Sunday, March 31, 2013



Nothing seems new as nothing changed after Newtown, CT., at the slaughter of my young sisters and brothers that still wrenches my heart and soul.

Immigration policy limps.

Nothing new.



Bullying and discrimination with hate crimes still abound.

Jews and Catholics could lovingly  rise up against so many Americans who have little regard for our Muslim sisters and brothers.

Deeper dialog.

Still, nothing.

No newness.

The sun will rise this dark and dreary Easter Sunday season through Pentecost's fire fueling strength to love God and neighbor.

To be on God's side as President Lincoln hoped.

To take God's side.


A new, fresh sun, and darkness inevitably will come sooner or later.

Humble, simple surrendering before God is the NEWNESS I will encounter in the stranger, in washing the feet of inmates, including women, and Muslims.


After a dry stream much of my years as a priest, a NEWNESS rises like the ON THE RISE BAKERY sponsored by the Capuchin Soup Kitchen.  It is located on Gratiot at McClellan in Detroit.

On the rise.

Newness is also.

A blessed Easter.

Be in touch with newness this night and day and all the minutes in between.

Much like Aline Irvine, a wise elder who seems so full of newness each time I meet her.


Be it.

We need it.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Sealed Tomb Recalling Rising of Jesus

South on Gratiot Avenue in Detroit, my aim was to make a pilgrimage to area churches, mosques and synagogues on Good Friday, the Christian observance that recalls the torture of Jesus, and his crucifixion, a horror we need to speak up against before inflicted upon any human being, let alone other creatures of the earth.

Baptist, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Catholic, Episcopal, and more edifices line the major thorough way.

Many were closed, however.

Others, like Assumption Grotto Catholic Church at McNichols had a parking lot full of cars this sunny afternoon when Spring broke forth wonderfully, it seems.

The sun felt so good.

It did on this day we shall never forget.

The final church on my pilgrimage was the Historic Trinity near downtown Detroit.

After animated preaching and praise, we assembled in front of the church to seal and shutter it for Saturday.  A unique idea, I thought.

Now, we await Easter's rising of Jesus.

This revered custom at the city church is appreciated.  It becomes the tomb of Jesus where he lay until the breaking forth, rising of new life.

What wondrous celebrations of 50 days of the Easter season.

Fully, actively and consciously festive until Pentecost.

When efforts are made to remove the word Easter and replace it with Spring, instead, Christians may want to rise up this Easter to be pro-active in spreading the Good News amid naysayers who want Christ out of the culture, let alone any semblance of God and God's reign.

Like torture, and all the horrific ways people are executed, we must rise up for life.

That is, to support life in and outside the womb!

And, the tomb.

A blessed Easter to you!

Let the Alleluia hymns resound with gusto, and may your heart swell with the call to live,  TO LIVE, DON'T DIE!


Christ has died, Christ is Risen,  and Christ will come again!

For sure.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Lent Ends With Mass of the Lord's Supper, Triduum's Highest Holy Days Start for Christians

Engaging in the life of the community of the beloved disciples these high holy days is central to Christians.
If any days depict inhumanity of man and woman it is this week's holy week trek of Jesus.

There's betrayal, denial, ridicule, rejection, and more.

It all boils within me as I witness the life of the Risen One who suffered, died and overcame the world.

For us.

For you.

For me.

For all as a shining example of what love does.

How people want to kill Love.

It reflects too brightly on how I need to live each day. 

Life's dark hates Light and love.

Another way is possible.  Violence is not the way.  Jesus showed the Way, Life and Truth these days.

Charged with inciting a riot, blasphemy, and rebellion, Jesus was far from these condemnations in the dark of night.

Jesus may have disturbed the conscience of the leaders who led him to the slaughter.  Like the Lamb he was and is for us today.

We need disturbers of our ways to set us on a path of morphing and more.

Good Friday.

So good.

How will I make it better before Easter's 50 day season?


Enter and engage with Mass this evening, the stations of the Cross tomorrow, the Easter Vigil and Sunday with the season of hope that follow.

Enter fully.

And, feel all the feelings Jesus felt.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

How They Personally Pray: Jewish and Christian

An intimate telling of how they pray.

Up close and personal.

Personally, that is.

Jewish and Christian clergy, among others, teach others how to pray, Monday, April 29, 2013, at 11:45 am until 1:30 pm at the distinguished Focus:HOPE, founded by the late Father William Cunningham and Eleanor Josaitis. The event with tours of the sprawling service campus are available at 1300 Oakman Boulevard, Detroit.

In a session called, "Powerful Praying, Prophets and Politics: Leaders Step Up to the Plate," each clergy will take about five minutes to tell how their prayer informs and leads to community involvement, even prophetic action.

Devotional books for daily praying, and the Psalms of the Bible are most popular.

A Lutheran minister told me at my Foam Factory office in Clinton Township, MI., that when one neglects thee devotionals, his or her life declines.

How true in my own experience of the Liturgy of the Hours, comprised largely of Psalms to be recited multiple times a day. 

When I neglect my prayers, life is also neglected.

Rabbi Dorit Edut of Hungtington Woods, MI., with ties to the Downtown Detroit Isaac Agree Synagogue, notes:

"Every morning and evening I take time for personal prayer, usually after a short session of the daily prayers which are part of the Jewish tradition.  In the morning, I center myself and connect to my inner being, thanking the Divine God  for life and for restoring my soul. Then, I pray for health, prosperity, strength, and love for the members of my immediate and extended families. I pray that God sends physical and emotional and spiritual healing to all those I know are in need of this.  I also pray for the leaders of our world to be guided to making good decisions and to work together.  At night, I take time to thank God for the many individual blessings I experienced this day and ask for God's protection and peace for my family and myself during this night."

Oak Park resident, Rabbi Morehai Waldman spends time reciting Psalm 23, among others, he admits.

"That Psalm, among others, helped me through my bout with cancer," he confides.

What impressed me about the late Father William Cunnigham and Eleanor Josaitis, founders of Focus:HOPE in 1968, after the riots,  was how they both pressed pennies in the palms of the hands of people they met, saying, "Remember in whom we trust."

Josaitis was a devotee of the twelve step spirituality. I know that she rose early each day to connect with the Creator.

The Holy Spirit was huge for Josaitis who moved with her husband, Don, and five children, from Taylor to Detroit, MI., after Cunningham hatched the need for a civil and human rights organization after the Detroit riot . It would be based on the prophet Isaiah, and Matthew's Gospel, Ch. 25.

Like the Trappist Thomas Merton of Gethsemane, Kentucky, the activist writer, urged people to find a garden to spend time with prayer.  Cunningham enjoyed a long run at Detroit's Belle Isle Park, a jewel of an isle near downtown Detroit.  After that, the buoyant and charismatic pastor would drive over to the Bonaventure Center on Mt. Elliott where Father Solanus Casey was a porter who answered the front door.

