Monday, December 30, 2013

Obamas Didn't Attend Church on Christmas-It Does Matter

There is some controversy over the fact that the Obama Family, vacationing in Hawaii during Christmas Time, didn't find the time or choose to attend Church Services on Christmas Day. There is a lot of commentary and opinion on whether this matters and whether other presidents in the past have attended Church services on Christmas. To me it matters. One thing I do as a religious educator is give talks to parents and children and I always make a point, during the talks to say how important religious rituals are to children and adults. Psychologists also say that rituals, even religious rituals are important for the security and well being of children and adults. There are numerous studies that suggest that attending worship services (of any one of the major world religions) is good for the body, mind and soul. Yes, prayer is good for you and so are religious services and Mass. Besides that, if you are going to be a believer, if you are going to believe and profess faith in Jesus Christ then on the second holiest feast day (at least in Catholicism, which is my tradition) shouldn't you spend time in adoration and prayer, with a faith community? I understand that some Protestant congregations do not have services on Christmas and I don't get that at all. Jewish people believe that adoration of God and praise of God is the highest form of prayer. Shouldn't Christmas be a time of prayer and reflection, in a communal setting for Christians. Why wouldn't a believer spend some time (one hour) in prayer and adoration on Christmas? It says in Scripture that Jesus said, "Where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them." Don't we want to spend quality time with Jesus on Christmas Day?" If not then, when?  I think it's important and more importantly, I think for the President of the United States, who states that his religion is important to him, to spend one hour on Christmas Day in prayer with his family sends a positive message to the country, to the journalists covering his stay in Hawaii, to his two daughters and to believers all over the world. That's just my opinion.
NJA

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year Too!

I pray you will have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! May all of God's blessings be upon you and your family.
I'm busy breading shrimp and making rice balls. Each member of my family does some of the cooking for Christmas Eve. And so I'm preparing my part of the meal. "Food is love" as a psychology professor once stated, but I learned that from growing up in an Italian American household in Brooklyn.  Good food, cooked with love is part of what is best about being Italian American.  Growing up we always had lots of family, friends and neighbors eating over, sharing meals, yes food is love. I learned that early on.
And so, this is Christmas, a beautiful time of the year, made ever so glorious by the knowledge of Christ and His gift to humankind and to me personally.  To know Christ, to love God that is the fullness of life and the hope of existence.
To know Christ, to be part of the great Christian tradition is a gift beyond measure, beyond words. I can't wait for Mass tomorrow, before the Christmas Eve meal, my family will attend a beautiful family Mass which will engage my senses and give me a feeling of awe and completeness.
To know Christ is to realize life without God is lacking depth, lacking real meaning, lacking the fullness of truth.
The older I get the more I can appreciate the Incarnation, the extraordinary gift of God that is and what it means for my life, as a human being.
Knowing Christ means appreciating the encounter, the communion that Christ offers and being aware of what that adds to life. Christmas brings hope, hope that "all will be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing will be well"  (Julian of Norwich).
God Bless You!
NJA


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Dustin Friedland-Laying Down His Life for The Woman He Loved

During the holidays it should be a time for joy, celebration and greater compassion but unfortunately it is also a time when violent crime increases. There is a horrific story in the news from New Jersey about a young man who was out shopping with his wife for Christmas presents when he was involved in an attempted carjacking. In trying to save his wife, who he had just placed in the car, he struggled with the evil attackers and was shot and killed. He was a good man, well liked, hard working, a loyal husband and instead of wrapping presents, he's dead. How can one fathom such evil and violence? What kind of depraved, heartless human beings kill a man during the Christmas season or during any season for that matter?
Jesus said, "there is no greater love than to lay down your life for a friend." Or for a loved one, for the woman you love.....Jesus knows what it is to give, not counting the cost, to give of oneself totally for love.  In this sad incident, an instant decision, made out of love, cost Dustin Friedland his life. He wanted to protect the woman he loved and he did that.  It's such a tragic, yet romantic story.
A few years ago I was out shopping late and I returned home with a lot of packages. I was followed without realizing it. A man started to walk up my driveway as I was taking the packages out of my car.  I ran into the house. Luckily I was alert because I later read that it was happening to others. People were followed and then robbed.  I don't shop anymore in the evening, when it's dark. I changed my shopping habits because of that incident.
Our country is a great country but we live in a society with great income inequality.  And that inequality keeps growing. Such a disparity in wealth causes problems in society. Problems that no one can escape from.
Dustin Friedland was the best of human beings and he was killed senselessly by the worst of human beings. He died a hero, protecting the woman he loved. How fortunate she was to be married to such a wonderful man who gave up his life trying to protect her from violence. May his soul be at peace.
NJA

They do not love, that do not show their love.  
(Shakespeare, "Two Gentlemen of Verona)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Time's Person of the Year-Pope Francis-Something To Rejoice Over!

Just what I needed some good Advent news to rejoice over. Pope Francis being named Person of the Year by Time Magazine just confirms what many Catholics already believe. Pope Francis is the right Pope for this time in history. The Cardinals who elected him, following the guidance of the Holy Spirit got it right and the Catholic Church is blessed by Pope Francis' wisdom, goodness, insight and willingness to be guided by the Spirit.  Times managing editor Nancy Gibbs explained their choice for 2013 to the media......
"In his nine months in office he has placed himself at the very center of the central conversations of our time, about wealth and poverty, fairness and justice, transparency, modernity, globalization, the role of women, the nature of marriage, the temptations of power.......When he kisses the face of a disfigured man, or washes the feet of a Muslim woman, the image resonates far beyond the boundaries of the Catholic Church."
What especially endeared him to the editors of Time and made him win out over the other choices was his humility and his dedication to fighting poverty. He consistently reminds and challenges Catholics and others that the "least of our brothers and sisters" deserve a chance to a good, decent and fulfilling life. They deserve to be fed, literally by having enough to eat and spiritually with food for their souls. "The poorest of the poor" as Mother Teresa called them deserve a chance to lift themselves out of a spiral of poverty and hopelessness.
He has followed the mandate of God, "Humble yourself and I will exalt you."
A reason to be joyful this Advent-the success of the pontificate of Pope Francis and the recognition that goodness and selflessness is rewarded in time, in God's time.
NJA

Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord and He will exalt you 

Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.
(James 4:9-11)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Times Square Digital Billboard Mocks Christ-Desecrates the Name of Christ

I went to the Frick Museum in Manhattan yesterday to see one of the most famous paintings in the world, " Girl With A Pearl Earring" by Vermeer. The new exhibit at the Frick of famous Dutch paintings is worth seeing but on the way back home, I passed Times Square. That's when I saw something which greatly disturbed me. Radical atheists who have no respect for the beliefs of others, most especially Christians, have put up a huge digital billboard, "Who Needs Christ During Christmas? Nobody," is what it says and the name Christ is crossed out. "The 40 by 40 foot sign shows a series of motion graphics which starts with the question, "Who Needs Christ During Christmas? Then a hand crosses out Christ and writes "Nobody." It's disgusting and it made me very upset.
I don't care how much money they were willing to spend on that outrageous digital billboard, they should not be able to do that. I understand freedom of speech but there are certain sacred beliefs that should not be treated disrespectfully. Christ's holy and sacred name is being crossed out during the holy season of Advent in a public area seen by hundreds of thousands of people.  It shouldn't be. It's not right.  The holy name of Jesus Christ should not be treated so disrespectfully and mocked.
NJA

http://www.opposingviews.com/i/religion/atheist-group-s-billboard-times-square-who-needs-christ-during-christmas-nobody-video#

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Demolition of St. Ignatius Retreat House-Could the Jesuits Have Done More to Save the Brady Mansion?

I toured, visited often and led a few discussion groups on Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.,  at St. Ignatius Retreat House on Long Island.  During the tour,  I learned a lot about the history of the magnificent gold coast mansion (that became St. Ignatius Retreat House) which was once owned by the generous Catholic philanthropists- Nicholas and Genevieve Brady.  They had no children.  Mr. Brady must have loved his wife very much because he had "Inisfada" (Gaelic for Long Island) built for his wife for their 10th wedding anniversary in 1920.  It was an architectural gem and an historic Long Island house -a 72,000 square foot Tudor Elizabethan mansion, with beautiful and peaceful grounds.  It had exquisite details, such as ornate wooden moldings, magnificent staircases, a stunning sunroom and two beautiful chapels. (One chapel, the St. Genevieve Chapel has been dismantled and brought to Fordham University in the Bronx to be reassembled.) Cardinals and a future Pope even stayed at the mansion (Pope Pius XII), as the Brady's often had visitors and dignitaries as guests.
After her husband died, Genevieve went to Rome to live and she donated the mansion and the property to the Jesuits to use as a Seminary. Unfortunately, she should have thought to place a clause in the donation contract insisting it never be demolished, but she probably never thought it would be.
But the demolition has begun, much to the dismay of preservationists and civic groups on the North Shore of Long Island, who tried in vain, to save it through court actions and appeals.
Politicians issued the final permit that was required so that the 93 year old mansion could be knocked down, so that luxury single family homes can be built on the 33 acre property.
Local civic groups, some like-minded politicians and preservationists have been fighting to keep the mansion intact. In a NY Newsday article which appeared today, a realtor was quoted as saying, "It is one of the grandest and most intact homes to come down in over 30 years on Long Island."
So the question arises, could the Jesuits have done more to save the mansion? Did they owe anything to the memory of Nicholas and Genevieve Brady? I think (and I'm not a lawyer) they could have sold the property with a stipulation saying that the mansion had to be kept intact and preserved.  The Jesuits received $36.5 million for the sale of the mansion.  Couldn't they have negotiated for the preservation of the mansion in the real estate deal? It certainly would have made many of the residents of the North Shore of Long Island happy. But instead they have angered many Catholic residents of the North Shore, who are dismayed by the destruction of this magnificent, historic house.
The Jesuits couldn't keep up the maintenance of the huge mansion and that is understandable, but with alittle effort on their part they could have fought for this historic mansion to be saved. What a pity, that they didn't try to do that, when they thought of selling the property.
NJA

