Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 52 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Thursday, August 31, 2006

From the Rector

Your September Eagle should be in your mail box next week, but here is a preview... the From the Rector section!

As the summer draws to an end, this year we are enthused around here with the prospect of the Tigers being in the playoffs, and an extension of the excitement happening all around St. John’s! Not since the stadium opened next door to St. John’s has our neighborhood been so busy so often!

And in the midst of all the new excitement stands St. John’s, as she has stood for 145+ years - a beacon of hope, and a solid witness of the Truth that Jesus Christ is Lord. More visitors have seen us, and visited us this summer due to the busy-ness of the neighborhood, and it is my hope that we will be more effective in taking advantage of our location in the midst of the Sports/Entertainment District, as well as the new housing, to reach out to many with the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Speaking of busy-ness, the new programming year begins in September. Sunday School, the new Children’s Chapel, Adult Education, and the various organizations of the parish get up and running again after a summer hiatus. Be sure to plan on being here on Sunday by 9:05am (or stay after the 8am Service if that is your preference) to participate not only in the glorious worship of The Church, but also to be educated in the Faith. This is so vital in an age where many of us grew up with a solid scriptural instruction, and our children/grandchildren are being bombarded with images , messages, and belief systems contrary to the revealed Word of God. The Church and the home are our lines of defense, and both must be well grounded in knowledge about The Faith as He has revealed Himself to us!

Finally, a reminder that our Lord does expect to see you every Sunday in Church! Let’s not let sports, social events, personal issues, inertia, or other distractions prevent us from fulfilling our joyful obligation to worship the Lord every Sunday in Church. It is good for you, good for all of us, and pleasing to Him!

This is kinda creepy...

After flippantly posting the other day that I wished gas prices would be $2 instead of $3, this appeared in the USA TODAY on line

By James R. Healey, USA TODAY
Gasoline prices are falling fast and could keep dropping for months.
"The only place they have to go is down," says Fred Rozell, gasoline analyst at the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS). "We'll be closer to $2 than $3 come Thanksgiving."


Bring it on!!!!

Close, but no cigar!

Marcus Thames hit a two run homer today v. the Yankees in the 9th, but that only brought them up to 6-4. Ordonez then got a double, and the next three Tigers were out, stranding Ordonez on third. So close, but they didn't pull it off like last night, when Monroe hit that beautiful 3 run homer in the 9th to go ahead. So the Tigers go 1-2 to the Yankees. Back home this weekend to host the Angels. I always look forward to the Angels coming in to town since the head trainer, Ned Bergert, usually comes to Mass at St. John's. He is a great guy and faithful Episcopalian.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

How to save $4.73

This week, gasoline is 43 cents a gallon cheaper than it was 3 weeks ago. It was $3.09 a few weeks ago, and is now $2.66 at the gas station near my house. I put 11 gallons in the tank yesterday - which would have cost $4.73 more 3 weeks ago.....

Now if we can get it down to say...$2.00 a gallon? Dare I dream.....

Monday, August 28, 2006

Getting excited about football season

With the Tigers having a good season and headed to the playoffs, and the Lions showing little sign of improvement during the pre-season, it has been hard to get excited about football. But this past weekend high school football started, and it is always exciting to cheer on my high school, especially in their rivalry against my two brothers' high schools, U of D Jesuit and Brother Rice. My school, Orchard Lake St. Mary's, was rated by Sports Illustrated as the best team in Michigan and #22 in the country.

I also like following my college's team, University of Pennsylvania (although quite frankly, Detroit area Catholic League football is more exciting sometimes than Ivy League ball), and I also cheer for U of Michigan. Notre Dame gets a cheer as well, except with playing Michigan!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Saturday evening prep time

Friday, August 25, 2006

Converting the Episcopal Church...

On another blog, there was a reference to a website run by or contributed to by prominent ECUSA clergy, seminary faculty, a retired bishop, and a well-published author, called explorefaith.org. I would not recommend it to anyone wanting to find biblical Christianity. It is a classic example of why ECUSA is failing. It has a Q&A section on the faith which waters down, rationalizes away, or reinvents meanings of the faith once delivered to the saints.

Whereas the Scriptures are clear that Jesus' resurrection from the dead was physical and literal, as attested in many places in the gospels (invitation to touch his wounds to Thomas, eating with disciples after the Resurrection, etc.) and attested to in Acts 2:31-32

Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.

