Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Day Ten of Lent for Me : Lifestyle and Social Sin

A 1971 document by Pope Paul VI concludes with the warning that transformation of the world is a constitutive element of the Gospel.

"People want to come to church to be comforted," admitted the speaker, but "the reign of God must be preached also," citing Scripture and tradition.

This crowd "came to do penance during Lent," said a surprised Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton.

Laughter met the humble bishop's claim for such a large audience last night at Saint Ronald Catholic Church in Clinton Township, MI., just north of its neigboring City of Detroit that soaks in poverty.

A reverent silence seemed to pervade the listening hundreds.

Quiet reigned.

After urging participants to pay attention and to be informed about social sin in the world and at home here, the retired auxiliary bishop who grew up on Detroit's west side, and was born in 1932,  answered a question and ticked off a list of those among whome, one may be named the successor to Pope Benedict XVI who retires February 28.  A 1:30 pm holy hour this Thursday is set at the Cathedral of the Most Blessd Sacrament in Detroit. Visit www.aod.org for more.

Structures of economic systems are the cause of injustices in Haiti, said the speaker. He cited examples of how Guatamala and El Salvador, even South Africa, once upon a time, among other countries live in dire injustice or apartheid due to economic practices.

Systems press people into poverty and exclude them, he concluded.

He urged the faithful to be aware of, and, involved in the political process.

"We're used to personal sin and know what it is, but social sin is not so front and center," responded Bishop Gumbleton to one animated participant who blamed the Vatican and she concluded the pope knows of the poverty.

According to Catholic Charities USA, 46 million people living in poverty is unacceptable.

Urging the audience to embrace the 'reign of God' that Jesus preached in Luke's Gospel and the prophet Isaiah, the gentle bishop showed a DVD about Pax Christi's work in Haiti.  Pax Chrisi, means, the Peace of Christ, and aims for peacemaking and nonviolence in that poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

Lifestyle and simple living was proposed in the world-known peacemaker's talk.

A rousing applause at Bishop Gumleton's lecture sent them into the social hall for more communion with each other. 

People there sat for over an hour eating snacks and drinking tea, for example, among other beverages and foods.

A pleased Deacon Franz Hoffer, who introduced the bishop, said, overlookng the crowd that arrived by 7 pm, "This is what Church should be!"

A few participants said they told Gumbleton that they were voting for him to be pope.

"What a kingdom of God Church we'd be, if he was pope," voiced a former pastoral associate, JoAnn Loria, who also read the passage from the Letter of St. James about faith with works, at the 6 pm sung liturgy of the hours.

"I voted for him also," she said, alerting people to www.adoptacardinal.org.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Day Nine

Tracking Lent with this diary is helpful, at least for me.

Writing keeps me accountable and at it regularly.

After Mass Sunday at Harsen's Island, a parishioner asked me why the nuns aren't up there at the altar?

Increasingly, questions like that are asked.

Because they're considered to be non-clergy.

That's the technical answer.

Yet, she persisted, and, asked why not?

Her husband intervened while her son waited and listened patiently.

Yet, she needed to ask more, it seemed.

So, pastors listen long.  And, keep quiet giving an ear or two often at the back of the church after Mass.

I continued to sing the praises of nuns who founded orphanages, schools, and hospitals, among other very helpful services to people to this day.

They are well read and educated.

She wondered.

I bet others wonder also.

As I drove home after Mass, a heavy heart came over me.

I began to recallthe note in the Bible's, Proverbs,  that reminds us to guard our hearts.

As I took solace in those wise words, I was mindful of so many issues today that confront us as a Church.

Without trying to sweep away solutions, I stayed with the questions, and kept imagining ways out of our personnel problems, shortages of clergy, supposed debts, and lack of young parishioners, and more.

Talking has been helpful in the past with Councils and church meetings.

Vehicles to resolve issues worked in the past.

But, those similar systems seem to resist working out today's epidemic of concerns confronting us today.

An overwheliming amount of issues need conversing about by the entire family.

Like at home.

With all at the table, children included. Or, at least, those who can or want to participate.

Today, there seems to be a need to talk with a limited few regarding the issues that affect the entire church family. 

I wonder about that also.

Sure, family gets messy. Of course, collegiality is harder with larger numbers of people engaged.

But, that's the lone way that assures investment by most.

More concerns are raised.

But, in the end, it seems that investment of our greatest resources, coupled with prayer and fasting this Lent, work best.

God help us!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Day Eight

Moses and Elijah, the spokesmen for the law and the prophets appear to Jesus to speak about his departure, his "exodos."

That's similar to the wandering Israelites, their own suffering in the desert, and Jesus' own before entering the Promised Land.

Crucifixion is entailed here.

It's required for the resurrection, the crown, heavenward bound for you and for me also!

Like in life's trek.

The ups and downs.

For sure.

Exodus includes leaving behind what is appreciated, loved, honored, revered and good, to forge forth for the better.

Wanting to stay on the mountaintop's feel good encounter motivates one to get down in the trenches to hear, to heal the suffering, the grief, the loss living one's experience daily.

