Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Holy Oil and Miraculous Weeping Icons From St. Paul's Greek Church Can Soothe and Help

When people get bad news about their health, they often become worried and filled with despair. It puts family members in a difficult situation, as doctors are consulted and the best course of action is planned by medical doctors, the patient and the family. At times like that, people need faith, belief and prayer. It helps in more ways than one.
Some time ago my friend called to tell me her son who was newly married and his wife were quite upset as his wife's mother was given a terrible cancer diagnosis. It was very sad, it didn't sound like she had long to live, but with excellent medical care and cancer treatment she has been doing OK. Her cancer is not in remission but its not getting worse and she's "holding her own."
This family of the bride is Jewish and I attended the couple's interfaith marriage ceremony and reception so naturally I felt very sorry for them.  The reality was and still is that soon after their marriage they had to deal with this difficult situation as the bride's mother became very sick.
I told them about holy, blessed oil that I had from a Greek Orthodox Church on Long Island, NY, from, The Cathedral of St.Paul Greek Orthodox Church on Cathedral Avenue in Hempstead. I offered to mail it to them and I suggested she place a drop of holy oil on her mother's forehead every night before she went to sleep and to say a prayer. I've recently made another trip to the Church to get more oil for them....the second trip I've made for them....Not a miracle but she is doing OK which is better than anyone expected as her prognosis was very grave.
I'm telling this story because whether or not the blessed oil is helping I"m not sure. I'd like to think so. Of course, she's had the best treatment available as well. Is it a combination of the two as well as all the prayers? Whatever it is, the daughter who places the holy oil on her mother's forehead each night is able to do something, to have some control, to say a prayer, to comfort her mother.
The history of the Church, the miraculous weeping icons in the Church and the blessed holy oil is very interesting. The holy oil is free, it comes in little containers and people are encouraged to give a donation to the Church when taking the oil. The Church itself with its magnificent mosaics is worth seeing just for the beautiful, religious mosaics in the Church. There are also many saints' relics in the Church.
The Rosary Society from my parish visits the Greek Church at least once a year and the parishioners there welcome us. It's always an inspiring trip.
If you know someone who is ill, you might consider getting some of the blessed oil. It helps on many levels.
NJA

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Divine Mercy Sunday 2017 and God's Mercy


This year was the second year in a row that I gave a presentation on St. Faustina and the Divine Mercy Feast in my Church. After the Chaplet was sung at the 3:00 hour I gave my presentation. The importance of the time and the day, is not lost on me. It's a powerful, prayerful time to be in Church and to be talking about St. Faustina, her message from Jesus and the sacred image.
It so happened that as a prayer leader for the children, in the morning at the Children's Liturgy, it was my turn to give a talk to the children.  I gave a talk to young children and I spent some time talking about St. Faustina. I also gave them a prayer card with the sacred divine mercy image and those powerful words, "Jesus, I trust in you."

Well the children understood because when I asked them when they might use that powerful prayer, "Jesus I trust in you" they had some great answers. One little girl said she would say those words when she was being punished! And a young boy said when he was playing baseball and he was angry because the other team was winning, he would say to himself, "Jesus I trust in you." So they got the message and I was happy about that.

At the presentation, in the afternoon, I spoke about being open and aware. Open to the messages that Jesus gave to St. Faustina which were so important. St. Faustina wrote in her Diary, "Be receptive to God's mercy to the King of Mercy make time to come to God for graces and mercy.....As Jesus said, "My heart overflows with great mercy for souls."
The Feast of Divine Mercy is a day full of graces. Trusting in Jesus is the essence of the message of mercy that Sr. Faustina received from Jesus. Jesus said, "I have opened my heart as a living fountain of mercy. Let all souls draw life from it. Let them approach this sea of mercy with great trust. The graces of my mercy are drawn by means of one vessel only and that is trust. The more a soul trusts the more it will receive" (Diary 1578).
So it's important to be open to God's grace and mercy, to trust in all circumstances and let God's love and mercy transform your life.
NJA

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Joy of Easter Sunday-Being in the Moment

Easter Sunday in  the Northeast was unusually warm and beautiful. A perfect Easter Sunday. The Easter Sunday Mass I attended was food and nourishment for my soul.  Afterwards as I served dinner for seventeen guests (with help from my cousins) we shared an Easter meal, but first we gave thanks and prayed.

What I particularly loved was that sitting in my backyard, small light pink flowers from a flowering tree were "snowing" on all of us....pure magic. Yes it was a "springtime snow" falling softly down on us from a huge flowering tree.

As my young cousins had an Easter egg hunt for which they were rewarded, I was reminded of all that I have to be grateful for. But most especially I am grateful for Jesus. What a blessing to understand the value of His suffering, death and resurrection. What a blessing to be aware of who Christ is for me, for the world. There are so many lost people who have no clue and don't understand how rich a relationship with Jesus is, how nurturing and comforting belief is.

I have been giving retreats this Spring. One of the first things I tell participants is they should congratulate themselves for being there. In that moment in time, when there are so many lost people, they have found and made time for God. They have their priorities straight. It's no small matter, to be on the right path, to have found, "The Way, the Truth and the Life."
NJA


Monday, April 10, 2017

Evil Showing Its "Ugly Face" in Different Ways in Different Parts of the World

The bombing of two Coptic Christian Churches in northern Egypt by suicide bombers on Palm Sunday which killed 44 innocent people during prayer is the "ugly face" of evil and extremism. The attacks took place in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria and wounded 126 people along with the dead, at the start of Holy Week, the holiest week in the Church year. This kind of blatant, "in our face" evil, evil actions and distorted and inhuman thinking must come to an end on this earth. Please Lord, save these poor and vulnerable people from such evil and horror. How can this evil continue?