But this site, rather than giving solid biblical, theological instruction to answer questions, gives 3 or 4 opinions about each answer from different authors, not one matching the Universal Faith.

For the Resurrection we read this answer as one of several.....
Do I have to believe that Christ literally rose from the dead to be a Christian?
I think that human beings have always turned to the use of metaphor when they’ve had an experience that words alone cannot express. For example, “I was scared to death!”or “She’s so happy that she’s walking on air” or “The news truly broke her heart.” None of these statements is literally true, yet each one of them gives expression to a sentiment or an experience that is nonetheless profoundly true.
I believe that there is a similar dynamic of truth in the concept of Christ being raised from the dead. So, no, I don’t think that to be a Christian we have to believe that Christ literally, bodily rose from the dead and that he literally, bodily ascended into heaven. Yet I do believe that these words are our best attempt to give expression to an experience which was true to the followers of Jesus in his time, and is still true to those of us who engage with Jesus in heart, mind and spirit still today. What Jesus’ rising from the dead means to me is this: That life is eternal, and that we are a part of that eternal life even now, in this life we are living. That we live in eternal life was true of us before we were born; it is true while we are living here and now; and it will be true after we have died. We live always in the embrace of God’s eternity.

Note my bold...WHAT IT MEANS TO ME....it is all a private opinion, not God's revealed truth! God help us!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

At today's monthly Requiem Mass

As we do each month (now 4th Thursdays, was 3rd) we had our Guild of All Souls Requiem Mass today. And as we always do at the monthly requiem, we read the names of all parishioners, since 1859, who have died in the month of August. This is called a Chantry List, and every day at Evening Prayer we also remember those who have died on that day of the year. Sometimes I read off the name of someone I have buried, bringing back memories of them and their families. Other times I recognize the name of someone relatively famous in Detroit history, whom I know from either the parish history book, my involvement on the foundation of Elmwood Cemetery, or general history interest.

Today, we prayed for two little boys, twins - William and Frank, the newborn sons of Fr. William Armitage, the first Rector of St. John's. They died in August of 1860. In the first two years as Rector, Fr. Armitage had 3 sons die. Only one child, a daughter, survived into adulthood.

Looking back in the burial registers, it is stunning to see how many children died within days/weeks/months of their birth. In other places you see spates of deaths from TB (called consumption), and a variety of other diseases now vaccinated against and virtually eliminated. What a different life we live now!

Thinking back to Fr. Armitage, I can't imagine how he or his wife Charlotte survived the loss 3 children in the first 2 years as Rector! The parish was booming in growth from its founding in 1859 to 1866 - when he left there were over 800 families in the parish. He only stayed 3 more years, but was obviously expecting to stay much longer...he bought a 24 space family plot at Elmwood. Only 5 spaces were used (3 boys, wife and Fr. A). He was elected the second bishop of Wisconsin, and died 6 years after that (1873). His wife survived until 1921!

So I am going home soon, to hug my wife and kids, and thank God for their health!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Me Church

Me Church video

You would be surprised how many people ask questions like this, or related ones."Couldn't the service be shorter (1 1/2 hours a week is too long to spend worshipping the Lord?)".

I guess sometimes we forget that Church isn't about "ME", it is about HIM!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Chaplain on Call this week

I would appreciate a few extra prayers this week for the Detroit Police Department. I am the 'Chaplain on call' this week, which means I have the pager in case of an emergency overnight, God forbid.

So God bless the DPD, and keep them from harm (and not just this week because I am on duty)!

Monday, August 21, 2006

7-1 Tigers, in the 7th

After losing the last three to the Rangers, it is nice to come home and see the Tigers up 7-1 over the White Sox in the 7th inning! They blew a 6 run lead yesterday, but they are playing better today, and it is later into the game. They made a trade for a second baseman, Perez, from the Cubs to help with the infield with Polanco out with an injury. He won a golden glove at Shortstop in 2000. Here is picture of him in his Cubs uniform. How blessed Perez and first basemen Casey are to be traded from terrible teams (Pirates and Cubs) to the team with the best record in baseball!

