Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Does The Church Need An Order of Married Catholic Priests? I Think So

I don't write this lightly. I take this subject very seriously as I do my love for the Catholic Church. Warts and all. But in God's holy name how can the Church continue to have as a Church law  mandatory celibacy, for all Roman Catholic priests, with the situation as it is. And everyone knows what I mean by that. And as we know, Church laws can be changed.
I have worked in the Church , I know many holy, married laymen, of outstanding character,  who would make excellent priests. Then there are the deacons in the Church who could enter an Order of Married Priests. As I mentioned in my last blog entry,  I visited a Greek Orthodox Church last week on Long Island with the Rosary Society of my parish and their Divine Liturgy was reverent, beautiful, sacred and holy. All three priests on the altar were married, their wives were present and one of them had an adorable little daughter in the congregation that day.
Celibacy is certainly a call and valuable discipline for some men, called to the priesthood, but not for all.
If the Church doesn't examine this with clear vision and through prayer to the Holy Spirit, and act with common sense, it risks a lot.
I've seen so many changes take place within one generation. It use to take many generations for social changes and traditions to change, but now in the modern world, things are changing rapidly. I fear young people are going to keep leaving the Church, with all the bad publicity involving sexual abuse and large payouts. This is a very different world than the one I grew up in.
What is God's will for the Church in this matter? To me the answer is obvious. What matters is God's word is preached, Eucharist is shared and people are cared for and ministered to. That's more important than anything else.
NJA


Thursday, May 17, 2018

What Roman Catholics Can Learn From the Greek Orthodox Church and What They Can Learn From Us

Today members of the Rosary Society of my parish along with our pastor and a seminarian visited the Greek Orthodox Church of The Archangel Michael in Port Washington, Long Island, NY. We were invited by one of their church organizations and priests to celebrate, along with their congregation, the Divine Liturgy of the Ascension and to share fellowship afterward.  It was a very moving experience. I came away with a lot of impressions.
First of all when we arrived 15 minutes before their liturgy began, the priests were already in the midst of worship, prayer, chanting and incensing the sanctuary. So even before the liturgy began, the priests were deep in prayer and worship. Now you know what I was saying to myself, don't you? Of course I was saying, why don't we do this in the Roman Catholic Church, (at least on feast days and Sundays).  I get annoyed sometimes at Sunday Mass because I always arrive a half hour before Mass begins to read the readings beforehand and to pray and usually there is someone near me talking, which drives me crazy. So that would solve that problem......and it wouldn't have to even be done for a half hour but what about 10 or 15 minutes of prayer before Mass begins. I thought it was very holy and sanctifying and gave me a transcendent feeling.
The Divine Liturgy (as they call the Mass) was amazingly uplifting, holy and sacred. Before Communion was given out, the priests processed around the Church with the Blessed Sacrament while a priest was walking backwards and incensing the Blessed Sacrament.
It is a beautiful Church and the liturgy was very beautiful and sacred as well.
All of the priests, as we later found outwere married. All of their wives who we met at the fellowship, were helpful and very nice. But that's another story.
What can they learn from us? Some observations I made in a short time. They wanted to hear about the rosary, so the President of our Rosary Society showed them a rosary and explained how we recite it. Our pastor explained the mysteries. They don't say the Hail Mary as one parishioner told me.
But of course, they revere the blessed Mother, so why don't they recite the rosary or pray the Hail Mary? I have no idea, but I find it perplexing.
It was a wonderful morning and the welcome we were given was a blessing to all of us.
NJA

Saturday, May 5, 2018

The Killing Of A Priest

Such a sad story coming from Notre Dame of Fatima, a Roman Catholic Church in the Central African Republic. The Church was attacked during Mass and the parish priest, the Rev. Toungoumale Baba was killed along with at least 15 other people. Innocents-worshipping God, praying, during the  sacred Catholic Mass and evil came through the door. Using grenades and gunfire the killers desecrated the holy Church and brought death and despair and pain to God. The worst of humanity.
A large crowd, protesting the violence and the death of their beloved priest carried his body to the presidential palace. But evil won the day. Their pastor is gone. The good priest died at the hands of the most fanatical, the most cruel and evil side of humanity.
And its not over. People want revenge. So the vicious cycle of violence will unfortunately most likely continue. No one wins. The children of the parish witnessed unspeakable horror.
I pray for the soul of the good priest who died celebrating Mass and those who care for him. So tragic. In this day and age, at this time in history and still, good, holy priests and good people are slaughtered because of misunderstanding, conflict and hate.
God bless the people of Notre Dame of Fatima Church, may God be with them during these difficult days. The United Nations peacekeeping group will have to work quickly to stop the spread of violence, God be with them and inspire their work.
NJA

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Good Things Happening on the Korean Peninsula-Is Peace Within Reach?

Praise God good news is finally coming from the Korean Peninsula. I have been praying for the conversion of Kim Jong-Un, because I feel for those in North Korea who are not free to worship God or attend religious services or have have their basic needs met. And tonight I saw South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong- Un on TV,  meeting in the Demilitarized Zone between the Koreas and shaking hands, just like friends would do. It was a very encouraging sight.  Their meeting will hopefully open the possibility and likelihood that Kim Jong-Un will meet with President Donald Trump.
Pope Francis has praised the summit this week between the two Korean leaders and urged them to "have the courage to be artisans of peace."
Peace in the world, peace on the Korean peninsula would be a great move forward for humankind. The Pope said that the summit would be, "a concrete route toward reconciliation and regained brotherhood with the aim of guaranteeing peace on the Korean Peninsula and in the entire world."
And in the entire world............the peace and love of God in the entire world. That would be a miracle! The world is certainly ready for peace, the poor people of the Middle East, Africa, and other countries who have been mired in conflict for decades desperately need peace. Children have suffered for so long, in too many places in the world, because of civil wars.
Lord send your divine guidance, your blessings and wisdom upon all leaders of the world so that peace may prevail and solutions found to age-old conflicts and misunderstandings.  Amen.
NJA

Monday, April 16, 2018

Have Elderly South Koreans Found The Answer To The Craziness of the World?

