Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Pope Francis Prays for the Earthquake Victims in Central Italy-He Turns to the Rosary.......

I assume Pope Francis must have felt the earth shake as the terrible earthquake that hit central Italy in the middle of the night, was felt in Rome as well as other cities. Central Italian towns felt it the worst and have suffered devastation. It was a shallow earthquake, the worst kind. The hardest hit towns were the small towns of Amatrice, Accumoli, and Pescara del Tronto, about 62 miles (or further) northeast of Rome. The center of the small town of Amatrice was destroyed, and the people walked around in shock. So sad that the people there have suffered, some have died, others are grieving, others are confused and afraid. 
I've heard this before from priests, when there are no words, when one doesn't know what to do in the face of tragedy, the Rosary is a prayer that helps. That is probably why Pope Francis skipped his usual catechism for his Wednesday general audience and instead asked the pilgrims in St. Peter's Square to recite the Rosary. I remember years ago, a priest told a story that when the rectory where he was residing was faced with a tragic sudden loss, a rectory worker was killed in an accident, the Rosary consoled those who knew her, there were no other words that could help at that time. I remembered that story when I read that Pope Francis went to the Rosary to help heal and comfort and to pray for those who've lost loved ones and for the deceased.
NJA

Thursday, August 11, 2016

"Ben-Hur"-the 2016 Modern Version of the Classic

When I was a young girl my Aunt Mary who lived in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn picked me up in Old Mill Basin, Brooklyn where I lived and brought me to see the movie, "Ben-Hur." I don't recall exactly what it was about that movie but it changed my life. It was a very good movie as it won 11 Academy Awards, but something else struck me as a child.  Along with the children's Bible she bought me for a special occasion, it was the Bible and the movie that influenced me and started me on a lifelong love of Christianity and most importantly a deep relationship with God.
I always tell my aunt that she gave me two important gifts, bringing me to see that movie and buying me that Bible. My mother would read me a Bible story each night before I went to bed, or I would read it later on to myself.  I still have that Bible. It is a treasured piece of my faith history.
Tonight I watched a segment of "The World Over" on EWTN. Raymond Arroyo, the host of the show interviewed Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, the married power couple, who have produced the Emmy-nominated series, "The Bible" as well as "The Dovekeepers" and the movie, "Son of God."
On August 19th MGM and Paramount will bring the latest movie for them to work on to theaters- a modern remake of "Ben-Hur."
I hope and pray the modern version of "Ben-Hur" will have a positive impact on audiences as the first movie had on me.
NJA




Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Summer Reading For the Soul-"God's Mercy Revealed".........

I've just finished leading and participating in a Summer Book Club in my parish. All the participants gained a lot from the two books we read this summer, as part of our summer reading.  The first book I've mentioned in another blog entry - a biography of St. Catherine of Siena. The next book we read was also worth reading, "God's Mercy Revealed-Healing for a Broken World" by Msgr. Peter Magee. Though it was difficult to get the book, ( I imagine a lot of parish groups must be reading it), we finally managed to get some copies at Barnes and Nobles Marketplace online, at a reduced rate, which was good.
There was so much good information about Jesus, forgiveness and mercy and ideas to discuss in the book that it would be hard to summarize it but this will give you an idea of why you should consider reading this book, at some point....
"All living faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, is the only answer to the question of death, to the fear of death, to the culture of death. Faith is the only exit from the prospect of eternal nothingness, from idolatry in all its forms, from the enslaving demands of artificial self-sufficiency." (p.148)
The last line of the book is a quote from the Psalms.
"In Him mercy and truth have kissed."  (Psalm 85:10)
NJA


Friday, July 1, 2016

Immersed in St. Catherine of Siena in the Summertime

For some "light" summer reading, my parish Summer Book Club read the highly regarded and reviewed biography titled, "St. Catherine of Siena," by Sigrid Undset. Sigrid Undset was an expert on the Middle Ages as well as a Third Order Dominican.  The author is considered one of the "greatest novelists of the twentieth century." She won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1928 for her epic work, "Kristin Lavransdatter."
So during the month of June, a group of us, read, studied and discussed St. Catherine of Siena as portrayed by Undset. I had studied St. Catherine before but that was many years ago and I wanted to revisit the fascinating life and writings of this extraordinary saint and Doctor of the Church.
Catherine as you may know was instrumental in convincing the French Pope- Pope Gregory XI to leave Avignon, France where he was living. She implored him through letters and eventually visited him to convince him the papacy belonged in Rome. It seems he feared he would go to hell (she was very convincing!) if he didn't listen to this bold Dominican, who was revered in her own day for her saintliness and inspired judgment. 
The book was excellent but this was one of my favorite paragraphs in the book,
"On September 13, a day or two after Catherine had started on her journey to Italy, Gregory left Avignon--forever. He had taken Catherine's advice and left suddenly, taking all the Cardinals, except six. The French Cardinals in his retinue wept and his relations who remained behind wailed and lamented. The Pope's old father, knelt at the city gates, in despair at the departure of his son. Pope Gregory passed him without a word......." (page 212).
Pope Gregory must of believed that it was much better to head back to Rome and try to heal that city and the Church,  then to spend eternity in Hell as Catherine had hinted to.
Catherine was an amazing woman saint, for any age, and I highly suggest this book.
NJA