"Take a half hour a day,"  Merton advised those who wrote him, "and just walk up and down the flowerbeds with the intention of offering this walk up as a meditation and prayer."

JoAnn Loria Briffa of Clinton Township, Michigan, notes that prayer evolves over time for her.

"I find less need for books, words and images at this time as prayer evolves over the years if we continue to be faithful to the times given to prayer.  Just sitting quietly by myself and being in touch with the God within.  God is ever close and when silent and attentive I can feel His presence.  I talk to God as I would an intimate friend.  Practice often and talk to God as if He is in front of you."

A young attorney from Troy, MI., Sadeer Farjo, says:

"I like to sit before the Blessed Sacrament to pray."

I am increasingly convinced that some sense of a prayer beyond words is the deepest meaning of it, and why Saint Paul tells us that we can pray 'always' in I Thes., Ch. 5:18, and Eph.. 5:20.

Centering on "You are my beloved," is a favorite litany or mantra phrase that I repeat often when distractions come my way during two 20-minute segments daily.  All of the stuff of the 'ego' begins to fall a way, and, a glimmer of God and union with God may occur momentarily at the very end of the session.

Devotional books like the very popular Lenten, Easter, and Stewardship themes for each day, among others, crafted by the late Kenneth Untener, a bishop of Saginaw, MI., are favorites to augment my connection with the Maker.

"I thirst," among the 7 last words of Jesus on the cross, recorded in the Gospel, are another preferred phrase to center on daily for myself.

Aim of prayer seems to make us all one with God and all of the world.

In fact, Edut, concludes:

"I always open and close with the words of the Jewish affirmation: "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One."

To round off this entry, I would savor noting how Imams, and religious leaders from the Buddhist, among other faith traditions, personally pray.

Monday, March 25, 2013

MCHR Annual Dinner April 7 at Maryrove Alumnae Hall, 5 pm

Back in the 80s when the Moral Majority was in need of dialog, the late Bishop Coleman McGehee, Jr.,Thomas Gumbleton and Rabbi Richard were among the founders if the ecumenical Michigan Coalition for Human Rights who asked my own bishop if I could spend a year organizing it at St. Paul Cathedral on Woodward and Warren in Detroit's downtown area.

Sunday, April 7th the MCHR's annual dinner will be held at Marygrove College Alumnae Hall, 8425 W. McNichols, Detroit 48221.  Tickets can be obtained from Marge at (313) 579 9071, or, visit  Amy Lange of Channel 2 is emcee. Diane Nash addresses, "The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s: A Legacy for Today."

Also, "Collateral Damage in the War on Drugs: 40 Years of Failed Policy," will be addressed Thursday, April 25 in Hope Unied Methodist Church, 26275 Northwestern Highway, in Southfield with Joesef White of the Michigan Justice Commission.

Contribution to support the outstanding work of the MCHR may be sent to the MCHR, 9200 Gratiot Avenue, Detroit, 48213.

A passage that prompted the "Reign of God" urgency in Coleman McGehee, is the prophet, Isaiah, chapter 61:1-3. . ."bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners. . ."

Join me.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Passover, Christian Holy Week

Why is this night different than all others nights?

That's the question youngsters will ask of their parent Monday as the Jewish community observes Passover.

And, Christians mark Holy Week into Thursday, a day of festive jubilation at the Eucharist.  The Triduum, the highest three holy days of the Christian calendar begin, followed by Good Friday and the Eater Vigil/Sunday.

For fifty days, the Easter season is filled with celebration after a forty-day penitential trek of intense praying, fasting and charity for billions who claim they follow Jesus.

The Reign/rule of God theology aims at the prophet Isaiah, among others, calling the faithful to live lives that free captives, help the blind see, and debut love as the lone way to overcome violence in and outside the womb and world.

All of the feelings of betrayal, denial, rejection, ridicule, of mad, sad, scared, and more, surface these days.

Grief is felt by participants at the loss of an innocent man, as bystanders claimed after Jesus was condemned as one subverting the system.

Christians will flock to their edifices this week to fully enter into the suffering, dying and rising of Jesus the Christ.

They will.

They're invited to come out opposing violent ways that are replaced with the love of God and God's reign.

Why is this day different than other days?

It is the profound and greatest story ever told of one man, of Jesus, the Lord, who goes to the cross to rise from it and save the people from their sins of missing the mark of God's reign.

It is the story of love.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


Morphing and mending.

Life is full of it.

That's what people work at the first Monday and Wednesday of each month (April 1 & 3 next ones)
from 5:30-6:30 pm in Big Jack's Bar-B-Q Grill in Roseville, MI.

They morph.

They mend.

With issues raises and discussed with input from me, others, the participants eat, meet others, grieve, laugh, enjoy and savor life fully.

Participants unburden from problems carried often and too long in living the full life as Jesus invites in the Sacred Scriptures.

Join us.

Morph.  Men.

And, be all you can be this Easter season through Pentecost.

Call me at (586) 777 9116, or, write,

Friday, March 22, 2013

How People Pray

That will be the topic, "Powerful Prayer, Prophets and Politics," Monday, April 29 at 11:45 am - 1:30 pm at Focus:HOPE, 1400 Oakmand Boulvard, Detroit.

The sprawling campus founded the social services, infant and senior food program, and re-tooling workers' program back in 1968 when civil unrest rocked my Motown with rioting, and more.

How that started with praying of the late Father William Cunningham and Eleanor Josaitis invites participants to tour Focus:HOPE and to enjoy hearing how clergy, among others, pray.

How prayer moves them to action and stepping up to the plate follows.

Just how prayer sparked efforts to recognize the dignity and beauty of every human being is central to the mission of Focus:HOPE.

"Recognizing the dignity and beauty of every person, we pledge intelligent and practical action to overcome racism, poverty and injustice.  And to build a metropolitan community where all people may live in freedom, harmony, trust an affection."

That's what Focus:HOPE believes. 

And, it flowed from deep reflection and prayer.

It did.

It thrives today from the foundation of the connection the founders had with the Maker.

Both founders were people of prayer.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

PALM SUNDAY'S SERMON: A Rejected, Simple, Sacrificing, Suffering, Salvation (Healing) Servant

Pray, pay and obey.

Perhaps you remember hearing these words IN OTHER CONTEXTS. From church officials, for example.  No?

Jesus lives them: He seems to be always praying.

He pays dearly with his life for obeying his Heavenly Father.
And, the trek intensifies this passion Sunday of palm fronds that grow green long enough to be dried to adorn our crucifixes at home all year long right up to Ash Wednesday when we were marked with the murky, shiny, powdery remains of the cremated branches.

Those branches hailed Jesus as King of the Jews.


But, this enduring and best-told love story - look at PBS's skyrocketing viewers of the Bible recently - tragically ends, BUT, with HOPE ALONE, REMEMBER?

Look at how Isaiah speaks of one unnamed, depicting him as an obedient "servant of the Lord."  Today's first reading is one of four poems - remember the Bible is more than history and literal facts but almost mythology with stories that teach profound truths - about this rejected, simple, suffering, sacrificing, salvation (healing) one who is called to speak for God, but is ridiculed and mistreated, betrayed, and more.  You know!

