Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Eight Richest Men in the World Hold Most of the Wealth in the World

As reported by the Associated Press, and published widely, according to the anti-poverty organization Oxfam the growing gap between the super rich and most everyone else (most especially the poor) keeps widening. Amazingly, eight men in the world own as much wealth as 3.6 billion people. According to what I've read over the years some of those men, like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Michael Bloomberg are extremely generous and give a lot of money to charity and have made provisions to continue to do so in the future....perhaps all of them do, I'm just aware of who I've mentioned.
But yet the executive director of Oxfam was quoted as saying, "It is obscene for so much wealth to be held in the hands of so few when 1 in 10 people survive on less than $2.00 a day....Inequality is trapping millions in poverty; it is fracturing our societies and undermining democracy."
Bill Gates, through his foundation, (both he and Melinda, his wife, have a hands-on approach to charitable giving), gives away millions to charity every year.  Yet according to Forbes magazine, he is worth a staggering $75 billion. Most people, including myself, cannot even imagine how much money that is or how much good it could do.
Oxfam has made a suggested list of how inequality can be somewhat reduced. One is for billionaires to pay their fair share of taxes and those taxes could then be used to finance public works and services and increase employment and opportunities for the poor.
There is so much that needs to be done. As Oxfam pointed out, people are losing faith in institutions, (even the Church is affected by this trend), across the board and "CEO credibility is at an all time low."
Maybe there will be some changes, perhaps billionaires will pay more taxes but ultimately it will be up to the super rich themselves to willingly give some of their wealth to worthy causes. We can pray that their eyes and hearts are opened and they give generously now and into the future.
NJA

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Happy New Year! 2017--On Being Resilient and Living with Hope

I just wrote a quote from Michael Jordan, the great basketball player that I found in a book on keeping a positive outlook in life, on the blog I write that is filled with just quotes. The more I read the quote the more I like it.....the more I want to share it.

So it goes.......

"I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I've been trusted to take the game winning shot...and missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."   Michael Jordan-born in Brooklyn-achieved greatness in the NBA.

In the Bible, perseverance and being hopeful is rewarded by God. As Christians hope is essential to our faith.....as Christians we live in the glow of Christ victorious and that glow should emanate from us. Life is full of distractions, difficulties, and even trials, at times. But knowing Christ walks with us and Christ is near, is so important.  It's important to be resilient and to never give up hope.  St. Teresa of Avila, the great mystic, Spanish saint and Doctor of the Church would tell her nuns, "So many problems arise from imagining Jesus as far away, when He is really near." That is the truth, Teresa would know, she is a Doctor, we can trust her advice.

Happy New Year! May all your dreams come true! Amen.
NJA


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Bishop Barres Arrival on Long Island

The announcement during Advent that Long Island, NY-which for Catholics is the Diocese of Rockville Centre would be getting a new Bishop was met with surprise at St. Agnes Cathedral on the morning of December 9th. Many Church insiders knew it would be announced soon, since Bishop Murphy had turned 75 and had submitted his retirement papers, as mandated by canon law. But there was the new Bishop concelebrating morning Mass, with Bishop Murphy, along with the Rector, just like that. I usually watch daily Mass at midnight (it is televised from the Cathedral), as it is re-televised on Telecare at night and its a good way for me to end the day. Yes I do stay up that late, sometimes later. And I did watch Bishop Barres being introduced to the daily Mass goers by Bishop Murphy that day, as he humbly concelebrated. The Cathedral has been totally renovated and so Bishop Barres walked into a beautiful, newly renovated Cathedral. That was good.
Bishop Barres, age 56,  will need his Ivy League education, plus all the experience he gained as Bishop of Allentown, PA, plus his relatively young age, and his deep prayer life, because there is a lot going on, on Long Island. There's lots of diversity, natural beauty, faith-filled people, great Catholic schools and parishes which is a good thing, but there's lots of challenges here as well.
Long Island has a fair share of unchurched, under evangelized, nominal Catholics, who don't go to Church on Sunday. But that's everywhere, not just on Long Island.
Another challenge is the youth, how can they be evangelized, so they see the value in attending Mass and praying regularly. Of course some do, but not enough. How can the Bishop or anyone for that matter, get them away from their cell phones for one hour, so they can attend Mass and experience the peace and comfort that comes from prayer and worship of God? 
There is so much wealth on Long Island, especially in the Hamptons, but there is also poverty. That's another challenge......There's the very rich, the somewhat rich, the struggling middle-class (many are just picking up and leaving and heading South where its cheaper to live) and the poor, who need help and mercy.
Bishop Barres can gain comfort from knowing Catholic Long Islanders (among others) are praying for his success and blessings on his episcopacy. May God give him the wisdom and guidance he needs to face the challenges. Amen.
NJA


