Thursday, August 25, 2011

Earthquakes, Hurricanes and Other Uncertainties

I called my cousin, who lives in Virginia with her family, the day the earthquake struck to see how they were doing. I didn't feel a thing in New York but of course many New Yorkers did and were shaken from the experience. My cousin said that when the earthquake struck her area, it felt and sounded like a truck was going into her house. She screamed for her two teenage children to jump into the bathtub and that's what they all did. It was an unnerving experience for them and understandably so. The ground was literally shaking beneath them and what could be more unsettling than that.
Now in the most recent news reports, there is another rare event happening on the East Coast. A powerful and damaging hurricane named Irene is menacing the East Coast of the United States and worrying everyone in its path. Since I tend to worry and my house is surrounded by huge trees, being at home is really not that safe but what choice do I have. I can only wait and pray for the best as many others are doing. Everyday is a gift to be enjoyed and savored, if only I could remember that all the time.
When it says in the Bible to be spiritually ready at all times, since no one knows the day or hour of the end of the world or the end of our own fragile life, it's good to be spiritually prepared for anything, at all times. We so often forget that when things are going well.
Life can "throw" anything at us, at any time. We're seeing that unfold this week. The obvious ways to be prepared spiritually by saying our prayers, being attentive to one's relationship with God, being a good Christian and following Jesus' advice for living rightly and justly with others are good ways to sail through any "storm" in life.
My cousins from Virginia are good, caring people, who are active in their Church. My cousin's husband is a convert to Catholicism and he joined the Knights of Columbus as soon as he converted. They try to live rightly and justly and they were ready for anything. Thank God nothing happened to them, but in my opinion, spiritually they were ready.
Another thing I value very highly besides prayer and living according to Jesus' words is common sense. Using common sense can provide safety in this uncertain world we live in. I've written this before and I'll write it again because I think it's important and I think it's only common sense. I hope and pray that someday, in the near future, the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant which is so close to NYC and it's suburbs will be closed and other energy sources will be found to supply our needs. Why? The answer is just plain, old common sense. The unusual earthquake that struck Virginia measured 5.8 in intensity. Indian Point can only withstand a 6.1 earthquake and one or more of its reactors was built on fault line. (Hello, who builds a nuclear power plant close to NYC on a fault line??) And though this was a rare seismic event, a geologist on CNN the other evening said, "We could see another earthquake, a large one on the East Coast of the United States, in the future. I can't rule it out." (I'm paraphrasing but he said something like that.)
Using prayer and common sense would tell me, tell anyone who is thinking straight that Indian Point has to close at sometime in the future. Find alternative energy sources and put those people who presently work at Indian Pt. to work on other sources, but let's be realistic about the future and the safety of over 12 million people.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

World Youth Day-2011-Hope From The Young

I looked in the secular press this morning and yesterday morning and in the two New York newspapers I read there was not an article, not even a small one in international news about World Youth Day. In today's Sunday NY Times, not a word (unless it was so small I missed it!) That's puzzling to me. A million or more young people from 193 countries from around the world gather in Madrid, Spain for an event and not a word. Incredible! On the front page of the Sunday NY Times there's a photograph of the turmoil in Libya, (a depressing photograph),which is, of course, important news, but not a word about one million young people gathering in peace to demonstrate faith, peace and hope. It's absurd that one million young people gathering in Spain is not news, (to some editors) no one should know about it, unless you read a Catholic newspaper, visit a Catholic website or blog or watch Catholic television??
On a more joyful note, I've been watching EWTN's coverage of World Youth Day and of Pope Benedict in Spain meeting and praying with the young pilgrims and I have been uplifted by their faith and joy. Smiling, faith-filled, joyful young people waving flags, jumping for joy and having a good time expressing their faith was cause for hope. I was particularly moved when I participated (from home) in the solemn praying of the Stations of the Cross on Friday evening. It was very moving. When the marginalized young people, with disabilities, picked up the cross and carried it so reverently I was moved to tears. (I noticed a young man with Down's Syndrome carrying the Cross so proudly, it was touching.)
It seems to me the Church gets this so right, WYD is planned with precision and it's amazing to watch it unfold thousands of miles away. What a great, inspiring Catholic event this is. This is something the Church can be proud of.
John Allen in an article called these faith-filled young people-Evangelical Catholics. I don't doubt that the future Church rests on their shoulders and others like them. Most have traveled from all parts of the globe, they are withstanding heat, discomfort and even a rainstorm on Saturday night. And still they wave their flags, they pray, and smile while giving a positive witness to us all.
From what I've observed so far on TV and from the blog posts I've read, these young people have given me hope, not only me but I'm sure all the bishops, priests, nuns and laypeople who are there as well. And of course the Pope himself. These young people are filled with the light of Christ, I'm grateful for their enthusiasm and faith. God Bless them all!