He is the rejected prophet but always faithful one, something Gentile Christian hearers grasped and gripped easily.

Luke's passion account reveals the God of mercy offered for all, whether Jew or Gentile, sinner or righteous one.

They turned to violence. That is, those who charge Jesus and condemn him.  Assault weapons weren't around yet, but, untold massacres would have escalated from that point in history to accompany the 1,057,000 victims of gun violence since John Lennon's death by gunfire Dec. 8, 1980, the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Where was the outrage at the slaughter of the innocence and the Innocent Lamb of God then, and now?  Why no rising up?

Jesus' own disciples turn to violence when Jesus is arrested.

One of them cuts off the ear of the high priest's servant.  Those who live by the sword die by it, is one response of Jesus in the Scriptures.

Jesus asks his Father to forgive those who know not what they do. That's while he's on the cross.
Father, forgive them!

And, then there's Dismas, the good thief who asked for paradise and gets it from Jesus:  "Today you will be with me in paradise."

The centurion's statement that "This man was innocent" returns to the theme of suffering, of pay, pay and obey.

The Lamb of God slaughtered.  The journey from ashes to Easter is all week.  Join in, will you?

Are you a Lamb of God rejected, ridiculed, suffering, sacrificial, and a servant leader speaking up against assault weapons, and other violence in and outside the womb today?

Or, are you saving yourself?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Where's the Moral Outrage at Assault Weapons Gun Madness?


Why aren't masses of people rising up over Senator Reid's decision to reject assault weapon's legislation?

With 1,057,000  gun violence murders since John Lennon's death, Dec. 8, 1980, why  is this Nation sitting silently awaiting the next massacre?


Where's the moral outrage over the madness and murder of so many?

Where are the clergy, among others, leading the charge?

H. Coleman McGehee, Jr.

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

He gave a conscience to law.

Coleman did.

After six weeks in the hospital, the good bishop, shepherd and servant leader died last Thursday at 89.

Coleman rocked for justice.

He did.

As assistant attorney general in Virginia, he spoke up against discrimination in education, and more.
He told me of the Klan, of his relationship with Desmund Tutu, how he respected Agnes Mary Monsour, among others.

We first met organizing the ecumenical Michigan Coalition for Human Rights in the 80s when he asked Edmund Szoka, my bishop, if I could be the first executive director for a year, to get this important work started. 

Coleman's office was across from my own at St. Paul Episcopal Cathedral on Mack at Warren, near downtown Detroit.

His office door was usually open. 

He was very welcoming.

Once, he called me in to talk about the Trappist monk, Father Thomas Merton of Gethsemane, Kentucky.  Merton's Seven-Storey Mountain book was an international head-turner of a tome that steered searchers and seekers toward their way of life, vocation or career.

Coleman was intrigued by this man of peace who tried to bridge East and West ways of spirituality.

Most recently, monthly we met for spiritual direction.

He wondered if I was getting anything out of our hour sessions.

I was, I assured him. 

His collection of stories through time, and, his experiences of standing up for life especially for the downtrodden inspired me.

Ever so often he would spout some poetry, or remind me that life was not over until it was indeed done.

Coleman wanted me to live life fully.

The way Jesus did.

Similar, it seems to the way, Coleman did.  Full of life.

A passion for justice pervaded him.

The reign of God was central to Coleman's mode of operation.

He told me how much the prophet Isaiah meant to him. 

"The spirit of the Lord is upon me for he has chosen me to prach good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and, to set free the oppressed."

My talks with June, Coleman's wife, were as engaging and exciting.

Most recently, telephone conversations got animated as we talked about the oppressed.

Justice seems to run in the bloodline of the McGehee's.

I will miss Coleman.

Memory lives on, however.

The torch is passed.

Truth is like that.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Benedictus

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
he has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty savior,
born of the house of his servant David.

Through his holy prophets he promised of old
that he would save us from our enemies,
from the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy

This was the oath he swore to our Father Abraham:
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
free to worship him without fear,
holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life.

You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give
his people knowledge of salvation
by the forgiveness of their sins.

In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now,
and will be forever.


Sunday, March 17, 2013


How would I know for sure? 
But, this Easter Sunday and 50-day season seems to have Catholics, among others, celebrating the selection of Pope Francis of Argentina to steer the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church these days of joy and festivity in Jesus' rising from the dead.

For sure.

Francis' stories include the one with the media when this 'out-of-the-ordinary, non-curia-ever-experienced pope, far from a seeming company man' tells them that his cardinal acquaintance from Brazil warned him to 'remember the poor'  and the 'Church of the poor' when Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergolio, 76, with Italian lineage was elected at the conclave to lead the 1.2 billion institution.

Smiles.  Outgoing engaging with almost everyone who comes near.  Riding on the bus beyond the limo. Paying up his hotel bill after named Pontiff.

Spontaneity.  And, staring for minutes at the hundreds of thousands awaiting the new pope's appearance on the balcony of the Vatican weeks ago. Am I wrong to suggest that this Pope seems to know who he is in the Lord of Easter life.  He's confident in faith, humble in dispostion, gentle and poor.  A poor pope?  YES!

Like one of the saints, among many, who sat daily in the last pew of an edifice, and, the janitor asked the saint what he was doing.  "I'm looking at my God, and, my God is looking at me," the saint shot back quickly.

That's how Pope Francis seemed to stare long into his pilgrim people of God waiting to meet this Chief Shepherd that the current curia staff at the Vatican is not used to working with. That's how non-company men are.  In fact, I find it curious how some so-called 'company men' clergy (who promise obedience even when a policy is blatantly wrong) jumped right in and claimed him as their own when some leaders distance themselves from the likes of prophetic, of truth-speaking-to-power kinds of shepherds.  Well, look at Palm/Passion Sunday when Jesus was hailed as king, and, a few days later, on Good Friday Jesus is nailed to a tree. See here in living and vivid color the story of fickle followers of Jesus who want life - Easter Life - both ways.  After all, one can't be honest about God's Truth and law of love, and, hypocritical in living out the simple mandate of Scripture/Tradition at the same time, can one?

Pastor.  Teacher. Fracncis' litany list of loving attributes is winning the world.

Fellow companion on the journey who want to ride the bus, who seems to prefer the pancake paradigm beyond the pyramid and top down triangle of hierarchy, so much like the impoverished Francis of Assisi, a name the Pope claims he chose quickly after the cardinal from Brazil reminded him to be a pope of the poor.

Easter life is like that.

Pope Francis loves life, and, lives it to the full, it appears to me, at least. Francis reminds me to live, to live, don't die before your time.  LIVE!

Parishioners are buzzing everywhere claiming they like what they see in Francis, the one who wants to be like one on whom his own shoulders rest: One who loved creation and all creatures, the environment, and, primarily, people made in God's image and likeness! People - all people, you also -
who matter like you do in God's eyes. Like Francis De Sales, or Francis Xavier, or Claire.

