Friday, October 7, 2016

Young People Leaving Organized Religion-The Perfect Modern Storm

Sadly, according to a new study, a quarter of Americans do not belong to any religion and many of them are young people. The Public Religion Research Institute published a study recently entitled, "Exodus: Why Americans are Leaving Religion-And Why They're Unlikely To Come Back."
The study shows that Americans are increasingly identifying as being "nones." Nearly 40 percent of those are between the ages of 18-29. More disturbing is that fact that the Catholic Church has the most that are leaving.
I've been suspicious for awhile that part of the problem is modern technology. Of course there is a lot that is good about modern technology and I certainly use it everyday and find it helpful and necessary. But I keep it in perspective and use it as a tool for study and learning as well as a way to communicate. But I suspect that because young people are constantly checking their Facebook page, their e-mails, text messages, Instagram, Twitter accounts etc., it is very time consuming.
In a NY Times article today titled, "Intimacy For the Avoidant," it quotes a British study which reported people check their phones on an average of 221 times a day-about every 4.3 minutes. I assume that's true though its hard to believe and I'm sure that number is higher for young people. How can there be time for reflection on life's big questions? How can there be time for God? Or time for prayer? Is the need for  God being replaced by cell phones, gadgets and computers. I'd hate to know the real answer to those questions. It's a bit scary.
As David Brooks wrote in the article, "A decade ago almost no one had a smartphone. Now the average American spends five and a half hours a day with digital media and the young spend far more time. A study of female students at Baylor University found that they spent 10 hours a day on their phones."
At a recent prayer group meeting, someone asked, "If people don't have a prayer life, what can they hold onto to? I replied, "Their iphones." We all laughed but there is some sad truth to it.

UPDATED on Saturday morning..... I realized the above entry is too might be true to some extent but....Christians must always have a positive view.... we must have Christian hope....... and know in the words of Julian of Norwich that "All will be well." We should pray for young people that they will come to know the importance of a relationship with Jesus Christ and how it enriches one's life!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Beautiful Nuptial Mass at St. Peter's in Great Barrington, MA

My son was married last Saturday at St. Peter's Church in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. He married a wonderful girl whose family is active in the Catholic Church where they live in Westchester County. The married couple wanted to get married in the country which is why the wedding took place in Great Barrington. Having wedding receptions in barns is a big craze. And so it was, a reception in a large country barn that has been converted to a restaurant and wedding venue. It was lovely, it was a beautiful day. There was love in the air.....
Fr. William Murphy of St. Peter's and St. Teresa's officiated at the Mass. He gave a fantastic homily. He is a very nice priest, who just happens to have the same name as other prominent priests (Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Center). He told me he had his picture taken with Bishop Murphy as well as another priest named William Murphy. Fr. Murphy of Great Barrington is the pastor of two parishes and he is taking care of his elderly mother as well. A very good man!
All is well. One married son and one to go.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Mary's Birthday and the Great St. Teresa's

I consider it a great blessing that I was born on the same day that the Church celebrates the birth of Mary. I never knew it as a child, just never came up and when I did realize it as a teenager I was most appreciative to have such a wonderful day to celebrate my birthday. As I get older, birthdays are not quite as exciting as they once were, but time goes on......
September 8th was a special day in the life of Mary and also I would find out as an adult, that it was a very special day in the life of a saint I greatly love and admire- St. Therese of Lisieux (the Little Flower). She would profess her vows on September 8th and wed her "divine spouse." St. Therese took her vows so seriously that she sent out wedding invitations. Jesus was very real to Therese. She loved him deeply, the way we should all love God.
Another great Teresa was canonized on Sunday in St. Peter's Square. St. Teresa of Calcutta was a saint that lived in our lifetime, a modern saint who knew how to put "flesh and blood" on the gospel message. With the determination of a saint, she answered the "call within the call" as she called it, and went out into the slums of Calcutta and never looked back. She had such courage and single minded focus on her love for Christ and the poor.  The "dark night of the soul" she experienced did not stop her, nothing could stop her as she followed the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
May we all hear and follow the Spirit as Mary did, as St. Therese of Lisieux did and as the newest saint of the Church, St. Teresa of Calcutta did.

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.

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.

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)

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.