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​Ferndale, MI 48220

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Monday, November 18, 2013


Curious about the Amish Lifestyle? A lot of people are. Could it be the way Amish dress? Macy's  doesn't offer these garments.  They are simple. Rugged. Non-designer. Humble. Provides less opportunity for vanity.

Maybe it's they way Amish commute: horse and buggy. As an animal lover, that would suit me just fine.

Is it the way they eat? Sure they have chips and snacks. But, for the most part it's pretty darn wholesome. Even their canning is “clean”.

Did you know that Amish women believe in covering their head during the day? Frequently they wear bonnets with ribbons and that is because it is to honor God.

Their lifestyle is so different from ours. While we live such hectic lives, they have a different rhythm. I have great respect for these people because they haven't sold out. They stick to their Old World ways. They worship. They work. Everything they do is a prayer. Is that what we do?

I am Roman Catholic and try to attend daily mass, which is very tough. Yet, these people are always praying. Typically, their churches are in their homes every other week or so. About 5 hours on backless benches, categorically educated by gender, age and marital status. Could you imagine if Catholics had to stay in mass for 5 hours on backless pews? Won't happen at my church as peeps glance at their watches and phones because something else is more powerful – the bing, ding & ring. Why is it so hard to give that hour to God? I seriously doubt if folks would attend mass if it lasted 5 hours! Would I?

Again, clothing does make a difference. Catholic Sisters when dressed in a habit whether modified or Traditional garner so much more respect. Priests sporting Roman collars are frequently seen in Ferndale.  It amazes me the nods and requests for blessings that people want from these men in black.  Police in their blues really get the best-behavior attention. And when military are in their fatigues or uniforms, we frequently pay for their meals. Yes, clothing does matter.  And Amish already know that.

Yeah, the cap, dress and beards show a different kind of respect. Face it. We admire these people because they give it all they've got.  And that's what we admire ... elbow grease across the board.  We

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


This is present all year long. 
The snow in the metro-Detroit area put us in the spirit of Christmas. People seem ready, but for what?

 I don't know when it began, but Merry Christmas turned into Happy Holidays. Nativities, once plentiful, are now in front of only some churches.  

On the other hand, retailers have been pushing merchandise for Christmas under the guise of shopping for the "holidays." Everything used to be closed on Christmas Day, not anymore.

Except people are calling Christmas everything but, unless they are in Church.

It's time to change the meaning of Christmas and call it what it is: The Birth of Jesus Christ. The commercialism of Christmas is downright disgusting -- it's more like the birth of this year's bottom line. Christmas trees and ornaments are now on display in major box stores prior to Halloween (another Catholic Holy-day turned upside down) and it shoved down our throats.

In the spell of hectic and distracted living, let's remember that we are preparing for His coming and give different kinds of gifts.  

  •  Let's have kind words for each other
  • Say empowering things to people you see daily. A little encouragement certainly helps pep up when exhausted
  • The beggar by the ramp of the expressway ... is giving a buck really gonna kill you? It's a myth about these people making a lot of money.  
  • Are the beatitudes passe'?  Check out visiting the forgotten; those in psych wards who have no one, lonely soldiers in the VA Hospital, children who are in orphanages without a loving family. My mother was thrust in an orphanage at age 3 when her mama died and her father didn't want her. Can you even imagine how scary that is for a child? 

These are just some ideas. Decide what is right for you. After all the good you do comes back in spades. And say often: Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 11, 2013


Escaping from East Germany under the  Iron Curtain was no easy feat. Not being shot  and making it to the other side was a miracle.

"You can't imagine what living under communism was like," said Mr. H.  "You can't imagine what it's like to be hungry. I escaped. To this day, I have dreams about being shot in the back.There were no marines to help us. We were under the Iron Curtain."

Guided by angels, Mr. H is a renowned artist and designer who speaks English with a most delightful German accent, and one that I just love to imitate, 'I sink!'  when he means "I think." He told me what it like to live under the watchful eye of the Russian soldiers and then under the vindictive auspices of the East German soldiers.

Apparently it was miraculous that the Ruske soldiers were as lenient as they were considering the way that the Nazi's invaded Russia and killed thousands for the merest action if it disagreed with the soldier of the day.  The East German soldiers were worse and shot to kill, Mr. H said. They were snipers.  If a civilian tried to escape and was shot, the body was left where it was to teach others a lesson.