Go figure. Such clarity.  Such simplicity about his ordinary job specs as the Shepherd next to the Risen One!  Love and live Orders from on high from the lowly one born simply to morph you and me.

Francis grew up like many of us: Poor, or, middle class, who learned suffering early on, or later in life, and, the grief that comes with losing a lung, a love, or a loved one, and, growing in an impoverished land that's poor but full of faith! Grace does build upon human nature and experience as his Jesuit brother, Karl Rahner, SJ, fully and passionately professed. As Pope John XXIII believed also.

A pope to believe in next to an intimate God of evergreen hope, fresh flowers of Easter, and, blooming red or yellow tulip bulbs bursting with colors everywhere these days in the lives of struggling families, faithful catechists, nurses and nuns, physicians and paupers, sisters, lawyers and listeners, brothers, one and all with God's beloved disciples everywhere in the universal people of God making a huge difference across the land we're inhabiting for brief spans of time before passing over to heaven (unless you have other plans).

Francis shows the human fresh face of God who may let the family fully meet, talk, share, converse and decide what's best for the common good, for the faithful.

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.  Long live Jesus, the Risen One!
And, may all of us live our our Christian days of Alleluia as Catholics, and more, with vigor, vibrancy and valor all the days of the Easter season and beyond. Vivat Jesus!

A blessed Easter, and, fresh adventure as companions on the journey with Jesus, Francis, among others, who walk with us in the 'ups and downs' of life's good and not so good days of our fragile and celebrated lives - the Easter Lamb of God arisen for ever and ever.



An Irish Blessing on Saint Patrick's Day

A BLESSING                               +


Patrick (389-461) was an apostle to Ireland.

"Christ be with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me...
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me."

He's known more for apocryphal achievement in ridding the Emerald Isle of snakes than for his missionary accomplishments. At 16 Patrick was kidnapped from the coast of Great Britain and taken as a slave to Ireland.

Firm was his faith, however.

Six years after being in captivity he escaped to the Continent.

When he studied to be a priest, dreams urged him back to Ireland in 432 when he was already a bishop.

A victim of injustice, he was able to overcome it all, and be known more for national pride than bringing no condemnation to those who treated him unfairly, like the woman caught in adultery in St. John's Gospel, Chapter 8.

You are more than any labels people give you.

You are a child of God.

You are made in God's wonderful image and likeness.

Now, go savor that for the rest of your days.

Will you?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Free Spirit

Pope Francis is a free spirit.

He's his own, God's own man. 

Just watching him these days shows a man who is courageous.

And, a servant leader who is humble, and, close to the earth.
Of course, he came from humble beginnings.

He's far from a company man, and, therefore, causing Curia (staff) concern at the Vatican.

Pope Francis never worked at the Vatican.

He likes to ride the bus, not in the limousine.

He reaches out to people, and, goes to them. 

The days are over when parishioners, among others, will go to pastors the way they did decades ago.

A commuity and parish is built with a leader who is beyond being a company man or a pleaser of the bishop and what he wants.

A free sprit.

That works well, perhaps best.

Praise God for Pope Francis.

The Church has enough company men.

It needs the free, approachable Holy Father he is for all the world.

So simple.

So sure of himself.

Seemingly grounded in God.



He asked the people for their blessing the day he was introduced to the world.

What love.

A Vatican II pastor, a shepherd, certainly.

God bless you, Francis!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Angel of God

Angel of God,
my guardian dear,
to whom his love
commits me here,
ever this day be
at my side,
to light and guard,
to rule and guide.

Some of us grew up with this connecting prayer with the Creator.

Remember it?

It came to mind as Pope Francis led thousands yesterday when he was announced to the waiting world at the Vatican. He led the faithful together in the recitation of the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be - prayers that link us to the Almighty God who loves each of us as the Maker's very own.

These conventional prayers help us all slow down in a busy culture attached to doing too much, and,
even at a speedy pace that is harmful to humans.

We're addicted to being busy, to a fast pace, a lack of patience that will eventually make a patient of all of us.

And, all of this is killing the soul of America!  And, ourselves dying daily of preventable diseases.

Slow down and live!  Don't die!

Human beings need to be, to relax more, to play more, to return to the Gospel values of less worldliness as Pope Francis pleaded earlier today in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican.

Slowing down, pausing, being with the family more. . .

Sounds like a plan for a culture out of control, no?

How about a pause today?

You're worth it.


Now breathe.

Take in the view, the awesomeness of each human being in your life, creation, others in the family, loved ones, friends.

We've got to slow down.

Otherwise, we'll miss life's beauty, and more.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Catholic Pope Francis, Bishop of Rome, from Argentina

Your Holiness:

Take courage!

You can do this daunting ministry as Pope Francis with the help of God.

Of course, you know that.

It seems that you rely on God, and trust people.

Your plea for a blessing from the assembly waiting to see you earlier today when you were elected showed volumes of faith grounding your being.

With your head bowed, and, a pause, the people of God prayed with you, for you. 

All of the Church, and more, stood together in solidarity, holy communion.

Then, after that favor was granted by the people waiting in the rain all day, you invited the assembly to pray the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be to the Father. . .

Together in simplicity all prayed.

Your simple clarity, smile and ordinary gestures were so engaging and inviting.

In fact, you stared long at the people as they did at you as I like to look at God, and God, I trust is looking long, lovingly at me.

Thank you, Holy Father.

Immediately, the North American media questioned and labeled you a conservative.  Because you are for openness to life in and outside the womb, makes you Catholic.

Back while I was in Saint Mary's College at Orchard Lake, MI., my uncle was angry about the Catholic position on birth control.  He admitted using contraceptives and went to the grave with that reality. 

He struggled with having more than three children.

Another relative is same-gender attracted and living with her partner.  Both know the Catholic position on gay persons engaging sexually.

It seems that these examples show people who ignore Church teaching. They do the best they can, I suppose. I don't know. They search.

The first example was back in the 60s. 

My other relatives said that by the time I would finish divinity school, I would be allowed to marry.

That's thirty-six years ago.

These examples say much. Doctrine doesn't change. And, people have to do what they conclude is far from the ideal.  I'm sure people aim high, however, and consider all options with deep prayer, information, counsel, Biblical teaching and tradition. 

They then act in love, I trust.

Many people struggle with Catholic teaching as you know, I'm sure.

Your presence on public transportation, washing the feet of AIDS patients, and being a simple pastor who once told your priests to baptize a single parent's baby, demonstrate pastoral care.

You ride the bus to work in Argentina, or, you ride your bicycle.  You live in a simple apartment.
What 'reign of God' breaking forth as the prophet Isaiah and Jesus note.

The Church with a heart and a human face.

You illumined it today.

The face of God shines.

You warmed parishioners, among others, today when your were met for the first time by most.

Many who were left in the cold were engaged again, it seems to me.

