Friday, April 29, 2011

The Royal Wedding-The Power of Love & Hope

I woke up at 5:30 this morning to watch the Royal Wedding. What a wonderful feast day William and Catherine chose to wed on-the feast of St. Catherine of Siena-mystic and saint extraordinaire. That will bring extra blessings to their already very blessed lives. To see such a beautiful couple, so in love, married in a majestic church wedding in Westminster Abbey lifted my mood and gave me hope.
I needed to experience hope this morning after watching the devastating news the night before. I know I shouldn't watch tragic news late at night, because then I can't sleep. I was overwhelmed with sadness for the tragedy that struck so suddenly and changed the lives of so many in the southern part of the United States. I couldn't sleep thinking about the tragic loss of life, from the random, killer tornados. Such destruction, senseless chaos and loss is difficult to comprehend. One minute, these people affected by the destruction, had a normal life and within minutes everything they've worked for was gone, in the cruelest of fate. For some, their lives were taken from them. Images like that, can keep me up for hours at night, when I think of the real people living through that "hellish nightmare", a "nightmare" the survivors won't soon wake up from. I tossed and turned and prayed for them.
I had set my alarm for 5:30 and I was determined to watch the Royal Wedding in real time, as it was happening. So with a few hours sleep, I turned on the TV to watch a true celebration of love, a union in Christ and with Christ and I once again regained hope. In the words of Scripture that were read, in the wise reflection by the minister, in the meaningful hymns (which were sung to perfection), in the loving glances Prince William and Princess Catherine gave to each other, in the celebration playing out throughout England, there was hope and I needed to see those happy, joyous, faith-filled images early this morning. (I thought of the memory of Princess Diana and imagined her smiling down from Heaven, proud of her sons........). I needed to see and hear the depth and beauty that religion can bring to any tradition, ceremony or event, regardless of how much pomp and pageantry is present. If God is part of the celebration it has depth, meaning and grace, beyond what human beings can plan for or hope for. Jesus taught how much power there is in genuine love and in hope. Whenever Christ is present, hope thrives.
I was reminded and it was reinforced for me, that the power of love, hope and compassion will help to rebuild lives in the southern United States. Many of the people from the stricken areas of Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and other states, were people of deep faith and belief. Their faith will serve them well, as they rebuild their lives and damaged structures. They will hold their faith tight, because in their belief and hope, they will gain the strength they need to go on......and good people everywhere will help them.

In your nature, eternal Godhead, I shall come to know my nature. And what is my nature, boundless love? It is fire because you are nothing but a fire of love.........
O eternal Trinity, my sweet love! You light, give us light, you wisdom, give us wisdom, you supreme strength, strengthen us. Today eternal God, let our cloud be dissipated, so that we may perfectly know and follow your truth, in truth, with a free and simple heart. St. Catherine of Siena

My Lord, what do you want me to do? I will do it! St. Catherine

Sunday, April 24, 2011


A Happy and Blessed Easter to All! Alleluia!

On Good Friday, Catholics venerate the Cross. The greatest symbol of Christianity is held in front of churches throughout the world and believers walk forward and kiss the cross. Millions of people, from all walks of life, from children to the elderly, do this on Good Friday. I find it very inspiring. Good people, filled with hope, filled with belief in God and thanksgiving to Jesus for his supreme sacrifice and unconditional love for us, simply come forward and kiss the cross. In essence, they're saying, through this gesture, "Yes, we get it, we believe in Jesus, in his ultimate sacrifice." "We believe in the victory and the power of the cross." We respond with our humanness, as best we can, to that great act of selflessness and sacrifice, with a simple gesture of love and affection. It affects me.
I'm also inspired when I watch people receive Holy Communion. I always sit up front at Mass (so unusual for a Catholic!), and after receiving Communion and spending time in prayer, there is still time for me to watch the look on people's faces as they come forward to receive Communion. They lift their hands and hearts and there is such hope and expectation in their faces. They have hope that all the Church teaches will help them on their life journey. Yes, Eucharist does nurture, bless, sustain, give us spiritual nourishment and unite us to Christ. Easter joy, Easter hope, Easter resurrection.
Easter Sunday was a day filled with attending a beautiful Mass, followed by a family gathering, good food, laughter and new life. My cousin brought her month old baby, a little miracle to hold and to love. I hid Easter eggs in my backyard for my 3-year-old cousin to search for. Easter blessings in a new life unfolding, in the smiles of children and the togetherness of family.
Now it's time for me to try to finish getting my kitchen back in order before I pass out from exhaustion.
A Blessed Easter Season to all!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Evil Acts of Desecration

