Welcome to our Solanus Center blog. This is a space to simply share the experiences of grace and peace that are a part of the Solanus Casey Center. I have been moved by the sincere and profound faith that so many persons passing through the Center have shown. In visiting with pilgrims, in listening to confessions, in Celebrating Eucharist - the sacredness of this place, and the sacredness of the memory of our Venerable Fr. Solanus Casey have been eched into the meaning of my life, and have been a gift that leads me to love God in a deeper way. I hope many, through this blog, might be able to share in that sacredness of the movement of God through our lives - both after their visits to the Center, or their visits to this web site. I "thank God ahead of time" (as Venerable Solanus would say) for the many graces that this Blog will surely bring to many. Please share your thoughts by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
May Blog: Mary is our Model of Holiness
The sunlight streamed into the hospital room as I sat next to my dear mother as she took her last breath. To feel so helpless and full of sorrow as a loved one dies is one of life’s most bitter moments. Even if the death is a relief, it depletes us. Our reaction is often to escape the pain of the moment and just run away.
Perhaps that is why the statue of Mary holding Jesus’ lifeless body in St Bonaventure church surprised me. Tucked in the corner next to the altar to the Sacred Heart is a replica of the Pietà . Here Mary looks desolate as the emptiness of death and depth of sorrow seem to immobilize her. All she can muster is holding her son who has just been removed from the cross.
In this piece of artwork Mary models for us a key to health and holiness in the midst of death. Mary embraces the moment. She sits with the pain and emptiness. She doesn’t run from the pain like most of the apostles did. She sits with the Mystery even though she can’t do anything to right the wrong of the moment or ease her gut wrenching sorrow.
It is precisely in her embrace of that empty moment that she shows us the key to holiness. Our journey to holiness starts with embracing our emptiness. When we realize we are powerless, we can begin to open ourselves to the power of God.
Today Mary is regarded as one of our most powerful advocates. She assists us in finding God because God has filled her emptiness. She encourages us to embrace our sorrows, pain and emptiness when we experience life’s sorrows. Her example empowers our faith to trust in the Mystery of God and believe that God is already at work bringing new life into our lives.
by Sally McCuen; hospitality coordinator of Solanus Casey Center
Christ's Wounds: Portals to New Life
A striking mural depicting St Francis of Assisi receiving the wounds of Christ hangs in St. Bonaventure Chapel. St Francis looked upon the gift of the stigmata as Jesus’ answer to his desperate prayer. His life was filled with uncertainty and doubt concerning his choice to follow a life of austerity and literal embrace of the Gospel. As Jesus touched him with the marks of His cross, Francis was able to peacefully relinquish his doubts and trust that God was close.
During the Easter Season we read about another character, Thomas, the Twin, who also was besieged by doubt. When he touched the Risen Christ’s wounds he was brought to a deeper sense of faith and healed of his doubts.
In these encounters God’s power worked through the wounds and brought about a healing. The darkness was dispelled by the light of God’s powerful presence.
Likewise, as Christians we too can believe that our wounds and doubt can be the portals by which God’s new life can come to us. As we come to unite our wounds with Christ’s wounds we open ourselves to share in His divine power to bring new life. As we surrender our woundedness, our disappointments, our illnesses, our broken relationships to the Risen Christ, we begin to see new life. Doors open us to new possibilities. Illnesses give way to healing. Transformations occur in our relationships. It is the power of the Risen Christ always seeking to bring new life in us.
St Paul reminds us of this again and again in his letters. “If we have died with Christ, we shall also share in his new risen life.” That holds true for us in our lives today. Our wounds are the openings to God’s transformative new life, if we but only offer them.
San Damiano Cross: We all play a role.
On a wall in my prayer room I have a number of crosses hanging. Each is very unique in color, size and composition. One cross in particular, the San Domiano cross, invites the viewer to look closer at the people and actions imbedded in it.
The San Daminao cross is traditionally associated with St. Francis of Assisi because it is believed to have been the cross from which Jesus spoke to him asking him to rebuild his church. This cross is an icon created in the 12th Century. Along with the image of the crucified Christ, it highlights the various roles people held at the crucifixion.
There is a centurion soldier, and one of the people’s leaders. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Mary the Mother of Jesus and the apostle John are painted large. The cock that crowed twice is pictured.
Also theologically represented in the icon is the anticipated glorious resurrection. Pictured are the empty tomb, angels, and Jesus as judge with the apostles looking upward for His return.
Everyone depicted had a role to play. Each stood by helplessly but forever changed by Christ’s sacrifice. This unique cross captures the presence of these individuals at that timeless moment of salvation.
This unique cross reminds us that through Christ’s crucifixion, death and resurrection we all are His witnesses. It may be centuries later, but we each have a unique role to play in salvation history inasmuch as we are united to Christ through our baptism. We are connected to Christ’s death as much as the people depicted on the cross. We, however, are challenged to live out our roles in this day and time in the crosses of others as well as our own. Where there is a cross, there is Christ and His witnesses.
January 14 -
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr and an Insight.
When our high ideals for positive change fall short we often become pessimistic. Phrases like “why bother”, “nothing ever changes” start peppering our dialogues. Our vision clouds and because we don’t see dramatic change, we lose hope.
Real and lasting positive change often happens in very subtle ways and only after a good amount of time has passed does the change become apparent.
This insight came to me as I reflected on the Beatitude statue of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the impact he has had.
As a white upper middle class woman living in Michigan, racial injustice and segregation were rarely on my radar. Martin Luther King’s, “I have a dream speech” was a moving speech but hardly a rallying cry for dramatic change in my life. His words, “I have a dream that someday my little children will be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin” did not have an impact on me. That was, however, until the day my youngest daughter, Ruth started behaving sullenly.
Ruth was six years old when she met her best friend, Katie. Katie and Ruth sat across from each other in first grade and developed a friendship characteristic of sisters. It was a plus that Katie lived just a couple of houses down from us. The girls loved sleepovers, going to the movies, and spending countless hours hanging out.
When Ruth was in the second grade, her class was preparing for the National Holiday of Martin Luther King’s birthday. In the process the teachers were explaining to the children how life especially in the South was mired in segregation. Ruth grew noticeably sad. When I asked her the reason for her gloom, she mentioned the discussion in school. She whispered as if it was a bad secret, “Mom, we learned that when you were a kid, things were different. Katie and I couldn’t have gone to the movies together. We wouldn’t have been able to go to school together or use the same bathroom. Katie’s my best friend.”
Then it hit me. Those ideals of Martin Luther King Jr. were being realized in my daughter’s generation. It struck those in this new generation as absurd that people would be barred because of their skin color. Ruth and Katie’s simple and deep friendship were tangible signs that perspectives had changed.
True, there still exists prejudice, and the world is not perfect, but signs like these young kids indicate to me that progress is being made. And that is the thing with change, it happens in little ways in our everyday life and relationships. Our thoughts begin to change and soon our actions follow until we wonder how it could have been any other way.
by Sally McCuen
December 10 - Advent Thoughts
Preparing to Welcome Christ
The image of Fr. Solanus playing his violin before the altar on Christmas Eve is an endearing memory. From the heights of the choir loft in the glow of candle light melodies of gentle welcome and delight would dance through the Church. Long into the wee hours of Christmas morning Fr Solanus would be perched above creating sweet lullabies to welcome the Christ child.