This is a piece of things, events, bridge-building activity you are about.

Your presence.

A gift to fix and repair.  To call us all to reform.

By example.  Using words only when necessary as Saint Francis suggested with his living limbs and heart.

You will be in my prayers for fruitful ministry.

Somehow, I sense "fresh air" from you.

Gratefully Yours in Christ,

(Father) Lawrence Ventline

People Are the Church

They are.

Down through the ages, the people in Rome locked the cardinals into the place where they voted for a new pope because it had taken a few years.

They had influence.

A lot of it.

Including them to solve issues in the Church is valuable help.

But, will they be invited more into the life of the Church as Vatican II proposed?

I don't know.

I hope so.

The people are the Church while the institutional leader's of it are part of it also.

More input from God's people will make a better Church, I think.

What's the fear?

Why not?

Let the people help us be a better Church.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Careers and International Bestselling, 7-Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton

Careers were chosen, vocations increased, and, paths of life were selected more easily after reading Trappist monk Thomas Merton's bestselling, 7-Storey Mountain.

In numerous languages in his best-selling book on his own story, struggles in his choice of life, career changes, and more, Merton notes:

"The logic of worldly success rests on a fallacy: the strange error that our perfection depends on the thoughts and opinions and applause of others!  A weird life it is, indeed, to be living always in somebody else's imagination, as if that were the only place in which one could at last become real!"

So real.  And, true.  Merton is such a master at living.  And, living wisely and well, it seems to me.

And, in another place in his same, 7-Storey Mountains, Merton writes:

"It is only the infinite mercy and love of God that has prevented us from tearing ourselves to pieces and destroying His entire creation long ago.  People seem to think that it is in some way a proof that no merciful God exists, if we have so many wars."

In a confession-like admission, Merton concludes while away from God, having grown up in a home where his parents showed little or no sign of faith:

"I did not even know who Christ was, that He was God.  I had not the faintest idea that there existed such a thing as the Blessed Sacrament."

Even after many years of education, teaching, and searching his own path, he said:

"And men and women are so poor in intellect that a few cold chills down their spine will be enough to keep them from every finding out the truth about anything."

Since 9/11, fear does that also to us, it appears to me.  Fear, however, shuts us down totally in a frozen state of being.  Scared stiff, you may say.

How true, my being kept nodding to Merton's words.

Finally, in his own attempts to bridge spiritualities of the East and the West, long before his unfortunate death in 1968 in Thailand, in the same classic best seller, Merton mentioned:

"The Hindus are not looking for us to send them those who will build schools and hospitals, although those things are good and useful in themselves--and perhaps very badly needed in India: they want to know if we have any saints to send them."

I'm sure that we could respond affirmatively, even in this day.  Saints are among us.
Perhaps you are one!

After all, equipping people with skills of love for saintliness and holiness of life by way of prayer, and more, is what believers do best, or, at least should do, no?

What a book is 7-Storey Mountain.

Why not read it.

Or, re-read it, and recommend it to someone.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Praying Daily Until the End of Time

Prayer evolves.

That's what Jo Ann Loria believes.

It does, if one continues to be faithful to prayer, she says.

Sadeer Farjo says he enjoys praying at the meditation chapel in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

Decades apart in age, each savors their own style of prayer.  An elder and a young practitioner of prayer. A female and a male.

Time God gives each one is lavishly and generously spent with the Maker.

I relish praying.

And, I know when I've neglected praying.

My life is lest that zestful and vibrant.  It is more ego then.

Pausing to penetrate the heart and mind of God, if you will, that's key for me.

And, that's the ticket: Having a favorite way to pray each day.

Prayer is essential to the Christian life. 

Like breathing.

Prayer is a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God, claims the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Prayer is the lifeblood of one's faith.  Faith fizzles without prayer, that connection in quiet and verbal dialog, or, simply listening long to God.

For Saint Therese of Lixieux, "prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven; it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy."

While Saint John Chrysostom claims:

"It is possible to offer fervent prayer even while walking in public or strolling alone, or seated in your shop, while buying or selling...or, even while cooking."

Active and passive prayer is defined above.

The Gospel of Mark, chapter 9:24, notes a prayer for help: 

"I believe; help my unbelief!"

Mass today in Algonac, Michiganat 11:30 am, will be my prayer with intentions for people who are ill or imprisoned, or, for those who have died, like my own Aunt Theresa Palinski, a year ago.

The Liturgy of the Hours for families are sung psalms that will be prayed at 4 pm in Saint James Church in Ferndael, MI.

Very early this morning, I walked and prayed in the dark as dawn broke open its light.

"You are my beloved in whom I'm well pleased," is a favorite saying of the Father to Jesus, his son.

Prayer from the heart is what I savor mostly.

And, like the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus with his fingers pointing toward his radiating heart, light spills and illumines from the lifeline of faith: prayer.

"Talk to God as I would to any intimate friend," advises Loria. 


That's what it takes.

Like anything, spending time cooking, laughing, loving, living and dying, along with everything in between, prayer does grow over time and one watches that happen each each.

Like a good bottle of wine that seasons over the years, the crushed grapes ripen and taste better in moderation.

For me, centering on that phrase, "You are my beloved. . .," works well for a couple times each day of about fifteen minutes per session.

That's another appointment time.

It's sacred space.

Do not disturb.  I'm praying.


So be it.

It is true.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost!

The sign of the cross.

I like to begin and end with this demonstration of time of prayer before and when I conclude.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Profiles in Courage

People surprise each other at times with courage they show.

That ability to confront uncertainty, even intimidation, or pain, danger or fear itself that freezes one into inaction, or, worse.

That's courage.

And, profiles in courage, are like that.

Full of assertiveness.

Moral courage is the ability to act rightly in the face of opposition, discouragement, or more.

In, God's Growth Group, a dozen participants explore virtues, the strengths and capacity that equip believers to live well.  Each Thursday, currently, at Saint Athanasius Church in Roseville, MI., Catholics meet at 9:30 am after Mass for an hour of study.  The documents of Vatican II, and, the Catechism of the Catholic Church are readily available for their research.

The virtue of fortitude, a cardinal (means, pivotal) virtue along with prudence, temperance and justice, means courage in some traditions, and, among some philosophers, such as Aquinas, Kierkegaard and Aristotle.

In the Second Century, Cicero, a Roman philospher and statesman, describes virtue:

"Virtue may be defined as a habit of mind in harmony with reason and the order of nature."

Aquinas says fortitude or courage is endurance, far from aggression or attack.

And, among Catholics and Anglicans, courage is listed as one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.

President John F. Kennedy challenged citizens to live lives of courage, in his Profiles in Courage.

Today is Women's International Day.

The day celebrates women of courage.

Virtues and Projects Such as Painting A Home Take Time

It has been over five years since I moved into a freshly-painted home.

Everything about the space I dwell in is a blessing, and more.  Loving where one lives adds to wellness.

It is.


