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.

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"- ( 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.

*6 Month Update  (Thank God for the progress!)
*One Year Update (More Good News-Thank God!)

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.

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.

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?