I just love this story because the news is so strange of late and at times very depressing. Within our country, national news is so bizarre as to seem like fiction. International news is not much better. So when I read about what South Korean elderly people are doing during the day for exercise, fun and probably a good dose of distraction, I thought to myself, "They're onto something!"
I'm referring to an article I read titled, "In Daytime Discos, South Korea's Elderly Find Escape From Anxiety." How are they escaping from the turmoil in the modern world, through disco dancing. "A discotheque hidden among the back alleys of eastern Seoul, is packed with hundreds of grey-haired couples on a Monday afternoon, dancing to local hits from the 1960s in a basketball court-sized hall." Sounds like a good idea to me. One of the customers said, "If you have music and a partner, you can put all other thoughts out of your mind."
So many thoughts...........
Of course for people who are on a spiritual, religious quest, dancing could well provide a temporary distraction from anxiety and frustration with the modern world, but those of us journeying towards God, we also have to include prayer and a quest for holiness.  Pope Francis has advised in his latest Apostolic Exhortation-""Rejoice and Be Glad," that we model our life on Christ's life and that of course means growing in love, compassion and non-judgmental attitudes.
So we have to grow in holiness if we are serious about growing closer towards God ("Be holy for I am holy") And that is very good.
But I think it's good too, to enjoy oneself and reduce anxiety and negative thoughts and dancing might be a good answer for that, as the South Koreans have found.
NJA


Friday, April 6, 2018

The Beautiful Easter Season and Divine Mercy Feast-2018

I realized that I hadn't written anything about Easter this year, the most magnificent feast in the Church year and instead I wrote about Hell and a misunderstanding and a need for conversion. Only because I read an intriguing article about Pope Francis and how his words had been distorted about Hell by an Italian journalist.
But that's no excuse. It's Easter and now it's the Easter Season, the season of hope and new beginnings and I should write about that.
Easter was beautiful, the Mass at my church on Long Island was filled with beautiful music, great liturgy and a good homily. The spirit of the Risen Lord was present in many ways. My family was with me, except for one of my sons and his wife because they have a newborn baby. My first grandchild. It doesn't get better than that, having a granddaughter! So blessed! Thank you Lord!
This Sunday I have been asked to speak about Divine Mercy as I did last year at a Divine Mercy Feast Day of prayer and reflection. I'm one of three speakers, in an illustrious group.
And what I will say I have been pondering all week, allowing the Spirit to guide me as to what I shall concentrate on. It's mostly a day of prayer with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, so not too many words are needed. I will let the Spirit lead and guide and I will just point out the direction we need to go.
When you let the Spirit work through you, and ask for God's guidance (and I listen to the chant everyday-"Veni, Sanctus, Spiritus," and let it sink in), the Spirit will guide in a simple, yet powerful way.
Recently I was attending a retreat with a Jesuit priest as the leader. When after one of the sessions, I told him that I also give retreats and that I could teach centering prayer, which he was giving hand-outs to the participants about, he generously said, "Nancy, would you like to help me? Would you like to teach centering prayer?" And so I did. That's how it is with the Holy Spirit......I will say in prayer on Sunday....."Holy Spirit guide me and empower me, and lead me, so as to help all here grow closer to God and be open to God's merciful love." I'll make room for the Spirit to act.
Amen. "Jesus I trust in you."
NJA

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

What's With Hell?

I read an interesting article in the New York Times titled, "An Atheist and a Pope Talk (Maybe) About Hell," by Jason Horowitz. It begins, "The Vatican felt obliged this week to reaffirm that Pope Francis believes in a central tenet of Catholicism, that there is a hell."
I'm puzzled as to why Pope Francis continues to have casual chats and meetings with Eugenio Scalfari, an atheist, Italian, anti-clerical journalist, since Scalfari distorts the Pope's words when quoting him. Doesn't sound like the kind of person the Pope should converse with casually or at all.
The question of Hell and its existence has troubled theologians for centuries. Does Hell actually exist? And who is in Hell? Well I always go back to the saints for many of them have been given divine knowledge and some have said or written that they have been given glimpses of Hell and it certainly unnerved them.  They saw or felt or envisioned something horrific.
The authority on this topic would be the Catechism of the Catholic Church which says, "To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God's merciful love means remaining separated from him forever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is call "hell (CCC 1033).
There is a great story about St. Therese of Lisieux who prayed continually for a murderer who was sentenced to die. She prayed and prayed that he would repent before his death and as it turned out her prayers were answered. Before his execution he asked for a crucifix which he kissed and she took that to mean he repented and her prayers were answered and he was spared the "fires of Hell."
I pray for the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, as he has ordered the torture and death of innocent people and I hope and pray he converts or repents before he dies, because he is certainly a candidate for Hell. He should get his act together before its too late, in my humble opinion. I pray often that he repents, for his sake, the sake of his family and the sake of the people of North Korea.
NJA