Friday, May 29, 2009

Heaven on Earth

On the beautiful garden island of Kauai, in the Hawaiian Islands, I thought to myself, how can one not see the "hand of God," in the natural, untamed beauty of the island. My cousin who lives in Kauai, had told me and my cousin Esther who visited her, that we were coming to paradise. If paradise (heaven for me) looks like Kauai, we're in for a treat. Looking out at Hanalei Bay on a gorgeous day in May, at the lush green mountains, the blue-green ocean water and the coastline, I was thinking that the colors were so perfect, the complexity, diversity and beauty of that place, along with so many other places on that island, could only be created by a divine artist. The divine Creator is indeed very creative and the colors of the palette that God uses are pleasing to the human eye, as they should be. The beauty is too spectacular to be a mere coincidence, with faith and intellect, I see the "hand of God," at work on that island, in a special way, as others do. I felt blessed on the many mornings that I looked out into the Pacific Ocean for the awareness and knowledge that I have of God and the appreciation I can feel for the gift of the beauty of the natural world and the recognition of a loving God who provided a magnificent creation for us to enjoy. I prayed in gratitude to God.  I'm well aware that many theologians do not believe that Heaven is an "actual place", but I disagree with that. For me, (and this is my opinion) Heaven is a "place," beyond our three dimensional world, it exists. I just wonder if perhaps Kauai could be a physical manifestation of what heaven looks like. Now I'm using my religious imagination of course, but what if in one place in the world, God created a physical (in our sense), duplicate of heaven and placed it there, in the Pacific Ocean. That would be pretty amazing.....just my thoughts......
If you ever get a chance, I suggest you visit Kauai and look for the "hand of God," in the beauty that is there. 
One day on the trip, looking out from Waimea Canyon Lookout at an elevation of 3,400 feet, we saw the multi-colored "Pacific Grand Canyon", quite an amazing sight. On the island, there are waterfalls, canyons, Hanalei Bay, the lush mountains, the intriguing and uninhabitable Napali Coast, which is 25 miles of nearly inaccessible coastline, with cathedral cliffs. There are  species of plants and wildlife, that can not be found anywhere else on earth. Mt. Waialeale is the wettest spot on earth and contributes to the island being in a continual state of bloom. It's something to see. I love flowers, so seeing the diversity of the flowering trees and bushes and their uniqueness was a treat, as well as banana and papaya trees. (We ate papayas every morning for breakfast!)
And so more in another blog, I'm tired from the long flight home, but at another time, I want to share about the welcoming parish of St. Catherine's in Kapaa, Kauai, where we attended Sunday Mass. The priests and parishioners know what is means to welcome visitors to their Church, so that was another good experience on the island. 

Monday, May 11, 2009

Williamsburg, Brooklyn for Brunch

I went to Williamsburg, Brooklyn for brunch with my family last weekend. I also wanted to see an art exhibit in a gallery on North 1st Street.  The exhibit was interesting, there were even a few religious pieces. Walking around Williamsburg on a warm Saturday afternoon is like being in a living, thriving, breathing, museum of sorts. 
We went to brunch at a great restaurant that I recommend called Juliette on North 5th St. between Bedford Ave. and Berry St. We sat in the outdoor rooftop garden terrace. The food was good, the atmosphere was great and the overall "scene" was interesting. You can people-watch, eat and converse at the same time, which is what everyone else was basically doing. 
The cheese store on Bedford had ravioli's for sale which were called Brooklyn Born Ravioli's. I wonder if they heard of my blog....There were a lot of street vendors selling books, jewelry and other items. I bought some old art calendars just to look through the old photographs in them, which I found interesting. They were a buy at $1.00 each. I love to shop at flea markets, you never know what you'll find. As I was walking along the crowded streets of Williamsburg, on a Saturday afternoon, I was thinking about a blog I wrote a couple of weeks ago about trying to evangelize young, urban adults living in trendy neighborhoods such as Williamsburg and even parts of Bushwick. From what I observed Saturday, the Church would have to be very creative and think outside the "box," to be successful in it's evangelization efforts. I wonder if there are creative missionaries out there who would be interested in the challenge? 
Anyhow, if you read my blog entries, thank you! I appreciate that you are interested in my writing. I am trying, at this stage of my life, to develop my writing ability and so keeping up the blog is a good way for me to express myself and be creative. Since I put a lot of time into my writing, it helps if people appreciate it and perhaps gain something positive from it. But in any event, I'm taking a break from blogging for a couple of weeks. I'm going to visit my cousin, when I return, I'll begin blogging again. So check back in a couple of weeks......
A quote for the month of May about Mary
In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary; call upon Mary. Let not her name depart from your lips; never suffer it to leave your heart....while she holds your hand, you cannot fall.  St. Bernard