How to welcome the Christ child is the work of Advent. You may recall as a child beginning Advent with an empty manger. For each good deed or sacrifice you performed, a piece of straw was added, so that on Christmas the baby Jesus would be gently placed into a manger filled with abundant soft straw. Your kindness provided the welcome mat for our Lord’s arrival.
Advent is about preparing to welcome Christ in our lives. Welcoming a guest involves cleaning. One of the spiritual steps of cleaning is reconciliation. In Reconciliation we go about cleaning out the actions and attitudes that prevent our awareness of the goodness of Christ. We clear out the clutter that acts as distractions in our life. We put our spirit life in order.
Additionally, part of the preparation for welcoming Christ involves putting oneself into the stream of Divine love. Christ’s birth is Love incarnate. For us to witness Christ’s coming into our world we need to be attuned to making Divine Love concrete in our world. Perhaps that may be why people are often their most loving and generous selves during the holidays. There is more thought to others and their needs.
And just as anyone who knew Fr Solanus realized that his violin playing was not going to earn him a seat in a symphony, it was his loving intention to honor the Baby Jesus that has a timeless quality. So, too, our acts of love may be imperfect, but it is that intention of love that will count before Christ. Being about love is the most powerful way we can prepare to welcome Christ this Christmas.
December 3 -
Tenth Anniversary of Solanus Casey Center
Dec 2nd marked the 10th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Solanus Casey Center. The celebration included a rededication blessing, a liturgy with Archbishop Allen Vigernon, and a reception. Everyone who attended felt blessed to be a part of the holy work of Fr. Solanus Casey.
Near noon on Sunday, Dec 2 the Archbishop with a group of priests gathered in front of the Christ Doors at the interior entrance to the Center with many people looking on. A reading from the Book of Revelations was proclaimed by Fr. Larry Webber, the director of the Solanus Casey Center. Fr. Jim Hast, the Associate Director, offered a piece from Fr. Solanus’ own writings with the theme of “thanking God ahead of time.” As the people and the priests processed back towards the church, a litany was chanted calling on the intercessions of the saints.
Archbishop Vigneron offered a heartwarming homily in which he weaved the central thrust of the First Week of Advent with the holy example of Fr. Solanus Casey. The Archbishop pulled out of the Gospel Jesus’ instructions to remain alert and ready for the changes that will come with Jesus’ second coming. He mentioned staying away from anxiety and used examples from Solanus’ writings and life to show how trusting in God was the better way to go in difficult and uncertain times.
Two additions to the liturgy created an aura of distinctiveness. First, the Knights of Columbus escorted the Archbishop in the procession and during the liturgy. With their royal grab and attentive posture the congregation sensed there was something extraordinary taking place. Secondly, the Solanus choir was spectacular. The power of their singing truly uplifted the assembly.
Following the liturgy, there was a bountiful array of food served at the reception. People gathered to share memories and laughs over light appetizers. Docents were on hand to explain features on self-guided tours for anyone hoping to see the Center.
The Archdiocese of Detroit’s television crew was on hand to tape the occasion as well as record some individual testimonials of favors granted through Fr. Solanus’ intercession. The taped video should be aired in a week or two on the local Catholic cable station. We will put up an announcement on our website and Facebook to notify folks.
Ten years is indeed a milestone. It is the first of many to come. The Solanus Casey Center is a beacon of hope and Christ’s presence in the lives of many people. We trust that God is guiding its mission of comforting and challenging the people who come to ask, seek and knock in the spirit of Fr. Solanus Casey.
by Sally McCuen
November 13 - We Believe in Everlasting Life
November is the month Catholics remember in a special way their connection to their loved ones who have died. They believe not only that their dear ones live on in a spiritual realm after death, but that they can connect with them through prayer.
For years I struggled with the concept of death being a “doorway” to an afterlife. Scientific theories propose life ends at death period. Hearing these theories would plunge my spiritual optimism into despair and doubts.
Now I feel very differently.
About 10 years ago my grandmother died. At her deathbed were a number of my family members. For some reason I felt compelled in her dying moments to ask her a favor. I dared to ask her to take a special intention with her into the afterlife and bring it to Christ. I sensed that she would soon be in Christ’s presence and would be in a unique position to make sure the intention would be answered.
What was the intention? That my dear sister who was in her mid-thirties and suffering from MS would find a husband. It was a fitting task for “Nana” because she and my grandfather had been married 70 years.
Six weeks following my grandmother’s death my sister met up with a man who fit the bill. He was a single guy who went to church every Sunday and was looking for the right woman. Not long after they started dating my sister remarked how many of his mannerisms and interests were just like our grandfather. They were married about 18 months after my grandmother died.
Since that experience I have had many remarkable indications that we do indeed exist beyond death. How it all works, we don’t exactly know. Even our Catholic church describes Eschatology, the specialized theology that deals with Heaven, Hell and Purgatory as enshrined in Mystery. This means that we don’t have access to all the details. Our Faith in Christ is the foundation of our belief in the afterlife. Even though we are not knowledgeable on the how the afterlife works, we can be confident that our faith in Christ will serve as our guide into the afterlife as well as being the bond that connects us with our loved ones who have gone before us into everlasting life.
- Sally McCuen
October 29, 2012
My wife and I made a pilgrimage to the Solanus Casey Center this past April. It was a transforming experience for me and I began a journey to God there. Yes, I had taken stumbling steps toward Him, and I had heard the whisper of the Holy Spirit before, but when I entered the St. Bonaventure Chapel, my knees went weak, and I KNEW I was on holy ground! I have progressed steadily since then, and there is no doubt that Father Casey is guiding me in the light of God's presence.
On that posting, she included a photo of Father Casey's casket taken through the back door to the chapel. This afternoon, for the first time I noticed that the glass doors are etched with a building or buildings. I am unable to identify it. Please let me know what and where it is so that we can add that to the blog.
(Answer: The etched doors at the tomb of Venerable Solanus are of the New Jerusalem from the book of Revelations (21: 10-14) – a sign of promised life and the second coming of Christ which we await.)
Thank you so much! By the way, we are both life members of the Guild. We have every intention of being either at the Center or in Rome on the day Solanus Casey is canonized.
Yours in Christ,
October 2, 2012 What does wearing a cross mean?
A woman came to me once complaining about the downright meanness of her coworkers towards her and each other. I suggested that she wear a cross necklace when she went to work. Wearing that Christian symbol would remind her as well as the others that Christ was near.
The Tau cross, associated with St Francis of Assisi and worn by Franciscans, witnesses Christ’s presence in the spirit of St. Francis. Wearing the Tao cross gives a visible image of an interior commitment and view of life. The person wearing the cross has chosen to make a conscious effort to live life with integrity and convey the Gospel Values.