Andrew got to pitch for the second time tonight. During the regular little league season he played Single A, which is coach pitch to encourage hitting and fielding. In this 'second season', which is technically Double A, we have faced mostly the pitching machine, since that is what Double A in the other Grosse Pointes little league uses for AA. But tonight the other coach agreed to kid pitch, and Andrew pitched in the 4th (of 6) innings. The first batter got on base due to a fielding error. Andrew walked the second kid. He then struck out the next three for a 19 pitch inning. In two games (two innings) his ERA remains 0.00.

We won 2-0 on a two run home run hit by Jamal, one of our fastest runners!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Yesterday and Today

Yesterday was the feast of one of my favorite saints, Maximilian Kolbe. Fr. Maximilian died at Auschwitz, giving his life for another prisoner. I met that prisoner, Franciszek Gajowniczek, while in High School in the 1980's. He told us the moving story of Fr. Maximilian, and I visited Auschwitz that following Summer, where a shrine is set up where he was starved, and then injected with carbolic acid. Before Auschwitz he founded a Franciscan Friary in Poland, Marytown, which hosted the publishing ministry for his organization, The Militia Immaculata. Before WWII Marytown had nearly 800 priests and brothers! He also traveled to and started a publishing ministry in Japan for a period of time. I chose Fr. Maximilian as my religious name in the Third Order Franciscans.

Today is the Feast of St. Mary the Virgin (Assumption BVM for Roman Catholics and The Dormition for the Eastern Orthodox). As today's gospel lesson states, from the prayer prayed daily at Evening Prayer, The Magnificat, "From henceforth, all generations shall call me blessed." And we do!

I am looking forward, in a short while, to heading over to St. Martha's Church in Detroit for our Diocesan Celebration of the Feast, hosted by Fr. Robert Kerr, SSC, also a Third Order Franciscan.

For more information on our Franciscan Order, go to www.fodc.net

Saturday, August 12, 2006

too busy....

...to get to my blog this weekend. Good busy! Little League Baseball games, Rocket launch, having the porch replaced on the house, new puppy, 6 month old baby.....
A very good busy!
See you in Church!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Let them (him) eat cake!

The golfer in the picture is famous (Tiger Woods), but more important is the CAKE in the photo! Not just that it commemorates Tiger's 50th win by the age of 30, but that it was made by our own Brenda and Todd Buchanan, owners of Iverson's Bakery in Dearborn!!!!

We have seen great examples of these types of cakes at our own coffee hour, and it is good to see that the asked the Buchanans to make the cake (Grand Blanc, MI, where the golf tourney was is NOT near Dearborn). It is a real tribute to their reputation as the finest bakers in Metro Detroit. Brenda promises a picture of them with Tiger himself, but for now a photo of the cake will have to suffice!

Bravo to the Buchanan's and Iverson's Bakery! Oh yeah, to Tiger Woods too.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

New addition to the Rectory

Meet Hershey, our new 12 week old Chocolate Lab puppy.

He is a very mild, easy going puppy, who sleeps alot. He has bursts of energy, as all puppies do, but for the most part he is pretty laid back. He likes to cuddle (Jennifer has to remind me he is NOT a lap dog!).

Of course, last night was his first night in a new crate, in a new place, and sleeping alone without his brother, who was crated with him in foster care. At 2am he decided he needed to go out, and then wanted to play fetch at that hour! Then when I re-crated him (yes, we played fetch for a few minutes at that early AM hour), he whined and whimpered. So I laid down next to the crate on the floor for a few minutes, and Jennifer came down to get me up and back to bed at 3:30am!

I can see things will be a bit hectic with a 6 month old daughter, and 3 month old puppy. But the older boys will be helping with puppy care as well.

I never would have thought we would get another lab less than 2 weeks after Harper died, but the opportunity arose and we took it. Last night Sam came down from bed, teary. He said he liked the new puppy, but he made him miss Harper even more! God bless Sam for his heart of love for Harper. We all miss him.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Build a new one please...build a new one!

This morning I read this in the Detroit News....

DETROIT -- The Ilitch family is taking another step closer to deciding the fate of Joe Louis Arena, home to their Detroit Red Wings.
This week, the Ilitches -- who own a billion-dollar Detroit empire of sports teams, entertainment venues and downtown property -- moved one of its longtime senior executives into a newly created job to determine whether Joe Louis should be renovated or a new hockey arena should be built for the Red Wings.

Of course, they should build a new one either behind the Fox Theater or caddy-corner from the Church where the old Motown Building was. 80 more dates of possible parking income!