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Black Friday Violence-Shopping on Thanksgiving

How sad that Thanksgiving Day as well as Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year, were marred by violent episodes, in many states in our country. What a disgrace! It's bad enough that some retailers are opening on the evening of Thanksgiving but now come reports that people are fighting in stores, pushing, shoving and acting irrationally not only over big ticket items such as TV's and computers but over towels. Fighting, pushing and cursing over towels on Thanksgiving??  Shouldn't people be at home spending quality time with family or friends, giving thanks for their blessings? But instead we hear reports, year after year of people acting wildly to get a bargain.  It's unimaginable that people are fighting over towels (or anything for that matter) on Thanksgiving evening. This is materialism and consumerism run amok. The Founding Fathers of our country must be "turning over in their graves".
In one article I read, "Starting as early as Thursday night, shootings and stabbings have been reported at retailers in several states." In New Jersey, it was reported that a man was arrested after getting into an argument with a Walmart manager. The police were called and he then attacked a police officer (this was over a TV). These stories are so absurd that they are hard to believe.
It's a sad commentary on modern culture and what is happening in our country.
Pope Francis in his first published major document, "The Joy of the Gospel," asks all Christians to bring about a "revolution of tenderness" by being receptive to God's love and forgiveness and sharing that with others. We would be wise to heed that advice.
NJA

"Come Lord Jesus"

Friday, November 22, 2013

Gratefulness, Happiness and Faith-Happy Thanksgiving!

Children and adults who practice gratefulness and express gratitude are happier. Such an easy way to be happier. According to many articles I've read, as well as the most recent one at HuffPost, "Practicing gratitude increases students' positive emotions and optimism, decreases their negative emotions..and makes them feel more connected and satisfied with school and with life in general." There are so many positive health benefits-both physical and psychological, that can be gained from practicing gratefulness. You can reflect,  name or write down what you are grateful for, a simple way to increase optimism and happiness. (Optimistic people live longer too.) Of course there are also many benefits to believing in God and having faith, which I've mentioned over and over again on this blog.
And so for what am I happy for this Thanksgiving:
*For my relationship with God, for "knowing God" and having faith and belief, which has enriched my life.
*For Jesus
*For all the blessings in my life-my family and friends
*For being born in the U.S.A and having the freedoms I enjoy and the opportunities that has given me
*For my deep faith
*For the gifts I received at my baptism and Confirmation
*For my love of knowledge especially religious knowledge
*For the path I've chosen as an adult to study my faith and continue to grow in it
*For my writing and ability to share that knowledge with others
*For being loved be God and for being a child of God
*For Eucharist and my faith community
*For the delicious food my family will share on Thanksgiving, for all who will be present at the table
*For New York City, its beautiful churches and cultural institutions and most especially the Metropolitan Museum of Art (which I love to visit).
*For prayer that sustains me
*For being a Third Order Carmelite and for the Carmelite family
*For Jesus, Mary and all the Saints

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, wherever you are!
Remember to be grateful!
NJA

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Medjugorje-What's Happening There?

I have always been perplexed by the apparitions and visionaries of Medjugorje. Though I have never been there, I know many very faithful Catholics who have gone on pilgrimages to Medjugorje. They come back praising the experience and express complete faith in the apparitions, visionaries, messages and supernatural occurrences they've experienced. Yet I remain unconvinced. Firstly, the apparitions are still being investigated and have not been found to be authentic by the Church. Secondly, I've studied mysticism, mystical experiences, visions and other supernatural phenomena, especially phenomena experienced by the saints, for many years. The most difficult thing for me to understand and accept is the duration and frequency of these apparitions and visions. Supposedly, the Blessed Mother has been appearing to the visionaries and giving messages for over 30 years. It's not impossible, of course, for this to be true or authentic, it's just unlikely that supernatural, mystical occurrences (of this kind) would be happening for so long. It doesn't fit what I've read or studied. Which doesn't mean it can't be true. It's just outside the realm of what usually occurs, according to my studies. Private revelations are difficult to discern which is why the Church is still investigating these apparitions. Yet, according to Bishop Ratko Peric, "The numerous absurd messages, insincerities, falsehoods and disobedience associated with the events and 'apparitions' of Medjugorje from the very outset all disprove any claims of authenticity."
God prefers hiddenness, it's God's preference. It seems to be Mary's preference as well. Though, Marian apparitions have happened throughout history and many have been approved by the Church, I share the same concerns about the apparitions as I'm sure those investigating have. It just doesn't make sense that Mary would be appearing each day or week for over 30 years with messages. But again, who am I to judge or to say this is not true? And if it's not true, how could this have gone on for so long, deceiving so many different types of people, some very holy and good people? I'll wait for the extensive investigation to be done by the Church, before I am totally convinced either way.
But a recent development may give us an idea of how the investigation is going. A recent letter sent to U. S. Bishops by the Papal nuncio states that "clerics and the faithful are not permitted to participate in meetings, conferences or public celebrations during which the credibility of the Medjugorje apparitions would be taken for granted. This letter from the Vatican cancelled the U. S. tour of a Medjugorje visionary (see article below at aleteia.org)
And so I am very curious as to what the final outcome will be and if and when the Church will either confirm or disprove the apparitions. It's a fascinating case.
NJA


http://www.aleteia.org/en/religion/article/vatican-to-us-faithful-stay-away-from-pro-medjugorje-events-12114001

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Pope Kisses Disfigured Man-Seeing Goodness In The World- Through the Pope

Pope Francis continues to do remarkable things, showing Christ's love and compassion. In the latest news worthy photograph he is shown kissing the head of a disfigured man. Such a saintly action. It is well documented in the lives of the saints that they often kissed and touched the most sickly, most disfigured people, without caring for their own welfare. (Think of St. Damien of Molakai as just one example.)  Can you imagine how life changing that kiss must of been for that poor disfigured man? I can't even imagine how it transformed his life and gave him hope.
Sometimes I complain about the presence of evil in the world, it certainly upsets me and confuses me why so many people do such evil and cruel acts. But here we have a Pope who is showing Christ-like actions everyday and it's so uplifting to see God's goodness being shown through the actions of Pope Francis.
In an article I recently came across by Fr. Robert Lauder that he wrote in The Tablet (Brooklyn's Diocesan newspaper), in writing about Hans Urs Von Balthasar, Fr. Lauder wrote, " On a retreat Balthasar experienced a spiritual conversion which had a profound impact on him and on his work. He came to believe that we should not approach God by looking at ourselves but rather by making space within our lives for the gift of God. Balthasar looks at faith as more God's doing than our doing." So true. And it seems Pope Francis has made a lot of space within his life for God and for the Holy Spirit to act though him. People are moved by his generosity of spirit, his goodness and willingness to reach out and touch the marginalized and sick.
It's all very touching and very, very good for modern day Catholicism. He is such a great evangelizer.
NJA

The Eucharist commits us to the poor. To receive in truth the body and blood of Christ.....we must recognize Christ in the poorest.......(CCC #1397)

Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness, kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile. 
(Blessed Mother Teresa)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Is Evil Winning?

Of course not. But sometimes when I listen to the news or read articles I become discouraged. Christians must be people of hope but sometimes I can't understand all the evil in the world. I know we live in a fallen world, but still when I hear of these things, it's so sad....
When children still die from hunger and curable diseases at this late time in human history, it seems evil is winning.
When bombs go off in foreign countries (and in the U.S. as happened in Boston) and kill innocent people, it seems evil is winning.
When there are so many refugees with no place to live or call home, it seems evil is winning.
When there is a lack of common decency, a lack of compassion and kindness, it seems evil is winning.
When people still live in terrible poverty, without basic necessities, it seems evil is winning.
When people pollute the earth and have no regard for the environment, God's magnificent creation or the impact on future generations, it seems evil is winning.
When people deny God, denigrate religious beliefs and distort the truth, it seems evil is winning.
When people ignore God's commandments and kill, steal and are obsessed with greed, it seems like evil is winning.
When animals are treated cruelly and killed illegally (as is happening in parts of the world), it disturbs me.

There is goodness in the world, I know that, but sometimes it seems like evil is winning. At some point, God is going to destroy evil. I wish it were sooner than later. While we wait, its hard to read or watch the news or "digest" the evil ways and actions of some people.
What is it that causes such evil? Is it the devil prying on weak, disturbed minds or are people desperate and resort to greed? Why do people cooperate with evil and choose evil over good?
I wish God would act and say enough is enough and strike down evil once and for all. Because if evil keeps gaining ground, that will be troublesome for the future of humankind.
NJA

May God, the source of our hope, fill your hearts with peace as you believe in God." 
(Romans 15:13)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pope Francis-Doing It His Way