An exodus requires suffering for Jesus, for you, for me.

Embrace it.

Accept it.

Like St. Sylvester Church in Warren, MI., and, so many other edifices and communities closing soon.

Aches and pains poke deep.

Watching youngsters grow up, move out and move on, marry and more, is an uneasy time for parents.

A spouse dying in the other's arms. . .

Michael's 55 year-marriage ended in death over four weeks when his wife has aches in your stomach, a dead bowel, and, colitis.


Heartaches by the number.

Jesus hangs between two criminals at Calvary Good Friday.  Peter wants three tents with Jesus between Moses and Elijah.

Luke 23:33, one on Jesus' left and one on his right, is the prize and the pain that penetrates us also.

Exodus, departures, passion, dying and rising.

Total transfiguration is like that.

There's no easy way out or up or into the resurrection.  His, yours, and mine.

Going through it.  Exiting losses, a first love, children, deaths, divorces, aging. . .

That gets us there. Got to go therough the exit door, if you will.

The only way sisters, and brothers!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Day Seven

When a church closes.

Hearts break.

They break wide open.

Hearts hurt when their parish church is sold.

Take Joan, Jim, Irene, Shirley, Dixie, Leona and June, for example.

They served the church family fish and "pierogi" with an assortment of cakes this Friday of Lent.

Some rolled plastic ware into napkins for those who came to eat on their lunch hour, and, as late as 6 pm.

Young people enrolled in the technical school adjacent to the church hall came during their lunch break. Groups at a time.

One guy recalled enjoying a fish dinner last Lent at St. Sylvester Church in Warren, Michigan.

Memories filled the table talk everywhere, it seemed.

Wonderment do also.

Where I will go to church after we close I don't know.

Who will buy this beautiful site?

This is our last fish fry during Lent, said one server who has been tending tables for more than a decade.

Parishioners hurt.

One lady told of her own husband's death years ago.  He pick up the newspaper, fell, came into the house and died in my arms, she shared.

Another recalled her own husband who died five years ago.  She smiled when she told about a companion who joins her for dinner often now.

Rick was remembered also.  His mother told of his death at the church while she packed "pierogi" in bags for sale.

People talked about the pain of this loss of their home church poking deep within them.

Plenty of stories were told.


All of it is grief and loss.

They won't leave the memories behind when the church is closed and sold by June. Sad memories of closing go with these human beings.  The building remains, however, sold.

After all, the church is the people, one guy affirmed, and my time with Alcoholics Anonymous pointed me here for over a dozen years, he admitted.

"I've been close to these people ever since," he said, as he returned to his post serving fish this final Lent.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Day Six

A moving tale by a young man had me pondering mortality this Lenten day.

He was only 15 when his dad died.

He said that he was told that he can't do anything about the past, but, he could influence the future.

That's good news.


In fact.

Evergreen hope.

Like the Easter I can't wait to get to.

To witness.

To watch fully and celebrate 50 days beyond these 40 of Lent.

Hope is always worth merit.

It is.

It's always green, fresh, renewing.

Like the aroma of baking bread.

Whole grain.


Pure Michigan, as they say.



Rabbi  Dorit Edut told about a bread event coming soon at ETS in Detroit.

Bread has a way of gathering folks.

Once a week eating alone is all I allow myself (and Woof, my 4-legged Bichon Frise).

All the other days of the week I embark to eat with others.

For example, amid the schedule that can take time to arrange,
clergy meet next Tuesday at Pita Cafe in Oak Park, MI., on Greenfield, gratefully et up by Mohamed Abbass, co-chair of the All Faiths Festival.

Rabbis, imams, pastors, and more, will break bread.

Always a good things.

We'll bond some amid bread, and other food and friendship.

Praise the Maker and Mohamed for setting it up for us.

Bread is too good to pass up.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Day Five

Stir fry.

Rice, carrots, beans, peas, and more.

The mix.

Like life.

A variety.

Like moderation and balance.

A taste of morsel of each vegetable.


And, fresh.

Like Lent.

Each new day prompts a turn and change of heart.

And, ways.

For the wonder life is.

At lunch, Joann and Phil and their granddaugthers.

A delightful time.




And, more.

Life is like that.

And, Lent also.

A mix and much more.

Much more.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Amid A-Lenting We Go. . .


By step.

Turn by turn.

I move.

Have my being and breath in the Maker.

Ever so gently.

Firmly each step pressing the earth and floor
beneath me.

Consciously changing.

Or, not so consciously changing.

Forgetting ego and self.

True self emerging.

Fasle self folding and falling away.

Light and Lent is like that.

It comes through my cracks illumining

Let there be Light!

Day Four: A Compelling Case for Lent with Fire of Spirit of Council

It dawned on me that I may have yet to create a compelling case for observance of the penitential season of Lent.

Lent mounts a fire.

Like Vatican Council II lit a fire.  It created a huge shift of the plates below the earth.

