Monday, April 26, 2010

Courage, Spirituality and the Path To God

I went to Bayside, Queens on Sunday afternoon to St. Robert Bellarmine Parish to attend a talk by Fr. Donald Haggerty, as part of a Catholic Speakers Series. Fr. Haggerty is a moral theologian, spiritual director and professor at St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers, NY. He is also a retreat leader and he's given many retreats for the Missionaries of Charity, ( a religious order founded by Mother Teresa in 1950) , all over the world. Years ago I took courses at St. Joseph's as part of some post-graduate courses I took. After receiving my Master's degree from Fordham, I've taken many courses over the years, here and there, some for credit, others for non-credit. I'm always trying to learn more and gain new insights and knowledge in spirituality, in particular about Christianity. In any event, I know Fr. Haggerty is a gifted teacher and a wonderful priest. He also writes wonderful reflections for Magnificat. 
On Sunday, I noticed that there was a film crew present, who apparently were going to film Fr. Haggerty's talk. Since I'm always curious, I went up to the cameraman and asked who he was filming for. His answer wasn't too surprising, especially since I was in the Diocese of Brooklyn. He was filming for NET-TV, the evangelization television network of the Brooklyn Diocese. There will be a clip of Fr. Haggerty's talk on the Currents News Show. The title of his talk was, "Catholic Teaching on Cooperation in Evil." 
There are many ways, sadly, that human beings can cooperate with evil and evil intentions. That's why prayer, going to Mass and staying on the right path in life is so important. There is a lot of evil in the world, it's so evident in the news. Through prayer God guides us, strengthens us for the journey and gives us courage. As Fr. Haggerty mentioned, Catholicism is about heroism. The Church was built on the heroic men and women martyrs, saints, apostles and ordinary disciples of the early Church. They had a great deal of courage in the face of adversity and persecution. They were Spirit-filled. From a personal standpoint, I believe God is with me, at all times, in all situations. That doesn't mean I haven't had my share of dark periods in my life because I have, but I understand that's part of the human condition. As one famous writer put it, "Life is difficult." 
When Fr. Haggerty was speaking about cooperation with evil, I was thinking about something which is prevalent today and an issue that concerns me. I always warn parents about it, during talks that I give. What I spend time talking about is the prevalence of bullying in our society. Children and teenagers can be bullied in school, at play and then there is cyberbullying, which takes place through the internet. When children are bullied, gossiped about or harrassed, it's very destructive. There have been some very well documented cases, in the news, of children, teenagers and even adults who committed suicide because of gossiping and bullying, which was detrimental to their self-image and self-esteem. Jesus was bullied, hated by some, threatened, stalked and eventually killed by his enemies. He was an innocent man/God. He warned us it could happen to us. And it does, unfortunately. Teaching children and adults to rely on God's love and the love of family, to build a deep relationship with God, based on trust and gain self-esteem  and self-confidence from that relationship with God and close family and friends is very important in this world we live in. Human beings can be very fickle and children need to know that. They also need to know that we are made in the image and likeness of God and are beloved by God.
Fr. Haggerty's talk centered more on life issues and what the Church teaches regarding those issues and cooperation with evil in regard to those who fail to respect or protect life.  It was very enlightening. I learned a lot as I always do, which is why I'm still learning, growing, listening, reading and attending lectures, as I continue to journey towards God.

The eyes of the Lord are upon those who love him; God is their mighty shield and strong support, A shelter from the heat, a shade from the noonday sun, a guard against stumbling, a help against falling.  (Sirach 34:16)

It is you who bless us Lord; you surround us with favor as with a shield. (Ps.5)