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

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Stephen Hawking's First Conversation With God

I wonder what Stephen Hawking, the great scientist, said to God when he entered Heaven. I've been thinking about that since Stephen Hawking recently died and I was watching a special about him and his theories last evening.
Did he say to God, "I'm sorry." Or "I should have known that there had to be a First Cause, something which ignited the Big Bang and sparked the creation of the Universe. " As he said on the TV special last night, that I watched, (I'm paraphrasing) "After the Big Bang there was 'cosmic luck'." Hmmmm....very interesting, our ever expanding, mathematically exact Universe, our magnificent Milky Way galaxy and all the other millions of stars and galaxies were formed by "cosmic luck." I don't think so.
And then he attributed the forming of the galaxies to gravity and then some failures so the Universe could expand. There had to be failures he said. There couldn't be perfection. No, actually there had to be perfect, intelligent design, complexity, genius, mathematical exactness, there had to be God designing, propelling, creating his masterful work. God. Somehow that escaped the brilliant mind of Stephen Hawking.
Great philosophers have always asked, "Why is there something instead of nothing?" And physicists have asked, "Why did the Big Bang happen at all, what sparked it to explode?" After the Big Bang, why did atoms form and why did the Universe keep expanding? And how is it that I sit here, typing on my computer, billions of years later, believing what my faith and my experiences have led me to believe. God exists and though God will always be incomprehensible mystery, there can never be a doubt in my mind, that God is the Creator and God deserves credit for this magnificent Universe, which we are all a part of.
NJA

Friday, March 9, 2018

Praying For The People of North Korea and the Conversion of Kim Jong-un

Months ago when I saw a documentary about North Korea, it started to weigh heavy on my heart of how deprived the North Koreans are. Not only because, in many cases, they lack food and other basic necessities but also because they are not able or allowed to worship God. I felt for them because they were "forced" to hang pictures and photographs of the erratic North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un in their houses and businesses.  If they failed to do so, there could be dire consequences. I thought about the lack of freedom of religion in North Korea and how people were unable to pray openly or attend any kind of religious services or have religious articles.  So sad.
So I started praying for the miraculous conversion of Kim Jong-un. Wouldn't it be wonderful, I thought if he had a dramatic conversion experience and became a believer and gave people the freedom to worship God openly. I know that would take a miracle but why not pray to help the North Koreans. It seems as good a prayer as any. Imagine a picture of Jesus hanging in North Korean homes alongside their leader. "With God all things are possible!"
I hope that talks between President Trump and Kim Jong-un do happen and diplomacy prevails. That would be good for the world and a step towards world peace.
NJA

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Parkland Shootings-Cardinal Cupich Encourages Us To Listen To Young People About Guns

I read an excellent article at America Magazine online titled, "Chicago's Cardinal Cupich: Listen To Young People About Guns," by Michael O'Loughlin. It seems people are listening, even corporations with large retail stores, such as Dick's Sporting Goods and Walmart are listening and acting. The time for change has come and I hope and pray the 17 teenagers and adults who died in Parkland, Florida will not have died in vain. Their tragic, violent deaths coming on the first day of the holy season of Lent must be the last blood spilled in a school from gun violence.
As Cardinal Cupich put it, "The youth of our nation are shaming the adult world into action." The young people have the wind at their backs and public opinion is on their side. Reasonable people want stricter gun laws and universal background checks. Military weapons have no place in our society. This is not an attack on the 2nd amendment, its people crying for needed change, change that should have happened after the horror of Sandyhook.  This was an avoidable tragedy. Those poor parents who lost children, in such a violent, unexpected way, have to live with this everyday of their lives. It's unimaginable what they have to suffer. 
So the Church should speak out on this issue. Members of the Church should join with the teenagers when they march for sensible gun law changes. Young people everywhere are passionate about this issue right now and they would welcome the Church's involvement and encouragement. 
As Cardinal Cupich wrote, "The time for words is over, our children are telling us. What is now required is action."
Amen.
NJA

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God. 
(2 Corinthians: 1:3-4)

The Lord is compassion and love.......(Ps. 103:8)

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Courageous Students Demand Change After Horrific School Shooting in Florida

It was suppose to be a day to celebrate love-Valentine's Day and also it was Ash Wednesday 2018 and the beginning of Lent. After returning from Mass that afternoon, with a large ash cross on my forehead, I soon realized this was going to be a very sad day. It would be a Lent from hell for some families from Parkland, Florida, who heard the unthinkable and tragic news that day. Their precious children and some adults would be gunned down in what should be a safe place, their high school.
That a deranged and hate-filled teenager could buy an assault rifle so easily even though he had clear mental issues is a disgrace.
And now the students say, "enough is enough." Adults in power have failed them. They want to be the voice of the dead, who can no longer speak for themselves. Those who have no voice now should not have died a violent death in vain. Their friends and fellow students are demanding change. And lots of people are behind them.
Today, a week from that dreadful day, President Trump had a listening session at the White House and he heard from distraught parents who have lost children in deadly school shootings and students who witnessed them. Let's hope he acts wisely.
Where is the hope? The hope is that students across America want change and are demanding change. They want sensible gun laws and more serious background checks for those who want to buy guns.
I'm hopeful that, over time, they will make a difference. They're eloquent and brave and are impressing a lot of people, including me. My prayers are with them.
NJA

Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past, let us accept our own responsibility for the future. 
President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)