I just read an interesting article from the Catholic News Service blog titled, "De-coding Francis: Vatican Media Adviser Offers '10 Things To Know.'" It was recommended by Peggy Clores who works in Adult Faith Formation at Our Lady of Mercy Parish on Long Island. Peggy has an extensive email blast list, which I'm on, and she is great at evangelizing and using technology to get the word out.
Anyhow, she just sent out a few recommended articles and the one I just mentioned was on it.
Pope Francis is a blessing to the Church, in my opinion, and it seems his election as Pope came at the right time in history. Some people might be confused by how he does things or what he says, but the bottom line is that he is showing authenticity, simplicity, God's unconditional love and the mercy of God which is what Christians need to show to each other.
In the article, Greg Burke, who attended Jesuit schools, and is the Senior communications adviser to the Vatican's Secretariat of State, was quoted as saying, "Pope Francis is not a politically-correct Pope rather he is a 'loyal son of the Church' who presents the hard truths with a heavy dose of mercy." Mercy, the entire New Testament is filled with acts of mercy. A heavy dose of mercy is what God is all about and so since Pope Francis is the human head of the Church on Earth he should imitate the Divine head of the Church, Jesus Christ. He's got it right. In life you can never please everyone.
As someone pointed out in the comments section of the article, Jesus was not politically correct. He socialized with the marginalized in society, reached out to the outcasts and broken and understood and forgave sinners. Pope Francis has his own style, he's comfortable in his own skin and he knows that the Church in the modern world has to become alive and relevant to the young.
He's doing a great job. His mark is everywhere in the Church. I was recently at a Church function and there was a long line to get lunch. Someone asked the priest-presenter if he would like to cut the line, instead of waiting on the long line. He said, "No, I'm learning from the Pope, I would never cut the line, I'll just wait my turn"......and he did. In big ways and in small ways this Pope is bringing about change, and bringing new energy and enthusiasm to the priesthood and the papacy.
Veni, Sanctus, Spiritus!
NJA

Monday, October 14, 2013

New Title For My Blog

I thought I should change the title of my blog..........I am a baptized Catholic and have been so since I was baptized as an infant in the Church of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in Brooklyn,  so I started to think that perhaps that should be reflected in the title of my blog. So that's it, I changed it.
The Church where I was baptized is now named Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary and St. Stephen's Church. It was the first Italian parish to be established in Brooklyn in 1882.  Since I am an Italian-American and my paternal grandparents came to this great country in 1925 from Italy, they settled on Clinton St. in what is now Carroll Gardens (it was then called Red Hook). Brooklyn churches have a rich and storied history.
When I went to the website of SHSS Church I realized I know the pastor Msgr. Guy Massie who is a great priest. He has done great work and continues to do so in promoting interfaith dialogue, understanding and tolerance. On their website I learned that he is giving an interfaith series with Rabbi Kline titled, "Jewish Spirituality for Christians." I wish I lived closer to the Church as  I would have loved to be a part of that learning experience.
I'm convinced for there to be a lasting peace and tolerance in this world, interfaith dialogue is one way to achieve that. It's crucial for the future of humanity.
NJA


Friday, October 4, 2013

Vatican Overhaul of the Roman Curia-Come Holy Spirit Come!

A Vatican spokesman said this week that the eight Cardinals appointed by Pope Francis to advise him on renewing the Roman Curia are laying out plans to bring about this needed change. The Pope and these Cardinals need our prayers and the guidance of the Holy Spirit as this is not an easy task. The newly appointed Secretary of State, Archbishop Pietro Parolin will begin his new role on Oct. 15th (the feast day of St. Teresa of Avila) and so he will also play an integral part in renewing the Curia.
According to Catholic News Service, "The eight Cardinals brought to the meeting with the Pope suggestions they received from Church leaders throughout the world. One of the topics mentioned most often Fr. Lombardi said was the concern for the role of the laity in the Church and the world. The Pope and his Cardinal advisers talked about 'how to ensure that this dimension of the Church's reality is more adequately and effectively recognized and followed in the governance of the Church.'"
The role of the laity is crucial to the success of the Church in the modern world. The majority of the Church's 1.2 billion members are laypeople. They have gifts, talents and abilities that the Church must better utilize for the success of evangelization.
The world has been forever changed by modern technology. It will never be the way it once was. The Church must be more relevant to the lives of people and the message of Christ which is life giving and enriching must be proclaimed with authenticity and enthusiasm. Besides deep prayer to know the will of God, more than anything, common sense is needed going forward and pragmatism. If something works and it is consistent with the gospel message and the truths of Christianity then it should be used. There's an "elephant in the room," I'm not going to name it, but the eight Cardinals, the new Secretary of State and the Pope knows what it is. That topic has to be addressed, in my humble opinion.
God give them the courage they need to move the Church forward during these difficult, secular times we are living through.
Come Holy Spirit Come. Veni Sanctus Spiritus!
May the Lord be near to the Cardinal advisers, to the Pope and to the new Secretary of State. May their decisions be in accordance with the will of God.
As St. Teresa of Avila said, "So many problems arise from thinking that Jesus is far away, when He is really very near to us."
NJA

Monday, September 23, 2013

Ten Commandments Monument Toppled in DC

In a sign of the times we live in, where irreverence can be the norm, a monument inscribed with the Ten Commandments was toppled in Washington, D.C. The Ten Commandments which are found in the Hebrew Scriptures, and revered by Jews and Christians as the Law and the Word of God were given to Moses on stone tablets on Mt. Sinai. The granite monument inscribed with these sacred laws were carved on a stone monument which weighs 850 pounds and is located in front of the headquarters of Faith and Action, a Christian outreach ministry. Because of its size and weight, it would not be easy to topple, but these disrespectful vandals were determined, it seems.
The monument was pushed down so that the words of the Ten Commandments are face down, (for the time being). Of course this will be rectified and security cameras will be installed so that vandals will not have their evil last word.
It's sad how such disrespect and anger for the words and laws that are held sacred by Jews and Christians can motivate illegal and unlawful behavior. I wonder who did it? I'd like to know their motivation. Why are they against laws divinely given that help keep order and civility in society. Such a pity that there is such disrespect for religious values and beliefs which have helped society and helped our country.
The Rev. Robert Schenck who heads the organization where the monument was vandalized said, "the vandals had helped the organization convey important messages: 'We all violate the Ten Commandments' and 'We all violate God's rules.'"
Whoever did this obviously has no fear of the Lord, but they should. Though God is very patient, such behavior will bring some trouble into the lives of those who did it. They'll get punished in one way or another. There will be justice, divine retribution, in one form or another.
NJA

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Aaron Alexis Mentally Disturbed, Influenced By Evil

Another national tragedy. More innocent lives ending in violence. More of the same. A weapon in the hand of someone who shouldn't have one. A psychotic person, driven to evil and violence, driven by evil voices reverberating in his head. Aaron Alexis,  the 34 year old former Navy reservist was obsessed with violent video games. This has happened before. Newtown mass murderer, 20 year old Adam Lanza was also obsessed with violent video games and guns. He killed 20 innocent children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It keeps happening, the same story in different places. People who shouldn't have guns, people who are psychotic and hear voices, demonic voices I'm sure, violent video games which desensitize the insane and make killing look glamorous and easy. When will the madness stop?
A mother cries. She lost her son, a happy man. "He didn't do anything wrong" is what she said on TV in her grief. It's unimaginable, that people go to work happy and never return home because crazy people slip through the cracks, crazy people with guns who shouldn't have guns in the first place.  When Aaron Alexis walked into a gun store in Virginia to purchase a weapon, his former arrests, the disciplinary actions against him in the Navy should have surfaced on a computer screen and made it impossible for him to buy that weapon. With modern technology, there's no excuse for someone like Aaron Alexis to be able to buy a gun and kill in cold blood, innocent, hard working people. It's a disgrace.
I'm sure the devil had a part to play in this tragedy. The devil plays on the weak, mentally unstable and confused. He lurks and waits and puts evil thoughts into the mind of the insane and then they do the unthinkable.
Mental health systems and reporting has to improve, and anyone who tries to buy a gun legally should have a perfect record, no brushes with the law, no disciplinary actions. Let's hope the country learns something from this latest atrocity.
God weeps. God weeps each time someone goes insane and  commits evil actions, and listens to the evil voices in their heads. God be near to the families that have lost loved ones so violently and senselessly.
NJA

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Mars One Explorers- A One Way Ticket to the Red Planet

Just when you think you've heard it all or read it all comes a news article about an organization called "Mars One," that is planning to put a human settlement on Mars in the year 2023. Though this is the first time I'm hearing about it, apparently a year ago they publicized that they are going to colonize Mars (the Red Planet, 4th planet from the sun) which is currently uninhabited with a select group of people who volunteer to go. There is only one stipulation-it's a one way ticket. You go and you never come back to Earth. Sounds like science fiction, sounds a little crazy....well apparently they already have over 200,000 applications from people who are interested in leaving this planet permanently. You can't make this stuff up. The applicants come from all over the world.
The people who are selected will train for seven years. The first team of planetary adventurers will leave in 2022. The mission is expected to cost about $6 billion.
Interested? They are looking for people who work well with others, can live in close quarters and are good natured.
I'm certain they will need to have a priest and ministers for the Mars mission. Anyone interested in signing up? The settlers will have to have spiritual nourishment and religion in that strange environment. The settlers may be leaving civilization behind but God is everywhere.
It's not for me and I am truly amazed that anyone would be interested but some people are born explorers......One person who sent in an application, a Yale graduate said, "This is going to be a pretty important thing to do with my life. Talk about leaving your mark on humanity." I'd say!
And for those who apply who can't break away from modern technology, the mission will be equipped with the latest technology, so everyone back here on Earth can see how things are going.
NJA

Interesting Facts about Mars
Mars is named after the ancient Roman god of war- The Romans copied the ancient Greeks who named the reddish planet after their god of war-Ares
Mars is referred to as the "red planet" because of its reddish, rust color which is due to its iron rich materials in its dust and rocks, that cover the surface.
Mars has the largest volcanoes in the solar system.
Mars is much colder than Earth because it is further from the Sun.










