Monday, February 29, 2016
The fish rots from the top. An attorney-turned-pastor used that analogy often while we conversed between mental and spiritual care counseling sessions at the parish he still serves in Sterling Heights, Michigan, after decades. I recall when a bride's mother was apparently upset that the good pastor wouldn't be available to witness her daughter's Saturday wedding. Drama ensured. Mother called the bishop who called the pastor, and, then told me to do the wedding. Go figure. A series of reactive moves, no? Concerns about home-grown residential Detroit Public School leaders emerging from Detroit, Michigan readily emerge these days following the Flint, Michigan toxic water debacle that the Governor's e-mail show that he wanted his staff to "work through this without a disaster declaration if possible." After all the emergency managers running things in Michigan, everywhere, it seems, clearly, one understands why! Mess after mess kicked down the road, so to speak, to the next so-called leader. Benchmarks and promises have proved futile so long on the backs of children who indeed will live what they learn watching and witnessing us older and seasoned leaders whether negative or positive! The City needs to take back leadership in this revered town that I respect, love and give time to almost daily at Chen and Lafayette near downtown's Jefferson Avenue, amid a high-crime area near the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Junior Apartments where the elderly citizens fear the gangs surrounding the complex. Local control was always the better way. My parents - the first locals - raised seven children in the 50s-60s when diapers were cloth and mom and dad both worked concurrently as they put food on the table, shoes on our feet, and, a roof over our heads. And, they did it all well in an imperfect world where three-square meals and more mattered most. It's also refreshing that the Vatican's top advisers acknowledged yesterday that the Catholic Church "has made enormous mistakes" in overlooking and allowing children to be raped and molested by clergy over centuries. Positive leadership is the kind Pope Francis shows across the globe wherever he goes. Even when someone seemed to be pulling him into the lines of revelers that wanted to greet him and shake his hand, he quickly asserted to one person: "Don't be selfish!" Global leadership is local at its best. Detroit: Take charge and lead again, now! Dad and mom, coupled with the local leaders in the neighborhood, at work, at school, at church, in the businesses, and more, lead! After all, the fish rots from the top. By now, the aroma is ready for fresh air!
Thursday, February 25, 2016
Father Louis Grandpre of Clinton Township, Michigan, for the longest time, died this week after a rich life of more than 8 decades as a pastor with a kind heart, and, a wide smile. I knew him better at Saints Peter and Paul Jesuit Church at Jefferson and Larned in downtown Detroit. Often we met there for the Sunday morning Mass. We led worship there, and, were part of the community also. In the notice of his demise, the Archdiocese of Detroit had to note some allegation. Go figure. The man is dead and such an inclusion is made to further the abandonment and neglect I know he felt from the accusations. No, police didn't make them. Officials who need to be pastoral leaders, who are best at prayer and teaching people to pray, play the role of detective and go after men like Grandpre. God help us all! Over the years, I have watched pastors die amid allegations. They seemed to pass on more readily after the charges became public as officials cover their behinds and get their advice from lawyers. Cardinal Jospeh Bernardin, a "breath of fresh air" of Chicago, was a friends of Detroit's Cardinal John Dearden. Bernardin's cancer seemed to speed up after the false allegations. It just seems that we could be better shepherds of one another, and, let the police do their work as so-called church leaders do what we should do best - be shepherds and pray! Eternal rest grant until Lou, O Lord!
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
We will have no rules, a couple of the participants firmly shouted as a member of the group expressed concerns that guys were leaving early from the support system that meets Tuesdays in Royal Oak. MI. Upon reflection, to say there will be no rules in the decades-old men's group of wise elders is to be a rule, or, if you will, a ruler by which the group guides its 'round robbin' turn where each participant talks briefly about his health, attendance at some cultural event or movie, and more, for example. Having to leave yesterday's meeting early for an appointment, I thought, perhaps, all the traffic lights need to go,also, and, the boundary lines that keep athletes playing their games fairly with rules to guide the revered and ancient courtesy, and, the "courtliness" of Francis of Assisi, Italy. Otherwise, a people without a plan will perish, I was reminded. And, a family, a people without the equipment and formed-capacity and skills to ensure the common good with respect, "I'm sorry," "Excuse me," and more, will be in disarray, for sure. How's that working for us, I wondered? And, for this nation and town, for that matter?
