Solanus Casey – July 30

From 2004 by Michael Dubruiel Taming the Wild   Solanus had also been cultivating a patch of wild strawberries which he told the friars he was “taming.” Father Solanus: The Story of Solnus Casey O.F.M. Cap. p.174



I had been making my lunch time pilgrimage for several months when I read a chapter from Cathy Odell’s book on Solanus’ time in Huntington. I had literally walked the fields and woods throughout but had never come across any wild strawberries. They must have perished when some of the land was plowed, I figured.


It was a beautiful sunlit day, not a cloud in the sky and very low humidity. I started out walking the perimeter of the property, as was my usual route, and began to pray the rosary. Normally this meant finishing the joyful mysteries by the time I reached the far forest where an Eagle Scout had cleared a trail through the woods. There I would begin the sorrowful mysteries reaching the Capuchin graveyard about the time I reached the third sorrowful mystery (the Crowing with Thorns) where I would prostrate in the direction of the simple wooden cross at the head of the graveyard and pray the prayer of St. Francis, “We adore thee O Christ and we praise Thee because by thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.” Then I would pray the third sorrowful mystery on my knees for the Friars and others buried there, at the same time asking for their intercession for my many needs.


Then I would retrace my steps backward in a slightly different path along the woods rather than through them. At about the same spot where I had discovered an apple tree left over from the orchard that Solanus had blessed, I looked down and spotted something red blooming. At first I thought they were small red flowers that had some how resisted the mowing the lawn had received recently. But on closer inspection I found wild strawberries almost ready to be harvested.


I thought of the irony of my discovery on the very day that I had first read about Solanus’ “taming” of wild strawberries, then I thought of the whole aspect of “taming” the wild.


Looking over the property of what had once been a flourishing center of Catholic spirituality, I could not help but be struck by the apparent failure. What had been tamed here and once again become wild.


It struck me as an apt symbol for the state of Catholicism in the United States at the beginning of the Twenty-first century. The in-roads that the Church had made in converting and bringing Catholic Christianity to this country seemed to have reverted back to its wild state. Those who call themselves Catholic pick and choose what they believe and how they practice their faith. In many ways they mirror the environment they live in with very little to distinguish them from their non-Catholic neighbors.


Of course it also struck me that I suffered from this as much as anyone.


Picking up the wild strawberry, I saw how immature it was. No doubt Solanus’ taming of the “wild” strawberries had resulted in them growing into substantial fruit that was enjoyed by the Huntington Capuchins. Now without that taming, the wild strawberry had once again returned to a small pitiful caricature of what it might have been.


Sadly this is what we also have become. Our influence in our culture is weak and we risk giving scandal to those who look to us as representatives of all that is Catholic. We are “wild” Cathlolics, in great need of being tamed by Our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Solanus Casey Beatified

From 2009 by Michael Dubruiel

A good and holy priest is the reason I am able to write this at the beginning of 2009. I owe my life to him. The strange thing about this priest is that he died in 1957, the year before I was born. However, in 2000 I was driving on an interstate in Southern Indiana in a torrential rain, when suddenly my Ford Explorer off the road by a sudden gust of wind. As I spun wildly toward the oncoming traffic in the West bound lane, I saw my life pass before my eyes. Then, almost as suddenly as the whole incident had unfolded, I found myself back in the East bound lane heading in the right direction. A holy card with the image of Father Solanus Casey stood in front of me—completely upright.

My legs were shaking as I tried to regain my composure, and the thought entered my mind that God had something for me to do—and that Father Solanus had interceded for me at that moment.

I first heard of Father Solanus Casey in 1985, while on retreat with Father Benedict Groeschel. Father Benedict spent his novitiate at St. Felix Friary in Huntington, IN back in the 1950’s. He had witnessed many miraculous events in Father Solanus’ presence. Years later when commenting on the skepticism of modern people, and sadly some scholars, about the miraculous incidents related in the Bible, Father Benedict commentedthat this was never a problem for him. Referring to the years he had lived with Father Solanus Casey he said, “I lived with the New Testament.”

Providentially, I took a job in 1999, in Huntington, IN—leaving the beloved South. I worked for a Catholic publishing house. On my lunch breaks I travelled to the former St. Felix Friary and walked the grounds while reading about Fr. Solanus. In Christ, who told His followers, “Whoever lives and believes in me shall never die,” (John 11:26), Father Solanus becamea good friend of mine.

A few years ago, the Capuchin pastor of St. Peter and Paul in Huntington, Father Ron, was called to the home of an older married couple who were evangelical Protestants.They called Father Ron because it seemed that a Catholic priest had visited their home and offered them counsel. They wondered if Father Ron knew the priest, so they could thank him for coming.

The lady of the house told Father Ron that her husband was dying of cancer. He had difficulty sleeping and often slept in the living room at night. On this particular night she heard him talking out loud, seemingly in conversation. The next morning she found him asleep, with a pile of nut shells on the table next to him. There was another pile of nut shells near a sofa table.

