Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Wake Up! It's Advent!

On Sunday I attended a beautiful Marian Day at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, Long Island. The Celebration of Mary provided a faith-filled spiritual day for the "Friends of the Seminary" and all those invited from parishes around Long Island. Mass began at 10:00 AM and the amiable Auxiliary Bishop--Bishop Andrzej Zglejszewski-of Rockville Centre presided. It was the first Sunday of Advent and the readings spoke of being alert, being watchful.
Jesus said to his disciples: 'Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.'

Bishop Andrezej walked around the magnificent main chapel during the homily saying simply-Wake Up! Be alert! Wake Up! He said other things of course but "Wake Up" stuck in my mind, because it's so true, so many people are not alert enough, aren't watchful and we should be in a state of wakefulness, especially during Advent. People are driving crazy, no one is watching and everyone is in a rush. Besides that people (myself included) should wake up and realize what's really important during the holy season of Advent. It's a beautiful thing to give and share and prepare and eat a meal with your family, but it's so important to live each day with meaning and purpose, to pray to do God's will in your life, whatever the cost and to grow closer to God each day.
Besides the beautiful liturgy, there were two interesting lectures, one by Fr. Michael Whalen, CM and  the other by Brother Timothy Driscoll, SM., (who interestingly had taught (many years ago) Msgr. Richard Henning-the rector). Then to end the perfect day, Ms. Theresa Bissex sang beautiful Christmas hymns, and Scripture readings were read in between.
Advent bliss.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017-God's Blessings Abound For Those Who Believe

Happy Thanksgiving! This past year was a year of some disappointments and some big accomplishments. The ups and downs of life, are ever present in our lives, in my life. But as long as I walk with Jesus, with Jesus at my side, I can and do overcome obstacles and rise to new heights. This was the year I finally finished my spiritual/mystical memoir and its selling on Amazon. More importantly, people are reading it and being inspired by it. Praise God! That's important because no one ever read the book before I published it but me. I was apprehensive about showing it in full or parts to anyone, so I never knew what people would think of it. Most people who have read it, know me and care about me, so perhaps they have a bias, but in any event, its a relief that people like the book. One of my friends told me she has bought copies for each of her adult children That amazed me.
I think I'll do a You Tube video about the book in the new year. Why not? I should evangelize shouldn't I?
And so, may you have a very Happy Thanksgiving wherever you are, be thankful because the good news is that if you pray and have a relationship with God, "all things work together for good." And everything becomes rightfully ordered and in God's time, all things work out.
That has been my experience. Being in relationship with God has enriched my life and brought many blessings and graces into my life, and for that I am very grateful this Thanksgiving.
God's abundant blessings on your life.  Now it's time to start cooking!

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Beauty of Creation-Proof of God's Existence-In A Turquoise Sea

I already have great assurance of God's existence but I'm baffled by people, such as atheists and skeptics who deny God's existence. I sometimes wonder if they see with the same eyes that I do. I recently came back from a trip to Grand Cayman Island, the largest of the Cayman Islands, which is a British Overseas Territory. Located in the Caribbean Sea, the colors and vistas that I saw as I sat on the beach made me think of the Divine Artist, the Creator,  whose mix of the colors, blues and greens in the sea and in the sky were breathtaking. The Divine Palette mixed together the most beautiful hues of green and blue and white.  Near perfection in natural beauty.
The water was turquoise, surrounding the beach,  which I hadn't seen in a long time, such pure, natural beauty. Then about a mile from the beach, beyond the turquoise was a reef, creating a rim around the inner sea. White waves were crashing on the reef,  giving a contrast between the turquoise water nearby and the deep blue sea beyond the reef. Such magnificence. So as I sat there mesmerized and taking in more sun than I should have, I kept thinking, "Who thinks these colors, this amount of beauty and perfection can be an accident or a coincidence?" "Who can possibly doubt the existence of a Divine Creator, who created with order, mathematical exactness and complexity and so much natural beauty?" I just can't get my head around it and never will.
If there was no Creator, no Divine Artist than perhaps we would live in a gray world, no striking colors, no natural beauty to cast our gaze upon. All gray...then I might think well perhaps this is an accident. But show me a simple flower, or a sunrise, or a turquoise sea and I'll believe in a generous Creator, who has a "eye" for beauty, because God is Beauty.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

My Mystical Story-Mysticism Exists

My book, that is now available on Amazon and Kindle, is a true story about a mystical experience I had many years ago, when I was a young mother, living in Brooklyn, living a seemingly ordinary life. It's difficult for me to even write the title of the book, because it will sound, at first, outrageous....believe me the self-publishing of this book takes a lot of courage for me, because it is so unusual. But I made the decision to tell this personal story of a religious experience I had many years ago in a Brooklyn church and I've done it. No turning back. As I write in the book, we don't always get to choose what happens to us in life, some things just happen and we have no control over them. That's what happened to me. You'll have to believe that mysticism exists, that mystical experiences can happen to ordinary Catholics, just like that for no apparent reason, if you're going to read my book. God is God and sometimes God acts in mysterious ways that we can't understand.
I have a lot of quotes in the book and one that I particularly like is from Karl Rahner, S.J., who was a brilliant German Jesuit theologian (1904-1984).
He wrote a lengthy quote on this subject and many more about mysticism but I shortened it for the book:
"But in any case, it is true that mysticism exists and it is not as remote from us, as we are at first tempted to assume." (Theological Investigations 18)
So this is the title of my book:  
"The Vision of Christ in St. Columba Church Brooklyn" by N. J. Azzaro, M.S.
So now you know.

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.
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!

Monday, September 18, 2017

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


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 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)