Posts Tagged ‘Michigan’

Today we read the story of the Prodigal son, a parable which is only found in Luke.  I love this parable.  We discussed it this week in my Lenten Bible study, and of course, we discussed the points of view of the main characters and how each of us can – at some point in our lives – identify with all of them : the lost son, the dutiful son and the forgiving father.  Most around the table seem to be identifying with the dutiful son, at this point in their lives.  I thought that was interesting.  I almost always identify with the wayward son, myself but as of late, I had to admit that the parable character I most identify with is the Fatted Calf.  This garnered some chuckles around the table.  Unfortunately, I was only semi-joking…

I did observe that while I don’t frequently relate to the dutiful but resentful older son, if I were present for Jesus ministry, I might find myself in the role of the critical and doubting scribes and Pharisees.  I would probably see Jesus standing with sinners and become judgmental and discount his holiness.  I might gossip about him, or speculate on what shenanigans he is up to.  :-(   This got alot of agreement from our group.

Anyway, for reflection on the the gospel reading, I am sending you to two great sources for further enlightenment.  First, a video by Fr. John Riccardo of Our Lady of Good Counsel here in SE Michigan (which I have posted before).

Second,  biblical scholar Michael Barber‘s treatise on the Prodigal Son which he posted over on The Sacred Page yesterday.  (I wish he had posted it before Thursday, I would have looked very smart “coming up” with these brilliant ideas!)  (totally kidding, I would have given him credit.)

You Can Always Come Home

The Prodigal Son, New Life and Sacramental Imagery  by Michael Barber


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It’s yet another lovely day in southeast Michigan.  It must be some sort of record: we have had bright sunny skies for 8 days in a row, and today it reached the upper ’50s.  Cause for a nice long walk and chat with God.

I find that physical activity like hiking, walking, running, swimming and skiing are the best times for me to pray.  I am focused and I have a better ability to be still and listen.  Where do you like to be to pray?

Here is a delightful video of kids prayers with a surprisingly appropriate John Mayer soundtrack, Say What You Need to Say.

 God is good.

h/t  Msgr Pope

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Important reminder:

Please keep praying for Haiti. 

Since the situation on the ground does not allow us to jump on a plane to Haiti, roll up our sleeves and do our Christian work in a hands on fashion, to do charity work there means to find reputable charities and donate good hard cash.  United in Prayer that Cory Heimann at Likable Art is involved with is supporting Catholic Relief Services.   Watch his video here. And you can download a great cd of Catholic musicians for your donation at AfterMass, too!  Please support this great cause by clicking here now.  The album is fantastic!  I support Catholic musicians; you should too.

Another truly fantastic charity is Food for the Poor.  One of their priest missionaries came to our parish and in a moving and sometimes very funny ways, painted a grim picture of the need in Haiti even before the earthquake.  Food for the Poor is an ecumenical charity, though it appears that it is mostly Catholic and it has the astronomical efficiency rate of 97%–meaning that 97 cents of every donated dollar goes into food, shelter, education, etc. for the poor the charity serves.  Those Christian missionaries all have vows of poverty and unlike SOME charities, the head of the charity isn’t making 6 figures and flying from one big fundraising black tie event after another.  (No, I’m not looking at UNICEF, what gave you that impression?  there are …so many from which to choose, sadly.)

On a related note, the Detroit Free Press recently published that Michigan Catholics have donated over $1 mil dollars to Haiti.  Way to go, fellow Mitten Catholics!

Catholics in southeastern Michigan have raised more than $1 million so far for the victims of Haiti’s earthquake, officials said today.

The Archdiocese of Detroit has been collecting donations from local parishes in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, St. Clair, Lapeer and Monroe counties. As of Monday, the total passed $1 million, said Archdiocese spokesman Joe Kohn.

“After the earthquake happened, Archbishop (Allen) Vigneron expressed his confidence that the people of the Archdiocese would offer their support by way of prayers and financial support,” Kohn said today. “His confidence was well placed. Given the economic situation we’re in, it’s encouraging to see people step up and show this kind of generosity.”

The archdiocese has been collecting donations on behalf of Catholic Relief Services.

Haiti, which has a Catholic-majority population, suffered enormous losses in the Jan. 12 earthquake, in which Port-au-Prince Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot died.

Haiti’s government said today 230,000 people died.

To donate to Haiti through the Archdiocese, visit:


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A Haitian woman prays during an outdoor Mass next to the ruins of the Catholic cathedral, Jan. 17th (Reuters/CNS)

The news from Haiti continues to boggle the mind in its sheer awfulness.  I am posting an article originally published in The Michigan Catholic on January 22nd, part of a series of excellent articles about the ties people in Michigan have to Haiti and the many ways they are helping after the earthquake.  