The man related that during the night when he was in incredible pain, a Franciscan priest had walked into the living room and asked him how he was doing. They ate nuts, while talking about God and life. The priest told the man that he was going to die very soon and he needed to get ready to meet God. The brown robed friar left the house early in the morning. Did Father Ron know the identity of this Franciscan priest?

They described him in great detail,and Father Ron racked his brain trying to figure out who they might have encountered. Finally he pulled out a holy card of Father Solanus, “Does this look anything like the priest?”

The man spoke up at once, “Not only does it look like him, it is him! Where can I get in contact with him again?”

Father Ron explained that Father Solanus had died over forty years ago.

Father Ron later told me that the man with cancer lived a few more months after his meeting.

Father Solanus once said, “Life here in the exile seems so short and uncertain, that it seems like it ought to have another name.” The older I get, the comparison that our earthly pilgrimage is likened to an “exile” makes more sense to me.

New Year’s is a time of making resolutions. I pray that God may bless each of you with the insight into the mission that He has for you and for me. May we all like Father Solanus Casey bring joy into the lives of those we touch.I wish you a Happy and Blessed New Year!

In the footsteps of Solanus Casey

I spend my lunch time taking a walk at one of two places–one an active convent with beautiful grounds that include several nature trails and the other an abandoned Capuchin Friary where Solanus Casey once lived. Both offer me a variety of places to stop and reflect on the meaning of the mysteries of the rosary in the lived lives of both places–usually at the cemetery where I pause and reflect that surely one or two or more saints are buried who will join their prayers to mine.

Yesterday was a rather eventful day. I was at the convent and noticed police tape blocking the entrance to a path down a hill that includes a grotto of the resurrection and a downward path of the Stations of the Cross. A short walk under the tape and I discovered the reason why–a wall had tumbled down as the result of all the rain that we’ve had in this part of the country this Spring–a landslide. I think I was up the second joyful mystery–the visitation. I wondered what this act of nature might signify? I noticed that the display of the stations had not really been affected by the landslide but that the resurrection grotto had–it was as though the “removed stone” had been placed back at the entrance. I thought of the preoccupation of the women walking to the tomb “who will remove the stone?” and thought that this probably was the worry now of some of the nuns at the convent but probably only a few.

This convent is primarily interested in the environment. Nothing wrong with that. Trees are identified throughout the property and dedicated to various sisters. No Hunting or Fishing signs dot the landscape. It all makes for a very peaceful place at least from the perspective of violent people anyway. But nature is not really peaceful as the landslide near the fourteenth station demonstrates and the illusion has sometime been given that “man” is responsible for all the ills of nature–but indeed man is not the only creature that is fallen in Christian belief, rather it is all of creation.

Next I made my way to the graveyard. It is usually the place where I notice the most activity. New graves appear almost weekly as the rapidly dwindling numbers of nuns are laid to rest. There are a few stones from the 1980’s that commemorate the missing bodies of nuns who gave their bodies to science but that fad seems to have passed now. On this day there were new deep holes burrowed into the earth for the placement of new grave-markers. The ten or so prepared last year are only one from being all used up. It is now the fifth joyful mystery the Finding of Jesus in the Temple–I wonder as I often do when I visit either of these sacred places (the abandoned friary and the soon to be abandoned convent) if Christ has been lost or is this just the natural cycle of religious communities?

Now I am on the trail of God’s Splendid Creation as one of the sister’s has entitled it on the sign that tells me the meandering path is .8 of a mile. Nature has ravaged this path also as the torrential rains have left huge piles of sand at the base of a hill that normally is very dry but now still wet weeks after the last rainfall. A deer is startled by my entrance into the forest and creates quite a stir as it flies over fallen trees and brush to make its way deeper into the forest. It is the first Luminous mystery–The Baptism of Jesus by John “I must decrease and he must increase,” crosses my mind as I also think of the psalm “like a deer that yearns for running water so my soul thirsts for you my God!”

About half-way to the end of the path, the deer emerges again. Once again the sound of broken limbs under the weight of the deers landings, this time joined by squirrels scurrying in every direction. One squirrel winds his way around a tree and looks out at me with expectation of a treat–a little too tame for my liking. It is the third luminous mystery–Jesus preaching the Kingdom of God–“seek first the Kingdom of God” I think as I run past the tree where the squirrel lurches out from for some reason fearing that he will jump upon me and attack me for not having brought him any nuts. He does not and I go back to trying to seek God’s dominion over me.

At the end of the trail I emerge upon the road lined with trees that leads back to the convent. I notice the deer’s head staring at me from across the road, his ears flicking. I imagine the deer thinking that I’m following him. I walk closer to him and he doesn’t move this time. Perhaps they feed him too, I think. I am now only five feet from the deer and I talk to him. He only cocks his head this way and that but doesn’t flee until I turn to continue my journey. The fourth luminous mystery–the Transfiguration, an invitation to encounter Jesus in the Old Testament I think meditating on the significance of Moses and Elijah the prophet.

