Friday, November 30, 2012

A Requiem I Will Remember

When I was welcomed to the final Mass at a Royal Oak church recently, I noticed that memories of the closure of my own home parish of Saint Thomas the Apostle Church, readily emerged.

Sad feelings filled and flooded me.

Hospitality greeters met me at the door of the edifice adorned with iconic paintings along the walls of the church all the way up to the sanctuary.

After sitting down, a couple of others welcomed me also.

With sacred rite unfolding, in whisper tones I gratefully nodded.

When others continued to enter the building, fewer, if any available chairs, prompted me to give mine up.

Rows up toward the front of the filled church, I discovered a seat.

Next to me was a man who wrote down his name with a list of others, without indicating his city of residence as requested along with his identity initially.  At least, that's what I thought he wrote down, including what I thought was the name of his spouse who was engaged in my quiet requests as hymns sounded. 

Madison Heights or Royal Oak.  Unsure of their residence, I asked once more.  He confirmed Madison Heights.  A few blocks away, he added, as I pointed to the two names he listed at the top of my notebook.

Boy, was I wrong.

They weren't who he listed.  Days later I learned it was the names of his deceased parents he noted.

Then, some editing linked two worshippers with the first name of Tom, mixing up copy.  The psalm singer was Tom Zerafa, however, the other was not at all. Another error.

 Mounting mistakes!

When the story was published, another sibling of the mistaken idenity monopolized the unfolding drama of mistakes and took over without a word from his brother who was quoted in the article.

Then, a reporter added his spin in a separate story all about my mistakes.  And, that one was filled with assumptions and conclusions that were far from what I said to the reporter who was in a hurry to meet his deadline.  In fact, I asked him to slow down since I couldn't understand what he was saying and asking me.


The word has been taken apart. 

Its parts say it all in syllables.

I am so sorry.

Lesson learned:  I will ask multiple times about the accuracy of identity when people I interview respond to my request to note their names in my pad of paper.

And, I will be more attentive to their ability to listen, or, at least hear my requests.

In the meantime, I'm still awaiting the courtesy of  return calls from the allegedly offended family.

And, the guy who listed a couple of names in my notebook?  His brother is speaking for him.

Another mistake in direct and effective communications.

Life is full of errors.

I accept my role in all this.  And, have been forgiven by the brother of the guy I interviewed that day of fateful mistakes.

Like the demise of the church and its funeral of sorts that Sunday afternoon, grieving losses breeds anger already.  And, adding insult to injury mounts an offensive, or, a defensive disposition.

Eternal rest on the deceased parents whose names appeared in my story. And, were mistaken by me as the names of the couple sitting next to me in church.

Requiems are filled with feelings of mad, sad, glad, or scared, and, variations of these dominant feelings.  They are!

Wrong.  How wrong I was to assume the man listed his name, and that of the gal next to him!

His parents, noted by name, sound like exceptional believers who really gave their all, and, their children to their home church and school for 62 years.  They breathed life into this large family. Their service suggests how the rest of us need ties, close ties, to a people of faith. 

They stooped low to lift life, an aim I long to live each day.
With people who forgive, and, give, and love, like the Hurley family's parents.

And, added to that firm faith is civility, courtesy, decency, and, seeking truth and integrity in the trek.

After all, we all have our day making mistakes as human vessals.

We do.

We will.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Under Construction

Aren't we all?

In the meantime, no one can take away your joy.

You'll need to surrender it to the one who may want your joy.

Like being angry.

No one can make you angry.

One chooses to be angry.

If someone steps on my toe, I choose how I want to respond.

I may react.

Or, I may be proactive in my response.

Under construction.

Aren't we all?

Go and grow a little today!

Only God is perfect.

A Time for Light

Once, a teacher of mine noted on the black board with chalk: Wait for the light. 

The Advent season of a month's length for Christians marking the anniversary of the nativity, brings this story to mind today.

My high school classmates responded to the comment.

Some liked it.

One gal said it was important to have hope with even a little light.

Sister Mary Emily said she saw the sentence on a sign by a traffic light at the intersection of Harper and Van Dyke where my home church of Saint Thomas the Apostle once sat since its start in 1927.