I was very sad to read at that a church in California was set on fire, in a cowardly act of arson and destruction of the sacred. Apparently, it "is the latest in a rash of attacks on Catholic churches in California over the past two years." According to the California Catholic Daily, "Bishop Gabino Zavala (an auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese), who lives two blocks away, was awakened by a neighbor pounding on his door just after midnight Saturday morning...He ran to this front lawn and saw flames shooting 150 feet in the air. He rushed to the Church, finding himself alongside priests and parishioners helplessly watching flames destroy the church and the rectory." The pastor of the church said, "I was unfortunately here to witness the horror of watching our church go up in flames."
Who would desecrate and destroy that which is holy, sacred and consecrated to God? Obviously, this is the work of depraved human beings, influenced and acting on behalf on the evil one (in my opinion).
As if that news wasn't bad enough, in Spain another act of desecration. St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Ignatius of Loyola and other Spanish saints must be weeping in Heaven. According to CNS, in the Spanish city of Ciempozuelos, "several intruders broke into a Spanish church, destroying the tabernacle and crown on a statue of the Virgin Mary. The sacristy was ransacked as well." A destroyed and desecrated tabernacle? Desecration of the Blessed Mother? These are blatantly evil acts committed during the holy season of Lent. Seems like the devil is getting bolder, more brazen and unusually active. Maybe his day of reckoning is coming soon. That would be good news for humankind. I can imagine a world rid of evil and all its ugly, destructive, horrific influences. I can picture a world filled with all goodness, compassion and virtues well lived, where the Great Commandment is lived to the fullest. When, Lord, when?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Passion/ The Ongoing Crisis in Japan

This Sunday is Palm Sunday and the Passion of Our Lord Jesus from St. Matthew's gospel will be proclaimed throughout the world, at Mass. Honestly, it's difficult for me to listen to. I can never bring myself to join in and cry out with the crowd, "Crucify him, Crucify him." I just listen. It's hard enough for me to listen to the Passion of Christ.....I can't verbally bring myself to say those words.
Millions of people in Japan are living through their own "passion" experience and a stripping away of all the security they've ever known. How you can go through the horrific events they've been through without faith and without God, is a total mystery to me.
Strong aftershocks continue. The nuclear crisis is not over and day after day there are confusing news reports about alarming radiation levels and further contamination. According to articles I've read, many Japanese people are turning to spirituality and prayer to help them find comfort in dealing with the multiple disasters they have to deal with. Prayer always changes things, in one way or another, for the better. Apparently, more and more Japanese people are stopping in to pray at shrines and even Catholic churches. However, I was surprised to read that 86% of Japanese people don't "believe in anything." How will they ever get through this without faith and hope?
Japanese officials claim that the scary nuclear crisis at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is improving while just a few days ago they raised the alert level from 5 to 7, putting the disaster on the same level as the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. A level 7 could mean "widespread health and environmental effects" in parts of Japan. Auxiliary Bishop Michael Goro Matsuura, of Osaka, is trying to raise awareness to fight the building of new nuclear plants in Japan and around the world. He was quoted as saying, "We call on the solidarity of all Christians to support this campaign."
Personally, I don't think the international community is doing enough. Is the International Atomic Energy Agency doing enough to monitor the situation? These are the questions I have and I imagine the Japanese people are thinking the same things, while living with anxiety.
The Passion, the suffering of Christ, the poor people of Japan living through their own "crucifixion" and too many of them not able (or don't understand how) to unite their sufferings to the sufferings of Christ and get some comfort from that. It's a lot to digest. I better go out into the sunshine today and go for a walk and get ready for the reading of the Passion on Sunday. I like to pray and walk, it's a good way for me to multi-task and clear my mind.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sad News From The Church in Germany

I read disturbing news about the future of the Catholic Church in Germany, which must be deeply upsetting to Pope Benedict. Can it be an accurate statistic that in 2010, there was a 40% rise in the number of German Catholics formally leaving the Church? Those figures were recently published by Die Zeit's religious supplement. That's high and the German hierarchy should be very concerned. What's happening there? I gather it's a combination of problems: secularization (a problem throughout Europe), the sex abuse scandal and the loss of trust has taken a terrible toll, modern technology and the lure of materialism....the list goes on. Money might be a factor too. According to an article I read, "Germans normally pay a Church tithe as part of their income tax but they may opt out if they relinquish their membership." Perhaps they don't want to tithe anymore for financial reasons.
What is the Church going to do about this latest dismal report? Sadly, these statistics will be widely reported when Pope Benedict visits Germany in September. I'm sure these findings are greatly disturbing to the Pope, especially since it concerns his native country. Where are the German evangelizers? Where are the young, innovative, creative German Catholics who can speak up for Christ and Christianity?
All I can say is, "Veni, Sanctus, Spiritus! Come quickly and help the German Church.