That historic Council that formed, shaped, and made me a student of, blew a wind of "fresh air," unlike any since perhaps the First Century.

All the worldwide bishops were invited and involved.

Younger clergy seem to know little of the Council, and more of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

There's a shift also.

Yet, Lent's influence to morph and mend my life these forty days until the glorious Holy Thursday's Mass of the Lord's Supper, stirs a change and conversion in me, and, in turn, in others.

At Mass yesterday, it seemed that participants were unprepared to have a plan for Lent.

A compelling argument was needed.

When the 'young Church' was asked to commit and come forth, little awareness of Lent lingered.

The preacher needed to go down another road, so to speak.

Lent needs to be born anew.

Like the Triduum, the highest holy days of the Christian calendar immediately before Easter's fifty-day season of joy through Pentecost Sunday. 

Another fire.

When the charismatic renewal was the topic of my college thesis, experience and encountering the fire and fervor of the movement was key.

Still is.

Life, the living, is like that, no?

Who wants a dead Church anyway?

How do I get people to want to mark moments of their living from ashes to Easter?  To come alive in Christ this Lent?

To be renewed as Vatican's aim was "aggiornamento," and morphing within.  Changing one's heart before we turned our altars.

Hearts are like that.  Faith is.

Living blood rushes through that muscle, and more.


In keeping the heart moving with exercise that assures flowing blood, like the flowing water I watched Sunday afternoon from the window of a parishioner's home.

Like the waters of St. Clair flowing fast and freely along M-29, Twenty-three Mile Road in Algonac, Michigan, USA.,  Lent moves believers who enter its ebb and flow with a certain plan.

Less TV, no e-mailing, no social media, and blogs alone amid more praying, fasting, and alms giving for the most vulnerable in and outside the womb.

Over bread and an omelette yesterday at the home of a parishioner, the pace of the running river gripped my attention as I looked through the window of this publisher's home, her temple, her domain of Lent coupled with the shell of her nine-decades wise temple confidently cooking like the Christianity she limb and legs on with certainty.

And, with questions that contain the answers!

Pitched like a tent or a blade of grass, as the psalmist notes, Maria's probing of life's desolation and consolation filled and fueled our conversation between bites of the aroma-saturated olfactory nerves of my nose, fueled by the nourishment she gently prepared with patience, charity, and generosity of heart.

Lent is like that.

It stops me in my tracks.

Lent pauses me.  Makes me reflect in a frenetic world and culture I inhabit too often.

Like my own dads' admonition to go play, to think less, to be more, I heed her every word.

Lent morphs me like two opposing locamotive engines on separate tracks.

Culture's track.  And, the track of Jesus the Christ's call to be more, to be the best of my True Self as Trappist Thomas Merton suggests.

The False Self falls and dies to new life of Lent's steps, morphing me full circle.  Full circle.

Complete turning. Completing, converting is like that.

Becoming whole, as Maria said.  Spirit, mind, body.  One  Atonement.  At-one-ment!

Only a living Word and tradition transcends a constitution etched in ink.

A living and pilgrim people of God comprise the Church.

All else is a museum.

A vibrant, living People of God are sustained by the Holy Spirit.

For sure.

As firm and strong and sure as the Spirit spoken of by the late John Cardinal Dearden who attended all sessions of the Vatican Council from 1962-65 at the Vatican.

This in-between time of prayer, fasting and alms giving can be a clarion call, a Trumpet's sounding for a renewal of Vatican II.  A council left in a book for many it seems.

Lent can be better.

"The Church gives birth to the Church every day," confessed the Vnerable Bede.

Do I? 

Do we?

Making my Lent daily makes my day.  All the days from ashes to Easter.


Full circle.




Like the evolving Trinity of Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier.    

A blessing cup.  Food for the journey. 

A living Church at home.

In the domestic Church.

Where it began and seems to be going these days at home in the living Church there where we spend most time amid work and school, and more.

"Bless us, O Lord,
and these Thy Gifts,
Which we are about to receive
Through Christ, Our Lord.

Amen."             +     +    +                  

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Day Three: Temptation

It's the first Sunday of Lent.

The three temptations of Jesus are highlighted.

Jesus overcomes the demonic attempts to lure him.

It isn't so well in the movie, Moonstruck.

The wife suspects that her husband is running around.  She reminds him that everyone will die one day.

And, her daughter gets it also.  She'd told that her life is "going down the toilet," for living with her boyfriend, in the same movie.

Temptations are always around.

I'm reminded of the story by Portia Nelson:

I walk down the street.

There's  a hole; I fall in it.

I walk down the same street. 

The same hold is there.  I fall in it again.

I walk down another street.

Distractions are key to temptations.

When one's tempted to be angry, it's been said, to start saying the Lord's Prayer.

At church today, a couple of women were expecting to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation.

No priest was available, however.

Usual time is at 3 pm each Saturday.

When I arrived for 4 pm Mass, I was able to converse with the penitents and apologize, at least, that no one told me to comme to hear confessions at 3.

After Mass, one stood by for the sacrament.

The snow poured.