A requiem for that edifice was a very troubling time for parishioners who fought to keep it open.

As churches close due to a lack of clergy and imagination to staff them beyond only clerics, we need Advent.

It starts Sunday.

Christians will hear Scripture passages about Saint John the Baptist's call for morphing and mending.

Repentance also.

We'll hear of Emmanuel, meaning, God with us!

And, bells will sound when the Good Book tells us of how "he pitched his tent" among us.

Wait for the light.



Be awake.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Days Before Advent's Month-Long Rite, Thoughts Turn Toward Dorothy Day

How good it is to witness the consideration of Dorothy Day among the offical list of saints, just days before the Christian Advent trek. Misunderstood, pregnant, in the dark, one may say, heavy with the burden of taking her Catholic faith seriously.

Darkness descending down like dewfall as Christians mark the anniversary of the birth of Jesus.

And, joy fills the pilgrims mounting an offense preparing the way.

Bishops began the process of canonizing her, I noticed on EWTN.

I hope they get to El Salvador's Oscar Romero, among others.

Her name emerged from within as I wondered some about Mary, of whom I remember the late Eleanor Josaitis of Detroit's Focus:HOPE, who said to me well before her darker an dimmer days of dying:   "Now there's a fascinating woman!"

And, my response to Eli was:  "I'll get back with you on that one."

After all, we were in Sacred Heart Church of Roseville, MI., at an ecumenical prayer breakfast and the crowd awaited for Josaitis to speak.

It must be present to me since women are so much a part of the scriptures. And, session and growth groups that meet in Big Jack's in Roseville, MI.

Like Tamar.

Tamara Gumm told an On Tap session all about Tamar the other night at Big Jack's Bar-B-Q Grill. 

After all,we walk among Deborah who judged the Israelites with enduring strength.

And, Esther, who used her influence as queen for the common good.

Phoebe led an early church in the empire of Rome.

There's Mary Magdalene. She wept upon finding an empty tomb.

Christina the Astonishing rose from her casket, I'm told, resisting death at her own death!

Go figure!

The one who married imagination and theology is Julian of Norwich.

Pepetua of Carthage was a third-century witness who was martyred for it.

And, rising against her oppressors, there's Sojourner Truth.

Dorothy Day, however, came into being in Brooklyn, New York in 1897.

A Roman Catholic, she wed her inner faith with a passion for social justice. Day founded the Catholic Worker movement with Peter Maurin in 1933.  I still get the Catholic Worker newspaper in the mail.  The price listed is one cent.  That reminds me to pay up after more than four decades of getting it in my mail.

Day aims for clarity and crispness of thought, for a new society within the wall of the old.

Here's a women combining a kind of monasticism of piety with practice, love, and, giving one her or his due in justice.

A revolution of the heart was her challenge and call to all.

She was a journalist in the 20s and met acquaintances in Greewich Village.  While pregnant she morphed a love for Jesus the Christ. In 1926 while she resided with the father of a baby in her womb, she was a marked woman, alienated, would have been told, "Distance yourself from us and find a good lawyer," what some priests were told when they were alleged to have engaged in predatory behavior.

There's another woman like Dorothy.

Remember her name?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

When Death Happens in the Neighborhood

Molly Bish was a high school lamb of God kidnapped and murdered in West Warren, Massachusetts decades ago.

Her parents were my friends.  My sister, Patti, went to cosmetoogy school in Hamtramck with Molly's mom, and, John and I attended Saint Mary's College, Orchard Lake.

Still can't get that horror out of my mind.

In fact, Molly photo adorns my office study at home.

She is the face and faith of every child, each lamb of God.

And, of course, Molly's parents were devastated. 

They set off on a whole new trek through life.

They still live in depression.

That's swallowed grief.

They severed ties with friends.

They experienced health issues and more losses as a family.

Predators do enormous harm to humans.

They do.

Let us pray:

Lamb of God,
You take away the sins of the world.
Have mercy on us, on Molly Bish, on
the one(s) who murdered her brief trek
on earth.

Grant her parents peace.

