Monday, October 22, 2012

"Lily of the Mohawks" A Saint

I was very happy to hear that Kateri Tekakwitha was canonized a saint by Pope Benedict on Sunday at the Vatican. He officially elevated Kateri to sainthood along with seven other extraordinary human beings. Saints are the super heroes of our faith and they have greatly inspired me on my spiritual journey. Pope Benedict spoke in both English and French, "May her example help us to live where we are, loving Jesus without denying who we are......St. Kateri, protectress of Canada and the first native American saint, we entrust you to the renewal of the faith in the first nations and in all of North America!"
I have a beautiful collector plate hanging in my living room of Kateri. It shows an attractive Indian woman holding a lamb, I assume a symbol of her love for Jesus, the Lamb of God. The image comes from the original oil painting by Gregory Perillo. I have many images of American Indians in my living room, since I've always had an affinity for Indians, though I'm not sure why. I think it has to do with their love and respect for nature. I love the beauty of nature and find peace being in the country or at the shore. Also, I am a longtime supporter of St. Joseph's Indian School which supports Lakota Sioux children in Chamberlain, South Dakota. I'm well aware of the challenges that Indian children face.
I hope Kateri will pray for them from her exalted place in Heaven.
Kateri suffered much in her life. She survived smallpox and was orphaned as a child. She was drawn to Catholicism and to Jesus. She found comfort in her faith and love of God. There were supernatural appearances of Kateri after her death. The supernatural in one form of another, is usually woven into the lives of saints as they are close friends of God. Apparently, according to eyewitness reports, immediately upon her death, her face changed and became more beautiful. A priest named Cholenec wrote, "This face, so marked and swarthy, suddenly changed about a quarter of an hour after her death, and became in a moment so beautiful and so white that I observed it immediately." Kateri is said to have "appeared before three individuals in the weeks after her death."
Father Chauchetiere "reported seeing Kateri at her grave; he said she appeared in 'baroque splendor' for two hours he gazed upon her......her face lifted toward heaven as if in ecstasy."

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"Binders Full of Women"-Second Debate

I watched the presidential debate last night, as did about 56 million people.  I figured that President Obama would be on "his game," because I imagined he would better prepare for this debate, after his "too nice," professorial performance in the last debate.   I thought both President Obama and Mitt Romney did well. And I was pleased to see Candy Crowley from CNN, moderate the debate. She was the first woman in 20 years to do so.
Thanks to all the women who fought for women's rights and issues, before my time, I grew up in America, (in Brooklyn), believing that a woman could do just about anything. I've held leadership positions in the Church and spent many years as a teacher and a religious educator and never felt discriminated against  because of my gender. I was also raised in a household with strong Italian women, my aunt who lived upstairs from us, was a true matriarch and so that influenced me as well.
I'm well aware that I'm fortunate and that many women in the world do not share the freedoms, rights and opportunities that I've been blessed to have and I hope and pray someday there will be gender equality throughout the world. I think that if women in the world held more leadership positions in government and in the private sector, the world would be a better place.
I have to admit, like millions of others, I found Mitt Romney's phrase, "whole binders of women," which he used in the debate last night amusing. Mitt Romney used the phrase (which has gone viral) when describing his efforts as governor of Massachusetts to find the names of women who could possibly serve in his cabinet. He was answering a question about equality for women and fair pay in the  workplace.
He said, "And so we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women's groups and said, 'Can you help us find folks,' and they brought us 'whole binders full of women.'" Of course he meant binders filled with the names of capable women who he could appoint to his cabinet, but under the stress of the evening he simply said, "whole binders full of women." Well, social media exploded with the phrase and women all over the country were immediately trying to figure out how to make a Halloween costume to look like they were coming out of a giant binder. Twitter users caught on quickly too and "binders full of women," appeared at one point, in the evening, at 40,000 times in one minute.
Is this a crazy world we live in or what? That's why I stay grounded with prayer, otherwise it's so easy to get caught up in the craziness of the world, the internet and social media.  I'm very grateful to God, for my deep faith, my belief and prayer life. Though I find this world, at times sad, and at other times, amusing, I am in the world but not of the world and I can thank God for that.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Synod Challenge-Secularization, Turning from God

