Tuesday, May 31, 2011

New Yorkers-Busy, Culturally Stimulated and Reaching Out to God

Some good news coming out of New York. For those of us who live here we know that New York is a culturally rich and religiously rich and stimulating place to live. If you are bored in New York, it's no one's fault but your own. There's a lot to do, throughout New York State and of course in the city as well. I recently went on a day trip to The Cloisters, located in Fort Tyron Park in NYC. It is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. God bless John D. Rockefeller Jr. for his generosity and vision in promoting and establishing this museum through his charitable work. He donated his collection of medieval art to the museum that he endowed as well. I had been there many years ago, but during this visit I was awestruck by the beauty of the medieval cloisters, that have been reconstructed in the museum, as well as the art from medieval Europe. After visiting The Cloisters, which provided enough cultural stimulation for a week for me, there was more. The day trip included a guided tour of Central Park, another gem in the city.
So I wasn't surprised when I read an article recently that New York suicide rates are the lowest in the country. There are states that rank higher in levels of well being or happiness but when it comes to suicide, apparently we're the lowest. There's a lot of diversity, stimulation and things to do here, which I'm not sure has anything to do with the statistics, but I know if someone is depressed, there's certainly a lot to take their mind off their problems here.
Also, there are a lot of houses of worship here, with Masses, prayer services and religious services throughout the day. All the major world religions are well represented in New York and it's a well known fact that belief, prayer and belonging to a faith community helps people feel better and lessens anxiety and feelings of hopelessness. (According to studies I've read, people who believe in God and pray also live longer.) Believing in God and praying helps people to feel better and also gives people a sense of purpose and hope, even in the midst of problems and despair. So perhaps that has something to do with it as well. Also, of course, prayer connects us to God and opens us to grace and blessings. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, we're created for fullness of life and joy, it's so sad when people fall into despair and don't realize that.

Jesus said, I have come that you might have life and have it to the full.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Rapture Busted!

I know exactly why the Rapture and devastating earthquakes predicted by Harold Camping and believed by so many of his followers did not happen. Those billboards and that expensive end of the world campaign and all those diligent volunteers (some of whom quit their jobs), caused so many thousands of people to pray (extra hard) that May 21st would be a non-event, which thank God it was. There was no unusual earthquake activity on the planet for that day. Many thousands I suspect (including myself) prayed that worldwide destruction wouldn't happen. The prayers were some added insurance. Of course I knew and wrote that it wasn't going to happen as Harold Camping had predicted. The calculations didn't make any sense to me, if they did I might have been alittle nervous. So I prayed as I often do for God's mercy, love and faithfulness for all people of good will and deep faith. Where would we be without God's mercy, forgiveness, love and creative, divine input? Where would we be without the Holy Spirit? Nowhere. Sensible believers of all faiths, who prayed for calm and peace that day and fervently lifted their prayers to God, outweighed the negativity, negative talk and false thinking and predictions.
In reality, I knew there wouldn't be a Rapture, because, first of all Catholics don't believe in the Rapture and second of all, God is a merciful God, a God who is always trying to help us at all times. God wants our salvation, peace, and wholeness. God desires justice and peace for the world and has given us the means to achieve it. I hope and pray the doomsday predictions never come true and that Judgment Day is a figurative scenario (not meant to be taken literally), in the Book of Revelation. Many well respected theologians believe what is written in the Book of Revelation about the end times is figurative.
Let's keep praying for that. God is love. It says that over and over again in the Bible and in different ways it demonstrates that truth.
I believe if there is ever an end time scenario, (God forbid!), we will most likely cause it ourselves through ignorance and greed. It will not come as a Judgment Day from God.
God is love. It's simple to understand, it needs no interpretation or calculation. God loves each of us more than we can imagine and certainly more than we can fit into our brains.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Parade of Fools-Believing in the May 21st Date