For remission I pray for the tragic, and burdensome toil of our sinful world.

Give comfort amid terror, among other lambs of God led to the slaughter daily, moment by moment, it seems in my Motown,
in my Harrison Township.

Heal hurt and help us see the Light.

Comfort the sorrowful through others, me walking in support of so much loss and lessening and dminishment of life here.

Heaven help us.


When Divorce or Death of Clustered Churches Crushes

When divorce happens.

When the pastor of Saint Mary's Church of Royal Oak, MI., broke off the cluster relationship parishioners engaged with neighboring Saint James of Ferndale, MI., pain poked and penetrated deep in this divorce recently.

No kidding.

Divorce is to be a last resort, parishioners remind me.

That's what I was taught in my divinity school courses on sacraments, especially holy matrimony.

Little counseling, minimal communication, and high-handed decisions in this divorce.


And, go figure, the re-marriage with Our Lady of Fatima in Oak Park suddenly set off the new romance, or, rapport with the stranded Saint James.

Slow down.  Grief takes time.

Prudence suggests that one wait at least a year before entering another marriage, merger!

Not this time. Not many times.  These clusters of clergy with multiple parishes need to be studied.

Grief takes at least a year to examine, to  wonder, to explore, to walk through the dark tunnel into the light again for most human beings.

That's good grief then in this procession of the desolation and consolation of a roller-coaster-like ride
that rocks people.

Grieve but not like those who have no hope, the Good Book notes.

Hope is that evergreen virtue, strength that is linked with faith and charity along with prudence, fortitude, justice and temperance.

Hopes sees me through each day.

It's like that.

Evergreen it is like the holiday tree one smells, like the fragrance and aroma of Christ we're each called to be as noted in the  Pauline theology addressed in the Christian Scriptures.

Woops!  Phones ringing.  Gotting get ready to go.

Got to go now.  I apologize for the disruption and abrupt end to my blog here, more so, for this tragic tale repeatedly told by parishioners. Those hurting, and, those healing in the mending and morphing.

Like at Saint Valerie in Clinton Township, MI., when it was merged and I appeared to lead Mass there one Sunday a few years ago.  No one told me it was the final and Last Supper, the concluding Mass.

The funeral. 

Imagine that.

Early into that Mass, I saw people wiping away tears, so, I stopped and asked about what I'm missing.

Now, I do have to run but the litany list of  parish closures and clusters is taking a toll on humans.

Mass at Saint Dennis in Royal Oak, MI. now at 3 pm today, I'm told.

Another funeral Mass of a parish edifice I presided at for decades.

Nobody told me.

God help us.

Eternal rest grant unto Saint Dennis, O Lord!

And, let perpetual light shine upon them who remain crushed once more to pick up the pieces and move on and support another community in love amid their grief and loss.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Woof Makes a Visit

Visits with my two Bichons were not always easy.

They were growing, curious, even wildly wondering and wandering all over anyone's home when I took them for visits.

And, when left home alone, watch out!

Both were males.

Once I anguished over and gave one of these white and awesome pups to a needy lady who experienced the demise of her own, things changed with my solo dog, Woof.

No more domination by Wolf, his older brother!

No longer a back seat for Woof.

Last night, we decided to take some just-made, hot, Jewish stew to a friend.

Rabbi Mordehai Waldman gave me the recipe days before when I called him to invite him Monday, November 26 at 7 pm to Big Jack's in Roseville, MI., and, to the young adult Theology on Tap series starting December 26, and, January 2, at 5:30 pm at Big Jack's also.

The good rabbi said he would share about the 150 psalms and how they help him get through the holiday stress, and more.

"They're right up there next to our Pentateuch, the first five Hebrew books," he added.

So back to Woof who wouldn't leave after we packed a quart with a salad, crackers, and more, and left it with Marge and Donna.

Unaware of Woof's disdain for cars and driving in them with me, Marge said:

"He's so nice now. He wants to stay.  He's the one that would bite, no?"

I affirmed.

Biting no more. He morphed.

For months now, he's become a "new man," I mean a "new dog."

And, to think I'm his pleased and proud  trainer now.