East Germany under communism was a tough place to live.  The border guards were carefully chosen. If there were dissenting family members or relatives in West Germany they were ineligible to be part of the 'Grenztruppen.' The unit was filled with informers looking for evidence of people trying to plan escapes, some which made it into Life and Look magazines.

In the 1970s, I frequently traveled to Berlin. While there, the U-Bahn traveled through East Germany --an unpleasant trip. No matter how often I rode through the East German Zone, the travelers all reacted the same way, silence, no fidgeting and eyes down. Knowing how free I was, and how limited they were was a sinking feeling. The guards looked scary. I was so glad to be back in W.Berlin.

Eventually, I discussed this with my favorite U.S.soldier Tom Graetz, a lifelong friend who introduced me to pilots and showed me roundabout ways to get to and from Europe for extremely discounted rates.  Very bold moves when I look back, but at the time, it was a cakewalk once I knew the lingo. Can't do stuff like that now, but 30+ years ago, it was fun and exciting especially for my heavy wanderlust streak.  My soldier Tom would try to speak German and I would laugh because he screwed up the tenses.  But, he tried.  

I heartily miss Tom, the crazy hot Pad Thai we'd eat as we'd sweat like useless Polish pigs stuck in a cranky pepper ditch, the Shacklee products that Tom thought I needed, the great beer he "forced" on me at Dragonmead.  Tom's gone now. But we were there for each other through thick and thin, midnight confessions,  and to the end. When Tom wound up in the hospital for the umpteenth time, I had the unpleasant task (careful about signing up to be the end-of-life contact) of telling him that he had 6 months left if that and that it would be spent on his back never leaving the bed. Or, he could leave the planet. It took 3 tries for the words to leave my mouth. He looked at me and made his decision in a split second.

Courageously, he chose to die and did so in less than 6 hours. His final words to me: Kick shit and don't let 'em shoot you in the back. I'll see you on the plane. You know which one."

Saturday, November 9, 2013


Veterans hold a very special place in my life. One of honor. No matter the war, we must remember what these people went through for their very beliefs.  

And here we sit, watching the same old junk on the tube, being distracted by every ring, ping and ding on our cell phones, or not really looking at those crazy ball caps that a lot of folks are wearing.  

You know the ones: most say VFW, Veteran of the Korean War, Vietnam (God forbid that hateful, crazy Asian War), or the new battles that our warriors fight in the Middle East.  WW2 vets are a dying breed. 

Growing up, I was taught to be very respectful of people who served in our military, and that included those who fought in all wars. Saluting and thanking was just part of the fabric of my being and still is to this day. 

A month ago, as I was leaving my local post office, an old geezer held the door for me. (Of course I eat up the hold-the-door-thingee with a spoon). He wore his VFW cap, and something made me stop and strike up a conversation. All I said was, "what a war that was. Thank you for serving." We stood there at the door while he let it spill: how he was captured, how he was marched and the POW Camp. I got that he couldn't get the "it" of War out of his system. We were there for 45 minutes.  I understood that he probably suffered from PST, something my father suffered from and his screams for years woke us all up regularly. He passed it off as the dog grabbing his big ole' honkin' schnoz, which he joked about being Polish and proud. It was no joke. 

The geezer just kept talking. And my errands no longer mattered because this man felt comfortable enough with me to tell me his life's story -- remarkable indeed. 

So few really take the time to thank a vet. This particular window does. It shows men in Khaki uniforms ala WW1  serving in the armed Forces and to the nuns and nurses who cared for them on the battlefields. At the right of the scene are soldiers and sailors arriving on shore, bearing the American flag and supporting the wounded. To the left are other soldiers and a Sister of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul tending a fallen nurse. Behind them St. Mary looks upward toward figures of Christ and attending angels. It's one of the few in America that does the thanking. Funny, it was made in Tyrol, Austria. 

On November 12,  the St. Jane Frances de Chantal Parish, Sterling Heights,  will host a special mass honoring veterans and military service members at 7 pm.  The VFW Color Guard from Post 7473 will present colors.  A reception will follow. Try to  attend if you can. Or, any service that honors our military. 

Let's just  take a little minute to know that 3 years after the Civil War ended, that Decoration Day was established as a way to remember those who served in the most bloody war in our history. Still, to this day, more men died in the Civil War than in all the wars Americans served in to the present.  