Wearing a cross serves two purposes. First, it calls the people viewing the cross displayed on us to remember Christ in that moment. Our coworkers and family members see the cross and are reminded that they too are present to Christ’s power and invitation to the fullness of life.
Secondly, and equally important, the person wearing the cross is called to be more mindful of his/her actions. By choosing to put on the cross, the person is renewing his/her commitment to truly act in word and deed as an ambassador for Christ.
Days later when I met up with the woman, she recounted her experience of wearing the cross at work. With a sense of astonishment she said, “When my co-worker looked at me and caught sight of my cross, she backed away.” Would that we all tapped into the power of Christ’s cross!
August 29, 2012
Placing your Prayer Before God is a simple as Lighting a Candle.
Recently my summer travels took me to the peaceful Grotto at the University of Notre Dame. Entering that holy cave I was struck by the beauty of the ocean of flickering lights lifting prayers upward. A lovely scent of beeswax perfumed the air and a sense of peace washed over me. As the tiny flames on the candles flickered I became aware that I was surrounded by a Holy Presence.
For centuries Catholics have used lighting candles as a form of prayer. In Old Testament times a perpetually lighted candle rested before the Holy of Holies as a sign that God was present. Additionally, prayer in the Old Testament world involved burning sacrifice as a symbol of offering oneself to God as well as the petition. In the Middle Ages Christ was symbolized in the candle. The beeswax represented Christ’s purity while the wick represented the soul of Christ. The flame served to symbolize Christ’s divinity. The candle being consumed symbolized the offering of sacrifice.
One of ways we understand the ritual of candle lighting as prayer is that the burning candle lifts our prayers heavenward even after we have left and gone about our day. The candle holds our prayers before God.
The ritual of lighting a prayer candle concretizes the prayer intention. Purchasing the candle is an act of sacrifice. It shows how determined and willing we are to hold this prayer before God. It also reflects the Old Testament understanding of prayer being centered on a burnt sacrificial offering. Choosing the spot to place the candle and lighting the candle along with an intention help to make this prayer more than wishful thinking or a mere passing thought.
Lighting a candle, also, helps us to focus on God’s loving ability to hear our prayer. In lighting the candle we ask God to take our prayer seriously while we put the ball in God’s court and wait on an answer.
Here at the Solanus Casey Center our Vigil Candle Chapel offers the pilgrim the opportunity to light a candle which will stay lit for five days. This holy ritual invites the pilgrim to leave their personal prayer safe in the presence of God even after they have left. The mystery of the candle’s glow entwines with our soul’s deepest desire and humbly asks God’s favor. This is the beauty of the vigil candle prayer. by Sally McCuen
June 22 - Sister Water - a place of healing
Etched on the mosaic pillar representing Sister Water are passages from the Quran written in Arabic. Its presence in the Creation Garden elicits myriad responses from pilgrims.
Some are curious about what message is conveyed in the Arabic writings. (FYI: the writing contains various verses from the Quran about God’s gift of water to the earth.) Some are fascinated with the artistic craftsmanship. And some are enraged by its very placement on Capuchin property.
When we enter into dialogue with those who express anger about the pillar’s placement, we find that there lies beneath the anger a great deal of hurt. Many of these individuals have roots and life experiences in the Middle East. They have had loved ones die and property taken away. Some have experienced firsthand the type of persecution Jesus speaks of in the Beatitude “Blessed are you when they utter every slander against you and persecute you because of me”.
Recently as I have listened to the pilgrims so moved by this symbol I began to sense that perhaps God allowed this sculpture to be placed in the midst of the Creation Garden as an agent for healing. Many people describe the Creation Garden as an oasis or a safe pasture.
Perhaps here in this safe and peace filled place, God’s healing and loving presence can envelope the hurt. Here in the Garden the single piece of artwork is surrounded by the massive Center rich in symbols of God’s constant invitation to touch us at our core and bring us to wholeness. The pillar serves as focal point to surface the deeper hurt. The Solanus Center is a safe place to express one’s anger and hurt and ultimately be transformed by God into an agent of forgiveness. The image of a Divine hug comes to mind. Our God is hugging the hurt and transforming it.
A spiritual director once told me that God uses everything. So many faith filled Chaldeans visit the Center. It would not surprise me that God has called them to the Center to offer them a place of inner healing. God is always at work in our lives inviting us to open ourselves to His transformative love and be healed. We need only say “yes”. (by Sally McCuen)
June 4 - SEEDS OF GOODNESS
“Just do it” is the slogan for the name brand Nike. The idea is don’t just think about “exercising”, get out and do it. In many ways that is good slogan not only for exercising but for doing “good works”. Sometimes thinking about something is the first part of “talking yourself out of” exercising or getting involved in something good.
I often look at the “Ghosted Church” structure erected stately in the middle of the Solanus Casey Center. You can’t miss it with its intriguing shape of two by fours nailed to form the rough outline of a tiny chapel. By checking out the photo of the little white chapel in the glass showcase beneath the structure, you can glimpse back in time at what the original chapel looked like when it stood across Mt Elliott in what today is the cemetery. Back in 1883, however, it was a perfect spot to start a new beginning for the Capuchin ministry.
A number of our docents comment as they give a group a tour through the Center, that that “Ghosted church” structure was the seed from which all the many capuchin ministries in the Detroit area sprout. They continue to name the dozen or so ministries that service the metro-Detroit area. Needless-to-say, people are taken back by ALL the good works the capuchins are about.
It all started with a “seed” of desire to spread the mission. Fr. Lucius and a few other brothers took two by fours, a few nails and began making something happen. They just did it!
At this time of year we are planting lots of seeds with the hope that with proper nourishment something great will come to life. This is true in our lives as well. There are seeds that appear in chance meetings or moments in which something capture our attention and our hearts. Later we realize that those were seeds planted by God that with proper nourishment brought forth remarkable good. Often times we cannot see the tiniest roots that spring forth from the seed as it is buried, out of sight. So true in our lives we have to hope that the seeds God plants in our lives as well as the ones we plant in others’ lives are growing. In order for anything to happen, however, we need to take the first step….and just do it. (by Sally McCuen)
May 7, 2012 - Sacramentals: A very Catholic Thing!!
Recently a large group of 4th graders and their chaperones descended upon the Solanus Casey Center. Most definitely one of their favorite sites to visit while at the Center was the gift shop. They respectfully waited in long lines, all the time anticipating their chance to enter the gift shop and make a purchase. Overwhelmingly, the children purchased rosaries, scapulars, and medals. With their treasures in hand they proceeded to the dining room where Fr. Jim was waiting to bless their religious articles.
Religious articles or sacramentals are important to Catholics. We use them to help us pray or remind us that God is nearby. We hang rosaries on our rearview windows to keep ourselves protected through Mary’s intercession when we are driving. We carry relic badges with us into scary situations, like surgery, to comfort ourselves, believing that God is truly close and blessing us with a favorable outcome.
As Fr. Jim blessed the sacramentals his prayer captured the primary essence of why we love these religious items so much; they point us beyond ourselves to God. We know that it helps to have directional signs when we drive so that we can arrive safely at our destination. Likewise, we need to have direction in our relationship with God. Sacramentals are objects instituted by the Church to give assistance in living a virtuous life. Similar to sacraments which were instituted by Christ to give grace, these tokens direct our focus throughout our daily life and help to deepen our awareness of God in our midst.
