Monday, August 12, 2019

Women Need To Be Included At Every Level of Decision-Making In The Church

Sadly the Church in New York State is bracing for a slew of new lawsuits because of the enactment of the Child Victims Act (CVA). It was signed into law last February. This law will now allow new lawsuits as it suspends for one year any statue of limitations associated with alleged sexual abuse of minors. The Church continues to suffer because of grave sin, crimes against children and others, cover-ups and bad decision making.

The child abuse crisis is sickening. So far from what Jesus wanted for God's holy Church. But the Church needs cleansing and so let the cleansing begin and perhaps afterwards the Church can move forward with greater holiness. And let the healing begin for the victims, many of whom were treated unjustly in the past, but the Church has tried to correct that.

This would never have happened to the degree that it did, if more women were in leadership positions in the Church and were involved in high level decision making.  I firmly believe that. Women are intuitive, have great wisdom and common sense and by their nature are protective of children. Excluding women (and I don't mean from the priesthood) has had grave consequences for the Church and will continue unless women are given the respect, responsibilities and leadership positions they deserve. They would be an asset to the Church at all levels.

So changes are needed. Yet the Church is slow to change, but in this modern age of technological advancement and young people who won't put up with all the nonsense and disfunction, the Church for its own good and survival must make changes, that build up the body of Christ.
I love the Church and for all of us who find fulfillment in our Catholic faith and the teachings of Jesus  we want to see positive change, so that the new evangelization can take hold, grow and bear great fruit.
NJA


Sunday, August 4, 2019

When Will The Madness Stop?-Two U.S. Mass Shootings In Less Than 24 Hours

Our elected officials are elected to protect the citizens of our country. They are not doing a good job of it. It appears that no one is safe anywhere anymore and little is being done to stop the insanity. Action is needed to stop this craziness. A 24-year-old filled with hate drove to El Paso, Texas to kill people shopping in Walmart- an act of domestic terrorism.  Twenty dead and 26 injured. A baby is in a hospital with broken bones and without a mother,  because his mother who died in the shooting, threw herself over the baby's stroller to protect the baby from being shot.  This is madness.
In Downtown Dayton, Ohio a man in his 20s killed his sister and 8 others last night.
What are the elected officials in our country doing to stop this? I believe in the power of prayer and I pray everyday, but more than prayer is needed.
Sometime ago I read that college guidance counselors were overwhelmed and shocked with the amount of problems that college freshmen were entering college with. They were working overtime and it seemed many young people entering college were exhibiting troubling behaviors and anxiety.
The two mass shooters in the last 24 hours in our country were in their 20s. They've grown up on violent TV shows, violent movies and violent video games and having the internet and cell phones at their disposal. Computers and the internet are necessary, but sites that promote hate should be better monitored and taken down for public safety reasons.
I love the USA. I'm very grateful for all the opportunity that my family has been given because we live in this great country. But we are better than this. This is an embarrassment. There's a feeling of lawlessness, when you watch the news.
I pray elected officials do more, that positive change comes and this horrific weekend of mass shootings never happens again.
NJA

Friday, July 26, 2019

The Carmelites, The Brown Scapular, Our Lady of Fatima and Mary's Protection

We certainly need the inspiration and protection of Jesus and Mary during these uncertain times we are living through. My parish on Long Island was blessed to host the traveling international statue of Our Lady of Fatima and we had masses, talks, litanies and rosary's recited throughout the day, the statue was with us. The statue is very beautiful, carved from oak and though I think there is a sadness and concern on Mary's face, which I find perplexing,  it was an uplifting day.
I was one of the speakers and I spoke on the Importance of the Brown Scapular and the Carmelite Order. As a Lay Carmelite, I have many years of study plus I have great instruction books and so since I always write out my talks (I don't want to forget anything),  I covered a lot of material.   I spoke about the Old Testament prophet Elijah and how he is the spiritual father of Carmelites. It all started when he battled the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel and won the day (1st Book of Kings). Holy hermits lived on Mt Carmel for thousands of years, establishing themselves as a Marian order, with a chapel built there dedicated to Mary. The order takes its name, not from a particular founder but from a place-Mt. Carmel on the Mediterranean coast of the Holy Land.  Mt Carmel rises over 1,700 feet above sea level and towers above the Mediterranean coastline. It's limestone rocks form a cliff-like landscape. The name Carmel means, in Hebrew, "the garden," or "vine of God." Elijah also believed that when he prayed for rain after a severe drought, his prayers were answered and he saw, "A little cloud arose from the sea." That little cloud and others brought the rain. I loved that he believed that was a sign of Mary, who was to be the Mother of the Messiah (from the prophecies of Isaiah). In the fifth century, a greeting for Mary was, "Hail Cloud of Rain, that offers drink to the souls of the saints." I had never heard that before or didn't remember hearing it and I just love that Marian title and prayer of faith.