Monday, December 5, 2016

Marian Symposium at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, NY

I have been an active friend of the "Friends of the Seminary" for many years. I was also a Vice President and President of the volunteer organization that helps fund- raise and plan events for the "friends." We help the Seminary and we help the seminarians who now study at Dunwoodie in Yonkers at St. Joseph's Seminary. Yesterday on Dec. 4th, the Spirituality Committee planned a great day of prayer, theology, art and music, with the rector's permission and advice. Msgr. Richard Henning is a great rector and he has been an asset to the Seminary. He is making improvements and is very involved in making sure the Seminary remains vital to the surrounding areas of Long Island and the Diocese of Rockville Centre and the Diocese of Brooklyn. Since St. Ignatius Retreat House on the North Shore of LI in North Hills sadly closed and was demolished (the magnificent property will be used to build luxury houses), the Seminary in Huntington has become more important as a place for retreats, education and days of prayer.
The day began with Mass in the Main Chapel and Bishop Massa presided and the Rector, the Associate Rector and Fr. Hugh Gillespie concelebrated.  
At the Marian Symposium the Keynote Address was given by Bishop James Massa (Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn and Moderator of the Curia). His lecture was well thought out and fascinating. He spoke about "The Nursing Virgin Mary (Madonna Lactans) in Christian art, devotion and "its theological purpose to honor the sacred humanity" of Jesus. He also spoke about Mary as the Mother of God (Theotokos) and many other fascinating aspects of Marian theology. He highly suggested the book, "The Splendor of the Church" by Henri de Lubac which I am going to try to read this winter. We were all impressed.
His talk was followed by another extraordinary presentation by Fr. Hugh Gillespie, SMM, who is a well known presenter on Marian devotion. He managed to mix deep theological (and challenging) thoughts with an entertaining presentation. It was very good.
That was followed by a powerpoint presentation by Angela-DeLessio-Morrisson who is a local artist and she discussed icons and in particular Our Lady of Perpetual Help icon. Angela is a graduate of the Master's Degree Program at the Seminary. She gave a wonderful presentation. And if that wasn't all enough, we did manage to fit in lunch and a musical interlude by the Cathedral Seminary Schola by the Pre-Theologians studying at Cathedral Seminary House of Formation in Douglaston, Queens. That was heavenly.
The day ended with Solemn Vespers and though I very much wanted to stay, I don't like driving on the North Shore of LI roads in the dark and so I had to leave before darkness fell.
What a great spiritual day, filled with knowledge of God and Mary. All so good for the soul.
NJA

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Guided By the Holy Spirit, Open To The Spirit, During the Holiday Season

For all those who celebrate the great holiday of Thanksgiving, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving! I'm getting ready to host my family and some of my sons' friends. One of our guests will be coming from England so it will be special! She is  coming for a long weekend to visit my sons' fiance, and we've invited her, of course.