Dog gone awesome, I wanted to sing.

Dog gone it!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Imagination on Black Friday

I didn't intend to shop today.

No way.

But, after a physical exam with the doctor at 8 am, I was near Meijer.

While walking through the aisle looking for the sales, I ended up by the turkey bin.

After discovering that I would pay only ten dollars for a $20 Butterball turkey if I bought another $20 worth of groceries, a parishioner appeared.  Limit one per customer.

We shared notes, and went our way.

But, that wasn't over.

Ron was looking for me. And, he happily found me, admitted this engineer.

He imagined a way that I could get the turkey if I added my few items to his basket. I didn't need much but I did want to buy a turkey. 

And, since he was getting a turkey also, we took care of checking out my groceries first, at his request.

Ron combined our items and then took his to his car and aimed to come back into the store
to complete his list, do some more shopping, and, get his additional $20 worth of groceries for a half-priced turkey.

But. . .wait. . .there more in this turkey tale.  Much more.

He refused to let me pay him for my share of the groceries.

"My gift, Father,"  he said.

Protestation from me did little good as heads began to turn toward us.  And, our dispute!

Generous, I thought.

Imagination.  And generosity.

Surprises continue to follow me.

God is like that daily, I find.

And, all I need do is to be grateful for imangination, generosity, and, folks who still find ways to imagine how to get a job done, how to work together, and, how to get me a turkey at half price without all the unncecessary trimmings.

God's big heart, so to speak, swells for each of us always.

An enlarged heart.

Full.  Real full.

Less Stressed for the Season with Rabbi Dr. Mordehai Waldman, and, Me

Staying Less Stressed During this Season and Holiday.

That's a challenge.

For some, it's undoing a pattern of holiday blues.

It's grief.

But, good grief.

That's what Rabbi Modehahai, other interfaith leaders, and me, will address Monday, November 26 from 7 - 8:15 pm in Big Jack's Bar-B-Q, 27454 Gratiot Avenue in Roseville, MI., 48066.

And, that's what the doctors are prescribing Monday at the popular place for young adults, and, people looking for meaning.

More of it.

Mostly, how to cope with the holidays.

Does stress really exist?

Is it a problem of the soul?

Why would believers even entertain it?

Why have it at all?

A spiritual or clinical issue?  Which is it?  Nunc, et/both and?

Is it a manufactured malady of soccial scientists?

Does the DSM-5 list it as  manufactured by psychiatrists, others, who create another diagnosis each decade, or so?

You'll want to be here.

Don't be left in the cold, or, without ways to cope, and, take on what could be a monstrous moment of a holiday season, or, a bitter winter wrapped in resentment toward family, acquaintances, others.

You deserve better.  Everyone does. 

Emerging from the dark means one has to be vulnerable or the grief becomes more dark and drops itno depression.

And, you are better beyond bitter.

You are worth it.

Good grief.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Day Is A Daily Doing

It stops me in my tracks! Or, in my steps at Harrison Cove near Metropolitan Parkway where I reside in this plush, pastoral plot called Boat Town. About 25,000 others lives with me in Harrison Township, MI.

No turkeys noticed, however.  (Well, maybe!)

Thanksgiving slows me right down. Ruffles my feathers, one may conclude.

It opens my heart.


And, my hands and mind as well.  It tugs at my heartstrings for truths and lessons learned more than half a century ago.

This moment we have to hold. Gently.  Tenderly.  Ready to let it go.  To give it back to from where it first came.

It slips, however, through one's fingers like sand on the sea shore of Lake Huron running along Port Austin, Michigan, where I relish slippling away to walk at Jenks Park near my older brother, Bob's home. 

These roots run deep.

Family relationships are many. 

After all with twelve siblings each in merged families, dad was born there, while my mother sailed south to Detroit from Cheboygan, Michigan, story says. And, she told me.  My parents were farmers.  They knew how to work.  And, taught the seven of us kids how to push a broom, or, clean a house, or can tomatoes, and, how to bake apple or pumpkin pie.  And, cranberries cooked fresh.

