Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Getting Older, Forgetful

How amazing it is when a friend has short-term memory loss and little, if any, appetite.

From a vibrant woman who cared for her father much of his life, to leading single's groups, and, eventually the senior crowd, she broke her hip recently and that seems to be doing her in some.

I mean, she's gingerly walk about with her walker, seems more frightful now, and, is in need of sitting more often to rest her mending hip.

She even admits she has no appetite when I noticed she didn't touch the food in the refrigerator from Sunday.

That was on Monday evening when I visited her.

She ate a bit of pita bread with the garlic cream after some resistance, however.

Not much, however.

Time for 'meals on wheels.'

Time for more pastoral care and counseling to enable her to rid that depression.

What to expect when one gets older and trips and falls, I guess.

Not what I would like.

No way.

Yet, it is sad to watch one fail and fade, after such a spirited  and enthusiastic life.

You win some and lose some in life.

And, then. . .

Saturday, October 26, 2013

2 Popes Fascinating the World

John the XXIII.


Fruitful 'first' on many fronts.

Both leaders of the Catholic Church led with courage, collaboration, collegiality, and, all the messy stuff that comes with consensus building, and more.

Saint Mary's Retreat House (www.stmarysretreathouse.org to download registration form) in Oxford, MI., presents a weekend spiritual retreat November 22-24, 2013.  It will be about them.

It will be about why the world is fascinated with them, their personal and public lives, their prayer, preaching papal retreats, vision and holiness of life.

Men and women will explore their teachings on Jesus, and more, in light of the faith of participants.

Join me as I lead this retreat.

With enthusiasm I look forward to be with you and the wisdom of these popes.

A Holy Hour with A Holy Woman: Joan Shifflett of Sterling Heights, Michigan

A 15-year-member of the Catholic Care of the Soul and Companions Counseling since its inception of formal founding in 1998, Joan Shifflett, died Wednesday, according to her son, Mark.

Amazing grace describes her best for me.

With little drama, this survivor moved with life's ebbs and flows, despite the desolations and physical challenges, and more, that she endured.

I hear Joan saying:

"Do not fear, for I have not, and I am with you like Jesus.  Remember me in the fall or autumn, as you like and as you walk through the leaves of gold, and, in the snow, and cold and wintertime of life even, remember me in the stories told, will you?"

Scriptures emerge when I think of Joan:

"The Lord hears when I call."   - Ps. 4:3

"I have loved you with an everlasting love."  - Jeremiah 31:3

"I am the resurrection and the life."  - John 11


A Month's Mind Mass for intentions of her family will be celebrated Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, 3 pm in St. Bonaventure Monastery, 1740 Mt. Elliott, Detroit.

All are welcome.

Joan was blessed with an enlarged heart she grew as I knew her.  A simple woman of modest means, Joan Shifflett reminds me of Richard Rohr, OFM, who said:

"Why does the Bible and  Jesus tell us to care for the poor and the outsider?"

"Because we all need to stand in that position for our own conversion.  When we are smug and content, grace and mercy have no meaning, and, God has no meaning."

Mark Shifflett, Joan's son, would accompany his mother to Big Jack's Bar-B-Que Grille in Roseville, MI., for a Class in Acceptance, founded by the late Father Edward Popielarz, and, my boyhood pastor who filled our cracker-box gym at the parish with hundreds as he integrated spirituality, twelve steps, psychology, and more weekly.

Although I was a high school senior at the late Saint Thomas the Apostle Parish on Detroit's east side,
I savored his notes that he would hand to me as he went off to teach. 

Little did I know that he would leave me numerous binders of his carefully-prepared sheets to continue his class and to hand out to his enthusiastic participants who celebrated Mass at 7 pm in St. Jospeh Church in Pontiac, MI., also, long after my encounter of this wise man.

Today, the class in acceptance meets the third Wednesday of each month at 5:30 pm in Big Jack's with another devotee of his, David Johnstone leading it.

