Sunday, April 5, 2020

"The World Kissing Its Own Darkness"- The Pandemic Continues Into Holy Week

"He said, write down the vision you had, and I wrote what I saw.
I saw the world kissing its own darkness.
It happened thus: I rose to meet the sunrise and suddenly over the hill
a horde appeared dragging a huge tarpaulin.
They covered unwary land and hapless city and all sweet water and fields.
And there was no surprise....."
Jessica Powers

When I read the poem, "The Vision" by Jessica Powers, I thought of the strange image I saw on TV of a temporary hospital that was set up in Central Park in NYC, to help treat coronavirus patients. Somehow the words, "I saw the world kissing its own darkness," and "a horde appeared dragging a huge tarpaulin," seemed to fit the scene in some absurd way.

These are trying times. A Holy Week to remember or maybe to forget. So much pain and suffering, loss, disappointment and death. No one deserves what happened. Families torn apart, people dying alone. Warrior-like doctors and nurses doing their best, in disbelief of what they're seeing and dealing with. Little did we know, when Lent began, that in this year 2020, there would be an assault from a deadly, evil, sneaky virus.
Will humankind learn from their errors? Will wet markets, throughout the world be closed to prevent future deadly viruses from leaping from animals to humans and causing havoc? I hope so. I pray this all ends soon and the world recovers and the world learns.
The economic fall out will be great, world economies may never look the same.
Uncharted territory.
As Christians, we have to maintain hope. In the Northeast, it is Spring.
NJA

Friday, March 27, 2020

Keep Your Immune System Strong During Pandemic-The Harshest Desert

While being prayerful and using this critical time to practice social distancing and some isolation, to do our part, remember the saints and other serious seekers of God, often went off by themselves and retreated or went within monasteries or convents to pray, to grow closer to God in solitude.

Also since I have been doing a lot of spring cleaning, I found an article about superfoods which help build up your immune system.....I've added a few others I've read about before. Eating healthy will help you protect your body and keep it strong.

So here they are:
Black Tea
Celery
Cherries and blueberries (frozen is OK)
Oranges
Nuts and seeds
Mushrooms
Onions
Garlic (great in soups and making pasta sauce)
Pomegranate juice
Quinoa
Sunflower seeds
Whole grain cereal (organic)

Stay healthy
Let's pray this trial is over quickly.
When we were led into the desert at the beginning of Lent, no one expected "the desert" to be as harsh as its been this year. We will never forget the Lent of 2020.

NJA

Sunday, March 22, 2020

The Great Warning-The Coronavirus Pandemic

The more I hear and listen to news reports, the more convinced I am, that the coronavirus pandemic   is a warning humankind is being given. The Great Warning.......
All the greed, pride, and blatant ignoring of the Ten Commandments as well as the Seven Deadly Sins amongst others, is out of hand and has been for along time. God is patient, but perhaps God can no longer protect us from the ignorance we show, or the lack of wisdom. Can it be that no matter how obvious the problems are, how obvious the changes that need to take place are, we continue like business as usual and in many cases, sin wins the day. Pornography, child sexual abuse, exploitation of children and women, animal abuse, selfishness, disregard for the created world.....the list goes on..........
People need to be more just, kind, compassionate, selfless and Christ-like. All the evils of this world, which cause pain and suffering to many innocents, must be corrected.
God is patient but if we are intent on destroying humanity, because of ignorance, greed, and lack of wisdom, what can God do?
We have warnings in the Scriptures, we have sacred books and writings, from many religious traditions. We know "what is pleasing to the Lord." We know what builds-up and creates harmony, goodness and love. Sin and evil deeds are not pleasing to God and cause disturbance and pain.
I hope and pray, please Lord, that humankind wakes up, does the right thing, abides in truth before we unknowingly destroy it all.
Christians are suppose to live in hope. Hope is essential to Christians. I am trying to be hopeful, but when I cannot even receive Holy Communion, because of the pandemic, I know for sure, things are out of whack. Please Lord, show us mercy and show us the way.
NJA

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Putting All Fears and Anxiety on the Altar of God During Coronavirus Pandemic

We are living through strange times......for me, watching the Mass on TV on a Sunday morning instead of going to Church is something I never thought I would do. But I did it today.
Looking at empty grocery store shelves in America in 2020, who could of thought such a thing would happen?
This is the new normal, at least for the time being and its unsettling.
But its a good time especially since it's Lent to do Spring cleaning, to shed some things that are no longer needed. Since I will be spending more time than usual in the house, it's a good time, to gather up clothing I don't need or wear anymore and give it to charity. And other things as well.....
There are positive things that can be done, in this strange new day- to- day reality.
I hope its over soon, I hope the pandemic and historic time we are living through passes quickly.
I pray for the sick and their caregivers and those homebound.