Also read these articles about local people being involved in the aide effort: 


The article I repost below is especially poignant because on the day Dr. Monde-Matthews arrived in Haiti with the aid group Haiti Outreach Mission, she learned that her husband and fellow humanitarian Roger Matthews (left behind to recover from knee surgery) had died back at their home in Southfield.  Please put Dominique Monde-Matthews and her family in your prayers.  Please keep the people of Haiti in your prayers.  

‘It is horrible … Keep praying’
Many local residents, parishes have ties to Haiti


by Jared Field of The Michigan Catholic
Published January 22, 2010 

DETROIT – Dominique Monde-Matthews has waited, watched, prayed and feared for the nation of her birth. In the last 10 days, the life of the Detroit-area pediatrician and child of Haiti has been radically different. 

“I would say it’s been hell, but it’s not as bad as the people who have been living it,” said the member of Corpus Christi Parish in northwest Detroit of the Jan. 12 earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince, the capital of the island nation, and left 200,000 feared dead. “It has been torture; very hard, to say the least. And frustrating.” 

All of Monde-Matthews’ nearly two dozen relatives are accounted for including her aunt, Nicole St. Victor, who was pulled out of the collapsed Episcopal cathedral in Port-au-Prince with only minor injuries. 

Monde-Matthews and her husband, Roger Matthews, are president and chairman, respectively, of the Haiti Outreach Mission (HOM), an ecumenical lay mission group based in Troy. They founded the organization in 1998 after visiting Haiti on their honeymoon. 

Monde-Matthews fought back tears as she described the outpouring of support her organization, and many others like it, have received in the aftermath of the disaster.


“I’ve been very touched by it,” she said. “I know how difficult it is with the economy here, and for them to still want to reach out to other people is touching.” 

Matthews said that he has seen a “large increase” in donations to HOM. 

“The contributions have just been unbelievable,” said Roger, whose organization recently received a $5,000 donation from Motown legend Aretha Franklin. “It just shows that the word is getting out on who we are and what we’re doing after 12 years.” 

With many of the resources in place, the couple has been working the phones and setting up itineraries for a planned mission trip to Haiti. If Dominique can get flight clearance, she will lead a team of medical personnel to Haiti on Jan. 24. 

If the HOM volunteers cannot fly directly into Haiti, they may travel to neighboring Dominican Republic and travel three or four hours by bus into the fault zone. This option was presented to the group by Detroit Lions offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus, who was raised in Haiti and has a home near the hospital HOM plans to serve. Cherilus offered to pay for bus transportation from Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, and to lodge members of the group at his home, which was not damaged by the quake. Members of Cherilus’ family will also travel with the group. 

“That’s what we’ve been working on and every day it’s something new,” Dominique said. “Hopefully we can just get there, that’s all. “I don’t know what to expect. I just know it’s going to be difficult.” 

“Why Haiti?”


Adeline Auguste, a member of Corpus Christi Parish, cannot make sense of the catastrophe that has gripped the world. The 58-year-old Haitian-American said she can’t bear to watch the news.  

“I said to myself, ‘why Haiti? We don’t have anything as it is,'” said Auguste, who was raised in Port-au-Prince, near the epicenter of the quake, before coming to America as a youth. “I don’t know how they will rebuild. 

“They were already desperate, and now this?” 


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Of all the annual, year end lists, this might be my favorite.  Lake Superior State University (Go Lakers!) have released their list of words and phrases that should go away.

Tweets, sexting “unfriended” in U.S. banned word list

By Carey Gillam Carey Gillam 52 mins ago

KANSAS CITY (Reuters) – If you recently tweeted about how you were chillaxin for the holiday, take note: Fifteen particularly over- or mis-used words and phrases have been declared “shovel-ready” to be “unfriended” by a U.S. university’s annual list of terms that deserve to be banned.

After thousands of nominations of words and phrases commonly used in marketing, media, technology and elsewhere, wordsmiths at Lake Superior State University on Thursday issued their 35th annual list of words that they believe should be banned.

Tops on the Michigan university’s list of useless phrases was “shovel-ready.” The term refers to infrastructure projects that are ready to break ground and was popularly used to describe road, bridge and other construction projects fueled by stimulus funds from the Obama administration.

And speaking of stimulus, that word — which was applied to government spending aimed at boosting the economy — made the over-used category as well, along with an odd assortment of Obama-related constructions such as Obamacare and Obamanomics.

“We say Obamanough already,” the LSSU committee said.

Also ripe for exile is “sexting,” shorthand for sexy text messaging, a habit that has caused trouble this year for public figures from politicians to star athletes.

Similarly, list makers showed distaste for tweeting, retweeting and tweetaholics, lingo made popular by users of the popular Twitter networking website. And don’t even get them started on the use of friend as a verb, as in: “He made me mad so I unfriended him on Facebook,” an Internet social site.