Friday, September 6, 2013

Americans Don't Want War-The Pope Doesn't Want War

According to a poll that I took part of, the majority of Americans do not want to get involved in another Middle East war. I feel the same way. I, like the majority of Americans are appalled and dismayed by the Syrian regime's use of chemical weapons against its own people. It's horrific that at this time in history, (at any time)that the killing of innocent civilians in a cruel and inhuman way has taken place.  But the majority of Americans are wary of war, wars that can't be won, wars that have uncertain outcomes and will inflame more hatred towards Americans and our allies.
As I wrote in my last blog post, it says in the Bible, "Seek peace and pursue it." War should always be a last resort, after every other sort of diplomacy has been tried, in my opinion.
During a town hall meeting, Senator John McCain faced a difficult crowd, who were mostly against the U.S. getting involved in a war with Syria. People held up signs saying, "Security through peace," and "Don't bomb Syria."
The Bishops and of course Pope Francis agree that President Obama should not bomb Syria, but try diplomatic solutions. Pope Francis will hold a prayer vigil on Saturday night at the Vatican, to pray for peace and bishops throughout the world will hold prayer vigils as well.
The Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, LI, will hold a Prayer Service from 1:00-5:00 PM,  during the day on Saturday to pray for peace, in accordance with the Pope's wishes (and at the request of Bishop Murphy).   The Pope has asked Catholics and non-Catholics alike to spend the weekend in prayer and fasting for peace. Let's hope these prayers affect the hearts and minds of those in power, who have killed innocent children and convert them to compassion and love for others. May they see the darkness in their lives. And may President Obama find another way to stop extremists, other than war.
NJA

Let the cry for peace rise up across the Earth!
War never again! Never again war!
Humanity needs to see these gestures of peace and to hear words of hope and peace.
Pope Francis

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Seek Peace President Obama

I'm not a political person but I'll weigh in on this anyway. "On Wednesday, President Obama said U.S intelligence had linked Syrian President Assad's regime to the lethal chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians. We have concluded that the Syrian government in fact carried these out and if so , then there needs to be international consequences." If it's true (and it certainly seems to be a fact) and the Syrian government used chemical weapons, going against international norms, laws and decency, killing innocent people (children included) then something must be done by the international community to say this must never happen again. But if the United States and some of its allies, respond with limited bombing its not going to be much of a deterrent (according to the experts I've listened to). So what's the point then if it's not going to accomplish anything but "a slap on the hand," to President Assad? Why not form a coalition of all world leaders (why can't we get China and Russia on board?) to say to Assad these crazy and inhuman acts must stop. Why doesn't the U. N. condemn these actions and send a clear message that the entire world will not accept this kind of atrocity? (I'm sure in time they will.)
But bombing, a limited bombing, isn't going to do much but inflame the Middle East and send a "weak" message that this won't be tolerated. But there must be a peaceful way to accomplish that. Without bombs, without destabilizing the area. What about an international coalition that tries to help Syria end this brutal civil war?
"Seek peace and pursue it" is what it says in the Bible. When will all people act according to laws of decency, love, compassion and stop senseless killing. It boggles my mind that at this time in history, in the 21st century this is still going on.  The pain of God, it must pain God to see such atrocities.......and a lack of love and compassion.
NJA

"Dialogue and negotiations are the only option for putting an end to the conflict and violence in Syria"
(Pope Francis concurring with Jordan's King Abdullan II and Queen Rania who met on Aug. 29 at the Vatican)

Updated-8/30
If President Obama has no other choice but to act then I pray that this psalm will be fulfilled-
"Happy the man who considers the poor and the weak, The Lord will save him in the day of evil, will guard him, give him life, make him happy in the land and will not give him up to the will of his foes.....
(Psalm 41)





Friday, August 23, 2013

"Celebrate Our Newly Ordained"-Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, NY

One of the worthwhile things that I do is volunteering at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, Long Island.  I belong to a group of dedicated men and women called "The Friends of the Seminary" who volunteer and fund raise to help the Seminary and seminarians.
Today I attended a couple of meetings regarding different events we are planning, along with the Director of Development-Beverly Malone.  One special event will take place on Sunday, Sept. 15th at the Seminary titled, "Celebrate Our Newly Ordained." The event will honor Fr. Michael Edathil (ordained in the Syro-Malankara rite), Fr. Jason Grisafi, Fr. Fortunatus Mugisha, Fr. Vian Ntegerej'lmana,  and Fr. Brandon O'Brien.  The event will begin with vespers at 4:00 PM in the chapel. Bishop William Murphy (Bishop of Rockville Centre) will preside. It will be  followed by a cocktail reception and buffet. The reception will take place in the beautiful Rose Garden.
It will be a wonderful evening. Prayer, adoration, contemplation, celebration and recognizing the enormous gift these men are making to the Church, to the community of believers, to God and to themselves. They've chosen a very meaningful, enriched, fulfilling path to follow in life. Thank God for these men and others like them, who are willing to sacrifice and make the commitment to serve the Lord, to give witness to the goodness and love of God and to give of themselves to God's people. The best of Catholicism- all rolled into one event.
If you live in NYC or Long Island you should try to attend. It will be a great time. I'll be there, enjoying every minute of it. I love vespers, I am fortunate in that I love all forms of prayer. But I also like celebration. For information, you can email Beverly Malone at bmalone@icseminary.edu
NJA

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Yo-Yo Economic Recovery/How It Affects Churches

Here in New York where I live, store owners are complaining that people are coming into stores to look and browse but they're not buying too much. Macy's described it as a "reluctance to spend." Walmart is even complaining about customers not spending as much. Could it be the high cost of living and the exorbitant amounts people are paying for rent and to own, not to mention real estate taxes which are very high in the suburbs of NYC? I think so. In New York City with all its trendy neighborhoods, prices for condos, apartments and houses have gone through the roof, they've reached the absurd level in my opinion. New York City is a unique place, with great cultural diversity, excitement and creativity but with rising rents and the high cost to own, it will become a place for the rich and the rich only, if prices keep rising.  The middle class is hurting and stores are starting to see that. It's a real problem.
Middle class families are crucial to the well being and financial stability of Churches in the Northeast. And there are so many beautiful churches here. So that concerns me.   There is a great need for affordable housing in New York City and its suburbs and there is a lot of talk about doing something about it, but I'm not sure how much is actually getting done.
I grew up in a middle class neighborhood in Brooklyn. The neighborhood was filled with people of different backgrounds and religions and they made their living as police officers, firemen, teachers, nurses, government, city, and state workers, as well as construction workers, electricians and transit workers. My father worked for the transit authority. People worked hard, saved their money, bought houses and raised their families. There were good schools and great parishes. Middle class families with  strong ties to their extended families, their faith and community helped make New York City the unique place it is. The story is changing rapidly. Demographic changes will impact our Churches, there is no doubt about that. Churches should be on the forefront of helping to get affordable housing into New York City neighborhoods.
NJA

Friday, August 9, 2013

Preachers Handling Poisonous Snakes The Will of God? Doubt it!

Just when you think you've heard it all, comes a strange religion story on HuffPost about  Protestant Christian pastors from Tennessee who believe that God has instructed them (through Scripture) to 'take up serpents' in the literal sense.  Andrew Hamblin is a Protestant pastor from Tennessee who, along with other pastors take the biblical Scripture seriously and literally ("They will be able to handle snakes with safety and if they drink anything poisonous it won't hurt them"-Mk 16:18) The practice of handling venomous snakes during religious services has been outlawed in Tennessee since 1947 after 5 people died from snake bites, within two years.  Aren't Christians suppose to obey laws? And also I want to know how the National Geographic Channel can film this strange and dangerous behavior even though it is illegal. Apparently these snake handling pastors are getting a reality show. These are strange times we are living through........These pastors say they want to deepen faith by going on TV, with their poisonous snakes, but is that their only motivation for blatantly breaking the law on a reality show.
I'm sure God did not mean these pastors should literally handle dangerous snakes during religious services, putting themselves and others at risk and putting God to the test.  God desires praise and adoration and God wants us to deepen faith through prayer and deep reflection and Communion.  Singing and praising God, is good for the soul, but handling snakes during services, I can say with certainty this is not God's will. Sorry but I couldn't be more sure of this. And the National Geographic Channel should not be allowed to go along with this. It is poor judgment on their part.
NJA

UPDATED 2/17/14
SAD TO REPORT THAT A SNAKE HANDLING PASTOR HAS DIED FROM A SNAKE BITE

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/08/snake-salvation-reality-tv-show-andrew-hamblin_n_3727654.html?ref=topbar

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

It's About Time-Bishop Frank Caggiano's Going to Bridgeport

Congratulations to Bishop Frank Caggiano on his appointment as Bishop of Bridgeport, Connecticut. He will certainly be missed by Bishop DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn.  Bishop Caggiano as an auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn since 2006 and appointed, a couple of years later as the Vicar General as well, worked hard in restructuring the Diocese,  through pastoral planning (along with the Office of Pastoral Planning).
The Catholics of Bridgeport can look forward to inspiring homilies and well thought out lectures and talks. I heard today from a friend, who works in the Diocese that Bishop Caggiano received standing ovations in Rio at his catechetical sessions.
The Diocese of Brooklyn is losing two extraordinarily hard workers and gifted leaders. S. Angela Gannon, C.S.J. , secretary for Catholic Education and Formation is leaving her position as well this August to work for her community.
I was born and raised in the Diocese of Brooklyn, and lived most of my adult life there as well. It will always have a special place in my heart. I'm there often. As a matter of fact I was in the Church of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Williamsburg this past Saturday afternoon, on a visit to that vibrant Brooklyn neighborhood. Brooklyn is a spiritual place, always was and always will be. There is deep faith there, practiced by people of different religions.
Two inspiring leaders are moving on. God Bless them both. They will continue to bear good fruit, wherever they go, whatever their titles.
NJA

Interesting......
Bridgeport Diocese is made up of 633 square miles. The Diocese has 925,900 people with 410,835 or 44 percent of them Catholic.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Praying For Thomas Peters-Life's Unpredictability