These words from St. Teresa of Avila, a great Carmelite Spanish saint and Doctor of the Church, gave me some comfort today:

Be not anxious, have no fear
All is passing, God is near.
Love unchanging, that is God
Bear then all things patiently.
Who possesses God has all, 
Wanting nothing great or small
God suffices, God alone
You are God's, make God your own.
And oh yes, Rejoice!  
St Teresa of Avila

I would add, if I may "And yes, live in hope, because as Christians we are called to be hopeful, in the midst of trials and uncertainty, we have hope that the Lord is with us and will get us through."
Amen.
NJA

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Fear and Uncertainty in the World Because of the Coronavirus

Due to the outbreak of coronavirus throughout the world, there is much fear and anxiety. The government is trying to allay people's fears but that hasn't kept people from hoarding sanitizers and face masks. And then there are the conspiracy theories that abound, which are quite frightening.
People who would normally be very much in control and level-headed were seen "fighting" over a can of tuna fish at the food co-op in Park Slope, Brooklyn (according to news reports). Say it isn't so! People want to have canned goods on hand, in case, God forbid it gets worse, which is a good idea. But let civility prevail. Maybe we are living in the end times!
There are new guidelines for receiving Holy Communion at Mass, in the Diocese where I am right now....and only the Eucharist will be provided during Communion.  Congregants are encouraged to give a bow or hand gesture instead of a handshake or hug during the Sign of Peace. Sanitizers are being used by the priests and liturgical ministers at Mass.
Holy water has been removed from the Holy water fonts, as a precaution. (Empty holy water fonts? I hope that's not mentioned in the Book of Revelation, as a sign of the end times).
In another part of the world, right in Pope Francis' "backyard," the coronavirus is causing havoc in Italy and also in Iran and South Korea. Pope Francis hasn't been feeling well, but not due to the virus.
The elderly and those with compromised immune systems are in the most danger from coronavirus.
What can we do besides washing our hands properly, using common sense, stop touching our faces as much as possible and pray for the best outcome and an end to the epidemic.
As Christians, we have no other choice but to humble ourselves before God and ask that humankind learns from past mistakes and goes forward smarter and wiser.
Lord, have mercy on us!
NJA



Wednesday, February 12, 2020

No To Married Priests in the Amazon Region Where Desperately Needed

I'm disappointed in Pope Francis' decision to not follow the guidance and wishes of bishops of the Amazonian region of the world who wanted and needed,  men of excellent virtue for a married clergy, for the sake of giving the people there better access to the sacraments. No to a married clergy in neglected areas of the world, no to making Eucharist more readily available to the poor people of the Amazon.
The Protestants in the Amazon region, must be thrilled..... more Catholics poorly served in that area of the world, will just join the Protestant churches where they are being "fed." This is already happening.....and will sadly continue.
I cannot believe this is what the Holy Spirit wants. ...for poor, marginalized people to be deprived of the sacraments, especially Eucharist. Does the hierarchy of the Church believe that the bishops and priests of the Amazon have made this request lightly or do they live everyday with the reality of Catholics lacking access to the sacraments and pastoral care?
Very sad to me...the Church seems out of touch with realities in the modern world. Young people (the nones) are leaving the church in record numbers. They are distancing themselves from all institutions, not only the Catholic Church......As the elderly die in our church, who will take their place?
There are real problems in our Church and giving in to the request of bishops in the Amazon, who are on the ground, who know the needs of their people and saying "no" we can't help you, is not forward thinking or compassionate, in my humble opinion.
NJA



Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Should We Be Afraid? Maybe

The Coronavirus which has killed over one thousand people in China and sickened thousands is a zoonotic disease. That means it jumped from animals to humans. Experts believe that it originated in bats, jumped to pangolins (a scaly mammal) and then to humans in a poorly regulated, wet marketplace, in Wuhan, China. In that marketplace, where there were dead and live animals, it was a place where viruses can spread.
The good news is that hopefully there will be a vaccine in the coming months and the strict measures the Chinese government has taken to stop the spread of the virus will work and the pandemic will stop.
But what frightens me is what if another zoonotic disease jumped from animals to humans and was deadly....for everyone....that's a very scary scenario, like a horror movie plot.
That could be the end.
Of course as Christians we have to live in hope. Hope should cast out fear.
But humankind is careless. We've been careless with creation. There is a lot of pride and greed in this world.
We need to respect the natural world and have greater understanding of the conditions that cause zoonotic diseases to thrive.
The unthinkable could happen. It's not that far fetched. I hope and pray it doesn't.
I try to be hopeful. I try to surrender my fears to God. But maybe even God can't save us from ourselves or our carelessness or greed.
NJA

UPDATE: Apparently experts now believe that the coronavirus originated in bats but then jumped not to snakes, as originally reported but to pangolins, a scaly mammal and then to humans. Pangolins are considered the world's most trafficked animals....sadly they are being hunted to extinction. Their keratin scales are used in traditional Chinese medicine.