Sacramentals also witness to our Catholic faith. Whenever a Catholic rosary is hanging in a car’s front rearview mirror, we instantly know that that car is driven by a Catholic. Likewise, whenever a Fr. Solanus relic badge pops out of wallet in a grocery store line, one knows that we have something great in common. Catholic identity and witness are secondary benefits of these wonderful sacramental.
Fr Jim closed his blessing by asking that the sacramentals be used for bringing about good in the lives of those who sought their aid. Religious objects used to bring us closer to God are a treasure. They keep us in tune with the knowledge that beyond our material world is a spiritual realm and when we carry our religious items we act as God’s ambassadors. -Sally McCuen
Easter - Holy Water reinvigorates our spirit to live our Baptismal Promises -April 9, 2012
Here is my confession – I envy my fellow Catholics that were baptized as adults. Of course, I am grateful to my parents for ensuring that my relationship with God began promptly when I was three weeks old, but sadly I do not have any memories of that life changing event. As a coordinator for my parish’s RCIA program, I have journeyed with a number of adults over the years as they died to their lives of “flesh” and rose to new life in Christ in the waters of baptism. They were aware of the tremendous transformation taking place.
Recently I have become more aware of our parish’s baptismal font located in the entrance to our church. For the longest time as I have entered the church I have dipped my hand into the font to bless myself with holy water. Lately however I have begun to link that blessing of holy water to my baptism. I know that we are only baptized once, so this blessing with holy water (blessed at the Easter Vigil for the baptism of those entering new life in Christ) has become a moment when I renew my baptismal commitment.
Signing myself with the cross of Christ intentionally redirects the focus of my heart and mind. It reminds me that as a baptized follower of Christ all that I do is connected to this life giving relationship I share with Jesus. This signing of the cross “reinvigorates” my sometimes sluggish spirit to a renewed purpose for my actions. It’s all about living in the new life of Christ which is ultimately about infusing love into all aspects of our life.
Passing by a holy water font and blessing one’s self is a rich habit. Using that moment as an opportunity to renew one’s commitment to authentically live out one’s relationship with Christ is priceless. Often times the pilgrims who are about to conclude a pilgrimage to the Solanus Casey Center will pass by the baptismal fountain in the church. This may be a perfect time to encourage the pilgrims to take a moment as they end their visit, to bless themselves and as they do renew their baptismal commitment. The ultimate goal of visiting the Solanus Casey Center is to grow deeper in one’s relationship with Christ. Renewing one’s baptismal intentions is definitely a step in that direction especially during the Easter Season. -Sally McCuen
Moving to Holy Week - March 30, 2012
Holy Week reminds me of we tell important stories, we don't want to leave any detail out. I have a friend who is quite thorough in relaying an event from her life. She will explain in elaborate detail all the background information so that I can fully appreciate all the meaning of the event.
Holy Week is, partly, the Church's way of telling its most important story, the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Each day of Holy Week gives us pause to reflect on the parts of the story that lead up to the main event. As we reflect on the details, we are see glimpses of this tremendous and cosmic changing event. The Holy Spirit gifts us with insights that nudge us to plunge deeper into the mystery. We become engaged in the story and the memory of the death and resurrection of Christ.
By letting the story penetrate our hearts and minds, we are changed. We can perceive on a deeper level how this great event changes us. Watching Judas make arrangements with the Chief Priest to turn Jesus over jolts us. We want to reach back in time and make him stop. We may soon realize that stopping Judas is impossible, but there may be people in our lives who need to be "stopped" from the actions they are doing. Do we intervene? Our Holy Week ponderings may give us insight.
Seize the opportunity of Holy Week. Let yourself be immersed in the story and discover what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell you.
March 3, 2012 - Almsgiving
Traditional Lenten practice weaves the three pillars of prayer, fasting and almsgiving into a healthy approach to making more room for God in one’s life. Fasting empties the spirit of illusions and creates a desert experience. Prayer fills the empty space with God’s presence and spirit. Almsgiving protects a person from allowing Lent to become a closed relationship between God and the person. Almsgiving turns the love from God in prayer outward towards others.
Almsgiving is an ancient practice especially in the world religions. Religions that look to Abraham as their “father in faith” such as Christianity, the monies or items donated are given to the poor. In Buddhism, however, the almsgiving proceeds are directed to support the monks.
In all cases almsgiving helps to redistribute wealth and create a built in focus on others while helping with their basic needs. Almsgiving reminds us that we are responsible for the welfare of one another.
We often live under the illusion in the United States that we are only responsible for ourselves. We glorify the independent spirit. Almsgiving reminds us that we are all brothers and sisters in God’s family.
Most assuredly those who read this reflection are practicing almsgiving. It is also important to spend some time reflecting on the significance of the practice. Our giving opens up the channels of God’s care for others by using us as His instruments. We are united to our brothers and sisters in a most basic and meaningful way.
In reality everything we have is a gift from the Creator. When we realize that we don’t actually own anything, we become more aware of the need to share with others. As the Disney High School Musical song bellows, “We’re all in this together!”
January 27, 2012
When students are touring the Solanus Center and reach the Beatitude statues, the docent often asks if any of these impressive figures are recognizable. Overwhelmingly the statue of Mother Teresa of Calcutta is identified and bits of information about her life tumble out. Her small stature packs a dynamic woman of faith and holiness.
Most noted for her work among the poorest of the poor on the streets of Calcutta, India, Mother Teresa was a woman of intense prayer and action. It was said that each day in the sisters’ little chapel, Mother Teresa would be interiorly nourished in spiritual conversations with our Lord for . She would fill her days with caring for homeless people dying in the streets by bathing them, clothing them and giving them a place to die with dignity.
Remarkably, her response to people who asked her how she could stomach such abhorrent conditions and encounters, Mother Teresa would say, “I see the face of Jesus on each of the people I reach out to help.” All of her compassionate work was founded on her relationship with Jesus. It was her love of Jesus whom she encountered in the poor that sustained her energy and power. It was her prayer life that nourished her spirit to recognize the face of Jesus in the midst of such deplorable human conditions.
Truly the scripture passage in Matthew’s Gospel (Mt 25:31-46) in which Jesus judges His followers on their record for living out the Corporal Works of Mercy comes alive in the life of Mother Teresa. “Whenever you did it to the least of my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.” Mother Teresa’s approach to living out her faith was compassionate hands-on service in real human encounters.
As Jesus’ dedicated followers we are challenged to follow the example of Mother Teresa and be both deeply prayerful and moved to service of others. Some spiritual writers coined the term Contemplatives in Action to describe this approach to living out one’s faith. In any case, the life and writings of Mother Teresa are a treasure house of helpful spiritual insights and examples for living an authentic and rich spiritual life. (You may find them an excellent Lenten read.)