One of the things that causes me stress is the unpredictability of life, the suddenness with which your life can be turned upside down. Yesterday in a parking lot, an older person nearly backed into me, as I was walking. Luckily I was alert. I am also aware, that a lot of people get hit by cars in parking lots. You can never let your guard down.
Then there was the recent horrible story about a young 28 year old teacher, who was eating a frankfurter at Wrigley Field in Chicago and she choked to death on a frankfurter. Why they don't change the shape of frankfurters is beyond me, they are such a choking hazard, and not just for children. Discussing that awful story with someone yesterday, I mentioned the importance of being mindful, even when eating. It's so sad, people choke to death, all the time, and yet as Americans we talk while we eat, some people drive while they're eating, so many distractions all the time. Do we always eat mindfully and carefully? No, and that's me included.
I felt so sad when I read about the swimming accident that the Catholic blogger Thomas Peters recently had. It was a serious accident, he's hospitalized, with a neck injury. He's getting excellent care, but what a sad story.  A young man of 27 suddenly thrust into this living nightmare, along with his family. It's incomprehensible how quickly life can become unmanageable. That's why prayer is such an anchor, for so many. It has so much importance in my life and in the life of other believers as well.
 There is a website-"Update and Information Center for the recovery of Thomas Peters"- (http://tpetersrecovery.blogspot.com) to follow his progress and he is making progress, Thank God, but he has a long road ahead to recovery. He is in my prayers, along with his wife and family. On the website there is a link to ways to pray for Thomas and his family.
Pope Francis, as most Catholics know, is in Rio de Janiero for World Youth Day and he was recently thrust into an unpredictable, unruly situation when the driver of his car, made a wrong turn and his car was mobbed by the crowd. It was a loving and adoring crowd, but a crowd no less. That situation could have turned out of control very quickly, luckily it didn't.
I couldn't live without prayer, I don't know how people do. In this ever changing, unpredictable, precarious world we live in, prayer is a great gift and comfort. I know it is a comfort to Thomas Peters and  his family at this difficult time. Please Jesus be near to them and help them.
NJA

*6 Month Update  (Thank God for the progress!)
http://tpetersrecovery.blogspot.com/2014/01/from-thomas-natalie-6-month-update.html
*One Year Update (More Good News-Thank God!)
http://tpetersrecovery.blogspot.fr/2014/07/one-year-since-one-year-strong.html

Monday, July 15, 2013

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and the Carmelites

I attended a beautiful celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel,  on Sunday at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Island in Manorville, Long Island.  Brother Nicholas Blackwell, O.Carm., gave two talks, for which he was well prepared. He gave us so much good information that I will have to go back to my notes many times, to review and gain insights from them.  At the beginning of his first talk, Br. Nicholas explained to us that he is originally from Michigan, from a German background and that he tends to get “over zealous.” He used excellent resources for his talks. Brother Nicholas is young and exuberant.  All good qualities,  since he will be a priest one day. His first talk centered on the Holy Spirit. One can never be reminded too much that each of us has an Advocate at our side, the Holy Spirit. “The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of love and life.”
We traveled from our chapter in Queens and luckily there wasn’t’ too much traffic heading out to the Hamptons or coming home, so that was a blessing. Nothing like ruining a day of prayer and study with traffic.
We started with Morning Prayer, then a conference. Afterwards we celebrated Mass and  Fr. Roy from the Shrine gave an inspiring homily.  During the Mass Fr. Roy blessed scapulars that were given out. Professed lay Carmelites like myself, have our own large brown scapulars, but smaller ones were given out to Mass attendees. (The Shrine has an 11:30 AM Mass each Sunday, open to the public.)
In the afternoon we had another conference as well as a Holy Hour. Good day to be refreshed in Carmelite spirituality and to connect with Mary, the patroness and protector of the Order.  Another blessing was the the traveling blessed statue of Our Lady of Fatima was brought to the Shrine on Sunday.  
And so it was a good day to be with other Carmelites, in such a beautiful location as the Shrine. I love being surrounded by other Carmelites, such good people, who are trying to grow in holiness, and to be close to Jesus and Mary.
NJA

Veni Sanctus Spiritus

Perfection consists in doing God's will,  in being what God wills us to be.
St. Therese of Lisieux

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The French People-Not Good Without God

According to a New York Times article I read which I found very interesting, ("Goodbye Old World, Bonjour Tristesse"-7/7/13), the French people have a high rate of suicide and take more antidepressants than most people in other European countries. A certain malaise and hopelessness has settled over many in France. One person was quoted as saying, "The French people maybe they think too much."
Yes, I have read that too much ruminating over thoughts can cause unhappiness.
Surely there are problems in France and throughout the world which cause unhappiness such as high  unemployment. People need to  have meaningful work and a job which pays a just wage, otherwise people feel trapped in a downward spiral and experience hopelessness. But that's only one cause of unhappiness.
The French, it seems, are curious about happiness studies (as are Americans and others). I happen to have many books on the subject of happiness and reasons for it. And what I've read about happiness and the way to feel more fulfilled and joyful is to belong to a faith community and to be a person of faith.
Yes, belief in God, religious rituals, prayer and belonging to a faith community helps people to feel more fulfilled, enriched, less isolated and connected to something higher than themself. It helps to give people meaning and purpose in life. And religion helps people to have hope-hope for the future, hope in a merciful, loving God, hope in salvation, hope in an afterlife, in eternal life, all of these give people hope. Religion helps people to search for truth and in finding truth they can find God.
So perhaps the French people (at least the ones who have abandoned faith in God), should embrace religion again. Perhaps the answer to living an enriched and meaningful life is to have faith, to pray, to embrace rituals and have a positive attitude.  People need to have hope, to look to the future with hope and belief in God gives that to people.
NJA

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.  (Romans15:13)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Brave Firefighters-Loss of Life And Global Warming

In an horrific loss of noble lives, 19 firefighters from an elite group of "hot shots" died while battling an Arizona forest fire. A sudden windstorm trapped the firefighters in an inferno, from which they couldn't escape. Such a tragic loss.  Prescott Fire Chief was quoted as saying, "We grieve for the family. We grieve for the department. We grieve for the city....We're devastated. We just lost 19 of the finest people you'll ever meet."
I recently stood in front of a firehouse in lower Manhattan and read the names on plaques and prayed for the deceased firefighters who lost their lives on 9/11 in New York City.  Twelve firefighters lost their lives from that one firehouse in lower Manhattan. There are many plaques with names of heroes, who raced into the burning towers,  throughout firehouses in Manhattan and the five boroughs.  I have the utmost respect for firefighters who risk their lives for strangers. Could they more fittingly answer the biblical call to "love your neighbor as yourself?".........
But getting back to this most recent tragedy in Arizona, I can't help but think that global warming and the record breaking hot temperatures that the western United States is experiencing is partly to blame for this tragedy. Arizona has become a tinderbox, because of severe drought conditions.
Floods of historic proportions in parts of the world (including Lourdes, France) and temperatures reaching into the triple digits in the West, breaking records, could just be the beginning, (according to climate scientists) of weather and climate out of control. And if an elite firefighting group was caught off guard, what does this mean? If they can't deal with erratic weather, who can?
I think it's frightening but what I think is more frightening than anything is human pride that keeps people from acting wisely and decisively when dealing with global warming. Pride is a deadly sin and for good reason, it clouds judgment and decision making.
Some politicians and government leaders think that future generations will have to deal with global warming and come up with solutions. But it seems to me, when I see what's happening, the future is now.
I experienced the effects of Hurricane Sandy. A tree fell on my house. I witnessed firsthand the hardship it caused in New York City and on Long Island.
Fires, floods, hurricanes, rising tides................. I wonder is the deadly sin of pride going to make the situation worse because of inaction, because people think there is nothing to be done now?
NJA





Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Shrine at Lourdes Damaged By Flooding

According to climate scientists, one of the effects of global warming will be that it will rain excessively in some places, while causing drought in others. Is global warming to blame for the damaging floods that have inundated the shrine at Lourdes, France and caused millions of dollars in damages as well as ruined pilgrimages? Perhaps that is the cause. It certainly is not because of lack of prayers because Lourdes is one of the holiest of Catholic shrines, drawing millions of prayerful visitors each year.
So it must be the out of control climate which is causing disruptive weather throughout the world. Is climate change to blame for wildfires in Colorado, drought in parts of the world and excessive rainfall and killer tornadoes and storms?  Alaska has been having record breaking temperatures, a heat wave which is shattering records and causing an extreme wildfire danger in that state.
What's scary is that perhaps all the prayers in the world won't help once we hit the tipping point.
I hope that's not the case.  We literally keep "playing with fire," damaging the earth's atmosphere, increasing greenhouse gases and believing that that damage we do, will not affect us. So much pride, is  dangerous, foolish and ultimately costly.
Flooding reached the second floor of some hotels in Lourdes and pilgrimages had to be cancelled.
Clean-up has begun and the shrine will certainly need donations to help restore it. But this happened on a smaller scale in October of 2012. This time it has been called a catastrophe.
If this can happen at such a holy site, one wonders if things are out of control already with weather patterns and if the severe effects of global warming are beginnng already. Seems like an ominous sign. The waters at Lourdes were always associated with healing but now in the "new normal" the waters are destructive. Something is not right. It doesn't take a climate scientist to see that.
NJA


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Corpus Christi Processions-in Russia, Rome and in the U.S.A.

