Monday, December 26, 2011

Peter Kreeft's Talk at the Seminary

On December 11th I attended a lecture by Peter Kreeft, the prolific author and professor from Boston College at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, Long Island. The auditorium at the Seminary was packed with laypeople, seminarians, priests, the rector- Msgr. Peter Vaccari and Bishop Murphy was there as well. There were also some young college students from Hofstra University and I wondered how they heard about it. It was good to have them there. As you can imagine, the talk was very interesting. The topic was moral relativism, the belief that moral standards can change with the times and there are no "moral absolutes." Pete Sheehan, a columnist for the Long Island Catholic attended and he noted in an article he wrote on the talk, that Mr. Kreeft made this intriguing comment, "no society in all of human history has ever survived while clinging to moral relativism." Mr. Kreeft also said that at no time in history have so many teachers been moral relativists. He said, "It has become dominant in academic and media circles during the 20th and 21st centuries.
The quote that really stood out in my mind which frightened me a bit (I later asked a question relating to it) was a quote by C.S. Lewis, "Moral relativism will damn our souls and destroy us." At the end of the talk, during the question and answer period, I repeated the quote and asked the following question of Mr. Kreeft, "What do you think the future of humankind is?" He asked me if I wanted his "prophecy." "Yes," I replied. I did want his prophecy. I respected his intelligence and knowledge and I also regard C.S. Lewis as a genius so is there hope for humankind, I wondered.
Sometimes I ask questions that I know the answer to. Deep down inside I knew what the answer would be but it was good to hear it to reinforce my own belief. His answer was brilliant. I can't remember it word for word but it went something like this. There is hope for humankind because of Jesus, because we've been saved by the blood of Christ. The Lamb of God shed his blood for us. He quoted from the Book of Revelation and how the little, meek Lamb did battle with the "evil one" (in the form of a powerful dragon) and was victorious. Christ is victorious across time and space, then and now.
So there is no need to worry. There are problems because of moral relativism and it will create and is already creating problems for humankind and we would be damned and lose our souls if it were not for the Savior of the world. Jesus-"God saves" and that's what Jesus does for humankind. God's mercy and love, needed now more than ever and given as a gift.

A Blessed and Happy New Year! May the light of Christ shine in your life each day!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Blessed Christmas

As I begin the preparation for Christmas Eve and all that goes into making that a special evening for my family, I want to take this opportunity to wish you a very Blessed Christmas. So blessed are we for believing in the Savior, for giving thanks through our Christian faith for the greatest gift humankind has ever been given-Jesus. Jesus is always calling us forth, into the future, to a future filled with hope. Jesus proclaimed, "Behold, I make all things new.......I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end....." (Revelation 21). To be a Christian is to live in hope and to wait for Christ to bring all things to fulfillment in God, according to God's plan of salvation, in God's time. Faith, hope, love, trust and a willingness to be receptive and open to God's will are crucial on the spiritual journey. Like Mary, we wait with trust, with hope and with sincerity of heart.
As a lay Carmelite, I would like to share some poems from Jessica Powers (1905-1988), a Discalced Carmelite nun who was a member of the Carmel of the Mother of God in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. The following poems are from the book, The Selected Poetry of Jessica Powers (ICS Publications), edited by R. Siegfried and R. Morneau. These poems are very appropriate to dwell on, during the final days of Advent, as we approach the sacred feast of Christmas.
Merry Christmas!!

I live my Advent in the womb of Mary. And on one night when a great star swings free from its high mooring and walks down the sky to be the dot above the Christus i, I shall be born of her by blessed grace.
I wait in Mary-darkness, faith's walled place, with hope's expectance of nativity.

I knew for long she carried me and fed me, guarded and loved me, though I could not see. But only now, with inward jubilee, I come upon earth's most amazing knowledge: someone is hidden in this dark with me. (1948)

In A Cloud Of Angels
I walk in a cloud of angels, God has a throne in the secret of my soul.
I move, encircled by light, blinded by the glowing faces, lost and bewildered in the motion of wings, stricken by music too sublime to bear.
Splendor is everywhere. God is always enthroned on the cherubim, circled by seraphim. Holy, Holy, Holy, wave upon wave of endless adoration.
I walk in a cloud of angels that worship Him.

What a great thing to strive for....that one day we too will walk in a cloud of angels that worship Him..........

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Here We Go Again-More Doomsday Prophecies- 2012