The Brown Scapular is a modified version of Mary's own garment. It has been called a "sleek, minimalist version" of the Carmelite habit. It is a grace-filled sacramental, not a good luck charm or amulet.

The Brown Scapular is a reminder of Mary's commitment to us and our commitment to Mary. It is a reminder of her constant presence in our lives and interest in us. The meaning of the scapular today is summed up in one of the prayers over the people at the end of Mass on the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, "Lord, grant that those who in devotion have put on the habit of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, may put on her virtues and also her unfailing protection."

As stated in one of my Carmelite instruction manuals, a scapular medal is also a sacramental as is the cloth scapular and is an approved substitute for the cloth scapular. The cloth scapular can be replaced with a medal, which has on one side the image of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, on the other side.

What does Our Lady of Mt. Carmel have to do with Our Lady of Lourdes and Our Lady of Fatima? Interestingly enough, Mary chose to make her last apparition at Lourdes, France on July 16th, 1858, the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Likewise, Sister Lucia's account while describing the vision of October 13th, 1917 at Fatima, she said, "It seemed to me I saw Our Lady in a form similar to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, holding the brown scapular as if offering it to humankind."

And so I can't cover everything I shared during the talk yesterday but one thing I mentioned is that if the participants didn't remember anything else I said, they should recall that like Elijah they should seek God in silence and solitude. In these uncertain, modern times we are living through, we all need silence and solitude to discern God's will for our lives and to commune with God.  A perfect time to do that is sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament in stillness.
NJA

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The Hamptons-The Good Life

I spent sometime in the Hamptons visiting my friend and I'm always struck by the amount of wealth on the South Shore/East End of Long Island. The historic towns are quite pristine, the restaurants serve delicious food, good wine and there are pretty vistas, not to mention the awesome beaches.  Its no wonder that celebrities and wealthy people, from all over,  flock there and spend millions of dollars on homes.  But there's also great (in your face) wealth inequality in the Hamptons. The workers, behind the scenes, who keep the lawns beautiful, and the maids who keep the hotel rooms and inns clean and the huge houses dust-free, are a stark reminder of the income inequality in our country. But to be hopeful,  since this is the land of opportunity (as my own grandparents took advantage of after coming from Italy in the 1920's) there is hope that anyone can climb the ladder of success.......and make it big in the USA.
While in Southhampton we visited the beautiful Basilica Parish of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. It is a Minor Basilica, a Gothic Revival style church of the Diocese of Rockville Center. On a quiet summer afternoon, it was peaceful and holy inside the sacred space of the Church. There were many intentions I had to pray for and so we sat surrounded by sacred art and beauty and felt at peace. The peace only a union with God can provide.
NJA

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Bishop Barron Expresses Concerns About the "Nones" At USCCB Meeting

Watching TV last night and listening to Bishop Barron speaking at the USCCB Spring Conference in Baltimore about the challenges the Church faces from the "Nones," (religiously unaffiliated),  young people who are deserting the Church in large numbers, you could get a sense of the seriousness of the problem the Church faces now and in the future. Bishop Barron is the right one to lead the evangelization effort to try to show millenials and young people that the Church has something good to offer them but its going to take creativity, energy, common sense approaches and resources to bring that about. And lots of prayer.
There are certainly solutions to combating secularism, individualism and an overall mistrust of institutions among the young, and honestly the sexual abuse crisis has not helped and caused great harm. Also the lack of transparency that continues in the episcopacy is a problem. But none of these problems are unsurpassable. The Holy Spirit combined with efforts geared at showing young people the value and goodness of delving into spirituality, different forms of prayer, Eucharistic Adoration, Mass, social justice activities, Bible study and the Catholic intellectual tradition could bear great "fruit."
There is no time to waste. The problem as Bishop Barron noted is very serious.
The Church needs to invest money, time, resources and experts to try to face this problem and come up with solutions.
NJA

Sobering Statistic:
"For every one person joining the Church today, 6.45 are leaving and most are leaving at young ages, primarily before age 23."