In addition to that I am preparing for a talk I will give during Advent. This is a special talk for me because I have never spoken about this topic before or even thought too much about it. So why would I chose this topic especially during the holiday season with so much to do?.....I could of expanded on a topic I've done many times in Advent but this year would be different. I didn't know that when I agreed to give a talk during Advent, (which I am doing for a second year in a row), that my talk would be entirely different. The reason is, this year I was given the title of the talk and the topic by the Holy Spirit. Sounds a little strange....I would imagine you think it's strange. You see, God's word as we believe, as Christians is living and active, it should be transformative as well. As Christians, we should be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit, so if the Spirit does move in our lives, we should be thankful for that and not hesitate or be too surprised.......Well, at first I have to be honest I wasn't thankful because it was a lot of work to prepare for this talk and actually I'm going to finish it today because I want it completed before Thanksgiving. And at first, I was perplexed because it was very obvious that God's word "spoke" to me and this was the topic. So now that you're curious and wondering what the topic is, I'll tell you. The topic of my talk is about the Reign of God. The Scripture verse that "jumped" out at me at a Bible Study talk was, "The Kingdom of God is at hand." I knew in that instant I would speak about the Reign of God but still wasn't sure where to go with it....that kept me up one night as I tried to discern that. But it's all OK now, because the talk is mostly written, I got through it, today I will put the finishing touches on it and present it next week.
That's my story. Once again, Happy Thanksgiving!
NJA

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

President-Elect Trump Make Good on Your Promise To Rebuild Inner Cities

One promise that I heard President-elect Donald Trump make in the early morning hours, after winning a stunning and close election was to say he was going to rebuild American inner cities. I was sleepy, like most Americans who stood up to see the election results but I didn't miss that.  He has the know-how to do that. Poor people who live in inner cities deserve better, they deserve decent housing, playgrounds, good places to shop and good schools. The children and teens in our inner cities have suffered too long with a a lack of good opportunities, part-time and summer jobs, and decent community centers where they can have access to after school programs, sports programs, tutoring,  life coaches and mentors as well as positive role models who can inspire them (and keep them away from temptations and vices  that can ruin their lives).
I hope President-elect Trump can do that for our inner cities, for the young people who deserve good opportunities so they can realize the American dream and believe in themselves.
Let's see if he makes good on that promise and lifts all Americans, so that all people have a chance to climb the ladder of success and realize the American dream.
NJA


Friday, October 28, 2016

Finishing Up The Year of Mercy-A Talk By Msgr.P. Vaccari

I have been privileged to be a part of my parish Year of Mercy Committee. Under the direction of Fr. Jude Dioka, Parochial Vicar of our parish, we have planned many events, which helped our parishioners as well as others. I previously blogged about our visit to the St. Pius X Residence for elderly priests on Long Island, where we brought dinner and had prayer and  fellowship with them. That was a great evening.
Last evening we invited a speaker, Msgr. Peter Vaccari, the Rector of St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers, NY to give a talk and take part in Eucharistic Adoration with us. As usual, Msgr. Peter gave an excellent talk, he is a gifted speaker and a great intellect. Besides all that he is a genuinely good priest, and a great rector.
He gave us many good insights into the Queen of Mercy, Mary our Mother. He spoke of her as the new "Ark of the Covenant." He spoke about the tenderness of Mary and Jesus and how Mary can accompany us on our faith journey at each moment. We should be open to the maternal embrace and tenderness of Mary. Through Mary and with Mary's help we can find our joy, our life and our peace in Christ.
He spoke about Pope Francis and how he says we need to be cheerful, knowing we are gifted and blessed and  vessels of mercy, like Mary. Like Mary we need to be filled with peace, joy and enthusiasm. We must turn our gaze to Mary, she intercedes for us. Through Mary and with Mary's help we can find the peace of Christ in our lives.
Msgr. Vaccari spoke about the importance of Eucharistic Adoration, which occurs at the Seminary in Yonkers on Thursday evenings from 7:00-10:00 PM and on other nights as well. He also spoke about the power of the Rosary. How important it is to say it regularly as it's such a powerful prayer as St. John Paul II often wrote and said. The Rosary marks the rhythm of life.
Though it was raining outside, it was a good evening. Msgr. Vaccari is such an inspiring speaker. I told him it's time they made him a Bishop!! He laughed. He's very gifted intellectually and spiritually (and remains down-to-earth) and that's what the Church needs now, (in my humble opinion).
NJA