The deacon seated nearby noticed that the snow stopped when I preached.

He said it stopped because of me.


If I had such influence.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Day Two

It is a trek.


Breaking habits take time.

Getting into the pillars of Lent have me morphing.

But, slowly, it seems.

So, I accept that.



Alms giving.

Three foundations of movement from the false to the true self that Trappist Thomas
Merton speaks about often in his writings and retreats.

Meatless Fridays afford one more meal with fish.

A visit to the Amish market had me looking at all their cheeses.

Next door, the fish market got my attention aimed at the perch.

Worked on my taxes for 2012 today.

That's a fine lenten practice also.

It shows where my heart is with how charity is kept in mind to assist others.

A calm, centered self emerged, it seemed to me, at least, this first Friday of Lent.

Although, chicken soup was being prepared for Friday at an area church. 

That bothered me if meatless Fridays of Lent are the rule.

And, on Ash Wednesday, a group wanted me to join them after Mass in Westland, MI.

Already planned to visit Marywood Assisted Living in Livonia, MI.

Substantial prayer and reflection time with some reading from Rohr's Immortal Diamond kept me on track. His book is another gem of spirituality.  Of mending, moving, morphing from false to a true self.

No easy task, however.

Habits fall fiercely.

And, Skipping Easter, my latest tome, arrived for Saturday's booksigning.

Writing it kept me focused on the importance of this penitential season.

It did.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Day One

Today's Lent calls me to make it a start that is decidely different than other ordinary days of the year.

At Mass, musical instruments are to be used seldomly and only to support congregational music.

"At the cross her station keeping stood the mournful mother weeping," is the hymn written on people's hearts and needs no keyboard.

Chicken soup was being cooked in the parish hall as the aroma filled my nostrils.

It surprised me to learn that the soup would be served Friday - a day without meat, as regulations stipulate.

How is Lent felt differently at home?

Less TV.

No e-mailing.

More intense prayer.


Alms giving.

Slowly, I'm getting into this penitential season.

I so want these 40 days to work well for Easter joy deepening within my heart and soul.

Help me, O God, to faithfully trek through one day at a time.

I implore You.

Our help is in the Name of the Lord,

who made heaven and earth.

At the cross her stations keeping,
stood the mournful mother weeping close
to Jesus to the last.

With gusto, people sang that at Mass earlier.


Lent is making its debut.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

My Moonstruck Family


Moonstruck is the story of an Italian family in Brooklyn.

It's about any family, USA.

Moonstruck is about a mother, Rose, and, a father, Cosmo, and their daughter, Cher.

Rose suspects her husband is cheating, and says: "Cosmo, I just want you to know that no matter what you do, you're gonna die, just like everyone else!"

Later, mother says to daugher: "Your life's goin' down the toilet!"

Deadly thoughts, no?

Wake up calls, you may say.

But, true.

Ashes smudged on my forehead reminded me Ash Wednesday, Lent's 40-day trek in the dessert of these days of desolation and consolation, that in the tribe or klan, whether a kook or a king or queen,
I'm falling short, missing the mark - that's what sin means - missing the mark, a Greek word, "harmatia."

Missing the bullseye. 

Archers know. 

We all do.

And, we all are missing the mark, no?

What I do now since being smudged with black, shiny remains of palm trees, and, the day I die, really matters.

It does.

I must awaken.

Cher, the daughter in Moonstruck, like each of us this Lent, goes to confession in that same movie admitting that she slept with her fiance's brother.

Temptations trump so many choices we make.

Jesus endured and triumphed over three temptations in the dessert.  Jesus would have no part of abusing his power by using it to feed himself by turning stones into bread, to turn on a magic show like in a night club with color flames and flare.

This Christian campaign we're about in prayer, fasting and works of charity are means to morph and mend me, and, you.

In this trek, however, it's not about power at all, political or otherwise. 

It's about so much more.

It's beyond ashes.

I am claimed for more than this passing age, more than just a blade of grass that fades, as the writer of Psalms, warns.

This Chrstian campaign ends with death sooner or later. 

We know.

We will pass over.

To heaven, of course.

Unless, we have other plans!

But, for now, we are in exile, in a dessert, as it were, like ghosts wandering until we rest in glory, in Christ's Light, the Victor over sin and death and temptation.

We are, in a sense, Dead Men Walking.

Another movie. 

Another time.

Dear God:

These days are filled
with frustration, and more,
yet, despite dosolation of
doubt, despair, even depressing
moments of temptations, you
buoy me up as I distract from sin
and run into your beloved arms.

There I am safe from the desserts
of Flint, the turmoil within, from
temptations of Cheboygan,  Detroit,
Israel, and beyond.

There I am yours.

In your tribe. 

Marked with more than mortality
and ashes.

Claimed your own for ever!

Thank you!