Friday, June 7, 2019

Bold, Forward Thinking Bishops Needed

According to many Catholic news sources, German Cardinal Kasper, said that "if during an upcoming meeting of bishops on the Amazon region the prelates asked for the ordination of married men, the Pope would grant the request." Though Pope Francis has said he doesn't want to be responsible for offering optional celibacy for Roman Catholic priests, and ending mandatory celibacy, it seems if the bishops tell him how dire the situation is, maybe he will consider it, not only in the Amazon region of the world, but everywhere.
I can't imagine the bishops who have priest shortages to deal with, and some priests responsible for multiple parishes and some diocese's facing large lawsuits from the sexual abuse crisis, won't think about the advantages of optional celibacy for men of exceptional virtue and love for the Church.
I don't understand how the Catholic Church can hold onto a failing policy (it doesn't work for everyone), and man-made law that is so obviously hurting the Church.
I fully understand that for some men, the discipline of mandatory celibacy is a good and holy option, but its not for everyone who wants to serve. Especially in the modern age, it is unrealistic to think that all men can live without the prospect of getting married and having a family.
The Church is going to have a hard time evangelizing in the modern age, if it doesn't look realistically at the problems it faces.
People want kind, compassionate, understanding and holy priests. It doesn't matter if they're married or not. I've met some very holy priests in the Greek Orthodox Church, with wives and children and they're making it work. And so are rabbi's, and Protestant ministers.
Bishops of the world need to be bold and courageous and ask the Pope to allow married priests and optional celibacy, not only in the Amazon but throughout the world.
Evangelical Protestant ministers are making great inroads in Africa and Latin and South America. They bring their wives along and they have a helper and companion to serve the Lord and do God's work.
Isn't the Eucharist and the availability of the Eucharist for all, more important that a man-made law
which narrows the "pool" of available holy men for the priesthood? Common sense must prevail and if prayer is needed to consider changing the law and allowing optional celibacy, then let the prayer begin. But the bishops of the world must help Pope Francis to see what is needed for God's people in the 21st century and how a man-made law can be changed for the good of the Church and its future.
NJA

Friday, May 24, 2019

Archbishop Wilton Gregory's Installation Mass and Great Homily in DC

Now that Archbishop Wilton Gregory has been installed as the 7th Archbishop of Washington perhaps healing can begin after the confusion, disappointment and turmoil that archdiocese had to go through. Sin and evil cause chaos and disruption and no where is that more apparent than there.
  I loved Archbishop Gregory's homily and his delivery of it.  It was heartfelt, real, Christ-centered and touching. Everyone seemed to love it, there was clapping when he finished and the bishops in attendance seemed to rejoice in it as well. 
...."Pope Francis has now summoned the Church-and by that I mean all the baptized to leave our comfortable confines and to encounter and welcome the poor, the marginalized and the neglected and to place them at the very heart of Christ's Church. Beginning today that is my task here in the Archdiocese of Washington. 
He pledged his fraternal affection for Pope Francis, who has given the Archbishop a great call and opportunity. 
He had kind words for Archbishop Pierre (the Pope's representative in the U.S.)who he called a "friend to our nation and a brother to the bishops of the United States. " I heard Archbishop Pierre speak at the installation Mass of Bishop Richard Henning (Auxiliary Bishop of Rockville Centre), which I attended,  and I was impressed with Archbishop Pierre as well. He seems genuine and likable. 
But my favorite part of the homily was when Archbishop Gregory spoke about the gospel. ....."He wisely chose his first disciples from among those who made their living on the sea, selecting individuals adept at handling their boats and nets certainly but also at using their wits....He recognized their fierce tenacity to get the job done and eventually redirect their focus from fish to families......"
He spoke about trusting in Jesus and how when the squalls came and the wind picked up, they became afraid, as we all would. 
"We too, like those frightened disciples tossed about by the wind and the waves have cried out, 'Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing? Jesus' questions to them are also meant for us: 'Why are you terrified/ Do you not yet have faith?'
This was the part I loved the most......."In their anxiety they had discounted that Jesus was literally in the boat with them. ...That very One was in the boat with them and in a breath, He calmed the wind and the sea and He restored their composure."
All good. I'm sure the Archbishop will be a blessing to that diocese. 
And the gospel singers were the best. I hope they put their songs on You Tube. The song at the end of the Mass left me uplifted and hopeful.
NJA