Saturday, October 14, 2017

My Spiritual Memoir

My book is finished, they are just putting the finishing touches on it. I'm self-publishing the book through Createspace. I felt that was the way to go. We'll see. It was a difficult book for me to write. It's taken many years because I kept procrastinating. It was difficult for me to write about my spiritual journey. The book is very self-reflective. Part of it tells about my childhood growing up on East 52nd Street in Brooklyn,  in the 1950's-'60's. I was a parishioner of Mary Queen of Heaven Church in Brooklyn and received First Holy Communion and my Confirmation there (along with my brother).  But interestingly when I was a young teenager, the pastor of Mary Queen of Heaven, made a surprising announcement at Sunday Mass.  All parishioners who lived within a certain boundary (which we did) would be moving to a new church that was being built in Marine Park, St. Columba Church. The new pastor of that church, Msgr. Edward Jolley was a wonderful priest and pastor and though the church wasn't built right away, he was going to celebrate Mass in a nightclub on Flatbush Ave. To a teenager that seemed very "cool."
When I finally finished my book in 2017, I didn't realize it was the 50th anniversary of St. Columba Church. I was reminded by Sr. Emily Masse who visited me one day, a couple of weeks ago. I worked with Sr. Emily at St. Columba Parish for many years and when she stopped by she told me about the 50th anniversary and then sent me a Tablet article written about it.
St. Columba is an amazing saint. I hope he is pleased with my book.
NJA
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts....(Isaiah 55:8-9)

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Hipsters and Young Adults in NYC Find Spirituality in Pentecostal Megachurch

According to a Patch article I read online, C3 Church Global is opening its 4th "city church" in Brooklyn, in a music school during October. C3 Church Global is a megachurch with 470 pentecostal parishes and hundreds of thousands of followers around the world. They are media savvy.
The church is not without controversy......."The megachurch rakes in millions of dollars annually and is led by a charismatic pastor from New Zealand with close ties to religious leaders with convictions for embezzling from their congregations."
But it seems young people from parts of hip Brooklyn and Manhattan don't mind the controversy, they are being "fed" spiritually and are led by "pastors with trendy haircuts who lead sermons that resemble rock concerts to hoards of hand-waving hipsters clad in fedoras and their best flannel shirts.
Oh well......what can the  Catholic Church do? The Catholic Church has a lot to offer people in every age group but how this megachurch made inroads in Brooklyn and other parts of NYC just like that, kind of puzzles me.
In Florida, I know of a Catholic pastor who goes "undercover" to Protestant megachurch services. He wants to see what's going on there, what they are doing and what the appeal is. He is sometimes recognized because he is a well known and very respected figure in the community. But he goes anyway and he learns a lot by observing and taking part in their services. I think its a great idea. He has a massive building campaign going on right now, he's building a huge community center, in his parish, with a cafe in it, among other modern amenities. He probably saw something similar in the megachurch he visited.
Well, maybe that's what religious educators, evangelizers and pastors should do in Brooklyn and the Archdiocese of New York.  Go to the prayer services being held at these megachurches and find out what hipsters and young adults find so appealing and why they are compelled to go on Sundays to a megachurch. The Catholic Church has to start thinking out-of-the-box.....Now!
NJA


Monday, September 18, 2017

More Out-of-the Box Ideas for Evangelizing Young Adults Needed Everywhere

UPDATED FROM LAST ENTRY-SEE BELOW

I  read this weekend on AOL of mega churches evangelizing to young people and holding Sunday morning services in rented music venues in Williamsburg, Bushwick (Brooklyn) and the Lower East Side of Manhattan. More missed opportunities for the Church. Very frustrating for those of us who love the Church. Certainly the Church in Brooklyn and the Archdiocese can do something for young adults to evangelize them and give them uplifting, Spirit-filled Masses and/or weekend prayer services which appeal to them.......and the modern, technological world they are so a part of.


UPDATE: If you happened to read the blog entry on my friend's disappointment on what her grandson was being offered after he received his First Communion regarding CCD instruction, she didn't have all the facts (how surprising!).. she didn't have all the particulars and though there wouldn't be regular, weekly CCD classes there will be some form of communal instruction offered on a weekend for those not in regular classes......so if anyone read the post, which I have since deleted I apologize as I was not given all the correct information. I still believe that young children, actually children of all ages, should be given children's Bible study and an opportunity to read the Bible and discuss it with their families. That would bear much "fruit" in my humble opinion.  NJA

"If Catholics in the U.S. are going to be healers of our wounded culture, we"re going to have to learn to see the world through lenses ground by biblical faith. That form of depth perception only comes from an immersion in the Bible itself." (George Weigel- Tablet article- 5/21/16)

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary and My Creative Spirit

I pray on this Feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary that people in the Caribbean who are suffering because of catastrophic damage from Hurricane Irma and people in the Southeastern U.S., who are living without electricity and some with damaged homes, will quickly find hope, help and relief.
This feast of Mary began in Spain in 1513. The holy name of Mary is powerful because Mary is the Mother of God and has a special motherly bond with Jesus. Mary is the holy, receptive vessel which brought forth the Christ-child into the world. Her purity, holiness and goodness was the perfect channel for God. Richard of St. Laurence wrote, "There is not such powerful help in any name, nor is there any other name given to men, after that of Jesus, from which so much salvation is poured forth upon us, as from the name of Mary."