Seeing you gathered here in such great numbers, from all parts of the world, fills my heart with joy. I think of the special love with which Jesus is looking upon you. Yes, the Lord loves you and calls you His friends. He goes out to meet you and He wants to accompany you on your journey, to open the door to a life of fulfillment and to give you a share in His own closeness to the Father"..........Pope Benedict-Closing Mass-WYD-2011

**Update-Finally, on Monday, Aug. 22nd an article appeared in the New York Times about World Youth Day!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Baptism and a Flood

I attended my cousin's baptism on Sunday afternoon at St. Anthony's Church in Oceanside, Long Island. It wasn't easy for my family to get there. Major roads were closed because of the record rainfall in NYC and Long Island and we had to maneuver through closed and flooded roads. I was just alittle stressed thinking we would miss the baptism rite. We finally arrived only a few minutes late and the Deacon who was presiding waved us in, as he caught sight of us at the side door, nearest the altar. Even though he had started, he was most welcoming, "Come in, it's all good" I remember him saying to us. A nice way to be welcomed into Church after navigating through a rainstorm. We made our way into the pew near the rest of our family. I later found out the Deacon's name, Mike Monahan. He was enthusiastic, well spoken and he did a great job speaking to the parents and godparents who were present. He helped them understand the responsibility entrusted to them in raising a good Christian. He was assisted by his wife at the baptism. I thought that was wonderful, that she was able to help him in his ministry and be present as well. I thanked him at the end of the baptism, telling the Deacon he had done a good job. There is so much to be said for enthusiasm, an upbeat attitude, combined with knowledge of the faith, good preaching and a well planned ritual. That's the formula needed to fill up our churches, in my opinion.
Many guests did not show up for the dinner party following the baptism. Unfortunately, some were home cleaning up flooded basements in the city and Long Island. Others couldn't make it from New Jersey because of the flooding. What a day! Yet there was grace in the midst of chaos.
Record rainfall amounts might be the new norm (though I hope not). Ironically, on Sunday, the day of the flooding an article appeared in NY Newsday that morning titled, "Global Warming Turns Up the Heat on Long Island" by Jennifer Smith. It turned out to be a timely article. The article told how global warming is affecting Long Island already. According to scientists, "Be in no doubt, the world is warming" (Peter Thorne, scientist). And in what may be related, "Heavy downpours, the kind that flood streets, soak basements and sweep pollutants into bays-increased 67 percent in the Northeast from 1958-2007, a federal report found." One report I read months ago stated that some areas of the world would experience droughts due to global warming and other areas would experience record rainfall. That's what seems to be happening already. It's unnerving.
We should all be trying to conserve energy and do our best to prevent any further damage to the environment. Let's hope future generations take this threat seriously. I pray that they do!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

It All Falls Down

As you probably know, there has been recent rioting and civil unrest in England that has ravaged parts of London and other major cities. My son has a good friend who lives in London, so I asked my son if he had spoken to him to see how he's doing. His friend Mike, just got back from China, where he was spending some much needed time with his family. Now back in London he's dealing with the depressing and unsettling events happening in England. Though he is not directly affected, he's unnerved as are other Londoners. But he's fine and he appreciated that we were concerned about him. Mike is a fine young man, who was kind enough to pick me and my husband up from the airport a few years ago, when we visited London. My son who was working in London at the time, for a few months, did not have a car and Mike volunteered to pick us up at the airport. We arrived in London very early in the morning. I was quite impressed by that show of kindness. Mike is a hard-working young man, respectful, kind and totally unlike the unruly and destructive youths who are setting fires, breaking the law and looting in England. (There are some reports that some of them are laughing while they are being destructive, which is scary to me.) It is a truly appalling situation, and like other situations around the world, such as the financial crisis and the horrific famine in Somalia, things just seem to be spinning out of control, at times. The 2012 end of the world believers must be thinking, "We were right, it's coming!"
It just makes you wonder.......Europeans in large numbers have turned away from religion, from belief in God, from religious traditions and rituals and some believe there is a moral decline in society. Is there a connection? I wonder......The reality is in 2011 you have thousands of young men and women turning to violence in Britain, to bring attention to their plight. Their frustrations with high unemployment, lack of opportunities, wealth disparity in their faces, and their inability to find meaning work are understandable, their way of dealing with it, is horribly wrong, unlawful and sinful.
Prime Minister, David Cameron put it this way and I would agree:
The sight of those young people running down streets, smashing windows, taking property, looting, laughing as they go, the problem of that is a complete lack of responsibility, a lack of proper upbringing, a lack of proper ethics, a lack of proper morals. (August 2011)
One of the benefits of belief in God and adhering to religious beliefs and doctrines is following a proper moral code, such as the Ten Commandments. When religion or the foundational beliefs and moral code of religions (all the major world religions have them) are removed from society, in my opinion, you are playing "with fire."

