Thursday, November 29, 2012

Seminary of the Immaculate Conception-"Art on the Vine"

The Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, NY, is very much alive thanks to the good work of Msgr. Henning, the rector and the staff at the Seminary. Though the seminarians no longer study there (they are now studying at St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers), the Seminary is still doing great work holding special events, fundraisers, days of reflection, conferences and education programs. Also, the Sacred Heart Institute which is a "cooperative effort of the Archdiocese of New York and Dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Centre to facilitate the ongoing formation of priests and deacons and strengthen the bonds of priestly and diaconal fraternity..." operates out of the Seminary.
So as I wrote, the Seminary is very much alive with good things happening and yet there are still some Catholics on Long Island who think it closed when the seminarians moved to Yonkers.
All this brings me to "Art on the Vine," which is a fundraiser which will take place on Sunday, December 9th from 2:00-6:00 PM at the Seminary. I'm very excited about the day as I love art and art will be a big part of the day.
There will be an art exhibit and sale by professional artists, wine tasting by Pindar Vineyards from the North Fork and tours of the Seminary Art, Chapels, Library and the unique art in the boiler room (folk art).
The Brookyn Born Believer will be there that day, acting as a volunteer and it's going to be a great day in the ongoing transformation of the Seminary. It will be hosted by the "Friends of the Seminary," and I am a part of that group of men and women who volunteer in support of the education and formation of our seminarians.
Above are some pictures I took today. Some are of the amazing boiler room (which participants will be able to tour on Dec. 9th)) and the folk art down there that was created by custodian and longtime maintenance mechanic-Ed Perry. Perry worked and lived on the grounds of the Seminary for 25 years. He was born in Brooklyn, grew up on Long Island and had no formal art training. He described how he painted the floor at first and then never stopped. The pictures will speak for themselves.
Judy Healy in the photograph is a longtime supporter and "Friend of the Seminary."

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

A blessed Happy Thanksgiving to all! I'm grateful for many things, most especially for being born in this great country of America, founded on great principles and freedom. The opportunities my family had after arriving from Italy in the early 1900's could not have been possible anywhere else. Truly through the generations, my family has experienced living the American dream. It's no small blessing. I'm grateful for my Italian heritage which gives me a love of food, culture, family, traditions and most importantly my faith in God. Baptized as an infant into the Catholic faith, and with all the graces that gives, my life has been enriched by my faith and belief.  I'm grateful to God for being present to me in my life, in good times and bad, for helping me through the losses I've had to suffer. I'm grateful to the saints, who have inspired me on my faith journey.
I'm grateful to my family who will sit around the table today and give thanks to God, for bringing us safely through the storm and being a part of our lives.
And so now, it's time to fry the rice balls, put the turkey in the oven, make the stuffing and get things going. I'll pray morning prayer and practice Christian meditation as well, before the company arrives. There is a lot to fit in this morning, but prayer is always a constant in my life, because without it, I wouldn't have come this far.
God's blessings on your family and friends, whether you will celebrate Thanksgiving or not.
I am also grateful that the prayers were answered and a cease fire is under way between Israel and Hamas. Let's pray that a lasting peace in the Middle East is possible, let new ideas and commitments arise so that all children, throughout the world can grow up in peace.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Will There Ever Be Lasting Peace in the Middle East?

God wants peace in the Middle East. I'm going to be bold and say that I'm sure that is God's will. Doesn't the will of God, God's will for peaceful co-existence mean that all people, work towards peace and persevere until peace is a lasting reality.   If compromise is needed then that should happen because that is God's will. I'm not an expert but I am a believer and these are believers fighting other believers in the Middle East, in the present conflict between Israel and Hamas. It's a sad and unfortunate situation. It's a sacred part of the world, with sacred sites for believers and yet once again there is fighting, discord and the suffering and death of innocent children.
All believers are worshipping the same God though they call God by different names. They may use different rituals and forms of worship but all believers profess faith in a God/Creator/Supreme Being who is Good and Merciful and Just. God is a God of peace, love and mercy. And yet after thousands of years there is still fighting in this part of the world, when prayer, peace and compromise should be taking place.
Peace is what God wants for His people, for all people, peace is what is in the best interests of all, so why is peace so elusive?
In an article I recently cut out of the newspaper and  read, which I believe came from the Wall Street Journal titled, "Enlisting the Biblical Abraham as Peace Broker," by Jon Levenson, he wrote, "Confronted with seemingly endless discord in the Middle East-much of it said to be rooted in religious difference-scholars and laymen alike have been promoting the idea of 'Abrahamic religion.' This is the notion that Judaism, Christianity and Islam are equally indebted to the figure of Abraham, the patriarch prominent in the Scriptures of all three. Surely, the theory goes, the three communities can move toward much needed reconciliation by considering their shared origins."
I like that term, "shared origins." Yes, all the sides in the conflict are believers in God and worship God. They have a "shared origin." These are not atheists fighting believers.....Perhaps I'm too idealistic but why can't everyone settle their differences and live peacefully in the land. War is destructive and causes death and the loss of innocent lives. This is not the will of God. It can't be.
The will of God should matter. There is enough land in the Middle East for everyone to live there peacefully and with human dignity. All children deserve to grow up in peace. Jerusalem is a holy city to Christians, Jews and Muslims. Why is peace so elusive in a place where there is so much prayer? I will never understand this paradox.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Surviving Hurricane Sandy

Tonight we finally got power, which means electricity, heat, internet connection and all the rest. It was almost two weeks without it but I dared not complain. So many people lost their lives, their belongings, their homes. (A large pine tree fell on my house, causing some damage on the roof and in the attic. That was a fear of mine, it fell above where I was sitting, but still nothing compared to what others are going through.) So many are still suffering, so many people lost everything. It's unimaginable but we had been warned for many years that a catastrophic hurricane could hit the northeastern United States and it finally did. I've watched weather patterns for years and luckily many hurricanes veer out to sea but strangely this one headed straight for the east coast. Why I kept thinking, what changed? A recent Newsday article by Catherine Thomasson, the executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility offered this explanation. "Science tells us that the destructiveness of this storm was fueled by climate change-driving higher sea levels that pushed up storm surge and higher ocean temperatures that contributed to the monstrous size of the storm........Science has identified another powerful potential factor: The record-breaking melting of Arctic sea ice's impact on the jet stream may have created the block of high pressure above Greenland that drove Sandy west into the continental United States rather than allowing it to spin off east into the North Atlantic, as most late-season hurricanes do." Scientists will keep debating whether climate change is being caused by human activity but more and more scientists believe global warming is real and it's affecting our planet.
But in any event, building codes will have to change and the warnings that have been given by the American Society of Civil Engineers about storm surge on the coast will have to be taken more seriously and acted upon.
My heart goes out to the people of Breezy Point, Queens, Belle Harbor, the Rockaways,Gerritsen Beach, Staten Island, the Jersey shore and the parts of Long Island that suffered loss as well.
My cousin in Long Beach, Long Island has a generator and so I went to stay with her for a couple of days, to warm up and to play with my young cousins. Children always make me feel better, they're so resilient and full of hope and idealism. 
I saw the piles of garbage that littered the streets, in Long Beach, that were once valuable possessions.
In the end, nothing is more important than family, friends, love, relationships and a belief that tomorrow will be better.  That's one important thing that Christianity offers-hope. People will rebuild and hope will reign. "Hope is not an option for a Christian it is essential to our faith." I'm not sure who wrote that but it's very true.