I was in Westbury, Long Island on Sunday afternoon and a parade of vans, cars and buses passed me on Old Country Road covered with signs and posters warning of the end of the world on May 21st, which happens to be this Saturday. I have to say they were getting attention. I've already written a blog entry titled, May 21st-The End of the World? Not! which explains why I think this whole thing is ridiculous, as do most others. These false warnings and the amount of media coverage they've received is absurd. I don't blame the media for covering the story. Yet, I'm concerned that this misleading, frightening information about the world coming to an end beginning with a catastrophic earthquake, is being placed on billboards, where it upsets and confuses people and disturbs children. All the money that is being wasted on this end time campaign could have been used for better purposes. Perhaps Harold Camping will one day acknowledge that before God. I imagine he'll be on his knees when he does so.
At a Communion Party I attended on Saturday, someone asked me what I thought about this latest apocalyptic scare. "I'm not worried," was my response. Firstly I said, "When the Pope tells me that things don't look good and we're in for some rough times and perhaps living through the end times, then I'll start to worry. Until then, I'm not concerned." Someone at the table, (who happens to be Jewish and related to me through marriage) replied, "I agree with that!" Of course it says in the Bible, that no one knows the day or hour of the end of this world as we know it or Jesus' return in glory. As one professor pointed out, "If Jesus didn't know the date of his return, when he was questioned about it, why would Harold Camping have that information? Does Harold Camping know more than Jesus?" Of course not! What I find fascinating is how many people believe in this absurd warning and feel they have to join this "movement", and invest large sums of money in it. Camping has done this before and incorrectly chosen an apocalyptic date on which nothing happened.
There is a website I found titled, "Refute Camping," which you can check out. I don't understand why he was able to put up billboards of this type. I think it's wrong that he was "allowed" to pay to put up this type of inflammatory, frightening, misleading information which makes people nervous. That doesn't make sense to me. Why should he be allowed to mislead the public, because of his erroneous thinking and calculations?
The Church should realize that next year in the year 2012 these end time scenarios and warnings will be everywhere. The Church should address this and help people deal with all these end time scares, as children are talking about this stuff and it's unnerving some of them. Some people are taking the 2012 date more seriously. People are investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in the building of underground shelters and making millions selling "equipment" and life saving gear for the end time.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bishop Paprocki Takes a Stand Against the Evil One

What a great idea! Go get him! I applaud the idea and action of Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois who is restoring the recitation of the prayer of St. Michael the Archangel, at every Mass. Beginning immediately, the prayer will be recited after the dismissal and before the recessional or closing song in his Diocese. The Bishop was quoted as saying, "While Christ's death and resurrection have restored the gifts of heavenly treasures for us, we also have to recognize that the devil, Satan, is real and he will do everything in his power to deflect us from our goal, which is eternal life on high with Christ in his kingdom." Not only does he try to deflect us from our goal, but he causes havoc in our world. There is much evil in the world and the influences of evil show up everywhere, unfortunately. I agree with Bishop Paprocki and I think reciting the powerful prayer of St. Michael at every Mass will help defeat the evil presence and evil influences in the world. It will be a help to parishioners as well.
On the beautiful St. Michael prayer card that a friend recently gave to me it says, "We should make it a sacred duty to join fervently in this important prayer, repeating if often each day."
Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict have suggested that Catholics recite the prayer of St. Michael daily and especially after Mass. Up until 1965, it was recited at Mass. I say bring it back. It can only help people of faith.
In my opinion, anyone who doesn't believe in evil or evil influences has a veil over their eyes and mind. Everytime I watch the news or read a newspaper, there's evidence of evil in the world. It's very plain to me.

Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel
Saint Michael the Archangel defend us in battle. Be our safeguard against the wiles and wickedness of the devil. Restrain him, O God, we humbly pray and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly Host, by the power of God, cast into hell, Satan and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin and destruction of souls. Amen.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

John Paul II Beatification Party

I was invited to a Pope John Paul II beatification party on Saturday in Queens. Members of my family were a bit amused when I mentioned on Easter Sunday that I would attend the party. A party to celebrate the beatification of a pope? They had never heard of such a thing! Well, it was a first for me too. It turned out to be a fun day. It was good to socialize, converse and at the same time watch EWTN's coverage of the evening prayer service vigil which was taking place at the Circus Maximus in Rome. The front of the house in Queens Village, where the party took place, had a huge papal banner hanging on it. Apparently, the neighbors had some questions about it. I thought there might be some trivia questions about the late pope, so I studied alittle, but no one asked any questions.
There was a interesting mix of people: religious and laypeople. The hosts were most gracious and are well known in the Diocese of Brooklyn. Since I didn't ask their permission to mention their names I won't, but they are the best of the best, a wonderful couple, who live their faith and are fans of JP II.
There were huge crowds in Rome for the beatification of Pope John Paul II. Approximately 1.5 million people filled St. Peter's Square and the surrounding streets in Vatican City for the Mass. In his homily, Pope Benedict said, "Six years ago we gathered in this Square to celebrate the funeral of Pope John Paul II. Our grief at his loss was deep, but even greater was our sense of an immense grace which embraced Rome and the whole world: a grace which was in some way the fruit of my beloved predecessor's entire life and especially of his witness in suffering. Suffering and grace, grace and witness, holiness bearing fruit even in death......"
"Holiness bearing fruit even in death........" an interesting statement. In the lives of many saints, their grace and gifts continue to be a blessing to humankind even after their death. That was very evident in the life of St. Therese of Lisieux.
It seems the entire weekend was filled with grace. Sunday, as most know was Divine Mercy Sunday as well. I went to a beautiful service in my parish. And then later that night I waited with everyone else to listen to the important and unexpected presidential message. I watched and listened and hoped. I like everyone else was amazed at what I heard. I read this morning that Vice President Joe Biden was either praying the rosary or holding a rosary, while events unfolded in Pakistan in real time, that would change the world. I pray the world is a better place. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end of terrorism and a time of peace and common sense will prevail......Hope springs eternal.