Friday, August 5, 2011

Helping the Downtrodden in New York City

With so much uncertainty in the news and with the prospect of a global economic downturn looming (or God forbid worse!), it was good to read some uplifting and positive news. I applaud a new initiative in New York City to help disadvantaged, "undereducated, incarcerated and unemployed" young black and Latino men in NYC. As explained in a NY Times article I read yesterday titled, "City Campaign Seeks To Lift Young Black and Latino Men," by Michael Barbaro and Fernanda Santos, "Starting this fall, the administration said it would place job-recruitment centers in public housing complexes where many young black and Latino men live, retrain probation officers......establish new fatherhood classes and assess schools on the academic progress of male black and Latino students." What's so interesting about this new program is that Mayor Bloomberg who is a billionaire and also the mayor of NYC, is using some of his personal wealth to cover part of the cost of the program. The mayor can well afford it, but it is still very generous of him and he deserves praise for doing it. (He seems to be spending a lot of money lately, he also just purchased a magnificent estate in Southhampton, Long Island).
Mr. Bloomberg is a very wealthy man. It seems to me that the billionaires of the world are going to have to step up and share their wealth with others, following the good example of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. They are philanthropists who use large parts of their fortunes for the good of humankind. Through their generosity and goodness, they encourage others to do so, which I think is very noble.
Unfortunately, many of the world economies are in trouble and it's a fact that individual billionaires throughout the world hold vast amounts of wealth. I hope and pray they will follow the good examples of rich philanthropists and give to good causes to help lift the downtrodden and those who are suffering from famine as well.
They will receive many blessings for their generosity. It's true the more you give, the more blessings that come back to you. I've seen that happen over and over again.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Needing A Dose of Optimism

Optimistic people are happier people. They look to the future with hope. Optimism and hope are necessary for Christians and people of all faiths, because we live in a fallen world, where it seems evil has a strong foothold. After reading the headline stories at, for Catholic world news, over the weekend, it was easy to fall into despair. One headline story after another about failures in the Church, at all levels. It is really disheartening for those of us who love the Church and know the treasure and gift that the Church can be. But something is out of whack. Some of the accusations I read in one story, are something out of a bad, crude, scandalous novel, they are almost unbelievable.
There are those of us whose lives have been enriched by the Church and the teachings of Jesus, who know it is a force for good in the world. But it's time (in my humble opinion) for Church leaders to meet to discuss the challenges the Church is facing in the modern world. We live in a fast-paced, quickly changing world, due to modern technology. These are challenges the Church has never faced before. The internet has changed the world forever. Making an effort to use modern technology for good and to promote Church teachings and the teachings of Jesus is important but it's more important for the Church to realistically look at the problems it's facing and act wisely, constructively and realistically while invoking God's Holy Spirit for guidance. Prayer is needed, but action is needed too. Headlines such as "Germans Leaving the Church in Record Numbers," or the problems happening in Ireland or Australia should be a wake-up call.
Getting back to optimism, I read this from an online article titled, "The Importance of Optimism," by Dan Floros, "Optimism allows us to move on, despite our setbacks, despite our bruises. There are no failures if we learn and decide to bounce back from such obstacles. Failures are only failures if we decide to remain defeated. The word 'optimism' gives us some clues here. 'Opt' equates to choice. Each one of us has a choice, to see things pessimistically (glass half empty) or optimistically (half full)."
I'm trying to be optimistic. I know the Church has a divine head-Jesus Christ, the wisdom and power of God. I have total faith in the power of God and the Holy Spirit. But human beings who have positions of authority in the Church need to do something substantial because something is out of whack, when so many articles about Cahtolic world news deal with disturbing revelations and reports which harm the Church and disappoint the faithful.

Veni Sanctus Spiritus