Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A European Mess-Financial and Spiritual

Spain is in a recession with 25% unemployment. From the "Economic Times," these sobering words, "Crisis is the watchword in Madrid. Take your pick-liquidity crisis, debt crisis, banking crisis, economic crisis, confidence crisis, jobless crisis. Spain, the ailing euro zones latest problem child has them all..."
I'm not a financial expert (though I follow business news), but it sounds pretty serious to me. And the worry is that all this European debt and uncertainty will drag down the United States economy too. I hope things improve for every ones sake.
Sadly a 5.8 earthquake hit central-northern Italy this week. That is going to further hurt the economy in Italy. But that's not the worst of it. People lost their lives, others are homeless or afraid to return to their homes because of aftershocks. They need prayers.
And then there is the "man-made earthquake" in Vatican City. On Wednesday, Pope Benedict spoke for the first time about the crisis associated with leaked Vatican documents. His personal butler was arrested by Vatican police and is accused of stealing personal correspondence belonging to the Pope.
What a strange story. Talk about betrayal, a personal butler is suppose to be very loyal. And who in their right mind would steal from the Pope? The Pope expressed "sadness in my heart," over the embarrassing scandal and betrayal.
The story sounds like fiction, something Dan Brown could have written. But it's true. The Pope assured Catholics that the Church would survive and weather this latest "storm." The Church is a divine institution, I never doubted that for a minute.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Greek Crisis And A Loss of Religious Faith

A few years ago, I was speaking with a Greek-American business owner who had just returned from visiting his relatives in Greece. He was telling me about his trip and he also mentioned how sad he was to find such a loss of faith and religious practice in Greece. It had been many years since he had visited and he noticed a big change. He observed young people (for the most part) not practicing their religion or taking it seriously as the older generations did. He observed a decline in faith and near-empty churches, in some parts of the country. Of course there are many devout Greek Orthodox people, who remain faithful, but he saw a loss. He said to me, " Young people think they can live without God, religious observances, prayer and devotions." He was lamenting all of it. It shook him up.
I listened. It's a well known fact that it's a problem throughout Western Europe and in Southern Europe as well. People think they can go it alone, they don't need prayer, God's wisdom or guidance. Some people don't even believe that God exists. It's all foolishness in my opinion. People are "playing with fire."
From what I've read and heard the current Greek economic crisis is very serious. Greece might exit from the euro which will have terrible effects in many countries. Greece has massive deficits and there has been a "run on the banks." People are fearful and they are withdrawing money out of banks in record numbers. Banks could fail. It's all scary stuff. The rest of Europe is having financial troubles as well. It's all uncharted territory and no one knows what will happen next. Let's pray it has a good ending...........
I wonder if "empty" churches, a loss of ancient devotions, and a decline in faith (or no faith at all) has anything to do with it. Has individualism, consumerism and secularism contributed to this mess in Europe? Perhaps. People can try to live without God and God's wisdom and guidance but eventually it will "blow up" and we are seeing that in Europe.
I think Europeans need God and prayer and the wisdom the Bible holds. But that's my opinion and many would disagree. There are many faith-filled people in Europe, and they try to keep the faith alive, but there has been a drastic increase in secularism and it's not a good thing.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Economic Uncertainty-Something's Out of Whack!

In business news you read such headlines as, "The trading losses suffered by JP Morgan have surged in recent days past the bank's initial $ 2 billion estimate by at least $ 1 billion...."
Billions lost, just like that. Heads roll, some people will be fired, others already have and the average person can't even get their head around how much a billion dollars is. A bad trade and a company loses billions and only a few people even understand what happened and those are the experts.
Then there's the Facebook billions. I'm not on Facebook and probably never will be. This blog is plenty of exposure for me. But in the latest news, the networking giant has an IPO value of $104.2 billion and make the offering worth $16.08 billion. Whatever that means.
Today I visited Kykuit, the magnificent hilltop estate, overlooking the Hudson River which was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family, beginning with John D. Rockefeller, the philanthropist and the richest man of his day. According to the tour guide, he was America's first billionaire. The Rockefellers are great philanthropists, billions made, billions given away. Kykuit is now an historic site. Very commendable. I look up to philanthropists, generosity is a blessed attribute.
And so I was thinking about all this, having been to Kykuit today. Billions of dollars buys lots of luxurious things such as expensive art, beautiful gardens and estates and that's fine. Capitalism is a great economic system, it helped my family climb the ladder of economic success in this country.
But there is too much income disparity in our country and it's growing wider everyday. Income inequality and joblessness causes hopelessness, anger and an increase in crime and domestic violence. That's the cold reality. You can't hide from hopelessness or from disenchanted and frustrated people. All people deserve to live with dignity and hope.
Three billion dollars in losses, (at least) that amount of money could have helped a lot of poor people and yet it's lost, lost in "financial outer space".........and no one really understands what happened, oh well a few people do.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Devilish Vandals Desecrate Historic Church

How sad that vandals (filled with destructive hate) have desecrated and vandalized the historic Holy Cross Church and property in Santa Cruz, California. Police reported widespread damage as windows were broken with rocks, paint was poured and sprayed on doors, walls, religious statues and a fountain area. The main Church, the museum and a nearby home serving pregnant women all suffered damage. Anti-church slogans and symbols were also spray painted and the vandals went so far as to climb on the roof to damage the Church's bell tower with paint. Paint was also poured on statues of Junipero Serra and the Blessed Mother. Many historic, cultural artifacts were also damaged. Mission Santa Cruz was one of the 21 Franciscan missions founded by Blessed Junipero Serra and his friars. A baptismal font brought to Mission Santa Cruz by Junipero Serra in the 1700's was also damaged.
Enough is enough. This destructive, desecration at Churches has happened too many times and must stop. Churches (and other houses of worship) need to be alarmed (this one was but the outside vandalism did not set off the alarm), as well as protected with high definition surveillance cameras and motion detectors.
Whatever the motives of these hateful criminals, these actions are evil and they must be stopped. The technology exists to make sure these incidents don't happen in the future. Let's hope all houses of worship make it a priority to protect the sacredness and sanctity of religious property. Whatever the cost, it is well worth it.

O Lord, Our God, you are worthy to receive glory and honor and power......
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and
strength, honor and glory and praise. (Rev. 4:11, 5:12)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Fr. Claudio-Healing Masses, Prayer and Good Medicine

My cousin is undergoing cancer treatment, chemotherapy at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan. One of the good things (and there are many) about living in or near New York City, is the expert medical care that's available. My family has rallied around my cousin. We go with her for treatment, we sit with her while intravenous medicines are blasted into her body to kill off the cancer cells and stop their spreading. We are also praying for her daily. I've accompanied her, along with other family members, to a few of Fr. Claudio Antecini's healing Masses which have taken place in parishes in the Diocese of Brooklyn, where he resides. So almost four months into this combination of intense and persistent prayer, healing masses and expert care from cancer specialists in a world renown facility and my cousin received encouraging news. Things look good, the experimental drugs which they have had good results with (with other patients as well) are working. Thank God!
When good science, advances in medicine and the power of prayer are combined, miracles can and do happen. And that is the perfect combination.
And so, there is a long way to go, but we will continue to believe in the power of prayer, the healing power of being prayed over and the mercy of God. The modern advances that are being made each day to combat this devastating disease are the result of hours and hours of research and dedicated doctors and researchers. And they are making progress. I will continue to pray for my cousin, each day and also to pray that a cure for this disease will be found soon.