Joan was an enduring student of the class with Mark.  They looked forward to it.

Even after Joan's fifteen years of growth groups and Care of the Soul's interest in her.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Joy in the Morning

O happy day!

How one likes to sing that song.

At least, I do!

All is happy and well amid strife, and more.

Division and conflict cannot steal one's joy.

They can't.

Live is the answer.

Give, forgive and give again!

Sounds insane but it is the way of our God of life.

It is.

O happy day!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Cura Animarum


That's what Cura Animarum/Care of the Soul and Companions Counseling celebrates this week Wednesday at Mr. Paul's Steakhouse in Roseville, MI.

Celebrate with countless others October 23rd at 5:30 pm.

And, again, Sunday, November 24 with a 3 pm Mass of Thanksgiving in the St. Bonaventure Monastery where Father Solanus Casey's tomb resides at 1740 Mt. Elliott near downtown Detroit.

Before that, at 2 pm is a healing service for you also.

Join others and me to mark our anniversary of founding.

Fifteen years since its founding in 1988.

Igniting each one's dignity and worth by awakening it in self and others.

Reaching deep within.

Moving and morphing the wounds of self and the world through the grace of God.

Happy Anniversary!

To be fifteen again.


Sunday's Sermon

Sacred Scripture for Sunday, November 24, 2013 points toward a sermon about the King on the Cross.

Known to many as the Feast of Christ the King, Luke's 23rd chapter shows three antagonists challenging Jesus on the cross with the question:

"Are you not the Messiah of God, King of the Jews?  If so, save yourself and us" (Luke 23:39).

Leaders, soldiers and a criminal on the cross next to Jesus ask that query.

A King who winds up on the cross.

Without power.

And, at a place called the Skull.

An executed Messiah.

A myth is a story that tells a profound truth. 

This is the 21st century tale of redemptive violence as the ruling myth. First or twenty-first!

The One who saves himself and believers from death at the hands of evil people is the myth.

How does Jesus fit into this myth?

He can't.

The means of redemption from evil is killing, is violence, huge, if called for and necessary.

King on the cross.

Jesus in the lone one  who can save us from the myth of redemptive violence.

Jesus steers us from the willful illusion that we will be freed from evil by killing our enemies.

He takes us to the other end of violence: suffering and dying in the dark descent within where initiation in the baptism of Jesus drowns out the ego, the self.



Forgiveness of enemies are the soul of what we call the paschal mystery of new life.

The Messiah can't kill evil.

Yet, by dying to evil, to self, like us, he transforms evil through love.


Making peace through the blood of his cross (Colossians 1:20).

Reconciling to himself all things on earth or in heaven, that is.

That's it.

The Word of God.

This Holy Sacrament we become in Holy Communion.  Taking, eating, being what and who we receive in the Body of Christ, as the ancient  Augustine reminds.

Fresh Air


We know it when we smell it, taste it, see it, feel it, and of course find it these days.

Like Francis.

He's fresh air for many.

Similar to John XXII who opened the windows to wisdom, Pope Francis is enlarging the heart of the Church we love to reach inside first in prayer, and, then, to connect with the outer self and streets and neighbors near and far.

That's fresh.

Comments he makes off from  a scripted sheet has the former Argentinian cardinal warning bishops, among others, that obsessing about certain culture war issues may cause credibility and a moral collapse of the Church like a house of cards.


Go figure.

In a prayer at a retreat for the gift of counsel, Pope John the XXIII pleads:

Come, Holy Ghost,
Convince me of my sinfulness.
Convict me of my sinfulness.
Convert me from my sinfulness.
Console me in the process.

Sounds like a prayer Francis would utter, no?

He's convinced of the nature of humans, yet, seeks consolation in the process of admitting one's sinfulness.

Such embracing of all God's people is a sure cry from constant attachment disorders that Saints Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross of Spain warned about.

After all, the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds already tell us what we believe.

Particular culture war issues are projects people poke at much like reading Scripture at the lowest level of its meaning -- the literal level.