January 6, 2012
Churches built recently seem to be missing the one architectural feature that conveys a building is set aside for a religious purpose; they are missing a steeple. Often times in my role as the Hospitality Coordinator at the Solanus Casey Center I will be giving people directions to the Center. One of the landmark features that acts like a beacon is the white steeple on St. Bonaventure Church. From blocks away on Mt Elliott one recognizes the nearness of their destination by catching a glimpse of the steeple.
Steeples architecturally symbolize the transcendent nature of God. They are bold and large. They almost appear to be lightning rods that will somehow flag God down or transport our prayers to heavens. This points to a world view in which God is “so far beyond us” that we must stretch to try and reach Him. Perhaps the reason modern churches don’t feature a steeple is that the prevailing world view portrays God’s intimacy, “God is in our midst”.
The steeple, however, serves not only as a feature of church structures, but it additionally signals to the city around it, the presence of Christ. Here at St. Bonaventure it was with great thought the Tabernacle containing the Eucharist was placed at the base of the steeple. When a person catches a glimpse of the steeple, s/he is catching a glimpse of Christ’s presence. In many ways the steeple invites all to draw nearer and become immersed in the Mystery of God who makes Himself available in our space and time in the Eucharist. The transcendent nature of God combines with the more intimate nature and beckons us to enter more fully into the Divine.
Sometimes we are invited to be steeples to the world around us. We are called upon to witness to this mysterious presence of God as it pops up in our life. Like a landmark directing people to a building, when we become” steeples” we direct people to finding God’s goodness and love in their lives.
November 21, 2011- Sanctuary Light
Years back when I was a teenager our family was blessed with the means to travel to many wonderful places. Since my mother loved churches, and my father loved trains, each city we toured included a picture of their rail transportation and a visit to the Catholic church or cathedral. Sometimes the church building was more of a museum than an active church. In those situations I found the Sanctuary Light near the tabernacle a good guide to know if Jesus was “in the house” or not. If the candle was lit, I knew the place was much more than a building.
The Sanctuary Light alerts us that the presence of Christ is in the tabernacle. It helps to orient our minds and hearts to the sacred presence of Jesus which is so close.
When Solanus worked as a sacristan, he tended to the Sanctuary Light making sure the light did not go out. He was vigilant in replacing the candles before their wicks burnt out. He felt responsible for signaling to those entering the church that the presence of Jesus’ Sacred Body, the Eucharist, was present in the tabernacle welcoming each person with Divine Love.
Advent is a time of candle lighting. The ancient ritual of the Advent wreath with its candles signifies the time of preparation for God’s Divine Light to burst forth in our world. At our baptism and confirmation we received the Light of Christ. In scripture we are reminded “let your light shine before all so that they can glorify your Heavenly Father.” At this time of year we are invited to be vigilant like Solanus in tending to our inner Sanctuary Lights, the light that shines through us and points to Christ’s presence. (by Sally McCuen)
October 24, 2011 - Pray for the Living and the Dead!
On Sunday evenings I find myself engrossed in the new TLC series, Long Island Medium. Watching the main character connect people with their loved ones who have ”passed“ intrigues me. I sense the comfort they feel as they realize their loved one is still close by and can communicate with them. There is something in our human nature that longs for a connection with our loved ones that stretches beyond death.
One particularly comforting feature of the Christian Catholic faith is our communion with the saints. The month of November is a special time during the Church year when we emphasize the belief that the living and the dead are forever bound in the love and power of Christ. It is through Christ, the Ultimate Medium, that we can remain united and communicate with our loved ones who have “passed over.”
Recently a friend of mine shared a “mystical” vision she had in church in which she saw a long line of holy men and women who had died just waiting for us to call on them to assist us in our difficulties and bring us closer to Christ. What she shared heartened me greatly. I have begun to call out to my deceased relatives to intercede for me with the various challenges I encounter. I must add that the response has been most favorable. I understand that their ability to assist me rests solely in the dynamic and loving power of Christ.
The Church encourages us to pray for those who have died as well as those who live. This great community of the living and the dead are all held in heart of Christ. We share in a powerful unity that transcends death because of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection.
As fall leaves tumble to the ground, we are reminded that nothing lasts forever. Our church uses this time of year to help us gaze beyond the limitations of this world and be aware that life in Christ is eternal. Our prayers are the way we communicate with Christ and with our loved ones. Because of our faith, we believe they still love us and help us. All we need to do is ask.
(by Sally McCuen)
October 12, 2011. Sister Water!
As you begin reading this, pour yourself a glass of water. (Go on, do it.)
Okay, now observe this water in your glass. What strikes you about it? Let your mind bounce around ideas.
Sr. Water is a tremendous gift from God. Our very existence is dependent upon her. Scientists claim that at times in our life we are composed of between 57 to 75 percent water. No wonder we hear from health professionals the imperative to hydrate ourselves.
For you and I having access to clean water goes without much thought. We live in the Great Lakes State of Michigan. Fresh water is abundant! Occasionally we hear about water rates going up and we grumble a bit, but there is no fear that the well will run dry. That is not true, however, for so many of our brothers and sisters around the world where fresh clean water is not as accessible. We often hear about people in more rural areas walking long distances to gather water in jars and transport them. We also hear of many people living in Africa who are fearful of drinking water because it is contaminated with bacteria that cause blindness. And yet without water, we die. Water is fundamental to the existence of life.
As I helped my sixth grader work on a science assignment the other night, I was again reminded of how generous God is in sustaining life with fresh clean water. The assignment illustrated the Water Cycle and how through evaporation, condensation and precipitation, we are gifted with water. The water falling from the sky has been made new.
Even though rainy days are rather gloomy, the bonus is that the water falling from the sky, renewing the earth, is absolutely FREE. God doesn’t charge us for Sr. Water. God gives her to us in order for us to live.
For Christians, our added blessing is that through Jesus’ baptism at the Jordan, all water has been touched by Christ. All water is a tool of God’s to bring us back to intimacy with God.
So, go ahead and drink that glass of water. God’s goodness has placed it in your hands. -Sally McCuen
Sept 9, 2011
When I hear that familiar “beep, beep” from my automatic coffee maker each morning, I reach for my mug and anticipate that delicious first sip. It is a pleasure to feel the warm mug in my hands and smell the aroma. Occasionally, however, a momentary wave of panic hits when I notice that the coffee can is near empty and I frantically begin calculating how much I have left until I am able to get to Krogers to buy more.
I, like, so many people living in the urban settings of the First World think very little about where our food and consumer items originate unless an ecoli or salmonella outbreak makes news’ headlines. We so associate receiving our necessities in life from the stores that line our strip malls.
In the Creation Garden at the Fr. Solanus Casey Center, one of the sculptures invites us to ponder the true source of all the items we need to live. The sculpture, Sister Mother Earth, was created by a Native American. It is shaped like a woman who lovingly has a circular empty abdomen and looks as if she is giving from her very depths all that she has.
Essentially, Sister Mother Earth reminds us that everything we have comes from the earth. We think our clothing comes from Kohl’s and our food from Krogers, but ultimately everything comes from the earth and God’s providential care. God created all the elements and cycles necessary to sustain our lives. It is from this great and sacred gift of the Earth that we are physically alive.