Since May 21st, 2011 passed without the end of the world occurring or any unusual catastrophes (Thank God!) the doomsday believers are gearing up for 2012. This will be bigger and more hyped than Harold Campings failed end of the world predictions.
Why? Well, it has to do with the Mayans. Their calendar suggests that some monumental event will take place in December 2012. At first I read that their calendar ended in December 2012, which led to a lot of speculation and doomsday scenarios. But that's not the case. Apparently their calendar predicts some kind of "symbolic turning point." Now I know this is a Catholic blog and this all sounds very "new age" but, a lot of people will be talking about this, writing articles and blogs about it and the cable networks have already shown TV shows about this.
Anyhow, the latest article I read from titled "Mayans Never Predicted December 2012 Apocalypse, Researchers Say," is more encouraging, "One of history's most famous and foreboding doomsday predictions might never have been made, according to a German researcher. His new interpretation of a 1,300 year old tablet affirms that the ancient Maya regarded December 12, 2012 as a moment of great importance but not as some believe, because they foresaw an apocalypse on that date."
Some believe the ancient writings predict the beginning of a new era or a significant change for humankind but according to the researchers, those who believe in the end of the world prediction have misunderstood the "poorly preserved hieroglyphs."
Since a lot of people are making a lot of money from these predictions, get ready for a year of hype.
John Kehne, a web developer who runs the says that the site receives 5 million page views a month from the curious and concerned, from around the world.
I'm wondering if Advent 2012 will be a time of great spiritual awakening.........Maybe humankind will turn to God fully and trust in God deeply and purely and turn away from sin and war. Maybe the whole world will repent during Advent 2012. That would be monumental!
Perhaps Jesus will come in glory. I'd like to witness that.
Or maybe nothing unusual will happen in December 2012, which is the most likely scenario.
I trust all will be well and all "manner of thing will be well." I'm not worried, I trust in God.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Keeping Fixed On Jesus

This is the holy season of Advent and there is so much activity, background noise and distractions that's it's easy to get caught up in it and lose focus. The focus should always be on Jesus, the Savior and Redeemer and his teachings. Recently, I wrote a blog entry about how saddened I was by the latest atheist billboard campaign which I felt disrespected Jesus by placing his image alongside the Roman god Neptune, Satan and Santa Claus but I didn't like the entry, after reflecting about it and so I removed it. That's the good thing about being the writer, editor and creator of a blog, you can basically be in control, which is what I like. Of course that comes with responsibility.
The latest atheist campaign titled, "37 Million Americans Know A Myth When They See One- What Do You See?" is meant to upset. And it did upset me. I often think of how I pray, asking Jesus to be my Rock, my protector and my shield against evil. But Jesus in my opinion is not being shielded from radical non-believers who are seeking to denigrate and dishonor him. Jesus the second person of the Blessed Trinity is Incarnate God for two billion Christians in the world. I don't think it's right that atheists are placing his sacred image on a billboard with images of the Roman God Neptune, Satan and Santa Claus. Jesus is a historical figure, revered by billions, believed to be fully human and fully divine by Christians throughout the world. The course of human history was changed with the birth of Jesus. The billboard campaign is a "low blow." It's not just, fair or respectful.
But I've decided instead of getting upset, I'm going to pray that the hearts and minds of atheists are touched by God and they realize their point can be made in a less controversial way.
They ask, "What do I see?" I see people who have no respect for the beliefs of others, who lack good taste, who are spending a lot of money to cause discord and controversy, during a holy time for billions. Couldn't the money be better spent on the poor? Why don't atheists use their beliefs for doing good in the world instead of causing more discord and problems?
Once again I think of the Scripture verse, "Don't worry about anything but pray about everything." So I'm going to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, and try not to be disturb by those causing confusion and discord. I will imagine in my prayer that I am "shielding" Jesus from those who wish to dishonor and disrespect Him and I will give him the honor, love and reverence He so deserves, through my prayer and works. "Be joyful and sing unto the Lord." Joy is the true mark of a Christian as we live in hope and so I've got to get back to being hopeful and joyful, as I wait to celebrate the great feast of Christmas. What a blessing to be able to celebrate such a magnificent feast and holiday!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Exam Cheating Scandal on the Gold Coast of Long Island

An article I read this morning in the New York Times, titled, "Exam Cheating On Long Island Hardly A Secret," by Anderson & Applebome, is one of many articles I've read about the problem of cheating that was exposed at Great Neck North High School in Great Neck. The town of Great Neck was made famous by F. Scott Fitzgerald and his famous novel, "The Great Gatsby." The novel was set in the 1920's on the wealthy North Shore of Long Island. Today Great Neck and neighboring North Shore towns, (often referred to as the Gold Coast), are still very affluent.
Apparently some young, misguided young people thought that money can buy just about everything, even high test grades. Young men from influential and prominent Great Neck families have been accused of cheating by taking tests for others, using fake ID and charging large amounts of money to do so.
Students who were obsessed with getting high scores on SAT and ACT tests were willing to pay thousands of dollars to very intelligent test takers who could guarantee a high score, making access to a good college possible. Competition to get into a prestigious school is fierce and getting worse every year. (It puts incredible stress on students as well as their parents.)
In the end it comes back to greed. The deadly sin, that seems to take root in every age and culture. The desire for prestige and future wealth clouds common sense, decency and good ethics.
According to the article, "In Great Neck, a place where the high-achieving schools are the center of public life and where high-priced tutors and admission consultants are routine advantages for the wealthy, educators and parents are mortified that the community's reputation could be muddled by the SAT scandal. "
Only a small percentage of students cheated, but it apparently was well known in the community that it was taking place.
Kathleen Rice, the Nassau County district attorney said that, "We have to put accountability into the system and there is none right now....If we can't teach 16-,17- and 18 year-olds that cheating is wrong, shame on us."
So true. Young people have to be taught that money cannot buy everything, some things come with hard work and study. And sometimes we can't have it all or be the best or get into the most elite college. Simple truths that eluded some bright students, who had much.