Bring on the fresh air and Vatican III that Francis seems to be aiming toward.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

When Another Church Closes

Infants and adults were baptized into Saint Athanasius Catholic Church in Roseville, MI., since its founding in 1958.

Formation in the faith at the Macomb County parish supplemented what the primary educators by parents needed to get their children on the path of what is right and moral.

Hearts were reconciled with God, family, among others in the sacraments of Penance.

People received who they are at Mass: The Body of Christ.

Couples were married.

And, more.

Singles enjoyed the clubs they organized for decades.

Retreats gave pause for people to put their lives into perspective once more.

Funerals found people grieving over the loss of family, friends, church members, among others who needed a Christian burial.

Now, the vibrant edifice will close soon and the shuttering of the church's doors at 18720 E. 13 Mile Road, Roseville, MI., 48066, will present pain and heart-ache for many, especially the elderly who invested much time and energy into building and bonding and being the People of God.

The office will be silenced when no more calls are made and e-mails at office@stasroseville.com stop the flow of communications, sentiments and stories of loss and grief.

Life is like that with its trials and tribulations; it's consolations and desolations.

Like a roller-coaster ride, humans hurt in the feelings felt deep within the believer's heart.

Parishioners will talk to each other about their mourning that will shine through their saddened faces right down to the core of their being where the Kingdom of God flows freely.

Public rosaries will cease and perpetual help devotions pleading the intercession of Mary, a favorite patroness, will no longer be recited.

Small communities of families will meet before and after Mass as the moment of the funeral of this fully active, conscious and participatory community of enthusiasm, and more, is set by archdiocesan officials.

Back in the 50s, an archbishop of Detroit was there to formally establish St. Athanasius Church.

He probably won't be there for the shuttering.

Eighteen people will unfold the future of St. A's sister parish, Sacred Heart Church at Gratiot and Utica Road that snakes its way up to St. Lawrence Church, one of the surviving Catholic parishes that are folding these day like flies swatted dead.

And, while it looks like parishioners determined their faith with this committee or that, a lack of priest personnel is central to countless closures in the Archdiocese of Detroit.

I remember.

While a pastor at St. Jospeh's in Lake Orion, MI., cable television was the means by which the People of God were told of their fate. 

Anxiously, I awaited and watched with glued eyes to the TV as Saint Christine, in Brightmoor's community at Fenkell and Lahser in northwest Detroit was situated.

Now, the once thriving edifice and school is filled by the neighboring Leland Baptist Church next door.  Only the Father Clement Kern Center that the parish bought while I was a pastor there, remains as a resource center.

Perhaps the Trappist monk, Thomas Merton, says it best:

I do not know where I am going, a paraphrase of his prayer notes.

Yet, one trusts that God enfolds him in his trail.

And, he, like the St. Athanasius parishioners surrender to what is the reality thrust upon them.

Their grief may be great.

However it is, grief needs to be processed in the loss of life, a love, a limb, and more at this once vibrant parish.

Over the months I watched its life ebb.

And, will witness more of the same in a wider church of Detroit, and, elsewhere, that seems to lack a vision with its dwindling numbers of attendees, and, fewer men choosing the life of a priest.

Culture wars seem to occupy its officials, coupled with lifting a tremendous debt incurred over a decade with those steering the ship, so to speak, amid the AOD's Cardinal building the fledgling Pope John Paul II Center in Washington, D.C., that the Knights of Columbus purchased.  More debt and spending. . . and. . . leadership lack awaits Pope Francis' renewed openness after a long dry spell.

In the meantime, pastoral care must be provided by those dubbed as Shepherds of the flock.

Rest in peace, dear St. Athanasius Parish family.

Rest in peace.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Compassionate Cities

Are people compassionate?

Are cities?


People are scrambling to become compassionate cities these cities from Washington, D.C. to Louisville and Detroit.

And, their shining a spotlight on compassionate actions of every private and public life.