Indeed, our very bodies are made up of the sustenance of the earth. Sister Mother Earth is God’s great gift to us. It is through the window of the earth that we see the presence of God’s loving care in our lives. We are called to live in holy relationship with Sr. Mother Earth by respecting her and her gifts and ensuring that ALL of God’s people have access to the essentials for living a good and healthy life.
With a grateful heart, we are invited to deepen our appreciation of the Earth and ultimately God’s providential care. We are living in the midst of a miracle. - Sally McCuen
July 14, 2011
A Tucked Away Treasure-by Sally McCuen
A few weeks ago my 11 year old daughter was visiting me here at work at the Solanus Casey Center. Knowing that her restless spirit needed a little peace and redirection we headed to St Bonaventure Chapel to pray. On the way as we were walking through the Hall of Saints, she told me she wanted to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. After she met with Fr. Maloney in the confessional, she immediately wondered when I had last been to confession. When I told her it was probably about a year ago, she quickly grabbed my arm and attempted to drag me towards the confessional pleading with me to do as she had done.
I complied. Even though I have taught the mechanics of reconciliation for years, I still find it a little unsettlingly to open up my weaknesses and failures to another. Be that as it was, I put forth my transgressions and offered my contrition. What followed was not what I was expecting.
The Confessor’s words were filled with grace and rich in meaning. He invited me to return to reading scripture and recognizing the presence of God. It was not the content of the words he said, but the loving tone he used and by all means the workings of the Holy Spirit that stirred my soul with a glimpse of the Holy. This sacrament was truly an encounter with the Divine.
The opportunity to meet the Divine in rich mercy is generously available at the Solanus Casey Center Mondays through Saturdays from 10 AM to 4 PM. Confessors arrive at the top of the hour and remain until all confessions are heard. (They do not hear confessions at 1 PM as it is their lunch time.)
The Reconciliation is tucked away in the Hall of Saints. In the waiting area is a lovely cross depicting Francis and Jesus. On panels of wood beneath the cross are the words “stretch out your hands to heal” written in many languages. It is sets the tone for reflection and examining one’s conscience. The Reconciliation Chapel is conveniently placed near the Mt Elliott entrance near the church. People can park their cars on Mt Elliott and whisk in.
I like many Catholics have “tucked” the sacrament of reconciliation away. It was good to learn and practice as a child, but as I grew older it was reserved for retreats and holy seasons of the Church year such as Advent and Lent. As my daughter invited me back to the practice, I realized that this sacrament is a treasure. It is a Grace-filled encounter and balm for a weary pilgrim on the journey to holiness.
Questions for Reflection:
- When was the last time you went to Reconciliation? If it has been sometime, consider what is keeping you?
- Where else in your life are you seeing reconciliation occurring? How have you been apart of the process?
June 23, 2011
In the Hall of Saints Pewabic pottery mosaics displaying the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy dot the outer wall. Each mosaic brings to life a glimpse into the core action required to carry out that particular work of mercy.
The Corporal Works are compassionate Christ-like actions we are asked as Christ followers to perform for others that especially focus on bodily needs. Feeding the hungry and giving water to the thirsty are two Corporal Works of Mercy that most people readily think of when asked. The other Corporal Works of Mercy involve visiting the sick and imprisoned and giving shelter and clothing to those so needing. Also, burying the dead is one of the Corporal Works of Mercy. In most Catholic institutions opportunities to practice the corporal works of mercy abound with clothing drives and food pantries.
The Spiritual Works of Mercy, however, are not as well known. They call the followers of Christ to focus on the inner person and offer compassion. In many instances the Spiritual Works of Mercy are being practiced in our everyday life but we don’t realize we are about Christ’s work.
One of the Spiritual Works of Mercy that I find myself practicing almost daily with my daughters is Counsel the Doubtful. Most days an incident at school presents itself in which someone has demonstrated a superior skill much to the chagrin of my child. My daughter compares therself and find herself coming up short. This begins the litany of all the ways in which she is defective, not good enough. She doubts her own goodness and giftedness. She forgets God’s providential presence in her life.
I find myself helping her refocus on what gifts and talents she does possess. I try to help her not compare herself to another because her God given gifts and predisposition was given to her for a particular purpose. No one was created exactly like her because no one else has her particular purpose.
My hope is to help them see that God wants them to have confidence in themselves and God’s goodness and presence in their lives. Every time we encourage a doubtful family member, friend or acquaintance, we are practicing a Spiritual Work of Mercy. This happens to many of us perhaps even more often than feeding the hungry or giving drink to the thirsty.
Have you recently encouraged someone? Reflect on that encounter. Did your words help? Did your listening help?
Have you been encouraged by someone? Reflect on that encounter. Did their words help? How? Did their listening help? How?
June 13, 2011
I am so edified by the faith of the countless pilgrims who come to the Solanus Casey center. They come from all walks of life and from various countries sharing a common faith and hope in God. they arrive seeking to place their intercessions before God through the intercession of Venerable Solanus Casey. These petitions are often placed on the tomb of Fr. Solanus and later transferred to the altar in the back choir where the friars gather for prayer. May the Lord bless all who enter this holy place and know that all petitions are remembered in the daily prayers of the Capuchin Community. - Fr Jim Hast.
May 23, 2011
One of the many holy spots at the Solanus Casey Center is Fr. Solanus’ desk. The light brown colored desk with a number of his personal artifacts incased on top is a significant place to pause and reflect.
It is said that it was often a two to three hour long wait to meet with Fr. Solanus and sit with him at this desk. People with a variety of troubles and heart felt sorrows would wait in hope of talking with Fr. Solanus and perhaps gaining a favor through his intercessory prayers. So many of them were weighed down with suffering and pain, anxiety and worry. Many of them would plan their journey to Fr Solanus for days and weeks in advance with the hope of being granted a grace.
It was at this very desk that a make shift altar formed. The person who was in need would open his or her heart and share their vulnerability, their suffering. Fr. Solanus would listen with great empathy and take that suffering and in the course of their conversation, he would break open the dynamic loving power of God already working in that person’s life. He would open their eyes to the good, to the healing, to courage, God was granting this dear person.
When pilgrims visit the Solanus Casey Center and gather around the desk in the Exhibit Hall, they share the same space those early pilgrims discovered the life-giving power of God at work in their lives. The pilgrims are invited to gather their prayers and open their eyes to the presence of God at work in their lives today. This desk is a holy spot. It is spot in which hundreds, if not thousands, have experienced the power of God.
Where are the spots in your life where you experience the power of God?
February 14, 2011
Every once in awhile it is good to hear how our prayers to Venerable Solanus are heard. I recently got this note from someone who wrote: "I heard of a family whose father was out of work for 18 months. Their house was in foreclosure; the children were very upset and the mother was the sole support for the family. Sh...e was a wreck, barely holding it together. For some reason this moved me to pray to Fr. Solanus for help. A few days after I prayed and asked for your prayers, the father got a good job and the family is back on track. Solanus came through once again."
Thank God for all the many ways in which He hears and answers our prayers through the intercession of Venerable Solanus.
