Catholics in the Detroit area are celebrating the feast of one of its native sons, Bl. Solanus Casey. In a modern American city that has been built on what can be seen and worked with the hands, miracles still inspire people to look to the spiritual side of things.
His incorrupt body is available for veneration at the visitor center named after him, adjacent to the Capuchin Franciscan friary in the Mount Elliott neighborhood. Anybody can go and kneel at his resting place to pour out their hearts. Also, friar priests at the visitor center are available for confession all day, every day (except Sundays).
Casey was born in Wisconsin in 1870. Given the name "Bernard" by his parents, he worked on the family farm and afterward worked as a prison guard, lumberjack and trolly operator.
His years as a young man were marked by many personal setbacks. His effort to explore if he was called to married life ended in frustration. After witnessing a woman getting stabbed to death, he turned his gaze towards God. But even there he faced what felt like failure. He attended the seminary in Milwaukee but had a difficult time because classes were taught either in German or Latin.
He was advised to seek out a religious order to join to determine if that was his calling. It would mean, however, that if he was allowed to be ordained a priest, he might not be allowed to preach or give counsel in the confessional.
When praying about the matter, he heard Our Lady tell him, "Go to Detroit," and that's where Bernard found his calling.
He went to the Capuchin friars in Detroit and was accepted and given the religious name "Solanus" after St. Francis Solano; he was ordained a priest in 1904. Besides being unable to publicly say Mass, he could not preach or hear confession — a status called being a simplex priest.
On top of that, he was selected to have one of the lowliest jobs — answering the door and speaking to those who asked for help.
It was in this way that God showed His sense of humor and that He truly has better things in store for each of us than we can ever imagine for ourselves.
Later on, Casey would speak about worrying about the sorrows of a current situation, calling it "a weakness from which very few of us are entirely free. We must be on guard against this most insidious enemy of our peace of soul."
He continued, declaring, "Instead, let us foster confidence in God and thank Him ahead of time for whatever he chooses to send us."
As the friary's porter, Casey ended up speaking to many thousands of people, perhaps more than if he had been a regular priest. He listened to weeping mothers and out-of-work auto workers with compassion, reminding them to have confidence in God and accept with resignation whatever He chooses to send them.
He also taught them that no matter what apparent setbacks might happen in life, "We must be faithful to the present moment or we will frustrate the plan of God for our lives."
Learn more by watching The Download — "Go to Detroit."