Tuesday, February 12, 2013



A monk, on pilgrimage, was thirsty in Bagkok, Thailand, so he handed a five dollar bill to a young lad who gave him a bottle of water.  "My change please,"  the monk said, to which the lad responded: 


Pounding paczki yesterday pressed in your belly? Those rasberry-packed doughnuts with hundreds of fat grams of egg and carbs.  Did you have one?  Or, three?  Now, work it off, or pay the price for a heavy and clogged heart, and more.

And, tomorrow is another day some will pack it in, or, put on the lips and on the hips, with Valentine's Day with all due respect to the brothers of Thesolonica, Greece, Saints Cyril and Methodius, the ecumenical apostles of the Slavs.  Any Slavs here?  Raise your hand high please - Slavs? Now, anyone planning for Lent still?  Details?


Ecumenism saints they morphed and converted many.  SS. Cyril and Methodius Church is named after them on Ryan, north of 18 Mile Road in Sterling Heights.  And, the Orchard Lake Schools Seminary with mostly Polish students being formed to be parish pastors, is called, Saints Cyril and Methodius Seminary at OL, Orchard Lake.  Have you been there?  It's worth a visit there this Lent, and a visit to St. Paul of the Cross  retreat house on I-96 east of Telegraph, squeezed in between your

casino stops seniors, among others here tonight, and

paying the bills,

shut up some,

try silence,

say your prayers,

be an aroma of Christ's charity,

fast by eating a lot less food than we Americans ingest each day, yes, you youngsters also, you know, perhaps you don't, you'll stave off diabetes in your living temple/body by walking and getting some brisk exercise these 40 days.

Finally, abstain from meat Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all the Fridays of Lent will get you fit and fashionable in body, mind and spirit, OK?

YES, EVEN NOW at 16, 46 or 59 or 99!










WILL YOU these days of Lent?

raise your hand please, stand up.....get their names in writing.


Mardi Gras Today


People like them.

They can be other than whom they really are in life.

For one day.

Perhaps, two, including Halloween.

Mardi Gras is today.

It's a carnival atmosphere where masks are permitted with time limitations no one observes anyway, I imagine.

Clean out the refrigerator.

The big fast and abstinence starts Ash Wednesday with ashes pressed on the foreheard reminding me of my mortality, and, tomorrow, and all the Fridays of Lent are meatless for those 18 or older up to 60 years of age. 

One main meal the next forty days through Holy Thursday's Lord's Supper Mass when the 40-day trek ends and gives way to the Triduum, the holiest days of the Christian calendar.

More intense praying, fasting and alms giving are pillars of Lent.

From the cross of Christ to the crown of his rising on Easter Sunday.

50 days of celebration follow through Pentecost Sunday.

My plan, in addition to the three pillars of Lent:

Exclude e-mailing and use the telephone to personally connect daily;

Blog three times weekly;

Read instead of TV;

Treats taken only on Sundays.

A blessed Lenten season to you!

Let me know how you're doing and being these days of morphing, will you?

Write me at alphaomega2049@yahoo.com please.

Monday, February 11, 2013

He's 85

Somehow, people seem to expect something to be noted here about the Pope's retirement today.

He's 85.

Most people today are retiring in the mid-50s.

A humble man, Benedict XVI, recognizes his frailty and limitations, although he is a contemplative, brilliant, lucid and remarkable human to this day, for his age, and, for heading a Church still rocking from scandal.

Like a family, the entire people need to gather a the table and talk.  Not a few.  All

Vatican III is in order.

That's more like the way a family works and manages issues.  Leaving out a member of the family would cause some hurt, I'm sure.

And, people know there's enough hurt by now.

Unhealed wounds suffered over years. 

I know.  You know.

Yet, people are surprised -- the media seemed shocked to create a story -- about his lightning speed and quiet announcement today since no pope since Gregory XV in 1415 resigned over 600 years ago.

Jospeh Ratzinger, Benedic'st birth and baptismal name, is assumed later this month when he officially steps down the first week of Lent, or later - a forty day penitential season for Christians entering into the mysteries and miseries of Jesus as his trek to Calvary where he is executed as a rebel, go figure!

Roman leaders, like all leaders, have problems with those who may seem to subvert the status quo.

In the greatest story ever told in the Bible, the love of Jesus turned the world upside down.

And, Jesus' speaking truth to power, was unmatched for the Emperors in charge.  Threatened, they felt it necessary to murder Jesus.

On Palm Sunday, days before his demise, he is hailed as King of the Jews. 

And, suddenly, nailed to a tree (cross).

Benedict entered those pains and pangs also.  He knows aches as anyone of us does.

Let him alone, soldiering on, is not his aim.

He has the common good in mind, the people of God.

Happy retirement good and faithful servant of God, and so many interfaithful across the globe.

Now, go find another story to dwell on until the next BIG ONE, will you?

Sunday, February 10, 2013


A bullet hit her.

It killed her.

Jennifer Scavone was riddled in her Yukon on I-75 in Detroit.

Bullets kill.

People do also.

Play with the blame if you will.



They kill one dead.

No more life.



I meant to speak up against violence.

No time.

So much to do.

More matters took time.

Then, a bullet hit me.


And, silenced.

No more can I speak.

Or, speak up against violence.

