Monday, December 20, 2010

How Blessed We Are!

How blessed we are to celebrate the great feast of Christmas. How blessed we are to know Jesus and to have the advantages, blessings and graces of being in relationship with God. How blessed we are to know God's word and give it a priority in our lives.
There is no doubt this is a hectic time of year and I (along with millions of others) will be busy preparing for Christmas festivities and Christmas Eve dinner. But there is such meaning, joy and depth to this season of wonder and giving. It's wonderful to spend it with family and friends, to know that we are celebrating the greatest of all mysteries, the Incarnation-God with us. God becoming a human being to show us the primacy love should have in our lives is the greatest of gifts. God is love and to be aware of that and to try to live one's life always in mindfulness of that is a great gift.
Through life's ups and downs, through difficulties and stress, if we stay grounded in Christ, things will always work out better. To trust and to love God is the way to get through life, as far as I'm concerned. I read part of an article this morning, which I'll go back to, about how stressed out and emotionally disturbed so many college students are. It's so sad that young people have so much pressure on them and they are coming of age in a difficult economic situation and time of history. We all need Jesus and prayer to help us get through challenging and confusing times in our life and in the world. Only with trust and love will anything ever make sense and will people get their priorities straight. Parents have such a difficult job raising children and teens today and young people have so much being "thrown" at them, with advances in technology and a changing world economic situation. They need prayer, as we all do, to help stay focused and to remain hopeful. One college student was quoted as saying, "Life is hopeless." Faith and belief gives people hope, that is one of the best things about it.
Let's hope and pray, everyone comes to the realization that prayer, solitude, rest, renewal, religious beliefs and rituals, and living in peace and hope will make a positive difference in our lives.
Let's hope and pray the New Year brings more positivity, more hope, more kindess in our world and PEACE. Please God, give us PEACE!
Peace to you and A Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year to All!
My blogging with continue, with God's grace in 2011!! See you then and thanks for reading my blog. I appreciate it!
NJ Azzaro

Fill us with your love that all our days we may sing with joy! (Psalm 90:14)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Millenial Challenge

I read a brief article at Huffington Post titled, "What Matters to Millenials: Pew Study." The Millenial generation-young adults between 18 and 29 years of age are a unique group of young people who experienced (and are continuing to experience) a dramatically changing world. Technology created an entirely different world from the one I grew up in. I am very familiar with millenials as I have two sons in that age category. The article stated that millenials are getting married later than earlier generations. These observations and others were gathered from the Pew Research Center survey which was done in January and surveyed 2,020 young adults. They were asked a variety of questions about what's important to them. It was widely reported in the news. Some of the interesting findings were: millenials who can't find jobs are living with their parents (only because they have to). The present economic situation has created difficulties for many young people. Single millenials who do have jobs are living in trendy neighborhods (I'm referring to NYC), such as Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Park Slope, Red Hook, the lower East Side, The East Village, Gramacy Park and other "hip" neighborhoods.
One of the sadder findings of that survey, which was reported in the news, is that millenials are not that religious. According to the survey, "Young adults attend religious services less often than older Americans. And compared with their elders today, fewer young people say that religion is very important in their lives."
As I've written about before, there exists a large group of unchurched and non-practicing young adult Catholics. How do you reach them is the challenge for the Church. Creative thinking and creative evangelization would help. From what I've observed millenials like to go for brunch on Sunday mornings and afternoons. It's difficult getting into a restaurant on Sunday mornings and afternoons in trendy neighborhoods.
One finding that I thought was positive was though they get married later and wait to have children, when asked what was important to them, they replied that being a good parent was very important to them. I guess the hope is that when they become parents they will realize how important it is to raise their children with faith and belief. So perhaps they will embrace religion and religious services as they get older. Let's hope so.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Compassionate Farmers and Other Inspiring News

I spent the day with my cousins in Long Beach, LI. I have a newly adopted two-year-old cousin from China and she is just adorable. Being able to spend the day having lunch, bonding and playing with her was a real joy. The simple pleasures of life..... getting to know and love a lucky little girl who was brought from an orphange from half way around the world to a loving, caring family on Long Island. There are so many generous Americans, who do so much good for others and that's good news.
In other good news, compassionate and generous farmers from across New York State recently attended a meeting on Long Island and they came bearing gifts. They gave food donations to Island Harvest, Long Island's largest hunger relief organization. Including this most recent donation, farmers across the state have donated more than 4.7 million pounds of food to organizations and over 1.5 million pounds on Long Island alone. "Food is collected through the 'Harvest For All' program." According to John Evers, the Director of the Food Bank Association of New York, "Due to the generosity of NY farmers from every part of our State, millions of people have been rescued from hunger this year. Farm donations of fresh produce has not only helped us feed the hungry but also added to the overall health and well-being of our local communities" (from I hope they receive many blessings for their generosity and good example!
In other interesting news, I read at the Deacon's Bench (he's always moving......) an inspiring story coming out of Billings, Montana about an Episcopal priest who converted to Catholicism today and is becoming a Catholic priest. What's unusual for the people of Billings is that Fr. Bart Stevens is bringing his wife and five children along with him and that's a first for the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings. According to the Billings Gazette, "he joins a small fraternity of married Roman Catholic priests. Since 1980 slightly more than 100 former Episcopalian priests in the U.S. have been ordained in the Catholic Church." The reason Fr. Bart gives for his conversion is very inspiring, he said that, "He found fullness of faith in the Catholic Church that he had been seeking all his life." Many blessings on his ministry and his family!

I just love the Catholic Church and my hope, my earnest desire as a Catholic priest is to help Catholics rediscover the richness, the beauty of their Church and their tradition. (Rev. Bart Stevens)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Lacking Compassion in the Modern World

The U.S. Labor Department announced on Dec. 3rd that the economy added just 39,000 jobs in November, much lower than expected. A jobless recovery might be the new normal and it's not good news for the unemployed. What's even more disturbing and sad are the difficulties the long term unemployed are going through. With all the problems they are dealing with, an article at Huffington Post, titled, "Employers Won't Hire The Jobless Because of the 'Desperate Vibe'", by Laura Bassett states that employers have such a large pool of applicants to choose from, for job openings, that one headhunter suggested that the unemployed are at a disadvantage when applying for a job because they seem desperate. He said, "When you lose your job, you will interview from a position of weakness." Well, perhaps they are desperate and how sad is that. Most people that commented on the article were as disturbed as I was, when I read it.
The headhunter was quoted as saying, "When you show desperation in your face and your tone during an interview, management is going to pick up on that vibe. They're gonna feel it and see it and notice something's off......they're awkward and the other person's gonna be turned off. It's always better for a person to interview while they're employed." He was only interested in interviewing people who already had jobs, "the jobless need not apply."
It seems the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics supports what he's stating. The sad reality is that the "longer a person has been out of a job, the more unlikely it is that he will get a job."
Employers can "discriminate" freely against the unemployed. The unemployed are the most downtrodden, insecure and "desperate" people in our society right now. They are people who could be on the verge of losing their homes, their medical coverage, who might not have money to buy food or Christmas presents for their families.
I pray someone will have compassion, a Christ-like compassion for these long term unemployed people. They obviously need help. Many American families are hurting.
The Church needs to lend it's voice to this problem and through it's social justice activities and programs try to help, in whatever ways it can. The Church needs to be more vocal in this area, in my opinion.
This Advent, the unemployed need to feel that someone cares, that the Church cares and is willing to take action on their behalf. I hope and pray positive, supportive action will come and soon.