Hope Reigns! Jesus lives! In Rome, Pope Francis led a Corpus Christi procession, through the streets of Rome.  After an absence of 95 years the Russian people were permitted to take part in a Corpus Christi procession through St. Petersburg from the Catholic churches of Our Lady of Lourdes to St. Catherine of Alexandria. Praise God! And on the great solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ I spent it at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, NY where I heard an excellent lecture by Scripture scholar, professor and author, Dr. Brant Pitre. At the Denzer Lecture at the Seminary, Msgr. Henning, the rector, introduced Dr. Pitre and told us that having heard him speak sometime ago, he was anxious for him to come to the Seminary to speak. I could see why. His topic was fascinating, "Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist." He's an expert on this topic as he's written a book titled, "Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper."
Quoting from the Hebrew Scriptures, the New Testament and ancient Hebrew texts (Midrash Rabbah) Dr. Pitre made the connection between the heavenly manna given to the Jewish people during the Exodus to the heavenly bread- the "bread of the age to come," given to us by Jesus. Holy Communion just like the manna given to the ancient Isrealites, is both "daily and supernatural," by which we are fed and nourish at the table of the Lord.
After the lecture, Msgr. Richard Henning planned a beautiful Eucharistic Procession through the grounds of the Seminary which are magnificent. After the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and prayer, in the main chapel,  we were led first to the Rose Garden (which is generously maintained by the "Friends of the Seminary,") then to the Loggia and finally to the Crypt Chapel for a triple benediction. The wind blew, the Spirit was present and it was a glorious procession, with beautiful music, prayers, adoration of God and the faithful. Most impressive!
So that is how I spent the feast of Corpus Christi. A day well spent, in prayer, with friends (Friends of the Seminary), surrounded by beauty.
NJA

Resurrection is the key--
The flesh of the Son of Man, given as food, is his body in its glorious state after the Resurrection. With the Eucharist we digest, as it were, the 'secret' of the resurrection." Pope John Paul II- "Ecclesia de Eucharistia 18)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Atheists: Redeemed Or Not? Saved By the Blood of Christ Or Not?

These are important questions, that only God can answer and God alone. Who can know the "mind" of God or the depths of God's mercy?

It seems that Pope Francis who tries to be inclusive and pastoral (which is good) opened "a can of worms" recently when he gave a homily to Vatican employees in the chapel of the Domus Santa Marta residence inside the Vatican grounds, where he chooses to live. These controversial remarks made headlines, "The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the blood of Christ, all of us, not just Catholics, Everyone! 'Father the atheists?' Even the atheists. And this blood makes us children of God of the first class. We are created children in the likeness of God and the blood of Christ has redeemed us all. And we all have a duty to do good".............This was not the first time I heard this idea. I heard it before and I believe the idea comes from Karl Rahner, that brilliant Jesuit theologian and it's called the "anonymous Christian." According to Rahner, we are all saved by the blood of Christ, by his redemptive act of love for humankind, whether we accept it or not, or profess it or not.  So Pope Francis obviously knows about the writings of Karl Rahner and was influenced by them in what he said.
The Vatican has tried to clarify the Pope's remarks. Pope Francis is doing such a good job, is much loved already and is so well liked but  he has to be careful what he says, after all he's the Pope and every word he says is scrutinized.
When I was in college I took a psychology course and I did a research paper on near death experiences. Even then there were thousands of accounts of people who were pronounced dead but were resuscitated and brought back to life.  Many had a story to tell. Their experiences vary but there are similarities. They tell of feeling their souls leave their bodies, seeing the doctors and nurses trying to bring them back to life, feeling themselves at total peace, seeing a bright light, a tunnel, deceased relatives.............some people hear soothing music, feel being drawn towards God. No one ever wants to come back to life, each person feels like they must live a more fulfilled and meaningful life after the near death experience. Of all the accounts I've read, not one person,  claimed to go to Hell, see or feel anything evil or have a negative, unpleasant experience.
So who knows? I'm sure hell exists for the very evil and our Church teaching says that it does. But will atheists go to hell, because they question God's existence, would a merciful God do that? You can answer that for yourself.
NJA

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tornado Alley Schools Need Safe Rooms

How many warnings are needed before responsible action is taken? How many lives have to be lost in Tornado Alley before people say enough is enough. We have been given human intelligence by God to use it wisely and yet it is incomprehensible to me that schools in "tornado alley" do not have safe rooms or shelters built beneath their schools to protect children and teachers in the event of a monster storm. I don't care what the consistency of the soil is, it is doable with modern equipment and it's absurd that the schools in Oklahoma that were destroyed or damaged during the recent horrific EF 5 tornado didn't have safe rooms or shelters.
We live in a fallen world and as beautiful as this world is, there are dangers from violent weather, why that is no one knows, but the reality is, we have to find ways to lessen dangers from storms. Many climate scientists believe that the future holds more violent and unpredictable weather because of global warming. The time to take action is now, in my opinion but the experts are saying that exact thing.
According to a HuffPost Green online article, "The two elementary schools leveled by the deadly tornado that swept through the Oklahoma City area Monday lacked designated safe rooms designed to protect children and teachers despite state warnings that the absence of such facilities imperils lives.
And what's more important than protecting the lives of children and teachers during a monster storm, especially in an area of the country that is prone to tornado activity. Children don't understand politics, school budgets, the bottom line, too expensive, too difficult or other excuses. They want to feel safe in school away from their parents. They deserve no less.
There has been enough tragic loss of life, enough trauma and now it's time to act.  Let's hope school budgets and politics don't get in the way of responsible action.
NJA

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Latinos Switching to Evangelical Churches-Catholic Church Address This..

According to a recent online article I read at Fox News Latino, titled, "Switching Sides: Latinos Ditching Catholicism for Evangelical Churches," by Lauren Green, the situation of Hispanics leaving the Catholic Church for evangelical Churches is a more serious "problem"for the Church than I imagined. I knew it was happening in great numbers in Latin and South America, but I didn't realize it was also happening here in America too, in large numbers. What's the reason? I'm sure it's more than one reason, it's never one thing. An evangelical pastor whose own congregation has grown from 120 members in 2000 to over 17,000 today (on different campuses) believes that evangelical churches are doing a better job of putting people in relationship with Jesus. Now that should be a wake up call!
Pastor Alfredo de Jesus said, "It's the relationship between worshipper and God that each denomination affords its respective followers.....What I have seen, at least in my own experience is this encounter with God that we didn't experience in the Catholic Church....A system that was so rigid and God seemed so far."
God far? It doesn't make any sense to me. When I receive Holy Communion, when I pray God is very near to me. What's a more intimate union then receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus?
Maybe it's the charismatic type prayer and services that appeal to Hispanics but we offer that in the Catholic Church, so there is more to it.
Whenever I give a talk, I always tell the participants that according to Church documents, the bishops state that the "goal of all catechesis is to put adults (and children, of course) in communion with Jesus Christ." I explain that through intentional actions and a variety of prayer experiences this can be achieved, it's doable.
I love this quote from St. Teresa of Avila, "So many problems arise from imagining Jesus as far away when He is near." Jesus is near to us, in the Catholic Church, we have to convince people of that and give them prayer experiences and liturgies which help them to "feel"and experience that reality.  If any denomination can put people in close relationship with Jesus it should be the Catholic Church with our ancient liturgies and traditions, variety of prayers and devotions that are offered, the sacraments and most especially Holy Communion. So what's wrong and what can be done? I'm convinced, good music is crucial to uplifting liturgies. And inspiring homilies as well. But obviously this situation should be addressed by the New Evangelization-practical solutions that work are needed. Committees that get to the bottom of the problem and address it in a timely and realistic way.
NJA

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Charles Ramsey-"I'm a Christian and an American"

I watched the interview that CNN's Anderson Cooper had with Charles Ramsey, who is one of the heroes who helped Amanda Berry and other women escape from a "hellish" imprisonment after being kidnapped over 10 years ago. The story is almost beyond belief. Charles Ramsey was eating his McDonald's when he heard yelling for help. He responded with quick action that probably saved their  lives. I read that the run-down, hellish house the girls were imprisoned in, was in foreclosure. I can't even think of the horrible things that the alleged kidnapper was thinking of, if he had to vacate that house.
Amanda Berry, it seems, acted at the right moment to save her child and the others.
And someone was listening, someone heard her pleas for help.  Someone was willing to interfere, to get involved, even though it might not have seemed the wise thing to do. But Charles Ramsey, a restaurant dishwasher from Cleveland, did the right thing. He's not a perfect human being, but hopefully he's growing into a better person and improving, as we should all strive to do. At that moment in time, he acted nobly. And he should be given credit for that. People always want to tear down heroes, but he deserves praise for what he did.
When Anderson Cooper asked him if he was a hero, he responded, "No, no, no. I'm a Christian, an American. I'm just like you. We bleed the same blood, put our pants on the same way. It's just that you got to put that-being a coward and I don't want to get in nobody's business. You got to put that away for a minute. You have to have cajones, bro."
I just loved that he was calling the famous Anderson Cooper, "bro" it was so real.
McDonald's got some free good press from Charles Ramsey so I think he should get free McDonald's, at least for a year or maybe longer. In a tweet McDonald's praised Charles Ramsey and said he would be hearing from them. Let's hope they give him some reward.
"Do unto others and you would have them do unto you." ....."Love your neighbor as yourself."The Golden Rule and the Great Commandment were acted out, on a street in Cleveland, Ohio saving lives of the innocent. Yes, that is a true mark of a Christian in action.
NJA

P.S. Accused Cleveland kidnapper and tormentor (and possible baby-killer) is eligible for bail?? How can that be?

UPDATE: Charles Ramsey will be getting free burgers for life in Cleveland, for his heroism, as reported below

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/22/charles-ramsey-burgers-for-life-free-chuck-card_n_3322413.html?ref=topbar

Monday, April 29, 2013

Jesus-The Original Hipster? Perhaps.....

