View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Visit To Venerable Solanus Casey

As I had mentioned previously, during my trip to Detroit for a principals' conference, I managed to stop for a quick visit to the St. Bonaventure Friary, where Venerable Father Solanus Casey - the first U.S.-born male to be declared Venerable - served for a number of years and is buried.

I actually made two visits, though the first was not as I had hoped.

My conference sessions ended shortly after 4 on Tuesday, so I jumped back into my car and drove into Detroit (the conference was at a hotel at the airport, south of the city proper). By the time I figured out where the Friary was - and dealt with construction - it was 5 p.m. I parked in the parking lot, and started walking toward the entrance, but the security guard informed me that the Father Solanus Casey Center closed at 5. Ugh. I walked around the outside, took a couple of quick pictures in case I could not make it back, then drove back to the hotel.

I was disappointed, but I told myself at least I now knew where it was and if I had a chance I'd have an easier time of getting back to it on Wednesday.

I was trying to follow Father Solanus' model and be positive. (My own less-saintly pattern is to grumble.)

On Wednesday, I packed all my stuff early for the drive home and put it in the trunk, hoping for a quick getaway. Sure enough, we finished the conference early at 3:15, so I jumped in the car and threaded the traffic and construction back to the Friary.


Deo gratias!

Knowing my time was limited, I made a quick walk-through. Then I went back to a few spots.

The center has a nice exhibit about Father Solanus' life with lots of picture and artifacts. Among the items on display were his personal effects,
including the beloved violin he would play to entertain (well, by all accounts of his ability, not exactly "entertain"!) his fellow Franciscans, and in the chapel for the Lord.

The exhibit also included the vestment he wore for his last Mass, and his Chalice and Paten

...and the rubber stamp he used to sign the many letters he sent to people in response to their letters asking for his prayers and guidance. (He received so many letters that, as he got older and struggled with health, he would dictate letters to secretaries, then stamp them with his signature.)

His tomb had been moved into the church once the process had begun to investigate his sanctity - a first step toward him possibly being declared a saint.

The tomb of the long-time porter is located, appropriately, at one of the entrances to the church. There is a carving of a violin on it.

It was also covered with slips of papers on which there were prayer requests. I wrote my own request, asking him to pray for something that is troubling my heart.

The center also has an exhibit honoring various people who reflect virtues.

Some of my personal favorites were represented, including Dorothy Day

Mother Theresa

and Catherine Doherty.

At the entrance to the Center, there is a garden with art reflecting lines from St. Francis of Assisi's "Canticle of Brother Sun."

I also got a lesson in Franciscan poverty. I'm a bibliophile (with a house jammed with far too many books). After my initial swing through the center and the chapel, I went to the bookstore/gift shop, hoping to find a book or two that I did not already have (or three or four!).

It closed at 4 - before I got to it. Ha!

I hope some day to go back now that I know where the Friary and the Center are. It would be nice to go there with the Good-Looking-One.

Maybe even buy a book?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the tomb covered in notes! I would certainly have left a prayer request, too. The sculptures are wonderful as well. And this is the first time I've seen worn vestments encased...that touches me more than seeing a retired-number jersey raised to the ceiling of a gym, or Elvis' pajamas on a wall in Toronto's Hard Rock Cafe! Awesome.

I have questioned my own little bookcase for its wealth, too, because no one ever asks to borrow a thing there anymore, and I'm pretty sure the kids (for whom I thought to hang onto it all) feel the same, and I really don't go through these books anymore for posts, so I guess they undeniably have become a possession. Worst of all, there's a borrowing library up at my nearest church which could stand some fattening up. Why are books so hard to part with?? I was just going to leave them as part of the estate (let the kids get rid of them someday), but maybe the books give their greatest gift to us when we give them to others whom we know will read them. Anyway, wonderful photos, and thank you so much for them, too.

12:23 PM  
Blogger James said...

Nice story about your answering the call from Fr. Solanus.

I lived just 15 miles from St. Bonaventure's during the first 8 years of my life; if my parents knew about him, we never made a visit.

I was born in July of 1957, the same month and year of Fr. Solanus passing on to his eternal reward. I've been drawn to his story for many years, and now it seems it is on the front burner once again!

My prayer intentions will be placed on Fr. Solanus tomb, and I patiently await answers from Heaven. My new prayer is to visit St. Bonaventure's next year, and give thanks to God for this humble soul.


2:57 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

It was a wonderful experience. I hope to go back - my wife wants to come too.

Maybe next summer.

5:00 PM  

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