A bullet did it to me.

Never did I think it would hit me.


It did, however.


Well, I'm dead.

Friday, February 8, 2013

SUNDAY'S SERMON 2/10 Fishing for Valentines

"It makes one almost despair of this nation being
a peaceful one: we are a nation addicted to images
of violence, brutality, sadism, self-affirmation by
arrogance, aggression, and so on . . ."

"I was praying for a Trappist vocation against all hope."

                       -    Trappist Monk Thomas Merton

Would Isaiah, the Hebrew Scripture's prophet, one who stands in for God, appreciate Valentine's Day?


"Here I am, send me," Isaiah (Ch. 61)  said to the voice of the Lord, asking:

"Whom  shall I send?  Who will go for us?"

Simon Peter in today's Gospel is also called.  His call is to fish for people.

Will Isaiah and Simon Peter respond to their calls?  Will you?

Both were effective and fruitful leaders.  Nets were breaking full of fish caught in Simon Peter's boat. In fact, two boats began to sink with the catch.

Peter, James and John left the empty nets and boats that were abandoned on the shore.

They also left their possessions, vocation, and family to follow a stranger with a power they had never before witnessed.

They embarked on a lifelong mission they could never have imagined.

Surrender of self and things, their own dreams, is involved here.

We all know.

Been there.  Done that!

The life of a physician, attracted me.  But, God had other plans.  Like the Hound of Heaven, God gets God's way if one listens.

At first, I resisted, although I pursued thoughts about ministry, "playing" Mass with a veil cloth over a cup on a cardboard box table with a slice of bread.  The mystery, the magic, maybe, intrigued me no end.  Changing bread and wine, morphing those elements into the Living Presence!  Wow!  And, to become that Presence as another saint, Augustine, said, "Receive who you are, the body of Christ."

For any young idealist that would be attractive.

For Jesus, his solitary mission at times had him treking from Nazareth to Capernaum and on throughout Judea, casting out demons, healing the sick, and preaching with ardor the Word of God.

All of this.  And, more.  I got it all, praise God! Such a meaningful life stooping low to serve.

'Tho some days, like every way of life, have their ups and downs, consolations and desolations, the meaning that emerges from ministry is more than I ever imagined.

Trappist monk, Thomas Merton of Gethsemane Retreat Center in Kentucky where holiness pervades with biblical psalms sung throughout hours of the day and night, had his vocation story also.

His, Seven Storey Mountain, has helped countless people decide on their life's work.

Similarly, the origin of Saint Valentine's Day this week, a day greeting card companies and candy stores making chocolates, must relish, is unclear, but seems to have taken root in England, a cold country where the signs of spring are eagerly anticipated.  As you may recall, as far back as Chaucer it was commonly observed that birds began to pair and mate around the feast of St. Valentine, from mid-February.

Valentine, whose name is oddly commemorated, was apparently a Christian priest in Rome who assisted martyrs during the persecution under Emperor Claudius II. He was arrested eventually and sent before the prefect of Rome. Valentine, a third century martyr, refused to renounce his faith.  Consequently, he was beaten and beheaded.  Valentine, nevertheless, offered his heart, and proved that he was a true devotee of our God of Love. 

Cyril and Methodius, two brothers in the ninth century of Greece, were apostles of the Slavs who heard their calls also. They followed their hearts.   Their memory is marked also on February 14, and, are revered as patron saints of ecumenism.  They invented a written Slavonic alphabet into which they translated the Sacred Scriptures, and are considered founders of Slavonic literature who introduced the Slavonic language into the liturgy, like the vernacular that we experience here at Mass in English, the language of the country, beyond Latin, since Vatican Council II.

Holy hearts.  We thank people from the bottom of my heart, but for God, one's heart has no bottom.

They all were that and more.

How about your heart? 

Does it meet with, "Here I am Lord, send me?"

THE WILL TO SPEAK UP: Royal Kabob in Hamtramck, MI., Is Site of Feb. 11th, 3:45 pm Meeting, 3236 Canifff

While clergy leaders, among others, deepen inter and intra-faith  rapport, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 for an hour in the Royal Kabob in the diverse South Asian and Middle Easterner town of Hamtramck, MI.,  the size of my own Harrison Township, where I reside, other global concerns mount.

Trafficked daily are women and girls.  Violence in other forms fuels the economy while human life is denigrated everywhere, it seems, and, at  every level of life.

Voices are needed to speak up in support of those persons violated.

Some will conclude that these are political issues.

They are moral issues that cause believers to speak up.

They challenge citizens, and faith people to write our representatives and sign petitions to support laws protecting human life in and outside the womb.

Clergy, among others, need to press with THE WILL to address these concerns without usual excuses.

Life merits launching an offensive now.

Solidarity works.

It always has.

Please help do something.

Be a collective clergy conscience for society today.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Declaration for Life from the All Faiths Festival (AFF) of Michigan


It easily beats all the energy across the globe where hate resides in the hearts of men and women.

It is said that it is easier to smile than to frown.