Monday, February 22, 2016
Anyway! Death gets my attention. You, also? The mystery of death surround us. It does. Drinking of the cup of dying and death demands staring death's dark, murky and mortal wound. Anyway! Drink deeply! Befriend death. Be a friend of death in a culture - that which we inhabit - that is "contra" - against life unlike my uncle Chester, a fruitful, faithful farmer who sowed seeds, nurtured them, fertilized them, and grew them with God into deeper, fuller, firmer life, indeed! Could Chet drink of the cup? Did he know what he was asking when, I imagine, he wanted to be at the left or the right of the Lord of Life? Do you know? Do I? His story - like our own - is full of mystery, even contradiction, and, contra - against - Life - your own and mine, maybe? So, we drink deeply of the cup? We can, no? Will you? Will I? We drink and inebriate on the cup of blessing? A good sip of the cup. The Body and Blood of Christ soaked in the Word of God - the living...always was always will Be Body of Christ. In the travail of life, the desolation/consolation, and roller-coaster-like ride of ups and downs of life's brief trek, like a blade of grass as the psalm writer notes, however, like the aroma of a rose we are called to be by Saint Paul, confront and face the predicaments and mysteries of living life well today: WE DON'T GET EVERYTHING WE WANT WE WIN SOME AND LOSE SOME WE MAY BE REJECTED BY A FIRST, OR, SECOND LOVE WE MAY GET SICK PASSED OVER FOR A PROMOTION AND, WE WILL DIE IN THESE MORTAL BODIES MARKED WITH THE CREMENS AND ASHES OF THE DEATH WE STARE IN THE FACE THIS DAY. We will. Don't die, then, LIVE! AND, don't die before your time, or, don't let anytime rob you of moments of living, breathing and being....in a contraceptive culture that wants to manage-care dying and death on someone else's terms - beyond the pro-life Maker God who made me, you, more! Be sure you have someone to sit at your bedside when your final moments fade and your candlelight flickers in the wind... Befriend death....and, life moreso...now, this day, here and now, all the way to heaven as Hildegard of Bingen said...heaven is heaven all the way to heaven UNLESS YOU HAVE EOTHER PLANS. Trust God, trust me, YOU CAN LIVE! Live! Don't die! Drink deeply of the cup and soak in it's pain and promise all way through the aches and heartaches by the number. Anyway!
Friday, February 12, 2016
Theories. Conspiracy theories and more. Who knows? The other day, I was told that Zionist Jews are agitating relations between Christians and Muslims to fuel the slaughter of 21 Coptic Christians one year ago, February 15th. Islamic State is blamed. ISIS goes after those who are considered infidels. My sisters and brothers in the faith are murdered these days in Syria, Iraq and Libya, among other terrorist hot spots brewing everywhere it seems, including Hamtramck, MI., one entrepreneur claimed the other day as I made 'rounds' in that 2.2-mile town nestled between Highland Park and Detroit, Michigan. Speaking up and taking action is necessary in a culture of quiet and even frenetic speed, impatience and hurrying everywhere, it seems. A diagnosis worthy of attention by so-called therapists. To call crime, murder and sin what it is seems to be our task. Who will stand up?
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Fat Tuesday. Mardi Gras. It is all day...today. People clean refrigerators of lard, other foods, getting ready for cleansing, fasting, intense praying, and giving and forgiving self and others by the grace of the Divine Physician. Lines streamed along Jos. Campau Avenue in Hamtramck, Michigan last night and today as the traditional fat cake, called Paczki, in Polish, is lusted after by many people. Tomorrow, however, is a different story. A day of complete fast and abstinence for those up to the age of 59. Fish is recommended for the 4 Fridays of this penitential season. My plan is to use words only when necessary. We'll see. I will try. And, I will trust God fully to see me through right up to Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper,when Lent officially ends, the night before Good Friday, culminating on Easter, the last Sunday of next months. Ashes will be smeared on the foreheads of the faithful Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent. The burnt remains of the Palm Tree branches remind the faithful of the life of mortality, that we will die one day.