February 4, 2011- The Christ Doors
As the visitor enters the Solanus Casey Center she/he is greeted by the stunning glass doors known as the Christ Doors. The entrance foyer which looks somewhat like a tomb is filled with radiant light as the glass doors disperse the sunshine dancing throughout the Center’s main rotunda.
The Doors beckon the visitor to come in, to go deeper into this holy place. The Doors have an almost heavenly feel to them as one stands in the cold, stone entrance way. The Doors entice the visitor to leave the tomb-like structure and be plunged into the Light.
Etched on the Doors are three words from Matthew 7:7. “Ask, Seek, Knock” We are told that Fr. Solanus first wrote these words in his journal as he began his spiritual journey with Capuchins in formation classes. He writes that he is going to ask Jesus with abundant faith so that Jesus can not refuse.
The Doors are a prime symbol of the Solanus Casey Center. As the porter, Fr. Solanus would open the monastery doors to the people who would come to ask the friars for prayers. As Solanus literally opened the monastery doors, he essentially opened the door of their hearts to the presence of God at work in their lives. The Christ Doors represent this same experience.
Although Fr. Solanus is not alive physically to answer the doors, the spirit of Fr. Solanus is most definitely present. It is no accident the visitor has come to the Center because God is waiting to give him/her something essential for his/her journey of faith. The Doors encourage the visitor to “Ask,” to “Seek”, and to “Knock”. The visitor is urged to keep his/her eyes, ears and heart open to the promptings of the Spirit during this holy visit.
1. What do I want to ask God for today? What am I seeking? How do I knock?
January 24, 2011 – Dorothy Day Beatitude Statue
One of the striking and memorable features of the Solanus Casey Center has to be the Beatitude Statues that grace the Rotunda. Each person highlights a particular beatitude in the choices and activities s/he engaged in while alive. The Beatitudes are a blueprint for living the Christian life. These individuals give us great insight into how we can apply the spirit of the beatitude in our contemporary world.
The first beatitude is Blessed are the Poor in Spirit, and it is brought to life in the person of Dorothy Day. Recently I finished her autobiography, The Long Loneliness. In her honest and detailed writing, I noticed how God haunted her. God was always in pursuit of her heart, even when she was heavily invested in her political activism for Socialism. God stirred her heart most profoundly in the birth of her daughter, Tamar. From those stirrings she invested herself in the Catholic faith.
What touched me about her spiritual journey was how God used all her past experiences with social issues to make clear the core of the Beatitude on being Poor in Spirit. Her relationship with Jesus brought depth and greater meaning to her work. She showed immense respect and concern for all people, but especially identified with those living without financial means. Her work in creating communities of hospitality in what became known as Catholic Worker homes were a living out of the Gospel invitation to give all you have away and follow Christ. Her autobiography described the difficulties of living in poverty, and additionally, the providence of God’s love at work in all aspects of her life.
I was also touched by her devotion to the Rosary. She loved to pray the rosary. Her Catholic prayer rituals helped to center her in the Christian vision of how God wished the world would operate in love.
The event that always touches me about Dorothy Day is how God answered her prayer. After her conversion to Catholicism she was trying to find her way and prayed for a person to help her and befriend her. I understand that she prayed this prayer at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Washington, DC. The next day Peter Maurin entered her life and was a fundamental influence in developing her Catholic Worker Houses. God was so at work in her life.
How is God at work in your life? What is God using from your past to do good now? How are your prayers being answered?
For the week of January 16, 2011 - Something to think about - from the writings of Venerable Solanus:
"The seed is the word of God," sown in the hearts of men that they may co-operate with it and bring forth fruit in works of faith.
How can you work in your faith to make it fruitful? Is there someone with whom you need to reconcile? Have you contemplated becoming involved in a social justice cause? Is their a neighbor or co-worker in need of a friend? Every act of kindness, no matter how small and inconsequential it may seem, is a piece of fruit from God, for both the doer and the receiver. Let this year be one for which your "fruit" bowl overflows!
We have seen in Advent that preparing the way of the Lord is hard work, nourished and strengthened by faith. That hard work, and the faith that accompanies it, is not over just because Christmas has ended. As we enter the New Year it is time to walk the roads we have tried to prepare and "patch up" during our Advent journey. Keeping those roads open demands constant effort and viligance.
Venerable Solanus would frequently spend the entire night in "vigil" before the Blessed Sacrament pleading with faith in order to "prepare the way" for the graces of the Lord to come into the lives of the many people who came to him daily in their spiritual, physical and emotional needs. He didn't only do it during Advent, but all year long.
January 11, 2011
As one of my New Year's Resolutions I have promised myself that I would write more. My name is Sally McCuen and I am the Hospitality Coordinator of the Solanus Casey Center. Blogging is an excellent way to keep true to my promise and the Solanus Casey Center is rich in material to write about. (Fr. Larry Webber asked that we all share in blogging because there is always so much going on at the Center, it would be good to bring various people and topics to the blog.)
My contribution is in the form of a question.
What is your favorite spot in the Fr Solanus Casey Center?
Here is a chance to think about it. If you have visited the Fr Solanus Casey Center, you most likely have discovered a particular place where you felt the soft touch of God’s presence and providential care. Where at the Solanus Center did the Spirit reveal Itself to you?
Even before I started working at the Solanus Center last May, I would pause and wonder what it was like to be at the Solanus Center at that time of day. Sometimes the sun would shine through my second storey window and cascade down my staircase. I would catch myself mentally envisioning what the sun was looking like as it shined at the Solanus Center, perhaps through the etched Saints Windows in the Hallway of Saints. The rays of sunlight would fall upon the stone floor and create a pathway to Venerable Solanus’ tomb. There is a spiritual connection that unites us pilgrims to this holy place even when we aren’t physically at the Center. I find that even when I am no longer physically present at the Center, I am still holding it close in my thoughts. Perhaps you have felt this too!
Over the next few weeks, I am going to look more in depth at some of the features of the Solanus Casey Center and offer some questions to reflect on. There is a deep sense of God’s peace and presence here. Perhaps as you reflect on the questions, you will come to re-experience and deepen God’s “touch”.
November 6, 2010
I've spent some time today cleaning up my desk. I don't know about you, but when things are in order I feel less anxious and worried. Of course, in the end - even when there is much anxiety and worry - all things are "ordered" by God, and in His hands. But His grace helps us to find order - and sometimes taking the time to "put things into order" helps us focus the energy and grace that God gives us each day. Prayer is really a time to "put things in order" and to understand how all things are "ordered" by God.
Our wonderful center is a place where many people come to find the space and time to "put order" into their lives. One of the most wonderful things about the ministry of Venerable Solanus was how he would simply listen and help those who came to him find peace. When we are at peace, we can sense "order" and "grace". I hope I, and all of us here at the Center, can bring that peace to all our visitors.
September 18, 2010
Here is it September - and I haven't blogged since February. I'm not much of a blogger as you can see:)
I also was busy for many months trying to handle the Hospitality tasks of Carol until we had our new Hospitality Coordinator - and in the midst of it we had the sudden and sad death of our long time receptionist - Paul Passeno.