It is on this day, a few days after the Nativity of Mary, that I finally completed my book. A book years in the writing, a book that was difficult for me to write, but I did it anyway. I am self-publishing the book because at this time, in modern history, I can do that. It makes it easier for me, though more costly, since I needed some help with the formatting and cover etc. It will be published through CreateSpace.
 I edited it myself which was tedious. It is taking some courage to have this published. It's about my spiritual journey.  In a few weeks, hopefully, I will have a completed copy in my hands and it will be available on Amazon. I was born on the Nativity of Mary and so it is fitting it would be finished in the month of September. The book is entrusted to Mary, under her title of "Our Lady of Mt. Carmel."
NJA

Monday, August 28, 2017

Catastrophe in South Texas-Turns "Hellish" in Texas

The catastrophic flooding and destruction in South Texas from Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath is heartbreaking.  The images of people being rescued from their flooded homes or on top of cars are horrific.  People leaving their flooded homes with one or two bags or nothing, running for their lives from a freak, horrific hurricane, that swirls on and on. Worse than that, some people have sadly died. It's like a never ending nightmare for the people of Houston. When you hear expert meteorologists saying the words 'unprecedented, unusual, the worst its ever been, historic', it should be a wake-up call. Hell is suppose to be filled with fire and demons, but in this case, a "hellish" event is filled with water, falling from the sky in record-breaking amounts. Meteorologists, shaking their heads in disbelief, is not a good sign.

Many years ago I read that climate scientists believe that because of global warming, some parts of the world will experience drought while others will have increased rain. Oh and then there are the storms. They predict more frequent, more intense storms and hurricanes from the warming of the oceans or in this case, the Gulf of Mexico.
I feel compassion for the people of Texas, no one should have to go through what they are going through.
Sometimes a thought enters my head that upsets me. (I do think too much!) What if we are screwing up the earth's atmosphere so much that there is no turning back? I think it's called the tipping point and climate scientists have brought up the idea.  At some point we could destroy the earth's ecological balance to the point of no return. And what if, at that point even God doesn't intervene. What if it just unfolds, just like this hellish nightmare is unfolding in Texas, because God's beautiful creation wasn't cared for, appreciated or respected by human beings.
Christians are suppose to be people of hope. But August wasn't a good month for me, or for others. I can't wait for it to be over.
NJA

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

My "Summer of Hell"

Well unfortunately, it turned out to be the "Summer of Hell," for me. Of course that term was coined to express mass transit delays for NYC transit, because of train and station repairs and I thought when I first heard it, that's very negative. Well, I didn't think it would affect me personally, since I don't commute daily.  And for the first half of my summer, all was well. And then out of nowhere, bad news came. Everyone is OK but I don't like dealing with a crisis but there it was. My son was suppose to get married in two weeks but the wedding was postponed, just like that. One day all was well, plans were going great, the Church was set, the priest was wonderful who would preside, the reception and everything seemed splendid, until it wasn't. Just like that a crisis. The "Summer of Hell" unfolded.
Well, this is why I pray, why I belong to a prayer group and have friends and family members who pray for me and my family. Because out of nowhere, problems can surface, in a moment. Just when everything seems fine, it's not.
I can't imagine life without prayer. I wouldn't survive it. There is just too much uncertainty in life.
So I pray for my son, for the nice girl he was going to marry and pray that everything unfolds from here according to God's plan. It's in God's hands now.
But I would have preferred a nicer, calmer summer. I didn't want all this drama. Of course people have it worse and I hate to even complain.  My relationship with God is always the anchor in my life. Thank God for that! My prayer life is always there to save me, for whatever unexpected things happen.
NJA

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Warning from the "Benedict Option" Unfolding in Real Time

In my last blog post I asked if Rod Dreher's book, "The Benedict Option," was too dire. I still don't know the answer to that but a question that haunts me is, "Do young people feel they need God or religious services or Mass?" I would hope they do. I certainly do, but young people have grown up in a different world and that world is changing quickly and drastically. Young people certainly need their smartphones, they can't live without them. I think of the strange cases I've read in the news.  A young woman who was recently electrocuted in the bathtub while charging her phone, while using an electrical cord. Sadly she died. Or teenagers who have thrown fits if their parents take away their phones even for a short time. Other young people have jumped into rivers trying to retrieve their phones. It's a crazy world. And no one can predict where it's all going.

Rod Dreher predicts that unless something changes, our churches will suffer greatly in the future. Yesterday in the New York Times was an article entitled, "Eighteen Shuttered Catholic Churches May Soon Be Up For Sale," by Luis Ferre-Sadurni. It tells of the deconsecration of churches in the Archdiocese of New York, churches that were closed in 2015. "Fifteen of the churches were closed in 2015, when the archdiocese consolidated more than 140 parishes and closed nearly 40 churches. Ten of the 18 deconsecrated churches are in Manhattan, three are in Westchester, two are in Duchess County, two in the Bronx and one is in Sullivan County." Some of the churches might be sold to make way for luxury apartment houses or hotels, as has been done in the past. Manhattan real estate especially, is very valuable. It is estimated that the property that St. Elizabeth of Hungary (UES of Manhattan) sits on is worth more than $25 million.
The revenues from sale of church property would go to the parish that owned it. It's still sad for parishioners who become very attached to their churches and many try to fight the closing.
But as dedicated, long time parishioners die, the reality is young people are not taking their place. If you go to Manhattan on a Sunday morning, you will see lines of young people waiting to have brunch,  some may have gone to Church beforehand but not enough.
NJA