Monday, September 26, 2011

New York-A Walkable City-Filled with Art

Walking is good for the mind, body and soul. Many great writers were avid walkers, including spiritual writers. Walking clears the mind and inspires too. It's a great form of exercise and a good way to relax and reduce stress. It has many benefits which is why I was happy to read that New York City was listed as number one in a list of most walkable cities for 2011. According to an online article from titled, "Ten Most Walkable Cities for 2011," by Jason Notte, "Manhattan's 16 miles long and two miles wide and has been walkable since the days when the only other transportation option involved an animal. Densely packed areas such as Brooklyn's Fort Green, Park Slope and Carroll Gardens and Bay Ridge, Queens' Sunnyside and Astoria/Long Island City and the South Bronx, University Heights and Fordham neighborhoods in the Bronx are giving Manhattan a run for the money thanks to tightly packed areas that are only increasing in density..."
I recently took a walking tour of Central Park which was incredibly interesting. The tour group coincidentally walked "right into" the Parks Commissioner of NY, who was on his way to his office in Central Park. The tour guide knew him personally and waved hello and he was very pleasant and welcomed us to Central Park. A true New York experience....
Yesterday I walked around the magnificent Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth Ave. Walking outdoors or indoors in NYC can be an amazing cultural experience. The MET has so many masterpieces that it is overwhelming to view them one after another. It's hard to take it all in and though I've been there many times, I'm always inspired by the creativity and beauty of the art exhibited there.
Pope Benedict has spoken many times about his wish to "renew the Church's friendship with the world of art." He has said, "Beauty....can become a path toward the transcendent, toward ultimate Mystery, toward God." This past summer at Castel Gandolfo he told pilgrims, "Dear friends, I invite you to be open to beauty and to allow it to move you to prayer and praise of the Lord." He explained how the "path of beauty can be an open door on the infinite and is something experienced by all people, not merely those who regard themselves as cultured."
The beauty of art and the beauty of nature has always moved me toward the transcendent.

The world is a mirror of infinite beauty...It is a temple of majesty..It is a region of light and peace. It is the place of angels and the gate of heaven. Thomas Traherne

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bishop Libasci Will Be A Blessing!

As reported in the Catholic press, Rockville Centre diocesan auxiliary bishop, Bishop Peter Libasci has been appointed by Pope Benedict to lead the Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire. He will be the bishop of the entire state of New Hampshire. That New England state is lucky to have Bishop Libasci. Long Island is losing a very good and kind auxiliary bishop. Bishop Murphy, the bishop of Rockville Centre was quoted as saying, "While I will greatly miss his wise counsel and tireless apostolic spirit, I rejoice that the Holy Father has chosen one of the priests of this diocese to lead the Diocese of Manchester."
I've met Bishop Libasci a few times and each time, I was very impressed with him. The first time I met Bishop Libasci, I was looking for something in the library at the Immaculate Conception Center in Douglaston, Queens. I didn't recognize the bishop though I had probably seen his photograph in the Long Island Catholic. But anyway, I remember it was late in the afternoon of Ash Wednesday because I had a large ash cross on my forehead, it was a rather dramatic cross as it covered my entire forehead. Before I was introduced to him by the librarian, he gave me a warm and kind smile. That tells me a lot about a person. After being introduced, he asked me what parish I belonged to and we then discussed my pastor who wasn't feeling well at the time. He knew that already and said he was glad I reminded him as he was going to call him. He just has a nice way about him.
About a year later, I would have the opportunity to attend a Communion Breakfast at the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, Long Island and Bishop Libasci was the speaker for that event and he celebrated Mass as well. I was struck by him during the entrance procession at Mass. I could tell he was praying as he entered the chapel. That was evident to me. He's a holy priest and bishop and that's obvious. (Praise God! That's what the Church needs more than anything.) Later on in his talk on the Eucharist, which was excellent he spoke about how he was praying as he entered the chapel (I knew it!) and how humbled he was to be a bishop. He also mentioned how seriously he took that responsibility and how important it was to him to live up to the expectations of the people who counted on him and how he prayed to be a blessing to others and to the Church.
I know Bishop Libasci will be a blessing to the state of New Hampshire and the Diocese of Manchester. I know he will provide the healing and graces that are needed there, at this time in history. Many blessings Bishop, go with Christ!

I desire so much to meet all of you and to see Christ so alive and so present in you. I desire to share in this work that is ours: to be true to and thus carry on the mission of Our Lord Jesus Christ. (Bishop Libasci to the people of his new Diocese)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Crumbling American Dream?

