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.

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.

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!"

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.

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.