Venerable Solanus Casey
Barney Casey became one of Detroit's best-known priests even though he was not allowed to preach formally or to hear confessions!
Barney came from a large family in Oak Grove, Wisconsin. At the age of 21, and after he had worked as a logger, a hospital orderly, a streetcar operator and a prison guard, he entered St. Francis Seminary in Milwaukee—where he found the studies difficult. He left there and, in 1896, joined the Capuchins in Detroit, taking the name Solanus. His studies for the priesthood were again arduous.
On July 24, 1904, he was ordained, but because his knowledge of theology was judged to be weak, Father Solanus was not given permission to hear confessions or to preach. A Franciscan Capuchin who knew him well said this annoying restriction "brought forth in him a greatness and a holiness that might never have been realized in any other way." During his 14 years as porter and sacristan in Yonkers, New York, the people there recognized him as a fine speaker. "For, though he was forbidden to deliver doctrinal sermons," writes his biographer, James Derum, "he could give inspirational talks, or feverinos, as the Capuchins termed them" (18:96). His spiritual fire deeply impressed his listeners.
Father Solanus served at parishes in Manhattan and Harlem before returning to Detroit, where he was porter and sacristan for 20 years at St. Bonaventure Monastery. Every Wednesday afternoon he conducted well-attended services for the sick. A co-worker estimates that on the average day 150 to 200 people came to see Father Solanus in the front office. Most of them came to receive his blessing; 40 to 50 came for consultation. Many people considered him instrumental in cures and other blessings they received.
Father Solanus' sense of God's providence inspired many of his visitors. "Blessed be God in all his designs" was one of his favorite expressions.
The many friends of Father Solanus helped the Capuchins begin a soup kitchen during the Depression. Capuchins are still feeding the hungry there today.
In 1946 in failing health, he was transferred to the Capuchin novitiate in Huntington, Indiana, where he lived until 1956 when he was hospitalized in Detroit. He died on July 31, 1957. An estimated 20,000 people passed by his coffin before his burial in St. Bonaventure Church in Detroit.
At the funeral Mass, the provincial Father Gerald said: "His was a life of service and love for people like me and you. When he was not himself sick, he nevertheless suffered with and for you that were sick. When he was not physically hungry, he hungered with people like you. He had a divine love for people. He loved people for what he could do for them—and for God, through them."
In 1960 a Father Solanus Guild was formed in Detroit to aid Capuchin seminarians. By 1967 the guild had 5,000 members—many of them grateful recipients of his practical advice and his comforting assurance that God would not abandon them in their trials. He was declared Venerable in 1995.
James Patrick Derum, his biographer, writes that eventually Father Solanus was weary from bearing the burdens of the people who visited him. "Long since, he had come to know the Christ-taught truth that pure love of God and one's fellowmen as children of God are in the final event all that matter. Living this truth ardently and continuously had made him, spiritually, a free man—free from slavery to passions, from self-seeking, from self-indulgence, from self-pity—free to serve wholly both God and man" (The Porter of St. Bonaventure's, page 199).
Father Maurice Casey, a brother of Father Solanus, was once in a sanitarium near Baltimore and was annoyed at the priest-chaplain there. Father Solanus wrote his brother: "God could have established his Church under supervision of angels that have no faults or weaknesses. But who can doubt that as it stands today, consisting of and under the supervision of poor sinners—successors to the 'poor fishermen of Galilee' #151; the Church is a more outstanding miracle than any other way?"
Daily Prayer - 2015-11-05
Dear Jesus, today I call on you in a special way.
Lord, you created me to live in freedom.
I ask how I am within myself today?
The Word of God
Reading 1 Rom 14:7-12
Brothers and sisters:
Responsorial Psalm PS 27:1bcde, 4, 13-14
R. (13) I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
Alleluia Mt 11:28
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 15:1-10
The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
Some thoughts on today's scripture
Sometimes I wonder what I might say if I were to meet you in person Lord.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
31st Week in Ordinary Time
There will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents. (Luke 15:10)
When we hear about the trial of someone accused of a sensational crime, we often feel torn. On the one hand, we want justice and a fair resolution for the families of the victims. But on the other hand, something inside tells us that we should let mercy triumph over judgment.
Today, Jesus tells the parable of a shepherd diligently searching for one lost sheep. He invites us to join him in the search, not in order to punish the stray for wandering from the fold, but in order to bring it back to safety. We understand that we need to be merciful, but we tend to miss the way our acts of mercy can set us free as well as the person we are forgiving.
In her book Dead Man Walking, Sister Helen Prejean recounts the story of a father whose child was brutally murdered. The father began with a strong desire to punish the perpetrators. However, he eventually realized that his thirst for vengeance was changing him in ways he didn't like. Instead of remaining a kind and generous person, he was becoming wary and hateful. He realized that he shouldn't give a wrongdoer so much power over him. So he began his journey toward forgiveness by interceding for the perpetrators every day and by reaching out to their hurting family. Over time, he saw his own heart soften and his faith grow dramatically.