Of course, my most favorite (and most handsome by far) General Grant (and most loved two-termed President) presided over the ceremony.  General Grant really understood what the soldiers went through. In fact, when he and General Lee met at Appomattox,  Gen. Grant made sure that the men turned in their weapons and were well fed. Did you know that most didn't have shoes?  General Grant was so saddened by the circumstances that he and Gen. Lee chit chatted about their serving together in the  Mexican-American War until Gen. Lee had to start the the "give up" of the South. Then,  General Grant fed the starving men and sent them home in time for spring planting. Gen. Lee was so touched that afterwards he would not ever allow anyone to say anything negative about General Grant, who  took no prisoners.  In short, he was a Mensch. He was the "dude."

Again, it's not just Veterans Day, but it is a time to remember ALL of America's warriors, our soldiers who left home, and who saw things that lived on in their heads that we could never imagine.  We need to pray for our veterans, especially for those who return without limbs, for those who wound up in psych wards, for those who end their lives.  

When you see those baseball caps announcing a VFW Hall or a War, stop and thank a vet. You'll be surprised at what you'll hear. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013


This is probably my final post about my experience with the Latin Mass during All Soul's Day.
There was so much that went on for me and it is still happening. The reverence of the day is still overwhelming me.  Clearly something within me changed, and I like it.

Now, as an event planner, I know just how much work was involved in putting on the Traditional Latin Mass at St. Hugo's Stone Church by the Oakland County Latin Mass Association. On Facebook they asked that those who attended write a thank you note to Monsignor Tocco because he let the Stone Chapel be the venue.  And please, let him know that you are grateful that he permitted the mass on his premises. I know of another Monsignor who would never allow a Traditional Latin Mass in his Church. EVER.  That's why it's so important to thank Monsignor Tocco-- SO WE CAN DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN. 

Besides, maybe Mr. Wassim Serwah will conduct Schubert's Mass in G Major, which showcases quite the devotional mood.  And, if I may say, Monsignor Tocco definitely understands music.  After all, the renowned pianist, James Tocco, is a relation. It bears noting that his playing is superb. 

And finally, it would just be so totally awesome, if another Traditional Latin Mass could be held at the Stone Chapel as those who attended know. 

So the bottom line is that I never expected to be so revved by this experience. I thought I was going to hear some really cool Mozart and go to Mass. Boy, was I ever wrong. 

Thank you notes are really important so that people who do wonderful things understand the difference that it made. Here is the note that I sent to the Monsignor.  Please write one of your own. Let's jam his mailbox in a good way.

Dear Monsignor Tocco,

With hearty gratitude I thank you so much for allowing the Oakland County Latin Mass Association to  hold the Traditional Latin Mass at  St. Hugo's Stone Chapel on All Soul's Day Nov. 2, 2013. 

The Chapel was the ideal location for the High Solemn Latin Mass paired with Mozart's Requiem conducted by Wassim Serwah, concert master  for Church of the Assumption Latin Mass, Windsor, Ontario, Canada. His musical direction was awesome.  Mozart's Requiem is no easy piece but together with the Latin as it was intended, it was powerful and invoked deep feelings of prayerful inspiration.  You know, the Chapel lent so much to the very sacredness of the Mass.  But, you must hear this a lot. 

The entire afternoon was such a sensational experience; between the language, the music, and the rituals, the Latin Mass invoked a reverence among the congregants, which was so obviously noticeable.  Monsignor you could hear a pin drop.  The sacrifice of the mass was outstanding. Clearly, we were so respectful. 

I can't stop thinking about the way I felt, how the Latin Mass transformed me.  Something changed.  Truly, it was a life altering experience. Besides, I can't stop blogging and talking about it. 

Again, I appreciate your permitting this type of mass at the Chapel. 

As cheesy as it sounds Monsignor, it was such a totally awesome experience for me.  It made such a gigantic change in my life.     

Best ,

Rose Szwed

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Call it my rediscovery of Catholic tradition;  I am still waxing over the Traditional Latin Mass that I witnessed Between the language, the music, and the rituals it becomes obvious that a great miracle is taking place. There is something sacred about our so-called "dead" Latin mass tradition.  A specialness happened on Saturday, Nov. 2, All Soul's Day at St. Hugo's Stone Chapel.   