It's healthier also. 

Wellness abounds in and outside of self with love, charity and goodwill toward all.

Harmful chemicals in the body fail to be released when love replaces angry feelings toward anyone.

Interesting how people blame Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, among others, for fueds over land, power, people, and more.

These are human conflicts that are resolvable together with formation, education and deeper understanding and respect.

That entails encountering each other to talk, meet and feel the heart, soul and mind of one another amid differences.

It is time for all people of faith to stand together.

The Jewish people have deep roots in Iraq.  Abraham, the patriarch of the Hebrew people, was born in the ancient city of Ur, in what is now souther Iraq.

He fathered Isaac, who had Isaac, who had Jacob, who was renamed Israel by God and was promised a nation.

Jesus, the Lord of Christians, myself included as a Catholic one, descended from that line.

Abraham's other son, Ishmael, was also promised a nation in the Bible. 

He is considered the progenitor of the Arab peoples.  From the branch of Ishmael, Islam's central figure, the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, descended.

The time has come for leaders to stand together in holding high regard for human life across the globe when so much conflict, carnage and human bloodshed mocks the mandate of the Hebrew Scriptures:

"Thou shall not kill," and, the Christian Scriptures: "Love one another,"  and the Islamic Scriptures: "Killing an innocent person unjustly is like killing all humankind."

Global war with countless human casualties depresses and demeans the dignity and worth of all humans made in the image of God's likeness.  God will help moral leaders rise together to stop the murdering enveloped in a culture of fear holding tightly the soul and conscience of America.

Children of Adam must stop killing each other. 

No faith tolerates unjust killing.  It is required by our faiths to stand up against all forms of terror whether committed by individuals or by sovereign states.  We must call for justice and peace on earth.

God almighty helps us, as the Children of Abraham, to speak up against acts of unwarranted violence, no matter where and by whom. Prayerful contact and connections with the Creator each day, each hour, makes a difference in how we relate with each other well.

Join me Monday, February 25 at 7 pm to hear Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, "The Gospel Cries Out,"  and, on Sunday, March 10 at 4 pm in Saint James Church, 241 Pearson at Woodward in Ferndale, MI., to sing biblical psalms, hear about the Trappist Monk, Thomas Merton's vocation trek (7-Storey Mountain), and pray Christian prayers and hymns in what we call Liturgy of the Hours, or, vespers and evening prayer, official prayer of the Catholic Church.  You will be welcomed by others, and me as inter and intra-faithful clergy, among others of our diverse faith traditions.  In fact, efforts are being made here to introduce our young people to learning how to pray for better days at home and school. Invite your young believers also, please.  W E L C O M E sisters and brothers all!

Together we can pray for peace to stop the violence in our own hearts first, and let it spread across the U.S.A., and globe.

Prayer is like that.  Such energy soars like eagles.  God hears prayers for peace.

War is the most primitive method of resolving conflicts.  We urge a new era of reconciliation where we can end conflicts by loving people on both sides of all issues.

After all, God loves the Palestinians and Jews, the Maker loves the Muslims and Christians, the Creator loves African Americans and Whites alikes.  God loves Democrates and Republicans, Catholics and Protestants. 

We stand here in repentance because none of us have done enough to love each other and reconcile with one another.  We pledge to live up to a higher standard, and call on others to do the same. 

May God forgive us for our failures, guides us in healing and help us to usher in a new era of peace.

Those words were publicly pledged by clergy leaders, among others on March 31, 2008. 

Crafted by Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders in Metropolitan Detroit, including Rabbi Doctor Mordehai Waldman of Berkley, MI., Reverend David Kasbow of Redford, MI., and, Unification,
Father Roman Pasieczny of Saint Martin de Porres Catholic Church in Warren, MI., Imam Mustapha Elturk of the Islamic Organization of North America in Warren, MI., Victor Begg of Bloomfield Hills, and myself,  among dozens of others, including numerous civic and business leaders.

Will you sign on also, and join me in the Royal Kabob Restaurant, 3236 Caniff, in Hamtramck, MI., Monday, February  11 at 3:45 pm to plan a inter and intra-faith program to further deepen our understanding and appreciation of each other's faith, and, most importantly, to move peacemaking efforts to speak up, and, nonviolently act against human violence in our own hearts first, and in the areas we reside? 

Will you take an hour to finalize plans for a place, date, and time for a forum with the aim to enhance
inter and intra-faith understanding among clergy, and, to help stop some of our culture of violence?

Will you?

Will you call me at (586) 777 9116, or write me at sacredheartroseville@saintly.com to occupy a chair at our common table, and, perhaps, even break bread and drink some hot tea, please?

Lawrence M. Ventline, D.Min.
Founding Director, All Faiths Festival of Metropolitan Michigan.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Dear Valentine: For You, My Heart Has No Bottom


Your own.


The heart of those we love and cherish in life: Friends, the people of God, parishioners, and more.

Expressions of kindness, little as they may seem, build hearts, and, lead to one heart, a single global heart of peace and serenity, security and safety.