I spend a lot of time in neighborhoods where "hipsters" live and work. They're great neighborhoods to try new restaurants,  to people watch and to visit with friends and family. There's the well known hipster capital of the world and the place where the word hipster evolved from-Williamsburg, Brooklyn. We go there regularly for brunch, to visit our friends' art gallery or just to walk around. Recently we waited two hours to eat in the trendiest of restaurants (according to my sons) in nearby Greenpoint,  called "Five Leaves." Heath Ledger (deceased actor) had a connection to this restaurant which probably is what all the hype is about, but the food was delicious.
But getting back to the new ad campaign by the Diocese of Brooklyn which calls Jesus, "The Original Hipster," in an effort to attract young adults to the faith. It seems to be getting a lot of media attention and seems to be successful as traffic on the diocese's website has gone up 400% since the ad, so that's fantastic. The ad shows Jesus wearing converse sneakers-pretty cool and creative, though the image I've seen only shows Jesus' robe with the sneakers, no view of his face but we can imagine he would have had long hair as well......
In one article I've read, Msgr. Kieran Harrington was quoted as saying, "We understand the importance of relating to the people in the area...Jesus appears (in these ads) like people of the L train. What is a hipster anyway? Someone who stands against the mainstream culture. Jesus stood against the culture."
And I would add, Jesus also has an influential Father, a lot of  hipsters have parents who are well off. According to urban legend, many hipsters can afford to live in expensive hipster neighborhoods, while following their creative, artistic, non-conformist dreams, with a little financial help from Mom and Dad or their trust funds. Of course that is a generalization but it holds true in some cases. Presently, one bedroom condo's in Williamsburg are selling between $500,000 and 700,000 and higher. Prices of apartments and rents in hipster neighborhoods have gone through the roof. Apparently, everyone wants to live near hipsters, after all they're soooo cool and hip, on the cutting edge. Walking down Bedford Ave. on a Friday night was like going to a carnival, I couldn't believe how alive and upbeat the area was. In Williamsburg you can hear accents of people from around the world, it's incredible how popular it is.
Jesus was (and still is) counter-cultural. Jesus was a non-conformist and He was non-judgmental when He walked this earth. The Divine Son is "the way, the truth and the life." Any ad campaign which helps young people to realize that is a great thing. I'm a fan of this ad  but realistically Jesus couldn't afford to live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, I don't know who can at these elevated real estate prices.
NJA

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Boston Marathon Suspects-Devil's Influence-Evil Actions

How sad that so many innocent people were killed or seriously injured in the Boston Marathon bombings and the aftermath, by two brothers led astray by insane, violent and evil thoughts and actions. Once again, we see the devil's cunning, evil influence distorting thoughts in the young and alienated. Once again, we see evil in the disregard for human life and the lack of human compassion. It's so sad to have lived this nightmare of terrorism again.
I was riveted by television coverage of the search for the bombers as were millions of people. It all unfolded in real time, surreal events. If only those two brothers truly understood and lived the truth in religion which is to love God and to love others, to serve humankind and to be compassionate, then they never could have carried out those heinous acts of violence against the innocent. All of the major world religions have an important teaching and saying, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Though the words might slightly differ from one religion to another, those words in some form appear in every religion in their teaching. And if only everyone on this earth took that statement seriously and abided by it, what a different world this would be.
The older brother, now dead, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, led his younger brother, Dzhokhar, 19, into "hell". What a pity! Instead of providing his young brother with a good and decent path to follow, a life which could have been filled with integrity and hard work, he led his younger brother into "hell." It's beyond comprehension. They were given a chance, they were given opportunity and they chose evil and violence.
For those in hospitals, without limbs, for those who've lost loved ones, the nightmare continues. We can pray for them and help in other ways.
America is a great country, with limitless opportunities but obviously you have to follow the good, the voice of reason and truth and stay away from evil, destructive actions, because as we've seen over and over again,  if you give into evil, you will wind up with a shattered, destroyed life.
Christians today were reminded by Jesus, through the gospel that He is the Good Shepherd, He cares and loves us and wants us to follow His voice, the voice of truth and compassion.
NJA

Monday, April 15, 2013

St. Joseph's Seminary-Dunwoodie, Yonkers

The "Friends of the Seminary," a group of men and women who support the seminarians of Rockville Centre and the beautiful Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington (now a learning and retreat center) took a day trip on Saturday to visit the seminarians studying at St. Joseph's Seminary. (The seminarians of Rockville Centre no longer study at Huntington, so we wanted to show "The Friends," St. Joseph's, where the seminarians now live and study, along with seminarians from the Brooklyn Diocese, the Archdiocese of NY and some from religious orders.) We celebrated Mass with the seminarians, had a tour of the chapel and enjoyed lunch with them. We were welcomed by that extraordinary priest and new rector of St. Joseph's- Msgr. Peter Vaccari. (Him and his brother, Msgr. Andrew Vaccari (pastor of St. Mary Mother of Jesus in Brooklyn) are two of the finest priests I know!) What a blessed family!
For many years I have been a part of this group called "The Friends." We have fundraising events to help with the support of seminarians, we pray for them and have a vocations prayer hour once a month. Some of "The Friends" on the Rose Garden committee work in the Rose Garden during the warm months of the year. These are wonderful people who love the Church and want to help. 
But getting back to the seminarians, they are a true reflection of the Church in the modern world. They come from all ethnic backgrounds and races, but they have one thing in common, they love God and they love the Church and they want to serve. Some of us were talking to a seminarian named Mark who will be ordained in two years. He will be a Navy chaplain, and he explained to us that once he's ordained, his assignment will be to fly in a helicopter to celebrate Mass on 5 different ships on a Sunday. Very impressive and his vocation is needed so much. I asked him to pray for world peace, so that his role is basically serving during peacetime.  
The seminarians are striving for holiness as was evident during the Mass. They sang hymns loudly and with conviction, they prayed reverently, it was so uplifting to celebrate Mass with them. Fr. Charles Caccavale was the celebrant and he gave a thought provoking homily. "Let us choose the resurrection everyday, over and over again we have to choose to be people of the resurrection." (I'm paraphrasing). 
Msgr. Peter Vaccari, spoke to us after lunch about the stain glass windows in the chapel depicting scenes from both the Old and New Testament and described other works of art in the magnificent chapel. 
It was a wonderful bus trip from Huntington to Yonkers. Beverly Malone, the Director of Development at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception worked hard to put the day together and we're always grateful for her assistance. The Church is alive and well because of young men who continue to be counter-cultural and answer God's call selflessly and receptively. They say "Yes" to God and we are thankful for them. 
God Bless Them and God Bless "The Friends of the Seminary!"
NJA



Thursday, April 11, 2013

Stephen Hawking- I Don't Agree!

I respectfully disagree with Stephen Hawking's "dire warning for humanity," which he recently spoke about. He is the famous physicist and cosmologist and he recently stated that space exploration is a must, because he doesn't think human beings would survive another 1,000 years 'without escaping beyond our fragile planet.' I think space exploration is a good thing and it doesn't hurt to have a backup plan, but I think as long as some precautions are put in place to deter and destroy any large asteroids that come near our planet, we should be OK for thousands of years, or hundreds of thousands of years,  in my humble opinion. I'm not an expert and certainly Stephen Hawking is, but I am a believer and I have faith in God and God's plan for humanity. Which doesn't mean we shouldn't take precautions and use human intelligence for the good of humankind.  Most asteroids burn up before they hit us but as some scientists are noting, there should be a plan to destroy any large asteroids that could severely damage our planet and cause loss of life. A nonprofit foundation called B612 is developing technology-an infrared space telescope to track large asteroids and hopefully one day we will have the capacity to destroy any life threatening asteroids.
Our planet is in a relatively "quiet" place in the Milky Way Galaxy. It's an incredibly beautiful planet, with diverse forms of life, complexity, artistic colors and a God/Creator who is apparently a mathematician because the mathematical equations are exact. There was the exact amount of atoms of carbon present at creation to sustain life on this planet.
Without God, without a Supreme Being who deeply cares for and loves all creation, most especially human beings,  then perhaps we wouldn't last another 1,000 years.
But as long as we use our intelligence, some common sense, say our prayers and use God's wisdom to guide us,  we should be just fine.
NJA

Friday, April 5, 2013

Teilhard de Chardin "Hymn of the Universe" and Easter Hope

Stop worrying. Be happy. Smile. We are a people who believe in the resurrection, in eternal life. We are people full of hope, who see life and events through the eyes of faith.  It doesn't get better than that.
As Teilhard de Chardin, the extraordinary Jesuit priest/scientist/genius wrote in "Hymn of the Universe," Let us then for love of our Creator and of the Universe throw ourselves fearlessly into the crucible of the world of tomorrow. He also wrote that,  Christian faith can be said to manifest itself as, in the most realistic and comprehensive sense, a 'cosmic energy.'  I've been thinking a lot about that. We certainly don't often think of our potentialities as Christians. United to Christ,  who is the Alpha and Omega, the pre-existent One, our potential as Christians is unlimited but we fail to grasp that most of the time.
We are members of the household of God, baptized into the divine life of the Trinity, God-Creator/Christ the Anointed One loves us and blesses us with many gifts and as Teilhard wrote we are also endowed with 'cosmic energy,' though I admit that's difficult to get our minds around. We worry about plans for evangelization. If only we would truly accept, utilize and believe in the power of the Holy Spirit to move us, guide us and open us to God's will. If only we could "tap" into the "cosmic energy"and be one with the Cosmic Christ that Teilhard tried to describe.
We live in the Divine Milieu, God is present to us, the Divine Milieu is that "luminosity" of God in which we live and move and have our being. According to a description of the Divine Milieu given by Louis Savary in his book, "Teilhard de Chardin-The Divine Milieu Explained," For Teilhard, the most important spiritual fact of our existence is that at every moment you are I are swimming in a divine sea. Fortunately, we can't be taken out of it. At every moment we are inhaling and exhaling the divine life.
There's so much to be grateful for during this Easter Season. That we know Christ, that we are "swimming in the Divine Milieu" that we are loved by our Creator.
NJA

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Beauty of Christ

As we enter into this most holy time of the Church year, it is good to think about the goodness and beauty of Christ. It has been said that you have to "catch Christianity" and I've repeated that often. I certainly "caught it," as a young child. There was something happening in the Church, at Mass, that captured my religious imagination and gave me the desire to search my whole life and try to respond to God's initiative, God's call.  So this journey that I have been on, is because I felt something very good, when I received the sacraments, whenever I was in Church and it touched my soul and gave me the desire to respond to what I felt. I think of all the Church documents that state that evangelizers and teachers of the faith must put children and adults "in communion with Jesus Christ." That is what is necessary for ongoing conversion and transformation.
As I watch "The Bible" miniseries on the History Channel, Christ's goodness, beauty and compassion can be seen and Jesus is a compelling figure in the show, as He has remained for over 2,000 years.
We try to get it right, we try to live good, holy Christian lives and yet Jesus kept focused on doing the will of the Father, each and every day of his life on earth.
The saints say that is true holiness, finding out what God's will is for you and fulfilling it.
Jesus did it. We keep trying.
May these days of prayer, lift you up to Jesus and give you inner strength and courage. May you feel the love and fulfillment of knowing Christ and being Christian.