The experience of that mass is so much more though, and quite indescribable than the regular masses I've been attending.  Everything about the Traditional Latin mass contributed to the profundity of my entire afternoon -- Mozart's Requiem, the language, the priests, the vestments, candles. Something so poignant that now I want more of  it -- of the deep feeling that I am still carrying with me.  And, I am learning, am not the only one. 

The Traditional Latin Mass feels, the key word,  so much more spiritual than the Norvus Ordo mass that is celebrated on Sundays.  At the Traditional Latin Mass, are the prayers so much more directed to and at God? I don't know. But I do know that I left that place a different woman. I had to concentrate more.  To think more. Did THAT make me feel more connected to God? I really don't know, but something did happen -- a spiritual awakening. 

Maybe it was the silence and deep respect that other's demonstrated compared to the noise of the "new" mass. Could have been the reverent procession to Holy Communion to receive the sacred host on my tongue?  Maybe it was the Latin. Even though I needed to be tutored in high school, Latin was so enjoyable - like a secret language. As an adult, I finally learned Latin by reading Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, which nudged me to learn Latin  faster by making a comparison to other languages I knew, German and Italian. Something clicked and learning Latin became so much more fun. 

Today a dear friend of mine invited me to dinner at the Coney Island where we sometimes meet after work to chit chat and to catch up. In fact, she is the one who suggested that I join a Church, which I never did since I unwilling left my parent's home at age 28.  Lately, with my hectic schedule,  mass for me could be anywhere in Michigan. Often it is as the internet provides a convenient mass schedule listing.  I'm glad I joined the parish I did. Close to home. Different. Nice.

Yet, I looked forward to telling her about my feelings toward the Traditional Latin Mass. She totally agreed with me. "Yes, it is more reverent." 

Because of her gift to me, a subscription of the Michigan Catholic, I learned about the Tridentine Mass on Nov. 2 through an ad, which I clipped and then totally forgot about it. Somehow, on Facebook I friended the Oakland Country Traditional Latin Mass Association, and am so grateful that I did.  This has been a tough year for me. A business slump. Deaths. Dashed hopes. Something was missing in my life, and for quite a while. The awful experience of my dark night of the soul has finally passed on Nov. 2. I feel that something so truly amazing occurred that removed the loss of God in my life. Again, that incredible lightness of being! 

So, not that it is wrong, but the Mass I experience in my local parish, seems so totally different than the Solemn High Mass on Nov. 2.  Both are important. Again, a Traditional Latin Mass is not for everyone. But it is for me. This type of mass enriched my life.  It's more than a feeling.  So much more. 


Sunday, November 3, 2013


Some people believe that languages like Latin, Olde English and ancient Greek are dead. If that were really true, attorneys, archaeologists, medical people, writers, universities and seminarians of many religions would be out of business. Ancient Hebrew is still used to this day as young people make their bar and bas mitzvahs.

There is something about these so-called dead languages that inspire respect and solemnity. THAT was proven yesterday at  The St. Hugo Stone Chapel, in Bloomfield Hills, hosted by the Oakland County Latin Mass Association, a magnum on its own and tirelessly created by a few individuals for the benefit of many. Excellent work. The place was packed with folks seeking this extraordinary devotion.

This Latin Mass form was used for 1,500 centuries until Vatican 2 when everything changed in the early 1960s, and also, sadly, when many stopped attending and contributing to the coffers.  Pope Benedict realized that people want the Extraordinary form of the mass and gave us his blessing of approval.  Each of the congregants received a Latin-English Booklet Missal to follow along.

The High Mass yesterday was solemn and respectful, which one could hear in the congregation as there was minimal fidgeting and talking, except for the occasional cry of an infant. Some women wore the traditional mantillas, men wore suits. Almost all were respectfully dressed.

Two priests and a deacon officiated at the Sacrifice, a pre-Vatican 2 mass complete with the appropriate lit candles, vestments, altar boys, music, altar, language and there was even a casket to symbolize the departed.

Perhaps I go to these masses for all the wrong reasons, the tradition of the mass itself along with the music, incense, taking communion while kneeling at the altar, and again, the extreme solemnity that automatically commands deep respect. One could not avoid feeling the deep presence of the Divine within the soul. I loved every minute of it as I felt the balm wax over my being bringing calmness and an incredible level of sublime peace.  Yes, that lightness of being, to steal a phrase.