Factors determining who qualifies is the amount of money a city gives to social causes, numbers of volunteers, nonprofit organizations, and data from various sources.

I'm impressed with Appleton, Wisconsin Compassionate Cities handing out paper for youn people to draw their impressions of compassion. 

They did.

I thought we were born with compassion, weren't we?

Do we lose it, forget it, fail to act on it after a while?

It seems like it's a lot easier just being compassionate to one another.  Organizing compassionate cities seems like a tough task managing compassion.

Go figure.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Where Is the Outrage? Where Are the Clergy?

Back in 1991, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, along with experts brought evidence before the US FDA that antidepressants were the cause of violence and suicide.

The heavily Pharma-funded FDA panel ignored the evidence provided, and it would take 14 years, and public pressure, for the FDA to finally issue its strongest warning, the black box, on antidepressants and other classes of psychiatric drugs documented by international regulatory agencies and studies to cause violence.

Over the decades as a pastor and psychotherapist, I have wondered often about the quiet of psychologists, among others, including interfaith leaders, regarding the need to stand up about the alarming numbers of psychotropic drugs issues to young children, among others.

Furthermore, at least 31 school shootings and/o school-related acts of violence were committed by those taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs.

A new video, The Drugging of Our Children - 0 to 5 Year Olds, concludes that more than 1 million children are being drugged in the United States alone. 
"The Marketing of Madness: Are We All Insane," a documentary from the makers of the award-winning, "Making a Killing: The Untold Story of Psychotropic Drugging," concludes that there is no money in "normal."

This psychotropic drugging is big business.

It is.

This high-income partnership exists between psychiatry and drug companies creating an $80 billion psychotropic drug profit center.

This sales campaign worries me no end.  So do so-called psychiatrists' diagnoses.

I'm hoping clergy, among others, will join in making others aware of what's happening in the world of psychotropics and the increasing serial crimes all around us.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Sad Commentary on Society

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick will spend close to three decades in jail.

How is it that we human beings think that we can get away with crime?

Terrible crimes at that.

We've been down this road before with other leaders who tried to get away with it.

To whom are we accountable?

Some may think that we are accountable to self alone.

Apparently at his verdict today, the former Mayor wondered out loud whether he would be able to forgive himself.

Days ago a Police Chief and I conversed about guns and parenting.  He felt that parents need "to give a damn" about their kids, and to take time with them.

How true.

Parents are foundational in the journey along the path of life.

If they're there, chances are that the children will grow well without promiscuity, drugs and more.

Quality time.

How do parents do that?

Juggling schedules and so much more is a daunting task.

Working to put bread on the table and to pay the bills is a challenge.

It is.

Kids needs to be told that going down this or that road is a dead end.

We have to be taught.

We do.

No doubt about it.

Can leaders help parents down this road?  To raise children well?  To show them the way?

We better.

Or, else.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Walk With Me

Hundreds of supporters of the work of the late Eleanor Josaitis and Father William Cunnigham of Focus:HOPE will walk Sunday, Oct. 13 at 1 pm.

The 4.5 mile walk recalls the 1968 founding of the iconic civil and human rights organization's struggle for justice, fairness and food for the needy.

For thirty-nine times now, walkers commit to the ideals of Focus:HOPE.

Before and after the walk, there are activities for the children, and, food, music and more.

Joining me is Rabbi Dorit Edut, Rev. David Kasbow, Professor Marvin Surowitz, among others.

Some walks merit standing up while others choose to sit.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Shut Down!

Our U.S. Government shutting down!

Go figure.

What's one to think of public servants.

In house fighting, and more.

Much more.

Fighting along party lines like the ole high school ball teams.

What a shame.

Put them all in a room and keep them there until they settle this conflict.

That's how some parents get their youngsters to settle conflict.

Can't come out until a resolution is set.

Take it from parents in the trenches trying to make a living while raising a family.

Shut down their pay also.

Why should they get paid when other don't?

Now that this avenue is set, it seems that it will be easier the next time, and the next.