Aligning ourselves with the Good Shepherd doesn't always come naturally. Very small children already express a keen awareness of unfairness, especially if they feel they've been wronged. They quickly place conditions on their forgiveness: I'll forgive him only if he asks, if I believe he's truly sorry for what he did, and if he tries to make it up to me. In other words, I'll stay here in the sheepcote with my arms folded and wait for him to turn around and come home, humbled and repentant.
You can just imagine the Good Shepherd shaking his head at such behavior. He wants us to forgive unconditionally, just as he forgives us. He knows that as we take small steps in imitation of him, our own straying hearts will change.
"Thank you, Lord, for your great mercy. Please help me extend forgiveness to your other undeserving sheep."
I'm pretty good at remembering what I told people, not too good at remembering at what they told me sometimes. And this is really upsetting when God speaks to me and I can't remember exactly what was said. It is the case of the Scriptures, always. That is why they have to live inside of you, and work in your mind to your heart all day, every day. Let the Word of the Lord soak into your soul. The first Holy Scripture said what today? Do you remember? I know I have to peek up a few times when writing to you, especially to get the words just right. The gist of the first today was something about being judgemental right? "Why do you look down on your brother or sister?" Doesn't it bother you when you do it? I know it bothers me. On the one hand, you should know what's right, and the other what is wrong, but what exactly are you making out to be wrong? The whole person? Their soul? Then why do we treat them the way we do? The Lord is going to make this point in the Gospel today.
The Psalms pray "I believe I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living". I read this Psalm at times at funerals. It is interesting, what does it mean? It means wait for the Lord with courage. It means be stouthearted and wait for the Lord. They say that if your car gets stuck in snow, it's best to wait for help. This is the case of the Good Shepherd. The lamb waits, the lamb calls, and the Good Shepherd comes. Be filled with hope and courage then...the Lord comes, and we can see it is evident in many cases of the faithful with answered prayers. So wait on the Lord, this means also serve the Lord, doesn't it! I've talked to different men this week about coming to Church, or bible readings night like last night. One said "no I won't go", another said "I'll go one day" and another said a very vague answer, which was no answer at all. Another said "I have every intention", but what good is your intention without any motivation behind it, any movement, any action? Because the Gospel we are about to discuss puts God in action as always!
Love then, is an action, not a theory, not a mere feeling, not just a noun, but a verb. It is the same as our universe always expanding, always growing. And this what we are speaking of, this Love is the Lord, the Good Shepherd. If then, if the Lord expands beyond our Universe, what makes you think He would not expand into your world? What makes you think you can not call out in the name of the Lord? What makes you silent? This morning, I stepped out of my house and into a foggy sunrise, already speaking to the Lord in my mind, and I prayed "Lord hear our prayers" and a reply came "I will if I can hear them". In other words, there are prayers in my heart that I can not make out into words, ever make them out to reality. The Lord hears the prayers of the faithful, the holier more clearly. This is why people ask prayers from people they know have faith. And this is why Catholics ask Saints for help. Now, you be a saint, you aim. Because the call of the Shepherd brings in the flock. You can have a whole mixture of sheep with different shepherds, but the flock of each shepherd is known by the sheep. And so take heart. Wherever you are, it does not matter, it only matters if you do not heed the call. Many people I talk to throughout the day, I inquire about their faith "do you go to Church", "why haven't I seen you at church". This is God speaking through me, seeking the lost. And when He speaks what happens? Miracles can happen, but that's not the best part. The best part is repentance, conversion, falling in love with Christ. They say the polls are showing a decrease in people believing in God. I believe it. But what I also see is that those who do believe are growing stronger in their faith. They say the population is increasing. But what you don't hear is that it is growing unnaturally, so that in a few decades there will be a shortage of people. This phenomenon is all in the knowing of our Lord. He knows where the sheep are. He reaches out to them in the land of the living. He reaches them through you and me. Your silence then...could be deadly. Twofold deadliness, one by you not speaking to the Lord (calling out to Him for salvation) and secondly, by you not speaking out to the lost, those that need to grow in love with the Lord, who need God's love even if you don't know it. So the message is clear, the Lord wants you to be clear with Him, make your prayers heard, become Holy, become wholly His, become a prayer warrior, become a person that knows how to use their heads, hands, feet, and knees and especially the heart. Because the Pharisees were supposedly faithful, but not to mercy and love, the very intrinsic nature of the Lord in action. He didn't want His people set aside to become stagnate, but to flow, flourish and grow, and expansion of His will with yours.
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