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mary and Mothers

May each one of us, precisely through the concrete reality of Mary's universal motherhood, fully acknowledge her as our own Mother and trustingly commend ourselves to her maternal love. 
(John Paul II's catechesis on Mary)

Tomorrow is Mother's Day. I wish all mothers a Happy Mother's Day. You deserve it! Being a mother is a tremendous amount of work and takes much sacrifice. Raising good, kind, compassionate children with good Christian values is not easy in today's secular world. It takes a lot of effort, discipline, prayer and consistency. 
Some quotes about mothers and how special they are:
*There never was a woman like her. She was gentle as a dove and brave as a lioness...The memory of my mother and her teachings were, after all, the only capital I had to start life with and on that capital I have made my way.  Andrew Jackson
*I was determined that no daughter of mine was going to have to go through the agony of being afraid to say what she had on her mind....Just because she was a girl didn't mean she should be limited........Dorothy Rodham-mother of Hillary Clinton
*Always be nice to your children because they are the ones who will choose your nursing home.  Phyllis Diller
*Whenever I held my newborn baby in my arms, I used to think that what I said and did to him could have an influence not only on him but on all whom he met, not only for a day or a month or a year, but for all eternity-a very challenging and exciting thought for a mother.
Rose Kennedy
*Mama was my greatest teacher, a teacher of compassion, love and fearlessness. If love is sweet as a flower, then my mother is that sweet flower of love.  Stevie Wonder
*One fine my mother was putting the bread in the oven, I went up to her and taking her by her flour-smeared elbow I said to her, 'Mama...I want to be a painter'...My mother's love for me was so great that I have worked hard to justify it.  Marc Chagall

As a mother what can I say, what does being a mother mean to me? My sons are older now, young adults, but I still call them to remind them that it's Sunday and they should try to make time for Mass. I still encourage them to show kindness to others and help the less fortunate. (Every Christmas we give a dairy goat through Heifer International to a poor family somewhere in the world.) The Christian values they've been raised with, has helped them grow into the young men they are. It's made all the difference in the world. 

Thursday, May 7, 2009

1st President at Prayer

On this National Day of Prayer, I would like to share a story about the first president of the United States, George Washington.  Most scholars consider him to be one of the greatest. This story is told in the book, Our Country's Founders-A Book of Advice for Young People, edited, with commentary by William Bennett.
Washington's Prayer at Valley Forge, 1777
Franklin Delano Roosevelt observed that during the Revolutionary War, 'every winter was a Valley Forge. Throughout the thirteen states there existed selfish men, jealous men, fearful men who proclaimed that Washington's cause was hopeless and that he should ask for a negotiated peace.' Roosevelt observed that 'Washington's conduct in those hard times has provided the model for all Americans ever since-a model of moral stamina.' 
Prayer and faith sustained Washington through his many trials. Though some have disputed the accuracy of Washington biographer Mason Weems' depiction of Washington's praying at Valley Forge, many of Washington's fellow officers, such as Alexander Hamilton, reported that they often saw General Washington at prayer. Thus, I thought this was a wonderful account of inclusion. 
In the winter of '77, while Washington, with the American army lay encamped at Valley Forge, a certain good old friend, of the respectable family and name of Potts, had occasion to pass through the woods near headquarters. Treading his way along the grove, suddenly he heard the sound of a human voice, which as he advanced increased on his ear, and at length became like the voice of one speaking much in earnest. As he approached the spot with a cautious step, whom should he behold, in a dark natural bower of ancient oaks, but the commander-in-chief of the American armies on his knees at prayer! Motionless with surprise, friend Potts continued on the place till the general, having ended his devotions, arose and with a countenance of angel serenity, retired to headquarters: friend Potts then went home  and on entering his parlour called out to his wife, 'Sarah, my dear! Sarah! All's well! All's well! George Washington will yet prevail!'