Holy Triduum! Happy, Blessed Easter!
NJA

I have come that they might have life and have it to the full. 


Friday, March 22, 2013

My Interesting Readership From Around the Globe

My son played a joke on me, he's quite a character. Knowing I have a lot of Russian readers of my blog (why that is, is a mystery to me), he pretended to be a Russian Christian blogger who wrote to me. He made up the name Igor and he had Igor write saying,  that I was taking too many Russian readers away from him and he wanted me to teach him how to blog better. It was really hysterical and he went so far as to make up a gmail e-mail account,  so it was quite believable. I was suspicious of the email and didn't respond to it, and eventually my son admitted his practical joke.
But anyhow my friends and I got a big laugh out of it. Igor and his brother Vladimir also sent me flowers for Valentine's Day, the flowers were very nice, the message was also funny.
I'm flattered that anyone in Russia would read my blog, and the reality is after my U.S. readers (the largest amount of readers, which is expected) the next highest amount of readers of my blog come from Russia.
This is very ironic to me, since I grew up during the Cold War.  Now it's evident how close the world has become through the internet. It really can be a tool for promoting understanding, tolerance and world peace if it was used for that purpose and intentionally used for good.
Since my son taught me how to look at stats on my blog and see how many people read my blog and from which countries, I find it fascinating to see readers connect from all over the world. I certainly do not have a huge following but it's enough to keep me blogging and besides I also blog to prevent Alzheimer's, that dreaded disease. Also, past blog entries are read a lot which is nice too.
So as I mentally prepare for Holy Week, the Passion account is difficult for me to hear, I will enter into this sacred time, this most holiest of weeks, hoping and praying I grow spiritually from it.
I hope God is pleased with my attempts to evangelize, to stay faithful and to write about how enriching a faith life is.
NJA

Monday, March 18, 2013

Another Proof of God's Existence-Jesus' Life

After watching an episode last night of the hit miniseries, "The Bible," on the History Channel I wasn't thinking (as a lot of people were) that the actor who played satan resembled President Obama. I would say it's just a coincidence, which is exactly what the producers are saying. Their explanation is that they most often used Moroccan actors as it was filmed in Morocco and they saved money doing it that way. So the actor is Moroccan and he just happens to look like President Obama. A strange coincidence.
Though I think the miniseries is very good, I think the episodes are too violent and graphic and I often have to look away. I am just too sensitive to view all that insensitivity, hatred and killing.
What amazed me after watching the brutality of Herod and the Romans, as it was portrayed last night, is that Jesus managed to survive for 33 years. Yes, Joseph and Mary fled into Egypt with the baby Jesus, and that probably saved the infant Jesus' life. But what about when he started preaching and teaching.  He was creating a stir, the authorities were not happy with him, and yet he was able to go on preaching for 3 years, long enough to give us enough material from which the New Testament was created. Just one more proof of God's existence, in my opinion. If God didn't exist he would have been killed by the Romans a couple of weeks after he started preaching and drawing crowds. They were ruthless, they wouldn't have given him time to expound on his views, philosophy and his teachings.  They would have done away with him much sooner. But God was with him. He somehow managed to survive and slip though their hands a number of times.
We are greatly blessed by his words and teachings and the New Testament which is rich in beauty, knowledge of God and the Spirit.
God exists and Jesus' life is proof of that.
NJA

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pope Francis I-Humble, Holy With A Huge Task Ahead

What a surprise! A new Pope from Argentina with a lot of firsts. The first Jesuit Pope, the first Pope from South America and the first non-European Pope in 1,200 years.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the new Pope Franics I, is a voice for the voiceless- the poor and for the poor in spirit as well.  The 266th Pope of the Church will have a lot of work cut out for him. He's 76 years old with a heavy weight on his shoulders. Let's hope and pray that he is up to the challenge.
Like St. Francis of Assisi, whose name he took, Pope Francis has to "rebuild" and heal the Church, with God's guidance and grace. Wise leadership, holy leadership and all in accordance with God's will is needed at this time in history. God's church is in need of repair, renewal and common sense thinking and action. Please God let Pope Francis do your will in each moment of his papacy and bring renewal that is needed.
St. Francis of Assisi, that remarkable and much loved saint, heard the voice of the Lord, coming from the crucifix in the small chapel of San Damiano. The chapel was in need of repair and so St. Francis began the work of restoring it, but God meant more than that. And so the name taken by the new Pope is highly significant and meaningful.
Repair and rebuild my Church Francis and give it new life and new direction, guided by the promptings of the Holy Spirit. The people of God, the faithful people of God, deserve no less.
I join the world in thanking God for giving us a new Pope, one who is a friend to the poor and understands their challenges. Thank God the new Pope has shown humility and austerity and will bring a breath of fresh air to the Vatican.
NJA

When we walk without the Cross, when we build without the Cross and when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord, we are worldly......
Pope Francis

He who commands humility will lead safely to the truth......Yes, the way of humility is a good way.
It seeks for truth, it wins charity, it shares the fruits of wisdom....."
St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Papabili-Jesus- The Next Pope-I Vote For That!

I've given it a lot of thought, read a lot and watched a lot of coverage about the interregnum on EWTN and I think it would be a good idea for Jesus to show up at the Sistine Chapel during the Conclave and tell the Cardinals he's ready to be a Divine Pope. He's already the invisible Divine head of the Church, he needs to step up and take control of the Church. He's already mighty Savior, Prince of Peace, Christ the King, Great High Priest, Lord of Lords, Pre-existent One, Word of God, Cosmic Christ, Son of God and God-one more title is needed at this historic time in Church history-Pope Jesus Divine Incarnate.
I think it's a great idea. Let Christ return in glory. It's time. We need him. The Church needs a supernatural event. Let him descend from Heaven and show up at the Sistine Chapel. (No Armageddon, or end- time catastrophes,  just Jesus coming in glory!) Think of the media frenzy that would occur....Cardinals will tell afterwards of dropping to their knees, crying and praising God. Imagine the King of Kings in the house. Imagine the beauty and holiness of Christ filling the Sistine Chapel. Such a beautiful thought.
The Church needs Jesus or someone just like him. The world needs Jesus or a religious leader just like him. I would love to see Jesus return in glory, at this time in history and set the world right. To stamp out evil and injustice, He could bring along a legion of angels, led by St. Michael the Archangel. I can dream, can't I?
And that would set the atheists straight once and for all. Then they could use all the money they spend on their absurd and disrespectful anti-God billboards, to do some good in the world by helping the poor, with that money.
Jesus, only you can turn this world around, evangelize the world according to Gospel values, only you can bring back the youth, purify the Church and turn back the tide on the lure of secularism. Give it some thought and I'll give it some prayer time. And if it's not God's will, then please send the power of the Holy Spirit to guide the Cardinals to make the right choice. Amen.
NJA

What the electors are really looking for is, 'Jesus Christ with an MBA'".......
Rev. Thomas Reese

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

"Sede Vacante"-Yet Christ Is Still Present/Teilhard's Prayers

During this historic time in Church history, when Pope Benedict has retired and is in residence at Castel Gondolfo and there is no reigning pope, ("sede vacante"- the seat being vacant) each Catholic is dealing with this unusual situation in their own way. One poor priest who must be overly stressed and depressed, is reported to have set fire to a photo of Pope Benedict during Sunday Mass. (He felt abandoned.)Obviously, this is a rare and strange incident, since Catholics throughout the world are praying for the ailing Pope and for the College of Cardinals, during this transition period.  I think it's best to keep focused on Jesus, since Jesus is the Divine head of the Church. In preparation for a workshop today, I was reading Teilhard de Chardin's book, "Hymn of the Universe." Teilhard who was a controversial priest/scientist in his own time, has been vindicated by the last two Popes and his writings about the sacredness of matter and the Cosmic Christ resonate in the modern world. There are some beautiful prayers in "Hymn of the Universe" and the one below struck me today and helped me to center myself on Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today, tomorrow and into the future. This prayer is a reminder that God is in charge and "all will be well." Staying close to Jesus is the only way to live and stay focused and centered through tumultuous times.
NJA

Lord Jesus Christ, you truly contain within your gentleness, within your humanity, all the unyielding immensity and grandeur of the world. And it is because of this, it is because there exists in you this ineffable synthesis of what our human thought and experience would never have dared join together in order to adore them-element and totality, the one and the many, mind and matter, the infinite and the personal; it is because of the indefinable contours which this complexity gives to your appearance and to your activity, that my heart, enamoured of cosmic reality, gives itself passionately to you. I love you, Lord Jesus, because of the multitude who shelter within you and whom, if one clings closely to you, one can hear with all the other beings murmuring, praying, weeping........."  (Teilhard- "The Presence of God in the world")

I live at the heart of a single, unique Element, the Centre of the Universe and present in each part of it: personal love and cosmic Power.  ("Christ in the world of matter")