They taught me that gratitude is a pure prayer.  Unvarnished from one's deepest heart.

 And so, with gray hair, I notice more now.

And, I'm more aware of how grateful I must be, want to be, choose to be. 

Age has a way of making me grateful.

After all, yesterday is gone and done and black Friday may not unfold for my eyes and breath tomorrow.

Yet, I have this single moment to savor for a super mind and brain to notice and be attuned to each minute.

Yes, I notice more. Know that life is short. So . . . I overlook a lot. Or, try.  I let the guy or gal, I want to call a jerk, go by.  Most of the time.

I pause more.  Pursue satisying and meaningful moments with family, friends, and, mostly acquaintances.

And, I tell a story.  Try to illumine the dark days of November with Spring waiting for its revenge on snow and shortened days of light to lavish and play inside longer through the night enveloping us. 

It's quite dark on Waterway Drive where I reside.  In fact, it's pitch black at the peak of day's end.

Turkeys could hide here from the hand of Americans who prey upon them this day.  They seem to long for the border. I would also. Their lives are threatened once more. Like many citizens without work, or roof, or food.

Multiple feelings flood me, however, as I refuse to let fear do my thinking, like that of those worried and wide-eyed turkeys.   I still go out and feel the breeze blow up into my face as light no longer looms as long today. 

On Jefferson toward Klix, along Lake St. Clair, a walk on the new wide path and brick sidewalk had me "light and lively" in the impending dark early last evening.  Five o'clock brings with it a covering of black in the air. Shorter days, darker nights.

Woof, my 3-year old white Bichon "lights" up passers-by.

We greet.

We let the rat race pass. 

Cars speeding. Horns honking. Patience running on reserve for some.  Pollution pouring out.

Let them go.  Just let them all go. They cannot rob my joy.

Walk, and praise the Provider. Connect with the Creator.  Hear a leaf underfoot crack and crumble.

Honor roots and relationships, and faith for sure.  Do a good deed daily.  Bear good fruit.  Blow a bubble also.

And, trust deepest dreams.

Follow my heart's beat and passion.

Be a drum major for justice. For God's sake.  And, others around.

Go up or down the stream, the spillway near my home, and, learn to breath under water the whole life through.

Refuse to die before my time.  Care for those no one else wants. 

Get a grip, but not too tightly (on the golf club!).  I'm allergic to them. I go to the gym.

Break bread often.  Share it.  Take a piece of the global pie.  One piece and leave the bigger portion for neighbors across this land  we inhabit this Thanksgiving Day. Work to pay the rent for occuping a piece of this plot for a while.

Do the turkey trot!  Make fresh footprints in the sand, or the snow, for sure.

Shoot for the moon and land among the stars, at least.

Glow and go to exercise in the clubhouse where I live.  Pump iron and muscle.  Breathe.
In and out.  Notice it.

Be wise as a serpent and gentle as a lamb as the greatest story every told suggests by way of Jesus, among other wise women and men.

Watch the turkey, or turkeys, as the case may be, crossing the road.  Get a life.  One beyond work. Have a hobby.

Cut the pie farly where ever I'm planted. 

Think of someone who was still among us last Thanksgiving Day.

And, have an attitude of gratitude -- a pure prayer.

See what I mean about Thanksgiving?  At least my experience of it.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

On Tap: Spirituality

Spirituality On Tap: "Getting Through the Holidays Unwounded, At Home, Homeless Feelings in America, and Homelessness," 5:30-7 pm, Wednesday, Dec. 26 and Jan. 2, and more for the fresh new year through June, at  Big Jack's Bar-B-Q, 27454 Gratiot, Roseville 48066. Invited guests to lead and navigate "On Tap" include Rev. Ken Kaucheck, Rabbi Dorit Edut, Sandy Bell, Minister Jim Lee, Sister (Dr.) Mary Angelica, Mohamad Abbass, David Kasbow, Bishop Tom Gumbleton, Jo Ann Loria, Rabbi Mordehai Waldman, Gail Katz of WISDOM,  Padma Kuppa, John Suggs, and more.

Engage, eat, be entertained with other young adults, and ask facilitators questions.