The youthful men behind us, probably teenagers but maybe not as everyone looks so young to me, totally knew their Latin and what it meant as it was obvious by their responses. So did many in the congregation. A lot of young people were present.

I learned that the number of Traditional Latin Masses in America has steadily increases to over 400+ in over 120 U.S. Dioceses according to May 2011 stats.  Even the Pope tweets daily in Latin and has thousands of followers. Guess the age of the tweeters!

Of course, the musical undertaking was beautiful. Mr. Sarweh's concert direction was awe inspiring as he took on this gigantic work created by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who was so young when he wrote this masterpiece, which shows his deep respect for the Catholic church. The singers were excellent. Mr. Sarweh did an outstanding job. Kudos.

I left feeling at peace and cleansed. In fact, this Latin Mass gives me even more respect for the "regular" Catholic mass celebrated by my parish priest and the Jesuits when I attend their masses.  Many, many thanks to the Oakland County Latin Mass Association for their tireless efforts to bring this experience to fruition.

Just to wrap up, Latin was the common denominator then and it still holds the Catholic Church together. For this I say, Amen - an ancient Hebrew word adopted by the Catholic Church as the concluding prayer. Hmm.

Friday, November 1, 2013


Along w/sacred music is sacred art. 
Of course, I am so revved up  about tomorrow's Sacred Music Concert, Mozart's Requiem, & Traditional Latin Mass that concentration on "heavy duty" matters is so out the window right now. Today is about much needed organizing and responding to emails that fills my day at the office in fashionable Ferndale.

The Requiem is the most important piece of music to me and I have been known to travel a couple of hundred miles just to hear it, well, depending on the conductor, that is.

I just can't wait to hear what Wassim Sarweh brings to the Requiem with his vigor,enthusiasm and background. I am wondering if he is a Copt and if the rich heritage will filter into his interpretations. I sure hope so. Currently, Mr. Sarweh is the concertmaster for Church of the Assumption Latin Mass, Windsor, Ontario, Canada. I understand that he is a heck of a tenor and brings an awesome approach to music. Find out more about him here:

Sacred music events are not only inspiring but a terrific way to learn about the composer and his role in the Catholic Church, not to mention the Conductor.  It's a way to connect with others who have similar interests. It's something for me, something that I totally enjoy. I've been listening to sacred music all of my life. I play it on the fiddle and piano. I sing it when I ride my bike in the hills of Lennon, MI, of course very breathy as I gasp for air. For me, nothing is more uplifting than making music with others. I am relieved that I am getting back into playing fiddle and piano again, that's a different story.

Typically, I listen to masses, cantata's and hymns at home and at work when Susan isn't here because then we would have a raucous disagreement about the loudness of music, our singing voices and, well, who's on first and is it okay to sway and move to the music as it is sacred.

At home it's a different story. I blast the Kyrie from my little Bose CD player and sing Christi Elision from the soles of my feet. In the car, it's even louder. When friends visit, I hear the following:

Why are you listening to the Catholic junk? Turn on something more ..... insert your own word here. Followed by: Let the cats out. Why are they eating there? They shouldn't eat there. Get rid of the dog.  Why are the animals sitting on the furniture? Why is that religious art there?  Just what is this book that you are reading about the early Christianities?  

Needless to say, I am very careful lately about who I allow in my house and in my life.
 In the meantime, I am dedicated to moving stuff off my desk today, making decisions about what to do with papers I shuffle and calls to make on Monday so I can truly free my mind to listen and concentrate on what I will hear tomorrow afternoon.  I have a distinct feeling that Mr. Sarweh will not disappoint and that he will infuse the Requiem with a flavorful energy . What an honor we have in our midst!

Traditional Latin Masses and sacred classical music may not for everyone. But for those who breathe in the depths, majesty and tonal colors, it's "it" for me.  And, for my friends, too, as we look forward to breaking bread afterwards. Feel free to join us. See you tomorrow.

:Here are the deets:

MOZART'S REQUIEM MASS in D Minor will be sung by the Choir of the St. Benedict Tridentine Community at Assumption Church, Windsor, Canada, under the direction of Wassim Sarweh, to accompany Solemn High Mass in Extraordinary Form (Latin) for All Souls Day.

TIME: 4:00PM Saturday, November 2, 2013

LOCATION: The Stone Chapel, 2215 Opdyke Road, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

Admission is free.
— in Bloomfield Hills.