Male acquaintances need to find another word than “bromance” for their friendships, and the combination of “chillin” and “relaxin'” into “chillaxin” was an easy pick for banishment.


Also making the list was “teachable moment.”

“This phrase is used to describe everything from potty-training to politics. It’s time to vote it out!” said one list contributor.

“Toxic assets,” referring to financial instruments that have plunged in value, sickened list makers so much the phrase was added to the list, along with the tiresome and poorly defined “too big to fail” which has often been invoked to describe wobbly U.S. banks.

Similarly, “in these economic times” was deemed overdue for banishment due.

Also making the list — “transparent/transparency,” typically used, contributors said, when the situation is anything but transparent.

One list contributor wanted to know if there was an “app,” short-hand for “application” popularized by the mobile iPhone’s growing array of software tools, for making that annoying word go away.

And rounding out the list — “czar” as in car czar, drug czar, housing czar or banished word czar.

“Purging our language of ‘toxic assets’ is a ‘stimulus’ effort that’s ‘too big to fail,'” said a university spokesman.

(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

via Yahoo!

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Looks to be a fantastic school this year too.  Pray that it will work out and I will get to attend.

Here’s the promo on the Acton Institute‘s webpage:

2010 Acton University – June 15-18, 2010

Acton University is a unique, four-day exploration of the intellectual foundations of a free society. Guided by a distinguished, international faculty, Acton University is an opportunity to deepen your knowledge and integrate rigorous philosophy, Christian theology and sound economics.

At Acton University, you will:

Build your own curriculum. Choose from more than fifty courses ranging from the theological and philosophical, to the policy-oriented and practical.

Learn from world-class faculty. Meet leading authorities on economics, theology, public policy, globalization, the environment, and other disciplines.

Network. Interact with people from diverse backgrounds who share a concern about issues at the heart of faith and freedom.

Equip yourself to engage in the debate. Better articulate your understanding of the Judeo-Christian view of liberty and morality and its application in a free and virtuous society.

<!– Download a printable pdf fact sheet for the conference here.
–>Contact Kara Eagle at (616)454-3080 or keagle@acton.org

Lecturers will include Rev. Raymond de Souza, Dr. Samuel Gregg, Dr. Daniel Mahoney and Rev. Paul Hartmann. 

Visit the Acton Institute website for more information.

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I want to pay tribute publicly to all those who in silence, in deeds not in words, strive to practice the Evangelical law of love which drives the world forward. There are so many of them even here in Rome. They do not make the headlines. They are men and women of all ages, who realise that it is not worth condemning, complaining or recriminating; that it is better to respond to evil doing good; to change things; or better, to change people, so to improve society.” — Pope Benedict at Rome’s Piazza di Spagna for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (quoted in Whisper in the Loggia)

The local free weekly Metro Times had this wonderful article from Detroitblogger John in its November 25th edition.  Although the reporter says that Dr. Walker is not religious, I wonder how that is being defined.  I think from the article it is clear that this man is at least living a life of Christian works, and he can teach all of us a few lessons.  He is truly “practicing the Evangelical law of love.”  May God bless him.

The two men sitting side by side couldn’t be more different.

One is a dignified former college professor who quit his university job so he could teach people how to read. The other is an animated ex-con fresh out of jail who visits the teacher every day just to be in his presence, as if some of his eloquence will rub off. 

“I needed something like him in my life for quite some time,” says Scott Hudgins, the 44-year-old unofficial student of Mike Walker, the man he’s made his mentor. His eyes fill with admiration when he looks at Walker, his body language is deferential.

“He gives me a lot of good insight.” Hudgins served 18 years for operating an auto chop shop while on parole for armed robbery. 

The two sit in a cramped little store owned by the former teacher, who’s known as “Doctor” around here by those who know of his academic past. The place is regally named the Snack and Gift Shop of the Michigan Academy of Reading Improvement. It’s in a little cove of a brick basement in the Detroit Boulevard Hotel at Second and Temple, which rents cheap rooms in the Cass Corridor’s south end. 

Walker, 67, is a tenant here. He gave up university life and moved to this area to teach the less fortunate, one at a time.

“I serve everyone,” he says. “Adults, kids in elementary school, everybody. I’ve had people as old as in their 90s who want to improve their reading.”

His gift shop provides for the hotel’s residents and those from the neighborhood who have no fixed address. He sells the essentials, the items that he has learned, over time, that they need — toilet paper, snack foods, candy, salt and pepper, soap.  

You can see his customers outside through the narrow basement window, sitting on the steps of the Masonic Temple across the street. They’re the ones who line up at the soup kitchen at dinner time. The ones buying and selling drugs and sex on the corners.  