Express yourself.

After all, you're amazing! 

You are!

A benefit for people and places who help people feel 'at home' with others, self, and more, for the season.

Be there.

Don't be left out in the cold.

At home with self, others, the Maker, and more, for a spiritually enriching season of sharing.

Before this series, also, join others and me in Big Jack's, Monday, November 26 from 7 - 8:15 to hear interfaith leaders share ways of coping with real or imagined stress. 

Yoga, Mass, Centering, Ditching the TV, Journal writing, music, being,  rosary, stretching, breathing deeply, 3-step process of union with God (uncovering, discovering, recovering of John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, support system, divine mercy mantra, exercise, and walking meditation, among other way of staying stress free and enjoying the spritual season and holidays.

Rabbis, Christian pastors, Imams, Hindu, Ba'hai, and Buddhists, among others,  demonstrate a particular practice, like the ancient, sung, hymnody and official prayer, Liturgy of the Hours, all Catholic faithful, are challenged to pray daily.

Hear common ways of believers connect with the Creator and creation across the globe. This is part of the fourth of wellness series, Good Grief: Grieve, But Not Like Those Without Hope: 10 Stages. I navigate the group through stages of their own procession through the dark tunnel into the light using the metaphor of driving and aiming toward the light of the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel.

Join me!  After all, swallowed grief is depression.

By the way, is stress, and, its drama in our lives at times told of in the DSM-6 and noted in the diagnostic statistical manual a new disease? A new diagnosis every decade or so seems to be established by the social scientists of psychiatrists and psychologists.

Religiosity was recently named. Spiritual solutions to clinical problems is a path I pursue in the pastoral counseling I do in my so-called, special assignment.

Google Landmark Education for awesome self-awareness for widening opportunities in one's trek through life's joys and obstacles. 

Graduates of this growth and development process are meeting Monday, December 10 for lunch from 11:30 am - 1 pm at Pronto's in Royal Oak, MI., and, to imagine and timeline concrete ways of lifting up Detroit together with its youth and families.

For more information, contact hostess Rabbi Dorit Edut at (248) 556 6316, or myself at (313) 530 2777, or,

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Indifference Manifests As Frozen Heart

Mediocrity, unimportant, apathy, no interest or feeling, inert, inactive, unwilling to imagine more and be passionate.

Like a litany list indifference is defined online, in Funk and Wagnall.

What can I do anyway?

So much sadness everywhere and who needs some Catholic guilt about my cold-heartedness so often.

Perhaps its overload of pain poking through the globe, in homes, into hearts.

So much of it around everywhere it seems, my own, others: INDIFFERENCE.

Like a frozen heart, numbed by carelessness about a way out of the seeming impasse of Israel, Gaza, the West Bank.

Indifference is a frozen heart.  It kills the life out of one, of me.

It hurts one's heart and prevents mending, morphing, healing and reconciliation.

And, here I go again thinking that peace is manufactured and made with my friends, acquaintances, colleagues.

It's made with one's enemies.

A native son of that traumatized land knew that, taught that, lived it, said it often.

Love your enemies; do good to those who hate you.

Jesus said it.

Yes, but he  . . .

I better take heed.

While Metro Detroit Muslims, Jews Visit Each Other's Worship Sites, They Blame Other Side for Gaza

Hundreds of Jewish and Arab-Americans exploded in protest near the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel Friday, while other dozens of Jews and crowds of Muslims met in the Detroit Muslim Center forging friendships.

Today and Friday both faith traditions are visiting the Isaac Agree Synagogue in downtown Detroit, and the block-long mosque on West Davison at the John Lodge Expressway.

Missiles were fired Friday at Jerusalem, an urban city that is sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, while, at least three targetted Tel Aviv, media waves beamed in color on TV with the loud thuderous sounds of scary bombs in the background. Hundreds of wounded, including women and  children were among the victims with casualties mounting today as 30,000 Israeli troops prepared for ground theatre in Gaza and the West Bank.

 Rabbi Dorit Edut, a reformed Jew of Huntington Woods, MI., reported to me that Jews and Muslims are generally cordial with each other, while she defended Israel's right to defend itself against Hamas.

