exertion, as witnessed in the local and global church, for example, achieving little if anything.  Fear and oppression always ends with protest for more, and, the better life for the common good. Look at oppressive regimes in Syria, in Communism, in Poland's past, for example, among others. Centuries of resentment require recovery then.  Look at how authoritarian regimes have falled over the past decades, and more.

Misusing power is at work in government and church today.  The common good suffers when that occurs until such misuse is matched with healing and recovery beyond a denial that only locks leaders into more fear.

Healing happens when the toxic fear and authoritarianism give way to recovery, devoid of the grab for the next "fix" and addictive power people reach for when they know not how to heal by the grace of God.  Addictions work that way. They recyle over and  again until the "bottom is induced" giving way to letting loose the poison that surfaces.

Trappist Thomas Keating, among others, teach centering prayer that watches and witnesses the falling away of the False Self, over time, when one gets out of the way of the True Self.

Healing God, help us listen long and in quiet stillness for your Voice to mend and morph.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Suburbanites Pledge Support of My Motown

They came.

They pledged support.

They prayed for this region of the Mortor City, and beyond June 4th in the historic Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Roseville, MI.

From the four winds they came, including Madison Heights and Grosse Pointe Farms, Huntington Woods, and Bloomfield Hills, and more of Michigan's towns.

U.S. Congressman Hansen Clarke came from a meeting earlier in the day with the Transportation Secretary on rapid transit.  Clarke called for safe streets in Detroit, like Warren Mayor Jim Fouts pledge for secure and clean streets to attract new residents. Not yet was the verdict.  Detroit has some questions to answer.

David Abramson, who drove to the meeting from Ann Arbor, MI., charged that separation and divisions among people is fear of intimacy.  It is.

And dozens of participants in the hour-long meeting Monday sang, "Amazing Grace," an anthem hymn embraced by the All Faiths Festival (AFF), sponsor of the meeting that aimed to reduce the tension in South East Michigan, and, the Motor City. Co-chair of the AFF, Muslim leader, Mohamad Abbass pressed for the Christian hymn's elevation to be the "mantra" for the ecumenical gropup that was founded in 2008 in Roseville, MI.  It aims to recognize all religions, and, to build bridges.

Judge Brenda Sanders of the U.S. District Court in downtown Detroit spoke up against excessive rates on insurance, foreclosures, and more, while Clarke also pleaded for  "one regional economy."

The crowd paused to reach out to someone they hadn't met yet that evening.  Five minutes later, the partnered up participants kept conversing.  They seemed to savor every second.

Participants jumped to the invitation to respond to what panelist Rabbi Dorit Edut, Judge Brenda Sanders, and U.S. Congressman Clarke proposed as ways to reduce the tensions and fix Detroit.

While snacking on fruits and sandwiches, people seemed to relish the night away.

They did, as they committed to act on some of the proposals to calm enraged voices.

This reasoned group seemed to enjoy each other.  Positive from the start, they seemed to appreciate that grace and blessing grows on human encounter and experience.

They did encounter differances and diversity in the festival of foods served by Eastpointe tesdient, Marge Hallman, hostess. 

Long after the meeting concluded the crowd lingered.

No doubt, they will meet again.  Once more, they will vow support for the financially-fledgling City
they were raised in and owe a debt to, for sure.

Some suggested a legacy, their will, money be given to Detroit for "all Detroit did for us."

Long live Detroit.

And, long live the sentiment of this crowd who hugged Detroit tonight.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Guilty but without enough evidence!

So . . .

Catholics, and, those who love to recall memories, talk about guilt.

Catholic guilt, that is!

Some say they're recovering from it, go figure.

Two kinds of guilt pervade the culture: healthy and neurotic.

Good guilt is guided by one's informed conscience, and, missing the mark (harmatia, Greek word for sin).  Like the archer missing the mark with the arrow.

Most miss it in life.  Humans are like that.

Neurotic guilt is like scrupulosity, obessive compulsive disorder, attachment disorder that Saint Teresa and Saint John of the Cross, her spiritual director, both of Avila, Spain, address.

John Edwards publicly admitted and embraced responsibility for his sins following his trial. Amazing grace at work, for sure.

The foreman said the tally on charges varied, but that it generally leaned toward acquittal.

More importantly, all know that the Creator knows one's heart, and is aware of the evidence, and, more importantly, the truth.

Truth sets one free.

Guilt binds one and freezes one in place.

All are guilty of some sin, of missing the mark, violating the Golden Rule, for example.

A corrupt culture for some, for all, envelopes us all.

Because of corruption we are all less for it.

Cleaning corruption up is key to true freedom.

The song with the words, "God is watching . . ."  may make us guilty.  That's healthy guilt if
we worry about God watching.

God's watching is compassionate love.