The sun beats down mercilessly and the tar is soft under my feet. I look back and see the deer still peering at me watching to see if I really am going in a different direction. I am, my lunch time nears its end. The maintenance worker is mowing the grass. His plumb body hangs over the sides of the seat and his beard covers his chest. As I make my way to the parking lot I notice his license plate “Rode Kill” misspelled I reason because someone must have already had “road kill” in this state of connoisseurs of varmint meat. On the side of his truck he has a bumper sticker, “I love animals…they taste real good.” The fifth sorrowful mystery–the Crucifixion. In the way a sinner is attracted to the cross of salvation, I reason, perhaps this man with his desires was attracted to the environmental sisters.

So be it! Amen.

The Priest Who Saved my Life by Michael Dubruiel

A good and holy priest is the reason I am able to write this at the beginning of 2009. I owe my life to him. The strange thing about this priest is that he died in 1957, the year before I was born. However, in 2000 I was driving on an interstate in Southern Indiana in a torrential rain, when suddenly my Ford Explorer off the road by a sudden gust of wind. As I spun wildly toward the oncoming traffic in the West bound lane, I saw my life pass before my eyes. Then, almost as suddenly as the whole incident had unfolded, I found myself back in the East bound lane heading in the right direction. A holy card with the image of Father Solanus Casey stood in front of me—completely upright.

My legs were shaking as I tried to regain my composure, and the thought entered my mind that God had something for me to do—and that Father Solanus had interceded for me at that moment.

I first heard of Father Solanus Casey in 1985, while on retreat with Father Benedict Groeschel. Father Benedict spent his novitiate at St. Felix Friary in Huntington, IN back in the 1950’s. He had witnessed many miraculous events in Father Solanus’ presence. Years later when commenting on the skepticism of modern people, and sadly some scholars, about the miraculous incidents related in the Bible, Father Benedict commentedthat this was never a problem for him. Referring to the years he had lived with Father Solanus Casey he said, “I lived with the New Testament.”

Providentially, I took a job in 1999, in Huntington, IN—leaving the beloved South. I worked for a Catholic publishing house. On my lunch breaks I travelled to the former St. Felix Friary and walked the grounds while reading about Fr. Solanus. In Christ, who told His followers, “Whoever lives and believes in me shall never die,” (John 11:26), Father Solanus becamea good friend of mine.

A few years ago, the Capuchin pastor of St. Peter and Paul in Huntington, Father Ron, was called to the home of an older married couple who were evangelical Protestants.They called Father Ron because it seemed that a Catholic priest had visited their home and offered "Michael Dubruiel"them counsel. They wondered if Father Ron knew the priest, so they could thank him for coming.

The lady of the house told Father Ron that her husband was dying of cancer. He had difficulty sleeping and often slept in the living room at night. On this particular night she heard him talking out loud, seemingly in conversation. The next morning she found him asleep, with a pile of nut shells on the table next to him. There was another pile of nut shells near a sofa table.

The man related that during the night when he was in incredible pain, a Franciscan priest had walked into the living room and asked him how he was doing. They ate nuts, while talking about God and life. The priest told the man that he was going to die very soon and he needed to get ready to meet God. The brown robed friar left the house early in the morning. Did Father Ron know the identity of this Franciscan priest?

They described him in great detail,and Father Ron racked his brain trying to figure out who they might have encountered. Finally he pulled out a holy card of Father Solanus, “Does this look anything like the priest?”

The man spoke up at once, “Not only does it look like him, it is him! Where can I get in contact with him again?”

Father Ron explained that Father Solanus had died over forty years ago.

Father Ron later told me that the man with cancer lived a few more months after his meeting.

Father Solanus once said, “Life here in the exile seems so short and uncertain, that it seems like it ought to have another name.” The older I get, the comparison that our earthly pilgrimage is likened to an “exile” makes more sense to me.

New Year’s is a time of making resolutions. I pray that God may bless each of you with the insight into the mission that He has for you and for me. May we all like Father Solanus Casey bring joy into the lives of those we touch.I wish you a Happy and Blessed New Year!

Possible Miracles for Ven. Solanus?

The files documenting the case head to Rome, from the Archdiocese of Detroit:

 When Bro. Leo Wollenweber, OFM Cap., flies to Rome Sunday, Oct. 14, he may be carrying with him details of the miracle that finally advances the Ven. Solanus Casey the next step on the way to being declared a saint.

“I have three cases that look promising, for which I have some medical records,” said Bro. Wollenweber, vice postulator for the sainthood cause of the famous Capuchin who served as porter at St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit.

He will deliver the reports on the three remarkable healings to Fr. Florio Tessari, OFM Cap., postulator general for all Capuchin sainthood causes.

“We’ll need people’s prayers so that we’ll have good success with this,” Bro. Wollenweber said.

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