Dubbed as "twinning," the two Abrahamic traditions of faith and culture reached out to one another  by participating in each other's worship on the day of each one's respective weekly holy sabbath. Each joined regular weekly worshippers, perhaps for the first time ever.  Women with head scarfs met in a separate section in the back of the Muslim Center, while a larger group of men were in front of them, including prayer leader Imam Abdullah El-Amin who has headed the urban mosque for decades while engaging in inter-faith efforts for as long a time. El-Amin gets things done and moves the faithful forward forging friendships by relishing and nourishing relationships.

The tall and distinguished leader is administrator of the Rahman Funeral Home on Joseph Campau in
Hamtramck, MI., on days he's not occupied with the center.

El-Amin warmly welcomed Al Bileti of Fraser, MI., and me, representing the All Faiths Festival, a collection of clergy and other faithful who aim to recognize all religions, foster dialog, and build bridges. 

"You can't build a bridge by yourself," El-Amin said.

And, that's just what he intended to forge Friday shaking hands, widely smiling at guests, and answering questions about Islam.

"We took a step toward each other," said Bileti on the way home.  "Now, it's their turn," he added, as he lookied at me with satisfaction, and, quickly asked when the next AFF meeting holds court.

W.I.S.D.O.M. women I met were most delightful and direct about current and future inter and intra-faith relations especially related to the ordination of women, and a polorized and divided U.S. Catholic Church. I'm gathering that a "cold war" permeates rapport with Muslims as Christians are slaughtered in the Arabic world, and, elsewhere.  Not good not to talk!

Bileti, a Catholic, and decade-long inter-faith worker, is formerly a chairman of the AFF with Mohamad Abbass of the American-Islamic Community Center in Madison Heights, MI.

While war was raging thousands of miles away in the middle east, Arab-Americans and Jews, among others met in a Muslim center and synagogue this weekend.

"Comphrehension" is the word Trappist monk Thomas Merton -- who aimed to bridge the East and West -- used to summarize inter-faith work with Muslims in his diary in 1962 when he was consulted at the historic ecumenical Vatican II Council that concluded in 1965 after a three-year renewal of the Catholic Church convened by the Turkish legate, Pope John XXII.

That same Council revoked declarations blaming the Jews for the crucifixion of Jesus after centuries of strife.

Faiths forging forward forgiving, mending and morphing for the common global good.


Imagine that.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Avoiding the Frenetic Pace of the Season

How does one stay sane in a holiday frenzy that debuts next week with Thanksgiving Day, and lingers through the start of the new year?

That's what interfaith leaders are asking one another these days.
Rabbi Dr. Mordehai Walman of Berkley, and others, including myself, will tell ways to stay a little less stressed  through the season that launches Thanksgiving Day through the New Year.

Join us at Big Jack's Barb-Q, 27454 Gratiot Avenue in Roseville, Michigan from 7 until 8:15 pm.
Take, Rabbi Dorit Edut of Huntington Woods, MI., for example.

The Reform Jewess claims that Christianity's two major feasts - Easter and Christmas -
seem to set up believers for stress.

"Our high holidays are spread out over the year," adds the Rabbi.

Consequently, mounting and frenetic paces are less frequent and spread out over time.

Centering prayer is my way of staying grounded and calm amid a culture of commercial shopping, and more.

Common sense. 

The kind my parents had.

They were farmers who worked hard and slept as hard.

That's more important than piling up credentials and courses in stress reduction.

It works well when I honor the commitment and shut down for a period of time.

Twice daily for twenty minute sessions I choose a mantra, a litany word, such as "peace" to return to in my still time when distractions and noise inevitably enter the quiet.

Others choose exercise to vent anxiety, and more, that fills one's work and home life.

Yoga is just what the doctor prescribes for others.

Breathing in and out soothes others when the heart beats boldly.

Sitting silently in the presence of the blessed sacrament for Catholics works also for some.

We're wired with the capacity to respond beyond reaction to conflict and culture's impatience and fast pace.

It's up to me to enter a wrestling match.

I'm better off if I stay out of the ring.