A pastoral setting where I reside allows walks near the spillway on Jeffersons and Ballard in Harrison Township, MI.

And, the cozy end unit of the condominium takes up about 1,200 square feet of space to move about in daily.

Woof, my three-year-old white  Bichon Frise wants to live here for the duration.

He thinks he allows me to live with him.  Go figure.

Good company, he's always ready for a walk in the park nearby, and, then some.

A recently-add walkway along Jefferson reminds me of the yellow brick road with its pavers and wide walking space along the road where cars move fast.

Deciding to paint the condo was a well thought out goal.

Chunk it, I said.

One room at a time.

That's the way to get it done without any overwhelming feelings setting in this heart and soul.

Baked bread colored paint is lighter than I thought, yet, it brightens an already illumined home.

Ever so slowly, one stroke of the brush, and, one roll of the paint roller at a time.

No spills allowed.


Preparing the space for painting took the most time.

Everyone agrees.

Just like writing an outline for a paper.

Getting that completed enables a smooth and steady ride.

Like having virtues under one's belt, and, in one's heart and soul.

After the daily Mass Thursday, a dozen people explored with me these strengths of faith, hope and love, along with prudence, fortitude, temperance, and justice.

One's equipped with the capacity for the holy life with these virtues.

Just as with painting, they apply slowly, carefully, as one grows into them.  Just like painting
involves time and a steady hand to do the trim work.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Covenant and Agreement to Be Free - A Lenten Day

Connecting with the Creator and the community is a covenant, an agreement, or, a promise to pray.

I love it!

Spending time in quiet reflection affords me a more expansive heart.

A huger heart, in fact!  HUGE!

It's like hospitality.  No, it is HOSPITALITY!  Like a hospital in many ways where I let others, and God in particular, serve, assist and help me heal and recover, even mend and morph some.

That's what the 'reign of God' is all about, isn't it?

Letting God's kingdom of mercy, justice, peace, joy and charity pervade in a world that seems to want only might and power, war and conflict.

Like letting God find me when I pause to be still each day for a substantial chunk of time God has graced me with this fresh sunlit time.

Like the Hound of Heaven.  God is everywhere: Within, around, outside and inside others also.

The famous blue Baltimore Catechism asked that question:  Where is God?

I believe God is in all things, all of creation, and, that we creatures are right there with the Maker as One world, one globe, one connected circle, pancake, if you like.

When pausing to let God penetrate my being I appear so at peace, at tranquility, at one-ment with the Creator, and in turn, with others.

A bigger heart is what God seems to soak me and saturate me into with room for everyone.

Beyond a members only warning.  More than a club. 

After all, Church is more than an association or block club.

It is the living Body of Christ for believers.

And, hospitality is huge.

It is providing a space - even an expanded area - for God to be in order that I may be.

Be. And, be better beyond being bitter over some of life's happenings, desolate moments, and all the roller-coaster-like encounters that spirituality is all about.

A covenant.

Today's class in acceptance at Big Jack's Bar-B-Q Grille in Roseville, MI., will address hospitality as a covenant, an agreement between God and me to be a space for the Ground of All Being, namely, God.

I am so grateful!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Joy-filled Bridge Building: Sunday Sermon for March 10, 2013

Joshua 5:9-12         Psalm 34              2 Corinthians 5:17-21      Luke 15: 1-3, 11-32

Halfway through the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, a sense of relief emerges within me. I feel happier.

Glimmers of joy, you may say!

A little light cracks through the murky end of this enclosed and dark tube.

Almost there.

So with Lent. 

Today's rejoicing recalls the midway point through this penitential season.

A Latin word, "Laetare," means "rejoice." 

And, that, we will do this day as we "taste and see the goodness of the Lord," as the Psalm writer sings in Chapter 34.

Like that tunnel, or, the Ambassador Bridge to Canada, Paul the Apostle invites us to be bridgebuilders and reconcilers, like that unfolding in the fifteenth chapter of Luke's Gospel, often referred to as the pardoned Prodigal Son.

The Israelites complete their trek through the wilderness finally touching the land promised centuries ago to Abraham's descendents.  Their own rejoicing at Passover remembers the enduring and steadfast love of God amid their own unfaithfulness.

A lot of bridges are built here today, it seems from Sacred Scripture up into our own stories.

Bridges are like that.

Almost a mad kind of joy dashes out to meet the wayward son by his father.

What prodigal and generous love lavished upon this wayward son, like me.
Dad showers his nameless son with a huge hug, a ring - a mark of a lasting and forgiving relationship like that of our own covenant faithfulness with God.

Father and son link up.  Life is restored.  Atonement evolves. 

Life gets better in healing recovery.

Reconciling hearts bow humbly with open doors. Son and father.  Imagine the scene.

Or, think of stretches that tie arm and arm together once more.

Like the Mackinaw Bridge linking the lower and upper penisulas.

Bridge building.

The idea intrigues me.

Is it the clarion call heralded for clergy, for parents, even grandparents in the absence of dads, moms? Perhaps for prophets in our day?

Want to build one? 

Want to connect the parts, pieces and people to do so?

Building bridges is no easy task.

A plan first.  Without it, people perish, so do bridges, links to loves lost and lives limping and longing for forgiveness in families.

Look at the London Bridge.

There's the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Brooklyn Bridge.

There's the controversy over building another bridge next to the Ambassador Bridge.


Would you say there's some bridge building needed among principal players to build that one.

A lot of work to build a bridge.

Requires tireless trying,  repeatedly  forgiving (not forgetting, remembering one's history so as not to enable fractures, perhaps!) and endlessly engaging as the influential Jesus is to have said seventy times seven in the Good News.

A will to build a bridge and a relationship is required also, no?

There's the infamous Hoan Bridge in Milwuakee that got started but was left incompleted.
Hoan Bridge was to connect to the south side of the city of Milwaukee.

But, something went wrong as things will, and stuff happens, and hard feelings frustrate builders.

Your own and mine, included.

Like feeling some foster about the Eight Mile Road divide between 'burbs and the outer rings stretching beyond 37 Mile Road and Romeo, MI., for example.

Further away the safer some feel.

Expansive minds and hearts are part of the recipe and plan, or . . .
Too small a negotiating heart prevails, or, "We don''t negotiate, thank you very much!"

And, things fall down.  On or both, or, all walk away.

Indifference and the frozen heart kills additonal attempts to reconcile and heal hurting hearts.

Broken bridges.

Bridges falling down like in a lack of forgiveness of another for some wrongdoing toward you.

Remember?  Long, long ago. . .

The Kerner Report. named after the former Illinois Governor Otto Kerner,  predicted in 1968: 

"Two societies, one black, one white, separate and unequal."

Decided.  No more conversations. 

Some stay out of cities, they say.


Even in homes, among households and families that are fractured, even so fragile at building relations with siblings, sons, daughter, dads and moms, neighbors too!

Esteem is beat down with violent words, bullying, raised voices filling one or the other with fear.