Pride is a deadly sin. Many people living in the modern world think they don't need God, they can get along without God, prayer or formal worship. Some believe in God but don't feel the need to express it outwardly or communally.  They're doing just fine with their iPhones, iPads, laptops, lattes, kindles and internet shopping. There are a lot of interesting, functional gadgets to keep people occupied and engaged.  No time for God or worship. I live close to an Apple Store. The day the iPhone 5 went on sale there was a line around the corner of the store. This is a different world from the world I grew up in. Modern technology has changed the world forever. It will never be the same. The Church in the modern world will have to adjust accordingly. Our prayers, liturgies and beliefs are ancient and sacred but somehow they will have to have appeal in the modern world. I hope and pray people realize the importance of prayer, belief in God and worship and the benefits of it, but sometimes I worry that the world has spun out of control. There are consequences to pride, real consequences and they are not from the imagination.
I can't live without prayer or God but that's me. Faith in God has enriched my life as I've written many times. I could not have gone through the problems and losses I've encountered in my life without God and the support of a Catholic faith community.
During a recent major address given during the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization in Rome, Cardinal Wuerl spoke to 262 top Church leaders about the seriousness of the situation that confronts the Church.
"Poor catechesis and a 'tsunami of secular influence' have led to a situation in which the need for the new evangelization of once-Christian societies is urgent.........Secularization has fashioned two generations of Catholics who do not know the Church's foundational prayers. Many do not sense a value in Mass attendance, fail to receive the sacrament of Penance and have often lost a sense of mystery or the transcendent as having any real and verifiable meaning. All of the above resulted in a large segment of the faithful being ill-prepared to deal with a culture that, as our Holy Father has pointed out on his many visits around the world, is characterized by secularism, materialism and individualism." This is all true, of course, but what's scary to me is that many young adults, who are missing in great numbers in the pews, really don't care. What they care about are their iPhones, cell phones,  laptops,  iPads and their lattes. They know how to place an order in Starbucks, place a bid on ebay,  keep up with their Facebook page and text.
The problems are complex and multi-faceted but not too complex for the Holy Spirit.
Veni, Sanctus, Spiritus. Prayer, wisdom, innovation, authenticity, community, fellowship and social justice work can help the Church renew itself in the modern world.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Presidential Debate Debacle-2012

What happened President Obama?
At one point, during the first Presidential debate on Wednesday night I looked at my husband and said, "It looks like President Obama is sleeping." He replied, "No, he's not sleeping, he's writing something down." But the way he was looking down and the look on his face, made me think to myself that something was not right. I'm not joking or being sarcastic, I feel sorry for President Obama.
Something went wrong on Wednesday night and I'm not sure what it was.
Republican nominee Mitt Romney did look good and he looked presidential.  Everyone is saying that, so I'm not taking sides, because I'm not a political person. The debate will not change who I am voting for. Regardless, President Obama needs to do a better job of preparing for the next debate, obviously.
Also, all debaters, whoever they are, should be truthful and have the correct facts. Someone should check facts and hold debaters accountable. The American people deserve the truth, always the truth.
In the Bible it says, "The truth shall set you free." God is a God of truth and those in public office should always strive for the highest possible good and truth, at all times.
President Obama was trying too hard to be nice. I also thought that to myself on Wednesday night. He seems to have given Mitt Romney a gift, but it escapes me as to why he did so.
Al Gore made the controversial comment that perhaps President Obama was suffering from altitude sickness, since the debate took place at the University of Denver.  After all, Denver is called the "Mile High City," because it is 5,280 feet above sea level. Most people didn't take Al Gore seriously but you never know. I was on a bus yesterday, traveling to a museum in Manhattan and the stop and go traffic was affecting the person I was with and making them feel sick.  But anyhow, for whatever the reason, President Obama will have to do a better job next time without being angry or too aggressive.
Who would want to be President anyway? It's such a hard job. You could do everything right and then have one "off" night (granted it was a bad night to be "off") and everyone turns against you.
The comedians had a "field day." Jay Leno joked, "The consensus is that Mitt Romney won the presidential debate last night. The only people who thought Obama won were the replacement refs." Stephen Colbert tweeted, "I'm concerned that next debate, Obama will finally show up for the first debate." They should try to be president. It's not a laughing matter.