Solanus has given us grace and strength in the midst of our trials. The spring and summer have flown by - and yesterday I saw a tree here in Detroit that was already in color and losing its leaves: Fall is around the corner.
Time flies, and I only pray that as it flies I might have the grace from God to glide safely and faitfully on it rapid current, and always be close to its source: the Creator who made us all.
February 21, 2010
Carol Nehra, our wonderful, warm and welcoming Hospitality Coordinator retired recently. The hole that it has left reminds me of what Fr. Solanus was really all about for those many years here at St. Bonaventures: it is all about receiving people and making them feel welcomed, cared about and listened to.
That really is at the heart of the ministry we continue in the spirit of Venerable Solanus here at the Center.
We will obviously need to be finding someone to take Carol's place (though that will not be at all easy.) But in the meantime, I am reminded that it is not only the hospitality coordinator who has to create that environment. It is the task of each of us who work here. And it is an invitation to each person who is inspired by Venerable Solanus: to create warm and welcoming environments in our homes, places of work and schools. That is the task of each of us, where ever we may be.
February 10, 2010
As I sit and watch the snow fall outside my window, I know how difficult it is for peopel to come here to the Center on a day like today. It makes me grateful for the many days and ways in which the Lord in his goodness graces people to be able to come to this very special and sacred place. There are many obsticales or excuses that people might use for not seeking out the graced places that God provides for us, and on a day like today I ask the Lord to open my heart and the hearts of so many to "clean the roads" that lead to grace.
February 5, 2010
As I worked on a Letter to be sent to our many benefactors as we enter Lent, this reflection came to me: "One page on this year’s calendar has already been turned and we find ourselves entering into the Holy Season of Lent. There is, it seems to me, poignancy in the fact that Lent begins in the dead of winter and ends at Easter with the promise of spring. Lent is a time for us to reflect upon the reality that we are limited creatures who, regardless of intent, find ourselves falling again and again into the cold death of sin – yet are eternally led, by Christ Jesus, into the springtime of redemption; the restoration of our deepest and truest identity as beloved sons and daughters of God." Our prayers are with all of you who visit us, here at the Center, and here on our Web Site.
January 25, 2009
Carol Nehra, our hospitality coordinator, recently trained four new docents, volunteers who help lead people on their pilgrimage here at the Center. I went up to our conference room, and saw all the notes on the white board - and one statement grabbed my attention: "The Solanus Casey Center is a beacon of light for people that live in an otherwise darkened world! It provides comfort, peace, but most important HOPE!!" One of the new docents made the coment: "I prefer to see the Solanus Casey Center as a place for people seeking to come out of their internal darkness."
Since Morning prayers and Mass this morning, today is a day to give thanks to God for so many blessings received in this past year. For me that has included returning to the United States after 27 years in Central America working to build up the Capuchin Fraternity and the local church there. But a great blessing I have received in returning has been my assignment to the Solanus Casey Center. I have always felt the support of Fr. Solanus in my years as a Missionary because of his great love for and support for the missions, especially through the Capuchin Mass Association which supports our missions. The Solanus Center is a mission in its own right - creating a space of peace and and invitation to growth in holiness for so many who pass through its doors. Today I offer thanks to God for all the many people who have touched my life here at the Center during this past year: for their needs and petitions. I pray that God will continue to bless this Center, and all who pass through it this coming year of 2010, with His grace and peace.
We had a 4th grade Pilgrimage today from Everest Academy in Clarkston, Michigan. The students were so excited to share with me their most kind donations for our poor clients. One young man, brought a beautiful warm jacket and cough and cold medicine. They said they were collecting items for the past couple of weeks. They also gave a most generous donation to the Solanus Center. What touched my heart ,was their excitement and joy in being able to share their donations and gifts for our less fortunate families. Congratulations to all staff at Everest Academy for promoting the gift of kindness.
Carol Nehra, Hospitality Coordinator
The Center was FILLED with people today for the 139th birthday of Fr. Solanus. It was also the feast of Christ the King.
I was struck, in the midst of all the people, one rather elderly lady who sat alone and shared how sad she was as the Holidays approached. She said she had no one left to be with for the holidays.
It reminded me how many people come here to the Center to "feel a part of" and to be "included" - such a basic human need, and one Fr. Solanus always met with such humble and kind service. I hope we can continue to offer the same spirit of family to all those who come.
I am always moved by how the peace and grace of this center around the tomb of Venerable Father Solanus draws and affects people. The other day there was a couple who spent hours walking around the center and the church, sitting, reflecting, talking.
As they were leaving, I asked how their visit had gone. They had been so touched by the experience. In sharing, the wife asked me about Secular Franciscan Nuns. Her hardresser was one, and she didn't know Nuns did that sort of thing. I shared with her that most probably her hardresser was a Secular Franciscan, a group of lay people - some married as this couple are - who colaborate with us Capuchin Franciscans in our life and ministry within the realms of their own life as married couples and familes. Here at St. Bonaventures and at the Solanus Center we have a very active Secular Franciscan fraternity, and there are others in the Detroit area. They were facinated by the idea. I told them the fraternity here at the Center gathers every third Sunday at 1:00.
Venerable Father Solanus worked alot with this fraternity, together with the other friars, and these lay brothers and sisters of ours are a huge support to us in our ministry.
Fr. Larry Webber OFM Cap / Director of the Center
Last week at the Solanus Center, I had the joyous opportunity to meet a group of young nuns from Ann Arbor. Their order is Mary Mother of the Eucharist.
What touched my heart, through observation , was their childlike faith. They were so excited to touch Fr. Solanus’ tomb and the relics in our Choir. Their expressions of sheer awe and amazement was enchanting ,as they looked at each sacred venue throughout our Blessed Center. Everything I shared was received with reverence , light and love.
By engaging in conversation with these young novices, I realized that their love for the simple things in life , like Solanus Casey, was transforming them and shaping their focus for their futures in a religious vocation. Meeting these young messengers of the light of our Lord, was for me, a reaffirmation of my faith in so many ways.
After they departed I thought about their devotion to Mary, our Mother and Solanus’ devotion as well. Fr. Solanus once said, “Devotion to the Blessed Mother will bring untold blessings, for we can never be grateful enough to such a singularly chosen and priviledged Blessed Queen of the entire creation.” Amen my brothers and sisters
Carol Nehra, Hospitality Coordinator
September 1, 2009
By Colleen C., an employee of the Capuchin Province of St. Joseph
Each time I attend the Wednesday healing service I am moved to tears. The service is a powerful demonstration of faith. The streets outside the Solanus Center are lined with cars and vans. The parking lot is full. People from all walks of life gather to find hope for their lives....or perhaps for a loved one. It's a wonderful oasis of peace in what would typically be a very busy workday. The music washes over you, sending you to a place without cell phones or email. A place where you can nestle in God's arms and turn your worries to Him. When the presider asks for intentions, the chapel comes alive with prayers streaming heavenward. And when the blessing occurs, you can feel the presence of God. At the end of the service, I usually wait behind and watch everyone leave. They always seem to have a lighter step.