Sadness.  So much.

Even here today.  Look around.  One poet sang that Sunday morning is the most segregated day of the week at churches.

Dangerous is that there building bridges, no?

And, bullying doesn't help, does it? Online, in chat rooms, and, in one's heart where all conflict and sin starts, no?

What we need are arms linked in arms.

Bridges to mend relations between husband and wife, rich and poor, and, the 46 million living in poverty that Catholic Charities USA says in unacceptable.

It is.

Wanted:  Brdige builders!  Plenty of work. 

Like Lent. 

Almost there. 

Finish building Lent, will you? 

Almost there into the Triduum, the three highest holy days of holy week beginning with Passion and Palm Sunday.  Feelings flood me.  Strong feelings stir within me as to what people did to Jesus.

They praised him with palm branches one Sunday, so the story says, and a few days later, he is hung on a tree of a cross between two thieves.  One of them, Dismas, wants Heaven, asks Jesus for it, gets it like Dr. Eban Alexander's Proof of Heaven book.  It depicts one unbelieving scientist and surgeon who is guided on a heavenly tour by a beautiful women while he is in a coma seven days.

Jesus was always building bridges with Gentiles, a woman with multiple relationships at the well.  Yet, she stood his ground.  Or, I should say, the Ground.  The truth of God's commandments to love.

Now, there's a bridge Jesus began building, in the Good Books, Joshua, with Saul who morphs into Paul, the preaching of the prophet Isaiah, and Luke these Lenten Sundays, on the "reign of God" and, God's kingdom so unlike our own today, that, well... look at what is still happening to the bridge builders, and, to Jesus, our Lord, life and light, our way, and truth today?

Or, is he, for you, for me, and many?

Restoring that relationship with dad, mom, and more.  Will you?  Digging deep may be required for your own, and my bridge building.

Glimmers of joy peak out in restoring, reconstructing relationships this day, this Laetare, "rejoicing" Sunday of Lent, the midway point of our new Springtime.

Commit.  Hang in there.  You can do this trek this Lent.  You can.

Let the building begin!

Sunday, March 3, 2013



I know when I am thirsty.

There's yearning for water.

Earlier today, I asked for water at St. Mary's Queen of Creation Church (formerly St. Clement) in Center Line, Michigan.

Immediately, the minister of music fetched me a bottle of cold water.

How grateful for the prop for my preaching today based on the Gospel from Luke.

Do you want a drink?

That's how I began my homily.

Laugher followed.

A drink of water, I mean, I shouted back to the fiesty congregation.

Where are the ushers when you need them, I joked.

One parishioner spoke up:  I know all of them!

You'll know them better, I wanted to respond; but, I didn't.

Silence speaks volumes often.

Thirsting for God means happiness.

Steady and enduring happiness, it seems to me.

It also means communion with God.

Oneness. At One Ment.  Atonement.

After all, God is good all the time; all the time, God is good.

God isn't in our good/bad dichotomy. That split we we make in life: win/lose, in/out.

And, if God is everywhere; God is good always.

Even though I may think God is bad if I don't have the winning lottery ticket, or, when I get sick.

I thirst for the mercy and kindness of the Maker.

I do.

There is joy in communion with the Creator.

Being one with God matches no other experience.


Thirsting to be one always.

Joy is savored in this thirst to be One.

Then, I follow his way, truth and life.

And, happiness flows like a river.

That I relish.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Fix System, Mend, Morph Beyond Monarch, Museum

To fix Detroit, it will take a lot of fixing.

It will.

Beyond the broken-down lights, streets, fire, and security systems, morale needs morphing.

But, so does City government need tweaking.

It does.

And, to do all this before my Motown's collapse and moral failure, who will lead? 

How will it get mended?

It seems citizens pay for a lot of talk and meetings as in other circles, or pyramids, called processes.

Governing worked in the past with well-placed systems of balances, enforcement, and consequences for behaviors that were (are) a detriment to keeping "city hall" moving.

Does it work today?

Defining who Detroit is, and, Church, also, for that matter, would help immensely.

Reminding people of who one is helps roll out the action involved.  Too many distractions pull people away from the lone mission.  Helping people know, love and serve God, and breaking open the reign of God saw an early Way, of community, work well.   Like the "reign of God" Jesus proclaimed.  That Bishop Thomas Gumbleton preached to a packed hall in Clinton Township, MI., last Monday.  Some, in fact, told him they "acclaimed" him to be the next pope.  At 84?

Can one hope with that evergreen virtue, or, strength, for Lent's "springtime" for this once vibrant and bustling City of Detroit that ranked right up there with Chicago, even New York?

Can citizens, and, the faithful also look for a Vatican Spring also that has stirred and turned a cycle of autocratic systems, even regimes, that today seem to solely put out "fires" or, segments and populations who seem to fuel foment or reasonable challenge to ossified postures, proxy and positions?

One wouldn't think so with all the jaw flapping from the lowest to the highest levels.

And, look at how former civic leaders, let alone ecclesiastical prelates who have led, steered supposedly, and have been declared ineffective, even corrupt in some cases.

Kicking the "can" of issues to the emergency manager in Detroit, or, even more unrealistically, the next pope at the Vatican, for that matter makes me wonder longer.

I believe in miracles.

Most of my life, a lot had to be made from a little like the loaves and the fishes, like the water added to the kettle of potato soup that my mother or father made for the nine of us, including some stray friends of my sister's and brother's who didn't know enough to go home when family was gathering to eat.

That leads my thoughts and takes me decades ago down the street with the bus on Van Dyke when my family lined up near Tappan and Lynch Road on Detroit's East Side to be carried to our home church of Saint Thomas the Apostle, miles away.

Twenty-five cents and a nickel for a transfer to ride the DSR, then.  Over a buck today months ago on M DOT when I rode the bus on Jefferson Avenue through St. Clair Shores, MI, south from where I reside in Harrison Township, MI., and the St. Clair Park that we dubbed as Metro Beach at 16/Jefferson, a jewel of a park like Detroit's Belle Isle minutes from downtown's business district.

Times have changed.

The bus needs to be replaced, or, at least supplemented by rapid transit.  And, the Big Three CEOs need to move over, morph, and finally let this hatch along Woodward, at minimum, for so many students, workers, seniors and others packing a bus whose time has come for a new Spring.

Much like Benedict XVI's legacy of moving over, he said, for younger leadership. Talk about tranparency and humility of recognizing his own physical limitations.  Bless him!

Another road for him, another place of prayer, study and writing, but living at the Vatican so close to the next Pontiff, not so sure that's a good idea free of his influence, NOT!

Or, more practically effective, like the "Nuns on the Bus" with Sister Campbell, among others, with the women pressing for mending, morphing and justice, these vowed religious, among others, like the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters, Mercy Sister, and, the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Third Order of Saint Francis, who taught me at Saint Thomas High School in Detroit, pioneer fresh ways that work for change today.