See the entire article at

Friday, August 04, 2006

The extra effort!

Hurrah for the Tigers, winning another one tonight. And kudos Craig Monroe for the two run, go ahead homer in the eighth, and to Brandon Inge for the great hustle to catch this fly ball, in the stands!

Old fashioned baseball

Today we spent the day at The Henry Ford Museum. We took in the traveling exhibit from the Pro Baseball Hall of Fame, and then went out to the Greenfield Village to watch some baseball, 1867 style! It looks like a lot of fun to play the way they did (but playing without mitts might make for some painful callouses).

There is a tournament all weekend with teams from around the midwest that play this old-style baseball.

Patron Saint of Parish Priests

A quick note before the feast day is over....

Today is the Feast of St. Jean Marie Vianney, a third order Franciscan who is now venerated at the patron saint of parish priests. (born 1786, died 4 August, 1859)

For those parishioners at St. John's who were here when I arrived, in my first sermon I referred to a story about the young Cure d'Ars (the french name for the parish priest of the town of Ars, in France), who as he approached his new town, asked a young shepherd boy for directions to Ars. The boy walked him to the edge of town and the holy priest then said "You have shown me the way to Ars, now I will show you the way to heaven." I thanked the search committee and vestry for showing me the way to St. John's, and now it was my job to show them (you all) the way to heaven!

More info on St. Jean Vianney can be found at

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Remember Christian Soul

Thought I would share this with you, from a prayer book I was using this morning

Remember Christian Soul
That thou hast this day, and every day of thy life....

God to glorify
Jesus to imitate
A soul to save
A body to mortify
Sins to repent of
Virtues to acquire
Hell to avoid
Heaven to gain
Eternity to prepare for
Time to profit by
Neighbors to edify
The world to despise
Devils to combat
Passions to subdue
Death, perhaps, to suffer
Judgement to undergo

and I would add - All by Grace!

A wonderful TV distraction

So today, Andrew's baseball game was a forfeit..the other team didn't show up 'because it was too hot'. Of course, our whole team minus one (excused) was there. So we had a 4 inning scrimmage.

After getting the kids ready for bed, what did I discover but a MARX BROTHERS MOVIE MARATHON on Turner Classic Movies! I watched parts of At the Circus, Horsefeathers, and now Duck Soup. The boys appreciated the musical parts, but the dialogue is too fast and dated.
Jennifer has no interest, so we switched back and forth from Tiger Baseball (yes, I like the Marx Brothers Movies enough to miss a night of Tiger baseball (they won).

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Hitting for the cycle!

Congrats to Tiger shortstop Carlos Gullien for hitting for the cycle today v. the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The late Tuesday update of the Detroit Free Press on-line said this....

Carlos Guillen hit for the cycle and rookie Justin Verlander won his seventh consecutive decision to become the major leagues' first 14-game winner, leading the Detroit Tigers over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 10-4 on Tuesday night.

Guillen is the 10th Detroit player, and third since 1951, to complete the cycle. He had an RBI triple in the second, a solo homer in the third, a single in the sixth and a double in the eighth.

Today on sports-talk radio I heard someone say the Tigers weren't even going to make the playoffs because they lost on Monday to Tampa Bay. I wish the hosts would take the names of all such ridiculous callers so they can be shamed publicly in October (I am, of course, only kidding about the shaming part...)

Also, new first basemen Sean Casey had a homer, and recently called up (from Double A) outfielder Brent Clevlen hit his first two homers as a major leaguer!

Congrats to all! Go Tigers!

Another Hot One!

Another sizzling hot day here in Metro Detroit. As of 6pm we were one degree below the record high of 97, with a heat index of well over 100! Thankfully, I have this week off, and so I didn't have to 'put on the black' to go outside. And quite frankly, with it so hot, with the exception of a trip to the bank, most of the day was spent inside, in the A/C, doing projects around the house and playing with the kids!

Of course, with it so sunny and hot, the clothes on the line dried REALLY quickly...most within about 20 or 30 minutes of being put on the line!

Tomorrow - slightly cooler! various plans during the day, including Andrew's baseball game in the evening. We were going to go away this week, but Meg's fussiness in the car seat, combined with the impending vet bills for Harper's last surgery, made for a change in plans to stay local!