When my grandparents came to America in the 1920's from Italy, they came with hope, to the land of good fortune, where dreams came true. America was a storied land of freedom and opportunity. At the Ellis Island website I was able to see how much money my grandparents came to America with. It was humbling to see. Like other immigrants they came to America with hope, faith in God and a belief in a better life ahead, with a little bit of money in their pockets-$10.00 to be exact. (They also had to have a sponsor in America.) When I thought about my grandparents traveling such a long distance, across an ocean, in difficult circumstances, with so little money (naturally $10.00 was worth much more at that time), I can't even imagine the sacrifices they made in leaving their country and loved ones. Through hard work, faith in God, prayer, family ties and sacrifice they were able to lift themselves up, over time, into the middle class in America, as other immigrants have done as well.
But now many families in America are facing hard times. Many are slipping out of the middle class. Without good paying jobs and real opportunity, the American dream is starting to fade and vanish for too many. A new study by the Census Bureau stated that, "Nearly one in six Americans was living in poverty last year, a development that is ensnaring growing numbers of children in poverty and offering vivid proof of the devastating impacts of the recession.....The Report portrays a nation where many people are slipping backward in the wake of a downturn that left 14 million people out of work and pushed unemployment to levels not seen in decades."
So sadly this is where our country is in 2011. More and more children are slipping into poverty, some go hungry and others experience anxiety from losing their homes and seeing their parents under great stress.
The Church has always supported workers and a just wage. Our country must put people back to work, to give them back their dignity and their opportunity for a better life. Not just for themselves but for the children in America, who deserve better.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

September 8th-A Carmelite Would Know......

I think a Carmelite would know that if I wrote I was born on Mary's nativity, that even though that is a great grace, that gift or grace would come with "strings attached." Oh yes, a great gift comes with strings and sometimes those "strings" are trials. Carmelites would know that from their studies, others might know that from experience. I found that out long before I became a Lay Carmelite.
I'm pleased to be born on a feast day of Mary-September 8th. It would be many years after I was born, when I would realize the significance of the day of my birth. I probably heard it or read about it in catechism class. My parents were very good Christians (and parents), kind and generous people, but not the type to know the date of Mary's nativity or the feast day it was celebrated on. So I would stumble upon that fact on my own, and I thought it was interesting, but little did I know as a child, that a gift is more than it seems ( more complicated), in the spiritual realm and in spiritual terms.
I have a great devotion to Mary. I should hope so. I recently gave a talk about her, and said, "We're really like Mary in many ways. Catholics tend to exalt Mary and that's natural and fitting, as she is the Mother of God, but you too have answered God's call and said "yes" to God's invitation. You have responded to God and so you are more like Mary than you think or imagine. (Basically that is what I said and you can understand the point I was trying to make.)

On another note, my heart and prayers go out to all those who lost loved ones on September 11th, 2001. What a sad anniversary we mark this Sunday. I think especially of the 3,051 children who lost a parent on that day. I watched a TV special on those children last evening and it made me realize just what those children have gone through these past 10 years. May God be with them. For all the heroes and the good, hard working people who lost their lives that horrific day, there are no words, just hope in eternal life.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Surviving Hurricane Irene

Four days without electricity from Hurricane Irene. Our power just came on tonight. The other day we met workers in our neighborhood who came all the way from Michigan to try and help restore power. They couldn't make any promises. They told us they left home to help us in NY but with so many fallen trees and damaged power lines, it was going to take time. And it did. Many people in the Northeast are still without power, I hope they soon feel the excitement of having the power switch on.
I know people deal with much greater problems and I tried to keep it in perspective. I'm accustomed to having electricity and the comforts it provides. (I know I'm spoiled, as many of us are.) I tried to tell myself it was like home. I have fond memories of going camping. I liked going camping, when I was younger, much younger.......Electricity is a wondrous invention and so quiet and efficient. It's an amazing convenience when you think about it.
Trees fell all over my neighborhood, on houses, cars, roads and lawns. But thank God the huge tree in front of my house stayed put. Naturally, before the storm hit I walked around my house praying for protection and a "God-shield", that was a given.
My sons called the morning after the storm from Manhattan to check in and tell me they were fine. Thank God! My son said he didn't know what to expect, because of all the warnings (even from the President), the evacuations of Battery Park City and other NY neighborhoods and then there were all my updates and concerns for their safety. (I'm a typical Italian mother.) But he said they slept through the storm. When one of my sons woke up, the morning after the storm, he didn't know what to expect, but when he looked out the window, he saw a young man walk by in a t-shirt and flip flops. He knew it wasn't too bad in Manhattan.
And so having to throw out food is not the worst of it. At least my basement didn't flood, where all my beloved religion books and newspapers are. So I have a lot to be grateful for.
I'm sorry for the farmers in Upstate NY and all the other people in Vermont, New Jersey and New York who have lost so much. It's a difficult time for many, especially those who've lost loved ones, from this natural disaster. That is the saddest part of this story and the most tragic. I'm so sorry for their loss.
It's been said over and over again but it's true. When faced with loss of any kind, prayer, meditation, and Bible reading are comforting and really help. My copy of Magnificat was so helpful to me during the days without electricity. Walking and praying and exercising kept me focused and calm. Prayer heals, there is no question about that.