Monday, June 13, 2016

Year of Mercy Committee Visits St. Pius X Residence on Long Island

The pastor of my parish asked Fr. Jude Dioka to form a Year of Mercy Committee to help all parishioners better understand, "unpack" and act upon ways to show mercy, in the Great Jubilee Year of Mercy declared by Pope Francis.  The late Msgr. John McCann, who I greatly respected, suggested that I be one of those members.
On Saturday evening June 4th a group of us visited, prayed with and had dinner with the elderly, retired priests of St. Pius X Residence, located on the grounds of Dominican Village, in Amityville, Long Island. We met the retired priests in their chapel and Fr. Jude led us in reciting the Rosary. Fr.Jude prayed on his knees (on the floor of the chapel) for the entire Rosary which impressed me.Afterwards we went into the dining room to have dinner with the priests. We had catered the dinner of delicious food, but I thought since it was the Year of Mercy I would do something special,  so I made 40 rice balls which is my Italian specialty dish and brought them along. They enjoyed them and all the other food, as well as the delicious ice cream cake that Catherine (the chairperson of the committee) picked up at Carvel and brought to the residence. It's their favorite.
Msgr. Thomas Costa was very grateful for our visit, he said we had lifted up the spirits of the priests, including himself. He told me a little about his "call" to work with the elderly priests, he is a registered nurse.  It was a great story of God leading him where he was most needed.  It was a wonderful evening and a concrete way we were able to share and show mercy and kindness to the elderly priests who reside at St. Pius X Residence. 
NJA

Monday, May 30, 2016

Celebrities Love Pope Francis And His Educational Foundation!

The latest A-list movie star to visit Pope Francis at the Vatican was George Clooney. He brought along his wife Amal, who is a human rights lawyer. They both shook hands with the Pope and exchanged warm greetings. George Clooney received an award as well for work he is doing for the Pope's educational foundation. It seems like visiting the Pope is the latest celebrity "must-have meeting." Leo DiCaprio visited the Pope with his father some months ago and then won an Oscar afterwards. Seems like the Pope brought him good luck and blessings.
George is involved with "Scholas Occurrentes" an arts organization founded by Pope Francis. The educational organization brings together children from different areas, hoping to bring about cooperation and understanding.
George was given an award on Sunday and Richard Gere and Salma Hayek were also honored and met the Pope as well.
DiCaprio, George Clooney, Salma Hayek and Richard Gere join other A-listers who have met the Pope such as Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Hudson and Mark Wahlberg. I'm sure there have been others.
So it seems A-list movie stars like Pope Francis and want to get close to him. But they also want to help which is a good thing.
NJA

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Women Deacons Would Invigorate the Church!

 I have long thought that ordaining women as deacons would invigorate the Catholic Church, make women feel more appreciated and give them an opportunity to share their many gifts for the good of the Church and the faithful.
It's a no- brainer as far as I'm concerned. According to news reports, Pope Francis has agreed to set up a Vatican commission to study the possibility of ordaining women to the diaconate.
Some pessimists think that not much will come of the commission as there are bishops and cardinals opposed to the idea, but I think that would be a missed opportunity.
It's no secret that young people are straying away from the Church. This is one area that upsets them for sure. They don't like the fact that the Church is not more inclusive.
The diaconate would have to be seperated from the priesthood since it is tied to the diaconate but I'm sure that could be worked out. I know that because years ago I wrote to an archbishop asking why women couldn't be ordained deacons, as was the case in the early Church. He wrote back to me that because the diaconate is tied to priesthood that presented a problem but that he was in favor of women deacons (that was over 20 years ago).
The Church has to move forward in the modern world. This would be a good step in the right direction. Young adults need to take a second look at the Church and if the Church started ordaining women as deacons, I'm confident that many young people would see that as a positive development.
The Church should not debate this for 10 years....the new evangelization calls us to think outside the box, to preach the message of Christ to the modern world, which desperately needs to hear it.
I pray the movement of the Holy Spirit, causes this Vatican Commission to be open to God's will, to do what is necessary to open the doors to Christ and Christ's teaching, through utilizing the many gifts of talented and holy women.
NJA