That was this week. Last week we had to be alarmed and shocked by images of children and adults who suffered and were killed by a chemical attack in Syria. More horror. Pope Francis said, "We are horrified at the latest events in Syria." He condemned the attack with strong words.

President Trump decided to bomb a Syrian airfield with 59 missiles to send a clear message to the Syrian government that chemical weapons are illegal and using them against innocent civilians is an evil that cannot be tolerated. His decision was controversial but how can decent human beings ignore such horror and inhumanity?

We have to get through Good Friday to get to the joy of Easter Sunday but there are people whose lives have been destroyed through bombs, chemical attacks, drug addiction, hunger.....the list goes on.
Lord, send down your Spirit and renew the face of the earth. Please Lord, hear my plea for peace, and all the prayers for peace!
Amen.
NJA

"May the Lord convert the hearts of those who sow fear, violence and terror." (Pope Francis after celebrating Mass, reacted to the news of the bombings in Egypt)


Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Zika Scourge-Mothers of Babies Born With Brain Damage from Zika Chose Life-The Church Should Help!

TI read a disturbing article a few weeks ago in the NY Times entitled, "For Brazil's Zika Families Lives of Struggle and Strength." It told the stories of the hardships and challenges poor families in Brazil face, in dealing with a baby born with microcephaly. Many of these women who gave birth to a baby with brain damage caused by the Zika virus, (from a mosquito bite) chose life for their unborn child, knowing they would most likely have to deal with a child with severe health problems, deformed heads and continuing medical problems. These women are very brave. They have a lot of difficulties and when I read the article I thought to myself, "The Church should help." There are nearly 2,500 babies in Brazil "born to infected mothers with brain damage so profound the consequences are only beginning to be understood......And doctors and researchers are just starting to grasp the medical consequences of Zika.  Besides the alarmingly small heads...many babies have a long list of varied symptoms, leading experts to rename their condition 'congenital Zika syndrome. They can have seizures, breathing problems, trouble swallowing, weakness and stiffness in muscles and joints preventing them from even lifting their heads, clubbed feet, vision and hearing problems and ferocious irritability." I feel overwhelming compassion for the babies and for their families. They need help. The government is trying to help as are charitable people throughout Brazil. I hope the Church in Brazil is helping. But the universal Church should find a way to help these women who have other issues to deal with, many are living in poverty, some are having marital problems due to the stress. Many feel overwhelmed from their situation.
I pray the Church finds a way to help, in whatever ways they can. These families should not be going through this alone. The mercy of God must be shown to them.
NJA

Friday, March 10, 2017

What Does the Holy Spirit Want Pope Francis To Do About The Question Of Married Priests?

I've often thought about the question of what God's will is regarding married priests in the Roman Catholic Church. I love the Church and so it's a question I've pondered for a long time. It bothers me that some Catholics don't have access to the Eucharist because of the lack of priests in poor, undeveloped countries. I've been active in the Church my whole adult life, in different roles and I've known some very religious married men of exemplary character and virtue who I thought would make excellent priests. Some of them have become deacons in the Church.
I've also worried about Latin and South America, and third world countries where there are a shortage of priests. I've thought that if missionary Catholic priests were married, their wives could help in the missions as is the case with Protestant ministers.
It's something that Pope Francis and the Cardinals and Bishops should pray over and discuss because we're living in difficult times. People need access to the sacraments so their faith can be strengthened and they can receive the graces of the sacraments. There are so many distractions, choices, gadgets as well as technology in the modern world, which can pull people away from the faith.  I believe a good holy priest, (whether they are married or not), can be a great blessing, wherever they minister and help unite people to Christ and Christian values.
It takes great courage for Pope Francis to bring up the question of married priests. I pray he is guided by the Holy Spirit and does the will of God. The Pope and the Church hierarchy needs the guidance of the Spirit as well as some common sense and pragmatism as well.
Come Holy Spirit Come! Veni Sanctus Spiritus!
NJA

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Some Signs of the Apocalypse Right in Southwest Florida and Elsewhere

I hope the residents and students of Ave Maria in Naples, Florida are praying because the signs are not good, at this time in the Naples area.  My friend called to tell me that there is a wildfire raging in Naples, not too close to Ave Maria but not that far away either. Above average temperatures, below average rainfall and windy weather created conditions conducive for a wildfire outbreak. It was started, the authorities believe, by some human activity (carelessness or something worse), and thousands of acres in Picayune Strand State Forest are burning and causing a massive smoke cloud, which is darkening the skies and closing parts of Alligator Alley.   No sun, only dark ominous clouds filled with smoke from the fire. She went to the beach for some relief from the smoke only to find a sign warning of red tide. Red tide is a problem in Southwest Florida, microscopic algae blooms turn the water of the Gulf of Mexico a reddish color, which can cause respiratory ailments and coughing in humans and fish die offs. It can be deadly to marine life.
It sounded to me like signs of the apocalypse. A wildfire burning in  eastern Collier County, Florida in the forest and red tide at the water's edge. The sun covered by smoke- filled clouds.
I told her to start praying because the fire was not under control as of this evening and though emergency workers are working night and day to put the fire out, so far it is not contained.
There are other wildfires raging in the Midwest, ranchers have died trying to save their cattle.
It's a very sad situation.
Not everyone believes that global warming is happening or that it will create problems in the here and now and the future. But it is and will. Temperatures are rising which increases the likelihood of wildfires and red tides and coastal flooding.
Pope Francis tried to warn us in his encyclical,  to protect the environment and take global warming seriously and to do our part and help make the situation better but some people do and others do not.
Lion of Judah pray for us!
NJA