“They really aren’t any different than other people,” Walker says, looking outside. “We think that we’re different when we get education or get money, but we’re not any different. You go out in the nice neighborhoods, they can camouflage what they’re doing, and have parties behind closed doors where they use dope and there’s prostitution and everything else. Here, they don’t have the sophistication or the money to camouflage what they’re doing, so it’s just in the open.”

Some of them, like Hudgins, have made themselves Walker’s informal students. Sometimes they come in just to hang out and talk awhile with the man they all look up to.

Please continue to read the rest of the article….Metro Times – Cass class.

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Interesting article from GetReligion on the efforts of a former NYT journalist who has come home to report on my neighbor.  (The “D” of the story being “Detroit”, the city where sirens never sleep.)

Life and Death in the D.
To help

To donate for the burial of the remains of Martha Ann Barnett, make out checks to Sacred Heart Cemetery, c/o Martha Ann Barnett. Mail them to Sacred Heart Cemetery, 17219 Mound Road, Detroit, MI 48212. Any money beyond the burial cost will be sent by the cemetery in the name of Martha Ann Barnett to the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, an organization which feeds the hungry of Detroit.

Note:  I expect to be feeling better and be able to resume regular blogging tomorrow.

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An absolutely beautiful story of love, sacrifice and the gift of life from The Michigan Catholic.  A must-read!

Such a little girl, such a big miracle

by Jared Field of The Michigan Catholic
Published October 30, 2009

Coping With Grief

Marysville – Glenn and Kim Miller, joined in chorus by a choir of family and friends, prayed without ceasing for their miracle in miniature.

“We prayed all the time,” said Glenn, who lost his 9-month-old baby daughter, Emma, to a rare chromosomal disorder in May. “We prayed for a healthy baby. And, thinking back, I think we actually got a miracle.

“God wanted Emma to come up to heaven with him, so that’s what he did; we prayed enough that he gave us nine and a half months with her.”

After just 26 weeks in the womb, Emma was officially diagnosed with Trisomy 18, a genetic disorder caused by the presence of all or part of an extra 18th chromosome.

The couple recalls the bleak prognosis placed upon their little miracle, and the firestorm of emotions that enveloped them.

“They were telling us she probably wouldn’t be born alive or, if she was, it would just be a few days, or weeks – certainly a short time,” said Glenn, 45.

Kim said that, at the time, she was told that only 10 percent of babies born with the disorder live to see their first birthday and that the majority don’t make it to term. Due to the dire prognosis, the Millers were presented with the option of giving up on their miracle and inducing labor to save the family from further grief.

“That was not an option,” Kim admitted. “We knew this was the baby God chose for us to have. We just left it in God’s hands; in His will … I wasn’t going to change it.”

Even still, Kim didn’t know what God had planned for the future of her family, now six strong.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

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For me, few places surpass the woods for prayer, reflection and contemplation.  There is something about the brisk air, the muffled steps on soft trails, and silent nature–no doubt holding its collective breath until I pass through.  I have been fortunate to be able to get out to hike every week for several months, but today, I tried to talk myself out of going.  I have been fighting a cold and despite the sunshine, I told myself that it was too cold to be trampsing about in the woods.  However, today’s crisp, bright day was an especially perfect day for praying, and I knew that I would be filled with God’s grace if I invited it.  So I heeded to the nudging of the Holy Spirit and got myself out there.  I am so glad that I did!  What a good prayer time I had, two hours of time with our Father, with His Son, with the Holy Spirit and with Mary and all the Saints and Angels.  And…what a glorious Fall day!   With the leaves showing their autumnal hues now, there were several times when I turned the corner on the trail only to stop short and exclaim outloud with “Wow!  Thank you God!”  (I’m clearly no Psalmist.)
Great are the works of the LORD, to be treasured for all their delights.  Majestic and glorious is your work, your wise design endures forever. — Psalms 111:2-3
The woods on a bright, crisp October afternoon

The woods I hiked on this bright, crisp October afternoon


Then let all the trees of the forest rejoice before the LORD who comes, who comes to govern the earth, To govern the world with justice and the peoples with faithfulness. — Psalm 96:12-13
Autumn Song by Katherine Mansfield
Now’s the time when children’s noses
All become as red as roses
And the colour of their faces
Makes me think of orchard places
Where the juicy apples grow,
And tomatoes in a row.

And to-day the hardened sinner
Never could be late for dinner,
But will jump up to the table
Just as soon as he is able,
Ask for three times hot roast mutton–
Oh! the shocking little glutton.

Come then, find your ball and racket,
Pop into your winter jacket,
With the lovely bear-skin lining.
While the sun is brightly shining,
Let us run and play together
And just love the autumn weather.

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