One heart at a time.

We can do this.

Hugs, helps, hints of support, smiles, and, other hearty expressions.

Although the words, Thank You, seem trite and overly used without the real feel they mean, my heart has no bottom in deepest appreciation for all the love and support I get from many people with whom I serve, work, and stoop low to lift up life with evergreen hope.

A bottomless heart.

Imagine that.

The world needs it.

Your own.


And, the infection of such love that spreads like wild fire that fuels a wind of more everywhere.

Sounds hearty to me.

A call for bottomless hearts of charity.

Join in, will you please?

Be hearty, healthy, well and wise this month, and beyond.

My heart to your own.

Linking 'em all together across the globe.

What a view!

What power of the heart, that endless, bottomless muscle making a difference.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Grudges, Gifts and Growth

The mender, morphing growth group Monday in Roseville, Michigan's Big Jack's Bar-B-Q named grudges they grip tight.

Paul said he doesn't have grudges, while Marge, Larry and Sandra named specfic grudges that have hurt relationships.

Grip too tightly those there grudges, one participant said.

It's like drinking poison intended for another, another attendee reported.

Grudges are those bad encounters with family, friends and acquaintances, someone in the 5:30 group said.

Grudges are unlike gifts given freely.

In fact, grudges may prevent one from sharing his or her acquired gifts learned over time.

One holds tightly those grudges.

Harm festers in and outside one's body, being, and soul.

One even tightens up, and, looks like it to others.

Unlike gifts given freely to be shared without a price tag, grudges always had me protecting and preserving my talents, one member of the group shouted.

Disappointed, I tend to isolate and keep my talents to myself, voiced another.

No giving.

No forgiving.

No growth.

Stuck in a grudge.

Got to bury 'em, someone said with passion.

Just let go.

Grudges got to go.

They just hold me down.

I give again then, fully,  another participant concluded as the group left the burial service.

They all walked out of Big Jack's more briskly with confidence, and some with smiles.

Like rising up anew.

Burials of grudges are like that.

One feels lighter after unloading.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Various Problems and Violent Toys


They exist in life, I know.

David knew also.  His story is told about his triumph over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; that is, without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine,  1 Sam. 17:50, notes in the Scriptures.

Young David seized the day and floored the giant compared to David's small stature.  And, he did it without any high tech weapons of mass destruction, or, guns, for that matter.

You also know, I'm sure.  Problems abound.


Life's ups and downs, desolations and consolations, are what life is about, isn't it?

Church closures is one problem.

Maybe, its only my heart that breaks as I watch edifices be sold, and as sad, close in neighborhoods where churches were the solid rock and foundation following Jesus' invitation to "follow me," far from what some assume what he didn't say:  "Worship me!"

In Now Huta, Poland, decades ago, when that country was under Communist rule, the Archbishop, Karol Wojtyla (later in 1978, he became Pope John Paul II), opened a church, in fact.  He wouldn't think of closing churches.

Here in Detroit, however, it seems that more imaginative ways would be engaged to attract neighbors to join Catholic churches nearby for worship.

Seems as though that proposal is met with a yawn.

I begin to wonder, even become sad about the epidemic of the  priest personnel problem here in Detroit, and across the globe.

In fact, next Saturday, February 9th at 1 pm in Sacred Heart Church in downtown Detroit, Sister Karen, a canon lawyer, will address the closure of churches and canon law.

You'd think that this priest personnel problem and shortage of clergy would have been resolved by now.

After all, this eternal issue has been around for decades that some claim Vatican II could have addressed when "fresh air" was welcomed by that historic Council that Pope John XXIII convened in 1962, and lasted for three years.

We have to accept these issues, and converse to address them while locked in solutions fail to work and sacraments and pastoral care limps.  Add to that pastors who get to cover three or more parishes as they round the edifices weekly for Sunday Mass.

What a way to run what was a vibrant, thriving Church held together well by pioneers, and pastors and nuns who raised up orphanages, hospitals, schools, and more, including the superb Catholic Youth Organization (CYO).

With God's help, openness, and more, together, people can resolve these problems related to church closures, guns and violence.

The imaginative David slayed Goliath, the giant.

Americans can solve the problems perplexing people today.

Yes we can.  But, will we?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Left, Right, Liberal, Conservative


They tend to please no one.

The left doesn't like prophets.  Nor, do the people on the right.

Since prophets tell the truth, that is, God's truth, not their own version of truth, they hardly fit into categories we pigeon-hole people into these days whether in Washington, D.C., or any corporation, business, even church.

Prophets keep the church honest and accountable.

And, God knows the church needs all the help she can get being truthful.

Church can be reduced to ideas and categories with the rest of the culture unless her mission is aimed for always.

Transformation of self and others is key.  Holiness comes with truth.  God's truth.

Prophets stand in for God.

Believers, then, are to stand up for truth, not left or right, who is right and who is wrong, who is in and who is out!

Read history and look at the prophetic voices.

They tend to be killed by people who hate them and their message.

How we could use truth and tellers of it these days.