After all, it takes to to tango, as the metaphor describes a way to entertain wellness amid holiday bells
and horns.

To find away to be in a world of motion makes all the difference, some say.

The holiday season doesn't have to be a rush pressing one into a basket case.

It's up to you.

And, me.

Mystical Prayer

A mystic is one who is head over heel in love with God.

And, mystical prayer is prayer of silence where one encounters the Divine at his or her center and still point.

These contemplative prayer paths are my preferred way of connecting with the Creator twice daily for twenty-minute sessions of quiet mindlessness.  For over three decades this practice has consumed me.

Here, noise and chatter is gently shut down.

In the near future, perhaps by the latter part of May in 2014, I would like to host a pilgrimage of silence to the Castilla and Leon regions of Spain where two revered mystics, Saints John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila were born, resided, and are buried today.

John of the Cross rests in Segovia in a chapel in an edifice and residence that he crafted.  It is in the rural farms on the encircling Segovia.

I would relish sitting in this chapel repeating my mantra litany, "my beloved," when distractions come and pull me away from my prayer practice also known as centering prayer.

Or, I'd savor a walk in Spain's nature wrapped in the lap of the Lord and Maker of man and woman.

Avila, Spain is a day's trip from Segovia.

There sits the Monastery of the Incarnation where Teresa lived much of her time on earth.  Although she was 20 years older than John of the Cross, he was a guide, or, a spiritual director for her.

She was attached to her visions, John believed.  She could not detach from them, writers note.  She found another director for the path of holiness. That was a sure sign that she was attached and could not let go.

Although much of this description is a contemplative and solitary one, I welcome others to join me on the path for a pilgrimage to Spain.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Women Deacons?

Let the conversation continue about women as deacons in the Catholic Church, a role exclusive of men only.  But, debate sides with early tradition of "the way" with Priscalla, among others, living out their femininity as faithful deacons.

This emerging and renewed debate now is well over a hundred years old in the talking.  And, I'm told, when something is explored and commonly pursued over a century, it may become practice, even law.

At least, that's what I recall.

It's all about seeking truth.  Kernals that everyone embraces according to the ancient Augustine of Hippo.

Paths of truth must be taken.

Voices rise renewed for women as deacons.

Who wonders, other than Catholics, that females should be deacons?

Clearly, more than solely male tones at national meetings of leaders to witness and share Christian identity in  the so-called new evangelization heralded about at synods and meetings of bishops is most welcomed, I bet.

I believe and hope in charity - the strengths and virtues that guide while prudence, justice, temperance and justice are in the same front seat driving toward the day of women deacons, and more to enhance the faith of followers of Jesus and his beloved community.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

My Vet

I often wonder about him.

What would he be doing today if he survived Vietnam.

Would he have married?

What career would he have embarked?

After all, he was my oldest brother of seven.

Specialist Four Lukas J. Ventline, United States Army.

I recall the award of Purple Heart presented to my parents in 1969, a  year after his death on
February 18, 1968.

Veterans' Day.

It's special.

It always will be.

All veterans have an honored place in my heart.

They gave their all.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


He wasn't getting out and about.

And, when he wasn't connecting and socializing things began to "fall apart" by his own admission.

Then the 24-year-old decided to reach out and join a grief group.

Now, he's talking.

Het gets issues out for the leader of the group to address.

Getting into a routine is a major part of the healing for this young man.

It isn't easy for him to talk in a group but he's come along and trusts others now.

Over time, he has learned to name his issues, claim them as his own, and then, by the grace of God,
tame them.

Others in the group have been a huge help for him.  He's gleaned from others, how his own problems aren't so unlike others in the group.
Help is on the way.

Friday, November 2, 2012



Dezell Washington stars in this thriller about how addictions affect family, work, and others in a tragic way.

Denial pervades throughout this ordeal.

Until the final curtain, the star is trapped in his alcoholism and cocaine addiction.

Finally, he gets honest, and, help.

Indeed, the movie is about his flight to freedom.

Like many others, it took a long time to get there.  To be free and honest with help.

The twelve step spirituality does indeed work.