Orphanages, hospitals and schools, among other Christian-based services, stemmed from the heart and soul of these wise women who wait for a place at the table today too!

They do!

At St. Mark's Church on Harsen's Island off off M-29 and Twenty-three Mile Road, the other Sunday, after Mass, a mother with her husband and son, asked:  "Hey, Father, why aren't the nuns up there?"

"At the altar,?" I shot back.

"Yes,"  the curious Catholic challenged.

The recognition of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's limited capacity to carry the Petrine Office no longer, merits making of his transparency and candor to retire at 85 a sign of things to come at the conclave of the college of cardinals who meet soon to select a successor to the pastor and professor-like Benedict who led an awesome three-book seminar on Jesus at his weekly audiences, and a triptych on the Jesus of history and Lord of faith, among his virtues of humility, patience, and enduring long suffering steadfastness to lead despite the job's impossible tasks for any singular man or woman of faith.

Enlarging the bus for all, the table for all, the Curia in Motown and the Vatican for all, and, significant leadership roles for all in the spirit of Vatican II and beyond to this modern world is a way to recognize the bold step Benedict took to resign under the weight of the Office.

He has paved the way now in his candor for a larger bus for the entire family, beyond the twenty preceding ecumenical councils from the first one in 325 to the twentieth in 1869 that put out fires!

Vatican II   built a fire unlike any previous Council with the universal, global bishops present in 1962-65.
Vatican III will ignite and apply the principles and fruits of that historic council left untried, and so poorly packaged in that era of social change and protest in the 60s.  It will enlarge the bus for the entire family's participation.

It will.

My Detroit will learn from representatives at the Vatican this March beyond cardinals and curia officials controlling  a system waiting, a Church waiting to be born in a new Springtime for all.

The bus needs going down another road, however, with bigger seats and more space, conditioning of the Holy Spirit, and, a revised curial system that will keep Mother Church rolling into the next century, and beyond, with zest and vigor for all!

Starting with the principle of subsidiarity, however, at at Van Dyke and Lynch Road, or, at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament on Woodward in Detroit, where we sang and prayed an awesome holy hour for the pope Thursday, works. (Subsidiarity means making decisions at the lowest level of local church, for example, not sending all the abuse cases to Rome to settle, to illustrate my point).

Local leaders traditionally have led here at home when few Offices at the Vatican existed, and bishops largely communicated with the Chair of Peter.


Let the Church bus begin afresh, anew, attuned and attentive to the signs of these times!

And, roll!  (Perhaps rock also!) 

Rock and roll.

Some lively liturgies would enliven people to be more free at Mass to sing out, shout praise and be more in adoration of our living God, and each other, a living Church far from a museum, or, monarch-centered, controlled, managed focus.  Homilies could be hewed also. Living in the trenches would help.

Like doing more than talking about Detroit's crime, and, sky-high weeds enveloping homes of the elderly in that beleaguered City I love.

Pray and act.

And, live!  Don't die, or ossify!

Live the Easter life we recall again, resurrected forever in these feisty bones and being and Body of Christ.

Similar to how John Cardinal Dearden said he felt after the conclusion of the second Vatican Council in '65:  "I wanted to throw my mitre (pointed hat) into the air at the closing Mass, but we were too stayed for that!"

Why not throw off those mitres now and get in the bus with the faithful, brothers!

Mend and morph in the mind of Christ who called you. 

And, give birth to fire once more, discovering fire for the second time in God's love for all!

I bet Detroit will get in on the bus, then, and follow suit, lock step your lead,  fix the broken buses with a new rapid transit system, and, provide security and a quality of life in the example and lifestyle of this Century and beyond that you set with a curial system that works wonders.

Even sings together with the total church family beyond an orchestra at the Detroit Opera House, or, a sing-along at a local parish.

All may even hum a happy tune, for sure, I bet you, my God of life and love! Somewhat like the precise, wise and director-orchestrated video of the Pope Emeritus' flight into the skies Thursday.

There, the inexorable trajectory of the helicopter in front of the background of a majestic and exhausted city, a tired and aging church, and the hypnotic hum of the blades as the lone sound, accompanied by the bells of Rome that tolled the newly Vacant Seat -- for the first time, joyfully!

And, God knows we all need them, no?


Awaiting a new Spring for Lent (Old English word, "lencten," meaning, Springtime) and the Triduum (Highest 3 holy days of the Christian calendar with Easter Season of 50 days, beyond Lent's 40, starting March 31st) that debuts on Holy Thursday, March 28th, at the Mass of the Lord's Supper at the Cathedral Church of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit where all "stops" are pulled in full, active and conscious participation of the whole family present.  And, in the hearts of a Church, a People of God reborn in Motown, and more!

And, so much more Holy Ghost hope humming. . .with hymns of happy tunes of saints, sinners, the saintly secluded and excluded anew, like Good Book's Ecclesiastes' every season under the heavens to turn, turn, turn, repent, and morph, and fix a broken body of Christ, an ailing and fractured and fragmented bus with too few wheels with air, yearning for healing, health, and wellness.

We can fix this bruised, broken and tired bus.

Yes, we can, together, family of disciples of Jesus.

Make more room on the bus, or, supplant it with rapid transit, and 21st century ways.

I believe.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Leaving - Exodus and a Last Good-Bye

The inexorable trajectory of the helicopter in front of the background of a majestic and exhausted city, the hyptonic hum of the blades of the bird carrying the Pope Emeritus to the summer papal residence, accompanied by the bells of Rome, all tolled the fresh vacant seat of the papacy.

I noticed a tear from a pilgrim there.  Sadness spilled over from the raidant faces of the flock.
A Shepherd says farewell.

Grief grows.

And, in Detroit's Most Blessed Sacrament at about the same time of the pope's departure and exodus from his Office, hundreds prayed in silence, and, with vigor, sung:

"Great Shepherd of your people, hear,
Your presence now display;
As you have giv'n a place for pryaer, so give us hearts to pray.

Within these walls let holy peace and love and concord dwell;
Here give the troubled conscience ease, the wounded spirit heal."

A wounded healer takes exodus like those in the wilderness seeking the Promised Land from Egypt.

Now, more serene that viewed for a long time, Jospeh Ratzinger, Pope Emeritus, goes off into the air for his final phase of life.

Life is like that desolation and consolation.

It is.

At the other end of a pew where I sat, a woman dropped.

Alarm swept the assembly.

The presiding prelate repeated the request for medical assistance.

As the anemic parishioner laid on the bench of the pew, she was anointed.

EMS was called.

An irregular hearbeat was discovered also.

A litany of prayers were sung in Latin.

Sancta Maria/Holy Mary,
Tu illam adjuva/Grant her peace.

One huge heart ached in more ways than one.

Healing is prayed for this holy hour.

Holy Communion with the living Body of Christ.

Food for the soul, mind and body was proclaimed in Acts 20:17-18, 28-32, 36 and Psalm 16, followed by John 21:15-19, Jesus asking Peter three times to feed, love, serve: 


Do I?