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Missionaries Needed Everywhere-All Ages Welcome

In my last blog/column I wrote about missionaries that are needed in urban neighborhoods to bring the gospel to young people. Well, it seems the Pope is also thinking about missionaries and how much they are needed in today's secular world. Only I was thinking about young adult missionaries, it seems the Pope thinks even children can be missionaries, which is quite true. Anyone, filled with the Holy Spirit and confident of Christ's message and the fact that Jesus is a real friend-genuine and loyal, can effectively evangelize for Christ. 
According to an online article I read at, Pope To Kids: Now is The Time To Be Missionaries, "Pope Benedict XVI is inviting kids as young as 8 years old to 'enthusiastically speak about Jesus' so as to bring the light of the Gospel to those who do not know him." Some 4,500 children, ages 8 to 13 participated in an event sponsored by the Spanish chapter of the Pontifical Missionary Works and the Spanish Bishops' Conference. 
The Pope also encouraged the children, via a papal telegram, saying the children should "observe the various parts of the earth, to become aware of their beauties and necessities." He also told them to "grow in friendship with Jesus, the friend who never fails, through prayer and the sacraments, so as to speak with him with enthusiasm to those who have perhaps not had the joy of knowing him."
Encouraging young children to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ and to care for the environment is a great message. How encouraging that 4,500 children participated in an event of this kind. Can you imagine if all those children, heed the call and are inspired to take on this "project"? We should pray for them that the message from the Pope will inspire them to action, that the Holy Spirit will guide them and give them courage. This is worthy of prayer and yours. I have no doubt that 4,500 children, with the help of the Holy Spirit, with a mandate from the Pope, could help change the world or at the very least have a very positive effect on the missionary work of the Church. 
The following is a letter from a child written to God from the little book, Children's Letters to God compiled by Hample and Marshall-
Dear God
I like the Lords prayer best of all. Did you have to write it a lot or did you get it right the first time? I have to write everything I ever write over again. 

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Around Brooklyn....Bushwick

The Brooklyn Born Believer was in Bushwick, Brooklyn last week. (That's a tongue twister!) I was amazed to see Bushwick, at least the part that borders East Williamsburg, which is where I was, booming with new developments, condo's and new buildings going up. It seems young people are attracted to Brooklyn and all it offers and continue to move to Brooklyn from all over the country and even parts of the world. They also move to Queens. On a Spring Saturday afternoon, in nearby Williamsburg, the streets are packed with young adults (known as hipsters) strolling along Bedford Ave. In case you are not familiar with the term hipster, according to Wikipedia, hipster is a slang term which first appeared in the 1940's. In the 1990's and 2000's it was used to describe young, recently settled, urban, middle class adults and older teens in non-mainstream fashion and culture. Creative, trendy and artistic are words that are used to describe the young adults who have moved into Williamsburg and are also moving into parts of Bushwick. These neighborhoods are attracting artists and musicians and people who gravitate to creative people. 
 Pope John Paul II described missionary activity as the greatest and holiest duty of the Church (quoting Vatican II). Perhaps the Church in Brooklyn needs creative, artistic missionaries in Brooklyn, in neighborhoods such as Williamsburg, Park Slope, Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, Red Hook and Bushwick for creative, urban evangelization.  How can art, music and drama be used to reach the young  people (some are believers, some are Catholic),who are living in these vibrant, growing neighborhoods? 
During the Easter Season, when we hear about the boldness and courage of the apostles, especially St. Peter and St. Paul, we should be inspired to seek new and creative ways to evangelize the young adults in our midst. The gospel writers, stress the missionary mandate in their writings, Go therefore and make disciples of all nations...........I'll change that just a little, Go therefore and make disciples of all urban neighborhoods....and of course enlist the help of the Holy Spirit because it's not an easy task.